April 26th, 2020

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Of names, knowledge..and showing off

What the scientific, erudite types have to realize: When an Ordinary Person sees a beautiful grasshopper, s/he is quite interested.

But if told that it is a Cyrtacanthacris tatarica tatarica, and that the classification is Animalia > Arthropoda > Insecta > Orthoptera > Acridoidea > Acrididae > Cyrtacanthacridinae > Cyrtacanthacris > Cyrtacanthacris tatarica (Linnaeus, 1758) > Cyrtacanthacris tatarica tatarica (Linnaeus, 1758), s/he would 1) be totally zapped and bewildered, 2) lose interest.

Of course, a side effect would be 3) being very impressed by the person who is giving that information...which may have actually been just gleaned off the Internet (as I did.) This whole thing of having ids in a long-dead language and translating that Latin (and Greek) in a suitably pseudo-friendly, condescending way to These Lesser Mortals is something I find many scientists (and pseudo scientists from WhatsApp University) guilty of.

And it's true of every field of human endeavour. I appear much more knowledgeable if, instead of saying, "enjoy this rAgam", I say, "listen to the prayOgams of Podalangapriya"; more learned-sounding if, instead of "enjoy the rocky landscape", I say, "Look at the mixture of metaingenious rock and the patterns of the earlyite (not the laterite)"; instead of "Look at how beautiful that fish-shaped cloud is", I say, "Columbusnimbu clouds take on so many interesting forms"..and so it goes. Not you, of course, and never me...but Those Others...!
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Some more doggerel...

April 26, 2018 at 5:53 PM ·

Butterfly on the Moon. (Nonsense verse inspired by a conversation on the Bangalore Butterfly Club, where Kesava asked how much a butterfly would weigh on the moon!

Thought the butterfly as she flitted over the moon,
"I can't stay here, I'll have to leave soon.
"It is a matter that's sad to state
"But on this place, alas, I have hardly any weight.
"How can I lay eggs or perpetuate my race
"If I can't even land but float off in space?
"Alas!" she added, " I may be over the moon
"But it's the worth of the Earth that is my greatest boon."

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Jezebel, Baevu trip, 091016