Friday, November 21, 2008

What is Tagalog for "toggle"?

Typing the title of this post, I saw the words turned into apparently meaningless character combinations: &#2352,&#2381, etc. That had me scratching my head, until I remembered that I had turned on a setting that enables transliteration into Hindi. I'm all for promoting international understanding and am aware that Hindi is the world's fourth-most spoken language, but I still felt that I ought to click the new transliteration toggle on my toolbar (itself a Hindi character looking something like 3-T) and turn the thing off for now. English has been the language of trade and technology, but now, we have the launch of India's Chandrayaan-1 unmanned lunar orbiter, as well as China's Chang'e-1 space craft, which doesn't mean "change," but considering China's growing economic clout, might as well. I think Chandrayaan is Sanskrit for "We're catching up with you, USA."

Chinese scientists, rather like the beings from the future obligingly reconstructing Frances O'Connor from a single strand of hair in Spielberg's film AI, worked from a single moon rock given as a goodwill gesture by the United States; according to Time: "China's true fascination has long been the moon--at least since 1978, when the U.S. presented Beijing with a 1-g (.035 oz.) sample of lunar rock brought back by the Apollo 17 mission. Chinese officials razored off half of that moon crumb and gave it to scientists to study. 'From that half a gram, we produced 40 papers,' space scientist Ouyang Ziyuan told the People's Daily."

Meanwhile, NASA left all its data analyses of moon dust on tape drives that could only be played on equipment last manufactured in the 1960s, and on my single visit to the Kennedy Space Center, in 1979, the tour guide could not say the word "spacecraft," which he continually pronounced spacecran. All I can say is that if I had to travel to the moon, which takes about 4 days, I would want to listen to this on the way, certainly one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

The AdSense ads finally appeared, though nowadays, any interval in which ads do not appear is more remarkable; I suppose I can understand the frequent ads for suicide prevention, since I mentioned the Jonestown suicide, though the frequent ads for removing belly fat, while certainly reflecting a private goal, don't seem related to anything I've discussed here. As I checked the single piece of spam in my G-mail inbox this morning, Google helpfully offered an ad for "Tasty Spam Crescents." It wouldn't hurt for the ad writers to avail themselves of a spell check utility; so far, I've seen "jewerly," "recieve," and "entrepeneur."

© Michael Huggins, 2008. All rights reserved.

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