All posts by Ŝejno

Millions and Billions – granda estas la diferenco!

Mi pensas, ke multaj homoj ne vere scias la diferencon inter 1,000,000 (“million”, angle) kaj 1,000,000,000 (“billion”, angle).

1,000,000 sekundoj estas proksimume 11.5 tagoj, sed 1,000,000,000 estas plu ol 30 jaroj.

Por mia amikaro, kiuj ne studis ĉi-tiun verdan lingvon de Esperanto:

A million seconds is about 11.5 days, but a billion seconds is over 30 years.

And in case you are wondering, a trillion seconds is 31,688 years.


Million vs Billion vs Trillion


La Bela Marso Projekto – [NASA’s 1st feed in Esperanto!]

La retejo de la HiRISE Esperanto Tumblr estas nun malfermita al la tuta mondo!

Ĉe la retejo, oni povas vidi mirindajn bildojn de Marso kun nekredebla distingivo!

La bildoj ĉe la retejo estas vere vidindaj, do iru kaj vidu!

Dankojn al NASA kaj l’Universitato de Arizono por la bonegaj bildoj.

[Dunes on cement substrate]
Dunoj sur cementa subtavolo

I am now working for NASA!

Well, kinda. I am doing some volunteer translating work for a NASA program that distributes photos from HiRISE (a high resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) to the public. But hey; work is work! And I suppose that I could fairly easily argue that work without pay is more work than the same work with it – thus; I work for NASA.


Here is is the link to the English version of what I will be translating:

The Ides of March!

In the days of ancient Rome, the Ides were certain days on the Roman calendar, usually the 13th day of the month, but the 15th of the month in March, May, July and October. The Ides marked the middle of the month, and used to be marked by the Full Moon, as the Roman calendar was originally lunar based. The oldest Roman calendar started with Martius, now known to us as March – this would make the Ides of March the first Full Moon of the New Year, as reckoned by our ancient Roman ancestors.

The negative connotation of the Ides of March comes from the death of Julius Caesar on March 15th in the year 44 BC.

Julius Caesar had been warned by a soothsayer (thought to be a haruspex*, or someone who inspected the entrails [usually, livers] of sacrificed animals) that danger would befall him before the Ides of March have passed. When that day came – the 15th of March in 44 BC – Caesar passed the soothsayer and said tauntingly “The Ides of March have come”, implying that the prophecy was false, but to which the soothsayer replied “Aye, Caesar, the Ides are come but not gone.” Shortly thereafter Julius Caesar was assassinated by dozens of those who had conspired against him. Caesar’s death by betrayal was a period of change – the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire.

This is recounted in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, which made famous the phrase “Beware the Ides of March”.

*Haruspicy is a form of divination where the livers of sacrificed animals are inspected for certain signs. This ancient practice is mentioned in the Bible, in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 21, verse 21:

“For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household idols, he looks at the liver.”


A friend of mine asked a speaker if he could say, in his language, how many spears he had. None of the Australian aboriginal languages has any words for numbers other than 1 and 2, so all he could do was list them. He said, “Well, I have a ceremonial spear, a long throwing spear, a shorter throwing spear, a jabbing spear and a broad blade spear.” “That makes five,” my friend said. “If you say so,” he agreed. “If I took one away,” my friend asked, “how many would you have left?” “Well,” he replied, “it depends on which one you took away, doesn’t it?”

— Peter Ladefoged, English-American linguist

What do Jove and YHWH have in common?

They are pronounced the same!

Jove or Iove, also known as Jupiter was the chief god of the Romans. However, the Romans did not have a letter ‘J’ – they had an ‘I’ instead. Also, in classical Latin, the ‘v’ is pronounced more like a ‘w’, so “Jove” would have sounded like: “yoweh”

which is remarkably similar to the Hebrew name for God (though traditionally unspoken), יהוה which is commonly transliterated “YHWH” – “yaweh”.

Since we are on the subject, Zeus is the the Greek version of Iove. Zeus comes from the ancient root word for “God” (similarly, we have “deus” in Latin, and  देव [“deva”] in Sanskrit).

This curiosity was noticed when I was musing on the similarity between the Latin “vir” for “man”, and the Old English “wer”, which carried the same meaning. The only modern vestige in English of “wer” that I can think of, is in the word “werewolf”. Anyway, my mind wondered and led me to the similarity of “Iove” and “יהוה“.

One more fun tidbit: Today is Thursday, which was named after Jove/Jupiter. In Latin, “Thursday” is “Iovis Dies”.

OK, fine, one more tidbit: This post was posted during the first hour of Jupiter on the day of Jupiter, according to ancient reckonings. To figure out what in the world I am talking about, here is a link to wikipedia’s page on planetary hours.

Today is “Dismal” … no seriously, etymology inside

Guess what? Today is one of 24 specific days of the year that are designated as “bad days” and have been for ages.

It’s where the word “dismal” comes from – in Latin, dies mali.

The list of dies mali or dies Aegyptiaci are as follows:

  • January 1 and 25
  • February 4 and 26
  • March 1 and 28
  • April 10 and 20
  • May 3 and 25
  • June 10 and 16
  • July 13 and 22
  • August 1 and 30
  • September 3 and 21
  • October 3 and 22
  • November 5 and 28
  • December 7 and 22

For what it’s worth, the last dies mali, February 4th, our office flooded and the water damage ruined a ceiling, a floor, a desk, and lots of paperwork. So in short, sometimes bad days are bad days, and if they have been marked as such on calendars for many centuries, perhaps one might do better to pay them heed than to ignore them, because what’s going to happen is going to happen!

More here.

EDITED TO ADD:, the first major bitcoin exchange shuttered its doors today. Their website shows only this message:

February 26th 2014

Dear MtGox Customers,

As there is a lot of speculation regarding MtGox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan, and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues.

Furthermore I would like to kindly ask that people refrain from asking questions to our staff: they have been instructed not to give any response or information. Please visit this page for further announcements and updates.

Mark Karpeles

Dear MtGox Customers,

In light of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox’s operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly.

Best regards,
MtGox Team

Dies mali, indeed!

So Mercury is retrograde again…

What your thoughts are on astrology, I do not know. However, one who denies the influences of angles and of heavenly bodies upon life on Earth is one who denies night and day and the four seasons along with the tides.

When Mercury is retrograde (that is, when Mercury appears to move backwards in the sky, as viewed from Earth, compared to its usual path), communications and related things tend to go awry more often than perhaps they otherwise would.

In 2014 the dates during which Mercury is retrograde are as follows:

February 6th to February 28th
June 7th to July 2nd
October 4th to October 25th

During the current retrograde period, I have have had two companies send me emails by or with mistakes, and then send emails apologizing and explaining their mistakes.

Donato’s tried to send me a coupon for a pizza, but later emailed me (and presumably many others) again to say that they had mistakenly left off the coupon code, and that they were sorry.

My bank also sent out an email about a feature that would no longer be offered… and then they sent an email saying that that was a mistake, and that it did not apply to my account.

What actually prompted this post, however, was that my parents mentioned that they too had received an email from their financial institution concerning a different matter, but it too was by mistake, and that bank had also issued an explanation and an apology.

All of the above happened when Mercury was retrograde. Perhaps thousands of years of the world’s wisest men watching the skies and the world around them were not spent in vain. Maybe there is something to it…

Whenever you want to find out if Mercury is retrograde, there is this handy site:

Fun fact: Today is Wednesday, called dies Mercurii in Latin, because it is named for Mercury!

The first of likely many language/word/etymology related posts

“Russians” in Esperanto = “Rusoj”

“Bears” in Esperanto = “Ursoj”

[the “oj” part means it’s plural, but really you should just go ahead and learn Esperanto. It’ll take you all of 5 minutes {I am exaggerating, but not by much}]

See? It’s an anagram! I found it rather amusing that the Esperanto words for “russian” and “bear” were so connected, given Russia’s symbolic association with bears.

Quasi-relatedly, thumbing through my Esperanto-English dictionary, I found that the Esperanto word for “cannabis” is “kanabo”, which is similar to both “Kanado” (Canada) and “knabo” (boy). With Esperanto’s word-building (vortfarado), you can do a lot of things that aren’t even possible in English, such as make a word for “Canadian cannabis” – “kanada kanabo”, the comparative phrase, can be made into a single, valid, Esperanto word: “kanadkanabo”.

There are, of course, many more such things, but I have to stop somewhere, and right now, that’s here. Refer to the resources I posted here to learn Esperanto.