Category Archives: General history

Lorem Ipsum – Did you know??

If you’re an application programmer, web developer or graphic designer, you’ve probably come across the “Lorem Ipsum” text more than once. The text is commonly used as a place holder text to demonstrate the presentational elements of a document such as layout, fonts and typography by removing the distraction of meaningful content. (In short you can’t understand it so you don’t bother reading it, you end up focusing on the layout more than you do content)

Historically It can be traced to Marcus Tullius Cicero  (a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator and political theorist)  who in his text  Boundaries of Goods and Evils argues out the relationship between pleasure and pain and men’s constant need to either seek it or avoid it.

Cicero

The place holder text in itself is meaningless when translated to English, as it only picks a few parts of Cicero’s text and combines them into unstructured sentences. However, the original text taken from   H. Rackham’s 1914 translation of the Loeb Classical Library edition reads:::

 “But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing of a pleasure and praising pain was born…

No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful.

Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure….

In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. ….….

The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.”

It is not exactly known when today’s version of Lorem Ipsum was used a place holder text, but it was highly popularized in the 1980’s by Apple Macintosh’s Aldus publishing program. Today  many programs have auto-generate features that automatically place Lorem Ipsum text within code/ paragraphs  these include Microsoft office, Dreamweaver , WordPress and many more.

For instance, If you want to insert “Lorem Ipsum” text in your word document just open up a new document and type..

=lorem() and press the enter key

lorem1

and just like that, you have your Lorem Ipsum text

lorem2

So next time you see “Lorem Ipsum” text lying around somewhere, you’ll appreciate the history behind it.As opposed to seeing it as a bunch of jumbled up Latin words you’ll know it tells a lonesome story of pleasure and pain and the inevitable relationship between them.

Egg of Columbus

Ever had those moments when you’re facing a really difficult problem and you’ve been scratching your head so hard you could  pulverize your finger nails trying to solve it? And just as you’re about to conclude that the “question” is the one with the problem, someone comes along and takes a few minutes to figure it out and you’re left there blaming the education system you went through. Because obviously the problem isn’t you?

If so, then you can pretty much relate with the “Egg of Columbus”. The “Egg of Columbus” does not refer to some gourmet meal or some exotic type of egg found in South America (:-P), it merely refers to a brilliant idea or something that hasn’t been thought of, yet when done seems amazingly easy.

350px-Columbus_Breaking_the_Egg'_(Christopher_Columbus)_by_William_Hogarth (1)

The origin of the term can be traced back to the Italian writer and historian Girolamo Benzoni who in his book “History of a new world” (1565) wrote:

“Columbus was dining with many Spanish nobles when one of them said:

‘Sir Christopher, even if your Lordship had not discovered the Indies, there would have been, here in Spain which is a country abundant with great men knowledgeable in cosmography and literature, one who would have started a similar adventure with the same result.’

Columbus did not respond to these words but asked for a whole egg to be brought to him. He placed it on the table and said:

‘My lords, I will lay a wager with any of you that you are unable to make this egg stand on its end like I will do without any kind of help or aid.’

They all tried without success and when the egg returned to Columbus, he tapped it gently on the table breaking it slightly and, with this, the egg stood on its end.

All those present were confounded and understood what he meant: that once the feat has been done, anyone knows how to do it.  “

So my faithful Agorians, as you go about your business today, don’t let anyone make you feel like your accomplishments are too easy or meaningless, if they haven’t done it, they probably had no clue how to go about it. Remember our achievements define us, so always be proud of Your “Egg of Columbus”!

Ship wrecked

Christopher Columbus-Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella (King and Queen of Spain)

“33 days after my departure,I reached the Indian sea,where I discovered many islands with many people .I took possession of them without resistance in the name of our most illustrious King.As soon as we arrived ,at that Island named Juana. I sailed along its coast a short distance westward and found it to be so large that I though it was a province of Cathay.

I then sailed eastward along the coast.This brought me to the end of the island.From this point I saw another island lying to the east.On this island we found mountains of great size and beauty,vast plains and fruitful fields.The land is also suited for farming ,pastures and settling.

Now my Lord treasurer,I have described to you the events of my voyage and the advantages of these new lands.I promise that with a little assistance from our King and Queen ,I will get as much gold ,as they need and as great quantity of spices ,of cotton ,of gum.I can also provide as many men for the service of their majesties’ navy as they may require”

Columbus made four voyages in all across the Atlantic but they ended in disappointment,for he failed to find the silks, jewels and spices of the Indies.He died in poverty and neglect,never realising that he had discovered the new world.But despite using subjective assumptions,a false hypothesis and a route abandoned by modern navigation,Columbus nevertheless discovered America.

Ship wrecked