Tag Archives: Facebook

How Did the Present-day Numerals Derive Their Form?


Myself 

 

 

BT.V. Antony Raj

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Numbers (Source: express.co.uk)

Numbers (Source: express.co.uk)

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A number in mathematics is an object used to count and measure. 1, 2, 3, and so forth are examples of natural numbers. In common usage, the term number may refer to a symbol, a word, or a mathematical abstraction.

The English names for the cardinal numbers were derived ultimately from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language, the supposed proto-language that existed anywhere between 4000 and 8000 years ago. PIE was the first proposed proto-language to be widely accepted by linguists. With time, the pronunciation shifted and changed.

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Numeral Modern English Old English Proto-Germanic Proto-Indo-Germanic
1 one an ainaz oi-no
(originally meaning one, unique)originally meaning one, unique)
2 two twa twai duwo
3 three þ reoreoreoreo
(þ  here is the orthography for “th” as in “thing”)
thrijiz tris-
4 four feower petwor Kwetwer
5 five fif fimfe Penkwe-
6 six siex sekhs seks
7 seven seofon Sebum septm
8 eight eahta or æhta akhto Okto(u)-
9 nine nigen (the /g/ here is pronounced lije the y in “young”. Petwor- newn
10 ten ten tekhan dekm

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A numeral is a notational symbol that represents a number. We use the Hindu-Arabic numerals 0 to 9 every day. But how did these Hindu-Arabic numerals derive their form? It is a puzzle to me.

Some folk etymologies have argued that the original forms of these symbols indicated their value through the number of angles they contained, but no evidence exists of any such origin.

Recently I came across a statement that elaborated on the folk etymologies. It said:

“Numbers were named after the number of angles they represented, and each angle represented a quantity. For example, the number one has one angle, number two has two angles and so on. They have to be written with straight lines (not curved).”

I found the following image on Facebook.

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Numerals and angles
Numerals and angles

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Many have copied and propagated this image – the concept of angles associated with numbers. One can find them on Facebook and on many websites, explaining that this is how the numerals obtained their values.

But this claim seems to be spurious like many other urban legends. For example, 0 (zero) would have four angles if it is written with straight lines like the other numerals. So, here lies the fallacy.

So, I am still in a quandary.

Are there any authentic, rational explanation for how the present form of the Hindu-Arabic numerals we use today was derived?

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In Real Life and on Facebook!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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FB I want my friends back
Note: This was originally posted in Tamil on Facebook by an anonymous person! On reading the original I beat my breast and said: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Lord, I too have erred! I am no exception.”

******

This is what most people post on Facebook!

After bribing the traffic police:

Let us do away with bribe

The once erratic drivers and riders after marrying and begetting children:

Obey road rules!

After bargaining with their labourers:

Down with capitalism!

After drinking Pepsi and devouring KFC chicken:

For economic growth of our country drink king coconuts.
Save our country from foreign entrepreneurs!

The guy who rides his bike to go to the next street:

Save the environment. Avoid pollution!

Romeos who ogle women on the street:

Respect Women. They are like your mothers and sisters!

The person jealous of his neighbour who earns 10 rupees more:

Unite. We are all brothers!

One who takes two steps back when an old destitute stretches her hand towards him:

Help the poor and the needy. Let us eradicate poverty!

The guys who show a quick face for namesake at the funeral of his neighbour:

My heart bleeds for those dying in Palestine, Israel, Africa and Timbuktu…

Fellows who don’t even speak a few words with his mother:

Writes pages of poetry about love for one’s mother!

Some men

Though stingy, project themselves as philanthropists on Facebook!

And some women

Flirt in life, but manifest as a virtuous person on Facebook!

How about you?

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My Impromptu Advice to a Youth


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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FB - No friends to show (Small)

Last week, a youth from Andhra befriended me on Facebook. He had joined Facebook recently. I visited his page and clicked on “Friends” and found to my surprise it showed “No friends to show”.

Last night when I was logged into FB, this youth came on-line to chat with me.

Here is a part of the verbatim conversation:

He: sir u have gud stuff in ur page sir (sic)

Me: Thanks Uxxx.

He: you r welcome sir (sic)

Me: Did you visit my website: http://tvaraj.com ?

He: sir i had good communication skills with me,i can face people,i can motivate people and i am hard worker sir how can i use theses all things for my life and for the nation

am really cnfused

am also good at acting sir

any advice from ur xperience (sic)

Me: Uxxx, we belong to different way of looking at life due to our age difference. So, I never give advice to young people. Sorry.

I have been smitten many times and burnt my fingers and my image by advising youngsters.

He: it’s ok sir no need to tell sorry i jst tried (sic)

I felt sorry for this youngster and the ‘teacher’ inside me gave in and my fingers started typing:

Me: What I find in you is that you are quick learner. Last time I communicated with you, you were using a lot of short cuts. Today, I find you completely changed. Keep it up.

When I was young, I was pulled in to act in the main parts in all college dramas. It gave me courage to face any number of people. But I would say this: “If you want to make a mark in life, forget about acting.”

Don’t emulate film stars and never have them as your idols.

Next, forget about the nation. Always remember “Charity begins at home.”

You are part of the nation, your parents are also part of the nation. If you and your parents grow, the nation will prosper automatically.

So, first obey your parents and don’t let their hearts bleed. In Tamil we have the saying “Maathaa-Pithaa, Guru, Deivam” meaning “[Honour your] parents, teachers, and gods [in that order.]”

When I say parents, it includes your own brothers and sisters also. Your family.

After you have done the needful for your parents and made them happy, then you can think about your poor relatives who are in need.

So, it will take a long time to fulfill these tasks. Be honest with yourself and your friends and relatives.

Forget about taking active part in politics because all politicians are just rogues bent on making money only.

Don’t trust and go after priests of any religion. They too are cheats bent on making money by blessing you.

There is a saying in Tamil: “koduppavanai kandaal deivam kunangi kunangi aadumaam” meaning “if a god sees a donor, it will start dancing obsequiously.”

Here ‘god’ means those rascals in temples and houses of worship and the devil dancers who act as if the gods or demons, the Holy Spirit, etc., have entered into their body and start dancing feverishly and holler nonsense. That is ‘talking in tongues’.

The real blessings come from your parents and your own elders.

After that I waited for about 15 minutes for his response. But there was none from him.

Today morning, when I logged in to FB, I saw the following:

He: thnk u sir goldn wrd (sic)

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Friends on Facebook


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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“Facebook is a contemporary form of idleness and I have witnessed its being the conduit of anxiety and even enmity, forging ethereal friendships and trading real and imagined slights. Facebook’s interactions go from trivia to paranoia.” - Farrukh Dhondy in “Cabbages & Kings: Hacked off” (Published in Deccan Chronicle)

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Facebook

Before the advent of the Internet, whenever I met someone for the first time, that person would ask me for my phone number, but now, people do not bother about telephone numbers, instead they ask me if I am on Facebook (FB).

Yes, I am on Facebook. I have two groups of friends: “My Family and Family Friends” and “My Computer Students, other Student Friends and colleagues”.

There are 180 members in the first group and 266 members in the second group.

I do not believe in having thousands of unknown people as friends, who comment with trivial phrases such as “He he he”, “Good morning”, etc., and are interested in knowing what cine and TV actors like to eat for breakfast or where and with whom they slept the previous night.

Though I choose my friends, I do err sometimes.

I am now 73-years-old and value what little bit of my time I have still to live. I really get annoyed when some come to chat online without any purpose and waste my time. Here is a brief chat I had with a so-called ‘friend’ a few days ago:

So called friend: sir neenga enga work panuringa (Sir where do you work)

Me: What prompted you to ask this question?

So called friend: sir your post status and other activities in fb. R u a media person (sic)

Me: Now, I am a retired person.

So called friend: ha ha ha fine sir

What do you think I gained from this conversation?

In the first instance, I okayed this young person, about 50 years younger than myself, to be my friend on FB for the main reason he had studied in 2008 in one of the schools I taught. Also, he had studied in the same college that I studied. Now, after this frivolous chat I have earmarked this person as a candidate to be deleted from my list of friends on Facebook.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Airline Ad Is a Hoax


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.Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

Copywriters persuade people to buy or use a product by writing eye-catching, meaningful advertisements.

At times people can be ingenious and for fun alter a copywriter’s creation and play havoc with other people’s beliefs and trust.

I came across the following Malaysia Airlines advertisement posted on Facebook.

Boeing - Lose yourself on a journey.  The fake ad.
Boeing – Lose yourself on a journey. The fake ad.

This advertisement shocked me. At first I thought the copywriter who created this advertisement must be a modern-day prophet who must have had a premonition of the future.

I define “prophecy” as the process of communicating to others about events that are due to take place in the future. This knowledge about the future can be the outcome of communication received from a divine or a supernatural entity or arising from one’s own frustration or wishful thinking. The person who foretells the so-called future events is given the hallowed label “prophet” by those who believe him, or slapped with a profane label “jerk” by those who feel he is a nut who ought to be institutionalized.

As usual, I dived in to find whether such an ad was ever published by Malaysia Airlines.

This image purported to be an old Malaysia Airlines ad is a sick joke in bad taste. Posted on social networks, it has gone viral at a time when people are worried about the fate of the 239 people on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

No such ad was ever created or published by Malaysia Airlines. It is a gigantic hoax.

No such ad was ever created or published by Malaysia Airlines. It is a gigantic hoax. The plane pictured in the ad is not a Boeing 777. It is an Airbus A380.

In fact, I came across the following  two  advertisements published by Malaysia Airlines in 2012 using the image of Airbus A380.

Malaysia Airlines Original ad - 1
Malaysia Airlines Original ad – 1

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Malaysia Airlines Original ad - 2
Malaysia Airlines Original ad – 2

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Why do some people deliberately fabricate falsehood made to masquerade as truth such this? Why should some attempt to misinform fellow beings?

A hoax is obviously a form of vandalism. Misinformation misleads people making them commit judgmental errors with real consequences, including hurt feelings, public embarrassment, etc. Misinformation in some articles, like medical topics, could lead to health injury or even death. So, why don’t the perpetrators of hoaxes use their resources to create useful topics that could help people instead of deceiving them?

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Price of Petrol Around the World!


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Price of Petrol around the world (Posted in Facebook)
Price of Petrol around the world (Posted in Facebook)

I came across the above picture posted on Facebook. Any rational thinker would surely realize that the aim of the person who originally posted this rubbish was to mislead gullible Indians and malign the powers that currently rule the country.

A few Indians have the false notion that whatever appears in the social media or get printed in the traditional media such as newspapers and magazines is the gospel truth, and to keep up with the Joneses they just copy it on their social media pages without delving into the truth. Do you think these prices are correct? The person who prepared  this falsehood needs some coaching in basic arithmetic. Just look at this: Petrol Price around the world - Arithmetiic

11.80 + 9.75 + 4 + 8 = 33.55%

and

33.55% of र16.5 is र5.5275

so,,

र16.5 + र5.5275 = र22.0275

How did this person arrive at the figure of र50.05? Did he leave out any tax or other levies?

Petrol prices in India (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)
Petrol prices in India in Indian Rupees (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

The above graph shows the price of petrol in India from September, 2012 to February, 2014 with the average value during this period was र80.75 with a minimum of र73.82 in November, 2013 and a maximum of र89.94 in September, 2012.

Petrol prices in India and other countries  (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)
Petrol prices in India and other countries (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

Compared to the average price of petrol in the world, India is relatively cheaper. Petrol in India is 15% cheaper than the world average of र95.18. The average price of petrol around the world in February, 2014 is र90. 67 per liter. Though all countries have access to the same petroleum prices of international markets, they impose various taxes on petroleum products and offer subsidies. Hence, the retail price of petrol differs substantially among countries.

As a general rule, countries that produce and export oil sell petrol to their nationals at much lower prices while rich countries charge higher prices. However, the economically advanced United States have a comparatively low price of gasoline – $0.88 (र55. 15) per liter.

In Venezuela, the government subsidizes gasoline and the Venezuelans pay almost nothing to drive their cars at $0.03 (र1.70) per liter.

Gasoline Prices around the world in February 2014 (Source: globalpetrolprices.com)

Country

US

Dollars

Indian Rupees

 

 

 

Venezuela

0.03

   1.70

Iran

0.12

  7.64

Saudi Arabia

0.20

12.73

Kuwait

0.23

14.43

Qatar

0.24

15.27

Bahrain

0.27

16.97

Oman

0.39

24.61

Egypt

0.39

24.61

Yemen

0.45

28.00

Brunei

0.50

31.40

Bolivia

0.53

33.09

Ecuador

0.68

42.43

Kazakhstan

0.72

44.97

Sudan

0.79

49.21

Angola

0.83

51.76

Malaysia

0.87

54.31

USA

0.88

55.15

Indonesia

0.92

57.70

Mexico

0.94

58.55

Belarus

0.98

61.09

Ghana

0.98

61.09

Iraq

0.99

61.94

Argentina

0.99

61.94

Pakistan

1.06

66.19

Zimbabwe

1.07

67.03

Maldives

1.07

67.03

Jamaica

1.07

67.03

Namibia

1.07

67.03

Kyrgyzstan

1.09

67.88

Georgia

1.13

70.43

Guatemala

1.14

71.28

Canada

1.14

71.28

Russia

1.14

71.28

Taiwan

1.17

72.97

Ethiopia

1.17

72.97

Botswana

1.18

73.82

Sierra Leone

1.20

74.67

Tunisia

1.20

74.67

Guinea

1.21

75.52

South Africa

1.21

75.52

Vietnam

1.21

75.52

Brazil

1.22

76.37

Syria

1.22

76.37

Philippines

1.22

76.37

Lesotho

1.24

77.22

Bhutan

1.24

77.22

India

1.25

78.07

Liberia

1.25

78.07

Bangladesh

1.25

78.07

Ukraine

1.27

78.91

Sri Lanka

1,28

79.76

Tanzania

1.28

79.76

Kenya

1.29

80.61

Costa Rica

1.29

80.61

Nepal

1.29

80.61

Tajikistan

1.31

81.46

Moldova

1.32

82.31

Benin

1.33

83.16

Australia

1.36

84.85

China

1.37

85.70

Swaziland

1.37

85.70

Uganda

1.37

85.70

Nigeria

1.37

85.70

Niger

1.37

85.70

Armenia

1.39

86.55

Mozambique

1.41

88.25

Jordan

1.41

88.25

Mongolia

1.41

88.25

Domin. Rep.

1.44

89.94

Lebanon

1.44

89.94

Fiji

1.47

91.64

Thailand

1.47

91.64

Cambodia

1.47

91.64

Mauritania

1.48

92.49

Peru

1.51

94.19

Togo

1.51

94.19

Burkina Faso

1.52

95.04

Rwanda

1.52

95.04

Japan

1.52

95.04

Cameroon

1.54

95.88

Chile

1.55

96.73

Morocco

1.58

98.43

Ivory Coast

1.59

99.28

DR Congo

1.62

100.98

Laos

1.62

100.98

R. of Congo

1.63

101.82

Paraguay

1.63

101.82

Bosnia and Herz.

1.66

103.52

Cape Verde

1.67

104.37

Mauritius

1.67

104.37

Chad

1.69

105.22

Poland

1.70

106.07

Andorra

1.70

106.07

Romania

1.73

107.76

Macedonia

1.73

107.76

Singapore

1.74

108.61

Hungary

1.74

108.61

Latvia

1.74

108.61

Estonia

1.74

108.61

Luxembourg

1.75

109.46

South Korea

1.75

109.46

Lithuania

1.77

110.31

Zambia

1.77

110.31

Bulgaria

1.77

110.31

Albania

1.78

111.16

Czech Rep.

1.78

112.01

Malawi

1.80

112.01

Croatia

1.80

112.01

Colombia

1.81

112.86

Serbia

1.81

112.86

Mali

1.82

113.70

Burundi

1.82

113.70

New Zealand

1.82

113.70

Austria

1.84

114.55

Senegal

1.85

115.40

Montenegro

1.86

116.25

Switzerland

1.89

117.95

Spain

1.90

118.79

Cyprus

1.90

118.79

Uruguay

1.92

119.64

Madagascar

1.95

121.34

Slovenia

1.95

121.34

Slovakia

1.96

122.19

Malta

1.96

122.19

France

2.04

127.28

Djibouti

2.08

129.83

Sweden

2.08

129.83

Ireland

2.08

129.83

Iceland

2.12

132.37

UK

2.14

133.22

Hong Kong

2.16

134.92

Germany

2.16

134.92

Israel

2.16

134.92

Belgium

2.18

135.77

Portugal

2.18

135.77

C.A. Republic

2.19

136.61

Finland

2.20

137.46

Greece

2.26

140.86

Turkey

2.26

140.86

Denmark

2.30

143.40

Netherlands

2.39

149.34

Italy

2.41

150.19

Norway

2.86

178.19

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Hats off to the owner of this house!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Tree house

I proudly shared the above photograph of a house I came across on facebook.

The owner of the house, I presume, must be a lover of nature and a “Save the Trees” activist because he has built the house including the tree that was obstructing the frontage of his house.

Clever thinking, isn’t it?

Impressed by this builder’s feat, I chipped in and wrote: “Hats off to the owner of this house.”

However, my friend Joe Croos from Germantown, Maryland, USA, cut my ego down to size with his wise quip:

If I were the local thief the owner would be my sweetheart.

I realized my folly for not thinking about the security and safety of the people living in that house and so, I acknowledged Joe’s shrewdness:

Joe, I did not think from your angle. You are indeed a genius …

The Tree house

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A Night With The Moon…


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This poem appeared on May 27, 2011 in Facebook. The author Sonia Kargutkar is a student at St. Francis Institute of Technology (SFIT), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. –  T.V. Antony Raj

Sonia Kargutkar

By Sonia Kargutkar

The pale moon stared at me,
Through the dense, gloomy clouds,
I wondered whether she could see,
My pain and anguish throughout..

stared back with tear-filled eyes,
The dark place in my chest hurt hard,
It seemed to me she did realise,
My dreams and life had been charred..

Her stare continued to pierce my soul,
But i did not dare to blink,
I wanted her to know me whole,
Before the sun rose, and she’d sink..!

So, i pleaded to her in soft whispers,
To stay for a li’l longer,
She understood, for the clouds dispersed,
They parted to make way for her..

Filled with gratitude, i said, ” Thank you ”
And she simply seemed to smile,
I think she was a li’l lonely too,
Cause she kept me company for a while..

My heart went out to her as i cried,
She’d accepted me so soon,
She tried cheering me up and sighed,
As i whimpered and i swooned..

I couldn’t hold it back anymore,
And i guess she couldn’t either,
Together, we wept till my eyes got sore,
Not a word was spoken to neither..

The tears washed away the pain,
And she gently seemed to say,
” Hope to see you tomorrow again,
After a bright, new, happy day..!

Thank you, thank you”, was all i said,
As i wiped my tear-stained face,
With a sweet grin that said she cared,
She slowly departed, into that unconfined space…

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11 Million Users Abandon Facebook


Users vacate Facebook over serious privacy concerns

By Julie Wilson
Infowars.com
September 17, 2013

A new report by the Daily Mail reveals Facebook users are abandoning the social media giant at an unprecedented rate over privacy concerns.

Computer keyboard

New research shows Facebook has lost a total of eleven million users, nine million in the US and two million in Britain. Researchers at the University of Vienna analyzed 600 users and found they quit for the following reasons:

Privacy concerns – 48.3 percent
General dissatisfaction – 13.5 percent
Shallow conversations – 12.6 percent
Fear of becoming addicted – 6 percent

Studies show the majority of users that quit the site were older males.

Facebook, among other tech giants, have been repeatedly under scrutiny for their lack of user privacy, including turning over thousands of user’s info to the government. In August, Infowars revealed Facebook submitted information on approximately 38,000 users in 74 countries during the first half of 2013.

Over half of the requests originated from inside of the United States. Tech giants are unable to reveal absolute numbers on how many requests they’ve submitted to because the government prohibits them from doing so. However, companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo have formed a unique alliance and are fighting back.

The tech alliance is putting pressure on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court by filing motions asking to publicly disclose more details about secret national intelligence requests, instead of  just releasing approximations.

“We believe there is more information that the public deserves to know, and that would help foster an informed debate about whether government security programs adequately balance privacy interests when attempting to keep the public safe,” said Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch.

“Editor of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking which published the findings, said: ‘Given high profile stories such as WikiLeaks and the recent NSA surveillance reports, individual citizens are becoming increasingly more wary of cyber-related privacy concerns,’” reported Mail Online.

Facebook has also been under close examination for their recently updated “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” policy which states users’ profile data including their profile picture, name and personal information “could show up as part of a Facebook ad their friends may see on the site,” according to a report by Mashable.

Even more controversy surrounded the social media giant when they announced the update of the “Tag Suggest” feature, which would allow facial recognition technology “to speed up the process of ‘tagging’ friends and acquaintances who appear in photos posed on the network,” reported Reuters.

As you can see, users’ concerns over privacy, or lack thereof, are certainly substantiated. However, if your information isn’t being collected through Facebook, NSA’s spy program, PRISM, is sure to scoop up your info in some other way, most likely through email or cellular data.

Re-posted from Infowars.com

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A Poem Published Under Several Names: “Look Closer”, “Kate”, “Crabbit Old Woman” …


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Recently, I came across the following post on Facebook:

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POEM.

The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!

In the above post, the story that introduces the poem is fictional. In fact, the origin of the poem is not known for sure. The claim that the poem was found among the belongings of an elderly male resident of a geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town has not been proved nor was it found among the possessions of any other old man who died in a hospital in Florida, or in any other equally fictional hospital in the United States.

An American poet, David L. Griffith of Fort Worth, Texas, adapted the original poem known under various names, changed the gender of the protagonist from an old woman to an old man and called it: “Too Soon Old.” The currently circulating version of the poem called the “Cranky Old Man” is a variant of the Griffith’s poem. It is also known as a “Crabby Old Man.”

Too Soon Old by David L. Griffith

What do you see, my friends, what do you see… what are you thinking when you’re looking at me?

A crabby old man, one not very wise, uncertain of habit, with far away eyes.
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply… when you say in a loud voice, “I wish you’d try?”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do, and forever is losing a sock or shoe.
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will… with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.

Is that what you’re thinking?
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes my friends, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still, as I live at your bidding, as I enjoy company at your will.

I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother, brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young boy of sixteen, a football in his hands and with wings on his feet, dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet.
A marine soon at eighteen — my heart gives a leap, remembering the oath that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have a platoon of my own, ‘who need me to guide them and secure a trip home.
A man of thirty, my youth now going too fast, hopefully bound to others with ties that should last.
At fifty my daughter and sons have grown and are gone, and I have no one beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At sixty no more babies play round my knee, again I know heartbreak, my loneliness and me.
Dark days are upon me, my dreams are all dead; I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own, and I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old man and nature is cruel; ’tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart, there is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young man still dwells, and now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain, and I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years; all too few.
Gone too fast, and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, my friends, open and see, not a crabby old man; look closer — see ME!!

~ © 1986-2001-2010 ~ ~ David L. Griffith ~

Crabbit Old Woman
Old Woman (Photo: Elaine Short)

The original poem itself has a long and somewhat perplexing history. It features an old woman as the protagonist rather than an old man and is set in the United Kingdom. Originating from a non-academic source, humbly vernacular in form, it has no obvious value beyond the immediate feelings it provokes on reading.

The poem has been included in various publications under different titles in the United Kingdom often accompanied by the claim that a copy of the original poem was found by the nursing staff among the belongings of an old woman named Kate who died in a hospital’s geriatric ward. Some versions claim that the hospital was located in Scotland. Others claim the hospital was in England or Wales.

A key contributory factor to this poem are the stories of its origins, stories which almost always accompany the poem wherever it appears and which, like the poem’s own words, is virtually unchanged since those early days such as:

The writer of this poem was unable to speak, although was seen to write from time to time. After her death, her locker was emptied, and this poem of her life was found. (Searle, 1973, p. 8).

and more recently:

Get the hankies ready…this one’ll get ya!

Crabbit old woman’s life has ended in a nursing home. While the nurse is
packing her meagre possessions, she finds a poem written to the staff of the
hospital by the apparently senile and mindless old lady. (Rexanne.com, 2005).

Another version of the origin of the poem says that it was found at Ashludie Hospital, Dundee; that copies were duplicated and distributed to all nurses in the hospital; that a young nurse at the hospital sent a copy to ‘Beacon House News’ at the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health'; and, that the author’s name was not known.

From time to time the mystery of the poem’s origins suraces. For example, in 2003, an entry on Seniors Network UK, mentions ‘Mattie’s Poem’, with the story that

Mattie was a very dear family friend. She had been a very bright 90 year-old but her body was badly ravaged by time – she died in the Geriatric Ward of a hospital in Lanarkshire in Scotland.

According to credible reports Phyllis Mabel McCormack might have penned it in early 1960s when she was a nurse at Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose, a coastal resort town and former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. Originally entitled “Look Closer” she wrote it for publication in the Sunnyside Chronicle, a magazine produced by the staff of Sunnyside Royal Hospital, Montrose, for circulation within the hospital. She submitted it anonymously as she felt it was critical of some of her colleagues.

In 2005, Joanna Bornat in her work “Empathy and stereotype: the work of a popular poem“, a report for ‘Perspectives on Dementia Care‘, 5th Annual Conference on Mental Health and Older, notes:

Amongst the responses to a small survey which I carried out in 1998 while researching attitudes to the poem was a cutting from the Daily Mail newspaper in which the son of Phyllis McCormack, whose name is often linked with the poem as its discoverer, explained:

My mother, Phyllis McCormack, wrote this poem in the early Sixties when she was a nurse at Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose.

Originally entitled Look Closer Nurse, the poem was written for a small magazine for Sunnyside only Phyllis was very shy and submitted her work anonymously.

A copy of the magazine was lent to a patient at Ashludie Hospital, Dundee, who copied it in her own handwriting and kept it in her bedside locker. When she died, the copy was found and submitted to the Sunday Post newspaper, attributed to the Ashludie patient.

Since my mother’s death in 1994 her work has travelled all over the world… – (Daily Mail, 12 March 1998).

Somehow this explanation rings true, though it immediately begs the question of how the origin story was constructed in the first place and whether the poem depends on an apparent myth for its continuing appeal. Encounters have been mixed as responses to the 1998 survey suggested.

These intriguingly mysterious origins greatly add to the poem’s effect. The story of a mute, unidentified and neglected woman creates pathos. It is a parable for ageing times with lessons about listening to our elders and empathy towards older people.

The poem is written in the voice of an old woman in a nursing home who is reflecting upon her life. Here is the original poem in full:

I have reproduced theoriginal poem below entitled “Crabbit Old Woman.” In Scottish, Crabbit means “bad-tempered” or “grumpy”. It has also been known variously as: “Kate”, “Look Closer”, “Look Closer Nurse”, “Open Your Eyes” or “What Do You See?”

Crabbit Old Woman

What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you are looking at me
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes,
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice ‘I do wish you’d try’
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And for ever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who unresisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill
Is that what you are thinking, is that what you see,
Then open your eyes, nurses, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I used at your bidding, as I eat at your will,
I am a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another,
A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet;
A bride at 20, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep
At 25, now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure, happy home;
A women of 30, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last,
At 40, my young sons have grown and are gone;
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn;
At 50, once more babies play around my knee.
Again we know children, my loved one and me
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread,
For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel
’tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where once was a heart
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few – gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, nurses, open and see
Not a crabbit old women, look closer — see me.

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