Rohit's Realm

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February 01, 2007

On Madness and Gulliver's Travels

This might very well be the final evidence one needs to confirm that I have, in fact, totally lost my mind, but last weekend I had a long nightmare about Gulliver's Travels that actually caused me to wake up sweating. The catch: I've never even read Gulliver's Travels.

Exactly what occurred during my long ride through hellish madness escapes me now, but suffice to say that there was a (violent) argument over whether the said novel was by the same author as Candide (obviously not), a war over endianness, and the general buffoonery of middle school students (what?). In retrospect, it seems what was happening was that I was (guest) teaching a class of middle school students about Gulliver's Travels while simultaneously discussing the ordering of computer memory. At first glance, this all seems like a bunch of nonsense borne of an especially convoluted mind; though that may indeed be the case, some more investigation suggests that there is some method to the madness.

On the first point, though Candide was written by Voltaire and Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (whose name I could not remember when I woke up, thus explaining the fear and shame), both are political satires written in the mid-eighteenth century (1759 and 1726, respectively). As to the second point, the term big endian actually comes from—wait for it—Gulliver's Travels; in the novel, the tension between two factions is based on which side to crack a hardboiled egg (the big or little end). Thank you Wikipedia! I have no explanation for why I was teaching middle school students, but it does not surprise me given the many teachers that are immediately in my life.

The point is, despite my having never read the novel (except for a small excerpt in 11th grade), I was yet still able to draw subconscious connections to endianness (which I must have read on Wikipedia) and refute the idiotic claims of ignorant middle school students about the authorship. It takes a certain kind of craziness to make those connections. I've never been one to see signs from the heavens, but this one is too strong to pass. I'm picking up a copy tomorrow and reading it ASAP. At least then, if I ever find myself at a party arguing with someone about Gulliver's Travels, I'll remember Jonathan Swift wrote it. That's reason enough.


My God, you are the biggest nerd in the history of Western civilization.

That does seem to be the case, doesn't it?

But what can you do. C'est la vie.

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