Her Majesty the Speed

«  Stopped by a policeman for exceeding the speed limit, Moshe Dayan says with a wry smile: “I have only one eye. What do you want me to watch: the speedometer or the road?” »

I used to be a good driver

A good driver is an attentive driver. A driver who is watching out, at all times. And I used to be one of those good drivers. My cornerstone principle was 360°×100%: watch the road, monitor the situation around my car every second, anticipate bad surprises and leave enough room for correcting my and others’ mistakes. I was always adjusting my speed according to the real-time circumstances, not theoretical prescriptions invented in a ministry.

My first ±18 years of driving in the 360°×100% mode proved efficient and safe. I never looked at my speedometer during these 18 years, I was watching the road instead. I could be probably driving 32 km/h instead of the allowed 50 in a street of Namur if I deemed 32 the adequate safe speed. I could be probably driving 134 km/h instead of the allowed 120 when I was alone on the illuminated motorway in the middle of the Ardennes — maybe yes, maybe no, I don’t know. I never ever diverted my attention away from the road. As a result, during these 18 years of road-focused driving I have never had any radar flash, any fine, any warning, any problem in any country on any type of road — it means that my speed was always adequate, just naturally.

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Email vs. Instant Messaging: the battle

Email, a technology that was the first to genuinely unite the world, is living difficult times under the pressure from instant messengers (IM). Let’s compare them. 0️⃣:0️⃣. C’est parti.

Speed

Both IMs and email are rapid, both are instant: IMs arrive in deciseconds, emails arrive in seconds, that’s insignificant in real life.

Both get a point for speed. Score: IMs 1️⃣ — Email 1️⃣ Continue reading

Lucky Generation X

kaleidoscopeLife is like a box of chocolates kaleidoscope. Throughout our lives we see changing patterns that emerge and vanish as epochs come and go. Sometimes the speed of rotation is faster, sometimes it’s slower, sometimes the kaleidoscopes are not moving at all.

poor guyImagine an average man, let’s call him Hieronymus, who lived in let’s assume XIVth century in let’s assume the Holy Roman Empire. He had a kaleidoscope too. What has he seen in it during his life? Always the same picture: same society, same values, same technology. What changed between his life under Henry VII and his life under Charles IV (provided the guy survived in the Plague)? Absolutely nothing. Hieronymus’s kaleidoscope didn’t move a single degree, all life long he has been observing one primitive pattern, one utter boredom.

Some generations are luckier. My Generation X (borns between ±1965-1975) is among the luckiest ones. Okay, we didn’t enjoy the “Trente Glorieuses” and “Wirtschaftswunder” of the Baby Boomers, but we can’t complain: we knew no Black Death, no World War I/II, no nuclear bombing, no ice period, no slave trade, no witch trials, no hunger. Our lives are safe and extremely interesting because the speed of rotation of our kaleidoscopes is faster than ever in human history. Our kaleidoscopes are fascinating. Here’s what I have seen so far in my personal kaleidoscope ↓
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One language, much politics around

There is a language, óne language, spoken “from Đerdap to Jadran”, from Subotica to Podgorica across Vukovar, Sarajevo and thousands of picturesque towns and villages. Like Persian or Hindustani, the Serbo-Croatian language is pluricentric with two perfectly interchangeable and fully equivalent alphabets, with two equivalent standards of pronunciation (Ije- and Ekavian) unrelated to political borders (see map), with one single literary Štokavian norm and a number of extra-literary dialects, all unrelated to political borders across the linguistic continuum. Most important: the grammar — what principally makes a language a language — is identical in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Srpska Republic and the Federation of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Without forgetting the Brčko district.

Regional differences in vocabulary are manifold (different areas use different blends of Slavic, Turkish, Hungarian, German and other ingredients), but those differences are well-known and intelligible for the speakers from other areas, exactly as is a Hollywood movie for a British film watcher. Croato-Serbian unconditionally remains a supranational koiné for 20+ million native speakers of this beautiful language.

Politicians and nationalists blindly ignore this obvious reality. They upgraded regional variants of the common language to a language proper, they invented “Serbian”, “Croatian”, “Bosnian” and “Montenegrin” languages emphasising trivial particularities and leveraging on minor differences.

Three TOTALLY identical texts. Political correctness 80 LVL

But the common sense should not suffer from this narrow-minded political myopia. Progressive people struggle for promoting the common sense, and this Declaration on the Common Language  signed by a lot of good people is a good example that there is hope.

If the equation sovereign state = language is deemed normal, then I wonder why we still have no “Austrian language”, “Kuwaiti language” or “Australian language”. «Do you speak Nicaraguan?» — «No, sorry, I only speak Salvadorian, please translate». If being a sovereign state is enough to claim an individual language, then there would exist even two “Belgian languages”, because both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French do have a number of particularities vs. the Amsterdam and Paris norms, so why not? With this logic I would, as anybody else, have easily tripled or quadrupled the number of spoken languages.

P.S. The above text was proudly written in Bahamian. Don’t confuse with English!

Who’s that language (for me)

Gaston Dorren, the author of Lingo and other books on comparative linguistics, asked his readers to share their associations and connotations with different languages, how these languages are felt from outside? Here’s what I feel, subjectively.

Gaston Dorren’s blog

Russian is the Pacific Ocean to me — no limits, no end in sight, an absolute immensity both in width (inherent expressive tools of the language) and in depth (inherent bottomless vocabulary). Russian is a modelling clay I can shape anything with — not just because it’s my mother tongue, but mostly because of a total 3D freedom and flexibility a Slavic language can offer.

Yiddish (which calls itself ‘màme-lošn’ — ‘Mom’s language’) and Belarusian both taste home, bread, warm milk and fireplace — so sweet and cozy.  Continue reading

Gary Johnson for President!

Voting for Gary Johnson is good — not because the two big competitors are both bad options for America and the world. Voting for Gary Johnson is good per se, because only Libertarians manage to simultaneously embrace freedom, peace, prosperity, justice and — last but not least — common sense.

Come avviare il motore con la batteria di un’altra macchina

How to start an engine with another car’s battery?
Here is my checklist.
© A. Kobzar, 2014.

Voltage 12V=12V         CHECK
Similarity of mAh       CHECK
Cable fits car types    CHECK
Cars touch              NO
Gear                    NEUTRAL ON BOTH
Handbrake               ENGAGED ON BOTH
Electric consumption    OFF ON BOTH

Connect in this sequence: 
1. RED: Recepient's Plus
2. RED: Donor's Plus 
3. BLACK: Donor's Minus (Earth Screw)
4. BLACK: Recipient's Minus (Earth Screw) 

Donor's engine         START
Let running            X MINS
Recipient's engine     START
Let running            X MINS
Donor's engine         STOP
Disconnect cables in reverse order

The Earth without bullshit

I can watch this webcam eternally: our dear planet seen from the International Space Station in live 24/7 stream. Ground speed = 14400 knots. Belgium is crossed in 37 seconds from Arlon to Ostend. A flight from Geneva to New York takes 14 minutes. You say Good morning and Good night 32 times a “day” because sunrise/sunset magnificently occurs every 45 minutes.

Rapture… and serenity… No borders, no governments, no “territorial integrity”, no “motherlands”, no nationalities, no ideology, no god and no religion too. Just our Earth — a flash of living light in the middle of an Endless Nowhere.

Just our home.

Just majestic.

In memoriam

In memoriam of 66 children and 224 adults killed in a civilian jet by U.S. Marines on July 3, 1988 aboard the Iran Air Flight 655.

Unlike last night in Newtown, CT, no head of state of the First World shed a tear over these people defragmented by the U.S. missile. Unlike September 1983 when the Evil Empire shot down 269 in similar circumstances, no wave of grief and condolences across the world has arisen for these civil passengers. Unlike this morning in Newtown, the death of 66 children was not the absolute #1 in the mass media.

An accident? Of course, it was an accident, a clear human mistake, no doubts about that. But it’s all about attitude. The U.S. officer who fired the missile was 2 years later awarded the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” during the period covering the massacre of 290. All of the crew of the USS Vincennes were awarded Combat Action Ribbons for their service. The United States never acknowledged responsibility and never released an apology. Soon after the slaughter George Bush Father commented on this tragedy: “I’ll never apologise for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”

President Yeltsin publicly apologised to the Koreans for the 1983 Boeing tragedy. The German Chancellor apologised for the Holocaust, as well as the Pope. The United States of America are apparently beyond these moral categories.