Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Switching to GMT

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The US gets ragged on because we use Fahrenheit and pounds. The UK gets it because they drive on the “wrong side of the road.” Bulgarians shake their heads yes, and nod their heads no. There are still cannibals in Papua New Guinea.

There are quirks everywhere, people with different habits.

The world is becoming a smaller place, though. How long will it be before the US converts to the metric system? It’s probably a ways off, but not as far as one might think.

And while the world is getting smaller, it is also changing in other ways. People are more mobile, and have tools which enable them to sustain maintain elements of their lifestyle while on the move. Money, keys and a cell phone – that’s all you need these days and you can go pretty much anywhere.

As someone who has been on the move for the last seven years, I can attest to the fact that it has gotten mush easier to operate from disparate locations. I used to say, “All I need is a Starbucks and I’m good to go.” Now, though, I just need to know where the closest cell coverage is and I can work from an iPhone.

All that moving about, though, has introduced a new level of complexity to my life. It’s name? Time Zone. I loathe having to figure out the difference between Australia, California, New York, London, and Second Life (heh). I hate tinkering with the dates and times on my photos from a business trip so that I can put them side by side with those my wife took while I was away. It irks me that I can’t tell Vista that my personal account should be on Central European Time, while my work account should be on Pacific Standard Time.

I think I’m just going to make everything GMT. You should, too. We should all just use GMT. Forget about time zones. They’re dumb.

So is daylight sayings, by the way. Let’s get rid of that, too.

Tomorrow for Everyone

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Utre za Vseki is a Bulgarian organization dedicated to research into breast cancer and, more importantly, providing breast cancer survivors medical care during their recovery. This video is a song recorded by various Bulgarian entertainers in support of the cause:

Utre’s current campaign is aimed at raising funds for an Ayurveda center for cancer survivors. Avon, and other corporate donors, have contributed large sums to the project, but it’s still underfunded. To make up the difference, there have been a number of PSAs airing on Bulgarian TV, encouraging private citizens to contribute. This video is the main one:

This evening, I attended a production at the cultural palace in Sofia, the proceeds of which will go to support the rehab center. I’m not sure who the dancers were – though I think many were part of the Bulgarian Olympic rhythmic gymnastics team – but I know that the show was choreographed by Neshka Robeva.

The show was amazing. It started with an old woman who lies down by a stream and dreams about the history of her people. From there, the motions cascade through Bulgarian history: young women washing clothes by the Danube, Spartacus’s rebellion against Rome and the subsequent crucifixion of the rebels, an incredible sequence with ‘crows’ foreshadowing war with Byzantium, a recounting of the fall of Tsar Samuil, and an homage to those who suffered for 500 years under the yoke of Turkish rule.

I only wish I could get my hands on the soundtrack. Stunning.

Currency and Coinage

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Bulgarians denominate their currency in lev. Right now, the lev is pegged to the Euro, at a 2:1 ratio. This means that, while prices aren’t as bad as they’d be at 1:1, they’re a lot higher than they were fifteen years ago, when Bulgaria went through a currency restructuring.

As far as I can tell, Bulgaria doesn’t have a one lev note. It appears that a single lev can only be had in coin form. If I remember correctly – it’s been 20 years – the UK has one quid coins as well. I wonder if this is true of Euros, Yen, etc.

The interesting thing about having your base denomination in coin is that the 2 ‘x’ denomination becomes more useful. I don’t think I’ve ever used a $2 bill, but I use 2 lev notes all the time. It seems natural, since they’re the lowest denomination of bill. One other side effect is that I pay attention to my coins. In the US, I just throw them in a bucket. Not here. I might throw away a “1”!

Establishment Clause

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

In the December 2003 Imprimis, Michael Novak writes about the so-called separation of church and state. Much of what he has to say is really informative (go read for yourself), though I think I’ll have to read some more of the writers he referenced in his piece.

His discussion of tolerance was right on. I could not agree more, nor say it any better than he did, and so I shall quote him here:

…among Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others there have been examples of generations of “tolerance.” But tolerance is a different (and less profound) concept than the right to religious liberty. Tolerance may arise merely from a temporary lack of power to enforce conformity; it does not by itself invoke a natural right. The concept of religious liberty, on the other hand, depends upon a particular conception of God, a particular conception of the human person, and a particular conception of liberty. Reaching these conceptions took Jews and Christians many centuries. They had to be learned through failure and sin and error, and at great cost. But they were eventually learned.