resisting standards

June 24th, 2007

There is a time to embrace individuality, and there's a time not to. If a hardware manufacturer decided he would only produce screwdrivers for screws 3*pi/7 cm in diameter, because that's the "ideal size", noone would buy them, because there aren't any screws that size. If an airline pilot decided to land in a non standard location, because the airport is "too far away from the city", he wouldn't be applauded.

It important not to be a robot, but there are times when doing things in a standard way is important. Especially when *not* doing things to standard is based on whim (sometimes known as "historical reasons"). We all think the Yanks extremely silly for not using the metric system, as one of three countries worldwide (of course, the scientific community *obviously* does use the metric system, and able to communicate smoothly with the rest of the world, it's just the rest of the population that is apparently incapable of understanding a far simpler system). Similarly, the Brits still drive on the left. This insistence is actually even more stupid, because unlike a system of measurement, it is only one single rule to be changed. In this they are admittedly not alone, but only because of those, yes, historical reasons going back to the old Empire that is no more.

But in both cases it is fighting a long lost battle. It is a lot like France trying to pretend that English is just any other foreign language by suppressing English content and culture. Well, guess what, English is the cultural language of the world. France and Britain both tried their luck at the whole colonize-the-world and Britain won. Just accept it already. France with their highly rated school system would be much wiser to shoot for bilingualism rather than censor English language movies from their cinemas. If French people were just as fluent in English as the Brits (or the Dutch, to give a practical example), don't you think that would be a huge advantage?

I know it's hard to believe, but it is in fact fully possible to preserve the valuable parts of your culture while changing the system of measurement (Britain), or which side of the road to drive on (Canada, Spain), or adopting a second language (Netherlands, tons of other countries).

That reminds me. Germany, German is *not* the "language of science/business/whatever crap". Get on the ball already and stop pretending you're unable to master English, everyone else in the world can do it just fine.

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2 Responses to "resisting standards"

  1. erik says:

    Hear hear. There was an item in a German newspaper the other day about how Dutch business people don't speak sufficient German which surely would be a major disadvantage in their dealing with Germany.

    It's only a disadvantage if you make it so, you backward twats. Get with the game plan.

  2. numerodix says:

    I recall that decades ago when we had these language debates about which language is "more valuable", there were some claims that German is standard for business or whatever. Obviously this was only concerning Europe. But right now, after the internet boom especially, I cannot imagine that to be the case in any shape of form, outside some minor circles. Especially because Europe is such a tiny part of the whole thing.