Tag Archives: Human behavior

“When will the British introduce the Euro?”

, seems to be a very popular question in Brazil. After having lived here a while, I start to understand that for Brazilians, it must seem ridiculous to change currencies when traveling for a couple of hours from Paris to London. A couple of hours get’s you hardly out of São Paulo here…

Anyway, pondering over this valid question, I think to have come up with a reasonable answer: in 200 years at the earliest. Why? Let me explain:

The French introduced the meter in 1799 and it successively spread throughout Europe as one of the Napoleonic heritages. So let’s say that as a rule of thumb, by 1815, the meter was more or less known in Europe and accepted as a standard of measurement over the next two centuries. Le pied, der Fuβ, and de voet, together with various other random lengths died a slow but inevitable death.

With the exception of the US, Liberia and Burma. No kidding… The UK actually permits the use of the metric system since the 1860’s but it remains widely unpopular. So to know when the British will introduce the Euro, wait till the year they accept the metric system, subtract 1799 – supposing we’ll still use a Gregorian calendar – and voilà. Not too difficult it seems.

Can you remind me…?

No, I cannot. Of course I could but this would mean that I allow you to pass on the responsibility to remember something from yourself to me. And when I forget it, suddenly it is my fault that whatever it was hasn’t happened. Et je n’aime pas ça.

Mobile phones have great reminder functions, pen and paper have done this job for hundreds of years and don’t even get me started on Outlook calender, etc.

So instead of asking someone else, do it, or save it on to something that will remind you. Not someone.

Thank you.

Foreigners meeting abroad

Italians : outright joy combined with the immediate switch of language. If from the same region, some family link will be eventually uncovered.

Germans: Slight annoyance. Yet another German; there are so many in every freaking corner of this planet. Maybe a switch to German if nobody else is around and some friendly chatting but not necessarily so.

Belgians – Wallonian and Flemish: Irritation then enjoyable surprise. Speaking English, it is actually possible to communicate with each other and chat about beer, chocolate and the stupidity of Belgian politicians.

Human parallel

Some time ago, I wrote about what humans consider to be invasive species vs. the useful ones. Useful to humans, obviously.

As a friend pointed out, a lot of people have exactly the same attitude to migrant workers once they are not needed any longer. When they were invited, the host nation received them quite pleased and congratulated itself for having them – who else would do the work? – but then they dared to stay, to bring their wives, to have children. Not to mention that they had their own language, culture or even a different religion.

And now?

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

Right-handers unconsciously associate good with the right side of a space and bad with the left side.

Full article here and remember: In English, ‘right’ is also the opposite of wrong. Anyway, the most interesting part of the story:

In their experiments, when people were asked […] which of two alien creatures looks more intelligent, right-handers tended to choose the […] creature they saw on their right, but most left-handers chose the one on their left.

Isn’t the human brain amazing: It analyses which alien looks more intelligent, and comes to the conclusion that it must be more dangerous. Luckily our brain then remembers that we have the weapon in that hand that gives us nice, straight shooting line to kill the beast.

Alles wird gut.

2 versions of a story

Ideal world:

Me: Good morning
Colleague: Good morning. How are you?
Me: Fine, and you?
C: Fine too but listen I have a problem with the computer. Would you mind having a look on it after grabbing a coffee?
Me: Sure, no problem.

Real world:

Me: Good morning.
C: Can you tell me why this computer is not working??
Me: Good morning… First, I get a coffee; then I’ll have a look.
C: “…”
Me thinking: “I’m sure most people are taught manners as children. But some are better than others in eradicating them from their daily behaviour.”

One fact – four ways to say it

Ahh, the beauty of language. Just take the time. In German exist 4 different ways to say it’s 10:15:

  • Quarter past 10
  • Quarter 11
  • Quarter as of ten
  • Quarter over ten.

Admitted, I didn’t know the last two either but it’s good to see that the very logic quarter 11 (followed by half 11; three-quarter 11, and, guess what, 11) is far more widespread than some Germans might want to make you believe.


And that’s just time. A fact which as such is not disputable. Now imagine how many different ways of sayings there are for weather, for how you feel, for what you want and how many possible ways there are to misunderstand each other. And all of this within the same language.