On Being Connected (!?)

Today (and yesterday) the internet in the UEA has been on and off. The reasons for this are quite irrelevant, but it seems interesting to think that at this first knowledge that I had that I could not (even if I tried) get online, I thought of it as a period of rest. Despite today being a Tuesday, I’ve had the feeling of a Sunday ever since it became apparent that internet is being reach.

I find it odd, though perhaps it reminds me of something that I’ve long looked for. I don’t know.

A flatmate commented earlier on that why would anyone need the internet all the time. I suppose there are many answers for that. What I feel most though is the intense feeling of being disconnected. Anything could happen right now, and I would have no idea. Seems a bit like being without half of my head or having a missing third arm that used to help with all sorts of things.

This led me to wonder further — is it perhaps a good thing to be disconnected? I’ve never had much trouble concentrating while writing/studying/reading, but when online I still tend to do several things at once. Currently, though, that is impossible. It being impossible, I spent the last few hours deeply working on differentiation and integration (exam tomorrow).

However, besides being disconnected and not distracted, it also gives a lighter feeling. I cannot properly describe it, but I believe that is understandable.

Now that I am writing this piece (still offline, Notepad serves as an intermediary today), I have to admit that it seems more and more like the Sundays that I remember from very long ago. Good relaxing music (I abhor the term "easy listening"), many things to do, and all the time in the world to do so.

Once I get the internet back, I’ll be sure to wonder… how to disconnect again?

On Meanings, On Words

Wished to post a quote I saw today: "Life is grim on the galactic rim." (Ian O’Neill).

So many meanings hidden behind these few words. Who decides which one to use? 

O’Neill’s sentence is excellent. His main idea was that what closer you reach to the edge of a galaxy, the smaller are the chances of finding life due to the decreasing chances for the existence of planets.
However, one could also interpret the sentence simply as: ‘Life is difficult and hard if you live on the rim of a galaxy.’
And what would stop a person from figuring out a thousand other meanings?

Absolutely nothing.

There’s a saying in Estonian which goes as, "Sõnad on tuul." ["Words are wind."] I once expanded on that, and said to myself, "Sõnad on tuul… kuid tuul võib puhuda põhjast või lõunast, tuul võib olla tugev või nõrk." ["Words are wind… but wind may blow from the north or the south, it may be a strong gust or a mild breeze."]

In this age where words are more often and often interpreted through the (abomination of a) computer screen, what is the guarantee that anyone understand us as we wished to be understood. Unfortunately, nothing. Therefore, we should take the extra effort of expanding upon our thoughts if they are not the clearest.

Another factor comes to play here as well. There are occasions where a person would wish to be understood doubly. Diplomacy. [Either between states or people.] Not necessarily doublespeak, but where a single sentence can have a meaning which is both strong and mild, depending on what the other side does.

And while ‘The great questions of the day will not be settled by speeches and majority decisions, but by blood and iron.’ (Otto von Bismarck) it does not reduce the importance of being able to solve potential conflicts by words.

But… if our words are broadcast to others via a computer screen… is that not a failure to communicate no matter what the final result?

The Forgotten Ones

After having a considerable discussion today about Romanian forces in the Second World War, I had to admit to myself that I knew nearly nothing about them. Sure, I have heard (and seen a few documentaries) about the ’80’s Romania, and I’ve heard that it was a part of the Axis and all that. But, as it would appear, Romania was the third strongest Axis nation (Germany -> Italy -> Romania) in Europe (the world adds in Japan to our calculations), and by far more competent than Italy. While that itself does not display any sort of military ingenuity, then facing the war as it seems to have done must have been a considerable nation-wide effort. Also, the military forces and political will had to be considerable.

In any case, that led me to think — never in our school did we touch extensively upon Romania or Bulgaria or Hungary or those countries which were there and died with the rest. To be totally fair, we even ditched Italy to the winds of history, and spoke of the USSR, the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Finland, Baltic countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and mentioned Japan somewhat in passing. How many other countries do the same? And yet, what is our right to do so? The Wikipedia entry (on Romania in WWII) said that the coup d’état by the King may have shortened the war by up to half a year.

Who else stand forgotten?
Too many, I’m afraid.

No one is likely to be forgotten locally. Finns know the prominence of Field Marshal Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim, and at least some of that has carried over to people back home — not that many Estonians would know who he really was, but I’ve got the feeling that if one has been to Helsinki, you would know that name if anything. [Mannerheiminkatu is an epic street, and I like his statue as well. Should have a picture from one of my Helsinki visits somewhere on my computer. I’ll try taking a better one next time I’m around though //with snow!!!//].

Likewise, Estonians would know of Johan Laidoner and Konstantin Päts, and their decisions. The Romanians of Ion Antonescu. Hungarians of Miklós Horthy (who is an epic person ruling a Kingdom as a Regent while being of //Austro-Hungarian// naval background, which is something that I simply had to add, 🙂 ). Bulgarians will know of Boris III the Unifier. [I found the name of the Bulgarian Tsar from Wikipedia.]

I’ve left out tens of names from there. Tens of times, as well. World War I lies even deeper and further away in memories. However, I’m rather confident that all of these places and names could teach us something.

Does not all history repeat itself?
Would we not be better off knowing something more about that very same history?

Languages: Japanese, Part I

So, after taking up a book by a crazy Irishman which explained how to learn languages well and effectively, and so that they could actually be used (those six years of school-time Russian/French that I really can’t use are therefore left out), there was the recommendation that creating a blog-entry with the goals and targets in mind is assisting, I have decided to do just that.

A short introduction:
Since coming to the UEA, I’ve found myself a part of the Japanese Society and that led me to pursue some skills in the Japanese language. For the first month or so, what we did was basic introductions and whatnot (‘Je m’appelle…‘, ‘Kus sa elad…’, etc), but after that I turned a bit more serious and ordered myself a grammar book which assisted me in picking up some of the basic stuff that the Society lessons did not mention. In any instance, since that time I’ve also picked up the hiragana writing system (I’ve yet to enable it on my computer though), and a few useful expressions. With difficulty, expressing basic sentences is possible (success!!!).

So, I’ll list here what I plan to do by the 8th January (which coincidentally might be one of the hardest things since I’ll be in EST for the majority of the time between now and then):

  • Enabling the writing systems (hiragana, katakana) on my computer
  • Learning the katakana
  • Listen regularly to Japanese music //which is not difficult at all since I’m doing it quite a bit right now due to the fact that my usual stuff has quite bored me, 😛 //
  • Memorizing & understanding certain word-lists

I’m sure there’s something else that I’ve forgotten since this currently seems to empty, but it’s all that my partial to-do list contained. So, we’ll see exactly what happened in a bit less than a month.

EDIT: I forgot to add why I wish to learn Japanese… 🙂 To read (once my skill is considerable enough) the books that I’ve up to that point read only in translations. ‘The Master of Go’ — it can only be better in Japanese, to name on example. And, why not use it for other, more mundane tasks as well…

Iroha

色は匂へど 散りぬるを
我が世誰ぞ 常ならむ
有為の奥山 今日越えて
浅き夢見じ 酔ひもせず

As flowers are brilliant but [inevitably] fall,
who could remain constant in our world? [No one could]
Today let us transcend the high mountain of transience,
and there will be no more shallow dreaming, no more drunkenness.
— Kūkai

 

A beautiful poem. 

I thought of posting this and then writing something in addition, but haven’t managed to think of anything useful to supplement this. I am sure it does quite well on its own as well. 

[Note: Source for this specific version.]

23-01-2011: Added the Hiragana version: 

 

いろはにほへと
ちりぬるを
わかよたれそ
つねならむ
うゐのおくやま
けふこえて
あさきゆめみし
ゑひもせす

 

To…

Oh, it’s an odd thing, to have a wish to do something, to plan to do it, and yet not move a finger even though everything is perfectly planned out. This quite perfectly describes me writing — I can almost recall three different entries that I’ve planned and yet not written. Why? Laziness, I suppose. Isn’t that the answer to most human problems.

Laziness, the lack of trust and greed.

How to be free of what could be said defines being human?

Hope?

New plans here, new reflections there: things change too quickly. Ideas get pulled down, and built up again, all for the sole reason of destroying them again. There is no way to guarantee that any plan someone makes today is relevant tomorrow. So, why bother? Is it the wish to know (at least temporarily) where your next step takes you? I’m sure that experience proves that even so it does not guarantee anything. So, any time we spend on making plans might end up wasted — should we make them at all?

The same could be said about thinking though. Any thought should eventually get torn down and rebuilt in a stronger way. If it doesn’t, it remains only a projection of the old prejudices that were forwarded through it.

In the end, how many Iliads have remained unwritten? 

We will never know.
We should, however, prevent it happening again. As much as possible.

On Remembering what I Said of the Future

These are the words I said in a civics lesson last year when the teacher asked what would be the area most heavily spent on during a winter: "Lumekoristus!"

Everyone laughed when the teacher specified that heating was meant under it.

Yet, the words came quite close to be true.

It would seem that this winter wants to triumph over the previous one.

[Exact situation presented below:]

V. Kuldna: "Mis võtab talvel kõige rohkem valitsuse raha?"
K. Rikson: "Lumekoristus!"
 

L’Angleterre, Ch. I

Tuli juhuslik uitmõte (tänu kalli endise klassikaaslase küsimusele, ole tänatud Signe) kirjutada paar sõna sellest kuidas Inglismaa hetkel välja näeb. Kui ma ei saavuta sellega ka mitte midagi muud, siis vähemalt jääb vast meenutuseks kunagi kauges tulevikus.

Igatahes võib öelda, et Inglismaa kõige kuivema koha kohta tuleb siin liiga palju vihma, ning kui paistab päike siis on see ka liiga tugev. Kunagi pole miski hea ei saaks ka päris öelda, aga päikese kõige suurem probleem on see, et siis lihtsalt ei saa köögis silmi lahti teha kuna kõik kohad peegeldavad vastu. Talvel kui (*if*, not ‘when’) lumi maas on võib olla veel õudsam, sest sel juhul oleks ka aknast välja vaadates igal pool hele läige. Blinded by light on täiesti võimalik reaalsus (kuigi mõnes natuke jäisemas kohas kui Norfolk siiski).

Inimesed on miljon korda sõbralikumad, vähemalt see suurem osa kellega ma seni olen kokku puutunud. Seda pole isegi võimalik kirjeldada sõnadega hästi, aga ma usun, et inimesed, kes on kokku puutunud ise kohaliku eluga, mõistavad seda isegi.

Vaadates kui palju (suhteliselt vähe siiski) siin on International Student’i tuleb suur soov valida placement year ka sellisesse kohta, kus protsentuaalselt on kõige rohkem international’e, ning mitte kohalikke. Kohalikud paistavad kuidagi tavalisemad, kui võrrelda seda piirkondade rägastikku kust inimesed tegelikult UEA’sse kokku on voolanud: oma lühikese siinviibimise jooksul olen saanud tuttavaks soomlase (siin on vist kaks soomlast isegi), leetlase (miljon leetlast igal pool), sakslaste, türklaste, iirlaste ja ka hollandlastega. Minnes Euroopast väljapoole tulevad mängu kohad nagu Hong Kong, Jaapan, Hiina, Pakistan, India, Saudi Araabia, Austraalia, USA, Kanada, Kasahstan. Raskeim mäluharjutus on jätta meelde kõikide inimeste nimed (ning eriti siis kui pead hääldama inglast ühte moodi, türklast teist moodi, jaapanlast kolmandat ning hiinlast neljandat), sest viisakas oleks ikkagi mäletada nii nime kui kui kuidas seda nime öelda.

Üks Introduction Programme’i kõnelejatest oli suhteliselt kindlasti Šotimaalt. Suht kahtlane kuulata, aga purjus iirlast ei ületa miski (ning mu korteris on üks).

Tutvumine jätkub ilmselt samas tempos küll vähemalt nädal aega; Fresher’s Events kestavad vist isegi oktoobri nädalavahetuseni.

Ehk, elu on huvitav.

Trylogia

Just finished the masterpiece of Henryk Sienkiewicz, the Trylogia (composed of three books, ‘With Fire and Sword’, ‘The Deluge’, and ‘Fire in the Steppe, or Pan Wolodyjowski’), a grand total of 1781 pages in the Estonian translation (since the original was written in Polish, it made sense to read the Estonian translation which would likely be more truthful than an English one).

I do believe that Sienkiewicz, by writing this book, has managed to capture the spirit of patriotism as well as anyone ever could. I can’t really very well describe what it is about the book (or rather, the series of books) that’s so captivating, but there is something in it. Some commentator described the book as capturing the Polish spirit — perhaps this would be true (when we are speaking of the historical Poland, which would encompass modern Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belorussia, Kaliningrad, the majority of Latvia, and other territories), especially when we consider what the great nation actually had to go through — a century of war unlike any other European power, and yet it managed to retain it’s greatness and momentum.

Would it perhaps be that the liberties so valued by the szlachta (election of a king, and liberum veto to name a few) are the very essence of a democratic nation, making Poland (after United Provinces of the Netherlands, or whatever it’s official name was) the first democratic nation (especially considering the large number of szlachtices in the realm)? It might indeed be so, especially since no modern democracy manages to (at least from what I have read and experienced) — possibly with the exception of the autocratic democracy present in Singapore — portray to their own citizens what these szlachtices see as their God-given rights that can not be taken away by anyone wishing to rule without the power of law.

It can only be imagined where Poland would be now, if the spirit of patriotism had continued, and Austria, Prussia and Russia had not intervened constantly in its affairs…

(no subject)

The musing of a person who is not at the best of terms (yet) with his current health seem to be far more interesting than those of healthy persons.

Illnesses afford an interesting perspective on everything that’s not done or done.

How can the same be achieved while feeling well?