Great news, everyone! Almost completely out of the blue (if you’ll pardon the pun), Air France workers have decided to take a radical step to preserve our environment and energy resources. Apparently, 20-30% of all Air France flights will not be flying today! The pretext is a mundane one – unions fighting for better working conditions, yada, yada, yada… – but there’s no fooling us and the actual, direct, hard consequences clearly show the main effects of the strike. Given a couple of numbers (Air France operates 1500 flights per day with approximately 100 passengers per flight, loosely assuming an average medium haul flight to be 3000 km, some 40 kWh of energy used per passenger per 100 km and 15 kWh of electric energy per day per household), we can conclude that Air France pilots’ grand gesture saved approximately 50 GWh of energy by keeping their planes on the ground. How much is that? Approximately sufficient for an entire month of electricity for all households in a city like Rijeka, home to about 130.000 inhabitants!
That Far East megalopolises like Beijing, Shanghai and New Delhi suffer under extreme pollution for years and that millions die as a results is, sadly, no news. In contrast, Europe has always somehow acted as if it is “more civilised than that”, but this is proving to be just a façade and one that is rapidly falling apart.
I had first encountered foreign languages as a preschooler, watching TV, I guess. In retrospect, I don’t really know why it is that I “knew” English when I started learning it at school at 9 years of age: it was just kind of there…I have fond memories of my English teacher, though, and I still remember some of the lessons like they were yesterday: “I’m Bill. This is Jill. We’re friends. Hello, Jill!”, “It’s raining cats and dogs!” …and so on.
Still, because I had somehow gotten a grasp on English informally, effortlessly and without really noticing, it didn’t (and still doesn’t) fit very well into the usual categories: I consider it neither a foreign, nor a native language, but something in-between.
Five years old and my Asus Eee 900 fan was telling me in no subtle way that it was about to die. Based on previous experience, I thought that a drop of general purpose lubricant in the fan’s bearing would breath new life into it so I went to fetch my screwdrivers and started disassembling the little machine.