DAY 90

June 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments

Problems with Unicode.

We all have our worries about what will happen when, as ex-Marxist Martin Jacques says, China rules the World (in six years?). Mine are about texting.

But first, an anecdote. I needed, urgently, to text my daughter ‘Delayed by schizo friend can’t cook supper right now’. I reached for my phone, in a bad light, on the Holloway Road, and found that the text was coming out in Greek! Naturally I panicked and it took half an hour to find the simple way out (You go to Settings, of course; but why was it texting in Greek in the first place?)

Anyway, to return to the Chinese. As we know the first 127 (128?) bits in the unicode character set UTF-8 are the hegemonic Eurocentric Ascii characters; these things having been decided when the USA ruled the world. There follows a sort of hierarchy of characters in any other language you can think of, including, of course, Chinese. What’s bothering me is that currently, because the Chinese don’t rule the world,i-5ffae06ec7a3d580dfbe814e6ab154a4-texting in china a Chinese Unicode character has (say) two more bytes than one of ours, so – in my rather goofy perception of how this works – it will take a Chinese longer to text the same message. [I know there aren't more bytes, but they're later; so you'd have to wait for them as, if A comes first, you have to wait for Z.]

Apart from obvious points like whose language is more economical. (See remarks about the Finnegans Wake translation, supra.)

It follows, as the night the day, that when the Chinese rule the world they will reverse the order of Unicode priorities, Ascii characters will come trailing at the end, and it will take forever – several microseconds more – for us to text each other. I thought you’d like something more to keep you awake at night.

A propos, I’ve been also worrying about the Maldivians. Not, like everyone else, because they soon won’t have any land left maldivesas it’s only 6 metres above sea level max and will all soon disappear due to global warming so book your holidays pronto; but because their language is written in a script called Thaana, using Unicode characters like 078x and 079x. (Isn’t this educational?) Thaana, a mixture of Arabic and Indian numbers and other odd bits, is so bizarre that I can only refer you to Wikipedia for the full insanity of its origins, history and structure. Let this quote suffice:

‘The order of the Tāna alphabet (hā, shaviyani, nūnu, rā, bā, etc.) doesn’t follow the order of other Indic scripts or of the Arabic script. There is no apparent logic to the order; this has been interpreted as suggesting that the script was scrambled to keep it secret from average islanders.’ I’ve heard of the wickedness of the ruling class and the deviousness of the intellectuals, but scrambling the order of your script seems to take it to a new level.Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 22.01.50

Beginning of the Thaana ‘alphabet’

Sport: (Ee-I-Addio). You heard it here first – Arsenal did win the Cup as we predicted or at least hoped, defeating Everton 2-0 (Kelly Smith (15), Yukari Kinga (62)). Second cup final running for the Arsenal ladies, still leaving the men trailing…gun__1401693941_fawomenscup2014a

From the official website

The fightback begins! Good news from the current edition of our sister publication ‘Diaspora Romaneasca’ (unbeatable title!): ‘Un român a solicitat urmărirea penală a lui Nigel Farage, liderul formațiunii politice extremiste și ultranaționaliste UK Independence Party (UKIP). Dr. Tommy Tomescu, președintele Alianței împotriva Discriminării Românilor și Bulgarilor din Marea Britanie și al partidului Europeans Party îl acuză pe politicianul britanic pentru declarațiile rasiste făcute de acesta la adresa prezenței românești în Regatul Unit.’  

Londra_Tommy-Tomescu_Charing-Cross

Tomescu tries to nick Farage

(See http://www.diasporaro.com/ for the full article.) Right on, Tomescu! Rather than listening to the rasiste urgings against the Românilor și Bulgarilor, we should be kicking out the extremiste și ultranaționaliste UKIP’s.

At the opera: I know this will seem a bit lowbrow after the Xenakis, but I couldn’t resist including a chunk of Philip Glass’s ‘Satyagraha‘, which I caught on Sky Arts 2 – believe it or not – this morning.

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