It’s a trap

March 14, 2016

Learning Polish the hard way


The city of Kraków in southern Poland attracts a lot of tourists, most of whom speak English. The citizens of Kraków believe that this is because of historical attractions, like the Wawel Castle in the background of the photograph above. Actually it’s because of the cheap beer and inexpensive girls. The citizens of Kraków have no idea that the beer is cheap and the girls are inexpensive because they never travel anywhere, and they are convinced that theirs is the most beautiful city with the most beautiful castle and the prettiest girls and the best beer in the world.

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Mission status

August 29, 2014

A couple of days ago Mary Kerrigan, a planetary scientist from the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration of the University of Western Ontario tweeted this from some northern wilderness in Canada:


I loved the picture, and so did Ania. Ania can draw, and she did, just slightly twisting and exaggerating the context:

Soon after the first landing on Mars astronauts packed out their internet


My Internet Alphabet Book

July 13, 2014

A friend who was using my computer laughingly complained that entering a single “f” in the address bar of my web browser did not resolve to Facebook but to Fronda, a Polish extreme right wing catholic website that, along with coffee, helps me to maintain high blood pressure necessary to deal with life.

This gave me the idea of creating an alphabet book of my web browser suggestions. Here’s an A-Z list of what IceWeasel shows when I type a single letter in the address bar. “[censored]” means that the website is either porn, or a website of someone I’m currently doing business with, or a site that I’m working on. This I’m not going to share.

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Poles have a chance to win an important international award

July 17, 2013

Two Polish hitchhikers have a good chance of winning a renowned international prize, the Darwin Award. According to an article (in Polish) in “Gazeta Wyborcza” the young people thought they would have a better chance of catching a ride from Seelow (Germany) to Kosztrzyn (Poland) if they lied down on a busy road. At 10 PM. Darwin Awards are awarded only posthumously.

Polish horseburgers

February 27, 2013

After reading a report on the horsemeat-in-burgers scandal in Europe and learning that the probable source of the meat is Poland, someone asked me this:

Are horses that much cheaper? Or tastier? As a vegetarian, it’s all very theoretical. But as an Iowan, I can say that cows are dirtier than horses, so I don’t see much wrong here. Is horse meat kosher?

I’m from Poland, so obviously I must know the answers. Here they are.

Are horses that much cheaper?


Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, by Ralf Roletschek, GFDL license, from Wikimedia Commons

In some areas of Poland horses are still beasts of burden. If your SUV gets stuck in the mud, you have pretty good chances of finding a farmer who will rather use his horse than his tractor to drag you out. Horses don’t drink diesel, and diesel is expensive. When the horse gets old and weak, the farmer knows that his best choice is to send the animal to Italy, and he doesn’t give a damn if it’s on the hoof or on the hook. The former term refers to shipping them alive — the transport can take a couple of days in such conditions that the horses will confess to anything just to make it stop, but shipping them “on the hook” requires refrigerated trucks, which is way to expensive.

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August 9, 2012

In a 1970s short story in The Star Diaries by Stanisław Lem, prof. Dońda received a telegram:

Will you be appointed professor of svarnetics at Kulaharian university ten kilodollars yearly answer please immediately colonel Droufoutou Lamblian Bamblian Dramblian security police

Dońda, in financial troubles, accepted, reasoning that he would find out what svarnetics is when he got to University of Kulahari. He was pretty sure that his three university diplomas would be enough to lecture on any discipline of science. When he got there he learned that “svarnetics” was the telegraph operator’s rendering of “cybernetics”, but by then it was too late. His contract was to teach svarnetics. Dońda invented the discipline (Stochastic Verification of Automatized Rules of Negative Enchantment), and this eventually led to destruction of the civilization.

So when I saw this tweet, it was pretty obvious that I would reply with the Dońda story:

But there was no way to put the story in 140 characters, and Dońda and his svarnetics are pretty obscure. I could not find anything to link to to explain Dońda’s story, so I had to write this post. This takes time. I’m in the middle of nowhere, on the very edge of a pretty wild (for Polish standards) national park, and the web comes here using CDMA, an early nineties technology (based on a 1940’s idea developed by the first actress to portray orgasm in a movie) which is slow and has serious transfer limits. The only thing I could send immediately was this:

Copyright traps are fun, and esquivalience — the wilful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities — is one of my favorites, and it sent a clear message, better than biosvarnetics.

The parallel between Lem’s short story and a real offer is amazing: a message form an authoritarian country, asking to lecture on a weird sounding (well, we know what bioequivalence is, basically it says that a liter of wine is something like three liters of beer (four or five in the US)) subject.

Now we have to find out what bioesquivalience is — the willful avoidance of one’s biological responsibilities?

Hello world!

April 9, 2012

This is the companion blog to my Polish language blog Szescstopni. Much fewer posts will appear here than on Szescstopni since English is not my native language and I don’t write in it unless it is really necessary.