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76 - Driving Orientation: A World Map
Another traffic map of sorts. If this world map vaguely looks like it’s highlighting a remnant of the British Empire, that’s no coincidence. This map shows which side of the road traffic drives on.
Dark blue: drives on left (mainly British ex-colonies).
\nLight blue: used to drive on right, now on left (Namibia).
\nPurple: used to have mixed system, now drives on right.
\nLight red: used to drive on left, now on right.
\nDark red: drives on right.
As one might gather from the map, the story of left or right hand side driving is more than just a derivative of British Imperialism. Right-handedness, a trait shared by 85 to 90% of people, is the reason for the initial preference for left and for the switch to right side driving.\n
Throughout the ages, horsemen preferred passing each other on the left side, because this allowed them to hold on to the reins with their left hand while with their right they shook hands with or swords at passers-by (as the situation warranted).\n
In the late 1700s, teamsters in many countries switched to bigger freight waggons drawn by multiple pairs of horses. They would sit on the left rear horse, thus able to whip with their right hand. This allowed them better vision on their left-hand side, so they preferred the opposing traffic to cross them on the left – meaning they switched to driving on the right-hand side of the road. So nowadays, an estimated 66% of people worldwide live in right-hand side countries, and 72% of all distances are completed while driving on the right side of the road.\n
Britain was the main exception: smaller waggons meant the driver was able to sit on top of them, not needing to ride one of the horses. British drivers remained seated on the right-hand side, and thus kept driving on the left-hand side of the road. This British custom would be adopted in most if not all British colonies, at least initially.\n
One of the main promulgators of driving on the right was revolutionary France, at that time Britain’s arch-enemy, thus lending a ‘political’ subtext to this purely practical question. France spread the practice to most of the countries it conquered at the turn of the 19th century.\n
Even in spite of France’s revolutionary conquests, several European countries other than Great-Britain kept their traffic on the left of the street. Most eventually made the switch to right side driving: Finland (1858), Russia (at the end of the Czarist era), Italy (1924), Portugal (1928), Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary (all three in the Nazi era), Sweden (1967) and Iceland (1968). One boy broke his leg due to that last European switch. Today, the only European countries driving on the left of the road, excepting Britain, were once ruled by it: Ireland, Malta and Cyprus (including the separate but internationally unrecognised Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus). Ironically, Gibraltar, the last colony in Europe and still ruled by Britain, switched to right-hand driving in 1929.\n
Many former British colonies outside of Europe continue to drive left: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong (even though it’s been returned to right-side driving China in 1997), Australia, New Zealand and the former British colonies in the West Indies. Macau and Mozambique also drive on the left. Colonies of Portugal, they opted for the ‘British’ side of the road due to proximity to British colonies. This may also be why Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America, drives on the left: its neighbour is the ex-British, left-driving country of Guyana. Those two countries are the last on continental America to drive left.\n
Many other ex-British colonies did change to driving on the right, as with Gibraltar mostly to conform to the practice on the other side of the border. In Canada, the practice varied between the provinces and territories. The switch to the right side took place from 1920 onwards, to be completed by Newfoundland in 1947. Other cases in point: Belize (1961), the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Burma (1970).\n
The introduction of right-side driving sometimes did coincide with anti-British politics. This certainly was a factor in the American switch (the USA went right-side not long after independence, from 1792 onwards). And both on the Channel Islands, occupied by Germany in 1940, as on the Falklands, occupied by Argentina in the early 1980s, right-side driving was imposed, only to be reversed when both territories were reconquered by the British.\n
In spite of all the preceding, the choice of which side to drive on can not be reduced to a matter of British influence or not. Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and the US Virgin Islands were never British colonies, but today they too drive on the left. An overview of left-side driving countries per continent:\n
Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (off Africa: ) Mauritius, Saint Helena, Seychelles.\n
Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, East Timor, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand.\n
In the Carribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Island, US Virgin Islands.\n
On mainland America: Guyana and Suriname. (off mainland America: ) Bermuda, Falkland Islands.\n
In Oceania: Australia and dependencies, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Nauru, Niue, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu.\n
In Europe: Great Britain and dependencies (Channel Islands, Isle of Man), Cyprus, Ireland, Malta.
Upon review, the map does not correspond to all the info given here (for example, the text says Russia switched to right side driving while the map shows it always did); however both the map and the explanations were taken from the Wikipedia page about left-hand driving.\n
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
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- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
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Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.