Re: UTF-8, ISO C Am.1, and POSIX

From: Robert_Ullmann/CAM/
Date: Tue Aug 19 1997 - 11:59:10 EDT

Offered in some hope that we can return to UTF and other mundane matters:

From Cecil Adams, "Return of the Straight Dope," (New York: Ballantine
Books, 1994), 21-23:

"Seven hundred years ago, everybody used the English system

"In the Middle Ages you kept to the left for the simple reason that you
never knew who you'd meet on the road in those
days; you wanted to make sure that a stranger passed on the right so you
could go for your sword in case he proved

"This custom was given official sanction in 1300 A.D., when Pope Boniface
VIII invented the modern science of traffic
control by declaring that pilgrims headed to Rome should keep left.

"The papal system prevailed until the late 1700s, when teamsters in the
United States and France began hauling farm
products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. These wagons had
no driver's seat; instead the driver sat on the
left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to lash the team.
Since you were sitting on the left, naturally you wanted
everybody to pass on the left so you could look down and make sure you kept
 clear of the other guy's wheels. Ergo, you
kept to the right side of the road. The first known keep-right law in the
United States was enacted in Pennsylvania in 1792,
and in the ensuing years many states and Canadian provinces followed suit.

"In France the keep-right custom was established in much the same way. An
added impetus was that, this being the era of
the French Revolution and all, people figured, hey, no pope gonna tell me
what to do. Later Napoleon enforced the
keep-right rule in all countries occupied by his armies, and the custom
endured long after the empire was destroyed.

"In small-is-beautiful England, though, they didn't use monster wagons that
 required the driver to ride a horse; instead the
guy sat on a seat mounted on the wagon. What's more, he usually sat on the
right side of the seat so the whip wouldn't hang
up on the load behind him when he flogged the horses. (Then, as now, most
people did their flogging right-handed.) So the
English continued to drive on the left... Keeping left first entered
English law in 1756, with the enactment of an ordinance
governing traffic on the London Bridge, and ultimately became the rule
throughout the British Empire.

"The trend among nations over the years has been toward driving on the
right, but Britain has done its best to stave off
global homogenization. Its former colony India remains a hotbed of leftist
sentiment, as does Indonesia, which was occupied
by the British in the early nineteenth century. The English minister to
Japan achieved the coup of his career in 1839 when he
persuaded his hosts to make keep-left the law in the future home of Toyota
and Mitsubishi.

"Nonetheless, the power of the right has been growing steadily. When
Germany annexed Austria in 1938, it brutally
suppressed the latter's keep-left rights, and much the same happened in
Czechoslovakia in 1939. The last holdouts in
mainland Europe, the Swedes, finally switched to the right in 1967 because
most of the countries they sold Saabs and
Volvos to were righties and they got tired of having to make different
versions for domestic use and export.

"The current battleground is the island of Timor. The Indonesians, who own
west Timor, have been whiling away the hours
exterminating the native culture of the east Timorese. The issue? Some say
it's religion, some say it's language, but I know
the truth: in east Timor, they drive on the right, in west Timor they drive
 on the left."

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