Sunday, July 26, 2015


Serbia, which writes its own name as Србија, has produced at least two of the world's most mildly almost-famous people of very little importance really, the tennis player Novak Djokovic and the slightly more significant Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the man who invented the AC (alternating current) induction motor, which made the universal transmission and distribution of electricity possible, though Swann and Edison were getting there at the same time. Tesla was obsessed with the number three, as you can discover for yourself by watching this video, which unfortunately seeks to prove that the coincidental repetition of the number three in integral mathematics is also proof of the existence of God, and thereby undermines its own rationalistic legitimacy.

Serbia is rather more distinguished for its incipience of international wars, of which the first was the First World War of 1914; the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Gavrilo Princip led to a declaration of war against Serbia, and the rest of Europe's royal families joined the squabble very quickly, dragging several million non-royals to their deaths and effectively bringing European civilisation as they knew it to a close.

The second was the Balkans War of 1989, a consequence of the break-up of Communist Yogoslavia after Tito's death, but really a set of ethnic hatreds that had been waiting for several hundred years to be let out. Slobodan Milošević, the first post-Communist Serbian leader, wasted no time in setting the wild beast loose, with genocides in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, the ones at Srebrenica and Žepa being the most famous, because these were the two which ended in war crimes tribunals.

All of which makes Serbia sound like a particularly unpleasant place. Lonely Planet, which can always find something nice to say about anywhere, strongly disagrees: "Warm, welcoming and a hell of a lot of fun" it tells us, though the next phrase, "everything you never heard about Serbia is true" is mildly alarming, because the one thing I have certainly never heard is that Serbia is "warm, welcoming and a hell of a lot of fun", especially at Banjica, or Sajmište, or Jasenovac, known as "the Auschwitz of the Balkans", or any of the other Hitlerian death camps at which the Serbs rehearsed the Balkans genocide.  "Exuding a feisty mix of élan and inat (Serbian trait of rebellious defiance)", Lonely Planet continues, "this country doesn’t do ‘mild’: Belgrade is one of the world’s wildest party destinations." I think this is why I tend to read Amnesty International's website, or Human Rights Watch, before I go on a visit to a country (perhaps Lonely Planet should sub-title itself "a bird's-eye-view of the world", but with a picture of an ostrich, and not of any other bird). Not that I want to hear about human brutality all the time; simply a choice between seeing God in mathematics or being electrocuted by an AC rather than a DC adapter (volts hurt, amps kill).

Marks for: 3
Marks against: 6

Total Marks: 9

Significance: God, or Zero

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