Tonight, I surpassed my own record for uninterrupted TV viewing – 48 minutes (counting from 6:23 p.m. on July 9, 2011, when I joined the “quantified self” revolution). And it was time well spent. In addition to the more political spots I noted earlier, I particularly enjoyed the coverage of the “tide of the century” alongside France’s Atlantic coast. Euronews showed throngs of excited tourists, with some of them sharing on camera their thrill at seeing the sight of a lifetime (technically true, if they would not live past another 18 years or so). And how was the same “story” presented on Bulgaria’s most watched, private TV channel? Apparently, there had been forecasts for 15-meter waves. But the wind had died down, and the mini-tsunami had not materialized – so many tide-watchers had been deeply disappointed.
This twist reminded me of why The Economist had bestowed upon my deer mother/fatherland the honor of being the unhappiest country on Earth as proportionate to GDP. Which reminded me of a conference panel where a few years ago I tried to joke pointing to this unique aspect of Bulgarian culture. The chair of the panel commended me for being such a good representative of my native country. In fact, a few years back I wrote a conference paper trying to concoct a complicated socioeconomicopolitical explanation for Bulgaria’s unfortunate – but hardly surprising – cultural trajectory. Then a scientific study found it all boiled down to genes – with Danes and those most closely related to the former horn-helmeted thugs topping the “happiness” charts. Damn it, I should have expected to get it all wrong, too!