The topic of women’s right to vote bothers me, and not for the reason you’d think. Switzerland had a referendum on the subject in 1971 and since then women could vote in some parts of it. About the last country in Europe to go through with this, but it differs as the cantons have quite a bit of independence. Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI) was directed to allow women to vote by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland in 1991.
The concept seems right looking from the distance, but it’s not so obvious when you think about it.
Women are sharp as hell, and I have one at home who gives me the run of my life, but the original idea was to have one political vote per family - not to stop women from having their voices heard.
The husband and the wife would sit down and figure out what they want in an election.
Having them vote separately just divides the family, it’s nonsense and it makes our societies weaker, also allows voting by the gut feel, not by the merit, as there is no meaningful analysis what’s best for the family.
It’s not a great idea, but it looks good on paper.
Fast forward to the real time, the summertime, I was riding through the forests the other day thinking about a quote from Charles Bukowski, a German-American writer.
He said “find what you love and let it kill you”, and I think this is about the best life advice I heard. And I found what I love – you are reading it now, maybe you read my book too.
And I always preferred artists over scientists.
The difference is that a scientist says a simple thing in a hard way, and an artist says a hard thing in a simple way.
So, on a beautiful weekend I rode between the lakes, seven hours on the Yamaha and I was exhausted. At some point the bike was flashing low gas light for a long while and I was sweating bullets going through the wilderness.
Finally I found a gas station in a small town, got a drink and nice sandwich there to recover.
“Everything all right?” Said the lady.
“No, but thanks for asking.”
“How far are you from home?”
“About two tanks of gas.”
She must have seen something in my face and said: “you know, if you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you still have a soul left to lose.”
“I am with you.”
“I was going really fast because my bike was running out of gas.”
“That’s not how it works,” she laughed.
“I am a risk taker.”
“We’re here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us. “ She said giving me the credit card back.
Back home my wife said that I am mad going that fast and far and for too long and she may be right, but I won’t change, too late for that.
Every time her arguments corner me and I don’t have a good answer, I think, “you're better off alone, you're better off than me, but every time I'm gone I'm everything you need.”
Must be living right or something.
*Credits to Dorothy Parker and Charles B. for some of the words above.
Geography is the bedrock of human society but it doesn’t get much attention when we think about the world.
At some point the Harvard University even dropped the geography department altogether. And these are the same guys who recently lost a cool billion from their pension fund, because their investment strategy was kind of, you know, off.
There is more to geography than meets the eye and it is crucial to the fate of nations. For instance, countries in tempered climate do better than the ones in the tropics.
Just look at Africa, where the top layer and the bottom layer of the continent are richer than the middle. Economically it is shaped like a McDonald sandwich.
South America works the same way. In terms of GDP per capita it is led by Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, all tempered weather places.
In tropics, the agriculture is less efficient; some say you get half the output for your efforts. There is no winter insect kill, diseases are easier to catch witch shortens the lifespan, so if you’re a trained engineer or a doctor there, you will not contribute to society as long as, say, in Europe.
To be fair, some tropical countries played it right – just look at Thailand or Singapore. They developed their strengths in tech and finance.
Singapore is going to benefit big time from Hong-Kong’s fall, which will be messy and long, and the capital is leaving already from there – if you’re a financial institution and have a trillion dollars to park, would Hong-Kong be your choice anymore?
In Europe the diversity always helped with progress, and the continent is really a peninsula with smaller peninsulas separated by everything geographical you can think of.
All the main rivers start from the Alps and spread like a car wheel design. Moving goods on water is about one-tenth of the cost of moving them on a highway. For an economy to be competitive this is a do-or-die factor. Problem is their rivers don’t interconnect.
Still, the diversity is Europe’s strength as people learn from each other, good and bad.
The concept of the EU, while looking great on paper, gets in the way of that, which is why I’m not a fan.
To be clear – EU is in the process of disintegrating and I see the covid scare as a desperate attempt to regain control. Switching people’s attention from politics to health.
The geography of Europe is in a stark contrast to China, where the main two rivers are parallel, the coast is round and there is a chain of islands out the coast that can be easily blocked for trade and military traffic by a powerful enemy.
I can name two easily– US and Japan. They both beat China in naval power big time.
This is the reason, not even looking at economical factors (and there are many going against them), why China will never become a global power, as it never did in history.
By now they have peaked in everything except for military build-up, but the thing about the army is not the hardware – it’s the experience of the people who run it, and that takes decades to earn, like a couple of World Wars.
Meaning – winning them.
So, no – China will not do anything of importance anytime soon.
They do silly things - their response to viruses being transmitted from animals is nothing short of criminal: wouldn’t you close all those live animals markets to prevent the next wave?
Let’s keep it light at the end, as I always do.
Lightness keeps me in shape – it’s that and the V-max when I’m moving high speed down the highway (the number of it is 404, the fastest one).
Now, imagine a good guitar, harmonica and low voice playing this:
“My baby did a low down dirty thing,
My baby, she turned my mind to mush.
She had the gangster lean lookin' a little flushed
She took my liquor and left me the can to crush”.
And that’s Billy Gibbons, thank you for these lines man.
Bitch took my liquor and left me the can to crush.
If you’re the government you divide the people any way you can, typically using religion or race, but whatever the ploy (the current one is health) they invoke a human response where people fear the other group. So you divide and conquer – the best way to manage any nation, as it has been done throughout the centuries. Note that you can't fool the markets - they're starting to perform in anticipation of a major financial crisis.
I admit that my view of governments is a little sinister, likely because of me growing up in a communist country, but hey, surprise me to the upside.
My teachers in the high school put this way of critical thinking into my head, and these were the best days of learning about life. Most fun, for sure.
Then the University didn’t even come close in the level of intellectual development so I had to do it on my own, reading like mad, but ever since I graduated, I am not a big believer in formal education.
I guess I'm in the age where I am trying to find my place - I ride wild motorcycles, do other bold things, but I can’t work the computer too good so I don’t bother people on social media, but you know I can read you the moment we meet.
I can’t create a power point presentation with all the graphics and photos, I guess that puts limits to my engineering carrier, but I can write an essay every week that is read around the world. And I wrote one book that is explosive.
I am also a good engineer, you better believe it.
Engineering used to be about hardware, but now it is about power point and colors. Here is my take on it – most companies around don’t understand what engineering does and what it can add to the business. A big miss, but this will get back to normal eventually.
Not my definition of progress, but here it is - start asking the right questions, then we’re going to learn a lot from each other.
I saw the news today and what a mistake that was.
Before Great Britain leaves the EU by the end of the year (and stops paying a fortune into it) there is a massive flow of illegal emigrants on boats, and the outrageous thing is that the French navy is acting as an escort (just Google this nonsense).
Chances of the scores of young men coming from the Middle East and integrating into British society are slim to none. Most have no skills to offer, otherwise they would get their stuff in order at home and stay there. Pretty obvious.
There may be some oppressed pregnant women escaping the Middle East, but likely less than one per boat, I would think.
They’re calling for a nice summer day tomorrow, so guess what – I am going to bolt out on my big bike first thing in the morning. Hasta la vista.
Flâneur is my profession, it is an ancient term meaning not being guided by constrains. Every now and then I pay dearly for it, but hell – I’m still around.
I had some free time recently, so I was sitting and thinking, because you know – if I don’t have the time I am just sitting.
According to a leading expert, and that would be me, Canada is the nicest place on Earth. We’re good looking, I know that, we’re super diverse, the people here have positive energy and are doing cool things. Get this – the cold winter doesn’t bother me, this is how good this country is. The summers are hot and steamy and most people in Europe are surprised when I say how we cool our houses and use our swimming pools well into the fall.
We respect people who take risks and this is a big one for me, because this is the difference between a society that is alive and one that is not so much. If you go to a major airport in the US there is a lane “Military personnel first”, as they respect people who risk their life.
Try to find that at the Frankfurt airport.
We humans are lousy at detecting deception, and since the life kicks me from continent to continent with some frequency, I developed some skills in reading people.
First thing I look at is the hair; does it look healthy and well groomed?
It’s not that it needs to be, but you start getting the feeling about a person.
Then the lips, and we don’t really know how our lips look like. We tend to compress them if something bothers us, or open slightly if we’re interested to hear more or we’re upset, and these are emotions, meaning that there is a character behind them.
I used to believe that the eyes are windows to the soul but I don’t anymore. Eyes can reveal lack of sleep, sickness, or indifference.
And the way you look at others can be managed.
Body language reveals more.
Something else I learned moving around - we’re about to undergo a demographic shift, life expectancy is expanding and birth rates are contracting dramatically, so we’re moving into the period when there will be more older people than younger people. And so the political structure will not be driven by those who are driving creativity, but those who are interested in preserving the status quo.
Add to this the covid damage done to society with restrictions for no reason really.
The government pays hospitals if you die with the corona virus for those who lack insurance. Therefore, if you are shot or born 15 weeks premature, or are in an automobile accident or drink yourself to death or have a stroke or heart attack or suicide you have just died of the corona virus.
The other part is the damage to the economy.
A Delta Airline executive said recently that they make money if the plane is full, and they make profit on the last four passengers. On my flight across the Atlantic there was 49 passengers, and the plane capacity was 300. How do you think this will end?
Sadly, there is no leadership anymore to guide the course, the authorities didn’t come through in the moment of challenge.
So I have my own rule that keeps me in shape – don’t ask “when” or “what” or “who”.
Why was Beirut attacked the other day? Abu Dhabi the day after.
We will never get the answers, but I will still push the envelope – there is a reason I bought a 200hp bike and not a relaxed Harley-Davidson.
The wild Yamaha better fits my nature.
My old boss once told me - take all the risks you want, but make sure you’re in tomorrow.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler