I was riding north on the A5 towards Heidelberg, pushing it hard on the (mostly) no speed limit German highway. My only concern was that my luggage for the weekend would come loose and fly off as I was approaching speeds illegal anywhere else in the world and the wind force was brutal. Eventually I hit the speed limiter and had to slow down. No, not in the bike, but I lifted my head from behind the little screen and was not able to put it back down.
I live for the rush, adapting to the unknown.
Later, it started raining, so I stopped under an overpass to put my rain gear on.
I could get the sniff from the fields on both sides of the highway.
As I was waiting for the rain to let up I was thinking how Europe is a special please peopled with cultures as different as night and day. And there are no secrets in Europe, everyone’s noses are perennially in everyone else’s business.
Germany cannot hide how good they are, and that makes them a target. Its mere existence is interpreted by everyone as an existential threat.
The solution? Attack first, and they did it twice in the last century.
It needs to be understood that the European Union is able to exist because the United States keeps the European countries safe from both outside powers and one another. With Germany in the same currency zone as moribund economies, the price of the Euro is weaker than a purely German currency would have been. The exports exploded.
The problem with EU is that you have a single currency, but you don’t have a single economy.
Germany, for one, has this mercantilist view of the world that dates back to the eighteenth century. Lets make stuff, sell it to the rest of the world and bring the money back home. Germany never focused on developing the domestic market. The result is that even the EU statistics show the per capita worth of an Italian household on a net basis is higher than a German. The Germans are focused on international trade, which is nonsense, because it’s the domestic consumption that makes all the difference.
What’s more, remove the American security overwatch and the whole European thing comes crashing down. Then the Germans either need to massively deindustrialize so that their economy matches their current military power, or they need to massively re-arm so that their military can sustain their current economic power. Take a guess which way they will go.
And inaction is not an option, and the reason for it is the fact that as big as Germany is, the Germans will never enjoy a quantitative advantage over their collective competitors. They are located in the middle of North European Plane, with no mountains in the east and the west to provide natural protection.
Germany is a quirky place and I actually like it. 60% of their firms are not listed and kept private, which means that they can’t raise money in the stock market to operate - they need to go to a bank for a loan. Subsequently any swings in business environment have a magnified effect on their banking system. Now, you have a bank with the country’s name in it (Deutsche) on life support for the longest time and its stock price is in single digits. It sells at about 6 Euro a share as I write it, used to be about 120 just ten years ago. Sad story, this.
Going back to my weekend trip, the WIFI was working only in the reception area (in a four-star place) and they displayed a sign that telefax services are available around the clock. I was making my way to dinner when I saw it and I thought – did they just defrost you?
In 1997 two distinguished scholars, Myron Scholes and Robert Merton, shared the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on methods to valuate financial instruments called derivatives. Subsequently they teamed up with a veteran Wall Street banker named John Meriwetherin a company called Long Term Capital Management.
The fund blew up spectacularly in 1998 almost taking the Western financial system down with it. Which is hilarious, or it would be if not for all the money lost and damage to the economy. It took a consortium of 14 major banks led under the gun by Federal Reserve to restore liquidity in the markets.
Perhaps the problem with university professors is that they live in their heads, with little interest and understanding how the life works in the trenches.
If they did, they would realize that common sense is the most misleading tool one can use to forecast events.
I wouldn’t call it hubris, just a disconnect from reality.
What is hubris, however, is the practice of governments to manipulate interest rates (price of money in time) in an attempt to combat the old and true business cycle by making funding artificially cheap. I’ll be kind and say that the results are mixed.
And the counter argument to this logic is really simple:
Low interest rates force people to savemore, not spendmore. If the rate of return is low, one needs to save more for retirement, for the house, for children’s education. This fact flies in the face of European Central Bank’s QE policy.
Obviously they have a different goal in mind – keep the debt of member states artificially cheap, so they don’t blow up like the LTCM.
The Greek 10 year bond now pays 2.7% a year. How disconnected from reality is that? Add a zero to that number for a sanity check. Greece is not even a real country – it was always a proxy for somebody else.
So, for this sweet arrangement to work somebody has to suffer because the economy is zero sum game, so here it is.
The pension funds need 7 – 8% return to meet their obligations. Where are the investment grade instruments that pay that? Out of necessity they’re chasing risky debt (like Turkish bonds, which add currency risk as their lira is in a free fall).
Note that in a global economy every investment needs to filtered through currency risk.
I am of the opinion that the system will reset itself at some point, it could be in a few months or in a few years, but it will, and it could be the biggest trade of our lives.
Take the United States, the strongest economy in the world. They’re claiming almost full employment and at the same time forecasting trillion dollars budget deficits as far as the eye can see. This doesn’t make any sense any way you look at it.
So how can the reset look like? There are a few elements that are clear already.
First, the value of all sovereign debt out there and the value of all currencies is purely based on people’s confidence in governments. There is nothing else backing it up since Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard in 1971.
This confidence is still running pretty high, as indicated by the price of gold, which is trading sideways for the last few years. Gold is not a hedge against inflation, is a hedge against governments loosing control over their economies.
When the stats go up, watch down below.
Granted, gold is not what it used to be – with all these metal detectors at the airports and elsewhere it is hard to move, almost like a real estate. Which may explain the ultra high prices paid for paintings – it’s way easier to cut them out from the frame, roll them up and move to wherever you want to be next.
That’s playing it safe, not being confident about knowing how things will work out.
Second thing is, the bondholders will eventually take a haircut. Notice that in a liquidation mode, any listed firm has tangible assets that will give some money back. Government bonds are backed by nothing.
It looks to me that the big money is getting ready for something. Don’t underestimate them.
I was riding from the village of Barcaggio on the northern cap of Corsica through the high mountains to Calvi, a city on the west coast of the island.
The narrow and winding road wasn’t like anything I experienced before, great views and all that, but steep and difficult. I passed the sign “Calvi 70 km” when the brakes on my BMW started to give a squeaking sound and I realized that they were overheating, as I had the bike fully serviced before the trip.
Still, I was pushing it, adrenaline pumping through my veins to the point I misjudged a turn and a white RV appeared right in front of me and I had two choices: hit it or drop the bike. I did the latter and as I was lying on the road with my right leg stuck under the motorcycle I was wondering if someone will hit me from behind.
The late Sergio Marchionne once said: “in life, if you push hard, you crash sometimes.” Guess that day it was my turn.
A group of Italian riders stopped behind me and one of them helped me to get the bike off the ground. It was scratched, but still good to ride.
“You okay?” he looked at me from behind the sunglasses.
“Yeah, just need a minute.”
He gave me a thumb up, climbed on his Multistrada and roared away.
And that left me wonder of what had just happened. My mountain riding skills are likely subpar – I am a cruiser guy, but the situation got me thinking about the perception abilities of my brain. In a fast paced settings one thing to understand is that when your eyes move, you’re blind for a split second, you brain fills up the void a little later. You can’t see your eyes move in the mirror, can you? The brain instead takes what it knows from before and after and stiches it together.
In tennis, with a really fast serve, the brain comprehends the location of the ball about 7m behind from where it already is. Of course you more or less know where it’s going to be, the brain makes predictions knowing its limitations. That is how tennis works and that’s why you can’t catch a fly in mid air (which moves about eight times slower than the tennis ball) because the linear predictions aren’t working. The fly moves randomly.
What’s more, when you see a scene you see everything together – the color the motion and the shape. But in the brain all these features are pulled apart and processed in different areas. They’re also processed at different speeds – color is processed more quickly than motion, which is processed more quickly than form.
When you open your eyes and look to the world there is one thing that you’re not seeing – and that is what’s happening now.
I kept going to Calvi, marveling the village signs shot up with high caliber weapons and French names painted over in back leaving just the Corsican dialect below.
It’s a special place – rough, beautiful and pristine.
On the Friday evening in Ajaccio after I checked in the hotel and parked my motorcycle, I went to the port for a dinner. It was a Fisherman Night, all seafood, all the time plus a good band playing on the stage. I was enjoying the local wine until my guarding angel told me its time to go. She saved me the day before, so I listened.
She remains me of the young Catherine Deneuve, and I have a week spot for blondes with character.
Her name is Gulnara Karimova, and she is (or was) take your pick: a politician, a Harvard graduate, a singer, a clothing and perfume line creator, a business woman worth over a billion dollars, a celebrity and a fallen angel.
She is 47 now, held under house arrest in her native Uzbekistan, most likely on the orders of her late father. The last news is that she is not well, messed up on drugs, not taking the new reality very good. The Americans seized her assets of about $850M and the Swiss want to talk to her eagerly about some money laundering issues, which stops me cold in my tracks.
And I though life was fast in the old times but its painfully slow today, so she proves me wrong and I like it.
I give you another example of a life in the fast line and it’s a doozy.
In just 19 years Napoleon Bonaparte accomplished this: defeated Austria, Italy and scored a victory against Egypt in July 1798. The next year he invaded the Ottoman Empire. In October 1805, the British wiped him out at the Battle of Trafalgar. In December Napoleon achieved his greatest victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1807, Napoleon defeated the Russians at Friedland, in 1809, he defeated the Austrians at Wagram. Then Napoleon led a massive army into Russia in the summer of 1812. This was followed in 1813 by the Battle of Leipzig (The Battle of Nations). Napoleon then retreated to France, and in his mid-40s, was forced to abdicate the throne. After less than a year in exile, Napoleon escaped Elba and sailed to France with a group of about 1,000 supporters and returned to Paris. King Louis XVIII fled, and Napoleon began his Hundred Days campaign. On June 16 he defeated the Prussians, then he was crushed at Waterloo near Brussels.
Now compare this performance to the Americans being bagged down in Afghanistan for about the same amount of time not having much to show for it.
Some people are just different.
Most of the German Nazi elite were born around the turn of the century. Hitler was a bit older, 44, when he took over the reign of Germany; Goering was 40 at that time. But most of the Nazi top leaders were in the early 30s when they were voted into power (a low for democracy) and then in their mid 40s they were tried at Nurnberg. The point is that the Nazi regime and war that followed was engineered by a group of young men drunk on power.
Now, I am spending the evening in Calvi, Corsica, and will ride to the Maison Bonaparte in Ajaccio in the morning, to visit the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family (it was in their possession until 1967).
Staying in a hotel with a view of the citadel of Calvi, I am reminded that it is the base of the 2nd Parachute Regiment of the French Foreign Legion. It’s part of the spearhead of the French rapid reaction force having been engaged in covert operations in most of the world's flash points in modern history. The French commandos also operate in the sub-Saharan regions where even the Yanks are hesitant to engage.
I listened to a talk by an ex-commando and teacher now, about what they look for when they recruit. “The shooting, fighting or swimming are all teachable skills”, he said. “The thing we look for is mental toughness. We look for guys who will keep going, never give up.”
Maybe this is how accelerated life happens, good and bad.
The Po Valley is a major geographical feature of Northern Italy, it runs from the Western Alps to the Adriatic Sea. This is Italian core territory and it is unlike anything else in the world.
The Po Valley is a rich land with a perfect climate nearly encapsulated by some of the world’s most rugged mountains, making the Po more secure than the United Kingdom.
In fact, that’s how we should think of the Po -- as an island. Separate from Europe, separate even from the rest of Italy, it is the center of Italian industrial heft.
In the world before World War II the Po Valley was the economic powerhouse of both: Europe and the Greater Mediterranean.
On the west side of the valley, located on the banks of the Po River is the city of Torino (Turin).
Its known, among other things, as the home of the Shroud of Turin, an important, if controversial, religious artifact of the Catholic faith. Many are convinced that the Shroud is the sepulchral cloth of Jesus Christ resurrected there after thirty-forty hours from the wrapping.
From a scientific point of view the shroud is important because it shows a double image of a man so far not reproducible nor explainable. It is an ancient linen cloth, which enveloped the corpse of a 5’10” crucified man, and the pattern of bloodstains is compatible with the torturous wounds inflicted upon Jesus as recorded in all four New Testament Bible Gospel accounts.
The blood stains are still red, which indicates thepresence of biliverdin, caused by the degradation of hemoglobin in the blood, typical of a traumatized person.
Unlike the image, the blood stains on the shroud fully penetrate the cloth front to back.
The most significant conclusion from extended studies and examination of the shroud is that there are no visible traces of any artistic substances on the cloth to account for the image.It is a discoloration of the cloth as a result of something having caused the accelerated dehydration and oxidation of the cellulose linen fibers but only in those areas immediately surrounding a body.
The image is uniform in intensity throughout the entire cloth with no variation in density or color—an impossible feat for any artist of the Middle Ages or earlier.
It is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color, and this negative image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate. A good question is: How could a medieval “artist” make or take a photo negative when photography was not introduced to the world until 500 years later?
The shroud was last displayed for public viewing in 2005 and millions of faithful show up to see it.
It is kept in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, located within a complex of buildings, which includes the Turin Cathedral and the Royal Palace.
It was a cloudy and rainy Sunday afternoon and I was sitting in a Café at Piazza Castello, looking at the Palazzo Reale di Torinoand the long line of people waiting to see the “Leonardo da Vinci – Hidden Treasures” exposition inside.
In the corner of the Piazza was a large Huawei billboard, prominently displayed.
It snapped me back to reality and I was wondering how much longer it is going to stay there, given recent developments.
Just a few days earlier the U.S. government put the Chinese telecoms giant on an export black list, which prohibits American firms from selling them high-tech components.
Huawei’s corporate strategy – which is to say, the strategy of China’s intelligence services – was to grant massive discounts on the installation of a network’s less critical bits on the condition that Huawei can also install and maintain the cores. The problem all along was that Huawei is not technologically self-sufficient - it remains heavily dependent upon tech imports from the United States.
The Chinese not only wanted the world to pay them to spy on global communications, they expected the Americans to enable the scheme.
In which universe did they think this silly idea would fly?
In the world of high stake espionage if you go in to stop the other guys, you go in hard, hence the full stop of business with Huawei.
As Robert DeNiro’s character in the classic movie “Ronin” says:
“If there is a doubt, then there are no doubts anymore.
That’s the first thing they teach you.”
“I forgot, that’s the second thing they teach you.”
The trade war between US and China, the biggest in modern American history,seems to have some aspects not picked up by the media.
As the pressure on China increased, a strange accident occurred last Sunday morning - Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were attacked while sailing toward the Persian Gulfand as many as four ships were damaged. The details are murky, but the reaction laud:Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the incident aims “to undermine (…) the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world”. He urged “to mitigate against the adverse consequences (…) on energy markets, and the danger they pose to the global economy.”The US Navy’s 5thfleet which patrols the Persian Gulf from its base in Bahrain declined to comment on the incident.
It should be noted, that the Chinese economic model depends on the security of long maritime supply lines (both into and out of the country) which China is not able to guarantee on their own, they need the US navy to do that.
It could be that president Trump wants US to be paid for this protection, and the incident in the Gulf served as reminder of who’s got the upper hand.
He is a businessman after all.
As a side note, given the level of tension it is amazing that the stock markets are still priced for perfection.
Trade with the US has one aspect many don’t realize – it lubricates the international financial system by doubling the money that is called US “trade deficit”.
In essence, limiting the trade will have a double negative effect on the suppliers.
The trade works like this: let’s say a firm from Japan sells $1M worth of products to a customer in the US. Their invoice gets paid in US$ for which the Japanese have little use – most of their costs are in Yen, they pay taxes and dividends in Yen.
So, they deposit the $1M in a bank and the money eventually lands at the BOJ, the central bank of Japan.
BOJ creates out of thin air the equivalent of $1M in Yen which then goes to the firm’s account. Now, BOJ also has little use for the dollars, but they have options: they can deposit them at the Federal Reserve or buy American government bonds, in both cases earning an interest.
At the end of this transaction the dollars end up back in the US and there is a fresh equivalent in new Yen on deposit in Japan.
The amount of money involved doubled, and consider that US trade deficit in 2018 was $621 billion, where typically the purchase of goods was offset by the sale of government bonds.
The bottom line is, the size of US trade deficit totally depends on the accounting scheme applied.
To be sure, the bonds are never re-paid, just “rolled over” at maturity.
The real issue is this: by trading financial instruments for real goods the domestic manufacturing base is being destroyed. Trump wants to stop that, as this impacts the lives of people who got him elected and he made promises.
If you have the feeling that there is no free lunch in real life, you’re right. While the bonds sold represent just an accounting entry, the interest payments are real – the compounded interests the US pays out is almost the size of Pentagon budget.
A kid with a calculator will realize quickly that this can’t go on forever.
Hence the governments all over the world have a history of defaulting on their sovereign debt. Some are serial defaulters, like Argentina, some have a history of extending maturities at will, suspending coupon payments and the like.
The Italians practically wrote a book on that.
I have little doubt that the US will be the last to default and it will be the least painful process, perhaps converting debt to equity.
The demand for US bonds and equities remains strong – the money needs to be parked somewhere, and US has the deepest and most liquid markets.
It’s a waiting game – and nobody wants to blink first.
Reading this title gives the feeling immediately that something is wrong with it.
We all know that life is not linear, we just live it as if it were. Some of the experiences occupy bigger space than others in our minds. It’s like Kramer on the Seinfeld comedy show saying – “New Orleans! I spent there a month one night!”
Life is never linear, it is organic, and so is intelligence too.
But in life we accept this myth a lot, settling down, reducing expectations.
Starting with education, which is painfully linear – put all the six year olds together and apply the same teaching scheme. Why we do it is beyond me – they are not the same and never will be. Well, they may be if we apply enough pressure and force them to complete the process successfully. Which means they just quit being curious about the world.
We move them through the schooling system, then as adults they go to work, get promoted or not, then they retire.
It’s like the great song says:
“What I've felt
What I've known
Never shined through in what I've shown
Won't see what might have been”
If the educational system remains you of something, you’re not alone – it’s an industrial assembly line, which is obvious, as the mass education is the product of industrial revolution.
Some people get out of this because of their imagination and creativity.
The difference between these two terms is this – creativity is putting imagination to work.
It’s not really where you start, it’s what inside of you. And if you don’t succeed you do it again, because you create your life, and so you can also re-crate it.
Sadly, we make poor use of our talents. Many people go through their lives without knowing what their talents are, or if they even have any.
These are people who don’t enjoy what they do – they simply wait for the weekend. Then they are people who love what they do and can’t imagine doing anything else. Because it isn’t what they do – it’s who they are.
I am of the opinion that there is less and less space available in our lives to communicate, and I see this as a problem. We have no time to absorb, process and integrate what’s going on. In a society where people are less and less connected to their gut feelings, there is less understanding of the outside world.
How many of us had a strong gut feeling about something, ignored it and then were sorry afterwards? Or the other way around, and this is the real kicker: how many of you had a strong gut feeling, ignored it and were glad afterwards?
I can’t ask for a show of hands, but I know the answer, because its one of the things that go deep with people.
I will quit my rambling now and leave you with a few bits of news on EU integration progress, that are stranger than fiction. I think they’re hilarious really. The Dutch KLM airline wanted to acquire a stake in Air France and the French government called it this “outrageous”.
Some days later president Macron announced that the Italian language will no longer be thought in French schools. You can't make this stuff up.
How the mind moves a person through the world is interesting and I take keen interest in how it works and how much I can possibly get out of it.
The mind has two parts – the subconscious mind is the original brain and can process up to 40 million bits of data from the environment every second, and then there is the conscious part. The first is very powerful and very fast but it’s totally habitual. It’s not creative and only plays back what it learns.
In evolution, the frontal part of the brain gave rise to consciousness. Consequently, creativity is an add-on option, and many people don’t exercise it that much.
And it can process only about 40 bits of data per second, which makes the subconscious mind million times more powerful.
That’s why in emergency or stress people operate from the first one - it can handle a lot of data simultaneously.
They say that we’re conscious for about five percent of our cognitive activity. Therein lies the problem for some – if you’re more than that, you may struggle a little. Of course, there is a flip side to that statement – if you’re creative, then you will figure out how to make best of it, even if there is no manual how to do it.
A great example of human creativity is Las Vegas – a city that has no reason to be where it is. It’s not located in a natural harbor, at a river or in the arable land – it’s in the desert, the heat gets unbearable and there is no water nowhere close to it. And yet it is one of the fastest growing cities in North America – the level of creativity and collaboration there is impressive.
It could be that we spend too much time talking about the genes, but there is something more important shaping human interaction. Each of us is made out of some 50 trillion cells and they all are living entities. Every cell in your body has a minus voltage on the inside and positive voltage of the outside. Every live cell is a battery – each one about 1.4 volts. Multiply it by the number of cells – it’s about 700 trillion volts of electricity in your body right now. So, while you see yourself as a physical entity, you’re an energy wave that interacts with others. Ever wondered why you turned to a person in the next car because you felt like she just looked at you? Your thoughts are not contained in your head – they’re out there.
All plants and animals communicate with vibration – the gazelle doesn’t have to go to the lion to find out if he is a friend. She feels the bad vibes from the distance.
If we, when we were young, were thought to be sensitive to these vibrations we wouldn’t find ourselves in bad relationships and bad places. But we are usually told to go with what people say and language was designed in some part to hide feelings.
It is vital to recognize that your thoughts and your judgments are not just connected to you – they’re connected to other people. The person that will respond to your thoughts is the one that is harmonically resonant. All you need to do is find her.
The Canadian province of Alberta held elections on April 16 and the implications of their results are anything but usual.
Alberta is an interesting place. Strong economic growth, a robust energy sector, and center-right political leanings - trends broadly disconnected from the reputation and reality of the rest of the country.
Within that disconnect lies the problem.
Alberta has long been the Canadian province suffering from the largest gap between what it pays to Ottawa compared to what it gets back in terms of federal spending.
And the rest of Canada doesn’t even use much of Alberta’s crude, opting instead for lighter imports, stymying the energy industry that forms the backbone of the Albertan economy with everything from carbon taxes to blocking transport routes for the landlocked province’s crude to reach refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
If you think restricting a region’s economic growth while depending on its tax payments is not a promising long-term strategy, you’re not alone. While more people are aware of Quebec’s independent streak, plenty within the Albertan political mainstream have had enough. And thanks to Quebec’s long-standing desire to separate from Canada, any future Albertan separatist referendum would be perfectly legal.
The Albert’s United Conservatives now hold 62 seats in the 87-seat parliament, and, with victory cemented; many Albertans now look forward to a shift in the provinces’ fortunes.
The United Conservatives are running on public dissatisfaction against carbon taxes, a lack of pipelines, and an unequal system of taxation by a federal government. With Canada’s population aging into mass retirement, transfers from Alberta to the center can only increase in the future.
The problem is, that Canada’s provinces lack the legal standing to challenge the central government on such topics. Prime Minister Trudeau needs Alberta’s tax dollars to hold Canada together, and what Alberta is asking for is quite literally an end of Canada.
This Alberta Question has two possible outcomes.
The first is an Albertan collapse. Economically, the province’s strength is resource extraction. The Albertans inability to bring their crude to market leaves them staring down an economic depression while also facing ever higher financial demands from Ottawa.
Outcome Two requires a sharp break with convention, as it is nothing less than Albertan secession.
Alberta isn’t dependent on the federal government’s financial handouts like other provinces. It has an energy sector, public infrastructure, educational system and workforce that has drawn plenty of international investment interest on its own. Negotiating export pipelines directly with the United States would be infinitely easier than with Canadian governments, especially since the U.S. Gulf Coast is home to the only concentration of refineries in the world that can process Albertan heavy crudes.
Add to this the fact that Canadian provinces work better north south than east west. Its an unusual design of a country: Quebec and Ontario have more in common with the US East Cost than with Vancouver for example. Saskatchewan and Manitoba naturally gravitate towards the Dakotas, and British Columbia has more connections with US West Coast that with the rest of Canada. What is also resurfacing are the regional differences within Canada.
The structure of the central banks was originally intended to manage the domestic capital flows, but it doesn’t function like this anymore.
One-size-fits-all interest rate policy of central banks pits provinces against each other, because it ignores the fact that domestic economies are not the same from one province to the next. The commodity – producing provinces are booming when the financial provinces are at their lows.
Farmers, oil producers and miners in central Canada are forced to pay higher interest rates when their economies are declining because of speculative booms in Toronto and Vancouver.
Add to this the rising tide of environmentalists that has seriously impacted Alberta’s economy to the point that people no longer seek engineering degrees in energy or exploration. In Canada, the left is urging lawsuits against oil companies to force them to pay for the damage to the climate. Maybe they all should just quit, lay off workers, stop paying taxes and we go back to the campfires to survive the winter in the North.
In Alberta, none of the major parties campaigned on separation, either in 2015 or 2019, but that doesn’t mean that the topic isn’t about to show up in provincial political discussions.
For Canadians everywhere, that alone should be terrifying.
License plates on the black Cadillac parked outside the restaurant read “TRMP TRN”. And it was no surprise, Midwest is Trump’s territory, and I was in a small town in southwestern Ohio ready to order my breakfast, enjoying the sunny Saturday morning.
“I will have the kippers,” I said when the blonde waitress showed up.
“Supertramp fan?” she was quick.
“Just took a jumbo across the water,” the great song was still on my mind.
And actually I just did take a Jumbo across the Atlantic.
She laughed briefly and I wondered why a person of this mind is waiting tables.
Maybe it’s because our education is a protracted system of university entrance and the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think that they’re not.
Interestingly, there was no public education before the XIX century; it all came into being as a need of industrialism.
The industrialists set out to figure out how to get people to buy lots of stuff but also how to make sure that the workers were willing to be interchangeable cogs in the machine. And the solution of course was – public education.
We’re running an education system where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is, that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. And creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it with the same status, but instead we built a system that teaches people to fit in. Notice that in life, if you fit in good enough, all it means is that you’re easy to replace.
Did you know that the Icarus story was changed over the years? In the original, the young man was not supposed to fly low, where the sea moisture will get into the feathers, destroy his wings and kill him. He was told by his father to fly high.
I’m a father too, and I would never give any other advice to my kids.
Education is supposed to get us into the future that we can’t grasp, and the unpredictability is extraordinary. The kids in schools now will have their careers in full swing around 2050. We don’t know how the world is going to be in five years, so how can we know what to educate them for?
All we know is that mandatory education makes no sense – nobody ever learned anything against their will, so let’s start with the notion of meaningful work and let’s call it art.
Art is when one human being is doing something that others couldn’t do.
There is no manual how to do it and people who figure it out are worth something. These are people who take the intellectual risk instead of doing repeatable work.
Not financial risks, but emotional risks - putting something out to the world and be willing to let the world respond and react.
So I heard this great story about a girl, who was six in the drawing lesson sitting in the back of the room and the teacher said she never paid attention, and in this drawing lesson she did. The teacher walked to her and asked, “what are you drawing?”
And the girl said – “I’m drawing a picture of God.”
And the teacher said: “but nobody knows how the God looks like.”
The girl said: “they will in a minute.”
The kids will take a chance; they’re not frightened to be wrong.
It’s not that being wrong is the same as being creative, but if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.
And by the time they become adults, most kids have lost that capacity. We got brainwashed into asking for roadmaps instead of asking for compass.
Later that weekend I drove north in a nice black Jeep from the Warren County towards Detroit.
The landscape changed, showing how globalization destroyed businesses and people’s lives like a tsunami.
What used to be the industrial heartland of America is now hollowed out and no wonder that people lost trust in career politicians who watched the destruction happening and did nothing.