Archive for the ‘World’ Category

Diablo

March 1, 2008

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

King James Bible – Peter; Chapter 5, Verse 8

I write from a cheap but good looking desk in an expensive but cheaply furnished hotel in a faceless town tucked into a crease in the hinterlands of a soulless country, wondering why I’m posting again, and why there’s no ice in this place for my whiskey, and what on earth the deal is with non-smoking rooms. I think the latter answers the former, and really goes a long way towards invalidating the quote-of-the-day, but hey, what’s a drink or six between friends?

I have seen the devil, and however out of character my reaction may be, I’m not sure I like him much.

I’ve always subscribed to the belief that there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. I’ve always been convinced that commerce, in its basest form of buying and selling (and any derivative thereof), is fundamentally good. I’ve always been partial to the hustle and bustle of humanity and the untempered flow of raw energy. I’ve always thought I was better off flying solo, until my time came to bid this mortal coil adieu.

All of the above has been slightly flipped on its head in the recent past. In the process, I may have actually learned (or acknowledged) something quite disconcerting about myself. Now don’t get me wrong; I still believe in commerce, and can still probably spend a good few hours walking around Carrefour, eyes agog at the cornucopia of plenty. I still like people, albeit in controlled doses, and energy still carries an indescribable high. The Amelia Earhart bit, though, I’m not so sure about anymore.

Maybe it’s time. Maybe that’s what I’m feeling. Maybe it’s time settle. Maybe it’s time to move back to DTLF-Land and work some semi-menial job that pays semi-well until I hit middle-management and become eligible for the 14 karat gold-plated paperweight, while financing the corrugated cardboard shack, beige Tata Nano and 2.27 kids along the way. If I’ve lost the game, as much as anyone not playing may say I haven’t, then I might as well hurl myself off this low-slung balcony right now. Or settle down and be semi-content for the rest of my life. Ah, the ashes of mediocrity. How I yearn to smear you on my forehead and forsake the taste of possibility for Lent.

But that’s not what INSEADers do, right? INSEAD participants cross the threshold into the “real world”, shoulders squared, heads held high, armed with the wisdom of kings, ready to ride the winds of change, to spin the wheel of fortune, to find their Personal Legends.

So P4 is around the corner…here we go again. Four more months until we step into the maw of the abyss. Smile!

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Please Do Not Use Permanent Markers On The Whiteboards

January 29, 2008

You say that we’ve got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we’re falling apart
You’ll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don’t care

CHORUS:
And I said what about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s?”
She said, “I think I remember the film,
And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it.”
And I said, “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got.”

I see you – the only one who knew me
And now your eyes see through me
I guess I was wrong
So what now? It’s plain to see we’re over,
And I hate when things are over –
When so much is left undone

{CHORUS}

You say that we’ve got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we’re falling apart
You’ll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don’t care

{CHORUS}

“Breakfast At Tiffany’s” – Deep Blue Something

———-

02:04 (GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris

46 hours to make a potentially life-altering decision. The blue smoke of burning leaves over a mist shrouded Seine make for some stunning sunrises. Guess I’ll see another one soon, though it may be one of my last in this country.

Mull, mull, mull. Someone needs to grate some cinnamon on my head, stuff me full of cloves and simmer for 20 minutes. I’m sure I’d make a tasty mulled wine.

On second thought, a little bit of sugar is probably in order, to cut the bitterness.

It’s the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied, it’s time for the big one.
You up for this one, Maverick?
Just a walk in the park Kazansky.

2008

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year to you, wherever you are. May 2008 bring you wealth, health, and happiness.

Shid ald akwentans bee firgot,
an nivir brocht ti mynd?
Shid ald akwentans bee firgot,
an ald lang syn?

CHORUS:
Fir ald lang syn, ma deer,
fir ald lang syn,
Wil tak a cup o kyndnes yet,
fir ald lang syn.

An sheerly yil bee yur pynt-staup!
an sheerly al bee myn!
An will tak a cup o kyndnes yet,
fir ald lang syn.

CHORUS

We twa hay rin aboot the braes,
an pood the gowans fyn;
Bit weev wandert monae a weery fet,
sin ald lang syn.

CHORUS

We twa hay pedilt in the burn,
fray mornin sun til dyn;
But seas between us bred hay roard
sin ald lang syn.

CHORUS

An thers a han, my trustee feer!
an gees a han o thyn!
An wil tak a recht guid-wullae-wocht,
fir ald lang syn.

CHORUS

 

Despacio

August 15, 2007

200+ dead from coordinated IED explosions in Iraq, infrastructure collapse in China, catastrophic flooding in North Korea, alleged terrorist attack in Russia, 35 hour workweeks in France: Situational Normal, All Fucked Up.

Smile! : )

Napolean’s home base looms large, and I’m not too keen on dealing with it. I don’t feel up for the requisite inaugural cigarette on the foreign porch. I don’t feel up for the not-so-stellar summer weather in Fontainebleau (thanks, Weather.com). I don’t feel up for the inherent inefficiencies of the French system. I don’t feel up for school and dealing with Alpha-Squared people.

Life is hurtling forward at Warp Five, and I want it to slow the hell down. I reach for the emergency brake, and all I find is a stale baguette in its place.

 

He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.

 

-Tad Williams

 

El Camino

August 9, 2007

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin…

-J.R.R. Tolkien

Catch you on the flip side.

Nuevo Punto Bajo

August 2, 2007

What do you get when you cross a Cold War Bogeyman with an over-hyped luxury brand? CNN Article here.

THIS:

Gorby

Great picture, but I still feel bad for poor Gorby. He looks like he’s thinking something along the lines of, “What the hell happened to my career?”

We wonder too, Gorby, we wonder too.

Norteamericanos

July 24, 2007

I love American tourists. They’re so cute. I want to take one home in one of those shoulder-slung LV dog carrier that American females seem so fond of. I saw two while I was traveling. One would’ve been bad enough, but two? Break out the nuclear football and end it now, please.

Overheard while on vacation:

American girl to another American girl: “Getting ripped off is, like, a part of traveling, y’know? It’s like being a local!”

American girl to another American girl: “Ew, this isn’t pizza! There’s onion under the cheese!”

American guy to another American guy: “Dude, <points at sign stating ‘Massages: $25 / h’> do you think that’s a happy-ending massage?”

American girl to another American girl: “Like, I never say I’m American when I go places. I always tell people I’m Canadian. People like Canadians better!”

This one always bugs me. Sure, the current Administration may not be the best, but when did misinformation and obfuscation trump patriotism? What’s next, Chinese claiming Japanese heritage? Armenians pretending to be Turkish? Come on people, grow some backbone and stand up for yourselves and your homelands. When Americans are actively pretending to be maple syrup drinking, tree-hugging, French babbling Canadians, God of Groundhogs help us all.

American girl to another American girl: “Where was the bomb on the bus again?”

This one went down on one of those low-slung, bus-like airport people movers which was shuttling a planeload of passengers from our aircraft to the immigration building. Apparently, they were talking about the similarity of the bus to the one in the movie “Speed,” but this comment was stupid enough that I had to comment and tell her that it wasn’t very funny.

American guy/bar owner to Norwegian couple/patrons: “I’m from Santa Monica, California so it’s safe to say that I KNOW beaches and I KNOW surfing!”

The speaker was about 5’8″ and 250 pounds. Of fat. The only time he ever saw a beach in LA was when he went down to the pier to stuff his face with funnel cake. The Norwegians on the other hand, were tall, tan, fit and looked like they were born on the beach. Weird. Must be all that snow.

It felt wrong to be off the grid for so long, but that was probably my last opportunity to unplug for, uh, well, forever. Back to the intravenous NV drip and constantly refreshing Gmail.

T-Minus less than a month.Pura Vida

El Libro Negro

July 1, 2007

My mind is still reeling from the last two-and-a-half hours of Zwartboek (The Black Book).

Talk about a moral mind-fuck.

The movie was beautifully done, outside some obvious sound-stage work and the cinematography was gorgeous. It’s amazing how a little color, or lack thereof, can set the stage for an emotional roller-coaster ride . Tangent: I love seeing mid-century cars puttering around in pristine condition. It titillates that little wannabe grease monkey who’s caged deep down in my soul, and triggers flashbacks of Herr Kunzes shop class in middle school.

Set in World War II Holland, the film follows the story of a Jewish woman who joins the Dutch underground and up going the extra mile for the cause, and then some. Oh, what’s that you say?  You fell in love with the Gestapo captain you were supposed to seduce? Good times lay ahead.

Anyhow, beyond the eye candy, the movie explores the miasma of human morality during wartime.  Unlike in Band of Brothers, or Saving Private Ryan (two of my favorite war movies, though I have yet to see Tae Guk Gi which I hear is pretty good, too), there’s no clear-cut bad guy vs good guy theme.  Black Book reminded me, slightly, of Malena, though with a lot less sunshine, happiness, and uh, Italians.

In a feeble attempt to universalize this post and make it seem worthwhile, I’ll close with the following.

I look forward to all the morally ambiguous situations we’ll face in the upcoming year, and hope to learn, through interaction with my classmates, that there is a distinction between black and white which transcends race, creed, color, orientation, number of appendages and dietary preferences.  With so many lawyers in the J08 intake though, I’m not holding my breath.

Perros

June 25, 2007

PW:Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day

Me: Did you bring your dog to work?

PW: nope

I don’t have one

I was gonna bring my cousin’s

But, I couldn’t take the pug without making the min pin jealous

Me: Those sound tasty.

PW: Every now and then, I dream of sticking an apple into the 30-pound pug’s mouth and sticking him on a rotisserie

Dogs are like kids. I like playing with them and being able to hand ’em back to their owners once the cute factor has run out.

Cara

June 22, 2007

So much for a free-market, pro-business president who’s out to shake up the status-quo. I can’t wait to sit through a French transportation strike, preferably while trying to get to CDG to catch a flight.

I like my waffles with blueberries. How do you like yours?

 

 

The EU summit

Jun 22nd 2007 | BRUSSELS
From Economist.com

Taking aim at the free market

HAS Nicolas Sarkozy really dealt a nasty blow to the free-market foundations of Europe? The question has caused much confusion at a European Union summit unfolding in Brussels. It emerged on Thursday June 21st that France’s new president had succeeded in removing “free and undistorted competition” from a list of the EU’s core objectives at the top of a new “reform treaty” being thrashed to replace the defunct constitution.

Mr Sarkozy also managed to have language added to the list of core objectives stating that the union should offer “protection” to its citizens in its dealings with the outside world. Legal officials in Brussels, as well as in various national capitals, spent a sleepless night mulling the implications of the changes. But ask lawyers an intensely political question (and deprive them of sleep) and their answers are usually less than clearcut.

The European Commission is concerned that Mr Sarkozy’s populist move may have real legal implications. Its worst fear is that European judges will read the change as meaning the balance between free trade and the right of the state to protect citizens has shifted, in the direction of meddling. At the very least, officials concluded, a legal patch was needed to ensure the commission still retained oversight of all mergers that affect the EU market. The Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, finally sealed a deal on Friday lunchtime with Mr Sarkozy, to add a binding legal protocol to the new treaty, stating that under the single market the Commission does, indeed, have the power to police free and undistorted competition. Such powers are hefty, as as General Electric and Microsoft, among others, can testify, after bruising encounters with merger and competition officials.

Mr Sarkozy insisted in a private meeting with the British prime minister, Tony Blair, that removing the commitment to undistorted competition is a purely political move, that does not change the legal base of the EU one jot. The French president explained that he was merely heeding the message sent by the 55% of French voters who rejected the EU constitution in a referendum two years ago. Mr Blair needs French support if he is to secure a handful of domestically important opt outs and concessions at the summit. He accepts this is indeed a harmless move.

Officials from some of Europe’s governments with more of a mind for free trade, such as Sweden, say they are not happy with the change but are not intending to fight it. Everyone is choosing to accept Mr Sarkozy’s explanation that for French voters competition is not an “objective” or an end in itself, but merely a means of trying to achieve prosperity and “social cohesion”. Such is EU horsetrading.

And what of Mr Sarkozy himself? In an oddly informal meeting with reporters the French president was asked if securing the change was one of his most important aims at this summit. “It’s not the most important thing to me,” he said, casually. A spokesman for Mr Sarkozy noted, later, that references to competition are “scattered all over the treaty”, so it will still be an EU policy. Why worry, was the message. This is just keeping a promise made to the French people during the recent presidential and parliamentary election campaigns.

Perhaps so, but it raises an awkward question about the French leader. During his campaign to become president he presented rival public faces: the pro-business reformer alongside the populist defender of French national interests. The elections won, it is still not clear which of these is the true Mr Sarkozy.