Tag Archives: united kingdom

Recommended book: 1491 The Americas Before Columbus

1491: The Americas Before Columbus1491: The Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While the book was not chock-full of shocking revelations as its publicity implies, it was a very amenable read on the state of the Americas before Columbus. The only really interesting thing for me was its explanation of the population collapse due to disease, something we’ve known but at least I didn’t quite fathom its scale.

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Maybe Mexico is indeed quite misunderstood

A couple of European colleagues joined me in my last business trip to Mexico and they seemed genuinely surprised by what they saw. It was not as unsafe as they were led to believe, the people were more ethnically varied than they expected, it was not as poor (even though of course they did see a cross-section of Mexican society from wealthy city denizens to farm hands in the hills) and the food was better than they thought.

Also at some point I spent some time with a group of Finnish gentlemen who had a lot of questions about the country, which I did my best to answer in the little time we had together (personal favourite: why do all houses have water tanks in the roof?).

Maybe the place is indeed quite misunderstood as I’ve been saying all these years.  I’m not saying it’s better or worse, it’s just not what people abroad without previous experience of the country think.

Wales and England, November 2011

Spent some time in England and Wales for Rally Wales GB, and was able to catch up with some friends at the end of it. As usual, more photos and videos here.

Schiphol
Sunrise over Amsterdam
Legendary Subaru Impreza
The legendary Subaru Impreza, the only car I'd probably buy for pleasure.
WRC Live for Nokia Lumia
WRC Live for Nokia Lumia
Dyliff gorge
Dyliff gorge

Back to Hereford
Finally a sunny day, and lots of lambs.

Cronicles of a European crisis

It’s been a tough 2011 for Europe and it’s going to get tougher. The role of Finland in this whole mess is deeply contested, and is a result of the changes in Parliament after the elections last spring.  I personally think Finnish politicians are too smug (see Halla-Aho’s Greece comments).  They treat other countries in the EU like a poor relation, but they seem to forget that Finland might be on the receiving end of EU aid sooner than we would like.  While the current budget deficit is quite manageable, Finland has the fastest-aging population in Europe.This will have a huge impact in social services and pensions, so I would hope for a return to traditional Finnish caution from the current brashness.

If I put my Mexican hat on, it is very ironic to see developed countries not following their own rules and recommendations for economic recovery (see cartoon in Spanish).  I guess the IMF’s medicine is too bitter when you try it yourself.

Below you can see some pictures I’ve taken that show the discontent from the general public in different parts of the continent.

Protests
Protests in Corinth.
Austerity protests in Athens
Traffic rerouted due to the austerity protests in Athens.
Strong opinion
Strong opinions in the London tube.
Somebody tell me how much they make with my money
Madrid. "Somebody tell me how much they make with my money" / "You should understand what they say".

José José o la banda sonora de los fracasados

El buen Erich Martino en una conversación apuntó cómo los cantantes que son famosos en determinado país  reflejan su cultura usando como ejemplo a José José y David Bowie, dos cantantes de México y Reino Unido que aunque estén a años luz de distancia en género son de la misma edad y empezaron a ser populares casi al mismo tiempo.

A mí desde chico no me gustaban mucho las rolas del Príncipe de la Canción y no entendía por qué hasta que me puse a analizar las letras: ¡son absolutamente deprimentes!

Hoy quiero saborear mi dolor
No pido compasión ni piedad
-El Triste

Y es verdad soy un payaso,
pero qué le voy a hacer,
uno no es lo que quiere,
sino lo que puede ser.
-Payaso

Ahora comparémoslas con uno de los trancazos de Bowie (del cual tampoco soy gran fan, pero simplemente porque no me gusta tanto el glam):

There’s a Starman waiting in the sky
he’s told us not to blow it
’cause he knows it’s all worthwile.
-Starman

Alguien por favor dígame que no somos una cultura que venera al fracaso más que al éxito.  Eso es lo que hay que cambiar.