Thursday, August 03, 2023

Europe - One simple reason why travel is important

 "If you live in a foreign country for a month, you can write a book about it. If you live in a foreign country for a year, you can write an article about it. If you live in a foreign country for five years, you can't write anything about it."

One simple reason why travel is important

Travel makes you a better reader, especially for history, geography, (factual) economics, and political science.

I have been reading two good books about Sri Lanka, namely K.M. de Silva’s Sri Lanka and the Defeat of the LTTE and also his A History of Sri Lanka.  Both would be very difficult to follow if I didn’t already have a decent sense of the place names, how the country “fits together,” and many other features of life here.  If I read about a 12th century Buddhist kingdom, in fact I absorb and retain much more of that knowledge if I have visited the ruins of said kingdom.  It is more intellectually and emotionally salient to me, whether or not that process is rational.

In part you visit places simply to make your later reading about them more productive.

And there is nowhere in the world that is not a place.

Addendum: This effect is not a small one.  If a said civilization has vanished, or is almost entirely gone, that is also an enormous blow to our reading.  It is so much easier to keep track of “the Florentines” than “the Assyrians.”  There is also a question of optimal timing — don’t read about a place too early!  Yet some early reading is necessary, so that you may develop the curiosity to want to go there.

Questions that are rarely asked: “At the breakfast bar and wondering if having everybody touch the same pair of tongs in the same place is proven to be better than having everybody simply pick up their own piece of bread”

The importance of high school guidance counselors

 Is fish and chips disappearing?  (As an aside, I don’t find this to be the case.)

Jake Seliger tells his story

Mental health problems diminish with income.

MIE: “you can now charge your phone with a cassette tape.”

The European Visa Mess

A US passport used to allow visa free travel to more countries than almost any other passport. No longer.

Yahoo: The days of visa-free travel throughout most of Europe are about to change. Starting early next year, the European Union will implement the European Travel Information and Authorization System requiring all visitors from visa-free countries to obtain travel authorization prior to their departure.

Terrorism! Crime! Paperwork!

Of course, this inconvenience will reduce travel to Europe (see here) but tell that to the Europeans and they respond, well the US imposes similar requirements on Europeans. This is not a logical response. As Ronald Reagan liked to say, “if one partner in the boat shoots a hole in the boat, it doesn’t make much sense for the other partner to shoot another hole in the boat.” Logical or not, however, it’s a predictable response so I blame the US and the EU for ruining a good thing.

I hate to be the grumpy old man but one day, not too long from now, I will be telling my children, “I remember when you didn’t need a visa to travel abroad. I also remember when there were no anti-money laundering and know your customer laws!” The kids probably won’t believe me. Of course, if I were a little older I could have said, I remember when you didn’t need a passport to travel abroad! The modern passport dates only to World War I:

Wikipedia: During World War I, European governments introduced border passport requirements for security reasons, and to control the emigration of people with useful skills (italics added,AT). These controls remained in place after the war, becoming a standard, though controversial, procedure. British tourists of the 1920s complained, especially about attached photographs and physical descriptions, which they considered led to a “nasty dehumanisation”.

Try to tell anyone today, however, that we should have a world with no passports and they will think you bonkers. In a few years, Americans will not be able to imagine a world without visas. Apparently, we have gotten used to dehumanisation.

Some new UFO bits, not necessarily true, involving Russia.