Vacation In Venezuela

We provide transportation to four-year-old kindergarten for one of the grand-deGloves. The letter of the week was V and one of the teachers said today’s subject would be Vacation In Venezuela.  In fact, they liked Vacation In Venezuela so much that they extended it to two days.

Of course, our immediate thought was why are you glorifying that hell-hole? Yet we refrained from comment despite the facts.  On the Heritage ranking of economic freedom it is 179 of 180.  Six countries are not ranked.  To put it kindly, it is a violent place without a reliable government.  About a year ago the LA Times said:

Venezuela’s violent crime epidemic appears to be escalating into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. The precise dimensions are hard to know, however, because along with the collapse of the economy and widespread hunger has come a near blackout of reliable government crime statistics.

Nothing we have seen suggests the situation has improved since then.  We are convinced that it was appropriate to leave this as a politics free zone.  There are not many countries that start with V: Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Venezuela.  The kids are just four.  The discussion is not about governments but geography and letters.  We are happy with our choice.  The question is when should we speak up?


A Sorry Excuse

Mike Kaplan, the CEO of Aspen Skiing has taken to the editorial page of the WSJ to make an extra special pleading for open borders.  Obviously, open borders advocates are received with open arms at the WSJ.  Mike, however, has an extra special pleading for open borders.  He doesn’t mention workers at Aspen.  All the ski areas we have been to recently have many international workers.  Mike says that the “xenophobia” emanating from the White House is causing legal Mexican tourists to stay away from Colorado.  He gives away the real story at the start of the last sentence which we have made bold:

Last year visitation to Aspen by Mexicans dropped 30% compared with the 2015-16 ski season. Bookings for 2017-18 aren’t looking much better. There are multiple reasons, but the xenophobia radiating from the Oval Office ranks at the top. As the head of the Mexico City public-relations firm that promotes Aspen in Mexico told us, “The dollar has been strong, which makes travel to the U.S. expensive, but Trump is the No. 1 reason.” [Emphasis added]

Sidebar: One question is: should we boycott places that say such things?  We say no.  Folks can do with their own money as that see fit.  We don’t want to rule out great places like Aspen and especially for us, Snowmass, just because the CEO makes silly excuses for an off year.  End Sidebar.

The dollar was strong last season when one would cost almost 22 pesos but today it cost less than 18 pesos.  It is time for Mike to get back to work and stop worrying about The Donald.  We hope Aspen has a great year.


Speed Limits And Signals

We are vacationing so posts will be more erratic than usual.  We are currently in Canada.  We first became regular visitors to Ontario when our move to the Midwest coincided with the US moving to a national 55 MPH speed limit.  As Wikipedia notes, many jurisdictions found it to be a major source of revenue.  We found that a less enforced 100 kilometers per hour (KPH) or 62.137 MPH got us home quicker.

Sidebar: In the old days we used 5/8 or 62.5% as an approximation.  Now we just tell the car to use the metric system.  Both the digital readout and the dial speedometer give us kilometers per hour.  It is an impressive bit of technology but another loss for mental math.  End Sidebar.

We thought that this would be a story of democracy.  In the US the scolds have lost and the speed limits have been returned to the states and most states have raised them so that the maximum speeds in most states are 70, 75 or 80 MPH.  Canada has not changed its speed limit in any province we have chanced to enter it is still 100 KPH.  Almost nobody drives 100 KPH but it is still the listed limit.

There is, however, a signal of the real Canadian speed limit.  Every not so often there is a sign that lists the penalties.  Because it happens rarely and we don’t have a photographic memory you will get an approximation of the sign.  It has three lines: 150 KPH means up to a $10,000 fine,
some speed between 120 KPH and 150 KPH means $xxx, and
120 KPH means $100 fine.
All numbers except for 120 and 150 KPH are approximate.  The signal is clear.  The police are not going to give you any trouble up to 120 KPH which is approximately 75 (more precisely 74.56454) MPH.  We passed three police cars at 111 KPH to test the the enforcement of the signal.  We were not willing to test it any more robustly with out of country plates.  You will get some leeway in the US but not as much.  So it turns out the systems are pretty similar.  There is just a different method of communicating the signal of what speed is acceptable.

Book Analysis

We are big fans of Iceland: The place, the soccer team, and Arnaldur Indridason.

Sidebar: We saw the Iceland soccer team play a FiFA qualifier in Reykjavik in 2002 or so.  They tied an eastern European team, Romania, we think.  The echoing cheers of Is-land and the folks that looked like Vikings made the game great fun.  We enjoyed, on TV, their success at the recent European tournament.  End Sidebar.

Arnaldur has written many books about Inspector Erlendur but we just finished reading a stand alone book: Operation Napoleon written in 1999.  All the books are written in Icelandic and translated into British English.  It might be described a political fantasy that pokes fun at Americans and Icelanders alike.  What got our attention was this on page 50:

“They [American politicians] were always putting themselves centre-stage.  Especially Democrats, with their demands for open government, for having everything transparent and above board.”

When we first saw it we thought that Arnaldur was just another clueless European leftist but the rest of the book led us to believe he as capable of deeper insights.  We would like to ask him but we think it is tongue-in-cheek.  Remember that is was published in 1999 so it was written during the height of one of the Clinton scandals.  Democrats arguing for open government would have seem dated by then.  Certainly Obama has convinced everyone that the Venn Diagrams of open government and Democrats do not intersect.

European Pedestrians

Jay Nordlinger, in his Stockholm Diary at NRO, notices Swedish pedestrians:

Swedish pedestrians wait patiently at stoplights — when there are no cars coming. My American legs can’t. They just can’t. (See? It’s not me, it’s the legs.)

We have not made it to Stockholm but have found this behavior in England, France, Germany, and Poland.  In fact, when our American legs walk against the “red man” there is likely to be comments from the Europeans.

Sidebar: In Europe the pedestrian walk signals are red and green as opposed to the white and orange we have in the states.  In Europe, we signal our spouse with “green man”, meaning it is time to cross.  The American alternative can be a little tricky in the big cities.  End Sidebar.

In our experience, only the Irish are immune from total allegiance to waiting for green man.  We look forward to additional investigations.