giovedì, maggio 01, 2014


I just got a minor happiness-boner booking train tickets for our trip to Germany in September. Not out of simple anticipation of a lovely holiday, but with the understanding that holy fuck, we're moving back to a country with working trains - can fly into Frankfurt and take a high speed train directly from the airport to where we'll be staying. How fucking awesome is that? But that was my life after I left Canada and before I moved here - a fucking workable country.

Thailand was great, by which I mean Thai people are great and we spent a lot of time watching them cuddle our son and not rip us off despite our obvious ignorance of what was going on around us and wondering why such lovely people are saddled with such a shitty, barely-functioning country, a capital city that floods, rats the size of cats roaming the streets, etc.

As we waited for our luggage back in Melbourne and I felt sulky to be back, it struck me that there are probably four ways to categorize countries - complete fucking messes where everything is difficult (I've never been to one of those; I guess it would be one of those places with a lot of unexploded land mines and malaria) - less complete messes where infrastructure is shamefully bad but human capital is cheap and readily available to the degree that if you are middle class life gets reasonably easy besides a few deal-breakingly massive headaches like incredible pollution, social unrest, and mammoth  corruption (India, Thailand, China) - places where human capital gets pricey enough for people to get really shitty attitudes when you ask for help in a shop or government office but excellent infrastructure and a high degree of political accountability makes things reasonably livable (Europe north of the olive oil/butter line, Singapore) - and then resource-rich places like Canada, Australia and New Zealand where human capital is expensive and has a shitty attitude, and most people have enough money to ignore the fact that a lot of their infrastructure is stone age and that they have to sit in their cars for a couple of hours a day just to bring home a living.

And here I am again. Working at home, thank god. The car's radiator sprung a leak while we were away and the F-word had a to miss a day of work, because if he took the trains to where he works a 20 minute car ride away (and Melbourne has the most extensive public transport system in this stupid fucking country), it would take two hours.

Sigh. The categories are blurrier than I've suggested, of course. Bangkok, for example, has a more extensive metro and L-train system than most Australian or North American cities. And China has been building like a nutcase. Europe south of the olive oil/butter line is mostly in the last category except they're not so much resource-rich as still infracture rich-ish from those brief years in the 70s when things were going well economically but it's all heading down the toilet now.

Anyways, back to my happiness boner - I know that after a few days in Germany I'll be bitching about something - my guess is bureaucratic inflexibility, incredibly high taxes, and I expect making another baby there will lead to some penitential exercises in office visits. But wow. I get to live in a city where I can shop around for prices at five or six different international airports connected to my city by high-speed train. THAT's fucking capitalism, right there. That's the sort of capitalism Mistress La Spliffe can get behind and make sweet love to.

3 commenti:

Erik Bartlam ha detto...

I have to say that while I was in Germany (four years in the Heidelberg area)I did avail myself of the trains and streetcars. They were convenient and it was a perfectly pleasant way to travel know what's coming next...I missed my damn car.

I don't think there's any getting it out of me. Of course, it can't be easy. I hate the object itself (all that upkeep...always needs gas and tires, oil changes bah) but...I dearly love traveling that way.

Germany has to have one of the best functioning train systems around but, even that wasn't enough for a hard case like me.

Dread Pirate Jessica ha detto...

Obviously from my rhetoric I don't indulge - have a license but don't have the stomach for driving. However I have heard Germany is quite the awesome country to drive in too. Fun fun fun auf dem autobahn, I think the guys said.

Erik Bartlam ha detto...


It is when you can find a stretch of road. It's so small and there's a town every five miles that stops the party with its speed limits.