Every time I travel north from Italy across the Alps (in the comfort of car, train, or airplane), I try to imagine the poor folks of the Roman Empire forced to walk. As the first ones approached from the south, they were greeted with vistas such as the one below. (Bellezona, Switzerland with the Gothard in the background, through which I traveled in the world's longest rail tunnel--55 km.)
I wonder if one or two might have been optimistic about finding a flat route through the mountains in from of them. After a few days hike, they would discover the bad news…which kept getting worse for many days to come. Those unlucky enough to have to walk home—months or years later—would warn all those that would follow in their footsteps to points north. These ones would be robbed of optimism when encountering the view shown above.
News reports from Japan reminded me of a job I would not want to have: emperor of Japan. That’s a really dumb job. You are restricted in what you may and may not do by centuries of rules and surrounded by courtiers, who constantly remind you of those rules. The poor guy is nothing but a puppet, and he always must wear funny costumes and hats. And, according to the news, he—it’s always a man—cannot even quit, because abdication is against the law. The good news for the current—until today—emperor is that some clever lawyer came up with a way to pass on most of his duties to his son. The old guy will be “emperor emeritus”, and new one will be emperor.
Now, two dumb jobs I don’t want…
Americans Beg Trump for Secret to Staying So Young and Vibrant
By Andy Borowitz
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Americans across the country wish that Donald Trump would reveal his secret to staying so young and vibrant, the nation’s personal trainers have confirmed.
According to Tracy Klugian, a fitness professional in St. Louis, “not a day goes by” without one of his clients requesting a physical regimen that will give him or her the youthful appearance and mental sharpness that have made Trump the envy of millions.
“Clients will come in and say, ‘Make me as young and vibrant as Donald Trump,’ ” Klugian said. “I have to warn them that that’s setting the bar very, very high.”
Having analyzed Trump’s fitness habits, Klugian has theorized that his startling youthfulness and off-the-charts vibrance might be the result of eight hours that he devotes each day to “Executive Time.”
“Lifting the remote, putting it down, lifting it again, and then tweeting is an exercise routine that very few people could keep up for one hour, and Trump does it for eight,” he said. “I tell my clients, if you want to be as young and vibrant as Donald Trump, you’re going to have to put in that kind of time.”
Klugian said that he was also putting clients on a “Trump diet,” consisting entirely of hamburgers and Coke, to give their bodies the fuel necessary to complete the gruelling remote-lifting-and-tweeting workout.
But the personal trainer said that he urges his clients not to be discouraged if, even after adopting Trump’s rigorous exercise routine and diet, they fail to achieve Trump’s physical perfection.
“At the end of the day, Donald Trump has found the Fountain of Youth, and also the Fountain of Vibrance,” he said.
I have not read Das Kapital, only having bits from articles or school in mind. That said, I was wondering what old Karl would think of the growing income afflicting the United States. What would he say about the Disney boss being paid $65 million, something that seems to upset Walt Disney’s relatives. He might criticise the fact that Disneyland “cast” members need food stamps to survive. Their slave-level salaries help to boost company profits and “justify” high salaries and bonuses for the managers.
And, Karl might have something to say about the rich paying less tax than the poor.
Of course, anyone bringing up Karl Marx is branded a “communist” in order to end any discussion of fairness. That’s the American Way.
Lake Como is a spot on this planet best enjoyed in sunshine. I spent five days there in the rain.
Waking up this morning on the day of departure back home, I discovered that the weather system had moved on to spoil other people's vacations. Of course, farmers might be happy, but anyone with outdoor tables and chairs and hopes to make money are not.
The day dawn to reveal the tops of hills rarely seen and the sun rose from behind the hills surrounding the lake. This will be a great day for anyone lucky enough to stay...
Switzerland, like Norway and Iceland, is different. Services work. Most people are not weird. The rest of the world is screwed up.
The trains run on time, and you can reach even outlying points by a government-run bus service. (Of course, Iceland has no trains, but Norway does.) Life is the was it should be in these countries. Even politicians are less dishonest, some even honest and accountable. People pay taxes and receive services in return.
Yes, the trains run on time in Switzerland. This is important if you hope to make a connection in Basel to reach Frankfurt and have only seven minutes to make that connection.
Como has become one of my favourite places in the world. If you were to restrict me to five places in the world to visit, that would be on the list, as would London, Dubai, Maldives, and Swiss Alps. Each has a different reason for being a favourite and the total provides enough variety to make me happy. I can live without the rest of the world, although I do like a few places if given the chance to expand the list. Others will surely have a different list and question my choices. Who cares? I’m the one that must live with my choices.
Unfortunately, two of the five would be unreachable, should the idiots in Washington keep pushing for war with Iran—a war that would be even more foolish than all the other foolish wars Washington geniuses have chosen to wage. I am sure the investors and business owners in Dubai are having sleepless nights worrying about the possibility of people being too scared to come and spend money.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young.
I sat at an outside table of a small bar on the square of the Como cathedral. The heavens had blessed us with a few moments of sunshine, after days of rain and overcast skies. Being a national holiday, many people swarmed in and around the Doumo. The building is impressive, so once again I was impressed by the creativity and craftsmanship of men in the past. Such a building would not—could not—be erected today. Finance controllers would balk at the cost of craftsmen to carve the intricate designs. The hourly wage—never a problem in Middle Ages—would prevent any project being undertaken.
Staring at these wonders of human ability and ignoring the thought of controllers, I tried to imagine the same being produced today. Someone would come up with a way of producing a reasonable facsimile using 3-D printing. Hardly as impressive as the craftsmanship of the past, but good enough to fool simple-minded people.
I was surprised to learn that breakfast in the hotel would be available until 11:00, instead of 10:30. A waiter explained that today was Liberation Day in Italy, commemorating the US Army freeing the country from German domination. Of course, I used this to remind my wife of the threat I might hold over her head.
After breakfast, we walked into the center of town, passing through a park in which a band was playing. We stood on the edge of the crowd and noticed signs.
Although this was the day the Americans did something beneficial to this country, I spotted no US flag—there were Italian and European flags—and no mention to the US on posters announcing the day. Liberations seems to be worth remembering, but not the liberators.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.