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Hobbies & Entertainment / Re: Travelling and such
Last post by ersi -
I've done a few more trips meanwhile but let's talk about just one place, Milano Malpensa airport. I tried to walk there from Gallarate. It is a walkable distance as far as the mileage goes. However, walkers were blocked, first by repeated signs of "sidewalk ending":

These I was able to bypass, even though sidewalks really did end

Past this point there were occasionally some zombie crossings that take the pedestrian from nowhere to nowhere, from a non-sidewalk to a non-sidewalk

Eventually there was no way at all to walk further, a cars-only road (speedway) started
Below this sign I tested the famous hospitality of Italians by trying, for an hour or so, to get a driver to pick me up, but to no avail. (Since when do Italians obey traffic signs?)

Later I was able to get past the point on a bus. In my opinion, given the curvature of the road, the viable traffic speeds did not justify it being a speedway. The cars-only arrangement was there not to keep pedestrians safe, but to keep them away for good.

Finally, a literal stone-throw away from the airport there's a neighbourhood called Case Nuove, a residential area that includes some hotels. This is where the bus took me. From there I tried to reach the entrance of the airport again by walking almost halfway around the airport, but entrances were carefully fenced off from every direction. Pedestrians and hikers can only reach the airport by climbing some three-meter-high fences.

Thus far the only walkable major airport in the world I know is Tallinn Airport. And it is truly comfortably walkable, with a major shopping centre a five minutes away and the city centre an hour away if you walk very slowly. These days there's a comfy airport tram available, but you can walk easily if you prefer.

All those YT urbanists talk a lot about walkable cities, but I have not seen a single one of them address the walkability of airports.
DnD Central / Re: Nonsense from the West over Ukraine
Last post by ersi -
Orban says: „Es ist leicht möglich, dass es dieser Krieg sein wird, der auf demonstrative Weise der westlichen Übermacht ein Ende bereitet.“

The stakes are as follows. The relations between the EU and Russia cannot stay the same, they must change, but Putin is so obstinate that the relations can only change if either Russia is defeated or the EU dissolves. It's an existential battle for both and the issue is whether the EU biggies recognise this or not.

Likely not. The biggies think that the EU is fairly safe, because see all this buffer zone between Germany and Russia. That is, the biggies do not consider the countries between Germany and Russia as EU members, as countries worth an existence even. Therefore, they also will never muster sufficient commitment to defeat Russia.

Insofar as the above is plausible, the eastern EU members consider the EU already de facto dissolved. So does Orban, and he is already thinking ahead from this. He is betting that Russia will win (or not lose, which is the same thing). Despite being a Nato member, Orban is begging for special treatment and mercy from Russia in the world after this war. Other eastern Nato members still hope that Nato can muster the commitment that the EU lacks. Orban has apparently discounted even Nato, factoring in Germany's and France's repeated vision to conjure up some sort of EU defence mechanism, inevitably doomed to fail. Other eastern EU members see no other defence for the EU than Nato and therefore do their best to ignore Germany's and France's scholzing, macroning and schrödering.

If the war ends in stalemate with the EU still lingering on, there will be no way whatsoever to restore the trust between the eastern and western EU members - because it is a pause in the war, not the end of the war. In a stalemate the EU may still be there, but it will be without substance from then on. With friends like this, who needs enemies.

Edit. From RIA, facts as per Orban:
1. The West cannot win the war militarily
2. The sanctions have not destabilised Russia
3. The sanctions are hurting Europe enormously
4. The world has not aligned with USA on the issue of Ukraine

Also from RIA, Orban went to Russia for Gorbachev's funeral but Putin evaded a direct meeting by embarking on a tour in Russia's Far East.
DnD Central / Re: The comings and goings of the European Union
Last post by ersi -
The greatest problem isn't the threshold to join, but what happens after, as Poland and Hungary have shown.
What have Poland and Hungary shown? Why are they the problem? How was the problem not foreseen? And why is it not being dealt with? Doesn't it all indicate some structural rigidity in the EU that has not been repaired and likely cannot? And if this is the case, the real problem lies with the founders and drivers of the EU, not with the later members.

I have re-read some of the older posts here from some five years ago. My position used to be that the EU is inherently irreformable - and that it is good this way. I think I was spot-on on the first point. However, due to rigid irreformability the EU is now in imminent danger to fall apart and this is not really good in a crisis situation.

Why is the EU irreformable? Because any change requires consensus. And also because in this consensus the drivers of any change would be the most powerful members, the biggies as I call them.

But there are even more problems. The biggies, due to being the biggies, and also due to being the founders of the EU, have not allowed any input from the newer members. Even right now when it is lucidly clear that the newer members have been correct about Russia as the threat to the EU - and therefore pushing for a geopolitical focus in the EU - and the biggies have been wrong about this, there is zero acknowledgement and zero respect given to the newer members on this. Instead, the biggies want to make it seem that the upcoming proposals of change are entirely the initiative of the biggies. This will not wash. This will only deepen the mistrust that has already accrued and the EU will certainly fall apart.

The EU biggies will not give up their leading position which they have mishandled. They will try to hold on to their leading position, thus only mishandling it further, because they do not know how to handle it properly. They will not become good masters of their position in half a year. They have mismanaged every single crisis thus far, except perhaps the covid crisis. The crisis we have right now, the Ukraine invasion, they have not managed at all, but *followed* the drive of USA/Nato and eastern EU. EU reform, if any, should be derived from who have the initiative right now, because the eastern members have shown they can see a crisis coming and they know what to do in a crisis. The biggies will not be given their position back anymore. The biggies have demonstrated themselves utterly incompetent and cannot be trusted for a moment. The biggies, even though they can apparently admit a mistake, they still cannot allow that anyone else is in the right. Therefore the fate of the EU is to dissolve. The sad thing is that it is happening in a crisis instead of in calm times.

Your position those years ago was that the EU is a club of dogs, that there are big dogs and smaller dogs and that the smaller dogs should behave as per the barking of the bigger dogs. Well, this leads to the same conclusion: The smaller dogs will get fed up with the misbehaviour and bullying by the bigger dogs and leave.[1]

There are many potential Hungaries, particularly among the candidate countries, but also the existing members.
The funny thing is that Hungary's Russia-policy was identical (actually milder) to Germany's and France's until the invasion. It was less dangerous because Hungary mattered less. So, yeah, there is a Hungary in the EU. There is also a Poland. There is also a Cyprus, perhaps the point with most explosive potential even though it hasn't exploded. But they are not as dangerous as Germany and France who want to introduce yet more Hungaries, Polands and Cypruses, after having demonstrated that they have no clue how to deal with any of those except by making relations with them worse after admitting them into the union.
Edit: Anyone is hardly joining the EU with the understanding that it is a pack of dogs. They all hope they are joining something better than this, something more human and humane or at least a colourful zoo. By now the newer members, having suffered repeated humiliations (and some near-existential threats!) from the biggies even though the biggies were in the wrong, and seeing that even in the current situation the biggies have no humility, are being forcefully led to the conclusion that this is indeed a pack of dogs, a different kind of EU than what was advertised. Therefore the newer members are seriously considering returning the merchandise. This would be a horrendous tragedy for the EU-faithful, but not a drastic disruption of Europe's security structure as long as there's still Nato.
DnD Central / Re: The comings and goings of the European Union
Last post by jax -
Countries don't have to join the EU if they don't want to, but there is no reason to exclude them if they do fulfil the requirements, and those requirements are not lower than they were when earlier entrants joined.

And there would have to be different rules when the EU approaches 40 members than when it had 6 or 12. The greatest problem isn't the threshold to join, but what happens after, as Poland and Hungary have shown.

There are many potential Hungaries, particularly among the candidate countries, but also the existing members.
DnD Central / Re: What's Going on in Eurafrica?
Last post by ersi -
Algeria’s move to English signals erosion of France’s sway
...when the sign on Emmanuel Macron’s lectern at the Algerian presidential palace last week read “Presidency of the Republic” instead of “Présidence de la République” in French (after all, Algeria was part of the French colonial empire for well over a century), diplomats and casual observers in Paris took note.

“I wasn’t surprised but I was shocked [Algeria] would do such a thing during the visit of a French president,” said France’s former ambassador to Algeria, Xavier Driencourt.
Evidently there had been much macroning in Algeria long before Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron's statements in Le Monde caused a diplomatic crisis between the two states. Macron accused Algeria's "political-military system" of still using colonialism to excuse its own failures. "Since 1962, the Algerian nation has been feeding off a memory that says France is the problem," Macron was quoted as saying in the French newspaper. Moreover – and this caused an outcry in Algiers – he questioned whether Algeria had ever been a nation before the colonial era.


Consequently, the government in Algiers recalled its ambassador last autumn and stopped overflight rights for French military jets over the Sahel. Macron let it be known shortly afterwards – through an advisor – that he regretted the "polemic" and the "misunderstandings". At the beginning of December last year, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian travelled to Algeria. After three months, the diplomatic crisis was over. But not a single official representative of the Algerian government took part in the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the ceasefire in the Algerian war held at the end of March. Macron called for further reconciliation between France and the former French colony.
Those EU biggies mess things up badly even in areas where they really should know better. They cannot be trusted with any geopolitics whatsoever.
DnD Central / What is going on in Argentina?
Last post by ersi -
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner: arrest after attempted shooting of Argentina vice-president
Fernández de Kirchner was greeting supporters outside her home when a Brazilian man approached her and raised a handgun to her face

A man has been detained after he aimed a handgun at point-blank range at Argentina’s vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in what the
president said was an attempt on her life.

Fernández de Kirchner survived only because the gun – which was loaded with five bullets – did not fire, president Alberto Fernández said.
To continue my last post in this thread, Zeihan sees positive outlooks for Argentina. Because geography/geology: Nice pastures, huge navigable river, okay local resource base, okay demographic trends etc. Zeihan is a strong geographic determinist: If the geography looks good, all is good. It can be ignored how atrocious the country's economic policies have turned out.

Disunited Nations is essentially analysing some select countries, dedicating a chapter to each country. Here's the spoiler:
- Japan: Poor resource-wise and in a bad demographic predicament, but with a navy and capital base that may be able to pull it off.
- Russia: Russia's rivers run the wrong way, poor roads and its coastlines do not provide a good access to the oceans. Aging, insecure former world power that only knows how to sell oil and gas without adding any value to anything.
- Germany: One of the fastest-aging populations in the world, best manufacturing and production systems in the world, but out of the game once the current global supply and export opportunities fall away.
- France: The sole country in Europe with meaningful geographic boundaries, excellent agriculture, generally healthy demographics - "almost always in the top five" under any world order or disorder.
- Iran: Iran's geography is good to keep the country as it is, but not good to expand its borders, even though Iran has the military might and capital potential to win regional leadership.
- Saudi Arabia: "In the rare position of having the money, military equipment, and the will to position itself as a legitimate counterweight to Iran in a region long defined by American (mis)management."
- Turkey: Militarily and economically "plenty of pep to deal with any immediate neighbors."
- Brazil: "Without the foreign capital to fuel its infrastructure and agricultural sector, without safe transport to send its beef and soy to customers around the world, Brazil will struggle to maintain its economy on its own."
- Argentina: I gave this one away above.
- The United States: Sovereign and supreme.

China does not have its own chapter in the book, but there are enough comments about it. All negative comments, some outright derogatory.