Thursday, 19 September 2013

Words for a Passing

The Irish and English are wizards at moments requiring words for a funeral or the passing of some soul.  They can take a hundred simple words.....toss them into some order....and amaze you with the vision or feeling you need at some great loss.

It's hard to sit and ponder over why some great paragraphs exist from a hundred or two hundred years ago.....and little that we can generate in these modern times.  Maybe things were simpler, or folks had more of a chance to sit on a riverbank and think about life.  You'd think we'd have some four-star modern pieces for today.....but I rarely if ever....come across these.

So for this moment of discussion....I'd like offer up a paragraph or two from Major John McCrae.  It was a short piece that he worded over an afternoon, as the doctor asked to prepare a memorial service for a young officer who had died there on the field in WW I.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 

Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky 

The larks, still bravely singing, fly 

Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. 

Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. 

If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

In this wonderful world of technology, vast thought, and eternal optimism.....we seem less capable than a few decades ago.  Failing to view the moment, or enjoy the sip of one good glass of chilled spring water, or watching a bird gracefully land upon a tree....we are missing out on some little part of life.

The Frankfurt Car Show

I went off to the Frankfurt Auto Show yesterday....probably the fifth time I've been to it in my life.

As things go, it's a five-star experience.  You see the future, the trends, the sales jazz, and the crap with cars.

So I walked way with five basic observations.

First, as always....car companies hire up these model gals....with fancy uniforms to make the introduction to everyone.

The gal is always scantily dressed, and looking like some model off the ramp.  I'm often shocked that guys stand stand there and ask stupid questions, and likely get stupid answers from the model gal.

The major companies all pay for a special fashion designer to really hype up the gals...fancy shoes, fancy lipstick, and lots of flesh.  Whoever started this trend (years ago).....really aren't helping much when it comes to selling the new cars.  But, it's always interesting to see how far BMW, Chevy, or Honda will go.....to demonstrate their hottest models.  
 The sign on the left?  Well, these are huge halls, and they have a trail laid out, with all of the 500 cars on some built-up platform.  So you walk along, and have to take a step up....if you want to get close that car.

Every single brand in the eight different halls.....just had this lip-up-platform, and  you obviously noticed it without any warning.  The Chevy guys?  Well....sadly, they all had "vorsicht stufe!".....which means "warning".

Yep, the only company in the whole complex....that had to put up a warning sign.  Go figure.

This red SUV?  It's a Chinese brand.  The odd thing?  If you gaze at the hood and estimate footage from the bumper to the driver's seat....it's roughly fifteen feet.

I stood there for a good three minutes, walking the distance, and just wandering if this was some gimmick.  Course, the positive is that in a accident....you got tons of open space to absorb the crash.

But how would you know the right distance to turn or get ahead of things at the curve?


 The Renault to the left?  It's a battery car called the Twizy.  Roughly 8,000 Euro ($10k).  It's a curious car which would make some guys interested.  The problem?  One passenger, and enough room for six cases of beer behind him.  That's it.  It's ok for going to work, but for anything else?  Zero.

The batteries are under the driver, and the door flips up....if you can imagine that part.  If you lived in a city.....it might be a positive.  But it's hard to say if it'd sell well.

Then I come to the Telsa folks.  They had a small display at the show....just three cars, and maybe eight 'talkers'.

I'm of the mind that we are now beyond a trend, and that battery-powered cars will be the norm over the next decade....at least in Germany.  I'd make a humble guess and say by 2023 at least twenty percent of all car owners.....will have a battery car.

Telsa?  Well.....it's a bunch of engineer guys who have flipped the establishment and challenged design.

The picture?  This is the back of a Telsa....where you'd throw groceries or two punk kids.  The show-gals were quick to forbid adults from sitting in the little area (warning stickers that the seats would only hold a certain weight).

Somehow, these battery charge-up stations, and increasing gas cost situations....will make this battery deal seem acceptable.

Course, where all this electrical power will come from?  That's a curious question.

That was my four-hour trip for yesterday.....cars of the future, and trends yet to come.

The Money Trail

At the end of the 1980s....an odd thing happened to the Soviet Union....it dissolved away.  By the end of 1990s....you had this odd creation in Russia....millionaires and billionaires.  But there's this odd mix that then occurs.  The rich guys in Russia wake up and realize the incompetence and lack of trust in Russian banks.

The rich Russian guys then go to extremes....trying to grasp the world of banking....avoiding taxation....and ensuring what precious money they've made....they'd like to see grow.

So this curious  business starts up....finding banks who will deal with them, and countries that will simply allow cash to enter, not ask questions, and have a fairly decent banking system.

Most of Europe would fail the Russian billionaire test.  Too many questions, too many rules, and too much taxation.

Cyprus and Greece?  Well....they decided to look the other way.  So now, you have this pattern of growth in both countries.....which relate to Russian millionaires and billionaires.  Cash pours in on a weekly basis.  It's hard to say how this all works.  I would suspect that no one in the government is really watching this closely or can answer where things will be in a decade or two.

The Russians?  Well....they walk in and usually buy or build an upscale villa.  It's fancy and full of luxury.  They look at hotels, and buy them as parts of their investment plan.  They park their yachts off the coast, and take care of guests without any hassle.  Passports and formal recognition?  It's not exactly important anymore.

There's change coming to the Med, Greece and Cyprus.  Massive change.

You can't shift around a billion, or twenty billion, or fifty billion, and avoid seeing something massive coming out of this.

Some Harvard business professor or foundation ought to have a couple of folks there and analyzing the growth and where exactly things are heading.  It would explain a lot about the idea of limited taxation or stringent rules on moving capital.

Who knows?  Maybe in two decades.....Greece is some giant financial capital, where Russian billionaires hide and own massive companies.  Well....maybe.  Or it could all fall into ruin because of incompetent Greek money managers.