Category Archives: Travel

Getting around the world is one of the great privileges of our time. I have flown over 800,000 miles in the past seven years, visited every continent except Antarctica, flown every major airline, stayed in most of the world’s leading hotel chains and used most public transportation.

Drinking age: What the U.S. can learn from Europe

My family has been living in Switzerland for just over two years. There have been many adjustments to our lifestyle since moving from suburban CT to semi-urban Zurich. One of the first was around the different ages you are allowed to legally do things in Switzerland.

My about to turn sixteen-year-old son: “Dad, do you know that now that we live in Switzerland I won’t be allowed to get my driver’s license until I turn eighteen?”

Me: “I’m sorry about that but we will have lots of  new experiences here in -”

Him: “But I will be able to buy beer or wine in a bar!”

In Zurich, sixteen-year-olds don’t sneak liquor from the liquor cabinet, use fake I.D.s, binge drink in hiding or get behind the wheel of a car drunk, because they are afraid to tell their parents they have been drinking.

If you make drinking a big deal, kids won’t learn how to drink socially and responsibly. They are encouraged to associate drinking from their earliest experiences with it as something illicit, rebellious and subversive. What a flawed system we have in the U.S. that says you are responsible enough to vote, serve in the armed forces, drive a car and yet you somehow shouldn’t have a beer in a bar.

Here is a smart piece from FEE’s website:

What good would lowering the drinking age do? It would put an end to the perverse culture of secretiveness and abuse that has grown up around underage drinking. It would allow bars and restaurants to become “safe spaces” for college-age students to drink and Uber home if they need to. Proponents will undoubtedly also emphasize the revenue gains for the state that would come from legalization.

But the longer-term gains would be cultural. We could begin to foster a more European-style culture of drinking that promotes responsibility and civilized sobriety. People are more likely to act like adults if you treat them as adults. Prohibition has promoted a horrible childishness with terrible results for everyone.

Read the whole thing.

Don’t take my word for it. College presidents have seen the unfairness and unintended consequences of the U.S. drinking age. See here. They seek a reasoned and rational discussion.

The Amethyst Initiative states that, in their experience as university presidents, they have observed, “Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students,” and therefore they urge lawmakers “to invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol”. 

Europe can teach the U.S. many things to avoid but it can also provide some positive examples of personal freedom and responsibility. What should a young person learn how to do first, drive a car or drink responsibly?


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Filed under Europe, Politics

The Difference Between Newtown and Boston

“One crime was committed by a person motivated by no cause or political interest and driven only by personal demons. Another crime was committed by two people whose actions were clearly driven by their religious and political beliefs. Under these circumstances, which of these terrible tragedies do you think would be considered an incident that could only be properly understood as something that ought to spur the nation to specific political actions?”

via The Difference Between Newtown and Boston.

Jonathan Tobin outlines the problem with the differences in our national response.

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Filed under Middle East, Politics

Exercise, travel, jet lag and really seeing the city you are visiting

There is a great piece on running and travel in today’s Wall Street Journal. Exercise when trying to acclimate after a long plane ride is a proven way to reset circadian rhythms and begin to feel human far from home. A colleague of mine who travels even more than I do, runs three miles every day wherever he finds himself – the discipline is admirable, especially since many locales (or weather situations) require him to hit a hotel treadmill instead of the streets. For me, a regular 20 minute set of calisthenics works best, since I can do them anywhere and can never justify skipping them as long as I wake up in time.

But hitting the streets in any city is essential. Even with a busy meeting schedule, there is always time to step out of a conference room and take a walk for 5 or ten minutes during a break. Sunlight on your face will get your body clock on track and as Mr Quinn says in his Journal story, the street view give us the essence of a city – pedestrians, traffic, commerce in all its forms.

So often, “glamorous” business travel consists of running through a generic airport, getting to a generic hotel or office tower, sitting in a generic conference room and trying to stave off jet lag. You could be in Istanbul or Cleveland and never know the difference. Getting out on the street and making your body move can connect you to your location and remind you that it is an incredible privilege to see the world on your company’s dime.

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Filed under Outdoors, Travel

Accountability in American politics – Maybe we should elect Republicans just so somebody pays attention to what is going on…

The September 11, 2012 death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya has drawn relatively little media attention and no repercussions for any decision maker at any level. At least when Republicans are in power, the press holds them accountable for their decisions.

Here is a disturbing take on accountability in U.S. politics by Jim Geraghty at National Review.

When we look at how our government has responded to the night of September 11 in Benghazi, Libya, we see there are truly no standards any more.

If the decision-making before, during, and after the Benghazi attack is insufficient to get anyone fired, what decision in government will ever warrant that consequence? If Democrats on Capitol Hill can’t take off their partisan blinders for one day to attempt to hold people accountable for decision-making that resulted in American deaths at the hands of extremists, and then lying to the public about it, then when will they ever? If Hillary Clinton can exclaim that it doesn’t matter that the administration spent five days talking about a video when the video had nothing to do with it, and everyone on her side applauds, why should she or anyone else ever respond to an accusation with anything but audacious defiance?

This is it, folks. This is the government we have, and the lack of a public outcry about Benghazi ensures this is the government we will have for the foreseeable future.

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Filed under Africa, Politics

It seems the current administration’s ability to annoy our friends in the U.K will continue unabated in the second term. How amateurish to note “America’s interests” in giving recommendations to an ally while pointedly ignoring the interests of the ally…

Here is nice response from British blogger Autonomous Mind

Autonomous Mind

Dear Mr Gordon,

I read with interest the following comment you made on behalf of the Government of the United States of America, in your capacity as US Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, regarding the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union:

We have a growing relationship with the EU as an institution, which has an increasing voice in the world, and we want to see a strong British voice in that EU. That is in America’s interests. We welcome an outward-looking EU with Britain in it.

This comes as no surprise as it reflects the thinking of other senior members of the Obama administration, who have previously opined that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the EU.

The President of the United States is considered by many to be the leader of the free world, and the United States itself considered to be a beacon of democracy. …

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Filed under Europe, Politics

What is this all about?

What makes you think?

In a world where it is possible to gather incredible amounts of information from credible sources  — to skeptically analyze that information and share your conclusions with a virtually limitless audience — why has the world dialogue grown so insipid?

With access to so much, most of us read what we agree with, post in forums that support our preconceptions, and if we engage with an opposing view point it is generally just to insult its source and deride that opinion without considering it.

A forum where people can come to disagree in a civil dialogue not only sounds like a good idea. It sounds really interesting (at least to me.) That is what I hope to establish here.

I am interested in: politics, both domestic and international; outdoor sports – climbing, sailing, hunting and shooting; international travel, primarily for business and; good writing — fiction, poetry and history. If you are too, welcome and please join the dialogue.

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Filed under Climbing, Hunting, Outdoors, Politics, Sailing, Shooting, Travel, Treking, Uncategorized, Writing