French Car Parks

In France, all large parking lots now have to be covered by solar panels:

In France, solar just got a huge boost from new legislation approved through the Senate this week that requires all parking lots with spaces for at least 80 vehicles – both existing and new – be covered by solar panels.

The new provisions are part of French president Emmanuel Macron’s large-scale plan to heavily invest in renewables, which aims to multiply by 10 the amount of solar energy produced in the country, and to double the power from land-based wind farms.

Thanks

I learned a Swiss expression today — from the book The Ministry of the Future.
Danke Mille Fois is how people from Zürich say many thanks. Danke = thanks in German + Mille Fois = a thousand times in French.

Nice multilingual expression.

Change

Become aware of the narrative 🌊 ocean you swim in. And then change it.

Like the fish who isn’t aware of the water that surrounds it, most of us are not aware of the stories that make up the world view that we have inherited. That world view not only doesn’t work, it leads us to ruin. 70% of wildlife has disappeared since the 1970’s. That’s such a terrible number that it is staggering.

So, if we are to change the culture that has led us down this pass, we first have to realize that we are swimming in water, we are shaped by these stories. We need to change the stories and thereby change the narrative and then change the collective course. If only more art and music was taught in schools, rather than concentrating on science and technology and math, we would find it easier to dream up new paths. Science, whoever powerful, doesn’t dream. Artists dream.

History

Did you ever notice that the flag of England, a red cross on a white background and the flag of Genoa look identical? I had been wondering about that and looked for an explanation. They are identical because England rented the flag of Genoa for many years, because the might of Genoa could guarantee safe passage to English ships.

Genoa first adopted the symbol, and St George as its patron saint, in 1190 during the Crusades, when the city was a fearsome maritime republic.

The red and white cross was then taken up by the English towards the end of the 13th century, to be flown by its navy to deter its enemies from attacking and to scare off pirates.

The English agreed to pay a “substantial” annual fee to the ruler of Genoa for the right to fly the flag and use their ports to trade.

But payment stopped when the republic collapsed years later.

From the The Sun. Another article can be found in the The Guardian

The English monarch paid an annual fee for the privilege of flying the Genoese flag, but over the years it seems the English simply stopped making payments. This was, of course, after they had made it their own – by the late 13th century, the St George’s Cross was becoming more prominent in public life and in 1606 it was combined with the St Andrew’s Cross to make the Union Jack. According to Marco Bucci, the Mayor of Genoa, England stopped paying for use of the flag in 1771, when the maritime Republic of Genoa was in rapid decline.

Culture Trip

English

It was forty minutes before sunrise, and I was about to leave the house to start my morning walk, when my partner suggested a podcast she had discovered. I hadn’t picked anything to listen to yet and so I downloaded the first two episodes of this podcast about the History of English. After an introduction, the host read a text in Modern English, Middle English, and Old English. Those three generations of English sounded very different. To my ears Middle English sounded a bit like Scottish and Old English sounded more like a Scandinavian language. I learned that the power of English lies in its huge vocabulary, the result of the absorption of many words from other languages. I find that this makes Brexit even more puzzling. Perhaps there was a precedent in how Japan adopted a policy to confine itself from the rest of the world, set up by the Tokugawa Shonugate in the 17th century?

After my walk I came across a tweet that quoted this article about a Missouri school district that revives paddling to discipline students. I replied Paddle revival… the desire to go backwards is strong. Hopefully this will lead to horse-drawn carriages soon. :-)

Will an aging population drag cultures backwards? People generally live longer than ever before – although there are exceptions like this: Life expectancy in the United States continued to fall in 2021 for the second year in a row to 76.1 years, the lowest since 1996, showed the report published by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) last week (link). Is it an aging population, and their fond memories of a fictitious past, or is it, perhaps, the contraction that inevitably follows any expansion.

Tempo dirá… time will tell. Tomorrow I will listen to more of the podcasts about the History of English.

History

I think most of us can remember getting caught in a lie or a deed that got us into trouble. The brain worked feverishly to come up with a suitable excuse while the parent was simply shaking their head in disbelief.

I imagine many slave owners knew in their bones that it was wrong but searched for excuses for their enslavement of people. If we can only come up with reasons why the enslaved is inferior to the enslaver… then we might be able to continue with this business. See scientific racism (Wikipedia).

If I remember history correctly, slavery existed for millennia but, until a few centuries ago, people never came up with the excuse of the slave being inferior — slaves were simply the soldiers and people who had lost the war and therefore became the slaves of the victors.

These days we hear politicians claiming that migrants and immigrants are inferior people, or even criminals. Throughout history animals and humans have migrated. The reasons were droughts or disagreements or simply the search for a different life. Foragers rarely fought and it was more likely that groups would split up and go their different ways. One such splinter group may have led the exodus out of Africa. So, in essence every non African is a migrant.

Many Silicon Valley hotshots own property in New Zealand – Business Insider, Bloomberg, The Guardian. People buy property in coutries to obtain a golden visa. How is that morally superior to a family needing to leave a drought zone, a war zone, or a zone that has no opportunities for their children? And then there is climate change. Shouldn’t the industrial nations, who contributed more to causing climate change, help people displaced by climate change?

I wonder whether, just a few decades from now, history will view the issues surrounding immigrants today as similar to how slavery was once seen. Is migration the new slavery? I was reminded of a sentence I read in the excellent book Grand Hotel Europe, by Ilya Leonard Pfeijffer:

Those who believe they are suffering tend to blame people who are suffering even more. The weak are generally gunning for the even weaker.

Those are two deeply troubling sentences. I have reread them many times and can’t claim that they are wrong.