Random Thoughts #3 – geography, Led Zeppelin and introversion
Today I feel sad.
But honestly, it’s probably nothing.
I’m sore as hell from deadlifting in the gym yesterday.
Today I spent half the morning looking for different documents to send to my accountant, and the other half doing boring website maintenance stuff. You know, SEO and all that.
As a result, I spent most of the day indoors, didn’t get any sun, and I feel crappy.
I really want a hug, or maybe a handjob, or maybe a bottle of good wine and a million dollars.
In the meantime I’m drinking a homemade negroni and listening to Led Zeppelin.
Anyway, here are some more random thoughts.
Geography Rules Everything Around Me
I’m reading the book Prisoners of Geography by a fellow named Tim Marshall, and it’s really good.
The main point is that navigable rivers, seaports, mountain ranges and such things do a lot more to determine the success or failure of a country than we normally think.
The United States, for example, has the world’s longest system of navigable rivers, in the Louisiana Purchase area. Our neighbors to the north and south are largely unproblematic. (Try having Russia or Germany as a neighbor someday for comparison.)
This, along with other factors like Puritan work culture, I assume, has led to the massive success of the US on the world scene.
Africa, on the other hand, despite being huge and full of resources, has few navigable rivers, few natural ports, and a whole lot of desert (mostly) separating it from the rest of the world.
These days we can fly over the Sahara in a couple of hours, but for virtually all of human history, you’d have to walk or take a camel. Meaning ideas and trade from Europe had a hard time reaching (for example) Senegal. Hence some of the difficulties Africa’s had “developing” at the same rate as other regions.
There’s more than that, of course: a lot of the world’s problems come from the arbitrary borders drawn by British or French imperialists back in the day, uniting ethnic groups that hate each other into nation-states nobody wanted.
Anyway, it’s an interesting read about an aspect of world history that’s usually overlooked. There’s a lot about the Middle East, Russia and the Ukraine, India and Pakistan, China and much much more.
Check it out on Amazon here: Prisoners of Geography.
When I was about 16 I became obsessed with Led Zeppelin.
I have to admit, it was largely Puff Daddy’s fault.
In 1998, ol’ Puffy had a song called Come With Me that was a sort of rap remix of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. It was part of the soundtrack for some Godzilla movie I never saw, but it made the alternative rock charts.
I’d never heard of Led Zeppelin before, but the DJs on the local alt-rock radio station mentioned it was a remix of Kashmir, so I went out and bought Houses of the Holy so I could hear the original.
Despite being a bit turned off by Robert Plant’s squeaky voice in the beginning, I ended up buying about 10 Led Zeppelin albums over the next year. When I started playing the guitar, I learned a couple of their classic songs: Black Dog and Stairway to Heaven, at least.
And listening to Come With Me again, 20 years later, I’ve gotta say, it’s not bad at all. Good work, Puffy.
So today, since I’m sad and listening to Led Zeppelin for some reason, let’s remember the greatness of those drug-addled, blues-playing, Stairway-to-Heaven-writing Brits for a moment.
(Unpopular opinion: Stairway to Heaven actually kinda sucks.)
Making friends as an introvert
A lot of people don’t actually know I’m an introvert, but I am.
And what is an introvert, anyway?
Susan Cain, author of Quiet, has the definition that I like best: introverts people who prefer quieter, less stimulating environments.
So it’s not like I’m shy or anything.
I just don’t enjoy a lot of things that society seems to think are “fun”.
Anyway, living in a new city is kind of rough for me as an introvert. Because while I generally like meeting people, I’d usually prefer to sit at home reading a book, or take a walk.
And for a guy who wrote a guide to making friends in Spain, I’m sort of half-assing my social life now that I’m here in Barcelona.
Perhaps I’ll update y’all in a few months with some miraculous success story about building a social circle up here in Spain’s frozen north.
Or perhaps not.
In any case, life is good!
Okay, well, it’s time for dinner.
If you want more random thoughts, I’ve got Venezuela, Vox and GoT and also noise, focus and Hunter S Thompson.
And you might also be interested in my articles about life in Arizona and here in Spain.
P.S. It looks like I’ll be travelling to India soon. Kind of a long story. Anyway, you can look forward to my updates from the Subcontinent when that happens. Stay tuned…