Europe on the verge of War

Who could have predicted that after two years of pandemic crisis, Russian president would decide to invade Ukraine and threaten peace in Europe ? The madness of one single man is once again leading the world into the Third World War. Who would have bet 3rdWW would be happening in Europe. Like many I thought it would have been between India and China or some other countries of Asia…

Who could have predicted that after two years of pandemic crisis, Russian president would decide to invade Ukraine and threaten peace in Europe ? The madness of one single man is once again leading the world into the Third World War. Who would have bet 3rdWW would be happening in Europe. Like many I thought it would have been between India and China or some other countries of Asia… Updated on 27/02

The script was already written 15 years ago in Putin’s mind when he was at the Munich security conference reminding the West that Russia might have suffered from the fall of USSR, but was still a big country and would not let the West install forces around Russia. Putin was already known to be this ex secret service strong and brutal new face or Russia, in one word, not a fun person. While the bankruptcy of USSR and the fall of the regime brung Russia from a feared nation to the place of an enemy nobody would care about anymore; the hatred of the West was pushing nationalists to the Presidence. Hatred and thirst of revenge are most probably the motivation Putin…

NATO, the Americans and Ukraine

It was not long ago that Russia was invading Georgia, and this time they are repeating the exact same scenario than in 2008 counting on the passivity of the West.

While the Ukrainian people and army are probably going to me massacred in Kiev like during Warsaw uprising in 1944 by the Nazis, the West is just praying that it will only be Ukraine alone and that War won’t come to European Union.

It is clear given the few statements given by key western countries the last few days, that in their minds they are kind of hoping the invasion will be fast and brief, hoping for only few casualties and that Putin plans is only to install a Pro-Russian government, like in Bielorussia for example… No one will try to help Ukraine or Kiev citizens, while timidly offering help to the Volodymyr Zelensky to help him flee the country.

I would not understand the situation too if I was not living in Poland and now understanding the ex USSR oppressed countries state of mind agains Putin. Ukrainian are proud and ready to die for the idea of freedom, for the idea that Ukraine should stay free from Russian influence and should have their own democracy. While Polish are doing all they can to welcome Ukrainian refugees, give them food and shelter, many Ukrainians are going the other way, to give their life in a hopeless fight in Kiev and Lviv against Russian tanks.

This new war is made of civils, from Europe, either Ukrainian diasporas going back to fight and even European concerned citizens of different countries who decide to go help, to give their lives for an idea of freedom and democracy.

I am surprised that we do not even try to smuggle weapons to give Ukrainians at least a chance to defend themselves against the invader, unofficially.


European Union, USA, and NATO countries are ready to sacrifice Ukraine to avoid War and save peace. I understand their point of view, saving lives and hoping of a diplomatic resolution is often a better choice than counting the dead. Since WW2, no one would have imagine war was this close given nuclear dissuasion.

Juste to put into perspective the size of Ukraine compared to Western Europe:

Size of Ukraine

Huge impact in France on the presidential campaign

President Macron was supposed to disclose his candidacy for re-election in the next few days, it looks like it won’t be his first concern the next few weeks anymore. It was rather surprising how weak his TV declaration tone was compared to the one 2 years ago when he was announcing the first lockdown because of Covid with this now famous sentence “We are at war against an invisible enemy” Now that the enemy is visible we are literally looking the other way, and hoping that the Russian bear won’t get the taste for blood.

The rest of the candidates from Melanchon to Zemmour, were not expecting the war, and were until last week even defending the point of view of Putin regarding Ukraine. The few other candidates program like the ecologist were to reduce army budget and aim for the end of the nuclear power plants. The wake up call was difficult, sorry but not sorry we are not living in a peace and love world anymore.

It’s hard to tell yet if the French have any idea of what’s really playing right now. They seem to be more concerned of the price of gas and inflation that about anything else, while Kiev is only two hours from Paris by plane it still seems far to them.

French embassy is the last one stil open in Kiev, there are around 700 french still there, we were learning last night that the GIGN force was assuring the security of the embassy and that they were ready to evacuate people if necessary.

The French embassy in Kiev

I read today on a few facebook groups for French people in Poland that journalist from Brut. and other newspapers were looking for ways to reach the border, that’s too bad they don’t come with at least medics or supplies…

Poland and the polish people, the first aid

I am very impressed by how fast Polish people are organising help for the Ukrainians. While the Polish government has deployed big effort at the border to register all the refugees and guide them to place where they could shelter, have access to food and psychological help, they seem to be the only one helping. 😢

According to contact in Ukraine, Russia artillery are right now as we speak targeting heavily Kiev and launching missiles.

Missiles targeting buildings in Kiev

The private medical group operating in Poland, Luxmed is gathering meds, food, and basic life supporting tools to be sent to Ukraine. They are also collecting blood to assist the Ukrainian hospitals. My gf is right now offering free psychological support to refugees and giving her time like many others in the stations to help the families who arrive in Wroclaw.

Poland has been welcoming over 120 000 refugees the last few days, with men from 18 to 60 being required to go back to Kiev to fight by the government.

A once in a lifetime occasion for China to invade Taiwan

I am worried for Taiwan today, after retaking Hong Kong back while the West was occupied fighting the pandemic, it would be technically the best moment for them to test the weakness of the West by invading Taiwan. Like for Ukraine, it’s very likely nothing will happen, UK and USA will protest and say it’s bad but who wants to go to war against China today ? No one. like against Russia to save Ukraine.

I am crossing fingers that China will refrain their ambitions but they have the same approach has Putin toward Ukraine, considering it’s their land taken from them and that they should defend their pro China citizens from the regime of Taiwan. What a joke..

An American destroyer has crossed the straits between Taiwan and China yesterday (26/02), a way to say don’t even thing about it to China.

The dark side of Q-Commerce.

The dark side of Q-Commerce. Too much instantaneity in our daily lives ?

It got me wondered, all those new delivery services, relying on dark stores or dark kitchens, delivering us food and goods in less than 15 minutes; is it really the future we want to live in ? Think about it, do we really want to live in a world where everything is instant ? Is it a bad habit ? Are we leaving the kid’s dream of desiring something and getting everything right away ?

I had this reflexion while ordering my coffee today, since it’s the beginning of the university year most new employees are student who are learning how to make coffees, hence it takes more time than the usually – learning takes time – . I felt that I was impatient and that it was not like usual, which made me wonder if I was getting too used to having everything very quickly. 🧐

You probably noticed, given the crazy amount of money these companies spent in marketing their products, that a bunch of Q-commerce (quick commerce) businesses are competing at the moment. Flink, Gorillaz and many others are racing to be the “on-demande delivery” or “e-grocery” kings. The ones that will bring to you, an any time of the day, that liter of orange juice you are missing, that piece of cheese you need for a late snack, that bottle of wine you need for a last-minute date. Instead of going out to your local little store still open late or at night, you can just click and order.
Q-commerce is making it’s money on the fact we are just lazy urban people. Because it is necessary to specify that these services concern only the big cities, they could not be profitable on less dense or too extended geographical zones.

Maybe I am not seeing the incredible potential here of the quick delivery business ? I think that my assumptions are based on the fact that I myself worked in a delivery company.
Deliveroo for example, created in 2013, has been losing money since then, and lost $309 million in 2020 while its revenues climbed to $5,64 billion.

The only two things in my opinion that are profitable in this type of business are :

  1. dark kitchens, own by the company itself, which are highly efficient production units without a storefront that are optimized for delivery, selling only via delivery.
  2. selling marketing services to their restaurants/partners

Even though they take about 30% on each orders make into the “normal” restaurants, this revenue is not enough for them to stop losing money. The main problem for these companies is that they have to spent gigantic amount of money on marketing to customers.

With Q-commerce, it’s not about dark kitchens anymore but about dark stores which would qualify has strategically located warehouses, in this case, in the very center of the city. Dark stores allows them the maximum agility and flexibility in order to deliver as quick as possible.

I have many concerns about the impact of these structures on the rest of the convenience stores. Are we going to assist to witness the death of these stores ? I mean, dark stores are no fun, and I recently read an article about a little supermarket in the very center of Paris who became a dark store, meaning a warehouse bad-looking unfriendly place, dark here takes on its full meaning. Are our city and town centers going to look like industrial zones ? A bit like what it was in fact looking alike during the big lockdowns of the covid crisis.

We have seen huge amounts recently invested in those quick delivery companies. Flink itself raised $240 millions last. For Paris itself, given the fact that many stores in the center closed during the covid crisis, I really think they will use this opportunity to buy a bunch of these places. I wonder how locals will react to these new-born stores that they can’t physically access ?

We could already witness the impact of Amazon on local small retail businesses, closing one by one when the owners retire. I do agree that this type of business have missed the opportunity to go online until now, relying on their loyal customers, and in fact, the covid crisis had a real positive impact in the profound changes that these companies must consider in their way of doing business. I think, for example that they could definitely keep their stores and either become Amazon sellers (or opening their own online shops) and therefore becoming themselves little “sort of” warehouses in the city centers.

Still, I wonder how these companies will end up making money. We can already guess the future here : the most successful ones will either buy the other ones or make them drown in the long run. Then giants like Amazon will probably buy them back. In my opinion, only a giant dominating the industry can make profits with its large scale.

There has been a few articles recently in the news regarding the possible soon end of the era of supermarkets, hypermarkets.

Has the hypermarket model had its day? This revolutionary concept of “everything under one roof”, popularized in 1963 by Carrefour, has conquered the whole world. Today, however, the French pioneer, like its competitors, is down on one knee. The crisis of gigantism, associated with the dehumanization of commerce and over-consumption, is the main cause. According to experts, the omnipotence of certain groups will be threatened within ten years. From now on, the whole sector is trying to save what can be saved, even if it means resorting to practices bordering on legality.

https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/095178-000-A/hypermarches-la-chute-de-l-empire/

Three years after buying Whole Foods for $13 billion, Amazon has already launched its own brand, Amazon Fresh. This year they opened one of the first Amazon fresh stores in London. In France, Amazon already holds 10% of the consumer goods market.

I think we really must ask ourselves about the dehumanization of commerce and over-consumption. Also we must worry about our selfie-obsessed generation, where we always want to look happier than the rest of our peers on Instagram. Writing this article I am not sure I can make the link between these different concepts right away but I have the feeling there is more to it, that Instagram and social networks have largely contributed to the fact we are quite comfortable with the concept of dehumanization and that the extreme narcissistic society we live in is well connected with over-consumption.

To be continued…

Feniks, or how it was before Amazon, AKA the most underrated shop in Wroclaw

This store has an uninviting atmosphere and seems to be from the 90’s, but it is such a gem in the very center of the city, it’s located in a 6th floors Art Nouveau building from 1904. I am here talking about the Feniks store of course !

I often go for walks in the center, enjoying a new restaurant, or discovering a new café. I like to discover new shops and streets I haven’t had the chance to explore yet. The center is full of very cute colourful buildings and most shops are like any other European cities, own by international brands.
The entry of this old-looking mall is situated on Rynek, between a Burger King and a McDonald, on the other side the entry is next to an old barber shop, and is in fact the entry of the supermarket situated on the ground floor. You might have been to the supermarket full of very Polish goods, but skipped the next floors given the uninviting style of the elevators or the big marble stairs with their ugly looking neon lights. This design feels super outdated in today’s world where malls are big shiny places.

Each floor consist of a large space filled with a pallid light, and some dusty looking shelves but please don’t run away, because this shop is definitely worth it !

On the first floor, you will find plenty of made in Poland clothes including scarfs and leather gloves with fair prices, vintage looking but great value. A bunch of toys and games for kids, and a solid choice of stationery items. There is also a shop specialised in selling old coins, like old zlotys, it looks perfect for finding a gift for your grand parents !

On the second floor, you will find what I would describe to be what Amazon is today. You can find anything for you house, your bathroom, your kitchen, vintage or modern. I have never seen such a large choice of glasses, of vases, of cups, coffee utensils, plates. From grandma style looking cups to more modern standards. Basically all you can ever dream to find in the same shop. Of couse there will also be a large choice of old looking stuff, I won’t judge, all I can say is that there is something for everyone 😄 even if it is a greyish looking sheep plush.

On the third floor, there is a bunch of clothing accessories, including rock&roll style T-shirts and clothes shop, a choice of skateboards, a large choice of shirts and suits (all of these items are always made in Poland) and a large choice of shoes for women and men. There is also a selection of old Vinyls between the military looking clothes and the Rock bands t-shirts and pin’s 😃.

address : Rynek 31/32, 50-114 Wrocław, Pologne
Oh and they even have a website : https://www.feniks.wroc.pl (which exists but lack all you would want of a website)