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.

A great start of the year

I like the energy I get from those new discoveries, it gives me strength and ideas to learn more and continue to look into innovative things.

Today is a grey day in Paris, you can not tell how high the clouds are because it looks like the sky is just a big grey cloud with no limits. I am not a big fan of thoses days to say the least, it somehow impacts my energy in a negative way and just makes me want to sleep and hide until it’s better.

It’s Sunday with no sun, so I decided to make an effort and write a bit, might go to a co working space later today, to gather more positive energy 😇. Not sure why, but co working spaces really help me to do more that I would have been doing, at home. Of course it’s not free but just seing new faces and people working on something – whatever it is – helps me sometimes.

I had surgery last week, it went great 👍 and recovery is faster than I expected. No worries, I know that by hearing the word surgery, people often anticipate it as a last chance scenario for a bad thing happening; truth is it was just a very minor and very casual surgery known as saphenous veins removal. 😌 I tend to think that my great diet and new lifestyle has helped so much with it in the way that I am healthier today than I was last year.

I started a new job also, a freelance mission for a client for the next 5 months. It just feels so great, the team is amazing, I fit greatly in this new job and most importantly I am having a blast every day !

I decided to go freelance first because I wanted to be able to work where I wanted, and also because it would fit my project of working and studying at the same time for the next 6 months.

From there I am not sure 🤔 yet I will sign for another mission or try to start my new carrier as junior developer. Anyway time will say and I am very confident 🙂 that watever it is, it will be a nice journey.

Opening my own little company was not that difficult, of course it means you have to do things by yourself, meaning a bit of administrative tasks. In the end the most difficult was to figure out which tax forms I would now need to fill and to wait for the administration to take into account my new company. I came accross plenty of blogs, videos, websites, posts, giving tips and not always the greatest ones, it just felt sometimes I was the particular case no one was really talking about.

If you need help setting up your company in France 🇫🇷 don’t hesitate to contact me 😀, I have now a good knowledge of the do’s and don’t. Plus I am always keen to learn about new projects, yes I am that guy who goes to the startup Christmas market and talk to everyone to get to know their projects better. I went to the one in Station F in Paris this year and made some great discoveries.

I think 🤔 I developed this ease to talk to random strangers about different projects while traveling and living in countries where I was not speaking local language. I know how to make people at ease and make then tell me what their project is and feel confident.

One of the woman I met at this market was telling me she was in fact facing great difficulties in opening her own company. We had a little chitchat and I was able to make her more confident that the little administrative issues she has now are easy to go around. I do it for free, it empowers me and makes me more creative and happy about myself.

There was a bunch of nice little projects, one young startup from Lyon was proposing to industry to use fish skin to replace leather for example. The final texture or the product was very impressive, I guess the most difficult part with this product is to make consumers forget the brain 🧠 association they probably make in their minds with fish 🐟 being stinky.

I also admired a great project of a young woman who’s business she first started in her own kitchen had developed greatly already. Petit Côté is proposing portions of cakes made of at least 30% of vegetables 🥕. This have the advantage to reduce fats and sugar added in those pastries 🥮. I tried myself the chocolate cakes (with 30% beets) and it was really nice 👍.

Most of these businesses where launch during the pandemic and I can only be admirative of the resilience and the courage of those entrepreneurs !

The project I was the most excited and interested about is a company called Flakon. I do feel a bit mitigated about their current market target and I will do my best to explain why.

The product is great looking, simple and smart. Let me share a picture because you can then decide for yourself right away.

They bottle french wine 🍷, and the good ones, in 100mL cute packages, to put into perspective, the size of the bottle cap is the exact same as a standard 750mL wine bottle. They kepts the overall design of the standard bottle, adaptating it to the new for factor which IMO makes it really cute looking ! I find the form factor really attractive and wants to buy it and collecting it right away !

Their goal right now is to offer this product in boxes containing a few of them for wine tasting. Let me show you:

Boxes are far from being cheap and looks kind of ugly (just a better carton 📦) my guess would be that french consumers might prefer to buy actual bottles of 750mL and share with their guests instead of sharing one little test tube 🧪 for each wine.

I personally see this product in Asia, in China and in many luxury clubs of Asia ! Available in hotels too, at the bar and in the mini bar to allow clients, who don’t necessarily have the culture of drinking french wine , to try them and develop a taste for it. This product is far better looking than mini bottles we sometimes see will ever be. I aslo can only thing of seeing this product becoming the new thing to order all together at the club with friends instead of glasses of wine 🍷. I would totally see this product available in Bar Rouge in Shanghai for example.

I tried to share my enthusiasm but it doesn’t seem to me that they have any international ambitions at the time. 🥴

I like the energy I get from those new discoveries, it gives me strength and ideas to learn more and continue to look into innovative things. I might sound very Schumpeterian talking about innovation but what else is THIS interesting nowadays ? Our economies rely on innovation and I will do my best to be part of it in the next decade.

I admit I wanted to write about this for some time but never had the chance to yet. In the end, this grey Sunday was a chance 🍀

I might go to London in two weeks, i will do my best to write about a local subject 🤫

To be continued.

I am not an alcoholic, I just live in Shanghai (EN new version)

That sentence I did not invented it, I saw it once in an article on a newspaper for expats my first few days there. I first was like, yeah maybe old expats, not me, right ? 😂 It didn’t took me long to figure out that it was true, it could sound presumptuous to say that Shanghainese really love drinking, but since you can not drink water from the tap and that beers are so cheap (like 2 yuan), why not.

Reworked and English version this time ☺️

That sentence I did not invented it, I saw it once in an article on a newspaper for expats my first few days there. I first was like, yeah maybe old expats, not me, right ? 😂 It didn’t took me long to figure out that it was true, it could sound presumptuous to say that Shanghainese really love drinking, but since you can not drink water from the tap and that beers are so cheap (like 2 yuan), why not.

Shanghai’s nightlife

First of all, Shanghai is a city made for partying, with thousands of bars, clubs, secret bars, restaurants, partying from Sundays to Sundays ( wish I could do that anymore 😜) . On my first year in Shanghai I was not yet 18, we were going to the infamous Sky club with my friends from school, it was a time where open bar with counterfeited alcohol were the norm, followed by horrible headache unless you knew what to go for and what to avoid. Second of all, let’s say life is quite boring there, you kind of do the same things again and again, possibilities are infinite but in the end yes it’s kind of always the same stuff all around, I have never seen a Shanghai home without it’s own bar in the living room, for a last drink after work.

KTV

There are club parties and KTV parties which locals LOVE. Most of the time, Karaoke places are located in office buildings, with one dedicated floor, you get there via a dedicated elevator sometimes on a dedicated entry for the office building (so that you don’t cross the path of those who work there I guess). Once you get there, a waiter is dedicated to your group, you have to book a private room given how many people you are and how much and fancy you want the room to be, for example if you want extra light systems or a themed decoration. Then you either order from a tablet or go through the KTV alcohol and food store, your waiter will follow you with a basket and will carry all your « groceries ». Then it’s time to sit down and choose the songs you will sing for next few hours, often resulting in a lot of debates 😄. Fortunately there will always be a few U2 songs, with stolen footage from MTV, often clips you had never ever seen before with this one song but it’s China after all. From your room you can also order directly more food and drinks from a tablet, you will have mics often covered with weird looking hygienic foam, I must say I am not sure if it was us singing bad or if the sound from those sound system were always terrible. One more thing, it’s not unusual to go to KTV before going to clubbing or even after. I am pretty sure most KTV places are open 24/7.

Movies

Back in the day we would only buy illegal copies of movie in DVDs. Often the last blockbusters, in fact I never could figure out if it was actually possible to buy REAL DVDs, I know it’s not the case anymore nowadays, but at the time you would buy those DVDs in shops in the street or in little markets dedicated to counterfeit goods which were everywhere in the city. Illegal copies were often with a very bad quality, sometimes a move had not aired yet in the USA we would already have it on DVD, with the bottom or the top of the screen showing a disclaimer that this copy was eyes only for producers 😆. Sometimes it would be a movie literally filmed by someone in a cinema in the USA, with the recording device sometimes moving during the movie or heads of people in the actual cinema showing during the movie. I let you imagine the quality of sound and image given the conditions of recording with small devices in 2010… Price of those amazing DVDs was around 10 yuans (it use to be 1€) lower in bundle and this was the price for expats 😅. I had to leave them all when I left Shanghai, to avoid big issues with customs.

Rich kids privileges

It took me a while to finish my last year of high-school there, not to say those years might have appear super duper cool from outside but inside it was quite challenging. Firstly, French schools in Asia all have a 100% score at the national baccalaureate exam and they will do all they can to keep it that way. At the time I was coming from a below average high-school in Paris and it was a huge gap in academic level. Also the bac exams is happening and corrected a lot before the one taking the exam in France, with the exams being corrected by teachers from the other French International school in Asia, since they all know each other you can imagine that they are pretty indulgent with one another, just saying. Since my grades where no satisfying enough to the director of the school at the time they made me go back a year before during my graduation year, to go through another branch in order to assure my graduation the next year. When I think about it today, it was absolutely crazy and probably illegal but once again it’s China. 

French international schools are a perfect reflection of a community without social diversity. Students all have parents from the elite, all being senior executives of big companies there, or children of the local expatriate teachers. Classes are most of the time made up of 20 people, which sounds crazy coming from Paris were classes are more like 40 students. The Shanghai French School happens to be also a German school, it allowed them to have their own soccer field and 400-meter running track, a heated swimming pool and a theatre/cinema room. The facilities are on a par with the even more expensive American school nearby.

I have to say I always felt bad in this non mixed environment, I think the lack of diversity is bad for a country, a school and also a company. With diversity comes new ideas, new way of doing things and it’s overall a more enriching environment. 

Within two years in this super elite environment I was accepted in some of the best business schools and universities, but I was also deceived by this lack of new faces, it’s why I decided to go to University instead. I was accepted in McGill, in some great HK and London universities, in Science Po Paris (note that coming from an international French School at the time you had extra advantages to be accepted to this school, in fact it was only based on your grades and an oral exam whereas in France you would first have to go through a written exam to pass the first step), I was of course accepted in France too, again from an international French school you would have some privileges, you were automatically accepted to the first one on your list. 

My own choices

University is almost free in France, it’s where students go when they are not from rich families or when they want to study fields like medicine where there is no private schools. I wanted to make sure to meet people from every background, these people became my friend today and I could not be happier.