Mexico City has the best french toast anywhere

It's so good, it's almost a dessert. Amazing bread, the cooks hand-whip the milk and egg batter custom with each order, tons of cinnamon, organic berries on top and whipped cream. This french toast is not to be trifled with. 

Scarfing down amazing pizza at Aborigen!

Dr. Pizza used to be the best pizza in Mexico City. But it's time for Dr. Pizza to go back to pizza medical school because now Aborigen is the best!! Their crust is unusual, in that it's not only naturally leavened, but it has a rustic quality to it that's just incredible. 

My favorite pulque place

It's a tiny one-room place in a tiny town in the Oaxaca valley. The lady who makes it just ladles the stuff out of the plastic buckets she ferments it in. So fresh and good. (Pictured above: The outside of the place; below: my pulque lady with one of her customers and also her pet goat, who happens to be peeing on the floor in this picture.) 

This is Oaxacan food. Any questions?

Mexico is the food capital of Latin America. And Oaxaca is the food capital of Mexico. Oaxaca is where Mexicans go when they want to go to Mexico. AMA.

The Chinese government, which banned TikTok, says Europe's ban on TikTok is bad for business. Why?

The Big Question about TikTok, the crack-like addictive social network owned by China's ByteDance, is: "Does the Chinese government intend to use the global reach and power of TikTok to spy or influence? Yes or no?

The "Yes" camp gets another point today after the Chinese government warned that Europe's ban on the use of TikTok by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the EU Council on official devices "harm business confidence" in Europe. 

The US government and more than half of US states have banned the TikTok app on government-owned devices as well, and the Chinese government "lashed out" about that as well.

Lots of countries are banning TikTok in one way or another. But the Chinese government seems especially vexed by the bans on US and European government devices. 

If the Chinese government did not want to use TikTok for bad intentions, why does it care so much about it being installed on European and American government devices?

And if TikTok is so great for business confidence, why did the Chinese government ban it in China?

Xochimilco at sunrise

I got a chance to show up at Xochimilco in the dark, ride a boat to a farm and watch the sun rise over an active volcano. (Xochimilco is a series of canals built by the Aztecs in what used to be a lake but which is now Mexico City.) What an experience!

"Black devils" roam Oaxacan town during Fat Tuesday

One of our friends in Oaxaca surprised us by taking us to a restaurant called Almú in the tiny and remote town of San Martín Tilcajete in the Oaxaca Valley. 

As we drove through town, our car was blocked by dozens of men and boys dressed like devils and painted black pretended to rampage through the town as part of how Oaxaca celebrates carnival. It's a tradition called the "La Danza de los Diablos" or "Dance of the Devils," a name coined by Spanish missionaries. I got out and took a few pictures. 

When the Spanish first came to Oaxaca in the 16th Century, Zapotecs (the main indigenous ethnic group in Oaxaca) tried to scare them away by painting themselves black and acting like monsters. 

It's part of Zapotec tradition since before the Spanish arrived. The black "paint" is made with cooking oil mixed with charcoal. Many also paint their faces white, red, or black. 

Until recently, only men and boys participated, but a few years ago a few women and girls started joining in. 

Traditionally they wore shells around their waists to make a racket while running around town. Nowadays, they use bells. They try to scare people, and, if they can they wipe some black coloring on the faces of women and girls -- the "kiss of the devil," a way of flirting with them.

The tradition has variants around Oaxaca, but it's particularly strong in San Martín Tilcajete, and the town is locally famous for it. 

Also: There's drinking involved. As we drove through the town after our four-hour lunch, some of those devils were conspicuously hammered. 

Phrase of the moment: "metaverse winter"

Derek Robertson penned a piece for Politico that describes the current "metaverse winter." After an initial surge in excitement and investment, some of the companies who would bring the "metaverse" into mainstream acceptance are cutting funding and laying off workers, further delaying the arrival of widespread VR, AR and XR.

GlobalData Thematic Research by Verdict used the phrase in a January 20 report in which they said the "metaverse winter" is an opportunity for businesses to restrategize. GlobalData also trotted the phrase around in various interviews and press releases, claiming that the "metaverse winter" is being caused in 2023 by "cooling interest, economic obstacles, and the immaturity of enabling technologies."

The "metaverse winter" of 2023 was predicted by Dataquest in November of 2022. 

An even earlier reference to the phrase appeared in September of 2022 by a crypto enthusiast and blogger named xuanling11, who claimed that the "Metaverse Winter is So Cold."

Also in September of last year, a Turkish publication claimed that Turkey was going through a "metaverse winter" because Turks has stopped buying up real estate in VR, for the most part.

Simple Oaxacan food is often the best

This is just blue-corn tortilla, some natural lard and a little cheese cooked on a comal. Put some hand-made salsa on it, and it's heaven on earth. 

Blame richer foreigners: Welcome to the new nativism

In the fifth season of the TV series, “Yellowstone,” protagonist John Dutton makes a speech, having been newly elected as governor of Montana, in which he promises Montanans that he will use his power to disincentivize wealthy outsiders from New York and California from coming to the state, buying up vacation properties, creating demand for airports and resorts and generally driving up the cost of living.

A similar sentiment is cropping up around the world, in which urban locals blame foreign tourists and digital nomads and Airbnb for the rising cost of living and rising rental costs.

We first heard this sentiment from residents of Mexico City, where some feel gringos are showing up in unprecedented large numbers, spending lots and lots of money and driving up the cost of living.

Now Portugal is enshrining this idea into law, banning new Airbnb properties, revoking their Golden Visa program and generally seeking to disincentive wealthier outsiders from coming to the country and driving up the cost of living for the Portuguese.

I fear this idea will spread globally as people in the post-pandemic era travel more, work abroad more, and seek out more exotic vacations, workstations and temporary residencies.

The fact is that when foreigners with money to burn show up in large numbers in any place, there are winners and losers. They boost employment. They might as well be dropping hundred dollar bills from helicopters. They drive up home valuations for those who own homes. At the same time, they drive up rental costs for those who don’t own homes And they drive up the price of going to some restaurants and some bars, and using some other services for locals, whose income has not increased to accommodate the rising cost of living. 

There are winners and losers. But for the most part, these locations benefit. The reason is that foreigners take their money from abroad, and they spend it in the countries where people are complaining. More money means more employment, more tax revenue to improve local services are in general make things better.

It’s no coincidence that these notions are cropping up in an era of inflation. As I travel around the world, I’ve noticed inflation everywhere. But everywhere you go locals have a local reason why they think global inflation is taking place. 

I fear that if local regulations in places like Portugal succeed in reducing the number of foreign visitors, they’ll find themselves with all the inflation and all the rising costs of living, but with fewer jobs to pay for it all.

Inflation is global and to assign a local cause to it is mostly misguided.

In any event, a new nativism is taking hold, and it’s going to seriously impact Wii, global travelers, digital nomads, and remote workers.

The things bosses are doing to boost productivity are killing productivity

In the era of remote work, bosses are worried about lazy employees slacking off. And so they're forcing workers to come into the office or deploying surveillance software to track their every keystroke and mouse movement at home. 

New research shows, however, that these actions are precisely what make employees WANT to slack off and "steal time" from their employers. 

The evidence is clear: The best way to drive productivity is to let employees work when and where they want, and to trust them