Of global warming, security, and robot toilets
Fortune's David Kirkpatrick writes:
The overriding issue obsessing this year's WEF is global warming and energy.
And with the weather worldwide seeming designed to remind us that man is perverting nature's balance, it was somewhat reassuring to arrive in Davos to find a healthy snow falling. I drove up from Munich where I'd been attending another conference, and where, like New York, the weather has been springlike all winter. Temperatures there of 60 degrees fahrenheit have not been unusual in recent weeks.
Security in Davos is a favorite topic of attendees, and this year it has reached new heights of absurdity. What drives so many of us crazy is that the hordes of machine-gun-toting Swiss soldiers who yell instructions whenever we're trying to go somewhere hardly ever speak English. I was seeking yesterday morning to register and was barred from walking down the street which would take me to the registration building. I was flummoxed, and became even more so when another rider in the van I was in, who spoke a modicum of German, told me that the soldier gesticulating wildly seemed to be saying that there was no way I could get to registration. Luckily I found my way eventually, after being forced to walk the wrong way for many blocks.
I've been coming here quite a few years, but for all the intellectual and sensory stimulation from amazing people and places, one thing has struck me every year - the toilets in the Congress Centre - the main hall where WEF sessions take place. After you use a toilet, a little robotic mechanism pulls the entire seat through a sort of squeegee with soap and water at the back of the toilet. It's a good symbol of the tidiness of the Swiss, so evident here in so many ways, sometimes to a maddening degree.
Finally - a tiny sign of economic stability - the price of a lunch at one of the many WEF sessions over lunch has remained stable for at least 5 years, albeit at the high price of 90 Euros.
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