by Przemysław Myszka
The jamming of the Suez Canal brought our industry to the attention of the public at large. Unfortunately, it seems that almost only negative events have enough (meme) power to do so. Before Ever Given, when was the last time mainstream media cut out a bit of its airtime for transport & logistics? Probably at the time of the Beirut and Tianjin port explosions. These 'Exxon Valdezes' give us nothing but bad press.
While being hosted on a regional Polish radio show to share my thoughts about the recent mishap, I was racing to squeeze in as much as possible in the allotted ten minutes to explain to the person on the Clapham omnibus the murky reality of today's global container shipping, hence how such an incident was almost inevitable. I think not even such heavyweight maestros like Mark Twain or George Bernard Shaw could deliver a punchline that would encapsulate the container alliances' tug-of-war and their TEU-arms-race. Sadly, the public eye is by and large stone-blind to how the surrounding things got around us in the first place. 'iPhones, well, China, then, I dunno, Apple Store. Whatevuh, dude, mine is delayed because of some frickin' boat!'
Digging a bit deeper, did you also notice the place of transport & logistics, particularly ports, in popular culture? Time and again, I'm struck that every shady business, gunfight, pursuit, final showdown, etc., pictured in films and video games takes place in a harbour. For instance, in the Mafia II game, the port labour union was corrupted and ran by gangsters, with car theft, in order to sell the vehicle to a felonious stevedore, being one of the best ways for making a quick buck... At least they paid attention to historical accuracy - the stolen loot was handled in the lo-lo technology. On the other hand, though, strategic games teach us that there's a rift between having a port or not, economy- and military-wise. There's also a robust niche involving trucking games, so maybe not all hope is lost.
Luckily, we know better, right? That's why we have prepared yet another bundle of splendid reads for you. These include pieces about the port- and shipping-related legal aspects of the European Green Deal; what will potentially be needed to revive cruise shipping; what good can come from machine learning for maritime logistics; the, it appears, unintended competition that will be brought about by Russian port investments; along with reads that very much focus on the 'human factor' of our industry - addressing gender inequality as well as the importance and benefits of providing our brave seafarers with proper nutrition, for their physical and mental health alike.
These, plus, of course, the Collector's corner and Transport miscellany columns, as always packed with outrageously interesting content!
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