The World & Beyond

The writings of a global transient.

Month: October 2014

Terrorism and Terrorist have officially lost all meaning

Ive posted before about a proper working definition of terrorism.  Today its time to declare that the word terrorism has officially lost all meaning.  This isnt the first time a word has lost all meaning.  It happens quite a bit.   Sometimes it is the sign of a good thing.  For example, when I was a kid in Connecticut I would see on the news stories of meatheads from Brooklyn of New Jersey heading down to Greenwich Village to Gay Bash i.e. to literally assault homosexuals for being homosexual.  In the last 20 years however you see something different happening.  Gay Bashing has by and large lost all meaning.  When I hear gay bashing I dont think that a homosexual was assaulted, rather I think that some politicians or some conservatives are opposing LGBT rights (see here and here).  The reason the definition of gay bashing is different today is because violent assaults on homosexuals dont happen nearly as much as they used to (of course they still do happen).  This is a good thing.

Another word (or phrase in this case) that is losing all meaning is PTSD.  It used to be that when someone said that they have PTSD that I assumed they had seen combat in Vietnam or one of the endless aggressive wars the United States has waged since then.  Now when I hear someone has PTSD I assume he had a crappy relationship with his father and is un-motivated and depressed and want s to be able to take his dog on airline flights.  That PTSD has changed meanings is generally a bad thing because it leads to less accommodation by society of people suffering from truly traumatic experiences.

Terrorism has lost all meaning.  Governments have learned that the fear of terrorism has allowed a massive expansion of the Warfare State along with the corresponding infringement on civil liberties.  As a result, the accusation of terrorism or terrorist is employed in the most ridiculous of circumstances.

This article is the most recent and best example of all that.  Last week Serbia and Albania had a football match in Belgrade.  During the match a drone carrying a Greater Albania banner that showed Kosovo as a part of “Greater Albania” was flown just over the field.  A Serb player ripped the flag down, causing an Albanian player to retrieve the flag.  A melee broke out and outnumbered 30,000-15 or so the Albanians feared for their lives and fled the field.  A dispute broke out between Serbia and Albania over the incident and Serbia called the Albanian players and coaches “accomplices” to a plan that was a “pre-planned terrorist action”.  Absurd.  (That being said, Albania wasnt much better about the incident, instead whining about racism.)

So is this change in the definition of terrorist a good thing or a bad thing?  I think it is good thing.  Terrorism and the fear of it has been used by governments to such great affect in expanding the Warfare State that the more ridiculous governments get with the phrase eventually more people will start to see through the entire terrorism charade.

Who doesnt collate and why?

Yesterday was  October 15th and I of course had to rush around in the morning to get my tax returns post-marked and on their way before the end of the day.

I needed to print two copies from my accountant and then find a DHL. So I hooked up my computer to the printer (I have never successfully figured out how to print over wifi from any printer I have ever owned that claims such capability) select 2 for the number of copies and hit print.

After dealing with the inevitable lack of paper followed up with a
paper jam I got my two copies.  Great.

No wait, its not great.  I got two of page 1, two of page 2, two of page 3,  in that order and I had to sort them.

Here is my question:  I have sat and thought about when I would EVER want that to happen and I cant think of a single situation.  Numerous times in my life I have had to separate copies into their proper order but not once, ever, can I recall thinking Oh shit, these copies came out in the proper order!!, now I will have to put all the page 1s together, all the page 2s together, etc

I understand why that could be an option for the mythical situation where one would want that but it should NEVER be the default and should probably result in a are you sure? pop-up like you get for every other activity that you actually want to do on your computer.

Frugality and Lack of Possessions = Freedom. Part 1: Get Rid Of the Clothes Dryer.

For the last 5 years or so I have been on a major frugality kick, which is also a part of my get rid of your possessions theme.  It all began when I first started spending long stretches of time with nothing more than my laptop, kindle, and 10 days or so worth of clothes.  After repeated trips to Africa and later eastern Europe and then returning home I continually found myself less and less happy at home.

There are a number of reasons for this but foremost among them was that in the US I  had a house full of possession and possessions=obligations.  In Africa I realized that  my computer, kindle, and 10 days worth of clothes was all that I needed and that everything else was just a drag on achieving my goals. I get more and more extreme with this outlook with each year.

What I have discovered, in short, is that frugality and lack of possessions = freedom. (Interestingly, this is the number one subject that my friends ask me about via email).

Earlier in the year I lived in Riga, Latvia for almost two months in a three bedroom apartment owned by Bobby Casey that I shared with my good friend Stephen Hilgart.  Steve and I didnt have a dryer.  Guess what?  I was fine with it.  Not only was I fine with it I was happier without one than with one.

Short breaks from email throughout the day to entertain oneself with music or to spending a few minutes a day improving your outlook by focusing on what you are grateful for in your life are important to simultaneously achieving work goals as well as your overall happiness.

A few minutes every other day or so of hanging clothes to dry and/or taking them off the drying rack to fold and put away is a perfect little diversion from the daily routine.

 

My clothes rack better than a dryer

 

 

 

In addition, I have actually found that not using a dryer is LESS of an obligation than using one.  That sounds counter-intuitive but let me explain:

If you want to do laundry with a washer and a dryer you have to set aside a solid two hours of your time waiting for the washing cycle to get done and then to listen for the dryer buzzer to sound when the drying cycle is done.  If you arent around when the dryer buzzes in order to promptly fold your clothes then you are going to have to iron them.

 

Without the dryer, when the wash cycle is done it takes a few minutes to hang the clothes.  With the clothes hung properly they wont ever need to be ironed except for your best dress shirts.  You can even skip the folding process if you just want to choose your clothes off of the drying rack.  All the while taking care of your clothes is an easy five minute diversion during the day to listen to music.  Your clothes will also last much longer without using the dryer (and theoretically you are saving some nominal amount on the electricity cost of the dryer. but Im not THAT extreme in my motivations yet).

After my trip to Latvia I spent 2 months in the US.  About 3 days after I returned my dryer broke.  I didnt fix it or replace it.  My quality of life improved.  Now I live in Panama full time and dont have a dryer.  Im better off for it.  Give it a try.

Panamas Push Button Hotels

Some time ago I had the pleasure of riding around with a friend while he took care of his various business duties.  His dad is very wealthy and my friend is in charge of overseeing a number of businesses including a furniture store, some restaurants, and two push button motels.  He works about 18 hours a day 6 days a week with the prize that he will inherit all these assets some day.

We had a meeting one morning after which he was going to give me a ride home and intead asked me if I wanted to do his rounds with him. I had nothing better to do that day so I said OK. In Panama, a push-button is the ultimate motel.  He has one with 48 rooms and owns half of one with what appeared to be 30-something rooms. The concept is as follows:  People want to have sex with people they cheat with or prostitutes.   However, they are afraid of getting caught.  Also sometimes people live in overcrowded houses and dont have the opportunity to have sex at home. So, a push button works like this:  You drive into what appears to be
a big self storage complex, although nicer looking.  All of the garage doors are up and against the back of the wall is an adverstisement for the price of the room and if that room has any sort of theme.  The room tI have attached pictures of is $33 for 2 hours.  Some of the special rooms were $50 for 2.5 hours.  One room had an S&M theme, one a cabaret theme, and they were in the middle of re-doing one to have a 50 shades of grey theme, although most were pretty plain.

So here is how it works so that you dont get caught cheating: You pull into the garage in your car.  The garage door comes down. You push a button and it unlocks the door into the hotel room that is against the back wall of the garage.  There is a mini-bar, bed, some have a bath-tub, etc.  You do your thing.  You can also order room service consisting of various alcohols, cheap food, and also there was a menu of sex toys and such you could buy.   When your time is up you push an intercombutton in the hotel room and they ask you what you had in the minibar or whatever.  You tell them and they tell you the price.  You open up this little cabinet thing that is just like what you put your urine specimen into at the doctors office and leave the money there.  You then go out into the garage and close the door between the garage and the motel room.  Someone from the motel goes into the room from the motel side and checks that you told the truth about what you took from the mini-bar.

 

When she verifies that she tells the front desk which opens the garage door and you leave in your car. The entire transaction takes place without anyone from the motel or any other customer ever seeing your faces. Anyway, my friend claims that of his 48 room push button he  averages 175 or so bookings per 24 hours (it is a 24 hour joint).  From the motel side of it, you wouldnt believe the amount of janitors who were sitting around huge quantities of cleaning supplies waiting for people to get done. When I was there of the 48 rooms it appeared to be only 6-7 closed garage doors, however my friend blamed that on the time of day.  (Or he is misleading about how popular the place is, I dont know). He let me take two pictures of a non-special room: One picture shows the door to the garage, the next one the bed.  Had I been able to point 90 degrees to the right and take a third picture it would have been of a door to enter the motel operations as well as the little cabinet through which money is passed. On of the downsides is that as an all cash business they have heavy security concerns.  He said a few weeks ago they were robbed by a gang of 5 guys and got six days worth of cash receipts due to the manager being lazy and not taking the cash to the bank.  Of course, the suspicion is that therefore it was an inside job. All in all it was quite interesting.

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