Archive for June, 2012

Viagra in Chile

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Humor
Tags: , , ,

It’s called “Lifter.”

Ha!

Lifter lifts!

Pepe Mujica made a speech at the Rio Summit about how he must protect his country from the free market when it needs the free market the most. This is perfect rainy-day material. Thanks to ExFedBob for the link, and thanks to the Wanderlife blog writer for her translation even though I strongly disagree with her opinion on it.

Full speech:

To all of the authorities present here, from every latitude and organization, thank you very much. I want to thank the people of Brazil and Mrs. President, Dilma Rousseff. Thank you all for the good faith undoubtedly expressed by all of the speakers that preceded me.

We hereby express our innermost will as rulers, to adhere to all the agreements our wretched humanity, may chance to subscribe.

Pepe hates humanity and thinks it wretched. This is a fairly common Uruguayan sentiment, accompanied by self-loathing. Too bad. Humanity is wonderful. Just the fact that we are capable of violence and horrible things should not diminish the whole; if we weren’t wonderful we would have extincted ourselves already, despite the governments and psychotic despots of the world trying their hardest.

Notwithstanding, let us take this opportunity to ask some questions out loud. All afternoon long, we have been talking about sustainable development, about rescuing the masses from the claws of poverty.

As if governments are capable of either: taking peoples’ money away while producing nothing of value, and meanwhile blocking their own efforts at self-improvement is not sustainable, nor a way to reduce poverty.

What is it that flutters within our minds? Is it the model of development and consumption, which is shaped after that of affluent societies? I ask this question: what would happen to this planet if the people of India had the same number of cars per family as the Germans?

Cars would be cheap and fuel would be unaffordable. For a time. And then things would equal out in a free market, because (A) someone with the will and the brains would come up with a better alternative than individual car ownership, (B) the masses would seek that alternative to avoid the high prices of fuel, and (C) nobody would be in the way to keep them from transacting. Also, the potential of (D) alternative fuel sources and/or (E) cleaner fuels or cleaner cars, etc. would be made financially viable. Just look at the pollution in the 1960s and 1970s where everything contained lead, including the air. We’ve come a long way since then.

How much oxygen would there be left for us to breathe?

Plenty. It’s the CO2 most morons are concerned with, and that’s not an issue either if you have read any real material on atmospheric science and ice core climate studies.

More clearly: Does the world today have the material elements to enable 7 or 8 billion people to enjoy the same level of consumption and squandering as the most affluent Western societies?

If people were allowed to figure it out on their own I am sure it would. Otherwise it won’t, and 7 or 8 billion people won’t be consuming and “squandering” like affluent western societies. In which case you have nothing to worry about. But you’ve got to look like you have to “do something,” and you think you have to “do something.” Pepe Mujica, savior of the people for chaining them into poverty and limitation.

WIll that ever be possible? Or will we have to start a different type of discussion one day? Because we have created this civilization in which we live: the progeny of the market, of the competition, which has begotten prodigious and explosive material progress. But the market economy has created market societies. And it has given us this globalization, which means being aware of the whole planet.

The market has begotten explosive material progress because it has made things cheap which were previously unaffordable. This is why, now, even people living in plywood and corrugated steel shacks have cel phones and MP3 players. Many of them also have electricity, running water, and television. That’s not poverty. That’s progress. Don’t shit on it.

Are we ruling over globalization or is globalization ruling over us? Is it possible to speak of solidarity and of “being all together” in an economy based on ruthless competition? How far does our fraternity go?

Globalization is not a thing with a will of its own, it is simply there. It is a side effect of human advancement and technology. It is here whether you like it or not; embrace it or be forgotten as an extinct fossil. One thing I believe politicians hate so much about globalization is that it exposes them for the obsolete frauds they are.

I am not saying any of to undermine the importance of this event. On the contrary, the challenge ahead of us is of a colossal magnitude and the great crisis is not an ecological crisis, but rather a political one.

This is probably the only thing in the whole speech that is correct, and makes sense. Yes, it’s a political crisis. You are not wanted or needed anymore. Better figure out something to do, fast!

Today, man does not govern the forces he has unleashed, but rather, it is these forces that govern man;and life.

To which I call BS. You *can* be governed by forces outside of your control, but only if you bend over and take it. You are free to resist or seek alternatives elsewhere. Really. Nothing is stopping you. Except governments.

Because we do not come into this planet simply to develop, just like that, indiscriminately.

Some of us do. And that’s OK. If none of us did, you’d have no iPhone or Internet or Satellite TV. Or microphone, or television, or radio, or heated stadium with podium in which to do your grandstanding.

We come into this planet to be happy.

Some of us do. Some of us do not. And some of us can only be happy if we are not being kept from “indiscriminately developing our planet” under government regulations.

Because life is short and it slips away from us. And no material belonging is worth as much as life, and this is fundamental.

Until your life becomes the material belonging of the government.

But if life is going to slip through my fingers, working and over-working in order to be able to consume more, and the consumer society is the engine-because ultimately, if consumption is paralyzed, the economy stops, and if you stop economy, the ghost of stagnation appears for each one of us, but it is this hyper-consumption that is harming the planet.

How so? I think it’s benefiting us like never before. We can talk freely instantly to anyone in the world either through text or voice. We can strap ourselves into an aluminum tube that flies in the sky and cross oceans in mere hours where before it took months. We can sit in a room in Santiago and operate a business from Timbuktu, managing employees all over the world, conducting commerce at the same time, digitally publishing good material that people want to pay for, and letting the computers do most of the hard work so that we can all take it easy and still make a decent living, spending more time “being happy” as Pepe claims is his goal.

And this hyper-consumption needs to be generated, making things that have a short useful life, in order to sell a lot.

No. I make quality and get paid for quality. You only have to buy cheap things with a short useful life in Uruguay, because nobody can afford any better due to the import taxes, restrictions, and monopolies, and even if they could afford it they cannot get it, because the market is too small and too twisted to make it profitable for importation of high-end items.

Thus, a light bulb cannot last longer than 1000 hours. But there are light bulbs that last 100,000 hours! But these cannot be manufactured, because the problem is the market, because we have to work and we have to sustain a civilization of “use and discard”, and so, we are trapped in a vicious cycle. These are problems of a political nature, which are showing us that it’s time to start fighting for a different culture.

There are light bulbs that last longer than that. Look it up. And they are old models, obviously. Once again I point to my previous paragraph about why Uruguayans are forced into cheap disposable merchandise.

I’m not talking about returning to the days of the caveman, or erecting a “monument to backwardness.”

Yes, you are. You force your own people to build, farm, and conduct business with ancient machinery and hand tools no more advanced than shovels, hammers, and pick axes. This is why there are no huge works projects in Uruguay, because they simply cannot be done on an affordable scale with tools from the 1800s.

But we cannot continue like this, indefinitely, being ruled by the market, on the contrary, we have to rule over the market.

Good luck with that. The market doesn’t care; you mean nothing to it. You will be left in the dust wishing you had let it snatch you up in its current.

This is why I say, in my humble way of thinking, that the problem we are facing is political. The old thinkers. Epicurus, Seneca and even the Aymara put it this way, a poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more.” This is a cultural issue.

What about the old thinkers like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, whom you are channeling? This is political. No, it’s cultural. Which is it?

So I salute the efforts and agreements being made. And I will adhere to them, as a ruler. I know some things I’m saying are not easy to digest. But we must realize that the water crisis and the aggression to the environment is not the cause. The cause is the model of civilization that we have created. And the thing we have to re-examine is our way of life.

So because of socialism keeping people stuck using old stuff that pollutes, we need fix this by clamping down on them to ensure that they continue to use these old dirty methods of doing things, or worse. That will surely fix things!

I belong to a small country well endowed with natural resources for life. In my country, there are a bit more than 3 million people. But there are about 13 million cows, some of the best in the world. And about 8 or 10 million excellent sheep. My country is an exporter of food, dairy, meat. It is a low-relief plain and almost 90% of the land is fertile.

How quaint. It could be the exporter of lots of other things too, leading to lack of poverty, if you and your Frente Amplio fascist thugs quit stomping out personal endeavor wherever they saw it.

My fellow workers, fought hard for the 8 hour workday. And now they are making that 6 hours. But the person who works 6 hours, gets two jobs, therefore, he works longer than before.

Too bad they can’t fight against poverty by working as much as they feel like in order to determine, on their own, what sort of life they want to live.

But why? Because he needs to make monthly payments for: the motorcycle, the car, more and more payments, and when he’s done with that, he realizes he is a rheumatic old man, like me, and his life is already over.

So let’s take all that away from him, so he doesn’t feel “poor.”

And one asks this question: is this the fate of human life? These things I say are very basic: development cannot go against happiness.

Development brings happiness, or at least makes it more attainable and more likely. Unless you are a fearful, xenophobic communofascist. Or a murderous terrorist.

The opposite of development is: decline, decrease, stoppage, block, failure, impediment, recession, stagnation, abridgement, compression, condensation, contraction, decrease, lessening, shortening. Is that what you want? You already have a lot of that in Uruguay.

It has to work in favor of human happiness, of love on Earth, human relationships, caring for children, having friends, having our basic needs covered. Precisely because this is the most precious treasure we have; happiness. When we fight for the environment, we must remember that the first element of the environment is called human happiness.

So are you fighting for or against development now? Or for happiness, or for friends, or for basic needs, or for the environment, or for happiness again? If you are so obsessed with human happiness, take a good look at the world around you and see: what is the most common thing that puts people closest to happiness? Leaving them alone to pursue it as they see fit.

The Penguin, er, President.

This is from Two Years Before the Mast, written in 1840, regarding the Californians and the oddness experienced there by sailors, and why. It was Spanish territory then, with Spanish laws, Spanish taxes, etc. It speaks very much insight into why Uruguay is such a bizarre place, because Uruguay still carries these ways of doing things…

“The Californians are an idle, thriftless people, and can make nothing for themselves. The country abounds in grapes, yet they buy bad wines made in Boston and brought round by us, at an immense price, and retail it among themselves at a real (12½ cents) by the small wine-glass. Their hides, too, which they value at two dollars in money, they give for something which costs seventy-five cents in Boston; and buy shoes (like as not, made of their own hides, and which have been carried twice around Cape Horn) at three or four dollars, and “chicken-skin” boots at fifteen dollars apiece. Things sell, on an average, at an advance of nearly three hundred per cent upon the Boston prices. This is partly owing to the heavy duties which the government, in their wisdom, with the intent, no doubt, of keeping the silver in the country, has laid upon imports. These duties, and the enormous expenses of so long a voyage; keep all merchants, but those of heavy capital, from engaging in the trade.”

And his comments on the men of Juan Fernandez:

“The men appeared to be the laziest people upon the face of the earth; and indeed, as far as my observation goes, there are no people to whom the newly invented Yankee word of “loafer” is more applicable than to the Spanish Americans.”

“These men stood about doing nothing, with their cloaks, little better in texture than an Indian’s blanket, but of rich colors, thrown over their shoulders with an air which it is said that a Spanish beggar can always give to his rags; and with great politeness and courtesy in their address, though with holes in their shoes and without a sou in their pockets. The only interruption to the monotony of their day seemed to be when a gust of wind drew round between the mountains and blew off the boughs which they had placed for roofs to their houses, and gave them a few minutes’ occupation in running about after them. One of these gusts occurred while we were ashore, and afforded us no little amusement at seeing the men look round, and if they found that their roofs had stood, conclude that they might stand too, while those who saw theirs blown off, after uttering a few Spanish oaths, gathered their cloaks over their shoulders, and started off after them. However, they were not gone long, but soon returned to their habitual occupation of doing nothing.”

We went to see the football game at Flannery’s today but it was standing-room-only so we opted to skip it, and instead met with DiverBob who is in visiting, and hit some of the other Santiago watering holes. We tried out the gringo stronghold of Cantina California, which had Amurkin-sized portions of just about anything and burritos as big as your head. Flavorwise not so great, but we are spoiled by MexicanBob’s cooking in that regard.

Do you hear that, MexicanBob? There is no fantastic Mexican food in Santiago. Maybe demand for your services. Give these people some flavor whoopass.

After gorging ourselves on 5000-calorie plates of wings, burgers, burritos, and washing it down with a couple pitchers of sangria, we heaved our obese selves down to Choperia Row near Baquedano, to check out if a drink can be had on a Sunday evening. Sure enough the place was still buzzing, despite the sun being gone and the temperature dropping rapidly.

Cold usually sends WifeBob into a state of constant whining and hypochondria but here she seems to be blossoming in happiness. There are things to do and she doesn’t need to harass me for constant sensory stimuli. I also don’t have to punch her in the teeth as often to straighten her bitch ass out.

It’s the middle of winter and it’s not bad here. The temperatures in the daytime are still decent. The cold weather doesn’t keep people inside. To the contrary, folks go out in the rain here, and in the cold.

Choperia Row (calle Pio Nono) is a street of bars and discos and live music venues, basically a place where college kids, yuppies, hippies, and bikers can each find their own hangout and drink and have fun. Commerce. People hustling for your business. Capitalism. Each and every nook and cranny is a place of business.

In contrast, the same sort of spaces exist in Montevideo but despite the large amount of tourists, such places remain shuttered. The simple explanation there is that (a) you can’t hire anyone reliable, (b) you can’t get anyone to supply you with beer, (c) you can’t make your own beer, and (d) you can’t make a profit doing it because (e) nobody in the right demographic has any money, because (f) the Uruguayan government hates commerce, punishes activity of any sort, and the people are so indoctrinated in this system of hateful communism that they act as voluntary agents of repression.

We read material from other expats-to-Chile complaining of this and that mental retardation, and while we have seen little evidences of it here and there, they pale in comparison to the extreme nature of what we had to cope with in Uruguay.  For the most part Uruguay has prepared us to cope with it by being the worst possible example in existence. Oh no, you have to wait a few days for this paper, or spend 3 whole hours in a government office to get this thing done.

Try days, or months, or in many cases, years (or never, as is the case with most residency cases in Uruguay these days).

The complaints of government idiocy in Chile seem like first-world problems compared to what we suffered in Uruguay. I guess that in order to taste the sweet you have to also have tasted the bitter.

So why are we strangely happy in Santiago? DiverBob and the ExpatBobs discussed it over food and drinks at several venues. It’s hard to explain. We just are. A brighter future of being able to get things done? People who look you in the eye? Movement? Color? Ambition?

There’s an energy to the place. A positive energy. Chilenos tend to stick around, because they have opportunity here. The 22-50 demographic still exists. They don’t have to leave the country in order to earn a living.

Uruguay has a slow, soul-sucking sort of energy that saps the strength and resolve of even the most resolute and angry go-getter. You don’t notice it at first but it eventually works its way through you and turns you into a hateful, dark, evil person. You give up. You capitulate. You compromise. Or you leave.

Life should not be compromises. Either you get what you want or you keep walking. Relationships, jobs, transactions, none of them should be compromises. Anyone who thinks or tells you otherwise is full of shit. Yes, sometimes you need to eat shit but you should not have to change yourself to cope. Not for your lover, not for your boss, not for your standards. If you find that a place doesn’t suit you, it’s not your fault; it’s the fault of the place. Either find another place, or make your own place if it doesn’t exist. We tried this, as a final last-ditch attempt to find happiness in Uruguay; we fought tooth and nail. And it didn’t happen. It can’t happen. Uruguay doesn’t want your money. Uruguayans hate money. Because of their culture, they feel that it is a filthy burden laden with guilt.

And so we find ourselves in a new place where we seem to get along nicely, and which seems to get along nicely with us.

Not to be confused with Potato Chinky, which would be appropriate for the Asia Market where we saw these. Or Potato Niggy…

Suggested competing or side-market product names: Potato Wetbacky or Potato Beanery?

Finding more value in Chile

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Life, Travel
Tags: , ,

Today we went to meet the seller of a voltage transformer I found on MercadoLibre. We had agreed to meet at the “Cambio Anden” at the Principe Gales subway station. So I get there and look around in the station for this casa de cambio, but there is none. So we go up and outside, and no cambio. Apparently the crossbridge in the station is called the cambio anden, and here I was thinking it was the name of a currency exchange located in or near the terminal. Stupid gringo. After a few phone calls we figured it out and met the guy and bought his transformer.

Then, outside the station, in the crappy rain we found a nice farmers market/feria going on.

Giant, perfect white cauliflower the size of soccer balls for PC$300 (US$0.60)! A big difference from the sad, small, mildewed, overpriced ones from Uruguay. We know cauliflower is not tough to grow, since we have it in our garden. It’s hard to kill.

I saw the biggest celery I have ever seen. Awesome deals elsewhere. A large variety of eggs of different sizes, styles, and qualities. We found our huevos del campo, and they were expensive but no more pricy than buying free-range eggs in the US. Also picked up some giant eggs to give them a try.

I really need a better camera.

Never fear, WaterBob is here!

Posted: June 20, 2012 in News
Tags: ,

WaterBob is here!

For those of you who like fashion tinfoil headwear.