Archive for February, 2013

Another hiking trip this weekend, turned into a standard South American experience through the forces of South America and South Americans…

We headed in the general direction of Rio Clarillo national reserve, with the intent to hike a few kilometers of its trails and get out of the city. As we got through the dumpy neighborhood that is Puente Alto and crossed into Pirque, things were looking up. Pirque is quite obviously better cared for, maybe as a result of the presence of the Concha y Toro winery. Greener, cleaner, nicer in all respects.

After getting lost a couple of times and having to change the maps on the GPS, finally giving up on GPS and now relying on 50 different versions of bad instructions given to us by the locals, we thought we were headed in the right direction. The signage was South America Standard (ie: poor to nonexistent) which surprised us as this is a national nature reserve– one would think there would be signs pointing how to get there.

We were repeatedly lost in the surrounding area on back roads which were suspiciously booming with little empanada shops around every turn. Suddenly I was reminded of tales of piracy and shipwreckers who would post fires on the shores of shallow banks to confuse ships’ navigators, so as to try and wreck boats in the hopes of salvaging their cargoes. Or tire shops throwing nails in the road a few blocks in either direction. Perhaps the locals have removed all signage in the hopes that folks would get there and get lost, because those empanadas started sounding pretty damned good…

After about an hour of wandering we finally found the entrance to the park, and…

CERRADO! (closed)

Too many people, says the guard. Today is the last day of official Chilean holidays, all the kids go back to school tomorrow, and the park is overrun with people, so we’re not admitting any more.

Which sucks, because we were looking foward to hiking. Oh well. Fortunately I had brought my Lonely Planet guidebook which recommended a restaurant in the area (no patronizing these Empanada Pirates!) called La Vaquita Echa. It was, like the Lost Park, in the GPS, but we actually got accurate directions and got there without problems. It turned out to be an excellent restaurant, and while the Chuletas de Jabali were a bit small in my opinion, they were delicious, and the dessert of caramelized apple pancake with ice cream was awesome. It had a nice outdoor-dining vibe with a nice view of the surrounding fields and mountains.

I was a little bummed that I had to be the designated driver; Chile has a new zero-tolerance law regarding drinking and driving. If they detect any alcohol on you, away goes your license. No wine for me, nor Vaquita’s homemade beer which sounded very interesting.

After that, we headed back through town to try and get home before the mad traffic rush of last-minute weekend returnees.

 

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As I said a week or so ago when thieves relieved me of my car’s toolbox and sundry items, I was playing with turning a Raspberry Pi computer into a security camera. Well, I succeeded. With help from this link, I was able to get it up and running, and recording, with a cheap $6 webcam.

Now I understand the fascinating power which has intoxicated the US and Britain. It’s a strange sort of power-trip you get knowing that you’ve got everything on record wherever you point the camera, with the capacity to record it all and keep it on hand at nearly zero cost, and it will just sit there like a good robot, recording whenever something moves, without the need for supervision.

A friend of mine relayed a story to me about a neighbor in his building in Montevideo who was going home and was followed into the building by a couple of “pasta base types.” (ie: crack-heads)

Said crack-heads had been hassling him for a while and the harrassment had been escalating.

They followed him up to his apartment and after he was safely inside, they started pounding on the door and demanding money.

Naturally, said neighbor called the police. The police responded by telling him, “Give them 300 pesos and they will go away.”

Let that one simmer.

“No big deal with inflation, I grew up in a country with 70%/80% inflation” ~Pepe Mujica

As it is often said, when Argentina gets sick, Uruguay catches a cold. It’s become quite evident over the past couple of years as Uruguay has suffered from Argentina’s inflation.

Not to worry, though, because the Supermen of Central Planning (TM) are on their way to fix it.

““There’s no big deal with inflation, it can be reined in and we are going to fix it. I grew up in a country with 70% and 80% inflation,” says Pepito. This statement lends yet more evidence to the fact that he was not “of the poor and for the poor” as the character he has invented for himself portrays. Inflation hits the poor the worst. I have often wondered how Uruguayans can afford to feed themselves, and the situation is getting worse for them through inflation.

According the the Supermen of Central Planning: Gabriel Frugoni, Jeronimo Roca, and Pedro Buonomo (from the Planning and Budget Office) say that “the main challenge for the Uruguayan economy is “competitiveness” because of the depreciation of the US dollar and strength of the Uruguayan Peso and its impact on non commodity exports with added value.”

Some solutions to this problem might be: reduce import taxes, simplify import/export procedures, and eliminate import monopolies.

The official solution: “drastic cuts in outlays or an increase in taxes” according to Andres Masoller, head of the Macroeconomic Department at the Ministerio de Economia y Finanzas, after declaring Uruguay’s fiscal situation to be “delicate.” 24 hours later he recanted, denying that any form of adjustment is necessary to constrain Uruguay’s growing budget outlays, explaining that “this does not imply a serious situation,” despite an 8.7% official (ie: low estimate) inflation rate and a budget deficit which looms over their heads as 2.8% of their GDP.

That’s in addition to a system with 60% import duty, 22% VAT, BPS, wealth taxes, land taxes, city taxes, and other miscellany which pretty much guarantees that 100% of every peso spent in Uruguay is eaten up by the government.

Another offered solution: higher taxes on companies’ profits and luxury goods. As if businesses in Uruguay can even make a profit if they follow the law to the letter. And luxury goods? EVERYTHING is a luxury good in Uruguay because nothing is made there beyond sad matchstick furniture and leaky-roof housing.

And the icing on the cake: “to keep advancing in wealth distribution” because that will certainly bring money and competitiveness to Uruguay. Because clearly it worked great for Lenin, Stalin, Adolf, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and the rest of the Crazy Brigade.

So long, Uruguay.

You can read more about this stuff here.

Argentina has another nail in its coffin. Price controls in all supermarkets, to be active for 2 months. How much you bet that store shelves start looking empty within a week or two? Or less?

We remind the reader that price controls have never worked. Ever. Throughout all known history. Simply because they are incompatible with simple mathematical and physical reality. And each and every time they have been tried, they end up in shortages. Look no further for a recent example than the glorious Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela to see how this plays out.

“This time will be different!” they think. Well, they can’t really get honest information anymore because they tend to arrest those who tell the truth about how printing too much money results in the loss of value and credibility.

I’ve gone past the point where I wonder if they really believe that they are doing the right thing, and now it’s clear that they know they are destroying their country, and don’t care. And the Argentine people will cart Kristina through the streets in her golden chariot, cheering as she brings the whole place down on their heads.

Read more here.

Also interesting commentary on ZeroHedge, here.

Thanks to SustainableBob for the heads-up.

I been robbed

Posted: February 4, 2013 in Life, Stupidity
Tags: , , , ,

Today I left the BobMobile in the street in front of the apartment building to unload some things I had just bought for the house (namely a fan, because it’s hotter than hell right now). I forgot to lock the doors. In the time it took me to unload, get a cold drink, and relax for a few minutes before I took the car back to the parking compound, some motherfucker stole the toolbox, the jumpstart battery, and the tire inflator from the back hatch storage area. Right outside, right under our windows. Lame.

They must have been staking out the street.

I’m not out much, because the stuff belonged to the guy who sold me the car and he threw it in extra. It’s probably less than $100 worth of stuff. However, it’s still stuff that needs to be replaced, and I am angry and disappointed. I’m playing around now with setting up a Raspberry Pi computer as a security-camera station.