Archive for March, 2013

Liberals, Progressives, Democrats, Socialists, Communists, pick your name for them. They all believe in the same incorrect thing:
* the global wealth pie is a fixed amount
* if you have a bigger slice than someone else, you got it through ill means or nefarious deeds
* you are therefore a cheat
* you should be stripped of your wealth and it should be given to everyone else

Of course this is all incorrect on so many levels, and anyone can figure it out by bouncing a few brain cells around.

One thing that I always found amusing is that these so-called Progressives believe that their worldview is better, and that if you just submit to it you will see the light. They absolutely hate it when you tell them that you don’t need them. Case in point, this reminds me of a scene from Hell on Wheels, wherein the railroad magnate, J.P. Durant, and his congressional sycophant, are negotiating with a Cheyenne Indian chief for passage through their lands…

Durant: “Senator Crane has come here to offer your people a better way of life.”

Chief: “Better than what?”

Durant: “Uh… better than what you have.”

Chief: “I like what I have.”

Senator: “I understand that. But your people live in the stone age. We live at the beginning of a great industrial revolution.”

Durant: “Chief, the US government is offering you a piece of land, of your own.”

Chief: “We have our own land.”

Senator: “No. It’s not yours. It’s the US government’s.”

Chief: “Did they buy it?”

Senator: “No…”

Chief: “Did they trade for it?”

Durant: “It’s not like that, we…”

Chief: “Then how can they own it?”

Durant: “If you accept our offer, you won’t have to hunt buffalo anymore, or roam the prairie. You can depend on your country to take care of you.”

Chief: “You are not my country.”

Durant: “We will give you everything you need, if you will just submit to living on a reservation.”

Chief: “We need nothing from you.”

At which point, Durant loses his temper and closes the negotiation. They hate it when you don’t need them, and especially when you tell them directly.

Now this is amusing because the Progressives are always on the side of the “little guy” or the underdog and especially on the side of the Native American. Even I feel sorry for the Native American, especially when watching this clip, but not for the same reasons that the Progressives do. You see, when I watch this, I see the “evil capitalist railroad magnate” as the Progressives, and the Indians as the Capitalists. Change out “great industrial revolution” for “utopia” or “manifest destiny” or “workers paradise.” The actors change but the play remains the same.

Stop trying to force your lofty socialist goals on those who don’t want it, at the expense of our already-decent life. We like what we have. We need nothing from you.

As I am planning a trip to Japan later this year, I am diving into its history, language, and culture to prepare myself for the culture shock I will inevitably receive. As part of my historical bumblings, I came across some fascinating and ominous parallels. Namely, the rule of Tokugawa Iemitsu from 1632-1651. It’s such fascinating stuff that I am still picking through it and writing until 3:30am…

Iemitu

Iemitsu was the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and the third shogun of the dynasty, the one that finally ran its feudal system into the ground. Ieyasu (grandpa) was famous for bringing peace to the warring fiefdoms of the Japanese empire and expanding trade with Europe. Unfortunately, as all sons of empire who inherit peace, Iemitsu could not appreciate that which he never had to fight for, and quickly began to destroy any and all things good. In 1620 he apparently had an argument with his lover at the time, and murdered him in a bathtub which they were sharing. Charming guy, for sure.

Once Iemitsu got into power, he began his reign by ordering his younger brother, Tadanaga, to commit suicide (for the “dishonorable misconduct” of being favored by his mother for the position of Shogun). Then he installed his friends to important posts, followed by all manner of onerous regulations which all citizens had to obey: from laws about fashion to laws about how farmer women had to wash their men’s feet at the end of the day (not just the act, but exactly how, and who and what must be involved in the process, and mandatory attendance of sisters/in-laws and other weirdness). There were taxes on windows and shelves, head taxes on newborn babies, and hole taxes for burying the dead. Rice, one of the currencies of the time, was also taxed.

Perhaps most disturbing about Iemitsu’s daily regulatory decrees is that he quickly learned how people would go to enormous effort to try and curry favor for special treatment under said regulations, in order to regain simple freedoms which they had previously taken for granted. A fact which he openly exploited as a tool to tamper with alliances among the rich and powerful as well as cement loyalties which kept or expanded his power.

Iemitsu established the sankin kōtai, which forced the Daimyo (regional overlords) to spend part of the year in the capital city of Edo and much of the remainder of their time wandering between Edo (now Tokyo) and their home turf, with all of their samurai and functionaries in tow, which effectively neutered them financially and politically, and often bankrupted them. In addition, the wives and children of the Daimyo were forced to live in Edo and could not leave. Overburden the regional leaders with too much regulation and hold their families hostage…

Iemitsu restricted travel. People needed passports just to go from region to region. Their belongings, clothing, and hair were inspected at various checkpoints. These checkpoints demanded that the female travelers be inspected by female agents, which unfortunately were uncommon. No inspection, no passage. Tough for you. Historical accounts from one such female traveler, Inoue Tsujo, who was a famous writer, recall tales of rough and uncomfortable screenings by haggard female inspectors with strange accents. Is all of this stuff starting to sound familiar yet?

How far we have come in 400 years!!!

Getting_Gate_Raped_By_The_TSA

Iemitsu enacted decrees which kept farmers from being able to consume their own produce– it all had to be cleared by a central authority and “properly redistributed.” Sound familiar? It should be no surprise that this sort of behavior brought about famine.

But it doesn’t end there. Farmers feeling the squeeze of too many taxes, too little food, and too much regulation eventually revolted and joined forces with persecuted Christians to form the Shimabara rebellion which burned brightly for a brief period but was then put down with deadly force in the last great battle within Japan. The rebels holed up in a castle and successfully held off the Shogun’s army, but in the end were starved out and then slaughtered.

After that, Iemitsu felt that the only way to keep things “going well” was to shut off all access to outside influences. Clearly it was outside influence that was causing rebellion, and had nothing to do with his asinine policies. He kicked out and/or slaughtered all the Christians, missionaries, and other foreigners, forbade Japanese from leaving the island, forbade any Japanese on foreign soil from returning to Japan, destroyed any seagoing ships that could be used to defect or travel outside of Japan, and closed the island to trade except for extremely regulated contact with the Dutch East India company. Japan’s doors would be slammed shut to the rest of the world for another 200 years.

It might sound like an awful lot to go through to get to this point but keep in mind that Iemitsu managed to do all of this– turning a prospering empire into a stagnant backwater– in just 3 years! After the quelling of the rebellion and the foreign purge he kept his way for another 16 years by ruling with an iron fist.

Step 1: include a seller’s agent who lives the Vivo Sudamericano.

Step 2: watch the disaster unfold

I was shopping for beach property in order to assuage my hunger to be near the sea. Santiago is nice but I’m a water dog and require regular injections of saline in order to stay balanced. The mountains really don’t do anything for me, though the desert’s lack of human habitability I find slightly comforting.

I had found a beach property I quite liked, which was recommended to me by my friend CaliforniaBob (rest in peace) so with my lust for water and his mortality fresh in my head, I decided to pull the trigger and start enjoying it before I too dropped dead unexpectedly. The first time I had been down to see these particular parcels, I was impressed, and after having thought about it briefly, decided to go have another look. The second time I arrived, I went to see the lot I had my eye on.

“Oh, yeah. This one was sold.” said ChamulloBob. Hmm. Well, shit. The properties were being represented both by a local seller’s agent (ChamulloBob) and a partial-local buyer’s agent (a gringo who has been here in Chile for several years). Their deal was that they would split the commission on the sale. Fairly straightforward.

“What else have you got?” I asked.

“These other ones down here, let’s go see,” and so we went to look. As luck would have it, not just another lot, with better elevation and a better view of the bay, but its neighboring lot as well, both available and both for similar prices. After inquiring as to what the sellers were asking for them, I made up my mind. Both were asking some 8.5 million CLP each, which was a steal in my opinion, but my inner Jew had to haggle and see if I could bring the price down some.

“I’ll take them both. 8.5 is OK but see if they will take 8 first.”

And so, I assumed that my simple request would be followed, meaning that they would see if the seller would take 8, and if not, capitulate to their 8.5 asking price. Not rocket science.

And so a week passed and I heard nothing, then I get an email that they would not accept 8 and wanted 8.5. “OK.” Thinking that my simple instructions would be followed. Not rocket science.

Then several days pass and I get a note that one lot has an offer for 9. “Hmmm…” thinks my brain, “These lots have been sitting around for months with no buyers and all of a sudden, when I show interest, the magical mystical offers materialize.” Let me guess, it’s an invisible Argentine, who always manages to outdo my last offer by a little amount. Because that has happened, like, ALWAYS, in every single property negotiation we have done, ever, in South America, of which there have been many, and we’ve been there and done that and called them on it. Then, quickly, those magical Argentines stop coming to the bid table. Amazing!

Do you hear that, Argentina? Your people are being used as an excuse for other South American countries to pull the Vivo on price negotiations!

So I said this to my buyer’s agent, and I think he took it the wrong way and assumed I was accusing him of ripping me off, which was not the case. “I’m going to sit on my hands and watch what happens to this,” I told him, and so became an amused observer with an eye on the prize.

And so a few more days pass, and then we hear that the seller’s agent is selling it for 8.5, not 9, and they sign the papers tomorrow. Which is funny and sad, because that’s what I said I would pay for it. And I really wanted to two adjoining lots, so I’m not really interested in the other one anymore.

So, my INTJ brain ticks through this data and comes to the only calculable conclusion that ChamulloBob was acting as both a buyer’s and seller’s agent in this case, and screwed both me and my buyer’s agent over for the grand reward of a couple hundred bucks. Something about which I also hint to GringoRealtorBob, which I think might have made him more angry, because I haven’t heard back from him.

Then I realize that I did all that daily standing-in-line at a Uruguayan bank (which I know I will do plenty of when I am in Hell) for nothing…

and… “No, you can’t do that.”

I’m on a trip to Uruguay for a week in order to deal with bureaucratic bullshit that absolutely positively cannot be done remotely, like renewing the gun permits for the arsenal. Facetime. Something which I hate doing. 1 week is 1/52 of a year is 2% of a year. 2% of my year wasted dealing with asinine, petty morons in order to maintain that they steal the bare minimum. And this won’t be the only trip, I assure you. Other things are BOUND to come up, guaranteed. There is no such thing as finished business in Uruguay.

The first stop was Banco Republica, which purports to be the hands-off bank, “It’s your money, take it or leave it as much as you please, we care not,” yet fails to live up to the promise. I had a couple of tasks I needed to do: First was to get a second digital-key authentication device so that WifeBob could take care of the bill payments remotely.

“No, you can’t do that. She has to ask for it here in person.”

“Well, what if I then ask you for a second one for myself, as a spare, just in case. As you see, I am sitting here before you,” I offered an alternative.

“No, you can’t do that. You have to order it from the website.”

“So you are telling me that the bank, which issues the devices, cannot issue me the device. As I sit here, right before you, at the bank which issues them.”

Blank stare.

NEXT!

I go to the teller to withdraw some cash for a property purchase I am about to engage in in Chile; every time I have wired money out of the country, it has taken them weeks to get it done despite the fact that they have specific people dedicated to doing bank wires who spend all day doing nothing… a phenomenon which I have literally watched happen, in my own bizarre nature-film experience, like David Attenborough, when I stuck around, curious, and spied.

“No, you can’t do that. You can only withdraw $10,000 per day unless you are at the bank which issued the account.”

“Yes. I am at Banco Republica, right here, right now, as I stand here before you. Is my account not at Banco Republica?”

“Yes, but you can’t do that. You need to be at the specific branch which opened the account.”

“Is this a different company?” I ask.

“No, señor.”

“Is this a strange franchise of Banco Republica which has different rules?”

“No, señor.”

“Well then why does one rule apply here and another in Montevideo, where I don’t want to go, which will take another entire day of my life if I decide to torture myself through it?”

“Sorry, señor, those are the rules.”

“OK, then give me $10,000. And I’ll be back tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that… your rules, not mine. And I’ll have my money anyways, and all you did was make the whole process supremely annoying and inconvenient. Good thing I came here for a week and not just a couple of days.” Bumbling knuckledraggers. Other BROU customers, take note.

So, that brings me to something I realized on the way back to the old bunker… what exactly *does* $10,000.00 look like?

It looks a little something like this:

2013-03-13 17.01.01So, it’s a stack about a centimeter high. Not terribly impressive, considering all the work that went into it.

Something strikes me, and that is: as commonplace as this is to me, most people will never get to see this, let alone hold it in their hands. Many people might work through this severalfold during a year but will never accumulate it. All that work, distilled into this volatile, evaporating paper.

What will 10k buy you?

  • A really crappy new car.
  • A decent used car.
  • Two basic trail horses.
  • 78 cows.
  • A whole set of household furniture.
  • A whole set of household appliances.
  • Food for a couple of years.
  • 6 gold coins.
  • 333 silver coins.
  • A year’s worth of rent payments, maybe.

As you can see, it’s not a whole lot in the big picture.

Yet, this is the amount that most governments in the world will limit you to carrying across an invisible line in the dirt, and, in fact, will take from you if you do not tell them (and they find out about it), and/or throw you in jail for daring to scoff at their rule. This is the limit at which red flags are sent up if you wire as much or more from one place to another. A stack of paper no bigger than a notepad. A single year’s worth of rent can have you put in jail. The price of a pair of horses, or a used car.

Most countries participate in this financial shakedown. And in many, if you announced that you had this small amount with you, you would never make it out of the airport before you found that someone, or several someones, have forcibly traded your money for knives in all of your major organs.

And as if that is not enough, the “know your customer” rules have banks spying on any transaction larger than $3000, and it was even proposed that all transactions greater than $600 require both buyer and seller to file a form with the IRS.Has the world really truly become so petty?

This afternoon I was rear-ended by a car from the Fiscalizacion de Transportes, driven by one of their guys in full uniform, with 3 of his coworkers as passengers, also in uniform. This is funny because it is the equivalent of being rear-ended by the National Transportation Safety Board. It was probably only a few km/h impact, enough to make noise and stain your underwear but not much else. The BobMobile was unhurt, other than a small tear in the spare tire cover, but their hood was buckled and the little face of their car was punched in a few inches.

PlumberBob, who was with me in the car, thought it was hilarious. “You know who those guys are, right?” he asks me.

These are the same guys who, on the front page of their website, have a form for anonymously denouncing bad drivers, “Informanos los malas practicas en el transito,” (translated: Inform us of bad driving practices.)

“Some luck you have, man,” PlumberBob says.

The whole incident reminded me of the time I was rear-ended by the Chicago Police on the Dan Ryan expressway. Another story for another time.

I pulled over to check the damage, and finding none, checked to make sure that the carload of safety-minded individuals was OK. “I’m fine, how ’bout you?”

“No problem,” they say.

“OK, be more careful, eh. And good luck explaining this to your boss. Drive safe!”

cabezal2

RIP Hugo Chavez

Posted: March 6, 2013 in News
Tags: , , ,

Hugo Chavez died last night due to his ongoing problems with cancer. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. Unfortunately, the whole of South America and all of its mob-crazed socialist drama-mourners are out in force. We’ll probably see media clips of Hollywood commie sycophant talking-heads parroting about what a great guy he was. Watch Kristina use it as an opportunity to kick Argentina in the teeth…

Maybe now Venezuela can head back towards some semblance of order and prosperity.

Or… “Why being a Libertarian/Anarchist feels like living in Solitary Confinement.”

I watched the film “Temple Grandin” last night. It wasn’t the first time I had seen it, but it was the first time I had paid attention. It was on TV a while back but I was preoccupied with other things so I could not devote my full attention to it. Also we tuned in halfway through it and I had already mentally put it aside telling myself I would watch it in its entirety some other time; why waste an hour filling my head with incomplete data?

Temple Grandin is an autistic woman who revolutionized the cattle industry, through her unique abilities with pattern recognition and geometry. She also helped quite a bit with autism awareness and knowledge.

Why this is interesting to me, having seen the movie, is that this sheds new light on the way I see people and situations and the environment. I am not autistic, but the way Temple Grandin’s perceptions are presented is *exactly* the way I see things. I have always had an innate talent for pattern recognition, an eidetic memory for all things mechanical and geometric, spelling, language (although I know many rules to bend grammar within acceptable modern standards, and use it liberally), speech accents, and the placement and relationships of things within 3d space; however, I, unlike someone autistic, can gauge other peoples’ emotional signals and function in social situations. Some might disagree with this considering the outcome of some things I’ve done in the past, but that’s not due to my inability to gauge social propriety– it was because someone’s need to be straightened out and/or have their bluff called outweighed my sense of maintaining politeness in a social setting.

I, and others, have called this an “extreme immune reaction to bullshit”

It’s not necessarily a Meyers-Briggs INTJ sort of thing either:

INTJs tend to blame misunderstandings on the limitations of the other party, rather than on their own difficulty in expressing themselves. This tendency may cause the INTJ to dismiss others input too quickly, and to become generally arrogant and elitist.

Nah… it certainly can’t be because I have trouble expressing myself. Therefore it really *is* because everyone else sucks. HA!

I was also blessed with (it might be the same damaged cranial tissue that gives me my analytical superpowers) a fairly sharp knack at solving lateral thinking puzzles and figuring out third options in two-way dilemmas. Even when I was a kid and watched people throw up their hands and say “damned if I do, damned if I don’t,” and give up, I got mad at them because they failed to take action and increase their chances at a nonzero-sum outcome. If either way you see no good outcome, take action anyways!!! WTF, right? Seriously.

It might also be that due to pattern recognition, I can instantly calculate through someone’s moral compass and arrive at a fairly accurate mathematical conclusion regarding whether or not said individual is a douchebag. Which may be why I find all things immoral to be completely revolting and unforgivable. Now your definition of immoral may be something completely different than mine, so please understand that when I say immoral, I use it not in a “Good vs. Evil” Latin context, but in a more Randian analysis: does the act or opinion reflect the core values of the individual– does it match or conflict with this person’s set of beliefs?

For example, this is why I find it so repulsive that bleeding-heart hippies preach about peace and love yet insist that everyone else be (violently) coerced out of their wealth in order to provide that peace and love. Such things are a downward spiral of conflicting morality and therefore unacceptable to me. Hence my continuing discontent with the things that are happening in the world as it heads into altruistic self-destruction and why, if I had to choose a label or “group” to be, it would be anarchocapitalist.

As part of this grand package of brain power, I also have a sort of distrust leading to dislike leading to seething hatred for people who cannot think with my capacity. Which, I admit, can be impolite. It’s something few probably ever consider– can you imagine what it would be like to have half the containment capacity your brainpan currently allows? Can you imagine being half as bright, or having half the problem-solving skills you presently possess?

*Not* thinking? *Not* imagining? *Not* problem-solving?

I can’t. I tried, and I can’t. It’s unfathomable to me: like trying to figure out whether or not there is an afterlife, and whether near-death experiences are a sort of exponential flare of brain activity that will seem like a lifetime of imagination-set-free to your perceptions as the last of the oxygen burns out… What would the opposite be like? What would it feel like to be that dim, thoughtless, unimaginative? The black hole opposite of sentience.

I am kept awake at night running math, geometric, engineering, design, and spacial problems in my head. It’s so loud in there that I often can’t turn it off, and usually don’t want to. When I am not thinking about this stuff, I am dreaming it. No, sir, your product is not good enough. I can make it better. Here’s how…

Solving the problems of the world, in the confines of my brain, 24/7.

This is why I get angry with people who cannot grasp the same things I do, who cannot think through these things like I do. Case in point: today I was an an electronics store looking for shrink-wrap tubing. I didn’t know the name for it in Spanish, but I explained to the clerk that it’s plastic tubing that shrinks when you make it hot, for wiring. He pointed me to a hot-glue gun. “No,” I told him, and explained it again. I know my Spanish was correct. He thought for a second, and then showed me a soldering iron. “No, but you’re getting warmer.” Finally the light turned on in his head, and he found the correct stuff, “retractil.”

Seriously, I have been in places where I literally drew them what I was talking about, with geometric precision. Any idiot could have seen what it was, yet these people scratched their heads and didn’t know what I was looking for, even *after* I looked up the word in a dictionary, told them, and explained that yes, you *must* have it in this store because that is logical and nobody else would have this sort of thing.

…except for shoelaces in a shoestore in Uruguay, which must be against the law or something.

But I digress. The dim behavior of others bothers me a great deal. They may not be capable of being thoughtful or considerate, but it bothers me nonetheless. Perhaps there is more to my bad reaction to loud sounds (especially barking dogs) simply because I consider it inconsiderate.

Or maybe I’m just autistic and haven’t noticed yet…

Haha, consider it inconsiderate. I am probably the only person who finds that word combination funny.

Maybe I *am* autistic… jeez…

I continue to digress… Why would people subject an animal to the stress which would induce it to bark uncontrollably? Maybe they don’t know that their dog behaves this way. But then why wouldn’t other people complain about it? Or why would the dog owner want a dog and profess to love it and care for it, and then not care for it (ie: stress it out by locking it on a balcony)? They can’t possibly not care! Or maybe they really, seriously don’t care, and I am just incapable of imagining the concept of not-noticing because brainlessness is just another paradox that falls into the same zone as the concept of afterlife or existence-of-God or Schrodinger’s cat. This sort of brainless immoral shit falls into my “completely unforgivable” category and really cheeses me off. If you were having dinner with your family and there was a dog barking at you incessantly from a balcony 5 feet away, wouldn’t you go and ask the neighbor what the fuck his problem was? No, people here just tune it out somehow, let assholes be assholes, and then the whole place becomes a hive of unrepentant morons– not on purpose, but simply because there is nobody around to stand up and ask why there is an elephant in the room.

Then there are people who say “mañana” or “semana que viene” or “por supuesto!” and then fail to deliver. Why? Seriously, in a world where you have the ability to sue someone for “loss to your honor,” where is your fucking honor in the first place? A man’s word is his bond, people. Stick to it. Do what you say you are going to do. Follow through. It’s not rocket science and any idiot can accomplish this. Even the people I find deplorably stupid. Maybe this is why I find the whole mañana culture to be vapid and increasingly unworthy of my patronage.

Peoples’ lack of ability to point out elephants (metaphorically, duh) is becoming worse and worse, in my opinion. It seems to me that that is the core thing that is ailing the world. Distilled into a buzz-word which I cannot stand but everyone knows: Political Correctness.

I had a long and interesting conversation during a drive with TennesseeBob, who is a Christian Libertarian type, about just how we handle the treatment of friends and family members who have crossed the line into where we deem “immoral thought process.” Do you forgive them because they are family? I say certainly not, but then family politics plays into life for some people. Then what do you do? You still have to deal with them one way or another should your paths cross. Then make sure your paths don’t cross, or cross the least amount that is possible. It’s a tough call, and one that Harry Browne talked about in his book “How I found freedom in an unfree world” (wow! Look at those used-book prices!!! Testament to the quality of that book) My advice to TennesseeBob was to just minimize his own exposure to them and certainly don’t let the dyed-in-the-wool commie feminazi sister-in-law be near his kids without him present to act as a censor. Although I do not like to practice it, I can respect the Christian “turn the other cheek” philosophy towards forgiveness, because it often is worth eating crow in order to maintain peace (non-zero). However from my standpoint, my other cheek is already bruised and my patience is worn thin. I recently came across a quote I really like: “Two wrongs don’t make a right, but neither does one wrong.” I am starting to wonder if 3 retaliatory wrongs will put the situation back on the course it was heading in before the first wrong occurred… Perhaps I will test the hypothesis.

I’m becoming a SuperVillain.

So how, then, must I deal with insentient people of lesser intellect who enrage and disgust me? As I have found, (being generous) maybe 3/4 of them are dumber than I am and of those that are on-par with me or smarter than I am, maybe 3/4 of those are misguided douchebags with questionable and/or or repellant morals. The statistical returns are diminishing daily and I find it increasing difficult to tolerate people. It’s affecting my personal life and relationships.

And no, for those of you who read this because you hate what I have to say, it’s not a case of “Uruguay was innocent and didn’t deserve my vitriol because the vitriol was always there and always will be,” I have this to say: you are partly correct. The vitriol was always there and always will be; however, Uruguay deserved every bit of turd-slinging and continues to do so. Uruguay taught me a lot about people, how they function (or don’t) in the head, and how immoral they can be, and few of those lessons were good ones.

Yes, I feel increasing rageful bitterness towards people in general, I admit. Maybe that’s just how life is for someone who is unable to forget things, and finds it difficult to forgive per the aforementioned novel-length rant.

Maybe I’ll snap one day, start calling myself Bob, and write an angry blog.

Oh…