2012/07/01 § Leave a comment
Talking of age. In Miami you are either attractive and young, or rich. Some seem to be attractive and rich, but nobody likes them.
One thing for sure, showing off is compulsory here.
I like it thus far. The beaches are pretty; the boobs are fake, and the weather not too warm. I went to Key Biscayne, a place most tourist will never be confronted with. But locals love it. I really liked it too. There is a lighthouse and nice beaches where you will find families with kids rather than wannabe pornstars and pretend-pimps.
Other than that Miami south beach apparently is the party place of the US. And if this party has a location than it is the hostel in which I reside. The location has a party-centre of course. My bed stands precisely one floor above it. Right above this epicenter of fun, whimsy dresses and far too loud club music. Yeah, talking of age.
2012/07/01 § Leave a comment
The business part of my USA trip ended on Friday eve. I went to the airport in Atlanta in order to catch a flight to Florida. I made sure to get to the airport early, which was a wise decision, considering that I ended up in thick traffic and security checks in the US are notoriously thorough and slow. Luckily my flight was delayed by 3 hours. When we finally arrive, close to midnight already, the shuttle bus to the car rental company was unreachable but eventually picked us up. Fair enough, it was late and sure not much going on any more. Well, actually 6 people were waiting before me to get their car. It took forever- at least I got an upgrade as compensation. Apparently the staff was half asleep already, which may explain why they handed me a broken navigation system.
I noticed that when it suddenly just shut off without ever turning on again. With a little luck I found my hostel. It was already well past 1 at this point. Fortunately I had booked a single room, so the deserved rest was in reach. Yeah, right.
The guy behind the counter sent me off to another building some 15 minutes drive away. Great of him to give me the wrong building number, hence I had to go back again. He then gave me a new address. However, I could not get into the building with the key he had given me. You must love the widespread inefficiency in the US and the abundant disinterested staff: No wait, you don’t.
However, the room was run down, dirty, the door looked as if someone had previously broken in, the building reeked of mold, the taps were dripping, and the atmosphere resembled hotel California, although this is Florida: You can check in but you can never leave. So off I went, back again. This time I was not in the mood to argue about the conditions. I had made up my mind. But since it was past 3 in the morning I agreed to stay in a hostel room instead. A great start of my holidays that were supposed to relax me.
After discussing with the manager I received my money back for last night and I decided to stay in the dorm room. I won’t be in much anyhow and I am so used to this, it does not matter at all. Besides, this way I can at least meet some nice people. Although they are half my age.
2009/05/14 § Leave a comment
Tomorrow I have to leave Montreal behind and move on to the US. I am not sure if I will make it over the border with all my stuff. I am carrying two cigars from Cuba with me. Cuban stuff, and especially cigars are illegal in the USA (remember? The Bay of pigs, CIA, communism, USSR, missile crisis, Kennedy, embargo, etc?).That’s right, illegal. Pathetic I know and I still hope they don’t look for them. If they do and find them they will destroy them. Obviously promising to them that you won’t smoke them does not help. Transit or not, the cigars must die.
Now, I am surprised there is nothing in place in order to allow you to transit them stupid cigars to Europe. But their concern, as one officer told a journalist (not from the US) who got into the situation of being caught at the customs, is that a US citizen could smoke them. Aaaalright. No more questions your honor…
PS. The cigars are Cohiba, the cliche brand of Cuban cigars. And honestly, I preferred the flavor of the cigars I had bought on a farm straight from the farmer who grew the tobacco, treated and rolled it.
2009/04/16 § 4 Comments
#1 Americans boast about their wealth, but the US is not the wealthiest nation, as many seem to believe . It is annoying if people brag about something that is not even true. Obviously you must look at wealth per capita, when doing so, the following nations are richer than the USA: Luxembourg, Qatar, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Austria, Australia, Belgium, France, Canada, only then follows the United States almost on par with Germany. Hope that does not shake your self-esteem too much…
#2 Along these lines: you often hear Americans brag about their generosity when it comes to giving foreign aid. But in reality the US is one of the nations who give least, when compared to other industrial nation!
“[Americans] are regularly told by politicians and the media, that America is the world’s most generous nation. This is one of the most conventional pieces of ‘knowledgeable ignorance’. According to the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US gave between $6 and $15 billion in foreign aid in the period between 1995 and 1999. In absolute terms, Japan gives more than the US, between $9 and $15 billion in the same period. But the absolute figures are less significant than the proportion of gross domestic product (GDP, or national wealth) that a country devotes to foreign aid. On that league table, the US ranks twenty-second of the 22 most developed nations. As former President Jimmy Carter commented: ‘We are the stingiest nation of all’. Denmark is top of the table, giving 1.01% of GDP, while the US manages just 0.1%. The United Nations has long established the target of 0.7% GDP for development assistance, although only four countries actually achieve this: Denmark, 1.01%; Norway, 0.91%; the Netherlands, 0.79%; Sweden, 0.7%. Apart from being the least generous nation, the US is highly selective in who receives its aid. Over 50% of its aid budget is spent on middle-income countries in the Middle East, with Israel being the recipient of the largest single share” [2, 3]
#3 The US are an intolerant nation. If you are an atheist in the US you are in trouble . A minority of Americans would vote for a president who is atheist. That despite the fact that atheist commit less crime [5, 6] and are the “smarter fraction” of the population  as many studies have shown!
#4 Americans have a notoriously bad attitude towards international institutions. In numbers this is best expressed by the huge amount of money that the US owe the UN. Despite many Americans believing that their nation finances the UN heavily the truth is that they never pay what they are supposed to. The current debt of the US towards the UN is more than one billion US$! 
#5 One of the main reasons for hating the USA of course is that they interfere with nations’ internal business often ignoring international laws and going against UN resolutions. Examples include the Vietnam war, where the US even invented an attack on their ships that never actually happened , in order to justify their attack on Vietnam! Outrageous! Naturally some feel that the US got what they deserved in that war.
Other examples include Nicaragua, where Reagan even violated the US constitution in order to wage war , Panama  and Iraq, where close to 100,000 civilians have been killed to date due to the US invasion, probably already as many as have been killed by Sadam Hussein! Or take the illegal war on Serbia  where the US yet once more went against international law. And so on, and so on, and so on…
#6 While the decadence and negative cultural influence of Hollywood and its products can be a matter of argument, their tendency to fake even historical facts in order to make the US look good can not. One of the most preposterous examples can be found in the movie “Enigma”. The movie tells a story based on historical facts but does it in such a way as to give the US credit where it actually belongs to the British . I guess the US’ actual achievements are so poor that they even have to invent them. The problem with this is that the poorly educated and dumbed down US public is likely going to believe these inaccurate movies. Making them yet once more proud of a nation for reasons that actually do not even exist, instead of- as we would expect- for once being humble in the face of the plenitude of their failures!
2)”Why do people hate America?” by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, 2002. p79
2008/12/01 § 2 Comments
Thanks to megalomaniac plastic Xmas trees it is hard to miss that Christmas is approaching. While shopping for their presents the day after all-you-can-eat-day or thanksgiving one shopkeeper was killed by the storming masses , at a Walmart . At a toy store somewhere in California two people shot each other dead. Consumption, that much is clear, is a main pastime that is being taken more than dead serious.
I am amazed and jealous of the careless, or one is tempted to say, brainless shopping frenzy people indulge in seemingly constantly. People love their stuff. And I could not put it better, than this American chick the other day, at my hostel, after someone had looked through her things to check if there was some steal-able stuff in there; “It is my stuff. And, I mean- you just don´t touch peoples stuff. I mean, if its people´s stuff, you leave it alone- riiiight? You gotta respect people´s stuff! I don´t get how someone could just touch my stuff!”. Yapp.
Now, people here have a lot of stuff and big stuff and they do care a great deal about every single bit of it. The news are weired to me because they do seem to mistake “gossip” and lifestyle advice for news. The recent massacre in India merely made it through all the end-of-the-year-celebrations consumption frenzy. However, the news report to you how to save money when buying presents, how to buy the right presents (the “hip ones”, ie. What everyone else buys) and the drama that unfolds this year due to the global financial crisis, which is that people consume less.
And admittedly, how would you not just concentrate on consumption in the USA? There is not much else to do, and stuff is sooo cheap! I went crazy and got myself some stuff the other day!
I am a bit sad though, for Americans because they seem not to have noticed that in the long run endless consumption is not sustainable. We will see how long it will last. Maybe the financial crisis is the beginning of the end? Too bad for all the Asians and Latinos who now stream into the country. They may come for the leftovers. But hey, as long as it lasts, let no one stand in the way of you and your stuff!
2008/11/25 § 1 Comment
Visiting the USA certainly can have that eerie feeling of familiarity. I feel like caught in some cliché movie, watching the bums in the streets (man, there are so may of them!), listening to the sound of urgency of passing ambulances and the cops in the streets, and the shopping malls
Naturally one of my first objectives was to inhale some American culture. So my first day was spend at malls (still looking for a damn cable for my damn Panasonic razor- I gave up and bought a new one). Then I had some typical American burrito, and everything they say about the US is true- everything is bigger in the US (and the coffee is thinner). They use a flour tortilla that has the size of those little carpets that some people put in front of their toilet. They then fill it with beans equivalent to a quarter of a month harvest. After adding the meat of a little herd of cows and the cheese production of a small central European nation the whole thing is wrapped up. And they throw in some nachos just in case it would not fill you up.
One thing though is not true, it is not as cheap here as I expected from reports. But then again, I come from India where the money I paid for the burrito would have fed me for a week or so. I topped off my culinary tour de Frisco with a real American pepperoni pizza pie and later on a double cheeseburger with triple bacon from Jack in the box. It took me a day to gain three kilos I believe. It all makes sense, why the US has the biggest of problem with type 2 diabetes and obesity.
That first night I went to bed around midnight and was proud I survived that long. In the end you do not want to wake up in the middle of the night due to jet lag. But far from it I woke up fourteen (14) hours later. I could not believe what had just happened. Man was I battered. This is the short explanation why I have not done any sightseeing. Probably today, as I woke up after just some six hours of sleep this night. Worst jet lag ever…
Gotta go, on TV they are broadcasting some military thingy where Bush speaks live. The fact alone makes me laugh- live! Enjoy him as long as he lasts, soon we have to listen to a boring and eloquent celebrity president. 😉
2008/03/01 § 2 Comments
Warren Jeffs, a religios nutcase, has been charged with rape. He likes to have multiple women and encourages or even enforces multiple marriages of others and preaches against internet, TV and other sources of information (1).
At the same time in Sweden, 50% of all Swedes think that veils in school might be forbidden and almost 70% of all Swedes believe that there is no way to integrate “certain” groups of immigrants into Swedish society (2).
Interestingly, the American Atheists reported this week online, that Sweden is the most secularised nation on the face of the earth (3), Heja Sverige!!
In the discussion going on on the Swedish website that reported the survey, someone points to freedom of religion in order to say that we must accept veils in schools and other public places.
But where to draw the line?
Freedom of religion; does it allow nut-Jeff to have as many women as he pleases? Or does it allow parents to keep their children from life-saving medical treatment for religious reasons (Jehovah’s Witnesses).
I think not. And I do not think that religious people should have any MORE rights than the not religious thinking individuals.
When the concept of freedom of religion was developed it has been done so in the spirit of tolerance and acceptance. Sadly, nowadays it is the religious fundametalists from Bin Ladin to George Bush Jr. who put this planet in a painfull position.
It is time for the atheists to stand up and put an end to the insanity. Religious groups have proven to all of us that they cannot contain the fundamentalism amongst their followers. As we would do with any political group we have to restrict their rights, in individual cases even withdraw the acceptance as a religious organisation.
In which case they lose their rights to execute whatever crazy behaviour they want to have protected under a religious umbrella.
Meanwhile we do not have to accept intrusion into our secular freedom. We do not have to accept people to take freedom for religion in public spaces. Prayers, dress codes and religious symbols belong into the private spheres, not public.
Religion must become a private pastime. Religion can be as annoying and at times as dangerous to ones health as passive smoking- which now starts to be the reason for smoking to be outlawed.
We had it – and we demand our freedom now. Our freedom is the freedom from religion. We have a right for that in the 21st century.
Let’s make the world a secular and enlightened place- finally!
PS. check nice links to atheist/bright/humanists on my webpage