Thoughts

On lockdowns

As more lockdowns are enforced in various countries all around the world, I thought I’d lay down my mixed feelings about them.

I realize they destroy small businesses and they obliterate the hospitality industry. We own a small business. Thankfully my wife and I set it up from the get-go so we could run it from home, therefore we weren’t so badly affected. We still lost money though. Also, during late 2019 and for most of 2020, we were part of the hospitality industry, because we opened a small pension in a Saxon parochial house, on an historic property adjoining a Saxon fortified church where we were taking care of the buildings through our NGO. Obviously, we lost a lot of money on that venture. Lots for us, so much so that we had to cut our losses and move on. Operating a pension during a worldwide pandemic is not a profitable business model.

I get it. My bank account gets it. Every time I have to print out a form, as we do here in Romania, sign it and stamp it with our company’s or our NGO’s official stamp just so I can leave my home, it gets tiresome and infuriating.

However, as you’ve read here on my site, time and time again, I welcome the quiet and the peace that sets over cities, towns and villages when there’s a lockdown, and that’s because:

  • I cannot stand loud noises. I can stand purposeful noise, such as construction noise, or the noise of diligent work, but idiotic or unnecessary noises, particularly loud music, parties, yelling or loud voices, banging, etc., they really set me off. I don’t know if you’ve ever been so mad that you’ve seen red, that you were ready to jump on someone and rip them apart with your bare hands, but that’s how I get when there are loud noises.
  • I cannot stand crowds. I find them suffocating. I find the invasion of my personal space by other bodies, voices, looks, body odors, to be repulsive. I can’t help it. I like people, but I have my limits. I enjoy being with friends, every once in a while, I enjoy seeing acquaintances on the street and having a short chat with them, every once in a while, but to find myself surrounded by a sea of people when I go into town is unbearable. Having to dodge and weave my way through a crowd just to run a simple chore is insanity. Different strokes for different folks I guess… I enjoy seeing happy, peaceful people at work, playing with their children, living their lives. I don’t enjoy crowds and their inherent chaos. I like to see order and ordered, purposeful movement. So you can well imagine that lockdowns, which do away with crowds almost completely, are a welcome respite from a loud, crowded, chaotic world.
  • I welcomed the change of pace that accompanied the lockdowns this year. It was nice to slow down and take time for personal reflection, for rest, for reading, for one’s spouse and child. That was a truly wonderful benefit, an unexpected present from a horrible situation.

A case in point: one of the villages near my town, where we are doing maintenance and restoration work on another Saxon fortified church and parochial house, is a gorgeous place. It’s got beautiful nature, wonderful rolling hills, healthy forests, clean, crisp air, fertile ground, good water, etc. It’s the kind of place where you’d want to live and grow old — except there are a few shitheads that completely ruin the place. They throw drunken parties, they put loudspeakers in their yards and blast loud music that can be heard up and down the main road of the village, and if you try to reason with them, they make threats, they intimidate, trespass and sometimes assault people. The village police have offered no permanent solution to the problem, because they’re more interested in maintaining good relations with everyone than punishing those who are guilty to the full extent of the law. It doesn’t even matter that plenty of other villagers complain about them, the police still do nothing. So a village that could be heavenly turns out to be unbearable, just because of a few rotten apples. When I go there to do repairs or maintenance work on the historic buildings and there’s loud music in the village, I have to make a decision: do I call the police, in which case I am going to get threats later on and as soon as the police leave, the music will probably get turned on again, or do I just go home and come another day… It is exactly because of situations like this (and there are plenty of them everywhere, even in our town) that I welcome lockdowns, because it forces the shitheads to be quieter. It doesn’t quiet them completely, but things are better. I realize liking a lockdown just because it makes a few shitheads quiet for a while is like using a machine gun to cut the grass, but there you have it.

Let’s talk about how these lockdowns affect the world, because that’s the important stuff. Remember how I talked about the pandemic being an agent for change? I can see the changes taking place and they’re not pretty.

I see the ultra-wealthy drooling because they’re making tons of money during this pandemic, including during the lockdowns. While decent folks are losing money left and right, these grievously greedy grubbers have already made a ton and they stand to make much more. I see how entire sectors of industry and economy are being purposefully destroyed via lockdowns, just so a few ultra-greedy sickos with a foot in the grave can get a bargain-basement price on good companies and properties as they gobble them up and add them to their empires. If profit for the few is any indication, I don’t think these pandemics will stop, because they’re too profitable. That’s troubling.

I can see the erosion of our personal freedoms. For a virus with a 99,96% survival rate, I cannot believe how much we have to give up in terms of the freedom of our movements and associations. In spite of what the politicians say, you cannot save everybody. People die every day. Death is kind of mandatory for people. It’s hard to avoid it. Using 0,04% as an excuse to shut down the world and lock people in their homes is either irrational or premeditated. I agree that the experience and sequelae from serious cases of COVID seem to be pretty terrible, as described by those who’ve gone through them. It’s an odd variance of the typical coronaviruses. But something to keep in mind is that people are suffering and dying everyday from all kinds of diseases and conditions. Every single day, people around us are dying, whether or not we know about it. While the world is obsessed with coronavirus, those people are still dying, and their deaths are no less important than a coronavirus death. Furthermore, their decreased access to treatment because of the pandemic is the real downside and what I would call the real sick part of keeping the world and the hospitals obsessed with COVID. A death is a death is a death.

I see the censorship that’s happening on social media and in the news. We cannot express any point of view that disagrees with the narrative that the media want us to know, and the media is all on one page, as if they’re all being fed the same script. I’ve been either forbidden from posting links to dissenting articles and videos on Facebook and Twitter, or I’ve been fact-checked after posting them. In much the same way, governments all over the world fell in line with the pandemic narrative soon after the virus hit the Western world. This is worrisome and it should be on your mind. It’s not about the spread of disinformation. It’s about the active suppression of information, and this has never happened to this degree in the Western world before. We’ve prided ourselves on our freedoms, including our freedom of speech. We’ve prided ourselves on questioning the status quo, on questioning the media, on questioning our politicians. Now we are not allowed to question them publicly, only privately. It isn’t right. I remind you, the survival rate for this virus stands at 99,96%.

I see the sickening desire to control more and more, and to gather up more and more wealth. It’s masquerading as the exact opposite, as a “great reset” that will improve the world. It won’t. What it will do, if it’s executed, is that it will concentrate power and wealth in the hands of even fewer individuals, while the rest of the people will be left to kiss the foot of those individuals in order to have a life. Not a good life, just a life. Good lives will be reserved for the vomitously unabashed brown-nosers and the exquisite lives will be the domain of those with the power and the wealth. That’s a disgusting and repulsive prospect.

I see the long game. What we’re experiencing now has been in the works for a number of years. The signs are there for you to see, if you do your homework. This is wrong. This is not the direction the Earth should be heading. This is not the direction humanity should be heading. An immediate course correction is needed.

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Thoughts

On 2020 politics

I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat, nor am I any other political flavor. I am not a member of any party, simply because no party offers a platform I can fully embrace. If I were to describe my political leanings, I would say they are centrist leaning to the right, which means I’m more conservative in some of my beliefs, though I hold quite a few modern beliefs.

Having had to read more than enough leftist views in the media during the past few years, particularly this year, I’ve now gotten to abhor anything that leans even remotely left. It’s been oversold, and it comes with shady and violent overtones, such as critical race theory, all sorts of unpallatable aromas of supposed “inequality”, BLM and Antifa. These so-called movements are clearly not to be taken at their face value. They have to be recognized for what they are: open attacks on the fabric of society, meant to destabilize and destroy commonly-held anchoring beliefs. Incidentally, this is what the communists would do as they were taking over a country (and afterwards). They would attack and destroy anything that would remind people of the old regime and that meant buildings, books, traditions, ways of thinking, etc. would all be thrown into the fire of “progress”. I can’t abide that. I’ve grown up in a communist regime and emigrated to the United States in 1991 to seek a better life. I’ve had enough “left” in my life to last me a lifetime.

Not that the extreme right is any more tolerable to me. Extremes in anything are not healthy and yet this year we’ve been treated to all sorts of political extremism.

I also can’t abide the continuous censorship taking place on social media against conservatives and against anything that challenges whatever the left wants to believe at a particular moment. The extremists can never be satisfied. You can never be leftist enough to please the commie axe blade that swings mere millimeters from your neck, and those who are advocating for more “left” in their lives will soon find that out, as they will find themselves on the wrong end of the axe. Last year we had #cancelculture and this year we have #doxxing plus so many hashtags I can’t even keep track of them.

To give you just one example of how loony this has gotten, I posted a video compilation to my FB page back in 2019, a short video clip of young women being harassed by men in bars or on the street with lewd comments, catcalls and the like, adding a short and simple leading quip: “men are pigs”. FB banned it because my statement was deemed “offensive to men”, even though the video itself offered ample proof that those men in the video were indeed pigs. It’s obvious that I was generalizing/stereotyping, but no man should be offended by something like that when it’s obviously true for most men at one point or another. And until a few years ago, no man would be offended. But now we live in the age of offence, where everyone takes great offence at everything, so in all the madness and pretentious, deconstructive arguments, we’ve given unwitting birth to all sorts of ideological monsters that have made their way into our politics and are now eating our societies. The amount of censorship going on now is absolutely incredible compared with this relatively mild example.

These ideological monsters such as inequality movements, BLM, Antifa, are all geared toward scaring people, instilling a permanent fear of persecution in them, and forcing them to accept whatever’s being pushed onto them if they want to keep their livelihoods and their way of life, and that’s no way to live!

If you’re somehow justifying the violence that took place on the streets of America during this summer and fall, leading up to the US elections, because the Democrats needed to push a “corrupt Republican” out of office, you’re in for some nasty surprises in the coming months and years. Allowing and encouraging large groups of people to commit vandalism, looting, assault and battery and even rape on bystanders or people who disagree with them, and to threaten them in writing and on video that there will be violent repercussions if they don’t vote Democrat, is a horrible, nasty thing to do. It’s the kind of thing that comes with a huge karmic payback. Once you encourage that sort of violence, you can’t just shut it down afterwards and pretend like nothing happened. It doesn’t work that way.

I’ll close with this: I dislike personality cults. I think it’s disingenuous to expect constant adulation from the people whom you’re supposed to serve. For some reason, Trump needs to be the center of attention wherever he goes. I get that he’s an extrovert and he feels great when he’s surrounded by the energy of large groups of people, but I don’t think it’s right to keep encouraging that sort of thing. When you, as a person, admire another person so much that you’ll go and stand for hours on a street, waving a flag, on the chance that you’ll get a glance of him driving by, you’re clearly biased toward him and you’ll be more than ready to forgive at least a few major faults, simply because you got a few moments of face time or a wave. People are people are people. In the mind’s eye, everyone should be weighed equally based on their merits alone, no matter what position they hold.

There is no overarching conclusion here: we are in uncharted territory.

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Thoughts

On the 2020 US election

Every time an election cycle draws near, I promise myself not to be drawn into it, but I always get too involved and it inevitably ruins my balance. Here are a few thoughts on what’s going on, before the election is called.

There’s an incredible amount of manipulation going on in the media. In the past, I’d always wonder why filthy rich businessmen would bother acquiring media companies, especially because they always bleed cash, but now I know it’s because they love to manipulate the public into believing certain narratives, especially when it suits their futures. The current flavor of the narrative is leftist and quite heavily so. Whatever the left’s selling, the mainstream media will flog, all day long. Having grown up in a Communist regime, I naturally abhor the left, but entitled, coddled American teens and youth have been brainwashed by top-ranking schools and colleges to believe that it’s a good thing, and that’s a sickening prospect.

There’s an unheard of amount of censorship in social media against anything that threatens the leftist agenda. I could not believe it when I could not post a link to the Hunter Biden stories on Twitter and on Facebook, and when the accounts of the NY Post and the White House Press Secretary were locked out, I knew social media companies had crossed the line. Apparently YouTube has been cutting off Partner status for certain conservatives or simply removing their accounts. I talked about the leftist leanings of big tech back in June, but I had no idea things would go so far, so quickly, that open censorship of official newspapers and official government accounts would occur on the eve of a presidential election.

There’s an unbelievable amount of voter fraud going on, and most, if not all of it, is being perpetrated by the Democratic Party. From illegal signs at voting stations and coaching of the voters, to countless ballots making their way into the hands of bad players, and the destruction of ballots found to be marked for Republican candidates, the Democrats are guilty of all of it. Just do a few simple searches and you’ll see plenty of proof.

Just as in the 2016 election, the public has been presented with two choices of candidates that are unlikable. On the one hand, we have Trump. I’m not sure what I could say about him that hasn’t been said already. I didn’t like him before he ever got into politics. I didn’t like his business practices and I didn’t like the debts he’d built up over the years. He was held up as a model American businessman through the 90s, 00s and 10s, and I kept wondering how that was possible given his business record and mountains of debt. I couldn’t understand the whole birth certificate controversy with Obama and I couldn’t understand why he got into politics. Right up to this year, I couldn’t stand the guy. But as the election drew near and I began to compare him with Biden and to look into what he’s accomplished while in office, he suddenly became more pallatable, because…

Biden is quite likely a “treasonous pedophile”, as he’s been described in the past few days. I’d add pathological liar and senile to that description. (Let’s not mince words here…) In spite of the narrative being put forth by the media, the proof is clear that he used his son and his political position to arrange large payouts from foreign governments. That’s at least corruption, if not treason. And every time I watch those video clips of him grabbing little children, pulling them toward him, sniffing them and whispering stuff into their ears as he’s forcing them to listen, there’s an inescapable gut feeling that comes over me, and that gut feeling screams “pedophile”. There are many videos of him lying through his teeth during his long and unproductive career in politics. Hell, he was even forced to withdraw from a previous presidential election because it was discovered that he plagiarized and lied his way through it. As if all this wasn’t enough to make me want to have the guy publicly executed, there are also clear signs that he’s quickly becoming senile. Then I begin to wonder about how complicit Obama and his administration were, because they knew about all this garbage when he was VP, and how corrupt the Democratic Party really is for putting forward such a nasty, ill-suited candidate at a time when it really matters. It’s filthy, vile stuff to do this to the American people and yet there he is, campaigning for “honesty, hope and decency”, the very concepts he’s been working to destroy all his life. Even the “no malarkey” slogan is the opposite of what he’s doing.

Serious financial efforts have been underway this year from certain individuals and groups of individuals with a nasty agenda to destabilize the US. Say what you will about Trump supporters — call them loud, obnoxious rednecks, call them racists, etc. (which they aren’t, by the way, most of them are none of those things) — they aren’t the ones who are clearly guilty of violent crimes, of physical assaults, of vandalism and destruction of property and historic art, of occupying neighborhoods and cities, as BLM and Antifa have done this year, and as they are doing right now, on election night. What’s also becoming clear is that these groups wouldn’t exist without financing from those individuals with a nasty agenda. While large mass protests are possible without manipulation, continued assaults on cities and people, night after night after night, aren’t possible without organization, equipment and funding. And when they happen inside a country, they are proof of well-financed efforts to topple an existing governmental structure. Furthermore, when local and state governments aren’t taking action to prosecute individuals identified as having committed those acts, there’s clear collusion between those groups and those governments, so that means even more money is involved in that game.

The whole COVID situation has been used as a political, governmental and economic football, with various sides blaming each other repeatedly. Whatever the virus may actually be doing to people, it has benefitted from much too much advertising (worldwide propaganda, really) for it not be used as an “agent of change”. What that change is and why it has been foisted on people will become clearer in the following months, but COVID has been one of the main actors in this presidential election and in this year, so it must be mentioned.

It’s absurd and tragi-comic how the US has been held up in recent decades as a beacon of hope and democracy for the world — and how corrupt it has really been. How in the world can a country that is so mired in a swamp of its own making, full of the nastiest stuff on earth, be a positive example for smaller countries such as Romania? I remember the speeches against corruption made by Gittenstein, the previous US Ambassador to Romania, only to find out this year that he’s been part and parcel of the greater corruption perpetrated by Biden and Basescu, an ex-president of Romania (see here). It seems that this brazen corruption (while speaking out against it) is the modus operandi of US politicians, in and out of the US, and any sane person has to wonder if any of them are decent people, or if all are guilty of having gone skinny-dipping in the Washington swamp.

I am left disgusted and repulsed by the whole situation. I’d like to see some proper house cleaning take place. It remains to be seen whether this will ever get done, or whether the whole house of cards will end up in shambles and ruin. Who knows, perhaps this has been the plan all along… What I do know is that nasty stuff is brewing up. This election is being hotly contested and where this leads is anyone’s guess.

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Thoughts

On the automation of surveillance

We are seeing an increased use of surveillance at every level of our lives (on the street, at work, online, on our phones, etc.), and we see increased use of automation (simple, algorithmic and AI) to sort through all our activities. It’s a worrisome trend. We should be asking questions such as:

  • Who’s surveilling us and why? It’s easy to answer this with two terms: government and big tech, but the answers can be and should be much more granulated.
  • Who’s keeping track of that data? Exactly who are the players who have access to our data, who are running analysis on it and who are storing it, backing it up, etc.
  • How long is our data kept and where?
  • When algorithms decide our human fate, is that just? Should we tolerate it?
  • Who wrote the algorithms and are they skewed in some way? Given the recent censorship issues on Facebook and Twitter, I think algorithms are clearly written with an agenda in mind and they can be easily skewed to fit the needs and wants of the companies who apply them.
  • And many more questions like this…

I’d first like to point out the following: we live in a human world, and we’re meant to relate to each other in human ways; it doesn’t work well otherwise.

However, as I’ve pointed out in past posts, the world is too full of humans, and there are many complications that arise from that. Chief among them is this: an unusually large proportion of them aren’t relating to their fellow humans in human (or humane) ways and they are engaging in violence, murder, kidnappings, rape, pedophilia and other perversions, vandalism, theft, looting, corruption at all levels, drugs, road rage, terrorism, con schemes, etc.

That’s when law enforcement and governments, unable to keep track of every one of these so-called “humans” with existing personnel, turns to computers, mass surveillance, facial recognition, algorithms that identify suspicious behavior, etc., in an effort to sort through the mass influx of human faces, some of which are engaged in criminal/inhuman activities. The issue of why personnel cannot be ramped up in these institutions so that humans can sort through and keep track of these activities is up for debate, but I think we can all agree that when surveillance and automation are used to flag and identify the activities listed above, so that humans can sort through them, it is probably okay, and it is probably to be expected.

It is not okay when automation of surveillance is used to:

  • Spy on our private activities simply for the purpose of keeping track of everything we do, “just in case” we do something wrong,
  • Restrict freedom of speech, such as when social media algorithms simply won’t allow us to post certain links or words on our accounts, or will outright censor certain subjects or people,
  • Dig through our online activities and disqualify us from obtaining a job simply for having posted something questionable in the past, or to destroy our lives altogether, as today’s cancel culture and supposed race inequality movement is actively trying to do to so many people,
  • Monitor all our communications, such as our messages, emails and telephone calls, in the name of national security,
  • And the list can probably go on and on…

Here’s my understanding of the direction of this trend so far: as long as humans will continue to grow in number and to present a very complex environment where it’s thoroughly difficult or outright impossible for a limited number of people involved in law enforcement to keep track of illegal activities, the arguments for the use of automation in surveillance (to the point where artificial intelligence will handle a large part of it) will continue to mount. Also, as long as hidden agendas will continue to be tolerated in government, in the media and in academia, hidden surveillance will continue, for various nefarious purposes, such as persecution, extortion, a building up of arguments to support certain policies, etc.

The solution as I see it is to decrease the world population till we stop being numbers and countless faces and we become communities once more, where we know everyone who lives around us, where we are not one nameless face in a mass, in a ridiculously large throng of people, but a meaningful, contributing member of a neighborhood, a village or a town. That’s when surveillance and its automation will no longer matter. It won’t even be an issue anymore. We’ve got to stop multiplying like rabbits. We’ve got to stop focusing on large numbers. We’ve got to focus on quality, not quantity. We’ve got to focus on meaningful human interactions and meaningful numbers when it comes to our communities and our towns. To those of you who live in smaller communities, what I’ve just said is obvious, but to those who still prefer to live in large cities, I think my words will sound quite strange. And for them and because of them, mass surveillance and the automation of surveillance will continue…

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20 Years
Thoughts

Twenty years

This website turned 20 on the 7th of August. I didn’t notice, nor did I remember, although I’d looked forward to this milestone since its 12th anniversary back in 2012. Life has a way of refocusing one’s attention, and this year, of all the recent years, I think we can all say has been… a little nuts (or completely crazy, depending on where you live in the world).

For those of you interested in how this website came to be, they details are listed on my about page (scroll down to the last paragraphs there).

That’s all: I get a virtual pat on the back — from myself — and we’ll all carry on. Thanks for being a subscriber (where applicable)!

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Thoughts

Once again, on the problem of noise

I’ve written repeatedly about noise issues in distant and recent past. Noise is something that affects me deeply and not in pleasant ways, so it’s an issue that’s always boiling beneath the surface, so to speak. Particularly during the quarantine, I was able to enjoy such quiet times, that I found the contrast between that period and these once-again too-busy times extremely jarring. I’m writing about it this time because I may have come up with a better way to word the noise laws, for those that are interested. There are two parts to it, as detailed below.

First, here are three posts I’d like to point out:

I was prompted to think about this by a recent incident, where the noise violator took advantage of a loophole in the Romanian laws against noise violations. It’s an optional loophole that the police can choose to apply in cases where the violator has relations on the police force or the local government, namely to require the use of a special device that measures the decibel level of the noise, which in Romania involves scheduling a visit from a special police team from another city, instead of relying on the complaints of a person or persons, or the observations made by the police officers who’ve responded to the call. In short, if you’re bribing someone at the mayor’s office or on the police force, you can get away with some serious noise violations. I hope you can also see how not solving a noise violation on the spot and requiring a scheduled site visit from a police team with special equipment is clearly a loophole that’s meant to be misused. In this particular recent case, I’m talking about a habitual noise violator with a history of more than 8 years of disturbing the peace of the historic city center.

Part 1

My proposed wording for noise violations is this: if the noise can be heard outside the perimeter of the noise violator’s property, it must be fined; by the same principle, if the noise can be heard outside of the noise violator’s car, it must be fined. This would force these callous, incredibly insensitive people to adjust the volume of their music, events and/or arguments so that their neighbors cannot hear the noise. If it can be heard, it can and should be fined. The only loophole I would put in is for construction or other work noises, which I find to be the only noises that are justifiable. Construction must occur, whether it’s new construction, renovation or restoration, and work such as mowing the lawn or doing various house repairs must also go on and is, I would say, necessary, so it must be tolerated and understood, within reason. But any of the non-work stuff must and should adhere to the simple principle of not disturbing the neighbors, whether they’re in the house next door or the car in the next lane, or passersby trying to enjoy a quiet walk through town. I think the current schedule of “quiet hours” that exist on the books in most countries, such as 10 pm – 8 am and a “siesta” from 1 pm – 2 pm in the afternoon, is a good schedule and should be kept, but it should be literally enforced by the book, not left up to the interpretation of corruptible policemen and local governments. And I think that even if a noise violation occurs outside of those quiet hours, as long as it meets the very simple criteria described above, it still qualifies as a noise violation and it must be fined. Someone else’s loud music or screaming is still extremely bothersome, no matter if it happens at 3 pm or 3 am. Should they want to blow out their eardrums, let them do so with the aid of headphones, not loudspeakers.

Enforcing the new wording should also be very simple: using the guidelines above, first-time noise violators must get a written warning. Any time after that, no matter what, they get fined, by the book. In other words, noise violators with a long history of breaking the law should never get a break. They should always get fined. The time for warning them has long since passed.

Part 2

I would also suggest a restriction on the use of amplifiers and speakers for public events organized by local governments to only those venues that are specifically equipped for noise abatement and/or are physically distanced from residential areas, such as concert venues. This would do away with loud events that are heard throughout entire neighborhoods or towns. I’m not saying public concerts shouldn’t happen in town squares, or that musicians shouldn’t be allowed to play on the streets, but the noise they generate must not be amplified artificially. It must be generated solely by analog musical instruments or their voice. No microphones, no speakers. That way, it simply wouldn’t travel as far and as artificially as the deafening stuff blared through loudspeakers, and would become a more natural sound that can be enjoyed within its physical context.

I think those governments that are so inclined to apply these rules would quickly see a much-needed improvement in the noise levels in their cities, and I know for a fact that most working people would appreciate having more quiet time to focus on their tasks.

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A pandemic of laziness

The rhythm of life in a temperate climate with four seasons is, understandably, cyclic. Spring is when nature thaws and outside work begins. Summer is when the work goes on in earnest, with a view of the cold seasons to come. Building work, for example, requires the summer heat for foundations, masonry, painting, etc. Agricultural work is spread out through the three warmer seasons. Autumn is when nature begins to wind down and withdraw into itself, and people tend to do the same. The focus of the work shifts to gathering and getting ready for the winter that is almost in sight. The coming freeze is made inescapably clear by the cold, frosty mornings of autumn. The signs are all there and no one can deny them.

As I worked on our NGO’s charitable projects last year, which involved a lot of landscape and building work, I saw certain signs as well. By the end of the summer and in the fall, it was undeniable to me. Wherever I went, people just didn’t want to work. The concept of an honest day’s work got lost on most people. Somehow, it’d become esoteric to them. I have already attempted to exorcise it back into something known and unmysterious, through a post I wrote on the very subject.

Then, winter came and with it came a certain time when we all had to put… time… aside for reflection (or drivel, as the case may be). We all call that time now “the coronavirus pandemic”. It stretched on and on through spring and just as summer came round the corner, we were free (almost) once again to resume our work. The pace did indeed become frenetic, given the prolonged pause we were all forced to partake, but to my dismay, most people did not choose to engage in productive work, re-confirming last year’s observations.

I would have thought that economic activity would begin with a fury, with people wanting to make up for lost time, especially given the dim prospects of facing more waves of restrictions and economic troubles in the fall and winter but no, the frenetic pace was set mainly by people trying to organize parties and barbeques, to find places to vacation and by those eager to protest and vandalize anything and everything under the sun. I think I can best describe this frenetic post-quarantine activity with one phrase: no rhyme or reason whatsoever — wild flailing of arms and tongues, mad goings to and fro, but ultimately meaningless.

As I pointed out in a previous post, pent-up frustrations will out, and perhaps I’ll write a future post on the anarchic, asinine, “bite the hand that feeds you and shit your own bed” tendencies of the current post-modern ideologies that are driving these protests, or rather driving the people brainwashed into believing them into utter chaos and certain disaster, but for now I’d like to focus on an epidemic of much larger proportions than the coronavirus epidemic: rampant, universal laziness. At some point, this might have been called endemic, but we can safely call it epidemic, and we could even go so far as to call it a pandemic: a global pandemic of laziness. Many more people are infected with it than COVID-19 and with no cure in sight, many will die from it as well.

When I look at the generations of today that are of working age, what I mostly see is a blithe indifference to the inescapable, undeniable fact that life must contain a certain proportion of work. I’m talking about real work, hard work, an honest day’s work, backbreaking work, drudgery, sweaty bits and bobs, wet back, red neck kind of work. It simply must. Our mammalian bodies need this physical work in order to stay in condition. Going to the gym for an hour or so a few times a week is a poor substitute for proper physical work. Life requires work. Achievements require work. Even the pleasurable bits of life consist of physical labor, as horny teenage boys with sweaty palms will surely attest, several times a day.

And yet, once the people of today reach working age, they begin to assume, wrongly, that life can somehow function without work. Never mind us working, the robots will do our work and the government will pay us a universal basic income that will free us from the torture of work and allow us to focus on our creative sides, such as scratching our balls and asses as we watch television, or liking absolutely inconsequential posts on Facebook or Instagram. Let’s just do a bit of shopping with that free government money, let’s throw in a bit of work on the car, like upgrading the subwoofers or mufflers (for the completely tasteless), maybe get a little tattoo here and there, a bite or ten of fast food, and life is good and complete for probably 90-95% of people.

While this kind of stuff may allow various societies to slide by for a number of years, coasting on the hard work of a few motivated individuals, things will inevitably slip from existence to subsistence, and that is where the civilized world is headed if people don’t start doing some proper work.

Nobody wants to do physical labor anymore. Everyone wants to click around on a computer screen all day for greater pay. Most of the “white collar” work has become a joke, with everyone pretending to work but actually doing as little of it as possible, and very few people willing to do “blue collar” work, which is actually what builds and maintains civilizations. I’m not saying that blue collar work builds the arts and humanities or the sciences, but our physical world requires blue collar work in order to build and maintain the infrastructure that supports the higher endeavors. Let me put it to you this way: someone’s gotta lay the internet cables, build the routers and assemble the phones and tablets that you use to faff around all day while pretending to work. How about the obsession of modern man with food, which must be stuffed into their mouths at all times, in all sorts of forms? Out of the population of any civilized country, the percentage of people engaged in agriculture is ridiculously tiny, and in my view, it’s not because of agri-giants, it’s because no one wants to do the back-breaking work of tending to the lands and the farms. Thank goodness there’s farm machinery available that allows fewer people to still do all of the farmwork that’s needed to keep all those office workers well-fed to the point of morbid obesity, because we’d all be in for a seriously rude wake-up call otherwise.

I look around me and I see so few people willing to work hard, willing to put in an honest day’s work. I don’t care what their excuses are. Even if it’s just for a crummy, humdrum job, someone with a backbone will want to put in some good work so they can sleep well at night. Apparently, a lot of people have lost their backbones, because most of them aren’t doing good work. Look around you. Out of your circle of friends and acquaintances, how many of them put in an honest day’s work? Don’t tell me, just figure it out for yourself. Isn’t it worrisome once you do the math? Heck, look at yourself and be honest, you don’t have to tell me, you just have to admit it to yourself: have you been putting in an honest day’s work, day in and day out, in recent years? Please don’t post a comment to brag about how much work you’re doing. Just do a bit of self-assessment and be brave enough to admit to yourself where you stand.

I’m not saying we should be working to the point of breaking down our bodies, day in and day out. We should have a balance. Those of us who predominantly do office work should have 1-2 full days of proper physical labor each week, in order to keep things in balance. Those of us who predominantly do physical labor should have 1-2 full days of restful work each week, once again in order to keep things in balance. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s what weekends are good for? Office workers should, for their own health and personal satisfaction, engage in serious physical labor during the weekends, around their houses or in volunteer work with various organizations in their communities. Factory workers and those who do mainly physical labor should, for their own health and personal satisfaction, spend their weekends educating their minds by reading or watching documentaries on various subjects, meeting with friends and having meaningful conversations (not getting drunk and stuffing their stomachs).

I for one am having such a hard time finding people to help us with our physical work. About the only people who are willing to work, from my experience, are the older generations who’ve grown up under very different circumstances than today’s working youth and adults, and active or ex-military folks, who’ve served and know what it means to work hard. All the rest of them are just fluff. They simply can’t handle a full day of physical work. Most people I’ve seen are ready to fall down after a half hour of serious work, and that’s so problematic, in so many ways. The youth are the worst: they’re pampered little simps who parade in and out of coffee shops, instagramming their meaningless, unproductive lives, unable to read or write properly, subject to every whimsy of their “influencers”. I have seen so few of them that know the value of work. If I were to estimate, I think less than half a percent would be a fairly accurate figure. Everyone’s trying to make a fast buck without the work. It simply doesn’t bode well for the future of work and for our future as the human race. If things keep going this way, I truly hope that robots will become advanced enough and affordable enough so they can do the hard work, because everyone will simply be too old, too fat or too frail and out of practice to do anything worthwhile.

PS. I realize the youth critique is historically repetitive, and that virtually every older generation decries the state of their youth, yet I look at how much the older generations have accomplished and I am in awe. With every passing generation, we are accomplishing less and less, and we’d be in seriously bad shape if leaps in productivity, invention, automation and mass production didn’t offset the gradual and certain loss in elbow grease. Less and less people are doing the work that carries our civilization forward. Most are sitting back and benefitting, without having contributed. I look at what the young generations are accomplishing right now (triggered SJWs, influencers flogging shit left and right, carpentry faffers on YouTube more concerned with sucking up the dust in their workshops than doing any substantive woodwork, etc. ad nauseam), and I shudder.

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Thoughts

On current overreactions and pent-up frustrations

Rather than expound on these subjects in detail, because there’s a tremendous amount that can be said, I’d like to point out a few things and let you think about them.

The current demonstrations against police brutality in the US are laudable in principle, but they should’ve happened years ago. The fact that they’re happening now shows they’re more of a vent for pent-up frustrations against the coronavirus quarantine and against social distancing than against acts of police brutality. Let’s face it, the global quarantine was an unprecedented event that generated a lot of fear, stress and financial difficulties for people, and going out into the streets right now is an act of reassurance for them, more than anything else. Who could protest against a public health emergency? No one (well, almost no one). But who can get behind a commendable protest against race inequality? Everyone, even if that’s not really what motivates them to protest.

The coming together of these enormous numbers of people, even if some are wearing masks (most aren’t), is quite likely going to increase, not decrease, the numbers of infections and casualties from the virus, leading to its possible mutations into more lethal forms and another possible quarantine, which is exactly what those people don’t need. There is a high degree of irresponsibility in the behavior of these people in the streets, but just try telling them that…

Countries where police violence isn’t an issue in modern times, such as Germany, are overreacting with both mass demonstrations and legislative changes. Then again, Germany is still feeling very guilty for its past, so overreaction motivated by feelings of guilt is a predictable reaction for them. It’s also ridiculous, particularly for a country where there is so much disrespect, violence and hatred directed toward its law-abiding citizens from incoming immigrants.

The onus for the current situation can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the current political leadership of both parties in the US, because they’ve engaged in divisive, polarizing strategies for quite some time. The problematic behavior of police forces can be traced directly up the chain of command to the tone set by the president and other top political figures in their speeches and other communications. Even so, I’d encourage you to not be so naive to think that a simple switch of the presidency from one party to another can dramatically change the situation. This divisive rhetoric has existed at the top levels of politics even during president Obama’s two terms (not that he engaged in that sort of thing, but plenty of people on both sides of the isle in Congress and elsewhere did). And I believe that no matter what political party is in charge, that party can appoint good people to positions of leadership and ensure that the proper tone is set and publicly communicated at all levels of government, right down to the policemen patrolling the streets.

Whether you want to admit it or not, and whether you think it’s right or not, the brutality seen nowadays on the streets is the result of the frustration and anger of many conservative people in the US who’ve felt disenfranchised, under-represented and pushed aside by overtly liberal policies and laws passed in recent decades. I’ve written about this on my site before and I would point you to the exact post, but I can’t find it now. Certain societal changes must happen slowly, because they involve re-defining important concepts that have been in place for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Yet in the last two decades, we’ve seen huge pushes to over-liberalize views on so many subjects, and even more so, it became a crime (punished by law, censure or ostracization) to speak against these changes. This was bound to polarize and anger a lot of people, and what’s happening now is a long-overdue reaction that’s been building up to a boiling point. What you’re really seeing now is a clash between ways of thinking. Don’t think for a moment that just by condemning police brutality you’re going to make this long-standing anger go away. This kind of a complex situation can only be calmed down by at least a decade of completely open dialogue between all sides, where you have to let people say exactly what they think, on all sides. If that means a series of televised debates between community representatives in every major city, so be it, but the air needs to be cleared, over and over and over, until all concerns have been aired, all frustrations vented, on all sides of the issues. You have to let everyone voice their opinions without repercussions, without judgment, without categorizing them as racists, as discriminators, as “behind the times”, etc. But this isn’t happening. Instead, liberal agendas are being pushed through everywhere as fast and as forcibly as possible, so this deep-felt anger is going to continue to bubble up and reach boiling points.

If you look at videos of the demonstrators being aggressed by the police, you can see in a lot of cases how they’re either getting right up into these policemen’s faces and screaming at them, or they’re keeping some distance but still screaming at the policemen. If you’re going out to protest, do your protesting toward the cameras, toward government officials (if they’re present), but keep your distance and leave the policemen alone. They’re not there to act as a “screaming wall” for you or to judge your causes. They’re under tremendous pressure to do their jobs. Why do those people think it’s okay to scream at someone for hours on end, to call them names, to even bait them, and then expect them not to retaliate when they get the chance? Go out, have your say if you must, scream your heart out at the world, but keep your distance from the authorities, don’t be physically or verbally threatening, don’t throw things, and you’ll likely go home unharmed. But in a lot of these cases where demonstrators got hurt, the police were provoked in one way or another, probably not by the people who got hurt, but by people in and around that area. I’m not saying what happened was right or was justified, but it was in some way provoked, and when tensions run high, you don’t need to do too much before violence kicks in on both sides.

There is talk of defunding and disbanding police forces, and putting that money into social workers, community organizers, etc. Other than a few urban areas in the US, the truth of the matter is that police forces are typically underfunded and understaffed. And most policemen are good people with good intentions. But let’s let those cities that want to engage in police defunding experiments do it, and we’ll see what happens when social workers and community organizers are confronted with violent gang members, looters, muggers, rapists and various nefarious individuals who don’t respond to logic and reasoning.

On the other hand, and I speak from my experience of living in the US and in Romania, quite a few policemen (not the majority, but enough of them) can be described by at least one of these adjectives: lazy, incompetent, rude, corrupt, bullies. Those who qualify deserve whatever’s coming their way. While that sort of behavior might be marginally tolerated in civilian jobs, it cannot be tolerated from policemen, who ought to be held to a higher standard, exactly because it’s their job to uphold the law.

An inescapable truth that can be seen quite clearly in these demonstrations is that while people are out in the streets, “demonstrating”, they aren’t working. Worse than that, they’re not letting others work. Businesses who would now be working and contributing to a sorely abused economy cannot work because they’re disrupted by the demonstrations or they’ve been looted, especially where they were needed the most, such as in poorer neighborhoods. All this comes on top of a quarantine and countless missed payments on mortgages, car loans and other promissory notes. The very people shouting for justice right now are going to get a big dose of injustice as looming foreclosures and evictions finally occur. It isn’t going to be pretty if this situation drags on. People need to get back to work, businesses need to reopen, mortgages and other loans need to get paid, etc., or the economy is going to get even worse.

Should things get worse and should police forces get defunded in key urban areas in the US, those people are setting themselves up for severe problems in the near future. Those who haven’t witnessed what late 1970s and early 1980s New York was like, are about to experience it in their own cities and neighborhoods, if things continue along the same path.

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Thoughts

Post-quarantine thoughts

The quarantine period, while financially problematic, was a welcome respite for a world too numerous and too burdensome to bear; it was a world so caught up with itself that it practically screamed out for an intervention. Cities were cleaner and quieter. There were much fewer people to be seen everywhere and much less traffic. Days could be used for work and for lovely, quiet pauses where one could hear and commune with nature, and the nights could be used for sleep and quiet reflection, which is as it should be. It was a lovely time.

As the shelter-in-place rules were lifted here in Romania on the 15th of May, the filthy underbelly of society began to show itself again. Dirty, ugly, loud people began to crowd outside again, gathering in bunches like fleas on a mangy dog, standing close together and gossiping, making up conspiracy theories, littering everywhere once more. Their misbegotten progenitures began once again to rev their cars and turn up their subwoofers, getting in their cars just to speed up and down the street, blaring their horribly loud music throughout the neighborhoods, only to stop here and there so they could grunt at their like-minded “pack animals”. Others put their speakers in their yards once again, and turned them up for everyone to “enjoy” (a time-honored “tradition” among village morons everywhere) with no regard whatsoever for other people or for the laws regarding public disturbances of the peace. Just last night, rowdy, uncouth youth (not wearing masks) were walking up and down our street, yelling at each other about some party in the neighborhood. Music was blaring a few hundred yards away while suspect smells were wafting in the air, what seemed to me to smell suspiciously like burning plastic that would mask the odors of other illicit substances being consumed. (I was cleaning our yard and got a bit nauseous from the smell.) Countries in Europe are still supposed to be “on alert” and gatherings with many people are still illegal, and yet one was happening last night, and it wasn’t the only one I’ve heard of recently.

Whereas during the quarantine police forces were joined by the military and by the gendarmes, and there was a real push from above to enforce all of the laws, particularly the ones regarding quarantine, now things are “back to normal”. Police forces are once again slow to hand out fines or warnings in order to keep in check the noise violations and other illegal activities of certain problem individuals and ne’er-do-wells. I find the mere existence of these individuals to be a double danger for civilized society and I’ve written about them before: on the one hand they get free money from the taxes collected from working, law-abiding citizens and on the other hand, they are habitual violators of the laws in place; they don’t work, don’t contribute to society and spend their days drunk and/or violent, watching TV and stuffing their mouths while living in their own squalor and filth. They are the dregs, the refuse of any civilized society, and they’re more than a stain on that society, they’re parasites that degrade the quality of life for all other law-abiding, decent folks.

And so I’m left to conclude that this time, that could have been used for reflection, for learning, for a turning inward and a thorough examination of one’s life, for resolving to lead a better life, was wasted by most people in their typical pursuits of ways to fill their bellies and dull their minds. Now they want to pick up right where they left off, keeping on their parasitic behaviors, taking and taking and taking from the Earth and leaving only garbage and destruction behind.

You see, the real test of a society is not how it behaves during a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. It’s easy to pull together and to obey the law when you don’t have a choice. You know the old saying, “there are no atheists in a foxhole.” The real test comes after the crisis. It’s when people can be themselves again that we see the real worth, the real weight of that society. And it’s much easier to see it then because we’ve got the benefit of contrast. We can see how they behaved when there were strict rules in place and they were being watched, and we can also see how they’re behaving now that the rules have been relaxed and they’re left to their own devices, more or less.

So if nothing was learned from this time that could have been used so productively by many, if nothing was gained by them, then I’m left to wonder why they’re still around. Many politicians promised solemnly that “every life matters” and that they’ll “do everything in their power to make sure”, etc. Was all that effort really necessary? Was it so important to save everyone, or would we, the human race in general, have been better off if we had shed off the excess weight? We all have scales at home and as we get older, we step on them and we shake our heads and say things like, “I’ve got to shed off some pounds, time to go on a diet.” I wonder, if the human population as a whole was put on a scale and weighed by a higher authority, what would be the result? Quite probably this: mene mene tekel upharsin. I do hope corrective action is taken sooner rather than later.

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Apricot blossoms
Thoughts

Good things happening because of the coronavirus pandemic

Amidst all of the scary news reports and shelter-in-place rules everywhere, there are good things going on, caused by the very same situation. I thought I’d list several of them here:

  • We’ve all slowed down or stopped our activities and are spending more time at home, with our families. The frenetic pace of the world, chugging on all of the time for no apparent reason, has slowed down quite a bit. We now have time, time that we didn’t have before, to be with ourselves, to sit and ponder, to read a good book, to wake up and look around, to assess our lives, to think about our goals and projects. We have time to connect with those we love, even if it is only through video chats, but it’s more than we had before.
  • The world is a much quieter, more orderly place. Have you noticed how much quieter it is when you go outside? The chaotic movements of throngs of people, crowding our field of view, the constant din of the world pounding in our ears, is no more. Isn’t it lovely? All of the hustle and bustle and sirens and traffic and noise have now disappeared. The idiots who’d rev up their cars and turn their subwoofers up are now indoors, and good riddance to them. They’re keeping quiet and if they’re not, I encourage you all to call the police on them. Now we can actually hear the chirping of the birds in our cities. We can hear the breeze blowing through the trees and by our houses. We can take the time to see it caress the fresh blades of grass that are just coming up. We can actually take the time to smell the flowers.
  • Pollution and carbon emission levels are down everywhere. A tiny little virus has accomplished what decades of talks between high-level world leaders couldn’t accomplish. The planet has a chance for a proper spring, with fresh, clean air and water. This is a massive accomplishment.
  • Cities are cleaner. Not only are some of them actively scrubbing and disinfecting their streets, but they’re cleaner because all of the people who would be mindlessly littering them are now shut in. Each city’s street cleaning crews now have a chance to see the results of their work from one day to the next, instead of seeing idiots throwing garbage on the streets right next to them, as they’re cleaning.
  • The hygiene and public behavior parts of the new social distancing rules are a godsend. More people are finally washing their hands (and hopefully showering more often too). Knobs and handles in public places are finally getting disinfected. People are finally keeping their distance in stores and markets, instead of breathing down your neck in a queue. People are finally covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough. For years and years, I’ve gotten mean looks and veiled threats from people when I’ve told them to keep their distance from me, that I wasn’t comfortable having them so close to me. Now it’s finally happening by itself. For years and years, I was disgusted with the men who went to the bathroom and didn’t wash their hands, and then expected to shake hands with me. No more hand shaking now!
  • Telecommuting is now a must, whereas before it was regarded as a nice perk. I’ve been advocating for telecommuting for a long time (since 2006). I’m glad to see that companies are now making telecommuting arrangements wherever possible.
  • Travel has come to a screeching halt and thank goodness for that. Mindless, idiotic travel had become the norm all over the world. It had gotten so bad that it was normal for young people to fly from one corner to another of the various continents on weekend booze and drug trips, or for sexual miscreants to take “sex trips” to certain countries. And then of course we had the throngs of people, wave after wave after wave, who’d hit the major tourist hot spots in an endless assault on historic monuments, crowding out everyone including themselves. This was wrong. Travel is a good thing, a very good thing, but only when done mindfully, politely, considerately, taking in the sights, taking the time for reflection, taking the time to learn about the cultures you’re visiting, slowly proceeding from one place to the next, being careful not to intrude, not to litter, not to abuse. I truly hope that in the future, when travel bans are lifted, some sort of rules are put into place to ensure people never travel idiotically.
  • Governments all over the world have hopefully come to realize that they must put most (almost all) of their transactions with people online. In other words, as a tax-paying citizen of a country, you should be able to conduct most of your business with the government of that country (be it national, county or local) via the internet, instead of being forced to go to some office and waste your time in a queue. This crisis should speed things along in that direction.

Clearly there are costs for all of this free time that most of us have gotten. Let’s hope that they are mostly temporary, and that they won’t be too much of a burden for us all to bear. It’s easy to let thoughts of “what might tomorrow bring” get you down, but it’s vitally important that during this time, this unusual respite from the daily grind, that we take the time to breathe, literally and figuratively.

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