Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ward of Wall Street

For any who read my Friday the 13th post from back in February, in it I said that I had signed contracts with Wall Street almost two months ago. So I think it was either late December or early January when I signed on to work at the same place at which I started this Indonesian Odyssey almost a year ago. You see, I have many reasons to like Wall Street. This may sound like overcompensation for misery, but even though they brought me over here under false pretenses; even though they kept from me the fact that I'd be working illegally on a business visa instead of legally working on a proper work visa; even though instead of a year of legal work I only got two months of illegal work from them, I was happy working there and I was impressed with the corporate responsibility the company showed to all the foreigners with business visas they had to let go. I was offered, (and was told that all the other teachers were offered the same), either a job at another Wall Street in another country, or a plane ticket home. I had only just arrived a month before this offer was made so I didn't want to turn around and go back to Canada. And though I contacted several different Wall Streets in other countries, I wanted to stay in Indonesia. Besides, a ticket to Calgary would have cost the company a couple thousand bucks. Why not take a job here and save them some dough? I was offered a job and a proper work visa, (KITAS), by English Today. The owner said I'd have it in a couple of months and then I'd be working legally here. Which is what I came over for.

I worked for several months with English Today and the boss gave me several reasons why he had to postpone the application for my KITAS. Because of this and the nature of the job, too much Jakarta traffic time and not enough teaching time/salary, I phased myself out of the company and started freelancing. As a freelancer I had to be careful of advertising online or posting ads in apartment buildings or places of prominence because either could increase my chances of being caught working without the proper visa, blacklisted so I couldn't work again in Indonesia, and deported or even thrown in jail. Indonesian jail. So I kept my client list small. This kept my profits small, but I was able to pay the bills. Barely.

The signing of the new contracts with Wall Street and the insistence of everyone I talked to there that I would be getting my KITAS soon and working legally again soon was something I didn't hide from my clients. I was honest and told them I could only teach temporarily. I gave them the timetable Wall Street gave to me. For this reason some of my students cancelled when my KITAS was supposed to come in. But it didn't come in and I had to renew my business visa again. Although I was contracted to work at Wall Street, they told me that they don't pay for outbound flights. It's a policy of their's. I found that odd considering every foreigner working here when Wall Street got busted for bringing us over on business visas was offered outbound flights to other Wall Streets in other countries or back to their countries of origin. I also know that during the many years they had practiced this illegal, but very common business tactic over here, it often took more than two months to get workers the proper visas so they paid for visa renewal runs to Singapore, which included the outbound flight to Singapore, not just the flight back. See the business visa lasts for a year, but needs to be renewed every 60 days. NOT every two months, as I learned the hard way.

Anyway, I renewed my visa back in mid February. I had to go into debt to do it, but got 'er done. I was told at the airport immigration gate that that renewal, (my 4th), would be my last. He suspected that I had been working illegally on the wrong visa. Why else would anyone spend that length of time in Indonesia on a business visa. I lied to him and said I had been going to meetings and receiving training. I also had to do things like go for physical check-ups and there had been many delays in the process. For instance my first medical check-up was deemed unsatisfactory so I had to go get another one. I told him what I had been told by Wall Street: that I would definitely receive my KITAS before this new 60-day renewal expired. He reluctantly believed me but told me that it was unlikely that I would be allowed back into the country on anything BUT a KITAS. For instance if, at the end of the new 60 days, (April 18th), I tried to re-enter Indonesia on a tourist or visitor visa, it would be denied. When that happened I would be blacklisted and unable to ever work in Indonesia again. I told him I would get my KITAS soon. So I was allowed back into Indonesia.

For the past almost 60 days I have been VERY anxiously awaiting my KITAS and working very few hours due to more cancellations and the inability to sign new students because I would soon be working for Wall Street and have to cancel our classes. So the money wasn't exactly rolling in. I was generously offered a place to stay by one of my students and that saved my bacon because I couldn't have made rent payments if he hadn't, but it also eliminated another paying client. The maid who cleans three times a week at the apartment where I live is making double what I am right now. Maids here make notoriously low wages. But I kept waiting for Wall Street and trusting that the KITAS would come soon.

I got a text from John, from Wall Street, a little while ago saying, "Good news! We are now in the final stages of your KITAS! It should only be about one more month!" I didn't have a month left on my visa. In fact I think he sent this message to me around the end of March or beginning of April when I had less than 3 weeks left on it. So I sent back a reply asking what we would do if I didn't get the KITAS before my visa ran out. I told John that I didn't have the money for another visa run to Singapore and that I doubted I'd be able to do one. It took several days before I really got a response to this. I guess Wall Street didn't see the urgency. John said they'd look into it and look into paying for another visa run or if that wasn't possible maybe doing something else. Then I waited some more.

I sprinkled a little more urgency into my text messages, emails and phone calls and finally just a few days ago I got an email from John suggesting that our best course of action would be for me to go to another country for a couple three weeks, up to a month until the KITAS was processed. Then Wall Street would pay my way back, sign me up, get me a place and give me start-up allowance like they had last year when I first started working for them. How was I supposed to afford this if I couldn't even afford a visa run?

So I called John up and got a bit MORE forceful with my words. I mentioned that Wall Street had offered me a ticket back to Canada as reparations for what they had done illegally bringing me over here and misleading me into believing I'd be working a year legally when in fact I only worked 2 months illegally. That hasn't changed. I am still here for that reason. Why can't they offer me a similar type of reparation NOW in the form of a ticket to Korea and some money to spend while I'm there for a month. The ticket home would have been at least 2 thousand. I suggested a thousand for the month in Korea. I have to admit, while having this conversation I really wished I had taken that plane ticket, cashed it in and used the money to help me through the very lean ensuing 10 months.

Well John got into the fact that I had taken another job. Yeah, which I said saved Wall Street a couple grand. It didn't remove their ethical responsibility or liability towards me. I was just doing something that would have saved them money is all. So John said he didn't want to play the blame game. I told him that I had interviews and meetings and phone calls with SEVERAL of the businesses over here in Indonesia that I could have worked for and every one of them wanted to just hire me on my business visa. I KNOW it's not really all that unethical or evil or whatever, and if I thought it was I wouldn't be re-applying to Wall Street. But I DO think they still have a responsibility, morally, ethically, logically and legally towards me. I am still, until I get working legally over here, a virtual ward of Wall Street.

So then John mentioned that it would be a hard sell to convince the HR and Finance departments at Wall Street to give me money to go to a country where I have worked and lived for so many years. Pay is better, food is better, technology is incomparably better, weather is better, job is better, so many things are better there and I'm used to them. Not to mention I have lots of friends in Korea. He said Wall Street would worry that I'd just take the money and stay in Korea. He suggested I just borrow from friends. So I said that I had been here less than a year. How many friends of less than a year do YOU have who would hear you ask, "Hey, buddy old pal... Could I borrow a few hundred bucks so that I can leave the country where you are and make it really difficult for you to collect it?" and then start shelling out the money. It'd be a very tough sell to even old friends. But I feel Wall Street should do this for me. Not just because of their corporate responsibility towards me, forget that and let's just think logically. I know when you get a large, segmented business and you try to mix reason and money this is hard to do but let's look at this for a second. Wall Street has already paid a couple hundred bucks for my medical checks and they've paid for the KITAS to get processed. I think that's a thousand or two. Not to mention all the time. If I can't find a loan and Wall Street doesn't pay I can't work. The company will have to hire someone else, maybe bring them over from another country and pay for a new visa and plane ticket. Paying for me to go to Korea for a month will actually SAVE them money!

He didn't think they'd see it that way so I said then how about just LENDING me the money. I'll be working here and they could just take the money out of my paychecks. So finally John agreed to talk to the higher-ups and see if they'd agree to help me out. That was the morning of my birthday. I waited all day on pins and needles for his reply.

My friend, Mr. Yoo, came over to take me out for a Korean feast on my birthday and a few beers. While we were discussing my situation I got the message from John saying that corporate had declined my request. Boy did THAT put a damper on the festivities!

So now I'm shopping around for a ticket to Korea. I found one on Air Asia that's going to be about 400 bucks. Including other travel expenses I need about 500 bucks. If I don't find it I will overstay my visa and forfeit my ability to work in this country. I will also be forced to find the money to allow them to deport me. Wall Street won't even LOAN me the money so that I can avoid this massive disaster and earn them whatever they would make from a year of my teaching. Where the hell did that corporate responsibility go? 10 months ago they were all appologetic offering me jobs and plane tickets and money... now they won't even give me 500 bucks to keep me out of jail. For a crime THEY committed. And this is Indonesian jail we're talking here.

I have friends I can stay with in Korea and borrow money from there. I think I'll be able to extremely reluctantly borrow the money from some friends to pay for the ticket. Believe it or not I STILL think that if Wall Street gets my KITAS and calls me back from Korea I will go because I have signed contracts and I don't break contracts. But MAN am I ever thinking hard about just staying in Korea now! The problem with that is I'm at least a month away from legal work in Korea because I need a criminal record check for that. The only work I could find in Korea for the next month would be illegal and that what I've been trying to avoid for the past year! Again, I can't for the life of me figure out why Wall Street won't help me out here knowing all of this. I'm starting to suspect that maybe THEY don't think my visa will be approved and they just don't have the stones to tell me. This is their amazingly irresponsible way of getting rid of me.

I've contacted the Canadian Embassy here and a couple other organizations that help Canadians overseas but they cannot intervene in issues of immigration, visas, national autonomy and so on and so forth. All they can do is ensure that I'm treated okay while I'm languishing in prison. A couple agencies, however, DID provide a list of lawyers here in Jakarta who deal with matters such as these. If I don't get my KITAS and go back to work for Wall Street, or maybe even if I do, they told me that I have legal recourse. I don't know if it would be worthwhile because it seldom is, but it might be something to look into. The problem I can forsee with THAT course of action would be that I can't afford a lawyer either. And if I could find one to work without pay, any settlement I might be able to get would most likely just be enough to cover his/her salary. This has been my experience with the law in Canada, never mind what might be the case over here! It would probably be handled the way things are handled over here. I'd most likely get hooked up with the law firm of Rush, Rush and Delay.

So that's what's going on now. What would my life, or this blog, be without all my travel drama?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sometimes I wish you would stop talking about freedom of speech

I get up early around here. Like around 8. To me that's early considering I don't have to get up for anything. I just bounce outta bed like when I was a kid wondering what the world had in store for me. The other day I got up, did some laundry, had some coffee, checked the hockey scores and watched a bit of the Canuck game. I started to get hungry and realized there was nothing in the house. So I decided to go down to Lotte Mart to get some groceries. I didn't realize what time it was. It was only 9:30 and Lotte Mart doesn't open till 10:00.

But I wasn't the only one. There were lots of people waiting outside the rolling, garage-type doors that were still closed. Most of the doors are just like horizontal bars so you can see what is going on inside. I expected to see people stocking shelves or mopping floors or readying the place for the customers. I was amazed by what I saw instead. Easily 100 employees lined up across the entire width of the store from entrance to entrance at the checkout counter floor standing there listening to some young, thin dudes. One was wearing a hip hop style oversized, flat brimmed ball cap, a tight tanktop and some kind of wrist scarf thingy. If he wasn't gay I'm Bill Gates. You know when you hear someone speaking a language and even though you may only understand one of every ten words, you can tell he's gay? There's regional accents, linguistic accents and then there's the gay accent. And intonation and exaggeratedly effeminate gesticulation. Anyway, I really didn't need the last four lines. I could have just said, he, and his cohorts, were aerobics instructors. There they were readying the troops for their morning dancing. A one and a two and a "players gonna play play play play and haters gonna hate hate hate hate, shake it off, I shake it off!" And almost all the hundred or so employees danced right along with these thin but muscly dance leaders. It wouldn't have been such a sight, I don't think, if it weren't for the hijabs. About 2/3 of the female employees were wearing the Lotte uniform and their Muslim headware and they were dancing right along with Taylor Swift and the Lotte wake-up beatboys.

While in Korea and Japan I had seen the morning rituals such as these designed not just to wake up the employees and get the blood flowing in the ones who stayed up too late or might be hungover. It's a sort of company membership exercise in which you can show your loyalty and probably be rewarded for doing so. But never with the hijab. I had heard that music and dancing were frowned upon by the religion of Islam. That they were idle pursuits. But there these gals were not just dancing but mouthing the words to the song as well. Having fun! And I enjoyed watching them.

On a similar note, today while walking home from teaching Ah In and Jooh Ah, I saw something even MORE shocking! I was going up a flight of stairs to get into the mall which my apartment is attached to and coming down the stairs was a young, Muslim chick with what I thought was an ingenius use for her hijab. She had her cell phone tucked into it and was blabbing away to someone totally hands free! Like this:

My point is I like to see people who believe in God. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I think even my atheist friends would agree. It's when you get dogmatic leaders who think that any variance, no matter how slight, in the religious routines is deterioration rather than adaptation. Those are the extremist creators. Those are the people who give religions bad names. People change. Times change. Cultures change. EVERYthing changes. Why can't religions change too? Well, they can. Do you know how even MORE messed up our world would be if all religions practiced the laws of their respective churches without ever changing? Here's an example: Football would be a different game. Christians are forbidden from eating or touching the flesh of pigs. Can't touch the pigskin. No post T.D. point to the heavens. Those guys would be playing some other sport. No kneeling in the endzone for a quick prayer after scoring either. No locker room pre-game prayer. No Teebowing! Hockey would be different too. There was a time when a mullet haircut was known as "hockey hair." But Christians are technically not supposed to round off the side growth of their hair. Whatever the heck that means. As I often am, I am reminded of the Simpsons. The episode where Burns hired major league ball players to play in the company softball game vs. Shelbyville. Burns keeps telling Don Mattingly he looks like a hippy and to get rid of his sideburns. Mattingly shaves both sides of his head but it still doesn't satisfy Burns so he kicks him off the team. Remember that one?

At any rate, there are crazy, old laws and rules in practically every religion. I'm glad the Muslims of Indonesia are not all dwelling in the distant past like some extremist would like them to. I'm glad, even though we can't see if they have "hella good hair" under their hijabs, at least those Muslim gals can shake shake shake shake it off, shake it off.

So anyhoo, the doors opened and most of the workers stayed at the front of the aisles. I went in the door by electronics so I had to go all the way across the store to get to the food. EVERY person said, "Salamat pagi," to me! Some bowed extra politely, most smiled. I was saying, "Salamat pagi. Salamat pagi. Good morning. Yeap pagi. Pagi. Pagi. Selamat pagi. Pagi...AAARRGGGHhh!" I just turned down any aisle so I could give these greeters the, ahem, shake. I headed for the beginning of the food. By coincidence, not design, the beer section is at the beginning of the food aisles to that's where I went first. I needed water and beer. But the beer was gone! Water was still there but the beer was gone! So I asked one of the freshly exercised, extraordinarily friendly workers in Indonesian where the beer was. She gave me directions to where I had just come from. I told her in Indonesian that there was no beer there. And, of course, we went to the beer section, which still had no beer and she was as confused as I. So she then said to me that there was no beer. They were fresh out. I had been in the store the day before and there was plenty. I knew they weren't out. She was just not into helping me as much as getting rid of me.

So I started thinking as I thanked her and continued on, that I had heard something about beer being removed from convenience stores like 7-11's and Indomaret and Alphamarts. Maybe this rule was being enforced in Lotte Marts too. But that turned out NOT to be the case. As I searched for a check-out till I saw the beer near the entrance at the spot where the huge line-up for cigarettes was. Indonesians are serious about their smoking. A cigarette company is the richest Indonesian owned company I think. You look around on the streets and you won't look long before you find someone crouched under a tree fiendishly enjoying a smoke. Or some old guys sitting at the table outside 7-11 sucking on some cigs. Their love for alcohol has been slower to develop, however, being unclean in the Muslim religion. But maybe now that it will be more closely associated with cigarettes it might encourage a little extra-religious experimentation. Probably not but maybe.

Anyhoo, where was I going with this? I got my groceries and got some beer and went home. Then I started to think a bit about history. Should we just forget it and move on, remember it and learn from it, or dwell in it? Then I got to thinking about what we have been conditioned by the media to label all willy nilly like, without checking our history, as "terrorism." Should we be calling the people we call terrorists "terrorists?" Or would that change if we threw a little historical perspective into the mix? In fact it's not always "history," I'd say in a lot of cases it's just, "a history," that would change the label somewhat. Maybe to "avengers" or "lynch mobs" or "insurrection squads" or something that still sounds bad but not totally evil. Because, let's face it, if your country was invaded by, let's say Canada, (ha ha), and the Canadians killed your family for no reason other than economics and extraction of natural resources that are the rightful property of the people of your country... then years later, even a generation or two later, you went to Canada, climbed out onto the edge of the CN Tower in Toronto and started throwing handfuls of change, (because you've been in Canada for a week now and you have about three tons of it), which accellerates to massive speeds before hitting innocent Canadians below killing them, would you be called a "terrorist?" You bet your ass you would! By Canadians and Canadian allies. But would you be? Are you committing a completely unprovoked act of violence? Terrorism?

Let me just say, I know you can't kill people that way, it's an old wivestale. It was, what I thought would be a poetic way to kill Canadians. I'd make a bad terrorist, what can I say?

Anyway, first, (and of course by "first" I mean after they killed you), the Canadian authorities and government would find out where you're from. "He's from Lupshevnia? Didn't we kill about a million people there for their shlubodinium deposits? Oh, that's right, 1.5 million. Oh it's coming back to me now. Shlubodinium is highly explosive. We didn't want to risk our expensive machinery and no normal miners would mine the stuff so we forced the Lupshevnians to extract it. The ones we didn't exterminate." Then the damage control begins. "Hello, media? I'll be your best friend if you don't run any references to the Canadian genocide in Lupshevnia for a little while. Oh, all right, I'll give you a million dollars." "Hello, America? I'll be your friend if you help us make an emotional stand against, just a sec... What are we making a stand against? Oh yeah... and emotional rally in support of the railroads of Canada." "No? Oh, all right I'll give you a billion dollars. Great! See you Thursday." "Okay, we'll put the story out that this crazed lunatic, with no provocation or justification, killed Canadians from the CN Tower to protest the CN, (Canadian National), railroad because there were some... what religion was he? Oh yeah... some 7th Day Adventists who worked on the railroad and were mistreated. Then on Thursday we'll get some fellow politicians and pay a handful of local bystanders to have a rally in support of the unification that came through joining the great people of this great country via the construction of the Canadian National Railroad. That oughta do it."

You might think this sort of thing doesn't actually happen, that I'm having a laugh and exaggerating here, but what do we know about the Charlie Hebdo killings? CH was a magazine that printed cartoons and articles mocking the Muslim religion. The "terrorists" were Muslim. Well it must be totally about religion then. Case closed. Religion all on its own is responsible for yet another attrocity in the world. I saw roundtables at the time on the BBC of supposedly smart fellows virtually parrotting this very line of reason. It was momentarily brought up that maybe, just maybe something in French foreign relations and foreign policies might have something to do with this event and the roundtable just said, "Nope. Absolutely impossible. Let's move on." And nobody but me smelled a rat. I was, I admit, wondering if the tragedy could have anything to do with French foreign interests before I saw the roundtable discussion but when these "experts" all agreed French international relations had nothing whatsoever to do with this event, about the only thing they agreed so absolutely about in the whole show, my bullshit metter was red lining.

I made the mistake of bringing it up with some of my atheist friends but was seen as a wet blanket thrown over the roaring fire of anti-religious rhetoric that was gaining ground worldwide at the time. Many people out there wanted religion, or more specifically, Islam, to be the culprit. So much so that it was easy for many important reasons behind the killing of the 17 CH employees to go with the shooters to their graves. There were a couple of things that were mentioned I thought without any of the gravity and "HEY-LISTEN-TO-THIS" that I thought they warranted. The major one was the nationality of the brothers. They were Algerian. At least that's where their parents were from. Look at the history between France and Algeria and you will see terrorism. You will see torture, attrocities, beheadings, attempted genocide, slavery, all of these things we hate committed by the French against the people of Algeria. Why? They just decided to move on into the country and use the land for cotton fields either killing the residents or forcing them to work the fields. This was not a million years ago either! 1830. There are records written by the French generals of the time talking about the only good "Arab," (as they called them), being a dead Arab. One guy said any French soldier who doesn't use the edge of his sword on every filthy Arab he sees will get the flat side of my sword. I'm paraphrasing but something like that. I read about the French trying to force the Muslims to renounce their faith or die. I even saw pictures of French attrocities against the Algerians. THIS, my friends, all done for cotton, the oil of the day, THIS was terrorism. I saw lots of information about how awful the French were to the Algerians during their struggle for independance from the French. I read that the number of people killed was somewhere between 350,000, (a number, not surprisingly, that the French accept as correct), and 1.2 million. Somewhere in between is the probable total but whatever it is, it's a far cry from 17! I read and I wondered... with all those people slaughtered, beheaded, enslaved, tortured, forced to renounce their religion and who knows what else, is it possible for any family from Algeria to have escaped the attrocities of the French altogether? Could any family make the claim that they have no relatives or loved ones that were harmed in any way by the French? I doubted it. Then I thought of the Charlie Hebdo killers. Do you suppose their parents had no stories to tell them about the French attrocities at that time?

I don't think that religion was just incidental and that the CH cartoons had nothing to do with it and that the CH attackers were not wrong for so many reasons for doing what they did, but I re-evaluated the term "terrorist," a little bit. Then I thought about the link to Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen. The fact is this whole thing was reportedly financed by a guy I have written about here before, who was imprisoned for 18 months without a charge, hearing, or any proper due process, radicalized by long-term solitary confinement and after release and involvement with Al-Qaeda in Yemen he was drone bombed again without a charge, a trial or any proof of anything. These are the things that create the mentality in extremist groups, along with personal experiences that are similar, that allow them to do such dispicable acts. The thing about most, "terrorists," is they are killed before the world gets to find out their list of motivations. Not a coincidence, that.

I think history, and past events too recent to be called history yet, should be studied and people should be made aware of the terrorism, the ACTUAL terrorism that has been routinely committed in the past, (and continues in the present), by rich countries against less powerful countries for their natural resources and we need to understand how that translates into the extremist actions that are erroneously called "terrorism." It plays no small part and it would seem almost too obvious to state but if we could put a stop to economic terrorism, which is more wide spread and dangerous than we know, these attrocities committed against rich countries that are immediately labeled as "terrorism" just might come to a stop as well. Too often, I believe, acts of violence are blamed on religion by the people who committed them or people who dislike religion and are readily convinced of its culpability. I'm not saying it never happens. Relax. What I'm saying is I wish we could get at all the causes of what we call "terrorism" nowadays and put a stop to them.

I bring it up because I am still seeing people talking about the Charlie Hebdo incident. Saying how religion is the enemy of freedom of speech. Yes, religion is part of some terrorism. Yes religion can limit freedom of speech. But sometimes I think we should try to concentrate on some of the many issues besides religion and freedom of speech involved in acts of extremism and terrorism around the world. Like shut up about freedom of speech already! We get you! (ar ar)

The Kenyan slaughter of 148 people at Garissa University: Yes, there were people asked if they are Christian and shot because of it so religion is definitely part of it but I really hope the authorities search for all the motivations. Al Shabaab are undoubtedly influenced by recent and historical violence in Somalia and the wide variety of areas the members come from too. Are they motivated solely by religion? Like did all the members find themselves reading the Koran one day then suddenly decide they need to commit extreme acts of violence? It seems to me there might be a step or two in between that turns them into such violent people. But violent people can sometimes be convinced to stop violent behaviour. Even after long traditions of it.

And if you say it could never happen, that people will never forget history, never move on or progress with the times, take a look at the top of this post. It can happen. It happens all the time actually. I think there are some people who just need some very VERY strong encouragement to change. And don't kid yourself, the people motivated by money and greed are the ones who will need the stronger encouregement. You can take THAT to the bank.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

You Are Here

I'll never forget the day I first went to the bus stop just down the road from where I lived with my brother Andy and family in Victoria. Langford to be exact. I was waiting to take the bus to a shift at my new job as a security guard working the 7 PM to 7 AM shift guarding two office buildings and the Save On Foods strip mall. I didn't have the usual experience with vagrancy or poverty-induced crime that one might expect as a bus station story. There was a map of Langford bus routes at this particular bus stop. On the map was a circled star marked, "You are here." On the sidewalk just outside the busdriver shack there was a corresponding circled star marked, "You are here." I saw the pavement circled star before the map circled star and it blew my mind!

"You are here." I remember at first standing there staring at the circled star at my feet and thinking something pretentious to myself, (how bad a person are you if you are self-pretentious?), like, "How existential!" Oh ho ho ho. "Pretentious? Moi?" I chuckled aloud at my rapist wit. (a little Dumb and Dumber to lower the brow of the humour)

But then, as I am wont to do at the beginning of what I am positive will be a long, long night guarding empty buildings and walking empty streets and parking lots, I pulled the starter chord on the old neurons and started hammering this thought around in my head like it was a raquetball... ball... and my skull was a court. "I AM HERE!" (Italics mine) "I'm not anywhere else as far as I know. I'm here. Now. Right here. Right now. And right now you should listen to Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo." Actually in the video, (for Van Hagar's "Right Now"), it says, "Right now you should pay attention to the lyrics." And the lyrics that followed, if I may, were, "Miss a beat, you lose the rhythm. And nothing falls into place. Only missed by a fraction. Slipped a little off your pace. The more things you get, the more you want. Just trade in one for another. Workin' so hard to make it easy. EASY! Woah! Got to turn, come on, turn this thing around right now! Hey, it's your tomorrow. Right now. Come on, it's everything. Right now. Catch that magic moment. Do it right here and now. It means everything."

Yeah! Inspiring! It DOES mean everything! "Why am I working this job I hate, for people I hate and sometimes WITH people I hate?" I thought. "Is THIS my tomorrow? I'm workin' hard but I'm getting 120 bucks for this shift while my boss is getting 5 grand! No matter how hard I work for a prick like that it won't get easy. It'll never get easy. In fact as the cost of living goes up and my salary doesn't, it's just going to get harder." And I was pretty sure being right there, right then I was not going to be catching any magic moments. It was not my tomorrow. I had missed a beat and lost the rhythm. So I turned that thing around and got outta there. Eventually I ended up in Indonesia. I really loved teaching English in Korea but I found myself shooting for a goal that was monetary there. I was making my fortune and not my future. I was pretty sure there were no fortunes to be made in Indonesia and sitting here with about 50 bucks to my name I can honestly say I'm back in the rhythm. Hoping things fall into place.

I also trust that writing will figure largely in my tomorrow. It's my real vocation. Teaching English just pays the bills. JUST pays the bills. This is my work on this earth. It certainly won't strap me with the burden of becoming acquisitive and wanting more and more stuff, replacing one thing with another! I just moved a couple weeks ago. In a taxi! One trip!

So the other day I had a sort of deja vu. I was standing on the streets of Jakarta looking down at my feet as though there were a circled star at them. There wasn't, but where I was and what I was doing right there and then got the old neurons firing. I was waiting to cross the street on the way home from teaching my two seven-year-olds Ah In and Joon Ah. They're so cute! Anyway, there was slow moving traffic stopping me from crossing but I noticed that it did nothing to dissuade the locals from crossing. They just threw up their hands in a combination sorry/thank you wave if the driver stopped, and head protection if the driver did not stop. I was determined to test a theory. Ghandi-like, I waited and waited receiving one odd look after another from the people who had taken their lives in their hands and crossed in front of me. I knew what those looks meant. They were aspectually, (is that a word?), informing me that I should just do what they had done because nobody was going to stop and wave me across. But I have high aspirations for the people of Indonesia. Some of the people of Indonesia might say they're too high, but I remained undaunted. I was determined to give some motorist the uplifting feeling of proffering kindness onto another raising his status from stranger to brother. I've been saying for blogs and blogs that we should all at least try to act more like brothers and less like competitors in this human race. I'll repeat: "Proffering kindness onto another raises his status from stranger to brother." What a wonderful world this would be if we all kept this in mind, no?

I waited and waited...

What does it say about yourself and your culture if you don't expect kindness from other people? Because you expect them to be too selfish to stop and let you cross the street, then catch up to traffic in a few seconds, essentially losing NO time at all on their trip but saving you some time on yours, you actually repay their selfishness with some of your own by jumping in front of them and forcing them to stop for you? Is this what the old pioneers and explorers termed, "unrefined," "uncivilized," even, "savage" behaviour in the people of newly visited lands?

What do we mean when we talk about "civilized" society? Are we talking about refined, well-mannered, well-educated, elegant, erudite, polished, urbane, sophisticated, intrepid, suave, debonair David Nivens or Catherine Hepburns? Or is it something else? Well ask yourself this: would David or Catherine ever jump out into traffic in order to cross a street or elbow their way to the front of a line-up? I submit to you that finishing school and proper breeding notwithstanding, pretty much anybody would do either under the right, (or more to the point, WRONG), circumstances. Would Catherine or David ever blow a fart in public? You fill them up with Indian food and trap them in an elevator I could see either of them lighting up a cigarette, (in a long holder of course), and saying, "I appologize profusely and preemptively for what I am about to do," before gracefully currifying the elevator air. Afterwards there might ensue a truly enlightening discourse on gastro-intestinal functions and their necessity to personal health and well being.

I waited some more...

I'd say it comes down to something as Harper-supporter simple as the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. There are variations of this in every culture and country. It's not a secret. Why then is practically the whole world pretending that the golden rule is "He who has the gold makes the rules?" Why are we working harder and harder for less and less? Isn't this exactly what our forefathers and foremothers worked and fought so hard to insure us against? The people I'm talking about ACTUALLY fought. In wars. Were they fighting for some abstract concept like freedom, justice, or the other crap we're told to think? No. They wanted their kids to have it easy. They figured that by now we'd have so much wealth that we'd all have VERY nice houses, several cars, swimming pools and such and all on the income of a single breadwinner working a 10 hour week. They were dead wrong! Weren't they? Well it turns out they were right on the money. There IS enough for us all to have the good life they worked and fought and died for. In America there's enough for every man woman and child to get over 200,000 a year. Imagine how much that's gonna be if there's only one breadwinner per family!

So what happened? Who highjacked the dreams of our forefathers and foremothers? I want to know why when I live in Canada, for which my ancestors worked and fought many years, why I have to work 7 PM to 7 AM for minimum wage. I'm educated. I'm a good worker. I'm smart. I want to know why I don't have the good life my ancestors earned for me. I want to know why the hell I don't have a swimming pool!!!

I continued waiting as the cars and motorbikes slowly passed.

I thought of Canada. In my country you can stand on a street and expect a motorist to kindly wave you across the street in front of them. In fact I think it's practically a law. At least it's understood and widespread driving etiquette in Canada to do this. Canadians must be a genteel and superior people!

After many years in Asia going back to Canada for a couple years, THIS was one of the hardest things for me to get used to. I would be walking and I'd have a road crossing carefully timed. Right after this car passes in front of me I'll have an opening and I'll make it easily. Then the car slows down and stops completely closing the opening and making other motorists stop on your account unnecesarily. And admit it, Canadian motorists, it may not be the human decency in your soul but actually the rule or the law that makes you stop and wave me across. And while I'm walking you may not say so but I can sense you thinking, "Come on, move it slowpoke! Knees and elbows! Get the lead out, I didn't stop so you could sashay across the street like you're on a catwalk. Yeah I'll wave back to you. You're welcome. You're welcome to hurry the hell up!"

But having said that, I still think it's a positive thing. Even though Canadians mostly do acts of kindness and gentility through force of law or convention, at least we're doing them. And before long we get used to doing them. And isn't that nice for everyone? I don't know how often I really took notice of the manners and courtesy, fake or genuine, that we have the luxury of practicing in Canada. I know they were more appreciated after many years in Asia. But this is not to say I believe Canadians are superior folk, (though I might hee hee), I believe it has a lot to do with one factor that Canada has going for it that most Asian nations don't: proper population density. I don't care what Apu Nehasapimapetilon thinks, ("I've noticed that America is dangerously underpopulated!"), Asian people need to put on a condom once in a while! TOO MANY PEOPLE! And one of the seemingly unavoidable biproducts of overpopulation is the rude, selfish, screw-everybody-but-me driving and walking styles. Is it self-preservation or are people just too lazy to practice common courtesy? Just look at the Chinese!

Oh, and by the way, Canada, take advantage of the common courtesy we have in our country now because discourteous walking, driving, (and other things), styles of other countries are some of the things we get with the massive immigration policies in Canada. What do you think will happen, Canadians will influence newcomers to walk and drive politely or Canadians will be influenced by newcomers to walk and drive like selfish madmen? I wonder if this Thai lady didn't eventually shove her way through to get her refund...

I waited some more. Then I waited some more...

I was at the Lotte Mart yesterday. Right in the mall where I live. It's SO convenient! I don't even have to go outside to get groceries! I went to get butter. That's all. Just butter. It's a far cry from what shopping was before I moved here! I'd make sure the cupboards were empty before shopping. Now I just go for a pound of butter. Half pound even!

So anyway, I see a check out counter with a pretty short line-up and start walking towards it. As I am doing so, a lady in the line-up for the check out counter right beside mine notices the short line. Then she notices me. I don't know if this Indonesian lady had ever played football in her life, probably not, but she was like a running back who saw a hole and she made straight for it like Tony Dorsett. I believe if I had not slowed my pace as she cut in front of me I would have receive a Walter Peyton stiff-arm too! So now I have to grumble under my breath and act like she hasn't committed an etiquette attrocity against my person, and she has to stand in front of me and pretend like she STILL doesn't know I exist. It could have gone differently. We could have met half way to the check out counter and one of us could have acted in a distinguished and unselfish manner offering the spot to the other. Then we could have engaged in conversation. We could have discovered that we both live in Gandaria Heights. Maybe we would have chatted about the facilities and our conversation may have come around to the gym. She would have mentioned that she works out and I would have mentioned tha I do too. We could have become exercise buddies, and, who knows, possibly long-time friends. One simple act of decorum is all that it required.

I was starting to get a little impatient, but waited some more...

I got to wondering how often social connections are sacrificed in modern society on the hollow altar of survival of the fittest. I thought of all the energy expended on the ratrace that we believe is just a sad fact of life but which is just a hamster wheel our owners have put into our cages so they can have the pleasure of watching us waste our time and energy while they get rich. Life doesn't have to be like this. We could have kindness, courtesy, brotherhood, genuine friendships with our neighbours and we could have to leisure time as well as the money to nourish those friendships. All we need to do is expend a fraction of the energy we use now eking out our livings, and put it into some national and international money and resource equitable re-dispersal. It would only take a few really determined and patient people to start a movement such as this. Funneling all the money to the very few people, the super rich, at the top of the capitalism ladder has made this world more stressful, selfish and UNcivilized. We do not behave as gentlemen and gentlewomen to each other as our ancestors wanted. We have progressed backward into a state of perpetual competition with even close friends. Our behaviour to each other is sickening, and it only feeds the very few at the top. Who are the people who will start the revolution we so desperately need? Who will civilize an uncivil civilization?

I jumped out in front of a car flailing my arms and forcing it to stop while saying aloud, "Bunch of savages," and I continued on my way home.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Permission for Sedition

I tried to take a vid of my new apartment and post it here but failed. Anyhoo, I'm now in my 6th place already in my 10 months in Jakarta. With any luck I'll be in number 7 within about a month. Hang Tua Hotel in Sudirman for 5 days. Gandaria Kost off Haji Nawi for a month and a bit. Then moved in with Matthew and Abbey in the same Kost but different unit. I think about 3 weeks I was there. Then I moved to a crappy Kost behind the Four Season Hotel in Kuningan. Two months I was there I think? Then I moved to the Gardenia Kost in Cipete in Herry's room, (201). Herry's family came to use the room so I moved down the hall into 209. And now I'm in the Gandaria Heights, which is attached directly to Gandaria City Mall. Hmmm so I guess this is my SEVENTH place! Crazy!

It's convenient though. I don't even have to walk outside to get to the mall! There's a health club and swimming pool I'll be able to use starting tonight. Mr. Jang has requested another access card for me. He's got Erna, the maid coming three times a week. And Mr. Jang pays her well. She's not one of those maids working for peanuts. She's nice. Washed my clothes without even asking me. Does the dishes. I'm loving it here!

Here I've been going to bed at decent times and getting up refreshed in the morning! Like 7 or 8 o'clock! Even though I don't have to! I can't wait till I get my passcard so I can put that energy to good use and get to the gym! I've exercised but haven't been to a gym in a long time. It'll be good to get into better shape. Then place number 8 will likely be something similar to this. I've heard that there's a good place right across from the place I'll be working. It's more pricey than I've been paying here, but I'll be gainfully and dependably employed so I'll probably splurge. It's got a gym and a pool too so I hope to carry on with a healthier lifestyle once I get working with Wall Street again.

Wow!!! How brainlessly positive is THIS post so far?! Why is it stupid for me to be positive? Well if you have to ask, you haven't been following. Probably what will happen is the apartment management will charge extra rent even though this is a two bedroom apartment and even though there are some two bedrooms with 4 people in them and their rent is lower. And probably the cleaning lady, who is already working the mother of all cleaning jobs in this country, will ask for more money now that she's cleaning for two. I've been washing my own dishes and cleaning my own laundry. Sweeping up and that. Actually doing some of Erna's work for her. But my experience with Indonesia so far tells me that she'll hit Mr. Jang up for more dough. He pays her 700 a month. That's the average price for maids over here. Actually I think it's a bit higher than average. But that's what they'd make in a big house with a family of 5 working 7 days a week! Mr. Jang only has her come in 3 days a week.

The apartment is probably paid for by Lotte, Mr. Jang's employer, so it might be harder to charge more rent now that he has a houseguest, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen. Maybe management won't actually do it but an enterprising, young clerk might sharpen her pencil and see if he can skim a little off the top.

"Oh Dave, you're so negative!" Not so! I'm just not a dummy though the world insists on treating me like one. Trying to give me an opinion through spurious arguments like "Anti-vaxxers are wrong or right." That's like saying "Animals are dangerous or not dangerous." There are many vaccinations and anyone who is trying to keep us from judging them on individual merit is trying to sell us something. Then you have these chowderheads who continually bombard us with the soundbites in the media calling terrorist actions unexpected, unwarranted, out of left field, cowardly and unprovoked, things like that. These are the people who think that continuous bombardment is the way to go and this is what they expect as their bomb recipints' reactions:
I watched the Canucks beat the number one team in hockey this morning, (winning goal by Kassian set up by Dan Hamhuis), and the TV commercials! I'm almost speechless. Or I guess, typeless? Unable to type anything about them I'm so gobsmacked. ALMOST unable, that is. An old couple getting tested for cholesterol and the old lady narrating, "We had high cholesterol. Then we went on a program of regular exercise, eating right and Perco-cell Margarine. Our cholesterol went way down! Thanks, Perco-cell!" It probably wasn't the margarine, you demented old bat! It might have had a little bit to do with eating fruit and veggies instead of triple fried potato chips dipped in bacon grease. It might have had something to do with the fact that now you work up a healthy sweat doing sit-ups and speed walking in the cool, bracing air instead of working up an UNhealthy sweat sitting up, taking speed and walking to the Frigidaire.

A generation or two have been efficiently mindscrubbed into obedient beliefs in the corporations represented on their computers, TV's and cellphones that the one and only factor in conditioning, body-type, weight, appearance, happiness and cholesterol is the wonderful products we consume. Products lovingly brought to us and our families by the caring people of Screw-corp. "Screw-corp, leave the thinking to us." Screw-corp products may cause internal hemorhagging, temporary or permanent blindness, anal leakage, uncontrollable flatulence, spontaneous combustion, hallucination, calciphication, transmogriphication, muscle atrophy, leprosy, wonky eye, nasal blockage, or death. But thanks to this disclaimer, if you try to sue us for any of these, you're screwed because, hey, we warned you... in microscopic print and impossibly fast talking.

And political ads... Are they any different? Politicians are always heroically "fighting" for us regular folks. Ever notice that? Fighting for us because certainly we don't have the strength, (or in the egotistical, swollen heads of the whole political lot, the brains), to fight our own battles. "We're fighting for your rights and freedoms, Canada!" Well that may be the case but I think the expression might be artistically ambiguous. What they are doing is fighting US so that they, (the monetarily advantaged), can have our rights and freedoms. And what will they do with them? Why, sell them, or even give them away when and where it is deemed to be financially advantageous.

Case in point:

"UP TO $2.25 per million litres!" And they're paying zip right now! Have been for who knows how many secretive years? This is your government "fighting" for you! Why do water corporations pay less for swimming pools full of water than that reporter paid for the bottle of water he's holding. And these are water corporations based in France, the U.S., I think Nestle Group is based in Switzerland. Yeah, right! Not neutral in the Water Wars are they?

Nestle paid $3.71 in Ontario and only backed down during drought time because of a court battle fought against them by Wellington Water Watchers, Ecojustice, and the Council of Canadians. THESE are the folks who are fighting for Canadians!

Look, if we're Canadians and we've been somehow convinced by these same people that because of arbitrary geographic birthplace, we are obligated to pay taxes for Canada, then, by golly, we should be getting a little return on the resources that are part of this land we rent! Take a look at the Alberta oilsands.

Look closely at the first paragraph. Norway assumes that the oil underneath Norway belongs to the people of Norway. Canada assumes that the oil in the oilsands belongs to the company that extracts it. Do the PEOPLE of Canada assume this? Hell no! It's the independant, backroom dealing, citizen-opposing "leadership" we have ended up with in Canada.

These are just a few things they do behind our backs to ruin Canada. Don't even get me started with the Great Canadian Real Estate Giveaway! Canadians pay 70% on real estate capital gains. Foreigners? Zilch. "They're too hard to track down." The list goes on and on! And as it does, it only gets easier for our Crime Minister to do these things.

It's a wonder Canadians own ANYthing in Canada! And if we do it won't be for long. The time has come for some sedition in Canada. The innumerable treasonous acts by government is virtual permission for it. In fact it's almost as if they're daring us! We need more than just small groups like Wellington Water Watchers, Ecojustice or the Council of Canada. We need Canadians to stop taking shit from the government, get organized and do something. Positive signs are showing. I actually have hope that Canadians can do it. I think from a strategic standpoint right now, we gotta piss off the women! Canadian women are scary when they're united and pissed off. That's what's gotta happen. Like the women of Iceland.
You think our Canadian gals aren't as tough? I got news for you:

We can do it, Canada! Refine the oil in Canada and create jobs that way. Stop with the dangerous pipelines. And put some of the wealth produced by that oil into Canadian pockets. Same with the water. Get Canadian conservationists to determine safe ways of selling it, and make the greedy corporations stop selling us our water at a million percent profit! Prove to the government and the world we are not as dumb as they think we are!

Then maybe next... the whole world!

March 12: Well, guess what! The maid hit Mr. Jang up for more money and today, 9 days after I moved into this apartment, after several attempts by both Mr. Yoo and myself, my access card actully works! They still haven't raised the rent though so I'm 1 for 2 on that call.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I Don't Dance As Much As I Oughta

I say this a lot, seldom with fondness, but it's an amazing age we live in! Isn't it? Maybe I'm getting a skewed impression of who the "we" in that statement are, having a predominantly finger and thumb social life. That means internet and text message. I hardly ever go out here nowadays to see the real folks. You know the ones at the pub who are all being genuine and sincere...

Or maybe I just see what I see and take more notice of cherished peeves when I should be accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative. It could be... But am I the only one who thinks there are more people interested in improving their selfies than themselves? Am I? Am I alone in sensing the hollow in the happiness of the kids out there today?

Maybe it's just age but I find myself holding back just a bit on the dance floor when I share it with the cathartic flailings of the youth of today. Put me out there with my generation and I'll scare people! It's only in part to do with the music. Maybe it's crap or maybe I haven't given it time enough to associate as many good memories with it, but I sense a sadness in more than the simplistic predictability of today's music. I am reading a reason for catharsis that is unique to our youngsters. Anyone else getting this?

When I'm at a function or an establishment where there is a dancefloor and someone's jam comes on I reckon I see in the younger crowd just a little bit more "FTW!" and a little bit less "aw, WTF?!" in their joyful gyrations. Now, I don't think this is to say that the younger generation is more socially conscious and less escapist than someone of my, um, vintage. But maybe a little angrier. And a bit less connected.

If this is the case or not, I'd have to say they have every right to be angrier at a long list of things that people get angry about. Politics, education, employment, cost of living, corporatism, corruption, the environment, society... again, maybe I'm old but I see pretty much every one of these things as worse than when I was a youngster. But that can't be said without qualification. What does one mean when, for example, one says that society has worsened? There are a thousand tangents this narrative could shoot off at from here! But let's stick with the music for a bit, shall we? I've heard that music is the only thing that opens up our entire brains. And unless you're doing the Macarena or copying a Korean back-up dancer and counting the poses carefully, dancing comes from the heart too. So it's a spiritual vs. secular thing and I think that is the direction I'm heading with this.

Was it just the melody, beat, lyrics and musical skill that made our favourite songs our favourite songs? How big a role does setting play in our love of certain songs? I mean if I were listening to the song while drinking an extra tasty underage beer by a campfire with good friends, or while kissing my first love for the first time, or while experiencing the freedom of cruising with a couple friends fully licenced and unsupervised in my very own piece of junk car, would I love that song more than if I had just heard it in my room all the time? In my opinion, yes. No, in my opinion, abso-frickin-lutely! I guess what I'm offering is a musical "Nature vs. Nurture" argument here. And I am of the opinion that we don't just like a song the same from its birth until the thousandth time we've heard it. Unless it's "Let It Go" and we are a 7-year-old girl.

A LOT of my favourite songs, even singers and groups, had to grow on me. I didn't like Rush for the longest time! I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was a random, disorganized cacophony of musical mistakes when I first heard it. Yeah, I know! Crazy! I don't think Bohemian Rhapsody became one of my all time favourite songs ONLY because I heard it in memorable situations. My musical taste refined as well. I don't even remember the first time I saw a woman's breast. Probably the first hundred times or thousand times it was pretty much, "Meh." Boy did THAT change with age and (im?)maturity! I think that happens with music too. But I also speculate that there is some positive association that figures largely in which songs make us want to cut a rug and which ones make us want to put that rug into a blender and turn it up to 11.

I can list memory and song pairings till the cows come home. Some of the memories are good, some bad. Some noteworthy, some only noteworthy to me. I remember one song I kept hearing at the funeral of one of my favourite people. It's still makes me want to rend my garments at the injustice of the world every time I hear it. But it's a favourite. Then there's another that makes me think of just sitting in the sun with one of my favourite people. Not doing anything special but just sitting there being together. Then there are entire albums that make me think of summer in Penticton or smoking pot in a friend's car. There's no doubt these experiences add to the tunes' dance-ability. And I am pretty sure I think of some memories associated with those really great songs when I get up and WAYIND ME BODDEE to them.

Maybe what I'm asking is, what memories run through the minds of the youth of today when they dance to their favourite songs? Again, being old, I guess I have more memories and experiences attached to the various songs I dig. Just by pure opportunity to do things over the years! I think of the bus ride back from a rugby game on the road when I hear certain ZZ Top songs, for instance. Ahhh I can almost smell the A5-35... What do the youngsters think about when they get up and get their freak on to, I dunno, Coldplay? I could be reading the youngsters all wrong but I just don't think there's as much of a variety or, dog-gone-it, a flair in what's going through their heads when they dance. And I think they know this and it makes them feel a bit gypped.

We're robbing young folks of all kinds of memory making opportunities that we had. Sports are not as popular; clubs are going out of style, in fact the word just means a place where people dance now; scouts and guides - dangerous; summer camp - dangerous, church - dangerous, outdoor activities - dangerous; swimming - dangerous; just hanging out with friends - unstructured and unsupervised - dangerous; fishing - could fall in; golfing - could get struck by lightning; driving around - could crash and besides with the price of gas these days... No I think you should just stay in the house. Then when we get older and out of the house, we're too busy obeying our NEW masters: bosses and employers. "I can't enjoy some freedom with you or make a memory because I have to work late tonight or get up early for work tomorrow."

This is just my opinion but I think a lot of our favourite songs have to do with two things: freedom and togetherness. That's what opens up our minds when we hear them and when we get funky TO them. Freedom from parental supervision and structure when we're very young, and enjoyment of our freedom from parental and other social structure and limitations when we're older. Freedom ain't worth nothin' but it's free. Freedom it was easier when Bobby sang the blues. Freedom it was good enough for me. Good enough for me and Bobby McGee. Freedom ain't any fun if you don't share it.

Take a look around you sometime and see if it isn't true what Joe Rogan says, "We're nerfin' the world!" How many things are done for our protection whether we want it or not? And we need to be paranoid of damn near everything for the people who want to nerf the world to get away with it. So we have people scaring us about everything from terrorists to tooth decay. The thing is, if anything, the world is much safer today than it has ever been! But we're allowing ourselves to get scared so that people can add to the freedom-sucking structuring of our world. Someday this message will probably be erased as our internet freedoms are further limited "for our protection." I don't know about you but this doesn't make ME feel like dancing that much. And the memories associated with modern songs aren't all that great. But occasionally, when I hear a song that brings me back to younger and freeeeer times, look out on the dance floor!

But how can we stop them from taking our internet, (freedom)? Who is "them" and who is "our" in that question? As all problems do, it eventually relates to money, greed, capitalism, competition and individualistic thinking. I don't believe there is any question that the younger generation has been more successfully trained to be sort of glass half empty. That's not the right metaphor. More like ocean almost totally empty. Because they're not as pessimistic as individualistic. Our youth are "educated" to see individual drops as more important and powerful than the giant oceans that billions and billions of them can create together. They spend far more time alone; they are encouraged NOT to share because sharing limits upward mobility; humility is not as respected a virtue but is now viewed as a weakness; kindness is stupidity; giving is wasting; and the corporate training of the younger generation continues unabated so that they will grow up, consume, contribute, succeed, and go to their graves with the impression that they have enriched the very planet that they have impoverished by their actions.

I believe "them" includes only a few people. The few who really run the show on this planet with their mentally unstable, spiritually bankrupt manipulation, secularization, and de-unification of everything that used to make up our societies and cultures. The "our" includes me, probably you and those herky-jerky dancers of the younger generation. You will notice one other commonality to all the examples I've cited and that is none are done alone. This is another thing I've noticed that has scared me. Some kids get out on that dancefloor and get down ALL BY THEMSELVES! That's a tragedy to me! Dancing is meant to be a shared joy. So many things are that these sorry youngsters now do all alone! Chatting online is not the same as hanging out with friends. Calling Gramma is not the same as visiting her. Virtual football is not the same as REAL football. Nowadays a good little human can probably live an entire life without doing a single thing unregulated or unsupervised. Can you imagine the kind of disjointed dance moves THAT poor sucker would have?

It is our responsibility, nay, our DUTY to go out right now and hug a teen. High five a youth. Make eye contact with a youngster. Encourage some togetherness. Share! I have no doubt any more, having seen it first hand in what I erroneously consider to be "poor" countries, that the happiness that surpasses anything we can find in the "developed" countries is almost entirely because they spend more quality social time with other people. And MAN can these people dance!!!

Having already admitted to living a finger and thumb existence here, I have to take my own advice! Though my moves are pretty solid, they could always use a little tweaking...

“You must have chaos within you, to give birth to a dancing star.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Friday the 13th Indonesian Style

As mentioned previously here in my blog, Indonesia has its annoyances. It's not different from any place in that way, the annoyances are just different. In Korea my friend, Korea Maria, just got back from vacation to find her electronic door lock out of batteries or electricity so she had to stay in a hotel. I wrote in my Korean blog years ago about moving ALL my stuff and arriving at my home, sweet home, only to find it locked and nobody around with a key, had to unload my stuff on the ground outside my door. Furniture, computer, stereo, clothes so that the truck could be returned on time. Then it rained. If I recall correctly I eventually kicked in the metal, back door. Just slowly bent it to smithereens so I could fit through then opened the actual door and moved my crap in. I think Scott was helping me. Yeah, Korea had its annoyances too.

Incidentally, I remember when Maria started at Chonnam University. I didn't realize this but, man, that was 19 years ago! Holy MOLY! I said to some of my friends at the time, "No way she's gonna last here." She is still in Korea. Boy was I wrong about her! Way to go Maria! Hope your door lock gets fixed and your landlord springs for partial hotel payment. PPPFFFFAAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA! I'm sorry. It's just impossible for me to envision any of MY Korean landlords doing something like that. Collectively they were to me one of the annoyances about Korea. Hope yours is better, Korea Maria. Like she's ever gonna read this...

Let's see here now, Maria's the one in the blue jacket looking strawberry blonde and bubbly. I'm the balding, bearded beefcake third from the left. What a great crew this was! I still keep in touch with some of them! Scott, right next to Maria looking dapper in pleated pants and polished pate, was the guy who helped me move and remains one of my best friends to this day.

But skip ahead 19 years... I've gotten used to small annoyances here in Indonesia. The internet being one of them is, as I type, it's cutting in an out bringing up the pink, "An error occurred while tying to save or publish your post. Please try again." message on Blogger. It's like a soothingly pink, flashing, Christmas light. Ahhhh, intermittent internet... so soothing! While Korea had a lot of annoyingly stupid things, like electronic doorlocks, that people mistakenly believed were superior technology, the internet there was above reproach! The providers were crooks, but the internet was BLAZING fast! I miss it a lot! I think my days on Earth will have all been worth it when I can look back at even these annoyances with fondness. I think I'll find enlightenment and be instantly vapourized and spirited up to Nirvana when I can deal with the kind of frustration chain that Fate hit me with today!

It all started on Thursday afternoon. I was over at Rica's place teaching her 5-year-old, Gabriel and she volunteered to help me buy a plane ticket for my latest visa run to Singapore. My 4th. Every two months since coming to Indonesia. Dang! That means I've been here 10 months already! Time sure flies! No, I'm not supposed to be teaching OR doing these visa runs every 2 months but I am sure nobody will read this who can bust me for it now. At any rate, she asked me when I wanted to go and I said as soon as possible so we looked at Friday, the next day. Then we looked at the calendar and I realized that Friday was Friday the 13th. Just to be safe I said I'd better not fly on Friday the 13th. Looking back now THAT was a silly thing to say. You'll see how silly...

Saturday was Valentine's Day and for some reason there were no good tickets for that day. Romantic travellers? Sunday I had to teach at my friend, Mr. Yoo's place and I didn't want to miss that. That's 2 hours and with the recent rash of cancellations from my various private students, I was in a tight spot financially. Sunday was the last day of paid classes for Mr. Yoo so I thought maybe he'd pay in advance for some more on Sunday. Then I'd have some spending money for Singapore, maybe buy a bottle of booze because it's cheaper than here in Indonesia, you know. Or just in case I had some trouble or extra expenses, it's always good to have a bit of extra dough.

So I chose Monday. Today. Well, since it's after midnight and this hellish day has come to an end, YESTERDAY. Rica got her employees to book me a ticket and she bought it with her credit card. This was surprising to me. I offered to pay for it but she said I could get her a bottle of perfume from the Singapore airport. It's the best place to buy it. So that instead of paying for the ticket. See, it hasn't been all bad. I have met some very nice people over here! Rica is awesome!

She knows that I can't easily buy tickets here for the same reason MANY of my annoyances are annoyances, because I don't have a KITAS, proper work visa. This is why it's illegal for me to be teaching, this is why I can't get a bank account, this is why I have been living for almost a year on the stuff I brought in two bags. Because I can't have my other belongings shipped without a KITAS. Oh they can be shipped, and I've paid for the shipment already, but when it gets to customs here they will not release it without my KITAS. Even WITH my KITAS I've been told to expect some shady shenanigans. They'll likely try to get a bit of a bribe. That's another of the annoyances of Indonesia. It's totally corrupt. But I've resigned myself to that as most people here have. In fact I was brought over by my original employer on a "business" visa, not a KITAS work visa. That was the genesis of all the misdealings and struggles I've had. And I didn't find out about it until just before flying here when it was too late to refuse on moral or legal grounds. I was assured that everybody does it and before too long I'd have the proper visa. Well it's been too long and I still don't have the proper visa. And 10 months of living illegally, being taken advantage of, working my ass off for below subsistance wages, being promised jobs and having them snatched away at the last minute, dealing with cancelling clients and the one stressor that has been the worst of them all: spending an eternity in Jakarta traffic in Jakarta taxis has taken its toll on me. I'm tired of this shit! I just want a steady job with regular hours and NO fucking taxi rides!

Well it's almost here. I've signed contracts with the people who brought me over here in the first place. See I had to leave my job there because the govenment busted them for bringing people over on "business" visas. I only worked there for two months. But now they have cleared things up with the government and they are re-hiring me AND negotiating me a proper KITAS. But it's taking a while. I signed contracts almost two months ago, had a physical examination, turned in all my paperwork and still no KITAS. I've been teaching my private classes and waiting patiently. Apparently the place where I got my physical exam is not reputable enough so the government may require a new one. That's where we stand now. So I had to renew my business visa once again.

So, Rica gets me a ticket for Monday the 16th. My last stamp was Dec. 16, two months ago. So I figure I'm good cuz the visa needs to be renewed every two months. I've GOT to stop saying that! It's actually NOT every two months, it's every 60 days. So, yeah, you know what's coming. At least you think you do, but you don't know the half of it. I go to the airport. It's usually a 130,000 rupiah taxi ride from my place. The price of gas has gone up so I was expecting a bit more. It cost me 170,000. That's about 17 Canadian bucks. Still pretty cheap for about an hour in a taxi. I check in and go to immigration and am promptly told that I have overstayed my visa. 60 days, not 2 months. So it's about 1:30 and my plane takes off at 2:30. I ask the guy what I have to do. He says it costs 300,000 per day and I've overstayed 3 days. I have about 500,000 in my wallet. Shit.

But, I had a friend of mine, Fitri, deposit some cash into my Canadian account for me last Wednesday. Again, no KITAS, no Indonesian account, so I have to get someone with an account to send money home for me, which is no mean task here. It takes a long time and is, for some unknown reason, a huge deal to Indonesian banks! Another frustration I deal with due to the lack of KITAS. Not to mention the people I rope into sending the money home for me. Fitri is a good friend and she's done it twice for me. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that! I need that to pay for my stuff in a storage locker in Victoria. My worldly belongings that I pay just over 100 bucks a month for. Nothing of great value but some stuff that is priceless to me.

So I go out of the airport and phone Fitri. No answer. Of course. Indonesian phones are as dependable as its internet. I don't know if her phone's working or if I can't reach her because the connection was dropped or what. So I try Devon, her hubby. He answers. So I ask if the money was deposited. He says yes. So I haven't got much choice. I need to pay the fine. I can always put in more later to pay my storage fees. Maybe hit Fitri up to do that one more time. Ugh. Nobody likes doing that and I hate to ask people to do it! But anyway, I go to the cash machine and am unable to get anything. Some machines here work and some don't. Another annoyance. So I try three or four of them but can't get anything from my account. It's half an hour till take-off and I can't get through customs. I call a couple people and gripe to them about my situation and receive an offer from my student Mr. Yoo to help out. Incidentally, Mr. Yoo was golfing on Sunday so he didn't pay me in advance like I was hoping. Otherwise I could have been out of this mess I was in. So Mr. Yoo offers to help me out if he can the next morning. By this time I had given up on flying Monday anyway.

So I decided I'd have to take Mr. Yoo's offer. So now I have to see what I can do, if anything, with my tickets. I have one from Jakarta to Singapore that was only about 40 bucks and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do much with that since it's now almost in the air, but I might be able to get rid of the ticket from Singapore to Jakarta, which is Monday night and cost almost 100 bucks. I know, it's weird that one way would be such a different price than the other. Just part of the charm of Indonesia. Not the last time I'd deal with this odd phenomenon on this day either.

I go to the appropriate counter and ask if I can give back my tickets. The guy says no. I ask if there's anyone on standby who might want them. He says no. The flight is not full. I have yet to be on a flight to or from Singapore, especially a 40-dollar flight, that is not full. Like every other airline in the world, Air Asia sold MY ticket again, no doubt. But then I asked about my return flight, which was also Air Asia. He said the same thing. Here's the amazing part: he had no computer in front of him, he was not speaking from any position of up-to-date knowledge about the flights, he was just standing there being a dick. I wonder if I gave HIM a cut of the refund whether or not he would have gone for it. Indonesia!

So there's about $140.00 down the drain. Doesn't sound like much but in this little hiatus between jobs it IS a lot to me! So I now have to get home from the airport. It's about 3 PM so I should be able to just miss the evening rush hour. I get an Express taxi from a guy wearing an Express taxi uniform driven by a guy wearing and Express Taxi uniform with an Express Taxi licence prominently displayed on the dash of the car. I had taken an Express taxi to the airport. We hit a little traffic but nothing too major at around noon. The same went for the trip home. Nothing major in the way of traffic. Oddly, the bill was 285,000 rupiah. It took the same length of time, same route, same taxi, same time but was WAY more expensive! Now it's the difference between 17 and 29 dollars. Not a big deal but, again, in these lean times for me every buck counts. So I argued with the driver and told him his meter was broken. I have had an endless string of taxi scams since I've been here and they are really old. The guy who misses turns faking like he can't understand when you tell him to turn; the guy who has no change; the guy who, (and I'm not making this up), doesn't know how to get to the airport... but I usually don't bother arguing because they're cheap. A gozillion times cheaper than Canada. One of Canada's major annoyances. But this time I was in just the mood to challenge this bastard. I called my former student, who is a police officer, and told him what was up. I explained the whole situation to him and let him talk to the driver. He told me he thought the driver was legit. I guess he was, to be fair, he was running a legitimate Indonesian con. And I don't think for a minute that my police officer friend got his big house and riches by fighting corruption either. Just one more of the annoyances of this country. You can't get away from it.

So I get home with almost nothing left in my wallet, walk up the stairs and into the door and see a sign on it. It says rent is going up March 1st. Then I get into my room and figure I'll surf the internet. No internet. So I go out to the store to get some bread and milk. Meanwhile I call Fitri to fill her in on the wonderful day of mine. Just as I get back from the store our call is cut short. I'm out of pulsa. That's what they call phone minutes here. I buy pulsa at the store I had just come from. Ahh screw it, I'm going to eat some spaghetti, watch some TV, (offline), and relax in my cool apartment. I get the remote to turn on the air conditioner and press the power button. Nothing happens. Just like Korea Maria's electronic door lock, the air conditioner in my room has no manual controls. If you can't start it with the remote, you're screwed. It happened once before because the batteries in the remote were dead. This time the batteries were fine. The air conditioner is just not working. And on just the day I needed to cool off a little bit!

The cherry on top of the shit sundae this Monday was? The reason I'm up right now at, by golly it's 3 AM! I think I feel a tickle in my throat. Lean times. Fruit is expensive. Haven't been getting my vitimin C.

Well I had better try to get some sweaty shut-eye. Tomorrow, well today, is another day. I sure hope it's a better one! Flying with a cold. It has been a while since my last travel snafu. How I missed my travel trials and tribulations! Ha ha ha. Nope. Not vapourized. I can't get away with faking enlightenment. I actually didn't miss this kind of thing and really wouldn't mind at all if it never happened again.

It's now Thursday. I am back in Indonesia and got my business visa stamped for another SIXTY DAYS. But it was no picnic, lemme tell you. The immigration guy gave me a grilling! Made sure everybody heard him say that I wasn't supposed to be working on the visa I have. I assured him I was doing nothing of the sort! I have been looking for work, signing contracts, getting medical exams and such. Anyway, now I'm gonna HAVE to get my KITAS in the next 2 months or just move on.

I woke up early in the morning Tuesday. (I went to bed after writing the above and got a few hours of sleep). I met Mr. Yoo at his office and he gave me some money. Of course it was pouring rain so I stood waiting for a taxi for about 40 minutes then the trip, which is normally 20 minutes, took an hour because of rainstorm traffic. But I got there and whined about all my bad luck. He knows the kind of bad luck I've been having and says that in Korea they believe that means you are due for some good luck. Well, if they had lottery here I'd buy a ticket. Actually it was very good luck I had a friend like Mr. Yoo who showed some concern for me in my plight. More than I can say about others...

We checked out some flights and prices and one of his staff called and the airline told her I needed to purchase my ticket at the airport. So I got into a taxi and asked the guy how much it would be to the airport. He said about 170,000 so I agreed. It was actually a bit cheaper. I went to Air Asia and their ticket was going to be 1.2 million. I went to Lion and in the time it had taken me to get to the airport the price of the Lion Air ticket had gone DOWN! I was shocked! I got it for a little less than a million. Well THIS day was starting off a whole lot better!

I checked in and went to immigration. Sure enough the guy made me pay 1.2 million even though I had TRIED to leave the day before when my overstay was only 3 days and 900,000. I showed him my tickets, even explained myself in, (broken), Indonesian. I had him laughing a little bit too but he was immovable. So the ticket in actuality cost me about 3.5 mil. $350.00 Not terrible but it should have been half that.

So anyway, the rain stopped just as we took off. It wasn't raining in Singapore either. The flights were great. I found everything I wanted in the wonderful Singapore airport including a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. In fact I had TWO Quarter Pounders with Cheese. That's one Half Pounder with Cheese. While eating I thought to myself how so often the few impose their will upon the many. Why don't they have a Quarter Pounder and a Quarter Pounder withOUT Cheese? Who eats them without cheese? Dieters? Lactose intolerant? Well okay that's fine but because that's only one in every 100 Quarter Pounders, why not make THOSE folks do the extra work during ordering? Why do the 99 people have to go to the trouble of ordering a Quarter Pounder WITH CHEESE? It's a whacky world! In MY world a Quarter Pounder HAS cheese, baby!

Anyway, I was starting to feel that cold kicking in. The nose was running a bit and a cough was developing. So I bought some aspirin and some vitamin C chewables. Shoulda bought some cough medicine but wasn't thinking. The plane ride back was a bit painful. Ever try to pop your ears when you're developing a headcold? I could hardly hear a thing by the end of the flight and was actually plugging my nose and blowing air into my head to unplug my ears. It works but I've heard it's not a good thing to do.

I took the bus from the airport to Block M, which is close to my house. Then a short taxi ride home. 70,000! Saved 100 grand! Only problem was the flight was delayed and the bus was delayed. I didn't get home till 3:00. And by then I was in full on cold mode. I hardly slept at all because I was up every 5 minutes to cough and blow my nose. The whole next two days were like that. (Wednesday and Thursday)

It's 11 PM Thursday night as I type this. Today I found out the reason for the hike in rent. Everybody got a bigger TV. Yay. I have yet to use the TV in my room, small or big, but, yay. I have eaten one bowl of noodles and one box of macaroni and cheese since my Half Pounder. That's starvation for me!!! I have no idea how but every muscle in my torso is aching from coughing so much. I sneeze every now and then and hurt myself so bad it scares away the second sneeze. I get sleep maybe 10 minutes at a time. I've postponed meetings and classes. I think the worst is over though and I'll be able to get back to business tomorrow.

So the way I see all this is it happened because of Friday the 13th. Not ON Friday the 13th but because I didn't fly on Friday the 13th it got me. So now I don't know what to do. Avoid doing things on Friday the 13th or NOT avoid doing things on Friday the 13th. Or maybe there's just nothing we can do! Chook chook chook chook aaah aaah aaah aaah. Creepy music.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vaxers Vexed by Vaccuous Antivaxers

I'm not here to tell you I have done all the research on this or that this side is right or the other side is wrong. But I do have a few points to bring up that concern me.

1. Vaccinations are expensive. Wouldn't you rather have no measles than measles? And how much would you pay for that? I'd say the vaccinations are worth the price we pay. Before coming to Indonesia I got a physical and some vaccinations. The physical wasn't too expensive but the vaccinations were over 600 bucks. But who's to say they haven't already saved me from coming down with something? I dunno. What I DO know is there is a lot of suspicious behaviour involved in this very public "debate" we have going on right now. And if there is one inalienable fact I have learned from life it's this: where there is money to be made, there is suspicious behaviour. In general I'm talking about lying, cheating, stealing, you know, the Greed triplets, but in the case of vaccinations I'm talking about other behaviour too. For instance, I can't be the only person who has noticed how all vaccinations have now been grouped into one category so no longer can a person have a problem with one of them without being accused of having a problem with them all. You don't like the sistotalcrunella vaccine? GET THEE BEHIND ME, ANTIVAXER!!! It's an old, old schoolyard argument ploy that makes legitimate beefs about questionable, new, not fully tested vaccines bayud... mmkay, while making people who have never heard of sistotalcrunella, can't pronounce it, don't even know it's a made up word, defend it like hissing, spitting, cornered wolverines.

Big pharma is guilty of a lot of suspicious behaviour. They've been tried, found guilty and fined for misinforming people who take their drugs. The motive was money, so the punishment was fines, sometimes in the billions of dollars. Companies like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are examples of huge companies that have been busted and fined for huge amounts. Here's an article with more detail. The following is a list of misconduct filed against the pharmaceutical giant Merck by some former employees turned whistleblowers: "failed to disclose that its mumps vaccine was not as effective as Merck represented, (ii) used improper testing techniques, (iii) manipulated testing methodology, (iv) abandoned undesirable test results, (v) falsified test data, (vi) failed to adequately investigate and report the diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine, (vii) falsely verified that each manufacturing lot of mumps vaccine would be as effective as identified in the labeling, (viii) falsely certified the accuracy of applications filed with the FDA, (ix) falsely certified compliance with the terms of the CDC purchase contract, (x) engaged in the fraud and concealment describe herein for the purpose of illegally monopolizing the U.S. market for mumps vaccine, (xi) mislabeled, misbranded, and falsely certified its mumps vaccine, and (xii) engaged in the other acts described herein to conceal the diminished efficacy of the vaccine the government was purchasing."

If you will just look at X for a moment. Money. That's what it comes down to. And how can you blame pharmaceutical companies for doing what is encouraged, nay DEMANDED in all industry nowadays? Because we are shooting their product into our veins? Well then maybe we shouldn't have drug companies in charge of manufacturing these multi-billion dollar products. We should let the government take care of vaccinations because we all know the government will handle things more ethically and efficiently don't we? (DANGER: Sarcasm meter in the red. DANGER)

So you see the problem. On the one hand measles, mumps, rubella, polio, all kinds of diseases have been successfully suppressed by widespread vaccination. It works! On the other hand, Big Pharma lies. It's absurd to ask anyone to believe that "THIS time they're not lying even though they've lied almost every time in the past, made billions of dollars from it, haven't listed the ingredients on the syrum in that syringe the nurse is brandishing... Come on, coward, spike up! Or are you an ANTIVAXER?"

I recently started watching a TV show I've never seen before: "The West Wing." I don't know how I could have neglected such a good show for so long. Maybe my hatred of politics. Anyway, I've watched three episodes and in the second episode, (I think it was), POTUS gets a flu shot. He asks the doctor, "What is that?" The doctor says, "It's a flu shot." The President replies, "I don't need a flu shot." Then the most widespread and compelling argument for the flu shot I've heard so far is employed by the President's doctor, "You DO need a flu shot!" and he jabs him in the arm. "How do I know this isn't the start of a military coup?" asks the Prez. Well? Who's right, the doctor or the President? We're just supposed to put our complete trust in doctors? Like they never lie and are never bought by pharmaceutical companies? It's an awful lot to ask the average person to do. Although we do it safely a lot, who knows what is in that needle THIS time?

2. Vaccines are patented. I think of Jonas Salk who made the selfless gesture to all of mankind of NOT patenting his Polio vaccine. In an interview with Edward R. Murrow he famously asked, "Would you patent the sun?" Well knowledge can be a big bummer sometimes! It turns out that Salk may not be such a wonderful human being. The patent on his Polio vaccine actually was attempted unsuccessfully, but pretend I didn't say that, let's consider him a hero and his heroic statement for a while, shall we? Would this be a solution?

An awful lot of the problems with medicine are created by companies racing for patents. They are more likely to see the drugs as fully researched and safe if there is a rival company testing a similar drug and nearing a patent for it. NO! Would I suggest that scientists are sometimes influenced by money? Well, no, I'd say they, unfortunately, are almost ALWAYS influenced by money. Patent or perish. No matter how hard you try to preach ethics in science, there are grants available to people who work fast.

According to Howard K. Schachman, science has gone from "Publish or Perish" to "Patent and Prosper." Here is a very long but enlightening article written by a person who is an authority in the area. He goes through his extensive career in science and outlines the ways that money has changed the way scientific study is approached. Like I have often bemoaned here on my blog, Schachman also believes that scientists nowadays steer clear of looking into topics that have not been shown preference by science, (i.e. have not received funding for research), in the past. Therefore science has stagnated into a discipline in which a few areas are exhaustively over-researched and potentially ground-breaking areas are neglected due to lack of funding. Like the Aether and Matrix of Matter, (see previous post).

Since every aspiring scientist knows what's hot and what's not it has become such a cinch to write papers that the peer reviewers are being bombarded. This leads to the inevitable shortcuts such as giving more consideration to things like where the paper was published, the past publications and citations of the author, even the weight of the paper, rather than the content. To give some idea of how illegitimate the peer review process in science has become consider the gibberish generating program named SCIgen. This computer program has actually had 120 papers consisting of total gibberish PUBLISHED by peer reviewed scientific journals. In relevance the pseudo scientist under whose name these papers were submitted, Ike Antkare, was ranked number 21 by Google Scholar. Albert Einstein is ranked number 36.

So in 1980, based on a ludicrous cattle farming analogy in the paper, "The Tragedy of the Commons," by Garrett Hardin, the Bayh-Doyle Act was passed allowing patenting of medicines. Ostensibly when cattle are allowed to graze anywhere they want, the grass in their area will eventually be overgrazed. Ignoring the practice employed by even the most inept of cattle farmers of sectioning off land to allow for grass to grow in one area while another is grazed, Garrett Hardin extrapolated this weak analogy of bovine behaviour to humans and came up with the mantra of, "What was available to all was available to none." Along with being a justification for a helluva lot of greed, this lead to the commercialization of research and patenting. There is absolutely no application of this farming analogy to drug research and production. If the drug business were left open to all, would the supply of drugs just get used up? It's obscenely flawed logic but capitalism and greed don't usually depend on solid logic. Nor do the lawmakers who were no doubt influenced by lobbyists with fat wallets. Sausage and laws: two thing you don't want to know how they're made. THIS was in the West Wing too!

At any rate, share the profits of your newly developed drugs with the researchers and you have just compromised the standards and ethics of the entire process. This is what we have today. Numerous conflicts of interest have arisen when universities and drug researchers literally become too invested in their research. And the "Tragedy of the Anticommons" has also come into being. In raising the question whether patents can deter innovation, Heller and Eisenberg refer to the “Tragedy of the Anticommons” when “a proliferation of intellectual property rights upstream may be stifling life-saving innovations downstream in the course of research and product development.” Like so many things in our world, medical science has been diminished by the introduction of corporate thinking. Is it any wonder people, including antivaxers, don't trust anyone in the medical profession to be pumping anything into their bodies?

3. Vaccines fail. People who've been vaccinated against something get that thing. A lot. For example the flu shots every year have to include 2 or 3 strains of the flu that are most likely to be the big ones. Sometimes a new strain is dominant and the flu shot guessers didn't include it in the shots for that flu season so there's a huge flu epidemic. It happens. How often? You can find pretty believable people who would go from 0 all the way to 100%. It's absolutely mind blowing how there are completely contradictory speeches and papers by knowledgeable people constantly popping up. Who the hell are we supposed to believe??? I am inclined to say, "Follow the money," and it would seem the vaxers have more of that to gain here, but I'm just not sure. Apparently, as the Merck stats show, there's a lot of money to be made from class action lawsuits against drug companies too. Depending on the day, I can surf the internet and see the points of vaxers and say, "Look, you can't deny that a short time ago millions of people were contracting measles every year and thousands were coming down with complications like brain swelling that actually killed them. Then after measles vaccinations maybe 100 people got them and none died. This is awfully compelling evidence that we should all vax! No?"

The very next day I can listen to a talk by some medical doctor about how new, not fully tested vaccinations are being released and pushed by drug companies onto the public who are no more than human guinea pigs. And formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury, all kinds of crap in vaccinations is bad for us. Compelling evidence for the antivaxers. No?

But scroll up, waaaay up. This is only because of the phenomenon I talked about at the very outset of this post. The old, old, schoolyard argument ploy. Measles and flu vaccinations are not the same. Diptheria and smallpox vaccines are not the same. Ebola and sistotalcrunella vaccines are not the same. DUMMY! Give your head a shake! Why would any clear-headed person get all riled up at the behest of people who were grouping any two, or any others, together? It's just lazy logic! The truth of this whole controversy would probably be easily arrived at if not for the strong emotions and downright name calling, threatening, life-or-death allegiances people have wrongfully established with one side or the other. So that when the truth finally comes out, these people who have totally committed are either going to feel like dipshits or do the human thing: keep on fighting even though they KNOW they're wrong. I'm not convinced that this is not the case already. Either way if you are against all vaccinations, you're probably wrong and if you are FOR all vaccinations, you're probably wrong. What's wrong with weighing them all individually on their merits? Like logical people! "I don't like Oreos." "Cookie hater!" "I love Chips Ahoy!" "Yeah I like all cookies too." HOW STUPID ARE WE???

That said, I'm inclined to believe the medical doctors I've seen talking about how bypassing your natural immune system, which is what vaccines do, is gonna hurt in the long run. I have searched and searched for doctors who are defending vaccinations but they are much harder to find. This is simply because vaccinations have been removed from the curriculum. Just another thing that the chosen direction of science has bypassed. And there is likely a reason for it. My guess is the multi-billion dollar industry that vaccinations represent is something science wants to keep the youngsters, (and oldsters), motivated.

Oh I get my vaccinations for polio and measles and rubella, (which I think is German Measles although it doesn't sound like a German word. Sounds Italian. Like a pasta. Rubella con funghilli. (Rubella with mushroooms)) I'm not sure about the con. Does that mean with? I digress. But I'm still more than a little skeptical about some other vaccinations that people are pressuring other people into taking. I certainly don't think anything but an exhaustively tested and safe vaxination should be mandatory! I really don't think I'm expressing that Earth-shattering a point of view here either. But I have two distinct advantages over people who are witnessing the hostility between vaxers and antivaxers right now. 1. I have no wife, no kids, no church, no clubs, no boss, no responsibilities that make me afraid to express my balls out, actual opinion! I'm the least subjective person you're likely to ever meet! Right now anyway. 2. I have a TON of free time on my hands which I have been using to research all kinds of little topics such as this to make my blog more interesting for the 3 people who read it. 3. As mentioned in 1. I am objective and if you find any flaws in this reason PLEASE let me know! I just might change my mind and/or write another blog post outlining it.

So there you have it. As I said at the beginning, this is not written in defence of either side of the vaccine argument, but it is, hopefully, a call to reason for both sides. I don't think either side is right. But both have good points so they're not wrong either. This should not be so hard to reconcile given the many MANY vaccines there are out there. My final word is, think a little more reasonably, BOTH sides, and maybe we'll get this thing figured out.

For what it's worth, in episode 10, (I think), of The West Wing, the President gets the flu.