Adults have spare cash

Several recent incidents had me pulling my diminishing hair out in quiet fury.

A colleague shat herself at work and demanded that someone clean her up and change her.

Well, not quite.  But something like that.

Okay, so a colleague’s car broke down and the repairs would take about a week and cost around USD $1,000.

SHE HAD TO BORROW THE MONEY FROM HER MUM.

I should clarify, this is a person about ten years older than myself with a comparable income.  We are not poor.  In fact, the cost of living here is so low that I find it possible to save about half my salary.  Why the cash flow problem?

And then there was a carbon copy situation a little while later.  A colleague bought some furniture, white goods and so on from me as I was leaving the country and was having a fire sale.  The total was about USD $800.

HE TOLD ME HE COULD GIVE ME THE MONEY ON PAY DAY.

Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t care about waiting three weeks for a bit of money.  No skin off my beak.  Rather, what makes me grind me teeth is that these adults, who have been gainfully employed for many years, have such poor financial skills.  These are not enormous amounts we’re talking about.  Such unexpected expenses are quite predictable – we don’t know what they will be, but we know that they will be.

Defining exactly how much readily available cash an adult ought to have is a piece of string question, but surely a thousand shmakeroonies would be an absolute bare minimum.

If you’re already on my side then bear with me as I explain this to the slower kids: what would happen if you lost your job tomorrow?  How long could you pay rent and bills without resort to mumsie or the public boob?  I would suggest to you that a reasonable period might be around six months, which would hopefully be enough time to find a new job.  Personally I could get by for a year before needing to crack open my long term investments.

An adult should not have to depend on others or hang out until pay day for life’s ordinary slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  One should have a rainy day fund such that you just groan when these events occur, cough up, and get on with your life.

I find it strange that people have retirement plans but no cash in an emergency fund.  Surely the latter should be the higher priority.  There’s no point having millions locked up in superannuation if a tree falls on your roof.

None of the above constitutes financial advice.  Readers should seek their own, independent advice from a qualified professional before making any investments.  If you follow the advice of some dickhead blogger you will end up the fourth wife of a toothless Arab.

Tuning Out

I lived for two years in a remote village in rural Japan.  There was no free-to-air TV reception.  If I wanted TV and internet the cable connection would cost ¥3000 a month so I chose not to bother.

I am a cheap bastard.

I briefly checked news headlines and my email every couple of days on a shared computer at work, and I borrowed 80s anime DVDs from the local video library.  That was the totality of my connection.

Life was zen.  I worried little about the world’s problems because I heard little about them.  The 2008 financial crisis swept past me like an autumn breeze through an ancient cedar.  I noticed a few headlines and thought, hmm, that’s a pity, and forgot about it.  I didn’t constantly check my investments because I couldn’t, and I wasn’t panicked anyway because I didn’t know that everyone else was.  I now know my funds must have lost about a third of their value and then gradually clawed it back.  Best not to think too much about these things.

Once I was back in civilization and got a smartphone I found I could waste a lot of time overreading news and blogs.  This is my main challenge in terms of self-control.

On the other hand, I didn’t hear about some big developments and opportunities.  I missed out on the big money with Bitcoin.  I only encountered the Manosphere in 2009 – I could have done with that wisdom earlier.  I would also have benefited from easier access to information about training, nutrition, home remedies for minor ailments and other things.  There’s also a noticeable gap in my knowledge of world events around that time –  I’m normally one of those annoying bastards who reads all the news religiously and has an opinion on everything.

I think of this now because by the time you read this I will be even more disconnected.  I will be quite chilled about the disasters taking place around the world but will be dreadfully uninformed about useful things.

Anyway, here’s a clip that you have the bandwidth to play and I don’t.  Enjoy.

What do women do?

Have you ever been on a date?

Yeah, me too!

If you’re gainfully employed like I am then you’ll agree the biggest difficulty is not cost, but time.

Weekdays are right out.  I rise in the dark, run or lift, work, cook, read a few pages and fall unconscious until an hour before the following dawn.  If I want to scratch my arse during the week I have to schedule Read More

A Cure for Narcissism

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Image credit: detail from Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse

Everything is fashioned for other people’s eyes.

Our hair.

Our tweets.

Our photos.

Our blog posts.

Our status updates and likes.

Even the things we do are done with a view to informing others that we did them.

Yah, I spent time in India.  So amazing.  Yah yah, I climbed Mount Kinabalu.  I saw Trump.  I ate fugu.  I took ayahuasca, the proper way and all.  I read Ulysses.  I started doing arse to grass squats.  Heavy, man.  I wrote a book.  I went to a rally.  I fucked a pretty girl on the first date.

Who cares?  More importantly, do you care?  And, how would you know?

A suggestion: Keep your Read More

Into the Heart of Darkness

As mentioned earlier, I am going to disappear for a while.  I am moving to Darkest Africa, where limited internet bandwidth and poor smoke signal visibility will mean that I will be unable to access WordPress.

But it will not look like it!  Using the magic of scheduling, pre-written posts will appear automatically each Monday just as though everything is normal, even though savages will be tearing strips of flesh from my face at the very same time you are reading my scintillating anecdote about my awkward date with a Korean midget who I didn’t know was a midget until I met her in real life.

I will not be around to respond to comments.  Well I will eventually, once I’ve gotten out and put band-aids on each of my AK-47 wounds and hyena bites.  I’ll try to check in a few times a year.

Behave yourselves.

Put the Giant Back to Bed

Just after 9/11, I went to a birthday party where everyone was understandably muted.  We young men discussed what might happen next and considered the possibility of being drafted to whatever war was about to erupt.

War, we all agreed, was a certainty.  “They’ve woken the giant,” concluded one chap, shaking his head.  “They’ve woken the giant.”

The giant awoke and attacked Afghanistan, entirely missing Osama Bin Laden who had apparently legged it to Pakistan.  Instead of turning the general area where the attack came from into a lake, the giant tried to turn that savage and ungovernable land into a thriving liberal democracy.  Then it got distracted by an unrelated war in Iraq, whose underlying motivations remain opaque.  And both conflicts evolved and will drag on well into the foreseeable future.  And then there’s Libya and Syria and . . . many others.

Back at the beginning of the twentieth century, the giant was the most powerful entity on earth but nobody knew it because it (sensibly) didn’t do anything.  Its military-industrial capacity remained latent and unnoticed.  In the two world wars the giant awoke and shook the world, especially in the second.  It reshaped global institutions and norms in its own image.  The giant became even richer, more magnificent, and sent men to the moon.

Following the conclusion of the Cold War it seemed that the giant must go back to sleep.  After all, what was there for it to do?  And then 9/11 happened.

Many Americans have long since realised that it’s time to put the giant back to bed.  It has been up too long.  It has become tired and demoralized, has depleted its treasure and much of the goodwill of its friends.  The Americans voted for Obama hoping he would end the stupid wars, but he and the lizard extended them.  They voted for Trump but he shows no . . . will? ability? to pull back from the madness.

Wars should be short and decisive.  They should be fought to achieve clear goals.  Usually, they fail to fully achieve these goals or turn out to be so expensive that in retrospect they seem poorly considered.  Lao Tzu wrote this.  The current wars are achieving nothing for ordinary Americans.  Do they really care who wins between the Sunnis and Shia?  Do they prefer the Saudis over the Iranians?  Do they fear Russia?  I suspect few would answer ‘yes’.

As the Chinese have shown, power can increase through quiet development.

It can be depleted through overuse.

What America needs is a modern-day Hadrian who will acknowledge that the empire is large enough, and see that the main risk is becoming overstretched.  Hadrian constructed the famous wall named after him in Britain to keep out soccer hooligans from Glasgow, and built many other walls, roads and defenses besides.

The Roman empire survived for centuries afterwards.

Rockabye giant, on the treetop

When the war blows, the cradle will rock

When the debt breaks, the cradle will fall

And down will come giant, cradle and all

Your Ignorance

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Image credit: Russian Schoolroom by Norman Rockwell

You may have heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect: those who are most ignorant on a subject stupidly think themselves the most expert.

For example, someone who works as an administrator in the prison system might say, “I know quite a lot about the problems in our corrective institutions, although I recently read some new research that made me question some of my long-help assumptions.”  The average layman who’s read about prisons in the paper might say, “I’ve heard the gangs run the place and drugs are everywhere.  I shudder to think what else goes on in there.”  Someone who has never read about or even considered the issue before at all will say:

If there is one fault common to all bloggers and their commenters (except you and I), it is that they think they are experts on everything.  Too rarely does somebody say, “I don’t really know much about that.”  But no one can be expert on everything.

[An exception would be Slate Star Codex, yet he manages to come across as more arrogant than anybody.  Why is that?]

We get around the psychological discomfort of uncertainty by adopting our team’s view of the world.

For example, in medieval Europe everyone knew that God made the world in six days, the Catholic Church is his institution on Earth, and that everything in our world is the way it is because God made it that way.  For us.

On the left, everyone knows that Trump is a fascist, public healthcare is the most efficient, and all differences in outcomes between races, sexes, religions and sexualities (etc.) is due to discrimination.

On the traditional right, everyone is sure that Western societies were much better in the 1950s and have been weakened by promiscuity, abortion, divorce and atheism.

And so on.

But you and me – we’re different.  We’re brave enough to point out some areas where we are utterly ignorant, even though our ‘team’ has firm views on them.

Here are a couple of mine:

Health policy

My experience is limited to having lived in various countries and using their systems.

This is what I know: The public health care system in Australia has largely covered some very expensive, life-saving treatments for many people close to me.  The Japanese public system is okay but the doctors sell the medication themselves so they have an obvious incentive to over-prescribe, which they consistently do (especially antibiotics).  The doctors are often arrogant and don’t listen properly to what you say.  Privacy is limited – you don’t always get to close the door before pulling your pants down.  The nurses are tasty.  I have also had broadly positive experiences of other Asian health systems – you can get what you need but have to wade through some baffling bureaucracy.

This is what I don’t know: Are privatized systems really more efficient?  I’ve heard that Singapore and Thailand have pretty sweet set-ups but I don’t know anything about them.  I’ve heard that the US government spends about the same as other developed countries but gets much poorer coverage.  I’ve also heard that the US system incentivizes expensive research into new treatments.  I don’t know the veracity of any of these claims.

Australia’s defense policy

What I know: the main part of our policy is the alliance with the US, which means we slavishly follow their foreign policy no matter how stupid we secretly think it is, in the hope that China and Indonesia will assume the US would back us in a conflict.  Whether the US would actually help would depend on various practical considerations at the time.  A lot of our defense policy focuses on protecting the air-sea gap between us and the rest of the world.  I read an interesting story about how the government found it hard to find a use for Australian forces in the Second Gulf War – most non-SAS ground forces were not equipped for taking on the Iraqis.

What I don’t know: I read that there is no plausible threat to Australia, and that if someone did attack Australia we would not be equipped to defend ourselves independently.  Written in the same sentence by the same author.  If not contradictory, these two facts at least seem to sit uncomfortably next to each other, like two white office workers who don’t know each other finding themselves seated together on the Tokyo subway.

I don’t know whether Australia should have more independent foreign and defense policies, or how much that would cost.  I heard somewhere that it might involve raising spending from around 2% to 4% of GDP.  I don’t know if this figure is accurate.

I have no idea what we ought to spend the money on if we went down that path.  Someone said submarines for asymmetrical warfare against the much larger Chinese military.  Someone said cheaper and more effective Russian planes to replace the apparently useless Joint Strike Fighter, which looks and fights like origami.  Why don’t we just train a local militia with AK-47s and IEDs?  This seems to be the totality of technology possessed by our enemies in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and is quite sufficient to bog down even the mightiest, well-armed forces in an endless dunny-flush of hard-taxed treasure.  I have no idea about any of these things.  If I were appointed Field Marshal today we’d be speaking Chinese by Thursday afternoon.

What about you?  Anyone out there man enough to admit where your areas of ignorance lurk?  Let us know in the comments.

A Grim Thought Experiment

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This one is more unpleasant than usual.  It reads like a guest post by Tom Arrows, but it’s me, Nikolai.  Your normally cheerful and exuberant narrator.

Wandering in the mountains I often have good ideas.  One such idea struck me upon a picturesque bend in the road, decorated with a giant, shady stand of bamboo and a gnarled, leafless, near-dead tree.  I thought, what if I was walking to my execution?  That next crossroads, twenty minutes away – that’s where my firing squat is waiting.  I am Read More

What is Good?

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Review of On Duties by Marcus Tullius Cicero, translated by Quintus Curtius.

The old windbag Cicero lived during a definitive, pivotal time in Western history – perhaps the moment, along with the American Revolution, that produced our world – but you wouldn’t have wanted to live then unless you have a fondness for starving and being chopped up.  The Roman republic was on the ropes with two cut eyes and early signs of Parkinson’s, and Julius Caesar and others sought to deliver the knockout blow in order to establish a totalitarian empire in its place.  Cicero, a lawyer and famed orator, favored the old republic.  Sometimes exhiled and eventually killed, he is best know today for Read More

The Toughest Cut

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Photo credit: akbzine.com

I just finished a seven week cut.  The hairy keg reduced by 3.5cm.  I was not very fat so this was just a tidy up after a long build and then a period of relative inactivity.

You fellas done a cut before?  It is hard.  They did an experiment once, on US soldiers.  They fed them about 500 calories less than they needed each day.  Within a short space of time they took down their lady pinups and replaced them with Read More

The Good Life

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Image credit: Detail from The Death of Seneca by Peter Paul Rubens, 1612-1613.

Review of Letters from a Stoic, by Seneca.  Translated by Richard Mott Gummere.

One can imagine the ancient Greeks, at the second breakfast of human civilization, suddenly having enough agricultural surplus to sit down for a moment and think about things and to record what they thought.  We live, they noticed.  Why?  And, what are we supposed to do now we’re here?  Conquer the world and smite our enemies?  Write the Great Greek Novel?  Honor the Gods?  Life, it seems, comes without even an indecipherable set of IKEA instructions.

The Stoics boldly attempted to write some.  Seneca was Roman but Read More

Blood and Tribe

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I recently attended the funeral of a close family member.  A miserable service but in the midst of all those closest to us, a reassuring and comforting one.  We are not alone in our grief and there are many who support us, even if from a great distance in space and time.

Old friend were there.  Very old friends from childhood, old neighbours long since moved away, old cousins and great-uncles who I had heard news of but not seen in decades.  A scattering of newer friends, introduced to the old.

With only a couple of exceptions, everyone there was Read More

The One Weird Reason Why I’m Finishing This Blog

I baited and you clicked, so let’s do this.

First, the blog will end in about six months.  I still have some time and some stuff I want to say, and I’m going to say it.  Mostly it will be further debauched tales and making fun of mainland Chinese.

Second, the reason is not what you think.  I promised you a weird reason, and a weird reason you shall have.

It is not because Read More

Twists and Roundabouts

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I’m wrenched awake by a gut-churning headache.  I’m in a tent somewhere in the mountains, long before dawn, far from home.  I fumble around in my backpack for my ‘Vitamin I’ (Ibuprofen) and realize that I’m all out.  Oh, shit.

I force my agony-fogged brain to calculate.

Continuing the hike as planned goes in the ‘ha ha’ basket.  Once I get a headache like this I need drugs or I’m out of action for days.  For this reason and many others I would never have survived in the pre-industrial era.

I can drive into the nearest town pretty easily.  Problem is, it’s 4am.  Pharmacies won’t open until 10.  I could get home by then, take the drugs there, then sleep in my own bed.

Can I get home?  Physically, can I drive that far in this condition?

Maybe not, but it looks like the best of a bad set of options.  My study of the Stoics shall be tested.  I cannot control painful events, but I can choose how to react to them.  On this occasion I choose to react by spitting obscene language and by furiously kicking objects that get in my way.

Bending down is a really bad thing for headaches.  Probably that’s what extraordinary rendition camps do to suspected terrorists.  Induce a headache then scatter a bunch of irresistible goat porn on the cell floor.  You know what else really requires a lot of bending down?  Packing up a tent.  My condition worsens until I Read More

Why do I do it

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Image Credit: Gerrit Dou, Geleede die zijn pen snijdt, WikiCommons.

I disappeared from the internet for several weeks and no one sent me a message saying, are you okay.  Did you get kidnapped by the CIA.  Did you fall of a cliff in a hiking misadventure.  Did you get bit by a skanky cougar’s denture.  Thanks a lot, everyone.  I hope your poofy koi turn into megalodons and gnaw through your vas deferens.

So anyway, I clambered up the crumbling embankment and garrotted the agent (is that alpha? cos they have lady ones now) and I’m back in the cockpit, doing whatever it is that I do.

What is it?  This blog has no particular focus or purpose, or audience.  I sit down with a head full of shit and type away until I’ve put some of it in your head instead, then I feel better.  Like after going to the toilet.  This is a toilet blog.  Remember 1998 and that guy who uploaded a Read More

The Most Enjoyable Election Comments on Jezebel

You know the funnest thing in the world?  No, it’s not those clubs in Japan where you can watch the ladies above you above shit on a perspex floor.  No, it’s even funner than that.  It’s free.  And you can do it right now, without getting up or putting on your underwear.

  1.  Go to Jezebel.
  2.  Click on an election-related article.
  3.  Read the comments.

Better than chocolate sex.

All sic:

DrugstoreGlasses

I’m crying because I don’t know how the fuck were going to survive a trump presidency.  And if he wins this isn’t my country, period. It’s every man for themselves. FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING LIBERAL WHITE MEN. FUCK YOU.

Why is she blaming liberal white men?  To answer logically would be to answer wrongly.  The important thing is, those overweight angry women never liked the skinny bearded ones at all.  And who can blame them.  Note to the skinny bearded ones: lift and eat meat.  Then it will all start to make sense.  Oh, and switch to Read More

Word From the Dark Side,10/20/16

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Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

An irregular collection of problematic news and opinion.

Project Veritas reveals hidden camera footage of Democratic Party trolls plotting to stoke violence at Trump rallies and voter registration fraud.  Sometimes disappears from YouTube or is hard to find, for some reason.  The journo also got banned from Twitter for some time.  Not jumping into the fray of this election (I’m not American) but I’ll happily sink a boot into a deserving arse should one be pointed in my direction.  I always assume that my readers will already have read the most notable links but a lot end up going through to CH and ROK, so I’ll include this one just in case.  Not much about it in the MSM.

In that jugular, a Trump campaign office is fire bombed.  And, the battle of the sexes in the election, state by state.

Even a Nigerian prince would invest in this.  Is it annoying when I link things without explaining what it is?  Okay, it’s a managed fund that invests in businesses run by women.  Happy now?  Did I save thirty seconds of your precious life that you would otherwise have spent reading to disabled children?  Yeah?  Now you owe me.

The unrequited love between Jews and Read More