Getting to Praha Always an Adventure

So I left Liberec last night to visit some friends in Praha for Thanksgiving on Saturday. From the get go it did not go well. I have a private student until 530pm, and a bus leaves Liberec for Prague at 6pm. Normally, this would have been plenty of time to get to the bus station, however, I had forgotten my bag of clothes at home so I had to go there first, which meant that there was no way I would catch the 6pm bus. Okay, no problem, another bus comes at seven. This means that I can still get to my friends’ flat by 830 or 9. A little late, perhaps, but not too late.

I make it to Nadrazi (that’s station in Czech) and wait for the 7pm bus. Well, a bus arrives at 7pm, drops some folks off, but then just keeps on going without even giving me an opportunity to catch it. I look at the schedule, and it states, specifically, that there is a bus leaving Liberec for Praha at 7pm. But apparently that is just a big lie because there was no bus leaving Liberec at 7pm. And before someone starts thinking it was different because of the Thanksgiving holiday, it would be a good idea to remember that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the CZ. Christmas? Sure. Thanksgiving? Nope. Halloween? Only if they are hanging out with Americans. So it had nothing to do with the holiday, and everything to do with the unreliability of the bus system.

Now don’t get me wrong, the busses and trams and metros that are found in towns and cities and provided for public transport are extremely reliable. They come often, and get you where you need to go on time and for not much money. It is the distance busses and trains–the ones we must take from city to city or country to country–that are unreliable. Case in point: there was supposed to be a bus at 7, but there wasn’t. Or another example: when I left Ukraine to come back to CZ I was told that the bus left at 10–the schedule told me as did the ticket I was carrying–but it really left at 830. Lucky for me I had been just hanging around the bus station waiting otherwise I would have missed my bus and been stuck in Ukraine for who knows how long because it wasn’t like I had any money to buy another ticket out of that cold home of concrete beauty and alcoholics.

Anyway, the bus did not come at 7pm, and by this time I was quite cold and quite hungry. Another bus was supposed to come at 8, so I decided to run and get something to eat. Then I would return to the Nadrazi and see if I would have better luck with the 8pm bus. The only problem was that I did not have a lot of time to get something good to eat (like from a restaurant) because Czech service is slow, but that is because the culture encourages long meals with lots of food and beer consumed, so I decided that I would get a klobasa from a street stand. Like I said, I was hungry and knew that I didn’t have time to get a good meal. Besides, this street stand is not so bad, and it is cheap, so really there is no reason for me to complain.

I made it to the streetstand, ordered my klobasa in a bagette (fancy term for sausage type hotdog meal) and not ten seconds later, the place lost electricity. This meant that I was not going to get my streetdog as I have taken to calling sausages eaten on the street. Also, I was running out of time, but I knew that it would be at least two hours before I could get some food, and the last thing I had eaten was an apple at 2 or 3pm. I ran to this large supermarket caled Tesco (it’s kind of like the Euro version of Wal-Mart and I really try to avoid going there but it was the closest place and I knew I could get something there) and bought a pre-made sandwich that had pickles, bolied eggs and roast beef. It was not terrible, and it was enough to get me to Praha (which finally happened because the bus did come at 8 and I caught it) where I was able to finally get a streetdog and make it to my friends’ flat by 1030pm.

This was much later than I had hoped to arrive, but the important thing is that I did finally make it to Praha, shared some beer with my friends, and had a nice night’s sleep, which was much needed after the stress of the week, and the stress of last night’s endeavor to get to Praha. And tomorrow is the day of the big feast. I am quite excited.

Videos Videos Videos

It seems to be kind of a video day for me today. I went looking for this one because it’s been a while. Still must say that I enjoy it, and I think it is ironic/sad considering the state of the economy today.

Another one from Rage. It saddens me that this one was on that godawful Godzilla movie starring Ferris Bueller cause the songs pretty solid. It’s kind of a shame they had to go mainstream to get their message really out there, but then again that is how it goes.

Some Tome Waits goodness.

More Waits goodness, and a beautiful song even with his raspy cigarette voice.

Grover Norquist

Is a moron. Well, we all probably already knew that, but here is further proof.

Snarky comments welcome.

It’s nice that he’s sticking by his “tax reform morals” that have got us no where, and I think it’s funny that he tries to blame Democrat policies that have yet to take effect, just because “we have finally recognized that those old tax rates are coming back.” What, it took us two almost three years to recognize that those tax hikes were coming back?

Also, I enjoyed his blaming FDR for creating the Great Depression, but does nothing to credit how FDR helped pull the country out of it.

I would also like to note that while Obama has been talking about increasing the tax rate on those that make 250+ a year, he is raising it 3%, and that is on the income that is in exess of 250k. So 01-250k: taxed at the current 36%. 250.01+: the .01 is taxed at 39% and so on, so while it would technically be a tax increase, I do not think that it would be so drastic as to hurt the economy. Of course, I don’t think that Obama will actually raise taxes on those making 250k or more per year, but I would probably be pleasantly surprised if he did.

The Man with the crazy pockets

I found this on Raw Story today and thought it was worth sharing. I like Kucinich. I think that he has a lot of good ideas/things to say, and I think it is somewhat sad that he is looked on as such a koot and a crazy man because that means that no matter how sound his analysis and thoughts are, he won’t be listened to because he’s just that crazy liberal congressmen from who knows where (Ohio) who keeps a lot of stuff in his pockets.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I mention his pockets GO HERE

It’s an old clip, but still quite funny.

Enough with the Credit

Christ, I am so sick of hearing how the way to solve the economic problem is to give banks money so that they can start lending and get the credit crisis under control. I mean seriously, if that were truly the solution, then things would be getting better, not worse, because of all the money given to banks already. But no, things are declining even more. Why? Well, for one, banks still do not want to lend that money, and two, nobody wants to borrow it.

People are losing their jobs, and if not their jobs then their work hours. Sure, there are jobs out there, but places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or supermarkets will not pay the bills. Especially part time. So nodbody want to take out more lonas or credit. And who can blame them? What sense does it make to encourage people to borrow more when already they cannot pay the bills they have? It makes no sense, but that it what is happening. That is Paulson’s big idea on how to fix the economy, and it might work if people had money and confidence in the system, but we don’t.

We need money in our bank accounts–money that is not from some loan or credit card but free debtless money–in order to feel safe about borrowing again. Of course money doesn’t grow on trees, which means that someone would have to give it to us, and since the Federal Government already spent their wad on banks and companies like Citi and AIG, there is no money left for us, exept for borrowed money. And really, who wants to increase their debts so that they can pay off some other debt? Aside from the FED and the Federal Government that ?

I mean, this is seriously stupid and fucked beyond belief; it’s like asking someone for 100 dollars so you can pay them the 100 dollars you already owe them. Sure you pay some of the debt back, but that new 100 dollars still remains, you still owe it, and you have gotten nowhere. And don’t talk to me about how this money could be used to create jobs in the private sector (bailout money lent to businesses so that businesses could create jobs and get things going). Again, it does not matter how many jobs you create, how much of something you produce, if there is no money for it.

If people don’t have money to buy new products, they can’t, and if they can’t the businesses that created the new jobs that created the new product go bankrupt because no one cany afford to pay them to keep making their products. End result: business fails and the jobs that were created are now destroyed. It is a viscious cycle, and a smarter way to stop it would have been to give the population that cash, so they could reduce debt and get money back into the economy. Would it have created a possible inflation problem? Maybe, but right now we are facing deflation, which is just as bad (though I like lower prices) because soon things will become so cheap that they will not be profitable so they will have to stop being made. Inflation is manageable because you can increase interest rates and not lend as much money as before. Then when the inflation rate climbs down to a more reasonable level you can take action to help keep it there.

But no, our government decided that it would be best to give money to large banks and corporations on the hope that they could then lend that money to the smaller people (and of course make a profit at the same time) so those of us who need financial help can be assured that we will never get it and that the division between the rich and the poor stays large and unconquerable. The bailout is nothing more than financial war on the middle and lower classes because we are the ones are suffering right now, and we are the ones who will have to increase our debt to untold amounts just so we can have a place to sleep at night and put food on our tables.

But thank you Mr. Paulson, Barney Frank, President Elect Obama, Senator McCain, President Bush, Nancy Pelosi and others. Thank you for voting for this bill and giving a big middle finger to those of us that live on “Main street” and you claim to care so much about. If it were true that you cared about us, you would have (and be taking) viable and smart steps to keep money in our pockets because even though we don’t have any money, we are still the largerest portion of the population and we do most of the purchasing in this country. So thank you again for making it more and more difficult for us to make purchases without having to increase our debt. You really showed that you care more about “Main Street” than you do “Wall Street.” Really. Good job.

Pirates Win Again

So remember last week when the world was happy (myself included) that the Indian Navy sunk a pirate “mother ship.” Well, it turns out, that wasn’t really the case. See, the supposed “mother ship” wasn’t really that at all, but rather a Thai fishing trawler, that had been seized by pirates a few hours earlier. Okay, so at least there were pirates on board, but I wonder why it took this long for people to realize what had happened.

I have some conspiracy theories, to be sure. The first, and most obvious is that India knew that it was not a pirate mother ship, but did not want to admit to sinking a vessel that belonged to another country by accident. And the second, only slightly less obvious, is that the sinking of the ship allowed for good press and propaganda. After all, the world is up in arms about the pirate problem, and it is a problem make no mistake about that, and what better way than to drum up a quick success and  make it seem like we can do something about these meancaers of the high seas by claiming to have sunk one of their floating fortresses. It’s like every time we hear about a key terrorist leader being killed–the implication is that we can win the war (whether it’s on pirates or on terrorists, which admittedly the line is very fine). Now I am not saying that India sunk the trawler knowing that it was a Thai boat, but that possibility has not completely escaped my attention or consideration.

One of the Thai crew members is known to have been killed on the trawler after it was hit by fire from the Indian boat, and fourteen others are missing. They are probably dead too, but let’s hope not because life is precious and these poor men were just fishing and trying to earn a living when they were commandeered by pirates (who don’t even wear puffy shirts or eye-patches and with nary a parrot or a peg leg to be seen) and then sunk by a big Indian warship. All they wanted to do was catch fish, and it is a shame that they most likely lost their lives (and at the very least their boat) because of it.

It remains to be seen what kind of effect this will have on the anti-piracy operations in the region, but my guess is that effect will be little to none. This is a tragedy, and steps need to be taken to help insure that others like it do not follow, but I doubt that will happen. The UN, what is supposed to be the world’s peacekeeper and deal maker, has essentially become worthless and powerless, essentially irrelevant. America has ignored it. Russia has ignored it. The people of Somalia and Darfur have ignored it. It no longer has any true ability to broker deals or work out treaties that might provide oversight to operations of this nature. And so far the countries who have sent ships to the pirate infested waters have yet to compile an operational mandate. I think things will just get hairier, especially after Blackwater and other private security firms join in on the action.

Oh sure, America threatens to listen to the UN and pull out of Iraq if a new security deal is not made, but that is not because we put any faith in the power of the UN (to Bush’s way of thinking WE ARE the UN) but because we want to pressure the Iraqis into signing a pact that benefits our monetary interests more than it does their safety and reconstruction ones. And, for Bush, who has said that we will stay until the job is done, this could be a nice way of getting out of Iraq without admitting defeat. After all, if he is finally going to recognize the UN now when when the question of US operation in Iraq is on the table, it is quite clear that he is looking for a way without having to admit that he was wrong.