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Get Out and Vote

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Popularity Wins Them All

Too often I hear Americans express their distaste towards the voting system. On many things with them I concur one of which is the electoral college. I hold no qualms telling the reader I think Donald Trump is slime. That son-of-a-bitch should’ve never made it past the Republican primary. When Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski, the New York Times reporter with arthrogryposis on national TV, that should’ve marked the end of his campaign. The only reason George W. Bush and Agent Orange were elected was because of the electoral college. Both lost the popular vote to their opponents. It stands to reason that he/she who garners the most votes shall be the winner. Otherwise, they might as well induce the electoral college for gubernatorial elections. That way all contestants need is to win the electoral votes for the metropolitan areas to win. That defeats the purpose of democracy and undermines citizens who live in the hinterland. That would lead to gerrymandering across the board. Were it up to me, all districts would be drawn based on population blocks during each decennial census in lieu of physical boundaries.

Shame and Blame Are Not the Game

Another qualm I have is the low voter turnout. Replacing the electoral college with the popular vote alone could solve most of that. I’m worried many Bernie Sanders voters will stay home or go third-party and get Trump reelected out of spite in 2020 now that he bowed out. Many times I’ve had online tiffs with friends on social media over this. They think I despise Bernie. I don’t hate or dislike Bernie; I tolerate him. I love his ideas, but it’s hard to respect a lifelong Independent who piggybacked off the Democratic Party in 2016 when it was convenient. Talking down to the center-left and calling the other candidates within the party “corporate Democrats,” “establishment Democrats,” and “neoliberals” and accusing them of being part of the establishment doesn’t win me over. That man had a lot of nerve shaming people like that when he didn’t call himself a Democrat until 2016. Further, I find it more difficult to believe someone who voted against the Brady Bill five times has a D minus record with the NRA. Using divisive language and polarizing the voters is no way to organize a revolution in my book. People who don’t vote have no right to complain. The Berniebots I blame partially for this quagmire. Their tacit consent allowed the most unqualified person to be in the oval office. It wasn’t just Russia meddling in the election.

Apathy is Expensive

That leads me to my second point. There should be compulsory voting across the board in all elections; presidential, gubernatorial, mayoral, etc. Certain countries have this law. Among them are Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Singapore. Anyone who refuses to vote should bequeath one’s income tax returns for two years until the next election. If they want to behave like petulant children because they got butthurt over their candidates not winning the nomination, then their abstention should cost them. Perhaps the only way to get them on board is to hit them where it hurts and show them apathy is expensive. Maybe they’ll think twice next time they want to take it out on everyone else and make them “Feel the Bern.” I blocked numerous Berniebots from my Facebook page when they trashed Hillary Clinton. I suspect I’ll do it more when they go into attack mode towards Joe Biden. Those people are nothing but poison, and I don’t need that toxicity in my life. Uncle Joe wasn’t my favorite candidate, either. I voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primary, but now is not the time to let our egos clout our judgment and override our consciences.

Primary and Secondary Solutions

This is why they should move all elections from Tuesdays to weekends. First off, the primaries should be held the last Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of March to prevent people like Bernie from dragging it out until June. They can campaign the entire summer, fall, and winter beforehand to sway the voters. The winners of each primaries should be declared at 10 pm Eastern Time the last Sunday of March. Then they should have a secondary election the last week of May to weed out third-party spoilers. The same process should be done for the primary in that it should be held Thursday through Sunday. The two candidates with the most votes should be the ones selected for the general election. Were it up to me, there’d be no more pre-planned Democratic or Republican conventions in designated cities. Instead, the convention for the challenging party would be held in the select city the second week of July while that for the incumbent party would be hosted in whichever locale the following week. I’d want them to run the week after the MLB All-Star Game and 4th of July and before the Summer Olympics.

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

The general election should be moved from the first Tuesday of November to Thanksgiving weekend. Black Friday is my least favorite day of the year. It negates the purpose of Thanksgiving. Rather than bring out the worst in people, Black Friday should do the opposite. Not only should voting be held in courthouses and civic buildings. There should be election booths in commercial venues like shopping malls, grocery stores, cinemas, restaurants, car dealerships, etc. Anyone who votes in said places should receive a Black Friday discount. The customers can kill two birds with one stone. Early voting should be held 24/7 an entire fortnight before the last Sunday of March, May, and November so people can beat the crowds and not have to stand in long lines. The national guard and local police should be stationed at all locales for security. A general order should be passed down the chain of command that anyone who discusses politics or does nothing to prevent a riot should be court-martialed. This method should be the first in which people vote. The second should be by mail. Voters should be allowed to send their ballots to the country treasury office in either an envelope or via PDF in an e-mail. Anyone with a physical mailing address should be registered automatically by the post office or DMV whenever they change residencies or have their driver’s licenses renewed.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The third way is a bit more tricky. The voters should be able to do it online through a secure website. I know that idea makes people skeptical because of Russia’s meddling in the last election. That’s why the site should be firewalled in every country outside the United States. It should be recommend that the user does it incognito or on TOR Browser. The site should be operational only during times of election and no other. Massive security measures should be made as well. Not only should it require an email address and a password at least 20 characters long (including mixed case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.) It should contain CAPCHA. They should require a minimal six-digit PIN number, the mailing addresses of each user over the past ten years, a social security number, a driver’s license number, a phone number with an area code, and the user’s date of birth. There should be a time limit for the user. It should give the ballot options in either English or Spanish and then require at least ten security lessons which would be the following:

      1. What is your father’s middle name?
      2. What is your mother’s maiden name?
      3. What is your maternal grandmother’s full name?
      4. What is your maternal grandfather’s full name?
      5. What is your paternal grandmother’s full name?
      6. What is your paternal grandfather’s full name?
      7. What city were you born in?
      8. What hospital were you born in?
      9. What street did you grow up on?
      10. What high school did you graduate from?
      11. What year did you graduate high school?
      12. What was your high school mascot?
      13. What were the color, model, and make of your first car?

Hack on This One, Sucker

As someone who has studied computers, I can assure the reader nobody can hack through all of that (not even Julian Assange on his best day.) I’m not an expert, but I know it takes hours to hack through one layer. The 20-character mixed-case password alone would take days. The CAPCHA feature would make it more difficult. All the required information that the user must know like the back of one’s hand and the time limit would make it impossible if not improbable at best. Even if the hackers were to use a VPN to circumvent the firewall, they would encounter numerous problems. How do you expect a hacker to have access to the personal information of 300 million people on a secure website? Even if Super Blue from IBM ran 24/7 for over 100 years, it would be unrealistic to hack through that. To put it bluntly, the saboteurs would have an easier time robbing Fort Knox.

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What’s in my Water

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Speak Your Mind, Dude

Often I find myself in a pickle after saying things that don’t win over others. There was a time when I’d feel icky about it but not so much anymore. I’m a straight-shooter who tells it like it is. It’s not my problem if others don’t like when I speak the unadulterated truth. I was once offended by a comment my mother made regarding Donald Trump sounding like someone with Asperger’s during the 2016 campaign. Now I knew what she meant. She inferred Covfefe blurts out his mind and doesn’t use his filter. That’s the only trait Trump and I have in common other than we’re cisgendered white males with arms and legs. I’m not a pathological liar. Everything I say is true to the best of my knowledge. I tell white lies and half-truths only when needed. I’m more articulate than 45 on my worst day than he’ll ever be on his best day. I’m more modest, and I don’t need to showcase my intellect and whatnot so others will stroke my ego. I’m secure enough in who I am that I don’t need to be the center of attention.

Ignore the Naysayers

What others think I stopped caring after moving to Thailand in spring 2015. Thus, I ascertained the less you worry how others perceive you, the higher their opinions of you. The whole process is counterintuitive. Around the time I moved to District One in Ho Chi Minh City during fall 2017, it came around full swing. There will always be someone offended in today’s society where everything must be politically correct and half the population is glued to social media. If I said the sky is blue, someone will get their undies in a wad because I didn’t confirm it’s black at night or gray on a cloudy day. Somebody will fly off the handle if I asserted apples are red and overlooked that some are green while others are gold. Another snowflake will blow a gasket if I declared glass is clear and ignored the that some is frosted while other panes are stained. Nothing I do or say will ever suffice with the naysayers. I’ve trained myself to either ignore them or shut them down. I’ll do and say whatever I want whenever, wherever, and however I want with or without their permission. I don’t owe those people anything. It’s not my responsibility to ensure their happiness. If they’re displeased with their lives, that’s on them. My freedom doesn’t end where their feelings begin, and emotions don’t outweigh tangible facts. The only satisfactions for which I’m culpable outside my own, and that of my family and friends are my clients’. I’m only a teacher at work. You can’t save everybody. Gaining 100-percent approval is like nailing jello to a wall. That’s one reason I no longer live in the Far East. Everything there is about keeping face which isn’t part of my compendium. To their credit, one thing I do like about living overseas is I don’t have to watch what I say day in night worrying about who I’ll offend. The locals in lesser developed countries have bigger and more important things to worry about like poverty and corruption.

Emotional Hemophiliacs

My blog arguing against circumcision didn’t win everyone’s blessing, and I don’t care. I was accused of misogyny and anti-Semitism. Just because I’m an intactivist and anti-Zionist doesn’t make me a bigot. Most critics will only hear what they want to, anyway. Those folks I call ’emotional hemophiliacs’ courtesy of my good friend, Kallum. I knew what they were doing though they agreed with me. Their intentions were good but short-sighted. They were ignoring the original theme and cherry-picking what I said. They then tried using those talking points as ammunition to gloss over the issue and discredit me. I’m not going to apologize. If they don’t like it, they can go stuff themselves. I’ll admit sometimes I stir things up to invoke emotional responses and get my point across. One part I had to edit out is when I said maybe we should legalize date rape if we continue male infant circumcision. Why not? After all, date rape victims don’t remember the event half the time. Therefore, so it must be okay. That’s what roofies do. They cause memory loss and disorientation making it harder for victims to remember the events and/or identify the perpetrators. Before anyone goes ballistic and starts salivating like Pavlov’s dog, I’m not a rape apologist. I’m just making a point. I stand by my original statement that circumcision is child sexual abuse and should be taken seriously like rape or incest. I trust rabbis and imams to make decisions about our genitals as much as I do CEO’s governing the country or wife beaters managing women’s shelters. One would hope we all know what happens whenever we allow religious leaders near little boy’s knobs after those scandals with the Catholic church.

See Through the Smokescreen

If I am a racist, I must be one self-loathing one after living in Southeast Asia and Latin America the past four years. I don’t suppose it would help if I explained 99-percent of all locals in Thailand and Vietnam where I lived have yellow skin or the vast majority of folks in Mexico where I am now have brown epidermises. The same applies to my students whom I teach online in East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. This is why I’m not as liberal as I once was when I lived in Austin. Every third person there is a blue-blooded SJW with a savior complex and an Oxford dictionary handy. I also lived in San Francisco for two years, so this ain’t my first rodeo. Those bleeding-hearted elitists who act like martyrs are the same folks who gentrified East Austin where the black and Hispanic people once lived. They claimed they were making it trendy, but I know better. Has anyone noticed none of those Hollywood heavyweights during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 bothered to march with the crowd except Anne Hathaway? Gee, I wonder why! Could it be because they were part of the one-percent? Every time Bono, Sean Penn, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, and company fly around on their private planes to sprinkle their fairy dust all over some social cause, they pollute the environment. Harrison Ford – the highest paid actor of all time – had the audacity to get on stage and lecture people about climate change. Just what I need is some washed out celebrity who spent his entire youth leaving the average carbon footprint of a thousand people combined telling me how to live. I’ll take them seriously when they cut down on consumption and live more modest lifestyles themselves.

Invasion of the Bagel Chompers

This is one of the main reasons Donald Trump got elected. People get fed up with the far left and their self-righteousness. They didn’t appreciate East Coast highbrows I call ‘bagel chompers’ riding around on their high horses talking down to working class people referring to them as ‘undesirables.’ Don’t get me wrong! I voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary and the general election. I did the same for Barack Obama in 2008 and picked him again in 2012. But just because I’ve voted straight-ticket Democrat in every midterm and general election since 2004 doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to what’s going on. People went with Trump because he gave them a sales pitch and championed himself as an outsider. We don’t always make the most rational decisions when we’re angry and frustrated. Everyone like yours truly felt locked out from that American dream they were promised. You can dismiss this as another rant by an angry white male, but the facts speak for themselves. I’m planning to move to South America should Trump get reelected in 2020. I have one of the most recession-proof jobs there is. There will always be a demand for English teachers no matter the status of the economy. My work is mobile meaning I can live anywhere. English will be the international language for the foreseeable future. My career change upon which I’m working is medical coding – another recession-proof field where I can still be a digital nomad. People will always get sick and need to go to the hospital no matter what the economic circumstance is. It won’t be me who pays the bill no pun intended; I can promise you that much.

Please Excuse My Dear Honesty

My friend Diane once asked me “What’s in your water, Dustin?” I’m not the same SJW full of spunk and vinegar she knew when we met almost a decade ago. I’m not that guy anymore. What’s happened is I’ve caught onto all the race baiters’, bra burning fembots’, and PC thought police’s ploys. My rose-colored glasses came off after I moved abroad. You see, I know how it works now though I couldn’t articulate it for the longest time. The right-wing media uses fear to gather their base. The liberals’ weapons of choice are shame and guilt. The conservatives hide under the veil of religious fervor while the lefties charade under the auspices of political correctness. I know exactly why Germany bailed out Italy, Greece, and Spain during the banking crisis of 2018 and brought in millions of Syrian refugees. The Germans still feel guilty about the holocaust. They’ve spent the past 75 years doing damage control to assuage their remorse. I remember a German lady named Kerstin on Facebook and I getting into a heated argument about Israel. I’m supposed to feel so horrible whenever I voice how the Jews are doing the same thing to the Palestinians that the Germans once did during the holocaust. Oh, but that’s different because they’re God’s chosen people! I’m supposed to cry them a river and call them a wambulance because of something in the past that can’t be changed. Nothing they do should ever be questioned or debated including circumcision. Anyone who disagrees with the loony lefties gets branded with every other buzzword with the suffix “-ist.” I’m sorry, Kerstin! You’ll have to forgive my honesty. It gets the best of me every time.

Natural and Unnatural Predators

Malcolm X used an excellent analogy when he described the loony lefties and tighty righties as I call them. The alt-right are like wolves whilst the far left are like foxes. Wolves are aggressive animals that hunt in packs. They’ll ravage anything that gets in their way. The fox is sly and sneaky. It has different mannerisms than the wolf, but it shares the same appetite. They both want lamp chops for dinner. Both are predators though the fox masquerades as its prey’s best friend. Either side wants to silence the opposition and censor what we think and say. But it’s only thought control whenever the other side does it. What’s happened is I’ve figured out how to trap foxes. I can spot them a mile away now. It’s not half as difficult as hunting a wolf. I know Bernie Sanders is a fox. What he says makes perfect sense to the lefties. I agree with most of his philosophies. However, I blame half this debacle on him. Bernie Sanders is not presidential material. He may be a smooth talker, but 90-percent of what Bernie proposes would never pass through Congress. That man has been on the hill over thirty years and hasn’t done jack. He even voted against the Brady Bill.

Make Your Stand

The fox, like Bernie Sanders, doesn’t play well with others. The wolf is a more dangerous predator than the fox. Everyone knows a fox is no match for a wolf. The latter will rip the former to shreds in no time. This is what concerns me about the next election. I fear the liberals will be too busy trying to hang each other like they did Al Franken and the nominee will be too weak to stand against Trump. I don’t know if anyone is aware, but he’ll be harder to defeat now that Trump is an incumbent. I find it interesting how Bernie Sanders was once an independent but run as a Democrat whenever it was convenient. Then his followers gut butthurt and opted to stay home on Election Night or vote third party out of spite thereby giving us the worst president in history. All of this because Bernie couldn’t put his ego aside, drop out of the race, and endorse Hillary. He could have been a hero and saved the day, but everything was all about him. Bernie Sanders to me is another bagel chomper who pretends he’s some messiah when he’s nothing more than a liability. The loony lefties may not be our mortal enemies, but they’re sure as hell not the heroes they claim to be. Do you really trust someone like that to protect us against a threat like Vladimir Putin? They’ll tuck tail and run for the hills like the fox always does whenever it’s met its match. To to answer your question, Diane, that’s what’s in my water.

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¡Viva Mexico!

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The Original Intention

Mexico wasn’t my first option of places to live when I left Vietnam. My original plan entailed moving to Chile. I spent several months putting together an Excel spreadsheet with a list of countries. I conducted extensive research. I would give each nation X amount of points in every category. I ranked them with at least forty factors. Among those were cost of living, safety, crime rate, air pollution, universal healthcare, importance of religion; distance from Russia, the Middle East, the United States, China, and North Korea; fragility of state, economic stability, corruption, female-to-male ratio, life expectancy, etc. I was very thorough and went the whole nine yards. At least I thought I did. I’m talking OCD accuracy. I was driving myself mad trying to find the most suitable country. At the end I tallied up the points. Anywhere that ranked lower than Thailand was eliminated. That was where I set the bar. Ukraine, Indonesia, and Bolivia got crushed in no time. The winner was Australia while Uruguay came in second place. Both were over my budget, so Chile came next in line.

Changing the Routine

Mexico was on the shortlist but not in the top five. There was still Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Brazil ahead. I came here under the assumption I would save enough dough to move to Chile eventually. That plan has been at the very least postponed if not kiboshed. Mexico was a backup plan as I couldn’t afford a plane ticket to Chile. It costs more to fly to South America from the United States than it does Asia. At least that’s how it was at the time. This was in the middle of the winter which was summertime in South America. That it was the opposite season might have been a contributing factor. Regardless, I improvised along the way. I moved to Merida, Yucatan, under the recommendation of Jacobo – an old acquaintance. My biggest priority was safety and security. My main complaint is that the weather is the same as Southeast Asia. It’s bloody stinking hot and humid ten months out of the year. It has the exact same climate as Thailand and Vietnam. My other grievances are there’s too many stray animals here. Nobody neuters or spays their pets, and the dating pool seems too slim.

Don’t Blame Jacobo

Merida is a very conservative city and one of the Catholic church’s biggest strongholds. The majority of Yucateca women marry and have at least one child by age 25. That to me was disappointing. Jacobo had no way of knowing I was looking for a significant other, so don’t blame him. I said I wanted to live somewhere inexpensive that isn’t crime ridden, and that’s where Merida popped up. Jacobo meant well when he suggested that. He was being a good friend. It’s my fault for not doing more research or asking which city in Mexico had the best dating pool. Had I known then what I do now, I probably would have gone to Guadalajara. I knew all along Latin America was more amenable towards someone like me. Hispanic cultures tend to be more forgiving and understanding about mental health than East Asian ones. I don’t know about Mexico, but I’m told they’re cool about it in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and other places. I’ve not had any issues with Mexico in that department. All I can tell you is it’s more autism-friendly than the Far East.

The Tour of a Lifetime

I’ve taken advantage of opportunities during my time here. The tour I took during the vernal equinox still gives me goosebumps. I went with a group to Dzibilchaltun and visited the Temple of the Seven Dolls. The aperture to that structure aligns perfectly with the sun during the spring equinox. After that, I explored Izamal – the Yellow City – and climbed the tallest pyramid in Mexico. It reminded me of the time I experienced Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. Never in my life had I seen so many yellow buildings. I was afraid I’d get jaundice had I stayed much longer. The third stop entailed Xcajum Cenote – a natural waterhole. Those things I find mystical. The best and last part was Chichen Itza – an anthropologist’s wet dream. I didn’t realize it was an entire park not just that castle in the middle. Not only was I in awe of the Mayan ruins; I was blown away by the sun shadow forming a snake along the staircase. I got nostalgic because the Mayan artifacts reminded me of Thailand and the time I journeyed through Ancient Siam. The only difference was there were no reclining Buddhas at Chichen Itza. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.

Tales from the Dark Side

Day in and day out, I hear horror stories about Latin America. I don’t live in Juarez or Tijuana for crying out loud. Yes, I’ve seen Scarface, Traffic, Miami Vice, El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Man on Fire, and other crime dramas. I’ve watched every episode of Breaking Bad, Narcos, and El Chapo, too. Most of those incidents occurred during the 80’s and 90’s. Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993. Chapo Guzman got convicted and placed in a prison from which he can’t escape. What the skeptics don’t know is those tall tales you hear about Latin America regarding the drugs, kidnappings, and whatnot also happen in Southeast Asia where I lived three years. They don’t call them cartels in that region because there’s no cocaine. They do however have heroin, opium, and methamphetamines. Those organizations are labeled merely drug rings, but it’s all the same in the end. There’s several reasons why nobody knows or hears about the Asian underworld. The obvious being they’re far removed from the United States across the globe. Another is they’re not flamboyant like Medellin and Sinaloa were. They do their activities surreptitiously and fly below the radar like the Cali cartel did.

Mexico Doesn’t Scare Me

I’m not afraid of Mexico City, either. I’ve been battle-tested after living in Thailand and Vietnam. Bangkok is one of the dodgiest cities on Earth. Mexico City can’t be any worse than Bangkok I tell myself. There are significant Russian and Ukrainian communities there and Saigon, and I’m certain they bring heavy hitters from Moscow and Kiev. Several Japanese expats live in both locales many of whom are Yakuza. They even have Chinese triads. I just stated I’ve watched the same movies all the ‘experts’ have. I’ve even seen American Gangster based on a true story. Denzel Washington played Frank Lucas, an African-American kingpin in New York City during the 60’s and 70’s. Lucas smuggled heroin into the United States through coffins of fallen Vietnam War soldiers. There’s a street in Saigon called Bui Vien where people get zapped out of their minds on drugs. The police are there facilitating it making sure nothing gets out of hand. Thailand is one of the worst places on the planet when it comes to child sex trafficking. Many child predators travel to Southeast Asia as sex tourists because they know the governments are so corrupt, and there’s nothing anyone can do. I lived there when they busted Jared Fogel, the pitchman for Subway. I was also there during the bombing at Erawan Shrine. My inbox was flooded over the next day because my family and friends worried I might have been blown to smithereens.

Same Song, Different Dance

There’s nothing terrible I’ve heard about Mexico that I haven’t already about Thailand or Vietnam. The only things I’m worried about are crooked landlords, pickpockets, shady expats, and petty scams. I know how to handle those folks after living in Southeast Asia. I was robbed by the traffic police at gunpoint in Vietnam. My passport was stolen there without further ado. I’m better equipped to act accordingly. Mexico doesn’t seem that bad to me because I came mentally prepared. The second time the police tried to shake me down in Vietnam, I knew what to do. I took a semester of German in college. Many of the corrupt cops speak English, but I’ll bet none know German. That’s what I deduced how to handle them. I know they’re after my money, that they think all the expats are rich, and that they can intimidate me. They’re not going to waste their time seeking an interpreter and risk getting exposed. Most criminals aren’t as slick as they think they are. Nine times out of ten, they take the quickest and easiest route to get what they want with minimal exposure. I’ve studied a lot about criminal psychology during my off-time. I’ve read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. One of the main tenets of that piece is know your enemies. That’s why I now take off my shoes and hide my money in my socks whenever I travel with lots of cash and put only a small amount in different pockets. I might even get two wallets; one with a trifle of notes and throw it the opposite direction should I be mugged and give myself enough time to run away in zigzag patterns so the thug’s bullet won’t hit me should he/she decide to shoot. I may even walk around with my hands in my pocket. I’d rather the ladies and others think me shy and insecure than vulnerable.

I See Your True Colors Shining Through

That said, I no longer use taxicabs but only Uber. I don’t trust the former after living in Bangkok. The majority of scams the Viets have tried to fool me with I caught onto living in Thailand. Many hucksters at Ben Thanh Market got offended whenever I called them out. They thought I was stupid and didn’t know what they were doing. Little did they know, they would try the same shtick at Pat Pong Market in Bangkok. I wasn’t afraid to tell them I could see through them. I may be overstating things, but I imagine the same is true about Mexico City and other megacities in underdeveloped countries. I’ve learned how to mind my surroundings and always have my guard up. Therefore, I’m not afraid of Mexico City, Medellin, or anywhere else.  My bullshit detectors have been amplified ten-fold after living in Southeast Asia. I never buy things on the street unless they have price tags. I figure they’re knockoffs or the vendors want to play me for a sucker and overcharge me. As far as the organized crime goes, I suspect those guys are smart enough not to do their business in the open. As long as you use common sense and exercise caution, you should be safe. I don’t plan to go looking for them.

Much Ado About Nothing

I’m not worried about being kidnapped when I visit Cancun or anyplace else, either. Do you really think I’d be here if I felt someone might abduct me? First of all, the US State Department would ban all travel to Mexico if it was that unsafe. Secondly, I’d notify the embassy consulate before I do that. Third, I’d post a status on social media letting everyone know where I’m headed. Fourth, I don’t come from a wealthy family like Natalie Holloway, so my captors wouldn’t gain much from the ransom. Fifth, most of those take place up north near the border not down south where I am. Sixth and finally, I’d give my family, friends, or whomever specific instructions to contact the embassy and every news outlet they can if I’m not seen or heard from within a week. I have a game plan for events like this. Imagine how it would look if all over CNN or FOX News the headlines said, “Autistic American Male Missing in Mexico.” You think Donald Trump won’t heat up the propaganda machine and try to start a war with Mexico to beef up his campaign for the 2020 election or use that as a wild card to convince voters in swing states Mexico is full of murderers and rapists to divert everyone’s attention away from another recession? For all we know, his administration may use the ICE detainees as collateral damage in retaliation. Knowing Trump, I wouldn’t put it past him. Most smart criminals don’t want to draw that kind of attention.

They’re Not All Bad

The only bad things that happened since I’ve been here were my watch getting ruined in Xcajum Cenote, and I lost my ATM card. I know my debit card wasn’t stolen because my account wasn’t emptied when I checked my bank statement online. I reported it lost, ordered another one, and had my mom send me money through Western Union. Also, there’ve been a few power surges caused by storms. Other than that, everything has gone smoothly. Mexico turned out to be an excellent fit. I’d describe it the same way I would Michael Keaton, Daniel Craig, Charlize Theron, and Harrison Ford playing Batman, James Bond, Aileen Wuornos, and Indiana Jones or Albert Brooks portraying a mafia kingpin in Drive. None of those mentioned were the directors’ first selections. Some were last minute replacements like Ford. The movie critics were skeptical at first because they worried the roles might not match the actors’ skill sets, but those people caught everyone by surprise and wound up killing those parts.

A Successful Failure

Now most moviegoers can’t imagine Tom Selleck (the original choice) as Indiana Jones. Daniel Craig is arguably the best Bond ever behind Sean Connery. Some fans like my mother think the former was better than the latter. Charlize Theron landed herself an Academy Award for her performance. You can even compare my circumstance to Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey to portray J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World. Ridley Scott scrapped Spacey from the project at the last minute when the Hollywood sex abuse scandal emerged and had Plummer fill the void six weeks before that film was released. They had to re-shoot all scenes involving Spacey with Plummer. Not only did Plummer pull it off within a three-week span; he knocked it out of the park and got an Oscar nomination. Now many people can’t envision Spacey in that role. If I were to correlate my time in Mexico to a movie, this turned out to be a sleeper hit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Napoleon Dynamite. It might even win Best Picture like Slumdog Millionaire which was also a surprise hit. Now I can’t envision myself moving back to Southeast Asia after living here. I perceive Mexico the same way historians did the Apollo 13 mission, a successful failure.

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Nobody Rides for Free

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An American Dilemma

Here’s what I’ve noticed about Americans. This has been commonplace my whole lifetime. People always moan about inadequate services. They want better roads, schools, police protection, healthcare, and what. That’s understandable, yet what baffles me is nobody wants to pay any taxes to fund them. They all want something for nothing. Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but that’s not how the universe works. Barry Commoner comprised the Four Laws of Ecology. One of them states, “Nobody gets a free lunch. There is no such thing as a free lunch.” I had fallout with one of my long-term friends over this. If it were up to me, everybody would have universal healthcare and free education from preschool all the way through postgraduate school. My former companion argued both cost too much. Her rationale is that college and healthcare prices would spike while the quality would go down if they were available to everyone. What do you expect from someone who watches FOX News?

Get Your Priorities Straight

I can promise the reader with a capital P it costs less to provide those to each person who can’t afford it than it does to house non-violent prison inmates in private prisons for one year. I imagine the folks who rebuke these ideas the same idiots who believe schools are socially engineering children. The price would be infinitesimal compared to what it would to build an aircraft carrier, fighter plane, or even a high-tech missile. Funny how you never hear the alt-right moan about pork-barrel defense spending. What do they care as long as it’s not their children sent to die so corporate fat cats can get wealthier? The American government throws $38 billion a-year to Israel, a country with universal healthcare and free post-secondary education.

No Taxes, No Government, No Service

This conversation I had with a German friend two years ago. She elucidated how Germans see it as their civic duty to pay taxes. They assert they’re doing a community service. They have the right attitude in my book. Where this aversion towards paying taxes in America began I don’t know, but it’s a paradox to say the least. The Libertarian ideology exacerbates that mindset. Thus, I find their philosophies more impractical than those of the GOP. You cannot have limited government in a country with over 300 million people; especially, when that nation is the world superpower and breadbasket of the global economy. The concept sounds sexy on paper, but it’s asinine in reality. We’re not settlers on the frontier anymore. The manifest destiny, Civil War, and Revolutionary War ended centuries ago. We’ve moved past that phase (at least I hope we did.)

Don’t Tread On Me

The Tea Party movement which began in 2009 was never about standing up to government tyranny. That was a carte blanche they used to express their disgust over a black man in the White House. Funny how we haven’t heard anything about them since Barack Obama left office. Their principles were misguided and misplaced. The original Tea Party revolted over the taxation of commoners in colonial New England and the misappropriation of funding towards the British crown. That’s no different than trickle down economics and tax cuts for the rich. Last time I checked, America is no longer part of the British commonwealth. As I said, it was nothing more than a smoke-and-mirrors campaign to disguise their prejudices towards a black President. Funny how Ted Cruz, a Canadian-born half-Cuban, spearheaded the birther movement.

Offshore is Off the Mark

There is a flip side to this coin. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez meant well when she proposed taxing the top bracket at 70-percent. My former friend is right about one thing. If they start taxing the wealthy that much, more millionaires and billionaires will try to safeguard their money in offshore accounts. That’s why I think Congress should impose the Tobin and Spahn taxes before they do anything. The Tobin tax, named for James Tobin, charges transaction taxes from offshore accounts plus whatever the individual owes in income taxes. The Spahn tax, named in honor of Eugen Spahn, is the corporate version. That way, Covfefe, Mitt Romney, and other tax dodgers will think twice next time they have overseas accounts. Traveling back and forth to Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, or wherever can be time-consuming and costly after awhile. Not to mention, there’s a maximum amount of cash one can bring through US customs before being spotted by the IRS.

The Path of Least Resistance

Most rich people will take the cheapest option. Therefore, I feel it’s imperative to implement these practices. This I suspect would pay off large chunks of the national debt. I don’t know for sure if they have the Tobin and Spahn taxes in the Scandinavian countries, so don’t quote me on this. I believe that’s why Ingvar Kamprad, the CEO of IKEA, moved their headquarters from Stockholm to Amsterdam, and Kamprad himself moved to Switzerland. Bjorn Borg changed his residency to Monte Carlo after he won the Grand Slam Tournament to avoid taxes in Sweden and later returned to Stockholm when he retired so he could reap the benefits. That was mighty white of him. I surmise this is why Dolph Lundgren lived in Spain for many years, but there’s no way to prove that. For all we know, Lundgren resided there because Spain has a warm climate and averages over 300 annual days of sunshine unlike Sweden where it gets dark and cold throughout the winter. You can’t fault him for that.

Bye-Bye Miss American Pie

Too often I look pie charts regarding the budget, and it shows misleading information about social security. Medicare and social security are funding by taxpayers not the government. The pie charts are made by conservatives to fool viewers into thinking those are burdens on society in lieu of priorities. That leads me to my last solution. I’d force the government to pass a constitutional amendment mandating all government programs receive equal funding. The powers that be would spend the same amount on education, healthcare, infrastructure, energy, science, housing, VA benefits, transportation, etc., that it does on defense were it up to me. Further, I’d pass another bill requiring Congress to raise taxes ten percent and require the children of congressmen, defense contractors, and war financiers to be drafted into military service whenever war is declared. No matter what, wouldn’t be allowed to take funding from education, healthcare, or any other service and pour it into defense. That would make them think twice about committing career suicide like. My senior year in college, a well-seasoned professor of mine stated, “Democracy works best when all the goods are equitably distributed.” About that he was right as rain.

That’s Gonna Cost You

Congress must impose the Tobin and Spahn taxes before they raise income taxes on the top tier. That first part is imperative. Further, I insist they induce an expatriation tax for someone who tries something cute moving abroad to avoid taxes while consulting one’s business on American soil. I even condone there being an outsource tax and massive tariffs on American products manufactured overseas. The government I feel should raise the latter as high as 150-percent if necessary. Basically, I’d raise them to where it would be more expensive to outsource labor and slap CEO’s with hefty fines should they pull a dick move like that. No longer would businesses or owners be allowed use travel expenses and company expenses as tax write-offs. Freedom isn’t free. That’s the part Libertarians and tax dodgers have a hard time registering through their thick noggins. They reinforce that sense of entitlement Americans have. Perhaps they should change the laws to where people had to pay weekly or biweekly income taxes to close all the loopholes. Here is what the income tax code would look like if it were up to me:

Income Tax Brackets Based on Annual Salaries as Head of Household During Time of Peace and/or Economic Boom
Less than $15,000 = 10%
$15,000 – $30,000 = 11%
$30,000 – $45,000 = 12%
$45,000 – $60,000 = 13%
$60,000 – $75,000 = 14%
$75,000 – $90,000 = 15%
$90,000 – $105,000 = 16%
$105,000 – $120,000 = 17%
$120,000 – $135,000 = 18%
$135,000 – $150,000 = 19%
$150,000 – $165,000 = 20%
$165,000 – $180,000 = 21%
$180,000 – $205,000 = 22%
$205,000 – $220,000 = 23%
$220,000 – $235,000 = 24%
$235,000 – $250,000 = 25%
$250,000 – $265,000 = 26%
$265,000 – $280,000 = 27%
$280,000 – $295,000 = 28%
$295,000 – $310,000 = 29%
$310,000 – $325,000 = 30%
$325,000 – $340,000 = 31%
$340,000 – $355,000 = 32%
$355,000 – $370,000 = 33%
$370,000 – $385,000 = 34%
$385,000 – $400,000 = 35%
$400,000 – $415,000 = 36%
$415,000 – $430,000 = 37%
$430,000 – $445,000 = 38%
$445,000 – $460,000 = 39%
$460,000 – $475,000 = 40%
$475,000 – $490,000 = 41%
$490,000 – $505,000 = 42%
$505,000 – $520,000 = 43%
$520,000 – $535,000 = 44%
$535,000 – $550,000 = 45%
$550,000 – $575,000 = 46%
$575,000 – $590,000 = 47%
$590,000 – $605,000 = 48%
$605,000 – $620,000 = 49%
$620,000 and more = 50%

Income Tax Brackets Based on Annual Salaries as Head of Household During Time of War and/or Economic Recession
Less than $15,000 = 10%
$15,000 – $30,000 = 11%
$30,000 – $45,000 = 12%
$45,000 – $60,000 = 13%
$60,000 – $75,000 = 14%
$75,000 – $90,000 = 15%
$90,000 – $105,000 = 16%
$105,000 – $120,000 = 17%
$120,000 – $135,000 = 18%
$135,000 – $150,000 = 19%
$150,000 – $165,000 = 20%
$165,000 – $180,000 = 21%
$180,000 – $205,000 = 22%
$205,000 – $220,000 = 23%
$220,000 – $235,000 = 24%
$235,000 – $250,000 = 25%
$250,000 – $265,000 = 26%
$265,000 – $280,000 = 27%
$280,000 – $295,000 = 28%
$295,000 – $310,000 = 29%
$310,000 – $325,000 = 30%
$325,000 – $340,000 = 31%
$340,000 – $355,000 = 32%
$355,000 – $370,000 = 33%
$370,000 – $385,000 = 34%
$385,000 – $400,000 = 35%
$400,000 – $415,000 = 36%
$415,000 – $430,000 = 37%
$430,000 – $445,000 = 38%
$445,000 – $460,000 = 39%
$460,000 – $475,000 = 40%
$475,000 – $490,000 = 41%
$490,000 – $505,000 = 42%
$505,000 – $520,000 = 43%
$520,000 – $535,000 = 44%
$535,000 – $550,000 = 45%
$550,000 – $575,000 = 46%
$575,000 – $590,000 = 47%
$590,000 – $605,000 = 48%
$605,000 – $620,000 = 49%
$620,000 – $635,000 = 50%
$635,000 – $650.000 = 51%
$650.000 – $665,000 = 52%
$665,000 – $680,000 = 53%
$680,000 – $695,000 = 54%
$695,000 – $710.000 = 55%
$710,000 – $725,000 = 56%
$725,000 – $740,000 = 57%
$740,000 – $755,000 = 58%
$755,000 – $770,000 = 59%
$770,000 and more = 60%

Income Tax Brackets Based for Married Individuals on Joint Returns During Time of Peace and/or Economic Boom
Less than $20,000 = 10%
$20,000 – $40,000 = 11%
$40,000 – $60,000 = 12%
$60,000 – $80.000 = 13%
$80,000 – $100,000 = 14%
$100,000 – $120,000 = 15%
$120,000 – $140,000 = 16%
$140,000 – $160,000 = 17%
$160,000 – $180,000 = 18%
$180.000 – $200,000 = 19%
$200,000 – $220,000 = 20%
$220,000 – $240,000 = 21%
$240,000 – $260,000 = 22%
$260,000 – $280,000 = 23%
$280.000 – $300,000 = 24%
$300,000 – $320,000 = 25%
$320,000 – $340,000 = 26%
$340,000 – $360,000 = 27%
$360,000 – $380,000 = 28%
$380,000 – $400,000 = 29%
$400,000 – $420,000 = 30%
$420,000 – $440,000 = 31%
$440,000 – $460,000 = 32%
$460,000 – $480,000 = 33%
$480,000 – $500,000 = 34%
$500,000 – $520,000 = 35%
$520,000 – $540,000 = 36%
$540,000 – $560,000 = 37%
$560.000 – $580,000 = 38%
$580,000 – $600,000 = 39%
$600,000 – $620,000 = 40%
$620.000 – $640,000 = 41%
$640,000 – $660,000 = 42%
$660,000 – $680,000 = 43%
$680,000 – $700,000 = 44%
$700,000 – $720,000 = 45%
$720,000 – $740,000 = 46%
$740,000 – $760,000 = 47%
$760,000 – $780,000 = 48%
$780,000 – $800,000 = 49%
$800,000 and more = 50%

Income Tax Brackets Based for Married Individuals on Joint Returns During Time of War and/or Economic Recession
Less than $20,000 = 10%
$20,000 – $40,000 = 11%
$40,000 – $60,000 = 12%
$60,000 – $80.000 = 13%
$80,000 – $100,000 = 14%
$100,000 – $120,000 = 15%
$120,000 – $140,000 = 16%
$140,000 – $160,000 = 17%
$160,000 – $180,000 = 18%
$180.000 – $200,000 = 19%
$200,000 – $220,000 = 20%
$220,000 – $240,000 = 21%
$240,000 – $260,000 = 22%
$260,000 – $280,000 = 23%
$280.000 – $300,000 = 24%
$300,000 – $320,000 = 25%
$320,000 – $340,000 = 26%
$340,000 – $360,000 = 27%
$360,000 – $380,000 = 28%
$380,000 – $400,000 = 29%
$400,000 – $420,000 = 30%
$420,000 – $440,000 = 31%
$440,000 – $460,000 = 32%
$460,000 – $480,000 = 33%
$480,000 – $500,000 = 34%
$500,000 – $520,000 = 35%
$520,000 – $540,000 = 36%
$540,000 – $560,000 = 37%
$560.000 – $580,000 = 38%
$580,000 – $600,000 = 39%
$600,000 – $620,000 = 40%
$620.000 – $640,000 = 41%
$640,000 – $660,000 = 42%
$660,000 – $680,000 = 43%
$680,000 – $700,000 = 44%
$700,000 – $720,000 = 45%
$720,000 – $740,000 = 46%
$740,000 – $760,000 = 47%
$760,000 – $780,000 = 48%
$780,000 – $800,000 = 49%
$800,000 – $820,000 = 50%
$820,000 – $840,000 = 51%
$840,000 – $860,000 = 52%
$860,000 – $880,000 = 53%
$880,000 – $900,000 = 54%
$900,000 – $920,000 = 55%
$920,000 – $940,000 = 56%
$940,000 – $960,000 = 57%
$960,000 – $980,000 = 58%
$980,000 – $1,000,000 = 59%
$1,000,000 and more = 60%

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Terrorism Has No Religion

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Take Another Look in the Mirror

The shooting in Christchurch inspired me to speak out about two issues. The first being gun violence and the second Islamophobia. One of the primary reasons I left America and have no inclination towards returning is school shootings. I find it ironic how people tried inciting fear about me going abroad. Often others were afraid I might be kidnapped in Southeast Asia or Mexico by some organized crime syndicate. I appreciate their concern for my safety. However, their misgivings were misplaced. This is the part that burns me. Everyone is worried someone like yours truly will wind up an organ donor or get cooties from the boogeyman whenever we go abroad, but climate change and school shootings aren’t treated like national emergencies as they should. I felt safer and more secure teaching at schools overseas. Not once did I have to worry about some distraught kid coming onto campus and mowing down his classmates with an AR-15. Never have I once had that fear when I walked out in public, yet my inbox was flooded fast after the bombing at Erawan Shrine. I wouldn’t touch an American school with a ten-foot pole.

Careful When You Play with Straws

Many times I worry about my niece and nephew in Texas where gun control laws are toothless at best. I had nasty fallouts with two long-time friends on Facebook on separate occasions over this not long ago. Things got ugly when they tried using strawman arguments about the government infringing upon their personal freedom, and they insisted it was their divine right to own firearms. They would state the same platitude, “Guns don’t kill; people kill,” we hear from yahoos like Alex Jones. Both situations went sideways when I told them, “You tell that to the parents of the Sandy Hook children. What do you care as long as it’s not your kids caught in the crossfire?” I’ll bet they wouldn’t share the same sentiment if it someone they loved were killed.

No Way to the NRA

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I hope the next shooting massacre happens at the NRA headquarters and that it’s worse than Orlando or Las Vegas. I’m serious as a heart attack. Plead me guilty now. If a masked gunman turned Wayne LaPierre and his evil henchmen and followers into Swiss cheese, that would be plenty alright with me. Maybe what it takes is to bring the war home for the American public get it through their thick noggins. Before anyone panics and reports me to the FBI, I’m not planning a shooting spree myself. All I’m saying is the National Rifle Association will get exactly what they deserve if that happens, and I won’t bat an eye. They’re a biggest threat towards our national security than Al-Qaida or ISIS ever were. The NRA has way more American blood on its hands than those other two.

If They Can Do it, So Can We

I find it ironic how the American media views it as a terrorist attack only whenever a non-white person commits it. If a black person or Muslim kills several civilians, then it’s an act of terror. Whenever a white person does the opposite such as the case in Charleston, South Carolina, then it’s a hate crime. The same was said about the Christchurch, New Zealand. I’m glad New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, and other developed countries dropped the hammer and have strict gun control laws. This makes me loathe the Republican Party to no end. They have no right to call themselves pro-life. They care more about fetuses than the lives of children already born. Any party that opposes gun control and universal healthcare and supports war and capital punishment is in no position to call itself pro-life.

Go See For Yourselves

Now for the second part, Islam does not advocate terrorism. I’ve found myself defending Muslims more than I care to. I can guarantee the readers none of those folks bashing Islam have been to a majority Muslim country like I have. I had no idea Malaysia is sixty-percent Muslim when I went there during Chinese New Year 2018. I’m not going to lie. At first I was apprehensive when I landed at the airport in Kuala Lumpur. I was afraid I might be stoned to death if I look at a woman more than three seconds. I believed the same hogwash about which they pontificate on FOX News. I found out that was anything but true about the second or third day there. I didn’t know even with my background in geography and anthropology because nobody discusses it on the news, and it’s not in the Middle East. That I suspect is why most people are unaware Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country.

It’s Not What You Think

These things you never hear because they’re Shafis. They’re not at all like the radical Sunnis in North Africa or the Shiites in Iran. In fact, many Malays hate the Saudis. Malaysia is a very progressive country. Half of the women wear burqas and hijabs, but the other half walks around in tanktops, Daisy Dukes, and flip-flops. There are ladyboys walking around in plain sight. Everywhere I looked, there were bars that served alcohol. Kuala Lumpur has an incredible nightlife comparable to that of Bangkok. They even have soapy massage parlors with happy endings, and nobody cares. That should tell the reader something. Further, I recommend anyone who travels to Southeast Asia visit Malaysia. It has all the magic oh Thailand, and it’s a more developed and family-friendly country. I liked it because Kuala Lumpur is squeaky clean like Singapore but not as highbrow. Everything you can find in Bangkok exists in KL. The difference is the Malays don’t wave it in your face like the Thais do. They’re more discreet about it. Obviously, they don’t have Sharia Law because the country is about 20-percent Buddhist and 20-percent Hindu. They all have to live in peace and harmony, so Sharia Law wouldn’t fly.

Let Freedom Ring Everywhere

The women there have the same rights Western women do. They have college educations, careers, and positions of power. Just because they don’t hyphenate their surnames when they marry, decorate themselves with tattoos and piercings, cut their hair short, and dye it freakish colors doesn’t mean they’re all barefoot, pregnant, and stuck in the kitchen. The Malay ladies drive cars, go shopping, and speak their minds just like Western women. I’m sure some even think their opinions are the law of the land. One time my credit card wasn’t working. I entered a local bank, and the branch manager, a woman in a hijab arrived and said, “May I help you?” I explained the situation and got it sorted out. Everybody there speaks English because it was a British colony. That’s why I couldn’t find a job there no matter how hard I looked. Some of the best Indian food I’ve had in my entire life was in Kuala Lumpur. That stands to reason when a quarter of their population is of Indian descent.

Check It Out; You Won’t Regret It

My third day, I went on a tour of the city. One place where we stopped was the National Mosque of Malaysia. In plain was a giant sign that said, “Terrorism has no religion.” in three languages one being English. Like Indonesia, Malaysia has a zero tolerance policy towards domestic terrorism. I wish we’d induce the same in the United States. Obviously, Malaysia doesn’t have prohibition for the reasons I mentioned. They don’t have child marriages or practice female infant circumcision. They don’t stone people to death for adultery, behead homosexuals in town squares, or hang them from cranes. They don’t have child marriages. The legal age of consent is 16. The men don’t do acid attacks and disfigure women who reject them. They don’t have gang rapes, blame victims, or implement honor killings. The police don’t go around whacking women with batons for wearing cosmetics, nor do they force them to go at night with male chaperons. Trust me on this one. I sure as hell wouldn’t have considered moving to Malaysia after leaving Vietnam if any of that was true. The main thing travelers must worry about is crooked cab drivers trying to rip tourists off, but that happens everywhere.