SharksPosted: September 16, 2008 Filed under: World | Tags: economics, economy Leave a comment
Well, well, now we know for sure. The masters of the universe are in fact no masters. They don’t have a clue either. Not on their street and not in their own companies.
For years they have allowed local banks, homeowners and real estate agents to dream up house prices, give loans based on those dreams and then pay each other fat fees and bonuses.
The homeowner, most innocent of the gang but not free of guilt, closed both eyes and enjoyed the banks generosity. People, not only in the US, got themselves annual loans to buy some whatever (“Our house went up 20% last year!”); or financed a bigger even more overvalued place with a debt on the old house (one may call this a “self-enhancing feed-back cycle”).
And as sure as physics the cycle defaulted. The long financial food-chain awoke from dreaming up asset values. With that awakening crashed a good deal of world economy, paying for the damage not only in taxes but in trust and confidence. Failing masters are scary.
Kids KingdomPosted: September 6, 2008 Filed under: Asia | Tags: Asia, Bali, Bangkok, southeast asia, Thailand 1 Comment
Despite my do-all-better colonialist mindset let me tell you that there is no better place in the world for children (and mothers) than some South-East-Asian countries, namely Bali and Thailand.
Bali tradition prohibits children to touch the ground or be alone until they get the first teeth. That means babies must always be carried around and are never to be let alone. No children “crying-it-out” in their lonely bedrooms. Especially fathers are held responsible to take care of the very youngest. In dense family compounds children grow up as responsible members of their micro community.
Children represent the gods. Mistreating them is bad luck.
In dog-eat-dog Bangkok one never sees a child being yelled at, let alone hit, never ever. If somebody raises his voice against a kid there is usually a foreigner involved. Whenever a mother with child enters a cramped bus in Thailand adults jump to offer their seats to the child. I think that is just the other way around in Europe.
Taxi drivers love to take pregnant women to hospital hoping for an early birth, because that means good luck for the driver. Police officers have basic skills in child delivery to help if the occasion arises, which is not too rare because of the bad traffic.
In the West, it may be easier to find a flat with pets than with kids. In Bangkok, having kids is a sign of reliability and gets you a much higher score with picky landlords.
Thais are simply wonderful with their kids, tolerant, patient and caring. They take them to work and let them do whatever unless they hurt themselves or others.
And you know what? These kids behave much better than the little blue-eyed expat devils. I can’t say whether that is in the genes or some sort of early conditioning. While Europeans kids kick their nannies to get what they want, the Thai kids smile and achieve the same.
BeggarsPosted: September 1, 2008 Filed under: Africa, Asia | Tags: Africa, Asia, charity, poverty, third world Leave a comment
Many soft-shelled Westerners are shocked when first confronted with the seemingly unlimited suffering on the city streets of Asia or Africa. Men without limbs lie on streets holding plastic cups with their lips, pregnant women wail for alms, little children with sad eyes roll in the mud and blind mongoloids play heartbreakingly bad on some ancient instrument. Yes, it is terrible… but look twice before you donate.
I remember a little girl with her two puppies: She slept on the busiest piece of sidewalk in town, right next to the stench and dirt of a roaring six lane road. People might have stepped on her or the dogs at any time. If you love kids and puppies, like most humans, seeing them helpless and without shelter in the filth seems too much to bear.
But, when passing that area more often, you will realize that she sleeps there only on Tuesdays and that the puppies change every month or so. Also, the dogs are strangely calm, not like normal puppies at all.
One Tuesday you will see the girl sneaking out of a taxi a couple of hundred meters up the road. In the car sits an elderly woman with three or four other girls and a lifeless heap of puppies.
They are professionals. The girls and the dogs are being used by a hard-shelled mother (if one may call this a mother). The puppies are probably drugged and die regularly, the girls never get to see a school and learn to sleep in the dirt as a profession.
The worst thing, in a twisted way, is to give them money for their performance.
Better leave a tip with that taxi driver. At least he works for a living.
Then, on the other hand, try not to harden too much and keep an eye out for people truly needing help. They are often the ones who don’t ask.