Blogging on the Beach

I have discovered that I can blog while lying on the beach. This takes my definition of happiness to a completely different level.

Russian Television Continues to Weird Me Out

The most watched TV channel in Russia shows mostly comedy programs and heated discussions about smothering mothers of middle-aged people. I patiently sat through several of these shows because I wanted to see how politics is discussed on this state-sponsored channel. There are many fascinating things happening in the country politically and I can’t help being curious.

After Putin got elected, he started introducing the kind of legislation that would prevent people from opposing him the way they did last winter. Public protests have been rendered next to impossible through stringent legislation. Internet censorship has been introduced. The political talk show I saw on Russia’s First channel addressed these legislative measures.

The entire point of this show was to convince the viewers that the people of Russia have no interest in the political process, the rigged elections, or censorship.  This was done in such a heavy-handed way that I felt vicarious shame for the Russian viewers who were expected to take this crap seriously. For instance, people were stopped in the streets and asked to name the events in their personal lives that mattered to them. People talked of weddings, retirements, births of children and grandchildren.

“You see?” the show’s host asked triumphantly. “Nobody cares about whether the elections were falsified. ”

To make the show more convincing, representatives of “opposition” parties were invited to participate in the discussion. Of course, they weren’t the actual opposition but, rather, leaders of fake parties sponsored by the Kremlin to pretend like there is genuine political dissent in the country. The only actual representative of the opposition was a guy from the Communist party. He, at least, sounded marginally lucid and even pointed out that credit and debit are two different things that should not be confused. Other “politicians” shrugged him off by saying that such minor details were irrelevant.

I have to say that when Communists are the only people who don’t see the difference between credit and debit as insignificant, you are in deep shit.

Third World Mentality

Carlos has a souvenir stall at the resort. He almost never gets any customers even though you can hardly find a single tourist who isn’t interested in buying a Dominican souvenir.

The reason for Carlos’s lack of sales is the way he conducts business. Whenever a potential customer appears and starts to ask for the price of an item, Carlos refuses to name it. Instead, he places all of the items the customer seems to notice on a plate. When the plate begins to spill over with items, Carlos names an absolutely exorbitant price for them. If the customer is anything like me, she feels insulted and leaves. In most other cases, the customer imagines the length of time it would take to haggle the price down to something reasonable, feels bored, and leaves.

If Carlos put reasonable price tags on his souvenirs, he’d sell out his stock within hours. However, the painstaking hunt for a tiny margin of profit does not attract him. He prefers to spend his time hoping for a miracle. One day, he dreams, a tourist who’d be too drunk or too rich to care would stumble upon Carlos’s stall and buy an item for 20 times its worth.

I recognize this mentality only too well from my own culture. People spend years chasing after some ridiculous plans of rapid self -enrichment that never come to anything. In the meanwhile, they live in poverty. Try offering them a reasonable opportunity to make a small profit (and then a slightly bigger one and so on), and you will see the light go out of their eyes and boredom take place of enthusiasm.

“Why do you work so much for so little money? ” is the question my Ukrainian relatives and acquaintances ask me all the time.

By Reader Request: The Meaning of Life

I have mentioned before that I have the meaning of life all figured out. So now I have an obligation to share my findings with everybody. Please don’t expect anything Earth-shattering, though. The best ideas are always the simplest.

The meaning of my life (just mine, mind you. You can and should figure out your own meaning) is to have fun. That’s all. For me, life is about enjoying every aspect of it. I aim to reduce the number of things I don’t enjoy to the minimum.

Whenever I share this with people, some smart-ass immediately starts bellyaching about “what if you enjoy hurting people and eating babies for breakfast, should the pursuit of enjoyment still be your main life goal.” This, of course, is nothing but a sign that the smart-ass in question hates his or her own life and envies my unapologetic quest to enjoy mine.

And now I will go and enjoy my life on the beach. 🙂