If you are ever in the spoiled, lucky position to watch television for a living, it would be wise to avoid tabulating the length and frequency in which you spend in front of the TV, your mouth agape, crumbs speckled along the edges of your shirt collar, your head pliable as a block of left out cheese. There is no accounting of this time without courting depression. Save those feelings of regret and inadequacy (I could have been doing so much more with my time! you lie to yourself) for when your cable bill—which is still $200, still a complete a shock after all these years—arrives in your inbox. But [...]
Budapest had never been my favorite European capital, but a job in a foreign city is always better than a job wherever I happen to be living at the moment. This is why, on a balmy Southern California morning in February of 1996, I voluntarily carried my only possessions to Los Angeles International Airport's Tom Bradley terminal the customary three hours prior to departure. The first two hours passed pleasantly at the airport lounge, where my friend Steve and I drank double Greyhounds served in pint glasses.
The Double Greyhound is just a lot of vodka with grapefruit juice to soften the blow. We had been drinking these regularly in [...]
THE EUROPEAN CONTAGION STRIKES! Thanks, everyone but Germany. (And so long, value of Swiss francs!) It's so nice to blame Europe for our "stock market woes" (which, you know, the standard caveats on that phrase, because, "higher DOW = better for everyone" is not a true thing).
Oh hey, in case you missed it: you should enjoy this tale of how America's banks are papering over their tasty robomortgages of the 00s. Legal in some cases/states! Not gonna fly in others. La la la, hey right, was there a recent housing market/bank crisis that nearly undid America? Sending employment numbers now-permanently into the land of terrible? [...]
I'm not quite sure what the Times means by "personal liability mortgages" in their fascinating story today on the insanity of foreclosures in Spain, because that phrase doesn't really exist in English. But, yow, I did have no idea that repossession wasn't the end of owing money on loans and mortgages, and that mortgage debt was excluded from bankruptcies in Spain. Maybe there are actually ways in which the U.S. looks out for individuals that is better for people than they way it is done in Europe! Huh. Still, it is hilarious to look back at this BusinessWeek article from 2007, which declares Europe's mortgage and housing and [...]
It's hot out! And this is the unofficial start of summer. Hence our series of essays this week: Here Comes Summer!
My friend Sarah [not her real name!] and I were wandering the streets of Nice, wearing 60-pound backpacks. We needed a place to stay. I hadn't made a reservation. I hadn't thought you needed to make reservations at the kind of cheap youth hostels I'd been planning on staying in. My Lonely Planet guide hadn't mentioned that part, or at least I hadn't paid attention. Let me tell you, should you ever plan on making such a trip, to a vacation destination like Nice in the middle of [...]
"Europe is often held up as a cautionary tale, a demonstration that if you try to make the economy less brutal, to take better care of your fellow citizens when they're down on their luck, you end up killing economic progress. But what European experience actually demonstrates is the opposite: social justice and progress can go hand in hand," writes Paul Krugman in today's Times. It is indeed contrary to the narrative you usually hear concerning Europe, and it reminded me of these recent remarks by Tony Judt: "It would be pleasing-but misleading-to report that social democracy, or something like it, represents the future that we would paint [...]
The man born Rolf Magnus Joakim Larsson turns 50 today, so let's take a moment to reflect upon his signature achievement: this song, which Wikepedia notes "is now a ringtone in hundreds of thousands of mobile phones all over the world." You may find the work to be a bit bombastic or overblown, but unless you have created something that has had just as much significance in the lives of so many different people, [...]
Here is a good new rap song from Pusha T of the Virginian duo Clipse, and more recently, Kanye West's Good Music collective. It has a guest verse from Rick Ross on it, which I think neither adds nor detracts from its quality. The best part is the beat, made by Kanye and 24-year-old Atlantan producer Southside—despite the fact that it might remind you of Europe's "The Final Countdown."
Right now, people are demonstrating outside a British court, where Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange will most likely receive bail and a court date, according to the American papers, or, according to the English papers, he will enter the European fast-tracked extradition system. Assange turned himself in early this morning local time on Swedish charges, described by the (British) police as "one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010." One interesting thing to note, according to the Guardian: "If extradited to Sweden under the European Arrest Warrant—a process which could [...]
I'm probably not the only one whose heart gets all fluttery when he sees the words "Gypsies" and "illegal camps" and "deportation" and "repatriation" in the same story, right? (Maybe that is just because I recently re-read Bruce Sterling's "Black Swan" last night, in which Nicolas Sarkozy is Nicolas the Rat, evil criminal.) Anyway, yeah. The Gypsies! Since we didn't manage to sterilize all of them in the 80s, I guess Sarkozy can send them out of France and back to Olde Europa. (Which is what? Moldavia?) Just don't let them near Sweden or Denmark. Or Germany. Or Italy. Or the Czech Republic. Or Hungary. [...]
The skies over Europe have reopened after days and days of being blocked by ash from Iceland's EyjafjallajÃ¶kull volcano, with 80% of scheduled flights expected to take off today and all of them supposedly going airborne tomorrow! But given that there are some 95,000 cancellations that need to have their passengers rerouted, we can probably expect to hear complaining about The Deal With Airports for another couple of days, at the very least.
So apparently the hot new thing is to go to Europe and sleep on hay beds. CNN says so! Hay hotels. Yes, sure. "With private bedrooms and the option for 'real' beds, the 'Zum Alten Marstall' is at the 'luxury' end of the market. It also takes advantage of its position at the foot of the 11th century Castle Guttenberg by adopting medieval styling throughout. Here staff wear embroidered tunics and woolen cloaks and male guests are referred to as 'Knights.'" All the rancid eel pie you can eat! Also you get lice and, on weekends, all the peasants you can beat to death. But come Monday, its back [...]
Here's a funny way to keep track of who's racist against whom and how in Europe.
So you didn't win a Nobel Prize in Literature this week. Unless your name is Mr. Mo. Although, if you live in Europe, you did win a consolation Nobel Peace Prize at least. (Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is like giving an Oscar to Alf.) Anyway, I know, it’s total bullshit. You totally deserved it. But you might just be a calendar year away from getting the recognition you so obviously deserve. Let me show you the way.
I waited by the phone all week for that congratulatory call from overseas myself! Not for the stuff I’ve already written, which, let’s admit, is pretty amazing. But [...]
This is my new desktop picture. It's from Avatar, the final fight scene when Jake Sully battles Colonel Quaritch in his lethal mecha suit! Actually, it's not. It's from this slideshow of finalists from the German Society of Wildlife Photographers' European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Which is better, really, because James Cameron probably won't show up speaking Na'vi at the awards ceremony. Check them out. Lots of beautifulness.
Apparently Science is saying that fewer than half of American boys are being circumcised now! This is good news, because, you guys, circumcision is really weird. It's a super-weird thing to do! And the whole "circumcision as HIV prevention" thing is wacko. You know what prevents HIV? Not putting condom-free penises inside things. And… as always, this is bad news too.
I have always wanted someone to explain the huge phenomenon of gay Czech porn, and now someone has! It is fascinating. But, of course, the Internet (let's destroy it!), and the recession, are causing a downturn. "Back then, when the internet didn't offer as much free material and models weren't so easy to find, Alan Capier made as much as 130,000 crowns a month ($7,303), more than 10 times as much as he earned as a paramedic. But he was one of the highest earners in the porn business. Most models never dreamed of making more than $2,000 monthly. Still, it was a nice income, often for no [...]
Dozens of voters across Europe turned up this weekend to cast their ballots for the European Parliament. The result was an impressive victory for the parties of the right. How'd the politicians we (i.e., me) follow do?