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Showing posts from July, 2012

Your Vote Is A Joke

I remained quiet about the referendum that took place last night on purpose. As some of this blog's readers have noted, it's hard to establish dialogue when discussing politics in Romania; it turns into very poisonous polemic quickly and people can't even agree to disagree. If I had talked about voting 'NO', I'd be labelled a pro-Basescu loyalist. If I'd pushed for a 'YES', it would've meant that the rule of law means nothing to me and I support the political coup d'etat that took place. Taking a position and going back and forth on the issues would've been pointless once I made myself known as an affirmed supporter of one camp or the other. Now that what's done is done, I can tell you that I didn't vote and also why I didn't. The first thing you need to realize about this referendum is that it didn't need to take place. Whether you voted or not and whichever side you support, the referendum did not need to take pla

15 Things I'd Do If I Were Supreme Almighty Leader of Romania

I've already written a bit about my hopes and dreams for this country. I truly believe that a lot of it has to do with each and every one of us who lives here, if only from the point of view that we are many and 'they' are few. But it's starting to look like a Zombie infestation. Ordinary Romanians, kids even, are infected with the "fuck this country, I'm just gonna make money any way I can" bug. The biggest irony is that if every Romanian were to magically become a billionaire overnight, I'd be willing to bet my billion that the country would be just as messed up this time next year - maybe worse. On my last trip to Bucharest, I started a conversation with my seat neighbours, a group of high school kids around seventeen or eighteen. I asked them what they think of Romania politically and what they would do to help change it. The girls were shy, but the dude with them, a really extroverted clown, started telling me that he doesn't give a shit abo

What Three Little Kids Taught Me About Being an Entrepreneur

Picture three little kids selling water on the beach. What kind of image does that title evoke? Most likely poverty, misery, dire straits. Some sort of child exploitation at best.  I came across this picture-story on Facebook. It's a friend's friend. This is the story of three siblings aged 4, 6, and 7. Donning identical red t-shirts and lugging a cooler, they have opened their first "company". Their dad is taking pictures as they walk all over the beach offering beach-goers and passers-by bottles of cold water. He takes pictures of them trying (and failing) to make a sale, and then captures the joy and excitement of their first sale after ten rejections. In the picture comment the dad writes, " the first 10 people said no and they learned that the road to 'yes' is paved with a lot of 'no's'. But persistence pays off because they sold $60 worth of water." Still feeling sorry for them? Despite the fact that these are American kids w

A Revolution is Coming

With our digital age being what it is; a web of social networks, nearly ubiquitous computing, and a constant flow of information, it's unrealistic to believe that the socio-political status quo will remain in the form it's been for the last hundred years. Education and the workplace will be the first institutions to change. Working from home is becoming the norm in many companies (I should know), while parents are increasingly disillusioned with public schooling and are looking elsewhere. The explosive growth of Khan Academy is not an accident nor a one-off.  Slowly but surely school and the office will cease to be what they are. If these cornerstones of our modern society change so dramatically, others will follow too. The biggest change will occur when we the people also become the government. We're a long way away from being the sort of peaceful self-governing societies that require no actual government authority or coercive measures to protect ourselves from each ot

The Only Thing You Need to Succeed

Empowerment. It’s a beautiful word. There can be no real life without empowerment. If we have a talent, we have to be empowered to truly use it. Empowerment is like the sun. Without it, a flower withers, no matter how much water it’s given. The longer I observe our world, the more I realize that it’s split between those who have been empowered and those who have not. But what is this ‘empowerment’ really? I may have compared it to the sun, but there needs to be something more substantial to the definition. Empowerment is the power of belief . It is your ability to believe that you can succeed, excel, and achieve great things. It’s knowing that the odds don’t need to be in your favour to accomplish your goals. Michael Phelps is not a record-holding Olympic champion just because he’s a great swimmer. He’s also empowered by a culture that has always taught him that anything is possible, that giving up isn’t an option, and that he can always do better. For some, professional

Cum Sa-i Dai Pe Toti Ticalosii Afara

Vreau sa explic, in primul rand, ca m-am gandit mult despre cum sa scriu acest post, adica in care limba. Chestia e ca, pentru unul care a terminat doar clasa a II-a in Romania, scriu okay. Dar probabil nu destul de okay de a fi luat in serios -in special daca nu clarific de la inceput ca, educatia mea in limba Romana s-a terminat in clasa a II-a. Chiar daca asta-i soarta mea, ce am de spus e pentru toti Romanii. Scriu articolul asta in Romana in speranta ca toti care-l citiesc isi vor da seama de ceva nou, de ceva la care probabil nu s-au gandit. Si ca-l trimit mai departe altilor, in special celor care se plang asa de mult de mizeria din politica noastra. Este cazul ca tu, ca si Roman/ca, sa-ti dai seama de ce fel de putere ai ca si cetetan acestei tari. Sa-ti dai seama ca fara tine, democratia nu are cum sa functioneze. Hai sa incepem de la inceput. Cuvantul 'democratie' provine de la doua cuvinte grecesti: Demos si Kratos . Acestea inseamna 'oameni' si

The Landowner and the Foreman

Many years ago, when most of the earth was still untamed by the advances of humanity, there lived a rich man named Roman. He owned a great expanse of land that stretched across many wide plains and rolling hills. It crossed dense forests and tall mountains from whose melting caps gurgled streams that turned into rivers which flowed into a great sea. Roman also had a very large family to whom he’d bestowed their own plots in different corners of his land. Some took good care of their plots and cultivated great fields of wheat and other bountiful crops. Some were animal herders, others were hunters and fisherman, while others survived on a bare minimum, lacking the ambition and vision to make the most of their gifts. One day, a strange sort of man came to Roman’s home. He told Roman that his name was Platitude and spoke of Roman’s land as if he knew every corner of it. He offered to take care of it on Roman’s behalf guided by his knowledge of crop growing, hunting, and fishing. This

The Land Of The Phonies

There are things I like a lot about America. The business values, a mentality that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit in everyone, the never-give-up, can-do attitude that people have whether they're competing for a championship or trying to bake a pie. And hamburgers, and steak. Probably some other things too, but these are the big ones. The list about things I don't like is much longer, but on top of that list sits the unique animal that you will find everywhere in America; The Phony. Maybe there's a reason Catcher in the Rye is one of my favourite books, Holden really knew what he was talking about. The Phony is the person who shakes your hand and smiles at you and then the moment you turn your back tells somebody else that they hate your guts.The Phony is the person who says they're on your side and is the first to leave when the going gets tough. The Phony is the person who calls himself a friend but is only ever around for the parties, never for the funerals.

Bipolar Nationality Disorder

This weekend I found out I'm bipolar. I don't know if it's the kind of thing people generally self-diagnose, but it is what it is. All of Saturday I ate American. I was excited about it. The local grocery store promotes a different world cuisine each week and last week was American Week. I bought beef burgers, burger buns, pancake mix, Caesar dressing, and some sort of wing sauce. These are all things I haven't eaten in a while -either because they don't really exist here or when they do, it's some sort of a bootleg version of the dish. I'm in the nightmare situation where 'a good burger' in this city is found at McDonald's. Anyway, I made the pancakes for breakfast and we ate them with butter and maple syrup (an earlier souvenir from Canada), and then at night it was burger time. Yum!  I guess the eating is one thing, but there was also something akin to the pleasure one gets from visiting an old friend. In fact, I was excited to be able to

Romania Was Better Under Communism

Believe it or not, this is actually a topic of debate among some circles in Romania. It reminds me of an awesome joke I heard on Radio Guerrilla. This guy who lives in Bucharest goes back home to visit his parents in their small town, still stuck somewhere between 1972 and 1997, where one neighbour still drives a mint condition Dacia 1100 while the other feeds the chickens every morning at 5am. That kinda place. He gets there while one of the neighbours, Ionel, is out on the porch. "Come back to visit us, eh" Ionel says. "Well you know, I don't have much time for home visits nowadays." The guy says, detecting the underlying reproach. "Oh, yeah, I know, I know, you big city folks have everything except time these days. Wasn't like that during communism, though," he says wistfully. "Come on, Ionel, we don't need to go there..." "But of course, and in some ways it was much better, really!" "Oh stop, you're goin

Failure Is So Good It's Delicious

Yesterday, I wrote about the 10 reasons why Romania is better than America , but today I want to discuss why, despite many qualities, Romania is still perceived as -and arguably, is - a backwards country while America is held up worldwide as an example of the ideal place to live. There is only one real reason - if you're reading on a mobile device please sit down as I divulge this mind-blowing secret: In America, it's okay to fail, but it's not okay to give up. In Romania, the exact opposite is true. My first 'official' failure was eleventh grade Biology. I showed up to half the classes, didn't do any homework, and 'studied' thirty minutes before the exam. Did I get shunned, persecuted, and humiliated by my teachers and parents? No, they just said, "try harder next year". You see, in America failure is recognized as a perfectly natural consequence of not trying hard enough. There is no reason to put it on the news and to be a big nega

10 Reasons Why Romania is Better Than America

Really? Yes, really. Let me count the ways. In America you can get everything you've ever dreamed of: GameBoy, Sega Genesis, plants that look like faces , and more.  Maybe if you work really hard long hours at the job you hate (but that you tell everybody you love lest you appear to be a miserable person), you can even get a flat panel home theater TV that takes up half your basement (on credit, of course). Awesomeness!! In America you can always be sure to be on top of the latest fad, such as devil sticks or Tamagochi and you will be first to read bestsellers like The DaVinci Code and Fifty Shades of Crap literature. Basically there are thousands of ways of feeling accomplished -or pretending that you are - you just need to be there to catch all these wonderful trends on time! I know what you're thinking, how can Romania possibly top all that considering America is also the land of Root beer floats and Antoine Dodson? Everything's been done in America, that's

Beat Your Telecom Provider into Submission (Balkans Version)

One of the best things about living in Romania is that in certain situations I feel like somebody who's come from the future. One of the reasons for this is that whereas the majority of Romanians are raised with the notion that they should 'keep their heads down' in front of adversity and that they should adhere to a certain code of propriety which is often totally unwarranted, I tend to do or say as I think regardless of who's around. Basically, I have no shame. Today I will tell you about how I took on my cellular company, Orange, and won. Without going into specifics, suffice to say that the 7 Euro credit I put in was wasted in a matter of days after I had agreed to their automatic plan renewal option for the month. I felt ill informed and cheated, and to make matters worse, when I called them to explain they tried to tell me I didn't pay enough attention to the small print. The actual case was that they didn't bother making that small print unambiguous.

The Romanian Mafia is the Government

A little joke I like to tell people is that the reason there is no organized crime in Romania is because Romanians can't get organized, ha-ha-ha. It's funny because it's true. The reality though is that it's only a half-truth. If you look at many of the issues plaguing this beautiful country, you'll find that most people with any sort of authority couldn't be trusted to watch a two year old sleeping without somehow messing it up. On the other hand, even if they don't gun each other down in the streets, extort shopkeepers, or provide gambling, prostitution, and loan 'services', the mafia here is your traditional parasitical entity; gouging and stripping away at its victim(s) without mercy. This has become no more apparent than in 2012, particularly during the last couple of months where the escalating turf war has been making daily headlines as the rivaling factions battle it out in Parliament, in the Courts, and through their respective media o