Perspective, And Numbers

I read in some article in the Dead Tree Telegraph this morning about how the BritGov (thanks to the foul Tony Blair’s NuLabour governance) has been spending £4 for every £3 it collected.

Yeah, we can all do the ratio on that one. But how much more effective would it have been to use the same ratio, only with actual proportions, i.e. “The Government has been spending £400 billion for every £300 billion it collects in taxes.” Same ratio, far more effective; and if I may say, also more truthful.

I don’t wanna ask what the USGov’s ratio has been, under Urkel Obama’s stewardship.

Merger News

I see that CBS and the BBC are going to join forces:

CBS News on Thursday announced a new “editorial and newsgathering relationship” with BBC News “that will significantly enhance the global reporting capabilities of both organizations,” the networks said in a joint statement. “CBS News is completely committed to original reporting around the world — a commitment clearly shared by the BBC,” said CBS News President David Rhodes. “There’s no better partner to strengthen and extend our global coverage than BBC News. I look forward to working with James Harding as we increase the capabilities of both organizations.”

Of course, to conservatives like us this would be, in Orwell-speak, “doubleplusCommie”.

I’ve been watching BBC-TV while Over Here, and needless to say, I can think of at least one good reason why people here aren’t allowed to own handguns. The attrition rate of TVs would be horrendous.

Bye Bye Volvo

According to a report I read in yesterday’s Dead Tree newspaper (online link), Volvo has decided to stop making gasoline-powered cars altogether; all future Volvo models will be exclusively electrically-powered.

Let’s be honest about this. Volvo has always been a niche brand in the U.S. — even the venerable 240D wagon was pretty much beloved only by academics and a few soccer moms of the period — so it appears that the Swedes (or Chinese, if you prefer their actual ownership) have decided to make the brand even more niche-ier: trading the twenty or so people who wanted to buy Volvos for the nine people who want to buy electric cars (or the two people who want to buy specifically a Volvo electric car).

That’s for the U.S. market, of course. Maybe this will work for Volvo in Europe, where they only have to travel a few miles between destinations and the electric cars there need weekly recharges (instead of hourly, in America). Who knows? stranger things have been known to happen Over Here, but I have to tell you, I just don’t see it.

I was going to end this post with “Sic transit Volvo“, except that “volvo” in Latin means “I roll” so the phrase would make no sense. But you know what I mean.

Quandary

Back in the U.S., I normally play the lottery each week (shuddup, it’s my retirement plan and it’s only a couple bucks “investment” each time), mostly when the payout is respectable.

So this past Tuesday, I bought a Euromillions lottery ticket because the payout is €70 million ($79 million). The tax on that $79 mill works out to about $32 million — except that all over Europe and the U.K., Euromillions lottery winnings are not taxed. This is not the case in the U.S., of course, where the godless fiends of the IRS will swoop down and take Uncle Sam’s 40% (pound of flesh) share at gunpoint.

Which leads to an interesting thought.

$79 million is an awful lot of “fuck you” money — a lot more than the post-tax $47 million. Needless to say, U.S. citizens are forbidden to have overseas bank accounts without disclosing such accounts and their contents to the IR fucking S, so that Uncle Sam, in this case, could collect the aforementioned 32 million pounds of flesh.

But the lottery is paid out Over Here, not in the U.S.

What would stop the winner from saying a simple “fuck you!” to the IRS, give up his U.S. citizenship, refuse to pay them their “goodbye” tax (“fuck you again”) and take up residence somewhere like Monaco, Liechtenstein, or one of the several tax havens scattered around this part of the world? (Believe me: show up at one of those countries’ embassy or consulate with $79 million cash and ask for “asylum”, and they’d get into fistfights to get you to pick their country over the others.)

In other words, at what point does one say that citizenship isn’t worth the price one has to pay for it — especially when all the USGov will do with your money is piss it away on the usual government wastage like Solyndra subsidies or welfare for illegal aliens?

I know I probably sound like some liberal asshole who doesn’t want their tax dollars to go to military spending, but in my case it’s the exact reverse sentiment: if I could pay my “windfall” lottery taxes direct to the Pentagon, specifically earmarked towards a new aircraft carrier, F-35 or couple of M1 Abrams tanks, I’d do it in a moment, without hesitation. But you can’t do that, can you? Tax dollars go into the “General Fund”, and are then siphoned off by the usual suspects into subsidies for objectionable art projects or even worse, to federal funding for Oberlin College, while the Pentagon gets fractions of a penny from the tax dollar, literally.

I’m making something of a joke about this situation because I’d never do it — my citizenship is too precious to me, I’d feel like I’d betrayed my adopted homeland, and I could not face never being able to visit my kids, family and friends back in the U.S. for the rest of my life.

But I have to tell you, I wouldn’t attack someone who made the opposite decision. Which should tell you how far our beloved government has fallen in public esteem — because if I, one of our country’s proudest and most grateful adopted citizens can even be tempted to thinking about this option, how badly have they screwed things up?

So come on, all you loyal Americans out there: what would you do with $79 million sitting in Europe, waiting to be given to you? Stay over there forever, living in luxury, or pay the taxes and live here in 40% less luxury?

And just to put this thing into perspective: assuming you dedicate 10% of your new non-taxed fortune to housing (and that’s not a bad principle), what you could get for your money in the Principality is the top floor of this little thing:

Grandstanding Blackmail

If there’s any modern trend I hate, it’s the one where a guy makes a marriage proposal to his girlfriend in as public a manner as possible, supposedly to “show the world his devotion to her”. Here’s an excellent example of this nonsense.

Regardless of how any public marriage proposal is presented, it’s really nothing more than moral blackmail. When presented with a marriage proposal in front of hundreds of people, of course the hapless girl is going to say “yes”, if for no other reason than to spare her lovestruck swain considerable embarrassment and humiliation.

And yet that’s precisely what the conniving little shit deserves. On principle, every girl who gets a proposal via the stadium jumbotron screen should not only turn the proposal down, but walk out on the relationship for good — slap in the face is optional — because trust me, this manipulative behavior will not end there.

When I see this compilation, though, I feel better immediately.  (#3 is my absolute favorite, by the way.)

A marriage proposal is probably the most important decision a couple can make in their entire life — certainly, it’s one of the most intimate — and therefore it should not be stuck out in the public eye.

The Great Skin Debate

Aaah, tattoos… or as I prefer to call them, body graffiti.

I have two major points to make about this topic.

The first is that I think that the acceptance of tattoos is yet another sign of the coarsening of our society and its growing decadence. If we look at who’s sported tattoos on their bodies in the distant past, it’s been primitive tribes attempting to make their warriors look more fearsome (e.g. Maoris, Amazon tribes), or else the womenfolk of the tribes trying to make themselves look unappealing to men once they were married / paired off permanently, or else all members of a tribe wearing the same markings as a symbol of identity, to distance them from members of other tribes. Regardless of why, however, the common aspect of all was that these were the actions of primitive peoples. So now it appears that because tattoos have become somehow “cool” or tokens of individuality, we as a society have to accept them. After all, nobody gets hurt, right? (I’m leaving out the tragedy of infection and so on, because that’s relatively rare nowadays.)

My other point is personal, so buckle yourself in, because this is going to be a bumpy ride. To start with a humorous take, here’s a little guide to tattoo placement:

I’ve never really understood tattoos as decoration. Maybe it’s because I was brought up to believe that only low-class types got tattoos: they, sailors and strange Asian people. However, it seems that nowadays just about everyone has them, except for every woman I’ve ever dated — it’s an immediate disqualifier for me: no matter how small, how discreet or how “tasteful”, ink on a woman’s skin = Kim moving in the general direction of away. I can understand why men get tattoos, because we’re idiots and do stupid shit all the time — not excusing, just understanding — but I see no reason why a woman should ever deface her body, for any reason whatsoever. (Yeah, I’m pedestalizing, to use that horrible modern term. Sue me.) Even stuff like this, while undoubtedly artistic and aesthetically pleasant to look at, occasions from me at best a disgusted curl of the lip when I see it in (or on) the flesh. On silk, it’s beautiful; on a woman’s skin, repulsive.

Then, of course, you get outcomes such as this one, which turns an already-trashy-looking girl into a vision of pure horror:

You just know she’s got a “tramp stamp” at the base of her spine. (My take on tramp stamps: regardless of the design or verbiage, what they’re all saying is: Insert Here.) Don’t even get me started on tattoos around the vulva… ugh.

I’ve also never understood why a beautiful woman would get a tattoo. (Ugly ones, sure: why not? You’re already ugly.) A good example would be Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden. Unquestionably, a lovely woman:

Inexplicably, she has two (!) tattoos. “Yeah, but they’re not visible, Kim!” Well, except (and one hopes, only) to her husband. Seems kinda pointless to me, especially for a woman who seems to have everything in her life under control. (But I’ll get to that later.) Then you get this neurotic bint, who says that older women getting a tattoo means that “they still have something to say”. Yes, and that something is: “Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean getting wiser.”

Of course, my ire is not just aimed at women. David Beckham, supremely-talented footballer and canny businessman, has turned his once-handsome body into some kind of freak show:

Jesus wept. (Literally: see bottom-left corner.) I know: footballers are generally low-class scum (also musicians, another massively-tattooed segment of the population), but even for scum, Beckham’s taken it A Picture Too Far (or several pictures too far). (For my Lady Readers, here’s Beckham, pre-body-decorations:)

Note, by the way, that he’s wearing a shirt to cover up some of his arm tattoos. That was the manufacturer’s marketing department, not wanting to alienate the average consumer.

When it comes to men, I sort of get the “bonding” rationale — “Semper Fi”, “U.S.S. Arizona”, “Rangers Lead The Way”, and even “Harley-Davidson” and so on. I also get the “commemorative” ones: “Bagram AFB 2015”, “Bastogne 1944” etc. I don’t agree with the rationale, but I get it. But as for examples like Beckham’s? Sorry, I got nothing. I just ascribe it to “Men Do Stupid Shit” and move along. (And please spare me the “bad boy” bullshit. Real bad boys don’t advertise; and women who get taken in by that deserve everything they get, e.g. hepatitis C.)

Here’s how I approach the whole issue. If I were going to get a tattoo, I say to myself, what would it be? What would I want to immortalize on my skin?

Right off, I can eliminate messages, sayings, or any verbiage whatsoever. I can think of no saying or statement that would qualify as worthy of being on my body, forever. “Mother”? Give me a break. If I’d ever got one of those idiotic things, my mom would have killed me. Yeah, you love your mother. Me too. Everybody else too. BFD. And as for those “affirmation” expressions: “Love Is All”, “Strength Through Willpower”, “Keep Believing” (in what? God? yourself? the Chicago Cubs? a Doobie Brothers reunion?”), and my All-Time Bullshit Message: “No Mercy”… really? You’re that much of a bad-ass that you have to advertise it? It’s “message” body art by Hallmark, except Hallmark would never create crap messages such as these. I also love the ones which feature Chinese or Japanese pictograms, and laugh like hell when the hapless recipient discovers that the tattooist has actually written “Idiot Gaijin” or “Won Ton Soup” instead of “Mighty Warrior”, as requested.

And then there’s the stupefying array of crucifixes. Yeah, I bet Jesus is SO proud of you. Why don’t you just wear a simple crucifix on a chain around your neck — it says the same thing, is less painful / expensive, and as a bonus, you don’t look trashy. If it comes to Christians like this, give me an Orthodox Jew any day. (Tattoos are forbidden under Talmudic Law as something like “defiling God’s creation”. No truer words were ever written.)

The problem is, when we think of images to be tattooed onto our skin, we fondly think they’re likely to look beautiful and artistic, like this:

…when the odds are better that they’ll instead come out like this:

You know, that last pic actually makes me feel nauseated. Imagine that woman serving you food at a restaurant… and yes, I have asked to be moved to another table featuring a non-sleeved waitress (Kirby Lane in Austin, TX).

And I note that tattoo reversal is becoming HUGE business in Japan, because companies are finding that employees with unmarked skin tend to be better at their jobs — less absenteeism, better attitude, more reliable — and are therefore refusing to hire people with visible tattoos. Just sayin’.

I remember doing one of those foul “speed-dating” things once, back when I was a single guy. My very first question to a prospective date was: “So… tell me the story behind your tattoos.” (There’s always a story / excuse.) Any response which wasn’t “I don’t have any tattoos!” meant she had no chance with me. More than half the women I spoke to were tattooed, sadly, so I didn’t bother with the speed-dating thing again. And for the record: I have never slept with a woman who has a tattoo. Won’t ever, either.

Here’s my final take. With only a few exceptions, I think decorative tattoos — especially comprehensive ones like full-body or sleeves — are indicative of some mild form of pyschosis. There is a peculiar strain of either narcissism or self-loathing involved, and (paradoxically) maybe both. Whatever it is, I’m not really interested in trying to understand it.

Yup. You call it “clever-ironic-witty”, I call it confirmation.

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 Afterthought: I’ve probably pissed off a sizeable number of people with this post. I don’t care. If you are thus defaced, know that there’s a considerable proportion of the population who feels exactly the same way as I do — and as I always say, if you’re going to deliberately set yourself apart from polite society, don’t be surprised when you’re treated like a pariah. Or maybe that’s the point: “I’m a rebel!” Yeah, you and all the other people with tattoos. Repeat after me: “We’re all individuals!

Yeesh.