Sunday, November 27, 2005

Holidy Shopping Tips

Christmas time. The celebration of capitalism. The time to move money around the economy by buying gifts for people.

Pundits and the like have decided to offer us some tips on how to make the most of this celebration. This article attempts to offer some sage advice. I'll just pick on the first one.

First you should -- "Use a credit card that offers a cash rebate. Put all your holiday purchases on the same card and pay it off when you get the bill. Do not let it slip into next year."

This sounds great. Nowehere does it say you should have saved up during the year for Christmas. I do agree with the cash rebate part (I myself have the 2% Costco/AMEX card) but often times the max rate you can earn is contingent upon carrying a balance. If one rolls a balance for a while, where's the rebate going? To pay for the interest.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Paris Riots

It seems that Europe for the past 50 years has tried to erase it's shared history, identity, and any sense of nationalism. Most likely, this is out of a sense of collective guilt for starting two world wars and allowing the holocaust to happen…just in the 20th century. Something darker once lurked. But thankfully, this is being actively stamped out and replaced by something grander, bolder: The European Union. These riots have shattered some common myths Europeans have constructed for themselves to allow them to escape their history once and for all.

The current EU model of center/left social safety hammocks, political correctness, and multiculturalism does not appear to be enough to buy off and placate the masses, especially the masses of unemployed immigrants in the outskirts of Paris, where the initial rioting began. Several reports cited French politicians saying there is a lack of economic opportunity in these areas and that is why they are rioting. Perhaps that is true. After all, idle hands are the tool of the devil But one must ask: what is stifiling job creation and economic opportunity? Center/left social policies? A myth shattered: government money cannot placate the masses forever.

French officials cannot even denounce the rioters as criminals and thugs without being labeled "insensitive". This invariably limits their ability to clearly define the problem and act upon it. One must ask: if they are not criminals, what are they? Political correctness appears to allow one to call a spade something else for only so long before reality shatters the Orwellian construct of doublespeak…where existing words may control peoples thoughts and speech but not their passions and emotions. An angry man lashes out first, an articulate man may lash out after he has aired his grievances.

Terrorist bombings are easier to accept if they are perceived as isolated events, not as part of larger movements or uprisings. How will Europeans perceive these riots? As an isolated event, or something larger? Has a critical mass been reached in the Muslim? How does it look when a Western government is unable to quell violence in national capital?

Lurking beneath all of this lies something darker and unspoken, something else. Referring to the blogs that called this a strategic moment in Europe's history…have these riots awakened the sleeping -not dead- ghosts of pre-21st century Europe? Have these riots given birth to a new collective Muslim identity across Europe? Can the politicans reconstruct the myths in time?

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