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Eurobrat and Winston's interview

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Postby eurobrat » Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:16 pm

publicduende wrote:He chose to let his frustration get to him to the point he could no longer see straight, and he took on Italy as the scapegoats of all that is wrong in Western Europe and perhaps the world.


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Postby publicduende » Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:25 pm

gsjackson wrote:PD, you may not identify with them politically, but you are solidly in the one percent. That is a City of London financial profile, which bears no relation to the real economy that most people have to live in. Especially in the U.S., where something like 70 percent of the population has virtually no net worth, and lives paycheck to paycheck.

Without making any comment about the psychological/mental health issues you and EB have raised, I would agree with Rock that EB is in a fairly enviable situation -- young, free of debt (I presume) and commitments, living in one of the world's great cities, making enough to have a decent social life and travel occasionally. The sort of career tracks you seem to be recommending to him just aren't available to him in the U.S. now. A young white male from the West coast with a B.A. -- no, all he can do is scramble and freelance, just like he's doing in Berlin, and make about the same amount of money.


Oh gsjackson, you have no idea who are the 1% bracket in London...definitely not me and my wife, I can guarantee you :)

That was never the reason why I dared (and I see I've got people immediately jumping on it) mention a couple of figures about my financial situation. It was, really, just to say that:

1) I am not this filthy rich yet miserable corporate slave EB pictures me to be (because it's convenient for him to paint himself with the high contrast brush);

2) I am, in fact, neither too happy, nor too miserable. I have a life which we could call quite ordinary and - something the younger of you guys haven't tried yet (or tried a long time ago and forgot) - I am married and some of my choices have to consider another head in the equation, possibly even more little heads in the near future.

I am not recommending anything to EB, and heaven forbids I will ever go near that with anyone anymore, I do take the point, at least judging his most recent posts, that is he thoroughly enjoying his current lifestyle in Berlin. Good for him. What I am criticising, and vehemently so, is that our fine gentleman is taking his (apparent) state of bliss as a proof that my life choices and lifestyle are completely wrong. To go with a metaphor, it's not his whiteness I am debating, but the fact that he wants to paint me pitch black to look brighter.

Well, that is not fair, and it sounds and smells like another one of his cheap tricks to look like the Great Expat Hero while I am just another ageing man stuck in a boring life he hates to bits. It so happens that neither narratives are correct. Many of you obviously will side him because his story is what resonates the most with the HA vibe. That I accept. At the end of the day, the reason why I joined this forum 3 years ago is because I felt "happier abroad" precisely where I was: away from my hometown (in London), married to a foreigner (a Colombiana) and living a life that my modest southern Italian town and perhaps one of those entitled b*tches that seem to come standard in much of the Western world would have never afforded me.

I have "been there and done that" too, when I was EB's age and younger (and even a bit older). I travelled for work, pleasure and even as an extreme consequence of some tragic events that recently fell on me. I am 40, though, and cannot live the life of a 28 years old forever. And, probably due to those aforementioned events finally fading in the background, I now welcome a measure to stability a little more than I used to.

gsjackson wrote:Again, without making any judgment about whether someone is truly happy -- which always depends on the individual and his attitude, notwithstanding the thesis of this website -- I would note also that when I flew into Berlin after a month and a half in the Balkans, the comparative sense of economic vibrancy was palpable. While most of us here lambaste the superficialities and distorted values of western consumer capitalism, there may be something to EB's notion that economic prosperity has something to do with the quality of social relations. I'm here to testify that in the golden economic era of the U.S., circa 1945-1973, the human climate was far more agreeable. And I'm not misremembering. Now it's all about the hustle and the con; everybody's a mark.


I have to assume you are talking about Serbia and Belgrade, when you say "the Balkans". There's obviously little to compare and a lot to contrast putting Berlin and Belgrade, indeed Europe's engine Gemany and post-soviet (semi-)failed state Serbia, on the same table. Can I just point out that it's never that black and white, even in cities where the predominant socio-demographic trends seem to favour a certain type of economic status and lifestyle. Yes, Berlin is famous for its large swathes of young people from the four corners of Europe who acknowledge the (relatively) limited career opportunities and just sit back and enjoy occasional jobs and the cheap beer and laid back life. And yes, London often makes the news about the sky-high cost of its fancy pubs and glamorous restaurants, the off-limits rents and house prices, the arrays of MacLarens and Ferraris parked everywhere around Knightsbridge and Chelsea.

It is also true that both cities are big and varied enough to cater for the opposite demographics and lifestyle. It's still very possible to live a messy and fun student life with no more than £20 for a night in London, and (haven't seen but can imagine) it's possible to live the high life in Berlin. It's who you are, who you know, and above all who you want to be.
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Postby publicduende » Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:35 pm

eurobrat wrote:See Public Duende seems to see happiness as just getting a big pay check where I see no problem with a smaller pay check but more nomad and free lifestyle. I don't want the responsibilities he has right now or the headache he experiences, because I've been there and done that.


More of your projections and assumptions. Knowing what you know about me, you know that my paycheck is the last factor that could define my happiness, and it has in fact been so for much longer than that momentous 2011. My responsibilities don't come from the paycheck, in fact being a contractor means having the least amount of responsibility (quite a lot of liability, though, as people often see you as some sort of technical wizard) and the freedom to leave after 6 months or a year. The responsibilities come from the fact that I want to feel responsible for those choices of mine that directly affect my wife and the family I may be having in the near future.

Anything deeply wrong, or revolutionary, or despicable about that? Like I told you and this forum quite a lot of times, I am not debating your life choices, but the fact that you have this urge of having to get back at me as a rotten apple, a dark backdrop against which you want to feel brighter, stronger, happier.

Not to sound cheesy, but I did lend my hand and offered my friendship and my help. You chose to pack as much hate as you could, pour it over an entire country blindly and now being all excited about a society that is nowhere near as radically different as you think. As they say in Italian, "tutto bene, speriamo solo che duri" (all good, one can only hope it will last).
Last edited by publicduende on Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby eurobrat » Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:40 pm

publicduende wrote:Oh gsjackson, you have no idea who are the 1% bracket in London...definitely not me and my wife, I can guarantee you :)


Duende, maybe you have some more delusions going on inside your head thinking you're broke "woe is me I only have a £600k house in Cambridge" but in reality you are who you hate, you are in the top 1%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom

The mean income in London was £22,800 per year with the average Briton paying £4,060 in income tax.

Percentile point
Top 1%

Wealth to qualify
£688,228

Percentage of total wealth owned by people at and above this level
21% of total UK wealth

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Postby publicduende » Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:54 pm

eurobrat wrote:
publicduende wrote:Oh gsjackson, you have no idea who are the 1% bracket in London...definitely not me and my wife, I can guarantee you :)


Duende, maybe you have some more delusions going on inside your head thinking you're broke "woe is me I only have a £600k house in Cambridge" but in reality you are who you hate, you are in the top 1%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom

The mean income in London was £22,800 per year with the average Briton paying £4,060 in income tax.

Percentile point
Top 1%

Wealth to qualify
£688,228

Percentage of total wealth owned by people at and above this level
21% of total UK wealth



Are you talking about income or equity (or total assets)? Are you talking about students and families who live on welfare (and lots of undeclared income) in the 50% of suburban London that is deprived and depressed? If you really have to compare, do it with my age brackets. The 1% of that bracket is millionaires. A modest businessman is a millionaire. A senior doctor is a millionaire. A few friends of mine make the same money as me and sit on at couple of millions of equity. They are "more 1%" than me, so I am definitely not 1% in my demographics in London.

LOL did you read what I wrote? I don't have a £600K house equity. I project I will have that sort of figure once the remodelling project is done and if the markets don't tank (which they might, but I won't care too much as that's the house I'll be living in). And I will have to shell out at least £200K for that to happen. :)

And since you said you've done all that a couple of years ago, so a full 14 years before me, what exactly is your point?
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Postby eurobrat » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:11 am

publicduende wrote:Not to sound cheesy, but I did lend my hand and offered my friendship and my help. You chose to pack as much hate as you could, pour it over an entire country blindly and now being all excited about a society that is nowhere near as radically different as you think. As they say in Italian, "tutto bene, speriamo solo che duri" (all good, one can only hope it will last).


What help? LOL. Sorry but if thats the best you got for friendship and help then you need to take a look at what you're selling. I remember you telling me at one point "Pagaia la tua canoa".
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Postby eurobrat » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:15 am

publicduende wrote:
eurobrat wrote:
publicduende wrote:Oh gsjackson, you have no idea who are the 1% bracket in London...definitely not me and my wife, I can guarantee you :)


Duende, maybe you have some more delusions going on inside your head thinking you're broke "woe is me I only have a £600k house in Cambridge" but in reality you are who you hate, you are in the top 1%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom

The mean income in London was £22,800 per year with the average Briton paying £4,060 in income tax.

Percentile point
Top 1%

Wealth to qualify
£688,228

Percentage of total wealth owned by people at and above this level
21% of total UK wealth



Are you talking about income or equity (or total assets)? Are you talking about students and families who live on welfare (and lots of undeclared income) in the 50% of suburban London that is deprived and depressed? If you really have to compare, do it with my age brackets. The 1% of that bracket is millionaires. A modest businessman is a millionaire. A senior doctor is a millionaire. A few friends of mine make the same money as me and sit on at couple of millions of equity. They are "more 1%" than me, so I am definitely not 1% in my demographics in London.

LOL did you read what I wrote? I don't have a £600K house equity. I project I will have that sort of figure once the remodelling project is done and if the markets don't tank (which they might, but I won't care too much as that's the house I'll be living in). And I will have to shell out at least £200K for that to happen. :)

And since you said you've done all that a couple of years ago, so a full 14 years before me, what exactly is your point?


According to the demographics then when you're done with your project, you're in the top 1%. Sorry but £600k parked in one house has no appeal to me, you could probably buy a night club and all the p***y you could handle in the Philippines for that much money.
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Postby gsjackson » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:55 am

publicduende wrote:I have to assume you are talking about Serbia and Belgrade, when you say "the Balkans". There's obviously little to compare and a lot to contrast putting Berlin and Belgrade, indeed Europe's engine Gemany and post-soviet (semi-)failed state Serbia, on the same table. Can I just point out that it's never that black and white, even in cities where the predominant socio-demographic trends seem to favour a certain type of economic status and lifestyle. Yes, Berlin is famous for its large swathes of young people from the four corners of Europe who acknowledge the (relatively) limited career opportunities and just sit back and enjoy occasional jobs and the cheap beer and laid back life.


I am talking about Belgrade, where I spent 40 days this trip, Sarajevo, where I spent a month this trip, side trips to Novi Sad and Mostar, and a couple months spent all over Croatia on this trip and others.

I don't think it's correct to refer to Yugoslavia as ever having been "post-Soviet." They were never aligned with the Soviet bloc, and if Belgrade tour guides are to be believed, Stalin called for Tito's assassination. Apparently, Yugoslavia had a model of socialism that worked better than the Soviets'. A functional model of socialism just wouldn't do, so the West broke Yugoslavia up into seven impoverished, corrupt little kleptocracies.

The vibe of economic vibrancy I sensed in Berlin had to do with the substantial middle class and their retail opportunities, not young people living la vie de boheme. My impressions are hardly the final word on the subject, but I think there may be something to EB's contention that economic prosperity may correlate more with a friendlier social vibe than what you see in countries that are in economic decline.
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Postby eurobrat » Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:56 am

gsjackson wrote:
publicduende wrote:I have to assume you are talking about Serbia and Belgrade, when you say "the Balkans". There's obviously little to compare and a lot to contrast putting Berlin and Belgrade, indeed Europe's engine Gemany and post-soviet (semi-)failed state Serbia, on the same table. Can I just point out that it's never that black and white, even in cities where the predominant socio-demographic trends seem to favour a certain type of economic status and lifestyle. Yes, Berlin is famous for its large swathes of young people from the four corners of Europe who acknowledge the (relatively) limited career opportunities and just sit back and enjoy occasional jobs and the cheap beer and laid back life.


I am talking about Belgrade, where I spent 40 days this trip, Sarajevo, where I spent a month this trip, side trips to Novi Sad and Mostar, and a couple months spent all over Croatia on this trip and others.

I don't think it's correct to refer to Yugoslavia as ever having been "post-Soviet." They were never aligned with the Soviet bloc, and if Belgrade tour guides are to be believed, Stalin called for Tito's assassination. Apparently, Yugoslavia had a model of socialism that worked better than the Soviets'. A functional model of socialism just wouldn't do, so the West broke Yugoslavia up into seven impoverished, corrupt little kleptocracies.

The vibe of economic vibrancy I sensed in Berlin had to do with the substantial middle class and their retail opportunities, not young people living la vie de boheme. My impressions are hardly the final word on the subject, but I think there may be something to EB's contention that economic prosperity may correlate more with a friendlier social vibe than what you see in countries that are in economic decline.


Ohhh.... Mr. London 1% was just schooled on European cold war history by Mr. Jackson...

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Postby publicduende » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:15 pm

gsjackson wrote:I am talking about Belgrade, where I spent 40 days this trip, Sarajevo, where I spent a month this trip, side trips to Novi Sad and Mostar, and a couple months spent all over Croatia on this trip and others.

I don't think it's correct to refer to Yugoslavia as ever having been "post-Soviet." They were never aligned with the Soviet bloc, and if Belgrade tour guides are to be believed, Stalin called for Tito's assassination. Apparently, Yugoslavia had a model of socialism that worked better than the Soviets'. A functional model of socialism just wouldn't do, so the West broke Yugoslavia up into seven impoverished, corrupt little kleptocracies.

The vibe of economic vibrancy I sensed in Berlin had to do with the substantial middle class and their retail opportunities, not young people living la vie de boheme. My impressions are hardly the final word on the subject, but I think there may be something to EB's contention that economic prosperity may correlate more with a friendlier social vibe than what you see in countries that are in economic decline.


Thanks for wanting to clarify on this, but I obviously didn't mean "post-Soviet" in an historical sense. I meant living conditions and a general vibe typical of socialist countries (such as Russia during Soviet times and immediately after the Soviet state collapse).

I remember visiting some towns in Croatia and even a town in Slovenia that had just hosted an important winter sports competition, so definitely "on the map", when I was a kid, long before the Bosnian war. I will never forget the run down shops and building, the old and rusty cars of a single brand (Yugo), majestic churches and some places of cultural heritage locked down or operating on a very occasional basis. More than ever I remember the large supermarkets with little or no merchandise on display.

Things didn't get better until after the war, when Croatia and Slovenia managed to escape the embrace of the Serbian-controlled central state and receive substantial investments from neighbouring countries (Germany and Austria, but Switzerland and Italy to some extent) and of course prop up their tourist industry, unleash their cultural heritage, reopen churches and museums.

The states that didn't reach escape velocity were Bosnia and the southern ones, were minorities were defenceless and still oppressed by the Serbian army. More than Belgrade, I would be interested to know how you found Sarajevo and Mostar, two cities that were devastated by the war.
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Postby publicduende » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:17 pm

eurobrat wrote:Ohhh.... Mr. London 1% was just schooled on European cold war history by Mr. Jackson...


Oh shut up, I clarified what I meant by post-Soviet. And that is said by someone who judges countries and cultures from the way he gets rejected when he tries to approach girls at the grocery shop. Hardly a scholarly opinion.

Just keep tapping on that laptop in your underpants, Mr Freedom :)
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Postby eurobrat » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:22 pm

publicduende wrote:
eurobrat wrote:Ohhh.... Mr. London 1% was just schooled on European cold war history by Mr. Jackson...


Oh shut up, I clarified what I meant by post-Soviet. And that is said by someone who judges countries and cultures from the way he gets rejected when he tries to approach girls at the grocery shop. Hardly a scholarly opinion.

Just keep tapping on that laptop in your underpants, Mr Freedom :)


Better than sitting in the corporate bathroom typing on your mobile.
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Postby publicduende » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:25 pm

eurobrat wrote:According to the demographics then when you're done with your project, you're in the top 1%. Sorry but £600k parked in one house has no appeal to me, you could probably buy a night club and all the p***y you could handle in the Philippines for that much money.


Most people who own estate in London have equity worth around that figure, sometimes a bit more sometimes a bit less. The housing market in London has grown at an insane rate, mostly thanks to those "property investors" from Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, and the rest of the UK.

This 1% or 10% thing is one of your most stupid arguments yet. How does financial stability and investments correlate with the ability to be happy (of happier) abroad, whether for a week or 6 months?
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Postby publicduende » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:28 pm

eurobrat wrote:Better than sitting in the corporate bathroom typing on your mobile.


Yeah, and that's when I have a problem establishing what's more full of s*it, your posts or what I am sitting on :)
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Postby gsjackson » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:43 pm

publicduende wrote:Thanks for wanting to clarify on this, but I obviously didn't mean "post-Soviet" in an historical sense. I meant living conditions and a general vibe typical of socialist countries (such as Russia during Soviet times and immediately after the Soviet state collapse).

I remember visiting some towns in Croatia and even a town in Slovenia that had just hosted an important winter sports competition, so definitely "on the map", when I was a kid, long before the Bosnian war. I will never forget the run down shops and building, the old and rusty cars of a single brand (Yugo), majestic churches and some places of cultural heritage locked down or operating on a very occasional basis. More than ever I remember the large supermarkets with little or no merchandise on display.

Things didn't get better until after the war, when Croatia and Slovenia managed to escape the embrace of the Serbian-controlled central state and receive substantial investments from neighbouring countries (Germany and Austria, but Switzerland and Italy to some extent) and of course prop up their tourist industry, unleash their cultural heritage, reopen churches and museums.

The states that didn't reach escape velocity were Bosnia and the southern ones, were minorities were defenceless and still oppressed by the Serbian army. More than Belgrade, I would be interested to know how you found Sarajevo and Mostar, two cities that were devastated by the war.


I agree it's a distinction mostly without a difference. Indeed, being post-war and post-western-divide-and-plunder-tactics can be seen as far more economically traumatizing than having tried to implement the failed Soviet system for decades. But the fact that Balkans countries and Germany are apples and oranges still begs the question raised by EB of whether economically vibrant countries have a better social vibe than those in decline. Actually, I would have thought the opposite before venturing out to Europe -- the supposition was that hard economic times brought people together, as was true of the U.S. in the 1930s. But it seems like the hyper-individualism of today's zeitgeist means that hard times translate into hard people.

Sarajevo and Mostar are beautiful cities, but very down in the mouth economically -- and I think socially -- just like Serbia. And they lack what the Serbs have -- a unifying narrative of "everybody is against us," and a strong, unapologetic "yugonostalgia." That yugonostalgia is very much present in the other Balkan countries I've been to, including Croatia, but it can't be embraced so unambiguously because they still sort of think western neoliberalism is supposed to do something for them. Croatia may have reached escape velocity, but you wouldn't know it from talking to the people. All the worker bees seem to think of themselves as an oppressed class of slave labor, and the apathetic victims of an incorrigibly kleptocratic state. As always, take my limited data sample for whatever it's worth.
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