Saturday, November 29, 2008

war on trash bins

i was in the uk, getting ready to board a train, got a coffee and waited for the train. finished my coffee, turned around to look for a trash bin.

and looked.

and looked.

to no avail. there are no trash bins in any of the train stations. i noticed other people also stand there holding their trash. i asked about that and it seems it's part of the uk's war on terror.

after the 9/11 attacks on the us, narrow-minded americans have enforced all sorts of weird laws on the rest of the world. i mean other than the ridiculous security checks for flights, there are the restrictions on taking liquids more than 100ml, and putting them in clear bags (i don't get it, am i supposed to start mixing a bomb on the plane?). the uk has had its share of attacks, but their efforts on the war on terror has focused on trash bins instead.

they removed all the trash bins to discourage would-be terrorists from leaving bombs there. i mean, really? i mean, if i wanted to bomb a station, and i took my bomb to drop in a trash bin, and didn't find one, would i curse my luck, pack my shit and leave? how effective is that? would it help if the bins were perhaps a little less terrorist-friendly? small openings, transparent bags, you know, something where you can't stick a bomb?

i don't know. maybe they can wait and use the bins in the trains.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

artsy fartsy

stocks usually represent a value in a company. so for example, if i start a company with a million dollars in capital and sell a hundred thousand stocks of that capital, i know each share is worth 10 dollars. so far so good? cool.

now stocks in the stock market are treated like normal commodities, so one can trade stocks like cattle or grain. people used to buy stocks because they had attractive dividends (that is, stock's share of the company's profits). however, because now they are traded, people buy stocks because they expect someone to buy the stocks from them for a higher price (because of promise of higher dividends, or someone else paying even more for a stock). so if i buy stock for 10 dollars a share, i expect to sell it for 11 to make a "quick" profit. still with me? good.

now problems arise when people start paying a lot of money for worthless stock (.com bust anyone?). that is, when everyone decides that this stock is worth something, just because everyone else thinks it's worth something, usually with no basis for the value. lemmings? yes. risky? very. preposterous? not at all.

see, i've never experienced as much bullshit as much as people in art galleries or people paying ridiculous amounts of money for art. i've tried to maintain an open mind, i tried to "appreciate art", but i just couldn't. especially the abstract stuff that sells for silly money. i mean seriously, what makes this particular piece of art so special? what makes it unique? to me they all seemed like the same scribblings, especially contemporary, abstract, bla, bla, art. but i was in a gallery one day (trying my best to understand why stick figures with enlarged heads was considered art), and it hit me. this is the fucking stock market, but for something even more volatile than value in an online company - it's the stock market for taste. the only reason art was considered "expressive", "tasteful" or "valuable", was because "experts" claimed this was art. people eventually decided this was art, just because everyone else thinks it is art. lemmings?