Friday, 28 September 2007
Peter Max: Liberty
I have been a Ron Paul supporter since before most people were aware there was a Ron Paul. That might sound arrogant but, to be fair, Ron Paul has only entered the cognizance of most Americans within the last few months. I was just lucky to have friends from the libertarian and anarcho-capitalist camps who introduced me to Ron Paul a couple of years ago.
Ron Paul is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the US for the 2008 elections. I could start my argument by saying either that he is not really a Republican or that he is the only real Republican in the running. You could look at it either way. Ron Paul’s yardstick is the US Constitution and his record as a congressman has proved his adherence to his principles. I first quoted Ron Paul on the Real ID Act of 2005 here, I wrote about him more extensively here, and I posted a video and discussed him with Gavin (and had an argument with my brother) here.
I don’t agree with Ron Paul on every issue, but I agree with him on ending the war in Iraq, not starting a war with Iran, the right to bear arms, property rights, fiscal policy, and abolishing the income tax, amongst other things. I fundamentally disagree with Ron Paul’s anti-choice stance, which I think is dangerous to women and personal freedom. Even so, I believe that Ron Paul is a positive force – the only positive force – at that level of politics in the US.
The Ron Paul campaign is in the midst of an internet-based fundraising drive. Today I put my money where my mouth is and made a campaign donation. If you are a US citizen and you value your freedom, you might think about doing the same.
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
So whilst I am totally swamped at work and frantically trying to finish all the PR-related stuff for our ‘re-branding’ on the 1st of October, I have also gone undercover on a long-term secret mission with a secret identity and everything. I am not really sure how it happened, but it must have involved booze.
I have a new friend. I will call him Boris because I don’t think he will like it. Boris oversees a business in the region and I am going into their Prague operation as a customer, sort of like a mystery shopper, but much more complicated. And the catch is that it will force me to exercise more than I have exercised at any time since I left healthy California for beer-drenched Bohemia over 15 years ago.
Before I even met Boris (we have mutual friends in London), I knew that he was in the business of health clubs. The first or second time we went out, I said that I would like to start doing something to get into better shape again. Boris latched onto the idea of me going into his club, and by now it is painfully clear to me that Boris never realised I was just making conversation.
On Monday night we started laying out our strategy. Yesterday, which was Tuesday, I called and made an appointment for an informational visit and tour. When I went to the club in the afternoon, I saw Boris and had to pretend I didn’t know him. Within an hour or two after that, Boris had arranged my membership under a made-up name, although I can’t at all remember why he decided that I couldn’t use my real name. He also put me in contact with a personal trainer, but she knows me by my real name so that she can consult with my physiotherapist. It is all rather complicated, but of course that’s the nature of going undercover.
I popped into the club today to pick up my membership card. The girl that had tried to sell me a membership yesterday and who knows my real name saw me, but I don’t think she really looked at me to recognise me because I was speaking Czech instead of English. But I know that one day I am going to be called two different names at once, I’ll be making up a story about a twin sister, and things are just going to be a bit awkward. I wonder if James Bond ever worries about stuff like this.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Last month I was supposed to go to Amsterdam, but a bug bit me, my leg blew up and I couldn’t walk. I called the airline and they told me that I could have my money back if I sent in a note from my doctor. My doctor sent a note to them by email on the same day.
Four days later I wrote an email asking them if they would need anything else from me in order to process my refund. I received no answer.
So three weeks after that I wrote an email to the communications director of the airline. All of my communication, whether by phone or email, has been in English. Aside from the phone call, all of their communication has been non-existent.
Until today. Today, 11 days after I had sent my last email, I received an email in Slovak to which I immediately replied.
Dear Ms Hovnová,
Can you please write to me in English? I wrote to *** Airlines in English with a complaint about your airline’s communication and you have just answered me in a language I do not speak. I am gobsmacked.
But really I was happy because it’s not often you get to use the word ‘gobsmacked’ in a letter of complaint.
And oddly enough, this time I got an answer within a half hour.
Thursday, 20 September 2007
This time the evil post perpetrator of crimes is Britain’s Royal Mail. TV Nova in the Czech Republic reported yesterday that the Royal Mail has been checking all post from the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria because child pornography had been detected in mail from all three of those countries.
Kiddie porn is not the only problem. According to TV Nova, cigarettes, drugs, and other “illegal materials” have also been found. So much for the EU and “free movement of goods” – which does not apply, by the way, to consumable commodities that are heavily taxed by our governments.
I have already alerted someone I may or may not know to the probability of postal ambushes. This person has regularly sent cigarettes through the post from the Czech Republic to the UK, and people pay him/her for the service, because cigarettes are still considerably cheaper here in Central Europe. It was a win/win situation as people in the UK got cheaper cigarettes, the person on this side made a bit of a profit, the free market was functioning and everyone was happy, except the government.
And Česká pošta, bless their helpful little souls, have offered to aid the Royal Mail by checking letters and small packages before they even send them out of the country. I’ll be using DHL.
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Plans are being made for this weekend in London, and they all revolve around food and drink. And friends, of course – but that goes without saying. I know I’ll be in trouble because someone in London whom I have not called will read this blog, but hey ho – I’ll only be over there for a quick weekend, I can’t see everyone, and I refuse to make myself more insane by trying.
Anyway, meals for Friday have been determined and I am excited, probably overly so.
Lunchtime will be spent with A at the sushi bar in Kiku. I first discovered Kiku in 2003 when Christian had thrown his Time Out restaurant guide at me and said, “Find somewhere neither of us has been, and make sure it’s expensive.” Kiku is not overly expensive by London standards, but it is sushi in Mayfair and it is the best sushi I have ever eaten in Europe. The sushi chef treated me and Christian especially well because I ordered in Japanese; going there with A will be even better because she is Japanese.
Lunch will be early and dinner will be late so that I have time to re-develop my appetite in between. Although I have promised Christian that if I am not hungry enough by dinnertime I will make myself vomit.
Christian, who always comes up with reasons to reward me with dinners, is taking me to Patara. I have never been to Patara, but Christian claims that it is the best Thai food he has ever had, including in Thailand. The best Thai food I have ever had was the amazing green curry that Christian himself once made for me at my house in Guildford. Christian has also said something about cocktails and single malt whisky.
On Saturday I will certainly dine again, but I don’t yet know where.
On another note – I went out this lunchtime to buy a flash stick and accidentally bought myself a pair of seriously red D&G glasses instead.