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I recently found a funny website called Life Kills that has some awesome stuff on it.

Basically, it seems like some misanthropist’s view on the world, with some focus on health statistics in particular. You’ll find some funny infographs there as well as some disgusting images…

Go check it out to enlighten yourself with some alternative views on the world as it is!

It seems like something I have long been waiting for now is happening, at least in a small country in Switzerland. It seems that a site called “Vanilla” is going to start mobile payment solutions for customers and retailers. The idea is to replace or complement cash payment as well as classical credit cards.

Credit cards have begun giving out Bonus Point for purchases and what-have-you in order to make customers buy more with the same card. This is exactly the approach Vanilla is trying to take. They focus on interesting bonus programs. Also interesting is the possibility to integrate mobile payments with augmented reality and similar things you can use on your cellphone like google maps. The idea is simple: Just type in what you want – your location will automatically be recognised – and you get suggestions what stores are in your area. And, of course, stores will be pointed out where you get special offers or bonus point.

All in all, this looks like an interesting idea and it is just a matter of time until technology is advanced enough to enable safe payments with mobile phones. The project is to launch in July or August 2010 and I am looking forward to it, just to find out about its possibility of success.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about the situation of women in Latin America and wondering which way emancipation will go. She is a Costa Rican psychologist and – as I was educated in Europe – I find it always inspiring to learn about Latin American scientific views and outlooks. Her personal experience is that she is still living in macho society and is in no way treated as an equal. Yet, admittedly, she is able to lead a more or less independent life; that is, if you consider the plain fact of being able to live alone without a husband, as independence. Well, it’s definitely where independance begins. But there is a lot to be done in terms of attitude towards women, let alone promotion of women to positions where they have a voice and influence. I’m talking about jobs and politics.

However, my friend pointed out a paper that deals with the topic and male attitudes and investigates about the reproduction of a patriarchal society in Latin America.

The paper is called “Explotación sexual comercial y masculinidad”. The “Organización Internacional del Trabajo” put the full paper online as a pdf, over 200 pages strong (Explotación sexual comercial y masculinidad pdf). I hope to be able to read it soon. But currently, I have other books on my nighttable, desperately waiting to be read…

If anyone read the paper or plans to, I’d be grateful for your sharing your thoughts. Gracias!

There seems to be some weird and in my eyes fucked up understanding that real men eat meat. Like we’re still some kind of backwards cavemen that have to get their force from dead animals in order to survive. Well, those times are long gone. And apart from the fact that cavemen never eat much meat compared to our standards, most of us spend their days in offices where they sit their fat asses down on chairs. Not much hunting involved. But when confronted with and declining to eat meat, men are depicted as being pussies.

“You don’t eat meat? You’re not a real man then!” – Well fuck yourself, real men don’t have to eat meat. They should drink a lot and smoke to be manly, but meat is definitely not a part of it. So any of you assholes making me justify why I just don’t friggin feel like eating meat at all times: I will pour my whiskey right in your face the next time you ask stupid questions. Thank you very much.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were only 11 cities in the entire world with a population over one million people. 1950 there were 50 cities, in 1990 276 and today we have around 450 (in 2015 there will probably be over 550 of those metropolis with over one million inhabitants). This urbanization leads to a huge segregation of stripes of untouched nature that makes it impossible for flora and fauna to interact in its usual ways. This has already started with agriculture and farming, which cut the land in stripes and meant the beginning of deforestation. But urbanization is even more cruel, as it leaves even less living space to animals and plants. One problem is that full land stripes are covered with concrete cities. Another problem is the highways and roads that cut through landscapes making it virtually impossible for animals to move in their accustomed ways.

By 2020 there will probably be ten cities with over 20 million inhabitants! Imagine the population concentration and its effects on nature in such areas! Already, these megalopolises are famous for their sanitary problems, their slums, crime and problems of poverty (which, as a effect often lead to more pollution due to bad policing). Also, poverty leads to the “better areas” of the city seeking seclusion. Even more concrete is built, but in this case vertically (for dividing walls). These so-called “gated communities” seek luxurious standards and are often completely unaware of the natural roots of the places they live in – these city dweller have been born into concrete, they live in concrete and all they know is concrete. Their awareness for ecological problems is often quite small (remember that most of these megalopolises are in poor countries) and not much is being done to improve the situation.

Water supply is becoming increasingly difficult and waste disposal is often unorganised, thus leading to pollution and diseases. Every fourth person on the planet does not currently have access to fresh water! This is most often an urbanisation problem. A further problem of large cities, of course, is traffic. The faster they grow the more important private transportation becomes because public transport often fails at this point (unless it has been planned based on long-term considerations).

So the cities that we live in and consider to be the height of our civilisation are actually threatening the standard of life we have gotten used to. As soon as their growth becomes uncontrollable, they become an environmental threat that is hard to evaluate. Let’s stop and think and try to help educating those who are unaware of the uprooting and destructive effects of urbanization.

Read more about urbanization: http://esa.un.org/unup/

Costa Rica has over one million hectares of natural reserves. These have been established in the course of the 20th century by private efforts and (increasingly) by the government of Costa Rica. While these natural reserves are clearly an important touristic asset for the country, these reserves do much more for the people. They create an awareness and pride of their natural resources.

Nowadays, many Costa Rican (tico) children are taught in school the value of the rainforest and the complexity of ecological interactions. About half of Costa Rica’s children live surrounded by, at least patches of, intact nature. For the other kids that grow up in urban areas, efforts are made to put them in touch with ecology as well. But of course, this is always an organisational and logistic problem due to financial straits. (Edunamica, for instance, is a private organisation that strives to boost talented students throughout the country; these students are later taking on coaching functions. Ecological education is becoming an increasingly important issue here. But one should of course not forget that there are often more pressing everyday matters for the inhabitants of Costa Rica.)

Also for Europeans and Americans the rainforest seems like a great place to educate ourselves about ecology. But do not forget that we are always outsiders and interrupt nature’s undisturbed way by visiting. On the other hand, national park entrance fees are an important support to maintain such areas. Make sure to pay the entrance fee… Also, nature guides in Costa Rica are fabulously educated and have a lot to tell you. So if you are really interested in learning something and you want more than just catch glimpse of some monkeys, than this is well worth its while. Not only will you bring some important knowledge home, but you will also support the spreading of knowledge in a new emerging profession, which in turn will spread again more knowledge: the guia natural (nature guide) of Central American nature.

By the way, the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism makes admirable efforts to properly educate and certify these guides. Costa Rica is clearly a regional leader in these issues and tourism has profited a lot from it already.

Presidente Oscar and the Flu

While President Oscar Arias seems to be recovering from the swine flu, us other mortals that did not yet get the originally deadly disease wonder: when will it come at us? And possibly kill us? Because if I re-read those original warnings by the World Health Organization and so, hmmm, I should be dead by now.

Well, despite of his asthma, it seems that Mr. President will survive the influencia he caught. Somewhere. This shows us that even neoliberals can catch the same diseases as any average mortal. Then again, Oscar Arias is not just your average neoliberal guy. He’s a neoliberal guy with a nobel price in his pocket. One might say that Arias being nobel prize laureate in 1987 is controversial, but still, he definitely did contribute to Central American peace efforts in the 80′s. And he also promoted Costa Rica as a haven of peace… in a way… having no army and all. But then it turns out he’s just another neoliberal striving to secure the domain of multinational companies who are filling each other’s pocket with silver and gold. Oh, and didn’t that sort of overturn the Costa Rican constitution, that a former president can be reelected? That wasn’t in the book.

To make a long story short. Oscar will live! And he’s not just another neocon. He’s a neocon with a nobel prize. In peace. Goddamn!

Strange and sad news: Alexis Arguello, who was elected mayor of Managua last year was found dead in his Managua home. The “flaco explosivo”, as the boxer was known, died at age 57. Apparently he was shot through the heart with a pistol. While authorities are talking of suicide it seems yet unclear why exactly the shot is supposed to be self-inflicted. Naturally, the boxer was known to suffer from depressions and publicly admitted drug and alcohol abuse. Nevertheless, a shot in the heart is not the most common way of suicide so it makes sense to await a final authopsy and report about the boxer’s death.
Arguello was a legend in the super flyweight boxing world and a prototype for many (as for instance, Nonito Donaire the Philippine boxer: http://www.boxingscene.com/index.php?m=show&id=20791).
Politically, it is interesting how Arguello ran as mayor for the Sandinistas, while he fled Nicaragua in the 1980s because Sandinistas froze his bank accounts. During that time he moved to the USA and was supporting the US-backed contras. At the time of his death he was the elected mayor of the capital Managua. Let us see what this story brings and wheter the rumours of foul play are true.

The other day I was (like I usually do on mondays) at the Cuartel again (i did not find a more descriptive link than this one). Well, it’s been some time. I agree with these here guys in saying that “it never gets old” (http://www.costaricapages.com/blog/nightlife/bar-cuartel-san-jose-it-never-gets-old/519). That is so true! It might have gotten more touristy over the years, but honestly, who gives a damn? Maybe you want to skip it during spring break but otherwise it’s quite allright.

Anyways, my point was another one. There’s this band that plays there like once or twice a month on mondays. I keep forgetting their name (or maybe I never even knew it) but they’re playing solid latin rock cover versions and are good fun to watch. This is also where I have discovered the most effective yet cheap stage prop I can possibly imagine: A fan. That’s right a plain fan. You should see the lead singer’s hair waving in the wind when the band starts rocking. Beautiful. Okay, it sort of reminds me of a Celine Dion videoclip or something but the effect is amazing. It gives the singer a very dynamic look and also it makes you wonder how she appears so aloof while she is right in front of you. It took me a while and a few Pilsens until i figured it out.

I very much wish I could steal their idea and make it my own in upcoming shows. Only problem is my hair is too short. Maybe I should start letting it grow and get myself a stage fan in a couple of years? I’ll see.

By the way, I’m not sure if the fan was once there only to cool the people on stage down and if the band maybe discovered by coincidence that it might be a good idea to direct it on their lead singer. Still, good combination of visual effects and a cooled down stage…

I mucho recommend to you visiting that place (unless, of course, you are an american teenager on spring break. You go to Florida or something please!)

So, it was about time I should write another post after this long break. Well, only problem is I don’t know what to write about. Things are going kind of slow here at the moment, I am enjoying the heat and trying to hit the beaches as often as I can. This works out fine with me as I have been working quite hard the past months. Yes, believe it or not, even in Costa Rica it’s not always all about Pura Vida. Then again, it’s just what you make out of it. Sometimes when I get too stressed out I remind myself of where I am: exactly! I certainly did not come here to work my ass off, or to get rich… So before I work my behind off I’d rather stay off the heat and go diving somewhere, oh yeah.

Anyways, hope you will all enjoy this here weekend and all the following ones. Keep in mind not to work too much, life is too short to just strive for success and riches. And what’s more: You’ll never get there anyway. Check out the story of Sysiphos if you’re not sure what I mean. Is this how you sometimes feel? Well, then you definitely need some vacation! Or just stay off work and tell your employer you’re sick. That’s even more fun! Anyways, disfruta la playa!

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