Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sad Truth about Greece

Honestly, I still wonder why my country - and several others - shy away from doing away with Greece’s debts and allowing them a restart of their system. It must be obvious to everyone and their blind grandmother that anything else will simply fail. Of course, all the banks who have backed up the debts don’t want that - and we know how important the thoughts of the banks and ‘the economy’ are for our politicians. The cuts (right down to getting money out of your own bank account, if you happen to be a Greek) don’t hit those who are really responsible for it, after all. Who is responsible? The rich who don’t pay taxes. Those live everywhere, but in Greece, they’ve really lived out their dreams.

Look, none of us wants to pay taxes. Nobody wants to hand over some of their hard-earned money (the money someone earned the hard way for them at some point, anyway) to the government, instead of buying the tenth Ferrari.
But the government doesn’t take that money just to fill its own pockets. They pay for social security, public schools and hospitals, public transports, roads, the police force, the army, and oodles of other things. The government keeps the infrastructure of the country working and makes sure people can live in peace.
So, you’re a billionaire and say you have your riches, your private school and hospital, your car, and you also could afford to pay some security company for the protection of your family and your possessions. True, but your car is driving on roads kept in working condition by the government. The teachers in your private school, the nurses (and some doctors) in the private hospital, and the security personnel most likely went to public schools themselves, some of them will most likely also have been to public universities. And no matter how many security guards you pay for, if the whole economy breaks down and riots start, your possessions and family aren’t safe at all.

The problem with rich people don’t paying their taxes is similar to the problem with telling the banks to stuff it and accept defeat. Both are very cosy with politicians. They pay for political campaigns. They offer jobs after the political career or ‘consultant positions’ throughout it. And for that, they can be sure to be on the winning side of new laws and other political decisions. Thus, there’s no real pressure put on Greek billionaires who don’t pay taxes and have moved abroad.
What I would do? I’d tell them to either pay their taxes or be throw out of the country for good. If they ever come back afterwards - even if it’s just the plane touching down in Athens to fill the tank -, they’ll be arrested on the spot and kept in jail until the outstanding taxes have been paid. It’s probably not legal, but it would be effective. How many of those people would want to lose the country they consider their home? Perhaps lose all the property they still own back home (confiscated to get at least some of their debts paid off)? They’d be without citizenship (although they could probably ‘buy’ their way into another). They’d be outed for the criminals they are.
Would it be right on a moral level? I’d say yes. If  they don’t pay for the state they’re part of, even though they can afford to (unlike the people at the other end of that scale who simply have no money to pay taxes from), they don’t deserve to be a part any longer. Community (and a state is nothing else) only works when everyone does something to keep it working. Once upon a time, everyone could put in a few hours of work or, perhaps, donate some of their harvest. But we’ve all grown specialized and so we need the government to organize all the community stuff and pay people to do it.
Most of the rich Greeks would probably pay their outstanding taxes and would continue to pay them later on. I think only a minority would really risk having all their connections with their home country severed.

What the EU is doing, on the other hand, is basically pushing Greece deeper and deeper into misery. Punishing the normal people for something they didn’t do and had no power to prevent. It’s not the rich ones who now ‘pay’ with unemployment and poverty, it’s the normal people and those who were poor to begin with.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What women find attractive

The idea for this article was spawned in a discussion on FB with a guy who, I’m pretty sure, was just trying to troll me. Still, he did help me list once more what I (and quite a few other women, I guess) find attractive in a man.

The picture does serve a purpose, yes. The discussion was about why women should prefer the guy on the left to the guy on the right. For those of you not interested in movies/action movies/comic movies: the guy on the left is Chris Hemsworth playing Marvel’s Thor and the guy on the right is Tom Hiddleston playing Marvel’s Loki. The still was taken from the first “Thor” movie.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Mr. Hemsworth is ugly and I’m sure he’s a nice guy, too, but what guys don’t seem to get is that ‘muscled and blonde’ doesn’t suffice to entice all women. Neither does being a hero.

The guy I argued with (I do enjoy arguing) tried to show Mr. Hemsworth’s good sides by listing Mr. Hiddleston’s bad sides: Loki being scrawny and asymmetrical. First of all, when looking at a front centre picture of Tom Hiddleston’s face, I don’t really spot any visible asymmetry - although I will admit no person is 100% symmetrical. What of being scrawny, then? What the guy doesn’t seem to get about women looking at men is that many of us prefer the ‘runner’s build’ (like Mr. Hiddleston’s) to the more muscled athlete’s build of Mr. Hemsworth (especially the look of him in “Thor: The Dark World” … seriously, what are they serving in Asgard? Only steroids?). I get how and why they look different, since Thor is supposed to be much more of a warrior than Loki (who relies more on magic/intelligence).
Let’s list what I (and probably quite some others) tend to notice about guys at first.

  • Eyes. Mr. Hemsworth has very beautiful blue eyes, no doubt, but those of Mr. Hiddleston are a very charming and enchanting green.
  • Smile. Both men have a very charming smile, but there’s just a very nice hint of boyish, mischievous charms in Mr. Hiddleston’s. Nice teeth are an addition to that category, but those usually are even and white with young actors.
  • Hands. I haven’t paid that much attention to Mr. Hemsworth’s hands so far, but Mr. Hiddleston has long, sensitive fingers - a turn on not just for me.
  • Voice. It might surprise men, but women really do have a thing for guys with a strong, deep voice. Both gentlemen have a very nice voice, but Mr. Hiddleston’s catches me a bit more.

As you can see, build doesn’t feature in that first list, although, to a certain degree, height does. Women like men who are taller than them. Since both Mr. Hemsworth and Mr. Hiddleston are quite tall (1,93 m and 1,87 m respectively), there’s no clear winner there, they’re both definitely taller than the average woman (or my own meagre 1,68 m).

Now to the question why quite some women prefer villains to heroes. Some might say it’s a proof of growing up - no longer looking for your Prince Charming. This is my personal theory, there’s no scientific or other proof it’s right.
Let’s be honest, movies, comics, or other stories are infused with our morals. And our morals don’t allow the evil to win. Therefore, as unrealistic as it might seem, the hero will, in the end, always vanquish the villain. However, in reality, things never go that smoothly. Women know that.
In reality, villains would probably win in at least 8 out of 10 cases. They are better organized, they have minions, they have a lot of money, they have supreme technology, they have no qualms about using any means at their disposal, they are utterly ruthless. If you look at news from everywhere, you will realize that is what usually wins you whatever you’re going for.
Yes, their ruthlessness doesn’t really make them good partners (but all alphas are bad partners long-term, that includes quite some heroes as well), but they have the means to support a lover and their children - and to keep them protected, if they consider it in their best interest.
Villains know what they want and they take it. That’s another point. There’s not much of a ‘will they/won’t they’ with villains. If they want, they will. While it might seem charming that an attractive hero is unsure about breaching the topic of sympathy and love to a woman who, obviously, likes him very much, it does grow old quickly. As love interest of a hero, you’re either going for a long (years or even decades in comics is quite possible) waiting time or you end up dead after he has declared his love and his arch-nemesis decides to kill you to strike at the hero.
Since heroes adhere to a moral codex which frowns upon killing the innocent (and if you’re a villain’s love interest, but not villainous yourself, you are an innocent for them), you don’t have to worry about a hero to kill you, because your boyfriend happens to be a villain.
The bad boy whom women want to help is a romantic idea, too. Yes, in reality it’s next to impossible to change someone, so if you go for a relationship, don’t do so thinking you can change the parts of a person you don’t like. But in a story, it’s possible.

Another reason to like Loki, despite him being a villain (in “Thor” and “The Avengers,” he’s more of an anti-hero in “Thor: The Dark World”), is how many facets the writers have worked into him. Villains tend to be more complicated and complex than heroes. There’s not much to being a hero, to doing the right thing, but these days, becoming a villain needs to be justified.
Loki is the younger brother, the adopted one, the one in the shadows, the one who has been lied to all his life. He snaps and slashes back. He tries to take what he considers his right (become king of a realm, if not Asgard, then Midgard/Earth). Women can understand that and identify with it. He doesn’t do evil, because it’s evil (no villain these days does). He doesn’t just do it for the money and the power. He has a definite deficit and thinks ruling Earth will fill it. It won’t, we know that, but it makes him someone to relate to.
Loki has heaps of charm, his silver tongue (and in Norse mythology also an insatiable appetite for sex, but that’s not in Marvel’s universe), his intelligence. He’s a guy you can talk to. A guy who would flatter you in interesting ways, if he wants something from you (be it information, assistance - or plain sex).

That’s why there’s a blog like Loki’s Dirty Whispers (to be fair, there’s also one for Thor). Loki clearly would strive to be the dominant in a relationship, but that’s not necessarily bad. There’s a clear difference between being dominant and being abusive (take heed, Mr. Grey). A relationship with Loki probably would be short, but it would also be rather interesting. Certainly not boring.

So, what do women find attractive in a guy? Eyes, mouth, teeth, hands, voice, height first and foremost. Then they’ll look for the character more than the body - honestly. My mum always wanted a tall, blond guy, she ended up with a short, dark-haired one. Yet, my parents have been happily married for 50 years. Okay, okay, women also look at men’s asses. Enough said.