Bittersweet Endings and New Beginnings

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After finishing university the other day, I can now pompously call myself an economist. Nowadays, when I go to a social gathering, I will almost be able to hear sphincters nervously clench when asked what I studied, and they hear what I have to say on the matter. I will now see the terror in their hearts when I answer that I profess the trade of Adam Smith, as they hope to god almighty that I don’t talk about inflation or currency exchange rates, or how the Brexit is a stupid idea.

I didn’t get to wear a silly Harry Potter gown, or attend graduation, because I put my degree to good use and calculated that the value (gotten out of essentially paying £80 for a handshake, a boring speech I wouldn’t remember, and a hastily taken photograph) was simply not worth it. Instead, I’ve been travelling with my father and yesterday I showed him Canterbury, the city where I’ve been living in for the last three years.

I showed him the fields where I walked with a lovely girl with whom I was with for a while; I showed him the discount supermarket I used to greedily shop at once a week; I showed him the pigsty that we used to call our student flat; I showed him the campus and all its labyrinthine quirks; I showed him where I took my first salsa classes;  and I showed him a coffee shop where I must’ve had well over a dozen dates – I showed him home.

If there’s anywhere that I’ve lived in that I could’ve called “home”, with all the pageantry and positive feelings that are bundled with the word, it was there. Frankly, I did not have a happy upbringing, and it took to well into my adulthood to find the peace and happiness that people seem to ooze from every pore. Nowadays, I know that is mostly an act – a lie they eagerly fan on their social media accounts to promote the cult of themselves. Yet, I was joyless for most of my existence, doubly so when I suspected everyone else was happy except myself. If home is where the heart is, I was homeless for most of my life.

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Hostel Fondle – or why all miseries shall soon pass

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I’m writing this article on my phone from my hostel bed late at night, because this is how I deal with stuff – I write. I’m currently in Split, Croatia. Wishing that the infernal creaking of the bed springs next to me would stop.

In the bed adjacent to me there’s a pair of irrefutably drunk tourists having sex. Paying no mind to any passing soul that comes by. A part of me feels angry, disgruntled that they don’t have the decency to go to a romantic toilet stall, just like any other proper fellow might have done (Truth be told, I have never understood bathroom pulls either, smelly and disgusting is not on my sexual bucket list). But if I am quite frank, what I think most people would not admit to, but I will, is that I cannot help but feel jealousy just as well.

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Tyranny by numbers – or why being stupid can sometimes be good

 

Imagine if you will, a world of such mathematical exactitude that a formula is devised. This formula is nothing short of magical, for it can predict what truly makes a man happy. This equation knows nothing else but the contents of your heart and how best to achieve them. It can tell you whom to love for the happiest life, what to eat for the most satisfying and nutritious meals that your body needs, what to do to be satisfied, and what choices to make so as to have no regrets.

On first instance, this seems like a miracle from the Heavens. After all, who doesn’t want to be happy? Nobody wakes up wanting to be miserable, it’s just that life has this way of piling up such emotional weight on you at times, that it’s difficult to carry all that, as well as lift your frown. So, naturally, you’ll try to use such a formula.

What perhaps you’ll realise is what I did a couple of days ago. For the first time, in a long while, I am in a large city – Zagreb, to be precise. I decided that it had been some time since I had a Summer romance. I fondly remember what I used to have in the past, and thus I decided to try to recreate it.

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Why I’ve Grown more Conservative with Age

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I look at myself in the mirror, I see slight bags underneath my eyes, and on my chest and beard I see a gray hair or two. I’m not an old man, I just turned twenty-three, but much has changed since I first started having political thoughts.

There was a time where I believed that I alone could change the world – I had a messiah complex, to put it mildly. There seemed to be so much suffering in society, yet little seemed to be done about it. What was needed was a revolution to push aside our archaic notions on where our civilization was heading. I spent many hours, thinking and genuinely believing that the time of action was around the corner.

Whilst never a communist, I harboured some affinity to the ideals. I believed that the main reasons such systems had never worked, was because it was always presupposed that people would work out of the goodness in their heart. Technology, I decided, was the key to all this, and if only our society could develop enough of it, we could reach a state of utopia. People would not have to work, and all would be well.

Now, I do still think that automation has the capacity for a society of such wealth and excellence, that none before it could compare. Yet, I’ve grown more humble over time. I have my doubts that I, or for that matter anyone, could artificially design such a society. Some of the most horrible crimes in world history have been made in the name of good intentions, and designing a supposedly better society: from the Maoist “Great Leap Forward”, which killed millions through starvation and scarcity; the Nazis wanting to rid society of what they deemed the dregs of humanity; or the acts of Gavrilo Princep wanting to rid the world of what he believed to be an oppressive system with the Habsburgs in the Balkans, which had WWI as an aftermath, just to name a few.

I think science’s early success in understanding mathematics, physics and the like has given us plenty of arrogance to go along with it. The Enlightenment had the detrimental effect of making us believe that everything was computable, and immediately understandable. This is fine and doable in contained systems where you can isolate the forces, and understand how they behave in relation to each other. It’s a different tale altogether when you’re trying to understand systems that aggregate on the input of each other, and even worse, may react to the information that has been computed so far.

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People you meet on the Road IV: The Syrian Refugee

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I must confess that contrary what I might seem to express in the last few articles, I’m often not a good person to hang around with. Whilst not a bad person, I’m often too blunt and crass in my views, and I have a deep fondness for irony and sarcasm speckled with black humour. Unsurprisingly, I have an appreciation for gallows humour; when I’ve been in circumstances where I could die, I’ve been known to crack a joke. This works well when I find fellow like-minded compatriots, but it bodes ill when I don’t.

This is something that I’ll probably be reminded of for the rest of my life, yet I learned this once more, one night in Istanbul, almost a year ago. At the time I was in a hostel, in the modern side of town, and as is often the case, I met a lot of people. Amongst them there was a short, and quiet man that was always there. He wasn’t a guest per se, yet he’d once been a guest many months ago. Now that he lived in Istanbul though he would come back for the lively atmosphere every couple of days. His name escapes me at the moment, but saying where he was from will probably be more useful for the story at any rate. He was born and raised in Syria.

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Healthy Drama – what all relationships need

 

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Recently I had but a brief facebook spat, wherein a lady said that when a man is told by their partner that they should “do what they want” guys should do the exact opposite and not do so, and listen and do what the woman wants. I pointed out that this would essentially give women absolute control over anything that happens in the relationship, as women would ultimately have unlimited veto power. Not only would this permanently skew the relationship power dynamic to women fully, but a man would be at their beck and call.

I would argue, as a man who has interest in the task of attracting girls, that the fairer sex does not want this. They might think they do, but they don’t. Now, it might initially seem patronising for a man to seem to dictate what women want, but I’m not doing so in the slightest. You ask a fisherman how to fish, not the fish; as the fisherman is privy to patterns that the fish is not.

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Tinder Bender – Why you shouldn’t do online dating

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Trapped in a small community during university time, where everyone is seeking to protect their social standing and hierarchy makes dating difficult. Nowadays I have no problem whatsoever with walking up to a woman and saying that she’s beautiful. Sometimes you get told to fuck off, sometimes you have the romance of a lifetime, but both situations have two things in common – they’re honest and quick.  You know what is the exact opposite? Tinder.

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