About Last Night’s Debate (or “How Hillary is lucky that Trump is so bad”)

Last night I got popcorn to watch the debate. I didn’t know if it would be a drama or a comedy, but all the suspense was giving me a thriller vibe, so popcorn was justified.

For those reading that don’t like to read long texts I will try to make some brief regards about last night’s Presidential Debate and only after that I will go further in the details.

Firstly, Hillary Clinton won the debate. However she could have done much better and the main reason she didn’t do much worse or even lost it was because Trump is clearly not experienced in debate and couldn’t take advantage of the grave she was digging for herself.

I will give you 4 high and low points for each candidate, not because they were balanced but just because I don’t want to make it too long and it is a way to keep it concise.

Hillary’s High points

  1. She remained calm. She even tried to look relaxed and happy, which is trying a bit too hard, but in the overall not going nuts with Trump is really good.
  2. She had some great comebacks. While talking about Trump’s tax returns she was able to made it clear that Trump has not been paying his taxes and he even said “that makes (him) smart”. After several accusations that Hillary doesn’t know how to manage public funds and that the country is poor, he says “we don’t have any money!” and Hillary responds “if you had paid your taxes maybe we would”. BURN. About the Trump secret plan to take down ISIS she just said, “The only secret about the secret plan to take down ISIS is that there is no secret plan.” Just another example was when Trump tried to make her look bad/sick for staying at home in the last few days while he was traveling. To which she responded: “Yes, I have been preparing for this debate, and do you know what I have also being preparing for? The Presidency.” BURN, once again.
  3. She actually answered the questions with some strategy points, but didn’t make it too technical or too complex.
  4. She was able to reframe Trumps “answers” to her advantage. Trump never really answers the questions, but Hillary did a good job on not pointing that out, but using that void of answer to pretend that he answered something that he actually didn’t. With things like “What you mean is… (and reframing his answer)” or “On this subject what you have been saying is….”.

 

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Hillary’s low points

  1. Talking about her husband’s “good work” on the 90’s as president was just plain stupid. Even if you would agree that Bill Clinton was a great president (which I don’t), trying to get credit for your husband accomplishments is not a good idea if you want to be seen as a strong, independent woman.
  2. Too many family related remarks. She mentioned her granddaughter, her late father (more than once) and her husband. It is good to show family values, but too much is too much. And going into a “my father is better than yours” debate was also stupid, even if the end point (that she could not make clear) was that Hillary knows “the struggling class” better than Trump.
  3. Directly quoting Trump. It is obvious that Trump says a lot of stupid things, but to spend time of a debate quoting him is a waste of time. He just said “wrong” to every quotation and denied it. He is the master of that and no one seems to care about that entire “Facts checker” thing. He just lies, and he always gets away with it. If people cared about him lying all the time he would not have his current 43% in the latest Bloomberg pool.
  4. Laying some traps and then don’t get the right comebacks (but she got most of them). She spent some time talking about how workers employed by Trump complain he doesn’t pay them. A bit later, Trump says he is amazing for doing a building under budget. The obvious comeback would be that by not paying his workers it is obvious he would be able to get things done under budget.

 

Trump’s high points: (yes, I do have to admit he did have some… specially when expectations were historically low.)

  1. He didn’t go for personal attacks, at least directly. He even said that he was trying really hard to not go there, and we have to admit that he could have been really unpleasant
  2. He mentioned many cities and states in his answers. That is also a good strategy to make people of those places feel involved.
  3. He mentioned his key/buzz words in the first answer and repeated them many times (too many, but that is another question). Words and phrases like “China”, “Mexico”, “Getting our jobs back”, “Factories”, “Beautiful” and “the people” are just some examples. He always uses them and it gives him and his speech power.
  4. Most importantly, he did a good job on blaming Clinton for the ISIS crises. Saying that she has been fighting ISIS all of her adult life is just stupid because ISIS as it is know now it is a relatively recent situation (or to say that the USA should have taken all the oil), but he did say something that a lot of people think: the way the USA left Iraq left space and resources to ISIS to grow. That was careless and as someone in the last administration Hillary does have her share of the blame.

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Trump’s low points:        

  1. He got aggressive really fast. He was just screaming all the time, interrupting Hillary all the time and he even got the nerve to say that he has the “best judgment” and the “best temperament”. Well… NOT.
  2. He didn’t actually answer the questions and when he tried he only got in trouble for that. On the international relations topic he just tried to protect Russia, making China look the “bad guys” but at the same time saying that should be China to deal with the North Korea situation. Ah, and he also said that the USA is being ripped off by EVERY country in the world. Nice International politics answer…. NOT.
  3. In relation to one of the Hillary’s high point: Trump just confessed that he doesn’t pay taxes and even bragged that it makes him smart. Well, I think I don’t have to go into detail here but for the everyday working class tax-paying woman/man that he supposedly supports this should just make their votes swing to Hillary. It is an outrage.
  4. He tried, but he couldn’t avoid being racist. . On the Gun control and racial discrimination topic (which, by the way Hillary did really really good) he just did not get it. Trying to play nice with the Afro American communities, he just blamed immigrants with guns of being the real danger and not some racist police officers. He talked about Obama’s birth certification issue again, and he did it with pride, not in an apologetic way. Hillary and the moderator even put him under fire for his gender related remarks on Hillary not having a “presidential look” to which he just, once again, ignored the issue and said that it meant her “stamina”.

 

I know the blog got a bit bigger than usual; I am sorry and thank you if you read it until the end. Let me know your thoughts on the debate.

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Cuba: a country full of life and an hidden reality

     Firstly I must say that if you think this blog post will be only about praising the beautiful country Cuba is (and it is) then you will be disappointed. I will try to convey the IMGP0106htruth of my experience in Cuba and I will not put any sugar in it. I will also advise you to read a bit about the revolution in Cuba so that you can read this blog post about Cuba taking in consideration the circumstances of its people.

My first impression of the city Havana, where I stayed for a week, was that it looked like a city that had been under attack, under fire, for the last months or years. The buildings that were once beautiful once are now breaking down, still standing thanks to wooden stakes. The streets and roads have many holes in it and you must be careful of every step. Then I saw the beauty of the city too. I am not talking about the old cars, renovated for the comfort of the tourists (almost every car you could see on the streets are taxis, both for tourists and some community ones for the locals), or some beautiful old buildings that have been renovated as museums for tourists, I am talking about the amazing life of the city. It seemed that everybody is on the streets despite the crazy hot and humid weather.

CIMG9485   As I tried to convey in my last paragraph, a lot (if not most) of the money invested in Cuba is in Tourism. The buildings that have been renovated are restaurants, Inns or museums. The cars that have been renovated are the taxis for tourists (the community ones are not renovated). You must be thinking “but they have a communist political system! They also must invest a lot in education and health…”. If you insist in talking about it, I will not let you down.

It is true that education is free. But what I have noticed from the people I had the chance to talk to is that many people don’t see the point of going to college. Girls have kids very young (on average 14-15 years old, and who told me that was a gynecologist)  because they know they can still finish high school with the help of their families and then they don’t want to go to college. As I said, most money is in tourism and to work in a hotel or to be a taxi driver you don’t need further studies. The only further education worth it (money wise) is to study for police academy, the profession in which you can earn the highest wage (75 euros/month), and compared with a medical doctor (that earns 45 euros/month) you don’t need to study that much.

It is true that medical attention in a hospital is free. But for you to have surgery you will have to pay a “regalo” to the administrative system to be put in the front of the queue. Then you must give blood to the hospital, and if you can’t someone has to do it for you. Then you must give another “regalo” to the doctor. If you need medication in the hospital, it is free. But if you need medication after you go home you have to pay for it, and sometimes you pay a lot.

To be honest my trip to cuba also showed me some wonders. One of the things it is reallyCIMG9314 worth to see and buy in Cuba is the art. You can find amazing art for good prices. The old cars are also amazing to see and it almost seems you are in a old movie the all time. But the really triple treat is the Rum (and the cocktails you do with it), the coffee and the cigars (Puros). You can say you can buy them at your home town but that is not exactly true. Further in these blog you can find some pointers for people visiting cuba, there I will mention how you can only get the most amazing cigar (accordingly to my dad) in a small town in cuba, hand made by the campesinos, with no brand. You can find ground coffee from cuba in your town, but in cuba you can buy freshly ground coffee and coffee beans. The rum you can buy in your city, but only in Cba you can taste the most amazing cocktails made by their original recipe.

But not all was good, there was specially one thing that really got in my nerves:

Everything had an hidden price. You go to the bathroom in the restaurant, in the airport, in the hotel… you need to give a “regalo” to the lady that hands you toilet paper (and I swear it is not to keep the bathroom clean). You eat in a restaurant, you take a taxi, you buy something, you pay for its price and you still always need to give a “regalo”. Someone points you in the right direction in the street, gives you an information… you need to give them a “regalo”. A lot of what I know now about the Cuban culture and history (as the salary of medical doctors and other things I have already mentioned) were very costly because people approach you in the street, look very helpful telling you a lot of interesting stuff (where to buy cheap rum, where you can have a nice lunch…), answer all of your questions (about politics, about the country…) but they are always looking after a “Regalo”, a lunch in that nice place they told you about…. Something. I am not a cynical person by nature. I swear. However, in Cuba, after a few days, if someone smiled at me I would run, fearing for my wallet.

One of the things that makes this situation even worse is that you can’t see to where all the tourism money is going. They have two coins, one for locals that is worth 1/25 of an euro, but another for tourists that is worth almost the same as 1 euro (the CUC). Almost everything in CUC costs the same as in Europe. One lunch or dinner is 15 CUC in most places. So you can imagine that tourists spend a lot of money in Cuba paying a lot in CUC and plus the “regalos” but what you see around you is a country living in poverty. People may not be starving, and may not be dying in the streets for not affording an hospital, but they are, without a doubt, poor.

Talking about fearing for my wallet, and now giving a more positive light to my Cuban experience. One of the good points of going to Cuba is that you feel safe always. There is no crime in Cuba, specially for tourists. In every street there is someone responsible for that street. That person must know if the children are going to school, if every adult has a job… if they see anyone stealing from a tourist that person will get 40/45 years in prison. And, as I already mentioned, the most well paid profession is police officer and there are a lot, really a lot, of them. In a 2 hours travel you can see at least 10 police patrols. As you can imagine people obey the traffic laws.

(Conclusions after the next segment)

Now I hope to give a few pointer to people that are planning to go to cuba:

  • Don’t buy cigars (Puros) in the streets. Most of the times they are palm trees in a cigar form. If you want to buy something different that you can’t find in any store in the world go to Vinales (a 2 hours drive from havana) and buy cigars from the “Campesinos”. They need to sell 90% of the tobacco production to the government, but they keep the best 10% for themselves.They make their own cigar, with no brand, and they take the part of the plant with nicotine so it is not so bad for your health and it becomes softer. The cigars will cost you from 2-4 euros each depending on your capacity to negotiate the price and the quantity you will be asking for. You can go to vinales by taxi (130 euros for the day, 150/160 if you count the “regalo”) and see other things in the area besides the tobacco production such as the indian cave. You can also take a bus near the zoo in havana, but in that case you will need to stay one night in vinales which is not a great problem because in the bus stop there you will find people that have renovated their houses to make them an Inn for tourists asking you if you need a place to stay the night.
  • The best restaurants in Havana are the ones top listed in Tripadvisor. It is also ok to go to a “Paladares” (houses that are turned into a restaurant) but sometimes they are even more expensive and definitely not so clean.
  • IMGP0099Do not drink tap water. They only have one brand of bottled water and it is awful but still better than getting sick. Only ask for drinks with ice (like mojitos and daiquiri) in places like the ones in tripadvisor where you know the ice is not made from tap water.
  • It is a great plan to go to the beach (las playas del este) for one day. You get the bus in front of the Hotel Inglaterra. It passes every 30/40 minutes from 9 am and you can came back to Havana until 6 pm. There are many beaches, we went to one called Tropicoco because some locals told us it was the one with best facilities like a sun umbrella for 2 Euros, sun beds (don’t recall the price) and lunch and drinks in the beach. The water is amazing! Super hot and of an amazing blue.
  • Another tip is to take with you soap and pens. A lot of people are asking for them in the streets and it is always a good way to give a “regalo”.

As a wrap up I would say that the life of the city, the amazing coffee, cigars and rum (mojitos and daiquiris), the cheap and amazing art and the beach were the best of Cuba. But there are a lot of problems in that country and I don’t know if we can blame the embargo for all of them. If you plan to go to Cuba just for a resort you may not notice most of them but if you go to Havana and talk to the locals you will find out a totally different side of Cuba that is not about hot sea water and great cocktails.

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I am not pregnant; I just had a burger for lunch

This blog post will be about an amazing essay written by Jennifer Aniston on her not-pregnancy. When I say it like that, it almost seems that the essay is just another silly article, a celebrity-related gossip, but I invite you all to read it because it is much more than that. You can find it here.

In my opinion the essay addresses three related topics: the “media”’s scrutiny (I don’t even like to call tabloids media, for me most of them are just pure garbage); the unrealistic body-image standards women face; the pressure society places on women to follow the path of marriage and motherhood, young and in that order.

As I like to keep my blog posts short, I will only address the latter in this post but I hope to write about all of them in the near future, as they are all of interest, at least for me.

Disclaimer: Before starting I will just say that what I am criticizing in the post is society’s pressure to follow a certain path in life and not the free will to do so. If you want to get marry and have kids (or if you have already done so) please don’t feel offended, it is not about your personal choice I will be writing about.

What Jennifer Aniston describes as the pressure for motherhood is very common, but it is obviously not so “aggressive” for most. Although most women don’t suffer from the constant presence of paparazzi in their life nor are they a person of interest for other million of women (and men!), it doesn’t mean they don’t feel the pressure to fit in the role society created for them. And what role is that? Well, I believe that may change depending on where you live but in most European countries and most states in the USA the role of a women in society (in order to be considered a successful woman) is undeniably related with marriage and motherhood.1339910636455_3565359

You can argue that this role was stricter in the past when women didn’t work (or, I should say they didn’t earn any money, because I can bet that staying at home taking care of kids, cooking, cleaning… is a lot of work). In my opinion the only thing that changed was the sense that marrying and having kids is no longer a matter of survival, it is a matter of “societal duty”. To be honest in this light the pressure women feel to marry and have kids as a young woman is even more idiotic in a modern society, as it is not a matter of their survival but mostly another social construct from those times that should be in our past.

You may also argue that this pressure is still a matter of survival, not of the survival of women that need a wage-earning man to be able to eat, but of survival of the species that need women and men to reproduce. Firstly, nowadays (agreeing or not with this methods) a woman can reproduce without a man. And then, you can have kids without getting married, which just proves that the “getting married and having kids – the guide to be a successful woman” thing is not about survival of the species but about something else.

2012-12-05-a89aa90As this post is already getting big, I will conclude by saying two things: Firstly, what I am criticizing is something of which I am both a victim and a perpetrator. I have both felt the pressure to marry as I am in a steady relationship and I am approaching the “right time” to do so, and I have also pressured (stupidly) friends that are married to have kids. Then, and related, I would also say that although I have written this in a woman’s point of view, some men are also victims of this pressures (“you haven’t proposed?? Are you afraid?? Pussy…” or “you haven’t had kids yet? Do you have any problem??”) and to be completely honest I believe that who exercises this kind of pressure the most are women to other women and not even men.

To conclude, getting married and/or having kids should be a matter of choice and personal happiness and not a matter of social relief. If you see a friend “in the right age” a bit fatter just assume (unlike told otherwise) that she just had a burger for lunch or that she is on 29411a5493d15541685ad7c65feebb5eher period (the irony) instead of jumping to conclusions and perpetuating this “getting married and having kids – the guide to be a successful woman” social construct.

When in Rome…

13487553_10154394531133690_1691751921_n.jpgIf you are reading this because of the link on my facebook page it is very likely that you already know that I spent the last weekend in Rome. To compensate you for all the overly cute photos you had to deal with during those days of my boyfriend and me, I have decided to write some advices for people that are traveling to Rome.

  • In terms of location, the best place to get a room is near the Vatican. I stayed close to the Coliseum and Termini, which I though was a great idea because I would not have to carry my luggage through the city but it was not because I had to walk a lot to get to the city centre (near the river) and it was not a very safe zone. In the Vatican area you stay close to the city centre (with all the small streets, churches, “plazzas”…), the Vatican (duh) and Trastevere and those three are the main touristic parts of town. Vatican is also a much safer zone to be at and you have a direct subway to Termini, so you don’t have to struggle much with your luggage.
  • Look for restaurant recommendations in TripAdviser. This goes for most destinations, but (at least for me) one of the main reasons to go to Rome is the amazing food, so you don’t want to waste any meal there in a bad restaurant. Rome also as a lot of “tourist-trap-restaurants” so it is good to check out TripAdviser to see if you are not being fooled. I don’t have an account, but my boyfriend has one (check here to see it) and we submitted reviews and photos of the restaurants we went to. Here you have a small idea of the typical prices you can find in Rome for your meals:
    • Pasta: 7 to 9 euros for pasta carbonara
    • Pizza: 8 to 10 euros
    • Bruscetta: Around 2 euros
    • Panini: 3 to 6 euros
  • Get ready to walk A LOT. The subway grid is not very good, so you will have to go almost everywhere walking what is great to get to know the city, but really bad for your feet. I took very confortable shoes but it was awful anyway because they didn’t have a lot of feet support. My advice is: no matter how hot it is… use the most confortable pair of sneakers you own!
  • Another not so “hot-days” friendly advice is to always were pants (not shorts) and t-shirt (not tops). I know this sounds madness if you are visiting Rome in the summer, but because you will probably going to enter a lot of churches it is better if you cover yourself a bit more. In most churches you can see signs with a big
    cross on a boy and girl with shorts and tops and a “check” sign on a boy and a girl wit13453930_10154392144553690_517684822_n
    h pants and t-shirts. Some churches have fabrics to put on your legs, but don’t count on it. You may argue that you are not religious or that you are not catholic, but I guess the end point is about respect and not trying to impose nothing on anyone.

Because this post is getting too long, here you have just a few more fast advices:

  • Buy water bottles in the supermarket unless you want to spend 1 to 2 euros in a bottle. There are water sources all over the city where you can re-fill them.
  • Take visa/mastercard and not other kind of cards (like maestro). I took a maestro card and I could not withdraw money from most ATMs.
  • Buy tickets online for the Vatican Museum. You have to pay an extra 4 euros fee but it is really worth it because you totally avoid the queues.
  • Check online the schedules of the churches you plan to go because many are closed during lunch hour (no idea why) and may close early.
  • Take a bag with a zipper. Unfortunately getting robbed in Rome is far too common (It didn’t happen to me but it happen to the mother of my boyfriend in one of their trips to Rome some years ago).
  • Take some baby wipes with you or something to wash your hands because you will probably eat in some pizza or panini’s places that don’t have a bathroom for clients since they are almost like a “take-away” kind you restaurant.

I hope found my advices useful! If you have any other advice for people traveling to Rome, please leave a comment!IMG_20160617_151248173.jpg

 

 

I am sorry, but I was the one who ordered the wine!

If you have been following my blog you know I am not the kind of “feminist” (with “…” because I don’t consider them feminists at all) that (almost) hate men and feel that they are all part of a plot to exploit women and make them their slaves, or the kind of feminist that believes that positive discrimination is actually working (it could work, but in practice most of the time it doesn’t). That said, I do believe in equal rights for men and women, and I am fortunate enough to live in a society that is trying to close the still existing gaps between these two genders – the other gender identities have a different fight that I won’t mention in this post.2012-06-06-bill

Some of those gaps are really serious, like different payment for the same job, but others are just daily practices that still remind us women that the female and male stereotypes are still too much rooted in our culture. Lets take the example of a simple night out at a restaurant:

  • In a restaurant, men drink alcohol, woman drink water or juice:

Every time I go out to have dinner with my boyfriend, and I ask for wine and he asks for water (because he is a responsible driver), the waiter always serves him the wine and me the water. This happens mostly because the waiter that is serving is not the one that received the order, but nevertheless, they assume I am not the one who ordered wine – every single time! When the meal arrives, it is normal to ask “who order the dish X”. There are no preconceived ideas about which gender prefers meat or fish. But for drinks, it seems obvious that a lady would not order the wine nor the gentleman the water.

  • At a date, the man pays for the meal:

When it is time for us to pay the meal, sometimes I ask the bill, other
times my boyfriend does it. Regardless of who asks for it, the waitress most of the times (ok, in these case there are some exceptions) will give the bill to my boyfriend. It seems that we still live in a time were men are supposed to proarticle-2389873-1B442CF3000005DC-350_306x423vide for their families, or these can just be the waiter trying to force out the gentlemen inside the man, but in either case: we are in the XXI century — we can split, or we can decide who pays for the whole meal. There is no need to force the decision upon us.

I know these are just two small examples, but the truth is that they are multiplied by many small daily decisions that are somehow made using this frame of mind. And, unlike what many may say, they are almost as prejudicial for men as they are for women because they also reinforce the “do’s” and “don’t’s” in their lives.

Please comment below or on Facebook with some small daily experiences of your own that you consider are still made with gender roles in mind.

On Dating an Economist

After the success of my post “On dating a Socialist Man”, I decided to write something similar on dating an economist. Some parts of this post will be based on my boyfriend, that studied PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) and now is doing his Masters in Economy, but some parts are just my imagination.

If you want to find your perfect economist, you can meet several at the nearest economical conference, usually organized by economic faculties or students organizations. They will be the ones in the room that will ask elaborated questions that confuse you even more than the talk itself. Because there are a lot of different schools of economic thought, you should study some of them so that you prefer a Post-Keynesian economics kind of guy, or you are more into the Marxian type. You can also go for the Freshwater school or the Saltwater school fellow. You will have a lot of choice in terms of your economist guy, so choose wisely.

the-economistThe economist boyfriend will usually like to share their economical views as often as he can. By sharing economical news article on facebook (instead of that adorable photo he took with you), or having long discussions with his peers (instead of talking about something you can understand), everything is a good excuse to share his expertise and try to convince the world of his own economical point of view. (Ah! You can’t say that it is “just his point of view”, for him it is the unquestionable truth).

When you find you perfect economist guy and you start dating, a lot of simple conversations may became, lets say, a bit too technical… For instance, when my boyfriend and me talked about what marriage means to us, his approach was something like this “We have to try to understand the utility of a marriage, it is a mean to an end. The end is a happy life, but the marriage is just a utility!” For a romantic like me, this sounded seriously wrong. Can’t a marriage be an end itself as well? How can someone call it a utility? But he continued: “A marriage is just useful if it maximize its utility value”. What??

Dating an economist is waking up to the light of his laptop or tablet because he just can’t get out of bed before checking the economical related news of the day. It is trying to read his blog and economistpretend you agree with his point of you on the latest economical crisis (not because you don’t agree with it, but because you just don’t understand it or think it is too boring to even read it). Dating an economist is having to make a lot of decision as a couple taking in consideration the “opportunity cost” and the “maximization of added value” instead of just argue and finally let the woman decide as just any normal couple.

I suspect that my cause is a bit more serious because I do understand a bit of economy, but in any cause dating an economist requires high maintenance, a lot of patience and a lot of effort to try to keep up enthusiastically with his love for economy.

15# Things that I have done / happened to me while I was 21 years old

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  1. Finished my bachelor degree
  2. Wore my moms Cape at Graduation
  3. Started dating Miguel
  4. Started my Masters
  5. Lived in another country
  6. Lived with my boyfriend
  7. Had someone lunatic screaming at me “It is too late you are all going to hell” in the London subway
  8. Had my first paid job (and it paid well)
  9. Bought my first pair of shoes, mobile phone and plane tickets (with my own money)
  10. Paid taxes
  11. Did political campaigning in two different countries
  12. Started writing a novel
  13. Got my fringe done
  14. Had my first TV interview
  15. Went to my first wedding as the “plus one”