Photograph of Dean Lewis

So how do you write this and not sound like some crotchety old man? I remember many years ago my father would complain about the price of a simple hamburger meal at a fast-food restaurant. He even walked out of a Wendy’s once because he thought the prices were outrageous. 

I guess it’s time for me to wave that grumpy old man flag proudly. ‘Cause damn, what the hell is wrong with you people? Folks who know me know that I’m an Apple fan but I cannot bring myself to pay eight-hundred or a thousand dollars for a cell phone. It’s not gonna happen. I have some Samsung trash in my pocket. Samsung also makes a thousand-dollar flat screen folding phones but they make cheaper phones too. 

I don’t think I’m cheap, in fact, I’m typing this on a high-end MacBook Pro. But damn, phone prices are just crazy. I also admit that a smart phone is in fact a sophisticated miniature computer but I don’t watch movies on a phone. I also think that people who sit at a dinner table, looking at their phones, are rude. 

Dean's Flag
Dean’s Flag

What do you think a grumpy old man flag should look like? I was thinking maybe I should sprinkle some flour on mine so when I wave it, it looks like dust comes off. Old people should have dust on everything. Maybe, a skull and crossbones, except the skull has false teeth.

Something else that gets my lace lined knickers in a knot is the cost of Cable Television in the US. Comcast was the company I had before moving here. I paid $135 a month for a bundle I didn’t want. Because of course I did. I even had a phone land line I never tried. These guys are like the Mafia, except legal. They keep the local politicians on the payroll (the euphemism is licensing fees) and run gang-style deals where they have turf on which other gangs (cable companies) are not allowed. Really, only one provider allowed in one area in the US.

You end up with something silly, like three hundred channels because they spread the six you wanted into these separate tiers. So, most people in the US are cutting the cable and going to streaming. Of course, the cable companies want to help you… they love their customers. As a public service they are now making new bundles that include streaming. I’m reminded of the big record companies when Apple introduced iTunes; desperately trying to revive a business model everybody hated.

I’ll never have cable television again for any reason. You can’t make me. I got my Grumpy Old Man Flag and I’m going to host the skull and false teeth above my house, billowing dust. 

I’m not going to pay that; it’s stupid

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

In the West, a taxpayer holds the whole structure of a state. If I pay taxes, I fund the state. I have my obligations, and the state has its obligations. I have my rights, including the right to choose those who run the country. 

In Russia, I also pay taxes. Oddly, I fund the state, but it doesn’t respond as it should. A paradox, one can say. 

So Russia is a very interesting state; this is the land of no connection between paying taxes and getting something back. Citizens do have their obligations and duties. The Russian state also does, but considerably less. Its paramount obligation is to keep things under control politically, economically, and socially. Just enough not to shake Putin’s power. This is the state’s primary and, I suspect, only function left. 

Nicholas I

Thus, there are no mutual obligations between the state and the citizens. This is why I suspect Russian citizens are, technically, not citizens. In fact, they are people, or narod, in Russian. 

Narod is something that is meant to serve the Russian state’s interests. When it comes to mobilization to fight Ukraine, for example, authorities look at narod, using various tools like propaganda, money, and law enforcement to achieve its goals. 

Narod will obey en masse, don’t worry. This is why narod is designed for Russia. There’s even a new proverb in Russia: People are new oil, meaning that as oil incomes drop yearly, and the state budget still needs money, its revenue will be generated by extracting cash from narod

Now, I am starting to wonder: if the state doesn’t serve me, why should I finance it as my interests are not considered? 

So, I am not going to pay for that; it’s stupid. 

On the other hand, you can’t just refuse to pay taxes, as the state will punish you for that. 

So here I am, pressed to fund some guys who don’t care about me. And sometimes, tell me what to do or not to do. Cool.

I’m not going to pay that – it’s stupid!

Roger Bara

Invariably, I say this when it comes to buying a glass of wine.

I’m the kind of chap who, when browsing through the menu in a posh restaurant, first chooses the wine I’m going to slurp, and then picks a meal to go with it. To me, the taste and quality of the wine is more important that the food. Call me a drunken slob, most people do.

I also realise that wine prices in all restaurants are grossly inflated, ‘twas ever thus. But if the quality is good, I’ll go for it.

Roger Bara & Friend
Roger Bara & Friend

However, where I live in little old North Cyprus, there is limited choice of wine in our hotels, restaurants and bars, and most of it is average-quality supermarket stuff. In some cases, this is reflected in the price charged, and it’s still possible to buy a large glass of drinkable fermented grape juice for the equivalent of £2.50.

But more and more establishments have decided to increase the price of alcohol to beyond which I consider fair and reasonable. Why should I spend my well-earned pension on a glass of wine, if it costs me more than buying a whole bottle in the supermarket? 

If I think that the place is simply charging too much for what is very ordinary wine, I utter, usually at some volume, the words in our title, and walk out. Often, never to return.