The Greek Job

(or: No war between loan-sharks, no peace between debtors)

The current crisis in the European Union is perhaps the greatest in its history. It is also exposing flaws in the basic principles of capitalism, one of them being that it degenerates into chaos whenever it is allowed to ramble on without the strong intervention of political bodies. At the moment, the main battle line in the Greece Affair is whether the Republic should honour its obligations to its creditors to the letter, or whether there should be some leeway in repayments.
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Part One: Before the Nation

While communicating with a Ukrainian friend through e-mail, she wanted to know more about Croatia and Croats, being from a country currently going through something similar to what Croatia went through twenty years ago. Keeping in mind that I’m completely the wrong person to give a neutral account of a topic like that (being overly critical, unpleasantly sarcastic and generally negative and, most importantly, not a historian or anything related) I decided, what the hell, if I’m writing something like that, why not make it available to others, too?

So here it is: my version of Croatia’s past and present – and my argument as to why there is no future. Use at your own risk, do not quote as a source, Wikipedia is much more reliable. Seriously. This is just a personalised composition that may serve as a starting point for someone interested in researching further.
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…is a mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.


Death of the internet middle class

There have been fears, there have been warnings, but now that the soft brown substance has finally hit the ventilator, let’s take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture – actually, the biggest one – is that one of the best ideas in the history of humankind – if not THE best – is in danger of dying from strangulation by bureaucracy.

There are dozens, probably hundreds, possibly even thousands of texts on the internet supplying reliable data[1] so I’ll just continue with my summary and assessment.

As of January 1, 2015 any internet business is obliged to calculate and pay VAT to the buyer’s country, in the amount dictated by that country,  even if said business isn’t located in the EU.
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Breaking the Kyklos, part 2

Dynamic systems are a bitch. They are, well, dynamic, consisting of many parts and are, very often, unpredictable. For example, one of the things that falls into this category is called “society”. Sometimes we want to predict how a society will behave under certain conditions. We know that guessing it accurately is impossible. However, sometimes a discussion about the dynamics can be helpful, especially if we want to obtain a certain result. For example, a stable and advancing society.

I have already pinpointed some inherent problems with the system called Democracy. I also noted that replacing it with something else is not the preferable solution. So let’s see what else we may have at our disposal.
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Breaking the Kyklos, part 1

People who are past a certain age tend to see everything around them more critically, leading to the (in)famous old age adage “This is not the way things were done in my time”, usually dismissed by claiming people are most likely to be defining any “Golden Age” when they actually reach  “the age in which they need to get golden teeth”.

However, looking at the society we live in, there are more and more indications that, after a few decades – or even centuries – of constant technical and material progress, things on the part of our planet we like to call “civilized” have been stagnating. Some places have even started to slip backwards.
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Not “islamists”, just human scum

A lot is being said about the Charlie Hebdo case, but I’d like to highlight a side comment by Jon Stewart: “Our goal tonight is not to make sense of this, because there is no sense to be made of this,” he said. “Our goal, as it is always, is to keep going.”

The problem with many commentators is that they are trying to make sense of this event. But that’s impossible. It was a mindless act of two lunatics and, as a friend said, if Andreas Breevik was never referred to as “Norwegianist” or “Christianist”, then the real offense to the Islamic world is not publishing caricatures of the Prophet, but calling the Kouachi brothers “islamist” while, in truth, they betrayed their faith and everything their Prophet spoke for.
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Into the New Barbarism?

ape-suicideI recently stumbled upon a piece in The New Yorker, European Science’s Great Leap Backward. The fact that Europe has begun to prefer politics to data wasn’t really a surprise nor a revelation, but it did provide some additional overtones to the nagging feeling that I’ve had for some time.

The Great Leap Backward is demonstrated by a job that is no more – the position of a science adviser to the President of the European Commission is history. Apparently/It seems/it has been suggested that Anne Glover, the last person to hold the title, stepped on too many Green toes. What were her sins?

The complaint against Glover was simple: when providing scientific advice to the commission on a range of issues, from nanotechnology to G.M.O.s, she invoked data rather than rely on politics or whim. Last year, at a conference in Scotland, for example, she said that there was “not a single piece of scientific evidence” to support critics’ claims that food produced from G.M.O.s was less safe than food grown in any other way.

(emphasis by Yours Truly)

Add the anti-vaccination movement, the “chemtrails community” and the increased interest in and practice of alternative medicine to the above mentioned issues and a trend emerges. One which will surely thrive in a Europe without a scientific adviser.

Don’t believe me? A few years ago the management of the University of Zagreb (sic!) hired an “bioenergy expert” to check their premises prior to interior decoration. Further to the West, Canada had a possible creationist serving as the Federal Minister of Science for five years. Meanwhile, creationism is gaining territory across the American school system. There are probably myriads of equally or more astonishing examples in everybody’s neighbourhood.

So, are we as a species really so diversiform, with smart people pulling forward and the stupid pulling back, that the best solution really is to separate? As in, divided we stand, together we fall?