The above link shows an initiative by the UK government. However well-intentioned the aims might be, and however good it may do, and I hope it will, nevertheless whoever decided what to call it needs to be given a special edition framed gold-leaf P45 form (that’s a “pink slip”, by the way, for the benefit of my American readers, which my stats say are in the majority, and who are always welcome).
“Emerging Europe” and “Visehrad Four” was the term applied to these four countries way back in the end of the last century while these countries were the focus of attention, we didn’t know much about them other than that they were neighbours and that they emerged from behind the Iron Curtain at about the same time. In the mind of most Westerners Poland and its southern neighbours were expected to be quite similar and the major differences in culture between them which stretch back into the very different histories of these two areas over hundreds of years before the period of Soviet hegemony. Everyone had in their family people who knew life before, people were mentally prepared to spring back, and that is exactly what they did, with year after year of growth outstripping Western Europe and most of the rest of the world over a 20 year period, with legislative reforms and international consultation enabling unprecedented transfer of administrative know-how. These countries also had the advantage of computerising to a much more advanced level immediately than we had – their offices were not littered with massive green or amber screen monitors, most business people went straight onto Windows with its Word and Excel and cannot even remember the MS-DOS antecedents we struggled with and the hardware and software we clung too even when it was superseded in order not to waste the earlier IT investments.
The countries we are talking about avoided many of the errors made by a number of Western countries, problems now very apparent in the banking systems, education and health systems of western countries, problems with housing, transport, etc which are not so problematic in the more easterly countries.
On top of that these are countries which, apart from a very short period of forty years which is now 25 years over, were in the central current of European culture and thought, and had been for hundreds of years. When Luther nailed his 99 theses to the wall and they were being discussed days later in Oxford University, he did it in what was to become the German Democratic Republic, a country which, but for the existence of a larger brother constitutionally committed to reuniting with it, would also today be in the group you are calling ‘Emerging Europe”. If I mention the list of literary, musical, philosophical, artistic and other gems of this region the list (or should that be “liszt”?) would be very long indeed. These are not cultures which are only now emerging as Europe. You might call them rediscovered Europe, but emerging? Scarcely.
Furthermore, if we are going to continue to use the “Emerging Europe” label for successful, thriving European Union member states all fo which are in Schengen (unlike the UK) and one of which uses the Euro already (unlike the UK) and whose remaining currencies except for the HUF of late have proven to be just about as buoyant as the GBP for the last dozen or so years or better ( – take the Polish zloty for instance. 10 years ago precisely a pound would buy you 7.24 PLN. Today it will but you only 5.06 PLN. It has lost about 30% over those ten years against the zloty. Incomparison to the zloty, I’m afraid our currency looks like a soft currency against the zloty. Fact. Sorry, but fact) then what term are we going to use for countries which remain outside the EU, which continually have GDPs per head lower than 10,000 USD, which continually seem unable to introduce the reforms required in the Acquis Communautaire?
Let’s maybe have a poll as what what we can call those countries, if the likes of Poland or the Czech Republic is called “Emerging Europe”:
In summary, please for goodness sake stop referring to Central European EU members as “Emerging Europe”! The term is dated, was patronising even when it was current, and just makes the British look out of touch when it is used by us, and in my experience more often than not only serves to offend the people from the Region, although, being highly cultured and European, they are usually able not to show it.
The problem in my view is that some white folk who learned about all the evil stuff that, for example, the British ruling class did around the world until we all gradually woke up to the fact that it was not sustainable, they think that the onus is on them to redress the balance in some way.
To an extent we did redress the balance – we have given a lot back to the descendents of the folk who had a rough deal before, both in terms of historical reparations and also by inviting many of them to join us as equal beneficiaries of whatever these things are supposed to have given our country. But anyway often it was because of their own leaders that they had a rough deal. We didn’t go chasing slaves in the jungle, we simply bought them in the port from those African leaders that we were trading with, and those guys had only kept their defeated enemies alive so that they could trade them as slaves with us. Once you get into individual details things are not necessarily as cut and dried as people could imagine – for every noble Kunte Kinte you might discover someone much less noble, someone whose most apt description sounds similar to that old fictional African only without one vowel.
I personally don’t come from the ruling class – in all the lines of genealogy I am able to trace I come to miners, before the industrial revolution simple farmers, and on some cases naval people. There is only one line with “blue blood” but it is not legitimate, so I have no claim to be an Earl of Warwick even though I am probably a distant genetic cousin of the earls of Warwick.
As far as the working class of England was concerned, we didn’t get an easier time really because of the things that our elites were doing elsewhere in the world. We were in many cases treated worse than slaves, because a slave is property whereas when a miner keeled over with lung disease the master of the mine called out for the next desparate man in the queue to work in the mine. And such was the lot, I fondly imagine, of some of my ancestors.
On that basis, I should be getting reparations from the Third World at the rate of one Mango a month in perpetuity plus the occasional sexual favour from one of those black ladies you see on all the music videos, which I will pass on anyway in the interests of my family and my soul. But anyway that’s nothing to what I’m owed by the Queen of Denmark for excesses perpetrated during the Viking invasions.
So in short, even though I can say that it was shameful it’s not MY shame that the British, for example, tried to make China a drug addicted slave colony and then smuggled out their tea plants to mass plantations in India and decided we didn’t need the Chinese so much any more, at least we gave back Hong Kong honorably. Certain others didn’t give back Vladivostok, ceded at the same Peking Convention, because they are not leveraged by the same soft conscience that seems to weigh us down. But it’s not MY shame that ”we” had a past with China that isn’t glorious but it isn’t MY cost that “we” gave back Hong Kong (I didn’t own any of it anyway) and it isn’t MY pride that “we” gave it back – nobody asked for my opinion about it, they just did it on my behalf and on the behalves (?) of another 58 million entirely unconsulted British people.
Sometimes people ask me, “Uncle Davey, do you support the idea of freedom of the press?” And then I reply; “Certainly, I think the press should be free, in fact, I’ll go further; they should pay us to read that guff”.
The point at issue is that journalists, who are among the most powerful members of our society, because they create opinions, are not voted into place at all. They say that they are voted for every day, that every time one of their articles is paid for by the punter who buys a newspaper, that’s a vote, and that everyone who disagrees doesn’t have to buy them. To counter this, it seems very clear to me that people simply buy what is put in front of them, like sheep, and that there seems to be little choice in the matter of which paper to buy, as they are all a mix of what I call the three kinds of journalism, which as I mentioned in an earlier article are true journalism, jumbalism and junkalism.
True journalism investigates, reveals facts accurately and adequately and as the Dutch say “bijtijds”, which means in a timely way, and then comments on them in a thought-provoking, literate and justifiable way. Jumbalism looks like journalism but is a lazy man’s version of it, where people who don’t really know what they are talking about talk about it anyway, knowing that all but a few specialists will be taken in by what they say and getting hold of the wrong end of the stick. Or they give away the fact that they barely know the culture they are making “expert” comments on.
Recently both the BBC and the Guardian have been commenting on Polish affairs, for example, and going into villages so rural that they probably represent less than 5% of the population and this is identified as being how almost half the Poles live. On two occasions recently I have seen men referred to in their surnames as “-ska” because the jumbalist must have spoken to their wife or mother, taken her name and assumed that must be the same for the man. This shows the most extreme ignorance of any Slavic culture and ought to debar a person from commenting on it in any intelligent news framework. Anecdotes from people’s travels off the beaten track are treated as if they were news. The BBC “Whirled service” radio and television, the apex of high style journalistic reporting as they claim, can barely speak English properly and no longer seem to take any pains over proper pronunciation. (See Tristana Moore’s party piece rendition of ‘Zgorzelec’. One can hardly believe she was standing in the middle of the place and couldn’t be bothered to ask anyone how to actually say it. Was she flown in for, like, five minutes, just to stand in front of the cameras, spout some meaningless drivel, which her report certainly was, and then leave again as quickly as possible?) Read the rest of this entry →
Don’t ask me what this is but it’s got Vox Populi on it…
I thought I would kick-off the 2013 blogging on this channel with a little poll, one that I haven’t exactly seen elsewhere but which might be quite interesting as an experiment. After all, even though the Lord Jesus himself tells us that no man knows the time, there is also a saying “vox populi vox Dei” or “the voice of the people is the voice of God”. So could it be that collectively mankind knows when the end of the world is coming?
In fact, probably not. Was the voice of the people the voice of God when the crowd yelled “Crucify him!”? Hard to say – on the one hand it had to be this so that the prophesies could be fulfilled. In the case of this poll, the only prophesy to be fulfilled will probably be that nobody knows the day nor the hour, which means that our consensus, if the is one, will probably turn out to be hopelessly wrong. Read the rest of this entry →
Logo of the anti-RFID campaign by German privacy group FoeBuD. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve just finished watching the main Polish news programme of the day, the evening “Wiadomosci” programme on TVP1, which had as its closing story information about how in Poznan there has been a blitz on people who have dogs and haven’t paid their dog tax. Dog tax is a local tax in Poland, some municipalities charge it and some don’t, and there is a degree of freedom as to how much can be charged, and in Poznan that amount is 55 PLN/year, which is about $16 a year. This is more than I can remember from the UK, but dog tax was abolished there many years ago. During my childhood the amount was a good deal less than that, but maybe comparable if you account for inflation.
The question asked, and answered, in the news broadcast, was how the authorities knew where these dog owners were in order to charge them and take them to court for their missing payments of dog tax. The answer is, some time ago the municipality had a free chipping exercise for dogs whereby owners were given a free ID chip so that their dog could be returned to them in the event of loss. This you can have from any vet, by the way, but then it is a paid service. Not thinking that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and taking this inexplicable magnanimity on the part of the City at face value, Poznan citizens queued up and took part in the action and had their free ID chips with their addresses and telephone numbers, which of course were all put in a big database and reported to the City. The news report didn’t go into detail as to whether these people had signed anything which allowed that to happen or whether it was simply an abuse of privacy and a breach of the Data Protection Law, but when has that ever bothered government anyhow? It’s the little man with his business that has to worry about that, and not the governing elites.
Anyway, the next thing they said is that a number of Polish cities which did not have dog tax before are about to introduce it, citing Krakow as an example. They then also featured a few seconds of a disgruntled dog owner saying how he found it unfair that taxes apply to dogs but not to cats, guinea pigs, or aquarium fishes. I am sure he was about to use the word “”racism” had they only given him time to do it. Read the rest of this entry →
One of a few very rare female leaders who have outshone the men. I call these people “Deborahs” – but they are rarer than you think.
I received the following letter from Jeni, which has blessed me a lot during my recent struggle with pneumonia (firstly misdiagnosed as bronchitis) – I have just emerged from a four day hospital stay with a large bag of different types of pills and I don’t feel fantastic – I have been given another estimate of two weeks before it all goes away, but it’s nothing like what it was. If you haven’t had a bout of pneumonia, you don’t want it. By the way, since the lovely WordPress interface lets me do this, lets just take a check at this point of those of you who had pneumonia already and who didn’t have it yet, that would be quite interesting.
Anyhow, the letter from Jeni which cheered me up a lot is in the comments to one of the trilogy of anti -Watchtower films on this channel. In order to give more prominence to the interesting issues I wanted to give my answer instead as a main article, and thanks to Jeni for waiting patiently for me to get a bit better. I’m not really well enough to be writing about this, but if Calvin can write letters all over Europe when he had about 200 illnesses going on, then who am I to not write a blog post while recovering from Pneumonia? Even if I come up with more than the usual levels of fallibility, surely the Lord will add his blessing, which is the olny important thing.
Here’s Jeni’s letter:
I’m writing you because I watched all 3 You Tube videos on the Jehovah’s Witnesses back to back. I have been “studying” with a JW for a year now in my home and am trying to expose her to scriptures that will open her eyes. It’s a slow process. I think you and your theology is spot on and I wish you were my Sunday school teacher. Basically I just need your prayers as well as the woman with whom I’ve been studying. Please pray for her. I would love to have a house church or other ministry full of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses from my area and disciple them.
Side note, what do you think about the scripture in 2 Timothy where Paul says he doesn’t permit a woman to teach a man? I’ve listened to a little bit from both sides of the argument and I tend to lean toward the conservative view. However I’m a woman and so this is disappointing because I so want to pour out what I believe God tells me in the scriptures to others and there is no avenue for that presently at my church. All the women’s classes have plenty of teachers. Please tell me your view so that I can more fully examine my own.
Love in Christ,
First of all, many thanks to your compliments and desires that I could be your Sunday school teacher. I have in fact never been a Sundeay school teacher and am afraid and greatly tremble at the idea of having that or any other position of “power” in an organised Church. It says in James 3.1 “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation”. A higher level is applied to those who have had the rule in the Church. In particular there are big condemnations awaiting people who have had carnal kickbacks from being rulers in the Church, and by “Carnal kickbacks” I refer to everything from taking advantage of the monetary gifts of the faithful, using the position to gain more tempral influence like improving your CV for a temporal role, and also the utility a person’s pride has from the receipt of a title – Elder This, Deacon That (the Mormons love to leverage that one!) and also the influence over others – the joy of exercising power, and how in many cases we see little popes appear in Churches all over Protestantism – people who rightly reject the Papal claims to be able to tell people what to do in Roman Catholicism above and beyond scripture, or to be the uniques interpreters of scripture to their flock, and in the end they are even more papal in the way they treat their flocks than the very Pope in Rome that they abhor. The worst case of power abuse in the Church and the ultimate “carnal kickback” of leadership of course is the sexual abuse that thrives wherever leadership is put on some unnecessary pedestal. That again we hear of mostly in the media related to Roman Catholicism, but never fear, I am sure that Protestantism contains cases that can absolutely run rings around the worst of them, so let us be humble and circumspect. Read the rest of this entry →
Poland: visa and stamps (Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)
So now finally, the inevitable has happened. The long-awaited competition jointly hosted by Poland and the Ukraine has come to an end, the teams and fans and the organisers have all gone home, that is those who weren’t home in the first place.
What conclusions can we draw from this competition? For each of us no doubt the conclusions will be unique and personal, but some of the ones I have reached are as follows:
1. England has in fact got a very good football team, however we do need for them to learn a few games other than football, especially the one involving the goalkeeper simply trying to save a ball which somebody’s kicking into the net from point blank range. It would appear impossible to win a football tournament without knowing the other game also. It seems tantamount to having a chess competition in which one grandmaster, unable to do more than stalemate the other grandmaster, suggests a game of draughts in order to decide the competition.
2. The organisations which are responsible for arranging these competitions have turned into huge molochs whose every whim must be obeyed even by the state servants who are paid out of everybody’s taxes, and also by elected politicians. People seem so desperate for their cities to be hosts to these huge competition is that normal democratic considerations – as in does anybody actually want this – are swept aside, and the people of the place put to amazing inconvenience in order to be able to host these events. Nobody seems to be in a position to present a business plan that shows whether a place is likely to be better or worse off for hosting an event. Also UEFA were able to stop people filming in public places as well as block routes to and from work for people.
3. The conception of Poland in the Western part of the EU wasn’t necessarily helped by being twinned-up with a CIS nation in order to run the show. The Ukraine got to host 17 of the 33 matches, a slight majority, as they had the final in Kiev, or Kyiv as they insisted on spelling it on the boardings around the pitch, like we didn’t already have a perfectly serviceable word for the place in English. There was no difference in quality of broadcasting and filming at all in the various game locations, and the camera work and cutting were of the highest quality I’ve ever seen. However, Poland played host to thirteen of the sixteen teams. One of the three teams in the Ukraine was of course the Ukraine itself as indeed one of the teams to choose Poland was Poland itself, so effectively Poland quartered 12/14 of the visiting teams and 5/7 of the visiting teams whose matches were played in the first part all in the Ukraine. This included England of course, who were based in Nowa Huta, an unlikely destination as that place has Stalin nostalgist tours running to it out of Krakow to show what communism used to look like. The destinations chosen by visting teams really seem to have done their utmost to welcome them and whole towns in Poland have been decked out in colours of such countries as Greece, Portugal or Italy. The hotels where the teams stayed have been inundated with post-tournament accommodation requests, with holidaymakers willing to pay top zloty to be in the room where their favorite football star stayed for the tournament.
4. Mr Platini who is the UEFA top brass had a lot of praise for Poland and said that this tournament had set the standard that everyone from now on would have to measure up to. He had great praise for the hospitality in Poland. He called the Ukrainian hoteliers “crooks and robbers” for upping their prices during the tournament, which seems to be a fine case of double standards seeing how official merchandise from his own UEFA is much more expensive than unbranded merchandise of the same quality. Ecuadorian Radio Sports Commentator Alan Heath went on record saying how he was glad to see that a man like Platini, making several millions of EURO, could still find the time to criticize ordinary men and women who were trying hard to scrape together an existence.
Captions, anybody? Please give your humorous caption in the comments below!
5. Platini has also caused controversy since the tournament by suggesting that instead of countries winning and then appointing cities, individual cities, 12 or 13 of them from around Europe, will each bid to host some matches. The potential for bribery and corruption given that way of doing this will escalate tremendously, and so my congratulations go to Mr Platini’s personal advisers for dreaming up that one for their client. That’s real thinking outside the box.
6. It seems that if you want a road built in Poland, you need to wait for twenty years waiting for it and driving on overcrowded back roads with your life in your hands, and then when a football tournament comes along suddenly it will all magically be finished on schedule.
7. Polish people really care about whether they look good in the eyes of people from other countries. The Ukrainians were much less worried about that and just expected people to take them as they found them.
8. The police in this country are quite clever and capable of handling a situation with balance and without undue provocation, while putting the right amount of resource on the street.
9. International media are only interested in stories about yobbery and violence among fans, and immediately put out with relish the few such scenes that occured in Poland. They had very little to say about the 99.9% of the interactions of strangers on the streets in Warsaw, which were friendly and cordial, and frequently ended in sexual intercourse, if what I noticed is anything to go by. I don’t see the international news networks reporting on that. Likewise there were all these reports about likely racial abuse from Polish fans, whereas in fact there were no such incidents. Will the networks now kindly offer Poland an apology?
10. I still don’t understand the offside rule, and often get the impression that people make up the rules of football as they go along. Some goals that were disallowed, some things that were fouls and didn’t look like it or which were not fouls when they did – all of this adds to the impenetrable mystique of this game.
If you’d like to see my full coverage on film of the impact of EURO 2012 on Warsaw, please look up the EUROWARS series on http://www.youtube.com/usenetposts. In due course they’ll also be up on here as their own category.
As Nigel Farrage says in his video today, 5 of 17 Eurozone countries have been bailed out, but remember that a lot of the non bailed out countries are tiny and unable to carry the big failures. Malta and Slovakia look healthy still, but how can these tiny countries bail out big failures like Spain and Italy?
Now we are going to have a Spain vs Italy football final, maybe the loser should bail out the winner? Oops, sorry, I forgot – it always has to be the winner who bails out the loser.
Ironically it is the solidarity of Europeans with their common culture that could drag down the EUR. Nobody wants Greece out of the EURO because it’s the cradle of European civilisation. However, as far as economy and attitude are concerned, they are outside the other members.
I would liken the case of Greece to that of the planet Pluto. Scientists reckoned Pluto was a planet for a while, and included it in the planet club as the ninth planet of the Solar system. After a while, scientists saw that it was too remote to be a planet really, and belonged among these other “dwarf planets” or “plutoids” that kept on being discovered, ie the so-called Kuiper Belt.
Greece is still a Euro-Zone country, a planet, because people haven’t managed to determine the reclassification – we don’t have an economical Kuiper Belt to reassign Greece too. We are also wary of the effect of a nation that would contuniue to be an EU member being squeezed out of the EURO, left to fend for itself and failing to do so. Regardless of the poverty and problems that would ensure, the nation would still be in the EU. They would still be having their hand out for subsidies one way or another.
If they were removed from the EU and plunged into economic chaos, then probably the Chinese would come back and renew their bid for the Port of Thessalonica again, but this time there would be less to stop a potential dictator sweeping aside the mess Orban style and enabling Chinese investment, which would put the cradle of Western Civilizisation in thrall to the Han Dynasty.
On a lighter note, just because Pluto became a non-member of the planets club, it doesn’t mean that the infection passed on to Neptune or Uranus. Portugal seems to be taking its medicine, Ireland too. While in Greece there is chaos with people out on the streets burning stuff and there seems to be little to show for the previous EU investments while the Iberian countries made significant improvements to their infrastucture and invested their fundings more wisely.
Logic would say get rid of Greece. Sentiment towards our common culture says “bale them out some more”. And unfortunately, they know that.