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Columns


Saturday 5 May 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

Tell me what you believe in and I’ll tell you the party you vote for. Let me make myself clear: I answered this trendy survey (www.helpmevote.gr) and it turned out I have even (and valid) chances of voting for Stefanos Manos, Dora Bakoyannis and SYRIZA [Coalition of the Radical Left]! Not far behind are New Democracy and PASOK [Panhellenic Socialist Movement]. My chances of voting for Panos Kammenos, Golden Dawn, LAOS [Popular Orthodox Rally], KKE [Communist Party of Greece], Ecologists, ANTARSYA [Front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left], etc. fluctuate around a polar -20%!
Discussing with people who had answered this same survey, I realized that their results were as unsubstantiated and disorienting when it came to their profile and their voting intentions as mine.
There’s nothing wrong with the team that designed this survey. It’s clear that they made some serious and thorough research, dividing the party programmes and ideas into different sections.
But they made a mistake. There are no parties able to express the majority of the Greeks when it comes to primary matters that interest all of us – finance and security (as regards both our everyday survival and the medium- or long-term survival of the country) – let alone secondary matters that interest each one of us individually (e.g. separation of church and state, attitude towards the blogs, transport and environmental policy, etc.).
Amidst this climate of confusion and dissatisfaction, some of us will vote for what represents us best – or at least better than others when it comes to important matters for us individually.
Some of us will vote according to the “lesser evil” principle for the country and our common future. I can’t but agree that this category of voters consists of people whose survival – financial or physical – is not under question every day.
Some others will vote “in turmoil”, trying to punish the system that has been corrupting and pillaging the country for years and is now dividing the cost of our rescue unevenly and unfairly. This category of citizens will vote believing that their vote is the only way to protest in a way that will make an impact. In a sense, they’re right – their vote is the only way to hit the parties and the politicians that brought us to this point where it hurts most. However, should our goal be to punish the system (by replacing it, sooner or later, with another system), thus destroying our hopes and chances for a better future?
In that sense, I would tell all the people who intend on voting for the two extremes – KKE, ANTARSYA, LAOS, Panos Kammenos and Golden Dawn – to consider whether they would like these parties to govern and what this would entail for the country, themselves and their survival.
As regards the case of Golden Dawn, I’ve heard a lot of young voters saying that they will vote for them because the establishment and the “grown-ups” are fanatically against them and against the possibility of them entering the Parliament. Therefore, what do teenagers usually do? Whatever shocks and provokes adults – who have, truth be told, the greatest responsibility for what’s going on… I would tell young voters to consider what they really believe. Do they believe that Adolph Hitler was a visionary? That Jews must be slaughtered? That Anne Frank was justifiably murdered by the Nazis? And, by the way, do they really believe that the Germans are our saviours – and thus all’s well in our country, no financial problems, no illegal immigrants, zero crime rate, no insecurity. Because this is what Golden Dawn stands for. And whoever votes for them accepts that murdering people simply because they’re not Christians is justifiable. That’s all.
As regards the “unrepentant” PASOK voters (who are the only people who will vote for PASOK this time!), just consider you’re voting for Evangelos Venizelos!!! The person who just won’t stop, even on the eve of the elections – what was he thinking when he told foreign journalists that Greece is still in danger of going back to the drachma despite the fact that this is not an issue anymore? I honestly don’t know. Did he remind us the drachma danger just to scare us into voting for him or to scare the Europeans and thus emerge as a great leader? Only he knows, I think.
By the way: Andreas Loverdos is such a star!!! He has already prepared his fiery speech against Evangelos on… May 7. Despite being hunted by all the doctors in the public sector and the pharmaceutical company owners for allowing generic drugs, establishing electronic prescribing and – with the help of some really special associates, such as the general secretary of the Ministry of Health, Antonis Dimopoulos – bringing order to the chaos of corruption at the Ministry of Health, he decided to penalize unprotected sex with prostitutes and thus became the new favourite of Durex, Trojan, etc.
His idea might be right, but it will certainly increase budget costs because the policemen responsible for confirming the crime will have to be paid double for.......................................




Thursday 3 May 2012

«Huffington Post»

(As published in the Huffington Post at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amalia-negreponti/somebody-you-used-to-know_b_1465710.html )

Last summer on a remote islet in the Cyclades my world broke. A complicated incident involving a malfunctioning electrical socket, a bikini insidiously entangled with my iPad's charger cord and a mindless tug I still haven't forgiven myself for, led to my beloved machine taking a fall from the dressing table where it had been reverentially placed. Despite trying to break its precipitous fall with my leg, we ended with a nearly broken leg, a half-broken iPad screen and a fully broken heart.

My whole life was on that thin screen. That was when I realized how much I am defined by my online existence and how much of me can be found scattered across the Web. So in an age when such a great part of our lives are spent online, how can we wish to leave no digital trace of who we were, what we did, what our life was about? Is it reasonable, or human, to (be able to) pretend to control/contain our lives only to want we currently approve of: the people we are at that precise moment in time, the people we are currently in touch with, and -- inevitably -- those facts and people who show up connected to us in official records (births, marriages, deaths, arrests, court decisions, real estate, jobs). Is there really nothing more to us, nothing more to our lives than that? Than what on earth are we doing constantly wired?

Of course, my dependence on the mobile Net and the trust I place in major Internet companies to act benignly with all the sensitive information I sometimes willingly (credit card information), sometimes unknowingly (like the snippets of personal data collected from WiFi networks of a large number of homes that cars equipped to photograph streets for Google Street View were passing), opens up a whole galaxy of potential abuse that I am vulnerable to.

A part of this abuse -- whether actual or merely possible -- is currently at the heart of the increasingly, legal criticism leveled against the mobile Internet in its entirety, as well as against the giants that dominate it.

In the non-legal sphere, the level of disquiet raised in the public by regulators, personal data monitoring services, groups campaigning for anti-tracking rights for consumers and privacy advocates, is currently at a high. Companies like Michael Fertik's Reputation.com sell online reputation management (ORM) and internet privacy to those who can afford to buy.

In her book "Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other," MIT professor Sherry Turkle notes that many people are prone to soul-baring in a way they are not in the 'real world' because "they hope to be repaid in intimacy. The online setting increases the number of people to whom one applies for a caring response. But it also opens one up to the cruelty of strangers."

Yet the world -- and I mean the non-virtual one -- is also full of cruel people; it also has many kind ones. Strangers can be cruel and they often are. On and off the Net. Yet not, in my experience at least, more than people we are close to.

This particular kind of cruelty is manifested in "Somebody That I Used to Know" the runaway global success of the Gotye (featuring Kimbra) song. "I'll admit that I was glad it was over/But you didn't.......................................
 




Sunday 29 April 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

Our ancient forefathers were right: the other side of tragedy is comedy. Just a week before the general elections (which no one really cares about apart from the candidates and their prospective 'clients') and arrests have skyrocketed! All the politicians who have been stealing all these long years from the state coffers, and all the entrepreneurs and businessmen who have been —accused of — tax evading and haven’t been arrested for so long, are finally starting to be arrested, two and three by day! And there’s more coming.
The police is working overtime. On the one hand, they have to arrest politicians, their wives and their daughters. On the other hand, they have to arrest newspaper editors who aren’t liked by pillars of the establishment or their wives! And then there are criminal gangs mushrooming all over the city… The new “trend” has to do with two unscrupulous gangs of Albanian gangsters who break into houses holding grenades and threatening people that unless they give them all their money and valuables, they will blow them up.
Still, our main concern is the upcoming general elections next Sunday! In light of that, if you will, bear three things in mind: First, anyone who regards writer, intellectual and, generally speaking, sweet and kind Petros Tatsopoulos (SYRIZA [Coalition of the Radical Left] candidate in Athens B΄ Electoral District) as a potential killer has to vote for Panos Kammenos! Just a few days ago, Panos Kammenos accused Petros Tatsopoulos (who stood aghast) of intending to kill him!!! I’m afraid that Petros Tatsopoulos won’t write a book again: the reality of what’s going to happen to him in politics and parliament will take over the party. Best of luck Petros!
Second, anyone married to a woman who doesn’t like some journalist or other, has to vote for Panos Kammenos as well. Definitely! Newspaper editor Aimilios Liatsos’ arrest, one week before elections, following a lawsuit filed by Panos Kammenos’ wife, Mrs Eleni Tzouli (a lawyer whose name was linked to Mr Valinakis’ wife, Mrs Christina Valinakis....) is characteristic. She totally wiped out her husband, Panos Kammenos! What was the point of him founding a political party if he was to be destroyed by his wife 7 days before elections? In the end, there’s always a woman – mistress or spouse — behind the rise or fall of any politician. In Greece lately, wives have been the ones to immolate their husbands.
Third, anyone who intends to vote for PASOK [Panhellenic Socialist Movement] should be aware that means they will be voting Evangelos Venizelos for prime minister. They should also bear in mind what Reuters revealed on Friday: that Greece, through the greek banks, was forced to pay €300 million as collateral to Finland, in exchange for Finland’s contribution to the our new aid deal. This eventuality, as you may recall, was the result of Evangelos Venizelos’ scandalous blunder as Minister of Finance…
Yet despite our tragicomedy, the sun is shining with more and more self-confidence; the sky has a certain shade of blue that wakes up sadistic protestant instincts of envy of Greece; and May Day is coming — I bet that most of you will “bridge” Monday and make it into a four-day holiday!
My night walks are now a rejoicing of the senses: all the scents of spring bursting around me, and huge gorgeous roses and cherry and almond blossoms filling the streets where I walk. I try to cut a rose that peeps out of the fence of a well-preserved garden but you stop me. “Be careful” you say, “people are edgy nowadays. If they hear a noise outside their window in the dead of night, they may come out holding a shotgun.”
Still, the night is beautiful — I have always loved it much more than the day — especially now when spring is lusciously exploding and summer seems to be right around the corner. The night also hides the ugliness of our plight that the sun relentlessly reveals. At night, there’s only magic, the essence of Greece, despite what we (and they) have done to our country.
On the way home from the long midnight walk, I notice that the number of death notices and..........




Sunday 22 April 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

“Besso left this strange world a little ahead of me. But this does not mean anything. People like us know that the distinction between past, present and future is simply a persistent illusion” Einstein himself had admitted on the occasion of the death of his friend Besso. A similar view is expressed in Einstein’s quote that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”. These two quotes summarize Einstein’s quantum theory, according to which there are parallel universes and nothing is ever lost.
The Americans have systematized this theory to a whole school of thought and scientific research, known as biocentrism. We Greeks have named it politics. A characteristic example is the ten-party (!) Parliament which the May 6 elections are expected to produce, according to the latest surveys. Some matters-possible scenarios we should bear in mind before voting:
First, you may vote for ND [New Democracy], but you might end up with… PASOK [Panhellenic Socialist Movement] ministers. Think of all those “sworn” rightists who couldn’t even stand hearing the word “PASOK” having to support a coalition government with PASOK all over again! Or think of all those members of the party’s student wing with the polo shirts and Sebago shoes hugging former green guards… Life is a bitch, don’t you think? It depends on the perspective and the ministers, of course! In any case, “sure bets” are Milena Apostolaki and Eva Kaili, certain other Evangelos Venizelos’ favourites, Andreas Loverdos, and all PASOK deputies who have “denounced” George Papandreou lately!
Or the other way round: you may vote for PASOK, but you might end up with Antonis Samaras as prime minister. This scenario is particularly interesting since Antonis Samaras, from the first day of his election as President of ND, has been vehemently, venomously and malevolently criticized by members of “enlightened” PASOK mainly.
However - and this leads me to the third scenario - the truth is that the largest part of elitist “enlightened” PASOK is homeless before the upcoming elections. Some of those “enlightened” and progressive intellectuals have chosen Fotis Kouvelis and DIMAR [Democratic Left] or Evangelos Venizelos and PASOK. Most of them, however, having tasted a bit of power during the last few months by participating in Lucas Papademos administration, are now saying goodbye to the Alexandria they are losing…
 




Saturday 14 April 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

Spring is in the air and we haven’t even realized it.
Easter abroad came and went. Only in Greece and Israel does this holiday overwhelm us. Possibly due to the fact that this holiday in both nations symbolizes anguish, the struggle for life, freedom and final success – exodus from the desert, exodus from death.
This year, however, I can’t see a glimmer of hope anywhere. The charade of Akis Tsochatzopoulos’ arrest proves it. On the day the general elections were announced for 6th May, the performance of the treatrical play “we punish the people who stole” took place. If they did it for real, either the Lucas Papademos administration or – mainly – the George Papandreou administration, there would be no public debt. Were we to retrieve (confiscate) the spoils, we would be saved…
The Lucas Papademos administration came and went. It played its role as regards the PSI and the approval of the new rescue programme. Nothing else. There wasn’t any time to do anything else. And who exactly could do anything else? As this administration showed, politicians aren’t much worse than university professors and other technocrats who “contend” for power from time to time (regardless of parties and governments as long as there’s power involved) and gain it sooner or later.
It may sound harsh, but take a look at the protagonists of our political arena who contend for our vote… Thank God, there’s no George Papandreou anymore. He burnt himself – in political terms, of course. Otherwise, it seems to me that he keeps leading a luxurious life: swimming pools, canoeing and spas; tourist trips to America; lectures and theories on saving the world and socialism.
No one wants Antonis Samaras – that’s one thing everyone agrees upon. The right wingers don’t want him because he’s not “right enough”, the left wingers don’t want him because they believe he belongs to the “extreme right” since the days of Political Spring. No one forgives him the fact that he supported the Lucas Papademos administration – not even Lucas Papademos himself, it seems to me!
Whenever Evangelos Venizelos makes a statement or takes some action, we all try to see the “dirty background”! Unfortunately – or rather fortunately – we all remember, despite having got used to him, why we chose George Papandreou over him back in 2007. Facing a similar dilemma nowadays, we would all choose the third available solution: the doorman of Ippokratous Street…
Some academic and legal circles who have known Fotis Kouvelis for some time now – left wingers, lawyers and fellow members of the Greek National Council for Radio and Television – place him in the same league (because there’s not a lower one). Others accuse him of opportunism, claiming that he’s a sort of left-wing LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally): a mosaic of people without any clear opinion (let’s not talk of ideologies: no one has any. In any case, the only “ideology” citizens ask of politicians is placing the survival of the nation above their personal interests.).
I don’t want to talk about Panos Kammenos – I run the risk of being sewed because I can’t control myself. Suffice it to say that compared to him, Antonis Samaras seems like Rosa Luxemburg. Of course, it may be unfair to accuse him of political opportunism – he only said that he would team up with Alexis Tsipras.
Who else could the proudly masculine, nationalist and impulsive Panos Kammenos team up with? The conservative Fotis Kouvelis who spent his youthful… vigour participating in christian organizations…? ............(cont.)




Sunday 8 April 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

Foolishness and hypocrisy were loved by many people in Greece, for a long time. Quite a few people also made a lot of money out of this deadly pair.
This catastrophic combination of foolishness and hypocrisy hit Greece like a hurricane, following the tornado of Andreas Papandreou’s PASOK which moved in the rhythms of the disorganized and often unfair redistribution of wealth; the “Tsovolas, give it all” economic theories; and the “bloody house” morality. When that era finished, the rich had become richer and a new social class had been born: the nouveau riches. The largest part of the society had also learnt the tricks of corruption as a way of living, taught by the politicians, and we all (or almost all) lived happily, beyond our capabilities, in a status quo which no one wanted to disturb. This status quo was based on one principle: doing everything for the money and saying that you don’t really care about it.
In order to protect this lame point of view, practical and theoretical “weapons” were used. Indicative examples of the practical methods of preserving this illogical and illegal situation can be found in the case files of the countless scandals which never reached the court because a politician was involved. The “theoretical” weapons used are also numerous. One of the most crucial was the ludicrous theory-“catch-phrase”: “Money doesn’t count; only experiences and emotions count”. A phrase mainly used by former leftists-present stockbrokers, businessmen, executives, intellectuals and, of course, politicians!
However, in present-day Greece where money and life no longer exist for most of us, common sense seems to be returning, be it slowly. The need, squalor, decadence of any kind and despair brought by poverty, have made us realize the true value of money – which is great but not as great as we thought. Its value, as we realize with each passing day, is partly material.
Money gives you freedom and dignity, knowledge, power, self-confidence and opportunities. It helps you be or become healthy. It gives you the chance to shape yourself, internally or externally, in the best possible way. Thanks to it, your life can be better in terms of quality: you can be better educated, more sensitive, more refined; you can contact charming and interesting people. You can be privy to new discoveries in biology, medicine, physics and technology which make human life and the capabilities of body and mind better in a way that most of us can’t even imagine. Money also gives you pleasure and the ability to give pleasure to others.
All these immaterial benefits that money can offer, is just an opportunity. Which can be accepted or rejected by the person who has the money. I’ve seen extremely rich people living a miserly life, counting every cent and finally dying, leaving behind them a huge fortune, taken by the church/the state/foundations/distant relatives who didn’t even know them and didn’t really shed a single tear for them.
I’ve also seen sick people becoming worse – or, strangely enough, becoming better! – when getting involved in complicated and exhausting power or control games, the results of which they won’t even see! These “games” take place in businesses, in politics, in families daily.
On the other hand, I’ve also known a man who, on his deathbed, struggled to find a way or a “trick” so that his death wouldn’t have such a great impact on his mother. Contradictory as it may seem, all these lives were marked by the same element: not money; love. Whether we talk about the abyss one is drowned in for lack of love; the fear of being unloved if one does not “fool” or manipulate others in order to gain their love; or the love that transcends even biological limitations, we are referring to the same element.
Of course, the thing that gives life to anyone and meaning to their life, overcoming the burden...........




Sunday 1 April 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

Abandonment, degradation, dissolution and regression. Upon returning to Athens and encountering this state of affairs everywhere, this was the first shock I had. Already from the airport, which was the apple of our eye in 2001, everything seemed to me so… small. Not necessarily because of size but because of the abandonment created by a lack, a deficit of love. I believe things, even landscapes, buildings, cities, are living creatures, akin to men. They “blossom”, invigorated, when they are imbued with life and love; after all, love means to care for and take care of, in a regular, concrete manner.
In Athens, I found everything stark, demeaned and divested of all its beauty. Humbled, dusty, destitute: the look of abandonment. The city and all it contains left to its fate; Athens is nowadays the capital of a country where most of its citizens inhabit it like spectators of a bad reality show, and the rest make it their life’s goal to—further—destroy it, in every way.
Yet, all of Europe seems to be dividing along similar fault-lines: on the one side we have those who are—worthy of being—“with us”; on the other side, those who are “against/unsuitable for/disliked by us” (although in today’s world, those most people tend to like and consort with, are usually those suitable for us). In this manner, a European axis of powerful, affluent, dynamic and modern countries is created. I surrender to the temptation of using the word “axis” to address this phenomenon because it is again this same large powerful country which created the axis during the Second World War, that is now drawing the new dividing and divisive lines. As for the rest of us who won’t belong to this axis, we are rapidly on the way of “balkanization”—and reverting to the state in which the Balkans were immediately after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.
Indicative of this situation are, I think, many of this past week’s developments: the relocation of even the “alternative” Europarliament (which until now functioned as the—of mainly, only symbolic significance—democratic alibi of the European Union) to Brussels; the fact that Bundesbank decided to no longer accept Greek, Irish and Portuguese bonds; the French who, day by day, almost mindlessly, are being drawn closer to Germany whilst they are with horror discovering in the heart of their democratic freedom-loving country of the Enlightenment, that Jewish citizens are no longer safe—for yet one more time in modern history…
Lawlessness, crime, impunity. This was the second shock I faced, coming back. From early morning, almost dawn, the streets near my house were filled with raucous voices made even louder by speakers. Rag and bone men peddling their willingness to swoop down on anything no longer wanted, as they break off from the city’s infrastructure, anything made of metal (which they sell by the ton). I am sorry to be so politically incorrect but when and, more importantly, how the heck did Chalandri (an area akin to NY’s Upper West) get so full of gypsies?!
In a central pharmacy, one of the very good ones, I pay with a twenty euro note. For hankies and mouthwash. For change, I receive some coins and a five euro note. The following day, at the supermarket next to the office, I buy a small bag of oranges with this change. A few moments later a minor furor has ensued involving even the supermarket’s security guard. The five euro note is counterfeit. I abruptly stop being the center of this inglorious attention, when another customer who, on his way out of the store with his purchases, tried to shoplift three organic chocolate croissants. Stolen organic chocolate croissants!! If there was a god, he would’ve killed himself in this country.
Let’s not even speak of what happens when you dig a little deeper below the surface of things, if you stay in Athens more than a couple of days, or you venture beyond a radius of.............................




Saturday 24 March 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

Through the window, you watch the almond tree blossom with each passing day. The people here talk vividly, laugh, make plans for the next day and the coming weekend. Spring is everywhere.
I wonder what’s going on “at home”, what’s going on in Greece. What will the image of the city be when I land at Eleftherios Venizelos? I read some headlines from Greek news sites. Most of them seem meaningless. Others, insubstantial. Tranquility, relief and guarded optimism seem to rule in Greece the last few days. As soon as the first installment of EU aid money was received, as soon as the first payment was deposited in our national bank – literally speaking.
Some headlines seem optimistic and serious. “The Guarantee Fund for small and medium-sized enterprises is being launched within the next few weeks. Through it and thanks to the NSRF and the European Investment Bank, an amount totaling up to EUR 1 billion will be given to Greek banks in order to support lending to small and medium-sized enterprises”. Another one: “A European Parliament decision paves the way for funding motorways and other infrastructure works and boosting growth”.
I instantly feel somewhat relieved, then I bite my lips. All these auspicious headlines presuppose competent governance. Otherwise, the money will be lost or end up in the pockets of our cunning manipulators, once again rendering the country “a black sheep” in the eyes of the world. That’s what I’m afraid of.
I’m not talking about the present government of course. I hear that Philippos Sachinidis was finally appointed Minister of Finance – he deserved it after stoically soldiering on in the mess that was dumped on him two years ago. Plus, there’s no danger of him being corrupted in two months’ time! In any case, people, to the best of my knowledge, don’t change radically. Power does not corrupt them beyond recognition. It makes them reveal their true self. Too much power, of course, can drive you a little crazy, destabilize you, bring out several negative aspects. Yet if you possess inner quality and stability, there’s nothing to be afraid of. This was obviously not the case with the majority of our politicians. Is it possible that things will suddenly change till elections next month?
I climb a hill in the park. I feel rather proud for the small personal “achievement” of the day. The city looks better from here, stretching as far as the eye can see. Even further.
They love parks in this city. They honor parks. They walk through parks almost daily, especially through the ones that are near their work or home. They eat their lunch in the parks whenever they have a break from work. The lovers spend hours in the parks daydreaming. The elderly reminiscence there. The park benches are more comfortable and cleaner than the chairs of even the best cafés.
The people of this city love parks because their parks belong to them, as an integral part of them. They claim their parks as their own, each and every day, with a naturalness akin to breathing. The same goes for every small part of this city: its inhabitants claim it with passion, pride and love. Because it’s theirs. Because they love it.
I’m not sure whether these two concepts are synonymous – I think that modern psychiatry accepts that love is inextricably tied to ownership: He-she-it becomes mine because I love him-her-it. Or the other way round: He-she-it is mine, therefore I love him-her-it. Only when it comes to extreme circumstances of true love ending in sacrifice, can we talk about love that transcends the “ego”. However, we’re not talking about......................................
 




Sunday 18 March 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

The sky is purple. Tonight’s slight humidity makes the lights of the tall buildings intertwine with the distant haze of the stars. Everything becomes a misty stardust that embraces you, but seems too far to reach.
Here, in another city, a city outside Greece, midnight comes but the traffic doesn’t stop. It never stops here. That is the case in the other metropolis' of the world too. That used to be case with Athens. Tonight, here in this city, there are a lot of people on the streets. They are not reveling but they are not working either. Not tonight. At this time of the night, the people still up and about, they have the time and leisure to take delight in their city, to experience it, take it in, breathing deeply. Yet they do so whilst remaining constantly on the move. They don’t stop, not even for a minute: they walk, they come, they go, they always move rapidly and decisively towards their next destination.
During the day, you read on the websites and in the newspapers of this foreign city about our national debt “haircut”. On the street, outside a building that occupies half a block and belongs to a big multinational firm – I think it is Lazard – you hear two men in sharp suits saying “Greece defaulted today. It will be interesting to see what will happen in the markets”. They are talking and rushing, almost running out of the building, propelled towards their next destination by an inner force that seems to exist within nearly all the people here, in this city. That is why they will reach their destination very shortly, in time... The last words of their conversation which you hear, before they move too far away for you: "Greece is finally "over”  and done with-the “contagion” that could have spread to other countries has now been contained". It is true. In all aspects: the people in Greece think that their country has been “over”, for some time now.
The financial crisis that plagues the whole of Europe is visible here too. Extravagantly, shockingly expensive cars are fewer than before-fewer than they were in Greece until most recently. There is a certain balance, a measure, a logic that governs life here. An order. In posh neighborhood cars are bigger and more expensive. The houses are well-maintained and stylish. They almost certainly hide great luxury inside. But even this luxury is measured and dignified – even inside newly-built houses. Good taste generally prevails here.
As you move towards the centre, the commercial zone, the “alternative” albeit trendy suburbs and the “second-class” neighbourhoods, the atmosphere changes: it becomes coarser. People yell more and some of them seem confused, intimidated and intimidating at.........




Sunday 4 March 2012

«PROTO THEMA»

I didn’t like the series of epic fantasy novels “Game of Thrones” at all. Nor did I like the HBO series “Game of Thrones”, despite its great success and the “madness” that ensued (just like the teenage vampire franchise which started after Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight).
The problem is that, in contrast to many other adults, I don’t hide a child inside of me. I irrevocably belong to the world of the “grown-ups” – body and soul. That’s the reason why I find it hard to laugh with the doings of our politicians who are still contending for power in bankrupt (if not yet officially…) Greece.
Of course, it has been repeatedly established in Greece that it’s no good not feeling and – mainly – not acting like a child. It’s no good being and living like an adult. If you don’t feel like a child, you’re over. Because a large percentage of Greeks acted like that in the recent past – and still does. Like a child.
The “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself” mentality is one of the greatest damages our nation has suffered under Christianity. It is exactly this element that, in combination with our emotion, led us to a cicada-like life, as the Europeans accuse us of. That’s the reason why there are so many “over-indebted households”.  Forgive me if I sound a bit unpopular, but with your base salary and… loose family planning (three or four children), how could you afford a flat in the city and a house in the country? The banks provided loans, I know. The responsibility for the real estate bubble is hierarchical: from the top to the bottom. But even the “bottom” is to blame – the state should be neither a pimp nor a guardian…
“They play like foolish children”, a lot of people say about politicians. However, I disagree. Our politicians are the only Greeks who don’t act like children; they have legally – in the Constitution and by law! – established their unaccountability even when they steal, plunder or lie. Their money is always deposited in a secure secret high-interest bank account. Having solved all other problems, they just fight for more power. As established during the last decades, they perceive power as a chance to satisfy their superiority complex and acquire more money. Because there is money, there is always money, in the state. Even now, I can see that there is money for those who know.
At work the other day, a colleague of mine was telling me that he didn’t have the money to pay the extravagant heating bill or to fill his car up with gas. On the other hand, politicians (even part-time or retired ones), businessmen and their acquaintances are commenting on the crisis and warning us about the difficult years ahead from the interior of their armed limousines, as they travel from Ekali to Kavouri with their chauffeurs and bodyguards.
That’s the reason why the so-called “social support measures” which our immaculate government has recently announced have nothing to do with social support. They have a totally different name: pre-election measures. The main clientele of politicians has always been the public sector. That’s the reason why the public sector is still thriving, whereas the greek private sector is almost entirely destroyed – even the Coca-Cola Company is closing its factories and seems to be withdrawing from the greek market!
Yet, this is not social support. A kind of social support would be not to cut pensions further – primary and auxiliary. A kind of social support would be to facilitate the access of all people (especially the elderly) to their social insurance organizations, health services and public hospitals. Let’s stop playing – at least with words…
Three days ago, the Italian president of the European Central Bank handed out cheap money to the european banks. It’s been the second attempt to offer liquidity to the european market since December. During the last three months, the EU member-states received a “gift” of 1,3 billion euros. Three countries shared the bulk of the money: Italy, Spain and France. The others – Portugal and Ireland included – “grabbed” a piece.
All countries except Greece.  All european banks, mainly responsible for the creation of the bubble which burst and created the present crisis in Europe and Greece, were saved. All except greek banks and Greece itself, which is sinking deeper and deeper: both its citizens-tax payers and its banks, which have been supporting (at their own cost, of course!) the life of the country and its citizens – and, unfortunately, the opportunistic policies of each government and the mandatory “favours” of the entire politico-economical establishment.............



 

My beloved terrorist
Published by: LIVANIS
First printing: 2001
Pages: 403
Hellenists: Greece does not wound them
Published by: LIVANIS
First printing: 1999
Pages: 314
 
 

 

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