Saturday, February 21, 2015

Greece; Islam; Good News; Ponters problems; Las Fallas; & Dawn.

So the EU and Greece have (as expected) drawn back from the brink and reached a last-minute agreement. Possibly. If so, let's hope it lasts longer than the last EU deal - with Russia over the Ukraine. 

Stepping back from the detail for a minute . . . Could anyone have predicted this Greek crisis 20 years ago? Or 13 years ago, when the euro was introduced? Or only 5 years ago, when the EU was having its own existential crisis? Probably not. But, then again, there were those 20 years ago - in Britain and elsewhere - who warned that a one-currency-fits-all policy would prove unworkable, as it was a political not an economic project. More accurately an experiment. And one that ignored the differing natures of the various national economies. And then there's the fact that absolutely everyone now agrees that Greece lied about its stats and that everyone else knew this at the time. So, the country should never have been allowed to join the eurozone. All of which means the current debacle was possibly rather more predictable than we might think.

I was wondering yesterday whether some supreme authority in Islam (Sunni and/or Shiite) might do the world a bit of good by excommunicating Islamic terrorists such as those of ISIL, as it seems to be called this week. I suspected there might be a problem arising from the fact that neither sector of Islam appears to have a Pope-like figure of universal authority. And so it turns out to be. Here's the disappointing Wiki entry on this: "Excommunication does not exist in Islam. The nearest approximation is takfir, a declaration that an individual or group is kafir, a non-believer. This does not prevent an individual from taking part in any Islamic rite or ritual, and since the matter of whether a person is kafir is rather subjective, a declaration of takfir is generally considered null and void if the target refutes it or if the Islamic community in which he or she lives refuses to accept it. . . . Takfir is a highly contentious issue in Islam, primarily because there is no universally accepted authority in Islamic law. Indeed, according to classical commentators, the reverse seems to hold true, in that Muhammad reportedly equated the act of declaring someone a kafir itself to blasphemy if the accused individual maintained that he was a Muslim". So that door seems firmly shut.

Twenty years ago a well-known British journalist suggested that news programs should report good news as well as the traditional bad news. For this he was pilloried - and almost crucified - by his (cynical?) colleagues. The public, they said, is only interested in disasters and good news is no news. And we serve the public. Well, in the intervening years, attempts have been made (e. g. here and here) to provide news which which will give us a warm glow rather than a cold fear of imminent armageddon. And even The Huffington Post now has a Good News section. Perhaps it's all a reaction to the depressing impact of the ubiquitous 24 hour rolling-news channels. The 7th circle of Hell. Whatever the stimulus, it has to be a positive development.

The judge investigating the ex-Treasurer of the governing PP Party around illegal party financing and black payments to several key members of the Spanish government has lost come key files. Which should delay things rather. And possibly take us past the deadline for trying the (alleged) offences. Not that the Spanish courts seem to need above-normal reasons for slowing things down. But what a pleasant surprise this must have been for Sr Rajoy and his colleagues.

Pontevedra's procession of Carnaval floats was postponed for a second time yesterday - because of rain, of course - and might just take place tonight. And the immolation of Ravachol has been moved to tomorrow night. However good these events turn out to be, they'll be as naught compared to the Valencian Fallas of March. My friend David has sent me this video of the staggering celebrations, when (he says) the ground quakes beneath your feet. It's in English, by the way, but the translations sounds pretty literal to me. 

Finally . . . And then it dawned on me . . . I am a camera:-


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Them pictures of yours look like Rome burning… Do you also sing lines from the Iliad as you pick away on your harp?

Colin Davies said...

No. I am a camera, not singer-cum-harpist. Nero had a harp??

Perry said...

Lyre. According to Tacitus, the fire lasted for six days and decimated Rome, with only four districts untouched out of a total of fourteen. That's rather a long time to be bashing the old Jonah.

Tacitus tells us that Nero returned to Rome immediately when word of the fire reached him in order to begin relief efforts. As the fire raged on, Nero even opened up his own gardens to provide a temporary home for those who were now homeless. He also ordered the construction of emergency accommodation and cut the price of corn, as well as provided food directly, so that people could eat.

Besides this, he paid for much of these relief efforts out of his own pocket.

Or Kithara.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Ay, a Harp by any other name would sound as sweet…

True, Nero probably never did that one-man performance. He simply got a bad press later on. But if it isn't true, it's still good fiction, right?

Yours, ABM

Merovingio said...


Colin Davies said...

Many thanks.

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