How telling of the modern state of EU leadership, that such quotes can be given with a straight face.

On Monday, Papandreou had announced plans to hold a national referendum on the EU bailout package for his country and the concurrent austerity measures imposed by his government. The announcement sent global markets plunging and outraged both Merkel and Sarkozy.

Why the outrage? A nation’s elected leader wishes to poll its citizens as to whether to accept an EU bailout (much of which would return to non-Greek banks holding the bonds), or whether to default. In the former case, dramatic austerity measures would be imposed, and sovereign governance lost. In the latter case, a “drachmatic” exit from the Euro would certainly be painful (as would the temporary loss of access to credit markets), but Greece could recover on its own terms, like Iceland and countless other countries have. So the referendum would most basically ask whether or not Greece should suffer more for the sake of foreign bondholders who were foolish enough to buy Greek bonds. Disregarding the moral impropriety of defaulting on one’s debts, it was to be a Greek referendum on Greek self-interest. Thus the outrage! It is an admission that the Greece bailout is not for the benefit of the Greeks.

It will not surprise anyone that this is the same part of the world whose leaders schemed to block, subvert, cancel any sort of direct democracy by their citizens, when the EU constitution / Lisbon treaty were bulldozed through, even where legally required, election-promised, or vetoed (Ireland had to re-vote until it got it “right”).

Posted Sat Nov 5 08:06:00 2011 Tags:

Yeah, so Obama can’t stand Netanyahu, not a big surprise to anyone who’s been watching. But this part of the news report is shocking:

The surprising lack of coverage may be explained by a report alleging that journalists present at the event were requested to sign an agreement to keep mum on the embarrassing comments. A Reuters reporter was among the journalists present and can confirm the veracity of the comments.
A member of the media confirmed Monday that “there were discussions between journalists and they agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue.”
He added that while it was annoying to have to refrain from publishing the information, the journalists are subject to precise rules of conduct.

These reporters have so prostituted themselves in the name of access that they agree to pass only non-sensitive non-embarrassing information! What self-respecting news consumer would want to pay for (or even read) the effluent that comes from outfits that admit to doing this?

Posted Tue Nov 8 06:00:00 2011 Tags:

I participated in my first karate tournament as a competitor recently. Relax and be very unafraid, for I’m old in age and tyro in skills.

The competition was organized by this club in Mississauga this past weekend. Something like two hundred competitors were there, including a vast majority of kids. They are probably the bread & butter of the karate industry, so it’s no wonder that they take up most of the time/space slots. They have the least tolerance for much waiting, so it’s no wonder they go first. The consequence is that the strike>the higher, the fewer the older, the later, but how much later is not formally predicted. In our case, it turned to be about four hours.

In my old/new guy categories, there were only a handful of competitors. In katas, there were just two, including myself. My opponent did a serviceable “taikyoku gedan”, and I did a serviceable “gekisai ichi”. Of the two of us, I was deemed less imperfect, so received a Coveted First Prize ™. Total time, two minutes.

In sparring, our division grew by an impressive 50%, with the addition of one other gentleman. Not being familiar with the match system in use, I expected each of us to spar with the other two people, but not so. I met the additional gentleman first in the rectangular ring. It seems he practiced “tournament style” sparring.

My one or two readers might wonder what “tournament style” sparring is. Apparently, the standard scoring system has incentivized a peculiar combination of two or three moves that even its practitioners admit are not terribly realistic. It goes like this: the strong side is placed in front, one leg is raised, and is waggled up and down to get the opponent to back up. At some point, the tournament-styler leaps toward the opponent, with a movement similar to tipping a basketball into a basket, and tenderly touches the top of the opponent’s head. In tournament style scoring, this touch is deemed just as lethal and scoreworthy as an attack that carries some destructive power. Adults, suitably trained, can pull off this maneuver in a few seconds. Kids, suitably trained, offer a hilarious/sad display where opposing tykes concurrently and repeatedly perform the exact same combination, with flailing legs, in a display of synchronized robot-fighting. Some believe it’s a disgrace.

Our home club’s Sensei helpfully warned about this practice, and offered some counter-moves. In my match, one of them worked beautifully, and I was too lame to accomplish others, and was twice head-tapped. I don’t remember how all the other points went – I think it ended 5-2 in Mr. Additional’s favour, over about sixty seconds. He proceeded to best our third division member in about thirty. For some reason, these two contests were sufficient to place the three of us into a total ordering, at the bottom of which landed yours truly. Alas.

It was a learning experience, but with an active engagement of perhaps 90 seconds out of the total 16000ish I was at the event, a diminutive one. The experience leaves your na�EF;ve correspondent, who was looking for education rather than competition, with a few questions.

  • Can such events be better organized so the contest is not grossly dominated by waiting time? For example, can the start times for individual divisions be better estimated?
  • How does one learn to enjoy pure theatrics (the musical creative numbers or the grand entrances with weapons)?
  • Where can one spar in a more educational way, without the 30-second flutter kick / flying backfist schtick?
  • At more advanced levels, can one get enough out of events like this one?

The answer may be simply to stay at one’s home dojo, or to arrange joint classes with likeminded clubs.

Posted Sun Nov 13 18:30:00 2011 Tags: