Posts by Alex Storey

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1) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1653633)
Posted 16 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Yeah, this is gonna get ugly! :) Looks real, so I guess he'll be in hot water soon with a lot of embarrassing backpedaling and apologizing.

But since he was talking for almost an hour and made sense the whole way through... Je suis Varoufakis :)
2) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1653578)
Posted 16 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
You are truly a colossus of critical thinking.
3) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1653562)
Posted 16 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Hey Alex, don't do that to me! I read the quote first and thought WTH, there's nothing on the BBC site about it???

Apologies Chris! I'll post dates up front next time :) BTW Always loved the word ‘supergrass’.

Then there is to grease one's palm

Actually, now that you mention it, I wouldn't be surprised if it's the actual origin of the Greek expression. A lot of slang expressions get translated into Greek.
4) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1653559)
Posted 16 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
...corruption and its fanatical defence...

Still trolling with that straw man* I see. The only thing I've defended so far is math and common sense.

What country are you from? Let me know and I'll show you exactly how fanatical I am about corruption's big picture.

Does this mean conceding wrongdoings, making amelioration, putting an end to corruption and its fanatical defence, starting paying taxes and debts?

Any 2nd rate opposing party politician of any 1st world country could say that (about his own country) and find a few simple minds to applaud him. It's too generic.
EDIT: (My point is) You could translate that into any language and apply it to any country in the world. Kinda like this week's astrology predictions.

*A straw man is a common reference argument and is an informal fallacy based on false representation of an opponent's argument. To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.

This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged emotional issues where a fiery, entertaining "battle" and the defeat of an "enemy" may be more valued than critical thinking or understanding both sides of the issue.

In the United Kingdom the argument is also known as an Aunt Sally, after the pub game of the same name where patrons throw sticks or battens at a model of an old woman's head.
5) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1652291)
Posted 13 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Germany last night declared that Britain would be forced to scrap the pound and join the euro – as David Cameron returned home empty-handed from crisis talks in Berlin.

In a highly-provocative intervention, German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble suggested the UK’s struggling economy meant the pound was doomed, and urged the Prime Minister to back Europe’s ailing single currency.

Mr Schauble said the euro would emerge stronger from the current crisis – leaving Britain on the sidelines unless it signed up. He said Britain would be forced to join ‘faster than some people on the British island think’ – despite a pledge by Mr Cameron never to do so.

- 21 November 2011

Are we there yet? ;)

Meanwhile in Iceland...
Iceland drops EU membership bid
- 12 March 2015
6) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1652012)
Posted 12 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
I am positive that previously seen defenses like this are definitely nonsense: "I'm also sure that 'fakelaki' has nothing to do with tax-evasion or bribing."

You do not seem like the kind of person that can fathom anyone but yourself as being correct, but I'll once again take the bait in case anyone in this thread still cares about nitpicking an issue that has nothing to do with Greece's current mess.

By the way, I'm also sure that 'fakelaki' has nothing to do with tax-evasion or bribing.

- "fakelaki" is an old wacky tradition the current senior citizen generation has of sometimes tipping public surgeons after surgery, with no hint that the doctor expects or will even accept the money (or perishables as noted previously).

- "someone asking to be lubricated" is someone asking for a bribe (any civil servant). I assume it's much easier for the foreign press to talk about cute little envelopes than it is to explain the messy (and sexually charged) act of lubrication. Called "ladoma" or bribe (or "fakelaki" when someone wants to make it sound harmless). And while I've read the stories too, I've never actually met anyone that has fallen in the hands of such a psychopath doctor (though I've heard people that claim to know people that have had to buy off a bureaucrat for quicker service). I'm sure you'll now troll me with 10 more links for my audacity, as I'm obviously not allowed to have any personal experience in life and my memory probably deserves to be erased (by your "logic").

- another scenario which hasn't really been mentioned as far as hospitals goes (and definitely should) are political "favors" i.e. nagging a politician to make a phone call to get someone to "cut in line" (of scheduled surgeries for example). These stories are much more common on the grapevine. Strangely, no money is involved apparently - only the implied promise of a vote.

All 3 scenarios are of course illegal for all persons involved. Many different charges are made by the court but none of them involve tax evasion.

Which brings us to tax-evasion:

- Private doctors not giving out receipts to patients. However most Greeks use public doctors because they are actually quite good. But most Greeks will go to a private dentist though for example, and probably a few other specialists I can't think of right now (plastic surgeons?).

Instead, should we conclude that austerity reduces corruption?

Yes, we can agree that jumping to conclusions and handing out "cures" that are exponentially worse than the "disease" is a brilliant idea. How's that for snarky? :)

I'd hate to think what your opinion is of much larger scale tax-evasion! Maybe we should wipe out Luxemburg and every IKEA store off the face of the earth?

7) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1651523)
Posted 11 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Battle blades begins again to wail about how the Greek crisis will be resolved. The Greek Finance Minister threatens to have a referendum on the membership of the Euro, EMU, if his proposal gets slammed. At the same time the Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem calls on Greece to stop loitering and start acting.

Here we call the crisis "Grexit". Is it the same in Greece?

Yeah, like I said weeks ago... all politics from now on. Economics need far quicker decisions, better planning and a better understanding of numbers. The EU hasn't proven to be capable of doing a stellar job as far as Economics are concerned. I think a fair assessment would be "mediocre reactions at a destructively slow pace". Unfortunately when I say things like that, most you guys think I'm trying to defend Greece! Which is a shame because like Michiel, and probably even more so, all I really care about is a United States of Europe that anyone and everyone would be proud of. Otherwise what's the point? So when I tease him and call him corny it's because it takes one to know one. And I'm cornier than him. Because I'd like to see a Europe that's star-spangled-awesome. Instead what I'm seeing is a humiliating lack of founding fathers. To be fair, the USA set the bar ridiculously high when it comes to intellectual greatness in the Founding Fathers department. So that's my political comment for the day.

Anyway, back to the quoted text. It must have been a slow news day because both the Varoufakis and Dijsselbloem news were pretty much detached from reality, with the media putting words in both their mouths. I may not think much (if at all) of Dijsselbloem as an economist but that doesn't mean I'll defend made-up stories to make my case! It bugs me when the media do not do their job well. Actually, because of my work experience, it's one of my most severe allergies.

As far as Grexit goes, that's not going to happen. It's a stupid idea when you weigh the pros and cons. What I'm about to say is a bit of an oversimplification but "Grexit" scenarios are coming from the financial markets. It's their way of saying that prevailing politics in the EU are unreliable and acting crazy. Of course there are idiots (politicians) both in the EU and in Greece that think it's a good idea because it "feels" right. Feelings however are seldom based on complicated facts. The good news is that Merkel is displaying a deep understanding of this particular subject (can't say the same for a lot of the people in her party), hopefully having learned her lesson for listening to Sarkozy [partly explained here - Europe on the Brink -- A WSJ Documentary]. And Varoufakis is the last person in Europe to believe it's a good idea (can't say the same for a lot of the people in his party).

It's simply a case of most people missing the forest for the trees.

How many here remember what got Margaret Thatcher fired? I could be wrong since I'm going from memory but I think it was mainly her outspoken reservations about the foundations of the EU... How many here realize that history proved her reservations to be sound? And how many here realize the irony in the fact that UKIP have based a whole campaign on something Margaret Thatcher warned of almost 25 years ago?

This is legendary. The first few minutes could have easily been spoken this morning:

Margaret Thatcher's Last Performance as PM
8) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1650460)
Posted 7 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Alex. Do you mean Up Yours:)

Ahahaaahaha!!:) It's a good thing I'm bilingual

Best translation fail on these boards ever:) Second best was a Norwegian guy who called everybody "cheaters" when he was really trying to say hackers/gurus/DIYers :) He was actually asking for advice. Poor guy got hell for that and everyone got modded!!!

If you'd like a boring explanation of what Janne is actually trying to say, here it is:

I used a quote from his precious Paschalidou and Janne thought I attributed it to HIM. And he's trying to tell me "It's not ME saying that, It's one of YOURS. A Greek!!! Do you see now? Do you not understand? She has unraveled the country's deepest-darkest secrets because she's an investigative reporter and only a GREEK like Paschalidou could be trusted with access to such knowledge!".

The new Swenglish? I've got a craving for some Engrish/Chinglish images now:)
9) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1649616)
Posted 5 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Alex. Do you mean Up Yours:)

Ahahaaahaha!!:) It's a good thing I'm bilingual Janne and actually understand what you meant by that! A monolingual would have had a heart attack :D

Yes, I understood that Pascalidou is part Greek and I also understood she's trying to pass as an "investigative" reporter.* My point was that she's a tabloid journalist pretending to be serious (arguably not the most credible kind). It's what most countries used to call "yellow" news a long, long time ago.

A serious newspaper editor would never have let that sentence fly. It has no journalistic (let alone investigative) credibility.

Every day for two years, I passed the hospital Evangelismos. A concrete colossus with winding queues of patients who all had their necessary "envelope"...

Here's what would happen in any half-serious newspaper:

[Pascalidou gets called to the Editor's office]

"So Alexandra, let me get this straight... So what you're saying is, you passed by Evangilismos every single day, stopped (every single day), used your Superman-like vision to see through walls and into the pockets of endless lines of patients and every single one of those patients, every day for two years, had a "fakelaki" in their pocket?"

[Pascalidou exits Editors office to work on another draft of the article]

(Bunch of other stuff I'd love to reply to and talk about but unfortunately that's all the time I've got for now.)

PS Yes, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was an awesome movie :)

*I also had read your Charlie link and it's a very sad story (and her heart's in the right place) but you can't win a Pulitzer on those merits alone unfortunately.
10) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1649456)
Posted 5 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Yeah, that's probably because "he wants to be lubricated" doesn't translate so well.
11) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1649355)
Posted 4 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Aaaaaaah ok. Epiphany!
Yeah the light bulb above my head appeared.
Some of you are confusing your google-fu with your ability to decipher numbers.
No problem. I can spoonfeed you. I'll even chew your food for you:)
All you needed to do was ask!

Se let's begin:
And estimates show that €120 billion may have been lost to illicit money from bribes and tax evasion in the first decade of 2000.

Those are Greece's numbers for both bribes AND tax evasion. Here are some numbers for tax evasion only, for the same period:

US = 3 trillion
Germany = almost 2 trillion
UK = about 1 Trillion
Spain = about 1 Trillion

Now can you guys relax and breathe or do you need me to put those numbers into context for you? :)

@SNARK I can't believe it's so important to you. Those are all bribes. You want me to call them fakelaki because someone at Kathimerini thinks it's cute? Do you have a point? Or did you think I ever said that people don't get bribed in Greece?
12) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1649312)
Posted 4 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
@Snark, Wiggo,

OMG. It's the attack of the grumpy old trolls in here.

Cut the crap, Alex.

Sten, is that you? Sounds like you... Or someone is stealing your lines ;)

I'll try and explain the difference one last time. Just because your link says a "fakelaki" is synonymous to a bribe, doesn't make it so. Even your quoted text alludes to this when it says "has come to describe a wide range of bribery" but neglects to describe the true meaning of the word. All I did was point to the origin (and correct meaning). Why? Because I assumed (and I think it's a fair assumption to make) that nobody on these boards knew there's a minority of the (baby-boomer come to think of it) population in Greece that thinks it's a good idea to tip their hospital doctor. Obviously this wacky fact doesn't interest you at all and you'd rather talk about bribes which is a whole other subject. Fair enough. But...

You're crazy to twist that into me saying "I'm ok with psychopath doctors demanding bribes from cancer patients". That's slanderous.

Quit trolling.

If it wasn't for your "fakelaki" tradition, your country wouldn't be in the financial mess that it's in now (and that's a fact)

More trolling, more condescension, more ignorance.... great.

On the condescension: it sounds like you're looking for a wog to talk down to mate. I'm sorry but I can't help you with that. I'm not your guy. My best guess is you are confusing my location with some sort of patriotism. No idea why. I'm guessing again, but I'm betting on a complete reading comprehension fail of my posts. Can't help you with that either.

On the ignorance: You too of course are talking about bribes, not tips. Because I know you don't think vintage wine gifts are the root cause of Greece's enormous debt. To suggest that bribes in Greece are the cause of its financial mess is hilarious. To then go on to claim it's an undeniable fact... downright ignorant. How does that work exactly? Greek government takes out a €100 billion loan and rations it out to the Greeks for the sole purpose of using in case they need to bribe someone? I can't believe I'm wasting keystrokes on this.

Hell, I'll even give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you lumped in all types of tax-evasion (even though it's nowhere in your post). To which my reply is:

"Not from the numbers I've seen so far. Unfortunately it looks like a drop in the bucket compared to Greece's debt." There appears to be a lot more money missing than taxes can account for. Shocking? Certainly. True? Most likely. In fact, I'd love to be wrong on this one.

(Side note: judging from my experience with some of the comments so far, I'm sure some idiot will find a way to turn that quote into me somehow "fanatically defending tax evasion".)

Outlawing that stupid practice there would in fact help your country a very great deal.

I'm going to be making fun of you all year for that. You really need to drink some coffee before posting and read what you are replying to :)

Up next:
Every day for two years, I passed the hospital Evangelismos. A concrete colossus with winding queues of patients who all had their necessary "envelope"...

Per l'amor di Dio.

I think it's obvious you three have managed to get on my nerves today (Michiel was nice enough to warn me this would happen eventually) so I went back to see what all the fuss was about. Did you three geniuses fall for this pearl of "investigative" wisdom? I shouldn't have to ask this but I will: Does that read like The Washington Post to you or like the Daily Mirror? Do I LOL, cry, bang my head on the desk or all of the above? :D

What is this Alex?

Dude... I have no idea. That's like me asking you what's up with Finland or asking Chris S what's up with Ireland. Cyprus is not a Greek island.

Now where's my EpiPen? :D
13) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1648932)
Posted 4 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
But with coalitions they nearly always get it wrong.

Do they? I have no idea to be honest. That's what I get for not following politics!

The Spock side of me would think that a coalition might be likelier to find common ground built around some common-sense issues everybody can agree on. The real-world Alex side of me however would have no trouble believing what you are saying to be true :)
14) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1648925)
Posted 4 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Hugely disappointed from my attempt to share my anecdotes of the real "fakelaki" tradition. I thought it would be insightful and mildly educating to shed some light on a wacky Greek tradition. In the real world I was trying to explain a strange tradition in Greek tipping but in the fantasy world of some posters here I was apparently "fanatically" defending bribing!? I guess some posters have a much larger need to vent than actually use their brains for critical thinking or educating themselves. So it goes...

Anyways, back to my favorite topic (these days): Je suis Varoufakis :)

Interview with John Kenneth Galbraith's son

Economist James Galbraith recently spent a week with Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. He shares with Fortune what he learned while looking at the nation’s fiscal crisis from the inside.

Is Greece’s fate in the hands of Angela Merkel? One leading economist with close ties to Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis says that the primary obstacle to compromise is a dramatic division within the German government, with one faction demanding that Greece fully adhere to its previous commitments, and another powerful group advocating compromise.

“It’s all up to Merkel,” says James Galbraith, who spent seven days in mid-February at Varoufakis’ side in Brussels and Athens. “We’ve heard from her finance minister, who takes a negative stance, and from her vice chancellor, who wants to talk. The person we haven’t heard from is Merkel. We know she does not talk until needed. They are as tough as possible, then make one concession at the last minute so they don’t have to make two.”

Working alongside Varoufakis, Galbraith got an inside view of the chaotic maneuvering at a Eurogroup meeting of European finance ministers, held on February 16 in Brussels. “I stayed with the tech teams, from the 11th to the 17th, including the Brussels meeting,” says Galbraith. “I was in the boiler room with the Greek guys, the working stiffs.”

At the Eurogroup conclave, Pierre Moscovici, the EU commissioner for economic and financial affairs, presented Varoufakis with a draft communiqué that allowed Greece to apply for an extension of its loan agreement while granting time to discuss a new growth program for Greece. As Varoufakis stated at the press conference after the meeting, he was poised to sign the Moscovici communiqué, which he praised as a “splendid document” and a “genuine breakthrough.”

But the chief of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was working on his own document. “Yanis said, ‘I have a text,’ and Dijesselbloem said, ‘No, this is the text.’”

For Galbraith, the divisions in Germany, and among the nations themselves, have made it clear that the European leadership are poor negotiators. “They made the mistake of exposing to Yanis that they are playing a very hard game, but not playing it very well, from the point of view of basic political skills.” He dismisses the idea that the Greek position is confusing. “I think the Europeans want to pretend to be confused, but the confusion exists in their minds, not in the Greek position.”

For Varoufakis and Galbraith, petty politics is trumping sound economics. “The institutional players—the IMF, European Community, and ECB—have been constructive,” says Galbraith. “But the creditors, the active players, are the finance ministers, and they are divided and hostile.”

Through all the turmoil, Galbraith’s admiration for his friend Varoufakis has only increased. While many argue that Varoufakis’ unorthodox wardrobe and provocative statements—remarking that the reform agreement amounts to “financial waterboarding,” for example—are antagonizing Europe’s financial establishment, Galbraith says that fellow ministers should welcome him as a rare truth-teller. “His honesty, clarity, and erudition are quite unknown in European circles, so I’m sure it’s quite a shock to experience him for the first time,” he says.

Fortune magazine (Time Inc.)
15) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1648465)
Posted 2 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
A bribe is promising a public servant a box of chocolates. This is illegal in both Sweden and Greece.

A tip is giving a public servant a box of chocolates after he has provided a service. This is illegal in both Sweden and Greece.

A bribe implies an arrangement between two parties and preferential treatment.

A tip implies no arrangement has been made and no preferential treatment.

And while a waitress (in any country) may expect to (likely) be tipped, a Greek public surgeon does not expect to (likely) be given a "fakelaki". But like I already said: sometimes they are given a fakelaki after providing their service, but this practice is falling out of fashion.

No. It's a cultural difference. Her even a chocolate box and other present is considered a bribe illegal if it's given to a public servant.

Let me try to make up an example with an equally made-up punishment:
-If I "bribe" a public servant with a box of chocolates I would expect a court to punish me with a 3-month community service sentence.
-If I "tip" a public servant with a box of chocolates I would expect a court to punish me with a 1-month community service sentence.

PS I started writing this before Chris replied but only finished it up now. I see Chris is saying pretty much the same thing as me in his first sentence :)

EDIT @SNARK Quit trolling. I never defended "fakelaki".
16) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1648444)
Posted 2 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Something is getting lost in translation.

In no country is a bribe synonymous to a tip. So when you say "Here it's called a bribe" my answer is "No, it's not".

In no country (I'm guessing) is it legal for a civilian to give money to a public servant. Whereas you imply that this is the case in Sweden but not other countries.
17) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1648436)
Posted 2 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Not sure how you got the impression I was attacking the awesomeness of Sweden in the post you replied to. Not to mention that you're preaching to the choir (and that should be obvious by now considering my previous posts in this thread).
18) Message boards : Cafe SETI : R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy (Message 1648414)
Posted 2 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Spock was quite likely my biggest role-model when I was a kid. I'm so happy to see this seems to be the case for so many posting here.

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy
19) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1648405)
Posted 2 Mar 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Here it's called a bribe and is illegal.

My, my... This brief sentence manages to contain a lie, a piece of misinformation, and quite likely a hint of condescension. I would suggest you put in a little effort when trying to be an ambassador for your country, Mr. Yanis.

Here it's called a bribe...

No it's not. You made that up.

...and is illegal.

In which country on this planet is it legal for a civilian to give money to a public servant Mr. Yanis?
20) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1647614)
Posted 28 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
A quick & brief description of Yanis V. (Not the best description... Not the most in-depth. In fact I think this article was a quickie... but no matter. It should give you a sense of this super-clever dude.)

History of Economics Playground - What does Yanis Varoufakis want?

Every one of "us" has been begging for a politician that isn't a politician, an honest guy that's one of "us", someone with a bit of common sense, a dose of reality and the ability to look at the big picture. Varoufakis is all of those things and I'm sure most of you don't know him (just like I didn't 'till MK mentioned Valve - thanx again Kong!) but if you do even little bit I'm absolutely positive we can agree he is NOT a politician ;) And that's a good thing.

I'd call him a nerd, an engineer type thinker, and one of the smartest guys in ANY room. I just hope he's around long enough to prove to be a global tipping-point. Just long enough for uncultured, narrow-minded, double-digit-IQ sporting, dangerous caricatures like Olli Rehn & Schauble to go out of fashion.

Je suis Varoufakis :)
(just not as smart, or quick-witted, or...)

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