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  1. I see a lot of similarities between Corbyn's success and the rising popularity of Bernie Sanders in the U.S. Both are genuine progressives/semi-outsiders (Sanders being an independent senator in Vermont), and I think convey a sense of authenticity that many voters, particularly younger voters, crave.
  2. Just confirming Dante's post from almost a year ago... I check back every now and then, but haven't really poked out of my shell. Well, until now of course.
  3. Edric: I appreciate it, but, I mean, there's really no need. The heat of the moment has passed, and a lot has elapsed since then. The Greek debt crisis has been discussed ad nauseam and I think there's very little doubt that much of the blame really does rest squarely on Greek shoulders. I mean, for Heaven's sake, the country has the world's 23rd largest military but a population of only roughly 10 million. They've got almost as many main battle tanks as Israel for crying out loud and--if I'm not mistaken--Greece ought to be primarily a maritime power. No wonder the Germans are furious.
  4. All that shocks me is the apparent intellectual laziness of your post, Edric. Frankly, I'm not even sure you read the article. 1. You jingoistically phrased the question as: "Greek public sector workers are corrupt, don't do their jobs, retire too early and get paid more than they deserve." And then went on to say that the article was a little lacking in its proof: "No evidence provided. NONE. " You felt so strongly about it that you had to italicize, capitalize, and boldface the statement. And then repeat it. One would think you'd know what you were talking about? Right? Well, then you said this: "The author doesn't even bother to come up with some actual numbers." Actually, they did: 65,000 euro for the average state railroad worker. That's not an inference, they said it: "The average state railroad employee earns 65,000 euros a year." Then you said: "How does it compare with, say, German public sector workers? (hint: the Greek ones get paid a lot less) [iNSERTION: hint, don't confuse reported income with actual income, see below, and read the WSJ article] How much vacation time do they get per year, on average?" I don't know what German public sector workers make, because you failed to provide me with any information. That's funny, because that's exactly what you accused me of doing, only you were wrong about that. However, I do know how it compares to the Greek private sector (because the article told me): "The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job. The national railroad has annual revenues of 100 million euros against an annual wage bill of 400 million, plus 300 million euros in other expenses." I also know that it's roughly 120% more than the average Amtrak salary, which I believe is a comparable industry. I've shown you a bunch of numbers, would you like to show me any? Because, if I may, I think your point 1 boils down to "they haven't shown me enough evidence." Well, I think they have. You're of course free to disagree, but if you don't know how it compares to other European economies, or even American economies, then you're just blowing smoke, right? Why don't you find out and tell me, and then we can have a substantive discussion on point 1. Otherwise, I just feel that this paragraph of yours was one of the most capricious and weasely things I've seen you do.*(see below) 2. All you do here is say you aren't convinced by the evidence provided in the article, but then go on to say that you believe the premise because it's basically the word-on-the-street? Okay... I guess I accept your grudging concession? This is a good overview of the Greek "shadow economy," which represents income that's removed from the grid, and is the largest in Europe (representing more than a quarter of Greece's GDP... this is significant, since Greece is anywhere from 1/4 to 1/7 the size of the other economies on the list: it's only 10 million people). I suppose we'll never know who was evading what, but I think it's clear that evasion is widespread. Certainly it includes the super-rich, but according to the Vanity Fair piece as well as the WSJ piece, it includes middle-income earners as well. I think the "word on the street" as I know it is that roughly 55% of Greeks manage to evade the majority of their income tax. From what I know of Eastern European culture, I'm certain that everyone cheats to some degree (Russia, for example, had a 56% tax evasion rate for at least one year in the past decade). But, whatever. You wanted to make a crack at "Greek capitalists", which is as hilarious to me as it is dubious (In what sense? They live in a market economy, aren't they all capitalists? Oh, you only mean the bad ones? Oh, yeah, I guess that's totally fair of you to do). I'll concede that it's difficult to know the extent of evasion, because the whole point here is that people are moving income off the grid. However, I think there's a lot of evidence that says the evasion is widespread, and, frankly, I think you're just ignoring that and providing no evidence of your own while accusing me of doing the same. I think that's unfair. I think the better argument you could have made here, that was made by others above in this thread, is that, "if everyone cheats, and you have to cheat to survive, is it really wrong?" That's an actual debate. I regret that you denied me that. 3. Yeah, he was pretty fascinated with the monks. I don't know why, and I don't think it was the most compelling part of the article. However, I'll admit that I think he's right about the monastaries being "on-the-take" from the government and that being a big deal. Being moderately educated in history, I do know (and can confirm) that the monks were always seen as the "guys on the side of the little guy" throughout the 20th century. During the wars, the occupation, the depression, etc. It's just sad to see them participating in the fleecing of their countrymen. If you want to call this author's treatment racist, then by all means, please do, but, if you wouldn't mind, could you quote what you think was racist and explain why? Like how I did with Eras way back when? I would really appreciate that, because that might elevate this to something more than merely you sharing your subjective impressions for all their worth. Looking forward to hearing back from you. *EDIT: Look, this forum is only useful to me if you guys tell me things that I can't find elsewhere. Sometimes that's opinion, othertimes it's fact. If I give you an article and some data, and you think it's wrong, you can't just tell me you thought it was wrong. Otherwise what I think is good evidence just sits there looking right and I don't know what to make of it or you. What you need to do is tell me why the article is wrong. If you think that German state workers make tons more, then tell me what they make, and tell me why those figures are accurate. If you think that information is relevant to Greece, tell me why: tell me how their wages compare to the German private sector. Tell me Germany's national debt. Do the work. Yes, I suppose I could do it all myself, but I did the first half of the research here, and so far, the only half of the research. I'm not writing a paper that you get to criticize: ideally we are both collaborating on a product. In that sense, making a comment like "hint: it's a lot more" actually looks more and more to me like utter douchebaggery. What? Do you not know and just want to seem like you do? Or do you know, but you won't tell me? Those seem like the only interpretations to me. Come on, do your part. If Vanity Fair is straight-up lying and the world is wrong about the Greek debt crisis, I really want to know. Seriously. Even if every word I said above is wrong, if you fairly demonstrate that, I'm not going to like you any less. But saying that it is and not doing the work obviously will have the opposite result.
  5. It's sad, but also terrifying. What options are left to you when people seek to control your behavior and you cannot reason with them? (Though, I suppose they would say the same about us... I don't want to get into the depths of a meaningless discussion on relativism, but I know there's a difference and we're on the right of it). I'm hoping this "movement" or whatever it is stays comfortably on the fringes of acceptable thought.
  6. I take it the maddened Bible quote was too much for you, too? Not that there's anything wrong with the Bible... but that there's everything wrong with using it like a garage tool. I have to clarify that now, you know? In the old days, that comment could stand for itself. But after the Erasera... let me be frank. Eras was simply too stupid to participate in a discussion. Read carefully: any discussion. And I'm not trying to insult him or kick him while he's down (well, not too much, at any rate). He actually failed to understand effectively every distinction that came up in conversation. Take the above example. I didn't like someone's use of a Bible quote? Then I must hate the Bible. Scratch that, I must hate God. Eras thought not only in absolutes, he thought only in absolutes-by-assumption. This is nuts. This is how totalitarian dictatorships get voted into office. It would never have occurred to him to think that my comment was limited to the context in which I made it: that I could disapprove only of one person's particular use of a quote (not necessarily from the Bible), and in doing so make no other implications or insinuations. It was impossible for him: I know this because when we tried to explain these distinctions, in painfully basic terms, he denied them. Everything was re-scaled to fit his worldview, without exception, and without appeal. I think that mentality is not only infuriating, but also dangerous when it's played out on a larger scale. I would have been more comfortable with a three-month ban, and maybe a probationary period, but when I look back on the events of the last year, I think you made the right decision. Finally, as far as Americans are concerned, I think a post-mortem of Eras is actually a good conversation topic given that for the first time since 1910, as many as 12% of Americans are born outside of the United States. I think just as demographic trends are shifting to a younger, more diverse population--as was the case at the turn of the 20th century--paranoid insecurities like the kind voiced by Eras are on the rise again (the Klan's height was right around 1910, remember). I really do think he represented classic extremism, albeit "benign," and I hope that in the information age one can only assume such extremist positions if they are very stupid (in other words, too stupid to cause any trouble). Curt, if you are a real person, stick around. You're bound to be smarter than Eras, and who knows? You might actually contribute and you might actually learn something. Believe me, Eras was probably wrong about everything he ever said, including and especially our open-mindedness. I mean, take this invitiation as an example: I still think you're a sockpuppet, but I value the tiny possibility that you're an independent mind enough to make this gesture. Seriously. We're only assholes if you're an asshole to us, first.
  7. For what it's worth, I appreciate it as well. I've long given up trying to educate Eras or explain anything to him. Sometimes I yet try out of habit or instinct, but when I realize what I'm doing I stop. I think if we had reacted this way with him in the beginning, he wouldn't have built up the psychic momentum that keeps his absolutely batshit messiah-complex going (footnote for Flibble, read below). Clearly it's too late for that now, but this really is the next best thing. So, thanks. And I really don't care if you make fun of me or not for the sockpuppet allegations... I still stand by them, and I think Dragoon mentioned some way of tracking them that wasn't as involved as stalking Eras (which I'm not asking you to do, by the way--that's illegal). Still, you're the mod, and it's up to you whether you want to investigate something or not. I can't make you. And if I can't convince you that something is worth following up on, then that's that. For what it's worth, though, I can think of at least a half dozen still-active users (which, by the way, is a lot these days) who believed and continue to believe that Denis and Curt were sockpuppets. I mean, notice how well their activity correlates with Eras', for example? It's that that makes me think that your "b-b-b-b-but!" was a little premature: I don't think they'll keep posting because I think that if Eras is moody because of a temp-ban and stays away then they'll stay away, too... because they're the same person. (Just like how all three of them happened to be away from Internet access for July 4th weekend... coincidence? Maybe. Puppeting? Maybe more. Though, to be fair, if Denis and Curt come out hard while Eras is temp-banned pushing the whole God-hates-gays agenda, that won't convince anyone that they aren't puppets). Flibble: my only question is why you didn't react as badly to Eras then (when he first revealed to us that he was a bigoted ignoramus who only cared about forcing people to accept his twisted interpretation of religion) as you reacted to Dante just now. Maybe you weren't active or didn't notice, and if that's the case, then that's fair, but I really feel like your righteous indignation might have been better spent elsewhere and elsewhen.
  8. Now that the frenzied-whine of Athanasios has subsided, I decided to do some research on the Greek debt crisis. My conclusion? The Greeks have only themselves to blame. The Vanity Fair article does the subject better justice than I ever could, but among some choice facts: -The Greek government stopped collecting taxes during election years, so that incumbents would be more popular at the polls. -Greeks consistently underreported their gross income on their taxes, in many cases reporting as little as 30% of what they actually owed (for many, that meant reporting as little as 12,000 euros a year). -Goldman Sachs was hired to cook the country's books, in the hope that EU regulators would never notice the country's $1.2 trillion debt. -In exchange for worthless bonds, the Greeks received $145 million from the EU and the IMF as a bailout. -The retirement age for Greeks is 55 for men; 50 for women. -All Greek salaries were vastly inflated. The equivalent of a construction worker made 80,000 euro a year (and, naturally, paid none in taxes). -Monastaries, the classic "guy on the side of the little guy" in Greek history, were given millions of euros in bribes. My conclusion? The Greeks earned it. They literally lied, cheated, and stole. As a society. And the best-case scenario is that Germany basically buys Greece at the repo auction. Sure, the bribery and the outright cheating of the EU is the fault of the government: but the widespread system of tax evasion and the sense of entitlement to an irresponsible high-wage/no-tax environment is squarely the fault of an unrealistic (naive?) Greek people. I look back on Athanasios' absolutely infantile "revolution" and I laugh. I laugh hard. ("Athens today, Berlin tomorrow!"). In one sense, it's amazing just how well he "represented" the facts. But, seriously, in all fairness, this country's behavior (as a government, or as a people, take your pick) was reprehensible. It makes Lehman Brothers look like a model for professional responsibility. The only thing that went wrong was, predictably (though, I guess not to them), the money ran out. And what did they do? Blamed everyone in sight who wasn't Greek.
  9. Liar. You're a mockery of everything that Christ stood for. EDIT: I mean, don't you get it? Do good works, don't brag about good works. You lack humility. Don't claim that you have pure motives, or that everything you do is for "the common good," because you're a human. That's impossible. You're not Christ. You're arrogant. Don't try to couch your patronizing, prejudiced views with terms like "People of Color" (you capitalized both words, you dimwit!)--it just makes you look even more racist. You're intolerant. For more than a year now, I've tried to explain to you--as Dragoon said, in nice terms, in neutral terms, and in cruel terms--and you absolutely refuse to listen. In fact, you're proud of the fact that you don't listen. You're spiteful. You claim to love your common man, yet refuse them some of the most basic courtesies. On every single level, you exemplify the precise opposite of what it means to be Christian. So shut up, and don't you dare try to talk like you know what it means to be Christian. Ever. Again. You don't know, and I don't think you ever will.
  10. Eras: It's called bias. You're not objective. I mean, none of us are, not fully--but you don't even make an effort! In other words, you're willfully blind. Why is it that you take Flibble seriously when I've been saying the same thing for months? Will you stop taking him seriously, too, when you refuse to change and he keeps calling you out? I bet you will. That's the only way you've managed to live in ignorance in the free world for so long.
  11. You shouldn't. Eras hasn't met Ath: he certainly hasn't had a beer with the dude and heard about his "life." Eras has had only and exactly the same experiences with Ath that you have. The only reason he thinks Ath has a "big heart" is because they nominally (Keyword: in name only) agree on the issue of religion and so he feels some loyalty out of pure selfish and personal bias. I would advise you not to give credit where credit isn't due: I've learned in the last year that this only promotes ignorant loudmouthing. SpecPal: I'll write a report on Greece this week when I have some free time. I'm sure Ath would appreciate it.
  12. Also, you know what's hilarious? He disclaimed that he resized the image to 95%, and gave instructions for how to resize it and get that extra 5%. Haha, what? The extra 5% matters? I think it's hilarious that he actually thinks there are people so dedicated to his cause that they'd be upset if they didn't know how to get the extra 10 by 7 pixels out of that image.
  13. So, a mod had a list of reasonable requests, you ignored them, and then re-posted the same material in defiance of both his and Gob's instructions? I don't need to post under the color of authority to tell you that that's probably going to get you banned. Why are you so dense? I mean, seriously, what is it with you? You could post your insane ramblings, I guess, if you obeyed forum conventions, but you don't! You can't cry foul when you're actually in the wrong. That's a fundamental truth that this forum has forgetten in recent years. Also, no one PMmed you about not being able to post in the other insane thread you started. I'm the only one posting. And that's to tell you that you're wrong and even if you weren't, no one cares.
  14. The only final countdown here is the final countdown to you getting yourself banned, little cowboy.
  15. It's nice to see that you're not scared of PRP anymore, ath. All that bluster about not posting really just bluster, huh? No, but for once, I kind of agree with you. Saudi Arabia is an extremely repressive regime that sanctions unconscionable things. I'm not just talking about a lack of democracy; I'm talking about a basic lack of respect for human rights. But that doesn't mean I'm going to commit the ultimate sin of speaking for God and cowardly imply that they will be "destroyed" or... something. Or say that it isn't "their" country which I find vaguely discriminatory and entirely revolting. I leave that to you folk.
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