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Thursday, 11 February 2016 17:30

A Low-Cost Trip to Europe.

 
006 LESVOS 1445771
Photo courtesy of Rosa Vroom

Old woman walks next to a closed road. Behind the scene a truck is collecting lifejackets left on the shore.

It's Christmas in Lesvos, а Greek island 9 kilometers off the Turkish coast. It's too cold to stay outside. The sea is quiet. Not many boats are expected, but volunteers keep their walkie-talkies on. The tent of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is active, the lighthouse illuminates the coast and at the dirt road surrounding Eftalou beaches there are two American volunteers stopping the cars: 'Volunteers of Lesvos, Welcome to Christmas Eve Services!'

Since Lesvos is part of the route of asylum seekers in Europe, thousands of volunteers have also been arriving at the Greek shores. Spanish firefighters, Israeli lifeguards, Norwegian doctors and nurses, etc., some of them under the umbrella of an NGO, others on their own. Organising themselves just by arrival order, their aid has been providing materials needed for the rescue along the beaches of the North and South of the island. Among these materials, aluminium foil and piles of firewood to beat the cold of the migrants that have just arrived.

Published in Sixth Sense
Friday, 11 September 2015 09:08

Greece walking the tight-rope

VignettaGrecia Alice
Cartoon by Alice Baruffato

This month Alice Baruffato continues her series of cartoons for E&M and focuses on the hot topic that is the Greek crisis. With the sweeping "no" in the Greek referendum regarding the EU austerity measures leading to the resignation of minister of finance Yanis Varoufakis and eventually also of prime minister Alexis Tsipras, Greece's instability was a concern for the whole of Europe. Greece's future seems wholly unpredictable; the first female prime minister for Greece, Vassiliki Thanou, will head the caretaker government until the elections, but will she help Greece cross the tight-rope and reach the financial and political stability it so longs for?

Published in Beyond Europe
eurocrisis
Photo courtesy of doppeldenk-spiele

Still can't get enough of European austerity politics? Not afraid of a delicate financial situation in your own living room? Then, "€uro Crisis" might be just the right board game for you! In the wake of the latest Greek crisis, the spotlight has once again been cast on the European financial crisis. E&M author Julia Schulte shares her experience in playing the recently developed board game "€uro Crisis" and explores how it depicts these troubled times. 

I just bought the Spanish national football team at a give-away price. When the government had to privatise some of their most valuable possessions, my bank struck gold. Simon has a good run, too: as a major bonds holder of a highly indebted Ireland, his bank expects a nice dividend at the end of the year – unless I stop it.

I rearrange my tokens and think about which card to play next. This is by far the happiest I have ever been about the financial crisis. Simon smiles. He is one of a group of five students who developed "€uro Crisis", the board game which sometimes is so painfully close to reality that it leaves the winner with an uneasy feeling. Still, a lot of people seem eager to gain the title "Best Euro Crisis Gambling Bank". A crowd funding campaign to produce the game on a larger scale finished on 19 July, and provided the five of them with over 15,800 € – a lot more than the necessary 13,400 €, a goal they had already reached six days before the campaign’s official ending.

Published in Sixth Sense
Ancient Greece
Photo: GothPhil (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another week, another selection of journalistic gems, compiled by one of E&M's editors: Frances Jackson on a modern use for ancient philosophy, remembering Srebrenica and a couple of disconcerting developments in Russia.

Frances, Diaphragm / Baby editor

8frances

A word of advice from the ancients

In the run-up to last Sunday’s unprecedented referendum, much was written about the future of Greece, not all of it, I fear, especially helpful. One article, however, that seemed to buck the trend was William Irvine’s piece for the BBC on Stoicism and its applicability to the current situation.

Reminding us that the word crisis comes from the Ancient Greek for "decide" (a point that was incidentally also made by German polymath Joseph Vogl at a discussion I went to last week in Munich), Irvine disabuses his readers of the misconception that the Stoic approach is merely that of the stiff upper lip and highlights instead its inherently practical, vigorous nature even.

Though Irvine focuses on how the Greek people might achieve a degree of control over events in their country, I suspect that we could all probably benefit from the wisdom of the Stoic school of philosophy.  You never know – taking time to consider how things could be worse might actually give us some much-needed perspective on this issue and others.

Published in Good Reads
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 09:04

Good Reads 05/06/12

Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

matt

Matt, Sixth Sense Editor

Günter Grass on Israel and Europe

Famed German author Günter Grass was banned from Israel a few months ago for writing a poem which attacked both Israel's policy towards Iran and Germany's plan to sell submarines to them. 'What must be said' remains an interesting case for what "can" and "can't" but should be said about Israel, Palestine, and Iran.

You may have missed a more recent publication by Grass called "Europe's shame" in the Suddeutsche Zeitung this month. Less opaque than "What must be said", I'll leave the interpretation of the poem in your hands. Here's a short description if you don't trust google translate. Let us hope his final line does not come to pass - "You will waste away spiritlessly without the country whose spirit, Europe, conceived you."

Grexodus

Grass brings me to the Grexodus (or more commonly termed the ‘Grexit’), and the words of the Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus have increasingly resonated in my thoughts. One quote from Agamemnon in particular seems to offer some insight into the current dilemma. Between sacrificing his daughter or failing in his deep (but also beneficial) commitments, Agammemnon, the ancient king of Mycenae, faces an impossible decision, "Pain both ways and what is worse? Desert the fleets, fail the alliance?" Anyway, the play is well worth a read. Equally, Germany's early speculative alternative to the austerity package and Grexit deserves a read.

Don't know your fiscal pact from your 'big bazooka'? Read this excellent and clear article from the European Council of Foreign Relations. Then tackle 'Europe after the Crisis' (Sorry, it's behind a paywall). Any student of Europe will know the name Moravcsik. I've never been a huge fan of his, but this article is one of the best I've read on the overarching problem inherent in the Eurozone. And this approach, a restatement of causes seems to me somewhat unhelpful when trying to figure out how to save (or otherwise dismantle) the Eurozone. Surely, we're past all of that pointing of fingers? At least in approach, this article seems to get it right, and by framing the problem as Saving the Euro without losing the Europeans is much more constructive.

Published in Good Reads
Thursday, 01 March 2012 18:01

Good Reads 01/03/12

Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

juliane

Juliane, Diaphragm Editor 

HAS TECHNOLOGY FIGURED US OUT?

I love it when science and technology present easy solutions to complex problems. The notion that you can answer some of life's most troubling questions in one single sentence is deeply appealing to me. Nevertheless, when I first read about complexity scientists having explained the way culture has spread in Europe, I was somewhat... offended. For me, European culture is fascinating, interesting and compelling because it cannot be explained in one sentence. So when a bunch of complexity scientists (which, on a side note, is the coolest academic title I've come across) explain to me that the main reason, or perhaps one of the main reasons, that the democracies of ancient Greece and the Roman empire still remain the most influential and persisting cultural movement in European history is ... that Italy and Greece are located not in the centre, but on the edge of the European continent, I am quite frankly insulted. However, the possibility that they might be right is puzzling and fills me with curiosity. See if you agree here and download the whole paper here if you're interested.  

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE FILM OF THE YEAR... SORT OF

This is a movie that I'm more excited about than I care to admit. A few reasons: 1) It's just about as tacky as science fiction will ever get. Which in itself is a reason to love it. 2) It's one of the few examples of real, not just imagined, fan-funding (the movie has been planned for ages, but director Timo Vuorensola did not have the money to make it happen - until he urged people who wanted to make it happen to pitch in, actually funding enough for proper production of the whole thing). In other words, even before the first screening, the movie had a huge and loyal pool of fans, which in this day and age is quite the accomplishment. 3) The movie, which, just to be clear, is about AN INVASION OF NAZIS WHO HAVE BEEN HIDING ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON SINCE 1944, opened at the Berlin Film Festival Berlinale this year. I love it. I love what it says about Germany being able to deal with their past in, if not unproblematic ways, then at least openly and with the realisation that the past is actually in the past. 4) It's a pan-European project actually said to have a chance of being a blockbuster in the US, which always is a weird satisfaction for me. Intrigued? Read more about what is perhaps the most inappropriate, yet surely entertaining, film experience of the year here.

Published in Good Reads
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