Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

What the EU’s “austerity” for Greece has really meant

Let’s talk about what the EU’s “austerity” for Greece has really meant.

There have been a series of loans from international and national institutions to cover liabilities of those who would be hurt by a default on Greek bonds. It hasn’t reduced Greece’s debt or improved its balance of payments. Coupled with the imposed cuts in benefits and increase in taxes in Greece, rather than encouraging growth, the German Empire, oh excuse me, rather, EU, has forced the collapse of the Greek economy as a way of imposing collective punishment on the people of Greece, while shifting the burden of a Greek default from private investors to EU taxpayers.

Copyright © 2015 Henry Edward Hardy

7 July, 2015 Posted by | capitalism, EU, Germany, Greece, politics, scanlyze | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hypocrite much, Germany?

It is myopic for the Germans to be so harsh and moralistic about the impeding Greek default. Germany, who benefited from the Marshall Plan and the 1953 forgiveness of half of their war debt of 31 billion (1953) Deutschmarks debt via the London Debt Agreement, should know the benefits of debt forgiveness and reconstruction over the long term. Greece was one of the creditor countries which forgave half of Germany’s enormous postwar debt, and let them pay the remainder over time such that the final payment of 69 million euros wasn’t made until 2010.

Hypocrite much, Germany?

London Agreement on German External Debts (wikipedia)

Copyright © 2015 Henry Edward Hardy

7 July, 2015 Posted by | debt, Germany, Greece, hypocrite, Marshall Plan, reconstruction, scanlyze | , , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t see the problem with a Greek default

I don’t see the problem with a Greek default, return to the drachma, devaluation, and reconstruction. The default means some big hedge fund folks will lose billions. Cry me a river. C’est la guerre.

Russia defaulted in 1998, and it is getting near default conditions now due to western sanctions.

Argentina defaulted in 2002, but now has brought 93 percent of the defaulted bonds out of default in the 2010 debt restructuring.

Cyprus defaulted on sovereign bonds in 2013.

A small country like Greece defaulting shouldn’t be a problem for the world community. It will be painful enough for Greece without deliberately trying to undermine the left-wing and technocratic and intellectually competent government or to punish the people as a whole for their democratic vote.

As a younger nation, the USA suffered repeated economic collapses and national bank failures. The Panic of 1819. The Panic of 1837 and the collapse of the Second Bank of the United States. The Panic of 1873. The Panic of 1907. The collapse of the Bank of the United States (a private bank) in 1931 which started the Great Depression. Please some lessons learned people. This isn’t something which never happened before and means the Greeks have to be ostracized. The market will punish them for a default. Unless and until they redeem the defaulted bonds, Greece will pay a premium on any future debt it issues.

If the capitalist leaders actually understood and believed in liberal capitalism they would let things take their course and let those who made bad investments eat the losses. And if they were wise social democrats the would make a safety net to bring Greece back to full employment and a favorable balance of trade and payments. What we are seeing from the EU and the international bodies is more akin to mercantilism.

Trying to force a Greek collapse to punish them for defaulting on some bonds is quite stupid and petty. And did the walruses of the right really see off Yanis Varoufakis because he was way cooler then them, actually understood economics, and said snarky meanspirited things about them? Boo hoo.

Copyright © 2015 Henry Edward Hardy

7 July, 2015 Posted by | capitalism, default, Greece, panic, scanlyze, Varoufakis | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the TV show Vikings

Vikings is the tale of the semi-historical Ragnarr Loðbrók and two of his wives, Lagertha and Aslaug, and their children, Bjorn Ironside, Ivar the Boneless, Hafdan Whitecoat, Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye and Ubba.
Ragnar is a wealthy farmer at the start of the show. He is a clever and brutal warrior, a combat pragmatist. But he is more, a visionary, a charismatic leader, intellectually curious, a technological innovator, shrewd judge of character, and a Machiavellian magnificent bastard of the first degree.
The show exists in a kind of magical realism where magic is believed in but whether it is ‘real’ is always up to the eye of the beholder.
The show is well grounded in the Norse culture and presents a lot of values dissidence through the vehicle of Æthelstan, a monk from Lindessfarne who Ragnarr makes captive during the first Viking raid on England.
The sets and costumes are reasonably accurate. In order to be more identifiable on the battlefield to the viewer, nobody wears helms in battle, which given the number of head wounds suffered is obviously quite stupid in-world. The depiction of viking and Anglo-Saxon and Frankish tactics is quite good.
They make hash of the topography. They have fjords in Kattegat, they have mountains by Uppsala, they have people crossing from Denmark to Sweden dryshod on land.
And being the we-used-to-be-a-history channel, they make hash of the history. For instance, Ragnarr did not succeed Horik I and king of Denmark, his son Horik II did.
The ships and houses and costumes are very nicely done and era-appropriate generally.
I’m curious to see if Rurik and Dyre will come in season 4 as the viking (varangian) founders of modern Russia were contemporaries of Ragnarr and his sons. Dyre’s companion Askold was the son of Hafdan Hvitsark Ragnarrson and thus grandson of Ragnarr and Aslaug and thus Ragnarr’s grandson.
Someone above scoffed at ‘conquering a new land with 30 guys’ well yes they didn’t have thousands of extras on set. But dark ages battles did not involve thousands of people either. The Great Heathen army of Ragnarr’s sons invaded and conquered most of England, the Isles, and northern Ireland with according to some scholars, less than a thousand men. Although Crusader Kings II gives them 15,000.
The show is very violent. It is about the events leading up to the Great Heathen Army which led the Christians of Europe to make special prayers for protection from them such as:
Pity [us] the highest favor by preserving and guarding our bodies, free us from the savage Norman tribe who devastates our realms.
They aged and young would have their throats slit, and maidens and lads too, and the multitudes also. Repel the evil from us, we altogether implore [thee]. Bring thee the ruling realm, we plead on our knees, to the king of glory, who pity us with true peace, soundness, hopes and strength. Give us peace and harmony. Bestow us unmitigated hope, genuine faith also; concede us continual charity and let completed be. Sanctify our prayers that we be availed in achieving this, that we be rejoiced in glorious measure. Praise be peace and glory, to the Trinity who [is] wholly most-magnificent for the people. Amen
–Charles the Bald
870
I give Vikings high marks for:
Music
Choreography
Values-neutral presentation of medieval Christianity vs Norse paganism. They are all anti-heroes at best except the Anglo-Saxon monk Aethelstan who is a viewer reference in that he is moral and isn’t murderous, Machiavellian, or batshit crazy. Well, he is Machiavellian, actually.
Acting, especially Travis Fimmel as the snarky, reserved, observant, calculating and ruthless Ragnarr and Katheryn Winnick as the stalwart shield-maiden Lagertha.
World-building set design and costumes are well thought out and authentic-ish. Such as the clinker-built ships they use.
Not so good for:
History, however Ragnarr isn’t acknowledged by all historians to be a historic character, although all his sons are. How could he not be real if his sons exist?
Ragnarr and Lagertha’s and Aslaug’s stories are caught up in the great cycle of Norse myths and legends such as Aslaug/Kraka/Ranhildr is the daughter of Sigurd the dragon-slayer and the shield-maiden Brynhildr. Her early story corresponds to “Clever Peasant Girl” folk tale, Aarne-Thompson no. 875, so either it nicely fit that pattern of changed with retellings to fit it.
Nevertheless the script has Ragnarr become King of Denmark, which for sure did not happen.
Geography as mentioned. Locations have been picked for their visual appeal and way of framing establishing shots, but have nothing to do with the actual geography of the places depicted in most cases.
There’s a lot more analysis at tvtropes but better not to read it yet because spoilers.
Overall, Vikings is a great show and well-worth watching.

5 June, 2015 Posted by | history, History Channel, media, review, scanlyze, television, Vikings | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road.

Some thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road.

I’m going to assume you have either seen the movie, know the general plot, or don’t want spoilers.

I enjoyed Fury Road but I don’t think it is as good as the reviewers claim. It is a B movie and destined to forever be one of the classics of that genre. It isn’t a feminist epic, though there are some nods in that direction. It does pass the Bechdel test and with flying colors despite there being almost no dialog in it. But most every movie should do, that doesn’t make it a feminist movie. The old ladies, the Vuvalini, are just the only non-evil gang/tribe.

The dialog is weak, almost non-existent, and isn’t so interesting. I’m also not fond of the early voiceover, that’s a lazy device probably demanded by the studio who were maybe uncomfortable with the no doubt WTF reaction of some older focus groups.

Of the core group of characters, in many ways Hardy’s Max is the least interesting. I didn’t think Hardy’s performance was that great, he lacked the screen presence and manic intensity of the younger Mel Gibson. Of course here his character is supposed to start so beat down and deindividuated as to say when asked his name, “Does it matter?

Where I give the movie very high marks is for physical effects, cinematography, editing, stunt coordination, logistics, and the creation of a very strange world which approaches Alice in Wonderland in weirdness and Saving Private Ryan in nihilistic brutality. The names are nothing if not inventive, such as The Splendid Angharad, Capable, and Toast the Knowing.

The film owes something to Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin in the physical comedy and timing, and exquisite complex rube goldberg-like crashes. In a horrible way it is quite funny, like a live action Road Runner. At the same time it is as horrifying as Apocalypse Now. The lady next to me spent most of the movie with both hands palms pressed to her cheeks in the classic look of horror. Her mouth was in a little “o” as in OMG what am I seeing? But, she didn’t look unhappy.

The long shots of broad desert landscapes are awe-inspiring and make Fury Road a modern “Lawrence of Arabia.”

It wouldn’t be wrong to say this is like a stagecoach western on acid, where the stagecoach tuns into a dieselpunk battlewagon with two small cars welded on the top for turrets, the pursuing outlaws turn into radioactive mutants in monster trucks, the hostile tribes turn into jawas in porcupine like cars and a explosive-spear-chucking 100 mile-per-hour cirque du soleil respectively, and the cavalry turns into rifle-toting old ladies on motorcycles.

If you go expecting another Mad Max movie you won’t be disappointed and you might be pleasantly surprised. Otherwise if you go in cold, hold onto your hat, or in the case of my seat neighbor, your face.

Copyright © 2015 Henry Edward Hardy

20 May, 2015 Posted by | analysis, B movie, brutality, Fury Road, Mad Max, media, movie, review, scanlyze | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.