Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for the ‘rants’ Category

Racism returns to the European mainstream

Posted by Andy Hockley on 11 July, 2008

What the hell is going on in Italy? Berlusconi is using his first weeks in power not only to evade prosecution in all the corruption trials he’s up against, but he and his government seem hell-bent on returning the country to the days of Mussolini.

Recently, for example,

Italy’s highest appeal court ruled that it was acceptable to discriminate against Roma on the grounds that “all Gypsies were thieves”

(taken from this article)

I mean…christ on a bike, this is fucking appalling (I hope you’ll excuse the language, but when talking about acts as repulsive and racist as those which the Italian government is currently engaged in and engaged in supporting, strong language is unavoidable)

When an angry mob went on the rampage and burnt down a Rroma slum, the government’s response was… to praise them.

This is a country in Western Europe. In the G8. in 2008. And it is being run by a bunch of vile extremist throwback bigots and no-one is saying or doing a thing about it. It’s appalling.

The EU prides itself (with no little justification) on helping to rebuild a Europe shattered by war and fascism, and to ensuring that the conflicts of the past could never happen again. Yet it sits idly by while one of its core members returns to the 1930s.

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Posted in EU, politics, rants | 1 Comment »

Zero Summit Game

Posted by Andy Hockley on 2 April, 2008

Bucharest is being flooded with loads of violent, aggressive and corrupt criminals. Any sane immigration policy would have kept these people out of the country and turned them back at the airport, but Romania instead is welcoming them and even cleaning up the city before them to make their stay a happier one. “How many deaths are you responsible for, sir? Certainly, of course you may come in”

I’m talking of course of the various world leaders converging on Ceausescu’s delightful Palace of the People to talk about expanding NATO or not expanding it or (in the case of Greece) to once again get pissed off about Macedonia being called Macedonia. Bush, Brown, Sarkozy, Putin. They’re all here (I think Putin isn’t here yet, but he’s on his way).

In order to welcome these people (and I use the word reluctantly) the city has been tarted up a bit (new pavements have been laid, stuff has been painted, and the stray dogs have been … well, I’m not sure what has happened to the stray dogs, have they been rounded up, shot, shipped off to somewhere else in Romania, painted a more pleasing colour? It’s not clear to me). Roads have been closed all over the city – even to pedestrians, and schools and various organisations have been given the week off, so that the children and employees don’t upset Laura Bush by being dressed better than her. One of the airports has been closed so that all the fancy aeroplanes can park there for the week, while the other one just has fewer flights, and heavy security. I think if I lived in Bucharest I’d be tempted to go out and demonstrate against all this stuff even if I didn’t have any axe to grind with NATO.

Maybe they’ll organise a trip for the assembled dignitaries to the airport at Constanta which was used as an impromptu torture camp by the US and its allies in its euphemistically named “extraordinary rendition programme”. Allegedly.

Posted in rants, romania | 7 Comments »

Another oenophile terrorist thwarted

Posted by Andy Hockley on 1 November, 2007

Something odd happened to me yesterday. Well, I say odd, but I am using the word highly euphemistically for “really really fucking annoying”.

I was flying home from Malta (of which brief impressions will follow), and having not had a moment to do any shopping while there, I bought a couple of gifts at the airport (which also had the added benefit of using up my remaining Maltese coinage). A couple of books for Paula, a toy for Bogi, and a nice bottle of Maltese wine for me and Erika to enjoy. I then boarded my plane to Frankfurt (yes, the route from Malta to Bucharest was via Frankfurt, which is a bit off course to be honest, but since I once flew from Bucharest to Kiev via Amsterdam, it didn’t feel that excessive).

In Frankfurt, I had a couple of hours to kill, and so wandered round the bit of the terminal that I was confined to for a while before sitting down to enjoy a delicious weissbier. I thought about seeing if I could find something more to do in an area of the airport outside Terminal 1B, but realised that I wouldn’t be able to come back through the security line with a bottle of wine in my bag, given the current War on Liquids (TM). So, having consumed my tasty cloudy beverage I headed down to the gate for Bucharest. This is where things started to go wrong. Although I was in the same bit of the airport in which I had arrived (what I took to be the internal EU terminal) there, just for gate 56, was a security check. I knew there would be trouble. Each person I spoke too looked sadly at me as I explained that I had bought the wine in Malta airport and hadn’t been anywhere outside any security zone since, but it was clear I was fighting a losing battle. I was eventually bumped up to the head honcho on duty who patiently explained again that I couldn’t keep the wine. I, in turn, patiently explained for the 5th time that I had bought the wine in the airport and that I was (after all) travelling within the EU, but he wouldn’t be budged. Even when I managed to locate the receipt which stated clearly the time, date, and location where the wine had been bought it was still not possible. I asked him why it was that there was a security check at this particular gate, and how one could possibly buy wine in the aiprort and not have it brutally stolen from one by officious jobsworth anti-terrorism consultants. He was unable to answer either question. In the end, resigned to losing my wine, I told him to please take it home and drink it since somebody at least would get the benefit from it. He told me that too was against the rules, and it would have to be thrown away. What a ridiculous mad fucking waste. It wasn’t especially expensive, but it’s just the principle of the thing. The really upsetting thing was that I had even considered this anti-liquidist policy when I purchased it but reasoned that it couldn’t possibly be a problem.

Anyway, I am left with two questions:

1. Why, in the EU bit of Frankfurt airport, is the only gate which has a security gate that which is being used for a flight to Bucharest? Romania is, after all, just as much an EU country as Germany, and ought not to be discriminated against. It is clear that they always put the Bucharest flight through this system, since my gate had been told to me when I’d checked in – in Malta about 7 hours before the Frankfurt – Bucharest flight took off – and nothing had been changed. I am, to say the least, suspicious of the reasons.
2. Why, despite all the evidence that seems to be out there suggesting that constructing a bomb on a plane using liquids mixed together in the bogs is utterly impossible, is there still this stupid War on Liquids? Is it (a) because the powers that be want to make sure we go through life living in fear, looking nervously over our shoulders at people swigging from a bottle of water or carrying some shower gel?; or (b) because the people who own the retail outlets in airport terminals who are raking in the cash from the sales of overpriced water and other beverages are onto a nice little earner and have successfully lobbied for this rule not to be rescinded? I can see no other possibility bar these two.

“Odd” indeed.

Posted in rants, travel | 12 Comments »

1.4 Million

Posted by Andy Hockley on 20 June, 2007

There are, it seems, 1.4 million expendable people living in Gaza. 1.4 million people who have for decades lived in unimaginable hardship and overcrowding, constantly in fear for their lives, invaded and attacked regularly by the often brutal IDF. 1.4 million people who have for the most part borne their suffering with stoicism and occasional flashes of hope. 1.4 million people who have, mostly, remained united in suffering and in common cause against the vile occupation which has held them in this state of ghetto-like purgatory, and who have remained mostly unviolent against its perpetrators (though obviously not all of them). 1.4 million people who since the Palestinian elections have found themselves attacked by the West (through sanctions) for daring to elect the wrong people. 1.4 million people who no longer only have to fear Israeli bullets and cluster bombs, but now have to fear starvation and disease, just for participating in a democracy (which is what we say we want them to do all the time). 1.4 million people who, if all of that weren’t enough now find themselves in the midst of a civil war, as finally the pressure builds up enough to shatter the unity. 1.4 million people who, as a result of that civil war, look likely to find themselves living in some kind of fundamentalist Islamic statelet. 1.4 million people who because of that are now threatened with being cut off even more, and left to fend for themselves in what increasingly looks like an utter hell hole – no food, little water, no money, no fuel, before long no electricity.

What have these 1.4 million people done to deserve this?

(Though, oddly, it now seems – if Condoleeza Rice’s speech the other day is to be believed – that in fact we can find a way to deliver aid and supplies to the ordinary people of Gaza through the UNRWA while bypassing Hamas. Now if we can do that when Hamas are in total control, why the fuck couldn’t we do it before? Is it maybe, because we were hoping to provoke this war and make this happen? Is there any politician anywhere in the Western world who gives even the slightest shit about the lives of innocent Arab civilians?)

Meanwhile, a better expressed article than I could muster from Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian and another good one in Ha’aretz.

Posted in politics, rants | Leave a Comment »

S-i-z-e of a toddler

Posted by Andy Hockley on 8 June, 2007

(title to be read in the voice of the bloke on the cartoon in the Banana Splits. If you don’t get this reference, don’t worry, that’s a good thing)

I was briefly in the UK last week, and while there I decided to pick up a few clothes for Paula (they are seemingly both cheaper and better quality than the stuff you can get here). However, on returning I have come to the conclusion that toddlers in the UK are huge mutants. Paula is more or less 18 months old, and knowing, as I already did, that the sizes there are massively overstated (or that there is this aforementioned race of giant toddlers crushing rusks in their bare hands, and stamping all over cars) I elected not to buy clothes that were advertised as being suitable for “18-24 months”, and instead got some that were quoted at 12-18 months, reasoning that she might be at the lower end of that inflated scale by now. But no, they are still way, way too big for her. She’ll probably fit into them by the time she reaches about eleven (at which time little body-suit things may even be fashionable for the pre-pubescent girl). And she’s not that small.

Perhaps the UK, being that bastion of progressiveness that we know it to be, has actually, unbeknownst to me, altered its measurement system of time. Perhaps a British month is now actually made up of 64 32-hour days or something. Why do all measurements there have to be different? Why can’t we, as a people, get over this clinging to the past, and get on with things? It must cost everybody a fortune to constantly have to provide conversions everywhere.

I acquired a new nephew this week and on being told of his birth had to convert his weight into a standard one in order to tell people how big he was (he checked in, prematurely, at “5 lbs 14 oz”, which, in normal language, is 2.7kgs give or take a few grams). Anyway, welcome, Henry. This may be your first internet mention. I hope one day you, too, will not understand “imperial” measurements.

Then, I was at a shoe shop with my other nephew and was asked what size Paula’s feet were. “20 or 21” I replied confidently. “What’s that in English measurements”, I was asked (I had no idea, and still don’t)

And another (entirely unconnected) thing – the trouser press. What’s up with that? In hotel rooms in Britain you nearly always find a trouser press. But nowhere else – I’ve never heard of anyone actually owning one privately, or ever seen them on sale anywhere. So why is it de-rigeur for hotels in the UK to have one in every room? And, for that matter, what is a trouser press anyway? It’s like a very very big iron for lazy people. I tried to use one once, in the name of research, and it was really useless. An iron would have much easier. And more flexible because you do other stuff like shirts and that in them. But no, somewhere in history, someone decided that the trouser press is the way to go for hotels.

I feel better now I’ve got all that off my chest.

Posted in rants, uk | 1 Comment »

Someday a real rain will come

Posted by Andy Hockley on 7 May, 2007

So, the title of most famous living Hungarian, vacant since Puskas died last year, has now been won by Nicolas Sarkozy. I know that Sarkozy is Hungarian in name only (and even that should really be Sárközy), but since he thinks of immigrants as scum I think one should constantly remind him that he is one himself (even if he was the son of an aristocrat, and not some poor marginalised Algerian in the banlieues). Though I can’t help thinking that before long, there won’t be a Hungarian in the world who wants to be linked in any way to him. He promises to make the Bush presidency look like a model of enlightened decency and respect for human and civil rights.

While we’re on the subject, how come much of the English language press refers to him as “centre right”? I know the centre has moved to the right, but surely not as much as to allow some hard-line right winger who actively courts Le Pen’s supporters and openly wishes that the immigrant scum be washed off the streets of Paris with a high pressure hose to be considered “centre right”? He’s a French Travis Bickle. Except rather than trying to kill the president he tried to be one – and succeeded.

Posted in rants | 8 Comments »

Someday a real rain will come

Posted by Andy Hockley on 7 May, 2007

So, the title of most famous living Hungarian, vacant since Puskas died last year, has now been won by Nicolas Sarkozy. I know that Sarkozy is Hungarian in name only (and even that should really be Sárközy), but since he thinks of immigrants as scum I think one should constantly remind him that he is one himself (even if he was the son of an aristocrat, and not some poor marginalised Algerian in the banlieues). Though I can’t help thinking that before long, there won’t be a Hungarian in the world who wants to be linked in any way to him. He promises to make the Bush presidency look like a model of enlightened decency and respect for human and civil rights.

While we’re on the subject, how come much of the English language press refers to him as “centre right”? I know the centre has moved to the right, but surely not as much as to allow some hard-line right winger who actively courts Le Pen’s supporters and openly wishes that the immigrant scum be washed off the streets of Paris with a high pressure hose to be considered “centre right”? He’s a French Travis Bickle. Except rather than trying to kill the president he tried to be one – and succeeded.

Posted in rants | 8 Comments »

What’s the point?

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 January, 2007

So, let me get this straight. The White House commisions an extensive report into what should be done about the mess in Iraq. After months of exhaustive work, eagerly awaited by everyone, the Baker Hamilton report is delivered. It’s principle conclusion is that in order to stabilise Iraq, the US needs to build bridges and mend fences with the Arab/Islamic world, in order to, in particular, involve Iran and Syria in supporting the new Iraqi government.

In response to this, Bush threatens Iran and Syria with military attack, and then authorises the storming of an Iranian consulate in Iraq.

It’s mind-boggling.

What’s the betting that the Democrats and that waste-of-oxygen Blair fall into line behind the plan?

Posted in rants | 5 Comments »

What’s the point?

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 January, 2007

So, let me get this straight. The White House commisions an extensive report into what should be done about the mess in Iraq. After months of exhaustive work, eagerly awaited by everyone, the Baker Hamilton report is delivered. It’s principle conclusion is that in order to stabilise Iraq, the US needs to build bridges and mend fences with the Arab/Islamic world, in order to, in particular, involve Iran and Syria in supporting the new Iraqi government.

In response to this, Bush threatens Iran and Syria with military attack, and then authorises the storming of an Iranian consulate in Iraq.

It’s mind-boggling.

What’s the betting that the Democrats and that waste-of-oxygen Blair fall into line behind the plan?

Posted in rants | 5 Comments »

Campaign

Posted by Andy Hockley on 4 January, 2007

I wish to campaign for an end to PDF links on the Internet. Or at least that all PDF links should be clearly marked as such so that you don’t have to open them. Adobe Acrobat is such a bloody temperamental programme that seems to freeze up the computer in one of every 4 tries. As you may have guessed I’ve just lost a long blog post that I was in the middle of when I inadvertently opened a PDF file in another window. I hate it. Stupid bloody programme. Christ I’m furious.

I’ve discovered that “PDF” stands for “Portable Document Format”. That’s to distinguish PDF documents from all those other non-portable documents. Like stuff carved into rocks 4000 years ago, then. Another reason to hate it – a stupid “branded” name that essentially means nothing.

Posted in rants | 2 Comments »