Σάββατο, 10 Μαΐου 2008

Confused…?


German flag


Belgian flag


You are probably far removed from such concerns, especially in faraway L.A., so you most likely had no idea that the Greek government recently agreed to privatize the national phone company, OTE, by selling it to a German company. (Or selling parts of it while retaining some of it - I'm not quite sure.)

Anyway, this has caused a general furore here, since the Greeks are convinced this will mean huge increases in prizes, disruptions in services (even though more or less everyone agrees that the Germans are light years more organized than the Greeks), and basically the end of the universe as Greeks know it. Plus there is of course a huge national identity/pride issue at stake.

So what do the Greeks do? Apart from the usual complaining on every TV channel/"news" report etc., the general doomsday predictions in every newspaper and the students demonstrating and closing down the universities/destroying the dearly bought computers/equipment that is there for their own education…?

Why, they burn flags, of course! Because that's one big thing the average Greek has in common with the average American: burning a flag is considered sacrilegious and possibly deserving of death.

So some guys, feeling particularly smart/brave/justified, no doubt, grabbed a German flag and publicly BURNED it… Except they got it wrong. They didn't quite check their facts and actually burned a Belgian flag, which, OK, I'll admit, looks rather like a German flag on its side.

Now, this is something I would expect the average American to do. (Sorry, but you've got to admit it's true.) But the Greeks have been in the European Union (with the Germans AND the Belgians) since 1981, and should by now have learnt to differentiate between their respective flags.

Luckily for us, most other countries do not feel as strongly about flag burning, and do not feel the need to shoot someone in retaliation. Instead, the Belgian news showed the incident, while the amused presenter jokingly thanked the Greeks… in Greek.

Possibly because burning the wrong flag did not insure the results they hoped for, the Greeks have now reverted to their favorite strategy and have started yet another strike: gas stations. Since yesterday, one cannot buy gas anywhere in the city, apparently.

I was unaware of that, and now only have 1/2 a tank full. When will the gas stations reopen, I asked? Why did I bother to ask? No one knows, of course. This will no doubt provide interesting developments, as the work week arrives and gradually less people will show up at their office, being unable to get there… Good for the economy, no doubt. Seriously. The coffee shop economy, I mean. Because you know that's where the Greeks will spend their time, given half a chance.
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SOME FEEDBACK ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER:
Mikky J:
Come on. Realistically, what could the Belgians do, anyway--sic their Smurfs on you?
Marc O:
Quelle belle histoire ! Et dire que je l'avais ratée ! Ca s'est passé quand ? Je crois que je vais en parler dans mon billet du Vif de la semaine, je cherchais justement une idée...

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