Archive for January, 2011

Black Swan

January 30, 2011

I watched the Black Swan yesterday and I really enjoyed Aronofsky’s direction as well as Portman’s great performance. I understand  though some ballet critics and dancers who claim that we need to see Natali Portman as an actress and not as a ballet dancer. What attracted my interest was the interplay between the  eternal duality: the good and the bad, the white and black, the total absence of any in-between state. The roles of Odette and Odile (the white and black swans in the Swan Lake) reflect the great differences between Me and me, where me becomes the antithesis of Me. The eternal struggle between the good self and the bad self that leads inevitably to an endless imperfect effort for perfection.

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Hungary and democracy

January 30, 2011

Since 1st January 2011 Hungary holds the presidency of the European Union for 6 months. Hungary is supposed to be the model member state and promote the image of the EU as a whole. In December 2010 the government passed a new media legislation that places print, broadcast and online media under the supervision of a new authority powerful to impose fines for violating ‘public interest, public morals or order’ .

Is the freedom of speech likely to become a victim? Let’s hope that the new implementations will be watched closely by Brussels and that we will not talk about traumatized liberal values in an EU country that is supposed to lead the way for six months….

 

(Re)order Marxism

January 30, 2011

In these days that we certainly have moved ‘from the triumph of global capitalism to its crisis in barely a decade’, I am so looking forward to reading the book I just ordered: How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism by Eric Hobsbawn. Does he make a case for the need to read or re-read Karl Marx now? Let’s see……

The Greek tawrith

January 30, 2011

In the FT on Thursday, 27th January:

The rallies in the streets of Cairo this week did not only aim at the end of the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, but the target was also the president in-waiting, his son Gamal‘.

For Egyptians, and many Arabs across the region, the trend towards tawrith – inherited rule – has long been considered the ultimate insult for societies aspiring to greater freedom‘.

And let’s travel a bit towards the North, not far from Egypt: what about the Greek tawrith? Just take a look on the names of the Prime Ministers in Greece, their family connections, their political backgrounds. A great example of hereditary democracy! The same names the same families for years! The tawrith is not only applied on the Arab nations and politics, it is actually what rules Greek politics for years.

 

Thinking or Doing?

January 29, 2011

Gideon Rachman asks in the FT of 25th January: ‘Where have all the thinkers gone?’

He is making an interesting discovery on the basis of this year’s list of the Foreign Policy magazine re the ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers‘  (of 2010).

He notices that the top ten in the list are quite more famous as doers (rather than thinkers).

‘…The 1861 rankings could have startd with Charles Darwin and John Stuart Mill….then you could include Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. And that was just the people living in and around London. In Russia, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were both at work, although neither had yet published their greatest novels….’

After naming a few reasons that may account for the above difference between the thinkers of the past century and the doers of our days he concludes:

‘ ….there is a final possibility. That, for all its wealth and its gadgets, our generation is not quite as smart as it thinks it is’.

 

Probably Gideon Rachman is right. Probably we are less smart despite the tools we use to ‘make’ us smarter (i.e. smartphones?). Or, it is probably our epoch that requires us doing rather than thinking. If thinking is not reflected upon doing then what difference can it make? And, I believe, ‘doing’ has a taste, while ‘thinking’ may be just a nostalgia of a possible ‘doing’…..

 

Hyper time, hyper activities

January 29, 2011

Tim Weber reports from the recent World Economic Forum at Davos upon the high usage of smart phones during the Davos’ sessions. The Hyper-connectivity is an undoubted reality and the question is how people will be able to deal with myriads of info and their great challenges.

‘….in nearly every session at least a dozen participants surreptitiously or openly use their smartphones, laptops or tablets…’

The report also sets the question whether the learning process requires full devotion to the subject studied, full concentration and uninterrupted mind-organisation. I still remember my father being bothered by my brother any time the latest was reading a book or doing his homework by listening to the radio at the same time.  ‘You cant’ do that …’ my father used to say…’…you have to do either the one or the other…’. What my father would actually say now when reading a newspaper, tweeting and checking your inbox can be activities that can take place almost synchronously?? The era of Hyper-time has come!

 

 

Dear Egyptian government…

January 29, 2011

One of the main topics that attracted this week’s interest is the protest in Egypt against President Mubarak that followed similar protests in Tunisia. The fear for a domino effect in Middle East is not an unrealistic one. But, it seems that the new victim of those protests is the Internet connection, the ability of the people to be connected and to use the social media-necessary tools for the organization and mobilization of their actions.

The Net activities in Egypt started to be very problematic since last Tuesday with Facebook and Twitter and further mobile services non responsive, and the users in an effort to discover alternative connection mechanisms. Needless to say,  that the official government denied any responsibility at the very beginning.

Governments that claim that they promote free speech should know that nowadays by ‘free speech’ we mean ‘ being, talking, and acting online‘. Cutting down the online services is not about restoring order in a violent crackdown. The more immediate the response of a government re cutting down online services the higher the chance to be called authoritarian.

Dear governments: On line means also In line (with the contract signed between you and the people).

A New Year full of promises?

January 29, 2011

A wish for 2011: Promising blogs, interesting comments, world events that welcome interpretation but trigger smiles, happiness and satisfaction. Health, Happiness and Love + Action for the Humanity.