Crisis in Greece
GREECE teeters on the brink. This ancient cradle of democracy is on the skids. Where to now for the European Union? It seems Greece's entry to the Eurozone – the common currency – was based all along on a financial fiddle.
On TV the other night there seemed something terribly incongruous as Greek Minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos pleaded in parliament for acceptance of his austerity measures. Venizelos is one of the most stupendously fat politicians I have ever seen. He makes our fellows look positively twig-like. A belt-tightening speech from a man of his bulk seems bizarre.
But something positive could come out of it. Venizelos could be used like one of those "before and after" ads when a whale in a one-piece bathing suit becomes a dishy doll in a bikini after so many weeks on the slimming course. He could be wheeled out regularly to prove to the populace – the demos – that he is swallowing his own prescription for the country of austerity, cutting down on the lunches and dinners and elevenses; using the treadmill.
Perhaps Athens can in this way teach us something once again about elected and accountable democracy. Can Venizelos slim down?
Frontiers of science
PHYSICISTS at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland think (fear might be a better word) they have disproved Einstein's Theory of Relativity. This holds that nothing can exceed the speed of light.
Yet their laboratory appears to have clocked neutrinos travelling fast enough to shatter this central pillar of physics. But they cannot quite believe it themselves, they say, because according to Einstein's famous 1905 equation, E=mc2, it is simply impossible.
"The feeling that most people have is this can't be right, this can't be real," says James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN. He says the readings have so astounded researchers that they are asking others to independently verify the measurements before claiming an actual discovery. "It's a shock. It's going to cause us problems, no doubt about that - if it's true."
How tentative can you get? Yet one appreciates the unease. Once an unravelling starts you never know where it's going to end. Isaac Newton was quite wrong about that apple that landed on his head. Galileo was deluded about the earth orbiting the sun. In fact, Oom Paul and the flat-earthers had it right all along.
All this is beyond me, I'm afraid - neutrinos (whatever they might be) whizzing about in colliders, whatever they might be. It's difficult enough getting to grips with this question of how many angels can balance on the point of a needle.
READER Hannah Lurie asks how on earth the French could have been expected to beat the All Blacks when they were wearing white jerseys?
"They are known as Les Bleues - The Blues. Isn't this asking for trouble?"
I know, Hannah, it's perverse. England are sometimes playing in black jerseys instead of white. Except these days it's for some reason known as a "strip", not a jersey.
You can understand if the Boks are playing Ireland, with their almost matching shades of green, or if the Scots are playing France, both with blue as their national colour.
But the game is full of perversity these days. Look at the way they've changed the playing colours (not to mention names) in the Super 15. It's the Ponytails. I think they nurse a secret hatred of rugby and its traditions.
Apart from that ...
NEWS from Zimbabwe. Four men were apprehended by police in Harare. The police forgot to handcuff their captives and left them unattended in a police car whose engine was running, while they chased after another suspect. The four in the car put it in gear and drove off, chased by the police in a second car which then ran out of fuel. The fugitives got away.
The government-supporting Herald newspaper described the escape as "the conclusion of an otherwise highly-successful police operation."
A CUSTOMER goes into a pub and stares with astonishment. A horse is behind the bar serving drinks.
Horse: "What are you staring at? Have you never seen a horse serving drinks?"
Customer: "It's not that. It's just I never thought the parrot would sell the place."
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.