herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Anton Savage: It's time for Tsipras and his Syriza pals to stop behaving like teenage brats

Alexis Tsiprias
Alexis Tsiprias
Britney Spears
Madonna
Miley Cyrus

Alexis Tsipras says he takes responsibility for signing a deal in which he doesn't believe. This has to be the sulkiest, mealy-mouthed sentiment ever expressed by a Prime Minister.

If you don't believe in a deal, don't accept it. It's not like he was without a mandate - the entire nation of Greece voted in a referendum to support him in telling the EU to get stuffed. Now, not only is he not delivering on that mandate, he won't even U-turn with dignity.

There is no question but that he and the Greeks are in a corner, but it is one into which Syriza wilfully painted them.

They convinced their people that they were in a negotiation and had options. They had about as many options as a crash victim has when the paramedics arrive - shut up and let them treat you, or drop dead.

For weeks they built a fiction that threatening to economically die would somehow create a third route. It couldn't and it didn't. All it did was waste time and cause further financial hardship for the Greek people.

Now, Tsipras has got a deal he knows is crappy. It's objectively crappy. Even the IMF say it's crappy (and they are not a bunch known for their empathetic left-wing tendencies). But it's all they are getting, largely because Syriza systematically burned every bridge and expended every ounce of political capital in their bizarre dance.

Tsipras' sulk is so distasteful because it fails to deliver the only two traits which could have begun to redeem his government - bravery or dignity.

Syriza should have had the courage of their convictions, refused to capitulate and started the process of moving to a Drachma, while laying out a strategic plan to make Greece a paragon of socialist virtue and a nation with a thriving economy of which every citizen could be proud (even if the short-term would be horrific).

Or, if they lacked the fortitude to go that route, then they should have accepted the help of their fellow Europeans with dignity and begun the process of winning over a community on which they opted to be utterly dependent.

Instead Tsipras took the 'I didn't ask to be born' adolescent brat approach to leadership. Accepting our money while at the same time saying that we were insufficiently generous and helpful.

This is not a criticism of his manners. It's a criticism of his logic. If you are going to take a rescue, then it is in your interest to make the nations providing that rescue believe they are doing a good thing.

It is in your interest to make them think you regard paying them back as morally correct. It is in your interest to make them want to help when you begin the inevitable process of re-negotiation.

It's counter-productive to spit in the eye of your rescuer. To quote A Few Good Men, Tsipras has chosen to rise and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom Europe provides, yet question the manner in which it provides it.

 

Dolphins are gentle and easygoing, until one head-butts you in the crotch

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Fergus Finlay’s experience at the flippers of Dusty the Dolphin should teach us all a valuable lesson about taking our lessons on from TV.

The Barnardos Ireland CEO was assaulted while swimming by Dusty, who head-butted him with some vigour in the nether regions.

The assault on Fergus’ crotch was preceded by some vigorous tail-slapping (by Dusty, not Finlay). This tail-slapping behaviour is one of the warning signs that the mammal is annoyed. In fact, the behaviour is marked on warning signs around the harbour in question – which the  Barnardos boss says he intends to pay more attention to.

Neither man nor dolphin was significantly injured in the altercation. But it does show the legacy of 80s TV.

Flipper has taught the planet that dolphins are easy-going and empathetic. Just like Skippy taught us that kangaroos are intelligent and gentle. And Lassie made all rough collies smart and insightful.

These are not universal truths. A lot of kangaroos would happily kick you unconscious as soon as look at you. And the only rough collie I have personal experience of was so intellectually impaired that if it was snoozing under the coffee table and its name was called it would head-butt the underside of the table hard enough to daze a mule.

Likewise, just because Flipper was a peach doesn’t mean we should trust dolphins.

A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of stories of human assaults as well as a litany of intra-species violence that would make you very glad that in the big game of species-roulette you got ‘human’ not ‘porpoise’.

Given that many dolphins ain’t that gentle and all of them are very big and very powerful the best rule might be to simply stay away.

 

Cookies and cheese but Brit's still fit

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Someone is trying to sell Britney Spears' old shopping lists on eBay. It's not that odd, people sell weird stuff on online - just be thankful it isn't her old pants or hair clippings. The lists are interesting for the insight they give into Britney (inset) - and how unlimited money doesn't necessarily make you fancy.

Most of the lists focus on confectionery and cheese - Oreo cookies, shredded cheddar, baby ice-cream drumsticks and cinnamon rolls. It also shows how much effort she must put into dancing - if these lists are representative of her diet then the only way she can stay as fit as she is is by burning off enough daily energy to power Roscommon.

 

I blame Miley for everything really

Madonna has got her septum pierced. Yep, her septum. That middle bit of her nose. Like a bullock. She even posted a pic on Instagram (inset). Commentators have leapt on this as further evidence that she is failing to act her age. This misses the point.

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Madonna has made a career of acting inappropriately. Of shocking and titillating. There was no chance she'd suddenly decide to change who she is. Nor should she.

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The problem is her judgement seems off. In the old days, she had a unique capacity to offend, stun and then withdraw, so we got time for the recall of the last stunt to fade before she pulled the next. Now, her pacing is off - she's feeding media constantly, as if she hasn't adjusted to the digital era. I blame the influence of Miley Cyrus (left)...for everything.

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