Slovene two-euro coin, featuring France Prešeren, previously the star of a 1000-tolar banknote. Photo: Primož Lavre, source

No, this is not a sob-story about the demise of Slovenian tolar. Neither is this a praise for the common European currency, the euro. It is, rahter, a real-politik based look upon the official admission of Slovenia to Economic and Monetary Union (falsely known as European Monetary Union).

The most obvious effect of this is of course the adoption of euro as Slovenian currency. Slovenia will also transfer a part of its monetary sovereignity to a collective body of European Central Bank, which by means of consensus formy monetary policies for all members of the EMU. Slovenian economy will thus from midnight tonight officially become a part of one of the largest single markets in the world – especially in terms of purchasing power.

Single monetary unit is an extremely important step in creating a sence of internal and external sovereignity. In mid-seventies Henry Kissinger uttered a sad-but-true sentence: “Europe? Who do I call?”. While this is still the case in foreing politics, where member-states refuse to transfer foreign policy powers to Brussells, the question has been solved in monetary area. The Governer of Federal Reserves can now call the Governor of the ECB. EU (or at least, members of the EMU) is at the early stages of external monetary sovereignity (external in this case meaning that it is recognised as a legitimate player by other players). By people actually using the currency – banknotes and coins – the EU is (slowly, but still) also gaining internal sovereignity: being recognized as a legitimate player by its citizens. The process is slow, paintful and not at all even in all areas. Luckily, I might add… Allow me to elucidate with refference to specifics:

I always saw the EU as an entirely Marxist concept. According to Karl any given society is shaped (created, if you will) first by establishing an economic infrastructure, which is followed by a social superstructure. European Union is a text-book expample of this. If we skip the early forms of European economic cooperation (the Coal and Steel Community), we see that the “original” EU (the twelve member states) at first formed European Economic Community (EEC). While it may seem normal from today’s point of view (with the World Trade Organisation and such), the fact that member states were not charging customs for nearly all products imported from another member state was revolutionary for that time (nearly a decade later, in 1992, Slovenia recorded a historic budget surplus, precisely because of charged customs for foreign products).

Now in the years following, the EU jumped a bit ahead of itself. While it may have seemed that adoption the euro and formally declaring a single market was enough in terms of creating an economic infrastructure, allowing the then leaders to eagerly concoct a social superstructure, the truth is that not enough has been done.

While I strongly support further expansion of the EU, which in my opinion must at least include entire Balkan Peninsulla and Turkey (more on that on some other occasion), the same amount of effort (if not more) must be put into actually making the common economy work. Euro is a big step, but it is not enough. Things will not just happen on their own. More must be done to persuade Great Britain to join the eurozone and help other EU members to achieve criteria to join the euro-zone. The benefit will be two-fold: firstly, the fact that one of the hottest economies of the world adopted the euro would be a great boost to both internal and external sovereignity of the EU and secondly, more eurozone members means a bigger common currency market, more business opportunities, etc, etc… To summarise: while building the social superstructure of the EU must continue, the economic infrastructure of the union must be strengtened. To put it in construction terms: The current foundations cannont bear the weight of the structure and must strengthened “toot-suit”, and at the same time the works on the structure must go on. A daunting task, I know… But if one of the two fails to materialize I fear the worst…

So for once I’m glad that my sorry little country where the rule of law was recently raped and mutilated, where minorities are endangered, where the terms “state media” became popular again and where a ban on abortion can still become a proposed government policy, that for once this country did the right thing and did all it can do to forward the European idea – although I believe Europe stands for ideals different than those of the current Slovene government.

P.S.: Happy 2007 to everybody… Whatever the weather, we (always) weather the weather, whether we like it or not…

Peace on Earth

candle.jpgOn June 26, 1945, sixty-one and a half years ago, representatives of fifty countries all over the world, ravaged by the second world war, signed probably the most important document which proved that human race is a race of hope. The document was of course the Charter of the United Nations and its introductory text (the preamble) is probably the single most important piece of writing on this Earth. It deserves to be cited:

“We the peoples of the united nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, And for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims Accordingly, our respective governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present charter of the united nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.”

Today, sixty-one and a half years after the adoption of the UN charter and two thousand and six years after a man was nailed to the cross for saying that wouldn’t it be nice if we all just got along, people – to the best of my knowledge – still die or suffer in the following countries and regions around the world, listed alphabetically: Abkhazia-Georgia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Basque Country (Spain), Bosnia, Chad, Congo (Zaire), Chechnya, Colombia, Cyprus, Darfur (Sudan), Eritrea, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Kashmir (India-Pakistan), Korea (North), Kosovo-Serbia, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexican-American Border, Myanmar (Burma), Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Ireland, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tibet (China), Turkey-Kurdistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

While I do not share the faith of the Catholics who believe that the son of God was born on December 25th (nor do I share beliefs of any other religion whatsoever), I do believe that the message of Catholic religion (or of any other religion, for that matter) is one of peace. And that is my wish fo all of us:

Let peace rule this Earth once more.

Suzuki is a piece of shit…

Somehow I always picture the scene below taking place
in Springfield Elementary School 🙂

First day in an elementary school somewhere in Midwestern USA…

The teacher introduces a new pupil, Suzuki from Japan. A history lesson begins and the teacher decides to quiz the kids:

Who said »Give me liberty or give me death«
Silence befalls the classroom. Suzuki raises his hand: »Patrick Henry in 1775 in Philadelphia!
Teacher: Very good, Suzuki

Now, who said »Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth«?
Suzuki stands up solemnly: Abraham Lincoln, 1863, Washington
The teacher scorns the rest of the classroom: You should be ashamed of yourselves. A Japanese kid knows more Amercan history than you do!

A quiet vioce from the back of the classroom: »Fuck off, you Jap sons of bitches«
Teacher yells: WHO SAID THAT?!?!
Suzuki raises his hand: General Douglas McArthur, 1942 just before the battle of Guadacanal and Lee Iacocca in 1982 during Chrysler’s shareholder meeting in Detroit.

The class falls silent, but a single voice that whispers: »Blow me!«
Suzuki: Bill Clinton to Monica Lewinsky, 1997 in Oval Office, Washington

Another kid yells: »Suzuki is a piece of shit!«
Suzuki: Valentino Rossi, 2002, during a MotoGP Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix

All the other kids freak out and start a rampage, the teacher blacks out and then the headmaster enters the classroom: »WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING AROUND HERE?«
Suzuki: Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša, Ambrus, November 2006

The Game’s Afoot

Foto by Stane Jeršič,

And thus it begins… Ljubljana City Council convened for its first (and second) extraordinary session yesterday. The substance wasn’t all that much interesting unless you count raising parking fees from 100 SIT per hour to 0.60 € (SIT 144) per hour or if you hold a keen interest in City of Ljubljana filing an appeal with the Constitutional Court to strike down the ammended Law on Financing Municipalities which in effect reduces Ljubljana expected income by some 11 bln SIT (45,6 million €).

The fun part was watching the three-times-Maganer-of-the-year-award-winner Zoran Janković trying to control 45 people whom he can’t fire. He boldly announced that both sessions will take three hours altogehter, but instead the debate raged on for seven hours.

Janković learned a couple of things: Procedure is the basis of democracy. On at least two occassions he blatantly violated Rules of Procedure: If the Rules stipulate that a decree comes into effect a day after being published in the Official Gazzette, that means precisely that and cannot be read any other way. Zoran Janković however rammed through a decision (obviously invalid) that this particural decision – on forming a Committee for Sports – becomes valid upon its confirmation in the Council. From a legal point of view Ljubljana City Council now doesn’t have a Committee on Sports and its members are holding their positions illegally.

Secondly: If Rules allow a broad debate then the Councilors will use every millimeter of this broadness. That’s what democracy is for. The Rules stipulate that a Councilor must stick to the issue on debate, but the nature of a Councilor’s debate is entirely up to him/her. As is the length of the debate. As expected, Miha Jazbinšek took full advantage of this, contributing at least an hour and a half of a seven-hour session.

Thirdly: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Janković apparently takes great many things personally. He will have to let certain things go, otherwise he will keep getting involved in a pointless exchange of words, whose only aim is to throw the Mayor off guard. Yesterday several Councilors succeeded in doing that.

Janković will have to learn these things by heart since he has set out to complete his twenty-two projects in four years. Yesterday’s session lasted for seven hours. I wonder how long the budgetary session will take? And even if he manages to ammend the Rules, imposing a time-limit on debate, he will have to brace himself for a fiery hell when he will try to ram a decision through the Council. And I see no way of limiting the sessions to below five-to-six hours. Not with all the projects he has set out to complete.

2006 in review

End of the world as depicted by The Economist

As this is probably my last sober weekend this year I might just as well use it and do a rundown on 2006 as seen by Pengovsky.

Political life in 2006 was dominated both by Janez Janša’s government consolidating its power in every aspect possible. The consolidation started late in the year as the first half of the year was dominated by the resignation of minister in charge of reforms Jože P. Damijan. Janša however bounced back from this blow and set about prepairing terrain for the hoped-for victory in municipal elections. The victory more or less materialised, but not in Ljubljana, where Zoran Janković won with a landslide and pretty much upset the murky political pond of Slovenia. Whether it was for better or for worse remains to be seen

On a global scale of things it does feel nice that the people in the USA finally realised what the rest of the world (save Tony Blair) was telling them all along.

When looking back on 2006 one cannot ignore the rise of racism and the dissolution of the rule of law, both of which were paintfully manifested during Ambrus crisis. I’ve posted at lenght on this issue, so let it just be said that the matter is far from resolved. For the time being it seems that single-digit temperatures have cooled down the racist rage of the Ambrus population, but when the ice will have thawed time will be up for the government which will want to provide some sort of viable approach to ensuring that Slovenia will become a country of and for all of its people, regardless of ethnicity – which includes the Roma.

On that note: People seem to want simple and fast solutions these days, which is probably one of the reasons Janković got elected. Someone should be brave enough to tell them that simple and fast solutions often create just more of the same problems.

The Firm™ survived yet another year, which I’m very proud of. The media market in Slovenia is a true dog-eat-dog world and just having survived for four years is good, but having finally picked up the pace in increasing number of visitors/users/listeners proves, that we were right all along and that our programming and other services perform their respective functions. Just a quick example. In January 06 the Firm’s website recorded 9690 visits, while in November (last full month as of this writing) the number of unique visitors jumped to 83.500 visits.

I continued writing for SBR, which can sometimes be time consuming, especially when I don’t have the foggiest what the fuck I’m writing about. It happened when I was given medicine as a subject of my article and I virtually pissed blood for a month (much like on the two projects I’m finishing now). But in the end it turned out to be an excellent article and I was even commended for it by dr. Vinko V. Dolenc, the world renowned neuro-surgeon, which was kind of nice.

I also returned to Cutty Sark Pub as a DJ after becoming single again (see below) as I quit the year befoe in the name of love. I missed the place, and although it can be a bit frustrating at times when people don’t respond to music, I still love working there. The staff are great, they know how to pour a Guinness and when people start really partying it trully is a sight to see.

Well, I became single again this year. As of February Pengovsky is on the market 😀 I met a couple of really fine women since then (one in particular) but it never came to developing a deeper relationship. I got used to being single, but there are two things about it I don’t like: 1) even if you solve your own problems, you still need someone intimate to talk to – and there is noone, and 2) you don’t get laid as much as you’d like to. True, I also fucked up this year at one point but I’ve only myself to blame for that one, so I hope she forgave me.

And of course, I started writing this very blog. 😀

It was a year to remember, no doubt. But so much happened that I have the feeling I’ve been living it on fast-forward. Of course I’m tired accordingly. Both physically and emotionally. And there’s no indication that 2007 will be a lot different. Whether it was a good year or a bad one, remains to be seen, but my gut instinct teels me that this year was not one of the brightest. I just hope were not headed for a political, economic, military and social trainwreck. Globaly, I mean.