Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Eurotrip: Not Holland

From a distance the Netherlands look like, you know, a country - but actually they're separated into two fairly distinct parts. Not quite like the Dutch vs French bits of Belgium, but then comparatively few tourists make it out of Holland proper - the western part generally comprising the rough square of Amsterdam, The "Only City With Its Own Article" Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. On the leg of my trip following Amsterdam, I was fortunate to be in the company of an outstanding host, who pointed out interesting things and explained the essense of the place as we drove across the dyke into Friesland* and Northern Netherlands - the area dominated by Groeningen, an important medieval city-state.

You'd be forgiven for not getting it, as my host pointed sideways out of the window of a Kia Pride travelling improbably quickly on admittedly very good Dutch highways, and urged me to look down the hill. Now, Estonia is a country comically famous for its flatness, but we do have hills, both in Tallinn where most of the Soviet-era housing developments have "mountain" in their name, and in South Estonia, where the national pastime of uphill skiing reigns. But northeastern Netherlands are predominantly reclaimed lands, and back when dykes were unreliable, a meter's elevation made the difference between a home and a houseboat.

While the architecture of the Netherlands is mostly generic-Germanic, the most remarkable thing is the widespread use of brick even in very old buildings. Whereas in Estonia you'd see wood, or local limestone, out there it was always convenient to use the very good local clay. Forests are conspicuous not by their absense, as in Iceland, but by their suspicious order: the landscape developers had to consciously restrain themselves from planting trees in nice, even rows. In that part of the world, whenever you find yourself driving down a shady, bucolic country lane, you can tell there's a castle nearby: the castlefolk spent generations beautifying the land. Unquestionably admirable.

While the best coffee I've ever had** was in that same little cafe in Paris on my first night, the best spare ribs, by far, were to be found in a restaurant in the main square of Nijmegen, a town at the foot of what I sarcastically referred to as the Dutch Alps (but a very pleasant place, no doubt).

And yes, I did make use of the local tolerance of light recreational substances.

* The Friese are by far the biggest nationalists in Europe. They have a myth of Friesland ruling all of Northern Europe, and they still figure that was the normal state of things; what's happening now is just a temporary setback.

** You'd think Caffe Latte, Cafe au Lait and Milchkaffe are all the same thing, but apparently not. The Italian version does actually heat the milk enough for the taste of it to change, while the authentic French version doesn't. Both are quite good, though. The Germans have not impressed me with their coffee, though.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More Lolcatz

Sholdurz: yours truly.
Kitteh: Die Katze.

Eurotrip: Extratemporal

Eurotrip diary will continue with impressions from rural Netherlands, but I'm writing this in Schoenefeld airport, on my way home, and I am astounded by the level of customer service in Germany.

In two words, it Sucks Ass.

Over three days in Cologne and Berlin, I have encountered more assholes per square kilometer than anywhere else I've ever been - and I've been to Paris, South California, and Russia. Maybe I need to go to Bavaria for the stereotypical experience, but up to now I've seen all the twisted, illogical downsides of Ordnung without any of the benefits.

I can comprehend, logically, that there is a reason why shops would prefer one type of card over another, and not take credit cards. I think it's stupid, because I live in a country where anything carrying a Visa logo or the Mastercard double globes is accepted everywhere except the cinema. I've had it explained, by a specialist in the field, why everyone in Germany uses Maestro.

What I don't understand is why, when I find out from a shop floor girl at a gadget supermarket who was standing around chatting to the other assistants that I cannot buy the item with my embossed Visa, and put down the box at the nearest shelf, she demands in an insulted voice that I put it back in the proper location. You get paid to put the box back, you stupid cow.

I don't understand why I can't buy a bottle of mineral water with a bank card at Frankfurt Airport, a major international hub with massive numbers of passengers travelling from one country that doesn't use the Euro to another one. There is no reason to expect me to have cash. Seriously.

I don't understand why the girl at the Deutsche Bahn information desk at Berlin Hauptbahnhof cannot explain to me how to force the ticket machine to actually issue a ticket to Schoenefeld, and not just an itinerary. I'm fairly fucking sure that I'm not the first person to be asking the question.

I don't understand why I have to pay three Euro to leave my bag at the left luggage at ten minutes before midnight, then have to pay another three Euro to retrieve it at 5am because it's two separate days. Even though Every Single Fucking train station in the civilized world charges per 24 hours, including the rather cool auto-stackers in Cologne.

I don't understand why I can't check in to an easyJet flight at the Berlin hub earlier than two hours before the flight, whereas I can do the same thing online 24 hours prior, and can check in way earlier at tiny little Tallinn airport, where airside is quite a cramped affair.

But I swear, if one more German fucks with me today using a completely arbitrary and moronic rule designed to make my life more difficult, I am going to respond by doing the Sieg Heil salute and shouting 'Muskatnuss!!!'.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Eurotrip: Blondies & Aussies

The trick I tried to pull failed miserably: I could not escape the rain that had engulfed Paris. Amsterdam was wet that night.

Fortunately, I had help in the form of a person from the Internet, who came equipped with tickets. Having manhandled my bags up and down some quite ridiculous Amsterdam stairs, I was well on my way with three pints and a curry. Our banter attracted the attention of Monique, an Aussie girl with a Dutch dad who was in town for her gap year. Unfortunately she had a previous engagement for the evening, and so declined our invitation to join us at the gig.

Entertainment for the evening was Blondie. Like a lot of old-school bands, these folks have far too much skill and experience to be perturbed by a shitty sound setup - and before long (in fact only one pint later), we were having a lot of fun. Like I said, I'll mosh to anything with a power chord.)

This wasn't my first time in Amsterdam, but I didn't have time to do too much siteseeing. Best impression that I can pass on is that Amsterdam, more than any large European city I've visited, is a Casablanca. The place accomodates foreigners randomly deciding to stick around. And being the party town, it means that anything can happen in Amsterdam.

Yes, I'm still kicking myself for not getting Monique's number. :P

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eurotrip: Notes on Paris

Axis of Paris
Originally uploaded by Flasher T
Line 14 of the Paris metro is fully automated. The trains do not have driver cabins, but are instead similar to those you would find changing terminals at Frankfurt or Stansted airports (except longer). That is to say: you can look out of the bay window at the front of the train, as it speeds down the tunnel.

This makes it officially the Coolest Public Transport Ever.

I'd started out communicating in restaurants and places of business using only hand gestures and the miserly shreds of French that I can muster. By the third day, I really couldn't be bothered any more, and reverted to English. And yes, the waiters got a lot more rude. Once again, it is a Parisian thing. I got by on hopes that my accent is more European than American or English, and reverting to being Estonian - which means conducting transactions with no eye contact and vague grunts of acknowledgement.

Paris isn't so much smaller than London as easier to navigate - more logical - and easier to grasp. Two full days of hardcore tourism is about sufficient to cover all the major landmarks. Paris also feels foreign in a way that London did not on this trip at least; that neither Rotterdam nor Amsterdam ever did; and that Stockholm hasn't for a long time now. I suppose subconsciously I feel Europe is Germanic.

For some strange reason, I ended up with a first class ticket for the Thalys train to Amsterdam. (Some sort of special offer - it was cheaper for me to buy a discounted 1st class seat than pay full price for 2nd class.) The Eurostar, Thalys and TGV all use the same type of fast electric train, and it really underscores how much sense rail travel makes in Europe. For the price of a cattle-carrier flight bought at short notice, I have a nice, soft seat with my own power outlet, free meal with booze, and a bitchin' view of the French countryside zipping by at 300km/h. Unlike airlines that charge you disproportionately more for business class (this is especially funny on the likes of Estonian Air, where business class gets exactly the same seats, and their advantage is a snack and being the first to get off a plane), the price difference between 1st and 2nd class on railways is quite minor. The final kicker is that while I can arrive at Gare du Nord at noon and step out of Amsterdam Centraal* at five, it would not take me much less time to do the same trip by air, including travel to something like Orly and check-in times. And hey, for a train journey between Schengen countries you don't even need to bring your passport.

As we approach the Belgian capital, the PA comes alive with notice in French that we are about to make a stop at Bruxelles-Midi; then in Dutch and German that Brussel-Zuid is coming up; and finally in English, welcoming us to simply Brussels. Reminds me of the joke about the stubborn blonde in an airplane: "I told her First Class isn't going to Las Vegas."

I'm half disappointed that the Thalys train doesn't have WiFi, but then I'm being Estonian again. Taking connectivity for granted. I'll tell you something though - if one of the Estonian parties runs on a platform (no pun intended) of renovating the Tallinn-Tartu-Riga link to accomodate the European Fast Rail service, they'll have my vote.


*Dutch pronunciation is very entertaining, but in writing it usually just comes down to English with extra vowels.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Eurotrip: Vive la vie!

Sacred Heart
Originally uploaded by Flasher T
Both London and Paris are big cities, orders of magnitude bigger than my home town - and yet the centers of both of these are all contained in an area within reasonable walking distance. Every city that grew out of a medieval hub maintains the core that was designed before motorized transportation was invented, even the comprehensively rearranged Paris.

Last night, I climbed up Monmartre - on foot; exhausting. Some nice pictures though. On my way down, looking for dinner, I got ushered into a tiny restaurant by a hyperactive landlady, taking my order without speaking a word of English. I'm sure I got wrangled, but what the hell - it was a very Parisian thing.

Big city navigation is aided immensely by the subway. It is an urban hyperspace, where seemingly impassable rules of traffic density, walking speed and map-reading ability are irrelevant. Since nearly all of Paris's landmarks are helpfully arranged in a single line, I started out in the morning with the Arc de Triomphe, then walked down Champs Elysee to the Louvre. Didn't go in - cues far too horrible, and I don't fancy looking at paintings all day; besides, it's a bit too Da Vinchi Code now.

Notre Dame next, then a subway ride to the Eiffel Tower. Got stopped by a street artist who wanted to paint me, then sell me the picture for 50 Euro. The picture wasn't very good, so I eventually just gave him a fiver - I'll consider it a tourist tax on the whole Parisian scene.

Crowd management at the tower is excellent, but it's still a lot of standing around, queueing. Got to go up to the top floor though. Didn't spit across the railing - too cliche.

I'd wanted to go to Harrods back in London - from what I understand it's a perfectly serviceable museum - but didn't have time, so I visited the Galleries Lafayette here. Wanted to look at the Archos gadgets in person. Ended up buying some cheese as the obvious souvenier - the hard, vacuum-packed kind that doesn't need to be refridgerated (apparently); I have to carry this stuff half way around Northern Europe, and I'm afraid that by the time I get home, anything more exotic would have achieved sentience.

I can't believe I still have a week of this left.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Eurotrip: Albion

When the Eurostar reaches full speed, going into a tunnel - not just the one under the sea, but any little overpass - generates a sort of blast wave that makes your ears pop.

First leg of the Eurotrip is now done, and I am on my way to Paris, typing this up in the absense of a network connection. (In Estonia, there'd be free WiFi.) I've been drinking since last Friday, and somehow all three nights in London ended in the same row of bars under the railway arches behind Southwark tube station. Saw the Tower and the Science Museum, as well as a small museum dedicated to the Blitz. Refused to pay money for the Tower Bridge museum, HMS Belfast, the Golden Hind... The tourist meme is that London's museums are free, but actually that only applies to a few, and most of those involve a lot of paintings. I don't have the patience for art galleries.

London is covered by CCTV. The British are famously scared by the prospect of national ID cards, or any form of mandatory identification in fact. For me, as for most Europeans, this is a non-issue. Where Britain has a surveillance culture, Estonia has a visibility culture; you don't worry about being watched, but you do know that you are being seen. The highly advanced and integrated systems of the Estonian civil service mean that things are a lot less obtrusive. Like the howlingly inferior plumbing, this is only one more aspect of Britain's love of tradition getting the better of it - and of Estonia doing a Germany/Japan-like trick of prospering through starting from a blank sheet.

I've yet to meet a Brit who actually likes the double taps. Or one who could explain to me their proper intended usage.

Gorged myself on Waterstone's last night. I've mentioned before that it's very hard for me to find appealing reading material. I don't read translations on general principle - professional hazard, the artefacts are too distracting - and I'm not interested in anything Russian writers have to say. (I've read just enough of Viktor Pelevin to have the moral justification to say I don't like him.) I've got about five new books now, which should hold me over for a bit. There's another Waterstone's in Amsterdam, though I'm not exactly sure if I'll have the time to give it the attention it deserves. I arrive in Amsterdam on Monday afternoon, and will go to a Blondie concert with a person from the Internet.

Was walking around central London last night, and got an iced white chocolate mocha* at a Cafe Nero right next to Tiger Tiger - the posh club that failed to be blown up by terrorists recently, though my Londoner friends say it should've been.

Alcohol and coffee. I'm trying to stick to healthy eating - restaurants rather than fast food, proper meat & vegetable meals - but my stimulant intake density is far beyond normal levels. And I've still got Amsterdam to do, remember. This isn't actually too bad, as it does promote the sort of consciousness shift I'm chasing in putting together the Eurotrip - constructing a travel personality that's different from your everyday one.

Who knew that ordering a large latte in a pub in Waterloo station entails a pint of coffee? I'm not even kidding here. It was "large" in the same way that a drink in a multiplex cinema is "large".


* Yes, yes, I know that every time you drink a cold coffee, God kills a little Colombian kitten. At least this one was quite good.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Eurotrip: Prelude

Vacation starts with a party. On Friday night, I set out from Tartu for a three-odd hour drive across Estonian back roads. My goal: a campground where my employer was holding an annual corporate piss-up.

There are places in Estonia which are not simple to reach - pairs of points on the map that are not connected by any satisfactory freeway. Hundreds of kilometers through small towns and villages, with nothing but a Google Maps printout and twenty gigabytes of music to keep you company is actually a pretty good way to start a vacation.

The corporate party has been the subject of many a rant, and certainly I've lived through some crap ones; however, this one was actually pretty decent - mostly due to the choice of campground. Small separate houses, with proper toilets & showers, sufficiently spread out to give people a chance to get some peace & quiet when they're done partying, really is of paramount importance.

The tequila didn't hurt either.

A big part of corporate outings is the entertainment. At Christmastime and during the Summer Days season, content-starved society rags snoop for information on the parties each act is doing and how much they're charging. For the bands though, this can be miserable. There are plenty of companies in Estonia that can afford a big name, but it's largely an issue of bragging rights, and presuming a minimal level of competence at performing live. You won't make everyone happy. The upshot is that a band that's used to playing in front of a crowd of fans, people who paid their own money to see the show, can find itself in a room with fifteen drunk IT nerds standing around & scowling.

Still, I'll mosh to anything with a power chord.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Edgar just can't get a break.

The mayor's downward spiral continues. Today, July 12th, started out with news that one Rene Reinmann, a Tallinn assembly member for the Centrist party, a sitting member of the council's law enforcement committee (among other things), is a criminal. The man's been convicted for multiple felonies, including violent assault.

This is Tallinn, and the Centrists have an absolute majority in the municipal assembly. Nobody to blame but themselves.

Then, just as the online news sources were chewing on Andrus Ansip's response to Savisaar's critical article in yesterday's daily (the PM essentially told Edgar to sit down and shut the fuck up), the wires come alive with news that the police caught Savisaar speeding.

You know how I said people are really angry at speeders right now?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Really Don't Want to Talk About Rein Lang's Birthday Party

Turns out there's an Apple store at Tartu Kaubamaja now! All-white and everything. No iPhones, though. Bought a new suitcase last night for my Eurotrip. Booked a Thalys ticket from Paris to Amsterdam, and a night at Rembrandt Square Hotel. Watched the Jeremy Clarkson episode of "Have I Got News For You" on YouTube.

No? Not interesting enough?


Yes, it was a massive faux pas on Lang's part, he should've known it would start a shitstorm. Maybe he did. Lang is without question the most outspoken and direct politician in Estonia right now. He makes Andrus Ansip look like Arnold Rüütel.

You gotta see his point though, in that it's none of Russia's fucking business. The play is anti-faschist, it's been produced throughout Western Europe, and I dare say some government officials must've seen it.

Estonia's attitude to fascism is indeed different to that of Western Europe, for the simple reason that Estonia did not take part in WWII. Prince Harry had to apologize for his Nazi outfit because in Britain, undue levity on the subject is insulting to the memory of the nation's desperate struggle against the enemy. Essentially the same phenomenon as Russia's cultivated formal anti-fascism, though not to such an extreme. Estonia neither fought for nor against the Nazis though, but was rather fucked by both sides. So now we get to take the piss out of Hitler all we want.

Rein Lang was trolling, and Russia took the bait. Whatever.

The only interesting thing here is a newsbit published on the Russian portal of the public broadcaster, ETV. It appears that some former German MEP came out of the woodwork to claim that in any other EU country, a minister who did what Lang did would have to resign. I'm not going to bother figuring whether the dude got the story wrong or was looking for personal PR regardless. What surprised and annoyed me is that this article appeared on the russian version of ETV24.

Now, I acknowledge Delfi's right to sensationalism, even if I don't like it - they're a commercial enterprise and play to their audience. But ETV is state-sponsored, and by design provides not the content that people want, but the content that people need.

When the author, a fairly prominent LiveJournal user in Tallinn, was called on this, she responded saying that the text was in fact a translation from the Estonian edition of Postimees. The original, of course, looked a lot less objectionable.

As I said, it is in the nature of Estonians to criticize each other at each opportunity, and the unity of the crisis did nothing to change this. It's part of what makes the little country great - ultimately everybody is kept in check. And yet when the local Russians criticize the government, especially after the April riots, especially at the taxpayer's expense, it looks outrageous.

A curious phenomenon. It appears that the local russian-language news media really do need to be cleaner than the wife of Caesar. And Rein Lang doesn't.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Current Affairs

Well, it looks like the government's found a loophole to keep the zero corporate tax regime in Estonia and still be in accordance with EU directives - if only just. At the same time they've passed a bill raising excise on fuel, alcohol and tobacco, among other things. All in all, while the income tax will keep falling to 18% (and somehow I'm getting the feeling that's as low as it will go), and additional tax breaks for families with young children are introduced to bolster population growth, a lot of the extra money will be eaten up by the cascading price increases. The point is to cool down the economy - stop discretionary spending, reduce consumer & long-term debt, and prevent the bogeyman that is a "hard landing". I've yet to see a good explanation of this nasty phenomenon, but apparently it'll cause everyone to lose their homes.

Edward Lucas says that we're doing better than most Eastern European countries, because we have a budget proficit (this is a legislative issue, the government is not allowed to spend more than it gets). If you're in the mood for a cheeky chuckle, enjoy master Lucas's elaboration, of high importance to readers of The Economist: quoting "Juliet Sampson of HSBC, a bank."

Now that the economy's sorted, or at least there's a plan of action, we can go on to the next big issue: traffic deaths. Over a hundred people have bitten it on the roads in the first half of 2007 (and somewhat surprisingly for those who know me well, I wasn't among them). This is a major problem now, and a very public one. The reasons are mostly to do with the gung-ho attitude of drivers being inappropriate for the twisting, occasionally dilapidated, all too often slippery highways of this heavily-forested country. The government is getting drastic: besides the standard talk of increasing fines and introducing a point system, they've gone ahead and purchased a bunch of speed cameras. In this first phase they've only got enough hardware to cover about 80km of road, apparently, but if the gatsos are effective, there will be more.

I'm not sure how I should feel about it. As a car enthusiast, I am bound to finding speed cameras repulsive. On the other hand the highway traffic really is getting quite bad. There's a time and place to drive fast, and the behaviour of many drivers on the Tartu-Tallinn road* is quite simply imprudent. Having survived several highway mishaps, I now prefer to stay within reasonable proximity to the speed limit. If gatsos really are an effective deterrent, and if they'll not just be used as revenue generators, I can't in all honesty complain.

There are, however, sillier ideas going around. Reader letters in Postimees have suggested mounting a speed limiter on the cars of rookie drivers and repeat offenders, physically preventing the car from breaking the speed limit - this ties in to the EU idea of banning cars capable of going faster than 160km/h. The problem is that this is presents a safety concern: in some situations, you need power to pull off a maneuver safely, and an arbitrary engine limiter could very well put you in harm's way.

In Tallinn**, they're thinking of reducing the speed limit to 40km/h. Now, a basic principle of legislature is to not pass laws that cannot possibly be enforced. The traffic speed in Tallinn today is more organic than prescribed; very few drivers follow the 50km/h limit unflinchingly. If all the cars around you are travelling at 70km/h, you'd better do it too. Reducing the limit would achieve no more than criminalize the population, which would do nothing for safety, but would generate resentment. Bad idea.

The only things I can think of that would seriously improve traffic safety are road construction - freeways especially, as it's rather difficult to kill yourself in city driving (although there are bright sparks who've managed) - and saturation of the traffic flow with police presense. To the best of my comprehension, raids on the Tallinn-Tartu road during peak hours, when you'll see five or six squad cars over the length of your trip, have been effective. There's no need to enforce the letter of the law rigorously and punish people harshly for every minor infraction, but the mere presense of traffic police in the flow at all times should do wonders. Estonians are sufficiently civilized that they won't break the law while the police is watching. ;)

* The road I'm most familiar with, and the major artery in the country. They're doing things to it - diverting heavy trucks during peak hours, extending the autobahn-style separated sections, etc. Curiously enough, while dangerous, it is not responsible for most of the fatalities - people kill themselves a lot more on country roads. There's a known phenomenon with twisting mountain passes, that it's statistically a lot better to not put up any barriers at the edge of the road - drivers who are scared shitless will drive more prudently and get through safely. The appalling traffic of this freeway probably acts as a similar inhibitor.

** I'm too tired to think of a way to convincingly blame this on Edgar Savisaar, so use your imaginations.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Of course we're not outrageous!

Plasma Jack quotes an extremely friendly - to the point of ass-kissing - speech by a Liberian diplomat, on the occasion of establishment of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Liberia. (Don't click on the source link over at Jack's - thar be viruses.)

No doubt, it's nice when somebody says good things about you, and the Liberians probably have a thing or two to say about personal freedom. But, at the risk of beating a dead horse, isn't this contrary to what Russian MPs and Amnesty International are saying?

Silly Liberians.

In truth, by European standard Estonia's riot was nothing to write home about. This is an important point that has to be driven home, I think, especially to all the foreign readers of AnTyx trying to figure what the hell is happening in this country:

The reason that the drunk youth rioted, and the reason that the local Russians completely flipped, and the reason that they're still trying to find some form of retribution through European courts (who want to hear nothing of it), is because Estonia is a free, prosperous and modern country. YouTube was flooded by clips of police brutality because in Estonia, cops using tear gas on a crowd, beating down individual rioters with batons and leaving them to lie on a concrete hangar floor with their wrists in zip ties is an event as outrageous as the murder of Rodney King was in the US.

Estonia is, socially, a far more liberal country than most of Europe. But because the left-wing social approach is tempered by the fact that it is still a predominantly right-wing country in economic terms - in fact, Estonia is a model of the classic US Republican dream untainted by the Moral Majority wankers - it does not have the unequivocal tolerance of Europe's left-wing success stories, which happen to mostly include the Scandinavian countries that Estonia likes to see itself bunched up with.

In a country with free healthcare, free education, serviceable public transport, and a functioning democracy, the lack of a Swedish or Dutch approach to minority issues creates the contrast that makes an insignificant little clash between the police and a vocal, violent minority seem outrageous.

And we, of course, are not outrageous. Right? ;)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

In a cute sort of coincidence, July 4th is also the day on which I - finally, after two months plus of wrangling with the telecoms company that was supposed to have its shit together by the time the building was handed over - have Internet access at my new apartment.

Feels very liberating indeed.

Two weeks from now, I'll be in London, the first stage in my Eurotrip. The plan, such as it is, is to go from London to Paris to Amsterdam (most likely Gröningen too), to Cologne, to Berlin. London and Paris are definite, and I have to end up at Berlin Schoenefeld airport on the morning of July 29th, other than that I'm mostly winging it.

I'll also be in Tallinn for the first time since early April on July 16th. If anybody's actually reading this blog* and fancies a pint - in any of the listed locations - email's in the sidebar.

* Just kidding. I monitor my visitor logs religiously.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hans Rosling: Seemingly Impossible Is Possible

Seriously. You need to watch this.

Other People's Content: On Protest

It seems to me that the underlying assumption of any public protest - any public disagreement with the government, "the system", or "the establishment", by any name - is that the men in charge of whatever it is you're protesting against are actually listening, whether they later admit it or not, and that if you run your protest Right, it will likely make a difference. [...]So in the end the very act of public protest, even violent protest, was essentially optimistic and actually a demonstration of faith (mainly subconscious, I think) in the father figures who had the power to change things - once they could be made to see the light of reason, or even political reality.
A Willingness to Argue, however violently, implies a faith of some basic kind in the antagonist, an assumption that he is still open to argument and reason and, if all else fails, then finely orchestrated persuasion in the form of political embarassment.

Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear


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