Wednesday, October 07, 2015

LIFE in Spain : Iran: Doing things in Spain : & Editing

LIFE IN SPAIN: Fed up of being assailed by the people they fail, the country's driving inspectors have gone on strike. Given Spain's low levels of violence, this is a tad surprising. Unless the problem is confined to certain parts of Andalucia. Where people do occasionally shoot each other.

IRAN: I wonder how many people, looking at its ambitions for regional hegemony, realise just how large its empire was before Alexander the Great destroyed it. As with Putin and Russia, of course. If you see what I mean. One can understand, if not sympathise. The Brits next?

DOING THINGS IN SPAIN: Around 2000, John Hooper asked if the Spanish, in the age of the internet would give up their preference for doing things face to face. I have to say that's not my impression. Others may differ, of course, but I still seem to need more time than I should in solving problems.

FINALLY: Reader Q10 kindly provides me with a free editing service. So it is that that I have to confess it wasn't a cartoon in El Pais which lampooned President Rajoy as catatonic but an article below it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

PP SECTS:As if the governing party didn't have enough problems already - it now looks as if ex president Aznar is setting up either himself or someone else, should there be a disaster in the December general elections THE POPE etc. As I look at the fotos of the Catholic prelates in their silk and gold, gathered for a congress on the family, two qestions leap to mind:- 1. What experience do any of them have of a family? Even the gay ones. 2. If he came back today, would Christ really go in for all that pomp and circumstance? And that,folks, is all for today. My hard disk is defunct, it seems. And I'M struggling to write this on my new phone.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Sp. banks; Easy money; Socialist Workers; Alegal; & A Good Cartoon.

The Spanish Banks: What an easy business this appears to be. Governments are not going to allow you to fail nor do anything about the truly obscene earnings of your top tier. And, when the dust settles after any trouble, you can simply start introducing all sorts of new or massively increased fees without telling anyone about them. Such as double ATM fees on cash withdrawals, one for you and one for the bank the money is being taken from. Or a charge for sending to someone else the money you've paid into the bank over the counter - a 'correspondence' charge, in the days of electronic transfers.

Other Easy Money: The valor catastral is the notional value of you property used, for example, to calculate your IBI or your annual 'rates'/municipal taxes. For a long time these lagged behind the real market value. But the slump of the last 8 years and the ability of local councils to increase both the base number and the percentage they apply to it have rather changed the situation in the last few years. But the proximity of your property's value to that of the market will depend on your local council. Pontevedra is has seen a 34% increase in recent years. Needless to say, this being Spain, no one ever advises you of changes. You just see them in the (small print) text of your bill. Which is obligatorily paid through your bank account. Usually.

The Socialist Workers' Party: This is a group to the (near/far?) left of Labour's new leader, Jeremy Corbyn. As I know from my own experience, if you attend an event they disfavour, the police will have to protect you, as these people claw and spit at you. So, it's a tad ironic that their favourite epithet for those whom they viscerally despise is 'scum'.

Illegal-ish: HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for the news that there's a useful word in Spanish - alegal - which means 'neither legal nor illegal'. Like new houses which have some permits but not all. The dictionary of the Royal Academy defines it as 'Neither prohibited nor permitted. Such as alegal radio stations'. So, there you have it. A useful nuance, I guess. Especially here.

Finally . . . A Nice Cartoon: El País's El Roto yesterday had the simple question: Can anyone wake up the president? A reference to the almost catatonic and seriousluy uninspiring Sr. Rajoy. Of Pontevedra.

Correction; Reader Q10 has asked for the source of my claim that Saudi Arabia has sacked the Spanish consortium building its high-speed train. I may, indeed, have mis-read my scribbled note. They were certainly given a 'final warning' in September but it does look like they haven't yet been given the boot. And may never be given it. Vamos a ver.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Good Sp. News; Bad Sp. News; The Failing EU; Germany; Stupid dog; & Onion Soup.

Good Spanish News:
1. Tourism income continues to soar.
2. Foreigners are again buying properties in the South.
3. The AVE high-speed train is about to reach Asturias, leaving only poor Galicia without a link to Madrid. But never mind, ahead of the general elections, the government guarantees it will arrive within 2 years or so. Just as it did 10 years ago.

Bad Spanish News:
1. Fed up with delays, the Saudi government has finally sacked the Spanish consortium installing their high-speed train system.
2. The central bank says the rate of economic growth is slowing down.
3. The summer seasonal employment hike was not as much as it usually is. Implications?

The Failing EU: Another nice comment: The EU cannot be regarded as a flawed concept for this reason:- The very essence of the single currency was to launch an incomplete construct in the knowledge that the stresses would create political pressures which would drive further integration. This is the mechanism of 'engrenage', at the core of the so-called Monnet Method, relying on the doctrine of the beneficial crisis. The European Union was designed to act in this way. Quite a design fault, then. Under-estimating the frequency, the nature and the size of the crises. But that's what happens when politicians make forecasts. Even of things they keep to themselves.

Germany: A friend there expresses the hope that Germany won't have problems with the huge numbers of refugees invited in by Mrs Merkel. On the one hand, he says, West Germany absorbed many more East Europeans but, on the other, there are already clashes in the camps between groups of Christians and Muslims. And, of course, between Muslims and Muslims. How many radicals, he wonders, are included in the latter two groups. Time, as ever, will tell.

Lhasa Apso: This is a dog breed I had to look up. To discover it not only looks stupid but also ranks as one of the thickest canines you can buy. 68th out of 79. No prizes for knowing that border collies top the list. RIP Ry.

Finally . . . Success in the kitchen: Blessed with a surplus of the things, I made onion soup for the first time yesterday. I didn't use a recipe, so it's rather more like wine-and-vinegar-and-ginger-with-a-hint-of-onion soup. And excellent. Recipe on demand.

Finally . . . Finally: An Update on the Update of the Update: I couldn't get my new smartphone to display my Spanish number on whatsapp, instead of my UK number. So I went back to the shop again. The nice young lady couldn't solve this either. So I resorted to the switch off-switch back on option and uninstalled the app and re-installed it. Success, though I lost all my chats. So, not so smart a phone.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Spain & Cataluña; Syria; The EU; The UK & the EU; Update on How Things Happen; & An Update to the Update.

Spain & Cataluña: What next, after the utterly inconclusive elections of last week-end? Well . . . The [bizarre] separatist alliance will now enter into tough negotiations to form an accord with the Left-wing CUP, a citizens' group that does not want President Mas to lead the separatist movement. "We are going to appoint someone who has nothing to do with spending cuts, privatisations and corruption," said CUP's number two candidate Anna Gabriel Sabate. So, times that are not just interesting but fascinating. From a distance.

Syria: You have to laugh. The Russian defence - on RT TV - to the allegation that they're bombing not just ISIS but also forces rebelling against Assad is to show pictures of the respective forces side by side and to imply: "They all look the same to us". Nowt to do with us, mate.

The EU: This Wolf Street article contains charts which are: A demonstration that the euro doesn’t work for so many diverse economies and political environments and that 'Vulnerable countries' would have been better off sticking to their banana-republic francs, liras, pesos, etc., and that devaluations and defaults by individual countries would have been better overall than the current international taxpayer-funded bailout and 'austerity” circus'. No one can say this wasn't predicted before the (totally political) decision was taken to introduce the euro in 2002.

The EU & The UK: For the first time for as long as anyone can recall, there are more folk in the UK in favour of a Brexit than against it. This surely reflects the recent economic and social failures of the EU and the growing realisation that, firstly, Cameron is never going to get major treaty changes favouring Britain, and, secondly, that it's virtually certain that France will achieve its aim of getting the UK relegated to Associate Status. So, the negatives of membership without a real voice. Then, of course, there's the obviousness of what some of us have always seen as the naked truth, viz. that the EU never will be - because it never could be - a democratic institution. But what a challenge it's going to be to get shut of all those technocrats and bureaucrats who've lived high on the hog for so long. Oil those tumbril wheels, mes frères!

How Thing Happen in Spain: Update.

1. My mobile phone: Well, the gods were with me and the SIM card was installed midday yesterday. Mind you, I then had to wait 18 hours for it to start working. I didn't bother to ask why. Maybe this happens in other countries as well. My thanks to reader Sierra for advising me, just a tad too late, that Europa Network will rapidly complete an application process - for mobile phone, ADSL, wi-fi and UK TV - in English, over the phone and with almost nil paperwork. Great to know!

2. Telefónica: After I told them on Wednesday I'd be cancelling my wi-fi contract, I got a text message yesterday saying they were about to a install fibre network in my building. Even if I'd been dumb enough to be tempted by this ploy, it was too late. I'd signed the contract on Tuesday evening. Just one of those extraordinary coincidences, I suppose.

Finally . . . Update to the Update: I'm able to use whatsapp on my new phone now but my messages show my UK number. I've tried all sorts of things to stop this but I'll be going back to the shop again this morning. As predicted.

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