Wednesday, January 02, 2008

There are several bits of bad news with which one could start the new year but I’ll confine myself to the statistics on ‘gender murders’ in Spain during 2007 – 4% up on 2006 – and road fatalities here in Galicia – no lower than the previous year. In fact, here in Pontevedra province, these were even higher than in 2006, despite tougher laws and increased police activity. But the national trend, I’m pleased to say, is much more positive.

Weather-wise, the Galician Gods have changed tack and, after 3 or 4 months of sun, have marked the new year with rain and high winds. Which is at least traditional. But a bugger for all the mink-coated ladies of Pontevedra. Not to mention the more elegant of the cross-dressers.

Figures being quoted for house sales and the construction industry are universally bad but some say they all lie in the realm of science fiction. For one thing there’s a large discrepancy between those statistics on sales coming from the mortgage-valuation industry and those provided by notaries. But the reason is very simple – mortgage valuers traditionally overvalue properties and – for tax reasons – sale documents completed by notaries usually undervalue them. The truth lies somewhere in between.

I heard an interesting dissertation on the risk/hazard equation on a BBC podcast. This is the challenge of not just gauging the probability of danger but also taking into account the nature of the consequence. Would you, for example, take a 1% risk of catching incurable Bubonic plague? The commentator claimed that, in our easy times, we’re losing the ability to make these judgements. I thought of this yesterday when passing the lamppost in my street with the lid of the access panel removed and all the electric wires on show. My suspicion is that every parent in my street who walks past regardless of the threat to his/her kids would nonetheless express absolute horror at the McCanns leaving their children unattended when they went for a tapas meal. Which owes a lot more to cultural norms than to logic, I suspect.

There’ve been claims recently that the Catholic Church in Spain has been taken over by its ‘neocon’ wing. On the other hand, one astute commentator has said it’s adopting Leninist practices. This followed a large end-of-year rally in Madrid at which the Catholic hierarchy attacked the current government for weakening the family via its laws in respect of divorce and same-sex marriages. As the writer put it, unable to get the message across from pulpits in ever-emptier churches, the Archbishops have now taken to the streets. So I wonder who the emerging Che will be.

Regular reader Xoan-Carlos has pointed me in the direction of articles on British settlements in Galicia established around the 6th century. Those Brits who’ve recently bought property here might like to click here for information on their predecessors:-

Finally, a worrying headline from one of our local papers . . .

Galicia has conceded to China leadership in the turbot breeding industry.

Nothing now will ever be the same.

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