Saturday, January 03, 2009

The government of the Basque Country has announced that their regional elections will be held on 1 March, which happens to be the same day as ours here in Galicia. This has led to a flurry of adverse headlines here about this coincidence being regrettable. To those of us used to such elections taking place all – or most – at the same time, this might seem an odd reaction. But there are two prime arguments, it seems. Firstly, it will deny Galicia its day in the spotlight, when local issues are covered by the national media. And, secondly, the governing PSOE will have to employ its main weaponry up in the troublesome northern region, meaning fewer big-hitters visiting Galicia to burnish the image of the socialist-nationalist coalition. Which certainly needs it after the recent fiasco of the turbine tender process which the socialists washed their hands of. Perhaps the most astute comment on all this I’ve read so far is that it will force President Zapatero to be schizophrenic – playing down nationalism in the Basque Country but praising its contribution to ‘sensible’ government in Galicia. But, as I say, that's life for a Spanish president, in a de facto federal state

The Basques, of course, argue that they aren’t really Spanish. But I couldn’t help noticing that the car in which ETA let off their latest bomb was illegally parked on a pavement for quite a while before it went off.

I occasionally ponder out loud on the future of the EU project, without ever making a real prediction as to whether it’ll succeed or whether it’ll collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions This is because I really don’t know. The writer of this article, however, is not troubled by any doubts whatsoever. Scornful of any suggestion that, with the pound now at parity with the euro, British commentators would be wise to lie rather low, he makes this categorical assurance - “Before too long, there is going to be chaos in the eurozone. The confrontation between rhetoric and reality cannot be long delayed. The EU maintains that its currency will survive, not just because it bends the rules to keep unworthy economies within it, but because the European Central Bank will hold the line on interest rates. We'll see. The bending of those rules cannot long escape the currency markets. They have picked off sterling and the dollar – the time cannot be far off when the short sellers go after the euro.” Well, vamos a ver. Interesting times. There’ll certainly be a lot of European anger if the euro falls off its pedestal after another bout of ‘Anglo-Saxon casino capitalism’. And it certainly won't be attributed to problems in Greece, Italy, Portugal or Spain.

As the writer is something of a right-wing ranter in a right-of-centre British newspaper, it might be tempting to dismiss his views as simple euroscepticism at its worst. So it’s interesting to note that the left-of-centre Guardian carries a report that the great majority of Brits remain unattracted to the euro, despite the battering their currency is currently taking.

Back here in Spain, the council of a town down in the south has held a referendum on whether or not they should continue to have an annual bullfight. The turnout was admittedly ery vlow but the vote against more corridas was overwhelming and the result is binding. Who’d have thought it.?

Finally, here’s evidence that the folk at the First Post are still struggling with technology. Or recovering from a festive hangover . . .


Keefieboy said...

My son is here in Madrid on a visit from the YUK - most dischuffed to find that withdrawing 50 Euros from an ATM cost him 50 pounds.

Mind you, a few weeks ago I was equally dischuffed when I bought a computer from EBay UK for 720 pounds, and it cost me 940 Euros.

moscow said...

I seem to remember you wrote you would try to avoid writing about the Euro issue. I was sure that wasn't going to last.

Why can't these guys just call it a day? And this fixation with the PIGS? I am myself very disappointed with Italy. It's politics stink. But does anyone in the UK realize that Italy (particularly it's northern half) is one of Europe's industrial hubs, comparable only to Germany?

Portugal was a 3rd world country in the 70's. It is going now through a lot of pain trying to adjust. All over Europe efforts are being made to adjust. And they will continue.

Anecdotal evidence: go into any shop in Moscow, and try to find British products. Italian? All over the bloody place. Oh, yes the Irish are hopping over the border at Armagh in droves to shop themselves to death. But will that be enough?

A lot of people are predicting a massive wipe out of the dollar. I don't see it happenning, but I'd say the chances of it happening are the same as of a wipe out of the Euro.

For the moment I can't see the pound stopping it's downward spiral. And please, you don't need to remind me (again) that you have no assets left in pounds. You've written a book about that already.

Colin said...


I hope you are not as tetchy as you sound

Im pleased that you go looking for British goods in Moscow.

Colin said...


Does he know they will also charge him 1.5% commission?

moscow said...

I have read the article again. Under any other circumstances I would have tried to ignore it. But right now it is just too much fun to read this sort of nonsensical babble again and again. I can sense the feeling of despair and dejection, as all these fools can do is splutter bile and saliva like rabid dogs.

moscow said...

Sorry if it looks like I am being aggressive. It's not personal. Shouldn't read the DT.

Colin said...

Yes but it can be a sort of pleasure to read Heffer at his polemical best, even if one totally disagrees.

I sometimes feel like this when reading that champagne socialist Polly Toybee.

Personally, I predict the pound back at 0.25/0.33 by the end of the year.

But which year . . . .?

moscow said...

That's more like it.
Did you mean 1.25/1.33? Pound/EU?
By the end of 2009? 2010? Never?
Any bets?

Colin said...

'Back' = 1 euro at 0.75-80 pounds, at least

By end 2009

Stake = 20 pounds.

Colin said...


This is for you if you are reading today's comments . . .

Do you know why my partner's cheaper, older laptop has better wifi recepton than mine? And whether I can enhance mine my tweaking something in Vista?

Can't do anything to the actual router as it is 'inaccessible'.

Many thanks.

Colin said...


A milder version of the same point - from The Times . .

"Mandelson knows that entering the euro is not on the prime minister’s agenda. As German and French economic policies diverge, the eurozone may yet pay the price for its fiscal laxity. The political imperative of setting up the single currency pushed aside the disciplines that its architects had thought essential. The euro has been strong in good times, but we shall see whether all its economies can endure the rigours of common rates of exchange and interest as the bad times persist. "

Hard to argue with, especially as it's not a prediction.

moscow said...

I actually find the article odd:
"The euro has been strong in good times". Sorry, which good times? The German economy started to do OK around 2005, after 10 years in the doldrums. Economic growth in France and Italy has been flat for a decade. The Economist says now Germany's economy is 'Super-competitive". This after 20 yrs calling Germany the "Sick Man of Europe". That should be Italy now...or Spain? The economic media is squizofrenic nowadays, and virtually unreadable, I am afraid.

If the Euro were to fall, what could be more welcome than that? It is in fact what Europe needs.

mike the trike said...

Colin. It's all down to the antenna in the laptop. The wifi transmitter/receiver is about the size of a book of paper matches if you remember what they lookded like. All you can do is see if you can find a reception indicator on your laptop which shows you all the wifi transmissions and identify the one you are connected to. Then it's a case of walking around the room with your laptop seeing how the signal changes. Usually there is some kind of coloured bar indicator which moves up or down depending on reception. Some just give a percentage figure. Trying to find a spot which has the best reception is about all you can do. Those who have a desktop and an external antenna can improve the reception by installing a better antenna. You have to treat the laptop like a radio and if you were to turn your radio in different directions you could improve the signal reception. I hope you don't end up hanging from the lampshade where you find the best signal.

CafeMark said...

"The Basques, of course, argue that they aren’t really Spanish. But I couldn’t help noticing that that car in which ETA let off their latest bomb was illegally parked on a pavement for quite a while before it went off."
I have to say, that's the funniest comment I've read in a long time. Happy New Year!

Colin said...

Mark. Many thanks.

Moscow. I suppose 'good' is merely relative to 'bad'. What is your opinion on the chances of the German economy stuttering or powering ahead, dragging France, Spain, etc. with it?

Mike. Very many thanks for taking the trouble to respond. It's an odd situation. There are places in the house where both laptops work best. And at times over the last month, both of them have been working fine, albeit at a download speed of between 12 and 312 kbps in the case of my laptop. But my parter's [cheaper] laptop has always worked better, at an alledged speed of 11 to 36 Mbps. [compared with the 54 I'm getting in this cyber cafe]. However, I've not been able to access the net for 4 days now while she has. From the dame settee! My computer says that I'm connected and that the identification process has been completed but I can't get to any web page. Or, usually, even get the green Firefox line to appear/move. "Page not found", etc.

I've been on the web - using her laptop! - and seen suggestions about using a dongle to amplify the signal or setting up a home-made amplifier built from a metal household sieve. Or even connecting the laptop to the house's electrical system.

I actually have a dongle I bought which was supposed to give my old desktop wifi capability but it never worked and it won't even install on my new laptop. Perhaps it wouldn't work anyway as an amplifier as it isn't designed for this or as it would conflict with the internal modem/amplifier.

So, unless things improve - as they did once before after a period like this - I shall have to continue using cyber cafes when my parter's laptop is not available. Unless I can get sa dongle or the sieve thing really works. It looks simple enough for me to construct.

All the best. Must buy you lunch in LC.

mike the trike said...

Colin - Welcome to the club of wireless horrors. I have a laptop with wifi and it works perfectly well when I am out and about. However, I can't get a proper connection here at home to my wireless router. I have a good strong signal but I can't access the internet and it appears I am connected to send but not to receive. I have tried several things and given up as I seem to be dealing with black magic. The laptop will work if I use the ethernet connection which is fine but I wanted to be able to use the laptop from the bedroom. If you type in "can't connect to wifi" from your browser you will get all kinds of wonderful advice about digging inside the computer and changing things but I didn't succeed and as I have a second computer working OK using the ethernet connection I didn't think it was worth the headache. But in your case you need the connection. If your neighbour is doing a lot of downloading then your connection will be slow or if he has kids and they are playing games via the internet then that will slow things down a lot too. Also I don't know how many connections a household wireless router is happy with before if starts to falter.

Colin said...

Many thanks again, Mike. Things have taken an odd turn, which I was going to tell you about this morning - if you want to dialogue personally/privately, email me on

Frustrated, last night I drove around the neighbourhood and discovered 3 or 4 open wifi connections while sitting in my car. But for the one next door I got a message saying that the capability of my wifi adaptor didn't meet the requirements of the net/router.

Getting back home, I couldn't get anything at all from anywhere and my partner said she had a button on her laptop to switch wifi off and on. So we looked at mine and sure enough found one near the main on-off button. I had accidentally pressed it off in the car and when I pressed it back on, I could suddenly get a connection from next door.

All well and good but this morning I was back to 'connected' and 'identified' but no ability to download anything. And in the Vista Centro de redes panel a bit red cross between my machine and the internet. So I drove round the neighbourhood again and once again got several connections. Got back home but still nothing from next door. Until I pressed the wifi switch off and on and immediately got a good connection and download capability. And I still have it.

I don't know whether this is the answer but I will certainly be trying it again if and when the problem re-occurs. If you try it and it works, let me know!

All the best.

Colin said...

"big red cross"

mike the trike said...

OK see you on your personal email address and for those following this I haven't succeeded with Colin's latest advice but not worried because I can access the internet etc.

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