Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spain is not, of course, the first country in the world to find that fining motorists for petty or even non-existent offences is an easy source of revenue. Things have gone so far in the UK that magistrates are reported to be reluctant to give police the power to hand out 60 pound on-the-spot fines and penalty points for careless driving because they “can’t be trusted not to abuse the system”. Local councils, though, don’t need the approval of the judiciary and have become evermore creative. And devious. In Portsmouth, for example, motorists who park more than 19.7 inches from the kerb are set to be fined £70. Presumably, what someone has called the Traffic Taliban will all be carrying tape measures as part of their uniform. Or perhaps just a stick measuring 19.7 inches. Or 41.75cm. Creating the risk that some of them may duly find this up their fundament.

There's been something of a controversy raging in the UK about a Conservative MP who criticised the British National Health Service on US TV. British politicians have finally moved away from the egregious boast that the NHS is the "envy of the rest of the world." But – regardless of what they really believe - they still can’t say anything in public other than it’s wonderful and in need only of a bit more tinkering. Of course, everyone in the country with half a brain knows this isn’t true and some of them may be aware of how much better things work in France, Germany and even Spain, for example. But such is politics. So it was ironic to read today that employees in the NHS - the largest single employer in Europe – have levels of obesity, smoking, absenteeism and illness-related absences which are way above the national averages. Needless to say, these impact on the quality of patient care. But it’s not terribly wise for any politician to even hint at this, as it will lead to accusations of the anathema of “secret privatisation plans”.*

Finally . . . A plug for a band which “plays Celtic music for those who hate Celtic music but love rock”. This is a group of my younger daughter’s US friends called Scythian, whose Immigrant Road Show can be heard here. The Washington Post rightly called them “One of Washington's most energetic and eclectic bands”. For an indication of their virtuosity, click here and, if you can’t wait, go to minute 4.26 of Gypsy Fiddle. Or take a dip into this YouTube search, where you can hear Danny Boy like it's never been done before. It’d be good if someone reading this can help me get them an invitation to next year’s festival of Celtic music in Ortigueira. Failing that, to at least one Fiesta or another in Galicia.

* Postscript: I've since read this interesting article on this subject.


ointe said...

This qipsy looks terribly like an old russian song "ojos negros" was called in spanish, if I remember well. Thanks, these guys were unknown for me. AND they are good. I agree, they are a good choice for Ortigueira´s festival.

Regarding hating or loving some types of music. This is of course a personal option, but I wonder how this love/hate is closely related to nationalities most of the time.

On new traffic radar detectors, they are now very little and black. Have the size of an old photocell, public light controller. Good luck shooting them! They are supossedly repaired, calibrated and sourced by a private spanish company, but "used" by DGT. Your fines go to Madrid directly. In Galicia, traffic is not managed as in Catalonia, we have not this "duties" by now. Central government on Madrid takes care of our "traffic security".

Eamon said...

I bought an automatic light switch today so I could have the light in the hallway come on when I entered and shut off after a few minutes.
"Using Instruction for.
Plese read carefully the following before using and retain for the future reference.
1. Fine appearance, the surface design is comely and generous, the style is elegant.
2. Electrician or experienced human can install it.
3. The unrest objects can not be regarded the installation basis-face.
4. There is not hinder or unrest objects effecting detection in front of the detection window.
5. Do not open the case for your safety if you find the hitch after installation."

Being an experienced human I have installed the switch and it works fine.

Ferrolano said...

Ointe, your comment about the new radar detectors reminds me of something that happened a number of years ago when working in Zambia. The local police in Chingola had just received a money making new toy, in the form of a radar speed detector, which was great until it stopped working. The most hi-tech place in the area was the electrical department of a local copper mine and they took the device there for help. The engineer in charge, from the UK, recognized the problem and advised the police that he would have to obtain spare parts from the original manufacturer in England. The process took nearly nine months to get a new battery set. The local population were very happy!

MTT, I thought for a minute, when reading your comment, that you were describing one of the new radar detectors that ointe mentioned – just think, you could be ticketed for speeding through your hallway. The fines of course to pay your electricity bill.

Midnight Golfer said...

@mike: How were the Spanish instructions?

@Colin: For some reason, when I got up this afternoon, my wife was trying, unsuccessfully, to tune in to a local radio station that plays popular flamenco music. It reminded me of when we lived back in the States, and would practically wear-out her CDs that had artists like Pastora Soler, Nina Pastori or Alba Molina, whenever she was feeling homesick.

So, now we're in Spain, whenever I'm feeling the 'blue Virginia blues,' I find myself getting out the Alison Krauss and Union Station, or Rhonda Vincent and the Rage CDs, and going for a drive.



Back when we lived in Virginia, my Dad would play the Stained-Glass Bluegrass show on the radio as we drove to church on Sundays, and my Mom would put on the Thistle & Shamrock show on the drive home.

I got back from my own drive today, and started following your links, and listening to this music done by these Scythian guys, and it was truly a nice touch, and well timed.
I've been reading about Alan Lomax, and wondering if he wouldn't have tried getting a couple of Ukrainians to "sing into his can."


Also, anybody know why this song seems so prevalent in Spanish pop culture?


Eamon said...

There were no other instructions in the box and having studied the box and switch there are no markings as to where or who manufactured the switch. It does have a CE approval marking plus others. I bought it in a junk shop so I guess the original owner didn't leave the full instructions in the box and the Spanish instructions were worse than the English so he didn't bother trying to fit the swtich.

Eamon said...

Yes I could set the timer so that anyone who doesn't clear the hallway in time ends up in the dark and has to pay a small fee at the other end.

ointe said...


Ahem, just to give you a good target, fifth row of photos on:


And of course, the radar detector is conical not hemispherical. I have even today an old photocell light controller from GE. Same size.

You can see some models more, just in case you need home-speed limits with a choice on $:


Unfortunately, here they have a good repair service, and of course plenty of money to spend on a good maintenance plan.

Also, for some of you will be good to know that the next expansion in bussiness by DGT don´t need even investment. There are plans to restrict or forbid the use of GPS navigators. They will let you have one, but switched off to not distract you while driving, or at least these are the plans.

Regarding instruction manuals, they are, as the schematics, supervised to be appropiate by Ministerio de Industria. The fact is, however, that a large part of them seem to be translated with automatic translators or in a hurry. You can have movement-activated light switches by about 5eur. new here. Seem to be little margin for investment on some "details" because they ,almost all, are manufactured in China.

For those that don´t hate music:






Music is one of these things that make you feel in home...or not.

ointe said...

Otchi tchornia (black eyes->ojos negros....or gipsy fid...) in red.


"Also, anybody know why this song seems so prevalent in Spanish pop culture?

May be because it´s well timed and structured: