Wednesday, October 28, 2009

El País today reports that the smaller members are ganging up to stop Mr Blair (memorably a ‘gilipollas integral’) being elected the first President of the EU. Our Tony is not universally loved in the UK either, as this amusing article shows. Another piece in the same paper – from a left-of-centre commentator – argues that Blair’s (dubious) qualities are just what Europe needs. But you’ll have to dig out this for yourselves. The writer does say, though, that “It’s by no means in the bag. Front-runners rarely win these jobs. The one-blackball system tends to favour dullards and mediocrities: often former Benelux leaders.” Personally, I tend to the view that, whatever they say in public, the big beasts of Europe will not want to be overshadowed by a well-known personality in their dealings with Washington, Moscow and Beijing. In other words, as in so many other fields, the outcome will be the result of the pettiest of feelings.

BTW - Any perceived pun between gilipollas and 'member' in the last paragraph was totally unintended.

Yesterday I touched on the subject of Economics, disagreeing with Edward Hugh that this ‘science’ had recently become less dismal. In the way these things happen, I read in this article this morning that Economics is moving away from the discredited obsession with mathematical models to “re-create an academic discipline capable of explaining reality and offering useful advice to policymakers facing unexpected events.” Let’s hope so. Without holding our breath.

I mentioned the other day that Spanish banks continue to offer all sorts of gifts as inducements to the opening of an account. Usually household goods of some sort. I see this has now been taken to an extreme which is possibly logical when interest rates are so low. Banco Pastor is offering a deposit which rewards you, after 12 or 18 months, not with cash but with a whole set of domestic appliances, or a flat-screen TV, or a sewing machine, or jet spray, etc.

Talking of banks, I’ve now transferred my savings from one bank in town to another. And in doing so have discovered a useful tip – Don’t make the transfer yourself, as at least your ex-bank with charge you for this. Handsomely. And possibly your new one as well, though this abominable practice seems to have died out. If your new bank makes the transfer request, it costs you nothing. Now, the only question is whether, between them, they’ll take less than 6 working days to move the cash across the five metres that separates them. Even if this is done by the pressing of a couple of keyboard keys. And even if I could move the cash myself in less than an hour. Incidentally, and perhaps wrongly, I went for the cash, at 3.2%. Or almost three times what my existing bank could offer. Were they relying on inertia? Or personal fidelity? God forbid.

Walking past the library today, I noticed there was an exhibition in the hall. This turned out to be about the Galician language, Gallego. And it dealt in some depth on its origins, rise, decline and its resurgence of recent centuries. I read some of the panels and brought home the literature to read at leisure. Given that much of this was about the suppression of the language, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel sympathetic towards the protection and development of Gallego. But I’ve already said, on Sunday, that I do. Feel sympathetic, I mean. Not that I have a heart of stone. Anyway, the fact it was all in Gallego left me wondering just who the target audience was. Surely, there must be some desire to change the attitudes of speakers of Spanish. Unless, I suppose, you really want to reach the children and young adults using the library. Or maybe the simple answer is that the exhibition wouldn’t have got finance from the various sponsor organisations and councils if Spanish translations were given.

Finally . . . Apologies to anyone who wanted to make comments to this blog but didn’t want to register. I really only wanted to (reluctantly) initiate Moderation but it seems I (unwittingly) restricted access in the process.


sean said...

Hi, Colin
Thought I'd check out why you felt constrained to moderate-out the ill-mannered Cade. I also checked out his new self-agrandising blogspot - dear me. It was significant that the majority of the comments were from Cade himself, as you have said, vilifying anyone who has the temerity to hold a different view from himself on any subject. Perhaps Cade's blogspot is the electronic age's version of Bedlam, where members of the blogging public can go and laugh at the poor madman . . ? He's been quiet on his own site since his "rant of rants" on Tuesday - I'll check on the bile and invective tomorrow. Hey, since I also live in the UK, perhaps I could go and "knock on his door" and discuss his (lack of) manners face to face? No mention of any Nationalism in this post, you notice, just a cold fury that Cade considers he is entitled to his opinion, but anyone else is not.
Totsiens, Seamus

Midnight Golfer said...

I wish I had something on topic to add, which should have been easy, given the large number of topics you cover, but the other day you mentioned the possibility of changing to Vodafone DSL.
It got me thinking. And doing. I am now experimenting with the their modem/router right now, and the experience has been shocking enough to warrant commenting back on your blog, if only to say that I was wrong.
First, I didn't realize that they offer dual 3G/DSL in the same deal. (Cell phone network data plus normal DSL, literally connected together, by USB)

Second, I had no idea that they could actually get such high speeds out of a tiny little USB modem, which actually surpass the speed I used to get from Jazztel, back in my old apartment (in this same building)

I haven't even gotten the DSL hooked up yet, which ironically requires a €40 fee paid to Telefonica, again. (How do they do it?!) But, with just the 3G I get a steady downstream speed of 2Mbps (peaking, and infrequently sustaining at 4Mbps.)

I am astonished, as the plans that I have for mobile data, with both Orange and Movistar (Yes, I am a glutton for punishment,) both run at about 0.2 Mbps, and max out at less than one. I expected so much less from Vodafone, and I still don't expect them to fix my very odd DSL lack of coverage problem, but now my lost hope as been weakly re-kindled.

The only problem with the 3G (from any of the carriers I've tried?)... uploads peak at about 0.2 Mbps, and sustained is both much less and much less stable, making VPNing into work a pain in the neck.

Thanks, Colin for giving me a place to vent about this stuff, and I'll keep you posted about how the DSL ends up working.

A complicated way to find out if the Vodafone 3G will work, as you probably already know: Find someone with a Vodafone mobile phone (or even better data plan) and have them visit the location you plan on using the modem, if you do sign up with Vodafone, and see if they have coverage. Otherwise, I'm not sure what the Right of Rescission laws are like in Spain. In most places I've lived in the U.S. you can legally get out of a contract, within 3 days of the time you sign it, as long as you return anything you got, in the same condition you received it, which could give you enough time, if you picked the modem up in person at the Vodafone store, on the same day you signed the contract. But, again, I don't know what the laws are like here (one of the many reasons that they let me go from my las job in construction management in Madrid. (I probably ought to brush up on my contract law, now that new housing starts are looking like they might rebound.)

Colin said...

Hi, Seamus

Thanks for this,

Yes, he’s really something isn’t he. I’m told he’s made a totally gratuitous attack on poor Liliana. And perhaps others. But, frankly, I’m bored stiff by him now, while encouraging readers to take at least one look at his web page, to get the true cut of his jib.

I guess you’ll be taking a knobkierie with you should you go to knock on his door. As it happens, I made one of these for myself a while back and took it out with me yesterday when walking my dog.


PS Wanted to add a pic of my stick but it doesn't seem possible here.

Colin said...

Thanks, MG. I’m very interested in your Vodafone experience, as it might mean getting away from Telefonica for my (few) landline calls. My understanding is that you’re happy so far but haven’t yet tested the DSL element. This is the one, I guess, which allows you to make (free) landline calls. And to cancel your contract with Telefonica.

As for the uploading speed, when does this really cause problems? When you are sending stuff?

I wonder about your test for coverage. When I first spoke to Vodafone, they told me they didn’t have coverage where I live, even though their mobile phones work here. Then, a couple of weeks ago, they told me they now have coverage. I’m guessing it depended in some way on Telefonica. I really need someone who’s done it successfully to confirm that everything works.

Thanks for the warning that Telefonica will charge me 40 euros for making the switch. This hasn’t been mentioned by Vodafone.


mike the trike said...

This must be the web's only unique blog. You can post a comment on here and go to another blog and read a response. I was just over there and apparently there is a character who has three different identities and posts comments. Well as the blog is written by a group I guess a person with a head problem is in the right place to be posting comments on that blog.

Search This Blog