Friday, February 12, 2010

The bail-out. President Zapollyanna. Colonisation. And Cats.

To bail out or not to bail out? That was the question. And it seems that, so far at least, the dour Germans have restrained the impulsive French from saying anything calculated to frighten the horses in Berlin. Meaning that caution has triumphed over expediency. And that economics has already caught up with politics. The result is disappointment, confusion and a fall in both the stock markets and the euro. Or, at least, this was the situation a few hours ago. It could well have changed since then. In the words of one commentator - "They offered nothing. It was just words without any concrete measures, hoping to buy time." Leaving our Ambrose to opine – “There was an element of bluff in the accord, as if the EU leaders hope to muddle through with ‘constructive ambiguity’ fingers crossed that their vague political pledge will never be tested. Bluff is a valid tool of statesmanship but in this case their bluff could be called very soon.” Quite possibly it has been by the time your read this.

Meanwhile . . . Another gem from President Zapollyanna. Calling for hard work on the part of his compatriots, he insisted that - "The solvency and solidity of our country is obvious." Well, no it isn’t, amigo. Even worse, as The Economist says here, one of the reasons for this is that you are incompetent. As ever, the comments to this article are most illuminating.

I’ve just started on a monumental work comparing the Spanish and British colonial expansion into America in the 16th and 17th centuries. I was intrigued to learn that the famous urban-centricity of the Spanish was already well-established even back then. And that there was a great deal more bureaucracy involved in emigrating from Spain than from Britain. Specifically, you could only leave Spain from Sevilla and, before doing so, you had to fill in a number of forms. So, I wonder what the Medieval Spanish was for the regular refrain of the modern job-preserving Spanish funcionario - “Le falta uno, usted” (You’re missing a document, Sir). All that said, the author adds that the restraints were less than totally effective. Forms could be forged and officials bribed. Plus ça change, then.

Finally . . . I read recently that one of the oddest things about the internet is the popularity of pictures of cats. Including fotos of felines who resemble Adolf Hitler. Or ‘kitlers’ as they’re known. Click here for more on this.

And here for a wonderful rural retreat in Galicia for your summer holidays.

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