The noise in Spain: Entering my Sunday wifi café this morning, I (unwisely) chose a table close to a solitary woman who was on her mobile phone and talking without taking breath. By which I mean shouting and, yes, gesticulating. Over the next 15 minutes, I moved twice to get away from her incessant 60-decibel prattle. Without too much success, as her 'private' conversation reverberated around the place. As my brother says, it's amazing what you see when you don't have your rifle with you. Though I think he was talking about rabbits and such. But I dunno . . . London slang for talking too much is 'rabbiting”.
While in the café, I watched today's encierro from Pamplona. Funny thing is that, at one second to eight, there's a line of sturdy policemen, with linked arms, holding back the [insert word of choice] who are straining to be trampled or gored by the bulls released at exactly eight o'clock. But at one second past eight, there's no sign of the cops. They must have a special exit which all ten of them can get through at lightning speed. Don't believe me? Click here and scroll down to the second video. Stay tuned for the tramplings.
Here's another video. This time of someone's idea of funny moments from the Tour de France. I have to admit I laughed only thrice but you may manage more.
In this article, the writer describes the pressures applied from Brussels to force the flying of the EU flag. Funnily enough, they mirror the exact pressure exerted by the Galician government in respect of the (non)nation of Galiza. So, two zeitgeists heading for a clash. As in Cataluña, Serbia, Cornwall, Scotland, etc., etc. Wonder what the outcome will be.
As for the Murdoch saga, here are some fascinating observations by Matthew d'Ancona of the Daily Telegraph:- “This is not the first time the 80-year-old tycoon has faced such adversity, and those who despise him would do well not to confuse their longing for his downfall for its likelihood. This is not Murdoch’s first rodeo, and it won’t be his last. But it is more than a collective moral outburst. In a sense, Murdoch is a victim of the very cultural revolution he helped to bring about. We are no longer a deferential nation and, aided by the information revolution, we insist on seeing the inner wiring of our institutions and professions.” Stealing my (not very original but favourite) Murdoch phrase, D'Ancona adds that “In the ferocious days ahead, true leadership will be shown by those who can distinguish between morality and mob rule.” More here.
On the broader picture, Janet Daley comments that “The truth is that for all its adversarial and investigatory strengths – which are considerable – British political journalism is basically a club to which politicians and journalists both belong. There is a degree of cosy camaraderie between the press and the governing class in this country which my American journalist friends find startling. . . . the blurring of distinctions between commentator and player, or between political correspondent and party adviser, which is a regular feature of Westminster life would be seen in the US as a breach of probity on both sides. . . It is this familiarity, this intimacy, this set of shared assumptions (about, for example, what is politically possible) between almost everyone who participates actively in the business of Westminster which is the real corruptor of political life”. This cosy club is “more dangerous than statutory repression of the press, which is overt, clear-cut and susceptible to change. What should worry us are not new, restrictive laws – which can be fought out in the open – but the old consensual complacency, which is so familiar that it is almost invisible.”
Talking of the media . . . If there's one thing a subscription to News Now will do for you it's display just how much 'churning' of stuff there is around the Anglo world. An item appearing in one paper on Sunday can appear in dozens of others – masquerading as original – on Monday. So I wasn't surprised to see these claims made somewhere yesterday:- “Where once we were active gatherers of news, we have become passive processors of second-hand material generated by the booming PR industry and a handful of wire agencies, most of which flows into our stories without being properly checked. The relentless impact of commercialisation has seen our journalism reduced to mere churnalism . . . All local and regional media outlets in Britain - print and broadcast - have been swamped by a tide of churnalism. The scale and quality of coverage has been swept away. But the tide has not stopped in the provinces. The big national outlets can still support some real journalism, but here too, churnalism has swept through newsrooms. The result is that 80 per cent of [Fleet Street's] news is wholly, mainly or partially made up of second-hand material from PR and PA companies”. Small wonder that journalism is such a discredited profession, even if it remains true that the UK has the best national press in the world. Which it probably does. As well as the worst.
On the travails of the eurozone, AEP reports the chief Europe economist at RBS saying "We believe the European sovereign crisis might be entering a new phase with contagion reaching the larger economies. It is unclear to us how this latest negative shock to confidence is going to be undone in the absence of a 'shock and awe' policy response." AEP then asks "What can the eurozone now do to trump its last 'shock and awe'?" More loan packages solve nothing. Pretending that this is just a liquidity crisis will no longer wash. What it will take is a belated recognition by Germany that this crisis is not a morality tale contrasting virtuous, thrifty Teutons, with feckless Greco-Latins and Guinness-befuddled Celts, but rather a North-South structural crisis caused by the inherent workings of monetary union. The implications of this are profound. Germany must now be willing either to buy or guarantee Spanish and Italian debt, and in doing so to cross the Rubicon to fiscal and political union, or accept that EMU must break up with calamitous consequences for German foreign policy. Large matters, beyond the intellectual vision of Germany's current leaders.” Has anyone opened a book on this?
Finally . . . Though I've known for a while that, while Spanish is a 'syllable-timed' language and English is a 'stress -timed' language, I hadn't put two and two together in the case of Spanish pronunciation of the titles of English pop songs. These are nearly always butchered because every syllable is pronounced equally, in a monotone. As Spanish titles would be. When I next hear an example, I'll cite it.
By the way . . . There's an excellent way to demonstrate the practical effects of the difference between syllable and stress-timed languages. But I'll leave that for later this week. Meanwhile, I'm content to have confirmed my suspicion that Portuguese is an exception to the rule that all Romance languages are syllable-stressed. Fascinatingly, though, Brazilian Portuguese isn't. Which is why it's so much easier to follow and why it sounds like Gallego.
BTW 2: If you like this sort of stuff, here's the rules about stress in English. About which I had no idea until just now . . . .
Finally, finally . . . . I've just seen this and have to share it with you. By pure coincidence, it comes after a little exercise I was doing last night, as I walked through Pontevedra's streets – trying to find a car that didn't have all four corners scratched. In truth, there were one or two.