Spain's 2011 deficit turns out to have been 8.5% of GDP, against the forecast/promise of the (devil-may-care?) outgoing government of 6%. The number is higher than Brussels was expecting and will make it even harder for the new PP government to reduce 2012's deficit to something near the Brussels-dictated figure of 4.4%. Without growth (Ha Ha), it can only mean higher taxes and additional public spending cuts. Not exactly a recipe for growth. But the taskmaster is not answerable to the Spanish public - or, indeed, to anyone - and so the pressure will be severe. Especially if Spain has a cap in her hands.
Having lived in Iran for 3 years, I like to think I don't regard either the country or its people in the way most commentators seem to. So I was pleased to read this article in The Independent today. And I had no difficulty in agreeing with the observations of the writer. Who also thinks we are sleepwalking towards "a futile war". As she wrote, "The comments yesterday of Israelis who saw A Separation and told an AP reporter they were surprised that Iranians had fridges and washing machines were saddening, and revealing." So, let's hope the Oscar-winning film A Separation really does do some good.
I enjoyed a BBC podcast today in which Britain's Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, politely crossed swords with Britain's most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins. Talking about the origins of life, the Rabbi said he had no problem with the theory of evolution but, of course, saw this as having been triggered by God, who then left it to proceed at its own pace without any interference from him. Sack's image, he said, was one of God the Celestial Gardener. Which prompted my image of God sitting in a deck chair twiddling his thumbs (assuming he has them) for several billion years while his garden just grew and grew.
Which reminds me . . . Reportedly 40% of the population of the USA believe the world is only 6,000 years old. Which helps to explain, I guess, why you have to 'do God' if you want to stand for President. Or, at the extreme, be a Mormon. Even if some Christians don't regard Mormons as their Christian brethren.
Finally . . . Yesterday, my friend Alfie Mittington's blog dealt with epitaphs. This put me in mind of a song I once heard about a cowboy famed for his large footwear. It was called Big Boots Don and was sung, as you may have guessed, to the tune of Big Bad John - performed here by Johnny Cash. Anyway, the relevant verse is the last one, which went like this:-
They buried Big Don day after he died
His boots, they were laid right close by his side
And this they wrote on the tomb of Big John
"Here lie three soles for the price of one"
Here's the email address of the writer, if you want to send him your appreciation of his ditty.