Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I think I've finally worked out how things work in Spain when you're a pedestrian waiting to cross the road and the traffic lights are flashing orange. If you wait patiently, no car will stop for you until the last moment of recorded time. But, if you place a foot on the tarmac, there's every chance the next car will stop and let you cross. And, once on the road, there's also a good chance the car coming the other way won't run you down. When I mentioned this to my visiting daughter today, she said “Well, of course. It fits with the basic principle of Spanish life that it's down to the individual to make his or her own way in life. They can't expect the consideration of others.” Such cynicism in one so young. Must be living in Madrid that does it.

It's good to hear that Spanish is the third most used language on the internet and the second most used on social networks. I have to say, though, I'm surprised it wasn't first on the latter, which are essentially talking in another guise.

Talking about Spanish . . . I came across the verb Resetear today, in an IT context. I don't think it's yet had the (pointless) approval of the Academia Real de le Lengua Española but I think we can be sure it'll thrive despite this.

So the European Court of Human Rights has disagreed with the highest British court and adjudicated that employees can wear crucifixes even when their employers (in this case British Airways) are concerned this will cause offence. I wonder if this ruling is Christian-centric or whether it will apply equally to atheists – whatever they may wear – or devil worshippers sporting an image of, say, a baby on a stick being roasted. This is not just of academic interest because, as I said yesterday, I was impressed to learn of how much money the Rev Moon made for himself and am thinking of starting a new non-Jewish, non-Christian, non-Islamic faith. I've been watching how American preachers sell the Financial Bible on the TV – on which more later – and I've picked up a marketing trick or two. Now comes the more difficult part of developing a theology and making myself charismatic. I should be ready by the middle of the year.

I've voiced the opinion that Madrid is not handling the Cataluña problem at all well. Nor the (very much smaller) Gibraltar issue either. Here's the far more eloquent view of Matthew Parris on the former. By the by, Parris is a frequent visitor to this region/nation as he has family there:- The Catalan bid for independence has been handled shockingly by Madrid. . . . Come here to Catalonia to see in all its horror the mess our European partners can make of democracy. The Kingdom of Spain, under a fiscally prudent, free-market, anti-big-government administration that I ought to support, is in the process of wrecking the delicate internal balances on which this fragile union of peoples and languages depends. The nation’s devolutionary settlement is edging towards a cliff. This could destroy Spain. They are making every mistake in the book . . . Plainly (to outsiders such as me) it’s time for Madrid to start a negotiation, hard-bargained on both sides, for fiscal devolution. Instead, Madrid has begun a hot-headed bout of sabre-rattling. . . . It’s Madrid that must now rise above this stupid impasse; Madrid that must find some generosity of spirit and retreat half a pace. Otherwise opinions will polarise as I now observe them to be polarising — fast — and the centre will crack. The shock waves could spread right across Europe. So, will Madrid do it? I have my doubts. But maybe someone will have a word or two in Rajoy's ear at the next EU summit.

Finally . . . Here's Simon Barnes' view on a question which some of us have been asking for some time about football. Or 'soccer', as our cousins insist on calling it:- It is impossible for the referee to see everything on a pitch, no matter how fit, now matter how skilled. It’s physically impossible. It’s also physically impossible for an assistant to be consistently accurate about offside: the human eye can’t focus on two things — like a ball and a running player — All other sports are doing all they can to rule out errors, by electronic and other means. Alone in sport, football embraces error. And football, unique among team ball sports, is frequently decided by a single incident, a single decision. Football actively seeks out error. Why?

I guess one good answer is – A tradition of stupidity and a ludicrous desire not to interrupt the flow of the game. But change will come. Eventually.

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