Monday, September 09, 2013

Property; Global Warming; Jews; Sin Carnés; Quandaries; and Gib;

Property: 70% of purchases in Spain are said to be in cash. And 17% are bought by foreigners. If we assume all the foreigners have overseas mortgages which count as cash, this would reduce the cash percentage to 53% for Spaniards. If, however we assume, foreigners are excluded from the cash category, then for 83% of total domestic sales, 88% are in cash. Which seems high. But, then, so does 53%. Money laundering??

Global Warming: There's a problem. This year there's been a 60% increase in sea ice. And some folk believe there'll be a cool period between now and 2050. Others are not so pessimistic and see this lasting for only 5 or 15 years. In the official jargon, there has been a "pause" in global warming, starting in 1997. Set against the acute energy crisis which is said to have replaced debt problems as the biggest concern of the EU, there are now senior voices in Brussels asking whether the "quixotic dash for renewables" shouldn't be reconsidered. I wonder if this means they'll be pulling down the 70 turbines I can see from my window, albeit comfortably far away in the hills.

There's a series on BBC2 called The History of the Jews. And fascinating stuff it is too, especially when, as last night, the presenter, Simon Schama, is talking about Sephardic Spain. One critic has described Schama as "cosmopolitan and intellectual", adding that these adjectives are 'patrician-English raised-eyebrow euphemisms for Jewish'. I didn't know that. Perhaps because I'm not Jewish. Though I have been asked a few times whether I am. Most memorably by a merry chap on a plane from London to Tehran who kept asking me whether I was 'a member of the old tribe'.

I've long been concerned that Spain allows people to drive micro-cars(sin carnés) on major roads without the need for any training whatsoever. So I can't say I was surprised to read last week that 2 people in one of these had died when hit by a motorcyclist as their car was doing a U-turn. Very probably where it shouldn't have been doing so.

A quandary (courtesy of Steven Pinker):- If you could only rescue one child from a fire by going through either Door A or Door B and Door A led to your own child, which door would you go through? If your answer is also A if there are 10 children to be saved through Door B, how many children would there have to be through Door B for you not to go through Door A?

And another quandary: What would happen to the economy of Gibraltar, if Spain were to take over the place? Surely Spain would close down the gaming industry and also stop all the financial activities it complains of. And increase corporate taxes to the same level as Spain. So, reduced employment and reduced investment, set against the background of higher taxes. To do otherwise would be to merit the criticism of hypocrisy. I guess one can easily understand the antipathy of the locals to this equalisation by levelling down.

Finally . . . I leave you with a sensible letter to Sunday's El País from someone who lives, I believe, in Algeciras. The second para is written in the past tense but I wonder whether it isn't really a dream for the future. Perhaps you can do this in Spanish. The translation is basically from Google, touched up by me where incomprehensible.

The width of Gibraltar

Given its frontier nature, Algeciras has always had a strong immigrant element: Moroccan, English, Catalan, Italian, Maltese. The city reached its apogee during its Islamic period, three centuries have passed and the vicinity of Gibraltar has given us freedom, rights, solidarity and work. The Liberals escaped via Gibraltar in the 18th century and the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War; we obtained penicillin and powdered milk in times of war and we have accessed the rights of civil marriage and divorce.

There was once a Spanish negotiator, an English one, a Moroccan and a Gibraltan. What were we negotiating with the British government? The status of autonomy, independence, borders, shared management of ports and airports, compliance with international standards, environmental protection. And with the Moroccan Government: Saharan independence, control illegal immigration.

I believe we must overcome any temptation towards national patriotism that does not correspond with the challenges with which we currently live, such as global citizenship in civil and social rights .

These macro-negociations must be accompanied by agreements on matters of micro-interest, such as on collaboration between the Andalucian and Gibraltan public education systems. This educational project should facilitate an authentic Spanish -English bilingual education that would make our youth more competitive in the labour market. We should do the same with the Arabic language and culture, so close yet so unknown to most people in the Andalucian region of Campo de Gibraltar .

The proximity of these two socio-cultural realities is an important opportunity for employment and for the development for the area. In Cádiz province the unemployment rate is almost double the national rate.

We must address this situation with ideas and actions that are imaginative and which display solidarity and that potentiate the unique opportunities this region has. And, like trilingual education, would equalise per capita income, employment rates, taxes, regulation and environmental control in this area of tri-coloured Spain.

Reading the final para, you might have asked yourself: "Isn't there an adjective from the word 'solidarity'"? Well, if there is, I can't find it. But, in looking, I came across this interesting site on Missing words in English. There really are some, despite the language's vast vocabulary. And I don't just mean another 12 words for 'snow'.

But English does, of course, have a never-ending conveyor belt of new words. The latest for me is webinar. A seminar held via the internet.


santcugat said...

Considering that the ice levels in 2012 were the lowest ever recorded, some kind of small bounce back wasn't unexpected.

Azra said...

I read (in our news) that Spain is so peeved off with the UK, the foreign minister (or someone of the sort) has publicly declared Spains support or Argentina in the Falklands issue.

And Russia backing Syria? If I was more pessimistic, I'd say it smells like World War 3 on the horizon.

Colin said...

Yes, it's true that the Spanish Foreign Minister publicly assured Argentina of Spain's support.

Syria is an utter mess but I don't see it resulting in a war. No one wants it. Everyone has too much to lose.

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