Monday, November 04, 2013

Corruption; Bertrand Russell; Roadworks; Islamic art; and Britain in the 50s.

Thinking (again) about Spanish corruption this morning - see here and here - I came up with the acronym: WTP-TATSAEO. Or "What's the point? They're all the same as each other". As you'll have realised, I was searching for a term to describe the Spanish attitude to action against their country's endemic corruption. Which, I believe, we've all been pretty shocked to find was even worse than we all thought. This acronym, I admit, is a tad unwieldy. So has anyone got a better alternative than 'abject resignation', preferably as an acronym that rolls off the tongue?

Personally, what I find hardest to take about Spain's politico-business nexus is that its members not only are corrupt but they know we know they're corrupt and couldn't care less. Blatant disdain, in other words. And I bet the corrupt cops spend longer in jail than any politician nabbed for fiddling ten times as much.

I'm reading this week the autobiography of the British philosopher, Bertrand Russell. This was published in 1951, when he was 80, and so far I've covered his childhood, his teens, his time at Cambridge and his letters to his (American) fiancee. I guess it's not too surprising that Russell writes in a style which owes more to the 19th than the 20th century but it's a shock to find him addressing his fiancee as thee and thou and using the adjectives thy and thine. Even if his letters were written in 1894. Which is quite a long time ago. The other odd thing about Russell is not how clever he is but how aware how clever he is and how he tells us how clever he is without coming across as arrogant or vain. Quite a trick. Possibly only doable if you're as clever as Russell was. Which rather narrows it down.

When they announced 2 weeks ago that the works to be done on water supply in my barrio would cause problems, I'm not sure they had any idea what they were letting themselves in for. They quickly ceded to pressure and permitted a rat run from the roundabout by the bridge which wasn't in their plans (largely, I think, because drivers were using it anyway and the Spanish can be very pragmatic). Now, though, it makes no sense at all for the bridge to stay closed for people coming from Pontevedra. This being so, it's also daft for the approach roads to be closed. So, the traders are up in arms about the business they're losing for no reason at all. And they're getting up a petition, which I signed this morning. This being Spain, not only did I have to give my name and signature but also my ID number. Why? The chances of anyone wanting to check names against ID numbers must be nil. But at least I didn't have to give my grandmother's maiden name.

I believe it's the Islamic new year around now - unlike Iran's, which is the spring equinox - and so I give you these 2 fotos of my favourite mosque in Iran - the Lotfallah mosque in Esfahan. Here and here.

Incidentally, my understanding is that Islamic artists put so much creative effort into their fabulous calligraphy and geometric art is that Islam forbids the depiction of God, Mohammed and, indeed, any sentient being. Having just gone to check this on Wiki, I found this article, which contains, coincidentally, a foto of the Lotfallah mosque. Someone must agree with me. Unless I wrote it . . . 

Finally . . . A book I finished last week was Family Britain, by David Kynaston. This is the second of a trilogy which massively covers Britain from 1945 to the 1970s. One of his major sources is the data from a country-wide continuing survey of peoples' attitudes, as noted in their diaries. I was taken with this response to the question of what the afterlife would be like, from a divorced working class woman of 41, living in Oldham - "Similar to here but no sex life." I'm not sure whether she was describing Heaven or Hell.

3 comments:

Azra said...

That mosque is beautiful... and yes it is the Islamic New Year, as well as the Hindu New Year as well (they fall on the same day this year - much like how Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day this year too).

Colin Davies said...

I thought Hannukah normally fell around Xmas. Seems to for my Jewish relatives.

Azra said...

"It happens once every 70,000 years. Here's everything you need to know about Thanksgivukkah: http://ti.me/18JnSJ3"

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