Saturday, January 25, 2014

Spanish politicos; Spanish mediocrity; The train crash;English neologisms; & Bullfighting.

Yesterday, I jotted this down for later refinement/expansion:- Once you realise that Spanish politicians are essentially there for the money they can make - legally or illegally - you can appreciate that parliament is merely theatre, where speakers are feigning concern for the masses while emptying the state's coffers. How serious internationally are Presidents (Aznar, Zapatero and Rajoy) who can't string an English sentence together? And then I got this commentary by the cartoonist Forges from my friend Dwight, wherein he makes the same comment about the Presidents, while adding another incumbent. Anyway, the commentary should be read for an understanding of why so many intelligent, well-educated and hard-working Spaniards despair of their country. There's a Google translation at the end of this post, which I haven't had much time to tart up. But it'll give you the gist. 

Talking of politicians . . . I caught a bit of David Cameron at Davos on the TV yesterday. He was finishing off his address and then taking questions. At which he was quite impressive, whether or not one agrees with this views. And I asked myself could I imagine President Rajoy, even in Spanish, being as adept at this sort of thing. Far from it, I decided. A wonderful example, I guess, of the mediocrity which Forges was talking about. Why would a nation vote for a party with a leader known to be so inept? Tribal loyalty, I guess. Being inadequate here doesn't lose you votes the way it does with, say, Ed Milliband. 

But the times they are a-changin', they say. And it will be fascinating to see how the new parties do in the upcoming European elections. Just as it will with UKIP in the UK. 

Talking of ineptitude . . . The relevant judge is getting his teeth into the issue of how and why the rail companies failed to heed their technician's warning that the Santiago curve was dangerous and needed the best security system installed on the track and trains. Three of the 10 managers who were sent the relevant memo claim they never got it. One again wonders whether we're expected to believe this tosh. Outside the court, the PP President of Galicia has resisted the demands for a parliamentary inquiry on the grounds that the mistakes happened under the previous PSOE government and he doesn't want to embarrass them. This response is so cynical and so untrue it's a surprise his nose doesn't now stretch to Paris. Or at least Oporto. 

 Talking of Portugal . . . I see it's perfectly permissible there to wear an earpiece when driving. Though not, of course, once you've crossed into Spain, the land of revenue collectors disguised as traffic cops. 

 Thanks to Davos and to David Cameron, I now know there are 2 new(ish?) verbs in English - To offshore and To re-shore. Investment, of course. And I've also learnt this morning of a new exclamation/adjective - meh. 1. Informal expression, suggesting lack of interest. 2. Uninspiring, unexceptional. 

 Finally . . . The Spanish state broadcaster has rejected demands that they don't show bullfights during the hours kids will be watching. "It does not affect children", say RTVE. Doubtless on the back of a huge amount of research. I wonder if it would say the same about embryos. 

The triumph of mediocrity
Those who know me know of my beliefs and ideologies. Above these, I think the time to be honest has come. It is in all points necessary to make a deep and sincere self-criticism, taking, without a precedent, and in all seriousness.

Maybe it 's time to accept that our economic crisis is that it goes beyond this or that political, greed of bankers or risk premium.

Assume that our problems cannot finish one game by switching to another, with another battery of emergency measures, with a general strike, or pouring into the streets to protest against each other.

Recognize that the main problem in Spain is not Greece, the euro or Mrs. Merkel.

Admitting to try to correct it, we have become a mediocre country. No country reaches such a condition overnight. Nor in three or four years. It is the result of a chain that starts at school and ends at the establishment.

We have created a culture in which the mediocre are the most popular students in school, the first to be promoted in offices, most are heard in the media and the ones who voted in the election, no matter what you do, someone whose political career or completely unknown, if any. Just because they are one of us.

We are so accustomed to our mediocrity that we have come to accept it as the natural state of things. Exceptions are almost always confined to sport, serve to deny the evidence.

- Mediocre is a country where people spend an average of 134 minutes a day in front of a TV showing mainly garbage.

- Mediocre is a country-wide democracy which has not had a single president who spoke English or had minimal knowledge of international politics, where politicians and senior practitioners lack the minimum educational background..

- Mediocre is the only country in the world in its rancid sectarianism, has managed to divide even associations of victims of terrorism.

- Mediocre is a country that has reformed its educational system three times in three decades to position its students at the tail of the developed world.

- Mediocre is a country that has two universities among the 10 oldest in Europe, but, however, has no single university among the top 150 in the world and forces its best researchers into exile to survive.

- Mediocre is a country with a quarter of its population unemployed, where however a neighbouring country's joke about our athletes is more reason to be outraged .

- Mediocre is a country where the brilliance of others causes suspicion, creativity is marginalized, if not stolen with impunity and sanctioned independence, no one is admitted to a party if dares disagree with mediocre leaders.

- Mediocre is a country whose public institutions are political leaders who, in 48% of cases, never exercised their professions, nor the exercise but found in the relevant policy and lucrative lifestyle.

- Mediocre is a country that has made mediocrity a great national aspiration, no complex persecuted by those thousands of young people looking to take the next place in the Big Brother competition by politicians who insult without providing an idea for bosses who surround themselves mediocrity to hide his own mediocrity, and students who ridicule hard work in their colleagues.

- Mediocre is a country that has allowed, encouraged and celebrated the triumph of mediocrity, leaving two options: leave or be swallowed up by the unstoppable tide of grey mediocrity.

- Mediocre is a country, which deny that for beautifully unapologetic their national emblem, needs sporting success for some motivation 


Anonymous said...

Victor B.

Anonymous said...

Un articulo muy indicativo y real de lo que está pasando en España. Ahora, la pregunta es: ¿Quién le pone cascabeles al gato?

SF Bay Area

JG said...

"Offshore" has existed for decades, but when I heard him use "re-shore" the other day I was surprised too. I suspect it's a word he and his advisors have made up. Although the concept is good- many voters would like the idea of jobs coming back from India and other countries in the east- it's not a great word in my opinion. It makes it sound like we want to just bring jobs back to "the shore", so that the likes of Bournemouth and Scarborough would be the Bangalores of the future... As for articulate politicians, I think the US has us beaten hands down. Not just Obama, but any mayor or governor who comes on TV to talk about a local crisis seems to be able to extemporise much more fluently than your average British MP or councillor. Maybe Americans are just better at talking.

markonsea said...

This may be at some difference with your own views, Colin, but - rather like that thing about Catalan secession you had a few posts back which you pretended was about Scotland - as I read Forges I couldn't help thinking how much of what he said applied equally strongly to the UK. Disaffected German youth in the 60s had an expression Massenverblödung, which Englishes as "mass stupefaction [by a self-serving press]". Maybe a country gets the press it deserves; maybe not.

Colin Davies said...

JG. Agree entirely. Though I don't think I've heard offshore used as a verb before.

Colin Davies said...

@Markonsea: Well . . . maybe. But I've lived in hierarchical societies, feudal societies and non-meritocratic societies and , thanks to its lack of major developments - Reformation, 18th/19th century democracy, attacks on corruption, for example - Spain is rather more like these than it is like, say, England. And you really have to live and work in a non.meritocratic society to know how what a curse it is for the 10-20% who work hard and deserve more. I don't think O've ever heard the UK described as non-meritocratic.

Anonymous said...

I agree on mediocrity, but cannot understand (and completely desagree) why it is a problem they don't know English. Translators/Interpreters exists and they are excellent professionals. Why is not a problema that Cameron do not speak a word of Spanish?

With that statement you start a dangerous hierarchy where one language is more than another (I've noticed that in other posts, when writing that Spanish has got less words than English - OMG!, maybe you just don't know them all..).

Don't wanna be a troll but I needed to point it out. And apologizes for my English, I'm Galician and I do my best.

Colin Davies said...

I was afraid someone Spanish would take this the wrong way. I even considered saying the text that !I only say this, not because English is superior to Spanish or that it is obligatory but because English is now universally accepted as the world's lingua franca and it's a mark of a good education to be able to speak it. As was the case of Latin in the Middle Ages and French later. Which is why we learned French in School but now the kids learn the more useful language of Spanish.

As for the number of of words, there is official data and they all put English ahead of all other languages, partly because it is a bastard language and, these days, because it is the language of science, aviation, research, etc. etc. It tells you something about either the Presidents of the Spanish education system. Or both.

As for Mr Cameron learning Spanish (or any other language) - Why should he when he was lucky enough to learn as a kid the language that everyone in the world wants to learn?

I hope this explains my point. It was not an anti-Spanish or pro-English comment. No need to feel upset.:-)

Colin Davies said...

It tells you something about either the Presidents of the Spanish education system, or both, that none of them learned it.