Thursday, November 06, 2014

Spanish discourse; Spanish insults; Economic growth; The casta; Teaching morality; Cataluña; & Chaucer.

The Spanish word discusión doesn't mean 'discussion' but 'argument'. Which probably appropriate, given the way things are commonly discussed. Loudly and simultaneously. It doesn't take long for Spanish opponents to get ad hominem. And you quickly learn as a foreigner that, firstly, you don't have a right to participate as you're not Spanish and, secondly, the best thing you could do is to go back to your own country and criticise issues there. It's almost as if Spaniards were natural trolls even before the internet came along.

Having just insulted (some) Spaniards, I'm making amends by citing this list from The Local of the 10 things you shouldn't say to a Spaniard.

I don't think it was long ago that the Spanish government was crowing about higher forecasts for economic growth this year. But the EU Commission has now sprinkled cold water on this parade. We face years of pain, it says, having substantially reduced its previous forecasts.

By the way - The Russian RT TV channel attributes the EU's woes to the slowdown produced by the sanctions on Russia. The other point they laughably stressed this morning is that a free media is essential. Not the one used by the (US) government to snoop on you.

If you read the Reuters article yesterday, you'll know that the Spanish commercio-political nexus is universally referred to as la casta. Or 'the caste.' The (very) privileged few. Many with connections going back to the Franco era and beyond. And displaying the nepotism and croneyism for which, sadly, Spain is justifiably famous. Will Pablo Iglesias and Podemos clean out the Augean stables? I fear not. So, who or what will? Dunno. The EU? I rather doubt it. I mean, it's not as if the institution's dubious accounts have been auditor-approved for almost 20 years now.

In bribe-ridden countries, politicians are are said to be suffering from a form of desert disease - sticky palms. This is a reference, of course to the custom of taking, in the case of Spain, 2 or 3% off the top of each contract 'adjudicated' by the national, regional or local governments. Of these, the possibly pointless regional governments are said to be the worse. Our local government is not thought to be corrupt but the reason for this, a friend claims, is that the mayor is too stupid to be corrupt. Which I'm sure is not true.

A few days before it's scheduled to take place, on Sunday next, Spain's Constitutional Court - again acting with unusual speed - has declared illegal Cataluña's planned vote on secession. Even if it's informal and non-binding. Notably, though, it hasn't warned the Catalan President that he'll be keel-hauled, if it does take place. As it surely will. So, what happens then? I don't think anyone has any idea but I hope the Spanish President has a Plan B, involving Devolution Max. His Plan A ("You will not do anything!") has been a comprehensive failure. Some say the Catalan President will be arrested for the crime of civil disobedience. And there are reports that armoured cars are being sent to the North East but I don't believe either of these.

The slow death of religion in the West has produced, they say, a moral vacuum in which a child is likely to tell an adult "That's just your view", if given any moral guidance. So, there's talk of putting Morality in the school curriculum. Spain has already tried this with the subject of Citizenship and Human Rights. This was introduced by the last left-of-centre PSOE government in 2007 but has since been modified by the current right-of-centre PP party. Thus neatly demonstrating the problem of teaching Morality in schools.

Talking of political parties . . . The Spanish branch of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has been registered here in Spain. At the moment it doesn't have either a website nor a public program. But it does have a Twitter account. Such are the times.

Finally . . . Dipping into Chaucer yesterday - as you do - I found that the word for a cheek-pillow back then was 'wonger'. Shame we lost it. I also discovered that the past participle of 'glide' used to be 'glood'. Which is rather nice. Better than 'glided'. Of course, past participles can be a challenge in English. British and American versions differ at times, for example 'to spit' (spat, spit), 'to get' (got, gotten) and 'to fit' (fitted, fit). Such fun.

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