Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Train trips; French exceptionalism; Grexit again; Spanish wit; & My morning vista.

I went to Vigo on the old track again yesterday, the one that gives you a truly magnificent view of 2 bays just a few metres away. The X-ray machine was covered up and I wondered whether this was because we weren't on the new fast (AVE) tracks. Getting on the train, I found my seat occupied but it didn't matter, as there were many free. I was reminded of when I went to see a football match in La Coruña and was given a seat in the gods, behind a bloody stanchion. But that didn't matter anyway, as I'd been told when I bought the ticket I could ignore the seat allocation and sit anywhere I liked. But, anyway, I came back from Vigo on the boring fast track but there was no X-raying of bags this time either. Has the terrorist risk eased from Code Orange to Code Green, I wondered. But will never know.

The French are losing various wars at the moment - particularly that of the world's lingua franca - but here's details of the latest one: Belgium has minted special €2.5 coins celebrating the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, after France forced it to scrap a planned €2 coin commemorating Napoleon’s defeat that would be usable across the Eurozone, as "it would cause an unfavourable reaction in France". Poor dears. Stuff how the Germans feel about all the D-Day anniversaries, etc. Will the French ever accept that Napoleon was a murderous tyrant as well as a brilliant military strategist? Or will they continue to live in their own little world?

As for Greece and the EU . . . I regularly quote the cynics' maxim that the consequences of every major reform are the opposite of those for which it was designed. I thought of this again when reading this insightful article on Grexit. As the author - Joseph Stiglitz - says:
  • The structure of the eurozone encourages divergence, not convergence.
  • The euro was supposed to strengthen European solidarity but has weakened it.
  • The single currency was supposed to bring unprecedented prosperity but it's difficult to detect a significant positive effect for the eurozone as a whole before the crisis; since then, the adverse effects have been enormous.
Stiglitz doesn't quite say it but he clearly thinks the founders of the EU were political visionaries but economic pygmies. Which is what I tried to tell my (ex?)reader Moscow some years ago. He, being an economist, kept telling me I was a fool. And the British would soon learn how mistaken they'd been to stay clear of the euro. I suspect they're still waiting to take this lesson on board.

It may or may not be my other ex-reader Cade of years ago, but it was nice to be reminded of how low Spanish wit can go by this comment to my blog yesterday: Fuck u british. Tell your women to change underwear. Pigs. I should explain that in Spanish, the feminine form of almost every animal (pig = cerda) means slut/whore. I wouldn't be surprised if this includes mosquita.

Finally . . . Not a bad view from one's bedroom on a hazy summer morning:

Footnotes: 1. My thanks to Rebecca for identifying San Roque as the chap in the Sunday procession. I should have remembered this from my recent sojourn in Salamanca and Zamora. 2. And thanks to Sally for citing (free) alternatives to Netflix. But I guess they need good wifi too.


sally said...

Our tv box works on 2mb wifi, so feel free if you want to call that fast!

Colin Davies said...

I ony get a quarter of that!

sally said...

Really? I thought ours was slow here in Samieira and we don't even have a fixed line!

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