Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Spanish practice; EUPolitics; British Politics; Questions; VW; & Snapping Sarah.

A Spanish Practice: Fair's fair, I've nicked this from Lenox's excellent Business Over Tapas Facebook page: The somewhat quixotic idea of an extra payment for the workers, the 'paga extraordinaria' – now extended to two payments, in June and December – began as a Christmas bonus of a week’s wage to workers, ordered by Franco’s Government in the winter of 1944. The edict was extended the following year and declared to be permanent. Two years later, in 1947, a similar payment was ordered to celebrate what would now be May Day, but was then the 18th of July (the date of the 1936 Coup d’état). After Franco’s death, this second payment was moved to June. In 1980, a new agreement with the unions, never altered to this day, changed the system of the ‘fourteen payments’, which could, as agreed by the workers, be paid either as twelve regular monthly or fourteen (irregular) payments, but, from a previously accorded annual payment. In reality, the workers are no longer paid more, but by spreading the payments in this way, the tax paid by the employers is actually slightly reduced. Further, as the government dropped the extra payments for the 'funcionarios' [civil servants] in 2012 (part of which they promise to make up just after the December elections), workers are effectively having the wool pulled over their eyes. One thing which we can expect from the Troika, sooner or later, will be an end to this odd system which originated as a workers’ bonus under Franco.

EU Politics: So what exactly is going to happen when several member states decline to implement the migrant quotas imposed on them by Brussels/Germany? Another nail in the supra-state coffin?

British-EU: Politics: Here's the Boiling Frog's take on the real chances of David Cameron achieving anything at all before a 2016/7 referendum on continuing membership. At best, he says, just a 'doggy bag' of Associate Membership. Cameron, he points out, has changed strategy at least three times, largely on the whim of the EU telling him what to do.

British Politics: If you haven't already scrolled down, here's an excellent overview from columnist Rachel Sylvester:-
  • Britain needs a liberal party that isn’t a joke.
  • There is a greater need than ever for a reasoned, liberal party that can question the tribalists on both left and right.
  • The terrorist threat combined with the internet age is stretching the balance between the rights of the individual and the duties of the state to breaking point.
  • Politics has become dominated by an increasingly illiberal and intolerant tone. The election of Corbyn as Labour leader has revived the “with us or against us” mentality of the hard left.
  • Anyone who disagrees with the true believers is condemned as “Tory scum” or worse. It is a politics of demonisation and division that mirrors the narrow-minded chauvinism of some on the right.
  • The Europe referendum will give the ideologues another reason to speak out.
  • The Twitter tirades of the Corbynistas, the Ukippers and the cybernats have a different political slant but the same disdain for dissent.
  • The hostility to what the Labour leader’s team call the mainstream media (MSM) is similar to the hatred of “establishment” journalists displayed by those around Nigel Farage. There is a shrillness — amplified in the echo chamber of social media — which fails to accept that decent people can simply have different opinions about things.
  • It’s all so black and white, when the truth is often fifty shades of grey.
  • Nick Clegg is right that there is a “place in British politics for tolerance, reason and compassion” and that a gap in the political market exists for a party that can offer those things.
  • If the Lib Dems are not up to it, and Labour does not come to its senses, there will be a chance for a new centre-left, liberal party to plug the gap.
  • The reconfiguration of politics may not be over yet.
British Politics 2: Reported comment from Nick Clegg:- The pig was lucky. Look what he did to me!

Question 1: Has anyone ever worked backwards from the lives of the longest-living to see just how many of today's myriad rules for a healthy life they've complied with?

Question 2: What the hell is a 'flat white'? Which reminds me, when I told a café owner yesterday it was confusing to be asked whether I wanted milk with a café Americano, she explained that no one in the UK knew the first thing about coffee terms and so she had to ask this whenever.

Volkswagen, eh?: Who'd have thought it? Well, anyone who's aware of just how many bribery scandals German firms are emboiled in, for a start. A nice comment from cartoonist Matt:-
We've found the problem. You're looking at £18 billion, plus parts and labour.

Finally . . . An Abject Failure: I took my mother to see her latest great-grandchild yesterday and to have lunch with my daughter in her local gastro-pub. The barmaid - Sarah - asked me if my mother was my wife. And this was just after I'd told her she reminded me of the gorgeous Audrey Hepburn. Sarah, that is. Not my mother. Anyway, she - Sarah again - was suitably embarrassed but nonetheless declined to let me take a foto of her face for this blog, to show that English women can be just as pretty as las españolas. Or even of just her large brown eyes. Which, ironically, look more Spanish than English. But she still refused. And my daughter castigated me for bothering her. But I'm used to castigation from my daughters, so I ignored her. I stressed to Sarah there was probably not a single woman in Spain who'd give up the chance to have her foto taken - even by me - but she wouldn't budge. Which, I fear, is your loss, dear reader. Maybe when we next go in before I return to Spain at the weekend. After she's seen this. Then again . . .

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