Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 31.8.16

Walking in Spain: The city of Talavera de la Reina is taking extreme measures to minimise the deaths of texters on their zebra crossings. Click here for details of their initiative. That reminds me . . . I'm compiling the stats but my stong impression is that ALL the drivers who've nearly hit me on Pontevedra's crossings in the last few months have been women. Maybe there's a message there somewhere . . .

Corruption in Spain: It's getting worse, it's said. Transparency International produces a regular Index of Corruption Perceptions and my Ferrol friend, Richard, has sent me a reference to their 2015 report. Spain has sunk down the international table - to 36th out of the 168 countries - and TI comments that: Some countries have improved in recent years – Greece, Senegal and the UK are among those that have seen a significant increase in scores since 2012. Others, including Australia, Brazil, Libya, Spain and Turkey, have deteriorated. . . . Also very worrying is the marked deterioration in countries like Hungary, FYR of Macedonia, Spain and Turkey where we’re seeing corruption grow, while civil society space and democracy shrink. Not a great group of countries to be lumped with. Will the newish Ciudadanos party force the PP party to do something about corruption, if their coalition gets to run the country sometime soon? Possibly. But the PP's record so far is far from encouraging.

Spanish Arrogance? Or just stupidity? I translated the menu of my watering hole into English, identifying one dish as pulled pork. Here's what one customer wrote in the questionnaire I devised for the place. I have never eated[sic] pulled pork in Spain. But your meal is wrong[sic] written. I ask you! Truly are these things are sent to try us. But at least his Spanish version was correctly written . . .

Pontevedra's Cuisine Range: Hallelujah, we just got a new international restaurant! Shame it's only a bigger version of the 5 or 6 kebab places we already have . . .

Still no sign of anything Asian or Far Eastern. Or Middle Eastern, for that matter. But there a Mexican tapas place I still have to try. Oh, and there's the 3 'Chinese' restaurants which have, naturally, hispanicised their offerings. So don't offer anything spicy, or even made with ginger. Que va!

Finally . . . Galicia's Weather: It's official  - We've had the hottest summer for 10 years and the driest for 100 years. Perhaps this is why the sucker on the bougainvillea outside my bedroom window grew more than a foot(30cm) in a week.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 30.8.16

Spanish Politics & Corruption: Much the same thing, of course. Just found this in my notes, of a week or two ago but still relevant. From El País, I think: As if Spain’s interim Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy didn’t have enough on his plate trying to rally votes for an investiture vote in Congress next week he looks set to lose – which may mean a second bid in October – the upcoming trials of several senior figures in his PP party will further weaken his position in talks with other parties to form a coalition . . . El Diario reports that there were many and massive bribes during the time that Rita Barberá was mayoress of Valencia. Sra. Barberá, I should add, has blithely smiled throughout all the investigations and denied everything. Of course.

Ten Spanish Cities for Great Free Tapas: A list from El País this time. In English, with the usual suspects. Here's the Galician entry, for Vigo: This Galician port city is known for the abundance and quality of its tapas[Is it?], and a couple of beers or locally produced albariño wines will usually yield enough nibbles that you won’t need to eat afterwards. Try A Mina, a newish place that relies on favorites such as mussels. The Bouzas area is filled with old bars, along with newer establishments such as Patouro, which uses seasonal products such as mushrooms in autumn. Imperial, on Colombia street, has imported beers and generous tapas. Most bars charge around €1.70 for a beer or a glass of wine.

Headlines You Don't Often SeeNorth Korea executes two officials with anti-aircraft guns.

The Arctic's Melting Ice: At the end of this post is the sort of article which confuses those of us trying to be objective about the evidence. Yes, the ice is melting and, yes, it probably is due to AGW. But it might not be a problem of any real significance.

Pontevedra Fiestas: There was a gap last weekend between the end of our Semana Grande and the Feira Franca(Medieval Fair) of next weekend. Naturally, this state of affairs couldn't be ignored. So, now we have another fiesta - Pontevedra Coqueta. This is a tiny, 1920s-themed, one-square thing which might or might not catch on. The now-vast Feira Franca occupied just one small street only 16 years ago but was already pretty large when I wrote this in 2006.

Finally . . . Pontevedra Retail: My thanks to Maria and, particularly, to Robert for their comments on this issue, in response to yesterdy's post. Coincidentally, I read this morning that, of Spain's 500 criminal gangs, 50 of them are here in Galicia. With - surprise, surprise - 20 each in the coastal provinces/cities of Pontevedra and La Coruña. With their many convenient coves. Which might just explain why our jewellery/(money-laundering?) outlets aren't closing down as at the same pace as elsewhere. Indeed, the total might well be growing towards 30, in a city of 80,000 people.


My granddaughter, Gracie, who finally came to me this morning after refusing to do so for 4 days, while going to every bloody female in the city . . . .

Note the expensive new car seat, bought by her doting grandfather. As per instructions.


Ice scares aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is approaching its annual nadir. By early September each year about two thirds of the ice cap has melted, then the sea begins to freeze again. This year looks unlikely to set a record for melting, with more than four million square kilometres of ice remaining, less than the average in the 1980s and 1990s, but more than in the record low years of 2007 and 2012. (The amount of sea ice around Antarctica has been increasing in recent years, contrary to predictions.)

This will disappoint some. An expedition led by David Hempleman-Adams to circumnavigate the North Pole through the Northeast and Northwest passages, intending to demonstrate “that the Arctic sea ice coverage shrinks back so far now in the summer months that sea that was permanently locked up now can allow passage through”, was recently held up for weeks north of Siberia by, um, ice. They have only just reached halfway.

Meanwhile, the habit of some scientists of predicting when the ice will disappear completely keeps getting them into trouble. A Nasa climate scientist, Jay Zwally, told the Associated Press in 2007: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012.” Two years later Al Gore quoted another scientist that “there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years” — that is, by now.

This year Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University has a new book out called Farewell to Ice, which gives a “greater than even chance” that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free next month. Not likely. He added: “Next year or the year after that, I think it will be free of ice in summer . . . You will be able to cross over the North Pole by ship.” The temptation to predict a total melt of the Arctic ice cap, and thereby get a headline, has been counterproductive, according to other scientists. Crying wolf does not help the cause of global warming; it only gives amusement to sceptics.

Would it matter if it did all melt one year? Here’s the point everybody seems to be missing: the Arctic Ocean’s ice has indeed disappeared during summer in the past, routinely. The evidence comes from various sources, such as beach ridges in northern Greenland, never unfrozen today, which show evidence of wave action in the past. One Danish team concluded in 2012 that 8,500 years ago the ice extent was “less than half of the record low 2007 level”. A Swedish team, in a paper published in 2014, went further: between 10,000 years ago and 6,000 years ago, the Arctic experienced a “regime dominated by seasonal ice, ie, ice-free summers”.

This was a period known as the “early Holocene insolation maximum” (EHIM). Because the Earth’s axis was tilted away from the vertical more than today (known as obliquity), and because we were then closer to the Sun in July than in January (known as precession), the amount of the Sun’s energy hitting the far north in summer was much greater than today. This “great summer” effect was the chief reason the Earth had emerged from an ice age, because hot northern summers had melted the great ice caps of North America and Eurasia, exposing darker land and sea to absorb more sunlight and warm the whole planet.

The effect was huge: about an extra 50 watts per square metre 80 degrees north in June. By contrast, the total effect of man-made global warming will reach 3.5 watts per square metre (but globally) only by the end of this century.

To put it in context, the EHIM was the period during which agriculture was invented in about seven different parts of the globe at once. Copper smelting began; cattle and sheep were domesticated; wine and cheese were developed; the first towns appeared. The seas being warmer, the climate was generally wet so the Sahara had rivers and forests, hippos and people.

That the Arctic sea ice disappeared each August or September in those days does not seem to have done harm (remember that melting sea ice, as opposed to land ice, does not affect sea level), and nor did it lead to a tipping point towards ever-more rapid warming. Indeed, the reverse was the case: evidence from stalagmites in tropical caves, sea-floor sediments and ice cores on the Greenland ice cap shows that temperatures gradually but erratically cooled over the next few thousand years as the obliquity of the axis and the precession of the equinoxes changed. Sunlight is now weaker in July than January again (on global average).

Barring one especially cold snap 8,200 years ago, the coldest spell of the past ten millennia was the very recent “little ice age” of AD1300-1850, when glaciers advanced, tree lines descended and the Greenland Norse died out.

It seems that the quantity of Arctic sea ice varies more than we used to think. We don’t really know how much ice there was in the 1920s and 1930s — satellites only started measuring it in 1979, a relatively cold time in the Arctic — but there is anecdotal evidence of considerable ice retreat in those decades, when temperatures were high in the Arctic.

Today’s melting may be man-made, but the EHIM precedent is still relevant. Polar bears clearly survived the ice-free seasons of 10,000-6,000 years ago, as they cope with ice-free summers or autumns in many parts of their range today, such as Hudson Bay. They need sea ice in spring when they feed on seal pups and they sometimes suffer if it is too thick, preventing seals from breeding in an area.

Meanwhile, theory predicts, and data confirms, that today’s carbon-dioxide-induced man-made warming is happening more at night than during the day, more during winter than summer and more in the far north than near the equator. An Arctic winter night is affected much more than a tropical summer day. If it were the other way around, it would be more harmful.

Some time in the next few decades, we may well see the Arctic Ocean without ice in August or September for at least a few weeks, just as it was in the time of our ancestors. The effect on human welfare, and on animal and plant life, will be small. For all the attention it gets, the reduction in Arctic ice is the most visible, but least harmful, effect of global warming.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 29.8.16

Spanish Nationality: The relatives of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 and after - the Sefardis - have been offered a fast-track process, as belated compensation - I guess - for this astonishingly stupid, self-damaging measure. So far, only 2,624 have taken this up. But I've no idea what this is as a percentage of those entitled. Pretty small, I suspect.

PreConquest MexicoThis looks like an interesting development.

The EU Commission and its PrinciplesHere's another gem from Don Quijones, this time on the subject of a planned EU-wide 'Google tax'. This, incidentally, has been an abject failure here in Spain. The Commission, says DQ, has shown once again that it has learnt absolutely nothing from the Brexit experience. It continues to legislate with no consideration for the public interest, serving the exclusive interests of the most powerful lobby groups in Brussels, while continuing to say one thing in public and doing the exact opposite in private. In other words, it’s business as usual in Brussels. The Commission, DQ stresses, seems determined to make itself even more unpopular among Europe’s disaffected public - just at a time when a rash of popular referendums and make-or-break national elections is about to be held in countries across the old continent. Here's Christopher Booker on much the same subject - the incompetence of the EU technocrats and political leaders. Do GB Remainers really discount this? Or just accept it as no worse than national government??

Theists: One of the problems with these is that they often give each other a bad name. So it was with the 'Christian' who essentially blamed Tom Daley's failure in the Olympic diving competition on his being gay. Oddly, this didn't impede the British team - which contained a married lesbian couple - from winning the hockey gold. But, strange indeed are the ways of the Lord. Here's another example:-

But it's not all bad news . . . Norway's evangelical Lutheran Church has launched a website to make it easier to track members -- a site that also allowed them to opt out of the Church altogether -- more than 15,000 people chose to leave for good. (And that's just in the first week.) I wonder when the Catholic Church will, if ever, stop counting we lapsed folk as members of the '2 billion global membership', simply because we were once baptised without our knowledge or consent.

Languages in the UK: So, which - after English - is the second most widely spoken language there? Well, Polish, of course. The Poles - who are universally admired in the UK- have just overtaken Bangladeshis as the highest foreign community, so this is very understandable. That said, Polish speakers amount to only 1% of the population. So, why is everything published by the NHS in 12 languages, you might ask.

Our Simian Heritage: This is a fascinating, 'Swiftish' treatise by Clarence Day on our origins, lamenting the fact we didn't evolve from, say, cats or elephants. It's funny, thought-provoking and highly prescient for 1920. You can get it from Gutenberg as an ebook.

Pontevedra's Retail Scene: I continue to fail to really understand this. Here are 2 more recently closed shops, this time directly opposite the checkouts in a Carrefour hypermarket in the mall at the bottom of our hill:-

Delayed reaction from El Crisis? Money laundering places that didn't work out?

Finally . . .  Amazon Spain. Having slightly cracked the screen on my kindle, I checked about repair and read eulogies about the company regularly handing out free replacement products. In other countries at least. You can get them to call you in the USA, the UK, Germany and France - inter alia - but not (yet) in Spain. Where, in addition, the site seems not to recognise the problem of a broken or cracked screen. One wonders why not. Anyone had a better experience?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 28.8.16

Spanish Politics: This article might just give you an understanding about what's going on and why Spaniards might be going to the polls on Xmas Day. 

Bullfighting: I attend the occasional corrida and have been known to defend la fiesta nacional, while accepting that it's cruel. Unless you live in a cave, you'll have seen this video showing the maltreatment of calves in the village of Valmojado, southwest of Madrid. It's suggested this has been doctored but I find this claim hard to understand. Whether it has or it hasn't, it certainly is the sort of thing which gives bullfighting a bad name. The local council - clearly resident in El País de Las Maravillas - has complained that the video has tarnished the good name of Valmojado, its history and traditions. It added that We reiterate our absolute rejection of all types of animal mistreatment but stressed that the spectacle is a legitimate part of the country’s bullfighting culture. As if all this weren't mad enough, the council has said it's seeking legal advice regarding the insults levied at it on the internet. As you do. There's nothing more legalistic than an insulted Spaniard.

The Noisy Spanish: Several years ago - doubtless when I was complaining about just how noisy this country can be - a neighbour scornfully retorted: Where there's no noise there's no life. And then she went on to disparage life in both Britain and (nearby) Portugal, seeing these as dull beyond belief. As she was married to an Englishman, I guess she had experience of both countries on which to base this contemptuous dismissal. I was reminded of this today when reading this El País leader sent to me by my friend, David, who's - topically - just moved from raucous Madrid to sedate Winchester. The article asks which is noisier - a group of sober Spaniards or a group of drunk Brits, as if the UK was full of the latter. Might as well ask whether chalk is better than cheese. Anyway, he's in no doubt that, if there's no noise, you might as well be dead. Which I guess has an element of truth about it. Whatever, there's a slightly improved Google translation at the end of this post. It'll certainly give you the gist.

The World's Most Mysterious Book: A limited number of facsimiles of this is/are about to be published here in Spain, raking in many millions for the enterprising small publisher in Burgos. Impressive.

The Camino to Santiago: As I've said, the numbers doing this continue to grow rapidly. Here's a documentary on it and here's where you can buy it, if the short video inspires you to do so.

Pontevedra's Humidity: My visitors commented yesterday that the heat was much drier than in England, where heat is always uncomfortable. I said it probably wasn't and cited the example of an earlier visitor this summer who thought the humidity was around 25%, when the reality was 60%. Checking yesterday, we discovered that it had varied over the previous 24 hours from 27% to 98% and stood, at 1pm, at 92%. I then checked on Jakarta - where you can't move for sweating - and was astonished to see it was 'only' 94%. The consensus was that Pontevedra benefitted from sea breezes but this is only a guess.

Finally . . . My short-cut bridge: I see it's open again, though the No Entry sign is still standing in all its pointless(?) glory. More anon.


My standby . . . 


The El País Leader:-

The strange friends of silence

Who are noisier: Sober Spaniards or drunken Brits?

Are you one of them? Part of the minority that enjoys a good silence and a good read? If what you claim is your right to a quiet environment, you have know the wrong country. Try to take a train and check it out.

There is an urban legend about a man who sounded the phone and went to the platform to receive the call, but no one has been identified and, in fact, be much doubt that someone had committed such folly. Others say that the story is reversed, someone saw this man talking on the phone on the platform between two carriages, standing, subjected to uncomfortable rattle of the tracks, and between several passengers, pure shame that gave them their state, urged him to get into the car to continue his conversation comfortably with the argument that anyone could disturb his conduct.

But there are many more legends: it is said that on a trip was someone who after enduring an hour's conversation with his seatmate on his intimate partner, politely asked to please end the conversation and the other person replied with a friendly smile saying "by all means, have said it before, I did not mean to disturb". They have also heard stories of people that played on their mobile phones video with those jokes and raucous jokes arriving by whatsapp but headphones to avoid disturbing the neighbor set, but neither has managed to understand what forced these people to act so strangely .

Just imagine. It is said that Spain is so loud that the railway company in the country has had to enable silent carriages, only one cariage, of course, because there are so many people so strange, and it should explicitly say so in booking your ticket to avoid misunderstandings. Some unwary fall into these cars without realizing it or because there are places in the other and, to their surprise, when they make a phone call or receive, even if it is short and does not speak very high, their seatmates look at them severely and even they chide them.

Such a huge intolerance of noise is not acceptable in a country of people known for their sympathy. In fact, when one enters the silent wagon one is received by a music that does not stop until the train starts, proof that the company itself also abhors silence that causes a stopped train.

A traveler who passed through this country said at the end of his journey he had grave doubts about who were noisier: Spanish sober or drunk British. An acute observation that speaks of laxity with which the concept of silence is interpreted. In Spain, silence is not the absence of noise, that would be empty, ie, outer space, where the sound is not transmitted, but simply a brief or attenuated noise that differs from the usual noise. We flee silence, we live in it or with it. We feel uncomfortable. The silencephobe is right: What is life but noise? What is death but silence?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 27.8.16

The Spanish Economy: So, how come it's growing so well when there's been no real government for over 8 months? Well, here's the rationale of the Wall Street Journal. Whatever the real reasons are, economists predict a slow-down for next year, whoever gets into power. Assuming that some party finally does.

Spanish Manners: The Spanish see themselves as very polite, or buen educado as it's said here. And they really are. In their own way. Especially if they know you and so there's the essential personal connection. But one thing that tends to shock folk new to the country is the (apparent?) lack of consideration for others. As with 3 teenagers bombing right next to a mother introducing her baby to a pool for the first time. NTS, there's always a huge - and genuine - apology when things are taken up with them. And it's not really the fault of, say, teenagers as they're not noticeably taught to take others into consideration as children. Swings and roundabouts, as ever.

The Spanish Attitude to Risk: Another favourite . . . I took my visitor, Jack, to a famous beauty spot at the mouth of the river Míno last Thursday. Where there are fantastic views of both Spain and Portugal from the top of a steep hill, on the side of which there's an iron-age castro to wander around. Young Jack was astonished to see no fences at all at the very top, where potential falls down the precipitate hill-sides would be a magnet for the excesses of British Health and Safety officers. But he was not as shocked as me and Dutch Peter 2 were when, later that day, we observed a father carrying a 2 year old on his shoulders while making no attempt to hold either her arms or her legs. Or, indeed, any part of her.

Yet More Lists from The Local:
  • Spanish Drinks everyone should try.  A large beer is called a bok or bol here in Galicia. No one should drink a shandy containing far-too-sweet limón. Go for gaseosa, or lemonade. As for gin tonic, the pronunciation isn't hin tonic but khin tonic. I have terrible trouble stopping waiters and waitresses chucking the entire contents of a market garden into mine. And - would you believe - pouring the tonic down the back of a bloody tea-spoon!
  • Spain's To Ten beaches. Perhaps. Most of these appear to be on islands, not the mainland.

Finally . . . I was going to tell you about the re-opening of a bridge across a tributary of the river Lerez which affords me a shortcut to my 'secret' parking place down near the old quarter. And I was also going to mock the fact that the Road Closed sign was still up, despite the fact the bridge was now in use again. But, after 2 days, it was closed again. Making said sign once again relevant.


Young Jack, Dutch Peter 2 and some woman they befriended:- 

And here are Jack and Peter again, with more women. Plus Dylan, the guy who runs the Pontevedra English Speaking Society. They get around:-

Peter, as you can see, is sporting what the best-dressed Dutchman is NOT wearing this year. And Jack appears to be proposing to one or all 3 of the young women. Who are pretending to be delighted. Being buen educadas.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 26.8.16

The Spanish Economy: This is benefitting enormously from the lack of government, just as patients do when the doctors go on strike. See here for details.

English-Speaking Spanish Pols: My net colleague, Lenox of Business Over Tapas, has corrected my comment about these. The leaders of the other 3 parties all speak good English, he says. It's only the very unimpressive but stubborn Gallego - Mariano Rajoy - who doesn't.

Spanish Lists: Here's the latest offerings from The Local:-
Right, you're all ready to go now . . .

Spanish Racists: Yes, there are quite a few of these but they don't see themselves in this light. They take the old but now totally discredited view that, if they didn't mean to hurt a black football player with their monkey-chanting, then he couldn't - or at least shouldn't - be upset. Here's the latest example of this. Good to see El País laying into these cretins this morning.

Anglicisms: Talking of El País, there's a letter in it this morning complaining - justifiably - of those entering Spanish when there's no need for them. Examples cited are:-

  • Cool
  • Runners
  • Trendy, and
  • Air meeting [No, I don't know either]
The Future of the UKHere and here are 2 more another must-hear podcasts from the brilliant philosophers, John Gray and Roger Scruton. In my view, every critic of Brexit and of 'racist' Outers should be chained to the wall and made to listen to them. I share their views, of course, and their optimism for the future of the UK. Unlike many expats, it seems, I'm less concerned with the short-term impact on my finances. But, then, I might well be in a better position to absorb the shocks.

The UK and Spain: There was a nice, balanced article in El País on this relationship recently. And I was delighted to see the (Spanish) author taking the piss out of Motormouth Margello, the Foreign Affairs Minister, who screams Gibraltar is Spanish! when he wakes up every morning and then several times during the day. I've pasted the article at the end of this post but haven't bothered to give you the atrocious Google machine translation.

Finally . . .  Forecasts for the Portuguese Camino to Santiago are 50,000 'pilgrims' for this year and 80-100,000 by 2020. God help us. These numbers compare with:-
2015: 45,000
2014: 36,000
2013: 30,000
2012: 25,000
2011: 22,000
2010: 34,000.  This was a 'Holy Year', offering above-normal indulgences for the faithful/gullible. I did this camino that year - at least from Tui to Santiago - and rather got the impression there were only a few hundred people doing it in late May-early June.


Courtesy of clever Google Photos, here's the lovely vista below the large church in the hamlet of Bastavales, near Santiago. It's deliberately too large for the box:-

There was a kestrel on the telegraph wires just to the right but I missed it . . .

Inglaterra y los españoles

Reino Unido —que, como buena parte de sus propios habitantes, aquí solemos llamar erróneamente Inglaterra— ha tenido una influencia crucial en la historia contemporánea de España. Un ascendiente comparable tan sólo al de Francia y, en la época actual, al de Estados Unidos. Ha habido, entre ambos países, relaciones tan intensas como decisivas, en las que Inglaterra ha representado al mismo tiempo varios papeles relevantes para los españoles: gran potencia, modelo político o enemigo secular, espejo y refugio en caso de crisis.

Para empezar, el imperio británico, un actor europeo de primera fila, constituyó el principal poder mundial entre comienzos del siglo XIX y la Gran Guerra. Y España fue tan sólo uno de los múltiples escenarios en que se desplegó esa fuerza imperial. Casi desde el principio, cuando Wellington comandó las tropas que derrotaron en 1814 a Napoleón en territorio ibérico. Esa victoria no estableció un protectorado, ni España se volvió un mero peón de Inglaterra como Portugal. Pero a la larga se estrecharon vínculos económicos que, por ejemplo, permitieron al capital inglés hacerse con enclaves mineros cuasi-independientes.

Tras décadas de aislamiento y un desastre colonial, España se comprometió con la entente franco-británica al iniciarse el XX. Pero la apertura no implicó su entrada en la Primera Guerra Mundial, ni por tanto su participación en la paz aliada. La coyuntura en que Gran Bretaña resultó más importante para el destino de los españoles fue, seguramente, la Guerra Civil de 1936, cuando los gobiernos de Londres, tratando de apaciguar a Hitler, impusieron una política de no intervención internacional. Como ha mostrado Enrique Moradiellos, esa estrategia perjudicó de un modo determinante a la causa de la República: una democracia abandonaba a otra y facilitaba el triunfo franquista. Ni siquiera ayudó más tarde a instaurar una fórmula constitucional moderada, sino que consolidó la dictadura.

A la vez, el régimen parlamentario británico sirvió de ejemplo a diversos sectores de la vida política española. Pese a lo que se ha afirmado estos días, no se trataba de una democracia antiquísima, pues hasta bien entrado el Novecientos y a diferencia del norteamericano, aquel sistema político fue más liberal que democrático y no reconoció el sufragio universal. El bipartidismo inglés inspiró, tras la Restauración de 1875, el turno pacífico entre conservadores y liberales, versión castiza de los partidos ingleses enraizada, eso sí, en unos niveles de fraude electoral superados en las islas. Pero donde tuvo un influjo más profundo fue en la izquierda liberal, monárquica o republicana y admiradora del selfgovernment —el gobierno de la sociedad por sí misma— que ejemplificaba la representación a la inglesa.

Los hombres de la Institución Libre de Enseñanza, anglófilos sin fisuras, aplicaban métodos pedagógicos pensados para formar individuos libres y amantes de su patria, al tiempo que fiaban, al estilo británico, el progreso de España a reformas que la transformaran de manera gradual, no a revoluciones destructivas. Sus fundaciones, como la Residencia de Estudiantes y la de Señoritas en la Junta para Ampliación de Estudios, recordaban a los colleges de Oxford y Cambridge. Frente al café y al chocolate, los institucionistas preferían el té.

Hubo, pues, liberales españoles de raigambre inglesa, algo exóticos en un país donde abundaban la francofilia y el gusto por las emociones fuertes. Contra ellos se destacaban los anglófobos, quienes mantenían vivo el odio a la Pérfida Albión, impulsora de la leyenda negra contra la España de los siglos XVI y XVII y dueña de Gibraltar, una afrenta permanente para el españolismo. Esa obsesión alimentó la germanofilia entre católicos y tradicionalistas durante la Guerra del 14, se prolongó en la política exterior de Franco y ha llegado hasta nuestros días, cuando el ministro García-Margallo no ha perdido ocasión de gritar, sin miedo al anacronismo: “¡Gibraltar, español!”

Porque Inglaterra también ha tenido un peso fundamental en la construcción de la imagen de España. No ya la de la vetusta leyenda, sino la que forjaron desde el Ochocientos los viajeros primero y los hispanistas después. Ese fenómeno que Tom Burns Marañón llamó hispanomanía, y que tejió lazos muy especiales entre ambos pueblos. Desde George Borrow, el misionero protestante, hasta el ensayista Gerald Brenan, estos escritores alimentaron la visión romántica de una península semisalvaje, apartada de Occidente y, por ello, auténtica y admirable. Lo curioso es que fueron otros ingleses, como el historiador Raymond Carr, quienes deshicieron esos tópicos al mostrar cómo la trayectoria española no respondía a una psicología singular ni a rasgos excepcionales. Aún subsisten ramalazos de aquel enfoque entre quienes se encandilan con peculiaridades como el anarquismo hispánico.

Por último, las ciudades inglesas han sido un imán para los españoles huidos. De expatriados liberales que escapaban de Fernando VII o de republicanos que hacían lo propio respecto a Franco. También de los emigrantes que, por razones económicas, han salido de España, en los sesenta y en estos últimos años de desempleo masivo. Al mismo tiempo, las costas españolas se han llenado de británicos, de gentes que buscan un lugar soleado donde pasar unas vacaciones o comprar casa, aunque apenas se relacionen con sus vecinos autóctonos. Según los datos oficiales, hay más de 100.000 españoles viviendo en el Reino Unido y al menos 250.000 británicos residentes en España, aunque pueden ser muchos más.

En medio siglo las cosas, por fortuna, han cambiado mucho. Roza la cincuentena la primera generación de españoles que, en vez de francés, estudió inglés en la escuela. El aprendizaje de esta lengua, una verdadera industria, ha llevado a miles a viajar con frecuencia a Inglaterra. Aunque se sorprendieran con la escasez de duchas, la omnipresente moqueta o las patatas fritas con sabor a vinagre, esos niños y jóvenes se han convertido a la anglofilia. Como si el institucionismo hubiera al fin vencido. Hoy muchos de ellos trabajan en Gran Bretaña y no se defienden del todo mal.

Reino Unido ya no es una gran potencia imperial, España ha crecido y se ha acercado a él: uno es la quinta economía del planeta, la otra la decimotercera. Tampoco representa un modelo político para los progresistas españoles: es ejemplar en algunos aspectos, como el trato a la corrupción o la agilidad parlamentaria, pero no tanto en otros. Hemos descubierto que uno de los Estados que creíamos más sólidos padece problemas territoriales similares a los nuestros, aunque afrontados con mayor flexibilidad democrática. Y ahora nos deja helados su decisión de salir de la Unión Europea, un decepcionante reflejo nacionalista. Nos quedan las relaciones humanas, el aprecio que ha fomentado el continuo roce, el hábito de visitar el país del otro, los negocios y la cultura. Ojalá el Brexit no nos los arruine.

Javier Moreno Luzón es historiador.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 25.8.16

The Spanish (non)Government: Acting-President Rajoy's latest tactic in the challenge to retain his job is to threaten that, if he isn't invested early next month, the 3rd round of elections will be held on Christmas Day. After the vast meal of the night before. Is there anything he won't stop at?

Tourism: Spain has benefitted enormously from terrorism elsewhere. Numbers this year are way up and the hoteliers, etc. are happy for once. Galicia has done better than average and the south of the region - the Rías Baixas - is the star performer here, with an increase of 15% over last year. Nationally, the percentage of GDP represented by tourism is now 11-12%. Great but a tad worrying, given the volatility of things.

Tourism Competition: Despite this bumper year,  Spain's hoteliers persist in their campaign to have all competition wiped from the face of the country. As ever, the government is sympathetic to business, for reasons we must guess at. Hence the raft of laws in respect of AirBnB and of private rentals. This is the Spanish way - death by the thousand cuts of 'regularisation' - registrations, licences, inspections, certificates of this that and the other, and - of course - new taxes. And no evidence at all of thinking of either tomorrow or of consumers.

A Possible Galician Agenda: I've just received this from my friend, David. Happy to say I've done 17 of the 20. Interestingly, the favoured months for foreign tourists here are July and September. October even, if the weather holds as well as it did last year. But Spanish tourists prefer August. As do the traffic police and Guardia Civil revenue collectors.

Galician Nosh: One of our famous dishes is Padrón peppers. There's a laudatory bit on them here. This quotes the local refrain: Os pementos de Padron, uns pican e outros non. Or 'Padron peppers: some are hot, some are not'.  The Gallego doggerel would read better if they'd bothered to put the accent on Padrón. They also suggest we all fall about laughing when someone gets the hot one. Well, firstly, there's always more than one hot one. Secondly, because of a very hot and dry July and August, the ratio of these this year is so high, you'd be lucky not get a hot one. Hilarious.

The EU: A looming Frexit?: See here for the comments of Ambrose E-P. Or P-E. I can never remember.

That British Airways Gesture: Yesterday, I joked that the luggage of the Olympics heroes had gone on to Manila. Reader Sierra has kindly advised that the reality really was funny . . .

Finally . . . A true professional: My young visitor, Jack, leaves early tomorrow morning - just as his friend, my younger daughter, arrives. In fact, they won't even meet to say Hello, despite both passing (inevitably) through Oporto airport. But, anyway . . . As I was putting his washing in the machine this morning, it occurred to me that this was his last day. Que cara! Incidentally, Jack is head of a Religious Education department in a school in the UK. He was telling me early this morning about the GCSE results of his pupils. I suggested that, if God really existed, he'd surely engineer it so that everyone got an A*. From the non-very-religious language used in Jack's response - I suspect he wasn't impressed with this line. God knows what God thinks of my thought.


Another cartoon on the hapless leader of the British Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn. Or at least of the far-left subset of it. Which is rather more like a sect, in fact.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 24.8.16

BA and the British Olympian Athletes: What a nice gesture to paint the nose cone of one of their planes gold to bring the heroes back home. They all looked thrilled at the reception they got at Heathrow. Shame their luggage went to Manila.

The EU and the euro: Rather than cite an apposite article, I've pasted it to the end of this post. Post-paste, as it were. The writer thinks that The euro has destroyed the EU and led directly to Brexit. He might well be right. It was always vainglorious madness to introduce it so prematurely and for purely political/idealogical reasons. IMHO.

You Couldn't Make it Up: The EU Commission has issued a list combining the Olympics medals of all 28 member states to show that the European Union was top with 325 medals, followed by the US with 121 and China with 70. Delusions of grandeur. More evidence of insanity in Brussells.

Gypsies: I'm not fond of those who live near me. But I was pleased to read that, nationally, only 14% of these much maligned folk live in shacks. Unlike 100% on this side of the river and perhaps 80% in Pontevedra city as a whole. It was also good to read of those who've gone into tertiary education and then on to successful careers in Spain. I doubt that any in my barrio have. Though those who live in flats in the Pontevedra suburbs are usually profitable market traders who send their kids to school. At least until they're 16.

Garden Tales:

  1. I didn't know there were municipal allotments - huertas urbanas - in the city but the Diario de Pontevedra tells me there certainly are and that, as in the UK, there's a waiting list for all of them. Perhaps some of those in the queue could come up and turn the bottom of my garden into a vegetable patch, below the lemon, peach and fig trees.
  2. For the last few weeks, I've been looking for my rake. Seeing the lovely Ester in her garden this morning, I asked her if - by chance - she might have it. Yes, she said, It's in my shed. But I've got my own, so I've no idea how or why it got there. Neither have I, NTS.
Finally . . . . I bought this British cop's truncheon at the Sunday flea market. 

The trader had no idea what it was but assured me there were no woodworm still in it. That said, he also suggested I put it in the freezer for a while to ensure they were all killed off. Which I've done. Now to varnish it and hang it somewhere.


A cartoon on the British Labour party leadership race:-


The euro has destroyed the EU and led directly to Brexit: Jeremy Warner 

They just don’t get it, do they? Of all the stupidities aired by EU policymakers in response to Britain’s referendum vote, there are two standouts.

One was the verdict of Herman Van Rompuy, former president of the European Council. Cameron’s decision to hold a referendum, he said, was “the worst policy decision in decades”. You’ll be relieved to learn that Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (Europe manages to have no less than five separate presidents), doesn’t agree. In fact, he says, “borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians”.  This from someone who while prime minister of Luxembourg cynically used sovereign borders to make Luxembourg into Europe’s premier tax haven.

Even acknowledging that this latter remark was made in the context of the migrant crisis, it goes to the heart of what’s gone wrong with the European Union. For together with Mr Van Rompuy’s condescending dismissal of the democratic process, it displays a deep contempt at the heart of the European project for the collective will and concerns of the people.

As the economist Joseph Stiglitz, notes in a compellingly argued new book on the failure of the European project – The Euro, and its threat to the future of Europe – on virtually every occasion when voters have been directly consulted, they have rejected the idea of further integration. 
And in each case, whether it was introduction of the Euro or reform of the constitution, they have been ignored.

The EU cannot stop Britain from leaving, but what it can do is turn a tin ear to the message that loud and clear Britain’s vote for Brexit has delivered – that Europe isn’t working and if it is to survive, then it must urgently reform. 

On current evidence, it shows virtually no sign of doing so. To the contrary, in his mini-summit on the island of Ventotene this week, the Italian premier, Matteo Renzi, insisted that Brexit could not be allowed to drive the process of European integration into reverse. The venue was deeply resonant of the narrative he wished to convey, for Ventotene was where Altiero Spinelli, while imprisoned by the fascist dictator Mussolini, wrote one of the original federalist manifestos for Europe.

Renzi echoed this founding father of the EU in his summit rhetoric. Europe is not the problem amid today’s myriad challenges, he said, but the solution. It is, lamentably, ever harder to agree with him.

Six years after the start of the Eurozone crisis, the economy is still deep in the doldrums, with output in some nations a pale shadow of its former self, shockingly high levels of youth unemployment and what growth there is now almost wholly dependent on the drip feed of central
bank money printing.

How did things get so bad? In his book, Stiglitz convincingly demonstrates that the root cause of virtually all Europe’s economic and political ills was the premature introduction of the euro.
In itself, this is not a  new idea, but Stiglitz lends it virtually irrefutable intellectual backing.

To begin with, things seemed to go swimmingly, with all member states apparently growing richer together. But far from leading to convergence among national economies, the single currency was beneath the surface driving a dangerously destabilising process of divergence. Structurally, economies were growing apart, not together, with the Eurozone ever more precariously divided into surplus and deficit nations.

“That the euro still survives at all is explained only by the egos and political careers still tied up in its continuation. That, and fear of the economic costs of trying to disentangle it.”

This process met its nemesis in the financial crisis, when it became brutally apparent that while nominally a monetary union, Europe lacked the political and economic institutions, or indeed the political consensus, to make it properly function as one, with mutualisation of debts built up in the boom and a counteracting policy response.

In forging monetary union before political, banking and fiscal union, Europe had put the cart before the horse and is now devastatingly paying the price. Europe had taken away the natural market based adjustment mechanism of free floating exchange rates, but with nothing to replace it.
German refusal to increase its wages and prices meant that deficit nations were forced to reduce theirs instead. This process of so-called internal devaluation, besides being socially and politically extraordinarily painful, has succeeded only in further increasing the real terms debt burden of afflicted nations.

To compound it all, Eurozone policy makers tried to force the pace of convergence by imposing austerity in a futile attempt to eradicate budget deficits and mounting debts. By crimping growth, the effect was precisely the reverse - again to further increase real debt burdens.

Brexit too, it might be argued, is in some way linked to the failure of monetary union, even though Britain wasn’t ever a part of it. The impact was threefold. First and foremost, it ratcheted up the alienating process of European integration. Britain as a member of the EU was collateral damage in the federalist endeavour. Second, it destroyed faith in the competence of European policy makers. And finally, it greatly increased the number of migrants coming to Britain by creating a depression across great swathes of the Continent.

Free movement became a substitute for enhanced trade and national economic advancement. By the by, it has further contributed to the eurozone debt crisis, in that the young and talented tend to migrate, rather than stay at home to work off the liabilities.

As with monetary union, imposing free movement on nations of widely different incomes, wealth, and welfare systems, was always bound to cause problems, resentment and a consequent political backlash. These chickens have come home to roost in Brexit. Unless things change, others will at some stage follow. Italy or France will be the next shoe to drop.

That the euro still survives at all is explained only by the egos and political careers still tied up in its continuation. That, and fear of the economic costs of trying to disentangle it. Rather than making it work for the economies that use it, policy has become focused almost entirely on whatever contrivance is thought necessary to sustain it.

Logically, a project whose purpose was originally to bind nations together through trade would be doing all it could to ensure an amicable divorce with Britain so that this trade might continue.

But such a rational outcome is to misunderstand the nature of the beast. The early signs do not look encouraging. This is what Mr Juncker had to say about it all. “There will be no access to the internal market for those who do not accept the rules – without exception or nuance – that make up the very nature of the internal market system.” He appears to want to punish Britain for daring to leave, even if this proves damaging to Europe too. One can but hope that cooler heads and wiser counsel prevails. Unwise to count on it, though - given the record.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 23.8.16

The European Central Bank (ECB): The estimable Don Quijones blows the whistle here on its latest example of what (s)he labels its Financial Darwinism. . . The ECB has secretly been buying bonds from companies, thus handing them directly its freshly printed money. The two Spanish companies involved were the energy giants Repsol and Iberdrola. The Bank of Spain, now no more than a local branch of the ECB, was among the select buyers of a €500 million bond issued by Repsol. It is also the owner of part of a €200 million bond issued by Iberdrola. . . .  Among the advantages of issuing debt in a private placement is that it allows companies to raise cash quickly because there is no prospectus or the other formalities required in a normal bond offering. So, no transparency. Says DQ: It amounts to giving these large operators an artificial competitive advantage that most companies could only dream of, which will almost certainly serve to accentuate the concentration and consolidation of Europe’s markets, massively skewing Europe’s corporate debt market even more in the favor of the biggest and strongest. Hmm.

Spanish Politicians: I've yet to see evidence that any of them - except perhaps Alberto Rivera of Ciudadanos - can hold a conversation in the world's lingua franca, English. Which rather contrasts with senior/junior police officials in Thailand and the Philippines recently heard to be totally fluent.

Spanish Tourist Tat: Here's yet another mildly interesting list from The Local on this. Here in Galicia, you can always get a miniature version of the Queimada set - used for burning off the alcohol from the spiced-up local aguadiente, orujo.

Not to mention small statues, etc. of our local meigas and brujas/bruxas. Or good and bad witches. And, naturally, of St James. Plus scallop shells, staffs, T-shirts, etc. associated with the Camino de Santiago.

Driving in Spain 147: The police will be operating a special anti-speeding campaign on secondary roads next week. Since they have a permanent campaign to maximise revenue, this can only mean they will be setting up more traps/tricks to fleece motorists during what just happens to be the busiest week of the year on the roads. Naturally, this financial exercise is dressed up as concern for safety. Incidentally, I tried yesterday to drive up the long, steep hill to my house at the limit of 30kph/19mph. I could only manage this is 2nd gear, going down to 1st for the sharp corner at the very top. Needless to say, no one obeys this injunction. But I guess this makes sense to someone. As with the use of phones by drivers going round the roundabout at the bottom of the hill, if the police were really smart, they'd station a patrol in our barrio and collect a fortune every day. But they're not, it seems.

Pontevedra Beggars: These were worse than ever, of course, during our Semana Grande. And I'm more convinced than ever that somewhere there's a Beggars' Institute or the like training them for the streets. On Sunday, every one of them had the same line: "The comedor is closed. Could you give me something so that I can eat." The comedor, also known as the Pan de Pobre, is the place where the San Francisco church hands out free 3-course meals at midday every day except Sunday. And possibly Saturday. Incidentally, there was an incident between me and one of the (many) new panhandlers recently. After he insulted me for refusing to give him money, I told him to got to hell. Whereupon he retorted that, if I were younger, he'd punch me. All of which he seemed to have forgotten when he was hassling us last night. Of course, I do look like lots of other men in Pontevedra. Not.

Finally . . . Going back to language abilities: A Times columnist comments that: If it is true that Britain’s young were predominantly Remain voters, and are now furious at possibly “being robbed of the chance to live and work in 27 other countries”, there’s an odd irony. That fantasy of expat life in the sun, or chilling at a cool Berlin café table, may not involve talking to anyone local. For our rising generation is woefully unlikely to be comfortable conversing freely in anything but English.  

Finally, finally, I promise:-

Dexsys Midnight Runners: J'món, Eileen.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 22.8.16

Spanish Politics: Here's a commentary on acting-President Rajoy's plight:-

Err.  . .  Ahem . . . Cough! Cough! In the hypothetical event of my failed investiture . . . Cough! Cough! Cough! There'll be a third general election at Christmas.  Buuut . . . THE FOOTBALL SEASON HAS STARTED!

I'm not sure that cof is the Spanish for 'cough' . . . I thought it was tos.

The Euro and the Global Economy: Here's an article from an economist who's been blowing the whistle on the EU and its precious euro for at least 15 years, Joseph Stilglitz. Some quotes:- From its conception, the eurozone was a project carrying a staggering amount of ideological luggage that effectively blinded its creators to deep flaws in the system. In addition to such structural problems, the response of eurozone officials to the debt crisis that erupted in Greece in 2010 has effectively doomed large parts of the monetary bloc to perennial depression . . . The prioritization of a single currency was not based on economic science. It was blind faith. . . When challenged about democracy, prosperity, and solidarity. It says, “We have no solidarity. We don’t pay attention to democracy. And we know our system is not working and the only way we can keep you in is by threatening you.” To me, that response was symbolic of why the EU is not working. Says it all, really.

Will Self: This is a British writer and TV personality. I've been ambivalent about him for years, enjoying much of his stuff but finding myself irritated by his regular (and arrogant?) use of words which 99.9% of Brits won't know. But here's his podcast on modern art and I have to say I agree with every word of it.

Galicia's 3 International Airports: The Voz de Galicia went to town on these yesterday, highlighting a welcome increase in passenger numbers this summer, but excoriating local politicians for talking sense about rationalisation but doing absolutely nothing to achieve it. Thanks, of course, to Spain's infamous localismo and the resulting internecine war between the cities of Santiago, Vigo and La Coruña. When I first travelled through Oporto's facility in the late 90s, if was almost a toy airport and you could get from landing to driving off within 15-20 minutes. Now, it's a vast place which cheekily advertises itself as The airport for all Galicians. I wan't surprised, therefore, to read that Santiago had lost 8 international routes to Oporto in recent years. In contrast, it wasn't much of a shock to read that Oporto will easily surpass its 2020 target of 12 million passengers a year. Madness. With economic consequences. Spain at its worst.

Pontevedra's Semana Grande: This ended last night with the traditional 3rd fireworks spectacular in 7 days. Crisis? What crisis? Today will see the cyclists of the The Tur d'España passing through the city – and round the famous roundabout bottleneck at the bottom of our hill – en route to Sanjenjo/Sangenjo/Sanxenxo. I expect they'll clear the traffic from the coast road for this. So, not a day to head for the beaches on this side of the ría.

Finally . . .  An ancient witchhunt:  That old bore, Alfie Mittington, has finally said something interesting in his comment yesterday on the Inquisition. Here's more details on the 17th century incident he mentions.

Finally, Finally . . . Mor jamón puns. Anyone got any worse ones?

Eddie Cochran: J'món Everybody!

Ella: Sing Hallelujah, j'món get happy.

The Doors: J'món, Baby, Light my fire!

The Drifters: J'mon over to my place.

Garry Glitter: J'amón, Come In and Get on!

[That's more than enough! Ed.]

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 21.8.16

Spanish Words: In English, the word 'cutter' can be a knife or a boat. It turns out the same is true of Castellano. Un cúter. As in:-
Arrastrando su brazo hacia un cúter de metal.
Pulled his arm into a metal cutter.
El cúter de la armada británica regresó.
The British naval cutter came back.

Spanish Names: I was telling some Spanish friends last night about our difficulties in getting brandy in 2 bars and being offered a drink called Felipe II instead. I referred to this as Felipe Dos, which convulsed them, as it should have been Felipe Segundo. Small minds . . .

Driving in SpainThe Roundabout Challenge: Chapter 16: This one is at the bottom of my road:-

As I approach it, cars coming from the left will be going either to the right - up the hill - or straight on. In some cases, they'll be signalling right and in some cases they won't be signalling at all. Although coming from a single lane, they all opt to move into the right hand - outer - lane of the roundabout. Elsewhere, you'd be safe to assume that those going straight on would head for the inner lane. But here they've been told not to do this unless they're making a U-turn. The end result is that, if you assume a car entering the right-hand lane and signalling right is actually turning right, you'll be hit by it whichever way you go. Take note.

Driving in Pontevedra: If you approach the city from the north on the coastal road - say, from Villagarcia - you'll arrive at a roundabout on the edge of town, just after a small industrial estate and just before the gypsy encampment of O Vao. I believe the local council plans to drive a spur road up through the latter, off the roundabout. Right now, though, if you left the roundabout on this uncompleted spur, you'd come right up against a wall of trees and hidden granite. But just in case you're blind - or very stupid - the council has erected this helpful sign:-

Finally . . .  My guest, Jack: He's a friend of my younger daughter and not - as some in the city are said to think - my young lover. A chap with a great sense of humour, he has some decent jokes. Sadly, though, he's also an inveterate punster. Sometimes they work but ofttimes they don't. He's become a huge aficionado of Spain's jamón and I came down this morning to find he'd last night polished off the final 2 slices and left this note on top of the empty pack:-

We're caught in a trap
I can't walk out
Coz I love you, jamón, baby.

So, jamón, feel the noise!

Oh, jam ón ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant

Be your own judge.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 20.8.16

Buying Property in Spain: The risks remain but things are slowly getting more 'regular'. Here's a paragraph in my notes which might well have come from Lenox of Business Over Tapas: In all, there are 600,000 demolition orders against homes in Spain. Environmentalists and Cantabria’s regional government argued that the illegal buildings, which overlooked the coastline and sand dunes, ruined the landscape. The Supreme Court agreed and ordered their demolition. Last year, an amendment to Spain’s penal code gave judges the power to stay the execution of a demolition order until compensation had been provided to the property owner, as long as they could demonstrate they bought the house in good faith.

Bless Those Crazy Theists: Another gift which keeps on giving, especially during a presidential campaign. Here are 4 examples of the joy they bring:-

1. The 25 reasons why God wants Donald Trump to be president.

  1. God is using T to pave the way for the Second Coming
  2. God is using T to get pastors to fight for religious freedom
  3. T could make America worthy of God’s blessing
  4. T would make America friendlier to Israel
  5. T will make Christianity more powerful
  6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers
  7. T has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing
  8. T has an ‘Elijah mantle
  9. T has a Cyrus anointing
  10. T has a ‘breaker anointing’
  11. T is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’
  12. God has picked T to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’
  13. T is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan
  14. T is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House
  15. T is a ‘baby Christian’
  16. T is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)
  17. T is like King David
  18. T is like Saul/Paul
  19. T is like Samson
  20. T is like Churchill and Lincoln
  21. T is like George Washington
  22. T is like Oscar Schindler
  23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil
  24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist
  25. God doesn’t want a woman president

You can see the full reasoning here.

2. One of those headlines that only evangelists can inspire: Christian Bigot Who Wants Gay People Cured Condemns Christian Bigot Who Wants Gay People Dead. Everything's relative, of course.

3. How about these - from Family Radio host, Bryan Fischer - as examples of something Evangelists say which wouldn't be acceptable from, say, Muslims:- You could make a pretty good biblical case that only men are supposed to hold political office. And: Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist.

4. Here's a (mad?) Irish politician who thinks there ain't no global warming and, even if there were, the historical fact of the Ark means that God will always be on hand to rescue humanity from the effects of it.

Which reminds me, firstly:-

The Spanish Inquisition: Not as bad as we all say, apparently. A outfit called Orthodox Catholicism insists it was quite a decent organisation really. Humane even. Click here for their rationale. It was both professional and efficient, for a start.

And, secondly:-

The Jesus who became an orang-utang:  The (in)famous restoration cock-up has become the focus of an opera, called Behold The Man. Or Ecce Homo, of course. See the trailer here. I think it's in English.

The Pontevedra Corridas: One of last Saturday's bulls was so poor – as torros bravos go – that the aficionados on the stands broke into an insulting kids' song called La Vaca Lechera – The Milk Cow. Listen here, with the lyrics in Spanish.

Finally . . . Osborne Again
  1. After dinner at my favourite tapas bar last night, my young visitor and I repaired to another place for their celebrated flan de queso dessert. And, in his case, for a brandy. The waiter said they didn't have any but I talked to the owner and got him one. Then we moved to my normal watering hole, where he again requested cognac. Same response. And another chat with the owner, who assured me they did have brandies. He was then brought a . . . whisky and a bebida espiritual called Felipe II. Made, of course, by Osborne. Neither of these is a brandy. A bebida espiritual is defined as an alcoholic drink derived from the distillation of primary agricultural products such as grapes, cereals, dried fruits, sugar cane/beet, fruit, etc.. This group included brandies, whiskies, rum, gin vodka and liqueurs. The Felipe II concoction is described thus on the company's web page: A spirit obtained from holandas and selected wine spirits. A hollanda is a wine spirit of up to 60-65% alcohol, resulting from a single distillation. This is a reference to Holland, the home country of brandy (brandewijn). In order to obtain one litre of brandy you need to distill around three litres of wine (which comes down to four kilos of grapes). So beware, you brandy-drinkers out there. 
  2. A press release: The small company that makes NORDÉS Atlantic Galicia Gin - distilled from the famous albariño wine - has been bought by Osborne, which plans to launch it in 40 countries. Osborne is a company grown on the back of sherries, brandies and Port wine and, needless to say, was originally British. The write-up I've cited is largely bollox, of course.
Finally, finally . . . Under instructions from my younger daughter, I bought a (rather expensive) car seat ahead of the visit of her, her husband and their 11 month old. All went smoothly and it now awaits installation. Today I received this email from the supplier, Contramarcha. Customer service gone to the other extreme?:-

Tu experiencia puede resultar de utilidad para otras familias que puedan estar pensando en comprar tu mismo producto.

Producto : Cybex Sirona (Isofix)

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Producto : Cybex Sirona (Isofix)

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Producto : Cybex Sirona (Isofix)

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Producto : Cybex Sirona (Isofix)

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Producto : Cybex Sirona (Isofix)

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Producto : Protector de Asiento Universal

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Producto : Protector de Asiento Universal

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Producto : Protector de Asiento Universal

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Producto : Protector de Asiento Universal

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Producto : Protector de Asiento Universal

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Producto : Espejo Universal a Contramarcha

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Producto : Espejo Universal a Contramarcha

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Producto : Espejo Universal a Contramarcha

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Producto : Espejo Universal a Contramarcha

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Producto : Espejo Universal a Contramarcha

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