Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ponters Pensées 31.5.16

Spanglish: I knew that the Spanish for 'a mop' was una fregona but I didn't know it's also una mopa. You might not find this in your everyday dictionary but, surprisingly, that of the Royal Academy of Spanish does accept it, as an anglicism. So, I guess it's been around for a while. It shouldn't, of course, be confused with un mapa, which is a map. Which doesn't seem to be another anglicism, as it comes from the Latin mappa.

The USA: As you'll all know, Donald Trump's strap line is Make America Great Again. This has been slightly modified by some English wag to: Make America Great British Again.

Finally Brexit: This, it's claimed in today's Times, is becoming another British class war - between the rich who want to keep the goodies the EU brings them and the not-rich whose everyday lives are far more affected by the net immigration of hundreds of thousands of people into the UK every year. Many of these may not be of the same (non)religion and/or culture. And they tend to breed far more than the traditional British average, rapidly changing the country's demography. Can anyone really be surprised by this? The EU, whatever its initial rationale, is a gravy-train for many. None of these will ever want to get off it, however unpopular it becomes, either because of un-bent bananas or a lack of democratic accountability. Even if the ultimate aim of the EU is to eliminate them once the supra-national state is in power. After all, that's the day after tomorrow. Someone else's problem. However incompetent the senior politicians in the Out camp are – and they really are - you can't lay this accusation at their door. The article in question can be found at the end of this post

Finally  . . . . Whom To Thank?: The mother of the 4-year-old who fell into a gorilla enclosure in the USA has thanked God for saving him. I wonder whom she thanks for letting him get away from his parents and then crawl/fall into the pen in the first place. Herself? The devil? As I say, just wondering. Perhaps she thinks God wanted to prove how good he is by setting up the whole thing. While developing personal plans not just for US presidential candidates but also for everyone else in the world at the same time.


BREXIT

The Europe battle is turning into class war

For the Conservatives everything is about Europe — but nothing is only about Europe. The divisions exposed by the EU referendum are so deep and so bitter because they go way beyond Brussels.

Of course there are ideological disagreements over sovereignty, the free movement of people and Britain’s position in the world, but the mood has become so poisonous because there is a social as well as a political dimension to this split. In a very British way, the referendum is about class — in the Tory party but also in the country.

It is no coincidence that one of the first Tories to publicly challenge David Cameron’s leadership was Nadine Dorries, the Eurosceptic MP who once said that the government was run by “two posh boys who don’t know the price of a pint of milk” and have “no passion to want to understand the lives of others”

The political drama now being acted out has echoes of Downton Abbey as well as House of Cards. Priti Patel, the pro-Brexit employment minister, infuriated Downing Street at the weekend by suggesting that the prime minister and the chancellor were too privileged to understand poorer people’s concerns about rising immigration. Accusing “those leading the pro-EU campaign” of acting in “narrow self-interest”, she said that they were “failing to care for those who do not have their advantages” because they received all the benefits of free movement — “inexpensive domestic help, willing tradesmen and convenient, cheap travel” — and none of the downsides such as lower wages. There will be more of this over the next few weeks.

“It’s not exactly class war,” says one senior figure in the Vote Leave campaign, “but it’s definitely the case that part of our argument is that the people with money favour the status quo because it benefits them.”

This is the context in which speculation about a Tory leadership challenge should be seen. The prime minister would almost certainly see off any attempted coup: even if disgruntled MPs got together the 50 signatures required to force a confidence vote, most think he would have enough support in the House of Commons to survive. But there is a sense of grumpiness on the Tory benches that is personal as well as political. Frustration with Mr Cameron’s handling of the referendum campaign has exacerbated a long-standing resentment about the “mateocracy” in No 10. One influential backbencher says: “The problem is not the individual poshness — Winston Churchill wasn’t exactly a working-class oik — it’s more about the cliquiness of the government. There’s a gilded circle and people hate the feeling that they are excluded from it.”

Privately, senior Tories have been discussing the possibility of a split after June 23. Most think it is unlikely to happen but the way in which a potential new party is discussed is revealing. “If you could shake off the posh boys you could recruit like there’s no tomorrow,” says one former minister. “You could suddenly see a breakthrough — a sans-culottes, non-metropolitan, provincial, lower-middle-class meritocratic party, hoovering up county Tories from Ukip and some tough-minded, work-orientated Labour voters.” For these revolutionaries, Mr Cameron is a Marie Antoinette figure who says “let them eat brioche” in the EU while low-paid workers see their wages undercut by cheap foreign labour.

Social divisions are also driving the EU referendum campaign. While the Remain camp ratchets up the support of more and more powerful establishment figures — from the governor of the Bank of England to the president of the United States, as well as countless business people, economists and luvvies — the Brexiteers present themselves as the Poujadist populists, standing up for ordinary people against the elites.

There are few “posh boys” among the Tories who want to leave the EU. Chris Grayling, the first Cabinet minister to declare for Brexit, once told me that he wouldn’t go to Notting Hill dinner parties but lived in an old council flat near Victoria station with a leaky bathroom and dodgy wiring that gave him electric shocks. David Davis, Mr Cameron’s former leadership rival, is the son of a single mother who grew up on a council estate.

Michael Gove was adopted by an Aberdeen fishmonger, got to Oxford and became close to the Old Etonians who now run the government yet he and his wife have never felt entirely sure that they are accepted as social equals. Steve Hilton, the prime minister’s former director of strategy was once one of Mr Cameron’s closest political allies but, as the child of Hungarian immigrants, he too was from a different social background and became increasingly frustrated with his friend’s reluctance to tackle the status quo, first in Whitehall and then in Brussels.

Boris Johnson may have gone to Eton but he likes to stress that, as a scholarship boy, he got there on his wits while Mr Cameron, a paying pupil, depended on his wealth. Ken Clarke is right that there are similarities between the former London mayor and Donald Trump. “Some of the biggest cheers Boris gets out on the stump is when he says this system is good for the corporate fat cats but it’s not good for the poor,” says one source.

Class, as well as age, will be a defining factor in the referendum. One of the few things the opinion polls agree on is that educated middle-class voters are far more likely to support remaining in the EU. According to YouGov, 70 per cent of graduates back Remain and 62 per cent of AB voters. In contrast Leave has the support of 63 per cent of DE voters and 62 per cent of those with qualifications up to GCSE level. The campaign has highlighted a profound culture clash between the world view of metropolitan liberals who are relaxed about immigration and those who are struggling to thrive in rural areas and seaside towns, threatened by the rapidly changing world. As a pro-Brexit MP puts it: “One side sees the others as bigots and the other side sees them as snobs.”

The referendum is not just about Britain’s place in the world it is also about the country’s view of itself. After all these years, and successive generations of politicians promising to boost social mobility, it is extraordinary that such a fundamental question of national identity should come down to class. It is not just divisions in the Tory party that will need to be healed, whatever the result.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ponters Pensées 30.5.16

Bullfighting: Oops! Que te de!


Spanish wine: Although the country's reputation has been improving for years, there's still a huge amount of bulk wine produced here, much of it is exported to – would you believe – France. As this article reports, Spain has displaced Italy in Europe as regards this (cheap) stuff and now sells about 500m litres a year to the French, 90% of which is in bulk at an average price of €0.40[!!] a litre. And the bloody Frogs then re-export some as the real McCoy at 3 times the price. Bastards.

Education in Europe: Here's table which shows how often kids are subjected to exams. 


Only in the UK does this seem to happen every year. And guess which country has been sliding down the international rankings for years now. No wonder British teachers are unhappy and – like my younger daughter – vote with their feet in huge numbers every year. Finland's pupils have very few exams, the fewest hours in school and no homework but, despite all this, they regularly head said rankings. Conclusions???

Gibraltar: The Rock has threatened that, if the UK votes for a Brexit, it'll talk to Spain about joint sovereignty. Does anyone in Britain really care one way or the other? In my view, it's one of the best reasons for being an Outer. And the UK government would be delighted to get shut of the troublesome place. Unlike Spain in respect of Ceuta and Melilla, which are somehow not part of Africa but of Spain. I guess that makes sense to someone.

Finally . . . Sub-editing: So strange is the brain that, when I'm reading over (2 or 3 times) what I've drafted, it can 'sense' there's something wrong but still can't see it. Which is why there'll sometimes be a word typed twice, for example. This happens most often when I change something and my brain only sees what I intend it to see. Anyone want a job?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ponters Pensées 29.5.16

Spanish Banks: Here's Don Quijones on these: After three years of relative calm and one month before yet another round of do-or-die general elections, the words “banking” and “crisis” are back on the front pages of Spain’s newspapers. Despite the untold billions of euros of public funds lavished on “cleaning up” their balance sheets and the roughly €240 billion of provisions booked against bad debt since December 2007, the banks are just as weak and disaster-prone as they were four years ago. Despite the so-called cleansing of Spain’s financial sector, Banco Popular’s books are still jam-packed with toxic junk. [My bank, unfortunately. After their take-over of Citibank.] Finally: As Bloomberg notes, Popular has problems that are fairly common across banks in the euro area: “questionable balance-sheet strength, a rough revenue outlook, and weak governance.” Oh dear.

Spanish Manners: I said recently said the Spanish are not as rude as they sometimes appear. But I did add that they can be inconsiderate. Here's a couple of fotos showing how some drivers here in Pontevedra park so far away from other cars or from a wall or kerb that they deny precious spaces to others.







Words: I wonder what Americans call a 'kerb', as my spell-check declined to accept it until I switched to the British version.

Pontevedra's Drug Biz: As regular readers know, the city's drug wholesale/retail market is in the permanent gypsy encampment down at the bottom of the hill I live at the top of. Cheek by jowl with one of the city's richer barrios. I mention this again only to cite the recent arrest of one of Galicia's biggest narcotraficos on a rather unwise visit there. Not his first, it seems, and this time his security was lax enough to allow him to be caught with shit in his car. We wait to see how long he actually spends in prison. BTW . . . The location of the drug biz explains why I see so many of the city's numerous panhandlers crossing the bridge to my side of the river.

Pontevedra Parking: There are only 2 varieties of this:- 1. Free, and 2. Prohibited. There are no parking meters, after the populace rebelled against an attempt at this option in the 90s. The number of free spaces has relentlessly reduced over the years, as the mayor takes the same attitude to cars as, for example, the burgers of Oxford in the UK. Hence the importance of the lack of consideration for others cited above. I avoid the problem most of the time by walking into and out of the city.

Atheist Corner: This talk by David Fitzgerald, on sex and violence in the Bible, might well interest both atheists and theists. Or at least the former.

Finally . . . Kerbs In Pontevedra: My car has a lowish front. Which means I'm personally affected by the fact that these range here from about 1inch(2.5cm) to almost 9 inches(23cm). Even in the same street. Bloody annoying when you hit one of the latter.


Technical Note: these are the places in Russia where Google Analytics says a lot of people read this blog:-
Saint Petersburg
Voronezh Oblast
Moscow Oblast
Bryansk Oblast
Vologda Oblast
Irkutsk Oblast
Chelyabinsk OblasRepublic of Bashkortostan
Primorsky Krai
Moscow

I do wonder.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ponters Pensées 28.5.16

Germany v. Spain: There is much Teutonic unhappiness that the EU Commission/government is delaying a decision on fining Spain for (again) exceeding deficit limits in 2015. They fear Spain won't be punished (again) and that the rules will be ignored. Funny, but I don't recall similar protests when Germany and then France were the first to flout the rules with total impunity. As was said at the time, this set an appalling example for less well-managed EU members. As someone once said: “Taxes are only for smaller people.”

Capitalism. Talking about the Germans. Here's a rather bleak view of what's going on in respect of Greece and also more widely. Some tasters from it, which is possibly a tad OTT. But certainly contains at least the proverbial grains:
  • Neoliberalism intends to reestablish feudalism—a few robber barons and many serfs: the 1% and the 99%.
  • Greece is being destroyed by the EU that it so foolishly joined and trusted.  The same thing is happening to Portugal and is also underway in Spain and Italy.  The looting has already devoured Ireland and Latvia (and a number of Latin American countries) and is underway in Ukraine.
  • The media persists in calling the looting of Greece a “bailout.”
  • To call the looting of a country and its people a “bailout” is Orwellian.  The brainwashing is so successful that even the media and politicians of looted Greece call the financial imperialism that Greece is suffering a “bailout.”
  • Everywhere in the Western world a variety of measures, both corporate and governmental, have resulted in the stagnation of income growth. In order to continue to report profits, mega-banks and global corporations have turned to looting.  Social Security systems and public services are targeted for privatization, and indebtedness so accurately described by John Perkins in his book, 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man', is used to set up entire countries to be looted.
  • We have entered the looting stage of capitalism. Desolation will be the result.

Gallego: In my midday bar yesterday, I yawned a couple of times and was then told by the barmaid - a friend - that the Gallego response to a yawn is that it indicates : Fame, sueno o ganas de coña. Or in Castellano: Hambre, sueño o ganas de cona. In English: 'Hunger, tiredness or a desire for c**t'. Or, as Google has the Gallego: 'Hunger, tiredness or a desire for Joke'. But at least it gets it spot on with the Castellano version.

Pontevedra's Francoist Vestiges: This, in fact, the escudo I mentioned yesterday. And not the one I thought it might be:


Finally . . . .Telefónica: A brief but telling conversation in the shop last week:-

Man next to me: Isn't there some cable TV with the €50 option this gentleman is talking to you about? I can't seem to get any programs.
Assistant: Yes but they withdrew it.
MNTM: But I only signed up last week.
Me: And I only got your flier citing it last week too.
Assistant: Yes but they just withdrew it.

No suggestion of anyone being advised. And this is when Telefónica is desperately trying to show it understands the phrase 'customer service'.

And now 2 treats:-
  1. A snap of a tired/bored art gallery attendant. I think the English should read. And Jesus was, like, “What is this?” Even He, it seems, is prone to the ubiquitous but redundant Americanism much loved by adolescents. And those down with the kids.
  1. An atheist cartoonist's view of the frequent theist explanation that God has a plan for every single one of us.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ponters Pensées 27.5.16

Spanish (non)Government: The writer of this article suspects the current uncertainty is here to stay for some time. Probably with due cause.

Spanish Government: There are 4 administrative layers here - national, regional, provincial and municipal. This naturally increases complexity, costs, inefficiency and - above all corruption. In comparison, the UK has 3 – national, county and municipal. But above all these is, of course, the EU and its overarching bureaucracy and parliament of unknown gravey-trainers. It's said to be felt in Brussels that the UK will need to lose one of its 3, the obvious candidate being the national government at Westminster. So . . . Does Spain have 2 superfluous layers? If so, which is the second one? For me, it would have to be the provincial one and its millionaire presidents.

Spanish Politicians: Is there an analogy between their (nil to short) prison sentences and the Catholic institution of Confession, which only ever involves the mere parrot-like repetition of short prayers? I'd say Yes, if the former involved any sort of admission of guilt plus a sincere 'Act of Contrition'. I smile just thinking of that (im)possibility.

Francoism: It's taking a while but Spain is gradually getting shot of the vestiges of this. That said, there are at least 2 escudos on Pontevedra walls with Francoist elements. This is possibly one of them:


But, anyway, the Catalan town of Tortosa has decided - forty years after the dictator’s death - to strip Franco of his honorary mayorship. He must be revolving in his grave. Unless he's been burnt to a crisp.

Pontevedra Cyclists: So few of these actually use the road that I regularly feel like stepping off the pavement/sidewalk to give them a medal. Except for the gypsies who ride home from the city at night without so much as a reflector. Members of the 3 or 4 police forces do nothing about any of this, of course. They prefer to pursue easy-to-fine motorists who are 'distracting themselves' from driving properly. Possibly by blinking from time to time.

Poio Wifi: After 15 years of 0.5megas('Up to 6megas') and 1 year of 0.5-2.0megas ('Up to 3megas'), I now have cable-supplied capacity of 'Up to 30megas. Or, in practice, a pathetic 2.5megas at 7 this morning. By 8, this had risen to a magnificent 2.8 megas. Is every one of my neighbours (illegally) downloading a film overnight? Or does nothing improve until someone at Telefónica gets to the office? Around 10am. I'll let you know.

Pontevedra Customer Service: Changing back to Telefónica for both my fixed line and mobile phone naturally took 4 trips to the (franchise) shop. The last centred on my question: Why has my fixed line number been changed? The answer was that this was necessary and unavoidable. To which I replied that it obviously wasn't for the neighbours on both sides of me. Cue the first (laughable) lie that came into the young woman's head. Which is when I realised it wasn't worth pursuing further, especially as I get very few calls.

Finally . . . Spain's Queen. The lovely Letizia is widely felt to be a sufferer from anorexia. But she looks positively fat against recent fotos of the once-very-beautiful Angelina Jolie. Sad. For all sufferers, of course.



Technical Note: Google Stats tells me there where was a record number of page views yesterday – at 1,525. But Google Analytics offers me an analysis of a much smaller number. Can anyone account for this difference, assuming it's not just a reflection of hundreds of bots 'viewing' my page? Incidentally, most of the Google Stats readers come from Russia(43%), followed by the USA(28%). Odd. Perhaps the Kremlin regard me as important enough to track. Perhaps I'll appear on RT News one of these days . . . .

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ponters Pensées 26.516


It being Thursday, I'm again indebted to the latest issue of Business Over Tapas, from Lenox Napier

Venezuela: Not normally a topic for this blog but yesterday I saw this cartoon while reading the (very) right-wing ABC newspaper, while waiting (of course) in a bank. 


Admiral: With just 30,000 Spaniards, I defended Cartagena [against the British, as it happens]
Conquistador: That's nothing: With just 500 Spaniards, I conquered Mexico.
President of Venezuela: That's nothing: With just 4 members of Podemos, I ruined Venezuela.

And then, this morning, there was a harrowing account of the parlous state of the nation on Sky TV. The reference in the cartoon is to the members of Spain's new Far Left party, Podemos, who are said to have been handsomely paid to advise the Venezuelan president on economic policies. Not terribly well, it seems. Which is rather worrying because of the real possibility that a Far Left coalition will emerge victorious in June's repeat elections.

Spanish Stats: It's reported that:-
  • The average monthly salary in Spain, at €1,640 is 17.8% under the EU average of €1,995. Bulgaria is bottom at €357 and Denmark is the top, with € 3,553. 
  • Almost 30% of Spaniards are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
  • The average annual household income stands at €26,000. [Not 12 x 1.640]
  • There are 1.4m unemployed in Spain who've not had a job in the last three years or more.

Administrative Transparency: As you'd expect of a country with astronomic corruption among politicians and businessmen, this is not a major feature of Spanish life. So, it's no great surprise that relatives of the huge train crash here in Galicia 2 years ago are finding it next to impossible to get a copy of the official investigation. So, we remain ignorant of why only the driver has been prosecuted and none of the people implicated in reports of negligence on the part of politicians and ADIF executives. More on this here.

Buying a Property In Spain: If you've already done this you'll know that transaction costs here are very high. Double the EU average, de verdad. This is in line with the fact that – having always found it difficult to get taxes from those who should pay them – the Spanish government has long gone to town on those it can squeeze. Everyone involved in any official transaction, for example. See here for more on this, though the link wasn't working early today.

Brexit: As I've said, poor Richard North. At least he garners some sympathy for the failure of his titanic – if ultimately abrasive – efforts to get a Brexit plan officially endorsed and issued.

Finally . . . Tiny 'dogs': British vets are said to be calling for 'healthier breeding standards' for pugs and shitzus, in light of the 'crippling health problems' they suffer. There are a lot of these repulsive lapdogs being dragged or carried around by Pontevedra pijas and, pending the changes demanded by said vets, I have a radical solution. Drown all the puppies at birth. Then shoot the parents. And jail the owners for cruelty to both animals and humans

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ponters Pensées 25.5.16

The Spanish are So Rude: Well, no. They're not really. And they can be extremely polite. 'Noble' even. The trouble is that 3 factors combine to make Spaniards do things that other people don't do – like virtually walk into you in the street – and this certainly makes them seem rude. With apologies to long-term readers who've heard all this before, these are those factors:-
  • Spaniards have no concept of personal space. They have no problem with people being 'in their face'. Or with strangers only making a (reciprocal) half-attempt to move out of the way at the very last moment. That's just life here. Irritating as it can be.
  • Spaniards don't have a good radar system. Nor antennae. Until you're introduced to them and things get 'personal', you really don't exist. So no consideration is owed to you. Once things are personal, they are extremely polite and gracious. So, rather black and white.
  • Spaniards can be very thought-less. By which I mean they don't think much about the interests of others. This, I believe, stems from their upbringing. One rarely hears Spanish kids being told to be quiet because there are, say, adults in the place trying to read. Or listen to the music. Or even watch one of the ubiquitous bloody café/bar TVs. Nor do you see kids being reprimanded for kicking a ball into your shins. Or for cycling across your path, within a foot(30cm) of your legs. And even in school corridors you don't see the teachers telling the little rug-rats to be quiet. Or at least less noisy.

That's my take anyway. Feel completely free to disagree.

Not only in Andalucia: No, not corruption this time, but house demolitions. HT to reader Siera for the news that 154 buildings have recently been knocked down here in Galicia because they were illegal. Or because the owners weren't powerful enough. I don't see any mention of the house of an ex-Minister built and expanded illegally close to the sea along our coast.

Driving Licence Points: Another HT to Sierra, I think, for the rider that one's 12 points can increase to 15, if you keep your nose clean for a few years. So, a mixture of losses and gains. How do you achieve this? – with apologies again for repetition – You never take your hands off the steering wheel nor your eyes off the road; you never switch on anything that might distract you; you never move your head; and, most importantly of all, you never, ever drive above 50km outside a town or above 30 in a town. Possibly 25 in some. That should keep you safe from blood-sucking. Of course, the alternative is just to get on with life and regard the fines you'll surely accumulate as a part of your total income tax.

Spanish Banks: Still in trouble. Well, the BBVA anyway. Here's Don Quijones on their latest woes and moans.

English, Spanglish: I was, anyway, going to provide this list of words that the Spanish Royal Academy is very unhappy about. But now I read that it has initiated an ad campaign against the 'invasion' of English words. Which will surely be a glorious (vainglorious?) failure. You can see it -and laugh at it? - here. And these are the detested words. Or some of them, at least. Since the acronym of the academy is RAE, I call this RAEling against English. Geddit? . . . ecofriendly, light, influence, founder, cool, vintage(meaning 2nd hand), spot, after, after-work, hipsters, streaming, running, casting, selfie, and underground.

Spanish English: Not to be outdone, The Local has come up with 10 words that were originally English but have now been taken into Spanish and re-invented. See here

Finally . . . Daft English Words: Advertising is, of course, rife with nonsensical words and phrases. The most recent I've heard is your hair-cleaning ritual. Or 'shampooing' as we used to call it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ponters Pensées 24.5.16

Spanish (non)Government: Can it be that the charisma-less Marion Rajoy is about to emerge triumphant from the repeated elections next month, having seen off – at least for now – the prospect of a Catalan referendum and the threat from the Left? Much as I hate to admit it, this is looking more and more likely, as what's left of Spain's middle class is increasingly viewing the right-wing PP austerity party as the the least worst option. Especially when compared with the Podemos-IU coalition, which makes Jeremy Corby's UK Labour party look like neo-conservatives. Said middle class, by the way, is said to have lost 3m members, as result of the economic havoc wreaked by La Crisis.

More Police Abuse: Down in Madrid, a woman has copped an on-the-spot fine for carrying a bag that declared "All Cats Are Beautiful", plus the acronym ACAB. Despite the fact it also carried the image of a cat, the police claimed this stood for "All Cops Are Bastards". The relevant law is the ludicrously misnamed Citizens Security Law, which criminalises 'disrespecting' the police. In their judgment. I'd hazard a guess the police are even more disrespected now, as a result of this action. Can one imagine this happening elsewhere in Western Europe? Not sure about Eastern Europe.

Spain v the USA: My net colleague Lenox of Business Over Tapas cited this blog post the other day, describing it as 'silly'. I think it's very illustrative.

The EU: See The Times article at the end of this post for a sceptical view of what's being done – or not – to solve the Greek debt crisis.

The Brexit: My personal view aside, I've always insisted this isn't going to happen. The leading brain of the Out camp, Dr Richard North, long ago despaired of the strategy and tactics of his (estranged) colleagues in this movement. Today he sums things up thus: All Vote Leave needed was a sensible exit plan and most of the scaremongering would have evaporated. Instead, they based their campaign on a lie and chosen a serial liar[Boris Johnson] to lead it, having rejected the very idea of an exit plan. The last comment is a reference to his own detailed plan, Flexit. You can read this here. Though I very much doubt that (m)any of you will do this. The guy deserves a medal of some sort.

Galician Gypsies: Shoot-outs between different clans are not uncommon here. But I imagine everyone in an Ourense hospital was rather surprised by the one which took place there a while ago. At the trial last week, the defence of the accused was based on the claim that “They started it a while ago. In another place”.

Pontevedra Internet: After 16 years of complaints about only getting 0.5 megas, Telefónica have finally extended their cable network up our hill overlooking Pontevedra. Given that they'll surely get 100% take-up of '300 megas' at €62-82 per month, I'm lost as to why this took so long . I say €62-82 but the flier from Telefónica neglected to tell us there's also a 30 megas option at €50. Much better, of course, than €25 for 0.5 megas but still probably way above what you'd pay elsewhere in Europe. Is it any surprise that the Telefónica board is stuffed with ex-government ministers?

Finally . . . RT TV: Yesterday morning: Russia hasn't invaded any country – not Georgia, not Crimea, nor Ukraine. Anyway, Georgia started that war. Russian is not guilty of any aggression at all. It's all anti-Russian Western propaganda. Reflective of the meme of a 'dangerous Russia'. It's laughable. Thank God younger people have access to get the truth from the internet.


Why the EU is keeping quiet about Greek debt.     Ed Conway

In the 5th century BC the Greek philosopher Zeno described what became known as his paradox. An arrow fired towards a target will cover half the distance to the target, then half what remains, then half what remains after that, and so on. On this basis, while the arrow might get ever closer to its target, it will never actually hit it.

Zeno’s paradox isn’t much cop in the real world, or archery contests, but it does at least help to explain modern Greek economics: the closer we get to a deal, the more apparent it is that the country’s crisis will never be fully resolved.

In case you haven’t been following Greece recently, here are the three things you need to know.
First, in spite of various “deals” hatched over the past few years, most recently the bailout last summer, the country still faces the same problems it always has. Growth is non-existent. In fact the economy is shrinking again, by 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2016. Total national income is smaller than it was before the turn of the millennium. House prices are still falling and are now barely more than half their pre-crisis value. Shop prices are down too, leaving the country in deflation, while unemployment is still running at almost 25 per cent, or more than 45 per cent of under-25s. The national debt is set to reach about 200 per cent of gross domestic product this fiscal year according to the International Monetary Fund’s most recent analysis, which is already out of date.

The second thing to remember is that Greece’s creditors are divided. Most economists believe the country cannot recover unless a significant chunk of its debt is simply written off. However the majority of that debt is now owed not to private investors but to other eurozone governments. The Germans have resisted any immediate effort to cancel the debts; the IMF says it will not take part in future bailouts unless Germany does precisely that.

Third, the participants are doing everything they can to disguise the crisis until Britain’s referendum is out of the way. One thing worse than Greece being thrown out of the euro would be Britain leaving the EU, so the more they can suppress news of the continent’s own entrenched problems the better. It is worth being more sceptical than usual about any apparent breakthroughs in the coming weeks.

There are two ways of helping Greece, both of which originate from the UK

Eurozone finance ministers meet on Tuesday for another effort to resolve the crisis. We are told that creditors seem to be putting aside their differences, which is excellent news if it is to be believed. Behind the scenes they are hatching plans to extend the maturity of Greece’s debt so that some of it is not repaid until as late as 2080. Another idea is to hive off some of the debt owed to other eurozone countries to the European Stability Mechanism, which is more or less the same as mutualising it into Europewide debt.

While such proposals would be progress, they pussyfoot around the real issue, which is that Greece will never be able to pay off its debts. Quite simply, the liabilities have risen far beyond the country’s capacity to service and repay them.

Since the crisis began half a decade ago, the strategy has been “extend and pretend”: keep Greece on life support and hope that the country’s economy eventually recovers. In some cases, such plans work a treat, but in Greece it has clearly failed. Some 16 years of economic progress has been wiped out; national income has collapsed by 28 per cent — greater than anything witnessed in a developed economy. Now, once again, Greece is close to running out of money, unable to make its July debt repayments of €300 million to the IMF and €2.3 billion to the European Central Bank.

Yet there are at least two other ways of reducing the effective debt burden without forgetting it entirely, both of which originate not from Brussels but from the UK.

The first would be to do what Britain used to do when faced with enormous war-sized debts, and issue war loans. Consols, as they are sometimes called, are perpetual loans for which the borrower makes regular interest payments but does not repay the debt itself until they see fit, perhaps centuries later. George Osborne repaid some of Britain’s First World War debt only a couple of years ago.

Far better for Greece to convert its debts into consols and remove those painful capital repayments altogether than to pretend that they will be repaid in 2050 or 2080.

The second idea comes courtesy of the Bank of England, which for the past year or so has been quietly working on plans to create bonds linked to gross domestic product. Given that a country’s capacity to pay its debt often hinges on its national income, the attraction of such instruments is clear. Borrow in GDP-linked bonds and when your economy faces a recession, your liabilities shrink alongside your economy rather than ballooning out of control as they did for Greece.

Some countries, Greece included, have issued some primitive GDP bonds in recent years but they have been crude and niche. With the Bank poised to agree standards on such bonds, that might be about to change.

Such ideas might seem outlandish but finding a remedy for unsustainable sovereign borrowing is not just a Greek imperative. From the UK to the US and beyond, the world is more mired in government debt than it has been for decades. Either it will need to be paid back or, like Zeno, we must find a way of ensuring the arrow never reaches its target. Greece might be a useful test case for the rest of us.

I mentioned that Telefónica is bringing cable up ou hill: Here's a view or 2 from my eyrie above Pontevedra:




Monday, May 23, 2016

Ponters Pensées 23.5.16

Iberian Culture: ‘The Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages was a cultural, linguistic, and religious crossroads where Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were in constant contact. This lecture explores five examples of what this world looked like through its literature, drawing on Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, and other Iberian Romance languages’. Listen to the lecture here. BTW – I've deleted the definition of the Iberian Pensinsula from the above quote. I assume it was directed at US readers, as the speaker hails from the Univ. of Oregon.

It Will Surely Happen One Day: I'm on record as saying it should be blown up, so I was pleased to hear that: An advocacy group for victims is demanding the exhumation of Gen Francisco Franco from his tomb insisting that Spanish taxpayers should not be paying for its upkeep. More here.

Driving in Spain: The Points System: In contrast with those countries where you gain penalty points, here you start with 12 points and then progressively lose them as the various police forces – now essentially branches of the Tax Office (Hacienda) – find reasons to stop and fine you. Often under their power as investigator, prosecutor, judge and appeal court to fine you for being 'distracted' at the wheel. For example, by turning your head too far. Or having your elbow on the open window frame. Having had this happen to me 6 times in 15 years – against none in the previous 30 years – I feared I'd have only 1 or 2 points left on my licence. To my great surprise, it turned out to be 12 - largely because the computer hasn't caught up with my latest heinous offence of wearing (disconnected) earphones. As far as I can tell, you get your lost points back after 2 years. Which is handy. If hard to understand. It does seem to mean you have to be a bloody reckless driver over a short period of time to lose your licence here.

The ID Obsession: I've mentioned that I finally called Amazon Spain about the invoice for a 'free' e-book. Before getting to talk about this, I had to give them every conceivable bit of information about myself that they could possibly have in their records. Apart from my dental details, as I recall. No one seemed to ask why this was necessary in addition to the order number.

The European Central Bank: There's a coruscating article from Don Quijones here, in which (s)he points out that: For the ECB the only Europe that counts, the Europe that they’re frantically conjuring figurative rabbits out of hats to keep in tact, is a Europe of giant, failing banks, bloated, debt-laden corporations, and a deeply flawed single currency. . . . The ECB operates under a pitch-black shroud of opacity. Despite engineering monetary policy that has radically redistributed economic risks and rewards throughout the Eurozone, the ECB has not the slightest veneer of democratic oversight. No one really knows what is going on. Spain’s caretaker government just sold €3 billion of 50-year bonds at a yield of 3.45%. The issuance was over-subscribed by €7 billion. This is a mind-blowing turn-up for a country that four years ago needed a bailout to avert financial collapse. It is also a resounding testament to the power of central bank policy to turn economic reality on its head

Galicia: They Get There in the End: I read yesterday that the 3 separate tourist agencies in the city – regional, south-regional (Rías Baixas) and municipal – are to be amalgamated, after many years of separate operation. One positive result will surely be the removal of the kiosks that can tell you everything about one area but nowt about the others. Now for Galicia's 3 small 'international' airports? As if.

Finally . . . You Couldn't Make it Up Dept: The Vatican's anti-Gay therapist, Monsignor Tony Anatrella, is suspected of having sex with his with his patients. See here for more on this sad tale.

Talking of religionists . . . .

And now a treat for you . . . My friend Eamon in La Coruña recently told me of a bizarre - and worrying - experience. I asked him to write it up and here it is:-

A SPANISH VIGNETTE

I put a deposit on a flat here in A Coruña in 2002 and my wife and I moved into the flat in 2004.

We were the first to occupy the building and gradually more owners moved in. It wasn't exactly finished because we had no heating. Everything was electrical so we had storage heaters. But Fenosa refused to connect them because we needed a sub station built into the building to handle the current. Not only that, Fenosa expected us to supply another building as well which was nothing to do with us.

The builder, a local man, was quite friendly but I began to see his other side and he was just another crook on the take. I told him before I was to purchase the flat that everything would be above board and I was not going to get involved with any of the black money syndrome that everyone seemed to partake in. Fine, he said, as he took my deposit.

The building lacked a water pump to give pressure for the flats on the fourth floor to the sixth. The building was supposed to have a meeting room but the builder didn't put a door in for access and was keeping it for his own benefit. He put in a false floor/ceiling in the garage and from there he had access to the meeting room. The sewer pipes blocked up and flooded the garage and from there the water etc. entered the portal where the walls were lined with lovely timber. It all got wet and buckled. He refused to repair the damage and the insurance inspector tried to tell us there was a natural spring under the portal floor which was causing the damp so they would not pay out. I

In the meantime we refused to pay €6,000 of the flat price till he got things sorted out with Fenosa. The community hired a lawyer to deal with all the problems this involved but it proved to be waste of time because in the end we sorted it out with the help of a notario. It took a year to do that by the way, so the first year was freezing in the flat.

When it came time to do the escritura the builder kept calling me reminding that he wanted €20,000 in a plastic bag which I would bring to the notario's office on the day of the signing. The night before the signing the builder and his wife turned up at our apartment at 11 pm to remind me about the black money or else there would be a lot of trouble for me. I said don't worry I understand everything. But I turned up with a cheque to cover everything at the signing and no plastic bag. The builder's wife started screaming and carrying on, while waving the cheque saying it was not legal. The notario told her to shut up and sit down as everything was legal. They were now short €20,000 in hidden cash so you can imagine the language used at me. All the owners turned up at the same time for the escritura, a couple with their plastic bags in hand. I noticed the notario went to look out of the window a few times during those exchanges.

The garage in the building does not belong to us and is the builder's private property. He applied for an "vado"[a ban on parking in front of the garage], claiming it was under the ownership of the community of residents. When I was vice president for the community in 2011, we received a letter in error from the town hall demanding payment for the vado. We went to the town hall to discover he had forged my name to get it. How that can be done here is a wonder, considering they are so keen on your DNI identity card.

I went back and removed the sign. A busybody saw me doing it and called the builder who turned up with his wife and son and spent a good half-hour shouting up to my apartment from the street because they couldn't get into the building. They called the police who turned up and charged me with theft. They didn't seem too interested in the son's threat to cut my throat after I let the police into the building. I explained that I was legally, according to the initial application, entitled to take the sign down which belonged to the town hall and it would be returned there. You can't talk or reason with the Policia local as they are just not with it.

So far I haven't heard from the courts but everything takes forever here. We ended up having the rotten wood in the portal replaced with marble at a cost of €3,800 and we also had to install the water pump for the other flats.

The water supply pipes in the road are too small to service all the apartment buildings in the street and so are the sewer pipes the Romans put in at the time they were building the tower of Hercules. The town hall sends out a truck every couple of months to flush the pipes. You will be pleased to know that we cut a hole in the wall for the meeting room and blocked his access from the garage by bricking it up. We put in a door and decorated the interior of the room which is very nice.

I still have to keep my eye on the builder's son because he turns up every now and then to check things in the garage which is rented out to owners of several motorbikes and one car.

By the way, it is impossible to cancel a debit card at the bank on behalf of my wife who is bedridden with Alzheimer's and has no idea of anything around her. The bank manager says she must appear in person to cancel it and I shouldn't worry about it because the answer is not to use it. Good advice considering they are still charging me for the privilege of having it in my possession.

I would love to tell you about my experience about getting registered on the padrón [town hall register] but it is just not worth reminding myself of the trauma.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Ponters Pensées 22.5.16

Fag(Cigarette) Packaging: Spain is one of the few countries who've failed to implement an EU directive on making packets bland, unbranded and frightening. The usual culprit, I guess. The politico-corporate nexus which has served both sets of hyper-corrupt leaders so well over many, many years here.

Spanish Football again: Football in Spain is a very technical game. The best football is here, says Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side was dumped out of the Champions League semi-finals by Real Madrid. See here for a nice comment on Liverpool's disastrous performance against Sevilla last week.

The Pursuit of Happiness: Some university researchers have discovered that we're happier when we are part of a group, whether this is the family or something else such as a hobby group. Who on earth would have thought it? The researchers have now moved on, as Private Eye would say, to investigate whether the Pope is a Catholic and whether bears shit in the woods.

A Brexit: Britain's luvvies have come out en masse against this, claiming they need Brussels (i. e. its gelt) in order to remain creative and productive. The estimable Allison Pearson responds to this cant here. As she says: The arguments put forwardare laughable. What are the 282 signatories actually extolling here? Surely not the actual functioning, or dysfunctioning, EU, which is elitist, white, male, dictatorial and hideously bureaucratic – everything that the artistic spirit rightly rebels against. What they really love, then, is a platonic ideal of Europe, of solidarity between friendly nations with each other’s best interests at heart. Marvellous idea, darlings, until you look at Greece. Punished, fearful and running out of medicine, the Greek people had to be sacrificed for the greater European ideal.

The UK NHS: After a fall and a knock on the head, the 90 year old mother of a German friend went to the Emergency unity of her local hospital in Devon last week. After waiting 10 hours, she was seen to and sent home, without any X-ray being taken. She returned the next day and was admitted, but died overnight because of blood on the brain. The coroner – rightly – suspects negligence and has only issued an interim death certificate, pending a full investigation. Conclusion: The British coroner service might well be 'the envy of the rest of the world' but I continue to doubt that the NHS merits this ludicrous accolade. I wonder if this would have happened in, say, Holland – where the health service operates on the basis of compulsory insurance. Whatever, here's an article on the subject of the NHS's 'inefficiencies and failures', suggesting ways it could be improved. All of which will be attacked from the Left as 'creeping privatisation'.

Border Collies: I've had 2 of these wonderful, intelligent dogs, the last one living for more than 17 years, against an average for the breed of 12.5. I guess I must have been doing something right. Anyway, a young working sheepdog has just been sold for a record £15,000 in the UK. The story here.

Pontevedra Pigeon Problem: The chap at the next table to me in a café yesterday - almost certainly a tourist - was clearly thrilled to be approached by a single pigeon. He first offered it his entire slice of cake and then scattered crumbs on the floor when it declined the whole thing. Predictably, within 3 minutes there were almost 20 of these flying rats around his feet. Astonishingly, he seemed pleased and impressed by this 'achievement'. If I'd had a machine gun, it would have been a toss up between him and the filthy birds. And the huge seagull which landed on another table a few minutes later, devouring in gulps the 2 cakes left on it. Outside my usual midday bar, I find a strong water-pistol is enough to keep the rapacious birds away. Amazingly, they seem to recognise me, departing as I arrive. No bird-brains, then.

Finally . . . . Russia's RT 'News' channel. Here's an interesting insight into one of their current stars, Alexander Mercouris. You couldn't make it up. As someone has said: In attempting to offer "an alternate point of view", it's forced to talk to marginal, offensive, and often irrelevant figures. You can say that again.


Here - very briefly- is the most beautiful and intelligent granddaughter ever born . . . 


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Ponters Pensées 21.5.16

The EU and a Brexit. I don't think the EU President, Mr Juncker, - for all his excellent English - understands Brits at all. For he's just warned they'll be treated as 'deserters' if they jump off the EU train that's heading - albeit slowly - for the bumpers. Gisela Stuart, a (German born) Labour MP and a prominent Brexiter, commented: Another day, another threat from those trying to intimidate the British people into voting to remain in the failing EU. These extraordinary comments are a new low. Quite. And pretty stupid. I'd be delighted with them if I were running the Leave campaign.

Conversations at El Tráfico: I went to pay my earphones fine yesterday, only to find that the municipal Fines Office no longer deals with these. One of the 3 other options was the Tráfico Department, which was convenient as I was on my way there to check on the points on my licence. Here are the 4 conversations I had there:-
1. With the lady who took my money:
Here's my licence.
Thanks. Could you give me your ID card too?
Why is that necessary, as you have my licence and I'm here to give you money?
Well, we need both otherwise we can't take your money. A chap came in the other day to pay his wife's fine but only had his own ID. So we couldn't take his money.
Right ??? . . . Here it is.
2. With a lady in the Enquiries queue about a clerk who was doing nothing:
Do you think he's actually working?
It doesn't look like it.
3. With the lady at the Enquiries desk:
I'm here to check my points. Here's the response I keep getting [giving here a copy of the web page entitled Request for an Access Code]. It keeps telling me I'm not registered in your system.
You need an Access Code.
Err . . .That's what I've been trying to get. And [pointing at the document] that's always the reply.
You're supposed to get an appointment to talk to me.
[Barefacedly lying] I'm sorry. I didn't know the system until I got here.
Fill in this form and then give it to my colleague, [Mr Idle].
4. 'Conversation' with Mr Idle:
[Me, sliding over the completed form]: . . . .
[Him, checking on his computer]: . . . .
[Him, handing me a print-out]: . . . .
[Me, pointing at my licence still on his desk]: . . .
[Him, sliding my licence back to me]: . . .
Too tired to talk? Whatever, all excellent examples of Spanish bureaucracy at work. Other than for reasons of job-creation, I couldn't understand why Mr Idle wasn't also dealing with enquiries, reducing the wait in the queue. Anyway, on the way to my regular midday bar, I passed the central police station. There was a 4x4 of theirs outside, half parked on the pavement. You get heavily fined for that. Usually.

Galician Celticness: I happened upon this comment yesterday in a flier for a Celtic Festival in New Mexico: Galicia is an area of Spain and Portugal and is one of the 7 official Celtic tribes. Well, No and No. True, there used to be Celts in Galicia but this is also true of the whole of northern Spain (Cantabria and Asturias) and also of northern Portugal. It's not clear why the other Iberian regions were excluded from this claim. But, anyway, there are only 6 official Celtic nations, all of which still have Celtic languages. And none of the Iberian regions is/are among these. That said, no one would deny Galicians the pleasure they take from their Celtic connection. It helps to define the regional identity which is so important in Spain, where local fidelity can rank above national fidelity. Most obviously in Cataluña, of course.

Bull Baiting. There's an annual fiesta in the city of Tordesillas which centres on the chasing, harrying, stabbing, lancing and killing of an angry, terrified and exhausted bull. As a result of national and international disgust at this barbaric event, the final act has now been banned. At least in public. However, nothing is said in the decree about all the prior activities. Plus ça change . . .?

Finally . . . Another Local Conversation Yesterday: With a female friend. And one I probably couldn't have safely in the UK:-
I see you're sporting even more cleavage than yesterday.
For goodness' sake, Coleen. It's summer!

Here's a few of the 200 escudos which adorn 15th and 16th century buildings in Pontevedra's gem of an old quarter. If you want to see more of them, write to me at colin@terra.com: Which must be one of the shorter email addresses in the world . . . 




Friday, May 20, 2016

Ponters Pensées 20.5.16

Spanish Names: Spain might not be a very religious country these days but traditional names remain popular. But they're being slowly ousted by more modern monickers, such as Neymar and Iker. Football stars, in case you're not familiar with them. Click here for more on this.

Generous Spaniards: Almost 100% of Spaniards support the taking in of refugees from the Middle Eastern war zones and nearly 20% say they'd put them up in their homes. Hmm. See here for details of an Amnesty International survey. The UK also does very well.

Lucky Brits?: There may be as much as €2.64 billion available for these. This is the amount of money paid as deposits to builders who failed to deliver the contracted properties. This optimism stems from a “ground-breaking” (surprising?) court judgment in favour of those cheated. Details here. Personally, I wouldn't be too confident of seeing a single centimo. For at least another 5 years. And quite possibly ever.

Spanish Corruption: The domestic media regularly tells us that corruption is endemic here and that this is the most corrupt society among the original 15 members of the EU. And the New York Times has averred that Spain's system of government one of the most corrupt in Europe. So, how come one could live all one's life here and never witness it, even when buying or selling property these days? Well, the clue lies in the phrase 'system of government'. It's the politicians and bureaucrats who've acted for centuries as if they had a god-given right to plunder the national, regional and municipal coffers. So much so that it's virtually impossible to believe a single one of them is honest. Or poor. A related aspect is the scandalous lack of protection - to say the very least – for whistleblowers here. Quotes: 1. Spain is among a handful of European nations without legislation for whistle-blowers. 2. Spain has not followed up on OECD recommendations on this issue. 3. This lack of legislation, many here believe, has contributed to a culture of impunity. Spain is different, as they say. Will things change soon? I rather doubt it, despite public anger. The very corrupt PP party is most likely to be back in power quite soon. Your tribe is more corrupt than my tribe is the national motif.

The Internet:
  • Here's how to turn off at least some of Facebook's irritating 'helpful' initiatives.
  • For searching, I use Duckduckgo, as it doesn't track me for advertising purposes. However, this company – unlike Google – doesn't stop the numerous useless citations such as these that dominated the initial pages of a search I made this morning for who is pjs injunction. . . . . . .houseinteriordecors.science/new-update/who-is-pjs-injunction . . . . . .http://carupdate.work/auto/who-is-pjs-celebrity-injunction

Finally . . . . Are you Heaven or Hell bound? Here's one FB app which you might want to have fun with. But probably not.


Here are 3 fotos I took yesterday in one of the few streets in Ponteveda's old quarter where one can see dereliction. These 2 houses are side by side and represent terrific opportunities for reform, if you've got the dosh.






And this is a house in the same street which has recently been restored to itrs original glory:-




The foto doesn't really do justice to the mellow-yellow colour of the granite when the sun is on it. Thankfully, the doors and windows are of wood and not of that ubiquitous bloody plastic stuff with which tasteless folk ruin their renovations. Being very, very old, the place has its own family escudo(shield) on the facade. Two, in fact.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ponters Pensées 19.5.16

As usual on a Thursday morning, I'm indebted to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for a couple of these observations . . .

Corruption in Spain:
  • A 'risky endeavour' says this writer in the New York Times.
  • Andalucia is the most corrupt region in Spain. The details and the dramatis personae would leave you gobsmacked. And now the leader of the Junta there – a candidate for the PSOE leadership – is to be questioned over the humungous €2-3bn EU fraud centred on phoney training companies. Along, of course, with her husband. But not their new baby. There are limits. Even in Spain.
The EU and Spain: You knew it was coming . . . The Commission won't be imposing fines on Spain before the June elections re-run for its latest failure – the 8th or 9th in a row – to keep the annual deficit below 3%. The 2015 figure was 5.1% of GDP, against a much lower government forecast of whatever it was. Can't recall. No one believed it anyway. This decision will undoubtedly help the right-of-centre, austerity-oriented PP party.

Spanish Culture: Two useful listsfrom The Local of museums around the country. I've still got a few to go.
Sustainable Energy: ‘Rich in sunshine, Spain is the only country to tax renewable energy self-consumption’, says Mark Stücklin at Spanish Property Insight. Astonishing. If, as I say, you don't live here.

Amazon Spain: Their follow-up is to ask me for evidence that the book was a promotional offer. Or a confirmation that I want re-payment. When they will presumably delete the book from my kindle. So, I'll read it quickly and plump for repayment. Oy vey!

Another Irritation Yesterday; Effing Cyclists: Walking, in bad humour, into town, I was confronted on the pavement by a speeding cyclist in full lycra nonsense, on a bloody racing bike. Unable to knock him off, I swore volubly at him and pointed at the road. As I did with the poor old dear crawling along on a normal bike, 50 metres later. It's clearly time to revert to my practice of carrying a walking stick, held horizontally. The only counter-argument is that I'm bound to leave it somewhere. Or kill someone.

Spanish Words: There are at least 2 words for 'unpunctual': impuntual and informal. This info comes from my lovely neighbour, Ester, who is unbelievably informal but claims her friend, Maria, is even worse. I doubt it. BTW . . . A better translation of informal might be 'casual'.

Spanish Football Teams : Click here for an analysis of why they are kings of the midden at this point in the history of the European game.

Finally . . . . Inevitably, Liverpool v Sevilla last night. I only saw the last 40 minutes and agree entirely with this overview: It was scarcely believable how poor Liverpool were in the second half. See here for his reasons. Two pertinent comments:
  • Sevilla began like Stoke, launching high long balls in the direction of Steven Nzonzi. It was a strategy that surprised Liverpool at first. And as un-Spanish as you can get.
  • From the miracle of Istanbul to bedlam in Basel. This was an embarrassing capitulation from Liverpool.
Another commentary here, if you're interested. In both articles, the finger is pointed at Moreno - His habit of being easily circumvented followed him all the way to Switzerland.  . . . Moreno's defensive aberrations were a clue to the real truth - Liverpool’s talent base is still too low to match their ambitions.

I would care a lot more about this if I weren't an Evertonian.

I can't find a cartoon with the tagline It's only a game. So you'll have to make do with this:



And this, for Liverpool supporters:


That old Scouse humour, eh? Can't beat it for rapier-like wit.

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