Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pontevdra Pensées: 15.1.17

This is the scene which met me as I left Casa Herminia in Campiello yesterday. 

Father Christmas doesn't muck about round here, once the gift-delivering is over . . .

Shortly thereafter, I had another adventure with my satnav, as I set off for nearby Tineo. I suspected I was going off-piste when it immediately took me down a series of rural lanes, midst farm buildings and pine trees. But I figured it was a short cut to the main road, which I did duly reach. And then went in the wrong direction for at least 10 minutes - until my suspicions were confirmed by the simple fact of arriving in the wrong place. My mistake had been – again! - not to distinguish between the town of Tineo and the borough/comarca of the same name. On top of that, as I normally do, I'd just clicked on the first street on the list. This had given my satnav licence to take me to village a good 15km from the town. Albeit on the same road

Talking of driving . . . Is it me or does Spain – or maybe just Galicia – specialise in low walls, railings or blocks of granite that you can't see when you reverse out of, say, a supermarket carpark space??

Still on this subject . . . The young lady as the Brittany Ferries check-in yesterday was as helpful as maybe only Spanish people can be when you smile and speak in Spanish. Bucking her system, she checked me in and then arranged for me to go to the café and be told when it was the last moment to get on the boat, so I could be first off. And then, at said café, I was served this gigantic glass of Reserve Rioja. It's at least 3 times the size of a normal glass. But, then, the price was of a similar magnitude. The bartender told me, by the way, that British customers insist on red wine being cold. Que va! Without being asked, he warmed my glass with hot water. Happily, I didn't crash into anything when eventually boarding. Before all this, when killing time in a bar in Santander, the owner had insisted on charging my phone for me. Viva españa!

There are at least 4 reasons why I'm not a football coach:
1. I thought Ronaldo would fail at Real Madrid after leaving Manchester United.

2. I had the same opinion of Suarez after his move from Liverpool to Barcelona.

3. Ditto the ageing Swede, Ibrahimovic, who went from Paris St Germain to Manchester United last year.

4. I figured Zidane would be pretty useless as a coach. Real Madrid have just had their 40th successive unbeaten match and are top of the Primera Liga.

Nuff said? 

I've talked of the police becoming more officious in Spain. Right on cue comes a report that they've fined a young man for using a phone while riding down the verge of a main road, in the wrong direction. Said young man then went on the internet to give his unalloyed view of the officers in question. For those of you who can read Gallego, I've added this at the end of this post. OK, it's a bit vitriolic but now he's being prosecuted for 'insulting the armed service'. Presumably the Tráfico department of the Guardia Civil. Spain still feels like it's run by Franco at times. But I do sympathise with the officers who gave the youth the penalty for ignoring the interests of others. Personally, I'd have mown him down in my official 4 x 4.

Finally . . . The Trump: Since, for him, everything is about himself, it's bizarre to think of him taking an oath under which he swears to serve the interests of the country. But this is hardly the most bizarre thing about him, of course. Anyway, below is an article on him worth posting.


Lies, damned lies, and intelligence dossiers

Things that seem too good to be true usually are. The dossier full of allegations about Donald Trump contains a detail so salacious and Caligulan that I found myself almost yelling “Let it be so, please God!” at the computer. When the desire for something to be true is that strong, you need to step back from yourself.

Indeed minutes after the Buzzfeed website published the 35-page dossier some anti-Trumpers suggested that Trump (and/or Russia) had himself leaked the false information so that his critics would be discredited when the allegations were eventually disproved. This conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory could have graced the pages of a David Icke book or the fake news agenda of America’s Alex Jones Show.

But, as ever, most of those who should know better didn’t and social media was awash with people discussing the dossier as if it was established fact. Which was something they couldn’t possibly know.

Of course, if Donald Trump and Russia really are the victims of an elaborate conspiracy theory then it couldn’t have happened to nicer guys. Trump himself ran hard for many months with the absurd “Obama isn’t really American” theory. This entailed him sending investigators to Hawaii to try and turn up material proving that Obama had been born elsewhere, despite his birth notice having been placed contemporaneously in local Honolulu newspapers. Think about that one . . . Trump was open to the idea that Obama was falsely declared to be American and that countless people were in on the plot. Take this Trump tweet from December 2013: “How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in plane crash today. All others lived.” That either means Trump believes this unfortunate person was murdered by the Obamites or it means nothing at all.

The second pleasing irony is that Trump then lied about his previous espousal of this theory. Hillary had started it, he later said (she didn’t) and he had never believed it (except he gave every indication that he did). It is, regrettably, a simple statement of fact that Trump lies routinely and blatantly. So much so that we must assume that neither he nor we are supposed to care about what the actual truth is. We’re just supposed to admire the daring and the effrontery of it all. But that meant that when he tweeted “FAKE NEWS — A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” we had no reason to believe him. A Trump denial is worthless. It has no currency.

The third irony is apparent in another tweet from Trump yesterday. “Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is ‘A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.’ Very unfair!” But he is asking the reader to believe the same Russia that fabricated evidence of Ukrainian involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which killed 298 people. In fact it was a Russian-made surface-to-air missile that brought down the plane. After that no one in their right minds would trust any claim made by Moscow.

The Trump dossier is said to be part of a report sent to Congress by US intelligence agencies who have investigated Russian involvement in the presidential election. The agencies conclude that hackers, almost certainly acting with Kremlin approval, obtained material from the Democratic National Committee and passed it to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It certainly fits with the pattern of Russian activity in other countries, such as France, where politicians hostile to Russia are undermined to assist those who are friendlier.

When the director of US national intelligence published a declassified version of the report last week, it was backed by the NSA, the FBI and the CIA. But, as Russia’s news agency Tass observed, it did not “represent the opinion of the US intelligence community in general” and “the (voting) systems that are suspected to have come under attack were not employed in summarising election returns”. In other words, we didn’t do it and even if we did, it didn’t have an effect on the election result.

It’s remarkable that the various populist insurgencies that have swept America and Europe have one thing in common: approbation for the man who has led Russia for nearly two decades. Nigel Farage likes him. Alex Salmond has expressed some admiration for him. Marine Le Pen courts him. Donald Trump has called him a great leader and very smart and has never, as far as I know, criticised him. But there are reasons why insurgents — particularly on the nationalist side of politics — might identify with a man who has “restored pride” to a nation that had previously lost it. And, after all, my enemy’s enemy often feels like my friend. There would be nothing untoward about any of that. It needn’t imply cash or dodgy favours.

That’s why in normal times I’d be inclined to see the Trump dossier as very suspicious. There is every reason to be sceptical when evaluating lurid claims about links between Donald Trump and the Russians, not least because the parties involved would know that they might be discovered. It would be an absurd risk, as the president-elect said at his press conference yesterday. And, as yet, this is merely the uncorroborated account of a supposed former MI6 officer talking to some anonymous Russian sources.

But these are not normal times — Russia has altered them. Russian internet troll factories are not a figment of a sci-fi writer’s imagination but are established fact. A strategy of disruption aimed at Europe and America is discernible and overrides any assumptions about great power behaviour.

The old post-Khrushchev Soviet Union, like the Chinese today, was risk-averse and preferred to operate according to certainties. It would have seen how extraordinarily dangerous it might be to provoke political chaos in powerful but essentially peaceable adversaries. Such a Russia wouldn’t have wanted to see Donald Trump in the White House.

Putin is not Gorbachev. Today all bets are off. If anyone ever argued that Hillary’s emails needed investigating, then they’ll have to scream for a special inquiry into Trump’s links with Russia. And then let the chips fall where they may.


His internet rant against the cops who booked him:-

Hai xente que pode estar toda a vida conducindo sen carné e andando a toda hostia co coche borracho coma un can, puestísimo ata os ollos e que non os multen na súa puta vida. Despois estou eu, que me multan ata andando na bicicleta. Viva España. Viva el Rey. Viva el orden y la ley. Comédeme os ovos fillos da gran puta, así vos explote o cuartel con vós dentro. Un saúdo.

And a watsap message he circulated . . .

Dinme os gardas: 'No llevas casco, no llevas catadióptricos, no llevas espejo retrovisor...’ Un pouco máis e me piden a puta ITV da bicicleta e a documentación. Así que coidado, como vos vexan, ides flipa.


Anthea said...

I have been served chillde red wine in Northern Spain and in Sicily. Nobody said it was a British thing, just eir local custom. The French, bybthe way, have long mocked the British for drinking beer at room temperature, or as they say "de la cervoise tiède", instead of chilled.

Sierra said...

If you look at the back label of a wine such as Ramon Lopez Murillo Rioja Reserva 2005 (13.5% abv),the recommended serving temperature is 16-18C, i.e., chilled in normal Spanish temperatures (but not this week!)

Perry said...

As for the cyclist, least said, soonest mended. It's a pity he did not read your blog, otherwise he would have seen your previous posts regarding penalties for ragging Spanish rozzers in print.

It's common practice in the UK to chill all beers on tap now. You'd have to find a CAMRA pub where the beer is drawn from barrels on the back bar, in order to get the authentic taste of a good brew. M'sieur Hypolyte would have difficulty in quaffing brews from the British Ales (Isles) & keeping up with the old men supping away in the public bar (do they still exist?). As it 'appens, I'm a cyder man, but not a cider man. I relish Suffolk pressed apples from a French émigré family.

Colin Davies said...

@Sierra. Yes, but the Brits want it from the fridge at 4-5 degrees.

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