Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 28.3.17

Spanish Politics
  1. The Presidenta of Andalucia looks set to be the next leader of the left-wing PSOE part – until recently the main Opposition party here. As Andalucia is infamous – far and wide – for corruption, I imagine that under her aegis the party will be even less interested than it has been in forcing the PP government to set up a parliamentary commission to inquire in Spain's institutionalised corruption. 
  2. President Rajoy has insisted there' be no snap election, designed to increase the PP's slim majority. One commentator has remarked that, if he really believes this, he must be the only person in the country who does.
The Spanish Economy: There was a nice article in the Voz de Galicia yesterday about percebes, or goose-barnacles – the dreadful snack which costs a small fortune. But really the article was about the gulf between what I've called the macro and micro aspects of the Spanish economy. Terms also used by the writer. I've attached a tarted-up Google machine translation at the end of this post.

Spanish Life: I had 2 of 'those conversations' yesterday:

At the library (where, incidentally, the staff do little more than make more noise than the customers)
I'm returning this book
OK but it's late and now you're blocked until 3 April from taking out any other book
It's because they didn't give me a slip with the date on it.
You have to take one from the box on top of the counter
They used to give out slips
Well, we don't any more

In an IT shop (having noticed the Apple logo everywhere):-
I see you sell Apple products. Are you an official outlet?
Now, we're not an official distributor. There's no Apple shop locally.
There's one in Vigo.
But you can repair Apple products, yes?
Yes, we do everything they do, at the same prices.
I would have thought you'd be cheaper.

Actually, I had a 3rd but I can't now recall where . . .

Spanish Language Corner: A neologism: Robolución. I guess this would be 'Robolution' in English. I thought it had something to do with rapid progress in the ousting of humans by robots but the Urban Dictionary defines it as 1. A revolution in the mind, often the result of inspired poetry. And 2. A new hairstyle being spread in Richmond, VA among "hip artists". Hmm.

Yesterday's Voz de Galicia headlined the astonishing news that the region's retirees aged between 55 and 65 now earn double what older retirees get. And 50% more than people in work. I find it hard to see how this has come about but it can't bode well for the future.

In a comment to yesterday's post reader Sierra cites a news item of the profiteering of the Trump family. I was going to say 'presidential family' but the adjective sounds rather inappropriate, given that 'huckster' is a word that surely should be added to my recent table of comments re the man. By the way, there's an even bigger and nastier nationalist on the world stage at the moment – Turkey's President Erdogan. A man who wants to take his country even further backwards than Mr T wants to take his.

Following up my point about the difference between (bad) nationalism and (good) patriotism . . .
Speaking as someone who feels both British, European and a bit Spanish, I ask: Is there anyone who feels patriotic about the EU? Apart from the imbecilic Juncker, of course. Who last year said that national borders were the worst ever creation of politicians. If I were a theist, I'd have to say he must be one of God's worst creations.

Finally . . . Looking for a local typing service, I yesterday happened upon this nameplate:-

Research identified Anatheoresis as a therapy which was created by Joaquín Grau. And means “To look backwards watching the past in order to unbury it and bring it to the present to be understood and cleared up". Grau appears to be a Spaniard, based in Barcelona, who has a 'qualification' from Bircham Universtity – also based in Barcelona. This institution features, not surprisingly, on a list of 'diploma mills' and provides you with degrees for pretending to read course books. And paying a fee. Others on this list include these well-known UK universities:-
The U of Doncaster
The U of England, Oxford
The U of Palmers Green
The U of Wyoming, London
The U of Devonshire 
The U of Buxton
The U of Canterbury
The U of Chelsea
The U of Summerset(sic)

As of today, they are to be joined by The U of Poio. Apply for the course of your choice to colin@terra.com

Today's cartoon, dedicated to Latina women, particularly Colombians:-

I spotted you as soon as you walked in. I never forget a facelift. (Un lifting, in Spanish, by the way)

Eating percebes again   Pablo Armas. The 'Voz de Galicia'-

The taxpayer, faced by some economic analyses, and the consumer, faced by some percebes, wonders how they are to be eaten. The economy is going well, but most citizens do not notice this in their day to day lives. Those who ate percebes before the crisis continue to eat them now, because they can afford them and know how to eat them. Those who could not eat percebes then cannot eat them now, because they cannot afford them and, in the opinion of the former, they do not know how to eat them. The new rich, who are fed up with eating percebes, cannot eat them now, because they have gone from middle-high class to middle-lower class and have forgotten how percebes are eaten. It's a question of macroeconomics and microeconomics

The macroeconomy is going well. Employment, GDP, CPI, public spending, domestic demand, household savings, car sales, house prices, number of tourists and exports all grow. But also growing are job insecurity, temporary employment, youth unemployment, the lack of protection of the long-term unemployed, the bill for electricity and gas, the excluded population, the population at risk of poverty, the wage gap, the generational gap and the gender gap. However, social security affiliations, pension funds and expectations of meeting the deficit targets set by Brussels to the autonomous communities are down. How do you eat the fact that that the budgetary adjustments have not cleaned up the public accounts? How do you eat the fact that annual interest on the debt exceeds the budgets for health, education and the strategy for active employment put together? How do you eat the fact that the fall in wages has not improved competitiveness? How do you eat the fact that financial bailout has provided liquidity for the banks but not for families or small businesses? How do you eat the fact that a higher business profit margin has not translated into a greater investment in capital goods? How do you eat the fact that the labour reform has swallowed collective bargaining?

The microeconomy of the percebe is not doing so well. The production is natural, but harvesting is risky, especially of the 'sun percebes', those of thick and short peduncle, clinging to rocks more exposed to strong waves in the cliffs of Ortegal or Roncudo. To the value for money ratio must be added the quality-risk ratio. The cooking doesn't increase costs, since it only needs a brief boiling with salty water, better if it's seawater, to obtain the characteristic intense flavour. In the case of the percebes, as in that of the economy, warm cloths are useful, but only to keep them warm. Once they are uncovered, there's the frustration of the average diner, who has forgotten how to eat them.

You have to re-teach him how to eat percebes. He has to learn to separate the carapace from the peduncle, without the treacherous squirt blinding his eyes or splattering his branded suit bought a few years ago. He has to learn to hold the carapace of the percebe with one hand and to practice a small incision with the thumbnail of the other hand just below the carpace of the percebe to tear the skin. He has to learn to turn both hands in opposite directions, energetically, in order to twist, strangle and decapitate the percebe. After this dramatic settling of accounts, he has to learn to detach the peduncle from the skin and taste it as if it were the last percebe of his life. In the face of doubt between throwing away the carapace of the percebe or sucking it with delight, he has to learn not to squander it and not to live beyond his possibilities. The percebes are to be eaten, but you must know how to eat them. Meanwhile, we must see what happens with the budgets, because as we know: "The percebe and the salmon, in May are in season."

No, I don't know WTF he's going on about either. Doubtless Alfie Mittington can enlighten us.


Eamon said...

The percebes article is quite interesting and if you read it backwards from end to beginning it means exactly the same as reading it from beginning to end. If you copy the article and translate it to German using Google then back to English it is even more interesting.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear boy,

Ms Suzanna Diaz has no objecions at all to setting up a parliamentary commission to investigate institutional corruption, as long as the commission concentrates exclusively on the corruption of the PP…

Is you are appalled at not getting a paper slip from your library with the return date of your books, just wait for what the future will bring. The Carrefour supermarket chain has just announced that soon it will no longer give clients a paper receipt for their acquisitions. Instead, you will be given an app which sends the details of your purchases to your smartphone. If you have a smartphone… If not, f*** you...

There are vast numbers of people (especially the young) who are utterly patriotic about the European Union, as long as they get paid to be so. See the humongous enthusiastic spontaneous demonstrations two days ago all over the European capitals at the occasion of the 60th birthday of the Treaty of Rome…

Lastly: could the UniPoio organize a Ph D in Astro-economitry for me? It sounds like a most fascinating subject!

Yours, IntellectuAl

Perry said...

"How do you eat the fact" is translated by Google as "Como comes el hecho". Are those the words used in the article? I tried "How do you handle the fact/Como manejas el hecho", but the English language is more direct; we ask "What do you think of the fact/Que piensas del hecho".

Here is a link previously on how to eat percebes. How hard can it be?


According to the reporter in BC, percebes are crustaceans; a new fact for me.


Maria said...

Patriotism is a difficult concept. I have felt more American than Spanish for many years. Even now, I still don't feel wholly Spanish, and I never will. Europe, to me, is where my home lies. I do feel European, as opposed to North American. I also feel a bit of a nationalist love for this little region that has sheltered my ancestors. Nationalist, rather than patriotic, because I feel the tug of "us" as opposed to "them", "them" being the rest of Spain, which, while being similar to "us", are still different. Though I would never take nationalism to the extreme of advocating independence.

What I feel has been described as being a "TCK", or "Third Culture Kid." That refers to someone who has grown up with one or two different cultures, and has gone on to live in a third. Having adapted to differences, a TCK person will create a unique culture which is an amalgamation of the different cultures he has experienced.

As a footnote to the bono social, I have received the contract in the mail. I simply have to sign it and return it. Apparently, they seem to have the data that this is our principle home and not a vacation place. Straightforward. Too straightforward. How much will the probable glitch cost me? I await my first bill with the bono social.

Anthea said...

I know a fair number of younger people, born after the Uk joined the Common Market, as it was then. All their adult lives the Common Market has been the EU. They have never kniwn a world without it. So, yes, they do feel,patriotic about it.

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