Friday, May 19, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 19.5.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Life in Spain 1:-
  • Tax amnesties here are never what they're claimed to be. They're essentially a trap and there's always some 'small print' designed to catch and penalise people who think they're regularising their tax affairs without penalty. Often - if not always - they'll face a fine of some sort. Eventually. For: 89% of those who sought an amnesty over their foreign holdings back in 2012, have still not been audited by the the Tax Office, La Hacienda. Painful but at least slow. With luck you might die before you get done.
  • HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas who tells us of an article in El Ideal reporting that what we foreign residents like are; the food, the street life, the buen rollo; the climate; and the people. What we don't like are: the bureaucracy; the lack of initiative; the low salaries; and the poor spoken English. No comment from me, except that I couldn't care less about the level of English. Though, yes, it is something that at least the President should be better at.
  • I've got this note of a quote from someone but I can't recall who: Except when you're a victim of it, the Spanish justice system seems to be a bit of a joke. Possibly a Spaniard with experience of it.  
  • Second HT to Lenox for this NYT laudatory article on Spain's healthcare system.

Life in Spain 2: Moans:-

  • I'm still finding it impossible to access the site of the Spanish national rail operator, Renfe. So I wasn't surprised to see that is rated 1.0 out of 5. And that someone had posted on Tripadvisor: It’s the most dysfunctional website I’ve ever used. Fortunately, one can get train times from the Corte Inglés site.
  • Corporate Spain seems to me to show a lack of concern about their customers having to waste time to get things done. So it is that today I will be making my 3rd visit to Banco Pastor/Popular to close my account and withdraw the cash in it.
  • Another case in point . . . Having moved banks, I've had to change all my direct debits. Doing this with Telefónica(Movistar) yesterday, I was told that the current bill - due June 1 – was in process and couldn't be stopped. After Pastor has rejected it, I have to go to the Post Office and pay the bill there. Even more irritating than this were the dogged attempts by the employee to sell me:- 1. A new package which would raise my bill, and 2. A second mobile phone. In the end, I had to put down the phone to stop the spiel. And then there was the bloody machine follow-up call asking me to rate the service! As I've been saying for years, I'm not sure Telefónica really understands the concept of customer orientation. They just play at it, using IT technology but retaining monopolistic corporate attitudes.
Local Stuff
  • The issue of a high speed train from La Coruña right down to Lisbon has been resurrected, after Le Crisis killed it years ago. I can't imagine it'll be operating before 2040. If ever.
  • Six years after the Galician government announced it was going to coordinate the development of our 3 suboptimal airports, it has now admitted that localism has totally prevented this and that the relevant 3 cities continue to engage in subsidy battles that are doing the region no favours at all.
  • On the day I was witness to a near collision between 2 drivers each in the wrong lane on a roundabout/circle, I read that the new turborotondas - which have lanes painted on them - have significantly reduced the accident rate. We need more of them.
  • I daily watch 'pilgrims' enter Pontevedra's old quarter via the Portuguese Gate and then - for the most part - turn immediately left down the camino to leave the city across Burgo bridge. Meaning they don't see the gem of our old quarter. About which I am rather ambivalent. I often give pilgrims a (free) tour of our wonderful casco viejo but I'm not sure I really want more tourists there.

Finally . . .  You have to laugh . . . Donald Trump – quite possibly the most divisive politician in world history – has complained that current developments show that “We’re not together as a country.” Nowt to do with him, it seems.

Today's cartoon:-


Maria said...

Telefónica is a monopolistic dinosaur that has an insatiable appetite for our money and doesn't really care about how it eats us, just as long as it eats. My father passed away last week and I called up to cancel the land line in his house, which shall remain empty. I explained from the beginning the reason for my cancellation, yet the operator still read from the script, asking if instead I wanted to update to a great package of television, land line, cell phone, and internet. I had to almost yell two more times the reasons why I wanted to cancel the contract. Finally, message received. I hope.

Sierra said...

Perhaps put a bid in on your next visit?

Perry said...


I transferred all my money in an old account in one bank to a new account in another bank. When the money was transferred, I closed the old account. It did not take long at all, but Spain being Spain, closing the old account might take longer, but it wouldn't matter because you would have your money. Just a thought!

On the subject of fast trains, you'll be aware of the HS2 nonsense; £50-60 billions to get to Birmingham & somewhere beyond by 2026. First step is to get from Euston to a new station, to be built on the remains of the first station in Birmingham, abandoned for passengers in 1893.

Virgin Trains take about 104 minutes to travel the 105 miles distance & HS2 trains would save 25 minutes for a premium fare. I travelled to Birmingham Moor Street from High Wycombe on Chiltern Trains last Sunday & returned the next day. I purchased my return ticket online for £9, which included 75 pence booking fee. The distance is 88 miles to Moor Street & it took 79 minutes inclusive of five stops. The return journey took 74 minutes. There is free WiFi on board for travellers to be productive, so why would they bother with HS2?

Much as I like trains, they are not futureproofed. When WW1 finished, thousands of soldiers rushed to purchase surplus trucks & start haulage businesses & the railways soon lost goods traffic. Driverless vehicles will do similar damage to passenger traffic, once they become ubiquitous. Intercity railway routes will become convoys of conductor rail, electrically propelled, autonomous modules whisking people at high speed to their destination city & then using stored electricity, if necessary, to continue to their desired stop. However, such a Utopia is out of reach without reliable & inexpensive electricity & solar, wind & tidal generated electricity is anything but reliable & inexpensive.

I reckon Nicolás Maduro is the most divisive politician.

Perry said...

For historicAL,

I became a Freemason 20 years ago because Biblical Archaeology interests me. It was in 2002 that I learned of the death of Dr. Ernest L. Martin, who in 1985 founded Associates for Scriptural Knowledge & was best known for his 1999 book in which he argued that the Jewish Temples were not located on the Haram al Sharif, AKA Temple Mount.

The Haram was the Antonia Fort, started by Herod the Great in 22 BC to garrison Roman troops; it was still being extended by the Romans in 18 AD & completed by 64 AD. It continued to be occupied by the Tenth Legion Fretensis until 289 AD. In 2011, archaeologists were excavating another 8 metres below that 1st century street surface. Beneath the first course of blocks laid at the south end of the Western Wall they discovered a Mikveh cut into the bedrock. It had been filled with rammed earth & covered with 3 stone slabs as a foundation. Mixed in the earth were 17 bronze coins, including 4 coins struck by the Roman procurator of Judæa, Valerius Gratus in the years 17/18 AD.

After Herod the Great died in 4 BC, his successor Herod Archelaus had ruled so badly that at the behest of Augustus, the kingdom became directly governed as the pagan Roman province of Judæa from 6 AD until 41 AD. The Romans might have been prepared to tolerate the Jews quietly worshipping in Herod’s Temple, completed circa 10 BC in the City of David, but allowing them to massively extend a religious site that was an affront to Roman gods? That’s unlikely. Thus, it would have been the Roman soldiers & Jewish masons who had continued to extend their Antonia Fortress, with the work ceasing in 64 AD, in the reign of King Herod Agrippa ll. That’s 85 years after Herod the Great had started building. From Josephus, we learn that there were over 8,000 unemployed workmen in Jerusalem when construction was finally halted. That’s a recipe for an disastrous uprising in anyone’s book.

He wrote: "What has been amazing to me is the vast amount of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian records that remain available from the first to the sixteenth centuries, that clearly vindicate the conclusions that I have reached in this book of research." With that, I started to read everything I could find on the subject & during the last 15 years, other researchers & authors have also come forward & endorsed Dr Martin’s work. Here are some
links. There are many others

However reasonable this new evidence may seem to be, in supporting a location for the Temples sited in the City of David, does this matter to us? To accept a new idea, means having to let go of an old idea.

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