Friday, June 02, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 2.6.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Life in Spain:-
  • I went to a bank yesterday to pay my latest tax demand disguised as a speeding fine. Needless to say, I had to show my ID card. When I asked - with a smile - what the logic was of being asked to prove who you are when making a payment, the best the employee could come up with was: Every country has its customs. I'll say.
  • Another example . . . Everyone in Spain has 2 surnames, one from their father and one from their mother, with the first traditionally preceding the second. But things are changing, in the direction of 'less sexism'. Click here for details.
  • A new target for the Revenue departments of the various Spanish police forces?: Fines are now being handed out to cyclists who don’t follow the rules, it's reported.
  • Tourism will account for an extra 550,000 jobs this summer, says the trade association, Hosteltur. Nearly all of them very temporary and poorly paid, I suspect.
  • Down at the tourism coalface, Barcelona is getting really fed up with its share of visitors to (what is still) Spain. Says the city's mayor: We don’t want to become a cheap souvenir shop. So she has frozen licences for all new hotels and holiday rental apartments. And has fined Airbnb €30,000. 
  • Looking at protests such as those of the taxi-drivers against Uber, etc., it's hard not to conclude that it's a widespread view in Spain that commerce should be decided by the providers, not the consumers.
I have to confess that I didn't know - or had forgotten - that the name Andalucia stems from the invasion of the Vandals - between those of the Romans and the Moors.

As ever, it's decision time for the EU. Click here for an account of the latest developments/statements of intention. And see the end of this post for the views of George Soros on the viability of the EU. There seems to be a consensus – Either it reforms itself hugely or it dies. As is the norm, things seem to be going the way Berlin wants them to. And click here for Don Quijones on the latest state of the Italian banking system. DQ characterises the situation as desperate.

The Spanish and Portuguese presidents have agreed that there really must be a high-speed train line between Galicia and Portugal. Just as their predecessors did back in 2004. God knows when this will actually happen but, meanwhile, the existing line is to be electrified by end 2019. Maybe.

The stock advice for churches in the USA is that you should get a teenager to check your planned signs to avoid hilarious mistakes. I was reminded of this when reading yesterday that there is to be a new award for business-oriented local councils. They are to be given the LABLE of Concello Doing Business. In British English at least, doing one's business - especially if you're a dog - has scatological connotations

Nutters' Corner:-
  • The incomparable Jim Bekker keeps on giving: If Trump is impeached, there will be civil war in the USA and Christians will take part.
Finally . . . There's a famous G B Shaw quote that I came across again this week: I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. Is this the source of Trump's strength, I found myself wondering?

Today's cartoon:.


The 'dysfunctional' EU has plunged into existential crisis: George Soros

The European Union's "dysfunctional" institutions and austerity diktats have plunged it into an existential crisis that will require the bloc to reinvent itself to survive, George Soros has warned.
The billionaire investor said the EU had "lost its momentum" as he urged policymakers to abandon hopes of "ever closer union" driven by a top-down approach from Brussels.

He warned that a split among EU countries that began at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 had been exacerbated by "outdated treaties".

This had transformed the eurozone into a series of creditor and debtor nations overseen by inept institutions that had stirred up resentment in the bloc.

"The European Union is now in an existential crisis," Mr Soros told an audience in Brussels. "Most Europeans of my generation were supporters of further integration. Subsequent generations came to regard the EU as an enemy that deprives them of a secure and promising future."

Mr Soros, who became known as the man who broke the Bank of England for his bets against sterling in the early 1990s, also warned Brussels against punishing Britain in forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

He said were likely to take "as long as five years" and that the EU should approach negotiations in a "constructive spirit" and use Brexit to fix its own shortcomings instead of trying to punish the UK.
Just a day after Brussels published a paper mapping out its vision of eurozone integration, Mr Soros warned that the single currency area had become "the exact opposite of what was originally intended".

He said: "The European Union was meant to be a voluntary association of like-minded states that were willing to surrender part of their sovereignty for the common good.

"After the financial crisis of 2008, the eurozone was transformed into a creditor/debtor relationship where the debtor countries couldn’t meet their obligations and the creditor countries dictated the terms that the debtors had to meet.

"By imposing an austerity policy they made it practically impossible for the debtor countries to grow out of their debts. The net result was neither voluntary nor equal."

He said loss of trust in the EU has paved the way for support for anti-European political parties and said the goal of "an ever closer union" had to be abandoned.

"Now we need a collaborative effort that combines the top-down approach of the EU institutions with the bottom-up movements that are necessary to engage the electorate," said Mr Soros.
"Instead of a “multi-speed” Europe we should aim for a “multi-track” Europe that would allow member states a wider variety of choices. This would have a far-reaching beneficial effect."
He urged the bloc to focus on three key areas - dealing with the refugee crisis, Brexit and "the lack of an economic growth strategy".


Sierra said...

Here's 7,000 of the 550,000:

Perry said...

Mercadona pay £890-00 per month & will hire 7,000 people this summer from June to September! Hell's teeth! Without the opportunity to earn commission, that's a Peon's wages.

Vanda lucia?

The Vandals passed through the Visigothic kingdom & entered North Africa.

Belisarius was sent by Justinian the Great & he defeated the Vandals in 533–534 AD. It was the Visigothic kingdom of Hispania that fell to the Berber Moors in 711 AD. I doubt that the Berbers of North Africa would remember the Vandals who were wiped out 177 years before they conquered the Visigoths. أَنْدَلُس has another root.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

T'is funny… I always had the impression that 'the first' always came before 'the second'…

What you meant to say is, of course, 'the former' and 'the latter'. But one cannot be too demanding from a linguistic anarchist such as you and your guru Kamm…

More to the point: yes, Uber and the like are the future in this dismal digital age. But let us not forget that taxi drivers have to take out their license at shockingly high prices (we're talking tens of thousands of euros) and need to meet a lot of legal criteria. Once in business, they work very long hours, under sometimes dismal circumstances, making very little profit. Then to allow any Tom Dick or Harry to do the same job with no financial or legal strings attached is perhaps a little unfair…?


Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear Perry,

Are you absolutely sure the Vandals 'passed through the Visigoth kingdom' of Spain? It was always my understanding that the Vandals came to the Peninsula first, and then were driven over the Gibraltar Straights into North Africa when the Visigoths invaded. But I may of course have gotten my chronology wrong…

Other than that, the etymology of 'Andalusia' as going back to the Vandals is only one of the theories. If only because late medieval Spanish often spoke of 'Nandalusia', which still awaits its explanation…


Colin Davies said...

Gotten! From someone claiming to be part British. I ask you.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear Colin,

Is that REALLY the most relevant comment you manage to come up with about such fascinating matters???


Colin Davies said...

From the Master of Trivia . . .

Perry said...

VandALs, Visigoths & ALans were pushed west from Pannonia by the Huns, aided by the Ostrogoths. When one considers that we are probably the last of the so-called "comfortable generation", we should be grateful we did not experienced the upheavAL & turmoil of the first millennium AD.

You are correct. Mea culpa. The Vandals crossed Perry's knees in 409 AD & settled in what would become Galicia & Andalusia. The Romans & Suebi pushed the Vandals south from Galicia & the Visigoths pushed the Alans & Vandals into North Africa. Is it time to resurrect Crimean Gothic?

Maria said...

What's wrong with "gotten"? It's a perfectly good word. That it has been shortened in the years since the independence of the Colonies takes not one whit away from its worth.

Of course, the Colonies having since hatched the Orange Rump, perhaps it's a good idea to steer clear of Americanisms. I'm even thinking of effecting a slight British accent to avoid further embarrassment! ;p

(Sorry, but I had to chime in!)

Colin Davies said...

Nothing, Maria. If you are American or prefer American English. Like spit for spat. But if you claim to be British, it's decidedly odd.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear Colin,

As anyone vaguely familiar with my biography will know, I lived in exile in the US of A for many years after I got into trouble in France, Britain and Belgium because of my political views. Both the lifestyle and the lingo grow on you after a few years. As such, will you believe it?, I even picker up a taste for eating hotdogs while watching baseball….

By the by: thank you Maria, and thank you Perry, for your unprejudiced observations (which is more than we can say about other writers of comments on this blog…)


Colin Davies said...

Then you'll be very familiar with the American expression - BS . . . . .

Colin Davies said...

As I've said, I have no real problem with American English. I use it myself.

But it can be overdone, out of either ignorance or a desire to appear 'hip'.

And then there are foreigners pretending to be native speakers and meandering between the two.

Here's a podcast on the subject:

The man from the English Speaking Society is, of course, a Cnut-like idiot. Except Cnut wasn't an idiot . . .

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