Friday, November 02, 2018

Thoughts from Hamburg, Germany: 2.11.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Hamburg/German
  • Well, I've been in Germany for 3 weeks now and, as yet, no one has irritated me by walking right in front of me as if I didn't exist. And neither has any driver had to swerve round me on a zebra crossing. These strange people have removed some of the spice from my life . . .
  • I'm confess I'm finding it hard to get used to the discipline of as many as 10 people waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green when there's no traffic in sight in either direction. I wonder if the fines are huge.
Matters Spanish
  • The BBC reports here on the Franco re-tombing saga.
  • It wouldn't be Spain if All Saint's Day didn't display some bizarre traditions.
  • That article mentions the Celtic Samhain customs re-adopted by modern Galicians. But I associate the day most with ladders. This is because it's the day when Spaniards ascend to smarten up the niches in which their relatives are vertically buried. As it were. You see lots of cars - on the way to cemeteries - with ladders sticking out of the windows. If you don't have a ladder, you local church will always hire you one. 
  • Corruption: Here's Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas with the strange tale of the ex-cop, the ex-Ministra of Defence and her husband.
  • For those, like Lenox Napier, who enjoy Flamenco, here's news of a rising star. But she's Catalan and does pop-flamenco, so I've no idea how well she goes down in Andalucia . . . In case you don't want to read the article and view the clip therein, here she is on Youtube.
Matters USA
  • The New York Times yesterday: To be a successful leader, it's necessary to be a great feigner and dissembler; men are so simple and so ready to obey present necessities that one who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived. It is not necessary for a successful leader to have all the desired qualities but it is very necessary to seem to have them. Above all, he should seem to be religious. . . . If a man is an unscrupulous egoist, his wisest line of conduct will depend upon the population with which he has to operate. Politicians will behave better when they depend upon a virtuous population than when they depend upon one which is indifferent to moral considerations. They will also behave better in a community in which their crimes can be made widely known than in one in which there is strict censorship under their control. A certain amount can, of course, be achieved by hypocrisy but the amount can be much diminished by suitable institutions. Nah, these sentiments are those of Machiavelli, writing in 1513
  • Writing about the same time, Erasmus asked: Who can be happy without flattery or without self-love? Yet such happiness is folly. The happiest men are those who are nearest the brutes and divest themselves of reason. The best happiness is that which is based on delusion, since it costs least. It is easier to imagine oneself a king than to make oneself a king in reality.
  • It's almost as if both Machiavelli and Erasmus anticipated Fart five hundred years in advance. Or had personal experience of similar ambitious, unscrupulous charlatans.
Social Media
  • A lot has been written about how public conversation in the age of social media is becoming uncivil. Strangely, it is becoming puritanical at the same time. In the sewer of social media everyone has to be a paragon of virtue. There is no way to legislate or regulate our way through this contradiction. We need to learn how to recognise the difference between an abuse of power and a cack-handed attempt to be amusing. Above all, we need to remember that even if offence is given, it doesn’t have to be taken.
  • Word of the day: Quejica. I'm more familiar with Quej√≥n/a, which seems to have an identical meaning.
Finally . . .
  • This morning I got an email purporting to be from Playstation about a sales tax I'd have to pay in New York. My suspicions about it being spam were doubled by the fact it was addressed to whowntit176.
© [David] Colin Davies, Hamburg: 2.11.18

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