Saturday, February 23, 2019

Thoughts from Madrid, Spain: 23.2.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
            Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
  • Barcelona's already bad reputation for crime gets worse.
  • Right on cue for me - The 10 best days trips from Madrid.
  • Speaking of the capital . .  I came, as usual, on the night train to Madrid on Thursday night. Given how late Spaniards stay up at night, it struck me as odd - not for the first time - that my 2 compartment companions retired to bed at 9.30 or so. While I read until after 10.30. Even odder was the fact that, whereas I got up for a coffee at 7, one of the pair rose after 8 and the other after 9. Indeed the latter complained that I'd let the sun in on him when I drew back the blind a centimetre or so at 9. The other odd thing - but by no means new to me - is that, in this talk-heavy culture, there seems to be a convention that there's zilch conversation in the compartment as soon as the train departs. And very little, if any, before that.
  • On the subject of the Spanish timetable(horario) . . . On Sunday night there'll be no bed for me in my daughter's flat, so I booked into a hostel near by for just that night. On the reception desktop, there was an information sheet giving prices for things such as toothpaste, and a list of Compensations. These were for things such as smoking in the place or being noisy after a certain time. This being Spain, the latter was not 10 or 11 but midnight. More to the point, the 'Compensations' are clearly better described as 'Penalties'. Or even 'Fines'.
The EU and Brexit
  • Yanis Varoufakis is the ex Greek Finance Minister who was serious roughed up by the EU a few years ago. Despite that, he's remained a europhile. But he's now said that Brussels has underestimated the risk that Britain's leaving could pose to the Eurozone. Going further, he warned Brussels that Brexit is 'a symptom of the disintegration of the European Union'. He might well be right.
Brexit and The UK
  • It's not all disastrous . . . Despite a great deal of French lobbying against it plus attempts to have everything moved to Paris, The City of London Corporation has finally got what it wanted: recognition by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) of the three biggest clearing houses it hosts, LCH, ICE Clear Europe and LME Clear. This will allow the three to continue providing services throughout the EU even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It will also limit the potential for disruption in central clearing and prevent any negative impact on the financial stability of the EU, says ESMA.
The UK
  • Some fascinating news: Three months after Peter Jackson’s extraordinary colourised First World War documentary 'They Shall Not Grow Old', television audiences are being invited on another trip back in time – and on this occasion, the destination extends back even further. 'Edwardian Britain in Colour', a new series beginning tomorrow on Channel 5, will see previously black-and-white footage from the turn of the 20th century brought to life by using some of the 21st’s most advanced filmmaking technology. The results are remarkable, revealing an often overlooked era to be a world away from the drab impression we have until now gleaned from photographs. Instead, the period leaps off the screen, practically iridescent with colour. According to its creators, “It is the closest we have ever come to a time machine”: a chance for us to not only witness history in motion, but to live it in full, vivid glory." A must-view, then.
  • There's nothing here because it simply isn't news that Fart gets madder and madder.
Social media
  • Britain's Culture secretary has pronounced that the era of self-regulation for technology companies is coming to an end. Let's hope so.
Finally . . . 
  • Fed up with the problems I was having on my 3 year old smartphone, I lashed out on a new one. But now I almost wished I hadn't. It keeps sending me unintelligible messages, such as the one I got this morning about something that wasn't working because the phone was possibly too close to a 'proximity sensor'. Or something like that. I paid as little as I could for the phone - €150 - but noted its neighbours in the shop - not even iPhones -  ranged up to more than €900. Can anyone tell me what you get for this outlandish sum?  
  • Talking of technology . . . On my new laptop - it's been an expensive few weeks - I noted, when installing an ad blocker, that I could also upload a tracker blocker. These, I believe, are cookies which do what is says on the tin - they track your usage and send details to various interested parties. Clicking on the privacy settings of a UK newspaper this morning, I got a list of more than 150 of these. On other pages, I've seen that not only Google but also Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter and Amazon were collaborating with the publisher. Hopefully, these are now all blocked.
  • Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas has provided this video of (I guess) a reggaeton number performed by Zion and his (almost) namesake Lennox. It's a trifle weird, to my lights. My daughter tells me that reggaeton 'informs all today's Spanish pop songs.' To complete your education on the subject, here's how Wiki defines it:- Reggaeton  is a music style which originated in Puerto Rico during the late 1990s. It is influenced by hip hop and Latin American and Caribbean music. Vocals include rapping and singing, typically in Spanish. More here.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Why do you tell us the same things twice in the first two sections of today's blog??


Alfred B. Mittington said...

You are welcome.

No charge.