Sunday, December 01, 2019

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 1.12.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Spanish Politics 
  • Will there ever be a functioning Spanish government? Not if the Catalans can help it, it seems.
The Spanish Economy  
  • In other countries, losing out to foreign competitors in a tender is a normal business risk. Here in Spain, it apparently amounts to 'snubbing' the local operators, however unqualified they are to win.
Spanish Life 
  • When it comes to tolerating noise, the Spanish aren't 'normal' or 'average'. Whether for genetic or conditioning reasons, they're able to ignore - and talk through - levels of noise which would be intolerable in other cultures. I thought, again, about this yesterday as I was trying  to read a newspaper while the little dog below the next table yapped incessantly. To the irritation of no one except me. I wish it were easier to raise one's threshold. To this and other things, of course. I have tried. And I have had some success, I believe.
  • A plea from an unhappy chap. Not the first, nor surely the last, person to find himself struggling with a 'huge wall of bureaucracy' in Spain. Getting your money back from a bank or the Hacienda is a Herculean task in Spain. Even if you live here, know the ropes and speak Spanish. Which he doesn't.
Galician Life 
  • Here's the little San Roque chapel down by the Pontevedra bullring, as it was some time ago:-

And here it is as it is now:-

It seem to me the chapel's been expanded into a small church, and the bell tower moved and doubled in size. And the bullring is another building that's been extended upwards.
  • I feel I should record we saw the sun yesterday. And it's predicted to return tomorrow, to tease us for 3-4 days.
  • The other good news is that the 3rd member of the sub crew - unlike the 2 Ecuadoreans, a local lad - has been apprehended.
The UK
  • Surveying the political scene this morning, Richard North opines that We deserve better. Fat chance. 
Way of the World
  • Final words on the astonishing OneCoin scam:-
- The woman who set it up is now thought to be living in one of Frankfurt's poshest districts, and defying the authorities. One wonders how she can get away with it.
- Some of the pyramid-sscheme shysters who made a fortune from it now claim they didn't know OneCoin was a scam and have moved on to a remarkably similar DagCoin. Not to be confused with DigCoin or Dogecoin.
- As the BBC journalist puts it in episode 8 hereIt would be comforting to think that this was just the work of one evil genius. That would be easier to understand and easier to stop. But Dr Ruja has identified and exposed the weak point in our social immune system which have allowed this to happen. She knew that there'd be enough people either desperate enough or greedy enough or confused enough to take a bet on OneCoin. She knew that truth and lies are getting harder to tell apart when there's so much contradictory information online. And she knew that society's defence against OneCoin - the lawmakers, the police and also us in the press - would struggle to understand what was happening. And she knew that, by the time we realised it, she'd be gone. Maybe, above all, Dr Ruja understood an even more difficult truth - that the difference between a straightforward scam and the complicated but legal word of finance and money isn't as clear-cut as we think it is. OneCoin wouldn't be possible unless we lived at a time when people really do make millions simply be betting on cryptocurrencies, complicated derivatives and high-frequency currency deals. OneCoin sounds plausible to so many people because it is plausible. Dr Ruja pulled off one of the scams of the century but it was only possible because the conditions were in place. Those conditions are still in place.

Social Media
  • Instagram is steering paedophiles towards accounts belonging to children as young as 11, who should not be on the platform in the first place. Predators who follow users posting photos of young models, dancers or gymnasts are shown a stream of other images they will like and targeted with personalised recommendations of accounts to follow. Among the suggested accounts are newly created profiles belonging to children who would otherwise be almost impossible to find unless you had their user name
  • I was musing, as one does, on the fact that Spanish uses the same word - llave - for both 'key' and 'spanner'. (Actually, I think llave inglesa for an 'adjustable spanner/monkey wrench'.) And then, only a day later, I saw this cartoon playing on the word, in a comment on the state of the once-rising Ciudadanos party:-

Finally . . .
  • No, the second letter didn't arrive yesterday. So, if it arrives Monday, this'll be 7 days after I posted it, and 4 days after its companion. I can only assume there's inefficiency in both Spain and the UK. Where the postal service is a government-run monopoly. But that's possibly just a coincidence.

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