Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 25.4.21

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable

– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’ 

NOTE: Info on Galicia here. Detailed info on Pontevedra coming soon. 

Covid

These are the latest deaths per million and deaths per day numbers. Only the UK’s are falling:-

Italy  1,971 360/day (7 day average)

UK 1,869 22/d

Spain 1,659 87/d

France 1,567 300/d (ten times more than the UK and not showing signs of reducing)

Germany  977  221

The USA’s numbers are 1,759 and 790/d.    5.5 x Italy pop.   18% of US

The country most in the news today is India. The d/m number there, at 138, is low but cases and deaths are rising very rapidly and the vaccination rate is low at only 10%.

In the UK, there is talk of ending the mask-wearing injunction by early summer. Unlikely elsewhere, I guess.

Cosas de España

Desperate times, desperate measures as Florentino Pérez goes from respected to ridiculed in Super League debacle. Click here for the article from the very estimable John Carlin in Madrid.

It’s significant that the only 2 of the 12 teams still on the same sinking craft with him are both Spanish. They know how things are done here.

Cousas de Galiza

The weather here . . . Well, it really is raining today, falling from the Atlantic Blanket that occasionally smothers us. The north western tail of Storm Lula, I suspect, which hit the South East on Friday night 

The UK

Richard North: Normally, the machinations of Dominic Cummings & Co are of very little interest. But when two of the most odious people in English politics[Cummings and Boris Johnson] start to fall out, one can only sit back, order industrial quantities of popcorn and enjoy the fireworks. If Johnson is not to be brought down by the substance, let him fall to the perennial soap opera that English politics has become. In case it’s not clear, RN – after working with them on Brexit – detests both DC and BJ. And their dreadful Brexit deal.

The UK population as a whole though, still gives Johnson a net positive approval rating. And this despite a large section seeing him as the most corrupt member of a corrupt government. 

The Conservative party continues to lead the Labour Party by some margin in the polls. On which RN pronounces: This confirms that Johnson’s corruption has been “priced in”. That he is a congenital liar with the morals of a retarded tomcat is regarded as a given and, for the moment, has no electoral impact. 

RN puts his faith in ‘the switch’. This occurs when a government which, for a while, can do no wrong reaches a point after which it can do no right. That’s democracy – and herd instinct – for you. But we will see. Especially as the (very embittered) Cummings* is reported to  be preparing a dossier of evidence that will attempt to blame Johnson personally for the tens of thousands of deaths during the second wave of the pandemic. 

* Hell hath no fury like a Special Adviser scorned. And humiliatingly sacked.

The Way of the World 

Is Wokeism a new religion? See the article below.

Spanish

To vent one’s spleen: Desahogarse, desfogarse, vaciarse, aliviarse. I’m told.

Quotes of the Week 

All from John Carlin:-

– Pérez failed to realise that football [not Wokeism?] is the world’s biggest religion.

– He was blinded by the white. [the colour of Real Madrid¡s strip]

– The intentions of Pérez and his unlikely sidekick at Barcelona were less ignoble than those of the foreign moneybags who own the Premier League clubs. 

– But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. 

Finally  . . . 

Spooked by my mention of a hair-dryer, the flowers in my garden – French meadow rue brought from the UK – immediately bloomed yesterday.

THE ARTICLE  

The denunciation of Richard Dawkins shows that wokeism has become a new religion. Humanists pride themselves on their rationality yet they won’t give the author freedom to ask uncomfortable questions and push boundaries: Michael Deacon, The Telegraph.

The Chinese authorities have created an app that will enable citizens to report those who express “mistaken opinions”. Personally, I can’t see why they’ve gone to such trouble. They could have saved themselves a lot of time and effort by simply lifting their ban on Twitter.

After all, that’s what we in the West use it for. If anyone over here tweets a mistaken opinion, we make sure they soon regret it.

The latest in the never-ending list of offenders is Professor Richard Dawkins, author of atheist bible The God Delusion. A couple of weeks ago, he posted a tweet in which he recalled the uproar about Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who in 2015 was vilified for saying she identified as black. He then wrote: “Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss.”

After the inevitable outrage, Dawkins insisted that he “did not intend to disparage trans people”; he had simply been inviting debate. “I see that my academic ‘Discuss’ question has been misconstrued as such and I deplore this,” he wrote. “It was also not my intent to ally in any way with Republican bigots in the US now exploiting this issue.”

These words, however, were not enough to satisfy his critics – or even some of his admirers. This week, the American Humanist Association (AHA) announced that it was so appalled by Dawkins’s comments, it was immediately rescinding an award it had given him.

“His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient,” it said. “Consequently, the AHA Board has concluded that Richard Dawkins is no longer deserving of being honoured by the AHA.”

For my own part, I do think the Professor’s original tweet was tactless. I’ve no doubt many people were offended. But even so, I find the AHA’s actions somewhat puzzling.

Partly this is because the award of which Professor Dawkins has been stripped is Humanist of the Year 1996. By rescinding it, the AHA is in effect arguing that the Professor’s tweets in 2021 mean that he wasn’t the world’s best humanist in 1996 after all. But that can’t be right, because he hadn’t posted the tweets then – not least because Twitter hadn’t been invented yet.

In my view, therefore, the AHA’s action betrays a profound misunderstanding of how time works. Normally, humanists tend to pride themselves on their rationality, so this is an unexpected lapse.

The other thing on which humanists tend to pride themselves, of course, is not being religious. And to me, this makes the AHA’s attitude all the more disconcerting. Because in this instance, they’re behaving as though they’re very religious indeed.

Historically, it’s been the highly religious who make a great public show of denouncing heresy. It’s been the highly religious who condemn any supposed failure to conform to the orthodox beliefs of the day.

Yet look again at that statement from this group of American humanists. The Professor’s “subsequent attempts at clarification”, apparently, “are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity”. As a result, he is “no longer deserving of being honoured”.

Fascinating, isn’t it? So sanctimonious. So pious. So holier-than-thou. No mercy. The heretic must be punished, or at least excommunicated. Maybe the real reason these people haven’t taken to religion is that they’ve never found one strict enough for them.

Then again, maybe they have. Wokeism: the glorious new religion of our time, whose evangelists preach their dogma with a ravening zeal from their social media pulpits, while sinners are furiously decried until they repent.

Dawkins himself doesn’t seem especially bothered by the loss of the AHA’s award. “Thinking to do my duty by deleting the entry, I opened up my CV,” he told a newspaper, “only to discover that there was nothing to delete.”

Of course, he’s quite used to people getting cross with him. Doubtless he can handle it. But, on this particular occasion, I’m just surprised that the AHA joined in with such righteous fervour.

No matter how thoughtless and insensitive the Professor’s tweet might seem, I would have expected a humanist group to respect the freedom to ask uncomfortable questions, the freedom to test the boundaries of socially acceptable thought, the freedom to cause offence.

Without that freedom, after all, there might well be no humanists.

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