22 November 2021: Redressing the fascist balance; Mail problems for Brits; Galicia and OPM; A musical genius at work? & Other stuff.

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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’


Richard North makes some pertinent comments on the virus and on vaccination below. And on the ineptness of the UK government.

Cosas de España/Galiza

Info here on the (left-of-centre) government’s plans to allow Franco-era crimes to be prosecuted. Troublesome.

Still looking backwards, the same government is proposing to help families find the bones of relatives buried in mass graves during the 1936-39 Civil War. Previous laws aimed as achieving this were ignored by the last (right-of-centre) PP party, which simply denied the funds.

Lenox Napier reports that Brits have found that imports from the UK are a disaster, with even a Christmas card taking several weeks and being steamed open by the zealous Spanish Customs, before charging the mortified recipient a fortune for the time wasted. If true, I wonder if this happens for other non-EU nationals. North Americans, for example. If not, why not? I’ve asked a relevant friend or two. I’ve previously reported 2 month delays on letters from my bank including new debit cards. I didn’t think to check for signs of steaming but am not sure I’d have been able to  detect any. If it is happening only to Brits, is it pure vindictiveness? 

The Galician president has assured Brussels that all money coming our way from the latest emergency fund will be spent ‘efficiently’. One wonders why he’s obliged to make this promise. 

Well, it’s still remarkably sunny here in Galicia – 3 weeks now – but  a  cold wind has arrived and there’s be snow on the hills soon. Regional un-warming.


Germans will be either vaccinated, cured or dead by winter’s end, warns the Health Minister, rather bluntly. Sounds pretty serious. 

The Way of the World/Quote of the Day 

As Black Friday approaches – that grim festival of specious “bargains” and coerced panic-buying – I find my inbox crammed with promotions for “essential” items of almost surreal superfluousness. The effect of being urged to spend, spend, spend on expensive tat is to bring on an acute attack of shopping malaise: it is a malady for which there is now a remedy: Buy Nothing Day, an international day of protest against consumerism.

Finally  . . .

Paul McCartney and his band give a remarkable performance at the Cavern Club here. It’s one of my numerous claims to fame – well, it went down well at the Pilates class – that I saw them perform there in 1963. Before they moved the club further down Matthew street, for safety reasons, I suspect. It was an unprepossessingly dark and dank place. If you can get the video on BBCiPlayer, so much the better the sound on Youtube is said to be poor by several people.

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in terms of overall mortality, highly infective illnesses, which have a severe impact only on a relatively small proportion of the population, are far more dangerous than killers such as Ebola. Here there’s a failure to appreciate the distinction between absolute mortality and mortality rate. Coronavirus produces a relatively low death rate but, because of its infectivity and the disease profile, it is capable of killing far more people (absolute mortality) than a less virulent organism. 

The reason why this virus is so dangerous is exactly because of its relatively low virulence, causing only mild illness in the majority of the population that it infects. Ebola, by contrast, killed as many as 90 percent of the people it touched, so it never spread. It killed off its victims too fast. The same goes for the clinically indistinguishable Green Monkey (Marburg) Disease which is so deadly that investigators in the early days were stumbling on whole troops of dead monkeys in the forests of Equatorial Africa, with no spread to their neighbours. 

By contrast, coronavirus is our worst nightmare. The high proportion of asymptomatic infections and mild illness means that it can spread undetected throughout the population, where most people remain mobile even when infected. Thus, infected people are capable of spreading the disease to the vulnerable, who are so often tragically killed. 

The underlying point, therefore, is that this illness cannot be ignored. Even a government as inept as ours must take action and, in the nature of a viral disease, the most effective control is mass, pre-emptive vaccination – a herd response to a pathogen to which individualism is of no consequence. 

Immediately, one can see why, intuitively, the individualist would reject the conformity of a herd – i.e., collective – response, each demanding the right to make an individual decision based on an appreciation of the risk. It is here that the government has been at its most inept in failing to explain that vaccination is primarily a collective response to a collective threat. The issue. Of course, is that vaccines, as with any applied drug, has its own risks and a proportion of those to whom it is administered will be damaged by it, or even killed. 

Perversely, it is a measure of the success of a mass vaccination programme that there will come a point where the incidence (or severity) of the disease is driven back to such an extent that more people are damaged or killed by the vaccine than the disease. 

At this point, or approaching it, a case can be made that the balance of advantage for the healthy, less vulnerable cohort lies with refusing vaccination – the benefit is for the herd, not the individual.  This being the case, the government should be stating very clearly the underlying purpose of the vaccination programme, and it should be totally open about the risks involved. And, as each individual is being asked to contribute to the greater good, generous compensation should be paid rapidly to those damaged – or their dependents. 

There are many technical issues involved – far too numerous and complex to address here – but the core issue it that, sometimes, the needs of the individual must be subordinated to the needs of the group. The trouble is, I suspect, is that governments have lost the moral authority to make that case, while libertarianism has begun to assume to status of a cult, mirroring the very collectivism it seeks to oppose, without heed to the values it supposedly represents.  Since the collective too is capable of dissent – as we see with Insulate Britain – we see weak governments, lacking the moral authority to pursue their own agendas, presiding over increasing disorder. In that, Rotterdam may be the signpost to our future