Cosas de España/Galiza
A well-connected young man – Luis Medina – has been accused of conning the Madrid administration out of millions in a Covid scam. With his ill-gained cash, he bought an impressively large number of super-cars (see here). Talk about keeping a high profile . . . But I guess he can now afford the Madrid congestion charges, should he be required to pay them. That said, the cars and his new yacht are currently embargoed, pending an investigation.
This is the sort of information you need when you live along this coast: A high percentage of the cocaine sold in these parts contains adulterants ranging widely from flour to anaesthetic and anti-parasite drugs. All of them white, I’d guess. As if the business wasn’t profitable enough without sinking to even lower levels of morality and legality.
What I used to call the Gypsy Corner of Pontevedra’s Sunday flea market has now become at least 50% of the stalls. And it would be very difficult to identify the most useless old object on sale there, from home clearances out in the countryside. Perhaps this ancient saddle:-
One gleamingly new item caught my attention – a machete:-
I’m not sure you can acquire one of these in the UK, where even a penknife is hard to buy, I believe. And I seriously doubt you can easily pick up a Samurai sword . . .
British barristers(advocates) are on strike, reminding me of the old joke:-
Q: What have you got if you’ve got all the country’s lawyers up to their necks in sand?
A: Not enough sand
Talking of unpopular folk . . . This sounds about right: Prince Andrew exhibits classic symptoms of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the cognitive bias in which people come to believe they are smarter and more capable than they really are. The combination of minimal self-awareness and dim wattage leads sufferers of this condition to overestimate their own capabilities. Years of enjoying unearned obeisance to his royal position allowed Andrew to bang on with a combination of overweening self-confidence and unchallenged ignorance. It also made him an easy mark for con-men and crooks, including Jeffrey Epstein. And, yet, he’s frequently said to be the queen’s favourite. What does this say about her?
I admitted the other day I didn’t know what Russians meant by the word ‘Nazi’. An infamous member of Putin’s party – Maria Butina – has helped me out on this: When we talk about Nazis, this means discrimination. Russians are being discriminated against in Ukraine. So, the Catalan and the Galicians administrations are Nazis, I guess. For discriminating against speakers of Castellano. And I thought they were merely ‘fascists’. The go-to insult in Spain.
Russia has made a ‘massive strategic blunder’ as Finland and Sweden look poised to join Nato this summer. This will enlarge the western alliance from 30 to 32 members and stretch Russia’s military, as a direct consequence of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. So, Well done, Mr P.
The Way of the World
Can this really be true: Meghan Markle is seeking to trademark the word “archetypes” – because it features the same first 5 letters as Archewell, the company she established with Prince Harry. As if that weren’t enough, Meghan is seeking total control of all words beginning “arche” so that they can spin off fun products and whatnot forever and ever. ‘Archetypes’ is the name for a series of Archewell podcasts seeking to analyse sexual stereotypes.
If this is indeed a crisis, we should deal with it like grown-ups, says the writer of the article below.
El radio patio: The grapevine. Rumour.
I have a lot of sympathy with the claim we should get shut of all of these.-
1. For me.
2. Reach out
3. Midlife, meaning middle-aged
4. Fit, meaning physically attractive, not ‘Fit as a butcher’s dog’
5. Skill set
6. Vagina. Using this word regularly in conversation has lately become the norm, like saying “omigod” was a few years back.
7. Annual leave, meaning holiday. Or vacation for our US cousins
8. PDA – A public display of affection as gross as kissing with tongues and heavy petting.
9. Woke. As this has come to mean absurdly pious, maybe we should retire it, on the grounds it’s lost its meaning and start again with a set of more closely targeted words. For example: “old woke” (trying, but not yet 100% there), “mid woke” (trying too hard and overdoing it), and “naturally woke” (anyone under the age of 30).
Finally . . .
Sad to reflect that, as I live alone, I’d best keep my phone with me at all times, in case the next fall down some stairs if more serious then yesterday’s. Hey ho.
For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.
Climate anxiety is driving the West into dangerous mass hysteria. Enough with the fear and loathing. If this is indeed a crisis, we should deal with it like grown-ups: Janet Daley, The Telegraph
I watched a broadcast interview with one of the Extinction Rebellion protesters who was blocking an oil refinery. Whether the effect was what the television producer had in mind is an open question but, in its way, it was quite effectively subversive of the cause. She was a grown woman – and she was sobbing. If their action did not succeed, she cried, then “none of our children would live to the age of 30.” (Note: there is no reputable scientific evidence for such an assertion.)
In the course of her effusion, she referred fervently to Don’t Look Up, a satirical film which depicts a world-ending catastrophe in which an astronomer’s warning that the earth is about to be destroyed by a comet is dismissed as nonsense by sceptical authorities. The plot has nothing to do with climate change and is, needless to say, fiction. In fact, its spoof narrative is the precise opposite of the present climate controversy in which governments and media outlets have largely supported calls for action.
But the apparent lesson that was being drawn had nothing to do with any possible similarity between global warming and a meteor storm. It was simply (although the interviewee would not have presented it this way) an analogy: this is what can happen when people refuse to believe predictions that seem too dire to be true. In terms of evidence, it adds nothing to the argument about the use of fossil fuels against which she was protesting. The link she was making between the disaster depicted in the film and real life was, in the technical sense of the word, hysterical.
The reaction of this rather hapless XR demonstrator reminded me of an earlier terrifying film – also brilliantly satirical – which had dealt with the more plausible nightmare of nuclear holocaust. In its day, Dr Strangelove had offered an alarmingly convincing account of how an unstoppable doomsday nuclear storm could occur as the result of one rogue action by a deranged military commander.
It may be difficult to recall now how entrenched the belief was at the height of the Cold War that such an end to life on earth was more likely than not. This fear was a conscious, active force in the lives of most thinking people. It affected attitudes toward social and economic possibilities and personal life decisions. It has been argued that it was one of the sources of the sexual liberation of the 1960s: you might as well live to the hilt now because tomorrow we will all be dead. It is almost certainly true that the hedonism – and the narcissism – of contemporary life were at least partly a consequence of that fatalistic acceptance of imminent doom.
There is nothing new about mass anxiety. It has taken many historical forms, some of them based on empirical circumstances (The Bomb, climate change) others on mythic or religious oracle. In fact, the capacity for generalised, communal fear seems to be an ineradicable fact of the human psyche, perhaps for sound evolutionary reasons: one of the means of survival for populations is to organise themselves against genuine threats whether they are from the natural world or from competing societies. Individuals who know no fear or apprehension are usually regarded as mentally damaged and a danger to themselves and others. There might need to be fine judgments made on what level of anxiety and trepidation is appropriate in a particular circumstance but the essential role that those emotions play in preserving life is beyond doubt.
Which is why it is so difficult to reach any definitive conclusion on how much the incitement of fear can be justified at a given moment. Because the opposing truth is that anxiety can be incapacitating: it can create fatal confusion, a debilitating sense of helplessness, and most damagingly, resentment and conflict. It can easily destroy a community’s confidence and ability to cooperate, replacing them with mutual antagonism, suspicion and despair.
In free societies, it is only thought to be acceptable for governments or public authorities to institutionalise what existentialist philosophers called “fear and loathing” – to make it a function of national policy – under the most extreme circumstances. External threat from a military enemy is the most obvious one. Official public campaigning in the recent pandemic was an extremely controversial example, and the argument over that remains unsettled.
One of the things that we know for certain about crowds is that they are very susceptible to contagious moods which make them capable of the kind of irrational behaviour which would once have been unthinkable. Rampaging armies, murderous gang violence, and breakdowns of civil order of all kinds can erupt when individual conscience is swept away in a frightened mob. If people become convinced that their lives, their families, their homes and their property are in genuine mortal danger, they will feel justified in doing virtually anything.
Here is the paradox: fear – designed by evolution to keep us safe from danger – is very dangerous. Especially so when it offers no antidote to whatever the looming threat is construed to be. Giving people a choice between two unacceptable possibilities: an unsurvivable degree of global warming or immediate suffering from unaffordable energy, is not a way of winning their trust and admiration and thus recruiting them to your cause. Governments which vacillate between endorsing the need for that choice and retreating from the consequences of it only undermine confidence even further.
As a matter of urgency now we need to know who is talking sense. Or has hysteria run amok in the way that it easily can, when political activism has become (with all its Cold War experience) so expert at manipulating emotions? Please can we discuss without moral opprobrium credible policies for providing the energy that makes modern life possible? And how their economic and social costs compare with the price of adapting to changes that might occur in the environment? Enough with crying and rending of garments. Enough with fear and loathing. If this is a crisis, then we should deal with it like grown ups.