30 October 2022: Basque bother; Samaín; A Pv tragedy; Putin The Depraved; An artful mistake; & Other stuff.

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Awake! For, Morning, in the Bowl of Night, has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, Lo, has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galicia   

Right-wing Spaniards are not happy about the government allowing a team representing The Basque Country to play in an international Pelota tournament, seeing it as a ‘sellout’ to extremists. Critics condemned the law as undermining Spain’s fragile unity, fearimg it will open the way for the Basque region to enter international competitions for other sports such as football and basketball. Just like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, of course. 

I forgot to say yesterday that true Galician Celts call SamhainSamaín’.

On Friday midday, when I was walking into town, I saw what seemed to be a traffic accident along the river road, and quite a few observers on O Burgo bridge I confess to thinking that rubber-necking is at least as popular in Spain as it is elsewhere. But onlookers were still there at 7 in the evening and a local policeman told me that  a conoeist had disappeared there midday, after his canoe had overturned in the choppy river. Sadly, they didn’t find him either Friday or yesterday and will continue searching today – not helped by the fact that the storms have reduced visibility below the surface to nil. 

The sun has put in an appearance today. The chance to dry some clothes . .

Russia

Sound familiar?  . . . On Christmas Eve 1979, Soviet forces began to stream over the border with Afghanistan as part of ‘Operation Storm 333’. This was not an invasion, Ustinov declared to army commanders leading troops across the border, in a line that was to be repeated again and again by Soviet diplomats and politicians over the course of the next decade; rather, it was an attempt to restore stability at a time when the ‘political and military situation in the Middle East’ was in turmoil, and after requests by the government in Kabul ‘to provide international help to the friendly Afghan people’.  A ‘special operation’, then. And a not terribly successful one. The Russians left after 10 years of occupation, with their tails between their legs.

This is a fascinating, shocking and, at times, horrifying BBC series on Russia 1985-99. The final part is entitled: The oligarchs choose Putin as their puppet. One wonders what they think of him now. And, if things don’t improve in Ukraine, whether they will/can take action against him. Or has he emasculated them over 20 years? One way or another.

If you can’t access the BBC, you can find episodes on YouTube. Not for the faint of heart

Russia v. Ukraine

Richard North here writes of a belief that Russia is engineering a massive refugee crisis that will overwhelm the countries west of Ukraine. Very probably right. It’s a while since we’ve seen depravity on this scale in Europe. So . . . How to stop it, short of nuking Russia? Can even the outlines of a ‘peace deal’ be sketched out?

Social Media

Twitter Inc. has reportedly said that 10% of its users account for 90% of tweets and generate half of its sales, but these have been tweeting less since the onset of Covid. So the company probably isn’t worth what (insane?) Elon Musk has forked out for it. Possibly by a long chalk.

The Way of the World 

I take the view that there’s too much money in the world and that it’s concentrated in too few hands*. So that it can be shifted quickly for personal advantage, severely affecting the lives of many, many others in the process. I was reminded of this when reading that the 3 outgoing Twitter senior execs are being paid to $50m, $37m and (poor sod) $17m.  Exactly what do you do with such riches? Though I guess there’s always someone willing to sell you something. Or somewhere.

* Francis Bacon. Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.

Spanish 

Cuando los arboles ocultan el bosque: When you can’t see the wood for the trees

Did you know? 

The Russian oligarchs who put Putin in power in 1999 modelled him on Tony Blair – ‘A simulacrum of a Western politician’. But rather more corrupt. And powerful. And depraved.

Finally . . . .  

To amuse . . .

This is the right way up for this Mondrian paintwork:-

Not this way, which is how it’s hung in a Dusseldorf museum for probably 75 years:-

A German art expert: Mishaps of this sort are not uncommon, especially with abstract works. The upside-down hanging in Düsseldorf has been accepted in the annals of modern art history for so long that correcting it would be an act of interference in its own right. If they turn the artwork over, they run the risk of destroying it. As if.

For new readers: 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.

5 comments

  1. This is a podcast in galego (but you can probably get subtitles for the parts you can’t understand) talking about the rituals and beliefs around the Day of the Dead in Galicia. It was always celebrated until Franco tried to quash anything the Church opposed.

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  2. Just watched part one of Trauma Zone on Russia. It is fascinating stuff Colin, and thank you for such an excellent recommendation.
    The Russian version of LotR was especially frightening. I jest obviously, but what an awful mess the Soviets were in from 85 to 89.

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