17 January 2023

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’

Energy

High energy costs are not simply the consequence of the war in Ukraine. Oil prices were above $100/bbl and European gas prices had risen four fold before one Russian boot was on the ground in Ukraine.  What the war has exposed is the frailty of the energy system that we have built over the last decade, particularly in Europe. As for the future . .

Cosas de España/Galiza

The most left-wing (photogenic) member of the cabinet – a communist – has started something which has been called a platform, an association, a concept, a process and a movement but not yet a political party. She’s called Yolanda Díaz, and poverty of ambition doesn’t seem to be her biggest problem. Here’s Wiki on her and her initiative – Sumar – which might well split the left-wing vote and alienate the centre-vote later this year and allow the PP back into power. Supported by the execrable far-right party, Vox.

Meanwhile, 2 observations:-

1. There’s only one male name in the Wiki article and that’s the PSOE PM. 2. These are the buttons pressed by Sumar. Very in the moment, it seems to me:-

Progressivism

Left-wing populism

Green politics

Feminism

Anti-neoliberalism

Pro-Europeanism

A small mercy . . . The list doesn’t include transgenderism. Unlike the UK Labour party even though it’s not as far left as Sumar. Funny world. Despite that, the Guardian – which certainly does promote transgenderism – seems to like Sumar.

Major projects certainly do take a long time to reach fruition in Spain, A few examples that spring to mind_

– The AVE high-speed train link between Madrid and Galicia. First slated for 1993(sic) and then every few years thereafter. Might well be done by 2025.

– Expansion of a small industrial park I pass through every day. At least 15 years in process as of now.

– A final decision on the closure of the cellulose factory on the edge of Pv city. Already 22 years.

– The railway line between Pv city and nearby Praceres. Already 17 years awaiting a final court decision.

– A VdG headline of yesterday which prompted this para: Only 16 of the 80km of the north Galicia highway promised 20 years ago have been completed.

I think highly of Extremadura. So I endorse this article: This art and food-fueled journey through the country’s Extremadura region was varied enough to entertain even the two tweens in the backseat. Even better without these, of course.

The UK

An up-and-coming wine country!

Russia

Putin’s 2nd term saw more of the corruption and KGB takeover of state assets which the 1st term had seen. Plus a resurrection of and a massive increase in funding for external ex-KGB operations whose objective was to destabilise the West in whatever way possible. Impossible to believe this wasn’t known about in Washington, London and Brussels. But London still became Londongrad, afloat on obscene amounts of money bled from the Russian economy. In which Mr Abramovich is said to have been very involved, as a friend of Putin’s.

Way of the World

The destruction of truth is at the heart of the decline of Western culture, says this columnist. While he might not be remotely familiar with the concept of truth, Mr Putin will surely be endorsing this point to the poor/gullible Russian people.

Less seriously . . . My reception of the BBC’s iPlayer is intermittent. Now I see that someone called Shakira has ‘broken the internet’ by attacking her ex in song. So, is she responsible for this?

English

I came across the phrase ‘We bad’ last night and had no idea what it meant. Turns out that ‘Me bad’ is an informal US expression used for saying you accept you are wrong or that something is your fault. And that, while it might currently be in vogue, this slang term originated in about 1970. And that: The first known public use was an exchange on the Ed Sullivan Show, June 1956. Louis Armstrong wished Sullivan a happy birthday and then corrected himself, saying: “Happy Anniversary. My bad.”

Finally . . .

I see that Shakira accused her ex’s new gf of being only a Casio, while she is a Rolex. Well, I’ll have Ms Shakira know that – after 3 days of looking for my €15 Casio – I found it in the washing machine yesterday. Wet but still working perfectly. I’m not sure my lost Omega Constellation would still be. Clearly, I’m good at losing watches. Even one of great pecuniary (and even more sentimental) value than my stop-gap.

I was impressed to get this lovely email last night: it’s Ignace with the Financial Hardship Department. I‘m not sure if you’ve spoken to an assigned agent yet regarding our hardship program. But I do see that you’re approved for a hardship loan up to 37 thousand dollars. So what I’m going to do is keep this in a pending status. And If you have about five minutes today go ahead and give me a call so we can go over the details. My number is: 833-61‎6-‎‎0‎584, Thank You, Ignace Salzgeber. The odd thing is that, though the email address was a suspicious jumble of letters, the number belongs to an apparently genuine student loans company. So, I guess it’s been highjacked for some nefarious purpose.

Welcome to new subscriber: Melissa, whose blog is here.

For new readers:-

1. 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.

2. Should you want to, the easiest way to to get my post routinely is to sign up for email subscription. As opposed to using a Bookmark or entering the URL in your browser.

8 comments

  1. The Sumar lady is also the Minister of Labour, who has done well to bring down Spain’s notorious unemployment, her ‘black economy’, and workers’ unpaid hours. The problem is, of course, that the Left always prefers to fracture and then lose (with all guns blazing).

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  2. You are right. It must frustrating to wait decades for something to be finished/get started. But the comment is also slightly unfair. Money is often tight. And if one looks at the map and looks at the vast number of projects under way in Spain, it is almost a miracle anything gets ever done (in time). There are half a dozen major AVE projects (not counting smaller undertakings) all over Spain. And around two dozen stretches of autovia being built. Meanwhile in Britain, it is now 30 years since a high speed train from London to the North was first muted. And there are already rumours that the HS2 will never be built. As one tory MP/minister recently said why invest in trains if people are dissatisfied with trains, use them less and less, and prefer the car. I call that a self-fulfilling prophecy. Invest less, then people will hate trains more and more, thus enabling the rationale to invest even less.

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  3. I am often contacted by a Nigerian Minister, always a different one, and sometimes even a Prince.
    Look after 50 million for a few days and I will get to keep a couple. All I need to do is send him my bank account details, which incredibly is the moment I am overcome with a dyslexic disposition. Such a shame, I would love to hlep uot

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  4. Yes, that’s fair.

    But I believe one reason for so many delayed projects here is that, as I said recently, Spaniards don’t have [realistic] plans, only intentions . . .

    When I came here in late 2000 it shocked me that the Spanish were only just discovering the project managements tools I’d been using for 15 years.

    All my Spanish friends seem to abhor planning, preferring ‘spontaneity’. Very often an excuse for no-shows. Or the bringing of additional guests . . .

    Much less of a NIMBY factor here than in the UK. of course. None, as far as I can see. Bigger country. Lots more space for new roads and rail tracks.

    And more tribalism in politics here. which means the voters react less to failures/delays<

    C.

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  5. PM tools and usage still just getting started here.
    ITIL, Scrum, Agile … usually I get blank looks.

    UK Trains are the pits though. Possibly down to the short term concessions dished out?
    For example, why would you invest in modern rolling stock, if you might lose your contract when it is up for renewal?

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  6. Sorry. I don’t want to keep you off daily routines reading my largely pointless replies………..I obviously meant mooted not muted btw………but I do agree about politics in Spain being a handicap. I think you are absolutely right, nimbyness is not as much an issue in Spain, but not unheard of. I read in the press that there is uproar in parts of Madrid because of (and against) the planned future (and delayed) expansion of the airport. The building of the AVE in Murcia caused massive protests, ultimately forcing to dig a tunnel and build the station underground…….I am sure there are other examples. Also, I think it is worth taking into account that building transport infrastructure is more cumbersome in Spain than in Britain because of the difficult mountainous terrain. Britain, with the exception of hills (one can hardly call them mountains) on the western and northern edges – where nobody is planning to build anything anyway – is largely flat (ish). But my question is why is transport infrastructure in Britain so much worse than in Germany, Switzerland or the Netherlands? it cannot be because they are less Nimby-like. The population density is if anything higher than in the UK, and the people are much more environmentally aware (no raw sewage thrown out into the Sea here) and much less likely to allow construction going on in their own backyards. But things get built – expensively but they get built. I think the NIMBY issue is a bit of an excuse in Britain not to do anything (i.e. spend money). As for the dislike for planning (in private life) among Spaniards, yes I also observed that, but let me remind you that when it comes to the economy, general productivity in Spain is actually higher than in the UK. I don’t know what planning tools are lacking in Spain but they don’t seem to be very efficient anyway. Probably a waste of time, like many of the gimicks I have come across in corporate life.

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  7. UK trains? . . . Just botched privatisation, I suspect.

    A German friend tells me there are lots of complaints there about a state service contracted out to a private company.

    I disagree on project management tools, having used them.

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