10 February 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’

Cosas de España/Galicia

Philip II’s biggest mistake was, of course, the Armada sent in 1588 to invade the UK and topple Elizabeth I. But he stands – lies? – accused of another important boob – bringing invasive fish and crayfish species to Spain. Though it might well be that the country’s anglers are grateful to him.

Oh, yes. Philip also married Mary, the elder daughter of Henry VII, and so, for a while, became king of England as well as Spain. He probably regretted that, too, as it was his stepping stone en route to restoring Catholicism but Mary shuffled off her mortal coil prematurely.

The Corner draws a wider lesson from the embarrassing episode of the FEVE trains cock-up. Incidentally, some reports say these are too wide for the Cantabrian and Asturian tunnels but some say too tall. Possibly both. What is certain is that only minor heads rolled.

As FEVE trains run – from Bilbao to Ferrol here in Galicia – the Xunta has sought information from Madrid on how the Galician section is affected by the inevitable delays in getting new trains. Hopefully of the right size. Eventually.

Portuguese is an exception to the rule that Romance languages are ‘syllable-based’, meaning that all of these must be pronounced. So, for example, the greeting Boa tarde becomes Bo tar. And leite crema becomes let crem. My question is – Does this happen in Portuguese’s sister language, Gallego? Is Boas tardes truncated? Or does Gallego follow the (Romance) rule, as with Castellano. And maybe Catalan. I forgot to ask the Gallegas in my Pilates class this week. So, Paideleo?

This is the lovely Café Moderno, in Pv city.

When I passed it this morning, it was, as usual, closed. But now I know why. It’s reported that it’ll re-open in August after a closure lasting 11 months. I bet it won’t.

The cellulose factory given – after a wait of 20+ years – a new lease on life, has announced significant investment plans. Which should please existing and future employees. But not everyone in Pv city. Least of all our Socialist(BNG) mayor, who -ironically – hasn’t shown himself to be terribly interested in the employment aspect. And it won’t appeal to those of us hoping for fewer of the bloody eucalyptus tress that surround the city.

The UK

British children watching TV with their parents are more embarrassed by kissing than they are by sex scenes. God knows what this signifies.


Sacre bleu! France is struggling to reconcile its traditional peck on the cheek with the ‘my body, my choice’, notions of the ‘MeToo’ era. Most French children have been told by their parents to greet adult friends and relatives with a kiss on the cheek. Now, however, psychologists have warned French parents against forcing their children to kiss grown-ups when they do not want to. Theyclaim it can make them feel anxious and uncomfortable, and sends the wrong messages about consent.

Forget haute cuisine, France has a secret addiction to British crisps[US ‘chips’]


The popular German street dish of currywurst is going upmarket . . . A restaurant in Nuremberg Bavaria offers a version that comprises a sausage covered in tomato-curry sauce, topped with caviar and sides of 4 fresh oysters, truffle fries and a bottle of champagne. It cost €99, against €5.90 for the normal(‘classic’) stuff. Will Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurant owners in the UK follow suit?

The Way of the World

Back in 2011, David Goldman – ‘Spengler’ – wrote a book called ‘How Civilisations Die’. His theme was how countries would fade away unless they increased their birth-rate or – a la Mrs Markle – brought in a lot of immigrants. Anyway, I particularly recall Goodman’s forecast that – on current trends – Germany would cease to exist some time this century. And now someone has penned the article below, entitled ‘The Age of Decline’. While this may come as good news to those who fear overpopulation, says the author, theory and evidence indicate that we have far more to fear from declining population. Spain is one of the countries forecast to see a population decline this year. This is despite a strategy of permitting/encouraging immigration, helpfully largely from countries with a similar culture and religion. Contrast Sweden and the UK. And, indeed, Germany.


‘To lean into: Fashionable but I don’t really know what it means. Almost certainly the same as something that already exists


I looked up saltear and got, inter alia, sobrevenir pronto. Checking on the latter, I got To come quickly. Sensing a degree of ambiguity here, I explored further and decided sobrevenir really means ‘to ensue’.

Finally . . .

This astonishing video has to be seen to be believed. It surely could destroy any irony detector ever created.

Did you note how the audience of sycophants/people-wanting-to-stay-alive broke into applause when a ‘slim’ version of the Beloved Leader appeared on the screen. And did you notice a cigarette in his left hand on his appearance at 1m51? Perhaps he smokes to keep his weight down . . . But at least neither the group singers nor the military ladies gyrate suggestively, barely dressed. Which is a pleasant change. Probably wouldn’t make the MTV channel.

In case of need, the lyrics are below. Though I don’t think all of them made it into this video.

I felt a touch of dread when seeing this cartoon. For the summer I look forward to will surely bring the 3-tune Romanian who greets me – if I haven’t managed to hide – with ‘Hola, chaval!’ And then holds out his hand:-

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.


The Age of Decline: Antony Davies, CNS News

Much of the developed world has recently moved into a new era that historians likely won’t name, and the general public won’t notice for a decade or so: the Age of Decline.

Japan, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Germany, Spain, South Korea, and China, along with 30 other developed countries, are projected to see their populations decline in 2023.

Hong Kong, Finland, Taiwan, France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, and the United States, among another 33 countries, will see their populations grow by less than 0.5%. For most of the developed world and the major population centers, population growth has largely stopped.

While this may come as good news to those who fear overpopulation, theory and evidence indicate that we have far more to fear from declining populations. As the economist Julian Simon pointed out 4 decades ago, humans are the ultimate resource, because they create resources where none existed before. All of the resources that make our modern, comfortable lives possible, from energy to transportation to communication to refrigeration to climate control to pharmaceuticals, are the results of human ingenuity. It’s no wonder that as the world population exploded, so too did our resources.

The Age of Decline will pose a particularly difficult problem for countries like the United States that rely on younger workers to support retirees. The latest Census figures project that within the next seven years, net migration into the United States will exceed the country’s natural population growth, making us, for the first time in almost 150 years, dependent on immigration for our population growth. Even then, the Census projects that the US population growth rate will fall (permanently) below 0.5% within the decade.

For decades we’ve known the implications of this trend for Social Security. In 1960, there were more than 5 workers paying into the system for each Social Security recipient drawing out. Today, it’s fewer than 3. And that number is expected to fall to 2 within 10 years. In short, we need today’s average worker to contribute to Social Security 2.5 times what the average worker of 3 generations ago contributed. 

Changing demographics are not only placing a greater burden on workers, but also making it less and less possible to institute needed changes. As the ratio of workers to retirees declines, so too does the voting power of those workers. People aged 53 and older are either receiving Social Security, and so not interested in reforms that involve cutting benefits, or are close enough to receiving Social Security to be less interested in reforming the system to their own future detriment.

To further stack the deck against them, younger workers are less likely to vote than are the elderly. In the extreme, if all likely voters aged 52 years old and younger supported cutting Social Security benefits and all likely voters aged 53 and older opposed cutting benefits, then in a vote held today, a cut benefits” proposal would win by a scant 51 to 49%. In another 7 years, it would be a dead heat. From 2030 forward, the demographic shift toward the elderly makes it impossible for the cut benefits” option to win. And that assumes that voters aged 52 and younger would be unanimously in favor of cutting Social Security benefits. In fact, almost 80% of working age Americans say Social Security benefits should be preserved, even if it means raising payroll taxes.

Unfortunately, the laws of arithmetic trump both political rhetoric and wishful thinking. The Social Security Board of Trustees estimates that with no changes, Social Security will run a $2.5 trillion deficit over the course of the next decade. To eliminate that deficit would require either cutting Social Security benefits by around 255 or raising payroll tax revenues by around 25%, or some combination of both. Of course, the federal government could always borrow to fund the Social Security deficit, but that doesn’t eliminate the deficit so much as move it from one set of government ledgers to another. No matter what we choose to do, taxpayers are going to pay the price. The question that remains is which taxpayers. Given the polling data and the shifting demographics, the answer appears to be the working taxpayers.

An oft-repeated possible solution is to remove the cap on payroll taxes. The danger there lies in imposing a significant cost on budding entrepreneurs. Households with at least one income, and a side business that has grown enough to provide significant income but not enough to be a full-fledged business, are more likely to be earning (or anticipate soon to be earning) near the Social Security payroll tax cap (currently $160,000). As business owners must pay both halves of payroll taxes (employer and employee), removing the payroll tax cap imposes an additional 12.4% tax on business owners’ earnings beyond $160,000. This will create a disincentive for entrepreneurs to grow their side businesses enough to support employees. A more entrepreneur-friendly change of keeping the $160,000 cap, but then removing it for earnings above $250,000, would raise less than half of what’s needed to close the Social Security deficit.

Both the economics and the demographics lean toward placing the growing Social Security burden on the backs of workers. A stagnating population will make that burden both more financially onerous to bear and more politically difficult to alleviate. Meanwhile, slowing population growth ultimately means slower economic growth. In short, the problem only gets worse as time goes on.

It’s no coincidence that the United States grew from a small agrarian nation to an economic superpower over the same century and a half that its population grew 30-fold. But that era has ended. The United States, and much of the rest of the developed world, has entered the Age of Decline. As population growth in developed countries slows, economic innovation and growth will slow also. This will place greater burdens on already-burdened retirement programs. The shift from a younger population to an older population will ensure that the bulk of that burden falls on the young, ultimately making it more expensive for them to raise children of their own, thereby further exacerbating the shift.

Having survived the Atomic Age without blowing ourselves to bits, and having generated wealth beyond imagining throughout the Information Age, we enter the Age of Decline and find ourselves victims of our own success. History tells us that impoverished societies die by war and famine. Now we are learning that prosperous societies die by attrition.

I Want To Break Free

I want to break free, I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
You’re so self-satisfied I don’t need you
I’ve got to break free
God knows, God knows I want to break free

I’ve fallen in love
I’ve fallen in love for the first time
This time I know it’s for real
I’ve fallen in love, yeah
God knows, God knows I’ve fallen in love

It’s strange but it’s true, hey
I can’t get over the way you love me like you do

But I have to be sure when I walk out that door
Oh, I want to be free, baby
Oh, how I want to be free
Oh, I want to break free

But life still goes on
I can’t get used to living without, living without
Living without you by my side
I don’t want to live alone, hey
God knows, got to make it on my own
So, baby, can’t you see I’ve got to break free?

I’ve got to break free
I want to break free, yeah

I want, I want, I want
I want to break free


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