Archive for March 23rd, 2006

Cafe Society

I am in two minds about advertising inside public transport.

On the one hand, if it keeps the price of my ticket down and results in better service through greater investment, then I can’t have too much cause for complaint.

On the other, I think that filling every square inch of public space with exhortations to buy stuff is an inter-city saver to consumerist totalitarianism. Indulge me for a moment. This morning I looked up from my book and saw an ad for coffee. It displayed a dishevelled, pale and yawning woman, with the caption ‘Get that girl a coffee’. Or maybe it mentioned the brand name in the caption, not sure. Anyway, the point is that if you were confronted with a simple list in the morning that said

You need to go to work.
You need to tidy yourself up.
Put some make-up on.
You are not allowed to be tired.
People are looking at you.
Coffee gives you friends.
Coffee makes you young.

you might wonder if you were living in the right country.

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Pants on Fire

I am spending far too much time reading Libertad Digital. I think I just saw a link to a story about Fidel Castro burning his underwear as a security measure, but when I clicked back looking for it, I could no longer find it.

Update: No, I wasn’t seeing things. Rupert Cornwell reports.

Racist Lecturers

They should allow white supremacists, bigots and crackpots to teach at universities, and they should be free to express their opinion. This is a centuries-old tradition we are talking about. It’s when they start doubling up as government advisors when you should start getting worried.

"interviews are mostly about trying not to make the interviewer think I’m too much of an asshole"

Don’t know how I missed this one. One of my favourite writers ‘interviews‘ one of my favourite singers. Such moments are rare these days.

It was raining today in town and after I’d bought an Asparagus Lasagne for one from Marks and Spencers (my wife has temporarily left me. But she’ll be back on Saturday.), it seemed appropriate to pick up the new Morrissey album. But it doesn’t seem to be out yet. Some people have all the luck.

ETA Ceasefire greeted by customary Moa-ning

A few weeks ago in Helsinki, with chapped lips and a belly full of reindeer, I watched a rather good interview (watch it here in English) with Javier Marias, Spanish novelist, anglophile and translator extraordinare (he translated, among others, John Updike, Seamus Heaney and Laurence Sterne into Spanish), conducted by Gavin Esler.

One of the observations he made in the interview was that the outlook for Spain was quite bright compared with what had gone before. One note of caution, if I recall correctly, was that if you were to believe what certain right-wing pundits had to say, Spain is on the brink of disaster.

This is generally the line of Pio Moa, former communist guerilla turned counter-historian. In this vein, his reaction to the ETA permanent ceasefire is no disappointment. In a piece which translates as ETA, stronger than ever, he writes:

“…the arrival of the present government was the best piece of news that ETA
received in its history: after finding itself on the verge of the abyss, it has
been able to rebuild its apparatus and its finances, it has rearmed, it has
found that it could strike when and where it wanted, and it has achieved a very
substantial portion of its proclaimed objectives: to liquidate the constitution,
open a constitutional process, or rather deconstitutional, towards the
disintegration of Spain and its democracy, to destroy everything that has been
built since the Transition. It is unlikely that it is satisfied with what
has now been gained, but it has already made a great leap forward.”

And then, on the collaboration between Zapatero and ETA:

“Some innocent dupes wonder how this collaboration is possible. It’s very
simple, ‘Red’ Zapatero and ETA start from the same concept: the idea that
democracies – identified with “the right” or “imperialism” – create an “ocean of
injustice and poverty”. They differ in their methods to combat the “injustice”,
but it’s a minor difference. On the basics, in attacking the causes,
according to their twisted judgement, of this “ocean”, they are at one.”

In short, then: he likes democracy, but the President of his current government and ETA are all part of the same continuum. Much in the same way as I like music, but Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca and Black Lace’s Agadoo are all part of the same continuum. After all, they both start from the same concept: the idea that music should be used for dancing.


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