Archive for June, 2009

The Meaning of National Sovereignty

RebelReports – Iraq’s “National Sovereignty Day” is U.S.-Style Hallmark Hype

In a grotesquely symbolic move, the Iraqi government marked “National Sovereignty Day” by “open[ing] up some of its massive oil and gas fields to foreign firms,” according to the Wall Street Journal: “In a televised ceremony, international oil companies were invited to submit bids for six oil and two gas fields, a process that marked their return to the country over 30 years after Mr. Hussein nationalized the oil sector and expelled the foreign firms. The fields on offer hold about 43 billion of Iraq’s 115 billion barrels of crude reserves — among the largest in the world.” Among the companies bidding were the Western oil giants ExxonMobil and BP (which reportedly won a contract on Tuesday). As The New York Times reported, “A total of 8 of the world’s 10 top non-state oil companies are competing for licenses to help develop six oil fields and two natural gas fields.”

In Which The Guardian Is Very Concerned For The Moral Welfare Of The Ruling Classes

Michael Tomasky: The Honduran coup | Comment is free |

At any rate I don’t think this means we’re entering a new era of instability in Central America. If anything, the larger story here seems to be Chavezismo and how ruling classes should respond to it — like, by trying to do something through normal political means for these countries’ legions of poor people for a change.


Why should one hope for the ruling classes to do anything at all -through normal political means or not- for poor people? The point about the ruling classes is that they rule. If they do something for poor people, they do it only to the extent that it conserves or entrenches their position as rulers. To act in any other way would be to relinquish their position of privilege.

The larger story here, contra The Guardian, is how the legions of poor people should overthrow the ruling classes and take control of their own destiny.


The names of shame | Stephen Bayley | Comment is free |

Right now, in Andalucia, they are selling a local whisky called “Dyck”. Anglophone larrikins enjoy entering bars and asking very loudly for “a big dick”.

In fact, the whiskey is called DYC, short for Destilerías y Crianza, and it’s not local to Andalucia. It’s very popular among people to whom the English word ‘dick’ means nothing. Personally I find it headshrinkingly disgusting, but it was never intended to be targeted at ‘anglophone larrikins’. I’m sure I’m guilty of the same sort of sniggering myself on other occasions, but as a general principle the fact that a word in one language sounds a lot like a rude word in another should never give cause for amusement (cf Aon Focal Eile by Richie Kavanagh). Still, it was funny the time a whole load of French kids started laughing at a guy I know called Shane because his name sounded a lot like ‘chien’.

Salvage Operation

Here, old books stink. The heat does something to whatever adhesive gets used in their binding. And the heat causes the sweat of your hands to mingle with the dried adhesive as you flick through them. Yesterday I spent the afternoon sorting through old books, trying to work out which ones were to go to the local library, which would in turn send them on to prisons and old people’s centres, and which ones were to be simply thrown in the skip because no-one was ever going to read them, and a third lesser category: the ones I would hang onto myself.

There were about 15 volumes of Freud, all in Spanish. Even though Freud in English is a translation from the German, I knew that if I hung onto them I would never read them, out of indolence. But I kept The Psychopathology of Everyday Life and Studies in Hysteria.

Then there was the Arturo Barea’s La Forja de Un Rebelde trilogy on the Spanish Civil War. I lifted that too.

Among the others: a couple of books by Camilo José Cela: La Colmena and Cafe de Artistas.

A great hardback copy of Rayuela by Julio Cortázar, with a photo of him on the front, smoking a fag.

An anthology of studies on Miguel Hernández.

An anthology of essays in homage to José Donoso.

a book on Octavio Paz: Cultura Literaria y Teoría Crítica.

Sin noticias de Gurb by Eduardo Mendoza.

Los que vivimos i.e. We The Living, by Ayn Rand (gulp.) Published in 1959.

Now all I need is long term hospitalisation in order to get the chance to read them. The last one, well, I’m not sure if life is long enough to bother, but I liked the very spartan cover.

Poor Little Rich People

When it comes to the task of dying, ordinary people get the better deal | Irish Examiner

In fact, the rich may suffer more than the poor, in some cases where the seduction of spurious treatment possibilities outweighs sense. The documentary showed Farrash Fawcett paying a fortune for demonstrably ineffective alternative treatments in Germany – and suffering grievously on the return journey to the United States. Some things don’t change. Twenty years ago, the star was Steve McQueen, the location was Mexico and the utterly pointless treatment was a preparation called Laetrile derived from the hard nut in the middle of apricots.

I never tire of reading speculations on how much greater the suffering of the rich can be by comparison with that of the poor. We should not harden our hearts and turn a blind eye to their suffering: rather, we should expropriate and redistribute their wealth. For their own good.

The Problem

Via A Tiny Revolution.

Slippery Slope

When I first lived in Spain more than a decade ago, there was an annoying ad on TV for a particular Danone product -Natillas, which taste a bit like cold custard- with an annoyingly catchy jingle, featuring Atlético Madrid player José Luis Pérez Caminero, or Caminero for short. The guy looked strangely awkward when on the pitch, but he was a superb passer, and could belt the ball pretty well too. Well, he’s just been busted by the Guardia Civil as part of an operation against drug trafficking and money laundering. Which just goes to show you that Danone products are a gateway to far more serious substances. One week you’re knocking back the odd Actimel, next thing you know you’re out on the railway tracks with a big bag of glue.

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June 2009
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