Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Bad joke translated from Spanish: the CIA's geology experts send a fax to the Guardia Civil saying, "Upcoming seismic movement, epicenter Cuenca." Two months later, the CIA gets a return fax. It says, "Seismic movement in Cuenca broken up and epicenter arrested. Sorry we didn't answer before but we've had a hell of a big earthquake." That one's probably left over from the Franco days, when Guardia Civil jokes were fairly common.

Bad joke in Spanish. Doesn't translate. "Mear" is the regular -ar verb "to piss".

Dos chinos estan hablando. El primero dice, "Me he complado un coche." El segundo le pregunta, "De que malca?" El primero contesta, "Alfa." El segundo pregunta, "Lomeo?" El primero dice, "Lo meas y te pego una hostia, gilipollas."

The French cops have pulled off two major ETA busts within the last week; they arrested five people, all "active operatives" (i.e. killers), two of whom were in the leadership group. Gotta give the French cops credit; their political leaders are a bunch of jerks but their security and intelligence services are hardcore professionals and do their jobs well. Congratulations to them on nailing the bastards.

The PSC-ERC-ICV leftist coalition offically announced itself today. Socialist Pasqual Maragall gets to be Catalan Prime Minister, but Esquerra has demanded the Chief of Staff of the Cabinet post for Carod-Rovira, and he's going to get it along with four Cabinet departments. Initiative is apparently going to get one department in the Cabinet, so Catalonia will be under Communist influence for however long this coalition lasts. Convergencia i Unio is foaming mad, hitting out in all directions and especially in that of the Republican Left. The nicest thing they're calling Esquerra is "traitors".

Here's my guess. In the regional elections a heavy punishment vote was cast against the two most mainstream parties in Catalonia, CiU and the PSC, each of whom lost ten seats. Those seats went to the three smaller parties in protest against the way things have been run around here for the last 23 years. The conservative PP's small gains are probably real and will show up next elections, but Esquerra and Iniciativa doubled their number of seats. That's not going to last, and Esquerra, which is a one-issue bandwagon-style political party--"we're pissed off so let's cast an extreme nationalist vote just out of spite"--will lose a lot of those seats next time around. The other possibility--that these elections mark a major changeover to the left--implies the extinction of CiU, or at least a PP-CiU alliance. CiU is going to remember this December for a long time, and they'll remember that the PP never betrayed them over eight years of cooperation, 1996-2000 in the Congress of Deputies and 1999-2003 in the Catalan Parliament. ERC didn't even bother to wait until a cabinet had been formed to stick the knife in CiU's back. Esquerra is a sufficiently unstable formation to lurch back and forth in its policies; I don't think they have any sort of long-term plan, I think they're just plain opportunists looking for as big a share of power as they can get.

By the way, the figure of 7000 jobs (which I lifted from Libertad Digital) that will be affected by this change of government is probably exaggerated. There are somewhat under a thousand politically appointed jobs in the Catalan government, and most of those will be changing hands. Additionally, there are quite a few social institutions, from La Caixa to the Barca, that are controlled by the same people who are in politics, and the political shakeout is going to mean changes in these organizations too. Whatever, a sizable amount of influence is about to change hands.

Q. How many Catalans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A. Only two, but they have to be very small.
A. Well, first, you'll need an number of nationally conscious delegates to hold a study group on the sociolinguistic efects of the change of the lightbulb, which Omnium Cultural will immediately denounce because two of the delegates have Spanish-speaking spouses...
A. Doesn't matter. The Valencians will boycott the event anyway.
A. You know, it's very insensitive of you to even bring that up.
A. Baltasar Porcel might figure it out in a couple of years if you take it easy on the electroshocks and let him out of his straitjacket. Also consider sharpening the axe before the lobotomy next time.

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