Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The big news from here in B-ville is that it's cold. There's a high-pressure system over the British Isles, producing clockwise winds, and a low-pressure system over Italy, producing counter-clockwise winds. This combination is basically sucking the cold air out of northern Europe and Russia, and the winds are coming in hard. Normally this time of year in Barcelona high temperatures are around 55-60 Fº and lows are around 50 or so. Yesterday the temperature fell some twenty degrees in seven hours. We're expecting lows near freezing over the next three or four days, with highs in the upper thirties. Unfortunately for the ski resorts in the Pyrenees, this is dry continental air and it's not bringing any snow with it.

I can hear you people in New Hampshire saying "What's this joker whining about now? We'd go out in shirtsleeves if it were 40 Fº around here." Yeah, but the deal is in New Hampshire you're prepared for the cold, because it's normal, but here we're not, because it only happens every few years. People don't have central heating. We use butane space heaters. The buildings are made of brick and they're not insulated, and the windows are single-pane. Besides, Barcelona is a humid city because it's on the coast; we don't get much precipitation, twenty inches or so a year, but the humidity is always high. In addition, they don't sell too much really warm clothing around here; there's a lot of stuff that looks like nice thick wool but it usually isn't, it's acrylic or polyester. All of this makes perfect sense 99% of the time, of course, since it's dumb to prepare for very rare occasions like a cold wave when there are a lot of more urgent things to take care of.

There was a stink a few days ago about the Church; seems that a bunch of Catholic bishops decided that condoms were OK. The very next day they were instructed in no uncertain terms to recant this heresy, and they immediately did so. Now the Pope has jumped in with both feet and is instructing the faithful to listen to him, not the damn bishops.

The other stink going on now is that a couple of days ago Defense Minister José Bono and Socialist apparatchik Rosa Díez were pushed around and verbally abused at an Association of Victims of Terrorism demonstration in Madrid. I am, of course, appalled. Such behavior is just plain wrong, and I condemn it. The press is going into hysterics about how there's an outbreak of the old far-right that's coming to get us all.

The press is full of shit, as usual. As nasty as this incident was, it's one incident. I do not recall similar hysterics about the continued mob violence of the old and new far left; let's remember that at the anti-war demos there was open rioting and sacking of shops, that every two or three months the squatters in Barcelona riot and normally do serious physical damage to the police, that mobs of exalted leftist thugs surrounded the PP headquarters in Madrid after the March 11 bombing and put everyone there in fear for their lives, that squatters and skinheads regularly fight it out on the streets of my neighborhood, Gracia, and that PP candidates in Catalonia are routinely attacked at public occasions. I have also not seen such press hysteria regarding the wave of soccer racist violence.

By the way, the Association of Victims of Terrorism is a long-existing group that unites the families of victims of the ETA. It has no relation with Pilar Manjón, the Communist leader of the association of victims of the March 11 bombing, which is going to go the way of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo--from justified outrage, loss, and tragedy to unjustified pure left-wing hate.

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