Monday, July 24, 2006

Further aimless thoughts while listening to Ray Wylie Hubbard:

Israeli ambassador Victor Harel snapped back at Pepe Blanco, saying that Blanco's remarks "were the most disgraceful (infame) statements I have heard in recent days...He is accusing us of killing civilians indiscriminately, that is killing civilians intentionally. This is something that Arab propaganda does, but we did not expect it from someone at the head of a party with many links with Israel and years and years of relations...That the organizational secretary of a party, the same that organized (Thursday's) demonstration, should make an accusation of this character against us, has left us completely speechless."

So what did Blanco do, apologize? Nope.

"As I have done since the beginning of the crisis, my first words were of rotund condemnation of Hezbollah's terrorist actions; actions, which I have also been saying for days, do not justify a disproportionate military response which is causing innocent victims," he responded.

These guys are just digging the hole even deeper.

It's hot, with temperatures above 90º F across most of Europe. In southern Spain it can easily reach 110º. 30 people have already been reported dead in France, reminiscent of the tragic summer several years ago when literally thousands of people, mostly elderly, died of the heat. I am on a granola-yogurt-fruit diet to beat the heat. Get this, the Generalitat is warning people about "abusing air-conditioning." I'm not sure what they mean, since anybody who tries to take a whack at my air-conditioner is going to have to get past me first.

The ignored international humanitarian crisis continued this week, as some 600 illegal immigrant boat people were picked up at sea aboard several different open boats in the Atlantic by the Spanish coast guard. At least six died of exposure and starvation, as one of the cayucos was adrift at sea for five days without food before they found it. Canary Islands authorities say they are "desperate." Over a thousand people have died at sea so far in 2006 on the West Africa-Canary Islands route. The international media isn't getting all excited, though.

In good news, traffic deaths are down by half over last summer. This is excellent news, as Spanish highways have always been among the deadliest in Europe. Looks like the changeover to the points system has had a psychological effect on driving habits.

Get this. There are currently nine enormous luxury cruisers docked in Barcelona harbor, and 1.5 million cruise passengers will come through the city this year. And some people doubt that we live off tourism.

Sports: Everyone knows that Floyd Landis won the Tour de France, a well-deserved victory for a guy who toughed it out, who pulled off one of the finest breaks from the pack ever on the day it looked like it was all over for him. Landis is much more popular in Europe than Armstrong, probably because he seems like a much nicer guy, you know, not as arrogant. Lance is, of course, the greatest cyclist ever, but he's apparently also capable of behaving like a major dickhead.

Barcelona signed Thuram and Zambrotta, giving them a squad of:

Goalies: Valdes, Jorquera
Right fullback: Zambrotta, Belletti, Oleguer
Right center-back: Marquez, Oleguer
Left center-back: Puyol, Thuram
Left fullback: Van Bronckhorst, Sylvinho
Defensive midfielder: Edmilson, Marquez, Motta
Playmaking midfielder: Xavi, Iniesta, Van Bommel
Attacking midfielder: Deco, Iniesta, Van Bommel
Right wing: Messi, Giuly, Ezquerro
Center forward: Eto'o, Gudjohnsen
Left wing: Ronaldinho, Deco

That's a pretty good lineup, and they've got three years playing together under their belts. They're the unanimous favorite to win the Spanish league--the online betting sites have Barcelona at something like 1.6-1 to threepeat, with Real Madrid at around 3-1 and longshot Valencia at 8-1. No one else has a realistic chance. As for the Champions' League, Barcelona and Chelsea are the preseason favorites. Since both Juventus and Milan have been disqualified, this means that the CL will be somewhat easier to win than last year.

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