Friday, October 20, 2006

Aimless thoughts while listening to Doc Watson:

The cost of housing is Spaniards' main concern, not Iraq or North Korea or the Congo; La Vangua reports that housing prices are climbing at 9.8% a year. I sat through a long harangue last night on how the government ought to take over the housing market and produce cheap houses for everyone. I refrained from remarking that that's been tried many times and it hasn't worked, because whenever the government situates the price of anything below its true market value, that good disappears from the market. That's the problem now; restricted zoning and complicated bureaucratic procedures, along with strict rent control, mean it is generally unprofitable to build unless you are paying someone off to fix your zoning classification, and that owners of properties that could be rented hold them off the market because they will never be permitted to raise the rent more than the rate of inflation again. Let the free market rip!

(By the way, I personally benefit from rent control, as I am paying 1998-era rent, half what this place would go for on the market. Then again, if rent control were lifted, prices would presumably drop as more renters entered the market and competition increased. So who knows?)

Fox News is reporting that North Korea is backing off, that they've apologized for the nuclear test and will promise not to carry out any more if the US will make concessions. This is what happens when you let a rogue state obtain nuclear weapons. Still, jaw, jaw is better than war, war.

Barça was defeated on Wednesday night 1-0 by Chelsea, who clearly played better even though they were forced to use their third-string goalie. Don't worry, Barça will be fine. They can't win every game and we can't expect them to. Losing 1-0 at Stamford Bridge isn't precisely a disgrace. Comments: Puyol needs a rest, but I'll bet he plays against Madrid. He shouldn't. Both Marquez and Thuram are fitter right now. Edmilson also needs a rest; he really hasn't come back from the injury that kept him out of the World Cup. Gudjohnsen will be fine. Zambrotta has been merely OK so far. Messi has been very good but I still think he's overrated. Bit of strangeness: On the left wing of the attack, Barça uses a right-footed player, Ronaldinho, and on the right wing of the attack, they use a left-footed player, Messi. Completely the opposite of what tradition says. Agreed, both of these guys are pretty good with their "weak" legs.

The best bit of political news is that the Communist youth brigade was using the slogan, "Folla't a la dreta, fes-t'ho amb Iniciativa," literally, "Fuck the right wing, do it with Initiative (the Commies' official name)," while passing out condoms. Chemical Imma Mayol then announced that her life-partner, Commie candidate Joan Saura, was "tender and imaginative" in the sack, which was a little more than we needed to know, and that they had gone straight to bed on their first date, a degree of intimacy which rarely becomes public in American politics until some congressman starts sending dirty e-mails to minors.

This proves one thing: Saura and Mayol are, shock, practicing heterosexuals. How square. With Initiative's ultra-politically-correct ecosocialist orientation, you'd think they'd be transsexual lesbians of color involved in a mutually fulfilling five-way marriage with a goat, a beret-wearing bearded deconstructionist of indeterminate gender, and a trisexual illegal alien from Neptune named Grok.

Says Antoni Puigverd in today's Vangua:

You, candidate Saura, are the champions of the game of moral superiority. As Catalanist as it is possible to be, "real, genuine" leftists, more solidarious than anyone, and the only lovers of nature. You float above the other parties in your sanctity! The risk of showing such a clean heart, candidate Saura, is that when one slips, one becomes spectacularly dirty.

The Vangua also reports that the London betting line on the Catalan election has Mas as the favorite at 2-3 odds, with Montilla at 6-5, Saura at 37-1, Carod-Rovira at 54-1, and Piqué at 74-1. I assume that winning the elections means getting the most votes, which does not necessarily make you regional premier.

Tonight is the debate between the five candidates, TV3 at 9:45. I'll be watching and taking notes rather than going out partying, as most voters probably will be doing. Whose idea was it to have the debate on Friday night? Why not Sunday afternoon after lunch, peak viewing time, in order to reach more of the people? And after the debate tonight, get this, they're showing "Tango and Cash" dubbed into Catalan. No wonder they think Americans are idiots over here with the crappy movies they run on TV.

This election hasn't stirred up a great deal of passion except maybe among the Communist youth brigade. But in case you're interested, here are some videos of the five candidates:

Three different interviews with Artur Mas, one from Vilaweb, one from Canal Latino, and one from TV3. Lots and lots more Mas stuff available out there.

Two rather unfunny gags about Montilla from a TV3 "humor" program. Hey, Montilla supporters, you'd better get some good videos of your candidate up on YouTube.

Carod-Rovira giving a fiery nationalist speech on the Diada this year. This ought to be all the Carod you need to see.

A quick sound-bite of Pique. Nothing more.

An interview with Saura, and a speech at a rally. There's lots of Saura stuff up; Initiative and Convergencia seem to be the only two parties that have caught on to YouTube.

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