Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pointless thoughts while listening to Junior Brown:

(Hey, do you guys ever listen to any of the music videos I link to?)

Local music news is that a well-known non-commercial flamenco performer, "El Capullo de Jerez," has been charged with setting a six-year-old girl on fire. Yep, you read that right. He was apparently completely drunk in a bar and got in an argument, left, and decided the way to get revenge was by torching his antagonist's child. Wonderful what alcohol does to promote clear thinking. I never heard of this guy before, but they showed him on TV, and he is obviously suffering the effects of long-term alcoholism, schizophrenia, or both. The guy's artistic name is great, too, "The Blossom of Jerez." However, "capullo," that is, "blossom," has a much more common slang meaning, which is "dickhead." I assume the double entendre was intentional.

In other crime news, today Spain's 55th domestic murder of the year took place. Also, a Barcelona court decided that selling pirate CDs and videos in the streets (which is referred to as "top manta" around here, I suppose because the pirate discs are displayed on top of a manta, that is, a blanket) is not a crime, but rather an administrative violation. Those caught can be ticketed and fined, as if they had parked illegally, but not arrested, tried, or jailed. 100% of top manta vendors are illegal aliens, usually Africans or Moroccans.

Wonder if the name of the fish, the manta ray, comes from the fact that it looks rather like a blanket?

Further Catalunacy: For some reason your ultranationalists around here have made a big deal about Catalan national sports teams. International sporting federations do not recognize Catalonia as an independent country, and its "national teams" cannot participate in international competitions such as the Olympics or World Cup, because Catalan players play for Spain in those things.

They can, of course, organize exhibition games against any other team they can convince to show up, and every Christmas somebody pays a foreign team--one year they got Brazil, I remember--to come play an exhibition against the Catalan side, normally featuring three guys from the Barça, two from Espanyol, and some second division players. Everyone gets in free and a good time is had by all, unless they get the Electrica Dharma to play a concert before the match.

So, anyway, the regional government, the Generalitat, ran an ad showing children from around the world wearing different uniform shirts playing soccer. A child wearing a Catalan uniform shirt tries to join the game, but another child wearing a red shirt (coincidentally the Spanish national team's color) refuses to let him play. Infuriating. What is public tax money being used for here? Why is the Generalitat buying TV time to run any ads at all, especially this tendentious whining tantrum?

Over here governmental bodies, especially the regional and municipal ones, run what they call "institutional advertising." These paid ads, which run on TV and radio and in newspapers, serve two purposes: A) patting the leaders of the governmental body which pays for the ad on the back, thereby serving as a permanent political campaign in favor of those currently holding power, and B) providing not-so-invisible government subsidies to local media outlets. Another way subsidies are handed out by newspapers is through "institutional subscriptions"; the Generalitat pays for more than 10,000 daily subscriptions to La Vanguardia, for example.

The votes are being counted in Brazil as I type and it looks like Lula de Silva is going down against the Social Democratic candidate, the first LatAm left-populist to get booted by his country's people. Corruption, and the failure of Lula's paternalistic welfare scheme, have disillusioned many Brazilians, and fortunately the reaction is taking place at the polls. And one thing must be said for Lula, he's not a Chavez or Lopez Obrador; if he loses, he'll turn over power democratically.

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