Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Directionless thoughts while listening to Neil Young:

British serial killer Tony King went on trial today for murdering Rocío Wanninkoff, a Spanish teenage girl, four years ago. King's DNA was found under the girl's fingernails, which makes it pretty clear that he did it. He is currently serving life for murdering another teenage girl, Sonia Carabantes. King also committed several sexual assaults in the UK. Can we please hang this low-life piece of trash?

Meanwhile, some nutcase kid in Germany shot up his old school; fortunately, nobody was killed except for the shooter, who committed suicide after wounding eight people. La Vanguardia featured no deep sociological commentary on how German culture is intrinsically violent today.

Remei and I went to see "Borat" along with Murph on Sunday night. We thought it was pretty funny, though of course there wasn't much of a plot, just sketches stuck together. It wasn't a devastating comment on American culture, though, it was just another fish-out-of-water movie (like Moscow on the Hudson or Crocodile Dundee, or even Mork and Mindy.) I thought the funniest bits were the ones in the worst taste, of course, especially when he goes to the snobby dinner party and takes a crap in a plastic bag. One thing to notice is that the born-again Christians--of course, Borat goes to a Pentecostalist church--are the ones who accept him best. The feminist academics certainly weren't very tolerant. Also notice that the gun store wouldn't sell him a gun, since he wasn't a US citizen. The fratboys are suing, claiming that the producers got them drunk (yeah, I bet they needed a lot of encouragement) and promised that the movie would not be shown in the US. The Romanian villagers who served as the natives of Borat's hometown are also suing, for obvious reasons, claiming they had been told it was a documentary on poverty.

The series comes on tonight and I plan to watch it, in English, of course. Fortunately TV3 gives you that option.

Here's another example of taking pop culture too seriously in today's Vanguardia by Jordi Balló. He's writing on a TV series called "Masters of Horror," which includes episodes in which American soldiers in Iraq become zombies, a family man goes psychotic violent after his son dies, "an apocalyptic parable on violence against women," and "a ferocious criticism of the anti-abortion movement," which includes a woman inseminated by the devil who ends up shooting her own child.

Gee, sounds like a bunch of cheap horror flicks to me. If you like that stuff, great, but I don't; I avoid horror movies. Real life is scary enough.

So here's Mr. Balló: "This series expresses being deeply fed-up. Fed up with America, with the United States, with fundamentalism, with sexism, with Bush, with patriotism, and with the sacred essences."

Three points: 1) I believe Mr. Balló is doing what Freud called "projecting." 2) Notice that Mr. Balló identifies the US with fundamentalism, sexism, and patriotism. Am I in Catalonia, where at least 10% of the population is fundamentalist Marxist, where domestic violence is daily news, and Esquerra Republicana is in the government, or not? Nothing wrong with Catalonia, it's a wonderful place, I'm very happy here or I would leave, but hey, it's imperfect just like everywhere else. 3) Mr. Balló is pretty clearly a case of bias, not opinion.

The CIS, the government polling agency, and why we need one I don't know, just released a Spain-wide survey showing the PSOE and the PP virtually tied in voter intention. The results if an election were held today are PSOE 39.3%, PP 37.9%, IU (communists) 5.1%, CiU 3.1%, ERC 2.8%, and the PNV 1.7%. Seems that the big kerfluffle about the Catalan statute and the breakdown of "peace negotiations" with ETA have hurt Zap, and the PP's move toward the center has helped Rajoy. Rumor has it that Esperanza Aguirre has her knife sharpened and is out for Rajoy's jugular.

All four minor parties, along with several others, would get parliamentary seats, of course, and this is one problem with the proportional-representation system: it allows people who most voters think are complete nutcases into positions of power. Look at the Catalan regional government and the Barcelona city government: the generally moderate Socialists have to share power with the Communists and the national socialist Esquerra. Joan Saura is going to be running the regional police, for God's sake, and they put Esquerra in charge of the Orwellian "linguistic normalization" department.

Check out this letter from today's Vanguardia:

I have been working at the department of justice for 18 years, first under the state (Spain) and then transferring to the Generalitat (Catalan regional government). I have held a medical degree since 1987 and passed the level B Catalan-language certificate test in 1998. This was demanded of me in order to do my job.

Now they demand that I obtain the level C certificate and I have been warned that if I do not, I may be fired. Because of this, I asked to take the necessary course, organized by the department, and I signed up for an obligatory level B exam, though I already have the certificate., in order to take the level C course and exam. Previously, the linguistic normalizer (bureaucrat) informed me that after the exam, it would be decided whether I can enter the level C course or whether I will have to pass a course "in order to obtain level B again," when I have had the certificate for years.

All the above is absurd and has no justification. When you acquire an accredited certificate, you do not have to take any more exams. Imagine an obligatory exam in order to reacquire a high school diploma, medical degree, or drivers licence...

Signed, Maria Pilar Pellegero, Ripoll

Gee, you'd think if she's a doctor, her job performance rather than her linguistic ability ought to be how she is judged, no? This is, of course, corporativism, as anyone who graduates from a Catalan high school automatically gets a level C certificate in Catalan. Linguistic laws serve to exclude persons from other parts of Spain from government jobs in Catalonia, and local nationalists want to extend these discriminatory laws to private business too.

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