Monday, November 27, 2006

Semi-random notes while listening to a New Orleans jazz compilation:

The big news in Spain over the weekend was the demonstration called by the Association of Victims of Terrorism, which brought out something like a million people in Madrid. All the heavy hitters from the PP showed up. I'm about fed up with AVT demonstrations. Agreed, everybody has the right to speak out, but they keep having these demos for no particular reason.

The demo's stated purpose was to oppose government negotiations with ETA, a cause I firmly agree with. There's nothing to talk about except where and when they turn over their weapons. ETA's robbery of 250 pistols in France has pretty much derailed negotiations for now anyway. My problem with the AVT, though, is that they've already demonstrated for the same reason three or four times this year. Once is enough.

The demonstrators called for Zap's resignation, which I would like to see, but ain't going to happen, and most disgracefully, perpetuated the completely insane 9-11 conspiracy theory, you know, the one that says that the Socialists and ETA plotted to blow up 200 people and pin it on Al Qaeda in order to screw over the PP.

Russia is an out-and-out Mafia state, which is, I suppose, better than being an out-and-out totalitarian state. Then again, wait until the Godfather starts auctioning off nukes to the highest bidder. I assume the Godfather isn't that crazy, since he has to deal with the Chechens back home.

Ecuador elected another nut as president--anybody remember Abdullah Bucaram? The Vegas line is 3-1 that this new guy doesn't last a year.

Statistic: Median family income per month in Barcelona's richest neighborhood, Sarriá-Sant Gervasi, is €1941. In Barcelona's poorest neighborhood, Ciutat Vella, it's €1388. That's not very much. I'm not going to do the math, but I think that €1388 a month is well below the US poverty line for a family of four. 31% of Ciutat Vella residents consider crime "a serious problem."

According to a US Senate investigation, Equatorial Guinea earned $130 million selling petroleum internationally in 1998. Dictator Teodoro Obiang kept $96 million of that himself. One-fourth of Equatorial Guineans suffer from malnutrition.

A further case of taking "Borat" far too seriously, by Llatzer Moix in La Vanguardia. Moix enumerates the gun dealer who recommended a 9mm Glock to Borat when he asked for "the best weapon to kill a Jew," the rodeo guy who didn't like homosexuals, and the drunken South Carolina fratboys as examples of "the least attractive characteristics of Americans."

No, no, Mr. Moix, they're examples of not-very-nice people. The great majority of Americans share few, if any, characteristics with those folks.

Moix continues,

Borat is an unleashed, colossal response to the political correctness that has governed American society for the last fifteen years, and also proof of its limited effects: under this makeup of correctness propitiated by the use of euphemisms and verbal restrictions, xenophobia and discrimination have conserved--and who knows, might have aumented--all their vigor.

Mr. Moix, trust me, there is a good bit less xenophobia and discrimination in the United States than in most of Europe. Spain is going to be a test case: can it handle a mass increase in the number of Third World immigrants without a mass increase of xenophobia and racism? More than 10% of Americans were born outside the US, which has been true for a good many years. About 8% of the people living in Spain are immigrants, and that number has changed drastically in recent years and will change further.

As for discrimination, I think it is considerably less vigorous today than it was when employers could ask you whether you were married and how old you were and if you planned to have kids, when flat owners were free to refuse potential renters based on nationality, when bars and nightclubs kept racial undesirables out at the door, when the police could stop you and ask you for ID without cause, or when they could hold you incommunicado for 72 hours--oh, wait, all those things are still true in Spain!

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