Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fortunately, it's a rather dull week here in Barcelona (knocks on skull). TV3 is playing up the latest bit of Catalunacy: Seems that "Catalan culture" is the "guest of honor" at the Frankfurt book fair. The Institut Ramon Llull, whatever that is, has decided that only Catalan authors who write in Catalan will be represented. That means Catalan authors who write in Spanish will not be.

Catalan authors who write in Spanish, to be excluded: Eduardo Mendoza, Juan Marsé, Javier Cercas, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Catalan authors who have received the Katalanisch seal of approval: Pere Gimferrer, Baltasar Porcel, Quim Monzó, Joan Francesc Mira, and Carme Riera.

Gee, is there some difference in the quality and reputation of the authors in the first group and the second? I submit there is, that the first group is much better, and also sells a hell of a lot more books. Monzó is the only author in Group Two you might want to consider reading; the rest produce boring wank. Especially Porcel, the stupidest intellectual this side of Harold Pinter. Besides, Porcel is Mallorcan, not Catalan at all.

Since Mendoza is no less Catalan than Monzó, it seems to me that the writers in Spanish are being unfairly discriminated against, and if there is a dime in tax money going to this shindig then a big stink should be made. It also seems to me that, since all these books are to be sold to foreign publishers to translate into their own languages, it doesn't matter what the original language they're written in is. As far as I know every book by a Catalan author in Spanish is immediately translated to Catalan anyway.

And this is a subject that has been "bitterly debated for months." Why? Should such a small thing be such a big deal? The problem with identity politics is that nobody can see beyond his own little group.

International news: Hamas is shelling the crap out of Gaza. 36 dead and 50 wounded so far. No one is indignant. Of course, if it were the Americans or, God forbid, the Israelis... I feel very strange, knowing that Al Fatah are actually the least bad of the two warring forces. Hamas is even worse than Arafat's corrupt thugs.

With the Palestinians killing each other, naturally British intellectuals have decided to boycott Israel. I am therefore boycotting all British intellectuals who are boycotting Israel. Step One is not reading or listening to or watching any British media but the Telegraph. Goodbye Guardian, Independent, and BBC.

Here's Rafael Ramos on page 10 of La Vanguardia yesterday: "The British university professors' union...joined by groups of doctors, journalists, architects, and even the Church of England are enthused by the possibility that a boycott similar to that decreed against apartheid South Africa may push the government, the Israeli ruling classes, and the Jewish lobby in the United States toward the real search for a solution to the Palestinian conflict...The disproportionate influence that the Israeli community exercises in North America (sic) is already well-known."

Complete and total anti-Semitism. Boycotting Israel while not boycotting Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma, et cetera, shows that the boycotter has his priorities confused, and the reason is that he doesn't mind leftist murders but he hates Jews. Comparing democratic Israel to apartheid South Africa is a foul, stinking piece of moral equivalency. And saying the Jewish lobby in the United States is behind Israeli policy equals believing that the Jews are running America for their own purposes. As an American, I call bullshit on that. The Americans are running America, and calling America a Jewish sock-puppet is the rankest Protocols of the Elders conspiracy theory.

More Ramos gems: He accuses Alan Dershowitz of "threatening" the British anti-Semites by calling for a counter-boycott, calling it "an attempt at intimidation." Says Ramos, "Money rules...the pressure organized by the hardest-line sector of the Israeli lobby in the US will probably succeed in watering down the boycott."

Largest immigrant communities in Spain: Morocco 575,000; Rumania 525,000; Ecuador 420,000; UK 315,000; Colombia 260,000; Bolivia 200,000; Germany 165,000; Argentina 140,000; Itasly 135,000; Bulgaria 120,000; China 105,000; Peru 100,000. Regions with more than 12% immigrants: Madrid, La Rioja, Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia, Balearics, and Canaries. Makes sense; except La Rioja, that's where the jobs are. Northern and western Spain get the fewest immigrants.

La Vangua's foreign correspondent in Havana reports that food rationing is making poor Cubans fat since they get lots of greasy carbs and not much else. Those rations last ten days or two weeks. Then they have to scrape up the rest of their food through the black market, theft, money sent by relatives, and prostitution. He also says that a high-capacity submarine fiber-optic cable is being laid between Cuba and Venezuela, which will multiply Castro's communications capacity by 2500. Since Cuba has about eight phone lines, prohibits Internet, and has no use for such a cable, since one-tenth of the cable's capacity would be enough to monitor all Venezuelan phone calls, and since a Cuban-Venezuelan company got a contract from Chavez to produce new ID cards and passports for all Venezuelan citizens (including a chip with all personal information), he is a bit suspicious.

The cops found two GRAPO weapons caches, one outside Barcelona and the other in Murcia. Let's hope this really is the end of the road.

Finally, under pressure by CiU, the Catalan "historical memory law" will pay homage to all the victims of the Civil War, and "not just those of the Francoist repression." The law will refer to "the memory and the dignity of the victims of political violence in the Republican rear-guard and the persons who suffered persecution because of their religious option." Pretty good but not good enough. If the law refers specifically to Franco and the Nationals as a band of murderers, but doesn't do the same to the Republican government in general and the CNT, POUM, and Communists in particular, it's not balanced.

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