There's really not that much news around here, a bunch of political posturing from the PSOE and PP and CiU and the PNV, because the general election will most likely be held in early March and it's campaign season already. Not quite as bad as the US, where the campaign is well in swing though the election won't be held for 13 more months, the primaries don't start until February, and Bush's term in office lasts until January 2009. Fearless prediction: The PP wins but without an absolute majority, mostly due to a low turnout by Socialists lukewarm about Zapatero.
Big stink about the PSOE's Historical Memory law. My perspective is that the government shouldn't, and can't, legislate what people can think and say about history, and most especially when that history is still very controversial. The law, of course, only refers to the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship, not to stuff like the conquest of the Americas and the Dutch war of independence and the Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims and the Rif war and Spain's 18th century submission to France and the Carlist wars and the Thirty Years' War and the insurrection of 1934.
So Zap and the Commies, along with most of the regional nationalists, have the votes to pass the bill in Congress. Esquerra Republicana is against it, I guess because it's not radical enough. CiU is still against it, though the law includes a section put in at their behest that "explicitly recognizes the victims in the Republican rear area executed by the popular tribunals, particularly for religious reasons." Note: Some 8000 persons were murdered in Catalonia for political/religious reasons by the Republic during the war; some 4000 were murdered by the Francoists afterwards.
I mostly approve of the section of the law that removes Francoist symbols from public buildings; there should be an exception made for historical plaques, especially those that commemorate murdered people, no matter who murdered them. I do not approve of the section that removes Francoist symbols from private buildings, since the owner should be able to paint an enormous mural of Enver Hoxha on his front door if he wants. I approve of the section that strikes down 14 laws of the Franco regime. I do not approve of the section that declares Franco regime court decisions to be invalid, since those should be studied case by case; I do approve, of course, of reviewing those decisions.
A lot of people agree with me about the law in general, though: it's a bad idea because it reopens old wounds of the past, which have been at least partly healed by thirty years of democracy.
La Vanguardia and TV3 are making an enormous big deal because Catalan-language literature is the "guest of honor" at this year's Frankfurt book fair. La Vangua published Quim Monzó's opening speech verbatim. TV3 has led off with it for what seems like the last week. Absolutely nobody else in the world gives a crap.
Meanwhile, the Generalitat is going to spend €24 million on a media campaign encouraging people to read books. I'm all in favor of reading books, but I figure that if you don't already do it, no amount of ads on TV is going to convince you to start. If they use that money on something like, for instance, buying. like, BOOKS for like, LIBRARIES, which totally suck in this country, then of course I'd be in favor. But that don't look to be what they is planning.
La Vangua runs a story today on Barcelona's sewers being stinky. They are. The old city stinks like hell of human excrement on bad days, and Poble Nou and the Forum are supposedly worse. It's notable enough that they kicked off their local news section with this one. A lot of people are also complaining about a strong ammonia smell, which some are comparing to cat piss.
Barcelona has 1500 kilometers of sewers, and the sanitary system and the storm system are one and the same. Half of Barcelona's sewers are too small in diameter for workmen to enter, and the poo piles up downtown, since Barcelona's built on the side of a hill and what comes out of our butts up here in Gracia naturally flows down there. They flush out the sewers three times a year, but obviously they need to do that a lot more often. Note: Barcelona now treats 100% of its sewage before it goes into the Mediterranean. This is good.
The Barça is whining about having to give up most of its players for international matches next weekend; club games are not scheduled, of course, but they're worried their guys might get hurt or get all tired. Sorry, that's the deal for everybody, that's what the FIFA, the international organization, says you have to do. Every club that owns an international player runs the same risk, and if you're a team that spends big money on international superstars, you should take that into account when making contract decisions.
So Spain plays Denmark and then somebody like Latvia. Big excitement. They ought to do international soccer competition in divisions; have Europe's top sixteen countries play for the Eurocup, the next sixteen play for the Junior Eurocup, and all the rest play for the Midget Eurocup. That way we don't get all these Spain-San Marino games, and we see a lot more of the likes of Spain-Italy, which is what everybody wants except people in San Marino and Liechtenstein.