Thursday, November 29, 2007

Other news from round here: Inflation over the last 12 months, November to November, is 4.1%; half a point of that is in the last month, with a 5% increase on packaged foods. Econ minister Solbes says inflation will continue to rise over the next several months, effectively devaluing the currency.

Meanwhile, in September 2007 the number of new mortgages taken out in Catalonia declined 26% over September 2006. I think it's safe to say that the bubble has burst. In Spain as a whole, the number of new mortgages declined 10% over that period.

They did an international education study called the PISA 2006 report in 57 countries. They tested scientific knowledge, reading comprehension, and mathematics, and Spain did lousy. The United States didn't do any better. Finland came out on top, with 563 points, followed by Hong Kong with 542 and Canada with 534. Germany was 10th with 516, France was 21st with 495, the US was 24th with 489, Spain was 26th with 488, and Italy was 30th with 475. Mexico got 410, and Brazil 390. Within Spain, Castile-Leon scored highest with 520, Catalonia got 491, and Andalusia was at the bottom with 474.

I know how to fix the educational system. First, blow up all the education departments at every university in the country, and mercilessly liquidate the professoriate while hurling all education textbooks into enormous bonfires. And dancing the Carmagnole. Then savagely purge the teaching staffs of every school of all teachers who don't score an IQ of 90, which is about half of them. K mart is hiring, people, better get down there. Then double teacher salaries and only hire new staff with real college degrees. Then, lower the working age to 14. Allow alleged students to drop out then, or go to vocational school. Get the ones who don't want to be there, which is half of them, out of the academic schools.

The system would improve enormously.

The Guardia Civil put on a big Internet kiddie-porn sting and arrested 70 pederasts all around Spain. I had no idea so many people were so pervy that they needed to exchange photos of child abuse. Or so stupid they didn't know they would eventually get caught. Among those arrested are a high-ranking police officer and a psychiatrist, both in Zaragoza.

The Zap government held a meeting with the heads of the private TV stations regarding the "Patricia's Diary" murder. They said they should not be blamed for society's problems. What a cop-out. I don't think private TV stations ought to be censored; I do think they should have enough of a sense of decency and responsibility to follow certain minimum standards. And I would suggest that the TV stations should get on the ball and self-regulate, or the government might have to get involved, and nobody wants that to happen.

Springsteen is going to play the Camp Nou. People camped out, and they sold 55,000 tickets on the first day of sales.

Real Madrid bungled it last night in Bremen and lost 3-2, forcing them to win their last first-round match against Lazio in order to qualify for the next round. Valencia was eliminated from the Champions' League with a draw against Schalke. Chelsea, Milan, Man U, Inter Milan, Sevilla, Arsenal, and Barça have already qualified for Round Two, and Celtic is very close.

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