Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not much news today, either. The biggest story this morning is that the goddamn bus drivers are on strike again, just like every Thursday. They sabotaged ten buses today, breaking windows and puncturing tires. At least this time three arrests were made; the strikers had been destroying city property and endangering the passengers with complete impunity until now. The only striker arrested so far had been one who punched a cop.

Archaeology news: They found proto-human remains (specifically, a jawbone including teeth) dating back 1.2 million years at the Atapuerca site in Burgos province; they believe the hominid jawbone belonged to a Homo antecessor, which scientists think was a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens. These are the oldest proto-human remains discovered in Europe.

Get this: TV3's story says in the very first paragraph: ..."the scientists who discovered (the remains) included Catalan researchers." Local pride is great, but I'm not too sure that the region where a few of the archaeologists were born is worthy of inclusion in the lead. By the way, they also repeatedly spelled Homo antecessor wrong, using a single S instead of the correct double letter.

Cultural news: Eduardo Mendoza, my favorite living Spanish (and Catalan) author, has a new book out called "El asombroso viaje de Pomponio Flato." Pomponio is a Roman who investigates murder charges against a fellow named Joseph (who has a very gifted child) in a town called Nazareth. I plan to check it out soon.

I have to admit that Barcelona's "Bicing" scheme, despite its ridiculous pseudo-English name and my repeated predictions of total failure, is working out pretty well. They've got 130,000 people signed up, and you see people riding the bikes all over downtown. The service is currently being extended to my neighborhood, Gracia, and I guess I'm going to sign up, though I have a bike of my own. I'm still wondering how many inexperienced riders are going to get killed in Barcelona's hellacious traffic.

If we don't get some rain around here pretty soon we're headed for water rationing, despite the multiple denials we had been hearing from the authorities for months. When total reservoir capacity goes under 20% (right now it's at 20.5%), we'll be rationed to 230 liters/person/day, half of what New Yorkers use. If it drops to 15%, they'll reduce water pressure. If it goes down to 10% there will be a complete water cutoff one day a week, and if it goes below 5% that means two days a week of complete cutoffs. Smells to me like we're all going to stink this summer; oh, well, plenty of folks around here only shower once a week anyway.

In February Spain's budget surplus fell by 27% compared to last year, since tax receipts are down due to slower growth than expected along with the rise in oil prices. Zap's balanced budgets are great, but current projections for the future are based on overly optimistic economic growth estimates of more than three percent. But growth may be as low as 2% in 2009. I bet if he tries to keep all those campaign promises he made, good-bye budget surplus.

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