The ‘diesel war’ waggery

Under pretence of a concern–clearly unsincere–for the somewhat harmful NOx emissions (nitric oxides), we’re now told in Spain that the European Union promotes a fight against fuel-oil that our Government will be seconding by — guess how? Yes: increasing the taxes and other hinders. A fight, though, whose main beneficiaries won’t be neither the atmosphere nor the citizens’ health, but the automobile industry and, of course, the Internal Revenue. Why? First, because fuel-oil being more polluting than petrol is anything except a definitely settled debate. Petrol egines emit more COx (responsible for greenhouse effect) and fuel-oil ones more NOx (potentially damaging health), but emissions from cars complying with the latest Euro 6 standard are quite similar for both oil derivatives. Hence, were health and environment the issue, Governments would rather take steps in order to renew the fleet and get rid of the dated, more NOx/COx emitting units out there, instead of overtaxing fuel-oil, a step equally impacing older and newer diesel cars, despite the latter being up to five times less polluting than the former and, ironically enough, also a lot less polluting than older petrol cars. Second, because by badgering with taxes and hindrances all diesel cars undiscriminatelly, then all their owners will be pushed to trade them for petrol or hybrid ones, which all throughout Europe means over one hundred million cars ready to be replaced, rather sooner than later, by less penalized vehicle types. This is a spectacular figure, too enticing for manufacturers to not place them under suspicion.
And funniest of all, it’s our present socialist government the most eager to apply a tax raise that–mind you–will impact more severely the less well-off, who–as statistics show–are the ones who bought diesel cars to economize. Wealthier people usually prefer petrol. Therefore our PSOE will be penalizing their own voters. All of which strongly suggests that Continue reading “The ‘diesel war’ waggery”

Paradox of Spanish health cards

It seems incredible that a Spanish citizen’s health card only takes full effects in his autonomous community, and that he can’t receive medical care in the rest of the country without having previously formalized an absurd paper: the relocation slip, whose real purpose is no other than to put up domestic borders and hamper our constitutional right to freedom of movement.
I meant: it would seem incredible, conditional. It would seem incredible if it weren’t because even the worst blunder is possible in this split, self-apostate Spain; in this mutant country of made-up cunning regionalisms. But since anything can happen here, such is the situation. Both the kinglets of the autonomous taifas and the central government, in the height of their political ineptitude and autonomistic blindness, have proved totally unable of agreeing on a coordinated and unlimber health system. On one hand, because those kinglets are only too eager to label as recentralization –and thus anatemize– any unifying policy a government might undertake, due to their semantic confusion –out of ignorance or demagogy– between centralize and unify. (Pity they didn’t study harder their own language.) Interestingly, by the way, they don’t mind to give away their personal data to Facebook so that Mark Zuckerberg can centralize the information in his servers, but they do mind the different autonomous comunities in Spain to coordinate and unify databases and medical services so as to remove setbacks on behalf of the citizens. And, on the other hand, because the central goverment is always afraid of being called terrible names like centralizer dictators, and therefore, not giving a dime for their people, they dodge the issue for not confronting the kinglets.
But the last straw in all this nonsense is Continue reading “Paradox of Spanish health cards”

Im-migrants

inmigrantesIf there’s something characterising the contemporary social speech, leadered by journalists and politicians of every kind (imbued, in turn, by the global pensée unique), that is, rather than its populism and lack of character, the sweetened language in which their ideas come wrapped. I’m thinking of that softened vocabulary, made of euphemisms and slynesses, that shuns at all costs calling things by their name, lest reality makes sore our mealymouthedness’ thin skin.
Among the uncountable, almost infinite examples out there, these days stands out, for its sudden spreading, the word ‘migrants’, with which we must call the immigrants from now on, as the factories have decided where the communication engineering is hatched. Migrants!. How harmless it sounds! The new term seems to wash off, like baptismal water, those aliens’ illegal condition; to endorse their pureness; to belie their resolve of settling down in Europe, and, in short, to divest the migrational process of any aspect detrimental or burdensome for our own wellfare. And, granted, our exquisite sensitivity — actually a guilt complex of which we can’t, or even don’t want to, heal — has swallowed the switch in one go without us batting an eyelid; and thus, in the record time of one day — just one day, reader! — the word immigrant has already been eradicated — not to say censored — from our vocabulary.
As usual, the semantic magic has worked; and this is because in our trained Europe, where true critical spirits are endangered species, we can’t realize how we are being sneaked the goals nor how, with every new of these goals, those language masters are shaping — not to say manipulating — our opinion and taking us one step further away from anything resembling free thinking.

Dylan's Nobel, a display of Jewish power

I swear I didn’t know.
And because I didn’t know, when I heard about Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize in literature I was as puzzled as the next, thinking what the heck?, what were those guys at the Swedish Academy thinking about?, is it a canard? But no; it was true, and they had come up with that implausible explanation — rather a justification: “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition“. Oh, please!
For a few minutes I wondered, like everybody around me, if there were really no better and worthier candidates out there who wrote real literature or poetry and beat Dylan by a landslide. But… ‘new poetic expressions’ or ‘Great American song tradition’? Give me  a break! Why should the literature jury at the Academy particularly care about the USAmerican song tradition? Whatever.

In any case, I got the hasty conclusion that the Swedish must have just been bootlicking the USA — like mostly everyone does.
Yet, this conclusion didn’t quite convince me; something didn’t tie in; since, if they were simply flattering ‘the great American nation’, there were other USAmerican authors, real writers, cultivated and praiseworthy artists who beat Dylan by a landslide, and whom to award the Nobel in literature, rather than to a — sure, remarkable, but just another singer songwriter among the crowd. Continue reading “Dylan's Nobel, a display of Jewish power”

Across the rainbow.

After talking in the previous chapter about the new social gods –wild capitalism and crazy consumption– I reach, coincidentally, the city of Toruń, which used to be dearly but not so much nowadays, as a paradigm of those giving up their soul and character to the devil in exchange for the jangling glitter of money.

Inconfundible vista de Torun sobre el río Vístula.
Unmistakeable view of Torun by the Visla river.

Before this metamorphosis, and precisely because of the authenticity of its beauty, Toruń used to be my favourite Polish town, where I was living for some time. It was founded (like almost all in northern present-day Poland) by the germanic knights of the Teutonic Order during the late middle ages, and it has been preserved almost unharmed despite the wars, with its gorgeous historical towers, churches and walls on unalterable red brick, getting the southern sun on their façades, reflected on the Visla waters, by whose shore the city lays. It was the craddle of the astronomer Copernicus, who gave form to his heliocentric dream and has now become the city symbol.
But I’m not going to describe now the virtues of Toruń nor its fast vulgarizing process along the past decade. Suffice to say that I’ve stayed a few days here for visiting some remaining friends of mine, and that a fine hot morning I take the bike again and, on a shirt, keep journeying along the muggy central Polish plain, now eastwards, towards my longed for Podlasie, a Polish region bordering Belarus where everything started and ended; I know what I mean, dreams and rainbows. A few years back I wrote these words about Podlasie, which some reader might even find poetic.
To get there from Toruń the finest route goes across Mazury (or the lake regio, as they call it here), driving slightly northward; but as I wanted to visit another friend at her summer cottage in Popowo Kościelne, near Warsaw, i.e. slightly south, I had no choice but to stand the boring roads of the central plain.

Listo para un paseo al atardecer. Popowo Kościelne.
Ready for a sunset walk. Popowo Kościelne.

So I make a stopover in Popowo, at my friend’s, and the next day I stay overnight in a small town called Ciechanowiec, where the kind owner of Hotel Nowodwory, concerned about the safety of Rosaura and lacking a garage, insists that I park the bike within the very hall of the hotel, despite I told him there was no need for it, being a small town. But. to jest Polska!, he cries: this is Poland! Meaning, there is no safe town in this country.

Rosaura, invitada de honor en el hotel Nowodwory.
Rosaura, honour guest at Nowodwory’s.

By the way, at Nowodwory’s I ordered tatar for dinner, one of my favourites in Polish cuisine. It’s no dish for the faint-hearted: chopped raw meat served with a raw yolk, onion and pickles. Ideal if accompanied by a shot of vodka.

Tatar wołowe.
Tatar wołowe.

Thus, from Toruń and always keeping away from the busy main routes, three days later Rosaura and me finally arrive to the capital of Podlasie: Białystok.
Despite my strong emotional bonds with this city, I admit there’s nothing special about it except perhaps for the noticeable amount of beautiful women; which is certainly no small merit. But, lacking an old town and having been developed mostly during the socialist period, despite calling itself the Versailles of Poland the most a tourist can do is paying a visit to the emblematic Branicki Palace (built by an ambitious hetman who chased his own rainbow and wanted to become king of Poland), exploring its splendid parks and walking up and down along the only pedestrian street in town, Lipowa, which holds most of the commerce and the atmosphere.
On Lipowa there is a plaza, and on this plaza there is a restaurant: Esperanto, thus called because in Bialystok the jewish Lezer Levi Zamenhof was born, who would invent the famous but unsuccessful universal language.

Palacio Branicki, en Bialystok.
Branicki Palace, in Bialystok.

By the way, saying that Zamenhof was Polish is not quite true; it’s like saying that Julius Caesar was Italian or Mozart was Austrian. Zamenhof was mostly Jewish (and we all know that these people don’t admit other nationality than their own), from Lithuanian ascendant, and when he came to life Bialystok was part of Russia. Actually, he was bilingual Yiddish-Russian, and only later he’d learn Polish, along with Hebrew and some other languages.
Living in this Babylon where clash and trouble among people who talked different languages arose every day, quite sensibly Zamenhof concluded that the main origin of hatred and prejudice among people comes from mutual misunderstanding, and that language is the highest wall between nations, a much more powerful and effective obstacle than any arbitrary border. Hece his interest in devising a common tongue. But such well-meant proyect was doomed to fail from the beginning, because this Lithuanian Jew forgot that people stick and even die for their prejudices and chauvinism rather than live in harmony if this means to give up preserving such important part of ourselves as our mother tongue is.
It’s certainly no small task to decide on “what is nobler in the mind to do” and how much should we endeavour for evening out language barriers when it’s about letting die what may form a part of ourselves; but whichever the answer to this question is, only resentful and unlimber minds would raise such barriers, or create them, where they didn’t exist before; only utterly narrow minded people would want to revive dying languages, reopen forgotten debates and stir up problems that were already disappearing by themselves. Such is the case of Galician, Basque and Catalan in Spain, or Gaelic in Ireland, or Lappish in Finland, and many other examples.

Sábanas bordadas en mi hotel de Bialystok. Algo que ya se ve muy poco.
Embroidered linen at Kamienica Hotel. Good old style.

But let’s leave languages aside and take a look at how children reach their own dreams by Café Esperanto.
On hot summer days, it’s customary in Poland (and a privilege of a country where there is no shortage of water) to hook a wide hose to a hydrant and place an iron plate very near the other end, both attached to the ground in the middle of the street, thus creating a water screen where people can play, cool down or whatever. And it’s quite a joy to stand by one of these “fountains” and watch how children play, soaked to the bone, trying over and over to cross the magic rainbow.

Niños cruzando el arco iris.
Childen playing under the iridescent water.

Maybe these images are but a metaphore about my own journey to nowhere. But, in any case, who among us has never dreamt with also reaching the rainbow?

A través del arco iris.
Through the rainbow.

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