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 »

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De manadas, jaurías y la presunción de inocencia

Sorry, this entry is only available in Spanish.

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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.

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Towards the twilight

It was the night. I aimed for the tube, going back home after having met someone, somewhere (unfortunately I can’t remember who, nor where. It was an important part of the story that won’t ever be recovered).

In Madrid’s subway stations (supposing it was Madrid, which I’m not sure) there are no counter clerks anymore, but this particular entrance (this entrance of my dream) had two old-fashioned booths: they were at ground level, placed before the flight of stairs that lead to the platforms; upstairs, not down, like some stations in the Kiev underground. To one of the booths there was no queue, so I headed that one; but above its window there hung an absurd LED-lamp, switched off, like a motorcycle’s tail light, under which the clerck was frowning at me in an unfriendly way, as if to say: “if you come over here, I’ll switch on the red LEDs”. I thought, then, that if I disobeyed those eyes’ silent order, I’d end up waiting longer; same as it usually happens to me at the cashiers in the supermarkets, where I always head for the shortest queue, which turns out being the slowest. Therefore, I chose the other booth, which was busier, but without the suspicious LED-pilot and with a friendlier-looking clerk.

After queuing for a short while, I was sold a ticket that rather resembled a cinema’s than a subway’s: it was not the usual elongated piece of cardboard, but consisted of two detachable paper halves. Indeed, past the booths and before the turnstiles, there was a ticket collector like in the cinemas; more precisely, a “collectress”: a young woman, who, upon seeing me, smiled as if she knew me, and said: “hurry up, don’t you miss the train entering right now”.

Caught up as I was in the hush of the metropolis, swept along by the passengers, I barely had time to nod her thankyou, and, unfamiliar with those particular turnstiles, I didn’t even manage to validate my ticket, both whose halves, untorn in my hand, I stared at in puzzlement while being dragged up the stairs by the human stream.

But then, I did something quite unusual. It was unusual not in the usual way for dreams to deploy unusual events, Continue »

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Facebook’s unsatiable hunger for data

hungryfacebookSome of my friends tell me I’m too far fetched. Maybe they’re right. But when it comes to huge corporations, governments and the like, I’m afraid that no degree of suspiciousness is far fetched enough.

Because – you know – I was thinking: how do I disable this annoying automatic translation of my contacts’ posts in my Facebook newsfeed? I don’t want them to be translated. I’ll do it when I feel the need to.

So I went there – you know – to the Settings–>Language thing, and ooops! there was no straight setting for turning off translations altogether. Not at all. How come?, thinks I. Continue »

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Is Finnair violating EU legislation on tax refunds?

finnairlogocrossDespite its unjustified prestige (or did I just imagined it?), derived mainly–rather solely–from the country whose flagship airline they are–or were, Finnair actually belongs in the bottom grop of low-cost, cheap-it & cheat-it airlines that we find all over out there. It ain’t a tiny bit better than other much more discredited ones like Wizz, Ryan or Vueling, just to name a few. I’m now alluding to their illegal and abusive “50 € refund handling fee” applied to their customers whenever there is a refund to be made–if the ever make it.

In the first place, it’s not possible to contact Finnair’s Customer Service (CS) by e-mail. Their CS staff’s e-mail addresses are among the best kept secrets on the Internet. It took me a long while of web search to find this one: info@finnair.com, but it turns out it’s not working. Therefore, the customer who wants to claim a refund needs to either fill in and submit a web form (which will be answered from a no-reply address that doesn’t allow for any kind of follow-up discussion), or try to place place costly, ineffective and time-consuming phonecalls to Finnair’s CS phone numbers. Continue »

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Close encounters of the second kind

I liked him at first sight. He was a tall and somewhat ungraceful man of crude and unusual features–as if his face had been left unfinished by the sculptor–suggestive of a sound yet silent character. We had met at a restaurant; actually he was the cook; and though sparing in words, we had stroken up a slow yet heartfelt conversation out of don’t remember what. To judge for the short time we had the chance to talk, I gathered he was, above all, a decent human being, such a rare specimen.

He mustn’t have had much work at that time, because, once I finished my meal and paid the check, he told me to go out for a moment and continue our chat while he had a smoke. Right on the doorsteps to the street, for a brief moment I thought I’d lost sight of hime, as if he’d vanished into thin air; but no: a second later there he was, barely minding his cigarette, staring at the street’s damp grey cobblestones, wet by the recent rain, or looking at the unmistakable indigo of the northern sky above the neighbouring houses’ low roofs. Though we hardly spoke anything, I felt his as a close and pleasurable company; a company I could’ve enjoyed more had it not been for that noise, that fastidious and demanding noise that seemed to gush from within my head with growing strength…

It was the alarm clock. I opened my eyes to an unfamiliar hotel room, Continue »

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Omotenashi

Actually the whole episode could’ve not been simpler, and if I had to put it down to some element more or less outside its direct players, I’d probably point to the mismatch between my eating habits and those of the Japanese: there, restaurants are rather for dining, and most of them–except maybe in the cities–only open after around five or six in the evening; but even the ones serving lunch close down usually for a long break shortly after noon–which is when I’m normally waking up from bed… or sort of; therefore, by the time I start getting hungry–say 3-4 p.m.–I can’t find where to go for a meal. That’s why that day I had to overcome my qualms regarding small bistros and get over the embarrassment of feeling like an ignorant alien among the other customers–who would no doutb be watchful of every move of mine–in order to get inside that particular hovel–the only one I found open–called by its small, dusty and neglected showcase, where there yawned–since years ago, I’d bet–the so common in Japan plastic replicas of four or five different dishes, labelled with their respective prices.

Right after getting in, I was welcomed (welcomed?) by the typical stale fag-ends/cold-smoke smell, which is one of the things I find most unpleasant in regular life–very specially when having meals–except perhaps for the typical lit fag smoke, which was also present in that place. This aversion of mine to tobacco truly hinders my enjoyment of many (otherwise) pleasant moments that life could–and indeed does bring me; most of all in Japan, where the smoking rate among the (male) population is rather high and where, funny enough, though it’s forbidden on the streets (!), turns out to be legal inside bars and restaurants, except for the few ones (normally more sophisticated and expensive) whose managers have willfully banned smoking. Hence the qualms I mentioned. And that’s a real pity, because it’s precisely in the more local bistros where one can–and usually does come across the more genuine experiences and people, leave aside the more affordable prices; but then you have to count on the smoke, which is twofold a problem for me, because on top of inhaling the foul air, later on I’ll have to hand wash the smelly garments in the hotel room’s sink, or send them to laundry–whichever way a chore.

As I was saying, Continue »

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