Saturday, November 30, 2002

This was a good question from the Comments section, and I thought it deserved a good answer, so here it is.

Just a thought, but why didn't the victorious allies get rid of that cunt Franco at the end of the war?
Des | Email | 11.25.02 - 8:55 pm


During the war, Franco's personal sympathies were with the Axis. However, he managed to avoid openly committing himself to their side (in part he got lucky; he made major demands on Hitler in 1940 in exchange for joining the Axis, which Hitler refused. If Hitler had met those demands Franco would have entered the war and gone down for sure) and by '44 Churchill was openly flirting with Franco, knowing the war was won and not wanting to make it any longer by having to fight Spain, too. Using military force to overthrow Franco was never on the Allies' menu.

Anyway, on June 19, 1945, at the San Francisco Conference, the United Nations (which was the reincarnation of the Allied Powers) voted unanimously to exclude Franco's Spain. Then, at the Potsdam Conference later that summer, Stalin proposed that everyone break all relations with Spain, a worldwide total boycott, and that the Allies should aid the "democratic opposition" within Spain; Truman was in favor, though he feared another civil war, but Churchill wasn't. (This might be the last time the Americans and Soviets ever agreed on anything.)

Churchill pointed out, first, that Britain had strong trade links with Spain and the last thing anybody needed in Britain in 1945 was more people out of work due to a trade cutoff. He also said that "interference in the internal affairs of other states was contrary to the United Nations Charter." (Paul Preston, Franco, p.540; Chapter XXI in general). So Churchill made the same argument against getting rid of Franco that the anti-war people are making against getting rid of Saddam, who, to use your terminology, is an even bigger cunt than Franco was. Now, I'm not saying Franco wasn't a right cunt in many ways, but Saddam manages to out-cunt him, in my opinion. In the middle of Potsdam, Churchill lost a general election to Clement Attlee, who became Prime Minister; Attlee and Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin did not change British policy toward Spain. Anyway, the decision made at Potsdam was to definitely exclude Spain from the UN, but not to use economic and other diplomatic sanctions to try to force Franco out. Britain won out over the Soviets and Americans.

Bevin washed Britain's hands when he said to the Commons on 20 August 1945, "The question of the regime in Spain is one for the Spanish people to decide." Charles de Gaulle, president of the French Council of Ministers, "sent a secret message to Franco to the effect that he would resist left-wing pressure and would maintain diplomatic relations with him" sometime in summer 1945; French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault was also against action against Franco.

In January 1946, Dean Acheson, American Undersecretary of State, "suggested a joint declaration from France, the United States, and Britain that for Spain to be accepted into the international community, the Spanish people would have to remove Franco and set up a caretaker government to organize elections." But by then Washington was coming around to London's position, and Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador in Washington, pointed out the danger of a Communist takeover in Spain to Acheson. "American pressure diminished...British policy in fact aimed at restraining the French and the Americans from taking precipitate action against Franco." (p.552)

On 26 February, a month after De Gaulle's resignation, the French government closed the frontier with Spain and broke off economic relations after Franco executed ten left-wing guerrillas. France wanted to bring the question of a total economic blockade of Spain to the UN Security Council, but both London and Washington did not want to give the Soviets a chance to influence anything. On 4 March Paris, Washington, and London released the Tripartite Declaration, in which they called Franco a right cunt but said "There is no intention of interfering in the internal afairs of Spain." Franco privately accused Truman of being a Mason, which, of all things, he really was. It was no secret; it's in his autobiography.

Then on 5 March Churchill made the "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri, and it was all over.

Friday, November 29, 2002

Good news. I went to see my shrink today with the most recent blood analysis they did on me in hand. There's no problem with the cocktail of pills I'm taking. I have to go on a healthy diet, which I don't mind doing; I've been surviving on a pizza-and-tangerine based diet and it's about time that I started eating lentils and garbanzos and rice and salads and vegetables and fruits and no eggs or dairy products or stuff like that. I actually like healthy food, I'm just too lazy and incompetent to make it every day. That's going to have to change. I need to start getting more exercise, too. I take a twenty-minute walk every morning, but I'm going to get my bike fixed so I can ride it at least on the weekends. That ought to be enough exercise, a 20-minute walk every day and two or three one-hour bike rides a week. I'm allowed to drink beer in moderation (no more wine; bummer) and, get this, I don't have to quit smoking. Cigarettes or cannabis. I'm under doctor's orders NOT to quit smoking because it would cause me too much stress. I love Spain. No wonder they live longer on average than us Americans. Your doctor tells you to eat right, exercise, relax, and avoid stress. And you can smoke whatever you want.
Hey, people, you know, the Comments section down there under each post is for you to make comments. I especially like questions. If I don't know the answer I'll make something up. Also, should you want to e-mail me, the address is

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Check out Atlético Rules, who has a nice post on celebrating Thanksgiving in Spain. I don't celebrate it, because I don't like holidays. Most Americans over here do something, though. I remember a particularly eventful Thanksgiving a few years ago at our friend Jane's place. Cinderella Bloggerfeller has pulled off a hilarious spoof of the "delinking" issue that is suddenly all over Blogistan. He's also been adding to the Axis of Porcel, which should have a rapidly expanding readership after this inspired publicity stunt. And Sasha Castel and Andrew Ian Dodge have something to say, so y'all ought to go on over there and check it out. Merde in France, which you ought to be reading--it's even good French practice, since it's bilingual--links to Dissident Frogman and Sofia Sideshow, the first belonging to a rather non-traditional Frenchman and the second to an American who is apparently a movie producer. The Jedman has something growing in his belly button.
Here's a site, called the Expatriate Café, which is aimed at people living or planning to live in Spain. It doesn't appear to have a blogmeister, but is open to all posters, and some people post there a lot. I'm an Old Barcelona Hand so I already know most of this stuff, but it might be of interest to some of you. The site is rather full of youthful exuberance, and I advise anyone influenced to do something based on what he read there to check with me first. There are, unfortunately, people looking to exploit new arrivals, and I noticed a couple of them as posters to this site. (Check out Bob, who'll have $100,000 in five years because of a lawsuit, who is looking for investors in a disco-bar. I wonder if the laws regarding interstate fraud would allow the Attorney General to bust Bob, as his fraudulent ass is hanging out in all fifty states through the Net.) The great majority of the posts look legit, but you should beware of anyone who asks you for a significant amount of money no matter under what guise. I'm exaggerating a little; if you see somebody selling, say, hams over the Net, and you decide you want to buy one, that's perfectly reasonable, but "business opportunities" are clearly something very different, and anything that sounds too good to be true is.
Christopher Hitchens, a writer whom I normally like despite disagreeing with him 90% of the time, has had a falling-out with his friends on the Left over the War against Terrorism. Hitch is for it and almost all his other pals are against it. The situation has become so tragic that Hitch has had to leave the American left-wing rag The Nation; this means there is now no longer any possible reason I might have to read The Nation. He's got two posts up in Slate, one on anti-Americanism and another that I don't agree with but will link to out of fairness on Henry Kissinger; it wouldn't be fair to claim Hitch as a complete convert to the Right. Not yet. I bet he's well on the way, though, just as I figure that Orwell, his hero, if he'd lived, would have come over to the Right on economic and international issues. Orwell was too anti-totalitarian to have sided with the Russians in the Cold War, as we know from his list for the British government and Nineteen Eighty-Four. As for economics, a lot of intelligent Brits of Orwell's age were some kind of radical Socialist. They'd grown up and lived their young adulthood in Britain between 1914 and 1945, an especially rough span of years to be British. No wonder they were pissed off at the system in general. Everyone was poor, nothing worked, and it always seemed like another war was right around the corner. The most intelligent of that lot figured out by about 1956 that capitalism could be combined with a lot of social-democratic rhetoric and some social-democratic action (though most didn't come all the way over to capitalism), and that Soviet Russia was definitely an evil to be resisted. If they didn't figure that out after Hungary in 1956, they weren't smart enough to ever figure it out. Orwell would have been one of those who was smart enough to figure it out. By '56 he'd have become a hawkish supporter of Labour.
In soccer news, last night Barcelona beat Bayer Leverkusen away, 1-2. Van Gaal started a rough, defensive team with only one forward, Kluivert, in what looked like a slightly confused 4-5-1. (Four defensemen, five midfielders, one forward.)Near the end of the first half Bayer scored on a header off a corner kick. At halftime Van Gaal pulled out Mendieta, who needs a benching, and defensive midfielder Gabri, and put in Riquelme and Saviola, changing to a 4-3-3 with Riquelme playing behind Saviola and Kluivert and feeding them passes. Saviola almost immediately stole the ball and ran a give-and-go with Riquelme; Savi blasted the ball into the goal from close range. One-one. Then they fouled Kluivert in the area and Riquelme blew the penalty kick. Barça kept attacking and they put in Overmars for Motta, making the alignment even more offensive, really a 4-2-4. This was very exciting football, with two chances for Savi, one for Riquelme, and a header by Kluivert off a corner, with Bayer defending all-out but one step behind the Barça players. Then, with only a couple of minutes left, Riquelme fed Kluivert in the area, who unselfishly fed Overmars, who crossed up the goalie and drove the ball to the far post. One-two. Barça has won its last seven European games, in contrast with their extrememly mediocre performance in the Spanish League.

In Barça's Group A, it's Inter Milan and Barça with three points each and Bayer and Newcastle zero. In Group B, Valencia tied Ajax last night, 1-1; the standings are Arsenal 3, Ajax and Valencia 1, AS Roma 0. Group C: Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan 3, Real Madrid and Lokomotiv Moscow 0. Group D: Manchester U 3, Deportivo and Juventus 1, Basel 0.

The fallout from the fans throwing crap on the field last Saturday in FC Barcelona's Camp Nou is hitting the fan. Some joker threw a (roasted) piglet's head at Madrid player Luis Figo. Other possibly dangerous stuff, like mobile phones and a whiskey bottle, was also thrown. You need to remember, as the National Geographic survey proved, not all Europeans know too much about geography. The most that most people in Europe know about Barcelona is the soccer team, which, until now, was highly respected in the rest of Europe. (OK, people remember the Olympics, too. Gaudí is known among those who can read.) This episode has not made either the team or the city look too good. The German papers headlined, "Achtung! The pig throwers are coming!" over their stories about Barça's visit to Leverkusen. That is not precisely the image the city fathers wish to promote. Get this, one of the Barça executives commented regarding the piglet's head, "It's a setup by the Madrid papers. Here in Catalonia we don't eat roast piglet." (It wasn't a setup. It really happened; the TV footage shows it.) Van Gaal also had a good quote when some German reporter asked him how his team was reacting to the vilification of everything regarding the Barça by the German press: "I don't think my players read the Bild am Sonntag."
In war news, the Vanguardia is reporting that the American plans for Iraq include a small, fast invasion aimed at paralyzing the Iraqi state's communication channels and energy supplies. There are some 30,000 soldiers now in position to be used and there are 45,000 more who can be deployed in the area within a few days. There are more than 1000 tanks and thousands of tons of supplies at American facilities in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Turkey, and Diego Garcia, ready to be used. Hundreds of land-based planes are stationed in the area, and there are two carrier groups on the scene, the Abraham Lincoln and the George Washington. Three more are on the way: the Constellation, Kitty Hawk, and Harry Truman. Each carrier group can attack 700 targets a day, four times as many as in Gulf War I. CIA operatives have supposedly already infiltrated northern Iraq, and, we wouldn't believe this if they hadn't cited Time magazine, Israeli units have already swept Iraq's western desert looking for Scud launch bases. Meanwhile, should Iraq fire at any British or American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones, as they have the bad habit of doing, there will be retaliation--not just the destruction of antiaircraft batteries and radar installations, but also of command and communications centers and the Iraqi fiber-optic network.

This is overwhelming force. Saddam's government and army will fold up like a house of cards when it is turned loose. We just hope they get him before he can gas or infect our guys, which he will undoubtedly do if he gets the chance, since he knows the only outcome of this is his head on the end of a pike no matter whether he uses bio-chem weapons, which he certainly possesses, or not. There should be no retaliation by Allied forces with bio-chem or nuclear weapons. We'll win anyway, even without them, and it would be silly as well as inhumane to use that stuff on troops who are only a day or two away from surrendering anyway, not to mention any unfortunate civilians in the area. And how much do you want to bet they're planning some sort of Skorzeny-rescuing-Mussolini caper, ready to jump in there and grab Saddam by surprise? If they could somehow pull that off it would save a lot of lives.
Said Susan Sontag in Madrid, as quoted in yesterday's Vanguardia: "I've always been a little ashamed to be American." (I've always been a little ashamed that you're American, too. You know, if you're ashamed of it, you could easily emigrate to a country you could feel proud of. I hear there are opportunities for sugar-cane choppers in Cuba.) "This is something that comes from long before 9-11 and Bush." (Let me get this straight. 9-11 makes you embarrassed to be American?) "It's a good thing to feel uncomfortable." (Perhaps this is why Ms. Sontag enjoys autoflagellation so much.) "Now there's no political debate there." (Gee, I looked at today's Washington Post and Fox News and it looked to me like there was plenty of political debate.) "We have only one party there, the Republicans, because the Democratic opposition doesn't exist." (Doesn't exist? What party do the Baghdad Three, Maxine Waters, and Terry McAuliffe belong to, not to mention Billy "White Stain" Clinton and Al Gore? And whose fault is it that they keep losing elections? America is a democratic republic, remember, and if the Dems are out of power, it's because the people put them there.) "They're building a new, horrible imperialism." (You call it what you want, Susie. I think "national security" is a better term, myself.) "A lot of people are against this, but they have no voice or political representation." (Remember, Susie, we've had a couple of elections in the last two years, and a handful of smart people like you torpedoed Al Gore in 2000 because he wasn't quite nutty enough for you. You had to go bolt the party and vote for Nader. Now, I'm thrilled that you did, because you took enough of the Democrat vote to put Bush in. It was the Left, using its voice and political representation, that got Bush elected. As for your European pals, the French Left is so dumb, even dumber than the American Left, that they went out and did the same thing a couple of years later by wasting their votes on assorted Trotskyites and got their man Jospin massacred in the first round.) "Since 9-11 I've received death threats, in writing and by telephone. But as long as they don't shoot me, it doesn't bother me." (Susie, you're so brave and heroic. Look, you are so insignificant in the global scheme of things that it's not worth anybody's while to take the necessary risks involved to kill you. If you are assassinated, I will personally eat The Road to Serfdom at high noon in the Plaza Sant Jaume with all-i-oli and salsa brava.)
Here in Spain we not only have the ETA, we've also got a minor-league terrorist gang called the GRAPO. They're not nationalists like the ETA, though ETA also proclaims itself to be Marxist; they're extreme leftists, like the Baader-Meinhoffs or the Red Brigades. The last really bad thing they did was a couple of years ago when they robbed an armored car in Galicia and a couple of security guards, I believe, were killed in the shootout. Their most famous recent crime was the kidnapping of prominent Zaragoza businessman Publio Cordón a few years back; the GRAPO claims that they got the ransom money and turned Cordón loose. They've been quite insistent about it over the years, but Cordón has never turned up. I'm sure they didn't kill him; killing a kidnap victim after you've received the ransom money is very bad business. The most popular theory is that Cordón died on them in captivity of a heart attack or something along those lines. Another hypothesis is that Cordón took the opportunity to disappear after he was set free and is now living it up in Rio or Bangkok.

Anyway, the GRAPO is just about finished and a good solid nail was driven into its coffin by the Guardia Civil, who busted seven of its leaders on Tuesday in Madrid. Among the arrested were two of the three members of the command troika and several smaller fish in the propaganda, finance, and communications organizations. Good. Lock 'em up and throw away the key. One of the arrestees, María Carmen López Anguita, was released from prison in 1999. She had been sentenced to 385 years in 1979 for the murder of eight people in a Madrid coffee shop. Two of the other arrestees have also done serious time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Here's a good piece from National Review on what college international relations textbooks are teaching about terrorism these days. If you want to read a real right-wing American hawk, check out this article by Victor Davis Hanson. And here's Jonah Goldberg's Thanksgiving column, which he had the gall to reprint from last year.
For some insane bullshit regarding the ETA check this out. Check out the rest of the site, too. These people are nuts. I hope they're too insignificant to be dangerous.
The Vanguardia has a table on the sources of petroleum pollution in the oceans. In thousands of tons of petroleum and its derivatives spilled into the oceans per year, these are the six biggest sources:

Sewers (urban and industrial waste): 1,343.
Ship maintenance (cleaning, etc.): 466.
Atmospheric emissions (carried by rain to the sea): 340.
Natural sources (undersea geological releases): 229.
Tanker accidents: 126.
Oil drilling platforms (maintenance and accidental spills): 51.

What the chart shows is that tanker spills have a disastrous effect but only in small, specific places. The best thing that can be done to protect the environment in general from petroleum pollution is to build water treatment plants and hazardous waste disposal sites and to stop dumping the stuff straight from the sewers into the ocean. This kind of pollution is concentrated in poor countries, since the rich ones have already built the necessary facilities. Barcelona has barely started on its water treatment plants; they've built a small one on the Llobregat south of town, but they have to build another to take care of all the crap from the Barcelona suburbs out there. As for the Besós north of town, they're building a big plant right now which will go into operation within a couple of years. But, right now, of the crap that Catalonia dumps into the Mediterranean, only about a fourth of it is treated; this hasn't been permitted in America since the Seventies. The other thing that really needs to be done is some enforcement of the international maritime standards on when and where you can clean the bilge out of your ship. Again, this kind of pollution tends to be concentrated in the Third World--the Equatorial Guinea harbor police, say, probably aren't nearly as efficient, or existent, as those in Copenhagen. After that, doing things to reduce emissions into the atmosphere, like mandating unleaded gas and getting cars with primitive, i.e. pre-Nineties in America, emissions systems off the road is important not only for air quality but for water quality, too.

If I were to put my anti-pollution money where my mouth is, the first thing I'd do is get rid of my 1988 Renault and buy a new car with a catalytic converter. (The Spanish government runs a successful plan every few years to get old hunks of junk off the road, giving you a big tax break if you buy a new car and junk one that is more than, say, ten years old. They also have a strict vehicle-inspection program, and crappy old cars just don't pass it. We applaud both measures.) The second thing I'd do is demand that my taxes be raised in order to build bigger, better water treatment plants so that my poo will no longer just float on out to the Mediterranean. Well, I'm all for spending lots of my tax money on water treatment plants. That should be a major governmental priority. I'm just against spending it on some of the other dumb stuff they currently spend it on--not so much the conservative central government, which has balanced its budget three years in a row, but the Catalanist regional and Socialist municipal governments, neither of whom even bother to pretend not to be lavishly spending our money on toys.

Note on American sports in Spain: Basketball is very popular. The Spanish league is one of the two or three best in Europe, and many former NBA players play over here. The Catalans are very proud of their homeboy Pau Gasol, who plays for Memphis in the NBA. The Spaniards just don't get the concept of baseball, perhaps justifiably. As for American football, the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe are not precisely a hot ticket. A common Spanish complaint is that it's exciting when there's a nice pass or a good tackle or a long runback, but the game is just too slow and has too many interruptions.

What I'd do to get rid of all the damn interruptions is to set up a very simple rule: Allow no substitutions during a series of downs and allow only thirty seconds between plays. Substitutions during a series could only be made if a player was injured, and that player couldn't return to the game. This would reduce the time between plays and would force the team to always have a player who could kick on the field, since you wouldn't be allowed to bring in specialist kickers and punters. The all-around player would have a big advantage over the specialist; you'd want decathletes instead of sprinters and weightlifters. You wouldn't see nickel backs or designated pass-rushers or third-down backs or deep snappers or quarterbacks who can't do anything but throw. Teams would go for it more often on fourth down and a 40-yarder would become a long field goal again. If you proceeded to get rid of TV timeouts, allow the same 30 seconds for a change of possession as for any other break between plays, get rid of the two-minute warning, get rid of video replays, and cut rosters to 40 players to force everyone on the team to be able to play both ways and in several positions, that should bring the game down to a little over two hours and make it a lot more exciting, much more like the glory days of the late fifties and early sixties that old-time fans remember as the best years of the NFL. As for TV commercials, there would be a lot fewer, sure; that would make them more valuable so the networks could charge more for each one--and if the game became even more popular because it was faster and more exciting, the ad spaces would cost advertisers that much more. Will they do this? Naah.

Spanish Cannabis Slang:

hashish: chocolate, costo, grifa.
marijuana: maría, hierba.
a joint: un porro, un canuto, un petardo.
a hit: una calada.
stoned: fumado, colocado.
a stoner: un fumeta.
to light (a cigarette or a joint): petar.
to roll (a joint): liar.

La Ley del Fumeta:
El que lo lia lo peta.

The Smoker's Law:
The guy who rolls it lights it.
I felt like getting out of the house last night so I went down to Miguel's bar downtown. It's sort of like a speakeasy--it doesn't have a sign, you have to push a button outside that lights up a bulb inside, so they know to let you in. It's all stone inside, what used to be the stable and the basement storage rooms of a large fifteenth-century house. The effect is kind of like that of an opium den with heavy metal on the stereo. It's not like an exclusive place or anything; I've never seen anyone turned away, but you do have to know where it is. Miguel sells, uh, herbacious and other organic substances. He has a code that I think is more of a joke than anything else; you ask for, say, a twenty-five euro ticket to the Al Green concert. This will get you six or seven grams, which is a pretty good deal. You can also ask for tickets to James Brown or Barry White. I don't do Barry White. It's a lot easier to get James Brown around here, since we're so close to Morocco. The Rif is the world's number one producer of hashish, and smoking hash is really very traditional among those social classes along the margin of respectability in Spain. People used to pick up the habit doing military service in old Spanish Morocco, the Spanish Sahara, Ceuta, and Melilla. Al Green is so much more bulky than James Brown that they don't ship Al in from Morocco--it's all locally-grown. When you can find Al, which isn't always, it's available at a better price-per-puff than James since it only passes through one or two hands between the grower and the seller. But you can always find James at reasonable prices. The supply is guaranteed.

Miguel's place is interesting because not only is it an emporium for organic substances, but it's a regular bar that people come to for regular bar reasons. There wasn't much business last night, so I sat down with Miguel, this guy Lluís, and this Dominican guy named Mike who lived in New York for a few years. He likes me because he can speak English with me--he's justifiably proud of his good English, and I understand his English better than his Spanish anyway because his Dominican accent is so thick. Dominicans drop word-final S, among other consonants, and they don't distinguish between the Y and LL; both sound like an English ZH. Mike pronounces the name Lluís "zhoo-EE", while a Catalan would say something like "lyoo-EES". We engaged in mild substance abuse and watched the soccer on TV--Milan beat Real Madrid in Champions' League play, 1-0, and Deportivo tied Juventus 2-2. Both games were very good, and in deference to this blog's 75% American readership, I shall speak of soccer no more today, except for this TV note: All Champions' League games on the same day are played simultaneously, so they show one game live on the main Televisión Española channel, TV1, and don't tell you anything about the other one. Then, when the live game is over, you switch over to TV2 and they show the other game as if it were live, and since you don't know the final score, it might as well be. This is why, when Miguel let somebody into the bar during the second game, the first thing he said was "SSSHHHHTTTT!" just in case the guy was going to spill the beans. It's a great, compressed, three-and-a-half hour sports extravaganza, the best teams with the finest players in the biggest stadiums with the loudest fans, and you can see two whole games in the time it takes you to watch just one NFL game.
Here's the first paragraph of a piece by Miguel Ángel Aguilar from today's Vanguardia. Aguilar is not an idiotarian, though I've never found him too interesting in general. Anyway, check out what he's got to say.

Some American journalists are running around Europe digging into the environmental level of anti-Americanism. This search in Spain is completely useless. Here anti-American feeling died fifteen years ago. During decades it fed on two sources. The first, the defeat of 1898 in a war touched off by the falsehood of (American accusations of Spanish guilt in the sinking of) the Maine, which was perpetrated through the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst, a true man-before-his-time. Since then, all wars have been preceded by the necessary media preparation, destined to promote warlike ardor, spread hate, and foster antagonism. The second, the support provided by the United States to General Franco. The Americans say because of the necessities of the Cold War. But there is a contrast: in so many European countries the Americans were liberators from the Nazi-Fascist yoke, while here they appeared as a support for a dictatorship that without them and the agreement of the Holy See would have lacked the necessary oxygen to survive.

Aguilar's point about the Spanish-American War is dead on. That was, realistically, a naked American power grab; the only possible excuses are the fact that other countries at the time were even more rapacious in their search for colonies and influence and by the fact that the Americans treated their colonized peoples better than anyone except the British. Aguilar, I think, is mistaken about the Americans and Franco. Franco had been in power by 1953 for fourteen years and he had no serious opposition within Spain. The Americans had tried being unfriendly to Franco between 1945 and 1953--Truman hated Franco and America refused to have anything to do with the Spanish government during that time. For example, America vetoed Spain's application to join the UN in 1946. Spain was not admitted to the original Marshall Plan. But a civil war was raging in Greece between the Communists and the Western-backed anti-Communists, and the Russians had just finished their own power grab in Eastern Europe, culminating in the 1948 coup in democratic Czechoslovakia and the Berlin Airlift. Then the Russians tested an atomic bomb and Franco began looking not so awful. When Eisenhower became President in 1953, replacing Truman, the last obstacle to a Hispano-American rapprochement was gone; Churchill had become British Prime Minister again the year before and he, too, was in favor of an aperture to Franco. The deal was made that same year: America would get bases in Spain and Spain would get American economic aid.

The international acceptance of Spain coincided, probably not randomly, with the softening of the Franco regime. In 1950 Spain was desperately poor, internationally isolated, brutally governed, and dependent upon Argentina's Perón for food shipments. In 1960 things were clearly looking up. Spain was more prosperous than before, in touch with the modern world, and Spaniards could pretty much do what they wanted except express themselves politically in public. Not a great situation, but better than before, and by 1970 democracy was clearly on the horizon. Anyway, Franco would not have been overthrown by the Spaniards themselves, and American aid didn't change that; Franco had already been in power for fourteen years in 1953 with no serious attempts at removing him, and the choices for America were 1) hold your nose and use Franco as an ally against the Russians, or 2) maintain Franco as an enemy and hold the moral high ground. There are good arguments for both possible choices, but everybody needs to accept that choice 3) get rid of Franco was not on the menu, unless the Spaniards did it themselves. And that they didn't do. Many Spaniards, like Aguilar, blame America for Franco's long dictatorship; they might do better to look in the mirror.

Paul Hollander says that there are four causes of European anti-Americanism: historical grievances, Marxism, fear of the cultural threat, and nationalism. Aguilar is correct when he says that Spain's historical grievances against America are mostly forgotten in Spain today. That's largely true. If they're not completely forgotten, they're no longer deeply felt. As far as historical grievances go, the Spaniard-on-the-street is more likely to be anti-British (over Gibraltar) than anti-American. He is, however, obviously wrong on the other three counts, as our recent series of translations and dissections should demonstrate.

The French cops have done it again. They made eleven arrests in the Paris suburbs over the weekend of people affiliated with Al Qaeda, including Slimane Jalfoui, an Algerian who is a main connection between various European Al Qaeda cells. These guys are suspected of being behind a planned attack on the London underground which was foiled and also the Frankfurt cell's plot to blow up Strasbourg Cathedral at Christmas 2000. We do a lot of France-bashing, but we've always paid our dues when it comes to the French police and security services. They've been doing good work rounding up both Al Qaeda and ETA terrorists.
I've been listening to this "Internet radio" station out of East Tennessee that bills itself as playing "Americana and bluegrass". They play good stuff, real down-home music, not slicked-up country-pop. In case any non-Americans want to hear real hillbilly music, check these guys out. And you'll love the disk-jockeys' accents, some of which you don't hear all that much anymore now that American culture has become so homogenized.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

For those of you interested in the Gibraltar controversy, here's the appropriate section of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, Article 10, which deals with the cession of Gibraltar to the British Crown. Note in particular the first paragraph, which puts the lie to the canard that by treaty no civilians were to live in Gibraltar, and in which it is specified that Gibraltar is to be ceded to Britain forever. Also note the clause on Jews and Moors, who according to the treaty are not to be permitted to live in Gibraltar. During the Franco years Spain demanded the return of Gibraltar on the ground that the British had broken this clause. They no longer use this particular argument, at least not publicly. The last paragraph does specify that Spain is to have the first right of refusal if Gibraltar is to be sold or granted to another nation, but it doesn't say anything that conflicts with the current state of affairs, though it might be used to impugn the possible independence of Gibraltar.
National Geographic has this survey on geographical knowledge that you might want to take. You really ought to get a perfect score if you're smart enough to read this blog, or any blog. We won't beat you too severely if you miss a couple. The fun part is that the survey was given to 300 18-24 year-olds in each of these countries, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and Sweden, and to 500 Americans in that age group, and you can compare your scores to theirs.

The disgraceful thing is not so much the Americans' lousy performance, which is pretty awful, worse than anyone except Mexico. Canada and Britain didn't do any better than America. It's everyone's lousy performance. People around the world are geographically illiterate. That doesn't mean you guys, it means the Great Unwashed out there.

We suppose the story is this. Most people retain information that is useful to them and forget information of marginal or zero utility. If you don't travel and have a typical office job, if you don't read much and watch a good bit of TV, if you don't keep up with a newspaper or use the Net to get the news, you don't need to know much geography except for that of your immediate area, no matter where you live. So you forget it and are never reminded of it again in your life until you see it on a goofy test like this one. It's like the necessity of knowing a foreign language; if you stay in your country, don't need a foreign language for your job, and don't read much, you'll never need to know a foreign language in your life, so you forget what little you learned in school. And I sure don't remember the quadratic theorem, not having used it since Math 101 in fall semester 1984, in which I got a B. About the most I can do mathematically is simple algebra, because that's the maximum I need to know--that and enough about statistics to have some idea of whether they're legit or not.

It's still pretty disgraceful that significant percentages of people got any of these geography questions wrong. Typical slackers.

Monday, November 25, 2002

I love the Crime Library. Check out this story about this idiot, getting paid eight hundred bucks a trip in order to smuggle in leather goods from Pakistan. How smart is that?
The Jedman shares his views on personal space, current fashion, and personal hygiene.
James Taranto let his readers write his column today, on the theme of reparations for slavery, and the results are hilarious. Check it out.
A lot of the knowledge we take for granted among our readers, like basic Spanish geography or who the various political parties are, is really not particularly interesting to casual readers. Every now and then, though, we think we need to update basic information for the benefit of new readers. The following is a list of the 17 Spanish "autonomous communities", which I usually just call regions, with their approximate locations, their populations, their political tendencies, their economic levels on a 1-10 scale, with 1 as Morocco and 10 as, say, Southeast England or Holland or Western Germany, and anything else of interest. These are the three nationwide political parties: the PP is the conservative, centralist governing party in all of Spain, the People's Party, the PSOE are the Socialists, now "socialistas light" , and IU are the Communists, the United Left. In Catalonia we have conservative Catalanist CiU, Convergence and Union, and lefty Catalanist ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia). They have the conservative but weird Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the pro-ETA Batasuna in the Basque Country, the leftist nationalist BNG (Galician National Bloc) in Galicia, and the conservative and not-too-bolshily-nationalistic Canary Coalition (CC) in the Canaries.

Northwest Spain:

Galicia. Pop. 2.7 million. Economy: 6. Politics: PP, PSOE, BNG (in order). Most speak Galician.

Asturias. Pop. 1.1m. Econ: 6. Politics: PSOE, PP. Strong regional identity.

Cantabria. Pop. 0.5m. Econ: 7. Politics: PP, PSOE.

Basque Country. Pop. 2.1m. Econ: 7. Politics: PNV, PSOE, PP, Batasuna. Some speak Basque.

Navarra. Pop. 0.6m. Econ: 8. Politics: PP, PSOE. A few speak Basque.

La Rioja. Pop 0.3 m. Econ: 8. Politics: PP, PSOE.

Aragon. Pop. 1.2m. Econ: 8. Politics: PP, PSOE. Some regional identity.


Catalonia. Pop. 6.3m. Econ: 9. Politics: CiU, PSOE, PP, ERC. Most speak Catalan.

Valencia. Pop. 4.2m. Econ: 8. Politics: PP, PSOE. Some speak valenciano (Catalan).

Balearic Islands. Pop. 0.8m. Econ: 9. Politics: PP, PSOE. Some speak Catalan variants.

Murcia. Pop. 1.2m. Econ: 7. Politics: PP, PSOE.

Central and South:

Castile and Leon. Pop: 2.5m. Econ: 8. Politics: PP, PSOE.

Madrid. Pop. 5.4m. Econ: 9. Politics: PP, PSOE, IU.

Castile-La Mancha. Pop. 1.8m. Econ: 7. Politics: PSOE, PP.

Extremadura. Pop. 1.1m. Econ: 6. Politics: PSOE, PP.

Andalusia. Pop. 7.4m. Econ: 6-7. Politics: PSOE, PP, IU. Strong regional identity.

Canary Islands. Pop. 1.7m. Econ: 7. Politics: PSOE, PP, CC. Somewhat distant from Peninsula.

Ceuta and Melilla. Pop. 0.15m. Econ: 5. Politics: Unpredictable. Not an autonomous community. Cities on N. Moroccan coast.
I got into a friendly discussion a few weeks ago with a guy from London; he said the BBC were a trustworthy source because they were unbiased. I said, "Aw, come on," but he wouldn't back down (he kept repeating, "It's like gospel," which I didn't think was a British expression at all to refer to the undisputed truth) and I had to admit that I had no real evidence to back up my doubts, except that the BBC showed a patently absurd documentary that maintains that O.J.'s son did it which was rebroadcast on Catalan TV. Well, a group of British bloggers, among them the estimable friend-of-Iberian Notes Patrick Crozier and the indefatigable Natalie Solent, have set up a site to give us plenty of ammunition that's called Biased BBC. Check it out.
I noticed in Jay Nordlinger's column in NRO that Republican ex-football star Steve Largent got beat by the Democratic candidate for Governor of Oklahoma largely because Largent was in favor of a proposed ban on cock fighting. As Nordlinger said, "Cock fighting! In America! In 2002!" Well, the pro-cock fighting lobby seems to be pretty powerful in Oklahoma. I wonder if there's a fish-dynamiting or stop sign-shooting lobby; I guarantee you there's a snake-handlers' organization of some kind. And then these foreigners accuse us of having no respect for rural tradition. Hit's aggravatin', Ah kin shore tell ya.
The Vanguardia instituted a new policy a few months ago. The paper, which is fun to read because of its many local quirks though often maddening, has been around since 1881 in the hands of the same family. Anyway, they started printing letters to the editor in Catalan. Before, even if you had written your letter in Catalan, they printed it in Spanish, I suppose because they'd always done that way. The following letter from today's Vangua breaks a trend. For about the last eight consecutive days they'd published at least one thing that was horribly anti-American. Today there's no Yankee-bashing; today it's the Brits' turn. The interesting thing about this Brit-bashing letter is that it's written in Catalan. Anyone who would use Catalan to write to a publication that's 99% in Spanish must be a pretty serious Catalan nationalist; that person is using Catalan out of context and you only do that if you want to make a point. But this letter upholds Spanish claims regarding Gibraltar, which is really weird for a Catalan nationalist, since being pro-Catalanist automatically implies being anti-Spain around here and often implies being either a Francophile, a Germanophile, or an Anglophile. I'm confused. I think the letter-writer is, too. Here goes. It's in italics.

After the English betrayal of Catalonia (1714), as payment for their services, Castile ceded them the occupation of Gibraltar so that they could defend the Strait with their powerful Navy as long as they considered it necessary, and then return it without transferring it to a third party.

This was confirmed in the Treaty of Utrecht, in which it was specified that Gibraltar could only be occupied by the British Army and Navy and that no civilian could reside there. Therefore, the current inhabitants are squatters with no right to self-determination or anything else. And even less so the Moroccans, the Indians, et cetera
, who the British brought there when Franco closed the frontier in response to Churchill's new betrayal; he had promised that if granted a little more Spanish territory to build an airport, when the war against Nazism ended, they would return the Rock to Spain, but they forgot about it. And now Spanish airplanes are not even allowed to land there, while they illegally overfly Spanish territory whenever they feel like it.

In the end, Gibraltar has become a cave of Ali Baba, where, without paying taxes to anyone, every souvenir stand gives out the address to open up hundreds or thousands of fictitious companies that launder money and traffic
in drugs and then invest the enormous profits in land all over the Costa del Sol.

If the British had any common decency (vergonya, literally "shame"), something they've never had, they wouldn't have a colony within a European state like theirs which is even in NATO.

Platja d'Aro

Note the entirely made-up history--France was Spain's ("Castile's") ally in the war that ended in 1714, not England; the war ended with the French royal house, the Bourbons, on the throne of Spain. The English had given some support to the Catalans, many of whom opposed the Bourbons, but when the general war ended in 1713, a peace treaty was signed at Utrecht, England got Gibraltar (among other things) as a victorious power, and the Catalans obstinately held out. The British washed their hands and the Catalans got stomped. Some betrayal. And I seriously doubt Churchill promised Franco anything other than a swift kick in the ass if he didn't do as told, since after it became obvious in 1943 that the Nazis were going to lose Franco was hanging by a thread. The Allies seriously discussed ousting Franco as a consequence of World War II. Also note the conspiracy theory about Gibraltar as an important nexus of cash and illegality, the ridiculous resentment at the English "illegally overflying" Spanish territory, the antidemocratic assertion that those who live in Gibraltar have no rights, the racist-sounding statement that "Moroccans and Indians" have even fewer than no rights, the persnickety legalism about strict adherence to insignificant clauses of a 1713 treaty, the intemperate insult about the British lack of vergonya, and the nationalist fury behind the whole letter. This guy is angry because Britain has dissed Spain by not giving up Gibraltar when politely requested to, so he hates the entire British people, in his eyes just a bunch of poca-vergonyas and hijos de la Gran Bretaña.

In Spanish, hijo de la gran puta means, literally, "son of the great whore" and figuratively "motherfucking son-of-a-bitch". Hijo de la Gran Bretaña is obviously a play on this. That's what they call you guys around here, Des. Do you like it?
The Spanish Mediterranean coast is very similar in a lot of ways to Southern California. The climate is more or less the same; Barcelona gets a bit colder in the winter than LA does and also gets a bit more rain. Like Southern California, this very pleasant climate area wasn't densely populated in the pre-technology days; the huge booms in population in both places occurred only after the locals got hold of enough capital to attract extensive outside investment, which happened about the turn of the last century in both California and Catalonia. One of the things they had to do in both places was assure a supply of water, and aqueducts (much larger in LA than in Barcelona) formed the basis for the further expansion of those areas. I would figure that nearly half the people in Spain live along the Mediterranean--figure six million in Catalonia, four million in Valencia, a million in Murcia, seven million in Andalusia, and a million in the Balearics for a total of nineteen million out of Spain's forty million.

Anyway, the Mediterranean regions of Spain desperately need more water. There are millions of people living along a narrow coastal strip with a dry climate. The small rivers in southeastern Spain, the Júcar and the Segura, just don't provide enough water, especially with the drought that's affected that area over the last few years. So what they want to do is spend a bunch of government money on what's called the National Hydrological Plan, which would ship water from the Ebro River, the only large river in Spain that flows into the Med, south to Valencia and Alicante, and would purchase water from the Rhone in France, which carries an inexhaustible supply of fresh water out of the Alps, to be carried to the Barcelona area by aqueduct. (They say in Barcelona that the Rhone is the river that empties the most water into the Med. That would imply that it carries more water than the Danube, the Nile, and the Dnieper. I don't know whether this is true, but the Rhone is certainly an impressively big river when you see it at, say, Avignon. The Ebro's really not too much of a river by American standards; it's wide but shallow. The Rhone is deep.)

A good many people are against this plan, mostly Aragonese from the Ebro Valley, who want the Ebro's water to be used for irrigation in Aragon itself rather than farther south. The Catalans from the Ebro Delta are against it, too, because they fear that the rich Ebro Delta rice-growing area might dry up--the Plan says that won't happen, that only excess water unnecessary to sustain the lower river valley and delta will be sent south. The Ebro Delta Catalans don't particularly trust the government, though.

This plan has created beaucoup de political problems. The conservative governing PP has lost support in Aragon, maybe even enough to put Aragon in Socialist hands at the next elections. The PP never had much support anyway in Catalonia, but the Plan serves as something for enemies of the government to rally around. But in Valencia, a PP stronghold, the Plan is quite popular, and the Valencian Socialists are in trouble, since they can't oppose it like the Aragonese and Catalan Socialists can. The Valencian Socialists' support base is in favor of the plan, so they're left with a dilemma: support the Plan, which would imply supporting their enemies, the governing PP, or oppose the plan and anger their base. The Greens are agitating against the Plan, which makes sense, and the Communists are too, which doesn't. Both groups might pick up some single-issue support in the next elections but I doubt that either will make anything more than minor, very short-term gains.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Since we're moving into the world of Internet porn translating, I figure it's my business to do some research into the sector. There are several websites devoted to marketing and sales in the Internet porn industry, all of which make fascinating reading. We liked this one here, called Adult Webmaster Consultants--sounds pretty professional, right?--with a long list of articles. Another one we liked was Cozy Frog, which takes rather a frat-boy approach to the whole thing. Another very complete and detailed page is X-Biz. It's quite clear that the objective of all these sites is to persuade people to set up porno websites and to sell them the necessary products. AWC and X-Biz take a rather more professional approach, while Cozy Frog, which bills itself as "your buddy"--reach for your wallet now and hold onto it tight!--uses an "it's fun and easy" approach and is directing itself at the first-time porno webmaster, maybe a college kid without much money. If you want to take a look at the innards of the industry--rather a sanitized version, and all on the marketing, sales, and distribution side of the porn industry rather than the production side--you might want to check these websites out. If you do, remember that they're trying to sell you the idea of being a porno webhost. Resist that idea. I have a feeling that a whole lot of people get skinned thinking they can just jump into the clannish porno industry.
Well, we went down to the bar to watch the soccer game last night. We wandered around at game time, 9:00, looking for a bar that wasn't packed, and finally found one down on Calle Providencia. Remei ate a hot dog and a whole ración of patatas bravas, which in their nasty form, which these were, are frozen fried potatoes with mayonnaise, and in their delicious form are fresh double-fried potatoes--they put them in the deep-fryer for a couple of minutes till they're golden-brown and then let them cool, then put them back in for a couple of minutes, which makes them super-crispy--with a spicy sauce, sort of like KC-style vinegary, hot barbecue sauce. The best in Barcelona are at the Bar Tomás on Mayor de Sarrià below the Plaza de Sarrià. So, they ran out of bottled beer and we had to drink some pretty foul stuff out of the tap. Avoid tap beer if possible in Barcelona. This isn't true in Madrid or the País Vasco or Old Castile. I have no idea why. Perhaps it's just that Estrella, the dominant beer in the Barcelona market, is gross out of the keg, and that the brands in Madrid and the North are simply better keg beers. Estrella is fine out of the bottle; it's a standard, fairly strong Pilsener.

Anyway, we had to stand up at the back but at least it wasn't crowded and we could see the TV pretty well. I keep thinking somebody ought to introduce the sports-bar concept into this country; they could at least put in several TVs, invest a thousand bucks, so everyone could see better. But no bar has more than one, and that one is often no bigger than 21 inches. The game itself wasn't very exciting. The first half was quite dull; both teams were playing scared and couldn't put anything together on the attack because they were both playing on the defensive so much. Barça coach Louis Van Gaal changed his standard 3 defensemen-4 midfielders-3 forwards formation, an attacking setup, for a more balanced 4 defensemen-2 defensive midfielders-3 attacking midfielders-1 forward formation. The guys who were supposed to be attacking midfielders played defensively during the whole first half. Mendieta, who is not having a great year--he may be too old at 29--was especially static and Kluivert, the forward (Van Gaal benched the small and rather one-dimensional forward Saviola for the bigger and more multifaceted midfielder Motta) was all by himself in the middle of about eight Madrid guys. Ronaldo didn't play for Madrid, he's sick or something. Figo played and he stood up to the pressure very well, with all 108,000 fans yelling for his scalp. The very first thing Cocu, who was marking him, did was to foul him. By minute two Cocu had fouled him twice. And the next forty-three minutes went more or less like that, with the sole exception of a very nice bicycle kick (what they call a chilena here) by Cambiasso that Barça's goalie Roberto Bonano stopped with no problem. Raúl was never a factor. Neither were any of the other Madrid players for the rest of the game. The closest they got to the Barça goal for the rest of the match was a corner kick, a very eventful corner kick, for sure.

Barça came out for the second half fired up and in a 3-4-3 formation, and after three minutes Mendieta, from the point, made a very nice first-touch pass with his heel for Gabri, who had burned his man Iván Helguera and who was onside on the inside of the box, and who just as quickly fed it to Kluivert charging into the small box, who was wide open and blasted the ball into the lower-right corner of the goal well outside the reach of a diving Casillas. The ref annulled the goal, incorrectly, saying that Gabri had been offside. In the ref's defense, the play was very fast and I'm sure his error was unintentional. On the other hand, I'd like to strangle the son-of-a-bitch. The Barça players then began bombarding Casillas, Madrid's goalie, with long shots that he stopped without much trouble. Then Cocu muffed one when he was wide open in front of the goal, and then Motta injured Makelele with a vicious tackle for which he should have been red-carded. Then, with twenty minutes left, Figo went to take a Madrid corner kick and the fans began throwing shit at him, including an empty J&B whiskey bottle which might, with a little bad luck, have killed somebody. A couple of people threw mobile phones, which is pretty stupid when you figure that if you throw your own phone, the cops can probably figure out who it belongs to. On the other hand, the kind of guy who throws a mobile phone at an defenseless opposing soccer player's head is quite likely to have stolen said mobile phone.

So the ref, quite rightly, suspended the game for ten minutes while the crowd got calmed down. Nothing much happened during the last twenty minutes except that Riquelme bounced a free kick off the crossbar that had Casillas beaten. It ended up 0-0 and with only one fairly serious bit of rioting. Let me make something clear about European soccer hooligans. The Spanish hooligans are considered soft by the Brits and perhaps by the Dutch, maybe even the Italians, but they're plenty violent by American standards. These Spanish guys, Barça's Boixos Nois, Madrid's gang of openly Fascist wealthy skinhead toughs Ultra Sur, the Frente Atlético, Español's wealthy and Fascist Brigadas Blanquiazules, that mob of squatter thugs that roots for Seville, Bilbao's pro-ETA Abertzale Sur, would all eat the Oakland Raiders' fans for lunch. That bunch of fat middle-aged drunken idiots wouldn't last a minute against these young guys who know how to fight and who carry weapons, often knives. Remember, the Frente Atlético murdered a Real Sociedad fan, stabbed him to death, only three years ago, and the Boixos Nois stabbed a French supporter of Español to death not so long ago, either. Earlier this year a lynch mob of Seville fans had a security guard at their mercy and beat him bloody before the TV cameras. Not even American hockey fans would stand a chance in a square-go with these thugs. Not even Detroit Red Wings fans. Not even those animals in Philadelphia.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Tonight is the big game and all of Spain is gearing up for it. In possibly the biggest rivalry in the world in club football, Real Madrid comes to Barcelona tonight. The game is only on pay TV so we're going to have to go down to the bar to see it and jam in there with everybody else. The etiquette is that you can show up early, like a couple of hours early, and get a table, but you are obligated, more or less, to start buying drinks and keep them coming. You can wait a few minutes between drinks, and they don't have to be alcoholic. If you show up late, about game time, you'll have to stand in the aisles and at the back. Etiquette prohibits blocking the view of those seated. You also have to buy drinks, of course. They don't change the prices on game nights, so each Coke or beer or cup of coffee will only cost you a buck or a buck and a half, as usual. It's great business for the bar owners; this is all totally illegal, of course. They're not allowed to publicly exhibit pay-TV programming. No one ever enforces it, though; in fact, you'll see cops in the bars watching the game. (That's actually a good thing, since the bar becomes a small, crowded space with a lot of people whose emotions are flying and who have been drinking all evening. That's where the cops need to be; there's nobody on the streets anyway, since everyone is watching the game.)

You can't predict what's going to happen since both teams' players get so pumped up for the game. The stadium, the Camp Nou, is packed with 108,000 fans screaming for blood. They especially want Figo's blood, since he played for Barça for many years and then suddenly jumped to Madrid for more money after promising eternal fidelity to the Barça and its colors. They'll want Ronaldo's, too, though he won't get nearly as much abuse as Figo. Ronaldo only played with FC Barcelona for one year and if was obvious that he was a hired gun--his play was brilliant but he didn't pretend that his emotions toward the Barça were the same as those of the fans. They don't feel nearly as betrayed by Ronaldo. He's just a mercenary in their eyes. When Figo came to the Camp Nou for the first time as a Madrid player two years ago, they virtually booed him off the field. He refused to (or was ordered not to) take the corner kicks from the right side, which is normally his job because he's the right wingman, because he or somebody was afraid they'd lynch him if he got that close to them. One of the local sports papers printed up phony 10,000 peseta notes with Figo's picture on the front instead of the King's and the Barça fans showered the field with them, like confetti. Then, last year, Figo didn't play when Madrid came to Barcelona.

This year he's going to play, though. So is Raúl, who is nursing nagging injuries and isn't in top form, and Ronaldo. Zidane is out, though, as is Hierro. Both Barcelona and Madrid have suspect defenses, and Fernando Navarro's suspension won't help Barça out. Van Gaal, Barça's coach, will substitute Gabri as a central defenseman for Navarro; Gabri is a good, utilitarian player who is a good defender for a midfielder but a bad defender for a defenseman. Luis Enrique is still out, injured, for Barcelona, and Barça could use him since he's the team leader on the field. He's a former Real Madrid player who considers himself shabbily treated by that club and its fans and jumped to Barça when his contract ran out about five years ago. He hates Madrid and they hate him. When he plays in Madrid they chant "¡Luis Enrique, tu padre es Amunike!" Amunike was a Nigerian player with the Barça a couple of years back. I imagine the more brainless and racist Madrid fans find this very funny.
The oil spill off Galicia is out of control. The coast between Corrubedo to the south and Cariño to the north, including two protected natural areas, has been polluted already and it looks like the oil is moving north, which is good for the marine life in South Galicia's Rias Baixas and for Portugal but has the French worried. The government is not well prepared, as they don't have enough contention barriers or cleanup boats, and they're getting smacked around some politically. About 6000 tons of oil was spilled in the first leak and 5000 tons more escaped when the tanker Prestige sank. There are 70,000 tons more of oil within the tanker 10,000 feet down; they're now saying that oil will solidify. Let's hope so because if that stuff gets out the "black tide" will suddenly be seven times worse. Meanwhile, the price of percebes has doubled in the Madrid markets.

The Vanguardia has a table of the fifteen worst oil spills of all time; this one so far, with 11,000 tons, is comparatively still very small. Even if all the oil in the sunken tanker gets out, this one would probably place about 25th in history. The biggest spill of all time was 1991 when the Iraqis sabotaged the Kuwaiti oilfields and dumped 800,000 tons of crude into the Persion Gulf, and the second was 1979 in the Gulf of Mexico when those Mexican oil rigs blew out and spilled 450,000 tons. The biggest tanker spill ever was number three on the all-time list when the tanker Atlantic spilled 280,000 tons into the Caribbean in 1979. What I found interesting was that none of these top 15 spills have happened since 1991. The Vanguardia's reporter, Antonio Cerrillo, who has done his research, says that after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989, which was not among the top 15, by the way, the Americans passed laws prohibiting single-hulled tankers from docking at American ports and establishing that tanker owners must contract an unlimited-liability insurance policy, to pay off in case of accident. This means that if you want to do business with the Yanks, you have to play by their rules, and their rules have done a lot to reduce oil spills. It's not the American government on your ass to keep things safe: it's the insurance companies, and they're a lot meaner and tougher than Uncle Sam because it's their asses on the line if you screw up. In contrast, EU laws on the subject have not even gone into effect yet and contain a limit on the liability of the tanker owner. The single-hulled Prestige would not have been allowed to carry oil to the US and no American company would have insured it. Score one environmental point for the US. Greenpeace is complaining that the strict American laws concentrate the less safe tankers in Europe.
This article from the Weekly Standard on the Florence anti-global demonstration earlier this month is well worth a read. The Standard also has a short piece by David Brooks that, among other things, puts the lie to Eulàlia Solé on conditions in Afghanistan, and Brooks's piece has, like, facts and stuff in it! Slate has a quite amenable piece on Charles Barkley, his new book, and his political ambitions.

Friday, November 22, 2002

OK, here's a "Six Degrees of Separation" meme trace for you guys. A couple of days ago I linked to Sasha Castel's (fully credited, she wasn't pretending to have made it up) reproduction of the Bush-Condi Rice "Who's on First" conversation. You may have read it. It's pretty funny. If you haven't read it, go read it. Anyway, this meme, if I can be a pompous ass, is suddenly everywhere. It's exploded all over the world. Yesterday at about 8 AM their time I was listening to KSJO (the most obnoxious radio station I know) in San Jose through Internet "radio" and their morning Drive Time Zoo Team Wacky DJ's Dipshit Dave and Fuckwit Frank, or whatever their names are, did this routine, which they didn't credit but which they certainly didn't make up themselves, as I'd read it beforehand on Sasha's blog and already linked to it here. She got it from one V.C. Darte, who apparently e-mailed it to her. What I'd like to see is where this meme came from and where it's going to. Sasha, where did V.C. Darte get it from? Everyone else, where did you first come across this if it wasn't through us and / or Sasha?
Baltasar Porcel is really letting us down. He's just boring again today, he's been boring all week. But never fear, Eulàlia Solé, sociologist and author, is here! The thing about Lali Solé is that her column only appears once a week rather than every day like Porcel's, and her idiocy / dullness ratio is about 1 : 1 while Porcel's is about 1 : 10. That is, for every joyfully imbecilic Lali column, there's merely one boring, stupid one. You have to read through ten boring, stupid Porcelazos before you get one that shines with the intense glowing imbecility that Porcel is capable of. We know a guy who spent a couple of years in the sociology department at the university before switching to philosophy and getting his Ph.D.; he says that Lali is far and away the dumbest professor in the sociology department and one of the three or four dumbest at the whole university. Anyway, Lali's text is in italics below; our comments are in standard type. The title is "The fruits of war".

The results of the war for the Afghan people could well be called rotten fruits. It's because of this that Afghanistan has stopped appearing on the news, that no one has heard anything from Karzai, his government, and the warlords, nor about the promised reconstruction of the country, nor about the supposed liberation of the women. Just as the capture of Bin Laden has been a failure, the makeup used to beautify the military operation, as if that were possible, has been too. There is nothing farther from being fulfilled than the obligations acquired by the US regarding the political, economic, and human development of the country.
Profundity Score on a 1 to 10 scale, with ten representing, say, Immanuel Kant and one representing, say, Tipper Gore: -3 for getting all her facts wrong.

From health to food, from education to freedom, everything is shamefully lacking. Many people have to walk for days in order to reach a health center, in which the most basic services are lacking. Sometimes it's even worse and they find the health center levelled by bombs. Food is scarce for the immense majority of people, dreadfully poor after 23 years of military conflicts and finished off by the last one. As far as the refugees returning home, they find themselves with a panorama of destruction, unemployment, hunger, and lack of clean water. Lack of personal safety is also permanent, with the warlords doing as they want. Very few women have access to work, and very few have managed to free themselves from the burka, still submitted to the will of those in charge and frightened of being attacked.
Profundity Score: -5 for expecting the US to have already turned Afghanistan into Denmark and for not blaming at least some of the Afghans' problems on, say, the SOVIET invasion which started all this off back in 1979.

While some things are just the same as before the last war, the rest have gotten worse. If the bombings have borne any fruit it is that of mass poverty for the population, as we have already said, and that of becoming even more evil (envilecimiento) for those who have gotten rich off the conflict.

Profundity Score: -9 for blatantly lying, for accusing the Americans of having profited off the Battle of Afghanistan, and for calling the United States evil without mentioning a single scrap of evidence.

When we get down to it, there's nothing new under the sun when it comes to war. The landscape that weapons leave behind is always monotonously the same. This reiteration does not only not faze those who make money off devastation, but encourages them to probe its possibilities even more deeply. A man as lucid as Gabriel Jackson denounces, in the last issue of "Vanguardia Dossier" the attempt of the Bush Administration to revoke the ABM treaty, signed in 1972 to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. To the entire deadly arsenal that threatens the survival of defenseless civilians, they want to add the radioactive weapons that new countries may make. Insanity which we'll have to put the brakes on in some way.
Profundity Score: -17 for not having any idea of what the ABM treaty deals with, for thinking that the US wants more countries to have nuclear arms, and for accusing the Americans of making war to make money again.

The way is not starting another war, this time against Iraq under the pretext that it has dangerous armaments. It makes no sense to accuse someone else of having weapons of mass destruction when you have even more of them yourself. It's true that it's urgent to put an end to the potential danger that threatens the future of humanity, but that will only be possible if the weapons accumulated in every single country, including the one that claims to dispense justice, are eliminated.

Profundity Score: -13 for failing to see the difference between nukes in American or British hands and nukes in Iraqi hands, for being a pacifist imbecile who actually thinks that weapons can be abolished, and for gratuitously insulting the US.

Civil society must become aware both of the risk it is running and of the pressure it can exercise to remove from power the enemies of both peaceful development and a democratic distribution of the wealth of the world.

Profundity Score: -21 for claiming that Communism is the answer.

I've been accused of being too sensitive to anti-Americanism. But when faced every day with this kind of blind hate, it's kind of hard not to be. And don't believe the anti-Americans when they claim to hate the American government but respect the American people. They don't. They hate Americans as individuals, too. It's pure racism. And many Europeans like Eulàlia Solé, whose face I will cheerfully spit in if I ever get the chance, are chock-full of anti-American racism. Like, for example, the above column. No European has ever had to listen to his country reviled in the way that I have to every day.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Horologium has an excellent Fisking (they call it a "dissection") of a genetically-modified-food terror-monger. Check it out. It has, like, actual facts and stuff in it. Also check out the Belligerent Bunny Blog, if you haven't already. No Replacement for Displacement has three, uh, rather aggressively nontraditional carols we can all sing around the fireplace the night of Christmas Eve after we get home from church and get oiled on eggnog. Samizdata has a hilarious bit that fans of Viz comic will appreciate on how exactly the Brits are going to contribute to the war on Saddam. The Jedman gives his opinion on tailbone tattoos.
The sage who gets the back-page interview in today's Vanguardia is a real moral guy whose name is Denis Halliday. Mr. Halliday is an Irishman who was once the Adjunct Secretary General of the UN and who is so moral that he resigned in 1998 because he thought we were being too mean to Iraq. Mr. Halliday is very proud that his father was a pacifist who worked to keep Ireland out of NATO. We've excerpted it. The questions, of course, are Q. Mr. Halliday's answers are A.

Q. The CIA says they were making chemical weapons.
A. The first UN inspection was done with some rigor, but Butler's was working for the CIA, the Mossad, and the secret services of various countries. That wasn't serious.

Q. I suppose that you don't support the mission that is beginning now.
The mission is impossible: they have to find weapons of mass destruction and, if there aren't any, the United States will attack anyway. We all know that.

Q. Why is it going to do that?
A. Iraq is the second-largest oil producer in the world. It's simply that. The United States wants absolute control of the oil market.

Q. Oil is an obsession of the Bushes.
A. And Bush is ready to do whatever it takes to get control over it. And once it has absloute control, you can be sure that Europe will pay a very high price for that oil.

Q. So why didn't they take over Iraq after they won the first Gulf War?
A. Bush Senior pulled back at the possibility of an explosion of the Kurdish powder-keg and an Iranian intervention. It's a very complex area, very much so.

Q. And what will they do after Hussein?
A: A protectorate with military bases, as in so many other countries. A puppet government and an informal occupation.

Q. That won't be easy.
A. It will be bloody...

Q. What do you think will happen?
A. The worst. We'll attack Iraq, with the shameful complicity of the UN and of its secretary general, and we will commit genocide. And, after thousands of deaths and much suffering, the Bushes will finally have their oil.

We won't comment too much, except that we wonder which star system this guy is receiving on his tooth fillings. Where did this pathological hatred for the Bush family come from? Where did he get this paranoia about the CIA and the Mossad controlling the UN? Why does he blindly believe, so simplistically, that America plans to attack Iraq in order to grab the oil after this canard has been debunked eight million times? And why is he so sure that America is acting in bad faith and its goal is to grab all the oil and then extort the Europeans? And who's the guy at the Vanguardia who keeps printing all this anti-American stuff, day in and day out? How about a little balance?

On the oil tanker thing, the Vanguardia says that the Times of London says the tanker that sank off Galicia had been in port in Gibraltar for six hours a few months ago, and that was the only connection the tanker had with Gibraltar: that one visit. The tanker had, of course, called at dozens of ports both before and after its docking there. Any connection the more rabidly nationalistic Spanish press (ABC, La Razón, El Mundo) has been trying to draw with this mess and the existence of Gibraltar as a British colony is bogus.

Bush, in Prague at the NATO summit, promised to consult with America's NATO allies before any armed action against Iraq, which he said was avoidable--we assume by means of a total capitulation by Saddam. He also called on the nations of the world and the NATO countries in particular to openly show their diplomatic support for America and stated that if Iraq did not comply with a strict regime of inspections, America would form a coalition to be sure that Saddam is disarmed. Bush also called on the NATO allies to increase their defense budgets; America's defense budget is double that of all the other allies put together. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, and Bulgaria will be formally invited to join NATO today. This will be the first admission of ex-Soviet republics into NATO, and also the first admission of an ex-Yugoslav republic. It serves as the official seal of approval on Slovakia, which took a good bit longer than its more advanced cousin, the Czech Republic, to democratize, and it's especially important for Romania and Bulgaria, who also took longer to democratize than their Hungarian neighbor. Romania and Bulgaria are scheduled to join the EU in 2007 and joining NATO will be a big boost to their credentials. (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Greek Cyprus join the EU in 2004). Interestingly, both Romania and Bulgaria are very pro-American and have volunteered help against Iraq; so has Poland. Croatia, Macedonia, and--get this one--Albania are the candidates for the next expansion of NATO. We're all for it. Get them into the official clubs of civilized countries. That'll help make sure they never slide back out. NATO also agreed to extend its current peacekeeping mission in Macedonia six more months. The French got all into a snit because they want a European Union force to replace the NATO force in Macedonia. It was agreed that this will be discussed later.

Meanwhile, the British are ready to roll on Iraq. They've got 20,000 men, a complete division, all set to go, the largest contingent except for the Americans. Among the units to be sent is the famous Seventh Motorized Brigade, the Desert Rats.

Dirtbag ETArras José Ignacio Krutxaga, Fernando García Jodrá, and Lierni Armendáriz are on trial in Madrid for murdering municipal cop Juan Miguel Gervilla in Barcelona. Seems that what happened is that they were going to carbomb the radio host Luis del Olmo on Dec. 20, 2000, but the red Fiat Uno they'd stolen and loaded up with twelve kilos of explosives--they were going to park it and blow it up by remote control when del Olmo passed by on his way to work, they knew his habitual routes--broke down on Avenida Diagonal, the main street leading into the central city from the west. The car was blocking a whole lane and it was eight in the morning, rush hour. The cop, who was directing traffic, came over to see what was up; Jodrà was pushing the Fiat from behind. The cop noticed a screwdriver in the ignition and immediately sussed the car was stolen. He went for his gun but Jodrà jumped him and they both went down to the ground. Krutxaga jumped out of the car with a gun and shot Gervilla, the policeman. Jodrà got up, grabbed his own gun which had fallen to the ground in the fight, and shot Gervilla in the head as he lay on the ground holding up one arm to protect himself. This cell of terrorists is also responsible for the murder of former Socialist cabinet minister Ernest Lluch; they got 33 years each for that. I personally wouldn't mind at all using the death penalty on them. I imagine most Spaniards agree with me, but it's very politically incorrect to say so, especially if you want to be considered one of the enlightened, solidarious, and hip.

Also, some jackass etarra named Urtzi Murureta Gondra blew himself up with the explosives he was manipulating as part of an ETA training course being held in a remote area of central France near Limoges. Unfortunately he didn't die, though he was badly wounded in an arm and a leg. He is thought to be one of the cell that murdered Judge José María Lidón.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

From the Culture supplement to today's Vanguardia is this paragraph from a commentary by Ana Nuño on a novel by one François Emmanuel, a--no, you're wrong! So was I. He's Belgian. Anyway, the plot of the book is that the narrator, an industrial psychologist with the French subsidiary of a German firm, is assigned to treat the boss, who has freaked out. Nuño's text is in italics below.

The plot develops, cleanly and linearly, this analytic process (Oh, great, another French...well, Belgian novel that takes place on a psychiatrist's couch) and, at the same time, introduces another motif that ends up becoming the obsessive self-exploration of the narrator-psychologist: the discovery of a hidden truth that concerns not only the boss, but the whole company. This hidden truth, which the author never explicitly mentions, allows us to relate the logic of the business world--with its restructuring plans, its search for maximum profit, and its increases in productivity--with the universe of the Nazi concentration camps, the brutal form taken by the bureaucratic rationalizationation of the largest systematic business of the destruction of human lives in History. WHAT? The logic of capitalism is that of the Nazi concentration camps? Is this chick smoking better dope than I am, that stuff that you take one hit of and instantly see how to rearrange the world, or is she on a crazed ditchweed headache high? The Nazi concentration camps were first cousins of the Soviet gulag, honey. Oligarchical collectivism and all that. Totalitarianism. Not capitalism. Socialism. Remember, the Nazis were National Socialists, not National Capitalists.

...(This is the first) work of fiction that explores the survival in our world of the logic that made possible the death factories of Auschwitz and the other extermination camps. A logic that continues its labor among us, hidden among the folds of the most poswerul and apparently innocuous instrument of creation and modification of the world: language. Must be a crazed ditchweed headache high. She's going off on a Chomskyan tangent, as Chomsky believes that language is the most important tool that the capitalist oppressors use to keep the rest of humanity enslaved. I'd shout "Run for your lives," but for some reason the article comes to a dead end here, so there's no more Chomskyan crap. Vocabulary note: "Chomskyan" means "a person whose ideas are within the current of linguistic and philosophical thought founded by Noam Chomsky." Steven Pinker is a Chomskyan. "Chomskyite" means "a person who is a political follower of Noam Chomsky." Those morons in Rage Against the Machine are Chomskyites.

Also, here we go again with "hidden truths". Spanish leftists, and a lot of Spanish non-leftists, are Gnostics: they believe that there's a hidden structure behind everything. Secret powerful forces run the world and manipulate everything. Everything happens for a reason, though we may not understand that reason; the powerful do, however. Nothing is true, since all knowledge is manipulated by those in charge. It's all one vast conspiracy, and the Americans / Jews / oil companies / arms manufacturers / CIA / cattle mutilators / crop-circle aliens / los que tienen muchas intereses are behind it. This is, of course, straight-out paranoia, and it's a distressingly common way of thinking in Spain, and I think in the other Latin countries as well.
This article from the Weekly Standard demonstrates exactly why I am a small-L libertarian but not a big-L Libertarian. My nitpick: there are a lot of people who are, in general, libertarian on social issues, free-market on economic issues, and hawkish on foreign policy and defense. Andrew Sullivan calls them "eagles". I guess I'm one, though I think the name is dorky.
Xavier Basora from Buscaraons has a good post on Kyoto and a couple of well-worth-reading responses to things we've said on this blog. Definitely check it out. Don't confuse Xavier, who runs the blog, lives in Canada, and has a Catalan name, with the other guy, Xabier, who lives in London and has a Basque name. I'm not sure what's eating Xabier. He's been reading this site for a while and once sent a quite friendly letter. I really didn't think that we'd said anything particularly offensive recently. Patronizing I have to admit to, but not unfair, I don't think. Also, it's only fair to point out that the Anglo-Americans outshine the French in business, war, and government, the Low Countries folk and Swiss have them beat at business and government, and the Germans are superior in business and war, but next in line come the French in all those categories. We could debate exactly where to rank every culture on everything, but you'd have to put the French ahead of the Spanish, Italians, Poles, and Russians at business, war, and government, not to mention every non-Western culture. The French outstrip everybody else in fields from painting and poetry to cooking and lifestyle. (You heard right. The Latin lifestyle really is more pleasant than the Anglo-American. I'd give the four big Latin countries top rank in way of life, tied perhaps with the Dutch and the Belgians and maybe even the Catholic Germans. Then the Anglo-Americans.) I'm not quite sure why they can't accept that their country is the nicest place in the world to live, but that it isn't quite as strong as some other Western cultures at some other things.

Cinderella Bloggerfeller gives the Maoists well-deserved hell. Check it out. Sasha Castel, who has been kind enough to link to the Monsieur Stinky Cheese Psychologist interview, has a hilarious bit that she found somewhere, President Bush and Condi Rice doing the old "Who's on First" routine. Atlético Rules keeps you up to date on the Galicia oil spill, which is turning out to be a huge mess. The Galician coast is beautiful and teeming with life, much of which ends up on tables all over Spain. If you like fish and seafood, you'll love Spanish food, especially up on the north coast, anywhere from Tuy to Fuenterrabia. If you go to Las Peñucas in the Puerto Pesquero in Santander, you can get paella de marisco, gambas a la plancha, and merluza a la vasca for literally twenty bucks, I am not exaggerating, and that includes the house wine or a pitcher of beer, all recently dragged out of the cold Atlantic. Not the wine, the fish. Galicia is famous for percebes, a mollusk that looks so gross that I refuse to eat it. It's said to be delicious, so if you can bring yourself to actually put such a thing in your mouth, you'll probably love it. Coquilles St. Jacques, the scallop dish, is really of Galician origin. Galician-style octopus is famous throughout Spain; any real Gallego bar has a large pink octopus under the glass on the bar. They also serve tiny octopi in olive oil, parsley, and garlic sauce. Most people think they're delicious. Octopus in any form also grosses me out, though I have tried it. I feel sorry for them; I've seen documentaries of scientists making friends with them and of octopi solving problems, like figuring out how to open a jar with food inside it. After you've seen an octopus using a tentacle to caress a guy in a diving suit who is scratching the big mollusk's "nose" above its beak, it's hard to want to eat one. (Full disclosure: I'm a speciesist. I won't eat mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians, and I generally avoid seafood--I eat it once a month or so. Anything lower than amphibians is probably too dumb to have a consciousness, I figure.)

Anyway, back to Galicia. The fisherpeople are doing everything they can to haul up all life forms before the ship's oil tanks blow. The ship has cracked in half and sunk, and its oil tanks are under extreme pressure since it's sunk to the bottom, which is like ten thousand feet down. Many places along the coast have already been contaminated by oil washing up on the beaches, and when the rest of the oil comes out, the whole Galician coast south of El Ferrol and maybe some of the Portuguese coast, too, is going to be a mess. No more percebes from there for a few years.

This is ridiculous. There has got to be some way to make oil tankers generally safe. I can't think of an oil tanker that belonged to a big company that's caused a big mess like this since the Exxon Valdez. They must have the capability to make their tankers virtually unsinkable, and I'm sure they do it, since safety measures have got to be cheaper than cleaning up cormorants. Oil tankers that do not meet the highest standards of safety should simply not be allowed to do business. This is one place where the good of the commons (a non-oily sea) is more important than the individual right of Joe Blow to sail whatever kind of ship he wants wherever he wants. America and Britain and Canada and Australia ought to get together with the rest of the European democracies and anyone else who wants to sign on and simply not permit any tanker that does not meet the minimum standards to take on or unload oil in their countries. I don't think that ought to be too hard to do. Tankers are pretty big and easy to spot; it's hard to be sneaky with something like that. And, no, there's no comparison with the Kyoto Treaty (which the Europeans are never going to abide by, either), since the science behind the global warming theory is still under question. There's no dispute about the bad stuff that spilling oil into the sea does.
Here's another article from Front Page on the history of Islam which is right on target with the facts. For the full horror of the history of slavery within Islam, check it out. Also, you ought to read this interview with Stephen Schwartz, an American Islamic journalist, on why Wahabism is a fanatical current within Islam. We have a nit-pick with Schwartz: he overestimates the presence of the Islamic heritage in Spanish culture. In fact, everything Jewish or Islamic in Spain was ruthlessly crushed, between Ferdinand and Isabella's expulsion of the Jews in 1492--400,000 Spanish Jews were affected, of whom about 150,000 converted to Christianity and stayed. The rest mostly went to North Africa, and their descendants are now called Sephardic Jews. (The Catalans had already killed off all their Jews in the 1391 pogrom. One thing we must say in favor of the Spanish Muslims is that they did not treat Jews particularly badly most of the time, unlike the Spanish Christians.) The Muslim inhabitants, the moriscos, were pushed out of Castile into Muslim Granada during the early 1400s, and they were finally expelled from Valencia, Aragon, and Andalusia in 1609-10, 400,000 of them. The moriscos also mostly went to North Africa. Everything Muslim or Jewish was stamped out by the Inquisition--whose horrors affected relatively few people, mostly Jews who had converted to Christianity (conversos), but those horrors were pretty horrible. The only thing left in Spain of the Muslim heritage is the architecture, though it's said that the complicated water-rights and irrigation laws of Valencia are left over from the Muslim days. Some say flamenco music is of Muslim origin, though others say it's gypsy. Probably it's some of both mixed in with some plain old Spanish.

Comment on flamenco: What you hear in the States is generally pop-disco flamenco, of which the most frightening recent example is "Macarena", though "Aserejé" has some flamenco influence in it. (The girls are named Ketchup because their flamenco-pop dad's monicker is Tomate. Get it?) Flamenco and its cousins sevillanas, copla española, rumba, and the like fulfill the same role in Spanish society as country music does in American. Both of them are musics of rural people who emigrated to the city, and they've both been heavily influenced by the technology available there. Both flamenco and its cousins, and country, have adopted synthesizers, drum machines, electric guitars, and the like; they are urban forms of music based on traditional rural styles but using modern technology and influenced by international pop. The traditional rural styles still exist, but only in flamenco's heartland and among modern middle-class hipsters, just the way that traditional gospel and folk music can still be heard in America--but most of its fans are the NPR crowd. (Should you, while in Barcelona, want to check out a bar with old-style flamenco, hit the Galpón Sur on Calle Guilleries in Gràcia and ask the bartender to put on something good. Every couple of weeks they have concerts--it's either flamenco, jazz, or South American. Everybody who goes there is some kind of Communist or worse but they're friendly enough if you can take a little joshing.) The most critically-acclaimed modern flamenco musicians are Camarón de la Isla and Tomatito. Their stuff is influenced somewhat by rock, but it's definitely legit. These guys have soul. Camarón died relatively young a few years ago and there's now a Camarón cult, kind of like the Jim Morrison cult. A flamenco-rock band, mostly rock, that's worth checking out is Ketama. The Gypsy Kings are probably the most famous "Spanish" musicians; they're actually French. They play rumbas and they're a great party band. True flamenco aficionados look down on the Gypsy Kings as inauthentic and too poppy, but I like them. Another Frenchman is Manu Chao, whose political ideas are idiotarian supreme but who's a damn good musician, a rumba-rocker. He used to be the frontman for a group called Mano Negra, whose album Puta's Fever will get your next bash hopping. He had a song that was a big hit a few months ago called "Me gustas tú", which was the only thing that made the radio tolerable during the hellish "Operación: Triunfo" summer of 2002. All of these guys ought to be easy to find on one of those music-sharing sites, in case you're interested. Manu Chao is really hip right now because he's one of those anti-globo wackos and plays shows at their demos, so if you want to tell your friends you're into what's cool in Europe, give Manu a listen.

Comment on Jim Morrison: I went to Jim Morrison's grave once when I was in Paris. It's in the historic and really quite beautiful Pére Lachaise cemetery, where dozens of French notables like Voltaire and Chopin are buried. When you walk in the front gate, you can see tombs vandalized with signs that say JIM with an arrow pointing to his tomb. Just listen for "The End" blasting out of a boom box a hundred or so yards away and that's where you want to go. When you get there you'll see a bunch of freaks drinking beer, smoking pot, and communing around Jim's tomb, which has a small bust of Jim on it that's been painted and repainted over and over. One guy ceremonially poured a beer over Jim's head, which seemed like a waste of a perfectly good beer to me. Graffiti like JIM BROKE ON THROUGH FOR YOU AND ME and JIM IS THE LIZARD KING FOR EVER are scratched all over the neighboring tombs. Based on the graffiti, I'd say a lot of the pilgrims to Jim's grave are Italian. Are the Doors especially popular there? Anyway, a few years ago, whoever's in charge of Pére Lachaise announced that Jim's lease on the tomb was up and that he had to go somewhere else, and it was easy to get the impression that they didn't care where somewhere else was as long as it was a long way away from there. I don't know if they ever moved his grave or not. Interestingly enough, Jim Morrison, if he had any political ideas at all, which I doubt, would have been a rather unpleasant sort of conservative. He hated hippies, thought they were a bunch of idiots. He hated homosexuals. Though he'd take anything he could get hold of, his drugs were alcohol and speed, not pot and acid. He hated San Francisco; L.A. was much more his style of decadent. Though he hated his father, a lifetime US Navy officer, he was not against the war in Vietnam and thought the protestors were morons. He didn't really like anything too much except getting really fucked up and freaking out other people with his Lizard King crap. His death was suicide at age 27; he killed himself intentionally bit by bit rather than all at one go.