So the Tories are doomed to fail again. Read etc.
Today's El PaÃs carries an interesting story about the Vatican. Apparently, the Pope and his Cardinals are concerned about the gradual erosion of the Catholic Church in Spain. Nick Lyne writes that the Pope made an address to Spain's top priests yesterday "in which he accused Spain of promoting a secularism that "restricts religious freedom." "What His Holiness is referring to is the gradual shift in Spanish society (once the most fervently and dogmatically Catholic country in the world) toward the general secularism which is present in the UK, France and across Europe.
The Pope has a short memory. Spain's pro-Church laws have long made religious freedom difficult in Spain. The InquisiciÃ³n and now Opus Dei were both founded in Spain and both worked to support both Rome and authoritarian regimes in Madrid. Most recently, the Roman Church openly supported General Franco's illegal war of treachery and murder against the democratically elected republican government, and the long years of repression, fear and Catholicism which followed.
Spain, whilst keen to avoid a public row, is now ready to say "thanks for your opinions, but shove off" to Rome.
Meanwhile, the pro-fascist AVT (Association of Victims of Terrorism) attacked a senior Socialist minister on Saturday at a demonstration designed to show solidarity with victims of terror.
The ultra-right have long infiltrated the victims of terrorism groups because they are full of people who are scared and angry – the ideal prey for fascists. What is worrying is that the social division between left and right in Spain seems not to be improving. What with clashes between religious and secular, socialist and (at the very least) conservative, Spain still feels like two separate countries. The PP, with their sophist arguments, are a hateful bunch, but the Socialists don't seem to be doing much to stop them orchestrating this sort of violence.
Mending the wounds caused by the dictatorship in Spain must now be a priority for all citizens.
Royal Trux are definitely my favourite rock group ever, and the fact that I never got to see them before they split while I was at uni in 2001 was (and is) a constant disappointment.
So the fact that
Jennifer Herrema is bringing her 'half' of the band here to play is absolutely as much as I could hope for. RTX – a name which former partner in music and love, Neil Hagerty, says she has no right to use – is Jennifer with two new hipster-type men. I don't know, but I figure there won't be any old Trux songs played… but the new album, Transmaniacon, is pretty good anyway.
I love computer games. I don't love all computer games: I don't like football games, strategy games or any game with aliens or monsters. But on the whole, if a good game (like GTA: Vice City) comes along, I have a seriously good time playing it. Since my SEGA MasterSystem Plus, I haven't owned a console. Few things could compare with Psycho Fox on the MasterSystem, but Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Sonic and even Hang On were all thoroughly enjoyable. Since then, I have really only played games on the totally upgradeable PC format, in the full knowledge that rather than having to buy a new console every five years, I could steadily and constantly improve the spec of my computer with, say, a new 3d video card, or more memory. So consoles were forgotten, even while a student – when everyone else had one.
Handheld game devices have been even further out of my radar until about a month ago when I first saw pictures of the new Sony PSP. It's lovely. I want one.
The price sounds good (probably around 230 EUR), the processing power is decent, and the screen and graphics (and overall design) make it far more desirable than the Nintendo DS. Additionally, the PSP will be able so play videos, music and image files, and it comes with a wifi connection, ready for my wireless router. Rumoured accessories include keyboard (which would be great), camera and GPS modules – I guess this could be used in some kind of realtime, realspace game (which sounds like the sort of thing I'd hate).
If I could use it as a web browser, and connect it with the iPOD's 20 GB storage, then we would see huge functionality for what Sony is touting as the walkman of the 21st century. I admit that a direct connection from PSP to iPOD is highly unlikely, but maybe a non supported third-party could be developed by someone far cleverer than me?
The negative points being made currently are low battery life (when is someone going to invent a battery for all these devices that lasts longer than a few hours??), use of the Sony proprietary UMD storage system (of which no recordable discs are scheduled to be released), easily marked screen (wash your hands occasionally) – and some generic and made up complaints from people who support Nintendo against Sony.
Overall it looks great, it is already building a large amount of publicity and popularity, despite not having been released in NA/EMEA as yet… and I am going to get one when it comes out in Spain. Which will probably be in 2009.
Prince Harry has received a real lashing over his Nazi antics at a party last weekend. The Daily Mail today dedicates 11 pages of coverage to his foolish mistake.
Wiser, more right-on news sources are leading with the opinion that he's been a naughty boy, apologised, so lets stop talking about it. It's always interesting to witness a period of role reversal like this. The Mail usually treats all roayls as if they can do no wrong. The Guardian is usually far more likely to criticise the royal family. Now, we see Guardian journalists spouting the sort of 'Oh leave him alone, he's just a normal Prince. HRH HRH. It wasn't that bad anyway' drivel that one would expect from James Whittaker.
Fact is: I really dislike the Royal Family. Worthless bastards to a man, they're careless, lazy, parasitic, amoral, vacuous sods. I can't understand who it benefits to have all these useless, rich bastards swanning around, drinking champagne and wearing Nazi uniforms.
Whoever in the Palace spun this story has done it very well indeed. It's not the fact that he dressed up as a Nazi that should piss people off. It's the fact that he's a walking anachronism, useless to all of us, destined to leech off the country for decades to come – and all for nothing.
And another thing: the Duchess of Fat (York) has chosen to tell us what we should think about this. There is not one person in the whole world whose judgement and opinion matter less to me than Fergie's. She's even worse than Harry.
— Gemma is still job-hunting after her unfair dismissal by UAB Idiomes. She has unemployment benefits on top of the large settlement the company gave her after meetings with CCOO Union representatives.
— We're both spending too much time watching British TV on our new satellite system. Gemma goes for Desperate Housewives (not, I should point out, a reflection of her life; we aren't married.) – and I am finding Celebrity Big Brother strangely compelling. Especially since Big Brother seems to be evil brother this time arounddddzzzzzzzz.
— My work NT account has been disabled for two days, rendering work nearly impossible. Of course, I still have to do work – it just takes a lot longer to get done. And I miss having my email.
— We're off to Pal-Arinsal on the second weekend in Feb. For skiing.
There were two notable cases of racism/Nazism in European football this weekend.
In Madrid, the local derby match was ruined by Atletico Madrid fans making monkey noises at Real Madrid's Roberto Carlos. After a request was made over the public address system, Atletico's famously hardline neo-Nazi fans taunted the black player even louder. The Spanish football federation says it 'may investigate' this latest in a series of racist outbursts which have been drawing the Spanish game into disrepute over the last few months.
The problem is that the national sporting authorities clearly don't take this very seriously. The national coach, Luis Aragones, remains in his job months after referring to footballer Thierry Henry as "that black shit". Aragones has been condemned around the world – but not in Spain. Here, he has received the sort of support you would expect a victim to receive. This smacks of the sort of attitude that abounded in England in the 1970s and into the 80s whereby people could get away with saying anything if they could also say "I'm not racist, but…" or "ah come on! Everyone's saying that sort of thing" or, my personal favourite, "but some of my best friends are black!". Even in the UK, we have nearly eradicated this kind of flippant racism, and now we see it rising again.
The second instance was during the Lazio-Rome match on Saturday when Paolo di Canio celebrated Lazio's success with a big Nazi salute:
Adam, Rob and I agree that my version of the picture is much better. This guy is a complete disgrace: he's a Nazi sympathising hooligan, a scumbag and a very nasty piece of work (as if you couldn't tell!!). It is testament to the racist attitude of his entire club that he has always been like this, and they love him for it.
Lazio, incidentally, have only ever had one black player. So none of this is new. But it was, I thought, at least meant to be getting better.
The 'uproar' over the BBC's screening of Jerry Springer – The Opera has reached new levels, with BBC executives now being protected after threats of violence were made. The opera contained frequent swearing and a slightly odd reference to Jesus.
This marks another disturbing example of the gross intolerance seeping from the conservative right. We have always known that the right wing harbours all sorts of unpleasant, intolerant, homophobic, racist and sexist thinkers. But it seems now that the 'nasty side' of the right may be running things.
The campaign against Jerry Springer – The Opera has been spearheaded by MediaWatch UK, Mary Whitehouse's old gang of puritans and troglodytes. If you disagree with their behaviour (including flooding the BBC with more than 50,000 complaints about a programme before it was screened), try visiting their website (incidentally, this is likely the worst website in entire world. It has a warning on it stating that sometimes the links aren't right because you need to have a '/' rather than a ". Why don't you just fix your links, you bunch of stupid maniacs???) as often as possible. This will slow down their server, and maybe cause them to use too much bandwidth. I advise that for this task, use the Firefox browser. This browser allows you to set an auto reload once every second for a website.
Alternatively, you could telephone them on 01233 633936 as often as possible to explain how you don't much like a tiny minority group of extremists trying to control your television stations.
Australian Prime Minister, 'Little' John Howard wowed the world's press yesterday with a show of affection for the victims of Boxing Day's disaster. In short, he made it clear that he wasn't really interested in relieving debts owed by the countries affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Even the US has been wiser than this, and has certainly sought to appear amenable to almost any idea that would make it look benevolent.
One has to ask: how long can Australia continue to act as if it is not part of Asia? The attitude of Howard's right wing coalition government is hostile to its Asian neighbours, but friendly to the US which lies thousands of miles away. It's not a stance that will end happily.
The aid effort to tsunami hit Asia is now fully underway. As might be expected, the US bloggers are full of pride for their great nation's contributions and righteous indignation that they could ever be criticised for anything. The fact is that prior to today's military assistance, the US had contributed relatively little to the aid effort. The 2001 attacks on New York merited $5 bn of aid. The Asian tsunami merited $350 m of aid. There is no reason, no excuse and no argument for this gross discrepancy. It certainly looks as if some lives are more valuable than others.
On Friday morning, I realised a long held dream and had Sky TV installed. We did it mainly because Spanish television is absolutely awful. Spanish TV is real lowest common denominator stuff: seventy percent of it is made up of celebrity gossip/studio chat shows. So Gemma and I hankered after something decent to watch together. Now, for about 1â‚¬ a day, we have hundreds of channels to choose from.
The most I can say about all this choice is that though there is (of course) a hell of a lot of rubbish on satellite TV, if you have 300 channels you can almost guarantee that there will be at least one thing to watch. We've seen Little Britain, Seinfeld, Airplane!, Friends, The Fast Show, etc etc… plus the news and numerous MTV channels. I'm very happy with it.
Plus, I can put the sound through our stereo system and have excellent sound. OK maybe I'm sounding like a bit of a nerd, but you cannot possibly understand how nice it is to be able to watch TV for the first time in years.