Thursday, 31 July 2008

Breakfast at Tiffany's

It's a bore, but the answer is good things only happen to you if you're good. Godd? Honest is more what I mean. Not law-type honest - I'd rob a grave, I'd steal two-bits off a dead man's eyes if I though it would contribute to the day's enjoyment - but unto-thyself-type honest. Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I'd rather have cancer than a dishonest heart. Which isn't being pious. Just practical. Cancer may cool you, but the other's sure to.

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958)

I just finished Capote's controversial short novel on the finest "girl-about-New York" that ever was: Holly Golightly. Now I feel ready to watch one of the best films of all times displaying Audrey Hepburn breakfasting at Tiffany's. Julie Roberts needs to learn so much from both starlets!

Holly Golightly's philosophy is strikingly pure (honest, she would say) and her stark monologue to her best friend the writer on her love for José is absolutely brilliant. Capote writes the novel in first person and the storyteller poses himself as the fallen-in-love best friend of the beautiful, wild Holly.

Love and freedom.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Gorgeous weekend in Devon

Last weekend I escaped the big smoke into the English countryside to relax after the stress of the exams. The huggable, adventurous Paddington bear (oh, where are those childhood years now!) saw me off at Paddington Station not without providing me with some marmalade sandwiches for the train journey (and some wine to down them with!). And there I was heading for Devon, in the South West of England, to spend a lovely weekend with S. in a pictoresque spot by the sea called Shaldon.

Shaldon is a quaint English fishing village, nestled on the estuary where the river Teign meets the sea. Its cosy Georgian houses with beautiful names ("Sea Peep", "Forever Cottage", "Magnolia" or "Corner Cottage"), the scent of sea in the air and the polite bonhomie of the villagers, reminded me of summer holidays in the 19th century, of those black-and-white bathing resorts where light yet careful formality allowed great films such as Monsieur Hulot's Holidays.

BBC's forecast was fortunately wrong again and a greeted us the entire weekend. After a nice cappucino in the village we walked for an hour by the cliff peeping at the sea horizon and enjoying the company of some cows. On our return, we lay down to get sunburnt at the local, "secret" beach called The Ness. I say "secret" because to access this beautiful, somewhat secluded sandy strech you have to go through a pirate-style tunnel which apparently was built in the Napoleonic years.

[I'll carry on tomorrow.]

Love and freedom.

PS. I have made mine my father's style of mentioning people in his blog by their initials.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Abrevaderos: La Nacivera

This is one the abrevaderos (troughs) that have shaped up my life and given name to this blog:

La Nacivera (name that may come to mean "The Source").

Love and freedom.

Stevie's blog

I was gladly surprised when I saw in the Technorati feeder a "blogger reaction" (someone recommending you in their blogs) to my blog that I wasn't aware of. But I should have guessed who it was. My eyes got moist as I checked that my friend Steve had a blog since 2006 and that he has been updating it all the way to date (with a far better display of English than me). I obviously have added to the recommended sites list (Steej-musings) and I'll keep an eye on it from now on.

Thanks, mate. Let's carry on with the chess game.

Love and freedom.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Sigma2 and its embarrasing level of English

SigmaDos (Sigma2) is a well-known Spanish polling company which is used by various media (eg, El Mundo) and other organisations.

Sigma 2 was commissioned by The Times to undertake an opinion poll just before the 2008 Spanish national elections. The poll results were published in both internet and paper formats of The Times two days before the elections; this generated huge expectation as the Spanish media are barred from publishing opinion polls in the five days leading up to the election.

I read the report with the results that very same day that was published and I couldn't believe the extremely poor level of English used. I couldn't help send the following email to Sigma2.

Embarrasing errors at the Sigma2 opinion poll report published in The Times (07/03/2008)

Dear Sir,

I have read the results of the opinion survey on the Spanish elections carried out by Sigma2 and published by The Times.
I have noted so many spelling mistakes and grammar errors in the English used at that report that it could be considered that the language used was Spanglish. This fact is being already mocked at in some internet blogs.

It might be that the use of Spanglish were exactly your intention in order to make the report readable by Spaniards, but I do not think this is the case as the word "majourity" (which is more similar to the French than to the Spanish) was repeatedly used.

I strongly advise you ensure that your deliverables are properly corrected for accuracy of the figures and clean writing.

I work my ass off every day to show those who know me that the Spanish are not only lazy party-goers who only think in sangria, beaches and siesta. But every day as well, I find new cases that shovel embarrasment on. Call me a pedant if you think so, but honestly their lack of professionalism and due care embarrased me as Spaniard. They are paid to be professional!!

Love and freedom.

De las verguenzas de la Alta Inspección del Estado de Espana

La Alta Inspección de Educación constituye, o, al menos, así debería ser, una de las principales herramientas para verificar que las Comunidades Autónomas cumplen la normativa estatal en materia de enseñanza. Sin embargo, hace años que este cuerpo de altos funcionarios del Estado está algo «raquítico», especialmente tras la última reforma educativa del 2006 del PSOE, que suprimió de un plumazo varias de las competencias que la anterior Ley de Calidad de la Educación atribuía a la Alta Inspección; algunas tan esenciales como «comprobar que los currículos, así como los libros de texto y demás material didáctico se adecuan a las enseñanzas comunes» (art.104.1 f) LOCE), o la de «velar por el derecho de los ciudadanos a recibir enseñanza en la lengua oficial del Estado» (art. 104.1 a) LOCE).

En este contexto, no puede extrañar que cada vez haya más casos de incumplimiento flagrante de los derechos constitucionales, y de la normativa estatal que los desarrolla, en las Comunidades gobernadas por nacionalistas, solos o en coalición con el PSOE, en particular por lo que respecta al derecho constitucional al uso de la lengua común del Estado.

[...]El Tribunal Constitucional tuvo ocasión de pronunciarse sobre las funciones de la Alta Inspección en una de sus primeras sentencias, de la que fue ponente el magistrado D. Francisco Tomás y Valiente. Dicha sentencia, (núm. 6/1982 de 22 febrero) afirma que: «las competencias de las CCAA no sustraen en ningún caso a los órganos centrales del Estado la competencia exclusiva para regular las condiciones básicas que garanticen la igualdad de todos los españoles en el ejercicio de los derechos y en el cumplimiento de los deberes constitucionales, entre los cuales se encuentra el de conocer la lengua del Estado (artículo 149.1.1ª en relación con el artículo 3.1. CE). Es forzoso, por tanto, concluir que la Alta Inspección puede ejercerse legítimamente para velar por el respeto a dichas normas estatales y, por consiguiente, también para velar por el respeto a los derechos lingüísticos (entre los cuales está, eventualmente, el derecho a conocer la lengua peculiar de la propia Comunidad Autónoma) y en particular el de recibir enseñanza en la lengua del Estado.»

Pilar López Marco, La Alta Inspección de Educación no da la talla (21/07/2008)

I am glad to know that there is someone else with voice in a political party that shares mine and my dad's views.

Love and freedom.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

El Estado salvavidas

Ahora, de nuevo, se pone de manifiesto que, en periodos de crisis, recesión o depresión, el Estado es el agente económico clave. El propio The Economist se tragaba el sapo de la sacrosanta no intervención la semana pasada, y decía que los controles públicos sobre nuestra banca han puesto a mejor resguardo a nuestros bancos, mientras que en Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido están sumamente acongojados a la espera del próximo batacazo.

O sea, que mayores controles es mejor y más prudente, de repente. De pronto, todos keynesianos e intervencionistas, desde la Reserva Federal de Bernanke al oráculo de la prensa liberal anglosajona. Parafraseando al atribulado españolito que de pronto accede a la libertad política tras años de paternalismo y dictadura franquista, cabe decir que "libre mercado, sí, pero dentro de un orden".

José Ignacio Rufino, El Estado salvavidas (12/04/2008)

Mi comentario al articulo fue el siguiente:

Me parece que está usted exagerando el comentario de The Economist. Los controles públicos regulan y deben hacerlo como un árbitro controla un partido de fútbol o como la agencia anti-dopping controla a los ciclistas. Pero la "no intervención" del Estado es algo de lo que The Economist todavía no ha renegado. Igual que no se puede ser juez y parte (no se debería permitir al menos), el Estado debe regular y arbitrar, pero no intervenir en el mercado. Precisamente porque el *libre* mercado es el mecanismo social de funcionamiento más democrático y efectivo que existe y porque la división de poderes y la segregación de funciones (regulador, arbitral, ejecutor) es aconsejable en todo sistema.

El Banco de Espanna ha regulado el mercado bancario que el FSA inglés y se le reconoce lo debido (al fin y al cabo es su trabajo). Pero las intervenciones en el juego económico del mismo Banco de Espanna, Bank of England y el Banco Central Europeo deberían ser limitadas al máximo.

Por último, si quiere decir "acojonados" en la última línea del penúltimo párrafo, escríbalo así. No tiene sentido usar la palabra "acongojados" erróneamente como eufemismo. Si "acojonados" le parece demasiado grosero para escribirlo, no tiene sentido que quiera que los lectores entiendan esa imagen; utilice "aterrados" en cambio, por ejemplo.


Love and freedom.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Emilio Botin: master of the universe

If you don’t fully understand an instrument, don’t buy it. If you would not buy a specific product for yourself, don’t try to sell it. If you do not know your customers very well, don’t lend them any money. If you do these three things, you will be a better banker, my son.

Emilio Botin, Banco Santander's President (10/07/2008)

You may laugh at his spoken English (his pronunciation is funny and terrible indeed), but Emilio Botin, Banco Santander's President, is a true "master of the universe" as described in The Bonfire of the Vanities.

And, however poor English accent he has, he has taught a couple of lessons to the financially savvy Britons as it has been dutifully recognised by the Financial Times (FT), The Economist and others.

The ICAEW announces the names of the candidates who pass the ACA exams in the FT and for that reason my name has already appeared a couple of times. I keep a salmon-coloured FT page with my name printed in tiny font. But I still have a long, long way to go to cause as important headlines as Botin. Besides, I have no English to show off either!!

Love and freedom.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Day-dreaming with bull races

I know I should be focusing on next week's exams, but I can't help day-dreaming with my villages' bullrunning festivals and races. I shiver with cold just thinking of the possibility of being hit by a bull. The smell of wild blood and uncontrolled strength is thrilling and the feeling of danger is exciting. I can picture myself in a situation where I have put the wrong foot and just within a tenth of a second of not paying absolute atention I am at the mercy of the bull. I can feel the time stop and my own mind talking to itself amidst the silence: my friend, we're going to die...

But will I have the courage to get closer to the limit, to put myself in risk of pain, to poke the Death asking for an extreme game? Why is that rush of adrenaline so appealing to men? Why do we feel a chemical in the first instance??

Dear readers, you shouldn't worry about this blog's writer. I am neither brave or skilful enough to dodge a bull and I am not silly/mad enough to cross the line that separates safety from challenge. You'll have to bear me for a long time yet.

Love and freedom.

AP used as propaganda outlet by Taliban

Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.

Thomas Mann

This cite above should be remembered by everyone living in peaceful Western countries who have forgotten already that freedom is not for free. I am sick of stories like this one:

An Associated Press (AP) photographer, Rahmatullah Naikzad, was a witness to a Taliban murder. [...] The AP was clearly used as a propaganda outlet for the Taliban Does this make him an accomplice or only a witness to the crime? When you know a crime is about to be committed, do you not have a moral and ethical obligation to try to prevent that crime? Even if you're a journalist? Even if all you do is try to call the authorities, in this case someone in the Afghani government or NATO?

Dr. Rusty Shackleford (14/07/2008)

Please read the article through first. It explains why this AP employee may be a accomplice rather than a witness.

The AP is another one of those main-stream media (MSM) that try to maintain neutrality in the presentation of the information, but that end up being manipulated by the totalitarians and showing a biased version of the facts.

Fortunately, the internet is still free and everyone (not only the evil-minded people) can make use of this network. There is a miriad of websites that have sprung to fight the battle of the ideas in this new edition of the clash of the Western and Islamic civilisations: the anti-Jihad websites.

Love and freedom.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

On one Slovenian blogger

Hidden costs drive me mad, but the total is still lower than elsewhere.
[...] All hidden charges included they are still by far the cheapest. To be honest... ridiculously cheap.

Klemen Drole (10/07/2008)

One of my work mates, a bright Slovenian lad, maintains a blog as a way to keep in touch with his friends back home. He writes his posts in Slovenian as his blog's primary target are Slovenian-speakers. Unfortunately, that election of language limits his potential audience and keeps us, non-Slovenian speakers from reading what he writes. It's the same dilemma that I faced when I started this blog, though my solution was different from his as I decided to write in English (explanation and reasons deferred for a future post). In any case, I had a quick chat about this with him the other day during my company's Summer ball and it seems the the conversation has given him food for thought.

Well, he's written his second post in English, precisely about one of my favourite topics (unfair ranting against corporations) and I was finally able to comment it (comment copied below).

Thanks for switching every now and then to English, mate: lots of your non-Slovenian acquaintances will now be able to understand your crazy

I hear lots of people complain about the hidden charges (not hidden costs - where were they before?) of the low-cost (rather no-frills) airlines. But I get worked up with their double standards with the benefits of capitalism/globalisation, because your conclusion is right: they are still ridiculously cheap. Just try and tell any of our parents that we'd be flying to countries ever-further away at an average of 6-8 flights per year!! They'd say we were crazy. But that's what we do now. People's memory is weak.

As Adam Smith (Lord have him in His glory) wrote, it isn't thanks to benevolence of the butcher that we have our dinner on the table, but thanks to his self-interest!!
You know what: long life to the colourful, low-cost airlines that enable us live the dream and live the world!! No matter how they do it, our freedom of choice is enhanced.

Love and freedom.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Playing footy with my workmates

Just came home from playing a football match of the inter-departmental league of my company. We won 8-0 today, beating the team which is bottom of the league. It was an easy game, but we didn't sleep through it as we wanted a clean sheet and to give a boost to our goal difference. We are now second of the league with a match played less than the team at the top of the table. We can still oust them from that spot if we beat them in the second half of the league.

The venue is luckily just 5 minutes from my flat, so I can come back home walking (rather, dragging myself) and have a shower soon.

I'm shattered, so I'm going to bed in 2 seconds.

Love and freedom.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Exams coming up

I am not able to write a lot these days because I'm supposed to be studying for a couple of exams. I will sit them on the w/c July, the 21st.

I'm looking forward to holidays on August, the 1st.

Love and freedom.