Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Burns night

Last Saturday my friend D. invited me to a Burns night at his London flat to celebrate Scotland's national day. A Burns night is a celebration of the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns and it is usually organised around a dinner.

Now that I have been documenting about Burns nights, I realised that D. acted as a perfect host and followed every step of this traditional supper.

Wearing his kilt he welcomed the guests and introduced them to one another so everyone felt at ease. The table was readily laid and everyone sat alternating sexes and preventing diners sitting next to known people. D. opened the event by mentioning the reason why we were celebrating the dinner (Burns' day) and the purpose of the gathering (raising money for the charity Hazel's Footprints), before one of the Scots recited the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Some bagpipes began to whistle in the background as D. carried a large plate with the haggis from the kitchen. The haggis is a traditional Scottish dish which consists in sheep bowels stuffed with sheep's pluck minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and salt, all boiled for about three hours and usually presented with neeps (mashed turnip) and tatties (mashed potatoes). Our supper menu was completed with a rich pudding made of porridge, double whipped cream and blueberries, watered with Scotch whisky and honey!

D. recited the Address To a Haggis by Burns while theatrically carving the haggis. Then amid the laughs of the guests, the haggis was given out and eaten (although some girls stared at it, sighed and rolled their eyes and had to be helped by their male companions, ay!).

During dinner the Scots read out some poems by Burns, and a threesome of South Africans sang some nursery songs in English and Afrikaans. D. had asked me to read out a Spanish poem. I thought about choosing one of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer's Rhymes, since Robert Burns is considered the first Romantic (or pre-Romantic) Scottish poet and Bécquer the most important Spanish Romantic poet. However, I finally selected Pablo Neruda's Poema XX from 20 love poems and a desperate song and translated it into (modern) English so everyone in the table could understand it. It was a success: a deep silence welcomed my voice reading one of the most beautiful poems in Spanish and I could see one or two hastily-swept tears when I looked around the table as I finished the poem.

Please sit back, feel the silence and share with us the Spanish and the English versions of Pablo Neruda's Poema XX:

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes está noche.
Escribir, por ejemplo: «La noche esta estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos».

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

Oír la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.

La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

Porque en noches como esta la tuve entre mis brazos,
mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa,
y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.

Pablo Neruda
Poem XX (I could write the saddest verses tonight.)

I could write the saddest verses tonight.
Write, for example: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars shiver, blue, in the distance".
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

I could write the saddest verses tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
In nights like this I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the boundless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

I could write the saddest verses tonight.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, even more immense without her.
And the verse sinks in the soul as dew on the pasture.

What matters that my love could not keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That is all. Far away someone is singing. Far away.
My soul is not happy with having lost her.

As though to bring her closer my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her, and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, those of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that is true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Another's. She may belong to another. As she was of my kisses before.
Her voice, her light body. Her boundless eyes.

I no longer love her, that is true, but maybe I love her.
Love lasts so short, and forgetting takes so long.

Because in nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is not happy with having lost her.

Even though this is the last pain that she makes me suffer,
And these are the last verses I write for her.

Love and freedom.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Rosa 10 interviewed by FJL

La inmensa mayoría de los españoles tiene claro que lo único que garantiza la igualdad de derechos y la libertad es la unidad de la nación española.
Rosa Díez, Interview by F.J.Losantos (23/01/2009)

Rosa Díez (Spanish MP for the young, national political party UPD) was interviewed on 23rd January 2009 by Federico Jiménez Losantos for his TV programme "The hour of Federico" in LDTV. I watched the interview via YouTube.

I agree with some bits of what Rosa Díez and UPD propose but I don't agree so much with other bits. In any case, Rosa Díez is convincing (it helps the fact that it seems that she believes in what she says) and UPD are a welcome addition to the Spanish political arena.

Love and freedom.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Friedman's "Free to choose"

La mayoría gobierna. Pero es un tipo bastante especial de mayoría. Está formada por una coalición de minorías con intereses especiales diferentes. El método para conseguir la elección para el Congreso consiste en reunir grupos de, digamos, el dos o el tres por ciento de los electores, cada uno de los cuales está muy interesado en un tema especial que difícilmente preocupa al resto de los votantes. Cada grupo estará dispuesto a votar a un candidato si éste promete apoyar este punto, sin considerar lo que haga respecto a otros temas. Si juntamos un número suficiente de estos grupos, alcanzaremos una mayoría de un 51 por ciento. Este es el tipo de mayoría que dirige el país.

Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to choose (1979)

I finished reading Free to choose by Milton and Rose Friedman about two weeks ago. The version I have read was the translation into Spanish by Carlos Rocha for the publisher Ediciones Orbis. I would like to share with you some paragraphs that I liked specially.

Following the discussion I had recently with my flatmate about the comparison between market-government, I bring the text below from the chapter Who protects the consumer?:

La intervención del estado en el mercado está sometida a sus propias leyes, no aprobadas por una Cámara, sino científicas. [...] Todo acto de intervención establece posiciones de poder. La forma en que ese poder será utilizado y con qué propósito, depende mucho más de las personas que ocupan la mejor posición para lograr el control de dicho poder que de las intenciones y objetivos de los patrocinadores iniciales de dicha intervención.

Es general la creencia errónea de suponer que el comportamiento de los organismos sociales se puede modelar a voluntad. Es el error fundamental de la mayoría de los denominados reformadores. Esto explica por qué piensan con tanta frecuencia que la culpa es del hombre, no del "sistema"; que la forma de resolver los problemas es "echar a los bribones a la calle" y poner en su lugar a personas animadas de buenas intenciones. Esto explica por qué sus reformas, cuando se efectúan ostensiblemente, acaban tan a menudo en vía muerta.

I absolutely recommend reading Free to choose. It has influenced a good deal the liberal/libertarian ideology.

Love and freedom.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Top 20 Bushisms

My job is a decision-making job, and as a result, I make a lot of decisions.

George W. Bush

You may say anything you want about the U.S. ex-president George W. Bush, but you can't deny we had fun with his Bushisms. Here you have a list of the "Top 20 gaffes by outgoing president George W Bush".

We libertarians are profoundly grateful to George W Bush, who has shown in his eight years of watch how useless the government is.

It's very to "hacer leña del árbol caído", but mind that nowadays The Times belongs ultimately to News Corporation, owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Love and freedom.

Friday, 23 January 2009

A postcard

He estado [13/12/2008] en la exposición 'Maeght y sus artistas' en la Royal Academy of Arts de Londres. Entre las importantes obras de arte abstracto expuestas, este famoso óleo de Joan Miró ["The Birth of Day I (Naissance du jour I)"] ocupaba un lugar destacado. Sabemos que el arte abstracto es difícil de entender y de apreciar, aunque a aveces sea innegablemente bello. Parece que el artista abstracto consiga comunicar una idea a través de una obra que precisa la colaboración del observador. ¿Quién es el artista entonces? En mi opinión una cosa es clara: el Artista es el Creador.
Published in the post Una postal of the blog De Espana... on 22 January 2009.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Members of Círculo Liberal

I have the pleasure to communicate that I have syndicated Abrevaderos to the blog aggregator Círculo Liberal.

This blog had not been syndicated before because I was unsure as to whether that would mean losing part of my freedom or whether that would expose this blog to the failures of other syndicated blogs. However, Círculo Liberal's introduction has calmed my worries for now:

Círculo Liberal is a simple blog aggregator born with the idea of grouping libertarian blogs. The membership to this aggregator depends entirely on the blogger's will, as long as the blogger and blog accept the following three basic ideas:

Defence of the individual liberties against any type of imposition.
Defence of the democracy against any type of dictatorship.
Defence of the limited state against the uncontrolled state or the lack of state.

I hereby accept the aforementioned three ideas. Thanks for accepting Abrevaderos to Círculo Liberal. Regards to all my fellow writers and readers.

Love and freedom.

Wealthy men give women more orgasms

"Women’s orgasm frequency increases with the income of their partner," said Dr Thomas Pollet, the Newcastle University psychologist behind the research.

He believes the phenomenon is an “evolutionary adaptation” that is hard-wired into women, driving them to select men on the basis of their perceived quality.

Jonathan Leake, Timesonline.co.uk (18/01/2009)

According to the article, this "fits into a wider body of research known as evolutionary psychology which suggests that both men and women are genetically predisposed to ruthlessly exploit each other to achieve the best chances of survival for their genes".

Love and freedom.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Unemployment record in Spain

Una frase corta resume el panorama: tanto empleo por año, como España en 2008, no había destruido ningún país europeo desde 1932, cuando la Alemania de Brüning vio destruir 1,3 millones en la Gran Depresión, siendo la clave del ascenso del nazismo.

M. Brena, De España hasta los cantares (08/01/2009)

Update on the gloomy Spanish unemployment rate (in Spanish).

Now we have left the year 2008 behind, INEM (National Employment Institute) has published the annual data on employment and social security. Last year was one of the worse years for the employment in Spain due to the economic crisis.

In 2008 the figure of unemployed people registered in INEM went up by 999,416 people to 3,128,963 people on the dole, a 46.9% increase on the 2007 unemployment figure. This the highest figure since the INEM register started, even higher than with the previous accounting methodologies for the unemployment; the latest method dates from 1996. The current figure is higher than the January 1988 record of 3,069,088 unemployed.

According to the Eurostat in November 2008, the unemployment rate in the European Union is 7.2% and in the euro-zone, 7.8%. Spain with its 13.4% is the Euro member with the highest unemployment rate for the seventh consecutive month. Slovakia is the second one with 9.1%; the lowest unemployment rates are in Holland (2.7%), Austria (3.8%), and Ciprus (3.9%).

Spain has the biggest unemployment increase from 8.6% to 13.4% in 2008; Poland's unemployment rate was slashed by 2% to 6.5%; Germany's one decreased by 1.2%.

Actually, the amount of unemployed people is much higher than 3,128,963 if we remove the make-up of the INEM figures, which don't include:
- employed people with limited availability or job-hunters with special work conditions, who amount to 150,680 people;
- "other unemployed" or temporary subsidised field workers: 237,757 people;
- unemployed workers who are undertaking training courses at INEM, trade unions and other institutions;
- workers affected by redundancies;
- first-job hunters.

In total a figure of roughly 1 million unemployed people who have disappeared from the statistics.

Even more, we could deduct from the figure of employed people those children who have been registered with the Social Security to be awarded school insurance (who shouldn't be counted as workers).

So how many unemployed are there in Spain actually?

Love and freedom.