The Bite of History

Time. Each of us views time differently, depending on our cultural world-view. In the West, time is linear. In the East, it's circular, and the past, present, and future co-exist. Much has been talked about this weekend of the Armistice, signed a hundred years ago this past Sunday, ending what was then called the Great War, and is now known as World War I. What was to have been the war to end all wars merely became the prelude to another century of war, this time practiced on a much larger and much more cruel scale. 

When I was a little girl, reading my scrumptious history books, the War seemed a short while ago. Anything after 1900 was not old. After all, it had only been sixty years. There were still people living that would march in parades on Veteran's Day that had fought in the War. And now, suddenly, it's a hundred years behind us, and the last eyewitness, unless a very young child at the time, and a very old person now, has passed into Time itself. 

It was a selfish w…

He Still Breathes

The last time there was an assassination in Spain, was when Admiral Carrillo Blanco, head of Franco's government, was blown sky high by ETA back in 1973. Those were the last days of the dictatorship, when people were trying to shake off the grey yoke of Franco, and bring Spain forward into the light of the rest of Europe, and ETA decided to take advantage of that social unrest. 

Juan Prim in 1870, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo in 1897, José Canalejas in 1912, and Eduardo Dato in 1921, were the previous heads of government assassinated by anarchists and republicans during convulsed social moments in Spanish history. The latest moment of social tension is happening this year, between francoists and less nostalgic people, over the exhumation of Franco from his Valle de los Caídos, the Valley of the Fallen. 

When earlier this year, the new Socialist government announced its intention of removing Franco's body from the monument he created to those fallen in the Civil War, and where pe…

Partiality Rules

The Spanish judiciary is coming under fire from all sides lately. The truth is, judges are smacking of everything except impartiality. The latest ruling on a case in which they had to determine who pays the tax on a new mortgage, has shown that many judges prefer to maintain the status quo on the power of the banking industry.

The case was originally decided that, because of a change of wording in tax law four years ago, the client was not supposed to pay the tax. The Supreme Court judges ruled last month that the banks should pay it. This tax, in Spain, is on 1.5% of the value of the mortgage taken out, and can reach a few thousand euros. In other countries, it's a much lower percentage. Up till now, the client has had to pay it. This ruling was supposed to change that. It also opened the door to retroactive refunding of the tax paid in the last four years. The bank would have to pay the clients the amount of tax they had paid when they signed the mortgage. 

But the banks never los…

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The natural state of mankind is chaos and selfishness. That is the conclusion I have come to after the election of Bolsonaro to the Brazilian presidency, and the rise of neo-fascist groups just about everywhere in the world. Most of these groups are really authoritarian, rather than simply fascist. They embrace the free market, mostly in their own interests, while they promote love of country above all other things. The most striking similarity with the old fascist way of thinking is the hatred of equality and individualism. 

Their rise in these later years, might be seen as a reaction to the increase in personal and political freedoms embraced by the West since the end of the Second World War. Like previous fascism, most of these movements are spurred by fear and hatred of change, and loss of privilege. Whether they succeed or not in their design, depends on how much those who have the least privilege fight to be able to better their lot. At the moment, political apathy seems to be ga…

Stop it With the Pumpkin, Already!

If the United States can go overboard, it will. If the rest of the world can copy it, it will, too. Not only does the rest of the world copy the clothes, it also copies the foods. Fast foods of all kinds, with all different kind of flavors, have appeared all over the world. Fast food franchises, from McDonald's to KFC, to even Dunkin' Donuts, have opened up in a great number of foreign cities. 

When a craze appears in the U.S., it spreads everywhere, and touches everything. I have read that pumpkin flavored foods are in every supermarket once September hits. Some of the foods thus flavored are too weird to even think about. Pumpkin pie cheesecake ice cream? Greek pumpkin pie yoghurt? Pumpkin spice English muffins? Pumpkin spice coffee creamer? Pumpkin spice liqueur? Pumpkin spice cream cheese spread? Pumpkin wine?? Mexican chile pumpkin mole?? Pumpkin spice Kahlua?? Pumpkin pie spice butter spread?? Pumpkin spice puffed corn???? Have we gone insane with the pumpkin? 

Well, the c…

Farewell, My Lovely Brewsky!

Beer is going the way of the dodo bird. 

I'm sure that sounds like the ultimate catastrophe to many. That foamy beer after work, with friends, on a sultry summer's afternoon, will become a luxury item until it disappears altogether. Nooo! Well, yes.

It's really an idea that has been around for a few years. A few days ago a study came out showing it is true. The quantity of hops and barley will wither thanks to climate change. When one stops to think about it, it's really very simple and predictable. The hotter temperatures don't only affect us, with simmering heat waves and increased storms, they also affect our crops. So, climate change affects us in more ways than one. It also affects our stomachs and our taste buds.

In 2009, it was estimated that crops were moving north about a quarter of a mile a year. That means that the ideal growing zones for a specific crop were changing. Soy and corn crops were moving north into areas previously planted with barley, and were …

Saint Barbara, Pray for Us

Rain is a primal part of Galicia from late September onwards. My husband tells stories of winters that began in the middle of September and let up only when June arrived. Winters of days that awoke in rain, and went to bed in rain. Winters of only a few days when the sun could be seen. Winters of water.

The weather is now changing, and in these past years, October has been an oasis of summer. Perhaps that is also changing our mindset, and we have begun to assume that the rains of winter won't arrive until much later. Which is why, when a cold front with its associated rain and wind passed by last week, we were surprised. 

We were mostly surprised because we were caught off guard. The morning after the intense rainfall, I went out and saw many people cleaning the debris from gutters that had overflowed, and saw where rain and mud had crossed the road because of stuffed up ditches. Most of the small floodings that happened were due to ditches and gutters that had filled up with the tr…