dimecres, 31 de juliol de 2013

The Letter - Joe Cocker #Artur_Mas

We interrupt this series of rants, raves and placid summer vibes to offer those of you not bored out of their mind with "the Catalan Question", The Letter. After much prevaricating about the proverbial bush, the Catalan President has finally put in a formal request for an independence referendum. Here's the English version they have published - a translation which could do with a fine tuning, but ... cordially ...

Artur Mas, the President of Catalonia, sent a letter to Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on July 26, 2013, officially proposing negotiations to hold a referendum on  Catalonia decide its political future.
Most Honorable Sr. D. Mariano Rajoy Brey
President Government of Spain
Moncloa Palace 28071 Madrid
Dear President:
 The Catalan people's desire for self government is well known, and has been both demanded and exercised over the centuries. In the current democratic period, begun at the end of the last century, said desire was initially channeled through the Statute of Autonomy of 1979.
The Catalan Parliament passed a new proposal for a Statute of Autonomy in 2005 which was approved first by the Spanish Congress in 2006 and finally via referendum by the People of Catalonia. My personal involvement, although I did not act in an official capacity of the Government at that time, was, as is well known, during the entire negotation, to facilitate Catalonia's place within Spain.
The later ruling from the Spanish Constitutional Court diluted and to a large degree annulled the democratic will of the Catalan people expressed at the ballot booths, and gave firm evidence that it was impossible to continue developing Catalonia's self-government in the way it had up to that moment.
More recently, during the previous legislative session, the negative answer to any kind of negotiation with respect to a proposal of a Fiscal Pact, promoted by the Government of the Generalitat and approved by a wide margin of the Parliament of Catalonia, proved, once more, the Spanish State's inability to answer the proposals presented by Catalonia.
This blockage along with the most widely attended demonstration in the history of Catalonia last September 11 brought me to the conclusion that I must call snap elections so that Catalonia could freely and democratically decide its political future.
These last elections to the Parliament of Catalonia resulted in wide popular support, with a very high turnout—indeed the highest turnout in the history of this kind of elections—to various political powers which presented in their electoral platforms the need to exercise the right to decide.
The Parliament of Catalonia has demonstrated on various occasions during the present legislature, and with super majorities, the Catalan People's support for the right to decide and has established a mandate for dialogue and negotiation with the Government of Spain and with the objective of holding a democratic referendum. The recent constitution of the National Assembly on the Right to Decide demonstrated, concurrently, the wide support that this movement has among institutions, commercial and social organizations, and the civil society all throughout Catalonia.
The Advisory Council for National Transition, an organism created by the Government of the Generalitat and which is formed by distinguished members of our community, argues in its first report that there are legal methods that would allow such a referendum to be held. Because it is a high quality report whose content is of certain interest, I will take the liberty of making a copy available to you within a few days.
It is for all of the above that I believe there are favorable conditions for celebrating a referendum in Catalonia: widespread citizen and parliamentary support, the will to dialogue and negotiate, and the existence of legal frameworks in which it may be held.
I understand that when these circumstances occur, most certainly a product of a long historical trajectory that I described at the beginning of this letter, it is the duty of the public governmental representatives to forge the political will that would allow for a response to the legitimate, peaceful, democratic, and majority-held aspirations of a people, in our case, the Catalan people.
In our last meeting, I suggested that a political response to the Catalan people's democratic demands would be necessary. Today, I reiterate that to you in writing, with the same spirit of dialogue and negotiation as was present in our last meeting.
I am aware of your position against the celebration of a referendum, as you told me at our last meeting. Nevertheless, I understand at the same time that other countries—also in the European Union—have found ways of solving these kinds of challenges and realities democratically and legally. Spain should not be the exception to the rule.
Therefore, I express once again the need to open a dialogue and negotiation that would allow a celebration of to exercise the right to decide. a referendum of the People of Catalonia, in the shortest timeframe possible, within the legal framework that we establish.
Cordially,
Artur Mas Barcelona, July 26, 2013

dilluns, 29 de juliol de 2013

The sun ain't gonna shine anymore - Walker Bros #ForStupidDrivers

Estic dissenyant un cotxe nou. Primer i principal no s'anirà a cap banda si no has posat els cinturons de seguretat o si nota que vas begut o drogat. Despres tindrà un gadget que t'avisarà si passes la velocitat maxim en qualsevol punt de la xarxa viaria. Si no baixes la velocitat imediatament, s'enviarà un avis automatic a la policia i et treuran la multa del compte bancari de manera automatic. Si passa uns moments més sense baixar la velocitat, el cotxe es canviarà de color - fucsia - i sortirà una pantalla dient "Soc idiota".
Si aparques damunt de la vorera o un pas de vianants, tindràs un avis de 10 segons per deixar el cotxe abans que explota i està xuclat dins un forat negre.
Si el conductor gira el cap per a parlar en la gent que este asseguda en la part darrera del cotxe, sortirà un braç de robot i li fotrà una clatellada. Si intenta contestar o usar un telefo movil, sortirà un altre braç de robot, que agafarà el movil i se li ficarà a un part del cos del conductor on el sol no li arriba ....
....
Almost finished my design for a new car. Hopefully it'll be on the market next year. Let's run through a couple of the special aspects of it - firstly, the car will not start up if all the seat belts are not fastened, or if it whiffs the smell of alcohol or drugs on the driver. Secondly I'm installing a gadget which will warn you if, at any time, you're exceeding the speed limit. If this is so, and you don't slow down immediately, a message will be sent to the police and fine withdrawn from your bank account. If you still refuse to slow down, the car will become a bright pink colour and a screen will appear on the roof saying "I'm an idiot".
If you park your car on the pavement or a zebra crossing, you will receive a 10-second countdown to leave the car before it self-destructs and disappears into a black hole.
If you think you, as the driver, have to turn your head round to speak to those in the back seat, a robotic arm will come out and slap you on the back of your head. If you make any attempt to use a mobile telephone, another arm will appear which will then take your phone and place it in a part of your body where the sun don't shine ....

diumenge, 28 de juliol de 2013

dissabte, 27 de juliol de 2013

El pozo de Aran - Carlos Nuñez / Anabela

Regarding the tragic train accident in Galicia on Wednesday there is little I can add, or want to. Time will tell, and time may heal.
A bit of Galician music while we ponder on just how easy it is to be here one day, gone the next ....

divendres, 26 de juliol de 2013

Smoke on the water - Deep Purple #Fumar

Quan vaig aterrar aquí a Catalunya fa uns quants anys, tenia al cap l'imatge de la vida mediterranea, de café en café, de bar en bar, i a passar la vida com pots .... però despres d'uns mesos rapidament em va desil·lusionar perque vaig vore que els bars, restaurants, cafes, els llocs on estava aquesta vida imaginaria, estaven plens de fum i de fumadors. Poc a poc, vaig perdre l'habit d'anar a fer un cafe o dinar fora principalment per aquest motiu. Ara que per fi han prohibit fumar dins dels recintes, pos, ja és una mica tard per tornar a agafar habits que tenies de jove. I les terraces encara van plens de fumadors, cosa que tampoc m'atreu a l'epoca de l'estiu ... en fi.
Bé, tot aixo per explicar que em barrejo poc socialment en els tipics ambits i aixi no tinc ni idea si avui en dia hi ha més o menys fumadors que fa 20 anys. Però l'altre cap de setmana, vam sortir 3 nits seguides per passejar i prendre alguna cosa (a l'aire lliure) a les super-festes del Reneixement a Tortosa  i aixi vaig poder observar. I vaig flipar. Impressionant la quantitat de joves que fumen. No sé que ha fallat en el sistema educatiu per a que jovens de 18, 25 anys pensen que poden fumar i no els passarà res (o no passarà res als del voltant) - o per a que encara pensen que fumar els fa "grans" o més sexy!? Realment em va fer molta pena veure que fa no fa estem igual que sempre.
El diumenge vaig vore també que un paquet de cigarets pujarà de preu fins gairebé 5€. Massa poc. A Anglaterra, segur que ja deu rondar els 10€, i la gent encara fuma. Si, hi ha molts habits perillosos, però pocs tan clarament nocius com lo de fumar. Si, tenim dret a fer lo que nos doni la gana, pero que al segle 21 algu vulgui matar-se lentament i/o matar/molestar la gent del voltant, pos, que voleu que us digui.
També he vist que molts jovens fumen tabac solt, fent ells mateixos els cigarets - perque és més barat! Pos, precisament hauria de ser més car ja que és bastant més perillos per la salut. En fi, sembla que de vegades no avancem.
....
So, I first came here 20-something years ago looking forward to the Mediterranean lifestyle and café-culture. But my fascination with going out and socializing over a coffee/beer soon came to an end when I realised all the bars, cafés, restaurants were full of smoke and smokers. Little by little I've given up on going out for this reason. Nowadays, smoking is not allowed inside these establishments but this law has come about too late for me. And, it's still permitted outdoors on the street terraces etc which would be an ideal place to cool off over an iced drink in summer if it were'nt for the Hiroshima-style smoke cloud floating around.
So, I'm out of touch.
However, last week we went out three nights to enjoy the Tortosa Renaissance Festival, going from outdoor bar to outdoor bar and having a great time. And this gave me a chance to observe whether the smoking situation has changed. Well, it hasn't. I was amazed and shocked to see how many youngsters smoke, and heavily. Where has the education system failed when young 18-25 year olds still think smoking will not harme them, or me, or will actually make them look cool?! Sad.
Last week's newspaper said that the price of a packet of cigarettes was going up to 5€. I think this is pathetically low, in the UK I'm sure it's almost 10€ and people still smoke. Yeah, yeah, there are lots of harmful things we do and nobody tries to ban them - but how many are so clearly and scientifically-proven to just be nails in your coffin, and mine? Yeah, yeah, freedom of choice etc, but freedom to harm/annoy..?
To top it all, now many youngsters roll their own cigarettes, claiming it's cheaper. Well, it should be more expensive as it's even more harmful than smoking manufactured ones.
Here endeth the rant.

City Girl - Kevin Shields #Googlespam #LostTranslating



Fa unes dècades ens van dir que els robots acabarien fent tota la feina i natros estaríem descansant tot el dia en una hamaca. Pos, resulta que no ha sigut així. No obstant això, hi ha diversos àmbits de la vida on si que han fet espai els robots ... per exemple, en el tema de la traducció. Hi ha mil i un programes informàtics que pretenen poder fer la feina del traduir d’una llengua a una altra. 
Pos, avui només us volia avisar que serveixen de ben poc! És difícil apreciar el malament que encara funcionen (suposo que aniran millorant) si no domines les dos llengües però de veritat us puc assegurar que fan traduccions fatals. Evidentment entre dos llengües d’un mateix arrel, com poden ser els que un dia van sortir del llatí, poden tenir més èxit – però encara així, haureu vist que les traduccions del castellà al català més bé semblen estar redactades en catanyol.
Però el tema és més greu quan mirem les traduccions entre dos llengües totalment diferents com són el català i l’anglès. L’estrany, per mi, són aquestes empreses que continuen usant el Google Translator per traduir les seves pagines webs, menus, fulls d’informació – fins i tot cartes i emails! Em diuen, no cal ser purista Brian, que l’important és comunicar. Pos, jo els contesto: (1) de vegades ni s’arriba a comunicar correctament per culpa dels errors i malentesos que poden haver-n’hi, (2) si arribes a “comunicar”, potser el client/empresari pensarà que està comunicant amb un idiota (la gent rarament entenen les dificultats per parlar la seva llengua i així cada petit error es magnifica en la seva opinió de tu), (3) en un món on tots estem competint, creus que el client anirà a una empresa que no ha pres la molèstia de fer la feina ben feta, o a aquella que ha tingut cura de la llengua i presentació de la feina?
Aquí un parell d’errors que hem vist en pocs dies: un artista parlant de que “mima cada detall”, pos, a la pagina web en anglès diu “spoiling every detail” – malmetre tots els detalls!
O aquesta frase en un altre web que bàsicament no té cap sentit! "The easiest way to back up if you fall into the water where they touch the ground standing
En una altra pagina web que està venent kayaks i canoes, la versió anglesa parla de “cars” – cotxes!! Gràcies a Google.
O simplement una frase agafada a l’atzar de les noticies d’avui en anglès:
"Tour trucks for Bruce Springsteen were given parking tickets ahead of his concert in Leeds."
En català ens dona: "Camions turístic de Bruce Springsteen rebre multes d'estacionament abans del seu concert a Leeds."
Es pot entendre? Potser si, però vols que la teva pagina web “només” es pot entendre?
...
Remember those black and white films where they told us the future would be ours for the taking, watching the robots do the work while we sip a cocktail? Well, it ain’t so. However, the few odd machines and gadgets have crept into our lives. I have a bone to pick with one such “robot”, though, and believe its inventors have been reading too much Douglas Adams. The (in)famous Google Translator.
OK, maybe between two languages with a common Latin root (French and Catalan etc) it can throw up an acceptable job - though far from perfect -, but in most cases (English to anything, and visa versa), it’s not worth the bytes it takes up. It’s hard to appreciate just how bad a job it does (hopefully it will improve) if you do not have a good understanding of the two languages you are working with, but believe me, it leaves a lot to be desired. The funny, or sad, thing is how many people believe this is good enough for the foreign language versions of their websites, tourist leaflets, menus, even letters and emails!
They say, well Brian, at the end of the day it’s all about communication, not grammar accuracy. To which I answer (1) yeah, but with some of the confusing options it throws out, I’m sure communication is often not achieved or it can even lead to misunderstandings, (2) yeah, communicate – but you may be giving the impression to your client that they are communicating with an idiot, and (3) which company would you choose? The one who can’t be bothered to show a basic respect for other languages or the one who’s offered a mistake-free easily understandable and well-presented service?
Today’s rant has come about after seeing a few Big Mistakes recently – for example, a Catalan artist’s web page talks about him “taking care of every detail” in his work in the Catalan version, but the Google-translated English web page says “spoiling every detail”!
Checking out another web page about buying canoes and kayaks, in English they talked about buying a car!
Taking a random sentence from today’s Catalan news, Google translator offers me this in English: “After last year the Venice has some of the heavyweights of American cinema of the season, the festival runs Alberto Barbera still no sacred cows edition of the classic Hollywood stamp cosmopolitan festival, by force must return to limelight charge.
Understand it? Maybe. But do you really want people reading this level of English on your website?



divendres, 19 de juliol de 2013

Summer Spanish Guilty Pleasures Selection!



Fa dies que escolto el disc que he pogut descarregar gratis (i legal) des del fascinant web La Voz Telúrica. Han preparat un disc amb versions de “pop lleuger” espanyol, fetes per cantants i grups relativament nous i, per mi, poc coneguts. Pel que entenc, allò que ells diuen “musica ligera” deu ser com quan a Anglaterra parlem de Guilty Pleasures (plaers que comporten una certa culpabilitat o sensació de vergonya, seria una traducció barata). Vull dir, aquella música que si que et genera un plaer i de la que disfrutes a tope, però en privat!! Música que no pots, o no podies, exlicar als amics ja que no era ni Bob Dylan ni Joy Division ni cap altre grup acceptat pels gurus de la musica, sinò The Carpenters, Showaddwaddy, ELO etc, i tota la tropa que pots trobar als concursos de Eurovision!. Grups que simplement feien alguna cançó enganxosa i divertit sense cap pretensió de ser els musics més bons del mon, ni escriure lletres mereixedors de Shakespeare.
Afortunadament - no sé si internet ha tingut alguna cosa que veure en això – avui en dia, el tancament en banda dels gustos musicals i les lliçons dels gurus sobre musics bons vs musics dolents gairebé no existeix. Molta gent som capaços de escoltar a Pink Floyd de mati, Motorhead a migdia, i acabar la nit amb Abba.

En fi, pel que entenc, la “musica ligera” deu ser això, aquelles cançons que fa uns anys no podies esmentar en public perquè son dels iaios, de xiquets, o dels grups “venuts”, però que realment ens agraden!

Escoltant aquest LP, però, jo parteixo d’una base molt diferent que la majoria de gent, i així no puc tenir cap prejudici ni sentiment de culpabilitat/vergonya. Per a començar, rarament escolto música en castellà. Per més inri resulta que dels cantants originals només em sonen 3 o 4 noms, i de les cançons, cap. Així que els puc jutjar realment com lo que són; cançons. Dels grups nous que han fet les versions, tampoc conec cap! I, la meva conclusió és que ... el LP és molt bo !! Perfecte per unes tardes de l’estiu quan vols escoltar alguna cosa relaxant i original. No perdré més temps evaluant les una per una, perquè no és la meva especialitat, no treballo pel Rolling Stone, i crec que cada u viu la musica d’una manera diferent, però si voleu us dic quines son les pistes que més m’han atret i així si la descarragueu (per que no? és gratis, i a més em consta que els organitzadors del web s’han currat molt durant tot un any per aconseguir que 20 grups els graven i envien aquestes cançons amb el simple motiu de difondre la bona musica!!) podem comentar-ho. Mira, m’encanten les pistes Resistiré, Puerta de Amor (a l’estil Depeche Mode?), Señor, Dile. Aneu al web aquí si us sembla una bona proposta! Felicitats a tothom que ha tingut alguna cosa a veure en aquest projecte!!
Ei, i una menció especial per la Fardaxa (cançó no. 20), una noia que té arrels ebrencs i està fent bon camí en el mon de la musica :)
...
...
One of my favourite music blogs I follow for Catalan, Spanish and International stuff, is La Voz Telúrica. The authors have spent a year getting in touch with new relatively-unknown groups to see if they would record versions of classic Spanish pop songs, to be released this summer via a free legal download on the webpage. The result is this- free here to get!!
According to the webpage this is “musica ligera”, light music, and on further reading I take this to mean classic pop hits from the 60s and 70s which were loved at their time but have since fallen out of favour as they are not Cool - until now! I’d compare it to the Guilty Pleasures concept in English music – should we feel guilty about listening to Showaddywaddy instead of Bob Dylan? Until now, those “in the know” would have laughed at any cool youngster with Abba on his MP3 player – but nowadays it seems that the circle has closed and at last it’s accepted that we can all just enjoy whatever we want and forget what’s fashionable and what ain’t. Motorhead in the morning , and The Carpenters in the afternoon. So what?!
Anyway, I’ve never been a really big fan of Spanish music so I come at this LP from a different angle, with no “guilt” or “baggage” at all to weigh on my opinions. Don’t know the songs, the original artists, or the new ones! So I’m simply listening to it as a collection of songs which may just as well have fallen off the back of a bus. And my conclusion? It’s good stuff – well worth a free download! Hardly a Rolling Stone review, I know, but I’d rather you made your own mind up! I will mention my fave tracks though if you insist: Resistiré, Puerta de Amor, Señor, Dile.
So, if you want some perfect summer easy listening to make those heatwaves more bearable, or you want to practice your Spanish, this is the LP for you!
And congratulations to all those involved! Download here on this webpage.
Here's the back cover of the CD for track-listing and , in brackets, the original artists; and below, a couple of songs:



dimarts, 16 de juliol de 2013

Concert per a Catalunya #PuntDeVistaD'unAnglès

Suposo que si aquest és un blog mitjament musical, fet a Catalunya, hauria de dir alguna cosa sobre el mega-concert per la Llibertat/Independencia ... han passat uns dies sense dir res basicament perque (a) no ho vaig vore tot, (b) no tinc gaire cosa a dir, i (c) em fa una mica de mandra, però, en fi, avui toca.
Que s'hagi ajuntant 400 artistes i 90.000 fans (pagant) i un bon grapat de politics (gratis?) per un concert de musica a favor de la independencia és un bon senyal. Senyal que la gent vol tirar endavant.

Amb referencia a la musica, ja se sabia abans de començar que faltaria molts grups/cantants catalans "de moda" ja que estem damunt de l'estiu i tenen altres coses al cap (o temors de les boicots a Espanya?). Dels que van tocar, bé, vaig mirar/escoltar més o menys el primer meitat del concert - malhuradament no vam poder anar pero ho teniem de fons a la tele i radio en un "acte social" que estavem disfrutant amb familia i amics - pero ja ens vam cansar despres d'un parell d'hores i vam dedicar-nos a la nostra festa.
De totes formes, amb lo que vaig sentir, i lo que despres he llegit a premsa o vist per YouTube em faig l'idea.
Era molt diferent del que jo esperava. Criat amb els concerts de LiveAid, Free Nelson Mandela, memories de Woodstock, Concert for Bangladesh, els de la Illa de Wight etc, pos, sempre m'imagino els mega-concerts com una orgia de pop/rock i ganes de passar-ho bé de principi al fi. I si vols canviar el mon amb un concert, que millor que Rock Till You Drop! Diuen que el concert davant 300.000 persones de Bruce Springsteen a l'Alemanya de l'est va ser el detonant per la caiguda del Mur de Berlin.
Pos, aqui no. La majoria de cançons en la primera part era acustics i/o de folk - de totes formes un concert on la gent esta sentada en cadires ja pinta malament per a començar!! L'imatge de la gent assentada al mig del camp en cadires de fusta o passejant amunt i avall donava a entendre que no anavem a viure una bona nit musical! L'escenari també mereix una nota negativa per mi - molt poetic i simbolic, tantes escales, pero l'important eren els musics que gairebé no es veien.
Més queixes - quins rotllos de discursos entre canço!
I que la segona part este dedicat a Lluis Llach basicament ja explicava tot, que aixo era una "copia i enganxa" dels concerts que venim fent des de Franco.
En resumen, no vull ser aigua-festes ni criticar una cosa que no he viscut, però dono un 10 per l'objectiu i el missatge, i un 5 pel concert.
....
A couple of weeks back Catalonia took another Major Public Step on the road to Independence. A concert for Independence in front of 90.000 people in Camp Nou! Over 400 artists took part, and it lasted about 6 hours! Unfortunately we were unable to go but managed to hear some of it live on TV or the radio.
Big surprise for me, though, as I sat back expecting a Mandela/LiveAid/Woodstock rock'n'roll party was to see how dull it was - or at least the bit I saw. Should have seen it coming I suppose when you see the spectators on the pitch were sitting on wooden chairs and strolling about between songs - during the LONG speeches each singer felt obliged to make.
Yeah, the objective was great and fulfilled, a truly emotional cry for freedom was heard, but boy, was ths concert boring! Most of the songs in the bit I  saw were either folk songs (going all the way back to the 60s) or acoustic ones. Very few acts Rocked!
The stage itself, as you will see, was far too artistic and symbolic (what do step-ladders mean then? mm, difficult one ...), and the artists became secondary to the aim. Which I suppose doesn't matter. We're one step closer to independence but hopefully when we get there we'll celebrate it with a Rock/Pop Concert and not some kind of boy-scout singalong (with all due respect for boy-scouts).
Anyway, after a rummage through YouTube here's some of stuff ...(for more just search for "Concert Per a la Llibertat")

dilluns, 15 de juliol de 2013

Thieves like us - New Order #Cheats

Aquests dies de l'estiu mentre no tenim futbol, tots estem gaudint de l'espectacle de Rajoy i Barcenas. Però hi ha més noticies que també ens poden donar una pista de com hem arribat fins aqui ... com podem esperar res dels nostres "liders" si molta gent, per no dir gairebé tothom, veu normal el fet de fer trampes allà on poden?
La setmana passada, va dir que repetirien les proves per ser policia local a Barcelona perque alguns havien fet trampa - "ja que no hi havia prou vigiliancia"!! Increible, resulta que els futurs policies també són una banda de xoriços i els hem de vigilar!
Cada any sento els famosos rumors de gent que fa trampes en examens, fins i tot a l'universitat! O que intenten comprar titols en anglès per no haver de aprendre!
Tal com tots sabem, molta gent fa trampes cada dia en questions d'ingressos, imposts, la renta etc - i el pitjor de tot és que ho diuen! Segur que a altres paisos també hi ha de gent aixi. Per exemple, més d'un deu haver-n'hi a Anglaterra pero estic bastant segur que no ho diria en public. O sigui, si vols robar o fer l'idiota, almenys siguis hipocrita i fes vore que no, a vore si els teus fills potser seran honrats. Igual amb la gent que continuament fa trampes conduint - aparcant on els dona la gana, saltant les normes, i tot aixo davant dels ulls dels seus fills. 
O aquell professor d'un institut que en un viatge final de curs va dir als alumnes que en el pais que havien anat, no calia pagar bitllet de tren perque ningu ho controlava!
Torno a dir, despres com volem que els politics i directors de banc siguen angels? Abans d'exigir res als de dalt, per que no mirem el que fem natros i el que mereixem ...
...
So, Spain is in the international news at last. Turns out (presumably) that the governing party (PP) have been receiving backhanders from businessmen, for public work contracts and other favours, for over 20 years. These backhanders were then (presumably) shared out in envelopes full of cash amongst party leaders and anyone else with their nose in the trough! All this if we are to believe their ex-treasurer, currently in jail and releasing all kinds of fascinating smut and gossip on a daily basis!
But, let's do some thinking out of the box ... why are we constantly hearing claims of corruption in high places? Maybe it's something deeper .... just last week, Barcelona had to re-set entrance exams for local police candidates as half of them had been cheating! The excuse - their was no one controlling the exam room!! So, we now need people to check policemen don't cheat in exams!? What's going on?! Bring back the stocks for people like this!
Ranting on ... every year I (as a teacher) hear believable rumours of kids cheating, but worse than all, university students! Even university students who buy English qualifications on the black market!
Who's never heard someone openly talk about fiddling the system, or fiddling a customer. Not paying taxes, paying cash (how many professional workers refuse to take credit card payments?), fiddling tax returns; not only are these common, but also bragged about. Which is worse, in my opinion. I'm sure many English people cheat and fiddle, but I'm not so sure they would brag about it as being a good thing! Cheat, but keep it quiet please! Be hypocritical, and maybe your kids will grow up to be honest ....
And all those who "cheat" in their cars, parking illegally or ignoring all the rules of the road - with their kids in the back seat, taking notes.
Last year I heard another plausible "rumour" of a local secondary school teacher who, accompanying his students on an end-of-year trip, told them they wouldn't be buying train tickets in the country they were visiting as no one ever checked up on it!!
So, once again, before demanding clean and honest folk "at the top", think about ourselves and what example we set and what we deserve.
Here endeth the sermon.


divendres, 12 de juliol de 2013

Jungleland - Bruce #Clarence

By popular demand, it's another Bruce Springsteen classic. Eleven minutes of pure musical pleasure. Enjoy (it). The "it" being necessary if you still, like me, believe the verb "to enjoy" is transitive.Other than that, forget the grammar and focus on this song and THAT sax solo!!

dilluns, 8 de juliol de 2013

No Surrender - Bruce Springsteen & Brian Fallon #Tortosa_Concerts

El dissabte passat Manel Fuentes i la Vella Dixieland van fer un concert "tribut" a Bruce Springsteen a Tortosa. Quina nit! Dominava el rock, of course, però amb algun toquet de jazz i sobretot sonaven molts instruments de vent. Fuentes és tot un showman, i un crak imitant a Bruce i la seva veu. En fi, una nit per a recordar, on va tocar sense parar ni un minut 2 hores dels hits i no tan hits del The Boss.
L'unica pega, per a mi, són els horaris. Ja estava anunciat per a les 23.30, cosa que per mi no té sentit. Era un concert per guadir en familia, gratis, al mig del parc de Tortosa i no entenc aquesta obsessió per fer les coses com més tard, millor. No hagues passat res per fer-ho a les 23.00 o 22.30. 
Direu, és que ets anglès, però el fet és que els 4 amics tortosins en qui ho vaig comentar també ho troben un disparat. No cal que per a xalar, hem de passar de mitjanit abans de començar els actes! Per més inri, evidentment no va començar a l'hora anunciada sino mig hora, o més, tard. Aixo entenc encara menys. No és tan complicat fer les coses bé.
Però, tornant a lo positiu, quin concert! Com que no tinc bones gravacions de Fuentes i la Vella Dixieland, pero, us passo aquest video impressionant de Bruce amb Brian Fallon del Gaslight Anthem cantant No Surrender.
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Last Saturday, Catalan radio presenter and general "show-man" Manel Fuentes performed his tribute show to Bruce Springsteen in Tortosa with the backing of the incredible Catalan trad jazz band, La Vella Dixieland. What a show!! 
Late night (too late in fact) under the trees of the park, with a cool beer at hand, and kids learning their music history, we really enjoyed it - and free!
Afraid I haven't found any good quality recordings of them yet, though, so we'll have to make do with the original. But, what an original! Here's The Boss with Brian Fallon (singer of Gaslight Anthem) singing an amazing version of No Surrender!

dimecres, 3 de juliol de 2013

Standing next to me - Miles & Alex #Catalonia



Avui toca escriure un update pels milers de seguidors no-catalans (i per les desenes de milers de catalans) que segueixen el blog. Res de nou pels que mireu les telenoticies o llegiu aquest blog, amb l’unica novetat que dono la meva opinió; que s’està tardant massa. 
No cal tant de debat de les consequencies del “dia despres” etc, sino fer-ho. Cada revolució té el seu moment i s’ha d’agafar al vol. De totes formes, estic molt sorpres del fet que només aquest any han creat la assemblea de experts que han d’estudiar i informar sobre tot el process. Aixo s’hauria d’haver fet fa anys i guardat en un calaix. Els governs han d’estar preparats per qualsevol eventualitat possible, i aquest moment ja es veia venir des del dia que van començar a escriure l’estatut fa 10 anys !
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So, it’s the so-called monthly (ha ha!) update on Catalan affairs you have all been waiting for. If you want to know what I’m talking about, look at previous posts on Catalonia because it’s too darned hot to start again from scratch ...
... OK, read as much as you want? So everybody’s with us so far? After centuries of ups and downs, it seems like Catalans have finally decided that the union with the rest of Spain is a dead-end and they want out. This has become more and more noticeable during the 25 years I’ve been here, and really hit the big world out there last 11th September when one and a half million people (of a population of 7 million) hit the streets of Catalonia demanding independence. The Catalan President took them at their word and called snap (well, 2 months later) elections. Parties on a clear “we will hold a referendum” ticket won a clear majority and though the vote was divided amongst a mixed bag of different parties (the wonders of Proportional Representation), it seems that about 70-75% of MPs would be in favour of holding a referendum. Recent opinion polls show this would increase if elections were repeated. Plus polls indicate that 75% or more of Catalans believe a referendum should be held. About 55% have said they would vote for independence in said referendum, with around 25% voting no, and the rest “undecided” or “not bothered”.
Anyway, 7 months have gone by since the elections. The government has set up an amazing amount of workgroups and committees to discuss independence, and more urgently the referendum. Most political parties, trade unions, and more importantly, citizen groups are on board. The fact is it was a voluntary citizen group which organised the September march and is leading the way while the politicians sometimes stall. In my opinion, a lot of talking and deciding but very little action. The govt insists it’s all a matter of timing and they are on course to hold a referendum in 2014 as promised, but I’ve a sneaky feeling other revolutions were not talked about so much. Did they talk for 2 years about the consquences of pulling down the Berlin Wall? Let’s just do it, folks!
Oh, by the way, the Spanish govt refuses to allow any referendum and says it will do everything in its power to prevent it – with many right-wing newspapers, think-tanks, army generals, and even MPs saying this does of course include the use of force ....
On a brighter note, here's a totally unconnected song: