Thursday, 14 October 2010

What I have learnt in the news!

The Balearics have been on orange alert for rain and wind and storms. It’s certainly been coming down hard and wet here. How to convert roads into rivers? Just add water! Mind you, one of my former students is complaining about rain in Morocco so it would seem that wetness is the general rule at the moment.

It has become our habit to head for the White Horse pub – a Mallorquín/Scottish establishment just across the road from our hotel – in the late morning for a decent cup of coffee, that served with breakfast at the hotel being quite execrable. In th
e White Horse we can spend the same as we would pay for 15 minutes internet on the hotel computer, have unlimited wifi access for however long we want and, as I said, have a decent cup of coffee as well.

Reading the papers in the pub the other day I learnt that my hero Alberto Contador is so downhearted as a result of accusations of drug taking that he is considering giving up cycling as a career, even if the latest investigation exonerates him(which I understand from today’s reading is the case). And this despite protestations from fellow cyclist Cippolini that our Alberto is one of the greatest proponents of el ciclismo limpio. Personally I have great admiration of these cyclists powering their way up huge mountains and then descending at speed which alone are enough to blow your mind without recourse to illicit substances!!

Other items in the news:-

• One of the investigators into the toxic spillage in Hungary is reported in Spanish papers to be a certain Pia Lindstrom who is or was in charge of the environmental section of the company Boliden whose toxic spillage very nearly caused immense damage to the preservation area El Coto Doñana in the south of Spain back in 1998. Sounds like good joined up thinking!

• Praise here in the Balearics for the Germans. Lots of them have been coming here and they have helped maintain hotel occupation at around 80% in September and October this year, an improvement on last year. And there I was thinking our hotel was just full of Scots, aging Britons and, at the moment, chess players of a whole range of nationalities.

• The Spanish royal family and the politicians have been out in force because Tuesday was El Día de la Hispanidad, known in some parts of South America as El Día de la Resistencia Indígena. There were big, rather military, parades through Madrid with flags from many Spanish speaking countries but with the notable absence apparently of Venezuela. Mr Chávez decided at the last minute not to participate. Apparently there also calls form some quarters in Spain to desligar (more or less disconnect) the celebration from the armed forces.

• Because of that fiesta on Tuesday there was the inevitable puente, taking Monday off as well to extend the weekend. Consequently in today’s news there have been lots of macabre reports of road traffic accidents. Nothing changes.

• And of course on Wednesday almost all the news, especially on TV was about the rescue of the Chilean miners which is of course tremendous. The last news I saw last night had 21 out of the 33 back to the surface. It is of course a fantastic achievement involving international cooperation; even NASA was in on the act. But really it is one that should not have been necessary. One of the rescued miners was reported to have known that the mine was unsafe but took casual work there because he desperately needed a job and on day one found himself trapped. I find it hard to accept that in the 21st century people are still having to accept such conditions of work. At university, longer ago than I care to admit to but back in the 20th century, I read Zola’s description of such things (and a mine cave-in) in his novel Germinal and found it quite horrifying. But he was describing the 19th century and we are now in 2010. The technology exists to get them out. It surely should have prevented them being trapped to begin with.

With that, I shall finish and see if I can manage to find a moment at the White Horse to post this.

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