Monday 26th January 2015 week 188 Spain.
Monday Round up.
Good weekend? I hope so. Winter is upon us here, at least what passes for winter in this neck of the woods. Last week it rained occasionally, it was a tad windy and the temperature struggled to get much above 50f. (I so hope you're not expecting sympathy. Ed)
I received a couple of emails. One pointed out my web diary is to travel writing what Hitler was to world peace, -I'm paraphrasing of course- I fully concede the point. Thing is, when you're in one camp-site, as we are for winter, I'm limited as to what I can write about, so I tend, as Hazel puts it, to jibber-jabber a lot.
Unfortunately the campers are a well behaved bunch. There's no midnight shenanigans which, if there were, I'd be the first to document, after all who amongst us doesn't enjoy a good scandal? We're a pretty friendly bunch here, although, there was almost a punch up between a Brit and a German. Over what, I don't really know. A misunderstanding mixed with a little alcohol I fancy. It didn't come to blows and Anglo-German relations were soon re-cemented with a firm apologetic handshake. A tad disappointing for me as I'd gone to all the trouble of digging out the first aid kit we keep buried under a mountain of junk under the seats.
The enterance to the jewish quarter.
The other email was from a regular reader -and yes I do have a few- who kindly pointed out my rant about Microsoft the other day was flawed. He informed me that Microsoft have agreed to allow Windows 7 & 8 users to upgrade to window 10 when it arrives. The only proviso is you do it within the first year. So good on them if it's true. I should have also pointed out that there is the possibility of a free version of windows X on the horizon. It will be fully funded by advertising. So expect lots of adverts and pop ups randomly appearing on your desktop. It will snoop around your browsing history and then tailor the ads accordingly. Personally I can't imagine anything worse. Those that opt for it will take one more step towards becoming consumers first, and humans second.
I was on a website the other day looking up spigot thrust bearings or some such nonsense, when a photo of my daughter appeared in the bottom corner courtesy of Facebook. How and why I've no idea. Between Google, Facebook and Twitter they have the Internet sewn up.
On Saturday we popped down to the local market. It's not actually a market as such, it's an impromptu kind-a-thing. People turn up with stuff. Home cooked foods, old clothes, books, fruit and veg etc. Any ways, what was interesting was that amongst the hubbub a young Spanish women, sat in the sun, right in the main causeway and breast fed her baby. Obviously, no one took a blind bit of notice of her and why should they?.
So can someone please tell me why 'some' Brits get so hot under the collar about this most natural of acts. I so want to slap some sense into these people. And then, bugger me sideways, I read the other day that at the National Breastfeeding Conference, women were asked not to breast feed!!. Did the organizers not see the irony of that.
And finally, I hired a car for two weeks as Hazel's sister and brother in law are popping over in a couple of weeks. 'So what?' you say, 'hardly news', and you're right. But what is gobsmackingly interesting is the cost of the hire car, a mere €32.78 for the two weeks! And that wasn't even the cheapest option.
OMG, I like, so love Spain.
Tuesday 27th January 2015. Week 188. Spain.
Serious its no joke.
I love learning new stuff, and when it challenges the way I perceive the world, in this case literally, I think that's just jolly fascinating. Don't you? No? Okay, please yourself then.
I doubt there's any one in Britain who can't recognise the map of the London underground. So iconic is it you'll find it printed on t-shirts the world over. I suspect many also know that, as a map, it's wholly inaccurate. While being a marvellous schematic diagram of the underground system many of the stations are not where the map says they are. If you overlaid it on a map of London it makes no geographical sense. However the tube map is practically a work of art and for getting from A to B it's brilliant.
The only other map which is even more recognisable, is the map of the world. -see below if you're not sure- It's an image that’s burnt into all our minds. Why am I pointing out the obvious? you ask. Well, just like the London underground map, it's also wildly inaccurate.
It just blooming mad
A year or so ago a group of cartographers tried to get the US congress to redefine the World map. The reason? The World map, they said, is plan wacky. It's not representative of the actual world, nor is it particularly fair on the third world. This interested me so I looked into it – in my defence I have to say it had been raining a couple of days- anyhoo, turns out they're right. The scale is 'miles' out. (Is that a pun?. Ed) I doubt it.
For example, in the real world Africa is actually fourteen times the size of Greenland but look how the map has it. Also you can place the USA, China, India and the whole of Europe within the African continent and still have room for an additional six smaller banana republics. Looking at the map you'd not think that. I bet you're doubting it even now, so familiar have we become with something that's askew.
Here's a quick test. Look at the UK and try to guess how many times it will fit into Australia? 18? 28? 38? 48? or 58?. Have a guess Go on. Got a number in mind? Well if you said fifty-eight you'd be bang on the money. Spain is two and half times the size of the UK. In truth The UK has historically always been shown much larger than it actually is. Why? I've not a clue. In fact Britain is the same size as Romania. Who can see Romania on the above map, not me.
I'd venture to suggest this is why some Britons have this overly important view of Great Britain in the world. We are very small. It also makes nonsense, if you ask me, why we spend so much on arms. We're just twice the size of Benin and even the people of Benin can't find Benin on a map.
The other observation is one of orientation. The world map could just as easily be shown upside down. After all, in space, there is no up or down. No top or bottom and yet we've been taught to think there is. For example, Australia is 'down under'.The north pole is not the top on the world. It's been depicted this way because the guy who drew one of the very first maps was a European and he put his neck of the woods on top. And before someone emails me and says: Hold hard young man, you've been drinking too much of that cheap plonk North is up and South is down, therefore the relationship of countries are mapped thus. I would have to point out that naming the poles was purely down to man. Direction is both relative and arbitrary only to us, not to the planet.
Does it matter you may ask? Well yes because it's wrong. It distorts the world, our view of it and, perhaps, our relative importance within it. Perhaps if countries were shown correctly it might change our attitude to them.
Now you can't tell me that wasn't interesting.
(Let's not take a vote hun. Ed)
Thursday 29th January 2015. Week 188. Spain
Its All Greek to me.
I've decided I don't want to come back, to Britain that is. Please don't make me! Europe has a lot going for it, really. I'll only take up more room on the roads, this is a big truck you know. Truth is, I don't know what's happening back home.
A poll, a few days ago, asked this quite ridiculous question: Should the chancellor scrap the austerity measures? What a daft question I thought, of course he should. Erm......... apparently not. Over half of the eleven thousand who responded, said no! Oh! for fucks sake! Really? There's people that want to keep them? Sorry, did I miss something? Clearly either they, or I, have lost the plot. I guess the argument they're likely to make is that Britain's economy isn't doing so bad. They know this because the GBH tells them, and for many, things don't seem too dire. I mean, nothing dreadful has happened. So maybe the GBH has weathered the worst of the financial storm and steered the good ship Britannia through the doldrums into calmer fiscal waters. Right! Well, I don't believe that for a mo. What's more likely is that people are scared to rock the boat. Look, they'll say, we're afloat, let's all be thankful. And that, while those within the GBH knock back G&T's in one of parliaments fours bars, which, I feel its my duty to point out, the tax payer subsidises to the tune of six million pounds a year. It's said, without the cash the bars/restaurants would run at a loss. Wonderful. So no fucker ever thought of just putting up the prices then? like they do with us? Clearly not.
The GBH has actually cut 119 taxes. But unfortunately also raised 299. When this bunch took office, tax receipts were £513 billion, they're now £671 Billion. That, according to my calculator, is an extra £158 billion the GBH has taken from us. Now call me old fashioned but that's not managing the economy. Certainly not in the same way that say, Germany has. They're looking to cut retirement age and they pay retired Germans almost three times what British pensioners get. Strikes me, and you I bet, that managing isn't just about asking for more money to manage with, no, it's about cutting the cloth to fit the suit. Something all of us do every day of our lives.
So lets get it right. They didn't save our arses we did. The tax payer has forked out and is still forking out for the financial meltdown of 2008. We supported the banks and financial corporations and in doing so capitalism itself. And what? people are happy to carry on doing that? Really?
Well the Greeks aren't. While most of Europe moves politically to the right, and in some cases the extreme right as we might soon do too, Greece has moved to the left and given Europe the V sigh and bloody good luck to 'em. Don't get me wrong I'm a keen Europhile. My enthusiasm however is for a unified association of sovereign states with open borders to goods, services, technology and people, not the Euro. Each member should be able to manage their own economy's in accordance with their own needs, rather than have Brussels dictate to them. I gotta say, if Greece's actions have helped to hasten the end of the Euro, then I'll not shed a tear.
The new guy has promised to end austerity measures, alter taxes and to renegotiate the several quintillion Euros they'd borrowed to stop them from going bust. Although some say it was more a bribe to keep them from leaving the EU. This will no doubt put even more pressure on the Euro, which has plummeted the last couple of weeks. This morning the pound is worth 1.34. When we started this it was 1.10 and it's bound now to come under even more pressure. As is the Union itself.
However, Greece is expecting an additional 34 Billion in EU loans. If I was the new Greek Prime minister I'd send a chap round to the IMF Bank with a couple of good holdalls and get that cash out ASAP, before it all goes pear shaped.
What's on my mind today?
Well that it, I definitely can't come back to the UK. I had this sneaky suspicion, and it's been recently confirmed, that living in mainland Europe is perhaps the only thing keeping me alive.
How so? you ask. Well it's all down to the medicinal qualities of the copious amounts of red wine I've been knocking back over here. -I had a excellent bottle yesterday. Great nose, long legs and all for 95 pence a litre!.- Back in blighty I'll not be able to afford the stuff. I just know I won't be able to summon up the physical, and mental, strength to extract a fiver out my wallet knowing, as I do, the lions share will be going, not to the grape grower or wine producer, but into The GBH coffers.
Anyhoo,a new study into red wine has produced some fascinating findings. A leading researcher has proven that a glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym! Which is wonderful news as it means I had a full body work out last night. He goes on to say resveratrol, a wonder chemical found in red wine, was seen to improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength. "I think resveratrol could help people who want to exercise but are physically incapable," he said. Well that's definitely me. I sure can't be arsed to exercise. And it doesn't end there, oh no.
You may have spotted last year a team of eminent Russian and Spanish researchers, working independently, have suggested that red wine prevents tooth decay. Scientists -who know a shit load about this stuff- dipped teeth in cultures of bacteria responsible for dental diseases and then into various liquids. They found red wine was the most effective at removing the bacteria. Champion stuff.
According to ground breaking research at the University of Nebraska. It was discovered that bed bugs, who live a vampire existence feeding off human blood, will turn their noses up at red wine drinkers. Well done that team.
Another study conducted at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany found people who drink a glass of red wine a day are less likely to develop dementia. The academics, who know a shit load more than any expert, have found that subjects who drank between two and three units a day were a third less likely to show signs of dementia at the end of a three-year-period than teetotallers. I probably drink more than that, which explains why I can remember shit I'd once completely forgotten.
A report published in the Internal Medicine magazine, said that women who drink a moderate amount of alcohol were found to have a lower risk of becoming overweight in middle age. Those drinking red wine were the least likely to become overweight. The authors also noted that those women showed an increase in energy after drinking. I take that to mean they get a bit frisky.
Even Hippocrates, the great grandfather of modern medicine, prescribed wine to alleviate pain during childbirth as well as lethargy and diarrhoea. Christ! it's even mentioned in the Bible. In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul the Apostle, recommended a little wine every now and then to help digestion. During the Middle Ages Catholic monks frequently used wine for a wide range of medical treatments. Wine was so linked to medical practice. In the first ever book on wine by Arnaldus de Villa Nova in 12AD, he, a physician, prattled on at length about the benefits of wine for the treatment of many illnesses and conditions.
What better recommendation can you have for making red wine available on the National health? Correct. None. The medical benefits of wine are thus proven and yet the GBH is moving this wonderful 'elixir of life' further from our grasp by pricing it away from those that would most benefit. Peeps like me. Shame on them.
Enjoy your weekend
WARNING: As a medical professional I wouldn't recommend replacing your regular medication with red wine. Ed