Monthly Archives: January 2007

Cultural Protectionist Fascism

You got to be kidding me!!! How ridiculous is it that someone is denied the right to citizenship because a country does not accept an individual’s right to have their own name? I just read this Reuters news release on how the Spanish government has rejected a Colombian woman’s citizenship application because her first name “Darling” is unacceptable. I could understand rejecting one’s application for a name change to a vulgar word or term. The Spanish law permits rejecting names that may cause a person to be “exposed to ridicule or do not clearly indicate gender.” But “Darling”? Come on, in Spain it is very common for males to have the name “Jesus” or for women to have the names of females saints but, after dropping the “María”, are of the masucline gender such as “Pilar”, “Rocío” or “Camino”. Women can also go by (as translated into English) “Immaculate Conception”, “Ascencion”, “Incarnation”, “Sea”, “Solitude”, “Suns”, or “Miracles”. How about the fact that “Angel” is a common male name? Come on!!!!!

This is pure cultural fascism, where certain names are accepted while others are rejected because they are foreign sounding and not common. There really isn’t much difference in the name “Darling” and “Hope” (the name of the President of the Community of Madrid). You don’t need to look around much in the US to see that the US government could never restrict people’s right to give their children names derived from their own cultural traditions or variations thereof, or simply as expressions of their own creativity — like it or not.

Darling wasn’t even asking for a name change, just this simple request that the name given to her at birth be respected by the Spanish authorities. What message does this send to any foreigner arriving on the shores of Spain? Where is ZP’s Alliance of Civilizations? Or is this as the Spaniards say, “moros en la costa”?

Ironically, I have just recently written a post in Spanish on how the radical Islamists are not the only ones who are dividing the world with their fanatic fundamentalism. This is a great example that proves my point that in the West we are doing the same thing but in a much more subtle way.

In any event, here is the Reuters news feed: Continue reading


Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

I play all of them

Not that anyone out there cares, but last weekend I kept having this voice in my head about someone playing many notes all at once because he wasn’t quite sure which one to play. Well, no, I don’t hear voices and I ain’t crazy. I knew that it was from a song and yet it was familiar from somewhere else. Then I realized that it was probably from a song by Koop and also from an interview I had heard with John Coltrane. And I was right. The song is “Soul for Sahib” from Waltz for Koop.

There are some set things that I know, some devices that I know, harmonic devices that I know that will take me out of the ordinary path if I use them. But I haven’t played them enough and I am not familiar with them enough yet to play one single line through them, so I play all of them you know trying to acclimate my ears so I can hear.

No, I have no idea what he means.

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Filed under Jazz

Samarkand and how we’re all to blame

Samarkand by Amin Maalouf

I have just finished reading Naguib Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley and Amin Maalouf’s Samarkand, two excellent novels that help us oustiders understand the mindsets, cultures, and history of Egypt and Persia respectively. As I have mentioned on numerous occassions previously in this blog, I love learning about other cultures through reading novels by their greatest storytellers (although Maalouf is Lebanese and not Iranian). I highly recommend either of these books as they do a great job of putting the world we live in today into perspective. Here it is:

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Filed under Digressions, Literature

No hay que mirar muy lejos para ver el peligro

Bosch: The Last Judgment

Es triste pero hay que reconocer que vivimos en un mundo donde los radicales musulmanes no son los únicos fundamentalistas talibanes. También tenemos a los talibanes de la derecha cristiana en EEUU que quieren promulgar sus creencias como leyes estatales y federales prohibiendo el aborto, metiendo la enseñanza de la creación divina como alternativa científica en los colegios públicos, impidiendo cualquier programa de la ONU que promueva el sexo seguro en países en desarrollo, matando en nombre de la democracia, y una gran cantidad de otras iniciativas para que su “marca” de cultura o producto sea la dominante. O en Europa que hace y ha hecho hostil la convivencia con los judíos, musulmanes u otros grupos fuera de su círculo cultural – una Europa que no se decide entre odiar más a Israel o a los inmigrantes musulmanes, pero se alegran secretamente cuando los judíos abusan a los palestinos para sentirse menos culpables por el holocausto. En Francia se prohíbe en las escuelas cualquier signo de la cultura religiosa y el único beneficiado es el cristiano que se esconde el crucifijo dentro de su camiseta. En España existen el fascismo lingüístico tanto a nivel autonómico como a nivel nacional, los colegios públicos concertados, y hasta terroristas domésticos en un momento histórico cuando el occidente ve al terrorismo como una cosa de talibanes radicales. El proteccionismo cultural es de lo más común en Europa y la Constitución Europea habla de su ascendencia cultural cristiana. El CIU en Cataluña tuvo que cambiar su política lingüista europea (con el tema del valenciano) porque usando su misma lógica también tendría que apoyar al árabe porque se habla en Melilla. Y finalmente existe el taliban ideológico absurdo tipo Chavisimo que mejor ni mencionar.

Al fin y a cabo el fundamentalismo es lo mismo: es distorsionar la realidad bajo una falsa promesa de volver al fundamento de una cultura o religión para protegerla y salvar a un pueblo. La diferencia es en la forma. En Europa, en EEUU, de momento se hace de una forma relativamente pacifica, escondida en un disfraz de democracia y de alianza de civilizaciones, pero las metas son las mismas — fomentar su propio estilo de vida al coste del otro. Por lo menos tenemos a ZP quien después de solucionar los problemas de terrorismo internacional aliando a las civilizaciones (y fichando a Kofi Anon para ello), ojala encuentre en ello la misma solución para las grandes diferencias de civilización que existen en su propio país.

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Filed under Essays

Nuevo episodio de Galicia Vice

En un nuevo episodio de Galicia Vice, titulado “corrupción en la calle de Palma“, nuestros heroes Berga y Cobra (la versión gallega de Sunny y Tubbs), infiltran a una banda delictiva formada por Iurgi y Teo quienes interpretan a un vasco y un sevillano respectivamente. El suspenso llega a su colmo al salir Alvaro de la Casta.

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Filed under Friends / Family

Who cares about the pot when our image has melted away?

Berga and Cobra’s roomate, Edu (a bit of a leftest poser because he owns a Playstation) is a writer for the Spanish TV show El Intermedio on La Sexta. This show does something that no TV station would ever allow in the US. During each episode it runs a 20 second clip beginning with President Bush’s May 1, 2003 speech proclaiming victory and the end of combat operations in Iraq. It then lists the number of civilian deaths on that particular day in Iraq.

Although I find Spanish news to be incredibly politically biased and unfairly anti-American, US journalism and television are simply too self-censuring. The press is either afraid to tell the truth or believes that the American people are too reality adverse. In any event, irrespective of what the US media should or should not publish, this video highlights the grave harm Bush, his policies, and the war in Iraq have done to the image of the US in the world. Fortunately for him, the great majority of Americans are not living abroad and don’t have to witness how our nation has fallen into ill repute in practically every corner of the globe. For the few of us who are out there, we have to degrade ourselves by pretending to be Canadians just to get laid.


Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

Quality Living

Kitaj: If not not

In a recent email exchange with an old friend of mine from the past, I asked her to tell me a little bit about her life in Germany. A few years ago, she moved with her husband to Germany where they have since had two sons. Many times our cultural ethnocentrism causes us to believe that the quality of life in our country is greater than in others. I know that in the US, people tend to believe that this is so. And this is also very true for Spain, where I am constantly being told that I must live better in Spain than in the US (¿a qué se vive mejor en España?). My general belief is the majority of the world would prefer to stay put and not live away from their culture of birth. Even people who have emigrated due to extreme hardship in their home countries generally hope that one day the living (or political) conditions will improve so that they can return. And it is also very true that just because a country is poor or even politically oppressed (say as in Cuba or Morocco), many people prefer not to leave and can live happier lives than in wealthier nations.

In any event, I believe that looking into the ways in which people live their lives in other countries can teach us a lot about how to improve the quality of life in our own countries. For that reason, I am posting my friend’s description here:

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Filed under Essays, Friends / Family

Liquids No, Scorpions Yes

I just read this story about a man who was stung twice by a scorpion on a domestic flight in the US:

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Filed under Digressions

Ellis Island in Madrid

Ellis Island

Today I was an immigrant. At second thought, I suppose that each and every day I live in Spain, I am an immigrant. But, today more so. It was time for me to renew my Spanish residency and work permit. This is my second renewal and consists of three stages: (i) presenting a series of documents to the competent authorities (generally a police station), (ii) getting finger printed, and (iii) going to pick up the renewed residency and work permit. But each of these stages occurs about a month a part and includes waiting in very long lines.

This morning, I got all of the necessary paperwork together and headed out for the police station (the one dedicated to immigration matters) closest to my house. The line was about 5 blocks long. Apparently, Spain is now normalizing the immigration status of all Romanians and Bulgarians due to their adhesion into the European Union. I thus changed my mind and went to work. There I spoke with Natascha (on the phone, she is out of the office sick) who recently had her permit renewed. Apparently, the police station in Alcobendas (where I work) has much shorter lines. Well, to make a long story short, I waited in line for 1 hour outside to get into the station. Once inside, I had to take a number and then wait an additional hour for my turn. Upon being attended, I was told that I now had to take another number and wait in a different waiting area in order to hand in my documents. This took an additional 15 minutes.

The great majority of those waiting to have their immigration status resolved were Eastern Europeans, but there were a few Latin Americans and Africans. When I finally turned in my documents, I told the immigration officer that I felt like I was in New York City 90 years ago. He laughed and said that I was the first US citizen he had seen in his office. While the next 2 steps in the process require me to stand in even longer lines and to do so in Aluche (very much out of the way), I was very impressed about how patient and agreeable the immigration officiers were (most of them in their mid to late 20s). One of Spain’s biggest challenges right now is how to deal with massive immigration for the first time in its history. While many people have expressed very exaggerated concerns about the nation’s inevitable demise due to the entry of these immigrants, this was definitely not the impression I got from the officers.

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Filed under Digressions, Living la vida española

¡Un año fonero!

FON Mask

Hoy cumplo un año trabajando en FON. Cuando llegué yo a estas oficinas en Alcobendas, me encontré con Mayte, Cobra, el gijonés, Martha, Iurgi, Teo, Juantomás y quizás hasta Mundoreactivo se escondía por aquí. A los dos días llegó Berga y a la semana Guillermo (mi patrón bloguero) y después Joan. Y cuantos cambios han habido con gente llegando (y algunos saliendo) y los Hombres de Negro. Ahora ya somos unos 90 empleados. En este año he dejado de poder hacer muchas cosas, hemos tenido nuestros momentos intensivos, pero ha sido toda una experiencia única. Me gustaría dar las gracias a todos de esta oficina por lo bien que lo pasamos y nos reimos dentro de lo que es el gran esfuerzo de crear una cosa totalmente desde cero.


Filed under FON