2011/06/20

A victim responds!

Lynce say, "We're working on it," which is what any intelligent organisation does in such circumstances, and I'm sure they'll get it right - the product looks good, and there are a lot of demonstrators and worried governments around at the moment.

So what about the rest? Major contributors like the Ajuntament de Barcelona and the Generalitat de Catalunya spend huge sums on image building, so I'm sure this blog has crossed the radar. But my guess is that the politicians don't care about anything that doesn't affect their voters, and the functionaries by and large don't care about anything.

Maybe, on the other hand, the end of PSOE hegemony in Jerez will lead to improvements in public service provision per euro spent, and maybe imminent general elections will put the fear of Greece into central government. Who'd bet on either?

And the minnows? Haven't they discovered the pleasure of googling themselves? Is it that they know they are being publicly mocked but have concluded that a descent into drink- or drugs-fuelled oblivion is cheaper than a translator? Is the Spanish health service on its knees because its asyla are bursting with honest working men who have renounced speech and who tremble when asked if they want to see the lunch menu?

2011/06/12

Sepia to the iron with ali smelt

Via Carlos Ferrero Martín and @ucedaman, another great menu, featuring ears to the iron, sepia to the iron with ali smelt, almejas to the sailor, tape of lomo...

"Ali smelt" is original and perhaps a calculated insult to one or all Shias, but "a la" as "to the" has tested the imagination, though not always the palate, of a great number of gourmets. Michael McCullough, for example, sounds like he didn't order fillet of fish to the male, whatever it is, although if he was with company he may have tried itched of seafood. And Norman Kliman recounts that four years ago a bar near Jerez station was offering clams to the sailor's blouse, I hit to the plate and breast of chicken to the plate, as well as those much-loved Andalusian delicacies tidy spawns, cured of La Mancha cheese, wing nut with cured cheese, shock doughnut and 1/2 share of cold or warm lid.

However, culinary misapprehensions are not always the translator's fault. Free ThinkerNY follows up the story of the super-spicy "Devil's Sausage", made wearing safety gloves and googles by butchers Jason and Garry Rendall in Stirling, and not on sale to young children or people with a heart condition, with a tale of when a translation customer thought he knew best:

Many years ago, I and 3 big, tough Soviet sailors and one other American (translator) crammed into a booth. On the dinner table were some condiments including a bottle of jalepeno sauce. One man in the middle of our group asked what was in the bottle. The translator explained it was hot sauce. The sailor bragged that he loved hot sauce and could drink it straight. The translator warned him not to as the sailor opened the bottle and tipped back his head. Shock registered on the sailor’s face - he looked wildly at those of us seated around him - he wanted to run from the booth but we were blocking him in. The translator grabbed a bottle of honey from the condiments and handed it to the sailor. The suffering man, still wild eyed, looked incredulously at the litte plastic bear he had just been handed (they don’t sell honey in plastic bears in the Soviet Union so for a moment he thought he had been handed a toy). As soon as he heard the translator say ‘it’s honey’ he forcibly tore the entire head off the plastic bear (bottle) and tipped his head back, gulping honey as fast as he could as we scrambled to get him something to drink. Ah...good times....good times....

Lying about demonstrator numbers, or "We've been in Puerta del Sol, Madrid 20 of may 2011 to measure people attendance of 15-M Mouvement events"

This is Lynce.es/ExactCrowd.com, which may still lack the language skills to sell its services into non-Spanish-speaking markets, but provides an excellent stats service to help us assess the claims of various domestic political factions to embody the nation's will in some respect.

Lynce says that forensic counting techniques show what everyone already privately acknowledges - that demonstration organisers routinely lie about attendance numbers. Here out of interest is a comparison of organiser and Lynce numbers for recent demonstrations where both figures are available. Where Lynce provides a higher and lower bound, I've taken the mean.



Averaging out the results, the biggest liars look like the "pro-life" movement, followed by the farmers, trade unions, Catalan separatists, BLT, and so on. Maybe someone would like to add some interpretation. It would be nice, for example, to find in there somewhere there's a desperation factor relating the bigness of the lie to popular indifference to the cause espoused - if anyone was really uncomfortable about abortion, functionaries being put up against the wall, Spain as a unitary state, or whatever, then the parties would have figured it out already from polls, and the soon-to-be-triumphant opposition wouldn't have appointed someone who is widely assumed to be gay as their leader.

(H/t: Candide)

(
The Numbers Man comments: If you go to SIGPAC, locate the Puerta del Sol and pick the area measurement tool you'll find that Sol measures about 7,000 sq. m. If folks are cheek to jowl at 2 sq.ft. per, about 36000 could conceivably fit - no tents, booths, Ford Transits or room to either walk or preach. Give em one third of the maximum plus another 5,000 sq. mt. on the side streets at a concentration inversely proportional to the distance from the centre - and Exact Crowd is probably about right.
)

2011/06/06

El Cas dels Catalans and the House of the British Parliament

Early Day Motions are the British House of Commons's ineffectual version of Facebook "likes": they have no significance in the broader flow of politics, and for every signatory who believes earnestly that doing so will induce admiration in an informationally subnormal constituent, there is almost certainly another who a week later will have absolutely no memory of the damn thing. So the 14 signatories of EDM 509 regarding the right of Catalonia so secede unilaterally from Spain may well be surprised to discover that their participation in this non-event was observed with great interest by an admittedly similarly reduced congregation in Barcelona:
To the members of the House of the British Parliament
DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMEN
Williams, Hywel
Llwyd, Elfyn
Edwards, Jonathan
Wishart, Pete
MacNeil, Angus
Weir, Mike
Lucas, Caroline
Hosie, Stewart
Whiteford, Eilidh
George, Andrew
Hancock, Mike
McDonnell, John
Durkan, Mark
Hemming, John
Distinguished Diputees,
The Diputees, and other elected Officials, the Entities and the individual signers, we recognize the high significance of the delivered Motion that was rendered on 14 of July 2010, with the text as follows:
[blah blah blah]
We wish to show you aou deep gratitude for your action which we value of a proove of solidarity of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish nations towards the Catalan nation, and as example to the European Union we wish to become a real union of free nations.
GRÀCIES, THANK YOU, DIOLCH
This club of gents (not many ladies, I'm told), who on seeing a flag with the relevant number of stripes helpfully develop a flagpole in their underpants, is off to London next Monday (in terms of numbers Champions League final weekend might have been smarter), presumably to say thanks for this major contribution to the Balkanisation of southern Europe. Given that none of them appears to be able to speak English here are some suggestions as to what kind of gift might be appreciated:
  • The SNP, Plaid Cymru and SDLP members (9/14), as well as John McDonnell (IRA, Hayes and Harlington, 1261 EDMs this parliament): nothing at all, although it might be cool to say "thanks" in Irish and Scots Gaelic as well as Welsh (try internet).
  • Andrew George (Cornish National Party, St Ives, 747 EDMs): nothing at all, and with his majority of 1,719 don't even bother looking up "thanks" in Cornish.
  • John Hemming (566 EDMs) and Mike Hancock (1187): Costa Brava hotel coupons may do you no good unless you throw in half a dozen women; Mike is said to prefer female Russian secret agents, although his ex-colleague Matyas Eorsi may believe that a sugar-coated effigy of Vladimir Putin's dong would do the trick.
  • Was it really that smart to address Caroline Lucas (Green, the middle class bits of Brighton & Hove ex-Greenham Common, 502 EDMs) as a "gentleman"?
Registration here, with the current list suggesting that not everyone appreciates the tsunamic import of this mission.

(Oops, sorry: h/t Candide)