autumn sweater

20 November 2006 7:30 PM (politics | aikido | catalunya | thanksgiving | turkey | miyamoto)


Another hungover sunday, down to the street to buy a paper, sit in a cafe, watch people until the headache either goes away or sends me back to bed. Two years of this routine, on and off, and I think I from the papers I finally understand the political configuration in Catalunya.

It's considerably more complicated than the US, with six or or eight parties in parliament, depending on how you count. The basic divides are left vs right and nationalist versus spanish. No one has an absolute majority, meaning that to govern, groups have to make compromises and trades to form a numerical majority, which then becomes the government.

This year, the party with the most votes was a rightist nationalist party (CiU). Their goal was to return to the government at any cost. They could form a government with the socialists, a pseudo-spanish party affiliated with the ruling socialists in Madrid, but as far as I can see the socialists wanted to avoid any association, in the minds of the voters, with the right. This was especially important to them given the upcoming spanish parliamentary elections. The other option for the right nationalists was a coalition with the left nationalists, but there is so much bad blood there that the leftists just used the rightists to increase their desirability with the socialists.

In the end the arithmetic led Catalunya to the same situation as the before, with a left coalition between the socialists (PSC), the left nationalists (ERC), and the greens (EUA-ICV). The rightist spanish party affiliated with Madrid (PP) loves this situation, squeezing every internal disagreement in the ruling coalition into attack ads on the "inefficiency" of the government. Their motto in the last election was "Be decisive". But with only 11% of the vote, the PP isn't taken too seriously.

I have to say that I like the parliamentary model much better than the winner-take-all system in the US. I like the idea of compromise, and that smaller parties can exercise some degree of power in the government. The possibility that other parties can actually make it to parliament helps of course; back in 2000, the green candidate for president didn't even make it on the ballot in North Carolina.


Another year, another thanksgiving in "hostile territory". This year promises to be larger than the last -- I might end up doing two turkeys. The scare quotes mean it's a joke, dudes and ladies


Not much to speak of -- the hacks of my last writing product on guile-lib were the work of a couple weeks' labor, fighting entropy. But for the moment, I've put it in a situation that's reasonably resistent to time's arrow. Time to move up the stack again.


Last weekend was most excellent, with an instructor coming from Tokyo's Hombu Dojo to give a course. For some reason Japanese instructors are called only by their last names. Miyamoto sensei is impressive in any case, and at 58 years old is really quite young to have a 7th degree black belt. He manages to be very technical yet humorous on the mat. Outside he dresses like a mafioso. Good times.

In two weeks there's another seminar coming up in Mallorca, with New York's Yamada sensei. I'm going to see about heading there, taking one of the boats that I see out of my window at work, sleeping on the floor in the school. It's a bit perverse that I find joint locks to be relaxing, but so it is.

2 responses

  1. Janne says:

    In Japan everyone is normally called by their last name, with an addendum like "sensei" (teacher), "san" (mr/mrs/ms), and so on. You really only call personal friends, spouses or children by their first name - and even there you add a suffix, though usually an endearment of some sort.

  2. Ricky Youngblood says:

    I am eating halibut.

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