Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 22nd, 2011

Spain: A Unique History

with one comment

Interesting review:

Spain: A Unique History
by Stanley G. Payne

A review by Matthew Kaminski

Seven years ago this spring, Spain held what should have been a valedictory sort of election. Here was a modern European success story. Spaniards were richer and freer than ever before. Their country was a European power. The ruling right and the opposition left shared equal credit for establishing a democracy and a booming economy after Franco’s death in 1975. Spain had every reason to feel proud and confident. And yet the 2004 campaign turned unusually bitter. The threats of Basque terrorism and Catalonian separatism hung over the election. The country split over the government’s support for America’s involvement in the Iraq war. Historical ghosts thought buried, among them Francisco Franco’s, floated to the surface. On the Wednesday evening before, I met a longtime resident American correspondent in Madrid over a glass of wine. “For the first time in this campaign,” she remarked, “I fully understand how the civil war could have taken place here.”

The next morning, a series of bombs killed 191 Madrid commuter train passengers. The Basque ETA was blamed first, before the fingerprints of a local al Qaeda offshoot became obvious. It was a tragic pivot. The attacks of March 11, from then on known as “11-M” or “el once eme,” tore apart assumptions about the maturity of the new Spain. A tacit agreement to leave the Civil War past alone came undone; anti-Americanism flared up, with many saying the Iraq war was to blame for the attack; eventually the economic bubble popped, too. To this day the wounds are raw. 11-M revealed a fragile nation beneath the twenty-first-century gloss — a place still haunted by “familiar demons” that once were said to make Spain unsuited for democracy and different, in some essential ways, from its Western European peers.

As in Goya or El Greco, Spain is a luminously dark place — what one of its most prominent historians, half a century ago, called “un enigma historico.” Stanley Payne has spent a professional lifetime unraveling Spanish enigmas. A Unique History, his new book’s subtitle, describes the subject more than the ambitions of this slim volume. Payne offers a series of thoughtful, provocative, and uneven essays that range from the founding of Spain to the present. Not a straightforward history, the book is historiographic and polemical, for better and worse.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

22 April 2011 at 7:59 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Failure of War on Drugs grows and spreads

with 3 comments

The US continues its futile and costly approach toward the drugs the government has targeted—for 80 years or so. Tim Johnson reports for McClatchy:

Even by the brazen standards of cocaine cowboys, what happened a few months ago at an air force base here set new levels for audacity: Drug traffickers snuck onto the heavily guarded base and retrieved a confiscated plane….

Continue reading. The gangs depend absolutely on drugs remaining illegal. I wonder to what extent legislators in the US are paid off to keep drugs illegal. Certainly our own DEA is well aware that their budget and power would drop drastically were the US to choose a sensible course with respect to drugs, but there seems to be no danger of that.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 April 2011 at 7:53 am

Posted in Drug laws, Government

Stupidity and ego, hard at work

with 4 comments

Barack Obama is not doing the US any favors by his authoritarian practices in the area of human rights. Watch this guy tie himself in knots purely because he is unwilling (or not allowed) to speak the simple truth—and how obvious are his evasions and his disdain for the American public.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 April 2011 at 7:45 am

The red-tipped Super Speed

with one comment

Today I decided to use my Gillette red-tipped Super Speed after viewing this splendid restoration on Kafeneio. My Rooney Style 1, Size 1 made a fine lather from QED’s Grapefruit & Peppermint shaving soap—though it was one of those weird ones that faded a lot in the third pass. I’ll try it again tomorrow out of curiosity, using a different brush.

Still, plenty of lather at the beginning and enough at the end for a good pass. I used a new Rapira blade and it did a fine job. A smidgin of Castle Forbes Lavender balm, and now I’m cleaning up for the cleaning ladies.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 April 2011 at 7:41 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: