‘Dreams of Empire’

RICHARDS, Justin. Dreams of Empire. 1998.

‘On a barren asteroid, the once-mighty Haddron Empire is on the brink of collapse, torn apart by civil war. The one man who might have saved it languishes in prison, his enemies planning his death and his friends plotting his escape.’

BBC Books – The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection (2013)

BBC Books – The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection (2013)

With the long wait for the new season of Doctor Who one has to find ways to get input from the Whoniverse other than the Christmas special and the —too short— spin-off Class [By the way: Matteusz, the gay Polish character. What’s not to love? Well, probably the wrong spelling of the name, as it should be Mateusz.]

Back to the book, Justin Richards succeeded in capturing the essence of the second Doctor era. Those who have watched the black and white episodes will see the characters move in their minds and hear their voices as if it were one of the lost episodes.

However, this is not one of those stories only for fans of the show. Anyone who’s never even heard of Doctor Who can enjoy it, since there’s neither complex time travelling nor references to the Whoniverse apart from the —mandatory— presence of the Doctor and his two companions.

Dreams of Empire is the story of a political conflict that could easily become a military one. The game of chess is present throughout the book both explicitly and implicitly as metaphors. It is not by chance, for strategy is key to the plot. Moreover, the Doctor is not the saviour he’s nowadays, but just a moderate aid to the characters who actually own the story, which is more entertaining and believable.

To sum up, read it, it’s a good one.

Yet another obvious political and linguistic attack from Spain to Catalonia

Spanish Minister of Education, José Ignacio Wert, has different standards when judging Catalan or Spanish. And if he can harm Catalan economy in the process, what’s not to love?

It’s not the first time that I’ve mentioned the attacks to linguistic immersion at school, a model that ensures the proper preservation of Catalan and which has been validated and praised by Europe. I’ve also told how the Spanish government insists on destroying this model.

No matter that Catalan students get better marks in Spanish than in Catalan in their A levels (see table), some parents fear that their children can’t study in their language and might lose it—fear that minister Wert shares.

A levels marks of Catalan students for both languages

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Catalan 6.30 5.58 5.52 6.15 5.75 6.20 5.99
Spanish 5.62 6.31 6.25 6.55 6.62 6.34 6.43

Minister Wert laughing at (not with) his Catalan counterpart [photo]

Minister Wert laughing at (not with) his Catalan counterpart [photo]

Bear in mind that in the course 2010-11 up to 235 students in Barcelona requested lessons in Spanish. That went down to 48 in 2011-12, 18 in 2012-13 and this last year they were only 7 out of 230,000 students. At Catalonia level, in September 2012 there were 12 out of 50.000 families interested.

That same year in Valencia, in the opposite situation, almost 126.000 kids couldn’t study in Catalan only in primary school (Catalan or Valencian, which are the same, no matter what some say).

Even so, minister Wert’s tried before to push Catalan into the background as an optional subject unnecessary to graduate from secondary school. Needless to say that Catalonia ignores this kind of political schemes, I mean… measures.

But now mister Wert—deliberately ignoring the situation in Valencia—decides to grant the exorbitant sum of 6,000 euros per year to students who attend private schools to study in Spanish in Catalonia. Now that´s a clear attack to Catalan language and economy buying off families in the midst of an economic crisis and cutbacks.

It is sad that our country suffocates in so natural a way our language while 161 universities around the world teach Catalan (5 in Asia, 1 in Australia, 28 in North America, 11 in South America and 116 in 21 European countries). Or is it our country?

Catalonia is in mourning

It was probably not on the headlines all over the world, but Spain held elections last Sunday. I’m sure that its dreadful economic situation is juicier. Anyway, Catalonia voted as well since we’re still part of that country which phagocytosed us.

There were five main options in Catalonia [I’ll try to describe them the best I can in an easy and surely subjective way. Forgive me if you have some knowledge on the issue.]:

CiU: Catalan nationalist centre-right party.
ERC-RCat: Catalan independentist left coalition.
ICV-EUiA: Catalan green left coalition.
PSC: Catalan version of the Spanish socialist party.
PPC: Catalan version of the centre-right Spanish party.

I support the left parties or coalitions for I’m both green and independentist [Had you not noticed yet?] and I used to not mind CiU or PSC — although they’ve never been great at defending Catalonia’s interests or any other thing — since I’ve never felt that my culture was on the verge of extinction as badly as now. On the other hand, I do really dislike PPC a lot because they are far from Catalan and far from the centre. They are the successors of the politicians who served Franco during the dictatorship, and some of them are even the same people! That is, politicians who forbade speaking Catalan for years, who enjoy limiting people’s rights and only care about money and the upper-class as they were born in it.

Unfortunately, Spain is too young a country to expect its citizens to understand what democracy is and how it works; let alone trust them with the power to decide. For this reason, after some years of a global crisis, the people punished the party that happened to be on the government as if it were only its fault by electing someone they judged worse on two previous occasions. I must say that Catalan citizens are starting to become influenced by this, but I still have some faith in them.

Just have a look at these graphs with the results to realize how different Catalonia is from Spain. While PP (the PPC’s Spanish parent) won the elections everywhere, Catalonia and the Basque Country put their own national parties on the first place. Is anything else needed to make clear that Catalonia is not Spain? Are we going to be under the yoke of a government that doesn’t represent us and could even harm our culture? CiU are not know for wanting the independence and, the very moment that the results were officially broadcasted, its militants started shouting for it. Those claims can’t be ignored.

Isn't it obvious that Catalonia is not Spain?

PS: Let me send a humble message to those who don’t vote as they are against the system because they noticed all the dark spots of it. We should keep in mind that a great part of the abstention comes from people with left-beliefs who are giving the power to right parties by not doing a simple action which, by the way, is the only officially binding and instantly effective one they allow us to do.