Random thoughts #4: fire in Barceloneta, election year and Covid

So.

Been a while.

I thought I’d come back with a few random thoughts.

‘Cause, you know…

Shit’s been hoppin’ around here.

Post-lockdown, I’m just spending all my time walking around, enjoying my freedom, and not writing all that much.

Anyway, I’ve got some Covid stuff to talk about today.

As well as some tragedy. And some American politics – also a tragedy, in a way.

Let’s start with the real tragedy.

Fire in Barceloneta

Yesterday there was a fire in a house about 2 blocks from here.

Three Pakistani guys died. Guys who sold mojitos on the beach, or drove rickshaw bikes.

There were 7 people living in the flat, apparently. Like almost everywhere else in the barrio, it’s 35 square meters.

(That’s just under 400 square feet, for those in the US, and you wouldn’t fucking believe how much it costs to live in such a small space.)

Anyway, at about 6 in the morning, some of the rickshaw-bike batteries they were charging under their bunk beds caught fire. Four of the guys got out, and three burned alive.

When I first came to Barcelona, and saw these types of guys, I couldn’t imagine what was so bad about their part of the world that they had to come here to sell mojitos on the beach.

Then I went to their part of the world (approximately) and now I know exactly why they thought this was a step up.

I’m sure it’s hot and unprofitable selling drinks on the beach, and annoying as fuck sharing 35 square meters with six other guys… but I’m equally sure, at this point, that living in a slum in Islamabad is quite a bit worse.

Somewhere in South Asia.

Anyway, I obviously have no say in these things, but it’d be great if the Spanish government would do something about the situation of the sinpapeles – and while they’re at it, about the real estate situation in the major cities, the economy sucking donkey balls, etc.

For now, though, they’re just promising to hand out a lot of free money. But for some reason, I have a feeling that money will never make it to the people who need it most.

If our noble PM Pedro Sanchez has a billion euros to bail out either the airlines or the rickshaw drivers, I don’t imagine him thinking twice before cutting a huge check to Iberia and calling it a day.

(If you want to know about my own long journey through Spanish bureacracy, you’re in luck. I’ve got an article about it right here: How to get a work permit in Spain.)

Meanwhile, I can’t even vote, and as far as I can tell, none of the major parties are trying to help out the ones who need it most.

Especially here in Catalonia.

Speaking of voting…

Election year in the USA

Another presidential election is coming up in the US.

And let me say: I’m horrified to notice that the two main candidates both are geriatric white millionaires who can barely string together a coherent sentence.

VP candidate Kamala Harris, at 55, looks shockingly youthful next to Biden, Trump or Pence. So let’s give her that.

Anyway, my usual opinion is that worrying too much about politics is a waste of time.

You can do all kinds of things to make the world (and your community) a better place today.

Right now, in fact.

Worrying about what a bunch of guys (and gals) in suits are doing out in DC is probably not helping much.

Full disclosure, by the way: I was actually thinking of voting for Kanye as a “protest vote” for a while… Until I saw that the first thing on his platform is about reintroducing prayer in schools.

No thanks.

In any case, I’ve gotten more joy out of listening to Ye over the past decade or so than I’ve gotten from listening to any of the other candidates.

Here’s my favorite…

My recommendation – because of course you’re interested in my recommendation – is that you can vote or not. Vote for Trump or vote for Biden. Or for Kanye. Or for whoever the Green Party is running – if the Green Party even exists these days.

Vote for whoever you want. It’s a democracy.

But at the same time, make sure that voting isn’t the only thing you’re doing to make things better.

Help out your neighborhood or your community. Support local business.

And stop pretending that posting about your outrage on Facebook is changing the world.

It’s not.

Finally…

Covid is here, and never really left

We’re seeing an uptick in Covid cases these days.

And since the media only sells fear, they’re trying to make a big deal out of it as much as they can.

But the fact is, before you had to be at death’s door to get tested.

Now they’re doing mass testing of people who feel fine, and finding that actually, a lot of people have it with few to no symptoms.

More testing, more cases.

Hardly a reason to panic.

Today, finally, El País has written an article that states these facts clearly. That at the end of the lockdown, 9% of people diagnosed with Covid were dying. Now, that number is 0.31%. That’s a mortality rate that’s 96% lower than before.

covid in catalonia
Recently in Roses, Catalonia.

On the other hand, a lot of countries are restricting travel to Spain, or from Spain. I’ve got international things I want to do in September and October, but it just seems like everything is still up in the air.

Those assholes in government could decide to take all our freedom away at any time, and there’s not much we’d be able to do about it.

Those of you who are into politics should probably already know this: governments granting themselves unlimited power to deal with an evil, mysterious enemy is basically how fascism happens.

But don’t worry.

Here in Spain, the left is in charge. And that’s never gone wrong, historically.

(Read that last sentence with heavy sarcasm.)

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today.

Hope you’re doing well.

Yours,

Mr Chorizo.

P.S. I’ve probably talked about this before, but if you want to know just how badly things can go for human beings, check out the Hardcore History podcast. Or, the same guy has a book called The End is Always Near, which has a great chapter on plagues – plus more ways that civilizations can end. Enjoy!

P.P.S. So that election went okay, right? Anyway, I’ve got a new article about it, called Stupid People from the Middle of Nowhere. Have fun!

Daniel
 

How did I end up in Madrid? Why am I still here 12 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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