....LMB: "[Anything But "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"]"....

August 30, 2002

Znet has printed an absolutely excellent article about Argentina since its economic meltdown last December, Micropolitics and the Cooking-Pot Revolution in Argentina. Even if you know little or nothing about the country, it's worth a look.

First of all, the article paints a pretty vivid picture of the street protests that broke out when things reached their boiling point, and also of the current situation in which most Argentinians find themselves. Second, it gives a thorough history of the country's political and economic breakdown. And third, it does what many news articles about modern Argentina don't: talk about the new "micropolitics" out in the streets.

This last bit is a fascinating development, and a cause for hope or fear, depending on your outlook. The Argentinian people, with nothing but white-hot scorn for their government, have spontaneously organized their own neighborhood councils, doing the work that needs to get done without waiting for higher powers to do it, or waiting for official approval from the powers that be.

"Survival dictates new forms of sociability. In many areas it is the assemblies that carry out communal buying of essential goods, run crèches, maintain canteens in schools, prevent evictions of non paying tenants or mortgage holders, negotiate with electricity and gas companies and run vegetable gardens. Staying at home is not a good option. Formerly unknown neighbours act as kind of proxy family, intervening constantly to help the worse-off to overcome 'limit situations' such as the suspension of electricity or not having enough coins to take a bus to the hospital. In my neighbourhood, an occupied house plays the role of social centre, Saturday night disco and even cinema. The only real cinema in the area has long been sold and turned into an evangelical church, while the “multiplexes” of the shoppings are now out of reach. The need to travel on foot or on bicycle has meant the forced discovery of neighbourhoods that were previously little more than dormitories for their inhabitants.

"The very geography of Buenos Aires seems to have been transformed by the events of December. Groups of people are huddled together on every street corner. The variations of work-shopping-blockbusters-home have been replaced by variants of home-assembly-canteen-march-party.

Perhaps to speculate as to the ultimate outcome of the movement is to miss the point, given its almost conscious rejection of final aims or goals, and the lack of any impulse to form stable political institutions or parties."

In some ways it's not pretty, and it's certainly not guaranteed to succeed. But unlike a lot of other social structures, it seems pretty damn human.

Posted by Jake at 03:25 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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