17 August 2010

2010.08.17_Apple introduces multitasking: exploiting, monopolizing, profiting.

Nothing to do with Argentina, or even South America -- where pulling out any device is like jumping up and down and yelling "I'm just visiting!" (in English) -- but a wickedly-relevant article for the rest of the world.

The baddest Apple in a rotten bunch
"...two factors in the targeting of Microsoft products were: One, they were the biggest player in town; and two, they were widely perceived to be monopolistic jerks whose drive for profit was far greater than their desire to encourage exciting software development.

On both counts, Apple should watch out."

11 August 2010

2010.08.11_fuck school!

This may not seem related to expropriation, but it is (see *) (and also I couldn't post it on my other blog because it references my current location).

Since I've been here, my brain has frequently revisited the topic of learning languages, and I've convinced myself that learning a foreign language in the school system is a really lame idea, if not impossible. Some personal examples coming. I studied Italian for YEARS in the university system, and could subsequently speak trivialities if I tried really hard. I lived in Italy for five months and could finally hold a meaningful conversation. I studied Spanish in high school for years and could order a taco, but could never remember if I wanted it caliente or picante. I've lived in Argentina for 11 months and can almost effortlessly maintain a philosophical and political argument about why gays should be able to adopt.

I think the reasons for these phenomenon are common sense, if not obvious. In high school, you're not given a choice -- you're obligated to take a foreign language, and you're involuntarily dropped into a relatively non-interactive, highly-structured, disempowering, artificial, and non-gratifying environment. In the university, you get to choose to enter a relatively non-interactive ... non-gratifying environment. In short, this artificial environment abstracts us from what should be the real goal, which is not to get the teacher to give you a good grade, but to be able to talk to people in the desired language. (Very much like the conventional work environment abstracts us from the real goal, which shouldn't be the compensation, but the finished product as a contribution to society.*)

For me this raises questions about our school system in general. If we learn foreign languages better in a real-world -- interactive, dynamic, empowering, and gratifying -- environment, why not other things. Maybe without the pressure-induced, mind-numbing, mechanical learning experience of school, the inherent desire to explore and learn and progress -- the one that we were all born with -- could prevail. Maybe the school system is what's killing us; teaching us to go for the grade instead of seeking real personal development; teaching us to obey authority instead of driving our destiny; teaching us to be taught instead of teaching us to learn.

Setting aside the environment (as if it could be set aside). and ignoring material issues (like disney-approved U.S. History stories), the status quo learning process raises questions itself. Why do we have to learn math for years so we can use it in something applicable like astronomy or computers? Why do we have to nail grammar structure before we can use it something interesting like a conversation? I'm not saying that there is no place for math or grammar -- I am a seriously huge fan of both -- I just don't see why we can't just jump in and learn the fundamental basics through experience, through the process of learning what we ultimately want to be learning. Unless what you ultimately want to learn is math or grammar, which is totally cool. What I'm trying to say is that our system is largely based on the delay of gratification, and delay of gratification is... not gratifying.

Maybe those rebel kids that wrote "fuck school" on their binders were right the whole time. Maybe California is on the right track, and the next step is to shut down ALL the schools. Maybe school told Google it would be a good idea to ruin the internet. Maybe school is NOT cool.

10 August 2010

2010.08.10_secret sources report from Bolivia

The limits of reformism in Bolivia

Jason Farbman reports from Bolivia on the indigenous movement's challenges to the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales.

"Capitalism merchandises everything. It seeks continual expansion. The system needs to be changed. We have to choose between change or death. Capitalism is the number one enemy of mankind."
-- Evo Morales, Bolivian president

"[T]here won't be a socialist revolution in a nation of small producers...We aren't thinking about socialism for the immediate."
-- Álvaro García Linera, Bolivian vice president

FIVE YEARS after the historic election of Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, ordinary Bolivians are beginning to realize the limitations of reforms possible in a world system of capitalism.

Bolivia remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and it's led to a regional version of state capitalism called... (find out here)

06 August 2010

2010.08.06_WTF Google

Who the hell told Google it would be a good idea to ruin the internet??

05 August 2010

2010.08.04_I can't believe we're still protesting this shit.

Oh noooooo! The Argentine conservatives were RIGHT. Let The Gays marry in one country, and they'll want to do it all over the world. Now what do we have... California's precious Prop 8 threatened? Good god what's next. Equality for EVERYBODY? Constitutional rights?? Communism?!?

(prop 8 protests, SF, 2009)

02 August 2010

2010.08.01_critical mass, buenos aires

From San Francisco to the Obelisco...

...es una masa! Una masa crítica! I made that up myself. I also made up "Bici sí! Otoño!" Well that's what I thought we were yelling, which doesn't make sense, cause it's winter here. "Bici sí! Auto no!" is way harder, and fortunately what it turns out we were actually yelling.

Also, at the starting point, I took a break from Critical Mass to join a protest against doggy abuse, so that's why those photos are there.

15 July 2010

2010.07.15_el matrimonio gay

At almost four in the morning, after 14 cold hours, Argentina's Senate finally ran out of words and settled on passing gay marriage, making itself the first Latin American country to make this huge step against discrimination and for equal rights -- even to stupid things like marriage. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!