“Living without banking,” Irishtimes.com
Because: Yeah, crazy. Since coming to Buenos Aires, the Argentine economy has become one of my primary fascinations. It started with little annoyances and confusions like, how come there are so many fake bills floating around, and the ATMs even dispense them? Why do the ATMs always run out of cash? Why do I have to pay everything in cash? Why does Claro, my cell phone service provider, not allow me to pay with an international credit card because only national credit cards are accepted? Then I started to see the bigger picture of this all and learning things such as the above statistic, or that the only way to buy property here is to show up with literally a suitcase of cash. Financially, this is a totally different world from the U.S. It’s a world in which an economic crash in 2001 slashed about everyone’s life savings in half and left them with even less trust in banks, and one where many residents nonchalantly and matter-of-fact predict another similar burst to happen very soon.
In related news, this happened Friday. “Argentina Peso Weakens Beyond 4 Per Dollar First Time on Record” (via BusinessWeek).
Because: The following is a not uncommon conversation.
Random Argentine: Where are you from?
Me: I’m from New Jersey.
Random Argentine: Oh, like “The Sopranos”!
Me: But I went to school in Chicago.
Random Argentine: “Mafia! Gangsters!”
I guess it’s better than being called a “guidette” and asked about “Jersey Shore,” right? I mean, that has happened here before, too.
Because: “Modern Family” is one of the best shows on TV right now, and it has the critics’ support and ratings to prove it. Also, I thought the journalist took an interesting angle analyzing the show’s intersection with technology. I have largely overlooked that aspect of the show, probably because my own life is just as immersed in technology such that it all goes unnoticed. The above quote really stuck out to me, though, because it reminds me of how I live my life here in Buenos Aires. With everything I do here, I almost always step back, analyze and immortalize it via Twitter or Facebook, through my Blackberry or on digital camera. I want to share it all, convey it all and remember it all. It’s a different sort of manifested internal dialogue, but it creates (or I create) intermittent pauses and asides throughout my day. Like right now.
Because: I spent the majority of my summer babysitting, and the subsequent majority of that time at the Princeton Community Pool. There I sat and splashed with my charges, among the gossiping and well-intentioned but often overbearing parents, mostly mothers. Princeton is such a diverse community, too, that the parenting was often done in a variety of languages, and I’m pretty sure I witnessed a fair percentage of the world’s parenting theories in action. Since that summer, as well as the start of my obsession with Modern Family, I’ve been more perceptive to parenting (sociologically-speaking) than I had been before, which is why this subject and the brouhaha surrounding it grabbed me.
This also was of interest to me because my younger sister is Chinese. She was adopted into our family, headed by a mom from Massachusetts and dad from Mexico. She is very smart and hardworking, but do people assume that is so when they meet her because she’s Asian and because they—incorrectly—think, was raised by a “Tiger Mother”?
I’m still figuring out what exactly Argentine parenting is, and if there is anything characteristic about it. All I know is, they raise them to love the noche, because I have seen more than one small child in a bar at night.
Because: While I might find occasional Argentine political antics as amusing as the next expat, where there is absolutely no humor to be found is in current American politics, and Arizona is ground zero. Since SB 1070, political activity in Arizona has continued to shock, baffle, disappoint and appall me. I cannot even begin to comprehend what is happening, nor why or how; I only know that it has me concerned for our country’s political future.
I have the vestiges of mythologized view of Arizona in my head, all leftover from childhood. The ruins, national parks, arid terrain and dry, dry heat we learned about in elementary school social studies just seemed so other-worldly to me. By God, Arizona has the Grand Canyon! The fourth-grader in me sees what Arizona should be, and it’s nothing like what it is now.
We just cannot do anything constructive with hatred.
Because: From bank robbers digging tunnels to Argentina’s version of “Big Brother”-meets-“Dancing with the Stars” to potty-mouthed politicians, Adrian Royo Caldiz bullet points Argentina’s most interesting, hilarious and important stories of the week. He injects his own commentary into the bits, which in a country where so much of the news is just so absurd you couldn’t even make it up, works well. Just don’t expect him to be nice.
For those reasons, it’s maybe something only expats can really dig, but it has become one of my regular must-reads.
Because: I generally don’t like to see shows or movies more than once, but when I find something I love, I read every titillating and/or insightful article about it I can turn up with Google. In fact, I can honestly say I enjoy reading about “Mad Men” almost as much as I enjoy watching the show.
The other night I finally saw “The Social Network.” In fact, I watched it while sitting on Facebook (did not plan that), and going on one of my reading rampages to learn more about Facebook’s early days, the real lives of the film’s key characters players and the making of the movie. How’s that for immersion?
I find everything about the Facebook creation story so fascinating. Though I would not consider myself as belonging to the pilot generation, I was on the site in its earlier days (2006) when a .edu email address was required to create an account. I remember all of its iterations and updates since then, the introduction of “Minifeed” included, though I never really removed myself from it all and considered how each change to the site — not to be dramatic — was bringing Facebook closer to becoming an ubiquitous presence in my life, influencing how I build and maintain all my relationships. A hemisphere removed from the majority of my family and friends, Facebook is my primary mode for keeping in touch. When you have photos, wall posts and Facebook chat, nobody feels that distant.
Well done, Mark Zuckerberg. (And Eduardo Saverin, Sean Parker, etc., etc.)