Think the U.S. economy feels shaky? Try doing business in Argentina, where corruption is the norm, regulations are absurd, inflation is rampant, and financial crises are a dime a dozen (11 cents next month).
Because: I find it fascinating this lengthy feature turned up in June’s issue of Inc. magazine, a U.S. publication focused on entrepreneurship and developing companies. It is the most thorough, insightful and well reported piece I have read to date on Argentina’s financial situation and its contemporary economic history.
El brunch mezcla huevos, café y delicias varias en ese híbrido momento del día, que no es la mañana, pero tampoco la tarde. Aquí, 15 recomendados para disfrutarlo en Buenos Aires.
Because: Weekend brunch, usually on Sundays, has become a favorite weekly tradition of mine. Granted “brunch” can sometimes mean going for Mexican food at 3:30 p.m., I still look forward to the relaxed meals, good conversation and buena onda that breaks up my Sundays, which I do love to keep lazy. I’ve been a handful to these places already, with Malvón topping my personal list, and I plan on working through the rest.
"Brunch" in Buenos Aires is something of a developing concept; whereas every establishment in New York City seems to have people queuing up on weekends for brunch, I’ve had to explain the concept to quite a few Argentines. That’s fine with me, though, I am more than happy to function as a Buenos Aires brunch ambassador.
Because: I appreciate how this article subtly, sweetly conveys so much about the history, culture and fundamentals of Buenos Aires and its people. It is an informative, well-written overview that I think would leave any reader better acquainted with the city’s character.
"We don’t have a middle road," agrees one young porteño (a person from Buenos Aires). “We love or we hate.”
Because: It took me getting out in the world for real, as in for an immersion experience rather than brief vacation, to realize the U.S. treats vacationing and traveling very differently than many other countries do. What I mean is, we do not prioritize it… at all. While in Barcelona and traveling around Europe, I couldn’t get over the scores of people I met who were living abroad or traveling for extended amounts of time. There were friends taking four months to explore Europe, others who were participating in their second Erasmus program. Really, the only “traveling” we encourage in the States is a study abroad stint, and as the “gap year” is becoming more popular, I suppose there is that, too. Still, the concept of taking time to experience the world, as well as relax, is not valued at all like in the U.S. like it is in European countries. The status quo employment situation is minimal, minimal time off, and people often work through it.
It will surprise few to know I am a huge proponent of what is generally considered the more European approach to work and travel. It extends to countries well outside Europe, though, including Australia and Argentina. (Wednesday is another national holiday here. I swear in my eight months here there have been more national holidays than all childhood in the U.S.) It’s not about national holidays or laziness; it’s more about prizing balance.
The last thing I will say before quoting interesting bits from the story is, if labor-loving Germans can get down like this, so can we.
It’s typical for Germans to take off three consecutive weeks in August when “most of the country kind of closes down,” Schimkat said. That’s the time for big trips, perhaps to other parts of Europe, or to Australia or North America. Germans might also book a ski holiday in the winter and take a week off during Easter.
That makes the U.S. the only advanced nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee its workers annual leave, according to a report titled “No-Vacation Nation" by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal policy group.
Working more makes Americans happier than Europeans, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Happiness Studies. That may be because Americans believe more than Europeans do that hard work is associated with success, wrote Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, the study’s author and an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.
He noted that the United States came in fourth in the World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 rankings of the most competitive economies, but Sweden — a country that by law offers workers five weeks of paid vacation — came in second.
"What Happens to All the Asian-American Overachievers When the Test-Taking Ends?"
Because: This article is hugely fascinating. Higher education, immigration, cultural immersion, racism—it analyzes and works in all of it. I had never heard of the concept of the “bamboo ceiling” or considered how rare it is to see an Asian in an upper management position, despite the number of them with strong educational pedigree. But, I’m not going to continue babbling and ruin it. I really think you should read and discover it yourself.
Because: Have you seen this video? My friend passed it to me when it still was in the low thousands for views, and I fell in love. The story behind it adds to its sweetness, though it’s not very hard-hitting (but what is there to be hard-hitting about, I suppose). All I could think is how adorable, how happy and innocent and joyful. We can over-think our feelings often, and these two remind us to take delight in the simplest, purest things. Sorry to get all moral-of-the-story on you. That’s at least how it is for me.
Because: Appropriately, I found out about Osama’s demise through Twitter, the same place the news first broke. People were saying, “You will never forget the moment you found [this] out.” I don’t think I will forget I was in Buenos Aires, or any detail of my discovery, same as I will never forget hearing the news about 9/11 in 8th grade social studies class, then returning home early and learning of lost lives: neighbors, parents’ friends, friends’ parents…
Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of multitudes of innocent individuals. September 11th was tragic. All fact. Still, the news of Osama’s death left me not knowing how to feel or act. All I could think about was the future: What is next and what does this all mean? Osama’s death is a momentous event. But where does it leave us all, the U.S., Al Qaeda and the world? Nicholas Kristof’s post here is the most valuable post-Osama piece I’ve read. The succinct headline, “After Osama Bin Laden…” reflects what I had been feeling: that unease and need to question.
What turned out to be for me one of the biggest causes to think was others’ reactions to the news, specifically the celebrating. I wish for the disappearance of evil as much as the next moral individual, but the fanfare had me thrown. This WSJ article, Joy Over Osama: The Science helped explain it all and helped me sort through that set of uncertain emotions, and this thoughtful piece in Salon—"USA! USA!" is the wrong response"—acquitted me of my fears of lack of patriotism for not squealing with excitement over the news. I have since found another block of text to cling to in all this, and it’s a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that has been spreading through social media. Though five of your Facebook friends probably have already posted it, I will include it below anyway. I think it is one of the most meaningful and important quotes we can look to right now. It points us in the right direction.
I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
(NOTE: After I posted this, we all learned the above was actually a misquote. From “Returning hate for hate…” on is King’s quote, though, and I think still very applicable.”)
Also, I want to reiterate how much I recommend reading the "USA! USA!" Salon piece. I can only hope as many in the U.S. as possible take the time to do so.
Translation: Barrio Italia (in Santiago) follows in the footprints of Buenos Aires’ Palermo (neighborhood)
Because: About a week ago I spent a couple days in Santiago, Chile with my dad. It was there, seeing and reading this article in the paper over breakfast, that it really sunk in: Buenos Aires really is the trendsetting city of South America, and my current neighborhood of Palermo my current neighborhood is its beating heart. Where I am is really cool. I have known that and embraced it, but I need to remind myself of it more, same as I did in any city I’ve called home, even if only for a couple months. A reminder to appreciate where you are never hurts.
Side note/my personal take on Santiago: Santiago is a beautiful city, very charming, though I think it lacks the same palpable energy—that figurative rumbling beneath the surface—that Buenos Aires has undeniably.
Fun fact: Forty percent of Chile’s population lives in Santiago.