Because: When did we start joking so freely about rape?
Perhaps what repulsed me most about reading/watching these pieces (aside from Moore’s laugh, which struck me as jarring and near malevolent, after he cracks the “joke”) was realizing that while I have seen every episode of 2 Broke Girls, and do somewhat enjoy the show, though now I am going to reject that sentiment more. I really never noticed the rape jokes. I’m sure I heard them, but nothing registered as shocking. Apparently, I don’t even notice it anymore, and I do not think that’s acceptable.
Because: Speaking of the dollar, here is one of my latest articles, published in Bloomberg Businessweek. The visuals were there and I couldn’t pass it up. I suppose I still have “hard(er)” journalism in me, after all.
Because: Men are tying back their hair in New York City! This is one trend Buenos Aires was onto far before it’s northern “Yanqui” neighbor, the U.S. When I was living in the U.S. I often threw my hair up in a bun when hot, rushed, etc., but I rarely do it in Argentina, for the simple reason that most of the people sporting buns are dudes. And you know what? I kind of really like the look. I also am partial to men in headbands, another summer and/or soccer hair style choice here. I think both of these male preening trends are borrowed from fútbol culture and style. I don’t need to explicate that I do love watching men’s soccer.
Because: What I think I like most about this article and situation is that the author is a man. When reading this, I kept thinking back to all of the very machista, often misogynistic advertisements in Latin America, specifically my current home country of Argentina. They make me fume (like this gross, offensive ad spot) and I can only hope shock value proves not to sell here, either. We really can’t forget women comprise half (I think even a little more) of the population, especially when the aim is to sell a product to both genders, as is the case with VW or Burger King.
“Even if SOPA/PIPA are stopped this year, they’ll be back under new names next year. The entertainment industry can afford to keep at it, knowing that the public’s attention span is extremely short. The lobbyists who work on things like SOPA are paid to press these things through Congress. They can focus on them year after year, while the voting public has to make a conscious effort to keep tabs on their representatives.”—What I Wish Wikipedia and Others Were Saying About SOPA/PIPA
Because: Taking a stand against SOPA/PIPA is important, but this article gets at the deeper, more pressing issue. In the U.S. we are sorely unaware of what goes on in Congress and the decisions our own elected representatives make — on our behalf, supposedly — daily. Let this be what wakes us, me included, up.
Because: Neruda! His writing is even more sensual, and I mean he manages to almost always work all five senses, in its original iteration of Spanish, which after all is a romance language. Also, this quotes collection has just lengthened my personal reading list, because it reminded me of some authors and works I have yet to touch.
Because: All of us nerdy bookworm ladies cry out unison, because we have our manifesto! This is really sweet, though, and of course the final line is what gets me. I don’t count myself among the “girls who write” to whom the author alludes, because the writing I do (and all I can foresee myself doing) is non-fiction. Still, it’s a hopelessly romantic essay—and that’s the only way we’d want it.
Because: After months of dormancy (intimidation!) I’ve started using virtual pinboard site Pinterest: pinterest.com/kmartinezcarter/. I think what held me back was that I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to use Pinterest, so it seemed like an overwhelming and unfocused platform. I didn’t want a general travel board with photos from all over the world, then one with cute little home goods, nor one just with pretty images of my current city of residence Buenos Aires, though all of those do sound nice in theory. I was trying to figure out what specific purpose I could get from it, or in what way I wanted it to be a constructive way to waste spend time.
Today I arrived at my conclusion when daydreaming about two Brazilian destinations — Salvador de Bahía and Florianópolis — I am choosing between for an upcoming trip. Both are very different and therefore difficult to compare, but I was struggling to create a full, visual image of either place independently. I started pinning pictures of both and I started getting it, it being the destinations as well as how I could use Pinterest in a productive fashion.
I see my Pinterest boards, though only a few so far, as functioning as photo-based travel itineraries and planning tools or inspiration. I am pinning pictures to a Buenos Aires board of places and activities on my to-do list, for example, and photos of spots in Punta del Este I would like to see when I am there for the last weekend in January. Pinterest has finally won me over, which I knew would happen eventually and I wanted to happen.
“It’s bizarre,” remarked an admiring Jon Stewart, whose own program, “The Daily Show,” immediately precedes “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central and is where the Colbert character got his start. “Here is this fictional character who is now suddenly interacting in the real world. It’s so far up its own rear end,” he said, or words to that effect, “that you don’t know what to do except get high and sit in a room with a black light and a poster.”—
Because: I’ve always thought Stephen Colbert to be a genius, wickedly funny comedian who did important work. This election season he’s gone far beyond what that “work” previously entailed and transitioned his satire/political comedy from words into actions. Some of his actions might make us wonder if he’s the crazy one or we are (and does he even know?), but we’re all forced to look at ourselves hard and see that all of us collectively are being taken for the fool, and that it’s all our fault, because we made it that way for ourselves.
I am thrilled Colbert is physically inserting himself in the political system to show us how absurd, illogical and wrong many aspects of it are, especially leading up to an election season with viable candidates on the ballot who already have turned much of it into a disturbing embarrassment. (Take for example these repulsive quotes Rick Santorum has made.) Colbert has to be the country’s most talented and effective educator.
Because: I get all excited when awesome things happen to good, deserving people, especially friends of mine. Something like $6.5 million in funding is lightyears beyond a “awesome thing” such that it surpasses all other adjectives. To think this all started when I knew these guys at Northwestern! Now they make me feel cool because I can say that.
Because: I tire of articles that wag a finger at being too connected or too online, or ones that cry out for simpler times when everything involved more human contact, or whatever the various claims are. To me the authors come across high and mighty, as though they are talking down, and also as overly defensive. It’s cool if you use Twitter; it’s also cool if you don’t use Twitter. It’s a personal preference and as with everything, I think moderation is important.
Still, I gave this piece by Pico Iyer a chance after seeing numerous friends post it or send it out. (The author must have known how meta it all would be.) I enjoyed it; I did. All in all, I think it was considerate to all types of people mentioned and incorporated a well-rounded collection of points of view.
It also brought me back to my ski trip in Vermont two weeks ago with my family. I was swishing down the mountain, the first time skiing in two years. The trail was open in front of me and through my goggles everything looked monochromatic, like a black and white photograph of a wintry scene. My cheeks were numb, my muscles tightened to work my skis through the powder. I realized I was smiling and heard myself thinking this was the closest to nature—the elements I think was how I phrased it in my head—I had felt in some time. Then I paused, took out my phone and snapped a picture.
The composite of that experience for me is about right, and how I currently like life.
Also, the piece ends beautifully. I think it’s just that, that the generation after us will best us in how they compartmentalize their time and online connectivity.
Because: Growing up in the U.S., I had some friends who worked under the table at pizzerias, summer camps, what have you, but it was rare. Coming to Argentina and navigating the world of employment I learned how big a black market can be. In Argentina it is called working en negro, negro meaning black, like the black market, and a large percentage of the population works as such. Estimations as to the number of people working en negro hover around 4.5 million, and the city posts advertisements persuading people to make sure they and their bosses are on the books.
A quote in the article from the study’s author, Robert Neuwirth:
There’s a French word for someone who’s self-reliant or ingenious: débrouillard. This got sort of mutated in the postcolonial areas of Africa and the Caribbean to refer to the street economy, which is called l’économie de la débrouillardise—the self-reliance economy, or the DIY economy, if you will. I decided to use this term myself—shortening it to System D—because it’s a less pejorative way of referring to what has traditionally been called the informal economy or black market or even underground economy. I’m basically using the term to refer to all the economic activity that flies under the radar of government. So, unregistered, unregulated, untaxed, but not outright criminal—I don’t include gun-running, drugs, human trafficking, or things like that.
I was relieved to read the author was mindful to avoid condescension, or as he said “pejorative” terms and phrasing, and just looked at the objective research and facts.
This is a valuable study and I am glad to see an intelligent publication like Wired covered it. I hope more do the same. As Neuwirth shares in the interview, if this informal economy were a country its GDP would be around $10 trillion a year—which is a low estimation—or, the second-largest in the world following the U.S. We should know more about it.
Because: Last week Brazil overtook the UK as the world’s sixth largest economy. Brazil is getting rich fast, and the latest indication of said wealth is the debut of a Brazilian television program based in Rio de Janeiro that resembles Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise. As a general statement, Brazilians are very good-looking and love beautifying themselves, and a lot of money goes toward image. (Doctors in the country performs the most plastic surgeries in the world.) This show definitely will be showy.
“Modern society tends to regard itself as somehow better than previous ones, and technological advance reinforces that sense of superiority. But history teaches us that there is nothing new under the sun. Robert Darnton, an historian at Harvard University, who has studied information-sharing networks in pre-revolutionary France, argues that “the marvels of communication technology in the present have produced a false consciousness about the past—even a sense that communication has no history, or had nothing of importance to consider before the days of television and the internet.” Social media are not unprecedented: rather, they are the continuation of a long tradition.”—How Luther went viral
Because: Same method, different tools. This is a cool story that puts us in our historic contextual place.
Because: You might not make what you would with a USD or Euro salary, but people keep coming to Latin America, and Buenos Aires specifically, to work. I have come to understand it’s the concept of access, the opportunity of “making it” in some sense that seems within close enough reach, that pulls us to come and stay.
An Argentine friend of mine was having trouble finding a job for a bit and would jokingly blame me and other foreigners for taking the potential jobs. He said it in jest, but I wonder, is it true?
Because: My cousin’s husband and son secured Spanish passports under this measure. Her husband’s family fled Spain to Mexico (where they now live) to escape Franco’s rule. Apparently, when they send the finalized paperwork, they also issue a formal letter of apology. I think the most interesting aspect of this story is the volume of Cubans who were eligible. I imagine many who applied plan to leave and move to Spain.
Because: Breast cancer once was an untouchable subject in the U.S., and in many parts of the world it still is, as the late Ekvall’s quote shares. The best situation that can come out of the beauty queen’s untimely death is heightened awareness and a new, open dialogue about breast cancer. If you can’t even talk about it, how can you cure it or work to prevent it?
Because: What an unexpected and powerful obituary of sorts from comedian Margaret Cho.
To me, the most unsettling part of Kim Jong Il’s death is that in forcing us to think about North Korea and a megalomaniac dictator, to pay attention, we learn that we know so little about the country and its people under his rule — such as how they are still suffering from widespread starvation. The little knowledge that seeps out scares us, because we in the U.S. always go on and on about how much we love our freedom, and it’s shocking and unthinkable to us that today, in this world, someone like Kim Jong Il could happen.
Because: Sir, in all sincerity, who do you think you are to write to such a piece? This does little more than underscore the extent to which naivety in blinding, and how ignorant so many people are (and people in positions of influence, power) about the state of education in the U.S. today.
Because: Sheryl Sandberg gives a very important, very accessible TED talk that got me thinking about generally female inclinations or characteristics that have us holding ourselves back, as well as how men perceive professional situations, and what we can do about all of it. Her three takeaway points:
1. Sit at the table.
2. Make your partner a real partner.
3. Don’t leave before you leave.
And I love her closing quote:
I want my daughter to have the chance not just to succeed, but to be liked for her accomplishments.
For a deeper look at Sandberg and her work, both in regards to empowering female professionals as well as her career, I recommend this New Yorker profile.
“If you really want it to happen, you make it happen. You don’t need a new flatscreen every two years. You don’t need new car every ten years. People lock themselves into routines, and what they end up seeing of the world is so small and limited. I think its about priorities.”—
Because: The second edition of this book has been pretty well publicized, and I wrote it off as another general travel book. I also thought the number 1,000 was excessive, but on second thought, a number like 100 definitely would be too limiting. I really enjoyed reading about the background of the book, the rationale behind the title as well as the selection of featured locales. I think it should not be overlooked that the only places featured were spots the author had visited. Is it really that macabre to include the word “death” in the title? I find mortality inspiring.
“The rest of us, it turns out, constitute the nation’s fastest-growing religious demographic. We are the Nones, the roughly 12 percent of people who say they have no religious affiliation at all. The percentage is even higher among young people; at least a quarter are Nones.”—
Because: The article perfectly describes my religious view(s), as well as why I view it that way and how I arrived at such a stance. I am very disenchanted with organized religion, but I feel the need to believe in something higher, just because. I usually call myself “spiritual” when people ask, though the borderline nihilistic-sounding concept of “Nones” that the columnist puts forth is very fitting.
This article is so quotable, including everything about fun, entrepreneurship, etc.
Because: We have many ugly histories in the U.S., and the legacy of racism is one I realize we’re still very much trying to shake. This story gives that an image.
Charles Williams’ repeated quote about having “this whole town on (his) shoulders” haunts me a bit. I think it’s unreasonable to put so much pressure, in so many different aspects, on one student and I can only hope other people are working toward progress, too.
“With the economy at home showing no signs of improving, an increasing number of recent graduates from the United States are job-hunting in India. Eager for the talent, Indian companies have responded by setting up recruiting programs overseas. While the pay in India is usually much lower than a graduate would earn in America, a lower cost of living can mean a better quality of life. “The chance to travel the world and live in a colorful Asian democracy far outweighs salary considerations when you have just graduated,” Mr. Bennet.”—
Because: Change this to anywhere in the world, really, and apply. Like Buenos Aires. The key phrase for me in the above quote has to be the allusion to “quality of life.” “Quality of life” for me is whatever you want it to mean. Whatever makes you feel happy, challenged, fulfilled, sustained, whatever your priorities are, if you are experiencing it all regularly and to the degree to which you want, then your “quality of life” is better than better is how I see it.
I doubt many Argentine companies are recruiting at U.S. university job fairs, though. With what Deloitte pays its entry-level employees in the U.S. versus Argentina, for example, it would be laughable. I like this trend, though! Globalization: Let’s all give and take fairly.
And no, I can’t nor don’t dance tango. I was dancing salsa weekly for about three months, though. That was more to my ability level — as in I have rhythm but really no formal dance training to speak of aside from the U.S. suburban childhood requisite year or two of ballet and tap. But tango in the milongas is intoxicating to watch. It really is such a parallel universe, that of the milongas, and everything about tango is a cultural offering this city has entangled in its history that no other city can claim. I left every milonga more in love with this city, loving it to its guts.
Because: A friend from home studied nutrition in college, and eating with her is always educational. I can imagine many people would get annoyed in such a scenario, a situation where you learn how much crap is in seemingly simple ingredients or foodstuffs you regularly consume, but I want to know. Watching Food Inc. was like a religious experience for me. I don’t go around preaching, but I want to know what I’m putting into my body and have the knowledge to make healthy decisions. What you don’t know can hurt, and though my list of foods I prefer not to eat is growing rapidly, I hope I’m better for it.
To be a little new-age hippie, too, I want to add that the reason I turn from some foods (certain meat brands in the US, for example) are because of humanitarian issues. It’s all just so complicated, and I think Food Inc. should be required viewing in high school health classes, or required viewing somehow.
Just the other day, on a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a flight attendant who had come to recognize me from my many trips asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I write mainly about women, she immediately laughed and asked, “Oh, about how crazy we are?”
Her gut reaction to my work made me really depressed. While she made her response in jest, her question nonetheless makes visible a pattern of sexist commentary that travels through all facets of society on how men view women, which also greatly impacts how women may view themselves.
Because: I think this is an incredibly truthful and important piece of writing. Also, an extremely aggrandized (no positive connotations with that word) version of this phenomenon exists in Argentina, where a common way to describe a women is histérica, which translates to “hysterical,” though the term here implies multiple types of female “crazy.”
Because: This is especially true in Argentina where, as detailed in the story, a star was fully nude right on primetime television, in the Argentine version of Dancing with the Stars, which it seems everyone in the country watches. The lowest common entertainment denominator.
Because: There is no shortage of articles about Buenos Aires’ street scene, but I really like this one. There’s history, substantive interviews, illustrative detail and it doesn’t try to just go off the “street art in Buenos Aires is so cool” angle that trips up so many other stories on the subject.
Also, is the “walls could talk” phrase a Celine Dion reference, or is that just the context in which I learned of it? I’m pretty sure Celine just borrowed it, but the eight-year-old in me who memorized every word of her songs on Falling Into You wants to believe otherwise.
“There’s a fundamental difference between the rebels of the past and today: Generation Y are born entrepreneurs.”—Because: We were raised to think we were awesome and could do anything and deserved the world, and this is the result. Worse things could happen, I say.
Because: I have many, many friends in law school and know how hard they work, so this piqued my attention.
This is why institutions in the U.S. are supposed to great, so they/we say, because they teach us how to “think.” But a surgeon who didn’t know how to operate after graduating medical school? In Argentina, undergraduates study very specific careers, and their classes focus entirely on that, whether public relations, architecture or human resources. I’m not sure which is better, but I do wish my Medill journalism major had been less pre-professional. It was based squarely in the liberal arts, with 75 percent of our classes outside the journalism school, but I often felt constrained. Also, writing an article is nothing comparable to closing a merger.
Because: About a week and a half ago I tweeted in Spanish, “Why are the trees crying?” As of late, the trees have been dripping, sweating or crying, on clear, sunny days with no recent rainfall. It’s this curious phenomenon, and I shot out a tweet about it. I thought someone might know and respond, but I didn’t hear anything. Then today, I received this tweet. (For those who don’t speak Spanish, it means “Thank you for the idea that we saw in a tweet of yours: Trees that cry in Buenos Aires.”) The subject of the story is fascinating, but also what fascinates me is what this exchange says about contemporary journalism practices and how reporters generate ideas for stories. Groso!
Because: Cooking the books, the meat of the problem, continue with the inevitable (and in my case, poor) puns and double entendres, but the reality of Argentine inflation is priced and spelled and out right there on the McDonald’s menu. Now, let’s stop with the fine slapping. Also, if we’re going to play pretend and subsidize any prices, can it please be the taxi fares? This week’s increase makes it the third or fourth in my 15 months in Buenos Aires. Public transit is still unbelievably cheap, so unbelievably cheap that I fear when the price finally changes it’ll become 5 pesos a ride. Right now it’s 1,10-1,25 pesos.
Because: Happy Thanksgiving! Today is my favorite holiday. I love that the secular holiday is so important in the U.S. and to those from the U.S., that it’s such a pure holiday. Sure, tomorrow is Black Friday or whatever and consumerism rears its money-hungry head, but today is Thanksgiving and all that is on the agenda is eating, time with family and counting blessings. Everyone’s doing their best impression of recreating their own version of a Norman Rockwell painting.
This fourth Thursday in November 2011 is my third international Thanksgiving. The first of the holiday abroad was during study abroad in Barcelona, and it was the only day in my four months of that Barcelona utopia that I was homesick. I sobbed on video chat before going out to dinner with about 12 other U.S. students to an Argentine restaurant and making toasts of thanks for about three hours straight. Then I ended up in Argentina, thought not in an Argentine restaurant, for Thanksgiving 2010. The day began with me waiting on a corner at 8 am (which is, like, SO early for Argentime) for a friend to drop off a turkey that we were pretty certain he was going to have shot and plucked himself. Then the majority of that day, for which the weather was a hot, hot precursor to the oppressive Buenos Aires summer climate, I ran around the greater Palermo area in desperate search of a bird thermometer because we were going to cook that turkey for 20 people and do it well, gosh darn it, even though the only temperature options on our retro stove were one, two or three squiggly lines. Bird thermometers apparently don’t exist here; you just have to know when it’s done (test the leg!) and serve it with a generous helping of hope that you’re not poisoning anyone. In the end, I ate too much, gave a lot of thanks and no one got sick.
This year I’m working most of the day, then running home to roast vegetables for a Thanksgiving potluck at a place I’m still trying to locate on a map. Last night I had a mini pumpkin pie topped with caramelized pecans, thanks to Chef Mun’s event at the Oasis Clubhouse, so I’m already feeling a little festive. The distance is hitting me harder this year than last, probably because I’m just sitting here thinking about how in two weeks I’ll be home, and I’ll be there through Christmas and that’s wonderful, but it would have been perfect had I been able to swing my traditional celebrations for both holidays. So close yet so far. Still, with tradition I think it’s not the actual act of carrying them out that brings the joy or comfort, but the knowing that they’re there.