Friday, January 23, 2004
¿Quién muere?

Muere lentamente quien se transforma en esclavo del hábito,
repitiendo todos los días los mismos trayectos,
quien no cambia de marca, no arriesga
vestir un color nuevo y no le habla a quien no conoce.
Muere lentamente quien hace de la televisión su gurú.

Muere lentamente quien evita una pasión,
quien prefiere el negro sobre blanco y los puntos sobre las "ies"
a un remolino de emociones,
justamente las que rescatan el brillo de los ojos, sonrisas de los bostezos,
corazones a los tropiezos y sentimientos.

Muere lentamente quien no voltea la mesa cuando esta infeliz en el trabajo,
quien no arriesga lo cierto por lo incierto para ir detrás de un sueño,
quien no se permite por lo menos una vez en la vida,
huir de los consejos sensatos.

Muere lentamente quien no viaja, quien no lee, quien no oye música,
quien no encuentra gracia en sí mismo.

Muere lentamente quien destruye su amor propio, quien no se deja ayudar.
Muere lentamente, quien pasa los días quejándose de su mala suerte o de la lluvia incesante.

Muere lentamente, quien abandona un proyecto antes de iniciarlo,
no pregunta de un asunto que desconoce o no responde cuando le indagan sobre algo que sabe.

Evitemos la muerte en suaves cuotas, recordando siempre que estar vivo
exige un esfuerzo mucho mayor que el simple hecho de respirar.

Solamente la ardiente paciencia hará que conquistemos una espléndida felicidad.

Pablo Neruda
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
I found this pretty cool link on how to avoid logical fallacies ...probably a good read for anyone who wants to be politically involved or, in fact, anyone who wants to write or simply recognize poor arguments. It may sound boring at first to sift through lessons in logic (personally I think it's fun -- but then again I actually enjoyed writing the LSAT!!!), but a closer look may show you just the extent to which we frequently engage in these types of errors. As importantly, it reveals how often politicians or journalists or thinkers engage in these types of errors. Certainly, most media advertising would actually fall into one of the categories.

Take a look at the Coke tv commercials. The caption on the site reads "Whatever is true in your life, Coca-cola is right there with you. Watch as everybody keeps it real in the latest TV commercials." How true is that? Do we all have coca cola right there for us in the most important moments in our lives? Is coca cola a "person", capable of "being there", or of making people "keep it real"? Are people more "real" because they drink coke? Are we happier because we can buy coke, rather than pepsi or any other product? I love watching commercials and questioning the messages behind the ads. There is a reason companies spend over $200 billion dollars a year on advertising. Take a look at this article describing some of the most common techniques employed in advertising.

By being aware of what we, as people, are encourage to do, to buy, to think, or to be, as consumers, we may have more deciding power in our lives. By being aware of the logical fallacies we are sold every day -- "if you buy this shoe your flailing relationship will no longer matter," "if you drink this juice girls will want you," etc -- we can take steps to rectify our own educated choices.
Monday, January 12, 2004
It seems blogspeak is down...if it's not up soon I will install a new comments program...meanwhile, I have added an e-mail link if you want to comment.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
After doing some research on language use I've installed the translating buttons on the right (I've linked to all six languages Google translation provides -- once I figure out how to translate into non-European languages a link will be included). I know it's not quite the same and the translations are never one hundred percent accurate, so whenever possible I will work on translating comments as well.

On another, equally important but more serious note, is this news story about the limited access to the internet that many Cubans now face. It goes right along with my previous point about the usage of the internet as an alternative and unofficial means of spreading information, especially to those who would otherwise find themselves in areas where the media is tightly controlled (or, in fact, from such tightly controlled areas to the world at large). Cuba is curbing the accessibility of the internet by charging extra for this service in US dollars (i.e. by reserving it for the elites) and by restricting it to those who are pro-regime. I think this is one of the most restrictive measures any regime can take.
Blogging: Media Responsibility

I took a picture of this boat in Colombia a few months ago...I think it's amazing that people can live here, but it's also beautiful in its own way that so many things we think we can't live without -- that television that is just one inch bigger -- are so unnecessary if we stop to think for just one second.

In any case, I got this link from Salam Pax's blog and I found it's worth the two minutes it takes you to read.

I recently wrote Salam asking how he feels knowing that with the rising popularity of his website his blog is becoming an alternative news source for many people around the world. I agree with his reply that "what we [Iraqi bloggers] are, or at least that is what I think we should be doing is act like watchdogs." I think this point cannot be overly stressed. With the widespread dissemination of non-official, non-commercial (i.e. non Multi-National Corporation-approved) information that tools like weblogs and the internet provide us, it is great that we should take full advantage of these tools to reach those who would otherwise have no access to first-hand information. As much as the internet is a product of modernity and globalization itself, it presents us with an alternative solution to the ever-narrowing "thinking" space that MNCs leave us. If you look at you will find that this giant business conglomerate alone owns and operates several mainstream media publications: CNN news around the world, Time magazine, People magazine, AOL, ICQ, MapQuest, Warner Bros. entertainment, HBO, Cinemax, several local news channels, Money magazine, InStyle magazine, Sports Illustrated magazine, and several others. It is not just in Iraq, but in Canada, in the US, in Colombia, in the UK, in Germany, in Japan, in Chile, among a few, that we must ask ourselves: how much do we really know? How many Americans do you think know the difference between what their nation claims as its goals and what it does? How many people, who express their anger at those who stand up against the unjustified latest war in Iraq, claiming that they are rejecting or inappreciative of the US proclaimed goals of democracy, peace, and justice, could be helped by simply being better informed about international relations? How many people, whose opinions are based on cliche mottos provided to them by corporations like Time Warner, could be in better positions to advocate true peace, by simply questioning the sources of information they take for granted?

To many what I have just written is so self evident it may seem redundant. Yet so many, too many, people in the so-called first world, especially in the US, never even question their sources of information! It's not because CNN has as its slogan "the most trusted name in news" that it is, in fact, trustworthy. In fact, I would encourage you to do an experiment -- go to Europe, watch CNN during daylight hours (usually it's either from the UK or from Hong Kong), then stay up at night until 5am and watch American CNN news reports. I'm not saying that the news in Europe are perfect but they are farther along the way. You will be amazed by the difference. You will be amazed by the contrast in what each news report emphasizes.

It is great that with the spread of weblogging we are given an important tool to spread information unofficially. Let us use this tool responsibly, to promote thinkers who are able to question and make educated decisions in creating their opinions.
Saturday, January 10, 2004
I have finally found a website where I could post my pictures and have them show up in the blog (for some reason I was having difficulty doing this with geocities). So, from now on you'll be able to see pictures I have taken in the Third World (mostly Latin America). This is a nice way to add a more personal touch to the things that we say. As my phlog shows, the purpose is to celebrate the beauty of the Third World beyond the stereotypical images we receive -- that people (especially people in Latin America!) are miserable, that they just want to be like Americans, etc...I hope that our site and our images and our words will contribute to changing some of these concepts.
Dicen que Bush Jr. quiere establecer una colonia permanente en la Luna...y mandar a sus conciudadanos a Marte...Creo que, ya que ha tenido él la brillante idea, ¿por qué no se ofrece voluntario para Marte y manda a todo su gabinete a la Luna? Así ya tendremos en su lugar apropiado a los lunáticos que fastidian a diario a millones de seres humanos y a él jugando a "marcianitos", que es lo que verdaderamente le fascina. Lo malo es que están haciendo planes de aquí a unos 10 años vista...rogamos a la NASA abandone el resto de sus programas y se dedique en cuerpo y alma a facilitarle su sueño a Junior y Compañía.

Nota: Menos mal que parece que no hay selenitas en la Luna, porque me parece que tienen planeado llamar a la nave "Mayflower II" y celebrar no sé qué día de acción de gracias, antes de aniquilarlos a casi todos y meter al resto en reservas lunares con casinos y mucho, mucho alcohol.
Friday, January 09, 2004
A great link on the wonderful effects of NAFTA...
This was an article in the Financial Times two days speaks for itself.


Argentine relations cool with US
By Adam Thomson in Buenos Aires and Mark Turner in New York
Published: January 7 2004 20:39 | Last Updated: January 7 2004 20:39

Less than a week before a meeting between presidents Néstor Kirchner of Argentina and George W. Bush of the US, Argentina on Wednesday warned that the days of its automatic support for the world's most powerful nation were over.

"Carnal relations and automatic alignment [between the two countries] don't exist any more," Alberto Fernández, Argentina's cabinet chief, said on Wednesday, referring to a phrase coined during the 1990s to describe the South American nation's then unwavering support for the US.

Mr Fernández's stinging comments came a day after Roger Noriega, the US State Department's assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs, criticised what he saw as "a certain leftward drift" in Argentina's foreign policy.

The spat comes at an awkward time. In spite of ideological differences that separate Mr Bush and the centre-left Mr Kirchner, the two leaders have so far maintained a friendly relationship. The US has also been supportive of the Argentine government, and was instrumental in getting the IMF to sign a three-year deal with Argentina last September.

The two are set to hold private talks at next Tuesday's special summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico. Some observers fear Mr Noriega's comments may signal a tougher line by the US towards Argentina.

Mr Noriega even suggested Argentina's return to economic growth after four years of recession "might have b een more of a bounce than a full rebound", and underlined the importance of paying back foreign creditors who hold billions of dollars in defaulted bonds.

On Wednesday, Mr Fernández called Mr Noriega's comments on Argentina "impertinent". Aníbal Fernández, Argentina's interior minister, said the US official's remarks were "those of an insolent individual".

La arrogancia del Sr. Noriega (todo ello demostrado en su pésima labor como Embajador de los EEUU ante la OEA), genuino representante del neofascismo que impera en el pérfido Norte, mamado a las ubres del ínclito e infame Senador Jesse Helms, de triste recuerdo, no tiene límites...mejor sería que se dedicara a revisar su política latinoamericana de la cual es desgraciadamente responsable, y a la cual critican foros moderados y hasta de derechas de su propio país, tales como el Council on Foreign Relations (nada sospechosos de ser un grupo de rojos izquierdistas camuflados bajo las siglas una organización no gubernamental), en su último informe sobre política andina. Más vale que revise la viga en su ojo derecho antes de ver la paja en el izquierdo de los argentinos, y defienda el interés de los ciudadanos de bien de los Estados Unidos y no de los grupos financieros y multinacionales que apoyan al Partido Republicano y a su mafia pro-bélica.
Un mundo nuevo es más posible de lo que imaginamos...un mundo en el que haya cabida para todos, en el que sean posibles todas las utopías, en el que los locos sin remedio puedan llegar a ver cumplidos sus sueños, en el que la justicia sea moneda común entre los mortales, en el que la solidaridad ya no sea algo excepcional, en el que la avaricia rampante pueda ser automáticamente desechada, en el que el corrupto sea desterrado, en el que no existan prioridades estratégicas, económicas o militares que pisoteen el derecho de la gente a vivir en paz, en el que no sea posible resguardarse en la indiferencia o en el miedo para no actuar, para no cambiar aquello que deseamos cambiar. En el que la violencia no sea moneda de curso legal, acuñada y promovida por Estados y particulares para defender infames intereses.

Para conseguirlo hay que dar un gran paso, el primero. Comprometerse uno mismo. Con los de nuestro entorno. Con los que más sufren. Con el resto. Contra todo y todos los que oprimen y mantienen las desigualdades.

Ayúdanos a decidirnos...todavía tenemos miedo a perder nuestro pelaje burgués y acomodado dentro del unión puede que haga la fuerza suficiente para saltar...hacia la utopía, sí,...hasta la victoria, siempre.

English version:

A new world is more possible than we imagine...a world in which there is possibility for all, in which all utopias are possible, in which those who are considered dreamers may be able to see their dreams become real, in which justice is the only currency between humans, a world in which solidarity is not something exceptional or extraordinary, a world in which avarice may be undone, in which those who are corrupted are groundless, a world in which there are no priorities based on strategic, military or economic interests that walk all over the right of humans to live in peace, in which it is not possible to save oneself in the fear of non-action, so that one does not change that which we ought to change. A world in which violence is not a legal means of action, approved and promoted by States and persons to defend questionable interests.

Achieving this world starts with a first step. To make a commitment is such a step. A commitment to those around us. To those who suffer most. To the "others." A commitment against everything and everyone who would oppress to maintain inequality.

Help us decide...we are still afraid to lose our bourgeois appearance and our places in the system...such a union between us could make us strong enough to overcome this...until utopia yes...

hasla la victoria, siempre
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Welcome to this international forum for the discussion of international relations.

I was planning to include some pictures here but until I can figure out how to do so without upgrading (yes, students are very poor) a link to my phlog site will have to do...

:hasta la victoria!
Welcome to this site...more info soon