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December 10 2012

Four short links: 10 December 2012

  1. RE2: A Principled Approach to Regular Expressions — a regular expression engine without backtracking, so without the potential for exponential pathological runtimes.
  2. Mobile is Entertainment (Luke Wroblewski) — 79% of mobile app time is spent on fun, even as desktop web use is declining.
  3. Five UX Research Pitfalls (Elaine Wherry) — I live this every day: Sometimes someone will propose an idea that doesn’t seem to make sense. While your initial reaction may be to be defensive or to point out the flaws in the proposed A/B study, you should consider that your buddy is responding to something outside your view and that you don’t have all of the data.
  4. Building a Keyboard: Part 1 (Jesse Vincent) — and Part 2 and general musings on the topic of keyboards. Jesse built his own. Yeah, he’s that badass.

June 05 2012

Four short links: 5 June 2012

  1. StreetView: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (Adrian Holovaty) -- Now, I’m realizing the biggest Street View data coup of all: those vehicles are gathering the ultimate training set for driverless cars.
  2. Racist Culture is a Factory Defect (Anil Dash) -- so true.
  3. From Game Console to TV (Luke Wroblewski) -- Microsoft's Xbox video game console is now used more for watching movies and TV shows and listening to music online than playing video games online.
  4. Internet Everywhere -- video replay from the World Science Festival.

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May 29 2012

Four short links: 29 May 2012

  1. South Korean Kinect+RFID Augmented Reality Theme Park -- Sixty-five attractions over seven thematic stages contribute to the experience, which uses 3D video, holograms and augmented reality to immerse guests. As visitors and their avatars move through the park, they interact with the attractions using RFID wristbands, while Kinect sensors recognize their gestures, voices and faces. (via Seb Chan)
  2. Digital Citizenship -- computers in schools should be about more than teaching more than just typing to kids, they should know how to intelligently surf, to assess the quality of their sources, to stay safe from scammers and bullies, to have all the training they need to be citizens in an age when life is increasingly lived online. (via Pia Waugh)
  3. Simulating Anatomically Accurate Facial Expressions (University of Auckland) -- video of a talk demonstrating biomechanical models which permit anatomically accurate facial models.
  4. Depixelizing Pixel Art (Microsoft Research) -- this is totally awesome: turning pixel images into vector drawings, which of course can be smoothly scaled. (via Bruce Sterling)

April 20 2012

Four short links: 20 April 2012

  1. Tupac Coachella Behind the Technology (CBS) -- interesting to me is Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were considering taking Shakur with them on tour. Just as Hobbit, Tintin, etc. are CG-ing characters to look normal, is the future of "live" spectacle to be this kind of CG show? Will new acts be competing against the Rolling Stones forever?
  2. Javascript All The Way Down (Alex Russell) -- points out that we're fixing so much like compatibility, performance, accessibility, all this stuff with Javascript. We're moving further and further from declarative programming and more and more back to the days of writing heaps of Xlib or Motif toolkit code to implement our UIs and apps.
  3. wkhtmltopdf (Google Code) -- Simple shell utility to convert html to pdf using the webkit rendering engine, and qt. My first piece of "I wrote this, now you can use it too" open source was an HTML to PS converter (this was 1994 or so) via LaTeX. It's a useful thing, no really.
  4. Nicira (Wired) -- moving network management into software so the network hardware is as dumb as possible. Interesting continuation of the End-to-End principle, whereby smarts live at the edges of the network and the conduits are dumb.

November 28 2011

Iran:“Battlefield 3″ in Tehran

Ali Nazifpour, believes [Fa] Battlefield 3, a video game which includes a search for nuclear bombs in a future Iran, portraits a very inaccurate, ridiculous picture of Iran.An online petition launched against this game.

October 08 2011

Brazil: FIFA's Demands in the Run Up to the World Cup 2014

Brazilian blogger José Carlos denounces [pt] the controversial demands of FIFA (the highest governing body of football) on the preparation of the World Cup 2014 . Several Brazilian laws, such as the half price tickets', may be violated to ensure greater exposure of FIFA's products and profits.

October 07 2011

Brazil: Open Letter Defends Women's Dignity

Maria da Penha Neles, a Brazilian feminist blog, published an open letter [pt] by the activist Reginna Sampaio (@brazilpalestine) to the “sertanejo” [country music] duo Bruno & Marrone that, in a show in San Francisco, USA, called Brazilian women as sluts. The video of the show was widely shared online.


October 06 2011

Indonesia: Q! Film Festival

Q! Film Festival is a festival showcasing LGBT, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights films in Indonesia.

October 05 2011

Ethiopia: Miss Ethiopia Website Launched

Miss Ethiopia website launched, Arefe reports: “A new Miss Ethiopia website providing all the latest official information on the upcoming Miss Ethiopia 2011 beauty pageant was launched recently.”

October 04 2011

Puerto Rico: Calle 13 Reaches for New Heights in Music Video

With more than 2 million views since being uploaded to Youtube a week ago, Calle 13's new video “Latinoamérica” [es] has found widespread acclaim online and around the world. The clip, co-directed by Jorge Carmona and Milovan Radovic, begins with the Puerto Rican duo of brothers René Pérez Joglar (Residente) and Eduardo José Cabra Martínez (Visitante) visiting a small Peruvian radio station in the mountains, where they are introduced by a Quechua-speaking deejay. It then alternates between clips of Latin American people and landscapes, as well as several animated segments which allude to the lyrics “vamos dibujando el camino” [es] (we are drawing the way as we go).

A couple of blogs from the Puerto Rican blogosphere have commented on the video “Latinoamérica”. Ivonne Acosta Lespier, from the blog Sin Mordazas [es,] wrote:

En lo alto de los Andes, en tierra Inca, nuestros embajadores de buena voluntad René Pérez (Residente) y su hermano Eduardo Cabra (Visitante), censurados en su propia tierra, cantan lo que quisieran que nuestra gente escuchara a “las caras más bonitas que he conocido” que resultan ser los olvidados del mundo en la era del capitalismo salvaje.

In the heights of the Andes, in Inca land, our ambassadors of good will René Pérez (Residente) and his brother Eduardo Cabra (Visitante), censored in their own land, sing what they wish our own people could hear, to “the most beautiful places that I have known,” which are the world's forgotten people in the capitalist era.

She adds:

El estribillo podría ser un himno para cantarle a los desarrollistas preferidos por este Gobierno que se canta “verde” pero destruye la naturaleza de nuestra Isla para venderle terrenos, incluyendo los que antes estaban protegidos, al mejor postor y ganar millones.

The lyrics could be the hymn to sing to the favorite developers of this government, who call themselves “green” but destroy our island's nature to sell lands, including those lands that before were protected, to the best bidder and to win millions., which recently posted an essay [es] comparing Calle 13's “Latinoamérica” to a song by the ever-popular Mexican rock group Maná, that shares the same name, had this to say about the video:

Una colaboración entre los directores Jorge Carmona y Milovan Radovic, el vídeo captura la diversidad del continente, encontrando su esencia entre su gente y sus paisajes. Logra esto con la misma efectividad que lo hacen la música y letras del tema – René Pérez y Eduardo Cabra reconocen que el tema es más grande que ellos dos y que el trabajó está en documentar. Tampoco se trata de sorpresas, si no de un reflejo – de la historia, de la realidad, de la actualidad.

A collaboration between directors Jorge Carmona and Milovan Radovic, the video captures the continent's diversity, finding its essence among its people and landscapes. It achieves this with the same effectiveness as the song's music and lyrics - René Pérez and Eduardo Cabra recognize the song is bigger than the two of them and that their job is to document. It's not really about surprises, but of creating a reflection - of [the continent's] history, of its reality, of actuality.

René “Residente” Pérez, who has spent the week actively promoting the video through his Twitter account, @Calle13Oficial [es] proudly proclaimed to his millions of followers:

el video de #Latinoamerica en menos de 1 semana llegara a los 2 millones de views,sin sonar en la radio.

The video for “Latinoamérica” in less than a week will reach 2 million views, without the song being played on the radio.

He later added:

El video de”Latinoamérica” llegó a las 2 millones de visitas..Gracias a VEVO por nada..jeje..

The video for “Latinoamérica” reached 2 million views… Thanks for nothing, VEVO!

The video for “Latinoamérica” was uploaded directly to Youtube by the group, eschewing the popular music video syndication platform VEVO, which is used by many international artists and is co-owned by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media.

Calle 13 was recently nominated in a record-setting 10 categories for the 2011 Latin Grammy Awards, including “Song of the Year” and “Record of the Year” for “Latinoamérica.

*Post co-authored with César Santiago.

October 03 2011

via Huxley Vs. Orwell: Infinite Distraction Or Government Oppression? | Prose Before Hos 2011-08-24

// Originally from Recombinant Records: Amusing Ourselves to Death, adapted from Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman.

When I read this comic, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Brave New World:

“It’s curious,” he went on after a little pause, “to read what people in the time of Our Ford used to write about scientific progress. They seemed to have imagined that it could be allowed to go on indefinitely, regardless of everything else. Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate. True, ideas were beginning to change even then. Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. Still, in spite of everything, unrestricted scientific research was still permitted. People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were the sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years’ War. That made them change their tune all right. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled–after the Nine Years’ War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for. You’re paying for it, Mr. Watson–paying because you happen to be too much interested in beauty. I was too much interested in truth; I paid too.”


There was something called liberalism. Parliament, if you know what that was, passed a law against it. The records survive. Speeches about liberty of the subject. Liberty to be inefficient and miserable. Freedom to be a round peg in a square hole. //



this entry is part of the OccupyWallStreet compilation 2011-09/10, here.

Reposted byJasiuuuJaanis93zycienakrawedziBIERFICKlmnWiesengrundNehalenia

September 30 2011

Incredible Photos of North Korean Mass Game

Photographer Sam Gellman took 50 photos of a large-scale Mass Games in Pyongyang during his 4-day trip to North Korea. Although nearly 100,000 North Korean were mobilized for the game which is heavily laden with regime's propaganda, net users left good comments on Gellman who captured these incredible images.

September 28 2011

Mali: Senegal and Mali Final Expected in Afrobasket Women 2011

Starafrica comments [fr] on the Afrobasket Women Championship 2011 currently being hosted in Bamako, Mali: ” Mali, the host country and vice-champion, and Senegal, winner of the last Championship, are very convincing during this 22nd edition […]. The two national teams remain invincible. Coming up on the horizon is a final between Mali and Senegal on October 2, as in the previous Afrobasket Women Championship.”

September 26 2011

North Korea: Kim Jong-Il's Surprise Appearance On the Simpsons

Martyn Williams from the North Korea Tech blog wrote a short post on Kim Jong-il's appearance on “The Simpsons”. One character from the episode says that he was forced to write a musical about Kim in a North Korean prison and introduces a song addressing the regime's ban on internet.

Philippines: Anti-Planking Bill Draws More Planks

Congressman Winnie Castelo filed House Bill 5316 after student activists planked in the middle of busy Manila City streets to express support for jeepney (public utility vehicles) drivers striking against weekly oil price hikes. Castelo's anti-planking bill defines planking as follows:

planking is when a student or group of students lies face down in unusual locations especially in streets or other public places, keeping the hands along the body and the feet outstretched and especially where such act is meant as a form of redress of grievance against government.

But instead of discouraging the plankers, the proposal only made planking even more popular among the public with critics even planking in front of Castelo's own office in Congress to mock the measure.

Tine, who was part of the group who planked in Congress, asks:

If Rep. Castelo was so concerned with safe planking then he should have filed a Safe Planking Act (not that this will work…self-regulation within the planking community would probably be better). And why target planking protests? Actually, it is safer to plank with a big group of people.

Youth groups condemn the measure for curtailing freedom of expression and its repressive proposal to draft a code of conduct for students joining protest actions.

The anti-planking bill is not only against planking as a protest form, it even restricts our students from staging protest actions. This definitely goes against the youth’s fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Blogger Tonyo Cruz reacts against the measure:

The drafting of the bill is a total waste of time and money of taxpayers. Castelo and his fellow legislators should instead waste no time in studying and adopting measures addressing the subject of the plunking protesters — warrantless oil price increases, abusive oil cartels and taxes on petroleum products.

Planking for a Cause

A few months ago, planking protests were held against education budget cuts. A few days ago, thousands of students once again held massive plankings in various parts of the country as part of a weeklong nationwide campus strike against the cuts.

Contingents of the 10,000-strong march of public university students and teachers hold a mass planking in the Mendiola bridge leading to the Malacanang Presidential Palace. It could be one of the biggest planking protests in the world :

Teo Marasigan describes the mass planking protest:

Nag-planking sila papunta at nag-planking sila pagdating sa Mendiola. Dahil ginagawa nila ang tinutuligsa at sinisiraan ng mga nasa awtoridad, militante ang dating nila. Dahil marami sila, hindi sila mukhang nagkakatuwaan lang, kundi lumalabag, lumalaban.

They planked going to Mendiola and they planked when they got there. Because they did what authorities criticized and discredited, their posturing is militant. Because they are many, they do not look like they're just having fun, but transgressive and in fighting form.

The Facebook group “PLANK! For a Cause” was also created to encourage plankers to share planking photos that highlight a cause “to dramatize the militancy and creativity of the youth.” Some of the photos posted in the group includes that of human rights advocates plank for the release of all political prisoners in the country.

Another is that of activists planking to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Twitter Reactions

Some reactions to the anti-planking bill on Twitter:

@planetchuckie: The Anti-Planking Act of 2011 is even more useless and absurd than the act of planking itself.

An anti-planking law? Ano ito, in observance of d anniversary of martial law? This is equivalent to Marcos' banning of Voltes 5 and Daimos.

@teddycasino: An anti-planking law? What is this, in observance of d anniversary of martial law? This is equivalent to [the late dictator] Marcos' banning of [cartoon shows] Voltes 5 and Daimos.

@gangbadoy: @radikalchick sinusubukan kong hanapan ng deeper meaning, pero alas…alaws! Apir, Winnie the Plank.

@gangbadoy: @radikalchick I'm trying to find a deeper meaning [for the bill], but alas… alaws! Apir, Winnie the Plank.

@choihilario: Or a new game “Plank Vs. Zombies ” RT @kakanturing: RT @gangbadoy: Winnie the Plank. :) > That sounds like a good idea for a new…

@venzie: Sinong mga kongresista at senador ang willing na makiplank sa mga iskolar ng bayan bukas sa Mendiola? Game.

@venzie: Which congressman or senator is willing to plank with the people's scholars tomorrow at Mendiola? Game.

There's an anti-planking law? Plank that. Plank you.

September 22 2011

Peru: ‘Mistura 2011′ Ends Amid Praise and Criticism

Mistura, the already famous Peruvian festival of Gastronomy, has come to a close after ten days of its fourth edition with impressive figures: more than 400,000 visitors [es] (more than the year before) among which were 18,000 children and some 4,500 tourists who arrived in Lima to attend the event. Moreover, the organisers noted that a total of 233 journalists came from 19 countries [es] to report the development of the festival, besides 300 students of gastronomy from the region, and there are hopes that the 2012 Mistura festival will attract one million visitors [es]. It is important to note that Lima has 8 million inhabitants.

Outside the Mistura festival, Lima. Photo: Go!PymesFotos/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The local food blog Cucharas Bravas [es] details some of the numbers of total sales:

  • Más de medio millón de panes vendidos. (El 2010 se vendieron 250 mil panes)
  • El área de dulces y carretillas vendió más de 230 mil porciones.
  • Más de 40 mil porciones vendidas en la zona de cocinas regionales.
  • Más de 20 mil pociones vendidas en la zona de cocinas clásicas.
  • Al cilindro de Javi , Makatong y La cilindrada de Pedrito vendieron más de 4,000 porciones diarias.
  • La sección de cocinas rústicas vendió más de 95 mil porciones.
  • Más de 8 toneladas de frutas vendidas. Las más pedidas: Naranja, Chirimoya, Palta, Pitajaya y Poro Poro.
  • Los productores del Gran Mercado tuvieron ventas por más de 400 mil soles (US$ 142,857 aprox.).
  • More than half a million loaves of bread sold. (In 2010 250 thousand were sold)
  • The area of sweets and dessert carts sold more than 230 thousand portions.
  • More than 40 thousand portions sold in the area of regional  cuisine.
  • More than 20 thousand portions sold in the classic cuisine section.
  • In the booths of Javi , Makatong and La cilindada Pedrito more than 4,000 portions were sold daily.
  • The rustic kitchen section sold more than 95 thousand portions.
  • More than 8 tons of fruit sold. Most requested: Orange, Chirimoya, Avocados, Pitajaya and Poro Poro.
  • Producers in the Gran Mercado earned more than 400,000 soles (US$ 142,857 aprox.).
  • Apart form food, one of the most anticipated events of this edition of Mistura was the signing of the declaration of Lima, done by nine world renowned cooks. The blog Perú, Pasión por la Comida (Peru, Passion for Food) [es] reported:

    …si algo hemos aprendido los peruanos en los últimos años gracias al boom de la gastronomía nacional, es que la cocina puede convertirse en una auténtica herramienta de transformación social y de cohesión para la comunidad. Así lo han entendido también el brasileño Alex Atala, el italiano Massino Bottura, el estadounidense Dan Barber, el Japonés Yukio Hattori, el danés Rene Redzepi, el español Ferrán Adrià, el francés Michael Bras y nuestro reconocido Gastón Acurio.

    …if we've learned anything from the Peruvians in these last years of the gastronomic boom nationwide, it is that cooking can be converted into an authentic instrument of social transformation and social cohesion for the community. This was also said by Brazilian Alex Atala, Italian Massino Bottura, Dan Barber from the US, Japanese Yukio Hattori, Rene Redzepi from Denmark, Ferrán Adrià from Spain, French Michael Bras and our very own famous Gastón Acurio.

    The Declaration of Lima, or the ‘G-9′ (for the 9 chefs who signed it) as it is called, was recognised on an international scale, but not everyone celebrated it. There were critical commentaries by Jay Rayner, of the blog Word of Mouth from The Guardian newspaper:

    Let's be clear. There is nothing wrong with a bunch of very talented, very serious cooks having these thoughts. […] Yes, of course good chefs ought to be serious about their ingredients. Yes they have a responsibility to source stuff ethically. But they also need to remember that they aren't secular saints. They are chefs cooking dinner for very, very rich people.

    Ferrán Adriá, the famous chef from Catalonia and owner of El Bulli, walked through the festival, summarising his visible enthusiasm in one phrase: “The best recipe you have is passion” [es].

    President of Congress, accompanied by three MPs, at the inauguration of "Mistura". Photo: Congress of the Republic of Perú/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) .

    Despite the great opening and the massive attendance, not everyone was happy with the event: some criticised the disorganisation [es] as well as discrimination against the elderly. Some think that Misura is an elitist event that disguises itself as something average, as Johan Espinal posted on the blog Muladar News [es]:

    … Mis­tura es un ejem­plo de lo que la demo­cra­cia sig­ni­fica para los Gas­to­nes Acu­rios de nues­tros tiem­pos: Si quie­res comer tie­nes que pagar, si quie­res pagar tie­nes que hacer cola, si quie­res hacer cola pri­mero tie­nes que entrar, si quie­res entrar tie­nes que pagar y así se cie­rra ese círculo empa­la­goso del nego­cio redondo en clave gastronómica… Mis­tura tam­bién podría ser el Perú que algu­nos  desea­mos desterrar.

    … Mis­tura is an example of what democracy means to the Gas­to­n Acu­rios of our time: If you want to eat something, you have to pay for it, if you want to pay for it, you have to wait in line, if you want to form a line, you have to get in first, if you want to enter, you have to pay, and the circle of business surrounding the gastronomic closes… Mis­tura could also be that part of Peru that some of us want to eradicate.

    Along these same lines, there has been a Facebook page in existence since 2010 called “Misiura” [es] (in Peruvian slang “misio” means “broke”), that says:

    Misiura es la feria gastronómica del pueblo, aquí degustarás de los mas ricos y exquisitos platillos, comida tradicional, etc; sin necesidad de pagar 20 soles por persona en la entrada… Esta FERIA se hará realidad no precisamente para hacer RICO o llenar de DINERO a un grupo de COCINEROS que se hacen “AMIGOS” del gobierno de turno, es para promover la justicia alimentaria…

    Misiura is the gastronomy festival of the people, where you can taste the most delicious and exquisite dishes, traditional food, etc; without paying 20 soles to enter… This FESTIVAL wasn't realised for people to get RICH or fill the pockets of a bunch of CHEFS who make “FRIENDS” with the government of the time, it's to promote culinary justice…

    However, this “Misiura” page is small: it hardly surpassed 2000 followers, compared to the 319,000 followers of the Facebook page “Mistura”.

    Meanwhile, chef Gastón Acurio, creator of this festival, has been responding to criticism since 2009 about the price of tickets (which don't include what you consume inside), arguing that even with the price fixed at 20 soles (US $7.50) the festival managed to bring in multitudes, so that cheaper tickets [es] would have brought in a huge flood of people, meaning that it would have exceeded the safe number of attendees as authorised by the Civil Force for the Gran Parque de Lima (the chosen venue for the event).

    On social networks the development of this Festival was attentively monitored, with comments ranging from reactions to the food to details of organisation. María Mickle [es] commented on Facebook on the festive side of the event and the integral role of food in Peruvian society:



    Popular Peruvian singer song writer Gianmarco (@gianmarcomusica) notes on Twitter:

    Mistura, la feria gastronomica mas importante de latinoamerica! Orgullosamente Peruano!

    Mistura, the most important gastronomy festival in Latin America! Proud to be Peruvian!

    Víctor Henry Guerrero celebrates the food festival but complains about the crowds:

    Mistura …… que delicia, sabor y mas de 1000 platos peruanos…. pero… para conseguir una entrada mas de dos dias… y para comer lo bueno de lo bueno mas de 3 horas haciendo cola.. no pues !!!!!!

    Mistura …… how delightful, flavour and more than 1000 Peruvian dishes…but… getting a ticket took more than 2 days…to eat the best of the best, you have to stay in line for 3 hours… gosh no !!!!!!

    Jesús Verde (@Jeve30) comments on the necessity to get more space:

    ahora mistura es una feria interesante, pero necesita un recinto mas grande…

    now that Mistura is an interesting festival, it needs a bigger venue…

    Twitter user JuandDz (@juandedz) talks about the prices at Mistura and “Misiura”:

    como dijo el amigo , para los que no pueden entrar a “Mistura” afuera también pueden comer en “Misiura”

    as our friend says, for those who couldn't get into “Mistura” outside you can also eat “Misiura”

    Others lament not being able to attend [es], so much so that there were expressions of hope that the 2012 version come soon [es].

    Mistura, the festival organised by the Asociación Peruana de Gastronomía (Apega for its initials in Spanish, the Peruvian Gastronomy Association) has a good official website [es], and an active group on Facebook. The Mayor of Lima admonished that the festival couldn't continue in the same place [es], and the organisers are already looking for a new and more spacious venue [es] to be able to receive more people (and lower the ticket fee) in the 2012 edition.

    September 21 2011

    Cuba: Milanes' Miami Concert Stirs Controversy Among Cubans

    On August 27th, Cuban music legend Pablo Milanés performed at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, marking his first concert in South Florida since the 1970s. On Cuba-focused blogs and news sites, bitter disagreement over the event’s political significance reverberated throughout the weeks surrounding Milanés’ performance.

    The concert provoked the outrage of many anti-Castrist Cubans in Miami, who staged protests outside of the arena, calling Milanés an “emissary” and a “minion” of the revolutionary government.

    Pablo Milanes in concert. By KATREyuk. BY-NC-SA


    Milanés has lived on the island since he was born in 1943. In the 1960s, he and fellow folk singer Silvio Rodríguez were among the originators of nueva trova, a unique style that blended traditional folk music with a strong political messages supporting the revolutionary movement. The two became cultural icons and their music deeply embedded in the social currents of communism and socialism both in Cuba and throughout Latin America.

    Unlike Rodríguez, who has remained an unflinching supporter of the revolution to the present day, Milanés’ relationship with Cuba’s political regime is more difficult to decipher.

    In mid-August, Milanés gave an interview to El Nuevo Herald, in which he discussed his position. “I believe in the [socialist] system, but not in the men who implement it,” he told reporter Sarah Moreno. He discussed his critiques of the Castro government after the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo and his public refusal to support the jailing of 75 Cuban journalists in the 2003, an event now known as the Black Spring. Milanés also openly denounced travel restrictions that the Cuban government places on most citizens.

    In a post entitled “Gregorio Milanés o Pablo Samsa?” [es], Carlos Rodríguez Almaguer, writing on the Cuba-based blog of Yohandry Fontana, accused Milanés of turning against the Cuban revolution and pandering to anti-Castro sentiment in Miami.

    Habría que preguntarse cómo Pablo ha podido saltar del sitial en que el pueblo cubano lo ha mantenido por largo tiempo al pantano moral en que hoy se hunde con cada nueva declaración.

    One must ask how it is that Pablo has been able to jump from the pedestal on which the Cuban people have kept him for a long time to the moral swampland in which he is now drowning with each new statement.

    Responding to a comment on his own blog, Segunda Cita [es], Silvio Rodríguez weighed in on the conversation:

    Coincido con Pablo en muchos de sus juicios críticos sobre la realidad cubana. Lo que escandaliza a algunos no es el contenido de sus críticas sino la forma, que además de burda parece desamorada, sin el más mínimo compromiso afectivo. Otra cosa que duele es que haya manifestado esas críticas en Miami, a unos días de [su] concierto…

    I agree with Pablo on many of his critical judgments about life in Cuba. What shocked some people was not the content of his criticism, but rather the manner in which it was delivered, which in addition to being crude, seemed unloving, devoid of any emotional commitment. Another thing that hurts is that he expressed that criticism in Miami, just days before [his] concert…

    On the opposite side of the political spectrum, Milanés did not fare much better. Alberto de la Cruz of the Miami-based Babalu wrote,

    I would love to hear Pablito make this same call for more freedom in Cuba to the international press right before he performs a concert at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana. That of course will never happen, because the only time pigs don't squeal is when they are feeding at the trough.

    By Rene Massola, BY-NC-ND


    Edmundo García, a Cuban reporter living in Miami, wrote an open letter to Milanés that was reproduced on numerous blogs, including Kaos en la Red [es], accusing Milanés of pandering to both sides of the controversy for nothing but his own benefit.

    Sin esa Revolución a la que tantas manchas le ve y a la que tanto critica; sin esos dirigentes que la hicieron y hoy la reforman y perfeccionan junto al pueblo cubano; sin las dinámicas que generaron la estética cultural en la cual el querido Pablo se insertó para beneficio de su crecimiento como artista, no hubiera pasado (pienso yo) de ser un bolerista con una guitarra en un bar de Bayamo, o en el mejor de los casos de La Habana.

    Without that Revolution of which he only sees the stains and criticizes so much; without those leaders who created it and who today reform and perfect it alongside the Cuban people; without the dynamics that generated the cultural aesthetic in which beloved Pablo inserted himself to benefit his own growth as an artist, he never would have (in my view) been anything more than a bolerista with a guitar in a bar in Bayamo, or at best, in Havana.

    On Café Fuerte [es], Milanés posted on open response to García’s critique, accusing García of having moved to Miami’s “ultra right.” Directly addressing García, he wrote:

    [Estás] ingresando en ese grupo selecto de la ultraderecha miamense que no admite reconciliaciones, críticas…[No] quieres amor, quieres odio, tú al igual que ellos, no quieres reconciliación, quieres rencores y desunión…no quieres al pueblo cubano, ni de allá ni de acá. Edmundo, tú no quieres a nadie…

    You’re becoming part of that select group of ultra-rightist Miamians who don’t allow for reconciliation or criticism…You don’t want love, you want hate, just like the rest of them, you don’t want reconciliation, you want rancor and disunity…you don’t love the Cuban people, not here or there. Edmundo, you do not love anyone.

    While many outspoken anti-Castrist bloggers condemned Milanés, El Blog del Compañero [es] took his comments seriously. If Milanés were to make similar critiques while in Cuba, El Compañero noted, they could be censored.

    Al leer estas declaraciones pienso que quienes deben estar sudando con cada gira de Pablo Milanés a los Estados Unidos y al mundo son los ancianos militares que oprimen a Cuba.


    No creo este tipo de critica sea “preparada” ni coreografiada, sino espontánea y auténtica.

    After reading [Milanés’] statements I think that those who should be sweating with each tour that Milanés does in the United States and the world are the old militants who oppress Cuba.


    I don’t think this kind of criticism was “prepared” or choreographed, but rather spontaneous and authentic.

    In order to work internationally, but to remain on the island, Cuban artists are often made to walk a very delicate line. Milanés expressed hope that his concert in Miami could form a bridge of reconciliation between Cubans on and off the island. But this controversy has proven that for an artist like Milanés, whose music was so strongly associated with the Revolution in its youth, it remains difficult (if not impossible) to reach such aims.

    September 19 2011

    Brazil: A Thousand Days for the World Cup 2014

    It is already less than one thousand days for the next World Cup, in 2014 in Brazil, and Rodrigo Cárdia, from the blog Cão Uivador (Howling Dog) asks [pt] himself if there is anything good about it.

    September 17 2011

    Brazil: University Campus Closed Due to a “Legalize” Party

    The Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP), Dirceu de Melo, ordered closing down the main campus on September 16, to prevent the First Festival of Cannabis Culture [pt] - a party seeking to discuss the legalization of marijuana among students, informs us [pt] Ivan de Sampaio, on his blog.

    Philippines: Filipinos abuzz with Miss Universe Results

    And 3rd place goes to…Philippines! Ms Shamcey Supsup. This has been the cause for much celebration and cheering in the Philippines at the conclusion of the 2011 Miss Universe Beauty Pageant held last September 13 at Sao Paolo, Brazil.

    The title went to Miss Angola - a result which surprised many here back home. In the run-up to the coronation night, many Filipinos believed that Shamcey would either place 1st runner up or take home the crown as she had a strong following and is amongst the favorites this year.

    But the results are now out and being 3rd runner up is a great improvement over last year's achievement of Venus Raj when took the 4th runner up position.

    Filipinos both online and offline are talking about the results, in particular, Shamcey's answer to judge Vivica A. Fox's question:

    “Would you change your religious beliefs to marry the person that you love? Why or why not?”

    Here's a but a sample of what Filipino netizens are saying about the answer and the results:

    Imagine Life Without X takes the results as it is, thankful that Shamcey was able to improve on Venus Raj's 2010 efforts:

    There nothing much to talk about, she got the looks, the height, the brains, and that distinctive beauty of a Filipina it’s just that she only won as 3rd-runner up. Oh c’mon, call me bias, but yes GIVE ME A BREAK! Kidding guys! But who wants to lose right? Well come to think of it, 3rd-runner up is 3rd-runner up, better than nothing. Maybe it’s not yet the right time for the Philippines to get the crown but soon enough we’ll have the leisure of winning such a prestigious pageant once again.

    Colegiala Girl writes about how Shamcey Supsup surpassed all her expectations of how the competition would turn out:

    Forget all the other details of the pageant, but Miss Supsup has been one of the most popular candidates among the Miss Universe contestants in Brazil. When she landed among the 15 semi-finalist, I said that is good enough. But I was wrong she was picked up among the top 10 finalists and I told myself, well she must be lucky to be one of them. I did not hope for more. To me being on the top 10 is already a good achievement. but I again I was wrong. She landed on the 5 finalists where she was judged and announced later as 3rd finalist.

    Focusing more Shamcey's answer to the question, The Black Fedora blog adores her for it:

    For me, she is my Miss Universe and most of you agrees on that. As a Catholic, I love her answer and it’s the winning answer. But digging further, the Miss Universe Pageant was a showcase of different nationalities with different views and perspective especially when it comes to religion. Shamcey’s answer may be right for most of us, again because we’re God-fearing, but then again, perhaps it did not impress some of the judges. This is just my two cents worth

    Jenny J. Talam was also able to connect profoundly to Shamcey's answer:

    Shamcey’s answer may have not made sense to some of the judges’s ears, but to the true and all-powerful Judge, it made sense. A whole lot of sense. Until you accept your place in the world as a reflector of God, your life and your world won’t make any sense.

    On the other hand, Cocoy sees something more behind Shamcey's answer, something that brings to focus the state of our society at present and how it is going about in facing current challenges:

    Personally? I thought the answer was a bit naive, and incredelous. It is one of those things you do a mental shrug.
    Going back to the Shamcey Supsup question, aside from the God question, her response strikes a cord because it goes after that moveable target called, “Love”. The Miss Universe question after all, is a timeless one. Romantics believe that true love is about moving mountains. It is the test of time. Hell, isn’t there a Biblical quote that says you leave your parents to go live with the one you marry? At the heart of the Shamcey question was a timeless question: “Would you move mountains for love?”

    He then concludes on the following:

    Put in another way, The Miss Universe pageant asked Shamcey if she would defy destiny, causality, the nexus of time itself for a boy. Her answer was, “No”. There is no right or wrong answer. Is it fair then to be injecting own mores, and is it fair to Shamcey to represent all that clashing idea of who is the Filipina in this modern world?

    Paolo Mandingiado tackles the issue of using interpreters and how it reflects our collective effort to establish some sort of ‘national identity':

    My post-pageant realization is that it was not really about the use of Tagalog or English. For me, it boils down to how we want to be perceived and represented as a nation. To some degree, the candidates we send year in and year out to these international beauty pageants are no different from the intellectuals we fly in to science and math Olympiads worldwide, the athletes we support in international meets, and to the artists and performers we applaud in the global stage.

    Aren’t they all simply ambassadors of the Philippines and its people?

    All in all, Shamcey Supsup's achievements have given the country another reason to celebrate being a Filipino and a Filipina. In these challenging times, symbols of achievement, success and something positive would do good in keeping a nation working and striving for a better life.

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