Sunday 25 January 2015

The Procrastinator (some) Times Sunday 25 of January Edition

Hello friends, happy new year! We hope that everything you wished for this year become true and that 2015 end up being a year full of love, inspiration, positive changes and meaningful procrastination. We're still hopeful, even though we had a very rough start.

In our NEWS section we have three main topics: Charlie Hebdo's aftermath: the Front National new appeal and Japan's response to ISIS propaganda; the mysterious murder of Alberto Nisman in Argentina; and of course, our slice of news about Venezuela with a couple of interesting articles, all of them are about the same issue that can be perfectly described with Frances Coppola article in Forbes: The Impending Collapse of Venezuela. There's really nothing else to add.

In Science & Technology, German researchers create a self-aware Mario Bros and Charlie Brooker writes about it. In Culture & Entertainment, a rare TV interview with Simone de Beauvoir and 10 novels that are great to quote. In Dog We Trust shares with us 8 reasons to add olive oil to your dog diet and introduce us to the lovely Beta. In Our Weekly Procrastination we share some photos and thoughts about the Niki de Saint Phalle exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Also, big surprise! We have new contributors! We are delighted to welcome to the Procrastinator, the lovely ladies (and occasional men) of Culturetas, a web that's all about "culture with boobs"; where femininity, sex, art, literature, films and philosophy intersect. This great project belongs to Ariana Basciani, journalist, content marketer and exiled over-thinker that lives in Barcelona. Culturetas will be sharing with us some of their best articles, which are originally published in Spanish in their web. Have a look at the first one: Stop fat-phobia!

In related news, our friends of The Pink Pony we started also a nice bulletin called: The Pony Insider, meaningful procrastination on the topics of positive social entrepreneurship, playfulness and creativity. Have a look in The Pink Pony's Blog.

Finally, this year we will start honoring more the "some" part of our name and we will be publishing every month (the last Sunday of the month) and not every two weeks. Hope this make our editions better, faster and stronger, like a Daft Punk song.

Very happy 2015 to all of you, and remember to follow us on Twitter for daily procrastination recommendations.

Happy Sunday and happy reading!


NEWS: Charlie Hebdo After Effect

BuzzFeed News increasingly is starting to produce more and more news stories and long reports, this time they share a very interesting and very alarming piece written by Rosie Gray from Paris: "Encouraging poll numbers, a changing, more youthful image, and a fearful political and economic climate: These are the ingredients the National Front needs for a breakout moment. And it has them. BuzzFeed News’ Rosie Gray reports from Paris." Read the full article France’s Far-Right Party Seizes The Moment — And The Youth, in BuzzFeed News. E.T.P. 7'

In Quartz, Emma Kate Symmons explains why Marine Le Pen’s New York Times op-ed is a knife in the back for France. "Since 17 people were murdered in the Paris terror attacks that started with a massacre of cartoonists, staff, and police at Charlie Hebdo magazine almost two weeks ago, The New York Times has not deemed fit to print even one caricature by the French satirical weekly, citing Muslim sensitivities. But today the Times opened up her august op-ed pages to France’s extreme right Front National (FN) party president, Marine Le Pen, the chief Gallic spokesperson for Islamophobia and racism. We must explain who Le Pen is here because the Times did not include even a phrase qualifying its op-ed contributor as a far right party boss, nor explaining her movement’s long history of Muslim-baiting, incitement to racial hatred, Holocaust denial, and generalized anti-foreigner bile stretching back to the grimmest days of World War II collaborationist Vichy France." Read full article in Quartz. E.T.P. 6'

"This week Japanese Internet users rallied together to mock the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISISor IS) with a Photoshop battle that shows the terrorists in a series of  absurd and contemptuous images. This effort won’t save the hostages, but it could, in at least a small way, help prevent future terrorism.
As many have noted, IS is extremely goodat recruiting (even better than Al Qaeda) . . . The U.S. government has tried counter-propaganda techniques by engaging with IS online, but has failed thus far. Their methods, which include sending anti-IS quotes to journalists and creating poorly produced videos, are dated and lackluster. In a piece for the Guardian, former State Department advisor Shahed Amanullah says that America’s tactics have only made the group stronger: “They turn right around to their followers and say, ‘See? We’re every bit as powerful as we say we are, the US government is proof.’” So, why is Japan’s response so valuable? Because it was effective where America's attempts have failed." Read full article in The Daily Dot. E.T.P. 5'

Le Petit Journal (necessarily) mocked FOX News' coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the allegedly infamous Paris's "No Go Zones". Have a look at the Opération FOX News in Canal+. E.T.P. 6'30''

Finally, if you read Spanish, there is a nice blog post on Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech, written by Gerardo Vilches titled "But". I don't know him, I just found the article through the usual social networks and thought it was worth a read. Have a look in his blog The Watcher and The Tower. E.T.P. 5'


NEWS: A Very Argentinian Mistery

Photo via The New Yorker

John Lee Anderson writes  in The New York Times "A Very Argentinian Mistery" a brief chronicle about the -indeed very Argentinian- murder of Alberto Nisman: "On Sunday, January 18th, Natalio Alberto Nisman, a fifty-one-year-old federal prosecutor, was found shot dead inside his locked Buenos Aires apartment. There was a gun nearby, and a bullet wound to his head. Nisman had spent the past decade investigating Argentina’s worst-ever terrorist attack—the 1994 car bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, or AMIA, which killed eighty-five people. A few days earlier, he had released a report alleging that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman had engaged in a massive cover-up of Iran’s role in the AMIA case in exchange for trade concessions. In order to investigate the case, Nisman also repudiated a 2013 memorandum of understanding signed by Timerman and his Iranian counterpart. He had been due to present evidence in the National Congress on Monday, the day after his body was discovered." Read full article in The New Yorker. E.T.P. 4'

Jonathan Gilbert and Simon Romero also report the puzzling death of Nisman in The New York Times. "Police sentries guarded the federal prosecutor’s luxury high-rise building. His door on the 13th floor had been locked from the inside, and a gun with a spent cartridge was found on the floor near his body. There was no suicide note.Just one day earlier, on Saturday, the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, said, “I might get out of this dead.” Read full article in The New York Times. E.T.P. 6'

NEWS: The Impending Collapse of Venezuela

          People line up to buy food at a supermarket in San Cristobal, about 660 km southwest of Caracas, Feb. 27, 2014              via Business Insider.

"Back in the late 1980s, the economists Rudiger Dornbusch & Sebastian Edwards described how countries such as Venezuela which pursue highly expansionary populist policies to the detriment of public finances typically go through four distinct phases in what might be called a “boom-bust” cycle. This is their description of Phase 3:
Phase III: Pervasive shortages, extreme acceleration of inflation, and an obvious foreign exchange gap lead to capital flight and demonetization of the economy. The budget deficit deteriorates violently because of a steep decline in tax collection and increasing subsidy costs. The government attempts to stabilize by cutting subsidies and by a real depreciation. Real wages fall massively, and politics become unstable. It becomes clear that the government has lost.
This is why Moody’s has been too generous to Venezuela. The balance of payments problem is merely the trigger for a massive fiscal, economic and ultimately political crisis that can only end in one way – the disorderly collapse of the regime. Whether this will take the form of a revolution, a military coup or simple chaos remains to be seen. But what we are witnessing is the destruction of Venezuela’s economy. And that destruction is not, fundamentally, because of external factors. It is a direct consequence of the economic policies pursued by the Chavez and Maduro regimes." Read full article in Forbes. E.T.P. 8'

Linette Lopez writes in the Business Insider about Venezuela's "let them eat cake" moment, when the Food Minister (yes, there is a Food Minister), who refused to refused to answer questions to a journalist that does not agree with the administration's prevailing idea that all this economic suffering — rampant inflation, dwindling central-bank coffers, and more — is the result of an economic war on the Venezuela. Which is of course, a massive lie. Refer to the previous article if in doubt and read Lopez full article in the Business Insider. E.T.P. 3'


Photo via The Guardian.

German researchers have developed a version of Super Mario Bros., that makes Mario self-aware. He is able to experience emotions and act autonomously in response to them. The AI also understands voice instructions and questions. It's sophisticated enough that Mario can be fed information that he will remember and eventually act upon it. There's a five-minute video in Polygon that gives a detailed explanation of how this experiment works, have a look here. (E.T.P. 5')

And a nice article by our beloved Charlie Brooker in The Guardian: "This meta-Mario experiences basic emotions, is compelled to act by urges such as “hunger” and “curiosity”, and is painfully aware that he only exists within a meaningless two-dimensional artificial framework from which he can never escape. As such, he’s more advanced than I am. And he looks better in a hat. I think I hate him, although there’s every possibility that’s just what I’ve been programmed to do." Read full article in The Guardian. E.T.P. 3'


Photo via Economía Hoy México.

Simone de Beauvoir explains why she is a feminist in a rare TV interview -as she didn't like to be in TV- with French journalist Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber in 1975. "De Beauvoir picks up the ideas of The Second Sex, which Servan-Schreiber calls as important an “ideological reference” for feminists as Marx’s Capital is for communists. He asks De Beauvior about one of her most quoted lines: “One is not born a woman, one becomes one.” Her reply shows how far in advance she was of post-modern anti-essentialism, and how much of a debt later feminist thinkers owe to her ideas" Have a look in Open Culture. E.T.P. 9'

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: 10 Best Quotable Novels

Photo via The Guardian.

"Certain works of fiction have so many memorable lines that they’ve entered everyday language." The Guardian's Alex Clark's favourites goes from James Joyce's Ulysses to Irving Welsh's Trainspotting. Read full article in The Guardian. E.T.P. 4'

CULTURETAS: Stop Fat-phobia

Photo: The Procrastinator (some) Times.

Some time ago, in an article I wrote for, I confessed having been all my life obsessed with my body and its dimensions. The confession came into place because I can hardly admit an obsession that makes me feel conceited.

I always thought that vanity is the worst value. I remember reading Simone de Beauvoir, I think in Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, saying that she met another lover of Sartre´s and, when they met for the first time, the woman was looking at herself in the mirror behind de Beauvoir for a long time. That story reinforced a value that was already part of me. The problem is that, the fear of feeling conceited was more annoying than the problem itself. So here I want to shape the subject without worrying about my shame.

According to an article in the Times, 70% of Hispanic women refer to themselves in derogatory terms. We refer to ourselves as fat cows and other insults. The problem is not being a cow, which is hardly an insult, but what we mean by the contempt with which we say so.

On Facebook there is a group, Stop gordofobia ("fat-phobia" in English), that has been sharing texts, videos and everything they find on the subject of fat phobia, and the problems that culture have with the human body, especially the female body . When I hear about feminism, I remember texts in which it´s said that the dildo is the new penis, that the vagina doesn´t exist and things that, honestly, I do not feel identified with. They are so abstract that sometimes I don´t know if they refer to something that is in space and time.

Stop gordofobia is not a feminist website. I think it's a place where women and men can share and review our notions about the body. I recently read a comment from someone that considered the page was promoting obesity. It occurs to me that we can´t expect simple people to think about complex issues. But still, I will try to explain to those people the difference between obesity / health problems and establishing a good relationship with a body that is healthy, but most people reject for not being a skeleton.

Our culture bombards us with constant messages about how women have to be thin. It's hard not to feel inappropriate when there´s no rest from those messages. As Jean Kilbourne says in Killing us softly, we think, like many people, we are special and have the magical power of ignoring advertising messages, but we don´t know or don´t want to admit that we inevitably hear these messages.

I won´t talk about this issue and devote paragraph after paragraph to talk about photoshop. I refuse to think of myself as a victim. Mainly because that´s an attitude that´s paralyzing. But I think it´s important to recognize that it´s not easy. Having a body is not easy.

I think that the initiatives we've been seeing our friends posting on their facebooks about acceptance of one's body are absolutely necessary. Dove´s campaigns are excellent. Usually beauty products companies make us feel like shit and therefore we think we need their products. They make things up, like for example, cellulite. So we look at ourselves in the mirror and feel disgusted.

It´s true that one of those campaigns seems to indicate that some features are ugly and other beautiful. But I prefer to interpret it as though women don´t know how to see themselves. It´s hard for us and the responsibility is partly of the people who want to make money at the expense of our inclination to insecurity.

The problem of the mirror is not that we are vain and want to look beautiful because we are hysterical and depend on other people´s perspective to feel good. Okay, there's something to that, I admit. But mostly the problem is that we live in a society (pardon the cliché) where the value of women is determined by their beauty or lack thereof.

Let's review our reactions to seeing women on television. We feel we're on the right to criticize them merely because they are women, well, and also because they are on T.V. Let us hear our criticisms. "She looked better with makeup", "Old age is not good on her". You're probably one of those people that doesn´t accept having these thoughts. I think it's better to admit our shit and then deal with it than to put it under the rug and spend our lives trying to ignore its presence, while our unconscious reveals them in the form of self-destruction.

These problems with the ideals are not at all unique to women. Men also deal with enforcement. In some cultures they have to have many women, in others it´s unacceptable for them to drink small glasses of beer. 

This makes me think about a related topic, which is what is feminine and what masculine. I wouldn´t say that these categories don´t exist just because I don´t want them to exist. I would say, however, that there´s no recipe that dictates which quantities of femininity or masculinity a person must have. I think the difficulty of having a body is closely linked to the difficulty, at least in my case, to understand the ideals of a gender, to admit myself a woman. To admit oneself a woman means entering that game culture forces on us from the moment we begin to grow tits. A game that is also introduced by nature, a game too cruel for a little girl: the game of desire.

The article Ariana Basciani wrote a few months ago on this page spoke about these issues too. In it, Ariana invites us to reconsider our prejudices, to stop rejecting what we don´t know. I think that´s what I want to say. Our brain makes us tend to simplifications, but this inevitably leads to intolerance. It´s true that it´s not easy to challenge our nature, but we should use our heads for more than just bullshit.

This is written by the part of me that still has hope in humanity, a 0.1% of me.


This article was originally published (in Spanish) in Culturetas, culture with boobs, a great website situated at the intersection of culture and feminity. Culturetas are our new contributors and we are delighted to have them. Have a look and say hello to them!


Photo via Dear Beta Instagram.

Happy New Year dog lover! Hope 2015 brings lots of smiles and happiness.

Here are some links you might enjoy:

Enjoy your Sunday! And follow Beta on Instagram


In Dog We Trust is edited by Carola Melguizo of La Guía del Perro.    


« Pour moi, mes sculptures représentent le monde de la femme amplifié, la folie des grandeurs des femmes, la femme dans le monde d’aujourd’hui, la femme au pouvoir.  »

The life of the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle is as fascinating as her wonderful colorful pieces that you might have seen in various open spaces around the world. Probably you only know her most famous installation: the Stravinsky Fountain right next to the Pompidou Center that she created with Jean Tinguely, but her work was definitely as prolific as it was provocative, experimental and diverse.

Niki was a model who appeared on the cover of Vogue and Elle, a self-taught outsider, a passionate feminist, and a political activist, and in this beautifully curated exhibition at the Grand Palais you have a chance to get to know her in different stages of her life through large vibrant sculptures, photos, videos, interviews, installations, paintings and a lot of color, love, bullets, large powerful nanas and strong messages. I didn't know much about her and

If you are in Paris, hurry up, as the exhibition finishes the 2nd of February. Booking is extremely recommended. I had to queue for approximately an hour in the cold (the fountain was frozen, as you can see), but it was absolutely worth it. If you can't make it this next week, the expo will be traveling to the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao. Absolutely great spring procrastination.

17 September 2014 to 02 February 2015
Every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays.
- See more at:
Grand Palais
17 September - 02 February
Every day except Tuesdays from 10am to 10pm

Every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays and Mond - See more at:
17 September 2014 to 02 February 2015
Every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays and Monday
- See more at:
17 September 2014 to 02 February 2015
Every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays.
- See more at:
17 September 2014 to 02 February 2015
Every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays.
- See more at:
Every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays and Mond - See more at: