Sunday 29 March 2015

The Procrastinator (some) Times Sunday 29th of March Edition

Hello friends!

In this edition, first we want to share with you our latest discovery: The Objective, a nice photojournalism newspaper that daily shows you the most important news in 32 images. Captions are in Spanish, but as you well know images worth more than 250 characters. Have a look!

We also share three articles about Venezuela's sanctions, currency circus and its absurd prices in our News Section -even though technically these are not new! And speaking of expensive cities, Singapore the most expensive city in the world is been praised as an expat's paradise, discover why in our Design, Business & Innovation section. And also, have a read of this interesting short article in The Economist about the Sillicon Valley compulsion of building massive HQs that increasingly look less like office buildings and more like monuments to the ego of this new breed of tech pharaohs. 

In an experiment that sounds like the summary of a Christopher Nolan film, scientists hope to create mini black holes and to make contact with parallel universes as soon as next week, according to a Next Nature Network's article. Read about it in our Science & Technology section.

In our Culture & Entertainment section, Tom McCarthy argues in The Guardian that if James Joyce were alive today he would be working for Google. Open Culture complied all the films available to watch legally and for free in the Internet from Cocteau and Buñuel to Chaplin and Keaton. At least 1000 hours of meaningful procrastination. Finally Björk's exhibition at MoMA, the chronicles of an embarrassing disaster via The Economist and The New Yorker.

Finally Culturetas's Yiyi Habib shares with us her impressions about Past Disquiet, an archival and documentary exhibition, currently in the MACBA (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona),  that excavates the history of and around The International Art Exhibition for Palestine (Beirut, 1978). "It proposes a speculative history of politically engaged artistic and museographic practices in the milieu of the international anti-imperialist solidarity movement of the 1970s."

Hope you have nice plans for you Easter holidays, and if you happen to be in London, Paris, Madrid or Barcelona check out Minimaps, this new project have some nice crowd-sourced recommendations made lovely downloadable and printable maps that you can carry in your pocket or a notebook. amazing maps, if not, stay tuned because there are more cities coming: Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Sidney, Brussels, Miami and more! Visit Minimaps and get involved! (:

Happy April and happy meaningful procrastination!

NEWS: Venezuela's Sanctions, Absurd Prices & Currency Circus

Illustration via The Economist.

"It was the kind of diplomatic clumsiness for which the United States has a unique capacity. On March 9th Barack Obama issued an executive order declaring “a national emergency” because of the “extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States posed by Venezuela. Really? Is Uncle Sam scared of a country with a government that is incapable of organising a reliable supply of toilet paper, an army whose best-known capabilities are coups, petrol smuggling and drug trafficking, and a president who spent most of January touring the world to beg for cash?
The explanation is that American law requires the administration to use such language if it wants to impose sanctions on individuals in another country. Congress has voted to do this in the case of Venezuela. Critics of this initiative argued that its only practical effect would be to give Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s embattled president, a propaganda tool. That is what it has done." Read full article in The Economist. E.T.P. 3'

"Nowhere else has the collapse of oil prices has taken a higher toll than on Venezuela, where crude provides 95 percent of the country’s export revenue. Already facing recession, Venezuela is on the brink of economic collapse.
As that revenue dried up, the country has been thrown deeper into economic turmoil under President Nicolas Maduro. The economy is expected to contract by 7 percent this year, inflation soared to 69 percent—the highest in the world—and shortages of goods have forced shoppers to line up for hours at supermarkets to buy basic foods and products. The situation descended into the surreal earlier this week when the Prime Minister of neighboring Trinidad & Tobago proposed exchanging Venezuelan oil for Trinidadian tissue paper." Read full article in TIME Magazine. E.T.P. 2'

"In 2003, a beleaguered President Hugo Chávez imposed currency controls to try to hold down inflation and prevent a speculative run on the Venezuelan bolívar. Over the years that followed, these controls evolved into the byzantine tiered system by which the government’s oil dollars are sold at three different official prices — while hard-currency dollars fetch a fourth, higher price on the black market.
An importer who pledges to purchase basic necessities to bring into the country can buy a dollar for about six bolívars. But walk up to a bank teller and the same dollar costs 178 bolívars: nearly 3,000 percent more. For the 264 bolívars that it cost at the time of this writing to buy one black-market dollar, you could buy 42 dollars at the official rate." Read full article in The New York Times. E.T.P. 4'

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: Parallel Universes

Image via Next Nature Network.

It sounds like a Christopher Nolan film, but apparently it's real. "One of the most expensive scientific instruments ever built, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, will be driven to its highest energy levels in an attempt to detect or create mini black holes. If the experiment proves to be successful, scientists hope to reveal a new universe.
A member of the team , Mir Faizal, explained the theory behind the experiment: “Just as many parallel sheets of paper, which are two dimensional objects -breadth and length- can exist in a third dimension -height- parallel universes can also exist in higher dimensions“." Read full article in Next Nature Network. E.T.P. 2'


Photo via BBC.

"Imagine a major metropolis where traffic flows quickly on green highways; where streets are sparkling clean and restoration is nearly as vigilant as sanitation; where four main ethnicities (Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian) co-exist in tropical tolerance with a large community of foreigners who live and raise kids without fear of crime or the slightest impolite slight. Parks, museums, art spaces and architectural icons are world class.

There’s a reason — actually a multitude of them — why Singapore ranks high on surveys of places to live and work."  Discover the reasons and plan your next travel destination after reading the full article in the BBC. E.T.P. 4'

Also, there is a quick but interesting article about the chewing-gum ban in Singapore, via BBC. Have a look. E.T.P 3'

DESIGN, BUSINESS & INNOVATION: Googledome or temple of doom?

Image via The Economist.

Interesting short article in The Economist about the Sillicon Valley compulsion of building massive HQs that increasingly look less like office buildings and more like monuments to the ego of the new tech pharaohs. "Marc Andreessen knows a thing or two about Silicon Valley’s penchant for status symbols and its braggadocio. As a venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur, he has helped turn more than a few minnows into high-tech giants. As an investor, he serves these days on the boards of Facebook and Hewlett-Packard, among others. Along with avoiding such cardinal sins as going public too soon and being too eager to cash out, Mr Andreessen is adamant that his charges must refrain, at all cost, from pouring huge sums into glamorous new headquarters.The compulsion to build monuments to a ruler’s power and prestige has existed since history began. But flush with cash and with interest rates near zero, Silicon Valley’s leading lights are now competing with each other over who can build the most lavish digs, to feed their corporate egos as well as to attract and retain talent." Read full article in The Economist. E.T.P. 3'


Illustration via The Guardian.

Tom McCarthy argues in The Guardian that if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google. "If, five years ago, you’d asked me to name the most important French mid-20th century writer, I’d have mentally dipped a hand into a hat in which names of contenders such as Camus, Genet, Duras and Robbe-Grillet had been tossed, and pulled one out at random. Not any more. Right now I’d answer without hesitation: Claude Lévi-Strauss. An odd choice, perhaps: an ethnographer by calling, Lévi-Strauss wrote neither plays nor novels. Yet, for my money, his work displays a richer, deeper literary sensibility than that of his “proper” literary contemporaries. Not only is his prose better than theirs (his lyrical descriptions of the “leprous crusts” of buildings or the “supernatural cataclysms” of sunsets and sunrises), it is also infused with meditations on the very act of writing – the blindspots that it opens up, the traps or pitfalls that it sets. Infused, too, with a sense of structure, pattern, system (the narrative of Tristes Tropiques, for example, zaps from culture to culture, continent to continent, as it remaps the entire globe along lines of association: between the layout, concentric or concyclic, of a village’s huts, the transgenerational rhythms of exogamy and endogamy of the tribe to whom these huts belong, and the symmetry or asymmetry of a caste system on the far side of the world). And infused, beyond even this, with a tantalising sense that, if only he could correlate it all, plot the whole system out, some universal “master-meaning” would emerge, bathing both him and his readers in an all-consuming, epiphanic grace." Read full article by Tom McCarthy in The Guardian. E.T.P. 8'

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: 700 Free Online Films

Open Culture complied all the films available to watch legally and for free in the Internet. Les Inrocks (E.T.P. 2') mention real gems like Le Voyage à travers l’impossible de Méliès (1904) inspired in a Jules Verne's play, Jean Cocteau's La villa santo sospir (1961) de Jean Cocteau; L’Age d’or (1930) and Un Chien Andalou (1929) made by Buñuel and Dali; Eat, Sleep & Kiss (1963-1964) the silent films made by Andy Warhol ; Freiheit (1966) the third short made by George Lucas when he was still a student; David Cronenberg's From the Drain (1967); Geometria (1987), one of the first macabre films Guillermo del Toro ; Six Figures Getting Sick (1966), the very first short of David Lynch. "The collection is divided into the following categories: Comedy & Drama; Film Noir, Horror & Hitchcock; Westerns (many with John Wayne); Silent Films; Documentaries, and Animation. We also have special collections of Oscar Winning Movies and Films by Andrei Tarkovsky and Charlie Chaplin." Have a look at the whole list in the Open Culture site. E.T.P. at least 100 hours.

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: Björk at MoMA, disappointing & embarrasing

Image via The New Yorker.

Having read only negative critics and reviews about the Björk exhibition at MoMA I feel that I have to post them here. Have any of our readers had the (bad) luck of visiting the exhibition? I would love to hear from you! Meanwhile, here's a fragment of the Prospero article in The Economist: "As a subject, Bjork is indeed worthy of formal scrutiny. She has spent decades crafting music that transcends genres. Her compositions are full of surprises, mixing techno beats with string arrangements, layering bells, beeps and purrs of wildlife. An avid collaborator, she has worked with many film-makers, fashion designers, producers and other artists, reliably coaxing out some of their best work. Then there is that voice—high, strong, clear, sometimes girlish, always unmistakable. No one sounds like Bjork. With this show, several years in the making, MoMA could have set a new template for a multimedia museum experience, blending music and video, text and artefacts. This retrospective could have mapped out Bjork’s creative process, placing her prodigious talent in some kind of context. Oh, this show might have done so many things. Alas, the only thing it reliably does is waste people’s time." Read full article in The Economist. E.T.P. 3'

The New Yorker's Peter Schjeldahl published an article on the same lines of The Economist one: MoMA's embarrasing crush with Björk. " rare consensus of critics has greeted the Museum of Modern Art’s show “Björk,” which is centered in a two-floor pavilion, in the museum’s atrium, packed with audio and visual exhibits tracking the Icelander’s career. Weighing in early, Ben Davis of ArtNet News predicted “an immense Eyjafjallajökull-sized ash-plume of critical bile to appear over midtown any second now.” And sure enough: tick tock, boom. New York magazine’s Jerry Saltz adjudged the show “a discombobulated mess,” and Jason Farago, in the Guardian, called it a “fiasco” and, not to waffle, a “disaster.” Roberta Smith, in the Times, zeroed in the “ludicrously infantilizing and tedious” audio narration, by the Icelandic poet Sjón, that accompanies a viewer’s pavilion tour with treacly sentiments about the progress in life of “a girl.” “Insure that you experience this journey as thoroughly as possible,” the unctuous voice urges at the start. What follows confirms the general rule that whenever anything artistic is described as a “journey,” you can be pretty certain of going nowhere. . . And yet Björk is unscathed." I'm so intrigued by this exhibition. Read the article here. E.T.P.

CULTURETAS: Personal Approach about Past Disquiet

Photos via Culturetas.

To believe or not in the twists of life and their connection with the shape of a somehow irreversible destiny is a more personal than contextual decision. I’ve always believed that things happen for a certain planning that takes place in other states of consciousness, but to avoid boring you to death and getting into holistic material I’d better start the story that matters here.

Working as an intern in the Contemporary Art Museum in Barcelona (MACBA) I was confined to a neutral desk near the meeting room where I studied a few exhibitions that the Museum was planning. I used to print and help with anything they could need. On a common day, a special meeting took place with two curators and a writer; the subject was an exhibition that was planned to open next year inside one of MACBA’s spaces. Those who where supposed to be in the reunion started arriving little by little: directors, hipster girls with cool glasses and Moleskines notebooks, the occasional Art Historian (that got graduated 40 years ago) and Beatriz Preciado. Finally a character, that would latter on change my life, appeared in the room: an exhausted, tall, white woman, with curly deep black hair tied in an improvised and small ponytail, a pair of rather light pants for the season and brown leather boots; she was holding in her hands a box of sweets that only us who have spent months of our childhood in Damascus know where they come from and have its smell embedded somewhere in our brain where the purest happiness lies.

From then on I couldn’t stop staring the common table with the most childish gaze. The discussion related a ghost exhibition called International Art Exhibition for Palestine in 1978 that was being recovered from archive material and whose model was the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, an artistic project of support with the politician’s work during the social uprising years in Santiago de Chile. People say that there are no casualties: I, myself was working on that museum during my first internship as a graduate from La Universidad de Los Andes (Venezuela) and my family had hold the Palestinian fight in their heart during my childhood. Starting from that moment I adopted a meerkat position in my chair and I’m more than sure that the group was very uncomfortable with my presence. When they decided to take a cigarette break I ran desperately behind them. I had no idea what to say but I was decided to tell them that I had worked in that museum.

When I finally found the words to talk to them I said in a nervous English whatever it came to mind and the smile of (who now I knew was called) Rasha Salti, made me feel like home. Her project was thrilling: the art exhibition in support of the Palestinian Movement was born in Beirut and suggested an speculative history of the politically engaged artistic practices, in the middle of a international anti – imperialist solidarity movement. Organized by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in conjunction with an incredibly connected network of artists and activists whose goal was to create, in the future, a museum in solidarity with the Palestinians in exile, destined to travel constantly around the world to finally settle back in a free Palestine and that consisted in 200 works of 200 artists from 30 different countries. But in 1982 the Israeli army advanced over Beirut and militarily took the city to force the PLO to abandon the territory. The building where the works had been kept and shown, was bombed to the ground. All that was left of the exhibition where the memories of those that made it happen and those who visited it. 

The melancholy that hosts the oblivion seems to be, once again, the driving force of identity and the mission that would join two Arab women settled in USA (Rasha Salti and Kristine Khouri) under the firm conviction of recovering a fundamental milestone in the art history of the 20th Century, through the daunting task of restructuring a reality from the ephemeral character of the memory. MACBA’s board couldn’t do anything but open their institution to exhibit the product of such research, an investigation that had consumed the last 4 years of their life, between endless journeys, interviews, rejections and warm welcomes from the people that had been expecting them for the past 30 years. 


Between the inner poetry that has always sheltered the diasporic Arab and the urge to scream to the world the reality of the Palestinian people, Past Disquiet is born. A new format for the art history monography that pretends not only to rescue a reality but also to formulate it in simultaneity with many other international events that used to dispute the rejection, the oblivion and the aggression to the claiming politics which so many of us can identify with. In a convulse world and in plain rejection to the Muslim community its not but proper the manifestation of a new perspective on the Arab world and its plurality, a forgotten characteristic in the international and historical politics.

I have nothing left to say but to invite you all to enjoy this exhibition that is still open in the upper show room of the Contemporary Art Museum in Barcelona. An experience that promises to open your eyes to a forgotten past that needs to be reconsidered.            

Curators of the exhibition: Rasha Salti and Kristine Khouri


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


Sunday 1 March 2015

The Procrastinator Sunday 01st of March Edition

Welcome to your February Edition, published the 1st of March, because is the closest Sunday to the end of the month and well... also procrastination.

In our news section we start with another terrible February in Venezuelan history with articles from The Daily Beast, BBC, The New York Times. In Science & Technology, three volunteers are on the shortlist to be among four people on the Mars One programme, the first manned space flight to Mars, that is a suicide mission. In Culture & Entertainment we have Tomas Van Houtryve's Art With Drones, and horror fiction maestro Stephen King reflecting on the magnitude of a novel's introductory sentence. Culturetas's second contribution to The Procrastinator (some) Times shares a nice article about Mad Men (and ourselves) while the countdown of its return starts. And finally In Dog We Trust we have snow, fuc facts and some pugs with an existential crisis.

These are only some of the articles, keep coming back for some meaningful procrastination

Happy Sunday and happy reading

NEWS: What ISIS Really Wants

Image via The Atlantic

A long really strong feature wrote by Graeme Wood in The Atlantic offers a detail account on ISIS origins and intentions. Necessary read to start understanding its inexplicable appeal to all the young fighters that keep flying to join its cause. "The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it." Read full article in The Atlantic. E.T.P. 16'

NEWS: Another Venezuelan February

Photo Reuters via The Daily Beast.

The summary of this article of The Daily Beast summarizes pretty well this month's Venezuelan news: "The arrest of the mayor of Caracas and the killing of a 14-year-old boy in San Cristóbal show just how desperate President Maduro and his circle have become."

This is of course a very long story short that starts with the approval of to open fire and use deadly force to control protests, contradicting all human rights treaties (silence of the international community, specially the Latin American community is absolutely shocking... again) and ended up with the Mayor of Caracas being arrested  (BBC. E.T.P. 2') after having presented NO evidence of anything -as usual- and the murder of Kluiberth Roa, a 14-year-old student (The New York Times. E.T.P. 3')

Did Venezuelan government do something to try to ease the situation, yes, they banned US diplomats from entering Venezuela. Reinforcing the notion of the 'enemy' has been central to this government and the previous one.

"Separating the criminals from the politicians from the military commanders is no easy task, and not one made easier when law enforcements spends its time arresting mayors and killing 14-year-olds" -concludes Romina Ruiz-Goriena in The Daily Beast. Read full article here. E.T.P. 5'


"Three volunteers are on the shortlist to be among four people on the Mars One programme, the first manned space flight to Mars – a one-way trip that's effectively a suicide mission. A physics student in the UK, a young doctor from Mozambique and an Iraqi-American woman, all happy to sacrifice their futures for a place in history. Why do they want to leave Earth, and who are they leaving behind? As the list of potential Mars explorers is whittled down further on 16 February, meet those competing to be the first to land on the Red Planet." Have a look at the video produced by The Guardian. E.T.P. 11'

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: How Should Cinema Respond to Terrorism?

Image The Hurt Locker via The Independent.

"In the greatest of ironies, the week Charlie Hebdo returned to the streets, a crude, tearful Prophet staring from its cover, an acclaimed film about life under radical Islam was censored in France.
Timbuktu, which premiered as an official selection in Cannes last year, was due to be shown in the local cinema of east Paris suburb Villiers-sur-Marne, the birthplace of wanted fugitive Hayat Boumeddiene, wife and accomplice of one of the Paris gunmen. But Jacques-Alain Bénisti, the local mayor, stepped in to stop the screening, declaring the film “an apology for terrorism”, according to Le Figaro." Read full article in The Independent. E.T.P. 5'


Photo via Tomas's Tumblr.

Ideas Tap interview Tomas Van Houtryve, winner of the World Press Photo award, about his recent photographic work with drones. This is a fragment of that interview: 

What made you decide to make art with drones?
I wanted to do something on America’s drone war. I felt like it was an important war, at the top of the US’s foreign policy agenda, there’s a lot of people being killed, and yet there are no images of it – no visual narrative for that war.
I was doing a National Geographic assignment about a mine in Peru. We were trying to get an aerial shot and the altitude was too high for a helicopter so eventually they sent an engineer down with a drone. In fact it didn’t work because of the altitude but when I saw them used, I put the two ideas in my head and said; what if I look for drone war-like situations, flying my own one?

Read full interview and have a look at Tomas' photos in Ideas Tap. E.T.P. 3'


Photo via Gawker.

"In a 2013 interview with Joe Fassler, horror fiction maestro Stephen King reflected on the magnitude of a novel's introductory sentence. "An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story," he said. "It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this." The first sentence sets the stage—however long or short the text—and hints at the "narrative vehicle" by which the writer will propel the book forward." Read full article in Gawker Review of Books (yes, Gawker Review of Books, go figure!). E.T.P. 4'

CULTURETAS: The Mad Men Mirror

Photo via The NYPost.

By Ariana Basciani.

There’s no man like Don or any woman like Peggy. And the same time we are all Don and Peggy, or any Mad Men characters for that matter: we are a bunch of weaknesses wrapped in masks.  In Mad Men, running away is a logical reaction when there is fear, a feeling that can actually achieve to become their lifestyle. That is a somewhat negative -but honest- value of Mad Men that has been sustaining for seven seasons. The half of last season was undeniably exquisite though. Not only because of Don Draper's character but because of the entire cast. 

Every episode I noticed the quality of the construction of these characters, both male and female, and talking specifically of this season, I discovered endless hyper-texts in between the dialogues that are so characteristic of the current daily life that dazzle me. I'm drooling and wanting to watch more. It is amazing that one series can involve us so deeply from the very beginning to the end.

An antihero who accepts his weakness, struggling not to lose his mask, finally lose it. He appears defeated, incomplete, but then he (and us) realizes that there is a new person that has managed to balance his strengths with his weaknesses and that he feels at ease with that; a triumph of psychoanalysis some might say. This is exactly what happens to Don Draper in the last season. Yes, we know that men, we have felt identified his peculiar personality that in order to survive must be  elusive and social at the same time. Also in this season, many men have felt identified with that sudden feminine strength displayed by Megan or Peggy.

Women adore and understand Don, we love the character. We also learned to identify ourselves with his way of understanding and looking at the world, and specially when he managed to get over himself and put his guard down. Then it's game over. Even when he looses, Don Draper always win. And it's spectacular when gender stereotypes breaks and intersect in a series that have sold to us the typical (very 60s) "macho men" ideal. 

Many of us have known better from the beginning and we have delved further to observe, study and understand the male gender under a broader scope, reading the subtle messages offered by the scriptwriters; we have understood as well that women have been always the true heroes of the series with their pros and cons, and their skills, jealousies, fantasies, eroticism, kindness, genius and insecurities.

Hurry up Mad Men, hope to see you in a few weeks and have the opportunity of kiss you (and Don) goodbye!


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


Photo Whisky the Aussie via his Instagram.

Hello dog lover! Hope you're having a beautiful day!
Here are some links you might like:

Video of the week: Dog fetch fails
Enjoy your Sunday! And follow Whiskey on Instagram

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