Sunday 26 April 2015

The Procrastinator (Some) Times 26th of April Edition

Hello dear procrastinators, as you know, just yesterday a really strong earthquake hit Nepal, you can follow the ongoing news with the hashtag #NepalQuake and Mashable compiled different organisations that you can contribute with to help them.

We start our News Section with a great article by Anne Marie Weaver in The New York Times about the young men who are flying from England to join ISIS, "Her Majesty's Jihadists". What's the appeal of this call to make them abandon their comfy lives to join a war? What is the UK incapable of offering them? 

In our share of articles about Venezuela, Alejandro Toledo, former president of Perú and author of "The Shared Society", writes in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, an article that is both accurate and simple, and that it is also ambitiously untitled: How to Fix the Mess in Venezuela. A must-read. I more Venezuelan news, Tim Worstall thanks Venezuela's Bolivarian "socialism" style (that everyday looks more like a military dictatorship) for the 200% of inflation as it is almost an impossible achievement to make that will probably become the first chapter of every what not to do when running a country book.

In Science & Technology according to Tim Maughan in BBC Future the worst place on earth is a dystopian lake in Mongolia filled with the world's tech lust. In our Culture & Entertainment section Garrett Gilmore shares how he can't stop thinking in emoji. A really interesting article via VICE. Jessica Fulford-Dobson shows us with her photographic work in Kabul how in Afghanistan, skateboarding has spread to become the number one sport for women, as they are forbidden to ride bicycles. And thanks to Open Culture and Martin Scorsese we discovered filmmaker Hong Sang-Soo, the Woody Allen of Korea.

Culturetas's queen bee, Ariana, shares with us her reflections on feminism, what is and what it should be. She's obviously looking for a fight ;) Finally In Dog We Trust by La Guía del Perro shares with us an interesting article about the bonding human-dog hormone, some DIY for your dog, a German Shepherd left home alone with a GoPro and the absolutely amazing Marnie the dog.

That's our April edition, hope you enjoy it, and I invite you again to check out Minimaps, small crowd-sourced travel experiences made for and by people that love people. This month we published two new minimaps: Brussels and Zürich. Have a look!

Happy Sunday friends and happy reading.

NEWS: Her Majesty's Jihadists

Image via The New York Times

Great research and article by Anne Marie Weaver in The New York Times. "He was a dreamer, with Che Guevara looks — a jet-black beard and eyes — who built a new persona online, as a Muslim warrior riding into battle in the back of an open-bed truck, dressed in black, his long hair blowing in the breeze, with an AK-47 hanging from his shoulder, strapped to his back. He had just turned 22 — the product of British private schools, a computer aficionado working in customer service at Sky News — when he decided to turn his dream into reality.

In May 2013, Ifthekar Jaman left his comfortable home in Portsmouth, England, explaining to his parents, who emigrated years earlier from Bangladesh, that he wanted to learn Arabic in the Middle East. Instead, he booked a one-way ticket to Turkey. The next time his parents, Enu and Hena, heard from him, he had crossed the Turkish border into Syria and joined the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham — also known as ISIS or ISIL — the most brutal, and now the most powerful, of a dozen or so militant Sunni Islamist groups arrayed against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his equally brutal Alawite government." Read full article in The New York Times. E.T.P. 13'

NEWS: The Mess in Venezuela and the 200% of inflation

Alejandro Toledo, former president of Perú and author of "The Shared Society", writes in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, an article that is both accurate and simple, and that it is also ambitiously untitled: How to Fix the Mess in Venezuela. A must-read. "The recent news from Venezuela has been troubling — and also far from surprising. As the Venezuelan economy continues to struggle and inflation pushes many of the most basic everyday needs out of reach of ordinary working people, President Nicolás Maduro has responded, not with a plan, but with a crackdown. It has included arresting Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of Caracas, and other opposition figures on questionable charges — to say nothing of the jailings of peaceful protesters.
Mr. Maduro’s attempts to deflect criticism by pointing to aggression from the United States and international meddling — even if they were rooted in fact — would do nothing to solve Venezuela’s problems. If he were a serious leader, he would look first at the Venezuelan economy, which, in reality, is at least two economies, separate and far from equal. . . Fixing the economy, however, is only one of the tasks facing Mr. Maduro. The second is going to be tougher: He must shed the conspiratorial mind-set and authoritarian instincts he has carried over from the regime of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, and accept that true democracy includes dissent, and that means he won’t always get his way." Read full article in The New York Times. E.T.P. 5'

 Tim Worstall writes in Forbes: "This isn’t perhaps the sort of thing that we normally congratulate people on, managing to so entirely screw up a national economy so as to generate 200% annual inflation. But we really should give credit where such credit is due. It is an achievement to manage to follow economic policies that blockheaded so, in the spirit of being entirely fair, congratulations to Venezuela’s Bolivarian socialism. It’s worth noting further that the reason for this stunning success of theirs is not because they’re a bit left wing, nor because they’ve tried to make the lives of the poor a bit better. It’s because they’ve ignored the most important rule of trying to run an economy, they’ve failed to understand that markets really do work. Something that we all need to recall in our own countries as various people tell us that we’ve got to excise market forces from one or another part of our own economies. There’s ways to deal with the effects that we don’t want from market forces: but ignoring or trying to abolish them leads to, well, to success like that that Venezuelan Bolivarian socialism is currently experiencing." Read full article in Forbes. E.T.P. 6' 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: The Worst Place on Earth

Photo via BBC Future.

According to Tim Maughan in BBC Future reportage, the worst place on earth is a dystopian lake in Mongolia "filled by the world's tech lust."

"Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech, discovers Tim Maughan. From where I'm standing, the city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex dominates the horizon, its endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky. Between it and me, stretching into the distance, lies an artificial lake filled with a black, barely-liquid, toxic sludge." Read full article in BBC Future. E.T.P. 8'


Photo via VICE.

Garret Gilmore shares in VICE his problem with emoji and how this little cartoon icons violate the rule of arbitrariness of linguistic signs making this tendence to think in emoji an interesting study case.. "I have a problem with emojis, I think. What I mean is, sometimes I think in emojis. When I'm looking for a word or phrase to respond to things outside the contexts of texts or Twitter what pops into my head are emoji characters. My girlfriend Sarah first pointed out that this was happening to her a few months ago after she found herself unable to produce any alternative to " " as a response to an email from her boss . . . The surprise of thinking in tiny cartoon images comes from the expectation that language is going to pop into your head when you think. So what makes emoji different from written language? How do emojis mean and is it different from how words mean" Read full article in VICE. E.T.P. 7'

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: Hong Sang-Soo, the Woody Allen of Korea

Photo via

Thanks to Open Culture and Martin Scorsese we discovered filmmaker Hong Sang-soo, the Woody Allen of Korea. He hardly needs further presentation after that title, but still we share with you his words: “for me, there’s something especially interesting about the films of Hong Sangsoo. It’s got to do with his masterful sense of storytelling. In each of his films that I’ve managed to see, everything kind of starts unassumingly” — but then things “unpeel like an orange.” Open culture compiled fragments of Sangsoo movies that ca be seen in YouTube and one full film: The Day a Pig Fell into a Well. Have a look at all this goodness in Open Culture. E.T.P. A bit over 2 hours.

CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT: Skateboarding Afgan Girls

Photo Jessica Fulford-Dobson via Quartz.

"In Afghanistan, skateboarding has spread to become the number one sport for women, as they are forbidden to ride bicycles. Soon after arriving and entering the girl’s world, Fulford-Dobson was accepted by the young Afghan skateboarders. She photographed the girls with natural light, helping to expose their personalities through simple portraits. Within the images you can see the girls’ natural confidence, images that capture the subjects both posed and candidly skating through the indoor facility." Read this interesting article by Kate Sierzputowski with brilliant photographs by Jessica Fulford-Dobson in Quartz. E.T.P. 6'


Photo: The Procrastinator (some) Times @ Roubaix's La Piscine Musée.

A few days ago after going out of a friend bar, I started thinking about what makes women mad.  Why do we have to be feminists? Why going through all of this? Why do we have to diet? Why do some women achieve success and others just don’t? Anyway, a whole bunch of questions sparked by beer.

Doing some research for the blog, I ended up watching a few documentary about the woman's body and how the sexist theme has humiliated us; why the Italian or Venezuelan TV shows sell woman as a sex object and not as a human being with brain and thoughts; and why women have to be fighters and not allow to be treat it that way.   

After an information overdose I stopped. What should we do, and why do we have to do something in the first place? This question is addressed to a group, and precisely that's the thing: what's with this "group of women". I’m not a bunch of women, I am unique. I’m me, with my attributes, my flows, fears, scars, cellulite and a list that goes on and on. I’m me, not my best friend, my roommate, my mother, my grandma or bloddy Scarlett Johansson.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe there is no real women revolution today because we live in a world that is pretty individualistic, and maybe the faster we release ourselves from those questions, from those “should be” of feminism and start listening to ourselves a little bit more, it will be much easier to all women come together as a gender and make an adequate to us all.

It can curious, but I never felt inadequate for growing up in the “country of the most beautiful women”  (also known as Venezuela) and for having Italian roots (which means prominent curves by nature). At the same time I never felt like being part of the Venezuelan women who wear high heels and go to the hairdresser every day to look absolutely perfect. No, I never felt the pressure that supposedly fuck you up as a woman and at the same time becomes the driver to rebel against it.

I’ve always wear sneakers, ever since I found out about Converse back when I was 11 years old. Since then I haven’t changed much. Don’t get me wrong, I love high heels; love how they help the feminine silhouette look longer and thinner, yet I wear them so very little. There are even days when I would love not to be so lazy and embrace the pain caused by the killer/pretty shoes. Actually I envy (in a good way) when my friends are able to wear them during a whole night. They usually say that the important thing is to find the ones you like and then you focus on comfort (if any).  What I like the most is that these same friends wear their Converses as much as they wear her high heels. Bravo. As the great Gilles Lipovetsky would say: women love traditions, we won't get rid of them.

And probably because I didn't wear high heels everyday, as I was growing up I was also incapable of understanding why some women love going to the salon and expend hours there, telling their secrets to a hair stylist. I started enjoying dying my hair at 16 -that whole thing about “being different” always starts with the hair. Its was a tough welcome into that world. I’m not much of a people's person or at least I wasn’t one at the time. I was extremely shy and seeing all these cheerfulness covered by superfluousness used to caused me the chills, but then again, as the years go by, I now understand that… that’s what you do at hair salons! And sometimes you even go there just to complain about your life. I have never spent more than 4 hours at this place but I have learned the art of speaking very little to the stylists without being impolite. I succeeded in being me! I was able to understand and to adapt myself to that place!

With feminism it’s a whole other story. I don't know how blend in. I can’t forget the 60-70s feminist’s movement that brought us so many rights as women. However, I believe that complaining about male sexism nowadays it’s a step too far. I believe feminism has become a weapon in politics (regardless of the party in power). Feminists groups have lost their authenticity or maybe they didn’t find the way to evolve their discourses.

Complaining because women on TV, aren’t treated properly or because the porn its not feminine –even when pornstar females make a lot more money than their male counterparts, thanks to porn business being so sexist). To me it seems even more sexist than sexism itself, because I think that if it was your decision to be in a show modeling underwear or getting a $3000 salary for sucking some guy’s dick and on top of that you enjoy it, well good for you. If you don’t know yourself that well and took the job, well that’s another story and that’s your responsibility as well (of course if you where told you were going to dance and ended up trapped in a prostitution network, that’s obviously another thing and it’s totally illegal and punishable.)

Feminism gave us the possibility of deciding lots of aspects of our lives –we still have battles to win, of course, but today, the best feminism from my point of view is taking the time to really get to know yourself and from there, be authentic and wish and decide what do you want to be, without having to label yourself of sexist or feminist.   

Let's stop being falsely apologetic using phrases like "I like sex and I’m not a whore”, or “I don't want to get married and don't have the Peter Pan's syndrome”; “I have boobs, but I’m smart”, etc. The only flag that we should be waving is a massive one that says:  “I'm in charge of my decisions and I embrace full responsibility for them”.

Before you act, get to know yourself. If you already screwed something up, just don't judge, embrace it, and don’t try to blame anyone. Start being responsible for our acts and making smart choices its the best sign of freedom and the one thing that I think feminism has been pursuing all along.

P.D. Possibly many of you would love to kill me after reading this article, don't! I’m really open to dialogue, because this is just my opinion, but I'd love to hear yours! 


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: Lovely Marnie the dog via her Instagram. Adopt senior dogs!