Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chaser's War on Everything

After recently mulling over a job in Australia (which I am afraid I did not get), I checked out one of their comedy shows, and I have to say that the Australians really know how to make funny television. In particular, I loved this program called The Chaser's War on Everything. Their most widely known stunt was driving a motorcade right in front of the hotel where George W. Bush was with a guy dressed as Osama bin Laden, I shit you not, you can try to find this in YouTube, before they take it down, of course.

This video, which I doubt will be taken down, is of Osama thanking them for giving him a spot in the Australian ABC. I mean, this is real journalism, give everyone a fair chance of responding. The last YouTube copy and paste service I put in this post is one of their other hilarious pranks, which involves getting a guy with stockings in his head trying to buy stuff like a regular customer, I almost pissed myself watching this.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Documentaries of Nightmares and Self

Over the last weeks I have been watching two series of documentaries created by a British filmmaker called Adam Curtis that are extremely good. So good, in fact, that I believe any person wanting to understand current western thought should be required to watch.

The first series of documentaries, is called The Century of Self, and talks about how the ideas of Freud, and of people in his family that followed him, have shaped the way in which western companies and politicians control the masses by appealing to our selfish irrational motivations.

The second series, called The Power of Nightmares, follows the parallel paths of American neo-conservatism and of radical Islam culminating with the politics of fear. It shows how these two groups of radicals have, at their core, very similar ideals, and how their actions have resulted, almost unintentionally, in the current situation regarding the war on terror.

These two are a must-see, and proves to me how Adam Curtis is an awesome filmmaker, especially through his usage of stock footage and music in a clever but not flashy or patronizing way.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kazakh Vodka


My flatmate has given me this vodka some time ago, but only now did I take the time to photograph to show to some friends. So now here it is, authentic Kazakh vodka, and the bottle is hands down one of the nicest bottles I have ever seen.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Browser

This week I did my part and participated in the Firefox download day, contributing to the statistics of over 300 thousand downloads in the UK alone. I would suggest the reader to download Firefox too, it is an awesome browser, and it looks slicker than the previous version, the download is a pitiful 7 Megabytes and it is spanking free!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

London Naked Bike Ride

This Saturday I spent the afternoon in Hyde Park to finally witness an event I wanted to see ever since I came to London, the Naked Bike Ride! As you can probably infer from the name, and deduce from the pictures I took, it is a bicycle ride, whose riders are stark naked, but unfortunately not all of them. The point of this ride is, of course, to stimulate people to curb car culture and remind us that if we do not stop using fossil fuels in favor of more green energy sources, global warming will make sure we all need to go around naked to stand the weather (this last point I made up, but it does make sense to me).

As you can see from my diverging attire, the temperature was not exactly ideal for a tropical guy like me to go around naked, so most of the people participating consisted of northern Europeans, or those who had come to be acclimatized in England. Some people might have been drawn to this event to see naked women, but I am sorry to inform that most people around this event were males, and the few women that came were either not completely naked or should not go around naked (yeah, I am not trying to be politically correct here). So the main point stands, it was more of a colorful protest than a show of fit physique.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Magic Day

For many reasons, in particular because of a certain day in a certain Austrian castle.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Interesting music

My girlfriend has recently recommended me to listen to this duo of Ireland-based Mexicans called Rodrigo y Grabiela. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as I never imagined that two people with acoustic guitars could create such a rich sound. Their music, according to Last.FM, is hard to define, and I would agree, since they went into the old world bent on playing metal, but ended up using traditional Hispanic music tradition to create something which is very hard to pin down to any of the two categories. I definitely recommend for people who want to try something different and entirely original.

Friday, June 06, 2008

When your bank steals from you

This week I have been unpleasantly surprised by a letter from the bank I have been using in Britain, HSBC, which indicated that I would be charged 25 quid for going overdraft about 25 pounds for 30 hours, because I forgot to transfer some money from my savings account to my current account during the weekend. Of course, I did not do this only this time, I have done about the same last February, which characterizes, according to the HSBC support person, being frequently overdraft. Strangely enough, I never had a definite definition for frequently, but the HSBC helper girl gladly informed me that twice in six months constitutes frequently.

Well, I actually do agree that some penalties are in order when someone goes overdraft, but clearly, a flat 25 pound fee is beyond any reasonable standards, since for the amount of money I have gone overdraft for, the penalty is much more than a loan shark would charge me for a 24 hour period.

Apparently, I am not the only disgruntled customer of the British banking system, as other people are bringing a test case against this type of theft, and the banks have lost in the first instance. Of course, the banks are appealing against this, but I am hopeful that this absurd charges will be outlawed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cien años de soledad

I am proud to announce that I have finished reading my first full book in Spanish, and amazingly enough, I have started high, with Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 years of solitude. It took me roughly a week to finish the book, and my verdict is that the book is good, but not as good as many people make it out to be. One may argue that my less than perfect knowledge of Spanish made me miss the poetic elements in it, but in all honesty, this is bullcrap. The story is interesting enough to keep me gripped, and the analogies with Latin American aesthetic and events is interesting, but it is not, as one person suggested, a book that should be compulsory reading for all humanity.

What amazed me was the way in which relationships are formed throughout the book. My girlfriend tells me that Hispanic America is very conservative, but Marquez clearly begs to differ, because his characters are specialists on incest and inbreeding like the inhabitants of a backwards Louisiana Swamp, as can be seen by the family tree of the main characters' family which I gracefully stole from the wikipedia.