Archive for May, 2009

I hate Twitter

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

In the past, I have referred offhandedly to my distaste for the microblogging service, but I feel the time is ripe for me to make a full and public denunciation. This way, in 3-6 months, at least I’ll be able to link to this post and say, “Well, I was hating Twitter before it was cool.”

Sadly, the reason this post is necessary is that Twitter is fast approaching a tipping point in public consciousness. Oprah has a Twitter account now, as do dozens of members of Congress; the New York Times has published an article instructing their readers on the finer points of “tweeting”. Next, one of two things will happen. Either Twitter will be abandoned en masse by the members of the trendwhoring geek intelligentsia that made it popular in the first place (who will then tell you how they always hated it as much as Friendster and Pets.com), or, alternatively, it will become a permanent fixture of the culture. We’ve seen this pattern before: in 1985, having an email address meant you were either a scientist or a truly hardcore geek, in 1995, having an email address meant you were a cutting-edge first-adopter type; by 2005, having an email address just meant you were a person in a first-world nation. There should probably be some sort of official rule of pop-culture: once Oprah does something, it is no longer cool.
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Buses FTL

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Argentina is very large. This seemingly obvious fact has been vividly demonstrated to me over the last few days. I’m heading north, planning to visit Bariloche, before crossing into Chile and heading for Santiago to resume the urban/hacker part of my trip. In order to avoid a 400 USD flight from Ushuaia to Bariloche, I thought I’d give the bus a try.

From Ushuaia, I caught a 12 hour bus ride to Rio Gallegos, then a 4 hour layover followed by a 14 hour ride to Perito Moreno (a town that, confusingly has the same name as the glacier). My camera was stolen from the luggage rack above me while I was asleep. Conclusion: I hate buses.
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Forum formatting in political posturing

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Over 9000!!!

I saw this ad a few days ago in Ushuaia. Apparently there was a city council election there back in November (either that, or they’re starting pretty early for next year). Two things about it caught my eye. The first, is if you’re going appear in a photo on your political ads, you should try to look like a friendly, honest, guy. To achieve this effect, it helps if you’re not actively making the Shifty-Eyed Dog look in your photo.

The second thing I noticed was the overexuberant use of exclamation marks in the headline, which reads “Ahora sí!!!” (Now yes!!!). This is decidedly not standard Spanish exclamation point use (¡No!), nor is it really standard English usage. Of course, advertisements and signage have long adhered to their own standards for punctuation, everything from the grocer’s apostrophe to the humorously misplaced “quotation” marks used for emphasis. Nevertheless, I’m inclined to agree with this recent Guardian piece pointing to the Internet as the source of an exclamation point resurgence.
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Faro del fin del mundo

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Faro del fin del mundo

This is the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse which stands watch over the Beagle Channel from a perch on the small Les Eclaireurs islands in the middle of the channel. According to the tour companies here in Ushuaia, it’s the “Lighthouse at the End of the World,” which isn’t really true. It’s not the southernmost lighthouse in the world, it doesn’t mark the end of the South American continent, it’s not even the actual lighthouse that features in the Jules Verne novel by that name.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it…

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

After an 18 hour bus ride, I’ve arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina, the Southernmost “City at the End of the World,” which is only sort of true, but that doesn’t stop them from plastering it all over everything as a marketing slogan. Since arriving here, I’ve drunk “coffee at the end of the world,” ate a burger from the “hamburger place at the end of the world,” visited the “Museum at the End of the World” (which refers to itself, comically, by the Spanish abbreviation ‘MFM’) and had dinner at restaurant with the slogan, “Relax and enjoy, it’s the end of the world!”

In any case, Ushuaia is a much larger city than El Calafate, and has some industries (shipping and manufacturing) unrelated to tourism. It feels slightly lower-rent than El Calafate, but is also in a beautiful setting, surrounded by mountains on a crystal-blue bay.

¡Bienvenidos al fin del mundo!