Archive - Jul 2005

Juarez Doc Details

Well, the film is really coming along. Translations are slowly trickling in from various people helping out, thankfully, though there are still several clips left to do. Now I'm busy making subtitles from the translations I do have, and as I go, tightening up the editing. Hopefully I can still reduce the total length, but I've decided not to be so worried about that anymore. It's about 72 minutes, and I wanted it to be more like 57, but we'll just have to see. I thought it might be interesting to list here the different sections of the doc, not neccesarily in order:

  • intro
  • migration/border
  • impunity
  • poverty and violence
  • violence against women
  • negligence
  • torture of innocents
  • corruption
  • narcotraficantes
  • NAFTA/free trade
  • conclusion/solutions

    It's a complicated series of topics that are all interlinked into a web, conceptually, so it has been difficult to force them into a linear order, but of course this has to be done for a documentary. On the DVD I will of course have an index allowing viewers to get to and watch each section.

  • Broadcast Machine and

    Participatroy Culture's video publishing software, Broadcast Machine is a free and open source content management system that handles publishing of video content and even acts as an automated bittorrent seeder. Pretty cool. I've been looking for something like this. ibiblio also has something called Osprey that is simliar, it looks like.

    There's a lot of exciting "participatory" or "independent" web video projects sprouting up all over. Blogging was a first wave, then the podcasting wave, and that seems to have touched off a still-embryonic video casting/bloggin phenomenon. The interesting and scary thing is that the power of Hollywood and television is so great that some of these internet video sharing ventures are hybrid or not so hybrid tv networks, and some are closer to traditional distribution and business models than others. It's a weird time where it's hard to tell what will happen.

    Will "vcasting" make television irrelevant? Or will the television industry taint vcasting? hard to say, but it reminds me of when I worked for ZDTV during it's launch (later TechTV, and now I think it's called G4?) - I and some other idealistic employees thought it would make TV more like the Web, but it ended up helping to make the Web more like TV. Disillusioned again.

    CAFTA passes... oh, shit.

    Well, the republicans just barely squeezed CAFTA through the House last night, 217-215, apparently after lots of threats to reluctant partymembers. What a shame, after all the fighting and all the people standing up against it. 15 democrats even voted for it. To add insult to injury, I get this clueless email from this Guatemalan guy I met in Chiquimula, a celebratory message about how how great it is that CAFTA finally passed and how good it will be for his country. What a fool. I met this guy through a complicated connection I won't go into but suffice it to say he was interested in my efforts to get computers to Bolivia, and he wanted some computers for some schools in Guatemala. He works with Habitat for Humanity and his city is a sister city of Port Huron, Michigan and he's been up there a few times. He was a nice enough guy but now I'm really doubting his sanity, and the fact that he's an evangelical minister makes me sort of shiver, too. Here's what he said:

    All right!!!!!!!!! the CAFTA was finally aproved by the USA congress, this will bring more
    and better opportunities for both countries especially for ours.

    It just seems like such a no-brainer that CAFTA will be a fucking disaster for everyone. All you have to do is look at NAFTA. That's all you have to do. It's like a big 10-year old sore thumb, a big sign sitting there saying hey, look at this huge failure, this monster that's put 8 million people under the poverty line and destroyed millions of jobs, etc etc. I mean, how clueless do you have to be? You have to be either stupid, or rich and evil. I know this guy isn't rich.


    Juarez docu proceeds, but still need more translators

    Well, I am slowly but steadily progressing on my film about the femicides in Ciudad Juarez. Some days I feel like, yeah, sure, I can wrap it up in 2 weeks. Other days I think, omigod there's still so much to do.

    Definitely though, the big thing that is holding me back is translation. I still have several bits of interviews that I can't accurately, fully translate myself into english, and hence, can't really even make a final decision about what to use or how to cut. A few people have responded to earlier requests, and 2 have actually followed through, and it's been great to get back those translations and feel like I can now fully take advantage of the corresponding footage.

    But I need more help! So if you are good at spanish and english and would like to help, go to the Backpack page I've set up to manage the task, and follow the directions there. If you're fluent it should just take a few minutes to do one clip, more if you want to do more. If you have questions email me at steev AT detritus.netNOSPAM or leave a comment here.


    War on Terror as a series of Unix shell interactions

    From Boing Boing we have a renactment of the first round in the War on Terror, Unix-style. And I'm so glad they spelled Unix right, not all in caps (it's not an acronym! - that's one of my pet geek peeves). Anyway, I'm trying to think how one could continue it, but they might have stopped just in time (avoiding the Saturday Night Live Syndrome where every joke just gets driven into the ground). Ooh, but one funny thing might be something like:

    $ cd Iraq/reasons_to_invade
    $ ls
    $ ln -s oil democracy
    $ ln -s oil WMDs
    $ ln -s oil regime _change
    $ ./saddam_connected_to_911
    ./saddam_connected_to_911: Command not found.

    ha ha ha. there's all sorts of other sub-jokes possible. like maybe the media could somehow be used as a compiler/linker to build the binary called "concensus." etc etc.

    but, like i said, it's probably gone on enough. or, wait, too far, now. i'm sure there's leftie geeks all over the world furiously thinking up more, but i can say i've spent enough time on it.

    (thanx jos&eacute)

    update: erp! i found the original blog where this was posted. They take it a lot farther, especially the commentors. still funny though, with some of the same ideas I just had above, basically.

    El Paso trying to stop teens from crossing into Juarez

    Interesting new article in the El Paso paper about how teenagers keep going into Juarez even though they know it's dangerous. Two El Paso high school boys were offed in the last 10 days. Meanwhile as usual we got Juarez officials saying, nah, Juarez isn't violent, it's about as violent as, say Houston.

    Uh, yeah, but in Houston the police probably actually investigate and solve some violent crimes.

    Commerce Department Stops Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba



    Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez

    As of 1:30 pm EDT, The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba
    is being held up at the US-Mexico border by US Commerce Department
    They are threatening to search every vehicle and every item of
    humanitarian aid. They are telling us that "only licensable goods will be allowed to
    cross into Mexico."

    Pastors for Peace does not accept or apply for a license to deliver
    humanitarian aid to Cuba.

    There are 130 US citizens traveling with the caravan. They and the
    humanitarian aid are traveling in eight busses, a box truck and two
    small cars. It will take days to inspect the 140 tons of aid. We are prepared
    todo whatever we need to do to deliver our humanitarian aid to Cuba. Stay

    The Spoilers

    I just heard a great program on Odyssey, a public radio show that I've frequently found interesting, though suprisingly highbrow or academic - you don't often hear, even on public radio, phrases like "post-modern conception of representation," especially from a caller!

    Anyway, today's show was about Reality TV, and the 2 guests were both academics and cultural critics, one of them being the eminent Henry Jenkins, who is pretty well known for his study of fan culture and his book "Textual Poachers."

    There was a lot of great stuff about the role that reality television is playing in society, but there are 2 things in particular that I was most interested in. First, the idea that reality tv programs promote an idea of individual agency and responsiblity that is in keeping with the current rise of neoliberal ideology in politics. Where before people could look to government social programs or their community for support, they're encouraged now to be independent individualists and compete, like in Survivor and other reality contest game shows, and look to private sources of charity like the Extreme Home Makeover show.

    The other interesting thing that Jenkins brought up is the phenomenon of the spoiler community. These are viewers of a reality show who get together on the internet and investigate the show to find out what will happen before it goes on the air, or to find out extra details that don't appear on the show itself. They're like investigative journalists, only they don't investigate weighty things like corrupt politicians or corporate wrongdoing, they investigate whether Joey will be voted off the Island next week, or whatever. They even pool their money sometimes to send one of their group to physically investigate the filming location, interview people, etcetera.

    Hmm. sounds sort of like Indymedia.

    Jenkins basically explained that he sees this as an activity motivated by a desire to use new information tools to learn more about the world than what is being told to them by the media, and he mentioned how this is connected to some forms of activism going on now or that will go on.

    Wow. Isn't it incredible, there's people out there put time and energy and money into being amateur investigative journalists, but their subjects are completely useless, unreal elements of constructed corporate mass culture. Just imagine if they could be swayed to participate in Indymedia instead!

    Border Border Border


    While in Chiapas I learned of a film called "Grington" (or "Gringothon" in english) by an expatriate from the U.S. living in Mexico, Greg Berger. I recently found it available for download from the excellent Salon Chingon site (which is connected with Narco News), and last night I finally watched it. It's really great and really funny. The film is all about Greg feeling helpless as a gringo living in Mexico during the start of the Iraq War, and so he decides to start a campaign to raise money to fund an insurrection in the U.S. to oust George Bush. He goes around D.F. dressed as a tourist, speaking purposely really badly-pronounced spanish, and trying to get people to donate to the cause. I recommend downloading and watching it, and if you ever have a chance to see any of his other work, do so - I obtained some DVDs while in Mexico of a few of his other pieces, and they're really excellent. He has a website at