Archive - Sep 2005


Laptops for Poor Children

Nicholas Negroponte is working on providing laptops to developing countries for less than $100 a piece. Interesting trend - I just read on rabble's blog about super cheap cellphones for the poor. This is good I think, especially if they get them for free. And the laptops are super cool - they run linux, they're really tough, have wireless, flash memory instead of hard drive. I hope this actually happens. Seems like a tough order.

interesting point made on the website for the laptops about why they're not using recycled machines:

regarding recyled machines: if we estimate 100 million available used desktops, and each one requires only one hour of human attention to refurbish, reload, and handle, that is forty-five thousand work years. Thus, while we definitely encourage the recycling of used computers, it is not the solution for One Laptop per Child.

Good point, but it's sad when recycling is contraindicated like that.

Related note: the other day I saw Negroponte's book "Being Digital" sitting forelornly in the free pile at Powell's Technical. I remember when that book came out and it was supposed to be such hot, prophetic, "the future is now" stuff. Hah.

(thanx José)

A Trailer For My Documentary

I'm still not quite done with "On The Edge", my documentary about the femicides of Ciudad Juarez, but last weekend I made a trailer for it. I'm not entirely happy with the trailer, and I will probably make a better one soon, but this one I am putting up there just to whet your whistle.

What I was going for was a sort of quick overview of all the different people in the film. But as a friend pointed out it would be better to do an overview of the concepts, the issues involved. Anyway, if you have comments, please leave them here. thanx.

Time Flying

I just realized that before today I hadn't blogged for about a week and a half, for some reason. Maybe because I've been really busy and time has just been flying by. Helping friends move, working on 3 video projects at once (including the Juarez doc, which is now like one day of color-correction work away from being done. No, really!!), working on the Computers for Bolivia Project, which took 1 step forward and 2 steps back in the last week... I dunno what else. Being sick. Helping a friend sell a bunch of stuff on eBay (high ticket stuff, ,so it's kind of intense).

Nice weather is still holding on here, for the most part, knock on formica. At this point I still want to get out of Portland and head down the coast in mid-october. I'm slowly getting rid of posessions to make the move easier.

Last night Portland IMC had its usual monthly video night and no one showed up except for IMC people. Talk about preaching to the choir. That kind of pissed me off. What's the point?

Well, that's about it. More as it happens.

Whether justice can be found

The New York Times published a major story about the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez yesterday. Their focus is on the corruption or incompentence of the police and state government. It's pretty impressive. oh an remember that if you dont have a NYT login and don't want to register, use

(via jay)

Wistful Looks at Others' Travels

In the last few days I have witnessed the travels or soon-to-be travels of various friends and aquaintances, and it has both thrilled me and made me a little melancholy, because I want to be on the road myself again.

My friend Joel is going to China, to be a stilt-walker in some parade. wow. On top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuancan my friend Jacob and I met Abby, someone I know from Portland, and her friend Lisa. Lisa is still travelling, has been in Guatemala for months and has a blog that is making me thinking nostalgically back to my trip in Mexico and Guatemala. She's even spent a lot of time in the same places I went, D.F., San Cristobal, Xela, San Pedro.

The other day I was covering a carpenter's strike for Indymedia when I ran into Bartolina and Patrik, who do community radio stuff here in Portland and are about to start a 6-month long journey through latin america, interviewing people and linking up with radio activists all along the way. Wish I was going with them, but I will live it vicariously through their blog, which will hopefully be a podcast with lots of audio, too. They asked me for contacts and I immediately started telling them about all the cool people and organizations I'd come across on my travels. I need to email them soon with details.

The other thing that has reminded me of Guatemala and Mexico is the fact that la pinche tos ha regresado (the damn cough is back). I haven't felt this bad since my first week in Chiapas. Thinking of that time reminds me not to be too positively nostagic, because I was sick almost the entire time that I was in Guatemala, and up till my second week in Mexico. See, I have this every year (except the time I was in South America, and managed to sidestep winter of any kind) It came late this year and was particularly bad when I was in Guatemala, probably exacerbated by pollution and chilly, moist climate of the highlands there. Now, as Portland moves into fall/winter/rainy season, it's back. I think I also am allergic to something blooming now, and the general congestion has triggered my cough. Maybe I have asthma. A doctor told me once that asthma and hay fever are genetically linked, and that often people develop asthma when they're older.

Anyway, it sucks. Another reason to get my ass down to Tucson. Or somewhere warmer and drier. But I'm stuck here waiting for the Computers for Bolivia Project to get wrapped up. I'm at the mercy of Free Geek, basically. waiting for them to tell me if we can have more computers. Pinche computadoras.

Probot vs. Postal Service

Here's my second (or third if you count the little test clip) video piece included, embedded, enclosed, in this blog. It's not a vlog, it's a blog that can, does, and will include media, and you'll be able to look at it with iTunes or FireAnt or that sorta thing.

Anyway, this little piece is called "Probot vs. The Postal Service." - it's basically a mashup, a juxtaposition of a video with a a different song than what original went with it. Probot is a sort of metal supergroup that includes Lemmy from Motorhead and Dave Grolsch of Nirvana. The original video also includes local Portland softporn legends The Suicide Girls and the original song was called "Shake Your Blood," I think. It's typical cockrock bullshit. I couldn't stand it, and even though the imagery raised my blood pressure, I also just got angry every time I saw it. So I got the idea of layering a totally different sort of song over it, as an experiment in detournement. The song - well, you'll see. I think it worked pretty well and it's pretty funny. I didn't change the audio at all, and I only changed the video by altering the speed in about 5 places in order to make some things sync up for more humorous effect.

I was just about to post this and then decided maybe it needs more explanation. Why did I do this? Aren't I just replacing one pop song with another and by using the visuals as-is just perpetuating the sexism in the original? I think to think that one would have to not really pay attention to the lyrics and feel of the new song. The Postal Service song is a great example of "Emo", which, in case you haven't heard, is a sort of sub-genre of independent pop music that is well-known for the open, honest display of feelings. It's antithetical to the sort of macho, chauvinist posturing that bands like Probot, and so much other rock music, display all the time, especially the medium of music videos, depending on objectification of women and a front of power and domination. So just the idea of Lemmy mouthing lines like "when I'm missing you to death" is really funny and thought-provoking, making a critique of the sexist fantasy in the original video just by drawing attention to the contast.

So, there you go, that's why I did it.

By the way, a technical note - I haven't had very many complaints about being able to play these files; I've been encoding them in mpeg-4 format, which is supposedly a standard, but, somehow mpeg-4s made on a Mac are different than those made on Windoze. So some windoze users have trouble, especially if they don't have a recent installation of Quicktime. Other (free) cross-platform players that should work are VLC and mPlayer.

Bugmenot is pretty cool. It's a site that gives you fake accounts to registration-required sites, so you don't have to register to get content (like on the New York Times site, etc.) What a great idea.

New Amnesty International Investigations on Ciudad Juarez Situation

I just found a long article (which I've only skimmed so far) about Amnesty International's recent trip to Juarez and Chihuahua to revisit the femicide situation there and assess if progress is being made. Sounds like they have, and that the new governor is actually visibly better than the old one. Amazing.

Get Your Katrina On

Get Your War On brings us a special Hurricane Katrina edition that is, as usual, excellent sarcastic political satire in cartoon form.

Music Come Upon By Accident

I should have been continuing to wrap up my Juarez doc, but I spent a couple hours last night and today doing a little video that I've been planning to do for a week or so, made from clips I've shot with my digital still camera (which can take little videos) over the last few months.

I call it "Incidental Music."

It's all music that I just sort of accidentally experienced, and was able to whip out my camera to capture.

All of the bits are from Portland except for the first one, which is from Mexico, on the way from Mexico City to the ruins of Teotihuancan. The second is shot from the east bank of the Williamette River, looking across the water towards downtown and hearing, all that way, the Violent Femmes play at the Bite of Oregon festival. Then there's the bike/dance troupe called The Sprockettes, and then some members of The Trash Mountain Boys, and other musicians, doing a little improv bicyclized version of La Bamba - "Zoo Bomba" at a brunch a couple weekends ago, and finally some footage of The Golden Greats, some friends that started a pretty entertaining funk band while I was out of town. I got to see them play at a party I was at.

This is one of the only videos I have edited completely outside of the world of DV. So it was kind of weird. I'm not too happy with the crunchiness of the titles as they turned out on the encoded-for-interweb file. But the whole thing is pretty lo-fi. my still cam shoots in some AVI photojpeg codec, 15 fps, half-res, mono 8-bit audio. but despite these specs it sounds and looks okay in its original form. and not even that bad here. I just with the titles were a little sharper. oh well.

anyway, enjoy. This represents slices of some of the really fun times I've had this summer, symbolized and epitomized by live musical serendipity. There's almost nothing better than just stumbliing across great music.