Digital Inclusion w/o a quick connection?

“Is there a point in discussing the digital inclusion when you don’t have a high-speed connection? Governments and everyone else are talking about how to universalize high-speed access, while Brazil is still moving slowly.

There’s a Brazil that can’t manage to watch Youtube, that doesn’t have a Facebook profile, that can’t follow the happenings of Twitter and wouldn’t even dream of signing up for Google Wave. It signs-on to MSN, but first it needs 9 hours to download the program – if the connection doesn’t fail first. It’s the disconnected Brazil – or 94.2% of our country.” – Source (translation by me)

My Take

Ok, I get it. Everyone in the world needs to be on the same globalized page, with the same opportunities…to receive their bread and circuses. I mean, what’s the point in giving us a shiny toy racecar if what’s under the hood is the equivalent of a Jalopy? Playing aside, what we have been given is a world in which it is increasingly unthinkable to exist without a computer at your side or in your pocket. The former of which I could be charged, tried and convicted. Convicted but not anywhere near convinced that such a world will lead to anything good. Pick your poison then, either be given your opinions through traditional media or experience a loss of privacy through new media (media, which just means ‘medium’ or middle, meaning we’re all kept on the same page).

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When parkour goes soft

I’m thinking quite a lot of people have heard of or seen parkour but what about it’s laid-back cousin, street training? Yes, that’s right, if you are not daring enough to attempt l’art du déplacement then there’s another way you can interact with your surroundings and it’s called street training (what is it called if you become an expert?).

It seems to have started in London and picked up across the pond in none other than Brazil. After seeing a few videos on Youtube, I’m no longer sure it should be called the lazy off-shoot of parkour but rather the chilled-out version of flash mobs…or is it the walking man’s idea of the laying down game? Oh I’m not sure anymore…you crazy kids, you!

Go dance elsewhere – Observations

Last night, I was at a reggae concert featuring some local bands from Pará as well as Gregory Issacs from Jamaica and Soja from California. In the audience, near the stage were various couples watching and enjoying the live performances dancing forró super close to each other the whole time (5 hours plus) while bumping into everyone who actually came to *see* the bands play. All I have to say is, go dance elsewhere! Go to a bar, stay at your house, pay a lot less and go to a club for crying out loud but don’t go into the most dense part of the crowd, right near the stage and have your alone time with your partner. It’s extremely rude to say it politely. It may be a shock to you and your ‘sweetie-pie’ but nobody likes being bumped into every five seconds. In times like these, the only defense is to cross your arms and therefore use your elbows to make a point, so to speak.

Oh and this goes for the same types of couples, if you are going to spend the other half of your time in such an event ‘sucking face’ with your partner, get a room! Hug, kiss…I couldn’t care less, but if you’re acting like you’re in the privacy of your bedroom ‘knocking boots’ at 2AM then I hope those boots are also made for walking…cause you could go somewhere else and leave me and my friends to enjoy the event…yes, it’s not just me the foreigner who found it quite annoying, but my Brazilian friends too.

I feel warm & fuzzy inside

it must be global warming, right? and I (or my habits) must be causing it. I’m so “glad” (yes, that’s sarcasm) to know Brazil is falling for the carbon credit taxation scam (yes, folks, that’s where we’re headed and that’s why you’ve been primed). But if you think that’s bad, wait until UN Agenda 21 is in full effect!

“Brazil said Friday it would offer a “voluntary” cut of at least 36 percent in greenhouse gas emissions at the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen next month.

The goal could see carbon reductions of up to 39 percent and is set against Brazil’s forecast level of emissions in 2020.

The target was presented by Environment Minister Carlos Minc and government chief minister Dilma Rousseff at a news conference in Sao Paulo following talks with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil is the fourth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, largely because of carbon released through deforestation of its vast Amazon forest by ranchers and farmers.” – Source (more here, but no need to read)

In Brazil, it’s not a sin to be cool

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“The atmosphere was electric at Reborn in Christ Church on “Extreme Fight” night. Churchgoers dressed in jeans and sneakers, many with ball caps turned backward, lined a makeshift boxing ring to cheer on bare-chested jujitsu fighters.

They screamed when a fan favorite, Fabio Buca, outlasted his opponent after several minutes. They went wild when Pastor Dogão Meira, 26, took his man down, pinning him with an armlock just 10 seconds into the fight.

With the crowd still buzzing, Pastor Mazola Maffei, dressed in army pants and a T-shirt, grabbed a microphone. Pastor Maffei, who is also Pastor Meira’s fight trainer, then held the crowd rapt with a sermon about the connection between sports and spirituality.

“You need to practice the sport of spirituality more,” he urged. “You need to fight for your life, for your dreams and ideals.”

Reborn in Christ is among a growing number of evangelical churches in Brazil that are finding ways to connect with younger people to swell their ranks. From fight nights to reggae music to video games and on-site tattoo parlors, the churches have helped make evangelicalism the fastest-growing spiritual movement in Brazil.”NYT (more on it here)

Special shout-out to Marginal Revolution (who started the “Why are books so expensive in Brazil?” conversation) for writing about this NYT story. When clicking on the “writing about” link, you will also find thoughtful commentary by MR’s readers.

I found one commentor’s words to strike a chord when he said that the common religious theme of sheep to the shepherd is also what is helping to bring in the youth of today by bribing them with ‘their own culture’. On a side note, I wasn’t sure if I should have placed this post under religion or business.

Nightclub differences – What you should know

Let’s just say I’ve been comissioned to write on this subject and my payment comes when cross-cultural misunderstandings in nightclubs cease to exist.

I’ve been told on many occasions, mostly by Brazilians, that nightclubs in the US are a bit of an oddity, to put it nicely. The women dance in such a way as to seem like they wish to perform sexual acts on the men with whom they dance. For all intensive purposes, let’s call this style “grinding”, as that is what it’s called. The problem as seen by Brazilian men is when the grinding comes to a halt, the women have little interest in going to a corner and exchanging some kisses, touches, etc (we’ll call that ‘making out’ as if I went into the myriad of terms the Alaskans have for ice, I mean the Brazilians have for affection, then we might be here all night, in which case we might as well go out to a nightclub).

On the flip side, in Brazil, the women I’m told do not grind up on the guys in such a way but they will be open to considering a kiss (notice how I worded that, Brasileiras), as touchy-feely is more the cultural norm in Brazil. For those who wish to call me out on some apparent generalization, I’m going off of countless stories related to me by Brazilian men.

Let’s recap. Don’t grind in Brazil as a kiss is far more likely to occur. Don’t kiss those who grind with you in the US as they are there to grind, not to kiss. Now I feel better, like I’ve done my part to make the world a better place.

Next in Observations? How Brazilian women and American women differ in the flirting game.

The Guarani – searching for a home

“In Brazil, there are today around 46,000 Guarani living in seven states, making them the country’s most numerous tribe. Many others live in neighbouring Paraguay, Bolivia and 
Argentina. The Guarani people in Brazil are divided into three groups: Kaiowá, Ñandeva and M’byá, of which the largest is the Kaiowá which means ‘forest people’. They are a deeply spiritual people. Most communities have a prayer house, and a religious leader, whose authority is based on prestige rather than formal power.

For the Guarani, land is the origin of all life. But violent invasions by ranchers have devastated their territory and nearly all of their land has been stolen. Guarani children starve and their leaders have been assassinated. Hundreds of Guarani men, women and children have committed suicide.” – Source (news, photos and a few videos here)

For an idea of how the Guarani live these days, see the Brazilian/Italian film “BirdWatchers – La terra degli uomini rossi” (Terra Vermelha in Portuguese) or check out the documentary on sugarcane workers (which doesn’t feature Guarani people but it is a job they end up having to do). I’ll post a short review (in PT) below for Birdwatchers.

Average annual vacation days – Brazil 34

Average Annual Vacation Days by country: Italy 42, France 37, Germany 35, Brazil 34, Britain 28, Canada 26, Japan 25, USA 13.

This comes from a newsletter made by The American Institute of Stress and it got me wondering. How does having more days off contribute to less stress? If you are working less, you are making less but perhaps that is my American viewpoint as we place great importance on being a hard-working nation. Would the nation which ranked high on the list also need to place importance on being social and if so, how much does having a good social life contribute to less stress? Do more vacation days create a more social society or is it the other way around (meaning, does a social society create more vacation days?)? Food for thought.

Twitter & Brazil Part Deux

The other day, I posted on how Twitter is gaining ground in Brazil and with that, I also gave my unfavorable opinion of the service. While I don’t take back anything I said, I did find a few minutes to add a little to the post later on. Here’s what I said,

“But to give Twitter some credit, it is useful as a link-rich news source. If I search for the word ‘Brazil’, I’ll get endless pages of tweets citing Brazil (even if most are teenage girls asking famous people to come to Brazil) and some offer up links to stories that I have started to post about here. Within a minute or two, Twitter told me that 50-odd more tweets had come in since my initial search results were shown to me. If only there were a ‘teenage girl’ filter so I could get more relevant results…”

Only very recently, have I been trying out Twitter (as a non-registered user) and its search in order to seek out relevant Brazil-related links. In this short time, it has been hit and miss, although today, in one page of results, I found around three usable stories. In the 20 minutes that I took to post some of these to my site here, 300 fresh results were awaiting my refresh of the search page. Does such a thing speak to the growing number of users (44m) or perhaps the growing interest of the users in Brazil? Or, just maybe, it speaks to the growing number of Brazilian users who speak English since my only search has been the word ‘Brazil’ (not that one needs to speak English to write Brazil with a ‘z’). In the end, I’m sure it is a combination of the three.

In the meantime, where else am I going to find links about not one, but two bodily functions that also tie into Brazil? ; ) Only on Twitter. Which brings me to how to do searches. Try out things like the ‘link finder code’ (brazil filter:links) to filter your search by term and link. Plus there’s always the quotes trick (“brazilian culture”) and let’s not forget the minus sign tip (brazil -soccer), for subjects you don’t care about.