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Testing the iPhone 3GS in Argentina

August 31st, 2009 | 08:44 PM

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iPhone 1Two of Argentina’s top cellular phone companies – Movistar and Claro – last week said they will start selling the new iPhone 3Gs in Argentina.

I’ve been testing the new 32GB version of the phone for the past two months and can highly recommend it.

As someone who’s used numerous Blackberries, as well as all previous versions of the iPhone, I can say this is hands down the best phone I’ve ever had.

The iPhone 3Gs works splendidly on Movistar’s 3G network. It is noticeably faster than previous versions. Almost all applications work faster.

E-mails works faster, Apple’s Safari browsers loads quicker and all of the audio and video streaming features work very nicely.

Most importantly, perhaps, the phone’s GPS unit works smoothly, though it worked well on the 3G too. You can easily type in street addresses in Argentina and have the GPS application tell you how to get to your destination. (more…)

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Japanese Couple Wins Tango Championship

August 31st, 2009 | 04:42 AM

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Tango

Hiroshi and Kyoto Yamao danced their way into greatness Saturday night, winning the World Tango Championship here in Buenos Aires.

The Japanese husband and wife team won in the “Salon Tango” category, beating out a Colombian duo that came in second place.  Argentines Jorge Mariño and Sara Parnigoni came in third.

Around 6,000 people watched the competition, which took place at Luna Park in downtown Buenos Aires.

For more information, click here.

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Buenos Aires Passes Ban On Plastic Bags

August 31st, 2009 | 04:40 AM

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Whole FoodsThe City of Buenos Aires last week took a giant step toward ecological sustainability by passing a law to ban the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags at supermarkets, gas stations, and other stores.

Legislators passed the bill unanimously. Part of the bill calls for a public awareness campaign to educate residents about the benefits of using – and re-using – their own biodegradable bags when shopping.

The law gives supermarkets up to four years to comply and stop using plastic bags.

Other businesses will get up to five years. Businesses that violate the law will face fines of up to 100,000 pesos, if caught.

With passage of this law, the City of Buenos Aires has once again shown itself to be far more proactive than the federal government on health and environmental issues. In 2006 the city passed a nearly complete ban on smoking, something the federal government has yet to do.

The City of San Francisco, in the U.S., banned plastic bags in 2007. Ireland slapped taxes on the bags earlier this decade and usage of them plummeted almost immediately.

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Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ In Argentina

August 30th, 2009 | 07:15 AM

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The famed culinary expert and funny-man food entertainer Anthony Bourdain hosted a special on Argentina a while back. It’s from his excellent show No Reservations. If you like food and like Argentina, it’s a no-brainer that this is worth watching.

A caveat: The video isn’t the greatest quality in the world and it takes a while to load.

*Gracias Fred for passing this along.

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CFK Gaffes Highlight Risks Of Ad-Hoc Speeches

August 29th, 2009 | 08:02 AM

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Bolsa Photo

President Cristina Fernández is famous for her ability to speak extemporaneously.

She can speak for lengthy periods and expound on complex issues – without notes – with ease. She often displays a remarkably sharp memory and an uncanny knack for remembering numbers and details.

The president has repeatedly talked about the fact that she doesn’t – ever – write or deliver written speeches. All of her comments are off the cuff, and very often they’re delivered in an entirely ad-hoc manner.

But this approach has its downside.

Fernández has repeatedly made mistakes, given incorrect numbers, fumbled facts and made statements that, in the worst case, offend or, in the best case, seem inappropriate. In some cases, her comments can make her appear ignorant.

Of course, anyone who speaks often in public is bound to make mistakes. Even the best speakers – even Barack Obama – are capable of the occasional gaffe.

But Fernández’s refusal to either write or deliver prepared speeches increases the odds that she’ll make a mistake or say something untoward.

Such was the case Thursday night when, for the first time in her presidency, Fernández visited the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange.
(more…)

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Argentina’s Supreme Court ‘Legalizes’ Marijuana

August 25th, 2009 | 10:19 PM

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HightimesIf Cheech & Chong were here, they’d grab a bong and celebrate.

Argentina’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled unanimously that it is unconstitutional to punish adults for consuming marijuana as long as doing so doesn’t put anyone else at risk.

As the court itself recognized, its decision “implies legalizing the drug.”

But for anyone hoping this would turn Buenos Aires into a kind of Amsterdam 2.0, that’s not going to happen. The court limited the scope of its ruling to low-level private consumption.

That means you shouldn’t expect to see Marijuana Shops popping up alongside regular coffee joints. Anyone interested in buying pot will still have to go underground to do so.

Technically, only Congress can legalize the consumption of drugs, per se, but the court’s move is significant. It strikes down part of an earlier law that arguably allowed for penalties against personal use. Congress could follow the court’s lead and pass legislation formally legalizing personal consumption. (more…)

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Hyperinflation & The $1,000,000 Peso Bill

August 19th, 2009 | 09:14 PM

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Million Pesos Web

50 Grand Web

Wish you had million pesos? You can, and it’ll cost you only a few bucks!

Just head to Viamonte 981, en el microcentro, and you’ll find a coin and stamp collectors shop, where you can become a millionaire in a few minutes.

Argentina’s historic experience with hyperinflation is well known and has been studied by economists around the world.

In July 1988, inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, peaked at 196.5% on a monthly basis, making today’s annoying 1% monthly inflation seem soft and cuddly by comparison. (more…)

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In Wikipedia Wars, Boca Thrashes River

August 16th, 2009 | 08:00 AM

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Boca River

Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia or “general reference work” in the history of humankind. With 13 million articles, it’s by far the largest single source of voluntarily compiled information in the known universe. It’s the best encyclopedia we’ve got. But it’s not always accurate.

Anyone with access to the site can edit its article. That means its entries can fall prey to foul play or just good old, innocuous mischief.

Often the most inaccurate articles are those whose content is most controversial. Good examples include articles whose subjects are passionately disputed like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or even Argentina’s Dirty War. In these cases, critics of one side or the other will login to Wikipedia and edit articles to reflect their particular point of view, often distorting the truth and altering the facts.Boca

But sometimes the distortions are more playful. On Friday night, while writing up a story about the the Kirchner government and soccer, a colleague of mine checked Wikipedia for information about Club Atlético River Plate, one of Argentina’s largest soccer clubs. Here’s what he found in Wikipedia’s article on River Plate:

“River Plate is the rival of the BEST team in Argentina, BOCA JUNIORS. River Plate are known to cry like little Bitches every time they lose. Their fans are also known as the most gay in Argentina. FUCK river, BOCA es lo mas grande que hay!!!”

I’ll leave it up to you to determine the veracity of that statement.

By Saturday afternoon the issue had become a moot point. Wikipedia’s article had already been edited back to normal.

But for a few moments at least on Friday, Boca was ahead, way ahead, thanks to a point scored by one of its fans on the virtual world’s field of truth.

Link: Wikipedia on River
Link: Wikipedia on Boca

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Regional Food Fair Starts Thursday At La Rural

August 13th, 2009 | 08:18 AM

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Sabores

Argentina’s regional food fair, Caminos y Sabores, returns this weekend to La Rural. It’s a great chance to learn about food from across the country and to discover and buy goods from small and mid-sized producers.

This year’s edition, the fifth, will include 300 participants, some of whom belong to Terra Madre (www.terramadre.org), a network of more than  1500 communities from 150 countries. The network aims to rediscover regional food and promote quality production methods that are in harmony with nature.

Among the activities, there will be conferences and cooking demonstrations using tipical products from regions including Patagonia, Cuyo, and Tucuman, as well as Uruguay.

From 6-9pm daily, Terra Madre producers will hold expositions and show films related to the production and enjoyment of regional foods.

There will also be a competition among the participating producers — “experiencias de sabor” –  for extra virgin olive oil, cheese, and dulce de leche.

Hours: Noon until 9pm, Thursday thru Sunday
Entrance: Av. Sarmiento 2704
Cost: 20 pesos
For more information: http://www.caminosysabores.com.ar

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The Cost Of Buying An HDTV In Argentina

August 11th, 2009 | 08:49 PM

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Sony TVFor better or worse, Argentina has never been a good place to buy electronic items.

Shoppers, bargain hunters and antique collectors always find much to love about Argentina’s quality leather items, arts and crafts, jewelry, and outstanding services such as tango lessons and music classes, among other things.

But if you happen to want something, say, like a big HDTV, you’re out of luck.

For decades successive Argentine governments have stymied imports and heavily taxed novel or hi-end consumer goods like cutting-edge TVs based on the supposition that doing so will a) raise revenue and b) induce manufacturers to produce such items here instead of in Brazil, China or South Korea.

Such policies have had limited success, inspiring some companies to assemble similar items here. But for the most part, the effort to keep hi-end products out has done just that. It has kept Argentina’s lower and middle-class families from easily accessing the kind of hi-tech products that have become common in the U.S., Europe and Asia. (more…)

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Classic 1932 Argentina Travel Video

August 9th, 2009 | 06:55 PM

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YouTube Preview Image

Sometimes it’s good to remember – because it’s all too easy to forget – that 70 years ago Argentina was on top of the world. It was one of the richest countries on the planet and was far ahead of its time compared with many of the world’s other nations.

My father, who is 82 and grew up in Texas during the Great Depression, tells me of an expression he used to hear as a boy. He says that when you needed to describe someone as really wealthy, you’d say they were “rich like an Argentine.”

Watching this classic travel video is a like stepping into a time machine and traveling back to the bygone days of Argentina’s glorious past. The images and commentary are stunning. Even back then the world was captivated by Argentina and its people.

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Experts’ Verdict on the Kirchners: ‘They’ve Failed’

August 8th, 2009 | 03:54 PM

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The Kirchners

by Javier Arevalo Rendall

With Argentina’s election still fresh on people’s minds, a group of political analysts met in London recently to discuss the results and their possible impact on Argentina’s future. Their conclusion: “The Kirchners have failed” and “governability is not at stake,” as the Kirchners warned it would be.

Back in March, former president Nestor Kirchner said that in the election Argentines would decide whether “to consolidate governability” or “to take a step back.” He warned apocalyptically that if the government lost its majority in Congress, Argentina would return to the dark days of the 2001-2002 crisis.

But while the government did indeed lose its majority in the election, the country hardly seems on the verge of falling apart. (more…)

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