Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Argentina isn't a country . . .

This place sometimes feels like it's one stop before the loony bin. It can be a beautiful brand of crazy. But it can also be challenging.

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Out of 90 airlines sampled, two Argentine carriers ranked 86th and 87th for on-time performance. Their flights adhere to schedule about 25% of the time. It doesn't help that sometimes they don't even take off on the right day.

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There is an absolutely desperate lack of change in this country. Where do all the coins go? Good question. It is a deep mystery and apparently a perennial source of fascination to foreign media. The BBC did a story on this last year. Reuters just did a story on this. And there's a video report here.

As the BBC story points out, it turns you into a liar. Because when you hand over 20 pesos for a purchase of 12.25 and the clerk asks you if you have any change, you lie through your teeth as the jingle of the precious, precious coins in your pocket echoes in your head like the beating of the telltale heart.

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This video report about buying people's votes in the most recent election is a flawed piece of journalism. Why, for example, did these people cooperate with the reporter? It's not explained. Also, the voice-overs in English don't always completely match what the people are saying in Spanish. But I'm inclined to chalk this up to bad editing. There is certainly truth at the heart of this.

People in poor areas were paid to vote for candidates. And what to make of these vote-getters working both sides of the ballot? They collected votes not just for one candidate, but for the opponent as well.

It's like these vote buyers are completely unprincipled!

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Last week, the sidewalk newsstands that sell all of the city's magazines and newspapers closed for a day. Why? To celebrate the National Day of the Newspaper Seller. I am not making this up. Naturally, the newspapers were not thrilled with this, since it meant they would lose a day of sales.

According to this article in La Nación, the usual arrangement is that the newsstand owners pocket about a third of the paper's cover price. To entice them not to close, the newspaper companies offered to let the newsstand owners keep the ENTIRE price of the newspaper, thereby earning them enough money to pay a helper for the day and be able to relax on the National Day of the Newspaper Seller.

The newsstand owners said no thanks and closed up for the day.

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And you've got to love it when two major holidays fall in the same week. Of course, I'm referring to the fact that the day before the National Day of the Newspaper Seller was the National Day of the Banker.

Turns out, the banker and the newspaper seller honor their professions in the same time-tested way: by not showing up for work.

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This all leads up neatly — so neatly you'd swear this blog entry had a point if you didn't know better — to this advertisement for a book promising to unveil the "marvels, oddities, curiosities, and mysteries" of the Argentines.

The best part is the tagline on the cover:

"Argentina isn't a country, it's an adventure."

1 comment:

Sebastian said...

0 Comments on this post? Man this post is great!