We have had terrible months in Mexico; I don't know how much has appeared about our country in the international media. The last incidents started on the last days of September, when 43 students at a school for rural teachers were forcefully disappeared (in our Latin American countries, this means they were taken by force and no authority can yet prove whether they are alive or dead; forceful disappearance is one of the saddest and most recognized traits of the brutal military dictatorships South America had in the 1970s) in the Iguala region (Guerrero state, South of the country) and three were killed on site. An Army regiment was stationed few blocks from there and refused to help.
And yes, we live in a country where (incredibly) this news by themselves would not seem so unheard of... But in this case, there is ample evidence they were taken by the local police forces, not by a gang of (assumed) wrongdoers. And they were handed over to a very violent gang afterwards. Several weeks later, with far from a thorough investigation, we were told they were killed, burnt and thrown to a river.
The Iguala city major ran away, and was later captured, but it's not clear why he was captured at two different places. The Guerrero state governor resigned and a new governor was appointed. But this was not the result of a single person behaving far from what their voters would expect — It's a symptom of a broken society where policemen will kill when so ordered, where military personnel will look away when pointed out to the obvious, where the drug dealers have captured vast regions of the country where are stronger than the formal powers.
And then, instead of dealing with the issue personally as everybody would expect, the president goes on a commercial mission to China. Oh, to fix some issues with a building company. That coincidentally or not was selling a super-luxury house to his wife. A house that she, several days later, decided to sell because it was tarnishing her family's honor and image.
And while the president is in China, the person who dealt with the social pressure and told us about the probable (but not proven!) horrible crime where the "bad guys" for some strange and yet unknown reason (even with tens of them captured already) decided to kill and burn and dissolve and disappear 43 future rural teachers presents his version, and finishes his speech saying that "I'm already tired of this topic".
Of course, our University is known for its solidarity with social causes; students in our different schools are the first activists in many protests, and we have had a very tense time as the protests are at home here at the university. This last weekend, supposed policemen entered our main campus with a stupid, unbelievable argument (they were looking for a phone reported as stolen three days earlier), get into an argument with some students, and end up firing shots at the students; one of them was wounded in the leg.
And the university is now almost under siege: There are policemen surrounding us. We are working as usual, and will most likely finish the semester with normality, but the intimidation (in a country where seeing a policeman is practically never a good sign) is strong.
And... Oh, I could go on a lot. Things feel really desperate and out of place.
Today I will join probably tens or hundreds of thousands of Mexicans sick of this simulation, sick of this violence, in a demonstration downtown. What will this achieve? Very little, if anything at all. But we cannot just sit here watching how things go from bad to worse. I do not accept to live in a state of exception.
So, this picture is just right: A bit over a month ago, two dear friends from Guadalajara city came, and we had a nice walk in the University. Our national university is not only huge, it's also beautiful and loaded with sights. And being so close to home, it's our favorite place to go with friends to show around. This is a fragment of the beautiful mural in the Central Library. And, yes, the University stands for "Viva México". And the university stands for "Peace". And we need it all. Desperately.
The following text is not mine. I'm copy-translating a text a dear friend of mine just wrote in Spanish, in Facebook. He writes far better than I do (much better than most people I have known). I am not also a great translator. If you can read Spanish, go read the original.
I hate my country. I want to get the hell out of here. This country stinks.
Phrases that appear in talks between Mexicans since yesterday. On the network and outside of it. And to tell the truth, I would have put them between quotation marks if I had not thought them as well. At some point. Because that is the edtent of the pain. Enuogh to hate, to insult, to give up.
But we talk and write without realizing that it might be the most terrible thing in all this mess. That the pain makes us give up and consent to play a role in the game that they, the executioners, would pleasedly look at from their tribunes, laughing at us while they hand each other the popcorn. That would be over the line. So lets not give them that joy.
Because they surely don't realize we have the obligation to notice it from the very beginning and do something to avoid falling there: The root of the pain they caused us yesterday is because that's how the annihilation of hope feels like.
The shout "Alive they were taken" –they do not realize but we do– is a shout of hope. A pronouncement for the possible goodness in the human being. A testimony of hope in the future. A bet for life. And with his cold address, the federal attorney yesterday wanted to finish the killing of our already aching hope. We cannot grant him that joy.
They say it's the last thing that dies. I'd say it's the only thing that should not die. Ever. It finishes and everything finishes.
There is no possible justice for the parents of the 43. Much less for the 43. Not even however much the official discourse wants to gets us dizzy with the propaganda saying "we will not rest until". Not even if the president quits that would bring back to their classrooms even one of those that by today are just ashes. And sadly, that's the excuse that man wields to not stop boarding his plane and travel wherever he pleases. The farthest from Mexico, the better. Lets not do the same.
Lets remind the world this country is full of us, not of them. That the face of a persn is not the dirtyness on his forehead and cheeks, but the skin that's below, that feels and throbs. Lets show the world Mexico is more the verse than the blood, more the idea than the terror.
And to them...
Lets not give them the joy.
To them, lets make them see that, however hard they try, there are things they will never take from us.
Our love for this country, for example.
The country, over all things.
- Antonio Malpica. After what appears to be the bitter and sadly expected end of a sad, terrible, unbelievable collective social rupture we have lived for ~50 days.
And what comes next? How can it come? How can we expect it? I have no way to answer. We, the country's people, are broken.
Summer is cool in Mexico City.
It is cool because, unlike Spring, this is our rainy season — And rains are very predictable. Almost every day we wake up with a gorgeous, clean, blue sky.
Cool, nice temperature, around 15°C. The sun slowly evaporates the rain throughout the morning; when I go out for lunch, the sky is no longer so blue, giving way to a seemingly dirty white/grayish tint. No, it's not our world-famous pollution: It's just yesterday's rain.
Rain starts falling usually between 4 and 7 PM. Sometimes it starts as a light rain, sometimes it starts with all of its thunder, all of its might. But anyway, almost every night, there is a moment of awe, of not believing how much rain we are getting today.
It slowly fades away during the late night. And when I wake up, early next morning, everything is wet and still smells fresh.
Yes, I love our summer, even though it makes shy away from my much enjoyed cycling to work and school. And I love taking some minutes off work, look through the window of my office (located ~70m over the level of our mostly flat city) and watching how different parts of the city have sun or rain; learning to estimate the distance to the clouds, adding it to the direction and guessing which of my friends have which weather.
But I didn't realize our city had so clearly defined micro-climates... (would they really be *micro*-climates?) In fact, it even goes against my knowledge of Mexico City's logic — I always thought Coyoacán, towards the South of the city, got more rain than the Center and North because we are near the mountains, and the dominant air currents go Southwards, "clumping" the clouds by us.
But no, or at least, not this year. Regina (still in the far South — Far because she's too far away from me and I'm too egocentric; she returns home after DebConf) often asks me about the weather, as our friends working nearer the center of the city. According to the photos they post on their $social_media_of_the_day accounts, rains are really heavier there.
Today I heard on the radio accounts of yesterday's chaos after the rain. This evening, at ESIME-Culhuacán, I saw one of the reported fallen trees (of course, I am not sure if it's from yesterday's rain). And the media pushes galleries of images of a city covered in hail... While in Copilco we only had a regular rain, I'd even say a mild one.
This city is bigger than any cloud you can throw at it.
Only a very short summary in English: I am Mexican. I am Jewish. I am almost completely disconnected from the local Jewish communities. And understanding the local Jewish communities is hard. There is a very interesting and brave campaign, recently started, called Neither do I — The Mexican Jewish gay activist group Guimel, started off with this video (with English subtitles, if you are interested in following along). But how did I learn about this very bold initiative? By getting a hateful spam, inviting people to join a hate campaign. Right, the hate mail is not calling to violence, but it is based on premises as stupid as everybody's right not to include (to begin with).
So, the least I can do about this is to share both said hate mail and publicly denounce my shock on reading this nonsense nowadays. And, also in Spanish (I know many people following me don't understand it — Sorry, it would just take too long, and after all, it's mainly for local "consumption"), this is the reply I sent to them (and to the other recipients). Sorry in advance to the Spanish speakers for my exabrupts :) This was written "as is", without much prior thought, and quite angry about what I had just read.
Buf... Expresiones como esta, que hacen evidente la cerrazón de tanta gente en las comunidades judías, justifican claramente por qué tantos nos hemos ido abriendo, integrándonos a la sociedad circundante. Me da vergüenza ser asociado como judío a comunidades donde se defienden estos puntos de vista; si bien yo no soy de la comunidad Monte Sinai (como resultará obvio por mi nombre), para la sociedad en su conjunto sí soy un judío (así, a secas: Judío).
Mucho nos hemos quejado colectivamente a lo largo de los siglos acerca de la discriminación, de que seamos considerado la "basura" del mundo, los "apestados". Y es precisamente esa actitud, ante todo y en todo momento, lo que me ha llevado a alejarme del judaísmo. Soy un ser humano más, con una historia personal única, con una historia cultural compartida pero también única, con algunas elecciones y algunas características que me son inherentes únicas.
¿Algo de eso no le gusta a alguien? ¿Por motivos racionales o irracionales? No lo puedo ni pienso evitar. Pero el que una comunidad completa sea llamada a ignorar, humillar, alienar a sus hijos, por una estupidez así de anacrónica (en el caso que lo presenta el video al que hacen referencia, y a la gente que valientemente ha conformado Guimel) me parece que simplemente va más allá de toda estupidez.
Piensen bien antes de adherirse a esta campaña de odio. Substituyan la sexualidad por cualquier otra razón en la que somos minoría. ¿No les da asco vivir con un vendedor de telas? ¿Con un judío apestoso?
Y sí, aquí ya estoy yo también dejando ir a esos demonios... que hay que mantener bajo control. Porque somos hombres y mujeres de nuestro siglo, y porque el mundo y las nuevas generaciones merecen nuestro mejor esfuerzo para ir colectivamente destruyendo la estupidez de nuestros ancestros.
Seamos más racionales. Dejemos el odio, dejemos los prejuicios. Aceptemos a los diferentes, porque todos queremos que nos acepten. Porque todos somos diferentes.
Ok, so the day has come: Today begins the much awaited Drupal Camp Mexico City, yay!
For those that cannot make it to Mexico City, I
understand understood1 we would have live streaming of at least one of the rooms, but anyway, talks will be recorded, and will be put online later on.
As for the talks schedule, here you have it. Yes, today my workmate and I will be giving a simple introduction to having a useful basic Drupal install. Today is the tutorials / workshops / BoF / hackathon day, and Thursday and Friday will be the more traditional talks days. Several of the talks on Thursday are grouped under the SymfonyDay track and will refer to the framework that serves as a base for Drupal 8.
Anyway, for the Tweetheads among the readers of this post, I understand information will flow under the #DrupalCampMX tag.
- 1. I cannot find the link to the information, but it might appear later on... /mehopes
We are organizing a DrupalCamp in Mexico City!
As a Drupal user, I have so far attended two DrupalCamps (one in Guadalajara, Mexico, and one in Guatemala, Guatemala). They are –as Free Software conferences usually are– great, informal settings where many like-minded users and developers meet and exchange all kinds of contacts, information, and have a good time.
Torre de Ingeniería
This year, I am a (minor) part of the organizing team. DrupalCamp will be held in Torre de Ingeniería, UNAM — Just by Facultad de Ingeniería, where I teach. A modern, beautiful building in Ciudad Universitaria.
So, who is this for? You can go look at the accepted sessions, you will find there is a lot of ground. Starting from the very introduction to how Drupal is structured and some tips on how to work with it (delivered by yours truly), through workflows for specific needs, to strong development-oriented talks. The talks are structured along four tracks: "Training", "Theming", "Development", "Business" and "SymfonyDay".
Drupal is a fast-evolving Free Software project. Most users are currently using versions 6 and 7, which are as different between each other as day and night... But the upcoming Drupal 8 brings even greater changes. One of the most interesting changes I can see is that Drupal will now be based on a full MVC framework, Symfony. One of the days of our DrupalCamp will be devoted to Symfony (dubbed the Symfony Day).
...And... Again, just look at the list of talks. You will find a great amount of speakers interested in coming here. Not just from Mexico City. Not just from Mexico. Not just from Latin America. I must say I am personally impressed.
Of course, as with any volunteer-run conferences: We are still looking for sponsors. We believe being a DrupalCamp sponsor will greatly increase your brand visibility in the community you want to work with. There are still a lot of expenses to cover to make this into all that we want. And surely, you want to be a part of this great project. There are many sponsor levels — Surely you can be part of it!
For people in Mexico: Workshop next Wednesday! Video editing from the command line (by Chema Serralde, @joseserralde)
(Yes, yes... Maybe I should post in Spanish.. But hey, gotta keep consistecy in my blog!)
General, public, open invitation
Are you in Mexico City, or do you plan to be next Wednesday (December 11)?
Are you interested in video edition? In Free Software?
I will have the pleasure to host at home the great Chema Serralde, a good friend, and a multifacetic guru both in the technical and musical areas. He will present a workshop: Video editing from the command line.
I asked Chema for an outline of his talk, but given he is a busy guy, I will basically translate the introduction he prepared for this same material in FSL Vallarta, held two weeks ago.
With the help of the commandline, you can become a multimedia guru. We will edit a video using just a terminal. This skill will surprise your friends — and your couple.
But the most important is that this knowledge is just an excuse to understand step by step what does a video CODEC mean, what is a FORMAT, and how video and audio editors work; by using this knowledge, you will be able to set the basis for multimedia editing, without the promises and secrets of propietary editors.
How much does my file weigh and why? How to improve a video file's quality? Why cannot I read my camera's information from GNU/Linux?
By the end of this workshop, we well see how some libraries help you develop your first audio and video application, what are their main APIs and uses.
Everybody is welcome to come for free, no questions asked, no fees collected. I can offer coffee for all, but if you want anything else to eat/drink, you are welcome to bring it.
We do require you to reserve and confirm your place (mail me to my usual mail address). We have limited space, and I must set an absolute quota of 10 participants.
Some people hide their address... Mine is quite publicly known: Av. Copilco 233, just by Parque Hugo Margain, on the Northern edge of UNAM (Metro Copilco).
The course starts at 16:00, and lasts... As long as we make it last ;-)
So, that said... See you there! :-D
[update]: Chema sent me the list of topics he plans to cover. Copy/pasting from his mail, in Spanish:
TALLER RELÁMPAGO DE EDICIÓN AUDIOVISUAL EN LÍNEA DE COMANDO
José María Serralde Ruiz, facilitador
- Editando como cavernícola.
- Manipulación básica de archivos multimedia en entornos POSIX.
- Sé un Bash VJ (videojockey)
- Vaciando y entubando
- Editando como científico.
- Encabezados y fourcc
- 3 familias de CODECS de vídeo y sus patentes
- 3 famlias de CODECS de audio y sus patentes
- Muxers, demuxers y muxes.
- Editando como artista.
- Cajas de herramientas en software libre para procesamiento de vídeo.
- Procesamiento en tiempo real de vídeo (el que se crea artista pierde)
- Derritiendo vídeo, audio con calcetines MELT + SOX
(sistemas operativos POSIX, windouseros acercarse con el afán de repensar sus vidas): mplayer, avconv/ffmpeg (libavcodec), melt, sox, imagemagick
As I slowly read my good friends wishing each other a good trip, telling they got home safely, and the IRC channels form thick drops of a bitter-sweet etheral substance, I cannot help feeling DebConf13 is over — For me as well, from the distance. Many friends gave me warm greetings, and without being there, gave me that beautiful feeling of real community that Debian has given me for ten years already, since I met in real-life many of its developers at DebConf3 in Oslo. And –yes, I have stated this far too many times– I have attended every DebConf since (and worked organizing most of them). This year, over 300 people were gathered in Switzerland to enjoy the always most intense weeks of the year.
This year, I was unable to attend due to calendar clashes. Even so, without the stress that organizers have, and thanks to the great work of the always-loved Video Team, I think I was able to be present at more sessions than at in any of the last few years. Oh, and for the readers of this blog who were not there — Do you want to follow what was presented? You can download already the videos for all of the recorded presentations (that were, due to the planned coverage and the manageable size of the Video Team, about ⅔ of the total scheduled sessions). And, as always, I was able to follow many very interesting talks and take part of a couple interesting meetings/BoF sessions. I still have a bit of catchup, partly due to the timezone difference (I was only at one of the sessions during the Swiss morning, at 02:30 local time, the pkg-ruby-extras team BoF).
Anyway... Not being there, I surely was an avid consumer of the photos posted in the DebConf13 gallery, and will surely follow it for some more time as some of you upload your pending material. It was clear from the beginning that, no matter what your definition of consensus is, the chosen venue was beautiful. A beautiful place between the lake and the mountains where our sportiest guys had a very good share of morning runs, cycling sessions, competition sports of different types, outright plain fun for attendees of all sizes and all species...
But, hey, wait! During a chat in the course of DebConf, a friend told me a bit worried that all this beauty and fun might make our dear and very important sponsors they are paying for a geek vacation, is it so? No, not at all. Not by a long stretch. And just looking at those same galleries makes it clear and obvious. After all, it's widely known that Debian is the operating system for the gurus. Simple: It's impossible to have all those geeks without getting amazing work done, in ways that even seem clichés (this last photo had Joey Hess explaining dpkg format version 3.0 (git) ideas, sketched after waking up at 3AM on the first sketching surface available to him). After all, Debian people are famous for their inclination to use any excuse to open their computers and hack away. We can find Debianers hacking in small spaces and also hacking out in the fields. But this time, people were able to hack indoors while enjoying the nature and hack outdoors under a tree. And, yes, one of the things that makes organizing DebConf worth it is, after ≈eleven months having low-bandwidth meetings over IRC, having the opportunity to plan for the next days face to face, in a relaxed but work-full environment.
Anyway, here at home I didn't sit idly just longing over them. How could I? We are just celebrating the Debian Project's 20th anniversary!
http://gwolf.org/content/jonathan-host-and-organizer-rancho-electr-nico">Jonathan, a Debian enthusiast, student at my university, and collaborator for several free software-related collectives in Mexico City, invited me to the celebration at Rancho Electrónico (which I recently mentioned in this same blog). While I was unable to stay for the whole celebration, we had a very good time; I talked about some ways on how to contribute to Debian. Although I didn't have much of a presentation prepared for it, I feel it was successful and interesting for the attendees — I just hope to start seeing some of them get into any of the ways for helping Debian soon. I also stayed as a listener and ocassional commenter for a talk on the Debian Project's history and goals, and to a presentation on a nifty electronic music programming tool called Supercollider (of course, available in Debian).
Now, "regular" life should continue. For some value of "regular".
For all Spanish-speakers that read my blog, specially for the cyclists among you, and most specially for those that dwell in Mexico City's streets: I was recently pointed to a project started inside the Faceboook labrynth by Sandro Cohen, writer and academic: El zen del ciclista urbano.
I met Sandro around twenty years ago. He writes in a very good, simple style. What I didn't know until now is that he has also become an urban cyclism promotor, just as me and many of my friends. In this page he started, he posts snippets on the topic of being an urban cyclist: As of today, he has 44 meditations, each of them a joy to read — And very instructive as well.
Thanks, Sandro, for the great resource!
[update] I always find it... almost funny to read comments by so many people saying they'd rather have a lobotomy than to cycle in Mexico City. Hey! Mexico City is among the best places for cycling! Yes, we have to keep our eyes open and our instincts awake, but... Most of the city's area is flat. Many avenues have wide lanes and span a long distance. And yes, although there are some careless or aggressive drivers, after six years with the joy between my legs I can just say that... things are not as bad as you might imagine. I have very few (thankfully!) bad experiences, and so, so many good ones!
I found the following news item; if you can read Spanish, you will most probably prefer the original version in the Proceso magazine's site. The subject? The federal police (PGR) and army arrest 17 artisans for «making money out of» Spiderman.
The following translation is mine. Done past midnight, and being quite tired, and translated so this news item can reach a broader audience. All errors are mine (except those carried out by the security forces, that is).
June 13, 2013
Cuernavaca, Morelos. Policement from the General Republic Attorney (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) and the Army entered and searched the "3 de mayo" neighbourhood, in the municipality of Emiliano Zapata, detaining 17 ceramist artisans that sold candies, dolls and piñatas shaped like Spiderman.
This search was done on the evening of last Wednesday, around 16:00. Federal ministerial policement and army soldiers closed a street with several informal stores and detained workers taht were selling this Marvel Comics character, following said company's denounce.
As a result for this operation, 17 artisants were detained, although the same day five of them were freed. The policemen also seized 12 bags of candies, piñatas, ceramics and wooden figures of the superhero.
PGR closed down 11 stores where ceramics with this same figure was being sold, accusing the detainees of plagiarizing Spiderman's image, protected under the copyright law.
The 12 that remained under detention were put at the Federal Justice's disposal, which prompted that this Thursday, around 10AM, hundreds of sellers of "3 de mayo" went out to PGR's building to demand their friends' freedom, who are facing a bail of up to 200,000 pesos (~USD$18,000).
Outraged because –they said– they were treated as if they were part of a drug ring, hundreds of artisans closed intermitently Avenida Cuauhnáhuac, where the PGR representation in Morelos state is located.
The artisans' pressure helped for the amount of the bail to be lowered from MX$200,000 to MX$16,000, and so they were set free.
Francisco Fernández Flores, president of the Ceramists Association, criticized the operation because, he said, it was as strong as if they were "drug dealers".
The artisans explained that they don't even make the Spiderman figures, they are made by the interns of the Centro Estatal de Reinserción Social de Atlacholoaya (prision), located in the Xochitepec municipality, who offered them to the ceramists so they could be sold.
"The Atlacholoaya inmates do them, we buy them to support them, and turns out we are the delinquents now", said Miriam Monroy, sister of one of the detainees.
This information was contradicted by Jesús Valencia Valencia, responsible for Morelos' state prision system, who assured that in said prision no ceramics are done.
Fernández Flores insisted though that from within the prision they are being offered piñatas, candies and "piggy banks" with Spiderman's shape.
José Luis Pozo, vicepresident of the Ceramists Union, said that to avoid more such federal operations for copyright breaches, they have committed not to produce or commercialize Marvel superhero figures, and any other characters the authority demands.
"We do commit to, from now on, those products singled out to us will not be commercialized", he said.
Pozo said that the PGR operation caused losses not just to the detained producers and salesmen, but to over 200 ceramists that had to close their stores in solidarity with their friends.
Acording to the artisans, the products were a success until the PGR came, seized the products and detained the salesmen.
And yes, the copyright insanity does not stop. Spiderman is by today a clear part of popular culture. Marvel brilliantly succeeded in creating such a popular icon that everybody recognizes, that everybody identifies with — And that everybody should be able to recreate.
We are not talking about brand protection. Marvel does not, and will never, commercialize piñatas, ceramics or wooden toys. And even if they were plastic-cast — While Spiderman is still under the protection of copyright, as the Berne Convention defines it (and of course, as the much stricter Mexican laws agree), that does not mean that any and every product resembling a Spiderman should be protected. Many ceramists and piñata makers will create unique pieces of art — Ok, handicraft. But reading the copyright law more strictly, Spiderman is more treated as a trademark than as a copyright. And it is a trademark that should be declared as having passed on to the public domain.
Looking for a (small) place to host a Free Software-related meeting, course or similar in Mexico City?
Hey, Mexican hackers!
If anybody is interested in holding a small Free Software-related meeting (say, with up to 10-15 people) in the South of Mexico City, please tell me — We have adapted a nice room at our house where we want to invite people to come and do activities — Courses, meetings, whatever. It is not very big (~5×5 meters), but it has all of the needed amenities (some chairs, a projector, coffee-related amenities, and is very conveniently located). We are not charging for hosting your activities (but will of course want to schedule it beforehand with you).
So, if you have something to teach, or some project to hack on, and want a nice place to do it in, please drop us a line/call.
(hmh, yes, this is one of the posts that should probably be in Spanish — But this blog has a long-standing policy for English content ;-)
May 18, 1928: The first normal school of America was founded in this city. (Note: "normal school" means "school for teachers"
In very short, this is what we did in the course of six days. You can also look at it more closely and with some explanation in Google Maps.