Sunday, December 12, 2010

Introduction to Macaé

As some of you may know, I'm now teaching at NUPEM at UFRJ's advanced campus in Macaé, so I'll be writing about this new Brazilian boomtown more in the future. Here's a brief introduction.

Macaé's a bit of an odd bird: a once-sleepy beach town which mostly made its money through ranching and fishing, it's now the primary support port for Brazil's booming off-shore petroleum industry. The city went from under 100,000 inhabitants in 1990 to over 250,000 today, with a regional estimate of 500,000. Actually, however, we don't even have the slightest clue how many people are in Macaé. Uncounted hordes have followed the oil boom and are squatting in hastily erected shanty towns around the region.

To give you an idea of what has happened to the city, here's two pictures of the main beach, a Praia de Imbetiba, before and after the arrival of PETROBRAS:

Macaé is a classic case of Brazil's traditional boom and bust economy in the making, so I'll be chronicling alot about it in upcoming months.  Working here is a bit like working in Manaus during the late 19th century rubber boom probably was. On the one hand, there's unmatched poverty and urban confusion brought on by mass in-migration and consequent growth without attendant urban planning. On the other hand, money often almost literally rains from the heavens. Not a month goes by, for example, but a new builiding springs up from nothing in the off-shore pole where our university is located. These constructions are usually built in that soulless, post-modern big-box style one associates with U.S. suburban developments. Consequently, the best in-a-nutshell description for Macaé is an American highway beltline shopping strip surrounded by a Haitian shanty town.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Missing comments mystery, solved! Oh, and new comments policy...

by Thaddeus

For about three months now, I've been baffled as to where certain comments have gotten to. Stuff that I and other commentators have written has simply vanished into the ether and I've been accused of censoring it.

Needless to say, this is frustrating to me as I'm not at all in favor of censorship.

Well, Blogspot finally solved my issue. Apparently, the missing posts were going directly into Blogspot's newly created spam filter.

Basically, here are the three things that seems to have turned the spam filter on:

1) Multiple postings in a short period of time. Both Mira and I got caught with this one. If you post TOO much during a given day, Spam Filter thinks that you're a bot.

2) Long blocks of text with no punctuation or capitalization and little if any formatting. Spam Filter thinks this is random spam on the order of dick-enhancement ads. Several of the less-literate Anonymi got caught with this one. You know the type: folks who spew on and one for lines at a time with no regards to capitalization or what not.

3) Large blocks of swearing. Again, certain Anonymi got caught here, particularly the guys who spew "motherfucker" and "shit" in every other sentence.

In order to avoid the Spam Filter in the future, I've now turned on the blog moderating option. This means that your comments will not immediately appear when you send them in, but hopefully if they disappear, you will now know why.

Over the following days, we'll be combing through the spam bin in order to see if anything there deserves to be saved. Please note that not everything appears to be IN the spam bin, so your comment may have been lost for good. Also note that if your comment is basically an illiterate rant, we may choose to not publish it in any case. We'll just have to see.

O Mangue's comment editting policy is as follows:

In general, we support anyone's right to write anything as long as our commentators avoid gratuitous dumb-fuckery. "Gratuitous dumb-fuckery" is a state of affairs that will be determined by Ana and I on a case-by-case basis and we'll let you know why your comments have been classified as such if we choose to use our soverign power as censors. If you think you've been unfairly classified as a gratuitous dumbfuck, please give us a rational reason as to why we should rethink our classification and we'll review your arguments.