Friday, May 15, 2009

El Vergatario

In the annals of Dictator Tchotchkes, nothing can equal Hugo Chavez's VERGATARIO the first cell phone produced wholly in the People's Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. As the article below indicates, Chavez's name for the product plays with a slang term for a penis. In the video below, the porcine demagogue shows off his spokesmodel talents, making none-too-subtle puns on size and width as he shows off the tacky little device. He has managed to perform an amazing feat, which is unseating the Glow-in-the-dark plastic busts of Mao as best/worst dictator produced chucheria.

Chavez launches $15 mobile phone with a name to make his mother blush
Venezuelan president predicts the Vergatario will be a bestseller worldwide
Rory Carroll in Caracas, Monday 11 May 2009 17.15 BST
Article history

It is perhaps the world's cheapest mobile phone. It is the latest offering from Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution. And its name is derived from a slang word for penis. Behold the Vergatorio.

Venezuela's president launched the handset on his TV show with a Mother's Day call to his mum and predicted it would conquer all rivals. "This telephone will be the biggest seller not only in Venezuela but the world," he said. "Whoever doesn't have a Vergatario is nothing," he joked.

Priced just $15 (nearly £10), the phone has a camera, WAP internet access, FM radio and MP3 and MP4 players for music and videos. And it has that name.

Why the president chose it remains unclear, but he enunciates each syllable with a grin. Some laugh, others are affronted.

Verga is slang for penis and vergatario is a newly minted word which signifies excellent but retains connotations from its root.

The word verga, and variations of it, are associated with Venezuela's second city, Maracaibo. Residents are famous for swearing and using Spanish verbal constructions uncommon in the rest of Venezuela.

"It's gross. I can't believe they named it something so vulgar," said Leonor Diaz, 52, a cleaner. Others however consider the name playful and harmless.

The newspaper El Universal issued readers a challenge. "Say Vergatario in front of a mirror. Pronounce this obscenity syllable by syllable, slowly, and note the expression on your face."

Chavez, a decade in power, is a shrewd communicator who often uses salty expressions to mark himself out as a man of the people. He called George Bush a "pendejo", a term derived from pubic hair which can be translated as asshole or jerk.

A government subsidy which cut the retail price to a quarter of the manufacturing cost is likely to make the Vergatario an immediate hit. There is a waiting list for the first 10,000 units expected to be released this week.

Production this year has been set at 600,000, rising to 2m in 2011, when the government hopes to export the model to the Caribbean and then further afield.

Parts are imported from China and assembled in a factory in western Venezuela run by a new company, Vetelca, 85% owned by the Venezuelan state and 15% by the Chinese company ZTE.

The government, facing a financial crunch and labour unrest over tumbling oil revenues, said the investment would boost the country's "technological independence".

Chavez turned a segment of his weekly TV show into a promotion. "Has your Vergatorio arrived?" he asked his mother. "This is the first call I've made with my Vergatorio."

Professors Gone Wild

When I named my series of posts on Reality TV "Foucault and You" I never imagined that eventually the worlds would collide, and I would read the following post on Inside Higher Education, discussing that "Wife Swap" is seeking parents who are also philosophers for their show!!!

Ok the last part is making my mind explode, maybe it's because I am still waiting for my espresso to brew, but are they talking about couples where both partners are philosophers? That sounds so frightening. (The concept of two philosophers married to each other is nearly as frightening as two art historians. LoL!)

Despite my Model Minority Tenure-Track Deadline Pressure Reality TV Rationing Policy, I might have to add "Wife Swap" to my list if indeed Professors are added to their repertoire! (right now, I am prioritizing the Real Housewives New Jersey, and my favorite Real Estate Porn, House Hunters International)

Why a Reality TV Show Is Seeking Professors
A few weeks back, several bloggers commented on reports that "Wife Swap," an ABC reality show in which the wives of two families are switched for a week, was seeking philosophers. Kieran Healy wondered which of two ways the show might go: "airy-fairy life of the mind vs huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ " or a contrast of philosophical beliefs, such as "Modal Realists vs Phenomenologists ('I thought you said all the beer was in the effing fridge'); Rawlsians vs Libertarians; or John Emerson goes to live with John Hawthorne." ABC was quiet at the time the rumors appeared, but the network now confirms that it is looking for philosophers -- and will pay $20,000 to those selected. Danielle Gervais, casting producer for the show, said in an interview said that "we thought it would be interesting to find parents who are philosophical" and who bring their philosophical outlook into their role as parents. How might that be evident? Gervais said philosopher parents might teach young children that "we don't believe in things like the tooth fairy" and would encourage children to "really question things" and to "ponder deep things." Gervais said she wasn't sure if the network would swap the wives in two philosophy couples or swap the wife of a philosophy duo with the wife of a non-philosophy duo. But the network wants to have couples where both spouses are philosophers and have similar approaches to raising their children. Several faculty couples have already applied, but interviewing is still going on and more candidates are welcome.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education