Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How to get away with drink driving Brazilian style

A man takes a breathalyser test as part of the Lei Seca

Anyone who has been in Brazil for more than 5 minutes knows that Brazilians love to find a way to get around a law or a regulation. Back home you might get looked down on for questionable morals but here finding a “jeitinho” is a matter of pride and admiration. São Paulo is no exception and despite being one of the toughest states in clamping down on drink driving, there have been many interesting attempts to get round it.

The obvious one which recently became a more expensive tactic is not to avoid the speed trap or “blitz” as they are known locally but to refuse to take the breathalyzer. The police itself admits they cannot force somebody to effectively testify against themselves and if they don’t have proof of excessive alcohol consumption they are unable to impose prison sanctions. Instead an administrative non-cooperation fine is applied. The toughening up of the Lei Seca (literally the Dry Law) which governs and aims to eradicate drink driving means this strategy is now more expensive and the fine reaches up to R$ 1915,30 (almost 1,000 dollars) rising to twice that if the offence is repeated.

The cheaper and more famous work around is the Twitter account which tweets in real time where a police blitz is. It’s actually a double work around as the account itself doesn’t flag the speed traps, in fact it will claim that it is morally against opposed to it but they will allow other users to tweet speedtrap locations at them. Most major Brazilian cities now have Lei Seca Twitter accounts, the São Paulo one has a self description which reads as “online traffic information about accidents, floodings etc. Don’t drink and drive! Don’t let selective morality beat you.” Quite amusing for a Twitter account with a hashtag which reads LeiSecaSP . The government last year tried to ban these accounts from Twitter but to no avail.

Metadoxil, the supposed breathalyser-proof drug

For those too drunk even to tweet as they drive, a third tactic emerged over the last few weeks. A seemingly simple solution began to appear on social media and soon videos began to appear on youtube claiming that if you take a non-prescription pill called metadoxil you would pass the breathalyzer test even if under the effects of alcohol.  Pharmacy sales of Metadoxil boomed in the pre-carnival period and it is still hard to get hold of in many pharmacies due to demand outstripping supply. Alas, it transpires that it has no effect on alcohol levels in your body nor of your ability to avoid being detected and has little more than placebo value. Placebos however, work only on susceptible minds not on breathalyzers.

The search for the perfect jeitinho continues..

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Michael Najjar's Netropolis; a look at the future of megacities

Michael Najjar Netropolis: São Paulo
São Paulo by Michael Najjar
The interest in how so-called megacities will develop in the future is what fueled Michael Najjar to create Netropolis, an exploration of how informational society is changing our cities as the industrial revolution did in  the nineteenth century. 

The idea behind his art is to reflect the impact of informational density in urban space and he achieves this by overlaying different perspectives and angles of the same city over and over again. The result is fascinating nad disturbing in equal measures. In particular, we see merging cities through an abstract lens which begin to look increasingly similar between themselves. 

Above is São Paulo and below London, Paris and Tokyo

Michael Najjar Netropolis: London
London by Michael Najjar

Michael Najjar Netropolis: Paris
Paris by Michael Najjar

Michael Najjar Netropolis: Shanghai
Tokyo by Michael Najjar

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Corinthians launch a blood-stained replica shirt

Corinthians, the biggest club in São Paulo by some margin, is well known for the 'to the death' loyalty and radicalism of its fan base. Similarly the players perceived to give most for the shirt are the ones that go down as legendarily Corinthiano.

In these stakes few surpass Zé Maria who in 1979 literally bled for the club as he played through a game against Ponte Preta despite a shirt soaked with blood from a facial injury suffered during the game.

Ze maria 1979 blood stained shirt
Zé Maria and his 1979 blood stained shirt
No surprise then that fans with a long memory and longstanding commitment to Corinthians were delighted to see official homage being paid to Zé Maria last week. Bizarrely for anyone without the context, a giant blood stained shirt was unfurled before the game in São Paulo last Wednesday,

Giant version of Ze Maria's blood soaked shirt unveiled in the Pacaembu stadium
And if that wasn't enough it was announced this week that an official Corinthians replica shirt will be created complete with blood stain so fans can wear their very own Camisa Sangrenta and the man who bled for the club can be eternalised or at least his image can be merchandised by the club's marketing department.

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