McOndo with fries

The BBC reports that the town of Aracataca, birthplace of Gabriel García Márquez, has decided not to rename itself Macondo, the name of the town in Márquez book, Cien años de soledad, and avoided a trap of double irony.

The mayor of Aracataca hoped that renaming the town after Macondo would attract tourists, perhaps not realising the problems of naming your town after a place that, after growing to prominence, very much Declined and Fell.

Moreover, it ignores completely the response to Macondo - McOndo. McOndo was a literary response from the Generación del Crak to the perception of Latin America and the fact that it could only be interpreted through magical realism, as if it could not be a real place, despite the very real problems, just like everywhere else, that the continent faces. The only way, according to McOndo, that people perceive Latin America is as Macondo. While the attempt to increase tourism by renaming your town is understandable, it smacks of accepting orientalism.



Misleading Statistic #147

BBC News reports that "MI5 believes, from polls, that around 400,000 people in the UK are "sympathetic to violent jihad around the world".

Doesn't it sound terrifying? Four hundred thousand people, all of whom readers of a certain newspaper will think are ready to wage bloody war against Merrie England and probably do unspeakable things to old maids cycling through the mist to Communion.

Aside from the problems of polling, push-polling, questions and so on (no methodology published) and the fact that UK intelligence gathering doesn't exactly have an A1 rating, 400,000 should be put in context. There are on the order of 60,000,000 people in the UK. 400,000 is two-thirds of one percent of the population. In other words, despite an illegal war in Iraq, Guantanamo, white phosphorus, Abu Ghraib, Stockwell, Forest Gate, restriction of civil liberties and a cost to the UK of £4.55 billion, 99.3% of people in Britain - say 59,600,000 people - do not support this form of violence.



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