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The “Twitter Revolution”

Social media meets social unrest in Guatemala Guatemala is in the throes of its most intense political convulsions since a bloody 36-year civil...

Social media meets social unrest in Guatemala

Guatemala is in the throes of its most intense political convulsions since a bloody 36-year civil war ended in 1996. A president accused of assassination by the victim himself, from beyond the grave; government officials accused of corrupt dealings with one of the country's largest banks; thousands marching in the street, week after week, demanding an end to impunity.And in this crisis, online social networks such as Twitter and YouTube have become key, dynamic forces. Some are calling this "the Twitter Revolution."The current crisis was sparked by a viral video: one recorded by attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg four days before he was murdered. The 18-minute testimony begins with the words, "If you are watching this message it is because I have been murdered by President Álvaro Colom." In the video, Rosenberg claimed he would be targeted because he planned to come forward with evidence that Colom's government engaged in drug money laundering and misuse of public funds through a partly state-owned bank.

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Better Living Through Homemade Yogurt

Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin explains how fast people can still enjoy slow food. When the economy took a nosedive, I did the same thing a lot of...

Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin explains how fast people can still enjoy slow food.

When the economy took a nosedive, I did the same thing a lot of other Americans did: I looked at my household expenses and my lifestyle with newly frugal eyes, and began thinking about costs and personal priorities in new ways. That included food.Rethinking what I cook and eat post-econopocalypse meant simpler, slower food; a more local and traditional diet which, in fact, makes good sense in any economic weather. But I live an urban life. I spend a lot of time online or working in short attention bursts. I don't have a lot of time to cook or prepare food, and my city apartment doesn't afford room to raise goats or grow tomatoes. Despite this, I've gradually eased into a number of new rituals and good habits that reduced my grocery bill and make me feel happier and healthier. One of them is making yogurt each week.It takes maybe 20 minutes of actual work and attention, zero equipment beyond stuff I already had in my kitchen, and yields a yummier, healthier, and yes, "probiotic" product that costs five to 10 times less than the store-bought stuff.Here are the basics of rolling your own yogurt the lazy Xeni way. First, choose your starter culture. You can order this online, get it from a fellow slow foodie obsessive, or just do it slacker-style, like me: Buy a small single-serving container of plain yogurt at the corner bodega. Any brand with live Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus cultures will work ($.99 worth of the ubiquitous Dannon does just fine). The instructions that follow are for homemade yogurt with other yogurt as a starter.Next, pick your milk. I use organic 2 percent, but whole milk is even richer. I don't like the more acidic taste or runny texture of yogurt made with lower-fat milks (though you can add dry milk powder to these to compensate). Full-fat soy milk will work if you're vegan, but it forms a more gelatinous "set" than cow or goat milk.Next, heat your fresh milk to 180–190 degrees Fahrenheit, which is right about when it starts to steam and form little bubbles. Heating to this point changes the structure of whey proteins within the milk, and helps ensure a nice consistency. I improvised a double boiler for heating milk like this: Half-fill a large, wide metal pot with water, and set a metal bowl filled with milk in the middle of that pot. Boil the water, and stir the milk in the bowl that floats in that water.When you've scalded the milk, let it cool off to about 110–120 degrees. If you have a thermometer in your kitchen, use it. If you don't (and I still don't), do the "baby bottle" test: dribble a few drops on the inside of your wrist. If it feels really warm but doesn't burn your skin there, it's just right.When you've cooled the milk to this temperature, whisk in (or stir with a spoon-whatever!) two tablespoons of yogurt. This can be the store-bought yogurt, or the last two spoons from your last batch of homemade stuff. I like to thin it down with a bit of the warm milk before I stir it in, to make sure it's evenly distributed.

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Dahomey Diary: Notes from Benin

Xeni Jardin is a co-editor of Boing Boing, and producer of the blog's daily Boing Boing Video program. In March, 2009, she traveled to the...

Xeni Jardin is a co-editor of Boing Boing, and producer of the blog's daily Boing Boing Video program. In March, 2009, she traveled to the West African nation of Benin. Following are excerpts from her travel journal. Longer form video and audio features are planned for future release through Boing Boing Video.

1.

A few days before we left, I looked into a camera and failed to impress a television talent director. "Where do you look to find the future," he asked. Screen test for a tech show pilot. I knew what he meant: what blogs, which super secret hacker mailing lists, whose tweets."Africa," I said.Wrong answer for the casting call. But 30 hours of flights later, we're finally in Cotonou, Benin, and it's true. Every time I'm back in the barely-held-together whirling here, I am closest to the past, and through it, whatever is next.Swarms of zémidjans, screaming moped taxis, clog the streets in the port capital tonight. Facemasked, daredevil drivers swoop up passengers in technicolor African robes, passengers clutching cassava or cellphones or jerrycans of smuggled Nigerian gasoline.We're a few miles away from the slave port which was once the single biggest freight point for America-bound human cargo. And just outside the hotel tonight, old ladies sell fermented corn mush and grilled sugarcane-rat by candlelight, under a baobab tree.Breathing here is like sucking an exhaust pipe. It's the hot hot steam month before rainy season. Mosquitos buzz through that haze, lugging malaria payloads. French-Hausa hiphop blares from the corner bar. Cheap palm wine inside. An amputee beggar boy dances on stumps in the gutter for spare francs.Tomorrow, the long drive north, toward Burkina and Niger, to a dry village where our fixer's father was once king.

2.

Driving is dodging, it's a video game, Grand Theft Togo.We're in a beat-up 1980s Benz with more kilometers on it than the counter can display, on a sometimes-dirt, sometimes-asphalt highway hugging the Togolese border.

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