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Monday, February 22, 2010

On National Stereotypes - The Ugly American

The Origin of The Ugly American

The term “ugly American” derives from the 1958 political novel of the same title by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. “The Ugly American”is fiction based on reality, alluding to Americans losing political presence in Southeast Asia because of their failure to understand local culture.

Very interesting. Most of us non-native English speakers will narrate various instances or various degrees of acquaintanceship with Americans or, better still, with people from the United States.

It couldn't have been any different with this writer who, all along his young life, has come in contact with Americans from virtually all corners of the great U.S. of A. And he has been there, too. So this is a first-hand account.

Drawing from these varied "experiences" he too has reached his conclusions about the natives of the big country to the north including, especially, that to some of them, he owes his ability to write and speak English, plus some of his prized possessions, this, that and the other and, believe it or not, his ability to stop and think before he leaps.

Surely enough, he did get the chance to see all the sides Americans are said to have, or rather, as the article above explains or implies, Americans might display when faced with cultural, geographical, demographic, ethnic, linguistic and quite frankly, anthropological challenges of humanity.

All to his credit, really. He now knows much better and has decided that the best course of action when meeting people is to watch their actions regardless of their ethnic or national origin. People will act constructively when they are in tune with their hearts.

If their hearts are pure and clean, surely what follows is only a reflection of their inherent virtues. Otherwise, what may emerge even when all the filters are on, is only pretense and arrogance and other reproachful acts as we have seen in the news of late.

Amazingly though, this observer of reality cannot but be proud of a close circle of friends, they are Americans by the way, he could not do without. Their friendship is priceless. He cheers for them and guarantees they are in his meditations. So awesome they are there.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Neural Advertising: The Sounds We Can't Resist

Neural Advertising: The Sounds We Can't Resist

From Time Magazine


"If you're like most people, you're way too smart for advertising. You flip right past newspaper ads, never click on ads online and leave the room during TV commercials.

That, at least, is what we tell ourselves. But what we tell ourselves is hooey. Advertising works, which is why, even in hard economic times, Madison Avenue is a $34 billion--a--year business. And if Martin Lindstrom--author of the best seller Buyology and a marketing consultant for FORTUNE 500 companies, including PepsiCo and Disney--is correct, trying to tune this stuff out is about to get a whole lot harder.

Two bits:

Hooey, indeed. It's not only advertising trying ever harder to get us to stop in our tracks and have us dash to the nearest Mall to consume consume consume but there is, we all know, a whole world out there intent on controlling our very thoughts.

Religion. By capitalizing on our fears of the unknown (or known!) and by promising us heaven on earth, religious groups are able to keep us all glued in lethargic stupor.

Remember Jim Jones, Guyana, 18 November, 1978?

Mass suicide leaves 900 dead
The bodies of 914 people, including 276 children, have been found in Guyana in South America. Most of the dead - members of the People's Temple Christian Church - had consumed a soft drink laced with cyanide and sedatives.

Politicians. By capitalizing on our fears of the known (or unknown!) and by promising us heaven on earth, politicians are able to keep us all ensnared by our own desire for change. Does it help any? No, it doesn't. For all they seem to do is to cater to financial interests and, forbid our cynicism, stashing money in their underwear. At least they they do precisely so here in our half of the Hemisphere.

Remember so-and-so (add your own name favorite pollie)? - No link here because we do not want to enrage vested interests.

The Culture Industry. By keeping us glooed to TV sets and forcing us to consume excremental content offered by the latest Frankesteinish personality - for they draw from various sources - and very frequently ramming down our throats their brand of pop culture, we are left with nowhere to go but Mars. That is, once and if it is ever terraformed and able to support life, we will not be getting away from their "maleficious" (just made this one up) influence...

Right, we can cherry-pick this or that "product" and then pretend that, yes, we have heard or seen that song or movie...

Here's a high-brow link for you, if you care..

Now, will you stop before you say more than you should. Pity they're doing away with Ugly Betty. I did so sympathize with her.

I'll read Dracula instead.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Pain of Being Born in the Wrong Body

This article originally written in Portuguese is by far the most popular. This isn't obviously an easy subject to write about. Do please leave your intelligent and helpful comments so that we can research further into this heartbreaking story.

"A transsexual's life is very hard. The difficulty is there from the moment we are born. When we start growing up and learning about things it starts to get tricky. Ever since I was a kid, I thought I was a girl. I had this sensation and it was a natural thing to have. Maybe there is a reason, because I am the youngest of three women. Some people used to believe that it was because of that. Thing is, when I grew up, and became a teenager, I started to notice my sexuality.” Vivian Proença

“It’s tough. Everyone goes through prejudice, the lessening of their condition. It was only through hard fights, even with myself, that I was able to find out who I really was. In the beginning, you are born and you get that doubt: who am I? What am I? What am I doing here? When you start to understand you begin the search. When I started to see myself as a transsexual, when I got the chance, I looked for the ideal treatment which was surgery. I had to wait for three years. Up until January 2002 when I underwent surgery…
Fernanda Rodrigues

I am a post-op transsexual. Ever since I was a child I dreamed of becoming a woman, not only in essence but in body as well, to be one. I grew up with cravings and feelings of a woman, but with something that did not get in the way of my relationships… I had always been frustrated because of something that bothered me a lot. It was shameful to have something I did not like. I would never go to the swimming-pool. I was very repressed.Roberta Sampaio

The statements above are the gist of the suffering those born with Gender Identity Disorder, also known as transsexualism, go through. People born with this condition will only find peace of mind only after undergoing a difficult, painful and risky surgery to reassign their gender. The biggest challenge is to turn a penis into a working vagina and one that looks like a real one.

According to Psychiatrist Maria Lobato, member of the multidisciplinary team of the Programa de Atendimento dos Transtornos de Identidade de Gênero (PROTIG) – Program for the Care of Gender Identity Disorders (PCGID)- at the Hospital de Clínicas in Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil: “The alteration of male genitalia, which is irrevocable, cannot be made under the slightest sign of discomfort. The patient's request for sex-reassignment surgery must be shown to be genuine and surgeons have to make sure they are not just dealing with the erotic imaginations of an immature personality, but with a long-thought-of conviction that this is a real gender disorder."

That’s why a psychiatric evaluation has to come before such surgeries to preclude the existence of a psychosis – which may be a contraindication to surgery, but also a reasonable degree of intelligence and emotional stability must be present if the person is to be illegible for surgery. “It’s the psychiatrist who has the final say and there is no other way of helping the patient to find acceptance," the psychiatrist says.

Science says that transsexualism is a gender identity disorder that begins in infancy and is characterized by non-acceptance and distress towards the gender individuals are born with, occurring more often in males than in females. Frequently, transsexuals wish to change their sex and live with a permanent search for games, clothing, and patterns of relationship and occupation with people of the opposite sex.

Transsexualism must be set apart from other disorders of sexual identity such as travestism or homosexuality: transvestites wear clothes of the opposite sex, associated with either bisexual or homosexual behavior without the wish to change their sex; however, homosexuality involves sexual attraction to same sex individuals, without the wish to dress or become the opposite sex.

Both transsexuals and their families experience great difficulties within their family as in society at large due to the prejudice and disinformation about transsexualism. “Patients usually find it difficult to adapt in the social milieu, schools and the workplace for example”, says psychologist Jaqueline Salvador also a member of the team at the Hospital de Clínicas in Porto Alegre.

“The transsexual person believes he or she is a victim of a biological accident, cruelly trapped in the wrong body, incompatible with their sexual orientation. Many ask for sex-reassignment surgery despite the difficulties these imply. Surgery will only be justified in very motivated individuals with a stable social and professional life,” continues the psychologist.

Jaqueline Salvador says that there is an ever increasing demand for sex-reassignment surgery due to a decision by the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) from September 1997, in Brazil, which authorizes transgenitalization, or sex change, in transsexuals on an experimental basis. The Hospital de Clínicas of Porto Alegre is in charge of about 200 patients with gender identity disorder of both sexes.

According to the psychologist, “the requirement for the candidates for surgery is that the patients have to undergo a strict evaluation by the multidisciplinary team which includes behavioral, social, clinical and existential issues performed by psychiatrists, plastic surgeons, psychologist, endocrinologists, ear, nose and throat specialists, speech therapists and social workers".

Multidisciplinarity is especially necessary in the way surgery for sex-reassignment is performed. The main requirements are at least two years of therapy, and more: proof of age, older than 21, formal consent, absence of mental disorders and inappropriate physical features that may impact the surgery. The psychologist evaluates the transsexual candidate to make sure he or she is not just a homosexual or a transvestite.

Patients are expected to undergo therapy for two years and are made aware of the pre and post-op processes and resocialized within psychological, professional and sexual criteria. The diagnosis has to be precise, thus defining the interventions which are suitable to the patient’s personal characteristics with the sole aim of adapting the biological sex to the psychological one.

“The transsexual patient undergoes a great deal of distress before the sex-reassignment surgery. He or she will only get over their misery after the conversion and the taking on of either female or male identity, be that in name, behavior or social acceptance. It’s not only the frustrated sexuality, but the gnawing pain of being gender-discordant which makes, especially males, prone to self-mutilation, suicide attempt or outright suicide.

The false relief that comes from alcohol and drugs is a frequent complication”, writes Harry Benjamin in his book the The Transsexual Phenomenon, available on the internet: “Self-mutilations are not rare in at least four of my patients out of a 112 male transsexuals. Two of them tried to castrate themselves out of a total of 152 males. Two of them tried to castrate themselves but had to give up and call a doctor. One of them did with the help of a friend. One of them mutilated his penis and had several stitches to repair the damage.

"Many incidents like this may be out there,” Harry Benjamin writes. That, in the United States. It may be happening all over the world, as it did in Brazil, with the case of a young transsexual who mutilated himself in a hotel room in a small town then dying as a consequence.

Dr. Carlos Abib Cury, chief-coordinator of the Surgical Specialties Department at the São José do Rio Preto Medical School in São Paulo, writes in an-e-mail interview that there is nothing proven about the cause of transsexualism: “Just like other anxiety states, despite the great breakthroughs, medicine is still falling behind in many areas. There is a lot of controversy as to the real number of genes in the human body." he says, and then "It used to be thought they were around 1 million in the beginning, then they thought it would be around 30 thousand. Today it is speculated that it is around 21 thousand."

Further in the interview, he says that “when they find out the real number of genes, they will study the link each gene has for organic diseases and see whether there is a link with genetics." He mentions still that "Only then will they study behavioral diseases. Until that is clear, everything is a question of hypotheses, theories, suppositions without scientific evidence. Therefore for every 40 thousandth birth, one transsexual male is born and for every 1 millionth woman, one is born transsexual.”

In Transsexual..., Harry Benjamin writes that “the cause of transsexualism and the possible sources from which the wish to change one’s sexuality comes from are probably controversial” there is a trend in scientific investigation that takes into account more than merely psychological aspects.

The possible origin of transsexualism is not discussed in medical literature very frequently or in detail. Most times, it is affirmed that it has an unknown cause. Invariably, it is linked with travestism and sometimes to homosexuality, both opening doors to controversy. Both the main theories, to date, are concerned with organic causes, that is, biological - not necessarily inherited. Or more frequently, with the purely psychological ones.”

Obviously, transsexuals are not able to serve in the Church, Catholic that is, the Vatican demands the expulsion from their orders of those who have undergone sex change. Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, has signed a document eliminating any possibility of transsexuals having religious jobs in ecclesiastical orders. Still, according to the text, priests are not allowed to alter Certificates of Baptism to accommodate them to the sex change.

The position of the Holy See about the subject means that the Church has already experienced cases of transsexuality amongst its ranks. “Due to the complexity of the matter, everyone is asked to keep this letter and the Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under strict secrecy and that it should be used exclusively within its institute or religious society, with the proper aim in mind", emphasizes the document which goes on with yet more instructions for the various societies of the Church.

Because the Brazilian Penal Code is from the 1940's and the studies and techniques used in medicine are very recent, there has not been a change in legislation. There is not a law or ruling for the legalization of the surgery from a legal view point, which is detrimental to the transsexual when trying to sort out their papers. There is, however, in the legal profession, people who are specialized in the matter and who have earned preliminary verdicts favorable to post-op transsexuals.

Once all the legal procedures are surpassed, society has the final say. Cases of transsexuals who are fully integrated are very rare. Most times, the contradiction of the physical appearance and the name registered officially closes doors professionally. That is why, for many men and women who have managed to change their appearance "stolen by nature", the only way out is prostitution or, in the best of cases, the entertainment world.

Only a minority will get a satisfactory job and have a love life. Dr. Carlos Abib Cury notices that “most of the post-op cases display euphoria, elation, which we consider harmful, once life’s difficulties go on despite the sex change. No Prince Charming will turn up and change the life of a transsexual. On the contrary, free from the shackles, he or she will have to work just as hard as the next person," he concludes.

What about the women from the beginning of the story?

I was in hospital for 8 days when I got the operation. It was painful and the time to recuperate was slow. The sense of freedom you have after the surgery is difficult to explain. The dream of a female transsexual is to be operated on. Medicine and science are advanced and they managed to make a dream come true. I feel complete physically. I am proud of being a post-op transsexual because I know how much I struggled to bring awareness to people. The surgery was a great victory. I accept myself. Despite undergoing two other repair surgeries, I do not feel sad. I believe that when I get my papers in order I am going to be more complete and live life better and better." Vivian Proença

After the surgery, I did not have to hide. The anticipation is better than before. Life changes. I was full of prejudice. There were things I would not do. Then I got that and everything gets easier. I got to change my life 360 degrees. Of course you will never reach perfection. I used to say that before the surgery I was on parole, after it, I got freedom. I used to live in a cocoon. Now I am a butterfly. Words cannot Express what I feel.” Fernanda Rodrigues

Today, seven years after the surgery , I'm the happiest person in the world because I'm the body, the soul and the mind of a woman. My biggest pleasure was to feel orgasm and be penetrated. Reaching orgasm is very good. I can say I am very happy.” Amanda Sampaio

Update: Jaqueline Salvador, psychologist at the Hospital de Clinicas updates the numbers by saying "80 out of 243 patients have undergone sex-reassignment surgery." September 2009.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daylight Saving Time ends Feb. 21 in Brazil

Daylight Savings Time ends Feb. 21 in Brazil

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From Digital Journal

"Due to a presidential decree in 2008, DST is to have fixed dates for the beginning and end of the period. The time change is to occur every third Sunday of the month of October until the third Sunday of February. If the ending date coincides with Carnival, DST is to be moved to the next Sunday of the month."

Phew! Good Riddance DST. For those of us who hate the subtracted hour from our eight-hour beauty program, the return to the usual time is a big boon.

Of course, there are those who will say that DST promotes all sorts of good things including economising energy. Well, we agree. However, nowhere is it written that we should like it just because people up in the corridors of power decide that there must be DST here in our neck of the planet.

At least now, as the snippet describes, there is a presidential decree saying when to start and when to finish the tampering with almighty Chronus. Great, we say. We can now brace for it psychologically and stock up on a surplus of good-will to live through the next time shift later this year.

Good news for some of our readers in the Northern Hemisphere who are experiencing teeth-shattering cold and snow, for when this happens our Summer is past its peak, and Autumn is just around the corner meaning Spring is about to show Herself clothed in multicolored garments north of the Rio Grande.

Pass me those cucumber slices, please.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On Violence in Rio de Janeiro

What should be done about it?

More than what is being done. Actually, if Rio wants to keep their touristy dollars they should really wake up and smell the coffee.

When foreign or national visitors are attacked in Rio as was the example with this writer who was pick-pocketed last November when attending the Gay Pride Parade, it is sheer anguish. Luckily, the wallet was found five minutes later lying a few feet from where he was attacked, albeit without his hard-earned cash. What a relief!

Shame as well. Anguish for knowing that despite all their best efforts in Rio to safeguard tourists from being mugged, it all goes down the drain. What to do short of squad-firing all the muggers? That would not do, at all. For the minute you got rid of this dozen, there will be another dozen crawling down the hills in search of easy cash for heavens know what…

Shame for having friends who come and visit regularly and to have to tell them to never flaunt their cams and other expensive gadgets in public; to never stay out late; to have to tell them that those kids they see living under bridges and parks in rags, sniffing glue, or worse still, doing crack, are just part of the problem and that they come from centuries of neglect.

Embarrassed to read in the press that yet another tourist has been hurt in a stick-up and has had to undergo surgery in a well-known hospital. Pained to learn of the unknown and yet unclaimed nine-year-old girl who was raped and strangled post-carnival on Monday at the Flamengo embankment.

More permanent solutions like untold hours of awareness programs and education to seep down into all levels of society is called for: from the rich in the south side to the dirt poor inhabiting the hills that only their concerted efforts and proactive stance will bring down the horrible statistics.

Also, it would behoove us to warn tourists to be extra-careful and not to get too carried-away with the local atmosphere and dash to unsafe areas…no matter what. Use your good sense and try to limit your visits to the well-known and safe areas. It is worthwhile. Rio is beautiful. There is a lot do and make.

Are we on the same page?

Haiti: What to Do with a Nation of Amputees

Haiti: What to Do with a Nation of Amputees

From Time Magazine

"...'People are going to think I'm a freak. I wanted to be an electrical engineer. How will I ever get a job now?'"

"...Still, even Mary is more sanguine about change, given that victims like him and Boulevard are now far less alone in Haiti. "People will be forced to think about it," he says. Mary was one of only five among 16 engineering students in his classroom who survived when the quake sent their five-story university building crashing down on them. But he also realizes that many postquake amputees like himself are educated — and that they can be part of the solution, perhaps as prosthetic designers. "I know that I can still be a good electrical engineer," Mary admits. And Haiti can't afford to ostracize any engineers right now."

One cent:

Sanguine, indeed. Imagine that, just when we think we have read everything under the sun, there comes yet another blow to our lethargic routines. Never did we think that there was opprobrium to be heaped on the disabled in the earth-shaken nation.

Not so strangely though, dear writer, have you not noticed that only recently in your country, Brazil, changes are being incorporated to accommodate the needs of the wheelchair-bound? Hopefully, we will get to a point where they are driven about by those snazzy vehicles we often see in the United States where the well-off, physically handicapped can be as independent as they can possibly wish.

Meanwhile, in tropical lanes and byways, they will have to do with giving themselves and "arm forward" for they are far from that dream. It's a beginning, however.

Now, in the country mentioned in this article, where we imagine things aren't quite as "developed" for want of a better word, it's understandable that people should despair and be at a loss, literally, for their future.

Again, sounds horrible to say so, but tragedies have their day in court and who knows they might teach a collective lesson and people might just as well regard their fellow Human Beings with more compassion and long-suffering now that the cataclysm has rammed these bitter pills down their throats.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We Are The World 25 For Haiti - Official Video

At this point in time, we pause to join this dazzling array of talent in singing tribute to the victims of the Haitian earthquake. An impressive line-up. We understand the whole Industry wanted to be there according to Lionel Ritchie in an interview on CNN.

Let us all keep our fingers crossed and wish fervently that all the efforts being made to help that beleaguered nation bear fruit and that the people, so much in need, are able to pick themselves up and build a great and brighter future, for their present is unacceptable.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Missionary Baby-Lift Case: The View from Haiti's Streets

The Missionary Baby-Lift Case: The View from Haiti's Streets

From Time Magazine

"The Haitian judicial system seems to be in agreement. On Thursday, the Haitian judge investigating the case said the Americans should be released from jail but must remain in the country pending a final verdict. The 10 Baptist missionaries from Idaho were arrested on Jan. 29 after trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border to the Dominican Republic without legal documentation. The American women have denied that their actions had anything to do with child trafficking."

A month after the cataclysmic event in an already fragile land where people were already inured to the daily task of eking out a living, we agree that the situation in Haiti is perilous for the children stuck in this judicial tangle. It is truly a day of mourning.

We also understand that for security reasons the defendants' faces are covered when carted to and from the court grounds. Locals do not enjoy such treatment. They are banged on the head instead. What's a bang?

And yet, the children were literally being "lifted" without legal documentation which in itself is deplorable. Much has been said about this.

What is apparent is that Haitian parents out of desperation and perhaps lack of knowledge envisage a great future for their kids in the hands of foreigners - missionaries.

Supposing, just in our wild imaginations, one or two of these, no, four of these kids made it out of the country and found themselves living in say Montgomery, Alabama, who is to say they are going to have a bright future?

Alabama? Yes, we have just been thinking that the children when finally settled would still find a number of challenges in their new bountiful, pardon, beautiful existence. All of those, nameless...

Surely, I would not mind handing over my offspring to, say, The Pitts, the Jolies or the Ciccones for I would know before hand where they would be landing into (hopefully!). Now, a bunch of good-intentioned and yet "flawed" bible-thumpers and the like. Oh, would I knot be perpetuating a vicious cycle I am so hard trying to get rid of?

Why am I worrying? Rambling disconnectedly?

Maybe at this juncture, working with the government as the guest in the CNN video is saying is the best thing to do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Her Party: The Brilliance of Sarah Palin

It's Her Party: The Brilliance of Sarah Palin

From: Time Magazine

Will she be the next American prez? Knock wood!

One is led to think quite cynically that the person in epigraph is yet another attempt by the Establishment, in this case in the country to the north, to hijack the Debate and have the masses take to the streets abuzz in chatter and soundless substance.

We all know that when it comes to Money, the Economy, and Gimme-more-you-bastard kind of mentality, the great U.S of A trumps all others. Give us a break!

It is a sound fact that the money is in the hands of the oligarchy and that what they call Joe and Joanne Doe are left with nothing but mortgages and maxed-out credit cards and heart disease. You betcha.

In the nation to the north on our side of the pond, people are made to consume twenty four seven and if you're not careful, in-between. You can count on your fingers those who have given up trying to keep up with the Joneses.

In our case, further to the south, when we use our beloved credit cards, where do you think the money we pay in goes to? Or that tithe you pay in that church? Excuse me, you are being far too hard on them. Do they not return the funds in the form of help and charity and this that and the other for you people?

BS! Period. We are slaves to the machine. It is all money that talks and we cannot do the walk if we don't have it. Is that good for you? Now if you happen to believe that all I am saying is nothing but inspired drivel, I would suggest you wake up and smell the coffee. Brazilian coffee. To die for.

ol⋅i⋅gar⋅chy  /ˈɒlɪˌgɑrki/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ol-i-gahr-kee] Show IPA
–noun, plural -chies. 1. a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
2. a state or organization so ruled.
3. the persons or class so ruling.


1570–80; < ML oligarchia < Gk oligarchía. See olig-, -archy Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.
Cite This Source |Link To oligarchy

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is Seven Too Young For Sexy Carnival Queen?

Is Seven Too Young For Sexy Carnival Queen?

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From: Digital Journal

Two cents:

Oh dear, it depends on whom you ask. We are adamantly opposed to the suggestion that the child should be Queen of the Drum Corps even she can beat the seasonedest of samba dancers.

The impression we have is that the parents of this talented child have set their sights higher, to a place in the future in which the little girl is featured in magazine covers and paraded, literally, on TV screens.

Most objectionable. Let children be children and when this little kid reaches adulthood, we will not be throwing a spanner in the works of her carnival plans.

We all have read and watched on TV how challenging life can be for those immersed in the Cultural Industry. And when they are not firmly grounded on a sound foundation, it is exclusively daunting.

Meanwhile, we are of the idea that the child's innocence should be preserved and that the parents should put their plans in the freezer for the time being or, better still, for at least another 11 years!

Say what you will, think what you will. A child is a child is a child. Surely, more enlightened souls are on top of the case and will do everything in their power to put the kibosh on the senseless plans of whoever it is might be behind this inanity.

Do you not agree?

Celebs, Stardom, Chemicals - When It All Goes Bad

When celebrities and their ills are the day's headlines and when they die on account of the chemical concoctions that they take having the opposite effect. Really sad.

Bewildering even. We do not know what possesses a famous pop rock movie star to consume chemical elements out of bottles and then pass out in their bathrooms or bedrooms to never come back to life. Chemicals for thought.

The Cultural Industry and its products take their toll on their purveyors and the difficulty of dealing with the accolades/notoriety that come with it must be a daunting task.

Stars should be careful when treading that path. Perhaps they should take time to acclimate with their surroundings and try to ground themselves a bit more firmly in order to lead a more sedate existence, possibly free of the noisome prerogatives that come with stardom. It need not be that way.

We know there are those who have reached the heights of fame and lead prosperous, thriving and HEALTHY lives. Just because you have had public approval for your talents that is not a free ticket for your own self-destruction.

Scarier still is when physicians get in the fray and stand accused of providing heavy-duty meds for their patients. A strict no-no. Doctors should know better than that. No matter what you are promised - an island on which you can be the governor of as Sancho Panza in Cervantes' Don Quixote - or what not.

As we have seen recently in the news the outcome is not kosher. Being caught red-handed and with your pants down is not pretty. Ideally, we would all try to act a bit more responsibly and simply slap our patients' wrists if they stomp the floor or bang the door behind them. Your PEACE OF MIND is priceless.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Role for Same-sex Attraction Revealed. Is that so?

Definitions first:

The Samoan word fa'afafine literally translates as 'in the manner of a woman'. Fa'afafine are biological males who express feminine gender identities in a range of ways.

From: Redefining Fa'afafine: Western Discourses and the Construction of Transgenderism in Samoa, by Johanna Schmidt

Now to The Times of India - a must read.


"While homosexual individuals do not directly pass on their genes to successive generations by having children, they indirectly spread their genes through their families..."

...Past research has also shown that the fa'afafine are much more altruistically inclined toward their nieces and nephews than either Samoan women or heterosexual men. They are willing to babysit a lot, tutor their nieces and nephews in art and music, and help out financially-paying for medical care and education and so forth. "

My bit:

Excellent. While I do not see myself as a fa'afafine, I am "much more altruistically inclined toward my nieces and nephews" like the snippet above describes. I babysit for my sister. I really do. I hate the housework, the cooking and the chores Samoan third-sexers are used to doing. I often employ outside help.

However, I find this study a bit flawed in that the authors chose a small island in the Pacific to explain a more than complicated subject. They cannot possibly explicate homossexual behavior/roles here in the Western Hemisphere especially because our nieces and nephews tend to be very well cared for materially. Granted that in Latin America, well-off, childless uncles and aunts will help their next of kin. It may not be the same in the U.S. or Canada.

Now trickier still is how we may be subconsciously trying to pass on our genes. I do not envisage myself telling my brother to please breed while I simply tell him to put the brakes on the baby-making machine whenever I can. It is a bad, bad world out there.

Perhaps the authors of the study would consider studying queer demographics in New York, London, Paris, Berlin and Buenos Aires to see if they their theory holds water. Other than that, I find the article to be just a tweak in the queer universe. Or shall I say "multiverse"?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When White Defines the Agenda

The Oscars around the corner and all the actors and actresses rushing to get their très chic outfits for the event, booking sessions in salons and spas in their more immediate environment, Hollywood, and with Vanity Fair ALL WHITE line-up for the next decade, there is very little to say.

Here we are mirroring a recent article in the Guardian written by Hanna Pool, which we have shared on Facebook with the following:

"Are you from Mars, Hanna? Hollywood is known by all and sundry to "anglo-saxonize" everyone in their products. with the odd Black Princess every ONCE in a just sort set things 'straight'...and all"

Is not that the plainest truth? Granted that, every now and then, black actors will have their day gracing the covers of glossy magazines and that, fortunately, they have gone past their "token" roles. Do you remember those takes where they used to show black faces in the background? They might be a thing of the past. Or are they?

"Bearing in mind it takes an army of people to put a Vanity Fair cover shoot together, this leaves us with two conclusions. Either no one noticed that their "stars of the next decade" cover effectively says there isn't a ­single up-and-coming black actor on the planet they considered worthy of ruining the aesthetic of their alabaster line-up, or they did notice but simply didn't care. I'm not sure which is worse."

Neither am I. However, it takes one half-way, in-between mutt in the skin-colour spectrum, like this writer to raise hell, rather, awareness and tell those people that publish glossy magazines:


Should my blood pressure peak, I know just whom/what to blame.

A Little Bit About Where I Come From

A work in progress, I'm totally aware of who (and whatever) is around me, I'm cool, practical and a bit of an air-head sometimes. Luckily, I tend to get back on track quickly . I think of myself as being charming with a winsome smile, that is, when I'm happy. I've been there and done that. I have seen so many places.

I love reading, travelling and meeting interesting people. Quick-learner, I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting things to do and make. Some, I end up doing (and making!) some, I don't.

That is a politically correct introduction of me. As every human being who has reached his or her forties, I have been through a lot. I have had my share of suffering and hurting, heartache and pain. And happiness.

I love reading about Spirituality and practice moments of quietness. I hope to get a Master's in English Literature. I place a lot of stock in good living based on the right choices. Moderation is my motto.

I live in Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, South America. RS is further down on the map neighboring Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. We are Gaúchos. The pampas cowboys. Interesting to note that before Positivism, we used to be cattle rustlers and all that the monarchies (Spain, Portugal) did not like. The Republic brought order and progress and ourselves. A new people.

Brazil, as you know from Carnaval and Soccer, (Mulattas and Mulattoes) is a powerhouse – full of possibilities and potential. Our contrasting society where you see people with billions and people with nothing is warm and open to new ideas. It is a pity that our education is not A1. Don’t be mistaken: it is a small minority of people who can write and speak in a foreign language like I do. I have applied myself and walked the extra mile. Literally, went places.

Now don’t be fooled. When you see photos in some sites that show Brazilian women with their behinds in evidence they in no way depict the Brazilian society I know. Or my girlfriends. Some women have reached the heights of power and they deplore the image of Brazilian women that is sold abroad. In some countries in Europe, Brazilian women are seen as less than they deserve. Not that there aren’t Brazilian women who, perhaps led by necessity, engage in work some of us might frown upon. I'm aware that they may have a role to play.

Additionally, I should be quick to point out that yes, you will have a good time when you set foot in the warmer parts of this vast country if you heed my advice: do not ever be caught “red-handed” or with your "pants-down”. We are known to be slow with Justice. Believe-me, if you are caught, you will go down with a bang. Clang! Gay or straight. Younger than eighteen? Forget it!

Okay with the above? Great! Come and see us. And have a good time.

Isn't it beautiful?

On Violence Against Gays

Homophobic attacks are not mythological. They are real and they they happen every day in big cities and in small ones all over the world.

In Brazil, they are alarmingly common. According to one official in Rio de Janeiro, Cláudio Nascimento, over the last decade, 3 thousand homosexuals have been murdered and 64% of them have been victims of violence and that includes gay men and women, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals.

Many countries around the world have their hands dirty with the blood of people who have been killed simply because they are not the conventional mold. What is conventional? Does anybody know?

Art: Fabiano Spadari

Friday, February 5, 2010

Haiti's Baby Lift: Save the Children, Don't Just Take Them

Haiti's Baby Lift: Save the Children, Don't Just Take Them


"Given how historically lax Haiti has been about legal protections for children, that was a welcome move. So, many believe, was bringing charges against the missionaries. It might get more foreigners to recognize that perhaps the best way to help Haiti's children isn't by plucking them out of their country but by helping to rebuild it so they'll have a safer place to grow up in; and it might prod more Haitians to recognize how wrong their own indifference to child-trafficking is. Many of the children found in the New Life bus have since been reunited with their families — and back in a battered country that may now feel a stronger commitment to shielding them."

Vox populi:

Lovely text by Tim Padgett over at TIME.

Since we are not there and most of what we write we write with an armchair perspective, the story above caused a little bit of trepidation when we read about the restavek phenomenon in Haiti.

Now if I am going to breed children to rester avec (stay with) other people for the sole purpose of drudgery and the gods know what else, then I am liable to be reprimanded on the strongest possible terms for allowing that to happen.

People in fragile situations and environments have to be taught, and here the professorial tone seems censurable, that it is absolutely okay for us to engage in sexual relations and derive all the prerogatives of such acts but we have to do it with the awareness that most frequently we will be bringing another soul into this world.

Bringing another child into this world, we all know, is a lot of responsibility, hard work and perhaps self-abnegation. Parents out there will agree with us.

How do we go about explaining and touching upon this super ultra mega hyper subject without treading on other people's toes? We most definitely will, for sure.

Suggestions on how to promote birth control in nations to the South are fraught with risks. We all know that. Risks coming from all quarters. We need knot mention them

We need not look any farther than our own backyard, Latin America, to observe that the Restavek wave, albeit in a different exoskeleton, but with the same ultimate purpose, plagues our streets and shantytowns. We send our offspring out to beg for alms risking their lives in busy intersections. Or we send them out to live under bridges in most unsanitary conditions. It is painful to watch them sniffling glue.

Perhaps the time is ripe for us to get up and do the walking, for our talking and endless meetings at the United Nations have so far, we all know, done very trickly little to put the kibosh on this more than inhumane practice. It is simply heartbreaking.

Do you have the answer?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Britain’s human rights policies violate natural law, Pope says -Times Online

Britain’s human rights policies violate natural law, Pope says -Times Online

The Vatican condemned Britain’s proposed equality law yesterday, complaining that legislation to give homosexual equal rights “violates natural law”.


Here we go again. Religion trying to poke its tentacles into every nook and cranny of civilized life. To no avail. For what we know of the British and the predictions for religion in Albion, what lies ahead is a long long long road for the priests to try to win the debate.

Luckily, people in the Western hemisphere are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee and the issue of equality is fast gaining ground and attaining goals. Check the latest opinion polls.

In the U.S., we hear today that the disgraced DADT policy which bans gays from disclosing their sexual orientation in the American Army is being reviewed and, astoundingly, the top brass of the armed forces are (is) standing by those who have undergone years of unjust neglect.

All very well and for the good of the rest of the world, we would like to think.

In an ideal world, we all know, such concerns would not exist and petty grievances by conservative mindsets would be a thing of the past. They are not. However, they will be. At least, that is what we are striving for.

Onward Christian soldiers! Remember the words of Sen. Barry Goldwater: "You don’t have to be straight in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight."

And in Britain, we expect the Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill, which is going through Parliament, will pass and we will move on to the next issue at hand. A man's job is never done.

No, Siree.

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General

Monday, February 1, 2010

Do You Remember This Story?

"In April, Zoe's Ark announced a campaign to evacuate 10,000 orphans from Darfur alongside other French charities including Sauver le Darfour (Save Darfur).
It said it wanted to place orphaned Darfuri children aged under five in foster care with French families, invoking its right to do so under international law.

Zoe's Ark founder Eric Breteau (left) is one of those held in Chad. But the charity has been accused of child trafficking in the case of the 103 children it attempted to fly out of Chad.

UN officials say many of the children are from Chad, not Sudan, and there is no evidence that they are orphans.

Zoe's Ark insists tribal leaders in Sudan told them all the children were Darfuri orphans. It says it wanted to save the children's lives and was carrying out a medical evacuation - not an adoption operation.

BBC NEWS, Monday, 29 October 2007, 15:02 GMT

Sigh... this is our tidbit:

So it has happened before. And now our cam pans over to Haiti. What do we see? We see the same thing playing out before our very eyes:

Do pardon our cynicism but as one of our followers, Eduardo, from Pearls Of BS says: "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

We rest our case.

Photo: AFP Mon Feb 1, 7:02 AM ET

On Child-Smuggling - Update

An update

Surely we cannot rush to condemn, as the mainstream media do(es), the protagonists of this developing story. Common sense makes us grant them the benefit of doubt until proven guilty.

We should wait and see what transpires in court today for should it be established that they had a malicious intent to remove the kids from their environment, chaotic as it is, then we will have a field day. We will spread the word to the seven winds and raise, pardon me, hell.

Meanwhile, let us all go about our day pretending all is fine in Gaialand and that the only cares we have in our particular corners of this big wide world are the watering of the plants, the feeding of the house pets and that bottle of red we are to share with that important two-legged creature with a sizable brain, for we have given up on brawns, to lighten our loads...Cheers!