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Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Olive Skin and Bleaching Creams in the Middle East.



Racism, you say? Yes, there's a previous post about misplaced racism in a most mixed-up society like ours here in Brazil. However, this is not what I want to say. It is about veiled or blatant, your call, racism in the Middle East. As you will be able to ascertain in the video, dark skin is a no-no in media-related jobs in that part of the world. Poo, it's just a commercial, isn't it?

Are you shocked? I'm not. I'm flabbergasted! Nerve-shredding disbelief, to say the least. That coming from someone, an unwhite journalist, a mutt, in Brazil who is very much used to seeing ersatz Scandinavians presenting the news and making it to the top of our imperfect Cultural Industry.

I come from a country where footballers, as in Black soccer-players, and sports personalities, in their great majority, have Scandinavian wives. Not kidding.

The video on this post signals to a sad reality. The reality that, in emerging countries, if you want to reach the top you have to bleach your skin, and evidently, if you want to have someone on top of you, you should bleach your skin. What are you doing at four? I'm pure olive with a tropical tan. Er, with my original nose...

On Fundamentalist Pedophilia

"Abuse victims have called on church officials, including Pope Benedict XVI, to take personal responsibility for clerical abuse. They say that a culture of cover-up and secrecy has allowed priests to rape and molest children unchecked for decades."

The Guardian


By now, we have all grown inured to the daily earfuls we hear about sex, always about sex in the northern hemisphere, that we do not recognize, mind you. Repression?

Maybe. But in the southern hemisphere, too, it happens with astounding frequency: Chile, Brazil and who knows where else, some other juicy snippet is waiting backstage to make its appearance. We can't wait.

Oh, world! What have we come to? Surely, as one priest says, an exorcist by the way, that the devil is doing his business at the core of the first Christian religion. The horned one must be busy. Knock wood!

In the beginning, we thought this was the media being too hard on organized religion and on unscrupulous politicians. Sadly, that is not the case. There is a pattern here.

Surely, our institutions are trying to make us all run away in fright only to cast them in eternal damnation. Hope that is not the case.

If by next week, we see no cessation of the daily servings of gropings, rent-boys, hitting people on the bottom with sticks and other "kinky stuff", we promise to ask Them to stop the world for us to get off.

Perhaps not. When things like these happen it is only to help us widen our horizons philosophically and strengthen our resolve to regard such institutions as mere tools in the system to keep society under control.

God defend us from such hypocrisy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Photos: The Earth from Above - Untold Beauty


Still in the wake of Earth Day, ecological concerns are seldom far from our agenda.

Here we have Time presenting us with photos of our Ultimate Abode.

We theorize that a little bit of beauty will only tide us over the weekend and perhaps fill ourselves with yet more hope and grit to fight the good fight.

Enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

On Misplaced Racism

We’ve been reminded yet again that blacks in Brazil have their work cut out for them and that they still have a tough row to hoe when it comes to human rights.

A Black man as president of the most powerful country in the world is no guarantee that those born with an excess (?) of melanin will all of a sudden be walking streets paved with gold. No, Siree, they won’t.

Not because they don’t want to. Because some people don’t want them to. Especially some youngsters with nothing better to do and who call themselves skinheads (neo-nazis?) have taken to attacking “people of color” for no apparent reason other than their being Black. Such phenomenon is prevalent in the greater São Paulo area.

Neo-nazis, you say? Skinheads? In Brazil? At least they think they are. Not on hitlerian terms, though. Or is it? We now know that genetics has completely debunked Hitler’s claims of racial purity by saying that we are all the same underneath.

Could this be a case of bad imports such as those we are subjected to through the Cultural Industry? Can we not discern anymore?

Something does not add up here. If you wanted to be a skinhead or whatever, should you not be born of racial stock originating in northern Europe? Surely we could go on writing about economic instead of racial reasons for the whole affair, but still...

You be the judge.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day. There's Still Time

For us to rethink our habits by recycling, reducing and reusing. Much has been said and little has been done, we all know.

Instead of making this one a message of doom and gloom for our planet, let us try and think a new planet, such an ideal one as we have most of us been writing and complaining about.

Luckily, we do not have to be cathechised anymore as to the dangers of inaction and predatory practices. The certainty has settled in and we are savvy and pretty much in the know about things ecological.

I am very glad I am part of this group. Together, all of us, we can make a difference.


Yes, we can heal our planet.



However, border disputes is another matter entirely. When humans encroach on other humans' domains things get tricky, beyond my pale, so to speak, as is apparent by the message at the end of this video.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Dams and Mammoth Projects in the Amazon

Guess who's been in town, rather, in the country? James Cameron alongside Sigorney Weaver. They have an agenda.

Yes, the Avatar famed film-maker and actor have been to the Amazon, the rain-forest, to draw attention to the fact that a huge dam is to be built in the legendary expanse of trees and wildlife.

Concerned perhaps that my fellow countrypeople were unaware of the fact (I was!) and maybe not doing enough to stop the Belo Monte Dam Project on the Xingu ('sheen-goo) River. They are adding their voice to local environmentalists and indian groups who oppose the initiative most vehemently for all the obvious reasons.

Their argument is why should we build a dam right smack in the middle of the hallowed grounds at a time when so much alternative options are available out there inasmuch as we live close to the equator and solar energy is, well, there for the taking, for example?

Mr. Cameron and Ms. Weaver have their work cut out for them in that they have yet to convince the Brazilian Government that this is an inane thing to do. Our president says that the project is a necessary evil that will provide clean energy. Never mind the devastation and the displacement of riverbank dwellers.

Life goes on, meanwhile. Ah, who knows there's still time to save whatever is left of the lungs of the earth.










Photo Credit: Leo Freitas

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Guys and Their Health - How About Prevention?

Men and their aches and pains are now the target of the Health Ministry in Brazil. In August, last year, the government of Brazil launched The National Policy of Man’s Health or the policy for the health of the man.

The program aims at promoting access to health services for males who otherwise, perhaps by cultural and educational reasons, tend to look for health services when their ailment prevents them from working. In every three deaths that occur in Brazil, two are men. The world over, men live on average five to seven years less than women.

As is the example with breast or other cancers, people tend to seek help when their disease is far too advanced for help and the program aims at just that: prevention. “Precious time is lost when that happens,” says José Gomes Temporão, Health Minister, “when they arrive at the health services it’s because they have reached a critical stage.”

R$ 613.22 million (Brazilian Real), or about US$ 300 million, will be allocated in a eight-year framework, for communication initiatives, health promotion, service expansion, and investment into the public health structure. By the looks of it, it seems a revolution in men’s health is about to start. It was about time.





Saturday, April 17, 2010

Outstanding Women in English Literature

What was the role of women in English literature? Is there anything in their lives that might teach us a lesson? What is it that made a handful of them famous beyond the narrow borders of a book?

Women have come a long way from King Arthur’s Court to James Joyce’s Dublin in the early 20th century. This is a fresh look at the shameless heroines, and quite often, depending on whom you ask, brazenfaced denizens of our beloved novels.

Casting our minds back to medieval literature, Beowulf, for example, we will find that men were apparently not very interested in women and their deeds. They were however very much bent on slashing monsters out of shape and in their busy, hectic, violent lives which were spent in mead-halls most of the time. We have no evidence of their devoting their time to the ladies which, we can only infer, were chattel to Beowulf and to his fellow warriors. Greek classics, anyone?

Times have changed and we see women in positions of power and cutting a swath in the world. There were times, we know, that they were mere appendages and just sat pretty beside their husbands on various thrones throughout history. Literature has portrayed that faithfully. Let us go now way back in history to learn of remarkable women that have populated unforgettable novels.

From the Arthurian Legends, we read of two strong-willed women who changed their world: Guinevere and Morgan le Fay. These two women left a mark in their society in that they dared to think out of the box and had the power to change their societies. In a time when people were expected to live under strict codes of conduct, Guinevere dared to have a thing going with a gallant warrior-knight called Lancelot. Their love affair sent shivers running down everyone’s spines at the time. Sadly, their dalliance led to the kingdom’s downfall. Is this a warning to women?

Morgan le Fay, Guinevere’s sister-in-law, was half-sister to King Arthur. A powerful sorceress, also known as Morgana, which some say had a child with her half-brother, may, to some feminists of the 20th century, be some sort of symbol of the female power or bear a trace of Celt spirituality and be seen as a benevolent figure with extraordinary healing powers. Read the cycles of Arthurian Legends and be the judge.

Moving further towards the future in our timeline, "The Wife of Bath", in Jeffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the 14th century, is no doubt the woman of the future. Surely she was the odd gal out in that period of the literature. With five husbands under her belt, she was the epitome of the modern, unshackled woman of today. Why can’t you look for happiness with the next guy? Alyson, you rocked, girl! The one in charge.

The Brontë sisters and Jane Austen produced veritable paragons of virtue and good sense (if you can call it that) who ever inhabited the pages of romantic literature. The good thing in these women is that they possess that most intriguing of abilities: they think.

Thinking becomes then the thing to do and it is because of their imaginations and self-talk that Catherine (Earnshaw) Linton in Wuthering Heights; Elizabeth Bennet, In Pride and Prejudice; Anne Elliot, in Persuasion and the rebellious Jane Eyre in the homonymous novel, all wreaked havoc in that good ol’ England because they put their foot down, said they wouldn’t do it, and they all ended up married with a very good catch. They might have entered a contest to see which one of their husbands looked better in breeches. There is no record of that, however. How's that for rebellion?

These women are heroines. Through them, many women accomplished the impossible in the strict, victorian society they found themselves. Their role: to give their men a leg up in the world of colonization and imperial expansion in all corners of the Earth. Is this tiresome? There's more.

Leaping across the Irish Sea to Ireland, we will find Molly Bloom in James Joyce's Ulysses. In the modernist work, she is the arch- adulteress - her husband thinks she is. Although, in her own words, we see no recollection of such an extensive list of romantic link-ups. She is, nonetheless, a goddess lying in her bed being served breakfast by her husband all the while knowing that she will put the horns on him that very afternoon.

However, still in Ulysses, little does Molly know that slightly after she accomplishes her liaison with her lover, her very husband, wandering through the streets of Dublin, will set his sights on a most lovely girl – a real Irish beauty - Gertie McDowell. Unlike Molly, Gertie (Dirty Gertie?) will do things to Molly’s husband that will make him reach Heavens without moving and inch, or rather, he moves inches, O, when he decides to play with himself right then and there at the beach where Gertie and some of her girlfriends were babysitting their younger siblings. Incredible scene!

The women listed above have leapt out of pages and set our imaginations on fire. We are left with the decision of what to do now that we have taken a peek at their thoughts and been allowed into their hallowed secrets. The best that can be inferred from reading these novels is the picture-perfect look we have of times gone by and wish that women come into their own yet with more vigor and allure to make our world a better place, for Molly herself said just that. You are right Molly!

On Mother Nature's Wrath

The wrath of nature and how it disrupts our plans. We hear of people left stranded in Manhattan or Paris, or London, as if, of course, on a tropical island thousands of miles from civilization...


Poo, poo! People, it's Mother Nature tellings us in Her very capricious way to slow down and say that She is, hello!, Bigger than all of our forecasts. There is no telling what She can do.

She's so self-involved - Goddess why? She does not care if you spend three years in a spiritual retreat meditating or if you are the CEO of that very important multinational. She will leave you with your balls hanging by a thread. Awesome power She possesses. Temples and planes succumb to Her.


Dear Mother, even though we own state-of-the-art technologies we cannot divine Your Thoughts. We are afraid of You. Spare us Your "Tantrums", to quote a fellow blogger, and allow them all, who dare to be in Your Path, to pursue their plans.

Be gentle, Dearest Ma.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Re-imagining Your Life: The Power Of Visualization

Re-imagining Your Life: The Power Of Visualization

Posted using ShareThis

After a few posts laying bare the bad in people and the neglect those in power subject others, I came across this inspiring article in Matatador by Martin Prihoda and thought it would be a good idea to share it with you. It has to do with visualization.

You see, visualization is an important thing. This writer, when very young, used to imagine himself on planes, travelling to the farthest places. Guess what, time came when he saw himself as a publishing assistant working alongside the publisher of an important Brazilian Publishing House and one of his jobs was to visit Book Fairs all over.

He got his share of travelling. He did. Plus the fact that when he spent time in the U.S. with his American partner, the both of them would spend weekends in various places in that country and, guess what, they traveled by plane.

Now perhaps knowing that the visualization was working, he had read a book or two about the subject, this writer started visualizing a home, by the sea. He would see himself sitting in the lotus position while he heard the gentle sound of the waves somewhere in California. From his nice place. He actually drove up there to see if they "visualized" place was up there. He could not locate it. Jury still out here on this one.

Now this writer finds himself living, comfortably, in a nice place, not in California though, but in Rio Grande do Sul, in a nice condo overlooking a beautiful lake. Chance or active will-power? Hard work is to be factored in.

You decide. However, if you have dreams of your own and places you want to reach, visualize yourself right there, experience everything, employ all your senses and etch that in your mind. Wait for the results.

You gotta be there, to be there.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sad Realities

In the scale of badness, which would you rather I wrote about?

Either of two: the situation in Rio and how people are now, after the tradegy, being relocated to low-risk areas and how they are going to get a stipend to help them pay the rent in other dwellings, after seeing their houses rumbling down the slope?


Or about this pedophile, one Admar de Jesus, released from prison for good behavior after doing time for four years, and how he, when back in the midst of society, committed crimes he'd been sent to prison for?




The pedo? Right. It happened right smack dab in the heart of Brazil, a few miles from the Brazilian capital in the state of Goiás in a town called Luziânia.

Yesterday, the suspect who has now confessed he killed the six boys - aren't they always boys? - took the police to the site where he had buried the bodies he had bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer. All of them aged 13 - 17.

He would attract his victims with offers of fishing jobs out in the country and once there he would proceed with the sexual abuse and the killing.

Saddest of all is that we read that the mothers had been clinging to the notion that perhaps the boys, who since December last year had disappeared from their neighborhood called Morning Star, had been lured into doing slave work and that eventually the police would find them alive.

Not so. They are now left with the task of identifying the remains of the kids at Coroner's Office. Life goes on.




Photo Credits:

Rio de Janeiro: From Agencia Estado

Pedophile: From Cristiano Borges/O Popular/AE

Saturday, April 10, 2010

On the Face of Tragedy

"Polish President who said homosexuality will destroy human race dies in plane crash", screams the headline in Pink News.

"'Kaczynski was accused of homophobia when in 2007 as President he was challenged over this decision, and said: " 'If that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear.

"Imagine what grand changes would occur in mores if the traditional links between men and women were set aside.'
'"

Undoubtedly, a very conservative and controversial politician who espoused views germane to his world-view. That is to be respected. Actually, our condolences should be expressed in the most diplomatic terms. After all, not many make it to the heights of power. Cerimonial though it was.

While this is a tragedy and, poetically, one is to believe his entire cabinet was literally taken down with him, one cannot help but feel a certain sense of loss.

This is perhaps because we want those who exhibit less than kosher views about this or that group in society to endure to the end. This is the famous end we read about in philosophical writings and which most of us want to believe exists to provide us with comfort inasmuch as the stigma heaped on the LGBT community is disproportional.

All of the above to say that we are certain the LGBT community is not out to take over the world. Many in the LGBT community are battling for equal rights and the right to have "normal" families recognized by all, thus preserving the very mores mentioned in the quote above. Plus, churning out consumers and voters by the dozen. A hollywoodian dream.

Also, the LGBT community is very well aware the heterosexual relationships are a must in our contemporary world up until Science produces humans out of bottles, lending credence to the fact that humanity is not on the brink of extinction.



Update:

Pink News says in a later post that "Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, one of the most outspoken advocates for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) rights in Poland", was killed in the plane crash as well.

Tragedy knows no face.



Podcast

Friday, April 9, 2010

Collateral Damage - It's Real



From Wikileaks:

WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website www.collateralmurder.com

From us


Rummaging through our words-chest we come across phrases we hear in the news such as "wanton killing", "gross negligence", "disposable lives", and a variety of others which would fit in this comment about a war we know either very much or very little about.

Very much because we hear daily reminders of the situation in war-torn Iraq and how people there are living their lives in a constant state of stress without hope for the future. They may very well be hopeful for a better future...However, a future is always a future. It is not a present.

Very little because we ignore the various vested interests bent on bringing death and destruction in the name of some ideology, and we may be part and parcel of such, as we live in the West and we derive substantial profit from constant belligerence.

Videos like these only serve to shake us out of our reverie to make us wake up and smell the coffee. It ain't good. It is sugarless.

Now, the job of bringing the news to the world is fraught with danger evidently. We, arm-chair journalists, have no notion of the battlegrounds and feel we can dish out criticism about things we have not, as yet, experienced. It's like those pundits on TV paid to bloviate about the status quo from a pre-edited script.

Meanwhile, we go on raving about the latest video released by duos, or singles, and who are very much part of the whole manipulative and hypnotic scenario custom-made to keep us glued to our seats.

Heavens help us.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A New Find in South Africa: Key Link in Human Evolution?



Evolution skeptics like to trot out the argument that if Darwin had been right, scientists would have discovered transitional fossils by now — creatures with a mix of features from earlier and later species. Since they haven't, the deniers say, evolution must not be true.


Our two bits:


Fair enough for both sides, we say. However, the scientific side is winning ground in the contest if the find above is anything to go by.

That should be able to put a stopper in the maw of many a skeptic and quite incredibly put to rest long unwinnable discussions about this that or the other concerning evolution and the creation of man, hopefully.

Miraculously, as Science advances, new breakthroughs are made almost daily in every field and we, as humans, only stand to gain from the news discoveries.

So much is being found and unearthed - unveiled - in this vast Universe we know so little of. Luckily many are busy at work in academic centers trying to put together schemes, technological and otherwise, to better canvass and probe into the farthest reaches of this planet and of the Cosmos.

What is hard to fathom, however, is why so many people cling to medieval mindsets and refuse to see what is under their very noses. Many have been sent to the stakes and bonfires for thinking out of the box. Hats off to them.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Flash Floods, Plodding Through Water?

All in a day's work in Rio de Janeiro. Poor citizens! They have long since grown inured to the neglect authorities bestow on them when it comes to emergencies like these. You just have to wait for the rains to come.

You see, when you build your shack on a slippery slope, what with it being just a thin layer of soil with vegetation blanketing rocky mountains, when the skies open, those poor folks see their lives' work slide down with a rumble. Is that the noise?

That and the fact that workers have to go to work plodding through knee-deep waterways whereon buses would have run instead... Is there a solution?

Now, thirty hours plus of rain have taken their toll. People have been killed as a result and city authorities still begging people to stay home and urging others in risk areas to leave. Where to?

Do they have a place in which to lodge the hordes of climate refugees? By now, one would have thought that they already had some sort of emergency plan to resort to when the going gets tough. Nope, you can ask your friends who live in the Marvellous City and they will say that they have no inkling as to what is going to happen.

Bummer! The rain affects those living in the South Side as well. The sea as a bulwark and the rainwaters having no place to drain into, south-siders have to take off their Pradas and walk barefoot. Shame!

Meanwhile...Aljazeera's Craig Mauro says it best:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Put the Kibosh on Corruption in Brazil

Incredibly, more than 1.6 million Brazilians have mobilized against corruption and the petition is gaining strength as we speak.

We have 48 hours till the voting of The Clean Slate Bill takes place. Sign it and forward this alert to all your friends.

Avaazians have set their eyes on 2 million signatures! If you care about Brazilian politics, weigh in at:

http://www.avaaz.org/po/brasil_ficha_limpa/?vl

It would be all very nice if we could ban candidates who have committed serious crimes such as money-laundering, drug trafficking and corruption.

Folks at Avaaz.org are busy manning the computers trying to get at least 2 million signatures and say this is a watershed moment in the struggle against corruption in Brazilian politics.

No easy task, we are told, for in the Brazilian Congress corrupt vested interests are trying to talk the Speaker of the House into not slating the bill for voting.

These patriots say that only a mass mobilization in the next forty-eight hours will exert enough pressure and make the bill pass.

There you go! "You've been briefed", to quote one CNN anchor. By the way, let's wish ourselves luck.

Will we ever get rid of the scourge of corruption?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

On Bigots and Unbounded Narrow-mindedness

I thought I was out of ideas to write about by way of posts but on my Facebook page this morning there was an anonymous message, reproduced below:

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"!U R A SICK MINDED HOMO FAG!AND U ARE DISCONNECTED FROM YOUR HERITAGE!A MANS' PENIS DOES N.O.T. BELONG INSIDE ANOTHER MANS ASSHOLE!!" (Sic).

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Why am I being singled out? I am MULTI-RACIAL: Black, Jewish, Latin American Brazilian and White European, and I can be whatever the hell I want!!!!!I am PROUD of my mutt sexual orientation. Please do NOT give your OWN views on how I should run my life. I AM WELL-READ, KNOWLEDGEABLE and I KNOW much more than your narrow philosophical enclaves impose on you.

I HAVE READ THE BIBLE TWICE AND GOD (JESUS) NEVER SAID ANYTHING REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND IN THE OLD, THE ONLY TIME GOD MANIFESTED ITSELF (TORAH), IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, HE/SHE/IT NEVER MENTIONED SEX BETWEEN MEN.

How do you know a man's penis does not belong inside another man's rectal cavity? Whoever has given you the authority to expostulate about sexual matters? For Goodness' sakes!

In lieu of harassing people, why do you not pursue literary interests? The United States has an abundance of authors, both Black and White, who write in masterful English and who have a magnificent view of humanity and the world.

Why do you not campaign for more access to education in inner-city schools? For better jobs and housing? For access to health care? Perhaps then, only then, those who share my African heritage would be able to travel and see the world; would perhaps be able to advance a notch or two in social mobility; would refine their spirits and widen their horizons.

Why harbor hatred in your soul?