31 janeiro, 2016

Palavras lidas #262

by Sharon Bryan, from Flying Blind, 1996

Middle age refers more
to landscape than to time:
it’s as if you’d reached

the top of a hill
and could see all the way
to the end of your life,

so you know without a doubt
that it has an end—
not that it will have,

but that it does have,
if only in outline—
so for the first time

you can see your life whole,
beginning and end not far
from where you stand,

the horizon in the distance—
the view makes you weep,
but it also has the beauty

of symmetry, like the earth
seen from space: you can’t help
but admire it from afar,

especially now, while it’s simple
to re-enter whenever you choose,
lying down in your life,

waking up to it
just as you always have—
except that the details resonate

by virtue of being contained,
as your own words
coming back to you

define the landscape,
remind you that it won’t go on
like this forever.

30 janeiro, 2016

Ditto #319

To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.


29 janeiro, 2016

Numa sala perto de mim #327

Youth - La Giovinezza (2015), another movie by Paolo Sorrentino that makes us think about life. A retired composer and conductor, an old movie director working on the last screenplay of his career, a woman with two occupations (daughter and her father's assistant), and a famous Hollywood actor, all cross paths in a Swiss spa for the vacation of the very rich. Little by little we learn about their lives, their joys and fears, and their goals or the lack of them, while enjoying walks on the countryside, rejuvenating mud baths, exquisite meals, a variety of live shows, having a massage, or just relaxing in the pool. Other characters worth of note are a child, Miss Universe, a retired world famous football player, a masseuse, a doctor, four young writers, an unfaithful husband, an ugly pop star, a prostitute, a royal assistant, a disconcerting middle-aged couple, a controlling mother and her young teenage daughter, a world famous actress at the end of her career... and a simple song.

28 janeiro, 2016

Ditto #318

Sala Vergílio Ferreira, Biblioteca Municipal de Gouveia

Para que percorres inutilmente o céu inteiro à procura da tua estrela? Põe-na lá.

--Vergílio Ferreira (28.01.1916-01.03.1996)

27 janeiro, 2016

Ditto #317

Mozart, by Martini Bologna, 1777

To win applause one must write stuff so simple that a coachman might sing it, or so incomprehensible that it pleases simply because no sensible man can comprehend it.

--Mozart (28.01.1756-5.12.1791)

    26 janeiro, 2016

    No Times de hoje #164

    Still no good news coming out of Egypt a day after the fifth anniversary of the revolution. Today's New York Times article describes the pattern of "forced disappearances" happening since last year as the regime strengthens its position by cracking down on its opponents. The technique is not new and it makes some of the darkest pages of history in various countries. Yet, every new description of the practice is equally frightening.

    "Instead of being held in the formal legal system — where tens of thousands of people have been detained under Mr. Sisi — people like Mr. Khalil have disappeared into a network of secretive detention centers, run by the security forces, where they are held incommunicado, without charge or access to a lawyer, for weeks and sometimes months, according to the rights groups.

    There, interrogators use the detainee’s isolation and lack of legal protections to interrogate them harshly. Some have been forced to open their Facebook pages, and other social media sites, to identify friends and relatives. Many say they have been tortured.

    The detainees are usually released within months or, like Mr. Khalil, charged with a crime — usually membership in the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the accusation Mr. Sisi’s government lays against many of its opponents. But others stay missing much longer, such as the political activist Ashraf Shehata, who disappeared in January 2014. And some turn up dead, their bodies dumped in morgues."

    25 janeiro, 2016

    Sem título #55

    Five years ago Egyptians took to the streets and stayed out for 18 days until the fall of Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power for 30 years. Since then Egypt has had quite an eventful and unsteady political path, with elections, overthrows, the involvement of military into politics, and limitations to civil liberties. Today, many claim Egypt's situation was better five years and a day ago. Reflections on Egypt's revolution five years on populate the online world and make it clear that the path to institutional change is not easy or automatic and that constitutions are crucial for the state to honor its commitments.
    Há cinco anos, os egípcios saíram à rua e lá ficaram durante 18 dias até à queda de Hosni Mubarak, no poder há 30 anos. Desde entào o Egipto tem tido um percurso político atribulado e cheio de acontecimentos com eleições, governos derrubados, o envolvimento militar na política, e limites às liberdades civis. Hoje, muitos acham que o Egipto estava melhor há cinco anos e um dia. Reflexões sobre a revolução do Egipto, cinco anos depois abundam online e mostram claramente que o caminho da mudança institucional não é fácil nem automático e que as constituições são cruciais para que o Estado cumpra/honre os seus compromissos.

    24 janeiro, 2016

    Numa sala perto de mim #326

    Two recent movies amply nominated for the oscars...
    none of them my cup of tea.
    The Big Short (2015) shows the artificial buildup of the financial system based on a faulty housing market and its unfolding in 2007-2008. The prediction of the outcome came from a socially challenged individual, who bet against the housing market in 2005 and profited handsomely with the collapse of the world economy. His ideas leaked to a limited number of other individuals that confirmed in disbelief the prediction and also betted on the outcome that no one else thought possible. Impressive acting by all involved, too bad it was Christian Bale getting the nomination for Best Supporting Actor instead of Steve Carrell. Five nominations seems appropriate.
    The Revenant (2015) also based on the true story of Hugh Glass. An early nineteenth century explorer of the American West (presently Yellow Stone National Park territory, then Indian territory), Glass was involved in the fur trade, survived a bear attack, and was left behind for dead by his companions only to come back and seek revenge. In the movie Glass survives much more than a bear attack, he also survives river rapids and falls, falling off a cliff mounted on a horse, Indian attacks, French attacks, a pseudo-avalanche, and of course his main enemy. Though violent and rough, the movie can be seen either as a pure survival story in the wild with very little technology and under extreme weather conditions (ideal for the fans of radical sports, or extreme reality shows), or as a compilation of various forms of dealing with loss and revenge (a father for a son, a father for a daughter, a son for his mother, a man for his family). I am not fond of either and I don't find the particular combination of the two very compelling, but in the entire history of movies this is just the sixteenth gathering 12 nominations (only 11 films ever earned more), the others were:

    Ben Hur (1950, won 11 oscars)
    The English Patient (1996, won 9)
    On The Waterfront (1954, won 8)
    My Fair Lady (1964, won 8)
    Dances with Wolves (1990, won 7) 
    Schindler's List (1993, won 7)
    Mrs. Miniver (1942, won 6)
    Gladiator (2000, won 5)
    The Song of Bernadette (1943, won 4)
    A Street Car Named Desire (1951, won 4)
    The King's Speech (2010, won 4)
    Reds (1981, won 3)
    Lincoln (2012, won 2)
    Johnny Belinda (1948, won 1)
    Becket (1964, won 1).

    Only six (in italics) did not win Best Movie. Let's see where The Revenant ranks on February 22... the countdown is on and I still want to see quite a few movies!

    23 janeiro, 2016

    Inverno #44

    Brilha o sol e aí está o grande derretimento
    The sun shines and there it is the great meltdown

    Inverno #43

    Depois da tempestade vem o sol
    as temperaturas são ainda bem baixas e hoje não devem superar os zero graus por isso pouca neve deverá derreter, ficando por isso dura como o gelo. Ainda assim há quem saia de calções para passear o cão.
    Nota: o termómetro marca -4C, ou -11C com o efeito vento.

    22 janeiro, 2016

    Inverno #42

    Snow makes life monochromatic / A neve faz a vida monocromática
    How much more snow can the branches hold until they break?

    Quanto mais aguentarão os ramos até partirem?

    Palavras lidas #261

    Good old Saramago...

    21 janeiro, 2016

    Caprichos #394

    Tea and chocolate on a vintage plate

    20 janeiro, 2016

    Inverno #41

    E o resultado na manhã seguinte é este
    Não está frio suficiente para que a precipitação seja neve nem a temperatura é alta suficiente para que seja água, por isso cai gelo que fica no chão e dificulta a vida qb tanto para andar como para conduzir.

    A universidade não cancelou as aulas. Business as usual, mas como se leva mais tempo para chegar onde se quer é melhor saír mais cedo. Com os vidros do carro completamente gelados e as estradas cobertas de gelo e lama resultante dos carros que passam e derretem ligeiramente a camada superior (mas não o suficiente para a água escorrer e deixar o piso com aderência normal) decidi apanhar o autocarro. Saí de casa confiante, 10 minutos antes de ele passar, apenas para ver o autocarro anterior na paragem porque está tudo correndo com um atraso jeitoso. A 100 metros de distância era-me impossível correr para a avenida principal, que depois teria de atravessar para entrar no dito autocarro por isso fiz-me ao caminho. Como a temperatura não é muito baixa (senão estaria a nevar) caminhar durante 35 minutos não foi doloroso, mas estar constantemente atenta para não cair não foi agradável.

    No gelo, andar como um pinguim e com passos de bebé
    Foi este o conselho que me deram uns amigos que cresceram no midwest (onde esta informação é inata) e deu bom jeito esta manhã. Fácil não é dado este cenário:
    Por misericórdia começou a nevar o que deixa uma camada branca (agora sim) de neve por cima do gelo permitindo ao calçado de rasto agarrar um pouco melhor ao chão e caminhar a uma velocidade quase normal. 
    Finalmente a selfie ao fim de uma caminhada de 35 minutos...
    ...não é lá muito recomendável, mas sobrevive-se.

    19 janeiro, 2016

    Inverno #40

    Severe Weather Alerts - Nashville, TN

    Winter Weather Advisory

    Winter Weather Advisory in effect from Wednesday, 12:00 AM CST until Wednesday, 6:00 PM CST. Source: U.S. National Weather Service



    The roads are salted (for what it's worth),
    the chocolate is hot...
    ... oh let it snow!

    Pedaços de São Francisco

    Para além de ruas inclinadas, São Francisco
    tem também: vários meios de transporte público muitos sobre carris,
    carros eléctricos mais ou menos familiares
    mas também os famosos elevadores, movidos a cabo, colina acima
    (cabo esse que se pode ver em movimento no Cable Car Museum),
    o edifício da câmara municipal impressionante por dentro
    e por fora,
    leões marinhos selvagens que vivem nas plataformas do cais 39,
    a Coit Tower em Telegraph Hill
    de onde se desce para uma vista fantástica sobre a cidade;
    Alcatraz que conforme o ângulo ou a luz do dia toma aspectos diferentes,
    a Ponte de Golden Gate.
    Terá também a quinquagésima edição da Superbowl
    em pouco menos de três semanas.

    18 janeiro, 2016