30 abril, 2016

Parece que estou a ouvir #215

When I saw The Ray Legacy this week I was reminded of the power of Ray Charles's music, but also that his was not the first version of Unchain my heart I ever heard. Very impressed by the amount of talent on stage!

Unchain my heart
originally recorded by Ray Charles in 1961, first heard by Joe Cocker in 1987

Unchain my heart, baby let me be
Unchain my heart 'cause you don't care about me
You've got me sewed up like a pillow case
But you let my love go to waste so
Unchain my heart, oh please, please set me free

Unchain my heart, baby let me go
Unchain my heart, 'cause you don't love me no more
Ev'ry time I call you on the phone
Some fella tells me that you're not at home so
Unchain my heart, oh please, please set me free

I'm under your spell like a man in a trance
But I know darn well, that I don't stand a chance so
Unchain my heart, let me go my way
Unchain my heart, you worry me night and day
Why lead me through a life of misery
When you don't care a bag of beans for me
So unchain my heart, oh please, please set me free

I'm under your spell like a man in a trance
But I know darn well, that I don't stand a chance so
Unchain my heart, let me go my way
Unchain my heart, you worry me night and day
Why lead me through a life of misery
When you don't care a bag of beans for me
So unchain my heart, please, please set me free
(please set me free)
Oh won't you set me free
(please set me free)
Woah, set me free
(please set me free)
Woowow, set me free little darlin
(please set me free)
Oh won't you set me free

28 abril, 2016

Palavras lidas #278

The situation in Brazil as seen by The Economist this week. In a common view with Portugal's press (also featuring some mea culpa) no one's safe... rather depressing.

The great betrayal

Dilma Rousseff has let her country down. But so has the entire political class

BRAZIL’S Congress has witnessed some bizarre scenes in its time. In 1963 a senator aimed a gun at his arch-enemy and killed another senator by mistake. In 1998 a crucial government bill failed when a congressman pushed the wrong button on his electronic voting device. But the spectacle in the lower house on April 17th surely counts among the oddest. One by one, 511 deputies filed towards a crowded microphone and, in ten-second bursts broadcast to a rapt nation, voted on the impeachment of the president, Dilma Rousseff. Some were draped in Brazilian flags. One launched a confetti rocket. Many gushed dedications to their home towns, religions, pet causes—and even Brazil’s insurance brokers. The motion to forward charges against Ms Rousseff to the Senate for trial passed by 367 votes to 137, with seven abstentions.

The vote comes at a desperate time. Brazil is struggling with its worst recession since the 1930s. GDP is expected to shrink by 9% from the second quarter of 2014, when the recession started, to the end of this year. Inflation and the unemployment rate are both around 10%.

The failure is not only of Ms Rousseff’s making. The entire political class has let the country down through a mix of negligence and corruption. Brazil’s leaders will not win back the respect of its citizens or overcome the economy’s problems unless there is a thorough clean-up.

Ditching Dilma
Sunday’s vote was not the end of Ms Rousseff, but her departure cannot now be far off. Brazil ought not to mourn her. Incompetence in her first term in office, from 2011 to 2014, has made the country’s economic plight incomparably worse. Her Workers’ Party (PT) is a prime mover behind a gargantuan bribery scheme centred on Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, which channelled money from contractors to politicians and parties. Although Ms Rousseff has not been personally implicated in the wrongdoing, she tried to shield her predecessor as president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from prosecution.

What is alarming is that those who are working for her removal are in many ways worse. If the Senate votes to put her on trial, probably by mid-May, Ms Rousseff will have to step aside for up to 180 days. The vice-president, Michel Temer, who comes from a different party, will take over and serve out her term if the Senate removes her from office (see article). Mr Temer may provide short-term economic relief. Unlike the hapless Ms Rousseff, he knows how to get things done in Brasília and his Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB) is friendlier to business than the PT.

But the PMDB is hopelessly compromised, too. One of its leaders is the speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who presided over Sunday’s six-hour impeachment spectacle and has himself been charged by the supreme court with taking bribes through the Petrobras scheme. In announcing their “no” votes, some of Ms Rousseff’s allies denounced Mr Cunha as a “gangster” and a “thief”.

The taint of corruption is spread across many Brazilian parties. Of the 21 deputies under investigation in the Petrobras affair, 16 voted for Ms Rousseff’s impeachment. About 60% of congressmen face accusations of criminal wrongdoing.

There are no quick ways of putting this right. The roots of Brazil’s political dysfunction go back to the slave-based economy of the 19th century, to dictatorship in the 20th and to a flawed electoral system that both makes campaigns ruinously expensive and also shields politicians from account.

In the short run, impeachment will not fix this. The charge that is the basis for trying Ms Rousseff—that she manipulated accounts last year to make the fiscal deficit look smaller than it was—is so minor that just a handful of congressmen bothered to mention it in their ten-second tirades. If Ms Rousseff is ousted on a technicality, Mr Temer will struggle to be seen as a legitimate president by the large minority of Brazilians who still back Ms Rousseff.

The fact that the Petrobras scandal has ensnared some of the country’s most powerful politicians and businessmen is a sign that some institutions, especially those that enforce the law, are maturing. One reason politicians are in such trouble is that a new, better-educated and more assertive middle class refused to put up with their impunity. Some of the statutes now being used to put away miscreants were enacted by Ms Rousseff’s government. In any other country, such a cocktail of economic decline and political conflict might be combustible. Yet Brazil has remarkable reserves of tolerance. Divided as they are over the rights and wrongs of impeachment, Brazilians have kept their anger in check. The past three decades suggest that theirs is a country which can endure a crisis without resorting to coups or collapses. And here, perhaps, is a shred of hope.

One way of capturing this spirit would be for the country to hold fresh elections. A new president might have a mandate to embark on reforms that have eluded governments for decades. Voters also deserve a chance to rid themselves of the entire corruption-infested Congress. Only new leaders and new legislators can undertake the fundamental reforms that Brazil needs, in particular an overhaul of the corruption-prone political system and of uncontrolled public spending, which pushes up debt and hobbles growth.

Second best
True enough, the path to renewal through the ballot box is strewn with obstacles. Given its record, Congress is unlikely to pass the constitutional amendment required to dissolve itself and hold an early general election. The electoral tribunal could order a new presidential ballot, on the ground that Petrobras bribe money helped finance the re-election of Ms Rousseff and Mr Temer in 2014. But that is far from certain.

There is thus a good chance that Brazil will be condemned to muddle on under the current generation of discredited leaders. Its voters should not forget this moment. Because, in the end, they will have a chance to go to the polls—and they should use it to vote for something better.

27 abril, 2016

Palavras lidas #277

The Chernobyl tragedy happened thirty years ago yesterday, yet its legacy lives on. The Economist's article highlights the role of the disaster on the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In a few words:

Chernobyl is also a monument to the extinction of Soviet civilisation. As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, reflected years later, the meltdown, “even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.” It was a catalyst for glasnost, the opening-up of the Soviet media, which exposed the flaws of the Soviet system and set off the chain reaction that led to its ultimate destruction.

26 abril, 2016

Coisas que não mudam #350

Syrian child in the Island of Lesbos after disembarking from a boat coming from Turkey
Criança síria na Ilha de Lesbos depois de desembarcar de um barco vindo da Turquia

Yesterday, Members of Parliament in the UK voted down an amendment to the Immigration Bill that would allow 3,000 refugee children stranded in Europe to enter the country. Lord Alf Dubs, the proponent of the amendment, benefitted himself from Kindertransport the government-sponsored effort to rescue Jewish children in Nazi Germany to the UK between 1938 and 1940.

On February 1939, Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Representative Edith Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill to allow the entry of 20,000 refugee children, ages 14 and under, from the Greater German Reich into the United States over the course of two years. The bill was never voted upon because it did not receive support in the Senate and died in the summer of 1939.


Ontem, o parlamento britânico chumbou uma emenda à lei da imigração que permitiria a entrada no país de 3,000 crianças refugiadas, que já se encontram em campos refugiados da Europa. O proponente da referida emenda, Lord Alf Dubs, beneficiou do chamado Kindertransport que permitiu a entrada no Reino Unido de crianças de origem judaica provenientes da Alemanha Nazi entre 1938 e 1940.

Em Fevereiro de 1939, o senador Robert Wagner de Nova Iorque e a representante do Massachusetts Edith Rogers, submeteram uma proposta de lei que permitiria durante dois anos a entrada nos Estados Unidos de 20,000 crianças refugiadas (menores de 14 anos) oriundas do Terceiro Reich. A proposta de lei nunca chegou a ser votada porque não recebeu apoio no Senado e foi retirada no verão de 1939.


Children aboard the MS St. Louis (which was denied entry in Cuba, the US, and Canada) in May of 1939
Crianças a bordo do MS St Louis (cuja entrada foi recusada em Cuba, EUA, e Canadá) em Maio de 1939

Palavras lidas #276

Dois poemas de Mário de Sá Carneiro no dia em que passam 100 anos da sua morte, em Paris.
A minha vida sentou-se
E não há quem a levante,
Que desde o Poente ao Levante
A minha vida fartou-se.

E ei-la, a mona, lá está,
Estendida, a perna traçada,
No infindável sofá
Da minha Alma estofada.

Pois é assim: a minha Alma
Outrora a sonhar de Rússias,
Espapaçou-se de calma,
E hoje sonha só pelúcias.

Vai ao Café, pede um bock,
Lê o "Matin" de castigo,
E não há nenhum remoque
Que a regresse ao Oiro antigo!

Dentro de mim é um fardo
Que não pesa, mas que maça:
O zumbido dum moscardo,
Ou comichão que não passa.

Folhetim da "Capital"
Pelo nosso Júlio Dantas ---
Ou uma coisa entre tantas
Duma antipatia igual...

O raio já bebe vinho,
Coisa que nunca fazia,
E fuma o seu cigarrinho
Em plena burocracia!...

Qualquer dia, pela certa,
Quando eu mal me precate,
É capaz dum disparate,
Se encontra uma porta aberta...

Isto assim não pode ser...
Mas como achar um remédio?
--- Pra acabar este intermédio
Lembrei-me de endoidecer:

O que era fácil --- partindo
Os móveis do meu hotel,
Ou para a rua saindo
De barrete de papel

A gritar "Viva a Alemanha!"...
Mas a minha Alma, em verdade,
Não merece tal façanha,
Tal prova de lealdade...

Vou deixá-la --- decidido ---
No lavabo dum café,
Como um anel esquecido.
É um fim mais raffiné.

Paris, Setembro 1915

Quando eu morrer batam em latas,
Rompam aos saltos e aos pinotes,
Façam estalar no ar chicotes,
Chamem palhaços e acrobatas!

Que o meu caixão vá sobre um burro
Ajaezado à andaluza...
A um morto nada se recusa,
Eu quero por força ir de burro.

Paris, 1916

25 abril, 2016

Palavras lidas #275

There is a Sea

There is a sea,
A far and distant sea
Beyond the largest line,
Where all my ships that went astray,
Where all my dreams of yesterday
Are mine.

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen from A Praia in Contos Exemplares (1962)

23 abril, 2016

Coisas que não mudam #349

A nationalist Sant Jordi

Espantos #472

Found on campus this past week
a tree directly descending from the one in England below which Isaac Newton once rested and became insightful... how appropriate for a college campus!

22 abril, 2016

Pormenores #131

The Commander commanding troops at the commander

20 abril, 2016

Retirado do contexto #216

At the reception immediately following the sponsored lecture by the renowned professor, one of the attendees remarked to another as he was served a glass of wine: "well... that was not as pleasant as a glass of wine, but it was better than a root canal."

19 abril, 2016

Espantos #471

A Igreja celebra hoje o Santo Expedito, patrono das causas urgentes e justas. O santo é representado em traje de centurião romano de capacete por terra, com a palma (dos mártires) na mão, esmagando um corvo e empunhando uma cruz onde se lê hodie em latim, que quer dizer hoje. Conta a lenda que este legionário romano natural da Arménia se terá convertido ao cristianismo num dia em que o demónio em figura de corvo o tentava para que se convertesse no dia seguinte (amanhã, ou cras em latim) ao que terá respondido veementemente hoje! Terá depois sido martirizado no ano 303, na actual Turquia, por se ter recusado a adorar os deuses pagãos.

18 abril, 2016

Palavras lidas #274

No rescaldo da votação (pelas mais diversas razões) de ontem no congresso brasileiro, fica a crónica de Ricardo Araújo Pereira na Visão a 31 de Março com poucas razões para celebrações seja a destituição para valer ou reverter.

Corrupição: manuau dji instruçõess

Os brasileiros sabem que quem governou, governa e governará é suspeito de ter cometido ilegalidades. Na polícia brasileira, currículo diz-se "cadastro"

A presidente é acusada de manipular as contas do Estado. O ex-presidente é acusado de branqueamento de capitais. O candidato derrotado na corrida à presidência é acusado de ter recebido luvas. O presidente do parlamento é acusado de ter cinco milhões não declarados na Suíça. Encabeça a comissão que avalia a destituição da presidente ao mesmo tempo que corre contra si mesmo um processo de destituição. E têm nomes como Dilma, Lula, Aécio, Delcídio. Um dos juízes do caso chama-se Itagiba Catta Preta Neto. O mais estranho no meio disto tudo é o Brasil ser o país do carnaval. O carnaval é um breve momento de loucura isolado no meio do quotidiano sério. Para desenjoar da austeridade do mundo, há uma semana em que tudo fica às avessas. Ora, no Brasil, a regra é estar tudo às avessas. O carnaval é redundante. O Brasil devia ser o país da Quaresma.

Resumindo: o antigo presidente, a actual presidente e o hipotético futuro presidente são investigados pela justiça. Os brasileiros sabem que quem governou, governa e governará é suspeito de ter cometido ilegalidades. Na política brasileira, currículo diz-se "cadastro".

Entretanto, para fugir à justiça, o antigo presidente aceitou o cargo de ministro. Finalmente, um bom exemplo. Os ministros são muitas vezes criticados por irem para o governo com o objectivo de melhorarem a sua própria qualidade de vida. Lula aceita ser ministro para evitar que lhe ofereçam uma morada gratuita, com serviço de dormida e três refeições por dia. Uma lição de abnegação.

Enquanto decorre a luta entre os corruptos que governam e os que desejam governar, os brasileiros interrogam-se acerca da razão pela qual o seu país é o que é. Sem querer ofender o povo irmão, creio que o que se passa é o seguinte: eles são mais ou menos iguais a nós.

Demos novos mundos ao mundo e novas vigarices à vigarice. Nunca fui capaz de verificar esta história, mas dizem que "pimenta", na Índia, se diz "putpari" porque um navegador português terá recorrido a uma expressão que produz um som muito semelhante na primeira vez que provou a especiaria. É um lindo vocábulo que teremos deixado aos indianos, e eles souberam afeiçoá-lo ao seu gosto. No Brasil, deixámos alguma malandragem, e eles desenvolveram-na admiravelmente. Talvez mais ninguém consiga percebê-lo, mas nós sabemos reconhecer vigarice portuguesa. O que se passa é que o Brasil é um Portugal aditivado. Nós somos 10 milhões, eles são 200. O leitor que faça as contas. Sabe o que é viver em Portugal. Agora multiplique por 20. Assustador, não é?

Talvez seja mesmo caso para dizer putpari.

16 abril, 2016

Espantos #470

Quatro das oito equipas nas meias finais das ligas Champions e Europa são espanholas ditando o acaso que não se encontrem nesta ronda da competição. Ou seja, há uma probabilidade não negligenciável de as finais das duas competições (a decorrer em Milão a 18 de Maio e em Basel a 28 de Maio) serem completamente espanholas. O calendário das meias finais (em duas mãos) é:

- Champions 26-27 Abril e 3-4 Maio: Manchester vs Real, Atletico vs Bayern
- Europa 28 de Abril e 5 de Maio: Shaktar vs Sevilha, Villareal vs Liverpool

Numa sala perto de mim #337

Eye in the Sky (2016) on the tough decisions of war against extremist groups in distant locations, its local effects, and collateral damages. Also, Alan Rickman's last movie.

15 abril, 2016

Foi neste dia #282 (1902)

Lembrando Fernando Pessa no dia em que faria 114 anos.

Ditto #325

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.

--Flannery O'Connor

14 abril, 2016

Foi neste dia #281 (1883)

133 years ago Lakmé premiered at the Opera-Comique in Paris. Like other operas of the time, Lakmé is set in the East and captures the exotic oriental ambience through western eyes. 

The soprano duet in the first act enjoyed worldwide popularity in 1989 with a British Airways commercial. The actual aria remained the boarding music on British Airways planes ever since. Here an alternative BA commercial.

Primavera #72

Flowers still around
Flores ainda por cá

13 abril, 2016

Foi neste dia #280 (1987)

Há 29 anos assinava-se em Pequim a Declaração Conjunta Luso-Chinesa sobre a Questão de Macau, que estabeleceu os termos da transferência da soberania do território para a China a 20 de Dezembro de 1999. Iniciava-se pois a derradeira fase do "Império".

12 abril, 2016

Sem título #59

Em 2014, numa entrevista à revista Sábado, Francisco Nicholson disse sobre as suas aristocráticas raízes familiares: "não tenho título nenhum. O meu único título foi ganho pelo Belenenses."

Palavras lidas #273

by Ron Padgett

The mental pictures I have of my parents and grandparents and my
childhood are beginning to break up into small fragments and get
blown away from me into empty space, and the same wind is sucking
me toward it ever so gently, so gently as not even to raise a hair on my
head (though the truth is that there are very few of them to be raised).
I’m starting to take the idea of death as the end of life somewhat harder
than before. I used to wonder why people seemed to think that life is
tragic or sad. Isn’t it also comic and funny? And beyond all that, isn’t
it amazing and marvelous? Yes, but only if you have it. And I am starting
not to have it. The pictures are disintegrating, as if their molecules were
saying, “I’ve had enough,” ready to go somewhere else and form a new
configuration. They betray us, those molecules, we who have loved them.
They treat us like dirt.

11 abril, 2016

Foi neste dia #279 (1357)

Há 659 anos nascia em Lisboa o filho de D. Pedro I com Teresa Lourenço, que viria a subir ao trono como D. João I após a crise de 1383-85 iniciada por morte do seu meio irmão o rei D. Fernando cuja única filha, D. Beatriz, casou com o rei de Castela. 

Note-se que o Mestre de Avis nasceu em 1357, dois anos depois do assassínio de Inês de Castro a quem D. Pedro jurou amor eterno...

10 abril, 2016

Espantos #469

Caminhando no National Mall sexta-feira passada, a atenção fugiu-me para um cartaz publicitário anunciando uma exposição na Galeria Nacional de Arte intitulada Obras primas do mobiliário Americano da colecção Kaufman, 1700-1738... a partir desse momento eu tinha de ver ao vivo aquele luxuoso sofá e olhar com atenção as cores, o trabalho da madeira pintada, as delicadas curvas e o cuidadoso estofamento desta notável peça de mobiliário. Provavelmente passei uns bons dez minutos a apreciá-lo de todos os ângulos possíveis.
Walking on the National Mall last Friday, I was drawn by a picture announcing a new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art titled Masterpieces of American Furniture from the Kaufman collection, 1700-1830... from that moment, I just had to see that luxurious couch and pay close attention to the colors, the painted wood carvings, the delicate curves, and the intricate upholstery of this remarkable piece of furniture. Probably spent a good ten minutes admiring and observing it from every possible angle.

09 abril, 2016

Primavera #71

Recently in Nashville & Washington DC

06 abril, 2016

Palavras lidas #272

The visible and the in-
Marge Piercy

Some people move through your life
like the perfume of peonies, heavy
and sensual and lingering.

Some people move through your life
like the sweet musky scent of cosmos
so delicate if you sniff twice, it’s gone.

Some people occupy your life
like moving men who cart off
couches, pianos and break dishes.

Some people touch you so lightly you
are not sure it happened. Others leave
you flat with footprints on your chest.

Some are like those fall warblers
you can’t tell from each other even
though you search Petersen’s.

Some come down hard on you like
a striking falcon and the scars remain
and you are forever wary of the sky.

We all are waiting rooms at bus
stations where hundreds have passed
through unnoticed and others

have almost burned us down
and others have left us clean and new
and others have just moved in.

05 abril, 2016

Primavera #70

Quantas camadas de pétalas numa flor de cerejeira kanzan?
How many layered petals in a kanzan cherry flower?

04 abril, 2016

Sem título #58

Not my type of shoe, but interesting new ad from Louboutin
Não gosto do sapato, mas gosto da nova publicidade da Louboutin

03 abril, 2016

Espantos #468

Anthony Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly at the Met, live HD in movie theatres today. Remarkable singing (today with Opolais and Alagna), scenery, and visual effects. The Japanese bunraku is perhaps more appropriate to this particularly emotional opera than a 2 year old child.

01 abril, 2016

Primavera #69

And then some green starts to set in
making the yoshino cherries pinker
while their petals shed
but the end is nowhere near as we now have a late cherry variety
the beautiful and petally kanzan!

Ditto #324

Knowledge is good, method is good, but one thing beyond all others is necessary; and that is to have a head, not a pumpkin, on your shoulders and brains, not pudding, in your head.

--A. E. Housman