May 16, 2019

em Português

Nigel could not believe his luck — the year was coming to an end and the Prime Minister’s deal was soundly rejected by Parliament. There was no plan to leave the European Union and the United Kingdom could not make it to the pre-ordained leave date. And best of all: Nigel could once again stand for European Parliamentary elections!

After the success of the Brexit referendum, Nigel Farage quickly abandoned the UKIP leadership and sailed off to new adventures. His life goal had been achieved: getting the U.K. out of the European Union. Nominally, at least, but he needn't worry about the implementation details, that was for BoJo and company, for Nigel, after all, is not a politician. He would nevertheless stay in the European Parliament, to continue not being a politician and, one assumes, to oversee the success of the project from within. If that was his purpose, he failed, but he successful ensured that he would collect an MEP salary for the remainder of the time.

Farage is the epitome of the insignificant significant. His party garnered enough support to rank well in the popular vote, yet he never managed to get elected to Parliament. Yet, in the European elections he flourished, having sat in the EU parliament for twenty years. His message was clear: the U.K. should leave the European Union, if not for other purposes, to at least regain its lost freedom. Or so he told us.

After the Brexit vote, Farage could no longer be bothered. Instead he crossed the Atlantic to become a sycophant for the American President, he hosted a radio show for nights a week, for some reason he backed American Senate candidates accused of child molestation, he became an independent, he was busy collecting signatures of European prominent individuals to nominate the American President for the Nobel Peace prize for having had a meeting in Singapore, and, one assumes, continued to root for Britain to leave the European Union.

Yet Brexit didn't happen. At least not on the date it should have. The government was set to enact a withdrawal agreement that it had negotiated with the E.U., but Parliament, stubbornly, would not pass it. Everyone knew what they did not want, yet no one was ever capable of putting a proposal that could garner meaningful support. Theresa May, however unwittingly, was making plans for Nigel.

«"Am I happy about it? No, I'm not," Farage said on TV. "Actually I've got many other things in my life I'd like to do. I thought we'd won the Brexit battle…but after 25 years I'm not going to watch British politicians roll us over. No, this is the fight back and they are going to be very surprised by what they get.”» Oh Nigel, we all know you don't. We all know you are overjoyed, filled to the brim with contentment. Like an old soldier that just needs to go back to the battlefield, Nigel's life finally has a purpose again.

May was busy making plans for Nigel. She failed miserably. Everyone had failed miserably. The Brexiters could not ensure that Britain exited. The Remainers could not find a path to revoke Brexit. And the ones in the middle could not find a cohesive strategy capable of garnering enough support.

Enters the Brexit Party, which embodies the perfect representation of nothingness. Not being UKIP allowed Farage to shed the racist layer: the right wing nuts stayed behind – despite even the founder of the Brexit Party having left on account of racist utterances. It's a new party; so new that its name is a word that didn't exist five years ago.

It is also the epitome of the single-issue party: to leave the E.U. — it is on the name. A brief consultation of their website shows precisely that: “Britain can do better than this”; “Change politics for good” – great! But how? Crickets. Nothing. Not a single word.

When you’re vague enough, you can gather a lot of support, because, as they say, the devil is in details. If you don't have to define the details, well then there's many that can agree to the top level statement — we already know that: 17 million Britons votes to leave the European Union. Just no one ever agreed on how.

Farage has said he wants a no deal Brexit, on WTO rules, whatever that means. And what about the Irish border? Nothing. Not a modicum of strategy, not a word in implementation.

Yet Farage was given a golden opportunity to replay his one hit wonder moment. Like an incapable dying rock band given a lifeline, he can only go back to his one time hit single. Yet, Farage has his future in British steel: “no more mister nice guy”.

The outcome is predictable: he will win the the European Parliamentary elections with no roadmap for the U.K. to exit the European Union; his party will not have a coherent message and of it survives until the next general election, he will he incapable of gaining meaningful parliamentary presence, and what meagre results they get, Farage will undoubtedly once again exit the scene whenever tough decisions have to be made.

Nigel just needs this helping hand. And if young Nigel says he's happy, He must be happy, He must be happy in his work.

May 16, 2019   ·   em Português

August 18, 2016

em Português

When you think the web is bloated (and it is), remember: there were no ad blockers in 1964.

First 24 pages of a New York Times edition, from October 1964.

August 18, 2016   ·   em Português

May 30, 2014

em Português

Mayor Bloomberg wrote an op-ed titled “Don’t Major in Intolerance” denouncing the latest protests of students against commencement speakers that led to colleges rescinding the invitations or the speakers withdrawing themselves.

I too believe that the freedom of speech is inviolable and a pillar of democracy. But when students protest against a speaker like Condoleezza Rice that is not an act against liberty and constitutional rights.

Secretary Rice, one should note, does not lack outlets for expressing her ideas or views. Quite the contrary, like most high profile commencement speakers, she has more exposure than most. So what about students protesting? Well, in a normal conference, one could just not clap, boo her, or simply leave. However, in this case it’s a commencement ceremony. It’s their own party, to celebrate their achievements and mark the start of their new lives. Why would they choose to boo someone at their own event, or even consider not attending?

Furthermore, a commencement speech aims to inspire and lead through example, emphasizing moral and ethical values. I do think Secretary Rice has many merits as a person and a scholar. But why would I want a member of an administration that admitted to lying to the world and the UN with the purpose of starting a war, to pontificate to me on moral and ethical values, at my own commencement ceremony? And don’t make this a right-versus-left issue. I would expect the same reaction by the same students to Tony Blair.

Mayor Bloomberg remarks, “I believe that a university’s obligation is not to teach students what to think, but to teach students how to think.” In my view that’s exactly what the students did here. At the end of this educational step – a significant one – they chose to act against ideas they don’t agree with, that were about to be forced to them at their own celebration. If these acts represented the opinion of the majority of the graduating class, then my salute to them.

May 30, 2014   ·   em Português

April 16, 2013

em Português

Today, Danijela had just arrived from New York City and we went to have something to eat at a Thai place, next to our place, in Fenway. The day was nice and warm, with Spring finally showing herself here in Boston. During lunch we heard two explosions. I thought it was strange and maybe they were from some nearby construction. But today it’s a holiday, so it probably couldn’t be from one. Today was marathon day — the Boston marathon — and earlier there had been a Sox game. There were plenty of people on the streets, enjoying the holiday and the weather. I had passed over the runners that were going through the Commonwealth Ave. tunnel a few hours later. Danijela, who is Croatian, said the booms sounded like this cannon in Zagreb that goes off every noon. I only realized what was happening a few minutes later when the 8 o’clock news were showing in Portugal and some friends were calling to know if we were ok. Only then I knew there had been a bombing at the finish line, two blocks away from our previous apartment, in front of the Portuguese consulate, in front of the window of a shop where I bought a pair of glasses. The remainder of the day was depressive. It is not that the magnitude of the the attack was enormous, but like a shooting at a school, it was perpetrated against a community of people that had peacefully gathered. A day when people stop, go outside, enjoy life. And now we all feel a little less safe, in a world that definitely did not need this.

April 16, 2013   ·   em Português

April 13, 2013

em Português

Oh my, it’s Portugal in the spotlight! But… wait… why are the lights being turned on in Paris and Barcelona after Madrid or Lisbon? Oh my, it seem the Earth spins the other way around! But then again, it’s right at the end of the clip. Is it the Sun that’s acting up? I think the good people of Universal are universally confused.

April 13, 2013   ·   em Português

April 10, 2013

em Português

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.
Washington, The Farewell Address

April 10, 2013   ·   em Português

September 21, 2012

em Português

Test of multilingual. Not really available in English. Yet.

September 21, 2012   ·   em Português