Septizodium link Circus_Maximus link , Roma, Itália
26 outubro 2016
15 outubro 2016
01 outubro 2016
23 setembro 2016
18 setembro 2016
Under weak Emperors, it is torn apart by generals competing for a worthless and surely death bringing throne. Under strong Emperors, the Empire is frozen into a paralytic rigor in which disintegration apparently ceases for the moment, but only at the sacrifice of all possible growth.
Foundation and Empire, Isaac Asimov
‘Wasn’t it wonderful?’ said Fifi Bradlaugh. ‘Wasn’t it simply wonderful?‘ She looked at Bernard with shining eyes, happy, completely satisfied, at peace with the whole world. ‘Yes, I thought it was wonderful,’ he lied and looked away. The sight of Fifi’s happy face only made him feel his own separateness more keenly. He was as miserably alone now as he had been when the service began more alone because of his unsatisfied desire for something that he could not even describe to himself. Separate and unhappy, while the others were being united with the Greater Being; alone even in Morgana’s arms-much more alone, more hopelessly himself than he had ever been in his life before. He had come out from that blood-red glow into the common, cold light of the electric lamps with a feeling of despair. He was utterly miserable. and perhaps (her shining eyes accused him), perhaps it was his own fault. ‘Quite wonderful,‘ he repeated; but the only thing he could think of was Morgana‘s eyebrow‘ ‘
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
16 setembro 2016
A importância do controlo sobre o petróleo foi compreendida pela primeira vez durante a Primeira Guerra Mundial. Nessa época, a Grã-Bretanha era a maior potência mundial e controlava grande parte dessa região. No entanto, depois da Primeira Guerra a Grã-Bretanha não teve suficiente poderio militar para controlar a região mediante uma ocupação militar directa. Havia entrado em declínio, até ao ponto de já não poder fazê-lo. De maneira que recorreu a outros meios. Um foi o uso de poder aéreo, e também dos gases tóxicos, considerados a máxima atrocidade nessa época. O seu adepto mais entusiasta foi Winston Churchill, que apelou para a utilização de gases tóxicos contra os curdos e os afegãos.
Juntamente com a componente militar do controlo, também houve arranjos políticos, que de alguma maneira persistem. Durante a Primeira Guerra Mundial, o Colonial Office britânico propôs e depois aplicou um plano para construir o que apodaram de «fachada árabe»: Estados fracos e acomodatícios que administrariam as populações locais, em última instância sob controlo britânico, no caso de perderem o controlo. Nessa época a França também se envolveu era uma potência bastante importante e da mesma forma que os Estados Unidos que, ainda que não fossem uma potência dominante nos assuntos mundiais, eram suficientemente poderosos para participar de algum modo nessa actividade. Os três concluíram o acordo da Linha Vermelha, em 1928, em que dividiram as reservas de petróleo do Médio Oriente entre as três potências. Quem estava visivelmente ausente eram os povos da região. Mas esta era controlada pela fachada, com a força bruta sempre pronta a entrar em acção. Esse foi o arranjo básico.
Iraque Assalto ao Médio Oriente - Noam Chomsky
In the wild a plant and its pests are continually coevolving, in a dance of resistance and conquest that can have no ultimate victory. But coevolution ceases in an orchard of grafted trees, since they are genetically identical from generation to generation. The problem very simply is that the apple trees no longer reproduce sexually, as they do when they’re grown from seed, and sex is nature’s way of creating fresh genetic combinations. At the same time the viruses, bacteria, fungi, and insects keep very much at it, reproducing sexually and continuing to evolve until eventually they hit on the precise genetic combination that allowsthem to overcome whatever resistance the apples may have once possessed. Suddenly total victory is in the pests’ sight-unless, that is, people come to the tree’s rescue, wielding the tools of modern chemistry.
The Botany of desire - Michael Pollan
08 setembro 2016
Como vêem, é levíssimo. Uma milha quadrada pesa somente uma tonelada e pode recolher cinco libras de pressão de radiação. Portanto, começará a mover-se, e podemos conseguir que nos reboque, se lhe ligarmos o cordoame apropriado. Sem dúvida que a aceleração será pequena, cerca de um milésimo de g. Em todo o caso, vejamos o que significa, independentemente de parecer pouco. No primeiro segundo,mover-nos-emos cerca de um quinto de polegada, velocidade decerto ultrapassável «por um caracol. Mas, passado um minuto, teremos coberto sessenta pés e deslocar-nos-emos a uma milha por hora, o que não se pode considerar mau para algo impelido apenas pelos raios solares., Após uma hora, achar-nos-emos a quarenta milhas do ponto de partida e mover-nos-emos a oitenta milhas horárias, Não esqueçam que no Espaço não há atrito, pelo que assim que começarmos a deslocar-nos já não pararemos, Ficarão surpreendidos quando lhes revelar o que o nosso navio à vela de um milésimo de g conseguirá ao cabo de um dia de corrida. Quase duas mil milhas por hora! Se começar em órbita, como sucederá, sem dúvida, poderá atingir a velocidade de escape em dois dias. E tudo isto sem consumir uma única gota de combustível!
Regata no espaço - Arthur C. Clarke - Uma infinidade de estrelas
07 setembro 2016
The open Southern Ocean is 8 million square miles of nutrient. rich water, fed by the most Vigorous upwelling currents in the world, with temperatures no colder and sunlight no fainter than near the coast, but for lack of iron the phytoplankton do not bloom. Yet as Martin soon found out, that was not always true in the past. Not long before Martin had gotten interested in the subject, French and Russian researchers had extracted a two-kilometre-deep core from the Antarctic ice a frozen record of Earth’s atmosphere through the last ice age and beyond. That core showed, as had previous ice cores, that the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere had been much lower at the peak of the last glaciation, 18,000 years ago: only 200 parts per million, compared with 280 parts per million in the preindustrial nineteenth century and 360 parts per million today. At the same time, though, the amount of dust falling onto Antarctica was between 10 and 20 times greater. The world was drier during the ice age, with vast tropical deserts and stronger winds that carried dust off the deserts and out over the sea. Along the whole length of the ice core, Martin noticed, atmospheric carbon dioxide and atmospheric dust fluctuated in counterpoint; one went up when the other went down.
For Martin the explanation was simple: whenever a lot of ironrich dust had fallen out of the atmosphere, the Southern Ocean phytoplankton had been cured of their anaemia, and the massive blooms that ensued had drawn carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That is what made the world colder during the ice age: the phytoplankton did it. By blooming to their full potential and converting all the available nitrate into organic matter, they drew two billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the surface water, which drew it out of the atmosphere.
Mapping the Deep - Robert Kunzig
The fact, simply, is this: apples don’t “come true” from seeds-that is, an apple tree grown from a seed will be a wildling bearing little resemblance to its parent. Anyone who wants edible apples plants grafted trees, for the fruit of seedling apples is almost always inedible-“sour enoug ,” Thoreau once wrote, “to set a squirrel’s teeth on edge and make a jay scream.” Thoreau claimed to like the taste of such apples, but most of his countrymen judged them good for little but hard cider-and hard cider was the fate of most apples grown in America up until Prohibition. Apples were something people drank. The reason people in Brilliant wanted John Chapman to stay and plant a nursery was the same reason he would soon be welcome in every cabin in Ohio: Johnny Appleseed was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier.
The Botany of desire - Michael Pollan
05 setembro 2016
Mr. Sen’s major finding is striking: The world’s worst famines are not caused by crop failure; they are caused by faulty political systems that prevent the market from correcting itself. Relatively minor agricultural disturbances become catastrophes because imports are not allowed, or prices are not allowed to rise, or farmers are not allowed to grow alternative crops, or politics in some other way interferes with the market’s normal ability to correct itself. He writes, “[Famines] have never materialized in any country that is independent, that goes to elections regularly, that has opposition parties to voice criticisms and that permits newspapers to report freely and question the wisdom of government policies without extensive censorship.” China had the largest recorded famine in history; thirty million people died as the result of the failed Great Leap Forward in 1958-61. India has not had a famine since independence in 1947.
Naked Economics - Charles Wheelan
04 setembro 2016
“There is an old fable,” said Hardin, “as old perhaps as humanity, for the oldest records containing it are merely copies of other records still older, that might interest you. It runs as follows:
“A horse having a wolf as a poWerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the man’s disposal. The horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him. The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him.
“The horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: ‘Now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.’
“Whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, ‘Never!’ and applied the spurs with a will.”
Foundation - Isaac Asimov
28 agosto 2016
maré vazante, viveiros ria Aveiro
Not long ago, researchers for the first time connected oxytocin with why some animals are naturally monogamous and others are not. Only about 3 percent of nonhuman mammals form monogamous bonds; the majority mate with many different partners. Some species of prairie voles form long-lasting pair-bonds (sometimes for life). They share nests, avoid meeting other potential mates, and rear their offspring together. Closely related to the monogamous prairie voles are the montane voles, which display a very different mating style. They do not form pair-bonds, and the males are uninterested and uninvolved in parental care. Female montane voles are not exactly devoted parents either-they abandon their of spring shortly after birth.
Given that these two species of voles share 99 percent of the same genes, making them very genetically similar, why do they behave so differently? As it turns out, the voles differ greatly in how they produce and process oxytocin and vasopressin. The attachment-prone, faithful prairie voles have a lot more of these bonding hormones and have a denser supply of receptors in the brain that can detect and use them.
Why women have sex - Cindy M. Meston
27 agosto 2016
When last we saw the Apaches, they were dominating the Southwest. The Spanish tried in vain to control them, and the Mexicans who followed had no better luck. When the Americans took control of the region, they too foundered. In fact, the Apaches remained a significant threat well into the twentieth century. But then the tide turned. The Americans prevailed. [..] Here’s what broke Apache society: the Americans gave the Nant’ans cattle. It was that simple. Once the Nant‘ans had possession of a scarce resource-cows-their power shifted from symbolic to material. Where previously, the Nant’ans had led by example, now they could reward and punish tribe members by giving and withholding this resource.
The cows changed everything. Once the Nant’ans gained authoritative power, they began fighting each other for seats on newly created tribal councils [...] Tribe members began lobbying the Nant’ans for more resources and became upset if the allocations didn’t work out in their favor. The power structure, once fiat, became hierarchical, with power concentrated at the top. This broke down Apache society. Nevins refleets, “The Apache have a central government now, but I think personally that it’s a disaster for them because it creates a zerosum battle over resources between lineages.” With a more rigid power structure, the Apaches became similar to the Aztecs, and the Americans were able to control them.
The Starfish and the Spider - Ori Bradman, Ron A. Beckstorm
21 agosto 2016
Mr. Duncan, who told our class about how the Roman Empire swept across southern Europe. He recounted in hushed tones how the Romans built hierarchical social and political structures and heavily centralized systems for managing their vast empire. The boundaries between the different classes were strict and legally enforced. Members of different classes even dressed differently. Only the emperor was allowed to wear a purple toga, while senators could wear a white toga with a broad purple stripe along the edge, and equestrians, who ranked just below the senators, wore togas with a narrow purple stripe. The class of the person was therefore noticeable at first glimpse. So a first historical point is that the countries that fell under the influence of the Roman Empire (including Spain, Italy, and, to a lesser degree, France) tend to be more hierarchical than the rest of Western Europe. Although your Italian boss is unlikely to wear a purple toga, invisible and subtle remnants of these attitudes still remain today.
The second clue relates to a much later European empire, one that dominated the northern part of the continent to almost as great an extent as the Roman Empire dominated the south. When you think of the Vikings, you may think of hulking muscular men With long walrus mustaches and hats with horns, riding big ships and waging bloody wars. What you may not know is that the Vikings were surprisingly egalitarian. When settling in Iceland, they founded one of the world’s early democracies. The entire community was invited to the debating hall to thrash out the hot topics of the day, followed by a vote, with each person’s opinion carrying equal weight. Legend has it that, when the Prince of Franks sent an envoy from southern Europe to negotiate with the Vikings, the puzzled envoy returned confused and disheartened, complaining, ”I couldn’t figure out who to talk with. They said they were all the chiefs.”
The countries most influenced by the Vikings consistently rank as some of the most egalitarian and consensus-oriented cultures in the world today. So it is no surprise that, even today, when you walk into a meeting room in Copenhagen or Stockholm, it is often impossible to spot the boss.
Our third historical clue relates to the distance between the people and God in particular religions. Countries with Protestant cultures tend to fall further to the egalitarian side of the scale than those with a more Catholic tradition. One interpretation of this pattern is that the Protestant Reformation largely removed the traditional hierarchy from the church. In many strains of Protestantism, the individual speaks directly to God instead of speaking to God through the priest, the bishop, and the pope. Thus, it’s natural that societies in which Protestant religions predominate tend to be more egalitarian than those dominated by Catholicism.
The Culture Map - Erin Meyer
Such an atmosphere, with its multiple sources of unreliable information, stoked by fear and hatred, bred rumours of the wildest and most arcane variety. Plague was part of a sinister evangelical plot, some claimed, evidence of a government bent on ‘destroying caste and religious observances, with the ultimate design of forcing Christianity on the natives of India’. Others pointed to ‘proof’ that the government was in the process of poisoning the people: according to one newspaper report, ‘six bags of snakes and other worms have been ground [up] and dissolved in the water-pipe at Cawnpore to bring on plague among consumers’. Inside the scrubbed-white wards of plague hospitals all manner of horrors were said to be perpetrated: workers at the Arthur Road Hospital were quoted in one article as believing there to have been ‘something diabolical’ about a hospital ‘which claimed so many victims’: patients, it was said, were bled to death through the soles of their feet. There were even rumours that under every hospital bed was an ‘oil mill’ to grind the patient into ointment for use on Europeans: the plague inspection sheds at railway stations housed, by logical and paranoid extension, ‘big machines’ for compressing this valuable medicinal ooze from the bodies of innocent Indians.
The Plague Race - Edward Marriott
07 agosto 2016
That first map was only of the gravity field but to anyone who had ever seen a map of seafloor topography, its broad outlines looked familiar. That should not be surprising: insofar as mountains tend to have more mass than valleys, topography generates gravity, “If you put a mountain on the seafloor,” explains Smith, “the extra material represented by the rocks in that mountain add their ovm gravity to the overall field. If you’re right above the mountain, the added gravity pulls down in the same direction, and so it adds to the magnitude of gravity. But if you’re off to one side of the mountain, the gravitational field of the mountain pulls toward the mountain, and so the effect is to change the direction of gravity 3 little bit.” The sea surface, acting as a carpenter’s level, follows these changes; it becomes like an attenuated visual echo of the seafloor, piling up over mountains, dipping down over trenches.
Mapping The Deep - Robert Kunzig
Statsraad Lehmkuhl link Santa Maria Manuela link Caravela Vera Cruz link Creoula link
Ílhavo Sea Festival
Today the greatest divide within humanity is not between races, or religions, or even, as widely believed, between the literate and illiterate. It is the chasm that separates scientific from prescientihc cultures. Without the instruments and accumulated knowledge of the natural sciences-physics, chemistry, and biology-humans are trapped in a cognitive prison. They are like intelligent fish born in a deep, shadowed pool. Wondering and restless, longing to reach out, they think about the world outside. They invent ingenious speculations and myths about the origin of the confining waters, of the sun and the sky and the stars above, and the meaning of their own existence. But they are wrong, always wrong, because the world is too remote from ordinary experience to be merely imagined.
Science is neither a philosophy nor a belief system. It is a combination of mental operations that has become increasingly the habit of educated peoples, a culture of illuminations hit upon by a fortunate turn of history that yielded the most effective way of learning about the real world ever conceived.
Consilience - E. O. Wilson
01 agosto 2016
There would have been a lake. There would have been an arbor in flame-flower. There would have been nature studies-a tiger pursuing a bird of paradise, a choking snake sheathing whole the flayed trunk of a shoat. There would have been a sultan, his face expressing great agony (belied, as it were, by his molding caress), helping a callypygean slave child to climb a column of onyx. There would have been those luminous globules of gonadal glow that travel up the opalescent sides of juke boxes. There would have been all kinds of camp activities on the part of the intermediate group, Canoeing, Coranting, Combing Curls in the lakeside sun. There would have been poplars, apples, a suburban Sunday. There would have been a fire opal dissolving within a ripple-ringed pool, a last throb, a last dab of color, stinging red, smarting pink, a sigh, a wincing child. '
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
25 julho 2016
"I want to call mother in that hospital, what's the number?"
"Get in,” I said. "You can’t call that number"
"Get in and slam the door.”
She got in and slammed the door. The old garage man beamed at her. I swung onto the highway.
"Why can’t I call my mother if I want to?”
“Because,” I answered, “your mother is dead.»
In the gay town of Lepingville I bought her four books of comics, a box of candy, a box of sanitary pads, two cokes, a manicure set, a travel clock with a luminous dial, a ring with a real topaz, a tennis racket, roller skates with white high shoes, field glasses, a portable radio set, chewing gum, a transparent raincoat, sunglasses, some more garmentsswooners, shorts, all kinds of summer frocks. At the hotel we had separate rooms, but in the middle of the night she came sobbing into mine, and we made it up very gently. You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go.
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
In one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, Walter Mischel and his students exposed four-year-old children to a cruel dilemma. They were given a choice between a small reward (one Oreo), which they could have at any time, or a larger reward (two cookies) for which they had to wait 15 minutes under dificult conditions. They were to remain alone in a room, facing a desk with two objects: a single cookie and a bell that the child could ring at any time to call in the experimenter and receive the one cookie. As the experiment was described: “There were no toys, books, pictures, or other potentially distracting items in the room. The experimenter left the room and did not return until 15 min had passed or the child had rung the bell, eaten the rewards, stood up, or shown any signs of distress.”
The children were watched through a one-way mirror, and the iilm that shows their behavior during the waiting time always has the audience roaring in laughter. About half the children managed the feat of waiting for 15 minutes, mainly by keeping their attention away from the tempting reward. Ten or fifteen years later, a large gap had opened between those who had resisted temptation and those who had not. The resisters had higher measures of executive control in cognitive tasks, and especially the ability to reallocate their attention effectively As young adults, they were less likely to take drugs. A significant difference in intellectual aptitude emerged: the children who had shown more self-control as four-year-olds had substantially higher scores on tests of intelligence.
Thinking, fast and slow - Daniel Kahneman
22 julho 2016
It wasn’t until Handwerker came up with a clever new ploy that his hot dogs really started selling. He recruited doctors from a nearby hospital to stand by his shop eating his hot dogs while wearing their white coats and stethoscopes. Because people place a high value on physicians, customers figured if doctors were eating there, the food had to be good. So they soon started buying from Handwerker, and his “Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs” took off. It makes you wonder just how many times
Sway - Ori Brafman, Rom Brafman
An officer with a partner is no safer than an officer on his own. Just as important, two-officer teams are more likely to have complaints filed against them. With two officers, encounters with citizens are far more likely to end in an arrest or an injury to whomever they are arresting or a charge of assaulting a police officer. Why? Because when police officers are by themselves, they slow things down, and when they are with someone else, they speed things up. “All cops want two-man cars,” says de Becker. “You have a buddy, someone to talk to. But one-man cars get into less trouble because you reduce bravado. A cop by himself makes an approach that is entirely different. He is not as prone to ambush. He doesn’t charge in. He says, ‘I’m going to wait for the other cops to arrive.’ He acts more kindly. He allows more time.”
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
17 julho 2016
Gottman has found, in fact, that the presence of contempt in a marriage can even predict such things as how many colds a husband or a wife gets; in other words, having someone you love express contempt toward you is so stressful that it begins to affect the functioning of your immune system. “Contempt is closely related to disgust, and what disgust and contempt are about is completely rejecting and excluding someone from the community. The big gender difference with negative emotions is that women are more critical, and men are more likely to stonewall. We find that women start talking about a problem, the men get irritated and turn away, and the women get more critical, and it becomes a circle. But there isn’t any gender difference when it comes to contempt. Not at all.” Contempt is special. If you can measure contempt, then all of a sudden you don’t need to know every detail of the couple’s relationship.
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
16 julho 2016
o baterista de Jazz David Aldridge aborda estes temas num livro intitulado Rhythm Man:
Comecei a tocar percussão nos tabliers dos automóveis seguindo os ritmos, deixando-me ir com eles, enquanto não me saía dos ouvidos [...] O ritmo e a síndrome de Tourette combinaram-se para mim desde o primeiro dia em que descobri que fazer bateria do tampo de uma mesa me permitia disfarçar os movimentos que me sacudiam as mãos, as pernas e o pescoço [...] Esta maneira de disfarçar que eu acabava de descobrir fazia-me controlar a minha energia solta, canalizando-a numa corrente ordenada [...] Esta «explosão autorizada» levava-me a encontrar grandes reservas de sons e de sensações físicas, e fez-me compreender que tinha nisso, diante de mim, o meu destino. Seria um homem do ritmo.
Musicofilia Oliver Sacks
Here’s how Nisbett and Cohen explain the cultural differences. Cultures of honor, such as the American South, are characterized by a common point of origin. They develop in situations where individuals have to take the law into their own hands because there is no formal law in place to guard against competitors who can steal valuable resources. A psychology of violence emerges. You can steal domestic herding animals (cattle, goats, horses, sheep), but you can’t steal farming crops-you, of course, could steal some potatoes or carrots, but not enough to make a serious dent in the owner’s resources. Cultures of honor therefore tend to develop among herding peoples, not farmers with crops. Many of these cultures have emerged over history and across the continents, including such herding peoples as the Zuni Indians of North America, the Andalusians of southern Spain, Kabyle of Algeria, Sarakatsani of Greece, and Bedouins of the Middle East.
Moral Minds, Marc D. Hauser
Condon spent a year and a half on that short segment of film, until, finally, in his peripheral vision, he saw What he had always sensed was there: “the wife turning her head exactly as the husband’s hands came up.” From there he picked up other micromovements, other patterns that occurred over and over again, until he realized that in addition to talking and listening, the three people around the table were also engaging in what he termed “interactional synchrony.” Their conversation had a rhythmic physical dimension. Each person would, within the space of one or two or three 1/45 th-of-a-second frames, move a shoulder or cheek or an eyebrow or a hand, sustain that movement, stop it, change direction, and start again. And what’s more, those movements were perfectly in time to each person’s own words -emphasizing and underlining and elaborating on the process of articulation -so that the speaker was, in effect, dancing to his or her own speech. At the same time the other people around the table were dancing along as well, moving their faces and shoulders and hands and bodies to the same rhythm. It’s not that everyone was moving the same way, any more than people dancing to a song all dance the same way. It’s that the timing of stops and starts of each person’s micromovements -the jump and shifts of body and face were perfectly in harmony. Subsequent research has revealed that it isn’t just gesture that is harmonized, but also conversational rhythm. When two people talk, their volume and pitch fall into balance. What linguists call speech rate -the number of speech sounds per secondequalizes. So does what is known as latency, the period of time that lapses between the moment one speaker stops talking and the moment the other speaker begins. Two people may arrive at a conversation with very different conversational patterns. But almost instantly they reach a common ground. We all do it, all the time. Babies as young as one or two days old synchronize their head, elbow, shoulder, hip, and foot movements with the speech patterns of adults. Synchrony has even been found in the interactions of humans and apes. It’s part of the way we are hardwired.
The tipping point - Malcom Gladwell
15 julho 2016
The historian William Cronon, nom whose book Changes in the Land these quotations are taken, concludes: Indian burning promoted the increase of exactly those species whose abundance so impressed English colonists: elk, deer, beaver, hare, porcupine, turkey, quail, ruffed grouse, and so on. When these populations increased, so did the carnivorous eagles, hawks, lynxes, foxes, and wolves. In short, Indians who hunted game animals were not just taking the ‘unplanted bounties of nature’; in an important sense, they were harvesting a foodstuff which they had consciously been instrumental in creating. When later generations of European colonists began to penetrate into the Midwest of North America, they came across a very different landscape: the prairies. The endless open spaces, inhabited by large herds of buffalo, seemed to them to be primeval. However, the nature of this landscape was largely the result of the burning practices of Indian hunters, who had been systematically burning down tracts of forest in order to create more grassland for buffaloes and other herbivores. As the historian Stephen Pyne observes in his book Fire in America, ‘except for the High Plains, where the short grass expanses were more or less determined by climate, nearly all these grasslands were created by man, the product of deliberate, routine frring’.Whenever, in our own time, a piece of prairieland was left to itself instead of being subjected to regular burning and grazing, the grasses were soon overgrown by trees and the prairie spontaneously reconverted to forest.
Fire and civilization - Johan Goudsblom
A RTP anterior ao 25 de Abril era um medium paradoxal. Por um lado, cumpria por inteiro nos noticiários a função de megafone do regime salazarista-marcelista. O próprio chefe do Governo, Marcelo Caetano, apologista da TV, usava a seu bel-prazer a RTP, que ajudara a criar, com as suas Conversas em Família, que não eram nem conversas nem em família, antes prelecções, em forma de aulas de cátedra para o povo. Antes dele, Salazar desconfiara da TV, com razão, pois o medium podia facilmente destruir o seu mito, a custo construído, de ditador à distância. Defensor da forma de comunicação do medium, Caetano não discursava, como fizera Salazar, antes simulava “conversar” com alguém que, todavia, não intervinha na “conversa”. As prelecções políticas do chefe do Governo terão criado um efeito contrário ao desejado: ao “naturalizarem” o primeiro-ministro, tomavam-no vulnerável. Ao querer distinguir-se de Salazar, Caetano enfraquecia a aura de distância e de génio solitário que o seu antecessor criara. Por outro lado, com liberdade de escolha dos programas (não se comparava com a TV dos regimes de tipo soviético), a TV portuguesa abria horizontes aos espectadores. As séries estrangeiras mostravam outros mundos, culturas, regimes, amiúde mais livres. Os programas portugueses, mesmo se apolíticos, eram instâncias dialógicas; o diálogo contradizia, pela sua mera existência, a unicidade e a verticalidade da mensagem política do regime. Nesse sentido, Zip-Zip foi uma pequena revolução comunicacional. Era gravado em “falso directo” perante uma audiência ao vivo, no formato hoje chamado talk show, e apresentado dias depois. Pelo humor de Raul Solnado, falava de questões de actualidade, não directamente políticas.
Eduardo Cintra Torres, A Televisão e o Serviço Público
08 julho 2016
Antes do século XX, a versão fundamentalista do islamismo dos salafitas era pouco atractiva fora do deserto arábico. Já não é assim. Os que se dedicam à difusão do salafismo, financiados pelos petrodólares da Arábia Saudita, tiveram um grande impacto na forma como muitos muçulmanos comuns interpretam hoje a sua fé, assim como na forma como se relacionam com as outras religiões e com os muçulmanos menos ortodoxos e os não-sunitas, em especial os xiitas. Controlado pelos extremistas islâmicos, este salafismo financiado pelo petróleo serviu como justificação ideológica para a jihad violenta, que tem por objectivo reinstaurar o califado islâmico do século VII, e impulsionou grupos como a al-Qaeda, o Hamas e as brigadas de bombistas suicidas sunitas do Iraque, da Palestina e do Paquistão.
A motivação saudita para exportar o islamismo salafita tornou-se ainda maior depois de radicais fundamentalistas terem desafiado as credenciais muçulmanas da família saudita no poder ao assumirem o controlo da Grande Mesquita de Meca em 1979 o ano em que, por coincidência, se deu a revolução iraniana e houve um elevado aumento dos preços do petróleo. Como Lawrence Wright sublinha na sua história sobre a al-Qaeda,A Torre da Derasosrego':
O ataque à Grande Mesquita (...) despertou a família real para a efectiva possibilidade de uma revolução. A lição que a família retirou daquele impasse sangrento é que apenas poderia proteger-se contra extremistas islâmicos dando-lhes mais poder. (...) Consequentemente, os muttawa, vigilantes religiosos subsidiados pelo governo, tornaram-se uma presença esmagadora no Reino, vagueando pelos centros comerciais e restaurantes, perseguindo os homens para irem à mesquita nas horas da oração e garantindo que as mulheres estavam devidamente cobertas.
Não contente com a opressão, no seu próprio país, do mais pequeno grau de liberdade religiosa, o governo saudita partiu para a evangelização do mundo islâmico, utilizando os milhares de milhões de rials ao seu dispor através do imposto religioso - o zakat - para construir centenas de mesquitas e universidades c milhares de escolas religiosas em todo o mundo, com imãs wahhbita e professores. Assim, a Arábia Saudita, que representa apenas um por cento da população mundial muçulmana, apoiaria 90 por cento dos encargos de toda a religião, anulando as outras tradições islâmicas. A música desapareceu do Reino. A censura abafou a arte e a literatura; e a vida intelectual -que quase não teve possibilidade de florescer no jovem país atrofiou. A paranóia e o fanatismo ocupam naturalmente as mentes fechadas e receosas.
Quente, plano e cheio - Thomas L. Friedman
02 julho 2016
he also disapproved of whining because he understood that it is contagious and destructive. Comparing notes on how unfair or difficult or ridiculous something is does promote bonding-and sometimes that’s why griping continues, because it’s reinforcing an us-against-the-world feeling. Very quickly, though, the warmth of unity morphs to the sourness of resentment, which makes hardships seem even more intolerable and doesn’t help get the job done. Whining is the antithesis of expeditionary behavior, which is all about rallying the troops around a common goal.
An astronaut's guide to life on earth - Chris Hadfield
29 junho 2016
Protestos Iranianos contra Hassan Rouhani link
The myth of the noble savage had emerged from the accounts of the first French explorers of the Pacific, but in reality the South Seas were full of discord. At the time of Cook’s first expedition, Tahiti and its neighbours were in turmoil as the cult of ‘Oro spread from its temple on the island of Ra’eatea. There, bodies were used as rollers under the keels of sacred canoes and Captain Cook himselfvisited a coral pyramid where human bones crunched beneath his feet. Again and again he came across cannibals, although he was generous enough to note that their habit appeared ‘to come from custom and not from a Savage disposission’.
Savagery, inborn or through custom, began soon after people arrived in the Pacific. Two millennia ago it took just a few centuries for the first migrants to Mangaia in the Cook Islands to consume the local wildlife. In time they were reduced to eating rats (as the islanders still say, ‘It’s as sweet as a rat’). Then they began to devour each other. On Mangaia’s six square miles lived half a dozen tribes, who fought, fought and fought again, With evidence of forty-two separate wars over fifteen hundred years. Rousseau would not have approved.
Evolution Darwin’s ‘doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms’ is cruel, but can give the impression of being kind. Many creatures do appear to indulge in mutual aid.
CORAL: A Pessimist in Paradise Steve Jones
28 junho 2016
LADY BRACKNELL. I rely on you to arrange my music for me. It is my last reception, and one wants something that will encourage conversation, particularly at the end of the season when everyone has practically said whatever they had to say, which, in most cases, was probably not much.
ALGERNON. Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don’t listen, and if one plays bad music, people don’t talk.
The importance of being Earnest - Oscar Wilde
24 junho 2016
Fruit flies and nematode worms have long been the workhorse of biology, for they share many genes with humans and can be bred with ease. In fact, the double helix shows that each of those laboratory stalwarts is less like us than was once assumed as for reasons quite unknown both have, on the long road from the Pre-Cambrian, lost even more inherited information than we ourselves have. As a result, each is left with a unique and diminished identity of its own and corals have more distinctly human genes than either of them.
The big step forward made by humans or flies compared to polyps is that we have an anus: every one of us, however eminent, is a tenametre tube through which food flows, for most of the time, in one direction. Hydra and its kin are in contrast mere sacs, obliged to suck in sustenance and throw out waste from a single hole.
Corals - Steve Jones