Saturday, July 31, 2010

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Being Remembered on the Silver Screen in a New Documentary

There is a documentary film coming out that tells the life story of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. The film is called "Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All".

"Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All" is a one-hour documentary that tells the story of Sheen and the tremendous impact he had on individuals, the Catholic community, the American public, and the world. Divided into five main sections, the film uses still images, video footage and interviews with those who knew Sheen to tell the story of this remarkable man, gifted teacher, missionary, priest, and loyal son of the Church.

Learning. Tells the story of Sheen’s early years, from birth to ordination, including his early academic and debating successes, which set the stage for his accomplishments to come. The section ends with his ordination and lifelong commitment to the Holy Hour and the Eucharist.

Teaching. Begins with his return to Peoria, Ill., and his service as a parish priest. Covers his years as a professor and author, the beginnings of his missionary focus as he traveled the world, and the start of his media career with the Catholic Hour radio show.

Preaching. Tells the story of Sheen as director of the Propagation of the Faith and ends with his move to Rochester, N.Y. This section also focuses on the impact of his television show, and his humility in the face of unprecedented popularity. Viewers learn how his speaking style and power to communicate impacted others, from individuals to the world.

Giving. Covers his focus on giving — what he did with his incredible wealth from royalties and donations and his dedication to giving both money and time to the less fortunate. Also discusses the impact of his writings and his participation in Vatican II.

Suffering. Tells the story of Sheen’s illness, loss of popularity and his reaction to a changing world. Also focuses on his final push to promote the priesthood, his dwindling health and the culmination of his life with an embrace by the Pope.

Here is the trailer:

From CNA: Gaining a reputation as both a scholar and a man of God from a young age, Archbishop Sheen committed to praying a daily Holy Hour before the Eucharist after he was ordained a priest in 1919. It was a practice that he maintained for the remaining 60 years of his life, and it was to this daily Holy Hour that he attributed his success in spreading the Gospel.

By age 30, Archbishop Sheen was a well-recognized Catholic scholar, with degrees from multiple universities in America and Europe. He taught at Catholic University of America, where students would flood his classroom, even sitting on radiators to hear his lectures.

Gaining recognition as a speaker, the archbishop traveled the globe, drawing crowds of up to 10,000 with his charismatic personality and powerful message. “You felt that one of the Apostles was right there in front of you speaking,” said one listener.

In 1930, Archbishop Sheen was asked to take part in a weekly radio broadcast called “The Catholic Hour.” His popularity soared, and shortly after being appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York in 1951, he began his “Life is Worth Living” television program.

Soon, 30 million Americans were tuning in weekly to see Archbishop Sheen, who presented his message with a charming combination of humor and wit. He was awarded an Emmy after his first season on the air, becoming the only religious broadcaster ever to do so.

Despite his great success in radio and television, the archbishop remained humble and generous. He donated the money from his show, as well as the many contributions he received, to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, of which he had been named director.

Archbishop Sheen spoke at the Second Vatican Council on the role of the Church in caring for the poor and needy of the world. At the council, he also attracted the attention of the future Pope John Paul II, who learned English by listening to his shows.

In the following years, Archbishop Sheen began to lose popularity as he publicly supported civil rights and criticized the Vietnam War. In addition, some people saw him as too traditional after Vatican II.

In 1966, he was appointed Bishop of Rochester, a position which he filled for three years before retiring at the age of 74. For the remainder of his life, he worked vigorously to strengthen and promote the priesthood. His health gradually declined, and he underwent open heart surgery.

Archbishop Sheen passed away on December 9, 1979. His body was found before the Eucharist in his private chapel.

The cause for Archbishop Sheen's beatification and canonization was opened in 2002. The archbishop currently holds the title of Servant of God, while the Church continues to examine his life and works, including the 66 books he wrote during his life.

“Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All” will be released on DVD to the general public during the 2010 holiday season.

You can buy the dvd here.

News Report: Nigeria's "God's Own State" Governor's Second Term Ambition in jeopardy

                               [Theodore Orji]

The ambition of Mr. Theodore Orji to rule Abia state for a second term may be in jeopardy, chidi opara reports learnt during the week. Mr. Orji who won the Abia state gubernatorial election in 2007 on the platform of Progressive Peoples Alliance(PPA) to become governor of the state also known as "God's own state" recently defected to the All

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rep. Anthony Weiner Goes Bazerk on House Floor

Here is another instance where Weiner goes kinda nuts on the House floor:

If you want to view even more of  Rep.Weiner's nuttiness you can see more evidence here.

Worth repeating

Rather by accident I was reminded of this post from more than two years ago.

Check out this amazing music video by Imogen Heap.

Photospeak: US Presidency; A Serious Business

Betty Crocker on a bender

At our birthday party a year and a half ago I introduced our friends to Jell-O shots. Everybody LOVED them! (Note to self: next time make a different flavor/color sans vodka for the kids!) Since then several of our friends have tried to replicate them at their parties (with mixed results). I remain the rei do Jell-O shots.

Earlier this year I made a Caipirinha Cream Pie for a World Cup party. It disappeared faster than you can say cachaça. [Darn if I cannot find the recipe online today.  Email me if you would like it.] That time I made an alcohol-free chocolate cream pie for the kids.  Everyone agreed, next time I make this pie I should increase the cachaça used. It would benefit from the boost.

A few weeks ago I Stumbled Upon a recipe for Grilled Cachaça Marinated Hanger Steak over at YumSugar. I’m not one to cook meat, I leave that to Luiz who is excellent at it. But in this case I think I will prepare the marinade and meat and put it in the refrigerator for Luiz to cook the next day. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Then today I was over at one of my favorite cocktail blogs Cachacagora and what do you know… Phil just posted a video from Fox affiliate WPMT Channel 43 that featured a recipe for a Cachaça Coffee Rub and Sauce for beef or pork and another recipe for Tropical Fruit Salsa with cachaça. They both sound delicious.

Also today my Google Alert set to all things cachaça (which I monitor for a friend of mine opening a Brazilian restaurant and lounge back in the States) I saw a reference to a Tres Leches Cake with cachaça recently published in Booze Cakes, a recipe book for BCOAB fans (Betty Crocker On A Bender). I could not find the recipe online, however. If you do, please let me know.

So I would like to ask for any recipes you may have that use cachaça (or your favorite spirit). I have heard from one of my students who grew up on a farm in Minas Gerais that her mother would put cachaça in her baked bread. It apparently changes the texture for the better. Anybody know about this?

I think I will dice up some of that fruity salsa mentioned above. It sounds great.

Come and enjoy Niterói

Here's a little enticement...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Overcoming the Odds: You Can Achieve Your Dreams!

These two sisters are so amazing! Very inspirational!

Photospeak: Like The Masses Of Nigeria

What's that sound?

Luiz and I used to live in San Francisco where the most common busses (trolley coaches, more precisely) are electric and are powered via wires strung above the street (which is why you have never seen a NYC-style Macy’s parade with balloons in SF).

One of the ambient and quickly ignored sounds of the city is that of these trackless trolleys passing through intersections with their electrical trolley poles skipping over the wires of the perpendicular lines of other routes. There is a little “powerless” gap right where the lines intersect. The act of crossing over these lines (going from powered, to no power, to powered again) can often result in a little electrical screeching sound. Sort of a high-pitched “squiggle-zip” sound.

Why do I mention this? Because every morning while I make coffee I hear this same sound coming from the light well across the hall from our apartment. It is this bizarre electrical short circuit-like sound that keeps repeating. It’s sort of annoying in its off-pitched and screechy way. And it makes me think the lights are about to go off.

I finally tracked the noise and discovered a cute little bird in a cage hanging just outside the window of our elderly neighbor. (Caged songbirds are rather ubiquitous here.) But what’s up with the squiggle-zip sound it makes? Where is the pretty tweet, tweet, tweet?

Maybe our neighbor has some form of high-pitched hearing loss and the little thing sounds sweet and melodious to her. I dunno. But I can confidently report this is no songbird in the traditional sense. Squiggle-zip. Squiggle-zip.

Oh well, at least I get a dose of saudade (“longing, homesickness, nostalgia”) for our old San Francisco haunt every morning.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Elton John Rocks!!

First, Elton John played at Rush Limbaugh's wedding and now he has spoken out and admonished those musicians who are boycotting Arizona because of their new immigration law.  WAY TO GO,  ELTON!!

From Fox News:

Never one to back out of a performance to make a statement, music icon Elton John offered some choice words for his fellow musicians who choose to boycott Arizona over the SB 1070 immigration law.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, while performing at his sold-out concert at the Tucson Arena, he said:

"We are all very pleased to be playing in Arizona. I have read that some of the artists won't come here. They are f***wits! Let's face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what's the (expletive) with these people?"

John is known for not giving into outside pressures when it comes to playing concerts in politically charged environments.

Last month, he ignored calls for a boycott of Israel, playing in Tel Aviv amid debates about an aid flotilla.

Here is more on his decision to play in Israel.

"Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. That's what we do," he said of artists like Elvis Costello and Santana, who canceled performances in Israel. "We don't cherry-pick our conscience."

Elton John is the bomb!!! He rocks!!!  Elton John is a classy guy.  He can disagree with your position and still be respectful of you at the same time.

This is one of my favorite Elton John's songs. Enjoy!!

How’s that Portuguese coming along Jim?

My educational background is in psychology. I was an individual, couple and family therapist for a while and then led therapy groups for several years. From where I come from – everything has meaning.

So why do I persist in not acquiring the Portuguese language? I have lived with Luiz and his Brazilian friends and within our Portuguese language social environment for eleven years. (I took only a few casual Portuguese language courses in the US.)

Now I have been living in Brazil for nearly two and a half years.

So where is it? Where is the language proficiency I had lead myself to believe would be mine by now? Why is this so hard? Why do I not bury my face in language workbooks daily to absorb and acquire the language of my local family and friends?

Eu não sei.

Being so many years beyond my studying days in college/graduate school – I just don’t have the stomach for it. I have convinced myself that I will acquire Portuguese by simply living here and absorbing it from my surroundings. (Wrong!) Looking back I can report from experience – it does not work that way.

But as for why – why do I persist in not studying, even in the face of the difficulties this presents? Honestly – I think I prefer to be in a position to not have to participate; not take responsibility. I have many friends and family here who want to take good care of me. And I am letting them do just that.

My last 15 or so years of professional life (after I stopped being a psychotherapist) was characterized by being a supervisor, manager, boss, director – where I was responsible for everything. I think I am still taking a time out from that.

This is not exactly a prescription for success in the short run. Not acquiring Portuguese certainly has put a damper on acquiring new friends who do not speak English. But it is where I find myself.

Whatever the reason, my Portuguese is limited and it creates limitations. While my understanding of Portuguese has expanded immensely – I can generally follow the nightly television news and understand phone callers, it remains a huge challenge to actually PRODUCE the language and make myself understood in a decent conversation.

The unfortunate side affect is that folks continue to assume I do not understand, so I am generally not addressed directly in group conversations. There are notable exceptions – but this is the typical dynamic.

So I guess I am on my own to push forward; to push through the desire to avoid being the decision maker, not having to take responsibility. Like it or not I have hours of study in my future. There is no osmosis solution – at least not for me.

Time to buck up.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sheriff Babeu Invites Obama to Come & See Arizona War-Zone For Himself

News Report: Immediate Past Nigerian First Lady Eyes Senate Presidency

                                [Turai Yar'Adua]

The immediate past Nigerian first lady, Mrs. Turai Yar'Adua, first wife of late former President Umaru Ya'Adua is reported to be eyeing the Senate Preidency. Mrs. Yar'Adua is nursing senatorial ambition come 2011 on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).

The former first lady's senatorial bid, chidi opara reports learnt is a

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Consequences of the NOT so Affordable "Affordable Care Act"

By James A. Bacon:

Josh Dent is an early victim of Obamacare. The lanky, shaven-headed machine operator likes the medical insurance plan his employer, Acorn Signs, provides him. But under the newly enacted Affordable Care Act, his insurance policy will get less affordable. A provision in the law is putting his insurance company out of business, and whatever replaces Mr. Dent's current policy will likely be much more expensive.

The way the 29-year-old sees it, Acorn Signs will have to cut benefits or cut pay. One way or another, he figures, the switch to a new insurer will cost him.

Steve Gillispie, Acorn's president, is distressed by this unexpected development. A year and a half ago, he was facing premiums of $150,000 from an established insurer, up from $80,000 just three years before. Then along came Richmond, Va.-based nHealth. The start-up company, launched with the mission of making consumer-driven health care a reality, rescued him with a plan that kept premiums below $90,000 yearly. The plan insured his 35 employees against hospital expenses, created a $1,500 deductible for doctors' fees and set up health savings accounts (HSAs) for employees to pay for what the health plan did not. "For most employees," Mr. Gillispie says, "it netted out money in the pocket."

Lower insurance charges helped Acorn survive the recession without laying off any of its employees or cutting their compensation. Going back hat in hand to one of the dominant insurers in town, Mr. Gillispie fears, will add tens of thousands of dollars to his cost structure. Profit margins are tight in this slow-growth economy, but he hates to pass on the higher insurance costs to his employees, many of whom are paid $14 to $16 an hour. "Most of these people are living hand to mouth as it is," he says. He still does not know what he will do.

Such is the unintended consequence of Obamacare, which overhauled the health care industry with the goal of making medical insurance more affordable and accessible to all. The provision that is causing Acorn Signs so much heartache is the so-called 80/20 rule, which requires all insurance plans to pay out at least 80 percent of premiums in benefits. The goal behind the rule is to punish insurers that let administrative expenses get out of hand. In practice, the law punishes innovative, entrepreneurial companies like nHealth that kept premiums low.

The company ran afoul of the 80/20 rule by charging premiums that were so low that the administrative expenses looked high by comparison. Alan Slabaugh, a benefits specialist who brokers the policy, explains the problem this way, using very rough numbers: If a traditional insurer bills $500 monthly per employee, paying out $400 in benefits and charging $100 to administration, its administrative ratio is 20 percent - acceptable under the 80/20 rule. NHealth keeps premiums low by using HSAs to incentivize employees to reduce their spending - buying generic drugs, for instance, and shopping around for cheaper pharmacies - and by showing clients how to self-insure for physicians' fees. If nHealth charges superlow premiums of $300 per month, paying $200 in benefits and keeping $100 for administrative expenses, its administrative ratio would be 33 percent - thus failing the Obamacare test and triggering penalties.

In its short existence, nHealth passed the market test with flying colors, signing up 128 clients across Virginia. However, the fast-growth company was still burning cash when Obamacare passed, and management wasn't expecting to be profitable for several years. The 80/20 rule attacked the company's business model and pushed the break-even point out another year or more. Given continued uncertainties about how the regulations would be written, the company notified clients in June that the board had decided to shut down the company; it would honor all existing contracts but not renew them.

About 2,500 Virginia employees are the losers. Other insurers in the Richmond marketplace offer HSAs, Mr. Slabaugh says, but none is as inexpensive as nHealth's. Workers will wind up paying more for insurance - assuming their employers even can afford to continue providing insurance at the rates the big insurers charge. Even non-customers pay a price indirectly. With one of Virginia's most aggressive and innovative insurers knocked out of action, the dominant players don't have to compete as hard for their business. Just a few months out of the gate, Obamacare is falling far short of the lofty goals set for it. As Mr. Slabaugh says, "The health care reform bill was passed with the intention to increase choice and decrease the costs associated with health care. As the legislation is being implemented, I am witnessing quite the opposite, and nHealth is just one example."

James A. Bacon is author of the forthcoming book "Boomergeddon" (Oaklea Press, 2010) and publisher of the blog by the same name.

Speech: A Golden Nugget Buried Abroad

                                   [Chido Onumah]

(Being speech delivered at the Nigeria Diaspora Dinner held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Sunday 25th July, 2010)

By Chido Onumah

Good evening friends and compatriots. I thank you for this kind invitation to someone, if we must properly describe my location today, who is one of you all as a Nigerian in the Diaspora!

Two years ago I

Gone fishing

You know you have too much time on your hands when...

Check out how the fish follow your mouse hoping to get fed. Click your mouse to feed them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anita MonCrief Will File FEC Charges Against Obama Administration

H/T Stop Marxism

Getting out there

This past weekend was different – and wonderful - for sure.

Luiz got called away to a super unique orchid exploratory tour on Ilha Grande. One of our friends specializes in green business ambiances and he had a space open in his weekend learning opportunity on Ilha Grande.

Never one to pass up a chance to travel for free , Luiz took up the offer to go exploring the forests of Ilha Grande looking for orchids compliments a corporate account.

My weekend included two meet ups with fellow bloggers. On Friday I enjoyed a fabulous lunch in Ipanema with Ginger and her husband Camillo. I was returning to her books she had lent me months before, and she was passing on many more books she thought I might enjoy. You can enjoy Ginger’s blog here.

Lunch was terrific and our conversation back at Ginger and Camillo’s apartment was wonderful. It is SO NICE to meet up with folks with whom I can converse without struggling over every sentence. And both Camillo and Ginger are a delight! [Thank you for your hospitality!]

Then on Saturday it was our Blogger meet-up on Copacabana beach. In spite of early morning rain, the day turned out perfectly sunny and warm. Meeting Rachel, Lindsey and our new friend Greg made for a perfect ten afternoon. So much gossip. So much ti, ti, ti. It was as if I were fluent in Portuguese and talking with old friends. Wonderful.

I can report that you do not realize how limited your Portuguese is until you spend time with friends just speaking your native language. No head aches. No frustrations. You can even understand everyone when they are all shouting over each other. (ahh – the old days…)

Thank you my new friends – Rachel, Linds, Greg – it was a perfect afternoon. We will definitely repeat this adventure and we will be inviting all of you readers to join us.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No Mosque at Ground Zero!

Muslims already have at least one mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero and don't need another.  If we allow Muslims to have yet another mosque, and that one exist within a couple blocks of Ground Zero we are waving the white flag and allowing terrorists to win, letting Muslims rule the world and create a caliphate.  This mosque has nothing to do with freedom of religion or freedom of speech but in having the citizens of the United States be subjugated by the Muslim world.  We must not let Muslims distort freedom of religion to further both their cause of terrorism and further their endgame of having complete control around the world.

H/T CreepingSharia

Don't forget to join us on Saturday

This is your reminder of the gathering this Saturday (tomorrow), July 24th at 2:00 p.m. at the Rainbow kiosk directly in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro.

Everyone reading this post or those at other blogs often intertwined among those interested in Rio/Brazil/expats are welcome. Bloggers, for sure. Readers who comment – c’mon down! And lurkers (you know who you are) feel free to come out of the shadows and join us.

The weather is supposed to be sunny and in the 80’s. What better than to go to the beach for an agua de coco bem gelada, frescinha, or for an only-in-Brazil-so-cold beer, or the signature Brazilian drink – a caipirinha? Or you could get a diet Coke – there are no rules!

The only sure thing is that we will be communicating mostly in English.

It would be great to see you. If I am unable to get my hands on a Mylar balloon to signify my presence – trust me, you will notice the larger-than-average Gringo dressed in a blue and white shirt and jeans shorts. Trust me.  = ;-)

[Thanks for the image Rachel - it is EXACTLY the kiosk we will be meeting at.]

Pentagon Workers Tied To Child Porn

Here is the document that the Inspector General released to the public regarding their investigation of these horrendous acts that were committed against our most innocent, precious children:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Raphael's Art Tapestries

Webcams in Brazil

Thanks to webcams everywhere I can go to various places around the globe and watch what’s going on from the comfort of my office. For the last few months I have been watching an eagle fledgling in Vancouver, Canada being cared for by its mother. (The show is pretty much over now...)

I would rather travel in person, for sure, but on a teacher’s salary? It’s not happening like it used to.

Included here are links to various webcams I’ve found in Brazil. I have to say that only a few are worth watching, beyond checking to see if the sky is blue, if it is raining, or if the traffic is bad.

My favorite so far is the new Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest webcam sponsored by the World Land Trust. It’s great for bird watching.

For pure sightseeing check out the webcams from Webcam Tourism Ouro Preto.  Better than the cams are the panoramic location shots from around the town ocated on the right of the site.  Amazing.

Next would be the webcams at Itacoatiara beach. These are really set up for the surfer crowd to be able to check on the surf conditions before making the long trek out to the beach.

Paraty has great webcam potential, but I must say one of the two cams seems to be oddly placed along a quiet little street in the historic district. I suppose it could be interesting if there were a crowd bustling about.

The cam in Angra dos Reis seems only suited for checking on the weather.

Then there are the webcams in Porto de Galinhas. What’s up with them? I would think it difficult to find more pedestrian locations (so to speak). But hey, something interesting might cross in front of the camera.

Rio has dozens of cameras set up by the department of transportation.  They are not exactly exciting viewing.  Go to this map and then click your way down to a specific location to get a street view.

Can anyone contribute to this list of webcams in Brazil? I would welcome the view.

News Release: US Vice-president Explain New Wall Street Reform Law

Good afternoon,

Today, President Obama signed into law the most sweeping reforms of our financial system since the Great Depression and the strongest consumer protections in history.

Here are a few highlights:

• There's now a single agency responsible for looking out for consumers: the Bureau for Consumer Financial Protections. Instead of seven agencies dealing with these issues part-time,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Ruling Class Vs. The Country Class

America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution

By Angelo M. Codevilla

As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors' "toxic assets" was the only alternative to the U.S. economy's "systemic collapse." In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets' nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.

When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term "political class" came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public's understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the "ruling class." And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.

Although after the election of 2008 most Republican office holders argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, against the subsequent bailouts of the auto industry, against the several "stimulus" bills and further summary expansions of government power to benefit clients of government at the expense of ordinary citizens, the American people had every reason to believe that many Republican politicians were doing so simply by the logic of partisan opposition. After all, Republicans had been happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government's agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Sen. Orrin Hatch continued dreaming of being Ted Kennedy, while Lindsey Graham set aside what is true or false about "global warming" for the sake of getting on the right side of history. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class's continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.

Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and "bureaucrat" was a dirty word for all. So was "social engineering." Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday's upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.

Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters -- speaking the "in" language -- serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century's Northerners and Southerners -- nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, "prayed to the same God." By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God "who created and doth sustain us," our ruling class prays to itself as "saviors of the planet" and improvers of humanity. Our classes' clash is over "whose country" America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark's Gospel: "if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand."

The Political Divide

Important as they are, our political divisions are the iceberg's tip. When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences "undecided," "none of the above," or "tea party," these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That is because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans tell pollsters that Republican officeholders represent them well. Hence officeholders, Democrats and Republicans, gladden the hearts of some one-third of the electorate -- most Democratic voters, plus a few Republicans. This means that Democratic politicians are the ruling class's prime legitimate representatives and that because Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most are aspirants for a junior role in the ruling class. In short, the ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans -- a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents -- lack a vehicle in electoral politics.

Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority's demand for representation will be filled. Whereas in 1968 Governor George Wallace's taunt "there ain't a dime's worth of difference" between the Republican and Democratic parties resonated with only 13.5 percent of the American people, in 1992 Ross Perot became a serious contender for the presidency (at one point he was favored by 39 percent of Americans vs. 31 percent for G.H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Clinton) simply by speaking ill of the ruling class. Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans' conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.

While Europeans are accustomed to being ruled by presumed betters whom they distrust, the American people's realization of being ruled like Europeans shocked this country into well nigh revolutionary attitudes. But only the realization was new. The ruling class had sunk deep roots in America over decades before 2008. Machiavelli compares serious political diseases to the Aetolian fevers -- easy to treat early on while they are difficult to discern, but virtually untreatable by the time they become obvious.

Far from speculating how the political confrontation might develop between America's regime class -- relatively few people supported by no more than one-third of Americans -- and a country class comprising two-thirds of the country, our task here is to understand the divisions that underlie that confrontation's unpredictable future. More on politics below.

The Ruling Class

Who are these rulers, and by what right do they rule? How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them? What sets our ruling class apart from the rest of us?

The most widespread answers -- by such as the Times's Thomas Friedman and David Brooks -- are schlock sociology. Supposedly, modern society became so complex and productive, the technical skills to run it so rare, that it called forth a new class of highly educated officials and cooperators in an ever less private sector. Similarly fanciful is Edward Goldberg's notion that America is now ruled by a "newocracy": a "new aristocracy who are the true beneficiaries of globalization -- including the multinational manager, the technologist and the aspirational members of the meritocracy." In fact, our ruling class grew and set itself apart from the rest of us by its connection with ever bigger government, and above all by a certain attitude.

Other explanations are counterintuitive. Wealth? The heads of the class do live in our big cities' priciest enclaves and suburbs, from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, to Boston's Beacon Hill as well as in opulent university towns from Princeton to Boulder. But they are no wealthier than many Texas oilmen or California farmers, or than neighbors with whom they do not associate -- just as the social science and humanities class that rules universities seldom associates with physicians and physicists. Rather, regardless of where they live, their social-intellectual circle includes people in the lucrative "nonprofit" and "philanthropic" sectors and public policy. What really distinguishes these privileged people demographically is that, whether in government power directly or as officers in companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government. They vote Democrat more consistently than those who live on any of America's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Streets. These socioeconomic opposites draw their money and orientation from the same sources as the millions of teachers, consultants, and government employees in the middle ranks who aspire to be the former and identify morally with what they suppose to be the latter's grievances.

New Job

I just wanted to let all of my fellow blogging buddies know the reason why I have been posting and commenting sporadically for about the last week or so.  I have started a new job and it consists of pretty hard physical labor -- weed whacking (on freaking hills), weeding, watering flowers, etc.  By the end of the day I am dog tired. This is a seasonal job and I am really hoping to find something better soon. But, for now this is it.  I wanted to let you know that from now on I am not quite sure how often that I will be able to comment on your blogs or how often I will be able to post either.  Have a great night :)

Shop around!

One thing you learn pretty quickly living here is that prices vary from store to store. For example, a prescription medicine at one pharmacy can be 25% more expensive than the same medicine at another.

Shopping around is a prerequisite to finding a deal. Yesterday my penchant for checking in at 6 or more different stores before making a large purchase really paid off.

Recently I had my eyes checked and got two eyeglasses prescriptions: one for the glasses I wear while sitting in front of the computer, and one for my regular pair of glasses. I filled the computer prescription right away, buying the cheapest, cheapest lenses and frames I could find because I will never wear these glasses outside my office.

I put filling my regular prescription on hold because the cost was freighting.

At the first few eyewear shops I checked the lenses were priced out at about R$230 (transition lenses) and frames I liked varied from R$200 – R$450. So I was looking at anywhere between R$430 - R$680. My eyes had not changed, so I didn’t really need new lenses, but I REALLY needed new frames. My old frames were about to fall apart at any minute.

My strategy then changed to reusing my lenses and just finding new frames. But shop after shop did not have frames into which my existing lenses would fit and everyone insisted they could not grind down the edges of the lenses to get them to fit frames with a slightly different shape.

Until yesterday. Luiz and I were in Centro Niterói (downtown) picking up a piece of hardware for a kitchen cabinet. I spotted a tiny storefront with glasses in the window. We went in and I repeated my explanation regarding recycling my lenses and finding frames that fit.

Long story short, this shop had frames I liked for R$80 and they assured me they could grind the lenses to fit the frames without my losing any vision correction.

Bam! I just saved between R$350 – R$600. The glasses were ready today. They charged me just the price of the frames and nothing for the service of getting the lenses to fit. And they look great!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Indiana Planned Parenthood Fabricated Medical Information

Blogger gathering this Saturday

Check your Google Calendar. Do you have the Bloggers’ Gathering on Copacabana Beach party scheduled for this Saturday, July 24th at 2:00 p.m.?

Let’s face it – how many people on the planet can come to a party like this?

I am looking forward to meeting up with the select few (all are welcome) at the kiosk directly in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro (how fabulous is that!?) this Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

It is my intention to acquire a Mylar balloon of some kind to identify my large, white, male self to you all. Luiz is thinking he will let us bloggers meet amongst ourselves and come to the second gathering. You will recognize me, as I will recognize you. This is not a blind date.

Sounds like fun to me. See you there!  Tell your friends.

Opinion: US Secretary Of Health On Preventive Healthcare

                         [Secretary Kathleen Sebelius]

By Kathleen Sebelius

Good afternoon,

Many of us know women whose lives have been saved by breast cancer screening. Yet, one in five women over 50 hasn't received a mammogram in the last two years. Nothing is more important to us than the health of our children, but nearly one out of eight children hasn't seen a doctor in the last year.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Racism in my Brazil

I may get in trouble for this one. Talking about race in Brazil is nearly as fraught with landmines as it is in the States. But then, I have never been one to shy away from danger zones.

Having grown up in suburban Detroit in the 1960’s and 70’s (can you say riots?) I have had my share of spoon-fed racism as well as against-the-current anti-racist learnings. Dare I say I have spent the 30 plus years since I left Detroit deliberately trying to un-learn the racist lessons of my youth. Lucky for me my parents were always models of resistance against the racism in our surroundings, but the resistance did not extend much further than that.

It’s generally considered common wisdom among the gainfully employed in Brazil that the issue of racism is over stated. “We’re not like America,” people say, “We got over it after the African slaves were emancipated. We never had a Jim Crow period. Even before then, Portuguese slave owners always loved f**king black women. Our being a brown population is proof of our lack of racism.”

This line of thinking never took me in very far, even when I was all starry-eyed about Brazil and its culture. I don’t buy it. If anything, look around: who are the black characters on television (mostly maids and drug dealers)?; who lives in the expensive neighborhoods and who cleans their toilets?; who drives the imported cars and who parks them?; who are the bosses and who are the laborers?; who dominates in political life?; historic and institutionalized racism has a way of being plain to see in everyday life, if you are willing to look.

But rather than being academic I want to share some personal experiences which remind me I am not from here and which keep me confused. Applying my liberal American anti-racism sensibilities to my Brazilian experiences does not always balance out like I would have thought.
First and foremost I must report that after having lived in urban African American neighborhoods for most of my adult life (with all the concomitant experiences therein), I have never seen the level of racial integration of neighbors, friends and family that I have seen here in Brazil. But let me highlight some experiences here that twist my racism antennae.

We have a black friend who introduces himself to everyone by his nickname: Neginho (little black one).

People will refer reverently to a powerful, captivating and often sexy black man as a “Negão,” (big black guy).

Popular artwork from more Afro-Brazilian parts of the country will feature caricatures of black folks I find offensive and racist. But they are available in souvenir stores and galleries alike and are in the homes of our friends, including our black friends.

At a birthday party we were at last night (and why I write this today) they had a “dress up” area with dozens of costumes and masks. Two of the masks were of the exaggerated nose and lips features of some Afro-Brazilians. Yet most of the guests who wore the masks had skin colors darker than those of the masks. All in great fun. WTF?

So either the internalized racism among Brazilians of African decent is worse than I imagined and the overt racism among light-skinned Brazilians simply goes without challenge – or there is a dynamic afoot that is not easily understood by progressive anti-racist thought from the US. Probably both…

Generally I keep my mouth shut and follow up after the fact. But so far, not having Brazilian sociologists among my friends as yet, I am not getting satisfying or enlightening explanations. Maybe my circle of friends and colleagues is too narrow and I am just getting a distorted impression. I need a reading list.  [I found one here.]

[Make no mistake – I see plenty of overt, offensive racism, but this post is meant to hover in more blurry, personal territory.]

What do you think?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

International Animation Festival in Rio

The huge 18th Annual International Animation Festival of Brazil is underway in Rio (July 16 - 25). The program is overwhelming in scale (over 400 films), but if you have any interest in animation, in all its forms, you will find something (a lot of things) that suits you.

Films, lectures, special programs, (lots of) stuff for the kiddies, a gallery, master classes – it’s all there. In fact – much more than you can imagine.

Check out the festival website (Portuguese and English). Better yet, check out this state of the art (as you might expect) online festival catalog (Portuguese and English). Very cool.

For a broad overview of the many, many activities and attractions included for professionals and the general public here is a brief video about the making of Anima Mundi 2008. Amazing.

Making Of Anima Mundi 2008 from Anima Mundi on Vimeo.

For ticket information visit the FAQ section of the Portuguese version of the Festival website.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dancing on the beach

It’s been a little too serious around here. I need a break. How about some dancing on the beach?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The US can learn from Brazil

This is both a personal and a political post.

I have posted recently about the differences between health care costs here in Brazil and back in the US. I think I may have commented in other posts on the differences between sick time off for employees here and in the US.

Now I would like to comment on a very real situation which highlights the differences.

Right now – today - I am worrying about a very dear personal member of my close circle who has just undergone life-threatening surgery in the United States. S/he is doing fine – thank the heavens.

What strikes me as outrageous is that back in the States s/he is grateful that his/her employer will not fire him/her for being sick. His/her medical situation requires at least four weeks off from work, yet his/her employer will grant only two weeks – the rest will be without pay.

S/he has expressed appreciation that his/her employer will "allow" him/her to work the other two weeks via laptop in bed at home. S/he is GRATEFUL to be able to work from her/his recovery bed at home so she can at least make a little income during her unpaid leave time. WTF?


Call me crazy, but I prefer a country that gives workers the time they need to recover – without stripping them of their income. Here in Brazil a worker would not be forced to choose between medical recovery and paying one’s rent.  You would be given the time to recover, with pay.  It is a worker's right.  Greedy, heartless companies do not have a say in the matter.

Hello America! Your system is broken!!

You know you are NOT a Brazilian when

Most days would be better if I were not spotted as a Gringo. I try, really I do.

Giving good conversation to the butcher about what meal I am cooking and how he can make it better if he just sold me the best cut of meat (which I have no idea how to say in Portuguese) is always interrupted by – “Where are you from?” It’s all down hill from there.

There is no escape. I buy a cold coconut opened for the water within from a beach vendor – “Where are you from?”

Sometimes I feel really confident in my Portuguese when asking for eight copies of an article I’m using with my students. The Xerox worker’s response is always: “Where are you from?”

I am a Gringo. There is no mistaking this reality. (The first clue is my use of swim trunks rather than a Speedo – slam dunk!)

People here are over-the-top ready to be helpful to foreigners. That is not the problem. The problem is within. When does it stop feeling like I am a stranger in a strange land? Maybe never.

While I lived in San Francisco, CA for more than 20 years, I could ALWAYS spot someone who was from somewhere else - listening to just three or four syllables. Now I am appreciating their personal struggle to just be a member of the local community.

Não e facil.

Did you hear it?

Did you hear the sonic boom from the shouts for joy coming from Buenos Aires and across Argentina early this morning when the country’s Senate voted 33 to 27 (with three abstentions) in favor of a law to legalize same-sex marriage? It woke me out of a sound sleep.

Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to legalize marriage for all. The law, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt, had met with fierce opposition from (wait for it…) the Catholic Church and other religious groups. We can always count on them to slow social progress. (We were just talking about this.)

The legislation is backed by President Cristina Fernandez.

Civil unions between people of the same sex have been legal in Buenos Aires and in some other provinces but there was no law, until now, to regulate it on a country-wide level.

For the record, same-sex civil unions are legal in Uruguay and some states in Brazil and Mexico, while gay marriage is legal in Mexico City.

There is a balm! You go Argentina!  View a complete news story from the BBC here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Medical tourism

Medical tourism is something that many Americans initially squirm at the thought of. Why go to a developing country for medical treatment – you might ask?

Run the numbers.

Let me offer a few real examples from our experience.

Some years ago Luiz and I went to Thailand. To our surprise and dismay he had a dental abscess flare up the second day we were in the country. If you have been to Thailand you know that the script for their language bares no resemblance to the Roman script we are accustomed to.

We located a dentist because she had a graphic drawing of a tooth on the storefront glass of her office. We went in, taking off our shoes at the door, hoping for the best. After a short wait the dentist saw Luiz, and she spoke some English. She diagnosed his situation as a growing abscess needing a root canal, but it could be treated in the short run with antibiotics. She gave him some antibiotics – and charged him nothing for the consult or the meds – NOTHING (she gave him the pills!). She just wished him well and told him to see his dentist when he got back home. **Never in the United States**  [It's worth noting that dental care in Thailand is ranked among the best in the world.]

On another occasion, in Brazil, Luiz had heart palpitations and I insisted that he see a cardiologist. He went to see a private cardiologist – no insurance – and was seen for a consult, then referred to a full lab work-up, then seen again for a follow up consult with the cardiologist. Full cost was R$200. (That would be about US$120.) Can you imagine!? A private cardiologist! Here, follow-up consults are considered a part of the original visit, so there is no charge.

OK – last example: Luiz recently needed a root canal and crown. We were living in San Francisco and covered by my top-shelf dental insurance. We ran the numbers. It was cheaper for Luiz to fly to Brazil, have the root canal and get the crown, spend a couple weeks vacationing and return, than it was to pay THE DEDUCTIBLE for our fancy dental insurance in San Francisco.

What’s up with that?

Let me be clear- the quality of dental care here is completely comparable to the US.

Some things I miss about living in the US – fearing the cost of health/dental care is not one of them.

Straight up, no chaser

I like my coffee like I like my men: strong and dark. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) In this case Brazil is a good place to be (on both counts). Brazil has a reputation for very strong coffee and people drink coffee daily, several times a day.

But I think Starbucks would have a hard time getting a foothold here, with their US$5.00 coffee drinks and such. Maybe not, so many Brazilians seem to fall for all things American, but the sheer size of US coffee mugs (let alone the super-sized grande/vente drinks at Starbucks) is mystifying to most.

The coffee ritual here includes a small cup/glass in the morning with your toast and butter. Generally it is sickening sweet to my taste, and often it is cut with some milk. If you are on the street there are vendors on every corner and many riding around on bikes (or with other contraptions) trolling for workers on the go. It is ubiquitous. Luiz tells me his grandmother used to mix coffee, milk and sugar (mostly milk and sugar) for him in his baby bottle when he was tiny.

Then at several hour intervals throughout the workday people will sip teeny tiny cups of this national beverage to keep the motors running. Most places of employment provide free coffee to their workers. It is set out, often presweetened, in a thermos and refilled throughout the day.

After work and getting on to the 7:00 p.m. dinner hour another batch is prepared, traditionally using the drip method, strained through a fine weave cotton sock made for this purpose.

Me – I’m a drink a pot in the morning kind of guy. The size of my typical US coffee mug alone gets some people pointing and exclaiming. Then when they learn I can drink nearly a full pot (we brought a 12 cup Mr. Coffee drip machine with us) without thinking they blink in disbelief. Pile on that I do not use milk, sugar or artificial sweetener and they shake their heads, it’s simply incredulous.

Coffee, I thought when I moved here, would be one area I had in common with my Brazilian friends. Well, sorta. But the ritual is completely different. One thing I have learned is to enjoy several small cups in the morning when waking up at a friend’s house. If I just pour myself a big glass (they usually do not have a good size mug) I just come off as the gluttonous American.

Excuse me while I go refill my mug.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Will you marry me?

Why is this so difficult to understand?

Luiz and I have been "married" three times - but as of now none are legal... sigh.

Impossible to resist

For those of you who have not yet committed to coming to Brazil - I have this --

Thank you Corin for turning me on to this video.

Time for some fun

OK – time for a play date.

In my former life I was a therapist for many people who were experiencing difficulty. Being a therapist was not my favorite profession. Trust me, I know: talking about your difficulties has little to no impact toward creating change. Your therapist may tell you differently, but they are lying. There is practically no peer-reviewed research that suggests talking therapy is effective. Sorry to break the news to you. (Best kept secret among therapists.)

The real approach to change is to DO something. So let’s go have a drink!

Recently I have read several posts on my favorite blogs recounting tales of sadness, loneliness, heart sickness and simple yearning to find more connectedness in everyday life – aka – make some friends. (You know who you are.)

I feel you. Being a stranger in a strange land has its consequences. But we are many. Let’s reach beyond the blogosphere and actually meet each other. It could be fun!

Here is my proposal: Saturday, July 24th – 2:00 p.m. on Copacabana beach. Let’s meet at the kiosk in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel (could there be an easier location?)

I will be the big guy with the mylar balloon talking to the incredibly cute Brazilian guy (that’s you Luiz, calm down). Bring your kids, your husband, your secret lover, your dog… Be prepared to speak in English.

For those of you who live out of town – make a day of it! (Heck – I live out of town and I will be there.)

Talk to me.

Spain over the Netherlands

Even though the World Cup ended a week ago for many of us I feel I have to post one last time to tell the end of the story.


The final match was a boring game to casual fans like me. But the last few minutes definitely got the blood pumping.


Congratulations Spain; 1 - 0 over the Netherlands in the final minutes of overtime.


[imagine paying for tickets and sitting behind this joker]

For literally hundreds of photos go here and here.  Photo credits for images posted here can be found there.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Yummy bacon-wrapped chicken bites

[served with roasted beets and sautéed vegetables]

Saturday is sorta my day to cook. By the time the weekend comes along Luiz avoids the kitchen, so either I cook something up or we get take out. Yesterday I stumbled upon the Salad-in-a-Jar cooking blog which had an appealing recipe for bacon-wrapped chicken bites with cream cheese and jalapeño peppers.

As the blog author points out: “Add bacon to anything and it will fly off the table.” That is certainly the case when it comes to Luiz. So I figured I had a winner.

I grabbed a shopping bag and hit the street. We’ve got a nice butcher shop with an extensive deli-like counter just a few blocks away. Luiz and I had modified the recipe a bit before I went shopping. Jalapeños can be hard to find so we switched them out for sun dried tomatoes and we decided to kick the cream cheese up a notch by adding some gorgonzola.

The little butcher shop had everything I needed, so I was back in the kitchen in less than 30 minutes.

After cleaning the chicken breast I cut it into slices and pounded them out with a mallet. Topping each pounded slice with the cheeses, tomatoes and a few drops of pimento, I wrapped each in bacon and secured with a tooth pick. Quick and easy.

Then I fried them in a very hot pan, adding some water and covering them for a few minutes. They were scrumptious.

Luiz enjoyed them very much but he had an additional recipe modification to try with the four remaining bites I had not yet fried. Never one to let good bacon fat go to waste, Luiz heated up the oven and sliced a potato crosswise into thick slices. Then on an oiled baking sheet he stacked each remaining bite atop its own potato grease sponge and put them in the oven for 40 minutes. Yum.

Did I mention that Luiz has the cholesterol numbers of a teenager? Lucky him.