This is the place where I share my stories, experiences, discoveries, and joyful pleasures with you as I make my rambling course to enlightenment. I have many interests, including books, music, movies, board games, science, technology, roller coasters, football (the round ball one) especially São Paulo Football Clube and BRASIL, basketball (#HeatNATION), and more. I also try to stay current about things going on in the world.
Once upon a time, I became a systems analyst for the now-defunct Banco Nacional. Dias, the R&D department manager, hired me, assigning me, the "resource", to a gringo-hating division manager. They asked me to validate a network system to be installed in over 400 branches, a deal worth millions, the saving grace for a company in São Paulo. Nobody explained I was supposed to rubber stamp it, or that the president's brother-in-law owned the company.
The system was a mess of obsolete microcomputers with shoddy networking capabilities. I broke the code in several hours, but writing the report was difficult. My savvy partner-in-crime, Ronaldo Pinto, helped with translation so the board could understand my hacking. To prove the system’s weakness, I transferred representative funds from and back into my personal account without creating transactions, but with documentation showing different balances. This is a bank’s nightmare scenario.
Ronaldo called me before work. “Don’t go to the office. Termination notices are on our desks.”
“What do we do?”
“Many people will be canned. We’ll survive if we don’t show up at our office.”
It was a big company. We toured other offices for weeks doing feasibility studies on nonsensical projects: a $300,000 laser printer for a department that prints a dozen annual reports, a backup system of 8-inch floppy discs, and a dual purpose video poker/automated teller machine (for employees). Idle time was spent in Gávea watching Flamengo games, Ipanema or Leblon soaking up voluptuous temptation, or the Tijuca rainforest getting stoned. We knew that it was borrowed time. Finally, bored, I returned to my desk to be fired.
They escorted me to Personnel. I argued, but I was just a case number. I was furious. I seethed. My laughter frightened them.
They paid three month’s salary plus a pension. It was the law, but it felt like hush money. I already had another job and should have forgiven them. I didn’t. Instead, every misfortune they later suffered brought me joy. It's ridiculous, but writing about it, even now, I'm frustrated. Ego I am.
A long horrific account of America's deliberate segregation, its underlying current of white-onliness, born out of Loewen's personal journey of awakening to the fact he was surrounded by Sundown Towns, those locales so hostile to blacks that the communities orchestrate ways to keep them out. It's a long, hard slog, filled with disheartening stories, marks of shame of our past, of our present really, but books like this are so important both as eye-openers and motivators. Nobody conscious to American culture--again not just its history! We are talking about the present in many instances here--can deny these exclusionary practices, but Loewen focuses on the scale using census data and adds anecdotes that personalize the experience.
I read a lot of reviews here that mention how terrible reading this makes everyone feel, but for my part, I am overwhelmed by optimism, because it is cl…
Note: mild spoilers (just a little more than a dust jacket summary and list of characters)
Naomi Novik’s modern fairy tale, Spinning Silver, draws from Indo-European folklore, especially the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Novik is both upfront and subversive about the story’s roots, starting the novel by retelling the story of the miller’s daughter from the perspective of her tragically-worldly young protagonist, Miryem, who facing starvation and her mother’s illness becomes the debt collector for her inept money-lending father, Panov Mendelstam.
Miryem’s great ability to collect debts hardens her, while also garnering a reputation that she has an uncanny talent of creating gold, “spinning the silver” kopeks owed to her family and her opportunistic profits in the marketplace into gold zloteks. Both of these aspects of her development have consequences throughout the story. I’m going to keep the spoilers to the bare minimum to discuss my…
Wazimbo's "Nwahulwana" Found this on a German site: Warum wanderst du von Bar zu Bar? (“Why do you wander from bar to bar?”) So, the first time I heard this I thought I recognized some Portuguese, but it’s illusory; the language is actually Ronga. I suppose it was just the echoes of Brazilian music. I found, though, a translation into Portuguese, which I will translate to English, but here’s the thing: this transcription of the words isn’t correct. Also, I’m almost certain I hear “vôce” which means “you” in the lyrics. First, “nwahulwana” itself is a soft expression for prostitute, hence “night bird” is the poetic meaning. I thought it was a love song. My wife thought it was a prayer (probably because of the way Wazimbo lifts his eyes to the sky when he sings “Maria”). So, it is something like this, but there are mistakes, because the lines don’t match up. Also, I wonder if he is singing “Nwahulwana” when the song starts - . It’s hard to know since I don’t speak Ronga.