Sunday, February 28, 2010

Censorship in modern day Portugal

Recently, a renowned Portuguese journalist, Mário Crespo, saw his weekly chronicle being removed from the newspaper where it supposedly should be published. In that chronicle, he expressed his thoughts on a conversation that the prime minister had about him while having lunch at a restaurant. According to him, the prime minister expressed how some journalists had already been “put away” from their jobs because of some undesired comments and he mentioned Mário Crespo as “a problem which had to be solved”. Fortunately, Mário Crespo is an old school journalist, the kind that has the guts to fight for his rights, leading to a wide discussion about freedom of speech in the country. The prime minister is even being metaphorically referred to as “the octopuss” because of the accusations on him using his tentacles to control the Portuguese media.

The prime minister has a problem with people criticizing him, no news there. The public has become aware of many scandals regarding his personal and political life, from his questionable University diploma, to the teacher that was fired for saying some undesirable comments on whether or not the prime minister is really an engineer. There is an huge mistrust for politicians in Portugal, as sooner or later we hear about some irregular activity executed by them before, or during, their political careers. It is really hard to hope for a politician whom has a real interest on the well being of a people, without being corrupted for external or selfish interests.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Guessing mathematics

Today, while speaking to an university student in the area of business management, i asked her if she knew how to calculate the area of a 8x8 square. After much thinking, i got the answer from her:






-No. Are you going to keep counting? Because you are not getting anywhere closer to the correct answer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

When robbing goes wrong..

The man in the picture tried to rob a supermarket in Almancil, Portugal. Fortunately he was not able to escape. When the owner of the supermarket arrived at the scene he called the police (by the way, according to him, his supermarket was robbed over ten times).

After leaving the crime scene the thief was released and pressed charges on the owner of the store because he claimed having been beaten in the legs and butt while he was stuck in the hole, but without knowing whom was the author because he could not see whom it was. If there is a country where thieves complain about lack of robbing conditions that country is Portugal.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The tale of the shopping kart

Last December I saw myself amongst one most unusual situation. I was waiting in line for the Bus at the Bus station. Somebody, for some reason, took a shopping kart from the nearby supermarket and left it in the sidewalk. Because it was a very windy night, the shopping kart was pulled to the middle of the road by the strong wind. The road was experiencing a period of high activity, with the Buses crossing the road from both ways with the shopping kart standing in the middle of all the action. An accident was eminent. There were about 50 people in line together with me, and other tenths around the Bus station watching the scene. Calmly, i put on my gloves while I observed the apathy of the people around me. As I finished, I walked to the middle of the road, grabbed the shopping kart and took it somewhere safe, where it could not be affected by the wind or cause an accident.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Today, a person very close to me, a teacher, was attacked by a 12 year old delinquent student.

Education, or for the lack of a better word, uneducation, of Portuguese children is a serious issue in Portugal, which is already showing severe consequences. The indolent education policy of the current government has produced a wave of violence and disrespect for the once respected profession that was to be a teacher. In the past, I never dreamed of being rude to a teacher, and in the time of my parents or grandparents, disrespect would surely be answered with a strong beating, the kind you hardly forget later in your life.

But what makes these kids behave this way? Although some parents, not all, but some, like to blame teachers for their children’s behavior, following the good old nasty habit of blaming another person for one’s mistakes, it is important to remember that the parents are themselves the first teachers of their children. Education starts at home. And, in the same way that may be fair to question a teacher’s pedagogic ability, some parents parental capacity is also questionable. Juvenile delinquency has deeper roots that stretch beyond the walls of schools. There are situations where children are actually going hungry; teenage pregnancy (sometimes originated from violations from within the family itself); alcoholism; unstable/violent environment at home; divorced parents who use their offspring as weapons; sons and daughters of prostitutes (e.g. I was told of a case where the mother would put her son on the street to receive clients at home); neural disorders that cause unstable behavior. You name it. Things are not as simple as the cliché TV statements as “he is a delinquent teenager because he never received the G.I. Joe that Christmas morning ”. 

But how does the Portuguese government handles these problematic cases? Well, if you are able to contact the social services, in the worst case scenarios, the kids get to go to special correction schools, which are also known as authentic schools of crime. Mostly, these kids are put together and are handled by people with little training to handle these cases. 

I believe the key is: each case is a case. The Portuguese educational system currently lacks the aptitude of focusing a lot more effort into saving these kids, like by using teams of psychiatrists, psychologists and highly skilled social workers to help them. And as important as focusing on the kids, sometimes the parents also need education. Children should not be used as toys or tools to get more money from social services. Any civilized society should have the education of its children as its highest priority. And who knows, perhaps some of these children may become some of the people who mostly contribute to society.