Society

Why I write in English

This is a question I have been asked a couple of times since I moved to Romania and started writing in English. The answer I give is that now that I’m abroad I’d be excluding too many friends and potential new readers by writing in Portuguese. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

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Why do Brazilians refuse to speak English?

I have always noticed that Brazilians have a certain aversion to English. A certain tendency to switch to Portuguese whenever the majority is Brazilian, a severe reluctance to make a comment directed towards a Brazilian using English, even if the comment is in the context of an English conversation with people from all over the world, etc. Of course, many other nationalities act similarly, but I’ve been living in Romania for a bit over a year now and things are quite different, to the point that it’s really hard to dismiss this attitude as something normal. Though I haven’t had much contact with other Brazilians personally in this period, I still have a lot of contact online, mainly through Facebook, and the more time passes by, the more my impressions are confirmed and even reinforced. And I’m not counting those who don’t know English well, I mean people who speak quite fluently, who have lived abroad, etc. Why is it so?Read More »Why do Brazilians refuse to speak English?

Everyday hate speech in Romania

In Romania it’s common for people to condemn the accent from other regions without any pudency. And many don’t do it jokingly, they really mean it. They call people with accents “peasants” and “rednecks” that destroy the Romanian language and nobody reacts, it’s socially acceptable. Openly complaining about gypsies with strong language is even more common. Some even say they’re a “spoilt race” that is genetically damaged, although these tend to be more extreme than the majority. But even the less extreme ones seem to find it normal when they hear it. They’re used to it, and even if they disagree with the choice of words, they wouldn’t defend gypsies because, after all, all they do is steal, beg and destroy the reputation of Romanians in Western Europe.Read More »Everyday hate speech in Romania

Slaves to the DNA?

Since its discovery in the early 20th century, the DNA has become a huge center of attention in biology. It has sparked new interest in the field of genetics, become basic knowledge for the more recent generations, a target of media coverage and even a common element of popular culture. But what do we really know about the DNA? Is our high-school curriculum up-to-date with current research and are educators aware of the implications this sensitive field of knowledge has on how we understand and deal with human differences?

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National Day

On the first day of this month, Romanians celebrated their “National Day”, the day Transylvania united with the rest of the country. According to the state-owned national channel TVR1, it was a day to celebrate Romanian culture and Romanian values such as “faith and family”. There was a lot of patriotic songs, folk music, dancing and nostalgic displays of affection towards Basarabia, a former region of Romania that was taken by the Russians (oh, the Russians…) during the Soviet expansion and is still rather influenced by them, nowadays known as the Republic of Moldova. It was all very positive and peaceful but I must say one thing kept bugging me: there was no mention of Hungarian, Saxon or Gipsy (confusingly also known as Romi or Romani) culture. All significant minorities in terms of number and cultural contributions to music, architecture etc.

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Atheism is becoming politically incorrect and we have to stop it

The atheist movement has seen a somewhat recent boom. Some say it was triggered by the 9/11 attacks and call it the “New Atheism” movement. There are many great things about atheists speaking out and forming a community. It encourages other people to “come out of the closet”, it raises awareness about discrimination against religious minorities, mob rule, threats to secularism etc. On the other hand, many criticize the movement for its aggressiveness, arrogance and lack of diplomacy. Some even claim that atheists shouldn’t be outspoken at all. They say they’re being more religious than the believers they criticize, and attack any atheist association as being hypocritical and turning atheism into a cult.Read More »Atheism is becoming politically incorrect and we have to stop it

Intellectuality in Brazil

Intellectual. Is this a positive or a negative attribute? Asked in such a direct manner, I thought it would be difficult to ever get a negative answer. But surprisingly, most people I talked to didn’t answer it was positive without hesitating first or at least mentioning that it can be both positive and negative. Even among educated people.Read More »Intellectuality in Brazil