Orlando Figueiredo

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A (very) stupid man

Everybody is shocked (and it’s good they are) with the words spoken by an ignorant member of the European parliament creator and elected by the extreme right Polish, libertarian and Eurosceptic political party Coalition for the Renewal of the Republic – Liberty and Hope (KORWiN). His name Janusz Ryszard Korwin-Mikke.

Nevertheless, I was listening to him and thinking how stupid can a Polish still be. He was talking about the position of women in the physics Olympiad, claiming that the first Polish girl running for this contest was classified in the 800th position. Well, at least he is right in one thing – knowing physics is a synonym of intelligence and brightness of mind. And, of course, I am the right person to testify it; after all I am a physics teacher (please, do not forget to read sarcasm in this). Continuar a ler

America first

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American Psycho: this week’s cover of German magazine @DerSPIEGEL #AmericaFirst

Theism in a nutshell (or on a comic strip)

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It’s football season…

The results of the UK referendum ended up to be a turn-up for the books and left the British and Northern Irish frowning wickedly at the rest of European countries. They simply took Europe for granted and didn’t care about the referendum – it’s the football season, who wants to know about a stupid referendum? No wonder last Friday, when the bomb went off on their hands, they found the EU was not such a bad companion to the point of making them go on all alone. Last Thursday, UK people didn’t give Europe a lesson of democracy. UK people gave Europe a lesson of ignorance, irresponsibility and incapability. Now, it is time to own up to the folly and work out a way to call of the disaster.

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Brexit or Europe ‘s a mess.

[Versão portuguesa disponível brevemente]

June 23 morning was the morning when Europe we awoke to a new internal order; a Europe without the UK and, maybe, even a disaggregation of the UK itself.

Personally I never really believed that the UK citizens would vote a ‘NO’ to Europe on the referendum, however, they did it. With a turnout of 72.2%, British people are divided in three groups of nearly equal size. From the 46.5 million electorates, 17.4 (51.9% of voters) have chosen to leave the Europe Union, 16.1 million (48.1% of voters) have chosen to stay within the EU and 12.9 million (27.2% of the electorate) have chosen not to choose and didn’t bother to vote.

Having watched a few spots from both campaigns, I found the ‘NO’ campaign particularly demagogic as are the speeches of Nigel Farage. Nevertheless, it seems to have worked properly.

Much have been said about the ‘NO’ voters typecast. Apparently they are older working-class people who, according to what Lisa Mckenzie wrote on The Guardian, ‘are sick of being called ignorant or racist because of their valid concerns [and to whom] the EU referendum has given […] a chance to have their say’. Although, I easily understand and sympathize with their reasons and frustration, the way they found to express their resentment will not be much of a contribution to alleviate their reputation.

The romanticized versions that the UK is giving a lesson of democracy to the EU are distressingly naïve. In fact, if there is any lesson that last Friday the UK gave to the EU and the world was a lesson of ignorance and irresponsibility. Right after the referendum results were announced, on that same morning, according to Google Trends Twitter account, the five most searched sentences were: 1. What does it mean to leave the EU?; 2. What is the EU?; 3. Which countries are in the EU?; 4. What will happen now we’ve left EU? And 5. How many countries are in the EU? Continuar a ler

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Not all cultures are equally valuable – the discussion

My former post on this blog, named “Not all cultures are equally valuable” glinted a few reactions, namely from two good friends, on facebook. I am now publishing their arguments and my answers to them. The facebook post is embed bellow.

Comment 1: Ouch… There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, good Christians and bad Christians, good Jews and bad Jews, good Buddhists and bad Buddhists, good men and bad men, good women and bad women, good Portuguese and bad Portuguese, good Belgians and bad Belgians, good Saudis and bad Saudis… I still prefer a good Saudi to a bad Belgian.

Answer to comment 1:

Not talking about individuals, but about cultures. I prefer a good Saudi to a bad Belgian, too. But I feel more comfortable living in Belgium, which has democratic laws and where you can be Muslim, Christian, Jew or atheist without the fear of facing prison. I think that the Belgian cultural background is more valuable to the construction of a better world than the Saudi culture. In fact, a good Saudi, or at least one that cares with a fair society, should be very critical of the Saudi society.
Let’s say that I am a good Portuguese and I care with fairness and equality. I must, indeed, criticise my own society. The difference between me and the Saudi is that I can do it without the fear of facing prison, suffering expulsion from my country or even losing my job. This is why I prefer Portugal (or Belgium) to Saudi Arabia. But it doesn’t mean that Portuguese (or Belgian, or European, or western) society does not need critical thinking. In fact it needs, only a different kind of criticism than Saudi Arabia needs. Continuar a ler

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Not all cultures are equally valuable

Versão portuguesa: Nem todas as culturas são iguais

In his book entitled “The Moral Landscape”, Sam Harris, a staunch defender of atheism and part of a movement known as New Atheism, discuss and criticises the politically correct cultural relativism. Harris argues that there are cultures that cause suffering while others promote well-being. In consequence, they must be differently valued. The Landscape from the title concerns the hilly 3D graphics showing the well-being achieved as the dependent variable and the cultural background of diverse societies as the independent one. Highest hills represent, of course, societies that were capable of achieving better well-being. He also recognises the subjectivity of the term well-being. However, as a neuroscientist, he also proposes methods of measuring it objectively, namely using the concentration of happiness related molecules in our brains.
The recent events in Brussels airport and in the metro station of Maelbeek show, unfortunately once again, how right Sam Harris is. Many will affirm that this is not Islam; they’ll bespeak Islam as a peaceful religion, and claim radicalism as the cause of terrorist attacks, not Islam. And they’re right. I do believe there are plenty Muslims that do not agree with daesh ways. However, Islam, like all other Abrahamic religions, is a misogynist, male chauvinist society, and a homophobic and xenophobe culture. If self-entitled Muslims, like most self –entitled Christians and Jews, defend peace and human rights, it is not because of their religion, but in spite of it. In fact, it needs a really flexible interpretation to discern the “Old Testament”, the “Tora” or the “Coran”, as texts of peace. I am also convinced most of these people are Muslims, Christians or Jews because they were educated in that culture, and never had the opportunity of making a critical reading of their religion books.
It is time to stop with the politically correct discourse that all cultures are equally good and valuable. Individuals must be always treated as persons, and have their will respected within the boundaries of democracy, by all, laic or religious, cultures. But, cultures and ideas must be strongly criticised and, if that is the case, denounced.
After all I still prefer Belgium to Saudi Arabia, and it is not just because women can freely drive in the former.