Orwell, Nationalism and Film

I have always been (deeply and seriously) patriotic for several places and ways of living---Portugal, USA, Portuguese-speaking World, English-speaking World, even patriotic for Disco and Punk---but I have never been a nationalist for anything. Indeed, I have always been fiercely anti-nationalist in the ways so eloquently expressed by George Orwell (whom I only consider marginally second to Graham Greene and Fernando Pessoa):

"By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

The recent excellent (doubleplusgood) article by Kanishk Tharoor is a fantastic piece on nationalism in film from a similar viewpoint, but emphasizing the historical errors that the nationalist lens imposes when we look back at pre-nationalist human experience:

"It is a pity that so many historical films feel so obliged to place the imagined nation at their emotional core. That not only distorts understandings of the past, but it suggests that the past can only be relevant and interesting if it supports conventions of the present."

Ultimately, Orwell's 1984 was about the end of history, when historical facts are easily re-written to adapt to the present circumstances. Fake news are not a modern invention. Doubleplusungood. Which allows me to plug in also one of my favorite songs (and albums) from the Eurythmics' 1984 soundtrack.

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Appropriation R Us

What some now call cultural appropriation used to be called cosmopolitanism. Thank you Stephen Fry for pointing out the menace of the parochialism of "illiberal liberals." I hope you are wrong about the end of classical liberalism. Everything I do is appropriation. Complex Systems is the science of scientific cultural appropriation: finding commonalities, importing, updating and exporting methods across disciplines. Djing is the art of cultural appropriation and reinvention. So is Hip Hop. "On a quest to make love De La Soul, no pretense," life itself is appropriation: genes that jump, genes that crossover. Sex is appropriation. We are biological appropriation, and all culture is cannibalism, as Dali so well observed. When appropriation becomes a thoughtcrime, culture and life itself becomes a crime. Stop the reductive, illiberal parochialism of political correctness. "Let the whole world become a paper tape we can write on", said Von Neumann, grasping the similarity between Turing machines and living cells. Save us gods and goddesses of appropriation: Laurie Anderson, De La Soul, Beastie Boys, Prince, Bowie, Miles. "Só a Antropofagia nos une. Socialmente. Economicamente. Filosoficamente. Única lei do mundo. Expressão mascarada de todos os individualismos, de todos os coletivismos" ("Only Cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically. The unique law of the world. The masked expression of all individualism and collective movement",) said Oswald de Andrade. Here is Lesson #3, Masters Double Dee and Steinski shows us how. And let's write all over the Berlin Walls of the newspeak police.

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Free Love

The latest Riot Bootique in Bloomington was a great party of pure love. Here is my first set which set the tone of freedom, love and feeling good for the night, even though it starts a bit dark:Free Love. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next month. Tracklist and podcast below. Free Love is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).

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Summer Unity

For the latest Riot Bootique in Bloomington I decided to do a homage to Aretha Franklin, the absolute Queen of Soul. The idea was to make it super open, spanning many genres and all about Unity---which we need more than ever. Here are the two sets I played assembled together:Summer Unity---the first set of the night plus my second set, after DJ Angst's own set (not included). Its long, and it covers all the Riot Bootique bases and more! From Soul Music to Drum & Bass, and including Disco, House, Techno and Funk. As always, the Riot Bootique is a chance to celebrate all people, this time in celebration of Aretha. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing later this month. Tracklist and podcast below. Summer Unity is also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).

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On racial categories and jokes about the French team

After watching the above video from Trevor Noah, I had to disagree with him and actually be sad about the perpetuation of outdated racial categories. Trevor did take the players' Frenchness away by claiming that Africa (alone) won the World Cup. On a larger point, he really seems to be stuck on viewing everything from the prism of race---which makes sense for someone who grew up in the Apartheid regime. But race, in both Africa and Europe, is much more complex than what he paints. The idea that there is an "African race", as in "African-American" is ultimately a racist category that 19th century Europeans (indeed, including the French) pushed on the African continent and the slaves they brought to the Americas. Genetically, there is more racial diversity in Africa than in all the rest of the World combined. Same for language. It is truly reductive, and in my view racist, to lump all of Africa's diversity into a single race---that is precisely what European racists do. A rejection of that way of thinking is actually closer to the ambassador's point, than Noah's who seems to want to perpetuate the 19th century race dichotomy. BTW, I was born in Africa from people who were born in Africa, and though I am seemingly white, my genes are undoubtedly a combination of many races---a reason for that is partially explained in this BBC video (also shown below). I remember going to Apartheid Johannesburg as a kid and hating how at the airport people from my plane were directed to different lines depending on their external appearance. Trevor Noah's joke about the French World Cup team is, in effect, putting people from the same country in different lines. A better rejection of Apartheid would be to erase those categories altogether.

P.S. I do understand that in some contexts, like the US, the outdated racial categories of the 19th century still play a nefarious role. People who look African are demonstrably still treated worse than European-looking people. Because of that, in the US context, I agree that is still important to debate civil rights with the category of "African-American". But the goal should be to make that category (and other racial ones) less and less relevant towards a citizenship defined on individual freedom and collective commonwealth, as the French at least attempt to do.

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Clubismo na Ciência e as paredes disciplinares

Seria interessante um update da parte de quem escreveu o "Livro Negro da Avaliação Científica em Portugal" em 2015, debruçando-se agora com o que está a acontecer na FCT e na ciência em geral em Portugal. Nunca o sistema de avaliação da FCT foi tão anacrónico, nomeadamente por não permitir de todo o desenvolvimento de projetos interdisciplinares. A FCT ainda faz calls for proposals "em todos os domínios científicos", seguidos de painéis sub-sub-sub disciplinares. Isto é, um reducionismo disciplinar absurdo e incompatível com a Ciência atual. Qualquer pessoa que tente submeter algo minimamente interdisciplinar, está destinado ao fracasso logo à partida. A FCT é gerida e pensada como se ainda estivéssemos em 1991. Haja ideias novas por favor. Mas acima de tudo, quem foi tão crítico de gestões científicas anteriores, bem deveria vir agora para a praça publica falar também dos problemas da gestão atual. Se não, voltamos sempre à mesma dinâmica partidária que torna tudo medíocre pelo seu clubismo. A Ciência não pode ser clubista. Tem que ser avaliada ela própria pelo método científico. Gostava de ter acesso aos dados de projetos patrocinados e também das carreiras universitárias. A minha hipótese é que qualquer medição de interdisciplinaridade e consanguinidade académica em Portugal demonstrará uma situação péssima em comparação com as melhores práticas. Temos que fazer as paredes disciplinares (e do privilegio subjacente ao inbreeding académico) cair também em Portugal!

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Disco-Punk in Music, Computing and Academia: personal intro for Ian Rogers

We are thrilled to Present Ian Rogers whose approach and career highlight a Punk attitude we share. Of course, there is the superficial connection of our being professors and DJs, who love and often play the Beastie Boys. But we want to focus on a deeper philosophical stance we think we share and which is very needed in academia---potentially exemplified by SICE. We think of it as a Punk-Disco attitude. Punk and Disco became wrongly seen as opposing forces due to the racist and homophobic "disco sucks" movement. But, in truth, the two informed one another from the beginning, as both originated at the same time in NYC, as a revulsion against the erudite affectations of the white men ivory tower that Rock, Jazz, and Classical music had become. While Punk brought a DIY attitude to breaking walls, Disco broke them via a melting pot pleasure principle: it melded the Latin sounds of Puerto Rico with Philly R&B to produce hymns of sexual liberation for everybody---be it Donna Summer's hymn to female orgasm (in I feel love) to openly gay, bisexual and transgendered acts like Sylvester, Grace Jones, The Village People, etc.  As Johnny Rotten/Lydon (lead singer of the Sex Pistols and P.i.L.) famously said: "I like disco, it is functional music that makes people dance". In fact, most punk acts of the time liked and indeed produced disco: from David Byrne (who played guitar in cult disco hits) to Blondie (a white female Punk Rocker with the first disco-rap #1 hit in America) to the Thin White Duke himself.

The point here is that effective rebellion is made by empowering people to do it themselves, include everybody's point of view, and be fun, sexy and stylish at it! To bring this discussion back to us here in academia and SICE, let us acknowledge that ours is the ultimate ivory tower dominated by white people. Punk-Disco is not naturally rewarded in siloed departments and hierarchies of elite schools and scholars. Nothing could be less Punk-Disco than a Nobel prize, the pinnacle of academia. Indeed, it is no accident that both Johan and I started our careers at the Los Alamos National Lab, home of some of the most Punk-Disco scientists of all time like John and Klara Von Neumann and Richard Feynman. But SICE attracted us because of its original breaking walls vision, which was at heart Punk-Disco---I only came here because I was recruited by the most Punk-Disco philosopher of our days: Andy Clark. We work every day to break the ivory tower, with DIY ethos but also functionally and in style---be it with our new NSF-NRT interdisciplinary training grant that attempts to find a common beat between computing and the social and physical sciences, be it with our attitudes to fight the accepted wisdom of academia, which even when well-intentioned tends to approach everything with a white-elitist bias.

All this to highlight how important it is for us at SICE to remain connected to Punk-Disco movers and shakers like Ian Rogers. His phenomenal trajectory from CS here in Bloomington to forging digital music revolution (winamp, TopSin, Beats Music, Apple), to his role now in shaping more personalized fashion and luxury at LVMH, we can think of no one more Punk-Disco than him. Academia needs to learn from his lessons, "because our crystal ball ain't so crystal clear" we need his "Super Disco Breakin, Money making". "I'm tellin' y'all it's sabotage."

Luis Rocha and Johan Bollen (A.K.A. E-Trash and DJ Angst)
Indiana University, April 12, 2018

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Funky Dance Floor on Fire and No Wall Spirits

We have been doing the Riot Bootique in Bloomington again since the Summer, including a transcontinental edition. They have been wonderful parties full of love with great people---the best antidote to the current political realities. The two sets from last Friday are here in the Funky Dancefloor on Fire---well, the first set plus a lot of the second set. I wanted it funky (given Bootsy Collins' recent visit to Bloomington), and it is. But it covers all the Riot Bootique bases: from Disco to House and Techno via Funk. Since I have been busy to post these through the winter, here is also an assembly of various sets during Fall 2017 and Winter 2018: No Walls Spirits, to celebrate The Riot and its people; all kinds, all colors, all types of love. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next month. Tracklists and podcasts below. Funky Dancefloor on Fire and No Walls Spirits are also available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).

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O Rui Veloso escreveu umas musicas excelentes, mas sempre me pareceu um reacionário com gostos retro e algo rabugento. Desde o seu primeiro álbum que explora sons de décadas anteriores, nunca explorou sons contemporâneos. Agora porquê que um gajo de Portugal pode explorar o som americano negro dos blues mas um grego não deve expressar a sua criatividade com o som americano negro do hip hop, é uma questão bem explicada aqui pelos Karetus. Bitch don't kill my vibe. Entretanto, vou colocar o seu greatest hits bem juntinho ao greatest hits do festival da canção na minha coleção de CDs.

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Something so right

Anyone who has read this blog knows I regard David Bowie as a musical deity. But there are other musicians who are also musical gods in my view. One of them is certainly Paul Simon, the pinnacle of musician-singer-songwritership. No doubt Bod Dylan is a great poet, but Simon has the rarest ability to make music and word meld into something so inseparably right. Beautiful separately, but divine together. Certainly Leonard Cohen also mastered music and word, but musically Simon is a perfectionist. His attention to detail and seeking new sounds is that of the ultimate craftsperson. I can only think of Cole Porter as comparable in melding music, word and production in the mutually amplifying manner that only the best art can achieve---and then again, Porter was not as great a singer as Simon. Below a list of my favorite diamonds on the soles of his shoes.

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The Sweetest Taboo is Christmas

The year ends with tons of media attention, a bit of media whoring, really: The Independent, Time, Publico, GizModo, The National Post, Men's Fitness, Mother Jones, ArsTechnica, The Sun, Drive with Yasmeen Khan (at 17:30) (audio of interview), etc.

What is important is that it refers to a paper I'm really proud of. First, because it was a great collaboration that started with Joana Sá at Gulbenkian, who had the idea to look at the birth peaks problem. Then it involved Johan Bollen, a long time partner in crime, and Ian Wood, one my students who has been a real pleasure to work with. I am very proud with our demonstration that Data Science, Computational Social Science, and Complexity research can be used to obtain surprising results and invalidate previous hypotheses. In other words, Data Science that does not simply validate our pre-existing biases and accepted wisdom, but demonstrates new explanations. In this case, we found that online interest in sex rises at Christmas and other cultural celebrations, with more births nine months later, in what is the first global analysis of human birth-rate cycles. Another bonus was that to reach our results, we developed a novel spectral methodology for sentiment analysis on social media. To make things even better, it is fun Science dealing with the Sweetest Taboo, as all the media attention shows and Sade knew all along: Everyday is Christmas, and every night is New Years eve.

A post shared by DJ Angst and E-Trash (@riotbootique) on

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Best City Zen Music of 2017

2017 was a great year for music, which tends to happen when the politics sucks! Here the is the best City Zen of the year (which I may update until the end of the year). Albums, Tracks, Remixes/Edits, and Box Set.

Top 25 Albums of 2017

There are definitely 3 Top albums that are just excellent from beginning to end:

LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
London Grammar - Truth is a Beautiful Thing 
The XX - I See You

The other 22 alphabetically:

!!! - Shake the Shudder 
Marc Almond - Shadows and Reflections 
Arcade Fire - Everything Now
Ana Bacalhau - Nome Próprio 
Capicua, Emicida, Rael, Valete - Língua Franca
Dave Dapper - Emotional Freedom Technique
Fujiya & Miyagi - Fujiya & Miyagi
The Gift - Altar 
João Gil - Por... 
Goldie - The Journey Man
HMB - +
Kendrik Lamar - Damn. 
Lana Del Rey - Lust for Life
Lorde - Melodrama
Moullinex - Hypersex
The National - Sleep Well Beast 
Polo & Pan - Caravelle
PZ - Império Auto-Mano
The Sparks - Hippopotamus
Thundercat - Drunk 
Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference
Wednesday Campanella - Superman

Top 100 Tracks of 2017

The best way to display this is via a Spotify list (alphabetically):

Top 25 Remixes and Edits of 2017

There were definitely 3 remixes above the rest, which took the original into another place of excellence. It is great when a track has two great lives, which is a remix at its best: 

David Bowie - Helden (Filburt 91189 Club Mix)
London Grammar - Hell to the Liars (Gorgon City Remix)
The XX - On Hold (Jamie XX Remix)

The remaining awesome remixes in no particular order:

Satin Jackets - Never Enough (CASSARA Remix)
Lorde - Green Light (Chromeo Remix)
Basement Jaxx - Do Your Thing (Robbie Rivera Acid Remix)
New Order - People on the High Line (Purple Disco Machine Remix)
Jessie Ware - Midnight (Goldie Epic Remix)
Depeche Mode - Cover Me (Dixon Remix)
Iggy Pop - Lust For Life (The Prodigy Remix)
RY X - Bad Love (Eagles & Butterflies Remix)
Michael the Lion - Get it On (DJ Bruce's On & On Mix)
New Order - Tutti Frutti (Takkyu Ishino Remix)
Coyu & Paolo Rocco - Forward Pleasure (Franky Rizardo Flow Edit)
Luther Vandross - Never Too Much (Dr. Packer A Thousand Kisses Edit)
Heróis Do Mar - O Amor (Selvagem Portonic Por Favor Edit)
Jamiroquai - Cloud 9 (Purple Disco Machine Remix)
London Grammar - Big Picture (Gui Boratto Remix)
Oliver Heldens (Feat. Ida Corr) - Good Life (Blanee Remix)
Heatwave - Boogie Nights (SlothBoogie Edit)
Soul Clap ft. Ebony Houston - Numb  (Eli Escobar remix)
Stevie Wonder and Common - Living For The Chi-City (Amerigo Gazaway A Common Wonder Mashup)
Wham! - Everything She Wants (The Reflex Revision)
Sylvester - Can't Stop (Yuksek Edit)
Tony Blue - Bicho Ruim (Fatnotronic & Joutro Mundo Rework)

Best BoxSet of 2017

David Bowie - A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982)

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Sacrificial Clown at the Altar of Hipocrisy

The recent resignation of Al Fanken brought to mind Malcom X's discussion of American democracy as hypocrisy. Thank you Maureen Dowd for shedding light on this most recent Democratic party great hypocrisy. As if Clinton Inc. did not know that Weinstein was as rapist (even Jane Fonda knew!), as if they believed the women who accused Bill Clinton.

The accusations against Al Franken pale in comparison to those against Weinstein and Clinton---if they are even real. Yet, all the Democratic party senators who are now so outraged with Franken, including Gillibrand, were holding hands with Bill Clinton in the 2016 convention and in their own campaign events---as if the women who accused him never existed---and taking money from Weinstein. All of them, plus Gloria Steinem, Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton, should now apologize to Clinton's accusers for not believing their recollections---those women are still there waiting for that recognition, and there is, after all "a special place in hell for women who don't help each other".

Democratic party leaders should apologize that the most well known feminist in the land, as well as the first woman nominated for the presidency by the Democratic party, fat-, age- and slut-shamed rather than believed those women, as now they so sanctimoniously shout we should do in the Franken case. They should also explain better how they did not know about Weinstein. This has nothing to do with excusing X because Y is worse, but about simple fairness and decency, rather than hypocrisy and shamelessness of mythical proportions.

My guess is that Franken is the sacrificial clown so that the Democratic party doesn't deal with the bigger offenders and its collective guilt on the topic. Franken's actions should certainly be investigated and taken where they should. But the idea that the party is doing this because of a watershed moment against sexual assault is a joke. I will believe that when all those apologies start coming out. As Maureen Dowd says, "that's no way to be the party that protects women."

"They attack the victim, and then the criminal who attacked the victim accuses the victim of attacking him. This is American justice. This is American democracy and those of you who are familiar with it know that in America democracy is hypocrisy. Now, if I’m wrong, put me in jail; but if you can’t prove that democracy is not hypocrisy, then don’t put your hands on me." Malcolm X.

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Soul Free from the 90s

At the start of the new decade, while still an undergraduate, with the paycheck from my first job as a full-time research assistant at the Laboratorio Nacional de Engenharia Civil, I finally bought a CD player. A Sony. With it came two free CDs, a collection of 70s hits and George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. As if to leave the 80s out, Sony gave me a collection of 70's hits (it did have some good funk tracks) and George Michael's cry for more artistic and personal Freedom in the new decade. I had liked some of Wham and Faith in the 1980s, but never enough to actually buy the records. So I would most likely not have bought Listen Without Prejudice if it had not come for free with the player. While I can't say this was the first CD I bought (that honor goes to the Pet Shop Boys' Behaviour, another classic), it was a very lucky accident, because it was and is a phenomenal album. Probably one of the CDs I have played most in my life. Its melancholy was a great surprise---certainly not a Wake me up before you GoGo deal. But what comes through most is George Michael's great singing ability and his musicianship---he was also certainly inspired by Soul II Soul's sound, of which I was a great fan at the time. Great to see a remastered version of this album now out, together with an unplugged live set and a CD full of remixes and one-off singles, nothing too new except for the Fantasy track now reworked by Niles Rodgers but utterly forgettable (I can see why it was not included in the original album). Still, the new deluxe compilation is a great reminder of how great this album still sounds. May his Soul remain free. And people, keep listening without prejudice.

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Ilustres Professores

Não, não se trata de falar sobre o inbreeding nas universidades Portuguesas, nem tão pouco da falta de interdisciplinaridade na FCT em Portugal, apesar de ambos os problemas serem sérios. Vou falar dos ilustres Professores Portugueses que volta e meia são convidados a integrar as melhores universidades Americanas, para deleite dos media nacionais que os adoram destacar. As escutas do caso Sócrates servem também para desmascarar a "excelência" académica de um destes casos. O diálogo agora publicado entre Manuel Pinho e José Sócrates (ver exerto em baixo) com vista a obterem um lugar convidado na Columbia University é fantástico para se apreciar a profundeza do pensamento de ambos, e também a parte mercenária e subversiva destas universidades de topo. Meus amigos, há anos que ando para dizer isto, mas tenho-me comedido. Este diálogo (ver em baixo) faz-me abdicar de toda a modéstia, mas isto tem que ser dito. Sempre que virem algum fulano que de repente aparece Professor numa universidade Americana de topo, fiquem a saber que sé é Professor convidado, muito provavelmente pagou para lá estar ou vem com custas a cargo de alguma fundação ou benfeitor exterior à universidade. Nenhuma destas "sumidades académicas" aparece como Professor do quadro (tenure-track), que são as verdadeiras posições alcançadas por mérito académico. Para comparação vejam os casos, ambos na Columbia University, de Manuel Pinho (convidadíssimo, "Faculty Affiliates →Visiting Professor") e de um verdadeiro grande cientista Português  ("Faculty and Research → Professor").

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Resonance Machine

Growing up in the 80s it was tough to find like-minded cultural partners and products, in a media that was completely dominated by an obsession with authenticity a la 1969. Living in the most postmodern decade of them all was often frustrating because you had to dig hard to find the best of the cultural products of the time, instead of what older hippies told you to like. Old-fashioned social networks were so important to curate the amazing things that were being produced: records, tapes, fanzines, obscure radio, movie festivals were traded hand to hand and from word of mouth among family and friends. Only now do I realize that we got to sample and experience an urban America that most Americans didn't, and the construction of a European cosmopolitanism that many Europeans now reject. All this to say how much I love the Portuguese Blog a Máquina de Escrever. Every post resonates with a Portuguese, post-nationalist cosmopolitanism that defines me, and apparently many others. It's as if they are written from my own mind, only made much more intense as only resonance with a like-minded community can achieve. More human than human. These people must have grown up with me. Obrigado pela grande Máquina! We can be us.



Radical humanism

I miss being in a place where people rather spend $1000 on a surfboard than on an automatic weapon. More than anything, a place where I am just a person, instead of facing a permanent mental calculation of identity that only serves to divide us. I kid you not, even in the arena of academic freedom, speech is tallied not by what you say or contribute but the identity someone else decided you represent. No other way to put it: the US is just currently messed up. Trump did not invent divisiveness, he is simply the natural product of a society where both left and right decided that it was better to focus on self-expression and individualism as political stance, rather than community and citizenship. Maybe it is the final gasps of the baby boomer generation and one can only hope they did not irreparably format younger generations with their pathetic need for self-expression and identity. We are not all individuals; we is society.

The more we play the identity game, the more it divides and pits us against one another. National, linguistic, religious, racial, gender, and sexual identities only divide us more and more. The only solution is to be radically humanist. The only identity that I self-identify with, and accept to be labeled as, is human. My nationality, language, chromosomal makeup, and all the other categorical inventions are my own business; they do not dictate my politics nor my actions.



House of Love

The Riot Bootique returned to Bloomington after more than a year away. It was a wonderful Party full of love with people who came to celebrate with us the reunion. I wanted to celebrate what is best about Bloomington and the US and deride what divides us. House of Love is my first set (plus first track of second set), with some political overtones but all about inclusion (first set of the night before DJ Angst). The Riot was full of people; all kinds, all colors, all types of love. DJ Angst and E-Trash, will return to our cybernetic DJing next month. Tracklist and podcast for House of Love available on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree).

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We don't need this fascist groove thing.

You don't heal a society by tearing down statues. When did iconoclasm heal anything? A more robust solution is to incorporate new values into the existing ones, side by side. Every country with sufficiently long history faces these issues. In the US case, it is not just the civil war and slavery that needs healing. From a Native American perspective, every statue and flag celebrating the USA --- yes, including Washington and Jefferson --- also celebrates their collective loss and annihilation. Are we really going to tear down every offensive historical artifact?

As for the President's role. What a surprise Trump is a racist! More than half of voting white people in the U.S. voted for him despite him saying things like "Mexico only sends us rapists, let's build a wall, etc." To this day, his approval is at 37%, I would imagine most of them from his white base. This means that roughly one in every two white Americans who sees my name probably thinks I'm an inferior human---which is still much better odds than the proportion of northern Europeans who think southern, Hispanic Europeans like me are inferior (hey, the Dutch president of the eurogroup got away with saying southern countries spent their money on women and wine.) Just providing some bicontinental context.

Of course the US would do much better embracing a Mandela when it comes to healing. Obama tried, but reactionary forces, to hold on to power, embraced and assembled the extreme forces with dog whistles; now the wild dogs run the show. Still, we cannot succumb to fight intolerance with more iconoclasm. Let free speech rule; all speech. If all speech is allowed to coexist, the most extreme forces will be more and more in the fringe without an excuse or resentment. But let's never tolerate violence or intimidation.

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He's the groove

This Pope is Disco! Somebody should write a "disco opera" for him. Seriously now, so happy that the modern Vatican is delineating so very clearly that Catholics in the US have been contaminated by heretical (as far as new testament is concerned) evangelical incoherence: theocratic bureaucracies hell-bent on bringing the apocalypse via unholy alliances between big capital and weapon makers are as far from modern Catholicism as can be, and indeed not far from Islamism.

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Suppe a la clown: or what if Trump is right?

Trump is a cumbersome buffoon. No doubt about that. But while his approach certainly is counterproductive and not that relevant to the US, he is right about Germany's role on global (mostly EU) macroeconomics, defense and I would say even climate---even though Merkel and most Germans try to address some of these concerns. On macroeconomics, we all know that Germany is living off a depreciated euro for its export surpluses. If it still had the mark, it would be much higher given Germany's spectacular trade surpluses. So, especially for the Eurozone, but also with all its trading partners, it should increase consumption, raise salaries, etc. Of course it has no rational, self-interest reason to do that, but since Europeans do not have the power to do it, a little pressure from the US could be a good thing---if it did not come from a mean, dictator-loving, unprepared president following behind on a golf cart. On defense, it is clearly under spending (1.2 of GDP). There are historical reasons for that, but it is time for Germany to live up to the NATO commitments it signed on to, especially given the trade surpluses it has. Finally, on climate. While Germany signs all the right treaties, when it comes to enforcing them, it is not so good. I am convinced that German automakers are involved in the greatest environmental con job ever. The fallacy of diesel engines (on which German automakers have put so much stock and are still defended by Merkel) should make all Europeans furious. We have known for so long that Diesel engines, despite best technical efforts, pollute more than gasoline engines---especially when not well tuned, which is what happens 75% of the time. But with the Orwellian labeling of Diesel engines with green Eco labels, and with criminal lies, German automakers are responsible for filling European cities with Diesel engines. No wonder so many cities, from Madrid to Paris, are struggling with air quality. Yes, other nations' automakers have followed in the diesel fallacy too, but European countries have long created incentives for people to buy those cars (probably with pressure from German automakers), so of course all automakers will try to respond to the market demand. In summary, it is not only the loud mouths we have to worry about. The quiet "experts" and "serious people" in Germany have been pushing failed economic orthodoxy and dirty technology, while not stepping up to their commitments on economics (no penalty for Germany's current account and budget surpluses against Euro rules), security (under-paying what they agreed to in NATO), and climate (the corporate lying on Diesel engines most probably was or should have been known at the highest levels).

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E agora para uma perspetiva glam: para quê cercas musicais?

Adoro a canção portuguesa que a Luísa Sobral escreveu para o seu irmão e que venceu a Eurovisão---aliás a Luísa Sobral é uma das melhores cantautoras do Mundo neste momento. Mas sinceramente não gostei do discurso de aceitação do Salvador Sobral, nem de algumas entrevistas que ambos mais tarde deram. Desconfio sempre de um artista que diz que faz "musica de qualidade" em comparação com o que os outros fazem; não há necessidade. Tantas músicas excelentes foram feitas para ser dançadas e encenadas mesmo para o fogo de artíficio e até para as macacadas--por falar nisso, acho que a canção Italiana é também uma canção Pop perfeita, inteligente, e sentida mesmo com, e até por causa do macaco. Por exemplo, o grande Cole Porter escreveu quase todas as suas obras primas para peças da Broadway com muitos brilhantes, figurantes, luzes e fogo de artifício. Mas tarde ficaram standards de Jazz com outros como Bille Holiday, Frank Sinatra ou até Caetano Veloso. Alguém duvida que estas músicas têm sentimento? Como se o Glam dos Roxy ou Bowie, e mesmo a Pop maquilhada dos ABBA e do Disco/Funk não fossem imensamente sentidas? Por isso acho que são peneiras desnecessárias estar a dizer mal das músicas de "fogo de artificio." A musica da Luisa Sobral é tão boa que não necessita que se deite abaixo as outras por serem dançadas, encenadas, etc. Até o Miles Davies tocou esse grande mago do fogo artifício que era Michael Jackson (também Caetano o fez), ou Cindy Lauper, essa nada subtil "performer"---e a própria Luisa é conhecida pelas suas fantásticas versões. A autenticidade é apenas uma outra encenação, outra "persona". O Ziggy Stardust a cantar "Song for Bob Dylan" já demonstrou isso há muito tempo. Deixemos as cercas intelectuais para trás, pelo menos na eurovisão. Life is a Cabaret, don't fence me in. #NoFences.



"Save us from the innocent and the good"

Dear Ross Douthat, you need to get out more often. Your column comes from such a constrained lens of XX-century, American, religious, self-righteousness that all I can think of is Graham Green and his quiet American. In what country do you live that you can claim that Europe has a democracy deficit vis a vis the US? The US legislative body systematically votes against the opinion of its vast majority, ranging from reasonable gun control to health care, passing through net neutrality, government surveillance and many others---least of which is electing a president who lost the popular vote by a lot and a severely gerrymandered congress! What about the rights of minorities within a democracy? Have you heard of #blacklivesmatter and the disproportionate number of African-Americans on death row (how religious is death penalty, by the way?), or the unemployment and otherwise horrible conditions of Native Americans? On Europe: the Euro is certainly a bad invention as implemented, but it could be improved. We should not scrape a Union that has brought unprecedented peace to the continent because religious conservatives feel threatened by a secular society---especially one that works quite well in practice, as demonstrated by fact-based (not opinion-based) health, life-expectancy, education tests, and democracy indices---all higher than the US (21st below most EU countries in democracy index, from the Economist, not a leftist, pro-European outfit, by the way). Both sides of the North Atlantic have problems as well as successes. Shallow analysis in support of Populists who only point to the downsides and not the many demonstrable upsides, is "Innocence", which, as Greene put it best, “is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”

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Consumer Protection

In the European Union (EU) no airline or airport security could remove and "re-accommodate" Dr. Dao from an airplane he boarded on a paying ticket---much less forcibly remove and abuse him as United and the Chicago Airport security did. In the EU all overbooking situations must be resolved prior to check-in---let alone boarding. This is called consumer protection, something successive US administrations (Republican and Democratic alike) have abandoned due to corporate lobbying, while furthermore allowing monopolistic mergers and establishing noncompetitive subsidies for US air carriers (e.g. requiring that state and federal employees fly only on US carriers). There is no point in being outraged about this situation; what we (including the media editorial boards) must demand is regulation to protect consumers and a government that enforces existing anti-monopoly and competitive laws with the consumer in mind, not just corporate interests. As the EU regulations demonstrate, it is quite possible to have such consumer protections in a capitalist and democratic society. By the way, what we call lobbying in the US is called corruption elsewhere (see South Korea and Brazil). It leads the to the society the US has become: only the rich can expect first-World health-care, education, and basic consumer respect.

From "Fear of Flying, for Good Reason - The New York Times"

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Very interesting polls discussed in "Do Millennial Men Want Stay-at-Home Wives?" These regressive numbers show how much the #IdentityPolitics approach to gender relations has failed. Too much labeling, attention and differentiation of specific groups, however well intentioned, ultimately also reinforces the distinctions and biases one is trying to avoid. Similar regression in attitudes to race has been observed in the last US presidential election. Simple point-counterpoint dynamics. A much more inclusive, human- (not identity-) centered approach is needed. Dare I say a more rainbow approach to diversity? Indeed, it is in Portugal and Brasil---where the social dynamics has always been more human- rather than identity-centered---that gender balance in science is closest to equality, each just a percentage point shy of a 50-50 split




Dijsselbloem under fire after saying eurozone countries wasted money on ‘alcohol and women’

Dijsselbloem is under fire after saying eurozone countries wasted money on ‘alcohol and women.’ And these guys are then surprised the social-democrats got the beating of a lifetime in the dutch elections. A party that calls itself social-democrat but trades in erroneous. xenophobic worldviews, in tandem with the most conservative economic policy which has been proven systematically wrong---the post-crisis economic policies of the Eurogroup chaired by Dijsselbloem were a demonstrable disgrace when compared to Obama's; one of the worst recoveries after recession ever. Not to mention that a lot of the money the Netherlands gets these days is from tax evasion from profits made in other Eurogroup countries---and we could easily make cheap jokes about where the dutch spend it.



18 Forever

Here is the latest live E-Trash set performed at my niece's 18th birthday party. A Wonderful bash. All about high-energy POP fun for coming of age. So here it is, 18. It's live, errors and all. Tracklist below. You can access a higher quality file for 18 on E-Trash's site (Username: apollo, Password: feelingfree). Parabéns!

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Turquia dá lições de cidadania a Portugal

Escrevi aqui recentemente sobre como o sistema unanime de opinião nacional não repara no quanto exclui os Portugueses fora da "metrópole" (essencialmente Lisboa, mas aqui mais como Portugal continental). Foi assim igualmente com a colonização como com a descolonização de África, mas é também muito assim com todos os emigrantes Portugueses. Esta confusão recente entre a Turquia e a Holanda e Alemanha lembrou-me que até a Turquia considera os seus emigrantes como cidadãos com os mesmos direitos que os residentes (pretendendo fazer campanha eleitoral nos seus países de acolhimento). Aqui em Portugal, mais de 40 anos após o 25 de Abril, o direito de voto dos emigrantes continua uma fantochada teórica: "um direito sem direitos". A elite portuguesa, com os seus tiques imperialistas, mas inconsciente dos mesmos, acha que a nossa democracia ao designar certos cidadãos como secundários continua ainda assim exemplar, quando nunca o foi---nem na descolonização sem referendo, nem na perpetuação da situação de exclusão de um enorme numero de Portugueses como cidadãos de segunda.

"Com a voz que me resta eu não vou poder cantar
Às coisas do mundo, não sei descrever, estou longe 
São portas fechadas, segredos por revelar 
São coisas do mundo, só se podem ver ao longe"

Heróis do Mar - Fado por phewcheetah



The disrupter of Dutch doublethink

Great article by Sebastiaan Faber in the Nation about Geert Wilders. Fascinating to see how the Dutch reconcile their closeted racist skeletons with their outwards projected self-image of tolerance. This could be true in almost any European country, but it is particularly intense in the Netherlands where shame of past and sense of liberal superiority coexist in an unsustainable doublethink that Wilders exposes and shatters. "Ironically, the very thing that makes Wilders an international embarrassment to the Dutch—his challenge to their cherished self-image as the epitome of progressive tolerance—is one of his strongest trump cards".

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I've got a face, not just my race

The categories of identity politics are exactly the same as those of racism and sexism, just turned upside down on the scale of intentions. What is truly revolutionary is to erase these categories. The rock revolution of Presley, the Beatles and the Stones was all about blending race. The revolutionary blast of the New York Dolls and Glam Rock was about blending gender. Bowie, of course, did it all, which was continued by (post-Young Americans) Disco and all of his 80s children, including Prince, as well as all electronic music that derived (interestingly, Rock became a reactionary white affair, a bit like Jazz before it).

We're all individuals. "I've got a face, not just my race". Too bad academics and most political parties don't seem to accept that revolution and breakout of these categories.The point is that Identity Politics, rather than working to erase the categories of racism/sexism/homophobia, worked to enhance them, albeit with good intentions. The problem is that those linguistic categories have maintained and indeed enhanced the discourse of racism/sexism/homophobia itself---the good intentions of Identity Politics are a bit like how Graham Greene describes the good intentions of Alden Pyle, the Quiet American: "Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm". If civil rights had instead fought to erase the categories themselves (which many people like Gore Vidal for years have suggested), focusing on individual- rather than group-freedoms, we would not have created monsters like Trump. That is my opinion, anyway. Perpetuating these categories offers no solutions, simply entrenches distinctions among groups of (diverse) people.

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Soares e os retornados, ou como o Branco-de-Segunda dá em Vaca Profana

Desde a morte de Mário Soares que tenho lido vários artigos sobre a opinião que os chamados "retornados" das ex-colónias mantêm dele. Este é dos casos em que parece haver unanimidade da direita à esquerda: os retornados fazem um juízo incorreto e injusto e Soares foi o bode expiatório de uma situação trágica.

Tendo sido um retornado, refugiado da Guerra Civil de Angola, deixem-me dar um contraponto a esta unanimidade de comentário jornalístico; explicar porque sempre me senti uma vaca profana em Portugal nestes assuntos. Primeiro, digo logo à partida que não considero Mário Soares o grande culpado da descolonização---que foi nada, mesmo nada, exemplar. No entanto, como é obvio pelas cerimónias fúnebres da semana passada, ele é o grande símbolo da democracia Portuguesa que engendrou a descolonização após o 25 de Abril. Como tal, é natural que nos seus ombros se deposite simbolicamente tanto os louvores como as mágoas do regime presente e da sua história recente.

Pelo menos desde o século XIX que os Portugueses nas colónias não foram considerados como cidadãos Portugueses autênticos. A opinião destes "brancos-de-segunda" (eu nasci com essa designação que impedia acesso como igual às instituições militares, sociais, económicas e politicas portuguesas) nunca foi fator importante nas decisões dos senhores da grande quinta imperial que mantinha Portugal; eram apenas os trabalhadores dessa quinta. Muito menos contou a opinião da população considerada indígena africana cuja diversidade a Europa e América do século XIX e XX nunca compreenderam---considerando todos como negros e mestiços, nunca percebendo que há muito maior diversidade racial dentro de África do que fora dela.

O grande problema de toda a discussão que se tem em Portugal sobre a descolonização é que ela ainda assenta nesses preceitos e preconceitos colonialistas e racistas. Por exemplo, à esquerda, Daniel Oliveira diz que a descolonização "foi uma decisão que foi coletiva e largamente consensual: da esmagadora maioria dos portugueses que vivia na Metrópole, dos militares e de todos os políticos de então [...] Não seriam as exigências dos portugueses que viviam em África que poderiam prolongar por mais um dia essa guerra [colonial]." Isto é, a ideia de que a opinião (voto?!) dos "brancos-de-segunda" fosse para aqui chamada é inconcebível. À direita temos Henrique Raposo que nos diz também "meu caro amigo [retornado] tem de perceber que 'nem mais um soldado para África' não era um chavão da esquerda, era o sentimento genuíno da população." Isto é, os "brancos-de-segunda," mais uma vez, não são se quer concebidos como fazendo parte da população Portuguesa. A privação da cidadania desse grupo de cidadãos portugueses é ainda hoje internalizada---quero pensar de forma subconsciente---por comentadores Portugueses que respeito bastante tanto da esquerda com da direita! A elite de opinião política aparentemente unanime nunca percebe porque certos grupos se sentem marginalizados; a sua lógica negocia na linguagem do próprio disenfranchisement (privação de direitos) que nunca é repensada. Depois ficam admirados com a suposta falta de lógica daqueles que não se revêm na "unanimidade" de opinião---como no caso de Mário Soares e os retornados.

Mas se o tratamento euro-centrico foi mau para os "brancos-de-segunda," foi ainda muito pior para aqueles que são vistos como Africanos indígenas genuínos---como se brancos, indianos, chineses nascidos em África não o fossem também, ou, ainda pior, como se os "negros" fossem uma massa racial uniforme! Os Europeus formatados pelo nacionalismo dos séculos XIX e XX nunca perceberam a diversidade do continente e os comentadores políticos deste século usam ainda as categorias de pensamento herdadas dessa época. Daniel Oliveira diz "os povos africanos também tinham de se libertar." Quais povos africanos?  A esquerda afinal aceita estados definidos racialmente? Ou só para o caso especial dos "africanos", essa conceção de uma massa escura uniforme herdada do colonialismo do século XIX? Ainda não internalizaram Nelson Mandela ou Albert Camus? Ou os Die Antwoord, Trevor Noah e Charlize Theron?

O que está aqui em causa é que os pensadores da nossa revolução, incluindo Mário Soares, pensaram e construíram a descolonização com preceitos colonialistas e racistas herdados do pior do colonialismo. Só contou a opinião dos brancos da metrópole. Os "brancos-de-segunda" tiveram que aceitar a opinião daqueles, baixando a bolinha como bons  e dóceis trabalhadores da quinta que sempre foram. Quanto a todos aqueles que foram conceptualizados como africanos ("os escurinhos") que se entendessem entre si. Na realidade este laissez-faire Português do inicio da democracia representou um abandono da responsabilidade que Portugal, como governo das regiões africanas do seu império durante 500 anos, obviamente devia a todos os cidadãos da região independentemente da sua cor. Sim, o pai de Henrique Cardoso e os da sua geração queriam naturalmente o fim da guerra colonial, mas a responsabilidade criada durante 500 anos de regência não se esvanece num ano. Os Portugueses fugiram dessa responsabilidade escondendo-se atrás da mudança de regime. Mas essa é a grande hipocrisia do regime atual simbolizado por Mário Soares---aliás esta hipocrisia foi bem visível no seu funeral nos Jerónimos, esse grande símbolo do Império Português. Pois, a democracia chamou para si a grandeza dos símbolos do Império mas negou a responsabilidade que tinha sobre os povos de todas as raças que viviam sob a sua tutela durante 500 anos. Sim, queremos a Praça do Império de Salazar, mas não aceitamos qualquer responsabilidade do que se passou com os que não eram "brancos da metrópole" na altura da revolução. O que nunca se assume sobre esse abandono é que muito para além das misérias que os "retornados" passaram, a fuga das tropas Portuguesas (que de forma eficaz dominaram militarmente o produtivo território até 1974) levou em Angola a uma guerra civil entre povos africanos distintos (Ovimbundus, Ambundus, Bakongos, e outros) em que morreram mais de 500 mil civis, deixando um país corrupto em que a saúde e escolaridade infantil são do pior do Mundo!

Para que não haja dúvidas, não defendo de todo que Portugal se mantivesse como potencia colonial em Africa. Mas o que teria sido exemplar era ter considerado a opinião e o voto de toda a população no Império Português, mantendo-se a ordem por via militar até esse objetivo ser alcançado. 500 anos de domínio exigiam pelo menos uns 5 anitos de transição em que os direitos de cidadania de todos---brancos-de-segunda e indígenas---fossem considerados. A grande vergonha do regime democrático vindo da revolução Portuguesa foi que não garantiu, nem se quer tentou, a democracia para todos os seus cidadãos para além dos brancos da metrópole. As tropas Portuguesas nunca deveriam ter abandonado os territórios sem eleições locais, após exigir o cessar-fogo e desarmamento das fações militares para se atingir a independência. Isso teria sido exemplar.

O tal sistema unanime de opinião nacional mantém que uma transição mais suave não teria sido possível regionalmente. Por exemplo, Daniel Oliveira diz que algo como isto teria sido possível no inicio dos anos 60, mas não em 1975. Mas esse lugar-comum da opinião nacional nunca refere que em 1975 muitos dos vizinhos de Angola e Moçambique (Namibia, Africa do Sul, Zimbabwe/Rodésia) eram ainda colónias ou governados por minorias brancas---Zimbabwe fica independente em 1980, Namibia em 1990, e o Apartheid só cai em 1994! Isto é, havendo vontade política em Lisboa, teria sido possível um processo de descolonização de 5 ou mais anos com dignidade para todos. Se os revolucionários portugueses tivessem respeitado todos os cidadãos do Império, ao invés de olhar para o umbigo de Lisboa, Portugal poderia ter gerido apoio regional e internacional suficiente para uma descolonização diga desse nome, e não uma fuga irresponsável. Ter mantido a ordem militar um pouco mais, teria evitado uma guerra que matou mais de 500 mil civis em Angola---em comparação, a guerra colonial em todos os territórios matou 8 mil pessoas .

Deixo-vos com Die Antwoord, que só são possíveis devidos a um democrata que deve ser verdadeiramente respeitado por pensar em todos, não só no seu umbigo político e regional: Nelson Mandela. Se Soares (ou o sistema que representa) tivesse conseguido uma verdadeira descolonização democrática, a história vê-lo-ia hoje tão grande como Mandela---como o Pai de uma verdadeira democracia pós-racial no Mundo de expressão portuguesa. Mas não foi isso que aconteceu e a História sabe-o.

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