terça-feira, 5 de agosto de 2008

Süchtig nach Dokumentarfilmen (Addicted to Documentaries)

After spending a good time enjoying my free time watching television shows/movies that I judged to be worth of my time, I started a new tendency to watch documentaries. It turns out that it feels even better to watch them. I never knew such masterpieces existed and I am always craving new ones. Their quality is so amazing that it makes me wonder why they are not more popular. Far from boring, they are made in a dynamic and interesting way. They are also all legally available on the internet, making them extremely easy to be found. Therefore, I made a small list with my favorites so far. I have a feeling this list might get much longer with time:
The Century of the Self - By Adam Curtis
English documentary from the BBC analyzing the evolution of the human psychology in the 20th century and its effects on the market and on politics. This is so far the best documentary I have ever seen. Curtis' documentaries are precise and objective, but also fun. There is no personal view or sensationalism. This is how every documentary should be.
The Power of Nightmares - By Adam Curtis
Another one by Curtis, this time about the fundamental change in the political expectations from people: we used to be offered an ideology. After ideologies failed, we expected good administrators to take care of us. Now, we want to be protected from dangers that sometimes don't even exist. If you want to understand the world nowadays, this is a very good start.
Hooked - Illegal drugs and how they got this way
Why are drugs illegal? I have been asking myself this question for a long time, and this series of documentaries answer this question in detail, without taking sides. It's an important insight on how society works.
Personally I can't think of anything that gives more information in a concise and efficient way than these documentaries. I hope other people will be curious about them too so we can talk about it anytime soon.

segunda-feira, 21 de julho de 2008

George Carlin

"You know how I describe the economic and social classes of this country? The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep them going to those jobs". - More than just a comedian, he is full of great videos in youtube. Check it out.

sábado, 28 de junho de 2008

The Southside Report - Teil 1

On this last Friday, the 20th of June, I went with my friend Naime, her boyfriend Christoph and his cousin Vitor to the Southside Festival here in the south of Germany, near the Bodensee. In 2006 there were festivals like this in the summer, but my ignorance and the high price of the tickets made me not go to any of them. Filled with regret, I promised myself that I would visit at least one big festival this summer, since we never have the chance to watch so many good bands at once in Brazil. I chose the Southside because I heard good things about it, it is relatively close to where I am living and because Radiohead and the Foo Fighters were going to play.

Because of my situation regarding the job search and the hiring process, I didn't pay much attention to the planning of the festival until it was too late. We would like to rent a trailer to have some comfort there, but by the time we started looking for them, they were all already taken. This year, 50.000 people were in the Southside Festival. These festivals work like this: there is a big place where the shows happen, with stores and some infrastructure, that is open during the day and until the last show of the night ends. Afterwards, you have to leave this area and sleep somewhere around it. Most people bring tents and camp outside. Others bring trailers. There is no infrastructure there, such as sanitation or even a cell phone signal (that is permanently jammed because there are so many people there).

Given our lack of organization, we were very lucky to still find a good car to rent at a very good price. We negotiated a Ford Modeo Wagon for mere 75 Euros for the whole weekend. Therefore we had enough place to put all of our luggage and still be comfortable in the car. We met in SAP on Friday afternoon, picked up the car, went shopping for supplies and drinks and left for the festival. Thanks to the navigation system, it was fairly easy to get there. However, there was a traffic jam on the way in that held us back for almost two hours. We found a good place near the trailers to park the car and stayed fairly close to the concert area. Also, we were lucky to be close to a big company that made it easy for us to find our stuff and had some light during the night.

There were all sorts of people going there. The cars were all different and filled with students, bikers, rockers, hippies and even old people that you would never expect to see in such a place. At this point I had no idea what to expect from the event, just that it was going to be very full and messy. The idea that it was going to last for a whole weekend was quite scary at that point, especially because my new job started right on the next tuesday. But there was no more going back then.

The car: best deal ever.

Our supplies. Might look like a lot, but on the last day we already didn't have enough.

One of the camping places... a sea of tents that looked endless.


terça-feira, 24 de junho de 2008

Einwanderung (Immigration)

As many of you probably know, a new law was recently enforced changing the EU Immigration Policy. Here you can find an interesting Letter from the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, on the subject. You can ignore the petition, as I did, since it won't change anything anymore. Since I am a legal immigrant one could say that this change of laws doesn't affect me. However, as an European Citizen, even if only temporarily, I can't ignore the meaning of this change to society not only here but worldwide.
Globalization is not working as it was supposed to. Many regions of the world keep getting poorer while others keep getting richer. However, I don't blame the concept of globalisation, since I believe that some people are distorting it and corrupting it and these people are responsible for its failure. The restriction of immigration and the power to "hunt down" illegal immigrants is one of these distortions, and a very dangerous one. In countries where people are disappointed, the foreigners became the best scapegoats not only for extremist groups, but also the government. In the USA the government uses Terrorism to justify controlling who can enter the country. Here in Europe the reasons aren't even masked, as many people complain openly about the foreigners as if they were the cause of all the problems their countries are facing. Pair this up with some nationalism and political opportunism, and you have a timebomb in your hands.
How could globalisation work without open borders? The whole idea of turning the world into a market is that those who have cheap labour to offer can get richer through their work and those who have the knowledge can help improve the conditions in underdeveloped countries. It's an obvious interchange that aims to make the world more homogeneous and increase the competitivity and quality in all industries. If people in Germany don't have many kids and they need workers, why can't they get some from Africa, where people are desperate for the working conditions they could get here? If education is weaker in Brazil, why can't brazilian students come to Germany and learn how to improve the market in their home country? In the end, don't we all benefit from it?
The critical point is very simple: if everybody wins, somebody loses. Or at least it looks like that. Europeans and americans had the chance to rule over the world with such a dominance that allowed them to have a non-sustainable luxurious life for a long time. And now they think they are permanently entitled to that. However, if globalisation works properly, the tendency is that everybody will have to settle down for a "good" life, not a luxurious one. It's impossible that the whole world can have the same standards as the europeans; the world doesn't have enough resources. Instead of accepting that and starting to support the development of the poorer countries, so that the whole world could be in a decent situation, many people are supporting the opposite: closing down the borders, going to war and trying to keep an unrealistic lifestyle no matter what.
This is something I really can't understand clearly. What kind of reward can be more fullfilling than the thought that most people in the world have a good life? How can someone want to keep a fortune of billions of dollars instead of having the peace of mind of knowing that nobody worldwide is dying of hunger? Are we that spoiled and selfish? Or simply too ignorant to realize what matters the most? Isn't it easy to see that most progress is made by people who have talent, and this talent is wasted everytime a kid can't go to school? Isn't it easy to see that the only way to fight the environmental crisis is if all the countries have enough resources to care for their pollution? Can't we see that fundamentalism and terrorism would vanish if people had access to a proper cultural background?
I understand that illegal immigrants are a problem for the countries here. I just don't agree with the approach to it. Instead of increasing punishment, why can't we invest on educating and regularizing these people? More than the social system, Europe has something much more valuable to offer: its culture and history, that everybody should be aware of. If the foreigners who come to Europe don't "behave" as they should, it's because they lack the cultural background and the education that turns the european citizens into what allows them to support the benefits they fought so long for. Instead of trying to push the immigrants away, Europe should welcome them with proper education and adaptation programs, to make them understand the society and contribute actively to it. I am sure the vast majority of them would be glad to do so. With the proper clarification, nobody would think that the social benefits here happen by magic and they would help keeping them a reality.
It's also crucial to make the europeans understand the value of the immigrant and how important it is for them to feel home. Those who are discriminated here end up feeling frustrated and revolted and can hardly care for a society who rejects them. This results in isolation and cultural conflict that doesn't make the foreigners stop coming to europe, it just makes them feel uncomfortable and angry. It's too naive to think that you can prevent poor people from looking for a better life. If you treat them badly, they will just hate you instead of respect you, and will disobey the laws instead of trying to understand them. Do the europeans really prefer to be hated for their indifference instead of admired for all the valuable lessons they have to teach? Haven't the USA already shown how dangerous this posture can be, burying all the fundamental teachings of their founding fathers with an inconstitutional and manipulative government that prefers to hunt down people and find scapegoats instead of investing in education and progress for the rest of the world?
I hope the European people don't fall into this trap of taking the seemingly "easy way out" and keep trying to punish the immigrants. If there are a lot of illegal immigrants in Europe, it's only Europe's fault for not being careful enough to make people care for their laws. If they want to make things right, they better realize that there is no way to stop immigration, only make it work properly so that everybody can profit from it. This should be a priority for every government here. I hope they realize this before it's too late.

quinta-feira, 19 de junho de 2008


The internet allows us to spread the truth worldwide in a matter of seconds. The only thing missing is the truth.

quarta-feira, 18 de junho de 2008

Die Arbeiserlaubnis (The Work Permit)

I just wanted to write a quick post to let you all know that I finally got my Residence and Work Permit for my job in SAP. Now I am fully legally supported to start working and don't have to worry about bureaucracy for a long time. I also officially left the university and therefore I am not a student anymore. Thanks to all those who supported me, this is a major achievement and I am very happy about it. It's the beginning of a new phase in my life, where things are going to be very different. Let's see how it goes.

domingo, 15 de junho de 2008

Die DSH-Prüfung (The DSH Exam)

After learning german for almost two years, today I finally had the chance to have my knowledge formally tested in a very important exam here in Germany. It is called DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang) and is taken by all the students or people who want to study in the german language. Since it's very popular, it's also considered a good indicator of one's knowledge for the professional life or when you go back to your home country. In order to finish my master course, provided I wanted to, I would need to score "average" in the test, also called a DSH-2 result. Since I have been prepared to take this exam during my german course in the university, I decided to try it out before starting the new job, so I could finally get some official certification in the language before I start my 9-to-5 routine.

The test was supposed to start today at 9:00 and go until 13:00. However, the amount of people taking it was so massive that we only started writing at 11:30 and the exam was over at 15:30. It was interesting to see so many foreigners together, from literally all over the world. I am used to being in international groups here, but this was by far the largest and most diverse I ever seen. The test took place in one of the Halls of the Mannheim University, that is also the city's castle.

The City Castle (Mannheimer Schloß)

The infrastructure was quite good and the exam itself was not harder than the ones we took for training during the classes in the university, just very long and stressful. But I expect good results. There is also a spoken exam to take place in two weeks, provided I pass this one. Then I will finally be formally over with my German learning. It took me two years to master the language. It seems like a good result and I am overall satisfied.

One thing that impressed me was the amount of hate messages on the walls of the toilet in the university building. In the Hochschule (where I study) we barely see any vandalism, let alone hate messages. Here, on the other hand, were lots of references to Nazis, offenses to Jews and Foreigners and other normal childish messages. Since I had never seen that here before, even being an university student for quite some time, this really surprised me. I hope the messages are all old and the times have changed for better... otherwise the students here in Germany have much more to learn than I previously thought.