dimecres, 31 de març del 2010

El meu avi (I)

"Em permetran que els recordi alguns aspectes de Francesc Arasa i Bernaus, barceloní, traspassat l’any 1997. Aquest metge, format en aquest país i amb els grans mestres d’Alemanya i Àustria, va assolir una vasta cultura i fou president del Centre Internacional de l’Estudi del Precàncer de Roma, de la Societat Internacional de Medicina Humanista Neohipocràtica de Mònaco, de la Fundació Letamendi–Forns (on el succeí el Dr. Moisès Broggi), secretari general de la Unió Mundial d’Intel·lectuals de París i candidat a premi Nobel de la pau els anys 1971 i 1972, entre molts altres mèrits, a banda de ser autor d’una important obra escrita.

A final de la segona meitat dels seixanta del segle passat construí una mansió a Clariana, al Solsonès, ben prop de la casa pairal de la meva família. Li resultà simpàtic que el volgués conèixer un estudiant de primer de medicina, ja aleshores interessat per moltes altres qüestions i, generosament, m’obrí les portes de la seva casa Bon Repós, on vaig assistir als tres primers Symposium Internacional de la Ciència de l’Home, i vaig escoltar en aquelles avinenteses i en d’altres, atònit i embadalit, alguns dels grans pensadors del segle XX, entre els quals algun Nobel. Aquella època d’impregnació em va deixar una profunda petja, que després continuà mitjançant algun contacte personal més esporàdic amb el mestre i, de forma assídua, llegint tot el que escrivia ell mateix i el seu cercle de relacions. He de dir que això ha marcat profundament el meu pensament, valors i actituds; fins i tot el lema que vaig escriure en el meu ex-libris palesa les meves arrels arasianes: Cognitiones diversae sunt, una tamen sapientia."

Lluís Guerrero i Sala, Hospitals i metges de la Catalunya Central.

dimarts, 30 de març del 2010

I'm in four inch heels

I want to see you tonight
I know it's late
I don't want to fight.

I'm at a party
Where am I?
(You're in Echo Park)
In Echo Park.
The band has stopped playing
The keg is all dry.

You call me up because I'm sober and you wanted me to drive
I'm getting tired of being treated as just a free ride
I finally figured out that you're just a thorn in my side
That's withered, dull, and dry.

How could you say such mean and cruel things to me?
My friends have all gone,
I don't know how I got here,
It's too far to walk, I'm in four inch heels."

Dengue Fever, Sober driver.

dilluns, 29 de març del 2010

The filthiest actress in the world

"I'm talking about the shit-eating ending of Pink Flamingos, of course. To prove the Divine is indeed the filthiest person alive, she follows a poodle through the streets until it finally takes a shit. And then, in one fell swoop, no edits, Divine goes down - scoops up the poop in hand and slathers it all over her tongue, swallowing the crap while going down in history."

Jeff Jackson, Dreamland. Where the legendary scene went down.

dissabte, 27 de març del 2010

La escobilla del retrete

"Escobilla de diseño para el retrete, marca Lulú: 375 euros.

Ocho televisores de Bang & Olufsen: 40.000.

Pareja de sofás Cassina en ocre, butaca Capellini, espejo de Philippe Starck y otros muebles que seguro que no son de Ikea: 44.699.

Sistema de control de iluminación Lutron: 7.151.

Siete teléfonos inalámbricos de BeoCom que luego la poli va y le pincha cuando su cuñado le dice que teme que su supuesto testaferro les deje “con el culo al aire”: 4.061.

Palacete en Palma valorado en 2,47 millones de euros: 950.000.

Obras de rehabilitación de los 657 metros cuadrados del modesto edificio: 1.300.000.

Piso de lujo en Madrid a nombre de un amiguete, el del “culo al aire”, que luego se lo alquila por 1.500 euros de nada: 1.200.000.

Apartamento a nombre de su madre, la única octogenaria del mundo a la que un banco le concede una hipoteca cuya letra mensual duplica lo que cobra de pensión: 200.000.

Cortinas y telas varias: 38.760.

Anillo de oro de 18 kilates: 5.000.

Reloj de señora Cartier, modelo Tank Allongée: 12.894.

Rolex Daytona con bisel de diamantes y estela de nácar: 23.000.

Otros dos relojes guardados en la caja fuerte del piso de Madrid: 25.000.

Vajilla y complementos para el baño y la cocina: 100.000.

Cerca de un centenar de bolsos de las mejores marcas, 150 trajes, 50 pares de zapatos…, a saber.

Patrimonio familiar antes de llegar a la presidencia del Govern balear: 152.805.


Ignacio Escolar, Escolat.net. Jaume Matas no tiene precio.

divendres, 26 de març del 2010

The halo of Mary

"I soon came to understand that drink, tobbacco and prostitutes were all excellent means of dissipating (even for a few moments) my dread of human beings. I came even to feel that if I had to sell every last possession to obtain these means of escape, it would be well worth it.

I never could think of prostitutes as human beings or even as women. They seemed more like imbeciles or lunatics. But in their arms I felt absolute security. I could sleep soundly. It was pathetic how utterly devoid of greed they really were. And perhaps because they felt for something like an affinity for their kind, these prostitutes always showed me a natural friendliness which never became oppressive. Friendliness with no ulterior motive, friendliness stripped of high-pressure salesmanship, for someone who might never come again. Some nights I saw these imbecile, lunatic prostitutes with the halo of Mary."

Osamu Dazai, No longer Human.

dijous, 25 de març del 2010

In drug trafficking, Chinese are everywhere

"The Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) keeps a special trophy beside the basketball court at its headquarters in Manila. It's a silver BMW that was owned by Antonio Kcomt, a notorious Chinese-Canadian cocaine and ecstasy dealer.

Kcomt was racing the sedan through Quezon City last August when PDEA agents shot him dead after a high-speed chase. The agency keeps the bullet-holed BMW as a reminder of what it can achieve despite staffing and funding problems, and despite the upward spiral of drug-related crime in the Philippines.

The PDEA employs about 600 agents, but estimates it needs three times that figure to win the battle against drug trafficking in the Philippines, which is worth an estimated 300-400 billion pesos a year (US$6-8 billion). The Philippines has in recent years become a regional hub for drug syndicates from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as well as the southern Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian.

Shabu, a methamphetamine notorious throughout Southeast Asia, is manufactured in the Philippines, which has also become a major transshipment point for drugs like heroin, cocaine and marijuana that are made abroad.

This is partly due to the country's geography: the Philippines is an archipelago of 7,100 islands that has historical trade links with Southeast Asia and China. The narcotics problem is made worse by widespread corruption and a lack of the government resources needed to police borders.

The PDEA's director general, Dionisio R Santiago, says Chinese drug syndicates have made the Philippines their hunting ground. "In terms of drug trafficking, the Chinese are everywhere," he said. Seven large international drug syndicates are active in the country, apart from over 200 domestic outfits, according to Derrick Carreon, the PDEA's press officer.

Shabu is made in small "kitchen" labs capable of making three kilograms of methamphetamine crystals each day. The laboratories became smaller and more discreet after the PDEA began working with China's tough Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) in 2006.

Beijing stepped in because shabu was being smuggled into China. PDEA chief Santiago says his agency was unable to stop the flow. "Our country lacks the resources to patrol the coast and these syndicates try to use the opportunity." He says that working with the Chinese authorities is "complex".

"They do not allow us to interview the Filipinos in Chinese jails, a procedure that is common between other countries. This is a pity because inmates will always talk more easily with officers from their own country than with the Chinese," said Santiago, a retired general.

Louis, a former shabu addict and drug dealer from Malolos, a city two hours north of Manila, says that while pushers are usually Filipinos, the people in charge are mostly Chinese.

"They are never seen because they are well protected by corrupt politicians, policemen or judges. I had a 'protector' at the police station, an agent who stopped others catching me," said Louis.

Cindy D Ang, executive director of Philcadsa, an anti-drug coalition of 20 non-governmental organizations, says corruption is partly to blame. "If there is a culture of corruption at all levels, as in the Philippines, drug-related criminality spreads faster."

A number of high-profile politicians in the Philippines have been implicated in the drug trade.

Last February, Le Peng Wee, a cabinet secretary under former president Joseph Estrada, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug smuggling. A month earlier the director general of the Philippine National Police during the Estrada era, Panfilo Lacson, fled to Hong Kong after an arrest warrant was issued for alleged links to Chinese drug lords.

Santiago says Philippine crime syndicates have connections with Chinese mafias because China "is currently the biggest market" for drugs.

In December 2009, Chinese authorities tipped off authorities in the Philippines about a ship carrying two tons of cocaine that was passing through the Philippines' territorial waters on its way to China. Two tons of cocaine would have a street value of around US$350 million. Though the ship's crew was alerted and dumped most of the shipment overboard, the PDEA was still able to seize 300 kilograms of cocaine.

Aside from collaborating on stopping shipments, the Philippines and China also have to deal with nearly 200 Filipinos currently jailed in China for drugs smuggling. Among the 66 facing the death penalty are 53 women. The PDEA say they are likely from poorer families and were duped into becoming drug mules.

Almost all Filipino drug carriers are recruited by Africans, especially Nigerians, according to the PDEA. Santiago says that West African syndicates are established in the country and receive shipments from Africa. They persuade or fool poorer Filipinos into becoming drug mules, promising them jobs abroad.

"We have encountered situations where the African dealer was introduced to girls' families as a boyfriend or even a priest devoted to finding job opportunities for young Filipinos," said Carreon.

However, when asked about the status of these women by Asia Times Online, officials from China's NNCC said they were too busy to discuss the case and "this is information that we can't make public".

Cristian Segura, Asia Times, Manila losing its battle with drugs.

dimarts, 23 de març del 2010

Who is right?

"The broader principle here is that there are two basic approaches to monetary policy. One is the "hard money" approach, and the other is the "soft money" approach.

The hard money advocates want the most stable, predictable currency possible. When the currency is stable, it is easier to do business, and business thrives.

The soft money advocates try to fix this or that economic problem with currency manipulation. Whether to address a recession and unemployment, or for export competitiveness, or for some perceived "trade imbalance," their solution always involves some sort of monetary manipulation.

From the standpoint of the soft money advocates, a stable, fixed currency is an anathema. Obviously, if the currency is stable and predictable, then it can't be manipulated to fit the soft money advocates' short-term objectives. The soft money advocates want floating currencies, managed by a "policy board."

You have no idea how old these ideas are. Plato was a soft-money guy, but his student Aristotle was a hard-money advocate. No kidding.

We can also see here that soft money is plainly a "statist" solution, enacted by a central government bureaucracy. Hard money is a "capitalist" or "libertarian" solution, in which the government simply ensures that the currency is as stable as possible, and lets businesses act freely within that framework. That is why the United States, which upon its inception in 1789 was by far the most "libertarian" major government on the face of the earth, also mandated a strict gold standard in the Constitution.

From this description, we can easily see that China has a hard money policy - a dollar peg dating from 1995 - and the United States has a soft money policy.

Thus, it is completely absurd to accuse China of "currency manipulation." China has a policy of no currency manipulation - a hard dollar peg. The U.S. has a policy of continuous currency manipulation. China's hard-money policy is coming into conflict with the U.S. government's soft-money ambitions.

Like any soft-money advocate down through the centuries, the U.S. government wants to achieve certain policy goals by way of currency manipulation. It's the same litany: to lessen the domestic effects of recession, to generate a trade advantage versus China, and to resolve some perceived "current account imbalance."

We can also see, by way of this recent conflict, how the U.S.'s academic establishment has devoted itself completely to soft-money principles.

Unfortunately, you can't create wealth by jiggering the currency. People have tried to do this for hundreds of years, with no success. The hard-money advocates are right - the best foundation for long-term prosperity is a stable currency.

Just look at the situation today. Which country is on the path to long-term prosperity? China or the U.S.? Which government tries to solve its problems with currency manipulation, and which government instead tries to address the real underlying issues?

Isn't it obvious?"

Thus it was in past generations as well. The United States used to be the world's greatest champion of hard money principles, until the money manipulators became ascendant around 1971. During that great stretch on the gold standard, from 1789 to 1971, the U.S. became the world's most successful industrial power, and had the wealthiest middle class in all of history.

Nathan Lewis, The Huffington Post. China versus U.S.: clashing monetary paradigms.

2007, March. 1Km. taxi ride in Beijing = 10 RMB (€0.9)
2010, March. 1 Km. taxi ride in Beijing = 10 RMB (€1.1)

Tony Studio:
2007, March 23rd. Haircut + Illy Expresso + massage = 180 RMB (€17.6)
2010, March 23rd. Haircut + Illy Expresso + massage = 180 RMB (€20.06)

Today, the RMB is 14% more expensive than 3 years ago. But in these 3 years, the Chinese GDP has grown a 34.5%, from 24.9 to 33.5 trillion yuan.

Who's right?

(Sources: Iceberg Center for Intelligence Studies (ICIS), X-rates, National People's Congress, China Statistics Bureau.)

dilluns, 22 de març del 2010

Stool Pigeon

"There's a gentleman that's going round
Turning the joint upside down
Stool Pigeon - ha-cha-cha-cha
He's an old ex-con that's been away
Now he's back, no one's safe
Stool Pigeon - ha-cha-cha-cha

If you wanna squeal, said the FBI
We can make a deal, make it worth your while
So he told it all and in return
He got a credit card and a Thunderbird
And the maximum security
Even after plastic surgery
So go on and squeal, said the FBI
We can make a deal, make it worth your while

There's a gentleman that's going round
Turning the joint upside down
Stool Pigeon - ha-cha-cha-cha
He's an old ex-con that's been away
Now he's back, no one's safe
Stool Pigeon - ha-cha-cha-cha

After all the talk then they wired him
And he took a walk with his crooked friends
And they joked about the good old days
And he recorded it on a reel of tape
He caught the mug who did in the forgery
And the babe in charge of larceny
So the FBI they rewarded him
Because they like a guy who will stab a friend

There's a gentleman that's going round
Turning the joint upside down
Stool Pigeon - ha-cha-cha-cha
He's an old ex-con that's been away
Now he's back, no one's safe
Stool Pigeon - ha-cha-cha-cha

If you wanna squeal, said the FBI
We can make a deal, make it worth your while
So he told it all and in return
He got a credit card and a Thunderbird
He got a spanking new identity
And a condo down in Miami
He bought a plane, a boat and jewelry
But he couldn't buy any company."

Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Stool Pigeon.

(Photo, courtesy of the excellent blog on pop Personadondada)

(stool pigeon: Slang. a person employed or acting as a decoy or informer, esp. for the police)

diumenge, 21 de març del 2010

Y se le llama fiesta

"Rojo, sangre
un color muy nacional
morbo, suerte
sol y arena, ¡vive Dios!
arte, muerte
sirve de alimento
pase, valiente
y vuelta al ruedo.

Cuando el acero me traspasa el corazón
y se le llama fiesta; y otra vuelta de tuerca.
Cuando el sadismo se convierte en tradición
y la faena en gesta, y nadie se molesta.

Pinchos, siente
recital multicolor
pasodoble, ambiente
de nobleza y de pasión.
¡La oreja, presidente!
Los pañuelos al viento
alza la frente
y mira al cielo."

Reincidentes, Grana y oro.

(dedicado a Alberto Lebrón, faro en un país de conejos)

The last words of Byzantium

"I am George Sphrantzes the pitiful First Lord of the Imperial Wardrobe, presently known by my monastic name Gregory. I wrote the following account of the events that occurred during my wretched life. It would have been fine for me not have been born or to have perished in chilhood. Since this did not happen, let it be known that I was born on Tuesday, August 30, 1401." In laconic, strangulated tones Sphrantzes recorded the twin tragedies -personal and national - of the Ottoman advance. Both his children were taken into the seraglio; his son was executed there in 1453. Of september 1455 he wrote: "my beautiful daughter Thamar died of an infectious disease in the Sultan's seraglio. Alas for me, her wretched father! She was fourteen and five months." He lived until 1477, long enough to see the almost complete extinction of Greek freedom under the Turkish occupation."

Roger Crowley, 1453.

divendres, 19 de març del 2010

An emperor on a Catalan ship

"It is hard to envy Constantine his crown. He inherited bankruptcy, a family with a taste for civil war, a city divided by religious passions, and an impoverished and volatile proletariat. The empire was a snake pit of internecine feuding - in 1442 his brother Demetrios marched on the city with Ottoman troops. It lived a half-life as the vassal of the Ottoman emperor, who could lay siege to the city at any time. Nor was Constantine's personal authority particularly secure: a whiff of illegitimacy surrounded his accession to the throne in 1449. He was invested in Mistra in the Peloponese, a highly unusual protocol for an emperor, and never subsequently crowned in St. Sophia. The Byzantines had to ask Murat's approval of their new emperor but were then too poor to provide him with transport home. Humiliatingly, he had to beg passage to his throne on a Catalan ship."

Roger Crowley, 1453. The Holy war for Constantinople and the clash of Islam and the West.

dimecres, 17 de març del 2010

Gangster paradise

-Imelda Marcos: So they say, "Mrs. Marcos, what do you think about shoes? I say, "well now it's my best defense because when the world went to Imelda's closet, they did not find skeletons, they found beautiful shoes.

-I.M.: And this is a Goya, for instance. And this is a Tiziano. This is a Gauguin, and this is a Picasso. It's a shame, you know. It's a pitty because whatever paintings you have here, is a painting that was kept by our servants and maids in their shanties, in the slum areas. They hardly had ceilings, shelter in their homes.

-I.M.: It doesn't mean that if you are poor you cannot be beautiful. I told the people in the provinces: "how come our country is a paradise, your houses are so ugly? Can't you do something about that?" Then the people said: "Oh, Mrs. Marcos, we are so poor, all we hace is coconuts and bamboo." Do you know what I did? I did a bamboo mansion and a coconut palace."

Ángel Villarino and Daniel Iriarte, VJ Movement. Unrepentant Imelda Marcos defends her own take on History.

dimarts, 16 de març del 2010

Es ist mänschlich

"-Oh, in Spanien. Wie war es?

-Soso. Man reist schlecht. Die Leute sind halb Mohren. Kastilien ist sehr dürr und starr. Der Kreml ist schönder als das Schloss oder Kloster dort am Fuss des Gebirges...

-Der Eskorial.

-Ja, Philipps Schloss. Ein unmänschliches Schloss. Mir hat viel besser gefallen der Vokstanz in Katalonien, die Sardana, zum Dudelsack. Ich habe selbst mitgetanzt. Alle fassen sich an und tanzen Ringelreihn. Der ganze Platz ist voll. C'est charmant. Es ist mänschlich."

Thomas Mann, Der Zauberberg.

(Traducció al català de l'edició de La Muntanya Màgica d'Edicions Proa:
-Oh!, a Espanya. Com ha anat?
-Passadorament. S’hi viatja malament. La gent són mig moros. Castella és molt àrida i dura. El Kremlin és més bonic que el castell o el monestir d’allà al peu de la muntanya…
-El Escorial.
-Sí, el castell de Felip. Un castell inhumà. M’ha agradat molt més la dansa popular de Catalunya, la sardana, a toc de cornamusa. Jo també vaig afegir-me al ball. S’agafen tots de les mans i ballen en rodona. Tota la plaça plena. “C’est charmant”. És humà.

dilluns, 15 de març del 2010

The men with latex gloves

"From the moment Mahmoud al-Mabhouh stepped off a plane in Dubai on Jan. 20, his killers—probably from Israel’s Mossad—had him in their sights. Al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official who had arrived from Damascus allegedly to arrange an arms shipment to Gaza, perished hours later in his room at the Al Bustan Rotana hotel, electrocuted and strangled by the seven men who were waiting for him after a day following him around Dubai. The assassins covered their tracks well. They flew in from Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, and Zurich on forged passports. They wore disguises. They switched hotels multiple times. They carried cell phones but never called each other directly.

But they were being watched, and now the video of their exploits is available online. What remains is an old-fashioned international mystery, reminiscent of the notorious glory days of the CIA and MI6 from a half century ago. Even then, some of the cleverest, sneakiest, and strangest spy games were sometimes undone—by small mistakes, good counterintelligence, or dumb luck."

Katie Paul, Newsweek. World greatest spy capers.

diumenge, 14 de març del 2010

Do you read newspapers?

1. How often do you buy a newspaper?
Every day or almost every day: 44%.
1-4 times per week: 15%.
Occasionally: 30%.
Never: 11%.

2. How often do you buy magazines?
Every month: 26%.
Occasionally: 63%.
Never: 11%.

3. When you read news...
You usually do it on the Internet: 29%.
You usually do it in the print media: 25%.
50%-50% on the Internet and print: 37%.
You only watch tv or listen radio: 9%.

4. Are you subscribed to any online newspaper/magazine?
Yes: 37%.
No: 57%.
No but I will do in the near future: 6%.

5. Do/did you parents read print newspapers/magazines?
Yes: 85%.
No: 10%.
I do not know: 5%.

(Survey sample: 100 middle-high middle class urban citizens aged between 25-45 years old.
People who answered were: 80%, Catalan citizens. 15%, other European nationals. 5%, Asian nationals.)

Source: Iceberg Center for Intelligence Studies (ICIS) / surveymonkey.com

divendres, 12 de març del 2010

Una lavandería española en Afganistán

"El teniente coronel también denuncia que los estadounidenses "deben lavar la ropa a mano porque si van a la lavandería les roban todas sus cosas". Y cita el caso de un destacamento de marines que llegó a la base y al que supuestamente los españoles negaron el alimento."

Marc Bassets, La Vanguardia. Soldados españoles se quejan de la tropa española.

("Por lo mismo que no utilizas un buen metal para hacer un clavo, no utilizas a una buena persona para hacer un soldado". Proverbio chino )

dijous, 11 de març del 2010

No sirves para nada

"Cuando yo era pequeño
estaba siempre triste
y mi padre decía
mirándome y moviendo
la cabeza: hijo mío
no sirves para nada.

Después me fui a la escuela
con pan y con adioses
pero me acompañaba
la tristeza. El maestro
graznó: pequeño niño
no sirves para nada.

Vino luego la guerra
la muerte –yo la vi–
y cuando hubo pasado
y todos la olvidaron
yo triste seguí oyendo
no sirves para nada.

Y cuando me pusieron
los pantalones largos
la tristeza en seguida
mudó de pantalones.
Mis amigos dijeron:
no sirves para nada.

De tristeza en tristeza
caí por los peldaños
de la vida. Y un día
la muchacha que amo
me dijo –y era alegre–
no sirves para nada.

Ahora vivo con ella
voy limpio y bien peinado.
Tenemos una niña
a la que siempre digo
–también con alegría–, hija mía
no sirves para nada."

José Agustín Goytisolo, No sirves para nada.

(Adaptación musical de Paco Ibáñez. Dedicado a Paulino España)

dimecres, 10 de març del 2010

La rehabilitació de Mao

"Les sessions legislatives anuals de la Xina han començat aquesta setmana a Pequín amb la prioritat del Partit Comunista Xinès (PCX) de posar remei al malestar popular per les creixents desigualtats econòmiques. Els esforços en aquest sentit del PCX han donat embranzida a l'anomenada Nova Esquerra, una línia de pensament que defensa el restabliment d'ideals socialistes per compensar les imperfeccions del capitalisme. L'últim capítol d'aquest corrent intel·lectual és un revisionisme positiu del llegat de Mao Zedong per part d'acadèmics de prestigi d'arreu del món.

El PCX, a través dels seus líders i els seus centres d'estudis, està donant una nova rellevància a l'ideari maoista, un canvi notable de tendència impulsat per l'arribada de Hu Jintao a la presidència del país (2003). Anys abans, sota la direcció de Deng Xiaoping i Jiang Zemin, la figura de Mao va ser apartada per donar pas a les reformes econòmiques liberals. Ban Wang, professor de cultura xinesa de la Universitat de Stanford, assegura "que el ressorgiment del pensament de Mao busca un ús estratègic" en l'acció del govern.

És habitual entre els intel·lectuals del nou maoisme analitzar els moments més foscos de la història contemporània xinesa per mirar de trobar-hi experiències positives. Zhang Yinde, professor de literatura comparada de la Universitat París III, ja va anticipar fa tres anys en el llibre Le pensée en Chine aujourd'hui que s'estava produint una onada d'opinions favorables a considerar la Revolució Cultural "com una alternativa a l'hegemonia de la modernitat capitalista". El mateix Ban Wang és un dels editors d'un llibre que es publicarà aviat als EUA en què es presentaran experiències positives de l'era Mao: Wang està convençut que en el Gran Salt Endavant -el desastrós projecte d'industrialització accelerada de Mao que va ocasionar milions de morts per fam als anys 50- hi va haver una intenció sincera de descentralitzar el poder "en favor de les masses rurals". Wang també destaca que durant la Revolució Cultural hi va haver millores en el sistema sanitari de les zones rurals.

Bai Di, directora d'estudis asiàtics de la Universitat de Drew (EUA), és autora de diverses obres que lloen l'emancipació que les dones van aconseguir amb Mao. Bai comenta a l'AVUI que fa poc temps ha estat convidada per la Universitat de Chicago i la Universitat Illinois Wesleyan per pronunciar-hi una sèrie de conferències "sobre la rehabilitació del maoisme i la revaluació de la Revolució Cultural".

Mao era un monstre realment? és un llibre publicat i editat el 2009 per Gregor Benton, professor d'història xinesa de la Universitat de Cardiff, i Lin Chun, professora de la London School of Economics. L'obra recull els assajos de quinze acadèmics internacionals que critiquen severament la biografia Mao, la història desconeguda, de Jung Chang i Jon Halliday, un bestseller famós perquè ataca de manera ferotge la figura del fundador de la República Popular de la Xina. "Hem volgut presentar un argument per defensar el valor de la Revolució [l'arribada al poder dels comunistes xinesos]", expliquen Benton i Lin.

A la Xina aquests esforços acadèmics per rehabilitar el llegat positiu que hauria deixat Mao han anat acompanyats de moviments socials i fins i tot d'accions clandestines a favor de crear un partit maoista. Totes aquestes iniciatives, segons Rebecca Karl, experta en maoisme de la Universitat de Nova York, són marginals i no suposen un retorn del maoisme, perquè aquest requeriria un "esperit revolucionari" que no es produeix.

Des d'Occident s'ha jutjat la Nova Esquerra com un corrent excessivament nacionalista. "La Nova Esquerra ha demostrat una tendència cap a un nou tipus de nacionalisme quan demanen que la Xina assumeixi un pes internacional més fort davant l'antic ordre. La seva retòrica nacionalista apel·la a un creixent nombre de persones insatisfetes per la corrupció", explicava l'any passat un informe de l'institut ISN Security Watch firmat pel professor de la Universitat d'Hamburg Bernt Berger. Ban Wang ho considera un fet positiu: "Aquesta nova confiança del creixent poder xinès sembla voler dir que, malgrat tantes dificultats, els fundadors socialistes ho van fer bé".

Cristian Segura, Diari Avui, La rehabilitació de Mao.

dimarts, 9 de març del 2010

Who's willing to work for free?

"Writing in 1960, the great press critic A. J. Liebling, noting the squeeze on his profession, fretted about the emergence of the one-newspaper town:

The worst of it is that each newspaper disappearing below the horizon carries with it, if not a point of view, at least a potential emplacement for one. A city with one newspaper, or with a morning and an evening paper under one ownership, is like a man with one eye, and often the eye is glass.

Liebling, who died in 1963, was spared the looming prospect of the no-newspaper town. There is, of course, the Internet, which he could not have imagined. Its enthusiasts rightly point out that digital media are in nearly every way superior to paper and ink, and represent, in essence, an upgrade in technology. But those giant presses and barrels of ink and fleets of delivery trucks were never what made newspapers invaluable. What gave newspapers their value was the mission and promise of journalism—the hope that someone was getting paid to wade into the daily tide of manure, sort through its deliberate lies and cunning half-truths, and tell a story straight.
Anyone with a keyboard or cell phone can report, analyze, and pull a chair up to the national debate. If freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, today that is everyone. The city with one eye (glass or no) has been replaced by the city with a million eyes. This is wonderful on many levels, and is why the tyrants of the world are struggling, with only partial success, to control the new medium. But while the Internet may be the ultimate democratic tool, it is also demolishing the business model that long sustained news­papers and TV’s network-news organizations. Unless someone quickly finds a way to make disinterested reporting pay, to compensate the modern equivalent of the ink-stained wretch (the carpal-tunnel curmudgeon?), the Web may yet bury Liebling’s cherished profession.
Who, after all, is willing to work for free?"

Mark Bowden, The Atlantic. The story behind the story.

dissabte, 6 de març del 2010

Y tú fuiste puta en Rusia

"En cuanto pudo caminar, empezó a ir cada día al campo. Cazaba sapos y lagartijas. Cuando creció un poco más, se [sic.] trepaba de noche al campanario y sacaba del nido a las lechuzas que aún no podían volar. Se las llevaba a su casa bajo la camisa. Y las alimentaba con sapos y lagartijas. Cuando acababan de crecer, las mataba. Luego las vaciaba. Las metía en lechada de cal. Las secaba y las rellenaba de paja.

"Antes de la guerra", dijo Windisch, "el peletero ganó un macho cabrío jugando a los bolos en una verbena. Y despellejó vivo al animal en medio del pueblo. La gente echó a correr. Las mujeres se sintieron mal".

"En el lugar donde se desangró el macho cabrío no ha vuelto a crecer la hierba hasta ahora", dijo la mujer de Windisch.

Windisch se apoyó en el armario. "Nunca fue un héroe", suspiró, "sino un simple carnicero. En la guerra no luchamos contra lechuzas ni sapos".

Amalie se empezó a peinar ante el espejo.

"Nunca estuvo en las SS", dijo la mujer de Windisch, "solamente en la Wehrmacht. Después de la guerra volvió a cazar y a disecar lechuzas, cigüeñas y mirlos. También sacrificó todas las ovejas y liebres enfermas de los alrededores. Y curtió las pieles. Todo su desván es un jardín repleto de animales muertos", dijo la mujer de Windisch.

Amalie cogió el frasquito de esmalte. Windisch sintió el grano de arena que iba de una sien a otra detrás de su frente. Una gota roja cayó del frasquito al mantel.

"Y tú fuiste puta en Rusia", le dijo Amalie a su madre, mirándose la uña."

Herta Müller, El Hombre es un gran faisán en el mundo.

dijous, 4 de març del 2010

A nationalist's dream

"Liu Mingfu, a professor of National Defense University and a Senior Colonel of People's Liberation Army (PLA), has published his new book named "The China Dream". In the book, he points out that China should build the world's strongest military and move swiftly to displace the United States as the global "champion."

Liu Mingfu calls for China to abandon modesty about its global goals and "sprint to become world number one" and warns that his nation's ascent will alarm Washington, risking war despite Beijing's hopes for a "peaceful rise."

Liu writes in his book that "China's big goal in the 21st century is to become world number one, the top power", and if not, "China will become a straggler that is cast aside".

"As long as China seeks to rise to become world number one ... then even if China is even more capitalist than the U.S., the U.S. will still be determined to contain it," he writes.

Rivalry between the two powers is a "competition to be the leading country, a conflict over who rises and falls to dominate the world," says Liu."

People's Daily, Senior Colonel: China should displace U.S. to be strongest country military.

dilluns, 1 de març del 2010

Camus no trabajaba en una funeraria

"En el Mito de Sísifo, Camus también dijo que vivimos como si no supiésemos que vamos a morir:

Sin embargo, nunca nos asombrará lo bastante que todo el mundo viva como si nadie "supiera". Y es que, en realidad, no existe experiencia de la muera. En sentido propio solo experimentamos lo que hemos vivido y asimilado conscientemente. Aquí a lo sumo cabe hablar de la experiencia de la muerte ajena.

Pero Camus no trabajaba en una funeraria. Sospecho que para mi padre, la muerte resultaba demasiado convincente.

En las cartas que me envió a la universidad, a veces parecía el perfecto héroe absurdo, como un Sísifo que cargara la piedra con alegre indiferencia:

El fin de semana ha sido poco interesante en lo que a diversión se refiere. Me llamaron a las 3:30 de la madrugada por la muerte de Fay Murray. Eso me dejó sin viernes y sin sábado. De lo más destacado de mi trabajo: su bikini amarillo de encaje, sus bragas bordadas con rosas. Su pelo pelirrojo sin vida tras meses de hospitalización. Su peinado y sus postizos. Su desabrido mono de terciopelo verde con ribete dorado de lentejuelas y escote muy bajo. Bueno, hice lo que pude con el pintalabios rojo, la sombra verde en los ojos, un montón de colorete y lápiz de cejas... y hete aquí a Fay. Tenía una piel bonita suave y sin defectos. Todo el mundo quedó encantado y jamás habría pensado que tenía setenta años.

No tengo ninguna carta en la que hable de gente que se hubiera suicidado, como aquel médico del barrio que se pegó un tiro pocos meses antes de la muerte de papá. Pero podría pensarse que pasar largas noches haciendo el trabajo sucido y tedioso de la efímera carne haría que cualquiera reconsiderase la lógica de no posponer lo inevitable."

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home.