Friday, April 27, 2007

World @ Feet

Recent studies in the European Union have brought to light that the Portuguese are the Europeans with less self-esteem (among other lesses). That may only come as a surprise to anyone not living in Portugal. In fact, the only surprise is how come a small country which has managed to exist for nearly 900 years within the same borders, language and culture, and has exported that same culture and language around the globe, how come these people feel like they're the most wretched?

I tend to believe that there is more than one answer to that. Many scholars have dedicated their time to this bewildering conundrum, and I have made my choice of the best possible explanations; my favorite is Geography. The same Geography that was immensely responsible for our greatness in the past, the launch pad for our Discoveries, is also an obstacle to the winds of different thinking, open-mindness and progressive ideas. The isolation on the western-most coast of Europe made it easy for sinister politicians and some clergy to hold the country back by blocking or chasing away the brightest and most gifted people.
Our greatest enemies are ourselves. Modern technology is helping to change that. Finally we will be able to stand out in the crowd again; and like our neighbors the Spanish, or the French or the English, we may start to be cocky and feel superior, because we had an empire too, we had servants and exploited foreign resources for centuries as well - only and again, considerably less than others...
Therefore, it always makes me laugh when people, especially in Britain, call Mourinho "arrogant"- when, they of all the people, coined the term "snob", sing "Britannia rules the world" and have Simon Cowell.
For a Portuguese fellow, he does have a huge ego, yes; but compared to a central European, he is quite mild.
After all, when someone promises to win and then delivers, he can't be smug - he is doing he's job. Millions or no millions, he his good and has proved it in smaller, poorer teams and even this season, with a mangled team. Love him or hate him, he's also the luckiest man I know, so make way indeed to the Special One...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Portuguese Ball Kickers

The only novelty and most noteworthy fact about the previous entry to this blog, is the candid remark of Peter Trickett about "soccer", hinting that Australians would suck less at football if the Portuguese had setup Australia. Well, Brasil seems to confirm the historian's theory, although I personally believe that the Aussies put on a rather good display at the 2006 World Cup.

Anyway, my goal here is a different kind of ball. Long before world cups and football, when the sport-king of the day was Jousting, someone had to first encompass the globe (world), for one day the world to take up globe (ball) kicking. Before C. Ronaldo, Figo and Mourinho, there has been many other Portuguese to leave their mark in the world. The line-up includes most of the early Navigators, and other nameless people who have helped Portugal to be the smallest nation to ever have had a global (world) empire.

I remember reading somewhere that Buzz Aldrin, one of the first astronauts and one of the few men to have contemplated the earth sphere from outer space, has compared the Portuguese navigations to the space exploration... venturing into the unknown, going boldly where no one had ever gone before, using the embryonary science and technology available at the time, while Europe and most of the world was busy fighting meaningless "tribal" battles.

Despite all the contribution to world history, modern Portuguese still need to open the way, the hard way. We are taken for granted, underestimated and many Europeans (namely the French and the English) usually have a hard time accepting that Portuguezzers can be more successful then them... when we are good, we're not good enough; and when we're just like everyone else, we're rubbish and the most wicked of the wiked. Hence, the likes of Ronaldo and Mourinho have to be sometimes a bit over the top, because coming from Portugal, means other people will often have low expectations towards the tanned dudes that are starting to steal their thunder. Ain't that a kick in the balls?

Friday, April 06, 2007


"This may come as a shock for Anglophiles" - begins Australian historian Peter Trickett speaking about his new book "Beyond Capricorn" - "but the map evidence leaves absolutely no doubt that Portuguese sailed into Botany Bay and charted it 250 years before Cook arrived there in the Endeavour". And the same goes for the Dutch, the French or any other Europeans claiming to have discovered Australia and New Zealand.
Long has the possibility (that the Portuguese were the first to reach "land autralis") been around. But the evidence available was considered scant by the nordicphile chauvinist scholars, up till now.
The documental prove has always been around; what is amiss, is often the will or interest to come to terms with the fact that such a small, poor country, with little wheigt in the International scene nowadays, can take such a relevant and prestigious position under the spotlight. This is easily verifiable just by watching the History Channel and see how many "anglophile" (especially Americans) documentaries about the "Discoveries" marginalize the role that Portugal played in parting with the Middle Ages and shaping the modern world has we know it today, since step 1.
On the other hand, the secrecy which the Portuguese navigators used to keep their findings under, along with the lost of the Maritime archives in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake also contributed to the lack of official documentation that could, once and for all, help shrug off foreign resistance to our achievements.
A few months before "Beyond Capricorn" came into public light, another book was being ready for publishing with evidence that Cristopher Colón (Colombus is wrong) was not the person everybody assumed he was (not Genovese, not Italian, not ignorant about where he "thought" he was, etc.)... but, funny enough, the authors did not find one sole Anglophone publisher willing to print and sell the book - out in Portuguese, with soon to follow Spanish and French editions...
We may have not known what to do with the large chunks of the world that we were the first Europeans to trail, but at least do not try to remove the credit from us. The Americans would be confused to have a founder coming from a country they assume is somewhere in Latin America, and the Italians would be ever so embarassed on Columbus' Day; but as Prof. Trickett put it, speaking about the Aussies: "we'd be a lot better at soccer."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

And Now For Something Different

There are certainly better causes to dedicate a day to, than April's Fools day. Mark Twain said something like "It's a day to remind us of what we are the rest of the year". I kindda understand days like Mother's Day, Christmas or even Valentine's, because, let's be honest, we are really not that nice during the rest of the year, so we take a day off to be "good" and kind for at least a day... but why make a special occasion of something most people really are, not only in April but on a daily basis?

Well, after half a minute of consideration, I came to the conclusion that I was indeed a fool to waste my time with that, so I went back to watching TV. As usual, the magical box had the answer - this is actually the Day of Hoaxes (in Portuguese, it's called officially the "Day of Lies" or bullshxt), so upon watching the news, I understood that this day is really dedicated to Politicians, some lawyers, ebay/Paypal and all scamsters, in general.
I get it now.