From Brazil to USA, Australia, back to USA... and the adventure continues...

This page is my personal "blue ribbon".
Here I state my opinion about facts and circumstances that occurred in my life and in the world. Most of these articles I published in local newspapers, either as a Guest Column or an  Editorial Letter.

Here is a quick index:


High school coach sets bad example for soccer players - Columbia Tribune (11/12/07)

There is a sport known by the rest of the world as football, fútbol, fotbal, le foot, or, for a Brazilian like me, just futebol. This sport is somewhat similar to what is referred to in US as soccer.

However, over the years, and to the surprise of many parents and the varsity coach at Hickman High School, I have come to the conclusion that the two sports are not the same.

One critical difference between the two sports became quite apparent in a recent game against Rock Bridge High School.

In futebol, a coach never gives up in the middle of the second half after taking in a single goal. Unfortunately, our varsity coach did. With more than 25 minutes to play in the second half, the coach stopped talking to the players. He kept our key midfield and attack players sitting on the bench and even pulled them out when they decided to sub themselves in after the coach had made clear his lack of interest in the remainder of the game.

It is sad and frustrating that our coach has set such a bad example for our kids. Luckily, they are not that young and impressionable anymore. I am sure they will remember this season for more than the coach’s words at the end of the game: "You can’t play" and "you lost this game." They should remember it as a great season where they played beautiful futebol, despite being taught and coached on soccer.
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Lies and stats populate the editorial page - Columbia Tribune (10/7/07)

Seventy-five percent of all statistics are full of lies, and 100 percent of the Tribune’s chief editor is full of statistics.

Tired of lying about the percentage of Missourians that voted for Amendment 2, the mathematically challenged editor of the Tribune used a new approach. Because he no longer can claim that 49 percent of voters constitute a "minority," he now uses the statistics on the number of districts that voted for and against Amendment 2. According to him, 90 percent of the 114 districts voted for the amendment. (Population-wise) that is still the same 51-49 split, but, hey, that is what statistics are for, right?
So one can lie like a good journalist: by only saying the truth.
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Rhetoric fails to solve stem cell research issue - Columbia Tribune (7/17/07)

It is disappointing to realize that those who should be best informed are the ones whose minds are most closed. The editor of the Tribune fits this stereotype when he resorts to false arguments that are known to be so.

The Nov. 8 editorial did a disservice when it failed to recognize the rights of almost 50 percent of Missouri residents. Instead, that editorial called the nearly half of Missourians "frightened people" who "wrongly chose to oppose Amendment 2." Now, in a recent editorial, the Tribune went farther in its distortion and called the opponents of stem cell research a "minority of citizens" - apparently 49 percent is a minority nowadays.

Both sides of this debate are constantly forcing their views on the other side. While Michael J. Fox, Sen. Chuck Graham and others advocate their personal interests and talk less than altruistically about the wonders of stem cell research, the other side waves Bibles and expects all to also accept their beliefs.

Sadly enough, neither of these approaches will lead to a solution because we can’t ignore that this is an ethical and moral issue that lies on a gray area of people’s judgment and interpretation of the same Judaic-Christian principles that justify our current laws. And as so, it can only be resolved if we first acknowledge and respect the other side’s views instead of aggressively dismissing it as "anti-science and anti-intellectual stance" for "preachers in their churches, not their public legislature."
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Evolution vs. Creation - Guest Column for Journal and Courier (9/8/01)

I have been following this "never-ending recent" debate about Science vs. Religion, or Evolution vs. Creation, and I find very surprising, and yet predictable, how both sides can be so narrow- minded.
 Along history, people have always polarized over issues regarding science and religion. Nevertheless, there haven't been few the examples of great scientific and, at the same time, religious minds in history. So, even though it may sound an over simplistic view of thousands of years of discussion, I can't help asking: why should we pose these questions in such a dichotomous way? Why must science be so arrogantly self-contained and religion so fanatically literal that they have to assert so contradictory ontologies?
 Despite the traditional dichotomy, science has its roots in religious thoughts. In different ways, ancient thinkers such as Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, etc. tried to deny, diminish, or confirm the tight relations between science and religion (Nature and God). Still, without exception, they spent a great deal of their lives trying to explain and defend theories about the existence of a soul, the different realms of existence, and the "metaphysical" creation of the universe.
 More recently, great scientific minds such as Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, etc. coined remarkable phrases like: "I want to know how God created this world. ... I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details" -- Albert Einstein. Unfortunately, the more contemporary and apparently not so "educated" scientific minds seem to have grown more arrogant regarding all that science cannot explain.
 On the other side of the coin, some religious minds, specially within some Christian traditions, have tried to teach us a somewhat fanatical, literal interpretation of the Scriptures. If we were to read those Scriptures always literally, how could we explain the diversity and yet similarity between species? Or more pertinent to our discussion, how could we justify the continuous formation of galaxies, stars, etc in the universe? Maybe, we are still living the fourth (longest) day of creation, and heavens and earth are still being created.
 I prefer to believe that God created the universe by creating the physical, mathematical, biological, and chemical laws that govern all His creations. I prefer to believe that at the bottom of all these discussions is God's message to His arrogant scientific children that they may study the universe and its creation as much as they want. But the answer won't be found as easily as His fanatic religious children want us to believe.
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Fountain Fences: We plant, we harvest -- also published by Journal and Courier

Reading the newspapers in the last couple of days, I could not help but thinking two things:
 First, it is a shame that Purdue officials can be so hypocritical and "proudly" announce that the decision to fence the fountain came out of fear that lawsuits be filed against Purdue. By doing so, Purdue makes clear that the safety of kids and students that play around the fountains is not at all the issue here, and it did not motivate the decision. What truly motivated the decision was fear, money, cost-benefit, and many other materialistic concerns that have nothing to do with the wellbeing of people. That is why they are not concern if the fence will bring even more danger to those who will certainly jump over to play in the water. Also, that is why they discarded the use of signs warning for the "danger" of playing in the fountains. Because it "would do nothing to decrease the university's liability", but the fence will -- as one Purdue official wrote in the Journal and Courier on April 12th.
 Second, this unpopular decision by Purdue officials should be a lesson for the society about our own excesses when taking issues to the courts. In a society where people blame a fast-food chain for our own stupidity in getting burnt for holding a cup of coffee between the legs, it is not completely surprising that Purdue officials be hypocritical and decide to save the university a few million dollars from lawsuits. This all should be a message to judges, lawyers, and the society in general, that what goes around, comes around. Or, as a Portuguese saying goes: we harvest what we plant.
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Sweatshops and Third-world Countries -- published by Journal and Courier

I certainly cannot condone any corporation that exploits human beings for profit, and we should all praise those who raise their voices to help others. However, we must be much less simplistic than Jim Keady and Leslie Kretzu when we claim to understand what really happens in third-world countries.
 I was born, raised, and lived most of my adult life in such a country, and I can testify that the reality of absolute poverty is much more complicated than it would appear to someone that only spent a month there. First, the costs of living here in US and in any of these countries are much different, and the argument that sweatshop workers make $1.25 a day sounds unfairly worse than it indeed is. Second, in order to understand these countries' reality, one must accept that the existence of sweatshops, when confronted with the possibility of their nonexistence, is more a "solution" than a problem. Attacking sweatshops and demanding that these corporations pay higher wages without solving the very problems that brought sweatshops to exist is at best naive and unwise.
 I hope Jim Keady and Leslie Kretzu have a more realistic and thought out solution than the one that could cause these corporations to evade "expensive" third-world countries. After all, it is easy to lose a few pounds living as a sweatshop worker when you know that you have where to go when your summer job is over.
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Did anybody else notice that the new millennium won't begin until January 1st, 2001?

If you still don't know that, here is your chance:
 The measurement of a year is based on one revolution of the earth around the sun and is called a seasonal, tropical, or solar year. A solar year contains 365 days, 5 hr, 48 min, and 45.5 sec. Despite the fact that the existance of the solar year has been known for quite a long time, many ancient civilizations calculated a month as being the time between two full moons. This measurement, called a synodic, or lunar month, resulted in a lunar year of 354 days, which is 11¼ days shorter than a solar year. In modern calendars, the length of the months is approximately one-twelfth of a year (28 to 31 days) and is adjusted to fit the 12 months into a solar year.
 The earliest calendars based on lunar months eventually failed to agree with the seasons. A month occasionally had to be intercalated (added) to reconcile lunar months with the solar year. Calendars that made periodic adjustments in order to compensate for this difference were called lunisolar calendars. Such a calendar was the one used by the ancient Babylonians, whereas the ancient Egyptians were the first to replace the lunar calendar with a calendar based on the solar year.
 In 45 BC Julius Caesar decided to use a purely solar calendar known as the Julian calendar. It fixed the normal year at 365 days, and the leap year, every fourth year, at 366 days, with the extra day in February. It also established the order of the months and the days of the week as they exist in present-day calendars. Later, in 1578, Pope Gregory XIII abolished the Julian calendar and instituted the Gregorian calendar, which provided that only century years divisible evenly by 400 should be leap years with 29 days in February. Thus, 1600 was a leap year, but 1700 and 1800 were common years. The Gregorian calendar is used today throughout most of the Western world and in parts of Asia.
 The Gregorian calendar is also called the Christian calendar because it uses the birth of Jesus Christ as a starting date. Dates of the Christian era are often labeled AD (Anno Domini, latin for "in the year of our Lord") and years before His birth were labeled BC (before Christ). Since the years were represented by the Roman Numeric System, where for example, the year 1999 is represented by MCMXCIX, and since there was no Roman numeral for "zero", the year of the birth of Jesus Christ was referred to as year I AD (1 AD). Similarly, the year before that was referred to as I BC (1 BC).
 As you can see, there has never been a year 0, and therefore, the first decade (the first ten years) of the Christian Era was completed on December 31st, 10 AD. In the same way, the first century (one hundred years) didn't end until December 31st, 100AD and the first millennium (one thousand years) on December 31st, 1000AD, and so on.
 Now, if you want to go ahead and celebrate the millennium at the end of 1999, before it actually begins, that's your problem. But consider yourself warned otherwise. :-)
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