Thursday, June 30, 2005


Yet again ....

Gabral, yet again - touche.

In a little exercise of historical archiving [I will produce soon enough] I was reading back in the anals of the genesis of the blog and I found the internet translation of Jojo from Portuguese to English. It was money - and a good relief from our family quarrels over language barriers. Gabral was the voice of reason speaking over the furor of lesser people.

As you say gabral - it's all about action baby!

Unlike my heros currently in the white house, I will apologize- profusely - for my actions. Jojo and gabral [as the critics of the eternal cynic] are right. I'm sorry for my rash, insensitive, and un-measured comments. I was wrong in my actions and hope to reform my behavior. There's no simpler way to put it - I have sinned, and I am sorry. [I learned this one from my buddy slick will - yes that's what the guy had the balls to say about the Monicagate!]. Seriously, not cool behavior by the older bro.

Gabral - I am excited to see the pictures of the exhibit and following from his previous work - I'm sure it was beautiful. I hope we can get some sound documentation of your part.

El greco

ps: On a more analytical note - I still hold to my ideological argument and as a result I still think Mr. Woods should build his machinations for hollywood sets... but hey it's just one man's opinion. I'm the one with a violent reaction after too much 'archi-babble' during four years at the GSD - those people are all full of non-sense, and they wear way too much Prada for my taste.

Chronic criticism

I've just talked with Junior, who was calling from Faro. I had a chance to read him directly from the blog. We think Greco needs to go to the Guantanamo goulag to re-learn how to:

1) compliment bro on his innovative achievement of having a part in an absolutely post-modern thing, regardless of whatever and wherever;
2) compliments The Joj for managing to cover 400 pages of bla, bla with some colorful pictures and sell the package for 25 bucks on Amazon.

Thanks God on hindsight Greco has some insight.

Today, I have proposed to Luisa Coelho that we write totgether a self-help book on Total Hapiness (sequel to Total Destruction). David has been advising his Mom to write self-help books instead of all that bla,bla that she specialized in and doesn't sell. We are going to be rich man.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I sound like tio joao

self - always an artist, always a critic, always a cynic

others - always hacks of the most egregious forms

el greco

Are you KIDDING me?

The architect's primary task is designing new forms for the architectural and urban space that determine humanity's living conditions. In a world which Woods sees as mortified by violence, power and ignorance, his lesson suggests that architecture might be a tool for social transformation, a seed of new possibilities for development and for evolution of human relationships.

Gabral - is this guy kidding me? To determine humanity's living conditions and seed new possibilities for development and for evolution of human relationships. At least post a picture of this stuff for the dinos to see what he's talking about - or just watch the movie twelve monkeys. The guy has a beautiful and fetish-like aesthetic, but common - you've got to be kidding me. Maybe Tom Cruise buys into Science[fiction]ology, but I just want it as entertainment in Hollywood. This is why I have no faith in architecture - Lebbeus should become a set decorator for movies.

El greco

Lebbeus Woods. System Wien, the Future of a City

Lebbeus Woods. System Wien, the Future of a City brings together a series of projects by the American architect - both theoretical and experimental - in the context of the city of Vienna.

The exhibition, presented by curator Andreas Kristof, tells how and through what considerations Woods' approach differs from the traditional interpretation of architecture as a functional built event to approach a visionary concept of design in which science, philosophy and art come together in a complex language akin to science fiction.Lebbeus Woods sets his projects in environments where the conditions of the real world are subjected to profound, radical transformations. The architect's primary task is designing new forms for the architectural and urban space that determine humanity's living conditions.In a world which Woods sees as mortified by violence, power and ignorance, his lesson suggests that architecture might be a tool for social transformation, a seed of new possibilities for development and for evolution of human relationships. In 1988 Lebbeus Woods founded the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture (RIEA), a non-profit association for architectural research and experimentation.MAK-Press officeStubenring 5Austria, ViennaTel. (+43-1) 711 36-233 -229 -212Fax (+43-1) 711

SYSTEM WIEN Lebbeus Woods skizziert Szenarien für die Zukunft WiensFile Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTMLMit „System Wien“ knüpft Lebbeus Woods an das experimentelle Projekt ... „LEBBEUSWOODS. System Wien“, hg. von Peter Noever, mit Beiträgen von - Similar pages
[PDF] SYSTEM WIEN Lebbeus Woods Outlines Scenarios for the Future of ViennaFile Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTMLWith “System Wien”, Lebbeus Woods carries on from his experimental project ...Accompanying publication: “Lebbeus Woods. System Wien”, edited by Peter - Similar pages[ More results from ] - 'Lebbeus Woods - System Wien' - aktuelle Termine ... - [ Translate this page ]LEBBEUS WOODS. System Wien, herausgegeben von Peter Noever, mit Texten von Manuel... Lebbeus Woods - System Wien. Di,28.06.2005. 20:00 Vernissage Museen - 43k - Cached - Similar pages
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BauNetz für Architekten: Meldungen - [ Translate this page ]System Wien. Lebbeus Woods-Ausstellung im MaK Wien. Am 28. Juni 2005 wird imWiener Museum für angewandte Kunst (MaK) die Ausstellung „System Wien“ des New artikel_fotos.php?news_id=80437 - 14k - Jun 27, 2005 - Cached - Similar pages nachrichten: LEBBEUS WOODS: ENERGY CITY, SPACE - [ Translate this page ]Zur Ausstellung erscheint der Katalog LEBBEUS WOODS. System Wien, herausgegebenvon Peter Noever, mit Texten von Manuel DeLanda, Anthony Vidler und Lebbeus - 11k - Cached - Similar pages - [ Translate this page ]AusstellungserÃffnung LEBBEUS WOODS. SYSTEM WIEN, DI. ... LEBBEUS WOODS. SYSTEM WIEN.MAK-Galerie Dienstag, 28. Juni 2005, 20 Uhr Tuesday, June 28, 2005, arc/announce-list/2005-06/msg00020.html - 27k - Cached - Similar pages Lebbeus WoodsBiography, Public exhibitions 3 from 29.6. Lebbeus Woods - System Wien Museumfür angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna. 2004 Andererseits: Die Phantastik pageType/artistInfo/artist/20384 - 30k - Cached - Similar pages
AR ExhibitionsEmail: Recorded information: (+43-1) 712 80 00 WOODS System Vienna 29.06.2005 - 16.10.2005 MAK Gallery - 3k - Cached - Similar pages
AMADEUS - Buch: Lebbeus Woods von Lebbeus Woods - [ Translate this page ]Lebbeus Woods System Wien. Zur Ausstellung im MAK, Wien, 2005. Dtsch.-Engl.von Lebbeus Woods ... Mehr von... Lebbeus Woods lebbeus_woods/lebbeus_woods/ISBN3-7757-1664-5/ID6397625.html - 30k - Jun 27, 2005 - Cached - Similar pages

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A+E Itinerary

Date: 01JUL - FRIDAY
Departure: BOSTON 7:10 PM

Departure: LONDON HEATHROW 10:20 AM
Arrival: LISBON 1:00 PM

Date: 10JUL - SUNDAY
Departure: LISBON 1:55 PM

Date: 10JUL - SUNDAY
Departure: LONDON HEATHROW 6:05 PM
Arrival: BOSTON 8:15 PM

Date: 17JUL - SUNDAY
Departure: LISBON 11:40 AM

Date: 17JUL - SUNDAY
Departure: LONDON HEATHROW 6:05 PM
Arrival: BOSTON 8:15 PM

Jojo Itinerary

Flight: LH 415 operated by: LUFTHANSA



Departure: 01. July, 20:10 h

Arrival: 02. July, 10:25 h

Class: Business Class, confirmed

Flight: LH 4540 operated by: LUFTHANSA



Departure: 02. July, 11:15 h

Arrival: 02. July, 13:20 h

Class: Economy Class, confirmed

Flight: LH 4537 operated by: LUFTHANSA



Departure: 30. July, 07:20 h

Arrival: 30. July, 11:10 h

Class: Economy Class, confirmed

Flight: LH 418 operated by: LUFTHANSA



Departure: 30. July, 13:20 h

Arrival: 30. July, 15:50 h

Class: Economy Class, confirmed


Sad news about grandpa - tell him we'll see him soon.

Jojo - I am offended that you send Emily pacakges without even a note for your dear son. Also - I like the insert about some world bank book with an order form ... what about we make that a gift to the young abrantes subsidiary in boston.

Gabral - I am looking forward to seeing pics from the exhibit. Remember to document everything. When you get to Balaia investigate GO-KARTING facilities in the region. I will show you how it is done when we get there. We'll call it a driving clinic for the younger brother.

Alex - I liked the pictures from tunisia. Keep sending news.

El greco

ps: Andre and I are excited to see you all in Portugal - we're stocked up on books and are ready for some nice r and r. See you in 3 days. Love,Em

Gabral and I could do better?

Who designs the covers?

I'm Cher

Reversing the Tide: Priorities for Hiv/aids Prevention in Central Asia (World Bank Working Papers)
by Joana Godinho, et al (Paperback - July 1, 2005)
(Rate this item)

Not yet released.

List Price:

Buy new:


The Joj is a bit too busy with my 700 pages to deliver - I have delivered 500 so far, but have 200 to go before I leave Avo M plus my own health which has required major surgery plus major investment as Dr. G got me my 3rd dentist who is a smooth operator asking... $1,500 for 1 root canal! Man, do I miss Hopital de Bruxelles sur Mer or what?! So i will write from Lx sur mer. Loved news from MAK, will read everything very carefully tonite. Luv, The Joj

Almost done in Tunis. Yesterday and today were busy with the Social Protection workshop, trying to agree with the Africans on how they could do better with little money they have, to protect the most vulnerable groups from absolute poverty and how to help those at risk of falling into poverty from natural, economic or social shocks, such as drought of floods, fall in the price of their main production, or death of the head of household from AIDS, respectively. Cabo Verde did a great presentation. Other members of my flock are also around, i.e from Burkina, from Senegal, from Ghana...

Tomorrow we will be visiting the African Development Bank, trying to find opportunities to work together and leverage other donor funds.

Then, Thursday, off to Lisbon and Balaia.

In the mean time I had time to visit Sidi Bou Said, one of my favorite places in the world, last night, a little bit of Tunis Kashbah. Sidi Bou Said is one of those incomparable Mediterranean village, perched over the ocean, covered with white washed terraced houses, with bright blue doors and windows, surrounded by high walls, covered with red and orange bouganvilias. The colour of the sky, the air at sunset are difficult to describe.

Tunis is less remarkable. It is the most westernized of the Arab cities, with shops in the Soukh closing at 7:30, as opposed to 1:00 am, as is usual in Morocco and Egypt. But, western culture comes with some benefits: women go to school, drive, hold meaningful jobs and are not forced to use traditional atire or scarf.

I am pasting a couple of sites with the PICS.

Love you all, and look forward to seeing you all.

JOJ, very sad about Manecas news. Hope he survives this crisis, as he did others.

So the opening is tonight for SYSTEM WIEN: Lebbeus Woods, featuring G.Mira G.Abrantes. My video looks sweet projected all over the MAK Wien. The installation looks unbelievable, took so much work. I thought it would be a bit more rad though. This time in vienna i have spent a lot more time in the gallery setting everything up, but it has been quite an amazing experience. The book looks absolutely amazing. my flight leaves from here at 12 tommorow, again on super ghetto air berlin. i fly into Faro with many "vector rods" (just wait and see dre, my homework will be more than completed)and then will make my way to balaia. it is only 20 km away, so that is not so bad. Christoph is way tired out of his mind by this point, and everyone else with him. 10 people have quit the museum since he came. hahaha. it is very hot here, so i had to go shopping again. joj, you might have to call BFSFCU again. anyway, the last two days have been quite beautiful and nice and relaxed. I hope to see boulez in about 30 minutes. cant wait for the beach. anyone want anything from Wien, last chance for schnitzel!

Monday, June 27, 2005

aroba [the symbold formerly known as @] .PT

Ya'll - can't wait for Portugal. It will be the bomb diggity.

Alex, I hope the travels are going well. I got your text message that you arrived safely in Tunisia. Make sure to take some pics for us to enjoy. See you on saturday.

Gabral, I hope the travels are going well. We do not have full and complete confirmation of you whereabouts in Vienna - but diss-information trickles in once in awhile. Make sure to take some pics for us to enjoy.

Jojo - saw your boy BONO of DATA [DEBT, AIDs, TRADE, AFRICA] on Meet the Press yesterday. He says he loves Dubbya and hopes he donates some more cash. He said America needs to look into its own soul, and more importantly into its wallet, and commit cash with the consideration for legacy. The history books is what matters is his argument. Ummmmm. He also has his own private jet so I thought we could nominate him for president of the world bank - on one condition - the man absolutely refuses to shave clean. Deal with it.

Emily - Good luck at your meeting today [on the road again] and be back for dinner @ 7pm. The house husband will be very upset if you are late... the peas don't hold up well reheated. I dropped the dry-cleaning off.


El greco.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

We need news from Mumak

Were are you guys? Gabral write send a phone number stop. Avo M is a bit better telling jokes but his heart and kidney are not working properly.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


ladies, gentelmen;

I am finishing packing. I am off to Tunis tonight.
I will fly to Lisbon on June 30, and drive to Balaia on July 1st.
Will pick up Gabe in Albufeira as soon as we get there.
Expect Andre and Emily to show up in their Y limo.
Will be connected by BBerry and email.
Seen you all soon.



A posting from MUMOK! What are doin' sweet pie?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

DC News

Welcome back dear - I see you timed your return for when the partnership goes public, and has to mind the readership more than ever... I feel like the Osbournes now!...

The sad news is that Avo Manecas is back in the hospital and feeling very down because he has not been able to sleep for the next couple of days. I hope he is out when we all arrive in Portugal.

Art does not want to buy the house! So this an obvious sign that the bubble is deflating fast. I don't think either that I am in a position to buy new expensive digs downtown 3 levels up without lift but I am still thinking. I will keep partnership posted.

Artist please let us know if Berlin Air took you safely to Vienna, and how are you enjoying your return to Austria. Mind the chicks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Emerging from my Cave

The silent member of the Abrantes partnership is beginning to emerge from the dark cave of work, although it is almost 8:00 and I am still the office. I now consider 8:00 early so my poor house husband finally has time on his hands and I am nowhere to be found. We priced a deal that I have been working endlessly on since January, so a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders - 30 year bonds with a % of LIBOR swap for 3.3%. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all borrow money at that rate? We are looking forward to our time in Portugal - Gabe we are anxious for some serious Paris stories. I am read an article on CNN that said two American students were arrested in Paris for posing naked on the arch - friends of yours? =) We'll see you all next week!

AGAIN.... reminder... new deadline = PORTUGAL


Homework - DUE JULY 1st [new date - in Portugal]

I have an assignment for everyone. No partnership member shall skip out on their responsibility. To those who have already completed their work [ummm = alex] please disregard... just bring a copy of materials to Portugal.

It is a two part assignment:

1. Find a piece of architecture you like/admire/find interesting. Residential projects may be preferable, but it can be anything you think is good. Document with at least two photos/images - hopefully of the aspects you like. These can be from books, magazines, trips, drawings, inventions, whatever - be creative ya'll. Write a short accompanying text and/or drawing that describes your reaction, interest, etc. This text must be at least 50 words long, but no longer than 500 words.

2. Part deux. Write, draw, photograph, film, paint an essay on anelhe. This is a free for all portion of the assignment that will not have any rules - but must have to something to do with anelhe - what it means to you.

el greco

We've gotten our first 'BLOG-REVIEW'

Blogue de uma família americano-portuguesa

Blogue feito pela família Abrantes, com temas de interesse geral e outros não tanto de interesse público. Todos os membros da família revelam uma alta capacidade de trabalho. Acho que apesar de tudo merece a pena ser visitado. Por isso cliquem na ligação e vão lá. A maior parte dos postes estão em inglês, mas como a língua tem uma tão ampla difusão na actualidade ao ponto de ser a língua franca em tantos e tão variados domínios de actividade penso que tal não constituirá obstáculo de especial. Passará a figurar nas ligações deste blogue.

publicado por CPaixaoCosta às 12:34

Check out Paixao Costa's blog [where we are now featured as a link on his/her blog!]


Even good ol' Alan is confused!

Time to Toss the Textbooks

By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, June 22, 2005; A21

If economics were a boat, it would be a leaky tub. The pumps would be straining and the captain would be trying to prevent it from capsizing. Which is to say: Our ideas for explaining trends in output, employment and living standards -- what we call "macroeconomics" -- are in a state of disarray. If you're confused, you're in good company. Only recently Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan confessed again that he doesn't understand why interest rates on long-term bonds and mortgages have dropped, just when the Fed is raising short-term rates. This is but one mystery.

It's not merely that we're in the midst of changes (China and India's entry into the global economy, the explosion of U.S. trade deficits) that are unfamiliar and, to some extent, unprecedented. What's equally significant is that many assumptions that economists once casually accepted and taught are now suspect or discredited. Let me give you three examples.

· We once thought we understood consumer spending, the economy's mainstay. For decades, disposable income and consumption spending advanced in lock step. Americans spent a bit more than 90 percent of their after-tax income and saved about 8 to 10 percent. In 1959 consumer outlays were 92 percent of disposable income. The figures for 1969, 1979 and 1989 were 92 percent, 91 percent and 93 percent. Being so steady, consumer spending provided stability during recessions -- in contrast to more sensitive investment spending for housing and business buildings and equipment. Since 1960 consumer spending has dropped in only two years; investment spending has dropped in 13.

But since 1990, consumer spending has changed. It has consistently outpaced income growth. In 2004 Americans spent 99 percent of their disposable income and saved only 1 percent. The main cause is the "wealth effect." In the 1990s higher stock prices caused Americans to spend more; now higher home values (up 55 percent since 2000, to $17.7 trillion) are doing the same. So consumer spending increasingly depends on "asset markets" -- stocks and homes -- and not just income. Query: Suppose the next recession depressed both stock and real estate prices. Would consumer spending fall and deepen the slump?

· We don't know how much the world economy affects the United States -- and vice versa. Economics textbooks once described the U.S. economy as mainly self-contained. Americans sold to each other; Americans' savings were invested mostly in American investments (stocks, bonds, bank deposits). Trade was small. Globalization has shattered this model. More industries face foreign competition or depend on foreign markets. In 1960 exports and imports together totaled 9.5 percent of gross domestic product; in 2004 they were 25 percent of GDP. Savings and investment have also gone global. In 2003 Americans -- mainly through pension funds, banks and other big investors -- owned $3.1 trillion of foreign stocks and bonds, while foreigners owned more than $4.1 trillion of U.S. securities, says the International Monetary Fund. (Note: The $4.1 trillion excluded China.) All this alters the U.S. economy. One theory of low American interest rates is that foreign money flows have pushed rates down. Another development: Stock and bond markets around the world may be more interconnected, because they increasingly have the same investors. Are investors better protected (because they're more diversified) or could a crash in one market cause a chain reaction? Globalization poses many unanswered questions like these.

· We can't determine "full employment.'' Economists call full employment the "natural rate of unemployment" -- the lowest rate consistent with stable inflation. Go lower and tight labor markets trigger a wage-price spiral. Unfortunately, we don't know what full employment is. The Congressional Budget Office now puts it at 5.2 percent. But past estimates have been too high and too low, because the "natural rate" -- despite the label -- isn't natural and constantly changes. It's influenced by population changes (younger workers have higher unemployment rates) and government policies, among other things. Our ignorance makes it hard to judge when to be satisfied.

Although I could extend this list, the message would remain: Change has outpaced comprehension. Should we be worried? Maybe. What confuses us may threaten us. But here's an intriguing irony: The less we understand the economy, the better it does. In the 1960s and 1970s, many economists had confidence. They thought they understood spending patterns, could estimate "full employment" and propose policies to prevent recessions. What we got was high inflation and four recessions (1969-70, 1973-75, 1980 and 1981-82). Since then we've had lower inflation, only two mild recessions (1990-91 and 2001) and faster productivity growth.

Economists' overconfidence -- and the resulting policies -- may have weakened the economy. But its improved performance could also have other explanations: lower inflation; the good judgment of two Fed chairmen -- Paul Volcker and Greenspan; the economy's self-regulating characteristics, and new technologies. It could be all of the above or just dumb luck. We don't know.

Batman rocks and other movies...

Guys - go see batman - there is something for all to appreciate. A difficult mix of the real and the surreal to swallow hole, but really well made for this type of movie. Good music and very good effects. You have to suspend your disbelief to buy into a lot of the things [including the script, gulp!] but it's well worth it. I still have not seen Mr. & Mrs. Smith but Bradjelina looks unbeatable. Doug Lyman [the director] is a money guy with several top notch movies under his belt [such as swingers, the bourne identity, go] so I highly recommend you guys spend $10.50 to see that as well before I have even had a chance to see it.

On netflix, which as of lately Emily and I have not abused like a cheap addiction, I finally did see 'In the Bedroom'. Heavy hitters in the acting department, but it felt like a vehicle for them to show off... a bit like watching a train wreck happen as well. The Fog of War [movie about McNamara] is money so I continue to recommend it.

Gabral - I ordered 2046 or whatever it's called so it should be arriving soon - I will let you know how it goes.

El greco

Tough Decisions

Whatever happened to renting before you move to another country? I said sell and stash the cash... not blow it on yet another overpriced thing. Maybe buy in Brazil....

The place sounds nice - but I still want pictures to check out the view, the size, the 'acabamentos', etc. 850k does seem a bit steep... especially with no garage! The soci0-economic status of 14th street will continue to change... until it really becomes SOHO at which point you can either live between the rich and famous or sell out like a bandit.

Alex... silence... where are you? Still in training or just busy finishing things before the trip? I need you to update my address book [phat boy you're also on the black list for failing to update my address book].

gabral - send more photos - I will put them on the blog.

El greco

Decisions, decisions...

Actually, I think Alex went gaga over the house. Here's a rational outlook on the thing:


Good deal, nice, excellent size with office & guest room
May save some money monthly (not sure)
No commute, no garden
Nice neighbour (Rick)


850 k is a bit too much to work as a strong incentive to move. I was looking first at 500 k, next 700 k and now I end up on 850 k?!
3rd floor without lift & very high stairs - can you picture The Joj with her 50 k suitcases arriving at 7 am from S.Paulo?...
No parking, no pool
I am not sure I like the 'hood, there's too many guys around that have a bit of unsolved business with their moms, which r eflects badly on the rest of the gender
It requires too speedy action for Joj's angolan rhytm: check with lawyer if I still have to give Gyorgy Bushie a bundle of ma money as capital gains, if not sell house to the higher bidder (Maggie, Mary Lou, Theres K), proceed to buy DC pad all before July 1. Man, that may be too much for someone that has to deliver 500 pages before leaving on vacation, including on this blog....

Guys JOJ is buying!!!

She went to see the appt at the School building where Rick lives and was gaga...

On the way out she was already making herself comfortable in the neighborhood taverns, sipping wine, munching design burgers (no buns, no fries, accompanied by saute spinach), puffing her cigarette at Logan Tavern bar...)

Men, this is serious. If you do not intervene now, you will have the dinos living two blocks from each other..., if not in Dafundo, then in DC.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

cool link - by jojo

check it out

making a move

Joj - glad you are still looking around for apartments. The latest sound pretty nice although we need some pictures to actually get a feel for what it is.

Also have you seen the latest cover of the economist - it is a bit alarmist and I have not read the article inside to give you final pointers.... but come on - IF IT IS ON THE COVER as an issue we've clearly reached a height of cultural perceptions that are bound to take effect. People are not rational and and therefore will not behave logically. I say sell and cash in NOW - don't be greedy and hold out.

I did see Charlie Rose last night - that guy was a bit old to be telling ME about technology - what a chooch - as gabral and I would say. Actually, the guy was good but yeah a bit old. We have WI-MAX in Boston and it sucks - too expensive so nobody has it. That guy was right that the companies hold the technology hostage until they find some way to exploit it. Up here only Verizon has the infrastructure and they totally rape the customers basically making it mute. He was not willing to go there - but he was basically saying that's why we're screwed by the Asia countries who are zillions of years ahead of us on this stuff. If only Slick Will and Gyorgy and maybe Hillary, Biden, or McCain would focus on this we would not be going down the tubes.

Hot tomatos in portugal sounds hot - Wish I was there basking in the sun. Boston is keeping us chill [literally] and Emily and I are trying to get our life in order after 4 years of GSD and 4 months of full-time work for Scott. After an unsettling sense of lack of self-worth for not having a job I have been tackling many of the things I have long neglected. It is good to have a break - although I am turning into Alex and have a difficult time 'chilling' out.

I have tried to be a good house husband - to no avail - I still fail every day at that task. What do you call us in Brazil? Dondoca? Yes, this is me. But soon it is all over. I more or less negotiated a contract [only to be paid in stock options?] with the internet start-up so I will start working for them more or less immediately. I also need to negotiate my contract with other boss - Alexius the Oppressor - to commence work on the Anelhe house. I have been doing a lot of unofficial research, looking at books, and thinking of preliminary ideas - but nothing too serious yet. It is time to begin though.

What else - no Alex, no Jojo - you guys are not soon to be grandparents yet. Sorry to disappoint. Emily has been working a lot because her sick Boss is still out and they have no real 'back-up'. Although silent - she loves the blog and continuously promises to post... a bit nervous with all the heavyweights writing/reading on the blog. All that to say - she needs a vacation. Portugal will be nice - although it always manages to throw in a curve-ball of stress. And no Alex - it's not because I overbook [Mr. overbook himself - right back at you] but because vacations are always stressful [except if to hawaii - we still have flashback visions to the total relaxation we experienced in Kauai - the Bolands were out in the jungle exploring most of the time, while Emily and I sipped PinaColadas on the beach]. I can't wait for Portugal though... it will be good as always - home sweet home.

gabral - you satisfied yet? I am still waiting for clarification from you on various issues. Cough it up sucka.

miss you guys - reunite in two weeks.

el greco

Gabral... you're going to be pissed but I can't resist - the news are just too good

Saddam Hussein loves Doritos, hates Froot Loops, admires President Reagan, thinks Clinton was "OK" and considers both Presidents Bush "no good." He talks a lot, worries about germs and insists he is still president of Iraq.

Saddam was friendly toward his young guards and sometimes offered fatherly advice. When O'Shea told him he was not married, Saddam "started telling me what to do," recalled the soldier. "He was like, 'You gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. One that can cook and clean."'

Then he smiled, made what O'Shea interpreted as a "spanking" gesture, laughed and went back to doing his laundry in the sink.

_ RIGHT ON SADDAM! gabral heed his advice.

The soldiers also said Saddam was a "clean freak" who washed after shaking hands and used diaper wipes to clean meal trays, utensils and table before eating. "He had germophobia or whatever you call it," Dawson said.

For a time his favorite snack was Cheetos, and when that ran out, Saddam would "get grumpy," the story said. One day, guards substituted Doritos corn chips, and Saddam forgot about Cheetos. "He'd eat a family size bag of Doritos in 10 minutes," Dawson said.

_Doritos are damn good - that's why. Nothing wrong with being a dictator, everybody still loves doritos.

Come on Gabral - the news are just so absurd that I can't stop myself from memorializing them in the blog. I promise I will behave better though as I agree the google-paste-run move is unacceptable.

el greco

News from the Post


Those postings are kool but I have to warn you that Phat Boy is upset that partnership is only posting cuts & paste from google... Yeah, I am glad Bidden is giving it a shot. Did you watch Charlie Rose yesterday? By the way, your Gyorgy Bushie is cutting PBS's funding to the point of no return. Anyway, the next bing thing is wifimax... man, that's what I need at Terracos!

I am going to visit another loft at Berret School: unit is 1840 square feet, 2 1/2 baths...First floor: office, kitchen, den or second bedroom 1 1/2 baths and living room on first floor....270 degree views; Second floor master bedroon; large bath and dressing room with built in closets. Don't ask and I will not tell ya the price...

Sweet Potatoe (Republican spelling),

Your WP's horoscope says: Your way of getting a job done is off the beaten path. Many will be skeptical as to whether your strange methods will work at all. Einstein said "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere". This is also' Greco's sign... My horoscope said: Pull your shoulders back, and give them a dose of who you really are. Man, as if I needed any prompting!... Oh, well, and Alex's said: There's no time to waste today. Again, as if he needed any reminder!...

However, I have to say that todays' news were much better than any horoscope and Greco's reports on Berlusconni's phat. That's where the future lies indeed:

Bidders go bananas for art by Congo the chimp - Chicago Sun-Times, IL -- Monkey business proved to be lucrative Monday when paintings by Congo the chimpanzee sold at auction for more than $25,000. ...

Miss ya boys, The Joj

Monday, June 20, 2005

Gabral - get to work!

'Berlusconi's fat' moulded to art
Silvio Berlusconi "fat"
Gianni Motti claims to have got the fat from a clinic
An art work purportedly made from excess fat from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sold for $18,000 (£9,862).

Switzerland-based artist Gianni Motti claims to have bought the fat from a clinic where the leader had a liposuction operation performed.

He moulded it into a bar of soap which he named Mani Pulite (Clean Hands).

The work was put on display at the Art Basel fair in Switzerland and was sold to a private Swiss collector.

Motti gave it the title Clean Hands as a reference to an anti-corruption campaign of the 1990s. It reflects the artist's view of the current government.

Silvio Berlusconi "fat"
The bar of soap went on display in Switzerland

"I came up with the idea of because soap is made of pig fat, and I thought how much more appropriate it would be if people washed their hands using a piece of Berlusconi," Motti told Welwoche magazine.

Motti's work was part of the display from the Galerie Nicola von Senger of Zurich, one of 270 worldwide galleries exhibiting contemporary works.

All the works on display were for sale, with prices topping $45,000 (£24,658) as collectors hope to uncover the big names of the future.

Happy Joj - the Biden is making a move.... again

Biden to Seek Presidential Nomination
Senator Says He Plans to Run in 2008 Unless He Has Little Chance of Winning

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 20, 2005; A03

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said yesterday he plans to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 unless he decides later this year that he has little chance of winning.

"My intention is to seek the nomination," Biden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I know I'm supposed to be more coy with you. I know I'm supposed to tell you, you know, that I'm not sure. But if, in fact, I think that I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination."

Biden said he plans to spend the year road-testing a message to see whether his views are compatible with a majority of Democrats while evaluating whether he can raise the money needed to compete in a race that is widely expected to include Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), a prodigious fundraiser.

"I've proceeded since last November as if I were going to run," he said. "I'm quite frankly going out, seeing whether I can gather the kind of support."

Biden is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has used that pulpit to launch increasingly caustic criticisms of President Bush's policy in Iraq. Yesterday, he again accused the administration of failing to level with Americans about the situation there, saying the insurgency is far from being in its last throes, as administration officials have suggested.

"I think the administration figures they've got to paint a rosy picture in order to keep the American people in the game, and the exact opposite is happening," Biden said. "The exact opposite."

Biden, who opposes setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, said that, without changes in U.S. policy, the United States faces failure in Iraq.

"If nothing changes here, we're going to be out of Iraq by the end of 2006 as a nation that has been viewed by the rest of the jihadists in the world as having been pushed out, which is a very bad thing for us," he said. "And Iraq's going to end up having imported into the center of the Middle East . . . radical Islamic terrorist cells and groups that train in the middle of that province."

Biden says he believes that national security issues will be central to the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, as they were in 2004, and that his experience in that arena gives him a possible advantage over other potential candidates.

The Delaware senator ran for president in 1988 but withdrew from the race in 1987 amid accusations that he had plagiarized from speeches by a British Labor Party leader. He openly talked about his interest in running for president in 2004 but in the end chose not to after determining that other candidates had too much of a head start in terms of organization and fundraising.

"Now he understands it's a long march, and if he was to do it, he'd be much better prepared," said Biden spokesman Norm Kurz. "He understands you don't parachute in the last second."

Kurz said Biden has been road-testing his message and weighing potential support with weekend appearances across the country, particularly in states won by Bush in 2004. He has spoken recently in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida. Kurz likened Biden's activities to a runner training for a track meet.

"You can't wait until the day of the race to train," he said. "He's out there, he's looking at his stopwatch, seeing if his time is good enough."

Although it is still the summer of 2005, Biden was not the only politician talking about presidential politics on the Sunday morning shows. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he will not make a decision about running until well after the 2006 midterm elections.

McCain will turn 72 in 2008 and would be the oldest person ever elected if he became president that year. He also has been treated for melanoma, a skin cancer, but he indicated that he does not believe either issue presents a serious obstacle to running at this point.

"My health is excellent," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "You have had the pleasure of meeting my 93-year-old mother. So my genes, I think, are pretty good. But that would obviously be a factor in this decision-making process. There's no doubt about that."

McCain also sought to counter impressions that he has parted company frequently with Bush on key issues. "I strongly disagree with any assertion that I've been more at odds with the president of the United States than I have been in agreement with him."

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Doce de Abobora

Nao percebi muito bem por onde sao estas vias romanas mas parecem muito bonitas. Ofereco-me para fazer o caminho aos bocadinhos...


Nao foi o A que foi posto fora da reuniao foi a T... Telefona que eu logo explico tudo.


Vi n condos downtown hoje... tudo altamento ghetto. Tenho que settle for Il Pallazzo...

The Joj

This is something we should do together

Auto-estradas do império
Está em recuperação a mais antiga via romana do Noroeste peninsular. A ligação de Braga a Astorga foi agora convertida em projecto turístico de percursos pedestres

O rifão popular atribui-lhes a qualidade de todas irem dar a Roma. Estamos naturalmente a falar das vias romanas, cuja principal fonte escrita para a reconstituição do seu traçado é o chamado «Itinerário de Antonino», um documento anónimo do século III que a senhora Felicidade desconhece. A septuagenária, porém, identifica o caminho lajeado que corre em frente do campo onde vigia o gado como «a estrada dos antigos». E, enquanto orienta os animais no pasto, recupera a memória das pessoas mais velhas dos Currais: «Todas dizem que o caminho já é de muito antes do tempo dos reis.»

Situada no concelho de Montalegre, a aldeia dos Currais, na margem direita do Rabagão, está envolta por viçosos prados. É aqui que se conserva, ao longo de quase três quilómetros, um dos mais significativos troços de calçada da Via XVII, a estrada romana assim designada no «Itinerário de Antonino» e que ligava Bracara Augusta (Braga) a Asturica Augusta, actual Astorga, em terras espanholas. Agora, quase dois mil anos depois de ter sido construída, a mais antiga auto-estrada do Império Romano no Noroeste peninsular está a ser recuperada ao longo dos seus 400 quilómetros (dois terços dos quais em território português) para se transformar num conjunto de diversificados percursos pedestres, disponíveis a partir do final deste ano.

Designado por «Vias Augustas» - tomando assim o título imperial daquelas duas cidades -, este inédito projecto da União Europeia, no qual foram investidos cerca de um milhão de euros, envolve os municípios portugueses e espanhóis actualmente atravessados pela Via XVII. Com origem em Braga, a estrada transpõe os concelhos de Póvoa de Lanhoso, Vieira do Minho, Montalegre, Chaves, Boticas, Vinhais e Bragança, enquanto em território espanhol passa por Villardeciervos, Santibañez y Rosinos de Vidriales, Camarzana de Tera e Castrocalbón, até chegar a Astorga. E se a intenção do projecto é divulgar um património arqueológico e ambiental único - os roteiros vão permitir a incursão por caminhos rurais e a descoberta de pequenas aldeias, de serras e albufeiras, de castros, pontes e menires, de fornos comunitários e moinhos -, a verdade é que a Via XVII distinguiu-se no Império Romano pela sua importância estratégica no controlo do couto mineiro de Jales e Três Minas. «No final do século I, o produto destas minas significava sete por cento do rendimento do Estado romano», recorda o historiador Vasco Mantas, investigador do Instituto de Arqueologia de Coimbra.

A curiosidade sobre o percurso pode, entretanto, ser já satisfeita precisamente em Montalegre, o primeiro município a organizar os 53 quilómetros do seu território atravessados pela Via XVII. Ao todo são mais de uma dezena os troços de calçada original que o viajante pode admirar, como o que ainda se preserva na aldeia dos Currais. Mas não se fica por aqui a surpresa: um marco miliário serve de pilar à varanda de uma casa. «Esta foi apenas uma das muitas reutilizações dadas aos marcos das vias romanas. Outros tiveram os mais diversos aproveitamentos, como o da aldeia de Travassos, transformado em cruzeiro, ou o de Sanfins, utilizado para reforçar a parede de uma habitação», afirma a arqueóloga Carla Carvalho, responsável pela investigação deste troço da estrada romana, sublinhando que o total de marcos miliários referenciados atinge as duas dezenas, alguns dos quais com inscrições respeitantes aos imperadores Tibério, Cláudio, Trajano e Adriano.

Dominado pelas serras do Barroso e do Larouco, este itinerário já está marcado com sinalética para caminhantes conforme as normas internacionais. «Agora, a aposta passa pela recuperação sustentada das aldeias. Não são necessárias grandes estruturas. Basta, por exemplo, incentivar o aparecimento de uma casa com dois quartos ou de uma família que se disponha a servir umas refeições ou a comercializar produtos da terra», defende David Teixeira, o responsável pelo Ecomeu de Barroso, que refere: «Aqui não se enquadram grandes infra-estruturas de turismo, que iriam desvirtuar todo este projecto.» Tanto mais que a maior parte do traçado da via romana no concelho de Montalegre não foi praticamente perturbada por novas vias ou construções. Apenas as albufeiras da Venda Nova e do Alto Rabagão (sob a qual persiste ainda um castro romanizado) interrompem o circuito, todo ele feito por entre o intenso cheiro acre das giestas, as frondosas manchas dos carvalhos ou as imensas searas de centeio.

Idêntico é o trajecto da Via XVII que liga a antiga Bracara Augusta a Póvoa de Lanhoso, apesar de «estar extremamente alterado no território bracarense, devido à intensa urbanização verificada na cidade», segundo explica Armandino Cunha, o arqueólogo responsável por este percurso, já praticamente concluído e que deverá ficar visitável a partir de Julho. Sublinhando que no concelho de Braga restam dois quilómetros de via romana, o arqueólogo reconhece que «é possível retomar a pé, com pequenos obstáculos ou interrupções, o percurso que foi utilizado desde o final do século I a.C.» A partir da serra do Carvalho, que divide o vale do Cávado das cabeceiras da bacia hidrográfica do Ave, a via (cuja extensão atinge quase 15 quilómetros) contorna, a norte, o imenso batólito granítico do Castelo de Lanhoso, que antes de ser defesa medieval «foi ocupado por um castro, de que ainda se conservam as ruínas de construções circulares e rectangulares, na vertente leste», diz Armandino Cunha, que, além da consolidação das ruínas e da criação de um interessante percurso por entre o que resta deste povoado fortificado, construiu réplicas das primitivas habitações, «para que se compreenda que aquelas casas não eram apenas os restos de muros que hoje vemos».

Depois, o traçado sinuoso segue por entre os cumes da serra de Santo Tirso e os Penedos Alvos até alcançar os contrafortes da serra da Cabreira. E logo merece destaque a passagem pelo Ribeiro do Pontido, do qual se alcançam vários troços de calçada, até se atingir o lugar do carvalho de Calvos - um magnífico exemplar, cuja idade está estimada em cerca de 500 anos -, bem como a paisagem rural entre Boticas de Baixo e Boticas de Cima, no extremo do concelho de Póvoa de Lanhoso, onde, de novo, se reencontra o lajeado da via romana.

Da cidade de Bracara Augusta, recorde-se a recente recomposição das estruturas das termas do Alto da Cividade, descobertas em 1977. Reconhecida a importância deste único exemplar de banhos públicos da cidade imperial, os trabalhos de investigação prosseguiram, conseguindo-se a sua classificação como monumento nacional. Datados do início do século II, estes vestígios permitem ainda uma leitura do circuito dos banhos e dos diferentes espaços, como o dedicado aos exercícios físicos. E, se Braga perdeu uma parte significativa do seu percurso correspondente à Via XVII, a investigação arqueológica, na sua zona urbana, recupera-lhe espaços inimagináveis, como o da chamada Casa das Carvalheiras, uma habitação do século I, cuja área útil ultrapassa os mil metros quadrados. Remodelada no século II, mostra os espaços de banhos privados, salas de recepção e quartos de dormir.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Alex's digs on the web...

check it out

The Joj's digs

The Joj's Kinda of thing (U Corridor's funky but this is kool)

Ali of diVISION ONE - with wife and kids - on U Street revitalization

A Revitalization For Washington's U Street Corridor

June 12, 2005

FOR much of the first half of the 20th century, the U Street area of Washington thrived as the heart of the city's African-American community, pulsing with culture, entertainment and soul. Duke Ellington was born there, and over the years, musical legends like Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey and Dizzy Gillespie performed at local clubs and at the legendary Howard Theater.

"In segregated Washington, D.C., U Street was the place to be," said Merrick Malone, a local real estate developer. "It was like D.C.'s Harlem and the Apollo Theater, the epicenter of African-American life here."

All of that was shattered in the 1968 riots after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Much of U Street burned. "After that, the neighborhood disintegrated - drugs, prostitution, the whole nine yards," Mr. Malone said.

"The riots went up and down the spine of 14th Street, and then east and west along U Street," said Malcolm N. Carter, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate in Washington. "Many businesses were burnt out, and the street went into disrepute and disrepair, which was a shame because it had such strong roots in the African-American community."

During the 1980's, the "U Street Corridor," as it is commonly referred to, was further paralyzed by construction delays with the Metrorail line, said Scott Pomeroy, the executive director of the 14th and U Main Street Alliance. "That really killed most of the businesses that had survived the disturbances of the 1960's and the drug wars of the 1970's."

Kamal Ben Ali, whose family owns Ben's Chili Bowl, one of the few establishments on U Street to survive the riots of 1968 and the area's subsequent deterioration, said it became a ghost town. "They just tore the whole place up," he said, "and business came almost to a standstill."

But the U Street Corridor has since had a rebirth. "In the last six years, real estate values have nearly quadrupled," Mr. Pomeroy said. "Well over 10,000 new residents have moved into the area."

Indeed, the Washington real estate market in general is booming, fueled by, among other things, the many jobs created by the Department of Homeland Security. "There is a revitalization going on in D.C," said Bo Menkiti, president of the Menkiti Group at Coldwell Banker. "And the U Street area is probably one of the trendiest, hottest spots, as people are priced out of places like Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle."

Maybe so, but it was not always clear that early investors in its rebirth would ever get their money back.

"People told us all of the time that we were crazy to be investing in the U Street Corridor," said Ali Honarkar, whose company, Division One Architects, bought a parking lot and a deserted crack house in 2000 to develop five modern-style 2,200-square-foot row houses.

The naysayers have been proved wrong. In March 2002, Division One sold the first house for $400,000, and in December 2003 it sold the last unit for $850,000. In November 2004, the first buyer sold his home for $950,000, said Mr. Honarkar, who has lived with his family in one of the units since June 2002.

"But it definitely took a leap of faith," he said. "When we first moved in, there were cars on cinderblocks on our street, abandoned cars being used for parts, and prostitutes all over the place. And now the street is full of luxury cars and people tending to their gardens. People call it the new uptown - suddenly like the SoHo of D.C. And you can't believe this has happened in three years."

Chris Donatelli, the president and chief executive of Donatelli & Klein, one of the earlier residential developers of the U Street neighborhood, bought the two-acre abandoned site of the former Children's Hospital in 1998 for $1.6 million to make way for Harrison Square, a community of 98 town houses. Donatelli & Klein broke ground in February 2000 and immediately began selling units.

One of those who moved to Harrison Square was Heather Harrison, 36, a software developer who with her husband, Harry, 40, bought a 1,500-square-foot town house for $340,000 in 2000. "We were living on Dupont Circle at the time and wanted to buy a larger place, but could not afford to stay there," she said. "My husband said we should look at these new town homes that were being developed in this U street area, and I said, 'No way am I living over there.' "

Ultimately, Mr. Harrison, a visual designer for stores, prevailed. After their move, there were times when Mr. Harrison had his doubts. "There was still a lot of shadiness," he said. "The girls were still walking the streets. I could stand at my kitchen window and watch the drug deals going on. Then gradually, the crack houses were being sold and razed. People were buying run-down properties and rehabbing them. So it started to change, seemingly one block at a time."

In March 2004, the Harrisons, who by then had a 2-year-old daughter, Sabena, sold their Harrison Square property for $589,000 and moved to a 3,000-square-foot house with lots of outdoor space one block away, for which they paid $920,000. "Our town house was on the market for one day," Mr. Harrison said. "We were going to have an open house, and we had a knock on the door from a couple who also lived in Harrison Square but were renting, and they wanted to buy. And the next day we had an offer from them. It was very fast. The market is very hot."

Part of the neighborhood's appeal is its sheer convenience. "We are right in the heart of the city," said Louis Nayman, a union organizer who moved with his wife, Carmel, to Harrison Square in August 2001, after raising a family for more than 20 years in suburban Maryland.

"It is a 15-minute walk to Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan," he said. "I can ride my bike to work. You don't have to commute, and believe me commuting was tough."

The neighborhood appeals to an eclectic mix of people.

"We wanted to be in a diverse urban setting where we could walk to work, to restaurants and cafes and be close to the Metro," said Jennifer Kates, 38, a vice president and director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, who moved to Harrison Square from San Francisco with her partner, Sue Noseworthy, 36, in February 2002. "That was very important to us."

Carlos Garcia, a corporate software lawyer who also owns property in the area, agreed. "Gays, straights - I think that that is what U Street is all about," he said. "It is a mishmash of people."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

In anelhe, it is hot as tomatos. This morning I walked from Anelhe to Chaves via Rebordondo, 16 km, and it is the 16th of June, bloomsday, the day of Ullyses, so it was a tribute walk. But I hope to keep doing it for the rest of my time here in anelhe at 7am. about to walk back. I have taken a lot of pics of the casa for you dre. I think we might need to consider building the house on the site on the other side of the road, as that house is historic. I don't know, I am an artist, I like delapidated buildings. Dre, how you working at an InternetStartup? what about scotty. Oh yeah, I tried to call you, but no luck. try to call anelhe, ask alex for the number.
miss you guys

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

From the Economist

Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank
A regime changes
Jun 2nd 2005

The World Bank's new president is famous for his commitment to "regime change". The Bank is committed to a peaceful version of the same thing
ON ITS way to the Mekong river, the Nam Theun tributary flows uninterrupted across the Nakai plateau in Laos, the poorest country in South-East Asia. Not for much longer. In March, the World Bank backed a proposal to dam it. Hydroelectric turbines will generate up to 1,070 MW of electricity, 95% of which will be exported to neighbouring Thailand.
This is the World Bank's natural habitat, where its compulsions and capabilities are both shown to full advantage. The project is not just an exercise in hydrology. The Bank's grants will help to resettle villagers, including Vietic-speaking hunter-gatherers, from the inundated plateau behind the dam and to compensate inhabitants of the dried-out riversides below it. As the Bank's International Advisory Group reported earlier this year, the displaced are experimenting with new ways to make a living, from an organic mulch plant to eel breeding. The project will set aside a nature reserve, where wildlife, from pangolin to reticulated python, will be defended by village gamekeepers, their salaries paid out of the dam's revenues.
But this is not, it is safe to say, the natural habitat of Paul Wolfowitz, who took office as the Bank's new president on June 1st. The plight of the reticulated python and the Vietic-speaking peoples are unlikely to have crossed his desk in the Pentagon, where he previously served as America's deputy secretary of defence. Mr Wolfowitz has instead spent most of his career cogitating about America's power in the world, representing it abroad and lobbying to enlarge it, first in congressional back offices, most recently at the intellectual forefront of George Bush's foreign policy. He knows little about finance; only a little more about development, although, as ambassador to Indonesia for three years, he has lived in a populous, poor country. Behind him, he leaves the ongoing nightmare of reconstructing Iraq, a project that is certainly behind schedule and over budget.
The Bank which Mr Wolfowitz now heads has as many sides as the Pentagon he has left. Speaking on May 31st he said he would be willing to listen and experiment, but it will take him some time to get to grips with a complex organisation. The Bank's most prominent aspect is the International Development Association (IDA), which gives grants ($1.7 billion last year) and soft loans (another $7.3 billion) to 81 of the world's poorest countries. As important, but less widely understood, is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which lent about $11 billion last year. The IBRD has some claim to being a bank rather than a fund. Blessed with a AAA-credit rating, it can borrow cheaply on the capital markets, and lend, slightly less cheaply, to the aristocracy of the third world, such as China and Brazil.
The Bank also has third and fourth sides—two smaller agencies that take on some of the risk of private lending to poor countries—and a fifth that settles disputes between foreign lenders and sovereign borrowers. Dams in Laos notwithstanding, only 5% of the Bank's money went to the energy and mining sectors last year. Three times as much went to social services, such as health, while education received 8%. The Bank also performs a type of economic chiropractics, giving money to governments in need of an "adjustment" in their policies, fiscal or monetary.
Mr Wolfowitz may, in fact, discover much that is familiar to him at the Bank. It is first and foremost a formidable technocracy. But in its own bloodless idiom, the Bank now talks increasingly about politics, even if it does so in euphemisms such as "good governance", "capacity building", "voice" and "empowerment". It is committed to understanding the political institutions of the countries in which it operates. Haltingly, hesitantly, it is also committed to changing them.
In June 2000, for example, the Bank lent $190m to help finance a 1,000km pipeline from the oilfields of landlocked Chad to the port of Kribi in Cameroon. But laying the pipe was the easy bit. Much harder is managing the revenues, which threaten to overvalue Chad's currency and underwrite endemic corruption.
The Bank's answer was two-fold. It insisted that the pipeline revenues be paid into an offshore escrow account. About 10% of the money would be held aside for future generations. The rest would flow to the government's poverty-fighting efforts under the close supervision of a new body, commonly known as the Collège. Staffed by parliamentarians, judges and representatives from human-rights groups, the Collège was, in effect, a new institution of state. It was soon debating whether to withhold money from the government. Clearly then, even when it is in the business of erecting dams and laying pipelines, the Bank is also often building states and reforming regimes.
Naïfs no more
That is a big change. Until 1996, politics was the variable that dared not speak its name at the Bank. Country directors, who head its branch offices in borrowing countries, came to their jobs as "self-described political neophytes", according to a recent Bank publication that recounts their education in the ways of the world.
Their initial innocence was largely self-imposed. Basil Kavalsky, who served as the Bank's country director across eastern Europe, confesses that it was "an article of faith...that we did not take political considerations into account." Actually, it was more than an article of faith. The Bank's articles of agreement, its founding charter, enjoin its officers to remain studiously apolitical.
Of course, the neophytes soon learned all about the political character of their host countries. But, notes Mr Kavalsky, they treated corruption as "a given, a part of the environment to be factored into the calculation. We did not treat it as a variable—something which we should make a concerted effort to address."
That changed with James Wolfensohn, Mr Wolfowitz's predecessor. It was perhaps his most far-reaching innovation in a tumultuous ten-year reign. In May 1996, he visited Indonesia, where Mr Wolfowitz had been ambassador from 1986 to 1989. The brazen corruption of the country's ruling Suharto clan irked them both. Mr Wolfowitz broached the issue, albeit politely, as he prepared to leave his ambassadorial post in the country in 1989. Seven years later Mr Wolfensohn was more forthright. "Let's not mince words," he said at the Bank's 1996 annual meeting in Washington, DC, "we need to deal with the cancer of corruption."
The following year, the World Development Report, written by a team led by Ajay Chhibber, was the first publication in which the Bank properly addressed the topic. It was the beginning of a thorough re-examination of the role of the state and political institutions in development.
Mr Chhibber is now given to quoting Napoleon: "institutions alone fix the destinies of nations". That dictum finds some support in the latest economic research on development. A number of economists believe the policies they advocated in the 1980s and 1990s—stabilise prices, liberalise trade, privatise industries—matter less than the institutions that stand behind those policies.
Leading the chorus are Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson of the National Bureau of Economic Research. As they point out, for example, the prescription of stable finances and sound money did little to help in Argentina. The state found itself chronically prone to profligacy, for deep institutional reasons. It had to appease the country's unruly outlying provinces, which contribute little to the economy but dominate parliament. Likewise, they argue, Ghana's wildly overvalued exchange rate in its post-independence decades was not a monetary blunder. It was a political strategy designed to redistribute resources from the country's cocoa exporters, who received artificially low prices for their exports, to the import-buying city dwellers, on whose support the regime depended.
Testing such theories is fraught with difficulty. But the measurement of institutions has made some progress. Dani Kaufmann, at the World Bank, notes an explosion of indicators of good government, most based on business surveys or expert perceptions, that offer measures of accountability, bureaucratic competence, the rule of law, and so on. By sorting and sifting these numbers, he and his colleagues believe that they can derive workable measures of misrule. Precise rankings between countries are not possible, but broad comparisons are, and changes over time can be discerned. Over the past eight years, for example, many governments in Africa have defied the Afro-pessimists (see table), although more have regressed.
Mr Kaufmann believes he and his colleagues can demonstrate a strong causal link between his indices of sound government and prosperity. If the rule of law in Somalia, for example, were to match even that prevailing in Laos, Somalia's income would rise two- to three-fold in the long run, Mr Kaufmann estimates.
These are powerful arguments. But even if it is true that institutions fix a nation's destiny, can the Bank fix a nation's institutions? Is there a reliable "transmission mechanism" between the levers the Bank can pull and the results it cares about?
By training and temperament, Bank staff have tended to view government as a practical art. But their efforts to date give comfort to those of a more fatalistic cast of mind, who believe good government cannot be engineered, but must evolve.
In 2000, the Bank unveiled its strategy for reforming public institutions and strengthening governments. Between 2000 and 2004, lending to promote economic reforms fell by 14% a year, but lending to improve governance rose by 11%. In the 2004 fiscal year the Bank committed 25% of its lending to law and public administration (see chart). It had 220 staff dedicated to the cause, and more than 840 professionals affiliated with it.
For the most part, its direct efforts were confined to poorer countries, dependent on IDA for grants and soft loans. The richer developing countries, such as Brazil or India, where the state apparatus was formidable, were reluctant to cede ground to outsiders. In China, where Edwin Lim once served as chief of mission for the Bank, "the economic dialogue was always," he admits, "within the Chinese ideological and political limits."
A review of the Bank's efforts to prune the lush bureaucracies of African states concluded that civil-service reform remains elusive and intractable. Elsewhere, anti-corruption commissions proliferated, but achieved little—indeed they were often set up in the wake of some scandal as an alternative to doing anything.
Part of the difficulty, as Dani Rodrik of Harvard University points out, is that typical measures capture institutional outcomes, not institutional forms. The "rule of law", for example, measures how secure an investor feels about his property. It tells us little about precisely what makes him feel that way. According to Michael Woolcock, of the Bank, and Lant Pritchett, of Harvard University, the development industry can agree on "objectives" (children should be taught, roads should be passable, the rule of law should prevail) and "adjectives" (government should be accountable, transparent and responsive). But that is about all. As a result, Mr Kavalsky notes, the Bank's prescriptions in this field often come "very close to a tautology". What is required for growth? Good governance. And what counts as good governance? That which promotes growth.
That "P" word again
But the main difficulty was the obvious one: politics. When the Bank moved in on examples of bad governance, it too often forgot to ask, bad for whom? Consider, says Mr Chhibber, Turkey's banking system prior to that country's financial crisis in 2001. In 1998, the government was advised to set up an independent financial regulator, styled on those of Britain and Canada. Instead it created a regulator that was packed with political appointees. To the Bank's technocrats, it was obvious that the country had too many banks, many of them state-owned, and that they were not serving the economy at all well. But in Turkey at that time, state banks had a different purpose. They were the playthings of politicians, given to them as the spoils of electoral victory.
In such a situation, Mr Chhibber points out, all the Bank can do is bide its time. After the 2001 financial crisis, political resistance to an independent regulator broke down. Once established, the regulator closed more than 20 private banks, and cleaned up the system, at a cost of 33% of GNP. Mr Chhibber argues that earlier failures contributed to the eventual success. The work undertaken in 1998 allowed Turkey, under a new economy minister, Kemal Dervis, himself an alumnus of the Bank, to take advantage of the opportunity for reform when it arose.
In a speech in 2000, Mr Wolfowitz reflected on the thawing of authoritarian regimes in South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines—the last of them on his watch as assistant secretary of state for East Asia. In these regimes, he noted, America worked on institutional, rather than revolutionary, change. It once counted Ferdinand Marcos, the dictatorial president of the Philippines, as an ally. If it had written him off, it would have lost all influence over him, Mr Wolfowitz said. But America could not coddle Marcos indefinitely either.
Such dilemmas will almost certainly revisit Mr Wolfowitz in his new job. The Bank must continually choose whether to coddle bad governments, or to cut them off. If misrule matters so much for development, should it reserve its money for committed reformers, turning its back on the reform-shy? That would make its money go further; it might also encourage laggards to reform. David Dollar and Victoria Levin, two Bank economists, reckon that since 1995 the Bank's soft-loan arm, IDA, has become much choosier about its clients. Broadly speaking, money flows to countries based on two main criteria: how well run is it? And how poor?
IDA may be pickier than it once was, but the Bank as a whole is not quite as discriminating as this study suggests. Richer countries, even if badly run, can still unlock money from the IBRD, the Bank's commercial-loan arm. And disastrously run countries are never entirely shunned by IDA. Each gets a small allocation regardless of its performance, and some qualify for money from the Bank's £25m trust fund for failed states, which it calls "low-income countries under stress".
Some think that, if it were to confine itself to the well-governed parts of the globe, the World Bank would scarcely warrant its title. But the Bank is learning that every unfit government is unfit in its own way. In some countries, citizens cannot hold policymakers to account (China); in others, policymakers cannot bend the bureaucracy to their will (Armenia). In some cases, the state is captured by venal interests—either wealth captures power (Russia under Yeltsin), or power captures wealth (Russia under Putin). In others, the state is so weak there is nothing worth capturing.
The Bank must pitch itself accordingly. If the state is honest, but weak, the Bank can try to train judges and equip civil servants. But there is no point investing in the machinery of a captured state. A project to strengthen the fiscal apparatus of Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocratic former ruler of Zaire, counts as the most misguided Bank project ever, in the opinion of Susan Rose-Ackerman, a corruption expert at Yale University.
If there is no will for reform on the part of government leaders, the Bank can try to go over their heads, stimulating demand for reforms in the public at large. Sometimes this works. When Thailand slipped in the Bank's ratings of good government, Mr Kaufmann recalls, the prime minister had to go on the radio to explain himself.
Truman's show
Some will argue, of course, that foreign aid has been political since its inception. The World Bank owes its existence to America's strategic commitment to rebuild post-war Europe. And many think the modern aid business and the cold war were twin-born at the moment of President Harry Truman's inaugural address in 1949. That speech is famous for Truman's vow to strengthen the freedom-loving nations of the world against the false philosophy of communism. But in it he also promised to share America's know-how and some of its resources with those parts of the world threatened by the "ancient enemies—hunger, misery and despair."
Mr Wolfowitz, of all people, is not one to disavow Truman's commitment to strengthen freedom. But if the ends Truman sought were deeply political, the means were mostly technocratic. The Bank which Mr Wolfowitz now leads is in a different game. The ends it pursues are primarily technocratic—it wants to fight poverty, not a false philosophy. But the means it employs have to be canny, opportunistic and, yes, political.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why did you finish MS?

Extreme Weather Conditions in DC
Date: June 14, 2005 - 12:52
Sponsor: Human Resources Vice Presidency


According to some reports, DC Public Schools are closing at 12:30 PM today due to the heat. This may affect some of you in the Bank’s Washington offices. I am therefore asking managers to be flexible and responsive to staff who may need to leave work early.

Monday, June 13, 2005


A vida de Álvaro Cunhal confunde-se com a sua actividade política. Existem, no entanto, outras facetas da sua personalidade. A literatura e a estética são duas áreas sobre as quais se debruçou. Dentro da estética, começou por se distinguir como artista plástico e mais recentemente como ensaísta. Os seus ideais políticos são uma presença constante nas obras que produziu em qualquer um destes domínios.
Bibliografia Consultada
Nota Prévia: A obra de Álvaro Cunhal é aqui analisada na sua vertente estética. A sua faceta política será abordada e integrada oportunamente.

China: Containment Won't Work

By Henry A. Kissinger

Monday, June 13, 2005; A19

The relationship between the United States and China is beset by ambiguity. On the one hand, it represents perhaps the most consistent expression of a bipartisan, long-range American foreign policy. Starting with Richard Nixon, seven presidents have affirmed the importance of cooperative relations with China and the U.S. commitment to a one-China policy -- albeit with temporary detours at the beginning of the Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. President Bush and Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell have described relations with China as the best since the opening to Beijing in 1971. The two presidents, Bush and Hu Jintao, plan to make reciprocal visits and to meet several times at multilateral forums.

Nevertheless, ambivalence has suddenly reemerged. Various officials, members of Congress and the media are attacking China's policies, from the exchange rate to military buildup, much of it in a tone implying China is on some sort of probation. To many, China's rise has become the most significant challenge to U.S. security.

Before dealing with the need of keeping the relationship from becoming hostage to reciprocal pinpricks, I must point out that the consulting company I chair advises clients with business interests around the world, including China. Also, in early May I spent a week in China, much of it as a guest of the government.

The rise of China -- and of Asia -- will, over the next decades, bring about a substantial reordering of the international system. The center of gravity of world affairs is shifting from the Atlantic, where it was lodged for the past three centuries, to the Pacific. The most rapidly developing countries are in Asia, with a growing means to vindicate their perception of the national interest.

China's emerging role is often compared to that of imperial Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, the implication being that a strategic confrontation is inevitable and that the United States had best prepare for it. That assumption is as dangerous as it is wrong. The European system of the 19th century assumed that its major powers would, in the end, vindicate their interests by force. Each nation thought that a war would be short and that, at its end, its strategic position would have improved.

Only the reckless could make such calculations in a globalized world of nuclear weapons. War between major powers would be a catastrophe for all participants; there would be no winners; the task of reconstruction would dwarf the causes of the conflict. Which leader who entered World War I so insouciantly in 1914 would not have recoiled had he been able to imagine the world at its end in 1918?

Another special factor that a century ago drove the international system to confrontation was the provocative style of German diplomacy. In 1900 a combination of Russia, France and Britain would have seemed inconceivable given the conflicts among them. Fourteen years later, a bullying German diplomacy had brought it about, challenging Britain with a naval buildup and seeking to humiliate Russia over Bosnia in 1908 and France in two crises over Morocco in 1905 and 1911.

Military imperialism is not the Chinese style. Clausewitz, the leading Western strategic theoretician, addresses the preparation and conduct of a central battle. Sun Tzu, his Chinese counterpart, focuses on the psychological weakening of the adversary. China seeks its objectives by careful study, patience and the accumulation of nuances -- only rarely does China risk a winner-take-all showdown.

It is unwise to substitute China for the Soviet Union in our thinking and to apply to it the policy of military containment of the Cold War. The Soviet Union was heir to an imperialist tradition, which, between Peter the Great and the end of World War II, projected Russia from the region around Moscow to the center of Europe. The Chinese state in its present dimensions has existed substantially for 2,000 years. The Russian empire was governed by force; the Chinese empire by cultural conformity with substantial force in the background. At the end of World War II, Russia found itself face to face with weak countries along all its borders and unwisely relied on a policy of occupation and intimidation beyond the long-term capacity of the Russian state.

The strategic equation in Asia is altogether different. U.S. policy in Asia must not mesmerize itself with the Chinese military buildup. There is no doubt that China is increasing its military forces, which were neglected during the first phase of its economic reform. But even at its highest estimate, the Chinese military budget is less than 20 percent of America's; it is barely, if at all, ahead of that of Japan and, of course, much less than the combined military budgets of Japan, India and Russia, all bordering China -- not to speak of Taiwan's military modernization supported by American decisions made in 2001. Russia and India possess nuclear weapons. In a crisis threatening its survival, Japan could quickly acquire them and might do so formally if the North Korean nuclear problem is not solved. When China affirms its cooperative intentions and denies a military challenge, it expresses less a preference than the strategic realities. The challenge China poses for the medium-term future will, in all likelihood, be political and economic, not military.

The problem of Taiwan is an exception and is often invoked as a potential trigger. This could happen if either side abandons the restraint that has characterized U.S.-Chinese relations on the subject for over a generation. But it is far from inevitable. Almost all countries -- and all major ones -- have recognized China's claim that Taiwan is part of China. So have seven American presidents of both parties -- none more emphatically than George W. Bush. Both sides have managed the occasional incongruities of this state of affairs with some skill. In 1972 Beijing accepted a visit by President Nixon, even while the United States recognized Taipei as the capital of all of China, and by another president -- Gerald Ford -- under the same ground rules in 1975. Diplomatic relations were not established until 1979. Despite substantial U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, Sino-American relations have steadily improved based on three principles: American recognition of the one-China principle and opposition to an independent Taiwan; China's understanding that the United States requires the solution to be peaceful and is prepared to vindicate that principle; restraint by all parties in not exacerbating tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

The task now is to keep the Taiwan issue in a negotiating framework. The recent visits to Beijing by the heads of two of Taiwan's three major parties may be a forerunner. Talks on reducing the buildup in the Taiwan Strait seem feasible.

With respect to the overall balance, China's large and educated population, its vast markets, its growing role in the world economy and global financial system foreshadow an increasing capacity to pose an array of incentives and risks, the currency of international influence. Short of seeking to destroy China as a functioning entity, however, this capacity is inherent in the global economic and financial processes that the United States has been preeminent in fostering.

The test of China's intentions will be whether its growing capacity will be used to seek to exclude America from Asia or whether it will be part of a cooperative effort. Paradoxically, the best strategy for achieving anti-hegemonic objectives is to maintain close relations with all the major countries of Asia, including China. In that sense, Asia's rise will be a test of U.S. competitiveness in the world now emerging, especially in the countries of Asia. The historical American aim of opposing hegemony in Asia -- incorporated as a joint aim with China in the Shanghai Communique of 1972 -- remains valid. It will have to be pursued, however, primarily by political and economic measures -- albeit backed by U.S. power.

In a U.S. confrontation with China, the vast majority of nations will seek to avoid choosing sides. At the same time, they will generally have greater incentives to participate in a multilateral system with America than to adopt an exclusionary Asian nationalism. They will not want to be seen as pieces of an American design. India, for example, perceives ever closer common interests with the United States regarding opposition to radical Islam, some aspects of nuclear proliferation and the integrity of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It sees no need to give these common purposes an ideological or anti-Chinese character. It finds no inconsistency between its dramatically improving relations with the United States and proclaiming a strategic partnership with China. American insistence on an ideological crusade and on a Cold War-type of containment might accelerate such gestures. And it would risk inflaming India's Muslim population.

China, in its own interest, is seeking cooperation with the United States for many reasons, including the need to close the gap between its own developed and developing regions; the imperative of adjusting its political institutions to the accelerating economic and technological revolutions; and the potentially catastrophic impact of a Cold War with the United States on the continued raising of the standard of living, on which the legitimacy of the government depends. But it does not follow from this that any damage to China caused by a Cold War would benefit America. We would have few followers anywhere in Asia. Asian countries would continue trading with China. Whatever happens, China will not disappear. The American interest in cooperative relations with China is for the pursuit of a stable international system.

Preemption is not a feasible policy toward a country of China's magnitude. It cannot be in our interest to have new generations in China grow up with a perception of a permanently and inherently hostile United States. It cannot be in China's interest to be perceived in America as being exclusively focused on its own narrow domestic or Asian interests.

The issue of nuclear weapons in North Korea is an important test case. It is often presented as an example of China's failure to fulfill all its possibilities. But anyone familiar with Chinese conduct over the past decade knows that China has come a long way in defining a parallel interest with respect to doing away with the nuclear arsenal in North Korea. Its patience in dealing with the problem is grating on some U.S. policymakers, but it partly reflects the reality that the North Korean problem is more complex for China than for the United States. America concentrates on nuclear weapons in North Korea; China is worried about the potential for chaos along its borders. These concerns are not incompatible; they may require enlarging the framework of discussions from North Korea to Northeast Asia.

Attitudes are psychologically important. China needs to be careful about policies seeming to exclude America from Asia and our sensitivities regarding human rights, which will influence the flexibility and scope of the U.S. stance toward China. America needs to understand that a hectoring tone evokes in China memories of imperialist condescension and that it is not appropriate in dealing with a country that has managed 4,000 years of uninterrupted self-government.

As a new century begins, the relations between China and the United States may well determine whether our children will live in turmoil even worse than the 20th century's or will witness a new world order compatible with universal aspirations for peace and progress.