Friday, 30 May 2008

Traditional problematic

In this article by Christine King from Australia "traditional agriculture" is described as "broad scale monocropping" - what most of us would describe as conventional agriculture. From an Australian point of view this might be acceptable, but compare Australian monocultures to Portuguese fields! What we consider "truly traditional" - lameiros - and 1000ha cereal fields. The concept "traditional" can be used for everything - so maybe it's better to avoid it instead. That's something it has in common with the concept "sustainability".

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

"Radical hope"

We shall leave the stone age!

not very convincingly; this is by Midnight Oil.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Impressões do crepúsculo

Pauis de roçarem ânsias pela minh' alma em ouro...
Dobre longínquo de Outros Sinos... Empalidece o louro
Trigo na cinza do poente... Corre um frio carnal por minh' alma...
Tão sempre a mesma, a Hora!... Balouçar de cimos de palma!
Silêncio que as folhas fitam em nós... Outono delgado
Oh que mudo grito de ânsia põe garras na Hora!
Que pasmo de mim anseia por outra coisa que o que chora!
Estendo as mãos para além, mas ao estendê-las já vejo
Que não é aquilo que quero aquilo que desejo...
Címbalos de Imperfeição... Ó tão antiguidade
A Hora expulsa de si-Tempo! Onda de recuo que invade
O meu abandonar-se a mim próprio até desfalecer,
E recordar tanto o Eu presente que me sinto esquecer!...
Fluido de auréola, transparente de Foi, oco de ter-se.
O Mistério sabe-me a eu ser outro... Luar sobre o não conter-se...
A sentinela é hirta - a lança que finca no chão
É mais alta do que ela... Para que é tudo isto.... Dia chão...
Trepadeiras de despropósitos lambendo de Hora os Aléns...
Horizontes fechando os olhos ao espaço em que são elos de ferro...
Fanfarras de ópios de silêncios futuros... Longes trens...
Portões vistos longe... através de árvores... tão de ferro!

Fernando Pessoa

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Conference announcement

"On behalf of the Steering Committee and on my own name, I have the pleasure to invite you to attempt the CBC08. I only ask you to please confirm your participation, filling the registration form online at ... (dead line: May 23). I hope to see you there."

Please, dear illustrious Portuguese scientists, let me read through the stuff first before you publish it. I can't write better, but I can help improve your writing. In exchange I suggest a generous donation to my account at: XZY... please, contact me. ;)

Novidades do inconsciente

Olhem-me este lapso Freudiano que cometi hoje num e-mail:
"Não é assim não tão mau como se pensa"

Monday, 19 May 2008

Franco de Cima

View from Franco de Cima, another abandoned village in the Serra da Lousa. One that is quite difficult to reach: 1,5 hours walk up the steep forest road. But the young Ribeira maior is there for refreshment at the top...

Sustainable development?

Everyday narcissism

A sign of common, maybe even a normal level of narcissism, is certainly when people think their burden is The Heaviest. Why do so many people insist in making it clear that their work and their problems are worse compared to yours? A realistic comparison would in most cases show that the only difference is that one of the burdens is carried by them, and that is the only reason why they think it is objectively heavier than mine or yours.

In den Weiten

In den Weiten sollst du lernen,
wie das Blau der Aetherfernen,
erst im Weltensein entschwindet
und in dir sich wiederfindet.

R. Steiner

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Arouquesas & hunger in Moura morta

This cow breed, called Aroquesa, is typical of the mountains of central and northern Portugal. I met this cow and the bull in the village of Moura Morta, close to Castro Daire. I asked why people still keep so many cows. "It's for the subsidy" they told me. Of course they use the cows in farming: for traction and dung, but neither meat nor milk are produced for sale. It's the subsidy that keeps these cows and their owners alive.
Farmers have a very low retirement allowance, sometimes not reaching 200€. Even if they don't have to pay rent because they have their own home, it is not enough to pay the monthly expenses. So they have to produce food for their household needs and try to earn some extra money.
I asked the people how they explain that there are still so many cows in their village but so few in other villages. They said: "It's because we are very poor. The soil of our village is not very fertile. Farmers in this village never earned enough to invest in machinery."
After visting the village Moura Morta I met a woman selling fish in the market of Lamego. She is from the neighbouring village Mezio. She told me very lively about the villages, and besides she was just some years older than me at times she pretended to be a knowelgable elder and called me "my daugther". She told me as well that these villages are very poor, and she said people there sometimes still suffer from hunger. This possibility shocked me completely.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Know your sample!

Almost in the final stages of my exploratory data collection, I realize that some of my starting points weren't the most adequate. I had only a vague idea about who my sample would be and a much vaguer idea still how to get hold of it.

I defined one of my samples as "successful farmers" without making clear that I mean by "success" someone who is able to live exclusively from the income derived from farming. Therefore I haven't systematized strategies beforehand how to access successful farmers and how to distinguish them from the crowd digging the backyards.

My sampling idea was "snowballing", something really simple as decribed for example in Wikipedia. But: how to find the right entry points to start snowballing?! If you ask an antisocial farmer for further contacts you land on a dead-end of your pretty snowballing strategy. I followed my supervisors advice and tried everything, in order to find something that works. Just: I haven't found anything that works properly. If I phone the farmers listed in the yellow pages, half of them are already dead or out of farming. If I go to farming associations and wait behind the door to catch a farmer, only old housewives turn up asking for subsidies... If I ask someone if he can indicate me a farmer I am told "Oh, real farmers? There is a man in village YZ who still sells some grapes..." I follow up the indications and find an old retired emigrant who in fact sells some grapes to improve his cash. Can I consider him to be a "successful farmer"?

Well... in the end, what I really need and do is to gather a profile: "Who is still in farming?"; "What are their liveilhood strategies?". But, as it happens always, sitting at my far away desk, it took me weeks to formulate the question "How do you explain the success of your farm?". And the answers I'm getting are:"I might skip next week."; "Success? I'm not gonna reply that one."

Einstürzende Neubauten - Stella Maris

My diagnosis: #Mon Op #Mon and suns conjunct transisting #Nep (that explains the dream).

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Senhora ao relento

Ontém estive meia hora na fila nos correios à espera de ser atendida. Estou numa fase da minha vida em que passo a maior parte do tempo em filas à espera para depois me dizerem para voltar mais tarde. Então estive lá na fila porque à minha frente havia duas senhoras de meia idade para pagar umas coisas que poderiam perfeitamente pagar no multibanco e o Sr. dos correios demorou 15-20 minutos para aquele processo rotineiro de 30 segundos. Então como eu não me irrito com nada mesmo (hahaha!) estive atenta às conversas das pessoas atrás de mim (how polite is that?!). Estava uma velhota com o cabelo pegajoso amarelado pintado. Entrou outra Sra e virou-se para ela: "Ei, nem a reconhecia! Está com o cabelo diferente". A Sra. meia envergonhada responde: "Pois caiu a geada e o meu cabelo ficou assim..."

Monday, 5 May 2008

Reinhard Mey - Die heiße Schlacht am kalten Buffet

On the hot struggle around the cold buffet, here men still count as men. Here it shows who can fight!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Food crisis: speculation and small farmers

An Answer to the Global Food Crisis: Peasants and small farmers can feed the world!
Thursday, 01 May 2008
Prices on the world market for cereals are rising. Wheat prices increased by 130% in the period between March 2007- March 2008. Rice prices increased by almost 80% in the period up to 2008. Maize prices increased by 35% between March 2007 and March 2008 (1). In countries that depend heavily on food imports some prices have gone up dramatically. Poor families see their food bills go up and can no longer afford to buy the minimum needed. In many countries cereal prices have doubled or tripled over the last year. Governments in these countries are under high pressure to make food available at reasonable prices. In Haiti the government already fell because of this issue and strong protests have taken place in other countries such as Cameroun, Egypt, and the Philippines…
by Via Campesina

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Zeca Afonso - Maio Maduro Maio

Finally it's May! The prettiest time in the year.