PEC 37 e Reforma Política Já!

Aparentemente a pressao popular e os protestos funcionam mesmo, pois a PEC 37 foi votada e rejeitada por maioria absoluta pela câmara de deputados nesta semana que passou.

Agora falta lutar contra a PEC 99, Feliciano e a cura gay, corrupção, estatuto nascituro e principalmente, antes de tudo (mas não antes da PEC 99), REFORMA POLITICA!

Do Not Go To Brazil

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – HeLa Cells

I’m finishing Rebecca Skloot’s account of the story behind the HeLa cells.  I can’t tell how much of my fascination with this book comes from the uncanniness of the story itself and how much comes from Skloot’s incredible mastery of the art of reporting a real story. It’s a non-fiction work but it looks like a work of  fiction when it gives each of its characters/facts a beginning, middle and end. It was so well written! Every phrase passed in front of my eyes like a scene from a film, a very sad film, where black people were relegated to medical apartheid and scientists and science played the great villain. When you work with people (and I know about that because I’m a doctor) sometimes it can be hard to balance professionalism and emotional detachment from the person who’s your work subject. It’s a thin line. I guess anyone who read the book can tell Rebecca Skloot got deeply involved with her research got emotionally involved with the Lacks family, and she pretty much wrote herself as a “character” into the book, in a very clever – and very professional – way. Congratulations to the author, it’s probably the best non-fiction book I have ever read.


Edited: and I should not forget to mention the book’s awesome approach to the ethics of tissue research at the end of the book.


HeLa Cells from Radiolab on Vimeo.

Podcast on HeLa cells from Radiolab

I’m in the middle of reading two books…

One is “The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements” by Sam Kean. It speaks about the development of the periodic table by telling stories the involve the use of the each element. I’m only in the beginning of the book, thus I wasn’t very surprised perhaps because the explanations were aimed (mostly) at lay people (since I studied chemistry for one and a half year…). But I was perplexed by the tale of  the exploration of Niobium and Tantalum in Congo and its repercussion. Niobium and tantalum are fundamental parts of cell phone batteries (or mostly other electronics batteries) , and are part of the root of conflict in this country – yes, the same country of the “blood diamonds”. It seems it’s not only the diamonds that are bloody after all. At this height  is there anything that comes out of Congo that is not blood tainted?


The other book I’m reading is another non-fiction called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebbeca Skloot. 

I’m in the middle, I’m loving it and there’s so much to say about it that my comment alone would make another book! I’ll write a longer review about it after I’m finished, now all I can say is: highly recommended!

That’s what I was talking about (on my last post)

GoodReads Progress on HeLa

The Immortal Life of HeLa - Goodreads Progress


Boyfriend Cary is reading the very same book.

“The Way of All Flesh” by BBC’s Adam Curtis on “HeLa” Cells

I came to know about this video while  reading the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebbeca Skloot – page 81 of the e-book edition, to be more exact.

The video and the words below are embedded from what has been puclished on Google Video.




The Way of All Flesh by Adam Curtis
53:33m – 2 anos atrás

Follows the story of the cells of Henriettta Lacks. She dies in 1951 of cancer, before she died cells were removed from her body and cultivated in a laboratory in the hope that they could help find a cure for cancer. The cells (known as the HeLa line) have been growing ever since, and the scientists found that they were growing in ways they could not control.


 If anyone has any problem, concerning copyright, with me embedding this video on my site, please contact me and I’ll be glad to talk to you.


Today’s candidate is Dilma Rousseff.

Dilma Rousseff (PT – Partido dos Trabalhadores – Worker’s Party) is Lula’s sweetheart. Previously to candidacy she had been the Chief of Staff of Brazil – from 2005 until 2010 – in Lula’s mandate. In spite of having an administrative position of public notoriety, she had been living in the shadowy limbo of political (and public) oblivion until President Lula openly endorsed her candidacy around the middle of 2009.  Before President Lula openly and shamelessly* advocated for her, hardly any average Brazilian citizen knew exactly who Dilma Rousseff was or what she did. Back then she would always be 10 points behind in the polls, runner up to candidate José Serra (PMDB – Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira – Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy). After President Lula started openly campaigning for and with her, she started climbing all the way up on the polls, and is now about 10 points in front of candidate José Serra.

Dilma Rousseff never ran for any public post in her life. She is essencially an administrator who was fabricated into the ideal politician stereotype, based solely on Lula’s gigantic and astonishing popularity and public appeal. This article says exactly what I am talking about: My Name is Dilma Rousseff and I’m Running Again for President, Says Brazil’s Lula

All the above said, I am not saying here that Dilma would be a bad president simply because she never ran for office before.

Unlike her female concurrent Marina Silva, who had a poor life background in the Amazon forrest, Dilma Roussef is a urban, high middle class woman, born in the town of Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais. Already in her youth – 16 years old – she became interested in Marxism. Later while in college (UFMG, where she started a major in Economics,  later finished in another college, UFRGS, in the town of Porto Alegre.) she became a member of the socialist armed militia VAR-Palmares, one of the many youth groups that fought against the abuses of the ongoing military dictatorship (which started in 1964 with a coup d’etat). Dilma Rousseff was arrested and tortured by the military during three years of her life. After the end of military dictatorship she started her career in a number of administrative posts, always related with public administration and politics, and so on, until she became Lula’s Chief of Staff.

Dilma Rousseff, together with Marina Silva, is a good example of Brazil’s best: diversity. Both come from opposite backgrounds, one is a brown skinned, formerly illitarate child of the Amazon; the other is white, daughter of a rich European immigrant. Both are Brazilian. They have very different stories, but what they have in common is that both somehow involve suffering and giving yourself over to something bigger. Both are women. Both are candidates to president.

*The electoral law of Brazil determines that there is only so much the current chief of state can do to campaign in favor of his successor. President Lula crossed that line shamelessly many and many times, and has been fined in several thousands of Brazilian Reais for that, yet, he pays the fine and goes on breaking the law. The situation got to the curious point that Dilma will never pose with her Vice (and I’m afraid no one actually even knows who her vice is: Michel Temer, PMDB, President of the Brazilian Congress.)
I only mention this funny detail because undue campaign is something Lula vehemently condemned before he became president. Now he changed his mind, it seems.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is probably my favorite commemorative date. It’s a honest and realistic reason to celebrate.

Motherhood is a universal motive for a holiday: most countries celebrate it at the same day; everyone has a mother, regardless of ethnicity, religion, social status. Naturally, it is, as well, a commercial date, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that: everyone here must agree about the importance of our mothers in our lives, and presenting them with cuddling mementos is the least we can do.

Same thing for Father’s Day. Instead of traditional religious holidays, I think Father’s and Mother’s Day are the holidays that actually show how much we care about our family values.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

*All images under the public domain, from Flickr Commons, by The George Eastman House, The Library of Congress & State Library of NSW.

The Nardoni Trial, and Science & Health Reminders

  • It’s been now three full days since the beggining of the trial of Alexandre Nardoni & wife Ana Jatobá, both charged with murder 2 years ago, being the victim Isabella Nardoni, 5 years old, child of Alexandre’s first marriage with . Since the very beggining the case caused commotion nationwide due to it’s ever growing media coverage as forensic evidence quickly & strongly pointed towards Isabella’s father & stepmother as the authors of the crime. Since then the couple has been held captive in the prison of Tremembé, in the State of São Paulo, known for being ‘home sweet home’ to the most notorious Brazilian criminals.

    Global Voices has a post about on the media circus built around the Isabella Nardoni Case.

  • Today, March the 24th,  is World TB Day. For the curious and uninformed,  “TB” stands for Tuberculosis.  This day in 1882 Dr. Robert Koch brought to public his discovery of the tuberculosis bacillus, a.k.a. Koch bacillus. Hence the date is used as means to increase people’s awareness of such prevalent burdensome illness.
  • Reminder: Phase 2 of the Brazilian National H1N1 Vaccination Campaign goes until April 2nd . Go to the health care facility next to you and take your shot: if you are pregnant, in any gestational age; children from 06 months to 2 years old – and don’t forget to bring the child’s vaccination card with you; if you are under 60 and has any of the listed chronic diseases. Important: ALL PREGNANT WOMEN MUST GET THE VACCINE. In case you get pregnant after the vaccination period ends, you will get the vaccine too. Just look for the health care facility next to you, as soon as possible. For further questions you can check the following site, in portuguese:

Back to International Women’s Day

I’m an avid enthusiast of Flickr Commons and a Flickr addict, and I couldn’t help but to feel uber-ecstatic with this pearl by the Smithsonian Institution. By the occasion of International Women’s Day they put together a collection of photographs, presenting us with an album named “Women in Science”.  Bellow is a photograph  of Irene Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, taken from the Smithsonian Collection. The image is public domain (no copyright restrictions)

Irène Joliot-Curie (1897-1956), 1921

Physicist Irène Joliot-Curie (1897-1956) is shown in full academic regalia on May 23, 1921, when she accepted an honorary degree at the University of Pennsylvania on behalf of her mother Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867-1934). Accompanied by her daughters Irène and Eve, Marie Curie had an exhausting schedule of appearances during her 1921 U.S. tour, accepting awards and a gift of radium for her research, arranged by various women’s associations and scientific groups. The photographer, James Stokley, was teaching school in Philadelphia and in 1925 became a science journalist on the Science Service staff.” *

*Description from the Smithsonian Inst.

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