The best of Prog rock

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where the dinosaurs still roam - from The Economist

JOSÉ SARNEY first ran for elected office over half a century ago. For the past 40 years he has controlled the fortunes of Maranhão, a state on the eastern fringe of Brazil’s Amazon region. He has represented it as federal deputy (twice), governor, and senator (twice). In 1985 he became the accidental, and undistinguished, president of Brazil when the man chosen for the job died before he could take it up. More recently he has been senator for the nearby and newly-created state of Amapá (twice). Time to retire, one might think.

Mr Sarney may look like a throwback to an era of semi-feudal politics that still prevails in corners of Brazil and holds the rest of it back. But with the tacit support of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the country’s left-of-centre president, he was this week chosen to preside over the Senate. It is the third time in his career that he has held this powerful job, which confers a degree of control over the government’s agenda and opportunities for patronage.

And so it will buttress Mr Sarney’s grip over Maranhão just when some locals hoped that this was beginning to crack. The centre of São Luís, the state capital, is decrepit. Some historic buildings are well cared for, such as the gleaming white Church of Our Lady of the Exile. But most are slowly crumbling in the hot, wet weather. The streets are pitted with potholes. An extraordinarily large number of people hang around in the hope of getting a tip in return for showing drivers where to park. In a city of 1m people, there were 38 murders last month alone.

But it is outside São Luís where Maranhão’s backwardness is most evident. In Sangue, a town in the interior, many people live in single-room houses, roofed with palm fronds, that lack both running water and electricity. Public transport is scarce. There is nothing much to buy or sell beyond bucketloads of bacuri, an Amazonian fruit. Educational achievement across the state is poor. Its infant mortality rate of 39 per thousand live births is 60% higher than the Brazilian average.
Dominance by a single man or family was not uncommon in Brazil’s north-east. But it is fading away. The Sarney clan is becoming unusual. Mr Sarney’s daughter, Roseana, has been Maranhão’s governor and currently represents it in the Senate. His son was a minister in Brazil’s previous government. Other relatives are scattered in positions of authority in Maranhão’s courts and the civil service. One of his lieutenants, Edison Lobão, is Lula’s minister for mines and energy. When he took the job, Mr Lobão’s seat in the national Senate went to his son; his wife sits in the lower house. All three of Maranhão’s senators answer to Mr Sarney, as do his fellow senators from Amapá.

This control is aided by the Sarney family’s ownership of Maranhão’s biggest media company. Its television station transmits the programmes of Globo, which produces Brazil’s most popular soap operas. These are interspersed with glowing news reports about the owner’s family. Controlling television and radio stations is particularly useful in rural Maranhão, where a majority of the electorate is illiterate and where the Sarneys now draw most of their support. “We are ruled by an electronic oligarchy,” laments Zé Reinaldo, a former state governor.

Even so, the family’s power may finally be waning. In 2006 Roseana Sarney lost the gubernatorial election to Jackson Lago. But Mr Lago and his deputy are currently being investigated for electoral crimes. If they are impeached, Ms Sarney will take over as governor once again. In last year’s municipal elections, Sarney candidates suffered some setbacks. “Sarney always says that Maranhão must vote for him so he can bring federal money from Brasília,” says Arleth Santos Borges of the Federal University of Maranhão. “In fact he needs power in Brasília to shore up power here.” That is what the Senate presidency brings him.

Meanwhile Maranhão continues in its sad way. “For fifteen years I have heard Sarney say he will bring development and tourism to Maranhão, but we still have one road in and one road out of this city,” says Hélio, a waiter in São Luís. “And they are both a mess.”

The Economist - Feb 5th 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Twilight is a vampire-romance novel written by Stephenie Meyer. It was originally published in 2005. It is the first book of the Twilight series, and introduces seventeen-year-old Isabella "Bella" Swan who moves from Phoenix, Arizona, to Forks, Washington, and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen.
Isabella "Bella" Swan moves from sunny Phoenix to rainy Forks to live with her father, Charlie, while HER mother, Renée, travels with HER new husband, Phil Dwyer, a baseball player. Bella attracts much attention at her new school and is quickly befriended by several students. Much to her dismay, several boys compete for shy Bella's attention.
When Bella is seated next to Edward Cullen in class on her first day of school, Edward seems utterly repulsed by her. However, over the next few days Edward warms up to her, and their relationship reaches a climax when Bella is nearly run over by a fellow classmate's van in the school parking lot. Seemingly defying the laws of physics, Edward saves her life when he instantaneously appears next to her and stops the van with his bare hands.
Over time, Edward and Bella fall in love. Their relationship becomes a chaos when another vampire arrives in Forks. James, a tracker vampire who is intrigued by the Cullens' relationship with a human, wants to hunt Bella for sport. The Cullens attempt to distract the tracker by splitting up Bella and Edward, and Bella is sent to hide in a hotel in Phoenix. There, Bella receives a phone call from James, who claims he is holding her mother captive. When Bella surrenders herself, James attacks her, but Edward, along with the other Cullens, rescues Bella and kills James. Once they realize that James has bitten Bella's hand, Edward sucks the venom from her system before it can spread and transform her into a vampire, and she is then sent to a hospital. When Bella and Edward return to Forks, they attend their school prom and Bella expresses her desire to become a vampire, which Edward refuses.
The novel is followed by New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn and Midnight Sun.

From – Adapted by Milton França

1. Choose the only question that the text does not answer:
a) Who fell in love with Bella?
b) Who are Bella´s parents?
c) What is Bella´s stepfather´s occupation?
d) Is Phil Dwyer a young person?
e) Where was Bella almost run over?

2. According to the text:
a) Phoenix and Forks are not similar cities in meteorological aspects.
b) Isabella´s parents still live together.
c) The Cullens are Isabella´s relatives.
d) The Cullens were the people who killed James.
e) Isabella was not a timid person.

3. Who wrote the Twilight series?
a) Stephenie Meyer does.
b) Stephenie Meyer was.
c) Stephenie Meyer did.
d) Stephenie Meyer is.
e) Stephenie Meyer does wrote.

4. Twilight was written :
a) more than ten years ago.
b) a few years ago.
c) exactly three years ago.
d) after New Moon.
e) together with Eclipse.

5. “Breaking Down” is ______________ book of the series.
a) the first
b) the second
c) the third
d) the fourth
e) the last

6. In “… a tracker vampire who is intrigued by the Cullens' relationship with a human, wants to hunt Bella for sport”, the relative pronoun who can be replaced by:
a) which
b) whom
c) that
d) whose
e) what

7. The possessive her which is (twice) in CAPITAL LETTERS refers to
a) the same person: Bella.
b) the same person: Renée.
c) Bella and her father.
d) Bella and her stepfather.
e) Bella and her mother.

8. A novel is:
a) a television series about the imaginary lives of a group of people.
b) a film with too much violence.
c) a written story about imaginary or partly imaginary characters and events.
d) a movie that is intended to frighten people, especially one about murders.
e) a very funny television program which is shown weekly.

9. “However” is the same as:
a) therefore
b) nevertheless
c) so
d) although
e) whether

10. “To realize” is an example of false cognate. _______ is a false cognate, as well.
a) To transform
b) To repulse
c) To return
d) To attend
e) To express
By Milton França/2009

Monday, April 20, 2009


Sylvan is a great progressive rock band from Germany. Officially, the band began playing in 1998 as Sylvan but they have been together since 1990 playing hard rock at that time. In fact, the music of the band is progressive rock with some hard rock moments, and some melodic pop-rock elements, probably lingering from earlier in their career. Other apparent influences include psychedelic rock, a little Pink Floyd, Genesis and (a more recent influence) Dream Theater.

Take a look at these:

These are really great songs. It´s a pity that many people don´t know them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


In the English language there are lots of pairs of words with the same pronunciation.
For instance, the words AIR and HEIR have different meanings but they sound the same. Words like these are called HOMOPHONES. Here is a list of them:

air – ar / heir – herdeiro
ant – formiga / aunt – tia
beat – bater / beet - beterraba
berry – bago, fruto / bury – enterrar
brake – freio / break – quebrar
by – por (preposição) / buy – comprar
cell – cela, célula / sell – vender
cheap – barato / cheep – pio (de passarinho), piar
die – morrer / dye – tingir, tintura
fair – feira, justo / fare – passagem (de ônibus, etc)
flea – pulga / flee – fugir
flour – farinha / flower – flor
hear – ouvir / here – aqui
hair – cabelo / hare – lebre
higher – mais alto / hire – alugar, empregar
hole – buraco / whole – inteiro
hour – hora / our – nosso (a)
knot – nó / not – não
knows – sabe, conhece / nose – nariz
dear – querido(a) / deer – cervo, veado
male – macho, masculino / mail – correspondência
meat – carne / meet – conhecer, encontrar
pair – par / pear – pera
peace – paz / piece – pedaço
peal – estrondo, repique / peel – casca, descascar
praise – elogio / prays – ora, reza
pray – orar, rezar / prey – presa, rapina
rain – chuva / rein – rédea
read – passado e part. passado de to read / red – vermelho
right – certo / write – escrever
road – estrada / rode – passado de to ride
role – papel (que se desempenha) / roll – giro, rotação
root – raiz / route – rota
sail – navegar / sale – liquidação, venda
sea – mar / see – ver
scene – cena /seen – particípio passado de to see
seam – costura, junta, sutura / seem – parecer
sew – costurar / sow – semear
sighs – suspira / size – tamanho
sight – visão / site – sítio, página na internet
son – filho / sun – sol
stair – degrau / stare – olhar fixamente
stake – estaca / steak – bife
steal – roubar / steel – aço
tail – cauda, rabo / tale – conto
to - para / too – também / two – dois
waist – cintura / waste – desperdício, perda
wait – esperar / weight – peso
way – caminho, modo / weigh – pesar
wood – madeira / would – verbo auxiliar