31 de julho de 2011

Foi pior do que se pensava e continua a ser má....

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Houve o nazismo, o stalinismo e as suas variantes, e agora há aquilo que há nos EUA!

[....] The fact is that if you reject science, if you think climate science in particular is some sort of liberal plot, then the last thing you would do is spend money “planning” or “adapting” for climate change.

The anti-science extremists who now run the House, of course, are not merely climate science deniers. They believe slashing all forms of government spending is more important than, say, voting to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States — even during the midst of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

So other than faux pragmatists, the rest of us aren’t surprised in the least that the GOP-led House has been voting to gut climate adaptation efforts across the federal government — including even the most minimal planning efforts. TP Green has a list:

NOAA CLIMATE SERVICE: In the Commerce, Justice, and Science committee report, “It is the Committee’s intention that no funds shall be used to create a Climate Service at NOAA.”
ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CLIMATE READINESS: Language in the Energy and Water appropriation committee report offered by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) prohibits spending on response to climate change in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, with $4.9 million cut from their budget and transferred to the Spending Reduction Account. Approved by a House vote of 218-191.
AGRICULTURE CLIMATE READINESS: A rider in the Agriculture appropriation (Sec. 755) blocks the Agriculture Department (USDA) from carrying out its Policy Statement on Climate Adaptation. The rider by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would prevent the USDA from even assessing what impacts climate change might have on farmers, foresters and other landholders. Approved by a House vote of 238-179.
HOMELAND SECURITY CLIMATE READINESS: A provision in the Homeland Security appropriation (H.R. 2017, Sec. 707) offered by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) prevents the Department of Homeland Security from running its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Approved by a House vote of 242-180.

Yes, that’s right the Army Corp can’t plan for climate change in its projects. And the Department of Agriculture can’t either! Here’s more on that from Greenwire: [....]

América, Oh América

Parece que se gorou, mais uma vez, hoje, domingo, a tentativa de se resolver o problema da elevação do nível permitido da dívida no Senado dos EUA. No texto abaixo Paul Krugman revisita a situação e, nomeadamente, o papel, e responsabilidade, da comunicação social norte-americana em tudo isso. Tirei isto do blogue de Brad DeLong que, a propósito, repete a sua lamentação recorrente: Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Em Portugal o problema do balencear as opiniões não se coloca como nos EUA. Mas não poderá haver a tentação, de modo larvar, sob a capa da objectividade, como solução mais fácil, quando, particularmente, existe controvérsia em áreas onde o "conhecimento" por parte da comunicação social é reduzido ou uma "conditional wisdom" não esteja ainda claramente estabelecida? Tenho de ouvir o programa do Pacheco Pereira.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Paul Krugman:

The Centrist Cop-Out: The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.

Documentário "Inside Job" para quem não viu no cinema


São 8 partes. Esta a primeira e através dela consegue-se chegar às outras, ou pesquisar no YouTube.

Divergências atípicas ou notícias do futuro

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Denegação e paradigmas

Muito interessante, ainda que nada animador. E não é nada animador porque a tese de que dificilmente se arranja uma solução (para as consequências do aquecimento global) no contexto descrito afigura-se-me muito próxima de uma correcta avaliação do que está em jogo. Menos interessante é o que se diz do que poderá ser feito.

[....] I think there is a level above all this.

I believe part of the meta-problem is this: people no longer inhabit a single reality. I mean people collectively and individually: collectively, there is no longer a single cultural arena of dialogue. We have the simulacrum of one, in the form of Question Time and governmental “Big Conversation” initiatives, but in reality we have fragmented off into a thousand little sub-sectors of paradigmatic dissension. Whilst there are all sorts of interesting cultural phenomena that fit this description, this relates most relevantly, in our terms, to the tear-jerking incomprehension of techno-scientists when faced with, for example, climate deniers. [....]

[....] "Anyway, what many techno-scientists fail to understand - and thus find most frustrating - about dealing with the deniers is that the denier has no real interest in engaging at the scientist’s level of reality. The disputed content is not really the issue; if they want, the deniers can always just fabricate an even more complicated and detailed response to the techno-scientist’s latest rebuttal, and the exchange simply becomes an arms race of who can put the most time and energy into producing copy that supports their own paradigm." [....]

30 de julho de 2011

Agências de rating: opiniões do outro lado do Atlântico

A propósito das agências de rating, muito foi dito sobre o posicionamento dos EUA face à crise da dívida soberan europeia, de que não gostei.

Existe, efectivamente, em sectores da direita norte-americana animosidade contra o projecto da construção europeia, nomeadamente da União Económica e Monetária, induzida pelo receio de que a Europa desemboque em algo que venha a por em causa a hegemonia mundial norte-americana. Isso teve afloramentos, visíveis, caricatos, no caso do referendo irlandês, e é verdade, também, que de modo mais mitigado esse receio surja, de modo inesperado em outros sectores  (ver aqui). É óbvio que no contexto da ascenção económica, e necessariamente política (e militar), das economias asiáticas, a leitura mais estrita do interesse dos EUA deveria ir no sentido de querer um aliado o mais forte possível, ainda que a troco de uma sua maior autonomia. Que isso não seja percebido brada aos céus. Mas este nível de idiotice poderia levar à tentativa de prejudicar o Euro, agravando a situação económica europeia, atacando a sua periferia através das agências de rating?It seems a bit farfetched! Mais que não fosse um desastre económico europeu, no quadro actual, teria implicações negativas graves em toda a parte e, em particular, nos EUA.

Agora, que a intervenção das agências de rating norte-americanas não seja de todo inocente e de acordo com os protocolos de actuação que dizem pautam a sua actuação, disso não tenho qualquer dúvida. A dúvida está nos promenores. Do que se trata é de levar a bom porto actuações especulativas, custe a quem custar, e/ou a defesa dos interesses da banca internacional (os credores da Grécia, Portugal, ...) com destaque para a banca norte-americana que tem segurado a tomada de dívida soberana da periferia europeia?

Também não tenho dúvidas que existem apriorismos ideológicos e preconceitos a determinar a discriminação de dados sectores e países em relação a outros.

No entretanto, e é aqui que quero chegar, a situação dos EUA tem evoluído de maneira tão horrenda que as agências de rating, quaisquer que sejam os seus parti-pris, tiveram que começar a esbracejar um pouco quanto a ela, e aí começamos a ouvir a opinião informada norte-americana a pronunciar-se sobre elas, e o que se diz é instrutivo. Vejam (leitura total recomendada): 

Murdoch na América

Yet the sins of the Post are mild when compared with those of the real centerpiece of Murdoch’s American holdings, the Fox News Channel. Since being launched in 1996, Fox has had a profound and toxic effect on the press and politics in this country. With a daily prime-time viewership of around 2 million—more than that of CNN and MSNBC combined—it has become the Republican Party’s most powerful booster. “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox,” David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, has observed. Fox has put several Republican presidential hopefuls on its payroll and allowed other candidates to fund-raise on its shows. After appearing on Sean Hannity’s program, for instance, 2010 senatorial candidate Sharron Angle boasted that that she had raised $40,000 before even leaving the studio.

Fox has helped to foster the Tea Party and amplify its message. In the days prior to the nationwide Tea Party gatherings on April 15, 2009, Fox ran more than 100 promos touting both its coverage and the movement. (“Americans outraged over unfair and crippling taxes,” went one. “They fight for their future. Neil Cavuto [a Fox anchor] is giving them a voice.”) The endless publicity given the Tea Party, in turn, helped make possible the sweeping Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections. According to New York magazine, FOX News president Roger Ailes, disappointed with the Republican presidential field, called New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to urge him to enter the race—one of a number of king-making bids by Ailes, who, the magazine observed, has in a sense become “the head of the Republican Party.” [....]


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Astronomers Bania and Loren Anderson of the Astrophysical Laboratory of Marseille in France have discovered about 450 hidden stellar nurseries in the Milky Way where rare colossal stars many times bigger than the sun are being born. The discovery doubles the number of known sites in the northern reaches of the galaxy where massive stars are born, said Tom Bania of Boston University, who estimats that there could be another 4,000 or so fainter massive-star birth regions awaiting discovery throughout the galaxy.

29 de julho de 2011

Gráfico que vem mesmo a calhar ....

Não tenho a certeza de não ter colocado isto já aqui, mas atendendo ao desenrolar dos acontecimentos não se perde nada em mostrar o gráfico de novo. Deverão ler o texto que o enquadra:

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America, Oh América!, mas também, Europa, Oh Europa...

O paralelo que alguns fazem é com o que se passou na Europa logo antes da primeira Grande Guerra. Em todo o caso nos EUA está em curso, de forma objectiva, uma experiência de política económica nunca antes vista e o facto de ocorrer no contexto mundial em que ocorre só avoluma o carácter interessante de tudo isto - interessante na acepção chinesa de que não deveríamos querer viver em períodos históricos interessantes.

Os artigos e as notas referenciados abaixo devem ser lidos na totalidade:

How did we get into this mess? [....] How can it be that with over 9 percent unemployment, essentially no job growth, widening inequality, falling real wages, and an economy that’s almost dead in the water — we’re locked in a battle over how to cut the budget deficit?

Part of the answer is a Republican Party that’s the most irresponsible and rigidly ideological I’ve ever witnessed. Part of the answer is the continuing gravitational pull of the Great Recession. But another part of the answer lies with the President — and his inability or unwillingness to use the bully pulpit to tell Americans the truth, and mobilize them for what must be done.

Barack Obama is one of the most eloquent and intelligent people ever to grace the White House, which makes his failure to tell the story of our era all the more disappointing and puzzling. Many who were drawn to him in 2008 (including me) were dazzled by the power of his words and insights — his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, his autobiography and subsequent policy book, his talks about race and other divisive issues during the campaign. We were excited by the prospect of a leader who could educate — an “educator in chief” who would use the bully pulpit to explaini what has happened to the United States in recent decades, where we must go, and why. [....]

But instead of explaining this to the American people, he joins the GOP in making a fetish of reducing the budget deficit, and enters into a hair-raising game of chicken with House Republicans over whether the debt ceiling will be raised. Never once does he tell the public why reducing the deficit has become his number one economic priority. Americans can only conclude that the Republicans must be correct — that diminishing the deficit will somehow revive economic growth and restore jobs. [....]

A president can be forgiven for compromising, if his base understands why he is doing so.[....]

Why is Obama not using the bully pulpit? Perhaps [....] A more disturbing explanation is that he simply lacks the courage to tell the truth.[....] Obama cannot mobilize America around the truth, in other words, because he is continuously adapting to the prevailing view. This is not leadership.

28 de julho de 2011

Só a Graciosa?

"Sem um plano de desenvolvimento estratégico, a Graciosa tenderá a ser uma ilha tutelada e sem autonomia.". 

Naturalmente, responder-me-iam à pergunta em epígrafe que esse plano de desenvolvimento estratégico existiu sempre. Obviamente, eu não estou de acordo.

Os algoritmos como força coevolutiva, ou um sinal dos tempos, ou é necessário ter cuidado, ou não se pode ser complacente ...

Kevin Slavin argues that we're living in a world designed for -- and increasingly controlled by -- algorithms. In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. And he warns that we are writing code we can't understand, with implications we can't control.

Isto é sobre intervenções, nomeadamente, a intervenção no Afeganistão, mas a lição a retirar é de dominio de aplicação muito mais lato.

British MP Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan after 9/11, talking with citizens and warlords alike. Now, a decade later, he asks: Why are Western and coalition forces still fighting there? He shares lessons from past military interventions that worked -- Bosnia, for instance -- and shows that humility and local expertise are the keys to success.

A economia e a necessidade política

"There is no politician who will ignore the laws of physics when building a bridge. But there is a tendency in politics in every country to suppose that the laws of economics are flexible and can be adjusted to political necessity. At some point this belief has led to a lack of focus on economic realities in Europe." 

"The art of economic policy making is reconciling the political and the technical or arithmetic imperatives. You cannot move forward in democratic nations without sufficient political support, and all the political support in the world will not repeal the laws of economic arithmetic. But we ask our political leaders not simply to take the preferences of their citizenry as a given, but to help guide those preferences in response to necessity."

Lawrence Summers


Peace In The Light… An Orion Sunset:

NGC 2023 - Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

"Here the stellar winds are carving out a cavity in a vast reflection nebula. It’s an area of Orion that many of us have seen before – but not like the Hubble Space Telescope reveals it. Located right next door to the famous Horsehead Nebula, NGC 2023 can be glimpsed in a telescope as a tiny patch of light that closely resembles its more famous cousin – the Orion Nebula. Spanning approximately four light years across and located some 1500 light-years from Earth, this awesome visage conjures up a peaceful picture of the setting Sun."

27 de julho de 2011

Na escala de Dawkins situo-me ao nível 6

"Jonathan Pararajasingham has pulled together a montage of 50 renowned academics, mostly all scientists, talking about their thoughts on the existence of God. The list includes includes 16 Nobel prize winners, and a bundle of recognizable names, including Richard Feynman, Steven Pinker, Oliver Sacks, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking, and Leonard Susskind."

Não gosto da implicação, mas a ver vamos (ainda que não no meu tempo de vida)

Astrophysicists apply new logic to downplay the probability of extraterrestrial life

David Spiegel of Princeton University and Edwin Turner from the University of Tokyo have published a paper on arXiv that turns the Drake equation on its head. Instead of assuming that life would naturally evolve if conditions were similar to that found here on Earth, the two use Bayesian reasoning to show that just because we evolved in such conditions, doesn’t mean that the same occurrence would necessarily happen elsewhere; using evidence of our own existence doesn’t show anything they argue, other than that we are here.

26 de julho de 2011

Leituras sobre aspectos diferentes da política, ou a ela ligadas de modo mais ou menos directo

Fui colecionando estas referências ao longo de já algum tempo. Algumas era para comentar, mas o tempo foi passando ... . Em todo o caso, penso eu, são todas, por este ou aquele motivo, interessantes e merecedoras de leitura completa, reflectindo sempre algumas das minhas linhas de preocupação:

Interesting to think about this in the context of markets as aggregators of information:

Sharing Information Corrupts Wisdom of Crowds, by Brandon Keim, Wired: ...In a new study of crowd wisdom — the statistical phenomenon by which individual biases cancel each other out, distilling hundreds or thousands of individual guesses into uncannily accurate average answers — researchers told test participants about their peers’ guesses. As a result, their group insight went awry.

“Although groups are initially ‘wise,’ knowledge about estimates of others ... undermines” collective wisdom, wrote researchers led by mathematician Jan Lorenz and sociologist Heiko Rahut of Switzerland’s ETH Zurich... “Even mild social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect.”


The researchers attributed this to three effects. The first they called “social influence”: Opinions became less diverse. The second effect was “range reduction”: In mathematical terms, correct answers became clustered at the group’s edges. Exacerbating it all was the “confidence effect,” in which students became more certain about their guesses. ...

Lorenz and Rahut ... think this problem could be intensified in markets and politics — systems that rely on collective assessment. “Opinion polls and the mass media largely promote information feedback and therefore trigger convergence of how we judge the facts,” they wrote. The wisdom of crowds is valuable, but used improperly it “creates overconfidence in possibly false beliefs.” In the experiment, people are giving honest answers, and they aren't actively trying to move collective opinion one way or another. In the political realm, that's not the case, and the deterioration of collective wisdom could be even worse.

Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen a number of gigantic policies produce disappointing results — policies to reduce poverty, homelessness, dropout rates, single-parenting and drug addiction. Many of these policies failed because they were based on an overly simplistic view of human nature. They assumed that people responded in straightforward ways to incentives. Often, they assumed that money could cure behavior problems.

Fortunately, today we are in the middle of a golden age of behavioral research. Thousands of researchers are studying the way actual behavior differs from the way we assume people behave. They are coming up with more accurate theories of who we are, and scores of real-world applications. Here’s one simple example: [....].

[....] Peço desculpa, mas o problema que Nobre coloca ao PSD não é propriamente esse. O que está em causa é algo de mais estrutural e que tem a ver com a relação dos partidos com os independentes – que, aliás, são cooptados exactamente para darem uma imagem de pluralismo face à linha oficial dos partidos.

O problema não são as contradições de Nobre ou as posições divergentes face ao PSD, o que é lamentável é que os partidos pesquem independentes à linha, interiorizando as críticas que lhes são feitas, enquanto, ao fazerem-no, aproveitam para não enfrentarem nenhum dos problemas estruturais que levam a que, cada vez menos, as pessoas reconheçam os partidos como seus representantes legítimos. 

O problema dos partidos portugueses nunca passou pela capacidade de alargamento, recrutando para as suas listas o independente A ou B, que ganhou notoriedade por uma qualquer razão. Pelo contrário, não só todos os partidos o fazem, como não me parece que tenham dificuldade em encontrar protagonistas disponíveis para representar o papel. Uma ténue réstia de esperança na regeneração da vida partidária depende de outros factores: por um lado, saber se os partidos são ou não capazes de representar e acomodar interesses orgânicos, em lugar de procurar compensar o seu fechamento através de lógicas fulanizadas de envolvimento de independentes; por outro, se conseguem abandonar a volatilidade programática e a definição de políticas feita ad hoc, substituindo-as por processos estáveis, participados e que não violentem a sua relação com os eleitores.

Segurança social e altura

Speaking last night, House Speaker John Boehner offered his view that “You know, I’ve always believed, the bigger government, the smaller the people.” As Jonathan Cohn observes, in fact the tallest people live in the Netherlands where taxes are considerably higher than in the United States. And, indeed, the other countries where average height now exceeds America’s are also high-tax European welfare states. John Komlos and Marieluise Baur have researched this issue and reached the conclusion that Boehner has it precisely backwards and America’s high level of inequality and low level of social services is responsible for our relative decline in stature:
Within the course of the 20th century the American population went through a virtual metamorphosis from being the tallest in the world, to being among the most overweight. The American height advantage over Western and Northern Europeans was between 3 and 9 cm in mid-19th century, and Americans tended to be underweight. However, today, the exact opposite is the case as the Dutch, Swedes, and Norwegians are the tallest, and the Danes, British and Germans — even the East-Germans — are also taller, towering over the Americans by as much as 3–7 cm. Americans also have shorter lives. The hypothesis is worth considering that this adverse development is related to the greater social inequality, an inferior health care system, and fewer social safety nets in the United States than in Western and Northern Europe, in spite of higher per capita income. The Western and Northern European welfare states, with cradle to grave health and unemployment insurance currently seems to provide a more propitious environment for the biological standard of living than its US counterpart.

‪Coisas que não sabemos, mas que dão conteúdo à ideia que temos dos tempos que passam

‪Did You Know?‬‏ - YouTube

via Did You Know? - - - YouTube - amybethhale - RichardDawkins.net

Astronomy Picture of the Day, 2011 July 26 - Galáxia NGC 474

Galaxy NGC 474: Cosmic Blender
Image Credit & Copyright: P.-A. Duc (CEA, CFHT)
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Explanation: What's happening to galaxy NGC 474? The multiple layers of emission appear strangely complex and unexpected given the relatively featureless appearance of the elliptical galaxy in less deep images. The cause of the shells is currently unknown, but possibly tidal tails related to debris left over from absorbing numerous small galaxies in the past billion years. Alternatively the shells may be like ripples in a pond, where the ongoing collision with the spiral galaxy just above NGC 474 is causing density waves to ripple though the galactic giant. Regardless of the actual cause, the above image dramatically highlights the increasing consensus that at least some elliptical galaxies have formed in the recent past, and that the outer halos of most large galaxies are not really smooth but have complexities induced by frequent interactions with -- and accretions of -- smaller nearby galaxies. The halo of our own Milky Way Galaxy is one example of such unexpected complexity. NGC 474 spans about 250,000 light years and lies about 100 million light years distant toward the constellation of the Fish (Pisces)."

25 de julho de 2011

Citação e leitura a comentar no futuro

"Ver o que está à frente do nariz requer uma luta constante" 

George Orwell

Citado por Tony Judt em Um Tratado sobre os nossos Actuais Descontentamentos, Edições 70 - (Gosto mais do título em inglês: Ill fares the Land). Comecei a leitura hoje e estou a gostar (ver aqui uma outra referência minha ao autor). 

Sinais a ter, também, em conta ...

"The worldwide web has made critics of us all. But with commenters able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, the blog and chatroom have become forums for hatred and bile" 

The psychologists call it "deindividuation". It's what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic deindividuation experiment concerned American children at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters were invited to take sweets left in the hall of a house on a table on which there was also a sum of money. When children arrived singly, and not wearing masks, only 8% of them stole any of the money. When they were in larger groups, with their identities concealed by fancy dress, that number rose to 80%. The combination of a faceless crowd and personal anonymity provoked individuals into breaking rules that under "normal" circumstances they would not have considered. 

Deindividuation is what happens when we get behind the wheel of a car and feel moved to scream abuse at the woman in front who is slow in turning right. It is what motivates a responsible father in a football crowd to yell crude sexual hatred at the opposition or the referee. And it's why under the cover of an alias or an avatar on a website or a blog – surrounded by virtual strangers – conventionally restrained individuals might be moved to suggest a comedian should suffer all manner of violent torture because they don't like his jokes, or his face. Digital media allow almost unlimited opportunity for wilful deindividuation. They almost require it. The implications of those liberties, of the ubiquity of anonymity and the language of the crowd, are only beginning to be felt. [...] 


"Last week scientists, engineers and others who work on the Mars Exploration Rover mission paid tribute to the Spirit rover which explored Mars for six years before succumbing to the harsh Martian winter in 2010."

Para alguns já passamos da fase das anomalias ....


Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists in the U.S., lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them.

Sinais a ter, também, em conta ...

[....] Há 40 anos, o cidadão típico do mundo ocidental lia o jornal local. Sabia quem festejava 50 anos de casamento e em que histórias se envolviam políticos e empresários locais. Há 20 anos, o cidadão típico lia o jornal nacional, que cobria essencialmente a elite nacional. Hoje em dia, o cidadão típico obtém notícias ou ‘feeds' do Twitter de diversos sites que cobrem a elite global, de Lady Gaga a Barack Obama.

Esta mudança é conhecida, mas poucos se dão conta de uma importante consequência: os ricos são a notícia. Grande parte das notícias sobre os ricos é produzida por um punhado de fontes em língua inglesa. As agências de notícias publicam uma história, um jornal fica com a cacha ou a BBC.com publica uma manchete, e em poucos segundos a "notícia" é replicada em sites, televisões e jornais impressos de Varsóvia a Waikiki. Demitem-se, assim, de contratar repórteres.

Desta forma, as notícias ficam reduzidas a uma pequena elite global de atletas, artistas, realeza e políticos. Foi o que vi na minha primeira visita à Índia, na semana passada [....]. 

Continuar a ler em: A omnipresença dos ricos | Económico.

24 de julho de 2011


Astronomy Without A Telescope – Bubblology

Multiverse hypotheses suggest that bubble universes should eventually interact and we should be able to determine the existence of the multiverse from such interactions. Credit: cosmology.com

O livro a ler como forma de aprofundar e ampliar o nosso nível de ignorância neste assunto é Many Worlds in One, de Alex Vilenkin, Ed. Hill and Wang, New York, 2006: està à venda na Feira do Livro, em Ponta Delgada.

A estrutura da história era previsível; só nos detalhes pode haver alguma surpresa

If you wondered whether Murdoch’s various news outlets operate in sync when they misrepresent the facts about climate change, consider the deceitful reporting done by Ben Webster , the Environmental Editor for The Times of London. His smears against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were immediately amplified and embellished by Fox News in New York. Both Webster’s story and its Fox News incarnation were used to defame the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and to lend an air of legitimacy to the phony “Climate-gate” scandal that had already been debunked by scientific journals and scientific inquiries .

Today we know that one of the Murdoch employees arrested in Britain, Neil Wallis, was deeply implicated in two hacking scandals, the first pertaining to the News of the World, and the second pertaining to the invasion of computers at the University of East Anglia, the victim of the phony Climate-gate scandal touted by Fox News. So it may be worthwhile to take another look at how deceitful reporting within the Murdoch empire can spread like a virus. Look at the opening paragraphs in The Times of London story: [....]

Estrelas de outra galáxia

Shedding New Starlight On The Andromeda Galaxy

This image shows NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images of a small part of the disc of the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. Hubble’s position above the distorting effect of the atmosphere, combined with the galaxy’s relative proximity, means that the galaxy can be resolved into individual stars, rather than the cloudy white wisps usually seen in observations of galaxies. Credit: NASA, ESA and T.M. Brown (STScI)
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"The idea that the Republicans are for the billionaires and the Democrats are for the common man is quaint but outdated. It's more accurate to say that the Republicans are for Big Oil while the Democrats are for Big Banks."

Isto também é uma anomalia

Thomas Huxley , the British biologist who so vociferously, and effectively, defended Darwin's theory of natural selection in the 19th century, had a basic view of science. "It is simply common sense at its best – rigidly accurate in observation and merciless to fallacy in logic."

It is as neat a description as you can get and well worth remembering when considering how science is treated by the UK media and by the BBC in particular. Last week, a study, written by geneticist Steve Jones, warned that far too often the corporation had failed to appreciate the nature of science and to make a distinction "between well-established fact and opinion". In doing so, the corporation had given free publicity to marginal belief, he said.

Jones was referring to climate change deniers, anti-MMR activists, GM crop opponents and other fringe groups who have benefited from wide coverage despite the paucity of evidence that supports their beliefs. By contrast, scientists, as purveyors of common sense, have found themselves sidelined because producers wanted to create controversy and so skewed discussions to hide researchers' near unanimity of views in these fields. In this way, the British public has been misled into thinking there is a basic division among scientists over global warming or MMR.

Porque é domingo, e tem feito um calor do caraças nos States ....


23 de julho de 2011

Um exemplo do excecionalismo norte-americano

Chart of the Week: Lane Kenworthy on Why the U.S. Desperately Needs Health-Care Reform


Will we manage to avoid a "global disaster"? It's not looking good:

The Lesser Depression, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times:

These are interesting times — and I mean that in the worst way. Right now we’re looking at not one but two looming crises, either of which could produce a global disaster. In the United States, right-wing fanatics in Congress may block a necessary rise in the debt ceiling, potentially wreaking havoc in world financial markets. Meanwhile, if the plan just agreed to by European heads of state fails to calm markets, we could see falling dominoes all across southern Europe — which would also wreak havoc in world financial markets.

We can only hope that the politicians huddled in Washington and Brussels succeed in averting these threats. But here’s the thing: Even if we manage to avoid immediate catastrophe, the deals being struck on both sides of the Atlantic are almost guaranteed to make the broader economic slump worse. ...

The disappearance of unemployment from elite policy discourse and its replacement by deficit panic has been truly remarkable..., the conversations in Washington and Brussels are all about spending cuts (and maybe tax increases, I mean revisions). That’s obviously true about the various proposals being floated to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis here. But it’s equally true in Europe. ...

For those who know their 1930s history, this is all too familiar. If either of the current debt negotiations fails, we could be about to replay 1931, the global banking collapse that made the Great Depression great. But, if the negotiations succeed, we will be set to replay the great mistake of 1937: the premature turn to fiscal contraction that derailed economic recovery and ensured that the Depression would last until World War II finally provided the boost the economy needed.

Did I mention that the European Central Bank — although not, thankfully, the Federal Reserve — seems determined to make things even worse by raising interest rates?

There’s an old quotation, attributed to various people, that always comes to mind when I look at public policy: “You do not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.” Now that lack of wisdom is on full display, as policy elites on both sides of the Atlantic bungle the response to economic trauma, ignoring all the lessons of history. And the Lesser Depression goes on.

Demasiado boa para deixar passar

John Stuart Mill famously wrote to John Pakington: 

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

Retirei isto daqui.

Admira-me é que não haja já muita mais gente a pensar no mesmo - a história dos EUA ensina que os terceiros partidos, nunca tendo conseguido impor-se, serviram sempre, contudo, para endireitar a espinha e a agenda política dos outros partidos

Jeff Sachs wonders why military spending isn't a large part of the budget talks:[....]

I've been wondering the same thing. Military spending has hardly been mentioned in the budget debate.

He's pretty hard on both Republicans and Democrats, e.g.:

The Republicans also misrepresent the costs and benefits of closing the deficit through higher taxes on the rich. Americans wants the rich to pay more, and for good reason. Super-rich Americans have walked away with the prize in America. Our country is run by millionaires and billionaires, and for millionaires and billionaires, the rest of the country be damned. Yet the Republicans and their propaganda mouthpieces like Rupert Murdoch's media empire, claim with sheer audacity that taxing the rich would kill economic growth. This trickle-down, voodoo, supply-side economics is the fig leaf of uncontrolled greed among the right-wing rich.


at every crucial opportunity, Obama has failed to stand up for the poor and middle class. He refused to tax the banks and hedge funds properly on their outlandish profits; he refused to limit in a serious way the bankers' mega-bonuses even when the bonuses were financed by taxpayer bailouts; and he even refused to stand up against extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich last December, though 60 percent of the electorate repeatedly and consistently demanded that the Bush tax cuts at the top should be ended. It's not hard to understand why. Obama and Democratic Party politicians rely on Wall Street and the super-rich for campaign contributions the same way that the Republicans rely on oil and coal. In America today, only the rich have political power.

I've been hoping to help to change the course that Democrats have been on recently, and frustrated at every turn. Jeff Sachs seems to have given up. In his view, a third party is the only answer:

America needs a third-party movement to break the hammerlock of the financial elites. Until that happens, the political class and the media conglomerates will continue to spew lies, American militarism will continue to destabilize a growing swath of the world, and the country will continue its economic decline.

Oslo: quem foi?

"That the horrible terrorist attacks in Oslo on Friday that left some 90 persons or more dead– a bombing of the prime minister’s office and shootings at a Labor Party youth camp– were allegedly committed by a blonde, far right wing Norwegian fundamentalist Christian rather than by a radical Muslim group is being treated as a matter of surprise in some quarters. But if those journalists and analysts had been paying attention, they would not be surprised at all." [continuar a ler em: White Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism in Norway | Informed Comment

Visões sobre a economia portuguesa

O prof. João César das Neves não me é, por um conjunto de razões, uma pessoa simpática, mas é um bom economista, e a entrevista que dá ao Económico (vídeo abaixo: Económico|Entrevista a João César das Neves) merece ser vista e não justifica grandes qualificações: - chamo a atenção para o que se diz sobre desvalorizações, saúde das empresas portuguesas, caracterização dos lóbis portugueses, etc..

No entretanto, vou lendo Portugal na hora da verdade, do actual Ministro da Economia. Estou a terminar a primeira parte, aquela onde descreve a situação da economia portuguesa, dos seus problemas maiores, de modo extensivo e transversal. É uma leitura instrutiva e balanceada, e tem a vantagem de dar uma imagem quantificada e abrangente da nossa situação. É leitura que pode ser feita por qualquer um. Ah, e dá também para nos irritarmos com coisas como o nível do endividamento directo, indirecto e induzido do Estado - a contrario, a grande ausência no livro de Louçã, Portugal Agrilhoado - falarei dele noutra altura - é do tratamento da actuação de todos os agentes públicos e para-públicos ao longo de todos estes anos.

22 de julho de 2011

Enfim, ....

Bruce Bartlett says what you’re not supposed to say: Obama has governed as a moderate conservative, somewhat to the right of Richard Nixon . The frothing-at-the-mouth comments are an extra bonus.
And it is, of course, true; although Obama defenders would say that he had no option. Still, the point is that if you ask what Mitt Romney would probably be doing if he were in the White House and not trying desperately to convince his party that he shares its madness, it would look a lot like what Obama is doing.

There are, however, two crucial points to understand.

First, Obama gets no credit for his moderation, and never will. No matter how far right he moves, Republicans will move further right; and nothing he can do will keep them from denouncing him as a radical socialist.

Second, moderate conservatism isn’t working as a policy matter. As I’ve tried to tell everyone from the beginning of the Lesser Depression, a deeply depressed economy in which monetary policy is up against the zero lower bound turns the normal rules of policy upside down. We’re in a world in which conventional prudence is folly, in which playing it safe is extremely risky. And we have, alas, a conventionally prudent, play-it-safe president — the kind of president who might have done fine in the 1990s, but not now.