Notes on a web journey

posted on: 14 September 2009

Teresa Margolles at the Biennale

filed under: @ 10:35:32

Once a day, a young man mops the floor of a dilapidated palazzo in Venice. With his head down and his two hands gripping a long handle, he pushes a damp lump of soiled rags from room to room. The rags have been soaked in the blood and filth of crime scenes in Mexico, dried, transported to Italy, and are then plunged into buckets of water and sloshed back and forth in half-moon patterns across the floor.

Death in Venice

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posted on: 19 July 2009

The polaroid kidd

filed under: @ 11:56:04

The Polaroid Kidd

MIKE BRODIE IS A 22-YEAR OLD SELF-TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER, who lives his life riding the rails and photographing the sub-culture of people he knows or comes in contact with. He's been doing this since 2003, and calls himself “The Polaroid Kidd”. Brodie is at home with his tribe of train hopping wanderers.

Itinerant photographer Mike Brodie

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posted on: 19 July 2009

Hunger and malaria infographics

filed under: @ 11:47:05

Hunger and malaria infographics

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posted on: 13 July 2009

Desire paths

filed under: @ 21:40:33

This article is an edifice, a mockery of the freedom needed to create it. It is rigid, it is linear. Its sentences end only to lead onwards to the next, pulling the reader's eye through a series of limited, and limiting pathways. And yet, reading does not have to be this way. In the process of writing this article little time was spent laying out the path of words you now follow to their conclusion. The process of writing is non-linear, perhaps more like a network of ideas spanning out from nodes of texts, cultural accumulations and historical anecdotes. Why can't reading be more like writing? Why can't the eye of the reader tend its own route through the web of the article?

Desire Paths: Reading, Memory and Inscription

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posted on: 17 June 2009

The poor and the poorer

filed under: @ 09:00:02

Boutouli village girl - Central Africa

The overwhelming burden of displacement is borne by developing countries - said Guterres - eighty percent of refugees are in the developing world. Generosity and wealth are not proportional to each other.

UNHCR annual report

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posted on: 13 June 2009

Children and war

filed under: @ 18:17:03

Pakistani girl

According to Pakistani authorities and the UN, at least 3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have now been registered as a result from recent fighting and on-going military operations against the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat, Buner, and Lower Dir districts. Refugee families are often made up of only women and children, the older men staying behind to care for their homes and crops. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes issued a desperate appeal for hundreds of millions of dollars to help those who have fled the war, warning that the U.N. can only sustain its current aid efforts for one month. Photographers in the area have captured many powerful images of those affected, some of the most striking focused on children.

Children in Pakistan

Children always pay the price and will never forget what they see and hear around them. The ones that survive will become adults scarred by those memories.

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posted on: 11 June 2009

Pictures of St Louis

filed under: @ 19:55:32

dArt St Louis

In April, one hundred St Louisians stepped up to the line and threw their dart at the giant map of St Louis City. They then had a month to visit the block where their dart landed and make a photograph. Now the results are in.

dArt St Louis The Gallery

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posted on: 15 April 2009

Banksy

filed under: @ 10:32:03

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.
Then I realised God doesn't work that way,
so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness.

BANKSY

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posted on: 03 April 2009

Biodiversity and extinctions

filed under: @ 13:12:52

Frogs and bees

The current extinction rate is now approaching 1,000 times the background rate and may climb to 10,000 times the background rate during the next century, if present trends continue. At this rate, one-third to two-thirds of all species of plants, animals, and other organisms would be lost during the second half of the next century, a loss that would easily equal those of past extinctions.

Everything is linked up in nature and we will go extinct as any other animal species if we don't learn to understand that again, we used to know it...

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posted on: 03 April 2009

Less for more

filed under: @ 10:01:22

Gapingvoid card

This Gapingvoid card comes with a post by the author, I don't necessarily agree with all he writes there but I like his cards because they sharply pinpoint facets of the human nature that tend to be kept hidden behind a curtain of stereotyped images of self. He's good at cutting off all the noise and get to the core.

What I think when I read this card is that that same emptiness could be filled with something real if only each one of us would take the time to think and use common sense, taking responsibility for all our actions and choices. Don't do something just because it makes you money, that will bring the old “The end justifies the means” into action and in the 21st century is time to change all that.

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posted on: 26 March 2009

Abandoned man made creations

filed under: @ 19:03:52

Balaklava abandoned submarine base

Welcome to the Artificial Owl, a site dedicated to provide on a daily basis a selection of the most fascinating abandoned man-made creations.

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posted on: 20 March 2009

Renaissance kitchen

filed under: @ 09:40:41

Bartolomeo Scappi cook book - 1570

Bartolomeo Scappi (?1500 - ??1577) was perhaps the most famous chef of the 16th century. The banquets he prepared during appointments with Cardinals in the north of Italy brought Scappi to the attention of the Pope. He would cook for six Popes in total and was employed as private chef to two of them. Lasting fame accompanied the publication in 1570 of the 6-book series known as “Opera” [The Work(s)]. It was more a culinary treatise than a mere cookbook. Scappi included more than a thousand recipes, demonstrating his familiarity with dishes from a range of European and North African countries as well as his expertise with regional Italian cooking.

Renaissance kitchen

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posted on: 16 March 2009

The Festival of Colors

filed under: @ 08:39:21

Holi - the Hindu Festival of Colors

Last Wednesday (March 11th), people in India and other countries with large Hindu populations celebrated Holi, the Festival of Colors. Holi is celebrated as a welcoming of Spring, and a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. What that translates to in action is an enthusiastic dropping of inhibitions, as people chase each other and playfully splash colorful paint, powder and water on each other.

Holi - the Festival of Colors

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posted on: 15 March 2009

Panoramic photograph collection

filed under: @ 20:07:41

San Francisco panoramic view - 1914

The Panoramic Photograph Collection (1851-1991) contains approximately four thousand images featuring American cityscapes, landscapes, and group portraits. These panoramas offer an overview of the nation, its enterprises and its interests, with a focus on the start of the twentieth century when the panoramic photo format was at the height of its popularity.

Panoramic Photographs 1851 - 1991

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posted on: 27 February 2009

Human rights world report 2009

filed under: @ 19:47:03

Sixty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the governments demonstrating the clearest vision on international rights protections, sadly, are those seeking to undermine enforcement. In their foreign policies and in international fora, they invoke sovereignty, non-interference, and Southern solidarity to curb criticism of their human rights abuses and those of their allies and friends. Governments that champion human rights need urgently to wrest back the initiative from these human rights spoilers.

Human rights world report 2009

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posted on: 20 February 2009

Electronic waste

filed under: @ 19:38:44

Greenpeace has been investigating the immoral and illegal e-waste dumping in developing countries since 2002. After China, India, Pakistan and Ghana, this is the story of how one very broken TV managed to avoid being tested and recycled according to EU regulations and instead ended up in Nigeria as second hand goods.

Following the e-waste trail

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posted on: 10 February 2009

Lying

filed under: @ 11:09:23

I wanted to think about this topic because it seemed to me to have a number of features not shared by other moral concepts such as murder, cruelty, theft, or promise-breaking. First,while almost all of us would refrain from these acts, most of us lie on a daily basis. Second, if any of us were to act cruelly when this was pointed out to us we would either deny that was an appropriate description of our action or admit we were cruel and, at least, feel guilt or remorse. Whereas many of us are prepared to defend our lies - indeed, to glory in them sometimes. Third, there seem to be contexts in which not only does the fact that something is a lie not count in any way against what we are doing, but seems to count in favor - poker, spying, lying contests, getting someone to a surprise party, lying to the murderer at the door about where his victim is hiding.

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posted on: 10 February 2009

Darwin the abolitionist

filed under: @ 11:05:06

Shackled legs, thumbscrews used to crush the fingers of errant female slaves, a six-year-old boy horse-whipped for handing out water in a dirty glass: these sound like scenes from a modern horror story, but all were seen by the young Charles Darwin on his travels with the Beagle around the slave-owning continent of South America. You will find no mention of them in the proudly reasoned, scientific pages of On the Origin of Species. Glance at Darwin's journals, private notebooks and family background, however, and you will find a man immersed in the rhetoric and fervent belief of the anti-slavery movement.

Darwin the abolitionist

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posted on: 04 February 2009

Politicians camp training

filed under: @ 10:21:03

An estimated 2.7 million people are scattered in camps across western Sudan, dependent on an international community that has no clear idea what to do with them, no sure way of protecting them and has repeatedly failed to find a solution. Although the violence in Darfur has fallen significantly since its peak five years ago, both its victims and those who help them remain trapped in a cycle of fear, despair and powerlessness.

No way out for nearly 3 million

I have an idea. We, people of all nations, should demand that anyone that wants to begin a career in politics should first work in a refugee camp for two years at the lowest possible level, cleaning waste and dressing wounds. After that, they would, hopefully, be fit to begin making decisions involving other people lives.

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posted on: 20 December 2008

Modern slavery

filed under: @ 11:44:18

Although slavery has existed for thousands of years, changes in the world's economy and societies over the past 50 years have enabled a resurgence of slavery.

A map of modern slavery in the world

Free the Slaves

Again, as long as the indifference persists, differences will always just become bigger. A real overhaul of the economic system is needed because now it could be turned into something much better then it's ever been. The resources, both intellectual and physical, are there, the knowledge too. What are we waiting for?..

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posted on: 16 December 2008

Scribbling Online News

filed under: @ 19:58:05

A typographic news explorer by Brendan Dawes. DoodleBuzz is a new way to read the news through an experimental interface that allows you to create typographic maps of current news stories.

A news doodle

DoodleBuzz via infosthetics

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posted on: 09 December 2008

Arms sales

filed under: @ 09:50:07

Since the early 1990s there has been efforts to review and develop arms-transfer principles and codes of conduct to ensure that arms are not sold to human rights violators...However, while this sounds positive, the world's major arms dealers have continued to sell arms to human rights violators, as mentioned in earlier parts of this site's Arms Trade section. There are a number of reasons as to why these codes have not been as effective as hoped.

A Code of Conduct for Arms Sales

A very exhaustive article with many links to external material. However, I still think that the solution resides in asking ourselves why we still need to make arms at all in the year 2008 (almost 2009). The answer is: we don't ! Are we so primitive as not to be able to change something that has been goig on for 10.000 years without any positive results anymore? We don't really need to find food hunting and we definitely don't need to go taking other tribes' women by raiding villages...do we?

All states have a right to self-defense..right, but what if there is no need for self-defense? What if we stopped making bullets? What if we simply rendered obsolete any kind of aggressive approach? Is it naive? No, it's just a matter of making it happen or not, as simple as that.

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posted on: 05 September 2008

Global health overview

filed under: @ 13:10:02

Why has it got to such a level when the world has enough wealth to help address most of these problems, or at least alleviate more of the suffering?

Global Health Overview

Apart from all considerations of political and economical factors, I always think that indifference is behind most of the problems. If we were many more asking ourselves that question, it would be relatively easy to see and correct causes instead of always just patch the effects.

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posted on: 31 August 2008

John Lennon interview

filed under: @ 10:01:03

On infosthetics:

John Lennon interview infographic movie

Very interesting.

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posted on: 10 July 2008

Democracy

filed under: @ 19:16:03

Democracy (“rule by the people” when translated from its Greek meaning) is seen as one of the ultimate ideals that modern civilizations strive to create, or preserve. Democracy as a system of governance is supposed to allow extensive representation and inclusiveness of as many people and views as possible to feed into the functioning of a fair and just society. Democratic principles run in line with the ideals of universal freedoms such as the right to free speech. Importantly, democracy supposedly serves to check unaccountable power and manipulation by the few at the expense of the many, because fundamentally democracy is seen as a form of governance by the people, for the people.

Democracy

An extensive analysis by Anup Shah. What I think is that too often manipulation takes over and the basic idea of democracy gets altered by the politicians in power at that moment to ensure specific economic gains. The problem, though, is that most people don't want to use common sense and prefer to follow and blindly believe what they are told, letting the few free to decide for the many.

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posted on: 22 April 2008

Annual death penalty statistics

filed under: @ 10:27:53

At least 1,200 people were executed in 2007 and many more were killed by the state, in secret, in countries including China, Mongolia and Viet Nam. The figures come from Amnesty International's yearly statistics, Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, issued on Tuesday, which say that at least 1,252 people were executed in 24 countries and at least 3,347 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries. Up to 27,500 people are estimated to be on death row across the world.

Secrecy surrounds death penalty

Death penalty, violence against women, arms dealing...all of it should and COULD be stopped...if the indifference would stop as well.

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posted on: 21 April 2008

Not so hidden hands

filed under: @ 08:40:18

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world. Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found...Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration's war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand

What leaves me speechless is that these things need to be “discovered” by the New York Times. I cannot believe that most of people are so uninformed that need to be told what's going on...or maybe that is the chilling truth because I see it happening over and over again, people getting manipulated blatantly actually buying it and supporting the manipulators (see Italy's elections results as the latest example).

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posted on: 19 April 2008

New hunger, old issues

filed under: @ 09:19:02

Last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16%. These were some of the sharpest rises in food prices ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated. Since January, rice prices have soared 141%; the price of one variety of wheat shot up 25% in a day... The prices mainly reflect changes in demand - not problems of supply, such as harvest failure. The changes include the gentle upward pressure from people in China and India eating more grain and meat as they grow rich and the sudden, voracious appetites of western biofuels programmes, which convert cereals into fuel. This year the share of the maize (corn) crop going into ethanol in America has risen and the European Union is implementing its own biofuels targets. To make matters worse, more febrile behaviour seems to be influencing markets: export quotas by large grain producers, rumours of panic-buying by grain importers, money from hedge funds looking for new markets.

I'm not an economist so my vision of the problem may be simplistic but it seems to me as if all these programs that should help the poorest are just attempts to patch up the effects of economic imbalance between “developed” countries and the rest of the world. These programs don't address the causes and don't try to really change the situation but just to keep it going and as invisible as possible. Food prices raise in response to speculations, rumors...people die of starvation because someone in an air-conditioned office says “maybe we will buy more wheat next year”..and the solution to something so absurd is to tell the farmer that they have to produce more wheat using more fertilizers...these are not solutions, these are the usual suspects making tons of money on rumors like it happens with the oil (forecast a cold winter or a hot summer and oil prices raise). Rumors, forecasts, projections, predictions, previsions...why we let them do this all the time?

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posted on: 05 April 2008

Marriage

filed under: @ 20:47:16

The idea that marriage is under attack and needs defending is a central tenet of the so-called “culture wars”. The meaning and importance of marriage is central not only to efforts to ban same-sex marriage, but to pro-life politics, father's rights advocacy, abstinence-only sex education, the “mommy wars”, and pretty much the entirety of contemporary conservative politics. The (wholly imaginary) good old days that conservatives want to conserve is essentially a time when (straight, lifelong, twin-bedded) marriage was the fount of all that is good in society. And everything that is bad about today's society - teen pregnancy, street violence, welfare dependency, the spread of STDs, sexual predators roaming the Internet, even terrorism, is traced by said conservatives, directly or indirectly, to the decline and degradation of the institution of marriage. Now, to anthropologists, the way marriage is discussed and deployed in these debates is laughable. We know that marriage as conceptualized by the American religious right at the dawn of the 21st century is neither the only - or even a particularly common - form of marriage in the world, nor the way marriage has always been in our own society. The Biblical marriage that religious conservatives hold up as their example and guiding principle would be (and is) almost universally condemned by today's Christians.

The End of Marriage

Found through this more recent post.

I like to read articles written using common sense and perspective instead of just taking a moral stance and then finding justifications for it.

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posted on: 05 April 2008

Licit and illicit

filed under: @ 09:40:41

The illicit drugs trade (also referred to as the illegal drugs trade or drug trafficking) is one of the largest global businesses, at some $322 billion, according to the UN World Drug Report, 2007.

Illicit Drugs

I think decriminalization is the only way. It would eliminate the profits of organized crime (with all the other dealings that come with it) and it would cut the micro criminality rate down quite a lot.

The idea that if drugs are decriminalized automatically everyone becomes a drug addict is just nonsense and I don't understand where the people thinking like that have been living until now. As far as I know the youngs usually know exactly what does what. If you were a teenager in the eighties, like I was, you should have seen it all already, as I did.

Beside, believing that people are not able to take care of themselves is an insult to everyone intelligence, if we are able to choose how to regulate the use of alcohol, for example, since it is legal, why shouldn't we be able to do the same with other kinds of drugs? Sometimes I wonder: are the people advocating prohibition doing it because they somehow really believe in it or because there are to many interests at stake? Both drug trafficking and war on drugs are worth billion of dollars and are tight with arms dealing...sometimes the line between licit and illicit becomes strangely blurred...

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posted on: 24 March 2008

Poverty facts and stats

filed under: @ 15:48:02

Half the world - nearly three billion people - live on less than two dollars a day. More than 80 percent of the world's population lives in countries where income differentials are widening. The poorest 40 percent of the world's population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.

Poverty Facts and Stats

As long s the indifference is as big as the difference there is little hope for a fairer world. I believe it could be much better then it is now, if the awareness of people, especially in the developed Countries, could raise to the challenge.

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posted on: 15 March 2008

Maimed by the Mob

filed under: @ 13:52:04

No one will win next month's elections in Italy, especially not the nation's citizens. For all the campaign rhetoric about change and reform, everyone seems dead set on ignoring the country's fundamental problem: organized crime, or what we might call our criminal economy. Talk of this corruption crisis never goes beyond expressions of solidarity with the victims, praise for the valiant police, and generic appeals to morality. All of which leads nowhere. Last year, a report by the Italian business association Confesercenti estimated that the Mob in Italy generated more than $125 billion of annual revenue, a figure equal to 7% of the country's gross domestic product. That's more than double the annual income of Italy's entire agricultural sector.

Maimed by the Mob an article by Roberto Saviano

What leaves me speechless (I'm Italian) is that many people in Italy know all of that but the same politicians keep getting elected and then come up with unbelievable laws that help the organized crime to make more money and stay in control. To anyone that uses his own brain for a fraction of a second all that should be clear; evidently in Italy we are not able to think.

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posted on: 11 March 2008

Getting the World Healthier

filed under: @ 18:51:02

..the 30 rich countries that compose the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) account for 90% of the planet's health spending, even though they comprise only 20% of the world population. The rich countries on average spend USD 3170 per capita on medical care, while poor countries spend USD 36 a year. Considering the abysmal health status of the poor (both inside and outside of the rich countries), one might expect in a fair world that expenditures might be reversed, with the lion's share going to those in more dire medical need... The WHO estimates that wealthy countries would have to double their current foreign aid contributions to poor countries. This would mean distributing USD 120 billion annually to support basic health care for the poor worldwide. This is not a lot of money. There are so many comparisons I could offer, but consider just one. The United States is now spending USD 12.5 billion a month on the Iraq war. Ten months of the US Iraq war bill would pay for the whole world annual cost. In real terms, our share would surely be no more than our proportion of 22% of the total funding of the United Nations...

Mosquito Nets, Malaria, and Getting the World Healthy

There are so many things that should and could be done better. Articles like this are very important to raise people awareness to a real possibility of change in the world. I think we are still acting in a very ancient way and it's time to evolve!

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posted on: 17 February 2008

The Moral Instinct

filed under: @ 10:07:23

..People don't generally engage in moral reasoning, Haidt argues, but moral rationalization: they begin with the conclusion, coughed up by an unconscious emotion, and then work backward to a plausible justification...

..Any neutral observer, and you and I if we could talk it over rationally, would have to conclude that the state we should aim for is the one in which we both are unselfish. These spreadsheet projections are not quirks of brain wiring, nor are they dictated by a supernatural power; they are in the nature of things...

The Moral Instinct

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posted on: 01 February 2008

Human rights world report

filed under: @ 19:13:04

Rarely has democracy been so acclaimed yet so breached, so promoted yet so disrespected, so important yet so disappointing. Today, democracy has become the sine qua non of legitimacy. Few governments want to be seen as undemocratic. Yet the credentials of the claimants have not kept pace with democracy's growing popularity. These days, even overt dictators aspire to the status conferred by the democracy label. Determined not to let mere facts stand in the way, these rulers have mastered the art of democratic rhetoric that bears little relationship to their practice of governing.

Human Rights Watch: world report 2008

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posted on: 05 December 2007

The responsibility of intellectuals

filed under: @ 19:33:06

I'm always uneasy about the concept of “speaking truth”, as if we somehow know the truth and only have to enlighten others who have not risen to our elevated level. The search for truth is a cooperative, unending endeavour. We can, and should, engage in it to the extent we can and encourage others to do so as well, seeking to free ourselves from constraints imposed by coercive institutions, dogma, irrationality, excessive conformity and lack of initiative and imagination, and numerous other obstacles.

NOAM CHOMSKY - THE RESPONSIBILITY OF INTELLECTUALS

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posted on: 27 September 2007

Great interviews

filed under: @ 10:06:02

The Guardian and Observer's unique series of the best interviews of the last century. For two weeks, each day's paper came with a free booklet containing some of the most famous encounters in journalism history, from David Frost's conversations about Watergate with Richard Nixon to Marilyn Monroe's last interview, Princess Diana's confessions to Martin Bashir and Bill Grundy's disastrous grilling of the Sex Pistols on live television.

Great interviews of the 20th century

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posted on: 19 September 2007

Moral rules

filed under: @ 09:53:31

Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say. From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being advocated by some biologists, that of evolution. At first glance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest may seem to reward only the most selfish values. But for animals that live in groups, selfishness must be strictly curbed or there will be no advantage to social living. Could the behaviors evolved by social animals to make societies work be the foundation from which human morality evolved?

Is “Do Unto Others” Written Into Our Genes?

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posted on: 08 September 2007

V-Day and International Literacy Day

filed under: @ 19:25:03

Today is the V-Day in Italy:

V-Day in Italian

Clean Parliament in Italy: I'm looking forward to see how many people participated and what the reactions will be.

It's also the International Literacy Day:

An estimated 774 million adults, two-thirds of them women, live without basic literacy skills. More than 72 million children are out of school and many more attend irregularly. Moreover, many newly literate people are unable to sustain their skills in the absence of appropriate reading material.

International Literacy Day 2007

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posted on: 28 August 2007

Opium and prisons

filed under: @ 08:43:51

Favourable weather, Taliban insurgents and corrupt government officials all contributed to this year's record poppy haul, which has edged Afghanistan perilously close to becoming a full narco-state. The opium trade involves 3.3 million of Afghanistan's 23 million population, according to the UNODC, and accounts for more than half of its estimated $7.5bn (£3.7bn) gross domestic product.

UN horrified by surge in opium trade in Helmand

Politicians in all parties routinely assume that voters think prison works. But 51% of those questioned want the government to find other ways to punish criminals and deter crime.

More prisons are not the answer

Two examples of the same wrong approach: instead of fixing the causes patching up the effects. Prison is not good, never redeemed anyone. Opium trade exists because there are arms to be bought with the profits and wars to be fought because of messy economics and politics.

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posted on: 30 July 2007

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies

filed under: @ 10:27:04

British doctors are to rebel against high prices set by pharmaceutical companies for their products by giving patients a cheap but unlicensed drug that prevents blindness, the Guardian has learned.

NHS doctors challenge high drugs prices

That's what all doctors everywhere should do, in my opinion. They are the only ones able to really force the pharmaceutical companies to change the way they operate.

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posted on: 26 July 2007

America

filed under: @ 08:57:12

Americans need to educate themselves, from elementary school onward, about what their country has done abroad. And they need to play a more active role in ensuring that what the United States does abroad is not merely in keeping with a foreign policy elite's sense of realpolitik but also with the American public's own sense of American values. Because at their core, those values are sound. That is why, even in places where you'll find virulent anti-Americanism, you'll also find enormous affection for things American.

Why Do They Hate Us?

I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq. She wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn't really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor. The thing that stood out about her, though, wasn't her strange uniform but the fact that nearly half her face was severely scarred. Or, rather, it had more or less melted, along with all the hair on that side of her head. She was always alone, and I never saw her talk to anyone. Members of my platoon had seen her before but had never really acknowledged her. Then, on one especially crowded day in the chow hall, she sat down next to us.

Shock Troops

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posted on: 11 April 2007

Faces

filed under: @ 19:14:21

A photoblog by Ryan Keberly:

The Snowsuit Effort

Faces of Metropolitan Detroit.

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posted on: 05 April 2007

Pharmaceutical consumer advertising

filed under: @ 09:03:21

Like the rest of the advertising industry, pharmaceutical companies look at their nails innocently when you suggest that adverts might affect behaviour, even though they know - that we know - that they'd only spend money on it if it worked. In fact, specific campaigns have been shown to affect prescribing practice, because modern doctors listen to their patients' demands, and pharmaceutical consumer advertising is growing twice as fast as advertising direct to doctors, for one simple reason: history has shown that you are stupid and easily led, although your education in bad science may stand you in good stead.

We've got the pills, so you must have a problem

Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for many, many deaths. Research done in Africa, using people as guinea pigs, drugs sold at very high prices, always looking to gain as much money as possible instead of keeping the health of people as their main target. Last example, the avian flu vaccine: Governments around the world bought it and it does not work. To make money on people health it's as bad , if not worse, then selling arms.

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posted on: 30 March 2007

The Republic of Beauty

filed under: @ 09:00:06

Told often enough that the West and Islam are natural enemies, we start to believe it, and assume it has always been so. But the Metropolitan Museum of Art argues otherwise in Venice and the Islamic World, 828-1797 a show that, with classic Met largesse, recreates the spectacle of two different cultures meeting in one fantastic city, where commerce and love of beauty, those great levelers, unite them in a fruitful bond.

Venetian ambassadors in Damascus - 1511

The Republic of Beauty, Melding West and East

The article begins with..Told often enough that the West and Islam are natural enemies, we start to believe it...and I'm very surprised. Who is saying so? Natural enemies? What's that? And what they mean with West? I'm Italian, from the south, what do I belong to, West or Middle East? The Mediterranean sea has seen all the populations living on its shores coming in contact sooner or later, the culture that developed is a result of a mixing of everything, with peaks of greatness and dips into nothingness for each of the populations involved. The Mediterranean culture is one of the most ancient and rich of the so called West and it's the result of exchange not of enmity. There have been many wars, sure, but that's just the usual human stupidity and greed not natural hostility.

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posted on: 26 January 2007

Design helps the comprehension

filed under: @ 19:38:03

A post on Noisy Decent Graphics:

Two brilliant pieces of graphic design

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posted on: 21 January 2007

Total War

filed under: @ 09:37:03

From this place, and from this day forth begins a new era in the history of the world, and you can all say that you were present at its birth.

Savage Wars of Peace

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posted on: 21 January 2007

Greenhouse gas plan

filed under: @ 09:30:27

Airlines set to net billions

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posted on: 07 January 2007

Wrong directions

filed under: @ 09:26:08

In 1999 the Government started a series of “farm-scale trials” of GM herbicide-tolerant crops. Each of these GM crop trials covers ten hectares (25 acres) and it is planned to have at least 25 sites for each GM crop involved - winter and spring oilseed rape, maize and sugar beet. These trials are meant to examine the environmental effects of GM crops, but they have not been designed to prevent pollen escaping from the test sites or to protect nearby beekeepers from contamination of their honey.

Bees, Honey and Genetically Modified Crops

Too much time spent inside labs and not nearly enough outside, learning from nature. Agriculture and the production of food in general are basic to the survival of the human species, but , instead of creating herbicide-tolerant crops, why don't they try to use different ways to supply for raising demand? I don't think the real problem is lack of food, even if it's necessary to bear in mind the population growth, rather it's the distribution that needs to be addressed. We need to understand that farming has to be organized better then it is now, in a more environmental friendly way, with attention to local necessities. Forcing higher production through manipulation finalized only to commercial ends, short lived, is not going to solve the long run problem of feeding a growing population. I may be naive, but I'd expect more intelligence from people spending so much time studying..

The Buddha once told a story about a king who ordered a group of blind men to be presented with an elephant. Each man touched a different part of the animal. The king then asked them what an elephant is like. The blind men who touched the elephant's head replied, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a water jar.” The blind men who touched its ear said, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a winnowing basket.” The blind men who touched its tusk declared, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a plowshare.” The ones who touched the trunk replied, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a plow pole.” The blind men who touched the body replied, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a storeroom.” The blind men who touched the foot replied, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a post.” The blind men who touched the hindquarters replied, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a mortar.” The blind men who touched the tail replied, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a pestle.” And the blind men who touched the tuft at the end of the tail replied, “An elephant, your majesty, is just like a broom.” The blind men fell into a fistfight, shouting, “An elephant is like this, an elephant is not like that! An elephant is not like this, an elephant is like that!”

The Genome: An Outsider's View

So, maybe, lab people should find the time to live on a farm..

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posted on: 05 January 2007

Online crowds

filed under: @ 10:09:23

Two articles on online communities and their de-humanization:

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posted on: 31 December 2006

The Curse of Oil

filed under: @ 10:22:03

The Niger Delta is made up of nine states, 185 local government areas, and a population of 27 million. It has 40 ethnic groups speaking 250 dialects spread across 5,000 to 6,000 communities and covers an area of 27,000 square miles. This makes for one the highest population densities in the world, with annual population growth estimated at 3 percent. About 1,500 of those communities play host to oil company operations of one kind or another. Thousands of miles of pipelines crisscross the mangrove creeks of the Delta, broken up by occasional gas flares that send roaring orange flames into the already hot, humid air. Modern, air-conditioned facilities sit cheek-by-jowl with primitive fishing villages made of mud and straw, surrounded with razor wire and armed guards trained to be on the lookout for local troublemakers. It is, and always has been, a recipe for disaster.

The Curse of Oil

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posted on: 25 December 2006

The future weather of New York

filed under: @ 10:47:05

On Collision Detection:

The Five-Year Forecast
Unseasonably warm, with freakish snowfalls and chance of cyclone. This winter will be weird, and the weather will keep getting weirder.
by Clive Thompson

A feature on the future of New York's weather:

The five-year weather forecast

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posted on: 23 December 2006

Exxon spill damages

filed under: @ 11:11:06

Exxon is getting discounts:

Court halves Exxon spill damages

Considering they reported record profits for the year 2005 and the third-highest quarterly profit in the company's history they should be made to pay more not less.

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posted on: 21 December 2006

Underreported news

filed under: @ 18:14:04

Via Kottke.org:

The Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006

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posted on: 11 December 2006

Non believers

filed under: @ 19:04:23

On Wired:

The Church of the Non-Believers

I don't like any kind of extremism. I think everyone is entitled to believe in whatever he wants, as long as one doesn't try to impose his beliefs on others. I personally don't believe in a God, I know there is a life energy that keeps things the way they are but I don't see the necessity to call it something or attribute it “human-like” qualities. I think that religions originally are born as guidelines for social behaviour, in times when there were very few people able to write and read and the only way to regulate society was to convince everyone in a higher entity seeing all and judging us for our actions, even when, for example, in absence of witnesses would have been possible to get away with murder. Also, for literate people, they were a tool to a higher awareness. As far as extremes are concerned, it's always people twisting things to gain something. I think that having to choose it's good because it makes people take responsability. I don't think the problem is the religion in itself but the interpretations given to it by people for personal (or economical) reasons.

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posted on: 10 December 2006

Human cooperation

filed under: @ 10:54:02

On Scientific American:

Love Thy Neighbor

Altruistic behaviour surely came from the fact that it ensures better survival odds, a step up from cooperation during a hunt. But, after a few thousand years of written history, humans should realize that only the awareness of others and their needs can lead to a peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding. Two steps up from cooperating to hunt?

On a different level but of the same basic meaning:

What's Holding Back Arab Women?

Women, like men, should be free to choose; choose to study or not, choose to work or not, choose to wear the veil or not, choose to get married or not..cultures are an ever changing part of social human life. What is today seen as usual wasn't so until fifty years ago and that's valid in any culture. The problems that women face in the Arab world are often basically the same as the ones they face in the Western world. Fifty years ago the similarity were even closer. That's what I meant when I wrote “of the same basic meaning”: freedom of choice, respect, cooperation; that's all we need. When we will understand that we will all have a chance to live with dignity.

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posted on: 03 November 2006

Human motivation and Malthusian catastrophe

filed under: @ 12:55:03

Two links found via Kottke.org:

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posted on: 23 October 2006

History Matters

filed under: @ 09:52:09

We believe that history matters. A society out of touch with its past cannot have confidence in its future. History defines, educates and inspires us. It lives on in our historic environment. As custodians of our past, we will be judged by generations to come. We must value it, nurture it and pass it on.

History matters button

History matters

A nice idea, I believe that history matters and it's absolutely necessary to know some of it to have a perspective on current events. Human lifespan is too short and we tend to consider “normal” things (like television, cars and mobile phones) that until 50 years ago didn't exist or were rare. The initiative is only for England, but it should be taken as an example by all Countries. In my opinion, it's also important to remember that history must be part of our future and not a burden on it. Change is especially good when salted with common sense coming from a knowledge of human history and, in these days of confusion, badly needed.

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posted on: 18 October 2006

The war must go on

filed under: @ 10:02:31

Three projects for the 2006 season of artists' billboards produced by Clockshop. The participating artists are Trevor Paglen & John Emerson, Ignasi Aballi, and Nadiah Bamadhaj. A map of rendition flights, lists made of newspaper cuttings and photos of disappearing people.

Clockshop: the war must go on

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posted on: 08 October 2006

Monothinking

filed under: @ 08:33:07

Posts and articles about the dangers of a software “monoculture”:

I think that any kind of monoculture is dangerous. Diversity ensures vitality and fairness, creates opportunities, leaves the possibility of choice, teaches respect and understanding because it needs an open mind.

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posted on: 30 September 2006

Peak Oil

filed under: @ 19:04:41

Peak Oil is the simplest label for the problem of energy resource depletion, or more specifically, the peak in global oil production. Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, one that has powered phenomenal economic and population growth over the last century and a half. The rate of oil “production”, meaning extraction and refining (currently about 84 million barrels/day), has grown in most years over the last century, but once we go through the halfway point of all reserves, production becomes ever more likely to decline, hence “peak”. Peak Oil means not running out of oil, but running out of cheap oil. For societies leveraged on ever increasing amounts of cheap oil, the consequences may be dire. Without significant successful cultural reform, economic and social decline seems inevitable.

Peak Oil primer

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posted on: 13 September 2006

Anthropogenic trap

filed under: @ 09:22:47

The tendency to see ourselves as the most important factor in the change of life conditions on Earth is another mistake, as the one we make continuously avoiding to see the error in how we relate with what's around us and with each other. Balance seems to be very difficult to attain for us humans. As everybody knows, to create is much more difficult then to destroy.

The anthropogenic trap

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posted on: 12 September 2006

Deceit and self deception

filed under: @ 08:57:02

In the 1970s, a Harvard class taught by evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers ignited a controversy that would escalate into the “sociobiology wars”. His papers provided a Darwinian basis for understanding complex human activities and relationships. Across town at MIT, revolutionary linguist Noam Chomsky had earned a reputation as a leading opponent of the Vietnam War. Throughout those pivotal years, and in the following decades, the two explored similar ideas from different perspectives. Long aware of each other's work, they had never met until a couple of months ago, when they sat down to compare notes on some common interests: deceit and self-deception.

Noam Chomsky + Robert Trivers
via The Nonist

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posted on: 10 September 2006

US Mexico border: on the line

filed under: @ 11:39:47

Last year, three friends gave hundreds of disposable cameras to two groups on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border: the undocumented migrants crossing the desert and the American civilians trying to stop them. The result? A portrait of the border like no other.

Border film project pictures

BORDER | film project via GOOD magazine

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posted on: 09 September 2006

Evolution and music

filed under: @ 10:40:23

Paleo-guitar

The fact that music is universal across cultures and has been part of human life for a very long time - archeologists have found musical instruments dating from 34,000 BC and some believe that a 50,000-year-old hollowed-out bear bone from a Neanderthal campsite is an early flute - does suggest that it may indeed be an innate human tendency. And yet it's unclear what purpose it serves...The evolutionary benefits of our affinity for food (nutrition) and sex (procreation) are easy enough to explain, but music is trickier. It has become one of the great puzzles in the field of evolutionary psychology, a controversial discipline dedicated to determining the adaptive roots of aspects of modern behavior, from child-rearing to religion.

Survival of the harmonious

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posted on: 09 September 2006

Civilization out of necessity

filed under: @ 10:18:41

Extreme changes in the Earth's climate that happened around 3,000 years ago, during which the Sahara Desert became completely arid and the El Niño cycle strengthened, could have kick-started civilizations in some places on Earth.

Civilizations born of hard times

Hardship brings out the best part of man? In some ways, probably, but I bet that it got a lot worse before it got any better. It says so at the end of the article:

The changes might not have been entirely positive, however, Brooks notes. “Life actually got worse for a lot of people” he says. “Inequality and hierarchy increased and most people had to do more hard labour.” Hunter-gatherer communities, on the other hand, ran on a consensus basis with no set leaders - much closer to today's notions of the democratic ideal.

I particularly like the last line, today's notions of the democratic ideal, what's that? Sometimes these scientists live in a dream world, I don't see any sign of democracy or anything even remotely similar to it in the world. Might is right, that's what works. Human beings may get together in times of hardship, but that's the exception not the rule.

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posted on: 04 September 2006

Historical awareness

filed under: @ 10:03:21

The Bush Administration and Godwin's Law

An historical frame of reference is of great importance to keep perspective on current events. Nowadays very often words are used in the media to catch inattentive people attention and subtly steer public opinion. I say inattentive because it seems to me people don't really pay attention to what words mean, to the fact that one day something is said to be white and the next black. Facts are continuously turned around to fit momentary needs of political nature, regardless of accuracy. What makes me wonder is the incapacity (or maybe unwillingness) of people's memory to retain these manipulations and see the incongruence between them. I heard a journalist saying that we have developed a “TV memory”, short unrelated flashes, and I think that in many cases it's, regrettably, the truth.

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posted on: 27 August 2006

Fear and respect

filed under: @ 17:21:42

How it should be:

Fear and respect

A Javascript elaboration of a thought (“Fear breeds hate, respect brings peace” - one of the random quotes that appear on the right upper corner of this site) to illustrate a concept: until fear is greater then respect the end result will always be war.

The most important is the last line (fear--;) without it the loop is infinite and crashes the computer..

The double minus sign is a decrement operator and subtracts 1 from whatever is assigned to. With each iteration of the loop fear decreases and the loop ends. Right now, fear is ++, it increases with each iteration. The loop is infinite.

Let's break that loop..

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posted on: 24 February 2006

Hi-Tech Prison

filed under: @ 19:12:03

I was browsing around the National Geographic
megastructures web site and I saw the episode about a hi-tech prison, NBCI - Maryland.
I searched around a bit and this is what I found.

I cannot help but wonder how come that in the 21st century we, humans of every nation, most intelligent form of life, are still building steel and concrete cages instead of schools and hospitals, why we keep trying to fix the effects rather then the causes. It's incredible that we just don't seem to learn, we appear socially stuck into the 12th century and unable to change way of doing things. What are we going to the Moon for if we are not even able to manage ourselves? We create poverty and then say that we want to eradicate it. We have brilliant technology and science but we still use it to make weapons. We destroy the environment that we need to exist and then say that we want to preserve it. The dichotomy is obvious but the solutions don't appear to be up to the problems. We only try to deal with the effects of our actions instead of act responsibly in the first place. If it wasn't dramatic it would be ridiculous.

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posted on: 23 January 2006

World flags and UK multicultural society

filed under: @ 14:15:23

Agreeing with the interpretations or not is irrelevant, what I like is the idea:

World flags

On the Guardian an article about cultural richness in the UK today:

All together now

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posted on: 22 January 2006

War's wounds

filed under: @ 21:14:02

Struggling Back From War's Once-Deadly Wounds

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posted on: 19 January 2006

There Is No War On Terror

filed under: @ 15:11:27

On AlertNet:

There Is No War On Terror

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posted on: 04 January 2006

Make Trade Fair

filed under: @ 10:01:36

Make Trade Fair

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posted on: 23 December 2005

Civil liberties and rights

filed under: @ 14:33:54

I hope that not only american but also the rest of world civil liberties and rights are taken into consideration.

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posted on: 19 December 2005

Books to live

filed under: @ 10:18:52

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posted on: 08 December 2005

Harold Pinter's Nobel lecture

filed under: @ 22:47:44

"I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory. If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man."

from Harold Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech

I cannot say anything more that he's not already said better then I could. It's so rare to hear those things said by someone that has the possibility to reach many people. Thanks.

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posted on: 30 November 2005

Addio, Dolce Vita

filed under: @ 21:06:32

A survey about Italy on the Economist :

Addio, Dolce Vita

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posted on: 30 November 2005

Secret jails?

filed under: @ 12:52:53

In the year 2005 (which is the 21st century not the 12th), the “might is right” way of thinking is still well. How is it that there are always different ethical standards (and how can they be different if they are standard)? Why someone thinks they can do anything they want and others won't react to it? Why is so difficult to understand that is only by example that is possible to change things?

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posted on: 19 October 2005

Fair?

filed under: @ 18:56:01

So, the latest scare is the avian flu and is good for business:

Bird flu drug sales

And this is how they think or, to be politically correct, they used to think and what they did:

the articles were written in February 2003

Which takes me to Malawi begins to starve and makes me wonder where is the chance to live with dignity when the difference is as big as the indifference?

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posted on: 04 October 2005

EU and Turkey

filed under: @ 09:33:06

I hope the talks will go in the right direction and Turkey will become part of Europe.

I think that a new Europe has the opportunity to act as the mediator between irresponsible Western policies and desperate Middle-East actions. The way of thinking of the political generation coming out of the "Cold War" is obsolete and it's time to replace it with some more balanced and farther reaching ideas. Maybe all together we can work to create a different way of relating with each other, cooperating instead of competing.

I personally really don't like to hear talks of clash of civilizations (if we were "civilized" we shouldn't clash anyway) and religions being used as an excuse to obtain power. All of that reminds me of the 12th century and makes me wonder if, in the year 2005, there really are people that still think so narrowly or if it's just the usual smoke screen used to cover the real intentions. Both scenarios add to my misgivings that human beings actually are an intelligent form of life. ANY religion should be personal and private and should not be imposed in any way on others. Talking about which religion is better doesn't make any sense and, most of the times, it brings to misunderstanding and conflict. How can something based on faith be discussed in a logical way? Everyone should be left free to choose. The State with all its rules can take care of social interactions and inside it every citizen has the right to believe in what he decides. Neither the law of state nor that of religion can assure that anyone would behave better because the choice is up to each one of us every single time. Guidelines are important but the ultimate choice rests on personal decision.

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posted on: 25 September 2005

Anti-war protests

filed under: @ 10:08:33

Anti-war protests:

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posted on: 18 September 2005

Religious penguins..

filed under: @ 11:03:03

This is hilarious and almost incredible:

Antarctic family values read the article and draw your own conclusions...

A few links to interesting posts:

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posted on: 12 July 2005

Sciencegate

filed under: @ 09:18:30

An affiliation of science-minded journalists getting their blog on. We're covering the ideas and deeds of the G8 summit (hence the name) from on-site and from around the world.

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posted on: 18 June 2005

Development (?)

filed under: @ 08:43:21

Multimillion contracts to add a wing to the latest American resort:

..and the contractors are the usual suspects..

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CSS,Javascript and Php studies

Anti spam email
A solution to writing an anti spam email contact link
filed under: Javascript
Background image
A background image randomizer that I used in the second version of this site.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
Javascript menu
A menu that uses Javascript and session cookies.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
MiniSite
Experimenting with CSS and Javascript.A simple but, in my opinion, nice navigation “system”. The MiniSite is a one page site.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
Photo display
Protect copyrighted photos: a simple but effective solution.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
Photo gallery
A photo gallery made for a friend
filed under: Javascript
PHP menu
A PHP menu that can be updated without having to re-publish all the pages is on.
filed under: PHP
Pop-up menu
A very simple pop up menu powered by Javascript. It works also if Javascript is disabled.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
RSS feed
How to write and use an RSS feed
filed under: rss-xml
Tag replacer
The Tag replacer explained and a link to it.
filed under: PHP
Tags search
A search form build and powered using Javascript and the DOM
filed under: Javascript