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Messages - fizz

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General Comments / Re: Trump 2024 Presidential Campaign Slogans
« on: February 17, 2021, 02:08:23 PM »
But the severe winter storm has, among some Republicans, been used to open up a new culture war around the expansion of renewable energy, which is a stated priority of Biden in order to address the climate crisis.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Greg Abbott, Texas’s Republican governor, told Fox News about an ambitious but not enacted plan to rapidly phase out fossil fuels. “It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas as well as other states, to make sure that we’ll be able to heat our homes in the wintertime and cool our homes in the summertime.”

Abbott’s attack contradicts the operators of the Texas grid, which is overwhelmingly run on gas and oil, who have confirmed the plunging temperatures caused gas plants to seize up at the same time as a huge spike in demand for heating. Nevertheless, images of ice-covered wind turbines, taken in Sweden in 2014, were shared widely among conservatives on social media as proof of the frailty of clean energy.

General Comments / Re: Just making life easier for climate deniers
« on: February 17, 2021, 07:23:06 AM »
Of course, the Global Warming crowd will be using this event of further proof of Anthropogenic Climate Change and how human activity is causing "increasingly severe and unusual" weather patterns to emerge.

Biiig strawman.

Of course, climate scientists always pointed out that attributing any single, specific weather event to climate change or not is near to impossible, because weather is extremely complicated (pointedly distinguishing between weather and climate), and only a climate scientist with a big bunch of supercomputers behind could make a stab at it.

It's only when considering the aggregate statistics that you can point to trends.
And in aggregate, the appearance of more extreme climate events, of *any* kind, match the forecasts of a more energetic system, like the one caused by an increased greenhouse effect.

But that's par for the course, it's almost useless by now pointing to the science, as the fanatics will not be convinced by anything (considering that the physics of the greenhouse effect it's incredibly well understood, that co2 and methane are known greenhouse gases, that we can measure quite well the increase of that gas in the atmosphere year by year, it should be the denier's burden to prove how this will not lead to a system that traps more energy and change over time, but that's deniers for you: any inconvenient news must be denied to the bitter end).

Anyway. mostly the fossil fuels companies are resigned to the switch, and are mostly fighting a rear-guard political campaign to avoid seeing their shares fall off a cliff while they search ways to convert their business model.
Even Shell had to admit last week that we are likely past peak oil and they forecast *at least* a 1% yearly decrease in production. 

Unluckily, energy production is only part of a problem: we will have also to deal with things like agriculture, concrete and steel production and so on. It will be hard, and I can only cross my finger than sequestration techniques and geoengineering gets better.


General Comments / Re: impeachment defense clown car
« on: February 11, 2021, 04:28:12 PM »
Are there statute of limitations on civil crimes?  If so, my question stands.

In the unlikely event this is not a rhetorical question, the answer is that the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal actions is satisfied by the date the complaint is filed, even if the eventual trial occurs years later.

A small side note pointing on differences around the world.
In Italy, the statute of limitation include the trial period: the consequence of such a thing is that Berlusconi, just to give a famous example, managed to have many trials expire by using strategically deployed delaying tactics (including when in a public role using the excuse of institutional commitments to skip trial dates).

Well, not so much an hard right, as some lip service to the right front in advance of upcoming elections, when talking about some topics that have been and will remain bothersome for the government in charge, whatever the brand, like how to deal with their immigrant population.

Macron is a centrist, an agnostic and a strong supporter since forever of the "laicité" of the state: this, and an emphasis on the assimilation in the "french" identity of immigrants have been an issue that have generated some internal conflicts even on the center-left of France parties when having to deal with the large muslim immigrant population, compounded with the residual issues from recent decolonization of largely muslim African French colonies, and have been doing so since forever.

He made some comments in this direction centered mostly on the laicitè stuff, but the big more generalized noises come from the old-guard of the France academia, like that article points out too.

The "old-guard" of academia, both left and right, is starting having to deal with the fallout of the attitude they took after the sexual liberation of the '60... it's likely that many, many members of the old guard have closets full of skeletons, by current standards (

Let's say that having a guilty conscience about some past excesses is not exactly conductive to being open to a change of course that will lead to a reduction on your influence and prestige, and maybe even put your career in danger.

General Comments / Re: Election Results
« on: February 10, 2021, 04:36:09 PM »
Yet some people still continue to feed at this teat of insanity, despite the sources being discredited again and again and again.  This is beyond faulty reasoning.  This is some form of cognative dissonance to an extreme degree.  This is madness. 

I watched that documentary about flat-Earthers, "Behind the curve": even if that one is a relatively innocuous conspiracy theory, I think some of the forces behind that one and the more nasty political ones is quite similar.

The need to give a sense to a world you don't understand, to have somebody to blame for everything that's wrong in your life, to feel the excitement of a radical black-and-white explanation instead of murky complex impersonal networks of cause and effects, and then to feel special, one of the few that really knows what's going on, and part of a community that treats you with respect and acceptance instead of constantly mocking you for your ideas, constantly pointing all the flaws and reasons why you're wrong.

And once you're in that community, the fear, if you ever admitted to be wrong, of what would happen: to be rejected by your new community and new friends and treated as a traitor, and dreading having to weather the "told-you-so" by the smug elitists that mocked your ideas before.

I can get it, and even empathize with it.

Still, indulging this kind of reality-avulsed thinking is dangerous for everybody.
I've no idea of what would be a working, proper way to address this. Logic does not work, that's for sure.
Maybe some psychologist trained in dealing with cult-deprogramming could give us some pointers.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: February 05, 2021, 11:09:16 AM »
From what I read, first and second wave Sweden "under-performed" compared to the other Nordic countries, while still remaining better than the worst hit European countries like the Czech Republic and Belgium (I've acquaintances that live in the Czech Republic, and allegedly there the anti-mask movement is very active, and most people do not wear one and pay scarcely any attention to any social distancing rule: in their words "they're crazy").
They (Sweden) should have started now implementing more forcefully the standard WHO recommendations, after their healthcare system having been nearly crashed during December.

General Comments / Re: Now you've done it
« on: January 22, 2021, 04:35:13 AM »
Well, the answer to that thing of free speech is in 2 parts:
1. Free speech, in your own jurisprudence that you are so eager to quote every time is useful to you, is limited to speech that is not "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action"
2. Free speech means that the government can't punish you for what you says. It says nothing about anybody having to listen to you or providing you a platform for your expression. That's left to your precious free enterprise. Summed up quite well from the XKCD guy:

General Comments / Re: The Case for Trumps Impeachment
« on: January 20, 2021, 10:44:29 AM »
Like I read somewhere, the case for impeaching with offices one does not hold anymore is simple: if it was enough to simply not hold the office anymore, one would only have to resign shortly before sentencing to avoid any of the penalties for the impeachable offense, or, like in this case, commit the offense sufficiently close to the end of one own office.
As these penalties include being disbarred from further public offices, and that penalty strikes even after the end of the office, if you did not allow this late impeachments, you would lose a large part of the deterrence power of impeachment.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: January 19, 2021, 05:22:01 AM »
About long term consequences, and the statistics likely quite under-reporting casualties:
Almost a third of recovered Covid patients return to hospital in five months and one in eight die

General Comments / Re: Who will be next to speak out about Trump?
« on: January 14, 2021, 08:48:23 AM »
... is there anything keeping him from telling all about Trump?

Fear of mobs wanting to hang him?
A tape of him doing the stuff on Borat video, only not with an actress *posing* as an underage girl?
Some other kind of buried bodies?
The promise of a formula for coloring hairs that do not leak even in the worst circumstances?
There are many possibilities...

General Comments / Re: Now you've done it
« on: January 12, 2021, 08:02:11 AM »
I'd also be interested in any mass events specifically directed by leaders or a particular group, which resulted in a riot [violence or destruction of property], where those identifiable leaders were not charged with incitement.

My thesis is that calling for Trump's responsibility for 1/6/21 is not out of the ordinary for any similar event and outcome.

The Chicago 7(8) were charged with Conspiracy to instigate a riot and a number of other things in association with rioting that happened in association with the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

They were acquitted, and while I haven't dug into it much myself, I'm being told by someone who should be knowledgeable on the matter that those persons did a LOT more than what Trump did.

First of all they *were* charged: kidv talked about being charged, not found guilty: trials can end one way or another for many reasons.
Second, they also *were* found guilty of some of the charges, only absolved for the conspiracy part, and the guilty result was only reversed during appeal due to irregularities during the trial, and before that they did serve jail time.
So, not exactly a great example, even in the constraided criteria of kidv question.
And of course, the guys were not elected officials, and, well, the context was completely different.

General Comments / Re: Now you've done it
« on: January 11, 2021, 02:20:07 PM »
Mandatory xkcd free speech comic:

General Comments / Re: Pencemegeddon
« on: January 08, 2021, 05:39:47 PM »
What I don't like is sneering at 'foreign' people who do things IMO not even nearly as bad as what local people do. It really pushes my buttons to get up in arms about Russia messing with us when the two parties are already messing with us.

Talking as a foreigner, the ethical problem is not what Russians did: Russians will do what Russians will do, and Americans themselves are far from extraneous to playing dirty tricks to influence foreign countries internal politics (*cough* Cile and Pinochet, just to name one, but my country itself was for decades a battle zone in the cold war between you two, and likely still is).

The problem your own countrymen have is with Trump, first as a candidate to the place as First Citizen of America, and after that as the aforementioned First citizen, aligning his personal interests to an at least partially hostile foreign country when it's attempting to play some of those dirty tricks against your own country.

<shrug> It's not my country, but if it were, in your place I would be pissed. Like I'm pissed at my own countrymen that sold or sell us out to, depending on the occasion, Russia or the US.

General Comments / Re: My promise
« on: January 07, 2021, 06:05:07 AM »
It would be a terribly low standard anyway: heavens, compared to Trump, *our own Berlusconi* appears a statesman.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: December 23, 2020, 09:45:21 AM »
From what I heard, the new mutation cause a few changes on the "spike" protein that's the target of the new vaccines, but quite limited ones.
The scientist I heard talking about that said that the changes are only 3 tiny mutations on that protein, so it's likely the vaccine will still work, but it can't be excluded that it will change something, they are just starting some experiments to check that now.
The good news is that, even if that was the case, thanks to the mRNA approach it should be possible to create a new one for the modified protein quite quickly.
In that case of course you would still have the difficulties with a new distribution round.

General Comments / Re: Lame ducks and sitting targets
« on: December 12, 2020, 02:37:52 AM »
It's the astounding power of having no shame, not being constrained by any moral qualms  whatsoever, and seeing the rest of the world as a sea of human-shaped dummies put there only for your own personal enjoyment.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: December 01, 2020, 06:53:20 AM »
A friend of mine was sick for 3 weeks, now has negative test results. They'll mark her as "recovered" in the data. I fear she could fall in to this category.

By the way, I told here some times ago that my brother got covid: thankfully he seems having a mild form, but even if more than 3 weeks have passed since getting diagnosed, he's still having some mild fever and symptoms even today.
He's well enough to still manage to work some, but definitely not in peak form.

General Comments / Re: covid-19 outside the US
« on: November 09, 2020, 02:54:22 AM »
Well, my younger brother just got diagnosed with covid.
Luckily for now it seems a light form, although not asymptomatic... we hope him being young-ish and athletic will help him.
But the fact he's also a smoker does not help.

General Comments / Re: Election Results
« on: November 06, 2020, 08:54:58 AM »
In the last update, in Pennsylvania, now its +5594 for Biden

I've to say, thank to this site I've understood a lot about craziness.

when talking about defining what's fascism, it's always useful having read Umberto Eco old classic article:

General Comments / Re: Town halls and debates 2020
« on: September 30, 2020, 01:52:24 AM »
Not only Canada.

General Comments / Re: Ruth Bader Ginsberg
« on: September 21, 2020, 10:04:58 AM »
I've to say that witnessing all this mess quite confirmed in my opinion the idea that our own constituent assembly, when decided to make the judiciary a totally independent, autonomous and purely career-based branch had exactly the right idea.
It does not save them from making the occasional blunder, but generally speaking they manage to outrage all parties equally, one time or another.

General Comments / Re: read any good books lately?
« on: September 18, 2020, 12:37:06 PM »
It's "the paladin of shadows" series.
I've not actually ever read it, it's definitely not my kind of thing... but the review I linked to is quite entertaining, John Ringo approved, and gave the start for a while to a meme ("Oh John ringo, no!") and even t-shirts!

Let's me try to repost the article here:

(Warning: as it's generally considered not polite to copy and republish the entire article of somebody else, and I'm doing it only because the article is quite old and it does not seem to have ads in his page, I'll still unpublish it sometime in the coming days).

General Comments / Re: read any good books lately?
« on: September 18, 2020, 06:26:21 AM »
Piers Anthony.... loved the Blue Adept series as a youth. Not sure I'd still love it now, and I won't reread it because I've disappointed myself that way before. But I have reread Incarnations of Mortality series, and not been disappointed. In fact, maybe I'll do it again on audio now!

When I started reading books of Piers Anthony I quite liked him (never touched the Xanth ones, I got to know him with Bio of a space Tyrant and then Incarnations of mortality).
Then I started noticing a trend: he created situations to allow under-aged girls having sex, and sex with older (often quite older) men too, and justifying that situation.
Also having rapey situations around where the hero was justified in having to have forced sex with a woman.
If it happened one or two times, I could have chalked it to a narrative decision, however unfortunate, and not thought about it anymore. But it happened again and again. And the vibe was not so much
So I got suspicious, checked online if anybody else was getting those vibes or if it was in my mind, and I heard about one of his novels, Firefly.
Tried checking it, was unable to finish, but checked the afterword as it was pointed to me that there he wrote his own thoughts on the matter.
Now I'm firmly convinced that, even if likely (one hopes) not a practicing one, at least he's either supportive or decided to pander to that crowd, and I'm not fine with that.
And I find a bit chilling that's he also the writer of a famous series of ya fantasy books that are notoriously just a tiny bit naughty.
It's even worse than the (in)famous "Oh John Ringo, no! books.

Said that, the last bunch of books I've read and enjoyed this past couple of years.

The "janitors of the post-apocalypse" series from Jim C. Hines: light and fun.

I did *not* enjoy Space opera by Valente: I mean, I liked the idea, but something in how it's written simply turned me off.

The Penric and Desdemona books from LMM Bujold: I was already a big fan of course of her Miles series and the rest of the 5 gods world, and these does keep the trend.

The Sector General series by James White. In some ways they are a bit dated, but it's so refreshing reading a series where the true enemy is illness, and there are almost no real bad guys.

I just ended a reread of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher due to the imminent arrival of its next book after a long hiatus.

Turning Darkness into light by Marie Brennan (a sort of follow up to her "a natural history of dragons".

I reread the Witcher series by Sapkowski in preparation to the arrival of the series on Netflix.

The Khaavren romances by Steven Brust. I enjoyed his Vlad Taltos series, and the Khaavren romances are hilarious if you've ever read Dumas.

Martine's "A memory called empire", interesting, we will see if it will keep the level in case of follow-ups.

Finished Leckie's Imperial radch trilogy.

Wells' "The Murderbot diaries".

Taylor's the "bobiverse" series

Monette's "The Goblin emperor".

In the "serious literature" department (I don't read too many of these nowaday, because good serious literature tend to be too depressing):

I finally tackled "war and peace" by the expedient of bringing only that on my vacations.

Manzoni's "The Betrothed". Its a book every Italian student have to read at school, and hate it... I wanted to check it with mature eyes.
It's really not bad, even if clearly of its time, especially by including the parts that at school they expunged. It turned out to be also quite sort of a weird anticipation of what happened, as all the last part happens on the background of one of the big plague epidemics in northern Italy and, well, when covid arrived a lot of the echoes of the book ringed quite true.

I read also "100 years of solitude" of Marquez, definitely recommended even if quite haunting.

"History" by Elsa Morante and "That Awful Mess on Via Merulana" by Gadda, to get a view of the Italian fascist years.

In the non-fiction department:

"More than human" by Ramez Naan

"1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed" by Cline

I've also read "the world until yesterday" and I've already bought and waiting in my to-be-read pile "upheaval" by Jared Diamond.
I had already read years ago his "Guns germs and steel" and "collapse".. all interesting, the first is part of what i consider my "foundational" worldview shaping library, together with:
Desmond Morris "The naked ape", Dawkins "the selfish gene", Popitz "Phenomena of Power: Authority, Domination, and Violence", Minsky "the society of mind", Carroll "Endless forms most beautiful", Cipolla "Guns sails and empires" (also others like "allegro non troppo", with the famous laws of stupidity), Chabris and Simons "the invisible gorilla", Conway and Oreskes "merchants of doubts", Graeber "Debt: The First 5000 Years", Pinker "the better angels of our nature"  (also read "enlightenment now", even if it's more of an expansion of the first), Safina "Beyond words".
(As a note, there are no titles in the more hard sciences field because my training was in that field, so I rely quite less on "general public" books to shape my worldview regarding that... but I enjoyed and recommend Einstein "The Theory of Relativity and Other Essays", Hawkings "a brief history of time", Feynmann "siex easy pieces" and "six not so easy pieces": they passed my mom test! :-p).

General Comments / Re: covid-19 outside the US
« on: September 04, 2020, 03:50:24 PM »

The amusing thing about Briatore and Berlusconi getting infected is that they have been very vocal about COVID19 countermeasures being a useless nuisance. In particular, the Zangrillo doctor named in the article is Berlusconi's personal doctor, and the "scientific" support of the parties claiming all this virus stuff is not a big deal.
Just few hours ago he was releasing a statement about how maybe he used the wrong tone when he said that the virus was dead and the pandemic over, and so was misunderstood...

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: July 30, 2020, 11:19:44 AM »
Post-infection cardiac damage found in 78% of recovering COVID19 patients

That's 78% of a cohort, average age 49, of whom 67% had recovered at home (ie. disease was not categorized as severe enough to need hospitalization). Cohort was normalized with respect to other risk factors relative to uninfected patients. Diagnosis by MRI. Looks reasonably solid, at first glance, publication in JAMA Cardiol. (Journal of the American Medical Association, cardiology). Study coordinated via a German hospital.
You don't want to get this virus.

(Found the link on the blog of another SF author, Charles Stross)

General Comments / Re: covid-19 outside the US
« on: July 29, 2020, 03:19:31 AM »
[link=] English language article on Italian pandemic management status [/link]
I can more or less confirm what's going on: people mostly behave, and it seems that really a modicum of social distancing, mask wearing and handwashing are sufficient to keep the situation on the slow burner.

A bit worried because of course the local right wingers, that during the worst of the first wave kept silent for a while, now exactly because situation is going on smoothly are starting to make noises about coronavirus being a sham, about wanting to get rid of facemasks and so on, following the usual playbook. And with the media stirring the pot, I'm hearing normal people starting to catch on these ideas and repeating them around.

Also worried because my dad, 74 and a bit of a conspiracy fancier (all the usual stuff: George Soros as the evil incarnate, World New Order, chemtrails, climate change is a scam, you know, all the usual stuff you collect on internet forums), of course attached himself to the "the virus is a big scam" wagon and refuses to behave (putting by the way at risk my mother too).

This looks very violent. (Warning: NSFW)

General Comments / Re: Protestors vs. Rioters
« on: June 16, 2020, 02:33:57 PM »
Well, in London the basic policy is still the Peelian principles of policing by consent, although I hear in recent years it was weakened a bit.
Of course, they like most of Europe are helped by a decidedly smaller percentage of firearms in circulation, outside organized crime.

General Comments / Re: Protestors vs. Rioters
« on: June 16, 2020, 11:37:25 AM »
I had a similar experience when I was younger: when i was a student at University, I was a volunteer stretch bearer for the Red Cross.

One time, we were called to take care of a drunk person. When we arrived, the drunk had just woke up and was feeling decidedly uncooperative... now, we couldn't obviously force him to climb on the ambulance, but leaving him be without him signing a paper where he assumed full responsibility would not have been allowed out of us, we could have had troubles, so we contacted our equivalent of 911 (118, for the curious) and asked instructions.

Shortly after a patrol car of Carabinieri arrived on the spot (one of the 3 police corps we've, it's a military corp and usually don't take care of low-level disturbances, but evidently they were the ones available that evening).

An officer dismounted the car, very calmly watched the situation, advanced up to the drunk yelling man and without warning quickly slapped him two times. Not very strongly, but neither a light tap.
He then quite gently but still very confidently stated "you're going with them".
From what I remember, the officer was not armed. The other officer, younger, that was near the car instead was.

At that point anyway the drunk man, quite surprised and suddenly silent, thought for a moment about it, and answered "I think I'm going with them".

As the drunk man seemed more cooperative, they let us do our things and only followed the ambulance up to the hospital.

Now, i don't think they exactly acted according to protocol, but I've to say that it worked quite well...

General Comments / Re: Defund the police
« on: June 15, 2020, 12:51:51 PM »
Now I've not the time to dig further on the topic, so I'll try not to pursue it further (I used up most of my "not working" share of time for the week on the video and on my comment to it! :-p)

In my point on the credibility, I mean credibility toward those that he says he's talking to, so, in this case, the protesters.

His discourse, by advocating moderation to not poke the authoritarian bear, make sense only if those that would listen to him are the very same protesters, otherwise he would be doing some other kind of rhetoric trick.

And at this moment in history, considering the actual situation and not an ideal theoretical situation, to those protesters he would come out as non-credible.

After all, Aristotle himself considered establishing a bond with the intended public a fundamental part of rhetoric, and "being right" was only a part of it.

This is a point that intelligent people often forget: if your target is persuading someone and not simply validating yourself and being able to say later "I told you so", "being right" is only a part of what you must take into account (with the occasional relapse(!) I mostly have given up on trying to persuade people of anything, I've not the knack to it, and after a certain quota of "I told you so" you start to annoy people :-p).

(I also read with some quick google digging that he have an history of making deliberately provocative arguments to get attention, but I don't know this for direct experience, so I'll limit myself to report is an additional information).

Anyway, asides apart, as I've said, I recognize he have a lot of good points.
He also have some dubious points that would benefit from some cross-examining, especially the part regarding the data.
And while doing some quick nods to them, he does not pay sufficient attention to the good points of those he's criticizing, and to the current events and status of things.

Thus, the way he choose to express his worries, imho, do go contrary to the stated intention of improving the state of the debate.

Agree. I'm guessing he was going with the super simplistic that more white people are killed by police than black people. But as a percentage of the population, if my memory is correct, blacks are 2 to 3 times more likely to be killed by police.

He actually uses the argument that while they are killed more compared to the percentage of the population, the are killed much less compared to the percentage of crimes committed by black people.
This *could* be a valid link to his argument that most of the form that racism takes now came mostly from the economic inequality and thus the crime rates etc. etc., but it's not so obvious that he can takes it as a given, especially considering the stats he's using comes directly form the police themselves, and the current laws as are designed.
Also, he does recognize that most of the things that are being requested by the protesters are quite right: demilitarizing the police, be done with the war on drugs, reform the prison system, reinforce social services, fight inequality in general... but as it's not his focus, he's a bit quick on these points, so opening himself to being used as an argument by the usuals.

Oh, he also have a problem with identity politics: his argument is that, as police according to their job expect quick and instant compliance, always, if a share of the population make an identity point of showing non-compliance and distrust, they are going to get targeted with more violence purely as a direct consequence of their behavior. It sounds vaguely plausible, but before presenting it as a fact, it would require a lot more stats and studies, that he does not present properly. And without a specific study, it sounds only as one of those "just-so" stories that are often used to defend the status quo.

General Comments / Re: Defund the police
« on: June 15, 2020, 10:19:06 AM »
ScottF, I tried, but I don't have 1:52:59 to spend listening.  How about you summarize the highlights...?

I did listen to the whole 1:52.

He does have some valid points, I've to say. Also some things I think he quite missed, but Ill try to summarize his points as far as I groked them before saying my take.

Basically, it's point is quite similar to the point made by Pinker and other humanists/rationalists that when the left does not recognize the strides forward we made over the course of history (thanks largely to those enlightenment values of rationality and humanism) with careful peaceful step-by-step reforms and gradual demographic replacement of old attitudes with new point of views and insists in tribalist "us vs them" emotionally satisfying simplistic measures, the left is really shooting itself in the foot and reinforcing, if not the actual right-wing sides of society, at least their entrenched beliefs.

In the specific case, he says that currently (he specify, in the last 15 years... not talking of the previous situation) more than an attitude problem of the police, there are structural problems at the root, like the ongoing war on drugs, the strong economic dis equality and entrenched poverty of the black share of the population and the related crime problem.
He makes the point that really, the kind of violence we've seen is constantly going down, and correlating that to the other statistics about crime, most of the current perception of an epidemic(!) of violence, is mostly an artifact of larger access to more direct information.
Also that the tribal identity culture exacerbate mistrust of authority that create a vicious circle of violence by instigating it with non-compliance.

There are also other points (the risk that a militarized disaffected police plus a large share of scared conservative citizens plus the current disregard for anything that does not benefit him of the current POTUS could mean a strong authoritarian turn for the US a la Weimar Germany), the observation that purity tests stifle the debate on any topic related to certain topics instead of finding the most practical solution to problems, and other that I surely forgot over the almost two hours of monologue, but i think i got the main ones.

Oh, and of course the weakening of everything we are doing to contain the virus just to not appear to criticize the protests.

Well, I think that on one hand he have valid points: yeah, the tendency to fall in purity tests about the dogma du jour is one of humanity failure modes that the left is definitely not immune to (also one of the defining traits of the right, of course... stupidity and authoritarianism are powerful universal forces).
Also the media do tend to focus a bit too much on the dramatic while forgetting the good news, and its a well known widespread cognitive bias that make it so that people will pay much much more attention to bad news than good news.
And people are bad at math and statistics and science (it's the reason we had to invent the scientific method before really getting anything done).
And probably, if we are not very lucky, a lot of people among the most vulnerable shares of population are going to suffer and maybe die in the coming future, due to covid-19, due to worsened economic troubles, lost livelihoods, ruined neighborhoods, increased conflict with the police and so on.
And we also know how a certain person will try to play all of this, maybe unsuccessfully, but maybe successfully.

The things I thinks he misses, is how all his rational discourse depends on being an educated well-off white male.
It does not means that he's not right, but expecting the level of dispassionate rationality that he can maintain while sitting comfortably in his privileged home from people that are actually suffering right now in the streets, is quite unrealistic.
When you deal with the forces of change in a society, you work with the forces that are right there, not the forces you wish were there.

And the forces that we have right now are the pent-up rage of the dispossessed, exacerbated by the scare for the pandemic, for the perception of inequality, for the fear for the future, for the witnessing of constant injustices, and the guilt of the empathetic well-off, that do know they got it light, but still see the situation and search for ways to help.

Because he may be not wrong, but neither the protester are.

Racism *is* still a very real problem, and while a post-racist no-color future is our common target, we are far from there.

The statistics he cites comes from the same sources that are under accuse right now: things may be not as bad as the protests depict it, but they are still quite bad, and increased transparency and reforms are sorely due.

And while violence is definitely not the true-final answer (I don't know how many revolutions actually did attain what they set out to do, but very very few), a credible *menace* of revolution have done wonders for driving the most stingy 0,01%-ers in accepting social reform.

Especially, his talking out it's not useful: he's not credible, he does not talk the right language, so his message will not arrive to those that do need it, and will instead be used, selectively stripped of the nuances and weaponized, by those that see it as only a rhetoric tool to hit the protesters.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: June 03, 2020, 11:03:24 AM »
I know that this news item will be quite misunderstood here, but still it is relevant, so here we go:

General Comments / Re: here comes the next ice age
« on: May 26, 2020, 11:53:34 AM »
Lies, damned lies and statistics works when you're talking about statistics served by politicians or pundits to the general public.
Statistics *can* be used to lie, but only by the quite simple trick of showing statistics to somebody that don't understand them, and using their lacks of understanding to confuse them.
I've seen the charts, I don't need a study to interpret the predictions for me.
Unless you're either a climate scientist or a statistician, this very sentence does exactly prove you're the perfect target for being lied to by the pundits you choose to follow. And if you instead are on of those two things, you should instead publish a refutation of those other studies. I hear the oil industry is always happy to pay big premiums to scientists that do similar researches.

The trick of peer reviewed science in the scientific method is exactly to avoid this by working with people that knows the topic, knows statistics, have a vested interested in making their name by slaying some sacred cows and are eager to gleefully shred to pieces any shoddy paper incautiously published by a colleague.

Oh, from time to time some iffy study, especially in marginal or very new fields may still sneak in, especially if instead of a proper per reviewed magazine you read one of those pat-to-publish paper-mills... but sooner or later it will be found, and in a topic as hot as climate science? Very very hard.

General Comments / Re: here comes the next ice age
« on: May 26, 2020, 09:14:42 AM »
We all know that’s not true.  ::)

Well, it's necessary to distinguish two phenomenons: solar irradiance meaning solar radiation on Earth surface, and solar irradiance meaning the total star energy output.

The terms used to describe the two things can get easily confounded, especially while reading simply the headline of an article or if the journalist writing the article do not understand much of the topic.

The first one, solar surface radiation, have been generally continuously increasing as a trend in the past 40 years, but this is actually one of the *symptoms* of AGW, not one of the causes, as solar surface radiation is regulated (apart from the sun of course) by cloud formation and aerosols in the atmosphere.
Here an article that analyze an example of this increase over Europe:

The second one follow an 11 years cycle of increases and decreases, that, depending on the satellites used and the scientists analyzing it, showed either a general trend downward since the '80, or a slight upward trend from '80 to 2k, and a downward trend from 2k to now.
Here's an article were some scientists argue for the latter case,, but it's still not a settled matter.

Anyway, nobody is seriously arguing that at least from 2k to now the trend is not downward...

General Comments / Re: here comes the next ice age
« on: May 26, 2020, 04:36:26 AM »
Well, actually past climate models have been quite accurate (in the limits of course of how much any model can be accurate about any future event... I posted other times how models are used by scientists and how they should be read).

From "Evaluating the Performance of Past Climate Model Projections"

While climate models have grown substantially more complex than the early models examined here, the skill that early models have shown in successfully projecting future warming suggests that climate models are effectively capturing the processes driving the multidecadal evolution of GMST. While the relative simplicity of the models analyzed here renders their climate projections operationally obsolete, they may be useful tools for verifying or falsifying methods used to evaluate state‐of‐the‐art climate models. As climate model projections continue to mature, more signals are likely to emerge from the noise of natural variability and allow for the retrospective evaluation of other aspects of climate model projections.

Oh, if you go to generalist media, usually they tend to misinterpret what scientists are actually saying (seriously, never ever get your scientific information from generalist media, whatever the political brand, they simply don't get it:, and if then you base your 'remembering the predictions' on Hollywood interpretations of the generalist media interpretation, yeah, things can get quite wonky.

But, yeah, those skeptics cards so often brandished around are starting to look more and more willful blindness to things the "skeptics" don't want to be true because they don't like the logical consequences.  And I say this as someone that *was* a skeptic on the relevance of this topic in the early '90, before really looking into it.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: May 15, 2020, 12:07:07 PM »

I've friends that live in Slovakia's capital, Bratislava: talking with them, Slovak people were really very aggressive about the face masks thing, and the population have been very compliant.
They did not really close up all that much, especially compared to, for example, Italy: most shops remained open while only allowing for people with masks and gloves to go inside, open air activities remained allowed (at safe distance and with masks and gloves) etc. etc.

And it seems it paid off:
They started their epidemic quite shortly after the rest of Europe, they did not even do all that much testing, but in total, in all the country, they just had 27 deaths, their hospitals never went in overload, and their deaths/million inhabitants rate is one of the lowest around here.

General Comments / Re: covid-19 outside the US
« on: May 07, 2020, 11:31:21 AM »
An interesting summing up report translated in english on the events and timelines of the spread of the pandemic in Lombardy in the past months. (Warning: long article).

Il Post spoke with dozens of doctors, nurses, politicians, virologists and experts as well as ordinary people to gain an initial understanding of what happened in Lombardy, from pandemic preparedness to the peak of the crisis. Although there is no doubt that the picture we have is incomplete, it is a necessary first step in reconstructing an event whose consequences will have a long-term impact on us all.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: May 04, 2020, 11:14:38 AM »
Well, models do not exactly work like that.

Models are only partially a predictive tool, when they are used in this role, they are used in the understanding that they are never going to be perfect, because reality have simply too many factors.
It's like in physics using the equations for a perfect gas, when no real world gas behave exactly that way: you use those simplified equations to do some predictions in some conditions because they will give you a useful approximation without having to deal with the infinite complexity.

Models are also useful as testing tools: when you create a model, it's implicit that that models embeds some assumptions, be them "things will continue to go on in this way", or "from this event will follow that event".

Once you're reasonably sure of the underlying principles and that the model have been properly designed, by clearly stating your assumptions (and for this in science peer review is the only tool), by checking the model predictions with the actual events and noting changes, you can detect what was missing in the model: either the causality chains you missed that should have instead been included, or the events you assumed would have happened and they didn't.

And this process will help you correct the model for the next part of the iterative process.

And going on with this iterative process will continue to be interesting, because even after you will have adjusted the model till you will take into account every single relevant factor, external factors could still change again: if a model that predicted a behavior for a long time suddenly start to go wrong, you will know that there is a new not immediately apparent factor that you've to find, and account for.

It's how science works: you make an hypothesis (a model), based on what you know and what you suspect, you make a predictions based on that hypothesis, and then check your predictions.
Depending on circumstances on what you can do, you either discard your previous hypothesis or you refine it, and the subsequent predictions, till you find your next discrepancy.

It's how science progress, step by step.
And like science results we had in the past few centuries, only because they are never perfect, they can't be by definition, this does not means they are not useful.

General Comments / Re: The Meuller Report
« on: April 23, 2020, 05:50:30 PM »
Believing that Russua ever favored Trump is the conspiracy theory that no one thinks is true. There is no one Left or Right who don't believe they did try to stick their thumbs on the scale, but everyone also knows their best interest always rested with Hillary.

Personally witnessed true story: between 2012 and 2017 I had a lot of business negotiations with Russians because they were interest in doing a potentially really big project based on one of our products (it ended in nothing after a lot of wasted money... I started out having nothing against Russians in general, even finding them mildly sympathetic, and I ended with a strong distrust and dislike of any self-styled Russian businessman or politician, but that's another story).

Anyway, I had a lot of dealings, included drunken dealings (because sometimes stereotypes are that for a reason) with some quite top tier Russians (and ex-soviet republics) politicians and businessmen.
All the Russians I talked with talked a lot when drinking, and loved to boast and express their very unsubtle political opinions. During these one-sided discussions, it was quite evident that all of them hated with a fiery hate both Obama and Hillary.
On the contrary, they were all absolutely delighted by the idea of Trump getting elected.

At some point, it came out the news that one Russian billionaire living in the US that they dealt with had edged his bets by donating to Hillary campaign too in addition to Trump campaign, and they were all gleefully commenting how this would have trashed his political support back in Moscow (they were happy because now that guy would have needed them to get back in good graces at home).

Oh, even if they loved to imply how they were controlling or influencing this or that, I don't believe the ones I was in contact with really knew or were involved in any way in such maneuvers, and if they had been they would not have talked for sure with me about that. One thing I learned about that kind of people is how much they love to brag and outright lie.

But their feelings? Those were very very clear: Obama was the devil, Hillary was the arch-devil, and once they knew Trump had won they were in heaven.

 Obama's argument props up all or nothing thinking, that no one is SOLELY responsible for thier success therefore, they owe EVERYTHING back to society. 

You read that, I don't.

So tell us Fizz, was it just your luck that had you running the company, did you take that chance from every empoyee you ever had and any one of themwould have been just a s capable and willing to do what you did, but for the fact that you received better sociatal support than every one of them?   Are you arguing that you weren't important to that success?  Did society benefit at all from your efforts that resulted in employeing 50 people and presumably providing services to hundreds more?  Was it not in societies self interest to make those investments in infrastructure that directly was repoid by you and hundresds of others that provide that society with jobs, services and products?

In order:
1. of course it was not *just* the day-to-day luck that hallowed me to accomplish that, although it helped, but it was all luck that had me be a white (well, let's say native in the dominant ethnicity) heterosexual male, with an interest and skill in a field (I.T.) right at the moment when it was booming. My brother for example is a very skilled swordsman, but apart for giving him satisfactions in sports, this skill is quite hard to monetize, and is not helping him at all at finding a decent job that he likes.
But in other ages his skill could have been the more important one.
2. no, I'm arguing that, like Obama said in the very same quote you used, "we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together", and "If (I was) successful, somebody along the line gave (me) some help", and believe me, plenty of people, even people I've never met and don't ever know I exists, had to help me getting were I got.
3. I like to think so
4. well, of course. This is exactly the argument behind an expansion of social services. You help people not only because it's the moral thing to do (and it is), but also because all in all it's in the best interest of society keeping an happy, healthy, educated and satisfied population. It's win-win. But if I then, after getting my benefits, did not pay taxes and "give back", society could not afford to do those things that were needed to bring me here in the first place and contribute these benefits to the society.

This debate does not answer whether taxes should be 95% of income - I assume fiz you think that would be too much - or whether you should be required to add 50 employees to your payrole without useful skills because they are entitled to a job; or whether they should be 5% and even basic infrastructure should be comercialzed.

First of all, I didn't see in your quote anything talking about a flat 95% rate, or taking a 100% extra 'social hires'. If such a thing was proposed in the terms you wrote, it would be of course stupid, but before I believed somebody proposed such a thing, you should show me the proposal, it's not enough for you to infer this based on your intuition on the implications. It would be quite more the already quite higher taxes and social obligations we have in my country, that would make the average US businessman run away screaming (for example, with 50 employees we *do* have a mandatory social hire, one, and we simply  found jobs that the disabled woman could do <shrug>. And we do have an union inside, even if only a couple employee felt the need to go with them, as we are quite fair in our dealings, and a lot of small other things).

(I will not go in the argument about progressive taxation rates, how they work, the history of taxation rates in the US and abroad and the effect of lack of they had on economy over time because that's a vast off-topic).

Small personal example to reinforce what Obama said, things that by the way I share 100%.
I'm a moderately successful businessman in IT. While very very very far from being a billionaire, I founded an healthy company that feed about 50 employees and whose services are used by slightly more than a million users.
I did this without having a wealthy family or investors of any kind, all bootstrapped from scratch, and I for sure worked a lot for this: there were periods when I was pulling 80 hours working weeks for months at a time, even if now I'm a bit too old to pull that kinds of time, it's a rare week that i do only 40 hours, and until very recently I never knew the meaning of the word vacation.

But I still was able to do this only thanks to having a fully working society around me.

As a kid, I learned stuff by going to a state-paid public school.

At university, I was able to study without contracting any debt even if we were not rich because our universities are state-funded.
And I met my business partner at university. I met there also other people that funded IT and non-IT companies that were among our first customers, first suppliers, and partners in this or that venture. My university was not a very prestigious one, it was a small local one because I could not afford to move to a bigger city, so most of those people were small-time like me: of course, if I had been to a prestigious university, the kind of friends I would have made would have been different, and the business opportunities different too... that's after all the true premium of those ivy league unis, right?

I had all my life completely free healthcare: when I started my company, my family was on the brink of financial ruin due to some mistakes of my father... me and my family would not have been able to afford an health insurance, so I would have had the choice to either renounce starting the company, or risk it without... and if I had done that, when in those years I had to undergo emergency surgery, I would have either died, because I would have waited too much to go to the hospital for fear of the cost, or I would have been financially ruined.
Likely my mother too would have died in those years as she too needed some surgery.
In the period when we opened a branch of my company abroad, for a couple of years I lived in a country that uses an hybrid healthcare system: you're only covered if your employer or family pay for healthcare, even if the price is state-mandated. I still remember the anxiety I suddenly felt when I realized this, when I injured a foot before I had time to organize the company properly and give myself a formal paycheck and the related insurance.. for the first time I realized how privileged I had always been for my healthcare system.

Even in my work, everything I've built depends anyway on the work of many many people out there: in our software the use of open source software and platforms and products is massive: if we had to develop everything from scratch, we would not have gone anywhere.
Even if we had used only commercial tools, all algorithms, all the theory behind what we do, comes out of academic studies and research.
Like Newton said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.", all our science and technology and art and culture is based on derivative and cumulative work across the ages.

And anyway, all my 50 employees are trained and instructed and cared for by that same society, and I need them because there is no way I could do everything that's needed to run my company alone. Some of them are quite smarter than me, in many different ways, and have different strengths and competences that I need to make everything works.

I've been lucky to develop over the course of my early life a set of skills, interests and desires that led me down this road, and I've been lucky that events turned on right a sufficient amount of time. Sure, I had some talents and will, but if some things turned the wrong way, like they did for my father, I would have failed. There is still time for that, by the way... you never know what's going to happen. If thats going to happen, I'll be glad to know that I've a societal network that should guarantee to me that at least I will not have to worry for my health, or for those of my relatives.

So, even if when the time to pay taxes arrive the thing it's always a bit painful, still I'm glad to do it, because I live in a society, I'm not Robinson Crusoe on a desert island.

(I could also mention some of those infrastructure things like road to drive to work and to customers, a national power grid, water and sanitation, the postal system, the phone lines, internet, a judiciary system, health and quality standards that make sure food and consumer products are healthy and safe, and all those thousands of little details that make a working nation, but one would hope there would be no need for that...)

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: April 16, 2020, 10:26:18 AM »
I already posted it some times ago, but regarding models and evaluating the consequences of unchecked virus on mortality: yes, models are less than perfect by definition (but this does not mean that they are useless, it's how science works even if many do not understand this), and collecting data on infected, not infected, deaths with and caused by coronavirus, and the consequences of collapsed healthcare and so on, is quite difficult in the middle of an emergency and with many disparate ways of collecting that data depending on the agency that does it.

But in Italy it have been published a study that cut across all those uncertainities by checking an unanbiguous metric, the total mortality in the month of March 2020 compared to the average mortality of the past 5 years in the month of March. (

According to this study, in Lombardy, were the virus in March was quite free to spread on an unprepared population, was double the average one. In Bergamo, that was the worst hotspot of the region, it was 4 times the average one. Please not that even in March, even with some mistakes, at least some measures were put in place to stop the spreading anyway.

Of course, even if absolutely nothing had been done, that rate would have been likely not applied forever, sooner or later all the population would have been infected.
And Italy, having the 5th longest life expectancy of any nations, with a 22% of population over 60, is also particularly vulnerable to such a virus.

But before advocating the cessation of suppression efforts, check your country/state/city total mortality, and consider what would do to it oh, doubling (without even quadrupling it like in Bergamo) that rate for, oh, a couple of months....

Anyway, as others have said, everybody is looking forward to opening up things: personally for example I've been kept apart from my life partner for two months now.
But before we do, we need to put our papers well in order: find a strategy that can be implemented to keep things working, find some therapies that works (and scientifically prove that they do work and the best way to use them), have the companies adopt strategies to keep the workers as safe as possible...

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: April 16, 2020, 09:53:18 AM »
Meanwhile, another 5.2 million hit unemployment this week. Taking the total over 22 million.

How many more do you guys think we need to put on the streets before Trump will lose the election?

I like how you go on pretending all the world, Italy, UK and Russia included, are somewhat allied to Democrats and out to get Trump out of office at the next elections by crashing all the world economy.
It makes the chemtrails idea seems reasonable in comparison.

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: April 16, 2020, 08:37:06 AM »

It was 2.2 million dead if we did nothing, 1 million if we shut down the economy.

I know it's likely useless to point this for the nth time, I should smile, stay silent, and walk quickly toward Pluto, but according that report it was 2.2 million if doing nothing, about half of that with *mitigation*, so the strategy that was encouraged by the UK at the time, you remember, the self sequestering for old people and not much more, and that was reversed moving instead to *suppression*, the current strategy.

General Comments / Re: covid-19 outside the US
« on: April 08, 2020, 12:15:18 PM »
That is in line with expectations based on China - 80% don't need hospitalization, 15% need just supplemental oxygen; 5% ICU - of those admitted to ICU 1 in 5 to 1 in 4 die.  Giving a mortality of 1-1.5%.

Yep, but if you check the sum up table, of those about 1600, 58% are still in ICU.
26% dead, 16% discharged, and 58% still in ICU.
Now, hopefully the percentage of those still in ICU that will die will be low, but still, it means it takes a loooong time to recover.

General Comments / Re: covid-19 outside the US
« on: April 08, 2020, 11:31:52 AM »
Lombardy hospitals have published a study they did on a sample of about 1600 patients admitted to ICUs in Lombardy.
There are a lot of stats about the average age, sex, previous illness of patients, but the statistic that catches the eye is that over the complete course of these patients, the final mortality of the admitted to ICUs is 26%.

(a summing up sample of the stats:

General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: April 02, 2020, 12:38:33 PM »
Istat, the Italian government statistical department, made a study about total deaths in the first three weeks of the month of March, compared to the same period in the previous five years, with the intent of studying the general increase in mortality due to the virus, including unrecognized victims of the virus, and people that died for other causes but that would have been saved if the healthcare system had not nearly collapsed due to the pandemic.

I'm sorry, the document ( is in Italian, but summing up, the average deaths during March have been at least double the precedent 5 years average, and in the most struck area it reached 4 times the average number of deaths.

Even if data is still too incomplete to calculate the proper increment in general mortality, this means that the official number of recognized deaths is quite smaller than the total amount of deaths caused by the pandemic, likely at least double the official number and maybe even more (in some towns in the disaster zone they are talking about even ten times higher).

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