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Messages - fizz

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1
General Comments / Re: Farewell to Ornery
« on: December 05, 2021, 06:02:56 AM »
People, I'm saying goodbye to everybody.
I've never been a particularly active contributor, because English is not my native language and writing long essays in it is quite tiring for me, and with my work I honestly do not have much time to dedicate to this, but I've lurked around here for about 20 years by now.

I arrived here like may because I liked the first couple Ender novels, was a bit shocked by learning the real OSC politics, but still remained because it was for me an invaluable insight in the way of thinking on your side of the pond, like the British would say.
Also, I appreciated the relatively civil and and well argumented style of discourse: I'm sorry to say that most of my country forums tended more to the youtube comment section kind of name-calling, than true discussion.

I had almost abandoned it, when the need to try to understand the Trump phenomenon drove me back: it was such an utterly incomprehensible thing that i had to see from the.. keyboards.. of real americans what kind of thoughts passed in the mind of a Trump supporter.

But now, I admit I'm getting tired. I'm burned out, feel the need to argue when I read some things (https://xkcd.com/386/) but I'm at the same time getting more and more resigned to the futility of any attempt at discussion.
Having a novax conspiracy theorist old father also makes that feeling hit a bit too close to home.
It may be also age, work stress and/or pandemic burn out, but nowaday when I start discussing I take it... personally.. it stresses me out, it tend to make me dis proportionally angry: where years ago I would have enjoyed it (even if as I said i was unable to do it much here), now it sends me in a bad place.

I'm thankfully already not on any social network (no twitter, no facebook, no instagram or anything else), my only media presence is here and a couple of news sites comment sections.

Sooo, i'm publicly committing myself to stop coming here and commenting. 20 years ago when I started coming here I had just quit smoking, and it kept till now, i hope I will be as good as that with internet commentary too :-p

Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish! (cit.)

2
General Comments / Re: God Exists
« on: December 05, 2021, 05:31:08 AM »
Identification and a shrug aren't a refutation or a response.

What I meant is, those arguments are from thousands of years to centuries old, have been argued extensively by a lot of philosophers that had a lot of time and experience at their disposal, and did not convince anyone that was not already sure of the existence of a god in the first place and was searching for a justification of what they already "knew" (also considering that for a whole lot of time, arguing the contrary would have earned you a direct trip to check if an afterlife do really exists or not... and I'm not even talking exclusively about the christian church: impiety was a capital crime in the ancient Greece too).

They are not solid arguments, simply.

The very first problem is that the universe is your argument that the universe is intelligible, where you merge the idea that we, limited humans, can make limited predictions about what will happen in determinate circumstances and "write down" some of the rules (idea with a good track record) with the idea that these rules must be entirely within the scope of the human mind.
It is a working *assumption* for science, because as you rightly point out not assuming it would mean throwing our hands up in surrender, and it paid off in many ways, but it's still an assumption and an hope, not a guarantee... it will work till it will work.

Also, about the things that pop in and out of existence, check virtual particles... one of the theories about the origin of the universe is that it's a vacuum fluctuation, by the way... don't have an idea if that will turn to be the case or not, but it's out there.

The main problem is arguing that an infinite regression is nonsensical: why should it be?
While difficult to parse for our normal mind, infinites pop up constantly in any attempts to deal with the above mentioned rules of the universe and the related math. It's one of the great uplifting stories of human intellect achievements  reading about the mathematicians that dealt with the concept... read about Cantor and Godel... and it's not a coincidence that those mathematicians are posterior to the philosophers that felt the need of having a prime cause.

Also, talking about a chain of cause and effects is related to establishing an arrow of time, and time we know quite well by now thanks to relativity how unreliable of a concept to take as an absolute. For example, nothing preclude having a closed causal loop, we don't observe them commonly but they would not be really so exotic.

And apart for relativity, in quantum mechanics, we have the problem that cause and effect are a bit fuzzy... they tend to be more probabilistic things, like the virtual particles and the vacuum fluctuations things I named earlier.

Moreover, once once you introduce the idea of a causeless cause, why there should be only one of them? Why not many? if there is the possibility of one, there could be another one, and another one... no guarantees...

When you then say that "with similar and smaller chain of reasoning" you can then say that any causeless cause must have the attributes you said it have, well, I know the similar arguments that Descartes made, and Tommaso d'Aquino did... if you have no new arguments, I remember reading theirs and seeing there too the same problems... an absolute effort to bend things so that what was the accepted doctrine (omnipotent, omniscient, all good etc. etc. god) turned out to be the consequence, and a lot of instances where I thought "well, you say that does imply that, I don't think so".

If you want to read a "traditional" philosopher arguing a lot using verbal logic about why those arguments did not work, approach Immanuel Kant, he was still close enough to the older philosophers style to be not too upsetting, but already can show you some of the problems in their thinking in a similar language.

Also, just for at least some of those points, I invite you to read a bit about the theodicy problem, especially related to innocent suffering (small child suffering of bone cancer, or even a gazelle slowly dying with her trachea crushed by a lion): reading most of the proposed solutions to that is a bit like seeing an uncomfortable person twisting themselves in a pretzel trying to find a justification till they yell "squirrel! (mistery of faith!)".
(just as a fun aside, I remembered this old comic being a quite funny but proper explanation of the concept: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-06-30)

Really, the great advance that science have made compared to old style philosophy, is recognizing that our minds are quite apt at making bad reasoning sound convincing of what we want to believe true no matter how intelligent we are, and so introducing those few ground rules as error correction methods.
1. Start from actual observations of the world
2. Make all the theories you want, but only if they can pass this test: use those theories to make a *testable* prediction of something that is not already included in the theory itself
3. Let other informed peers take your theories, observations and predictions and let them try to criticize the theory, and try to reproduce the observations.
4. Until your predictions are verified by your peers, know that at best your theory will be taken with quite a bit pinch of salt
5. Remember that every theory will always be taken as provisionally valid only until new theories and observation will better approximate reality: a theory can only ever be proven false, never true.
5.a (if you did a good job with predictions, take solace in that even "false" theories can still be useful, as new theories will mostly work better on edge cases, i.e. classical newtonian mechanics vs relativity and quantum mechanics)
6. as a corollary of what said before, do not deal with theories you can't test in any way as anything more than as an idle exercise, because as already stated multiple times, human minds are really really good at self deception no matter their intelligence, human language is imperfect, and it's really really easy to slip an unproven assumption and prejudice we have in what looks to us an impeccable logical chain of reasoning but it really is not. And people that follow that same assumption will all nod in agreement and perpetuate the error.














3
General Comments / Re: God Exists
« on: December 04, 2021, 07:38:04 AM »
Essentially you are re-purposing the Aristotelian concept of the prime mover, via some adaptations to christian theology from Tommaso d'Aquino and Cartesio.

<shrug> to everyone their own, I guess.

5
General Comments / Re: Predictions and thoughts on the Biden Presidency
« on: November 22, 2021, 04:40:41 AM »
You know that's a worldwide phenomenon, right?

6
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I always vote for the people who are toughest on crime
Yep. The best solution.
And because being toughest on crime is the best way to reduce it is the reason why the medieval times (or victorian London) where the safest crimeless societies ever.
And why Scandinavian countries, just as an example, are the worst hellish crime-pits of the world.

8
Well, a law is an established set of non-arbitrary rules, known to everybody to apply in a certain zone, and with a pre-determined set of penalties for breaking said rules.
The reason they were kinda of a big deal when Hammurabi introduced them (yeah, it was not really the first code, and it is not strictly speaking a true code, but for common conversation it should be enough), is that for the first time, the rules where known to everybody, as well as the penalties for breaking them (it counts as being known even if it says "in this case, if you break the rule you may get from x to y years of " etc. etc. ), instead of being enforced arbitrarily depending on the whim of the powerful guy of the moment.
Of course, being laws a human thing, they are never perfect, the application of the laws is still in the hands of humans that may be too lax or too strict, laws themselves may be insufficient to catch all the nuances of a complex human society (the reason modern law codes are whole libraries of volumes).
Still, they give a good enough guide to the behavior that a person can keep remaining safe from retaliation, and keep said retaliation to a stable level determined rationally and not under the emotions of the moment.
And they give these rules in an impersonal way: even when a law (unjustly or not) determine different rules for different class of people, they apply to the whole class, not differently for each individual depending on the whims of the moment.

When you introduces vigilantism, all this goes out of the way: there is suddenly no proper, previously-known-and-accepted rules, and all depends on the whims of the vigilante.
Its like democracy and despotism: very occasionally, in theory, you could have a despot that's a great ruler, better than a random democratic government... but that's an exception, and with very very little if at all historical precedent.
The appeal for the common man is that the vigilante, like the despot, is simple, easy to understand and direct. Usually wrong too.

9
My two cents on when vigilantism would become moral is, if we are talking strictly vigilantism, never.
It can be moral if the government is so corrupt to warrant an active rebellion toward it on the part of the "vigilante", if the vigilante justice is part of this rebellion effort toward said government, and if, as much as it's possible in the circumstances, at least attempt to follow the same guidelines of the proper future justice system (including never be simply a masked act of revenge).
Of course this presuppose that the judgement of corruption of the government is moral in itself: I would never consider a rightwing militia trying to overthrown a government on the basis of reversing social inclusion rules, or a religious fanatics movement wanting to impose religious laws, moral on the first place, and as a consequence any of their "justice" acts.

10
General Comments / Re: Vaccine Passports
« on: September 02, 2021, 03:38:33 AM »
As a small positive signal, yesterday in Italy many counter-green pass manifestations were planned in big cities railway stations.
apparently, almost nobody got there: there were more journalists and policemen than protesters.
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=it&tl=en&u=https://www.ilpost.it/2021/09/01/no-green-pass-manifestazioni/

11
General Comments / Re: Vaccine Passports
« on: August 07, 2021, 04:00:47 PM »
Just for general amusement: I was just reading that here in Italy on Telegram somebody started some groups offering to sell fake Green Pass certificates for a price of 150-350€, an obvious scam (due to some technical reasons about how it's designed, it's almost impossible to really fake the Green Pass, without ).

As the people that bought these fake certificates were not receiving it, they started organizing in groups demanding their money back and threatening to denounce the fake sellers if they did not receive either the money or a working certificate.

According to some of the messages I read in the buyer channel,  at this point many of them concluded that all of it had been a scam organized by the government to force them to get the vaccine...

At this point, the sellers answered by pointing out that they, the sellers, were anonymous, while the buyers had bought the certificates by leaving a financial trace, and providing private id card data to the sellers, and by trying to cheat on the certificate had committed a felony, so if they wanted to avoid the sellers sending *their* data to the police and generally publishing everything on the net, they had to pay another 350€ ransom.

According to people that are following the bitcoin wallet, it seems they are paying...

12
General Comments / Re: Vaccine Passports
« on: August 06, 2021, 05:45:55 PM »
I don't know how it's being done in the US, but here in Europe the Green Pass does *not* replace the need to wear masks and social distance, it simply give access to places, simplify crossing borders, and will give access to transport and so on.
And as it have already been stated by most governments, if the numbers will start to climb again, the lock downs will be back.

Considering right now the vaccine is available to anybody that wants it, without shortages or queues, it's more of a way to filter out the ones that are also usually quite lax in those other measures: most anti-vaxxers I know are also not good at wearing masks, distance themselves, washing and all the other stuff.
Also, it gives the undecided a push, to encourage them.
I know more than one person that finally decided to get the vaccine simply because so they can go on vacation this summer.

13
General Comments / Re: Andrew Cuomo went full Clinton
« on: August 06, 2021, 05:01:52 PM »
Ralph Northam. Bill Clinton. Harvey Weinstein. Jeffrey Epstein. You and your moral standards....
Never said there are no *censored* on the left, simply said the left tend to punish them much more.

Quote
That's because you only watch CNN.
Nope, sorry, you're wrong. I don't watch CNN at all, and in general my news source are a tad more international.

Quote
The term I used? Please quote the post where I used that term. You can't because you got caught up making things up and it ran away from you. I never said "circular firing squads"

This post about Jeffrey Epstein arrest down here:
Trump getting the left to line up in a circular firing squad is definitely to his credit. It’s amazing to see him accomplish this over and over again.

Quote
Like we say in America, who gives a *censored* what they say in Italy?
I know, I know, it's for this reason you're so loved all around the world, shining city on the hill and all that.
Jokes apart, you proved the comment pinpoint precise, anyway... but heh, one tries, one tries.


14
General Comments / Re: Andrew Cuomo went full Clinton
« on: August 05, 2021, 04:52:06 AM »
First, one of the main difference between the left and the right is that when some scumbag on the left does this kind of things, the left *does* distance itself, and try to do something about it.
It's called having a moral standard.
It does not always work perfectly, what does in this world, but we try.
I veeery rarely see it on the right, for sure never about guys like Trump and his crowd.

Second, after mocking the left for their "circular firing squads", the term you used, it sound a bit hypocritical complaining about not immediately hanging everybody on your side as soon as they are accused.
Let's wait and see how things turns out.

Eh, like we say in Italy, words to the winds I'm afraid...

15
General Comments / Re: Why are many managers pushing to reopen offices?
« on: August 03, 2021, 05:47:59 PM »
Talking about my company, the one I've direct experience about, the problem is not so much about the existing employees, but about the new hires.
Being a technological company, and having already had (due to quality certifications requirements for our type of activity) a full plan to remain fully operative even in complete absence of the office, at the start of the pandemic we simply had to implement it. Also, some of our employees living more distant already were used to work at least part of the week from home.

In the past two years the only employees that make regular use of the offices are the technicians that need to use the laboratory and the storage of components for our customers, and we had absolutely no problem keeping our work efficient, in many way even improving it (as an example, by the use of teleconferencing we can start an impromptu meeting without having to reserve a room, wait for everybody to reach it, lose time coming and going etc. etc.).
But we could do that because we already know each other well, everybody know their job as well, and we are generally at the moment a quite selected and reliable team.

Introducing new employees in the existing teams is instead quite harder: sitting side-by-side on a computer and doing a spot of pair programming is quite different than doing a remote collaboration session, for a new customer service operator having some of the more experienced personnel listening with at least one ear to all their calls for the first months is very helpful, and for all technicians the coffee breaks were usually invaluable opportunities to talk shop, brainstorm about the latest technologies and share stories, and generally getting to know each other.

We have a couple of new employees that we had to hire even in this period, but we are really struggling bringing them up to speed.

And it's hard for at least some of the employees too... most of us have perfectly fine home setup for work, but especially some of the younger ones would much prefer our office comfortable ergonomic chairs, multiple large monitors, high-speed fiber, ac, swimming pool, park, table tennis, etc. etc. to having to work from their bedroom.

I don't think we are ever going completely back to pre-pandemic work setup, but I also think that as soon as it is possible, we will go back to at least an hybrid system.

And by the way, we have already seen that even simply for diplomatic/commercial purpose, we have to start to go in person to meet customers: simply, "smothering fires" or closing contracts does not work nearly as well in teleconference.

16
General Comments / Re: Trump's Lawsuit against the tech companies
« on: July 20, 2021, 11:40:50 AM »
The bigger problem with banning "incorrect speech" is once the mechanisms are in place, it becomes very difficult to overcome the orthodoxy of those who get to decide what gets to be banned.

I mean hey, giving Albert Einstein the authority to ban Scientific "wrong-think" sounds like a great idea. Until you realize that he would have likely banned research into Quantum Mechanics.

Or rewind the clock back to when Einstein was working as a patent clerk, where such a system would have likely resulted in his Theory or Relativity being banned instead.

Please check the concept of "peer review" in science, that's the first step in all scientific research, and it's very much "banning incorrect speech" (really, vetting research papers to ensure the quality and adherence to verifiable facts to not waste the time of the scientists that will debate on that topic), and incidentally it was applied both to relativity and quantum mechanics.

Peer review is too often criticized... for not filtering bad papers enough!

17
General Comments / Re: New trans laws
« on: June 29, 2021, 11:36:17 AM »
I would also reiterate that the "women and children" thing is really "women and little girls", because if you have a locker room where you *can* get completely naked in front of strangers, you can already expose yourself to young kids, and this seems to be a non issue in the presented terms.

Also, the ipso-facto pervert argument, as I stated earlier, is only true in some countries: in other countries, simply doing it a bit discreetly in considered safe enough to be quite normal and have been so since forever.
 
And my counter argument is then that changing a bit our mores is worth it to be able to stop denying the inner being of a lot of people that traditionally risk being badly beaten for their status.

And if some people really are so unbearably offended by it, we can prepare other solutions like the private spaces I was referring to, instead of simply denying the problem. But I hear only complaining, not (practical, ethical) alternatives...



18
General Comments / Re: New trans laws
« on: June 29, 2021, 11:24:42 AM »
The argument seems to be that merely exposing yourself (i.e. becoming naked nearby to) to women and children in a women's locker room was previously a well-understood crime, regardless of intent. Now it becomes 'acceptable' depending on the intention of the biological male getting undressed, which seems like where the argument must lie.

In the word of Crunch:
Quote
The trick now is that any pervert can whip it out in front of women and children as long as he puts on a quick dab of lipstick and says the magic words, "I identify as a woman".

No, no, I think you're the one misreading his argument here.



19
General Comments / Re: New trans laws
« on: June 29, 2021, 07:54:47 AM »
I'll point out that a pervert that wanted to expose himself to other men or *little boys* could already do this in the exact same circumstances, and nobody seems to be terribly in panic about it as society have already found the ways to deal with that, with the usual limits that nothing in life is ever perfect.

The problem here is divided in many parts:

1. the nudity problem. One thing is a lewd act, like masturbating or touching in public, or other sexually suggestive behaviors. This is already well regulated by plenty of actual laws everywhere.

More or less innocent/temporary nudity is a bit more culturally sensitive... for example, here in Italy, it's quite rare to ever see genitals even in locker rooms: showers are individual stalls with tents, and if somebody have to change underwear first they wrap a towel around their pants.
Apart for the usual intolerant  people, here it would not be a problem what happened in that post because exposing genitals would cause troubles whatever the gender of the offender and the space where they would do it.

On the other hand, if you go to northern/eastern countries, it's quite easy to see men and women changing without any special protective care even in the open, on beaches or in parks or whatever (and I'm not talking of specific nudist beaches or things like that... those are for going around regularly naked, not only some brief moments while changing or stuff like that).

I remember at university one year I went to an international camp in Germany: we lived in a big communal area, and me as the only Italian and a bunch of Spanish boys and girls were a bit shocked the first days by the carefree attitude of the others, seeing a lot of male and female genitals (and breasts) being bared without anybody especially caring. After a bit, we got used to it. The rules are simple: you don't stare to people that get naked, you keep it discreet when you have to get naked.
There too it would be only a problem for people having specific issues against trans people, because on any beach kids can already see genitals as a matter of course (and it does not seem to be especially traumatizing).

2. what happened. Now, I don't know exactly what happened in that spa locker room, but that woman was especially vehement in attacking the trans person by strictly categorizing them as a man.

It's possible that the trans behaved badly in there (even if they were not a "fake trans using it as a trick to expose to women", category that seems to be more theoretical at this point than real, they may have been an a-hole... only because somebody belong to a discriminated category, does not mean that they can't be a-holes).

It's also possible though that she was a woman that had an axe to grind (there is the whole category of TERFs... see the previous note about belonging to discriminated category not excluding being a-holes). After all, we don't know much about the true reaction of all the other people present there... most of the articles i checked talk about the online reaction (that of course draw attention of the kind of people that
already agree with those ideas) or go directly to rants about "affront to god and nature" and such things...

3. what happens to trans people now. Trans people right now are heavily, heavily despised by a large share of the population. They are seen by those as, as an article I found online wrote, affronts to god and nature, intrinsically perverts, disgusting and a lot of other things. When they have to deal with other men, this often results in violence toward them at staggering rates.
Having to go in a man's locker room or bathroom "dressed as a woman" would then expose these people to real concrete danger.

I'm sure a lot of people that deny the existence of the "trans" category see this problem having a simple solution: don't go around as recognizably trans.
Well, sorry, but for those of us that are starting (the road is still long) to recognize the right of everybody to express their inner self that's not a solution.

Everybody freedom is a bit like a bubble: it expand till it does impact the freedom bubble of another person. Some may say, I don't want to have trans people around, have to see them doing things I consider immoral, seeing their genitals and so on. But other people say I want to be able to be myself, express myself as the gender I feel to be, for whatever reason, and don't be in danger because of it.
Finding the right balance between these things is a matter on one side for the social community, and on the other side for the state to write down as laws and rules, and this should be done based on priority of dangers, level of damage to the one whose freedoms are denied, and ideally even if unavoidably only very little on number of discomforted people (plus, of course, practicality of the solution).

When the public attitude is changing, unavoidably this process is going to be fraught with false starts, errors, trials and so on, till we reach a new equilibrium. During this process there may be debate and trials and errors, as as humans are humans, there will always be some a-hole trying to use a new rule to their advantage (like they always used any rule to their advantage).

Still, we should not allow people whose real point is "I want my personal freedom of wanting everybody to conform to my personal set of rules and morals or at the very least not offend my eye by behaving differently anywhere I may see or be aware of them even when nobody is really harmed by it" to change the discourse by exaggerating small dangers or inflate little practical difficulties.

My solutions to these problems? Oh, I don't know... talking ooma (out of my ...), without any access to reports, already existing law codes, psychologists consultations and so on, I would likely mandate the realization of a special dedicated space for trans people (or I guess any people uncomfortable with public nudity) people in any place where you *have* to expose yourself, like open-space showers and so on.
You could make it mandatory for new buildings, with a grace period for updating existing ones, and requiring a "trans may use the space they prefer but must not expose their genitals when doing it".

We had here something similar with accessibility rules here: all public places have to have a closed, single person, dedicated accessible (usually mixed) bathroom. Any other bathroom you may have, must be in addition to at least this single one (of course, if there aren't others, anybody may use it, not only disabled people). It took some years to get most buildings up to code, but now it's available everywhere.

Where the problem is simply a restroom with closed stalls, I don't see any problem in letting trans people go wherever they feel more comfortable. If they harass somebody, it's already illegal and they could do it even with the restroom limited to binary sexuality if they wanted to, if they don't and somebody still feel offended, though.

About the sport thing instead, oh, i don't know enough about sports... personally I would allow anybody do whatever they want, maybe introducing some "weight category" like they have in boxing where it could lead to serious problems, like with contact sports (I would note that in those categories this would also help cis-but-small boys compete in such activities).
But I don't really know about what's involved, I would say this would be a matter of discussion for a serious non-political panel of medics and biologists... maybe setting some basic biological parameters to determine which category you may compete in?
I repeat, i don't know, but if the objective is finding a way that allow everybody to self express freely and still compete fairly, instead of simply "either male, female or get out of here", something can be worked out.
 

20
General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: June 26, 2021, 12:55:46 PM »
Quote
It's just interesting how fast the masks came off with Biden after all that time with the drumbeat of mask, mask, mask. Masks work. Well... until we need to push the vaccines and now the masks won't save you and that shot in the arm is your only hope and your only option.

Unless you think most of Europe too dance to the tune of the US political battles, I would say that Biden have not much to do with this.

Right or wrong, this is the moment where most of the masks are coming away. Starting from Monday, for example, all of Italy will be in "white zone", with most (not all ofc) restrictions lifted, no more mandatory masks outside, and only mandatory inside if not keeping the appropriate distance.

Vaccinations plus summer are, for now, driving new infections to very low numbers, and as people are mightily tired of all the situation, consequently a relaxation of the rules a bit everywhere.

Is it a mistake, and will we find ourselves in the  midst of a new wave coming autumn due to variants, opening of borders, relaxing of rules?
I don't know, honestly, but still I would be cautious developing too much of a conspiracy mindset and attributing this to anything else than simply a reaction to changing circumstances.


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We see it's the same type of false narrative to push an agenda too as the first time when our government came out and said stop buying masks because they don't work. They wanted to save the masks for the healthcare workers precisely because they do work. Now instead of saying don't mask they tone it down a bit and just don't even mention masks at all and it's for the agenda of pushing a vaccine only approach.

You know that's not what happened: first, you've to distinguish two categories of "masks working" definitions.
The first is "the mask protect its wearer from contagion", the second is "the mask helps stop spreading contagion in the population".

For the first category, masks works, but only if they are the very high quality ones, applied with a lot of care by trained personnel, and even then if the viral load the wearer is exposed to is very high, they may be insufficient.
At the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of people thought wearing a mask was like some kind of anti-virus amulet, and started getting the most high quality ones, that were (from this point of view) useless to them, while they were needed from those professionals (medical or related) that, due to their work, *have* to be exposed to the virus.

For the second, you can be much more relaxed: even relatively low quality masks, worn with no special care, help reduce spreading virus from an infect individual (maybe asymptomatic) to everybody around him. So making mandatory mask wearing for everyone, especially in closed environment, help from a society point of view slowing the spread by making it so that every infect individual keeps their own virus for themselves.
And the kind of masks that you need for this are much cheaper, and useless for the professionals anyway, so it's not a problem making them mandatory.
And note that at the beginning of the pandemic we did not know exactly how the virus did spread in the general population: it's different what happens in an hospital environment, with a lot of people with extremely high virus loads, another one how it was passing from citizen to citizen.
This is the reason at the beginning there was so much emphasis also on the surface cleaning and disinfectants.

Also, nobody especially like wearing masks, they are uncomfortable and a bother, but honestly the only ones I hear constantly complaining about them to the point of disobeying the rules are the same ones that also refuse vaccines and "really, it's all a government conspiracy for <insert reason here>", and this people (at least in every single instance I'm aware of) are usually right wingers, especially if we are talking about politicians promoting this point of view.

21
General Comments / Re: So will you take the vaccine?
« on: June 22, 2021, 06:36:09 AM »
And I just got my EU Digital Covid Certificate, that will allow me to cross borders, participate to events and generally go around almost like the before-time.
Even if they are going to take away the mandatory mask when outdoors, and even if vaccinated, just in case I'm going on avoiding too crowded spaces and keeping distancing whenever possible, but it will still be a relief. With a non-italian partner, it's useful having an easier way to cross borders to be able to go visiting relatives, and going on vacation.
I hope some screwy variants (or stupid humans) will not come to ruin things for everybody yet again.

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General Comments / Re: So will you take the vaccine?
« on: June 18, 2021, 04:44:50 AM »
I had the Pfizer, first and second dose. Had only some mild pain on the injection site as side effects... maybe also a bit more tired, but may be it was all in my head.

My mother was the same. My partner the same. *Her* brother and parents had some fever and were knocked out by it the day after, but it went as quickly as it came.

My brother had covid, so now he's waiting for his single shot of vaccine (having had covid is only a mild coverage, it seems, in fact even if they are not common, there are people like a colleague of my partner that had covid *3* different times already... all of them mild, but still felt. Public government guidelines here is that you have a 6 months "green" flag after recovering from covid, while a 9 months after the second vaccine shot, or first if you also had covid).

My dad is a no-vax conspiracy theorist, so for him I've to cross fingers and hope: this covid thing have been bad for his mental status, sending him a bit over the edge.. my mom tells me he's at the point of haranguing random people that he meets while shopping or doing anything... and of course refuses masks, and if obliged to wear them, he wears them wrongly on purpose... sigh.


23
General Comments / Re: Terrible electricity problems
« on: June 16, 2021, 05:46:59 AM »
This week we also had a Last Week Tonight service on AC (or lack of it) in US prisons (with Texas being the mostly talked about state, but also pointing out that they were using it because it was the one were this was most documented, not because it was the only one).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fiRDJLjL94

I wonder what also lacking electricity will do to *that* problem...  (joking, I've few doubts about what will happen)

24
As an IT guy, the blockchain technology is interesting, even if it looks more like a solution in search of a problem than anything, and suffering a bit from the ancient database curse that those that do not understand the CAP theorem are condemned to reinvent ACID.

The practical implementation, the way bitcoins were designed, with the intrinsically deflationary value of a progressively harder difficulty for each new bitcoin mined, was intended from the start to work more like a cross between a virtual version of gold and a Ponzi scheme.

It creates an artificial scarcity where there is none, it burns very real energy and resources and leads to scarcity of new computer chips (or storage, with some of the last cryptocurrencies), to deliver no real service apart for a pretty weak anonymity and to move a large amount of money from the pockets of the late comers to the pockets of the first that invested.

(About the use as a currency, I will point out that a service that consume for each single transaction as much energy as nearly a million VISA transactions, and that have an hard theoretical transaction limits of 10 transaction per second worldwide -in practice much less- is not going to be a sane replacement for any real currency).

I find ironical that so many of the people that jump on the bandwagon of the cryptocurrencies do so attracted by the perspective of being able to get huge earnings easily, simply by virtue of being "first" there, and not by hard work and creating nothing of value anywhere, are the same people that would call an unemployed man on welfare a parasite...

P.s. Charles Stross dedicated a post to cripto-currencies few weeks ago, with his modest proposal to Musk... it's amusing, and in the comments section there are a lot of interesting comments too.
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2021/05/because-i-am-bored.html

25
General Comments / Re: Trump 2024 Presidential Campaign Slogans
« on: February 17, 2021, 02:08:23 PM »
Quote
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.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/17/texas-power-blackout-weather-cold

26
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.

 

27
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).

28
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 (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/10/france-begins-to-confront-decades-of-neglect-of-incest-cases).

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.

29
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.





30
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.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2820%2932750-1/fulltext

31
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" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio
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: https://xkcd.com/1357/

32
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.


33
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

34
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...
 

36
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.

37
General Comments / Re: Now you've done it
« on: January 11, 2021, 02:20:07 PM »
Mandatory xkcd free speech comic:
https://xkcd.com/1357/

38
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.

39
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.

40
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.

41
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.

42
General Comments / Re: coronavirus
« on: December 01, 2020, 06:53:20 AM »
Quote
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.

43
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.

44
General Comments / Re: Election Results
« on: November 06, 2020, 08:54:58 AM »
In the last update, in Pennsylvania, now its +5594 for Biden

45
I've to say, thank to this site I've understood a lot about craziness.

46
when talking about defining what's fascism, it's always useful having read Umberto Eco old classic article:
Ur-Fascism

47
General Comments / Re: Town halls and debates 2020
« on: September 30, 2020, 01:52:24 AM »
Not only Canada.

48
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.

49
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: https://justpaste.it/8yr9e

(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).

50
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).

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