27 March 2008

Interviu cu un scriitor dizident chinez

Daca ieri BBC Hardtalk a avut un interviu cu unul dintre marii afaceristi care au aparut in China, si care nu prea parea sa dea doi bani pe lipsa de libertate politica, azi au un interviu cu Liao Yiwu (23min, RealPlayer).
Dissident writer Liao Yiwu seeks to give a voice to the people he calls "the lowest rungs of Chinese society". He spent four years in jail after writing an epic poem about the Tiananmen Square massacre and his book "The Corpse Walker" is a series of interviews with China's underclass: human traffickers, professional mourners, lepers, migrant labourers. Even this subject matter is controversial and Liao's every move is shadowed by the authorities. In a rare interview, Liao talks to Stephen Sackur about his extraordinary life and how he is recording the "voices of the voiceless".
Din interviu:
  • despre riscurile pe care si le asuma: "Following the Chinese tradition I leave this to fate. To Chinese fate is the ultimate power. I leave my destiny to fate and I can only improvize."
  • despre lipsa de libertate: "To me not having freedom should be considered normal. If this is what fate has for you, you have to accept it."
  • despre suferintele indurate: "Things you can't bear, it is best to treat them as teachers. You learn healthy and positive things from them."
  • de ce scrie despre subiecte care nu dau bine pentru imaginea Chinei: "When Westeners come here they stay at expensive hotels. To you it appears that China has really improved in copmparison to decades ago. However, the basic structure remains. Despite the changes. I feel the rich still have more rights to free speech. Ordinary people from the lower classes have much less oportunity to speak out, to tell their stories. If I didn't write about them they would definitely be buried in the darkness of history."
  • i-a iertat pe cei care i-au facut rau? "If I compare myself with free people like you I would feel very angry. However, I am only here with you for a couple of hours, while I have been with the others my whole life. Compared to their situation, I am lucky to be able to come to this point. [...] To me freedom comes from the heart. If you would like to learn the true meaning of freedom, allow me to play you the flute." (a invatat sa cante la fluier in inchisoare...)
Interviul asta mi-a adus aminte si de expozitia Humanism in China pe care am vazut-o la Berlin. O poza elocventa din colectie (din pacate nu am gasit pe net vreo galerie mai consistenta cu expozitia, si nici eu nu am pozat atunci):

25 March 2008

Internetul in China si libertatea de expresie

Un interviu BBC Hardtalk cu Tang Jun (23min, RealPlayer).
This month, China is expected to become the most wired nation on Earth, with six million new internet users every month. But China's government seeks to exert a firm hand over what its citizens can access, with "The Great Firewall of China" restricting access to news and blogging websites and limiting internet search engines. Tang Jun is the President of Shanda Entertainment, an online gaming company that's listed on the Nasdaq exchange. He's also the former head of Microsoft's China operation. Is the internet changing China - or is China changing the internet?
Foarte frustrant interviul. Acest Tang Jun este fie expresia perfecta a unui sclav, fie un mega-ipocrit. De fiecare data cand il intreaba daca cutare lucru este ok, el raspunde ca nu-si pune probleme morale, ci doar respecta legile, iar daca legea zice X atunci X este prin definitie ceea ce e bine! Destul de amuzante remarcile despre "socialism".

Ce se intampla intr-o celula

Un film incredibil facut de cei de la Harvard media: E incredibil cat de multe se stie astazi despre cum functioneaza lucrurile; cred ca marea majoritate a informatiilor in filmul asta au fost descoperite in ultimii 50 de ani. Ceea ce-i super tare e ca toate aceste procese sunt pur si simplu chimia organica in actiune. O explicatie a principiului (cum de poate aparea asemenea complexitate): The Source of All the Magic: How Enzymes Work.

23 March 2008

Richard Dawkins - Break the Science Barrier

Partea intai: Despre ignoranta stiintifica a publicului larg, si despre descoperirea pulsarilor Partea a doua: Despre paranormal, si despre pericolul "ignorantei institutionalizate a stiintei" Partea a treia: Anatomia unei descoperiri stiintifice, interviu cu Douglas Adams, si o reprezentare a istoriei vietii

22 March 2008

Razboiul din Irak dupa 5 ani

John Stweart despre cum s-au dus toate justificarile oferite initial pentru atacarea Irakului: Daca asta a fost comic, urmatoarea e chiar dureroasa - contine clip-uri din discursurile lui Bush insa puse unul dupa altul invers in timp si, ca sa vezi, pare descrierea unei situatii foarte dificile (2008, 2006) care treptat s-a imbunatatit (2005), apoi a existat un moment de rascruce (2004), iar apoi razboiul s-a terminat (2003): (A, iar Dick Cheney e cel putin sinistru - daca mai era vreo indoiala.)

19 March 2008

Cat de rationali suntem?

O discutie interesanta de la bloggingheads.tv: Will Wilkinson & Tim Harford, Free Will: Rational Actors Edition. Se pare ca suntem mult mai rationali decat ar lasa sa se inteleaga multe din experimentele de laborator care-i pun pe oameni in situatii nefamiliare. + exemple de folosire a rationamentelor economice (ce stimulente exista) in cazuri neortodoxe (pe linia Freakonomics). Topicurile discutiei:

18 March 2008

Futarhia

Continuarea la mitul votantului rational. Bryan Caplan a propus urmatorul experiment de introspectie:

Take a political belief you hold that claims that some result will come from some policy. Then, imagine betting a large amount of your own money on a concrete test of that belief. ("Win if, after congress passes bankruptcy reform, the poverty rate increases by 10% after 2 years.") Notice the change in your own frame of mind.

Una e sa votezi pentru o anumita solutie politica, si alta e chiar sa pariezi o suma mare de bani ca respectiva solutie va conduce intr-adevar la rezultatele scontate. Ideea lui Caplan este deci ca oamenii adesea voteaza irational (in sensul ca cel putin in principiu au informatiile necesare pentru a determina care-i solutia cea mai buna, insa nu exista stimulentele care sa-i faca sa se si intereseze de aceste informatii), iar rezultatul e ca sunt votate o serie intreaga de politici aiurea.

Acum Robin Hason de la George Mason University, coleg cu Caplan, a inventat un nou sistem electoral care sa tina cont de aceste probleme ale democratiei, dar care sa nu decada intr-un vechi sistem autoritar. Ideea se bazeaza pe pietele de pariuri, care sunt mult mai bune la agregarea informatiei - pentru ca participantii au tot interesul de a se informa. Ideea lui Hanson atunci e sa folosim democratia pentru a decide agenda si pe de alta parte pietele de pariuri pentru a decide solutiile: voteaza valori, pariaza pe opinii.

Democracy seems better than autocracy (i.e., kings and dictators), but it still has problems. There are today vast differences in wealth among nations, and we can not attribute most of these differences to either natural resources or human abilities. Instead, much of the difference seems to be that the poor nations (many of which are democracies) are those that more often adopted dumb policies, policies which hurt most everyone in the nation. And even rich nations frequently adopt such policies.

These policies are not just dumb in retrospect; typically there were people who understood a lot about such policies and who had good reasons to disapprove of them beforehand. It seems hard to imagine such policies being adopted nearly as often if everyone knew what such "experts" knew about their consequences. Thus familiar forms of government seem to frequently fail by ignoring the advice of relevant experts (i.e., people who know relevant things).

Would some other form of government more consistently listen to relevant experts? Even if we could identify the current experts, we could not just put them in charge. They might then do what is good for them rather than what is good for the rest of us, and soon after they came to power they would no longer be the relevant experts. Similar problems result from giving them an official advisory role.

"Futarchy" is an as yet untried form of government intended to address such problems. In futarchy, democracy would continue to say what we want, but betting markets would now say how to get it. That is, elected representatives would formally define and manage an after-the-fact measurement of national welfare, while market speculators would say which policies they expect to raise national welfare. The basic rule of government would be:

  • When a betting market clearly estimates that a proposed policy would increase expected national welfare, that proposal becomes law.
Futarchy is intended to be ideologically neutral; it could result in anything from an extreme socialism to an extreme minarchy, depending on what voters say they want, and on what speculators think would get it for them.

Articolul mare (pdf). Articolul din New York Times. Discutie pe blog-ul lui Dan Phiffer. [In romana, sistemul asta poate ca are nevoie de o alta denumire :)]

13 March 2008

Cum sa faci un stencil

Ai nevoie de: - spray - un trasparent de plastic - desenul pe calculator - un cutter - manusi chirurgicale: ca sa nu te mozolesti - masca (optional): daca planuiesti sa stai cu nasul in desen cand il faci Se scoate desenul la imprimanta pe transparent, iar apoi il tai cu cutterul (tinandu-l ca pe un creion - merge mai repede decat cu foarfeca). Pui plasticu pe ce vrei si dai cu spray. Transparentul de plastic e mai bun decat hartia (tine pentru vreo suta de stencil-uri), si oarecum mai bun decat cartonul (tine mai putin decat cartonul si e mai usor sa te mozolesti, dar iese stencilu ceva mai clar si e mai usor de decupat). Uite un model de pus pe Bordurile Videanu, care merita promovat dupa evenimentele de ieri, care au ajuns deja si in presa (Cotidianul, Evenimentul Zilei). Ma intreb oare ce o fi determinat atata atentie. La urma urmei nu e vorba decat de o singura strada intr-un cartier de blocuri. O fi doar faptul ca e vorba de Videanu, sau are de-a face si cu faptul ca lozincile sunt atat de destept gasite? Care-i schema prin care cativa oameni, cheltuind cam o ora si vreo 500 de mii de lei, au facut ceva care ajunge deodata sa fie proiectat unei audiente atat de mari? Uite si un filmulet explicativ pentru cei cu pretentii mai mari: Related: Stencils din Bucuresti si Vaslui

Bordurile lui Videanu

Videanu uitase sa se semneze pe bordurile lui. Au facut-o altii pentru el:

05 March 2008