Maurizio – Omnologos

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Archive for November 2006

What makes people lose their cool?

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Nothing makes people lose their composure as much as Global Warming

It is now the turn of Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer, a very funny, knowledgeable, interesting blogger that in fact has posted an entry about the importance of critical thinking, and of being able to concentrate oneself on the things that matter, instead of the latest scare stories

 …only to follow it up with TWO entries about “global warming”, “it’s too late”, “Exxon Mobil is evil”

Let’s apply Phil’s critical thinking here. No one in the US has died of climate change, and yet we hear about it all the time. Sure, it’s a threat, but not nearly a big one as regular climate

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/28 at 11:16:16

Climate Change’s Toothless Circus

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Thousands of delegates have been flown to giant air-conditioned conference and hotel rooms in Nairobi, plus journalists, TV crews, etc etc, all eating lots of food and drinking plenty of water (and more…), neither likely to have been mass-produced locally

And the most likely outcome is…the usual wishy-washy Climate Change rubbish

Is there anything to worry about the Climate Change circus? I am starting to think, there is not

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/17 at 14:15:05

This is a test

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Apologies, I need to properly test FeedBlitz for this blog…

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/13 at 00:25:57

Posted in Uncategorized

Catastrophilia at the NYRB

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The juxtaposition in the Nov 16 issue of the New York Review of Books, of Bill McKibben’s “How Close to Catastrophe?” with Garry Wills’ “A Country Ruled by Faith” is deeply telling of the fashionable status of catastrophism in a varied set of social and cultural strata, from evangelical right-wingers to climate-concerned scientists

Wills laments the influence on the White House of “premillennial lack of concern for the earth’s fate as Jesus’ coming nears” and the related support of the Iraq War as “a focal point of end-time events” (in the words of evangelical writer Tim LaHaye)

For his part, McKibben may not expecting “Jesus’ coming” any time soon, but, ironically, he is really onto big thoughts about “end-time events“: perhaps of a climatic rather than theological variety; “scientific” rather than faith-based

Still, the language used by McKibben is remarkably similar to any Millennial cult’s

We are repeatedly lead towards believing in James Lovelock’s dire predictions for Earth to become a red desert. Ice is melting faster, and if we don’t do something by 2015, we will find ourselves crossing “a threshold” and creating “a different planet

Lest the reader misses any of the points, McKibben writes with conviction that “a wave large enough to break civilization is forming

Is that the same person that ends the article by suggesting that what “we need most badly is the technology of community—the knowledge about how to cooperate to get things done“?

One only wishes McKibben would practice as he preaches, and stop using the language of fear, to substitute it with a deeper appreciation and respect, also for the community of his readers

ps There is one factual error. McKibben writes about a “homeostasis” that somehow has managed to keep the planet’s “temperature, at a relatively stable level“. What stable temperatures? Global temperatures have been swinging widely for billions of years, and just a few thousand years ago ice sheets were covering plenty of the Northern Emisphere

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/10 at 01:46:02

Long Live the European Dream

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It is encouraging to see that there are still politicians courageous enough to stand out of the crowd, as Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt does when speaking the simple, yet inexplicably unorthodox truth that the European Union’s very lifeline resides in its outward expansion (“Open wide Europe’s doors”, November 7)

Inspired by a historic opportunity of peace, (or more likely,  unwittingly), EU leaders have been creating for the past 40+ years a community of states perhaps like no other: something like a mixture between a Honors Club, accessible only after passing tough exams on civil rights, infrastructure and the fight against corruption; and a peaceful Roman Empire, forever beaconing the people outside its borders to join in the benefits of free movement for people and goods

And just like the Roman Empire, the European Union will start to die the day it decides it has expanded enough, and cannot go any further

Only the lack of visionary politicians such as Mr Bildt could prevent the EU as an Association of States to move beyond the arbitrary definition of what Continental Europe is, and embrace all Asian and African nations capable to “pass the grades” (apart, perhaps, from the already-giant states like Russia, China, the USA)

May that be our future, I really hope: and not the whining, embrittled EU of those too afraid to continue the European Dream

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/09 at 01:46:13

Posted in Democracy, EU, Politics

The Economist…and the economists

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(Letter sent to The Economist)

Dear Editors

One wonders how much to read in what you don’t appear to be daring to explicitly write, in your commentary about Sir Nicholas Stern’s review of the economics of climate change (“It may be hot in Washington too“, Nov 2nd 2006)

Let’s see: Sir Nicholas, the “head of Britain’s government economic service” and with a past in very senior positions at the World Bank, delivers a series of economical figures…perfectly in line with what is politically needed by the commissioner of his latest effort, Gordon Brown

Contrarily to the Financial Times, only very obliquely you suggest that all that economics may as well have no value (apart of course from Mr Brown’s effort to get “America involved in the global effort to mitigate climate change“)

All in all, Sir Nicholas’s report may end up being remembered as a travesty of economics

Do you really hold expert economists in such a low esteem, not to feel any outrage at seeing their profession so heavily manipulated for political ends? And if that is true, what is the point of your Buttonwood and other economics columns?

One may even ask, what is the point of your magazine? Why not close it down, perhaps, to open it anew as “The Politician”?

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/05 at 18:26:33

King Kong: Straight to Disk 2

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Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” may be the first case of a movie for which the main DVD disk is not the one to watch

Plenty of amazing graphics in the main movie, of course, but they all looked (a) taken straight out of The Lord of the Rings (one would expect Trolls to appear at any time); (b) quite un-natural (see the scene where the T-Rex runs after the Belle, despite having a much larger dinosaur in its mouth); and (c) pointless; most of the special effects added little or nothing to the story (eg: the disgusting giant worms get their 15 minutes of fame and that’s it)

The story is boring and empty of the slightest hint of a soul. Somebody please collect signatures for a petition to all Hollywood producers to cancel all remakes that try to be good by following the originals to the letter (I know, I know, sometimes there is the opposite danger, like in that other this-is-not-a-simian-masterpiece by Tim Burton, called “the re-imagined Planet of The Apes”)

The much-vaunted human-like movements of the Big Gorilla are nothing of the sort. Most of the time the Beast looks perplexed: and who could blame him for pondering what sort of disgraceful act in his previous life could have got his soul to be re-born in the hands of Mr Jackson?

See what happens when you chomp on a defenceless woman in 1933’s New York City!

Finally, on a positive note, what about the indigenous of the island, and the dark-skinned Hairy Hero? I have already mentioned in the past (“Kong Sapiens“) that the 1930’s version of King Kong hinted too many times to its main character being a Black Savage bent on raping the White Girl, and somehow redeemed by her beauty in the process

In Jackson’s movie those hints are absent or greatly underplayed. The racial character of the humans found on the island is not extremely clear, in any case not as much as their inadequacy to survive. And you’re never lead to imagine King Kong sporting an “afro”

Anyway, the only thing to save from this disaster is DVD #2 and its engaging, imaginatively rich explanation of the story behind King Kong’s island

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/03 at 21:48:18

Posted in Culture, Movies

The Four Horsemen of Atheism

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There is plenty of people more qualified than me to debunk yet another “contribution” to the Atheism-Faith debate, just published on Italian Sunday newspaper  “Domenicale Sole24Ore” (Maurizio Ferraris, “Not knowing What To Believe“, October 29)

Anyway, here I propose a classification, from the point of view of the Person of Faith, of Contemporary Atheism in four categories: Indifferent, Devout, Faraway and Economic

(1) Indifferent Atheist is a person with no interest whatsoever in the Divinity and Religion: and with whom the only meaningful dialogue for the Believer will be about sport, cinema or television

(2) Devout Atheist sees religion as a series of moral precepts useful to manipulate this or that social reform: in a sense, the Devout Atheist resembles more the Antichrist than a person with whom to start a serious conversation on Religion

(3) Faraway Atheist thinks like Ferraris, and whilst not possessing faith, pretends to reduce it to a fairy tale for children and/or idiota. This view of the world makes no distinction between Jesus Christ and Father Christmas; comes out with monstruosities such as “He who believes in an Infinite God, believes in everything“; reduces religious tradition to an accountant’s sheet of dogmas to follow in order not to be “heretical” (a naive point that will sound ancient to Roman Catholics, and completely stranger to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc etc). One would expect Ferraris to burst into laughter at the mere presence of a Person of Faith in the same room as him: hardly the best and most rational attitude (Ferraris is obviously not alone: see Richard Dawkins in “The God Delusion” and Daniel C Dennett in “Breaking off the Spell: Religion as Natural Phenomenon”)

(4) Economic Atheist finally, understands that a serious non-indifferent Atheism that aims at least to understand the why Believers exist, must learn from the recent revolution in Economics: where the hyper-rationalist Homo Economicus of the old theories has been replaced with a person who follows a systematic logic, simply not mathematical logic

And it is only with the Economic Atheist that there is any meaning, for the Person of Faith, to discuss Religion. Not having the prejudice of considering Faith as synonymous of irrationality, the Economic Atheist will indeed be open to an exchange of ideas (sadly, not a given as it should be)

Facile discourses in religious topics by Atheists of other types, are worth as much as a women-only bathroom on Mount Athos, the famous Greek monastery on whose territory only men are allowed

Written by omnologos

2006/Nov/02 at 00:03:14