Maurizio – Omnologos

Where no subject is left unturned

Archive for May 2007

Bruno M.’s First Law of Bag Packing

leave a comment »

If you can close your bag, it means there is space for at least another item.

Maurizio’s Corollary #1: if you cannot close your bag, you are not pushing hard enough.

Written by omnologos

2007/May/28 at 18:38:58

Posted in Travel

Old World Bank

with 2 comments

An interesting if somehow obvious and subdued debate today on the BBC World Service’s “World Business Review” about reforming the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association.

I do not have much faith in any reform at any of those institutions. Just as the UN’s Security Council, they are still stuck in the 1950’s and will keep themselves that way unless some major international crisis changes the lot.

Fact is the whole system has been managed (if not designed) in order to keep the international Order firmly in the hands of Americans and Europeans.

After all it is not far-fetched to say that the whole ideas of “Third World” and “Development” were not with us until the end of World War II, the start of the Cold War and most of all the end of Colonialism.

Why would the Old Boys want to relinquish their control right now? It’s just much simpler to leave things as they stand. “Development” in this respect is a side show, as demonstrated by the absence, after six decades, of any idea on what actually can push a country out of abject poverty (apart from luck, location, and luck of location).

Written by omnologos

2007/May/27 at 20:46:16

Acknowledging a mistake…

leave a comment »

…there is no “if”, there is no “but”. There is no excuse, there is no defense.

If one really wants to acknowledge a mistake, maybe even learn from it, it’s much better to shut up, listen wholeheartedly, avoid being defensive, stop rationalizing.

Say, even if one doesn’t really believe it, pretend that the people pointing out the mistake are right. Get on their side.

Otherwise it’s going to be as useful as running in circles. Worse: it may reveal one as not actually having acknowledged a thing. Bye bye reputation!!

Written by omnologos

2007/May/25 at 21:13:11

Posted in Philosophy, Sociology

Nuclear Warming

with one comment

Is this what months and months of Global Warming scares by the UK government were all about: building up a consensus towards the re-establishment of nuclear power stations?

Tony Blair’s very last contribution to the future of Britain may as well be this 343-page Energy White Paper, with all its customary “public consultation” that will inevitably result in confirming what was already written in the white paper. Check in fact what happens when the consulted people don’t provide the “right” answer: the Governments marches on regardless.

I am quite skeptical on the feasibility of large-scale nuclear power generation, and even more so when it is blatantly advertised as a way out of purported CO2-related disasters.

Shortly: it is not clear where the uranium will come from and how long it will be available; nuclear power stations are not built in a day, a month or a year, so we’ll be lucky to see any of them providing power before the middle of next decade; sizable pieces of land will be out of reach and contaminated for centuries to come; costs are way too high (if one takes them all into consideration, and not just the marginal costs as in the usual propaganda); there is no clear plan on where to safely stock radioactive waste for thousands and thousands of years; and finally, it can all very easily become a gif waste of time and money: all it will take will be another nuclear accident, and the mood against uranium power will be on the up again.

Are we sure we want to risk all of that just to protect ourselves from CO2?

Written by omnologos

2007/May/23 at 22:06:59

Anti-evolution at the Vatican

with 2 comments

Catholic circles especially in Rome are unwisely toying with the idea of discounting the Theory of Evolution, as it would confine God “to just lighting the blue touch paper for the Big Bang” (Evolution and Religion – In the beginning“, The Economist, April 19).

Furthermore, if natural selection works with random steps, according to some people we lose the “unique, God-given role in the animal kingdom” for the human species, especially favoured by Pope Benedict XVI.

Actually, the “blue touch paper” issue is ill-posed. Even if the Universe has been created to follow Natural Laws such as Evolution, there is enough built-in uncertainty, such as in Quantum Physics, to allow any Creator to tinker at His pleasure.

And regarding man’s unique role…I would rather promote more humility…it makes little sense to try to defend one’s standing when the counterpart is… God!

Written by omnologos

2007/May/22 at 21:45:08

The High Priests of Contemporary Atheism

with 4 comments

Truly gone are the days of Epicurus.

Gone are the discussions about Free Will and the existence of Evil. Recently, some vocal atheists apper to be thinking it is time for puerile opinions instead.

Sure, many “persons without God” (including agnosticists such as Breaking the Spell”’s author Daniel C. Dennett) have a healthy respect for the experiences and beliefs of fellow human beings, be them atheists or not.

But then what can one say when an otherwise brilliant thinker like Richard Dawkins publishes without a grain of self-awareness the “Ultimate 747” argument, a so-called “definitive proof” that God does not exist?

It is a sort of an updated “who created the Creator” question that anybody with a brain can beautifully, simply and quite obviously take apart (hint: the Creator doesn’t have to be part of the Creation).

In Italy, philosophy Professor Maurizio Ferraris finds it worthwhile to spend his time arguing that Jesus is akin to Santa Claus, whilst mathematician extraordinaire Piergiorgio Odifreddi can’t even think of belief in God as anything else than irrational superstition.

Things look like going even more downhill now, with Christopher Hitchens’ new book “God is Not Great”: apparently, a masterpiece with pearls of wisdom such as asking if the Jews did not know that murder and adultery were wrong before they received the Ten Commandments.

Obviously, the problem is not with Hitchens, a professional polemicist that utters outrageous statements for a living (sort of a male Ann Coulter with just a tad less smell of sulphur). The problem is not even with Dawkins’ anti-fundamentalist crusade that truly throw the baby (Faith) with the bathwater (religious establishments).

There is a much larger issue at hand: the blind acceptance of their half-backed arguments by people evidently in need to justify their atheism to themselves.

Take for example Michael Kinsley’s review of Hitchen’s book (With brio and anger, an atheist takes on religion”, International Herald Tribune , May 12, 2007).

Mr Kinsley finds “entertaining” some blatantly silly questions such as “How could Christ have died for our sins, when supposedly he also did not die at all?” (Answer: please do read at least one Gospel, once).

Worse, Mr Kinsley is “satisfied” with (yet another?) “disproving” of the existence of God. Wow…it’s nice to know that age-old questions can finally be set aside: why don’t Messrs. Hitchens and Kinsley explain to us the Meaning of Life too?

Mr Kinsley is also quite happy to repeat Mr Hitchens’ thoughts on religious ecumenism. “if any one of the major faiths is true, then the others must be false in important respects – an obvious point often forgotten in the warm haze of ecumenism”. Boy, have they “obviously” squared the circle or what?

Do people like Kinsley and Hitchens realize how deeply, reactionarily catholic (with small “c”) is such a limited view of Faith (one God, one Truth, one World)?

How much was the Mahatma a “moron, lunatic or liar” then? That’s their definition of a modern believer. After all he did say “Non-violence requires a double faith, faith in God and also faith in man” and “One’s own religion is after all a matter between oneself and one’s Maker and no one else’s.”

Doesn’t anybody remember Quintus Aurelius Symmachus? One of the last pagans in ancient Rome, Symmachus protested the removal of the Altar of Victory from the floor of the Roman Senate by a Christian Emperor by saying “We contemplate the same stars, the Heavens are common to us all, and the same world surrounds us. What matters the path of wisdom by which each person seeks the truth?”.

(No need to waste your breath on our activist atheists, o civis Symmachus! They wouldn’t even know what you’re talking about).

Anyway, there is just the faintest of hope of some reasoning capability left in the activist atheist’s mind. Mr Hitchens writes that a sustained argument about the (non-)existence of God shouldn’t be either necessary, nor sufficient. I am sure only the most fundamentalist believers and atheists will disagree with that.

What is for atheists then the point of writing books belittling something they do not have?

Perhaps, just perhaps, one day people like Mr Hitchens and Mr Dawkins will realize that they may as well uselessly ponder on mysteries such as why a wonderful person as my wife ever fell in love with a less-than-perfect guy like me. Good luck with that!

Is this really what millennia of debates between believers and atheists have gone down to? Somebody will rightly point out that there are plenty of idiots that believe their Faith should be expressed by insulting, outlawing, threatening and killing others.

Yes, there are!

But two wrongs don’t make one right: weren’t Dawkins et al. supposed to be the Brights, the superiorly intelligent humans capable of shedding silly arguments and superstition from their lives, and from the lives of anybody that would follow them?

Why are they then switching off their brains whenever the conversational topic is Religion?

If theirs is the Light, we live in a very dim world indeed.

Like the Conquistadores in the Americas, these Brights are fighting to destroy what they can’t understand in the belief of improving the human lot. The bringing down of anything spiritual, it has become their spiritual quest. The attitude of the vast majority of their fellow humans, they consider it a primitive relic unworthy of their own perfection. Several thousand years of contributions in logic and philosophy, that doesn’t mean a thing to them.

Having discovered the “definitive arguments” for the double impossibility of proving the non-existence of any Divinity, they put themselves outside of human history. And they even gather around their books of wisdom, to accept with little sense of critique anything that is said to belittle the very idea that human being can believe in God.

It’s a hubris extravaganza.

Contemporary (activist) atheists truly set themselves in competition with God: here’s a hint of why they find so compelling to make however flawed an argument against the scandal represented by anybody not believing in their “religion of atheism”.

Written by omnologos

2007/May/21 at 21:54:19

Taking Ownership of Our Online Identity

with 2 comments

Robert M Lucky’s thoughts on IEEE Spectrum magazine for May 2007 deal with the problem that our online identities are seemingly out of our hands:

No one I know seems to like what the Internet thinks of them. It seems that there is a haphazard collection of vignettes that lack any coherence or soul.”

Well, there IS a first line of defense, and that of course is to “attack”.

As we are almost certain the Internet will talk about each one of us, then why don’t we talk about us, ourselves first?

We are free to write whatever we want in blogs, comments, articles, anything and everything that will put our preferred vignettes in that “haphazard collection“.

For all but the most famous people, internet search sites will quickly turn into showing our self-generated content on top of everything else: alas, and indeed, as each ego is the sentient being most interested into itself.

Written by omnologos

2007/May/14 at 23:07:24

Posted in Blogging, Culture