Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Declaração de interesses

Para a próxima Convenção do Bloco de Esquerda sou apoiante da moção E (Pedro Filipe Soares).

Nesta altura, já os outros os devem ter posto em vigilância reforçada

Rui Machete em entrevista - «Estado Islâmico. "Dois ou três" portugueses querem regressar a Portugal»

A revelação adicional que são sobretudo raparigas ainda mais identificadora deve ser.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A definição

Paulo Pinto, no Jugular, expõe a opinião de que o chamado "Estado Islâmico" deveria ser designado por "Daesch" (creio ser o nome porque o grupo é normalmente designado em árabe) - até é capaz de fazer algum sentido (de qualquer forma, portugueses chamarem ao grupo ISIS ou ISIL não faz sentido nenhum - ou lhe dão um nome português ou um nome árabe: eu às vezes chamo-o EI ou EIIL).

Mas o que me chamou a atenção foi isto "Podemos começar por aqui: em primeiro lugar, aquilo não é um Estado, é um bando armado que controla um território pela força das armas e domina populações pelo terror e por atrocidades cometidas contra quem quer que não se submeta às suas ordens: é que, pensando bem, essa é exatamente a definição académica de "Estado" - sim, o que costuma aparecer nos livros é "entidade que detém o monopólio do exercicio da violência num dado território". Mas "deter o monopólio do exercicio da violência" e "controlar um território pela força das armas" são simplesmente duas formas diferentes de dizer a mesma coisa; e mesmo o "domina populações pelo terror e por atrocidades cometidas contra quem quer que não se submeta às suas ordens" está implicito - deter o "monopólio do exercicio da violência" implica, quase por definição, estar disposto a usar essa violência se tal for necessário para impor a sua vontade.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A estratégia a funcionar

Kerry: Saving Kobane not part of strategy - Syrian town where Kurds face ISIL onslaught is "a tragedy" but focus must first be on Iraq, US secretary of state says. (13/10/2014, 05:33)

Iraqi city falls to ISIL as army withdraws - ISIL "100 percent control" Hit in Anbar, says police colonel, after troops are relocated to reinforce nearby airbase. (13/10/2014, 12:41)

Guia simples sobre a politica externa dos EUA

Quando os EUA intervêm noutro país, isso quer dizer que só lá estão para defender os seus interesses, e também que são parolos provincianos que se julgam o centro do mundo (e portanto se acham incumbidos de resolver os problemas do mundo à sua maneira).

Quando os EUA não intervêm noutro país, isso quer dizer que só intervêm quando é para defender os seus interesses, e também que são parolos provincianos que se julgam o centro do mundo (e que portanto não se interessam pelo problemas do resto do mundo).

[Pode ser observado em ação em muitos comentários no Facebook à politica norte-americana nas guerras no Iraque e Síria]

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Portugal e a Europa, mães e pais

Hoje o Expresso noticia que:

O grau de escolaridade da mãe é o que mais determina o desempenho escolar dos alunos em Portugal, ao contrário do que acontece na maioria dos países europeus, onde as habilitações do pai têm mais peso (...)

As conclusões resultam de dois estudos recentes (...) - um do ISCTE (...) e outro do Instituto Nacional de Estatísticas do Reino Unido, que comparou o peso que cada fator tem no sucesso educativo em vários países europeus, a partir de dados do Eurostat. (...)

"Em Portugal, o filho de uma mulher com baixa instrução - que tenha, no máximo, o 9º ano - tem 7,12 vezes mais probabilidades de não prosseguir o estudos do que o filho de uma mãe com o ensino superior", mesmo estando em igualdade de circunstâncias em todos os outros fatores (...) resume ao Expresso Paulo Serafino, investigadora do INE britânico e co-autora do estudo
No Facebook, alguém perguntava que países seriam a maior parte". Indo ao estudo [pdf], à tabela da página 21 (e usando como referência a questão a linha "low ISCED level 0-2"  - que foi a usada pela investigadora, ao referir as "7,12 vezes mais de probabilidade" - comparando pais e mães) podemos verificar: a maior parte dos países europeus, em que a escolaridade do pai é mais influente, são o Reino Unido, a França e a Espanha (p.ex., em Espanha, a probabilidade - mantendo tudo o resto igual - de o filho de um homem com poucas habilitações não prosseguir os estudos é 5,81 vezes maior do que o filho de um homem com formação superior; para o filho de uma mulher com poucas habilitações a probabilidade é apenas 4,21 vezes maior); já a Áustria, Países Baixos, Itália, Portugal, Estónia, Lituânia, Letónia. Hungria e Polónia são as excepções, em que as habilitações da mãe contam mais.

A respeito disso, os autores do estudo escrevem (página 20) que  "In the UK and France, father’s low educational level has a larger impact on the odds of the respondent having low educational attainment themselves than the mother’s education, whereas in most of the other countries, the mother’s educational attainment is generally slightly more important."

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Racionalidade, definições, etc.

Um artigo que me fez lembrar muito do que se discute aqui - Rational != Self-interested, de Andrew Gelman:

I’ve said it before (along with Aaron Edlin and Noah Kaplan) and I’ll say it again. Rationality and self-interest are two dimensions of behavior. An action can be:
1. Rational and self-interested
2. Irrational and self-interested
3. Rational and altruistic
4. Irrational and altruistic.
It’s easy enough to come up with examples of all of these.

Before going on, let me just quickly deal with three issues that sometimes come up:
– Yes, these are really continuous scales, not binary.
– Sure, you can tautologically define all behavior as “rational” in that everything is done for some reason. But such an all-encompassing definition is not particularly interesting as it it drains all meaning from the term.
– Similarly, if you want you can tautologically define all behavior as self-interested, in the sense that if you do something nice for others that does not benefit yourself (for example, donate a kidney to some stranger), you must be doing it because you want to, so that’s self-interested. But, as I wrote a few years ago, the challenge in all such arguments is to avoid circularity. If selfishness means maximizing utility, and we always maximize utility (by definition, otherwise it isn’t our utility, right?), then we’re always selfish. But then that’s like, if everything in the world is the color red, would we have a word for “red” at all? I’m using self-interested in the more usual sense of giving instrumental benefits.

 To put it another way, if “selfish” means utility-maximization, which by definition is always being done (possibly to the extent of being second-order rational by rationally deciding not to spend the time to exactly optimize our utility function), then everything is selfish. Then let’s define a new term, “selfish2,” to represent behavior that benefits ourselves instrumentally without concern for the happiness of others. Then my point is that rationality is not the same as selfish2. (...)

Self-interest is the end, rationality is the means. You can pursue non-self-interested goals in rational or irrational ways, and you can pursue self-interested goals in rational or irrational ways.
[O ponto principal - e titulo - do post, de que "racional" é diferente de "interesse próprio" não tem nada a ver com a discussão que referi, mas os considerandos colaterais acabam por ter]

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Proteção ambiental e crescimento económico

Slow Steaming and the Supposed Limits to Growth, por Paul Krugman:

Environmental pessimism makes strange bedfellows. We seem to be having a moment in which three groups with very different agendas — anti-environmentalist conservatives, anti-capitalist people on the left, and hard scientists who think they are smarter than economists — have formed an unholy alliance on behalf of the proposition that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is incompatible with growing real GDP. The right likes this argument because they want to use it to block any action on climate; some on the left like it because they think it can be the basis for an attack on our profit-oriented, materialistic society; the scientists like it because it lets them engage in some intellectual imperialism, invading another field (just to be clear, economists do this all the time, often with equally bad results.) ...

A few days ago Mark Buchanan at Bloomberg published a piece titled “Economists are blind to the limits of growth” making the standard hard-science argument. And I do mean standard; not only does he make the usual blithe claims about what economists never think about; even his title is almost exactly the same as the classic (in the sense of classically foolish) Jay Forrester book that my old mentor, Bill Nordhaus, demolished so effectively forty years ago. Buchanan says that it’s not possible to have something bigger — which is apparently what he thinks economic growth has to mean — without using more energy, and declares that “I have yet to see an economist present a coherent argument as to how humans will somehow break free from such physical constraints.”

Of course, he’s never seen such a thing because he’s never looked. But anyway, let me offer an example that I ran across when working on other issues.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A confusão síria

Local struggles in Syria’s northeast (Monkey Cage, Washington Post):

The Islamic State’s spectacular killings of American journalists, persecution of various non-Sunni religious groups and victories against Kurdish forces in Iraq have overshadowed its activities in the lands where it claimed its first victories — northeastern Syria. Yet the struggle continues there, and the manner in which forces on the ground are resisting the Islamic State is laying bare alliances among local forces and the Syrian government. Many of these alliances accord with political science orthodoxy about civil wars, while others raise important questions about how civil war processes should be understood. (...)

Groups organized around regional identities ­– between the national level narrative of sectarian conflict and town or neighborhood level enmities ­– play a central role in the fighting in Syria’s northeast, a role that has not been extensively studied by political scientists. The continued importance of these regional identities during the conflict suggests a degree of structure and continuity to the fight for Syria’s northeast that should surprise observers of the conflict and political scientists studying civil wars alike. (...)

Many actors fighting alongside the Syrian government are doing so only to defend their locality, and the same can be said of groups pledging loyalty to the Islamic State or the Free Syrian Army. This point should give policymakers pause in expecting aid to localized forces allied with a particular side in the conflict to produce desired change on a broader scale. (...)

Also emergent in the conflict are several new actors formed in response to weakened state control over much of the northeast. First, the most powerful Kurdish party, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has set up its own army, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). The Syrian government withdrew from most of the Kurdish areas of the country in July 2012, which allowed the PYD to control the territory. Members of the other principal non-Arab ethnic group in the northeast, Syriac Christians, have set up a security organization called Sutoro. Far smaller than the Kurdish forces ­– unsurprising given the relatively smaller size of the Syriac population and its lack of a political apparatus equivalent to the PYD ­– Sutoro coordinates its activity closely with the PYD.

In addition, National Defense Forces (NDF) militias operate in areas outside of PYD and Islamic State control. These militia groups defend the locality from which they are recruited, rather than venturing to faraway frontlines, and are organized under the umbrella of the Syrian government. Their emergence has been a gradual response to increasing violence in Syria. When violence first began to threaten their neighborhoods, residents of many Syrian cities set up popular committees (lijan shabiya) to defend their local areas. As fighting deepened, these groups were turned into NDF militias. The militias receive uniforms and arms from the central government. (...)

The “master cleavage” of the Syrian conflict suggests that the Kurds and tribes (both of which, religiously speaking, are nearly all Sunni Muslim) should align against the incumbent, minority-held Syrian government. Syriac Christians, by contrast, should seek the state’s protection. The micro-level theories suggest that, because no group is powerful enough to dominate the others independently, alliances between fighting groups should be fluid and the identity-based justifications for them (e.g. “We are Arabs combating a Kurdish threat,” “We are Sunnis fighting unbelievers”) ephemeral. On the ground in Syria’s northeast is something between these extremes; identities below the level of the Alawite-Sunni division and above the level of local grudges between neighborhoods are a driving force in the current conflict.

The fighting in Hasakah, the epicenter of the Islamic State’s bid to enlarge its area of control, exemplifies this dynamic. Hasakah, the capital of Syria’s far northeastern province of the same name, is the intersection of several social groupings. The majority of the population is of Arab tribal background, and the city has significant Kurdish and Christian populations as well.

Historically, the Baathist Syrian government has ruled Hasakah as a colonial power might: By working through intermediaries and treating the groups the intermediaries represent differentially. The Syrian government never sought a direct relationship with its subjects in the northeast, preferring to deal with local leaders and important tribal figures. (...)

In the present conflict, this intermediate, regional level of social relations between the state and local populations continues to structure the flow of political events, as a recent battle for control of a major military base in Hasakah shows. In late July, the Islamic State began an assault on the headquarters of the Maylabiya Battalion (Fawj al-Maylabiya). Army forces in the base were unable to withstand the assault and withdrew, leaving a number of soldiers stranded in the base. With its nearest reinforcements also under siege, the government turned to the NDF to liberate the remaining soldiers, and the PYD sent its military forces (YPG) to fight the Islamic State there as well. Once the Islamic State took full control of Fawj al-Maylabiya, NDF and YPG forces surrounded the base to cut off supplies to the Islamic State fighters controlling it. In the aftermath of the events, the government set up a shared operations room coordinating the operations of the army, the state’s four security agencies, Sutoro, YPG and NDF forces, and a parallel tribal militia called the Dignity Army.

These surprising constellations of actors fighting the Islamic State are marriages of convenience, not based on ideology or personal ties of elites. There is no natural affinity between the parties. First, the official Baathist, Arabist doctrine denies that Kurds and Syriacs are legitimate residents of the ostensible Arab homeland they are defending alongside the Syrian “Arab” Army. Second, though the PYD is widely accused of collaborating with the Syrian government, there is no direct evidence of any agreement and the organization has all the reason to despise the government. The government had long hosted Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) out of which the PYD emerged, and expelled him in 1998 when seeking rapprochement with Turkey. He was captured by Turkey soon thereafter, and the Syrian government began arresting and harassing Syrians associated with the PKK. (...)

The various groups cooperating with the Syrian government are not maximizing their control of territory and resources but defending their territory, their region. As soon as Fawj al-Maylabiya fell, several groups rushed to prevent the Islamic State from taking control of the city. NDF and Sutoro forces secured their respective neighborhoods, and the YPG set up checkpoints on the periphery of the city and within many neighborhoods. The controversy over whether the NDF allowed Alawite army officers to be slaughtered by the Islamic State at Fawj al-Maylabiya further suggests the importance of region; NDF fighters rallied to hold a military base protecting their area but made little effort to save officers unconnected to their local area.

O texto é anterior à intervenção ocidental e dos países árabes conservadores simultaneamente contra o Estado Islâmico e a Frente al-Nusra ter tornado isto ainda mais confuso.

"Status" da ficção literária, cinematográfica e televisiva

Será que podemos dizer que a hierarquia de prestigio dos diferentes géneros de ficção é completamente diferente na televisão do que no cinema e na literatura?

A minha ideia - no cinema, os filmes género "drama" são considerados os filmes "sérios" e normalmente são os maiores vencedores de Óscares, enquanto os "policiais", "acção" e "aventura", "ficção científica", etc. são normalmente vistos como algo "menor" (normalmente a "fantasia" também cai aqui, ainda que as adaptações d'"O Senhor dos Anéis" tenham dado algum estatuto ao género); na literatura verifica-se o mesmo, com a agravante que o género literário correspondente ao género cinematográfico "drama" nem sequer tem nome - enquanto há literatura policial, de ficção cientifica, de fantasia, etc., a literatura-que-adaptada-ao-cinema-dá-um-filme-de-"drama" é simplesmente chamada "literatura", sem nenhum qualificativo, como se fosse o padrão.

Mas nas séries televisivas parece ser diferente - são muitas vezes as séries policiais, de ficção cientifica ou de fantasia que ganham o estatuto de "séries de culto"; já as séries televisivas correspondentes ao género "drama" - as telenovelas latinas e soap operas - é que são vistas como géneros "menores", "para donas-de-casa", etc.; e as séries estilo telenovela/soap opera que ganharam alguma "respeitabilidade" são as que introduziram em grande dose elementos de crime/mistério, como as "Donas de Casa Desesperadas" ou as "Criadas e Malvadas" (possivel contra-argumento: séries policiais que introduziram bastantes elementos de "drama" - como a "Balada de Hill Street" - foram também as que mais ganharam "respeitabilidade").