Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Uma modesta proposta em defesa do copyright perpétuo

Eternal Copyright: a modest proposal, por Adrian Hon (Daily Telegraph Blogs):

Yet now, as we've instituted decade-long jail terms and unlimited fines for copyright infringers, it's time to take the next step in extending copyright terms even further.

Imagine you're a new parent at 30 years old and you've just published a bestselling new novel. Under the current system, if you lived to 70 years old and your descendants all had children at the age of 30, the copyright in your book – and thus the proceeds – would provide for your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

But what, I ask, about your great-great-great-grandchildren? What do they get? How can our laws be so heartless as to deny them the benefit of your hard work in the name of some do-gooding concept as the "public good", simply because they were born a mere century and a half after the book was written? After all, when you wrote your book, it sprung from your mind fully-formed, without requiring any inspiration from other creative works – you owe nothing at all to the public. And what would the public do with your book, even if they had it? Most likely, they'd just make it worse.

No, it's clear that our current copyright law is inadequate and unfair. We must move to Eternal Copyright – a system where copyright never expires, and a world in which we no longer snatch food out of the mouths of our creators' descendants. With eternal copyright, the knowledge that our great-great-great-grandchildren and beyond will benefit financially from our efforts will no doubt spur us on to achieve greater creative heights than ever seen before.

However, to make it entirely fair, Eternal Copyright should be retroactively applied so that current generations may benefit from their ancestors' works rather than allowing strangers to rip your inheritance off. Indeed, by what right do Disney and the BBC get to adapt Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, and Sherlock without paying the descendants of Lewis Carroll, the Brothers Grimm, and Arthur Conan Doyle?

Of course, there will be some odd effects. For example, the entire Jewish race will do rather well from their eternal  copyright in much of the Bible, and Shakespeare's next of kin will receive quite the windfall from the royalties in the thousands of performances and adaptations of his plays – money well earned, I think we can all agree.

Naturally, we'll need a government-controlled bureaucracy to track the use of copyrighted material from all of history and to properly apportion royalties to the billions of beneficiaries in a timely manner. There are some downsides; for example, we can expect countless legal cases to spring up concerning the descent of various famous creators, which will unfortunately gum up our courts for the indefinite future, but it's a price worth paying in order to put things right.

A bold idea such as Eternal Copyright will inevitably have opponents who wish to stand in the way of progress. Some will claim that because intellectual works are non-rivalrous, unlike tangible goods, meaning that they can be copied without removing the original, we shouldn't treat copyright as theft at all. They might even quote George Bernard Shaw, who said, "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

Such opponents are condoning criminal activity, plain and simple, and are frankly no better than criminals themselves. Why would anyone want to create new ideas and intellectual works if they can't benefit from them in perpetuity? Are we to believe that people have motivations other than the purely financial and quantifiable? And are they suggesting we should continue to allow modern "creators" to sully the legacy of legends like Jane Austen and Hans Christian Andersen with their pointless, worthless adaptations, remixes, and reinterpretations of Pride and Prejudice and The Emperor's New Clothes?

In the interests of full disclosure, I do want to point out a genuine problem with Eternal Copyright, in that it will be difficult to enforce due to the inherently criminal nature of digital technology, which allows information to be copied perfectly and instantly. Absent a complete ban of the technology, which admittedly would be a little draconian, one obvious solution would be to hard-wire digital devices to automatically detect, report, and prevent duplication of copyrighted material. Yes, this might get the libertarians and free-speech crazies out protesting, but a bit of fresh air wouldn't do them any harm.

Certainly we wouldn't want to listen to their other suggestions, which would see us broaden the definition of "fair use" and, horrifically, reduce copyright terms back to merely a lifetime or even less. Not only would such an act deprive our great-great-grandchildren of their birthright, but it would surely choke off creativity to the dark ages of the 18th and 19th centuries, a desperately lean time for art in which we had to make do with mere scribblers such as Wordsworth, Swift, Richardson, Defoe, Austen, Bronte, Hardy, Dickens, and Keats.
Do we really want to return to that world? I don't think so.
[Via Lew Rockwell]

A "luta de classes" e as eleições nos EUA

Why Obama Will Embrace the 99 Percent, por Nate Silver (New York Times):

Obama’s most likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, continues to rate as a “generic Republican.” In fact, he now scores at exactly 50 on the 100-point scale from centrist to extremist. That means an election against Romney, like Bush’s against Kerry, would mostly be dictated by the fundamentals of the economy and by evaluations of Obama’s job performance. With 2.5 percent G.D.P. growth from now through November, Obama would be a 60 percent favorite to win the popular vote. 

The popular vote is one thing, however. The Electoral College is another — and Romney could have more vulnerabilities there. 

In recent weeks, Obama has taken a more populist approach (just read the transcript of his State of the Union address). The strategy has induced more howls than usual from Republicans about “class warfare,” but the White House has clearly studied the numbers. In the Republican primaries, Romney has had trouble winning the loyalty of working-class voters, especially in the Midwest. And recent polls suggest that Romney, who has a penchant for making intemperate comments that draw attention to his wealth, could struggle among that group in the general election as well. 

So let’s conduct a thought experiment. Suppose that against Romney, Obama does 10 points better among white voters whose households make less than $50,000 per year. The trade-off is that he does 10 points worse among whites making $100,000 or more and 15 points worse among whites making at least $200,000. 

In terms of the popular vote, this would almost exactly balance out. The effect would be more substantial, however, in individual states. 

In wealthy Virginia, Obama would lose a net of 2.5 percentage points to Romney under these rules, according to the demographics from the 2008 exit poll there. He would also be harmed by 2.7 points in Colorado. And Romney would have a chance of putting New Jersey into play, because he would gain four full points there. (...) 

But Obama doesn’t need to win many new states. His challenge will be in holding the ones that might turn red. And pursuing a populist strategy against Romney could put him at a big advantage. 

Consider the Midwest. By trading votes among wealthy whites for more among working-class ones, Obama would bolster his margins in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. Indiana, a state that otherwise looks like a very tough hold for Obama, also contains a high percentage of working-class whites, and he could gain a few points there. 


All told, there are 101 electoral votes in swing states that Obama could either put into play or make more secure under the populist paradigm — well more than the 36 he might lose among Virginia, Colorado and New Jersey. 

The reason for the imbalance is that most wealthy whites do not live in swing states but in enclaves that the sociologist Charles Murray calls SuperZIPs. Most of these are in states like New York, California, Maryland and Massachusetts that are very far from being competitive. (There are also a significant number of SuperZIPs in the Dallas and Houston metro areas in Texas, but Obama probably wasn’t going to win the Lone Star State anyway.) 

But what if Rick Santorum were to steal the Republican nomination away from Romney? After his sweep of the contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Feb. 7, he looks like a more viable candidate — one who doesn’t seem as beholden to the 1 percent as Romney does. He has been successful at making Obama’s supposed elitism a theme of his campaign. And he is more conservative on social policy than on fiscal policy, which runs against the consensus view in the Virginia and New Jersey suburbs but puts him in line with the preferences of middle-income voters in the center of the country. 

Still, Santorum, who rates as a 68 on the ideology scale (the same as a less-plausible nominee, Newt Gingrich), would probably be weaker than Romney in the popular vote. According to the model, Obama would be a 77 percent favorite to win the popular vote against Santorum given 2.5 percent G.D.P. growth.
Republicans wouldn’t care about that, however, if Santorum carried Ohio and Michigan — and perhaps even his home state, Pennsylvania — places where economic concerns tend to take precedence. Under these conditions, in fact, Republicans might be able to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.
Nesta linha, há uns dias uma sondagem feita apenas nos "estados oscilantes", indicava que nestes Santorum teria mais chances que Romney de derrotar Obama (mas isto foi antes de Santorum ter alegadamente sido cilindrado no último debate...). Será que os Democratas que estão a pensar votar Santorum nas primárias Republicanas para lançar a confusão não estarão a cometer um erro muito grave?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Keynesianismo, salários reais e nominais

Luis Pedro, no rabbit´s blog:

"Ainda por cima, é uma opinião perfeitamente coerente com o resto do Paul Krugman. Ele é um Keyenesiano, logo provavelmente acha que os salários são sticky (isto é, não baixam facilmente) e é preciso inflacção para os descer em termos reais. Não tem parado de o repetir."
Pelo que tenho lido do Krugman, não me parece que o essencial da ideia dele seja (ou deixe de ser) descer os salários reais; dá-me a ideia que o ponto central dele é mesmo os salários nominais (ou, mais exactamente, o diferencial dos salários nominais entre a Alemanha e os PIGS); inclusivamente, ele parece-me ter a tese que a solução é, ou baixar os salários nominais em Portugal, ou subir os salários nominais na Alemanha (raciocínio que não me pareceria fazer grande sentido se o busílis da questão fosse os salários reais). Por outras palavras, pelo que tenho lido do Krugman, acho que ele acha que (pelo menos no que diz respeito à "competitividade"; não no que diz respeito à dívida) para Portugal seria melhor, digamos, uma descida de 10% dos preços e de 5% dos salários do que uma subida de 10% dos preços e de 5% dos salários.

Was Napster the day the music died?

Pelos vistos não, talvez muito pelo contrário:

Is the Sky Falling? The quality of new recorded music since Napster, por Joel Waldfoger (VoxEU):

A dozen years ago a program was created called Napster. It made it easy for ordinary people to download music from their friends and people they had never met. Despite the rock ‘n’ roll ideals of free music for everyone, it changed the music industry forever – some would say for the worse.

Since then, intellectual property rights have been substantially weakened. Unfettered stealing has caused revenues to the recorded music industry to tumble by roughly one third. While this reversal has prompted academic chin-scratching over its cause, most observers now agree that consumers’ ability to steal music undermines firms’ ability to sell it. The woes of the recorded music industry, along with fears of the movie, television, and book industries, have led many to advocate stronger legal protections for intellectual property, including private lawsuits, and threats of disconnection from internet service.

While the question of whether stealing undermines selling is of vital interest to the recorded music business, it is arguably not the only important question for evaluating the success of intellectual property rules. The purpose of copyright laws is to provide incentives for the creation of new works. Weakened intellectual property protections present a threat to consumers as well as producers. If producers cannot appropriate sufficient revenue to cover their costs, they may stop bringing new products to market, causing harm to consumers as well as producers. Keeping this in mind focuses attention on a different question. What has happened to the volume – and quality – of new works since Napster? (...)

Documenting the volume of high-quality work is challenging, but in recent work I have developed three approaches to characterising the evolution of music quality over time. (...)

Results are interesting. The airplay data allow me to infer vintage quality back to 1960 and exhibit the following pattern (in Figure 2) - quality rises from 1960 to 1970, then falls and remains flat from 1980 to about 1999, with a small bump up in the mid-1990s. After 2000, vintage quality rises sharply, reaching levels not seen since the 1970s. The sales data, which produce an index going only back to 1970, suggest a similar story - vintage quality declines from 1970 to 1980, is flat to 2000, then rises after 2000 (see Figure 3).

Two points are in order about these results. First, the three approaches, while independent of one another, produce broadly similar patterns from 1960-2000. Second, none of the three approaches shows a decline in quality following 2000; and two of them – based on actual music usage – show substantial increases.
 [Via David Henderson]

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trailers alternativos

Como a música e a sequência das cenas podem fazer a atmosfera de um filme (pelo menos, para quem só veja o trailer):

Mary Poppins:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A crise do euro em formato interactivo

So, what would your plan for Greece be?, por Daniel Davies (Crooked Timber), expondo (do ponto de vista de um consultor da troika) as várias "soluções" para o problema da Grécia, sob a forma daqueles jogos "se escolher a opção a), vá para a página 13; se escolher a b) vá para a 25".

Um exemplo (correspondendo esse percurso mais ou menos ao que aqui chamo a "solução nacionalista burguesa"):

Welcome to Choose Your Own Troika Program For Greece! You are a junior member of the One World Government, and you have been given the job of coming up with a proposal to resolve the Greek crisis. You have also been given an advisor who will help you talk through the consequences of decisions. Remember that you have to consider the economic consequences of the various policy choices, but that there is no point in submitting a proposal which is politically unacceptable to either the Troika or the Greek government. Good luck!

You are sitting in an office with your advisor, Maynard. You have been asked to come up with a workable solution for the troika and for Greece, which needs to be politically and economically acceptable to both parties. Maynard’s job is to take your ideas and turn them into a proper proposal to be submitted. He has a long list of decisions for you to make. “First of all”, he says, “we need to decide whether there is any more money on the table. Do you think that Germany (and Netherlands, Finland, etc) can sell any more fiscal transfers to Greece, given their domestic politics?” If you answer “Yes, I know it’s going to be difficult, but we have to plan on that basis”, turn to 32.

If you answer “I think we have to plan on the basis that there isn’t”, turn to 47


Maynard pulls a face. “Well, at least we’re being politically realistic here. Plan for the worst and hope for the best, I suppose. That really cuts down our options and makes them in general much more unpalatable. I guess the debt strategies boil down to disorderly default, or tough it out”.

If you reply “Well, disorderly default it is then”, go to 23.
If you reply “Well, tough it out it is then”, go to 35.


Maynard’s hands are trembling slightly as he pours a cup of tea. “Well, let’s go there, then!”, he says. “Default in the Euro, or default out of the Euro?”

If you say “In”, go to 10
If you say “Out”, go to 52


Maynard smiles. “The full Argentina, eh? Before you start congratulating yourself, I think we should remember that Greece doesn’t have a natural gas monopoly like YPF. It isn’t an exporter of primary commodities priced in dollars. It’s a tourism and shipping economy, and its GDP per capita is rather more than twice that of Argentina. I am less than sure how well the Argentine outcome forecasts the likely consequences of Greece doing the same. I don’t know how they would pay for essential imports, and suspect that the answer might be quite unpleasant. On the other hand, I suppose it might be the cathartic event that is needed for a thorough transformation of Greek politics. I’ll write it up.”

He is whistling the theme from Evita as he walks out the door.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mina desactivada

Era aqui, creio, que, na quarta classe (e quando não havia nada que se parecesse com o prédio), andávamos a cavar a rocha à procura de ouro e de safiras.

Diga-se que tal baseava-se em pressupostos errados (como vim a saber um ano depois, nas aulas de Ciências da Natureza no ciclo) - que aquelas pedras eram granito (não são, são cianito) e que o granito é uma rocha vulcânica (não é, é magma que solidifica debaixo de terra); como, de acordo com um livro estilo "o mundo e a natureza" que alguém tinha em casa, tanto o ouro como as safiras apareceriam nas rochas vulcânicas, a conclusão lógica foi que deveriam existir por lá.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Zeitgeist Movement - Peter Joseph on RT, Feb 10th, 2012 : War and The State

A batalha entre os "descomplexados competitivos" e os "preguiçosos autocentrados"

Uma observação acerca da disputa entre Pacheco Pereira e o resto da aldeia dele: não faço a mínima ideia do que é que o tal Manuel Forjaz escreve aqui no Público em resposta a JPP, mas por norma desconfio logo que quem se autodefine como "empreendedor" (em vez de como, p.ex., "industrial", "comerciante", "agricultor", "editor", promotor imobiliário", etc., etc.; "empreendendor" cheira-me a quem vive de expedientes/jogadas...); e, fazendo uma busca no Google, há muitas referencias ao "dinamismo" de Forjaz, à sua capacidade de motivar os outros, à sua "vontade de viver", aos cursos de formação e discursos motivadores que ele dá, mas é dificil encontrar alguma coisa a falar do produto inovador (ou mesmo não inovador) ou da novas estratégias de negócio que ele criou ou implementou...

[Note-se que eu não conheço o homem de lado nenhum, nunca tinha ouvido falar nele e não faça ideia se ele fez verdadeiramente algo de útil e marcante; estou apenas falando da primeira impressão que me causa]

[Post publicado no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]

Eleições nos EUA - Santorum um adversário pior para Obama do que Romney?

Is Romney More Electable Than Santorum?, por Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine):

Santorum has attracted a terrible reputation among the overclass. He is defined by his crude, bigoted social conservatism, which colors the broader perception of him as an extremist. This in turn leeches out into a sense, often reflected in news coverage, which likewise reflects the social biases of the overclass, that Santorum is a fringe candidate who would repel swing voters.

In fact, there are, very roughly speaking, two kinds of swing voters. One kind is economically conservative, socially liberal swing voters. This is the kind of voter you usually read about, because it’s the kind most familiar to political reporters – affluent and college educated. But there’s a second kind of voter at least as numerous – economically populist and socially conservative. Think of disaffected blue-collar workers, downscale white men who love guns, hate welfare, oppose free trade, and want higher taxes on the rich and corporations. Romney appeals to the former, but Santorum more to the latter.
Romney’s Tenuous Electability Edge, por Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight):
[O]ne such small factor that could work against Mr. Romney — and possibly in favor of Mr. Santorum — is the Electoral College. A Republican candidate who does poorly with working-class white voters has an extremely tough electoral map because those voters tend to be concentrated in swing states, especially in the Midwest, whereas wealthier whites tend to be concentrated in noncompetitive states, especially on the coasts.
Em sinal contrário, Santorum Is Extreme On More Than One Dimension, por Noah Millman (The American Conservative):
There is indeed a bloc of swing voters that fits Chait’s description – some of them were probably Huckabee voters, some were, once upon a time, Buchanan voters, or Perot voters. A right-wing populist would, in theory, make an effective foil for Barack Obama, who, because of his personal characteristics and style and because of his policies (which appear to have been very solicitous of established interests like the banks and insurers, while not having been very successful at bringing down the sky-high unemployment rate) is going to have a tough time with downscale whites.

But Santorum is only secondarily a populist. He’s primarily a crusader. I almost mean that literally – he defended the justice of the actual crusades in a speech last year. Santorum is a conviction candidate, and if he’s the nominee he’s going to run on what he believes. And what he believes is that we are being way too easy on not just Iran, but Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea.

Is this what these swing voters want to hear? That the ultimate proof that Obama is “un-American” is that he hasn’t launched a world-wide military offensive against the enemies of freedom?

I’m skeptical. And I’m skeptical that the typical swing voter of the type Chait is referring to is actually motivated by Santorum’s ideological social conservatism either. That kind of voter probably is alienated by hostility or even indifference to their social conservatism – they’d rather see a candidate be anti-abortion, anti-same-sex-marriage, maybe even anti-women-in-combat, etc. than aggressively pro- any of those things. But it’s a question of emphasis. The people who are primarily motivated by these issues are probably already ideological voters, and will vote Republican – and show up to vote Republican – regardless. Downscale swing voters I’d expect to be motivated by other matters, even if they were more comfortable with a socially-conservative candidate. A Santorum general election campaign that emphasized the centrality of social issues would seem to a swing voter not so much offensive as off-base.

A invenção da agricultura

Meet Dicty the amoeba – the world’s smallest farmer, no Not Exactly Rocket Science:

Meet the world’s smallest farmer – a “social amoeba” that seeds new land with bacteria, which it then eats. Just as human farmers carry seeds and livestock when they move to new areas, the amoeba can prepare for harsh conditions by bringing a ready food supply with it. It joins ants, termites and humans on the list of creatures that practice agriculture. (...)

Scientists pieced together Dicty’s life cycle decades ago, but it still carries surprises. Debra Brock from Rice University captured 35 wild amoebas from Virginia and Minnesota and found that a third of them carried bacteria in their slugs and spores. The bacteria hail from a number of different species, and half of these are found on Dicty’s menu. When the spores land in new locations, their bacterial cargo start to multiply, which provides the amoebae with food.

When Brock scattered spores in a sterile dish, she found that the “farmers” fared better. By seeding the dish with their bacterial cargo, they had a ready source of food. If the spores didn’t have any bacteria, the amoebae hatched to find a famine awaiting them. Very few completed their life cycle. Sterile soils may be rare in nature, but Brock found that the farmers kept their advantage when they landed in soil that had the wrong kind of bacteria. Dicty is a fussy eater, so it pays for it to carry around its preferred morsels.

This is a more passive style of farming than ants, termites or humans. Dicty doesn’t actually do anything to grow its bacteria, short of taking it to the right place. By contrast, ants and termites grow fungi by keeping it in just the right conditions, feeding it with leaves, and pruning away weed. Humans do the same for the crops that they farm.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Alianças sirio-iraquianas

For Iraqis, Aid to Rebels in Syria Repays a Debt (New York Times):

FALLUJA, Iraq — Not so long ago, Syrians worked to send weapons and fighters into Iraq to help Sunnis fighting a sectarian conflict; suddenly, it is the other way around.(...)

It is increasingly clear that Syria’s sectarian war is becoming the regional conflict that analysts have long feared. The rush of recent events — including bombings and assassinations in Damascus and Aleppo, and intensifying violence in northern Lebanon coming directly out of the sectarian hostilities in Syria — suggest that the Assad government now also faces antagonists across its borders. 

Like Iraq and Afghanistan before it, analysts say, Syria is likely to become the training ground for a new era of international conflict, and jihadists are already signing up. This weekend, Al Qaeda’s ideological leadership and, more troublingly, the more mainstream Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, called for jihadists around the world to fight Mr. Assad’s government. 

Nowhere is the cross-border nature of sectarian hostilities more clear than in Iraq’s western desert, where Sunni Arabs are beginning to rally to the cause of the Syrian opposition and, in the process, perhaps strengthen their hand in dealings with an antagonistic Shiite-led national government in Baghdad. 

A weapons dealer who operates in Anbar, who said he goes by the alias Ahmed al-Masri, said, “Five months ago I was told that the Syrian brothers are in need of weapons. I started to buy the weapons from the same guys that I previously sold to — the fighters of Anbar and Mosul. I used to bring them from Syria; now it’s the other way around.” 

The man said he was selling mortars, grenades and rifles, and that his contact in Syria was also an Iraqi. In some instances, he said Iraqis were giving away weapons, and in those cases he charged money only to transport them across the border.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012


Um artigo da Business Insider apresentando a visão de dois economistas do Citigroup sobre o que acontecerá se a Grécia sair do euro (hipótese a que eles chamam de "Grexit")..

A Esquerda e o Estado

The Left & the state, por Chris Dillow:

In some respects (not all - I just highlight the flaws), the state does not promote leftist ideals:

- It is not very redistributive. The difference between the Gini coefficient for post-tax income (that is, income including benefits after direct and indirect tax) and original income is only seven percentage points: 38% vs. 45%. The tax rate for the middle quintile, at 27%, is not far short of the 32.6% on the top quintile. To a large extent, therefore, the state redistributes income within the working class. And this has an unpleasant effect. It leads to a “divide and rule” the working class, with some public workers and benefit “scroungers“ being stigmatized. 

- It is insufficient to protect the interests of the vulnerable. The state can be - and often is - captured by people hostile to the worst-off with the result that benefits are cut.

- The state serves the interests of the rich whilst attacking the poor.  A man who, in his mental distress, tries to kill himself is imprisoned for damaging property. A man who, with a more respectable mental disorder, wrecks the economy merely loses a knighthood; those who say Fred Goodwin broke no law miss the point - that there are no laws against capitalist vandalism.

- The state serves as a lightning conductor, which deflects criticism away from capitalism - for example, when the crisis is blamed upon Labour’s deficit or weak banking regulation rather than the flaws of capitalism itself. 

- The state is run according to the same dysfunctional ideology than runs business - hierarchical managerialism. However, in the private sector its flaws are mitigated by the forces of competition whereas they are much less so in government. The upshot is that the state offers indifferent value for money.
[Já agora, também este post n'O Insurgente e respectivos comentários]

Thursday, February 09, 2012

O declinio dos valores tradicionais

A Strange Form of Social Collapse, por Paul Krugman:

Reading Charles Murray and all the commentary about the sources of moral collapse among working-class whites, I’ve had a nagging question: is it really all that bad?

I mean, yes, marriage rates are way down, and labor force participation is down among prime-age men (although not as much as some of the rhetoric might imply), But it’s generally left as an implication that these trends must be causing huge social ills. Are they?

Well, one thing oddly missing in Murray is any discussion of that traditional indicator of social breakdown, teenage pregnancy. You can see why — because it has actually been falling like a stone: (...)

And what about crime? It’s soaring, right? Wrong: (...)

So here’s a thought: maybe traditional social values are eroding in the white working class — but maybe those traditional social values aren’t as essential to a good society as conservatives like to imagine.
Background da conversa:
Alguns leitores poderão interrogar-se "o que nos interessa uma discussão sobre o declinios dos valores morais tradicionais entre os brancos de classe trabalhadora nos EUA?" (é esse o tema da polémica), mas penso que grande parte da discussão e dos argumentos de parte a parte têm relevância universal.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Formas de exportar a democracia

Lendo as discussões à volta de posts como estes, dá-me a ideia que muitas pessoas que são a favor de exportar a democracia por acção (p.ex., invadindo um país para derrubar um ditador) já são contra exportar a democracia por omissão (p.ex., cortar o apoia e deixar cair um ditador - como Carter terá feito com o xá do Irão e Obama com Mubarak).

Consigo imaginar muitas razões para alguém ser a favor da exportação democrática por omissão mas contra a exportação democrática por acção; já me parece muito mais díficil encaontrar motivos para o oposto (os efeitos visuais?).

A respeito das consequência não-previstas (ou das boas intenções que enchem o inferno): entre "cortar o apoio a um ditador para implementar a democracia, e acidentalmente abrir o caminho a uma teocracia religiosa" e "invadir um país para derrubar um ditador e implementar a democracia, e acidentalmente abrir o caminho a uma teocracia religiosa", pelo menos o primeiro caso são mais barato.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Opinião dos egipcios sobre a ajuda americana

Most Egyptians Oppose U.S. Economic Aid (Gallup):

About 7 in 10 Egyptians surveyed by Gallup in December 2011 oppose U.S. economic aid to Egypt, and a similar percentage opposes the U.S. sending direct aid to civil society groups. This rebuke of U.S. financial support may be a challenge for Egypt's newly elected parliament and its future president as the government attempts to bolster the nation's financial stability.

Did the South Have to Fight?, Thomas Fleming


Thomas Fleming é historiador e editor da Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, uma das casas do paleoconservatives. Tem aqui uma belíssima prestação como orador e garanto que não perdem os cerca de 30 minutos que dura este ficheiro áudio. Foi a sua contribuição para o seminário de 2004 organizado pelo Mises Insitute sobre o tema The Cost of War e abordando o tema da Guerra dita Civil americana, numa perspectiva interessante, começando o seu relato a falar sobre Jesse James.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Os reaccionários

Sejam quais forem os males e defeitos (ou não) dos reaccionários noutras idades, neste tempo onde nada se reconhece que seja transcendente (a não ser para ressuscitar antigos misticismos) e onde a matéria impera, os perdedores inadaptados mas esclarecidos da história moderna ganham um certo encanto. No caso dos católicos, e tem a sua piada, a ideia de verdade transforma-se num consolo, guia, obsessão e conforto.

Os momentos aos 3m20s e 4m45s são particularmente engraçados.

Monsenhor Richard Williamson, Malleus Modernistarum (Martelo dos Modernistas)


Thursday, February 02, 2012


não sou fã do facebook, faço parte da ala twitter

"Recibos verdes"

É impressão minha, ou em português corrente a expressão "recibos verdes" só é praticamente usada no contexto dos "falsos recibos verdes"? Isto é, nos verdadeiros "recibos verdes" ninguém diz "Fulano trabalha a recibos verdes", mas sim "Fulano trabalha por conta própria".

[No meu tempo eram "azuis aquáticos"; penso que agora nem cor têm]

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Eu fui um dos que gostou do filme Rede Social sobre a criação do Facebook (vi duas vezes), que gira à volta de uma disputa e arbitragem jurídica, e nos oferece o relato e ambiente de criatividade informal e descomplexada (e ainda assim com regras) em (certas) universidades americanas e talvez trazendo à luz uma nova geração e forma de estar, dando origem aos novos ambientes de empresa que reconhecemos na Google e outros. Parece um pouco a emergência e vingança e a subida do jovem-adolescente contra o jovem-gravata já formatado pela máquina.

Jovens-adolescentes que acordam abrir uma empresa onde o financiador [Adam D'Angelo's] tem apenas 30% (creio) e o criador [Zuckerberg] sem cheta o restante (imagine-se por cá...). Vemos também o célebre almoço de encontro com a irrequieto Sean Parket (fundador da Napster, Plaxo e Causes) onde o "The" cai. Na verdade sabemos que isto já é historia hoje e mais será história amanhã.

Isto só para introduzir a troca de chat publicada pela BusinessInsider (uma excelente fonte, óptimas apresentações e chamadas de atenção) entre Zuckerberg e Adam D'Angelo's (a secção de comentário é de ler):

Zuckerberg: So you know how I'm making that dating site
Zuckerberg: I wonder how similar that is to the Facebook thing
Zuckerberg: Because they're probably going to be released around the same time
Zuckerberg: Unless I fuck the dating site people over and quit on them right before I told them I'd have it done.
D'Angelo: haha
Zuckerberg: Like I don't think people would sign up for the facebook thing if they knew it was for dating
Zuckerberg: and I think people are skeptical about joining dating things too.
Zuckerberg: But the guy doing the dating thing is going to promote it pretty well.
Zuckerberg: I wonder what the ideal solution is.
Zuckerberg: I think the Facebook thing by itself would draw many people, unless it were released at the same time as the dating thing.
Zuckerberg: In which case both things would cancel each other out and nothing would win. Any ideas? Like is there a good way to consolidate the two.
D'Angelo: We could make it into a whole network like a friendster. haha. Stanford has something like that internally
Zuckerberg: Well I was thinking of doing that for the facebook. The only thing that's different about theirs is that you like request dates with people or connections with the facebook you don't do that via the system.
D'Angelo: Yeah
Zuckerberg: I also hate the fact that I'm doing it for other people haha. Like I hate working under other people. I feel like the right thing to do is finish the facebook and wait until the last day before I'm supposed to have their thing ready and then be like "look yours isn't as good as this so if you want to join mine you can…otherwise I can help you with yours later." Or do you think that's too dick?
D'Angelo: I think you should just ditch them
Zuckerberg: The thing is they have a programmer who could finish their thing and they have money to pour into advertising and stuff. Oh wait I have money too. My friend who wants to sponsor this is head of the investment society. Apparently insider trading isn't illegal in Brazil so he's rich lol.
D'Angelo: lol

There are two historically significant notes about this conversation:

It seems to be the moment when Zuckerberg decides not to work for somebody else, and to strike out on his own to build what would become Facebook. It's D'Angelo, not Zuckerberg, who seems to suggest "We could make it into a whole network like a friendster."

In the months following his conversation with D'Angelo, Zuckerberg—along with a little bit of help from some Harvard friends, Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz—built Facebook (then called TheFacebook), and watched it grow very popular very quickly.

By the next summer, Zuckerberg and pals moved to California and began working on Facebook full-time. By late July, Facebook had almost reached 1 million users, just 7 months after launching.

But despite that early success, a surprising instant message conversation between Mark Zuckerberg and a confidant on July 26, 2004—about who will foot legal bills in the event that Facebook were ever to be sued—reveals that Facebook was not his main priority at the time.

Confidant: Well you should recover the shares you need to recover legal fees.
Zuckerberg: I won't pay the legal fees
Zuckerberg: The company that buys us will haha
Confidant: Cool hopefully that'll be soon so you can move on and just work on what you want to
Zuckerberg: Well it just needs to propel Wirehog
Confidant: So you have gotten responses to your national recognition?
Zuckerberg: Responses from whom?
Zuckerberg: Some more VCs. Still talking to Google and Friendster.

What's enlightening about this conversation:

Even as a million people found themselves addicted to Facebook, Zuckerberg wasn't sure yet that it would end up being worth his time. To him, Facebook "just need[ed] to propel Wirehog," which has since been described as a file-sharing service. How close Google came to owning Facebook—probably for a price approximately $99,990,000,000 lower than what Facebook will IPO for in just a few months.

Sobre a ineficiência das administrações públicas

Dois comentários que dão que pensar a este post de Tyler Cowen:

"Inefficiency is a feature, not a bug. A government that is efficient at doing good things, is also efficient at doing bad things."


"This seems to be the argument. Since we cannot know what government can or should do well, we should make sure that, whatever it does, it does it badly. It is not enough to place limitations on government, because government will invariably extend its reach no matter what limitations you try to place on it. It is far, far easier to create incentives for government actors to behave with sloth and incompetence."

Obama e o capitão do Costa Concordia

Roderick T. Long:

Obama is guilty of actual mass murder against the civilian population of Pakistan. To compare him to someone charged with the lesser offense of manslaughter is dramatically insensitive to the families of Obama’s victims.