Thursday, February 28, 2008

Doing a Triangle in Europe

From 22 December 2007 to 7 January 2008 Ricemagic was on holidays. Here are some pictures.

Milano, ItalyMilano, Italy

Milano, Italy


Somewhere in Portugal between Porto and LisboaSomewhere in Portugal between Porto and Lisbon

Somewhere in Portugal between Porto and Lisbon

Lisboa, PortugalLisboa, Portugal.

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D. Afonso Henriques, first King of Portugal, in Castelo de S. Jorge, Lisboa, PortugalPhotobucket

Lisboa, PortugalPhotobucket

Castelo de S. Jorge, Lisboa, PortugalPhotobucket

Lisboa, PortugalPhotobucket

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Pois, Café in Lisboa, PortugalPhotobucket

Little Irish pub in Cais do Sodré, Lisboa, PortugalPhotobucket


Pictures of Estonia (iv): Tallinn, EstoniaPhotobucket

Tallinn, Estonia

Viimsi, EstoniaPhotobucket

Viimsi, EstoniaPhotobucket

Tallin, EstoniaTallinn, Estonia

Near Tallinn, EstoniaPhotobucket

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Tallinn, EstoniaPhotobucket

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bad People

A surprising and typical fact about bad people is the wonderfully good-souled set of friends they have. Really bad people have the cunning to pretend to be kind, sympathetic, interested on others and even tender people.

Consider those people with long lists of friends and no enemies. Suspect. Some of those friends simply don't have enough insight to see through the masks of the faking-so-interested-on-others truly bad
person. And some other friends are maybe just being strategically friendly. In any case, no enemies.

Consensual people: danger.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gisberta, Gisberta, Gisberta

Gisberta, Gisberta, Gisberta, Dogville, Gisberta: strangely enough, one of the reasons why I created this blog was Gisberta. In the following days, I will try to (re)post here everything I wrote about Gisberta. Meanwhile, a text by Alberto Gonçalves from Diário de Notícias about Gisberta:


UMA HISTÓRIA DESUMANA

Há dois anos, no Porto, catorze rapazes passaram uma semana a torturar um homem doente que vivia, digamos, num edifício devoluto. Juntavam-se de manhã e decidiam: "Vamos bater na 'Gisberta'" (o homem submetera-se a uma mudança de sexo). Durante seis dias, bateram. Quando os gemidos do desgraçado já mal se ouviam, cansaram-se e pensaram em chegar-lhe fogo. Receosos do aparato, optaram pela discrição e lançaram-no a um poço. A autópsia determinou que o desgraçado morreu por afogamento, o que para efeitos práticos lembra alguém que morre de pneumonia agravada por um golpe de machado na cabeça. Quem viu as fotos do cadáver descreveu-me o horror absoluto. Acreditei.

Difícil é acreditar no que se sucedeu. Dos rapazes, nenhum foi condenado por homicídio: treze foram internados em "centros educativos" e o único com mais de dezasseis anos à data do crime ficou dois ou três meses em prisão preventiva. O julgamento deste começa agora, com desfecho previsível. Uma reportagem do DN descobriu que dez dos restantes já regressaram a casa.

A reportagem, de João Paulo Mendes, descobriu ainda um discurso comum a tribunais, juristas, psicólogos e familiares: os agressores não são culpados pelos seus actos. Dado que os moços, coitadinhos, eram pobres e, na sua maioria, "internos" de um colégio, eles não mataram "Gisberta". A direcção do colégio matou. A sociedade matou. Todos nós matámos. Mas matámos quem? Um "homem com mamas", na lendária opinião do juiz do caso. Um "transexual", para as associações "gay" que reduziram "Gisberta" a símbolo. Um "cliché", de qualquer modo, à semelhança dos moços carentes de "afecto" que o tomaram por brinquedo. Eis uma história literalmente desumana, no sentido em que nenhuma das suas personagens corresponde a uma pessoa inteira. A cultura do relativismo e da irresponsabilidade tende a criar enredos e desertos assim.

by Alberto Gonçalves in Diário de Notícias February 1oth 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Two Little Steps for a Little Bit More Humanism for Humanity

"The electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday, effectively suspending executions in the only state that made sole use of the practice, once the dominant form of execution in the United States." By Adam Liptak, NY Times Feb. 8 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/us/08cnd-penalty.html?hp
Note that this doesn't mean the end of death penalty in Nebraska, which was the only one state of the USA where a death penalty convict could not opt between the electric chair and some other form of execution. It only means that in that state of the USA, the lawmakers will now seek to substitute the electric chair by some less "cruel and unusual" method of execution.

http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10608577

Meanwhile, in the last seven days, there were at least three shooting sprees in USA. However, apparently nobody sees that, with guns, shootings sprees happen and, without guns, shooting sprees don't happen. It is just like summing up 2 and 2.

And, also apparently at least, nobody seems to ask why shooting sprees and guns are simply absent from the campaigns for Democratic Party candidate and Republican Party candidate for the President of the USA election.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Obrigado x 1100

In this very moment, the number of visitors to this blog (since we introduced sitemeter) reached 1100. Thank you very much!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Eurovision Song Contest Craze Has Started!!!

Oh yeah it's true: the Eurovision Song Contest craze has started and we already have (at least for now) our favorite song:


Here's the calendar:

Tuesday, 20th of May

Thursday, 22nd of May

Saturday, 24th of May

Overshooting

Overshooting means delivering a higher than the otherwise necessary level of input (cause) in order to get a certain output (consequence, effect) because the set of conditions applying to the origin of input is different from the set defined as standard.

For instance, it is said that in order to get the same level of recognition, women have to show higher results than men, and it is said that this happens because usually a negative bias against women exists in the process of evaluating their results.

We may have found another example of overshooting.

Let's imagine a country A that enjoys a very positive outside perception about the quality of its universities. And let's imagine a country B that, maybe because it is much less known outside (and ignorance usually doesn't lead to positive perception bias), maybe because there is a general negative perception about its qualities, doesn't enjoy a high reputation for its universities. Not enjoying a high reputation can simply mean that people outside, whether they have or not accessed somehow the general quality of B's universities, have the belief that B's universities can't be as good as A's.

Then, say, a university of country B, in order to be regarded outside as highly as any university of country A, must perform much better than those ones. Country B's university must overshoot its performance because the conditions that apply to its outside evaluation are different than those applying to A's universities. B's conditions are characterized by a negative perception bias.

It is interesting to note that overshooting might happen whether the negative perception bias is "objectively" justified or not, is fair or not, is desirable or not, is changing or not.


This weekend there seems to be another example of overshooting.

A German tv-show host, after making a joke with a Nazi phrase, laughing about that, recognizing the joke was a great mistake, and apologizing publicly, was fired.

Germany started the Second World War. Germany participated actively in the Second World War. Germany lost the Second World War. Thereafter, the outside perception about Germany hasn't been the best. Thus, in order to demarcate themselves from that unfortunate joke, the German tv channel where that situation took place could not just broadcast an apologies statement. It had to overshoot the effort of demarcation. Thus, it released the atomic bomb: it fired the apologizing host.


The degree of overshooting is most probably related to the importance (ethical, economic, ...) of the desired effect. And it might be related with the degree of negative perception bias. And the degree of negative perception bias may or may not be related to facts and prejudices, facts about prejudices and prejudices about facts.