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July 31, 2006

Balia Tirannica 

L'evoluzione logica dello stato-balia é la tirannide. Pure con tutte le buone intenzioni del caso, un governo che voglia proteggere i cittadini da ogni rischio e pericolo finisce per limitarne fortemente la libertá.

Esempio:
LONDRA (GRAN BRETAGNA) - Inserire alcolici e sigarette fra le droghe. È la richiesta rivolta, sulla base del numero delle morti causate da questa sostanze, dal Parlamento britannico in un rapporto sulla politica del governo di Tony Blair sulle tossicodipendenze.[...]
(Le droghe, nda)Attualmente sono inserite in liste contrassegnate dalle lettere dell'alfabeto: della lista A fanno parte le sostanze per cui sono previste le sanzioni più pesanti, come l'eroina, mentre la cannabis si trova nella lista C. Alcol e sigarette, secondo il rapporto, dovrebbe essere inserite nell'elenco B, per dare all'opinione pubblica la piena consapevolezza della loro pericolositá e dei danni che causano.
Non si tratta solo di dare consapevolezza. Una brevissima ricerca con Google ci porta a questa pagina dello Home Office (Ministero dell'Interno, piú o meno) che recita:
Classe B
Possesso: Fino a 5 anni di reclusione e/o ammenda illimitata.
Spaccio: Fino a 14 anni di reclusione e/o ammenda illimitata.
Bel modo di dare consapevolezza. Un po' come i russi che osavano criticare Stalin: venivano resi consapevoli del loro errore con un soggiorno premio in Siberia.

Uno dei motivi di queste aberrazioni, secondo me, é il sistema sanitario fortmente socializzato. Le cure ad alcolizzati e fumatori le paga Pantalone - ovvero tutti i contribuenti, e sono un sacco di soldi. Probabilmente, se ognuno dovesse pagare almeno parte dei trattamenti medici di tasca propria non ci sarebbe bisogno di uno Stato cosí intrusivo nella vita privata dei cittadini.

Mea culpa 01/08: Eugenio, nei commenti, mi fa notare che non siamo di fronte ad un caso di demenza del Parlamento inglese (che non sarebbe poi tanto improbabile, comunque), ma soltanto all'ennesimo caso di giornalismo scadente e superficiale. Questo é il succo della la storia secondo The Guardian:
The report suggests a new scientific scale of harm, decoupled from penalties, and extended to cover alcohol and tobacco. Publicising the real risks of drugs is imperative. The government, though, may prove resistant as this more rational approach as it would raise some deeper questions. Clear exposition of the risks of heroin would expose how medicalisation could reduce harm better than criminalisation. And including legal drugs would raise the issue of why alcohol can be aggressively marketed when people are punished for using other substances of similar danger. So for all the committee's good work, a rational drugs policy is likely to remain a pipe dream.
Liberamente riassunto e tradotto:
Il rapporto suggerisce una nuova scala di dannositá su basi scientifiche, disaccoppiata dalle punizioni ed estesa a coprire alcol e tabacco. E' imperativo informare sui rischi reali. Il Governo, tuttavia, potrebbe opporre resistenza a questo approccio piú razionale che porrebbe questioni piú profonde[...]
L'inclusione di droghe legali solleverebbe la questione del perché l'alcol puó essere pubblicizzato aggressivamente, mentre l'uso di altre sostanze con simile pericolositá viene punito. Quindi, nonostante tutto il lavoro del Comitato, una politica piú razionale sulle droghe sembra destinata a rimanere un sogno.
L'approccio pragmatico(correzione)-liberale sarebbe quello di stabilire un limite di rischio con una discussione informata ma politica, al di sotto del quale il consumo e la produzione delle sostanze in questione sono liberi - sempre fatta salva la responsabilitá personale dei consumatori. Peró non riesco a togliermi dalla testa l'idea che anche l'approccio proposto dal Guardian nasconda alla fine una visione etica ed elitista: siamo noi, gli illuminati e saggi gli unici che possiamo decidere cosa va bene e cosa non per voi popolo bue.

Comunque, ecco quello che avrei dovuto fare dall'inizio: il rapporto nella sua interezza.

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July 30, 2006

War is Hell. Losing is Worse 

Israel bombed a building in Qana, Lebanon, and the strike resulted in the death of a large number of non-combatants, including several children (for the identification of the victims as non-combatants, it appears we have to trust local sources).

The reactions around the world are as predictable as the swing of a pendulum: "firm condemnation" of Israel, not a word about Hizballah's widespread practice of using civilians as cover and even propaganda tools. Tigerhawk explains why, too:
Why? The dual racism that holds Israel to a higher standard than the rest of the world, and Arabs to a lower one. And, by the way, no profession is more culpable in the perpetuation of this dual racism than journalism.
Killing non combatants is a tragedy, but one made necessary by the horrible reality of war. Wretchard:
The only good thing about war is the day of victory; the only justification. When victory itself is deemed illegitimate, when there are no surrenders, only ceasefires then what we have isn't peace, but conflict without end. A kind of torture extended by the presence of a hovering doctor.
In the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of non-combatants were killed and maimed, and everyone - except the most slimy revisionist from the safety of their ivory towers - regards that as being fully justified. My little village in Italy was subjected to American bombing and strafing runs in the attempt to destroy the two railway bridges over there; the bombing were ineffectual because the Germans blocked the valley with two AA batteries, but my grandparents lost their home and were nearly killed. But guess what, they were happy when the Nazis finally surrendered.

A reader at the Belmont Club:
There is no answer to how you "feel", at least not one to share. Every man deals with his pain, guilt, and grief privately. With whom could he share? The mark of Cain, you know.

Another question worth pondering would be: Would you prefer to kill their kids or have them kill yours? This question assumes all other things being equal. Are they?
This is the kind of decision that men, from time to time, have to make. Pretending that the decision is not needed, or it can be deferred indefinitely, is a pathetic escape from reality and bound to end in even more misery and pain for all involved.

Some will suffer either way. Do you want it to be us or them? Do you want it to be a few now, or many later. There is no third way.

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July 26, 2006

Asking the Right Questions 

Someone from Nigeria arrived on my blog googling for

"what is libral(sic) democracy"

Oh boy... that's a good one. It is the less worse of all the government systems tried so far.

It is when you are as free as possible in your thoughts, lifestyle and expression. It is when you have certain rights that cannot be infringed (not infringed easily, at least) and the means, legal and materials to defend them. It is where there is no state, no anointed elite to tell you what you have to do. It is where you can elect your representative, and they will be accountable to their voters; it is where the system can be changed deeply but peacefully and within the same framework. It is where you can work and trade and get rich with that.

It's worth a try, mate.

Update 28/07: My blog is becoming important, I think. I received visits from the IRS, CIA, US Marines Corps, US State Department and other major institutions. Now it's the turn of the EU Council: from Belgium, domain eu.int, googling for

"lebanon logistics situation reports"

All good and well guys, but do you really need to google for it? Can't you ask the Foreign Affair Departments of the EU states? Is the EU actually such a tragic joke?

Comments (2)

Problema Risolto 

Come si risolve il problema della sicurezza per le donne che si trovano a guidare da sole a notte fonda?

In Inghilterra, c'é chi ha inventato l'uomo gonfiabile* per dare l'impressione che la donna al volante sola non sia.

Io, nella mia rozzezza di biblico fallocrate, propongo una diversa soluzione.

Glock 23 .40; aggiungeteci un po' di addestramento al poligono, munizioni Winchester Super-X Silvertip ed eventuali aggressori avranno una brutta sorpresa.







Aggiornamento 31/07: Perché solo una semiauto? Ecco pure un revolver: Smith&Wesson Model 60. Munizioni consigliate: Speer GoldDot .38 +P




* Probabilmente l'uomo gonfiabile é gia stato inventato, ma per usi piú licenziosi, diciamo.

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July 25, 2006

No Shades of Gray 

It's a black-and-white case with the war Israel is waging against Hizballah in Lebanon. Tigerhawk explains clearly why.

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July 23, 2006

The High Ground 

The Israeli ground offensive in south-east Lebanon is continuing - after an air campaign that accomplished less than (naively?) expected.

Wretchard has a map of the area, and his reader xwraith discovered something interesting (though not surprising):
Hrm, I can see why they took the terrain that they did. Dug up an old topographic map of the border there and that is the highest ground for kilometers around. 943 meters by the map I have at Maroun al-Ras. to the south-east of what looks to be the Israeli center it sounds like they took the next highest hill at 891 meters, and their left flank is probably anchored in the small town of Yaroun at 796 meters. Everything north and west of there is lower (valley) or with a peek altitude of no higher then 825.
This explains the fighting of the last days and the determination to take Maroun Al-Ras. Available data suggest that next the Israelis will thrust deeper into Hizballah territory and the Bekaa Valley.

At this point, I cannot help but notice the disconnect between the focus and information provided by Belmont Club (and other blogs) and the mainstream media. The latter are focused on reporting about civilian casualties - without apparently asking themselves if those are actually all civilians - and the lofty ceasefire talks. The tactical dimension seems not to exist for the MSM; in their reports there are soldiers and jihadis that fight, but how and when and the progress of the battle is constantly ignored.

Because only few journalists do actually know something about warfighting other than the most immediate emotional aspects, I think.

Update 24/07: We also know little of Hizballah losses and casualties. Nearly the only source in this regard is the IDF itself. However, the Hizballah are definitely taking losses, and their logistics situation is not one of the best (when you are buttoned up inside fortifications, resupply is difficult): Israel can win by attrition, but it will be a long struggle. On the other hand, the longer the war, the louder will be the calls (and actions) for a ceasefire - that would turn into a victory for Hizballah and thus Iran. Instead, the defeat of Hizballah would mean a downisizing of Iran's ambitions.

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July 21, 2006

Dug In 

It is reported that the Israeli force advancing into Lebanon have encountered tough resistance from Hizballah fighters entrenched in a system of tunnels and bunkers.

Heavy fixed defenses were last used succesfully in WWI, but then become rather obsolete. The Maginot line didn't even slow down the German thrust into France; in the Pacific theater the entrenched Japanese opposed a fierce resistance but in the end were defeated (and the fight was brutal). The problem with fixed defences is that however strong, the enemy can concentrate fire on them until they're broken. The Taliban and al-Quaida fighters found death and not glory in the caves of Afghanistan.

Even the much-vaunted Vietcong and their tunnels were defeated, though with a relevant effort.

And this is the fate that awaits Hizballah as well. It won't be a walk in the park, but the Israelis have the preparation, the determination and the equipment to win.

Clearing tunnels is a dirty job; the classical tools of this trade are flamethrowers and pole charges, but new ones have been added: thermobaric munitions and ground-penetrating bombs. Indeed, Israel bought a few thousand ground-penetrating bombs a few months ago; now I think to deal with the Hizballah tunnels rather than an unlikely attack on Iran.
If the people inside tunnels cannot be killed or disabled directly, it is always possible to collapse the entrances and trap them inside.

On the political side, the major players (US and UK) aren't really doing anything to stop Israel, and the proposal of sending UN troops seems to be going nowhere either. Everything points towards Hizballah getting a severe beating, and it's not too early.

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July 19, 2006

As He Said 

I'm still busy, my mind is still in overdrive... and it's boiling hot.

I can only repeat what another Italian blogger, Otimaster, said:

Give a little Help to your Italian friends

Our country has a new government which pretends to be democratic but is trying to turn into a socialist dictatorship.
Violations of the rules of democracy happen every day and the judiciary is used as a weapon against political opponents.
The Communists that are 60% of the leftist coalition want to vote against the financing of the military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, sorry if we will not be able to respect the promises made to your country.
The chiefs of our Internal Security Services who helped the CIA to capture a terrorist are now removed from their role s and are facing trials because what they did has been considered illegal.
The government has removed the fiscal police who were investigating on the red cooperatives.
These are some of the things that happen in our country.
Please read our blog for further information, feel free to publish our appeal, send it to your politicians, help us to convince our politicians to respect democracy.

God Bless You
Slightly edited, because I know English too well now...

Comments (3)

July 18, 2006

A Serious Referral 

Someone from the University of Birmingham was googling for help regarding:

"back pressure regulator carbon dioxide supercritical problem hot day"

Well, hot days like these are bound to cause all sorts of instrumental problems - and make laboratory life very uncomfortable.

However, I invite he/she to mail me to discuss the problem more in depth; it's the tribe of supercritical CO2 researchers here...

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July 17, 2006

They Wanted War, They Got It 

Ok, now after whole years of low-intensity conflict Hizballah* stepped way over the line and gave Israel the casus belli to go in and kick some ass - just after Hamas did the same.

Israel also decided to hold the whole nation-state of Lebanon accountable and destroyed targets also outside the Hizballah-occupied area. Whether this is a winning strategy or not, will be seen.

Sheikh Nasrallah (this allah seems to be a recurring theme...) stated... well, the same typical Arab blustering: this will be total war, it's just the beginning and so on. But up to now, it seems that Hizballah and Lebanon are the ones getting beaten up. Though Israel took some casualties, and the people living within range of the Hizballah rockets are having a pretty hard time.

However, besides these rockets (happily supplied by Syria and Iran) and mortars, Hizballah doesn't have much more to throw into the fight - especially after the IAF pounded the transport infrastructure in Lebanon. While Israel has air force, navy, artillery, armor, mechanized infantry, logistics... indeed, Israeli ground troops are reported to be in Lebanon now.

If the "international community" does not idiotically step in (Prodi, I'm talking about you too) forcing an esecrable ceasefire, Israel can obtain a decisive victory against Hizballah - and in this way cut Iran a bit down to size. Of course Iran wouldn't love it and there is some risk of escalation. Less worse to escalate now, than when Iran will have nuclear weapons, however.

Further reading: Wretchard (2, 3), Winds of Change.

* I use Hizballah rather than the more common Hezbollah because it's worth to note the presence of Allah in the very name of this jihadi organization.

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July 14, 2006

Ri-Tocqueville 

Ho letto il post di Robinik, e mi ha fatto un poco cambiare idea. Non é necessario che i singoli bloggers aderiscano ad uno statuto vincolante - puó essere addirittura dannoso.

Tuttavia, penso che gli aggregatori debbano. Sono persone che hanno responsabilitá verso tutti i "cittadini", ed anche il mondo esterno, e penso si debbano attenere ad un codice di comportamento.

Da quello che ho capito, l'idea iniziale era quella di avere uomini onorevoli come aggregatori, per cui non c'era bisogno di regole scritte. Tuttavia sembra che persone meno onorevoli (per quanto riguarda il ruolo di aggregatori; non voglio giudicare negli altri ambiti) siano arrivate - o si siano infiltrate deliberatamente. A questo punto, o gli uomini onorevoli estromettono chi semina zizzannia, oppure si devono introdurre regole e norme. Nessuna delle due opzioni mi piace particolarmente, ma qualcosa si deve fare.

Per il resto, penso che torneró a scrivere di quello che mi pare e piace, e gioire un poco di fronte al contatore che va su.

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July 11, 2006

Evoluzioni Tocquevilliane 

C'è di nuovo mare mosso in Tocqueville, tanto che alcuni dei "padri fondatori" e comunque blogger importanti hanno deciso di lasciare. Io non mi sono mai lasciato coinvolgere in queste discussioni se non battibecchi: sono spesso poco interessanti, sterili e prone a degenarare in rissa. Ed onestamente, ho aderito a Tocqueville più che altro per incrementare i miei accessi. Anche per fare rete ed aumentare la massa di un movimento politico-culturale al quale sono certamente più vicino, comunque.

Tuttavia ora il futuro di Tocqueville sembra più incerto che mai, ed è arrivato il momento di esprimere anche la mia opinione. Penso che Kagliostro abbia ragione: uno dei problemi principali di TV è quello della scala: ci si avvicina a 1000 blogs aderenti. Cioè un ordine di grandezza o due più grande degli inizi, e questo aumento di dimensioni richiede necessariamente un aggiustamento della struttura. Qualcuno sostiene che se 2 - 3 aggregatori/redattori erano sufficienti a gestire 200 blogs, gli attuali 21 sarebbero anche troppi per il numero attuale. L'errore qui è assumere che il problema sia lineare, mentre probabilmente non lo è.

Le comunità online sembrano attraversare tutte le stesse fasi evolutive: si comincia con un nucleo di persone affini e dedicate, che si intendono al volo e lavorando con entusiasmo ottengono risultati notevoli. Quindi, si aggiungono altre persone, necessariamente meno affini al nucleo iniziale - sia politicamente che personalmente. Iniziano a formarsi fazioni e correnti, che però non sono un male in loro stesse se vengono tenute sotto controllo. Inevitabilmente, arrivano anche gli estremisti nella comunità, e questo rappresenta un punto di biforcazione. L'ho osservato personalmente con la comunità di Little Green Footballs: gli estremisti e fanatici urlano più forte, non intendono ragioni e non si arrendono mai. Se i gestori della comunità a questo punto non fanno rispettare un minimo di disciplina, gli estremisti finiscono per allontanare gli altri partecipanti, che si rivolgono altrove per poter proseguire con discussioni produttive. Quello che rimane è una comunità sempre più chiusa, autoreferenziale e radicalizzata - e/o un chat piena di nulla di rilevante.

Tocqueville è ancora lontana da questa degenerazione, ma se ne vedono le avvisaglie. A questo punto servono regole e limiti, ed anche sanzioni, per evitare la discesa nel caos. Un semplice disclaimer, o avviso, funziona quando la comunità è composta principalmente di persone istintivamente affini, che comprendono non solo quello che l'avviso dice apertamente, ma anche tutti i sottintesi.

In conclusione, sostengo l'idea di eleggere un comitato interno a Tocqueville che prepari un documento, uno statuto magari, da affinare fino ad avere un largo consenso usando un metodo evolutivo: il comitato prepara una prima bozza del documento, che viene quindi pubblicata e sottoposta allo scrutinio popolare; tenendo conto dei suggerimenti ricevuti il comitato prepara 2 - 3 nuove versioni dello statuto, che vengono sottoposte al voto "popolare"; quella vincente verrà di nuovo mutata tenendo conto dell'opinione dei cittadini di Tocqueville e 2 - 3 versioni alternative sottoposte ancora al voto. In pochi cicli* di mutazione-selezione, si dovrebbe ottenere un documento gradito ad una larga maggioranza. Questo statuto verrà finalmente approvato e diventerà vincolante per tutti i nuovi iscritti.

Certo si perderebbe un poco di pluralismo, se i nuovi iscritti devono accettare uno statuto vincolante. Ma mi sembra un prezzo giusto da pagare per evitare il collasso o la caduta nell'irrilevanza di Tocqueville. Sarei disposto a prendere parte ad un tale comitato? Probabilmente, ma ho pesanti ed inderogabili impegni fino alla fine di settembre.

* La condizione di stop di questo algoritmo è un problema interessante. Non stiamo parlando di un fitting ad un insieme di dati, la cui bontà si può misurare oggettivamente con formule matematiche. Una misura della volontà di modificare lo statuto può venire dal numero di commenti ricevuti: al di sotto di una certa soglia, lo si considera adeguato alle esigenze.

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July 10, 2006

We Are The Champions 

Of The World

and it was anarchy in Italy, this night...

Comments (3)

July 08, 2006

Report #1 

I am safe and sound, maybe just a bit hung over. I've been busy doing holiday things: being at the seaside, going out, volunteering at the local beer festival...

And frankly, it's good to take a break from all this socio-political mess and just have some uninvolved fun.

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July 01, 2006

Service Announcement, and all that stuff 

Ok, tomorrow I'm off to Italy for a holiday, and also to do some important things over there (that will involve interacting with the dreaded public service bureaucracy, argh)

I will probably be kept away from my, even is steam-power-slow, Internet connection: this means that posting will be really scarce in the next 10 days. The upside is, food and drinks won't be scarce for sure...

Update: Well, it seem I must give blogging a little more time. I'm pretty disappointed with the Emperor:
This would be the same ACLU that will trip over their own miniscule dicks to file suit whenever anybody, anywhere, dares suggest in a public school that the main problem with the religious cult of Darwinism is that it has no scientific evidence backing it up. Darwinism is, to this day, one of the happy religions that won’t make the ACLU start carping about the mythical “wall of separation between church and state”, probably because the only thing separating Darwinism from Scientology is that Darwinists have yet to file for tax-exempt status.
I often disagree with Misha, but I consider those to be just diverging opinions and not really worth discussing. In this case, however, he is wrong - at least in part.

There is a really big mound of scientific evidence of all sorts supporting the evolutive model (this is the proper denomination) - fossils, DNA mutations, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry - and its predictions are used daily in medicine, biology and other fields. There may indeed be a few cases where the evolutive model does not work optimally, but these are no reason to think that the whole construction is shaky.

On the other hand, I am sure that there are people out there who indeed take part in the cult of Darwinism. I have had little direct experience of that, but I know well that there are wackos of any and all colours.

And I have no simpathy for such people. A cult of evolution is highly stupid - think of a religion of Kinetic Theory of Gases. Sounds silly, doesn't it?

In fact evolution is a model* to describe observable reality. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's not the proof that God does not exist (if that proof can be found, it will eventually come from quantum cosmology or something like that), and it's neither a collection of kooky ideas strung together by utter, dishonest incompetents.

And well, on the obnoxiousness, bias and worse of the ACLU there are no doubts.

* Let's avoid the term theory, because that semantics discussion is trapped in a real quagmire.

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