A História da 1002ª Noite

[crítica do livro A História da 1002ª Noite (1939), de Joseph Roth, publicado por E-Primatur (2016)]
Joseph Roth é impiedoso e mordaz na sua análise da melancólica, aburguesada e decadente sociedade austríaca do fim do Império Austro-Húngaro, brilhantemente corporizada pelo inútil Barão Taittinger. Com ele e mais umas quantas personagens densas, este romance popular é um cordel de episódios divertidos e sádicos que acontecendo num contexto, capturam na verdade certos aspectos intemporais de qualquer sociedade humana.

Is our World a simulation?

Reasons to believe that the universe is a simulation include the fact that it behaves mathematically and is broken up into pieces (subatomic particles) like a pixelated video game. “Even things that we think of as continuous – time, energy, space, volume – all have a finite limit to their size. If that’s the case, then our universe is both computable and finite. Those properties allow the universe to be simulated,” Terrile said.

Nano Apocalypse

There are many ways in which humanity could become extinct before reaching posthumanity. Perhaps the most natural interpretation of is that we are likely to go extinct as a result of the development of some powerful but dangerous technology like molecular nanotechnology, which in its mature stage would enable the construction of self‐replicating nanobots capable of feeding on dirt and organic matter, a kind of mechanical bacteria. Such nanobots, designed for malicious ends, could cause the extinction of all life on our planet. (Are you living in a computer simulation? by Nick Bostrom

Linha de Cascais vs Metro de Lisboa

(transcrito de portugalferroviario.net, trainmaniac)

Mais uma semana e mais uma notícia de expansões no Metro de Lisboa: o Governo aparentemente vai apresentar em breve a extensão da linha amarela do Rato até ao Cais do Sodré, com estações na Estrela e em Santos. Esta expansão parece ter ganho à linha de Cascais, apesar desta se debater com problemas operacionais claros de há muito a esta parte. Não consigo deixar de estranhar que o mesmo Governo que assume no Parlamento não ter intervenções previstas para a linha de Cascais pelos meios financeiros necessários possa, alegremente, anunciar mais algumas centenas de milhões de Euros para o Metro de Lisboa, que nem capacidade está a ter de assegurar um serviço minimamente civilizado na rede que já existe.

Está quase a fazer 10 anos o último projeto de desnivelamento do Nó Ferroviário de Alcântara, um engulho centenário na mobilidade lisboeta e no serviço da linha de Cascais. Agora que parece ter sido descoberto financiamento para mais uma obra muito cara ao serviço dos transportes públicos julgo que seria muito mais útil investir em algo que já existe e que se arrisca a deixar de poder realizar o seu objetivo por dificuldades operacionais. Além disso, o potencial que a integração da linha de Cascais no resto da rede tem para promover transferência modal da viatura particular para os comboios é imensamente superior à de um investimento num troço de metro interno à cidade de Lisboa. Associado à necessária renovação da linha e seus comboios, com possível reeletrificação para total harmonização com o resto da rede, este projeto de 2007 é de prioridade máxima numa perspetiva racional de intervenção na mobilidade na área da Grande Lisboa. É pouco compreensível que o Governo Central se continue a entreter com novas obras faraónicas no Metro de Lisboa quando há algo desta prioridade em stand-by há tanto tempo.
Se existirem realmente meios para intervir nas infraestruturas de transportes públicos da Grande Lisboa, é incompreensível que não se dê total prioridade ao estado de degradação da linha de Cascais e às ferramentas que esta necessita para se atualizar e se inserir nas dinâmicas de mobilidade que nem sequer são recentes: a deslocalização do centro de gravidade de Lisboa para a zona de Sete Rios, Entrecampos ou Oriente não é sequer uma tendência recente. A linha de Cascais é, neste aspeto, uma sobrevivente de paradigmas de mobilidade antigos e já pouco representativos.
Penso que é esta reflexão que é urgente ser feita. No Governo, na Assembleia da República mas também na AML e na sociedade civil, em geral. Mais importante do que pequenas realidades é a o panorama geral da mobilidade na Grande Lisboa. E nessa óptica é evidente que a urgência da linha de Cascais e da sua ligação à linha de Cintura ultrapassam, em pertinência social e económica, qualquer outro projeto que possa ser apresentado para o Metro de Lisboa. Que o bom senso impere, por uma vez.

Goodbye Europe!

Treat the earth well. 
It was not given to you by your parents, 
it was loaned to you by your children.
(Kenyan proverb)

Mass immigration undermines the ability of a collection of individual persons to be a people, to have bonds of loyalty to each other; to have the ability to take pride in each other’s achievements and feel shame at their shortcomings; at the limit, to love each other, not in the romantic sense, but in the brotherly sense that marks those who live together well. It is just a fact about human nature, about the kinds of beings we are, that we love and care for those we share life with, and this in a way that is different to those who are strangers to us.
These bonds of partiality are most pronounced in intimate relationships. They exist also in political communities. Over time, in the context of concern between generations and cooperation between families, villages, and towns, so communities develop cultures, which bind us together. They can do this only if there is a certain level of stability, stability regarding whom I live with and, usually, stability in where we live. Without some such culture, people living together are merely a collection of alienated individuals, living an impoverished life. The direction a culture takes is owned, though, by the community that sustains that form of life. This is true for native Americans; for aboriginal peoples in Australia; for tribes in Papua New Guinea and Peru. It is true, too, for the British.

France is in a debate about French identity. At a time of economic malaise, of seemingly sliding international prestige, of globalization, and an ongoing wave of terrorism and immigration, what exactly does it mean to be French? Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy threw the country in a tizzy by announcing that immigrants to France should be taught that, upon entering the country, their ancestors are now Gauls, the inhabitants of what is now France before Roman times. Immigrant children, children who were not born in France, and even children in French colonies in Africa, were taught that their “ancestors” were Gauls. In other words, in France, “ancestry” is a matter of ideas and culture, not blood. To be French is to believe in human rights, and our own Declaration of the Rights of Man, and maybe a few other ideals, like secularism. But for 1,500 years, to be French meant to be Catholic, to pledge allegiance to the king, and to be consecrated to the immaculate heart of Mary. If French identity has changed radically over the centuries, the implication seems to be that the Frenchmen of the past weren’t really French. You can see French politicians with impressive degrees go on TV and say, with a straight face, things like, “The history of France begins in 1789.” Really? Louis XIV? Molière? Montaigne? All not French? What were they then? Once you start defining French identity as something more than an idea, you start going into unhealthy territory, grasping for other identifiers like descent, blood, even skin color. Our economic and social problems persist because of an inability to reach a consensus, partly because we all have a different idea about French identity. Before it can get its house in order, France will have to figure out who and what it is.

Ethnicity is central to China’s national identity. Ethnicity and nationality have become almost interchangeable for China’s Han. Even ethnic Han whose families left for other countries generations ago are often regarded as part of a coherent national group, both by China’s government and people. President Xi Jinping in a speech set his sights wider: “Generations of overseas Chinese never forget their home country, their origins or the blood of the Chinese nation flowing in their veins.” China today is extraordinarily homogeneous. It sustains that by remaining almost entirely closed to new entrants except by birth. Unless someone is the child of a Chinese national, no matter how long they live there, how much money they make or tax they pay, it is virtually impossible to become a citizen. China’s Han-centred worldview extends to refugees. Non-Chinese seem just as beguiled by the purity of Han China as the government in Beijing. Governments and NGOs never suggest that China take refugees from trouble spots elsewhere in the world. China has almost completely closed its doors to any others. Aside from the group from Vietnam, China has only 583 refugees on its books. The country has more billionaires.

Japan says it must look after its own before allowing in Syrian refugees. “It is an issue of demography,” Abe told reporters after his speech to the UN general assembly. “I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, elderly people and we must raise our birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants.”

Imperial World

“What would remain of the Entente if it took seriously the rights of self-determination and let go of the leash?” asks this German propaganda map from the final year of the first world war, 1918. It portrays the Allies as hypocrites for opposing German imperialism while having colonies themselves – here represented by animals on leashes. Not that it’s entirely accurate: Texas and Florida are portrayed as American colonies even though they were full states.

Snowden

Snowden revealed that the Orwellian 1984’s Big Brother is already watching you. And society responded with the indifference of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Two dystopias that complement each other perfectly in 2016, specifically in the movie Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone