Am un prieten, IT-ist, care-mi trimite, pe mail – din când în când, câte un newsletter.

Ăsta era de la start-up.ro. Adica de la ‘început în sus’…

Conform traducerii propuse de aceștia, vestiții ‘cercetători de la NASA’ s-au apucat să crească struguri – de vin, dar amănuntul ăsta nu are prea mare relevanță, „pe stația spațială”.

Băbăeți… eu știam că tehnologia modernă este extrem de precisă. Și că necesită un limbaj cel puțin la fel de precis…
Dacă instrucțiunile despre ce ai de făcut și informațiile pe baza cărora te apuci de treabă nu sunt foarte clare… cum să iasă ceva cu adevărat bun?!?

În condițiile astea, continuăm să folosim limbajul dezvoltat de bunicii noștri pentru a descrie voiajul pe calea ferată atunci când vine vorba despre călătoriile spațiale?
Dacă zâmbeam în colțul gurii când o auzeam pe bunica povestindu-mi la telefon – din ăla cu disc, ce a vorbit pe tren cu vecinii de compartiment, mă îngrozesc de spaimă atunci când cineva din generația fiului meu – student la informatică, pune la cale fraza

Cercetătorii cresc struguri de vin pe Stația Spațială Internațională

OK, bunica era oarecum neglijentă în exprimare. Dar asta și pentru că, pe vremea ei – în timpul refugiului, foarte mulți dintre ‘călători’ se urcau, efectiv, „pe tren”.


Aceiași laxitate din partea generația strănepoților ei mă îngrijorează.
Oamenii ăștia oare știu că strugurii chiar nu pot crește PE (adică ‘afară din’, ca să fiu de-a dreptul pedant), stația spațială?

Până la urmă, bunica a călătorit cu trenul. În tren, pe tren… măcar a fugit pe lângă calea ferată. A făcut cu mâna, dintre gâște, atunci când trecea Orient Expresul!
Strănepoții ei sunt bombardați cu tot felul de teorii… Că americanii n-au fost, de fapt, pe lună… Că Pământul e plat, că vaccinurile nu sunt bune și că ăsta pentru ‘Covrig’ are un cip de la Bilgheitz…

Facem și noi un pic de ordine?
În viețile noastre, nu altundeva!

Mi-am luat cuptor.

A venit cu instrucțiuni

Bon apetit!

After ‘firing’ Trump, the President, America’s most important stake-holders, “we, the People”, are scrambling to adapt to what Trump had laid bare.

Books are being written.
Many blame Trump. And explain, in detail, what he had done while manning the Oval Office.

The G.O.P. is somewhat fractured. Some want to get over Trump, others to hide behind his still towering presence.
The Dems act like he was a mere accident. One which can, and they are hard at work attempting to do it, be ‘band-aided’ with some money. Government money, of course.

A few years ago, I had read an interesting article claiming that Trump had been made possible by the media.
Googling to find it, I stumbled upon another. Which summarizes what Trump had done to the media

I still have to find, only I’ve lost patience, an explanation for what had ‘fed’ Trump.
Trump as social phenomenon…

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.
Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth.
Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.

Trump has made himself famous. Among others, for imparting new meaning to the concept of ‘fake-news’. And for using “alternative facts” to introduce us to an ‘alternative reality’. His…

Only his reality did have something in common with that faced by many of his fellow Americans.

Middle class incomes have shrunk 8.5 percent since 2000, after enjoying mostly steady growth during the previous decade. In 2011, the average income for the middle 60 percent of households stood at $53,042, down from $58,009 at the start of the millennium.

Oops!
Suddenly, Trump’s ‘alternative’ reality – part of it, at least, has become one with that experienced by “we, the People”. By a majority of them, anyway.

What made so many people – dispirited, undoubtedly, believe that a self professed pussy grabber and proud member of the Washington establishment would solve their real-life problems… by ‘draining’ the very ‘swamp’ in which he had grown to his present stature … that’s something for other people to explain.

My point being that Trump’s behavior had very closely followed that of Goethe’s Apprentice Sorcerer. He had used his uncanny knack of playing hide-and-seek with reality to climb into the Oval Office only to be fired after one mandate.
To be the first American President who had survived two impeachments.
And the second one who had witnessed – more or less unmoved, the untimely demise of half a million Americans due to disease

But the first who had done that during a mostly peaceful mandate. Pandemic, true enough, but otherwise peaceful.

NB. The ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic, which had happened during Woodrow Wilson’s mandate, had caused the death of 675 000 Americans. Only that had occurred just after a world war, when viruses hadn’t yet been discovered and man hadn’t yet walked on the Moon.

What will happen next?

Who knows… Goethe’s poem had a relatively happy ending because a master sorcerer was at hand. Who had solved the problem with a swift gesture of his powerful wand.

No such easy solution is available now.
But one thing has become clear.
Again…

Two things, actually.
Too many dispirited people eventually become a powerful – and highly unstable, ‘Petri dish’. Where all kinds of ‘social experiments’ might ‘spontaneously’ explode.
And playing with people’s passions might take you places. But will, almost always, end up badly.

I’ve been an avid reader all my life.

Libraries, book shops – new and second hand, used to be my home away from home.

Communism crumbling under it’s own weight in my home country, Romania, widened even more my already special relationship with the written word.
Books nobody would even had dared to dream about got translated into Romanian.
Or even got imported in original.

As borders became more and more open, I’ve also ‘imported’ some myself.

The honeymoon lasted for a while.
Only at some point I was no longer ‘comfortable’ in most bookshops. If anything, there was ‘too much of it’. Too much of the good stuff, to much ‘noise’… Not enough time to read everything I would have liked to… so I gave up.
I gave up compulsively visiting book shops, not reading…

Then, in 2007, something happened.
Anthony Frost English Bookshop” happened.

A real place hosting literature, arts, non-fiction and comic books from all around the world.

The really special thing about it?
There was no ‘noise’ in there!
None of the books I’d found on its shelves ever seemed ‘out of place’. Most of them, of course, were of little – if any at all, interest for me. Yet they seemed worthwhile, if you understand what I mean.

The good thing lasted for almost 10 years.

At some point I found a ‘closing soon’ placard hanging on the door.
I didn’t even enter that day. Too sad.

I can’t say I’d given up visiting book shops.
Only that I had stopped doing it with gusto.
And, certainly, that I had given up perusing book store shelves.

I’d started to rely of friends ‘telling’ me what to read.
Real life friends, Facebook friends… you name it.

And I continued to do it.
Only my scope had become nearer and nearer.
Without even realizing what was going on….

Until a good friend of mine – a real life friend, told me – on Facebook, that Anthony Frost was alive and kicking!

Hiding behind a different name, a few hundreds meters from the old place, but the very same thing.
A rather small location full to the brink with the good stuff!

Visiting it, and perusing its shelves, I realized – with a shudder, that my intellectual bubble had shrunk.
Became ‘deeper’ – debatable, but certainly narrower!

Go find your own books!

Anthony Frost, in Bucharest, is a good place to start!
Or to rekindle your love affair with the printed word.

“The Texas educational system inundates the children with the almost mythical stories of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and other Texan heroes. This perpetuates the feeling that Texans are superior to others. Social Identity Theory claims that in-group biases are a direct need to feel superior to another group. By reinforcing such ideals of Texas history at an early age, they are indirectly making Texans feel superior to other states.”

Don’t mess with Texas, Justin R.Erenkranz, retrieved on February 18, 2021

In fact, Texans are so proud of their state, and so confident in themselves, that their power grid, run by ERCOT – Electric Reliability Council of Texas, has no connections linking it to the outside world.
Yes, your eyes are OK. Texas – most of it, anyway, cannot import electric energy. No matter what!

For those who know anything about power management, this is insane.
For the rest of the people, this sounds like gibberish.

Who cares where the power comes from?!?

Until it stops coming… exactly when you need it most!

Texas produces and consumes more electricity than any other state, but it is the only state in the continental United States that runs a stand-alone electricity grid, which was designed to keep the state’s energy system independent and isolated from other markets.

‘OK. But surely, there are also other systems which are independent. And isolated. What about Hawai’i? It’s too far away to connect itself with anybody else and it’s doing just fine.’

True enough. And I can name a few more, easily. Only most of them are independent because they are isolated, not by design.
And, exactly because they are isolated, they are run with utmost care. More precautions are taken than in ‘normal’ situations.

‘Precaution’ meaning, in this case, spare capacity.
The responsible people running those systems make sure that, when push comes to shove, somebody is there to deliver the goods. The megawatts of power.

Since 2010, ERCOT’s reserve margin – the buffer between what it can produce vs. forecasted demand – has dropped to about 10% from about 20%. This has put pressure on generators during electricity demand spikes, making the grid less flexible, NERC said.

NERC stands for North American Electric Reliability Corporation. Which corporation, in December 2020, had released “a long term reliability study” maintaining that “ERCOT’s market and system operations have been successful over the last several years even as demand has continued to rise in Texas“. It was the same study which had mentioned that the grid was becoming “less flexible“….

SEC Rule 156 requires mutual funds to tell investors not to base their expectations of future results on past performance before they invest.

Oops…

Reality is an Acquired Taste.

Past performance is not… John Brown, Forbes, 2016

Maybe we need to reconsider our infatuation with ‘just in time management’.
While ‘just in time management’ maximizes profits by streamlining inventory, it works its magic only when everything goes according to plan. And the stricter the streamlining, the harsher the consequences of anything not going according to plan!

As people in Texas have just learned.

And there’s something else which bothers me ever since I’ve started writing this post.
How much sense does it make to be able to pipe oil all the way down from Canada to the refineries lining the Gulf of Texas when you end up freezing to death because you don’t have enough electricity to operate those refineries?!?

And no, I’m not making fun of the ordinary people who suffer the consequences!
This being the moment when I feel the need to remind you that the author of this blog – that’s me, tries to asses the consequences of our limited consciousness. Of the fact that none of us knows much. And, furthermore, that very few of us admit that!
Which consequences might be – as too often are, tragic.

Specially when those who are not aware that their knowledge is limited happen to be invested with critical decision power.

Vorbeam în postarea precedentă despre nevoia societății ca generațiile succesive să fie bine conectate între ele.
Despre nevoia societății, în ansamblul ei, ca educația să fie efectivă. Ca informațiile să circule de la o generație la alta.

Tocmai pentru ca generațiile ulterioare să nu repete, aiurea, greșelile săvârșite deja de generațiile precedente.

Muzeele sunt unele dintre locurile care facilitează transferul de informație.
Doar că efectele transferului depind în mod esențial de modul în care este ambalată înformația. Informația care urmează să fie transferată…

Așa că!

Ce urmărim?

Să ne convingem singuri că orânduirea comunistă a fost o oroare?
Mai avem nevoie de chestia asta? N-am reușit încă să transmitem singuri acest lucru generației care nu a experimentat, pe pielea ei, ororile ce urmează să fie puse în evidență?
Nu cumva asta sugerează că noi înșine nu am fost suficient de convinși?

Sau vrem să vaccinăm noile generații împotriva virusului autoritarismului?
Și atunci trebuie să transferăm și informația cu privire la circumstanțele în care:

„Timp de 68 de ani, România a avut cel mai opresiv regim totalitar dintre statele foste comuniste. La noi, cei care făceau parte din elita societății, dacă nu au fost omorâți de-a dreptul, au fost târâți în închisori, în lagărele de muncă silnică sau, în cel mai bun caz, au fost persecutați, hărțuiți, cu domiciliu! forțat, cu drepturi interzise, într-un cuvânt: anihilați.”

Profit.ro

Vrem să le transmitem copiilor noștri doar cât de slabi am fost noi?
Sau vrem să-i ajutăm să înțeleagă succesiunea de greșeli comise de generațiile care s-au succedat de la mijlocul secolului XIX și până în zilele noastre?

Pentru asta ar fi nevoie de două lucruri.

În primul rând să înțelegem noi, generația care suntem astăzi la butoane, că toată țara a fost scena „ororilor comunismului”.
Că ororile „comunismului din Capitală” au fost doar un caz special al ororilor puse la cale în fiecare colțișor al țării.

În al doilea rând, este nevoie ca Muzeul de Istorie a Comunismului din Romania să prezinte și particularitățile istorice care au dat ‘o intensitate specială’ comunismului din România.
Atât cele de origine externă: prezența trupelor sovietice și, mai ales, interesele geopolitice și istorice ale intelighenției de la Kremlin.
Cât și pe cele deja prezente.

“În martie 1949, Plenara Comitetului Central al Partidului Munctoresc Român decisese colectivizara agriculturii, dar Galațiul și Vrancea rămăsese printre ultimele județe ”libere”, pentru că aici ”oamenii locului erau îndărătnici, iar sărăcimea, puțină”.”

Cu alte cuvinte, activiștii comuniști – sprijiniți de sovietici, și-au putut face mendrele aici – mai abitir decât în restul lagărului comunist, tocmai pentru că la noi era mai multă „sărăcime”.

Înțelegem ceva din toată istoria asta?
Sau vrem să o mai aprofundăm odată?
Să mai experimentăm o tură de orori?

În toată țara, nu doar în ‘capitală’.

Anul acesta, pe caz de pandemie, ar urma ca procentul să scadă la 2.5%.

O fi bine? O fi rău?
O fi justificat ca atunci când avem nevoie de bani pentru autostrăzi să tăiem de la educație?
Sau, dacă vrem să pricepem ce se întâmplă cu adevărat, ar trebui să ne uităm și la cifrele absolute. La bani, nu doar la procente… Iar apoi și la execuția bugetară. Cât din bugetul alocat a fost cheltuit. Pe ce. Și cu ce rezultate.

Nu mi-am propus un blog de analiză economico-financiară.
Mă voi rezuma la a sădi întrebări.
Și la a trage concluzii personale.

Privesc diagrama și mă îngrozesc.
Pentru că mai am deschisă o pagină de net.

„Ultimul studiu, făcut la începutul lunii februarie, arată că peste 51% dintre români vor să se vaccineze împotriva COVID-19.”
„La acest moment avem aproape 60% dintre profesori care s-au înscris pentru a se vaccina.”
„Din rândul personalului didactic auxiliar peste 60%, 61-62% dintre persoanele din acest segment doresc să se vaccineze.”, a spus Genoveva Farcaş, inspector general şcolar ISJ Iaşi.”

Să presupunem că am căzut în cap.
Și că am uitat tot ce știam vreodată despre conceptul de vaccin.
Dar că țin minte ce înseamnă să fii profesor. Cadru didactic. Adică acel om care are menirea să învețe pe alții cum să învețe. Cum să citească și cum să caute informația de care are nevoie.

Păi dacă oamenii care trebuie să-i învețe pe conaționalii lor încă nu s-au hotărât cu privire la cum să reacționeze ‘pe caz de pandemie’… ce să ne mai mirăm de indecizia publicului larg…
Și asta la mai bine de un an de când virusul a început să ne rărească!
Să nu ne fi rărit destul?!?

Revenind la imaginea cu care am început, da, România cheltuiește mult prea puțini bani pentru educație.

Doar ca nu prea stiu cine ar trebui educati primii…

Publicul – și politicienii, cu privire la importanța sistemului de educație?
Astfel încât cei implicați în sistem să se poată bucura de toată considerația pe care ar trebui s-o merite!

Sau cei implicați deja în sistem?
Astfel încât să se ridice, cu adevărat, la înalțimea sarcinii pe care și-au asumat-o!

”Meseria de profesor nu şi-a pierdut doar “aura” prestigiului social, ci şi conţinutul. Cândva, profesorul era profesionistul unui domeniu…Acum, profesorul a ajuns un repetitor: mai înainte de toate nu are mijloacele de a se păstra în contact cu lucrurile semnificative din domeniul său, apoi nu mai are timpul, diponibilitatea (şi – de multe ori – nici formaţia necesară) pentru a le aprofunda. Cum s-a ajuns aici? Care a fost logica acestei decăderi?” 

Declasarea profesorimii române, Mihai Maci, Edupedu.ro, 2019.

Orice națiune care vrea să rămână vie are nevoie de solidaritate. Între individualitățile care constituie fiecare generație și între generații.
Generația tânără va crește sub influența celor aflate deja la maturitate.
Iar cea aflată la senectute se va bucura, sau nu, de sprijinul generațiilor pe care le-a ajutat să crească.
Iar fiecare dintre generații va avea doar atâta forță cât va fi în stare să genereze. Să genereze împreună. Ca o echipă. Ca o echipă constituită din colegi care se respectă între ei.

Înțelegem chestiile astea?
Facem în așa fel, împreună, încât cei care au chemare pentru catedră să aibe curajul să-și urmeze chemarea?
O vom duce, de la o generație la alta, din ce în ce mai bine.


Ne lăsăm în voia lui „după mine, potopul”?
Atunci vom avea surpriza să experimentăm potopul. Pe pielea noastră!

‘Are you nuts? or something?
Isn’t exactly this what the Europeans had been doing all over the world? For the last five centuries?
And you attempt to ‘nuance’ it?
Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?!?’

Ashamed of what some of my predecessors have done, yes!
Also ashamed of what some of my contemporaries are doing.
Right now, as opposed to back then.

And since there’s nothing to be done about the past, but to learn from it, and everything to be done about the future, right now, I’d rather have at least some of those statues still standing.

In public squares!
Maybe not in the same places, maybe not in the same settings. But still in public!
Hiding them in museums would mean taking them out of the limelight. Out of public scrutiny!
If we are to learn anything from past mistakes we must focus on them. Putting those statues aside because we feel too strongly about them would only serve those who don’t want to admit mistakes had been perpetrated. Who actually don’t want to own our past.

Those who had promoted Jim Crow legislation had erected the confederate statues as a symbol of their regained public influence.
Obliterating the statues won’t make anything suddenly right. The consequences of Jim Crow won’t disappear, as if by magic, along with the statues. They didn’t disappear when the legislation had been abolished and they won’t disappear now.
If we want to put the past behind us, we must accomplish what has to be accomplished. We need to make things right, not hide away the prickliest pieces of evidence.

Demolishing statues won’t help any of those living in still segregated neighborhoods. Won’t help the children going to heavily underfunded schools. And so on…
Demolishing statues will only help those who will certainly ask, in a few short years, if nothing changes in our hearts and minds:

What more do they want?!?

We’ve even dispatched those damn statues!!!

‘Handicap’ has become a dirty word…
Somewhat strange, given the breadth of its meaning. Horses get handicapped in order to even their chances to win a race. Yachts get handicapped so that different makes might participate in the same race… In these situations, its an ‘honor’ to be handicapped…

Then why has this concept, ‘political correctness’, become so ‘popular’?

You might already be familiar with the ‘upfront’ explanation.

“political correctness has reset the standards for civility and respect in people’s day-to-day interactions.”

Rethinking Political Correctness, Robin J. Ely et all, HBR Magazine, 2006

I’m convinced there was something more.
Civility and respect haven’t been invented yesterday. We’ve been polite for quite a while now.

Yeah, only politeness had been invented, and polished, when society was way more hierarchical than in is now.
In those times, when a ‘superior’ told somebody ‘you idiot’ that somebody paused to think. The ‘idiot’ could not dismiss what the ‘superior’ had just told him. The ‘idiot’ really had to make amends. He was so busy trying to correct himself that he couldn’t allow himself to feel offended. If anything, he was grateful. The ‘superior’ had made the effort to help the ‘idiot’ improve himself instead of dispatching him altogether.
In modern times, even before PC had become fashionable, calling someone’s attention about how idiotic he was behaving only made him angry. Hence dismissive and unresponsive. In an era when all people had become peers, a new ‘manner of speaking’ had to be invented in order for ‘information’ to be made ‘palatable’.

The process had been successful.
So successful that the same approach had been used when dealing with other ‘hot’ subjects. Race, gender… ‘inclusion’ in general…

In fact, the process had become too successful for its own good!

Some of the ‘enthusiasts’ have reached the conclusion that ‘everything’ is open for reconsideration.
That ‘everything’ should be closely reexamined.
According to the ideological lenses worn by the examiners, of course…

Unfortunately, the end result is rather messy.

Instead of facilitating the dialog, the stiffer and stiffer set of ‘appropriate’ ‘rules of engagement’ has almost stifled any transfer of meaningful information.

“Despite this obvious progress, the authors’ research has shown that political correctness is a double-edged sword. While it has helped many employees feel unlimited by their race, gender, or religion, the PC rule book can hinder people’s ability to develop effective relationships across race, gender, and religious lines.”

Ibid.

Not only that people find it harder and harder to understand each-other, ‘things’ themselves become blurry.

Let me give you a recent example.

In the US, many of the ex-confederated States have started to reconsider the statues commemorating ‘famous Southern figures’.
The vast majority of which had been built between 1890 and 1950, during the Jim Crow era.
Simultaneously, like minded activists have recently toppled Edward Colton’s statue in Bristol, England.

Are these two ‘developments’ similar, as PC would mandate us to understand?

Jefferson Davies – a very ‘familiar statue’ in the US, had been the President of the Confederate States of America. A slave owner himself, he was a “champion of the unrestricted expansion of slavery into the territories.” And the statues glorifying him had been erected, during the Jim Crow era, as a reminder to the fact that the Confederation may had lost the war but things hadn’t change that much.
Edward Colston, on the other side of the Atlantic, had not been a slave owner per se. In the sense that he didn’t put slaves to work for him. He was ‘only’ a purveyor of slaves. He had ‘only’ kidnapped African people and then sold them, as slaves, on the other side of the Atlantic. 10 to 20% of which had died, in horrible conditions, during the voyage. As a consequence of his ‘efforts’, Colston had become a very rich man. He had ended his involvement in the slave trading business some 30 years before his death – 1721, and used much of his wealth for charity. His statue had been built in 1895 and many of the buildings which had been raised with the money bequeathed by him bear his name. Some of those buildings are used to house schools, others as almshouses.

Now, do the statues of these two people stand for the same thing?
And no, I’m not trying to discern between two villains!

Each of them had done an immense amount of harm and had produced endless suffering. People are still smarting to this day because of what both of them had done.
Only there are some differences between them. One had also done some good in his life. While the other had been used, after his death and without his consent, as a symbol. After he had, directly, kept people in slavery he had also been used to further the sufferings of black people.

Are we capable of seeing any of these differences?
Or are we too angry to differentiate?

Do you remember why we had invented political correctness in the first place?

Despite this obvious progress, the authors’ research has shown that political correctness is a double-edged sword. While it has helped many employees feel unlimited by their race, gender, or religion, the PC rule book can hinder people’s ability to develop effective relationships across race, gender, and religious lines. Companies need to equip workers with skills—not rules—for building these relationships.


“The popularity of authors like Deutsch, Sandbrook and Foote – men of very different calibre in many different ways, but all wordsmiths who form history into desirably unchallenging packages for certain kinds of audience – is undeniable. It points to a conclusion that the wider historical profession, from schoolteachers to internationally renowned critical scholars, struggles to overcome. People, and specially people from priviledged groups, do not want historians to tell them bad things about their tresured identities. They will, indeed, forcefully react against such challenges, when given the political rallying-calls that allow them to do so. In that sense, it must be said, they do not want history. They want what they are increasingly getting: a cosy blanket of half remembering and convenient forgetting that is cushioning their slide down the slope to full-blown cultural dementia.”

Cultural Dementia, David Andress, 2018

If you have the stomach for the whole of it…

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