Archives for posts with tag: herding

do as the Romans do.

According to, “it has become shortened so often, some people don’t get it anymore. It’s an analogy making use of the strict rule of the ancient Roman empire”

Wikipedia mentions that it’s “a proverb attributed to Saint Ambrose”, meaning “that it is advisable to follow the conventions of the area in which you are residing or visiting.”

OK, seems sensible to follow the rules, specially when their are enforced vigorously. Furthermore, why rock the boat – specially when visiting a place? Or shortly after you’ve just moved in?

How about after becoming familiar with the local mores?


fall of Rome


Could there be anything more behind these words?

The proverb dates from an era when Rome was the center of the world. Of the Mediterranean world, anyway…
Could it also mean ‘do as the Romans do and you’ll share into the benefits enjoyed by the rest of them’? In line with ‘don’t rock the boat, lest the others will throw you out’?

In other words, the proverb suggests that ‘herding is good for you’.

Which is true. Most of the time, anyway.

Specially when you know when to bail out…

In this context I must remind you that mighty Rome ended up being sacked by a succession of rogue thieves… some of them hired by the emperors to guard the borders because the Roman citizens had became too ‘adept’ at ‘panem et circenses’ to bother anymore with bearing arms…

It seems that not all things done by the Romans were actually worth doing.

How about exercising our brains instead of sheepishly following the herd?
No need to insult the others, ‘rock the boat’ or anything else dramatic.
Just honestly give them the reasons for your dissent.
If they are wise – and you are right, of course, they’ll come your way.

If not… you should either follow the rules… or change the herd.



Deflation ‘for dummies’.


Consumer prices may not be deflating as quickly as Labour’s electoral chances did earlier this month, but — even after £300 billion of quantitative easing — price deflation for the first time in more than half a century is finally here. The Bank of England continues to throw everything at keeping prices rising at close to their 2 percent target. Yet it’s not working. And this is not just about cheaper oil. Core inflation has also been dropping like a rock.

I argued that “deflation was looming” for Britain last year, and feel a little vindicated that it has come to pass. But I don’t feel at all gratified about the thing itself.

In a highly indebted economy such as Britain’s — where private debt dwarfs government debt — deflation is a dangerous thing. Past debts — and the interest rates paid on those debts — are nominally rigid. Unless specifically…

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urine powered generator

So what do we have here?

Four crafty teenage Nigerian girls have put together an ingenuous rig for a ‘science and technology’ fair.

“The system works like this:

Along the whole way there are one-way valves for security, but let’s be honest that this is something of an explosive device…”

A well meaning ‘eager beaver’ journalist wanting to help promote their exploit  has branded the whole contraption as an ‘urine powered generator’.

An then the hell broke loose:

It is all over the Internet and news, three Nigerian school girls have invented a urine-powered generator that can produce electricity for 6 hours from a single litre of urine!

Really? Sadly, no.

I can’t find an original source for this story, where did it come from? [was it here?] Are there really some Nigerian school girls with a urine-powered generator or is this just a hoax? Either way, all those journalists that repeated the story really should be ashamed of themselves, it is so obviously wrong and/or untrue.”


I’m not in the business of apportioning blame all over the internet but after finding out about this succession of events I started to have serious doubts about who is wrong and who should be ashamed of themselves….

I’m sure that most of you have already understood where I’m headed to but please bear with me.

So OK, the ‘eager beaver’ has indeed stretched the reality a little bit. It’s not an ‘urine powered generator’ but an ingenuous ‘science project’ presented by some teen age students.
So what was it that brought the wrath of the ‘eco-scammer’ on those ‘poor’ girls? Or even on the writer of the original article…
Who, and where, claimed that the contraption produced more energy than it consumed? Yes, those arguments involving thermodynamics and all that scientific mambo-jumbo that he is mentioning inside his article are absolutely correct (“trust me, I’m an engineer”, a real one that is) but perfectly misplaced.
As is the original title but while that title is an innocent exaggeration the second article is a malicious  (or myopic?) and undeserved rebuttal.

Getting back to what had started all this, that ‘thing’ is not a ‘generator’ but can be used as an accumulator!
Solar panels produce energy when the sun is up but people need light at night, obviously.
Even more importantly, solar panels produce a type of current (DC) which can be used to ‘split’ water into hydrogen and oxygen and to light a special kind of bulb but for little else. If you want to power a ‘modern appliance’, a refrigerator for instance, you need an inverter – a pricy device that transforms DC into AC.
On the other hand the type of gas powered generator used by those crafty students is relatively cheap and common enough almost everywhere in the world. Adapting it to run on hydrogen is easy, this feat was not even mentioned in the original article.

So the real meaning of what those 4 girls did is that they came up with a way to replace a costly scheme comprising a lot of batteries and an inverter with a gas bottle, an already largely available gas powered generator, an electrolytic cell and two filters.

Not a small feat, by any means!
If you take some time to think about it, of course.

And yes, there are four girls that did this, not three like the ‘eco-scammer’, who probably didn’t even bother to read the original article, wrote insouciantly after merely taking a glance at the photo that came with the inappropriately titled  news.

The original story can be read here:
and the ‘eco-scammer’ rebuttal here:


There is a intense debate going on in some circles about this subject.
Some think that vaccines are poisonous because some of them contain traces of mercury.
Some others believe that autism can appear, at least in part, as a reaction to certain vaccines.

No real proof has ever been presented for any of those assertions yet the storm is raging on.

Here is my take on this.

Basically we have two kinds of infectious diseases that can be prevented through vaccination.
Some that have high mortality rates or survivors are left with permanent damages: small pox, polio and rabies come to my mind right now.
Others that are milder or just a nuisance, for most people at least. Measles, mumps, chickenpox… Of course, there are people who develop serious consequences from having one of these, for instance mumps can be a real problem if had at an older age and chickenpox is really dangerous for pregnant women, but on the whole this second category is less dangerous than the first.
Now what I would really like to know is would anyone seriously consider not vaccinating their children for the first category of diseases IF MOST OF THE GENERAL POPULATION HADN’T ALREADY BEEN VACCINATED?

I know that there are some religious extremists who try to disrupt immunization against polio in their countries. This only fuels my dilemma: what does it really mean to be a rational human being?


I received a message containing this picture in my mail, accompanied by some text extolling Truman’s actions after he left the White House. Whenever I want to check something found in the Internet I use This was one of those rare occasions when the verdict was ‘mostly true’. 

What happened to us in such a short period of time?
Have we lost the good habit of telling bedtime stories to our children and this has already changed us?

“”Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” — Harry S. Truman 

After President Truman retired from office in 1952, he was left with an income consisting of basically just a U.S. Army pension, reported to have been only $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the president, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.” 

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.” 

We now see that other past presidents, have found a new level of success in cashing in on the presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Obviously, political offices are now for sale. 

Good old Harry Truman could have been correct when he observed, “My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference. I, for one, believe the piano player job to be much more honorable than current politicians.” “


A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a link from Upworthy about an al Jazeera interview with a legislator who is pushing an antiabortion bill. Since the story was nicely packaged I followed the link.

Rachel Maddow/MSNBC resuming what happened in the interview before the question that started all this:

“He tells al Jazeera that what he really wants is for there to be no legal abortion at all in Ohio except to save a woman’s life.”

And now we get to see an excerpt from that interview:
“- Reporter: What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?
– State Rep. Jim Buchy: Well, there’s probably a lot of… I’m not a woman, so I… I’m thinking, if I’m a woman, why would I want to get a… Some of it has to do with economics. A lot of it has to do with economics. I don’t know, it’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”

As an ethnic Romanian who lived for 20 years in a country were women were sometimes left to die at the orders of the secret police if they had tried to induce abortions on themselves and doctors were regularly sent to prison if they dared perform one outside the extremely narrow limits of the (communist) law I shared the link on my FB wall.

I received this very pertinent and absolutely logical comment:

“Somebody proposes we have a law that prohibits individuals killing other individuals… unless in self-defense. Someone asks somebody – Why would someone want to kill somebody? I never thought about why someone would want to kill somebody… he just forgot to add that that has little to do with the proposed ordinance … which seeks to protect life! Now why would one want to protect life… the answer is self evident!”

And this was my answer:

“(Dear friend) from the point of view that ‘life has to be preserved, no matter what’ you are, of course, right. All that is left for us to do is to settle among ourselves the exact moment when an embryo becomes life.
I’m afraid though that all this is about something different. Not more important than (individual) human life, just different.
About how others get to determine what happens to/with US based on THEIR convictions.

‘I don’t really care about what makes a woman wish to have an abortion, I just say she shouldn’t have any opportunity to do such a thing’.”


“A new study tested whether people believe free will arises from a metaphysical basis or mental capacity. Even though most respondents said they believed humans to have souls, they judged free will and assigned blame for transgressions based on pragmatic considerations—such as whether the actor in question had the capacity to make an intentional and independent choice.” 

OK so people have understood that what sets us apart from the other animals is our ability “to make an intentional and independent choice“.

But don’t you think we need to exercise in order to maintain that ‘capacity’? “Use it or loose it”, remember?

Yet everyday we give up some of our autonomy. Sometime in the name of safety, as in this case, other times in the name of increased efficiency/smaller prices.

No, I’m not exaggerating and no, I don’t think Google does it on purpose.
You see, so many of us have boring jobs where we don’t have anything else to do but to almost blindly follow procedures. This way we slowly become automata. We work (‘operate’?!?) like one, we eat standardized food, we learn the same ‘common core’, we watch the same bland and undemanding TV shows. A considerable proportion of the modern day people exercise their free will and ability to ‘fend off on their own’ only when driving, mostly to and from the workplace. Now we are going to give this up, too.
I don’t think Google is part of a worldwide conspiracy meant to transform most of us in dumb consumers/lame but highly productive workers, it’s just that they happen to have at their disposal what it takes to implement this technology and the rational incentive to do it. What else for the people being transported to do during this ‘freed’ time but to happily Google away on the interactive touch screen those ‘cars’ will come adorned with? Now who would have thought of a thing like that?!?

But I repeat and the study I cited from above proves me right. We should not blame ‘the technology’! It can not choose so it cannot be at fault for anything. It is only us that can decide how to use whatever technology lies in wait under our fingertips.

We are sole responsible for our fate.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against this concept, as such. Wonderful things can be achieved using this technology, just watch the video below. But please use every opportunity you have to exercise your ability to decide for yourself.




Somebody forwarded to me an email, in Romanian, about this incident. I read it this morning.

Basically it was a translation of the article published by the Russian Radio, available here.

Two things have grabbed my attention:

After the incident, the foreign media reported that “Donald Cook” was rushed into a port in Romania. There all the 27 members of the crew filed a letter of resignation. It seems that all 27 people have written that they are not going to risk their lives. This is indirectly confirmed by the Pentagon statement according to which the action demoralized the crew of the American ship.”


“The system with which the Russian Su-24 shocked the American destroyer “Donald Cook” has the code name “Khibiny”. This is the name of the mountain range on the Kola Peninsula in the Arctic Circle. “Khibiny” is the newest complex for radioelectronic jamming of the enemy. They will be installed on all the advanced Russian planes .
Recently the complex has undergone regular testing exercises on the ground in Buryatia. Apparently, the tests which were conducted under conditions as close to real as possible, were successful.”

So 27 American Navy personnel were scarred shitless by an extremely powerful experimental device soon to be deployed on ‘all the advanced Russian planes’!

OK, let’s get this straight. I’m no privy to any military secrets, Russian or American. For all I care/know this might have taken place ‘as advertised’. But there is one thing I know for certain, the Russians have actually published this article. So lets see what we can gather from this, undeniable, fact.

There are two main possibilities.

1. The whole thing is a bogus. Well, not entirely, the fly by has actually taken place, so only the spin out might be considered an elaborate invention. Why? D.J. Dyer offers a very pertinent reason:Donald Cook is the first of our permanently forward-stationed ballistic missile defense (BMD) warships, which we’ve been planning to put in the European theater as part of the Obama “substitute” for the Bush 43 missile defense plan.” so the Russians couldn’t afford to loose the opportunity to raise the issue one more time.
2. The Russians have indeed developed a very efficient “complex for radioelectronic jamming of the enemy” and … used an experimental version in an actual encounter with a potential enemy, even before massively deploying it on the the rest of their Air Force?!? Does any of this make any sense?

Actually yes. It makes some sense.
Judging by the fact that somebody took the trouble to translate and disseminate the article in other languages than Russian and English means that that somebody thinks the effort is worthwhile. People have forwarded it  so, at least apparently, the whole thing got some traction. After reading the comments on the original link that impression is beefed up even more.

But what if we dig a little deeper?
To me at least it starts to smell like desperation. Do you remember how much hype Hitler made about his ‘secret weapons’ towards the end of WWII? No I won’t dismiss altogether the Russian military establishment, it still is very capable of throwing a hefty punch. The problems arise, exactly as they did in Hitler’s case, from the extreme concentration of decision power in present day Russia. Dictators tend to become elongated from the real world and to see nothing but enemies everywhere they look around. Enemies that have to be frightened into submission, no matter how, no matter what. In fact it’s more about alleviating  one’s own fears (dictator’s own fears) than anything else. Hiding desperation under a blanket of extreme aggression.

One other thing. Romania suffered for some 40 years the rigors of communist rule. During 25 of those years if somebody would have disseminated news about how strong the Americans were and how they had humiliated the Red Army that person would have gotten a hefty prison term  for defeatism and propaganda favorable to the enemy. Nowadays bashing America is …. you find the right word… No, the Americans are not whiter than Snow White but piling on their heads things that don’t belong there isn’t helpful for any of us.


Freud sustine pe undeva ca abia atunci cand te ia gura pe dinainte spui cu adevarat ce ganduri iti trec prin cap si apoi propune o metoda de analiza a cuvintelor scapate fara voie din ‘gurile pacatosilor’.

Ia sa vedem ce iese daca aplicam principiul asta asupra sloganurilor electorale.

– “Trimitem la Bruxelles oameni Mandri ca sunt Romani, care vor apara Romania.”

Cam toti Romanii sunt mandri de apartenenta lor etnica asa ca partea asta este oarecum neutra, nici nu spune mare lucru si nici nu individualizeaza prea tare pe cei care folosesc sloganul. Exista totusi un mic semn de intrebare, mandria asta e doar asa, in general, sau se refera, direct sau indirect, la starea actuala a Romaniei si, mai ales, la directia in care se indreapta aceasta? Ma refer aici, bineinteles, la clasica intrebare din toate chestionarele de sondare a opiniei publice.
‘Oameni care vor apara Romania, la Bruxelles’.
‘Vor apara Romania…’ in principiu iarasi e OK …dar care Romania? Status quo-ul actual? Poporul in intregimea lui? Traditiile, granitele…? ‘Directia in care se indreapta tara’?
‘Vor apara Romania la Bruxelles’?!? De cine? Parca cei de la Bruxelles ne erau prieteni si urma sa ne aparam impreuna cu ei, nu? Vor apara Romania de imixtiunile birocratilor de la Bruxelles? De care dintre ele? De cele care ne deranjeaza pe toti, cum ar fi aiureala aia cu micii sau tot felul de alte sicane birocratice sau de insistentele lor sa ne facem o data ordine in batatura? (NB, nu ca ‘la ei’ ar fi totul in regula dar noi avem vorba aia foarte inteleapta cu ‘fa ce spune popa, nu ce face popa’ asa ca…)

Eurocampionii. Puterea de a schimba. 

Mobilizator si continand promisiunea implicita a unei schimbari, ceea ce ar trebui sa-i atraga pe cei nemultumiti de situatia actuala. Pe de alta parte, promisiunea este destul de vaga, de generala. In spirit liberal, intr-adevar, promisiunea se margineste sa ne ofere un spatiu de libertate pe care urmeaza sa il modelam noi insine, liberalii propunandu-si doar sa ne ofere conditiile, energia necesara schimbarii. Pe de alta parte e atat de imprecisa incat multa lume se intreaba nedumerita: ‘schimbare, schimbare, dar incotro vreti sa ne duceti?!?’
Pai exact aici e clou-ul. Nu vor sa ne duca nicaieri ci vor doar sa ne creeze conditiile necesare ca sa putem reinvata sa ne purtam singuri de grija.
Sau cel putin asa ar trebui sa faca un partid cu adevarat liberal si cam asa s-ar traduce, cu bunavointa, sloganul lor electoral.
Pana la urma dupa fiecare runda de alegeri, in afara de un numar de alesi, ramanem si cu cate o masuratoare extrem de precisa asupra ethosului popular de la un moment dat. In cazul asta sloganul pare a fi fost selectionat mai degraba ca o intrebare de pe un chestionar de sondaj decat ca un indemn mobilizator adresat nehotaratilor. Totusi, poate e mai bine asa. Nu promite nimic ce n-ar putea fi facut, bineinteles cu conditia ca populatia sa dea aceasta putere de a schimba unora care sa nu abuzeze de ea. Si dupa aceea tot populatia sa pazeasca acea putere cu foarte multa gelozie.

Europa in fiecare casa.

Principala calitate a acestui slogan este ca se pozitioneaza la antipodul celui care promite sa apere Romania la Bruxelles. Si totusi… chiar in fiecare casa? Tocmai acum cand restul Europei a inceput sa-i faca scandal Unchiului Sam ca inregistreaza prea multe convorbiri telefonice? Abia ce-am scapat de ‘Stalin si poporul rus libertate ne-au adus’ si acum ne punem singuri ‘fir scurt’ cu Bruxelles-ul, in fiecare casa? Parca depasisem faza “1984”! Sau poate ca nu?!?

Noi ridicam Romania.

Pana unde? Si mai ales de ce? Ca sa vedem si noi cum e sa sarim cu parasuta? De nevoie, ca de placere…

Schimba-i cu forta

Nu, multumesc. Am mai incercat o data in ’89 si tot cine a trebuit a iesit la suprafata. De data asta as prefera sa o luam mai pe-indelete si mai ales institutional. Ca da-ia ne socotim a fi stat de drept.

Furatul ucide.

Asta e o constatare cumva? Daca e asa atunci e perfect. Iata pe unii care si-au dat seama ca orice organism social care permite membrilor sai sa fure se indreapta negresit spre pieire. Dar parca sloganurile astea se refera la viitor, sunt un fel de promisiuni, nu?
Pana la urma ce isi propun sa faca? Sa-i omoare pe hoti? Pe toti sau doar pe unii dintre ei? Cum o sa-i aleaga? Sa fure ei tot ca sa se termine o data cu balciul asta?




Nu ne mai vaccinam copiii,
In schimb le lasam mostenire o gramada de datorii,
Iar atunci cand vine vorba de cheltuit banul public nu reusim sa ne intelegem la imparteala

Cat o sa mai tina chestia asta oare?

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