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Archive for the ‘Conexiuni’ Category

Blog Walk (Spălare de bani)

The Little Bank That Did: “This is a case where banks play the role they are ideally meant to play, that is, they invest in the stabilization and growth of the community they’re part of, and wind up profiting in the long run from those investments.

It’s the way they did this that’s particularly remarkable—by literally laundering debris-covered dollar bills and handing them out to people in the days immediately following the Hurricane Katrina. […] Hancock gave out around $50 million in cash, with handwritten IOUs for contracts, and lost (only) about $200,000 of that when all was said and done. But in the 3 months following the storm, Hancock grew by $1.4 billion. It’s not hard to imagine that the kind of genuine investment they made in their community—both customers and not—earned so much loyalty.”

Casta samurailor, distrusă de cel mai neașteptat adversar: machiajul “Femeile aveau în oase cantități de plumb mult mai mari decât bărbații, ceea ce a dus la teoria că machiajul abundent folosit de acestea a fost vinovat de intoxicarea cu plumb. De fapt, celebra pudră albă care se aplică pe fața femeilor din Japonia a apărut ca modă în Epoca Edo, fiind adusă de gheișe, curtezane și actori. Nu mulți știu că machiajul de acest tip avea la bază mercurul și plumbul.  Odată intrată în uzul clasei samurailor, clasa conducătoare de altfel, plumbul din organismul femeilor s-a transmis copiilor samurailor prin laptele matern. Claselor sociale de jos le fusese interzis să poarte machiaj.”

Haruki Murakami şi deszăpezirea culturală: “Ceea ce-i reuşeşte atât de bine lui Haruki Murakami este construirea efectului de straniu, de întrebare niciodată rostită până la capăt, punerea ca pe o scenă a unor personaje care, privite îndeaproape, au fiecare un însemn al nefirescului: simpla recepţioneră a hotelului Delfin, Yumishina, trăieşte experienţe din afara timpului său pe holurile clădirii, Yuki, fetiţa de treisprezece ani, uitată parcă într-o lume a adulţilor, citeşte însemnele întâmplărilor, creându-i tot felul de dezechilibre emoţionale şi chiar fizice, prietenul mamei, Dick North, poetul cu o singură mână, starul de cinema Gotanda, a cărui posibilă sinucidere explică o moarte precedentă. Peste înlănţuirea acestor întâlniri, pentru că fiecare personaj este legat, într-un fel sau altul, de celălalt, se mişcă un detectiv ale cărui abilităţi de cercetare sunt inutile în lumea stranie a lui Murakami, şi, la un alt nivel al realităţii, Omul Oaie, figură solitară, care pare a scrie destinul fiecăruia.”

Common Interpretation of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle Is Proved False: “A. Steinberg of the University of Toronto in Canada and his team have performed measurements on photons (particles of light) and showed that the act of measuring can introduce less uncertainty than is required by Heisenberg’s principle. The total uncertainty of what can be known about the photon’s properties, however, remains above Heisenberg’s limit.

[…]Don’t get too excited: the uncertainty principle still stands, says Steinberg: “In the end, there’s no way you can know [both quantum states] accurately at the same time.” But the experiment shows that the act of measurement isn’t always what causes the uncertainty. “If there’s already a lot of uncertainty in the system, then there doesn’t need to be any noise from the measurement at all,” he says.”

Isaac Asimov și imortalitatea: “Every idea I’ve ever had I’ve written down. I won’t be gone – it will be there”


The New York Times – 10 recomandări

Topul celor mai bune 10 cărți ale anului 2012, în viziunea celor de la The New York Times, împărțite egal între fictiune și non-ficțiune:

The 10 Best Books of 2012

Tolstoi în București

Un bun subiect pentru o piesă de teatru sau un roman – evident nescrise:

„In March 1854 a young artillery officer by the name of Leo Tolstoy arrived at the headquarters of General Mikhail Gorchakov. He had joined the army in 1852, the year he had first come to the attention of he literary world with the publication of his memoir Childhood in the literary journal the Contemporary, the most important monthly periodical in Russia at that time. Dissatisfied with his frivolous way of life as an aristocrat in St. Petersburg and Moscow, he had decided to make a fresh start by following his brother Nikolai to the Caucasus when he returned from leave to his army unit there. Tolstoy was attached to an artillery brigade in the Cossack village of Starogladskaya in the northern Caucasus. […]

Aristocratic connections went a long way in the Russian army staff. Tolstoy was quickly caught up in the social whirl of Bucharest, attending dinners at the Prince’s house, games of cards and musical soirees in drawing rooms, evenings at the Italian opera and French theatre – a world apart from the bloody battlefields of the Danubian front just a few miles away. ‘While you are imagining me exposed to all the dangers of war, I have not yet smelt Turkish powder, but am very quietly at Bucharest, strolling about, making music, and eating ice-creams,’ he wrote to his aunt at the start of May.”

Din Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, 2010, via delanceyplace

Cele patru căi spre marea literatură

Ce distinge un roman bun de unul genial?

In the days of my youth, when I first took cognizance of… no, not books really, but rather what is called literature, I desperately wanted to know what set the great novels apart from the merely good. I paid the closest attention to professors, editors, theorists and other arbiters of taste, trying to figure out what made them attack certain works, praise others, and raise a cherished few to the status of modern masterpieces.


After long consideration and intense observation, I determined that there were four ways—and only four ways—that a contemporary novel could earn adulation from the literary establishment at that particular juncture in history. First, the novel could make its mark for its experimental excesses, and, in this case, the more difficult and insufferable the reader found the work, the more likely that it was a masterpiece. Second, the novelist could earn acclaim for a work, or even an entire oeuvre, by leading a lifestyle that was sufficiently bohemian, drug and alcohol ravaged or otherwise transgressive — think of Norman Mailer stabbing his wife, Ken Kesey ingesting massive quantities of LSD, etc. Third, a novelist could hit it out of the park by addressing a pressing social issue, employing fiction as a tool of advocacy for some righteous cause — a good book was a book that did good. Finally, if all else failed, a writer could take the path of Portnoy’s Complaint, Lolita and Updike’s collected works by mixing in dizzying doses of sex, preferably excluding the standard missionary position between husband and wife, and ideally leading to a book burning, obscenity charges from a D.A. in a southern state or, at a minimum, outraged parents demanding a novel’s removal from a school library.

Those were the four recipes. No others existed, as far as I could see. And if following them was still no guarantee of literary acclaim, certainly ignoring all four of them was a sure predictor of perdition. You took your pick, and made your best play. Then waited for the reviews to come in.

Ted Gioia pe The New Canon

Blog Walk (Mituri)

10 Stubborn Body Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science: „Myth 1: Body Hair Grows Back Thicker When You Shave It

Myth 2: Calories Counting Is All That Matters for Weight Management

Myth 3: You Need Eight Hours of Sleep Per Day

Myth 4: Reading in Dim Light Ruins Your Eyes

Myth 5: Urinating on a Jellyfish Sting will Sooth the Pain

Myth 6: Your Slow Metabolism Makes You Fat

Myth 7: You’ll Catch a Cold from Cold (and Wet) Weather Conditions

Myth 8: More Heat Escapes Through Your Head

Myth 9: High Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease

Myth 10: It’s Dangerous to Wake a Sleepwalker”

Psychobabble: Polygraph lies: „So what of the responses that the polygraph measures? The idea that respiration, heart rate or blood pressure are reliable indicators of deception is almost entirely unfounded and in effect the Polygraph test is nothing more than a fancy stress test. It will tell you that if people are nervous or not but in the context of a police interrogation, a reasonably stressful event on it’s own, it’s unlikely that you can determine that this nervousness is caused by an attempt at deception. One of the main issues is that people’s physiological activity differs wildly – someone who sweats a lot is more likely to be branded a liar by a polygraph test.”

10 Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science: „Myth 1: Never Use Wooden Cutting Boards with Meat

Myth 2: Adding Salt to Water Changes the Boiling Point, Cooks Food Faster

Myth 3: Low Fat Foods Are Always Better For You

Myth 4: Dairy Is The Best Thing For Healthy Bones

Myth 5: Everyone Should Drink 64-Ounces or 8 Glasses of Water Every Day

Myth 6: High-Sodium Foods Taste Salty, So Avoid Salty Snacks

Myth 7: Eating Eggs Will Jack Up Your Cholesterol

Myth 8: Searing Meat Seals In Juices

Myth 9: Aluminum Foil and Cookware Is Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Myth 10: Don’t Eat After 6/7/8PM”

The Agreeable Power of Sugar: „New research confirms an old cliche: you are what you eat. A team of psychologists recently found that not only are sweets-lovers perceived as more agreeable, but they may actually be more agreeable”

Blog Walk (La vreme de criză)

Trei camarazi. La vreme de criză: „Cu nenumărate propoziţii memorabile, una dintre specialităţile autorului, şi cu o încredere de nezdruncinat în viaţă şi în marile valori morale ale omului, Remarque îţi dă de înţeles în Trei camarazi că, mai ales la vremuri de criză, iubirea, prietenia, compasiunea şi demnitatea te ajută să nu te laşi doborît nici de lipsuri, nici de ajecţiile politicienilor care îşi fanatizează susţinătorii. Căci, metaforic vorbind, nu numai Patrice e bolnavă fără leac în acest roman, ci şi Germania liberă, veselă şi puţin naivă pe care o iubeşte tot mai disperat Remarque văzînd-o cum cade în mîinile celor care aveau să-i omoare libertatea şi veselia şi aveau s-o ducă la distrugere.”

Why Aren’t We Smarter?: „[…] the success of the system is achieved through balancing various aspects of cognitive performance by ensuring that no specific trait dominates to the exclusion of others.

While this doesn’t suggest that cognitive processes cannot be improved, it clearly indicates that one must be careful in assessing what constitutes improvement so that declines in abilities elsewhere are not masked or ignored. It also suggests that the simple „more is better” perspective doesn’t hold over the cognitive system.

This gives rise to a performance curve that will peak and then begin to decline, suggesting that there are upper bounds to the improvement of any particular cognitive trait, before it begins to impact other traits. A balance must be maintained so that subgoal achievement can be maximized.”

Do Vitamins Actually Work?: „I recommend vitamin B12 supplements for people who avoid animal products. In many cases, I recommend probiotic supplements. A healthy gut is very important for overall health, and too many people wreck their gut flora (aka the friendly critters in our colon that help with immunity and nutrient absorption) with poor diets, exposure to environmental toxins, and stress. Probiotic supplements should ideally be purchased refrigerated and stored that way at home.


Vitamin D deficiency is rampant. The latest research shows that current recommendations for 600 International Units a day are too low. Part of the problem is that recommendations are made solely on vitamin D’s role in bone health, while newer research takes into consideration the multitude of functions vitamin D is necessary for. I urge all my clients to take 2,000 to 4,000 International Units a day. If it seems like too much, keep in mind that if you get your vitamin D from the sun, the body produces 10,000 International Units and then ceases production.”

adevăratul faliment e sub nasul nostru: „Cînd Nokia s-a retras de la Cluj, am sărit cu toţii în sus: ne lasă pe drumuri 3000 de oameni! Cum e posibil ca nimeni să nu fi putut face nimic pentru a evita grozăvia asta?

Numai că, discret, departe de nasul iscoditor (prin sacoşe) al reporterilor economici, adevăratele grozăvii sînt româneşti, neaoşe, tradiţionale.

Cum se poate altfel numi falimentul Acolo unde, din cîte ştiu eu, lucrează-n total vreo 5000 de oameni?”

Kurt Vonnegut’s dark, sad, cruel side is laid bare: „The book paints a picture of a man who was often distant from his children, cruel to a long-suffering first wife, caught in an unpleasant second marriage and spent much of his later years depressed and angry. „Cruel, nasty and scary are the adjectives commonly used to describe him by the friends, colleagues, and relatives Shields quotes,” wrote one reviewer, Wendy Smith, on the Daily Beast website. The New York Times reviewer, Chris Buckley, called Shields’s portrayal „sad, often heartbreaking”.


Vonnegut definitely had survived a lot. His once wealthy family was impoverished by the Great Depression, causing grim strains in his parents’ marriage. His mother committed suicide. His beloved sister died of breast cancer, a day after her husband was killed in a train accident. But the defining horror of Vonnegut’s life was his wartime experience and surviving the Dresden bombing, only to be sent into the ruins as prison labour in order to collect and burn the corpses.”

Viral Infections Might Be Our Best Hope Against AIDS & Other Confounding Diseases: „Intriguingly, we have seen some profound beneficial effects from viral interactions. One study showed that curing the common cold might be a very bad idea. A group led by Ian Mackay in Australia collected nasal mucus from 1,247 people with cold-like symptoms and used PCR to test each sample for 17 different kinds of virus known to cause runny noses. People with rhinovirus infections—the most common type in the group—were eight times less likely to also be infected with flu virus than would been expected if there was no interference. That’s important because flu kills at least 30,000 people a year in the U.S. while rhinoviruses don’t kill anyone. This protective effect of rhinoviruses has been confirmed by a similar study among military recruits in the U.S.

Another beneficial case of interference is that of GB virus and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. GB virus is passed from person to person in the same ways HIV is, but it doesn’t seem to cause any illness on its own. On the contrary, men who were infected with both GB virus and HIV, before there were drugs to treat AIDS, lived longer and were healthier than men not infected or whose immune systems destroyed the GB virus.

Viral interference has also shown potential to prevent cancers caused by human papillomavirus, the virus that causes cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus infects only cells near the surface of the cervix and it makes these cells grow faster than they should, sometimes leading to cancer. A parvovirus called AAV is able to infect those same surface cells, but only if HPV already is in them. Unlike HPV alone, HPV and AAV together cause the cells to die instead of divide, so tumor formation is averted. AAV is also sexually transmitted, so in this case, two STIs are better than one.”

A Common Joke About Common Knowledge:

Să trezim copiii

O campanie inițiată de Simply Bucharest pentru a determina autoritățile (Protecția Copilului) să reacționeze la problema bebelușilor folosiți la cerșit.

Ştiţi cerşetorii care se folosesc de bebeluşi ca să impresioneze oamenii?

Asta e exploatare de copii.

Dar ştiţi că de fiecare dată cînd îi vedem pe stradă bebeluşii aceia dorm?

Asta pentru că bebeluşii cerşetorilor sînt ţinuţi adormiţi. Nu-i greu; la o gîgîlice de om e de-ajuns chiar şi un pic de alcool; dar bebeluşii ăia pot fi şi calmaţi cu medicamente.

E aproape imposibil de dovedit. Nimeni nu a făcut asta pînă acum. Dar dacă am văzut treaba asta, trebuie să-i dăm de capăt.

Un post despre încredere

… și poate de fapt normalitate:

„Sentimentul de neîncredere s-a întins ca o pată de petrol în mare, mânjind fără discernământ în stânga și-n drepta. Neîncrederea este atât de mare încât un scut s-a ridicat în jurul fiecăruia, dar nu unul defensiv ci mai degrabă unul ofensiv. Acroșezi pe cineva din greșeală sau pui prea multe întrebări și te trezești cu priviri acre, replici tăioase sau înjurături. Cel mai grav este însă că şi instituțiile acționează în relația cu oamenii plecând de la premisa eventualei fraude. Birocrația excesivă nu este altceva decât expresia neîncrederii în cetățean. Hârtii peste hârtii care trebuie să asigure că totul e în regulă și că la mijloc nu e o fraudă. Ca să renunț la o indemnizație plătită de stat nu a fost suficientă declarația mea scrisă. Simpla renunțare a titularului nu ajunge. Trebuie să explic motivele pentru care renunţ şi să le şi dovedesc cu acte ! Dacă cumva mint? (n-ar trebui să fie suficient simplul fapt că eu nu mai vreau să primesc bani?). Atât de absurd a ajuns!”

 Mircea TeodorescuDespre încredere

Blog Walk (Misterioasele caracatițe)

Why was Steve Jobs sometimes so mean?: „Sometimes called narcissism, Jobs’ sense of specialness gave him the confidence to take big risks and to inspire colleagues and customers. But it also gave him the license to take advantage of others without paying attention to their feelings or needs. And this, in turn, led him to be mean in two ways: through indifference, because he simply didn’t realize that he was hurting someone; and through explicit attack if he detected the slightest hint that he was being challenged, especially by an underling or a person he didn’t respect.”

How an Absent Father Affects Boys and Girls Differently: „While daughters generally require a level of quality interaction with a father figure, sons benefit from sheer quantity of time, and respond simply to having a father or father figure around the house. Most interestingly, however, is the finding that daughters appear to be adversely affected by contact with their non-residential biological father.”

15 modele literare pentru copii: „Remi – Personajul central din romanul “Sigur pe lume” al lui Hector Malot este poate cel mai bun exemplu pentru copiii care visează să fugă de acasă doar pentru că părinții nu le cumpără o jucărie nouă. Prin ochii lui Remi cu toții am învățat ce înseamnă să fii orfan, al nimănui, să găsești consolare și o familie lângă un câine (mulți cred că am plâns când Capi a murit iarna, cumva încercând să îi ofere căldura corpului său lui Remi) și, într-un final, să te bucuri de întregirea unei familii, distruse de dispariția unui copil.”

The books business – Great digital expectations: „TO SEE how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves. Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read.”

Can a blood test really tell you when you’ll die?: „Some newspapers, to the dismay of the scientists involved, have gleefully announced that the test – which measures the telomeres (the protective caps on the ends of my chromosomes) – can predict when I will die. […]

The test is based on the idea that biological ageing grinds at your telomeres. And, although time ticks by uniformly, our bodies age at different rates. Genes, environment and our own personal habits all play a part in that process. A peek at your telomeres is an indicator of how you are doing. Essentially, they tell you whether you have become biologically younger or older than other people born at around the same time.”

Deep Intellect – Inside the mind of the octopus: „Only recently have scientists accorded chimpanzees, so closely related to humans we can share blood transfusions, the dignity of having a mind. But now, increasingly, researchers who study octopuses are convinced that these boneless, alien animals—creatures whose ancestors diverged from the lineage that would lead to ours roughly 500 to 700 million years ago—have developed intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities. Their findings are challenging our understanding of consciousness itself.”

Women on the Pill May Choose Reliable Over Sexy, Study Suggests: „In lab studies, women who are in fertile stages of their cycle are more likely to go for men who look healthy, self-confident, and masculine, which tend to be markers for good genes, but also for infidelity. The pill mimics pregnancy, though, when the die has already been cast and being a good provider is more attractive than sexy. In the lab, women on the pill do indeed select men who look like they will be more reliable and steady.”


Paradigme educaționale

Via Freakonomics, am dat de un studiu interesant care corelează tipul de educație predominant într-o țară (educație pe verticală sau pe orizontală) cu implicarea civică ulterioară a studenților, nivelul de încredere și de cooperare și… eficiența guvernelor. Interesant.

Educația pe verticală – predomină la noi – pune accentul pe profesorul care predă, în timp ce cea pe orizontală – la mare preț în țările nordice și SUA – se bazează pe munca în echipă a elevilor.

The correlation between [teaching] Gap and trust is strongly negative; almost one-third of the cross-country variation in trust is explained by the variation in teaching practices. Scandinavian countries (with the exception of Finland), and to a lesser extent Anglo-Saxon countries, combine both a fairly high level of trust and teaching practices tilted toward horizontal rather than vertical. In contrast, most Mediterranean (Turkey, France and Greece in the first place) and East European countries are characterized by teaching practices biased toward the vertical and low levels of trust. The big outliers are Japan and Ireland, which tilt toward vertical teaching practices but have high trust.


…government effectiveness is lower in countries where vertical teaching predominates. The correlation patterns are statistically significant and economically sizeable. Vertical teaching alone can explain 18.3 percent of the cross-country variation in government effectiveness.

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