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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Oct+Nov+Dec 2017 Log

Posted by StepTb su gennaio 1, 2018

Gaichû / Harmful Insect (Akihiko Shiota, 2001) [7]
Nabbeun namja / Bad Guy (Kim Ki-duk, 2001) [6.5]
Becoming Warren Buffett (Peter W. Kunhardt, 2017) [6.5]
Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999) [7]
Who Killed the Electric Car? (Chris Paine, 2006) [7]
Revenge of the Electric Car (Chris Paine, 2011) [7]
Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017) [6.5]
Who Am I – Kein System ist sicher (Baran bo Odar, 2014) [6-]
Racing Extinction (Louie Psihoyos, 2015) [6.5]
The Intern (Nancy Meyers, 2015) [6.5]
Joy (David O. Russell, 2015) [7+]
Hua li shang ban zu / Office (Johnnie To, 2015) [6]
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick, 1992) [8]
Requiem for the American Dream (Peter D. Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott, 2015) [7-]
The War Room (Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker, 1993) [5]
Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (Michel Gondry, 2013) [7.5+]
Nomads (John McTiernan, 1986) [7]
Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1988) [7]
Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995) [6.5]
Hype! (Doug Pray, 1996) [7.5]
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, 2003) [7.5+]
Fail-Safe (Sidney Lumet, 1964) [8]
The Offence (Sidney Lumet, 1973) [6.5]
Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet, 1988) [7]
La société du spectacle (Guy Debord, 1973) [7]
The Cars That Ate Paris (Peter Weir, 1974) [6.5]
Maidan (Sergei Loznitsa, 2014) [7]

The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills (Daniel Coyle, 2012) [LINK]
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (Eric Ries, 2011) [LINK]
Status quo: Perché in Italia è così difficile cambiare le cose (e come cominciare a farlo) (Roberto Perotti, 2016) [LINK]
On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, and What Can Be Done (Cass R. Sunstein, 2nd ed. 2014) [LINK]
Misinformation : Guida alla società dell’informazione e della credulità (Walter Quattrociocchi, Antonella Vicini, 2016) [LINK]
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (David Hume, 1748) [LINK]
The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Leo Tolstoy, 1886) [LINK]
Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West (Cormac McCarthy, 1985) [LINK]
Al tempo di papà (Jirō Taniguchi, 1994) [LINK]


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Nassim Nicholas Taleb – Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder

Posted by StepTb su settembre 5, 2017

Random House, 2012 Buy Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder
433 pages

The book with which Taleb completed his transformation into a right wing incoherently rambling wannabe guru.

The most brilliant idea this book has is stealing the concept of Resilience (from the field of study of Complex Adaptive Systems), re-naming it “Antifragility”, and insisting it’s a totally different concept from Robustness, you idiots! Well, yeah, that’s because it’s Resilience through Adaptive strategies, not Robustness. And you stole it and re-named it. And called yourself a genius (and critics ignorants and idiots, ofc) for such a groundbreaking move.
If that’s the best contribution, imagine the quality of the rest.

I’m still puzzled by the fact so many people are citing, giving credit and/or looking up to this guy.
A textbook case of pseudo-intellectualism.

(See also my review of The Black Swan, same observations apply.)


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Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy

Posted by StepTb su luglio 7, 2017

University of California Press, 2000 (first published 1997)
314 pages
Author: Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi

La versione in lingua italiana, dal titolo “Lo spettacolo del fascismo”, è acquistabile qui.

The section “The Mussolini Myth” is especially important and useful; it collects all the (seemingly) bizarre mediatic tactics Mussolini used to project youth, masculinity, strength, power, and, ultimately, immortality – in a gradual transformation from cult of personality to a deification.
In the meantime, a nation of people identified the leader’s projections as the quality of the nation itself, even if the nation was actually lacking them. A form of mass hypnosis and escapism, leaving such a deep cultural influence that I believe Italy has never managed to fully wake up from it.
It can be easily recognized how some contemporary leaders, like Putin, are employing the same tactics to project a carefully crafted powerful image to their people and, perhaps even more meticulously, to other countries’ citizens.

The chapter “The Politician as Artist” shows us how perfectly Mussolini understood the weaponizing power of media and the nature of politics as entertainment in a modern sense before any other leader. And the next chapter, “From Art to Violence”, leads us to the natural consequences of that realization.

Almost all the western world has gradually shifted towards an infotainment-dominated form of public politics since the end of WWII, so these topics are extremely current. And worrisome.


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John Rawls – Giustizia come equità: Una riformulazione

Posted by StepTb su luglio 7, 2017

Feltrinelli, 2010 (first published 2001)
259 pages
Original title: Justice as Fairness: A Restatement

A very important point Rawls makes in this book is the inability of the welfare state to realize his two principles of justice; he advocates instead for a property-owning democracy. This point was touched briefly in A Theory of Justice too, and here isn’t discussed as in-depth as it should have deserved, but it’s discussed and stated explicitly nonetheless.
The vast majority of both admirers and critics of Rawls seem to completely ignore this important and integral part of his theory.


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Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence

Posted by StepTb su giugno 27, 2017

Turtleback Books, 1998
350 pages
Author: David Keirsey

This book systematized and popularized MBTI, and it was interesting when it came out, but it’s now outdated.
Only because of popularity and a huge marketing machine behind it, Recruiters, HR Managers and people of all sorts are still using MBTI today to make strategic decisions (especially in the Anglosphere), which testifies the lack of scientific thinking in our society.

Anyway, it must also be kept in mind that the Big 5 (or 6) model, which is currently regarded as the most reliable one in psychology, was influenced by MBTI:
The I/E dimension remained the same.
The S/N dimension roughly corresponds to Openness-Intellect.
The J/P dimension roughly corresponds to Conscientiousness-Orderliness.

The trickiest dimension, and the most obviously wrong, was the T/F one. On paper, T/F seems to be a classification of decision-making preferences, but those preferences are very sketchy and poorly explained/supported. Decision-making ‘based on facts vs. feelings’ doesn’t really mean anything, so what T/F really measures seem to be raw brain power and emotional stability mixed together, so a mix of the Intellect and the Neuroticism dimensions.
But, if you read all the F personas described in PUM, you can also see how they’re all depicted as highly Agreeable. At the same time, though, the T personas are *not* described as low in Agreeableness.
So basically, just like in feel-good astrology, Fs were told they were highly A (skipping the I and N interpretations), and Ts that they were highly rational (skipping the A and N interpretations).
And, if you take a look at discussions in online MBTI forums and groups, you can find plenty of people who scored high on T/F because of each one of those three (I, A, N) very different reasons (with the most common ones being low Agreeableness as a predictor of scoring T, high Agreeableness as a predictor of scoring ExFx, and high Neuroticism as a predictor of scoring IxFx).
Mixing those three dimensions into one and trying to portrait idealistic archetypes made the whole model extremely confusing and unreliable, and the Big 5 put some order to that.

Then of course there’s the binary choice problem: MBTI is black and white and puts people into 16 exact boxes, so it ends up saying that a person who hypothetically scores 49% on one dimension is more similar to someone scoring 1% on the same dimension than to another one scoring 51% – which is completely absurd, since 49% and 51% are basically the same result.

The book’s most useful and insightful points are the ones talking about the 4 different types of intelligence, and the ones about mating strategies. NT-NF couples really seem to work extremely well.
(Also, luckily Keirsey completely ignores the theory of “cognitive functions”, the most pseudoscientific part of MBTI.)

P.S. For the curious among you: I score as INTJ.


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The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

Posted by StepTb su giugno 27, 2017

Free Press, 2010 (first published 1994)
912 pages
Authors: Charles Murray, Richard Herrnstein

It’s the most famous book by Murray, and most likely also his worst.
It must be noted that a lot of people attacked and still attack TBC without having really read it – the book is deeply flawed, but it’s not a racial eugenics manifesto, and doesn’t even focus on race.

The book was published only 4 years after the Human Genome Project started, but presented as definitive, established facts things that were not, and still aren’t. The authors, who are not genetists, misrepresented the state of genetics by taking simplistic stances and presenting them as if they were the scientific consensus.
Even worse, the book damaged the possibility of seriously debating biology-informed policymaking, by proposing policies based on that simplistic misrepresentation and not even really backed by the book’s own content.

The whole book flows from a catastrophically wrong assumption: that “heritability” means “genetic determination”.
This alone is enough to make TBC a pseudoscientific work.

There are also other fallacies. The authors are always careful enough to mention studies showing that the relationship between genetic components and environmental contributors is so complex that we basically don’t know how to separate them, and we don’t really know how and why IQ/ability does or doesn’t increase both inter-generationally and during the first 15 years of life, but then they go on with their conclusions as if those studies were irrelevant or not even mentioned a few pages earlier. In reality, most of the contradicting studies they quote, like the documented increase of 7 IQ points per decade in 18 year olds in The Netherlands and Belgium from the 1950s to the 1980s, are enough to falsify their conclusions.

More recent studies have even shown that IQ heritability itself is high among high socioeconomic status families, but significantly lower among low socioeconomic status families, thus showing TBC’s conclusions are not only the product of a false equivalence, but also of fallacious measures in the first place.
Which demonstrates how more research into heritability is especially important: to falsify pseudoscience that has a particularly dangerous potential.

So what’s there to save? The first chapters in particular, where the authors describe the phenomenon of social, economic and cognitive clustering in the American society, which wasn’t as clearly perceived as a problem in the 1990s as it is now (we’re only now, maybe, waking up to the nefarious effect on Western democracies of bubbles and polarization, combined with other issues). But TBC doesn’t analyze it the way it should (again, the authors like the simplistic and wrong explanation of “genetic determination” too much to do that), and Murray wrote another book in 2012 talking about the same process more at length.
Another interesting and important point is the steady decline in fertility of high-IQ women, but, again, it’s not really analyzed.
The heated debate stirred up by TBC also contributed to a widespread revision of the “blank slate” assumption, and underlined some negative externalities of some policymaking based on strict and fixed demographic categories.

More in-depth and very balanced reviews that I fully agree with, and that explain all the other problems with TBC way better than I possibly could:

Check the textbook Psychology, chapter “Intelligence”, for a correct overview of what science knows about it.
Check The History and Geography of Human Genes for a serious book about genetics and human differences.


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Il potere è noioso: Il mondo globalizzato raccontato dal più anarchico degli economisti

Posted by StepTb su giugno 27, 2017

Baldini&Castoldi, 2016
125 pages
Author: Alberto Forchielli

Forchielli è un personaggio incredibile, larger-than-life si direbbe negli USA, e si sentiva la mancanza di un libro che ne catturasse allo stesso tempo pensiero e personalità. Quindi, un ringraziamento a Mengoli.
Il libro è infotainment di alto livello, completamente all’opposto di ciò che viene invece propinato continuamente dai MSM italiani, ai quali funge da antidoto. Si parla di economia, business, geopolitica, policy, WW2, valori etici e cenni autobiografici, con particolare attenzione a Italia e Cina. E, dall’inizio alla fine, si spara a zero su tutto e tutti, con passaggi esilaranti infilati in mezzo a una sfilza di osservazioni scomode e amare. Gli argomenti toccati sono dozzine, e per tanto nessuno di essi viene davvero approfondito – il testo non va dunque preso come un saggio, ma più che altro come un lungo blogpost, o una lunga chiacchierata a cena.
Ciò che oltretutto colpisce di Forchielli è l’avere in sé in parti eguali lo spirito della piccola città italiana degli anni ’60-’70 e lo spirito globalista e futuristico della corsa al progresso tecnologico ed economico più avanzata. In questo lo vedo come un perfetto “ponte” tra due mondi, uno capace di spiegare e indicare al primo la via per il secondo, ma resta purtroppo un esemplare rarissimo.

Frase-chiave: “Un’azienda si può sempre acquistare, ma un modello socio-economico non è ancora in vendita”.


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Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Posted by StepTb su settembre 9, 2016

Random House, 2007
401 pages

Nina’s review is spot-on.
I’m a big supporter of “contrarian thinking”, but I think Taleb is an intellectual hack, and the amount of credit he gets leaves me speechless.
Everything he does is:
1. Re-packaging and re-marketing well-known concepts (mainly from Complexity and Behavioral Finance) people started to introduce in the 1980s as something he himself discovered/defined, creating a personal jargon in an attempt to make them sound new (and as a rethorical trick to beat opponents in discussions, since that way he’s the one defining the playing field, instead of any actual discipline);
2. Re-packaging and re-marketing them as “paradigm shifters” that, as he “demonstrates”, easily “destroy” entire disciplines… that is, the same disciplines that actually *introduced* them, or that have already been discussing/analyzing/rejecting/absorbing them for years, if not decades;
3. In the process, insulting and mocking entire fields, completely rejecting the concept of intellectual humility – the most important trait a philosopher, scientist or thinker must have. I’ll repeat myself, but Apology is a book everyone should read, understand and apply to their lives – we’d avoid so many problems, including people falling for cult leaders and scammers (ironic, since Taleb enjoys citing Roman and Greek thinkers – probably just because, superficially, he sees them as an opposite to a contemporary world he doesn’t like);
4. Using a self-contradicting, aggressive, “prophetic” rethoric typical of cult leaders and scammers:
A. Nobody knows anything! [them]
B. …But I know everything! [us]
C. (so here’s the solution I’m selling you: myself and my books) [come join us]


If you find Taleb’s books brilliant and/or insightful, I recommend you Rational Choice in an Uncertain World and The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Taleb’s “turkey fable” and all his observations about historicism are stolen from Popper and Russell), for starters.


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Charles Murray – The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead

Posted by StepTb su settembre 7, 2016

Crown Business, 2014
144 pagine

A book divided in four parts.

“On the Presentation of Self in the Workplace” [7]: many good points, but, in some others, Murray just sounds like a grumpy nostalgic man out of touch with the contemporary workplace realities. A lot of people seem to judge negatively or ‘sarcastically’ the entire book because of this part, but it’s also the only actually grumpy and clearly conservative one.
“On Thinking and Writing Well” [7]: a more technical, dry part. Murray tried to put together a very short list of dos and don’ts of writing well, but you can already find the topic discussed better and much more in depth in The Elements of Style, Words Fail Me and Common Errors in English Usage, that the author himself cites, plus others like On Writing Well and the contemporary The Sense of Style.

The second half of the book is easily the best one.
“On the Formation of Who You Are” [8] is a highly practical and highly insightful series of life advices concerning career, experiences and ethics. His advice targeted at the ‘elite kids’ is particularly sound.
This great section is everything books like The Start-Up of You and tons of other self-help fluff should have been, and are not.
It seems like its chapter about being judgemental is the one most people have a problem with. In fact, it’s not controversial at all. Murray roughly says three things: not all opinions are equal (experts exist), we can’t avoid judging, and, since there’s no choice anyway, we should do it with a ‘bigger picture’, ethical goal in mind. All these points make perfect sense.
Rejecting the concept of ‘being judgemental’ as outlined by Murray implies a point of view similar to ‘all opinions are equal’, which in turn implies rejecting the concept of expertise – a rapidly and dangerously growing position in the Internet era, that leads to populism, pseudoscience, scammers and other bad stuff triumphing. And also a ridiculous position, because, if it were true, we should have already eliminated all higher education institutions and all job titles (hence Murray’s point about the hypocritical nature of it).
(plus: people leaving one-star harsh reviews because they don’t agree with the author’s views on being judgemental: don’t they see the irony in all this?).
Finally, “On the Pursuit of Happiness” [8] contains wise advices on how to deal with fame, fortune, religion and marriage. And it ends with two essential recommendations: reading The Nicomachean Ethics, and watching Groundhog Day repeatedly. What’s not to love?


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Tina Seelig – What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Posted by StepTb su settembre 6, 2016

HarperOne, 2009
184 pages

The assignment described at the beginning of the book doesn’t make much sense. If you give a problem to solve with a fixed amount of money and a fixed amount of time, adding external resources and time isn’t “thinking outside of the box”, but answering a different problem, since, in real life situations, what is fixed is fixed. I’m surprised a PhD in Neuroscience doesn’t see the logical error.
The rest of the book is a nice read, but, being heavily Valley-centric, most young people coming from very different backgrounds will have trouble relating to its examples and stories – the author herself recognizes the power of cultural differences (the anecdotes in the chapters “The Secret Sauce of Silicon Valley” and “No Way… Engineering Is for Girls”), but she doesn’t go in depth very much.
Anyway, it provides a good introduction to topics like teamwork, problem solving, entrepreneurship, and “giving yourself permission”.
The most interesting chapter is probably “The Secret Sauce of Silicon Valley”, with its observations about failing and failures (especially if we consider this was published a couple of years before The Lean Startup), and, in particular, the link between people working in the creative industries and their usefully comfortable relationship with failure (since it has always inherently belonged to their sector), and all the others, who have a radically different approach to it.


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Humphrey B. Neill – The Art of Contrary Thinking

Posted by StepTb su giugno 15, 2016

Caxton Press, 2010
201 pagine

First published in 1954 and updated in subsequent editions by the author until 1963, this book predates various observations and topics of modern behavioral economics.
To understand and appreciate it, you need to keep in mind it was written during the era when Keynesianism was ruling undisputed (roughly from 1945 to 1973), and both social scientists and policy makers were thinking of the prosperity puzzle as solved and of human economic activity as predictable.
Neill was going against the grain, part of a skeptical minority. This also explains why he doesn’t seem to apply the same strict contrarian rules to his own ideological biases – which become obvious in some black-and-white thinking passages (other than when he self-describes as “Libertarian”, “conservative”, “realistic reactionary”, and when he cites, p. 150, “Ayn Rand’s wonderful new book, Atlas Shrugged” – ugh).
The book is heavily and explicitly influenced by Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Charles Mackay, 1841), Les Lois de L’Imitation (Gabriel Tarde, 1890), and Gustave Le Bon (La Psychologie des Foules, 1895; Psychologie du Socialisme, 1896).
The edition I bought (6th ed., Caxton Press 2010) has way too many typos – the editors did a poor job.

Some key passages:

pp. 42-44:

The public is perhaps right more of the time than not. In stockmarket parlance, the public is right during the trends but wrong at both ends!
One can assert that the public is usually wrong at junctures of events and at terminals of trends.
So, to be cynical, you might say, “Yes, the public is always wrong when it pays to be right – but is far from wrong in the meantime”. […]
The “time element” is the most elusive factor in economics. We need to get that fixed firmly in our minds. (Insofar as I am aware, there is no known method of timing events or trends).
Therefore, when we adopt a contrary opinion, as a guide, we must recognize that we may be too far ahead of the crowd. This is because economic trends often are very slow in turning, or reversing.

p. 80:

Students of crowd psychology know that the average voter pays scant attention to the fundamental facts concerning either the candidate or the platform. He accepts “what he feels”. The forces of suggestibility and contagion form the image in his mind.
Mystery is an al-powerful tool. “Tell ‘em nothing and promise ‘em anything”, counsels the politician; “and, above all, never reason with voters; affirm but never explain; repeat what you’ll do for ‘em, but never argue”.

pp. 83-85:

The aim of this writer’s contrary comments is to proffer interpretations in the field of economic psychology, still largely unexplored. One does not find, for example, the title “Economic Psychologist” used as yet. The few writers who are paying serious attention to the study of human behaviorism and its influence upon economic trends refer to themselves as sociologists, economists, or psychologists.
However, it is evident from studies and papers presented in recent years – and from the surveys of consumer intentions and attitudes which have been conducted for the Federal Reserve Board – that the field of economic psychology is one in which serious concentration will be focussed in coming years. […]
So, while we cannot foretell the future, we can be confident that economic psychology will be a required subject for study as we learn more about economic trends and cycles – and what starts and stops them.

p. 92:

However, we need not to be too discouraged, it seems to me, because the whole field of economics remains a “guessy” one. Little, if any, progress has been made over the years in attaining profitable accuracy in economic forecasting. And, mind you, this condition still exists, notwithstanding the extraordinary volume of statistics that is now available to students and which was not known to former forecasters.
It seems to me that the long history of economic forecasting clearly demonstrates that “psychology” is the missing key. You may have all the statistics in the world at your finger tips, but still you do not know how or when people are going to act. Accordingly, the statistics frequently lead you astray.

p. 94:

A basic usefulness of contrary opinions is to guard against predicting the unpredictable; or, to put it another way, to avoid being ensnared by faulty general predictions. […]
I believe it is correct to say that the theory [of Contrary Opinion] is more valuable in avoiding errors in forecasting than in employing it for definitive forecasting.

pp. 101-102

Making predictions has become a mania. Practically all economists are called upon for their future views – and many go out of their way to write articles and make speeches about “what’s ahead”. […]
But the significant fact for us to hold before us is that the more prominence predictions receive the more inaccurate they are likely to be. […]
If you believe the predictions, you go against them to protect yourself. Thus, you help the predictions to go haywire.

p. 104

Most of us can’t stand being alone more than half an hour, and our idea of reflection is merely to reflect and repeat what someone has told us! (We’re imitators, that is.)

pp. 106-107

[Entrepreneurs] built so fast and furious that their second step – of combining enterprises and pyramiding one on top of another – has led to the submersion of individual effort and the fostering of group effort and the conformity of the individuals to a mass pattern. […]
Business organizations have become too large for individual management. We have entered the era of group management. Mass conformity has, naturally, gone along. […]
May it not be that cyclical movements will be of greater (rather than lesser) intensity in the future, because of this development of mass conformity?

pp. 110-111

It takes us average humans a considerable interval to shift our viewpoints, once we have established a given mental outlook.
That is, if we have (mentally) accepted a trend as moving in one direction, we are not inclined to change our outlook until well after the trend turns. […]
However, if we adopt a contrary course and try to anticipate a change in the current, we’re more likely to recognize the signs of an approaching whirlpool or precipitous drop than if we merely assume that if the river is smooth here it must be smooth all the way.

pp. 113-114

As you browse over the opinion which have been published through the years – in eras of good times and bad – you are struck over and over again by how often the prevailing conditions produced the opinions; […] Little effort was made to analyze what had happened previously – things which would cause a change in the future.

p. 118

When economic affairs are booming and “everybody” feels cheerful, optimistic, and prosperous, no one wants to hear disparaging remarks or bad news about how things are going. […] If someone suggests that booms and periods of optimism always overshoot the mark and bring about corrective reactions, that said someone is called a “prophet of gloom”. He is politely (or unpolitely) told to shut his pessimistic mouth. […]
At another time, when the economy has been slumping and “times are bad”, then the opposite psychology prevails. People […] get into the frame of mind that allows them to believe that everything is in bad shape. What is more, they expect things will remain that way. […]
Rut-thinking is a common trait. I have said that the art of contrary thinking may be stated simply: thrust your thoughts out of a rut.

p. 125

The “crowd” is most enthusiastic and optimistic when it should be caustious and prudent; and is most fearful when it should be bold.

p. 128

I’m confident you are aware of how different a wellthought-out opinion is from one that is caught on the fly, so to speak, or one that is merely a reflection of a crowd’s fears or hopes. An individual may think out his opinions, whereas a crowd is swayed by emotional viewpoints rather than by reasoning or reason-why arguments.
Emotional and thoughtless opinions spread widely from imitation and contagion.

p. 131

Being positive, specific, and dogmatic is about the most harmful habit one can fall into. […]
The value of the contrary approach is the opposite. It prevents one from being a dogmatist; one avoids being positive about conjectural matters; as one reads, he mentally needles the writer or commentator.

p. 133

Instead of leaping abruptly from affirmation to its opposite (from general opinions to contrary opinions), we need to consider the synthesis (combination) of parts of general opinions and their opposites. […]
Take the leap from the General Opinion to its Opposite (or from affirmation to negation) and then, from the ideas thus released, work back to a speculative and reflective conclusion, or synthesis. In this way, we may avoid denying facts which are elements in the generalized opinions we are analyzing contrarily.

p. 140

It is evident, I think, that propaganda, skillfully engineered, manipulates opinions. […]
We are now witnessing, and shall increasingly experience, “thought and desire manipulation” which is almost firghtening to contemplate. I do not hesitate to assert that contrarianism offers protection against the Depth Manipulators.

pp. 155-156

Remarking that to be able to be caught up into the world of thought – “is to be educated”, Miss Hamilton emphasizes that the Athenian method of education was not geared to mass production. It did not produce people who instinctively all went in one way, and were conformists. There were countless contrarians in Greece back in Socrates’ day.

p. 166

Many devotees of chart reading, for forecasting stock prices, subscribe to the idea that a chart is worth a thousand words of analysis and statistics. Permit me to twist this around. I maintain “the right contact is worth a thousand charts”.

pp. 173-174

The sameness of writings on business, finance, and economics – and of course on the stock market – is such that it is almost impossible for an individual to think for himself. He is brainwashed.
The protection against brainwashing is contrary brainwork. It is hard work to think, but it is worth it.[…]
If Washington experts appear before our television screens with brave predictions of things to come, let us not forget that they are there to persuade us to think their way. The open-mouth policy is a scheduled phase of modern government.[…]
There is one noticeable trait – a paradox – that is pertinent to today’s trends of opinions: a) A person is commonly slow to change his mind, while being b) Quick to pounce on a new fad or shift to a new fashion.
Which is to say we are quick to conform, but slow to differ.

pp. 182-183

It seems impossible that in the gret Tulip Mania in Holland in 1640 the human herd could be such utter fools as to bid up tulip bulbs to 5500 fiorins each (equal to approximately $3,000) and crack a nation’s banking system in the process.[…]
And did it really happen in our lifetime that clergymen demanded “a life (sentence) for a pint”; and the confiscation of automobiles and the closing of huge hotels for what is now completely legal?
When mass manias are tied to a personality (Napoleon), patriotism (war), or God (the Crusades, or witchcraft), the hypnotic contagion of the crowd has no limits. It must wear itself out, as in the case of the Crusades, that took two hundred years.


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Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha – The Start-Up of You

Posted by StepTb su febbraio 12, 2016

Cornerstone Digital, 2012
272 pages

Bonnie’s review nailed it.
The more or less useful 20% of the book can be completely found for free by watching this talk and this talk.
The other 80% is basically just a long infomercial for LinkedIn, and, even worse, is written in an annoying, pseudo-inspirational, fluffy self-helpish style.
It’s not a good representation of what Hoffman (a very interesting and insightful man) has to say at all (you’ll hear way more of that by watching this, this, this, this, etc.), and is therefore a big let-down and a lost occasion. His actual active involvement in the writing process was likely very limited.
For something with substance and written in a normal, digestible way, read The Millennial Game Plan, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead instead.


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John McWhorter – The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language

Posted by StepTb su settembre 24, 2015

Oxford University Press, 2014
208 pagine

Sensationalistic title. You’d expect a work of total debunking but you won’t find it here, since the material isn’t suitable for something like that (not overwhelming, black-and-white incontestable enough).
The actual content isn’t much, and you can already find it, explained in a neutral/non-polemical way, in many books that cover the subject.


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August 2015 Log

Posted by StepTb su agosto 31, 2015

Ah fei zing zyun / Days of Being Wild (Kar Wai Wong, 1990) [8.5]
Dung che sai duk / Ashes of Time [Redux] (Kar Wai Wong, 1994-2008) [7.5]
2046 (Kar Wai Wong, 2004) [7]
La spiaggia (Alberto Lattuada, 1954) [8]
Redline (Takeshi Koike, 2009) [6]
Bron/Broen, s1 ep1 (Charlotte Sieling, 2011) [6]
Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu / Samurai Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi, 1967) [7]
Kari-gurashi no Arietti / The Secret World of Arrietty (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2010) [7.5]
Kokuriko-zaka kara / From Up on Poppy Hill (Gorô Miyazaki, 2011) [7]
Colorful (Keiichi Hara, 2010) [6]
It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, 2014) [7+]
Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki / Wolf Children (Mamoru Hosoda, 2012) [6.5]
Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014) [6.5]
Bob le Flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956) [7]
Le doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962) [8.5]
In Search of the Perfect Human Diet (C.J. Hunt, 2012) [6]
Trudno byt bogom / Hard to Be a God (Aleksey German, 2013) [8] [I’m not sure how to rate this one – it’s so unique there’s almost nothing you can compare it to. It can be a frustrating experience, because of the dialogues and narrative chosen form, which eliminated all the linearity and the philosophical substance from the original 1964 novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, making its story obscure and incomprehensible; but, at the same time, it’s an astonishing accomplishment in terms of visuals and originality. More than anything else, it’s the remarkable testament of director Aleksey German, who passed away just before its completion, and dedicated 15 years of his life to make his nightmarish vision a reality. Critics have compared its scenic design, image composition and hallucinated feel to Bosch and Bruegel, but, even if those are probable influences, I’d say the main tone is more akin to a twisted, dark Rabelais.]
The Bank Dick (Edward F. Cline, 1940) [7.5]
L’armée des ombres (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) [6.5]
Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971) [8]
L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (Bertrand Bonello, 2011) [8+]
Night Mayor (Guy Maddin, 2009) [short] [7]
Glorious (Guy Maddin, 2008) [short] [6]
A Trip to the Orphanage (Guy Maddin, 2004) [short] [6]
Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair (Guy Maddin, 2009) [short] [6.5]
Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett, 1961) [short] [8]
21-87 (Arthur Lipsett, 1964) [short] [7.5]
A Trip Down Memory Lane (Arthur Lipsett, 1965) [short] [7]
Pandora (Derek May, 1971) [short] [7]
Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970) [8.5+]
Un flic (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1972) [7-]
Permanent Vacation (Jim Jarmusch, 1980) [6]
Yin shi nan nu / Eat Drink Man Woman (Ang Lee, 1994) [6.5]
Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984) [7+]
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013) [7-]
Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 1989) [5]

Ivan Turgenev – Padri e figli [LINK] [8]
Platone – Apologia di Socrate [LINK] [9]

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January+February 2015 Log

Posted by StepTb su febbraio 28, 2015

Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman, 2014) [7+]
Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (Carl Boese, Paul Wegener, 1920) [7.5]
Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929) [8]
The Wind (Victor Sjöström, 1928) [7.5]
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird, 2011) [5+]
Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014) [6.5] [even if Boyhood’s production idea is innovative and Linklater’s direction masterful, the script itself mainly displays a parade of stereotypes, from the violent stepfather figures to the idealization of college experience as a resolutory climax of sort. It doesn’t take risks (and its clear and simplistic political undertones work as a contradictory, limiting, negative force that seems to prevent it), and it doesn’t offer any particular insight into boyhood, male adolescence, or life in general. It’s a film as confused as its own characters, and nowhere near the masterpiece status critics have thrown at it. Just compare it to Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959) – case closed]
Kis uykusu (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2014) [7.5]
Machete Kills (Robert Rodriguez, 2013) [4]
Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014) [6]
Grudge Match (Peter Segal, 2013) [6]
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1927) [8.5]
The Crowd (King Vidor, 1928) [8.5]
Where Eagles Dare (Brian G. Hutton, 1968) [7]
Two Mules for Sister Sara (Don Siegel, 1970) [6]
Joe Kidd (John Sturges, 1972) [6.5]
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (Michael Cimino, 1974) [7.5]
Love and Death (Woody Allen, 1975) [7.5]
A Star Is Born (Frank Pierson, 1976) [4]
Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978) [7-]
The Incredible Hulk, s1 ep1 (Kenneth Johnson, 1977) [6.5]
Piranha (Joe Dante, 1978) [5]
Superman (Richard Donner, 1978) [7] [like it or not, you have to give this movie some credit; it was hard to do better, in 1978, with such a story. Donner’s direction is remarkable, and the film’s influence on virtually every following superhero movie, including the post-2000 ones, is undeniable. On top of that, Reeve was a perfect casting choice, and created “the” live action Superman icon]
Rocky II (Sylvester Stallone, 1979) [7]
10 (Blake Edwards, 1979) [6.5]
An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky, 1978) [7-]
Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, 1979) [7]
Meatballs (Ivan Reitman, 1979) [6]
Breaking Away (Peter Yates, 1979) [6]
The Wanderers (Philip Kaufman, 1979) [7.5]
Return of the Secaucus 7 (John Sayles, 1979) [6.5]
Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980) [7]
Superman II (Richard Lester & Richard Donner, 1980) [5]
Reds (Warren Beatty, 1981) [7]
Rocky III (Sylvester Stallone, 1982) [6.5]
First Blood (Ted Kotcheff, 1982) [7+]
Rambo 2 (George P. Cosmatos, 1985) [5]
Rocky IV (Sylvester Stallone, 1985) [5+]
Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986) [7-]
Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987) [6.5]
Rambo III (Peter MacDonald, 1988) [5+]
Our Nixon (Penny Lane, 2013) [6.5]
Rollerball (Norman Jewison, 1975) [5]
Every Which Way But Loose (James Fargo, 1978) [5]
Sisters (Brian De Palma, 1973) [6]
Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma, 1980) [8+]
Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981) [7]
Scarface (Brian De Palma, 1983) [8-]
Popeye (Robert Altman, 1980) [7]
Body Double (Brian De Palma, 1984) [8]
The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987) [7+]
American Gigolo (Paul Schrader, 1980) [7]
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) [8.5]
Body Heat (Lawrence Kasdan, 1981) [8+]
Excalibur (John Boorman, 1981) [7]
Tightrope (Richard Tuggle, 1984) [6]
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) [8.5]

Karl Popper – Auf der Suche nach einer besseren Welt: Vorträge und Aufsätze aus dreissig Jahren [LINK Amazon, Italian edition] [9]
John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge – The Right Nation: Why America Is Different [LINK Amazon] [7]

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Quote of the Day

Posted by StepTb su gennaio 9, 2015

« Nonostante la mia venerazione per la scienza, non sono uno scientista. Perché uno scientista crede dogmaticamente nell’autorità della scienza mentre io non credo in nessuna autorità ed ho sempre avversato il dogmatismo, e ancora ovunque lo avverso, soprattutto nella scienza.
Sono contrario alla tesi secondo la quale lo scienziato deve credere alla sua teoria. Per quanto mi riguarda, I do not believe in belief, come dice E. M. Foster; in particolare non credo nella scienza. Credo al massimo alla fede nell’etica, e anche lì solo in pochi casi. Credo, ad esempio, che la verità oggettiva sia un valore, dunque un valore etico, forse addirittura il più alto valore, e che la malvagità sia il massimo non-valore. »

– Karl R. Popper, in Alla ricerca di un mondo migliore: conferenze e saggi di trent’anni di attività

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August 2014 Log

Posted by StepTb su settembre 1, 2014

House of Cards s2 ep1 (Carl Franklin, 2014) [7-] [what a shame: a good first episode ruined by a single moment – Zoe’s murder, out of impulse and with people and security cameras around, is illogical and inconsistent with Frank’s planning preciseness and tendency to outsource the dirty work]
House of Cards s2 ep2 (Carl Franklin, 2014) [6.5]
Exam (Stuart Hazeldine, 2009) [5]
Harlan County U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple, 1976) [6.5]
Julia (Fred Zinnemann, 1977) [7.5]
Festen (Thomas Vinterberg, 1998) [4] [and many critics still say this -at best- incredibly average movie should be considered a modern classic… give me a break]
Elysium (Neill Blomkamp, 2013) [6]
A Wedding (Robert Altman, 1978) [8]
House of Cards s2 ep3 (James Foley, 2014) [6.5]
House of Cards s2 ep4 (James Foley, 2014) [6.5]
House of Cards s2 ep5 (John David Coles, 2014) [7]
House of Cards s2 ep6 (John David Coles, 2014) [6.5]
House of Cards s2 ep7 (James Foley, 2014) [7]
House of Cards s2 ep8 (James Foley, 2014) [6.5]
House of Cards s2 ep9 (Jodie Foster, 2014) [7-]
House of Cards s2 ep10 (Robin Wright, 2014) [6.5]
House of Cards s2 ep11 (John David Coles, 2014) [7]
House of Cards s2 ep12 (James Foley, 2014) [7]
House of Cards s2 ep13 (James Foley, 2014) [7.5]
Obsession (Brian De Palma, 1976) [7.5]
Rolling Thunder (John Flynn, 1977) [8]
The Fury (Brian De Palma, 1978) [7]
Opening Night (John Cassavetes, 1977) [7+]
Who’ll Stop the Rain (Karel Reisz, 1978) [7]
Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978) [6.5]
Deathsport (Allan Arkush, Nicholas Niciphor & Roger Corman, 1978) [6]
Wizards (Ralph Bakshi, 1977) [6]
Blue Collar (Paul Schrader, 1978) [8]
Hardcore (Paul Schrader, 1979) [7.5]
Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976) [8.5]
Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979) [8]
Last Embrace (Jonathan Demme, 1979) [7]
Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1978) [7-]
All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979) [7.5]
Collapse (Chris Smith, 2009) [4] [it’s amusing to watch now all those supposed “prophets” who got their 15 minutes of glory during the 2007/8/9 crisis, when they were informing the world about the imminent apocalypse and the end of civilization as we knew it]

Beowulf [edizione Einaudi a cura di L. Koch] [LINK Amazon]
Michele Boldrin, David K. Levine – Against Intellectual Monopoly [free download] [9]
Raghuram G. Rajan, Luigi Zingales – Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists [LINK Amazon, Italian edition] [8+]

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Raghuram G. Rajan, Luigi Zingales – Salvare il capitalismo dai capitalisti

Posted by StepTb su agosto 31, 2014

Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists: Unleashing the Power of Financial Markets to Create Wealth and Spread Opportunity
Einaudi, 2008 (first published 2003)
390 pagine

I mercati non sono perfetti, né lo sono le sovrastrutture che li dirigono“.

Estremamente denso, è impressionante per la sua capacità sia di descrivere nel dettaglio alcuni complessi processi finanziari (che rappresentano il “core” del libro), sia di racchiuderli tra una prima e (soprattutto) un’ultima parte che puntano invece ad una “big picture” fotografata talmente da lontano da dare quella preziosa sensazione dell’ “aprire gli occhi” su come funziona il mondo (nello specifico, sul conflitto tra poteri economici e poteri politici nei singoli paesi da un lato, e sui cambiamenti avvenuti con il declino del “capitalismo delle relazioni” e con l’apertura globale dei mercati dall’altro).

Dovrebbe essere una lettura obbligatoria per tutti quelli (e sono ancora tanti) che cianciano di capitalismo ragionando per categorie mentali desuete derivate da informazioni errate (perché ideologicamente distorte).

Il libro ha i suoi principali difetti in uno stile di scrittura con poca personalità e brio, il che, unito alla quantità di informazione e analisi presenti, lo fa diventare più pesante del necessario, e di un’inevitabile senso di incompiutezza dovuto all’aver voluto percorrere la storia del capitalismo moderno ma allo stesso tempo aver mancato, per pure ragioni cronologiche, la crisi globale del 2007/8/9.

Un altro possibile punto a sfavore potrebbe essere la piuttosto breve serie di proposte di riforma concrete presenti nell’ultima parte, ma tale mancanza può essere compresa proprio alla luce delle tesi principali del testo (l’argomento andrebbe approfondito singolarmente paese per paese, essendo le situazioni politiche estremamente differenti).

La mia nota personale: la parola “capitalismo” andrebbe abbandonata. Si tratta del retaggio di un’epoca in cui il mondo era diviso in ideologie forti contrapposte. Continuare a utilizzarla significa portare avanti anche tali categorie mentali, secondo le quali il capitalismo è una delle tante ideologie del secolo scorso, e dunque ad esse paragonabile. Un modo più corretto di descrivere il fenomeno del capitalismo moderno è “sistema del libero mercato”, e come funziona dipende da come i singoli paesi lo implementano, avvicinandolo o allontanandolo da un modello ideale in cui accesso al credito e concorrenza vengono garantiti e incentivati, e in cui le regole del gioco vengono mantenute chiare ed eque (da cui la posizione dei due autori secondo cui l’intervento dello Stato *in sé* è indispensabile, posizione intellettualmente onesta che li allontana fortunatamente dai dogmi “libertarian”). Non esiste quindi “il capitalismo”, esiste un sistema di produzione e scambio che si adatta a seconda del contesto, delle possibilità del momento storico, e di come tutti coloro che vi partecipano (dalle idee del singolo individuo che entra nel mercato fino alle scelte politiche delle nazioni) decidono di approcciarlo e declinarlo. Nei casi migliori viene adottato in maniera coraggiosa e saggia, e avvantaggia il più vasto numero possibile di persone (in quantità finora mai viste in nessun altro sistema di cui siamo a conoscenza), nei casi peggiori soccombe a relazioni e lobbying, con gruppi d’interesse organizzati che condizionano la politica per mantenere una posizione di rendita e impedire l’accesso agli outsider (da cui il titolo del libro).
Come viene qui spiegato, il rischio esistente è che nei momenti di crisi le masse disagiate e disorganizzate possano risultare propizie proprio a tali gruppi d’interesse, che cercheranno di incanalarle e sfruttarle come utili idioti per mantenere e rafforzare lo status quo.


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Roberto Perotti – L’università truccata

Posted by StepTb su luglio 25, 2014

Einaudi, 2008
183 pagine

Non posso che ringraziare R. Perotti per aver messo nero su bianco, documentandolo con le fonti adeguate e trattandolo con l’obiettività e il distacco necessari, tutto ciò che sapevo, intuivo o solamente sospettavo dell’università italiana.

Non è un libro focalizzato solo su concorsi truccati, baroni e nepotismo, come potrebbe suggerire il titolo, ma si occupa di tutte le più gravi e strutturali storture del sistema universitario nostrano.

Si impara così che:
– il problema dell’università italiana non è la mancanza di risorse: con le statistiche corrette per studente equivalente a tempo pieno (che quindi eliminano l’inquinamento dato dalla variabile degli studenti fuori corso, che in Italia sono il 50+%), la spesa italiana diventa la terza al mondo dopo USA, Svizzera e Svezia; eppure, l’u.i. si lamenta della mancanza di soldi, invece di pensare a come mai il numero di fuori corso sia così elevato
– l’u.i. non è “nonostante tutto, all’avanguardia”: i confronti globali usando criteri obiettivi lo dimostrano
– l’u.i. non è un modello di mobilità sociale né di egalitarismo: il 24% degli studenti viene dal 20% più ricco delle famiglie, e l’8% dal 20% più povero; perfino gli USA, spesso additati come esempio di spietato elitarismo cui contrapporsi, hanno dati migliori (26% e 11% nelle pubbliche, 31% e 11% nelle private, 24% e 13% nel totale delle istituzioni terziarie)
– il clientelismo non è un fenomeno circoscritto
– gli interventi della magistratura non sono una soluzione, visto che il clientelismo avviene nella maggioranza dei casi senza infrangere leggi, e, in ogni caso, anche dove scoperto, si conclude nell’impossibilità e/o non volontà di punirlo adeguatamente
– quella dei dipendenti universitari è una casta, perché refrattaria a valutazioni e punizioni, ma soprattutto una gerontocrazia, completamente distorsiva in quanto non premia i giovani talenti e fa avanzare tramite scatti d’anzianità anche senza meriti
– l’u.i. non è internazionalizzata, e scappa dal dibattito accademico reale, che implicherebbe l’essere valutata tramite peer review pubblicando in journal riconosciuti globalmente e non per case editrici locali legate ai vari atenei
– i concorsi pubblici sono un sistema assurdo per inefficienza e megalomania dirigista; impediscono la libera iniziativa di singoli atenei, facoltà e dipartimenti nell’organizzarsi come vogliono e chiamare/attrarre i nomi migliori
– i “periodi iniziali di prova” non sono un “allarme precarizzazione”, sono un fatto ovvio e naturale che si trova in qualsiasi professione
– il valore legale del titolo di studio va abolito, ma concentrarsi su questo senza collegarlo ad altre riforme porterebbe a risultati nulli o peggiori
– gli stipendi dei docenti e la didattica allo stato attuale sono esempi di inefficienze distorsive, e vanno entrambi liberalizzati
– la mobilità degli studenti si cerca solo a parole, non nei fatti: le risorse dovrebbero essere stanziate anzitutto per favorirla, quindi chiudendo corsi, atenei e sedi distaccate inutili e redistribuendo i soldi verso costruzioni di alloggi studenteschi e borse di studio (che attualmente non vanno alle fasce medie)
– quella delle fondazioni universitarie non è la migliore delle idee, si rischia di replicare lo schema delle fondazioni bancarie
– il problema università-imprese non si risolve dall’alto, ma dando autonomia e osservando la sperimentazione di vari approcci; allo stesso tempo, non si può pretendere che le imprese collaborino con l’attuale sistema dell’u.i. finché non vengono eliminate le inefficienze e storture più evidenti
– il sistema delle rette va rivisto, e la progressione fiscale va del tutto sbilanciata a sfavore dei benestanti, se vogliamo davvero che il sistema resti pubblico e incentivi la mobilità sociale
– il 3+2 è stato implementato male, senza prima correggere le distorsioni alla base; ha portato a ripetizione e diluizione dei contenuti dei corsi e, grazie anche alla raddoppiata obsoleta prassi della tesi, ad un allungamento medio di 1+ anni dei tempi di laurea
– le riforme Moratti e Mussi sono state perfettamente inutili, perché si sono rifiutate di correggere le distorsioni alla base e hanno aggiunto ulteriore burocrazia di stampo dirigista
– da parte di governi, ministri, media e grande pubblico c’è una drammatica incomprensione di come funzioni la ricerca; non stupisce quindi che la cultura della peer review sia molto poco diffusa, e in certi ambienti inesistente
– non solo ambiente di ricerca poco stimolante e privo degli incentivi adeguati, non solo burocrazia bizantina, ma anche bandi e siti ufficiali spesso senza nemmeno una versione in lingua inglese: non stupisce che la percentuale di studenti e docenti stranieri sia tra le più basse del mondo industrializzato
– gli atenei devono essere messi in condizione di competere tra loro; solo così molte delle storture esistenti potrebbero correggersi da sole, perché i comportamenti negativi andrebbero contro l’interesse stesso delle istituzioni
– il dibattito tra pubblico e privato è finto: il punto non è l’uno o l’altro, il punto è dove vanno a finire le risorse; ci sono molti esempi al mondo di università pubbliche di estrema efficienza, perché operanti in un sistema competitivo che premia la qualità.

Solitamente non dò voti altissimi ai libri “di denuncia”, e men che meno se brevi e circoscritti a realtà unicamente nostrane, ma stavolta faccio un’eccezione.
Tre i motivi:
1) Perotti è un maestro di stile e sintesi, non c’è una virgola di troppo e i concetti sono stesi in modo incredibilmente lineare e diretto; ciò rende qualità e contenuto del libro inversamente proporzionali alla sua breve lunghezza.
2) L’argomento è delicato e importante, eppure ignorato o snobbato da troppe persone ad esso esterne, col risultato di lasciarlo in mano agli interessi personali miopi di chi ne trae vantaggio (dipendenti del sistema universitario e politici in cerca di voti); Perotti interviene nel dibattito con un rigore intellettuale ammirevole, mettendo ordine logico, adottando un punto di vista distaccato e obiettivo, e depurando il terreno dall’inquinamento retorico, politico e ideologico cui solitamente si accompagna.
3) Perotti non si limita a fare un elenco di ciò che non va, né a documentarlo com’è necessario (spesso anche decostruendo la fallacia di certe fonti), ma propone anche un semplice ed elegante modo di correggere l’equilibrio distorsivo attuale: un ponderato mix di incentivi e disincentivi che permettano a chi fa bene di avanzare, a chi sbaglia di pagare, e alle risorse di seguire la qualità, allo stesso tempo decentralizzando il sistema, togliendolo da sotto la cappa del dirigismo, per dare le autonomie necessarie ai vari atenei, facoltà e dipartimenti; un sistema migliore dell’attuale emergerebbe così in modo naturale.

Purtroppo in Italia la situazione socio-politica non sembra permettere questa e altre riforme necessarie, e preferisce proseguire sulla strada del declino, nonostante le soluzioni siano a portata di mano.
Gli italiani delle prossime generazioni un giorno si guarderanno indietro e, si spera, rideranno dell’idiozia di questi decenni buttati al vento.


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May 2014 Log

Posted by StepTb su maggio 31, 2014

Hannibal, s1 ep9 (Guillermo Navarro, 2013) [6.5]
Hannibal, s1 ep10 (John Dahl, 2013) [6.5]
Hannibal, s1 ep11 (Guillermo Navarro, 2013) [6.5]
Hannibal, s1 ep12 (Michael Rymer, 2013) [7]
Hannibal, s1 ep13 (David Slade, 2013) [7]
The New Centurions (Richard Fleischer, 1972) [7.5]
Red (Trygve Allister Diesen & Lucky McKee, 2008) [7]
The Other (Robert Mulligan, 1972) [7+]
Save the Tiger (John G. Avildsen, 1973) [7]
Secretary (Steven Shainberg, 2002) [7]
Lenny (Bob Fosse, 1974) [7.5]
The Last Detail (Hal Ashby, 1973) [7.5]
Hannibal, s2 ep1 (Tim Hunter, 2014) [7]
Hannibal, s2 ep2 (Tim Hunter, 2014) [7]
Hannibal, s2 ep3 (Peter Medak, 2014) [7]
Hannibal, s2 ep4 (David Semel, 2014) [6.5]
Hannibal, s2 ep5 (Michael Rymer, 2014) [7]
Hannibal, s2 ep6 (Tim Hunter, 2014) [7]
Hannibal, s2 ep7 (Michael Rymer, 2014) [6.5]
Hannibal, s2 ep8 (Vincenzo Natali, 2014) [6]
Hannibal, s2 ep9 (Michael Rymer, 2014) [6.5]
Hannibal, s2 ep10 (Vincenzo Natali, 2014) [7]
Hannibal, s2 ep11 (David Slade, 2014) [6]
Hannibal, s2 ep12 (Michael Rymer, 2014) [6]
Hannibal, s2 ep13 (David Slade, 2014) [6.5]
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Charles Reisner & Buster Keaton. 1928) [7.5]
City Girl (F.W. Murnau, 1930) [7.5-]
Ritmi di stazione, impressioni di vita n. 1 (Corrado D’Errico, 1933) [short] [7]
Manhatta (Paul Strand, 1921) [short] [7.5]
Regen (Mannus Franken & Joris Ivens, 1929) [short] [8]
Paris qui dort (René Clair, 1923) [short] [8]
Sous les toits de Paris (René Clair, 1930) [7]

Amerika (Franz Kafka, 1911-1914, pub. 1927) [7]

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