miércoles, 16 de noviembre de 2022

Call me Ishmael

Simon Ings used to say that "in science fiction, the smaller your story is, in a way, the bigger are the themes it deals with". Having limitations brings advantages in many areas, starting with literature. Although Ings speaks of "science fiction", his assertion transcends genre. I understand that he uses science fiction because that is the area he works in.

Regardless of genre, the fact is that in good novels, nothing seems to be left to chance. All the elements are connected, not necessarily by a cause-effect relationship, but by symbolic or thematic links. In part, this is another way of approaching the literary theme and a way of understanding how it can express itself through a linear story.

But this interconnection of elements is not limited to that. It is also about macrostructure and microstructure, about the small finding its reflection in the large and the large finding its reflection in the small. It is the climatology that reflects the emotional state of the protagonist. It is the cancer patient who absent-mindedly tosses a coin in the air. It is, in short, a dialogue that is established in all good stories, a connection between the monumental and the insignificant, a thread that binds the novel together. The confirmation of an extra-literary intelligence, the writer, with a master plan.

However, this relationship also exists even when there is no underlying plan, for the possibility of connecting elements is an inevitability that arises from the simple act of writing a story. A good reader will be able to find these connections even when the writer himself is not aware of them. Human beings look for patterns in chaos, synchronicities in unconnected events, like similarities in the grain of wood or the marble of bathroom tiles.

That is why every story, every work of art, in fact, admits multiple interpretations, even by serendipity. This inescapable quality does not contradict the fact that good writers have learned to work with the pieces of their novels in such a way that the fit is very fine, and the story becomes a homogeneous whole in which each element works like the cogs of an almost perfect machine. The writer who knows what he wants to talk about, always does it louder and clearer.

All great novels have a certain universalist zeal because it doesn't matter how far-reaching the specific elements of a story are: it doesn't matter whether we're talking about kingdoms, empires, or galaxies. What matters is how they fit in with the big concepts: justice, love, family, friendship, hatred, revenge, who we are and what our role in the world is. Even heroes with the most superhuman abilities hide a human dimension. The scale may be enormous (the entire universe), the subject may be grandiose (what does it mean to be human? What is the meaning of life? What is beyond the stars?), but the big questions can always be answered with a small story.

Which forces us to return to Simon Ings' phrase before concluding: the smaller the story, the bigger the issues. The relationship between a father and son, a divorce, an isolated man who must survive in a hostile climate, a woman fighting a large corporation, a family facing death, illness, an accident. These interpersonal relationships and everyday tragedies can contain everything, exemplify everything. Or, in other words: in literature it is never just about a man obsessed with hunting a whale.

There's nothing wrong with the hero of your novel wanting to save the world, but don't forget that perhaps, in a very real sense, for some people saving their marriage is tantamount to saving the world. Their world. Both situations can be combined in the same work of fiction to reinforce the literary theme or simply to add a human dimension, closer to the readers.

Either way, in the end, all stories are small because we are small. But, at the same time, all stories are huge, immeasurable, precisely because we are small, but we have the urge to go beyond, to ask questions for which we can never get an answer, or for which there are as many answers as there are people in the world.

Based on an article by @victorseyes

domingo, 17 de abril de 2022

Sylvain Timsit's strategies of public manipulation

In 2002, French writer Sylvain Timsit published a decalogue of the strategies most frequently used by the media and political elites to manipulate the masses.

It is a list that has been attributed by a press error to Noam Chomsky, a philosopher, linguist, and politician who has also described how, through entertainment, the media succeed in reproducing certain relations of domination.

Timsit's list has become very popular because it describes in a concrete way ten situations in which we could probably all identify ourselves. The following is a summary presentation of Sylvain Timsit's strategies for manipulating public opinion and society.

1. Encouraging distraction.

Distraction is a cognitive process that consists of paying attention to some stimuli and not to others involuntarily and for various reasons, including the interest generated by those stimuli and the intensity or attractiveness of those stimuli. It is a process that can easily be used as a strategy to divert attention from political or economic conflicts. It is usually done by encouraging information overload, or when such information contains a strong emotional charge.

For example, when news programmes devote entire days to tragic events and minimize the time devoted to reporting on problematic political developments. This type of distraction encourages disinterest in acquiring accurate knowledge about important issues and in discussing the long-term implications of political decisions.

2. Create the problems as well as the solutions.

The author explains this method by means of the formula: problem-reaction-solution, and explains that a situation can be explained with the full intention of causing a specific reaction to a specific audience, so that this audience demands measures and decisions to solve the situation.

For example, when political powers remain indifferent to the increase in violence in a city, and then deploy police laws that affect freedom and not only decrease violence. The same is true when an economic crisis is defined as a necessary evil that can only be countered by cuts in public services.

3. Appealing to gradualism.

This refers to implementing changes that are significant gradually, so that public and political reactions are equally gradual and easier to contain.

Sylvain Timsit gives as an example the neoliberal socio-economic policies that began in the 1980s, which have had a gradual impact without their negative consequences giving way to a revolution to counterbalance them.

4. Do, defer and leave for tomorrow

Many of the measures taken by governments are not popular among the population, so one of the most used and effective strategies is to make people think that the measure is painful but necessary, and that it is necessary to agree on it now, although its effects will be felt years later.

In this way, we become accustomed to the process of change and even to its negative consequences, and as it is not an issue that affects us immediately, we can more easily associate ourselves with the possible risks. As an example, Sylvain Timsit mentions the changeover to the euro, which was proposed in 1994-1995, but was not implemented until 2001, or the international agreements that the US imposed in Latin America in 2001, but which began to enter into force around 2005.

4. Infantilizing the interlocutor.

Another frequently used strategy is to position the public as naïve or incapable of taking responsibility for themselves, or of making critical and responsible decisions. By positioning viewers in this way, the media and political powers make it easier for the public to effectively identify with that position and end up accepting the imposed measures and even supporting them with conviction.

5. Appeal more to emotions than to reflection.

This refers to sending messages that have a direct impact on the emotional and sensitive register of the public, so that, through fear, compassion, hope, illusion, among other emotions or sensations, it is easier to implant ideals of success, or norms of behaviour and interpersonal relationships.

6. Recognizing the other as ignorant and mediocre.

This strategy is reflected, for example, in the significant differences between the quality of education and the resources allocated to it according to the socio-economic and political class to which it is directed. This results in the use of technologies being reserved for the few, which in turn makes large-scale social organization difficult. It also means that some populations recognize themselves as simply victims, with no possibility of playing an active role in their present and future.

7. Promoting complacency in mediocrity.

The aim is to reinforce the feeling of success and satisfaction with the situation in which we find ourselves, even if it is a precarious or unjust situation, which means that we do not develop critical thinking about this situation or even justify it.

8. Reinforcing self-blame.

At the other extreme, we make people think that the situation we are in is our fault, that is, we make them believe that they are responsible for their own misfortune (that they feel that they are not very intelligent or that they do not make enough effort, instead of recognizing that there is a social system that tends towards injustice). This prevents the organization and exercise of resistance or revolt. People tend to self-evaluate and blame themselves, which in turn generates passivity and favours the appearance of other complications, such as depressive or anxious states. A perfect example of the effects derived from these is that presently is when most anxiolytics and antidepressants are being consumed by the population, along history. 

10. Knowing people better than they know themselves.

Timsit argues that the advances that science has made in understanding human beings, whether in the areas of psychology, social psychology, biology or neuroscience, have achieved greater knowledge about how we function; however, they have not generated a process of self-knowledge at the individual level, with the result that the elites continue to be the possessors of wisdom and control over others.

domingo, 6 de marzo de 2022

Diferencias y similitudes entre Carbon-neutral, Net-Zero y Climate Positive


La neutralidad del carbono es el nuevo oro. Hoy en día, cada vez más empresas se comprometen a ser neutras en carbono, contribuyentes netas o incluso positivas para el clima. Con gigantes mundiales como Google, que afirma ser la primera empresa en eliminar su legado de carbono, podemos preguntarnos: ¿cómo es posible conseguirlo?

Términos como "carbon-neutral", "net-zero" o "climate positive" existen desde hace tiempo, pero desde hace un par de años, desde pequeñas empresas emergentes hasta corporaciones globales los han integrado, principalmente con fines de marketing. La diversidad de frases y la falta de claridad en torno a ellas pueden confundir a los consumidores bien intencionados. Sin embargo, comunicar de forma transparente sobre ellas puede animar a las empresas a ser más proactivas.

Según los objetivos fijados por el Acuerdo de París sobre el Clima, sólo quedan 29 años para alcanzar las emisiones netas mundiales. Así que entendamos mejor cuál es la jerga en torno a la neutralidad del carbono. Para verificar si una empresa está dispuesta a reducir o incluso a borrar su huella de carbono cuando alega la neutralidad de carbono, es vital comprender estos términos.

Para empezar, vamos a profundizar en los conceptos de la neutralidad de carbono:

  • Carbon neutral, neutralidad en materia de carbono significa que todo el CO2 liberado a la atmósfera por las actividades de una empresa se compensa con una cantidad equivalente eliminada.
  • Climate positive significa que la actividad va más allá de lograr emisiones netas de carbono para crear un beneficio medioambiental al eliminar dióxido de carbono adicional de la atmósfera.
  • Carbon negative significa lo mismo que "climate positive".
  • Carbon positive es la forma en que las organizaciones describen el clima positivo y el carbono negativo. Es principalmente un término de marketing, y comprensiblemente confuso; generalmente se recomienda evitar por confuso.
  • Climate neutral se refiere a la reducción de todos los gases de efecto invernadero (GEI) hasta el punto cero, eliminando al mismo tiempo todos los demás impactos ambientales negativos que pueda causar una organización.
  • Las emisiones netas de carbono cero (net-zero carbon emissions) significan que una actividad libera cero emisiones netas de carbono a la atmósfera.
  • Las emisiones netas cero (net-zero emissions) equilibran la cantidad total de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI) liberados y la cantidad eliminada de la atmósfera.

¿Qué es la neutralidad de carbono?

Carbon neutral fue el término del año en 2006 del New Oxford American Dictionary y desde entonces se ha catapultado a uso generalizado en el mundo. Por definición, la neutralidad del carbono (o carbon neutral) es el equilibrio entre la emisión de carbono y la absorción de emisiones de carbono de los sumideros de carbono. O dicho de otro modo, se trata de eliminar por completo todas las emisiones de carbono. Los sumideros de carbono son todos los sistemas que absorben más carbono del que emiten, como los bosques, los suelos y los océanos y otros mecanismos de tipo biológico o mecánico.

Según la Comisión de la Unión Europea, los sumideros naturales eliminan entre 9,5 y 11 Gt de CO2 al año. Hasta la fecha, ningún sumidero artificial de carbono puede eliminar el carbono de la atmósfera a la escala necesaria para luchar contra el calentamiento global. Por ello, para conseguir la neutralidad del carbono, las empresas tienen dos opciones: reducir drásticamente sus emisiones de carbono hasta alcanzar el nivel cero o equilibrar sus emisiones mediante la compensación y la compra de créditos de carbono.

¿Qué significa ser neutro en carbono?

Llegar a ser neutro en carbono es el mantra de las empresas de todo el mundo, pero ¿cómo se puede hacer realidad? Expertos en la materia aconsejan a las empresas que apliquen un marco de contabilidad del carbono a la iniciativa que pretenden abordar. En primer lugar, aconsejan que se calcule la huella de carbono de la empresa.

Una vez calculada la huella de carbono total, la compañía tendrá una mejor idea de la cantidad que debe compensar. A continuación, debe reducir las emisiones de carbono analizando los peores indicadores de carbono, es decir, aquellos en los que la organización emite más, actuando en consecuencia. Por último, queda compensar lo que queda y que, por el momento, no se pueda reducir.

Es imposible generar cero emisiones de carbono; por tanto, la compensación es un enfoque viable para llegar a ser neutro en carbono. La compensación de las emisiones de carbono envía un fuerte mensaje a todas las partes interesadas, del compromiso en allanar el camino hacia un futuro sostenible. La inversión destinada a la neutralización de la huella de carbono, proporcionará tecnología de baja emisión de carbono a las comunidades más expuestas a los impactos del cambio climático. Sin embargo, hay que asegurarse de que el proyecto de compensación sea transparente y haga participar a las comunidades locales en el proceso.

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre Carbon Neutral y Net-Zero?

Como se indicaba antes, Carbon Neutral y Net-Zero son dos términos similares. En ambos casos, las empresas trabajan para reducir y equilibrar su huella de carbono. Mientras que Carbon Neutral se refiere a equilibrar la cantidad total de emisiones de carbono, Net-Zero significa que no se ha emitido carbono desde el principio, por lo que no es necesario capturar o compensar el carbono. Por ejemplo, el edificio de una empresa que funciona totalmente con energía solar y no utiliza combustibles fósiles puede etiquetar su energía como "Net-Zero".

Sin embargo, cuando se habla de "Net-Zero carbon", es crucial especificar el carbono o las emisiones netas cero. Por el contrario, “Net-Zero emissions” se refieren al balance global de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI) producidas y las emisiones de GEI retiradas de la atmósfera.

Aunque el concepto científico suele aplicarse a países como Estados Unidos o China, también puede emplearse para las organizaciones. En otras palabras, el concepto "Net-Zero" describe el punto en el que los seres humanos dejan de aumentar la carga de gases que calientan el clima en la atmósfera.

Carbon negative o Climate positive: hacer más por el planeta

Carbon negative y climate positive son dos términos similares. Aparecen cuando una empresa elimina o captura más CO2 de la atmósfera del que emite. Entonces, la empresa tiene una cantidad negativa de emisiones de carbono e impacta positivamente en el clima.

Así que, profundizando, para que una empresa llegue a ser climáticamente positiva, tiene que entender exactamente cuál es su huella de carbono. Por ejemplo, si un turoperador quisiera lanzar un nuevo paquete de viaje de este tipo, tendría que calcular la huella de carbono total del producto: desde la energía necesaria para poner en las agencias de viajes el producto, hasta las emisiones asociadas a la cadena de valor y al ciclo completo del viaje puerta a puerta, abordando medidas para capturar el carbono que no pudiera reducir y aportando una compensación global superior al total.

domingo, 9 de enero de 2022

Para que un país colapse...

Un poco de aquí, un poco de allí y un poco de mí, esto 👇🏻

El colapso de cualquier país no requiere del uso de bombas atómicas o de misiles de largo alcance. Para ello basta con bajar la calidad de la educación y permitir que los estudiantes aprueben sus estudios sin realmente haber adquirido los conocimientos que les correspondía.

El liderazgo poco inspirador proviene del líder que aprobó sin aprender.

Las malas leyes las hace el político que aprobó sin aprender.

Las acciones injustificables y/o antipatrióticas son apoyadas por los ciudadanos que aprobaron sin aprender.

El dinero se despilfarra a manos de gestores privados y públicos que aprobaron sin aprender.

La justicia desaparece en manos de jueces que aprobaron sin aprender.

La información a medias o no verificada la da el periodista que aprobó sin aprender.

La mala gestión pública y el mal servicio al ciudadano corre a cargo del funcionario que aprobó sin aprender.

Los análisis a medias y esencialmente subjetivos los ofrecen las organizaciones de la sociedad civil cuyos dirigentes aprobaron sin aprender.

Los edificios se derrumban por culpa de ingenieros y arquitectos que aprobaron sin aprender.

Los pacientes mueren a manos del médico que aprobó sin aprender.

La ignorancia inunda las mentes de los niños que son educados por profesores que aprobaron sin aprender.

El colapso de la educación es el colapso de la nación.