Posts about politica

About Japan and God and Lilita

As everyone knows, there was a big quake in Japan, then a Tsunami, then a volcano erupted, then a nuclear plant caught fire. All things considered, a really crappy week.

Then again, if I were japanese and I had to read idiots telling me this was because god is pubishing me because of (whatever the idiot doesn't like about Japan), I would be sorely tempted to find the morons and ... ok, considering the japanese are showing they are very reasonable people, probably just tell him something politely.

OTOH, I am not japanese. Which means I can explain in great detail why those who say "maybe it's <whatever> punishing | telling japan <something>" are a complete waste of oxygen.

I will focus on one example, because it's a very special religious moron: a presidential candidate in Argentina, called Lilita Carrió.

Here's what she said (spanish is the original, of course):

"Dios nos está diciendo que debemos cuidar el planeta, que no sigamos destruyendo la tierra, que vivamos en la verdad, en la decencia, en la justicia, que no usemos la tecnología, aunque sea de manera pacífica. Hay que leer los signos de los tiempos"

"God is telling us that we should take care of the planet, that we should stop destroying the earth, that we should live in truth, in decency, in justice, and stop using technology, even if it's peacefully. We should read the sign of the times".

Let's consider that little by little.

"God is telling us that we should take care of the planet"

I must confess I am amazed that an almightly being is less capable of communicating ideas than my 3.9 year old kid. When he wants me to play ball, he brings the ball and tells me "Dad, let's play ball".

On the other hand, god apparently, to tell us to stop using technology, causes a series of catastrophic events in the other end of the world, then brings us the news over the Internet (a technological miracle), so that Lilita can divine god's intentions and then re-broadcast them to us over the radio (of course, an erarlier technological miracle).

Now, does that make sense to anyone? I mean, why doesn't god just, you know, say what he means in a reasonable manner? Because for religious people, the fun is in the divination. They are acting like roman priests divining the future in the entrails of an animal, except they are using the life and suffering of people.

Oh, look, suffering in Japan, that means we should stop using the Wii!

Not only is that approach completely against everything christian doctrine teaches, from with the virtue of charity (if god did it to tell us something, by definition they deserved it!) to the injunction against divining god's messages in portents (yes, it is forbidden, go ask a priest).

"[God is telling us] that we should stop destroying the earth"

Oh, gee, ok then! OTOH, maybe a more subtle way than half-breaking everything in a whole country to let us know next time? Please?

"[God is telling us] that we should live in truth"

Ok, yes, let's do that. I will start by not believing in god, who truly does not exist. When you catch up to that we'll argue some more, ok?

"[God is telling us to] stop using technology, even if it's peacefully."

I would love if this presidential candidate didn't use technology because it would mean I would not have to see her sanctimonious stupidity ever again. OTOH, if we wouldn't have technology, we would probably not know about the earthquake yet. I suppose she may have been saying "nuclear technology" and this is out of context.

OTOH, number of people killed by peaceful nuclear technology since 1950: 1000? 10000?

number of people killed by earthquakes and tsunami in the last 5 years: 100000? 200000?

Yes, those are numbers I just made up, but I am betting they are more right than wrong, so, basically, god has killed more people this week telling us not to use nuclear power, than nuclear power has killed in the last 50 years. Not exactly good communication skills.

"We should read the sign of the times"

Ok, here it is:

The New York Times

Don't vote for this blithering idiot. She's dangerous, and probably mentally ill.

Percentages considered dangerous: the Clarin story

Short intro for foreign readers: the largest newspaper in Argentina (Clarín) is in a catfight with the government. Therefore, we are treated daily to stories in the newspaper about how everything is terrible and the government is going to eat our children, and stories in the official TV channel about how Clarin wants to implant dancing contests and biased news into our prefrontal lobes.

The family subsidies are a recent policy that can be easily described: if you have a kid and you send him to school, you get a little money ($220). That's because having kids in school is a good thing. This has caused school enrollment to increase a lot in one year, meaning a ton of poor kids are now back in school instead of working in the streets or just staying at home.

Since it's hard for Clarín to go ahead and say that's bad, it has to find an angle. How about saying that inflation (which has been raising) is making the subsidies useless? It's an idea.

Having said that, it's hard to take this story and not say... dudes, you are giving biased journalism a bad name.

Here's the title and intro:

The raise in food prices has eliminated a big part of the family subsidies.

Depending on what indicators you use, the erosion can reach 92%

Taken at face value, that's pure nonsense. In order for that to be right, it wuld mean that the peso has lost 92% of its value and it has lost between 10% and 20% depending on what you compare it with.

What they did instead is take the cost of a basket of basic goods that has raised 36.2% (according to some estimates) and convert that raise into pesos. That's $404. Which is 92% of the family subsidies you get if you have two kids.

What's the problem? Well, of course the problem is that it makes no sense, because it's comparing two unrelated things.

Let's consider two moments in time, at the beginning of the subsidies and one year later. The basked of goods has raised from $712 to $1116.

Let's consider the case where that family only has the subsidies, both parents are unemployed and receive no help at all:

They have gone from covering 62% of their basic needs to covering 40% so they are obviously worse off now than a year ago. But not 92% worse, no matter how you cut it.

A bit more realistic: the family had some income other than the subsidies. Imagine only the mother works cleaning houses part time. That means she makes perhaps $500 discounting travel expenses.

So, a year ago, they made $940 and covered 132% of their basic needs, and now they cover only 84%.

But that ignores that pretty much everyone has had pay raises in the last year, precisely because of inflation. So assume she got a very modest raise: 10%, and she now gets $550.

That means she went from covering 132% to 89%.

Of course without the subsidies they would have gone from 70% to 49%! Try telling that mother that the subsidies have lost 92% of their value, and she'll laugh in your face.

Of course that means they are desperately poor, and yes, their salaries are worth less (if you take those numbers at face value, general inflation was much less than 30%).

But those $440 are something that was not there before. It is not a bad thing, and it is not a useless thing. And most certainly it's not a thing that has lost 92% of its value in a year.

Shame on you Clarín for trying to use "math" to confuse people.