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Hero Worship Is Bad

It should be ob­vious to an­yo­ne that taking the wor­ds of an­yo­ne, in­clu­ding so­meo­ne you like (or even spe­cia­lly so­meo­ne you like) wi­thout skep­ti­cism is a dan­ge­rous pa­th. For exam­ple, you may like Gandhi's phi­lo­so­phy of no­n-­vio­len­ce, or ad­mi­re him for whate­ver rea­so­n.

That is hard­ly an ex­cu­se to take an­y­thing he said as wor­th mu­ch, spe­cia­lly when it's about sub­jec­ts he had ab­so­lu­te­ly no idea abou­t, be­cau­se he had a ten­den­cy to be ab­so­lu­te­ly su­re he knew eve­r­y­thing about eve­r­y­thing.

For exam­ple, did you know he wro­te a book about heal­th? He­re's a quo­te from it:

One ques­tion whi­ch I ha­ve asked myself again and agai­n, in the cour­se of wri­ting this book, is why I of all per­sons should wri­te it. Is the­re any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion at all for one like me, who am no doc­to­r, and who­se kno­w­le­dge of the ma­tters dealt wi­th in the­se pa­ges must be ne­ce­ssa­ri­ly im­per­fec­t, attemp­ting to wri­te a book of this kin­d?

My de­fen­ce is this. The “s­cien­ce” of me­di­ci­ne is itself ba­sed upon im­per­fect kno­w­le­dge, most of it being me­re qua­cke­r­y. But this book, at any ra­te, has been promp­ted by the pu­rest of mo­ti­ve­s. The attempt is he­re ma­de not so mu­ch to show how to cu­re di­sea­ses as to point out the means of pre­ven­ting the­m. And a li­ttle re­flec­tion wi­ll show that the pre­ven­tion of di­sea­se is a com­pa­ra­ti­ve­ly sim­ple ma­tte­r, not re­qui­ring mu­ch spe­cia­list kno­w­le­dge, al­thou­gh it is by no means an ea­sy thing to put the­se prin­ci­ples in­to prac­ti­ce. Our ob­ject has been to show the uni­ty of ori­gin and treat­ment of all di­sea­ses, so that all peo­ple may learn to treat their di­sea­ses the­msel­ves when they do ari­se, as they often do, in spi­te of great ca­re in the ob­ser­van­ce of the laws of heal­th.

Do you no­ti­ce the bait and swi­tch? He kno­ws li­ttle about the ma­tte­r, but he wi­ll wri­te the book an­yway be­cau­se it's rea­lly about the sim­ple sub­ject of di­sea­se pre­ven­tio­n. But rea­ding it "a­ll peo­ple may learn how to treat di­sea­ses the­msel­ve­s". And not just a few di­sea­ses but all di­sea­ses. That pa­ra­gra­ph reeks of fal­se mo­des­ty and sim­ple dis­ho­nes­ty.

But he­y, did you know that he could cu­re the pla­gue?

I ha­ve tried this sin­gle treat­ment [a mud poul­ti­ce] for all va­rie­ties from sim­ple fe­ver up to Bu­bo­nic Pla­gue, wi­th in­va­ria­bly sa­tis­fac­to­ry re­sul­ts.

Of cour­se, in the next sen­ten­ce it sa­ys:

In 1904, the­re was a se­ve­re ou­tbreak of pla­gue among the In­dians in Sou­th Afri­ca. It was so se­ve­re tha­t, out of 23 per­sons that we­re affec­te­d, as many as 21 died wi­thin the spa­ce of 24 hour­s; and of the re­mai­ning two, who we­re re­mo­ved to the hos­pi­ta­l, on­ly one sur­vi­ve­d, and that one was the man to whom was applied the mu­d-­poul­ti­ce.

I won­der what is a re­sult le­ss than sa­tis­fac­to­r­y.

The­re are ob­vious mi­sun­ders­tan­dings of ba­sic fac­ts, su­ch as how res­pi­ra­tion wo­rks [1] what the sto­ma­ch does [2] and even how many bo­nes the­re are in a hu­man ches­t, and the­re are, of cour­se, things that are just weird:

Co­coa is fu­lly as har­m­ful as co­ffee, and it con­tains a poi­son whi­ch dea­dens the per­cep­tions of the ski­n.

Even ha­bi­tual co­ffee-­dri­nkers wi­ll be una­ble to per­cei­ve any di­ffe­ren­ce in tas­te be­tween co­ffee and this subs­ti­tu­te. Good and we­ll-­si­fted wheat is put in­to a fr­yin­g-­pan over the fi­re and we­ll frie­d, un­til it has tur­ned com­ple­te­ly re­d, and be­gun to grow da­rk in co­lou­r. Then it is po­w­de­red just like co­ffee. A spoon of the po­w­der is then put in­to a cu­p, and boi­ling wa­ter pou­red on to it. Pre­fe­ra­bly keep the thing over the fi­re for a mi­nu­te, and add mi­lk and su­ga­r, if ne­ce­ssar­y, and you get a de­li­cious dri­nk, whi­ch is mu­ch chea­per and heal­thier than co­ffee. Tho­se who want to save the­msel­ves the trou­ble of pre­pa­ring this po­w­der may get their su­pply from the Satya­gra­ha As­h­ra­m, Ah­me­da­ba­d.

The first cla­ss, whi­ch is the lar­ges­t, con­sis­ts of tho­se who, whe­ther by pre­fe­ren­ce or out of ne­ce­s­si­ty, li­ve on an ex­clu­si­ve ve­ge­ta­ble die­t. Un­der this di­vi­sion co­me the best part of In­dia, a lar­ge por­tion of Eu­ro­pe, and Chi­na and Ja­pan. The sta­ple diet of the Ita­lians is ma­ca­ro­ni, of the Irish po­ta­to, of the Sco­tch oat­mea­l, and of the Chi­ne­se and Ja­pa­ne­se ri­ce. [3]

Wheat is the best of all the ce­real­s. Man can li­ve on wheat alo­ne, for in it we ha­ve in due pro­por­tion all the ele­men­ts of nu­tri­tio­n. Many kin­ds of edi­bles can be ma­de of whea­t, and they can all be ea­si­ly di­ges­te­d. [4] [...] man can re­tain his stren­gth by li­ving on me­re wheat boi­led in wa­te­r.

And fi­na­ll­y, the­re are the bi­ts whi­ch are not just wron­g, but al­so ab­so­lu­te­ly fu­cking dan­ge­rous.

Did you know he sa­ys sma­ll­pox is not con­ta­gious, and is rea­lly a di­ges­ti­ve tract con­di­tio­n?

[S­ma­ll­po­x] is cau­s­e­d, just like other di­sea­ses, by the blood ge­tting im­pu­re owing to so­me di­sor­der of the bo­wel­s; and the poi­son that ac­cu­mu­la­tes in the sys­tem is ex­pe­lled in the form of sma­ll-­po­x. If this view is co­rrec­t, then the­re is ab­so­lu­te­ly no need to be afraid of sma­ll-­po­x. If it we­re rea­lly a con­ta­gious di­sea­se, eve­r­yo­ne should ca­tch it by me­re­ly tou­ching the pa­tien­t; but this is not alwa­ys the ca­se. [...] This has gi­ven ri­se to the su­pers­ti­tion that it is a con­ta­gious di­sea­se, and hen­ce to the attempt to mis­lead the peo­ple in­to the be­lief that vac­ci­na­tion is an effec­ti­ve means of pre­ven­ting it.

Oh, vac­ci­na­tio­n! You see, this book was pu­blis­hed in 1921. By 1921, sma­ll­pox was al­ready di­sappea­ring in Eu­ro­pe be­cau­se vac­cio­na­tion wo­rked. And sma­ll­pox vac­ci­na­tion had wo­rked for de­ca­des. He ei­ther knew no­thing about how effec­ti­ve it wa­s, or did not ca­re.

I thi­nk the pro­blem he­re is, un­sur­pri­sin­gl­y, that to so­meo­ne wi­th Gandhi's ba­ck­ground vac­ci­na­tion was evil and just could­n't be ac­cep­ted as so­me­thing po­si­ti­ve.

Vac­ci­na­tion is a bar­ba­rous prac­ti­ce, and it is one of the most fa­tal of all the de­lu­sions cu­rrent in our ti­me, not to be found even among the so­-­ca­lled sava­ge ra­ces of the worl­d.


Mo­reo­ve­r, vac­ci­na­tion is a ve­ry dir­ty pro­ce­ss, for the se­rum whi­ch is in­tro­du­ced in­to the hu­man body in­clu­des not on­ly that of the co­w, but al­so of the ac­tual sma­ll-­pox pa­tien­t. An ave­ra­ge man would even vo­mit at the me­re si­ght of this stu­ff. If the hand ha­ppens to tou­ch it, it is alwa­ys was­hed wi­th soa­p. The me­re su­gges­tion of tas­ting it fi­lls us wi­th in­dig­na­tion and dis­gus­t. But how few of tho­se who get the­msel­ves vac­ci­nated rea­li­se that they are in effect ea­ting this fil­thy stu­ff!


As has been we­ll sai­d, co­war­ds die a li­ving dea­th, and our cra­ze for vac­ci­na­tion is so­le­ly due to the fear of dea­th or dis­fi­gu­re­ment by sma­ll-­po­x. [5]


I can­not al­so help fee­ling that vac­ci­na­tion is a vio­la­tion of the dic­ta­tes of re­li­gion and mo­ra­li­ty. The dri­nking of the blood of even dead ani­mals is looked upon wi­th ho­rror even by ha­bi­tual mea­t-ea­ter­s. Ye­t, what is vac­ci­na­tion but the taking in of the poi­so­ned blood of an in­no­cent li­ving ani­ma­l? Be­tter far we­re it for Go­d-­fea­ring men that they should a thou­sand ti­mes be­co­me the vic­ti­ms of sma­ll-­pox and even die a te­rri­ble dea­th than that they should be guil­ty of su­ch an act of sa­cri­le­ge.

And the­re you ha­ve it, the cla­s­si­cal mo­ral ari­th­me­tic of the re­li­gious: it is be­tter for your son to die in ho­rri­ble su­ffe­ring or be dis­fi­gu­red than for a drop of cow se­rum to be in­jec­ted in hi­m. Ho­w's that for no­n-­vio­len­t?

Fu­ck that shi­t, Gandhi. Fu­ck that shi­t.


42 (for­ty-­two) is the na­tu­ral num­ber im­me­dia­te­ly fo­llo­wing 41 and di­rec­tly pre­ce­ding 43. The num­ber has re­cei­ved con­si­de­ra­ble atten­tion in po­pu­lar cul­tu­re as a re­sult of its cen­tral appea­ran­ce in The Hi­tchhike­r's Gui­de to the Ga­la­xy as the "An­swer to The Ul­ti­ma­te Ques­tion of Li­fe, the Uni­ver­se, and Eve­r­y­thin­g".


Aho­ra es tam­bién la res­pues­ta a "¿­Cuan­tos años lle­va Ro­ber­to tra­tan­do de lle­gar a ser adul­to­?"

Al­gún día me va a sali­r. Mien­tras tan­to, se cum­ple un año de es­te plan y co­mo ya pa­só un año, ha­ble­mos de esas co­sas que ya sé ha­ce­r. O me­jor no, por­que en una de esas re­sul­ta que no sé ha­cer na­da, y no hay que ha­blar de co­sas feas en un cum­plea­ño­s.

Ha si­do un lin­do año en mu­chas co­sas, no per­fec­to, pe­ro lin­do. Em­pie­zo el 42 jun­to a mi fa­mi­lia, co­mien­do tos­ta­das con spia­na­tta y to­man­do ca­fé ri­co. Eso ya es bas­tan­te.

Being an Inclusive Project (and how GitHub saved my day)

I ha­ve pos­ted over 50 pos­ts he­re about Niko­la and most of them con­tain so­me­thing like "Niko­la, my sta­tic blo­g/­si­te ge­ne­ra­to­r". We­ll, tha­t's not the ca­se an­y­mo­re. From now on I wi­ll say "a sta­tic blo­g/­si­te ge­ne­ra­to­r". Wh­y? Le­t's see.

For star­ter­s, it's no lon­ger true that I wro­te it. Al­thou­gh I am sti­ll pus­hing mo­re co­de that an­yo­ne, the­re are 54 other con­tri­bu­tor­s. That num­ber is as­to­nis­hin­g. Wh­y? Be­cau­se I es­ti­ma­te the­re are around 200 Niko­la user­s. That means the ra­tio of con­tri­bu­tors to users is in­cre­di­bly hi­gh.

That is pro­ba­bly ex­plai­ned be­cau­se the way you build a si­te using Niko­la is ve­ry pro­gra­m­mer orien­te­d. You could des­cri­be a sta­tic si­te ge­ne­ra­tor as a sort of "si­te com­pi­le­r" and not be far off the ma­rk. Many of the be­ne­fi­ts, like you can host your pa­ge sour­ces in gi­thu­b! are com­ple­te­ly mis­te­rious to no­n-­pro­gra­m­mer­s. So, I ex­pec­ted that num­ber to be hi­gh, bu­t, ha­ving a 25% use­r=>­de­ve­lo­per con­ver­sion ra­te? Tha­t's bi­za­rre.

So, I sus­pect I did so­me things we­ll wi­th this pro­ject [1], and wanted to thi­nk them out lou­d, and try to fur­ther the­m.

One thing I thi­nk I did we­ll was that it's an in­clu­si­ve pro­jec­t. If you pro­po­se so­me­thing you are ge­tting heard and I am gi­ving the pro­po­sal a fair shake. I may re­ject it, but not out of han­d, but ins­tead after so­me thou­gh­t. And if I am un­su­re, it's ac­cep­te­d. I would ra­ther get so­me­thing I am not fond of than dri­ve out a con­tri­bu­tor [2] be­cau­se I may chan­ge my min­d, but a con­tri­bu­tor tha­t's go­ne is not co­ming ba­ck.

Sa­me thing about granting co­m­mit ri­gh­ts: want the­m? You get them wi­th the first suc­ce­ss­ful PR by just askin­g.

To­day the­re was ano­ther step on this di­rec­tio­n: I am not the so­le ad­min an­y­mo­re. No lon­ger is http­s://­gi­thu­b.­co­m/­ral­si­na/­niko­la the ca­no­ni­cal re­po, it's now http­s://­gi­thu­b.­co­m/­ge­tniko­la/­niko­la. The web­si­te? Not http://­niko­la.­ral­si­na.­me but http://­ge­tniko­la.­com, paid for 5 year­s. Added two ad­mins to eve­r­y­thing (the awe­so­me da­mia­na­vi­la and Kw­pol­ska). Ga­ve up so­le con­trol of a loooong list of things [3] and now I can get run over by a bus and things should not bi­tro­t.

It pro­tec­ts tho­se 54 other con­tri­bu­tors and few hun­dred users from my ever lo­sing heart or in­te­res­t, whi­ch is a real risk, and should be alle­viate­d.

I thi­nk the most im­por­tant bit about con­ver­ting users in­to con­tri­bu­tors thou­gh, is that you just need to be friend­l­y. And Niko­la is lar­ge­ly a friend­ly pro­jec­t. And tha­t's ma­de it a lot of fun for the past year or so.

I on­ce read that if you re­fu­s­ed to use co­de wri­tten by ass­ho­les you could not boot any OS. We­ll, that may be true, but that does­n't mean being an ass­ho­le is OK. This is a sma­ll pro­ject that does a sma­ll thin­g. But at least I feel con­fi­dent it's not wri­tten by ass­ho­le­s. And tha­t's a vic­to­ry in itsel­f.

OTOH the­re are so­me ma­jor de­ffi­cien­cies sti­ll. Di­ver­si­ty is good in so­me areas (geo­gra­phi­ca­ll­y, for ins­tan­ce) but AFAIK the per­cen­ta­ge of wo­men con­tri­bu­ting to the co­de­ba­se is 0% and I ha­ve no idea wh­y, and I would lo­ve to im­pro­ve tha­t.

So, lo­ts of wo­rk do­ne, lo­ts mo­re to do. Tha­t's a good po­si­tion to be in, I thi­nk.

Clarín: Donde 2500 dólares es barato, pero $7000 es caro

Hoy Apple sacó dos te­lé­fo­nos nue­vo­s, el iPho­ne 5c y el 5s.

Re­sul­ta que es­tán a la ven­ta por U$S 99 con con­tra­to. En­ton­ces Cla­rín al to­que saca la no­ta "¿­Qué te­lé­fo­nos se con­si­guen en Ar­gen­ti­na por 99 dó­la­res?"

Yo sé que pre­ten­der que un pe­rio­dis­ta se­pa de lo que es­cri­be, se­pa mul­ti­pli­ca­r, se­pa bus­car en Google y en­ci­ma lo de­jen pu­bli­car lo que ave­ri­gua es jo­di­do, pe­ro­...

  • Sa­­le U$S 99 su­b­­si­­dia­­do

  • Li­­be­­­ra­­do sa­­le U$S 579

  • Pa­­ra co­m­­pra­r­­lo a U$S 99 te­­nés que sa­­car un co­n­­tra­­to de dos años de más o me­­nos U$S 99 men­­sua­­les

O sea que com­prar uno te sa­le 579 dó­la­res, o (en com­bo con dos años de ser­vi­cio) 2500 dó­la­res.

Has­ta ahí lo que no ave­ri­guó el pe­rio­dis­ta (o si lo sa­be no lo es­cri­bió, o si lo es­cri­bió no se lo pu­bli­ca­ro­n).

Vea­mos aho­ra el otro la­do de la no­ta. Men­cio­na el Sam­sung Ga­la­xy S4. Es un te­lé­fono más que com­pa­ra­ble con el iPho­ne 5c, que es más o me­nos el iPho­ne 5 con car­ca­za de co­lo­res.

Vea­mo­s, cuán­to sa­le un S4 acá?

  • Sa­­le $4499

  • Pa­­ra co­m­­pra­r­­lo a ese pre­­cio te­­nés que sa­­car un co­n­­tra­­to de $139 (en Mo­­­vis­­ta­­r, por eje­m­­plo)

  • Ta­m­­bién lo po­­­dés sa­­car con un plan "co­n­­tro­­­l" más ba­­ra­­to y te sa­­le $5499

Se­gún Cla­ri­n, es­to quie­re de­cir que sa­le 500 y 850 dó­la­res (de pa­so, un S4 li­be­ra­do en USA? 1000 dó­la­res. Li­be­ra­do acá? 24 cuo­tas de $320 en Frá­ve­ga, sa­quen sus pro­pias cuen­ta­s).

En rea­li­da­d, lo co­rrec­to es que sa­le (en com­bo con 18 me­ses de ser­vi­cio) $7000. Si que­rés equi­pa­rar los tér­mi­nos de ser­vi­cio: $7836 con dos años de ser­vi­cio.

Sí, el ser­vi­cio en USA es me­jor que acá. Pe­ro no po­dés de­ci­r, así suel­to de cuer­po, que $7836 es más que U$S 2500. A me­nos que seas Cla­rí­n.

UP­DA­TE que­rés una bue­na re­la­ción pre­cio­/­pro­duc­to? Te po­dés com­prar un Huawei Y300. Es más len­te­ja, es más gor­do, es de plás­ti­co, pe­ro sa­le 100 dó­la­res en se­rio, li­be­ra­do, y es más o me­nos lo que era un te­lé­fono flags­hip de ha­ce 18 me­s­es, po­né­le un Ga­la­xy S2, más o me­no­s, que los que lo com­pra­ron con sub­si­dio to­da­vía lo es­tán pa­gan­do.

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