“IGNOBEL”

13 04 2009

microscopioAfter our last session where we were talking about inventions, I remembered that there were international prizes that award special discoveries. They are called Ig Nobel Prizes, and apparently they, and I quote, “are given each year in early October for ten achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think”. Well, this link will allow you to browse who and what for was awarded since 1991.

I have to say that I completely agree with the quote. The first thing you can do after reading the last awarded list is star laughing, or staring at your webcam wondering if there is someone on the other side who is laughing his or hers’ head off watching your expressions while reading. I can’t believe that there are people measuring the high of fleas’ jumps, or testing other uses for Coca-Cola.

Of course the second thing you can do after reading the list is star thinking. Are there people who actually waste their time on these kind of issues? Do they call themselves researchers? Does someone pay them for doing these kind of discoveries? Who decides the awarded list? Because I have an interesting research that shows that the heavier the surface you scrub the green side of your scourer is, the faster it wears out

Taking now into consideration the serious side of the question, I think there is a dangerous and wrong message hidden in these prizes, which is, by the way, quite rooted in our society: everything is fine. I mean, in order to respect every behavior, every word said by everyone, every way of earning honest money, we are losing the direction. Of course that everybody has a respectable point of view and a very important reason for doing these researches, but there is not any other higher goal to achieve? There are not bigger needs for society, in all those fields nowadays? Some ideas: a new vaccine against malaria, a system to control stock-options, new alternative energies…





THE ETERNAL DEBATE

2 03 2009

 

imagesDuring the last days, probably because of the murder of Marta del Castillo, the debate about life imprisonment has been rekindled and I think there are a couple of issues that should be taken into account.

To start with, crimes could be grossly classified into two big groups: those that are against people’s integrity and those that are not, and to my mind, punishment should be connected with the fault. For example, someone who kills another person, or a robber using any weapon or violence in order to get the loot or someone who drives over the speed limits, shows no respect for human life, and even if it sounds quite excessive, he or she should be treated in the same way. The harder the punishment is, the more the people will think about committing the crime. Moreover, in some way, this lack of pressure on punishment is one of the biggest problems in Justice. You don’t always pay dearly for mistakes.

Another argument used by opponents of life imprisonment is the fact that this measure goes against the spirit of any system of justice, which is to achieve social rehabilitation of the criminals. Well, I totally disagree. Life imprisonment is not to punish people who have done something wrong, but to protect society. There are people who could go to any lengths to get what they want, so the only way to protect people is to keep these individuals out of the streets.

That’s because, as far as I am concerned, it could be a solution that governments should not reject this right from the start.





How to determine a life

11 02 2009

    

I suppose everybody has heard the news in the last days, so that all of us are aware of the fact that a private school in Salamanca has decided to separate three-year old boys and girls in two different classrooms in order to improve their learning process . According to the results of studies shown during an explanatory meeting given by the headship, mixed classes are said to be more a drawback than a benefit. It seems to be that male and female brains don’t mature at the same speed and mixing is a measure that is detrimental for them. Even more, poor boys are not able to keep focused on learning if they are surrounded by girls, so they are actually doing them a big favor with this measure.

Well, let’s leave aside all the religious reasons which seem to be beneath the decision. I think that, recently, we are losing the north in education issues. Maybe this could sound strange, even more coming from a teacher, but the academic results themselves can’t be the main measurement used to justify any new measure implemented.

I think our education system, above all, till the students finish high school, should be focused on teaching social skills, oral skills, rules of behavior etc, but, instead of that, we just pay attention to the result. Every time a new poll or study shows which is the place of our students in Maths or History, an earthquake takes place on media and on the system too. (a few years ago the last change took place and some light subjects were withdrawn in order to dedicate  more time to the real important things)

Honestly, how much percentage of the knowledge learnt during the ESO do normally people use in ordinary life? The coming years, bachelor and college, are the stages appointed to improve those levels but not the high school in any way. At the end of this level any student should be ready to integrate into the society, respecting the other ones, being fair, being able to work in group, etc. No more, no less.

And if this is the target, how the hell are you helping children to achieve it, separating them during all these years?

By Roberto





GET DRESSED FOR SUCCESS

12 01 2009

 

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Last Wednesday afternoon, while I was doing the washing up, I was listening to the radio too. The main topic was the polemics about the dress worn by the minister of Defense during a parade the day before.

I don’t really know which was worst, the polemics itself, or the points of view expressed by the talkers. One of them was a journalist who had already written about it in a newspaper and the other one was a spokeswoman of the association of progressive women. During the discussion the journalist said that dresses sent messages, and the minister was sending a message of self-confidence and strong personality.

How can still be people thinking in that way in the  21st century? Of course that being clean is important, but that’s all. I think that keeping on considering these things or treating people because of the way they dress instead of what they say or what they do, is one of the most incredible backwardness signs a society can keep with.

On the other side, the spokeswoman said that she was completely sure that if the minister had been a man that polemics would never have happened. Or course I couldn’t avoid remembering our debates about women and men. Honestly I can’t understand those kind of arguments which are many times used in these discussions, because the idea beneath this argument is “hey, you are paying attention to her clothes because she is a woman and she should look beautiful all the time, and what she could said or do is not important, because you know… she is a woman, what interesting thing could she say?”

Well, I think this is quite unfair, maybe a long time ago beauty could be one of the only tools or weapons women could used to have any chance in a society governed by men. But nowadays it’s quite different; I think there are enough structures and laws that guarantee equal rights, so it’s time to finish with “power” that beauty has but, unfortunately, this does not happen . Not everybody complains against beauty queen competitions, or against all the advertisements “dedicated” to sell us the importance of style, or again that women may be working in several different jobs just just because they are pretty. Even more, there are hundreds of social event chronicles that focus only on what was dressed and who dressed it. For example in two months time the Oscars awards will take place. The day after it many tv or radio programmes will be talking about who designed what dress, who looked more elegant , but only a few ones will be talking about who deserved to be awarded.

But that seems not to be important, maybe because there is a very big business behind all that stuff, with very big profits to share. I suppose that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

By Roberto





TO GLOBALIZE OR NOT TO GLOBALIZE

19 12 2008

I’m aware that after all this continuous bombing of news, opinions and analyses about the global crisis, any new word said about it could be considered boring, but sometimes expressing our opinions is the only way we have of moaning about things.

A few weeks ago, during the G20 submit, the outgoing president of the US said (I can’t quote, since I don’t remember the accurate words) that the global free market system could not be judged just by the current global crisis, because it had worked during the last 60 years. Well, the more I find out about economy, the less I agree with the president.

Yesterday one of the biggest frauds in investment funds was found out. It happened in the USA, but the most amazing thing for me was that the newsreader said that experts were still studying how many banks and governments were affected in Europe and how this situation was going to affect small investors’ savings. Just two questions:

Why, in the end, do always the ordinary people pay the consequences of those global mistakes? It is as if crisis was to be happening because bigwigs want to increase their profits and the rest of the world simply work for them to achieve this aim, by tightening our belts.

What does exactly “it had worked” mean? I am afraid that nowadays the situation is worse for ordinary people and third world countries than it was 60 years ago. So leaving any political opinion aside, the globalized free market is not a good place to live in, even more, I would prefer less global freedom and more local control as a guarantee for a balanced fair world. Don’t you agree?

By Roberto

 





TO GLOBALIZE OR NOT TO GLOBALIZE

17 12 2008

I’m aware that after all this continuous bombing of news, opinions and analyses about the global crisis, any new word said about it could be considered boring, but sometimes expressing opinions is the only way of moaning about what we have.

A few weeks ago, during the G20 submit, the outgoing president of the US said (I can’t quote because I don’t remember the accurate words) that the global free market system could not be judged just by the present global crisis, because it had worked during the last 60 years. Well, the more I find out about economy, the less I agree with the president.

Yesterday one of the biggest frauds in investment funds was found out. It happened in the USA, but the most amazing thing for me was that the newsreader said that experts were still studying how many banks and governments were affected in Europe and how the situation was going to affect small investors’ savings. Just two questions:

Why do ordinary people always have to pay the consequences of those global mistakes? It seems as if the crisis was something that has happened because bigwigs wanted to increase their profits and the rest of the world need to fix it, tightening our belts.

What does exactly “it had worked” mean? I am afraid nowadays the situation is worse for ordinary people and third world countries than it was 60 years ago, so leaving any political opinion aside, the globalized free market is not a good place to live in, even more, I would prefer less global freedom and more local control as a guarantee of a balanced fair world.