Making simple things unnecessary complicated

Very happy about the performance of my newly-installed Starlink satellite Internet connection.

The dish was installed in less than an hour on a normal antenna pole on my roof (not by me, of course) with the cable running down through the roof to the room where the rest of the equipment is.

This placement is optimal, as there are no obstacles, and the dish can happily connect to the low orbit sat network with minimal interruptions.

I will be keeping the existing ADSL connection as a backup for a while, until I am sure everything works OK then, given the high cost of Starlink, cut off that wire and go totally untethered.

Unfortunately I will need to replace the powerline extender (config utility no longer supported on MacOS) needed to get a decent signal through our thick (in some places almost a metre!) walls, but that’s OK because I’m getting TP-Link extenders where the receiver supports up tp 7 remote extenders all on the same SSID.

Also I will need a switch (EDIT: someone suggested I get a buffer router instead), as the very basic Starlink router only has one network port, so all that is next week’s task, after I get the hardware.

Today’s task involved moving my wireless printers/scanners to the new network. Unfortunately the Starlink router doesn’t have the insecure but practical WPS button, so configuration must be made manually.

BROTHER MFC-6520DW

  • [on the printer control panel]
  • Setup
  • Wireless network
  • [from the list of available SSIDs] Select SSID
  • Enter password
  • OK

HP LaserJet M148DW

  • Connect USB cable
  • Launch HP Smart app
  • Select printer
  • Printer settings
  • Advanced settings
  • Networking
  • Select SSID
  • Enter password
  • The HP Smart utility apparently installs a new printer, as the driver has a slightly different name, so on each computer’s printer list, you’ll need to select the “new” one (and delete the “old” one to avoid confusion)

Took me 5′ to connect the Brother vs. over 2 hours for the H-P, including innumerable resets, reading of manual and perusing of support boards and an assortment of profanities.

Still unclear why the H-P printer control panel does not simply display a list if available SSIDs to associate, but it doesn’t.

The price of stubborness

Lifelong Mac user, I always limited my allegiance to Apple’s computers and music players: while I cannot count the number of Macintoshes, Macbooks and iPods I owned over the years, I never had an iPhone or Apple Watch or any other gizmo.

I paid dearly for the obstinacy in resisting the lure to go all-in on the bitten apple, especially when trying to get my Android phone (but it was a Symbian phone before that) to talk to my Mac, sync information and move files.

In this latest iteration I had to replace a damaged-beyond-repair Huawei device, and chose a Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro which has three of the things I want: a headphone jack, a replaceable battery and a micro SD card tray. This last requirement was especially long-sighted, for reasons you’ll understand below.

The migration from the old phone was a non-migration: my Google accounts did a little of the work (essentially remembered which apps I had) but not much: I had to manually rebuild my painstakingly designed single-page home screen, pictures and music did not budge at all, and contacts got hopelessly messed up.

All in all, there was (and still is) A LOT of manual work to complete the task:

  • Pics got backed up and pulled down from Dropbox (this was a piece of cake, there were very few of them, as I back up and catalog them very often)
  • Contacts got exported in VCF from the old phone and re-imported, after razing the new phone address book
  • Music is tougher, as there is a whopping 35GB of it:
    • Backing up to Dropbox would take ages with my slow connection. In fact these files are the result of the manual ripping of my CD collection, so until fiber or Starlink don’t bring us to this century (which is happening, let’s see who makes it first) they won’t be backed up to the cloud like everything else, as I have the actual CDs.
    • Next I tried using the USB cable connection: Android File Transfer keeps breaking down as it does with many other phones and USB-debug reliant Macdroid does not like the wonky USB driver of my Xiaomi phone: alas, there is a new one, but only for Windows!
    • Then I tried FTP, but first I had to understand (it took me a while) that the native FTP server OSX used to offer was removed around 2009-2010 (I think for security reasons) so I had to install an FTP server on the Macbook and an FTP client on the phone. Speed is very low (perhaps due to poorly configured WiFi ?) and the FTP pipe kept breaking down, mostly due to incoming calls (which, BTW, failed so don’t do this when working !) and I had to give up. Moreover, the FTP client’ mere existence even if it’s not running makes receiving calls impossible, so I had to uninstall it altogether.
    • My final option is the StairsNet: back in the days, at Lotus we had the developers team housed on the third floor and the QA team on the first. Our LAN was not the best (*ahem!*) and sometimes developers would put a build on a portable HD drive and trudge down to first floor, hence the name. Basically, I’ll copy the files to a micro SD card and move it to the phone from where I’ll copy it back to the destination folder. Not the fastest process as the SD card slot on my Mac does not have a very fast connection and the file system simulators on phones are horrible creatures, but lo-tek enough it could work.

Adding to my predicament is my wife’s and daughter’s relentless teasing about oh-so-much-easier it would have been had I chosen an iPhone, especially nasty because it’s true.

Without the SD card tray I’d be stuck: God save us from the bad example set by Apple of removing everything from their phones: it might work in a closed, tightly controlled system like the Apple ecosystem, but definitely NOT on a mixed ecosystem like the one I insist in having.

Next task will be to get the phone to work with Android Auto, but that’s for another day.

[EDIT 22/9]: I have decided to return this phone – during all of yesterday I could not receive calls, and compatibility with Android Auto and the Neutron Music Player was awful.

Back to shopping, I have relented on the replaceable battery and am willing to downgrade to 128GB (currently using about 75GB) but not willing to compromise on audio jack and SD card tray. Current shortlist includes:

  • Samsung A72
  • Samsung A52s
  • Google Pixel 4a (no SD card might be compensated by the cruft-free OS…)

A new problem to my car’s High-Voltage battery


July 11th (Sunday): this morning I wasn’t able to start the car whose dashboard showed the alarm you can see below. I therefore called Road Assistance because the Kona blocked my driveway and I could not exit with any other car; the car was taken to a deposit and delivered tomorrow to the authorized Hyundai service point (Autorino in Cava Manara, the closest to my house).

July 12th at 9AM I call to get information and to arrange a replacement car: the call center promises to have someone call me back a.s.a.p., but that never happens. I call again at 2PM and then at 4:15PM with identical results (i.e. nobody calls me back) so I have no idea what happened to my car. This behaviour mirrors exactly previous contacts I had with said service point. i.e. they never call you back.

As for the problem itself, it had happened identical in early April, while I was in Mantova on a work trip. The car was taken to the local Hyundai service point (Gruppo Ferrari) where it remained for nine days after which I got it back with the assurance that “the problem was fixed” an optimistic assessment which, as it turns out, was not justified.

PROBLEMS

  • My first problem is the unbelievable rudeness of the personnel at Autotorino which, despite my three calls only decided to call me this morning after I filed a formal complaint for poor service in writing.
  • The second problem are the many technical issues of this car. On top of the two I described, I had another three service stops due – I think – to a malfunctioning 12V battery, and I say “I think” because nobody was able to explain what the issue was or what they did to fix it. I think you will agree that for a two-years old car this is NOT acceptable.
  • The third problem is that this car is essential for my job: I travel a lot (one of the reasons I chose an electric car): a replacement car is a partial remedy, given it costs me a lot more to operate, and only if the issue happens when at home. In the episode of Mantova I had to waste a half-day to go get the car when it was fixed, but if that happens when I am in Napoli? Or next month (assuming I get it back by then) when on vacation in Sicily? Do you genuinely expect me to travel 3.000 kilometers to get it back?
  • The fourth problem is the fact that I am a long-time arthritis sufferer; my driving licence requires I drive only cars with automatic gearboxes; since it is impossible for me to speak with the service point, I cannot make them aware of this essential requirement.

CONCLUSIONS

I have read media reporting about a recall for the replacement of the HV battery for problems that seem similar to the ones I have, and I wonder if this behaviour isn’t simply a delaying tactic yo avoid performing such an expensive replacement under warranty. It would certainly help if Hyundai or its service points were a bit more forthcoming in explaining to its paying customers what’s wrong and how it’s going to be fixed.

It is fairly evident that the product you sold me was defective since the start and I am very close to defer the whole matter to a lawyer to obtain a replacement or a full refund, including damages and time lost.

UPDATES

July 14th: this morning I get a call from service workshop who asks two questions whose answer was in the letter I had sent (see above) and promises to have me recalled to figure out the issue of the replacement car. Obviously no one calls and therefore at 3PM I pay a physical visit to the workshop where they offer the most unlikely excuses for their rudeness in not calling me back and say that:

  • they are investigating, no diagnosis is yet possible.
  • the decision about the replacement car is up to Hyundai Motor Company Italy. I make clear that in a week I am due to depart for my already-paid-for holiday, that they have “investigated” for three days already, and that when the same exact problem happened in Mantova two months ago, the replacement car was issued in no time at all; I also remind them that my driving licence requires an auto gearbox car.
  • they have no clue about what happened in Mantova: apparently the information system doesn’t log the maintenance episodes by VIN number across the service network. I suggest not to perform again the same software updates performed in Mantova.

July 14th: in the evening service calls again stating that the Call Center “is about to call me” to sort out the replacement car issue, but I get no call.

July 15th: in the evening I get the call from the Call Center. I go through the list of my (simple) requirements: I live in Pavia, I can only drive cars with auto transmission; I then state upon request my drivetrain preferences: electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, petrol, diesel in that order.

July 16th: the ability to listen to its Customers is without question one of the best characteristics of Hyundai Motor Company Italy. Upon receiving the SMS announcing my car is ready I go to the rental company where I find…. a diesel car with manual transmission! Since I was going apeshit, and sensing he could be the innocent target of my wrath, the rental employee manages to find a car with auto transmission (but still diesel).

Mai perdere la memoria!

Negli anni ’80 fare video di famiglia richiedeva dedizione e sprezzo del pericolo.

Io mi trascinavo dietro una telecamera che aveva le dimensioni di una Arriflex 35mm PIÙ uno scatolozzo che era in sostanza metà di un videoregistratore intero, dato che il supporto erano colossali nastri VHS. Sarebbero dovuti passare una decina d’anni prima che si passasse a cassette molto più piccole tipo VHS-C anche se io nel frattempo ero saltato sul carro Sony e usavo miniDV.

Gianni mentre filma i suoi figli

In totale però il problema maggiore è sempre stato quello dell’accesso dato che, come su tutti i nastri, i contenuti sono memorizzati in serie. La poca praticità nella fruizione condannò i video di famiglia alla stessa fine ingloriosa cui aveva condannato i filmini 8mm e le diapositive ma è un peccato, non tanto per le immagini la cui qualità è talmente scarsa da far considerare l’oblio come il più pietoso dei destini, quanto per il valore documentale.

A questa difficoltà si aggiunge il fatto che non posseggo più lettori di nastri compatibili con questi formati di cassette.

Sta di fatto che ho deciso di prendere il toro per le corna, digitalizzando il mio “giacimento di famiglia” (una trentina di cassette) scaraventando poi il tutto su YouTube.

Le informazioni di registrazione si riducono a scarabocchi sull’etichetta della cassetta, dunque sarà necessario:

  1. digitalizzare i nastri
  2. tagliare il filmato in spezzono omogenei per evento
  3. visionarli quel tanto che basta per assegnare a ciascuno spezzone coordinate spazio-temporali e un titolo
  4. caricare su YouTube

Per il passo 1. utilizzerò un service esterno che per una decina di euro a cassetta mi consegna dei file MP4 e poi metterò alla prova il mio povero Macbook Air e la mia connessione ADSL per i passi successivi.

Voi che leggete ve la cavate con poco, nemmeno vi posto il link alla playlist – i miei figli però potrebbero non essere altrettanto fortunati…

CCD: they exist!

Like many people, I take Global Warming and Climate Change as an accepted fact. Being this a field of Science rather far from the ones I – sort of – understand because they were part of my academic background or are the areas I professionally continued to study, I take science’s consensus conclusion as a given.

But this also means I have rarely the opportunity to confront CCD’s (Climate Change Deniers).

Yesterday I got dragged into one such discussion on LinkedIn (where my point was not at all on CC itself, but rather on the “net zero” controversy) by not one, but two gentlemen, Robert and Paul.

With typical passive-aggressive stance, they started to question the very concept, stating that there is no CO2 increase in the atmosphere, and anyway it has no consequence over climate, offering bits of what looks like scientific evidence.

Sadly the author of the post I was commenting on, who unlike me has ample Climate Change credentials. uses Social Media in the worst possible manner i.e. one-way only, so Paul and Robert had a field day spewing their doubts.

Mind you, they themselves are not Climate Scientists, so their credibility is on a par with mine on this subject, but to the casual reader they do not come across as tinfoil hat-wearing, doomsday-predicting loonies and therefore are able to cast reasonable doubts.

I therefore decided to invest an hour or so to put together a collection of good articles dealing with CCD, and here it is. I have not the slightest hope of ever changing the mind of a CCD (as you cannot convince by means of rational arguments a flat-earther or a novax): the target of this collection is the reader silently lurking to counterbalance what “looks like science” with something that “is science” and undermine the undermining action of those who seek to cast doubts over accepted science.

Obviously this is but a selection: the topic has been so widely discussed that it almost feels like I set out to prove the theory of gravity or the second law of thermodynamics.

The articles are in no particular order or ranking and if anyone has come across another good one, please send it over and I’ll add to the list.

  • Who are CCD’s ? – this article deals with the psychological, demographic and political profile of climate change deniers
  • Where do CCD’s get their “science”? – this articles reviews the topography of so-called Conservative Think Tanks which exist both in the U.S. and in Europe. I doubt Paul or Robert are the original authors of the charts they post. Like me, they get them from sources who think along their lines.
  • Responding to a CCD – this article lists a bazillion questions and objections people like Paul or Robert would raise (including all of theirs), and the scientific response to each and every single one of those, I do the same all the time with electric mobility. To me, this looks like a pretty comprehensive overview.
  • Answering the champion – this Guardian article lists the top 10 CC objections put forward by perhaps the superstar of CCD’s, Roy Spencer, and responds to each of them.

So, Paul and Robert, I’m sorry but I won’t be dragged into a scientific discussion on Climate Change with you, not because you’re not worth it (hint: you’re not!) but because I don’t want to fall for the trap of discussing superficially about this topic.

But in case any of the readers get tickled by the doubts you cast, I encourage THEM to read one or all of the above, and put your mind to rest: Climate Change is a fact, not an opinion.

Birth of the CorpoNation

Gianni Catalfamo, April 2021

ITA

In 1931 Aldous Huxley published a short story entitled “Brave New World” in which he describes a dystopian society based on technological progress.

Ninety years have passed (a bit early to judge since BNW is set in 2540) but it seems to me that Huxley got it all wrong: I don’t see traces of the division into classes based on skills and abilities and I don’t see the slightest trace of City-State within a single world nation. Indeed, it seems to me that we are moving quite rapidly in the opposite direction.

However, technology is altering the characteristics of the Society as we know it, in many ways, some more subtle and others more evident.

Social Entities

Traditionally, society has given itself an identity/organization based on the territory: all the people who live together in a certain territory and who recognize themselves as “similar” form a Nation which also assumes a political value, giving itself governance and customs accepted as normal .

Unfortunately, the concept of Territory and Nation hardly ever coincide perfectly, creating the basis for territorial and / or cultural conflicts that are resolved by sport, war or politics: history tells us that the relative weight of the three means of conflict resolution is changed, but if perhaps we managed to avoid the next war Olympics in the minor leagues the sword is still much more popular than the word or the football.

In the last thirty years, however, a different plan of existence, distinct from the real one, has emerged: one where relationships are woven, transactions are carried out and reputations are created or destroyed: the Internet.

The companies which manage the means for accessing and using this new plan of existence (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon) have developed an extraordinary power, such as has never been seen in any other sector of the economy. These are private companies which now develop global turnovers higher than almost all countries in the world, except for a handful, but above all they continue to grow at a rate of 50% per year, while economies around the world eke out – in a good year – 2-3% per year.

Continuing at this rate, Apple will be bigger than the entire US economy in less than 10 years.

Fuelling the growth

What is the fuel of this dizzying and unstoppable growth? It is not technology, nor the Internet: many other successful companies are engaged in these same sectors (IBM, Oracle, Cisco, HP, Samsung) without giving the impression of having the same potential.

I think that the rocket propellant of the aforementioned companies is in the extraordinary capacity that they have demnstrated to reach huge masses of consumers with the products and services they desire, pushing billions of people to voluntarily and knowingly enter their ecosystem, paying for access with a currency that disdains money in lieu of their personal data which these companies package and resell.

But what does a state do?

  1. It offers some shared collective services:
    • infrastructure
    • instruction
    • health care
    • currency
    • public order
    • defence
    • identity
  2. Getting paid by means of general taxation
  3. Determining the strategic directions on the basis of governance mechanisms which – with various nuances and many exceptions – can be traced back to the representative democracy invented in Greece in the 5th century BC.

Changing (but only slightly) terminology, we can say that these companies are growing so quickly because they are able to bring so many citizens into their ecosystem.

The CorpoNation

In light of the above definition, let’s try to see if any of these companies could constitute a State or a “CorpoNation”:

  1. Shared collective services
    • infrastructure – only partially; certainly all the infrastructures inherent to the use of the services and products of the Corps are made available, but not the infrastructures necessary for the basic functioning of society such as roads. These could be the subject of a service contract offered by a territorial company to which the Corps pays a fee proportional to the number of “citizens” physically present in that territory
    • education – all the big companies mentioned are be able to organize and support forms of distance learning, as the pandemic has shown us; this could become a “premium” service offered for a fee to those who need it. Businesses would also be much more effective than states in developing skills certification protocols recognized by one CN to another
    • health – not directly and not in the universal and free form that we have in Europe. In other continents, however, health is guaranteed by less inclusive and universal forms of insurance; in the final analysis it is a question of size and a CorpNation with two or three billion “citizens” could negotiate very advantageous conditions on the insurance market …
    • currency – absolutely yes; even several of these companies are already thinking of developing cryptocurrencies which could be used for transactions within the domain
    • public order – in part it is already done, using as a penalty what was once called confinement, that is, expulsion from the National Body: President Trump was excluded in a few hours from any form of public dialogue on the basis of a decision unilateral by the Social Network police who, without worrying about following the hyper-guarantee process that modern justice has developed to protect the individual citizen, has effectively isolated him from the world. For someone like Trump, locking him in jail would have hurt him less.
    • defense – if by “defense” we mean men and technical resources to protect the borders from external aggressors, this has been happening for some time in each of those companies. Obviously these are digital attacks, and instead of planes, tanks and submarines we have server farms and sophisticated cyber-defense software
    • identity – If the identity takes the form of an attestation recognized by others, the login credentials of Google or Facebook are already worth more than any passport today!
  2. By getting paid by means – not of taxation, but of the access fee
  3. Determining the strategic guidelines – through the rules that govern the functioning of any Shareholders’ Meeting

Overall, the Nation Corps could be much more efficient than the traditional state and, since there would be no more physical borders to defend, probably less conflictual. Furthermore, each citizen could belong to more than one Corps, further improving the level of services received and reducing costs.

What next?

Since this discussion was born together with a group of other people, I will stop here. Perhaps there will be someone who will want to add their own considerations and then you will find them below, attributed to each Author.

If you wish to contribute, write to this address.

La nascita della CorpoNazione


(Gianni Catalfamo, 30 Aprile 2021)

ENG

Nel 1931 Aldous Huxley pubblica un racconto intitolato “Brave New World” in cui descrive una società distopica basata sul progresso tecnologico.

Sono passati novant’anni (un po’ presto per giudicarlo visto che BNW è collocato nel 2540) ma a me sembra che Huxley abbia toppato: non vedo tracce delle divisioni in classi sulla base di competenze e capacità e non vedo la minima traccia di Città-stato entro un’unica nazione mondiale. Anzi, mi pare che si stia procedendo rapidamente in direzione opposta.

La tecnologia però sta alterando i connotati della Società quale noi la conosciamo, in molti modi, alcuni più sottili e altri più evidenti.

Entità sociali

Tradizionalmente la società si è data un’organizzazione identitaria basata sul territorio: tutte le persone che coabitano su un certo territorio e che si riconoscono come “simili” formano una Nazione che assume anche una valenza politica, dandosi una governance e dei costumi accettati come normali.

Purtroppo il concetto di territorio e nazione non coincidono perfettamente quasi mai, creando le basi per conflitti territoriali e/o culturali che vengono risolti per via sportiva, bellica o politica: la Storia ci dice che il peso relativo dei tre mezzi di risoluzione del conflitto è andato cambiando, ma se forse siamo riusciti ad evitare la prossima Olimpiade bellica nei campionati minori la spada è ancora molto molto più popolare della parola o del pallone.

Negli ultimi trent’anni però sì è andato imponendo all’attenzione della società un piano di esistenza diverso da quello reale, dove si intrecciano relazioni, si svolgono transazioni e si creano o distruggono reputazioni: quello di Internet.

Le aziende che gestiscono le modalità di accesso e fruizione di questo nuovo piano di esistenza (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon) hanno sviluppato un potere straordinario, quale non si è mai visto in nessun altro settore dell’economia. Si tratta di società private che ormai sviluppano fatturati globali superiori a quasi tutti i Paesi del mondo, eccetto una manciata, ma soprattutto continuano a crescere a ritmi del 50% all’anno, mentre le economie di tutto il mondo quando va bene crescono del 2-3% l’anno.

Continuando di questo passo, tra meno di 10 anni Apple sarà più grande dell’intera economia degli Stati Uniti.

Il motore di crescita

Qual è il carburante di questa crescita vertiginosa ed inarrestabile? Non è la tecnologia, e nemmeno Internet: molte altre aziende di successo sono impegnate in questi stessi settori (IBM, Oracle, Cisco, HP, Samsung) senza però dare l’impressione di avere le stesse potenzialità.

Io penso che il propellente dei razzi delle aziende prima citate sia nella capacità straordinaria che hanno dimostrato di raggiungere masse enormi di consumatori con prodotti e servizi che questi desiderano, spingendo miliardi di persone ad entrare volontariamente e consapevolmente nel loro ecosistema, pagandosi l’accesso con una valuta che disdegna la “vil moneta” preferendole i propri dati personali che queste aziende impacchettano e rivendono.

Ma cosa fa uno Stato?

  1. Offre alcuni servizi collettivi condivisi
    1. infrastrutture
    2. istruzione
    3. sanità
    4. moneta
    5. ordine pubblico
    6. difesa
    7. identità
  2. Facendosi pagare per mezzo della fiscalità generale e particolare
  3. Determinando gli indirizzi strategici sulla base di meccanismi di governance che – con varie sfumature e molte eccezioni – possono ricondursi alla democrazia rappresentativa inventata in Grecia nel V secolo A.C.

Cambiando (ma solo leggermente) terminologia, possiamo dire che queste aziende crescono così rapidamente perché riescono a far entrare tanti cittadini nel loro ecosistema

La CorpoNazione

Alla luce della definizione illustrata al paragrafo precedente, proviamo a vedere se una qualsiasi di queste aziende potrebbe costituire uno Stato o, per meglio dire, una “CorpoNazione”:

  1. Servizi collettivi condivisi
    1. infrastrutture – solo in parte; sicuramente vengono messe a disposizione tutte le infrastrutture inerenti all’utilizzo dei servizi e prodotti dalla CorpoNazione, ma non le infrastrutture necessarie al funzionamento di base della società come le strade. Queste potrebbero essere oggetto di un contratto di servizio offerto da una azienda territoriale cui la CorpoNazione paga una fee proporzionale al numero di “cittadini” fisicamente presenti su quel territorio
    2. istruzione – tutte le CorpoNazioni sarebbero in grado di organizzare e supportare forme di insegnamento a distanza, come ci ha dimostrato la pandemia; questo potrebbe diventare un servizio “premium” offerto a pagamento a chi ne ha bisogno. Le CorpoNazioni potrebbero anche essere molto più efficaci degli Stati nello sviluppare protocolli di certificazione delle competenze riconosciuto da una CN all’altra
    3. sanità – non direttamente e non nella forma universale e gratuita che abbiamo in Europa. In altri continenti però la sanità è garantita da forme assicurative meno inclusive ed universali; in ultima analisi è una questione di dimensioni e una CorpoNazione con due o tre miliardi di “cittadini” potrebbe spuntare condizioni molto vantaggiose sul mercato assicurativo…
    4. moneta – assolutamente sì; addirittura diverse di queste aziende stanno pensando di sviluppare criptovalute che possano essere usate per le transazioni all’interno del dominio
    5. ordine pubblico – in parte viene già fatto, usando come pena quello che una volta si chiamava confino, cioè l’espulsione dalla CorpoNazione: il Presidente Trump si è visto escludere nel giro di poche ore da ogni forma di dialogo pubblico sulla base di una decisione unilaterale della polizia dei Social Network che, senza preoccuparsi di seguire l’iter iper-garantista che la Giustizia moderna ha sviluppato per proteggere il singolo cittadino, lo ha di fatto isolato dal mondo. Per uno come Trump, chiuderlo in galera gli avrebbe fatto meno male.
    6. difesa – se per “difesa” si intendono uomini e mezzi tecnici che servano a proteggere i confini da aggressori esterni, questo avviene da tempo in ciascuna delle CorpoNazioni. Ovviamente si tratta di attacchi digitali, e al posto di aerei, carri armati e sottomarini abbiamo server farm e sofisticati software di cyber-difesa
    7. identità – vogliamo scherzare? Se l’identità si concretizza in una attestazione riconosciuta da altri, le credenziali di accesso di Google o Facebook valgono già oggi più di qualsiasi passaporto!
  2. Facendosi pagare per mezzo – non della fiscalità, ma della fee di accesso
  3. Determinando gli indirizzi strategici – tramite le regole che governano il funzionamento di una qualsiasi Assemblea degli Azionisti

Complessivamente, la CorpoNazione potrebbe essere molto più efficiente dello Stato tradizionale e, dato che non ci sarebbero più confini fisici da difendere, probabilmente meno conflittuale. Ciascun cittadino inoltre potrebbe appartenere a più di una CorpoNazione, ulteriormente migliorando il livello dei servizi ricevuti e diminuendone i costi.

What next?

Dato che questa discussione è nata insieme ad un gruppo di altre persone, mi fermo qui. Forse ci sarà qualcuno che avrà voglia di aggiungere le proprie considerazioni ed allora le troverete qui di seguito, attribuite a ciascun Autore.

Se desiderate contribuire, scrivete a questo indirizzo.

(Lucio Bragagnolo, 3 Maggio 2021)

L’azienda-nazione (d’ora in poi azienda) tende alla verticalità, a fornire principalmente un servizio, là dove lo stato-nazione (d’ora in poi stato) tende alla trasversalità, ovvero a occuparsi di tutto.

Gli stati adottano forme di interscambio di merci e servizi; le aziende tendono semplicemente a lavorare in parallelo, ciascuna sul proprio binario.

La vera differenza è nella cittadinanza, trasversale. Il cittadino aziendale, ipersemplifico, usa hardware Apple, software Microsoft, consegne Amazon, informazioni Google, socialità Facebook. Ci sono certo aree marginali di sovrapposizione e di concorrenza, che lasciano inalterato il quadro di insieme.

Il cittadino aziendale possiede non uno ma numerosi passaporti, o account, e utilizza l’uno o l’altro secondo convenienza per fruire dei servizi desiderati.

Non si resti sorpresi: si rilegga la Dichiarazione di indipendenza del ciberspazio, pubblicata da John Perry Barlow nel 1996.

[rivolto ai governi delle nazioni industrializzate] I vostri concetti legali di proprietà, espressione, identità, movimento e contesto non si applicano a noi [cittadini del ciberspazio]. Si basano tutti sulla materia e qui di materia non ce n’è.

Rileggere Perry Barlow un quarto di secolo dopo è capire che da subito lui aveva intuito l’incapacità strutturale da parte della politica e dei governi di affrontare la novità.

In questi venticinque anni il vuoto conseguente è stato colmato dalle aziende, non tanto per particolare genio o intuizione (Bill Gates aveva snobbato la nascente Internet, prima di capovolgere idea e strategia) quanto per la loro naturale inclinazione a crescere e generare profitto.

Le aziende hanno trovato nuovi settori di fornitura ai cittadini, che gli stati non potevano intrinsecamente comprendere e nei quali quindi non operavano, e hanno iniziato a fornire servizi su scala planetaria. Questa nuova dimensione ha portato le aziende più grandi ed efficienti ad acquisire la medesima scala. Il fatturato di Apple ha lo stesso ordine di grandezza di tanti prodotti interni lordi di nazioni ragionevolmente moderne e sviluppate.

È abbastanza noto che Internet favorisca la disintermediazione, come ha scoperto per esempio e amaramente l’editoria. Le aziende su scala planetaria, semplicemente, disintermediano lo stato.

Questa disintermediazione ha successo perché rimuove vari livelli di frizione introdotti artificiosamente dagli stati.

Si può giocare all’infinito alle differenze e similitudini, ma le due cose che più contano sono queste:

  • la tassazione di uno stato è slegata dalla sua fornitura di servizi, è indifferente alla soddisfazione del cittadino e serve ad alimentare la sopravvivenza dell’apparato statale stesso, mentre nell’azienda la soddisfazione del cliente-cittadino è fondamentale e c’è una corrispondenza diretta tra contributo finanziario e servizio fornito, senza il livello intermedio della burocrazia;
  • l’azienda lavora per offrire servizi capaci di agevolare e facilitare la vita del cittadino, nonché aumentare la sua capacità di sostenersi economicamente. Lo stato è indifferente alla crescita del reddito del cittadino, a parte la richiesta di una tassazione proporzionata.

Le aree di servizio dove non sono apparse aziende planetarie in sostituzione degli stati sono quelle dove, semplicemente, la presenza attuale degli stati è più radicata e monopolista. Nessuno stato consentirebbe, oggi, a un’azienda di proporre servizi alternativi in tema di istruzione, difesa, salute, per dire i principali.

Tuttavia la direzione è chiara e alcuni vecchi capisaldi, per esempio il servizio postale rispetto ad Amazon e alla posta elettronica, sono già saltati.

Se la direzione è chiara, non altrettanto è la previsione dell’assetto futuro che potrebbe prendere la situazione. È indubbio che Internet provochi la disintermediazione dello stato. Altrettanto indubbiamente, nel lunghissimo termine gli stati nazionali sono destinati a scomparire, sostituiti da forniture di servizi a livello planetario (forniture che potrebbero essere gestite da aziende come le vediamo oggi o da strutture interamente nuove). Tuttavia esistono regimi autoritari disposti a minare il funzionamento generale di Internet pur di conservare il loro potere. Anche i regimi democratici iniziano a intraprendere azioni tese a limitare e sminuire la portata dei servizi offerti dalle aziende planetarie. Che cosa succederà nel medio e lungo termine, quindi, è un’incognita sottoposta a molte variabili. Dalla persecuzione fiscale alla nazionalizzazione alla messa fuorilegge dell’azienda, le tattiche a disposizione di uno stato che voglia opporsi alle aziende planetarie sono numerose e potenti.

L’anno appena passato ha aperto comunque una finestra importante sulla concretezza della transizione, che prima della pandemia era oggetto di analisi – ho scritto diversi pezzi in proposito negli ultimi anni – ma rimaneva largamente un fenomeno teorizzato o anticipato con logica un po’ da fantascienza.

Come siano andate le cose lo sappiamo. Alle persone servivano improvvisamente strumenti per lavorare, imparare e comunicare a distanza, informazioni costanti, consegne a domicilio. Tutto questo è stato fornito dalle aziende, non dallo stato. Gli stessi vaccini sono nati per iniziativa privata e forniti su scala planetaria dalle aziende che li hanno messi a punto. Per quanto non abbiano avuto particolare successo, le app di ausilio alle strategie di tracciamento dei contagi si sono basate su un framework offerto su scala planetaria da Apple e Google, implementato su apparecchi iOS e Android.

Fuori dal campo sanitario, la ripresa dei programmi spaziali e la colonizzazione futura di Luna e perfino Marte mostrano la fine del monopolio delle aziende spaziali di stato. SpaceX e Blue Origin erano impensabili ai tempi di un programma Apollo; oggi testimoniano addirittura una concorrenza in atto.

È stata una dimostrazione plastica della validità del principio di sussidiarietà: lo stato ha ragione di esistere nei settori dove manca una iniziativa non statale che, dove sussiste, è in generale più efficiente ed efficace e, dove non lo è, viene spinta a diventarlo, pena essere rimpiazzata dall’iniziativa di una azienda planetaria.

Nessuno stato può raggiungere a livello trasversale l’efficacia e l’efficienza, nonché la salute economica, di una azienda planetaria specialista in un settore. Si può discutere all’infinito di teoria, ma questo è un fatto concreto innegabile che provoca l’evoluzione attuale e potrà essere contrastato anche pesantemente, ma mai contraddetto.

Non credo che le mie figlie vedranno la fine degli stati nazionali, ma l’inizio del loro sfaldarsi sì; queste sono le avvisaglie. Neanche i miei eventuali nipoti lo vedranno, immagino. Spero che invece i miei pronipoti cresceranno ben preparati a questa eventualità.

Problema batteria di trazione

8/4/2021: Nuovo problema alla mia Kona 64kWh. Mentre era in ricarica alla stazione Fast di Mantova Outlet la ricarica si è interrotta, si è accesa questa spia gialla e l’auto non si mette in moto né è possibile far ripartire la ricarica.

Si tratta senz’altro di un problema completamente diverso da quello che ha afflitto a più riprese la batteria dei servizi e che sembra essere stato risolto aggiornando la funziona Salvabatteria che ora entra in azione regolarmente.

L’auto viene portata all’officina autorizzata Hyundai di Mantova.

17/4/2021: auto ritirata dopo che l’officina ha applicato i seguenti aggiornamenti in garanzia:

  • 00D036 – cover per carichino
  • 00D111 – aggiornamento VCULDC
  • 00D118 – aggiornamento BMS
  • 01D102 – aggiornamento ESP

Da allora tutto funziona.

Energy and cryptocurrencies

A few days back I posted a rather casual statement about the fact that I thought Bitcoin’s energy consumption to be harmful for the environment. This attracted quite a bit of criticism from crypto fans who accused me of spreading false information, because the energetic costs of cryptocurrencies allegedly compared quite favourably with the traditional banking system with all its baggage of servers, branch offices and the like.

My crypto-critics did not do a particularly good job at articulating their points credibly, but I don’t take such accusations lightly, so over the weekend I set out to do some research on my own.

It is important to note that I do not have an opinion on the evils of cryptocurrencies, and I have lots of personal reservations over the “good deeds” performed by banks.

Finding hard, reliable data on this topic has proven to be a challenge – however the comparison between “bitcoin” and “the banking system” from an energy consumption standpoint has been attempted several times, so I will summarize these attempts here.

Banking system energy consumption

The most common approach divides the banking system into three components, branch offices, servers and ATMs; estimating the consumption of each of these and totaling them yields about 100 TWh of energy (examples of such estimates here, here and here). I was surorised at how the language seems to be exactly the same in all cases, making me wonder if I am not simply seeing one same original estimate reported several times.

Of these, 26 TWh are attributed to servers, a number that does not conflict with another independent estimate which pegs the consumption of all data centers in the world at 205 TWh (Data Centers Knowledge, feb 2020). Banks have big data centers, but so do tech giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook or Twitter just to name a few, so attributing 10% of the all data center consumption to banks seems reasonable.

The DOE moreover estimates that the datacenter energy consumption for the US alone to be 70 TWh in 2020 which again seems reasonable vs the global total of 205. (DOE – OSTI, feb 2016)

Cryptocurrencies energy consumption

This also has been the subject of many studies, coming to wildly different totals. The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index estimates 138 TWh while the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index estimates around 76 TWh, while other estimates go as low as 39 TWh; all in all, I decided to use the conservative figure of 43TWh of energy (equivalent to 5 GW of power) coming from this study which takes into account the fact that many crypto are moving from Proof-of-Work consensus to Proof-of-Stake consensus, a far less energy-hungry protocol.

Transactions

One last number we need to estimate is the number of transactions; for crypto, it stands at roughly 320k per day, while it is estimated to be about 65 million per day for the traditional banking system.

Conclusion

Based on these data, cryptocurrencies at the moment are between 79 and 280 times less energy efficient than the traditional banking system.

Therefore, I definiteky stand by my “shooting-from-the-hip” comment.

Carnival fritters

by Mirella Facchin

This recipe comes from the mom of my friend Alessandra. This is a traditional Carnival sweet (yes, we’re a wee bit early) well-known everywhere in Italy, albeit with different names depending on the region: “Chiacchiere” (=chit-chat) “Bugie” (=lies), “Cenci” (=rags), plus others which are meaningless also in Italian like “Frappe” “Crostoli” or “Galani”.

Health hypocrisy generated the monster of an oven version which in our family is tantamount to blasphemy, so I won’t spend any more time on it. Having said that, the eggs will make sure the dough absorbs very little oil, so after a minute or two of cooling, the fritters will be surprisingly dry.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

  • 100g butter
  • 2 large tablespoons of sugar
  • 500g “00” flour (finely ground flour, if you don’t know what I am talking about, read this)
  • 2 whole eggs + 2 yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons of rum
  • grated zest of 2 lemons

Melt the butter, add sugar and milk and a pinch of salt. Make a flour volcano and place this mix in its center, followed by the eggs, rum and lemon zest. Knead the dough thoroughly (at least 20 minutes, if available use a kneading machine) then let it rest 20 minutes before you roll it into layers “so thin you can see through”.

Rolling the dough is best done with a pasta machine like this one, working progressively through the rollers steps all the way to the last one (don’t cheat, though, only one step at a time !)

Cut the dough into sheets of 20×10 cm with two halfway cuts in the middle of each.

Heat peanut oil in a large frying pan to 170/180 °C and fry each sheet individually for no more than 30 seconds (see video), then put it to cool on kitchen paper.

Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar before serving, but eat carefully: they’re so thin they break easily!