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17 Jul 14:22

06-03-2016

by Laerte Coutinho

17 Jul 05:00

Comic for 2016.07.17

by Kris Wilson
15 Jul 18:30

Not Good at Sales? Here Are 5 Easy Ways to Get More More Clients.

by Han-Gwon Lung
Don't worry: You're not going to end up being like Leonardo DiCaprio's character in 'Wolf of Wall Street.'
16 Jul 17:59

Tudo o que você queria saber da Turquia e tinha medo de perguntar

by gustavochacra

Sei que a Turquia é complicada. Vou tentar fazer o possível neste post para explicar de uma forma um pouco mais simples. E peço desculpas pela demora. Mas fiquei até tarde na Globo News e, além disso, não tínhamos todas as informações. E escrevo de memória seguindo a minha teoria de que, se eu não lembro de alguma coisa que vou escrever, certamente quem ler tampouco vai lembrar.

O fim do Império Otomano

Primeiro, temos de saber um pouco da história da Turquia. Até a Primeira Guerra Mundial, existia o Império Otomano. Era um império multiétnico e multi-religioso. O comandante era o sultão, que, além de líder político, era líder religioso dos muçulmanos. Tinham muitos judeus e cristãos, especialmente em grandes cidades como Istambul, Izmir (Smyrna), Aleppo, Cairo, Beirute, Damasco, Salonica e Alexandria. A população era árabe, curda, armênia, turca, búlgara, grega e eslava.

O Império Otomano entrou em colapso depois da derrota na guerra. Seus territórios no mundo árabe foram divididos entre britânicos e franceses – hoje são Israel, Palestina, Síria, Egito (que já tinha uma certa autonomia), Líbano e Iraque. Os da Europa se tornaram independentes, em um processo que havia começado um pouco antes.

O Nascimento da Turquia

Restou o território da Anatólia e um pouco da Europa, que é a Turquia de hoje. Neste espaço, jovens militares comandados por Mustafa Kemal Ataturk decidiram criar uma nova nação. Um país republicano, laico e turco. Isto é, passaram a valorizar a etnia turca, ocidentalizaram o país, incluindo a escrita, acabaram com sultão e instituíram uma República. Eles eram muçulmanos, mas laicos. Acharam importante separar a religião do Estado, nos moldes franceses. Este processo se chamou “Revolução Kemalista”. Simbolicamente, retiraram a capital de Istambul e transferiram para Ancara, no centro da Anatólia.

Século 20 e a Turquia Ocidental

Ao longo do restante do século 20, os kemalistas dominaram a política turca. Seu partido é o CHP. Mas a grande base do movimento laico é o Exército, além das elites de Istambul, Ancara e Izmir (Smyrna). Quando houve problema, o Exército interveio e assumiu o poder, repassando para civis posteriormente.

Judeus Sefaradis, Armênios e Cristãos Ortodoxos

Talvez você se pergunte o que houve com as minorias religiosas. Os judeus seguiram vivendo em Istambul. Inclusive, são chamados de judeus sefaradis e falam ladino, que é uma língua próxima de um espanhol arcaico. Os armênios foram alvo de genocídio durante a primeira guerra. Os cristãos grego-ortodoxos do que hoje é a Turquia migraram em massa para a Grécia, embora ainda haja em Istambul uma expressiva minoria cristã e também o Patriarcado Ecumênico da Igreja Ortodoxa, às margens do Bósforo.

Importante frisar que os armênios foram perseguidos não propriamente por questões religiosas, mas étnicas. Era turco contra armênio, não muçulmano contra cristão.

Turquia equivale a México ou Argentina

A Turquia, para esclarecer, não é um país atrasado. Está em um patamar de desenvolvimento similar ao Brasil, México ou Argentina. Tem menos desigualdade social do Brasil e incomparavelmente menos violência urbana. Também tem menos pobreza.

Turquia e a OTAN

Não podemos esquecer também que a Turquia, ao longo da Guerra Fria, era um dos maiores aliados americanos e até hoje é integrante fundamental da OTAN, como é conhecida a aliança militar ocidental.

Erdogan e AKP e no poder

Mas vamos chegar logo a Recep Tayyp Erdogan. Ele fundou um partido chamado AKP. E o AKP tem um viés religioso. Não se trata de um extremismo religioso, como a Arábia Saudita. Erdogan não é wahabbita. É apenas uma pessoa religiosa em um país laico. Os kemalistas são muçulmanos que comem tranquilamente bacon e tomam cerveja durante o Ramadã. Erdogan e os membros do AKP jejuam.

E o AKP conseguiu vencer as eleições graças ao apoio de uma base mais religiosa no interior da Turquia somado ao, na época, elogiado desempenho de Erdogan como prefeito de Istambul. Houve, na época, uma certa cautela dos kemalistas. Odeio comparações porque podem ser mal interpretadas, mas foi similar ao momento que Lula e o PT chegaram ao poder no Brasil – aliás, foi o mesmo momento – 2002.

Política Externa de Erdogan

Erdogan assumiu como premiê (a Turquia é parlamentarista) e seu aliado Abdullah Gul como presidente. Ele superou o ceticismo ao fazer reformas importantes na economia, que geraram crescimento. Aliás, diferentemente do PT e de Lula, Erdogan nunca foi de esquerda em economia. Ele tem posições conservadoras não apenas em economia como em temas sociais. Em política externa, seu então chanceler Davutoglu buscou estabelecer boas relações com todos os seus vizinhos. Erdogan era amigo de Assad. Lembro de ir a Damasco e ver outdoor com a imagem do líder turco. Juro. Também era amigo de Israel, de Bush nos EUA, de todos. Inclusive, deixou a Turquia mais próxima da União Europeia com a estabilização da economia.

No fim de 2008, Erdogan mediava a paz entre Israel e a Síria. Só faltava assinar. Ele, Assad e Ehud Olmert, então premiê de Israel, poderiam receber o Nobel da Paz. O mundo, ou pelo menos o Oriente Médio, seria mais pacífico hoje. Em tempo, quem me disse que eles assinariam a paz foi o próprio Assad quando o entrevistei em Damasco.

Mas, na época, Israel entrou em guerra contra o Hamas na Faixa de Gaza. E os israelenses, obviamente, coordenaram com o Egito de Hosni Mubarak, que tem fronteira com Gaza. Mas não com Erdogan, que não tinha nada a ver com a história. Ainda assim, Erdogan ficou irritado. Em Genebra, brigou com o presidente de Israel, Shimon Peres.

Os curdos

Aos poucos, a partir de 2009, a Turquia, portanto, começou a mudar sua política externa. Internamente, porém, Erdogan buscava uma aproximação com os curdos. E aqui cabe uma explicação. Os curdos são uma etnia que também segue o islamismo sunita, como os turcos. Mas a religião não interessa. Interessa a etnia.

Os curdos nunca tiveram um país e se tornaram minoria na Turquia, Irã, Iraque e Síria. No caso turco, os kemalistas tinham esta política de o país ser uma república étnica turca. Os curdos não se encaixavam e não tinham direitos, incluindo o de estudar as línguas. Surgiram então movimentos separatistas curdos, como o PKK, que começaram a realizar atentados terroristas a partir do fim dos anos 1970 e começo dos 1980. Foram dezenas de milhares de mortos contra as forças turcas.

Primavera Árabe

Mas voltemos à política externa. A Turquia, que não é árabe, apostou na Primavera Árabe a partir de 2011. E apostou também que as nações árabes se tornariam democracias como a Turquia. Não apenas democracias. Democracias com participação do Islã político. No início, deu certo. A Irmandade Muçulmana assumiu o poder no Egito em eleições democráticas.

Na Síria, Erdogan fez a sua maior aposta. Abandonou seu ex-amigo Assad e passou a apoiar rebeldes da oposição. Mais do que isso. Começou a permitir que jihadistas de todo o mundo entrassem na Síria para lutar contra Assad. O regime de Assad, não podemos esquecer, é laico, mas conta com o apoio das minorias muçulmanas alauíta, cristã e drusa, além de sunitas não religiosos similares aos kemalistas. Erdogan queria uma democracia controlada por sunitas.

Para complicar, Assad concedeu uma certa autonomia aos curdos na fronteira com a Turquia. Estes curdos, que lutavam contra os jihadistas, mas não contra Assad, eram aliados dos curdos na Turquia, do PKK.

 Política Doméstica de Erdogan

Internamente na Turquia, Erdogan passou a ter planos de se tornar presidente. Não apenas presidente. Mas presidente em um regime presidencialista, retirando poderes do premiê. Em 2014, ele atingiu seu objetivo se eleger presidente. Era fácil. Mas não obteve a super maioria para seu partido, o AKP, conseguir mudar a Constituição. Na prática, no entanto, Erdogan se tornou o grande líder da Turquia. O premiê passou a ser seu aliado de sempre, Davutoglu.

A oposição se divide entre os kemalistas, os nacionalistas e os curdos não ligados ao PKK. Dividida, não consegue evitar a consolidação no poder de Erdogan. O líder turco, porém, sempre paranoia com um outro grupo – os gulenistas.

Os gulenistas integram um movimento mais religioso que segue um líder atualmente exilado nos EUA. Eles são extremamente educados (no sentido de educação formal, acadêmica). Há membros em todos os setores da sociedade turca – militares, juízes, médicos, jornalistas, acadêmicos. Não há paralelo no mundo.

Erdogan sabe da influência dos gulenistas, que foram seus aliados no passado. E tem uma paranoia atualmente em relação a eles. Tanto que os acusa, em parte, pela tentativa de golpe.

 Paranoia de Erdogan

Nos últimos tempos, a paranoia de Erdogan se agravou. Manda prender jornalistas que o criticam. Afasta juízes e generais. Censura a imprensa. O tempo todo acha que alguém trama contra ele.  Externamente, Erdogan vinha agindo da mesma forma, ao entrar em atrito com a Rússia na Síria e seguir brigando com Israel e Assad – curiosamente, apesar de estar em lado antagônico na Guerra da Síria, Erdogan sempre manteve uma boa relação com o Irã, que, além de tudo, é xiita. Isso se deve ao comércio bilateral. Erdogan também se dá bem com os curdos do Iraque por causa do comércio.

ISIS (Estado Islâmico ou Daesh)

Dentro deste cenário, no ano passado, a Turquia começou a alterar sua política em relação aos jihadistas. O ISIS, também conhecido como Grupo Estado Islâmico ou Daesh, começou a realizar atentados terroristas. O país passou a integrar a coalizão liderada pelos EUA para combater a organização. Ao mesmo tempo, Erdogan também passou a bombardear os curdos da Síria que lutavam contra o ISIS.

O resultado foi o início de atentados terroristas na Turquia tanto do PKK como do ISIS, sendo o mais recente no aeroporto. Sua popularidade não foi tão atingida, com o AKP vencendo eleições. A base dele é forte e foi beneficiada pelo bom desempenho econômico, surgindo uma nova classe média.

Mudança de postura

Apesar disso, crescia a insatisfação em determinados setores das Forças Armadas e também da elite em Istambul. No exterior, a insatisfação de Erdogan era crescente. O líder turco soube ler especialmente o cenário externo (e em parte porque viu que até seu aliado Davutoglu o criticava e deixou o governo). Fez um acordo com a União Europeia para reduzir o número de refugiados e imigrantes cruzando da Turquia para a Grécia de barco. Também voltou a se aproximar da Rússia e de Israel. Alguns diziam até que Erdogan passaria a tolerar Assad para haver uma união maior contra o ISIS.

O Golpe

Mas certamente isso não foi suficiente para uma parcela das Forças Armadas. Na noite desta sexta-feira, levaram adiante um golpe militar. Incialmente, obtiveram sucesso. Erdogan, de férias no Mar de Marmara, convocou a população para ir as ruas contra os golpistas. O cenário, naquele momento, começou a se reverter.

Erdogan também teve o apoio externo imediato, com os EUA denunciando o golpe. Dentro da Turquia, os três principais partidos de oposição também disseram ser contra o golpe. Na Globo News, até comparei estes partidos ao PSDB e o DEM condenando o impeachment contra Dilma, mas esta comparação é descabida e peço perdão. Não deveria ter misturado as duas coisas ao vivo e sem contexto (se bem que pouca gente ligou). Mas, enfim, a condenação dos kemalistas, nacionalistas e curdos pesou muito. E, para completar, os gulenistas também condenaram

Neste momento, em uma situação fluída, parece que Erdogan saiu vencedor. Ou, pelo menos, não foi derrotado. Os golpistas parecem ter fracassado. Erdogan acusa os gulenistas, que negam. Outros falam em auto-golpe. Nada é impossível na Turquia de Erdogan, assim como na Rússia de Putin. Acho possível que organizasse um auto-golpe para se fortalecer. Mas creio que seria diferente do que vimos e não haveria centenas de mortos. Talvez, se tiver fugido do controle. Ainda assim, acho improvável.

O certo, apenas, é que uma parcela considerável do médio e baixo escalão das Forças Armadas da Turquia tentou derrubar Erdogan. E aparentemente fracassou. A Turquia, no entanto, independentemente do resultado final, será outra. Creio que pior. Sempre lembro da Venezuela depois do golpe que tentaram dar contra Chávez. O chavismo se radicalizou e ficou bem mais paranoico a partir daquele momento. O mesmo pode ocorrer com Erdogan. Mas estes temas ficam para outros posts e para os meus comentários na Globo News.

Guga Chacra, blogueiro de política internacional do Estadão e comentarista do programa Globo News Em Pauta em Nova York, é mestre em Relações Internacionais pela Universidade Columbia. Já foi correspondente do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo no Oriente Médio e em NY. No passado, trabalhou como correspondente da Folha em Buenos Aires

Comentários na minha página no Facebook. Peço que evitem comentários islamofóbicos, antissemitas, anticristãos e antiárabes ou que coloquem um povo ou uma religião como superiores. Também evitem ataques entre leitores ou contra o blogueiro.  Não postem vídeos ou textos de terceiros. Todos os posts devem ter relação com algum dos temas acima. O blog está aberto a discussões educadas e com pontos de vista diferentes. Os comentários dos leitores não refletem a minha opinião e não tenho condições de monitorar todos os comentários

Acompanhe também meus comentários no Globo News Em Pauta, no Twitter @gugachacra , no Facebook Guga Chacra (me adicionem como seguidor) e no Instagram

16 Jul 21:43

03-03-2016

by Laerte Coutinho

15 Jul 10:08

Brexit, Briefly

by CGP Grey

Britain is leaving the European Union... or maybe not? Let's place some odds on what might or might not happen with Brexit.

Discuss this video: https://www.reddit.com/r/CGPGrey/comments/4sygwf/brexit_briefly/

Sponsor: http://squarespace.com/grey
15 Jul 13:33

Mrs. Mailman

by delfrig

Mailman

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15 Jul 14:58

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Social Security

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Hovertext:
Hey wait, let's use their bodies as batteries for a giant computer. Ha! Just kidding, that's literally the worst way to do that.

New comic!
Today's News:

Hey, I did an 8 page science fiction story for Drive!

12 Jul 04:11

3/4

by Scott Alexander

Related: 1/4, 2/4

[Content warning: psychiatry, suicide. Note that all stories involving patients are mixtures of several different people which have been obfuscated and changed around in order to protect confidentiality. The ethical standard I have heard in this situation is “must be so well disguised that the patient would not recognize himself if he read it” and I have tried to meet that standard – which means that these capture the spirit of situations only. The same is true of some of the other stories here, just in case. Please do not link.]

I.

I’m back at Our Lady Of An Undisclosed Location hospital now as a final-year resident. You wouldn’t think a year would make so much difference, but it does.

Identifying residents by their year is easy. The first-years walk around, deer-in-the-headlights look to them, impossible to confuse with anybody except maybe a patient having a panic attack. The middle-year residents are a little more confident. And then the final year residents, leading teams, putting out fires, taking attendings’ abuse in stride.

(True story – last week an attending yelled at me for not knowing some minor detail about uraemic encephalopathy. Later I couldn’t find the detail he’d mentioned, so I asked for a reference, and he said it had been discovered by one of his friends at the big university hospital where he used to work, but the friend had died before he could publish his findings. I think the attending realized as he was talking that it might have been unreasonable to expect me to know a fact whose discoverer took it to the grave with him, but he didn’t apologize.)

It’s only sort of a facade. 99% of things that happen in a hospital are the same things that happened yesterday and the day before, so if you hang around long enough you can learn what to do, or at least which consultant you can call to make it not your problem anymore. On the other hand, Actual Pathology is still a gigantic mystery. I’m not sure this ever changes. One in every X patients with symptoms won’t have any of the things that could possibly be causing those symptoms, won’t respond to any of the treatments that are supposed to cure those symptoms, and you’ll still have family members and hospital administrators demanding that you fix it right now (and in psychiatry, X is probably a single digit number). All you can do is keep up the facade, put your skill at taking attendings’ abuse in stride to good use, and start learning necromancy so you can summon the one big university hospital researcher who studied it but never got a chance to publish their findings.

II.

Two of the most important things I learned during my third year were “Tell me more” and “[awkward silence]”.

“Tell me more,” works for every situation. Part of the problem with psychotherapy is that you’re always expected to have something to say. As a last resort, that thing is “Tell me more”. It sounds like you’re interested. It sounds like you care. And if you’re very lucky, maybe the patient will actually tell you something more, as opposed to their usual plan to stonewall you and hide all possibly useful information.

I saw something on Tumblr the other day which, despite being about a 9-1-1 operator, perfectly sums up being a doctor too:

my bf has many interesting stories and observations from his new job as a 911 operator

my favorite is how meandering people are, even in the midst of a terrible emergency

they respond to “what is the emergency” with “well, the thing is, four weeks ago–”

and then he’s like “WHAT IS THE EMERGENCY RIGHT NOW”

and they’re like “so what happened this morning was, i said to my wife, i said–”

“WHAT IS CURRENTLY HAPPENING AT THIS MOMENT”

“oh i’m having a heart attack”

And:

my second favorite is how specific he has to get sometimes

like, “what is your emergency?”

“i’m sitting in a pool of blood.”

“… is it… your blood?”

“yes i think so”

“do you know where it’s coming from?”

“probably the stab wound”

“have you been stabbed?”

“oh yah definitely”

Psychiatry is like this, except it’s all very vague, and your patients are really suggestable, and people are always afraid that if you just ask specific questions like “Are you depressed?” then they’ll say yes to make you happy and won’t talk about how the real problem is their anxiety or something. So instead, the patient says something like “I’m sitting in a pool of blood”, and I say “Tell me more…”. They say “Well, it’s my blood.” I say “Tell me more…”. After repeating this process a couple of times, we finally get to the stabbing, and the patient doesn’t feel like I railroaded over their chance to tell their story.

Or it helps you figure out what’s important to the patient. If someone said “I hate my husband so much,” my natural instinct might be to ask “Why?”. But maybe why isn’t the question the patient cares about. Maybe what she really wants to talk about is how guilty she feels about hating their husband, and if I asked her why then we’d get on a tangent about what the husband is doing that never addresses her real problem. Maybe she’s agonizing every moment about whether or not to divorce him, and losing sleep over it, and coming to me for a sleeping pill. Maybe she’s just hatched a plan to kill him and wants to check it over with me to see if I can find any flaws. In any case I should probably figure out why they hate him eventually, but if their real issue is whether or not I approve of their murder plot then we should probably get to that first.

So instead, it’s “I hate my husband so much.” “Tell me more.”

“I’m feeling depressed.” “Tell me more.”

“Sometimes I think life isn’t worth living.” “Tell me more.”

“Listen, if you don’t give me a prescription for Adderall right now I swear to God that I will stab you right here in this office!” “Tell me more.”

This has seeped into my personal life. I was on a date with a girl earlier this year, and whenever she started telling me about her life I would just say “Tell me more”, and it worked.

And then there’s [awkward silence]. I learned this one from the psychoanalysts. Nobody likes an awkward silence. If a patient tells you something, and you are awkwardly silent, then the patient will rush to fill the awkward silence with whatever they can think of, which will probably be whatever they were holding back the first time they started talking. You won’t believe how well this one works until you try it. Just stay silent long enough, and the other person will tell you everything. It’s better than waterboarding.

The only problem is when two psychiatrists meet. One of my attendings tried to [awkward silence] me at the same time I was trying to [awkward silence] him, and we ended up just staring at each other for five minutes until finally I broke down laughing.

“I see you find something funny,” he said. “Tell me more.”

III.

If the patients are cryptic, the doctors are even worse. In a worst case scenario, I’ll be filling in for another doctor – this happens all the time at free clinics, but it happens at least a little wherever there are doctors who go on vacation. The documentation will be obscure or missing. The patient’s family is out of contact range. My only information will be the patient in front of me, whose information-transmitting ability is on par with that person from the Tumblr post who took four tries to mention that they’d been stabbed.

So imagine this – a guy from out of state moves in, comes to me without any documentation, and says in a monotone that his only problem is feeling “weird”. All my “tell me mores” and [awkward silences] fail to get him to explain further. I look at his medication list, and he is on a cocktail of supramaximal doses of really old-school antipsychotics that I could not imagine giving anybody unless they were an axe murderer who had killed their last three psychiatrists and I wanted to cool their metaphorical brain temperature to the level of winter on Pluto. Sure enough, the guy is stiff, displays no emotions, and his only hobby is staring at the wall – all exactly what you would expect of somebody who is super-drugged on all of the strongest chemicals known to mankind. I ask him if maybe he’s schizophrenic, or bipolar, or something. He says no, he just feels “weird”.

I know that if I don’t change the medication, he will probably be a zombie like this until such time as somebody else does change it, which may be never. But if I do change the medication…well, there must be some reason somebody put him on that, and the idea of somebody who needed that much medication not being on it is too horrible to imagine. Also, I’m only seeing him once, and then he gets transferred to someone else. What do I do?

The maxim is “do what lets you sleep at night”, so I punted. I kept him on his medications and turned him over to the next guy. I just hope the next guy gets my documentation instead of thinking “Dr. Alexander kept him on all this medication…I wonder what he knows that I don’t.”

IV.

“Instead of putting patients on these toxic medications, why don’t you just give them therapy?”

Sometimes I worry I might be the worst person in the world to do psychotherapy. My coping strategy is to not talk about or react to my emotions and wait for them to go away. This usually works. I know this is exactly the opposite of what psychotherapy is supposed to teach, and all I can say is that it works for me and I seem to be pretty psychologically healthy and maybe I am just a mutant.

My relationship strategy is the same. Date really low-conflict, low-drama, agreeable people. If we have a conflict anyway, then agree to disagree and wait for the problem to go away. Apparently this is terrible, and maybe this is why my only really serious relationship only lasted a year or two, but it leaves me with something of an understanding deficit for the people who want to replay every single argument they’ve ever had with their spouse and figure out exactly what it means about their mental state.

Heck, even polyamory is like this. I can’t tell you how many patients I’ve had come in because their partner is cheating on them, or they worry their partner is cheating on them, or they’re cheating on their partner, or their partner worries they’re cheating on them, or something, and my natural instinct is to just say “Have you considered not worrying about it?” and as usual my natural instinct is terrible. So instead I just say “Tell me more…” and listen to them describe how the possibility of their girlfriend cheating is rending their heart in two.

This is even worse in any form of therapy based around investigating childhood traumas. Look, I’m sorry you didn’t like your mother, but have you read The Nurture Assumption? But of course I can’t say that. I just have to play along. And then somebody expects me to come up with something to heal the maternal trauma that I’m not even sure people really have, and then if I do come up with something it feels like a clever fake.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a little better, because it tends to be pretty common sense techniques that any reasonable person would agree with. The problem is, it’s pretty common sense techniques that any reasonable person would agree with. I think that I and most of my friends would respond to the average CBT session with a sort of anger at being condescended at, combined with annoyance at the therapist for wasting our time with obvious things. “My job sucks”. “Well, have you considered making a list of good and bad things about your job?” “Yes, that was the process by which I determined it sucks. How much am I paying you again?”

Most of the time I do therapy, I feel cringeworthy, unnatural. I feel like a fraud, even when (according to the supervisors watching me) I’m doing it exactly right. I feel like I’m responding to people in fake, silly ways, like they’re coming to me with problems from the depth of their being and I’m giving them facile non-answers. It doesn’t even help that most of them get better anyway. In a way, that just makes it worse. How dare you get better after me telling you stupid things I feel embarrassed to say? That’s just going to encourage people to make me keep doing that!

V.

I nevertheless hold a special place of annoyance in my heart for psychoanalysis/psychodynamic therapy.

The attending who trains me in psychodynamic therapy is an elderly doctor in a very ritzy office by the water full of creepy modern art statues. He is convinced that patients’ lives revolve around their therapy and their therapists. I know that in moderation this is the idea of “transference”, a genuine and important tenet of the therapy style. My attending does not do it in moderation.

My patient will say something like “My best friend moved away and now I am sad”, I will think “That sounds straightforward, better bring it up to my attending and see how he wants me to deal with this.” My attending will invariably say “What your patient means is that he’s afraid of losing you, his therapist.”

I will say “No, I’m pretty sure he actually lost his best friend. He told me all about how they’d been together since middle school, but now he moved away to take a job in Texas, and then he broke down crying.”

Then my attending will get really angry and tell me that if I’m just going to take everything my patient tells me exactly literally, then I shouldn’t be in psychiatry, because a monkey could listen to a patient say he was sad about losing his best friend and conclude he was sad about losing his best friend, and my duty as a trained professional is to be able to see beneath that to the true thought which my patient is trying to express. Which is always, 100% of the time, about how much the patient cares about psychodynamic therapy and wants to continue doing it.

Even worse, he wants me to do this to the patient. When the patient says “I’m really upset about losing my best friend”, I’m supposed to answer “Are you sure this isn’t about how you’re worried I’m sort of like a friend to you and one day you’ll lose me?” If talking about relationships and cognitive therapy makes me cringe, this super quadruple makes me cringe.

Still, I have to do it, because my attending grades me and if I don’t pass psychodynamic therapy I don’t get to graduate. So I do it, and then my attending declares he was right all along based on extremely strained interpretations of whatever happens next. Like, if the patient misses their next appointment, he’ll say “I see your patient missed their next appointment. That means they’re having a defensive reaction to the fact that you called them out on their being afraid of you leaving them. And to think that you told me you weren’t sure that was true! This just shows how much you still have to learn about psychodynamics. I certainly hope that after this you won’t keep questioning me every time I try to help you.”

It occurred to me leaving his ritzy office that pretty much every philosophical idea I have – rationalism, belief in science, libertarianism, atheism, anti-SJ – originate in this feeling of revulsion at other people ordering me to believe things that I think are wrong and me not being allowed to argue with them. But I held my tongue. I told my patient what he told me to tell him, and I accepted my attending’s increasingly bizarre declarations that he had linked all of my patients’ future actions to the success of his proposed interventions.

But when I leave for good, I’m getting him a present, and it’s going to be a copy of The Nurture Assumption. Heck, maybe I’ll give that to all the psychoanalysts I know.

VI.

It’s kind of morbid to feel smug about your patients not attempting suicide, but I guess I am a kind of morbid person.

The doctor down the hall from me had one of his patients attempt suicide in October. Then another doctor I knew had two of his patients attempt suicide in the same week in January. And I was really sympathetic and tried to comfort them, but I also had a part of my mind thinking “Hey, I haven’t had any of my patients attempt suicide yet, this is pretty good.”

March. April. May. My coworkers told me their stories, but I kept my secret morbid goal – I was going to go the entire year without any of my patients trying to kill themselves. I mean, on one hand this sounds like a pretty minimal standard. On the other, when you’re taking care of like a hundred mentally ill people, many of whom have really bad depression and a history of past suicide attempts, it’s not exactly trivial.

I got the call just a few weeks ago. The patient was a former heroin addict who had been clean for a long time. He slipped, took heroin, felt terrible, and stabbed himself in the heart.

Luckily the heart is a little to the right of where most people think it is. Stabbing yourself in the lung isn’t great either, but he was a young healthy man and he could take it. He went to the hospital, they patched it up a little, and he was fine. He said it was the best thing that had ever happened to him and now he knew how low he could get and he was going to stay clean forever and today was the first day of the rest of his life.

A lot of things in psychiatry are reverse lotteries. In the regular lottery, you pay a constant small cost for the possibility of a stupendous benefit. In the reverse lottery, you get a constant small benefit at the risk of a stupendous cost. Lots of things are like this. If you give someone a powerful medication, then they’ll definitely recover, but there’s a risk you’ll have a catastrophic side effect. If you let a severely ill patient leave your office when they promise they’re okay, then you definitely save them the trauma of an involuntary hospitalization, but there’s a risk they’ll do something disastrous. If you don’t check someone’s vitals every time you see them then it definitely makes the appointment quicker and smoother, but there’s a risk you’ll miss something really bad.

It’s really easy to fall into playing reverse lotteries. I think almost everybody does it to a degree. The usual pattern is to play some of them tentatively, do more and more of them as you reap the benefits and nothing goes wrong, then boom, close call, and you resolve never to do anything like that again and you’re going to do a full half-hour neurological examination on everybody who comes into your office including random passers-by who just want to use the bathroom.

After my patient stabbed himself I spent a week totally neurotic, looking over every aspect of his case – could I have checked up on his Narcotics Anonymous meeting attendance more frequently? Maybe if I’d given him a long lecture every appointment about how heroin was definitely still bad, that would have changed something? Maybe if I hadn’t forgotten to check his blood pressure that one time…? In the end, I decided I had done a pretty okay job on that case – which just made me more acutely aware of all of the reverse lotteries I was playing on everybody else. Now I’m a little bit paranoid. Maybe that’s temporary. Maybe it’s permanent. I don’t know. The DSM-V says you have to have it six months before you can give yourself a schizophrenia diagnosis, so there’s that.

I am getting good at dealing with annoying attendings, meandering patients, unreasonable requests, and silly bureaucracy. Actual Pathology remains scary, mysterious, and really hard to predict. Hopefully that’s what fourth year is for.

14 Jul 12:49

Make Mars great again

by PIDJIN.NET


Don't miss our next comic:

The post Make Mars great again appeared first on Fredo and Pidjin. The Webcomic..

14 Jul 15:45

Why Do We Haggle For Cars?

Why Do We Haggle For Cars?

Even if you’ve never purchased a car, you know the script. You stroll onto the car lot feigning indifference. The salesman sizes you up and asks what you’re looking for. You point to a red sedan. And then the dance begins.   

While most of our day-to-day transactions revolve around fixed, unambiguous prices, purchasing a car remains a glaring (and for some of us, excruciating) exception. Low-balling and brinkmanship are not skills that the typical American cultivates for daily use, and yet we are all expected to employ them when we make one of our largest lifetime purchases. Haggling over the price of a car is as American as apple pie—except most people actually like apple pie.

Irritating though it may be, the process of buying a car is also a genuine economic curiosity. Hard bargaining has gone the way of the abacus in most economic spheres. To the extent that we find ourselves bargaining in other settings—after calling to cancel our cable subscription, when requesting add-ons at a hotel, or when purchasing a house—the back-and-forth is usually indirect, either passed through an intermediary or expressed under the guise of “special rates” and discounts.  

But the process of haggling for a car sticks around like a vestigial tail. What makes the car sale unique? And why, in the age of consumer protection regulations and online retail, won’t this economic anachronism go away? 

The answer begins with the predecessor to the car — the horse.

From Horses to Horsepower

There is an undeniable cultural component to the way that we transact with one another. Anyone who has spent much time outside North America or Western Europe is likely familiar with the process of shopping untethered from the world of posted prices. For those who are unaccustomed to hard bargaining, haggling can not only feel foreign, but like a violation of well established social norms. 

As the anthropologist Gretchen Herrmann wrote of American consumer culture in 2003, “there is a circumscribed range of culturally tolerated bargaining behavior and those who transgress these boundaries may be viewed as aggressive, self-serving, and even greedy.” We do not like to think of ourselves in a zero-sum contest with our friendly neighborhood grocer.

Clearly, car culture is unique. The auto retail industry is largely isolated from other commercial enterprises and so its strange folkways are shaped by its own peculiar history. In other words, the horse-trading mentality defines that car market because the horse-trading mentality has always defined it. In fact, according to historian Steven M. Gelber, horse-trading (that is, the literal trading of horses) may be a direct antecedent to auto dealing.

It all starts with the concept of the “trade-in,” he explains in his book, Horse Trading in the Age of Cars: Men in the Marketplace. "The process of swapping an old ride for a new one and making up the difference in their values with a cash payment was an established practice in horse trading,” he writes. “Car buyers demanded that car sellers continue that tradition by accepting their old vehicles as partial payment for new ones.” 

Even if those new cars came affixed with price tags, the trade-in introduced unavoidable uncertainty into the transaction. As the adage suggests, the horse-traders of old would inspect the teeth of prospect horses in order to estimate its value. Likewise, the 20th century’s car dealer kicks the proverbial tires. Absent real certainty over the value of the total transaction, the price was suddenly up for debate. 

The explosion of the international automobile market in the second half of the 20th century saw the practice exported to countries across the globe. Nowadays, customers the world over get to experience the distinct joys of haggling for a good deal on a car.  

No Time to Haggle

Economists have a term for the “it is because it was” argument advanced by Gelber: path dependence. A century ago, a horse-dealer made the transition into the burgeoning car industry and brought with him the art of the haggle. The industry has been in that economic and cultural groove ever since.

Even car customers’ expectations play a role in maintaining this status quo, says Preyas Desai, a professor of business administration at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. “This institution has existed for such a long time that customers expect to haggle when they go to a car dealership, even though they might hate it,” he says. “If I go to a dealership and I don’t haggle, then I feel like I’m not doing my job.” Even worse, you might feel like you’re getting screwed.

Still, though cultural practices often outlast their practical usefulness, it’s hard to imagine such a time-consuming and unpopular practice surviving in the dog-eat-dog car retail industry without any apparent economic justification.

It certainly hasn’t survived in most other spheres.

Fixed prices may seem like a permanent fixture of commercial life, but, as a 2015 episode of NPR’s Planet Money explained, the price tag is a relatively new phenomenon. As the consumer economy began to expand at the turn of the 20th century, the costs of bargaining started to add up for businesses. Tracking inventory, paying sales taxes, and ensuring that each of your clerks is a skilled negotiator are significant burdens in a price-negotiable world.

Haggling is just too time consuming for most sectors of the modern economy. If you think it takes a long time to get in and out of Costco on a Sunday afternoon, just imagine if the price of each of your jumbo packs of toilet paper was suddenly up for debate.

Every Car Sale a Special Snowflake

But cars are not like rolls of toilet paper.

For one, a car is a big-ticket item. While it might not be worth the hassle to argue over the price of lettuce, on the auto lot, thousands of dollars in savings separate the good hagglers from the bad. “It looks kind of awkward to negotiate over the little things, but also from the seller's perspective, there’s a transaction cost,” says Desai. For seller and buyer alike, “that cost is justifiable if the price is high.”

Cars are also unexpectedly idiosyncratic products. First, there are the obvious differences between each make and model. Trade-in agreements complicate things further. Finally, there are trim and design features, add-ons, warranties, post-sale services, and finance options to consider. Add it all together and you have yourself a bespoke product. 

Plus, there’s always that TruCoat. 

Car customers come in different makes and models too. Budget, priorities, safety concerns, family size, and access to public transportation are only some of the factors that make each would-be buyer a distinct business prospect from the perspective of a dealer. While few people would debate the acceptable price range of a cup of coffee, a bright red Camaro with a spoiler and a coffee-can muffler is an acquired taste. Willingness to pay will vary accordingly.

Price uncertainty is exacerbated by changes in cyclical buying patterns (April through September is peak car season), along with relatively minute variations in local supply. In any given region, the number of people actively looking to purchase a car is relatively small. In such a market, a single dealer’s decision over whether or not to purchase another yellow Honda Fit can have a dramatic effect on the local price across the region. Given all of this variation, a flexible pricing system (that is, haggling) gives the dealer much more flexibility. 

In 1958, Congress passed the Automobile Information Disclosure Act, which required all car dealers to place a sticker featuring the manufacturer’s suggested retail price in the window of each car. It was an attempt by the federal government to instill a semblance of predictability and fairness in the auto market, but it hardly put an end to haggling. Nowadays, conventional wisdom holds that only suckers pay the list price in the window. Instead, discerning customers use it as the ceiling and a jumping off point in a lengthy negotiation.

The Unexpected Savings of Haggling

In 2004, Duke’s Preyas Desai and his Fuqua school colleague Devavrat Purohit wrote an article in which they modeled how consumers and producers might interact in a competitive market made up of haggle-friendly and fixed-price firms. Their findings, explains Desai, were counter-intuitive: “When there are a lot of consumers in the marketplace that don’t like haggling, then we are actually more likely to see haggling.”

In other words, haggling may exist not despite consumer dissatisfaction with the practice, but because of it.

The logic goes like this: if a market is composed largely of shrewd buyers who enjoy the practice of one-on-one price discovery, it stands to reason that they will enjoy haggling largely because they are good at it. If that is the case, firms will face little incentive to offer negotiable prices, since the majority of their customers will take them to the cleaners. “On the other hand,” says Desai, “let’s say 80% of the market is made up of people who are not good hagglers and 20% are people who are good hagglers—then the seller only has to give discounts to 20% and [can] charge a relatively high price to everyone else.” In a world in which most customers loathe haggling, the suckers subsidize the savvy.    

But even if the process allows car dealers to truly bilk the occasional customer, there is also reason to believe that haggling actually allows car dealers to offer lower prices on average.

Consider your average car lot, explains Henry Schneider at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University. Space is limited, so each car occupies real estate that could otherwise be used to sell another vehicle. In the meantime, the dealer has likely purchased the car on credit, and those interest costs are mounting. The car itself, which was a brand new model a few months ago, is rapidly becoming less new and thus, less valuable. 

“The manufacturer may send the dealer a second red Nissan Sentra, which the dealer would want to move quickly because there is a cost of carrying inventory,” says Schneider. “So the price the dealer is targeting for a particular car may vary daily or weekly. Bargaining may be an easier price-setting mechanism than changing a posted price every day or week.” Plus, if a customer walks in offering to pay a hair below the list price, the dealer may actually come out ahead by cutting a deal and saving on the inventory cost. In theory, says Schneider, these inventory cost savings could allow haggle-friendly dealers to offer lower average prices than fixed-price competitors.

Photo credit: Tino Rossini

This appears to have happened in Canada in the early 2000s. Toyota, responding to corporate focus group findings that less than one in five Canadians enjoyed haggling over car prices, rolled out its “Access Toyota” initiative, a national fixed price program. According to a 2008 study of the program conducted by economists at the City University of Hong Kong and the University of British Columbia, the prices of vehicles sold under the haggle-free program were 2% higher on average than comparable vehicles that were sold via old fashioned price negotiation. 

While Access Toyota’s higher prices might reflect the costs of slower inventory turnover, the authors of the study offer another somewhat simpler explanation: customers who don’t like haggling are willing to pay a little bit more not to do it. 

A Haggle-Free Future?

Toyota Canada is not the first company to dispense with negotiable car prices. The defunct car company, Saturn, was the first major brand to boast “no haggle” prices in the early 1990s, a move which helped trigger a trend of independent dealers employing similar strategies. According the historian Steven Gelber, Saturn’s new approach was particularly popular with women and customers of color, who often distrusted the Glengarry Glen Ross-style of traditional car salesmen. 

Around the same time, CarMax opened its first lot in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. A Circuit City spin-off, the car retail company, which primarily focuses on the used market, has outlived its parent corporation partly due to the success of its no haggle policy. And yet, two decades after both Saturn and CarMax helped to popularize the practice, no haggle remains the exception to the rule. Saturn has gone out of business (though there isn’t any evidence that this was the result of its pricing policy). And while CarMax is now the largest car retail company in the country, they control less than 2% of the used auto market. Haggling for a car still remains the norm.

The Internet may ultimately pose the largest threat yet to the unchecked reign of haggledom. Customers not only have access to a wider array of price comparison options online, new online services such as Beepi explicitly advertise their negotiation-free buying model. 

The advent of online car shopping may be especially good news for shoppers who are typically disadvantaged by the negotiable price model. A 2002 study conducted by economists at Yale, UC Berkeley, and UCLA found that black and hispanic customers typically paid a “minority premium” at the car lot, even when controlling for differences in income, education, and willingness to shop around. When the researchers turned to data from online car shopping, they found that the price gap had almost entirely disappeared.  

And then there’s Tesla. The electric car company has ruffled many an industry feather both by selling cars directly to customers online and by adhering to a fixed price system. In fact, these two novelties are related. A customer who wants to purchase a Model S does not have the option to shop around and play dealers off one another. Each Tesla comes directly from Tesla, and so the price is of the take-it-or-leave-it variety. 

Even so, Tesla may be a special case, says Queen’s University’s Henry Schneider. Given the popularity of Elon Musk’s electric car, the company has faced capacity constraints and lengthy customer backorders. In this situation, says Schneider, “price discrimination may be less necessary, because Tesla is already selling all the cars it can make. In this scenario, Tesla might become interested in haggling once it can expand its production.”

Then again, it’s also possible that the company’s pricing model serves an important marketing function. For some, haggling evokes the image of sleazy car salesmen in a cheap suit. “Perhaps the distaste of haggling is inconsistent with the Tesla, high-end brand,” says Schneider. 

If, as a result of Tesla’s success, consumers associate the fixed pricing model with car quality, this could have a significant impact on the industry. Consumer expectations, says Preyas Desai from Duke University, are all important.

Desai speaks from experience. A few years ago, he decided to buy a Lexus. The process was short and sweet: he went online, found a price reference, called up a dealer and made an offer. Sure, with a little more time and cunning, the professor could have lowballed the salesperson and gotten himself a sweeter deal. But he says he opted for the simpler approach.

“I do research in haggling and I know a lot about the auto market and all of that,” he says. “But I just did not want to engage in all of that nonsense.” 

Our next article explores the 100-year history of celebrity pets—and how cuddly pugs become cash machines. To get notified when we post it    join our email list.

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14 Jul 00:00

How Privy Gets Users By Building Integrations

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Papo de startup em geral é um saco mas esse foi bem interessante!

I recently did an interview with Ben Jabbawy, CEO of Privy. Making heavy use of quotes from the interview, I’d like to tell you the story of their growth. Any emphasis is mine.

Picture of BenBusiness Collective

Privy is a startup which “helps businesses grow their customer lists. Pop-ups, banners, and bars which will sit on your site to help customers share to social media and subscribe to your email list.” They’ve been growing quickly using a strategy which hasn’t historically been talked about much (until Slack Apps at least), integrations.

We spent literally years trying to do direct sales and the classic direct sales, email, co-marketing. We really did a lot of that. We were adding users, but not at a rate that felt good given the type of product we were building and the market we were serving.

Rather than investing their time in creating content, or doing more direct sales, they grow by integrating with Content Management Systems like Shopify, and email services like Mailchimp.

Should I Build Integrations?

The path Privy took to integrations was after a long attempt at more traditional marketing methods. You don’t necessarily have to go down that road though. It always makes sense to try different growth strategies before betting on one. The odds are, one or two will work best for your team and product, but you have to experiment to find it.

Of course, the first question is, do I have a service which could be integrated with something? For example, if you are running a wallet manufacturing company, it would be a stretch to integrate with Content Management Systems. If, on the other hand, you build something which can be installed into websites (or could), an integration with a CMS makes all sorts of sense.

For most of us acquiring new users is the strongest motivation for creating an integration. Every day there are users who search through their CMS’ plugin listings for tools. If you can craft the right listing, they will become extraordinarily well qualified leads to your service. In other words, a user acquired this way is very likely to actually know what your service does, and need it.

When we were doing direct sales, we were calling anyone and everyone who would listen to us. It was a real problem to get over the hump of educating them that this was a problem that they had, positioning ourselves as the best solution. The market has developed a bit. Especially in the verticals where we are growing quickly, particularily ecommerce, email is now recognized as one of the highest ROI channels.

Now what we’re finding is our user base is growing faster than many other SaaS businesses out there, and now we get that scale.

There are benefits to integrations which transcend user acquisition though. In Ben‘s words:

As users get more sophisticated, it’s very unlikely that one vendor handles all of their marketing needs. If we don’t have that one integration, and they can’t move their data seemlessly between Privy and something else, then we’re at risk of losing that user. As opposed to making it really easy. Like if Privy gets connected with everyone on both sides, then in theory if they switch their ESPs, and everything they’ve done in Privy can remain intact, then the transition process can be simplified by having those integrations in place.

Just having integrations will make your tool easier to install and easier to connect to existing tools, irrespective of where your users come from.

We’ve looked at number of integrations as a measure of retention. I would say these days the average Privy business has two integrations. The way they get us installed on their site is an integration, and the way they connect us with their email provider is another.

If you don’t have two integrations setup, then that’s either an opportunity for us to build a new product, or it’s a sign that things aren’t going well with your onboarding.

To summarize, you should consider:

  • If your product is something which it makes sense to ‘integrate’ with.
  • If there is a platform people who might use your tool go to which you could integrate with.
  • If the users you attract through that integration are likely to ever pay you.
  • Will having integrations help you retain the customers you get from elsewhere?

How To Decide Who To Integrate With

To me, it makes a lot of sense to integrate with external platforms. Their growth then becomes your growth, and there is no limit to how many platforms you can be integrated with. I can also easily see spending the time on an integration, and ending up with next to no new users. So I asked Ben how they decide who to integrate with.

In the top of the funnel, we do a lot of research in how to prioritize integrations. Does that vendor have a lot of users? How engaged are those users? Do they look similar to our current users? What’s the app store experience like? Is it weaved natively into the dashboard of that tool? Are there reviews? How healthy is that app store ecosystem?

Take a look at Weebly. The list on their site that they have 30 million sites. You can register for a free Weebly account. We noticed that inside the website design experience they are showcasing apps. So it’s a massive userbase, and also a nice integration into the product experience. That will likely be a win in terms of the ROI of our engineering efforts to build out that integration.

There’s no guarantees there. There are also other factors which go into that. Like, we were one of the first into the Weebly app store. But thats definitely a part of the prioritization process.

You can do as much planning and strategy as you want. And sometimes we build these integrations and they flop. And other times we build them and it’s awesome. There’s two categories of integrations with the CMS’ and the email tools. It’s very rare that the email tool integrations we do will drive a significant top of the funnel traffic. The CMS integrations are more impactful on the top of our funnel.

Drawing from this last comment, it really matters what you’re integrating with. Users of email tools, for example, just don’t look for plugins by-in-large (and most email tools just don’t have plugin stores). You need to integrate with platforms where people are already looking for solutions, if you’re relying on this for growth.

In short, it really matters. You have to look at:

  • How many users the platform has.
  • What features (like search) does the platform have that will allow users to find you?
  • How likely are these users to want, and later pay for, your service?
  • What extra promotion effort is this company willing to do to integrate with you?

What Should My Plugin Do?

It goes without saying that users have to have a good experience when they use your integration. That might mean figuring out how to register users inside your integration. You may also have to move parts of your interface into the integration. If you’re really bold, you could even build your entire business inside integrations.

You also have to find the right pricing model. Users on app stores are less likely to pay for something without having tried it (perhaps because so many plugins are terrible). You may have to go for a fremium model, or allow users to preview your tool before it’s time to pay.

It’s not just building integrations, it’s converting to paid, an incredible onboarding experience, just like a really smooth product foundation that has mass appeal and fremium works well for the app stores.

Once your app is built, it could easily get listed on the target platform, and then disappear. I asked Ben what Privy does to promote newly created integrations.

There have been certain integrations we have done, namely Shopify, that has gotten us into a massive user base, that is highly engaged. Over time we’ve really gotten good at optimizing our listing to increase the volume of new users. What we’ve also seen is, within an ecosystem, there are other vendors you can integrate with that may only be pertinent to that environment.

When someone’s searching within their Weebly app store or Shopify app store, they’re looking for a solution to a problem. So what we found is being to the point in our app store listings, vs trying to ‘sell the vision’ of where we’re going, has helped us position ourselves.

He provided some examples of what would make a great tagline versus a terrible one:

  • A terrible tagline would be “A single solution for local businesses”
  • A targeted tagline would be “Coupon Based Popups”

You want something super specific. Think about your SEO approach to Google. It’s a very similar process. If someone is looking for a way to capture email, display popups, things like that then you want them to find us. I don’t want people looking for the ‘one marketing solution they need’, because it’s not a very good qualifing indicator for what we’re offering.

Just because we’ve had simple messaging doesn’t prevent us from expanding into new product lines and pursuing a bigger vision.

Every app store works their own way. Some platforms don’t even have stores. So working that integrations team or BD team to make sure you categorize in the right place. Search terms, how to weave those in. The title that produces the highest relevancy to search, the bullet point, what it is. Taking an extra look at the different app store features, and using those in interesting ways. To make sure to someone just browsing the entire list, A. yours stands out, B. to make sure they understand you offer what they need just from the icon.

I also asked him if they commonly arrange a comarketing plan with the platform they’re integrating with ahead of time. He said generally no:

There’s two categories of integrations, in terms of what you can expect from a marketing standpoint. Sometimes when you integrate with big vendors like Shopify or Mailchimp, I can tell you you probably cannot get marketing partership there. When you integrate with smaller vendors inside that marketplace though, you can. Sometimes we’ve done integrations with smaller vendors, explicitly because they’ve offered to tell all their users about Privy when it’s launched. That’s really helped adoption for us.

2016, a lot of the time they just have API docs. I would say in all of our most successful integrations, we hadn’t talked to anyone before we built it.

To summarize:

  • It’s common to build an integration with a big provider without talking to them first.
  • Use simple copy and taglines which directly address what your tool does, avoiding ‘marketing-speak’.
  • Don’t be afraid to start with something which solves a small problem well, you can always expand the scope of your offering.

Thanks for reading! I would very much have liked to post the video of our chat, but the quality wasn’t quite good enough for it to be easily understandable. We’ll work on it for future posts. Please subscribe below if you’re interested in being notified when we release them.

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13 Jul 20:30

Photo



13 Jul 15:57

Viva Intensamente # 267

by Will Tirando

VIVA-INTENSAMENTE---CASOS-DE-CACHORROS-DE-FAMÍLIA-2

No episódio anterior

12 Jul 18:27

Class Warfare

by Greg Ross

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steen,_Jan_Havickszoon_-_The_Village_School_-_c._1670.jpg

“There is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school.” — George Bernard Shaw

“I sometimes think it would be better to drown children than to lock them up in present-day schools.” — Marie Curie

“Nearly 12 years of school … form not only the least agreeable, but the only barren and unhappy period of my life. … It was an unending spell of worries that did not then seem petty, of toil uncheered by fruition; a time of discomfort, restriction and purposeless monotony. … I would far rather have been apprenticed as a bricklayer’s mate, or run errands as a messenger boy, or helped my father to dress the front windows of a grocer’s shop. It would have been real; it would have been natural; it would have taught me more; and I should have done it much better.” — Winston Churchill

“Not one of you sitting round this table could run a fish-and-chip shop.” — Howard Florey, 1945 Nobel laureate in medicine, to the governing body of Queen’s College, Oxford, of which he was provost

12 Jul 13:14

The Troubled Typeface

by Grant


This comic appears in the Summer/Fall 2016 issue of The Southampton Review.

Poster Shop |  Patreon
12 Jul 06:37

Comet Vintages

by Greg Ross

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Komet_von_1811.jpg

In “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk,” Dr. Watson describes Sherlock Holmes as being as pleased as “a connoisseur who has just taken his first sip of a comet vintage.”

That’s a reference to a strange tradition in winemaking: Years in which a comet appears prior to the harvest tend to produce successful vintages:

1826 — Biela’s Comet
1832 — Biela’s Comet
1839 — Biela’s Comet
1845 — Great June Comet of 1845
1846 — Biela’s Comet
1852 — Biela’s Comet
1858 — Comet Donati
1861 — Great Comet of 1861
1874 — Comet Coggia
1985 — Halley’s Comet
1989 — Comet Okazaki-Levy-Rudenko

“For some unexplained reason, or by some strange coincidence, comet years are famous among vine-growers,” noted the New York Times in 1872. “The last comet which was fairly visible to human eyes [and that] remained blazing in the horizon for many months, until it faded slowly away, was seen in 1858, a year dear to all lovers of claret; 1846, 1832 and 1811 were all comet years, and all years of excellent wine.”

No one has even proposed a mechanism to explain how this might be, but it’s widely noted in the wine world: Critic Robert Parker awarded a perfect 100-point rating to the 1811 Château d’Yquem, and cognac makers still put stars on their labels to commemorate that exceptional year.

11 Jul 18:24

A Brief History of Trial by Combat

A Brief History of Trial by Combat

In 1251, the Abbot of Meaux and the Abbot of St. Mary's of York fought over who owned several profitable businesses. Although the abbots did not brawl, it was a literal fight.

In accordance with English law, since the courts failed to resolve the ownership question, they chose to settle it through trial by combat. Each abbot hired a champion—there was an established market for champions, the best of whom had reputations that scared the other side into settling the case—to fight for his claim. 

People did not view this as barbaric; it was part of the legal process. The presiding justice in the case attended the fight, invoked the monarch’s name, and followed a specific ritual that called for God to intervene and bring victory to whichever side was honest in its claim. Given the time period, the champions likely fought in a makeshift arena. But later trials by combat in England took place in special arenas (“the lists”) with stands for spectators.

Although the Abbot of Meaux paid better, his champion fought poorly. Once defeat became a possibility, representatives of the feuding abbots came to terms.

Game of Thrones has made this odd aspect of history famous, as trials by combat feature prominently in the fate of two characters. Its counterpart is the trial by ordeal, in which someone accused of a crime is, say, burned with a hot iron, and God is called upon to protect him from harm if he is innocent. Most people know this idea thanks to a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which commoners debate whether to burn a woman to figure out if she’s a witch. 

Practices like these have existed for thousands of years, and they persist in certain parts of the world. For those who study them, their longevity makes it hard to believe that they are only superstition-fueled absurdities. Academics have long debated what purpose they served, and some have come to the surprising conclusion that they weren’t such bad ideas. 

Judging suspects by calling on God to perform miracles may have even worked. 

A Trial of Fire and Water

Between the Game of Thrones and Monty Python scenarios, the situation in which a single suspect faced divine judgment was much more common. 

The diversity of ordeals inflicted by judges and communities on suspected wrongdoers is as variable as man’s imagination. In medieval Europe, suspected criminals grasped hot iron or were dunked in ponds. In an example from the Bible, a priest tested a woman accused of adultery by giving her poisoned water. In India, one ordeal practiced in the 1800s involved weighing a man on giant scales that held a large quantity of clay. In Liberia, human rights groups have highlighted the current practice of burning suspects with a machete. In each case, this was not the punishment for the crime, but the trial.

Giving people poison, condemning people who float in water, and expecting God to keep hot iron from burning innocents… it sounds like superstitious slaughter. Yet it was often a thoughtful process.

In medieval Europe, for example, the primary way for courts (or villagers who didn’t have lawyers and a formal process) to respond to an accusation was by asking the suspect, witnesses, or people who knew the suspect to swear oaths to his or her guilt or innocence. (These oaths invoked God and called for the performance of a long, detailed ritual—a process some scholars compare to taking a polygraph.) They resorted to ordeals only when oathtakers contradicted each other, when the suspect was seen as untrustworthy, or when oaths were otherwise unreliable. (Perhaps because the crime was supernatural, meaning no one could witness it.)

Essentially, people asked God to render judgment only when they could not themselves. 

Scholars have pointed out that belief in “immanent justice” was common, that appealing to the divine imbued rulings with more authority, and that small communities may not have been able to afford the uncertainty of letting a likely criminal go free due to lack of evidence. Perhaps this is why Europeans so often settled disputes by asking God to perform miracles?

But even when people did turn to ordeals, it was rarely a death sentence. Surprisingly, the accounts and data we have from Europe demonstrate that most people who endured trials by ordeal were found innocent.

How could this be? How were so many people vindicated by a process that considered them guilty if a hot iron burned them?

At least in Europe, the suspected answer is that priests manipulated the results. Ordeals were days-long affairs that followed strict rituals, but as noted by economist Peter Leeson, those instructions gave priests leeway. An injury from a hot iron might be bandaged up and investigated by a priest three days later to see if God had healed it. (A very subjective judgement.) Priests and judges also rarely sent women to trials by water. This is likely becausewomen’s (on average) higher body fat percentage makes them more buoyant than men, and floating in the trials indicated guilt.

Priests may have manipulated the results because they wanted ordeals to be punishments for people who were unprovably guilty. Or it could have been a merciful punishment, especially in the case of unjust laws. When fifty men who had hunted King William Rufus’s deer all passed a trial by ordeal, he reportedly yelled, “What is this? God a just judge? Perish the man who after this believes so.”

Leeson’s theory, however, is that priests successfully used ordeals to determine who was guilty. Among a devout population, only innocent people would ask to prove their innocence through an ordeal, which explains why priests usually “interpreted” the results in a way that found people innocent. 

If every ordeal ended with a miracle, of course, people would turn skeptical. And atheists presented a problem. The key, Leeson suggests, would be for priests to (consciously or unconsciously) condemn the right number of people. If too many people choose a trial by ordeal, that’s a sign that the flock has grown skeptical; the priest should condemn more people to re-instill the fear of God and deter unbelievers. One analysis of European ordeals found that 63% of suspects were found innocent. Perhaps that’s the right ratio.

The lengthy religious rituals of an ordeal also gave priests ample time to scare skeptics and identify unbelievers. Pre-ordeal, suspects spent three days living like a monk and were “liberally doused with holy water and transformed by long prayers of benediction into a prototype of the ancient righteous man delivered in times of tribulation.” On the day of the ceremony, priests made statements like “I adjure thee by the living God that thou shalt show thyself pure” and reminded people that God “didst liberate the three youths from the fiery furnace and didst free Susanna from the false charge.” It must have been a convincing show. 

If ordeals seem like an irredeemably imprecise way to identify criminals, it’s worth considering the accuracy of the current justice system: One team of lawyers and researchers found that four percent of American death row inmates between 1973 and 2004 were wrongly convicted . 

For Honor, Property, and Credit

The use of ordeals reached its European peak in the years from roughly 800 to 1300. Ordeals were a Christianized, pagan tradition, and critical clergy finally succeeded in removing the Church’s support for the practice in 1215. (They argued that it “tempted” God to demand miracles.) Absent the Church’s authority, ordeals slowly lost their legitimacy and were replaced by jury trials. 

Academics generally link the decline of ordeals to the spread of literacy, science, and rationalism. Those with a more economic bent, however, suggest that ordeals went away once states had the resources and power to support jury trials that considered evidence. Ordeals were a “tribal tradition,” scholar Richard W. Lariviere writes, which disappeared “with the formation of communes—self-governing towns and villages—whose city charters were largely based on a revival of Roman law." Before areas had enough wealth to support a professional judiciary and strong governments that could enforce laws, the ordeal was often the best legal tool available. 

We see this as well with trials by combat. 

Trials by combat (duellums) were less common than ordeals, but their rise and fall was similar in Europe. These literal legal fights mainly resolved property disputes: he-said-she-said cases where a judge or local authority could not resolve two people’s disagreement. 

Unlike ordeals, scholars can’t redeem trials by combat with theories of how they discovered the truth. In theory, God helped the honest party win the fight. In practice, the strongest person, or the person with the money to hire the strongest champion, won the case. (In yet another example of history failing to live up to our romanticization of it, trials by combat usually ended with one of the fighters surrendering, and judges often had champions use weaker weapons like clubs to keep the trials non-lethal.)

Yet Leeson theorizes that trials by combat played a useful role—one that only economists can appreciate. 

In feudal Europe, it was difficult to buy and sell land. In England, the monarch held all the land and gave land rights to lords who gave rights to their land to lesser figures. The number of people with an interest in one piece of land made it hard to sell. 

When someone disputed the right to a property, a trial by combat created a novel situation: the person willing to spend the most money got the land. That person could spend more money on a champion, or hire all the available champions, and win the dispute. From the perspective of an economist, who thinks it’s terribly inefficient for someone who values the property less to control it, that’s the best possible outcome of an intractable dispute. 

Duels outside the legal system, however, were much more common. The duels that remain so famous date back to the Italian Renaissance. Its inventors, in creating formal rules for fighting to resolve a dispute, intended to prevent endless conflicts and generation-spanning vendettas. The rules were designed to limit the advantage held by good fighters—something made easier with the development of dueling pistols, whose poor accuracy made winning a duel comparable to winning a coin toss. As journalist Arthur Krystal writes, “The duel of honor was supposed to cut back on unchecked violence… to make men think twice about resorting to violence.” 

It didn’t work out. Dueling became a status symbol, like owning an iPhone. Sometimes duels were a pretentious show; Mark Twain once quipped that spectators at duels in France sat directly behind the duelists for their own safety. But when taken seriously, men died for honor. From 1589 to 1610 alone, around 6,000 Frenchman died. In the United States, journalist and Congressman died dueling with regularity. We all know about Hamilton, but Abraham Lincoln accepted a dueling challenge that was averted at the last moment by his friend’s diplomacy. (Lincoln helped by suggestively waving around a saber with his long arms.)

This is why people often look back at dueling as a social convention run amok, with people dying over silly disagreements. (Imagine dueling when you and your friend argue about the latest Marvel movie.) 

But like with ordeals, historians and economists looking for reason among the madness have some fascinating ideas. Economists Robert Wright and Christopher Kingston, for example, believe that the concept of honor in the American South was not a silly, nebulous concept but a specific economic one, and that dueling was an important, informal legal institution.

Understanding why begins with the recognition that plantation owners constantly borrowed money. After all, they invested huge sums to plant cash crops whose payday came once a season. At the same time, the courts and legal system had a limited ability to resolve disputes over debts. Being honorable meant being good for your debts and a man of your word: a prerequisite for business dealings. 

So why duel? For one, because it was very public. Newspapers posted dueling challenges, and word spread quickly. In the absence of high-functioning courts, issuing a challenge offered someone who felt mistreated by a plantation owner or money lender a means of redress. It was a public challenge to their business reputation. 

Accepting a challenge also offered an honest person (perhaps he failed to repay a debt due to a failed crop) a chance to prove his honesty. And since the formalities of challenging someone and naming seconds were time-consuming, they offered an opportunity to negotiate a compromise before a duel took place. 

“The credit implications of [dueling challenges] were certainly negative,” write Kingston and Wright. “Seen in this light, duels take on a more rational cast.”

This doesn’t exactly redeem duels—the primary reason many duelists needed debt was to buy slaves. But it does demonstrate how a seemingly irrational practice actually played an important legal and economic role—and why the practice persists, like ordeals, in some areas with weak courts and governments. 

***

With this understanding of duels and trials by ordeal, the season finale of Game of Thrones seems inevitable. (Spoilers ahead!)

In the show’s sixth season, King Tommen bans trials by combat, which means that his mother, Cersei, who is accused of incest, will face a trial at the hands of her rivals. She can no longer rely on her champion, a Frankenstein’s monster of a knight, to win her freedom. 

But King Tommen rules over a feudal kingdom, and his rule relies on the loyalty of rival aristocrats and religious figures. He has too little power to enforce justice over his murderous subjects—the situation where the imperfect solutions of trials by duels and hot irons and calls for divine intervention thrived, because they at least offered a resolution in a world that couldn’t achieve justice. Facing the prospect of a trial she will lose, Cersei chooses to kill all her rivals and those who want to judge her. 

In both our world and the fictional world of Game of Thrones, trials by combat and ordeal seem absurd, unjust superstitions. And they are. Yet in many ways, given the limitations of the time, they could offer the best path for resolving a dispute, despite the potential for abuse. 

It’s a trite point, but worth considering: Many aspects of our legal system could seem equally absurd to historians hundreds of years from now.

Our next article investigates why we still haggle at car dealerships. To get notified when we post it    join our email list.

The cover image from Game of Thrones is by Macall B. Polay, HBO.

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11 Jul 11:09

The History of Laughing Buddha

by brandizzi
FP Blog History of Laughing Buddha

You are probably pretty familiar with the image of the big Buddha by now; the boisterous jolly fellow with the large protruding stomach who carries the name Laughing Buddha and who was in fact the inspiration for our Laughing Buddha collection. But who was this eccentric man really?

The History

Originally he was named Hotei (in Japan) or Budai or Pu-Tai (in China) but he is best known as the Laughing Buddha. In China, people call him the Loving or Friendly One. His figure is based on an eccentric Chinese monk who lived over a thousand years ago and who has become a significant and popular symbol in Buddhist and Shinto culture.

Pu-Tai literally translates to “Cloth Sack,” which is reference to the knapsack that he was carrying with him. Pu-Tai was apparently a very kind, saintly and generous Zen master. His benevolent character was the reason why he was identified as the Maitreya, which is the Future Buddha. Furthermore, his generous smile gave him the nickname “Laughing Buddha.”

The Legend

According to an ancient legend the jolly good saint used to go from one town to the other to fulfill his mission: spreading happiness and joy wherever he went. Pu-Tai was a charismatic character who drew people like a magnet to his presence. People used to crowd around him and he is often depicted with happy children. The monk was famous for handing out sweets and small toys he took from his cloth bag, after which he would put the bag down, stare up at the sky and start to laugh madly. His laughter proved to be very contagious indeed and before long all who had gathered around him would start to laugh as well. That would be the signal that his work had been done, he would pick up the bag and journey to the next village or town. And that was his method of spreading happiness and enlightenment.

Buddha statue

The Power of Laughter

Pu-Tai was a man of few words, in fact he hardly ever spoke. On the few occasions that he did speak he would reply to questions about why he did what he did. He then explained that handing out sweets was symbolic for the notion that the more you give, the more you receive. His bag represented the problems all people encounter in life. Instead of clinging to them you should distance yourself from a problem by putting it down (just like he would put the bag down) and laugh at it, because whether you laugh or cry the problem is not going to change. The magic lies in the laughter and more precisely the power of laughter. Pu-Tai believed that the power of laughing made problems smaller and more easily to handle.

And the man had a very good grasp on things even a thousand years ago, because apparently when you laugh the body produces certain feel good hormones and enzymes. And when you feel good, you might look at your problems differently.

Pu-Tai lived a life of laughter and even when he died he pulled the biggest prank of all. When he felt his end coming near, the monk asked his close companions to immediately burn his body after his death. They were surprised because cremation was not a custom in Zen buddhism. But his wishes were granted and as soon as they set fire to his body, fireworks started to fly everywhere. Apparently he had hid a lot of crackers and rockets in his clothes in order to create laughter even when the matter was grave.

Buddha children

A Chinese custom is rubbing the belly of a laughing buddha statue to bring you good luck, prosperity and happiness.

Let us follow in the footsteps of a legendary monk and always remember his eternal wisdom: whatever happens we always should come back to laughter, because when you smile at the world, the world smiles back at you!

Rituals Laughing Buddha

This post is also available in: Dutch, Spanish, French, German, Swedish

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11 Jul 13:59

Yet?

by Lunarbaboon

Kickstarter Reward! - check out www.rubbateets.com

11 Jul 16:03

Kevin and the Girl Bird

by Reza

kevin-and-the-girl-bird

07 Jul 19:34

Espumante

by André Farias

Vida de Suporte

A única espuma que vai ter será a de raiva.


Espumante é um post do blog Vida de Suporte.
10 Jul 15:27

tracking the customer journey

by tomfishburne

160711.tracking

There’s a widening gap between how marketers and consumers feel about brands collecting data and tracking customer journeys.

According to a recent report by Edelman and The University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, 77% of marketers believe their organization should invest in predictive data and 71% of consumers believe that brands with access to personal data are using it unethically.

Much of this data is collected by tracking customer journeys, which has gotten more complicated as consumers juggle devices over the course of considering and making a purchase.  An OMD report revealed that people swap devices 21 times an hour.  The traditional tracking cookie falls short.

This has led to a lot of experimentation in different ways of track consumers across devices. The FTC recently pressured a firm called Silverpush to end its Audio Beacon tracking technology.  Playing “ultrasonic” sounds inaudible to humans, ads could link behavior across TV, laptops, and mobile devices. A TV ad or web banner ad would play a campaign-specific “ultrasonic” sound picked up by the mobile phone in your pocket.

Silverpush founder Hitesh Chawla explained: “cross-device identification of users is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

Here’s the opposing POV of Alvaro Bedoya at Georgetown Law:

“This tracking crosses all kinds of lines. This is occurring in the home, one of the few places where people still feel a true sense of privacy. People simply do not expect that while they’re watching TV with their families, their phones will be silently listening for sounds inaudible to human ears – that will then allow a company they’ve never heard of to track them more effectively.

“Just because an engineer can do it, doesn’t mean their company should. This breach of trust is just going to add fuel to the already strong fire for people to install ad blocking software.”

Marketers and consumers don’t see these “lines” the same.  Consumers expect content, ads, and offers to be personalized and relevant.  And yet much of the data tracking that would help personalization and relevance is seen as creepy and invasive.  Despite the end of Audio Beacon, there will continue to be experimentation with other technology like “supercookies”, customer keys, profile IDs, and probabilistic “non-cookie” techniques that effectively do the same thing.   

It’s an interesting challenge for marketers to navigate where to draw the line. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s a related cartoon I drew on this topic two years ago.
140512.personaldata

10 Jul 00:00

The History of the URL: Path, Fragment, Query, and Auth

URLs were never intended to be what they’ve become: an arcane way for a user to identify a site on the Web. Unfortunately, we’ve never been able to standardize URNs, which would give us a more useful naming system. Arguing that the current URL system is sufficient is like praising the DOS command line, and stating that most people should simply learn to use command line syntax. The reason we have windowing systems is to make computers easier to use, and more widely used. The same thinking should lead us to a superior way of locating specific sites on the Web.

— Dale Dougherty 1996

There are several different ways to understand the ‘Internet’. One is as a system of computers connected using a computer network. That version of the Internet came into being in 1969 with the creation of the ARPANET. Mail, files and chat all moved over that network before the creation of HTTP, HTML, or the ‘web browser’.

In 1992 Tim Berners-Lee created three things, giving birth to what we consider the Internet. The HTTP protocol, HTML, and the URL. His goal was to bring ‘Hypertext’ to life. Hypertext at its simplest is the ability to create documents which link to one another. At the time it was viewed more as a science fiction panacea, to be complimented by Hypermedia, and any other word you could add ‘Hyper’ in front of.

The key requirement of Hypertext was the ability to link from one document to another. In TBL’s time though, these documents were hosted in a multitude of formats and accessed through protocols like Gopher and FTP. He needed a consistent way to refer to a file which encoded its protocol, its host on the Internet, and where it existed on that host.

At the original World-Wide Web presentation in March of 1992 TBL described it as a ‘Universal Document Identifier’ (UDI). Many different formats were considered for this identifier:

protocol: aftp host: xxx.yyy.edu path: /pub/doc/README
PR=aftp; H=xx.yy.edu; PA=/pub/doc/README;
PR:aftp/xx.yy.edu/pub/doc/README
/aftp/xx.yy.edu/pub/doc/README)

This document also explains why spaces must be encoded in URLs (%20):

The use of white space characters has been avoided in UDIs: spaces are not legal characters. This was done because of the frequent introduction of extraneous white space when lines are wrapped by systems such as mail, or sheer necessity of narrow column width, and because of the inter-conversion of various forms of white space which occurs during character code conversion and the transfer of text between applications.

What’s most important to understand is that the URL was fundamentally just an abbreviated way of refering to the combination of scheme, domain, port, credentials and path which previously had to be understood contextually for each different communication system.

It was first officially defined in an RFC published in 1994.

scheme:[//[user:password@]host[:port]][/]path[?query][#fragment]

This system made it possible to refer to different systems from within Hypertext, but now that virtually all content is hosted over HTTP, may not be as necessary anymore. As early as 1996 browsers were already inserting the http:// and www. for users automatically (rendering any advertisement which still contains them truly ridiculous).

Path

I do not think the question is whether people can learn the meaning of the URL, I just find it it morally abhorrent to force grandma or grandpa to understand what, in the end, are UNIX file system conventions.

— Israel del Rio 1996

The slash separated path component of a URL should be familiar to any user of any computer built in the last fifty years. The hierarchal filesystem itself was introduced by the MULTICS system. Its creator, in turn, attributes it to a two hour conversation with Albert Einstein he had in 1952.

MULTICS used the greater than symbol (>) to separated file path components. For example:

>usr>bin>local>awk

That was perfectly logical, but unfortunately the Unix folks decided to use > to represent redirection, delegating path separation to the forward slash (/).

Snapchat the Supreme Court

Wrong. We are I now see clearly disagreeing. You and I.

...

As a person I reserve the right to use different criteria for different purposes. I want to be able to give names to generic works, AND to particular translations AND to particular versions. I want a richer world than you propose. I don’t want to be constrained by your two-level system of “documents” and “variants”.

— Tim Berners-Lee 1993

One half of the URLs referenced by US Supreme Court opinions point to pages which no longer exist. If you were reading an academic paper in 2011, written in 2001, you have better than even odds that any given URL won’t be valid.

There was a fervent belief in 1993 that the URL would die, in favor of the ‘URN’. The Uniform Resource Name is a permanent reference to a given piece of content which, unlike a URL, will never change or break. Tim Berners-Lee first described the “urgent need” for them as early as 1991.

The simplest way to craft a URN might be to simply use a cryptographic hash of the contents of the page, for example: urn:791f0de3cfffc6ec7a0aacda2b147839. This method doesn’t meet the criteria of the web community though, as it wasn’t really possible to figure out who to ask to turn that hash into a piece of real content. It also didn’t account for the format changes which often happen to files (compressed vs uncompressed for example) which nevertheless represent the same content.

Reliability of URLs

In 1996 Keith Shafer and several others proposed a solution to the problem of broken URLs. The link to this solution is now broken. Roy Fielding posted an implementation suggestion in July of 1995. The link is now broken.

I was able to find these pages through Google, which has functionally made page titles the URN of today. The URN format was ultimately finalized in 1997, and has essentially never been used since. The implementation is itself interesting. Each URN is composed of two components, an authority who can resolve a given type of URN, and the specific ID of this document in whichever format the authority understands. For example, urn:isbn:0131103628 will identify a book, forming a permanent link which can (hopefully) be turned into a set of URLs by your local isbn resolver.

Given the power of search engines, it’s possible the best URN format today would be a simple way for files to point to their former URLs. We could allow the search engines to index this information, and link us as appropriate:

<!-- On http://zack.is/history -->
<link rel="past-url" href="http://zackbloom.com/history.html">
<link rel="past-url" href="http://zack.is/history.html">

Query Params

The application/x-www-form-urlencoded format is in many ways an aberrant monstrosity, the result of many years of implementation accidents and compromises leading to a set of requirements necessary for interoperability, but in no way representing good design practices.

WhatWG URL Spec

If you’ve used the web for any period of time, you are familiar with query parameters. They follow the path portion of the URL, and encode options like ?name=zack&state=mi. It may seem odd to you that queries use the ampersand character (&) which is the same character used in HTML to encode special characters. In fact, if you’ve used HTML for any period of time, you likely have had to encode ampersands in URLs, turning http://host/?x=1&y=2 into http://host/?x=1&amp;y=2 or http://host?x=1&#38;y=2 (that particular confusion has always existed).

You may have also noticed that cookies follow a similar, but different format: x=1;y=2 which doesn’t actually conflict with HTML character encoding at all. This idea was not lost on the W3C, who encouraged implementers to support ; as well as & in query parameters as early as 1995.

Originally, this section of the URL was strictly used for searching ‘indexes’. The Web was originally created (and its funding was based on it creating) a method of collaboration for high energy physicists. This is not to say Tim Berners-Lee didn’t know he was really creating a general-purpose communication tool. He didn’t add support for tables for years, which is probably something physicists would have needed.

In any case, these ‘physicists’ needed a way of encoding and linking to information, and a way of searching that information. To provide that, Tim Berners-Lee created the <ISINDEX> tag. If <ISINDEX> appeared on a page, it would inform the browser that this is a page which can be searched. The browser should show a search field, and allow the user to send a query to the server.

That query was formatted as keywords separated by plus characters (+):

http://cernvm/FIND/?sgml+cms

In fantastic Internet fashion, this tag was quickly abused to do all manner of things including providing an input to calculate square roots. It was quickly proposed that perhaps this was too specific, and we really needed a general purpose <input> tag.

That particular proposal actually uses plus signs to separate the components of what otherwise looks like a modern GET query:

http://somehost.somewhere/some/path?x=xxxx+y=yyyy+z=zzzz

This was far from universally acclaimed. Some believed we needed a way of saying that the content on the other side of links should be searchable:

<a HREF="wais://quake.think.com/INFO" INDEX=1>search</a>

Tim Berners-Lee thought we should have a way of defining strongly-typed queries:

<ISINDEX TYPE="iana:/www/classes/query/personalinfo">

I can be somewhat confident in saying, in retrospect, I am glad the more generic solution won out.

The real work on <INPUT> began in January of 1993 based on an older SGML type. It was (perhaps unfortunately), decided that <SELECT> inputs needed a separate, richer, structure:

<select name=FIELDNAME type=CHOICETYPE [value=VALUE] [help=HELPUDI]>
<choice>item 1
<choice>item 2
<choice>item 3
</select>

If you’re curious, reusing <li>, rather than introducing the <option> element was absolutely considered. There were, of course, alternative form proposals. One included some variable substituion evocative of what Angular might do today:

<ENTRYBLANK TYPE=int LENGTH=length DEFAULT=default VAR=lval>
Prompt </ENTRYBLANK>
<QUESTION TYPE=float DEFAULT=default VAR=lval> Prompt </QUESTION>
<CHOICE DEFAULT=default VAR=lval>
<ALTERNATIVE VAL=value1> Prompt1
...
<ALTERNATIVE VAL=valuen> Promptn
</CHOICE>

In this example the inputs are checked against the type specified in type, and the VAR values are available on the page for use in string substitution in URLs, à la:

http://eager.io/apps/$appId

Additional proposals actually used @, rather than =, to separate query components:

name@value+name@(value&value)

It was Marc Andreessen who suggested our current method based on what he had already implemented in Mosaic:

name=value&name=value&name=value

Just two months later Mosaic would add support for method=POST forms, and ‘modern’ HTML forms were born.

Of course, it was also Marc Andreessen’s company Netscape who would create the cookie format (using a different separator). Their proposal was itself painfully shortsighted, led to the attempt to introduce a Set-Cookie2 header, and introduced fundamental structural issues we still deal with at Eager to this day.

Fragments

The portion of the URL following the ‘#’ is known as the fragment. Fragments were a part of URLs since their initial specification, used to link to a specific location on the page being loaded. For example, if I have an anchor on my site:

<a name="bio"></a>

I can link to it:

http://zack.is/#bio

This concept was gradually extended to any element (rather than just anchors), and moved to the id attribute rather than name:

<h1 id="bio">Bio</h1>

Tim Berners-Lee decided to use this character based on its connection to addresses in the United States (despite the fact that he’s British by birth). In his words:

In a snail mail address in the US at least, it is common to use the number sign for an apartment number or suite number within a building. So 12 Acacia Av #12 means “The building at 12 Acacia Av, and then within that the unit known numbered 12”. It seemed to be a natural character for the task. Now, http://www.example.com/foo#bar means “Within resource http://www.example.com/foo, the particular view of it known as bar”.

It turns out that the original Hypertext system, created by Douglas Englebart, also used the ‘#’ character for the same purpose. This may be coincidental or it could be a case of accidental “idea borrowing”.

Fragments are explicitly not included in HTTP requests, meaning they only live inside the browser. This concept proved very valuable when it came time to implement client-side navigation (before pushState was introduced). Fragments were also very valuable when it came time to think about how we can store state in URLs without actually sending it to the server. What could that mean? Let’s explore:

Molehills and Mountains

There is a whole standard, as yukky as SGML, on Electronic data Intercahnge [sic], meaning forms and form submission. I know no more except it looks like fortran backwards with no spaces.

— Tim Berners-Lee 1993

There is a popular perception that the internet standards bodies didn’t do much from the finalization of HTTP 1.1 and HTML 4.01 in 2002 to when HTML 5 really got on track. This period is also known (only by me) as the Dark Age of XHTML. The truth is though, the standardization folks were fantastically busy. They were just doing things which ultimately didn’t prove all that valuable.

One such effort was the Semantic Web. The dream was to create a Resource Description Framework (editorial note: run away from any team which seeks to create a framework), which would allow metadata about content to be universally expressed. For example, rather than creating a nice web page about my Corvette Stingray, I could make an RDF document describing its size, color, and the number of speeding tickets I had gotten while driving it.

This is, of course, in no way a bad idea. But the format was XML based, and there was a big chicken-and-egg problem between having the entire world documented, and having the browsers do anything useful with that documentation.

It did however provide a powerful environment for philosophical argument. One of the best such arguments lasted at least ten years, and was known by the masterful codename ‘httpRange-14’.

httpRange-14 sought to answer the fundamental question of what a URL is. Does a URL always refer to a document, or can it refer to anything? Can I have a URL which points to my car?

They didn’t attempt to answer that question in any satisfying manner. Instead they focused on how and when we can use 303 redirects to point users from links which aren’t documents to ones which are, and when we can use URL fragments (the bit after the ‘#’) to point users to linked data.

To the pragmatic mind of today, this might seem like a silly question. To many of us, you can use a URL for whatever you manage to use it for, and people will use your thing or they won’t. But the Semantic Web cares for nothing more than semantics, so it was on.

This particular topic was discussed on July 1st 2002, July 15th 2002, July 22nd 2002, July 29th 2002, September 16th 2002, and at least 20 other occasions through 2005. It was resolved by the great ‘httpRange-14 resolution’ of 2005, then reopened by complaints in 2007 and 2011 and a call for new solutions in 2012. The question was heavily discussed by the pedantic web group, which is very aptly named. The one thing which didn’t happen is all that much semantic data getting put on the web behind any sort of URL.

Auth

As you may know, you can include a username and password in URLs:

http://zack:shhhhhh@zack.is

The browser then encodes this authentication data into Base64, and sends it as a header:

Authentication: Basic emFjazpzaGhoaGho

The only reason for the Base64 encoding is to allow characters which might not be valid in a header, it provides no obscurity to the username and password values.

Particularily over the pre-SSL internet, this was very problematic. Anyone who could snoop on your connection could easily see your password. Many alternatives were proposed including Kerberos which is a widely used security protocol both then and now.

As with so many of these examples though, the simple basic auth proposal was easiest for browser manufacturers (Mosaic) to implement. This made it the first, and ultimately the only, solution until developers were given the tools to build their own authentication systems.

The Web Application

In the world of web applications, it can be a little odd to think of the basis for the web being the hyperlink. It is a method of linking one document to another, which was gradually augmented with styling, code execution, sessions, authentication, and ultimately became the social shared computing experience so many 70s researchers were trying (and failing) to create. Ultimately, the conclusion is just as true for any project or startup today as it was then: all that matters is adoption. If you can get people to use it, however slipshod it might be, they will help you craft it into what they need. The corollary is, of course, no one is using it, it doesn’t matter how technically sound it might be. There are countless tools which millions of hours of work went into which precisely no one uses today.


If you haven’t had a chance, feel free to take a look at the first portion of this post, covering the Domain, Protocol and Port. As always, if you enjoyed this post and think you might like other posts like it feel free to subscribe below.

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09 Jul 17:46

Por favor, leiam a triste e heróica história do chefe de polícia de Dallas

by gustavochacra

Vocês devem ter visto a imagem do chefe de polícia de Dallas, David Brown, explicando todo o episódio do ataque terrorista que resultou na morte de cinco policiais. Negro, ele teve de dizer que o atirador Michah Xavier Johnson alvejava especificamente brancos no atentado. Policial, ele teve também de dizer que o atirador alvejava especificamente policiais.

Brown tem orgulho de ser policial e tem orgulho de ser negro. Entende haver sim um problema de racismo contra negros e hispânicos entre alguns membros da polícia nos EUA. E sabe também que a maioria absoluta dos policiais quer garantir a segurança da população.

Por este motivo, Brown treinou a sua polícia em Dallas para ser uma das mais hábeis na forma de lidar com a população. Conseguiu reduzir abruptamente os atos violentos de policiais. Reduziu também os atos de racismo. Tornou a corporação mais diversa. Hoje, 55% da polícia de Dallas é branca, 25% negra, 17% hispânica e 3% asiática e outras minorias. Ao mesmo tempo, melhorou a segurança da cidade, uma das mais multiculturais dos EUA, apesar do estereótipo associado a cowboys.

Mas isso não leva em conta a história de vida de Brown. Nos anos 1990, ele viu seu parceiro na polícia ser morto por bandidos. O líder da polícia ajuda a família da viúva e seus filhos até hoje, sem deixar faltar nada. Na década seguinte, o irmão de Brown foi morto por traficantes.

Alguns anos atrás, a história mais triste. O filho de Brown, que era bipolar, matou um policial e um pai de família durante um surto psicótico. Foi morto em seguida por policiais. Logo depois de sair do funeral do filho, Brown foi à casa das famílias das vítimas para pedir desculpas por este ataque.

Difícil imaginar alguém que viva tanto o atual contexto de tensão racial nos EUA quanto Brown. Ele entende o que é ser alvo de gigantesco racismo contra negros no país. Ele entende o que é ter de lidar com a morte de um policial, pai de família, que tentava garantir a segurança. Ele entende o que é ver um irmão ser morto por bandidos. E entende o que é ter um assassino na família.

Com toda esta experiência, Brown sabia da importância de garantir a segurança na manifestação em Dallas. Seus policiais eram exemplares. E os manifestantes também eram pacíficos e protestavam contra a violência policial em outras partes dos EUA. Mas cinco deles foram mortos por um lobo solitário. Uma pessoa estragou um protesto legítimo e necessário contra o racismo. E tirou a vida de policiais honestos, deixando mulheres viúvas e crianças órfãos.

O terrorista de Dallas não representa em hipótese alguma a população negra dos EUA, que é alvo de racismo e de violência pessoal. Ele representa apenas ele próprio. E os policiais que mataram negros inocentes em ações claramente racistas na Louisiana e Minnesota representam apenas eles próprios, não toda a polícia. Brown foi vítima e herói em todos estes casos.

Guga Chacra, blogueiro de política internacional do Estadão e comentarista do programa Globo News Em Pauta em Nova York, é mestre em Relações Internacionais pela Universidade Columbia. Já foi correspondente do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo no Oriente Médio e em NY. No passado, trabalhou como correspondente da Folha em Buenos Aires

Comentários na minha página no Facebook. Peço que evitem comentários islamofóbicos, antissemitas, anticristãos e antiárabes ou que coloquem um povo ou uma religião como superiores. Também evitem ataques entre leitores ou contra o blogueiro.  Não postem vídeos ou textos de terceiros. Todos os posts devem ter relação com algum dos temas acima. O blog está aberto a discussões educadas e com pontos de vista diferentes. Os comentários dos leitores não refletem a minha opinião e não tenho condições de monitorar todos os comentários

Acompanhe também meus comentários no Globo News Em Pauta, no Twitter @gugachacra , no Facebook Guga Chacra (me adicionem como seguidor) e no Instagram

09 Jul 05:00

Comic for 2016.07.09

by Kris Wilson

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Recommended article from FiveFilters.org: Most Labour MPs in the UK Are Revolting.

08 Jul 01:23

Links 7/16: Peter Linklage

by Scott Alexander
Adam Victor Brandizzi

A Internet é um lugar fascinante e isto me deixa triste.

Newspapers showed the picture of a man who died in the terrorist attacks on Paris last year. But somebody who is clearly the same man was shown as being killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting last month. And now the same person is in the body count for the attacks on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Who is the mysterious man who dies in every terrorist attack?

Systematic review: “Overall, results of these studies do not indicate a higher prevalence of eating disorders among fashion models compared to non-models.”

/r/AccidentalRenaissance: everyday photos which, when you think about it, look kind of like Renaissance paintings.

Pseudoerasmus reviews Empire of Cotton. Even though he’s not a fan of the book, just his hostile summary helped me understand some of what people mean when they say that “free trade” has set back the developing world.

In order to counteract my (and maybe your) usual bias: here’s somebody fired for doing a study that found that some people were racist.

Oh God oh God oh God functional brain imaging studies are awful – “If the whole-brain across-subject correlation analysis with 16 subjects considers 1000 possible correlations (considerably less than the number of voxels in a whole-brain analysis) the peak correlation coefficient is expected to be about 0.75, even if the true correlation is actually 0.” Best read alongside the old study that replicated various results about the brain in a dead salmon to show how easy it was to fake.

Supposedly most antidepressants don’t work in kids and teens, but Prozac does. But I find anything that discovers striking cross-SSRI differences a little hard to believe.

Psssst, wanna buy a slightly used Soviet surplus tank? What if I told you they cost less than a nice car?

The Kentucky meat shower was an unexplained event when meat fell from the sky like rain. “A letter from Dr. Allan McLane Hamilton appearing in the publication Medical Record [stated] that the meat had been identified as lung tissue from either a horse or a human infant, ‘the structure of the organ in these two cases being almost identical.'” Well that’s not creepy at all.

LWer and Future of Humanity Institute scholar Stuart Armstrong is in the news for a paper written together with Google AI scientists detailing an exciting new avenue for working on AI safety based on designing intelligences that will not resist their own shutdown. Related: scientists at Google, OpenAI, Stanford, and Berkeley publish a review of Concrete Problems In AI Safety.

China plans to evict 5000 monks from Larung Gar Buddhist Monastery for political reasons. If you’re wondering what kind of monastery has 5000 monks, take a look at the photos.

Related: Treasure-hunting is big part of Tibetan Buddhism, and monks inspired by mystical revelation will often go out and unearth treasures or manuscripts hidden by past saints.

Review: “Nominal agreement between initial studies and meta-analyses regarding the presence of a significant effect was not better than chance in psychiatry, whereas it was somewhat better in neurology and somatic diseases.” If I’m understanding this right, it means that an initial study about something in psychiatry conveys literally zero evidence about whether that thing is true or not.

China plans to cut meat consumption by 50%.

Everyone knows that “millennials” are far left, but the truth is more complicated – really into gays, marijuana, and immigration, but not much different than older generations on support for the poor or on racial issues (wait, really?)

Snopes: despite media reports, there is no evidence that the Orlando nightclub shooter was gay. This is so confusing to me that I worry it’s some kind of prank, but how could I even check?

David Chapman on Brexit. This probably has something to offend everybody.

A list of 308 online effective altruism-related resources. Some of the Facebook groups seem kind of Potemkin-y, though.

Relevant to my interests: there was once an unrecognized US state called Scott.

Economists are very pessimistic about (one version of) universal basic income.

Related: an alternative to universal basic income is the universal basic share, where the government says something like “We pledge to forever redistribute 10% of GDP, whatever that may be, among our citizens as a universal basic income”. The hope is that even if this starts out as not enough, as the economy grows it will gradually become more and more until it’s enough for people to live on. But I worry that ignores the effect discussed here, where if the government had tried that in 1900 then by now the income would have grown to the amount the poor needed to support themselves in 1900, yet would still be way below the amount what we consider a minimum standard of living today.

Company that handles tech company interviews makes a feature that changes what gender an interviewee’s voice sounds like, to see if women get more tech jobs when the company thinks that they’re men. To the surprise of nobody who is paying attention, there is no anti-woman bias found and in fact women do slightly better when they are known to be female.

If you miss the predictions of health risks and so on that you used to be able to get from 23andMe, you can get them free from Genotation now – just upload your 23andMe data to their site and it will do the calculations for you. I’m slightly confused that its ancestry panel seems to think I’m East African, but I guess in a sort of cosmic long-term sense it’s not wrong.

Wait List Zero is a group that encourages altruistic kidney donation, eg donation to a person you may not know who really needs a kidney.

Two new studies conclusively determine that the apparent “obesity paradox” – the finding that sometimes overweight people had lower death rates than normal weight people – was an error and that in fact being normal weight is healthier.

Last week: Kentucky legalizes hair braiding without a license. This week: fiery storms scour the land; the living envy the dead.

A few months ago I argued that open-source AI would be a bad thing because it would sabotage safety efforts. Now Nick Bostrom investigates the same question much more rigorously.

D.R. Hagen on why the 11th, the 2nd, and the 3rd of each month are mentioned in books less often than other days.

Psychiatrists often use drugs that modulate norepinephrine, like Effexor and Strattera, on the assumption that this chemical plays an important role in psychiatric disease. But some people have a rare disease that causes them to have literally no norepinephrine at all yet seem to be psychiatrically normal. I have no idea how this can be true.

Intermittent fasting is no better than just dieting the normal way. I hate to gloat, but this concludes an almost ten-year argument I’ve been having with an acquaintance who said that the failure of doctors to immediately endorse intermittent fasting proves that the medical profession are all quacks who don’t care about their patients.

Ross Douthat: The Myth Of Cosmopolitanism. “[We give] the elite side of the debate (the side that does most of the describing) too much credit for being truly cosmopolitan. Genuine cosmopolitanism is a rare thing. It requires comfort with real difference, with forms of life that are truly exotic relative to one’s own….The people who consider themselves “cosmopolitan” in today’s West, by contrast, are part of a meritocratic order that transforms difference into similarity, by plucking the best and brightest from everywhere and homogenizing them into the peculiar species that we call “global citizens”…There is more genuine cosmopolitanism in Rudyard Kipling and T. E. Lawrence and Richard Francis Burton than in a hundred Davos sessions.”

The campaign for rigor in UFO hunting.

Tell me I’m misunderstanding this, or else it’s the most confusing thing I’ve read all month: study shows that sugar only makes you gain weight insofar as it tastes good, and mice who have been genetically engineered not to like the taste of sugar fail to gain much weight on sugar even when they eat exactly as much of it as the mice who like it. Possible implications for artificial sweeteners?

Refugee children who arrive to the US at a very early age like 6 months don’t have substantially better outcomes than those who arrive at a later age like 6 years. This is very strange, because we expect them to be living in a terrible deprived environment before immigration but a much better one afterwards. How do we reconcile this with the “childhood stresses of poverty” theory of poor people’s problems like in that study about the Cherokee reservation?

Also, how do we reconcile behavioral genetics with attachment theory?

All of those studies showing that a picture of eyes watching you would make you behave in a more prosocial way are the latest victims of the replication crisis.

The first fully automated fast food restaurant comes to San Francisco.

Brian Tomasik has a really good article on gains from trade that asks the important question – why is there ever conflict? Why don’t people just Aumann-agree on how the conflict would probably go, and skip the part where they actually waste all of their resources fighting each other? See also this SSC post.

Great moments in Donald Trump tweeting.

07 Jul 21:57

Muitos nomes

by Raphael Salimena

29 Jun 18:33

CAPELINHA DE MELÃO

by Borboleta Roxa
No dia de São João fui a uma festa junina maravilhosa e super família que tenho a honra de ira alguns anos: o Arraiá da Dona Josa, que acontece a mais de 50 anos (!). A Dona Josa em questão é mãe de um amigo meu.
Desta vez convidei uma amiga que mora próximo de mim e do local da festa. Conversa vai, conversa vem, comida vai e comida vem, na mesa de bolos e outros quitutes, minha amiga vê isto:



Capelinha de Melão

Ela, de família baiana, achou curioso ter uma capelinha de melão lá na festa e a fotografou. Depois, conversando com o pessoal da casa, descobriram que eles são de uma mesma cidade baiana onde a minha amiga tem parentes. Segundo ela, aquela era uma festa tipicamente baiana por ter a capelinha de melão.

Eu não resisti e posteriormente fui pesquisar sobre o assunto, pra entender a origem, significado e em quais estados a tal capela é tradicional. 

Primeiro o Google me ajudou a lembrar da música de domínio público que deu origem a este objeto:

CAPELINHA DE MELÃO

Capelinha de melão / É de São João
É de cravo é de rosa /  É de manjericão

São João está dormindo / Não acorde não
Acordai, acordai / Acordai João.

Bem, a música era bem condizente com o que eu tinha visto: uma pequena "capela", feita de melão, com cravos espetados, e em volta folhas (simbolizando o manjericão) e flores (simbolizando as rosas). Mas por que uma capela feita de melão???

O mais surpreendente foi entender a verdade por trás deste símbolo tão bonito, mas que foi mal entendido da música. Na verdade, a Capelinha de Melão é um auto popular, hoje em dia ainda dançado no Rio Grande no Norte, em especial na praia de Carnaúbas (no município de  Maxaranguape) e no município de São Miguel do Gostoso. Implicitamente, eu deduzi que o auto é de origem portuguesa.

Consiste num grupo de moças de roupas brancas, acompanhadas de vários instrumentos, que dançam e cantam ao ar livre. Não vou descrever a dança aqui (pois isto tem nas referências abaixo). 
O importante foi entender que capela também significa "coroa ou grinalda de flores ou folhas" e que o melão em questão não é a fruta, mas a planta melão-de-são-caetano.

Portanto, "capelinha de melão" nada mais é do que uma pequena coroa feita de flores e ramos da planta melão-de-são-caetano (que é uma planta com vários usos medicinais) e, como diz a música, também pode conter folhagens de manjericão e as flores cravo e rosa. Nada a ver com uma pequena igreja ou com a fruta melão, simples assim!
Analisando a história, é bem interessante ver como os brasileiros interpretaram erroneamente a música e criaram outra tradição.

Estes foram os 2 links mais interessantes que eu achei sobre o assunto:
http://papjerimum.blogspot.com.br/2012/06/as-dancas-folcloricas-do-ciclo-junino.html

E no fim das contas não consegui descobrir em quais cidades ou estados a capelinha de melão (feita com o melão fruta, como a da foto) é comum...
07 Jul 17:33

Justice is not always served

by CommitStrip
Adam Victor Brandizzi

To do that, you should be less smart than someone who knows it is not worth the hassle :P

Strip-Domotic-incomprise-(650-final)(english)