Sunday, December 17, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Dramatically different headlines about the "far right" Prague conference

Tomio Okamura, the Czech-Japanese leader of the Czech nationalist party, SPD, who got over 10% in recent elections was naturally viewed as a counterpart of Marine Le Pen in France or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. She has endorsed him before the elections, and so forth. I think Okamura is an articulate politician with perfect Czech who proposes "direct democracy", a ban on Islam, and other things. But I think that in many debates, he was able to talk about lots of more general political questions as well – although I don't claim to agree with him on a majority of those – so I think it's wrong to consider him a one-topic politician.

I have never considered to vote for him (and I probably have much more trouble with his typical voters' views and sentiments than with himself) even though Marine Le Pen, his apparent "counterpart" in France, would be likely to earn my vote. The difference is clear: in France, everyone else has suicidal opinions about some essential questions while in Czechia, opinions about multiculturalism that are clearly at least approximately compatible with my views are promoted by almost all political parties. For this simple reason, I believe that Okamura's average voter is unavoidably "more radical" than Le Pen's.

Saturday, December 16, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Too many kids go to college

...and funds for huge tuition just aren't a genuinely high prize...

I've exchanged some e-mails with the winner as well as someone whom I know and who works for the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. The "simple" amount that the winner is said to win is $250,000. But I should have studied the conditions more carefully. They reminded me of those and the winner actually gets

$250,000 for tuition at a university of her choice, $100,000 for a lab at her high school, $50,000 goes to the teacher who inspired her.
So if you look carefully, she doesn't actually get anything at all! More precisely, the winner doesn't get any funds that may be safely assumed to have a positive, nonzero value according to the winner herself.

Six years ago, an Intelligence Squared Debate took place in Chicago (see 100 minutes above). Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an aide to Donald Trump now, teamed up with Charles Murray, a researcher of IQ. They defeated Vivek Wadhwa and Henry Bienen after they argued that too many kids go to college.

New assertive Czech PM fails to legalize anti-migration stance in EU so far

On Wednesday, Czech president Zeman appointed a new government constructed by Slovak-born billionaire Mr Andrej Babiš. I am still worried about the authoritarian, anti-democratic political attitudes he has defended in his campaign. I still think he should be arrested for some of his self-evident and obviously serious crimes. I still find it terrible that influential communist apparatchiks from the 1980s and former communist secret agents get this high in politics of a democratic country. Some of these negative sentiments of mine are very strong.

PM Babiš (L) and his predecessor Sobotka (R).

And in practice, I think that many of these things are more important for Czech citizens than some abstract, remote problems of Western Europe.

On the other hand, don't expect me to behave as one of the hysterical anti-Trump activists in America – who write tirades against the leader every day or who burn university campuses. On Thursday, I attended a pre-Christmas party organized by Czech ex-president Klaus whose animosity towards Babiš is clearly weaker than mine. I was semi-jokingly afraid of the scenario that I could have met Babiš there. Would I have shook his hand? My guess is that "yes" would be possible after two glasses of wine. I didn't drink even that over there – the event was lame for me at the ethanol level – but it would have been a close call.

Friday, December 15, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Snowflakes' hysteria after abolition of net neutrality resembles Idiocracy

The FCC, a U.S. regulator affecting the Internet, has 3 Republican members and 2 female Democratic ones.

Yesterday, as expected, it voted along the party lines and abolished the 2015 Obama-era "net neutrality" that demands all the Internet Service Providers to believe and incorporate the ludicrous assumption that "all bits are created equal" – that forces the ISPs to become mutually indistinguishable dull pipelines that just transmit bits, regardless of how they're clumped and what content they represent. During the FCC chairman's speech, someone (probably a supporter of net neutrality) reported a bomb threat so they needed to evacuate the room and confirm that the report was just fearmongering, just like every single argument in favor of net neutrality.

When I searched for comments about "net neutrality" on Twitter and Google News, among others, I was amazed by the amount of hysteria that requires the hysterical people's absolute and hopeless stupidity. I was happy to see that e.g. Ted Cruz's reaction was the same.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Yuri Milner and Papa Oumuamua: a telephone call

Milner: Hi, this is Yuri Milner. Do you hear me? I am calling you through the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia.
ET: Of course we hear you. Papa Oumuamua (wiki) speaking. But we don't understand you. In fact, this fact makes it puzzling how we could answer your question at all. Do you speak Russian?

Milner: Yes, I do. Privět. Are you extraterrestrial?
ET: What do you think? If we weren't extraterrestrial, we would call you on that annoying round rock of yours and we wouldn't need three minutes for the answer to go back and forth.
Milner: Mother Russia is no annoying round rock. Have we ever met each other?

Australia wants you to take over Australian stocks by a 51% attack on the blockchain

As Keith informed me via Twitter,

Australian stock exchange [plans] to move to blockchain.
It should be able to fire a few settlement employees and move the record of the purchases and sales of stocks to a distributed ledger (DL), also known as a blockchain – the type of keeping of records that is used by the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

I don't know the details but whatever the details are, I think it's a terrible idea.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Well-defined, quantitatively predictive papers become more popular in average

Like her ex-mentor Lee Smolin, Sabine Hossenfelder really hates modern physics. She wrote another diatribe titled

Research perversions are spreading. You will not like the proposed solution.
Well, I hate not only her proposed solution but also her analysis, her assumptions, her way of thinking that isn't really thinking, her lack of integrity, and everything else that is connected with the deceptive idea that she has anything sensible to say about modern science. In her first paragraph,
Science has a problem. The present organization of academia discourages research that has tangible outcomes, and this wastes a lot of money...
we basically learn that she just hates pure science or basic research, she always did, and she always will. So you may think it's ironic that she was hired as a theoretical physicist, a worker in a field that she absolutely deplores and she has no talent for. How is it possible? Well, it's all about the political correctness. By placing folks like Hossenfelder to positions they have absolutely no prerequisites and no passion for, you not only hurt the science and its effectiveness. You also hurt the people whom you claimed to help. She really suffers.
...However, using the scientific method is suboptimal for a scientist’s career if they are rewarded for research papers that are cited by as many of their peers as possible...
Everything in the real world is "suboptimal" or "imperfect". It was always so, it will always be so, and it has to be so. But doing the scientific method well and being praised by competent enough real-world scientists who have been selected in a meritocratic way and who have real passion for the scientific truth is as good an approximation to the optimal state of affairs as you can get in the real world.

All thinkable alternatives are demonstrably vastly worse. For example, if a researcher considered professionally lousy by her actual colleagues tries to get points by writing the cheapest possible anti-scientific diatribes addressed to the most gullible morons who are willing to read such diatribes at Backreaction, the resulting effect on science is bound to be worse than just suboptimal.

Instead of writing big words about the optimal science, she could start by efforts to become an average scientist – subpar researchers such as herself can only dream about such an outcome.

Dutch film about the Bitcoin religious cult

Pablo C. sent me a link to a fascinating September 2017 Dutch documentary

VPRO Tegenlicht Het Bitcoin evangelie (50 minutes)
which shows that the Bitcoin isn't really a clever new technical solution to a problem. It is a religious cult led by extremely emotional and basically unhinged people who have crazy views about almost everything. The film is in Dutch but most of the interviews are in English. Almost all Dutchmen speak English very well but these bilingual programs show that the Dutch language is basically fading away. For sure, bilingual TV documentaries would be considered absolutely unprofessional – and unusable for TV – in Czechia.

The religious spirit among these people is extremely similar to the religious sect described by young Slovak film director Ms Tereza Nvotová, Take It Jeasy (2008; in Czech: "Jesus is sane/normal"), or documentaries about Guru Čmolík, a guy who collected millions by teaching his clients to chew banknotes to become rich, among similar things. Maybe the claim that the Bitcoin "is the same" is slightly exaggerated but the differences seem to be just in the extent, not in the quality.

Beware: spoilers.

Monday, December 11, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

David Gross: science will survive Pope Urban, Stalin, Hitler, and Trump

Just a comment about some weird statement by a famous guy at a prestigious event.

As Time Magazine told us, in Spring 2016, David Gross started a Trump supporters' dating site, Gross was originally worried that people would think it was a joke or a parody site. But finally, people appreciated that "they can finally go on dates without worrying about political differences".

OK, that was the David Gross who cared about good people, especially the Trump supporters.

Then there's the other David Gross who doesn't seem to care whether people – such as Trump supporters – can do science without worrying about their political affiliations. They look like two entirely different David Grosses, don't they? ;-) When something looks in a certain way, it's sometimes what it looks like, indeed.

Net neutrality is communism, nationalization

Skillful data transmission engineers need to be appreciated, rewarded, have the freedom to profit from their contributions according to their business plans

On Friday, the FCC is expected to vote and cancel the Obama-era net neutrality, a regulation preventing the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from doing their business according to their own ideas and according to their interests – profit-seeking. Net neutrality is the idea that all ISPs are obliged to indiscriminately send the superficially similar packets from any place to any other place for the price that may only depend on the bandwidth and perhaps a few other physical characteristics and nothing else. According to net neutrality, the ISPs mustn't look inside packets – they must pretend that they're only transmitting binary digits.

But ISPs must have the freedom to use their assets according to their own choice. In particular, they should have the freedom not to connect someone if they think that they (the ISPs) are not fairly compensated for the connection. They may prioritize one type of traffic if they find it more important for their business – probably because this kind of business is more important for their profits. The principle expressed in the previous sentence is an application of the basic rules of the market economy, the basic respect to the private ownership.

You know, these companies and the people behind them have either built the infrastructure with all the cables and invented or refined the somewhat smart technology in the routers etc.; or they are shareholders who have bought it. Why did they build it or buy it? Because they saw it was hard work that was likely to produce profit. How does an ISP produce profit? It may decide whether it connects someone to the Internet, or not.

To strip the ISPs of this freedom means to rob the shareholders of these companies of a part of their assets because their assets are partly if not mostly hiding in their ability to connect someone or some company to the Internet under some conditions.

Everyone who is at least three years old should be able to remember that before the 2015 net neutrality regulation, the Internet worked just fine. In fact, we know it worked very well. On the contrary, in recent two years, the ISPs have complained that they lost the incentives to invest into the infrastructure.

Saturday, December 09, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Responsible TRF readers recommended to sell most crypto-stuff today

Futures are keys unlocking cages with horny, hungry Bitcoin grizzlies, tigers that will devour clueless Millennial Bitcoin calves, vegetarian gazelles in their safe spaces

The unbacked cryptocurrencies – led by the Bitcoin as of now – have almost certainly become the most dramatic financial bubble in the world's history. It was possible because the relatively speedy (but not too speedy) financial transactions helped by the computers were combined with the speedy communication between the Millennials – also aided by electronics – that has grown the fanaticism more effectively than the regular conversation during any of the previous bubbles.

The cryptocurrency fever has almost certainly trumped the tulip bulb mania in Holland that ended in 1637, the South Sea Company bubble that grew up to 1720, and the dot-com bubble that burst in 2000 although to some extent, the burst continued for two more years, and a few more events that should have taught us the same lesson. Alan Greenspan has compared the Bitcoin to the first unbacked early "continental U.S. dollars" that dropped to 2% of their price within several years.

I have written some bullish texts – e.g. one claiming that the Bitcoin at $100,000 is compatible with the laws of Nature (that price surely seems significantly more imaginable now than in August) but most of my comments about the Bitcoin have been bearish. I could have imagined several events – forks (that were suspended), Chinese bans, Chinese clever manipulations etc. – to bring the lethal blow that would terminate this whole irrational movement.

Just to be sure, in none of the cases, I was predicting that the individual possible death scenario was more likely than 50%. There have only been possibilities. None of these death scenarios has materialized so far – but yes, the combined probability of "some death before December 2017" of all the lethal scenarios I have predicted over the years is higher than 90% – but the Bitcoin is still around. The same is true for all other Bitcoin bears' comments, too. In fact, I would say that most of the Bitcoin fans have been almost as shocked by the irrational explosive growth of the price as the Bitcoin skeptics ;-) so one shouldn't even say that the Bitcoin fans were "more right" than the skeptics.

Friday, December 08, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lisa Randall on scientists' duties, distractions, opinion bubbles, and Trump

An hour ago, the Wired has published some thoughts by my ex-colleague and occasional TRF guest blogger Lisa Randall

Lisa Randall: 'It's important for people like me to keep doing science and not get distracted'
At the beginning, she deflects a question on Donald Trump but she returns to it at the end – and makes it clear that she is in favor of the climate hysteria and all kinds of misguided regulations. She knows very well that I am convinced she is wrong on every single "standard political" question of this kind.

But her text primarily contains lots of the "unusual ideas" about the science and society which I, for some reasons, find at least equally important. And I agree with a vast majority of her comments.

Thursday, December 07, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Crackpots' lies about cosmic string predictions

Some days ago, I was shocked to learn that the "N*t Even Wr*ng" blog based on painful lies about string theory still exists and that its stuttering perpetrator hasn't been jailed or hanged yet.

There are already two new tirades at Peter W*it's notorious website. The newest one celebrates that a non-expert has described the multiverse as the "last refuge of cowards" at a social event. I think much of the research about the multiverse is questionable but slurs like that won't make the possibility go away. Using some irrelevant expletives from a not really scientific event as "arguments" is low-brow, indeed.

The previous text titled "String theory fails another test" is based on W*it's complete lies about the predictions of cosmic strings by state-of-the-art physical theories.

NiceHash probably stole $65+ million from their users

A recent event has highlighted the hardcore criminal character of the cryptocurrency world.

Up to yesterday, the world's largest shared cryptocurrency mining service was "NiceHash dot com". See that website to figure out that they announced a big hack. Their Bitcoin address was emptied. Some 4,700+ Bitcoins i.e. $65+ million were stolen.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Muslims, leftists, Francis team up to fight U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as IL capital

Donald Trump plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel today. America should start to move the embassy from Tel Aviv immediately. Internally, Israel controls all of Jerusalem, treats it as her capital, and has institutions over there. Palestinians also call it (al-Quds and) their capital and most of the international community agrees with the Palestinians and disagrees with the reality which is that Jerusalem has been Israel's capital for quite some time.

Well, there are two good exceptions now and the pioneering one gets overlooked often. ;-) Current Czech president Zeman has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital for years. Lots of other Czech politicians agree and in May, the Czech Parliament voted and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The lawmakers also criticized UNESCO for its having become a tool of the Palestinian terrorists.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hillary Diane Andales wins the Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Our candidate gets a well-deserve award

In October 2016, I discussed kids' contributions to the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. They were supposed to record a 5-minute video on string theory or science in general in order to win $250,000.

Well, those 13 months ago, I went through a dozen of videos and decided that Hillary Diane Andales of the Philippines was the best scientist-filmmaker in this age group on this blue, not green planet. Her video about the path integral was cute, insightful, yet intellectually mature and one could see that she was a real deal, not just a movie star. She has described the classical limit in an intuitive way that mostly persuaded me that "she must really be getting it" and was excited that Feynman's formulation applies to all interacting systems in the Universe including the corporations. Hillary got a positive score from me for the detailed physics as well as the corporations. She has been successful in some mathematical olympiads and related things, too.

Up to some irrelevant permutations and invisible yellow Suns, Filipino high school students are my countrymates. Even folks in Chile (not to mention Slovaks) should be jealous of the Czech-Filipino fraternity.

So I just told those Milner folks – through our common friend, Vovka Putin, of course: There is a billion of kids in the world but give those damn $250,000 to Hillary Diane Andales! And we were also honored by the visit of Hillary herself, our candidate. And John Archer treated her in his characteristic Gentlemanly way, too, and so on.

Kenya: The ark of lights and shadow

...and the eyes of the tiger...

Last night, I went to a lecture by Mr Jan Svatoš, a film director behind The Ark of Lights and Shadows, a movie about wildlife in Africa.

Katy Perry's African video with 2.4 billion views was placed here because unlike some other celebrities, she recently listened to Warren Buffett's critical wisdom about the Bitcoin.

The movie celebrates both the wildlife and the emotional life of the animals in African bushes as well as Martin and Osa Johnson, early American adventurers and basically the main forefathers of all the wild life documentaries at National Geographic and elsewhere. Svatoš has obtained lots of material related to the Johnsons from the Library of the U.S. Congress. I have learned some interesting things.