Monday, August 20, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Invasion of Czechoslovakia: 50 years

During the night between August 20th and August 21st, 1968, i.e. exactly 50 years ago, Czechoslovakia was invaded by the troops of 5 Warsaw Pact countries led by the Soviet Union (the current president Zeman has provoked many by pointing out that the Ukrainians were heavily overrepresented in this "Soviet" portion of the occupying forces). In the maneuver technically named Operation Danube, Soviets were accompanied by Poles, East Germans, Hungarians, and Bulgarians. Yugoslavia and Albania had already been separated from the Soviet bloc for years. Romania wasn't but its leader Ceausescu boldly refused to participate at that time.

Alexander Dubček, a softcore Slovak communist who led the Czechoslovak Communist Party during the Prague Spring, the first communist in the Christian Heaven, as an article put it. Around 2000, a U.S. taxi driver has taught me that his death in 1992 was engineered by the "multinationals". ;-) Over the years, I drifted to thinking that this amusing chap was less nutty than originally thought.

The year of socialism with a human face, democratization, liberalization, and solid steps towards democracy and capitalism – the so-called Prague Spring (when pro-reform softcore communists were formally in power but truly non-communist folks had already a huge and growing influence over the public discourse) – was abruptly ended by 500,000 troops who were brainwashed to believe that they were going to stop a violent counterrevolution. Czechoslovakia used to have a really nontrivial, large, advanced army so it could have inflicted huge losses to the enemies. But at the end, no one doubted that any defense would be suicidal. We didn't defend ourselves in 1938 and 1939, so almost everyone agreed that there should be no organized violent defense in 1968, either. Although the radio stations were truly patriotic, they kept on repeating "Don't try to physically resist the enemies". That pragmatic approach is a part of the modern Czech national character. This apparent lack of courage – or the victory of pragmatism over pride and emotions – is sometimes embarrassing but I would still say that the overall sign of it is positive. It's one of the reasons why people may still admire the historical heritage of Prague, among other things.

It was five years before I was born. I was partly born due to the pro-natality policies of the post-occupation president Gustáv Husák – so my generation is referred to as Husák's children. Despite my flawless right-wing credentials, I can't eliminate the gratitude to these pro-Brezhnev comrades for my life, of course. ;-)

Saturday, August 18, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A healthy economy can't guarantee a fixed share of wealth

In December 2017, on the day when the Bitcoin price reached the all time high (ATH) near $20,000, we had a party organized by the Václav Klaus Institute. The hype was at the top on that day as well (the searches for the Bitcoin dropped by 90% since that month) and most "investors" bought their Bitcoins in that month – and have lost 2/3 of it so far. The cryptocurrencies were one of the topics at the party, some economists agreed with my skeptical attitude. But one "classical liberal" guy who didn't was Marek L. He disputed my assertion that the Bitcoin movement is a left-wing one, a form of collectivist communism.

He said: The wealth isn't owned by everybody, is it? Someone has the Bitcoin, someone doesn't.

So far so good. But the Bitcoin movement isn't about owning something – or owning anything. It's a movement that considers the fiat money – and other usual forms of wealth including the stocks – to be their big enemy. The whole point of the Bitcoin cult is about the alleged advantages of the Bitcoin relatively to the fiat money, about the differences between the two. I say that the movement is a left-wing one mainly because the intrinsic value of the Bitcoin is by definition zero and for the whole carnival to exist, the users need a collectivist brainwashing designed to persuade every participant that the Bitcoin price should be over $6,000 (or a similar huge number) instead. The Bitcoin comes with no assets or guarantees that would back it up but for some miraculous reasons, people are supposed to believe and repeat that the price will always be highly separated from $0. It's just like the de facto mandatory praising of the worthless comrades in communism. Everyone has to say that the emperor has nice new clothes.

Now, Vitalik Buterik is the creator of the Ethereum, the 2nd largest cryptocurrency after the Bitcoin by capitalization, and almost certainly the greatest known contributor to the cryptocurrency ideas. The Ethereum is really smarter than the Bitcoin in some nontrivial ways. And no one knows for sure who was (or were) Satoši Nakamoto or Luboshi Nakamotl or what was the name of the creator of the Bitcoin.

Friday, August 17, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

In celebration of laziness

Last Tuesday, Elon Musk was feeling desperate when he realized that the shortsellers were surely right. So he published the fateful tweet about going private. He would find $72 billion in a trash can and buy the whole Tesla for $420 a piece (now he owns 20% of the company). The stock jumped by more than 10% because a huge number of the Tesla "investors" are incapable of figuring out that such a plan was clearly nonsensical.

In the following days, Musk admitted that he hadn't "secured the funding". He was just "seeking" it. Before the Tweet, the board hadn't heard about any proposed source of the funding, either – this is arguably enough to prove that Musk has committed securities fraud because a "secured funding" would have needed an approval by the board. And he wanted to rely on current investors' "staying" in the new "private" form in some strange, unspecified way. Musk also said that Saudis, Goldman Sachs, and Silver Lake were assisting him with the buyout plan. All of them later denied it. And do you think that Trump would applaud such a big Saudi investment in the U.S.? An investment from the same country that has funded the Islamic State and bought Hillary Clinton? Also, Musk has violated the law by having blocked some Twitter users because all of them had the right to get the vital Tesla news – e.g. about the buyout – from the official source, Twitter, at the same moment.

During the recent days, a majority has figured out that what he wrote was just an immature and criminal deceitful message driven by his hatred towards the shortsellers and there's no good reason to look for any substance behind the tweet – just like there is no substance behind almost any hype we hear from Tesla.

Today, Musk needed the stock price to drop by 9% to $305 or so, exactly 20% below the post-tweet price of the last Tuesday (yes, the current price is already well below the pre-tweet value), so he gave an interview to the New York Times. The most recent year was "excruciating" and the worse one, we were told. Well, it was an average one: it was worse than the previous years but much better than the following ones.

Maddoff got 150 years for his frauds – there's no reason for Musk not to match Maddoff. The SEC is investigating both Tesla's board and Musk personally because of many cases of wrongdoing, not just the tweet. Another line of investigation revolves around Musk's misleading information given to the investors about the production of Model 3.

In the interview, Musk says that he calculated the price $420 by adding a 20% premium to the pre-tweet price and rounding the resulting $419. No weed was used at that moment, he claims.

Scientists really mustn't pick answers according to the public perception

A stringy summer workshop paid by Jim Simons is underway in Stony Brook, Long Island, New York. Cumrun Vafa – who arguably has the closest personal relationship with Simons (a rich guy and achieved mathematician) among the string theorists – is introducing (almost?) all the talks.

One of the talks was given by Thomas Van Riet. He presents some reasons to doubt the KKLT construction. Lots of his equations are very specific. I think it's clear he knows all the warping factors and terms in the potential etc. at least as well as Team Stanford. Thomas wrote a 2014 TRF guest blog about the very same issue and you may compare the talk with the text and decide how much progress has been made in almost 4 years.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Deep thinkers build conjectures upon conjectures upon 5+ more floors

Among the world's string theorists, Sheldon Cooper has given the most accurate evaluation (as far as I can say) of the critics of string theory:

While I have no respect for Leslie [Winkle, a subpar scientist designed to resemble a hybrid of Sabine Hossenfelder and Lee Smolin] as a scientist or a human being for that matter we have to concede her undeniable expertise in the interrelated fields of promiscuity and general sluttiness.
Not even Edward Witten has ever put it this crisply. Winkle has rightfully thanked Sheldon for that praise. Well, I also don't have any respect for the string theory haters as scientists or human beings, for that matter. But I am regularly reminded that the disagreement is much deeper than different opinions about some technical questions. It's a disagreement about the basic ethical and value system.

Monday, August 13, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Search for ETs is more speculative than modern theoretical physics

Edwin has pointed out a new tirade against theoretical physics,

Theoretical Physics Is Pointless without Experimental Tests,
that Abraham Loeb published at pages of Scientific American which used to be an OK journal some 20 years ago. The title itself seems plagiarized from Deutsche or Aryan Physics – which may be considered ironic for Loeb who was born in Israel. And in fact, like his German role models, Loeb indeed tries to mock Einstein as well – and blame his mistakes on the usage of thought experiments:
Einstein made great discoveries based on pure thought, but he also made mistakes. Only experiment and observation could determine which was which.

Albert Einstein is admired for pioneering the use of thought experiments as a tool for unraveling the truth about the physical reality. But we should keep in mind that he was wrong about the fundamental nature of quantum mechanics as well as the existence of gravitational waves and black holes...
Loeb has a small, unimportant plus for acknowledging that Einstein was wrong on quantum mechanics. However, as an argument against theoretical physics based on thought experiments and on the emphasis on the patient and careful mental work in general, the sentences above are at most demagogic.

The fact that Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, gravitational waves, or black holes don't imply anything wrong about the usage of thought experiments and other parts of modern physics. There's just no way to credibly show such an implication. Other theorists have used better thought experiments, have thought about them more carefully, and some of them have correctly figured out that quantum mechanics had to be right and gravitational waves and black holes had to exist.

The true fathers of quantum mechanics, especially Werner Heisenberg, were really using Einstein's new approach based on thought experiments, principles, and just like Einstein, they carefully tried to remove the assumptions about physics that couldn't have been operationally established (such as the absolute simultaneity killed by special relativity; and the objective existence of values of observables before an observation, killed by quantum mechanics).

Note that gravitational waves as well as black holes were detected many decades after their theoretical discovery. The theoretical discoveries almost directly followed from Einstein's equations. So Einstein's mistakes meant that he didn't trust (his) theory enough. It surely doesn't mean and cannot mean that Einstein trusted theories and theoretical methods too much. Because Loeb has made this wrong conclusion, it's quite some strong evidence in favor of a defect in Loeb's central processing unit.

Sunday, August 12, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Parker Solar Probe will touch the Sun

But won't it break?

Can you encounter redheads in Czechia? You bet. Over percent – and around two percent at some places.

Czech-German singer Debbi (Deborah Kahl) wanted to Touch the Sun – while others wanted to use the song to touch Metaxa, a fancy Greek alcoholic beverage. She was standing on shoulders of giants but it wasn't full-blown plagiarism because Erin McKeown is a redhead, too. McKeown named her song Slung-Lo but she clearly meant the gravitational slingshot.

Friday, August 10, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Quintessence is a form of dark energy

Tristan asked me what I thought about Natalie Wolchover's new Quanta Magazine article,

Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory,
exactly when I wanted to write something. Well, first, I must say that I already wrote a text about this dispute, Vafa, quintessence vs Gross, Silverstein, in late June 2018. You may want to reread the text because the comments below may be considered "just an appendix" to that older text. Since that time, I exchanged some friendly e-mails with Cumrun Vafa. I am obviously more skeptical towards their ideas than they are but I think that I have encountered some excessive certainty of some of their main critics.

Wolchover's article sketches some basic points about this rather important disagreement about cosmology among string theorists. But there are some very unfortunate details. The first unfortunate detail appears in the title. Wolchover actually says that "dark energy might be incompatible with string theory". That's the statement she seems to attribute to Cumrun Vafa and co-authors.

Thursday, August 09, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Most references to long-term thinking are just Marxist delusions

These days, we've heard the phrase "long-term thinking" from Elon Musk and his fans. But I am running – and many of you must be running – to various arguments where the opponents refer to the "long-term thinking" and "long-term visions" very often.

Just to be sure: I am not saying that there is a universal law or a logical argument that would imply that "long-term thinking" must always be an excuse for Marxist delusions. I am not even saying that I am avoiding references to "long-term thinking", "long-term perspective", "long-term visions", and so on. Each of us, including your humble correspondent, often has to distinguish the perspectives associated with short and long timescales.

But yes, I am saying that in more than 90% of the real-world situations in which "long-term thinking" is used as an argument or a slogan meant to settle a controversial issue, the users of that phrase are Marxists or very analogously deluded leftists who just don't have a clue how the world works (or who pretend not to have a clue) or people who suffer from a totalitarian megalomania or more ordinary people who simply want to justify their laziness.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Market manipulation: psychopath Musk remains at large

Forget about the heroic diver's being a "pedo". Forget about the requests sent to the suppliers to return the money they have received for their parts. Forget even about the totally disgusting, Smolinesque blackmailing by Musk who demanded a critic named Montana Skeptic to be fired by his employer (a Tesla fan) if he's not silenced. Montana Skeptic was actually silenced. It's just absolutely terrifying.

Now, Musk has gone to an entirely new level. He hates the people people who short his company because they dare to point out that Tesla is insanely overvalued – and they are willing to support this proposition with their money. And they don't call Musk a Messiah which is what he's used to from his low-IQ fans.

On top of that, he needs the stock price to be above $359 or so, otherwise the maturity of some special $900 million convertible bond will be much more costly in Fall 2018. So why wouldn't he manipulate the price by claiming that the right price should be $420?

Now, 420 is slang for "marijuana". On April 20th (4/20), leftists celebrate the Marijuana Day and they get high – and therefore ready for April 22nd, Lenin's Earth Day. It is also the country code to call my Czech homeland – where people may hold 15 grams and 5 plants of marijuana legally (so the same number 420 doesn't have to be a coincidence). He may always say that he was just joking. But it was totally obvious that the market – filled with "investors" who are low-IQ fans of Musk – would react. And it did. The price jumped by some 10% towards $380 or so, matching the previous all time high.

(By the way, the cryptocurrency prices dropped some 10% in recent 24 hours. These two price changes could be related. The same "investors" could have sold the Bitcoin and buy Tesla yesterday.)

Monday, August 06, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

What's the right way to stop the Big Tech censorship?

Breaking up companies? Quotas on Republicans? Reclassification of them as utilities? Raids on headquarters? New taxes/fines for their harm against right-wingers? Removal of the U.S. citizenship for CEOs?

I am no listener of Alex Jones – maybe he sounds too tough or too non-intellectual to me (and, despite the vague ideological agreement with general political things, I would probably label many of his musings "dumb conspiracy theories") – but today's ban of his and Infowars pages, channels, profiles, and Podcasts by Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and (now also) YouTube (look at the creepy error message shown to 2+ million followers!) all did the same thing within 12 hours – a clear collusion by a cartel) is a clear sign that the freedom of speech (especially for right-wingers) is dying in the U.S.

(Hours later, Jones was also removed from LinkedIn and Pinterest.)

Ironically enough, this dying – escalated by this ban that Matt Drudge predicted years ago – has accelerated under the Republican president Trump. Infowars were basically given no specific explanation of the reasons. Terms of Service violated. Hate speech. Whatever. Four biggest Internet companies suddenly made the conclusion at the same moment.

You may watch Alex Jones' reactions live now. I've watched it for 20 minutes now – it's spectacular, it looks like he was preparing for this day for 25 years.
Lots of related information may be found on the Twitter account of a VIP employee of Infowars, Paul Joseph Watson, whom I like, admire, sometimes follow, and I surely endorse all his comments about these events.

Some people defend similar policies by saying that the companies are private and they can ban anyone they want. There's some true core in this statement. But every sane and sensitive person must feel that it doesn't sound right. Why it doesn't sound right? These Big Tech companies are clearly introducing political censorship to the whole U.S. political landscape. Why is it exactly wrong what they're doing?

Sunday, August 05, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Food scanner scams: non-physicists overestimate the "diversity of food"

They also underestimate the importance of expertise, experience

Hours ago, Thunderf00t posted a wonderful new 50-minute-long video:

ThunderF00t chooses "Pražská vodka", i.e. the "Vodka of Prague", as his template for an ethanol-water mixture. He deserves special compliments for that. That Czech vodka is based on the 1978 diploma thesis of Ing. Eugen Skalický at Prague's University of Chemical Technology and uses the Highland (Vysočina) Wheat to produce the ethanol. It's been Czechia's bestselling vodka, is still near the top, but I have no idea how he got one unless he is just visiting my homeland.

It shows how utterly useless two smartphone-based, StarTrek-based food scanners or spectroscopes are – and why their crowdfunding campaigns that had collected $3 million and $0.4 million must be considered scams.

These two bogus revolutionary products, TellSpec and Scio, cost $149 or $250 (plus $1,000 for software etc.), respectively. You point them to a food, some photons are reflected, the spectrum is evaluated, and you know what's inside the foor or pills perfectly, the nutrition values, and everything else.