Thursday, January 30, 2014

Czech surgeons: Schumacher's chances to be what he was before nearly zero

The dishonesty of the defenders of helmets

I would love if they turned out to be wrong. But several independent Czech neurosurgeons were interviewed and independently of each other, they quantified Michael Schumacher's chances to wake up as a sane capable human to be nearly zero. Four weeks is just too long. The neurons are dying, and so on. The experts are saying that Schumacher is unfortunately more likely to follow the example of Ariel Sharon. I've been informed about some impressive operations by these folks so I trust their expertise quite a lot. Their top British colleague Richard Greenwood says that Schumacher won't be the same man even if he survives.

A problem with DISQUS comments? free polls 

Two thirds of TRF readers don't see DISQUS comments and can't post them. Sorry for that. I have no idea what is the cause or how to fix it. Hat tip: Bill Z.

Recall that it's claimed that speed didn't play much role. He was brought to an artificial coma to reduce the pressure and oxygen within the brain. I feel that they should have tried to wake him up earlier. Recent reports say that they were trying to wake him since Tuesday and the initial reactions looked encouraging but the rumors were mostly rejected by the Grenoble doctors so they're probably inaccurate, to say the least.

I want to mention one topic: the helmet. After his accident, some media were full of claims that the helmet had saved his life, and all this stuff.

I've heard some hardcore defenders of the helmets everywhere who would say how wonderful they were – and how horrible the accidents may be without helmets. You don't necessarily just kill yourself; you may survive and become a cripple for the rest of your life which is worse than life, I would hear, and so on.

Unfortunately, it may seem now that the latter is what happened *with* the helmet. I may even imagine that the helmet may have caused the problems.

Don't get me wrong. I tend to believe – because of the mechanical simulations of the collisions I can do in my head – that the statistical conclusion should say that a helmet increases the average chances to survive and to be fine - if all other things are equal. But there are three problems with this argument if you want to extract a recommendation from it: individual events are not the same thing as the expectation value; the helmet may reduce the good feelings; and other things are not equal.

Concerning the latter point, a helmet may allow you to be more irresponsible, careless, and perhaps faster (although speed is claimed not to have played a role) and these things may compensate or even overcompensate the positive impact of the helmet.

Concerning the first point, there may be contexts in which the helmet may help you to harm yourself even if other things are equal. And there may be cases in which a speedy death is actually the solution you might prefer. And many people are skiing or biking etc. so safely or so slowly etc. that a helmet is redundant.

Concerning the second, middle point, a helmet may simply be unpleasant, reduces the circulation of the air, adds some undesirable pressure, and so on. And these things simply do matter to humans, too. It makes no sense for other people to tell someone that the foe of helmet doesn't care if he clearly does care. Needless to say, the rationalization of the Big Government or regulation in general is all about the overlooking of one side of the coin. For example, all the benefits of the fossil fuels are neglected and all the costs of the carbon caps or taxes are denied when global warming radicals defend their orthodoxy.

Most importantly, there is statistical empirical evidence that the skyrocketing use of ski helmets hasn't actually reduced the brain injuries.

To summarize, I have a big problem with similar "one size fits all" safety policies. I think that if people prefer not to wear helmets or follow other recommendations on safety, they usually compare their costs and benefits rather sensibly (the same thing holds for smoking and other things) and it's wrong for others to impose their "expectation values" stereotypes on them – because of their human freedom and because of their specifics by which they may differ from the "average person" in the statistics. And because sometimes the recommendations aren't backed even by the aggregate data.

More importantly, I've had a big problem with the dishonesty of the ideological promoters of the helmets (and a more regulated society, to generalize it) because this was a story that hasn't so far confirmed their point but they were still eager to spin the story in a way so that they might have pretended that their point was strengthened. So far, it wasn't.

A complete coincidence (added later): a few hours after I wrote this blog entry, Czech TV NOVA showed ex-president Václav Klaus, a very good skier, who has explained why he has no helmet and that he hasn't needed one for 70 years. ;-) He believes that up to the end of his life, he will be able to "complete the knocking" without a helmet. Some "experts" said that he should have one not just because of his style but because of other skiers who may knock him down. They didn't convince Klaus: "Unless the European Union commands me to wear a helmet and distributes members of the Helmet Police around the slopes, I just won't place a helmet on my head." :-) To have the last word, the reporters informed about a Czech skier who may have been saved by a helmet after an accident today.

U.K. bank won't pay you your money if they don't like your "reason"

I was stunned to read a story at Petr Hájek's Counterstream. See The Daily Mail for the original story. HSBC, a British bank, won't pay you something like more than GBP 3,000 of your own money if they decide that you haven't given them a satisfactory reason why you want the money.

Holy cow. It's the very meaning of "the money's being mine" that I can decide what to do with it regardless of whether or not a corrupt asshole or any other person not equal to myself likes it. This new policy is nothing else than theft and the people responsible for that must be treated as big-scale criminals because billions of pounds are being held hostage and used for blackmailing in this way. However, I am afraid that these organized criminals are so well organized that they will be backed by their fellow criminals in the government who will "argue" that stealing your money in this way is good to fight against crime or something like that, and the rabble within the electorate that votes for this scum will okay these immoral would-be justifications, too. I am really shocked that the HSBC officials who invented this plot haven't been arrested yet. They deserve life in prison.

HSBC deserves to go out of business. I surely recommend the clients of HSBC to gradually remove their money from the bank because the evidence suggests that they may change the rules in similarly dramatic ways whenever they want and steal everything from you.


  1. Yes or to put it another way I think there are two probabilities to consider. The first is the probability of having an accident. The second is the probability that conditional on an accident the injury is severe. With helmets I can believe that the first probability is lower but the second probability is higher than without helmets. Clearly the unconditional probability of a severe accident is the product of these two. It would be interesting to know what these probabilities are for helmet and no-helmet skiers and which one therefore has the higher unconditional probability.

    By the way, I would be against a "one size fits all policy" because my head is very big.

  2. Well, good, there are different types of accidents and injuries and different correlations with other things.

    But an important point I insist on is that an individual's decision to wear or not to wear a helmet isn't and shouldn't be just about these safety figures.

  3. My twin brother (not identical) was hit by a car while he was on his bike in 1981, at the age of 21 and broke his collar bone. He also hit his head. 40 days later he came out of his comma. He spent the next several years learning to talk and walk all over again. He was not wearing a helmet.
    It was a difficult time for my family. I barely remember what he was like before the accident. He is doing fine now relatively speaking.
    I ride my bike a lot. Mater of fact I rarely drive any more and have only spent $10 on gas this entire century so far (and I don't even believe in global warming).
    I refuse to wear a bike helmet even though it is the law of the province of B.C. Canada. There are various reasons which I may expand upon later.

  4. Lubos,

    Are you a skier? I do 40 days per year, and know a number of ski patrol leaders and some insurance people in the business.

    The reports of increased head injuries are 'merely' a result of increased reporting and paper pushing in the industry. Where a decade ago someone would hit their head, go unconscious and ski away, they are now taken in for scans, etc. This is likely a good thing, but the stats go crazy.

    Coming up with meaningful stats is not easy. Note how the NYT link you supply does not quote the death percentage due to head injuries. If helmets work, then this percentage should drop. I take it that this is the case due to the obvious lack of mentioning of this in the story. Another article by NYT written with the conclusion in mind.

  5. I am just an occasional cross-country skier, and was Alpine skier just twice in my life LOL.

    Do you actually have better numbers that imply that the injuries are reduced, or is it just a "conceivable" speculation of yours?

  6. ironic - raced at speeds over 300km/h and then a slow speed impact and now this...
    I worked on a intensive care once, had two patients with cerebral haemorrhage following injury parallel for about 3 weeks - at the end one died - the other woke from the coma and seemed fine and gave a hughe party for the ICU staff

  7. Right... and tough, important work. I still don't understand whether the doctors care less about seeing death and suffering. I couldn't do the job, I guess. The physicians must be more OK with such things, right? But then this sort of contradicts the idea that they're also the people who have a greater desire to help others from the pain and dying. If they find life and health so important, they should suffer more when seeing the tough things than others, shouldn't they? ;-)

  8. The content of your blog is great. But it looks like its from the 90s, cant you update the looks a little, its extremely slow to load, and the main column takes up 30% of the screen instead of 80%. Also, I think it would be good if you had two separate sections of your blog, or a filter , like a) physics, and b) rants about climate and politics etc

  9. I recall reading somewhere-but I don't recall where-some research that found that bicycle helmets *increased* the rate of bicycle accidents and injuries, because they increased reckless behavior by people who thought, "eh, I'm wearing a helmet, so I'm safe."

    I don't know if that would happen with skiing, too, but it seems plausible!

  10. A social advocate makes virtue of failure. The worse the cure the better the treatment - and the more that is required. If every minor must wear a helmet while bicycling, and a helmet costs $(USD)100 each, then about $8 billion has been spent on thelr helmets. If this saves 1000 lives (ridiculously optimistic), that is $8 million/life. That's crap. Make ti voluntary.

    If I chose to have zero airbags in my car instead of ten, I cede healthcare insurance coverage if I am injured in an accident. Let the market decide virtual costs while real costs plummet. More to the point, If I am injured by airbags, I get a cash bonus of all healthcare costs paid. If you want something to work, bill Customer Service to Engineering Design.

  11. AndreFromMontrealJan 30, 2014, 7:47:00 PM

    Thank you for this post Luboš.

    Let’s just say that people enjoy life at different paces... I cannot dare imagining the faith of Felipe Massa when he was struck by debris, at the Hungarian Grand Prix of July 2009. Like I cannot dare imagining what would have been mine when, riding to work on Sherbrooke street (a boulevard), I came face-to-face with a
    careless rambler. The result for me was a broken elbow and a wrecked custom made Marinoni, for him, a worthless city bike and a concussion; he did not wear a helmet. Even thou I had to endure physio treatment and put a decent amount of money for a new bike, in this endeavour, I really do not think that I am the one who paid the highest price.

    But I understand your point; were I live, in Montreal, Canada, it is still my choice to wear a helmet or not and it is fine this way.

    For Michael Shumacher I will say: This is often the faith of those who shine hard. Godspeed to him.

  12. There are entire clans of Roma people in eastern Europe that swarm out over western Europe to defraud the elderly. They scour the telephone directories for people with old-sounding first names, then ring them up and, using a set of tried and tested techniques, get them to believe that they are their long-lost nephew/grandchild/whatever. These people are absolutely ruthless and extremely effective, they become rich beyond imagining. The old man or woman (usually it's a woman because they live longer) is induced to go to the bank and withdraw their entire savings so that they can give the money to a "representative" of the "nephew" for an "emergency loan". Of course, they never see a penny of it again.

    Rather than assume, as the suspicious commenters below the Daily Mail article do, that HSBC is requiring an explanation for withdrawals because they are short of cash (in fact, no bank has anywhere near enough cash to pay out the balances to account holders), I would think that this was a well-intentioned policy, designed to protect the elderly from scams, that has been incompetently applied by local staff.

  13. This scam seems to have actually originated in Japan, where it is known under the "Ore Ore Sagi" ("It's me" scam). I remember it being discussed about a decade ago. It seems that these kind of "creative ideas" eventually find their way to the more backward parts of the world. Here is an example of how it is done:

  14. Off topic. Today's Polish newspaper "Rzeczpospolita" has an interview with the leader of "The Right Sector", an ultra-nationalist Ukrainian group that has been involved in a lot of hard fighting with Yanukovich's thugs from the Berkut. I have translated the interview and have decided to post it here without a comment, except for noting that his thinking seems rather similar to one regular commenter on this blog.

    Q: Why flags of UPA fly over the Maidan as well as portraits of Stepen Bandera?

    Q: Why do flags of UPA and portraits of Stepen Bandera fly over the Maidan?

    Andrij Tarasenko: Our organisation, The Right Sector, carries the name of Bandera. He is the symbol of the revolutionary struggle for the independence of our country. If it were not for him, the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) would not have existed and without OUN there would be no independent Ukraine today. Our nation lived for hundreds of years lived under the occupation of various empires and those who fought for liberation united around great heroes: Mazepa, Petlura, Bandera. The same it true today.

    Q: For the inhabitants of east Ukraine Bandera is, however, not a hero but a traitor. Would it not be better to find someone who unites Ukrainians rather than divides them?

    Andrij Tarasenko: It is not Bandera who divides Ukrainians but the propaganda of imperial Russia. Moscow always acted on the principle:divide and rule. That’s why it presented Bandera in negative light. If not for that Bandera would unite today all Ukrainians. I myself come from the east, but I am a follower of Bandera.

    Q: However, Bandera was the inspirator of the Volhynia massacres, as a result of which more that 100,000 Poles were murdered. Isn’t he responsible for genocide?

    Andrij Tarasenko: This is rubbish. I know exactly the history of UPA and know that this is simply false. Admittedly, Bandera recommended using radical methods, but one has to resist the occupier by all means. Particularly when the occupier does not want to leave your land.

    Q: But these were the years of war so is hard to claim that the Poles were “occupiers”.

    Andrij Tarasenko: Our country was occupied by Germans, Poles, Rumanians, Hungarians and Russians.

    Q: Poland is today the most important ally of Ukraine in its fight for independence. Isn’t it for this reason a tactical mistake to display on the Maidan the symbols of UPA?

    Andrij Tarasenko: I understand this but we are Bandera men and we cannot give up our convictions for tactical reasons.

    Q: Are the current borders of Ukraine just ones?

    Andrij Tarasenko: A nationalist is someone who aims at united all the ethnic lands of his nation, those where Ukrainians lived for thousands of years. Otherwise he cannot be called a nationalist. After the war the “Operation Vistula” caused Ukrainians to be expelled from these ethnic lands but justice demands that they should return to Ukraine. I am speaking about Przemyśl and a number of other districts.

    Q: How do you intend to achieve this.

    Andrij Tarasenko: My diplomatic means. We are not an imperial nation, we do not demand the lands of others, we want only what is our own.

    Q: However, one cannot be a member of the EU and at the same time demand the change of borders.

    Andrij Tarasenko: The place of Ukraine is not in the Union; this would be contrary to the idea of the national state. Anyway, even in Poland there are many people dissatisfied with the fact that the international structures limit the country’s sovereignty.

    Q: Ukraine will not be safe balancing between Russia and Western Europe.

    Andrij Tarasenko:: That’s why we must have nuclear weapons. We have may experts in Ukraine who can restore them very quickly.

    Q: When will the Maidan revolution end?

    Andrij Tarasenko: When Yanukovich leaves. In order to achieve this, we are ready to use all means, even the most radical ones. This is what Bandera did. Yanukovich understands only force and if had not used it, he would not have offered negotiations.

  15. Last week a doctor friend of mine was supervising putting a fence around a plot of land trying to shelter her garden from roaming dogs. She said : "I would hate to see a dog decapitate a cat ( feral cats) which happened to my niece. You would think that I have seen many people dying and should not worry for animals, but I hurt for anything live dying" . ( She is a good pathologoanatomist ). I think they can control their empathy weighing the good they do versus the pain of watching pain. ( the good doctors of course).

  16. Interesting. I got stuck in a funny infinite loop when I read about a "fence around a plot" because "plot" means "fence" in Czech. ;-)

  17. --not a case of caring is habituation, which occurs naturally in most cases and is essential for working effectively in emergency departments, and for surgeons, ICU intensivists, hospice docs, oncologists etc. If you are emoting all over the place when someone is bleeding badly, or having an MI, that person is in trouble.

  18. I don't think that helmets should be compulsory, but there is another reason for our system, health care is paid for by taxes (and lotteries) by the government in large part. People in an accident who do not wear helmets (or seat belts), for example, will cost much more for society. For the same reason, people should get vaccinated for polio, measles etc---herd immunity, and the greater good ( There, that is my sop to John Stuart Mill :))
    I have to consider though whether or not these things should be compulsory.

  19. Dear Eugene, your story about Roma people calling old people in Western Europe sounds like one of these false rumour to me ;-). Can they speak other languages without accent? I heard a few news item of this kind but not with Roma people... just some local thieves.

    Regarding HSBC they are doing what the IMF is advising them to do. All banks will do it eventually. It is less outrageous than openly stealing money from people's savings accounts I suppose. Still it stinks. This is the way Europe is going.

  20. Dear Shannon, I think you are unaware of how vulnerable lonely, confused people in their eighties and nineties can be. The perpetrators know how to play on these vulnerabilities, accent or no accent.

    Last month, the online edition of German newsmagazine SPIEGEL published a piece of investigative journalism about a clan of Roma based in Poland that specializes in this racket -- -- and a television documentary (a two-minute trailer of which is included with the article).

    Sorry, no time to translate it, but I can offer to clear up parts that are unclear after you run the page through Google Translate.

  21. Let's just call them "swindlers". I don't believe the gypsies have a monopoly on this behaviour.

    About a month ago I answered a 7am call from (000)-000-0000. My wife was out of the country so I thought it might have been her.
    Turns out it was a "call center" informing me I had a "security breach" on my PC and they wanted to help me fix it. Click.

    But they're still calling back. Interesting that the younger generation can smell a rat a mile away. My 12yr old son hung up immediately.

  22. Dear Eugene, in Cyprus, in addition to the tax on savings above 100000, it was forbidden last year (still is?) to write cheques and to withdraw more than 300 Euros per day per bank account to avoid flight of capital and so Cyprus could get EU help of 10 billions Euros. They were not allowed to withdraw more than 5000 Euros abroad either.
    I personally think that HSBC is inspired by this... as all banks are.

  23. It is interesting how you bring forward how old people are vulnerable and lonely to make it sound more awful. . Novelangue? Newspeak ?... or plain brain control ?
    In reality any newspapers, any day contains these types of nasty news items.

  24. Actually, the number of scams aimed at old people is clearly proportional to the percentage of old people in a population. This is very easy to observe by anyone (like myself) who has lived in Japan. Scams in Japan (like "ore ore sagI") are now overwhelmingly aimed at old people, which is due to the fact that Japan has the largest percentage of old people in the world, and the fastest ageing population. (However, it will be overtaken in this respect by China thanks to China's years of "one child" policy. The difference is, that the old Japanese are on the whole wealthy and the Chinese are poor. )

    Every single thing that Eugene has written can be actually verified in Japan and that includes measures that have been taken by banks. In fact, Japanese banks now require customers to take "senility tests" (that many find rater humiliating) before they can perform many quite basic operations.

  25. Thanks, lucretius. According to this article in the Swiss-German newsweekly Weltwoche -- -- one clan based in Poland is responsible for all "nephew/grandson" scams in Germany.

    Regardless, I find it extremely unlikely that HSBC is making it harder for people to withdraw money from their accounts for reasons of liquidity (if that's what Shannon is suggesting, I'm not sure).

    HSBC is not one of the banks that needed government assistance during the recent financial crisis. Like all the other global banking behemoths, it has not escaped scandal, but its reputation by comparison to the other giants is quite good.

  26. Actually, it has been my bank in the UK since long before it became HSBC (it used to be called Midland Bank). Like other British banks, it has some weird and irritating rules (e.g. I can only transfer money from my account to an account abroad but if I want to transfer it to an account in the UK I have to take out cash or rather ask my sister to do so for me because I don't live in the UK) but it is still vastly more flexible than a Japanese bank (even though it can't match a Japanese bank for politeness of service).

  27. This thread has again brought to my mind something that I have noticed many times. It is quite shocking and depressing to notice how little awareness there is, even on this blog, of the consequences of having an ageing population not only for a country but for the whole Western civilization. In fact, it seems to me obvious that this is by far the greatest danger facing the West (and, of course, not only the West), which nobody has the slightest idea how to deal with (except by importing even larger numbers of Muslim immigrants) but instead idiots (even if they have above average IQ) discuss what are by comparison pseudo-problems like climate change, overpopulation and other such diversions.

    One consequence of this is already noticeable at Polish universities (Poland’s population will soon start contracting giving Poland the chance to fullfil it’s old dream of becoming “another Japan”, at least in this respect) : student enrollments are declining and with that the average standards. The effect will then by passed on to companies, businesses etc, while the weight of unfulfillable pension obligations on the state is growing heavier and heavier.

    All it needs to do is to study the Japanese phenomenon and you can see the future, except that if you live in one of the countries whole leaders had the bright idea that the problem will be solved by importing young and fast growing Muslim populations, then your future looks even more bleak than that of Japan, which at least has not internal enemies and has only to worry about China, where the same problem as Japan is already having will soon start having an even more dramatic impact.

  28. Ad Disqus

    A usually read your blog from two places, my home and my office. From my home (Prague) it works OK. But from my office, where I am connected via US proxy server, Disqus works much worse. I often need several (about ten) times page rereading to see the comments. I'm not sure it's caused by the proxy server or some Internet filtering in US.

  29. I was at Midland Bank when I was working in the UK too some 12 years ago (wow already!). It was the only bank that accepted to open an account for me... I was a foreigner and I had a fixed term contract only at that time so banks needed more guarantee of course. I remember how very old style they were with their high narrow counters with a glass guillotine :-) the bank employee had to bend a little to talk to the customers...

  30. Rzeczpospolita’s interview with Tarasenko has (not surprisingly) caused a huge uproar in the Polish media so the “Right Sector” today published a response.

    Unfortunately it is only in Ukrainian so I will this time only summarise the contents.

    The interview is described as a “provocation”. The provocation consiste in asking “provocative” questions and then quoting replies “out of context”. Next follow the “correct” views of the Right Sector, grouped into 5 points.

    1. About Bandera. Every nation can choose its own heros. Other nations do not have to view them as such. For example, just as Ukrainians do not view Józef Piłsudski as a hero so they don’t expect Poles to view Bandera as such and they are counting on Poles getting rid of their chauvinist assumptions and accept other nations right to have their own heros.

    2. As for the event is Volhynia: they should be seen in the wide historical context (which includes the Polish occupation and colonisation of Ukrainian lands). Ukrainians killed Poles and Poles killed Ukrainians and that was a tragedy for both nations. Not is not the time to make out of this tragedy a wall that divides the two neigbouring peoples.

    (My addition: the fact that the victis of the Ukrainian massacres of Poles in Volhynia outnumbered the victims of the later Polish retaliation by 50:1 is probably considered by the Right Sector as, to borrow the famous phrase from Le Pen Senior, “a historical detail”.

    Also nobody mentioned the large number of Jewish victims of UPA, whom nobody could describe as “occupiers” or “colonisers”.)

    The third point is the most interesting:

    3. These days it makes no sense to bring back old territorial claims. Both Ukrainians and Poles face two dangers: on the one hand Moscow imperialism and on the other (wait for it)

    globalism, american imperialism, the power of transnational corporations and demo-liberal dictatorship.

    This last phrase sounds quite familiar. The only new thing is the phrase “demo-liberal”. The usual one that one hears from people of similar views is “neo-liberal”.

    4. Ukrainian nationalist consider Ukrainians of Polish origin as follow citizens and have no problems with them.

    5. Ukrainian nationalist seek an alliance with Polish nationalist against their common enemies, as described in 3.

    No comments about nuclear weapons etc.

  31. This is another "off topic", although maybe it could be related to "mental damage" or something like that.
    I am referring to Dr. Qaradawi latest call on the US to "wage Jihad for Allah".

    The question is: was Qaradawi being sarcastic, or is he already senile or maybe he knows more abut president Caligula than the people who elected him.

  32. Thank you for taking the time to translate... but I have been racking my brain trying to identify which regular TRF commenter is an extreme Ukrainian nationalist?

  33. it's to prevent bank running they don't have the money to pay you your money , it has happen before it's fraud and it's allowed , it can be solved with inflation , that is why Gold should be back as money , and fractionary reserves showed be outlawed

  34. Well, guess. The commenter who suggested (on this blog) that Ukraine needs nuclear weapons is the same one who sees american imperialism, the power of corporations and "neo-liberalism" as the sources of all the evil in the modern world.

    Still dont' get it? Lotte Lenya ;-)

  35. Your friend's niece was decapitated by a dog? that would be traumatic!

  36. We typically find it so much easier to understand and talk about habituation than we do about repression.

    We do since the kinds of sources of sensory stimulation that are associated with (and pointed to by definitions of) "habituation" are typically not in themselves traumatizing to the individual whose brain (or actention selection serving system) responds by selectively ceasing to respond (pay actention) to them.

    IOW, habituation is a relatively 'lightweight' or less urgently required function for avoiding wasting one's attentional resources by 'investing’ them in unprofitable (or pay-day precluding) ‘off-putting perceptions’ - such as when a perception of off-putting odours becomes a liability in the case of (e.g.) a person who has not grown up on a farm and who desperately needs to earn a living and have the opportunity to work 8 hours day in a piggery.

    Anyhow, habituation refers mainly to a function that is required when some environmental factor persistently prompts one to be pointlessly preoccupied, whereas repression (or habituation on steroids) is a more urgently required pain/fear-"gating" function that serves survival in situations that people early on in their lives commonly end up in (i.e. as we in our lives more commonly do than is commonly recognized); That is, we very commonly end up in intractable predicaments that in tacky traditional (Freudian) terms can be described as anything from slowly to rapidly traumatic.

    Personally I think predicaments that require (or as if demand) "repression" [a function that block sensory signals on route for actention to be paid to them in drastically maladaptive (fatally futile or self-defeating as in permanently debilitating) ways] deserve to be referred to as something like "specific/synaptic hibernation (SH) imploring threats".

  37. Yes, but....

    "It is quite shocking and depressing to notice how little awareness there is, even on this blog, of the consequences of having an ageing population..."

    I'm surprised you say that. I would have thought most people are aware of it, even the sort who watches television.

    Raising of the pension age, for example, has been on the agenda in the UK for at least the whole of this century. There was, and is, plenty of awareness that people are living longer and having fewer children, except for muslime and other immigrants who are breeding like flies. And plenty of awareness too of the economic consequences — "the support ratio blah blah blah".

    Besides, there were plenty of voices even in the mid 1970s warning about the consequences of the out-of-control socialists massively increasing the pay-as-you-go state pension provision with the uncertainty about long-term demographic assumptions needed to make it 'sustainable'. (But politicians don't give a fuck for anything beyond the next few election cycles.) I'd say this whole business has been 'in the air' one way or another for decades. The television-watchers might have missed it though, as they do with most things, but anyone with half a brain can see the problem.

    As for the immigration being the solution, that was debunked as soon as it was mentioned, and is whenever it raises its head (at the very least "immigrants age too, you know"). Of course, politicians, being the inveterate liars that they are, still push immigration in one breath ("we need more darkies to keep the busses and NHS running, drive the taxis and make curry; where would we be without them?" etc) while ignoring how many of them are on state benefits yet enjoining the rest of us to save more to support ourselves in our old age "'coz the country can't afford it". Meanwhile, ordinary savers are being thoroughly screwed by artificially low interest rates [which also "totally fuck" the real economic signals], with annuity rates following suit, in spades. The myriad contradictions are bouncing off the walls and all down the street.

    The message for the ordinary Joe though is quite clear: if you want to avoid poverty in your old age don't spend your money on raising kids.

    When I was young the ordinary working man could support a wife and children and pay a mortgage. Nowadays it's difficult with both of them out working. Well, we do have to pay for the parasites in our marvellous and ever-expanding public sector, supply foreign aid, feed the troughers in NGOs, throw money into lunatic greentard projects, support indigent bolshy immigrunts and their terrorist pool ....... don't we?

    No, we don't.

    But in short, I'd like to disagree on this: I think the interactions are well known.

  38. Can I ask you about Tommy Robinson? In the videos and documentaries I've seen, he struck me as an extremely likeable guy, straightforward, honest, and should appeal to a broad demographic.

    He managed to be both uncompromising about fighting the anti-freedom forces of Islam while at the same time steering clear of the jackbooted, mouth-breathing skinhead Nazi thugs on the extreme right.

    Of course he was vilified 24/7 by the mainstream media and subjected to all kinds of harassment

    by the state. Is that the reason why he "cracked" and joined some organization for "inter-religious understanding" (probably a front for Islamic supremacism)? Maybe he is on an undercover mission in enemy territory now? :)

    I found what has happened to him disheartening. The media and their followers are constantly screaming that anyone who dares criticize Islamic encroachment is an ultra-right-winger, fascist, etc. They are very effective at pulling the middle ground out from under your feet.

    No one seems to have come up with a good counter-strategy yet.

  39. OK, maybe “little awareness” was the wrong way to put it. I should have written “little concern”. It’s more like this: most people know about the fact that their birthrate is below replacement level and generally grasp the medium term and even long term implications, but they shrug their shoulders: “civilised people just don’t want to breed, nothing can be done about this. Let’s occupy ourselves with dangers we can do something about, like climate change.”

    Well, unfortunately I can’t deny that the first part of the above statement does make some sense even if the second doesn’t. Most likely it is true that human life has no purpose or sense and hence neither does bringing more human life into existence. If a nation doesn’t mind becoming extinct than there is nothing that can be done about it. However, before they depart forever, I think people ought to find someone who can take proper care of the things their ancestors left to their care and I don’t think turning the Vatican or Salisbury Cathedral into a mosque is “taking proper care” of them.

  40. "Can I ask you about Tommy Robinson?"

    Eugene, I'd really like to be able to answer your question but I know very little about him — I'm sure you know more than I do.

    But I'm the wrong person to ask. Contrary to maybe what one might expect given my views, I don't belong to, or have any dealings with, any political group and rarely visit their blogs, if ever. [I don't want anyone interfering with the purity of my vision, or indeed my precious bodily fluids. :)] Besides, I find they all 'bottle it' when it comes to the crunch and end up paying lip service to some peecee notion or other, for sheer political expediency and ease of passage I suppose — dunno. For example, Robinson 'embraces' the 'other' as long as they are not muslimes. That's pretty dumb in my view — doesn't he realise the illegitimacy their being here too, and the consequences?

    But it's very clear that under the current set-up anyone publicly espousing the kind of views Robinson holds will come under enormous pressure from every direction, especially from the current 'authorities' and those involved in 'civil society'. I recall that PC Plod, for example, has stitched him up more than once, and also put out his real name and address for the benefit of any muslimes who might wish to drop by and pay him a visit or burn his house down. Maybe indulge in a little head-hacking too. I understand he has had to move house more than once. Our police are so nice.

    But that's about all I know about him. Oh, he claims his organisation is 'not racist' — too bad that he's happy to don that leftard verbal straitjacket.

    I saw him being interviewed on television once where he held his own against the hostile beeboid (expletive deleted) interviewing him, when he could get a word in edgeways, that is. Not bad for a working-class lad whose level of education I imagine didn't amount to much. Actually, he was quite impressive.

    What do I think of him? I think he's broadly on the right lines and seems genuine. He's not stupid. That's for sure. He's OK. He clearly sees the problem.

    What you say about him now though is news to me. But I'm not really surprised — TPTB were bound to put the thumb screws on him one way or another. Sorry I can't be more use.

    "No one seems to have come up with a good counter-strategy yet."

    The gauleiters make it as difficult as they can but they're not doing themselves any favours — the lid is bound to blow off some time. It will be too late for talking then.

  41. I can't argue with you there! :)

    I don't understand that mindset either.

  42. Dear Lubos,
    I understand that quantum field theory is full of infinities and even the vacuum energy is infinite because we have an infinite number of harmonic oscillators with zero point energy hbar*omega/2 with no a priori cutoff for omega. Can we somehow turn this into a solid argument why the 1/epsilon^2 term needs to be balanced by a counterterm? (for instance by introducing an unknown but finite cutoff energy). This would make explicitly clear that the infinity is an artefact of our description and take all the mystery away (although I have the feeling you would like to keep a little mystery here :-) )

  43. Dear Mikael, yes, sort of. The constant energy density may be everywhere and that's why it may be ignored.

    Well, more precisely, it is subtracted by the local counterterm in the action S = RHO * integral sqrt(h). Such a local term may subtract the divergences with the same dependence on the physical parameters as the 1/epsilon^2 term, but it cannot subtract any finite terms etc. Other local terms respecting the scaling symmetry in the sum cannot subtract the finite term, either.

    That's why the infinite part is unphysical and the finite one is there to stay.

  44. Jose Javier Garcia MoretaApr 17, 2014, 10:46:00 PM

    i extended the use of zeta regularization to deal also with divergent integrals .. see we can express a divergent integral as a finite sum of divergent sums 1+2^{s}+3^{s}+... which can be regularized (finite results always) bye means of zeta function regularization with 1+1/2+1/3+...=euler's gamma

  45. Dear Lubos, first of all, sorry for my bad English. I find the way to summing divergent series and determines limit functions in their singular points. Even more, I was surprised when I discovered that the method can be applied to compute divegent integrals. I believe that this method is crucial for physician like you.

    Sincerely, Sinisa