Saturday, January 25, 2014

Euroskeptics may take over EU Parliament

...but differences between them start to emerge...

Yesterday, Russia Today released a story – perhaps a slightly exaggerated story – painting Nigel Farage's UKIP, The United Kingdom Independence Party, as the strongest party in the U.K. according to recent polls.

This claim suggests that there are nonzero chances to win the May 2014 elections to the European Parliament and perhaps some later national polls, too. That's quite a success for this relatively new, Euroskeptical and climate skeptical party. They may overshadow the Conservatives, the Labor Party, and the Liberals, too. Meanwhile, lots of other fun discussions surround the UKIP. Nigel Farage claims that all the weird UKIP politicians (who say that trains have to be repainted, ladies can't play board and card games, and – most interestingely – floods were caused by gay marriages) have been imported from the Conservative Party. ;-)

The Counterstream [Protiproud], the contrarevolutionary daily of Mr Petr Hájek, a Christian and a former Czech President Klaus aide whom I will discuss in a moment, published a very interesting analysis of a "possible shock that may shatter Brussels" in Spring 2014.

The "Brussels insiders" are called the Bilderberg group, after the Bilderberg annual meetings where the elite of Euro-naive, politically correct European politicians and celebrities gather. According to the Counterstream, they may be waiting for a shock in May as their "Christian Democratic" and socialist parties lose big.

He discusses the growing chances of UKIP – which has been much more successful than the British National Party, for example. But there are inequivalent yet overlapping and similar tendences in other countries of the EU, too. Incidentally, the huge differences between the political moods in the countries proves that there is no European demos; the nations keep on living their segregated lives and the ideas about a single EU nation is a fantasy (or a carefully crafted yet totally unrealistic propaganda).

In particular, Marine Le Pen with her Front National – who wants to neutralize the Brussels vipers' nest, among other things – may very well be the strongest party in France. Many of us may feel some "undesirable flavor" in this party but Shannon has actually convinced me that the party is just alright. Nevertheless, for example, the UKIP wants to remain mostly isolated. Le Pen has some "common plans" and she claims that the two parties are much closer than UKIP admits.

Germany may look like a reliable island that is satisfied with the Bilderberg folks, especially due to Merkel's popularity. But there is a dark horse here, too: Alternative for Germany – a country against the euro that otherwise describes itself as pro-European – approached the 5% threshold in the September Bundestag elections and they could get around 10% in the EU elections. Not a revolution but a possible seed of something else. I don't have to explain you what strong enough voices against the common currency from the most important country of the eurozone would mean.

In Italy, anti-EU and nationalist parties, The Five Star Movement and the North League, may get above 50% if combined, too. In Spain which experienced some mass rallies, nationalists may get up to 1/3 of the votes. In a similarly represented Poland, the national Catholics in the Law and Justice Party could get a majority of the deputies, a shock for Brussels.

Fidesz continues to be at the top in Hungary and it's not something that the EU establishment enjoys, either. More minor motion away from Euronaivism also seems to materialize in Austria, Portugal, Belgium (where the will to split the country and the Flemish self-confidence – which is largely anti-EU – are getting stronger), Holland, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria. Gert Wilders and his anti-immigration party may get 9/24 of deputies in the Netherlands. Anti-EU forces in Romania may get 4/18 deputies. Greece and Slovakia seem to be experiencing the strengthening of the extremists. Pro-EU forces are likely to gradually weaken in Scandinavia as well – in Finnland, the nationalist True Finns may be a part of the picture.

So the only countries where the pro-EU forces are not expected to weaken are the Baltic states, Slovenia, Luxembourg, and – shockingly enough – Czechia, my homeland that would be viewed as the ultimate headquarters of Euroskepticism. It's plausible that all the Czech seats will go to the pro-Brussels alliance. Hájek discusses what he dislikes about center-right mildly Euroskeptical ODS (founded by Klaus in the early 1990s) and the Party of Free Citizens (SSO).

And this is the other topic I want to mention. Some articles at the Counterstream as well as the SSO website and personal server have revealed quite some tension between two groups that you could call "groups very close to ex-president Klaus". The Counterstream around Hájek perhaps represents the most accurate Czech counterpart of the Christian Right in the U.S. He's a Christian, an enthusiastic creationist (I've had a journal exchange about the origin of life with him sometime in 2009 or so). Well, he is also a truther of a sort and believes interesting things. But more generally, he – and some people around him – is socially conservative, especially when it comes to the topics like gay marriage, protection of national interests, and so on.

The Party of Free Citizens recently mildly defended gay marriage and they say that they prefer "not to talk about the nation which is too big a word for them" and many other statements like that have been said that made the tension – and some angry reactions – unavoidable. Just to be sure, I have as mixed feelings about these questions as you can get. Ladislav Jakl, a Klaus aide (former and probably current), tried to become the peacemaker, too.

You could say that it's surprising that people that were (and, largely, are) so close to Klaus will have so different opinions about questions they consider so important. To explain the apparent paradox, I would probably say that Klaus is about as ambiguous about these matters as your humble correspondent and he was always able to reconcile the "classical conservatives similar to America's Christian Right" with the "atheist, secular, modern, slightly progressive anti-government Libertarians". I am probably closer to the second group but it's not clear enough for me to endorse them. Hájek has criticized SSO as left-wingers who shouldn't call themselves right-wingers and who are threatening some values of our civilization etc. etc. Mr Pajonk of SSO wrote about their party's being attacked from the right and about its ability to lead all the Euroskeptics in the EU elections. (They got a respectable 2.5% in the latest national polls, almost enough to think about the possibility that our votes don't have to be lost next time.)

Klaus is probably not a religious person in any nontrivial sense – like myself (I don't really believe any particular exact "genuinely Christian story") – but I feel that he is fascinated by Hájek because he feels that there is some sense in which Hájek is more right-wing than Klaus himself and that sounds impressive to Klaus (regardless of the fact that it's possible to agree that many of his idiosyncrasies are symptoms of borderline insanity). OK, that may be describing how I feel ;-) and I may be attributing my feelings to Klaus via projection, but I think that this projection is close to the truth, anyway, so I did mention this theory. ;-) Equally importantly, Klaus has always been a great practician of politics who had to think about the consolidation of close enough political forces and he just didn't spend so much time and didn't produce so many emotions about the differences between those whom he was unifying. His opinions have always been sufficiently inclusive for him to be a major player in the country; but sufficiently special and rare for him not to become another dull average politically correct politician. Because his collaborators are not able to become equally towering figures, they are more affected by the disagreements between the factions (even though, let's admit that the differences between the Libertarians and the Christian Right are substantial).

If the Euronaivism ceased to be "the only allowed, official ideology" at the EU level, it would surely be pleasant but we must understand that such a transformation of Europe wouldn't solve all of the continent's problems and many other issues and concerns would pretty much instantly emerge and strengthen in front of our eyes. To say the least, such a change of the political debate would be refreshing.


  1. An astronomer is making a string anti-greenhouse theory claim on Steve Goddard's blog. A comment by you would be of great value to us non-physicists.

  2. A very trivial point, but I think you probably meant "take over" rather than "overtake".

  3. An argument that used a well ordering on a set that is not naturally ordered in a physical context would stick out like a sore thumb: therefore it is obvious that no such arguments are ever used. In fact (although I am not a physicist and my knowledge of physics is limited) I am completely sure that all the mathematics in Lubos' articles can be given a purely a constructive formulation.

  4. In Switzerland, we will vote on the 9th February for an important law, which proposes to limit massive immigration from Europe. Switzerland has become overcrowded. You can see it everyday on the roads with a lot of jams, and the situation for the real estate is very difficult. Every year the population is increasing by 80'000 people. In 10 years, the population has increase from 7 billions to 8 billions. But you can hear in the media that everything is perfect, and that we should not change anything.

  5. Well, I prefer to consider the axiom of choice to be false which allows me to consistently assume a different axiom,namely that all subsets of a finite interval of real numbers are measurable.

    But even if someone chooses to consider the axioms of choice true, it is surely silly to criticize a proof or an argument just because it wasn't used, isn't it?

    These discussions about the axiom of choice have nothing to do with the debates about the empirical content of some mathematical structures. They're independent questions, too. So you just seem to mix lots of words into random combinations that make no sense.

  6. Nigel Farage is only a roastbeef at the end of the day. Roastbeef he is, roastbeef he'll remain... ;-)
    In England they still refuse the metric system !!...

  7. The solution is for you to enlarge your territory. I understand that you're exasperated at all the Germans etc. flowing into your country, so redraw the map and take over the Alemannic parts of Germany, take over the French Alps, likewise for Italy, and presto! Switzerland has more room and is not crowded anymore. The new citizens are happy to be Swiss and will defend their new country against any challenge.

  8. Hmm, I wonder what John Archer has to say about that ... ;-)

    I hope you realise that there are pretty good mathematical arguments against the decimal system. Napoleon himself was known to regret its introduction during the Revolution:
    "Twelve as a dividend has always been preferred to ten. I can understand the twelfth part of an inch, but not the thousandth part of a metre."

    The full argument is here:

  9. Lucretius,


    I recall Gross and Levitt's Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science ( had some interesting things to say about the Axiom of Choice.

    The pomo crowd had latched on to it. According to them it has some bearing on wimmin — oddly enough about their bearing, I think, but it was very hard to make sense of ANYTHING they had to say.

    Frankly I think they missed a trick. I'm sure the more libidinous feminazis among them could have 'employed' it to make the additional claim ('theorem'?) that in any well-ordered society wimmin get a choice as to whether they cum first or not. Of course, this is trivially true for a society consisting solely of dykes. But I guess the whole theorem would have upset their mooseslime chums in the Department of Diversity Studies.

    By the way, if you like blood sports and haven't read the book I can heartily recommend it. I got it when it was first published in 1994 and couldn't put it down. Few things along those lines have rivalled it for entertainment since (Sokal excepted, of course).

  10. Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? ;-)
    Dear Lucretius, even the measure of stones in the US is different from the pound in the UK. So who is right?...

  11. Something I forgot to mention and as I understand it is that at the heart of AdS/CFT correspondence is the UV/IR correspondence of String theory in the sense that UV open string divergences are related to IR divergences in the closed sector. The open string amplitudes contain information about the
    closed string sector and vice versa and this correspondence manifest itself in AdS/CFT.

    So my answer to the question above in the video is ‘yes’, you need String theory to *understand* the AdS/CFT duality.

  12. Just got back to CZ (from TX via UK). Report from academic coffee room is that it is now possible to say nice things about Nige without being beaten over the head with a lead pipe. As to CZ situation, this is very different from UK situation due to positive economic links of CZ economy to German INDUSTRY, i.e., the leading source of export income to EU. CZ (incl. places like Plzen) benefit to a large degree from this in a sense that the UK does not. Since this linkage is also dependent on EU membership...

  13. I read about Gross and Levitt’s book a long time ago a long time ago and I am sure it is all the things you say about it. But, how many proofs does one need to known that someone is an idiot? I have already told this story in another thread, but I will repeat it again: the great Russian mathematician Andrey Kolomogorov started his academic career as a historian (he is one of a select group of mathematicians with a great interest in history, which also includes John von Neumann, with which I tend to identify myself) but when he gave a talk on his research (on 15 and 16 century landholding practices in the Novgorod Republic - by the way, probably the most interesting “Russian” state that has ever existed) he was told that “in history every thesis needs at least five proofs”. So the next day he switched to mathematics.

    So five proofs was too much for Kolmogorov but I have seen literally hundreds of proofs that all the gang this book is about consists of idiots and professional “conpersons”. As a result, I am no longer as enthusiastic about seeing more proofs, however wittily formulated, as I once used to be. To give just one example, you must surely have heard about this “scholar”, a “Distinguished Professor”, recipient of an “important prize”, etc. , who gained world fame for describing Newton’s Principia Mathematica as a “rape manual”:

    The wikipedia says (with a straight face ): “a characterization that she later said she regretted”.

    Isn’t this hilarious enough? After this, how many more proofs do you need?

    I might read Gross and Levitt’s book it if it happens to by lying about and I have nothing more interesting to read but this is pretty unlikely. But thanks for the suggestion.

  14. Thanks for that link lucretius. Very interesting.

  15. How does Switzerland manage so well with citizen's speaking four different native tongues? There must be a lesson in their somewhere for the rest of us?

  16. Lubos writes: "For the single monstrous CFT, such a stringy construction may be not known equally explicitly but because it has worked in all other examples, one should say that it is extremely likely that all consistent examples of the AdS/CFT correspondence may be shown to be vacua of string/M-theory and all the objects and processes predicted by string/M-theory may be found in these holographic definitions of quantum gravity, too."

    I guess that's called induction? Isn't that what science is all about? Or do theoretical physicists require proof beyond induction?

    [I've been away from the web for awhile. Glad to be reading this blog again. It is always so refreshing!]

  17. When you apply the axiom of choice to the theory of wimmin you get what Darwin called sexual selection -- which turns out to be very important indeed! ;)

  18. Don't knock the second coming of Christ. Expect the unexpected.

  19. OK. I understand. The same goes for me too, now.

    But then it was never about proof with me.

    I knew what that type was long before — I was sick of hearing their shit. I had had a personal head of steam that had been building up for decades, and not just about peecee or other politicisation, although these had come to the fore by then.

    So I was interested only in beating them up, so to speak. Up to 1994 I had not seen anything like Gross and Levitt (and Sokal, though his was a follow-on act), nor was I aware of just how much worse their targets had become. Higher Superstition was a godsend in releasing a lot of that steam. I revelled in it.

    I don't move in those circles but judging by the squealing my guess is that G&R caused the fakers a lot of pain and did a lot of damage to their egos, and to their ability to maintain their ludicrous posturing, and to the spread of their disease. Nice.

    Unfortunately none of it appears to have been mortal or terminal. So I'm sure someone will have to do it all again at some point, probably on a regular basis. In that event the knowledge that it is being done will be enough for me — I won't need all the gory details next time.

    I think I should add that—according to Gross and Levitt themselves anyway—it appears their motives were not the same as mine, or indeed anything even remotely like them. But then of course appearances are important for some people. A bit like showbiz really, I suppose.

    Yes, the Principia Rape Manual 'incident', I remember. Who could forget? I remember the name too (although for some reason I have it as Sondra, not Sandra — dunno why). But I wouldn't necessarily have put the two together now, not at this distance in time. In fact (and before you even mentioned the rape manual) hers was the only feminazi name that sprang to mind. My memory isn't as good as yours.

  20. Tom, don’t throw Einstein into the discussion. That’s appeal to authority and is a logical fallacy. Einstein said and wrote many wrong things. There is no ‘Papal infallibility’ in science.

  21. Your population's size is scarily high - thanks for keeping it within your borders! :-)

  22. Although I'm in favour of the imperial system, I'm more often irritated by the drivel emanating from those on both sides who launch into the subject.

    I think in imperial but use both, depending on what I find most convenient at the time.

    As for Aitken's piece, I thought he over-egged it. But then few had calculators in 1962. No disrespect to the man though.

    Changing the subject a little...

    The decimal system (or more accurately the place-value system; the selection of 10 as a base is surely just a fluke of nature):

    Why did it take so long — it's inherent in the abacus? Why all the fuss?

    All it takes is for some merchant to want a 'hard copy' of his transactions and balances recorded in an efficient manner, and .... bingo!

  23. thejollygreenmanJan 28, 2014, 4:15:00 PM

    Nigel Farage is currently married to a German. He is not anti European, he is anti EU and specifically Brussels with Burroso and that Belgium Bank clerk. EU rules about the shape of bananas, light-bulbs, and olive oil bottles in restaurants. What is wrong with that?

  24. Why do you think that it took long? As far as I know the positional system was invented by the Babylonians before 3000 BC - that’s a pretty long time ago. Of course they did not have the zero but they used an empty space to represent a place without value (and later they designed a special symbol for it). The positional system was only useful to those who needed make lot of numerical computations so in the past it was used chiefly for astronomy. The ancient Greeks did not need it because mostly they were not interested in numerical computations and Archimedes , the one known exception, was able to handle every kind of computation using the Greek notation he probably never felt the need for anything else. Being too clever can also be an obstacle to discovery ;-)

    Hellenistic astronomers, on the other hand, like Ptolemy, actually used a semi-positional system. The modern positional system was essentially invented by the Indian mathematicians Brahmagupta, but the significance of this invention is small compared with his other ones. Much more important was his development of algebra and, in particular, of treating 0 as a number: he was the first person to consider things like a+0=a, a0 =0. (However, the thought that 0/0 = 0).

    It’s quite possible that some merchants using the abacus also “invented” the positional system, but merchants usually do not write texts explaining their methods. This is also the reason why, for example, we know so little of Roman science and engineering. In Rome unlike in Greece, science and mathematics were not “respectable” subjects - well born people never occupied themselves with such stuff. Julius Caesar and Hadrian were the exceptions and their interest was viewed as weird and improper. The proper place for the study of such stuff was the Army, and the Roman military engineers made many remarkable discoveries, as had been confirmed by some of their war machinery that has survived. But this knowledge was never “published” but rather passed from one generation to anther within the legions and eventually became forgotten.

  25. "Why do you think that it took long? ... It’s quite possible that some merchants using the abacus also “invented” the positional system, but merchants usually do not write texts explaining their methods."

    Actually, I strongly doubt that it did take so long. In my view what took so long was only for it to go public. My guess is that it was invented independently many, many times, and probably mostly by merchants for the reasons I mentioned.

    I don't know any of this of course — I'm just guessing. But the vast majority of small children latch onto the place-value aspect without any difficulty. So the idea itself certainly can't be considered difficult. Indeed, it's hard to imagine someone actually thinking it so.

    It puzzled me that the Greek mathematicians didn't think of it. But then maybe they did and dismissed it as beneath them — after all, it largely concerns 'mere calculation', a kind of snobbery still around today too perhaps. "The further one is advanced in mathematics the fewer the numbers one encounters. Indeed real mathematicians use only three: 0, 1 and ∞." Or so the joke goes.

    On the other hand, after their early discovery of the irrationality of root 2 it's kind of easy to understand why the Greeks stuck to geometry. Perhaps. Anyway I can can see a kind of logic to it.

    I also wondered about the merchants stuck out all those nights under the stars along the Silk Road for example. Plenty of time for musing and coming up with the idea. I was thinking what I would do if I were one. Would I spread the notion? No, I very much doubt it. I'd keep it in the family, a bit like a trade secret. Why? Now here I'm just guessing. Maybe it would give me an edge in some way over the competition. Well, I'm in the business of making money so even if I were to consider it of only marginal use then I'm still going to keep quiet about in case the competition finds a more effective use for it — and I'm not going to help them in any way! On the other hand I might find I'm a dab hand at it can use it in mental calculation to think fast on my feet, proposing deals that look attractive to others but benefit me far more before they catch on. I don't know ... as I say I'm just guessing. Mainly though, I think it's the 'hard copy' aspect that would be the driver. Not only that, but it's in code too! Excellent! All in all, my money is on it being invented/discovered lots of times.

    My point in bringing it up, however, is to have a go at all those who hype the whole thing up as a big deal. It isn't. And I'm glad to see you agree. :)

    But I say the same goes for the invention of zero. With a place-value system a digit for zero is inevitable. Given that the whole point of the system is that numerals represent numbers, how long does it take to ask oneself what number the single-digit numeral consisting of zero on its own represents? I think even Homer Simpson wouldn't have too much difficulty with that one. As I say, this whole business is hyped out of all proportion. And then I wonder why that might be. But I can make a guess about that too.

    By the way, I agree about the Romans. I can't believe they were mere 'vulgar mechanics'. :)

  26. You should distinguish the invention of zero as a place holder in decimal arithmetic (a minor technical device) and the algebraic idea of zero as the neutral element in addition (due entirely to Brahmagupta and certainly not something any abacus user ever thought about) - a huge discovery without which modern algebra would not have been possible.

  27. Of ocurse Brahmagupta did not just discover that 0 was a "number". He also, for the first time in known history, introduced negative numbers and purely algebraic notation, such as: a+ (-a) = 0. I doubt that any merchant would have thought of that ;-)

  28. I thought that the origin of zero and negatives was all about debt.

    In the Czech lands, inventors improved the accounting when the old credit/debit (he has paid, he should have paid) was replaced by a more modern "we have stolen, they have stolen".

  29. Well, I guess the idea of "nothing" is older than zero and must have been understood by merchants even before 7th century, but to realise that "nothing" was a number and that you could not only add nothing to other numbers but multiply by it and even divide (!) required a Hindu ;-)
    ( )

  30. I agree very much that it's highly unlikely that any merchant who happened to stumble on the decimal system would come up with the notion of zero as the 'additive identity' as such beyond the simple and obvious property that a+0 = 0+a = a. (The same thing goes for the unity in its multiplicative capacity.)

    To be clear, recognition of these properties would be without any algebraic or structural flavour and probably taken as so obvious that they barely registered in his consciousness. In any event I think we can be pretty sure that the focus of his attention would have been elsewhere, with no need for idle contemplation, which is what I'm sure he would have considered such 'structural' matters to be if the thought had even occurred to him. His problem domain, so to speak, lay elsewhere.

    Such 'idle speculations' are surely only for those privileged with time for leisure. So then it's no wonder that the history of the subject is full of fits and starts—or so it seems from the little I know of it—given that for most people the daily grind was more than enough to cope with.

    In that regard, it's a marvel the Greeks achieved so much. So hats off to them.

    But the way you tell it it's as if only the great indian's mum hadn't interrupted his train of thought by calling the lad down for his tea he would have polished off a quick treatise which would still be in use today as the standard text on modern algebra instead of Birkhoff and MacLane or whatever, and Newton needn't have bothered getting out of bed. OK, maybe not quite that but....

    I don't want to knock anyone's achievements but I don't want to see them hyped way beyond their intrinsic merits, and especially not for 'racist', pro-'other' reasons.

    To put another perspective on this algebra thing, I think it's fair to say that your average Joe is far more comfortable with basic algebraic manipulations, including for example 'the meaning' of negative numbers and 'fractions', than he is with any geometry. Of course most people don't enjoy either but I'd say that geometry probably leads the field in the general aversion stakes by at least a couple of furlongs, presumably because of its perceived difficulty — the pons asinorum and all that.

    The ancient Greeks retain the gold medal. As they should for their notion a proof alone. :)

    QED :)

  31. On nothing:

    It's an old one but good.

    Nothing's better than eternal happiness. And a ham sandwich is better than nothing. So a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness.


    Would you like some mustard on yours? :)

  32. tipo: (D-2)/16 should be -(D-2)/16