There are tons of ongoing events outside physics that are happening and that would normally be discussed in separate blog posts. Let me reduce the number of blog posts where these heavily unphysical topics appear and consolidate my comments.
Russians in Syria
My most recent entry about Syria was posted hours before the Russian lawmakers okayed an operation in Syria – which was followed by the ongoing airstrikes that started just several more hours later. The bombing videos remind me of what we were watching in the early 1990s when Bush 41 was showing Saddam that the occupation of Kuwait wasn't a good idea.
It's obvious that the Russian intervention is making a difference – and a much bigger difference than the year(s) of the U.S. alleged campaign. I think that the data make it extremely probable that the U.S. was just "pretending" to be fighting against the Islamic State. Russia has already destroyed a significant portion of the tanks, command centers etc. It is implausible that this won't make a difference on the ground rather soon. It's like playing chess so that one piece of your enemy is artificially eliminated after every move.
The bombing isn't a universal cure. The little caliphs are already terrified and hiding themselves and their weapons in mosques, use human shields, and so on. But there's a limit to those tricks. With some activity of Assad's (and perhaps Iran's) army on the ground, they are going to be in existential trouble soon.
Much of the official Western propaganda surrounding the Russian campaign seems incredible to me. For example, we have learned that those strikes were extremely inaccurate etc. Meanwhile, the Russian sites show us details about their almost state-of-the-art technology in which the aircraft get the information about the targets from the satellites (GLONASS) and the missiles are laser-navigated to achieve a 2-meter precision.
We also hear that the Russians are bombing the nice guys. Who are the nice guys supposed to be? No one outside the Caliphate suggests that the Daesh guys are nice. Who else is there? Assad is nice enough according to Russia; America has learned to hate him. These are the two sides. Russia is clearly not bombing Assad. Who is in the middle?
There is the Free Syrian Army, folks who used to fight with Assad but they changed into an opposition. Russia isn't bombing those, it seems. Instead, it is proposing to negotiate with them; and I don't think that FSA has ever received help from the U.S. And I claim that pretty much everyone else in Syria who matters in the fight is basically fighting for the colors of Al-Qaeda (the subsidiary in Syria is called Al-Nusra).
This can be seen almost everywhere. America has spent $0.5 billion to train the "moderate opposition". Only 60 people were ultimately trained and only 5 people are still fighting. One warrior like that costs $100 million. Wow. The remaining folks have joined Al-Qaeda – this covers lots of other groups with obscure names, most of which are unified in the Army of Conquest. This whole coalition describes their fight as "jihad". It doesn't sound too encouraging to my ears. Sorry but if Russia eliminates every single one of those people, it will be another reason to thank Putin. If the U.S. government has befriended lots of these self-evident terrorists, it's just too bad and it's even worse if America wants to "elaborate" on this friendship. On the contrary, it's great that Russia isn't constrained by these particular huge mistakes from recent years.
I am waiting for the Peace Nobel Prize winner Barack Obama to explicitly thank Al-Qaeda for their great help in building American skyscrapers. "The Freedom Tower wouldn't be standing without you, my brothers." This guy is sufficiently unhinged to say something like that. To criticize Russia when it's bombing the infrastructure of Al-Qaeda is just crazy.
I was also amazed by the huge publicity of the incursion of a Russian aircraft to Turkey. Russia said it was a necessity or mistake due to bad weather. Turkey seems to be OK. If Russia needed to beat Turkey, it would just do it! ;-) In the Western media, we're overwhelmed by this "story" – which happened on the same day when the U.S. flattened a hospital in Afghanistan. The incursion must be a greater sin than the destruction of the hospital! The attitude of some Western journalists twists my stomach.
So go, Russia, go. I hope that some significant advances will be seen soon.
Microsoft press conference
I saw a part of the Microsoft press conference. They showed a new demo of Hololens, Microsoft's "holographic" platform. This mixed world – where the guys fights the scary robots in his living room – looks breathtaking. Too bad that the probability that this platform really uses the interference of light, like Gábor's holograms, has decreased.
Microsoft has also presented the new flagship Windows phones, Lumia 950 and 950XL (plus a cheap Lumia 550), and the new Surface Pro 4 as well as a bigger version of it, a 2-in-1 laptop, the Microsoft Surface Book. The features and parameters looked impressive to me. The phones have adaptive antennas (composed of two antennas, to optimize the transmission). The laptop has a new mechanical way to be closed or disconnected. They're superthin. The screen resolution is amazing. The screens are sensitive and the pen has an eraser on the other side, like usual pens. 12 hours of battery life. And so on. Surface Book really looks like the ultimate laptop – for a while, before it will be beaten by "more ultimate" products.
Norway and kids
The Norwegian CPS Barnevernet, a children kidnapping ring officially incorporated as a part of the Norwegian government, has made the final decision to steal the two Czech boys called Michalák. The younger boy David (now 6) was adopted by the foster parents and the mother has lost the "parent rights" for both boys, including the older Denis (now 10).
You may find people in Czechia (perhaps 10%?) who says that there must have been good reasons and who promote extremely unflattering names and conjectures about the mother, Eva Michaláková. But something like 90% of the Czech population and Czech politicians who care have a very clear attitude to the events and I am in this majority. Today (Wednesday), 74% of Czechs answered that the Michalák case is serious enough so that it's right for the president to talk about it and worsen our relationships with Norway.
It's unacceptable in a civilized country to steal a child from the biological parents without a verdict that was defended in the court. None of the accusations have ever been confirmed in any sort of an official way – and many investigations have explicitly rejected the accusations. But the most damning accusation that was spread was that the Czech mother was feeling horny and was encouraging the boy or boys to use their tongues to please her.
This would surely be perverse but I think that the percentage of mothers across the Western world who may be doing similar things is small but nonzero and the psychological consequences aren't necessarily too devastating. But those accusations were never proven right. And even if they were right, it's clear that there are tons of Czech people – other relatives, other Czech citizens – who should have a higher priority in becoming the new de facto parents than the Norwegian foster parents. The boys just can't be considered Norwegian just because they have lived there for a while.
The "justification" of the Norwegian adoption decision hasn't discussed the rights of the mother or any accusations at all. They just said that a kid got used to the foster parents he has known since 2011 so it's right for him to live there. Needless to say, I was among those who expected exactly this development. Just steal children, sell them to new parents, and use the time that will gradually justify your crime (i.e. just wait).
Norway has breached its promises that an adoption wouldn't take place without an agreement with the Czech government.
President Zeman and many others – especially a Christian Democratic EU lawmaker named Zdechovský – are proposing some steps. A protest memorandum will be sent to Norway today. The Norway's ambassador has been summoned and the president and others are trying to suggest that she should be expelled from the Czech Republic, too. The labor and social minister Ms Marx-Lenin (who's been close enough to the Norwegian) will probably finally be forced to abandon all cooperation with her Norwegian colleagues. Others have proposed to use our special units with the experience from Afghanistan to launch a spectacular raid against the Norwegian targets.
Our military is about 2 times larger than its Norwegian counterpart and I am confident that we would defeat that country in a bilateral conflict. Just to be sure, seriously, I don't think that we will be in the state of war with Norway because of it. On the other hand, I do think it is absolutely adequate to talk about such possibilities in this situation.
Volkswagen: the German government should stop the growing threats
A rather irrelevant country of Mexico has joined the bunch of jerks who want to make a big profit out of Volkswagen's innocent software utility that has reduced the measured emissions. They want to get $7 billion from Volkswagen just for Mexico. This is just insane. Mexico is just an average country of 100 million people. If every 100 million people wanted this compensation for the non-existent damages that have occurred to them, Volkswagen would have to pay some $490 billion to the rest of the world.
It should be codified that the fines per car (and similar products) in similar situations – violation of some strict norms that haven't made any tangible harm – can't surpass a certain limit, e.g. $1,000 per car. (With 11 million cars with the software utility, the fines would be bounded from above at $11 billion. I think that a big part should be paid by the German government, anyway.) Such laws should be adopted by the German parliament as well as the parliament of every country that wants to keep peaceful business relationships with Germany. I think it's terrible that the laws defending the accused people and corporations from such frivolous and insanely overinflated lawsuits don't really exist. It's breathtaking when random people who don't really care about the environmental standards – like the Mexicans – suddenly decide to demand a fine per car that exceeds the value of the whole car even though they are in no morally defensible sense "victims".
Germany just shouldn't allow such things and I think it cannot afford such things. If it failed to protect Volkswagen against this aggressive scum and its frivolous lawsuits, it would encourage the same nations or others to rob other German companies as well. BMW, you also filled this and that form incorrectly, so you must pay a million dollars per car, too, every aßhole in the world could say (and be backed by a "judge" whose throat should be cut under normal circumstances). The German wealth has its limits and it's terrible that so many people seem to be unaware of those facts.
Czechs in Lebanon
Good news from Lebanon. The five Czechs who were kidnapped are probably alive and they are probably still on the Lebanese (i.e. rather friendly and safe) territory. This information was obtained from some intermediate information sources close enough to the kidnappers. It seems increasingly likely that the reason of the kidnapping is the reason that I first suggested, namely to liberate the Lebanese citizens who are being investigated as potential terrorists by the Czech courts and enforcement forces.
But no particular demands have been raised so far, at least the public hasn't been informed about any, so this whole algorithm seems bizarre enough. Recall that I have also indicated that at least 3 of the kidnapped Czechs may actually actively cooperate with the friends of the Lebanese alleged terrorists. Their being alive does increase the odds that they're actually much closer friends with their kidnappers than what they want everyone to believe.