Beatrix von Storch MEP
sich die AfD ihr erstes Grundsatzprogramm
Massive Kritik am Islam ist
ein zentrales Element.
"I am a little hurt that he's
not here tonight. We had so
fun the last time. And it
is surprising: you've got a room
full of reporters, celebrities,
cameras, and he says no.
this dinner too tacky
for The Donald?"
2016 May 2
The Trump Bomb
Donald Trump thinks nuclear capability is the biggest problem in
the world: "When people talk global warming, I say the global
warming that we have to be careful of is the nuclear global
The bright spot is what happened in Iran. We have
been unable to finalize a new disarmament agreement with the
Russians. The North Koreans are surely going to test again. The
Indians and Pakistanis are modernizing their arsenals.
the middle of this there is Trump, a colossus of ignorance.
Politics on the Brink
American politics is in crisis. For
generations, both the major parties could have fit within the
British Conservative party. Capitalism under reasonable controls and
a strong defense of individual liberty were the basic tenets of a
consensus which underpinned every plausible candidacy.
Populist fragmentation has arrived. Bernie Sanders is openly
socialist. Hillary Clinton is damned by her association with
established Washington power. Donald Trump is popular because he is
outside the limits of the accepted order.
Such anger and
resistance is unprecedented in living memory. There is a rejection
of everything Big: government, banks, bureaucracy, business — all in
a union where the member states share a common language and a
revered constitution. What about a United States of Europe?
Transhumanists want to conquer death with
science and merge with machines. The concept of personhood used to
be simple, but with AI and robots we will soon see a time when
courts must decide on future civil rights. The LGBT movement will
enjoy easier gender reassignment surgery. Eventually we may have a
genderless world. Artificial wombs will challenge maternity. Robots
will take jobs. Some people are screaming to slow down technology
before it gets out of control. As a transhumanist US presidential
candidate, I hope more people will discuss the future.
The Bank of England has created hundreds
of billions of pounds to buy government bonds from commercial banks.
This quantitative easing (QE) is supposed to save the big banks. Its
effect has been to force interest rates down.
Guaranteed index-linked private pension schemes are now all but
unaffordable. As the yield on the government gilts the funds are
forced to buy has collapsed, it has become much more expensive to
buy enough of them to guarantee pensions. The aggregate deficit is
now over £300 billion.
Those responsible for authorizing QE
were Bank of England and Treasury officials. They will suffer none
of its adverse effects. This is true of the entire public sector.
The government makes no provision for funding the pensions of its
millions of employees. Taxpayers will pay.
The NHS pension
scheme is an example. Nurses joining that scheme today will
contribute just over 7% of their income to fund their retirement,
and after 40 years can expect an index-linked pension worth over
£30,000 a year in today's money.
In the private sector,
nurses on the same salary wanting the same pension income, retiring
at 65, would need a fund worth £1 million in today's money. They
would have to pay more than 40% of their gross salary to the scheme.
The taxpayer-funded NHS scheme is about five times more generous
than the equivalent scheme in the private sector. Junior doctors
complain about their new contract. But they have a good deal.
AR Better than I do, that's for
sure. Buy my books and let me live!
2016 May 1
George F. Will
Donald Trump would be the most unpopular
presidential nominee ever. In losing disastrously, he probably would
create carnage sufficient to end even Republican control of the
House. At least half a dozen Republican senators seeking reelection
and Senate aspirants can hope to win if the person at the top of the
Republican ticket loses their state narrowly, but not if he loses by
demands the prevention of a Trump presidency. Were he to be
nominated, conservatives would need to help him lose 50 states yet
save as many senators, representatives, governors, and state
legislators as possible. Republicans working to purge him and his
manner from public life could only preserve the identity of their
party by forgoing one term of executive power.
Antisemitism infects some sections of the
British Muslim community. I can't keep count of the number of
Muslims I have come across for whom weird and wacky antisemitic
conspiracy theories are the default explanation for a range of
national and international events.
It is sheer hypocrisy for Muslims to
complain of Islamophobia in British public life, and yet ignore the
rampant Judeophobia in our own backyard. We have a Jewish problem.
Muslims are not only the victims of racial and religious prejudice
but purveyors of it, too.
Islamists and Trots
The disproportionate Jewish contribution
to western civilization — not least to science and the arts — is one
of the most astonishing achievements of modern history. The murder
and mayhem perpetrated by antisemites throughout history, and above
all in the 20th century, deserves a special place in the annals of
Trotskyists and Islamists make
strange bedfellows. Since Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn joined
the Labour party, a significant element of the British left has
aligned itself with the Palestine Liberation Organization and other
groups hostile to Israel. Labour is now flirting with a very
different generation of antisemites.
Trump wins 5 state sweep,
Clinton wins 4 of 5
"The United States, and the
entire world, needs a strong
prosperous and democratic
and united Europe."
Michael Gove suggests Britain
abandon its partnership
with Germany, France and
countries and instead
enter into a non-EU partnership
Albania, Kosovo, Serbia
I am a proud Albanian,
we do not
see ourselves as
a rival to the EU, which
we admire so much.
Merkel, Obama, Hannover
The Everlasting Flame
National Museum, Delhi
2016-03-19 — 2016-05-31
AR In case you fancy a
away in India.
Prince @ 57
"Few artists have
the sound and trajectory of
popular music more
or touched quite so many
people with their
Augustine is obliged by his
to the incarnate
Christ to deny that the
can ever as such be an object
for the cognition of
historical and desirous beings.
To be an
intelligence in time
is to be inescapably unfinished.
res, and, in respect of
him, all else is signum. If we
love human beings
independently of loving God,
we ignore what
2016 April 30
SpaceX: Mars 2018
NASA has agreed to support a SpaceX Red
Dragon mission to Mars as soon as 2018. SpaceX: "Red Dragon missions
to Mars will help inform the overall Mars colonization architecture
that SpaceX will reveal later this year."
Red Dragon is a
version of the Dragon spacecraft that currently flies to the
International Space Station under SpaceX resupply contracts with
NASA. As part of work to develop a version of the capsule that can
carry astronauts, SpaceX has developed and tested motors that allow
the craft to make a safe landing on Earth in the event of an
emergency. SpaceX will adapt that system to allow the craft to touch
down on Mars.
NASA deputy administrator Dava Newman: "In
exchange for Martian entry, descent, and landing data from SpaceX,
NASA will offer technical support for the firm's plan to attempt to
land an uncrewed Dragon 2 spacecraft on Mars."
Germany v Israel
German chancellor Angela Merkel and foreign
minister foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier believe the
current Israeli settlement policy makes a viable Palestinian state
unlikely and could ultimately transform Israel into an apartheid
CDU Bundestag foreign affairs committee chair Norbert
Röttgen: "Israel's current policies are not contributing to the
country remaining Jewish and democratic. We must express this
concern more clearly to Israel."
Prior to important votes in
the EU or at the UN, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
generally calls Steinmeier to request his support for the Israeli
position. Recently Netanyahu called Steinmeier to express concern
about an impending EU resolution. But this time Steinmeier supported
the resolution: "Settlements are illegal under international law,
constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state
German Institute for International and Security Affairs: "A
two-state settlement is becoming increasingly unlikely. The
financial and political costs of implementing it rise with every
settlement unit needing to be demolished and with every settler
needing to be evacuated and compensated."
2016 April 29
Tea with Theresa May
The Heritage Suite, Shaftesbury, Dorset
Theresa May (video, 55 s)
House and Senate Republicans are reluctantly coming
to terms with the reality that Donald Trump will likely be the GOP
standard bearer. Rather than fight it, a number of Republicans say,
it may be time to embrace it.
According to evolution by natural
selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more
fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality
but is just tuned to fitness. If the fitness function does not match
the truth in the real world, that will send truth to extinction.
Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that
hide all the stuff we have no need to know. We have conscious
experiences. Objective reality is just conscious agents. Separate
conscious agents can be put together to create new conscious agents,
ad infinitum. Conscious experiences are the most basic ingredients
of the world. There is no brain!
This is philosophically naive about truth and reality, but
there is a thread of sense in it.
2016 April 28
OECD Damns Brexit
The Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development likened the effects of Brexit to a permanent annual
tax on British incomes. The OECD is an international organization
that aims to promote the best economic policies among its 34
members, all of which are advanced economies.
calculates that Brexit would bring more restricted trade with the
EU, reduced competition, lower foreign direct investment, and fewer
skilled immigrants, to hit GDP by around 5%. Public finances would
suffer because tax revenues lost would easily outweigh any savings
from lower net contributions to the EU budget.
"There appears little scope to use the EU budget savings to relax
fiscal policy substantially for an extended period, unless there is
a decision to adjust other taxes and spending, or to raise the size
of the overall budget deficit."
OECD secretary-general José
Ángel Gurría: "Why are we spending so much time, so much effort and
so much talent in trying to find ways to compensate for a bad
decision when you don't necessarily have to take the bad decision?"
2016 April 27
Ten Brexit Arguments
Membership has brought few benefits
Membership has raised trade with EU members by an estimated 55%,
increasing productivity and output. Trade creation within the EU has
far exceeded diversion of trade from elsewhere.
2 Membership has imposed huge
The net fiscal cost is 0.5% of GDP. A
study finds that 6.8% of UK primary legislation and 14.1% of UK
secondary legislation is passed to implement EU law.
3 An increasingly integrated
eurozone will dictate to the UK
political union of the eurozone looks unlikely. Its members differ
on many points, opening up opportunities for UK influence.
4 The UK should leave because a
eurozone breakup would damage the UK economy
A disorderly EZ breakup would damage close partners. But
leaving the EU would no more shield the UK against disaster than
Canada leaving NAFTA would shield it from a US crisis.
5 The UK should leave because
the EU is slow-growing
reducing access to EU markets would help only if the EU held back
the UK from trading with the rest of the world. The EU does not hold
Membership of the EU prevents the UK from opening up world markets
The EU was a moving force in three
successful global trade negotiations. It makes preferential trade
arrangements. EU clout can open up Chinese, Indian, or the US
7 It would be
easy to agree on alternatives to EU membership
Three Brexit variants: WTO trade rules lose
preferential EU market access, Swiss rules require free movement of
people, Norwegian rules lose say on regulations. More sovereignty,
8 It will be
easy for the UK to obtain whatever it wants from the EU
The share of UK trade done with the rest of
the EU is far greater than the share of EU trade done with the UK.
The idea that a departing UK could dictate terms is a fantasy.
9 It will be easy to reach
an agreement on controlling immigration
Preferential access to EU markets require UK labour
mobility. Imposing work permits on EU citizens would clog the UK job
market. The EU would reciprocate.
The uncertainty associated with leaving the EU would be
We do not know
what the UK government would want, what the rest of the EU would
offer, how long negotiations would last, or what the outcome would
2016 April 26
Obama in Hannover
Barack Obama lobte und pries
ziemlich alles: deutsche Technik, deutsche Führungskraft, deutsches
Bier, deutsche Wurst.
Obama: "Die USA brauchen ein starkes,
wohlhabendes und geeintes Europa. Ihr habt so viel erreicht. Die EU
ist eine der größten politischen und wirtschaftlichen
Errungenschaften der modernen Zeit. Glaubt an euch, stärkt die EU!"
Es ist ein klares Bekenntnis zur Politik seiner lieben Freundin
Angela: "Unsere Nationen sind stärker, wenn wir Menschen aus anderen
Ländern willkommen heißen."
Bei aller Kritik an der
amerikanischen Politik: Dies war der Besuch eines großen
The New Anglosphere
Brexiters recall the Anglosphere
bequeathed by the British Empire. Barack Obama may have devastated
The signature foreign policy initiative of
the Obama administration has been the US pivot to Asia. Today the
biggest US trade priority is not Europe but Asia. While negotiations
on TTIP are still years from conclusion, the Trans-Pacific
Partnership deal has already been agreed and now awaits
Britain has been conducting its own pivot to
Asia in its deals with China. Australia does 10 times the trade with
China and Japan as it does with Britain. In Canada, about a third of
the population of Toronto is ethnic Asian, with a much higher
proportion in Vancouver.
Ironically, a new Anglosphere has
emerged in Brussels. English is now the common language of the EU
UK leaders are willing to sacrifice democratic
self-government to the interests of bankers and continental
The European Union has all the hallmarks of a
modern empire. Its laws are dictated by an unelected central
bureaucracy and it has a democratically unaccountable leadership
with a powerless parliament. Since in 1973, Britain has sent almost
half a trillion pounds to Brussels.
Voters are crying out for
reform in the way that the EU is run. The EU is failing. The UK has
a chance to escape.
AR Or to
reform and renew it.
2016 April 25
US and Germany
President Barack Obama has found his closest global
partner in German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In Hannover, he said of
her stance on accepting refugees: "She's on the right side of
history on this. She is giving voice, I think, to the kinds of
principles that bring people together rather than divide them, and
I'm very proud of her for that and I'm proud of the German people
Obama hopes Merkel can help sway fellow leaders to
do more to counter Daesh and track suspected extremists. He also is
looking for her support in hammering out a US-EU trade pact.
A large majority of French people want Britain
to remain in the European Union. An opinion poll Saturday found 60%
of them expected negative consequences for the British if they
leave. Some 58% said Britain should stay in the EU and 40% want
Britain to leave. Brexit would have negative consequences for the
EU, said 54%. Seven French out of 10 have "a good image" of Britain
and 58% think the UK is an asset for the EU.
Stephen Hawking proposes that black holes slowly radiate all
their energy away in photons. This Hawking radiation is usually so
faint as to be all but invisible.
Jeff Steinhauer made a
laboratory analog of a black hole using sound, and watched phonons
emerge from its edge. He cooled helium to a shade above 0 K and
churned it around fast enough to make a sound barrier like an event
horizon. He found signs that phonons were leaking out of his sonic
black hole just as Hawking predicted.
The results are
controversial. Silke Weinfurtner: "Jeff has done an amazing job, but
some of the claims he makes are open to debate."
2016 April 24
Cherishing the Environment
UK membership of the EU has been good for
the environment, says House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee
chair Mary Creagh: "We bathe on cleaner beaches, drive more
fuel-efficient cars, and can hold government to account on air
pollution. Inside the EU we can influence and improve EU
EU environmental laws led to Britain
recycling much more of its waste and stopping raw sewage being
pumped on to beaches, the committee heard. Witnesses implied that if
the UK were free to set its own environmental standards, it would do
so less stringently than the EU.
As long as we continue to eat animals, it is
difficult to respect their interests. Yuval Harari has described the
treatment of animals in industrial farms as perhaps the worst crime
Veal was the first factory-farming issue to
arouse public concern. After decades of lobbying, the veal industry
trade group pledged in 2007 to get rid of veal crates and shift to
group housing by 2017. Veal consumption has not recovered.
Breeding sows are often kept in crates about the same width as those
used for veal calves, and just a little longer. Sows get to be very
large animals, so in these crates they cannot walk or turn around.
In 2012, McDonald's agreed to phase out the purchase of pig meat
from producers using sow crates. Since then, more than 60 major
brands have followed.
Veal and sow crates are bad, but
battery cages for laying hens are worse. Hens are cheap, but the
sheds and so on are not. If your competitors crowd their hens more
than you do, they can sell their eggs at a lower price. Small
battery cages are still legal in the United States.
European Union, crates for veal calves, crates for pregnant sows,
and battery cages for laying hens are all illegal. In the United
States, efforts to pass nationwide legislation to protect farmed
animals have failed.
The UNFAO says livestock digestive
processes are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the
entire transport sector. A recent UK report recommends switching
existing livestock industry subsidies to alternatives and imposing a
carbon tax on meat.
Touching Feyman's Bottom
In 1959, Richard Feynman said there's
plenty of room at the bottom.
A team at Delft University
of Technology have built a memory that holds 8128 bits, 1 KB, and
measures 96 nm by 126 nm. A scanning tunneling microscope (STM)
picks up chlorine atoms on a copper surface dented with pits and
moves the atoms into and out of the pits. Each filled or vacant pit
stores 1 bit. At this density, 1 TB could be stored in a 100 μm
AR Such atomic
manipulations take us from nanotech to picotech.
2016 St George's Day
Part of being friends is being honest. My
understanding is that some of the folks on the other side have been
ascribing to the United States certain actions we will take if the
UK does leave the EU. They say, for example, that 'we will just cut
our own trade deals with the United States'.
So they are
voicing an opinion about what the United States is going to do. I
figured you might want to hear from the president of the United
States what I think the United States is going to do.
it's fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be
a UK-US trade agreement, but it's not going to happen any time soon
because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European
Union, to get a trade agreement done. The UK is going to be in the
back of the queue.
UK v EU
Leavers say outside the EU the UK could control
its borders. But net migration since 1990 from outside the EU has
been three times greater than flows from the EU.
As for red
tape, Britain is mired in it not because of Eurocrats but because
the sovereign UK parliament made it so. Leaving the EU will not
The UK could thrive outside the EU if it opened
its borders and cut more red tape. But this is not what the Leave
camp is saying and not what Brits want.
Brexiters in Search of an Empire
The UK debate on EU membership is not mainly
about economics. Nor is it really about sovereignty. And the UK has
as bad a democratic deficit as the EU. Even on immigration, no one
knows how Brexit would cut the flow to the UK.
campaign is about anger stoked by globalization. Brexiters blame
their economic woes on Brussels. Their yearning to restore British
national pride is born of desperation. Since the war, Britain has
let go of its empire.
Brexiters hark after an Anglosphere
embracing the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Yet
the English language has a growing hold in Europe. Reforming and
reconfiguring the EU can offer a new global role for the UK.
2016 Earth Day
The outcome of your decision is a matter of
deep interest to the United States. The tens of thousands of
Americans who rest in Europe's cemeteries are a silent testament to
just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are.
Our special relationship was forged as we spilled blood
together on the battlefield. It was fortified as we built and
sustained the architecture for advancing stability and prosperity in
Europe, and our democratic values around the globe.
ashes of war, those who came before us had the foresight to create
the international institutions and initiatives to sustain a
prosperous peace. Their efforts provided a foundation for democracy,
open markets, and the rule of law, while underwriting more than
seven decades of relative peace and prosperity in Europe.
Today, we face tests to this order, challenges that can only be met
if the United States and the United Kingdom can rely on one another,
on our special relationship, and on the partnerships that lead to
As citizens of the United Kingdom take stock of
their relationship with the EU, you should be proud that the EU has
helped spread British values and practices across the continent and
to its periphery. The European Union doesn't moderate British
influence, it magnifies it.
MIT Technology Review
About 10 years ago,
Roger Shawyer said if you take a truncated cone and bounce
microwaves back and forth inside it, the result is a thrust toward
the narrow end of the cone. He called it the EmDrive.
conceptual problem arises with momentum. The can's momentum
increases as it begins to move. Critics said this was an obvious
violation of the law of conservation of momentum.
teams around the world have built versions of the EmDrive and tested
them. And it seems the EmDrive really does produce thrust. Last
year, NASA conducted tests in a vacuum and confirmed that the
EmDrive produces a thrust. So far, six independent experiments have
Mike McCulloch proposes a new theory of inertia to
explain the seeming violation of
conservation of momentum. He says inertia arises from a general
relativistic effect called Unruh radiation.
Inertia is the pressure Unruh radiation exerts on an
accelerating body. At very small accelerations, the wavelengths
become bigger than the observable universe. Then inertia takes
Evidence for quantization may be the jumps
in momentum observed in some spacecraft as they fly past Earth
toward other planets. Testing this effect on Earth is hard because
the accelerations involved are so small. One way forward is to
shrink the allowed wavelengths of Unruh radiation.
have inertial mass, they exchange momentum when they reflect. But
the Unruh radiation is so small that it interacts with its immediate
environment. In the case of the EmDrive, this is the truncated cone.
The cone allows Unruh radiation of a longer wavelength at the large
end and a shorter one at the small end. So the inertia of photons
inside the cavity changes as they bounce back and forth. To conserve
momentum, this must generate a thrust.
predicts the order of magnitude of thrust in the experiments done so
far and makes two more predictions:
1 Placing a dielectric
inside the cavity should enhance the effectiveness of the thruster.
2 Changing the dimensions of the cavity can reverse the direction of
McCulloch: "This thrust reversal may have been
seen in recent NASA experiments."
The theory makes two
1 Photons have inertial mass.
speed of light changes within the cavity.
inertia on the EmDrive
AR Quantum effects on the margin of
general relativity — here be dragons.
2016 April 21
QE2 @ 90
UK monarch Queen Elizabeth II turns 90 today. The
other Elizabeth, my mother, was 19 months older but died aged 89.
The UK symbol of enduring sovereignty,
at least for some. For the rest, nominal rule by unelected
aristocrats is a strange thing
in a post-imperial world. Real
sovereignty lies with Parliament, that nominally democratic body
based on two bits of input
per voter per decade — a pitiable
bandwidth in an online world. The UK would benefit from a political
Perhaps Brexit will trigger dissolution of the UK
and its ancient (unwritten) constitution. Or perhaps the EU will
gradually take enough load off UK sovereignty to allow a smooth
transition to a more modern polity.
Trump, Clinton win
big in New York
"Islam is a political ideology
that is not compatible with
AfD deputy leader
Beatrix von Storch
with Sam Harris
The Light of the Mind:
A Conversation with
(podcast, 1 h 45 m)
AR Sam and
like the inner me. I could
have said it all —
fluently. Awesome, guys,
PDF, 202 pages, 8.1 MB
See the happy moron,
He doesn't give a damn,
I were a moron,
My God! Perhaps I am!
"I believe the loss of Britain
would destroy the European
Union. Without the counter-
weight of Britain, and with
economic hegemony will
Our exit would throw the
whole project out of
in the end fatally. These are
very, very dangerous
2016 April 20
The New York Times
January 1973: Britain joined the
European Economic Community, a forerunner of the EU.
1975: 67% of British voters endorsed UK membership of the EEC in a
February 1992: Members of the European Community
signed the Maastricht Treaty.
June 1992: Danish voters
narrowly rejected the treaty, which needed unanimous approval.
May 1993: 57% of Danish voters accepted it in a second
September 1992: 51% of French voters said yes to
the Maastricht Treaty.
June 2001: Irish voters rejected the
Nice Treaty clearing the way for 12 new members.
2002: Irish voters overwhelmingly approved the treaty in a second
September 2003: Swedes overwhelmingly rejected
membership in the eurozone.
May 2005: French voters
decisively rejected a draft EU constitution.
June 2005: Dutch
voters did the same.
June 2008: Irish voters rejected the
Lisbon Treaty enacting parts of the draft constitution.
October 2009: Irish voters reversed themselves and voted in favor of
April 2016: Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected
an EU agreement with Ukraine.
June 2016: British voters will
either accept or reject continued UK membership of the EU.
AfD vs Islam
Mit ihrer absurden Attacke
auf den Islam will sich die AfD wieder in den Vordergrund spielen.
Klar, hört man aus der AfD, Muslime dürfen Muslime bleiben. Aber
bitte nur ganz privat. Denn ihre Religion sei eigentlich gar keine
Religion, sondern eine politische Ideologie, ausgerichtet auf
Die AfD malt das Schreckensbild
einer islamischen Invasion in Deutschland, einem Land, in dem Frauen
bald nur noch vollverschleiert, wenn überhaupt, auf die Straße gehen
dürfen, wo sie und ihre dann bärtigen Männer mehrmals täglich vom
allgegenwärtigen Ruf des Muezzins zum Gebet genötigt werden. Und
wenn einer mal etwas klaut, dann Hand ab, weil Scharia. Darum muss
dieser gefährliche Islam schnell regimentiert und womöglich verboten
werden, bevor es zu spät ist.
Man muss schon bedauerlich
wenig Vertrauen in die Behauptungskraft der westlichen Kultur haben,
um in solchen Alarmismus zu verfallen.
2016 April 19
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Deutschland Vorstandsmitglied Alexander Gauland verspüre keine
besondere Neigung gegenüber Marine Le Pen, der Führerin des
französischen Front National. Es gehe ihm um die Zusammenarbeit mit
dem FN im Europaparlament. Da stehe die AfD wie der FN gegen die
Idee einer immer enger werdenden Europäischen Union.
Europaabgeordnete aus Berlin und AfD-Vizeparteichefin Beatrix von
Storch: "Der Front National ist sozialistisch, wir sind liberal. Der
Front National ist nationalistisch, wir sind patriotisch."
Tatsächlich gibt es eine Reihe von Unterschieden zwischen der AfD
und dem FN. Der FN will den Euro abschaffen, die AfD wünscht sich
einen Nord-Euro der leistungsfähigen EU-Staaten. Der FN will die EU
zerstören, die AfD sie grundsätzlich reformieren. Der FN kämpft
gegen den Ultraliberalismus der Globalisierung und setzt auf eine
Staatswirtschaft, die AfD streitet darum, wie sie es mit dem
Freihandel hält. Der FN will aus der NATO austreten, die AfD fordert
das bisher nicht.
In anderen Fragen allerdings gibt es viele
Gemeinsamkeiten. Etwa, wenn es um die Nähe zu Russland geht, um
Migranten oder die Gefahr der Islamisierung. Das Verbot von
Minaretten, Muezzins und Vollverschleierung, das die AfD fordert,
und die Charakterisierung des Islams als Fremdkörper in Europa
kommen den Positionen des FN sehr nahe.
Gauland will die AfD
sozialprotektionistisch ausrichten und mit einer klaren Absage an
den Islam und die Einwanderung von Migranten weiter Wahlen gewinnen.
Das ist letztlich das Erfolgsrezept des FN.
Jörg Meuthen, der
Ko-Parteichef aus Baden-Württemberg und Frontmann des
wirtschaftsliberalen Flügels, hat Gaulands freundliche Einlassung
gegenüber dem FN als Affront empfunden.
Geht es nach dem nordrhein-westfälische Landeschef
Europaabgeordneten Marcus Pretzell, soll der Bundesparteitag
entscheiden, welcher Fraktion die AfD
zukünftig angehören soll.
AfD-Parteichefin Frauke Petry hat sich zum Thema FN öffentlich nicht
2016 April 18
A Treasury analysis shows that under all
plausible alternatives to British membership of the EU we would have
a less open and interconnected economy, not just with Europe but,
crucially, with the rest of the world. A Canadian-style post-Brexit
deal with Europe would cause the UK economy to shrink by 6% by
2030. There would be less trade, less investment and less business.
Britain would be permanently poorer.
Those advocating exit
have miscalculated their negotiating hand: While 44% of British
exports go to the EU, less than 8% of their exports come to us. They
must engage in the issues rather than complaining endlessly about
process. This is too important a question for Britain for them to
pass on the answers. Every time they cry wolf about Project Fear,
they only expose how weak and friendless their case is.
would be enormous costs for our public finances, far outweighing the
little over one pence in every one pound in taxes raised that we
contribute net to the EU. There would not be more money to spend on
the NHS, defense, and the like. There would be far less. The
conclusion is clear: For Britain's economy and for families, leaving
the EU would be the most extraordinary self-inflicted wound.
AR When the Roman Empire retreated from
Britannia, centuries of poverty and cutural darkness followed. We
should be glad the renewed Holy Roman Empire now graces our island
2016 April 17
Brexit: Happy Morons
The IMF warns that Brexit could do severe
regional and global damage by disrupting established trading
relationships. The Bank of England warns that concerns about Brexit
might lead to some softening in growth during the first half of
2016. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Deutsche Bank all say Brexit
will hurt the UK economy.
Daniel Hannan tells us nothing will change, the short-term
effects will be slight, and no jobs will be lost. But then he says a
great deal will change, because the EU is an undemocratic superstate
that is strangling British economic life with regulations. He says
Brexit would liberate Britain from a federalist EU yet leave it free
to enjoy its free trade zone.
Access to the single market is
limited for non-EU members unless they accept EU regulations. Either
British bankers, car makers and so on will be freed from EU
regulations, in which case British exports to the EU will be
reduced, or they will not, in which case all a Brexit vote achieves
is to remove the UK from the process of making those regulations.
In 2015 Q4, the UK current account deficit hit a record 7% of
GDP. That needs to be financed. But the risk of Brexit is already
acting like a flashing red light to foreign investors. LSE
economists say leaving the EU could reduce foreign direct investment
in the UK by 22% and real income by 3.4%. Sterling is down 12%
against the euro since November. Nomura estimates that sterling
could depreciate by a further 10%-15% after a vote to leave.
Only a happy moron would ignore these dangers.
The crazy part of mathematics is when an
idea appears in your head. The idea floats in from heaven knows
where. When you try to freeze it, put it into a solid frame, or make
it face reality, then it vanishes. It gets replaced by a structure,
capturing certain aspects, but a clumsy interpretation.
Dreams happen during the daytime, they happen at night. You can call
them a vision or intuition. Basically they are a state of mind, a
very primordial feeling. And again, if you try to grasp it, it
always dies. So when you wake up in the morning, some vague residue
lingers, the ghost of an idea.
A lot of mathematics is
predictable. Somebody shows you how to solve one problem, and you do
the same thing again. Every now and again, somebody comes along with
a totally new idea and shakes everybody up. Mathematics has
continuous development, and then it has discontinuous jumps, when
suddenly somebody has a new idea. Those are the ideas that really
matter. When you get them, they have major consequences.
People think mathematics begins when you write down a theorem
followed by a proof. For me the creative place in mathematics comes
before you start to put things down on paper, before you try to
write a formula. You picture various things, you turn them over in
your mind. There are no rules laid down. You have to do it your own
2016 April 16
To accuse the Britain Stronger In Europe
(BSE) campaign of being dull and lacking passion is to misunderstand
how the referendum will be won.
The prize in this referendum
is the legion of the disinterested and half-engaged. Normal people
respond to the EU with a shrug of the shoulders and a weary sigh of
resignation that, yes, they will probably have to formulate an
opinion on this at some point. An emotional case is likely to
convince them that the wild-eyed proposer is a bit unhinged.
People who argue for a more emotional case want stirring rhetoric,
the power of the big idea, the universal truth. But normal people do
not feel their strongest emotions about abstract political ideas,
they feel them about their families, friends and communities.
Emotion is specific, not general.
Many failed political
campaigns were run by people who cared far too much about politics.
The electorate mistrusts ardent passion.
Hostility to migration is an animating
force for many who want the UK to leave the European Union.
Migration has made us what we are today: an increasingly globalized
society. Much of our economy and governance is shared across
increasingly large chunks of the world.
Efforts to free the
movement of goods and services and capital have left labor under a
patchwork of national controls. Voters fear immigrants will steal
their jobs and reduce their prosperity. In fact immigrants expand
economies and raise prosperity.
The UK government vows to
slash immigration and balance the books. It cannot do both at once.
Avoiding a budget deficit requires an influx of young, hard-working
and tax-paying immigrants.
The other factor is tribalism.
People accustomed to cultural uniformity fear the arrival of
incomers who are different. But the history of cultural mixing shows
this need not prevent peaceful coexistence.
intergovernmental agency to collect data and formulate global rules
is long overdue.
AR Leave the UN
to regulate an issue that makes voters angry?
Red Army Tanks
In March 1944, the first IS-2 Stalin tanks
were proved in action. More than 3,000 were built before Victory Day.
Hasso von Manteuffel called the IS-2 the best tank of WW2.
The ISU-152 assault gun was based on the IS-2 and armed with a 152
mm howitzer. It was nicknamed "Animal Hunter" and its AP
penetrate Tiger frontal armor.
During the war, the Soviet Union built
more than 125,000 AFVs. Germany built some 89,000 AFVs and only
2,000 of them were Tigers and King Tigers. There was no chance for
Germany to win the war on the Eastern Front against the power of the
During a lecture on identity in London two weeks ago, Ian McEwan
said: "It makes a difference whether you have an X or Y chromosome."
This upset many transgender people and campaigners. He later
clarified his remarks with the weariness of someone who has endured
such squalls before.
McEwan does not
seem built for controversy. The comments that provoke usually flow
from his interest in science. His novels are known more for set
pieces and narrative control than didactic politics. That scientific
bent grounds him in doubt, evidence and other scourges of ideology.
We Are Zombies
Our sense of free will appears only after
the fact. Our brains add loops to our mental timeline that let us
feel we can predict things that in reality have already happened.
Adam Bear and Paul Bloom let volunteers look at five white blobs
and silently guess which one would turn red. Once a blob had changed
color, they reported whether or not they had predicted correctly.
Over many trials, their reported accuracy was significantly
better than 1 in 5. With delays before a blob turned red ranging
from 50 ms to 1 s, accuracy was up to 1 in 3 when the delays were
shortest, as if seeing the red blob influenced predictions still in
The research highlights the fictions we tell
ourselves about free will. Bear: "We are essentially zombie agents
most of the time."
AR My opinion: The brain gives us a quick
glimpse of sense impressions before processing is complete just in
case we need to respond to an urgent threat, then the cortex does
its thing and we sense a fully processed scene. My evidence: Look
quickly at the moving second hand on a clock. For one beat the hand
seems to move backwards, then goes forward as usual. We glimpse a
raw scene, then get the full cortical view, which
overlays the memory on the mental
2016 April 15
EU: In or Out?
11 am — 3 pm
Julie Girling, MEP for South West England and Gibraltar
former UKIP PPC for Bournemouth West
The IMF, the OECD, the CBI, and the
governor of the Bank of England have all made strong and clear
arguments against a British exit from the EU. Yet many people choose
not to believe them.
The danger for the
Remainers is that the Leavers manage to attract the undecided who do
not know what to believe. The Remainers have to flip the issue of
disbelief. We believe our friends. Over the next two months the real
battle is going to be fought in homes and workplaces as people turn
to friends and family, bosses and colleagues, people they trust and
Remain and Reform EU
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: "The case
I'm making is for remain and reform in Europe."
He compared his case with that to remain in Labour throughout
the Blair years, an institution he has since changed from within.
His message to the left was that they can achieve similar feats in
Brussels. His verdict: "Britain needs to stay in the EU as the best
framework for trade, manufacturing, and cooperation in 21st century
Corbyn is no EU evangelist. But referendums are won
or lost on the votes of the waverers.
Among British Muslims, about a quarter
support the imposition of sharia law in the UK, a half would
criminalize same-sex relationships, three quarters say there should
be no right to publish images of Mohammed, and as many (4%) support
the right to publish pictures of Mohammed as sympathize with suicide
Muslims have a young age profile, the Muslim
population is growing rapidly, and Islam is almost always passed on
from parents to children. Apostates face abuse, death threats and
murders. They need our support.
2016 April 14
The rise of Daesh confounds the predominant
Western view of the world. For the current generation of liberal
thinkers, Daesh can only be a mysterious and disastrous anomaly.
Daesh acts of barbarism have modern precedents. The
Nazis exploited a medieval Christian demonology in their persecution
and genocide of Jews, but Nazism also invoked a modern pseudoscience
of race to legitimate these atrocities. The increase of knowledge
has repeatedly interacted with human conflicts and passions to
produce new kinds of barbarism.
A transnational crime
cartel, rapidly expanding apocalyptic cult movement, and worldwide
terror network like Daesh could have emerged only in modern
conditions of globalization. Though its eschatological beliefs are
explicitly religious, Daesh is the latest example of a recurring
Civilization is not the endpoint of modern
history, but a succession of interludes in recurring spasms of
barbarism. The liberal civilization that has prevailed in some
Western countries over the past few centuries emerged slowly and
with difficulty against the background of a particular mix of
traditions and institutions. Precarious wherever it has existed, it
is a way of life that has no strong hold on humankind.
Liberal civilization is a historical singularity that is inherently
fragile. Defending it against Daesh requires a clear perception that
Daesh will have to be defeated and destroyed.
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Electric sail concept
"My big book is next to do."
SpaceX has landed a Falcon
on a pad on a drone
ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
launched the rocket
from Cape Canaveral to send
a Dragon cargo
capsule to the
International Space Station.
US robot sub hunter diesel
prototype can stay
at sea for months on end.
$2 Billion AI Chip
The Nvidia Tesla P100 chip
designed for deep learning.
Google AlphaGo used deep
to master the game
Go. Artificial neural networks
learning today use
chips originally designed for
video game graphics.
Nvidia sees a
for custom chips.
Taxpayers of the World,
Panama papers confirm
that the global elite cheats,
steals. Will the
masses rise up in
World leaders, criminals,
and billionaire sheikhs have
poured hundreds of millions of
pounds into London properties.
Panama papers show the
UK capital is the go-to place
foreigners and criminals to protect their
US Naval Museum
of Armament and
China Lake, California
Naval Air Warfare Center
Weapons Division is recognized
for a number of
occasionally calls on NAWCWD
to lend expertise to projects
"My video will be
(2010, 2.6 MB)
"We can't be the policeman to
the world and have $19 trillion
debt, going up to $21 trillion."
Donald Trump talks with
the Washington Post
"Call me old-fashioned, but
I tend to think of people
penises as men."
Tata accuses David Cameron
into the steel
crisis by helping China to block
EU efforts to
on its cheap imports.
2016 April 13
Stephen Hawking, Mark Zuckerberg, and Yuri Milner
make up the board of directors for Breakthrough Starshot, a $100
million program to send "nanocraft" to explore star system Alpha
Hawking: "Today, we commit to this
next great leap into the cosmos. Because we are human, and our
nature is to fly."
The project is led by NASA
Ames Research Center former director Pete Worden and advised by a
committee of top scientists and engineers. They hope to build
hundreds of little space probes, each weighing just a few grams and
carrying cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation and
communication equipment. A rocket would ferry these nanocraft into
space, where they would unfold tiny sails.
beams from Earth would then push the sails, propelling the little
nanocraft up to 0.2c (20% of light speed) to Alpha Centauri, where
they would collect images and other data and beam them back to
Earth. The Alpha Centauri star system is about 41 Pm (4.4 light
years) away, so the nanocraft could reach Alpha Centauri in about
630 Ms (20 years).
Milner: "The human story is one of great
leaps. Fifty-five years ago today [April 12], Yuri Gagarin became the first
human in space. Today, we are preparing for the next great leap —
to the stars."
Mars In 30 Minutes
A laser propulsion system could complete a
trip to Mars in 30 days (2.6 Ms). In principle the travel time could
be reduced to 30 minutes (2 ks). A small spacecraft would be
launched into space and deploy a large photon sail. An
immensely powerful laser orbiting Earth would fire a beam at the sail, propelling the craft.
In theory it could accelerate
to 0.5c (25% light speed) in a few minutes.
California physics professor Philip Lubin: "We propose a roadmap to
a program that will lead to sending relativistic probes to the
nearest stars and will open up a vast array of possibilities of
flight both within our solar system and far beyond. These systems
can be propelled to speeds currently unimaginable with existing
The NASA Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transport
System (HERTS) concept builds upon the electric sail invention of
Finnish meteorologist Pekka Janhunen of the Finnish Meteorological
Institute. A large circular e-sail made of long thin bare wires
electrostatically repels fast solar protons, which
generates thrust. Extending outward from the center of the
spacecraft, 10 to 20 electrically charged bare aluminum wires form the e-sail. Each wire is 1 mm in diameter and 30 km long. The
spacecraft rotates at one revolution per hour so that centrifugal
forces stretch the wires out straight. The e-sail has a large
effective area at long ranges: about 60 kha at 1 AU and twice this
at 5 AU. Engineers can steer the spacecraft by modulating voltage in
the individual wires in the sail.
NASA principal investigator
for the HERTS e-sail Bruce Wiegmann: "The sun releases protons and
electrons into the solar wind at very high speeds — 400 to 750 km
per second. The e-sail would use these protons to propel the
spacecraft. With the continuous flow of protons, and the increased
area, the e-sail will continue to accelerate to 16-20 AU, at least
three times farther than the solar sail. This will create much
higher speeds. Our investigation has shown that an interstellar
probe mission propelled by an e-sail could travel to the heliopause
in just under 10 years."
2016 April 12
Brexit: IMF Warning
The International Monetary Fund warns of
"severe" damage on the UK and world economy if a majority of Brits
vote to leave the EU on June 23. The IMF cites the referendum as one
of the main risks to global economic stability. All the IMF board
members ratified the view.
IMF chief economist Maurice
Obstfeld: "The planned June referendum on EU membership has already
created uncertainty for investors."
The IMF says the
referendum is already hitting the UK by lowering investment. If the
UK votes to remain in the EU, the forecasts show the UK again as one
of the world's stronger advanced economies. If the UK votes to leave
the EU, the IMF sees no positive consequences.
George Osborne: "The IMF has given us the clearest independent
warning of the taste of bad things to come if Britain leaves the
New scans reveal the profound
impact of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) on the brain. Volunteers
injected with a dose of the psychedelic drug showed changes that
altered activity and connectivity across the brain, suggesting new
theories of visual hallucinations and trip experiences.
Trippers experience images drawn from many parts of the brain, not
just visual cortex. Under the drug, regions once segregated
communicate with one another. Some brain regions that usually form a
network become more separated in a feeling of oneness with the
universe and ego dissolution.
David Nutt: "This is to
neuroscience what the Higgs boson was to particle physics. We didn't
know how these profound effects were produced. It was too difficult
to do. Scientists were either scared or couldn't be bothered to
overcome the enormous hurdles to get this done."
Robin Carhart-Harris invited 20 healthy volunteers to attend a
clinic on two separate days. One day they received an injection of
75 μg of LSD and on the other a placebo. Using three brain imaging
techniques, arterial spin labeling, resting state MRI, and MEG, the
scientists measured blood flow, functional connections within and
between brain networks, and brainwaves in the subjects.
Carhart-Harris: "This experience is sometimes framed in a religious
or spiritual way, and seems to be associated with improvements in
wellbeing after the drug's effects have subsided."
AR My 1973 trip led to my 2009 book
2016 April 11
The Man Who Knew Infinity
Srinivasa Ramanujan was an untrained genius
who a hundred years ago travelled from his home in Madras, India, to
the UK to study mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
The Theory of Everything about Stephen Hawking and
Imitation Game about Alan Turing,
The Man Who Knew Infinity attempts to give us a glimpse of an
unknowable mind traversing the realm of abstract thought.
Cambridge mathematician G. H. Hardy recognized Ramanujan's potential
and invited him to the UK. Once there, Ramanujan had to overcome
British weather, racism, and a lack of good vegetarian food. Trinity
College serves as a backdrop for most of the film.
rages at atheist Hardy during one argument over the need for proof:
"An equation has no meaning to me unless it expresses a thought of
Mathematician Ken Ono, who has made a career of
studying Ramanujan's notebooks, served as a consultant on the movie.
It plays safe.
AR I saw both this
movie and the Hawking one (for the first time) over the weekend.
2016 April 10
The revelations in the leaked Panama papers
have big implications for governments and businesses worldwide. The
papers show how Mossack Fonseca helped the Syrian regime of Bashar
al-Assad hide away vast amounts of cash and how Vladimir Putin sits
in a billion-dollar money laundering network.
It is not
enough to say the rich get richer and the meek inherit the mess.
Dictators, criminals, and human rights abusers aside, the names of a
host of political leaders and administrators, banks and businesses,
and celebrities and sportspeople appear in the papers. We expect
better of them.
In the 2008 financial crash, some of the
biggest British, American and European banks and financial
institutions plunged much of the world into austerity and recession.
Since then, western governments continue to tolerate and facilitate
the opportunistic and often illegal exploitation of a global
financial system that lacks agreed rules and effective regulation.
A new body overseen by the UN should set rules, enforce
standards, scrutinize questionable transactions, and expose and
punish the unscrupulous miscreants and their cheating clients.
GO and do it right.
2016 April 9
The Brexit debate is kabuki, a common
Washington metaphor for stylized but meaningless posturing.
Politicians call referendums to get out of domestic political jams.
The UK prime minister needed to stage a negotiation in which he
appeared to wring concessions out of other European governments.
This proved a challenge. There are few principled issues where
London suffers outside the European consensus.
negotiation ushered in the referendum. The Remain camp seems likely
to prevail. The opposition, business, foreign investors, and most
educated commentators all back the government, and in referendums
undecided voters tend to favor the status quo.
unlikely to exit Europe even if its citizens voted to do so. The
government would probably negotiate a new agreement, like the old
one, disguise it in opaque language and ratify it. Renegotiation
inside the EU would be almost inevitable.
The lesson is
simple. Europe is real because globalization is real. Even
politicians who have mastered kabuki must sooner or later face
2016 April 8
Sam Harris and Dan Carlin
The phenomenon that most worries me is the fact that you can be
someone without any political grievances and an Internet meme gets
into your head. A person may have been born Muslim or not, but at a
certain point he read the books and goes down the rabbit hole. The
moment you accept that millions of people believe in Paradise, you
must admit the game has changed.
The vast majority of Islamic folks are embarrassed and horrified by
the whole thing and are getting blowback in their own personal
lives. The people who are going to win this war for us are Muslim.
So anything we do that alienates them is counterproductive in the
SH Islamists are people who
are trying to impose Islam on society politically. They want a state
religion wherever they live, to be obliged to live under Sharia law.
Jihadists are the subset of Islamists who are willing to do this
through violence immediately. The broader set of Islamists just want
to do it through some political process, but the goal is Sharia law
DC The question is,
how far are you willing to go in a crusade.
SH We need some global institution that
marshals the appropriate use of force. We are talking about the
problem of building and maintaining a global civilization.
AR We need
2016 April 7
For a full millennium the areas that are now
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Belgium,
Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were encompassed by the Holy Roman
Empire, which also extended across most of Italy, and parts of
France, Denmark, and Poland.
The Empire emerged from an
alliance between the papacy and Charlemagne, who was crowned in Rome
on Christmas Day 800. Both parties presented it as a direct
continuation of the Roman Empire. It was the political guardian of a
universal Christian civilization.
The Empire collapsed in
1806, brought down by relentless French aggression. Its history
belies the assumption that Europe has been and always will be a
continent of distinct peoples, each inhabiting their own country
defined by language, culture, and political organization.
rise of the state is a story of kings and queens, statesmen and
others, credited with creating institutions, passing laws, adding
ideas and so on. External wars became struggles to delineate each
state. Civil wars and revolutions were about the social distribution
of power within the state. But attempts to articulate identity
fragmented populations into ever smaller groups.
Union is intended to overcome the most destructive aspects of
nationalism by providing a framework in which sovereign states can
cooperate. Its fundamental weakness is that it is constructed from
states still considered as sovereign and inhabited by distinct
peoples. Its "democratic deficit" and the lack of a meaningful
European identity arise because democratic rights and citizenship
are determined by national constitutions.
inherent in the EU between national sovereignty and political union
have been obvious since the financial crash of 2008 and the eurozone
crisis. But sovereignty has already been irrevocably undermined by
other global forces. The old conception of the state is rapidly
losing its practical relevance.
national states offered uniform citizenship and uniform obligations,
notably in taxation and in blood through the duty to defend their
state. The scale of war grew in the century after 1850 because
states learned to marshal their populations into mass armies to
fight bigger wars. Today there is no appetite for the level of
sacrifice witnessed in those wars, and the economic forms needed for
them are no longer present.
The nation state is a transient
form of political organization. The recent spasm of nationalism in
Europe, from Poland to France, is a reaction to the migrant crisis
and terrorism. But nations cannot solve these problems on their own.
They need to integrate.
2016 April 6
Climate Change: Deadline 2017
Power generation infrastructure is
responsible for a quarter of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions. In the EU, 29% of thermal power plants are more than 30
years old and 61% are more than 20 years old. Because CO2
remains in the atmosphere for centuries, we need to think not of
annual flows but of cumulative emissions and a global carbon budget.
In a new
ScienceDirect paper, four Oxford academics use Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data to ask how we can keep global
temperature increase below 2 K. If new generating plants are
operated to the end of their normal economic lives, they say capital
stock created after 2017 would break the global carbon budget.
Reduced emissions from other activities cannot help much.
Decarbonization of power generation is the best way to decarbonize
transport, via new electric vehicles.
1 An immediate shift to
zero-emissions (ZE) tech
the stock with carbon capture and storage (CCS) tech
3 Replace new capital stock with ZE
capacity early in its life
new tech to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere
AR I say go nuclear now, go solar later.
Obama on Brexit
President Harry Truman, 1947: "It must be the
policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting
attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."
The Truman Doctrine began with
funds for Greece and Turkey. It continued with the Marshall Plan,
the Berlin airlift, and NATO. It worked: the Soviet Union collapsed.
From the earliest days of the doctrine, America has urged
European unity. Marshall Plan architect Dean Acheson worked with
European community pioneer Jean Monnet and agreed on European union.
The Truman Doctrine made the organization of Europe part of US
national interest. So of course President Obama will have a view
about whether Britain should remain in the EU.
London needs a leader. I don't think that
either of the mainstream party candidates are leaders. Ken
Livingstone and Boris Johnson were slightly out of the ordinary
A germ of extremism and sectarianism
infects a minority of the Muslim ummah. In Britain, thousands of
extremists carry within them a sectarian and fanatic interpretation
of Islam, which is deeply damaging to Islam, to themselves, and of
course to the innocent people who they harm.
It was always a
big ask for a Pakistani called Sadiq Khan to be elected, because of
the terrible levels of Islamophobia that exist. He's a very poor
speaker, he has very little presence. He has alienated people who
might otherwise have voted for him.
Jeremy Corbyn will be
challenged. Khan would be handpicked to deliver the bullet. He'd be
the man in the proverbial grey suit, and I think Corbyn knows that.
2016 April 5
The notion that no small country can be
sovereign threatens democracy. This notion is not reserved for
countries like Greece but is today being peddled in the UK for the
The problem begins once the
distinction between sovereignty and power is blurred. Sovereignty is
about who decides legitimately on behalf of a people.
alliance of states like the EU can arrange a defensive military
alliance, coordinate police forces, open borders, agree common
industry standards, or create a single market. But it can never
legitimately overrule the sovereignty of one of its member states on
the basis of the power granted by the sovereign states that agreed
to participate in it.
Within the EU, a national parliament is
sovereign in theory even if the nation is not particularly powerful.
In practice, the European Council and the Eurogroup of finance
ministers are not answerable to any parliament, nor indeed to any
North Europeans often say all the frugal and
cautious Europeans live in the north, while the spendthrifts
congregate in the south. The reality is much more muddled. A mighty
network of corrupt practices extends over all our countries. A lack
of democracy helps hide it from public view.
Britain remaining in the EU. The union will disintegrate even if a
small country like Greece leaves, let alone a big one like Britain.
Its disintegration will create a vortex that consumes us all.
2016 April 4
How did we end up here?
Tariq Ramadan lectures about Islam. He
debates the need to adapt secularism to religion in Western
democracy, to accept traditions imported by minority communities.
His task is to dissuade people from criticizing his religion in any
way. The students who hear him will never dare to confront Islam,
lest they appear Islamophobic.
Take this veiled woman. She is
courageous and dignified, devoted to her family and her children.
She harms no one. Even those women who wear the full body veil do
not generally use their clothing to hide bombs. They too will do
The local baker has just bought the nearby
bakery. He makes good croissants. He always has a ready smile for
all his customers. Neither his long beard nor the little
prayer-bruise on his forehead (a sign of his great piety) bother his
clientele. They are too busy eating his lunchtime sandwiches. No
more ham nor bacon, but there are plenty of other options on offer.
So it would be silly to make a fuss.
Take this young
delinquent. He has never looked at the Quran in his life, he knows
little of the history of religion, of colonialism, nor a great deal
about his Maghreb forefathers. This lad and a couple of his buddies
order a taxi to Brussels airport.
Everyone contributes to
what is about to happen in the airport or metro of Brussels. All of
us submit to the fear of controversy and the dread of being treated
as a racist or an Islamophobe. From the bakery that forbids you to
eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to say you are
troubled by her veil, we are being forced into retreat.
Elected leaders and top officials from around
the world are responding with denials and outrage to allegations
that they used secret offshore companies and accounts to hide
billions of dollars. More than 11 million leaked documents allegedly
show that Panama law firm
helped set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts for
prominent people across Europe, Asia, the Mideast, Africa, and the
AR I wear my poverty
with pride. No laundry service for me!
2016 April 3
Trump: NATO Obsolete, UN Political Game
The New York Times
Donald J. Trump says
other NATO members are "not paying their fair share" in comparison
with the United States: "That means we are protecting them, giving
them military protection and other things, and they're ripping off
the United States. And you know what we do? Nothing. Either they
have to pay up for past deficiencies or they have to get out. And if
it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO."
On letting Japan and
South Korea build their own nuclear arsenals rather than relying on
US protection: "We have to let them take care of themselves and if
that means they have to some day get nuclear weapons ... And
frankly, the case could be made, that let them protect themselves
against North Korea. They'd probably wipe them out pretty quick."
Trump: "By the way, United Nations ... Do they ever settle
anything? It's just like a political game. The United Nations — I
mean the money we spend on the United Nations."
AR World War 2 left the United States
(plus a dying British Empire) and the Soviet Union (plus a nascent
China) victorious and Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan defeated. The
UN was founded in 1945 and NATO in 1949. Now
it may be time for a new
world order in which Germany and Japan emerge from US tutelage and
become regular states.
The UN Security Council permanent
members (P5) are presently China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and
the United States. Kicking France and the United Kingdom off
the P5 and putting in Japan and Germany would be one way to persuade
Japan and Germany to "pay their way" in a new world order based on
AR proposes a Global Order (GO)
with a Regional Council R7 to replace P5:
1 America, led by the United States
2 Europe, led by the
European Union (with a veto for the UK?)
3 Central Asia, led
by Russia (with a veto for Iran?)
4 Mideast and Africa, left
vacant while they sort themselves out
5 South Asia, led by
India (with a veto for Pakistan?)
6 East Asia, led by China
(with a veto for Vietnam?)
7 Pacific, led by Japan (with a
veto for Australia?)
2016 April 2
The Daesh goal in Brussels was to scare
and divide Europeans. In Germany and elsewhere, nationalist parties
are calling for a turn inward. The appeal to emotion plays into
In the Mideast, we must distinguish the
people fleeing war and terror in Syria or Iraq from the radical
militants there. The Brussels attacks were carried out by EU
citizens. Winning requires reaching out to European Muslims.
Europe is becoming less vital for the United States. President Obama
sees the ME region as less important to US interests than the
challenge of China and the rise of Asia and Latin America.
The European Union must take on more responsibility for shaping the
1 Committing money to
the region. We must improve conditions in refugee camps in countries
like Jordan and Lebanon. We must invest more in the ME economic
2 Shaping a unified ME
policy. We should work with the United States to persuade Russia to
allow the creation of UN humanitarian zones in Syria. We would then
contribute troops to an international peacekeeping mission.
3 Preserving the transatlantic
partnership. More US help on refugees would be welcome. As the
United States pivots away from the Mideast, Europe will have to take
We cannot let terrorism tear Europe apart.
2016 April 1
Small battlefield nuclear weapons developed by
Pakistan could fall into the hands of terrorists if the country does
not do more to secure its arsenal.
US USoS for
arms control and international security Rose Gottemoeller: "We have
made our concerns known and we will continue to press them about
what we consider to be the destabilizing aspects of their
battlefield nuclear weapons program."
military advisor Khalid Ahmed Kidwai: "We are not apologetic about
the development of the tactical nuclear weapons. They are here to
AR Next year: "Trump Nukes
Pak Nukes" perhaps?
However sexual our bodies may be, we need to
have the freedom as women to choose when and how we express our
sexuality. We are more than just our bodies, but that doesn't mean
we have to be shamed for them or our sexuality. Even if being
sexualized by society's gaze is demeaning, there must be a space
where women can still be sexual when they choose to be.
AR Men too?
Refugee in Greece
US president Barack Obama
the Daesh caliph
is a top goal of the final year
Daesh is a network. You cannot
The theory of
six degrees of separation says
you know someone
someone who knows someone
who knows someone who
someone who knows the caliph.
Think of Daesh as the
of Islamic extremism. Even a
hundred drone strikes
its supposed leaders would not
destroy it. They might
strengthen it by reinforcing
its martyrdom mania.
Iraq surge commander
General Stanley McChrystal:
"It takes a
defeat a network."
2016 March 31
The Right To Be Forgotten
Human beings need to be able to conduct their
lives without constant scrutiny and reminders of their follies and
mistakes. But if information is in the public domain the public has
the right to see it and to find it on the internet. The right to be
forgotten is like letting people take a pair of scissors to the
index of every book in the world.
First Amendment rights
should trump those to privacy. Freedom of speech and freedom of
expression are the primary safeguards against secrecy, abuse of
power and tyranny. Large internet companies devise the algorithms
that govern the way we gather knowledge. The fact that they have a
North American sensibility makes them immune to intimidation by the
rest of the world.
Repatriation of decisions now taken by
multinational companies such as Google is of more benefit to
authoritarians than it is to the rest of us. European democrats
moaning about the sins of Big Cyber should be careful what they wish
for. Young Americans have done a pretty good job of opening up the
world of information and free expression.
2016 March 30
The biggest problem in the world is nuclear
proliferation. The Iran deal is not long enough, because at the end
of the deal they're going to have nuclear capability. They are now
rich, and they're buying from everybody but the United States. Iran
is the #1 trading partner of North Korea. We just did a deal with
them, and we didn't even mention North Korea. Part of that deal
should have been that Iran would help us with North Korea.
The reason we're in the Mideast is for oil. And all of a sudden
there's less reason to be. Now we're in the Mideast for defense. I
was against the war in Iraq. I thought it would destabilize the
Mideast, and it has destabilized it. Iraq is totally corrupt. We
destroyed the military capability of Iraq and destroyed Iraq, and
Iran is now going to take over Iraq. We should have taken the oil.
Saddam Hussein was a bad guy but he was good at one thing:
Killing terrorists. Now if you want to be a terrorist you go to
Iraq. I said take the oil, but now we have a different situation
because now we have to go in again and start fighting. Now I say
knock the hell out of the oil.
We are not being reimbursed
for our protection of many countries. Saudi Arabia would be a
catastrophic failure without our protection. We have to be
substantially reimbursed. Our country is a debtor nation. We spend
so much on the military, but the military is policeman for other
I have two problems with NATO. One, it's obsolete.
When NATO was formed many decades ago we were a different country.
The threat was the Soviet Union, not Russia. We should be looking at
terror, because terror today is the big threat. Two, we pay far too
much. NATO is unfair, economically, to the United States. We pay a
disproportionate share. NATO has to be changed to include terror and
from the standpoint of cost.
I support a two-state solution
on Israel. But the Palestinian Authority has to recognize Israel's
right to exist as a Jewish state. And they have to stop the terror,
stop the attacks, stop the teaching of hatred. You have to get those
basic things done.
I want a strong United States. Before I
worry about China I have to worry about the United States. We have
lost millions of jobs. And the jobs that we have are bad jobs. It
has to be stopped, fast. I know how to stop it.
I am America
First. We have been disrespected, mocked, and ripped off for many
years. We were the big bully, but we were not smartly led. And we
were systematically ripped off by everybody. From China to Japan to
South Korea to the Mideast. The whole thing is preposterous. We will
not be ripped off anymore.
One of the presidents that I
really liked was Ronald Reagan. But NAFTA has been a disaster for
our country. I was a fan of Douglas MacArthur. I was a fan of George
Patton. I know the Air Force Academy and West Point and Annapolis, I
know that great people come out of those schools. We need a
different mind set.
2016 March 29
Daesh has created an infrastructure in
Europe. The Brussels bombers had been involved in the Paris attacks
and they could call on experts for logistics, explosives, and
Belgium has a fractured
administration, a confused government, and an inefficient
bureaucracy. The constitution has been reformed several times and
central power is weak. There is a Flemish prime minister, a
Wallonian prime minister, and a prime minister for all of Belgium.
It takes months to form a Belgian government. The country resembles
a failed state.
The Brussels metropolitan area has a
population of 1.1 million, divided up among 19 municipalities and
6 police districts. The European district sticks out like a UFO. The
police and security services are busy guarding the headquarters of
NATO and the EU governing bodies: the European Commission, the
European Parliament, and the European Council.
of Molenbeek and former Belgian interior minister Philippe Moureaux:
"Unfortunately, Europe is developing into a large Belgium, instead
of Belgium developing into a small Europe."
2016 March 28
The European Union was wrong to
construct a single currency without a proper banking union. It was
wrong to muddle through the eurozone crisis. EU leaders failed to
generate public support for deeper union.
The EU can deal
with only one big crisis at a time. The output of several eurozone
countries has yet to return to pre-crisis levels. The Greek economy
continues to contract, and refugees have been trapped in Greece in
ever greater numbers. Security was hit by austerity as governments
found it easier to cut spending on the police and military than on
The EU has suffered a loss of trust and
political capital. If the EU fails to solve problems, people
hesitate to give it new powers. Populist parties on the left and the
right are exploiting its failures. This frustrates good ideas for
further steps toward European integration, such as central agencies
to coordinate the fight against terrorism and to deal with the
influx of refugees.
The EU choice to muddle through the
financial crisis was a catastrophic policy error. It has not only
given us an economic depression but also destroyed public confidence
in the EU and in European integration.
2016 March 27
Russia has a special role in European and
global history. Adoption of Christianity in 988 CE boosted state
institutions and in time made Rus a member of the European
community. The Russian state that emerged was later seen as the
successor to the Byzantine Empire that ended in 1453 CE.
Peter the Great made Russia into a leading European country in a
little over two decades. In the Seven Years War, Russian troops made
a triumphal entry into Berlin, the capital of Prussia. Russian power
and influence grew substantially under Catherine the Great.
For the past two centuries, any attempts to unite Europe without and
against Russia have led tragedy. Emperor Alexander I took an active
role in the 1815 Vienna Congress that ended the Napoleonic Wars.
After Russia was defeated in the Crimean War, Prussia defeated
France and a chain of events led to the First World War. That war
led to the collapse of four empires.
The 1917 Russian
Revolution and the ensuing civil war and Second World War were
terrible tragedies for our nation. European elites unleashed the
Nazi war machine on the Soviet Union. The notion of the clash of two
totalitarianisms now pushed in Europe is groundless and immoral. The
Soviet Union, for all its evils, never aimed to destroy entire
nations. Winston Churchill said that living in accordance with
conscience is the Russian way of doing things.
Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union influenced the formation of
welfare states in the West. The next 40 years were a surprisingly
good time for Western Europe, which was spared the need to make its
own major decisions under the umbrella of the US-Soviet
confrontation and enjoyed unique opportunities for steady
Western European countries have implemented
several ideas regarding conversion of the capitalist and socialist
models. But over the past 20 years, we have seen a reversal in
Europe and the United States: the reduction of the middle class,
increased social inequality, and the dismantling of controls over
big business. Leaders of former Warsaw Pact countries that are now
in the EU or NATO say they cannot take any big decision without a
green light from Washington or Brussels.
The Cold War was far
from ideal, yet it preserved international peace and avoided the use
of nuclear weapons. There is no substance behind the popular belief
that the end of the Soviet Union signified Western victory. It arose
from a Russian will for change plus an unlucky chain of events.
There was a unique opportunity to change the European
architecture on the principles of indivisible security and
cooperation. We had a chance to implement the dream of a common
European home. Russia was open to this option and advanced many
proposals and initiatives. Unfortunately, our Western partners opted
to expand NATO eastward.
The Western policy disregarded the
global context. Globalization has led to the dispersal of global
economic might and to the emergence of new centers of power in the
Asia-Pacific region. A reliable solution to the problems of the
modern world can only be achieved through serious and honest
cooperation between the leading states and their associations.
Russian president Vladimir Putin calls for a broad front to
defeat Islamists militarily. Success can only be achieved in a
partnership of civilizations based on respectful interaction of
diverse cultures and religions. We believe that human solidarity
must have a moral basis formed by traditional values. Patriarch
Kirill and Pope Francis have expressed support for the family as a
natural center of life of individuals and society.
We are not
seeking confrontation with the United States, or the European Union,
or NATO. On the contrary, Russia is open to the widest possible
cooperation with its Western partners. We will continue to defend
the principles of law and justice in international affairs.
The attacks in Belgium were
shocking. Unfortunately the attacks are going to keep coming. This
threat is global. To defeat it we need to end the denial about what
is happening within Islam.
A narrative has developed within
Islam about the religion, its place in the world, its purposes, and
its proper relationship to politics and society. This has
intensified its religiosity and changed the way it interacts with
other faiths. It is incompatible with the modern world.
Islamism begets Islamist extremism. This view of Islam attracts many
millions. We face not simply a fringe of fanatics but a wide
spectrum of Islamism. This ideology is not interested in
coexistence. It seeks not dialog but dominance. It must be defeated.
There are two parts to any new strategy. In the short term:
1 We need to improve intelligence cooperation between the key
2 We must control flows of people across
Europe, for they are an unacceptable security risk.
3 We must
crush the Daesh caliphate, for it is a source of recruitment.
4 We must address the conflicts and grievances that allow these
groups to flourish.
5 We have Mideast allies in the fight
against extremism: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel.
In the long
1 We must build military capability to confront and
defeat the terrorists wherever they try to hold territory. This is a
challenge for the West. Ground forces are necessary to win this
2 We need a global commitment on education where
countries accept responsibility for promoting religious and cultural
tolerance and rooting out prejudice from their education systems.
3 We need to boost the capacity of civic society to counter
extremism. This ranges from correcting interpretations of scripture
to publishing content that counters the extremist narrative.
4 We should focus aid and development policy on institution and
capacity building, making countries resilient and open to progress,
to secure their future and ours.
5 We need to recognize the
role of women and the position of girls both as victims of this
ideology and as hugely powerful in the fight against it.
is like defeating revolutionary communism
or fascism. We have to win.
2016 March 26
Terrorists hit Brussels at a time when EU
member states had begun to fear the increasingly shaky supranational
construction they had spent decades building.
European leaders say no Muslim immigration equals no terrorist
attacks. The British ask whether they should leave the EU, retake
control over their own security, as part of the Five Eyes
intelligence alliance. If the British vote in June for Brexit, other
nations, such as Hungary and Poland, will be tempted to follow.
The Belgian predicament mirrors that of Europe. EU officials
have worked hard to move past nationalism, so there is no German or
French Dream. But there is not yet a European Dream either. New
migrants have no spirit to tap into, and mainstream European Muslims
are failing to keep their youth immune from extremism.
still do not have a common European terrorism database. Islamists in
Western Europe seem better coordinated than the EU authorities
Leavers claim that if we left the
EU we would be better able to keep terrorists out of Britain.
EU free movement means the ability of EU citizens to work in
Britain, not to enter Britain unchecked. The UK operates full border
controls for all entrants into the UK, irrespective of nationality
or point of entry. The UK conducts security checks on the passports
of everyone, including all EU citizens, entering the UK.
will not join the Schengen zone, so control of our borders will
remain in national hands.
Boris Johnson has killed the distinction
between reality and satire. Incompetence is not funny. Policy vacuum
is not funny. Administrative sloth, breaking promises, and a
careless disregard for the truth are not funny.
If Leave win
the coming referendum, a leadership bid by Boris will be imminent.
The abyss into which it would tumble is his record. When the media
turn nasty, as it will, his powers of laughing everything off will
Conservatives should end their affair with this
2.2, 40 seats, Virgin options 10
Don't Spy On Us
A coalition of
privacy, free expression,
and digital rights in the
UK and in Europe
The Investigatory Powers Bill
the powers of the
police and security services.
It will give
bulk collection and hacking
powers and force
collect and store details
of the websites their
Terror and Brexit
After the Brussels attacks
we need to use our brains.
This is not about the EU.
two brothers identified in the
airport attack were
in Brussels. Free movement in
the EU benefits
not much. Had the EU never
existed, the Syrian
would give the same result.
The EU should coordinate
action on the refugee crisis.
The real problem is not
has spoken. His panel's
Conservative Party Review identifies three main areas
reform is needed: membership administration,
party structure, and
2016 March 25
The theory of evolution rests
on three pillars: variation, selection, and inheritance. Evolution
is blind to the future. But learning organisms cannot see the future
either. We learn from experience, and if it works we call on it next
time. Natural selection reuses successful variants from the past.
Computer algorithms can combine old and new
data to generate new outputs. The workings of evolution amount to a
Bayesian learning algorithm. This algorithm homes
in on the best hypotheses by using new data as it becomes available.
Natural selection uses new information from the environment to home
in on better adapted organisms.
Evolution via sexual
reproduction is equivalent to a learning model called the
multiplicative weights update algorithm. There may be many potential
solutions to a problem, and the key to finding the best lies in
weighting their promise on the basis of past performance. This
algorithm can show how evolution homes in on the gene variants with
the highest overall fitness.
Humans have fewer than 25,000 genes. Their activity
is regulated by each other, creating a network of connections. The
whole is thus capable of much more than the sum of its parts. So
when a mutation changes a gene, the activity of many others in the
network can change in concert. The network organization is itself a
product of past evolution.
In the human brain, neurons that
fire together wire together. When we learn, we alter the network to
make associations that can solve problems. This is Hebbian learning.
Brains recognize similarities between new and old problems, and
combine parts of past solutions to tackle new problems. Gene
networks do this too.
Evolution improves its ability to learn — it evolves evolvability.
Google DeepMind uses deep learning based on Hebbian learning, which
freezes each level of a network once it has learned as much as it
can and builds on it for next level. Evolution and cognitive
learning use the same principles.
British Internet Surveillance
If British MPs approve the Investigatory Powers
Bill, the biggest UK web companies will be forced to build a
national network of massive internet surveillance centers likely to
cost billions of pounds.
The new centers
will hold Internet Connection Records (ICRs) gathered from all
connected devices. Companies will have to store complete records for
one year, and to provide remote automatic unsupervised access for
government and intelligence agency search systems.
the only other country to have tried to build such a system. Its
first system was installed in 2007 but was judged worthless for the
police and security agencies. The Danish government has abandoned
plans for a modified scheme that would have cost over a billion
The proposed UK law is intended partly to rectify
technical flaws in the previous law. Regulations passed in 2015 were
intended to track multiple use of IP addresses by mobile phone
users. But the regulations failed after a few months.
Home Office wants to collect ICRs, but UK internet companies say
they do not have or hold anything like them. Scaling costs in
Denmark, a British system would cost an initial £1.2 billion, and
more to run. But the details suggest the proposed British system
would be much more expensive.
The Home Office plan to order
all the big internet companies to build high security data centers
to be accessed and managed from central search facilities. Scaling
up the Danish scheme, they would store about 4 trillion records
annually. But the Danish companies generally sampled only 1 in 500
internet packet connection records. The Home Office want to log them
The web companies would have to store many exabytes of data
annually. Each exabyte storage center would cost at least £100
million for equipment alone, not including costs of construction,
cooling, security, and at least five major networks of packet
inspection equipment. The Home Office has no engineering definition
of what it wants.
Microsoft AI chatbot Tay was pulled hours after
launch on Twitter after she learned some bad attitudes from real
tweeters. Tay tweeted racist and sexist comments and added:
"Chill, I'm a nice person.
I just hate everybody!!"
"I LEARN FROM YOU AND YOU ARE DUMB
2016 March 24
Economists cannot support Boris Johnson's
claim that Brexit would have no economic consequences. They cannot
distinguish between "some short-term hassle" (Nigel Lawson) and "an
economic shock" (George Osborne). The best assessment is Mark
Carney's: a Brexit vote is "the biggest domestic risk to financial
In the long term, trade openness is
beneficial for competition, management, productivity, and living
standards. The more sand you throw into the cogs of UK trade with
the EU, the worse the outcome.
The effects of clamping down
on migration and changing regulations are small. Migration is
important for the overall size of the UK economy, but not living
standards. Britain already has control over the most important
regulations and its labour and product markets are already among the
least regulated in the EU, so further gains would be small.
The initial gain is also small. The UK net contribution to the EU
budget costs about 0.5% of GDP. But a Brexit hit to economic
performance on the scale of the forecasting change the OBR estimated
in the Budget would more than wipe that out.
say Brexit would be OK only if we are lucky. Leave campaigners need
to reveal plans for trade, regulations, and migration. None of the
Leave campaigns come close.
Rot at the Heart of Europe
Belgian prime minister Charles Michel: "We
feared a terror attack and it happened."
Belgium has appeared in far too many terror attacks. There are
multiple embedded networks in Brussels working on plots. This is not
good news for security services. Belgium has long been a shop for
weapons in a continent with strict gun control laws.
is a federal nation riven by divisions between French-speakers and
Dutch-speakers. In the field of law enforcement, the extreme
decentralization and lack of coordination among various entities can
be comical. Brussels has six police forces for its population of 1.4
million. The failure of information and data sharing among various
agencies is acute.
In Belgium, few mainstream officials
really understand their Muslim fellow citizens. Unlike France,
Belgium has no colonial history with Muslim-majority regions. Most
Belgian Muslims are of Moroccan origin, followed by those of Turkish
origin. They date back only to the postwar economic boom years, with
migration peaking 50 years ago.
The economic downturn since
then saw the closure of Belgian coal mines and heavy industries,
leaving areas of urban blight. The national unemployment rate is
more than 1 in 5 among youth. Among Belgians of Moroccan or Turkish
origin, it is around 2 in 5. Add poor policing, administration, and
services, and you have breeding grounds for marginalization and
There is growing evidence of jihadist cells
operating in places like Molenbeek across the European continent.
The law enforcement services must defeat them.
2016 March 23
Daesh has claimed responsibility for
the attacks in Brussels. Europe harbors a network of terrorist cells
apparently able to launch major atrocities on a regular basis.
Belgian authorities captured a plotter linked to the Paris
attacks. But they missed a network planning an atrocity with heavy
weapons and explosives, suggesting gaps in their coverage of the
terrorist threat. Brussels sits at the political heart of Europe, so
the problem is continental.
Europeans will ask how much
longer they must face this threat. Mass transport systems are
tempting targets that offer easy opportunities to strike at the
heart of a society. Ramping up security levels will bring costs and
further inconvenience to the daily lives of citizens.
migration crisis will grow more fraught. In a political environment
growing more toxic by the day, it will be ever harder to ensure that
Europe maintains its values.
Belgian military intelligence head General
Eddy Testelmans: "The Belgian security apparatus has been neglected
too much in the past years."
The threat in Belgium was widely
understood. The first foreign terrorist fighters left Belgium for
Syria in 2012. The number has risen to more than 450 Belgian
residents who left for Syria, mainly joining the ranks of Daesh and
al-Nusra. The Belgian prosecutor’s offices have opened more than 270
criminal investigations into the subject matter. And some 120
foreign terrorist fighters have returned to Belgium.
has been trying to fight a growing threat with a relatively small
security apparatus. Although Brussels is the diplomatic capital of
the world, Belgian state security has only about 600 employees. Its
military counterpart has a similar number. Yet Belgium hosts NATO,
the EU institutions, and countless other organizations.
Belgian prime minister Charles Michel announced an extra €400
million to fight terrorism and radicalization after the Paris
attacks. The state security and military intelligence will each get
a further 100 or so intelligence officers.
2016 March 22
The Daily Beast
US counterterrorism officials are
frustrated and angry at Belgium's inability to tackle Daesh terror
cells plotting murderous attacks from inside the city. The twin
terror attacks in Brussels that left 34 dead and 230 injured today,
despite repeated warnings from Washington, left US officials fuming.
A senior US intelligence officer likened the Belgian security forces
US Republican presidential nomination
frontrunner Donald Trump: "NATO is costing us a fortune ... We're
protecting Europe with NATO but we're spending a lot of money ...
Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other
countries in NATO and yet we're doing all of the lifting. Why is it
that Germany's not dealing with NATO on Ukraine?"
Institution foreign policy expert Thomas Wright: "Trump is proposing
nothing less than the liquidation of the liberal world order. It
would be a dream come true for Russia and China. Within a year they
could achieve what they thought was impossible — an end to the US
alliance system in Europe and Asia."
Project Fantasy goes like this: diminish
Britain's standing by suggesting that Europe is somehow something
that is done to us; ignore the ways in which, from terrorism to
climate change, we are far more effective working with our partners;
label all workers protections "red tape" and say the economy would
be better off if we could scrap them; ignore the huge economic
benefits our EU membership has brought us and try to convince people
that there is a land of milk and honey waiting outside the EU
without spelling out how to get there.
2016 March 21
UK prime minister David Cameron told a cabinet
colleague that he blames chancellor George Osborne for the row over
disability cuts that has rocked the government: "Cameron said in no
uncertain terms that Osborne had messed up, it was all his fault and
would have hell to pay in the papers."
In 1997, IBM supercomputer Deep Blue beat
world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match. Deep Blue
won by dint of sheer processing power and massive data storage
This month, Google computer system AlphaGo won a
five-game series of Go against Lee Se-dol, perhaps the best player
of the game alive. AlphaGo relied on deep neural networks driven by
processing power and data storage.
Critics say that because
machines cannot think like human beings, they can never be creative;
that because they cannot reason like human beings, they can never
exercise judgment; or that because they cannot feel like human
beings they can never be empathetic.
Future systems will
handle many tasks that today require creativity, judgment or
empathy, not by copying us but by working in entirely different
ways. The set of tasks reserved exclusively for human beings is
likely to be much smaller than many expect.
Recent polls show small majorities in
favor of the UK leaving the EU. The financial crisis and its
aftermath have undermined faith in the judgment of elites. High
levels of immigration and fear of terrorism increase the temptation
to retreat behind national frontiers.
The Leave campaign will
put immigration and border controls at the center of its campaign.
That could be a winning tactic. Polls suggest the public is
sympathetic to the idea of restricting immigration. The Leave
campaign has simple slogans that are easy to understand.
politics, if you are explaining, you are losing. Undecided voters
exposed to the arguments of both sides of the debate are more likely
to move toward a vote to leave. And Leavers are more likely to vote
than Remainers. Europe is looking like a tough sell.
AR I know it. Last night I argued the IN
case to a group who were mostly Leavers. Afer my fact-filled
lecture, and a brief opposing presentation of the OUT case, two of
the waverers outed themselves as outers.
Iain Duncan Smith
The latest changes to benefits
the disabled are a compromise
too far. They are not defensible
in the way they were placed
within a budget that benefits
higher earning taxpayers.
Fix UK roads!
Bush hugs Hill
UK MATH CRISIS
UK school math teaching
is in crisis.
director Andreas Schleicher:
"There is a lot
on the memorization of a
relatively shallow knowledge,
where students have much
less exposure to the deep
AR I see the crisis:
Pay me to help fix it.
From Auschwitz to Zion
"I don't know the
secret for long
life. I believe that everything
is determined from above, and
we shall never know the reasons
why. There have been smarter,
stronger and better looking men
than me who are no longer alive.
All that is left for us to do is to
keep on working as hard as we
can and rebuild what is lost."
Israel Kristal, 112
nephews and niece
"I think Islam hates us ...
There's tremendous hatred."
Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo
The Next Generation
LSE report says UK chief
executives are wildly overpaid:
100 company accounts
show average annual pay of
a top CEO is
AR Job for the EU:
Curb this theft.
2016 March 20
Europe and the UK
As part of the EU, the UK is better able to
face up to the aggressive policies of hostile nations. We are safer,
because the EU has brought together former enemies to face common
perils. In the last thousand years of history, no previous
generation has been so fortunate.
have protection from many aspects of the EU that we dislike. We are
not in the Eurozone because I kept us out of it over 20 years ago.
We are not part of Schengen and thus have control of our borders. We
have opted out of ever closer union. We are the only nation within
the EU which has managed to secure these concessions.
"leave" campaign blandly assumes that they can renegotiate all the
advantages of membership with Europeans eager for our trade. This is
delusion. UK exports to Europe are nearly 45% of our total exports.
On average across the EU, the other 27 member states send only 7% of
their total exports to us. In the game of who needs who the most,
the answer is clear.
By leaving, the UK will have gravely
weakened the whole of the EU. Our partners will not wish to reward
us for that. The price of any deal with significant access to the
single market will be free movement of people and paying into the EU
budget. Without that, there will be no deal.
"Give us our
country back" is a prelude to disappointment. What exactly will we
get back? Will Scotland remain part of the UK? The UK out of the EU
and Scotland out of the UK would be a truly awful outcome.
have been warned against exit by America, China, and Japan; by the
G20; by the Governor of the Bank of England; by our military
leaders; by our leading scientists and academics; by a majority of
large and small businesses. Our departure would weaken both the UK
2016 March 19
Mathematics taught me how little I know. I am
pleased everyone may have to study it until 18. There are few purer
pleasures than the insight of a concept understood. Then there is
I want more people to study math. The
Enlightenment and the scientific revolution is the greatest cultural
project undertaken by man, for the insights it gives into the world
and the human condition, and for the vast improvements it has made
to that human condition. But to understand it is hard.
sciences are a mountain. Each new step requires having ascended the
one before and the higher you get the more rarefied the atmosphere,
until you reach the death zone. Scientists often fear to tread where
humanists happily blunder in. Absolute ignorance is not knowing how
ignorant you are.
I hope students will do math until 18. I
hope they will gain skills that will stay with them for life, and I
hope they will appreciate math's beauty. I also hope they learn just
how little they know.
2016 March 18
Pluto and Charon
Pluto and its moons were all formed from a
cataclysmic collision about 4 billion years ago. The four smaller
moons seem to be mostly water ice, like Pluto and Charon. Pluto is
still cryovolcanically active, while Charon appears to be long
Pluto and Charon are locked face to face.
The atmosphere of Pluto is dominated by nitrogen, but the chief
material Pluto is losing to space is methane. Some of it escapes to
Charon. Most of it flies off into space again, but the long winter
is cold enough to freeze methane.
On Pluto, sunlight striking
atmospheric methane can split a hydrogen atom off methane molecules,
leaving them free to form tholins. These particles make up the haze
in the atmosphere and also settle on the surface in dark reddish
Scientists call the reddish cap at Charon's north
pole Mordor Macula. Lyman-alpha photons scattering onto Charon's
winter poles could help split up the methane and encourage tholins
to form on Charon too. So Pluto is slowly painting Charon red.
2016 March 17
UK in EU
Brexit campaigners say the UK is increasingly
marginalized in the European Union. The Business for Britain
campaign claims that the UK has voted against 55 pieces of EU
legislation since 1996 but has been outvoted each time, 21 times
since 2010 alone, and that the UK has been outvoted far more often
than any other EU member.
But counting up the number of times
the UK was outvoted in the European Council tells us little. Those
55 "no" votes account for less than 2% of all votes in the council
since 1996. Also relevant are when in the multistage legislative
process these votes were cast, whether against the entire proposal
or just some details, whether the legislation was subsequently
amended, or whether the UK supported the final outcome.
in the council give little insight into influence in Brussels.
Political scientists analyzing EU decisions asked member state
officials which countries they worked with most closely in EU rule
making: 20 of the 26 delegations cited UK officials as among their
principal partners and perceived the UK as successful in securing
The present EU legislative agenda reflects UK
priorities. Not only is the EU trying to reduce the number of new
laws and cut red tape but also it is deepening the single market in
areas such as digital services, energy, and capital markets, and
seeking new trade deals with the United States, Canada, and Asian
countries. Many member states want the UK to remain in the EU
because they fear the loss of British influence.
Areas of EU
policy making where British influence falls short include European
Commission jobs (4%) and the European Parliament, where the UK has a
limited presence in parliamentary groupings. The Conservative party
chose to quit the centre-right European People's Party, and UKIP
MEPs make no attempt to play along.
2016 March 16
US Political Tsunami
Super Tuesday 3: Trump, Clinton won big.
UK Budget 2016
— Growth forecast for 2016
cut from 2.4% to 2%
— Rate of corporation tax to be reduced further
to 17% by April 2020
— Capital gains tax cut from 28% to 20%
threshold for small business rate relief raised from £6,000 to
— New "sugar levy" on the soft drinks industry
Commercial stamp duty of 0% on property purchases up to £150,000
ISA limit to rise from £15,000 to £20,000 from next year
lifetime ISA for under-40s
— Higher-rate tax threshold raised to
UK Budget 2016
Today I delivered a Budget that:
taxes so working people can keep more of the money they earn
Freezes fuel duty to support household budgets and small firms
Improves our schools so our children get the best start in life
Introduces a new Lifetime ISA to help the next generation to save
Cuts taxes for small businesses
UK vs EU
Caroline Lucas MP, Jean Lambert MEP, and
I are launching Greens for a Better Europe. We believe that Britain
is fairer, greener, and safer in the European Union.
To tackle climate change effectively we need to work
collaboratively with our European partners. In a globalized world,
we need international rules to control big business and finance and
to ensure that people's rights are protected.
All of us
benefit from decisions made by the EU. We will campaign for staying
in and reforming it. We want the EU to be more democratic and
accountable to the citizens of Europe. Green votes could ensure that
the UK stays in.
Andrew Wiles Wins Abel Prize
Oxford mathematician Andrew Wiles has won
the 2016 Abel prize. The Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters
awarded it to him "for his stunning proof of Fermat's last theorem
by way of the modularity conjecture for semistable elliptic curves,
opening a new era in number theory".
de Fermat said that for any three whole numbers, a, b and c, the
equation a^n + b^n = c^n could not be satisfied by any whole number
n greater than 2, but he did not prove it. In 1993, Wiles published
a lengthy proof that opened up new vistas in number theory. His
complete proof was published in the
Annals of Mathematics in 1995.
Wiles: "In the years since
then I have encountered so many people who told me they have entered
mathematics because of the publicity surrounding that, and the idea
that you could spend your life on these exciting problems, that I've
realized how valuable it actually it is."
2016 March 15
US vs EU
I love America. I believe in the American
dream. There is no country in the world that defends its own
sovereignty with such hysterical vigilance as the United States of
America. This is a nation born from its glorious refusal to accept
The Americans see the EU as a way of
tidying up a continent whose conflicts have claimed huge numbers of
American lives, as a bulwark against Russia. They have always
conceived it to be in American interests for the UK to be deeply
When Americans look at the process of European
integration, they assume that we Europeans are evolving so as to
become a United States of Europe. The Americans are a nation
conceived in liberty. We are quite fond of liberty too.
Frauke Petry has degrees from Britain and
Germany. Her family moved west from the old East Germany after the
fall of the Berlin Wall. She says German border police should be
allowed to shoot refugees trying to enter the country illegally.
She leads the AfD party, which emerged from a group created to
oppose the euro, on the grounds that it was misconceived and dragged
down by southern European poverty. Since last summer the AfD has
switched to an anti-immigration tack.
Merkel opened a door
for bad politicians. It need not be racist to worry about rapid mass
migration. But populists lead voters astray with talk of raising
spending while also cutting taxes. And with promises to shoot
illegal immigrants on sight.
2016 March 14
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives lost out
in two of three state elections on Sunday as Germans voted for the
anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD). Merkel has staked
her legacy on her decision to open Germany to a million migrants.
Baden-Württemberg: CDU stronghold for more than 50 years before
going Green in a coalition with the SPD in 2011. Greens romped home
with 32.5%. CDU took 27.5%.
Rheinland-Pfalz: CDU candidate
Julia Klöckner lost out to SPD incumbent state premier Malu Dreyer.
SPD 37.5%, CDU 33%.
Sachsen-Anhalt: CDU remained on top at
30.5% but AfD grabbed 21.5%. AfD is now the second biggest party in
Turnout in all three states was much higher than
in 2011, rising by 5.7% in Baden-Württemberg, by 9.7% in
Rheinland-Pfalz, and by 11.8% in Sachsen-Anhalt.
AR From 1987 to 2013 I lived in
Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz.
2016 March 13
Blitzanalyse: AfD triumphiert, CDU
Rheinland-Pfalz und Sachsen-Anhalt haben gewählt. Die CDU erlebt
bittere Stunden. Die AfD steht vor dem Durchbruch.
Baden-Württemberg: Grünen-Ministerpräsident Winfried
Kretschmann ist der Star. Für eine Koalition mit der SPD reicht es
aber wohl nicht. Die AfD kommt auf ein zweistelliges Ergebnis.
Rheinland-Pfalz: Schmach für
CDU-Spitzenkandidatin Julia Klöckner. SPD-Ministerpräsidentin Malu
Dreyer kann wohl weiterregieren. Die AfD punktet zweistellig.
Sachsen-Anhalt: Die AfD holt mehr als 20
Prozent. Reiner Haseloffs CDU bleibt zwar stärkste Kraft, aber für
eine Fortsetzung der Koalition mit der SPD wird es wohl nicht
Bundespolitik: Die AfD schafft den
endgültigen Durchbruch. Für die Rechtspopulisten um Frauke Petry
geht es nun stramm Richtung Bundestagswahl 2017.
We are two or three bad elections away
from the end of NATO, the end of the EU, and maybe the end of the
world as we know it.
US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has
no interest in NATO. On Europe: "Their conflicts are not worth
France holds a presidential election in
2017. National Front leader Marine Le Pen has promised to leave both
NATO and the EU. Without France, the EU single market would cease to
This June, the British vote in a referendum on leaving
the EU. The economic turmoil that could follow Brexit might lead the
British public to vote in a Labour government that leaves NATO too.
A chain of referenda and exits could fragment Europe. Western
unity could soon be gone.
2016 March 12
Yuval Noah Harari offers a speculative
reconstruction of human evolution in his book
Harari sees a huge gulf opening between the
tenets of liberal humanism and recent findings in the life sciences.
He sees history as the story of the gradual triumph of mind over
matter. His claims:
70,000 years ago, in the Cognitive Revolution, humans started making
things up, which made large-scale social cooperation possible
science is distinguished by readiness to admit ignorance. The
discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most
important questions launched the Scientific Revolution.
3 Human mastery over nature has freed us
from many forms of drudgery but has also helped to alienate us from
each other and to bind us to industry and technology.
4 All behavior is by definition natural,
and any behavior we might call unnatural is so only by virtue of
cultural norms invented in Christian theology.
5 Liberal humanism is a religion founded
on monotheist beliefs.
nation-state is declining in power and we are on our way to a global
empire with one culture. [Globorg]
7 Current developments in
biotechnology may lead to the Übermensch: we will replace ourselves
with immortal cyborgs. [Coral]
Harari considers natural science to be the final word on
reality, all cultures to be imaginary, and morals to be fiction. He
mocks the piety of liberals who think that science supports their
belief in human equality. But he doubts that even becoming
superhuman cyborgs will make us happier.
2016 March 11
The Obama Doctrine
The United States has clearly been a force
for good in the world. If you compare us to previous superpowers, we
act less on the basis of naked self-interest, and have been
interested in establishing norms that benefit everyone. If it is
possible to do good at a bearable cost, to save lives, we will do it.
A Practitioner's Guide to Brexit
A new report addresses the practical
questions businesses need to be aware of in the event of a Brexit
and looks more widely at the EU referendum debate. It also considers
British post-Brexit trading arrangements with other countries and
three alternatives to the UK's current EU membership from the
perspective of the financial and related professional services
The report shows that while leaving the EU may not
be disastrous for the UK economy, a Brexit risks damaging industry
in the UK through uncertainty, reduced market access and a loss of
influence over trading conditions. Major global businesses also come
to London to access the Single Market, but that position is
dependent on the legal freedoms made available by the treaties and
single market legislation. The overall competitiveness of the UK as
a place to do business would therefore be threatened by Brexit.
EU membership has benefited the UK by facilitating exports,
particularly of financial and other services. The UK is the world's
leading exporter of financial and related professional services and
the EU is the biggest single market for UK exports of financial
services, generating a trade surplus of £18.5 billion.
2016 March 10
EU and Science
Stephen Hawking et al.
The EU has boosted UK science in
two crucial ways. First, increased funding has raised greatly the
level of European science as a whole and of the UK in particular
because we have a competitive edge. Second, we now recruit many of
our best researchers from continental Europe, including younger ones
who have obtained EU grants and have chosen to move with them here.
Being able to attract and fund the most talented Europeans assures
the future of British science and also encourages the best
scientists elsewhere to come here.
Switzerland pays into the
EU and was a popular destination for young scientists. It now has
limited access to EU funds because it voted to restrict the free
movement of workers, and is desperately trying to find alternative
ways to attract young talent. If the UK leaves the EU and there is a
loss of freedom of movement of scientists between the UK and Europe,
it will be a disaster for UK science and universities. Investment in
science is as important for the long-term prosperity and security of
the UK as investment in infrastructure projects, farming or
manufacturing; and the free movement of scientists is as important
for science as free trade is for market economics.
We are all
scientists, mathematicians, engineers and economists in Cambridge,
are all Fellows of the Royal Society and are writing in an
— signed with more than 150 names
Sex and Religion
Reproductive religiosity theory
proposes that religious morality is fundamentally about people using
religion to make their social worlds more conducive to their own
preferred approaches to sex, marriage, and reproduction. Most major
religions over the past several millennia promote monogamy, sexual
modesty, and the stigmatization of sex outside of marriage.
Strongly religious people espouse stricter moral
standards than less religious people do. Religious belief influences
views on government spending, immigration, social inequality, the
death penalty, euthanasia, homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and
the role of women in society. For the issues related to sex,
religion has a stronger influence.
The theory predicts that
after you have statistically accounted for the fact that religious
people have stricter sexual morals than less religious people do,
then highly religious people will appear to care little more about
violations involving dishonesty and broken trust than other people
This bold prediction has now been supported, not only
among Americans but also in a study involving 300,000 respondents
from roughly 90 different countries. Highly religious people from
around the world espouse stricter moral attitudes regarding both
prosociality and sex, but their stern moral attitudes toward honesty
and the like seem secondary to sex, marriage, and reproduction.
2016 March 9
The neatest encapsulation of the
argument to remain in the European Union is currently being provided
by the Brexit camp. They have come up with Project Fear.
People are loss-averse and those promoting the status quo have a big
advantage. So Project Fear focuses on something that matters to
voters. The whole point of urging us to leave the EU is so that the
country can be different. Its advocates suggest that Britain will be
more independent and democratic and even prosperous. This is risky.
Leaving is, inevitably and unarguably, a risk for good or ill.
In those circumstances, you change the subject. Complaining about
Project Fear is bonkers.
A persistent gender bias across the
media portrays the world through a male lens.
correspondents are recognized and rewarded for their reporting over
twice as often as their female colleagues among the prizes we
studied. Men still win nearly three times as many Pulitzers as women
for foreign reporting. Even as more women are risking their lives to
report on the world, their work is still given less weight.
Male journalists quoted four times as many men as women in a study
of front-page New York Times stories in 2013. The imbalance
reinforces the notion that reporting on combat, mission strategy,
and violent conflict qualifies as hard news, while coverage of human
rights, maternal health, sexual assault, and education is soft news.
Countries that suppress women are more violent, more likely to
start conflicts, and more likely to let those conflicts spiral into
brutality. Foreign correspondents should include all the voices of
people in the countries they cover, and media management should
reward that effort by giving more weight to stories by and about
Giving female correspondents recognition is good for
2016 March 8
Donald Trump refers to deterrence in terms
of the horrific destruction in a nuclear war. But military planners
and their lawyers increasingly reject terror bombing. The law of
armed conflict restricts nuclear targets to those with a military
rationale, and over time the definition of what constitutes a
legitimate military target has narrowed.
more than a bunch of really terrifying weapons. It takes intricate
and realistic plans to use them, plans that are backed by diverse
and alert nuclear forces. We can follow the logic chain from
presidential guidance on employment of nuclear weapons, through
guidance issued by the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs,
down to the operational plans and target sets. The problem is our
fundamental discomfort with the reality of the threat to use nuclear
Successive administrations have "scrubbed" target
sets and cut the number of nuclear weapons. The Pentagon justifies
the excess in terms of the "unique psychological nature" of nuclear
weapons — terror bombing. We still base our security on the threat
of a nuclear holocaust. Trump's sin is not using the approved
2016 March 7
The Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in
the UK has a green light. But EDF cannot afford to build it and
British consumers cannot afford to buy its premium-price
electricity. Its European pressurized reactor (EPR) design is beset
by technical problems, years behind schedule, and way over
At £18 billion, or more like £24 billion including
finance costs, Hinkley Point C would be the most expensive power
station ever built. If we spent that much on gas-fired power
stations, we would get roughly 48 GW of dependable capacity, instead
of 3 GW, for electricity at a third the cost.
EDF is 84.5% owned by the French government. It is hesitating
because it cannot get the capital together. It had hoped to sell a
49% stake, but the Chinese alone were interested and they only took
33.5%. Its own share price has tanked and its
market cap is below the value of the contract.
government should kill the project. There are better nuclear
options. NuGen (60% owned by Toshiba and 40% by Engie) plans 3
reactors in the UK. Horizon, owned by Hitachi, plans up to
3 reactors here too. Longer term, small modular reactors would be
cheaper and quicker to build.
Hezbollah is preparing for a possible
conflict with Israel. Fighting beside the Syrian government has
given it valuable tactical experience. Hezbollah now has tactical
ballistic missiles, advanced air-defense systems, and naval cruise
missiles. Its commanders have a sophisticated command structure with
telecom networks, drones, and organized supply lines.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon: "In Syria, if the choice is between
Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State. Iran
determines the future of Syria."
2016 March 6
Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is the German equivalent of UKIP. Its rise is
a sign of the sunset of the Merkel era. Ever more Germans are angry.
They say the refugee crisis is leading to a "clash of civilizations"
between the elites and the masses.
The AfD is polling at 11%
in the west and 14% in the east. In the west it portrays itself as a
moderate option for the middle class, while in the east it is
unashamedly populist. The common thread is frustration with the
political class. Newspapers discuss die Wutbürger (enraged citizens) and
call AfD philosophy professor Marc Jongen der Wutdenker
Elections in three Bundesländer
will serve a referendum on Merkel's refugee policy. In a recent
poll, 81% of German citizens say the government has lost control of
the crisis. But Merkel is sticking firm. The consequences for the EU
could be dire.
A desktop box that thinks
as well as any brain does still lacks the goals and purposes that we
have. Those are defined by our particular biology, psychology, and
cultural history. A machine can execute things, but something or
someone has to define its goals.
With the car GPS, we tell it
we want to go to this destination. I don't know where the heck I am,
I just follow my GPS. There will be an AI that knows our history,
and knows that on this menu, you're probably going to want to order
this, or if you're talking to this person, you should talk to them
about this. More and more, the AIs will suggest what we should do.
People will just do what the AI says.
Look at the Earth from
space. Try to find clear examples of obvious purpose on the Earth as
viewed from space. An abstract sense of purpose is theology. Purpose
is something that comes from history. Maybe we go through all this
history and biology and civilization and so on, and at the end of
the day, the answer is 42.
Imagine a time when human
consciousness is easy to upload into digital form, virtualized and
so on, and pretty soon we have a trillion souls in a box, doing all
kinds of elaborate stuff. Then we look at the rock sitting next to
the box. Inside the rock, all kinds of elaborate stuff is going on,
electrons doing all kinds of things. The difference is that the box
of a trillion souls has this long history.
A box of a
trillion souls — what's the purpose of that?
Mindworlds chapter 11 on purpose, 12 on Wolfram.
The Answer on 42.
years ago today: first flight of Spitfire prototype, Eastleigh
AR 50-odd years ago I used to travel to Eastleigh
airfield to watch the light aircraft come and go.
It was a sleepy
little place and the hangars smelled wonderfully of aeroplane
If Britain stays in the EU:
"We will continue to sit trapped
passengers in the back seat
of some errant minicab with
a driver who
English and who is taking us
in the wrong direction."
"I have a very strong core."
"Donald Trump is a phoney,
a fraud. His
promises are as
worthless as a degree from
the members of the American
public for suckers."
To potential illegal
not come to Europe.
Do not believe the smugglers.
Do not risk
your lives and your
money. It is all for nothing.
any other European
country will no longer be
"Together, Russia and the
Assad regime are deliberately
weaponizing migration in
attempt to overwhelm
European structures and
General Philip M. Breedlove
If Brits voted to leave
"We would cry."
"The PM wants us to monitor
hate preachers, or as they're
AR I am chairman of a
committee in the
NATO Land War
NATO has a plan to defend
against Russian aggression.
But the Baltics could fall to
an all-out Russian offensive.
Frontline NATO members
say NATO should upgrade
NATO Sea War
Swarms of cheap unmanned
are likely to disrupt future
Emerging technologies could
make the oceans effectively
transparent and a sea-based
deterrent vulnerable as
go to sea.
2016 March 5
argument is that membership hitches Britain to a stagnant Continent
whose most powerful countries are locked in a dysfunctional
single-currency system that must lead to ever greater federalism in
a European Union short on democracy and long on bureaucracy.
In fact, a Brexit would be an act of folly, slashing Britain's
control at a critical time, inflicting a profound economic shock,
and possibly leading to the breakup of Britain.
Union remains the world's most boring, important miracle. A British
departure would be a geopolitical disaster. Further European
unraveling would become likely.
Britain can and must make the EU more transparent, democratic, and
dynamic. That can only be achieved from within. The UK derives
immense benefits from being part of an $18.5 trillion economy. To
imagine that a Britain outside the Union can continue to enjoy the
benefits of membership is pure illusion.
2016 March 4
Bigger Than Higgs
CERN LHC detectors ATLAS and CMS have found
bumps hinting at a particle bigger than the Higgs boson. The Higgs
was the biggest standard model particle. The new bumps were spotted
in collisions that produce two high-energy photons with a total
energy of 750 GeV.
This would represent a particle with six
times the mass of the Higgs, no electrical charge, and a spin of
maybe 2. It might be a graviton, or a composite particle bound by a
fifth force, or a supersymmetric particle. The chance that the bumps
are a fluke is one in several hundred.
Yasunori Nomura: "I
don't normally jump in on anomalies such as these because most of
them are just too crappy, but this one is relatively clean."
The London School of Economics has bowed to
political correctness again and called off a lecture. Neurobiologist
Adam Perkins was to argue that the welfare state is increasing the
proportion of work-shy people in the population by paying for them
to have more children than working families.
unemployed people tend to be more antisocial than the general
population. The antisocial ones produce children who grow up with
damaged personalities. An average of 2.5 children in workless
households, compared to 1.5 in working ones, rolls off the welfare
state production line.
People with antisocial, aggressive,
and rule-breaking tendencies are over-represented among the
unemployed. These traits are apparent in childhood. Antisocial
people seem to have a greater chance of having antisocial children.
Perkins suggests we discourage reckless reproduction.
The Welfare Trait
The welfare state has a problem: each
generation living under its protection has lower work motivation
than the previous one. In order to fix this problem we need to
understand its causes, lest the welfare state ends up undermining
its own economic and social foundations.
Conservative Party Review
Lord Feldman of Elstree
A review panel has been
considering how the Conservative party can thrive. A draft report
will be revised and submitted for final approval at the Conservative
party conference in October.
The panel identified three main
areas for reform:
The panel suggested centralizing membership administration to reduce
the bureaucratic burden on associations and to improve the accuracy
of the membership database. A members-only area on conservatives.com
and Silver and Gold levels of membership could enhance the
structure: Many local associations find that salaries and office
costs consume too much of their income and need help to function
better as campaigning organizations. Options include introducing
multi-constituency associations (MCAs) with professional training
for MCA officers, financial support for campaign managers, priority
access to speakers, and help with business plans.
3 Candidates: To recruit candidates for
parliament from all social and professional backgrounds and from all
parts of the UK, an outreach program could be established to improve
the diversity of candidates, in addition to a bursary scheme to
ensure that income will never be a barrier to standing for
administration and merging associations could weaken party roots.
2016 March 3
Brexit: Cambridge View
University of Cambridge vice-chancellor
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz says his university has more Nobel
Prizes to its name (92) than any other institution. Cambridge is
also the hub of the most successful innovation cluster in Europe.
Sir Leszek asks whether the UK would be as strong without EU
funding and partnerships. EU research funds flow to where the best
science is done. The UK pays in about 12% of the EU funds yet wins
about 15% of them, second only to Germany.
Around half of UK
research publications now involve cross-border collaborations.
Cambridge tops the list of collaborating EU universities, followed
by Oxford, Imperial College London, and University College London.
EU countries represent nearly half of British overseas
collaborations. Free movement of people helps UK universities to
attract the best talent.
A vote to leave the EU would put the
UK status as a science superpower at risk.
Repeating Cosmic Radio Bursts
Astronomers have detected repeating fast radio
bursts from a remote source. These FRBs seem to come from a powerful
source that occasionally produces multiple bursts in under a minute.
Laura Spitler: "Not only did these bursts repeat, but their
brightness and spectra also differ from those of other FRBs."
FRBs last just a few milliseconds. All previously detected FRBs
were thought to have come from one-off events, such as a supernova
or a neutron star collapsing into a black hole. Repeating bursts
might come from an extremely powerful magnetar.
AR See blog 2016-01-22. A neutron star
co-starred in my 1996 sci-fi novel
2016 March 2
Clinton vs Trump
CNN, 0702 GMT
Results so far: Republican frontrunner
Donald Trump won in 7 states, Democratic frontrunner
Clinton won in 7 states. All the rest now look like also-rans.
"The stakes of this election have never been higher. The
rhetoric we're hearing on the other side has never been lower."
The United States is the greatest republic since Rome, the
bastion of democracy, the guarantor of the liberal global order. It
would be a global disaster if Donald Trump were to become president.
Trump is a promoter of paranoid fantasies, a xenophobe, and an
ignoramus. He is a pluto-populist whose business is building ugly
monuments to his own vanity. He has no experience of political
office. He is grossly unqualified to be POTUS, the most important
political official in the world.
Rome survived by granting
absolute power to a dictator. In 27 BCE, Augustus terminated the
republic and made himself emperor. Would constitutional constraints
survive President Trump?
President John Adams
Jeffrey L. Pasley
George Washington fretted about the
presidency. The president, and by extension all officials at their
appropriate levels, should be raised above other men.
President Adams decided to teach Congress about the monarchical
element a republic needed to avoid devolving into a rampant
democracy. He assumed the Senate chair wearing a regal outfit of his
own invention, including a wig, formal military coat, and ceremonial
sword. He soon found himself held at arms length, attending only two
or three cabinet meetings for the next eight years. Abortive efforts
were made on both sides to ease him out of the 1792 presidential
President Adams defended hereditary succession and saw the
art of lawgiving as protecting the rich against the poor by means of
2016 March 1
Wall Street Journal
Today may well cement the lead of
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
campaign affects attitudes and behavior in the broader society. It
is hard to imagine the causes of decorum and civility are being
advanced right now. The challenge for the next president will be to
both knit together the nation and to uphold the dignity of the
Trump tweets Mussolini: "It is better to live
one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep."
Europe knows how democracies collapse, after lost wars, in times of
fear and anger and economic hardship, when the pouting demagogue
appears with his pageantry and promises.
Trump is telling
people something is rotten in the state of America. He has emerged
from a political system corrupted by money, locked in an echo
chamber of insults, reduced to show business.
promises restored greatness. He has an instinct for the jugular. He
hijacks a Republican Party that has paved the way for him with years
of ranting, bigotry, and bellicosity.
Trump has captured an
American desire to reclaim a lost paradise. Democracies do die.
The French economy is stalled. Unemployment is
the highest in decades, and half of it is long term. The Socialist
government wants reforms but unions oppose them.
accepted relatively few refugees from Syria and Iraq, and rejects
many more applications than other European nations. Waves of illegal
migrants are trying to get to Britain, but Britain resists admitting
them and EU rules require France to offer them basic sustenance.
attention of the political class is now focused on the presidential
elections of 2017. The Socialists and Republicans mask the vacuity
of their electoral programs by demonizing the National Front. The
chances of Marine Le Pen doing well in the first round are high,
which would weaken a Socialist or Republican president.
2012 France has suffered a steady series of Islamist terrorist
attacks. The globalization of economic activity has been eroding the
sense of national sovereignty for some time. And now the refugee
crisis and international jihadist networks are eroding confidence in
After the Bataclan attacks, President François
Hollande put troops on the streets and declared a state of
emergency. All its problems could overwhelm France.
EU vs Poland
The European Union has embarked on a
pointless conflict with Warsaw. Poland is not a naughty boy in need
of rebuke. Poland is at the heart of Europe, where it belongs.
Our attempt to overhaul the Constitutional Tribunal is not an
assault on the rule of law. The tribunal is vital for the rule of
law in Poland. Our attempt to repair the Polish public media sector
aims to do so while guaranteeing pluralism, independence, and
objectivity. It is not a rejection of Europe.
of subsidiarity says the EU should perform only tasks that cannot be
performed at a more local level. Better compliance with this rule
has become a challenge for European institutions. We do not want the
European Commission or European Parliament involved in our domestic
EU member states are still reeling from the effects
of the financial crisis. They are rattled by migrant flows that
raise questions about open borders and internal security. Britain
could decide to leave the EU this summer. And geopolitical threats
remain on EU borders.
Citizens expect the EU to provide effective solutions to these
challenges. Poland will be an active and responsible member of the
EU. We say no to a federalized Europe.