Skip to content

Barcelona and refugees

February 20, 2017

spain_refugee_march-jpg_1718483346Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Barcelona Saturday, because of refugees in Spain.

Because of their relative absence. Spain has promised to take in 17,000 refugees, but so far has taken in only 1,100. The marchers, including Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, view this as dereliction of civic duty. Says she:

It is very important that in a Europe of uncertainty where xenophobia is on the rise for Barcelona to be a capital of hope.

The rationality of irrationality

February 17, 2017

A post from the Cultural Cognition Project offers this explanation of why greater education is put to the purpose of rationalizing your tribe’s beliefs:

It is in fact perfectly rational at the individual level to engage information societal risks in an identity-protective rather than a truth-convergent manner. What an individual personally believes about climate change, e.g., won’t affect the risk she or anyone she cares about faces; whether as consumer, voter, public discussant, etc. her personal behavior will be too inconsequential to matter. But given what positions on climate change and other societal risk issues have come to signify about who she is and whose side she is on in a perpetual struggle for status among competing cultural groups, a person who forms a position out of line with her cultural peers risks estrangement from the people on whom she depends on for emotional and material support.

Batteries on the grid

February 16, 2017

Three battery storage plants are going online in the California electric grid, with the explicit goal of reducing reliance on gas peaker generation. The large problem that has faced sustainable energy production from wind and solar is how to store it when it is produced, for future use when demand is high. This is a first step toward a battery solution. I’m not certain it is the right solution. But ever cheaper and better batteries are a good thing, regardless.

Symplectic manifolds and big stones

February 15, 2017

Before I stepped away from mathematics, I was heading to the study of differential geometry. Which since has become quite popular, and even contentious. Mohamed Abouzad explains the lack of a complete proof for one of its major conjectures thusly:

There are two conceptions of mathematics. There’s mathematics as: The currency of mathematics is ideas. And there’s mathematics as: The currency of mathematics is proofs.

I think I agree more with Dusa McDuff.

biggest-stone-ball-in-europe-geologypageThe photo left shows a large stone ball in Bosnia. Suad Keserovic is cleaning away its cotangent bundle. The contention there is whether it is natural or man-made.

Climate misdirection in the Daily Mail

February 14, 2017

The Guardian rebuts yet another innumerate article by David Rose. Hot Whopper also jumps into the fray.

Wikipedia just banned citations to the Daily Mail due to “its reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication.”

Optimism, pessimism

February 13, 2017

John Bogle seems overly optimistic to me when he claims:

The fiduciary rule may fade away, but the fiduciary principle is eternal.

The next Bernie Madoff is just around the corner. Financial intermediation attracts conmen even more than real estate. Which is why we need laws setting standards, and why the loss of the fiduciary rule matters.

The late Richard Rorty struck a dour note when he predicted the rise of a strongman like Trump, after which:

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words ‘nigger’ and ‘kike’ will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

My sense is that the ground gained by the cultural left is real and generational. Even though Trump’s election gives some respite to those who want racism and homophobia and misogyny, that still is a wave whose destined demise is writ in the age of those most like to want those things.

Weinberg and atomic clocks

February 10, 2017

I almost agree with Hossenfelder that what we need on foundational issues is “a little less talk, a little more action.” I wonder, though, if we’re not a bit like a chimpanzee in the cage, that hasn’t yet figured out how to lift the door latch. It’s not a matter of more action, but of finding the right action.