Of Strawmen and fake equivalency (New Zealand vs. USA elections)

Jacinda Arden (NZ Labour party) puts out a press release saying that national elections will be postponed from 19th September to 17th October (here, here).

The white supremacists and Trump apologists around the world cry about the injustice of it all. How can she postpone and Donald Trump cannot?

Are these situations comparable? On one hand we have:

  • An incompetent leader who lets hundreds of thousands of his own people die. At the time of posting, the death toll in the US was 173,516 deaths (here)
  • A leader who contests the results of election before it even happened (here, here).
  • A person who dismantles the post office in order to prevent mail-in voting (here, here).
  • A person who is not above teargassing his own people so he can pose in front of a Church with an upside down bible in his hand (here, here).
  • A person who is currently polling between 8 and 16% deficit (here) on his rival, who is not the first choice of anyone but the establishment Democrats and is hoping to be elected on the strength of being better than confused and demented child murderer and serial abuser currently in office. Imagine what would happen if the US had an alternative they could actually believe in.
  • And on and on…

On the other hand, we have:

  • A leader who decisively stemmed the flow of COVID-19 in her own Country, with 22 casualties (see here).
  • A person whose party is currently polling at 53%, more than double of its nearest rival the National Party at 26% (here).
  • A Prime Minister who, according to the NZ law is the person who sets the election date (here, here).


Jacinda Arden postpones the election, at the request of the right wing opposition. She is the person who sets the date in the first place. Her polls are strong, but slightly falling, therefore the delay does not work in her direct favour. She has done nothing to indicate that she would engage in voter suppression or that she would not accept the results.

Donald Trump wants to postpone election, because he is currently set to lose. It is not in his power to postpone elections, he does not set the date. He has a history of abusing power and undermining the legitimacy of the electoral process, he is actively trying to suppress votes and is publicly admitting it.

There is no comparison here. The snowflakery of the whitesupremacists is breath taking. There is no equivalency.

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On remorse and psychopaths

I’ve gotten an email the other day:

I am doing a project on the broad focus of language and identity. There were 4 sub categories, one of which was ‘self-representation’ which is what I went for.

The aim of my investigation is to analyse Ian Huntley’s language in this confession to see whether he is truly remorseful for murdering Holly and Jessica, therefore will be focusing on the issue of remorseful idiolect.

My research question is ‘Using relevant data, analyse and evaluate to what extent the language used by Ian Huntley in his prison cell confession creates the identity of a remorseful man’.

My general question to you would be what devices do criminals (or people in general) use to show remorse? And how can people identify when the remorse is false ?

I wanted to reply over email, however, the senders mail provider keeps blocking my reply. The reason given is fairly vague (they either block it for “inappropriate language” or “questionable content” or they are blocking the domain for an unexplained reason. I have reworded my answer twice now and I don’t want to do it again, because, possibly the domain is now blocked. I could send through a different mail account, I suppose. Or I can answer here, and simply provide the link.


Thanks for explaining. As promised, here is a bit longer reply.

1) There is no reliable way to tell whether people are lying based on their statements and behaviour. The TV shows like ‘Lie to me’ are based on quack science propagated mostly by Paul Ekman. Ekman came up with all these wild claims on how to detect dishonesty through verbal and non-verbal behaviour, however to date he has never shared his data (citing national security concerns) and no one, as far as I know, has been able to replicate his findings. The general consensus in academia is that the guy is full of it. Serious researchers will tell you that success rates in detecting deception are between 47 and 52 percent. 52 percenters are people who are highly trained in interviewing. Which means that generally speaking, you might as well flip a coin –  you’ll have about 50% chance of success, and won’t need to invest time or energy at all. Look up the concept of “Pinocchio’s nose” in forensic interviewing.

2) That said, there are many techniques designed to get a person to reveal that they are deceitful. These techniques are mostly based on cognitive load – that is, lying is demanding and tiring, and if you load people’s brains with other stuff, they have a lower ability to fabricate stuff. These approaches are used by interviewers, and they won’t be particularly helpful as long as you are not the one who is using them in an actual interview. I would not recommend doing the interviews with mr. Huntley, even if you somehow managed to get permission to. To simplify a bit, psychopaths have long memories and they do not like it when people see them in situations outside of their control (which would be cooped in a prison cell for murder, for example 🙂 ). They are also usually quite charming and you do not want to involve yourself in these things, if you can help it, especially without much (or any) support from people who are on the ball, and able to help you if you wade in too deeply.

3) I don’t know what data you have, and I’ve never seen any of the shows dealing with mr. Huntley. Be aware that short of seeing unedited, unabridged footage of actual interviews, you are on a very thin ground. If you look at commercial footage, you are analysing the story that the media is pushing, not the actual interview. Reading the transcripts is even worse in some ways: You lose 4 out of 5 channels of communication there, so your analysis would be tenuous at best.

4) Remorse is a complex concept. First of all, you need to settle on a definition. There are judicial, normative, and social definitions available, amongst others. I, as a trained psychotherapist (amongst other things), tend to use the definition from cognitive behavioural therapy, i.e. a person feels remorse or guilt because they believe their actions hurt someone. Remorse resolves itself, once a person has amended their actions, made reparations and accepted that they feel guilty because they did something they felt was wrong. And if you go with that, you run into several issues. (a) If mr. Huntley is a psychopath (as it is reasonably likely to assume and there are probably diagnostic data available to prove it), then he does not feel remorse, because the concept is completely foreign to him. There is plenty of research on psychopathy confirming this in all psychopaths. He does not believe he has done anything wrong, so why feel bad about it? (b) The motivation for showing remorse is unclear, or rather, probably only too clear. If someone demonstrates remorse, then they are likely to be treated better in the judicial system – they may be released earlier, they might receive a more lenient punishment etc. So, for mr. Huntley, it makes all the sense in the world to claim to be remorseful, regardless of whether they actually are. It’s a no brainer, really. Therefore testing for actual remorse would need to include removal of any kind of external incentives, before one could even start looking at its veracity. By external incentives, I also mean public opinion. Even if we remove the possibility of earlier release through fooling the penal system and judicial review, we still have (a) the media bias – stories where a person is redeemed are selling better than the gloomy reality, therefore no self-respecting producer would construct a show where an asshat  remains an asshat until the final episode with the moral that evil never changes (although, funnily enough, there is plenty of evidence that psychopaths are not capable of change even if severely penalised for their behaviour. They’d literally rather take an electric shock, than change). So, the media will skew the story in order to sell it. (b) the public opinion is a strong force that should not be discounted. Therefore, for mr. Huntley it works very well to be perceived as a contrite boy, who did something wrong but is “very sorry about it”. It works for him if there are demonstrations outside the prison, to release the poor boy. It works very well for him if he gets hundreds of letter from people all over who are telling him how they are on his side against the crooked system, because that feeds into his systems of control.

Therefore, what you are attempting to do, most likely, is to analyse how good an actor mr. Huntley is, not whether he actually feels remorse. It is exceedingly unlikely that a psychopath would confide in you or anyone else, especially in a public setting (as that is not a proven survival technique), and you probably would not want that anyway, as that would mean that they have shown weakness to you and generally speaking people like that do not live for very long.

So, if I was you, I would actually do the same research question, but interpret it correctly, that is, not focus on deception at all, because to me it is a given that the guy would lie, but rather look into how remorse is expressed in general – which words, statements, acts of contrition are usually employed effectively in various contexts, and then analyse mr. Huntley to see how many of these mechanisms he mimcs and how well. So just assume, he is fabricating like crazy and measure how good he is at that.

Hope that helps.

Kind Regards,

          —  David

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Watch stuff is moving to https://tinker.crq.systems !

This was all getting untidy. Politics and computers and watches. So I created a special page for watch stuff, here: https://tinker.crq.systems/ . The previous watch stuff will be slowly phased out from here (it is all on the new site, called OFFICIALY CERTIFIED).

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The Double Red Sea-dweller (ref 1665)

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Playing with the Hulk (116610LV)

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Playing with the Submariner (update)

This had now moved to: https://tinker.crq.systems/2019/10/03/playing-with-the-submariner-update/

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Playing with the Submariner

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The no-deal rationale

A narrative emerges: “The EU anti tax avoidance laws will come into action soon, therefore the UK billionaires want to get the UK out of the EU asap with no extension to ART50”. Panama papers shoud give one a clue about how much it would suck for segments of the UK to suddenly have off-shore accounts taxed.

This seems plausible in general terms – much more plausible than “The instigators of Brexit have suddenly gone insane and don’t understand how bad Brexit will be for the economy”. I rather think that they know exactly what Brexit will do for the UK economy and also what it will do for their personal finances, which won’t be bad at all. And no one likes going to jail either. The common folks can keep going to scr*w themselves, they certainly cannot expect the likes of Reese Mogg or the former banker Farrage to help them out.

My only niggle is that the new directive came into force January 2019, not “soon”. I suppose the UK can ignore it for a bit, if they leave in two months, but finds it harder to ignore it, if they stay for say half a year and certainly not, if they have a withdrawal agreement keeping them in the EU for two years. Thus it would make sense for the leading Brexiteers, to push for a no-deal. Forget about FTAs and sovereignty. That is all just fodder for the masses.

Of course they cannot do it directly, for the leave voters seem to be simple-minded and naive, but not completely insane. Therefore, in order to save their finances and possibly freedom, the LeaverLeaders (LLs) need to invent stuff like “managed no-deal”, which is an oxymoron, rejected in many ways by the EU and receives scepticism from voters.

When that does not fly, they need to come up with WTO promises, which are not based on reality. Let’s not rehash, but briefly – the UK will need to re-apply for a membership of WTO, every member has a right to veto, Argentina will want Falklands, Spain will want Gibraltar, the US will want deregulation, which wil zero the chances of a FTA with Europe.

And then there is the withdrawal agreement… EU says they don’t want the UK in the customs union, without four freedoms being observed. But they point out that the GFA (the Good Friday Agreement) is a part of the constitution of the UK (google it, you’ll see). Therefore, breaking it would mean the UK government would act against its own constitution and that might be problematic and trigger an instant constitutional crisis. If the UK observes the GFA then there must not be a hard border in Ireland. That would mean either single market, or a hard border between Ireland and Britain. The LLs say no, while we don’t care about NI, we want to impose conditions that EU would reject, in order to avoid the new tax directives (i.e. we want the whole UK in the customs union!).

The EU bends over in order to save the British constitution and agrees to the proposed conditons (whole UK in customs union if all else fails. And they all know there is no FTA coming in two years. Mostly because the UK would probably only start working on it one year and eight months into the period). The LLs figure that they should ask for more impossible stuff until the EU says no, in order to avoid the new tax directive. They pretend that the conditions they imposed are all of a sudden not good enough. They impose new, even more unpalatable conditions. If the EU says yes, they will ask for even more stuff (the latest votes in the parliament demonstrate that nicely – where the LLs reserved the right to vote against the withdrawal agreement even if the EU accepts the new proposal). If the EU says no, the LLs will blame the EU for the population being screw*d, and neatly keep their money untaxed.

It is imperative for the LLs to get out as soon as possible. Not because they cared about the UK, but because they care about their comfort. From that perspective, nothing they are doing is irrational. They don’t care about the economy, they don’t care about the people, they don’t care about Irish Troubles or the GFA, and they don’t care how (un)prepared the UK is for the crash. They are sorted only if this happens quick enough. And if they are not rich yet, the people whom they saved, will be generous. And the remainers telling the LLs about all of this is as effective as the union representative of gazelle population asking the hippos to understand that gazelles have feelings too, and to adjust their diet accordingly.

And that’s the niggle. In a mad rush to explain how bad it is going to be, the remainers keep (a) pushing the wrong levers (telling LLs that is is going to be a catastrophe is instantly translated in their heads into: it is going to be a catastrophe for you and the fools who helped us, not for us), and (b) overstate things. As in this case – the LLs want to avoid this crap, yes, but not because it is going to start working in April (it started in January). And that gives LLs leverage – “You don’t know what you are talking about, you are scaremongering, you ascribe us the basest motives, while you are uninformed, etc etc”.

It is somewhat unfortunate that folks are duped by Labour too. Saying: “It is your mess, you deal with it!” Is a bit like standing on a boat that is on fire and saying, “But I did not start the fire. The others did!”. Dude, (a) you will all burn. And while you might derive some comfort from the idea that it was not you who did start it, this will not save you. (b) You might not have started it, but you endorsed it every step of the way. You dicked about without any conviction when they were asking for counter-arguments about setting the ship on fire. You urged the people to get the matches as soon as possible (i.e. voted for ART50). You allowed yourself to be exposed as a closet petty racist that you are when you agreed to blame immigrants for all your failures (oh sure, you had people vote against the racist immigrant law, but only at the last second, insuring that the law would pass. About one in four of your MP’s did not show up for the vote, dude!). You, through your ignorance, are enabling tax dodgers, for they will profit from this and your constituents will burn. At the same time you believe that you are helping the middle and the working class.

I know they are calling you a closet socialist, but dude, I hope you don’t believe that about yourself. If Marx was alive right now, he would be spitting in your face. Foucault said that the structures of power remain the same, only people who populate them, change. Do you know when that became apparent to me? When your canvasers came to my door and did not seem to be bothered at all about me not being able to vote in GE or the referendum (despite being a tax resident and living in the Country for the past ten years). F*ck me, right? But I could still be useful in the local elections to you, so why not vote labour, the canvasers asked me? I told them that I am not interested in voting for deluded nazis any more and they were a bit upset and told me, that they need to cater to the votes of leavers too, so if I could just ignore their stance on Brexit, that would be really helpful to them. You see, things might suck for you, but why not vote for the lesser of two evils, was the message they were trying to convey. We won’t stand up for you at all, but we are still better than those evil tories, right? That is not socialism, dude. That is not even left wing, dude, believing that it is now your turn at the wheel, because your are slightly less worse in some ways not pertaining to me, than the current driver. Take your caviar left entitlement and shove it.

So here we are. The LLs are taking good care of nr. 1 and don’t care about the rest. The leavers believe they are getting something out of it, and the remainers hope that people who are already perfectly rational will suddenly become rational. The remainer tories (not all), are going along, because they either believe the lies, or think it will all work out for them too somehow. Labour is quietly enabling a no-deal and hoping to be able to shift the blame for it on LLs which won’t happen, because there will be plenty of blame to go around and none of it will stick to LLs.h

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Leaving Cambridge

After five years and a bit, we are leaving Cambridge. It is somewhat bitter-sweet parting. I’ve met some good friends here and people that I genuinely like (and some of them seem to like me). I’ve met a bunch of utter assholes too (I was sorely tempted to provide a link here, but let’s not burn any bridges, eh?). I am certainly richer for the experience, although I am not sure I would wish it on anyone. Living in a bubble of your own nation and being preoccupied with petty squabbles of your own locale is in some ways easier than being exposed to the naked ambition of the world. It brings prestige, but also stress and a bunch of moving goalposts.

In my life, I often worry about being a quitter and not being able to stay the set course. Objectively speaking, I don’t think I actually need to worry about that. But I do. It is better for my sanity and my well-being and that of my family, to leave now, I know that. Still. I need to keep saying to myself that it is the right choice.

I arrived in Cambridge for the first time at midnight in April 2013. I was staying in a College, that had a room available. I arrived literally a 100 meters from my destination in a straight line across the park from the bus stop. But I took a cab, because the bus driver said it would be smarter to not wander around with luggage in the middle of the night. This was pure bull. I never felt less than perfectly safe in Cambridge. The cabbie needed to stay on the road, so he long-hauled me a bit and it took me longer to be driven than a walk would take. That was my first experience of Cambridge.

The next day, I went to the lab. It was a Friday and I was not due until Monday. My future boss was not around, but they gave me a card and papers and showed me my office door – it was locked and they did not have the keys for me. I only later realised that all postdocs could unlock all Phd and Postdoc offices, and all academic staff can open all academic offices, and cleaners could open everything, except perhaps the server and power plant rooms. I could have asked someone. But I did not, because I was shy. I went to the cafeteria and realised I was somewhat nervous, when I spilled my tea over the sugar and milk stand. Embarrassing, but no one noticed.

I got us a house and slept on the floor in a sleeping bag for the first few days – rented properties in the UK are usually empty. And I mean empty. There is no washing machine, no tables or chairs, no bed, no cutlery or dishes or pans. I would order a pizza and have it pre-cut, because I did not have a plate, or a fork or a knife. I would eat it on the floor. Luckily, IKEA delivers. And Kim ordered a few cups and bowls on the Internet and got them delivered to me. It was a cool surprise.

I was somewhat lonely. The Internet was not yet connected at home, so I couldn’t skype. I would talk to Kim most days on my mobile, but otherwise I was at work with a bunch of people who are never going to win popularity contests or any extroversion prizes. When not at work, I was alone. Let me tell you, being alone is a lot cooler, when it is a choice.

Three months later Kim and Sofia arrived for good. Sofia had a hard time, because she did not speak English and she started attending a nursery where, unsurprisingly, no one spoke Slovene. There were some occasions where she told us that she would be extremely good, if we would just stop punishing her by sending her to the nursery. She believed she was doing something wrong. It made me wonder whether this project was worth it.

Work was good. I had unlimited freedom, and I did whatever I pleased. The grants paid for conferences and I was noticed. Not in Cambridge, of course. Here, a Nobel prize is something worth noticing, or peerage, or a fellowship of the Royal Society at least. Not praising, to be clear, just noticing. Publishing stuff is what is expected. Getting grants is expected.

There were ego stroking things too. I met prime ministers and CEO’s, we had long winding conversations with rockstar academics. I met ambassadors and consulted governments all over the world. I dined with aristocrats. I am respected in my field, and have lectured in Japan, Europe, Brasil, the U.S. and other Countries. It was easy to get used to the might of Cambridge behind me – a name that opens doors. But that also extracts a price. An employer of the year award is not something this University can expect, if I wanted to put it the way a Brit would.

I don’t know how to feel about leaving, to be honest. New adventures await, many of them carrying a lot less stress and hardship with them than the present one, I am sure. And yet it is the end of an era for me, I suspect.

My friends, acquaintances and colleagues who have little direct experience with living and surviving in OxBridge keep pointing out that they don’t understand why someone would leave these halls. Was I thrown out, they secretly wonder. Not really, no. I was treated no worse or better than most academics in Cambridge. The amount of subtext here boggles the mind :). I could have stayed, continued bringing in the grants, could have found ways to keep going. But at one point in time I realised I was not happy. Not even content, to be honest. I didn’t laugh much anymore. Almost nothing brought me joy. I was enduring and that is no way to live.

My life essentially stopped. I was making a reasonable living, was able to support the family, largely, but that was about it. Nothing was cute or amusing any more. The only thing I could be arsed about was work. I could and did go through the motions of spending time with the family, but I was not really there. And then Brexit referendum happened.

I felt relieved, honestly. All of a sudden no one could blame me for waving goodbye to this sinking ship. And this is still what I tend to say to people that I don’t know well enough to be honest with them. I tell them we left because of Brexit. But we did not, really. We left in a large part because Britain is not a nice place to live in anymore, and because I suspect Cambridge never ever was. There are many people that persevere in it and make it bearable for them and their friends.  Nothing is horribly wrong with Cambridge. I don’t want to discourage people who are hoping to go, it is just what it is. When I asked my former supervisor, before I came, why he left Cambridge after twelve years, he said that it was simply not for him, and I secretly thought to myself that this is where we differ – Cambridge wasn’t for him, that is fine, but it absolutely suits for me. Five years later, I appreciate his dry British delivery. I am not sure that Cambridge is for anyone. People just mould themselves to fit.

Five years. Pointless to recount them in excruciating detail. I feel good about the experience, not sure that I would want to repeat it, however.

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Omega Seamaster PRO Chronograph (2599.80.00)

This post has now moved to: https://tinker.crq.systems/2018/09/22/omega-seamaster-pro-chronograph-2599-80-00/

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Omega Seamaster PRO GMT (2535.80.00) Revisited (Update #3)

This has now moved to: https://tinker.crq.systems/2017/10/30/omega-seamaster-pro-gmt-2531-80-00-revisited-update-3/

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Stop attempting to hack my page, please.

Seriously, guys. I know it is fun, but stop trying to reset my wordpress password. There are sites out there that have a lot worse protection than this one. Why don’t you set your bots on that? If you are just some random guys, let me reassure you that my passphrase is longer than eighteen characters and not in any dictionary in the world (and I don’t mean that I just replaced i’s with 1’s. Not that I am saying that there are any i’s in my password). Let me also reassure you that the password is unique. As is the one for my email account. I am not one of the 86% of people who have one password for everything. Seriously, a lot of easier prey lying around.

Is it not random, and is it because I have an unfavourable opinion of Brexit? And you are determined to show me the error of my ways? Do you seriously believe that harassing me would make me see things in a completely different light and all of a sudden realise how misunderstood you actually are?

Are you already doxxing me, and I just haven’t noticed yet? Are my photos plastered all over white supremacist sites? Like you guys did it with N. Boyle, when he very eloquently wrote about Brexit in the New European? I highly recommend the article, by the way. I liked it a lot. I also had the misfortune of having to trawl through the human refuse left behind in the “alt-right” forums for the police investigation that you provoked. You know, with all the death threats and 1 am calls to his home? The number of times you posted his personal details in the forums (complete with photos, home address, telephone and mobile number, photos of his wife and children…) and where his children are located with suggestions of rape and sodomy suggested to me that there might be a bit of disgruntlement with anyone not sharing your opinion.

Seriously, just stop it, if it’s you guys. You might succeed in making my life even more unpleasant than it is already, but what would be the point? It would probably not make me leave sooner and I would certainly not like England more because of it.

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Omega Seamaster PRO 300 GMT

This has now moved to: https://tinker.crq.systems/2017/09/14/omega-seamaster-pro-300-gmt/

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The Brexit choices, Brexodus and rocky road ahead

It occurs to me that there is fundamental disconnect between reality and the expectations of English people.

It looks like the tories expect to crash out of the EU without a deal, but attempt to pin it on the EU. This could backfire spectacularly if the Brits are not as naive as the tories seem to think they are.








Magical Thinking

There are any number of British delusions one can encounter daily.




Or perhaps, servitude at the mercy of whomever wants to do a deal?

This is about the belief that the EU should kowtow to mighty Britain.

Yes, because it is best if you threaten your potential future trading partners.








“The person in charge of negotiations promises easy trade deals”


“EU cannot go on, if the UK leaves.”






What does a no deal mean (among other things)?

– Opting out of the clear skies agreement, meaning that the planes will not be able to fly until some sort of deal is reached.
– UK Driver’s licenses will not work on the continent, which means UK trucks will not have the permission to be driven on the continent by their British drivers.
– Opting out of EURATOM (the European Nuclear Agency), which means radioactive isotopes used in curing cancer will not sourced until some sort of agreement will be reached.
– European Medicines Agency will not have a foothold in the UK, which means no UK medicines export, lengthy checks on EU imports and complete loss of EU research funding in this area.
– No access to EU research grants, unless you are one of the few Universities, like for example Oxford, who announced that they are opening a research campus in Paris.
– No subsidies for UK farmers. Oh, I hear you say, no EU subsidies, but the government has promised to keep up subsidies for farmers. Well, WTO (an imaginary post Brexit option) expressly forbids any governmental subsides to framers, if you want to trade under their auspices. So, no subsidies.
– Extensive customs checks for all imports (if not on the UK side, then on EU side). This will hit car manufacturers who depend on just in time supply chains and all the British cars almost exclusively use German automatic transmissions. We should also mention that produce that spoils will not be imported into the UK anymore, because it would rot while waiting for customs clearance.

– Loss of financial passport. According to reports between 60-80% of UK exports are financial services. The companies / banks that will move to EU will retain them, but UK will have no part in those trades. WTO does not regulate trade in services, so even if the UK falls back on WTO trading rules, this will require separate deals, with whomever is still interested in them, once they do not provide access to the single market anymore. In connection to that the euro clearing house is moving to Frankfurt.

– Data retention rights will be scuppered. EU will not keep any citizens information in a Country that is not in the EU. This means server farms and big, say, email providers, like google and Microsoft, will need to move Europeans’ data to Europe.
– The UK academic degrees will not be automatically recognized in the EU any more.
– The universal EU health insurance will lapse for UK citizens. Want to travel to Europe? Best hope nothing happens to you, or get insured in advance.
– Losing a connection to EUROPOL. No more seamless colaboration between police agancies. Think about British family having a kid kidnapped in Rome and not being informed about their child unless they are physically present at the police station. In addition they lose any protections accorded to the EU citizens.
– Import tarifs on everything. As has been repeatedly pointed out, this does not overly hurt German manufacturers, as a Brit who wants to buy a BMW will still be able to, it will just be more expensive.
– Foreign companies moving to the continent or Ireland. Why would, for example, Nissan stay in the UK, when they do not have access to the single market, but they could have it if they move to France (and still sell cars to UK too)? That means loss of jobs and tax revenue.
– Collapse or privatisation of the NHS. Britatin depends on the foreign medical staff. Influx of nurses from the EU has dropped from 4000+ to 47 in the preceeding year.
– Brexodus – more than million Brits are planning to move or have already moved to the EU. Many of these top researchers, doctors, academics…
– Collapse of the British pound. Before the referendum the rate was 1.3EUR to 1GBP, now the official rate is 1.07EUR to the pound and on the airports it is 0.87EUR to the pound.
– Loss of mobile roaming agreements. No more 50p uncapped data per day when roaming with o2 in Europe.

 – …















What are the options England seems to be facing?

Threaten the EU, until England gets all the benefits of the membership but none of the responsibilities (and here). Let’s be clear that even before Brexit, UK for example did not contribute to the Greek bailout, even though everybody else did. So, they expect even more concessions now. They had the power of veto. They opted out of Schengen and out of the Euro. It is not like England was particularly hard done by the EU. There is no need for me to assess how likely this is to happen. There seems to be a certain amount of magical thinking and the expectation of reciprocity (which it emphatically isn’t that) on the UK side. There are any number of comments in the British press along the lines of: “Once the EU grasps how badly they are going to get hurt by us leaving, they will come crawling back”, and “it is in the best interest of the EU to keep the borders with us open unless they do not want to face calamity”. There are also calls for fair or reciprocal treatment, where the definition of reciprocal and fair seems to be: “We can screw you, cause financial difficulties for you, attempt to extort concessions without a second thought for anybody else, but if you expect us to honour our obligations and stick to the agreements we co-wrote and insisted on while we were still members, you are totally unfair”. I suppose true reciprocity would be for the EU to burn the UK to the ground, destroy any possible trade deals it could try to make (in order to maximize profits) and isolate them. That would seem to following the modus operandi of the UK to a t. Remember the UK being really economically weak in the fifties and joining the precursor the EU, leaving all the other commonwealth countries by the way side in order to save themselves? That is the kind of reciprocity I am talking about.








Join the EFTA/EEA, like Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. This does not require ratification by the EU27, but it does require the unaninmous agreement from the other EFTA states. They have access to the single market, but are still paying contributions, have freedom of movement and are beholden to the European Court of Justice. They have no seat at the table and are ruled by the EU through faxes. It is true that freedom of movement is not a strict requirement, but feel free to check how well it worked for the Swiss when there was a referendum where they courtailed it. It took no more than few days of EU cutting any funding to them for the XX president to norify the parliament that he is aware of the referendum vote, but it would not be upheld, because it is not possible to do so. Also, Iceland is all for UK joining the EFTA as that does not include fishing quotas and that would really work for them. At the same time, Norway has clearly stated that they will veto any attempts of the UK to join EFTA, as that would introduce imbalance into what is a fairly small trading bloc in the first place. They also said that EFTA is meant for Countries that are on the way to full membership and is at best transitory, not for Countries who want to leave EU.





Join the WTO. Contrary to the popular belief, membership is not automatic. Any member could still veto it. For example, Argentina already said something along the lines of: “We would be very happy for you to join, however, do you remember the Falklands? Yeah, we need to talk about them, before we can endorse you”. There is absolutely no reason to think that Spain would be overly accommodating, considering how very badly they are getting screwed over Gibraltar. In addition, as it was already mentioned, WTO is very strict about governmental subsidies. One can imagine who popular the British farmers would be in India when they would get large cash injections enabling them to grow cheaper produce and attempt to undercut other farmers operating inside the WTO.







Go it completely alone. Considering that most trade deals take decades to hammer out this is not an optimal solution. The UK government says that this will be very quick as they won’t impose any import tariffs or any quality control. If we leave to one side how badly this would destroy the British economy (through cheap Chinese junk steel and cheap throwaway consumer items), and decimate the population (through becoming a dumping ground for foodstuff no one else would buy), there is also an expectation that “since we will abolish tariffs and customs checks it would be only fair that our trading partners did it too”. This is not how trading negotiations generally work – it is not the best strategy to say: “We are totally exposed and have no leverage whatsoever, so why don’t you take pity on me?”.




Have a lengthy transition period where everything stays as it was and at some point in time just forget about this brexit thing, or do lots of deals under the table with the world in order to give the middle finger to the EU and tell them they are not needed anymore. The EU has not even started discussing a transition deal. This is not on the table at all at the moment. It might have been if the UK did not do anything it could possibly can to anger the EU27, who need to unanimously approve that extension. the foreign minister telling EU to “go whistle” on the financial obligations and the prime minister threatening the EU with nukes is not the best strategy. Neither is attempting to go behind the EU negotiators back to strike individual deals with Germany and France. Even if the EU decided that they would like to be shafted by the UK in the long run and overlook the childish bullying attempts (like tweeting provocations to the EU negotiators and then claiming a twitter account has been hacked), they have not even started talking trade. Because once they do, this might be an option, but it is far mor likely for the EU to say: you want the benfits of a single market? This is jow much it would cost you. You want customs union? This much. You want back into EURATOM? X millions a year. You want back on the clear skies agreement? This much. etc.


Do another referendum (and here)where hopefully the Remainers win and we can forget about Brexit. However, article 50 has been triggered. Come hell or high water, deal or no deal, the UK is out in March 2019. This is a fact. Unless all the other EU countries (that have unanimously accepted the art 50 notification) now agree to disregard it. Why would they do that? The UK was always a reluctant partner, clearly signalling and without wriggle room repeatedly showing that they do not believe in the European ideals of peace and prosperity for all their members.








Why would you want a person like that back? Oh, because of the economic damage caused to the EU and the UK otherwise, I hear you say. Well first of all, when the UK told the EU that they can go and get stuffed (publicly calling Merkel a nazi, Junckers a drunk, etc) this did not go down well. While Europeans might care about others suffering, no matter how self-inflicted that was, there is no reason to forego one’s own interests in order to fulfill somebody else’s. The economic damage to the UK does not take precedence over the economic damage caused to the EU. This latter, can be recuperated by moving the financial centres to Frankfurt, by imposing tarifs on the UK, by taking over everything the UK produces and exporting that, by destroying any chance of a trade deal between the UK and anyone else in order to maximize profits (it would be enough for an EU negotiator to go to, say, Japan and say something along the lines of: “It is brilliant news that you are going to be trading with the UK. Congratulations! I am really happy for you. <brief pause> You know, I hear that Belgium is considering a veto on our trade deal. I am sure we will be able to sort all of this out, don’t worry about it.”). The UK market is getting poorer by the minute, with 60 million people. The EU economy is blooming, with 450 million people. It would not be too hard to choose which trade deal to pursue if one is facing a choice. Therefore, for the EU, whose members take precedence over non-members, it would make sense to bolster its economy by plundering the UK and only then invite it to become a prospective member. They would be granted a membership at some later date, when its assets have been stripped and it is completely broken to a point where it has no other choice, because the people on the streets are literally starving to death and all the bright people have moved out years ago. Of course this new membership would strip out all concessions granted to the UK over the years, it would include Schengen, the euro, freedom of movement, parity on laws and social protection, fiscal rule, ECJ etc.



The only way this can be slightly better for England is if the EU27 would be willing to accept its prospective membership request immediately. In that way, the UK would lose all its concessions but would not have to be economically obliterated for this to end. The pain would still continue throught the prospective phase, but it would be significantly shorter. Look, often in life, we are forced to chose between two bad alternatives. Not every choice in life is between a good and a bad thing. There are no clearly good options for England here and the sooner it faces that, the better. It is not realistic to expect the return to the previous state of things. But on the other hand, England does not have to lose much more industry to the continent (remember, easyjet has already left, for example), it does not have to face hunger on the streets, because the food is not grown, and even if it is grown, there is no one to pick it. It does not have to endure the dismantling of the NHS for much longer and it does not have to experience first hand how many enemies they have made through the years of imperialistic expansion and walking over corpses to reach its own prosperity.




What I am saying is that this is the only choice the UK has in the long run. There is no silver lining, no prospect of a distant bright future if it goes it alone. The only choice is when to stop the bleeding. The longer it takes, the worse it will be in the end.

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New Immigration rules

New immigration rules leaked to the Guardian.
For those who are still interested in this freak-show:
– no more indefinite right to remain. At most one could stay in England is for five years. So, better not plan to attend under-grad and post-grad studies here.
– After two months you will need to register with the Home Office and they will issue you with a biometric ID.
– If you don’t earn enough, then you can forget about bringing your partner or kids over.
This is probably a move by herr May to appease the extreme right. That still doesn’t endear England to me, even if it is just a ploy. If this went through:
– No Freedom of Movement, no Single Market.
– International companies CEO’s will all of a sudden realize they will not be able to stay and run the company for much longer. These people go where the money is and the boards too. How do you think a vote would go in board meeting about losing most of the board and management or relocating? Say goodbye to revenue makers.
– International students will not be able to do undergrad (3yrs) + PhD (3-4yrs) in this Country.
– Academics will not be able to work. Who would move for a single project and then go back?
– Doctors will not come to a dead-end job, where their careers will be cut short.
– We (the EU citizens working in the UK) can probably forget about our pensions accrued in the UK.
– EU people with homes and steady jobs and families here need to seriously consider what they will do in 2-5 years time when they are deported. They probably need to think now, not when they lose the right to own property in the UK.
– The UK pensioners are coming back. EU will reciprocate. The UK is thus swapping a young and energetic work force for people who are more likely to need government services (like NHS) than contribute to them.
It is an absolute pipedream to say, but if you are highly qualified, you are fine. No, I am not.
(a) Our relationship is not as one sided as you might think, England. I contribute to the body of knowledge in a very specific area that captures interest of many, which at the same time is not terribly overpopulated (perhaps 20 people in the world work on this). It is not like I am only sponging off you, England. You are sponging off me and my expertise and borrowing my reputation to enhance yours. Thus, let’s not pretend that I will be pathetically grateful if only you could throw me a small time limited bone. There are other kennels.
(b) If I am not welcome, well, f*ck you too. In the words of Arthur Dent who in HHGTTG lies in front of a bulldozer that is trying to wreck his house: “We’ll see who rusts first
(c) If I am a “highly qualified” migrant, why exactly would I want to come to this bigoted and racist Country? The pound is in the dumps, the long-term career prospects are finished, my family cannot come with me, the atmosphere is stuffy and uneasy. Should I come for the weather? Or so I can be abused or issued an ID card (something the British refuse to adopt for themselves because it is an “invasion of privacy” and “government meddling into citizen’s lives”. I guess it is not a problem if this is done to non-Brits, since we are not really comparably human anyway, right?). From skimming the documents I couldn’t find out they’ll only do this to the EU citizens or to the commonwealth citizens too. If they do it to India, say goodbye to FTA with them.
(d) I understand I am used as a leverage for the dictator May (she wants sweeping powers and no debate or parliamentary oversight, of course she wants to be a dictator) to posture in front of her party and thus remain in power. And as a leverage where the UK shows EU how bad it could get unless it caves. I don’t appreciate that. I do not want to be associated with this regime, they do not stand for the same things I stand for, and I will be damned before I help these people stay in power or screw the British people in general through making myself available to use as a bargaining chip.
Fine. Many of us will go. We’ll both be sorry and then move on. Years from now, I’ll be reading the newspaper and find out whether you’ve prospered or imploded, England. And guess what, I’ll care about equally either way.

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The rise of fascism in the West and the need to be loved

A colleaugue of mine, posted a note on Facebook, comparing Trump to Berlusconi. This is what I think about it.

I think, actually, that a comparison to Mussolini would be more apt. What, with the planned military parades (and here), the presidental proclamation of making january 20th the “national day of patriotic devotion” (there is a screenshot of the proclamation if you follow the link), the America First (here is the origin of the phrase), the nepotism (and here), the establishing of a common outside enemy, the framing of a country that is on the brink of destruction, needing a strong man to lead it (this is all in the inauguration speech. I won’t be linking to that piece of drivel, but it is easy to find it online), etc.

The word fascism comes from the Italian word for a bundle or sheaf (of, as is commonly portrayed, wheat stalks). The underlying premise is that each individual stalk is easily broken, but when they are tied together, they are almost unbreakable. So, the downtrodden masses that are fighting against a common outside enemy are united and unstoppable. The theory goes.

So “the Donald’s” rhetoric and actions are pure fascism. He even likes to be called the Donald (like Il Duce, right?). The second World War did not touch the States as profoundly as it did Europe (it was almost exclusively not fought on their soil), so the Americans are seemingly not getting as edgy as the Europeans are. There are a number of articles in the US press talking about the president being a fascist,(and here and here), but so far they seem to be more theoretical, labelling him but not drawing a logical conclusion – assholes like that lead people into war.

One can (cynically) hope that this will only lead into a military dictatorship on the US soil and not spill over into a full-blown world conflict. But the chance of that is diminishing – the world is already reacting (and here and here and here). Think about it. The world did not want to get involved in the WWII when Hitler annexed Poland, they figured that if he was given a little, then he would stop. Much like Putin did with Ukraine, much like the Donald is planning to extort the other NATO members into paying “protection money“. I predict that the world will accept a little bullying in order to not plunge us all into war, but when it becomes clear that nothing is ever enough, it will reluctantly take a stand, which will bring a response and it will all escalate from there. The outlook is fairly grim in my opinion.

Why do I think the demands will not stop, if the Donald (or possibly Putin in Europe) is given some leeway? Because they never do. There is no previous situation ever, where strong-arming stopped because the bully has had enough.  It sometimes stops when the victim has nothing left to give and the bully moves on, and sometimes it stops because a line is crossed and the victim fights back. But bullying does not just stop if the bully gets what they want. Why would it? Makes no rational sense.

The other issue is that Trump cannot get what he wants, the way he is doing it. He wants to be adored and respected. He wants to be seen as manna from Heaven. So he demands this. And his demands get him obeisance and smiles through gritted teeth, initially (because people hope he’ll go away and pester someone else). He is not content with this on some level, so he makes more extreme demands in order for people to prove their devotion. He just wants to be loved, don’t you see? This alienates more and more people, which makes him more and more unhappy, which results in more and more impossible requests, until someone snaps. In this respect, this a crossed transaction.

Trump says: “Prove to me that you love me – show me some respect, tell me how cool I am and how everything I touch turns into gold!

The world says: “Well, so far there is not much to respect. We’ll see.

Trump says: “That is not the way to treat somebody as cool and valuable as me. I guess you need to see what you are missing. I am building a wall! I am destroying NATO! I am decimating the social safety net! See what happens when you don’t love me? Now, apologise. Apologise for treating me so unfairly!

The World, Mexicans, Women and other interest groups figure they need to find some sort of common ground, the basis for rational discussion. They are wrong. They are looking to discuss things, Trump is looking to be adored. If they give him that, he will stop squeezing them while he believes them.

The international community will not appease him for long. Because of history, because of egos, and because, ultimately, pretending to adore someone you don’t like much is a lot of work and grinds you down. They figure this is a game of chicken, and international negotiations, and playing chess. It is not. Trump will not blink first, because the things on the table are not the things he wants. So why blink? The world could either do what Melanija did, that is take one for the team and smile and let itself be screwed while picturing the piles of cash it can get out of the deal. Or not give an inch, but never escalate into war. Essentially do a Putin, but not be as sleazy about it.

The people from the States should stop deluding themselves. For those who did not vote for him, there will never be a silver bullet. The electoral college will not change their vote, the recount will not show anything, Trump will not suddenly pivot. There will also never be a time where the majority of the Trump voters will say: “Ah I guess this poverty, famine, lack of social care, environmental destruction, etc is all my fault, I am so sorry“. Stop with these delusions. The best you can possibly hope for is for people to not mention the screw-up and change the topic when it comes to their involvement. These erotic fantasies of people admitting their guilt and throwing themselves at your mercy are pure fiction. What will probably happen is that the administration will find a way to spin any fuck-ups in a way where they will be somebody else’s fault (see Brexit negotiations, if you want to see how this works in practice).

But for those who did vote for him and bought into the act – He will also not start caring about the middle and the working class. The way he figures it, he is awesome and should be liked by default. Why should he do anything? He is adored by default, right? So, he’ll screw you, and you will like it. If you don’t, he’ll screw you harder, and if you complain, you will stop existing in the Trump Universe, because in that Universe only people who like him exist.

What you should do is (a) stop fucking around with Democracy. I don’t care how entitled someone feels and how sure they are that it is their turn, you should listen to what people are telling you. If an unknown senator who wasn’t even in your party before the primary can seriously endanger your sitting champion and raise more money then her, well, you could have listened. It is not given that Bernie would have won. Who knows, it doesn’t matter now. But what matters is, that this is what you fucking get, when you tell people what to like. (b) Prepare to pick up the pieces if there are any pieces left. Your nature will be pretty much obliterated, your healthcare will be a joke and your standing in the world will plummet, but on the other hand, the only way is up :).

Here is my prediction of what will happen:

The Republicans will ram through every piece of legislation they can think of and pin it all on Trump. Once he is done being useful in an active role, they will impeach him. Well, not them. For impeachment to start, the simple majority is enough, so only a few Republicans will need to have a “change of heart”. In order to fire the guy, 2/3 majority is required. So, I expect that an impeachment hearings will start and then all of a sudden something will come to light “that changes everything” and now all of a sudden many Republicans will realise how incredibly “morally corrupt” and “treasonous” Trump is. So they will vote for impeachment and throw him to the wolves. Mike Pence will be the president and he will be better at it than the Donald. Oh, the public wants to get back the benefits they enjoyed before Trump? So sorry, Trump did that, not the Republicans. It is a good thing he was caught on time, because can you imagine what kind of things he could have pulled if he was not, they’ll say. We cannot just countermand the legislation that was already accepted and signed off on by the president, can we? That would set a dangerous precedent. When the time for re-election comes around, Pence will come off as so much better than Donald that people will vote for him out of relief.



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The fight for the interpretation (or: After the Brexit speech on January 17th, 2017)



There is now a fight going on about what the British people wanted when they voted to leave the EU. The first rational thing to do in this case is to look at the referendum question. It was exactly this:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

You could vote “Leave” or “Remain“. If you were elligible, that is. Which I am not, obviously, I only spent 8 years in this Country, have a permanent address here and have a Tax residence here.

But, this is the exact wording of the question. Everything else is window dressing and pointless decorations. What people thought they voted for is irrelevant. There was a clear question and a clear answer was expected. 52% of participants voted “Leave“. There is nothing unclear about that. Those who could be bothered and were eligible made their wishes known. That is absolutely clear. Leave, it is.

The citizens who wanted to stay in the EU (colloquially known as Remainers) now have a bunch of grievances. They are saying that mostly the old people voted leave (here and here), leaving the young generation to deal with the fallout. They say that the Leave Campaign lied about a bunch of stuff – for example about the famous £350M per week for the NHS – here and here. Or that the UK would be staying in the single market, etc. This is all beside the point. The people have answered a simple question. Why they they answer in a specific way, and how much they were lied to, is beside the point.

Do I think they are insane? Oh, yes! Yes, I think they are in the process of completely screwing up a whole nation and making England into a historical footnote about how to quickly ruin yourself. I think they have relegated themselves to an obscure little island, where there will soon be no social net, no equality, huge class segregation and where people will be left to die on the streets once they outlived their usefulness. Of course, my opinion is also completely irrelevant. There is no formal reason to object to the result of the referendum. And personal opinions do nothing for this debate. The answer is clear and the Remainers should not question it, or re-interpret what it means.

At the same time, this is true for the Leavers (those who voted to leave the EU, colloquially) and the UK government too! The government or the Leavers should stop telling me what people wanted, when they opted for “leave”. Like, for example, Mrs. May saying: “[…] That is why both sides in the referendum campaign made it clear that a vote to leave the EU would be a vote to leave the single market. […]”. There were no questions about immigration, there was no question about the single market, or about leaving the jurisdiction of the EU court of justice in the referendum. There is no way to extrapolate any of this from the referendum question. None! The people voted leave and the government was tasked about getting the best possible deal. They have no mandate to interpret what the vote actually means. It means exactly what it says on the tin. So far, Ms.May’s reach seems to be fairly limited. She and her stooges seem to be keen on leaving the single market, tanking the pound (Remember, before the referendum the GBP:EUR conversion was roughly 1.35. In January 2017 it is roughly 1.15), losing the financial passport (with financial services being the biggest British export and here), abolishing universal health care, and social services, threatening deportation (and here), and cutting the taxes for the industry. In short, England is well on the way of becoming a third rate banana republic, much like the US is currently striving to become (with nepotism and plans of military parades).

Therefore, the incompetence of the current conservative government and the labour opposition (that is doing fuck-all to stop this dismantling) should not be covered up by saying that this is what people want and everyone should shut up and get with the program. The interpretation of what people wanted seems to be well in line with the tories neo-liberal agenda, but there is no way to know from the referendum question what is it that people wanted. Oh, I hear you say, we should ask people now, what they want and find out what their priorities are. Also, I hear you ask, are you saying that Ms May and her bunch of oafs haven’t done this already? Well, they might have done it, but if they did, they are certainly not reporting it. Because this is what people want: 90% of the poll respondents want to remain in the single market. Polled individuals say they want increased fairness in the society, based on social justice and equality. So, no, the people do not want curbing immigration at any cost, they do not want the dismantling of the social net at any cost.

Simply put, the data does not support the claim that Mrs. May and her flunkies are doing what the people want. They are doing what they want, but not what the will of the people is. Either because they haven’t bothered to discover what people actually want, or (more likely) because they could not care less about what most of the population wants.

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Restoring the Rolex DeepSea Sea Dweller [Updated! 05.jan.2017]

img_3570_zpscnertoegThis has now moved to: https://tinker.crq.systems/2016/10/25/restoring-the-rolex-deepsea-sea-dweller/

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iPhone 7 audio jack saga

OK, the fallout begins.

Here is a story from VOX about why apple abolished the headphone jack:
How badly is this written? The arguments are if I briefly list them:
(a) Apple has done this before. Initially with the iMac and Floppy + proprietary ports in favour of USB, and then with first Air, and last year with Macbook.
OK. The first time they did it was to move from a proprietary port to what became an industry standard. No one could be that deluded to think that the (proprietary) lightning port will become standard on e.g. Android phones. The first Air probably did not sell all that well, especially after Thinkpad x300 was unveiled. If it sold that well, there would have been no reason for the comprehensively redesigned next gen Air. And Macbook might have sold well, bit there is nothing to compare it to. There is no fanless, light, Macbook with several USB ports and thunderbolt. So, it might have sold well (if), but one that wasn’t as hobbled might have sold better. A surface 4 PRO is similar but it is an actual computer, not a toy. My point here is that Apple is now switching to proprietary technology that locks people in not to an industry standard.
(b) Second reason is water resistance. If we ignore for a moment that there are android phones that are water resistant with an audio jack included, we should look more closely at what water resistance here means. Apple said that this is their most water-resistant phone yet. This is not saying much if the previous generation was a water resistant as a sheet of paper. A business card is more water resistant than the previous iPhone. So the new one is all that (less than 1m for less than 30minutes), but you still cannot drop it in your toilet, because it is not resistant enough. So let’s not include this as an advantage.
(c) Lightning headphones can produce better sound than regular ones. Yah, I bet that Audeze Titanium EL-8 sound better than apple headphones included with iPhone 6S. I am not so sure they sound better than a regular non-lightning pair of $800 headphones. Yes, this is how much the Audeze cost. How would they fare compared to Shures or Beyer Dynamics or Sennheisers in that price range? Apples to oranges much?
(d) The integrated DAC is crap anyway, as it is small. Well if you look at the tests, these DAC’s are actually pretty good. And if you were pinning for a very expensive headphone amp and DAC, you could buy it even before the i7 and combine it with high quality IEM’s and still pay less. I notice even Vox is not insane enough to push Beats as a serious solution.
(e) Apple is “betting that however much you might hate having to buy new headphones, you’re going to love the sleeker look of the new iPhone 7 so much that you’ll buy one anyway”. Are you kidding me? I have thousands of pounds invested in headphones. Why would I switch from my current daily-driver Shure SE535’s to another solution that will potentially cost me more for inferior quality just so I can pad Apple’s bottom line (they charge license fees)? And my IEM’s tend to outlast my phones. I am not happy to buy a product that I cannot use on my iPod Classic, Surface, rMacBook Pro, or desktop, and find out that Apple has decided to junk the port when the fancy strikes them.
(f) Apple can make the new phone sleeker, with better battery life and lower the cost if they cut out the headphone jack. Really? There is only one iPhone storage option (128Gb) that can be compared across 6S and 7. The price in the UK for the iPhone 7 is £699 and for iPhone 6S it was £619 at launch. Thus the same capacity iPhone costs £80 more. Consumers generally like it when lowering the cost of production reflects on their bottom line, not just increase the profits for the company. Yes, yes, Brexit. So, perhaps don’t make the same prices across generations the selling point, Apple.
(g) Why not go wireless? The airpods will only cost £159.
Of course most of us who care will use the included adapter if we decide to go for the new iPhone. You can currently buy almost two Sennheiser ie7’s for that price. And Shure SE425 are also about there. We’ll see how they compare in audio quality. I am betting the airpods are about as good as the regular earpods (which is not very, indeed). And my IEM’s don’t only work a few hours at a time. And have at least twice as many speakers inside each bud.

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Mladina about Brexit

I translated an article in Slovene about Brexit from a popular Slovene Magazine Mladina. To be clear, the following text is not mine, it was written by Grega Repovž and the original can be found here: https://mladina.si/175145/cas-za-delavsko-internacionalo/ All the rights are retained by the original author. I only translated it after the article became freely available online (as is the case with all Mladina articles a week after they appear in press).

Time for The Workers International!

The British did not vote against the European Union, but against the free movement of labour. And they are right: the European labour market benefits the rich and the Capital storming Europe weakens and destroys it. Of course you can point the finger, join in, and be appalled at the Brits. Look at them, they really are racist, you’ll be saying, that is what this was all about. They do not like the Poles, they do not like the Slovenes, and they do not like the Pakistanis … But the truth was actually clearly indicated by those Brits who have voted to exit the European Union: The free movement of labour along with the free movement of capital and services, that is presently the foundation of the EU, to them signifies an unfair competition among employees, reduces labour and social rights of the population, and leads all those UK residents who can only offer their labour, into an ever growing spiral of increasing hardship. And the immigrants are victimised in exactly the same way.

Of course, the Brits, who have voted to leave the European Union, do not say that they are bothered about the free movement of labour. Most of them are less politically savvy voters. They believe the immigrants stand at the heart of the problem. But if each of us makes a list of friends and acquaintances, who from 2004 to today went to Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, etc., found a job, and created a new life, a pattern will emerge. If we exclude those in highly skilled positions, whose pay is tied to their specific knowledge, we’ll find that in most other cases these workers’ salaries are lower than average in that country (for that position). In addition, most of these individuals do not hold open-ended appointments and their job security is generally poor. Out of of my acquaintances, in all but two cases (one working at a University, another in a hospital), no one is paid equal wage compared to their British co-workers. Even my two acquaintances are not quite convinced that their status is really the same, although they are reluctant to talk about it at work. Almost everyone who is not extraordinary in some way, works more than allowed to by law, has a lower standard of living and is paid less than their British, German, or Dutch colleagues. The vast majority of those who perform less demanding jobs, does not hold a long-term or open-ended contract, and their workdays are longer than it’s legal. They work Saturdays and Sundays, and their pension plans are minimal or non-existent. Many of these people have been interviewed in various Slovenian newspapers, or on the national television. Their life stories were presented as an umitigated success in Slovenia. While in fact these individuals do not live so well.

Most Slovenians who work abroad, did not get their jobs because they were above average, but because they are simply willing to work more for less pay compared to Britons. In most cases they receive no workers benefits or allowances which are common for Brits and indeed for those Slovenes who remained in Slovenia. Starting with the the paid leave, which for many is significantly lower or non-existent. But these are only the most visible cases.

The easier the job, the less likely is it for employers to observe the EU (or British) standards of employment and the more likely that the job will be held by an immigrant.

The harshest cases can be found among those who work through the various employment agencies. They do not appear on the labour market as employees, but simply as a service that is, for example, offered to a German or a British company by a Slovenian agency. We are very familiar with these cases in Slovenia: TV Slovenia journalist Jelena Aščić monthly discloses the horror stories about abuses that happen through these agencies. Although the spin is usually that this is a shady business practice that only happens to Slovenes, perpetrated by Slovenian companies. In fact this is now a normal standard in the European labour market. European companies everywhere use this cheap labour from Countries that have a lower standard. Slovenian companies do the same thing by, for example, “importing” cheap workers from Croatia. In Germany, several million individuals live and work this way.

Of course, Slovenia is not at all different: Slovenian construction sites are full of employees from former Yugoslavia, as well as from Romania, Bulgaria and other Countries. They are working for substantially lower salaries than their Slovene counterparts, labouring for 14 hours a day and living in (for us) impossible conditions. They receive their money directly through 3rd World shell companies, and this is all tolerated for the sake of increased productivity.

The Capital, the higher classes and partly the middle class, reap the only benefits from the free movement of labour. Everybody else suffers from it.

Let’s look at the issue from the other perspective – from the viewpoint of the resident workers. Social classes hold differing opinions on the precariat. Higher and middle classes across Europe reap benefits from this cheap labour – their lives are more comfortable and affordable. If the shops, cafeterias and other companies that are part of the service industry employ cheap labour, they can lower their prices and thus their customers can benefit. If a local plumber from Manchester gets away by hiring Polish workers, who are paid less (and outside the established Union rules), they can therefore have lower prices and their customers benefit. The richer the individual, the more they stand to gain from the influx of cheap labour. Benefits span various governmental systems too – for example, the health services across Europe are increasingly hiring nurses and servers educated in poorer Countries, because they are cheaper. These immigrants usually come from poor living conditions and are willing to work longer hours for less money, they live in poorer and smaller flats, and are ready to give up many things, which are otherwise completely run-of-the-mill in a Country where they live now. Often these individuals are employed through the “inventive contracts” that allow for lower standards.

Today most of the EU economy is based on this abuse of labour – Slovenes might be used to this kind of movement of labour as it used to be governed by international treaties (for example, between Yugoslavia and Germany in the seventies). Nowadays all of this is covered by the fundamental documents of the European Union. Moreover, that is the essence of the European Union: the free movement of capital, services and labour. However, everything is part of the globalisation process, still one of the inviolable postulates on which the world is founded. This of course benefits the Capital first. It can not be denied, however, that the most underdeveloped countries and their citizens also reap the benefits. But on the other hand we get a shaken proletariat in the Western world.

Great Britain is not a typical European Country, for its standards were the first to decline. In fact, they were the first in Europe to introduce the most ruthless neo-liberal doctrine (under the auspices of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher). And even after the austerity crisis, Britain has remained committed to the European austerity strategies. All the proposed cuts have been enacted by the British government itself. This coincided with the opening of the labour market, though.

Great Britain is one of the end links of the worker migration chain. I am saying this as young people from Germany, Sweden, or the UK, except for the highly specialised ones, do not leave for greener pastures around the world, as a rule. There is no need for that. This puts them in a stark contrast to young Slovenians who move to the UK in order to improve their lives. The Brits mostly relocate to Slovenia after they retire (especially if they are working or lower middle class), because the cost of living is so much lower here that their pensions afford them a better quality of life.

The European open labour market poses a large existential problem for less educated Brits across all of Europe. Their main difficulties are now largely linked to the open labour market. How, for example, can they compete with a young Slovenian girl who is prepared to share an apartment with four other seasonal workers; who is ready to forget about having a pension scheme, and the usual number of days of leave? How can they compete with a Croatian tire technician whose monthly salary at home was 340EUR and plans to earn some money and return home to Osijek in five years?

Let’s make another step towards the understanding of the emerging unease: How is a normally-situated Brit to compete with a Syrian refugee who has lost everything and is completely destitute? Someone who does not care about a pension plan, and is prepared to work seven fourteen hour days per week, without ever going on a leave? How can a young Hamburg architect compete with a young college graduate from Slovakia, who is perfectly willing to live in substandard conditions, only to gain hands-on experience? In addition, his apprenticeship wages will be only half of the German’s apprenticeship wages, but at the same time they will amount to six times the average wage in Slovakia.

Is it really so abhorrent to oppose this state of play on the European markets? The British, who are today protesting against the European labour market, are not asking for anything extraordinary: they only want to stop the erosion of their social, labour, and general rights that is carried out in the name of allegedly higher goals (which are in fact, just a push for higher corporate profits in disguise).

UK politicians are constantly pointing to the European Union as the culprit in this, although the truth is the reverse: the neoliberal social order in Europe is emerging from Great Britain, and not vice versa. The working class’ frustration is much greater because Great Britain is evidently not a Country in crisis, with its GDP constantly on the rise and with ever increasing corporate profits. At the same time, in the entire post-crisis period (which coincides with the freeing of the labour market), the wages in the UK when pitted against inflation, are declining, social rights are constantly being reduced, and jobs are getting less and less secure.

Things are similar in Germany, even though this a Country rising quickly in the economic sense. Obviously the emerging inequality is not felt by the higher and middle classes, together with employees in the public and state administration. However, all the manual workers and those working in less demanding jobs experience it daily. Their standard of living is falling, despite the good macroeconomic results. They are the ones who suffer the consequences of a single labour market, they are facing cheaper workers from poorer European countries, and from Syria, Turkey, and Iran. In this market there are no longer any rules, and that effectively allows for the justification of any current neo-liberal economics. Are the Brits not in the right to oppose these inhuman conditions? Why should they support something that increases inequality, as it forces them out of the labour market, a system that makes them uncompetitive, and forces them to lose their elemental dignity?

It is unsettling that the anger of the proletariat, who yesterday still belonged to the lower middle class is expressed as a crude racism. It is obvious that a Pole working for a third of a minimum wage, under shameful conditions, in a job that five years ago was done by an Englishman or a German for a normal wage, is not the one to blame. Sadly, the ire of the population, stoked by the media and politicians, keeps getting diverted towards this unfortunate foreigner. In fact, both the disenfranchised Brit and the immigrant are the victims of the system that forms the foundations of modern Europe. This is the EU: an affiliation of 28 states that keeps lowering the taxes for the rich and the corporations, an affiliation where the European bureaucrats do not pay an income tax, an affiliation of Countries where economic growth is based more and more on the destruction of workers’ and social rights. And this union points to the free movement of labour as their crowning achievement.

To reiterate: the free movement of labour in the Western, richer European Countries benefits the rich, the higher class, and the upper middle class. For everybody else, it is an existential nightmare. And to these individuals, the workers who are willing to work for less money than is needed for a dignified life, pose a problem. They are like quislings in a war. They are the strike-breakers. Can we really approve of someone who is willing to work for less (regardless of their personal hardship), and as a consequence take a job of someone else? How was this ever acceptable?

The European labour market plays one worker against another. Exploiting the plight of a Romanian woman, who can not survive in Romania, and is pitted against a distressed Italian woman who could not accept such low wages as that would mean relinquishing their none-too-stellar-as-it-is standard of life. This is the European Union. Why would anyone want to support such a Union? We should not forget that in the previous decades the profits of corporations and enterprises were constantly on the rise, and that the highest classes have never in history been experiencing so rapid an increase of wealth. We should remember that these growing profits are largely due to the circumvention of labour rights and actual reduction of working class wages.

The growing fascism and hatred against immigrants and refugees, which often culminates in hatred against Muslims can be clearly blamed on the European Union and, of course, on all the Countries and governments that still follow the neo-liberal concept. Britain is among the least innocent parties in this respect. This is the only fundamental problem: There are more and more Europeans facing an existential crisis exacerbated by the fear of being unemployed. This fear is caused by the European labour market, where all the rules have fallen, and the golden standard is to exploit the employees. A market where it is permissible to play the poor and needy Easterners and “Southies” (for example, Slovenians) against the existing workforce. Do we really think that opulent xenophobia and the rise of nationalism in Austria has no connection to cheap workers without proper contracts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, who are willing to work more for less money? Of course, businessmen (owners of Capital) are satisfied with higher profits. But why should this seem acceptable to an Austrian who has to accept a lower living standard to facilitate these profits, and is constantly reminded that the Slovenes of Styria, Carinthia and Prekmurje are far cheaper than them?

British withdrawal from the European Union can turn out to be one of the best things that happened to modern Europe. If the intellectuals, and the left-wing and Union leaders are able to seize this opportunity. Brexit should signify the beginning of a new workers’ International, bringing together workers, both domestic and migrant, for we should understand, everyone is disenfranchised, and no one is in a good spot right now.

The European Union, with its corporations and lackadaisical opulence can only be saved by admitting that it has betrayed the Europeans by serving the Capital. It should immediately start to recognize the rights and dignity of all workers by enforcing the same standards for all. Because otherwise the rage will only grow. The rage of employees whose lives are getting worse while profits increase and GDP grows, is growing stronger every year. If nothing happens sooner, it will only be possible to stop the fury with tanks, and an army. That is also a possible European future. Where the immigrants, who are no less victimised by the discriminatory legislature, will quite possibly be the first victims of this anger. This victimisation, where the rulling class under auspices of European treaties and national laws enacts the exploitation of labour and workers is especially true for Britain. The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker should therefore cease browbeating British sceptics; and the MEPs, another wealthy European caste, should stop applauding him. How shameful it was for them to reveal this week that they understood nothing, and that they do not understand the problems that the offended Europeans are facing.

Great Britain has sent a very clear message to London and Brussels, on behalf of the European working class. The Brits may seem silly, and perhaps we can point to famed British arrogance. But let’s rather not. This behavior is an expression of a long-term hardship, for which the EU is not solely to blame, but it did help the neo-liberal politicians in all Countries to exploit their labour markets in order for companies to benefit to the detriment of their citizens. This is the hardship we need to address.

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Brexit postmortem as it is happening




Well. Hard to say anything really. I was ambivalent before and still am. On one hand I am childishly expecting the screws to start tightening, on another I still cannot believe someone could be so insane. The markets are plummeting and will continue to do so.



To spell it out what Brexit means:

  • Renegotiation of trade deals across the board without protection of a larger entity like EU.
  • Renegotiation of entry requirements. Possible visas.
  • Foreign corporations moving to Scotland or other parts of Europe. JP Morgan already announced they are leaving.
  • Possible break-up of UK – Scotland already said they would remain in the EU. Northern Ireland also voted to stay in.
  • No more EU funding for schools and urban development.
  • No more easy student exchanges. Erasmus will be gone.
  • Tuition fees doubling to “international level”.
  • Added strain on NHS from all elderly ex-pats being evicted from Europe (Spain already said they would do that).
  • Financial currents move to Scotland or Germany and bypass England.
  • Pension schemes are taking a beating and some pension accounts have been closed already.

Now, it seems that the English are googling what the possible effects of the leave might be and [sic] what is the EU.

Apart from the obvious irony, I am also bitterly amused by the fact that people need to google what is going on. This can be compared to sitting at home and instead of looking through the window, surfing the Internet to find out what the weather is like. What do you mean “What is going to happen?” It has already started happenning. 2 trillion dollars have been lost in a day, the pound was in free fall, reaching the 1985 levels. Pension schemes are crashing. Tens of thousands of jobs lost in the City alone. And now you wonder what is going on?

Seriously, you wonder what is going to happen? It is already happening, just look outside. England is pushing the world towards recession and if we are lucky, only England will crash and burn, and if we are not, the world will stagger too.

I am angry. I did not realize it before, but we went to the theatre on Saturday and there were several short pieces presented. One of them was about American yokels coming to England and buying National Trust properties. There were passing references to how stupid Donald Drumpf is and I just got more and more upset.

And I did not understand why at first. Then it occurred to me, that the English have lost the right to pretend how suave and “better” they are compared to backwards tribes coming from the rest of the world. After fucking up the world because most of the country got scammed by a few people who seriously lined their pockets on the backs of others, you do not get to feel superior in any way, shape, or form.

After destroying the future of your younger generation, who will now need passports and will be checked at the customs every time they leave the country; the generation who will not be able to freely flow between European Universities on the back of Erasmus, you do not get to call anybody else backward. Are we clear?

Bah, I am upset yes. The smugness did not bother me before, because I bought into it in a sense, but now it is just jarring. Only now you wonder what is going to happen? Truly, some people just want to watch the world burn.

Many of our family friends are apologetic, they tell us they are ashamed and that they are sorry, etc. I tend to ignore this, because there is nothing I can say, really. We are in the same boat up to a point. Only theirs will be rapidly taking on water, and I will still have a European passport in the end. What can I say? “Sure, thank you for fucking up my job prospects? Thank you for making me uproot my child and her losing all her friends? I completely understand that you have fucked everyone over in the name of the illusions of old grandeur?” Should I say: “I know you voted remain, so no need to apologize, we’ll weather this together?” How will that help? Just bloody stop apologizing, since we are both screwed. We are now both living in a country where foreign people get abused the street (no seriously, it is already happening) and where MP’s get shot in the face (and then Nigel says that the leave campaign has won without a shot being fired). We are living in a country that did not deem fit to educate itself about what a colossal fuck-up they were going to commit. Why are you apologizing to me? It is not your fault, and we are both screwed. Apologize to your children, that would perhaps be more effective. Why don’t you explain to them how it was in the past, when we all still had a dream. A shabby and sub-optimal dream of a united continent with free flow of culture and knowledge, but a dream nonetheless. A dream that your nation has seen fit to take behind the shed and shoot in the head. Why don’t you explain the logic behind that to your children?

Why don’t you start the story by saying: “Once upon a time, there was a nation, where people believed in abolishing borders, and equality across gender, race or creed, but we preferred to cling to old glory, and decided to flip them off. We thought the nation would still pine for us and do everything they could for us to remain friends, but for some reason they treated the divorce as a divorce, and not as a master-servant relationship. Now, love, please let me extinguish the candle as energy sources have become expensive since we left the common market.”

How fucking stupid do you have to be to post comments along the lines of:

You LOST. Get it? A majority of the British people disagreed with you and you LOST.


The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation.

Seriously? What kind of delusion you need to be living under to believe this crap? The Remain campaign lost and Leavers won? I’ve got news for you. You both LOST. We all lost. You continue losing about a month and a half of EU subsidies PER DAY. How, in your wildest dreams, do you see this as victory?

The UK will extricate itself from the EU laws? Well fine, (a) one option is to become like Norway, who has to accept all the laws from EU without a seat at the table. Ask the Norwegians how comfortable it is to have to accept Schengen after they said they did not want to. The EU just told them that this was not a request and faxed them the new rules. Want to be part of the common market? These are the conditions.

The other option is (b) to extricate itself completely. Fine, but do not live under the illusion of accessing the common market then. The commentators and Leavers say that UK is exporting 45% of its goods to EU and therefore EU will need to give them a good deal. This is a bit of putting a cart before the horse. I am betting that right now EU officials are meeting with Canada, US and all other friends and telling them that they have an opportunity to get a 0% tariff on importing to EU if they act now. 45% of UK exports are not the same as 45% of EU imports, see? It is not the UK holding the EU by the balls, but rather the opposite.

I am so interested to see how the government proceeds now. If they stop paying EU subsidies, the EU will invoke article 27 which is in place if a member state does not fulfill its obligations and that will screw UK immediately. If they do continue to pay, the only thing they have accomplished is impoverished its economy and lost all benefits from before, while holding the same obligations.

Oh you want to come back? No problem, say hello to the euro, which is a condition for new member states.

You would like to keep EU financial passports? Why would you get them back? Frankfurt is too busy counting all the money they will be making from financial currents transferring to Germany to bother with you.

The University has run out of paper forms for EU passports. Dozens of EU staff have already handed in their notices in some departments. And this is the second richest University in the world.

And then there are people who were saying that this referendum was not legally binding. It does not fucking matter, don’t you see? The damage to the UK economy has already happened and is continuing to happen. Even if they overthrow it right now, the foreign companies will still leave. Who wants to stay in a country this unstable? They do not trust England any more. The concessions that EU has been giving to the UK and the better terms they have been enjoying are gone. The ratings have been downgraded and will be downgraded further.

This is a total clusterfuck.

Addendum: In a part of Cambridge, in the Polish community, people have been receiving leaflets which state that the “Polish vermin” should now leave. Germany could have used you in the second world war, England. Next time, don’t wait 60 years to blame the Poles.


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20160607_105201587_iOS 20160607_105148422_iOSOK, let’s talk about Brexit. I have only peripherally been following this overly politicized storm in a tea cup. It is not that I think it is impossible for Britain to shoot itself in the foot and “leave”. I guess it is possible, but I have some remnants of faith in the preservation instincts of the Brits. The campaign that is in full swing is rife with manipulations. And this is what bugs me.

A leaflet was recently delivered to my door, called: The UK and the European Union: THE FACTS (see image). I naively opened it, expecting to find said facts. They are sadly absent or twisted. It is not clear who wrote this piece of garbage – it seems that the authors would prefer to not be labelled racist bigots, so they stayed anonymous.

First there is a veiled appeal of telling us how when EU started, there were only 9 states, proud and tall, but now there are 28, full of riffraff and uncivilised savages. They do not come out and say it, no, what they say is that in the next round “[…]Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey [will be considered for membership]”. And then they say: [sic] “If they are let in, they will have the same rights as other member states.”

(1) Heh. I have a hard time imagining that the authors think that right now all the member states have the same rights. If they do believe that, they are divorced from reality. Yeah, sure, Croatian minister of finance has exactly as much sway as the German one in deciding policy, riiiight. Or the Greeks, or Italians or Hungarians, they have exactly as much say right now as, say, Britain or France. Even now, the EU is not a union of equal states. Come on, wake up and smell the coffee.

(2) If we disregard (1), then I am wondering why is it surprising that members of a Union would have equal rights? Is that something that needs to be emphasised in order to scare common folk? Wooo, now a dirty Turk or a lazy Montenegran will be able to decide who to vote for in the European elections and then hope that these people will represent them fairly in the European Parliament. Terrifying, I know.

(3) While England used to own most of the known world at one point in time, the idea of indentured servitude is not as accepted now, as it was then. Your Turkish barber will now have a voice, yes. He is not your bloody slave. Rest easy, you will still be able to hire Brazilian maids even if South-Europeans will suddenly need to be treated like people.

I won’t go into every paragraph of this bumpf. Will just comment on a few more.

More than half of net migration to the UK comes from the EU

250.000 people in a year! In a population of 60+ million. Assuming the English stop reproducing now, they will be extinct in only 240 years! The bloody foreigners are stealing our jobs! Taking our women.

I can understand that people would prefer the competition to be eliminated by any means necessary. After all, who do these foreigners think they are? We have enough nuclear physicists, we don’t need any more. Do you? Sure about that? Do you realize that even when you stop training nurses for five years, people will still need them in the coming years, but they may be French now? There is an assumption that if only the pesky Europeans would not come, then everyone will have a job, regardless of their level of incompetence.
“The EU costs us 350 million GBP a week”.
First of all, [citation needed]! How did they come up with this number? Is there a person who knows how much money is actually going to EU and what does this entail? It seems to me as if this was fairly rule of thumb back of napkin calculation, that gets worse later in the text.

That is enough to build a new NHS hospital every week of the year

(1) It is almost as if the authors are suggesting that if we leave the EU, the money left over will be used for building hospitals. Come on, don’t embarrass yourselves, or me. Stop pretending that the money going to the EU now, will later be magically re-purposed to help out the poor and needy. Also, does England need 50+ new hospitals in a year? Who will staff them? That’s right, the pesky trained foreigners, because you managed to screw up the NHS.

We get less than half of this money back, and we have no control over the way it’s spent […]

[CITATION NEEDED!] How do you get to this number? Do you factor in the customs fees you are exempt from? Do you factor in the fact that now the financial market is in essence based in the City? You better believe it that the first thing that will happen on Brexit will be that the European financial currents will be diverted to Frankfurt.

We have not even started with the issue of the UK breaking up. England may want to leave, but Scotland would probably want to stay in the EU. Here is an interesting article on this from the Salon.

You see, the problem here is also the one that happens in large families. Those of you who come from such families know – it is fine for siblings to cross over the nuclear line at will and massacre each other, but god forbid that an outsider would talk shit about their family. Britain “leaves” and it is not rid of the unsophisticated and stinky brother in law, they are just not allowed to talk shit about him anymore.

The island will physically not move, let’s be clear. There may be a divorce but the other aggrieved party will not stop existing. First, there will be a fight over the spoils, which will simply mean:

(a) Customs fees and that will hurt the UK more than it will hurt Europe. After all, what has Britain got to offer as an export that is quintessentially British? People do not buy many Astons and the bananas are dying out anyway. The steel industry is screwed and many of the UK industry giants are not owned by the British any more. The UK pensioners who buy prime real estate in Europe do not count as an export good.

(b) These “ex-pats” all of a sudden will not be European citizens any more. This will be a lot of fun, when all of a sudden they will need to secure citizenship to own real estate in Europe. I am gleefully looking forward to those buying real estate in Slovenia having to pass a language exam (the link is in Slovene, but don’t worry, you’ll need to learn the language anyway as one of the citizenship requirements of showing your dedication to your new Motherland). I can still remember how difficult it was to buy property as a foreigner in Europe, before the Union. Have fun guys and girls. You should especially enjoy the point in time where all your real estate contracts get voided, because you cannot own stuff in Europe any more and the local authorities come with bulldozers to tear down illegal housing. Think I am making this up? It has happened before. My family (who are not Croats) still owns a piece of Croatia coastline where a luxury hotel is now partially built on. The land was seized and our vacation home bulldozed. You are saying this cannot happen in Europe, because it is too civilized? I have two words for you: Syrian Refugees. Still think Europe is friendly to foreigners? Especially after they spat all over it, like you are doing right now.

(c) For centuries now, England has been the centre of academic excellence. In the last decades the tuition fees have gone up, and they have always been double for international students. So, bright Europeans were incentivised to come to England by having to pay “only” domestic tuition fees. The brightest stayed and were offered jobs. If the fees are suddenly doubled (amounting to about 20,000 GBP per year + living expenses), people will be sad but not for long, as there is also Bologna, Sorbonne, Max Planck Institute and many others. Well, these institutions might be slightly less shiny than, say, Cambridge, but they are about 20,000 times cheaper too. So while academics have profited from having access to outstanding institutions steeped in tradition and research excellence, these institutions have also benefited from having the brightest minds in the world at their disposal. This will peter off with Brexit. Have fun keeping up with the rest of the world. To be clear, there are very few English PhD students and postdocs, comparatively. By the time they get to the PhD level they are so far in debt that they figure they’ll work a bit, pay of some of the student loans, and maybe do a PhD later. Most then realize that having a living wage is hard to give up and don’t come back. So, England, you will be driving away the brightest academics and will be left with a lack in the end which will lead into declining research output and into a slide in the world rankings. And then for new academics, Bologna and Berlin will start looking more and more enticing – cheaper and now also academically comparable.

I am in a bizarre position where I am defending EU, although I think the bureaucrats in Brussels have made some very questionable decisions lately and am, frankly, all for destruction of EU in the present form. It does not stand for what I stand for – I do not believe in the same gods they do. I do not worship at the shrine of austerity and I do not accept that since someone decided to play fast and loose with everyone’s money, the taxpayers are now to blame for this. I do not believe that people should be turned away at the door, because they are less fortunate than me. I’d much rather pay for a refugee shelter than for some hedge fund manager’s fuck-up, especially since I am not at all convinced that this wasn’t the plan from the start, i.e. to gamble, and if profits are realized, well, good for the banks, and if they screw up, the people will bail them out.

Thus I find myself in this weird position defending the EU. And I am doing it, not because the EU needs saving, but because I think this pamphlet is such a blatant attempt at manipulation that I am offended by it. If England decides to leave, fine, but they should decide on the basis of facts, not “facts”. I don’t really have a horse in this race in the sense that I am already a resident and probably my rights will not be taken away, so on one hand, I could actually profit from less competition. On the other hand, travel would be more difficult, and England would falter financially.  And that would suck for my standard too.

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About nationalism

Recently, I came across posts on Facebook, claiming that politicians are importing refugees and migrants into their countries in order to get their votes. Since this is exactly what I proposed about six months ago I don’t have an issue with it, although I do not think it is happening, at least not in Slovenia. This was, however, not what I wanted to focus on today. I find the attitudes expressed in the comments sections interesting, not because of what they say, but because of what they assume.

The conversation in the comments sooner or later turns towards the ineptitude of the nominally left, but actually fairly conservative Slovene government.

Someone want to challenge my claim about the leanings of the current ruling party and claim they are left wing? Well, what are the prime minister’s positions towards abortion? (He is against it). Towards same sex marriage (he is not officially pro or contra, but the ruling party invested exactly zero effort into the recent referendum campaign). What is his position towards migrants? (Officially not having a problem with it, but building razor wire fencing around Slovenia at the same time). What is his position towards workers rights and benefits? (Austerity measures are the thing. No wages increases, no Universal Pay, etc). What is his position towards religion? (A practicing Catholic). Not incredibly left wing, don’t you agree?

Anyways. The conversation turns towards ineptitude of the Slovene government and how they pander to the members of former sister republics of SFRJ. The arguments given are that the lefties keep offering jobs to migrants in order to secure votes. And the proof? Well go to a governmental agency and see that “most” surnames hint at individuals being from former Yugoslav republics. The fun thing is that people do not assume at all that aptitude might have something to do with it. Now I am not saying that merit always plays a pivotal role in employment in Slovenia, but the fun thing is the deflection, still. The posters do not even entertain the idea that (a) they might be crap at the specific job and that the person filling might actually be quite good at it, and (b) they seem to assume that there are “genuine” natives here, who are interested in doing a specific job. This seems to also be happening in England – there are cases of people I know, who really would like to offer a job to a native English person, but when they advertise, people who apply are either not English, or are English, but do not want to do the job that was advertised (In this case, the guy is a farmer and he advertised for a farm hand. The only native English person who applied told the farmer that he did not drive a tractor and was not prepared to learn).

So, the defeatist attitude is hidden in our collective psyche. No Slovene native wants to be a garbage collector, but if the job is filled by a Bosnian man, that means that “they come over here and steal our jobs“. It is a job that nobody wanted, for God’s sake. I suppose you would be more content if no one collected garbage just as long as the bloody foreigners don’t make a living?

Then there is an idea of separating the ability to work from the ability to be politically active. The neoliberals would prefer this. Why? Seriously, what could possibly be the rationale in allowing someone to create a life somewhere, work and pay taxes and be a productive member of society, but when it comes to making actual decisions, they are treated like underage children? The irony is that England is somewhat similar in this respect. I am a resident, my primary domicile is in England and I am allowed to vote in local, but not general elections. I actually get a voting slip, but they do not allow me to vote (in general elections). This is bizzare. When I asked the nice lady at the polling place why this is the case, she told me that I am not a citizen and therefore I have no say in who gets voted into the parliament. When I asked her whether she did not find it problematic that me and people like me could vote in the local elections, she said that that is absolutely fine. I then asked why she did not worry about us subverting the system from the ground up – i.e. let’s say, we all vote labour. Therefore Cambridge gets a strong labour based city council and a labourist mayor, therefore labour policies get enacted unopposed, therefore the rest of England has a chance to compare the relative success of two opposing sides of governance. Therefore, they get a chance to vote for what works best in the general election. People like me, and me thus influence general elections whether the Brits like it or not. So why does she not find this problematic? And she said that we should have a say, after all we live and contribute here. My point exactly. And we started going in circles. Why do it halfway? Prevent me from voting altogether and be branded nationalist or allow me to vote.

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Posted in ENG, Politika | Leave a comment

The resurrection of bigotry; and naiveté of the left wing

This is a Home Guard (Slovene nazi collaborators) recruitment poster image, that is now being shared on facebook. The OP says: "For the cultural purposes and art performance".

This is a Home Guard (Slovene nazi collaborators) recruitment poster image, that is now being shared on Facebook to gain support for anti-immigration movement. The OP says: “For the cultural purposes and art performance”. The original post is not as blurry as this one, but I will not enable these people.

I have been thinking about this for a while now. I keep getting exposed to vile facebook posts from sad specimens of human race, who try to disguise their smallness behind ideology and in the same breath try to convince me that I am blinded by my own beliefs. Well, at least I am honest to myself and others about my beliefs. I do not pretend to be something in order to achieve something else.

I feel sullied when I see posts that attempt to revive Slovene Home Guard (nazi collaborators) imagery in order to serve some petty gain.

There is a “big” issue in Slovenia with Syrian refugees and there are demonstrations where people are sporting placards with nazi emblems. The government does nothing, but I, sadly, didn’t expect them to. There is too much deer-in-headlights attitude for comfort, but hey, I suppose keeping your cushy job and putting your cronies on boards of companies has to take priority. The argument that crony capitalism is what the left is always doing in Slovenia is kinda broken, mostly because the ruling party is not actually left wing when we see their attitudes to issues that usually determine political polarity (i.e. stance on abortion, LGBT, religion, unions, working conditions, austerity measures etc). This is not the point of my post, though.

The background is that the plagiarist [SLO link], semi-fresh out of prison, would like to get some power back and thus uses base instincts to incite unrest. Refugees are an issue that he picked – he is, of course, cloaking it as loyalism to Slovenia and its citizens. He gets his flunkies to post stories about how refugees are getting 800+ EUR per month each (here [in Slovene]) which is more than the average monthly pension in Slovenia. This amount comes from some plucked-out-of-thin-air maths – the Slovene minister of finance says that each officially recognized refugee in Slovenia costs 10,000 EUR per year (transcript of the salient session of Slovene Parliament. [In Slovene]), which was then divided by 12 into a monthly sum by the flunkies, not taking into account accommodation costs, infrastructure costs, costs imposed on the police, military, health system, schools etc. In reality, officially recognised asylum seekers get 18 EUR per month allowance and there is less than 10 of them from Syria (90 has asked for asylum in 2015). The migrants get nothing. Surely, we are human enough to not worry about people who lost everything, getting no stipend, although they might get a hot meal from us every once in a while.

The general population, being squeezed and rapidly finding itself below the poverty line is incensed. They feel screwed (which they are, but not because of the migrant issue) and blame the refugees, not the politicians who got them there. They organise protests and basically turn to neo-nazi ideology, rationalising their choices by pretending to care about others, or pretending that being a human being is somehow opt-in (“Anybody who wants to pay for them can, but leave me out of it. I’ll help when I decide, not when there is a need” Copious examples here, for example. Not for the faint of heart. [In Slovenian]).

The sad part is that this is supported by some of the so called Slovene neo-liberals. Why do I say so-called? Well, because the refugees and asylum seekers are mostly supported by cash injections from the EU and UNHCR. Which means that the money is coming from the outside and through refugees gets injected into the local economy. Why is it then that the neo-liberals oppose getting money into the market and allowing said market greater freedom of movement; and higher levels of enterprise? Surely it is better for economic cycle to run, than stall? It costs the Slovene taxpayers nothing and even in the myopic libertarian prism of taking care of oneself and screw everybody else, this is a net positive. Simply put, if you lose nothing and increase turn-around in the markets, which could benefit you in the long run, why not support this?

Because this is not about being a libertarian. This is about having a grudge, and about blindness framed as libertarianism. This is kinda sad. I violently disagree with ideas some of my Facebook “friends” are spewing, but at least, up to this point, I believed that they themselves believed their own ideology. While I disagreed, I was willing to accept that opinions differ and respect, to a certain extent, our differences. Now, since I see that they don’t even believe in their own bullshit, only abuse it to rationalise their own smallness, it is kinda pointless. It is, basically, not worth my time to argue with a person who is so fundamentally flawed that they either (a) know that they are just grasping at anything that lets them keep their bigoted preconceptions and still let them sleep at night or (b) have managed to convince themselves that they actually do follow an ideology and not even realise that they are spitting in its face.

I fully expect a barrage of ad hominem manure landing on me as a result of this post. God knows I have been name called and insulted before. I understand how much easier it is to simply become abusive to someone you have no interest of actually debating. I have been told before that I have my head stuck in my ass, been called reddie or commie before. I have been told that I am haughty and superior when I point out the flaws of an argument. I have been patronised, been told that I should let real men who are in the know talk and not spew my uninformed bullshit on their walls. I have been told that I am dragging arguments out of my ass and when I provided references to my claims and asked for theirs, I have been told that I am abusing my access to knowledge and should not be so elitist. Honestly, why do I bother with these assholes? In this case, I will probably be also told that I know nothing about libertarianism and that I should get out of my Ivory Tower and into the real world before I make a fool out of myself.

This is what it comes to, again and again. The division is not, fundamentally, between left or right wing politics. It is about framing the world. There are those of us who reject the concept of extreme individualism and social isolation as the only way a person may live. I am not about to analyse people who believe in that. I am sure that they have their reasons and their traumas resulting in this outlook. What I will say is that I think (supported by empirical fact) that this is not the only viewpoint one may have and that widening one’s horizons may be beneficial. What I am saying is that those who believe that the world is a cold place that only rewards solo effort and screw the rest are depriving themselves of a whole host of experiences that are out there. Our conflict rests in the fact that I understand that there are those who believe that the only measure of achievement is dependent on egotism, but disagree with that viewpoint; and they do not seem to understand that their premise is not the only one there is. So, conversation is difficult. Especially when these people resort to name calling and telling me how blinded I am to the only gospel truth. It is not that I refuse to see it, I refuse to accept it as the only true path to enlightenment. From my perspective these people are blinded by building on false premises. In the end this becomes the lowest form of a religious debate. “This is the truth, a man is a wolf to another man!,” they say. And I say: “I disagree.” To which the response is, more often than not, a putdown. It is frustrating and unnecessary. In my experience people often stop talking not because they are convinced, but because they find it difficult to excuse spending time on an unproductive debate. Only a fool walks from such a conversation thinking that they won, because the other has stopped arguing.

Whenever there is an argument with libertarians because of some racist, homophobic or misogynistic crap that they vomit, the final argument usually is that we, lefties, should just grow a pair and not be so thin skinned. This actually upsets me more than the previous offensive remarks. I so want to say: “You think I am upset? You haven’t actually seen me upset.” The argument that it is all a bit of fun when someone proposes that the red garbage like me should be taken to the woods and shot, or that every muslim is a terrorist, or that women who seek artificial insemination just haven’t been screwed properly by a real man, is insulting to my intelligence. Sure, the real problem here is me, because I cannot take a joke.

The other misguided idea is that there should be balance and that everybody should have their say in order to weigh arguments. There are any number of rebuttals for this, for example John Oliver: Debate on Climate Change. But we as more left leaning individuals are supposed to entertain bullshit, because this leads to openness and inclusivity. This is a total fallacy. I would listen to arguments against my position if they were not absolutely insane and completely unsupported. “No, no, let the other side speak.Why? There is nothing to be gained by listening to a rabid chinchilla masquerading as a human being. Why would I even entertain someone who is not interested in discussion but only in a platform enabling them to vomit their bigotry on others? The point of discussion is to exchange views based on reality not in using others to provide you with a soapbox giving legitimacy to your irrational ramblings.

The favourite argument of rabid fanatics here is that by doing this the commies show their true intolerant colours. Only now? I don’t pretend to speak for society at large, but as far as I am concerned, I have indulged your petty self-pity that is not based in reality for long enough. Prove to me that you are worth listening to, first. My time is far too precious to indulge in some pathetic bullshit wrapped in the cellophane of reasonableness in order to feed the goal of inclusiveness. In the words of Robin Williams, quoting Oliver Sacks: “I am sorry. I would agree with you, if you were right.” This poisoning of the common well has gone long enough. And I will happily agree in advance with those who tell me that I am intolerant of bullshit and that I am too egotistic because I value myself too much to be at the disposal of those whose only plan is to use and discard me.

Note. In case you were wondering, the original images on this page are not blurred, but I do not want help the cause of neo-nazis.

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Posted in SLO | Leave a comment

About stealing articles and free knowledge

sci-hub.blogThere was recently an article about a Russian researcher running an article hub, here. In a nutshell, they made most of the world’s scanned journal articles available online, free of charge. I say ‘made’, because while the site is still live, most of the content is not accessible, people report.

I’ve first heard of it in 2012 when I got cc-ed into a conversation between a librarian and an academic at a particular University. I created a virtual machine. Why a virtual machine? Because if I was building a zombie PC army, I would absolutely run exploit scripts on a site like that and also add malicious code to any PDF’s I was serving. This would also stenghten my network – a student downloads a PDF of an article not available to them, unbenkonwst to them allows me to install a rootkit, harvest their username and password and use their University electronic resources to augment those on my site. In that way, as long as people use my service, I get an endless stream of usernames and passwords to hundreds of world’s universities online libraries. BTW, the smart thing would be to serve something that is not available to well-endowed research Universities – one username from OxBridge and you are pretty much done as far as subscriptions are concerned. This is also the reason why I never saw the need to go sci-hub for articles – I have most of them here. In any case, out of curiosity, I created a virtual machine and visited the site.

I played around with the site and managed to download several articles that I already possessed off it. I then rolled back the virtual machine and deleted all changes. But the hub seemed to work quite well then. If not necessarily actually free of charge.

Be that as it may, the sci-hub founder (S-HF for short) got sued and this sparkled a debate. Should knowledge be freely available? I don’t think this is the real issue here, although I understand how the S-HF would benefit from pushing this. After all if this turns from a case of theft into a case of morals, they can only win, right? Who would support faceless publishers against impoverished academics? Like I said, I don’t think this is the issue, anyway.

I think this is property theft, pure and simple. I think we, the academics, are enabling the publishers and helping them run their racket. But it is our fault that we let them do it, not the publishers fault for following the law. I know this is hard to hear. Academics and PhD Students know how this works: We sign away most material rights to our article in the contract we make with the publisher. They pay us nothing and we take it, because … because Impact Factor and publication record and future employability. Let’s not kid ourselves. We whore ourselves out so that we keep our jobs. We still choose our clients and acts we would like to perform, we have lots of freedom, it is not like it is all bad. But we sign away our articles to a faceless corporation and it owns them. They own our articles, and we do not. And they are free to sell them or give them away, whatever they see fit. We are talking about their property. And it is our fault, that they got it. We cannot pretend we didn’t know that this is how it works.

Saying “duuh… knowledge should be free, therefore I am empowered to steal some private property” does not really fly. If we wanted knowledge to be free, we as academics, collectively, would (a) stop publishing in journals behind paywall or (b) at the very least not publish in journals that do not allow a personal copy/pre-print of the article to be stored on our websites or repositories. There are very few journals that allow neither (a) nor (b). So, the real statement one could make is: “Knowledge should be free. That is why my articles are also freely available and that is why my datafiles are public.” Of course this leave the S-HF out to dry, but I don’t mind that. There are (1) academics who do not want their knowledge to be free and that is fine. There are those of us (2) who make sure that our work is available for free, but at the same time published in journals which improves our employability. And there are those (3) who do not want to publish behind paywall, ever. The S-HF might be in one of these groups or not, it does not matter. Because in any case they are not speaking for any of the three groups. Who the hell do you think you are that you should decide wether my work has financial value and whether I should be paid for it or not? I’ll decide that, for my work and my work only.

On the other hand, all academics get paid for printouts and photocopies of our work. There are governmental agencies keeping tabs. This is not an enormous amount of money, but it could be a few hundred pounds per year. So, a dissatisfied researcher from Russia, who does not want to invest time into contacting authors and asking them for their articles, rather decides that they will directly defraud the people they admire enough to cite them and in the same breath tell them, that they conning them out of their pennies because this is the moral thing to do? Good luck with that defence. And just to be clear – I have never ever been unsuccessful in getting an article from an author that I contacted personally. And among them were PhD students, professors, lecturers and Nobel Laureates. None of them were ever unfriendly or unhelpful. Likewise, I have never not sent out either articles or download links for my stuff when I was asked. Being too lazy or insecure to ask does not indemnify ones criminal activity. So there are ways of getting stuff for free, while not actually breaking the law.

On yet another hand, most of the Universities in the world have accepted this racket and they pay through the nose for subscriptions. Many millions of pounds per year. By illegally downloading from them, you cannot actually say “knowledge should be free therefore I am taking it,” but rather “Somebody else should pay for my access to knowledge, so that I don’t have to.” Universities essentially pay for subscriptions because this improves them – they conduct better research, have more impact, attract better students and academics, which leads to better research, higher impact, etc. I am certain Universities are not ecstatic for paying millions of pounds per year for subscriptions. But they do it. And stealing from them does not make one Robin Hood, it just makes them lazy.

The take-away messages:
(a) If I was a blackhat hacker, I would exploit portals like science hub in a heartbeat. If I was working for computing service of a university I would do all kinds of inventive shit to illicit downloaders too. My proposals have so far been rejected by the Cambridge University Computing Service, but I am working on that (my time will come mostly because what they are doing now does not work).
(b) Knowledge can in fact be free, but not by stealing it after it was sold into slavery. Before that.
(c) Everything can already be gotten for free, if you apply yourself.

[replaced malicious code]

Posted in ENG, Izobraževanje, science, work | Leave a comment

After Paris

I actually wrote this some weeks ago. But it is still topical. D

I keep seeing posts on the Internet about how it isn’t good that the person or person(s) responsible for the Paris attacks had their passport stamped in Greece. This supposedly means that we are letting terrorists through our borders (well, doh) and by extension there is a growing belief that this may lead people to equate refugees and terrorists. To a certain extent, this is already happening with people quoting Dawkins about how life would be so much better without religion.

The issue is not religion. One can always find excuses for doing something. If there wasn’t religion, it would have been something else. Deity knows that we always find rationalisations. If there wasn’t religion, there would be other stuff, like sexual orientation, dress code, colour of skin, geographical location or the football club one supports. The point is that looking for a simple answer to a complex question leads to stupid, not the right, answers.

Who cares what the reason was? Will people be less dead if there was a reason? Who will decide what is a rational reason and an acceptable one? What if the reason is a culture that cheerfully sells weapons to anyone that would buy them? What if the reason is us, supporting governments who feel no obligation to abstain from using other countries as giant petri dishes for social experiments? What if people we vote for don’t even think about these things, because they were told how to act and react by those who buy their votes for them?

It is fairly easy to blame religion, because it is very comfortable to do so. It requires no introspection and nothing needs to change for us.

Then, there is the next step – terrorists are religious -> they came with the refugees -> terrorists and refugees are religious -> religion equals terrorism -> refugees are all terrorists.

OK. If refugees were all fanatics then there would be no need for them to leave their homes in the first place. Some rudimentary logic should tell us that. Let’s not insult intelligence by suggesting that it is easy or somehow desirable to leave your home, your friends and social networks in order to live like cattle in tents. Let’s not pretend that telling your kids that they will not be going to the same primary school or nursery as their friends and possibly their parents have, anymore, is something one does light-heartedly. Most people love their children and most will do their outmost to keep them from harm. So, why exactly would these people run with barely more than the shirts on their backs towards an uncertain future from an army that essentially shares their beliefs? Did I hear someone say that there are nuances in any religious practice? Well, hello Sherlock. Why the fuck do you think it is any of your business if someone wants to kneel on a carpet five times a day, while they essentially believe the same things that you do (goodwill and peace to all men, help the needy, support and respect one another, etc), and meaningfully contribute to the society they live in?

Are we clear on why, most of us do not agree to be moulded in a certain image by others who never question that image? Because we have a working neuron or two in our skulls. There is absolutely no doubt that all of us have or will allow someone to imprint how things should be and how we should act. The thing is that experience teaches that blindly following someone else’s ideals may lead to disappointment. Ours, that is. I am not even talking about religion, to be clear. I am not even talking about how wrong someone else is. I am sure people derive utility from their beliefs and this may work for many of them. It just doesn’t for me. So, there is no need to judge, when behaviour of others has no large impact on ours. A little tolerance helps there. I know some people who find Mosques to be a blight on the landscape and they do not want to be hearing Muezzins calling the faithful to a prayer. Well, I personally don’t want to hear the bloody church bells tolling on Sunday morning calling all faithfull to mass. It bugs me and does not let me sleep. But I grit my teeth and let people go about their business, because I live in society and it takes all kinds. I also fervently hope that those who impose on me with church bells will find it in their hearts to forgive those who pray to Mecca in the privacy of their own homes or in the building where this practice is meant to be carried out.

So, we have established that there are different levels of religious fervour. If nothing else, that probably means:
terrorists and refugees =/= religious (in the same way or to the same extent).

From there it shouldn’t be hard to postulate: all (terrorists) =/= all (refugees)

There are some individuals who are willing to abuse the willingness of others to alleviate human suffering? Well, doh. This practice is old as dirt. Same thing happens in fake charity appeals and many other types of fraud. The takeaway message is not to stop being human, because someone is trying to make us pay for it. My personal opinion is that we should continue to help, but be aware of the costs. Contradictory to what seems the majority opinion, I do not believe it is feasible or indeed possible to prevent all of anything (be it ice cream melting, or skipping classes, or terrorist attacks). One can however lower the occurence rates. There are, of course, several ways to do this. One of them, that I like, is to give people plenty of facts and help them decide. But who could do that? Funny you should ask. If only there was some process where all members of a country would get a chance to express whom they trusted and asked them to look after their best interests. This fictional person would then have to think about how to best serve all persons living in a specific geographic location. One of their roles would include *thinking really hard* about hard stuff like could it be that there are some people who want to abuse goodwill of others? And, what happens if these people would attempt to use my people’s willingness to help? Hopefully the conclusion might be that, this person working for all the cities in a given geographical location or “politician” to coin a term, would need to speak to their citizens and explain what the consequences are. Now if this “politician” did not have the mental capacity to foresee that something that has been going on for at least 500 years (we have hard proof of that) might occur again, they are not mentally equipped to wipe their own bottom, much less rule over citizens. If they did not think about it, because they were thinking about how to get to the next pay-check and payoff from a friend from the industry, then they abuse the mandate given by the people and don’t deserve our trust.

One question is when. When does a politician tell the people that there might be hidden costs. Should they wait for costs to be incurred, and then say: “Ah, well… we thought people might die. We just didn’t tell you.” Probably not. Should they do it before? I think so. But then the question is what to say. If one says: “… There is a chance that some extremists might slot in with the refugees and commit atrocities in a large European city”, then they have just insured is that at least some terrorists are going: “AHA! That is actually not a bad idea…”. So, what should be said? A politician would have to go on air and say: “You trust me to decide on this and I will. I want to help these people. Let me tell you why I decided this – Helping those who are in need of help is what makes us human. Being kind is its own lasting reward, so it was a no brainer. However, I am also aware that there are always those attempt to abuse the goodwill of others. So to me, the question is whether the risk outweighs the cost. What do you think we should do?” The alternative is to say exactly the same things but the last sentence which is then replaced by: “You decided to trust me to make those decisions for all of us, so I will. We will help,
because. Just because. If someone takes advantage of that, well, we’ll deal with them, but we won’t stop believing that helping those in need is the right thing to do.”


[replaced malicious code]

Posted in ENG, Politika, work | Leave a comment

The human condition

maxresdefaultI wrote this on a trans-Atlantic flight several years ago. I just came across it and thought I’d put it here. DM

I am on this flight to L.A. and it is taking a while. 10.000 mile flights do.  A girl is sitting next to me. She is asleep. She was sort of scrounched on her seat and couldn’t help but lean on me a bit. This is natural, and to tell you the truth, quite nice. It makes me feel good for providing a small measure of comfort. I would tell her that she is welcome to lean on me, but that is of course not the done thing. From this, perhaps nice although impersonal guy sitting next to her, I would possibly turn (in her eyes) into a… I don’t know what I would turn into, but there is a huge chance that the rest of the flight might go down awkwardly if I showed any kind of kindness. I mean, she used a wet wipe to clear her table before she put her lunch tray on it. I don’t think she would appreciate a permanent contact with a stranger who has not been wiped down with a wet towellete, and who would possibly take offence is she tried to wipe him clean, before leaning on him.

No, this is the safe route. Pretend that our bodies are not touching and studiously ignore each other. What could be more natural than that? Somebody invades your personal space as you do theirs, for twelve hours, and the convention is that you pretend that what is happening, actually isn’t. And nothing actually is happening, just two people sitting next to each other, who might get to know each other or not. I do not know anything about this girl – I’ll call her Shrestha, for she seems Indian (or possibly Pakistani or Egyptian, I am not too good with geographical placement according to skin color) and I had an Indian primary school friend whose name was Shrestha.

I don’t know about Shrestha, but I have places to go and people to see and in a way if she does not provide any sort of useful info to satisfy my curiosity, then, I’ll just assume she has stuff to do too and make up what it is. I have to spend about seven more hours with her, after all. I assume three possible scenarios –

(a) She wants to make it big in the film industry and is following her dreams. That makes sense only in a jaded romantic way, and if she is Indian, then Bollywood is much closer and also she might only need to screw Indian people to get parts, whereas in L.A. … Also, possibly, the competition is greater in L.A. I don’t know. … I think this is possibly not the reason for her flight.

(b) She could be a student, although, I would assume not post-grad. I would say Shrestha is in her early to mid twenties, so I guess a post-grad is possible but only barely. Attending UCLA? Kinda doubt it – humanities seem more her style. Her hands are painted, she reads lifestyle magazines. The kind about celebrities.

(c) She is going on a trip of a lifetime, just travelling around, seeing the world. That is feasible. But then, I wonder, is there a love story underneath? Is there a white boy she met in a little village where she is from and spent an unforgettable fortnight with him under the Indian sun? And then the boy who is a son of a senator needed to fly back to his parents, his career and his aristo white WASP girlfriend, whom Shrestha knows nothing about; leaving her behind. And did she write to him, and did he reply? Or did he sort of assume that what happens in Bangalore, stays in Bangalore? Did he tell her one hot spring night that she should come to L.A. and be with him forever? Did he mean it, or just thought that he will get lucky again that evening if he said the right words? I know the bogus stuff I said to summer romance girls, so this is not out of the question. So many unknowns. Did he tell her that she should come and she believed him? Is she flying in blind or does he know she is coming? Will he be there at the airport? I’ll see. I kinda assume we’ll get lost in the shuffle once we land, but I’ll keep a lookout. You see, my problem is that I am a romantic at heart. But, for a great romance you also need a twist, an unwilling protagonist. Otherwise the three sentence structure (i.e. Romeo and Juliet  – Boy meets girls. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl.), just becomes one sentence story. Boy gets girl. There is no drama there.

So, I am assuming that Shrestha is not pedestrian, she is not run of the mill. She deserves drama. She is Herencia (the movie) kind of girl. If I have to hazard a guess, which I think I very probably will have to do, then I would say that the boy will not be at the airport. He possibly didn’t tell Shrestha his contact details, so she is coming to L.A., a geographic area the size of a small European country, with 10 million inhabitants to find him. Perhaps he attends UCLA? I would think, though, that at the moment it is the Summer break? I don’t know enough about U.S. academia, can’t be bothered to find out and have no Internet access. I am on a plane, remember? Shrestha is sitting next to me.

So, while it gives me no pleasure to say this, I think, that things will not go according to plan – Shrestha will grab a cab or whatever to the campus, she will find Otis (let’s call him Otis), who will no doubt be surprised, but possibly not ecstatic to see her. She will not be able to sleep in his dorm, he will strenously advise her not to sleep in his frat house, because he saw a couple of brothers checking her out, when they went for a coffee (anything to get her out of the room). And, while Otis might be many things, he is not a pimp yet. So Shrestha is out on her own. It is evening and as Tom Waits says, there is nothing that Hollywood loves more than the taste of sweet little dreams and pretty blue wishes.

I mean what the hell? What is going on inside our minds? We are just little creatures industriously crawling from one continent to another and back. In my case, I am spending 24 hours on the planes in the next three freaking days. We spend inordinate amounts of time simply passing each other by. We are all shy, all herd creatures, who would mostly prefer not to spend time in a herd, although we would be sad and alone if we were isolated.

Shrestha is now elbow-touching me. She is still asleep. Sweet dreams.


I have covertly read the imigration card Shrestha was filling out – she is 25 years old, she lives in India and her name is not Shrestha. I was still slightly on the money, though 🙂


Virgin Atlantic flight VS007, 1st of June, 2013.

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The Restoration of Sector STE200 part 2

The Restoration of Sector STE200 part 2

This post has moved to a new, dedicated, watch blog.

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Waterproofing replicas part 2

Waterproofing replicas part 2

This post has moved to a new, dedicated watch blog.

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Waterproofing replicas part 1

Waterproofing replicas part 1

This post has moved to a new, dedicated watch blog.

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The Restoration of Sector STE200 part 1

The Restoration of Sector STE200 part 1

This post has moved to a new dedicated watch blog.

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About academic fraud


Image downloaded from Keble College Oxford’s web-page

I have done a presentation for a web-security firm in 2011. The presentation is here, and it is live, my voice and picture included. I talked to a crowded room. I was nervous but it went fine.

Recently, I needed to find a reference about Steve McQueen using the word scam for the first time. There was an interview, it was published in Time Magazine in 1963, but I couldn’t recall who the author of the article was. So I googled Steve McQueen and scam and Time Magazine. There was a hit and the wording seemed familiar. So I clicked on this link. If the link is removed, as I suppose it will be, after this becomes public, here is a screenshot of the page and here is the locally stored pdf (fun starts at third slide).

Interesting, right? Amon even took the pictures from my presentation, not only the text. I would be interested to know what the Royal Holloway has to say. I shall contact them later and post their reply here. If we ignore the first two slides, the only thing Amon did, was replace my name with his and changed the background. Not bad, right? Certainly much easier than going to the trouble of researching this.

Let’s look into Amon Sanniez, the plagiarist. Here is his linked-in page. It seems that years of expertise in security and in ownership (heh) have landed him a job a company that does pest control. He used to work for security firms and has lots of qualifications, but not much academic clout (a BSc was the end of the road). He does list my presentation as his publication on linked-in. Here is his blog. The subset of the things he writes about is in my field of expertise and he is not completely on the ball there. The things he writes about there are presented with a simplistic point of view and they are often bounded by a lack of knowledge of the field.

The biggest irony is that Amon replicated my presentation but I now know where I was mistaken and he does not. Several of the things I say are just plainly not true now, and were problematic then, but we (the real scientific community) didn’t know it at the time.

Oh well, best of luck with your future prospects Amon, I am not too bothered about you stealing my work, because I moved forward since, and you, well, not so much.

Note: this is what I sent to the Royal Holloway:


Name is dr. David Modic, I am a research associate at the Security Group, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. I apologize for simply contacting you out of the blue, but I think you should be aware of the following:

In June 2011 I gave a talk at BAFTA for the company Websense on the topic of Psychology of Internet Fraud. Here is a link to my talk: https://www.websense.com/assets/webinars/speakup/speakup-live/psychology-of-scams/ (with my photo and audio narration).

Two days ago I was looking for a specific reference and I googled it. I found the reference in a presentation by Amon Sanniez, here: https://www.isg.rhul.ac.uk/dl/weekendconference2011/presentations/Amon-Sanniez–The-Psychology-of-Scams-and-Malware.pdf

When I looked a bit closer, I realized that this was my reference and the whole thing to be a direct copy of my presentation with only my name replaced and the template background changed. The first two slides are not mine, but all the others are, word for word, including the clipart. Feel free to check both links above.

 I looked at the event and it turns out it was held by the Royal Holloway Security Group in September 2011, if I understand correctly. The slides are hosted on the Royal Holloway pages. Your group was of course not to know that Amon Sanniez plagiarised my research and in the grand scheme of things it does not matter much anyway, but I thought you should be aware of this. If you paid anything to the presenters you were also scammed, in a sense. I guess there is irony in talking about fraud by committing academic fraud. I also realize that mr. Sanniez has no affiliation with RHUL.

Anyway, I just thought you should know. I don’t have any expectations about what happens next, it is completely up to you if you want to pursue it in any way. Please note that if I found plagiarized work hosted by Royal Holloway in about 30s  through google, others might too, and that may reflect badly on the RHUL, even though I don’t think any of this is in any way the security group’s or the University’s fault.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Kindest regards,

— David


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Improving the science

Here is a post about how science could be improved. To sum up:


(c) The New Yorker

  • Stop people from hitching themselves up on work of other, junior, researchers (stop ghost or honorific authorship).
  • Rethink REF and implement other measures of academic merit
  • Support replication and move away from positivistic science.

I like this. First of all, I agree that things need to change.

I am worried that it will never happen, though. Or, if it does it may be at the expense of junior research staff – Let’s say that someone is on a grant. The Principal Investigator (PI) for the grant got the money in and is employing them. If the researcher publishes their research and cites the PI as a co-author, what does that mean? Is it an honorific authorship or a ghost one? Even if the PI did nothing much to contribute to the article, should they be removed from the paper? If they did not secure the grant, there would be no salary for the researcher and the research would not happen. So, the PI is instrumental to the research in a very concrete way, even if the data collection, experimental design and write-up was not primarily (or not at all in some cases) done by the PI. I am not talking about myself, to be clear. I have absolutely nothing to complain about in this respect. 

Furthermore, if PI’s are removed from the publications that they enabled but did not invest much work in, that would mean that they would have to do much more research by themselves and not have much time to spend on preparing grants and thus there would be less opportunities for junior researchers to be employed. In the climate where it is hard to get a postdoc as it is, this is nothing to wish for. 

We know how these things work. As a junior researcher the options of securing grants on your own are fairly slim to non-existent as it is now. So, taking away the incentive to be employed by more senior researchers is not a brilliant move. Ah, I hear you say, you only need to be excellent and it all works out. Right? Well (a) at my place of work, everybody is excellent, otherwise we would not be here. So beating the internal selection process is a bitch and your work that receives worldwide recognition would not necessarily secure your future here. And (b) What good is your excellence if the only job you can hold is to be a nightwatchman at Tesco, because there are no grants available? That job does not offer many opportunities for you to showcase your research skills. Or leave you much time to practice them.

In my opinion, the notion that doing research for research sake and not in order to keep holding a job or increasing your viability for grant success is very nice and something to strive for. In the current climate, I think that it is somewhat romantic, though. How do you get the grant giving bodies to stop assessing the grant proposals on the strength of publication counts and Impact Factor (IF)? What would a replacement metric be? How often you appear in the newspapers? We already know from some Dutch research that personal fame is a stronger indicator of getting funds than publication count. That is even worse than trying to estimate merit, even if the current measure is flawed. It just makes you more likely to media whore and also introduces large inequality across applicants. I have been solicited by the BBC a number of times to do stuff with them. And we do collaborate every once in a while. How likely do you think it is that I would have been contacted by the Beeb if I wasn’t working for Cambridge? So, those of us who are in some ways in a privileged position, would really have a leg up on those who do not get those opportunities based on location or (lack of) prestige of the institution.

So, what should we do? Things are broken now, but they function to a certain extent. From a purely economic perspective, we should think about incentives offered to Universities and their senior research staff. Only people who do not work in academia in 1st world countries make the mistake of thinking that University Teaching Officers (UTO) are doing their jobs out of love. Most of us like and enjoy our jobs, make no mistake, but the discrepancies between the industry and academia are already huge. My starting salary in the industry would be about 2-3 times higher than it is in academia. The job security is about the same in both places at least until you are an UTO. After, it is slightly harder to get fired from a University, but you can still manage it if you mess things up sufficiently. So telling senior researchers that their jobs will be less secure (as a consequence of lower performance ratings, which is a consequence of lesser ability to secure grants, which is a consequence of their names being dropped from the grant publications), but that is OK, because they should simply love science, would not be unopposed, in my opinion. Saying that something should be done and proposing these measures without wrapping them in a bullshit sandwich is not a good way to go. If something makes logical sense, it does not mean that it will be accepted. Perhaps this is what scientists should actually learn.

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O družinskem zakoniku

(c) https://rs1img.memecdn.com/amazing_c_2910943.jpgKo grem na Facebook, se srečam z različnimi mnenji o noveli družinskega zakonika. Tisti, ki ne veste, novela družinskega spomenika je bila sprejeta 51:28. Bistvena sprememba je, da so istospolne družine in tradicionalna družina izenačene. Slovenija zdaj pozna samo še družino.

Nasprotniki tej izenačitvi pravijo, da to ni naravno, da bodo geji in lezbijke ukradli naše otroke, da to ni po božji volji. Da se bodo Slovenci od zdaj naprej poročali z živalmi in da bodo lahko imeli po več žena in da se bodo bratje lahko poročali s sestrami. In tako naprej.

Pri vsem tem mi je nekaj všeč. Všeč mi je da to spomni da teorija zavesti (theory of mind) še deluje! Včasih se ujamem pri prepričanju, da vsi mislijo tako kot jaz. In potem preberem komentarje na Facebooku in vidim, da smo še vedno različni. Super.

Argumenti nasprotnikov zakona me sicer ne prepričajo iz več razlogov. Še najbolj ker so zvečine butasti (argumenti, ne pozamezniki, ki jih reproducirajo), ampak ne bi zdej modroval. No mičken vseeno bom.

Mene istospolne družine ne motijo.

(a) Če bi oba s Kim umrla in bi z nama šla tudi širša družina, verjetno itak ne bi imel kaj dosti besede pri tem kdo bo skrbel za mojega otroka (predvsem, ker bi bil mrtev). Bi pa stokrat raje videl, da moj otrok odrašča v ljubečem družinskem okolju kot pa v kakem vzgojnem zavodu. Katerakoli družina, kjer si otroka res želijo in zanj ne skrbijo samo zaradi rente mi je bolj všeč. Tko da fantaziranje o tem, kako bi urejal življenje svojega otroka še iz groba verjetno ne bi obrodilo sadov, moje preference pa so jasne (ljubeča družina, sestavljena iz poljubne mešanice spolov: JA, vzgojni zavod: NE).

(b) Moja moškost ni načeta s tem, da si kakšne ženske tud ne želijo met otrok z mano ampak na primer s kom drugim, recimo z drugo žensko (lohk tut moškim, da ne bo pomote. Da ne bo zgledal kot da mislim, da je edini razlog zakaj me ne ljubijo vse ženske na tem svetu lahko samo to, da so lezbijke).

(c) Poznam take in drugačne heteroseksualce. Poznam tudi takšne in drugačne homoseksualce. Menim, da osebnost ni vrednostno zaznamovana s spolno usmerjenostjo. Če malo karikiram, recimo, da dva geja posvojita sinčka. Je to, da ima sine kasneje izostren okus za notranje oblikovanje res tako zavržno? Kot pravim, poznam idiote, ki so geji in idiote, ki so ravni. Verjetno mi ni treba posebej ilustrirat kaki zagovedneži so lahko strejti. Dovolj je verjetno če pregledamo komentarje o dotičnem zakoniku. Kar se tiče gejev… Par let nazaj s Kim stojiva v intersparu, kjer čakava, da nama bojo stehtal zelenjavo. Pred nama dva tipa (recimo jima A in B), v jeansu, srednjih let, ravno tako čakata v vrsti.

A: Joj, Bjči a sva morala sem v Šparčija? FULLL majo slabšo zelenjavo tuki.

B: Bova že potrpela.

A: Ampak Bjči, v Merkiču vedno vse dobiva, pa tut veš kooolk stresno mi je it v drugo trgovino, ker pol nič ne najdem.

B: Zdaj sva tukaj, kupiva pa pejva.

A: Ampak, glej te jabke, sam poglej jih, to je vse gnilo. Pa v Merkiču nikol ne čakava ampak sama stehtava.

B (mu je mal nerodno).

David (se zahahljam). A se obrne proti meni.

A: Kaj pa je tako smešno?

D:  Mal mi je smešno ker pač niste šli v Merkator, če vam tukaj tolk ne ustreza.

A: A se norčuješ iz mene?! A se mi posmehuješ? A?!!

D: Čisto malo se vam smejem ja. Ker se mi ni zdi vredno bit tolk razburjen.

B: Nehi, A, no.

A: Ne bom nehal! A vidiš tole? A vidiš? (Kriči, proti meni moli bedž v obliki rožnatega trikotnika, ki ga ima na džekiju).

D: Vidim, ja.


D: Rožnate?


D: Da mislite, da se vam ne smemo smejat, ko ste smešni, zato ker ste gej?

B se začne smejat. A se užaljeno obrne stran in v tišini čakamo, da nam bojo stehtal zelenjavo.

(d) Vsi, vsaj tisti, ki smo iz foha, vemo kako neskončno lahko je izgubit otroka. V tem pogledu, ko gre zame in moje bi se boril proti temu ne-glede na to, kdo naj bi ga dobil. Kdo je prejemnik je v tem primeru zame čisto brezpredmetno. No pa saj zakon nič od tega ne določa. Otroka je enako lahko izgubiti kot prej.

Anekdotičen resničen primer: Psihoterapevtska skupina nekje na psihiatriji. Sam sem opazovalec. Skupino vodita dva terapevta (namenoma ne opredeljujem spola). Ravno smo sprejeli gospoda srednjih let, ločenega, ne najbolj bistrega, ki ima šest let staro hčerko. Čez vikende je hčerka pri njem, čez teden pri mami. Nekako po pol ure gre pogovor nekako takole.

Terapevt A: A vi imate radi svojo hčerko?
Pacient: Ja, najraje na svetu jo imam. Ona je edino kar še imam. (joka)
T: A pa ji kdaj poveste da jo imate radi?
P: Ja, kar naprej. Včasih ji prinesem rožice v šolo med tednom.
T: A pa jo kdaj tudi objamete?
P: Seveda.
T: Tudi ko sta sama?
P: Ja.
T: A pa ji date kdaj lupčka?
P: Ja. Velikokrat. Veste ona je tko lepa in pametna.
T: Kaj pa ona pravi, ko ji date lupčka?
P: Nerodno ji je. Pa reče: Oči, dej nehi, no.
T: Pa takrat nehate?
P: Ne, sej ji je sam nerodno, sej nič ne misli s tem.
T: Aha, otrok vas prosi, da ga pustite pri miru, vi pa ga še kar naprej poljubljate?
P: Sej ni to nič takega. Samo rad jo imam.
T: Pa kdaj prespi hčerka pri vas?
P: Ja seveda, med vikendi.
T: Ali ima svojo sobo pri vas?
P: Ne, veste nimam denarja. Ko kaj zaslužim, gre za preživnino, pa za hrano. Samo garsoniero imam v najemu.
T: Aha torej spita v isti postelji?
P: Ja. Jaz sem s kmetov, tudi mi smo po štirje spali v isti postelji in včasih sta nam ata pa mama pustila da spimo pri njiju. To je blo fino.
T: Torej pravite, da sta skupaj brez nadzora, spita v isti postelji in če vam reče da jo nehate poljubljat, vi ne nehate (pomenljivo pogleda Terapevta B in mene)?
P: Vsak starš je kdaj sam s svojim otrokom. Saj se ima fino z mano. Tako jo imam rad.
Terapevt B zamenja temo.

Po skupini se pogovarjamo. Terapevt A reče:
T A: A sta videla, kako je bil izmuzljiv?
T B: Vem kam napeljujes, samo jaz nimam istega občutka kot ti.
T A: Ne. Tega otroka je treba zaščitit! Takoj moramo poklicat socialno. Meni se zdi, da so indici za zlorabo jasni.
T B: Glej, nobene zgodovine zlorab. Pacient ni dovolj brihten, da bi se delal zabitega. Če bi otroka zlorabljal se ne bi tako inkriminiral.
T A: Pa saj nista normalna. Uboga punčka pa trpi!
T B: Pacient je pri nas na oddelku. Edino otrokovo trpljenje je, ker ne ve zakaj je oči ne pobere čez vikend. Je mama kaj namignila?
T A: Ne, pravi, da je pacient super oče, da ima zelo rad hčerko in da izredno lepo skrbi zanjo. A vidita kako je se svoji bivši ženi opral mozgane? On je psihopat, vama rečem.
T B: Kaj pa če mama govori resnico?
T A: Nemogoče! Saj sta na skupini slisala kako je priznal zlorabo. Zdejle grem klicat socialno.
T B: Jaz sem proti. Kaj pa ti misliš, David?

Jaz mislim, da je treba bit skrajno previden, ko se pogovarjaš s socialnimi delavci/delavkami in podobnimi profili, ker je skrajno lahko naletet na koga, ki si je vbil v glavo, da bo zaščitil otroka pred nadaljnjo škodo, pa naj stane kar hoče. V danem primeru rečem, da se bolj strinjam s terapevtom B, vendar ne bi rad bil v poziciji kjer naj bi odločal, ker sem le gost na tem oddelku. 

Ironija je, da se ta situacija absolutno nič ne spremeni, ne glede na to kakšne so spremembe družinskega zakonika. Če koga skrbi za njegove in tuje otroke, potem bi bil neprimerno bolj efektiven če bi lobiral za bolj uravnoteženo vodenje podobnih primerov, ne glede na to kakšnega spola sta starša. Na primer tako, da so v takih odločitvah udeleženi starši, otroci in sorodniki, zadnja beseda pa je tista strokovnjakov, ki delujejo v več-članski skupini. Otroci do določenega leta ne lažejo. Kasneje morda lažejo, ampak z razlogom. Vse to se da izprašat in to se včasih tudi zgodi. In ne prepuščajo odločitve zunanjemu opazovalcu samo zato, da bi se drugi strani zameril on, ne pa člani komisije. Te odločitve morajo biti tudi obtežene – ja, za otrokovo dobro gre, torej dejmo mal razmišljat o tem kakšne bodo posledice zanj v različnih scenarijih. Zlorabljan otrok verjetno profitira, če je umaknjen iz take situacije. Ne-zlorabljan otrok morda profitira, morda pa močno izgublja. Izgubi ljubeče okolje in morda gre v drugo ljubeče okolje (če ima srečo), vendar še vedno živi jezen in žalosten (morda na starše, ker ga niso obranili pred iztrganjem iz njegove primarne celice. Morda na državo, ki ga je odvzela. Morda na krušne starše, ki jih vidi kot nezadosten surogat pravim staršem). Lahko, da komaj čaka da gre iz primarne družine in nič ne izgublja. Lahko, da komaj čaka, da gre, ker se ne zaveda v kako sranje lahko šele pride. Lahko da biološki starši komaj čakajo, da gre. Lahko, da biološki starši nočejo, da gre, vendar ne vidijo drugih možnosti. Tega se ne odločamo na podlagi ene  skupinske seanse s podpovprečno inteligentnim očetom (njegov IQ je dejstvo, empirično preverjeno). Ne vemo, če ne vprašamo vseh vpletenih. Popreproščanje, da je družina dobra ali slaba glede na njeno biološko sestavo, pa je točno to, popreproščanje.





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Imam to smolo ali pa morda srečo, da sem periodično izpostavljen viharjem v žlici vode na temo cepljenja. Obe strani sta dodobra vkopani. Sam sicer cepim svojega otroka, ker ocenjujem, da je zanjo tveganje dovolj majhno, da se izplača biti pro-socialen in pomagati tistim, ki nimajo izbire. Se pa ponavadi ne spuščam v debate na to temo, ker mislim, da je to bolj stvar vere kot argumentiranja in ne verjamem, da bom lahko verjetje spodkopal z argumentom. Če bi se to dalo, potem bi bili na svetu sami ateisti.
In potem moji znanci in bivši sošolci vsake toliko časa nalepijo kak link (ki ga tu ne bom delil, ker ne verjamem, da je treba norcem posojati megafon samo zato, da bomo na videz vsi enako glasni), ki me malo užalosti. Žalosten sem, ko sploh moram preletet take nebuloze. Saj ne da jih natančno berem, ampak že tisto kar vidim. Ajme. Pa tako rad bi verjel, da je človeška rasa v povprečju razgledana in čuteča.
In potem berem komentarje. Clickbait. In moja bivša sošolca (eden iz osnovne in eden iz srednje šole) se zapleteta v debato. Eden meni, da je izogibanje cepljenju kriminal in nemoralno, drugi meni, da je narobe da nima izbire. Sicer je načeloma morda za cepljenje, ali pa morda proti… v vsakem primeru pa hoče on biti odgovoren za svoje otroke in dokler mu nekdo ne garantira, da je tveganje za njegov rod nično, toliko časa bo proti cepljenju, tko nominativno, na ravni ideje.
Moj komentar v tistem postu:
Močno priporočam v branje: Schneier, B. (2012). Liars and outliers : enabling the trust that society needs to thrive. Indianapolis.: Wiley.
Nekje v knijgi Schneier oriše kako je cepljenje t.i. tragedy of the commons. Za tiste, ki jim ekonomija ni blizu: Tragedija skupnega je pojav, kjer skupina ljudi “čisto malo” izkorišča skupno dobrino, racunajoč na to, da je ostali ne bodo. Temeljni primer je vaški pašnik, kjer lahko 10 kmetov uporablja 2/3 zemljišča 10% časa, 1/3 pa se medtem obnavlja. Pa si reče en kmet: “Če kravo pasem 10% časa na 2/3 in potem se 10% časa na prepovedani tretjini, se ne bo nič hudega zgodilo, saj ima prepovedana tretjina še vedno 90% časa na voljo za obnovo, moja krava pa bo še enkrat bolj rejena kot sosedove.” In potem si isto reče se ostalih 9 kmetov, kar pomeni, da na koncu travnik propade in vsem pocrkajo krave.
Schneier vleče parallelo s cepljenjem – če en posameznik reče: “Boli me za tiste, ki se ne morejo cepit, ne mislim tvegat svojega otroka, ne glede na to kako majhno je tveganje zanj v primerjavi. Sej ostali tvegajo zame s cepljenjem svojih otrok.” Ta stav deluje samo dokler večina cepi svoje otroke. Ko družba začne razmišljati v lastno korist in ne v korist skupnosti (ob ne-prehudem tveganju), dobimo tragedijo skupnega.
Hecno se mi zdi dvoje: (a) Da moj sošolec O sicer načeloma kritizira individualistično logiko in neoliberalizem (v drugih postih), medtem ko je tukaj ekstremno libertaren (češ, ne bom tvegal za druge, ne glede na posledice zanje in majhno tveganje zame).
Racionalizacija zakaj ne bi tvegal, je tu poljubna. V našem primeru pac očitek, da nekdo ni pripravljen tveganja prevzeti nase (zdravnik, ki ne podpiše, da bo z O-jevim otrokom vse v redu). Kar nas pripelje do (b) Kot je že moj sošolec A nakazal, je v življenju bolj malo ne-tveganih odločitev. In seveda ne-prepoznavanje tveganja ni isto kot odsotnost tveganja. Zanašanje na to, da mi “lahko nekdo zagotovi” da je nekaj brez tveganja pa mi itak jemlje moč odločanja. Če se odločam samo za stvari, ki nimajo nobenih potencialnih negativnih posledic in vedno izbiram samo izbire z gotovimi pozitivnimi posledicami, potem se itak ne odločam. Moja izbira je jasna in vedno ista. Mirno bi me lahko zamenjal robot. Trik človeškosti je to, da se odločiš med dvema bolj ali manj bednima opcijama in živiš s posledicami. Kar nas seveda pripelje nazaj na cepljenje. Moje mnenje je, da je lahko opletat z lastno odgovornostjo takrat, ko meniš, da ne bo ta nikoli igrala vloge. Ker ze po Frommu vemo, da je odgovornost 1/številom vpletenih.

Heh, to me spomni na veliko debato v Kaliforniji pred par leti ali naj motoristi nosijo čelade ali ne. Pro-nosilci rečejo, da je to varno in fer in razumno, Kontra-nosilci rečejo: “To je moja lastna izbira, nihče ne bo kratil moje svobode in vetra v laseh”. Problem je sicer to, da če človek brez čelade ne umre v prometni nesreči, potem jaz kot davkoplačevalec plačujem za njegove zdravniške posege, oskrbo in nego, s čimer krati mojo svobodo razpolaganja z lastnimi sredstvi in mojo pravico do odločanja. Obenem tudi, kot rastlina, postane izdatek za proračun in ne priliv (kot davkoplačevalec), tako da njegova odločitev ne vpliva samo nanj ampak tudi na ostale državljane. In enako velja če umre – ne prinaša več dodane vrednosti, pritisk je večji na nas ostalih. Na mikro nivoju je seveda problem tudi če se je svobodnjak razplodil. Verjetno ima potem njegova družina tudi kaj za dodat o tem, koliko časa bi radi še preživeli z njim. Zelo podobno, ne, kot cepljenje? Na žalost predlagana rešitev v primeru čelad ne deluje pri anti-vacci brigadi – v Kaliforniji so predlagali zakon, kjer je nošenje čelade neobvezno, ampak vsak, ki je ne nosi, je avtomatično zaveden kot darovalec organov in nima pravice do oživljanja. Na žalost ne vem, če so zakon sprejeli ali ne, se mi pa zdi kar ustrezen. Pač tvegej če hočeš, samo sprejmi odgovornost za svoje tveganje.

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O nadpovprečnosti

mladinaV Mladini (19.02.2015) je v izjavah tedna tudi tale:

“Čedalje več je takih ljudi, ki so nadpovprečni” (Vlasta Nussdorfer na Valu 202 o inflaciji nadpovprečnosti)

Na prvi pogled je to smešno. Sej ne more biti več kot polovica ljudi boljših od povprečja, ne? Ne?


Polovica ljudi je na vsaki strani srednje vrednosti, ne aritmetičnega povprečja. Zmedeni?

(1) Primer:

Imamo 10 ljudi in merimo njihov npr. uspeh od 0 do 100%. V prvem primeru je 5 ljudi doseglo 25% in 5 ljudi 75%. Aritmetična sredina je:

(25 + 25 +25 +25 + 25 + 75 + 75 + 75 + 75 + 75) / 10 = 50

Torej 50% je povprečje in 5 ljudi je boljših in 5 slabših. OK.


(2) V drugem primeru doseže 5 ljudi 10% in 5 ljudi 20%. Aritmetična sredina (povprečje) je:

(10 + 10 +10 +10 +10 + 20 + 20 + 20 + 20 + 20) / 10 = 15

Torej tistih 5 posameznikov, ki so dosegli 20% je nadpovprečnih! V absolutnem smislu so skrajno neuspešni, vendar v primerjavi s svojimi vrstniki dobivajo nadpovprečne ocene. In še huje:


(3) V tretjem primeru imamo takole razporeditev: 5, 1, 1, 1, 5, 6 , 6, 6, 6, 6. Aritmetična sredina (povprečna vrednost) je:

(1 + 1 + 1 +5 +5 + 6 + 6 +6 +6 +6) / 10 = 4.3

Od 10 posameznikov jih je 7 nadpovprečnih v tretjem primeru. Torej več kot polovica.


Ampak, ampak, kako je lahko več kot polovica ljudi nadpovprečnih, vas slišim spraševati. Zato, ker povprečje (oz. aritmetična sredina) ne označuje nujno srednje točke v populaciji! Nabolj pogosto, prelomno vrednost, ki deli skupino na dva dela, označi mediana. Mediano izračunamo tako, da razvrstimo vrednosti po vrsti  in tista, ki je najbolj pogosta, je mediana. Če sta dve številki bolj pogosti kot ostale, potem ju seštejemo in razpolovimo. Mediano uporabljamo predvsem v ekonomiji, ko recimo želimo vedeti kaj o plači, ki je najbolj pogosta. Če vzamemo aritmetično sredino, potem tisti, ki zaslužijo ogromno in tisti, ki ne zaslužijo nič izkrivijo porazdelitev. Če npr. vzamemo nekega pro-rektorja neke angleške univerze, ki ima plačo 500.000 funtov+ na leto in nekega pomivalca posode, ki ima plačo 8.000 funtov / leto, zraven pa dodamo še 8 delavcev, ki zaslužijo 18.000 na leto, potem bi lahko mislili, da je povprečna letna plača v Angliji 65.200 funtov. Vrednost mediane je v tem konkretnem primeru 18.000 funtov / leto, kar je tudi v resnici blizu najbolj pogosti angleški plači in nam pove precej več o stanju ekonomije, kupni moči, revščini itd). 

(1) V prvem primeru je mediana: ( (25 + 75 ) / 2 ) = 50 (== aritmetična sredina)

(2) V drugem primeru:  ( (10 + 20) / 2) = 15 (< aritmetične sredine)

(3) V tretjem primeru :  ( (5 + 6) / 2) = 5.5 (> aritmetične sredine)

V vseh treh primerih je mediana na sredini (5 ljudi na vsaki strani).

Na dva načina je torej lahko zgornja izjava povsem točna.

(a) Ker povprečje ni mediana in je možno, da je čedalje več ljudi nad povprečjem.


(b) Ker je razmerje lahko isto (pri fiksnem povprečju), pa imamo kljub temu vedno več nadpovprečnih posameznikov.

Ne vem o čem konkretno je Vlasta N. govorila v oddaji, ampak recimo, da je govorila o inteligenci in ne o izpitni uspešnosti. Povprečna inteligenca je določena. Povprečen IQ po Wechslerju je 89 – 109. Če vzamemo izjavo samo, potem je vedno več Slovencev, ki imajo IQ > 109. Malo verjetno je, da je prav v Sloveniji normalna distribucija inteligentnosti drugačna kot po svetu. Če je, potem ni treba nič več dokazovati, ker izjava logično (ne pa nujno faktografsko) že stoji .

V primeru, da Slovenija ni izjema in da je vrednost povprečne inteligence po vsem svetu podobna, je Vlastina izjava še vedno lahko pravilna. Kako? Če hočemo ohraniti fiksno povprečje, potem moramo kontra-obtežiti populacijo. Kako? Za vsakega genija, rabimo dodatnega morona, pa povprečje in razmerje ostaneta ista, obenem pa imamo več nadpovprečnih. Torej, če hočemo preveriti ali je izjava resnična ali ne, potem pogledamo rezultate inteligenčnih testov šolarjev (ne vem če jih še delajo, v mojih osnovnošolskih časih so jih) in hitro vidimo ali je res vedno več genijev in vedno več butcev.

Seveda gre vse to na račun povprečno inteligentnih.

Nič smešnega ali čudnega ni v izjavi tedna. Morda izjava ni faktografsko resnična, vendar tega ne vidimo iz izjave same.

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On Deception and Conflict

Israeli children signing rockets going into Gaza (c) PressTV

Israeli children signing rockets going into Gaza (c) PressTV


My research area is psychology of: persuasion, deception, fraud etc. I have an interest in other connected areas – decision making under risk, altruistic punishment, self-regulation


I am not an expert in politics or psychology of war. I am, however, a thinking person and I wanted to apply some of the stuff I work on daily to the conflict in Gaza. I will try as hard as possible to not take sides, although my opinion will come through what I write.





I should point out that my position is not the position of the University of Cambridge. I have no clue what the University’s position is. There usually isn’t a unifying one as there are tens of thousands academics working here with wildly different religious and political views, so the University usually stays out of the fray and thus does not risk angering a portion of its staff.

What are the official positions of both sides?

The Israeli
Israelis say that the violence against them must stop and that they have the right to defend themselves. Full support of international community is claimed.
They say that the Israel Army Forces deserve the Nobel peace prize for restraint.
They say that they need to kill everyone in Gaza in order to prevent violence against their people.
They say that history is written by the winners and thus the end justify the means.
In the same blogpost they say that they do not target innocent civilians because they have precision-guided munitions that only kill bad guys and collaborators.
They say that the gloves should come off and enough with the soft treatment of Palestinians.
They say that Hamas has a network of hidden underground tunnels leading in Isareali territory.


What do reports from Palestine say (mostly not from Palestinians – no electricity, water or limited Internet access. Hard to write.)
Israelis drink beer and cheer bombing of Gaza.
Violence against civilians is not stopped or restrained.
Flechette shells are being used on populated areas.
A father opens a plastic bag: ‘This is my son,’ he says, killed by an Israeli shell.
Israel indiscriminately bombed The Shijaiyeh neighborhood in Gaza City. Heavy shelling prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded for hours.
In first three days of gaza bombing 95 children are killed.
Israelis are using white phosphorus.
Four boys killed by a bomb while playing footbal in the Gaza stripIt is fairly hard to not be cynical at this point, and ask questions about where the terrorists using the boys as live shields were hiding in this case and just how precise the precise munitions are.
A Palestinian boy forced to drink gasoline and then set on fire as a revenge for someone else killing three Israeli boys.


What do observers say?
77% of Palestinians killed are civilians.
Israelis bomb hospitals and injure civilians, many of whom are children.
Live coverage of Israelis cheering explosions in Gaza.
Timeline of violence.  Kill ratio of 1:7 in favor of Israel.
By July 21st According to UN – 25 Israeli soldiers were killed and 2 Israeli civilians. Estimated 86 Palestinian militants and 406 Palestinian civilians were killed (69 women, 129 children) 
Israel accused of war crimes by UK MP’s.
Israel bombs el-Wafa hospital. Red Cross international calls after shelling starts to ask how long to evacuate before the start in order to not hurt patients.
South America (Bolivia and Venezuela) condemn Israel.
CNN journalist pulled from Gaza after criticizing Israeli celebrations of shelling of Gaza.
NBC Reporter pulled out of gaza after blogging about murders of four Palestinian teenagers playing soccer on the beach.


There is a slant to these stories
Israelis would tell you that Palestinians are forcing their children into areas that would be bombed in order to elicit outrage. They would also tell you that the underground tunnels pose a clear and present danger because of suicide bombers swarming out of them. They would tell you that they have not been killed en-masse for two reasons only: (a) because they preemptively striked first and (b) they are protected by their missile shield.

Palestinians would tell you that their rockets have no explosive, because of the embargo, they would tell you that that they live in an open air prison, where there is no electricity, not enough water, no medical supplies. They would ask where were they supposed to get weapons to attack Israel. They may ask whether throwing rocks at tanks might be seen more a move of desperation than real murderous intent.

So, there are two stories here – Either the Israelis are fighting for their lives and the Palestinians are wickedly good at spin plus very high in Machiavelianism (willing to scarifice and maim their children and wives in order to prove a point). Or the Palestinians are being mass slaughtered by Israelis and fighting back with stick and stones out of desperation.


On Lying
We therefore have two opposite views and at least one of the sides is engaging in deception. In the lab setting we are not much better than chance in detecting deception (c.f meta analysis by Bond & DePaulo, 2006). In layman’s terms – if we know nothing about the real situation and are observing a person and asking them questions about the situation we are about as accurate as flipping a coin is. When it comes to high stakes lies (i.e. lies where getting caught matters to you), we are a bit better (around 70% accurate). Still, we cannot be sure. And we cannot be sure in the context of this conflict. I suppose it is possible that Palestinians are lying, but I believe it is extremely unlikely, as deception is engaged when there is some benefit to be gained by it, usually. And here the benefit (the outrage of the world) does not outweigh the cost (thousands of people dead from the start of the conflict, 50 years of siege, destroyed infrastructure and no hope for the future generations). Now, I know that Nietzsche said that the rich have power and the poor have morals (paraphrased) and one could argue that Palestinians are saying: “Well my kid has lost his legs and my daughter is blind, but at least the West knows who is the moral victor here.” I find that implausible and more than slightly cynical, though.

In thinking about how to approach this mess, it occurred to me, that who is lying and who is right may not be the main issue at all.


Semi-objective facts

If we leave to one side the question of who is right and who is wrong. And avoid the spin and moral outrage we may justifiably feel, then we are left with probably not completely accurate, but still ballpark figures. What do we know:

– The conflict has been going on for 47 years.
– As a consequence of (in)direct military action 7000 Palestinians and 1000 Israelis died during this time. It is hard to estimate how many people died from the consequences of the armed conflict (hunger, suicide bombings, lack of medicines, etc) so let’s not go there and stay with reported facts.
– In the “Protective Edge” about 30 Israelis died (2 civilians) and about 500 Palestinians died (406 civilians, but may be more, depending on your definition of a “militant”) according to the U.N.
– There are video tapes of Israelis using white phosphorus (linked above) on Palestinians. Phosposhorus is hard to control and causes burns on people regardless of whether they are “militants” or children playing soccer.
– The whole “Protective Edge” operation started because three Israeli kids were killed (and we do not know by whom, to be clear).

Here is my question.

When is it enough?

When you kill 10 people for every one you lost? 20? 50? 100? 500? Everyone? When can you stop kicking a dog that is down, because you are sure they learned their lesson? When does the fact that you are the most macho, ubermenschian race in the region come through clearly enough? How much dehumanization is needed for the lesser race to understand their place? Make no mistake, Israel spends $18 billion on arms every year. There is no question who is better funded in this conflict. So, I am asking, when does one feel that they have successfully prevented the buzzing fly from ruining their breakfast? When you have vastly superior infrastructure, army, defense capabilities etc, do you have kill *every* Palestinian child or is 1 out of 3 enough to prove a point? In what world is it justifiable to force a kid to drink gasoline and then set him on fire, regardless of his innocence?

My point is. Let’s forget about who is moral and who is not. Let’s forget about pain and death and help me answer this simple question. When is it enough? When are you satisfied?

From reading the comments under blog posts, I have no doubt that many Israelis would answer this by saying: “When every last Palestinian is eradicated.” Mostly from the comfort of Internet anonymity. To which I will say: “That is your prerogative. But do not be surprised to then be treated like the fucking bullies you are. The civilized world has learned that there is no percentage in kicking an opponent when they are truly down and out. They are throwing rocks at you, for God’s sake, doesn’t that tell you something about their ability for retribution?”

Let’s be clear about something here. This is neither a pro-Palestine post, nor an anti-Israeli one. I have accepted the premise that each side has their own position and am working inside those parameters, regardless of whether they are objectively true or not and whether I agree with them or not. What I am saying is that if we accept that there are reasons for retribution, well, how much retribution is needed to satisfy?

Let the flaming begin.



Bond, C. F., & DePaulo, B. M. (2006). Accuracy of Deception Judgments. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(3), 214-234.

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O malih ljudeh in malih politikih

SDS opozarja (po Twitterju, mensezdi), glej zgodbo, da se moramo varovati (parafraziram) “instant strank, z instant politiki in instant programom”.

Ja, ker instant stranke z instant programom so nekončno slabše kot etablirane stranke z vedno istim programom, ki ga nikoli ne izpolnijo? Naposlušal sem se predvolilnih obljub, ki potem nekam izginejo in “prvakov strank” ki vedno znajo razložiti zakaj nič ne delajo, ko so enkrat izvoljeni. To, da veš kaj boš naredil, če gre vse po tvoje in ne kaj boš naredil, če se ti nekaj sfiži, je (po Ericu Berneju, očetu transakcijske analize) definicija zgube. Zmagovalci vedno vejo kaj bodo naredili če ne gre vse po njihovo, in zgube nikoli, po Berneju. In potem že pred volitvami poslušam kako se kandidati dajejo v oklepaje, v smislu, “No tole bomo naredili, seveda, če bomo izvoljeni in če bomo v koaliciji in če bomo… “. To ni t.i. realistična drža. Realistična drža bi bila, če bi kdo rekel – “Naš program je takle: tole so naši maksimalni cilji, ki jih bomo lahko dosegali, če bodo izpolnjeni tile pogoji. Tole so naši minimalni cilji, ki jih bomo dosegali v slabših pogojih.” In tako naprej. Do sedaj še nisem slišal človeka, ki bi v Sloveniji rekel – takle je naš plan, taka je časovnica, taka je SWOT analiza, tole so naše omejitve, tole naše prednosti, tole bomo naredili v situaciji (a) in tole v situaciji (b). Hočem reči, da ni videti, da bi imele stranke kake stratege, ki razmišljajo korak dlje od točke, kjer dobi stranka mesto v parlamentu in lahko začne prej nezaposlene ključavničarje nastavljati v nadzorne odbore bank in državnih podjetij. Ni videti,da bi svetovalci “prvakom” znali vbiti v glavo, da izpolnjevanje kratkoročnih ciljev ni nujno daljnoročno najboljše.

Stranke pri nas so kot komunala, ki jo vedno preseneti sneg sredi zime. Na primer. “Ne moremo izvajati programa, ker sami nimamo večine!” Jah, to je za vas novost, da morate delovati v koaliciji in sprejemati kompromise? Zakaj začnete o tem razmišljat po volitvah in ne med oblikovanjem programa? Ni umetnost mesarit s polno ritjo vpliva, umetnost je nekje popustit in nekje pridobit, v vedenju, da so vse te igre dolgoročne. Danes imam vec moči jaz, pa se nekje prilagodim, čeprav mi ne bi bilo treba, v naslednjem parlamentu ti, pa se takrat ti prilagodiš meni. Ne? Obema nama je cilj izboljšati stanje za državljane, ne? Razlikujeva se pač v ideji tega, kako to storiti. In dokler to ne bo jasno, ne bomo nikamor prišli. Moj najljubši fanatični libertarec zelo rad citira Churchilla in pred kratkim je navajal njegovo krilatico, da naj bomo neizprosni v porazu in radodarni v zmagi (v prostem prevodu). No, tega se pri nas nekako ne moremo navaditi. Niti tega, da priznamo poraz, niti tega, da je taktično pametno, če se ne posmehuješ in zaničuješ nekoga, ki si ga premagal.

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About fleecing them for all they’re worth

by DavidM 2014-06-09 at 12.21.08


There is an initiative by the Slovene Tax Authorities to tax … carpooling, essentially. Here is the link to the article (in Slovene language): dnevnik.si

There is a platform similar to uber operating in Slovenia. People advertise where they will be going and how much they would charge and others accept those offers. And so people cover a percentage of the petrol cost for the original driver, lower the overall emissions and engage in a service which helps those who are socially less fortunate.

It turns out that the Slovene Tax authorities want in on that action. The official explanation is that the passengers need to pay tax, since they are essentially paying for petrol and and there is a petrol tax that needs to be accounted for.

Predictably this elicited an angry response by pundits on the street. There were criticisms along the lines of: “Those greedy swines, once they smell money, they quickly suck it out of regular people” and “First they bleed us dry and leave us no alternative but to engage in secondary adjustment, because we can’t afford to go on a bus or train, and instead of making public transport more accessible, they tax our adjustment strategy”.

But it makes me wonder. It seems to me that they are after people’s money, but how far have they thought this through?

OK. So petrol dues need to be paid according to the tax authority rationale. The dues were paid by the driver already at the gas station. It seems that the tax authorities are proposing to either (a) have people pay the same tax twice, or (b) pay it once, but at the time of hitching the ride.

Because (a) is clearly illegal, I’ll chose to believe that they meant (b). How are they hoping to enforce this? It seems to be highly elaborate scheme that is completely un-implementable. Let’s play around with this scenario – I arrive at the petrol station, fill up and then claim that I will be driving people around so I don’t want to pay petrol dues? Will the person at the till be accommodating or not? Let’s assume they are familiar with the scheme, and let’s say they do accept my claim. Is it not likely that they would ask me what proportion of the tank I will be using for driving people around and what proportion will I be using for myself in order to calculate the proper amount of tax? How would I know? Why wouldn’t I say that I would be driving people around all the time and thus no need to pay the tax now?

So, I don’t pay any dues, but when people accept my offer on prevozi.org, I then submit the required amount to the tax authorities? Wouldn’t it be the best incentive for me to not offer any rides and thus pay no petrol dues but have full mobility? Will they be keeping track of people like me and follow-up if I do this? Let’s calculate the costs and round them up.

(a) The Tax Authority will need, at the very least, to change the tax software in order to add a table which will keep track of when any Slovene national bought petrol, how much, and whether they paid dues. In addition they will need a table populated by a script which would scrape prevozi.org + gather personal data, where it would be clear when any person offered a raid, how much they wanted, what car they drive (to calculate average mpg for that particular model, vintage and mileage) and the destination.   From that they could calculate the amount of petrol that was used and the amount of dues needed to be paid.

That may cost 10,000 EUR + 500 EUR per month for technical support and maintenance in the first year. that comes to 16,000 EUR per year

Then they would need let’s say 5 full time employees who would  keep track of two million people and their transactions on prevozi.org. Let’s say their average salary is 1000 EUR per month + contributions which would come to about 2200 EUR per month. This comes to 5 * 12 * 2,200 = 132,000 EUR per year

Then there is the cost of office space and the additional retraining cost for gas station attendants. Let’s say that petrol companies will shoulder the cost of training,  but they would still need to cover the cost of office space and infrastructure for their workers. Let’s say that there are two offices + machines + phone cost + bandwith. Let’s assume that comes to 300 EUR per month, so 3.600 EUR

So first year cost of the project comes down to: 151,600 EUR

So, what happens here is that the Slovene government would be spending 150k Euro to get people to pay taxes they would already be paying if things stay the way they are right now.

Ah, I hear you say, but what if taxes are paid in addition to already existing taxes. Well, the cost of the project stays roughly similar, but let’s say we need a few less people and a simplified software package. Let’s say, back of the napkin calculation, that it would cost half of the initial budget, so roughly 75,000 EUR.

Let’s assume that the drivers would be paying 30% of their earnings. And let’s go ahead and assume that people will not cheat and that they will not raise their prices and that, as a result, those looking for service will not make other arrangements. This is a tall order, but let’s pretend that supply-demand curve is not actually a curve (as probably the Tax Authority assumes).

Today, in June 2014, there seems to be 810 offers for today to various destinations. Mostly going to Ljubljana. The average price is 4.6 EUR per ride, depending on the distance, prices go from 2 to 10 EUR. Let’s assume that half of the rides are taken and let’s assume that the price does not influence the preferences. So, the takings per day are approximately 1,800 EUR. Let’s assume that there is a certain amount of fluctuation per day but that this averages out. 30% of 1,800 EUR comes to 540 EUR per day, which comes to 197,000 EUR per year. That means, after taking away the project costs, 122.000 EUR profit per year.

This is peanuts. Slovenia’s GDP is (according to Wikipedia) roughly 41 billion EUR. The profit would amount to about 0.0003% of the GDP. There are two things to think about here, considering how this money is in the realm of a rounding error in the overall GDP: (1) Why do the tax authorities bother with this money, and why do they consider it worthwhile to upset a large amount of people and (2) why do people allow themselves to be upset over such miniscule amounts.

I think the answers are: (1) The Tax Authorities do not do any kind of research, they just see a niche and think of exploiting it, without any in-depth analysis of what they would gain in financial terms, and what they would lose in terms of trust and reputation.

(2) People get upset not because of money, but because they feel screwed. They feel screwed because they came up with this cool thing that helps them and makes their lives more bearable and now somebody wants to take it away or wants to profit from it without any kind of previous participation. This has mostly to do with the psychological contract (i.e. the informal, non-written expectations we have when we sign a formal contract. For example when we enrol into a University, the contract we sign with them specifies that said University will give you an opportunity to learn and earn a degree. However, our expectations may be to learn from great scholars, gain some personal reputation from the reputation of the University, and be better positioned in the job market because we went to a high prestige University). Our expectations are not necessarily written down. This is the psychological contract bit. For our money, we get the service but also want our expectations to fulfilled.

The psychological expectation in the contract we have with the State is that it will help us out when times are tough and we will help it when we are doing OK. When the government does not help but actively deters people who think of ways to help themselves, this constitutes a clear breach of the psychological contract. And that is what angers us. And the government is angry when the people are doing OK, but fail to help out the country. It is like two kids standing on their own hillocks and screaming about the other not wanting to play ball.

The classical economists would think about incentivising people to pay taxes, but they would not think about why they are failing to pay taxes (if they are) in the first instance. This is an old dilemma of inventing ways to force people to do something they don’t want to do vs. changing their frame of mind and making them want to pay taxes. The assumptions are problematic here.

An economist is likely to tell you that people are egotistical and that there is no incentive for them to be “good” and “moral”. This statement is based on the idea that there are no morals, there is no consideration of future consequences of ones actions, etc. It is embodied by the homo homini lupus concept. There are many of us, who disagree with that life philosophy.

At the same time, we know that lack of premeditation leads us to do foolish things. In a recent study we did here at Cambridge, on susceptibility to persuasion, the ability to consider future consequences (i.e. premeditation) accounts for 25% of the variance in scam compliance. Simply put – the ability to consider what will likely happen if you engage with a scammer plays a decisive role in one quarter of the observed cases. (see: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2446971) if you want to know more about this.






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About educational policy

American Education is in the Dumpster

American Education is in the Dumpster (Photo credit: brewbooks)

There is an article in the Guardian, titled: “Advent of Google means we must rethink our approach to education”

I generally agree with the premise that we could change the education process, but I think this article is somewhat skewed.

1) There is a difference between replication and synthesis of knowledge. It might be OK for the vast majority of the population to be unable to think for themselves and just rely on others to do their thinking for them, but – for example Stephen Hawking cannot google his findings, before he discovers them. In order to push experimental physics forward, he needs to to understand the theory behind it and in order to do that, he needs to be familiar with it and perhaps not on the level of Wikipedia (my additional question is – what if Wikipedia packs it in after an unsuccessful funding campaign? What happens with all functionally illiterate people who have not written a wiki page in their life, and, honestly, also couldn’t write it to save their life, if all they can do is to replicate what is already there). My point here being that it is just fine if a person is literate and can multiply 6 by 7 without using either pen and paper or a mobile phone. And, oh horror, you need to learn this by heart. How the hell would making people completely and uncritically reliant on technology make them more advanced? The suggestions here seem to me to lead to the absurd position where, in order to read a webpage, you would need to consult somebody who could actually read (for example, the village seer). And how is this progress? And what happens when the last of the ancient folks who still learned how to read, dies?

To keep Stephen Hawking out of this mess – what about a more personal example? I use a bibliographic manager for referencing. I don’t penalize my students if they use it in their essays, but I certainly do not encourage it and I don’t tell them that software like that exists (and they mostly don’t know it does). Why? It is not because I am a sadist pig bent on making these poor kids suffer. It is because I know how to cite without help from software. As a consequence of this ability, I can tell when my bibliographic manager gets something wrong (sometimes it does) and I can fix the mistake, because I know how to do it correctly, by hand. And my students don’t. Yet.  If they start by using crutches from the get go they will never be able to rely on their knowledge and ability. What happens if the referencing manager they use stops being actively developed and disappears from the market? What if it changes significantly? The students ability to produce academic writing will be severely impaired. My won’t, though.

You see this is not even the difference between being able to adequately play Bach’s Brandeburg concerto nr. 1,  and composing the said concerto. It is actually the difference between learning to play every note by listening to the composition and watching youtube videos on how to do it; and being able to read musical notation. I am not even at the creative part yet, I am saying that getting people to read digests and summaries of stuff and making them believe that this is all there is to human knowledge, is sad and misguided.

I am talking, therefore, about blind faith in technology and about reliance on somebody else’s ability to think. I am talking about Google search algorithms that are not necessarily constructed in a way which would give you optimal results, but are more probably constructed in a way that maximizes profits for Google. Lots has been written about that. But, hey, people educated in a way proposed by Sugata Mitra will never know about it, because they will be learning about freaking mobile phones, when they are nine years old. I realize I am simplifying a bit.

2) Mitra writes about how the teacher encourages kids to learn through situation and through interaction in-group and over the Internet. Well. My question is – does the teacher study the subject they teach in a classical manner or do they also simply Google it during class? Ok, how does this work? In the Guardian Column the subject is signals in mobile telephony and the teacher starts by having students look at electromagnetism. How can you make sure that the teacher will start with electromagnetism? Does the teacher even know about the connection? Where from? Isn’t this a case of blind leading the blind? If the teacher actually has a semblance of knowledge about the subject they teach, are we then saying that some people should be educated and some don’t have to be? Are we saying that it is suddenly not a problem that some people will be left uneducated? And is the idea that I as a parent should decide that my kid will be left to do menial jobs, where the ability to reproduce, but not actually create will be the only thing required? I think testing the validty of  this idea would be quite simple – I propose two observational experiments:

a) Let us see whether Sugata Mitra is content to let his kids not have a classical education but are instead taught how to google and how to wait for others to come up with ideas (i.e. work in a team, where individual performance is not assessed and where the accolade is shared regardless of input).

b) Give the parents a choice where they can either send their kid to school where they are actually taught something or a school where they twiddle their thumbs and sorta vaguely learn about how mobile phones work. And let them decide.

3) What the Mitra does not seem to get is that teamwork is effective when people in the team are capable of independent thought, not when they all wait for somebody else to provide an idea. Clueless people in a group are a herd, not a synergy. That is not progress, it is a regression. If you skip the step of enabling people to be creative on their own, you will only get drones. And I am not content to do this to my kid.

4) There is a nice slant to this – These kinds of programs are run out of UK into India and Africa. The underlying current is that the kids there are not expected to attend top level UK Universities or prep schools in the first place. Thus, you see, these kids are ripe to be experimented on. This will not be foisted on British kids, oh no, but these poor savages deserve their chance, right? They will never be as good as us, but they are good for a few papers and for the feeling that we are doing something  good for them. Oh wait, there could also be a grant in this. Right?

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O plagiatih in odgovornosti

Univerza v Ljubljani

Univerza v Ljubljani (Photo credit: aikijuanma)

V Dnevniku je 25.02.2013 objavljen tale članek: Plagiat je najprej huda sramota za mentorja

Mislim, kako je to najprej huda sramota za mentorja? Malo treznega razmišljanja, prosim.

Kot sem že večkrat rekel: npr. na področju psihologije na leto izide 60.000 člankov v angleščini (ki je privzeti znanstveni jezik. Na univerzitetnem nivoju pač moraš biti opravilno sposoben v angleščini). Revija Science denimo izhaja od leta 1880, pa bodimo dobrohotni in štejmo, da se psihološki članki v znanstvenih publikacijah objavljajo od leta 1950 (čez palec recimo še, da se sicer objavljajo dalj, ampak ne v takem obsegu. Tako s trajanjem kompenziramo obseg).

Hiter izračun: 63 let * 60.000 = 3.780.000 člankov samo s področja psihologije. Recimo, da nas ne zanima celotna psihologija, ampak nekaj bolj specifičnega, nekaj kar obsega 10% objavljenega. Ostane nam torej bazen 380.000 člankov (knjig in zbornikov sploh nisem štel), ki jih ima kandidat na voljo, da napiše dizertacijo (torej diplomo/magisterij/doktorat). Laična javnost in novinarji menijo, da bi a) morala mentor in študent bodisi prebrati vse iste članke (torej njun presek bi moral biti popoln) ali b) da bi mentor moral znati na pamet vseh 380.000 člankov in takoj prepoznati, če je bilo kaj prepisano. Niti A, niti B nista realna.

Zagovor diplome / magisterija / doktorata je namenjen točno temu, da kandidat dokaže, da je do rezultatov in analize prišel sam. Seveda to posredno pomeni tudi dokazovanje, da dela ni prepisal od koga drugega, ni pa to tisto glavno. To, da nisi prepisal svojega dela je samo po sebi umevno, je stvar pogodbe, ki jo skleneš z univerzo, ko se vpišeš nanjo. Popreproščeno povedano – univerza se zaveže, da ti nudi znanje, okolje in vire iz katerih lahko črpaš, ti opraviš analizo nekega pojava in (v skoraj vseh znanstvenih panogah lahko) opraviš raziskavo, ki potrdi hipoteze, ki si jih zastavil na podlagi analize stanja. V zameno za to delo ti univerza podeli naziv. Če se izkaže, da si pogodbo kršil, jo univerza razveljavi in ti odvzame pridobljen naziv. Dolžnost univerze ni nič več kot to. Seveda, če si akademsko pot nadaljeval in delal še magisterij ali doktorat, pa se izkaže, da je diploma neveljavna, potem pač ne izpolnjuješ pogojev za pridobivanje magisterija / doktorata in je tudi ta naslednja pogodba nična. O tem se sicer odloča tvoja naslednja institucija (če nisi vsega delal na isti). Če si na delovnem mestu, ki zahteva določeno stopnjo izobrazbe in je ti naenkrat nimaš več, je to kršenje delovne pogodbe in delodajalec to sankcionira. To ni stvar univerze. Za univerzo je stvar zaključena, ko re-evaluira svojo pogodbo s tabo in izvede sankcije (če so potrebne).

Zagovor dizertacije mora vsebovati načine na katere preiskovalci preverijo ali veš o čem pišeš. Ne preverjajo ali je nek stavek nekje že bil napisan, ampak ali ti je jasno kaj ta stavek pomeni. Raziskave je težko prepisovat. Dovolj je, da komisja vpraša nekaj o tvoji metodologiji ali kakem konkretnem rezultatu pa je hitro jasno ali poseduješ podatke ali ne. Če nekdo v celoti prepiše uvod, raziskavo pa naredi sam, bi to moralo biti problematično zato, ker uvod ni povsem po meri raziskave in je to očitno. Če je prepisan zaključek je to še bolj očitno, če ne govori o tvoji raziskavi. Povsem teoretične diplome so v tem smislu bolj problematične, zato se jim večina fakultet tudi izogiba.

Da ne bo pomote, ne zagovarjam plagiarizma. Nikakor ne. Mislim, da je to predvsem bedno in kaže na intelektualni potencial kandidata. Zbanalizirano rečeno – nije žvaka za seljaka. Sej ni treba, da ima vsak človek univerzitetno izobrazbo ali še kaj več.

Spotikam se torej ob besedo najprej. Najprej je plagiat sramota za kandidata, ne za mentorja. Tisto kar mora narediti univerza je tole:

1.) Mentor mora slediti razvoju dizertacije, vendar je ne razvijati sam. Tisto kar lahko in mora narediti je, da kandidatu pove ko in če ta odkriva toplo vodo. Svetovati mu mora pri izdelavi raziskave (vendar je ne oblikovati sam). Prebrati mora izdelek in komentirati s stališča strokovnosti ali je izdelek ustrezen ali ne. Njegova dolžnost preprosto ni, poznati vse vire, ki jih kandidat uporablja, ampak oceniti ali je kandidat razvil misel v pravo smer. Mentor mora dobiti podatke na vpogled in, če je pameten, narediti vzporedno analizo, seveda lahko ob prisotnosti kandidata.

2.) Komisija mora prebrati izdelek in ob zagovoru postaviti vprašanja, ki nedvoumno kažejo na to, da kandidat ve o čem govori. Tudi oni ne preverjajo naravnost ali izključno tega, ali je bilo delo prepisano. To se vidi posredno iz odgovorov kandidata. Tako mentor, kot komisija, privzamejo, da je kandidat pošten.

3.) Kandidat mora skozi šolanje doumeti, da je naziv spremljajoči pojav procesa učenja. Ni bistvo naziv, bistvo je kako si ponotranjil znanje, kaj si se naučil o nečem in kako znaš to uporabiti v praksi. Naziv pride sproti. Na voljo imaš kar nekaj let, da se priučiš nekih specifičnih znanj. Temu je namenjena univerza, da na koncu procesa veš nekaj več. Pirova zmaga je če imas naziv, pa še vedno pojma nimaš.

Govorim torej o odgovornosti do vede in do sebe. Univerza ti mora ponuditi možnost, da jo razviješ, ni pa zanjo odgovorna. Za to, da je nekdo nemoralen, ne odgovarja nihče drug kot on sam. Niso krivi mentorji, ni kriva komisija in ni kriva Univerza, dokler korektno opravljajo svoj posel. In posel univerze ni, da te tretira kot kriminalca ampak, da ti omogoči, da si lahko pošten. Če te priložnosti ne izkoristiš, je to tvoja krivda. In ne najprej, oziroma sploh ne, mentorja.

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O visokem šolstvu in begu možganov



Retards (Photo credit: Bob.Fornal)


Polno potovalko imam analfabetov in ludistov, ki se čutijo poklicane za to, da nam povejo kako bi moralo funkcionirati šolstvo in kdo je tisti kader, ki ga pa res potrebujemo. Celo vrsto zmot in zablod najdem v dnevnem časopisju in twiteraških izbljuvkih vodilne elite.


Umetna delitev 1: naravoslovje / družboslovje

 O tem sem že večkrat pisal vsepovsod. Gre samo za taktiko divide et impera. Škoda, da se v Sloveniji taka idiotija prime. V praksi in v svetu ta delitev ne igra kake hude vloge. Samo naši politični giganti se lahko spravijo v situacijo, kjer naj bi ekonomistom odrekali sposobnost upravljanja s financami ali pa zdravnikom odrekali koristnost, ker so oboji družboslovci. Sladka ironija je, da so politične vede zagotovo družboslovne. V tej točki se moje mnenje in mnenje politikov o koristnosti njihove družboslovne izobrazbe popolnoma pokrivata. Seveda izobrazbe tistih, ki jo imajo in niso prepisali diplom/magisterijev/doktoratov ali ponaredili svojih spričeval.

Če se dotaknem svojih področij – veliko glavnih raziskovalcev na Microsoftu ali Googlu je psihologov. Microsoftu kot kaže še nihče ni poslal dopisa, da je računalništvo dosti bolj znanost, kot ti tisto kar izvajajo ti družboslovni pocarji.

Koristnost družboslovne izobrazbe se bo morebiti pokazala kaj kmalu, ko bodo ljudje v skladu z zgodovino in skupinsko dinamiko počeli kar vedno počnejo in presenetili tiste politike (kaže, da večino), ki konfuzno in nejasno mislijo, da je masa z njimi.


Umetna delitev 2: javno / privatno šolstvo

 V Sloveniji se javno in privatno šolstvo financira iz javnih in evropskih sredstev. Tu ni nobene delitve. Delitev je v tem, kaka merila morajo za financiranje izpolnjevati javni in privatni zavodi.  Zagovarjam idejo, da se sredstva vsem ustanovam delijo po jasnih (identičnih) kriterijih – vrstnem mestu univerz na svetovnih lestvicah, količino in vplivnostjo raziskovalnega dela v svetovnem merilu, kvaliteto obstoječe infrastrukture in akademskega kadra, številu zaključenih doktoratov… Na kratko, zagovarjam rahlo spremenjeni anglosaški sistem.


Zmota 1: Znanost = kratkoročni profit

 Ludistična teza, da vse kar jutri ne prinaša dobička ni vredno raziskovanja je tako primitivna, tako abotna, da skoraj ni potrebe po tem, da bi navajali primere, ampak dajmo vseeno, za vase zagledane intelektualne pritlikavce tam zunaj – cepivo proti črnim kozam, dinamit, najlonke, plastika, Internet, itd, itd. Nič od zgoraj naštetega ni bilo izumljeno zato, ker bi nekdo hotel izumiti točno to.


Zmota 2a: Če si nezaposlen, je to zato, ker si nesposoben / se ne potrudiš dovolj

Ta fantazija deluje v družbi, kjer delodajalci zaposlujejo po meritornosti, po objektivni oceni znanja in sposobnosti posameznika. Pri nas se zaposluje po principu nepotizma in vez ter poznanstev. Redki so posamezniki, ki zaposlujejo na podlagi sposobnosti. Seveda tudi pri nas obstajajo, četudi, ali pa ravno zato, ker vodilne klike praviloma ustrahujejo ali grenijo življenje tem posameznikom, ki prej ali slej ne zaposlijo kakega nesposobnega nečaka ali otroka tistih pri koritu.


Zmota 2b: Če si nezaposlen, je to zato, ker si nepotreben / nekoristen

Jah, ali pa nisi prave barve, si preveč prodoren ali nevaren, ali pa preprosto nočeš delati za arašide. Sigurno si nekoristen tistim, ki bi se radi poceni kitili s svojim znanjem, se strinjam.


Zmota 3a: Če te pozivamo k odhodu, ker nihče ne potrebuje tvoje neuporabne riti tukaj, potem ti ne boš šel, ker si preveč nesposoben.

Tukaj gre za smešno situacijo. Mislim si, da marsikdo razmišlja tako kot jaz – brez veze se mi zdi grozit in napovedovat temno usodo in ne vem kaj. Pač, ko bom dobil službo v tujini, bomo spokal kufre. Enkrat smo jih že, z lahkoto jih bomo še enkrat. Razpisi so zunaj, moj profil je za tujino zanimiv. Ne vem zakaj bi se moral pregovarjat z bedaki in jim obljubljat kako bo potem ko enkrat gremo prepozno in ne vem kaj. Pač, vso srečo, srčki. Tudi pes odide, ko ga dovolj dolgo brcaš.


Zmota 3b: Ker smo preveč zabiti ali prestrašeni, da bi te znali uporabiti, mislimo, da si univerzalno nesposoben.

Ta zmota spet deluje v hermetično zaprtem svetu. To, ali sem nesposoben, je z lahkoto preverljivo v globalnem kontekstu. Do sedaj empirija ne podpira zmote 3b.


Zmota 3c: To, da nekdo izven Slovenije dobi za isto delo 4x več denarja, je laž / se nas ne tiče, ker so tujci bolj naivni kot mi, ki vemo kaj je zares dodana vrednost.

Ja, ja, glej zmoto 3a. Moja plača na istem delovnem mestu je v Angliji približno 3-4x večja kot v Sloveniji. Stroški življenja v Angliji so nižji. Angleži so dojeli, da je raziskovalno delo dober biznis. Top 10 Univerze v Angliji obrnejo vsaj 25%+ BDPja Slovenije. Vsaka. Ker imajo kvaliteten kader, lahko dvignejo svojo reputacijo, kar privabi kvaliteten kader iz celega sveta, kar pomeni, da imajo na razpolago svetovno smetano, kar pomeni, da opravljajo kvalitetno raziskovalno delo, ki ima velik vpliv na svet, kar pomeni da za svoje delo lahko mastno zaračunajo, kar pomeni, da zaslužijo dovolj, da najamejo svetovno smetano, kar pomeni, da imajo kvaliteten kader…


Zmota 4: Ko rečemo, da smo šolstvu dali dodatnih 16M Eurov za zajezitev bega možganov , računamo, da nihče ne bo dojel, da smo prvotno šolstvu odvzeli 30 milijonov.

V bistvu Turk pravi, vzeli vam bomo 14 milijonov (in 71 milijonov  za raziskave) ampak to bomo prikazali, kot da smo vam namenili dodatnih 16M za mlade raziskovalce. Ne vem kdo vam še verjame? Kdo je dovolj zabit, da ne zmore niti malo pogooglat dejanskega stanja?



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David Modic, PhD


Štiri leta. Štiri leta! Če vštejemo prijave, čakanje, organizacijo financiranja, intervjuje.., potem šest!

Od trenutka, ko sem prvič vstopil v svojo pisarno in se instantno spričkal s sistemcem, ker mi ni hotel dat mrežnega kabla za moj leptop (“Univerza ne nudi podpore za računalnike, ki niso last Univerze” “Ampak sej jaz nočem podpore za svojo mašino, sam kabl mi dej, da se povežem v mrežo.” “Kup si ga” “OK.”).

Do trenutka ko so mi po dveh mesecih bivanja v Exetru povedali, da je podjetje, ki delno financira moj doktorat, bankrotiralo in da sva s Kim kar naenkrat brez sredstev in da kmalu ne samo da ne bova mogla plačevat najemnine, ampak tudi ne bova mela za avionsko karto domov.

Do trenutka, ko mi je moj supervizor uredil financiranje (saj smo te mi povabili, seveda te ne bomo zdej pustili na cedilu).

 Do trenutka, ko sem oddal prvo seminarsko. Ko sem naredil prvi podiplomski izpit tukaj. Ko sem napisal prvo poglavje in so ga raztrgal. Ko sem prvič zagovarjal ekspozicijo. Takrat, ko so rekli, da niso razumeli zakaj me je Stephen sploh vzel, dokler nisem svojega dela predstavil v živo. Takrat so Stephenu rekli, samo do zagovora ga moramo spravit, pa bo zdelal z lahkoto.


Do trenutka ko sem prvič učil in popravljal izpite.


Do trenutka, ko so me prvič povabili da predavam na MBA študiju tukaj.


Do trenutka, ko so me prvič povabili na mednarodno konferenco.


Do trenutka, ko smo mednarodno konferenco organizirali mi (pet ljudi iz Exetra. cca. 300 udeležencev iz celega sveta. http;//2011.iarep.org).


Do trenutka, ko se je rodila Sofia.


Do trenutka, ko sva s Kim dojela, da nam v Angliji več ne znese živet.


Do trenutka, ko smo se vrnili v Slovenijo in sem jaz začel iskat kako spodobno službo in naletel zvečine (ampak ne povsod) na akademsko apatijo in hohštapleraj, ki mu ne sede, da je nekdo mogoče v resnici sposoben.


Do trenutka, ko mi je profesor s Cambridgea rekel, da bi oni mene radi zaposlili in da se bo že kaj našlo, seveda če bom takrat še zainteresiran.


Do trenutka, ko sem doktorat oddal.


Do trenutka, ko sem sedel pred kabinetom in čakal. Ko je prišel ven dekan in rekel, pridi, pripravljeni smo nate.


Do trenutka, ko so mi rekli, OK, nimamo več vprašanj. Počakaj zunaj na našo odločitev.


Do trenutka, ko so mi povedali, da mi bodo podelili naziv. In sem šel, po tradiciji, z zamaškom od šampanjca naredit vdrtino na strop in se šel zraven podpisat, tako kot mnogi pred mano in mnogi še za mano.


Do zdejle, dan po tem, ko sedim v svoji pisarni in diham.


Vmes je neskončno trenutkov, lepih in manj lepih, žalostnih in veselih. Veliko druženja, brezveznih pogovorov, sprehodov po podeželju, gledanja vider in divjih ponijev. Veliko nežnih in nepozabnih trenutkov. Fino je bit v Exetru in fino je imet prijatelje in ljudi, ki te z razlogom cenijo.


Divja vožnja je tole.


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No Pasaran!

¡No pasarán! Resistancia - Non aux réacs _DDC0...

¡No pasarán! Resistancia – Non aux réacs _DDC0017.JPG (Photo credit: Abode of Chaos)

Ko sem l. 2008 odhajal v Anglijo delat doktorat se mi je zdelo, da je Slovenija v dobrih rokah. Majer je bil poražen, levica je prišla nazaj na oblast, ljudje so dali vedeti intelektualnim pritllikavcem in nemoralnim apartčikom, da jih ne marajo, pa čeprav so jim ti dajali bonbončke – dvigali plače in uvajali vinjete.

Zdaj, ko se vračam, prihajam s kislim priokusom. Znanje ni več vrednota v naši družbi, ravno tako ne poštenost (če je ta kdaj bila). Ljudje v stiski ožajo svoje delovanje na skrb za sebe in bližnje, ostali pa naj se znajdejo. To nas vse siromaši. Meritornost nima pomena. Vlada nam kriminalec in psihopat, ki mu njegove zveste oprode mazilijo noge medtem ko on planira kdaj jo bo popihal v Avstralijo skupaj z otrokom in pretepeno ženo.

Ljudstvo čaka kdaj bo kdo (ki ni oni) kaj naredil, da se ta propad vrednot in družbe ustavi. Novico imam za vas – nihče ne bo delal ničesar namesto vas (nas). In svet bo skomignil, češ, škoda, pa tako perspektivni so bili, potem pa se bo vrtel naprej. Edino rešitev vidim v tem, da prestopimo svojo lastno pritlehnost in nehamo razmišljati o tem kako so drugi sami krivi za to, da so tokrat na tnalu. Iz dveh razlogov: a) Ker na tnalo pridete prav vsi, ki še ostajate pasivni in ker b) je to manipulacija političnih “elit”. Ljudje ki dobro delajo, naj bodo tudi dobro plačani za svoje delo. Če so dovolj neumni, da nasedajo neoliberalni retoriki katastrofe, pa naj bodo vsaj spodobno plačani. Ne nasedajte bluzakanju o “privilegiranih” posameznikih , ki so v resnici žrtve sistema, kot npr. Saj visokošolski učitelji delajo samo tri ure na teden. To a) ni res in b) ni pomembno. Važno je, da se delo opravi v določenem času in kvalitetno. Učenje ni manufaktura, ne delamo na kvote. Raje delajmo butično. Naš proizvod naj bo kvaliteten, ne pa masoven.

V Ameriki, tako slišim, imajo direktorje za obdobje miru in direktorje za obdobje vojne (War CEOs). Tisti mirnodobni direktorji znajo oplajati pridobljeno in skrbeti za blaginjo. Tisti za obdobje vojne pa znajo raztrgati konkurenco in zmagati. Morda je čas, da civilne združbe začnejo voditi tisti, ki so se pripravljeni boriti in ne tisti, ki bi radi še malo klepetali. Ne delajmo si utvar. V vojni smo. Psihopat si izbira tarče, enkrat ene, drugič druge in obenem manipulira z ostalimi: “Tile so zares krivi, za vašo bedo, glejte kako slabo vam gre. To je zaradi njih.” In raja zaniha – pa so res oni krivi, prasice izkoriščevalske. Nič jim ne bomo pomagali, pa naj se znajdejo sami. In ko pride vrsta na drugo skupino, so spet krivi oni. Medtem politiki sebi dvigajo plače, malo hodijo na morje in malo twitajo. Obenem živijo v iluziji, da se lahko odločajo denimo o višini pokojnine na način kjer nam dajo vedeti, da gre za njihovo dobro voljo, ker nam nekaj podarijo. To ni vaš denar, to je denar ljudi, ki so ga sami nalagali v skupno dobro dolga leta. To ni nekaj kar lahko podarite, ker ni vaše. Lahko pa nehate krasti. In potem klasičen argument – ja, nimamo, kako tega ne razumete. Nimate? Kaj pa ste naredili s tem bogastvom, ki ste ga upravljali? Zakaj ne odgovarjate za vaše špekulacije, vašo nesposobnost da bi ustavili moralne hazarderje? Zakaj se delamo, kot da niste popolnoma, kriminalno nesposobni. Za gnjat ste se prodali. Za drobtinice z mize bogatih. In zdaj si želite, da bi vas reševali? In to tako, da nam pljuvate v obraz? Da si privoščite biti vzvišeni. Da medij, ki opravi raziskavo o begu možganov (podprto z empiričnimi dokazi), označite kot tako neverdostojen, da še osmrtnicam v njem ne verjamete (še tule)? To mislite, da je pot, kjer vam bomo ustregli? Ne vem kako naj bom bolj jasen kot tole: “Fante, malo preveč si predrzen. Ne bomo mi tebe prosili, ti boš prosil nas, da ti odpustimo tvoje sranje, tvojo nesposobnost, tvoje laži, tvoja kazniva dejanja. Glej, nihče si, majhno kolesce v svetovni shemi. In bolj ko rovariš, bolj ko stresaš s kanglico in ograjuješ svoj peskovnik, bolj si osamljen. In bolj te ne cenimo. Moči imaš samo toliko, kot ti jo pustimo in skrajni čas je, da ti to postane jasno.

Dovolj je tega nabijanja o tem kako moramo plačati, ker smo živeli preko svojih zmožnosti. Mnogi, upam si reči, da velika večina, izmed nas ni živela preko svojih zmožnosti. Živeli smo tako kot prej, kdaj kaj prihranili, včasih kaj zapravili. Skratka, živeli smo v potrošniški družbi. Dovolj imam moralistov, ki mi razlagajo kako moram zdaj plačati tisto kar sem si sposodil. Zakaj? Tako kot mnogi drugi, si nisem nič sposodil. Tisti, ki so si sposojali ogromne zneske in špekulirali z našim denarjem, pa mi sedaj govorijo, da bo treba stisnit. V svetu ni dileme kdo je krivec za nastale razmere, edina dilema je ali so krivci igrali na srečo brez izhodne strategije (torej ali so mahali s tujim udom po koprivah v upanju, da bodo špekulacije uspele, če ne bodo, pa ne vemo kako naprej) ali pa so igrali igro na srečo z izdelanim načrtom (torej so mahali s tujim denarjem po koprivah vedoč, da bodo njihov neuspeh krili davkoplačevalci, njihov uspeh pa si bodo razdelili sami). Dilema torej ni ali je trg racionalen. Trg je bodisi neracionalen, torej nihče nihče ne razume kakšna je logika za njegovim delovanjem. V prid temu argumentu govorijo raziskave, ki kažejo da so borzni špekulanti uspešni malo manj kot v 50% primerov, kar preprosto pomeni, da bi bil investitor še malo bolj uspešen, če bi pred vsako investicijo raje vrgel kovanec. Dodaten argument je ponarodela izjava, da se borzni posredniki imenujejo brokerji, ker so more broke than you are. Drugi možni odgovor pa je, da je trg racionalen, ampak do obisti izprijen. Špekulanti in investicjski bankirji so torej nori ali pa pokvarjeni. Ni kaj, in to svojat naj bi imel dovolj rad, da bi jo reševal?

Ne govorim o tem, da se naša mnenja krešejo. To bi bilo poniževanje razuma. Razhajamo se v temeljih. Politična elita misli, da ima mandat, da se okorišča. Tu je srž problema in popolen poraz politike kot umetnosti kompromisa. Politike, ki ne razume korena besede politika. Politike, ki verjame, da je od Boga poslana in da je nemoralno dejanje v imenu (lažnih) moralnih interesov kar naenkrat moralno. Politike, ki misli, da je njena moč v tem, da dela proti interesu ljudi, za lastno dobrobit in da je dovolj, da nam kdaj pa kdaj kakšno govno zavije v celofan ali pa nam grozi, češ brez nas vam bo še slabše. To zadnje je sicer do konca izpet in zlajnan blef, ki mu nihče več ne verjame. Tudi zato naš ljubljeni vodja nima dovolj poguma, da bi z zainteresirano, inteligentno javnostjo komuniciral direktno. Raje daje intervjuje svojim konkubinam, situiran v svojem dvorcu, na tronu svoje cone udobja ali pa preverjenemu občinstvu, kjer ve, da mu ne bodo nastavljali ogledala.  Vsak narcis rabi, da ga obožujejo, in tisti ki ga, naenkrat nimajo nobene vrednosti v njegovih očeh, saj misli, da ve da so tisti ki ga cenijo ničvredni, ker ga niso spregledali. Tako narcis vedno znova poskuša prepričati tiste, ki ga zaničujejo, da je nekaj vreden in če mu to uspe, niso nič več vredni. Če ga skušajo ignorirati bo pa ustanovil lastno partijsko trobilo v obliki televizije v upanju, da ga bo vsaj potem kdo poslušal.

Dovolj je tega sranja. Dovolj leporečja, dovolj jokanja o tem, da moramo vsi malo potrpeti in stopiti skupaj na stran mentalnih ubožcev, lažnivcev in kariernih politikov. Malo bomo potrpeli, ko bomo videli, da ne favorizirate sebe in svojih pajdašev. Malo bomo potrpeli, ko boste v prvi vrsti sankcionirali sebe in svojo kratkovidnost. Malo bomo potrpeli, ko ne boste v prvi vrsti hlastali delovnih mestih za svoje otroke in ljudi, ki ste jim dolžni usluge. Malo bomo potrpeli, ko ne boste cenzurirali tiskane besede.

Dve stvari:

– Ne razumem kako je mogoče, da bo vladajoča srenja, ko enkrat odleti, še vedno v določenih primerih lahko računala na delovno mesto na javnih univerzah. Zakaj rektor to dopušča? Ok, rezi. Najprej odrežemo delovna mesta politikom, ki so pripeljali do tega stanja. Saj je treba šparat, ne? No, začeli bomo pri vas. Več kot to, da nas uničite tako ali tako ni mogoče in to počnete že sedaj. In ne razumem politikov, ki imajo obraz, da se vrnejo v okolje, ki so ga osiromašili in zatrli. Kako lahko gledajo sodelavcem v oči?

– Nekje je nujno povleči črto. In ta črta mora biti tu. Niti koraka več naprej. Nobenega popuščanja. Referendum za vsako najmanjše dejanje, dokler ga sploh še imamo.





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Janša ne bi razlagal kolegom iz tujine zakaj imajo njegove akcije posledice


Flag of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia (19...

Flag of the SR Slovenia (1945–1991) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

J. Janša v Dnevniku: “V zadnjih dneh imam težave razložiti svojim kolegom iz Evrope, kako je možno, da je Slovenija v treh letih padla praktično iz vrha na dno in drugič, da tudi sedaj, ko še imamo možnost, da se iz tega rešimo, ni toliko zdravega razuma, sposobnosti in sodelovanja, da bi to tudi storili.“

Mogoče bi razlago lahko začel tako, da bi pojasnil zakaj on in njegovi ministri menijo, da ni teba spoštovati sodb evropskega sodišča in na kak način nas to povzdiguje.

Vinko Gorenak

…Sodba iz Strasbourga je seveda dokončna. Mnogi pravijo, da je direktno izvršljiva na proračun. Še posebej glasni so tisti, ki so na temo tako imenovanih “izbrisanih” naredili z državnim denarjem magisterije in celo doktorate. Vse lepo in prav. Toda že star ljudski pregovor pravi, da tam kjer ni še vojska ne vzame. In v proračunu denarja preprosto ni….



… Predsednik vlade Janez Janša je včeraj v odgovoru na poslansko vprašanje Tamare Vonta (PS) med drugim ocenil, da naj za odškodnine izbrisanim odgovarjajo tisti, ki so 20 let zavirali poskuse SDS, da bi jih z ustavnim zakonom preprečila…


Ali pa bi jo lahko začel tako, da bi pojasnil na kak način uničevanje javnega šolstva veča blaginjo državljanov.

Dekani 11 fakultet: vladne namere vodijo v nacionalno katastrofo

Na mariborskih fakultetah avgusta brez plač? Turk: To ne more biti posledica zakona.

Obsojamo namero privatizacije javnega šolstva na račun kakovosti javnih šol.


Ali pa mogoče tako, da bi pojasnil kako grožnje z odstopom ali izjave lansirane v Evropo o tem kako v podnu so naše finance ojačajo naš mednarodni sloves.

Financial Times

Premier Janez Jansa himself, after all, first prompted the bailout talk the week before, warning Slovenia could “see a Greek scenario” if the opposition failed to back legislation to stabilise public finances.


Jože P. Damijan

…slovenske javne finance [je] nespretna in preveč iskrena komunikacija predsednika vlade stala natanko 1 milijon in 273 tisoč evrov, kolikor bo Slovenija morala odplačati več obresti na novoizdane zakladne menice…


Fantastično bi bilo tudi, če bi obenem še pojasnil kako je možno, da ga opozicija “blokira”, če ima 55 glasov v parlamentu in ignorira vse pomisleke javnosti, ko sprejema obsežne zakone brez kakršnihkoli analiz.


Mogoče bi lahko obenem še pojasnil Evropski in naši javnosti kako poizkusi revidiranja zgodovine in poveličevanja fašizma blagodejno vplivajo na percepcijo Slovenije v tujini.


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O (ne)zaupnici

18.07.2012 Tole pišem pred glasovanjem o t.i. zlatem pravilu.

Janez Janša ponovno postal mandatar, dobil 51 ...

Janez Janša ponovno postal mandatar, dobil 51 glasov podpore (Photo credit: Šiško)

“Če ne boste glasovali kot jaz hočem, obstaja možnost, da vežem zaupnico na taisto glasovanje.” Kako prozorno.

Ta besedni konstrukt, “obstaja možnost da” je približno tako prepričljiv kot vsa sprenevedanja do sedaj. Če malo naštejemo:

Dvig davkov
25.10.2011 …Predsednik SDS-a je poudaril, da dvig davkov ni pot k rešitvi. Kot pravi, je treba predvsem poiskati rezerve, ki jih ima država pri svojem delovanju. Po njegovih besedah je država s 40 tisoč manj uslužbenci ob svojem nastanku delovala enako dobro kot danes. “Ni rešitev, da damo teh 40 tisoč ljudi na cesto, ampak da se za njih najdejo delovna mesta v gospodarstvu,” je dejal.

9.11.2011 … SDS drugače kot nekatere druge stranke nasprotuje dvigu davkov, razen davkov na luksuz in na špekulacije, na primer pri prometu z zemljišči. …

5.3.2012 Evropski fiskalni pakt namrec določa, da morajo države v svoji zakonodaji zagotoviti avtomatski stabilizator, torej ukrepe, ki v primeru primanjkljaja v naslednjem letu avtomatsko uravnotežijo proračun. To pa je mogoče storiti na dva načina, in sicer s povišanjem davkov ali zmanjšanjem izdatkov, je še rekel predsednik vlade [Janez Janša]. Napovedal je, da bo vladi še v tem mandatu uspelo uravnotežiti proračun.

5.3.2012 …To pa pomeni, je poudaril Janša, da lahko porabimo le toliko, kolikor zberemo. Če izdatki v kakem letu presežejo prihodke, izračunane v skladu z zlatim pravilom, se jih naslednje leto v celoti nadomesti z dvigom davkov, zapoveduje predlog ustavne spremembe….

Javna agencija za knjigo
24.11.2011 …Žiga Turk je govoricam o predlogih za ukinitev agencije navrgel, da je bila ustanovljena v prejšnjem vladnem mandatu in da je strah pred ukinjanjem odvec…

5.3.2012 … Minister Žiga Turk napovedal zmanjšanje števila »šefov, tajnic in fikusov«. JAK in SFC zopet pod okriljem pristojnega ministrstva…

Pokojninska reforma

19.04.2011 Janez Janša: “… Pokojninska reforma ali smrt, pokojninska reforma ali nestabilnost, pokojninska reforma ali ne vem kaj … To je zgolj propaganda.”

25.05.2011 SDS MO Kranj: … Glavni problem Slovenije v tem trenutku ni pokojninska reforma, temveč nizka gospodarska rast, brezposelnost in visoka zadolženost države.

23.11.2011 … Da je Pahorjeva vlada pokojninsko reformo razglasila za najnujnejšo reformo, je po oceni SDS cista demagogija. “Reforma je sicer potrebna, zagotovo pa to ni kratkorocen protikrizni ukrep,”

2.3.2012 … “To pomeni, da rešitev ni samo pokojninska reforma, to je en delcek tega, kar je treba narediti zaradi strukturnega prilagajanja trendom v prihodnosti. Še zdalec pa to ni edina rešitev, kot se je v Sloveniji dolgo prodajalo,”

Varčevanje v javnem sektorju

Pahorjeva plača v letu 2010: 6021 EUR na mesec (bruto)
Janševa plača v letu 2012: 6784 EUR na mesec (bruto)

In potem je tu še obljuba o obisku avstrijskega sodišča v primeru Patria:

27.02.2012 … Je pa Janševa tiskovna predstavnica Mateja Erčulj za avstrijsko tiskovno agencijo APA pojasnila, da bo Janša na Dunaju z veseljem pričal, če bo na sodišče povabljen, pri tem pa se ne bo skliceval na svojo diplomatsko imuniteto, ki jo uživa kot premier. …

14.3.2012 [Janša] “bo z veseljem pričal, če dobi vabilo”.

30.04.2012 Premier Janez Janša se ne namerava udeležiti četrtkove obravnave v zadevi Patria na dunajskem sodišču

3.05.2012 Plagiatorjevo vabilo je bilo založeno in s težkim srcem ne pride. Najprej se sklicuje na diplomatsko imuniteto, malo kasneje na to, da vabila ni dobil (ker je Slovenijo potovalo več kot en mesec. Poslano je bilo 27.03.2012, dobil pa naj bi ga 2.5.2012).


In še in še je tega.

Samo popolni naivneži lahko nasedejo plagiatorju, da bo res vezal svojo usodo na voljo opozicije. Sej ni zmešan, plagiator. Konstruktivna nezaupnica bi tako ali tako pomenila, da se mora parlament še enkrat konstituirati s kakim drugim mandatarjem. Kaj pa naj bi počel sedanji “premier””? Kako ironično, da par dni prej začne napletati zgodbice o lobijih iz ozadja. In tudi če bi dobil nezaupnico, poslanci ne bodo izglasovali predčasnih volitev. Virant in Erjavec zato, ker ne bi več prišla v parlament, ostali, ker vlečejo plače in bi jih radi še malo.

To prazno šopirjenje je dolgočasno.

Seveda mi ni treba verjeti na besedo ali pa se strinjati z menoj. Počakajmo do petka in dejstva bodo govorila zase. Moja napoved: O glasovanju o zaupnici ne bo ne duha ne sluha, razen v primeru, kjer bo slovenska “levica” izvedla obrat za 180 stopinj in kar naenkrat začela pleteničiti podobno kot Pahor, češ zlato pravilo pa res rabimo v ustavi (pa pustimo ob strani, da ga Francozi ne bodo pisali v ustavo in ga Angleži sploh ne bodo sprejeli. Pustimo po strani tudi, da je v Nemčiji v ustavni presoji. Pozabimo, da EU ne zahteva vpisa zlatega pravila v ustavo, ampak je dovolj, da je uzakonjeno). No, bomo videli.


 20.07.2012 Tole pišem v petek, po roku za glasovanje o zlatem pravilu.


Potem ko je štirinajst dni stopnjeval pritisk na koalicijske partnerje in opozicijo, ta teden, v času izredne seje državnega zbora, pa iz dneva v dan bolj očitno izsiljeval z namigovanjem na zaupnico, se je predsednik vlade Janez Janša sinoči nepričakovano dal prepričati. O fiskalnem pravilu, slovenskem državnem holdingu in menda celo zamenjavi vodstva AUKN naj bi poslanci tako glasovali šele jeseni.



V zadnjih dneh se je še okrepila možnost, da bo predsednik vlade Janez Janša na sprejem fiskalnega pravila vezal zaupnico vladi. V zvezi s tem je Janša ob prihodu na sestanek dejal: “Vse ob svojem času.”



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Skrajno kvalitetni maturanti

… Kot vedno so bili najuspešnejši gimnazijci, ki so maturo opravljali prvič: od 6.248 jih je naporno preizkušnjo, ki je včasih veljala za zrelostni izpit, opravilo 6.715 ali h 93 odstotkov, kar je za odstotek bolje od lani. … [Dnevnik.si]

Kako je lahko naredilo izpit ~500 dijakov več, kot jih je sploh prišlo in kako je to 93% uspešnost (po podatkih podanih v članku gre za 107.5% uspešnost)?

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O statistiki nezaposlenosti

The lunatics have taken over the Asylum

(Photo credit: phill.d)

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“LJUBLJANA – Zavod za zaposlovanje se je pohvalil z nižjo junijsko brezposelnostjo že peti mesec zapored, brezposelnih pa je po uradnih evidencah 105.630, kar je dobrih deset tisoč manj, kot jih je bilo januarja.”
…”Za osebe, ki niso aktivni iskalci zaposlitve, menimo, da s svojimi dejanji izražajo, da ne potrebujejo storitev Zavoda in bodo svojo brezposelnost rešili na drugačen način,” so še napisali v zavodu.Narobe: nižja nezaposlenost v Sloveniji
Prav: manj uporabnikov storitev zavoda za zaposlovanje v Sloveniji.

Ko zbrišeš človeka iz evidence to ne pomeni nujno, da je dobil zaposlitev (niti, da je ni). Glede na razmerje med razpisanimi delovnimi mesti in številom črtanih posameznikov z Zavoda v juniju 2012 (776: 10.000), bi lahko predvidevali, da je večina tistih, ki jih je zavod izpisal, ostala nezaposlena. Vem, da narahlo primerjamo jabolka in hruške (10.000 izpisanih na mesec proti 776 zatečenim prostim delovnim mestom), vendar vseeno lahko sklepamo, da se v Sloveniji ne odpre 10.000 delovnih mest na mesec, vsak mesec. Torej, gre še vedno za diskrepanco, ki je vsaj reda velikosti prevelika, da bi lahko sklepali, da so črtani posamezniki vsi našli službe. Funkcija Zavoda sicer ni to, da prikaže koliko ljudi so se znebili vsak mesec ampak, da posreduje med delodajalci in delojemalci. Ker gre v marsikaterem pogledu za totalno institucijo (Goffman, 1961)  jim (tako kot zaporom) ni v interesu, da bi našli vsem prosilcem službe, ker bi potem ostali brez dela in navidez nepotrebni. Najbolj verjetno zavod, tako kot zapori, vzgojni zavodi in bolnišnice (Foucault, 1977) išče tisto točko ravnovesja, kjer imajo toliko uporabnikov storitev, da je očitno, da so nujno potrebni in obenem ne toliko uporabnikov, da bi imeli preveč dela. To homeostazo pa najlaže dosežejo tako, da periodično iz evidence zbrišejo višek. To je precej bolj nenaporno, kot iskati nove zaposlitvene modele in kontaktirati podjetja in jih spraševati če potrebujejo kadre. Ne gre torej za to, da bi delali tako kvalitetno, da bi lahko obvladovali naval brezposelnih, ampak za to, da dajo videz da nekaj delajo, in obenem vržejo kako kost novinarjem. Škoda, da novinarji tako nekritično objavljajo vse, kar se jim servira.

Sicer od Piana naprej ne berem več prav veliko plačljivih vsebin v slovenskem časopisju (sem pa se naročil na Mladino, ki jo z veseljem plačam, če že moram za novice plačevati), sklepam pa iz naslovov in prvih par vrstic plačljivih člankov (ki so tisti, ki vsaj približno spominjajo na raziskovalno novinarstvo – jasno, novic povzetih po STA ravno ne moreš zaračunati), da smo bolj na ravni teorij zarot, kot dejanske analize stanja, podprte s podatki. V bistvu kaže, da gre za še enega izmed vrste pokazateljev, da v Sloveniji znanje ni nič vredno. Ne vem, se urednikom res zdi, da ni dovolj bralcev, ki bi si želeli kvalitetnega raziskovalnega novinarstva; da so pri nas samo taki, ki bi se z gnusom obrnili stran od članka in rekli soprogi: “Fej, pravkar sem bral članek o atomski energiji in niti z besedo niso omenili atomik harmonik!”

Če se vrnem k temi, sicer to, da Zavod ne opravlja svoje funkcije ne prinaša toliko političnih točk, kot če razglasiš nižjo nezaposlenost, je pa bliže resnici.

Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish : the birth of the prison (1st American ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.
Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums; essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates (1st ed.). Garden City, N.Y.,: Anchor Books.

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Karlova igra

“Po mednarodnem pravu uživajo predsedniki vlad, držav in zunanji ministri popolno imuniteto, ki jih odvezuje tudi pričanja v sodnih procesih,”  Dagmar Albegger, tiskovna predstavnica avstrijskega ministrstva za pravosodje. 

Sedaj je torej igra malo bolj jasna. O Plagiatorju ne bi izgubljal besed, razen mogoče pohvale, da pridno napreduje v akademskem smislu (najprej plagiira, kasneje prepisuje z wikipedie (brez navedbe vira), sedaj pa le še napačno navaja vire. Še malo pa bo skoraj na nivoju študentov prvega letnika fakultete).

Ampak, Karl, človek za vse čase in vsa ministrstva…. Desusov zunanje-politični program praktično ne obstaja, Erjavec je popolnoma nesposoben voditi zunanjo politiko, ampak Janša ga vseeno nastavi na to mesto, kljub splošnemu posmehu javnosti. Sedaj je jasno tudi, kaj je Erjavec pridobil s prehodom na desnico. Mesta zunanjega ministra mu verjetno Janković ni ponujal, pa tudi če bi mu – Plagiator mora biti premier, drugače je Erjavec še vedno v riti. Osebnostne strukture kot je, po mojem mnenju, Janševa, ne skrbijo za druge kar na lepe oči, zagotovo pa ne na lastno škodo. Erjavcu ne bi nič pomagalo, če bi imel imuniteto, Janša pa ne, ker bi ga Janša mirne duše vrgel volkovom. Tako pa se lepo vse pokrije – Erjavcu ni treba hoditi na sodišča v tujino in izblebetati kaj neprijetnega za Plagiatorja ali sebe.

Tako zanimivo je to, gledano od daleč – ta igra, ki jo Plagiator igra, se ne more končati srečno. Vedno več ljudi mora obvladovati, da lahko naprej ribari v kalnem. O vsakomur mora izvedeti kaj, kar jih kompromitira. Seveda z ozvočenjem parlamenta in dostopom do posnetkov tajnih vladnih sej to postane lažje, ko gre za politike. Z nastavitvijo svojih ljudi na čelo obveščevalne službe tudi. Pa vendar. Enkrat domine padejo. Bolj, ko je obširna mreža, več je možnosti, da se kdo zlomi. Pa sploh ne nujno zlomi – dovolj je, da se nekdo odloči, da bo reagiral tako kot bi Plagiator sam v taki situaciji in s sabo pokoplje tudi njega. Z mojega, rahlo psihopatskega stališča, je to tako ali tako najboljši odgovor na izsiljevanje – takojšnje javno sprejetje odgovornosti in posledic svojih akcij. Saj je to svoboda, ne? Odgovornost za svoje akcije. Da ne bo videti kot da nekaj moraliziram in se delam visoko moralnega – gre za preprosto oceno tveganja. Če sem (hipotetično) počel stvari, ki niso bile OK, sem, upajmo, razmišljal tudi o tem, kakšne bodo posledice. Običajno so neprijetne, ampak, hej, kaže, da se mi je vseeno izplačalo (ali pa sem preprosto preneumen, da bi razumel kaj počnem). Sedaj imam izbiro – pogoltnem juho, ki sem si jo sam skuhal in s tem preprečim, da bi me psihopat lahko manipuliral ali pa mu pustim, da zasadi kremplje vame in naredim zanj še kaj, kar ni OK. Psihopat ima sedaj na zalogi dve stvari, ki me lahko pokopljeta. Vedno bolj me drži, in če je dovolj inteligenten potem gre impliciranost samo v eni smeri, torej proti meni. To se nikoli ne neha. Kako Plagiatorjevi lakaji tega ne dojamejo? Seveda boš nagrajen, dokler boš koristen ali dokler ne boš nevaren ali pa nič več uporaben, ampak za Plagiatorjevo vladavino bo ostalo pogorišče. Če bo padel ali pa ne. Če ne bo padel, bo to v končni fazi na račun njegovih oprod, ker, grešni kozel bo vedno nujen. Če bo padel, bo vzel kopico ljudi s sabo. Zato, da mu ne bo dolgčas in zato, ker lahko. Kako lakaji tega ne dojamejo? Nihče od vas ni poseben, ko gre za odločitev “Jaz ali drugi”. Nihče od vas na koncu nima nobenega pogoja, da bi skupaj z generalom stali po bitki. Na koncu ne. Zakaj ne razmišljate o svojih strategijah umika? Tudi plagiator se bo utrudil in spodrsnil. Samo takrat bo z družino živel v Avstraliji, vi pa boste ostali tukaj, s prazno vrečo v rokah, besom ljudi na plečih in razkrinkanimi mahinacijami za leta nazaj.

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Predstavitev superministra

Le redkokdaj dobimo sleherniki tako lepo priložnost, da se spoznamo z razmišljanjem velikih. Tokrat imamo priložnost videti prezentacijo samega superministra, Žige Turka – do nje nas vodi povezava na njegovem blogu.


Z zanimanjem sem predstavitev odprl, da bi videl kako se reči streže. Svoje komentarje bom razdelil v nekaj kategorij (kliknite na slike za povečavo).



Kultura je gotovo pomembna in prav je, da se zavzemamo za karkoli se pač zavzemamo. Ko bi vsaj obstajal kak strokovnjak ali organizacija, ki bi imela izvršne sposobnosti. Lahko bi ji rekli, kar izvršna oblast, npr. To bi bilo skrajno v redu. Ti ljudje bi potem lahko izvrševali tisto, za kar se mi zavzemamo. Kakšna škoda, da pri nas ne poznamo takega koncepta. Še bolje bi bilo, če bi obstajal kak človek, ki bi nadzoroval posamezna področja, lahko bi jim rekli kar resorji, in bi usmerjal človeško silo, da bi izvajala tisto, za kar bi se drugi zavzemali. Lahko bi takemu človeku rekli kar minister, po zgledu iz tujine – njemu zagotovo ne bi bilo treba reči, da se za nekaj zavzema, on bi to izvršil. Ne?



Gotov sem, da se je minister tu zatipkal in namesto računalnikov napisal kompjuterjev. Saj imata besedi približno isto znakov in črke so relativno blizu skupaj. Oh, ta sladka ironija, kjer v alineji o varovanju Slovenščine uporabiš anglicizem. Mogoče pa je tudi to zgolj taktika, ki naj nas predrami iz naših utečenih kolesnic: Angleščino spravimo z ulic v predstavitve! O naslednji alineji – spravimo tujke v slovarje, pa sploh raje ne bi izgubljal besed.


Tudi tu se navdušujem nad prefinjeno ironijo v povezovanju kulture in PR izjav o umetnosti avtokratskega diktatorja, šefa multinacionalke, ki o umetnosti najbolje ve, s kakšno maržo jo bo lahko prodal naprej. Obenem sem navdušen tudi nad nacepljeno ironijo enačenja umetnost = industrijsko oblikovanje = kultura. No sej, važno, da imamo iPade, pa ne bo nihče jokal za gledališčem.



Tu smo pri srčiki zadeve. Če prav razumem ta diagram, je dobra umetnost tista, ki je izdelana z uporabo tehnologije (upam, da recimo šteje, če tekst za predstavo napišeš na prenosniku) in ki se dobro proda, ali pa, še bolje, je izdelana po naročilu kakšne korporacije. Pronicljiv se mi zdi impliciten stav (prisoten v prezentaciji in tvitih ministra), da je prava umetnost ali kultura tista, ki je všečna ministru ali vladi. Kako preprosto je potem življenje. Sicer lahko pozabiš na recimo, Opero za tri groše ali kakrsnokoli družbeno kritično stvaritev, ampak hej, kdo pa sploh še bere, recimo, Hlapce ali Pohujšanje v dolini Šentflorijanski od Cankarja? To je passe. Najvišja umetnost v tem hipu bi verjetno bila instalacija, ki bi jo naročil Apple Slovenija in bi se sestojila iz video projekcije fotografije Steva Jobsa, v ozadju pa bi tisoč otrok iz vsega sveta pelo: “Deus Gratia“. Vsaj pol ure.

Sploh pa, kdo se ne bi strinjal s stavom ministra, da pač tisto, kar njemu ali vladi ni všeč, pač ni umetnost in tako posledično ni nobene potrebe po financiranju tistih, ki morijo. “Kaj, a zdej pa pričakujete, da bom plačal za to, da me boste lahko kritiziral? To že ni kultura. Povejte mi, da sem faca, al pa združite vašo predstavo z delom za tekočim trakom pa boste zraven opravili tudi kako zaresno delo. Če boste med predstavo izpolnili kvoto, seveda. Pol lahko financirate sami sebe.




O tem nimam reči kaj drugega kot to, da me zanima kako bo superminister to spremenil. Dokler bo edina možnost akademske zaposlitve v Sloveniji ta, da bo kandidat moral počakati, da obstoječi nastavljeni profesor umre, toliko časa se verjetno ne bo kaj dosti spremenilo. Tujina tukaj ponuja kar nekaj odgovorov, ki pa nikakor niso samo rožnati. In obenem ne vključujejo ustanovitve nove univerze.


Stavek spodaj levo je dvoumen in nejasen. Sliši se zanimivo, vendar nima nobene resne vsebine.

Spodaj desno pa pridemo do resnične težave – utilitarističen pogled na znanost je sicer legitimen, vendar obenem tudi strašljiv. Marsikaj v človeški zgodovini je bilo odkrito po naključju – (npr. penicilin, najlonke, teflon, velkro, DNA…). Samo bistvo znanosti je, da odkrije; da pripomore k napredku celotne vrste. Ja, v tem pogledu je sama sebi namen, njena odkritja pa so uporabna v našem vsakdanjiku.

Mislim da Feynman lepo povzame ta čisti odnos znanstvenika, ko govori o užitku odkritja, zadovoljstvu ob tem, da ga ostali kolegi potrdijo in o tem zakaj ga ne zanima Nobelova nagrada, ki jo je dobil.

Obenem je tu problem v dvoličnosti – minister težko napoveduje, da bomo Slovenci razvijali vrhunske znanstvenike, obenem pa bo poudarek na uporabnosti odkritega in tisto kar ne bo imelo uporabnega potenciala, pač ne bo podpirano. Hec je v odkrivanju – če veš kaj boš odkril vnaprej, potem to ni odkrivanje ampak replikacija že odkritega. Če se bomo osredotočali zgolj in samo na gotove zadetke, potem ne bomo napredovali tako hitro, kot bi, če bi kdaj tvegali z nečim nepreizkušenim.

Seveda je stav, da smo premajhni, da bi lahko financirali znanost, ki bo sama sebi namen, čisto legitimen. To, da v isti sapi trdiš, da boš postavil slovenske raziskovalce ob bok svetovnim, pa tako postane navadna floskula.


Ko smo že pri znanosti in akademskih spretnostih, moram reči, da z zanimanjem opazujem način znanstvenega citiranja, ki ga minister (ki je obenem tudi doktor znanosti in profesor na Univerzi v Ljubljani) uporablja. Sklepam, da nam sporoča, da je koncept navajanja letnice in strani publikacij pri citiranju preživet, važno je le, da je misel tako resnična, da je ponarodela. V tem smislu se da razumeti tudi veliko število citiranih trditev v predstavitvi, kjer avtor vira sploh ne navaja. Alternativna razlaga bi bila, da minister za visoko šolstvo ne zna citirati, to pa je gotovo nemogoče.

Paradigma spremenljivosti in dinamike predstavitve se kaže tudi v zgornjem posnetku. Skozi celotno predstavitev lahko vidimo, kako minister drzno spreminja paradigmo seznamov. Enkrat je po piki velika začetnica, enkrat spet ne. Saj ni važno, bo že kdo, ki je zadolžen za razvoj, promocijo in ohranjanje slovenskega jezika poskrbel za to….


Verjetno so ene stvari tako pomembne, da jih je treba večkrat ponoviti. Sprašujem se, kolikorat je šel minister skozi prezentacijo, da mu je tole ušlo? Poteguje se za dobro plačano službo z ogromno formalno močjo, pa vendar je videti, kot da se v prezentacijo ni močno vložil.


Minister, profesor in doktor znanosti bi moral vedeti, da se viri ne navajajo tako. To je pljunek v obraz akademski skupnosti s strani človeka, ki bi jo rad vodil.


Pojavna oblika
Slogovno gledano se mi zdi predstavitev izzivalna, polna skrite dinamike, še sploh, če upoštevamo, da gre (med drugim) tudi za ministra za kulturo.

Kljub temu, da imamo Gutenberga radi, bi ga tu morda vseeno navedel z malo (ški, ski…).




Od povprečnega človeka je morda preveč zahtevati, da bi uporabljal vejice, kot na primer v stavku: …ni več dovolj, ustvarjati je treba… Minister nam verjetno sporoča, da je človek ljudi, da je tak kot mi, ki ravno tako kdaj spustimo kako vejico (na koncu koncev, če se to dogaja kmetu kot sem jaz, se lahko tudi ministru za kulturo, ne?). Tudi lektorjem je odklenkalo – pozabite na vaše udobne službice, pejte raje počet kaj bolj pomembnega in se nehajte delat, da je pomembno kakšen jezik se uporablja, važno je, da se nas razume, ne? Ne?

Tudi v drugi alineji gre za izziv preživetim dogmam uporabljanja celotnih povedi ali pa pisanja smiselnih logičnih enot. Tekma je svetovna? Katera tekma? Kdo so igralci? Gre morda za slang (t.j. Tekma je ful carska, stari) ali kaj drugega? Kdo je najboljši v svetovnem merilu? Je to prihodnjik? Je minister najboljši? No, to tako ali tako že vemo. Bi si on želel, da bi vsi postali najboljši v svetovnem merilu? Kako bo to dosegel? Če smo vsi najboljši, smo vsi povprečni. Gre za vse Slovence? Ali samo izbrane, torej tiste, ki nimajo trenirk in lahko svojo čistost dokažejo vsaj za pet generacij nazaj? Recimo, da gre za vse prave Slovence. Svet verjetno z zadržanim dihom pričakuje priliv kakega milijona najboljših strokovnjakov na vseh področjih. Če so pametni, se bodo umaknili temu tsunamiju.


Tudi tu gre za preživete floskule o tem kdaj uporabljamo s ali z kot predlog. V resnici nam ta lapsus pove zgolj to, da je bila ta prezentacija napisana bolj z levo roko. Vsak študent, če ne srednješolec, pozna ta pravila. Ne pa doktor znanosti. Ob tem dobim občutek, da minister ni prezentacije niti enkrat prebral za sabo. To se mi zdi bistveno bolj problematično kot lapsus sam in nam daje vedeti, kako (ne)pomemben je program bodočega ministra v njegovih očeh in očeh odbora.



Kot je stil razgiban in raznolik, tako tudi vsebina poskrbi za prevetrenje utečenih smernic.

Zelo poglobljen in prefinjen posnetek. Logika, da moraš vsaj enkrat v prezentaciji uporabiti bejbo v kopalkah, ki stoji pred sončnim zahodom, tukaj obrodi sadove. V eni sami sliki vidimo celoten program tega ministra. Kaj je bolj logičnega kot to, da, če govoriš o glavah, srcih in prihodnosti, da nalepiš sliko glave, prsi in sončnega zahoda v svojo prezentacijo. Ko bi na sliki vsaj bilo jutro. Ampak pustimo zdaj te neprijetne detajle. Občudujem to drznost, ta korak stran od znanstvene doktrine, ki a priori ne enači ohranjevalcev zaslona s strokovnim pristopom. Pozabimo te floskule! Raje poglejmo bejbo, ki je v kopalkah, saj na koncu koncev je to le strokovna prezentacija (torej ne sme biti naga), ne, in moški bolj pogosto volijo, ne?


 Vsebina na splošno

Na splošno o vsebini težko kaj zares povemo, ker je bolj kot ne, odsotna. V zamenjavo zanjo dobimo veliko citatov in novo-veških klišejev.

To me še kar nervira. Namreč to, da o tem pišem jaz, relativni nihče, vsekakor ne-izvoljen ali izbran od ljudstva. Zakaj o tem ne piše opozicija? Zakaj si ne vzamejo časa, da bi si pogledali predstavitve ministrov, in jih uporabili kot temeljno postavko preverjanja njihovega delovanja? Za časa te vlade, bi morala levica vsakič, ko minister naredi potezo ki ni v skladu z njegovimi obljubami, dvigniti glas.

Vsakič, ko odgovarja megleno in neprepričljivo, bi ga bilo treba na to opomniti. Ko se čez štiri leta približajo volitve, bi morala levica reči:  “Z zanimanjem smo sledili delovanju ministrstev, z mnogimi temeljnimi postavkami programov se strinjamo, ne strinjamo pa se z izvedbo, ki jih je mnogokrat zanikala (npr. takrat, takrat in takrat). Da se temu izognemo v temu mandatu, bomo storili X. Tukaj je naš plan dela. V njem, čudežno, ni besednih zvez, kot npr. “zavzemali se bomo” ali “stremeli bomo k”, temveč izdelan načrt kaj in kdaj. Naš program ni nastal tri tedne pred volitvami, nastajal je sproti med tem mandatom. Zato v njem ni praznih obljub, so le tiste realistične. Populistom bomo prepustili teorije zarote in blebetanje o hobotnicah in odsotnosti Boga, mi pa se bomo osredotočili na vsebino.”

Zakaj opozicija ne ustanovi vlade v senci? Zakaj nimajo predstavitev ministrov v senci – interno? Zakaj ministri vlade v senci ne objavijo svojih predstavitev na Medmrežju? Zakaj vlada v senci ne pripravlja zakonov po svoji meri, ki bi jih predlagali parlamentu za časa odsotnosti večine koalicije (torej, skoraj vedno, če lahko sodimo po prejšnjih izkušnjah)? Če nič drugega, bi to prisililo poslance da bi bili na sejah prisotni. Če ne bi bili, bi kaj kmalu ugotovili, da jim vodenje države polzi iz rok. Kar je pravilno – niso plačani za to, da hodijo na golf na Kajmance.

Najbolj preprost odgovor na zgornja vprašanja bi verjetno bil, da se opozicija boji, da bi potem, če bi se vlada zamenjala, zdajšnja koalicija delala natančno isto zdajšnji opoziciji. S čimer a) ni nič narobe, saj si želimo, da bi vlada funkcionirala, ne glede na to kdo je na oblasti in b) se ne bi v resnici nič spremenilo – saj desnica to dela že sedaj, ko je v opoziciji.

Bolj me skrbi, da levica gleda na čas bivanja v opoziciji kot na tak mini oddih – štiri leta mal jamramo kako nič ne moremo in se praskamo po okončinah. Potem, par tednov pred volitvami, pa res zagrabimo. Tokrat gre zares fantje! Skupi stopmo! Ma kdo program? Nima veze, prevedmo enga iz tujine, pa vzemimo tistega izpred štirih let pa ju skupaj skopi-pejstamo pa je! Zdej majo ljudje itak plagiatorja polno potovalko.

Če se vrnem k prezentaciji – počutim se ponižanega, da univerzitetni profesor in minister za kulturo/izobraževanje/etc od sebe da tak zmazek. Neprijetno mi je, da si deliva isto državljanstvo in skrbi me, da me bodo tujci ocenjevali po njem. Kar srh me spreleti, ko si predstavljam odbor v tisti sobi po prezentaciji ko se en aparatčik nagne k drugemu in reče: “Ja je pa lepo povedal, hudiča kako mu jezik teče… (kratka dramatična pavza)… dobr je on, dobr, stručko. Svaka čast. Pa tko jasn je blo vse, kaj je že blo tist s 43 letnim računovodjo pa Harlijem… super, super.”

Obenem se težko izmaknem misli, da je superminister edini ministrski kandidat, ki je svojo prezentacijo javno objavil. Sklepam, da je menil, da je vredna objave. Morda tudi v primerjavi s prezentacijami drugih kandidatov. In to je tisto kar me straši – kaj če je ta predstavitev res najboljša izmed vseh tokrat ponujenih? To pa ne pomeni, da je ta tako dobra, ampak da so ostale še toliko slabše.

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Posted in Izobraževanje, Kultura, Politika, SLO | 15 Comments