Archive

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Darth Vader is iconic and doesn’t need explanation.

People feel at ease though when the obvious is being explained so let me make you feel at ease. The universe is filled with a Force that Jedi knights apply to the Good. Anakin is very sensitive to the Force and becomes the chief Jedi, but he appears to have essential weaknesses and the Force corrupts him. He turns into Darth Vader and becomes the chief villain of the evil emperor.

Robbert Dijkgraaf may become iconic if he really turns into Darth Vader. He is departing as President of the Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and becomes director of the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton.

When Albert Einstein fled from Nazi Germany he came to IAS.

Also Kurt Gödel settled down there, and walked with Einstein.

I have my doubts about these two gentlemen. My book Conquest of the Plane section 14.2 discusses that when space has been defined then we lose freedom to redefine it again. The human definition of space is Euclidean. We imagine non-Euclidean geometry (say on a sphere) within Euclidean definitions. Einstein’s mathematical manipulation of space is actually a way to deal with measurement problems, and it is not warranted that this is a good way. My book A Logic of Exceptions chapter 9 shows that reasonable assumptions cause the Gödeliar to collapse to the Liar paradox that can be solved with three-valued logic, so that Gödel’s conclusions only apply to artificially weak systems.

These reservations about these two gentlemen must be seen in perspective. We might criticize Aristotle that he hasn’t developed differential calculus so that his books have less relevance today. But this is silly. Aristotle is one of the great geniuses of mankind so we must appreciate his results within the framework of his time. Perhaps the same holds about Einstein. He died only recently so we may need some more centuries to get a proper perspective. At least I do since I don’t claim to understand modern physics at this moment. About Gödel there is more room for doubt since it is at least as likely that he was a deluded mathematician. But of course I may be wrong. Anyhow, these two gentlemen have greatly contributed to the high standing of IAS in academic culture.

We can identify the Force with Science. Thus scientists can use Science in the service of the Good. Subsequently there is Robbert Dijkgraaf (Anakin) who is very sensitive to Science and he got elected to be President of KNAW (becoming the chief Jedi).

I wrote him a message about the censorship of science by the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB). Dijkgraaf did not respond and didn’t do anything. Legally, the CPB does not reside under KNAW but under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Nevertheless, KNAW has a role in Dutch society to watch over the integrity of science and it is not unreasonable to expect that Dijkgraaf should step in, and urge the government to deal with the case of integrity of science at CPB. None of this.

Thus in my experience Dijkgraaf has failed as a scientist and President of KNAW. Integrity hasn’t been defended where it mattered most. Dijkgraaf opted for his own agenda. He has the essential weaknesses of vanity and fear (for fear). He paraded all over Dutch television promoting science but it was a farce because he allowed the government to destroy the integrity.

The IAS loved the show and loved to have Dijkgraaf. Has it turned into the Evil Empire ? The IAS exists by cherry-picking apparent winners and then advertising how good they all are. It is not clear whether this breeds a critical scientific attitude. The Institute states: “For 2012-2013 the theme will be Economics and Politics”. They would need my book DRGTPE on the failure of the Trias Politica and the necessity of an Economic Supreme Court. But it is unlikely that they use it because of the censorship in Holland. Will IAS criticize Dijkgraaf’s performance in Holland ? IAS will put out corrupted science.

PS. The IAS Institute Letter Fall 2011 announces the appointment of Dijkgraaf and also discusses the “continuum hypothesis”. Trained logicians have brainwashed themselves into irrationality, and are like a sect worthy of antropological research. See also my papers Contra Cantor Pro Occam and Neoclassical Mathematics for the Schools.

PPS. I wrote the editor of the IAS Institute Letter about all this but haven’t gotten an answer.

Advertisements

In the evolution of mankind there is a curious competition between the Prince and the Priest. The Prince bases his power upon the strong men, the knights of armour, the mafia mob, the army and police. The Priest foretells the paths in heaven, interpretes the astrological signs, reads the goat entrails, baptises the children and performs the rites of passage into the other world. In some cases the Prince is stronger than the Priest, and pays him with bread and wine to cement his power. In other cases the Priest is stronger than the Prince, and pays him with meat and beer to cement his power. In some cases Priest and Prince are united in one person and then he can pick his meal.

Traditionally there are three Estates: clergy, nobility, and the commoners (a.k.a. peasants). Charlemagne sent out his officials in pairs, clergy and secular. Yet he got his crown only from pope Leo. Apparently he held annual meetings with his “important men” (wikipedia). When parliaments developed they had those three estates in three Chambers. The dukes of Burgundy establised the States General in 1464. The separation of church and state apparently started with Martin Luther 1528.

In the French Revolution in 1789 the Chamber for the clergy was abolished. Apparently the high priests had committed high treason.

My suggestion is that the Priest could have developed into the Scientist. Studying the stars and wondering about the future could have become a serious enterprise. Many priests like Thomas Aquinas indeed had such imagination. Sadly the Priest failed. The wine tasted too good, the stars looked nicer at leisure. Rather than developing hard science, the Priest relied on magic with “hocus pocus” (thought to be derived from “hoc est corpus, Pilato passus”).

The Priest thus committed treason with respect to his historical and evolutionary role in society indeed.

In an alternative history, the Priest could have become the Scientist, and we would still have that third Chamber. We could call it the Economic Supreme Court. It would play an important role in scientific advice for government.

Thus, adaptation of the Trias Politica and installing an Economic Supreme Court would actually be a repair on the flow of history.

Si no è vero è ben trovato.

(One drawback to this tale is that some people might think that economists already are our high priests and that they committed high treason again.)

My proposal to use the name “Archimedes” for Θ = 6.283… got a reply from Peter Harremoës from Denmark. Peter argues that engineers and artisans in Archimedes’ time found it more efficient to measure circles by their diameter d and not with the radius r = d / 2, so that Archimedes calculated π = Θ r / d = Θ / 2 = 3.141…. Hence the latter number is called Archimedes’ number, historically. Peter discovered that the Persian mathematician Jamshid al-Kashi in 1424 apparently was the first to use 6.283… as a separate number. Hence Peter suggests to use Al-Kashi’s constant τ, where he also adopts the symbol tau as do Robert Palais, Michael Hartl and Vi Hart as shown on my proposal page.

Bear with me. I have been aware of Archimedes’ historical position, see the proposal text indeed. The point is that there is only one mathematical constant. The values 6.283… and 3.141… are mere transforms of the same constant. Thus we should select only one name. Moreover, Θ / 2 would be vocalized as “one half Archimedes” such that Θ is a unit of account and not just a number discovered by some person.

It may be fun to say that Isaac Newton discovered one Newton and Alessandro Volta discovered one Volt while Archimedes discovered only one half Archimedes, but that would stretch what we mean by a mathematical constant. Archimedes really was the first to determine the mathematically correct way to catch that mathematical constant. So, there is no conflict between using the Archimedes as the unit of account and accepting that 3.141… was historically seen as Archimedes’ number.

Subsequently, Archimedes’ reasoning was didactical, since he adopted the common usage in his day of the diameter. We have switched to the radius so let us switch consistently. Perhaps Al Kashi was instrumental in that switch but he was aware of Archimedes’ important discovery and I like to think that he would agree that Archimedes receives all honour.

I have really thought deeply about tau. I really don’t mind what is actually chosen as long as it works best in education. I considered tau independently from the others but rejected it because it looks too much like r. The capital theta looks nicely like a cirle. The little mark in the center is not a slash like for the diameter or crosssection Ø. My proposal is that we research what works empirically best in education.

It might be a nice idea to put the choices up for an opinion poll. The true vote would be to use either current π or one of the alternatives for 2 π. But this vote would be biased when there is a difference in opinion about what that alternative will be. A vote now cannot be decisive since it is a matter of empirical research. However, voters can have an opinion about what should be tested in that research, or have a forecast about what would work best, at least for themselves. Thus, an opinion poll can be somewhat informative.

See this page for the vote.

You may also include this script in your webpage, but I haven’t found out yet how to do that in this blog… <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://www.easypolls.net/ext/scripts/emPoll.js?p=4f5619a1c2e1b0e4901bc494″></script&gt;

Dutch tolerance, in sofar as it exists, might be traced to the early middle ages when Holland was rather unruly and the Dutch learned in the hard way that fighting was dumb and bargaining was better. The dykes are a result of co-operation and not a cause for it.

Justice and the records of property have a role too. Amsterdam city hall, built between 1648 and 1665 and now in function as a royal palace, contains the “vierschaar“, the square formed by spanning ropes in germanic legal tradition where court took session. Jonathan Israel traces radical enlightenment to Spinoza (1632-1677) living in relative tolerance in Holland, see also Israel’s new book Democratic Enlightenment. The English 1688 Glorious Revolution also was a Dutch invasion that brought stability, more freedom and commercial power to England, and from there over the globe. Holland was the first nation to recognize the United States of America in 1776. The Dutch image has become tolerance and openmindedness.

Yet “apartheid” is a Dutch word. The Dutch North above the Rhine was protestant and it considered the catholic Dutch South below the Rhine with apprehension. Dutch cities blocked slave traders from bringing slaves to Holland as unchristian but allowed the human trafficking to America. In the 20th century Holland stuck to the gold standard too long. Holland closed its eyes to the rise of fascism in Germany and seriously hoped that it could remain neutral in World War II. Regaining its freedom after the war, Holland started a colonial war in Indonesia to block their freedom. In 1954 catholic bishops wrote a “mandement” forbidding the vote for the social democratic party. Also today we don’t see true tolerance and openmindedness but this Taliban mixture of principles and partial blindness. The policy on drugs allows sales in “coffee shops” and neglects the supply from a criminal netherworld. The policy on the red light districts neglects the human trafficking in a supposedly free country. The lack of true tolerance and openmindedness is especially problematic in the political landscape.

Perhaps the Dutch South now acts in ressentment toward the Dutch North, as a boomerang for ages of contempt. Maxime Verhagen, the leader of the christian democrats (with 14% of the vote), comes from the South and has a surprisingly strong apprehension towards the Dutch social democratic party PvdA (with 20% of the vote). Xenophobic Geert Wilders (with 16% of the vote) comes from the South with a strong electoral base there. Verhagen is proclaimed pro-EU and Wilders is anti-EU but these Southerners are united in priority against the social democrats.

Wilders has an agenda against a “tsunami of islamism”, throwing Greece out of the eurozone or return to the Dutch florin, abolishing international development assistance, and maintaining various national arrangements behind the dykes. A recent gimmick is the website for complaints about migrant workers from Eastern Europe. A website of Southern Dutch against Northern Dutch might have some success too. There is also a national-socialist party SP (with 10% of the vote) that has a nationalistic course like Wilders but without the xenophobic card though there were some flirts in the past. PvdA is a member of the international PES but SP is not.

If we want to understand the current crisis in Europe then it helps to see that Holland helped cause and prolong it because of its lack of tolerance and openmindedness.

Holland has been running an export surplus for 30 years, fueled by a low wage policy that effectively exports unemployment. Ten years ago Germany started to copy that example. The export earnings of Northern Europe were loaned to Southern Europe. The EU Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) doesn’t monitor trade balances and it doesn’t check whether loans are invested wisely. The crisis needled the financial bubble in the South. Now it may needle inflated Dutch ego’s. But the Dutch can be hardheaded. Vested interests in Dutch internal closed market and spoiled external markets have been able to shield off changes for 30 years. They may continue to resist change. The Dutch may opt for ever lower wages to increase competitiveness, and this race to the bottom will aggravate the depression in Southern Europe.

In the crisis since August 2007 the Dutch government opted for austerity rather than tackle the internal vested interests and taking active countermeasures in investments in the home market. First there was a coalition of christian and social democrats that relied on automatic stabilizers. Since Fall 2010 there is the tougher austerity course by the minority government of conservative Mark Rutte and christian democrat Maxime Verhagen, and supported by xenophobic Geert Wilders.

While Wilders opposes the policy of keeping Greece in the eurozone and transferring sovereignty to Brussels, the social democrats have been supporting this. The social democrats oppose the minority government but kept it afloat in the pro-EU line including the austerity. The social democrats didn’t see an alternative, wanted stability in the financial markets and avoid a total collapse.

The Dutch social democratic party is a member of the international PES but still makes a distinction between worker families in Holland and those in Southern Europe. François Hollande, the French socialist presidential candidate, opposes the EU austerity programme, and will wonder why the Dutch social democrats didn’t use their leverage to cause a breakdown of the Dutch minority government and to block the EU austerity policy. There doesn’t seem to be a strong rational reason for the behaviour of the Dutch social democrats except for the gut feelings mentioned above. Partly they are pro-EU and they tend to adopt anything that the EU invents, also the compacts by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. Partly they seem to be defenceless against the populist apprehension against spoiled Greece and Berlusconi. Partly they belong to the vested interests who in their blindness think that the Dutch low wage policy is the only way to fight unemployment in Holland. One element is that the new financial and economic spokesman of the PvdA since 2010 is Ronald Plasterk, a professor of biology but now a politician in blind ambition who is clearly deficient in his command of economics and finance.

Policy results were the EU commissioner for the national budgets, no bail-out for Southern Europe except for the stability funds and the “private sector involvement” (PSI) in Greek debt, and the December 2011 compact on stricter deficit rules (“Schuldenbremse”). Results were also more unemployment, less growth, some risky transfer of sovereignty to the EU, ressentment in the EU, and the ECB cheap credit line for 3 years for EUR 1 billion with some risk of zombie banks and lack of clarity where we will be over three years.

Last Friday the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) forecasted a Dutch deficit of 4.5% over both 2012 and 2013. Cutbacks of 1.5% are required to reach the target of 3% while the Schuldenbremse requires a structural level of 0.5% later on, not counting negative multipliers. With a GDP of EUR 600 billion the 1.5% would be at least EUR 9 billion. With a population of 16.7 million it would be EUR 540 per capita. National debt stands at 70% of GDP but Holland has a large banking sector and the crisis support funds are kept off-budget. Holland currently has a double dip recession and the cutbacks will not help quick recovery. The challenge of 1.5% is much less than for e.g. Greece or Ireland. Especially given the earlier tough position, the Dutch can only comply to the new rules and adopt austerity themselves.

If Holland had true tolerance and openmindedness, it could have adjusted its trade policy and could have presented an alternative to the current EU policy. A sound voice from the North could have done wonders where Southern Europe is forced to silence by dependency. Sadly, Taliban aren’t easily converted, and they have a world view to defend.

PM. Related blogs: Pillars of Dutch politics and An economic plan for Europe

Consumers in the USA may have little affinity with the boycott of Holland for the freedom of thinking for economic science in Holland. A change of heart does not happen by itself. It took a lot of effort by Ralph Nader to bring more safety to the car industry, and also to get George W. Bush elected above Al Gore. So, this text addresses yet unknown Americans, to take up the challenge to inform the US public about this worthy cause. Remember: the best advice economic theory can give is to boycott Holland till freedom of expression reigns.

The relevance of the boycott for the USA is already explained in these texts: DRGTPE itself that presents the economic theory and this blog text on the economic synthesis. These come with the suggestion to extend the US Constitution with an Economic Supreme Court. America could resolve its unemployment.

America may also wonder about the deadlocks in American policy making, for example on the debt ceiling. President Obama as a Democrat faces a House with a Republican majority. The elections are not synchronous and each have a different electoral mandate. A two-party system with district voting is less democratic than proportional representation that allows many views and parties. The USA has a presidential system with a direct election of the President. This appears to be less democratic than the European system of a proportional parliament that elects its Prime Minister. In that case there is only one mandate, namely for the House.

See for example my book Voting Theory for Democracy, and its reference to the Bush, Gore and Nader election. In a parliamentarian system Gore would likely have won, and we likely would not have had the war in Iraq.

For Americans I would advise: read Thomas Paine. The Declaration of Independence called for freedom but didn’t abolish slavery though Paine worked hard for it. This error led to the Civil War. Try to work toward a good system of democracy because errors come back with a vengeance.

I was a foreign exchange student in Burbank Highschool in 1972-1973, during the Watergate hearings by senator Sam Ervin. Many years later, when I discovered Henry Miller and read The air-conditioned nightmareI was amazed to see that he somehow ended his journey in Burbank. Miller’s observations are sharp but not the whole story of the people actually living there. Next year there could be that 40th year Class of ‘73 Reunion. Hopefully the boycott of Holland is then under way or perhaps I might bump into someone who could turn it into a good film.