Thursday, December 22, 2005

Natural Election

Have you ever looked under a microscope and saw a dancing hamster?

Let me rephrase that:

Is it justifiable to ask a candidate for a public office to withdraw his candidacy in favor of someone else?*

On one hand, no. While a candidate is running, the voter has a choice, and can exercise his democratic right to choose. If a candidate withdraws from elections then in effect he takes away a choice from the voter. Since the withdrawal is being made to help another candidate (and not for, say, medical reason), then he also in effect tries to make the choice for the voter. This effect, if not the intent, is counter intuitive and anti democratic.

On the other hand yes, as it is perfectly feasible (and happened before) that the two ideologically close candidates will split 60%, while the third candidate, representing a minority blessed with near-absence of leaders, will win the elections with 40% of popular vote. If the majority had even more leaders, then the situation gets even worse.

In other words, democratic elections automatically create problem #2, optimal solution to which demands having at most 2 candidates, which turns out to be the problem #1, i.e., non-democratic elections. In fact the Second Round was design to do just that: to force optimization condition, and trade soundness of the solution for completeness. A poor trade.

And this is the dancing hampster, ladies and gentlemen, little question that shows the big inadequacy of modern election system. How can we fix it? What do you think?


* The background:
Very recently Likud (right-wing party in Israel) was having elections for the leader. 3 people were left standing in the end, Netaniyahu, Shalom, and Feiglin. With Netaniyahu keeping the lead, Feiglin, not-so-distant third, but ideologically closer to Netaniahu then Shalom, was urged to withdraw his candidacy in favor of the leading candidate, to solidify his lead, as well as accused of stealing Netaniahu's brownie points, and the otherwise inevitable victory.

Monday, December 19, 2005


After long silence I am returning the the English-speaking blogsphere. Initially I was reluctant to do so, but the endless emails and home visits I was getting from my enormous pull of fans, elevating to threats to my well being, demanding my glorious return... have prompted me to give back some respect, and jump-start a fresh, popular... OK. Enough with the astroturfing. I am back.

Expect the unexpected!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

New blog

I don't like multiplying blogs, but this time my hand was forced, my foot was dragged, and my head was kicked :)
I am registering a new blog on LJ. For now mainly to have an avatar. If the posting thing will progress, it will be in russian, it will be more (but not too) personal, and it will be green.
It's hard to be green.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My little prophecy: the disengagement

Those are extrapolations from what I read in the press. I can be completely wrong.

During the disengagement, at start, things will go according to plan, and huge manpower will be in place to do it. Hamas will bomb until the moment actual transfer begins, and then stop. IDF will let it.
The removal of protesters will quickly take an unexpected turn and will become a chaos - not on palestinian side, on ours. News about events inside will be sparse and contradictory, but they will be on all channels. Mainstream media will repeat everything Sharon will say is happening, which will be far from truth. IDF will prevent cellphones from calling, communication devices from working, and will not let journalists in.
The entire country will stand on a brink of chaos as most police will be out to deal with protesters or in Gaza. With no police around in the *entire country* criminals will go wild. Protesters, on which police will concentrate, will freeze traffic and disrupt whatever they plan to disrupt. Prisons will get filled with jews of all ages down to 13 year olds, and the rest of the arrested will be put in ... yes, there is only one name for it: concentration camps. They will be concentrated in camps. Children 2 - 13 will be taken away from imprisoned parents and put in foster homes or with relatives. Later court will attempt to void rights of those parents to their children, and put them for reeducation in liberal Kibutz.
It is too hard to tell if disengagement will actually happen. All bets are open, and the crazyest things might happen. Ironically, arabs themselves will not expririence much chaos. If autonomy police will try to do anything, they get couple of bullets and quickly chicken out. Hamas will be the most organized force and will make sure everything plays out it's way on the arab side.
If the transfer will be accomplished, IDF will try to stay in the houses for time being. But, as soon as civilians are out, or before, Hamas will resume bombardment. If IDF will keep itself together they will do a large scale operation inside Gaza to stop it. Otherwise they will leave Gush Katif in huge rush, on the heals of settlers themselves. South Lebanon style.

This is my prediction, which might be untrue. I very much hope so.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Nothing new under the sun

I watched a movie yesterday (name didn't stick) about American woman marrying a Muslim and going with him to Iran of the 80s. The movie is western, but Iran is portrayed very well. And what I saw, although it was nothing I didn't know about, was quite a surprise. Before, if someone asked me about Iran I would think "evil ayatollahs", "nuclear warheads", "religious fanatics". That's about all I know about Iran. But when watching the movie I suddenly realized I am looking at something painfully familiar. Something I actually understand. It looked so much like Soviet Union period Russia! Not in big things but in many small details that merge into an atmosphere. The scale of gray everywhere; the poor apartments; the wooden doors; the dirty walls; the attitude of relatives; the job trouble; the patriarchal society (like in Russian periphery); the religious zealotry; the women wearing exact same kerchiefs as Russian orthodox nuns (only in Iran it's all the woman); the dissidents; the "revolution" with it's guardians and beneficiaries; mixture of fear, idolatry, and hate of the "system" in the air; the feeling of a lost generation.
Scary. It has the taste of evil empire in that movie. While I realize that movies distort reality, I also know that it looks real enough. Now, Iran could go down the path of USSR and disintegrate on it's own. But I doubt it. Communists made the mistake of going against Russian orthodox church. Ayatollahs are the “church”. Communists were afraid to use nuclear weapons. Ayatollahs dream to use them as soon as possible. Communists had Regan. Ayatollahs have Bush.
Do the math.

Monday, July 25, 2005


United States Patent Application: 0050156873

This is not a joke. Do not attempt to laught. Microsoft wants to patent smile. Or the computer's "smile face" to be more exact. So smile away, while you can. Soon, you will be able to do so only with MS permission. On Windows? Just agree to the EULA, giving away all but your golden tooth. On Mac? Pay royalties to MS. On Linux? Better smile while you can.

I know I will.

And when the patent is granted, I will be smiling illegali. Because I am a rebel. Because I have no regard for the law. Because I am a danger to the society. Because I want to empeede innovation happening in Redmond. Because I am evil.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005



Today 19th July there is going to be a demonstration in many major USA cities against transfer of jewish population of Gaza strip. List of cities is on the website. See you there!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The right to opinion

It is not a big secret that people often have opinions about things they cannot possibly understand. Such opinions are usually based on second hand information or misinformation, and are nothing more then idle talk by people that don't know any better. On the other hand, there are people that were in the midst of the events, smelled the gunpowder, and formed their own opinion based on first hand experience. So, it should be very simple to make out who has the right to an opinion and who doesn't, right? Not so fast.

For example, what if two people that lived through the same events ended up with opposite opinions? Clearly both had first-hand experience, how come they didn't reached the same conclusions? Maybe their experience wasn't the same? Maybe it is not even about the experience? Take Israel of today. Everyone lives in the same country, but somehow left and right are, to put it gently, in huge disagreement.

Another example. If in order to have an opinion one has to experience the events first-hand, do we ever have hope to know our history? First, just a tiny portion of human history is covered by authors that claim to be witnesses of the events they describe (and way too many of those texts are forgeries, biased or were copied or translated incorrectly). More important, historians that read those originals are not witnesses, and hence are not equipped to separate truth from a lie, let alone to fill in the missing gaps of information! Yet I doubt anyone will claim that good books on history do not exist. Somehow (not often enough) historians do manage to get something right about things long gone and far away. How?

Here is my answer. Every person has his own, built in ability to make out lie from truth and right from wrong. Those who use it, slowly build up a system of values and evaluations. If one tries to at least keep the system self-consistent, lie will always attract lie, and truth will attract truth. The more lies one lets in voluntarily (and there are so many twisted reasons for this to happen!), the more lies will be later added without him even noticing. Our opinions are formed based on those values. The less lies and contradictions exist in the value system, the greater that opinion's right is to exist.

The only way to evaluate other person's opinion for quality is to first evaluate the person himself. This is highly subjective, as our own system of values might be wrong. I personally do not see escape from this deadlock. The only thing we can do is do our best.

In any event, "smelling the gunpowder" is just as valuable to understanding what is going on, as sitting in a bus is valuable to understanding how it's engine works. It can provide some quality info, but only if you know how to read it, and only up to a point.

But then again, this is only my opinion.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Young Monopolist Guide

So, you have an illigal monopoly. Great! Here is a good strategy:
Say you have a monopoly on computer operating system. Adware software makes a lot of money on your customers.
Step 1: Buy the company that creates the best Anti-adware program on the market
Step 2: Bundle the Anti-adware product with your illigal monopoly for free
Step 3: increase price on your illigal monopoly to cover the cost of Anti-adware program
Step 4: Watch yourself becoming the de-facto monopolist in Anti-adware market
Step 5: Buy the company that creates the best adware product on the market
Step 6: Stop blocking (only) it with your monopolistic Anti-adware program
Step 7: Watch yourself becoming the de-facto monopolist in adware market
Step 8: Increase price on your illigal monopoly to cover cost of the adware program
Step 9: Enjoy

For real-world example google for Microsoft. They are now doing just that.

Yellow submarine

This is a keeper. Russian Ortodox church is going to finance ongoing operations of a nuclear submarine. It is called the "St. Georgy the victor". In your face, Bin Laden!

Monday, July 04, 2005


Israeli government just signed a 15 year, 2.5 billion $$ deal to finance terror against itself.

Imagine you live in a desert. The only source of water on your land is a well located right next to the border with your very bad neighbor. So, you give that well to that neighbor as a present. Now you don't have any water left to drink. You are a man of principle however, and will not pay the neighbor for that water because when he was accepting the gift he promised to use the money from selling your water to buy bullets to kill you. Instead, you hire a person to be a middleman between you and your neighbor, and buy the water from him. The middleman, another neighbor, happily agrees although he has his own water to sell you. He wants the other neighbor to buy the bullets.

Back to reality. Once upon a time Barak gave Israel's only source of gas to Palestinians as a present. Now Sharon signed a 2.5 billion $ 15 year deal to buy gas from Egypt. Which signed a 2.5 billion $ 15 year deal to buy gas from Palestinians. Despite the fact that Egypt has a surplus of it's own gas, and has no buyers.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Simple questions

Anybody cares to answer?

General William "Kip" Ward, sent by Bush to middle east to be his right hand in working with Israelis and Palestinians, says that it will take Palestinian autonomy (PA) 10 years to gain control of law, order and it's own armed forces. In middle east things move very fast. Predicting something one week in advance is a very unsafe bet. In 10 years all assumptions general bases his estimation on will be gone 100 times over. In other words "10 years" = "maybe in 10 years maybe never. Not before". Two questions:

1) If PA is not in control who is? And who is going to take control over Jewish settlements that Ariel Sharon wants to evacuate? That's right, Hamas, the real power in Gaza strip. So, why are we doing this again?

2) Is Israeli and US leadership stupid or evil to want to create a sovereign country out of this mess? Worse, Bush wants territorial continuity for this new international entity. It means literally cutting Israel in two in order to create what again?!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Trojan Guards

Seems like the most colorful stories from history of humanity were invented either by malice or incompetence. Only later to become great analogies for events in real life. The story of Trojan Horse is one of those. Troy or no Troy, just how big would it have to be to fit all those warriors inside? How heavy? How did they moved it on rough terrain, on wheels that at the time had no axis because it wasn't invented yet? How clueless would Trojans have to be to not even take a look inside a wooden box of "enough space to fit an assault team" proportions? How clueless did Greeks had to be to leave a defenseless team of warriors in the horse, at the mercy of Trojan stupidity?

In short, Trojan horse was not ment to be. Yet, the idea of "Trojan horse" is alive and kicking. Meet Ariel Sharon. One of the most celebrated heroes in Israeli history. One of the most capable generals Israeli army ever had to offer, the man behind some of the most crucial victories of Israel Defense Forces. Co-founder (with Har-Zion) of the famous counter-terror Paratrooper Unit 101. Inspirer of the movement to settle Judea and Samaria. Co-creator of the major right wing Likud party. National political leader. Prime minister. Nation's savior. A living legend. Arik Sharon, the Man and the Steamer.

From the beginning Sharon's ambitions were very big, and he never was right- or left- wing. For example, in the beginning of his career he almost created a party by unifying whatever he was organizing at the time with radical left wing party of the time. That party eventually backed out after realizing who they are dealing with. So he joined Likud instead.

But long before that he was a soldier of Hagana. Being led by left wing ideologists Hagana was acting against Etzel and Lehi, the other two jewish military organizations of the time. This activity culminated in the sucking of Altalena, weapons-filled ship brought in by Etzel in the midst of the first war with Arabs. During the incident Hagana ("Palmah" at the time) soldiers were ordered to fire on Jewish sailors on the ship. To stop the bloodshed, trying to prevent war between brothers, Etzel soldiers laid down arms without resistance. Name of commander of soldiers that fired on Altalena was by the way Itzhak Rabin. Etzel veterans say if the ship wasn't sunk the entire Jerusalem would be in our hands in 1948...

Another big "activity" of Hagana was so called operation "Season" (1944 - 1945) aka "the hunting season". There was the Big Season, during which Hagana operatives kidnapped undercover Etzel operatives and handed them over into hands of British army. At that time Sharon was going to join Hagana, but did not do so because his father asked him not to. There was also the Little Season. During Little Season Hagana soldiers were only beating up and torturing Etzel and Lehi activists. According to Ben-Ami Zamir, still alive today, Sharon was head of one of such "assault" groups. He walked everywhere with his group and hoe's handle in his hands. Ben-Ami was "lucky" enough to be personally beaten with that handle by the future hero of Israel. Sharon simply showed up at the coffee house he was in, asked for some lemonade, and when Ben-Ami bended to get some, stroke him down. His group then trashed the coffee house, and escaped in a truck...

I wonder if he still keeps that club around.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

King of the Hill

Today's power pyramid in Israel is a little strange. There is the prime minister, who has all the power, and there is the President, who has no power. What is he good for then? A lot!

For some dark and deep reasons, the most ranked (but not the most powerful!) men in (any) country automatically become target for cult of personality. People like to have someone to look up to. Especially if the position was obtained through some obscure rules, rather then elections. Mystery. Almost divine intervention.

When the most ranked man is also the most powerful, problems emerge. Power + Cult of Personality = Dictatorship. USA for example is always sitting right on the edge of that cliff. If not for centuries strong democratic traditions, and "no third term" rule, money with face of Bill Clinton would be the least of our concern right now. Still shadows of president clans hunt American politics. Kennedy's clan. Bush's clan. Clinton's... wife. And so on.

Other countries fall right down the cliff on the very first step. Russia is a great example of how the most ranked/powerful man amplifies his cult of personality to stay in power. That would be difficult if Putin was a mere prime-minister with a powerless president looking over his shoulder.

In Israel President dodges the bullet of cult of personality for the prime minister, and the fact that he is powerless is the best invention of Israeli system, and the best obstacle against people that want to stay in power longer then they should.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Speed Bumps

So, according to some British scientists, light does go slower then light. Sort of. They say they detected that light slows down a bit, after a while. Of course, this will not remove any paradoxes, only add some. After all, the slowing, as I understand, must be relative to the light speed, not me and you. Hum.

I wonder if it is possible that other constants steer of their course. For example Pi or e. Say, at some point, integral of e^n will no longer be equal to itself + C. Or equation who's only imprecision is Pi would be less exact with respect to what it tries to describe, then the precision of Pi itself.

And maybe light doesn't slows down after all.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

"Will Aim For Money"

I have an idea. Someone should pass a law banning people from working as full time journalists, writers and poets.

Take science for example. Scientist does some experiments or computations, and writes a paper. That paper will be published (if it is good) because it is written by a professional in what the paper is about, not by a professional in writing a "paper". If that same person was spending most of his day writing something, he wouldn't be called a scientist, but a charlatan, a daydreamer, a profane... Unless he gets paid. Then he becomes a writer.

I say something smells here. Writers that know how to write but have no idea about things they are writing are like mercenaries - they shoot for fun, but aim for money.

All we need is people who actually know something from their professional experience (be it politics, travels, whatever). Not everybody, just the tiny percentage that has the talent. Then we will have much fewer books and newspapers. Much fewer useless books and newspapers.

And they will be worth reading.

Friday, March 18, 2005

How wonderful it is...

Amazing how people always miss the main point, and just repeat, thoughtlessly, after others. On the title page of "Anne Frank Center" there is a quote from her book:

"How wonderful it is that nobody need to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world"

On the website only the bold part is present, I just happen to remember the rest. But the missing part changes the meaning completely! She wasn't leaving us instructions about what to do. The most amazing thing about what she said is, to me, how happy she was about her discovery. Lets not kid ourselves. Everybody knows that about the world without Anna's help. Nobody cares.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Imagine Apollo 11

Talking about movie sets (see the post below).

There is a conspiracy theory which states that there was no Apollo 11 landing on the moon. It was, the theory claims, staged by Stanley Kubrick, appropriately the guy who shut the "Space Odyssey".

A friend of mine got me thinking. If there was no landing, then how come Soviets never said anything? The telescopes were good enough to confirm or deny the landing. The Soviets sure as hell must have monitored the entire event. And there is no chance on earth they would have let the "capitalist empire" to get away with winning the space race without actually winning it.

Sure enough, Soviets reported the landing. Not even a peeps came from the TV when it was airing photos of American astronauts making their big step for humanity. Not a peeps. Uncle Sam won. We give up.

Not so fast. Turns out, there is a theory Gagarin never went to space too. He was chosen for his smile over the first pilot, Titov (indeed, you don't have to be a pilot to be an actor), got a movie star shot next to rocket, smiled, said "poehali !", and the rocket was lunched. By that time, soviets have already lost dozens of dogs and several pilots trying to beat the Americans. They needed a victory. They could get pictures of taking off rocket easy enough, it just kept falling back after a while. Can be a problem, if you need to show pilot smile after successful landing. So, Gagarin never stepped inside.

Now imagine that Americans found out about this. Imagine, they decided to get even. Imagine, they came to Soviets and said. "Look. You got your movie. Fine. Now let us do ours. Or else."

Just imagine.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

There are no evil deeds 2

Pictures of dead leader of chechen rebels, Mashadov, all over the web. Russian authorities report that he was killed in a besieged bunker from a friendly fire by one of his own bodyguards. Maybe he should have hired lifeguards, or something.
Very soon after Mr. Putin proclaimed that warriors that killed Mashadov should get medals.
I really want to watch him clipping the medal to the bearded pal's heroic Muslim chest.

UPDATE 1: now there are reports that Mashadov wasn't even killed in that bunker but elsewere, and that the bunker wasn't even a bunker but a basement. Or maybe they should call it a movie set?

UPDATE 2: undisclosed source in russian ministry of internal affairs claims that the entire thing was staged. Mashadov, according to him, died of a liver problems.

UPDATE 3: Mashadov's son says Mashadov died in the bunker, but not from bombs. He claims Mashadov died fighting.

UPDATE 4: FSB claims they payed 10 m. $$ for his head. Other reports say he was tortured before killed. I bet.

Funny. So many ways to die. At least, it is one terrorist less.

Monday, March 07, 2005

There are no evil deads. Only evil people.

Reading reports about a raid of two dozens well armed young sportive men on compound called The Bunker, Moscow.

The Bunker is where the headquoters of the Russian National Bolshevik party are located. It is well armored, with an iron door, filled with agitation material, the Bolsheviks themselves, and who knows what else. I am also guessing, in true Bolsheviks party spirit, it is strategically positioned to ease the takeover of the post, the phone, and the telegraph, during the upcoming Bolshevik revolution.

Now, for the irony to live up to it's full potential, one needs to know that "bolshevik" derives from the russian word "bolshe" which means "more". That's because there were more of them, in 1917. The other day it took 25 men to take the Bolshevik Party Bunker. No embrasures were reportedly covered with bunker staff's own bodies in a heroic act of self sacrifice. A shame.

Who were the unsang heroes, cleansing the world of the remnants of the Bolshevik revolution? Depends. They are said to be "concerned citizens in search for their friend, who has disappeared IN (?) the Bolshevik party". Or at least that's how ("truth" in Russian) puts it. They are also said to be Mr. Putin's young followers from the "Nashi" ("Ours") orde...ganization. The same people behind the "Walking Together" pro-Putin org... whatever. Both sponsored from Kremlin's deep pockets. It is unfortunate that exactly the same people are known as Moscow's infamous skeenheads and football hooligans. Or, as some describe them, the PutinUgen.

So, am I happy that bolshevik's ass was kicked by a bunch of government-sponsored Nazis? It is a mixture of joy and eager anticipation. I am waiting for the Bolsheviks to return the favor.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Holly Jibus, It happened!

Just heard reports that Russian government plans to create "Ministry of Love to Motherland".
I emphasize, this is not a joke.
Knowing Russia, there is only one thing an institution like this is going to do.
Make sure your feelings to Motherland are pure, sincere and lasting, and that you can fucking prove it.
More on this later...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Being a nice guy

Every time I watch or read an interview I can't help but wonder how teethless they come. First, the "right question" is almost never asked. Even the sharpest of all only come that close. And when finally that rare "almost the right question" is asked, and the interviewed (of course) is avoiding the answer, with greater or lesser grace... Journalist just doesn't follows up, passes on to a different question, not pressing the issue, just sliding along.
Well, I guess there isn't much new in what I am saying here.

And yet again, every time I read an article on an issue considered "debatable", like religion the rights of Nigerian lesbians, or whatever, I see the same picture. The authors are almost always very careful to keep things civil, not to offend the other side, even if the other side is, say, a terrorist.
Why is that, I wonder?

I think this is because subconsciously we are assuming that if the other person gets offended, he will never talk to us again. How will we ever be able to conduct another interview? Keep the readers around? It is the Syndrome of Hot Stove.

The problem is that journalists and authors forget they are not here to be nice. The point is not to take the interview or write an article. The point is to uncover, report, and analyze the facts. And one can't do that by being a nice guy.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Why Ministry of Offence?

Because it is about time for the offended to take the offensive.

I have not great intentions for this blog, other then to present my personal point of view on different matters. If you find my postings inaccurate, I will be happy to make corrections to get the facts right. If you agree or disagree with me strongly enough to post a reply, you are welcome to do so, and I will reply were appropriate.

Your Minister of Offence