Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Czech Academy of Sciences

... is famous again. But not for what you would expect:

But the IFPI says that the research institute was in fact the unwitting host of a server that powered one of the largest pre-release music archives in the world, and with the help of Czech police, the server and its 4TB of data has been shut down.

Given my insider knowledge into piracy at Czech Universities, I'm not sure that "unwitting" is the right word. Still, 4Tb of pre-release music? Even at 700MB/CD (ie, no compression whatsoever), it is about 5700 CDs. There is that much pre-release music?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Academic success

Arnold King:

My tip on becoming a successful academic is to be careful how you define success. Any tenured professor has a great life by most standards. However, the default sentiment in academia is bitter jealousy. The folks at lower-tier schools think they belong at top-20 schools, the folks at other top-20 schools think they belong at Harvard, and the folks at Harvard think that they deserve more recognition than the other folks at Harvard.

While this is mostly true, it is hardly complete explanation. Academics are usually pretty smart people and they choose their careers for three main, partially exclusive, reasons.
1. They want to have a big impact (bigger than just a fat pocket)
2. They want to have comfortable, un-stressful life
3. They want the reputation associated with "tenured professor" status.

While 2 and 3 are not really interesting for me, the first point is the key. Money are not all for these people, and wages of professors are not that bad, either. The biggest goal is thus different - to make a difference. To push the knowledge forward. To figure out something nobody knows yet.

However, it is hard to succeed. Chances are that you will end up fifty-something, your published research is in the low-rank journals and/or not cited anyway. This is huge failure - you gave up money and other possible success two decades ago and for what? That only a couple of grad students read your paper?


Coming from highly cynical country, I don't expect law to be followed, I expect them to be circumvent. Thus, I found this funny:

Sen. John McCain's campaign has announced that it is asking individuals to donate as much as about $70,000 to accounts that could help his campaign. The cap on donations to presidential candidates is $4,600 per election campaign.

Wall Street Journal

Responsible politicians

One tends to think that those politicians who create big budget deficit are irresponsible. But it's not that simple. Imagine that you are a responsible politician in power. You probably know how you could use the money and you think that your ideas are better than your competitors, right?
Well, if YOU don't spend as much money as possible, the other party will eventually win and they will spend them.
So it is your obligation as a responsible politician to create as large budget deficit as possible.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Watching Sarah Connor's chronicles and reading about Google, I can't stop wondering whether the first worldwide artificial intelligence will not be a military network, but Google's Cloud.
As this report claims Google has about 1 million computers (other estimates generally agree), plugged into the network, reliable, robust, redundant.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Carbon tax and cap and trade

Some people seems to believe that there is a significant difference between carbon tax and cap-and-trade when permits are auctioned off.
The idea that

A carbon tax will never be high enough to do the job.
1. Carbon cap is gradually lowered 80% by 2050.

is plain silly.
Price of permits will be equal to the tax that would do the same job. So if the carbon tax will never be high enough, price of permits will have to be astronomical.
It might be possible that increasing carbon tax without limit would not work (politically). But reducing number of carbon permits so that their price is very, very high should be easy to pass?

As a side note - the idea that CO2 emissions can be lower by 80% by 2050 are plain silly. There are very likely to be significantly increasing costs of doing so - to stop emissions won't probably be that expensive, but each additional percentage of a decrease will cost significantly more than the previous. Of course, you can easily reduce humans' carbon emission by 80% - just kill enough of them. Somehow, I don't think this is what people have in mind.


If you ever need a new identity for a while, this manual how to make fake fingerprints comes handy.

I wish I wasn't so lazy and tried to cheat my own computer. So far, the fingerprint reader resisted all attacks, but I haven't tried anything sophisticated.