Friday, November 27, 2015

The profession says "good riddance"

Philip Nitschke burns medical certificate and says he will promote euthanasia | Australia news | The Guardian

The infinite information universe?

So, I was in bed last night scrolling through the arXiv papers (I recommend the Android app for this, by the way - it's really good) when I found this relatively recent one:  No Return to Classical Reality.

Here's the abstract, with the important bit highlighted by me:
At a fundamental level, the classical picture of the world is dead, and has been dead now for almost a century. Pinning down exactly which quantum phenomena are responsible for this has proved to be a tricky and controversial question, but a lot of progress has been made in the past few decades. We now have a range of precise statements showing that whatever the ultimate laws of Nature are, they cannot be classical. In this article, we review results on the fundamental phenomena of quantum theory that cannot be understood in classical terms. We proceed by first granting quite a broad notion of classicality, describe a range of quantum phenomena (such as randomness, discreteness, the indistinguishability of states, measurement-uncertainty, measurement-disturbance, complementarity, noncommutativity, interference, the no-cloning theorem, and the collapse of the wave-packet) that do fall under its liberal scope, and then finally describe some aspects of quantum physics that can never admit a classical understanding -- the intrinsically quantum mechanical aspects of Nature. The most famous of these is Bell's theorem, but we also review two more recent results in this area. Firstly, Hardy's theorem shows that even a finite dimensional quantum system must contain an infinite amount of information, and secondly, the Pusey--Barrett--Rudolph theorem shows that the wave-function must be an objective property of an individual quantum system. Besides being of foundational interest, results of this sort now find surprising practical applications in areas such as quantum information science and the simulation of quantum systems.
Here's some more detail from within the paper:

At the heart of classical information theory is the idea of a classical bit – the information revealed by a single yes-no question. Our ability to quantify, encode and transform information has revolutionised the world in countless ways (telecommunications, the internet, computers, etc.), and its study has shed light on the foundations of physics. Central to this is the idea that information does not care how we choose to encode it – we can encode information on paper, in electronic pulses or carve it into stone. For almost all of history our encoding of information has been into classical degrees of freedom. However, Nature is quantum-mechanical and, in recent years, we have begun to use quantum degrees of freedom to encode information. A central question therefore arises: does information in quantum mechanics have the same properties as in classical mechanics?

Now, the state of even the simplest quantum system – a qubit – is specified by continuous  parameters. This means that it requires an infinite amount of information to specify the state exactly. For example, the amplitude α of |0i in the superposition α|0i + β|1i could encode the decimal expansion of π. Thus, at first glance, it seems that that quantum systems can carry vastly more information than classical systems. However, Holevo [22, 42, 43] showed only a single bit of classical information can ever be extracted from a qubit system via measurement. Further, in spite having a continuous infinity of pure states, quantum computation do not suffer from the the problems that rule out analog classical computers [22]. Powerful theorems on the discretization of errors [22] tell us that we do not need to correct a continuum of errors, but only particular discrete types. These surprising characteristics present a basic conundrum: how is it that qubits behave as if they are discrete systems when their state space forms a continuum?

As already discussed, in classical statistical mechanics we can consider the allowed macrostates: the set of probability distributions over some state space Λ of microstates. It is easy to see that these distributions also form a continuum – even if there is only a discrete finite set of microstates. As an example, consider the case of DNA bases, which can be in one of 4 microstates A, T, C or G. The macrostate for a single base is therefore a probability distribution p = (pA, pT , pC, pG), obeying Pj pj = 1 and 0 pj 1 for all j = A, T, C, G. The set of such distributions therefore forms a solid tetrahedron (a simplex) in 3-dimensional space, and there is a continuum of macrostates (see Figure 7).

The fact that qubits behave in many ways like discrete, finite systems would be easily explained 
if perhaps there were only a finite number of more fundamental states – like the finite number  of DNA bases – and if the continuum of quantum states only represented our uncertainty about which one of them is occupied – like the continuum of DNA macrostates. Surprisingly, in spite of Holevo’s bound and the discretization of errors, this cannot be the case: any future physical
theory that reproduces the physics of finite-dimensional quantum systems must have an infinite number of fundamental states.

The paper then goes onto to explain Hardy's proof of this.  It's math-y, and the interested reader (hello?) can go read it in the paper itself.

"Hardy" is Lucien Hardy, who seems to have made quite a name for himself in quantum theory, and is said to have devised a pretty simple proof back in 1992 that quantum physics must be non local.

But the "theorem" referred to about infinite information seems to come from a 2004 paper, which does not seem to be on arXiv.

But there is a 2010 paper by someone (from where, I do not see - another paper just gives a hotmail address for him!) disputing that Hardy is right on this.  He argues that "infinite excess baggage also occurs in classical theories".

Well, what to make of this?

Am I wrong, or I am right, in suspecting that the idea of infinite information being necessary in a quantum universe to be pretty significant for a philosophical understanding of the nature of the universe? 

It seems that Godel's Incompleteness Theorem gets all the attention from a philosophical implication point of view, but perhaps there is another theorem here that deserves similar thought.

Certainly, for the religious, the idea of infinite information tends to be associated with God, so if Hardy is right, does it suggest more of a Spinoza view of God rather than the Catholic view?

Bit deep for a Friday, hey?

Update:   see, when the question is asked at Quora "is there an infinite amount of information in the Universe", most people answer "no".

Thursday, November 26, 2015

As you do...

Man stole brains from former insane asylum and put them on eBay | US news | The Guardian

Let's play "climate change whiplash"!

Only In It For The Gold: Have We Missed the 2C Target Already?

As I have noted before, there's a real "whiplash" problem going on in the lead up to Paris, with some apparent experts pointing out things like how much could be achieved in CO2 reductions even with current technology; how coal may have already peaked in China; how batteries could revolutionise the use of clean energy, etc.

On the other hand, you have posts like the one linked above complaining that by pretending that the 2C limit is achievable when it most likely isn't, scientists are giving false optimism to nations, which leads to them not committing to the degree of effort that really would be needed. 

On the third hand, surely it has to be realised that the long standing enemies of effective policy towards reducing CO2 (the small government/anti regulation/anti tax conservative/libertarians of America) can seize on discussion that 2C is effectively inachievable to argue that there is no point in seeking to limit CO2, and promote instead a foolhardy "aircondition the planet" strategy (that is, the idea to push economic growth as the priority, including by burning more fossil fuels, because it is only by getting richer that the planet can be airconditioned - or geoengineered - fast enough to survive any temperature rise.)

It is a very tricky business, but I would have thought the appropriate response just has to include the following:

a. likely overshooting of 2C doesn't mean you don't seek to limit it as low as possible above 2C;

b. no one has any clear idea how well geoengineering may work and how it may hurt some countries for the benefit of others.  It will only be worth trying once things really are dire, and cannot address ocean acidification in any realistic scenario;

c. don't let pessimism become self fulfilling defeatism.   When strong commitment to environmental action is made, the results are often faster and better than expected. 

The very reasonable Jericho

Cut company tax rate to grow revenue? That's magical thinking | Greg Jericho | Australia news | The Guardian

Alloy news

AM - Scientists say new alloy could revolutionise manufacturing 26/11/2015

Rare that the creation of a new, useful alloy makes the news.  Interesting, though. 

Sounds horrible

I used to make fun of SoulCycle. Now I'm an addict. - Vox

I guess we'll be seeing this in Australia soon enough, if it's not already here.

Speaking of exercise in groups (a concept I've always had trouble with), at the local Council swimming pool last weekend I noticed that the free aqua zumba class is terribly popular, but with about 95% of the participants being distinctly unfit looking middle aged women, 3% younger fitter women, and about 2% men.   Although it is only the start of summer, and it may be that they will be all svelte beauties by the end of the season, I think the more likely assumption is that it gives them the sensation of being useful exercise, when it really isn't.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yet more Spectre talk

A few things I wanted to add:

*  one of the "retro" aspects of the film was some very clear product placement, of the kind that I do not recall from the previous Craig outings, but which used to feature prominently in Bond films  (particularly in the Roger Moore era, I seem to recall.)   The (very unsubtle) Omega watch, for one thing; but I also see (mainly from posters around town, as well a cinema ad before the film) the Sony Experia Z5 smartphone, and a brand of vodka that I can't even recall now.

The Sony and vodka product placement seem particularly pointless to me, given that while the phone might have been on screen several times,  I don't think you could ever tell that it was an Experia at all.  Let's face it, lots of smart phones look pretty similar, and maybe it is just be my lack of observation skills, but it seems odd that you have to have seen the pre-movie (or TV?) ad to recognise the product on screen.

I think the vodka came out even worse.  Or maybe it wasn't even in the movie at all:  but the ad before the film indicated it would be.   All rather odd.

*  I have to admit, the movie did come very close to crossing my "that is such plainly ridiculous science, I cannot forgive it" line that (for example) Goldeneye hurtled over.   (I won't repeat the problem in that movie - I mention it about every 12 months here - but it was unforgiveably stupid.)   The Spectre issue - Q's laptop which (I think) was meant to incorporate an instantaneous DNA analysing scanner.   Now, the movie survives this sequence because it was dealt with so quickly - I'm not 100% sure that this is what it was doing - but even allowing for the impossibility of testing for DNA via some scan, my readers would recall that I posted recently about the incredible unreliability of "touch" DNA analysis, and this was a ring being scanned, about the touchiest thing of all!  In other words, even if the laptop could do it, it would be hopelessly unreliable.  It is a pity that this survived in the screenplay.

*  At a more general level, seriously, why can't studios pay someone sensible (pick me!) to tell them when their plot-crucial sciency-technology bit of ridiculousness is just too ridiculous to stay?   You don't need a scientist to do that job:  just someone who reads enough science magazines and has a good nose for what is just stupid given current technology, allowing for some extrapolation of what might be possible.

Another Spielberg award

Medal of Freedom Awarded to ‘a Class Act’ Group of 17 - The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday to an eclectic mix of Americans from the sciences, arts, sports, politics and human
rights, some of them household names and others who he indicated should be.
Among those honored were such iconic figures as Willie Mays, Barbra Streisand, Itzhak Perlman, James Taylor, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Stephen Sondheim and Steven Spielberg.
There was also the widow of a general who helped other survivors, and a space scientist who was a pioneer in diversity as well as the cosmos.
When a telephone rang during his description of Mr. Spielberg’s many movies, the president joked: “Somebody is calling to see if they can book him for a deal right now. They want to make a pitch.”
And then he made one of his own: “So there’s this really good-looking president,” he started.

Nate Silver is almost certainly right this time...

Dear Media, Stop Freaking Out About Donald Trump’s Polls | FiveThirtyEight

Not much publicity in Australia to this report

The Statesman: 90% disasters are weather-related: UN report
In the past 20 years, 90 percent of major disasters were caused by nearly 6,500 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events, UN spokesman has

A new UN-backed report, entitled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, found that since 1995, over 600,000 people died as a result of weather-related disasters and 4.1 billion people were injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance, Xinhua quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying on Monay.

The five countries hit by the highest number of disasters were the US, China, India, Philippines and Indonesia, said Dujarric.

The report issued by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction  (UNISDR) notes data gaps, saying that only 35 percent of records include information about economic losses.
Libertarian Senator responds:   "But what about bicycle helmets, not being able to get a drink after 3 am, and the amount of tax I'm paying?"

Message to Senator Leyonhjelm

This "look at me, look at me!" tactic of yours in the Senate is unseemly in a grown man.   Also - it doesn't pay off when the response of the great majority of the public is "yeah, look at the *!@%#$*&". 

A burst of "we can do it!" in time for Paris

Researchers suggest airlines could halve emissions by 2050 by making cost-effective adjustments

US could cut per capita greenhouse emissions 90% by 2050, says report

Transportation Emissions Could Be Cut in Half by 2050

Just about the most improbable climate change connection, ever

What Can Nietzsche Tell Us About the Paris Conference?

I guess it's really just click bait, but still.

I'm pretty sure one of the handiest things Nietzsche could advise regarding the conference is "don't catch an STD while in Paris - use a condom!"

Update:  here's a contender for an more dubious, apparently serious, contribution from 2012.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Unreliable advice from the country

Red-bellied black snake bites Mirani woman, cat comes to the rescue - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A 66 year old woman in Queensland was bitten on her hand by a venomous snake for the 5 4th(!) time, and offers this quaint but dubious advice:
"I'm a bit of a pro at this snake business," she said.

"My mum always said it'll be a snake that kills me, so yeah, I'm not really planning on one [a fifth experience], but who knows.

"Just be careful, and wear your glasses when you go outside, that helps."

Ms Thynne said her experience had taught her that if you were bitten by a snake you should "definitely not panic".

"If it's a real deadly looking one, sit under a tree with a cigarette, with a cup of tea and pray, but yeah wrap it up and hope."

What summer camp used to be like

There Were American Nazi Summer Camps Across the US in the 1930s

Crazy times

I find it actually quite disturbing, what is going on in the US at the moment regarding truth and politics.

As the US media notes, both Trump and Carson can fantasise about Muslims celebrating terrorism in New Jersey, and there is no doubt tens of thousands of their followers will believe it happened.

A Republican Congressman can allege, with no evidence at all beyond what goes on at climate change denying blogs by foolish armchair commentators, that there is a grand conspiracy in NOAA to fraudulently change temperature records.  And we know scores of Republican voters will believe it.

Has regard for truth and good will in politics in the US ever been at a lower ebb?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Every explanation except "self indulgent decadence is not good"

I note from The Guardian that there has been some controversy in England around something they call over there a "chemsex" subculture amongst gay men.   This article talks about a documentary on the topic, but the NHS has complained that it is a public health issue given the amount of HIV and other problems it is causing.

Reading the comments that follow the article, there is some well deserved skepticism expressed of the view that gay men get into this because when they were younger and not "out", they didn't really learn about intimacy in the way most people do.    But I have yet to see a comment that uses the word "decadence" in the way someone would have if discussing this years ago.

Whatever happened to politicians and doctors making the rather obvious argument that, if you need or desire a chemical enhancement to make sex more enjoyable than it routinely is while sober and in full control of your facilities, you're putting self indulgent pursuit of physical pleasure on a corrupting and harmful pedestal.    It's a wonder that this has to be said at all, but obviously it does. 

Maybe time to bring back teaching Aristotle to the schools? 

Not entirely useful

I'm not sure what makes Henry Ergas write columns on Islamic integration in Europe and Australia.  He does put up some interesting figures in today's attempt,  but is it really a useful thing to address the matter of immigrants feeling they're discriminated against by telling them in a national paper that they're a bunch of whiners who don't know how good they have it?

Even less useful is the fact that Ergas apparently has no regrets about posting at Catallaxy, a blog which has become a "free speech"  attractant to extreme anti-Muslim sentiment that even Sinclair Davidson has taken to calling "ugly"*.  Perhaps Ergas should read the comments threads, where something like this appeared on the weekend:

and then think about the role his mates might just have in encouraging Muslim belief in discrimination.

*  He won't delete the comments, though.  Or tell his mate Steve Kates that he's a hysterical ratbag when he starts posting about how we are in World War 3 already.   He seems to think it best for festering dung in his own back yard to be left on the ground attracting more flies, rather than disposing of it wisely.   

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Talking Spectre

Caught up with Spectre today.

OK. let's get the reservations out of the way.  Having re-watched most of Skyfall a couple of weeks ago, I can agree that Spectre is not as good a film.  The script of the former was particularly sharp and concise; the movie looked consistently gorgeous;  and it sat well with the sort of story arc that the Daniel Craig Bond had been on.   In this one, by comparison, the script has its moments, but the villain is far too talky and not as convincing;  and the story tries a bit too hard to put some cohesive whole on even pre-Craig elements of Bond.  The look of the film is distinctive - the cinematography seems to have dusty sepia everywhere - and while some of it must be a deliberate link with the theme of Bond living in the shadows, I did miss the clear and often glowing look of Skyfall.   Oh - and that bland and forgettable theme song.  It's funny, but critical reception of a Bond film really does seem to have an awful lot hanging on how memorable that is...

But nonetheless:  this is still an impressive and entertaining film that stands up well as part of the incredible re-invigoration of an out-dated character under Craig.  (I see he is even a producer of the films now - good luck to him.)

I mean, seriously, who would have thought before he took the role that people would view Bond and take seriously its human drama elements?   Sure, I was upset as a 9 year old when Mrs Bond was gunned down immediately after her marriage to that Australian imposter (quite a downer of an ending); but apart from that, there was never any sense of real humanity or loss in any of the Bonds. I also like the way each of these films have fed straight into the next.  As with Pirates of the Caribbean, I can imagine watching them all in quick succession on DVD would be rewarding, because the recurring elements will be fresh in the mind and the unfolding, somewhat complicated story make clearer sense.

The things I liked about Spectre in particular:  Sam Mendes's return as a director - I guess the lesson is that if you want to take Bond seriously as a character, you use a serious drama director.  But the action is also handled so spectacularly well.   The opening sequence in Mexico City is just superb, in particular; but all of the locations scrub up well in this movie.  

SORT OF  SPOILER WARNING:   And despite my reservations about the script, I did like the moral seriousness of the ending, and the note of optimism that Bond is ready to "settle down" and find something more fulfilling in life.  This really is a big turnaround for the character's arc as played by Craig, and in that sense, it really would be a fitting way for him to depart the series.

But if he does, it will be virtually impossible to believe the series will ever repeat the success of this present era.

And PS:  remember, I don't even dismiss Quantum of Solace.  Perhaps that tells you a lot about how much I have liked the Craig reign.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday morning physics

Quantum nonlocality has been getting a good run on the web lately (and here) due to some recent papers confirming its reality. 

Nature has had a feature up discussing in some detail the promising idea (to many physicists, apparently) that quantum entanglement is actually at the heart of space-time:
All that’s needed, he asserted, is ‘entanglement’: the phenomenon that many physicists believe to be the ultimate in quantum weirdness. Entanglement lets the measurement of one particle instantaneously determine the state of a partner particle, no matter how far away it may be — even on the other side of the Milky Way.

Einstein loathed the idea of entanglement, and famously derided it as “spooky action at a distance”. But it is central to quantum theory. And Van Raamsdonk, drawing on work by like-minded physicists going back more than a decade, argued for the ultimate irony — that, despite Einstein’s objections, entanglement might be the basis of geometry, and thus of Einstein’s geometric theory of gravity. “Space-time,” he says, “is just a geometrical picture of how stuff in the quantum system is entangled.”
The story includes some graphics which help, a little bit, but here is perhaps the key one:

Anyhow, the article explains more.

I've also noticed an interesting paper on arXiv by someone from the University of Bristol, of all places.   I think it's fair to summarise his proposal as being that quantum non locality derives from a geometry you can get by fiddling with the "time" part of space-time.   Here's his introduction:
An elementary discrepancy between quantum theory and relativity is that quantum theory is inherently nonlocal, whereas spacetime has the structure of a manifold, and is thus local by construction. The discrepancy is resolved on the level of information, since the intrinsic randomness in the measurement of a quantum state prevents instantaneous signaling (by the no-communication theorem [10, II.E]). This resolution is satisfactory if information is considered to be fundamental [10, III.C].  However, if one considers geometry to be fundamental, then the discrepancy remains.

Here we pursue a possible resolution from the perspective that geometry is fundamental, with the aim that it may shed light on the nature of quantum gravity.1 Just as simultaneity has no universal meaning in special relativity, we propose that a ‘moment of time’ has no universal meaning, and different observers will in general disagree about the ‘duration’ of a single moment of time. In particular, even clocks in the same inertial frame may  disagree. The paper is organized as follows. We first propose a new operational definition of time using the identity of  indiscernibles: we postulate that time passes if and only if a system undergoes a transformation which is not local and invertible. We then show that this postulate is compatible with the thermodynamic arrow of time in a generic example. Furthermore, the postulate results in a spacetime with positive dimensional events, thus giving rise to Bell nonlocality without requiring  retrocausality.

Finally, we examine the ontology of the wavefunction in this framework. In particular, we show that if spacetime events are topologically closed, then the wavefunction is epistemic. Moreover, we find that the preparation assumption of the PBR theorem does not hold using the worldlines of 4-photon entanglement swapping.
 Of course I don't understand all of that, but its sounds rather interesting.

And as for gravity and the detection of gravity waves:   it's good to see via a post at Sabine H's  Backreaction blog that the Parkes Radio Telescope (which I forced my family to visit last Christmas) has been doing valuable work on trying to detect gravity waves via careful pulsar watching.

The sort of sad result, though, is that they haven't found them; which, as Bee says, is "the birth of a new mystery in physics".   Not sure is that is "cool" or not....

Friday, November 20, 2015

A huge year in gaming

My son is more a wannabe gamer than an actual one - we don't own a gaming console, and are refusing to upgrade the desktop so that he can spend even longer in front of it playing the latest hyped games than he does playing games that are 3 or 4 years old, but still good.

But I have to admit - the games companies have done an outstanding job at generating interest this year in two enormous releases - Fallout 4, and Star Wars Battlefront.

The Fallout 4 campaign strikes me as a extremely clever, if not devious, in using whimsical cartoon characters virtually unrelated to the actual gameplay, presumably to calm any concerns of adults that their 10 or 12 year old is going to be sucked into a world of some pretty bloody killing which is inappropriate for their age.

But the Star Wars games have always avoided the exploding blood bag killing style of other games, for which they are to be commended.   And this ad, which I noticed on twitter, is really the most appealing one I have ever seen:

Notice the age group that it is clearly aimed at - more the 20 or 30 year old than the teenager.

And it references the key line in the original Star Wars that always seemed to be one that Christians would most respond to - the reference to letting yourself be struck down as a means to ultimate victory is clearly close to what could be said happened with the sacrifice of Christ.  (Sure, Lucas has famously said that he's from California, where they are all Buddhists, and maybe he didn't even realise the Christ-like implications of the line, but it's there.)

You could even argue that the apparent disappearance of Obi Wan (instead of his body falling to the ground) is a bit like the ascension of Christ, or the (somewhat peculiar) Catholic belief that Mary was bodily taken into heaven.

Anyhow, I think it's a great ad, and there are probably tens of thousands of middle aged men around the world contemplating upgrading their PC just for this game. 

More ISIS stories

I didn't realise that the Middle East had a problem with use of a particular amphetamine drug, and that it is likely helping fuel many of the IS.   And I guess that this is what happens when you ban alcohol:
Captagon has been around in the West since the 1960s, when it was given to people suffering from hyperactivity, narcolepsy and depression, according to the Reuters report. By the 1980s, the drug's addictive power led most countries to ban its use.
The United State classified fenethylline ("commonly known by the trademark name Captagon") as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act in 1981, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Still, the drug didn't exactly disappear.
VOA notes that while Westerners have speculated that the drug is being used by Islamic State fighters, the biggest consumer has for years been Saudi Arabia. In 2010, a third of the world's supply — about 6.3 tonnes — ended up in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters. VOA estimated that as many as 40,000 to 50,000 Saudis go through drug treatment each year.
"My theory is that Captagon still retains the veneer of medical respectability," Justin Thomas, an assistant professor of psychology and psychotherapy at the UAE's Zayed University and author of Psychological Well-Being in the Gulf States, told VOA in 2010. "It may not be viewed as a drug or narcotic because it is not associated with smoking or injecting."
I would say, though, that if IS troops only get through the day by popping amphetamines, this is not the way to keep a successful army going.   I'll claim it as further evidence that IS is weak as a long term prospect.
In other news, there's an interesting article at Bloomberg - Why ISIS Has All the Money it Needs - about the lack of success in shutting down the IS oil trade.   Not sure that I would necessarily believe everything coming out of the Rand Corporation, but still it's worth reading.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Let's be precise about what "weak" means - and does the Right never learn?

I think there is a bit of a silly debate going on around the matter of whether IS, or whatever you call it, is "weak" or not.

This guy seems to know a lot about the extremely complicated ethnic and religious groupings around Syria, and he says they aren't "weak".   And other Right wing commentators - man, have you seen Andrew Bolt, Steve Kates and the  commenters at Catallaxy bouncing off the walls since last Friday? - are calling it a Lefty (hello Waleed Aly) claim to argue they are weak.

But surely this is just a definition thing:  I reckon that most people using "weak"  just mean that IS doesn't have long term prospects as a viable State, as they claim is their aim.   Sure, they are dangerous, both locally and in the encouragement of international terrorism:  but it's at heart an apocalypse inspired movement - and how long do they ever last when their Prophet or Messiah does not appear in the sky as predicted?

I don't even think that acknowledging that ground troops will be needed to remove them totally from captured cities means that they are "strong".  Give any group enough guns and explosives and they are capable of creating major violence and digging in for a long time.  But they are ideologically weak if they think their indiscriminate violence against civilians won't hasten their downfall.

And as for the matter of the need for ground troops - I find it hard to credit that those on the Right could think that it should be Western ground troops in large numbers who need to do the job.   The matter of identifying the "good guys" from the "bad guys" will be incredibly difficult for Western forces, even more so than it was in the original invasion of Iraq;  and have they forgotten the insider attacks on Western military bases trying to train up Afghani soldiers? 

Besides that, the whole conflict is tied up with a centuries old fight between the two main branches of Islam - it's not up to the West to try to sort that one out militarily.   (Although involvement in political negotiations is another matter.)

Are they also not paying attention to the detailed reporting that most IS dimwits believe they are about to have the End Times war with the forces of the Infidel who are going to come to the Middle East for the fight?  This has been explained in parts of the press for many months now, but here is the condensed version, repeated again in the Washington Post a couple of days ago:
According to the group’s extremist ideology, the caliphate will eventually triumph in a great war against infidel forces, culminating in a final end-of-days battle in Dabiq, an obscure Syrian town near the northern city of Aleppo.
The group’s online propaganda magazine is titled “Dabiq.” Each edition features the same prophetic quote about how the conflict will unfold: “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify — by Allah’s permission — until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.”
How much sense does it make to encourage them that this confrontation is indeed about to happen?  ("None at all" is the correct answer.)

As I have made clear before, I don't have a problem with air operations, especially if targetted to isolating IS economically, or even directly on the battlefield when the targets are clearly IS.   And I still don't even feel overly critical of the West's initial decision to invade Iraq, even though it now looks like a (very) bad idea in  hindsight.  (No one can know with full confidence what may have happened if Saddam stayed on - I doubt he was above letting guest terrorists hide out and plan further attacks on the West from  the deserts of Iraq.)

But seriously,  I can't believe that neo-cons or nutty conservatives think that another large scale Western ground invasion in that part of the world is a good idea.

As with climate change, they just seem incredibly resistant to evidence, or lessons, or common sense.