21 September 2013

(Some of the) funny aspects of the Academy of Athens, III

This is a followup of two previous postings. Here is part I, and here is part II.

The following article appeared two weeks ago in the daily Greek newspaper Kathimerini. Among other things, he criticizes the Academy of Athens for giving high salaries to its members.
Academy of Athens, Greek Parliament, Church
by D. Gousetis, diongus@otenet.gr, 4 Sept. 2013
Summary: Greek citizens are being taxed very heavily these days, and in an irrational manner. Despite the fact that the Greek State is presumably trying to save money, it allows the Academy of Athens to give salary to its members, at a time when no Academy of the western world does that.  This year, the Academy received, from the Greek State, twice the money it received two years ago and one-and-a-half times the amount it received last year. The Greek state also pays the administrative staff of the parliament, whose number is exceedingly large,  a lot of money. In addition, the Greek State allows the Church of Greece to have assets in real estate. estimated to be around 240 million Euro.
A response was published by the Secretary General of the Academy last week. He claims that the author of the article defames the Academy, is hostile to it, and is a liar.
Reply of the Academy of Athens
by V. Petrakos, Secretary General of the Academy of Athens, 13 Sept. 2013
Summary: The article of D. Gousetis contains inaccuracies originating either from a malicious informant or written by him in order to defame the Academy and produce hostile sentiment towards the institution. All 51 words used in his article are lies.
First: All of the 46 Academy's regular members do not receive salary but travel expenses. Since 2009, the sum given to them has been reduced by 37%  and is taxed at 20%. The Academy of Athens pays no salary to its members because academicians are not employees.
Second: It is incorrect that the public money received by the Academy was doubled since two years ago and increased by 1-and-a-half times since last year. The Academy received 11,080 Euro more than the amount last year and 109,364 Euro less than two years ago and 400,364 less than three years ago. If D. Gousetis knew elementary practical arithmetic he would have been able to explain how a decrease was interpreted as an increase.
In 2011, D. Gousetis had also written inaccuracies in your newspaper regarding the Academy of Athens. Those were corrected [by me] on 25 June 2011. Then, too, he had maintained that the Academicians pocketed an MP's fat salary. It appears that D. Gousetis' problem is his fat ignorance. If he wanted to find the truth, he would have asked for information. But he is uable to follow the scientific method which aims at the discovery of truth and not the defamation of an institution. This institution was first envisioned by the Greek fighters of 1824 [against the Turks], and was realized 100 years later. Now it is under attack by some Greek citizens because they do not understand either Science or Art or Literature.
I have been reading your newspaper since 1945. I never remember such defamation before. What would K. Tsatsos think if he read these things?
For the second time, I must work to correct the malicious inaccuracies published in your newspaper. I implore you, before publishing anything, to inform me first. For me it would be less troublesome to indicate any errors [before publication], rather than have to write a rebuttal in order to re-institute the prestige of your newspaper and avoid tarnishing its objectivity.
A further reply by the author of the original article was published the same day. In it, we read that the secretary of the Academy has, in his reply, not told the truth. This reply is accompanied by exact references to the budget.
by D. Gousetis, 13 Sept. 2013
Summary: I frankly didn't expect the Academy of Athens to behave like a Medieval Monk baptizing the fish as meat. So, salaries are now termed travel expenses. The Secretary General V. Petrakos avoids to mention the [exact] money given to the Academy by the State . However, on 25 June 2011 he admitted that Academicians were receiving reimbursement at the net amount of 1852.47 Euro [per month] for services and moving costs. Salaries were baptized ``reimbursements'' and ``travel expenses''.
How high could the travel expenses be? Regular Academicians are all Athens residents. Taking the bus or the train or the taxi does not cost as much as 1852.47 Euro [per month]. How come this is double the average pension in Greece (921 Euro [per month])? And why is this money given to Academicians without  any documentation? And how come travel expenses are being taxed? [It is salaries which are taxed, not travel expenses.]
The Secretary General of the Academy claims I do now know elementary practical arithmetic because I confuse decrease and increase. Let me refer to the budget of the fiscal year 2013, page 336, code 610, titled ``Academy of Athens and its services''. In it, we read that, in 2011, the amount of 5,996,849 Euro was paid to Academicians. In 2012, the amount was 7,953,000. And in 2013 the estimated amount is 12,053,000 Euro. If, as Mr. Petrakos writes, the money is decreased, I ask him to enlighten us: where does the rest of the money go? Which ``services'' depend on this money? Why is the money given to the Academy being increased when the money given to universities and research centers is being reduced?
Finally, I strongly believe that the prestige of an institution is not being protected by someone who pushes all wrong-doings under the rug in order to present a virtual reality, but by someone who highlights the wrong-doings in order that they be corrected. I estimate that K. Tsatsos would agree with me and would not publish Mr. Petrakos' letter against my article. My article was targeting the lack of responsibility of the Greek government which wastes money at a time when citizens are kneeling from their financial burdens.
Main Question: Who is telling the truth? The Secretary General of the Academy who gives no references, no exact sums, but only appeals to the Greek sentiment using pompous words like ``what would the Greek fighters against the Turks think if they saw this defamatory article of D. Gousetis", or the reply of D. Gousetis who accompanies his claims by exact references to the budget?

Conclusion: Assuming that D. Gousetis' references to the budget and other financial information are correct, the only way for D. Gousetis and the Secretary General to both be right is that the information in the financial documents provided by the Greek State is incorrect. That would NOT be a surprise, given that the Greek State has faked budgets before. But I suspect that this time the money stated in the references of D. Gousetis is correct. The ball is now on the Secretary General to prove that the sources mentioned by D. Gousetis are lying. If so, he will have to prove that the Greek government is lying.

Question 2: Why has the Academy of Athens not withdrawn the book published by the Academician N. Artemiadis, a book which was a blatant plagiarism, when every bookstore, and the publishing house of its English translation have all withdrawn it?

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What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant