Just me

One of these guys is me. Here's a hint. I'm the guy in the Cubs hat.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 7:31 pm  Comments (2)  

iPhone

This post was sent via my new iPhone,which, by the way, is way cool! I will report more later when I figure out what I am doing. It is the toy I could not live without.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 1:16 pm  Comments (2)  

Attack: oh, really

From Reuters:

BERLIN (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has told a German magazine that the United States has too many problems in Iraq to become involved in armed conflict with Iran.

Military action is sometimes discussed in Washington as an option in trying to derail what it sees as Iran’s drive to develop nuclear weapons.

The United States “is not in a position to get into a new military conflict,” Mottaki was quoted as saying in an excerpt of an interview to be published in Focus magazine.

“170,000 American soldiers can guarantee neither their own safety nor the security of Iraq,” he said.

Like it or not he’s right. All the armchair generals in the Bush Cult can’t change the fact. That won’t keep people from talking tough though.

Human nature is infinitely fascinating.

Published in: on July 29, 2007 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Iraq: the champs

Iraq won the Asian Cup football final. Good for them. Let’s celebrate and hope nobody takes advantage of it.

Published in: on July 29, 2007 at 8:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Is there such a thing as the Bush Cult?

Cult: 1. A system of worship or ritual, 2. A religion or sect considered as false, 3a. Obsessive devotion to a person or principle. 3b. The object of such devotion.

American Heritage Dictionary fourth edition.

Is there such a thing as the Bush Cult? Of course, there is. I would have thought it was obvious by now.

Trust me; I once was religious and conservative a long time ago and far, far away. The Bush Cult, despite their pretenses, is neither religious nor conservative.

Pretense: 1. A false action or appearance intended to deceive. 2. A studied show; affectation. 3. A feigned reason or excuse; pretext. 4. An outward appearance. 5. A claim, esp. without foundation. 5. Pretentiousness; ostentation.

American Heritage Dictionary fourth edition

You know; the cult that pretends—like Bush Cult.

Published in: on July 27, 2007 at 10:17 am  Comments (2)  

Liar, liar, pants on fire

Let’s not waste too many words on the patently obvious. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a liar. He’s part of the Bush Cult so we do not set high expectations for him when it comes to trivial matters such as the truth.

Read F.B.I. Chief Gives Account at Odds With Gonzales’s (NYT).

The director of the F.B.I. offered testimony Thursday that sharply conflicted with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s sworn statements about a 2004 confrontation in which top Justice Department officials threatened to resign over a secret intelligence operation.

Each time you hear the Bush Cult is doing something for national security reasons, you should substitute Bush Cult reasons for national security reasons.

After all, they are liars, or the most innocent are hopelessly deluded and easily led astray.

Published in: on July 27, 2007 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  

One Life

The Iraq football team stands one victory away from being the champions of Asia, not a small feat. At least 50 Iraqis are dead because they were celebrating that feat.

They are not in heaven and they are not in hell. They are gone; they return to the dust from which they arose.

We only have one life. Too bad more people do not embrace the idea.

Published in: on July 25, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iraq: very sad news

From Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The death toll from two car bombs in Baghdad that targeted Iraqis celebrating the national team’s win in the Asian Cup semifinal on Wednesday has reached 50, police said.

They said 135 people had been wounded in the two blasts.

About the only thing to say is motherfucker.

Published in: on July 25, 2007 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iraq: Wonderful Victory

The Iraq soccer team beat South Korea to make it into the Asia Cup championship game.

Hook ‘Em, Iraq!

Published in: on July 25, 2007 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

A point of order, please

At first public sentiment was for the Iraq War and Occupation; now it has soured on the endeavor. When public sentiment was for the war, the public got war. Now that public sentiment has soured, the public gets war too.

It is strange how that works. Well, maybe, not so strange.

Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 10:35 am  Comments (1)  

All Aboard

The generals have a new plan for Iraq: US is seen in Iraq until at least ’09 (NYT).

The gist is that troops will remain in Iraq through 2009. The report does not guarantee success or troop withdrawals before that time. The basic assumption is that the warring factions in Iraq will accommodate a political solution during that time.

This is no big surprise if that really is what is in the plan. It sounds like a long shot gamble.

President Bush probably finds it reassuring. He conveniently is not running for election in 2008.

The question is what the Republicans running for Congress will actively support and publicly admit. How many will jump on the train? The train most likely will leave the station at less than full capacity.

Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  

My eyes glazed over

Edwards’s Riemann’s Zeta Function, although over thirty years old, remains an indispensable guide to early work done on the open questions in Riemann’s 1859 paper and the Riemann Hypothesis in particular. The problem is that the mathematics in it makes my eyes glaze over. Each time I read it, I get frustrated.

Maybe that is as it should be. Why study easy things? Are we learning anything when the problems are too easy?

Frustration and loneliness must come before understanding.

Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  

The Riemann Hypothesis, mathematics community, and automatons

During the past several years, I have grown fascinated by the Riemann Hypothesis. The real mathematics of the problem makes my eyes glaze over even though I have an undergraduate degree in mathematics. People have published several popular expositions on the problem over the past several years; I have read four of them. That helps in getting the gist of the work on the problem before and after Riemann. The Internet has good resources on the problem also.

I wonder why my fascination with the problem has not burned itself out. For one, the mathematics community makes it easy for me to explore the problem to any depth I want. I view the mathematics community as a wonderful computer at my disposal. The great mathematicians of the past and present create new mathematics and publish it. With the Riemann Hypothesis, the worlds most famous and important unsolved math problem, many people act as interpreters of the mathematics and publish the interpretations. I ask the computer to show me a paper, or I buy a book with the real mathematics in it. I read it. Something interests me. I ask the computer to find me someone who has interpreted the mathematics in terms of what I can understand. The computer spits out several articles or books by interpreters; I read the articles on the Internet or study the books.

In essence, for me, the mathematics community is an automaton at my disposal. I can enjoy contemplating a problem such as the Riemann Hypothesis without ever having to do any work except study the work others have done on the problem.

The Riemann Hypothesis is about how many primes are less than a given number. Now that is a problem deceptively, even viciously, easy to understand. After that, things turn difficult in a hurry. Yet I enjoy trying to prove certain results on my own. That goes nowhere, yet I get the sense of just how difficult the problem is. I appreciate more the work of mathematicians.

The same might be the case with art. I cannot paint, but I could try to copy a painting I like just to see how difficult it is to produce that painting. The community of artists is an automaton also. I punch a button, out comes something I like.

Anyway, I need to punch some more buttons on my mathematics community automaton. I enjoy it. Maybe, more patterns and connections will form in my mind.

Like it or not, we all use each other as automatons more than we care to admit.

Published in: on July 22, 2007 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Golly, two more months. Time to lift the sheets.

You don’t have to lift the sheets too far to see what is going on in bed. When it comes to the Iraq Occupation, a simple Reuters article will do.

President Bush now wants to move his real assessment of the Iraq situation from September to November.

The best part is that he wants a spending bill passed right away that gives US troops more equipment and a pay raise. Of course, this was never on the radar screen until it appeared that support for his war and the support of the Republican Party were about to implode to an infinitesimally small size. The whole thing smacks of political opportunism.

I liked this paragraph best.

Another general, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin, who commands U.S. troops in Iraq’s Anbar province, said Iraqi security forces will need at least two more years of mentoring and support.

Golly, isn’t Anbar supposed to be one of the bright spots these days?

After over four years of fighting, how is it possible that a military assessment in Iraq can take a half a year to put together? What exactly are our military leaders using for intelligence to carry out everyday operations?

The Bush Administration has always been short on project management skills unless its goal is to obtain some political advantage. The current ploy of asking for a couple of more months attempts to divert attention from bringing the troops home. Any new assessment, if it contains a modicum of truth, will say that it will take years of occupation to turn the situation in Iraq around and even then, the goals remain sketchy at best.

Of course, if the goals are to secure Iraq’s oil fields and operate them under the control of US companies, you have at least one clear mission statement. You might deplore the mission, but all the cards expose themselves on the table.

If the Bush Administration had not flip flopped so many times in its mission statement some of those who oppose the war might still be in the Bush camp. (To me that is a scary thought.) If the occupation was several months old rather than years old, pleas for more time to publish a report two months behind schedule might go unnoticed.

Iraq is not a secure place to live and work or raise a family. Anyone with the wherewithal to get out of Iraq has done so. The Iraqi security forces are no more ready to take over security than they ever were. The democratically elected government is nothing but a hollow governing body along with being hostages in the Green Zone. No institutions are in place to make Iraq a western style liberal democracy.

Poll numbers indicate that the vast majority of Iraqis want the US troops to leave. Of course, you can always trot out anecdotal evidence to the contrary, but the polls are designed to get at the hard and uncomfortable facts of popular opinion. Anecdotal evidence is a pure political play.

The American public votes for troop withdrawal. The Bush Administration increases the troop levels. Public opinion against the war increases. The Bush Administration drags it feet.

As an ex-Marine, I can assure you that combat assessments do not proceed at the glacial pace the Bush Administration would have you believe. Many lives and the chances of victory depend on the speed of analysis. After more than four years, the analysis is there, the politicians just don’t want it published.

Given the Bush Administration manipulative skills, skills the Bush White House is so notoriously famous for, don’t expect the hard facts to arise from any military report. No matter what report comes out, you will have to lift the sheets to see what is going on in bed.

Published in: on July 21, 2007 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Art, Mathematics, and Beauty

I was sorting and filing some old papers yesterday when I came across a bunch to do with the Riemann Hypothesis. I read some of them again, for what reason I do not know. On the surface, it seemed like covering old ground for no purpose. I lost myself in them anyway.

I noticed connections I had not seen before. I worked out a few equations with question marks beside them. Since last looking at the papers, I studied basic complex analysis more thoroughly than I had before. That helped my understanding too.

I am a little surprised I can do any mathematics at all. I suppose my yearly treks into mathematics blows some of dust off the bottle. What does surprise me most is that I still lose myself in a piece of mathematics and that I still find it beautiful. I mean beautiful such as fine art in a great museum.

The best trick with any piece of mathematics no matter how elementary is finding the beauty in it. Once one feels the beauty one gets the odd sense that one cannot easily discriminate whether the author who originated it discovered it or created it. The question gnaws and nags. The beauty, however, embraces no matter what.

Let us say you think Van Gogh’s Starry Night is a beautiful painting. I do not get it. Over the years, I pass the painting in the museum, yet it does not touch me. One day when I am blue and forlorn, idly walking through the museum, I stop before the painting. It touches me; tears well in my eyes. It touches me ever as much as you once did.

Let us say I think Euclid’s proof that there are an infinite number of prime numbers is beautiful. I explain the proof to you. It leaves you cold and wondering about my sincerity when it comes to discussing beauty. One day you are blue. You remember me fondly, quirks and all. You take up Euclid’s proof one more time because of me. It touches you; tears well in your eyes.

You cannot have art without mathematics, nor mathematics without art. They are part of the imagination, our beautiful imagination, existing in an inexplicable universe of beauty that sometimes touches us at the most unexpected moments.

Published in: on July 20, 2007 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  

The Republican Filibuster: applying more lipstick to the pig

I had every intention of getting a good night’s sleep the other night after having made yet another late night of it the day before. I made the mistake of tuning into the Republican filibuster debate in the Senate, which kept me up most of the night and held my attention in the morning.

I particularly enjoyed Senator McCain’s candidness. He recognizes that the majority of the American people want a withdrawal from Iraq, but he cannot side with them. He knows history will vindicate decisions to keep on going the way we have. You see, he has an elite mind, a mind so penetrating you have no need of a crystal ball when predicting the future of Iraq. Trust the few elite minds such as his to stay the course without amendment and everything will turn out right someday.

Let’s face it, the unmitigated disaster known as the Iraq Occupation arose from the thinking of elite minds such as Senator McCain’s. You can put as much lipstick on the pig as you please, but the pig, Senator McCain’s elitism, is still a pig.

I thought the Republican filibuster was a rousing success for opponents of the Iraq Occupation. Republicans were never able to point to one substantive improvement in Iraq. The Democrats forced Republicans to go on record with tired old phrases such as “cut and run,” at which point the Democrats called them on it to Republican embarrassment.

Then we got Senator McCain’s wonderful statement as to his elitist ability to understand historical inevitability. All this from a man who helped architect and support the debacle has me laughing.

I saw the best-damned TV show so far this year.

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Where’s Big Mo? The Cubs, the White Sox, and Iraq

I have been wagering on Cubs and White Sox baseball everyday, and I am doing well. I usually do not do well when it comes to betting on baseball. However, the Cubs are hot and the White Sox cannot hit and have a, sorry to say, terrible bullpen. The White Sox built an early 11-2 lead in last night’s game, and then held on to win 11-10.

In a way, I am going with the momentum—parlay the Cubs to win with the White Sox to lose and make straight wagers on the Cubs to win and the White Sox to lose—most of the time. I have no qualms about betting against either team, but the Cubs are difficult to bet against right now. Those three bets even work as a kind of hedge since I only crap out if the Cubs and White Sox both lose.

I am riding the Big Mo on Chicago baseball.

So where is Big Mo at in the Iraq Occupation? After over four years of the US rolling the dice, the dice have crapped out each roll. One might suppose the dice are loaded. The US cannot win the game.

The very situation the US military presence is supposed to correct creates the condition for failure. Al Qaeda fighters stream into the country because that is the easiest place to kill the US military. Terrorist leaders could not have asked for any better situation than the Iraq Occupation.

It is time to get some new dice, or quit the game. Of course, most people have already quit the game. Either you are against the occupation, or you vociferously support it right up until you have to go to the recruiting station and enlist to fight in it, or you have to open your wallet and pay for it.

Meanwhile, President Bush and a few cronies hold the American and Iraqi people hostage. No amount of losses and failure fazes them. Not only is Iraq a sham democracy, but the US is also.

No wins will arise from the Iraq Occupation game under the current rules. That is as nonpartisan recognition as it gets, for we have stupid people fighting the so-called war on terror. They do not even know al-Qaeda has picked their pockets. Hell, I could be a conservative Republican and make the same claim in good conscience.

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 1:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the road again

I plucked On the Road from the book stacks just meaning to read a little during lunch since I was distracted and a little depressed from staring at a mostly blank computer screen all morning long. I never think I will like it as well as I have before, but each time I start reading it, I wind up reading the whole thing. I guess it’s the sheer exuberance of the writing that infects my imagination.

Here’s to sheer exuberance rather than sullen meditation.

Published in: on July 16, 2007 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Summer days; summer nights

Dear Diary,

Stayed out all night drinking with a friend. Returned home in the glow of the early morning light.

Summer days, summer nights have bewitched me.

Sincerely,

Lynn

Published in: on July 14, 2007 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

A terrible thing to waste

Dear Diary,

Drank all night long until the sun came up. Drank about a half dozen body shots off a woman who has an admirable body.

I know several women I would go down on in a heartbeat. They never ask even though I have hinted I would. They do not know what they are missing because it is a no strings attached deal. I can be good when I concentrate. All they have to do is lie back and enjoy. Then kick me out when we are done.

An active tongue is a terrible thing to waste.

Sincerely,

Lynn

Published in: on July 13, 2007 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Never discuss religion or politics in the tavern, but if you do, don’t get fooled

I had an interesting discussion last night in the bar about the consequences of a US pullout in Iraq. A good friend, no admirer of the Bush Administration, said that it could lead to countries such as Turkey or Iran invading Iraq. My comment was so what. The great experiment in democracy building in the Middle East is a failure. The oil is the only thing left to defend.

However, not too many insurgents blow up oil wells; they prefer mosques, marketplaces, and police stations. Middle Eastern countries need to sell oil as much as we need to buy it.

From a purely self-interested point of view, the US should not worry about from whom they buy their oil. Chavez, a democratically elected leader, or the next dictator of Iraq will do just as nicely. Winning the global capital game does not depend on such niceties as whom one sleeps with. It never has. It never will. Come on all you global capital aficionados, winning the game is what is important. Isn’t it?

What never ceases to amaze me is how some people who extol the virtues of global capitalism mire themselves in petty regional politics. Saudi Arabia is the paradigm example of a repressive and reactionary regime with whom it is easy to do business. People pay lip service to its excesses, but those same people never take their blinkers off when discussing the issues.

Just say no to religiously motivated Middle Eastern conflict. After all, there is no god in the first place. Once we kill each other off, destroy the species, nobody will care because there is just us in the universe, an accident born from a sequence of random events.

Live as long and as well as you can. You will never get another chance. Let your fellow humans have the same chances as yourself to do the same.

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 9:17 am  Comments (5)  

Another wave hits the shore

These kinds of testimonies before Congress come in waves. The NYT reports the Bush Administration blocked important public health reports for partisan political purposes.

Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.

“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.

The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.

When asked after the hearing if that “prominent family” was the Kennedys, Dr. Carmona responded, “You said it. I didn’t.”

One wonders how prepared the nation is for a national health emergency. No doubt, we will have enough qualified ministers to pray for our immortal souls. You probably will be able to get privileged access to a physician too if you are, ahem, well connected to the Bush Administration.

As for the infidels, death and damnation await us.

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 8:24 am  Comments (1)  

I love it when you are gullible

President Bush refuses to let his aides testify before Congress regarding the Justice Department firings. And why not? You know he has plenty to hide.

Will Congress have the backbone to call him on it and throw down on him? Is there a shred of justice left in the American legal system?

I would not bet too much on the President upholding any sort of virtue except to pay lip service to it through a gullible media.

Published in: on July 9, 2007 at 9:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday night in the B-town

It’s Sunday night in the big city. I’m home—bored. I think I’ll venture out just to see what is going on in this B-town. Who knows, maybe, I’ll meet the love of my life, although I don’t think I have enough energy for that tonight.

Or maybe something will happen in between. Things tend to even out, you know.

Published in: on July 8, 2007 at 8:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Politics, baseball, randomness, and wagering

And there’s winners, and there’s losers
But they ain’t no big deal
cuz the simple man baby pays for the thrills,
The bills and the pills that kill

Little Pink Houses, John Mellencamp

I usually do not wager on baseball games. However, with the football seasons over, I have been betting on the Chicago Cubs and White Sox everyday. It fits with the baseball fever from which I am suffering.

I have no qualms betting against the Cubs or White Sox should my analysis dictate that move. I am more loyal to my money than any sports team no matter what my passion for them. It is a good exercise too. One embraces the sheer randomness and contingency of the universe. Those we love and admire do not always deserve our wagers.

If people learned to view their politicians as they would view the sports team they should actually bet on, the political process would be a lot more beneficial and rational. That will not happen though. We all are subject to moral hazard. We can sometimes bet with no downside to our bets. If we hold a privileged position in the political process, somebody will always be there to bail us out when we lose.

That in itself is fuel for any political analyses. One should always ask whom the guaranteed winners would be going into any political policy or proposal. The smart money always analyzes things that way.

We can never achieve the view from nowhere. The next best thing is to consider life and politics a crap shoot—at least partially. After that comes altruism, cronyism, privilege etc. Whatever your favorite talking point or ideal might be.

Published in: on July 7, 2007 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment