Tuesday, December 29, 2015

President Trump

No one believes Trump will be President. They fail to realize that he will, of course, change all his positions after he is nominated:
-Of course I was lying, how else would I get the nomination?

 Usually politicians shade their position rather than flat out contradict it. But we are talking Trump:
-Abortion is necessary. You think I’m stupid? Hey, I’ll kill the kids myself. If Carson can be president, I can be a doctor.
-Open borders, everybody gets in. Why check? They can’t be worse than what we’ve got.
-When I’m president, I’ll turn the Pentagon into a combination mall, condos and offices.
-If Warren won’t be Vice President then I want her in treasury.
 -No more Obamacare. We will have traditional Republican single payer.
-Legalize it, all of it.
-Get the Police off the streets, safer for everyone.
-My first act as president will be to line Goldman Sachs against the wall and shoot them. Citibank? What Citibank? HSBC goes to Guantanamo, after we send those poor Muslims home.

Sanders would have to say:
-We shouldn’t shoot anyone without a trial.

Sanders will probably vote for Trump. So will you.

See? Trump really is a politician.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Jonah and Global Warming

At first I was sort of pleased with the increase in declared atheism. I told my son:
-I just don’t want to hear about flying saucers.

I suspected that most atheists had some sort of belief; we just hadn’t added the conspiracy or UFO check boxes yet.  But now I’m getting irked. I had blamed Benjamin Franklin. Once lightning was explained, God didn’t seem as necessary. But there seems to be a general failure to declare, not just religion, but anything else. Is other going to become its own gang? Caucasian is a racist term, predicated on the belief that we all came from some group in the Caucasus that was considered attractive.  Colors seem to be acceptable for black and white, but the brown, yellow and red people don’t approve. Now we need ten check boxes for sex:

I can see why people resist classification. I’m worried that we will lose culture.

Christine recently dragged me to church and they had a reading from Jonah. I don’t know of any other story where the prophets get into it and kvetch about their lot:
-God chooses you. You, quite sensibly, try to get out of it. After he slaps you around, you do what you are told.  You tell the people of Nineveh that they must repent or be destroyed. They repent. God changes up and you look a fool.

 This may be the most terrifying bible story:
-I hope you don’t listen to me. I wish that you keep your sinful ways. I want to see that.

Scientists are our modern day prophets. How sorely they are tempted. If they will only depart from the path of truth all worldly riches are open to them. Just think of the grants, the Fox interviews, the approbation and acclaim. Admittedly they will lose the respect of other scientists. Will that respect pay their flood insurance? I can see why sometimes they mumble, fail to state the obvious unequivocally, and leaven their jeremiads. What if we listen? What if we come to our senses and stop poisoning ourselves? There the true prophets will be, high and dry, simmering in bitterness, with no earthly reward.  These are supposed to be materialists.  Their only possible satisfaction is to at least be able to say, if only one last time:
-I told you so.

Be very scared when the scientists turn over. When they realize that we are lost and they may as well grab the money.

You will notice that several towns and peoples are destroyed in the Bible. This reminds me of the Midwestern effect.  In the Midwest it is possible to walk out to the crossroads. There are no mountains, trees or buildings.  It is flat. You stand as a nub in the cosmos, totally alone.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Critical Error: Start menu and Cortana aren't working. We'll try to fix this for you the next time you sign in. /avast

Sorry don't know where else to post. Lot of bloviating. There are probably a lot of reasons for this dumb message and the messages are similar. Good argument for better messaging. What seems to be happening in my case is that Avast, what do you want, it's free, is pushing out a software upgrade for windows 10 using its windows 7 program. This breaks everything better than a virus could.  If you can bring up Avast there will be a message that a program upgrade is waiting in the software updates section, pushing that through, restarting each time it asked, fixed it for me.

Then it broke again. Guessing Avast is trying to tell me something, perhaps pay them. Uninstalled Avast then things worked again. Avast sent me a very nice email explaining how to uninstall. If you don't want their web service then troubleshoot program(right click) gets you to control panel. Hello defender.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

American Presidents as Agents of a Foreign Power

George Washington – France
John Adams – Dutch pirates
Thomas Jefferson – France
James Madison – France
James Monroe – England
John Quincy Adams –England
Andrew Jackson – Dutch pirates
Martin Van Buren – Dutch pirates
William Henry Harrison –Dutch pirates
John Tyler -Dutch pirates
James K Polk – Dutch pirates
Zachary Taylor – England
Millard Fillmore – Spain
Franklin Pierce - no
James Buchanan - no
Abraham Lincoln – no
Andrew Johnson – no
Ulysses S. Grant – England
Rutherford B. Hayes – England
James A. Garfield – no
Chester A. Arthur – England
Grover Cleveland – England
Benjamin Harrison – no
William McKinley – no
Theodore Roosevelt – England
William Howard Taft – no
Woodrow Wilson – dupe of England
Warren G. Harding – no
Calvin Coolidge – no
Herbert Hoover – Germany
Franklin D. Roosevelt – England
Harry S. Truman – Taiwan
Dwight D. Eisenhower – Taiwan
John F. Kennedy – no
Lyndon B. Johnson – Taiwan
Richard Nixon – China
Gerald Ford – Saudi Arabia
Jimmy Carter – God
Ronald Reagan – Russia
George H. W. Bush – Saudi Arabia
Bill Clinton – pirates
George W. Bush – Iran
Barack Obama – pirates

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Any time someone gives you a rate for anything, it’s been jiggered.  The unemployment rate is a well-known example. In 2012 the reported unemployment rate was around 8%. If I take the total reported employment of around 134,000,000 then apply it to the total population between 20 and 64 of about 162,000,000 I get around 17%. That seems a little high for 2012 but it gives you an idea of the variance. At this point economists start throwing smoke.  Most economics seems to be disputes about rates.  Disability, yadda yadda, looking for work, employability, underemployment, I’ve known a lot of deranged people who have jobs.  A good rule of thumb seems to be double the reported rate. Google real unemployment and double the rate seems the general conclusion.

Given the tremendous amount of data available and studied we should have immediate, accurate and complete information segmented across any desired index of our unemployment.  Given that we don’t it is obvious that we don’t want this information. We have national job search sites, Monster, LinkedIn, Dice, which should be able to show employment rates and active job searchers by profession. Why aren't these numbers publicly available?

Earnings are another notorious quagmire. Security Analysis, the legendary book by Graham and Dodd, is essentially a diatribe on the difficulty of reading company reports. Investors want to see a smooth earnings curve, so management spends most of its time trying to fit its real revenue into that form.  Inevitably there is a disaster, the company takes a bath, reveals all its bad news and then goes back to building its earnings curve.  Knowing this, are you more likely to trust a company reporting gyrating earnings-or would you regard it as management not being smart enough to play the game?

Inflation is also difficult. Adam Smith proposed animal feed as the benchmark for determining the value of your paycheck. Nowadays this would correspond to gasoline. Recently, the price of gas dropped but the value of the dollar as measured against gold has not yet responded.  This is probably because we have hollowed out so much of our industry. Galbraith argued that inflation was the consequence of business requiring a rate of return for investment.  I think we all intuitively recognize that there is always a real, constant and underlying rate of inflation despite particular market events. Underneath all the various currency gyrations and trade imbalances currency value has an intrinsic depreciation.

What got me started on this article were college acceptance rates.  I was startled at how selective colleges had become. Then it was explained that students are sending out far more applications than they had in the past.  What the schools are not reporting is student acceptance rates, how many students turn down the school after they have been accepted.

Everyone recognizes a drop in crime statistics. Credit has been taken by the police. Contraception and abortion have been recognized.  Cell phones help with reporting and solving crimes. The prevalence of video cameras is significant. 1984 is real. Videophilia, the prevalence of video games, is linked with drops in pregnancy, recreational activity and crime. Improvements in medical care reduce the number of successful homicides. Some of the decrease is municipalities’ jiggering the reporting. These causes explain the drop in reported crime. But the nature of criminal activity has changed. Banks and businesses have supplanted organized crime.

In the past murder rates were in inverse ratio to construction. As Sam Destafano said:
-You will never catch me; you’ll never dig up the Dan Ryan.

I have noticed a number of articles mentioning bodies found in dumpsters.  At first this method of disposal seemed foolish to me. The bodies were being discovered.  Then it occurred to me that maybe a lot of other bodies were not being discovered.  The garbage disposal process is so automated. Now that it is easy to dispose of bodies, the true murder rate is hiding in missing persons.  How can anyone stay missing nowadays? It is more difficult to hide your identity than it is to dispose of a body.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lincoln Conspiracy

The hardest part about managing anyone, including spies, is initiative. When someone is acting as your employee, whether as a spy or in any other capacity, you are responsible for their actions. They don’t know the big picture. They can’t know the big picture. You can’t have them running around knocking things over and messing everything up. Spies, like any other employee have to take direction.  James Bond better not kill anyone unless it is authorized.

 That is what is so wrong with the Booth conspiracy. The idea that any spy ring would act without authorization makes as much sense as you going to work and deciding what your job assignment is.  Even if Booth himself decided to kill Lincoln, it is difficult to believe that the rest of the ring would go along without authorization.

Abraham Lincoln is the only president known to have been killed by a conspiracy. There have been suspicions about others. The fact of eight convicted and four executed confirms conspiracy. Did Booth have orders?  Would his spy ring have followed him if they thought he was operating independently? Does a spy ring continue to operate once its side has lost? Would losing the war give you greater confidence and initiative? 

It is easy to believe that the South would want revenge on Lincoln. Targeting Seward and Johnson leads to the supposition of some tactical objective.  The conspirators are not simply targeting a foe; they are removing Lincoln’s successors. Obviously, winning the war was not the objective.  Why three targets?  I think the other two targets were window dressing or distraction. In the official version, the original plan was to kidnap the three in some mad Southern plan and thereby somehow gain a bargaining advantage. Then this bizarre plot degenerated into murder.

It is perfectly reasonable to doubt the sanity of Southern strategy, but this seems a bit much. Who else would want Lincoln dead?

This leads me to the Pinkerton’s.  The Pinkerton Detective Agency was hired by Northern industrialists to protect Lincoln’s life.  This reminds me of my mother’s crack when someone pointed out one of Trotsky’s bodyguard:

-Didn’t do a very good job.

But the Pinkerton’s thought they had done an excellent job. According to the Pinkerton’s glowing reports to General McClellan they frustrated several attempts on Lincoln’s life, without Lincoln’s knowledge. Once McClellan was dismissed these same industrialists saw no point in continuing the protection.

Could Northerners have an interest in Lincoln’s demise? One of my favorite themes in history is common knowledge lost to posterity. The Democratic Party platform of 1864 is an abject treasonous document.  The Democrats are depicted as war weary.  But they are obviously acting on principle. There is disagreement as to whether they should surrender to the South, but they support slavery without equivocation. It is said that General McClellan would have had greater success against Lincoln if he had not repudiated the Democratic platform. In any case he received 45% of the vote.

When Lincoln is criticized for being ponderous, recognize that 45% of the Northern voters opposed the Civil War.

How would these Northerners have reached into the South and somehow provocateur or finagle the assassination?  It wouldn’t have been the South.  Southern intelligence was run out of Canada and Booth’s courier, John H. Surratt, worked out of New York.

Just as Northern sympathy and support for the South has been lost to account, imagine how reluctant investigators may have been to uncover Northern encouragement or participation in Lincoln’s assassination.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Strabismus and Fetal Alcohol

I am a big fan of the unsaid obvious.  Perhaps the best example was the fact that AIDS is passed by anal intercourse.  Sorry Magic. This deference of reality to propriety demonstrates the dangers of hypocrisy.  I remember the idiot virgin clubs where they proudly refrained from sex, because of all the dangers, then got that goofy sly look and mumbled about other things you could do. 

Lazy eye is a good current example. If you look up strabismus, they will tell you that the cause is unknown. This is a lie. If you look up fetal alcohol syndrome, one of the symptoms is strabismus. It may be that there are other causes. But fetal alcohol causes strabismus. If you have a cast to your eye, perhaps your arms and your temper are a little short; chances are Mom was hitting it. Some people might consider this a lapse in good taste, but I think it is preferable to recognize a developmental disorder rather than a hereditary one.

If they were truthful rather than pusillanimous they would say that fetal alcohol is the only known cause of strabismus. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Writers Workshop

One of the first things you notice is how autobiographical most of the material is.  I guess people write about the things that matter to them.  One time this guy brought a fairly long manuscript, we are only supposed to read a few pages; he started at the beginning and read all the way to the end.  It was about child molestation.  At first I was surprised by his imagination, and then it occurred to me that he might actually know his subject.  My stomach turned.  No one interrupted him or asked him to cut it short.  Perhaps the material was gripping or perhaps like me they had all shut down.  I don’t remember what he said.  At the end he shoved his manuscript back into its manila envelope and awaited our comments.  A woman across from me took out a small pistol and shot the man through his forehead.  The man next to me said:
-Mine is really short.

Meat and Milk

For thousands of years Jews have had a prohibition against mixing meat with milk. This is a lot of work. It involves separate sets of dishes, and by separate I mean compulsively separate.  In the last hundred years some of our rules have found scientific justification. One might suppose that correlations were noticed between behaviors and consequences, but given the short life spans it is puzzling. A lot of this stuff didn’t make sense until we saw germs under the microscope. I can imagine some saying:
-I defecated near the well and nothing happened.
Torah sometimes cloaks common sense rules in mysticism. If they told men that sex after childbirth is bad for the mother it might not have made an impression.  I knew an obstetrician whose children were born nine months apart.  Telling him:
-She’s unclean, dammit,
might have been more effective. Sorry to go mystical but there is the possibility that the prohibition on mixing meat and milk may one day find hygienic justification. Perhaps we will one day learn that meat and milk affects the bacterial balance in our gut or something. Before dismissing our laws as ridiculous, you should bear in mind that some of the rules made sense, even or especially if we didn’t know why.
I ran across an interesting article:
In summary, the original directive was to hold the spring festival promptly and deliver what you have on hand. This injunction seems a little harsh:
-I don’t care if it’s nursing, kill that baby goat now!
They wanted to emphasize immediate harvest for both Purim and Passover so they repeated it.  Then another goof misread the injunction and threw it in with the dietary restrictions, early cut and paste. Out of context it reads:
-Don’t boil the baby goat in the milk of its mother.
I like this explanation; it fits with my view of how things work. To this day we take Bible out of context. It is comforting that this isn’t just recent. Because of this and since we are such neurotics, housewives have been wasting untold eons of labor:
-But it reinforced your identity.
Talmud isn’t much help, a lot of blather about parts per thousand. This indicates to me that most people thought this silly.
Still these passages survived interminable manual transcription and edit. I think most people reading the text have an image of shepherds feeling a mammalian kinship with their flock.  That seems awfully sweet. Which does make it suspect.  But we are not talking about the shepherds any more but the scribes doing the transcription.
This would make the neurotic response of dietary prohibition a reaction against recognizing our kinship with our livestock.  The proper generalization of the normative interpretation would be to quit tormenting our food: catch and release, veal, factory farms, and farcie.
I’ve always thought ice cream would go well at Passover.
This reminds me of a story:  There was a woman who was a concentration camp guard.  After the war she came to Los Angeles and married a Jew. After many years he died and it somehow came out that she had been a war criminal and she was deported. At which point the women said:
-Hasn’t she suffered enough?


I doubt that most of you still read newspapers. This Sunday we read the Tribune in bed while drinking coffee.  Christine did have her laptop, which she used to plan our bike trip.  Then she spoiled the day by dragging me bicycling in the forest preserves.
It is not surprising that the Tribune has endorsed Rauner a Republican for the position of governor over Quinn a Democrat.  It would be remarkable if they had chosen the opposite.  The Tribune has always been a Republican paper.  I suspect that their decision has far more to do with association than ideology or tradition.  Their justification for the decision is that they regard Rauner as the more subversive candidate; that he will:
-Shake things up.
Illinois recently suffered another governor embarrassment when it was determined that we had elected a flat out crook. The embarrassment was that while Blagojevich was eager to sell, he didn’t have anything worth buying.  That is how irrelevant the governor’s office is.
The Tribune is of the opinion that Rauner’s wealth will somehow make the office useful.  I can only suppose that he is personally going to buy the legislature. If that is the plan then I fail to see why he needs the governor’s office.   Perhaps it is a cost saving measure.
The Tribune puts me in mind of serfs living under the Duke or Baron:
-Yes, my first child is his, but I know he has our greater good at heart.
Given that there wasn’t much choice this attitude was understandable. Nowadays it is pathetic.  Everything Rauner has done has been to his profit.  Why would he suddenly become altruistic?
His opponent Quinn is dismissed as a go-along hack.  I can remember when he used to be dismissed as an idealist.  Dismissing Quinn is dismissing the whole political process. Poor Quinn was always the good kid who did his homework and never got in trouble.  
Speaking of political process the Illiana toll way project seems to have everybody jumping in different directions.  New roads seem to arouse the strongest feelings.  I was surprised that Quinn had taken a position on it.  Normally smart politicians talk about boards and process that is they duck. But that is the kind of wonk Quinn is.  I’m sure he has given it his earnest consideration evaluating all the aspects and decided that this road is good for the state without considering that his view isn’t likely to have much impact and can only cost him votes. Rauner hasn’t said a word about the project.
Apparently trucking firms want the toll way and farmers don’t.  In the past sentiment may have favored farmers but nowadays agriculture is an industry just like trucking, and both vote.
I admit to having sympathy for subversion.  But subverting the political process is subverting the means we have for making these decisions collectively.
Before Christine and I went bicycling we visited Adlai Stevenson’s home in Mettawa, Illinois. One of the mean things Jake Arvey did was switching Stevenson with Douglas.  Stevenson was supposed to be Senator, Douglas who understood state politics was supposed to be governor.  Instead Stevenson’s first political office was governor of Illinois.  The major problem Stevenson had running for president was that he seemed unable to make specific promises. This may have been because as governor of Illinois it was difficult to actually deliver anything.  Both Rauner and Quinn are having the same problem.  


Trip Advisor recently picked The Art Institute of Chicago as its best museum. I like museums that have a flavor of subversion to them.  The worst museum in the world might be Epcot Center.  It doesn’t claim museum status but it is supposed to represent Future World, sort of a perpetual exposition. There is nothing subversive about Epcot. Drained of content it is nothing more than a people containment facility, which may well represent their view of the future.
My current favorite is the Door County Historical Museum in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin. It is jammed with the usual historical knickknacks. They have a discussion of fish boils. There is also a fascinating wildlife diorama constructed by a true obsessive. In the middle of the museum is a leftover jail cell with the key.  While I was there a girl locked her little brother in it. What little girl hasn’t wished to do that?  That is what a museum is for.
My favorite exhibit is the Mathematica Exhibit. It has moved around a bit.  Originally built by IBM, I saw it when it was at the Museum of Science and industry in Chicago.  You might pass through thinking it hopelessly arcane. The fun part is when you see a child suddenly become distracted and stare raptly at one of the displays.  I have no idea if the little darling is actually getting anything or just trying to get a rise out of their parents. Maybe they are just watching the little car going around the Mobius strip.  The parents get agitated. It disturbs them that their child might actually have an interest in the exhibit.  They try to distract the kid, draw them on, and practically drag them out.  That is what a museum is for.
The Adler Planetarium in Chicago has a Christmas show, Star of Wonder.  After they have gathered the rubes in and ensconced them in their seats, they roll the stars back to the way they were around the birth of Christ.  Then they patiently explain to them that the most likely explanation of the “Christmas Star” was a conjunction of planets in the Persian Zodiac.  I doubt that most of the patrons are going to consider why the Biblical authors glossed over a zodiac event as the precursor of Christianity. But still, that is what a museum is for.
George Lucas is going to build another museum on the Chicago museum campus, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.  It will house his Star Wars and Norman Rockwell collection. Museums are, of course, the expression of the egotism of their benefactors.  Any city that features the Rubloff Paper Weight collection at the Art Institute can’t turn its nose up.
The Lucas project has all the indications of a disaster. The more fascinating the museum’s building, the less interesting the exhibits.  The new Lucas building looks to be a humdinger.  There is Opposition of Friends of The Parks, and Better Government Association.  To his credit Lucas is proposing 3000 underground parking spaces.  Scary that they will be built in a waste dump dating from the Chicago fire.  Old waste dumps are not always safe waste dumps. An outside architect has been brought in all the way from China.  This is probably payback for all the work China has given our architects. But the only time our architects are that generous is when they are afraid the project is going to hurt their reputation and future sales. We have a history of fall guy architects being brought in for difficult clients with disastrous projects: Benjamin T. Wood from Boston for Soldier Field, Moriyama & Teshima from Toronto for 10 S LaSalle. If they are far enough away people will know that the fall guy had a big project in Chicago and not that it is loathed.
My greatest fear is that the museum will be popular.  I don’t want the museum campus to feel like Epcot.

Termination of Pregnancy

At the end of 1971 the draft had ended and my school no longer had any ethical reason to keep me and I flunked out.  At the beginning of 1972 I obtained employment as a medical records clerk at University of Chicago Hospitals.  The mother of a girlfriend quit her job as an admitting clerk in the hospital and recommended me as a replacement. So part way through 1972 I became the night admitting clerk working from midnight to 8 in the morning at Chicago Lying In, the obstetrics and gynecology hospital at University of Chicago Hospitals.
Termination of pregnancy was illegal and every few weeks I would admit from one to three emergency patients for botched abortions.  I suppose the illegal operation would do all its patients on those particular evenings.  After a few months it dawned on me that those I admitted were the ones who had made it to the emergency room and if there were these many botched procedures there must be others who had not made it to the emergency room.
At that point I prayed. I’ve prayed twice in my life and the second time was selfish and stupid.  But the first time I prayed for abortion to be legal.  My argument was that it is better to lose one than two.
There was a miracle and abortion became legal.
Chicago Lying In had five floors.  The top floor was surgery, labor and delivery. The fourth floor was unscheduled admissions, 14 beds. The third floor was 33 beds of moms. The second floor was 22 beds of scheduled admissions.  The first floor was administration and clinics.  We operated pretty much at capacity and there were nights when we refused emergency admissions because we didn’t have a bed.
When abortion became legal the second floor was empty for a month.  Then we used it for second trimester terminations.

One Shot Mosquito

My job is to find some way to keep the mosquito from spreading malaria.
Mosquitoes evolved from biting flies.  Over time, they developed efficient ways to extract blood, and became dependent on it for the nutrients for breeding.  Their life cycle hints at a difficult and complex evolution.  They are the essential vector for malaria.  Malaria also has a complex life cycle hinting at a complex evolution in the company of the mosquito.
There has been a lot of futile research attempting to attack malaria directly.  The research is futile because of malarias’ different life cycle changes. The plasmodium parasite has too many life stages.  Singling out any particular one leaves the others and your medicine fails.   If you wish to attack malaria then you must attack the mosquito.
Malaria is one of the major detriments to human progress in the world.  The genetic human disorder of sickle cell disease evolved as a natural defense to the scourge of malaria.
In a time when so many species have perished in the face of human encroachment the mosquito persists, even thrives.  Perhaps someday we will eradicate this annoying and dangerous parasite.  There is no shortage of species of fly, the loss of one or two would not be missed.
You may be surprised at the altruism of drug companies and foundations willing to sponsor research that has so little potential for profit.  Well you should be. It is the treatment of disease, rather than eradication that is profitable.  But it has become vital for the development of the oil reserves in Africa, in particular Somalia, for us to be seen as benefactors rather than mere colonialists.  A victory in this area would more than justify the investment if it were properly presented and packaged.
-How can we help you my African brothers?  Oh I know, research!
The effort itself may well be rewarded.  Success could lead to development of previously inhospitable jungle.
 Then we could worry about the ecological impact.
What can we do?  The mosquito feeds, lays eggs, then repeats the process.  The repetition spreads disease.  How often does the mosquito repeat its egg laying?  Not that often, the laying of eggs requires tremendous effort.  It is the feeding that the mosquito repeats.  How to minimize the occurrence of feeding?  It must have bigger meals. Then it must compete with its sipping cousin for habitat, crowding it out.
What astounding arrogance to redesign such a perfect and well-adapted organism.  We do it all the time with many different species.  But it is amazing.  How to select for the quality I desire?  Provide the mosquitoes with a short meal and then keep the ones that breed.  Then repeat the process.  It’s not enough of course.  Simply stressing one quality does not assure the adaptability and survival of the variety we seek.  We can create hybrids of various species, all the while testing for improvement. 
Now that we have the genome mapped, we can create throwbacks, ancient varieties, evolutionary dead ends that may be more successful in meeting our criteria.  We tend to think of evolution as a process of optimization.  It is really more of a process of accommodation.  All sorts of possibilities have been tested, but not necessarily fairly or on their own merits.
With luck and of course persistence and some resourcefulness it was created: the perfect one-shot mosquito.  Malaria would be at an end.  Imagine the euphoria.  It is  rare that we have an opportunity in our professional lives to actually accomplish something.  People take pride, as best they can, in whatever accomplishments they may have.   This will change the world.  It is meant to change the world.  It will accomplish its purpose.  No stumbling.  No backing into it.  We knew what we had to do.  We mapped it out and then we did it.  It’s never that simple.  When a mosquito takes that large a meal, it leaves a welt.   That is to say, it leaves a large; quite often permanent scar.  The legal department was scathing.
-Okay, we’re not making any money on this, and everybody in the world will sue us.
I wish I could tell you that I was awash in idealism.  That I was thinking of some large eyed African child shivering from fever.  I don’t know anybody like that.  I was overcome with righteous indignation against the mammoth corporate interests who were making these cynical decisions about our future purely on the principle of protecting their own careers.  Actually, I like mammoth corporate interests who pay my salary and I want them to keep doing it.
It wasn’t pride.  Or at least I’m not admitting to that.  If I’m ever asked, I’ll say it was for Somali oil.  Maybe it was simply because I could.  I rolled up my sleeve, inserted my arm into their container and allowed the monsters to feed.  Then I removed my arm, allowing them to remain, rolled down my shirtsleeve and walked outside. After their release, I went back for the males.  I hope that the plasmodium  parasite doesn’t pass along mosquito generations.

Kentucky Campaign

Christine dragged me through Kentucky this spring, and I strongly recommend it unless you dislike Bourbon, heat and bicycling through beautiful, hilly country. I don’t mind Bourbon.  The greatest liabilities are the fried food and the pollen count. I found the reverence for the Civil War particularly irksome.  I would have thought knowledge of that history would be accompanied by deep shame and bitter regret.
They are planning to commemorate the Confederate assault on Frankfortthe state’s capital. This would kind of be like Chicago commemorating the Memorial Day massacre. 
In Kentucky they make a point of saying how Lincoln revered Henry Clay as the great compromiser.  That Clay delayed the onset of the Civil War until the North had sufficient resources to win.
 Most historians regard the Southern Rebellion as yet another doomed cause. The industrialized North clearly superior to the doomed agrarian South, besotted with their romantic notions of cavalry. The Southern fantasy is worse than that. The only hope for slavery is if the North is beaten into returning runaway slaves. The South cannot accomplish that on their own and dream they can convince France and England to come in on their side. 
But if you review the campaigns you will find that the great majority are offensive campaigns conducted by the North.  People look at the casualty rates and assume that Northern generals are incompetent.  When you recognize that the North is on the offensive, attacking entrenched Southern positions, the counts are not as impressive.   It was more difficult to attack than defend. 
The South had little interest in Northern territory. The closer to Canada, the more likely their slaves will flee. One controversial question concerns the Gettysburg campaign. Some argue that the Southern objective was a shoe factory.  In general, there was little point in Southern raids, abandoning their defensive positions for great risk and losses unless there was something material to be seized.
For instance, the South never took Washington DC. It seems entirely reasonable that sufficient men and material devoted to such a purpose would succeed.  But victory would only have further enraged the North much as Ft. Sumter did, and any losses of leadership may have led to more competent replacements.
This is not to suggest that the South had any hope of winning.  I will go further. Regardless of when the Civil War was fought, or how it was fought, the moment the North supports emancipation, the South has lost.  Once slaves have some certitude of sanctuary, the Southern cause is over.  The great shame of the Civil War was that it took the North so long to recognize that.
The confusion on this point is that people consider the Proclamation or even the Amendment as the start of emancipation.  The moment the South secedes, emancipation is inevitable. But if you must have a proper date then the First Confiscation Act of 1861 will mark the moment of Southern defeat. If you consider the refusal of General Butler to return fugitive slaves, which became Union policy, then it was even earlier.
Part of the reason for the South’s failure is the same as in the American Revolution. Regardless of other objectives the South has to maintain sufficient local garrison to forestall slave uprising.  This is why the South did so poorly against the British and why Washington was reluctant to even go as far south as Yorktown. The French had to push him into it.
Of the various offensive Southern campaigns, Jackson’s Valley Campaign is the most celebrated.  It had the secondary objective of taking booty and the primary objective of delaying the taking of Vicksburg.
Lee’s ridiculous Maryland campaign had the primary objective of seizing supplies and slaves.  It was punitive: punishing a slave (Catholic) state for staying in the Union.  Given the South’s strategic situation it helped hasten their loss and can only be understood as revenge for the North’s earlier assault, the continuing process of emancipation, and hubris over Jackson’s earlier campaign.  While the Maryland campaign satisfied the tactical objective of provisioning Lee’s army, it was a political disaster.  The people of Maryland no longer had any illusions about their status with the South.
The reason that Maryland was part of the Union was my favorite general, afore mentioned Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler. After logistics, the most difficult military task is pacification, the suppression of a hostile population. Pacification was Butler’s specialty. In defiance of his superior officer, Scott, he seized and maintained bases throughout Maryland and intimidated the population into compliance. After Maryland, he was assigned to New Orleans, which he held.  Farragut took New Orleans, Butler held it.  Towards the end of the war he was set up.  Assigned a generals task of assault, he looked at the breastworks and saw little point. The North had won, the South was starving, and patience would succeed. 
If, by some miracle, Butler had been in charge of Reconstruction, he would have been even more filthy rich. He was totally corrupt, what you see is what he was: the devil himself. But if Beast Butler could have led Reconstruction, the country would be far better for it.
The Gettysburg campaign was systemic pillaging.  By that point in the war, looting the North was the only way Lee could supply his army.  Lee was willing to endure the casualties because he had to either lose his men or feed them.
To understand the Kentucky campaigns understand that Kentucky was a slave breeding state.  The plantation states to the south used up their slaves in hard work.  The northern slave holding states made up the difference to their profit.  Their representatives, including Clay, opposed the importation of slaves and spoke of the “eventual” end of slavery, but in the meantime made money selling their slaves south.
Since Kentucky was in the Union, any freedmen, slaves, horses or livestock found there were war prizes.  The South went into Kentucky like a mob trashing Best Buy. Frankfort is proud that 40 volunteers held off General Morgan and his troops until the Union Army could arrive.  I don’t know if they will explain that they were protecting their property.
My views on this are not novel or remarkable. If you had spoken to any abolitionist of the time, they would tell you the exact same thing.


Nothing against Cate Blanchett, besides her difficult name but Bullock and Clooney were robbed.  Gravity received precisely the wrong awards. Bullock and Clooney sold a ridiculous film.
 It’s dangerous to credulity to have science fiction slightly in the future. Tyson has already pointed out the hair issue, so I was ready for that. But the idea of somebody being able to grab anything not specifically designed for it with a pressurized glove was a total fail.  Maybe they could loop their arm through something.  The second time Bullock flipped on a hatch, I had to laugh, not exactly a quick learner.  Not since Raging Bull have I enjoyed an actor getting slapped around so much.  An astronaut estimating docking with a space station was outrageous.  Try grabbing a speeding freight train and you get the idea.  F=MA. People, who don’t understand that equation, and the resultant integration, think that they can somehow brace themselves rather than wear seat belts. We are talking about tonnage against pounds. Tonnage wins.   This should have turned into a Brian De Palma film with a bloody arm stump. 
They tried to address the issue by having them bump around a bit. But there is a huge difference between addressing the issue and meeting the issue. Any difference in speed and they are missing body parts. No resistance issues. Use whatever glancing angle you like. Take the ratios of the velocity less 1, because there isn’t any bounce, just a sploosh. Given that they are both going very fast at pretty much the same speed, the ratio is small.  It doesn’t matter when you are multiplying it by hundreds of tons. My most optimistic calculation has them flattened by a truck.
It was Bullock and Clooney that somehow got me through this film with the silly dialogue.  Because of them, I was able to suspend disbelief, at least until she somehow found two separate custom designed space suits conveniently left behind for her. If you think one size fits all panty hose is a cruel joke, imagine an adjustable space suit. I guess they thought it was more unbelievable that she could recharge the air on the space suit she had.  It is too unlikely that there would be a standard air supply system. China manufactures three separate versions for each of us. 
I have a little trouble with someone in an oxygen deprived coma waking up and turning their air back on.  Christine wasn’t too happy with Bullock’s choice of skivvies surrounded by all those metal objects.
I did like the Chinese joke about their ejection module being a copy of ours.


Password restriction rules are Vogon. The initial problem is that people choose simple passwords that are easy to remember. It’s like locking the screen door to let in the breeze.  But when you restrict the universe of passwords that people can choose from you make it easier to hack.  The fallacy is to apply the tougher passwords to the original universe of all passwords.  People are still going to use passwords that they can remember within the more difficult rules. If you dumped the password files in the more restrictive environments you will find the same amount of redundancy.
Before you start counting up the permutations, consider your own passwords, hopefully you have more than one. I’m sure that several of them are clever phrases that you believe are unique and fall within the restrictions. mIright?  


In second grade our teacher Ms. Bowers introduced us to Cantor’s diagonal proofs.  You are already familiar with this, of course.  The rational numbers, the fractions, are listed with 1/1, ½, 1/3… on the top row, 1/1, 2/1, 3/1… in the first column and the diagonals always equal to 1: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3… and all the fractions in between. Then Cantor counts them by going up and down diagonally, zig-zagging between them.  All the second graders accepted that.  Then she showed us that the real numbers, say all the real numbers between .0000… and .9999…., were uncountable because no matter which way we listed them, she could generate a new one by going down the diagonal going on to infinity and generating a new one.  Cantor liked diagonals.
I may have lost some of you.  I think the reason we got this as second graders is because we knew that if Ms. Bowers was explaining this to us, it couldn’t be that complicated.  But adults believe that this stuff should be difficult.  So if you don’t get this, don’t feel bad, it just means you are old.
She then told us that it is impossible to prove that there is not an order of infinity between the countable and uncountable.  It turns out that almost anytime you can’t prove anything in mathematics it is equivalent to this continuum hypothesis.  So after all this work, we are left with yet another metaphor for life.  Which seems like a lot of work to get there and it isn’t like there is a shortage of metaphors for life.
Back in second grade a kid came up to me and said:
-If you take all the real numbers of one decimal place, .0 through .9, there aren’t any others. You can’t insert any.  Then if you go up by number of decimal places, .00 through .99 and so on, you will get to infinity which makes the real numbers countable.
-Those aren’t numbers, they are parts of numbers.
I told him.
-Then I will pad them with zeroes.
-Then I will insert a new one.
-Not if you follow my rules.  It is just a matter of definition.
-Is not.
-Is so.
If you want to make a mathematician uncomfortable, tell them about this assertion made back in second grade. Part of the reason that they will be uncomfortable is that the foundations are shaky. I believe that this assertion is not equivalent to the continuum hypothesis, because it obviates the hypothesis. I suppose it would be boring if the real numbers were countable.
If one day this assertion is proven, proven would mean that most mathematicians agreed with it, which might happen if countable real numbers solved some other problem. If that happened it doesn’t mean that something else isn’t uncountable. But another reason that they would be uncomfortable is that it suggests that most of the high level mathematics done in the last century was a huge waste of time.  My girlfriend Christine could have told you that in the first place.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jackasses Drive Drunk

Your tattoo is ugly and stupid.
Your butt is so big because it gets the most use.
Plastic surgery looks goofy.
Loud is dumb.
Check your medications, check them again.
You are fat because you eat too much.
Cubs fans are losers.
Maybe if you move far away, people will think you are interesting, maybe not.
I hope you trip on those pants.
I hope you fall off those shoes.
No one wants to hear it, any of it.
Your poor kids are just as dumb and ugly as you.
If you are that sick you might as well die.
Everyone is lying to you.
God hates you and she is right.
The louder you play it, the deafer you get.
You are annoying.
You would make a lot more with an engineering degree.
You are a lousy driver.
It’s just sex.
It’s just money.
Your house is boring.
Lesbians in a relationship disappear because they can’t get out the door.
Please don’t friend me.
Strauss sucks.
It’s you.
You are irritating, yes you are.
You really don’t want to be noticed.
If women ever discover short hair, flat shoes, wallets and pockets, we will have no advantage.
Be grateful for pity fucks.
Being angry doesn’t make you right.
Just watch the TV.
If mom don’t want you, you can’t come.
There is no food in Indiana or Mississippi.
Mozzarella only
He’d better be gay.
Hope it heals.
If we were married, I’d get a divorce.
Steroid use causes brain tumors.
Most birth defects are developmental.
More for me
You’d better work on nice and good because you’ll get caught at anything else.
Video games do not prepare you for anything useful.
You are exactly as special as everybody else.
Do their butts feel sticky in heaven?  Do they miss it?
It is difficult to take logic seriously when it so easily leads to suicide.
Let the lord be the lord and be grateful.
You are the problem.
No gift cards.