Friday, September 9, 2016

Likely and So/Sandra Bland

I don’t know what happened. Dope means they toyed with her and that is why she broke.

I hate the word surreal. We all have some commitment to Bayesian analysis. Recognize that it is a probability and all probabilities include frustration as an outcome. Calvinism, the widely held belief enshrining Bayesian outcomes that things are as they are, frequently fails. This may be explained as fractal dynamic or failures of framing, but may simply be the consequence of chance. Confusing improbable with surreal simply means that your smug world view has been challenged by experience. Likely is not always so.

Explication still requires likely. We are indisposed to accept the miraculous, even when it is so. In the case of Sandra Bland the difficult anomaly is that she died stoned. If you believe that she somehow smuggled the dope in herself, I suggest you attempt it. If all the various formality and process of incarceration guarantee anything, they ensure that you will not have marijuana in prison. The explanation requires that Ms. Bland, in anticipation of her incarceration, secreted marijuana on her presence in some way unnoticed by her guards who deal with exactly that scenario every single day of their careers. If Waller County cannot explain the marijuana, they have no legitimacy.

Some believe that Sandra Bland was murdered. This is an excellent example of the difficulty of framing. It is likely that you have been inside. If you have, then you are well aware that prison is a very serious time out. We like to think we have internal resources. But as you read this you can select an entertainment source, order a pizza, or step out for some air. You can’t do those things in jail. Most of us are not good company and would resent being the sole source of someone’s divertissement, even or especially our own. It is likely that Sandra Bland obtained the marijuana from the guards. It is unreasonable that they would give her dope and then murder her. I hope that Sandra Bland was murdered. I think it was far worse.

Sandra Bland is depicted as fragile. I see her as self-reliant and adaptable. I doubt most of us would have lasted as long.   Why would the guards give her dope? What could she do for them? As you have come this far, I will be explicit. Harassment of prisoners, particularly women prisoners is common. One may say likely.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Air Superiority Drones

Warfare has countless examples of ignoring the obvious, cavalry before World War I, fortified emplacements before World War II, techno-war before Vietnam; generals begin fighting each war with the lessons learned from the past. Now we have fighter planes.

Drones are currently successful because they are used for ground support. This is a mission that has long been neglected. It is difficult to justify expenditure on fixed wing propeller aircraft even though they are the best means of assisting ground troops. Drones have stepped into this vacuum. 

The next obvious step in Drone evolution is to give them jet capability. This is a disruptive technology. Defense companies are disinterested because it will end their expensive all-purpose fighter jets. Air forces don’t want to lose their fighter pilot culture. What a tremendous profit opportunity and with such a low entry level cost.

Just as electric cars have made power engineers sexy again, stealth given opportunity to radio engineers, drones do it for aerospace engineering. Don’t be distracted by scramjets. Think cheap. It may even be possible to fly high and drop nets. If your targets are subsonic you might use sound instead of radar. Perhaps you are just an AMRAAM delivery platform.  Say you have a relatively slow moving drone carrying 10 air to air missiles flying in support of a mission. Now say you have 25 such drones.

Kickstart its’ funding. I’m sure every war nerd in the world will kick in to shoot down top gun.

Friday, May 6, 2016


Proposed Congressional legislation:

1. The National Security Agency is only authorized to intercept communications. Any other such authorization it may require must be obtained from the Defense Department.
2. Nuclear weapons can only be launched with the initiative of the president and the four senior military commanders. There is no individual initiative to launch and any attempt to supersede this initiative nullifies it.
3. The President has no authority to initiate military action. All such action must be initiated by Congress. Congress must annually explicitly approve all military missions. Loss of approval ends the mission. Military violation of a nation’s sovereignty without explicit consent of congress receives minimum sentence of five years. 

It has become obvious that our nation’s electorate does not respect the executive. For the safety of the country and the world, Congress must act. National Security Authority has been abused on several occasions, most notably with Watergate. Both Kennedy and Reagan nearly brought nuclear disaster. The third provision would not have prevented our most egregious military losses. Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan would still have occurred. But it may have restrained Eisenhower’s adventures, our Caribbean escapades, ruination of South and Central America, the slaughter in Indonesia and perhaps even Cambodia, Libya, and our current SOCOM fantasies.
While I’m at it:

4. Whenever the Central Intelligence Agency is apprehended either domestically or internationally it must submit to rule of law without equivocation or exception. Attempts to suppress investigation are felonies punishable by a minimum of five years imprisonment. 
5. Only Congress can issue pardons. The President cannot be pardoned.
Call this the Nixon Act.

6. Service as Director of the FBI is limited to ten years.
This would be the Hoover Act.

7. Attorney General is no longer a cabinet official but an independent office appointed for a ten year term. 

If Congress could get up on its hind legs, the end of the imperial presidency would be Trump’s greatest contribution.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cryspus Attucks Was a Chump

In the south, the British were freeing slaves. They were the side of freedom. Admittedly not enough to make a difference, else the British would have won. Up north, Attucks, who was a seaman and used to being treated even was just cutting up. John Adams, defending the British soldiers who fired on the crowd at, their trial, described Attucks as one of a “a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and mullatoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs". Attucks was upset about impressment and competition for jobs, ignoring slavery. One of the reasons for the revolution that Attucks started was to maintain slavery.

A chump is someone who ignores the big picture: The legendary black sniper who fought for the confederacy or all the slaves who returned with Lee from Gettysburg. The 442nd infantry regiment of Japanese Americans who fought while their families were interred. All pales in the face of 2.5 million Indians fighting for Britain after repetitive starvation holocausts continuing during World War II.

What is the nature of a chump? How can they ignore the obvious? It is a common human failing to be confused by figure/ground, to view the immediate as the general case. But these are not merely the oblivious. There is a deep vein of hateful cynicism.  These were not circumstances that could be ignored. Rationalization is always possible, but at some level they had to renounce their common humanity and hope for progress. The humor is that they see themselves as opportunists and think that they are the exception.

History seems to praise the chumps. The thinking is that since we are here things must have turned out well. Many of the chumps didn’t make it.

First thing I noticed about the recent so called Baltimore riots was the lack of rifles. Then we all remarked at the rather pitiful attempts at looting. The only people really hurt were the Pakistani store keepers and the elderly. Sorry, that is not a riot. It is a pogrom.

I am leading up to the Republican primary, the party of chumps and Trumps. They don’t seem to realize that cliques are an exclusionary process eventually containing only the null set.

Everyone is upset that we, the American people, took the hit while the banks got away with it. Any candidate who promises to put Goldman Sachs in jail will take the election. Sanders is code talking about:
-equal protection under the law.
Which we all hear as:
-put Goldman Sachs in jail.
Clinton is doing a shimmy.  Trump shimmies a little. Except for fundamentalist Carson, no one else is getting any play.  That is because they are ignoring the major issue of the election:  jail the banks. There was a debate cattle call where the moderator essentially asked:
-Who wants to be president?
And they all took a pass. What he actually asked was how to address the banking scandal.

Chumps are created by privilege, defense of the local maxima while ignoring much larger inequities nearby.
-Why should I pay more taxes for college that my kids aren’t smart enough to get into?
-Why should I pay more in taxes for some dumb old farts colonoscopy?
While completely ignoring the 200 million F35 weapon systems that will eventually be brought down by a $10,000 drone.

Poor Sanders is talking about what could have been done with the money that we used to support the reinsurance industry.  He doesn’t realize that America just wants to see some bankers do the perp walk. We don’t want to actually change anything.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lennon Conspiracy Revisited

Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently excoriated a reporter who revealed Emanuel’s travel plan to Cuba. It is generally thought that he was taking umbrage after a difficult interview. But most reporters are respectful of itinerary and family information, and Emanuel may well have had reasonable expectations that were violated.

This brings me to the legendary example of the danger of this sort of privacy violation. One of the good things about People Magazine is that it provides an archive. So I will give you the offending article directly. This was in the Chatter column 11/10/1980:

“Hanging 5
Reportedly worth more than $150 million, John Lennon stands to augment that considerably when his new album, Double Fantasy, which he made with wife Yoko Ono, comes out this month. Where does all that money go? Well, the ex-Beatle has been investing heavily of late in the works of a young artist. Patrons of a gallery on Manhattan's Upper West Side saw one of the canvases when an employee of the Lennons brought it in to be framed. The artist turns out to be son Sean, 5, who painted a green-and-brown cottage for Dad's 40th birthday in October. A white wood frame was added for $44. According to a salesman, the Lennons have had nearly 100 of Sean's paintings framed there. This is not merely a case of indulgent parents. With five giant apartments in New York's Dakota, four dairy farms, a Palm Beach mansion and assorted country homes, the Lennons clearly have a lot of wall space. “

People Magazine prints itinerary articles, so this one is not unusual. The information given is also available in a book, John Lennon, One Day at a Time, 1976, which People explicitly references in their description of Lennon’s killer, Mark Chapman. The difference between the article and the book, of course, is that the article is current, while the book may have been out of date. Wikipedia cites Lennon’s wealth as being an explicit betrayal of Chapman’s Lennon idealization:

According to Chapman’s wife Gloria, "He was angry that Lennon would preach love and peace but yet have millions [of dollars]." Chapman later said that "He told us to imagine no possessions, and there he was, with millions of dollars and yachts and farms and country estates, laughing at people like me who had believed the lies and bought the records and built a big part of their lives around his music."[15]

There is a difference between common local knowledge and publication for a much larger audience. I remember bumping into Harold Washington at a local breakfast stop after his usual was outed by People. He may have also been avoiding a waitress who tried to force oatmeal on him.

Shortly after Chapman killed Lennon, People published an article on Jackie Onassis with where she often shopped and lunched. The Time Inc. corporate brass was visiting Chicago and I along with the rest of the employees was invited next door to Holiday Inn to meet them. I happened to be talking to the CEO and I said:
-I know you don’t involve yourself in editorial decisions.

He smiled.

-But isn’t it a bit much giving Jackie O’s itinerary? Wasn’t Lennon enough?

This isn’t as foolhardy as it might sound. In those days a programmer could always find work. I fully expected him to laugh and ask for my badge. Instead the CEO turned and ran.

I noticed that People seemed to be concentrating on celebrities living around Central Park. As well as the Lennon mention and Onassis article, there was an article on Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. At the time there was a furor about Trump tearing down the Bonwit Teller department store and building his first tower. There was a lot of outrage on the Upper East Side about Trump’s disproportionate skyscraper looming over the park and the celebrities were out in front in opposition. Trump totally played them. Unlike the following successful campaigns against development this one didn’t get much press. The failure to stop Trump tower solidified the opposition to future projects. New York plays rough. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Conspiracy theory is in disrepute because it has become a religion.  People want to believe that there is someone in charge who knows what they are doing.  Just because there isn’t someone in charge who knows what they are doing doesn’t mean that people don’t conspire.  Watergate is where conspiracy theory becomes pop art criticism. I have a possibility.

Everyone imagines a conversation where Nixon is told that he has to take the fall and he says in that Nixon voice:
-I’m not going without a pardon.

My question is when that conversation takes place and with whom. People naturally put that conversation at the end of his service.  This doesn’t make logistical sense unless it occurred at least as far back as the second election. Nixon has to be complicit in his own impeachment. Why would Nixon want to be impeached?  Because he required a pardon. Tricky Dicky, the evil monster with the world on his enemies list, knew that he would spend the rest of his life in court. I can’t know if it was an explicit plan but the pardon saved him from the damnation of eternal litigation.

Nixon is misrepresented as being out of touch and misunderstanding his context, a cold war warrior caught by progress. This is false. Nixon had few illusions and perfectly grasped his constituency and his opposition. He knew his opposition hated him and it was personal. As he waited at San Clemente for Ford’s decision he carefully totted up everyone he would drag down with him, from the Joint Chiefs, Taiwan, ITT, CIA, Standard Oil…

Ford was left with the choice of killing Nixon or pardoning him.