Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Military assessment of Iraq from Hebrew Univ prof who is on US Army reading list!

Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War
By Martin van Creveld
November 25, 2005

The number of American casualties in Iraq is now well more than 2,000, and there is no end in sight. Some two-thirds of Americans, according to the polls, believe the war to have been a mistake. And congressional elections are just around the corner.

What had to come, has come. The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon — and at what cost. In this respect, as in so many others, the obvious parallel to Iraq is Vietnam.

Confronted by a demoralized army on the battlefield and by growing opposition at home, in 1969 the Nixon administration started withdrawing most of its troops in order to facilitate what it called the "Vietnamization" of the country. The rest of America's forces were pulled out after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger negotiated a "peace settlement" with Hanoi. As the troops withdrew, they left most of their equipment to the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam — which just two years later, after the fall of Saigon, lost all of it to the communists.

Clearly this is not a pleasant model to follow, but no other alternative appears in sight.

Whereas North Vietnam at least had a government with which it was possible to arrange a cease-fire, in Iraq the opponent consists of shadowy groups of terrorists with no central organization or command authority. And whereas in the early 1970s equipment was still relatively plentiful, today's armed forces are the products of a technology-driven revolution in military affairs. Whether that revolution has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate. What is beyond question, though, is that the new weapons are so few and so expensive that even the world's largest and richest power can afford only to field a relative handful of them.

Therefore, simply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option. And even if it were, the new Iraqi army is by all accounts much weaker, less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was. For all intents and purposes, Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Clearly, then, the thing to do is to forget about face-saving and conduct a classic withdrawal.

Handing over their bases or demolishing them if necessary, American forces will have to fall back on Baghdad. From Baghdad they will have to make their way to the southern port city of Basra, and from there back to Kuwait, where the whole misguided adventure began. When Prime Minister Ehud Barak pulled Israel out of Lebanon in 2000, the military was able to carry out the operation in a single night without incurring any casualties. That, however, is not how things will happen in Iraq.

Not only are American forces perhaps 30 times larger, but so is the country they have to traverse. A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge — if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not.

Having been thoroughly devastated by two wars with the United States and a decade of economic sanctions, decades will pass before Iraq can endanger its neighbors again. Yet a complete American withdrawal is not an option; the region, with its vast oil reserves, is simply too important for that. A continued military presence, made up of air, sea and a moderate number of ground forces, will be needed.

First and foremost, such a presence will be needed to counter Iran, which for two decades now has seen the United States as "the Great Satan." Tehran is certain to emerge as the biggest winner from the war — a winner that in the not too distant future is likely to add nuclear warheads to the missiles it already has. In the past, Tehran has often threatened the Gulf States. Now that Iraq is gone, it is hard to see how anybody except the United States can keep the Gulf States, and their oil, out of the mullahs' clutches.

A continued American military presence will be needed also, because a divided, chaotic, government-less Iraq is very likely to become a hornets' nest. From it, a hundred mini-Zarqawis will spread all over the Middle East, conducting acts of sabotage and seeking to overthrow governments in Allah's name.

The Gulf States apart, the most vulnerable country is Jordan, as evidenced by the recent attacks in Amman. However, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Israel are also likely to feel the impact. Some of these countries, Jordan in particular, are going to require American assistance.

Maintaining an American security presence in the region, not to mention withdrawing forces from Iraq, will involve many complicated problems, military as well as political. Such an endeavor, one would hope, will be handled by a team different from — and more competent than — the one presently in charge of the White House and Pentagon.

For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.

Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University, is author of "Transformation of War" (Free Press, 1991). He is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Civilian contractors shooting at civilians

here is the so called "trophy video" of civilian contractors shooting at cars. The cars are hundreds of yards away and pose no threat. A mercedes is shot and crashes into a taxi. Another car is shot and crashes to the side of the road. It is not apparent that any of these cars are posing a threat. It looks like at one point the shooter is just spraying the side of the road. This is like Mad Max, the film from australia with Mel Gibson, the post apocalypse movie about rogue motor gangs in some post nuclear anarchistic world.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

cheney drinks and drives

cheney drinks and drives
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Dick "F**ing" Cheney was convicted twice of drunk driving when he was 21 and 22 yrs old in Wyoming (I'd drink too if I lived there) and lost his license for a while. Here is his
court document compliments of Smoking Gun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

what sucks and what rocks in iraq

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
here is a blog that discusses how our troops evaluate their weapons in Iraq. Turns out just about everything sucks or jams except the 50 cal sniper rifle and the 45 auto hand gun!

little buddha

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
supposedly this 15 yr old boy has been meditating for six months without food or water. Of course, no one sees him at night...Hundreds of thousands of buddhists have visited him in Nepal, thinking him to be the reincarnation of "the" Buddha. All I can say, is if this kid starts a cable show and asks for viewers so send in money
"to plant a seed," (Luke 8:4-15) then we will know that he is a fake! That plant a seed sermon really drives me nuts! When Jesus told that parable, it had NOTHING to do with giving him money, or fish or bread or wine - he didnt ask for anything (other than "follow me").

Monday, November 21, 2005


Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
George Bush is meeting with the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse in order to find a way to boost his approval ratings. Yes, it will soon be the end of the world, Bush is reading Revelations, and yes it will get worse....Cong Murtha said on interview that he believes the admin will follow his advice, do precisely what he has called for, before the 2006 midterm elections. He said, as soon as the public opinion polls show that public will vote these bastards out of office (my choice of words) "just watch this administration cut and run!"

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Congressman Murtha

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
The White House said they were "baffled" by Rep. Murtha's desire to withdraw troops from Iraq. They were sarcastic. Maybe if they visited the troops in Walter Reed Hopsital like Murtha does, or maybe if they actually read his full statement they wouldn't be baffled. I think this administration is just as sinister as Richard Nixon's (they have some of the same nightmare people) and just as corrupt as the Harding administration (oil corruption, Halliburton). So here is Murtha's complete statement: it is brilliant!

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”

For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.
Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.

I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gravity leaking?

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Physicists think dark matter, gravity, is leaking from our planet. They want to measure this by mapping the distance of the moon from the earth. They do this by bouncing light off mirrors left on the moon by Apollo astronauts. They want to measure millimeters of movement, but right now they can only measure centimeters. We are losing the freaking moon? Shouldnt we be worried about that? What the crap happens if the moon leaves? Won't we be asolutely screwed? Should I even worry about making my car payments if the moon is leaving?!!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Condi Rice

Condi Rice
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Our new Henry Kissinger. Her legacy will be Iraq, and Henry's was Vietnam. She will have to be careful where she travels once she is out of office, or she could be arrested for international war crimes, just like Kissinger. I find her to be a poor student of history. Her positions are not new, are copies of old strategic positions. Its as though she tells the brain dead republicans like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney what they want to hear, rather than anything new. I have known academicians like her: they repeat stuff we have all heard, but they package it as new, and they have a presence, a personality, that seems to pretend that this is new , original thoughts. All attitude and appearance, not substance. She doesnt understand Iraq, repeats the same old tired crap about Israel (praises the murderer Sharon, tells palestinian leaders they need to be responsible blah blah) - nothing new. the Iraq invasion was her idea, and its was just what rumsfeld and cheney wanted to hear. They need an "academician" to give legitimacy to their plans for empire. She gives political science a bad name. And she compared recently the civil rights movement in the south with the movement of freedom in Iraq - What? And the press doesnt call her on it - they just report it like they are brain dead! Cant they ask her about the comparison?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

junior's juke joint blog

junior's juke joint blog
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
I dont know how I found this, but this blog is great. Its actually a web site not a blog. This guy visits juke joints in the mississippi Delta. He is white. He has an incredible guide to these blues bars. he explains the difference between a juke joint and a honky tonk. He interviews performers and guests. He also camps out in his "blues mobile." He is a fan of mississippi delta blues - his site is absolutely fascinating. I thought he was some university prof who is making this his study - but no, just some guy who loves the blues and the delta. His site is great - you can spend hours checking this out. I am sure that the music he listens to is amazing! I really enjoy the blues - not the eric clapton version, but the real blues (Light'n Hopkins!).

grand canyon of pennsylvania

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Pennsylvania has its own Grand Canyon - near Wellsboro. Pennsylvania has some of the best state parks in the united states. Of all the states, I think Pennyslvania is the most exotic: it has major cities, industrial areas, beautiful rolling hills for agriculture, vast areas of mountains with almost no population, and the only thing it lacks is beach front on the ocean (of course it has lake erie but it just isnt the same as the ocean). I am in the western part of PA, but I am 5 hrs from the George Washington bridge, 5 hrs from DC, and only 1 hr from pittsburgh, one of the greatest international cities in the US. I've got to see this!


Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Very "Franch" movie (as GWB would say). Black and white. Its set in the 1970's, so to give it that time feel, the director included lots of file footage - so its poorly edited. However, good story. Young woman, a college art student, somehow ends up dating a thief. He robs a bank, is on the run, and she joins him. They travel to spain, morocco and greece, and he finally abandons her. She is obsessed with him, waits for him. Finally returns to Paris, and her family, meets his parents - he eventually is killed in a shoot out. She chooses a kind of exile to deal with her loss. Their relationship is brief, so her attachment to him is hard to explain. Very "postmodern" - she seems unattached to her sister, her parents, is searching for someone to love, and she picks a totally incomprehensible lover. Great shots of paris. Great nudity. Great "Franch" films always have great nudity. The actors were great - very well done despite editing shortcomings. Not a big budget hollywood film, but really good. Not the type of film you'd see at the local dumb ass mall.

Le petite Jerusalem

Good film, slow, very "Franch" (thats the way George Bush pronounce French). Its about the importance of religion in life, how it creates morality, supports family. But also how religion can be restrictive, lead to unhappiness, and be irrational. Excellent themes. Passion versus reasoning. How duty and responsiblity affects are behavior. The film takes place in the immigrant suburbs of Paris, and I wanted to see these areas since that is where the riots are taking place. the film is about jews, not muslims, but they all live in the same immigrant areas. It is a part of france (that is pronounced correctly!) that I am not aware. I travelled all over Paris on the Metro when I was there, exploring neighborhoods. But these distant, suburban immigrant neighborhoods are new to me. Very strange. Americans are clueless about France.


Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
great local film by Joe Varhola. Its about a young guy who runs numbers, wants to get out of the racket, so he devises a plan! Shot in pittsburgh on video. Very creative, low budget (no budget) film - very creative about where it was shot (had to be public locations). Script was uneven, hard to follow, video was unfocused at times, but so what?!! Very creative. I wanted to see the end - Joe Varhola (I dont know him) remember that name, he has talent and creativity. Yeah!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Princess Leia's metal bikini

Princess Leia's metal bikini
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Carrie Fisher admits that she was taking diet pills and vomiting while shooting Star Wars in order to be thin. She also explains how horrified she was at the bikini she was expected to wear - she felt almost naked (in fact, she said she felt naked period). Well, now there is a web site for Star Wars fans who wear metal bikinis like Leia's. What next?

Fifty Cent shooting in the burgh

Some 29 yr old guy was shot by some friends at the Loews movie complex in Homestead. People unfortunately get shot in Homestead all the time. It has nothing to do with 50 Cent movie Get Rich or Die Trying. Why is this a story? Because the Loews complex is built on the old US Steel Homestead works site, it is a mall with Old Navy and other chain stores, it has a huge movie complex, and lots and lots of white people go there to shop, eat crappy microwave food from chain restaurants, and watch over priced movies. Instead of helping Homestead's economy, the complex has actually hurt the business section of Homestead, and has brought no money into the neighborhood. The complex is actually physcially removed from the rest of Homestead. So the police were out in force showing how "safe" this white person area of Homestead is. Hey! What about the people WHO LIVE THERE??? What about their safety? Jeez, such racism! The people of the Hill District and Homestead have got to ORGANIZE!!! REGISTER TO VOTE!!! SHOW NEW MAYOR OCONNER THAT YOUR POLITICAL POWER MATTERS!!! I just read the Hill District is finally going to get a major retail grocery store: An Albi's! You know, the broke ass grocery store where everything is displayed in shipping boxes, the store is just an empty warehouse, you pack your own groceries, and it will bring FEW JOBS to the neighborhood (Albi's doesnt hire lots of people - its a self serve kinda grocery). Pittsburgh has a long way to go to spread the wealth.


Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Wow !!! or as Christopher Walken says, "Wow we wow wow!" Great film starring Jake Guyenhaal (Donnie Darko) and Jamie Foxx. Story about the first Gulf War and marines. Very realistic portrayal of the boredom, tension of waiting for war. Also interesting commentary on the role of traditional forces versus the high tech air war (shock and awe?) Incredible performances - oscar level. Great script. I loved the scene where these marines are killing an evening watching a movie on base, none other than Apocalypse Now!. They were cheering when the airborne choppers descend on the VC village - screaming out of their seats - they love war! Kill! Destroy! Hoo-rah! I loved it. Great scene. A must see. I really enjoyed watching Jake act - he is absolutely fantastic, great actor. You could sense that in Donnie Darko, but it really comes out here. See this movie!!! Warning - not a date movie.


Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Great movie written by Cameron Crowe. Kirsten Dunst stars, along with Orlando Bloom. Its really a love story, comedy. The scene at the memorial service is so funny - I dont think I will ever be able to attend a funeral service without thinking of that scene! Very funny movie. I saw it at the mall, at one of those $3 movie places (second run films). A bunch of teenagers were there (what else is there to do in Butler PA for little money if you are a teen?) and they laughed through the whole thing which was great (I love audience participation - you know, when the audience really gets into a movie). great film.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Donnie Darko

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Here is a link to the trailer - play it!
I enjoy the music in the original version although the director's cut does include some important scenes. The original has some editing problems (stuff is cut, incomplete) but the directors cut is a little too long.
Here are links to other entries on this blog.

squid and whale movie

squid and whale
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
This is the most depressing movie I've seen since "Turtles Can Fly." Watch this before you meet your therapist, then you will have someone to talk to. Its about a college professor, a writer, who is going through a divorce. Jeff Daniels can play a character without any redeeming qualities so well, not since Terms of Endearment has he played such a shit. Great performance, everyone agrees. Jeff Daniels is a genius in it. His oldest son is turning out just like him, phony, unfeeling, woman hater. His youngest son is mentally coming apart - the divorce is making him clinically insane. The mother is also unsympathetic. The only relief is William Baldwin who plays an eastern european tennis pro who calls everyone "brother" in a very comic way. I walked out - it was too depressing. The movie reminded me that I have unresolved anger and offense from my own divorce - so much so that I couldnt sit through this movie. And goddamn it, I drove all the way to fucking pittsburgh to see it - I was looking forward to it.

Bush's Intern has a Blog!!!

Read about the White House from the inside out - Bush's intern has a blog! Wait 'till you hear the President's idea on what to do with alienated muslim men in France!

Suicide of Ronald McDonald

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Ronald couldn't take the competition from Burger King's "King," and the new "subservient chicken."

Don't let your children read these books!

Here are some books you DON'T want your children to read! Funny!

Friday, November 04, 2005


Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Do you think someone painted a picture on the insider of the binoculars? The picture shows Iraqi children, with flowers, welcoming our troops.....

Afghanistan pictures that CNN doesn't show

Very unusual pictures from Afghanistan, in excel format. Especially weird are the pictures of NFL cheerleaders visiting the troops. Also included are pictures of the mansions owned by some of the pro western "warlords." There is accompanying text, some of it stupid (US fighter planes fly high above anti aircraft fire...yeah, duh. It would be "fairer" if they could get shot?). So ignore the text, just look at the pictures - they say enough about tragedy, irony, cruelty.

"We don't do body counts"

General Tommy Franks says, "We don't do body counts." Well, I do. So I searched the web and looked for Iraqi body counts. Total. It is hard to estimate.

Iraqi civilian deaths during "major combat" 2003 - 13,000 (wounded unknown)
Iraqi civilian death after "major combat" 2004 present - 3,274 (wounded 12,657)
US military deaths - 2035 and climbing each day
Britain military deaths - 97
Allied military deaths - 101
Canada military - 1
"International" civilians - 169

Total Iraqi deaths (another source) between 26,797 and 30,163

There are also contractors who serve as security, the so called mercenaries, who are not included.

Then there are deaths and injuries not reported.

So there is no way of keeping track accurately.

Lets say midpoint (average) is about 28,500 Iraqis, about 2,200 Allied soldiers. We are dealing with a baseline of at least 31,000 dead total, and that's a count (unreported deaths excluded). My own hunch is that it is much more. Not included are Iraqi combatants killed. I would say at least 50,000 deaths as my guesstimate.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

london bridge walkway: order out of chaos!

london bridge
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Almost immediately upon opening to the public, the London Bridge Walkway noticably swayed. Engineers investigated. Turns out, the bridge was built assuming that everyone would walk in a random fashion over it. However, studies reveal that pedestrians unconsciously walk in unison: we unconsciously walk in order, bringing what engineer calls "order out of chaos." In other words, the bridge was built according to chaos theory; however, humans do not like chaos, they like order. I find this fascinating because I have a background in political statistics (I teach the introductory doctoral social science stat's course for Indiana Univ of Pennsylvania's PhD program in Admin and Leadership studies) and I always tell my students that "ours is a probabilistic universe." meaning that there is no true randomness: randomness is only an abstract concept. There is order everywhere, and it is called "probability." I encountered this years ago when I needed to use a random number generator with a main frame computer: the computer operator asked me, "how random do you want it?" Turns out, there are different random number generators, some more random than others. I thought that was mind blowing: there is no true randomness. there is order everywhere, even when you try to generate random numbers, there is order. I tested this at the univ of michigan, where I constructed variance-covariance matrices out of random numbers: there was always eigenvalues, or a statistical representation of variance (order) however slight. As I explain to my students, "anything is possible, however some things are more probable than others."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Guy caught dancing on security camera

So this guy is checking out some audio equipment, thinks the sound is great, and cant help dancing a little. Turns out, the security camera is on. So here he is, caught dancing when he thought he was alone, voyeuristic security camera dance footage. This guy should have taught Al Gore how to dance, maybe the 2000 election would have been different!

What 2000 caskets look like

Over 2000 deaths in Iraq - how many caskets is that? Here is a visual portrayal, very sobering.

Scooter Libby's sex novel!

Scooter took twenty years to finish "The Apprentice," a novel set in 1903 japan. It has lots of gross sexually related material, including this passage:

"He could feel her heart beneath his hands. He moved his hands slowly lower still and she arched her back to help him and her lower leg came against his. He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger. . . . One of her breasts now hung loosely in his hand near his face and he knew not how best to touch her."

This reminds me of Lynne Cheney's novel, "Sisters," also reviewed on this blog

What is it with these conservative Republicans, that they have to project their sexual fantasies in a novel? Is this a comment on the level of frustration concerning their actual sex lives? Scooter just isnt getting any? Lynne is afraid her husband will have a heart attack? (Like Nelson Rockefeller did, while having recreation time with his girlfriend in his manhattan apartment).

I think this sex novel stuff and republicans is very, very funny!

Avian Flu

Foghorn Leghorn
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
So Bush is committing 7 billion dollars for avian flu vaccination. On CNN, a show that presumes so report on "news," someone was interviewing an "expert" and here is how it went. Question to expert: Is it safe to eat chicken? Answer: There is no Avian flu in the US, yes, it is safe. Question: Is it safe to eat Turkey this thanksgiving? Answer: It is safe, there are not cases of Avian flu in the US. Question: If someone likes to feed pigeons in park, are they at risk? Answer: Again, there is no avian flu in this country. If there was, then the pigeons would have to be infected, and the people feeding them would have to handle them. I was about to scream!!! These are incredibly stupid questions!!! There is no flu!!! You have to pick up and hold the birds if they are infected!!! This is stupid!!! I am convinced the Bush admin is milking this to cast away attention from hurricanes, the war in Iraq, his court nominees. He is even escorting Charles and Camilla around the country to avoid his messes! God, can't those two go back to England?!

Sen. Bill Frist - Tennessee

"The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership," said Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee. Yet another example of exaggeration and hyperbole by our Senate Majority leader. He is always making statements about how something is "unprecedented," or "never before in the history of our country" and blah blah. After awhile I just ignore him - if he is serious about running for President then he has to adjust: not everything can be "unprecedented." My problem with him is that one year while he was a practicing physician he paid no income taxes - what a trick. Also, he sold stock in HCA, his family's health care corporation, just days before the stock price fell. What a coincidence! And the stock was supposedly in a blind trust so he couldnt and didnt have any access to it. Lastly, this is prejudiced I know, his accent: good god! He has got to learn to talk differently: he sounds like he has a mouthful of marbles. This guy is supposedly super educated (heart and lung transplant surgeon at Vanderbilt Medical Center) so why does he speak like someone bidding on milk cows at the weekly Franklin Tennessee stock auction? I best stop complaining about the sound of Senators' voices, because then I must comment on Sen. Hillary Clinton's high pitched whine while she shakes her head back and forth in the "no" mode. I think the actor Hugh Grant should give voice lessons to some of our politicians to make them sound better. Ever hear the contrast between Tony Blair's speaking voice and George W's? Humorous.

Capote, the movie

Capote, the movie
Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is a genius in this film about Truman Capote and how he interviewed two killers for his book In Cold Blood. I thought the film was too critical of Capote, who befriended one of the killers to get their story. I think at some point Truman was profoundly offended and frightened by their violence, and felt the two killers were hopeless cases who were going to be executed (and perhaps felt they should have been) regardless of his legal intervention. Capote was very narcissistic, and opportunistic, but the book In Cold Blood is incredible and I cant imagine anyone else writing it. Didnt he and Norman Mailer have an ongoing feud? I cant imagine Norman Mailer befriending two killers and actually understanding their life stories. The movie was fun because of the settings, the wardrobes, the cars - very period accurate. And Hoffman's acting was great. But apart from that, the film was tedious. Hoffman should win the Academy Award for best actor for this film. Remember him from the Big Lebowski? He was Brandt: "These are the Lebowski Achievers, and proud we are of all of them!" "Ah, Bunny, a very spirited young woman who we are all fond of!" Great small role for him!

"Everything is Illuminated"

Originally uploaded by recyclingfan.
What a great film! An independent film distributed by Warner Brothers. This is about a jewish American searching for the woman who saved his grandfather in the Ukraine in WWII. He travels to Odessa to hook up with "Heritage Tours," a travel company that specializes in tours for jews looking for lost relatives. The tour guides are an old, grouchy grandfather and his son, a guy obsessed with hip hop American culture, and who speaks broken english which is incredibly funny. Music is supplied by the ukrainian punk folk band, Gogol Bordello, a band that performs in the East End of Manhattan. The director saw a poster advertising the band, and the lead singer who fronts the band was pictured riding a minotaur that was naked from the waist up. The singer, Eugene Hutz, never acted before, but he is great in the film, and his group plays a number of folk songs. A funny but also ominous movie, because you know there is some mystery about the faded photography the American jew has to guide him in his search, and you suspect what he finds will be very tragic. A very, very beautiful film.