Wednesday, January 30, 2008

life on Mars

Believe it or not, there is life on Mars - here is a young woman sunbathing on Mars - kind of an extraterrestrial girls gone wild....

Pres Bush interviewed by reporter from Ireland

Here is Bush's interview with reporter from Ireland - it is embarrassing- Pres Bush cannot explain why we are in Iraq, and he stumbles through all the phrases he has memorized to throw out at reporters. This is stunning.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bush administration made 935 false statements about Iraq and need to invade

This would have been better information if the media uncovered it while it was happening - what ever happened to investigative journalism? As thought the major networks couldn't get to Iraq and investigate Bush's statements? Wasn't Dan Rather in Iraq interviewing Saddam just before the invasion?

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.

"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan.

Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Japanese anime

Noah check out this new japanese anime - the new ren and stimpy from japan?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Susan Blackmore, psychologist, thinks she doesn't exist but can't prove it

The Edge Foundation poses one question to elite scientists from around the world - this year's questions was "what do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" The responses were amazing. Susan Blackmore, Psychologist, said it is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will. She gives an example of buddhists who throw out the illusion of an inner self through meditation. When they throw out their "self" they act in ways that we think of as moral or good. She says she keeps trying to give up the sense of an inner conscious self altogether, but she just keeps on seeming to exist. Then she says, "but though I cannot prove it, I think it is true that I don't." Meaning, that she thinks she does not exist, she just can't prove it. This blows me away - she thinks she doesn't exist, but can't prove it. I keep thinking about

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lucky passengers

This is amazing: this plane landed on the ground (earth) short of the main E-W runway at Heathrow, destroyed the landing gears (very very strong gears) and damaged the wings. It didn't catch fire, probably didnt have much fuel remaining anyway (flight from Bejing to London) but still this is amazing. Pilot declared an emergency and landed asap - dont know what the emergency was - but he landed short of the approach, short of an access road that ran along the approach end of the runway. This could have been really bad - only 3 passengers injured, while sliding down chutes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More on political polling

Clinton, a former first lady who would be the first woman U.S. president, held a 21-point edge over Obama in October. He cut that to 8 points by last month, and the new survey gave her a 39 percent to 38 percent edge.

Her 1-point lead was well within the poll's margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.

The above demonstrates the blog entry below, about political polls. First the reporters tell us that Hillary has a 1 % point lead over Obama, but then they explain there is a error (interval) of 4.7%. So support for Hillary is somewhere between 34.3% to 43.7% - the midpoint is what the reporters reported, 39%. Clearly, Hillary and obama's intervals overlap, so the race is a dead heat. Hillary does not have an "edge" over Obama, the race is so close we don't know who has more support.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Saudis like Bin Laden more than Pres. Bush

A survey found Bush viewed positively by only 12 percent of Saudis. That was less than half the number with a good impression of Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. About 15 percent had a favorable opinion of bin Laden.

Public opinion polls are great - the often tell us what we don't want to hear.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

War connected to domestic murder

Truly tragic for all involved, murders by veterans or active duty military personnel up by 89% since Iraq/Afghanistan wars.

Friday, January 11, 2008

News reporters already consider Edwards campaign dead

the news reports have already considered the Edwards campaign dead.Fact is, Edwards still has S Carolina, where he was born, ahead of him, and he very well may win that primary. The status of Clinton is still unclear, the vote in New Hampshire kept HER alive. Edwards was hoping that once Obama beat Clinton, that she would drop out and then it would be Edwards and Obama, a two way race. That could still happen. Too early to count Edwards out. Clinton still has her negatives: she comes up with proposals that just don't sound like "change," like the billion dollar plan she has to help the mortgage industry, or as she says, poor people who are losing their houses. those mortgage companies gave out loans to risky customers, charged them high interest rates, which is why the buyers opted for variable interest rate - any help to the homeowners will only benefit the closing companies that handled those loans. I predict Clinton will fizzle, something will happen, there will be a bimbo attack, or something shady about Hillary, some type of gaffe, and it will be Edwards and Obama.

Iran's attack upon the US

Here's the photo of one of the Iranian boats that attacked the US Navy. Its a small cigarette type boat, with two guys wearing hot orange life preservers. They don't look armed. The bow is up so it can't be loaded with heavy explosives. Reports are that they were dropping boxes in the water, possibly mines...aren't mines heavy? The whole thing is screwy: The more I read the less I know what happened and what to believe. Don't forget the Tonkin Gulf Resolution - the supposed attack upon two of our destroyers in 1964 - turns out the attack was a fabrication. Its obvious to me that Bush wants a military conflict of some kind with Iran. But this speed boat incident is pathetic...the boats are operated by the Revolutionary Guards, a radical political group, not the Iranian Navy. I am sure the Iranian gov could stop the Guards if they wanted, but the gov sees it as a way of harassing the US. Iran sees itself as a regional power, and resents the US patrolling in its region.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

We Are Marshall! A Truly Great Movie!

Matthew McConaughey stars in this movie, about the rebuilding of the football program after the 1970 crash that killed over 50 players, plus coaches, and influential alumni and community supporters. Its hard to imagine something like that happening to a struggling college in a poor state. How a community recovers is what the movie is about. Ok, it does drag on, and the football games are not very exciting, but the movie was supposed to be about resilience, hope, the need to continue to live, to try, to make some sense out of a world that is sometimes hostile, sometimes random. I thought it was a great movie, not because of the football scenes, but because of the message of hope, having to keep going forward. I esp liked the ending credits of the movie, showing the actors who played real people, and the pictures of the real people they played, underlining that this was a real story, with real emotions. I thought it was a great film and Matthew Mc did a great job acting as the coach.

I checked the NTSB report of the crash (81pp)the weather for landing was just below minimums. There was some problem with the radio altimeter - it recorded a higher altitude than the barometric altimeter. The Co pilot was calling out altitude, but providing the pilot with erroneous information. A witness said the plane's engines increased, then the plane rolled right and crashed. I think the pilot had visual contact with ground and runway prior to crash, saw he was too low, tried to increase altitude with engines, pulled control stick back to avoid hitting terrain, stalled, rolled right and crashed. Plane was landing essentially into the wind (wind 340 deg active runway 110 degrees). Charter flight had two more stops that night, so it had its fuel tanks full. The reason there was no ILS was because the terrain was too hilly to allow for glidescope. Applications to extend runway and allow ILS were rejected three times due to lack of funding. The pilot probably landed at or below minimums before, he was experienced Southern pilot and there are lots of non precise strips that Southern serviced - and his malfunctioning altimeter told him the airport was above minimums (barely). One of the them was Athens GA - a Southern flight I once took landed in S. Carolina because the weather was below minimums, and we were vanned back to Athens. Weather wasn't going to get better that night, staying the night would have cost $$$, the pilot probably thought weather was a little better than reported (wishful thinking).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

News analysis of wrong New Hampshire polls terribly flawed

The cartoon is a play on words: there is a Pew poll, just like the Gallup poll, Harris Poll, and so forth. All the major news networks are reporting that the pollsters were wrong about the New Hampshire primary. They are wrong. First of all, polls taken on the day of the election were accurate. Poll taken on day of the primary called it accurately. Here's another poll that was accurate.

Secondly, polls are based on a sample of individuals, choses randomly, and the intent is to estimate (not predict, but to estimate) the opinions of the entire polling population. We call this estimating the parameters of the population, that is, the average opinion based on all combinations of samples of the same number of people selected, in the case of the first poll above, 353 people. In other words, sampling randomly 353 people, in as many random combinations of 353 that can exist, what would the average support for Hillary be? The estimate is in the form of a range of support, based on the error involved in sampling only 353 people instead of interviewing every registered voter. In the first survey above, the range of support for Hillary was 32 - 38% of the voters interviewed. The mid point of that range (the middle number ) is 35%, which the press reported. There is also a probability of 5% that the entire poll is wrong. This is called the alpha or the probability estimate - this is how reliable the poll data are, or its significance level. A significance level of 95% (a 5% chance of being wrong). Another way of saying this is there is a 95% reliability of the poll, and only a 5% chance that one the results are a result of randomness, or just chance). One can calculate the interval, and the overall level of significance, by a mathematical formula (I can't type it here), but the formula involves the standard deviation of the sample data (which is an estimate of the population standard deviation), and the "n" or the number of people interviewed in the sample.

In close elections, the intervals for two candidate may actually overlap. in that case, the election is a statistical deadheat. In the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the monday before the election, George Gallup Jr. said the race was too close to call - because the intervals of Kerry and Bush overlapped. Given the error within the sample, the interval of estimation, the race was too close to call.

So, based on election day poll of N=353 people, 35% (or more accurately, 32-38%) of the people will vote for Hillary. The actual vote for Hillary was 39%. Pretty darn close. Certainly no reason to say that the polling was "flawed."

Polls also depend upon time: if the public opinion's are changing, polls have to be timely. Even a poll taken the morning of the election is good only for that point in time: public opinion is a movie, a poll is a picture taken at one time period. Polls taken the friday before the tuesday election are accurate only on friday. they don't predict the future - polling is not a time machine, and a friday poll is not considered mathematically or statistically accurate for a future prediction.

The stories are about how the polls were wrong. One story is how Obama's candidacy may lead people to say "yes I am going to vote for him" because they don't want to admit to the pollster that they wouldn't vote for Obama because, perhaps, it may make them appear to be racist or prejudiced. Maybe, but there is no hard evidence of that. It would make an interesting research study - maybe a simulated poll and election in a controlled experiment.

the news reporters are looking for a story, and how Hillary showed the pollsters they were wrong is a good story, or how people who aren't going to vote for Obama say they are to avoid looking racist. None of that is apparent by the polls I have read.

In 2000, in the florida presidential race, many people said the exit polls were wrong. No, I think they were right: voters left the polls thinking they voted for Gore, only because of the butterfly ballot, they actually voted for the libertarian candidate: Gore was listed second on the ballot on the left hand side, but the voter had to pick the second hole to punch. Confusing - the demo's should have stopped that ballot before the election - they have that right, through the courts. That's why ballots are always published in advance of an election.

Polling can be very accurate, if done scientifically. the news reporters don't seem to understand polling principles or techniques.

Hillary Clinton and change

What annoys me about Hillary's campaign is her vote on the Iraq resolution. You remember, in 2002, just before the congressional mid term elections, Bush was pushing for his Iraq resolution that would allow him to use military force against Iraq to uphold UN sanctions. What a coincidence that the vote was right before congressional elections! Karl Rove planned it that way - fact. Because of the 1973 War Powers Act, supposedly the President needs congressional approval for military action more than 60 days in duration - supposedly, that is, since the Supreme Court has never heard a case challenging the legality of this congressional act. Anyway, Hillary voted FOR the resolution. Now anyone with a brain turned on knew what was happening: Bush (Karl Rove that is) wanted to beat the war drums before the election, and anyone not voting for it would be "weak" on the war against terror - dont forget, this was back when Bush would mention 911 everytime he would mention Saddam Hussein. Clinton should have said wait, Iraq did not attack us, Iraq is weak from 10 years of sanctions, Osama Bin Laden attacked us, because he had haven in the failed state of Afghanistan, which is a failed state because the US didnt care what happened to Afghanistan after the Soviet got kicked out. But instead she voted for it, because she was up for re election in 2006 - and she HAD to get reelected if she wanted to run for president in 2008 (yes, politicians think this ruthlessly ahead). So here she is, saying SHE is the candidate for change - she has not shown any tendency for change in the us Senate, if anything, she has tried to appear moderate to conservative to line up her Presidential run. Fact is, her involvement in the Pres race PREVENTS newer candidates among the Democrats to be heard: that is, her involvment in the Pres race PREVENTS candidates with the message of change to be heard. If anyone reading this has an opportunity to vote in a democratic primary soon, Please dont vote for Hillary - vote for some other democratic candidate that has a new message.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Barnes and Noble browsing

I received a $25 gift card for barnes and noble from Nathan for xmas and I browsed and browsed until I found a Larry McMurtry novel, Duane's Depressed, and a book of "best american reading" which has cartoons, journals, the iraqi constitution and all sorts of unusual but great reading "experiences." It is here: The Best American Nonrequired ReadingDuanes Depressed is about Duane, the guy from The Last Picture Show who joined the marines and then came back to the small puke town in west texas, the guy who was in love with the ball crusher Lacy. The second sequel to Last Picture Show was Texasville, where Duane was drilling for oil, was about bankrupt, his children were hellcats, and he meets Lacy one more time during a town anniversary fair. I have read the earlier McMurtry books, but haven't gotten into the latest ones. My favorite McMurty's books: Lonesome Dove (by far the best); Leaving Cheyenne; Cadillac Jack; All my Friends are going to be Strangers; The Evening star; Anything for Billy. I didn't the book Terms of Endearment (Aurora is really awful in the book, the movie makes her a little more likeable)
A, or Dead man's Walk.

Two great Robert Duvall movies

Two great made for tv movies featuring Robert Duvall in his cowboy role (he reproduces Capt. Augustus McCrae from Lonesome Dove) are Broken Trailand Open Range. The shoot out at the end of Open Range is a classic, not to be missed. Kevin Costner also stars and he is a gunslinger and former sniper in the Union army - you don't really get to know Costner's character until the end, when he walks up to another gunslinger and you see how truly ruthless and hard Costner's character can be. In broken trail Duvall says the litany over the many burials (these are violent movies) and he says something about "our life is a voyage between two eternities" which gives his hardened character a sense of profundity. The other character in broken trail is played by Thomas Haden Church, the guy who played the sexually immature man in Sideways. he played such a wus in Sideways, that I was surprised by his character in Broken Trail - hardened cowboy, capable of knocking a man down in one punch, a sure shot who can kill without feelings, but who can also fall in love. Great movies. Duvall in his Capt McCrae character is a real joy to watch. BTW, the book Lonesome Dove is one of the best novels I have read, esp the sign over the ranch that has a latin saying and also announces that they don't rent goats - rent goats? who would want to rent goats? funny.

life as a voyage between two eternities.