Sunday, October 31, 2010

GOTV: no, the kids prob'ly won't appreciate it

Here's what I'm taping to every piece of Halloween candy:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just for fun...

... yeah, I know: current crop of Dems is less than inspiring...
BUT: they're a whole lot better than GOP alternatives!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If someone PAID YOU to borrow money...

... would you?
Inflation Bonds Are Sold With Negative Yield for First Time
Published: October 25, 2010
Inflation-protected securities sold at negative yields for the first time ever on Monday as traders anticipate that the Federal Reserve will start a new round of asset purchases.

Analysts said that asset purchases by the Fed would lead to a higher inflation rate and a positive return on the bonds.

The $10 billion auction of the five-year bonds sold at a negative yield of 0.550 percent, according to the Treasury Department.
What economist do you know that's worried about INFLATION???

So, right now, at the moment: The U.S. can BORROW MONEY for NEGATIVE YIELD! People are PAYING for the privilege of loaning the U.S. $$$ for five years!

... tell me again, why is the deficit an issue?
Why is "borrow and spend liberal" such a horrid epithet?

YES!!! - TODAY what we OUGHT to be doing is borrowing - injecting $$$ into the economy to stimulate DEMAND!!!
This is how you END RECESSIONS!!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back on the campaign trail

Another mass mailing this a.m.

... again, this one prominently featured W & Barela... in a Heinrich ad!

On the bright side: last Friday we received a Barela mailing (my wife is a registered Republican!). The Barela mailing prominently featured a pic of Heinrich!

I'm not quite sure what the brilliant political consultants are trying to accomplish, but a quick glance at Heinrich mailings leave one with distinct impression they are pro-Barela, and quick glance at Barela mailing leaves one with distinct impression it is pro-Heinrich!

If I were in charge: every Heinrich ad would prominently feature Heinrich!

political blogs as political pamphlets

I'm re-reading The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Bernard Bailyn, 1967). Bailyn's first chapter is devoted to consideration of his primary sources: political pamphlets published from 1750 to 1780.

He notes that...
It was in this form -- as pamphlets -- that much of the most important and characteristics writing of the American Revolution appeared. For the Revolutionary generation, as for its predecessors back to the early sixteenth century, the pamphlet had peculiar virtues as a medium of communication. Then, as now, it was seen that the pamphlet allowed one to do things that were not possible in any other form.
This characterization suggests that today's political pamphlets take the form of political blogs, like Private Buffoon and much better-known ones.

Seems I'm not the only blogger to have noticed this, or to cite Bailyn.
Pamphleteers and Web Sites, on Dan Bricklin's Website pretty much captures everything I'd set out to say in this post!

In particular, he includes the same passage from Orwell (quoted by Bailyn) I'd intended as my centerpiece:
The pamphlet [George Orwell, a modern pamphleteer, has written] is a one-man show. One has complete freedom of expression, including, if one chooses, the freedom to be scurrilous, abusive, and seditious; or, on the other hand, to be more detailed, serious and "high-brow" than is ever possible in a newspaper or in most kinds of periodicals...
It's fun to realize that political blogs, like Private Buffoon (and those mentioned in right-hand sidebar!), can trace their ancestry to America's Revolutionary period! - a decent pedigree!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

SDSU: 30, UNM: 20

UNM season record to date: 0-7
Since head coach Locksley ($750K/yr) took over: 1-18.

On the bright side: Locksley has made someone's list of "coaches most likely to be fired before end of season".
(Nope - I don't recall whose list this is.)

teaching history

full disclosure: I've never taught history.
I've no formal background in history.
What follows are simply reflections on history as perceived by a non-historian.

In high school one of the history texts (sorry, can't recall title or author) remarked that Socrates would feel more at home if transported to Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia than would Franklin if transported to Philadelphia today.
Socrates' Athens was lit by fire. Transportation? - walking and horse.
Franklin's Philadelphia? Lit by fire. Transportation? walking and horse.

The dominant technology for most of pre-history? Chipped flint.

The dominant technology for most of written history? Primitive metallurgy - copper, bronze, iron. Wars waged with spears, slings, arrows... and their larger brothers: catapults and trebuchets.
No one ventured much more than 20 or 30 miles from his birthplace during his entire life.
Your life pretty much mimicked your parents'.
Most of us were close-to-starving peasants, praying that the crop would come in.
Praying that rain came in summer & spring... and NOT in the fall!
"Hand-to-mouth" meant just that.
Technological innovation was unknown.
A Roman aristocrat lived in pretty much the same world as a medieval peasant - both relied on this year's harvest.
Famine and starvation were common.

That festering wound? - forget it, it'll kill you.
No antibiotics.
In the best of all possible worlds you could afford the services of a surgeon who could, without benefit of anesthesia, amputate the affected limb.

Ships were driven by wind.

Indoor plumbing? No.

Diseases were believed to be caused by 'miasmas' - bad airs.
Bleeding by leeches was a prevalent therapy in post-Revolutionary America.

By contrast - IN MY LIFETIME!
-Computers have evolved from huge heat-generating contraptions requiring large air-conditioned rooms to devices you can hold in your hand.
- travel by airplane is no longer a luxury, but common.
- vaccines have all but eliminated most early-childhood diseases.

Slightly more that 100 years ago the dominant forms of transportation were still walking & horses.
The first fully electrified public building? - The Savoy Theater in London, mid-1880s - 130 years ago.

The pace of technological innovation today would be incomprehensible to our not-so-distant ancestors. We live in a very different physical world. Electricity lights our homes. Fireplaces are decorative. Automobiles and airplanes allow us to travel the globe.

How does a high school history teacher communicate these basic facts to his/her students? How can a 15-yr-old be induced to recognize the very different physical world in which his not-so-distant ancestors lived?

On the bright side: the PEOPLE living way back when weren't all that different from us. All were motivated by faith, love, greed, lust, ambition, patriotism, hatred, and fear.
The OTHER has always been despised and feared.

decisions made easy...

SF just defeated the Phillies for NL pennant.
Had the Phillies won, I'd be waiting for game 7 of NLCS.
With SF the winner, I'll very definitely be cheering for the Rangers in World Series.

a perverse teachable moment

Cholera outbreak creeps closer to Haiti's capital
With cholera in the news, I'll take the opportunity to mention the earliest use of statistical graphics in epidemiology: Dr. John Snow's map of water wells in London during the cholera outbreak in 1854. Snow plotted on a street grid, 1) the location of cholera cases, and 2) the location of public water wells. From this simple graph he deduced that all cholera cases derived from folks who got their water from a single well.
His work is widely regarded as beginning of scientific epidemiology and public health.

Here's his map:

Until Snow's study, cholera was attributed to 'miasmas' (literally, "bad airs").
As a result of his pioneering work during the 1854 Broad Street cholera epidemic, it was finally recognized that cholera was a water-borne disease, spread by contaminated water.

In Snow's own words:
On proceeding to the spot, I found that nearly all the deaths had taken place within a short distance of the [Broad Street] pump. There were only ten deaths in houses situated decidedly nearer to another street-pump. In five of these cases the families of the deceased persons informed me that they always sent to the pump in Broad Street, as they preferred the water to that of the pumps which were nearer. In three other cases, the deceased were children who went to school near the pump in Broad Street...
With regard to the deaths occurring in the locality belonging to the pump, there were 61 instances in which I was informed that the deceased persons used to drink the pump water from Broad Street, either constantly or occasionally...

The result of the inquiry, then, is, that there has been no particular outbreak or prevalence of cholera in this part of London except among the persons who were in the habit of drinking the water of the above-mentioned pump well.

I had an interview with the Board of Guardians of St James's parish, on the evening of the 7th inst [Sept 7], and represented the above circumstances to them. In consequence of what I said, the handle of the pump was removed on the following day.

—John Snow, letter to the editor of the Medical Times and Gazette

Someone else has noticed!

Obama Blasts Republican Economic Policies: GOP 'Snake Oil' Could Jeopardize Economy
For quite some time I've been suggesting that the GOP are economic snake oil salesmen.
It's nice to see this narrative picked up by Obama!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a couple of math 'funs'

Fun #1: Back in the day I was a professional statistician. Every once in a while it became necessary for me to numerically (via computer) evaluate integrals. I picked up a book to help, Asymptotic Expansions of Integrals:
"The prerequisites for such a course are minimal. Indeed, we feel that any student having a good background in advanced calculus, differential equations, and complex variables can adquately handle the contents."
Some folks' concept of 'minimal' does not quite coincide with my own!

Fun #2: 16.
16 = 2^(2^2) = (2^2)^2,
with '^' representing exponentiation (e.g., 2^3 = 2*2*2 = 8; 3^2 = 3*3 = 9).
'2' is the ONLY integer satisfying this associative property of exponentiation!
[3^(3^3) does NOT equal (3^3)^3]
I've got a proof if anyone's interested.

Fun #2 was realized when host of "Opera and Broadway Open Mic Night" suggested 1607 was the year that opera was first performed.
1607 is a good year: 1607 is prime. 7 is prime. 16 satisfies the remarkable exponentiation identity stated above.
Number Theory really is fun!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


End of the Earth Postponed

Sorting mail

Sorting/dispositioning mail was really easy today: just about everything was political, making its way to trash immediately!

I'm betting USPS will be much happier on 3 Nov!

MLB championship series

Full disclosure: as soon as Tampa Bay was eliminated I all but lost interest in post-season.
Now I'm just cheering for whichever team is playing the Yankees.
Rangers are now up 3-1 in best-of-7.

In the NL, I have some very mild enthusiasm for Phillie... (and for no particular reason really wanted San Diego to take NL West, so I'm less than enthusiastic about San Fran.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Modern U.S. President": G&S reference

Thanks to sometime reader & FB friend for this one!

It's a miracle!

UNM football team didn't lose yesterday!
... then again, they didn't play yesterday.

Both LA Times and ESPN have named UNM #1 worst college football team in the country.
The coach continues to earn $750,000 per year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back on the campaign trail

light posting next several days: I'll be spending computer time correcting addresses in donor database for Heinrich campaign.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's more enjoyable than national politics? [update]

... College football!

My college football team preferences have about as much success as my political preferences, but at least I understand the rules... and the rules are enforced!

... and tomorrow I get to watch professional football! The NFL!!!
Oh boy!
On the bright side, I have "skin in the game": I'm in a "loser's league".
Pick a team to lose. If my pick loses, I get to play again next week.
Last person standing wins the pot.
I've two picks left (I started out with 4): Tennessee & Tampa Bay.
As soon as I'm eliminated (I've lasted longer this year than previously), I'll lose all interest in NFL... well, except I'll keep on routing for whoever is playing Dallas.

update: my NFL season is now over - both my picks won!
... on the bright side, Tennessee beat Dallas in Dallas!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It has come to my attention...

... that there's an election coming up in a few weeks.


(pointless) reflection on NLDS [oops!]

No team has ever come back from 3-0 deficit in best-of-5 series.

- Rays down 2-0 to Rangers; Twins down 2-0 to Yankees

- Reds down 2-0 to Phillies; Braves down 2-0 to Giants

Four elimination games upcoming.

oops!: tedthecat points out that the Braves are not 1-1 against the Giants.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

(pointless) reflection on ALDS

... no team has ever come back from 3-0 deficit in best-of-5 series.

overdue snark

Back in June I started tracking Arizona sports performance... just to see (for fun) effect of SB1070.

Here's the latest: ARIZONA Diamondbacks (MLB, National League)
- 65-97 (.401)
- last in their division

Sadly, not worst in majors... not even worst in National League.

... BUT: still, for those who might believe in karma - Arizona sports ain't doin' all that great after passage of SB1070!

lame excuses

yeah, well... i've been silent for a few days.
here are few lame excuses:
- too much to say, too little time.
- med stuff to deal with.
- just lazy i guess.
- hey! - i'm working on the campaign!

Too much to say, too little time:
Cheap Debt for Corporations Fails to Spur Economy
Published: October 3, 2010
As many households and small businesses are being turned away by bank loan officers, large corporations are borrowing vast sums of money for next to nothing — simply because they can.
The development presents something of a chicken-and-egg situation: Corporations keep saving, waiting for the economy to perk up — but the economy is unlikely to perk up if corporations keep saving.

This situation underscores the limits of Washington policy makers’ power to stimulate the economy. The Federal Reserve has held official interest rates near zero for almost two years, which allows corporations to sell bonds with only slightly higher returns — even below 1 percent. But most companies are not doing what the easy monetary policy was intended to get them to do: invest and create jobs.

The Fed’s low rates have in fact hurt many Americans, especially retirees whose incomes from savings have fallen substantially. Big companies like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo and I.B.M. seem to have been among the major beneficiaries.

“They are benefiting themselves by borrowing and keeping this cash, but it is not benefiting the economy yet,” said Dana Saporta, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York.

American corporations have been saving more money since the financial collapse of 2008. But a recent rush of blue-chip bond offerings — including a $4.75 billion deal last month by Microsoft, one of the richest companies in the world — has put even more money in their coffers.

Corporations now sit atop a combined $1.6 trillion of cash, a figure equal to slightly more than 6 percent of their total assets. In the first quarter of this year it was 6.2 percent of assets, the highest level since 1964, when it was 6.4 percent.

When will they start spending that money — in particular, by hiring?

That is part of what has become the great question of this long, jobless recovery: When will corporate America start to feel confident enough to put its cash to work, building factories and putting some of the nation’s 14.9 million unemployed to work?
Tell me again how TAX CUTS for corporations will be stimulative?
They're SITTING ON tons of $$$ - BUT NOT HIRING.

Just as a reminder: 10-year T-bills now sitting at 2.52%... we - the U.S. Govt - can borrow money cheaper now than any time in the past 20 years!
So, tell me: why is borrowing $$$ to spend on JOB-CREATING STIMULUS (see, e.g., New Deal) a bad idea???
... oh, yeah - I forgot: the GOP controls the dialog
"Compassionate Conservatism"

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Yep -
1. fire fighters on the scene...
2. ... BUT: folks haven't paid their dues...

This is what GOP's America looks like!!!
Med stuff: wife has been scanned every day so far this week - oncologist appt tomorrow to determine next steps.

Just lazy: okay, I'm a slacker!

Campaign: Miracle of miracles - the campaign gave me some database work to do!
... so I've been doin' it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I thought we'd OUTLAWED this behavior!

CIA Escalates in Pakistan
Pentagon Diverts Drones From Afghanistan to Bolster U.S. Campaign Next Door
WSJ, 2 Oct 2010
WASHINGTON—The U.S. military is secretly diverting aerial drones and weaponry from the Afghan battlefront to significantly expand the CIA's campaign against militants in their Pakistani havens.
... like, back in the '70s of the last century, didn't we pass legislation prohibiting CIA from overt acts of war???

... or is my memory just faulty???

p.s. What, I wonder, would be U.S. response if Mexico unleashed predator drones to take out suspected drug kingpins in Arizona?

Ripping off someone else's post

From Atrios:
All Just Players At The Casino

I don't pay as much attention to the world of CNBC and satellites as much as I used to, but I'm still struck by how much people in that world actually believe "investors" know things.
[emphasis added]
Now - truth to tell - I've NEVER paid attention to CNBC, BUT - yes, it is striking that professional commentators continue to pretend that "investors" know things!
If nothing else, you'd think that past few years would provide sufficient evidence that investors resemble a herd of wildebeests, not rational players!

Suggestion for DNC

Subject: National ad campaign

Use this vid to clearly illustrate GOP obstructionism:

Back on the campaign trail

Helped with a mailing yesterday - sticking mailing labels on glossy large postcards.
Sad to say, the postcard itself left something to be desired: prominently featured pic of opponent (John Barela), Palin, McCain... and maybe Boehner.
Basic message: "Vote AGAINST the GOP"... as opposed to "Vote FOR Heinrich".
This is not an inspiring message... and it took fairly close reading to even get this message - at first glance it looks for all the world like a pro-GOP flier!

... sigh: another Christine O'Donnell post

Far from damaging O'Donnell's candidacy, I suspect that revelations that she "dabbled" in witchcraft, Buddhism, and Hare Krishna can be spun to her benefit:
Her current fervently fundie Christianity can be taken as evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit and the saving grace of G-d.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Just for fun...

Not ONE signer of the Declaration of Independence believed in Darwin's theory of evolution!

Not ONE member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 believed in Darwin's theory of evolution!

Headline for the ages

Manure Management - One of Today's Answers
[source unknown]