Saturday, January 29, 2011

I've got a sneaking suspicion ...

... that if I were to meet Atrios, I'd like him.

From 27 Jan 2011

Mathematical Constant Challenge
Which is your favorite: e or pi?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not a good headline!

As Egypt Clashes Continue, Fear of Islamists Paralyzes the U.S

C'mon, folks.
Despite all the political & economic problems we now face, we're still THE dominant country in the world.
Yeah - we could be stronger.
Yeah - we could be better.
BUT: ... are we really "paralyzed" by fear of Islamists???
If 'yes' I'll retract comments regarding 'strength'.

Ought we be world's police force?
... and maybe it would help if we didn't in knee-jerk fashion glom onto whatever tyrannical power happened, at the moment, to support our interests.
... that is, if we, in fact, purport to be THE bastion of Democracy.

Let's all just read the Preamble, and move forward.

"Fear of Islamists"???
Give me a break!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A modest proposal

It sometimes is difficult to cut through all the political rhetoric.
Perhaps it would help if our elected leaders began EVERY policy discussion with a return to basic principles.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
[Preamble, U.S. Constitution]
There you have it - our six national strategic objectives:
to form a more perfect union
to establish justice
to insure domestic tranquility
to provide for the common defense
to promote the general welfare
to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity

Would it be too much to ask our Representatives, Senators, Candidates, and others in the political arena, to begin ALL policy discussions from this foundation?

Yes, we may not agree on the meaning of these strategic objectives, but we should all at least be able to accept THESE as the appropriate objectives which every bit of legislation ought be designed to pursue.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SOTU tonight...

... let me know what I missed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

bye, Keith...

Olbermann and MSNBC: a failing relationship
Confession (said to be good for the soul): I've not watched Keith or Rachel since the elections.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What have I missed?

Oh, yeah:
Lieberman Makes It Official: He's Retiring
Healthcare repeal passes House
Dumb Bastards!
... I'll ignore Palin for the moment... BUT: When 'Palin for President' committee forms, please let me know - I'll happily send 'em $$$.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In Memoriam

Dwayne John Erks
17 Dec 1928 - 16 Jan 2011
Husband, father.
Farmer, printer, artist.
My father-in-law.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Irrational and transcendental

... continuing 'math fun'...

Numbers are fun.
Basic: natural numbers - 1, 2, 3, ...
... also known as positive integers.

I think I was 4 when I learned to count to 14. This was a huge achievement.
Apples, oranges, cars, fingers, toes, ... you can count 'em: 1, 2, 3, ...

In 3rd or 4th grade fractions come into play:
You have 2 apples and 2 friends.
How do you divide the apples among yourselves so's everyone gets an equal share?
... ah!
2/3 (two apples = 2; you + two friends = 3).
2/3 is a rational number: the ratio of two integers.

Sometime in the 6th century BCE, folks figured out that there were numbers that weren't rational.
This discovery is attributed to Pythagoras - he of the Pythagorean Theorem.
He noted that given a square with side = 1, the diagonal of that square (based on his famous theorem) was equal to √2...
... and he further deduced that √2 could NOT be represented as the ratio of two integers.
Irrational numbers were born.

A fellow named Georg Cantor - in the late 19th century (just over 100 years ago) - deduced that there are a WHOLE LOT MORE irrational numbers than there are rational numbers!
In fact, just about EVERY number is irrational.
[... there have been nay-sayers. Another 19th century mathematician famously declared, "God made the integers; all else is the work of man"... For Leopold Kronecker, irrational numbers did not exist!]

Still it was believed for a couple of thousand years that any number must be the solution of an algebraic equation.
-: 1 is the solution of x - 1 = 0
-: √2 is the solution of x2 - 2 = 0

Then, sadly, Gottfried Leibniz, deduced that for at least some values of x, sine(x) is NOT the solution of an algebraic equation.
... and our friend Leonhard Euler was the first to define a transcendental number as a number that is not the solution of a polynomial equation with integer coefficients.

Turns out - as Cantor proved - there are a WHOLE LOT MORE transcendental numbers than there are algebraic numbers. (For what it's worth: there are just as many algebraic numbers as there are rational numbers... tho' not every algebraic number is rational!... and, oh yeah - there are just as many algebraic numbers as there are integers!)

In fact, just about EVERY number is transcendental.
... what's really weird is...
We can NAME only a couple of 'em.
π is transcendental (first proved in 1882 by Ferdinand von Lindemann)
e is transcendental (first proved in 1873 by Charles Hermite)

It's not known if π+e is transcendental!

Again: Numbers are fun!

The Pentagon's addiction to high-tech

F-35 looking more like white elephant
In addition to the issues noted in the article, the F-35 comes with a really cool, mandatory maintenance contract: when you buy the plane, you buy the entire logistics system needed to maintain the plane! (Sustainment, F-35 Lightning II)

If I were putting together specs for weapons systems, I'd include something along the lines of, "80% of parts must come from local AutoZone/Napa/Pep Boys/Radio Shack suppliers".

But - no.
If you buy an F-35 fighter, you are FORCED to buy the maintenance contract!
(Me? - I've never purchased a maintenance contract on any appliance in my life.)

Our addiction to high-tech weapons systems will...
- 1) bankrupt us
- 2) make us NO SAFER!

- Timothy McVeigh blew up OKC Federal Bldg with fertilizer & diesel fuel.
- al Qaeda toppled WTC with hijacked planes.
- the U.S.S. Cole was crippled with a rubber boat laden with conventional explosives.

Our enemies are NOT addicted to high-tech.
IED's are the story of the day... and the Taliban are winning!

Stop the madness!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

math fun...

Euler's identity:
Perhaps the coolest equation in mathematics.
It includes exactly once each of three basic mathematical operations:
- addition, multiplication, and exponentiation.
... and by way of these three basic operations links 5 fundamental mathematical constants: 0, 1, i, e, & π.
Finally, this linkage is represented by the fundamental equivalence relationship, "=".

For you math neophytes: I'm betting you're comfortable with "0", "1", "+", and "=".
... Most of us learned about π - the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter - somewhere along the way.
... and you've likely encountered 'i' = √(-1)... you know, those unreal 'imaginary' numbers!
That leaves only 'e' - the base of the natural logarithm.

The way I learned 'e'?
Plot the function f(x) = 1/x.
The area under the curve between 1 and e = 1.

... oh yeah: e = 2.718281828...
'e' is an irrational, transcendental number -
- irrational: e cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers;
- transcendental: e is not the solution of any polynomial equation with integer coefficients.

(... in both these respects, e is just like π, which is also irrational & transcendental.)

p.s. thanks to loyal reader PM for teaching me how to get Excel graphs saved as pictures!

p.p.s. ... no, i've not a clue why i'm thinking about Euler's identity in the early morning hours of Wednesday, 12 Jan 2011.

My letter to Speaker Boehner

Office of the Speaker
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner:

First, congratulations on being named Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives!

Second, perhaps now that you are no longer a member of the Loyal Opposition, you would be willing to reconsider your attitude toward health insurance reform. I note that after passage of so-called healthCARE reform (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) the United States is still the only developed country in the world without some form of universal health INSURANCE.
This particular example of "American Exceptionalism" does not impress me.

The Congressional Research Service reports that the U.S. spends more per capita on health CARE and more as a percent of GDP on health CARE than any other developed country in the world, yet achieves at best middling results – in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality, and quality of care (CRS Report for Congress, U.S. Health Care Spending: Comparison with Other OECD Countries, Order Code RL34175, 17 Sep 2007).

I note further that Americans with a government-managed, universal, single-payer health insurance system – the elderly on Medicare – are very happy with their health insurance and the quality of care they receive (“Keep the Government’s hands off my Medicare!”).

I realize that many in your Party were elected on the promise of revising or restricting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. May I suggest that you and your fellow Republicans would do yourselves a political favor not by emasculating this legislation, but by strengthening it?
In fact, revise it to provide truly universal health insurance to every American!

I remind you that the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution specifically states that one purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to “promote the general welfare.”
Not the welfare of big business, or Big Pharma, or Big Health, but the GENERAL welfare of “We the people”.
If timely access to affordable, high-quality healthcare doesn't count as "the general welfare" of "We the People", what does?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oops! Musta done something wrong...

... follower Lincon left me...

trying to be more uplifting

In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed.

Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.

Be the inferior of no man, or of any men be superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.

In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

- William Saroyan

somewhat morbid joke

Patient: Doc, give it me straight.
Am I gonna die?

Doctor: Yes.

Monday, January 10, 2011

for what it's worth...

... no, I don't hold palin or angle responsible for the az shooting, and i've no desire whatsoever to restrict free speech.

BUT: folks really ought to recognize that metaphorical speech just might be interpreted non-metaphorically!... particularly folks whose speech is broadcast far & wide, folks who have a public podium, folks who pretend to play upon a world stage.

YES: words and images matter.
language & use of symbols distinguishes us from the creatures that are likely to survive us.

o'reilly ranting about 'baby killer tiller' just MIGHT matter.
palin putting congressional districts - and, by implication, congresspersons - in cross-hairs; ...
angle suggesting that '2nd amendment remedies' may be appropriate;...

... This speech matters, and the speakers ought acknowledge this simple fact.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just in case you'd forgotten

From Sarah Palin's PAC website:
#4 on the list: Gabrielle Giffords, AZ-8.

... and now it begins... (part 2: FB friends speak out)

Comments from FB friends:
SO Sarah Palin pulled her infamous "target" graphic off her FB page and her Twitter feed. I guess she retreated instead of reloading.

Presumably, today's events are an example of the "2nd Amendment Remedies" advocated by Sarah Palin and her teabagging henchmen. In a dazzling display of cowardice to stand by her own convictions, she has removed the "cross-hairs" graphic, in which she targeted Rep.Giffords, from her website. If, unlike Palin, you believe that words have meanings and actions have consequences, make that graphic your profile pic.

"We need to realize that the rhetoric, and the firing people up and for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s ‘targeted’ list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted, we’re in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action."
~ Rep. Giffords

Sarah Palin is putting photos with Bullseyes on Senators and Representitives that supported the Health Care Bill. this is Terrorist Behavior and should be treated as such. Send Sarah to Gitmo.
(this from FB Group, Arrest Sarah Palin Under the Patriot Act)

Thanks, tea partiers, for influencing stupid people to do stupid things.

‎75 year old Pima County Sheriff- spot on in his remarks about the violent rhetoric that encourages the type of violence that happened today in Arizona.
[Here's what Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said]:
"When the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia about how government operates, and to try to try to inflame the public on a daily business, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it has an impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with."
What I don't get is conservatives saying there are crazy extremists on both sides. I don't see any liberal people in favor of equal rights for gay people, environmental responsibility, health care for poor people, and religious tolerance spreading their message and ideas using violent gun imagery and hate speak.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Buffoon is delighted to welcome new follower, Lincon!
... hoping you continue to enjoy the neighborhood.

Will anyone notice?

Obama Created More Jobs In One Year Than Bush Created In Eight

... and now it begins...

Arizona Rep. Giffords shot, at least 5 killed
8 Jan 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing at least five people and wounding several others in a rampage that rattled the nation.
This is what "Second Amendment solutions" look like!

Until today there've been only threats.
My prediction? Now that one Democrat has been attacked, the crazies will come outta the woodwork in full force.
(Thanks, Sharron Angle!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

just a thought...

When Mozart was my age...
... he'd been dead 22 years.

this, that, and t'other

this: xmas gift - Windows 7, now installed.
it'll take me a while to get used to it, but i'm already quite happy with various features.
(... tho' it took more than a little time to get it configured to my liking!)

that: successful congressional campaigns don't end, they morph immediately into re-election campaigns.
i've received new assignment from campaign - an assignment that in fact involves semblance of statistical analysis!... awaiting cd with 2010 election results.

t'other: 'tis been a bad week on the personal/cancer front. will know more next week. in the meantime i'm something of a nervous wreck - waiting for news.

... and still more t'other: started an acting class today. enjoyed class #1 - and had no immediate antipathy towards any of fellow students.
(note: i was INVITED to attend this class - i'm counting this as a win.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Just for fun (part trois)...

I sent the pastor of St. Tim's Lutheran - in whose choir I sing - information about Judgment Day, and suggested this might provide material for a sermon.
In a postscript I noted that...
I will NOT be in church 22 May - attending college friend's gay wedding in Washington, DC.
... just to let you know: my non-presence is NOT due to me being 'raptured'.
Her response?
Good to know. Otherwise I might feel left behind.
Tho' a non-believer, I DO appreciate St. Tim's Lutheran - if only for the opportunity to sing choral music on a weekly basis.
BUT - there are other reasons: Pastor Pat has provided invaluable counseling to both my wife & me, helping us both deal with 8+ years of "living with cancer".

p.s. once-upon-a-time I inquired of a fellow choir member the attitude of St. Tim's toward gays. The answer? (paraphrased)
St. Timothy's is an accepting congregation, with many active gay members... BUT this issue is not at the top of anyone's list.
I was satisfied with this response.

2011: a good year!

From friend and loyal Buffoon reader:
Happy New Year! 2011 will be a good year.

2011 is the sum of 11 consecutive prime numbers:
2011 = 157 + 163 + 173 + 179 + 181 + 191 + 193 + 197 + 199 + 211.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Just for fun (new)

I am pushing sixty. That's enough exercise for me.
- Mark Twain

Just for fun (part deux)...

The previous post cited news article reporting the following (I've gone to the source):
MAY 21, 2011
I note that on 20 May 2011 I'll be in our nation's capital to help a college friend celebrate his GAY WEDDING.

I sent a note to this friend (and loyal Buffoon follower JC) congratulating him on his excellent timing.
His reply:
Not just great timing, Russ, we CAUSE the end of the world! One day the number of gay people who are married passes a point of equilibrium and god gets pissed and the world ends so he can throw everybody except the people who hate gays enough into the fires of hell!
To be honest, I'd not even considered the cause-effect relationship!
I replied to him, offering my congratulations that he & his soon-to-be spouse were directly responsible for inaugurating the End Times.

p.s. The wedding being held in Washington, DC, I doubt that I'll notice any sudden change in population on 21 May - the day of The Rapture... well, maybe the folks at the C Street House won't be around anymore.

Just for fun...

... these two stories seem to go together.
First we have...
First Falling Birds, Now Dead Fish in Arkansas
As Carcasses of 2,000 Birds that Fell From Sky Are Tested, 100,000 Drum Fish Turn Up Dead in Arkansas River
3 Jan 2011
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Wildlife experts are trying to solve a mystery that evoked images of the apocalypse: Why did more than 3,000 red-winged blackbirds tumble from the Arkansas sky shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve?
Separately, some 100,000 fish died last week in the Arkansas River in the northwestern section of the state, the New York Daily News reports.

The drum fish were discovered Thursday across more than 20 miles of the river, fish and game officials announced Sunday.
... followed by:
End of Days in May? Christian group spreads word
By TOM BREEN, Associated Press
Mon Jan 3, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. – If there had been time, Marie Exley would have liked to start a family. Instead, the 32-year-old Army veteran has less than six months left, which she'll spend spreading a stark warning: Judgment Day is almost here.

Exley is part of a movement of Christians loosely organized by radio broadcasts and websites, independent of churches and convinced by their reading of the Bible that the end of the world will begin May 21, 2011.
In August, Exley left her home in Colorado Springs, Colo., to work with Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio Worldwide, the independent Christian ministry whose leader, Harold Camping, has calculated the May 21 date based on his reading of the Bible.
Camping, 89, believes the Bible essentially functions as a cosmic calendar explaining exactly when various prophecies will be fulfilled.

The retired civil engineer said all his calculations come from close readings of the Bible, but that external events like the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 are signs confirming the date.

"Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment," he said.

The doctrine known as the Rapture teaches that believers will be taken up to heaven, while everyone else will remain on earth for a period of torment, concluding with the end of time. Camping believes that will happen in October.
Somehow it seems appropriate that the first signs of the beginning of the End Times should appear in Arkansas.

Maybe it's time to reschedule that summer vacation to spring!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

... (and I was just getting used to writing '2010'!)

Best to you & yours in 2011.