Saturday, September 30, 2006

"State of Denial": Woodward says Bush Ignored Urgent Iraq Warning

Bush ignored an urgent warning in 9/03 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, As late as 11/03 Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: "I don't want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don't think we are there yet."

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Very cool story about a girl from Mexico and her forray into electronics

She was part of a keynote by Craig Barrett (Intel chairman).

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The Constitution of the United States of America

Why not? Shouldn't we all be digging the the Constitution so we don't here "WTF is the Constitution" in the comment section again?

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Canada apologizes to citizen

Tortured Canadian citizen receives apology from Canada.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wherever you are, there you are.


This week we studied the Real Numbers in the high school math class. These are reflections about this experience.

Real Numbers

It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century that Richard Dedekind and Georg Cantor developed the theory of Real Numbers; as Leopold Kronecker said: “God created the integers, all else is the work of man.” I tried, not very consciously, nor successfully, to communicate this work to teen agers.

I remember how excited I got when I first learned these facts more than
forty years ago. To this day I consider this to be one of the deepest thoughts of the human mind. Is space like Cantor and Dedekind envisioned it? I did not do justice to these men this week. I am struggling just to get the students to pay attention, this reminds me of that other experience in the same city. The teachers did not like the way I taught the students. Something similar happened at another high school before. I live in an abstract world that not even the children’s parents or my teacher colleagues perceive. Here I try to analyze the events of this week.

I teach in a barrio school. Some of the students are either in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or they belong to gangs. I want to make my own club, with a few dedicated students in pursuit of an intense mental life.

As backdrop to my experience, I can say that I did not stay teaching
college students in Mexico because I did not publish. My thoughts have not settled on something worth communicating to other theoretical physicists.

By all measures, leaving the University of Puebla and teaching very young underprivileged persons in Illinois, is not a smart move. But us Carl Frantz writes in “The Peoples Guide to Mexico”, wherever you are, there you are.

Control of Social Behavior

Right now Mexico is in the middle of a political crisis. The people of the state of Oaxaca are going through a social confrontaion. School teachers started a strike more than three months ago, and now they want the Governor to resign. Before the presidential election the federal government did not intervene, once the election was over and the candidate from this same federal government won, there is a threat of use of force by federal troops.

It is possible that the party in power now, did not know how to control the social behavior of Mexicans since they never had the presidency of the country before, but in any case the people of Mexico are suffering one of their worse political crisis in the last thirty years. On the other hand, I see crises in other parts of the world as well. Darfur is at the brink of a genocidal event in the near future. Maybe the warming of the Earth is making people's lives unbearable, and we are starting to see a global collapse like never before.

I teach in a high school in Illinois, I feel that some of my students are restless; they are not paying attention, this can be caused by me, because I may be a bad teacher, but maybe there are other factors involved. Do they understand that basic mathematical knowledge is a key to their future lives, or do they perceive hidden messages in their immediate world that seem to offer them a better future? Maybe is just that they are young and it is my job just to get them enthusiastic about learning.

Am I loosing control of my class, is President Fox in Mexico loosing control of the state of Oaxaca, is President Bush loosing control of the world?

These are big questions; I am only trying to do something about the first one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Educated Guess

Darfur is caused by global warming. Sub-saharan Africa has been getting hotter, and people either flee or fight. Mexicans are leaving the South and moving North. I want to guess that we are witnessing the beginning of one of the biggest human migrations in history.
Almost every week I have been receiving students from the South, of course since I teach math in Spanish, that is expected. Nevertheless I cannot stop thinking that something is happening and I don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you say, "What's mine?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone?"

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You hand in your ticket
And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, "How does it feel
To be such a freak?"
And you say, "Impossible"
As he hands you a bone

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You have many contacts
Among the lumberjacks
To get you facts
When someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect
Anyway they already expect you
To just give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations

You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it feels
And he says, "Here is your throat back
Thanks for the loan"

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason?"
And he says, "How?"
And you say, "What does this mean?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home"

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, you walk into the room
Like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket
And your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law
Against you comin' around
You should be made
To wear earphones

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Copyright © 1965; renewed 1993 Special Rider Music

Political Warming

October is a week from now. Elections in the US are in November. There is a high level of debate between Democrats and Republicans. In Mexico President Fox finally is trying to stop the brewing civil war in the state of Oaxaca. I wonder if the heat in this election year is related to the Earth getting close to the highest temperature recorded on Earth in one million years.

Clinton vs Fox News: Olbermann slams Bush

Link goes to YouTube.

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Antimatter discovery could launch new era of physics

The discovery that a bizarre particle travels between the real world of matter and the spooky realm of antimatter 3 trillion times a second may open the door to a new era of physics, Fermilab researchers announced Monday.

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Earth nearing warmest point in a million years, may see rougher El Niños

The earth is the warmest it has been in the last 12,000 years and is within 1.8 degrees of its highest average temperature in the past million years, scientists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Global Warming Near Critical Level

Global temperatures are dangerously close to the highest ever estimated to have occurred in the past million years, scientists reported today.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Video: Noam Chomsky - America Is NOT A Democracy

Chomsky explains the political theory behind the idea that America is not a democracy (as we all should know), but a poligarchy. He also goes into explaining the reason America was created this way and why it still persists as such. 7 minutes in length.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Noam Chomsky Speaks About Human Destiny

A short but powerful message from Noam Chomsky.

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Election Security Update for Mexico and the USA

It is important for us to bear witness to what is happening in Mexico, not only because it is an event of profound and unprecedented significance in the troubled political history of the country that shares the USA's southern border, but also because of what Lopez Obrador's laboratory of democratic resistance might tell us about our own future.

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Canada set to apologise to man wrongly deported

Canada's Parliament said on Wednesday that it should apologise to a Canadian citizen for Ottawa's role in his wrongful deportation by the United States to what he describes as a hell-hole prison in Syria.

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Politics and Science

So far I have received a few comments both on politics and science in this blog. I believe that all knowledge benefits from the scientific discipline, but not all political items in this blog have been so disciplined. The scientific worldview is a state of mind; to the extent that I posses that mindset these musings will live up to the expectations of my readers. Please feel free to comment on my pieces to request congruence with this goal of mine.

Chávez and Palast

Read this exclusive interview of President Hugo Chávez by investigative reporter Greg Palast

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chomsky and Mathematics

Noam Chomsky has written extensively on politics. Mathematics is a discipline to careful go through our thoughts. Young minds are more susceptible to change; in my position as a high school teacher in the United States I have responsibility to guide my students to clearly draw conclusions from given information. Chomsky's analyses are thoughtful, but more than politics his contributions are in linguistics, in my mind the most mathematized of the human sciences. I aspire to lead my students towards an understanding of the reality around them so they can choose wisely their future lives. I see at least three options for their future, one, they strengthen their minds and find the most rational paths towards our survival, two, they join a protective legal organization, or three, they join an illegal protective organization.
These options are not exclusive, but I pose that without a strong mind they are more likely to join destructive organizations.

Putting his Math Where His Mouth Is

A billionaire ex-mathematician believes he has a simple formula for improving math education and making America more competitive.

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Chávez and Chomsky

The president of Venezuela broke diplomatic rules and advertised a book in front of the whole world. Noam Chomsky recently wrote a book, “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance”. In this book professor Chomsky takes a critical look at the current unipolar state of the world political landscape. The American worldview is criticised from within, in the US there is a widespread assumption that this country cannot do harm, that it is a force for progress, but Chomsky thinks that in many cases US foreign policy only has served the purposes of an elite governing the United States of America. The members of this elite have their own agenda in Iraq, like they had it previuosly in Vietnam. That agenda is not the same, by a substantial amount, like the Vitnamese agenda then or the Iraqi agenda now.
Science allows us to make an objective worldview of reality, and Dr. Chomsky shows in this book that the statement that American Hegemony is good for the world, is not an objective statement; American Hegemony is good for the United States of America.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Change Students Minds

I see my high school teacher's role as a mind changer. For reasons that I do not fully understand, that I only can guess, some students come to the classroom with me without really wanting to be there. I can take some actions like mark them absent or tardy; fail them so they cannot do what they really want to do, sports activities.

Obviously I prefer positive reinforcements as opposed to punishments. I remember a professor in college that was doing research. In Mexico that very fact, doing research, was an inspiration to me, I did not have other role models doing that. That changed my mind.

I want to change the minds of a few students so they see more options in their future. I believe I can change the minds of a fraction of my students, maybe 10%.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Revenge of Gaia

I have mentioned James Lovelock in before. The subtitle of the book I refer to here is, "Earth's Climate Crisis & the Fate of Humanity". He is 87 years old; according to him his death may be more pleasant than his children and grandchildren's deaths.
Very hot days are coming to us during this century and we may die in the midst of civilization's collapse just like it is already happening in Darfur.

Two Presidents in Mexico (Los Angeles Times story)

After the Independence Day Parade on September 16, the Mexican Democratic National Convention elected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) as President of Mexico. Therefore there are two presidents in Mexico, AMLO and Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN).

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Two Presidents in Mexico

The Democratic National Convention elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as the new president of Mexico yesterday. More than a million registered Mexicans in the Convention, decided in Mexico City's Zócalo to be represented by AMLO instead of Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa, from the National Action Party (PAN). PAN officially won the presidential election last Septemeber 6th by a decision of the Electoral Tribunal; nevertheless the Convention that started yesterday does not recognize this decision.

Therefore, there are two presidents in Mexico.

This is not the first time this happens in Mexico; in the middle of the nineteenth century there were two centers of power, Emperor Maximilian of Hapsburg, and President Benito Juárez, a Zapotec Indian of Oaxaca. At the end, Maximilian was executed in Queretaro, Mexico; and Juárez was one of the best presidents Mexico has had.

In this picture you can see the new president with his three sons under the Zócalo in a subway tunnel yesterday.

Friday, September 15, 2006

High School Student Discipline

Today I talked with a new teacher still upset by an event yesterday. High school students are younger than eighteen; after high school they can register in the Army, so I say society considers them adults only after eighteen years of age. They are in the process of becoming adults and teachers sometimes do not know how to relate to them.
The problem that caused this sad moment for my friend is not solved with the few words written here. This is a small effort to try to make sense of human relations. All of us adults have adopted strategies to deal with the others. I remember many years ago feeling sympathy for my sister that was crying because she thought our mother was not going to like what she did. I told her that I was going to blame myself so she would stop crying.
That was not a right or a wrong solution but I learned how to relate to others. Many experiences like that, with good and bad consequences made me the adult I am. High school students have not had as many years to try solutions to the problems due to their relations with the others.
There is something adults can show young ones about how to go about our lives the best we can. I am afraid many times I do not feel I have done the best for the students on my charge.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mexican Presidential Candidate Cools It

Losing candidate calls off confrontation with Mexican Army.

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Writing on Stone May Be Oldest in the Americas

A stone slab found in the state of Veracruz in Mexico bears 3,000-year-old writing previously unknown to scholars, according to archaeologists who say it is an example of the oldest script ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere.

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Monday, September 11, 2006


Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked his supporters to let the Mexican Army go through the streets of Mexico City as every year, and called for the beginning of the Democratic National Convention when the parade is over.

I do not know if the supporters are coming back with their tents after the army marches, but it seems to me that this is really going to be a peaceful movement. For all practical purposes it seems now that just as the Republicans in 2000, and 2004; in 2006 PAN is going to run Mexico six more years. I do not expect Felipe Calderón to accomplish much more than Vicente Fox in these coming six years.

On the other hand the Earth keeps warming up, Siberia snow is disappearing and it seems that in a hundred years or so, more people are going to move near the North Pole, because methane gas is being released to the atmosphere once this snow goes.

The price of gasoline is going down now that the summer driving season is coming to an end. The American middle class is going through hard times, some jobs they used to have are not available any more, the members of the middle class seem to want to limit immigration, but on the other hand people from warm climates are feeling the heat and moving north.

Interesting times are coming.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Antonio Gershenson

Many years ago I met Antonio Gershenson, by now he may not remember me, he is a clear thinking mexican physicist. The mexican government has this description of him.

"Ficha 145: Antonio Gershenson Tafelov.Responsable de atentados dinamiteros en el Distrito Federal, durante el año de 1967, en que coloca y hace detonar varios artefactos explosivos,entre ellos el de la estatua del licenciado Miguel Alemán Valdés en Ciudad Universitaria y un artefacto colocado en la Embajada de Colombia, que explota en el Laboratorio de la DIGEPOT, actualmente trabaja como físico nuclear y sus actividades son checadas esporádicamente."

He was a leader of the student movement in the sixties, and later of the nuclear energy workers' union movement, SUTIN (Union of Nuclear Industry Workers); now he is a journalist in the Mexican newspaper "La Jornada".

Unfortunately the legally elected president, Felipe Calderón, does not have a tradition of interest and knowledge about nuclear energy. I do not expect his government to advance the state of the Mexican nuclear industry. I do not expect his future government to ask Mr. Gershenson about the future of electrical energy in Mexico.

Today he published in La Jornada that the electoral tribunal started a new precedent, now it is possible to have irregularities in the ballot boxes and the tribunal will accept the results. Given this sad decision of the tribunal, the Mexican National Democratic Convention about to start next week in the Mexico City Zócalo, has to plan for a long process of democratic change in Mexico, according to Gershenson.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Computólogo mexicano explica los problemas con el conteo.

En la elecciones del 2 de julio en México hubo errores, Gerardo Horvilleur nos explica aquí como estuvo la cosa.

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Fraud in Mexican Presidential Election

The Center for Economic And Policy Research in Washington did an analysis of the election results and a court ordered partial recount. They conclude that: "...this data may provide important statistical evidence
with regard to the question of fraud. It is difficult to think of a legitimate reason for withholding this information."

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Immanuel Wallerstein

``The mark of the modern world is the imagination of its profiteers and the counter-assertiveness of the oppressed. Exploitation and the refusal to accept exploitation as either inevitable or just constitute the continuing antinomy of the modern era, joined together in a dialectic which has far from reached its climax in the twentieth century."

Immanuel Wallerstein understands the world in terms of profiteers and oppressed. The quote above taken from Wikipedia, illustrates this view. At this very moment there is a movement in Mexico, the oppresed are saying no to the oppressor.

James Lovelock thinks in terms of the Earth as a system he calls Gaia, Wallerstein thinks of human societies and the world economy as systems also.

In this view of systems, I see Mexico as a system with feedback mechanisms that direct its evolution; it seems to me that Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has the pulse of the Nation, and is leading a whole country in new directions, expressing the will of the oppressed.

President Vicente Fox planned a state of siege situation to stop the voice of the people, AMLO did not played that violent game and asked the representatives of his party inside the legislative chamber to stop the President from giving his State of the Nation speech. AMLO won this battle, the system is moving.

LA Times analysis of Mexican Presidential Election Process

Analysis of what is happening south of the border right now.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Mexican President State of the Union Document

You can read the state of the Union speech in Spanish here

Mexican President Cannot deliver his State of the Union Speech

Mexican history has been made today. President Fox lost control of Congress.
You can read this story here also

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Mexican President does not Have Power

It is almost night o'clock; Mexican President Fox could not give his State of the Union speech. He cannot even control Congress. These are hard times for the Mexican people.

Last State of the Union in Mexico

In about half an hour Mexican President Vicente Fox will address the Mexican Nation. As a Mexican living abroad I am not impressed with his performance, every day I see more Mexicans of different social classes trying to make a living in the US. At this point I do not see how going back will I see a better place to live. I am struggling here in the US, but at least I see more potential for my personal growth and that of my family, maybe in a few years that  will change, but at this point I do not see it.

I am satisfied teaching Mexican students recently arrived to the US. We say the pledge of allegiance every morning, we accept the laws of this country. I do not see a burning desire from the Mexicans I know here to go enjoy the country that Fox made.

For me this is a sad day, Fox failed us.

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