Sunday, February 28, 2010
"The narrative fallacyAnother issue is the "narrative fallacy" which refers to our tendency to construct stories around facts, which in love for example may serve a purpose, but when someone begins to believe the stories and accommodate facts into the stories, they are likely to err."
History may be more like sudden "butterfly effects" and less like ordered slow processes.
If Ferguson is right; then tighten your seat belts for the wild ride that may happen if President Obama does not have what it takes to stop the American Know Nothing movement putting us in the brink of collapse.
A ticket to Stockholm, anybody?
The American Taliban has come to life.
Jeremy Jenkins is an American in a Bizarro World, the real world Taliban is Stack.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Not in my wildest dreams would've I imagined this situation. I am going home, more than 3000 miles away from where I was born.
I am following Roberto Bolaño's advice: Abandon Everything, Again.
More and more we live in an Information World. The real mortar and bricks world is there of course; but this is a New World, Man!
I am with my beautiful children. I am home, right? All my books are here.
WTF, as the kids now say.
2. Lady Gaga, "Poker Face"
3. Black Eyed Peas, "Boom Boom Pow"
4. Jason Mraz, "I'm Yours"
5. Coldplay, "Viva La Vida"
6. Lady Gaga, "Just Dance"
7. Flo Rida, "Low"
8. Taylor Swift, "Love Story"
9. Leona Lewis, "Bleeding Love"
10. Ke$ha, "Tick Tock"
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
I am watching the National Governors Association meeting at the White House. I wish that level of civility was shown between the equivalent actors in Mexico. Sometimes I feel we are in the middle of an undeclared civil war. After seventy one years of "perfect" dictatorship as the Peruvian intellectual Mario Vargas Llosa, once put it.
"In 1990, during a debate with Octavio Paz, Mario Vargas Llosa described Mexico's political system as "the perfect dictatorship". Vargas Llosa was referring to the way the PRI, Mexico's monolithic political party, had controlled almost every aspect of the country's life for over sixty years."
A Perfect Dictatorship?
Mexican Democracy is in its infancy. Politicians here have been known for taking both houses of Government, and just sit down there making a point. I guess you could say that is a "Mexican Filibuster". Somehow I feel that now it is almost impossible to get reasonable agreements, like Obama is tryng to get with the Nation's Governors.
I hope I am wrong and Mexicans can see the awful state of our educational system, and just consider something like Obama's plan to fix the American one.
I liked Obama's emphasis today in the White House. Los Pinos, i.e. the Mexican equivalent looks bad in comparison.
I hope the Palins, and the McCains, and the rest o'em, stop the nonsense and join in this epochal effort to get a Second Chance. America may loose its opportunity to be on top for two hundred years.
This is the time to accept the challenge, as Obama said today.
The top 5 teams were announced and our team took 5th place among 83 teams."
Taken from Speech Team information to parents.
I am proud of the students, they are among the five best teams in the state of Illinois.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Prof. Strogatz continues with his very interesting series on numbers in the NYT.
You can read there about division. Here I write my take on numbers.
It all starts with the counting numbers, that as Kronecker said, God gave us. I believe that even these counting numbers do not exist but in our head. You know, I am a radical materialist. I do not believe in any π in the sky. All numbers are electrical and chemical marks in our cerebral mass. From there they "jump" to marks in silicon wafers, designed in California, and more and more, actually put together in China.
Nevertheless by the time we go to school, we all but forgot where these counting things came from. Hazy memories in not very reflective little heads. Somehow I saw in my mind's eye the image of that little girl that dozes off in mid class in Peanuts comic strips. That makes them God given.
Then we start with more grown up stuff.
n+1 is the next number.
n+1 = 1+n (mh, neat)
1 + x = 2
I know that, x is one. Good boy, good boy.
And so on and so forth. We engage in games, and we think we are discovering transcendental truths, to later fill in Ph.D. theses.
At some point we come up with someting like:
1 + x = 1
Weird, what can this be?
And volià, there is zero!
Now you can read Prof. Strogatz take on things like these.
You can see a review in the link above. Like always I write my comments here.
We are tamed beasts. Carnivorous ancestors were not nice, and they live within us, as anybody that accepts Darwin's theory of evolution, like I do, believes. This beautiful woman, Gwen Conliffe, tames and kills the beast inside Lawrence Talbot, unfortunately the human dies also.
This fundamental tension was discovered by Sigmund Freud almost a hundred years ago. The writer Robert Louis Stevenson produced a classic version of this fact, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now I write here my take.
As any mildly observant individual knows, rage can transform us. I remember hitting the wall so hard, that I dented the plaster. We can move quite fast when the adrenaline comes, only to be exhausted, a moment later.
More than of the sudden rage attacks, I am now more worried about our slow destruction of the environment, for which we seem to be much less prepared. Slow boiling frogs, that is what we are.
What I write about here is a bit different.
How far can we take irrationality in our public decisions. I start with a few clarifications, and definitions.
Government Power: A group from the country decides what all the country will do.
Rationality: Basically the use of the Scientific Method for humanity's survival.
Whenever I hear a political debate I feel uncomfortable. One strategy is to keep things obscure so nobody does know what you mean. At the end you say, therefore cut taxes, and the crowd cheers.
I feel like saying: We are all going to die like lemmings. Independently of what or why these little creatures do, what they do, I am thinking; this is nuts, all of us are going to die, don't they see it?
The problem is that political situations usually are not clear cut to begin with, apart from the conscious efforts by "politicians" to obfuscate and make a point. Democrats want to kill your granma, oh no, oh no.
Being a teacher, I can also see that our students have not developed critical skills. The education system has failed us. They are easy prey to demagogues.
If the US government allows the health system of the country to collapse. All of us should run for cover. Riots, and more are likely to happen. When? That is the problem. I do not know.
The day will come, though.
You read it here first.
One concept, three cultures.
We can read in Wikipedia about zero.
This is Zero in Maya.
The third, and more important part of this note, is what I learned from Prof. Domingo Yojcom Rocché .
Europeans of the Renaissance used roman numerals by decree of the Catholic Church, and thus the State. We can read in p. 24 of Teresi's book:
"Meanwhile, in India about a thousand years earlier, mathematicians were doing multiplication and division the "modern" way, as well as algebra and even a crude form of calculus.
Now, imagine yourself again in fifteenth-century Italy. You are, let's say, a bookseller. You need to keep track of sales and inventory. You need to pay your suppliers, total your sales, calculate your overhead, determine your profit or loss. How would you do this? Certainly not with roman numerals; even the simplest arithmetic using roman (or Greek) numerals was beyond all but advanced scholars. Furthermore, there is no roman numeral for zero; in fact, there is no concept of zero, of nothingness, in European math of this era. How do you get your accounts to balance?
Like other merchants, you keep a secret set of books, in the globar, or Gwalior, numerals, the so-called Hindu-Arabic numerals, which date from approximately first- to eigth-century A.D. India. They look something like this: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9. You would keep these books secret because in 1348 the ecclesiastical authorities of the University of Padua prohibited the use of "ciphers" in the price lists of books, ruling that prices must be stated in "plain" letters. A century earlier, a Florentine edict had forbidden bankers to use the "infidel" symbols."
Teresi quotes Lancelot Hogben, Mathematics for the Million (London: Allen & Unwin, 1942), p. 245, as a source.
Now the Asian contribution you can read from the Wikipedia article on Zero I link above.
Nevertkeless little is known about Maya.
Why is that so?
As Prof. Yojcom told us in private conversation, the recent revolution war in Guatemala, allows them to talk now. They were silenced by the same elites that want to destroy Evo Morales's government in Bolivia, at the same time that I am writing this. That is why we do not know the Maya, and Inca version of events. They have been, are, and will be tried to keep quiet by Europeans living in America since 1521 that Hernán Cortés took Mexico Tenochtitlán by force.
That is why.
neutrality of this section is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (December 2007)
After 489 years we do not agree on what happened in Mexico Tenochtitlán. That should tell you something.
I agree with Jared Diamond. In the book: Guns, Germs, and Steel he strongly argues for the biological explanation of the defeat of Mexico.
From the Wikipedia article on The Conquest of Mexico cited above you can read:
"Smallpox decimates the local population
While Cortés was rebuilding his alliances and garnering more supplies, a smallpox epidemic struck. The disease was brought by a Spanish slave from Narvaez’s forces, who had been abandoned in the capital during the Spanish flight. The disease broke out in Tenochtitlan in late October; the epidemic lasted sixty days, ending by early December. Many of the residents of Tenochtitlan died from disease, but starvation also devastated the population. Since so many were afflicted, people were unable to care for others, and many starved to death. While the population of Tenochtitlan was recovering, the disease continued to Chalco, a city on the southeast corner of Lake Texcoco that was formerly controlled by the Aztecs but now occupied by the Spanish. The disease killed an estimated forty percent of the native population in the area within a year. The Aztecs codices give ample depictions of the disease's progression. It was known to them as the huey ahuizotl (great rash). Cuitlahuac contracted the disease and died after ruling for only eighty days. Though the disease drastically decreased the numbers of warriors on both sides, it had more dire consequences for the leadership on the side of the Aztecs, as they were much harder hit by the smallpox than the Spanish leadership."
If there are any Europeans out there, still believing that Amerindians can be easily domesticated, I tell you. Now all surviving Amerindians are immune to European diseases, do not try this again. Leave Bolivia if all you think is in ripping off the land as Europeans have done for almost five hundred years in this Continent.
Today, President Juan Evo Morales Ayma is in Mexico Tenochtitlan as the President of the Inca from Bolivia. Yesterday he went to present his respects to the only Amerindian who was president of these lands after the defeat of Cuauhtemoc in Tenochtitlan. He was the great man: Benito Pablo Juárez García.
I expect these new political leaders of our Continent, to finally allow the ancient knowledge of Amerindians to be known all over the world.
The last word on Zero has not been said.
"240,000 Aztecs are estimated to have died during the siege, which lasted eighty days. "
Taken from Fall of Tenochtitlan (Wikipedia)
We do not forget. Time has come to tell our side of the story.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
"After the recessions in 1990 and in 2001, 31 and 46 months passed before employment returned to its previous peaks. The economy was growing, but companies remained conservative in their hiring."
Those numbers caught my attention. I remember 1960, 1970, and 1980, as equally lean years. I was in California from 1970 to 1980 basically. When I got there, I had the impression that jobs were scarce, then when I left ten years later, I felt the same thing.
Isn't it interesting, 2012, is just across the corner, and it looks grim already.
Our lives also seem to be arranged in decades. First, read, write, and arithmetic. Second, adolescence. Third, early adulthood. Fourth, maturity. Fifth, late adulthood. Sixth, early senectude. Seventh, mature senectude. Eight, late senectude. After that is all up for grabs. If you believe in Ray Kurzweil; that is the beginning of your eternal life.
I vote yes. There is a ten year cycle in the economy. This is the time to get ready then. Those of us that were born in the beginning of a sunspot cycle, get ready to start rolling again. As Bolaño said: ABANDON EVERYTHING, AGAIN.
I have a little story from my neck of the woods, that everyday looks more and more, like the Illinois suburbs, where my family lives. Here in Chilpancingo, I witnessed a heart wrenching family reunion.
A professor in the Math Department introduced me to his beautiful daughter, just one year older than my son. She is comig from New York, her mother took her there, but she was not able to provide her with a high school education. Since the girl got here a few days late, now she is enrolled in a kind of GED program in Chilpancingo.
Jobs are hard to get in the US. This girl's mother has siblings in New York, so they thought they could take care of the girl. She ended up working instead of going to school. The American Dream Was Not.
I feel that most Americans do not realize how intertwined our two countries are. We are very aware here, of the North Colossus, as we call it sometimes. But for Americans, Mexicans are invisible. I just remembered a line in an Adrien Brody movie, Bread and Roses. One Mexican character says, for Americans we are invisible. Mexican-Americans are so alien for Americans, that I have found this movie in the FOREIGN section of Blockbuster, in Wheaton, IL.
Guatemalans feel the same way about us, but that is another story.
My friend is taking care of his daughter, now that she is here. She will get a high school education as she is supposed to.
Some of my kids at East Aurora High School, find me in social networks online, and they are very happy. They are Mexican children whose parents took them to the US for a better life. Now some of them have told me that they are coming back to Mexico, and seem glad that I got this job at the University of Guerrero.
Millions of Unemployed says the NYT. I have no idea of where we are going, all I can tell you is that it doesn't look easy; fat years are over writes Tom Friedman today. I couldn't agree more.
A final note. It is not true that Americans don't care. Nick Desideri who won first place for Extemporaneous Speaking (ES) in the State Speech Competition, in Peoria, as you can read in the note below; wrote a paper on his recent trip to Mexico, with warmth and sorrow for the lot of Mexican kids, as he saw it. I met him in an ice cream parlor, while he was celebrating with other members of the WWSHS speech team after some activity. His face was so intelligent and good natured, that I couldn't help liking him immediately. I know that for him, Mexicans are not invisible. He cares.
Nick Desideri is the only first place so far.
These are today's results up to now.
There is something wrong with these results. My kids from Glenbard East and East Aurora are nowhere to be seen. Only the rich kids get to State. Discrimination!
I won't scrap this post. I'll be here until is over, and then the numbers will be final.
Even if Lev didn't get a first place, he already has some scholarship money to go to College. Now we have to partner, so he can succeed in College.
Lev got sixth place in Performance in the Round, but so did other three people. Four sixth places, so far. This has been a hard battle for the whole team. Even Andreas Tsironis, that had two first places, got in fourth today. Tough Finals!
Jeff Saba went from two first places prior to today's competition to sixth!
I saw Ryan Eakins and Emma Rubinstein at Glenbard West, January 9, 2010. They got fourth place. The kids from Neuqua Valley won. I told Ryan afterwards that I was glad I was not the judge. They were all so good.
The current top teams are here. They are in fifth place. Not bad.
This is a better view. They are fifth by teams, out of 35 possible positions. With a score of 17, the next up has 24 points. These kids are good. Hinsdale Central is close though, with 15 points. They could lose their fifth place.
It's Over. These are the final results.
Oak Lawn and Thornwood tied in first place with 24 points. Then Downers Grove South and Glenbard West have 23, and finally Wheaton Warrenville South 17, beat Hinsdale Central that got 15.
p.s. I followed it in Twitter.
Nick Desideri from Wheaton W. South wins Extemp. 2nd Neuqua Valley, 3rd Sandburg, 4th DGS, 5th Oak Lawn, 6th Belleville West.
Weird. The four top teams have 24, 24, 23, and 23 points. They won by a nose. Being speech, maybe by a tongue.
Let's think it through.
What will happen if after the Sunnis decide to call it quits; Join the Baath party and go at it again: What will happen in Iraq?
They will get somebody like that Captain Amanullah of my Afghan post below, and rule the country. Then what?
The US will be several trillion dollars wiser, according to Stiglitz calculation of the cost of these things, and we will have to live with another dictator, of the tens, if not already hundreds that are ruling countries right now.
Just a thought.
I will see him next week, we have some talking to do. Life is hard, and all that kind of stuff. I have to be near, so we can move on.
I am very close to my mother, and she is not well. She is taking it very well though. I also feel time passing. I am not the one I used to be; but I do not want to feel sorry for myself; that is not me.
Definitely, my son and I should bond.
The place where I was formed, my mother's womb, may have to go.
It was the early 1990s. I was at the Autonomous University of Puebla. A friend of mine, Arturo Fernández Téllez, had spent a year as a postdoc at Fermilab, in Batavia, IL. Arturo brought the Internet to our campus. Our University was very likely one of the first in the state to have an Internet connection: and with it, he brought Augusto B. D'Oliveira, a Brazilian physicist to work with us.
Then I went to spend my sabbatical year, in 1994 at the Physics Department, of this fine research institution. When I was there I was pleasantly surprised to find two friends from UCSB, Don Summers, and Umeshwar P. Joshi. Don was part of the experiment I joined, E-791.
The problem had been, before I got there, to record and analyze the biggest charm quark data set ever produced. For this gargantuan task, brains started to strategize to get a supercomputer of new design. Don thought of the cheapest solution that he still uses in the UMiss Physics Department; the UMiss HEP Computer "Farm".
Don wanted to make data, not money.
Larry Page, and Sergey Brin, wanted to make money with data. I wonder if they even know about Don?
Now Google wants to buy big lots in Mountain View, and the neighbors are not happy.
So it goes.
Today I read in the NYT the paragraph above.
This is the relationship between higher ups and grunts in the Afghan National Army (ANA, that name won't scare anybody). The scene in my head was that of a primate alpha male. I am sure Americans also have their animal side, we are all animals, that is the point of this note.
Problem is, animals may not survive: Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin',
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin',
But I'll know my song well before I start singin',
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Corrieri del Veneto
Il professor Bagni cade con la bici e muore
Rest in peace.
Here I will present the minumum role that Information Theory plays in Science. More sophisticated situations may appear in future contributions.
I am reading right now one of the papers that represent the culmination of over twenty yers of work by Alexei V. Filippenko et al..
Besides the impressive amount of work this paper represents, it is a good example of my point here.
The Lick Observatory Supernova Search (LOSS) is an important contribution to our understanding of this amazing group of natural phenomena.
The paper I use here for my example, in its own right, is a good example of the general use of Information ideas in the description of reality.
From the D. Maoz et al. paper cited above we get.
"VESPA SFHs consists of 3505 galaxies that hosted 201 SNe, among them 82 SNe Ia, 93 SNe II, and 26 SNe Ibc (see Filippenko 1997 for a review of SN types; here we classify SNe Ib and Ic as “Ibc”)."
This is the sample.
Now what do they do with it?
Using the known Information, they maximize a probability function to get the best fit parameters.
This is the basic technique of statistical methods in science. Not only physicists, any scientist presents data using this method. The oldest application I know of, is Legendre's linear regresion method of 1805.
This Scientific Statistical Method is best when, like in Filippenko's case, all the data were obtained with the same procedure, this way one gets a uniform sample with less uncertainty. Of course one needs corroborating teams to validate results. In this case they get together with another group, SDSS. Not everything was measured by the LOSS collaboration, but for this paper they work closely with at least one other team. In cases where they cannot get together; then objectively they have to add systematic uncertainties to consider this lack of Information.
"With these techniques one can conclude things like: at the 99% confidence level, this test supports the existence of SNe Ia that explode within 420 Myr after star formation."
"Furthermore, examining the time integrals over the best-fit DTD in each of the bins, and attempting to correct for the leak from bin 1 to bin 2, suggests a relative contribution to the total SN Ia numbers of (prompt:medium:delayed) ≈2:2:1. However, this is subject to large statistical and systematic uncertainties."
Both quotes tell us the kinds of things we can learn from an statistical analysis of the data, together with some physical assumptions that the authors try to quantify.
The quantitative result "... suggests a relative contribution to the total SN Ia numbers of (prompt:medium:delayed) ≈2:2:1", seems to me an important take away point. Half very delayed, and most promptly produced SN Ia. Now I have numbers in my head, i.e., new Information, based on painstakingly work by these scientists, consistent with the given Information they started with.
Here in Chilpancingo I read today in the paper that a University official may be behind unfair practices in the Rector election.
I remember something I read recently, elites are there, because they can.
Not always governments are there by majority agreement.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
My wife and I were restless, not very happy in Puebla, and we were talking to him.
He just said something to the effect, just pack up and leave.
That made me think. I took a long time to finally leave Puebla. I recently read the "Manifiesto Infrarealista". DÉJENLO TODO, NUEVAMENTE. Leave everything again.
Taken from ther NYT .
That almost sounds like a Law of Nature. Let's see if the know-nothings kill us all by stupidity.
I was not re-hired by two high schools in Illinois. I felt out of place in a Community College in the same state, and I left Mexico twelve years ago, because I was not making enough money, and I felt that the scientific ambitions of my peers did not inspire me.
I feel miscast.
Obviously I am the manager of my abilities; it seems then, that I am failing as a manager.
I may be a good teacher, but only to certain type of student. I am patient though, don't take this description in the wrong way. It is just that I think faster than I talk; and the worry expressed in this note, is that students may be even slower than I talk. Impedance matching, is the term I learned in Electrical Engineering school, I feel that sometimes I am not properly matched.
In Ref. , a novel proxy for observers was proposed: the production of matter entropy. The formation of any complex structure (and thus, of observers in particular), is necessarily accompanied by an increase in the entropy of the environment. Thus, entropy production is a necessary condition for the existence of observers. In a region where no entropy is produced, no observers can form. The "entropic principle" is the assumption that the number of observers is proportional, on average, to the amount of entropy produced:
Now I have to connect Entropy with PATH.
Bousso is giving us a way to navigate the String Theory Landscape of solutions. As he writes in the quote I posted in the first note of this series. "String theory produces an eternally inflating multiverse". Also we can say that there are 10500 solutions. We need new methods to search such huge sets. Notice that the exponent is a "regular" number, i.e., the kind of number we are used to deal with in daily life. Say, five hundred cents make five bucks. As an exponent though, it goes beyond what we are used to consider. In The Sand Reckoner, Archimedes treats his contemporaries to such big numbers.
""But I will try to show you by means of geometrical proofs, which you will be able to follow, that, of the numbers named by me and given in the work which I sent to Zeuxippus, some exceed not only the number of the mass of sand equal in magnitude to the Earth filled up in the way described, but also that of the mass equal in magnitude to the universe." "
Archimedes invented exponents and found the rules to treat them. That is the mathematical key to deal with big numbers.
Now enter computer science and Entropy. The PATH variable, and S.
You can do a simple experiment to get an idea of what I am talking about. Type John in Google.
Results 1 - 10 of about 1,060,000,000 for john [definition]. (0.44 seconds)
There are 109 successes found in half a second! Archimedes would be overjoyed.
Obviously Page and Brin brought math to the masses. I am sure that somewhere in their PhD theses, they must use the ideas represented by the PATH variable. Boltzmann gave us the same insight with:
Bousso then, is telling us to concentrate on the exponent, not the number. Follow the exponent, not the number. His Entropic principle draws attention to exponents. The number of observers he says, is proportional to the amount of Entropy produced, formula (1.1).
My only point here is that the PATH variable in UNIX limits the size of the landscape. I guess that expert Unix programmers, have long definitions for their PATH variable, not like the default one I put in the previous note.
Software engineers then keep track of long searches with this elementary method, and more sophisticated ones like version control, or trace software. Here you have an example.
More to come.
Now comes the controversy and two comments.
According to Cochran, et al., European social mores "bred" a new kind of human group, Ashkenazi Jews. The members of this group, from around 500 of the Common Era, to the present, have been bred in that part of the World, for "brains". The kind of intelligence IQ tests are good at. It was not a controlled experiment; actually there were no bad or good intentions about the outcome, it was simply that Jews were not allowed to govern Germany, Poland, or Russia; just to mention three countries where this human experiment happened.
Jews good at maths, prospered and had more children, dull ones in these activities, were not good producers of children, in other words; they were poor.
I know, and admire several members of this group from my country. Marcos Moshinski, Jerzy Plebanski, Jacob Bekenstein, José Wudka, Benjamín Grinstein, and Arturo Rosenblueth.
Maybe is the soup: Borscht. Maybe the Torah, who knows.
My point here is that we have great US economists, all over the political spectrum, advising American presidents. The only Jew that wanted to be president is Joe Lieberman. No luck here yet . The economists are Milton Friedman, Larry Summers, and two that give free advice on TV and newspapers. Paul Krugman, and Joe Stiglitz.
Please don't take this post the wrong way, my wife, and therefore my two children, belong to this group.
Here comes the comment:
My late father in law, used to say: There are always two temples in every Jewish community: the one you go to, and the one you don't go to.
Jewish people are as diverse as any other group of people I have come in contact with; and that is the comment:
I couldn't stop feeling the irony of today's interview by Amy Goodman in Democracy Now! with Joe Stiglitz; when she asked. What is your assessment of Larry Summers....
Just watch the show.
My last comment is; I love brains.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
No great debate, just the feeling that most of us will unite for the good of the group was enough. It was a subtle touch from the leaders.
I did talk but didn't lobby strongly for any candidate. The one chosen seems to me the one that will give more help to the school. Problem is, I don't know if he will win.
The level of democratic activity in this mathematics school, is not very high. But it seems that something unites us somehow.
At a certain level we showed a bit of courage, at a more realistic level, we are setting up this school to be badgered for the next four years.
So it goes.
We are electing Rector; there are two candidates, right now most of the professors decided to support one of them. Two of the elders told us what they think. The younger ones, some had made their minds. I am new here, so until this morning I was not decided. Now I know.
This decision can affect my chances of continuing in this place. Our candidate does not seem to be the most popular in the university.
Let the light be with us.
"Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of repentance."
Taken from the link above.
Do I repent?
I make mistakes. I try, and then I see what went wrong. I try again, and so it goes, on, and on, and on ..
I am in the hands of people with less power, and more need, than I thought before. I can help, yes, but can they help me with the rest of my life? I feel that they will try, but in the last analysis, the buck stops with me.
I have to come with a good decision, given the Information I have.
I believe that most of theoretical physics is overvalued guess work. Statisticians, are less presumptuous, they openly tell us that they don't know, but their best guess is such and such. Reductionist Theoretical Physicists like me, promise ourselves and the rest of the world, certainty.
I believe in certainty less and less as the final moment of my life approaches. I do not even know when that moment will be.
I know I was born and I did good work in most of my school activities. Research wise, I have not been successful. I don't give up though, and my Ash Wednesday meditation is on how to succeed as a researcher.
People close to me have succeeded. I believe I have made a good mental model of important ideas, and I hope to apply them from now on. Nevertheless there are some basic things I haven't done, like building a war chest. I am really financially disarmed.
I know that as time passes something grows and something fades away. Success, I think, is having the growing part that you chose beforehand, and the one you didn't want, fading away.
My next move should be guided on my best assessment of where am I right now and where am I going? If I use a "Law of Nature" to achieve that, the better, but more and more, I am starting to believe that those laws do not exist. E pur si muove! In my case I should say; but I have to decide.
As a concept matter comes earlier in life. Energy requires more acculturation, maybe a Physics section of a textbook for a class in grammar school. I believe Information comes later to our minds. For a physicists like me, it comes around the time one considers thermodynamics. More precisely when one studies Maxwell-Boltzmann's distribuition in Statisitcal Mechanics.
Engineers and mathematicians take another step with Shannon's insight on the entropic character of Information.
There is a way to axiomatize Thermodynamics with Information Theory. It comes through the so-called, Fundamental Postulate.
Here is my take on this route.
All statistical formulations assume that we don't know everything. With the Information we have, we have to advance to a state of higher Information content.
In our lifetimes then, Information increases unlike energy, that for a closed system remains constant. Of course we also forget, and we have to keep some kind of Information balance sheet. We write and erase information, just like with a Turing strip.
On the other hand, in a closed system Entropy increases until it reaches thermodynamic equilibrium, and some energy is lost into heat, we get free energy (F) which is less than energy (E):
My problem now is to connect this wholly human notion, to non-living pieces of stuff.
I have not done that; but I am encouraged by Jacob Bekenstein, Verlinde, and now Gao's concern about this elusive concept in Physics.
Beautiful women trying to save their children, it is very sad and heart warming to watch them.
No war with Iran, no war, period!
I do not like this.
As you may or may not know. South America is closer to the Revolutionary Government of Iran than North America.
Mexico is in the middle.
I do not like this.
But then again; who asks me, right?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The hotmail.com accounts in my distribution lists have been bouncing lately. Today I did an experiment and resent the e-mail without any html links. It went through. It seems then, that yahoo doesn't want me to send links.
"If you feel you have received this error for a message that should be accepted, we encourage you to provide us with detailed information about the rejected message."
I don't feel like asking for clearance. I do not like to interact with people for things machines should be able to do.
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They think I am a spammer!
Monday, February 15, 2010
It is with grave concern that I share this with you. I have been following the white wounded tiger for several years now. You know, I do not look like a Swede or a Finish. I look more like an Arab, or a Gypsy. The members of the Tea Party look alien to me.
I assume I look alien to them.
Are we going to have a high noon moment?
I used to play soccer when I was a kid, whenever both teams started to throw blows at the other team, I run to stop the fight. That is me.
Can I stop this fight?
This is what I have been trying to do with this blog. Get enlightened people, the sky is falling, this is no time to panic.
After reading these five pages in the NYT, I feel that something ugly is coming. I do not know if it will give you comfort if I tell you that in my neck of the woods, war drums are also strong.
Bring it on?
That will be the end.
Sarah Palin calm your troops; this is no tea party!
From the NYT.
I am not paid by Wall Street, but if this man is one of their best defenders, I am worried about the future of this country.
Where in there does it say that the US has to be putting money into factories and infrastructure, instead of financial institutions? Maybe you can read between the lines, or have read the whole piece. I did not see a rational approach to the economic problems that he mentions. As far as I can see Mr. Paulson talks about avoiding harsh measures against Wall Street. The reforms he advocates to ensure our long-term prosperity, sound hollow to me.
I was making the following mental picture while reading his proposal. A big world wide committee of rich countries, making sure that the rest of us get what we deserve for our work. Who will be in that committee? Mr. Paulson, Mr. Summers,or Mr. Geithner? Maybe if Mr. Krugman is interested, I'll give it a second thought.
Of course I think like this because I have been reading Bob Herbert:
"The great danger right now is that we will do exactly the wrong thing, that we’ll turn away from our screaming infrastructure needs and let the deterioration continue. With infrastructure costs so high (the needs are enormous and enormously expensive) and with the eyes in Washington increasingly focused on deficit reduction, the absolutely essential modernizing of the American infrastructure may not take place. That would be worse than foolish. It would be tragic."
Who needs ice, when you have boats?
I just wonder. When did the first humans walked in Chilpancingo?
60th Berlin Film Festival - Revolucion - Photocall
The gang's name is then "The Assassin Artists". That sounds like The Savage Detectives.
I wonder if any of these kids read Roberto Bolaño?
Today Notimex, the Mexican Government news agency reported:
"Además de las mesas de trabajo que iniciaron hoy, también se pondrán en marcha mesas de diálogo sobre desarrollo económico y seguridad pública, conforme a la estrategia "Todos Somos Juárez, Reconstruyamos la Ciudad", que los gobierno están enriqueciendo con las propuestas de todos lo sectores de Ciudad Juárez."
Besides the working groups that started today, dialogue groups on economic development and public safety, will start: according to the strategy. "We all are Juarez, let us Rebuild the City", which the government is enriching with all the proposals from Ciudad Juarez's sectors .
I wonder if the Mexican Government knows who organizes these Assassins?
In the 2666 novel one gets the impression that very powerful people are behind this kind of gangs.
Isn't it interesting that Adam Riess happened to be working with Alex Filippenko at this time at Berkeley? Adam must seriously be considered, by the wise men of Physics, to take a trip to Stockholm in the not so distant future.
Thirteen thousand million years after the moment of appearance of this Universe of ours, give or take a few months, while he finished at Harvard and moved to Berkeley, and voilà, there he is, looking at the most distant Supernova Ia ever observed. Lucky guy!
Lucky us! Now we know that the cosmological constant is not as little as it once seemed. Now Bousso, and Filippenko, of Berkeley; put us right there, just to see and understand what we see.
This novel is more preposterous than anything García Márquez ever wrote.
They say that Roberto Bolaño wrote the first novel of the XXIst century: 2666. I really didn't see anything so outrageous as this in that book. I guess authors of this century still have a chance to write that coming masterpiece.
"Online book review site The Complete Review gave it an "A+", normally reserved for a small handful of books, saying:
- "Forty years after García Márquez shifted the foundations with One Hundred Years of Solitude, Bolaño has moved them again. 2666 is, simply put, epochal. No question, the first great book of the twenty-first century." "
- Taken from the Wikipedia article on 2666.
Maybe I'll give it a try here:
"It was only until the end of the XXth century that we saw where we came from and where we were going to..."
Going back to Bolaño. The guy was cryptic, maybe he did write about Supernovae Ia, and it just escaped this dense reader. I'll leave it to you to judge:
From the Wikipedia note on 2666:
"The title of 2666 is typical of the book's mysterious qualities. This was the title of the manuscript rescued from Bolaño's desk after his passing, the book having been the primary effort of the last five years of his life. There is no reference in the novel to this number, although it makes appearances in more than one of the author's other works. Henry Hitchings has noted that "The novel's cryptic title is one of its many grim jokes; there is no reference to this figure in its 900 pages. However, in another of his novels, Amulet, a road in Mexico City is identified as looking like 'a cemetery in the year 2666'. Why this particular date? Perhaps it's because the biblical exodus from Egypt, a vital moment of spiritual redemption, was supposed to have taken place 2,666 years after the Creation.""
You can follow the events at:
Lev is in Performance in the Round. They were second in 2004 (He was not in the team then). This year to Peoria, maybe with his help they'll do better.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
All we need is Entropy, i.e., Information. Then we get matter and everything else. Or is it?
What about 1d-CAs?
What Vancea and Santos did, was to end the regular Physics part of the work. Planck's constant led them to the correct mathematical quantum generalization of Verlinde's idea. But what does it all mean?
Here is the Mexican contribution from Chilpancingo.
Raphael Bousso has clearly explained that we are using the Entropic Principle to navigate the String Landscape; just across the Golden Gate Bridge, at Stanford, Lenny Susskind, wrote a book for the masses to tell us about the Cosmic Landscape.
We only know what we can see all the way to the Cosmic Wall. With that Information we have to make a Theory to guide us in our Cosmic Journey. There is no way we will ever know all that there is to know; because, as in the beautiful line at the end of the Back to the Future Trilogy, Dr. Brown tells us that the future has not happened yet. It is all for us to make it.
Long Live Free Will!
The Quantum Theory of Gravity, can only guide us to make the most informed decisions, so we don't end up just destroying this beautiful Earth, because as García Márqez says, we won't have a second chance.
We have the Holy Grail of Theoretical Physics. Finally I can see glimpses of a Quantum Theory of Gravity, founded on Information.
The Quantum It from Bit; came during the Rio de Janeiro 2010 Carnival!
Awesome, I don't think even Gabriel García Márquez would have foreseen this.
The child of Aureliano and his aunt, Amaranta Úrsula. The child was born with a pig's tail, as the eldest and long dead Úrsula had always feared would happen (the parents of the child had never heard of the omen). The mother died after giving birth to her son, and due to the negligence of his grief-stricken father, the son is devoured by ants. When he sees the corpse, Aureliano is hit with the realization of the parchment's meaning."
The meaning is:
"porque las estirpes condenadas a cien años de soledad no tienen una segunda oportunidad sobre la tierra"
"He [Aureliano II ] had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."
"It’s an ugly picture. But it’s important to understand the nature of Europe’s fatal flaw. Yes, some governments were irresponsible; but the fundamental problem was hubris, the arrogant belief that Europe could make a single currency work despite strong reasons to believe that it wasn’t ready."
I have a nephew living in Barcelona. I hope he is OK.
Fortunately her sister is already gainfully employed in Querétaro, México. Thank you.
Taken from Raphael Bousso, The Entropic Landscape.
He is a Physics Professor at UC Berkeley, and a proponent of the Entropic Principle.
He says: Cosmic horizons prevent observers from seeing all but a finite portion of the multiverse, near the vantage point at which they happen to find themselves.
I have an Ubuntu 9.04 Linux distribution installation. With a .profile file like so:
# ~/.profile: executed by the command interpreter for login shells.
# This file is not read by bash(1), if ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bash_login
# see /usr/share/doc/bash/examples/startup-files for examples.
# the files are located in the bash-doc package.
# the default umask is set in /etc/profile
# if running bash
if [ -n "$BASH_VERSION" ]; then
# include .bashrc if it exists
if [ -f "$HOME/.bashrc" ]; then
# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
if [ -d "$HOME/bin" ] ; then
What all this gobbledygook means is that my file system is huge, if I don't set some directions, with the PATH variable, at the beginning of my session, on how to go about searching for stuff, this PC will be glacially slow.
Do you see a connection?
Look for the next instalment of this topic.
If you read Spanish, you can follow this blog.
From La Jornada:
"Los manifestantes rechazaron la
manera ineficientecon que se ha manejado la seguridad de esta urbe fronteriza, en la que, a pesar de la presencia de casi 10 mil militares y policías federales, se han cometido unos 5 mil asesinatos en los dos años recientes."
Marchers rejected the "inefficient way" with which security of this border town has been managed, where despite the presence of almost 10 thousand soldiers and federal policemen, 5 thousand murders have been committed in the last two years.
Sounds like Afghanistan: doesn't it?
Filed at 3:31 p.m. ET
MARJAH, Afghanistan (AP) -- Twelve Afghans died Sunday when two rockets fired at insurgents missed their target and struck a house during the second day of NATO's most ambitious effort yet to break the militants' grip on the country's dangerous south.
In the town of Marjah, the focal point of the operation, Marines and Afghan troops battled through sniper fire and an afternoon sandstorm Sunday that cut down their visibility to a few feet.
They tried to advance through the town, clearing houses one-by-one of explosives. But gunfire forced them numerous times to take cover in drab mudbrick compounds that they hadn't yet cleared of booby-traps. To the north, U.S. Army troops fought skirmishes with Taliban fighters, calling in a Cobra attack helicopter against the insurgents.
NATO said two rockets from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System were aimed at insurgents firing on Afghan and NATO forces, but struck 1,000 feet (300 meters) off their intended target. The rockets struck a house, killing 12 civilians, NATO said.
The civilian deaths were a blow to NATO and the Afghan government's attempts to win the allegiance of Afghans and get them to turn away from the insurgents.
''We deeply regret this tragic loss of life,'' said Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan. ''The current operation in central Helmand is aimed at restoring security and stability to this vital area of Afghanistan. It's regrettable that in the course of our joint efforts, innocent lives were lost.''
McChrystal said he had apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the accident and had suspended use of the rocket system until the incident can be reviewed.
Karzai ordered an investigation into who fired the rocket. Before the offensive began on Saturday, Karzai pleaded with Afghan and foreign military leaders to be ''seriously careful for the safety of civilians.''
NATO said one service member was killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan but it was unrelated to the offensive in Marjah.
Coalition forces have so far had two casualties in the offensive -- an American and a Briton. Afghan officials said at least 27 insurgents have been killed in the operation.
The offensive, called ''Moshtarak,'' or ''Together,'' is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, with 15,000 troops involved, including some 7,500 in Marjah itself. Most of the NATO forces taking part are American or British. Between 400 and 1,000 insurgents -- including more than 100 foreign fighters -- were believed to be holed up in Marjah.
It could take weeks to completely reclaim Marjah, according to Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, a top Marine commander in the south.
''That doesn't necessarily mean an intense gun battle, but it probably will be 30 days of clearing,'' Nicholson said. ''I am more than cautiously optimistic that we will get it done before that.''
Sniper fire forced Nicholson to duck behind an earthen bank in the northern part of the town where he toured the tip of the Marines' front line held by Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.
''The fire we just took reflects how I think this will go -- small pockets of sporadic fighting by small groups of very mobile individuals,'' he said.
Marine spokesman Capt. Abraham Sipe said troops are meeting ''light to moderate'' resistance. ''There are some areas where the enemy has chosen to stand and fight,'' he said.
The stepped-up fighting forced Marines to storm houses and residential compounds that had not been cleared of explosives.
''That does make it more difficult, but we can't let fear paralyze our actions,'' said Capt. Joshua Winfrey of Stillwater, Oklahoma, a Marine company commander.
Marines and Afghan troops used metal detectors and sniffer dogs, searching compound-to-compound for explosives rigged to explode. Blasts from controlled detonations could be heard about every 10 minutes north of the town.
To the north, a Cobra attack helicopter unleashed a Hellfire missile at a building where insurgents were believed holed up after Taliban fire pinned down a patrol for about 45 minutes.
Afghan and international troops want to secure the area, set up a local government and rush in development aid in what is seen as the first test of the new NATO strategy for turning the tide of the 8-year-old war.
NATO forces uncovered 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of ammonium nitrate and other bomb-making materials in a compound in Marjah as well as a weapons cache in Nad Ali, which lies to the north.
The United Nations said an estimated 900 families had fled the Marjah area and were registered for emergency assistance in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away.
Speaking on CNN's ''State of the Union'' TV show, James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, said the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan has changed.
''Instead of clearing the area and leaving as we frequently did in the past ... our plans call for clearing the area, holding the area, and then providing some building for the people there, better security, better economic opportunity, better governance, more of an Afghan face.''
NATO said several shuras, or council meetings, have been held with residents in Nad Ali and Marjah, with more planned as part of a larger strategy to enlist community support for the mission.
In one village, Qari Sahib, Afghan officials met with residents Sunday, promising to pave a road and build a school and a clinic. In exchange, they urged the villagers to renounce the Taliban and push militants to reintegrate into society. To show good faith, a resident who had been arrested for alleged militant activity was freed.
''Until now, there was no security,'' said villager Mohammad Ebrahim. ''We want them to build us schools and the road. So far they haven't done anything for us. Now it is time to work and they have promised to do that.''
Associated Press writers Noor Khan in Kandahar, Rahim Faiez in Helmand province, and Tini Tran and Heidi Vogt in Kabul contributed to this report.