Monday, May 31, 2010

Autopoiesis in Action

"In Denmark, Dr. Rasmussen is seeking to design the most stripped-down minimalist suggestion of a functioning cell. As he sees it, there are three basic capacities that a living cell must possess. It must have a means of channeling free energy in the environment to meet its demands: that is, it must have some form of metabolism. It must have an enclosure: a cell membrane. And it must have the informational wherewithal to reproduce itself: a genome. Dr. Rasmussen and his co-workers have devised reasonable if crude facsimiles of the three cellular non-negotiables, and they’ve managed to merge two of them together in any given experiment — and in one case even all three of them. The goal of contriving a self-replicating and autonomously metabolizing protocell, however, continues to elude them. “We have the instruments,” he said, “but it doesn’t sound like an orchestra yet.”"

From the Science Section of the NYT.

Are Physicists the Inspiration for Artificial Life?

Today in the science section of the NYT you can read:

"The harmless nucleic interjections include encrypted versions of the researchers’ names and three apt if self-conscious quotations: “See things not as they are, but as they might be,” from a biography of the physicist Robert Oppenheimer; “What I cannot build, I cannot understand,” by Richard Feynman; and “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, and to recreate life out of life,” by James Joyce, which, when taken together with the fact that the physicist Murray Gell-Mann named the fundamental particles of the atomic nucleus “quarks” after a line in Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake,” suggests that scientists are at least as fond of the nougaty Irish novelist as is the average English major."

Oppenheimer, Feynman, Gell-Mann: Here in Memory and Respect, Artificial Life is Coming.

I would've put some lines from Erwin Schrodinger's "What is Life?"

Reading Papers

Besides the obvious grammar errors, I am finding out that the students copy each other. I explicitely asked them to write their own papers, nevertheless I am finding out repetitions from one paper to the next. Maybe since the classes were for all the students, one can imagine that they just repeat what they heard. Nevertheless there was an emphasis on finding out more information, and writing it in their own words.

The need to work in groups should be recognized, but I believe students should be encouraged to be original. Originality though, comes after one knows the work of other creators. I just have to find out a happy medium to grade them.

Teacher Satisfaction

"Principalmente el objetivo de la materia es leer  y escribir mucho, como la había comentado al principio. A mi en lo particular me parece muy bien que el maestro Cantoral nos impulsó a utilizar este lenguaje de programación por el bien de nosotros. Porque más adelante vamos a necesitar de este lenguaje de programación para entregar buenos trabajos con presentación diferente a como lo hemos hecho.

Quiero aprovechar para  darle gracias al Maestro Cantoral por impartir este curso.

Tambien darle gracias a mis padres por darme esa oportunidad de estar en la institución en donde me encuentro ahora.

Gracias padres por darme esa oportunidad, yo les prometo echarle muchas ganas por aprender más. "

Taken from Edith's final paper.

Translation:

The main objective of the class is to read and write a lot, as I wrote in the beginning of this book. I think it is very good that our teacher, Mr. Cantoral invited us to use this program language [;\LaTeX;] , for our own good. Because in the future we will need this programming language to publish in different formats.

I want to thank Mr. Cantoral for teaching this class.

I also want to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to be in the institution where I am now.

Thanks folks, for giving me this opportunity, I promise to work hard to learn more.

End of translation.

It feels well to be appreciated.

This Organism is Feeding on Itself

Prof. Michael Wesch has a program at Kansas State University. He has produced a set of videos that grabbed my attention. As always I found this Internet jewel through a young person. My dear student Edith Tomás Sánchez, you can read her blog in Spanish, here.

Recently I wrote on the effects, symbols are having on culture, now I see that we are looking at ourselves through the Internet, and we don't seem to get enough of it. I feel a new super organism  being born.

Given the enormity of problems we face, think Gulf of Mexico oil spill, this tool got here not too soon.

Thanks Edith.

Michael Wesch

Lucid Mind

Noam Chomsky is in DN! today. You can watch him here.

The Center cannot hold.

I am looking into the Chinese company Huawei. They took over from where Lucent left the communications business. Chomsky mentions that some expect China to take the role Europe and the US have now. He sees similarities in China and the US in their treatment of workers.

Here I write some ideas on the structure of society, and possible future scenarios. Like Chomsky I have been following world events since childhood, unlike Chomsky nobody knows my ideas.

My great grandfather told my grandmother, our lives end, but the world keeps going. After the USSR fell, the US gloated triumphantly, we won! What now, will China have the last laugh? Definitely if the US falls, the Earth will keep on spinning.

I was hired in 1998 to join Lucent, I started working on January 1999. By December 2001, I was out of there. Legacy telephony was the milk cow of the company, they didn't seem to be particularly concerned by the tsunami that hit the communications world in 1994, the Internet.

Now that some friends are working for Huawei, and listening to Chomsky I am very touched.

October 1, 1949: Mao Zedong asked the Chinese people to build a country based on Chinese traditions and modern science. First everybody was taken off dope; opium was destroying the country with the satisfaction of the English, which earlier fought the Opium War. Second everybody was taught how to read and write, even simplifying the script to achieve this goal. Finally we have harvest time. This is the only country I know, where one billion people of an age to read and write do so.

Will China take over? I say, yes it is possible; will the US let them? I say no, the US will fight. There are over thirty thousand American soldier fighting in Afghanistan, and I am sorry, I do not think they are fighting the Taliban. America is hitting his chest like the world Alpha Male.

I see two possible scenarios, continuation of business as usual, with a British American financial World structure, or a wholesale investment by China, Brazil, India, and Russia.

Which one will it be? If I knew I could profit.

The first one seems more likely, at least in the short run, in the long run, the rational scientific approach of the Chinese seems more realistic.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I've Been Trying to Write This

Since my mother died almost two months ago, I have something I want to write. I feel that this is a time to move on; one reason I came back to Mexico was to be with her. She had not been feeling that well, even if her stoicism prevented her to show more. Her life was going away. Now that she is dead, less strings keep me here.

The last time I saw her, we both knew that she might have cancer, but neither of us wanted to live with that weight if it was not confirmed by doctors. As it turned out, it was never really confirmed, the casue of death was cancer. Nevertheless I was not thinking that she had cancer, and was going to die. A few hours before she died, my brother told me that very likely she was not going to make it. I was not there with her when she died.

Going back to the last time I saw her, we looked at each other's eyes half knowing that that could be the last time we saw each other; it was.

That is not what I want to write though; it is the preamble.

I feel the presence of death more now. We were close, and she helped making me the way I am. I take risks, like she did.

She married a man that nobody knew in town, and went to live with him in a city where she hardly knew anybody.

She was courageous, and she made me like that.

Now I am planing to leave Mexico again. This time it seems harder. I have to take this part of my life in a new way, which I don't quite know how to do.

Miguel de Icaza

I have been following this Mexican creator of Gnumeric, the free SpreadSheet, in Twitter. Tonight all of a sudden he starts tweeting about the Gaza Blockade by Israel.

I guess I am not the only Mexican, that cares about math, and the world. Of course he is famous and I am not. Mexico has been attacked several times during the past two hundred years, so it comes naturally to us, to feel sympathy for invaded peoples. Judging by the US media, one gets the impression that nobody invades anybody anymore. Neverhteless since the end of WWII, diaspora Jews started to go back to the Middle East.

Palestinians feel invaded, and tonight a flotilla of friends of Gaza is being attacked by the Israeli state. As a formerly invaded Mexican, that looks to me as an injustice.

Maybe my readers know which country invaded Mexico last. I am not going to tell you, go to Wikipedia.

Logistic Map Potentials

Prof. Curtright has published a new physics paper with a connection to the logistic map, which has inspired so much work. 

After more than thirty years that this simple equation entered in physics, we do not seem to get enough!

[;x \rightarrow s x (1 - x);] 

We can read Curtright and Veitia's conclusion:

"V. CONCLUSION
 
The point of view supported in this paper is that the logistic map, and other discrete time-stepped dynamical models, may be regarded as continuously evolving Hamiltonian systems sampled at integer times. For this view to be valid, the continuous system must be allowed to undergo a series of switchbacks whereupon the potential affecting the dynamics changes when the evolving particle encounters a turning point. From a perspective of configuration space covering manifolds, in the case of simple one-dimensional motion, the particle moves from one sheet of a Riemann surface to another, to experience a different branch of the underlying analytic potential.
 
The methods of this paper may be used directly to determine such branches of the potential for the logistic map, for any value of s, as well as other one-dimensional maps. A more extensive study of other examples is underway [9]. While peculiar behavior is possible for exceptional maps (say, for special values‡ of s), so far as we are aware, any such behavior can always be analyzed using the potential framework presented here.
 
In total, for all parameter values governing a particular map, the collection of potential sequence families constitute what we may call a “potential fractal” with self-similarities qualitatively evident in the various graphs, as visible in the above. Perhaps such potential fractals have a significant role to play in continuum physics. Applications might involve any of the usual systems exhibiting chaotic behavior [7], including accelerator beams [10], or perhaps cosmological models [11]."

High School Graduation

My son finished high school with honors. His grades are not all As, but I know that he liked some of the work he did at school. Next Saturday I hope to be there with him, a new stage of his life starts.

I love life, some people go, new people come. We are a stream weaving beautiful rivulets in some ethereal substance.

My high school was in Mexico City, his is in Wheaton, but it is the same flow, exactly the same flow.

When I was his age I wondered why was I around; what is the purpose of life?

I did come up with several answers, one was to have him so he could graduate from high school: how lame; he may think. To me though, it made and does make a lot of sense.

Now I see that there is only one planet in the Solar System, where I, and he can be. From  over two hundred known star systems with planets, not a single one has intelligent life, as far as we know.

Given this planet, there is only a sliver of space, called the biosphere, where we can be. This huge Earth empty of life.

Finally inside the halls of Wheaton Warrenville South High School, very few instances of intelligent life, and my son is one. Isn't that amazing?

Congratulations Lev!

Mexican Politics

If a politician is accused of wrong doing: that must be true, right?

Not in Mexico, the mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was accused sometime ago of illegal land seizure for city works. Guess what? He became more popular, and it became clear that his political enemies were behind the accusations. Now a candidate from the same party, the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), running for the governor's office in Quintana Roo, where Cancún is located, is accused of illegal relations with drug dealers. Maybe he was doing so well in that election, that his political enemies decided this was a good time to make these accusations public.

All I can tell you is that in Mexico, things are not how they appear to be.

I guess Eliot Spitzer did have a good thing going on with those high paid whores in NY, somehow though; I believe somebody in Wall Street, didn't like him prodding into those "obscure" derivatives shananigans. Just saying.

Symbols and Culture

I went downtown Chilpancingo today. I see babies and little children looking around to symbols that did not exist several thousand years ago when the first humans strolled around these lands. They will think different when they grow up, than their ancestors did when they got here so many years ago. There is intention, only insofar as people built what they think they need. Nevertheless nobody was thinking in teaching something to these toddlers. The result is the same. These Mexicans will be different than those older Mexicans. Symbols and Culture.

The new symbols, once understood by the kids, become part of their culture.

What symbols am I talking about? McDonald's, Oxxo, Cybercafe, newspapers and magazines, handicrafts, three hundred year old church.

You can see some of that by one of my students here.

Symbols are culture, and produce new culture.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Huawei v. Alcatel-Lucent

This Chinese Co. already passed the company I used to work for. Friends of mine are joining a company Wikipedia describes as authoritarian.

Is that it? Under pressure should we become like an Army?

Just asking.

Mr. Obama: Solve the Unemployment Problem With BP Money, Please

This is a proposal. BP just failed its last attempt to plug the hole it opened at the bottom of the sea.

Obama has the authority to propose an Americans to Work Bill, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in the forties. To really clean the mess, I assume there will be a lot of busy work to do, unskilled workers may be able to do it. Whoever caused the problem, should solve it. BP has billions of dollars, and many Americans don't have any.

Simple proposal: BP just pay Americans to clean up.

In 1938 then Mexican President, General Lázaro Cárdenas told foreign companies, pay more to Mexican workers, the bosses said no; and Cárdenas told them to leave the country; that is how PEMEX, the Mexican Oil Company was created.

Big problems, need big solutions.

What is Google Up To?

I live in Ubuntu land right now. I am avoiding Microsoft products and OS. I see that Google is working overtime to please me, below you can see one test of Chrome v. FireFox, and one site with JavaScript Experiments.

I am pleased.

I believe Google is run by more apt and involved leadership at this time. It seems to me that we can forget about Bill Gates, and maybe soon, of Steve Jobs.

Welcome Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Chrome Experiments - Detail - Liquid Particles

Chrome v. FireFox

TEST                   COMPARISON            FROM                 TO             DETAILS

=============================================================================

** TOTAL **:           *8.53x as slow*   781.6ms +/- 3.3%   6667.0ms +/- 6.4%     significant

=============================================================================

  3d:                  *5.76x as slow*   125.8ms +/- 7.0%    725.0ms +/- 2.4%     significant
    cube:              *6.44x as slow*    40.8ms +/- 9.0%    262.6ms +/- 2.3%     significant
    morph:             *5.61x as slow*    43.8ms +/- 18.7%    245.6ms +/- 5.0%     significant
    raytrace:          *5.26x as slow*    41.2ms +/- 22.5%    216.8ms +/- 4.1%     significant

  access:              *11.2x as slow*    73.0ms +/- 8.3%    815.4ms +/- 3.7%     significant
    binary-trees:      *25.1x as slow*     4.0ms +/- 38.1%    100.4ms +/- 5.2%     significant
    fannkuch:          *12.1x as slow*    28.0ms +/- 8.3%    339.2ms +/- 4.7%     significant
    nbody:             *7.01x as slow*    34.0ms +/- 6.8%    238.2ms +/- 9.5%     significant
    nsieve:            *19.7x as slow*     7.0ms +/- 17.8%    137.6ms +/- 19.3%     significant

  bitops:              *8.33x as slow*    65.4ms +/- 11.0%    545.0ms +/- 3.8%     significant
    3bit-bits-in-byte: *27.6x as slow*     4.0ms +/- 38.1%    110.6ms +/- 9.0%     significant
    bits-in-byte:      *11.1x as slow*    13.6ms +/- 8.2%    150.6ms +/- 11.3%     significant
    bitwise-and:       *4.50x as slow*    25.0ms +/- 41.9%    112.4ms +/- 5.7%     significant
    nsieve-bits:       *7.52x as slow*    22.8ms +/- 14.6%    171.4ms +/- 5.7%     significant

  controlflow:         *16.9x as slow*     5.0ms +/- 30.5%     84.6ms +/- 5.0%     significant
    recursive:         *16.9x as slow*     5.0ms +/- 30.5%     84.6ms +/- 5.0%     significant

  crypto:              *7.85x as slow*    49.0ms +/- 5.1%    384.6ms +/- 2.7%     significant
    aes:               *5.88x as slow*    20.4ms +/- 5.5%    120.0ms +/- 4.1%     significant
    md5:               *8.81x as slow*    15.0ms +/- 15.5%    132.2ms +/- 4.5%     significant
    sha1:              *9.74x as slow*    13.6ms +/- 21.0%    132.4ms +/- 4.9%     significant

  date:                *5.42x as slow*   126.2ms +/- 6.7%    684.6ms +/- 1.0%     significant
    format-tofte:      *7.91x as slow*    48.8ms +/- 9.1%    385.8ms +/- 1.5%     significant
    format-xparb:      *3.86x as slow*    77.4ms +/- 8.6%    298.8ms +/- 1.3%     significant

  math:                *8.46x as slow*    91.0ms +/- 3.6%    770.2ms +/- 4.1%     significant
    cordic:            *12.5x as slow*    26.4ms +/- 7.1%    328.8ms +/- 5.2%     significant
    partial-sums:      *5.88x as slow*    49.2ms +/- 7.9%    289.2ms +/- 8.3%     significant
    spectral-norm:     *9.88x as slow*    15.4ms +/- 18.6%    152.2ms +/- 5.7%     significant

  regexp:              *19.1x as slow*    33.2ms +/- 16.8%    635.4ms +/- 6.7%     significant
    dna:               *19.1x as slow*    33.2ms +/- 16.8%    635.4ms +/- 6.7%     significant

  string:              *9.49x as slow*   213.0ms +/- 2.9%   2022.2ms +/- 19.3%     significant
    base64:            *8.65x as slow*    24.2ms +/- 23.7%    209.4ms +/- 11.1%     significant
    fasta:             *10.9x as slow*    31.6ms +/- 2.2%    343.8ms +/- 3.4%     significant
    tagcloud:          *6.23x as slow*    55.0ms +/- 7.8%    342.4ms +/- 7.9%     significant
    unpack-code:       *13.3x as slow*    66.2ms +/- 4.1%    882.0ms +/- 36.5%     significant
    validate-input:    *6.79x as slow*    36.0ms +/- 9.5%    244.6ms +/- 12.1%     significant
 
Chrome is Better for JavaScript. 

Reconquista?

Americans are afraid of this word.

I just posted a note (below) which could be considered incendiary, I explain here.

In Mexico we never lost sight of the millions of Real Americans that inhabit these lands. Somehow Anglo Saxons want to live under the illusion that the Indian Problem is solved.

I don't think so.

Usually reconquista brings memories of the Spanish English war. As a "witty" California Senator, Hayakawa, once said: We stole Panama Fair and Square. Past wars are past wars, right? Wrong.

There was never a declared war to the original American people, and therefore there is no statue of limitations. The sooner we Mexicans, and Americans recognize that the Indian population is not happy with us, the sooner we will be as powerful as we can be, one people, one land.

Recognize your Olmecs, Zapotecs, Aztecs, ..., brothers and sisters, and we will be better off. Wake up America!

Foes and Supporters of New Law Gather in Arizona - NYTimes.com

Foes and Supporters of New Law Gather in Arizona - NYTimes.com

Fun and Games. On this corner we have real Americans, on the other whoever came later (mainly Europeans). I go for the locals, they've been around these lands long enough. They know every canyon, creek, and cave.

Actually this game has been going on for four hundred years now.

Long Live Geronimo and his Mexican Friends. Time to move out Europeans, you never properly asked permission to move in here, you just sent your General Custer, and other killers. Get out of there Texas and Arizona Rangers. Maricopa Police Officer Arpaio, time to move out.

Special About Me

I did not write the program for the class I just taught: Idea Communication Skills. It is part of a general revision of the curriculum at my university. Nevertheless, I hope I had something special to offer.

I started this blog in 2006, then I was teaching high school in Illinois. My purpose is to invite young people to the world of science by showing the relevance to their lives. I am not satisfied. There are other blogs, like Bad Astronomy, and Cosmic Variance, just to mention two, that do a much better job at inviting young people to science. They are maintained by very able scientists.

Now I work at a university in the south of Mexico, this is a poor state and a poor country, my students do not have the opportunities that kids in Illinois have, but I am very proud of them. I feel that they trust me more than the kids in Illinois did. Maybe I have more influence in them.

Now all the students, the seventeen of them, have a blog, wrote a book, and made a powerpoint presentation.

I could inspire them because I knew how to keep a blog, and wrote on it. Sometimes it is enough to tell students that they can do something and then they go on do it.

I also inviterd them to join buzz.com; that didn't work so well. I guess I am not a good social network user, maybe because I am not very sociable.

Tools v. Talents

I am finishing a class for math majors on communication skills. Our main concern is communication of math ideas, but I decided to let the students express other concerns, I had students writing about the Army, Music, and some other subjects, mainly mathematics and its applications, though.

I can teach the use of tools, which is a more modest goal, I cannot teach them how to write; I can try, but given that this is not a college level writing program, like the one at the University of Iowa. I didn't even try. I invited them of course to read my posts. You can read them in Spanish at: "Habilidades para la Comunicación de las Ideas."


My goal was to make them write and read as much as they had time for these class credits. On the other hand, we spent class time going over lower level tool learning online. Everybody got a blog in blogspot.com, wrote a book with [;\LaTeX;] , and made a presentation, most of them in PowerPoint, but there were other presentation tools used also.

I prefer to teach tool use, than develop talents. I feel the most modest goal is easier to fulfill, and I hope that the ones with talent; take off and become good communicators of mathematical ideas.

Now I have to grade their papers, the deadline was last Thursday night.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Relevant Science Hope

Reading Olivia Judson piece in the NYT gives me some hope to counteract the note below. Maybe with some Autopoietic ideas à la Varela, we can crack these Artificial Life problems.

On the other hand, this whole thing reminds me of the Babel story in the Bible. Man's hubris led him to get tangled up in DNA language. The issue is not: by trying to build a tower, so tall, that we can go to heaven, we were cursed with different languages; unable to talk to each other . Now the metaphor is: by trying to play God and starting Intelligent Design, we ended up building all kinds of life forms, that put us out of commission. A Brave New World!

Fear of the unknown is only natural.

But you know what?: here we go, whether we like it or not. This is like a black hole sucking us in, we already passed the Event Horizon. Enjoy the ride!

Cohen, Collins and Herbert

After reading these three favourites of mine in the NYT today, I was left speechless; maybe I should write, wordless.

Maybe it is the times, and not the Times.

What is going on?

Raping in the name of God the Merciful? Viral political campaigns that are very close to politically pornographic? Finally that great African-American journalist tells it how it is to President Obama.

I find this Saturday Opinion page close to apocalyptic.

We have to find a way out. The boat is sinking. Maybe a better metaphor is Earth is evicting us for bad, really bad stewardship.

Think of some angry kids chanting in  Lady Gaga's Bad Romance fashion: This is a bad, bad tenant.

Pito Pérez, Luis Cariño, and I

Today it rained not cats, and dogs, but plastic bottles, and soccer balls. It was quite a sight to watch the Huacapa river nearby my place, surging up, with smelly garbage.

The dark colors of the waters reminded me of a conversation I had a year ago with Luis Cariño in Huitzuco, my mother's town. He told me that cheap greasy oil, was getting into water streams all over the place. He lives a hermitain life in the mountains of Huitzuco, near "La Tequisca", he gave up on all this nonsense. You can see him singing "El corrido de Huitzuco", here.

There is another Mexican character, this one fictional: Pito Pérez.

Both characters could say whatever they please because they weren't in anybody's payroll. I am on somebody's payroll, but they don't monitor my writing, and definitely I am not sending cheap oil in the Huacapa river, because I do not own an auto shop.

This is a mess!

I See Science Growing in Mexico

A moment ago I went out to have a snack. There was a party on campus, which didn't surprise me since I went to school at the Party Campus of the UC system, in Santa Barbara, and the Party Town of Isla Vista. What was new is that this is not California, this is Guerrero, Mexico, the land my mother grew up in.

A person whose face I barely recognized asked me to have a fruit drink, please. I accepted, and while the students were dancing on campus, unlike UCSB, in my time, this person had had alcohol. He reminded me that I taught a class he took in a town several hundred miles away, Puebla. Then I remember, yes it was "Mathematics for the Biological Sciences," I was introduced to the new head of the Chemistry and Biology Department. The students were having a great time dancing in synchrony, like three hundred of them. There was joy.

The school had a painful political fight, they lost the Rector's office post, but they won the Department post. The students were happy to have won, and my friends also, thus the alcohol. Nobody else was drunk as far as I could tell.

I guess this is the way it happens, humanity coming forward, against all odds; and then having an exhausting celebration.

Nice.

Now it is raining, after a long waiting period, thsi rain was supposed to be here around May 15. Now it is getting cooler.

Newscaster Dead!

"Television reporter Anibal Archila was killed by a shower of burning rocks when he got too close to the volcano, about 15 miles south of Guatemala City, said David de Leon, a spokesman for the national disaster committee. The last images of Mr Archila broadcast by Channel 7 television show him standing in front of a lava river and burning trees, talking about the intense heat."

Taken from The Press Association.


Powers of Nature, somehow this makes me aware of how little we are compared to the Earth we are guests in. I hope this will not become common.

What Will Happen with the .DOC and .DOCX Extensions Online?

I am reading a document originally written in MS Office software. Fortunately now I can read it in the .PDF format. I did read this document in the .DOC format, and since I didn't have the newest MS version of their software, I was forced to look for so called "translators." I have a feeling that the sites I visited were not the best, because later my MS installation started to act strangely, I guess malware, or real viruses were in my computer, even though I was protected by some anti-virus software. It didn't help that my university here in one of the poorest states, of one of the poorest countries in the World, didn't provide me with a "legal" pristine copy of the company in Redmond, WA.

Whoever put this document online, fortunately, chose to put it in the format of the Adobe Corporation.

My gut feeling is that with the onslaught on the part of Google, MicrosSoft will have to shape up, or ship out.

To me this sounds a bit like the illegal PEOPLE argument going on in Arizona. What is the big deal, may say a WASP in that state, just go get your visa, and don't bug me.

Yes I should not have used "illegal" copies of MicroSoft software. You know how I feel? Viva Linux!, and all the gifts that humanitarian computer scientists like Donald Knuth have given us. Long Live [;\LaTeX;].

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Can Obama Do?

Carville tells the president to get tough on BP. He declared today that he made a mistake.

Can he fix this mess?

I don't know.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trust the Worker

AP publishes today the result of an investigation into the BP catastrophe. I trust workers over management, if they say the sky is blue, that is more likely a true statement than if the BP official claims that the worker did it.

The BP man has better lawyers, and knows he can lie. Unions long ago lost their clout.

I go for the worker's version.

AP writes:

"''It was only by the GRACE OF GOD that we didn't burn to death,'' LaCroix told investigators."

https

Google started in beta an SSL service, just type:

https://www.google.com

You need to type the www, otherwise you get the old Google site.

I get an eerie feeling when staring at the old Google look, but it is clear that something new is behind the page.


Safe searching!

You can read from Wikipedia.

Today I Lectured on Logistic Map

I was asked early this week to substitute for a colleague. The subject is visualization in Analysis. I taught the class some time ago in the same program, but I did not particularly emphasize the visual part of it. I am more algebra oriented, than geometry oriented. Nevertheless computers are an ideal translator for these two types of intelligence.

In one evening I got all the plots I needed from WolframAlpha, and wrote all the equations with [;\TeX;] the World. , I presented the issue of iterated equations, and put it in very simple terms.

The purpose of this note is to give a little description of my philosophy.

I believe that concrete operations help any student, not only children. In some sense when presented with a new subject, even though we may be fluent in the prerequisites requires a little getting used to.

I still remember what happened in 1973, when I landed in the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), I was already 23, but for the better part of one year, I talked like a moron. My ego got a beating. I've always prided myself for my speaking abilities, and that was the first time I spoke in English all the time.

Why shouldn't other people, feel awkward also when confronted with simple stuff in a new way?

I do believe that all of us while in the novice stage of ANY subject, somehow regress in our development. I even believe that the pain is so insufferable in some cases, that we just refuse to learn new things.

Anyways, today when I saw that my graduate students got stumped by high school algebra, without flinching an eye, I just went ahead with an explanations as simple as I could muster.

I want to believe that I succeeded, and that by doing so, I helped these young people to move ahead in their understanding of math.

I Like Chrome

Being naïve I thought that Chrome didn't allow me to use plug-ins. I was getting resigned to use FireFox, even though I prefer Chrome for several things. Obviously this is Google's year, and I see fast improvements. I am using Chrome 5.0.375.53 beta, and just installed TeX The World for Chromium - Version: 1.3.1. Great!

Blog in [;\LaTeX;]

$$\LaTeX$$ for Chrome

$$\LaTeX$$

Who is Hurting?

"Declines in key markets from their 52-week highs through Tuesday:
--- What market plunge? Chile, -3.6%; Colombia, -6.1%; Canada, -6.2%; Malaysia, -7.2%.
--- A “correction,” but barely:  Mexico, -10.3%; Germany, -10.4%; U.S. (Dow industrials), -10.4%; India, -10.8%; South Korea, -10.9%; Pakistan, -11.7%; U.S. (S&P 500), -11.8%.
--- Feeling real pain, but still not in a bear market: U.S. (Nasdaq), -12.6%; U.S. (Russell 2,000), -13.7%; Argentina, -14.6%; Australia, -14.7%; Britain, -15.2%; Taiwan, -15.2%; Japan (Nikkei), -16.6%; Saudi Arabia, -16.9%; Hong Kong, -17.3%; Brazil, -17.6%; France, -18.1%.
--- In the bear’s lair: Portugal, -21.7%; Russia, -21.8%; China (Shanghai), -24.4%; Italy, -24.7%; Spain, -26.3%; Greece, -46.8%.
-- Tom Petruno"

Good work Tom!

What if BP Fails?

Here in Mexico management of Petróleos Mexicanos - better known as PEMEX - claims that PEMEX doesn't have best practices. What kind of management will almost brag that they are no good?

Maybe a little context will help. The present government of Mexico is from a different  political party than the one that nationalized the oil industry in 1938. As far as I can see, they want to privatize PEMEX, and I guess the members of this party could buy PEMEX, and then it will have "best practices."

I do not know if you will be surprised to find out that I do not believe them. I support the other party.

Coming back to the question of this blog, are these the "best practices" we aspire to in Mexico? Just blow the damn thing and hope for the best; yahoo!

Chimes of Freedom: Bob Dylan

Don Blankenship Prosecuted?

Blankenship denies that humans (that means himself) are guilty for Climate Change. Today at Democracy Now! I heard that he could be criminally prosecuted for the death of miners. He is responsible for the safety of the mine where those men died.

Accidents do not just happen. Real people are responsible; sometimes.

Complacency Collusion Neglect

Prof. Zygmunt Plater today in Democracy Now!, stated that the Valdez's Catastrophe, many years ago was not caused by a drunk tanker pilot only. It was deeper, but collectively we decided to forget about it. Now it is back with the BP accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

We can forget about this again, and say like some people: accidents happen.

I am afraid, this time there is no wiggle room.

Top Kill

I do not see situations like this often. Today at 1 PM, BP tried this definite solution to their month old problem. The NYT reports that in a few hours we'll know if the solution worked. Wow!

I consider this as a signal that we are running out of time. No more wiggle room.

Real actions, and real consequences: We are at the crossroads.

Pancho Villa

As far as I know this man is the only one to invade the continental US. When the powerful Army of this country followed him inside Mexico, they couldn't find him. Nowadays we have a repeat of this situation, Obama sent 1,200 National Guardsmen to the Mexico US border.

Instead of Pancho Villa, now the name is Chapo Guzmán. I predict a similar outcome as a hundred years ago. I recently read that this man, which by the way is in the Forbe's list of richest men on Earth, owns land in Arizona. He controls billions of dollars, I do not know if readers have a sense of what billions of dollars mean.

Anyway, here we go again. I've seen this movie, I only see more animosity between our countries. We have to work for bridges, not for walls.

Mr. Obama, turn down that wall!

Black Holes in Galaxies Computer Simulation

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Paulete Gebara's Death Accidental: Says State of Mexico Attorney General

The State of Mexico Attorney General resigns amid an outcry for decision over Paulette's death. He announced that nobody is guilty for her death.

The case received inordinate attention in Mexico, and even a Presidential candidate got involved, the State of Mexico's Governor - Mexico is a big state inside the Mexican Republic - the governor's poll numbers went down, so the Attorney General had to go.

You can read here.

Earthquake Today in Mexico

From WolframAlpha you can get:

American Troops to the US Mexico Border

Calderón has sent Mexican troops to the border. I wonder if Obama's move will fare better.

Read in the NYT.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hearts and Minds on Climate Change

Thew NYT reports a trend towards disbelief among European citizens to the judgment of their own scientists.

Maybe strong economic forces are behind this anti scientific campaign: BP is European, isn't it?

Problem is: physics, chemistry, and biological laws still apply.

Read between the lines, why will somebody deny the mess we are in?

Scientists do not make a lot of money by saying that we are in trouble. James Lovelock is very old, he doesn't make money out of scaring people.

Waves here in Acapulco are anomalously big,

Look around.

Maize Origin

Nine thousand years ago here in the Balsas River basin, in Xihuatoxtla, maize (corn) was domesticated. You can read Sean B Carroll in the NYT today.

I am not happy to report that the descendants of those benefactors of humanity live in very precarious conditions nowadays.

Shame on us!

You can read from Prof. Carroll's NYT article:

"The most impressive aspect of the maize story is what it tells us about the capabilities of agriculturalists 9,000 years ago. These people were living in small groups and shifting their settlements seasonally. Yet they were able to transform a grass with many inconvenient, unwanted features into a high-yielding, easily harvested food crop. The domestication process must have occurred in many stages over a considerable length of time as many different, independent characteristics of the plant were modified.

The most crucial step was freeing the teosinte kernels from their stony cases. Another step was developing plants where the kernels remained intact on the cobs, unlike the teosinte ears, which shatter into individual kernels. Early cultivators had to notice among their stands of plants variants in which the nutritious kernels were at least partially exposed, or whose ears held together better, or that had more rows of kernels, and they had to selectively breed them. It is estimated that the initial domestication process that produced the basic maize form required at least several hundred to perhaps a few thousand years.

Every August, I thank these pioneer geneticists for their skill and patience."

I recently went to Oxtotitlán where the paintings in the first link above are located; all I can write now is that place is out of this world. Far surpassing any imagery you migh have had watching the whole TV series, LOST.

We seem to be lost on our own Earth, that is to our peril. Somehow I feel that if we do not talk to the Native Americans, our days on this Earth are counted.

End of LOST

From the NYT:

"“This is the place that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people.”"

That is what I wrote in a past note. Of course I made a mistake, I said EVERYBODY ever to have been in the island returned to live there everafter. It was only a chosen few that had the privilege.

BP v. US

Reading in the NYT, I feel uneasy. Are Ken Salazar, and Dick Durbin qualified to interfere with BP staff?

I hope Obama knows what he is doing; somehow though I feel the role of the Government should be on a higher level, than day to day management of the catastrophe; unless the Government calls for a State of Emergency.

Maybe that declaration is coming, I hope not.

From the NYT:

"While the Corexit products, made by Nalco of Naperville, Ill., are the time-tested old faithfuls of oil spill treatment, developed in the 1980s and 1990s, critics say that less toxic and more effective products are now available."

Naperville is close to my heart.

Cybernetics and Life

Norbert Wiener started a fundamental shift in the way science looks at nature. Nevertheless the theory of cybernetics, understandably, had a stronger impact on engineering. Since last week we entered a new age in the way Science is conducted in the world. The separation between the man made and the natural, became blurred, if not completely obliterated. Artificial life has come to stay  in the business section of the media, whose owners  have bankrolled the efforts of Craig Venter.

From my corner of the woods, I want to tell this story.

I was fortunate to work for Bell Labs, at their Naperville campus in Indian Hill. Now I own one of the extant copies of Francisco J. Varela: "Principles of Biological Autonomy," and I can report that it was taken from the library at Indian Hill, seven times, starting in 1987, and ending in 1996. The book was bought by Bell Labs in 1981, two years after it was published by Elsevier North Holland Inc..

Also I can report that in an internal publication it was printed that Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, were almost alone in a skunkworks kind of operation keeping the flame of Unix alive, when the company had all but given up on the effort. When I found out, I couldn't believe it. The operating system that made the Internet possible almost died, and only the determination of its creators kept the project going.

That is the Real World. You cannot judge on the importance of some work by society's support to the visionaries' dreams.

I feel in my gut, that Francisco J. Varela is going to follow, as I already wrote in this blog, the same fate as that other great Chilean man, Roberto Bolaño. Two Latinamericans that couldn't stand CIA supported fascism in Chile. At least Varela found some safe haven in the US and Europe, otherwise he might have languished in some dungeon in Chile.

Concluding; a new form of Cybernetics is necessary, one that considers autonomous systems. Life forms cannot be controlled like robots. I can understand why the military, and  the industry that goes with it, have not supported "The Principles of Biological Autonomy," but ironically, a Vietnam veteran, Craig Venter, opened the doors for this more advanced science. The Science of Life, as opposed  to what has become, the science of death.

Justice

Recently I wrote here that nobody rebels unless they have to fight for the last piece of meat in an island. As I am known to do, that was an exageration, we do have courts of law to fight for grievances against us. Right now I am watchig today's Democracy Now!; some Chicago victims of torture in the corrupt system directed by Mayor Daley are having their day under the sun.

There is justice, the issue is that politicians feel they can get away with things when they are immune. Immunity breads corruption. Right now a politician running for office in the city of Puebla, where I worked for several years, is being attacked by people I know. These acquaintances did not have power when I was there, but now they do. They have embarrased this rascal. He was trying to play in the Casino, called the US stock market when the going was good. Now that the whole pyramid scheme collapsed, many municipalities were caught with their pants down, as they say.

A little justice is not bad.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Newton's Equation

[;\vec{F} = m \vec{a};]

TeX the World

[; \LaTeX ;]

Revolts

Yesterday, today and tomorrow; a group of Mexicans is going all around the country asking people if they are satisfied with the government. I'm sure some are taking the time to answer, but many of us just kept doing what we do on weekends; goofing off.

When is it possible for people to rise up and change an insufferable situation?

All we can come up with is, lame responses like Tea Party rallies, or equivalent ones in the left.

I guess we are going to get at each other's throats when we fight for the last piece of meat in an isolated island, like tonight in the last episode of LOST.

Hey, that's another ending. Everybody dead and alive comes back for some kind of high school reunion, and have an extreme case of Survivor. Maybe CBS will oppose this ending. At least I'm trying to guess what is going to happen tonight.

Whoever thought about this referendum at a LOST finale night, deserves to be totally ignored.

If Oil is Getting Harder to Get, Why its Price is Constant?

In my naiveté two years ago I came back to Mexico to make a good living and keep my kids at school in the US. Of course mine is only one case, I'm sure that there are smarter Mexicans and foreigners that came to Mexico the same time I did, and are doing better than before they came.

In any case, my question has to do with the Real World. If the main Mexican oil well, Cantarell, already peaked, why is Mexico still selling its oil around seventy dollars a barrel?

My answer: The World is not driven by scarcity only. In this particular case I do not know why they are not selling this endangered resource at least at one hundred dollars a barrel. My guess is that somebody in the Mexican Government, or Pemex, the Mexican oil industry, which is the same thing; must be getting a big pay off. This way, the rest of us do not get more money.

Oh, well.

Oil well?

UC needs Help

Eduardo-

I'm writing to share UC news on several fronts — and to ask for your help.

First, the state budget debate in Sacramento is now beginning in earnest. Last Friday, the governor issued a “May Revise” that is very favorable for the University — restoring $305 million in previous cuts to the UC budget, providing $51 million to support access for 5,100 students, and offering funding for critical capital facilities construction. It also fully funds the Cal Grant program. But the budget proposal also contains serious cuts in other areas of state spending, and the Legislature is going to face some extremely difficult choices this summer as a result.

The budget for UC in the May Revise and the funding of Cal Grants are both critical to the University and its students. The funding level proposed by the governor is needed to maintain student access and course availability, protect financial aid, cover inflationary cost increases, and reduce our need to resort to even more program cuts and employee layoffs in 2010-11.

Please take action today by writing your representatives in the Legislature and urging them to support the governor's budget for higher education -- click here.

Even if the governor's May Revise for UC is adopted, UC still faces a sizeable gap between its needs and its resources. So, second, this week I am calling on our top staff to embark on a new and expanded phase of efficiencies at the University, building on the remarkable progress already being made across the system.

As I've said since the beginning of the state fiscal crisis, we at UC need to do our part to find solutions. Already our efficiency efforts are achieving nearly $250 million in cost savings across a variety of fund sources, allowing us to improve service in some areas, redirect dollars from administrative costs to our academic and research missions, and help fill the budget gap that remains even if the governor's May Revise is adopted by the Legislature.

We're now going to push these efficiency efforts into new areas (see box). This won't solve our state budget problem -- but it will help preserve UC's quality in a period of severe fiscal stress. You'll be hearing more details about these efforts in the coming months.

Finally, we are releasing this week our second annual report giving the public a window into the performance of the UC system. The UC Annual Accountability Report pulls together, in one place on the web, data showing how well we're doing in areas such as affordability, student success, research innovation, and diversity, among many others. It's a critical part of the transparency we owe the people of California as their public research university.

As the state budget debate heats up this summer, I hope you'll stay engaged and express your support for public higher education to the decision makers in Sacramento. California and the world are going to experience an epoch of major transformation in the coming decades, and I truly believe that the University of California represents the state's best shot at coming through those decades as a dynamic, innovative, and competitive society. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Yudof signature
Mark G. Yudof
President
University of California

Java Installation in Ubuntu 9.04

I asked a friend how to do this, here is his answer.

Okay, easy since that is what I am running. I installed java this way:

http://www.ubuntugeek.com/how-to-install-java-runtime-environment-jre-in-ubuntu-904-jaunty.html

This is all I did to be able to run Java. If you are trying to write your own applets then you need a development platform such as eclipse. In that case you can try:

http://burakdd.wordpress.com/2009/07/28/installing-eclipse-ubuntu-9-04/

To actually do applets, look at a tutorial such as:

http://www.muq.org/~cynbe/java/classes/applets.html

By Cris Fugate

Martin Gardner and the American Soul

This great American from the Midwest died yesterday. Oklahoma brings images to my mind of good English, Scottish, and Irish stock. L. Frank Baum, Warren Buffet, and   the American Soul.

I read the entry on Gardner yesterday in Wikipedia, the guy never got a Ph.D., but inspired many to get one, just like the Wizard of Oz, inspired Dorothy, and friends, to be all they could be, even if the powers that be, never gave them that recognition. America is a self-made country, autopoietic I will call it, using the precise term of Maturana and Varela, in a very loose sense.

Somebody dear to my heart, has been trying to understand this America, which periodically goes through awakenings.  The sixties, I am told, was one of those peak times, when Americans asked themselves collectively, what is it that they are. It seems to me that the populist movement going on now, which first put a black man as a President, and then inspired the Pauls to run for office, signals another one of those crucial moments of the American saga.

 Here in Mexico, there is also soul searching of our own kind. The tension here is between the Real Americans, that got here thirteen thousand years ago, and the newcomers, like myself, with only five hundred years residency.

Both our countries though, can become a powerful unit, never seen before on the face of the Earth. That is the theme of another note, however.

The City upon a Hill, is been observed by the whole world. Let us not disappoint humanity, something new is been born here, and as Bob Dylan, the American Prophet says: "That he not busy being born is busy dying"


Keep on trucking America!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Democratic Senators Immigration Reform Proposal

NACo’s comprehensive immigration reform resolution calls for legislation that:
  • provides for uniform enforcement of all existing laws
  • secures the nation’s borders
  • includes a national strategy for coordination among federal, state, local and tribal authorities
  • establishes a sensible and orderly guest worker program for legal immigrants
  • imposes no unfunded mandates on state and local governments
  • includes no mandates on counties to enforce immigration laws, and
  • provides a sustainable funding stream to counties for immigrant health care funded by fees levied on legalized immigrants.
     
    You can get the document here.

Martin Gardner 1914-2010

He died today, an important popularizer of mathematics. Read the page about him in Wikipedia.

Oracle and SUN

I have been avoiding comments on the Oracle purchase of SUN. It is close to my heart. At Lucent we had SUN workstations, they were nice. To think that a software company bought them, aches me. Before hardware companies were the bones of the industry, the software was either free, or maintained with a yearly contract, with regular builds during the year.

Somehow the idea that Larry Ellison , knows anything about building computers jars me the wrong way.

I am installing Java products in my PC with Ubuntu, and then I had to face this important industry change.

I am skeptical about the success of this fianancial transaction, but then again nobody asked me. Ellison reminds me too much of those kids in Wall Street, that almost broke the boat, he looks kind of greedy. Again nobody asked me my opinion.

I am hoping for the best. I just want to run simple Java applets, I guess I am OK.

No Spare Tire

Today Tom Friedman writes:

"So leadership today is all about taking innovative actions that generate new capabilities and resources — and being smart and disciplined about every dime we spend and invest."

We seem to be going through one of those bottlenecks humanity has found itself in, once in a while.

We need all we got to get out of this one.

Who Are They Kidding?

I walk in and out of campus late at night. By now even the dogs know me. I was wondering how is it possible that the Arizona immigration officers do not know who is a "pollero" and who is not. Pollero, literally means chicken handler, and the chickens would be the hapless Mexicans that need to cross the border without a visa. Nobody will give them the time of day in the American Embassy, let alone a visa. All they have is their strong arms, "brazos", so they used to be called "braceros."

That law in Arizona, SB 1070 is a sham. Everybody involved knows it. They just want to test the Obama administration, to see how much profit the rich people of Arizona can get away with. Illegal means cheap, mind you.

Walking through the streets of Chilpancingo here in Guerrero, once in a while I see these pretty "señoritas" driving Mercedes Benz cars. I wonder who bought those cars, just saying.

Autopoiesis in arXiv

Searching the arXiv repository of mathematical and scientific papers, for the word autopoiesis, I only found three articles, two in physics, and one in computer science. When I explicitly requested the word to be in the title, I only got one in computer science. I have a pet peeve with computer scientists. I taught them at Puebla, Mexico, have them as colleagues here in Chilpancingo, also in Mexico and worked with them at Lucent in Naperville, Illinois. They are ignorant of physics. This word was introduced in General System Theory by Humberto Maturana and Francisco J. Varela to study biological autonomy.

I guess the job demands, force them to concentrate, that is annoying, but also is an opportunity for scientific progress, if we manage to collaborate.

I'm sure mathematicians, and computer scientists, can say the same about physicists. We do not know mathematics, nor computer science. Nevertheless being the ones that usually get the grants, physicists can act bossy.

Here I go.

Biology had a tremendous triumph this week which is almost finished. Craig Venter's company achieved a history changing success. I am not very impressed with entrepreneurs in general, but my hat is down for Mr. Venter. I am at awe.

I believe that the late biologist, Francisco J. Varela, was ahead of his time, and that now with this important scientific achievement by Venter, more and more people are going to find out about him. I would've preferred though, that just like in the case of his countryman, Roberto Bolaño; recognition were given to them when they were still alive. Oh, well.

  Biologist can complain about all of us: physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists. I can claim some indulgence though; because in spite of the fact that my son was lucky enough in high school to get the Physics First curriculum, that Prof. Leon Lederman has been advocating in the Chicago area; I asked him, and he, grudgingly obeyed, to take Biology.

He did not like it either, when I asked him to take a programming class, which he ended up acing.

He wants to be an Artist. I guess he is going to be one of the better educated artists of the US.

I do not mean to say that Venter used Varela's ideas, only that they can be used to guide the artificial life work.

In conclusion, with the first example of a working bacterium with a brand new Venter Inc. inside CPU; I salute the great humanist Francisco J. Varela.

George Spencer-Brown

He was a student of Bertrand Russell, and invented the "calculus of indications," where use is made of the symbol:

This symbol indicates a boundary, the basic element by which we separate an object within an "observer community."

You can read about Spencer-Brown, in Wikipedia.

Autonomy

"Mr. Obama all but declared victory in Iraq, crediting the military but not Mr. Bush, who sent more troops in 2007. “A lesser Army might have seen its spirit broken,” Mr. Obama said. “But the American military is more resilient than that. Our troops adapted, they persisted, they partnered with coalition and Iraqi counterparts, and through their competence and creativity and courage, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer.”"

In the same article we can read:

"And he defended efforts to revise counterterrorism policies that have generated sharp criticism that he is weakening America’s defenses. “We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them,” he said. “We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart.”"

From the NYT.

I think this is an important change of US foreign policy. Bush's idea of preemptive war is as wrong as his Haliburton company's idea of best practices in the Gulf of Mexico.

People make mistakes; even more so, hardheaded men of action, like Mr. Bush and Haliburton's main man Dick Cheney.


Obama is better.

Autonomy of the US and Afghanistan is crucial. The only way to deal with a sovereign country like Afghanistan, is respecting the country. Of course it works both ways, Afghanistan cannot serve as a base to send another set of "God Warriors" , expecting some war booty in heaven in the form of a number of virgins. Mutual respect among autonomous countries. Secure borders, ways to keep the country going, and the production of more children for the future.

Modern technologies give both sides the illusion that now they can destroy the other. That idea is wrong. Autonomous countries can only cooperate, not destroy the other.

Youth Movement

Lady Gaga's song (below) has been used for political action by this generation of young people in the West. The question for this note is how is the youth movement doing in 2010?

When I was in college, 1967 to 1971; we had two important national student movements in Mexico: One ended on October 2, 1968, the other on June 10, 1971. From that perspective I comment on the current, student, and more broadly youth movement now.

Today is student day here in Guerrero. At least since 1950 there has been a dance from 10 o'clock at night to around 4 in the morning. This time our school did not organize one, I guess because there are political, and academic activities in the University, where students participate, like end of year student presentations.

The seniors did organize a celebration for teachers a week ago. They presented shows, and fed us. Expressing their thanks for our efforts to help them learn mathematics, and whatever else that goes with it. They come here expecting guidance, in more ways than academic.

In 1968, most of our teachers failed us. Police entered some school campuses and beat teachers and students, and only a few teachers joined the protests. At some point even the President's authority in the country was questioned. The particular events that started the movement, in hindsight, do not seem that important. What I believe the whole movement represents, is the state of national rejection to the political authority in Mexico after the Revolution of 1910.

In my personal experience that year of 1968, when I was 18, was a life changing experience. I decided to dedicate my life to the pursuit of knowledge, and away from practical applications of science; eventually I decided to become a Scientist.

Our movement was influenced by other student movements going on in France, Czechoslovakia, and the US. We were not copying, we had our own dynamics, and it seems that those dynamics in other countries were similar. Few of us spoke French, Czech, or English, but nevertheless the Mexican media fed us news from those far away places. Maybe something in the air, all through the western world. After all, since WWII, many experiences got tied up in one way or another. For instance, my father went to work to the US, because American men of his generation were sent to fight to Europe and Asia.

Coming to today. If you follow this blog at all, you might have noticed my partiality to the brave fight by my own children. I mean the illegal Mexican kids that now are in the custody of the authorities ready to be deported. This week in Democaracy Now! you can see one young man from Iran, and two Mexican young women. They are leaders of this movement, and were arrested in the office of that poser, John McCain. In Mexico we say: "más pronto cae un hablador que un cojo," sooner does a person with a lose mouth falls than a person with one leg. John McCain: you are a liar!

McCain led me to believe that he was going to help the DREAM act, and those kids also thought so. Now they are waiting to be deported. Shame on you!

I hope Americans come to their senses and resolve this issue fairly.

I don't have illusions though, I am 60 now, and I know that some prejudices never die. All I can tell to those Americans that want to send back to their countries millions of "other" people, is that very likely some of them are going to be taken care of, in nursing homes, and hospitals, by these very children they want to throw out now.

What I do believe in, is in political organization, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr., showed us the way. I see some courageous political leaders like Bill Richardson, Luis Gutierrez, Antonio Villaraigosa, and others. I hope they don't turn out like John McCain. Principles, politicians need principles.

Hope dies last (la esperanza es lo último que muere), I'm still waiting for McCain to start acting like a man, and confront the extreme right in his party. Mr. McCain, that road leads to fascism.

To conclude, the youth and student movement of today is a cosmopolitan movement, they are building the future society, one in which your place of birth is as irrelevant as the color of your skin, or your religious beliefs. I can't wait the coming of the age of Aquarium.

Let us all love each other, Jesus Christ said this two thousand years ago, it is time we listen to him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lady Gaga Bad Romance

Alex Lora

This man is going through a tragedy. His daughter killed a man, apparently driving under the influence of alcohol.

He is a great folk singer in Mexico. You can read about him here.

Silvio Rodríguez

Idealism and Reality

I was checking my blog for broken links. I found out that the OWNERS of Dylan's song about the killing of Medgar Evers, have chosen to take it out. Oh well. Below you have Mr. Tambourine Man.

I'll check for the time The Man, comes and takes it away. I was criticizing the poor Russian professor that had to change his Marxist's ideas for a salary calculating for capitalists, the best way to exploit workers.

I guess sixties idealists went the same way, btw Bobby was never deceitful, he refused to be typecasted as a topical singer.

Pete Seeger couldn't get his Cuban friend, Silvio Rodríguez, visit and sing for him, last year. Now Mr. Rodríguez got a visa! Another plus for Mr. Obama in my book.

Dylan: Mr. Tambourine Man

LOST Ending

Hey, guys I'll spoil it for all of you.

This is how it is going to end.

Everybody stays in the Island, which is a much better place than anywhere these poor souls have ever been.

I made a little story for my kids when they were younger: "The Enchanted Forest." Nobody could figure out why those that ventured in never came out of there; when finally the person telling the story had the courage to go in there, he finds out, that everybody was having such a great time, that nobody wanted to go out.

Remember, you read it here first.

Activity Theory

I am here working along, and I hear my next door neighbor; a math professor with some training in Cuba. I used to be a bit of a Marxist earlier in life. I heard the term that is my title for this note. I go to Wikipedia and find out that a current practitioner is G.Z Bedny, I search for some of his work, and I find an article, "A Heart Rate ..." This is a pdf article in: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND ERGONOMICS 2001, VOL. 7, NO. 2, 121–133

This is a proposal to measure heart rate of workers to make a cost/benefit analysis for installing air conditioners.

Now I ask myself, what do ergonomic ideas devised to get the most juice from human beings have to do with math education?

I guess I am being very harsh here. But deep down I feel that every scientific field should devote more time for Relevant Science.

Maybe my colleague's methods work, I really don't know. I'm just in a weird mood. I guess is better than the training of our Governor as an accountant in a Mexican private university.

Oh, our Governor represents a leftist Mexican party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). I do not feel a member, of any political movement, or for that matter, any Academy of like minded scholars.


I should try to be more understanding. Prof. Bedny very likely was not making that much money under the Soviet system to satisfy his needs. What was he supposed to do, to convince American intellectuals that the only true Theory of Reality is Marxism? Maybe he tried, but he ended up at Newark, of all places, calculating the savings of installing air conditioners for American workers or not.

Workers of the World Unite!

Oh, well.

Google vs. Apple

I like the underdog: Go Google!

You can read a note in:

Google is Leapfrogging Apple

You can read there:

"Well, now we know. With Android Froyo, apps are synced wirelessly between your desktop web browser and your phone, music is streamed from your home PC to your handset over 3G, and instructions—map directions, search terms, web pages and potential all kinds of other stuff—can be zapped to your handset from a desktop browser. Sync as Apple defines it suddenly looks tired and clumsy. The new sync is instant, it's less redundant, it makes sense. And the new sync belongs to Google."

It ends thus:

"Google, too, has a hunger for domination, but they've finally got vision of their own to accompany it: A vision of cellphones and desktops connected seamlessly—revolutionarily, magically—over the internet; a vision of media that streams when you need it, and disappears when you don't; a vision that sees TV as an extension of the internet, not simply a dumb screen.

Google's got a ton of work to do. Android is fragmented, and huge share of the handsets people own today will never take advantage of Froyo's new features. Any new TV product takes years to filter into the average living room. Media streaming is an inevitability, but the infrastructure isn't there to fully realize it, and what Google showed off today doesn't address everything. (The is no video component to their new Simplify Media-based music streaming software, for now.) But listening to Google's newly emboldened Vic Gundotra after a particularly uninspired series of Jobsnotes, peering into each company's future, I see Google stepping out ahead—and with one impressive lead."

Is There a Tea Party?

After Rand Paul opened his big mouth and got everybody on his case, makes me think that there is no Tea Party. What we see is a group of Americans feeling energized by people like Rand's father, Ron.

Fluff, and non-sense. These are not thinkers, they are good Trojan Horses for "smart" operators like those whose initials are here: B.M., F.F., and A.H.

Please Americans do not fall for these non-thinking demagogues. Read a little History and you will see where this leads.

From this Sunday column of Frank Rich:

"The Tea Party is a right-wing populist movement with a specific ideology. It resides in the aging white base of the Republican Party and wants to purge that party of leaders who veer from its dogma. But divisive as the Tea Party may be within the G.O.P., it’s hardly good news for President Obama and the Democrats either."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

God Bless America Viva México!

You can watch President Felipe Calderón addressing both chambers of Congress in C-Span.

Please American friends listen to him. Mexicans are not leaving North America, we have to come together and be the great continent we can be.

Many Americans already enjoy Mexico, and viceversa, let us keep working for making a half billion people strong area of this Earth.  There are not that many places on the surface of the Earth to live.

As friends let us build a Great North American region.

Artificial Life

You can read the press release by Craig Venter Institute on their recent achievement:

First Self-Replicating Synhthetic Bacterial Cell

Lizbeth Mateo

I salute you courageous girl.

You can see her at Democracy Now!

Are Americans blind?

This smart girl is an asset to the US. Forget your deep fears about the other, the alien. We are in this together.

Move On

I do not mean the Web site of progressive Americans. I mean that I have to move on. This is just a gut feeling. I hope that a clear path forward appears. I think I have to make it happen, I still do not know how.

What if US Pollutes Cuba?

BP should pay Cuba if just a cubic centimeter of oily goo gets to their beautiful beaches.

Simple Ideas on Money

I just read today's article by Paul Krugman in the NYT.

He is more worried the US is going the way of Japan, than  the way of Greece. A self sustaining economy needs money into the system, not savings produced by scared conservatives, and greedy bankers. Inflation robs money from banks it seems. Money out of banks can lead to prosperity for all; but bankers worry.

The way I understand Krugman's thinking is that thinking people are more willing to move money around. Non-thinking people prefer to move little, if at all.

Nobody knows the future, so there is no way for me to know which one will win; but my gut feeling tells me to move.

I should start moving myself. No matter how bleak things look in Mexico and the US.

Where Does Calcium Come From?

From Physorg.com today we can read:

"The researchers calculate that about half of the mass thrown out was calcium, which means that a couple of such supernova every 100 years would be enough to produce the high abundance of calcium observed in galaxies like our own Milky Way, and the calcium present in all life on Earth"

These are strange stars discovered by Filippenko's team at Berkeley.

To me the implication is that if these strange stars that steal a lot of helium from nearby stars, and then produce calcium, were not there; then we wouldn't be here.

Amazing.

From that note in physorg.com we can read also:

"The paper's authors note that, if these eight calcium-rich superonovae are the first examples of a common, new type of supernova, they could explain two puzzling observations: the abundance of calcium in galaxies and in life on Earth, and the concentration of positrons - the anti-matter counterpart of the electron - in the center of galaxies. The latter could be the result of the decay of radioactive titanium-44, produced abundantly in this type of supernova, to scandium-44 and a positron, prior to scandium's decay to calcium-44. The most popular explanation for this positron presence is the decay of putative dark matter at the core of galaxies.
"Dark matter may or may not exist," says Gal-Yam, "but these positrons are perhaps just as easily accounted for by the third type of ."
Filippenko and Li hope that KAIT and other robotic telescopes scanning distant galaxies every night in search of new supernovae will turn up more examples of calcium-rich or even stranger supernovae.
"The research field of supernovae is exploding right now, if you'll pardon the pun," joked Filippenko. "Many supernovae with peculiar new properties have been found, pointing to a greater richness in the physical mechanisms by which nature chooses to explode stars."
Provided by University of California - Berkeley (news : web)"

Army on Campus?

This morning listening to the University of Guerrero radio station, I was surprised to hear that last night around ten o'clock at night, Army personnel entered campus to deliver a document to the Rector.

I have difficulty in understanding this. The Rector's office is not on campus. There is another location for authorities.

When I left around midnight, I did see some people standing by. Since there are elections for department heads, I thought they were partisans for one or other candidate.

I am at campus right now, and nobody seems to be worried, not even aware of these news.

Also in the same radio station I heard that an important member of the drug cartels is in the hands of the Calderón government. Together with that information, an important member of the President's party has not been seen since last Saturday morning.

What a mysterious country. I'll report later when I know more.

In any case, I believe that everywhere in the world news are been made, but only once in a while they make it to the NYT, and then, they are news.

Today, May 21, I can confirm that an Army unit went to the Philosophy School. I rather they take classes there, instead of trying to intimidate intellectuals.

I want to add the following. The students that went to the radio, also mentioned some unknown professor, from Earth Sciences. I am near their building, I haven't seen anybody from that department that stays as late as I do. Maybe it was me they were referring to. Who knows?

From today's La Jornada Guerrero you can read:

"El director y un grupo de académicos de la Uafyl, vía Internet, enviaron también una postura consensuada: “lo inconcebible del pretexto para invadir el espacio universitario (particularmente el de la unidad académica de filosofía y letras) de elementos del Ejército, no puede hacernos pensar en la ignorancia o en lo ingenuo de la acción castrense, sino que nos lleva a creer que ha iniciado un proceso sistemático de violación a la autonomía universitaria que tanto las administraciones centrales de la UAG, como el propio Consejo Universitario no han sabido denunciar, detener y defender”.
Justino García Téllez, catedrático de la facultad, expuso que lo ocurrido es una situación sistemática y no descartó que también tenga alguna relación con el proceso electoral a directores y consejeros universitarios que se lleva a cabo en las unidades académicas."

The Director and some faculty members of the Philosophy Department, posted their shared position on the Internet:"the nonsensical pretext to invade the university campus (particularly the department of philosophy and Spanish) of the Army personnel, cannot make us think that their action was based on ignorance or naiveté, rather it leads us to think that the Army has started a systematic process of university autonomy violation that both the central administration of the UAG (Autonomous University of Guerrero), and the University Council proper have not been able to denounce, stop and defend".
Justino García Téllez, faculty member, expressed that what happened is a systematic situation, and did not discard that also may be related with the electoral process for directors and representatives to the University Council which are happening right now in the university departments. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Francisco José Ayala

Spanish American Biologist; concerned with man's moral behavior, accepts Charles Darwin view that higher intelligence leads to ethical judgment. Prof. Ayala from the University of California, at Irvine, recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Difference of Being Human, where you can read his views on this issue. He mentions that Prof. Pinker from MIT, considers this the closest thing to the meaning of life.

Ayala's concerns with ethics come, I suppose, from his prior life as a Catholic Priest. Now he is married, and has children, and follows the tradition of European thinkers with a religious background, like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Goerges Lemaître.
Other giant with a similar upbringing was Ivan Illich.

Lev Cantoral: Movie Director

¿A Qué le Tiras Cuando Sueñas Mexicano? Chava Flores

It Would be Great!

Reading about the White House Gala, and imagining George López and Chava Flores, I just remembered this line:

¿A qué le tiras cuando sueñas Mexicano?

What are you thinking Mexican when you dream?

Gorrones in the White House?

This afternoon the Calderones were received by the Obamas. The NYT informs us that no Gate Crachers (Gorrones) were allowed.

Maybe you will like to hear Chava Flores (below) singing about Gate Crachers, better known as Gorrones here down South.

Llegaron los Gorrones: Chava Flores

Diego Fernández de Cevallos

"The Mexican leader was being showered with attention to bolster him at a time when Mexico is mired in a bloody drug war. Violence has become more frequent in Mexico even as Mr. Calderón has stepped up arrests and seizures by the police. Among the recent victims are a close friend of Mr. Calderón, who was kidnapped, and a candidate from his party, who was shot dead.

Mr. Obama vowed to “stand together against the drug cartels” and praised Mr. Calderón’s efforts. “As your partner, we’ll give you the support you need to prevail,” Mr. Obama said."


This quote was taken from the NYT.


The close friend's name is Diego Fernández de Cevallos. Some Mexicans, myself included, feel unprotected by a Government that cannot protect its own. I feel that the President's Party, National Action Party or PAN, is having a hard time learning the ropes of government. They have had the presidency, for ten years now, and they have not been able, even to get respect for Mexicans, by the US Government, and even less by the average US citizen who gets awakened by the Pauls (read below), instead of accepting their neighbors to the South.

Mexico and the US

Today in the NYT , you can read about the state visit of Mexican President Felipe Calderón to the White House. Independently of my status as a US resident of Mexican descent, here I express my concern about the blatant disrespect of the average American citizen towards Mexico and Mexicans. Since it is not my intention to upset anybody, I try to be clear.

White Mexicans also disrespect Mexican Indians. If you are a white Anglo Saxon protestant, please do not take my thoughts as an insult. I do have friends and acquaintances with these ethnic and religious characteristics. This note is in good faith. I am not fighting any particular group.

A few days ago I posed two questions in this blog; now I answer them. Why Arizonans do not like Mexicans? Why "Dominicanos" (natives of Santo Domingo) do not like Haitians?

The questions were prompted when I found out that black Haitians will think it twice before crossing the border to Santo Domingo. They used to behead illegal immigrants at that border. Maybe now they don't, but I assume that people remember the past in that border.

The Sonora Arizona border also has a long time memory. Disrespect is the present state of deep hatreds born out of a real war for land, and the efforts to enslave ones neighbors. The Gaza Israel border also comes to mind. The Israeli Governement recently did not allow Noam Chomsky to feel comfortable around there.

Deep, deep hate.

I focus on the American-Mexican foreign relations here.

Remember The Alamo , is a real American battle cry. Our border has not been peaceful. At some level both countries remember the Mexican- American War.

Americans disrespect Mexicans, I pose in this note; because they are not proud of what a state of War made them do. Imagine the nightmares of so many American soldiers, if they were to wake up one day with neighbors from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention Japan, Italy, and Germany. Wars make animals out of people, senses of decency, morality, and just plain human respect for other human beings, fly out the window.

Greaser, wetback, illegals: All compounded on civilized disrespect.

That is why I think Americans disrespect Mexicans, and "Dominicanos" Haitians.

That is my answer.

Before we can become brothers and sisters as we are supposed to be, we first have to bring out these devils that are poisoning our souls.

Brothers, I will be waiting for you. Once we come together, there won't be any natural disaster that will stop human ascension to higher states of consciuosness.

If none of this makes any sense to you, I guess you won't come back for more.

Good bye, and good luck.

Obama's 9/11?

Today Tom Friedman writes an interesting note in the NYT. He advises President Obama to show courage and fix the sick relationship Americans have with oil.

I have no idea what Obama will do. I see that the Tea Party already has one candidate, Rand Paul, running for his Republican Party seat to the Senate for Kentucky.

Then there is this new book by Matt Ridley, "Rational Optimist." He tells us not to worry, humanity has always found a way. I hope he is right, but I do not know.

I guess some readers already stopped reading this, this guy does not know anything, why should I keep reading him?

Actually I do know a lot of things. The only thing I do not know is the future. Furthermore, whenever I hear false prophets like Ron Paul, and his son Rand, I get worried, very worried. I've seen this movie before, very sure rightists: Want some names. Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and yes, Adolf Hitler.

There is more to the future than certainty. I am glad our Universe is like that.

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