This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation.
When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

R.F.S.* can strike at any time. Won't you help?


R.F.S. is short for Rock F*#king Stupidity, which everyone's favorite current governor of Alaska has shown once again, this time in an interview on a friendly, right wing talk radio show. Here's the money quote.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

A lot of people get the First Amendment wrong, but Sarah Barracuda is shootin' at the wrong basket! When you say something in public, other folks have the right to disagree with you! That's you usin' your First Amendment rights, and other folks usin' their First Amendment rights.

The freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment isn't a magic rule that says you get to say whatever you want without any consequences, but that Congress shall make no law to restrict anyone's freedom of speech. Of course, there are exceptions, like inciting a riot or threatening the life of a public official, and some original intent pinheads think the states can make laws abridging freedom of speech.

But the beauty pageant runner up went completely brain dead on this one. If she wants a place where she doesn't have to fear the mainstream media, maybe she should move to Russia. Vladimir Putin doesn't take a lot of crap from the press over there anymore. Even better, she should get some smart guy to invent a time machine so she can live under Uncle Joe Stalin. You can bet your bottom dollar (or your last red ruble) he didn't live in fear of attacks from the media!

Some on the right want to clean house after the election and make membership in the new party contingent on loyalty shown to Sarah Palin. Go ahead, comrades! You are well within your First Amendment rights! And it gives solid evidence that in some situations, R.F.S. may highly contagious.

Friday non-random 1 for 10/31

Earlier this week, I got a song stuck in my head. I have no idea where I heard it recently. It probably just bubbled up from the jillion songs I have in my head, like everybody else.

In my head, it sounded pretty good, so I went to iTunes, listened to 15 seconds of it for real, plunked down my 99 internet cents and downloaded it.

The song is Come and Get Your Love by Redbone.


The song sounds like it could be a Philly soul classic from the stable of Gamble and Huff, but Redbone weren't black guys from Philly. They were founded by Pat and Lolly Vasquez, two brothers who were mixed blood Hispanic and Native American. The name Redbone is the Cajun term for mixed blood Native American.

Whatever their origins, there is no denying that they created a perfect pop song with their biggest hit. Hook after hook are layered on top of a fantastic funk foundation of powerful drums and a spanking bass. There's even the musical forensic evidence that the song is from the early 1970's, a pattern that I first learned from Padre Mickey. Studios went from 8 track to 16 or 24 track during that era, and producers everywhere saw all those empty tracks when recording some pop songs and decided, "Hey! Let's add some strings!"

Without further ado, let me trot out my best Casey Kasem impersonation and say...

From 1974, here's Redbone with their number 5 national hit, Come and Get Your Love.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, this is a gem.

McCain is in Ohio. The crowd is reported at 6,500, but that includes 4,000 kids from local schools brought in, I'm assuming many against their will. Aw, hell, it's a road trip, it's a free day off, they probably didn't mind that much.

So McCain brings up his favorite guy, Joe the Plumber. You get the feeling that he wishes he had chosen Joe as his running mate, but too little, too late.

Here's the YouTube clip.



Joe didn't show. Oopsie.

Joe wants to be a country and western singer. No, really. Hell, that sounds like more fun than snaking sewers, doesn't it? Obviously, he's already patterning himself after George Jones, former husband of Tammy Wynette, known in the business as "No Show Jones" because of how often he forgot to show up to gigs. The old joke goes that a guy walks up to the box office, puts down his money and says, "I'd like to buy two chances to see George Jones, please."

Regardless of how the election turns out, this is one of the worst run campaigns ever.

Are you ready for some infection?

There have been a slew of staph infections in the NFL recently. Time magazine has an article about it. Kellen Winslow, Jr. of the Cleveland Browns is one of the players who had an infection recently, the sixth player on that team to have a staph infection since 2005. Winslow went on the record saying the Browns' asked him not to talk about it to the press, which the Browns emphatically denied. They were so emphatic about denying a cover-up, they suspended Winslow for a game to show there is no cover-up.

That'll teach him.

Winslow, whose dad was also an NFL star back in the day, is by no means the biggest name star to come down with a staph infection. Two Super Bowl champion quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, have also been hit with the disease. Brady's infection spread to his knee, which is healing from surgery, and the estimated time it will take for him to heal has been extended by several months.

Did your mama tell you to be neat and wash your hands regularly? This is still good advice and sometimes even world famous millionaires who date supermodels forget to heed it, needlessly endangering their careers.

That'll teach 'em.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Validation... I haz it.


So, I'm watching Keith Olbermann last night, and what is his campaign comment?

Sarah Palin is a socialist.

I wonder where he got this clever idea?

Could it be here? Or here?

Seriously, I don't need credit. He may very well have come up with it on his own, it wasn't that hard to put two and two together if you have read about the Alaska Permanent Fund.

But for all my beloved readers, let me say with nearly no modesty at all.

You heard it here first.






Then the next hour, Rachel Maddow apologizes beforehand to the more sports minded Olbermann, and talks about how football statistics kind of stink, because all that really matters is the final score, but it's worth noticing on what part of the field the game is being played. Using this territorial metaphor in regards to the campaign, looking at where the ad money is being spent in the last week, Obama is playing offense in the red states, while McCain is defending territory Bush won handily in 2004.

I like Ms. Maddow, even though she went to Stanford, because she grew up in Castro Valley, a town I've lived in and my dad will be living in yet again at the beginning of November. (Welcome back to the neighborhood, Papa.) I agree with her that football stats do kind of stink, and that's why I'm putting in the hours over at a little thing I like to call The Unified Football Theory.

To Rachel, I can only say, thanks for the unintentional plug, homeslice, and I hope you keep doing well in the ratings.

Wednesday Math, Vol. 45: Regular tilings of the plane

A tiling of the plane is the covering of all of a flat two-dimensional surface with a repeating pattern. The fancy word is tessellation.

Think bathroom tiles. Think M.C. Escher. Think mosaics.

If you are also thinking about the renowned physicist Roger Penrose and his tilings, you get extra mathy Matty Boy bonus points.

Let's start simple, with tilings that involve regular polygons, straight line shapes where all the line segments are of equal length and all the angle measures are also equal to each other.


If we use only one regular polygon repeated over and over, there are only three possible tilings of the plane. The most famous is the square grid. Also well known is the hexagon tiling, which is the shape bees use in a honeycomb, and the third is a triangular tiling. All the angles at any corner must add up to 360 degrees, so with a triangle it's 6x60, with a square it's 4x90, and the hexagon gives us 3x120.

So far, so good.



There are also tilings where we mix and match two or more regular polygons to fill all the space. The most common of these uses octagons, where an octagon is surrounded north, south, east and west with other octagons, and the gaps created are squares. This is a well known linoleum tile pattern.


We can do something similar the with twelve sided regular polygon, known as a dodecagon. If it has dodecagons as neighbors at six of the sides, the gaps are regular triangles.


If we have dodecagons meet each other north, south, east and west, the gaps created can be filled with four triangles surrounding a square.


There are several ways to use triangles and hexagons together to tile the plane.

Of those, this one is my favorite.



Likewise, there are several ways to use triangles and squares together, and this one is my favorite of these.


The last mix and match tiling I present here is this pattern using hexagons, triangles and squares together. If you look at a hexagon and the squares and triangles that surround it, those shapes together define a dodecagon.

There are plenty more. If you want to try your hand at finding some, knock yourself out. It makes for fun doodle time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I like bike nerds, too.


My bike was being cranky. The derailleur cable was frayed and no longer could go anywhere except the middle gear, the front disc brake wasn't working, and there were lots of creaks and squeaks.

I took it to Fruitvale Bike Station, the storefront pictured here in the lower
left of the picture, conveniently located near the Fruitvale BART station, pictured in the upper right.

They fixed my bike. I no longer have a 7-speed bike, but a 21-speed bike as advertised. The creaks and squeaks are gone and though the guy at the shop said he didn't see anything on the work order about the disk brake, that works, too. Unlike other bike shops I've gone to locally, they gave me same day service, in by 9:00 and out by 4:00.

Yay, honest and competent mechanics! Whether you have a bike or a car, having someone you trust fix it when things are messed up is a great joy in modern life.

If you are a bike rider anywhere in the Bay Area living near the BART lines, give Fruitvale Bike Station a try. Tell them Matty Boy sent you, and they will give you a puzzled look and ask "Who the hell is Matty Boy?"

I like Obama...

because he's like me.

Any two human beings are likely to have something in common, even if it's superficial. I'm like John McCain and Joe Biden and Sarah Palin because we are all Caucasian. I have another genetic trait in common with McCain in that we're both left handed.


I'm like Barack Hussein Obama because we're both nerds. In fact, we are both alpha nerds, nerds that other non-nerds just don't mess with much, and other nerds look to us as the go-to nerd in many situations.

Talking to a friend from New York City on the phone this weekend, we both commented on Obama's nerdiness. The common phrase in politics for nerd is policy wonk, and most certainly both Clintons and Gore would be so described, but for me, I think Obama is more like two failed Democratic presidents of the past Adlai Stevenson and Michael Dukakis. Stevenson wasn't a bad candidate, really, but he ran twice against Eisenhower, the greatest war hero of the 20th Century. Dukakis, though he had a Mediterranean background, was not like a character from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In fact, he was more like Ian's parents, the cold fish whose son was marrying into the Greek family. Many people attribute his loss to the work of scummy Bush operative Lee Atwater, but Dukakis was held back by his funny name, his short stature and passionless character, best caricatured by Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live, who in one skit outed Dukakis as an alien from a planet where emotions are unknown.

Barack isn't cold. Barack is cool. His smile and his family give him a great likability, but when he talks, it's clear that he thinks like a nerd. Unlike Adlai, he's not running against an unbeatable hero. Unlike Dukakis, he's significantly taller than his opponent. In U.S. presidential campaigns, the taller candidate usually wins. The main exceptions to this rule are that George W. Bush beat taller candidates twice, or should we say, when the dust cleared, he had more electoral votes.

Who but a nerd like me would remember such trivia?

At the Al Smith dinner this year, both candidates donned tuxedos and told jokes, as is the tradition. This should have favored McCain, since he actually tells jokes more readily, though the press is hounding him for some of the bad jokes he's told. Obama's writers gave him a perfect line, both self deprecating and self aggrandizing, but most especially nerdy. "Contrary to popular belief, I wasn't born in a manger." Obama said. "I was sent here from the planet Krypton by my father Jor-El."

To get the joke, you need to know some origin myths. I'm not Jesus, I'm Superman is what he said, but he said it in funny nerd talk. Intentionally funny nerd talk.

Do we know anyone else who talks in intentionally funny nerd-ese?

Yes, we do, hypothetical question asker. Matty Boy talks that way. And that is just one reason why this blog supports Barack Hussein Obama for president.

I certainly wouldn't want the job myself, but of the choices we have today, only one of candidates looks like he can get it done.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Redemption: Mad Men Season 2 finale


(Warning: minor plot plots discussed.)

Earlier this month, I wrote a review expressing disappointment with the direction that Mad Men season 2 was taking.

The 13th and final episode aired last night, and I'm no longer wearing the cranky pants.

I wanted more stuff about the ad business. In episode 12, Peggy, played by Elizabeth Moss and pictured here running a meeting, lands the Popsicle account with a great idea. I wanted the historical accuracy to be more than just good costume and set design. The season finale is set during the Cuban missile crisis. A lot of plots and subplots came together in episode 13, and while many are resolved, there are changes in the situation at both the Sterling Cooper ad agency and the Draper household that promise for interesting conflicts and conflict resolutions in the third season, if AMC can afford it.

Congratulations to series creator Matthew Weiner for writing and directing a great last episode to Season 2. As is true with these series that are only thirteen episodes long, now the long wait for the next season begins.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hey, John! There's a bus for Phoenix in ten minutes! Be under it.


The lumpy guy on the right of this picture, the guy who makes John McCain look youthful and vibrant and active by comparison, that's Arizona's junior senator Jon Kyl. Kyl gave an interview to an Arizona newspaper this weekend.

With friends like these, who needs enemas?

For my busy readers who just don't have time to click on a link, the money quote is this.

Unfortunately, I think John McCain might be added to that long list of Arizonans who ran for president but were never elected," Kyl said, listing Republican Barry Goldwater, Udall and Democrat Bruce Babbitt. "Maybe, we'll be able to say Arizona's the only state where your child can't grow up to be president. Let's hope that doesn't happen," the Republican added.

"If it's not John McCain, it'll be another Arizonan someday," said Kyl.

Though Princess Sparkle Pony isn't here to chide me if I say something mean about Cindy McCain, let me add that Cindy looks fabulous in this picture. She can even make beige work, as long as she stays away from those granny shawls.

Sunday numbers, Volume 8: Oct. 26, 2008

Nine days. Really, that's all the time that's left.

Okay, it's early Sunday morning, and we probably won't know until late evening on Tuesday a week from now, so maybe it's more like ten days, but still, we can count the days on our fingers. Yay!

Oh, yeah, I forgot. Daylight savings time is next weekend, so there's an extra hour. Yeesh.


Let me type a few words guaranteed to make anyone to the left of George W. Bush grind their teeth.

Florida. Ohio.

In both of those states, polls have swung around a lot this week. Some polls have had Obama leading and others showed McCain with a lead. Same thing has happened in Nevada, where the median poll is a flat-footed tie, 47% to 47%.

Here's something to calm down those nervous people who don't want to see four more years of Republican rule. McCain could win Ohio, Florida and Nevada, and Obama could still have more than 300 electoral votes.

Strong for Obama (90% confidence of victory or higher): DC, HI, CA, VT, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, ME, CT, OR, DE, MN, WI, MI, PA, WA, OH, IA, NM, MO, VA, CO
313 electors
Leaning Obama (confidence of victory between 51% and 89%): NH, IN, ND, NC, FL
60 electors
Total for Obama if the election were held today: 373 electors

Toss-up states: NV - 5 electors

Strong for McCain (90% confidence of victory or higher): WV, TX, SC, AK, MS, KY, KS, LA, TN, SD, NE, AZ, AL, WY, OK, AR, ID, UT
142 electors
Leaning McCain (confidence of victory between 51% and 89%): MT, GA
18 electors
Total for McCain if the election were held today: 160 electors

McCain needed to follow up on the momentum he had last week and make it even bigger. Instead, things are churning around, and the general direction is for Obama. One could argue that the news story that helped him most early this week was the endorsement from Colin Powell, but really, that was ages ago. What are we talking about now? Sarah Palin's wardrobe and make-up, a crazy girl beating herself up and blaming an imaginary big scary black guy, who is not only a mugger but politically involved.

And, oh yeah, Joe Biden told us a terrible crisis awaits Barack Obama as soon as he gets in office. Thanks for the heads up, Joe!

Besides the tally 373 to 160 with 5 toss-up, there is also the expected value. Right now, because Obama has more states in the leaning category, his lead in the expected value is only 357 to 181, or about 2 to 1.

Here's where I'm supposed to write about there still being time and this thing isn't over.

Honestly, I'll leave that to the campaigns and the news media. Obama's people won't say it's over because they still want contributions. McCain's people won't say it's over because conceding would kill the chances of other Republicans running. The media won't say it's over because they love the horse race aspect of the thing, and will over-report anything that makes it look close. But if numbers mean anything, it's not close and it's not getting closer.

I always write "if the election were held today". In some ways, with early voting and voting by mail, the election IS being held today. No matter what happens in the next nine days, there are folks like me whose vote will not change, because I've already signed the envelope, stuck the stamp on it and put it in the mailbox.

If the numbers alone were not enough to convince me, the press reports coming out of the Palin-McCain camp make me think that they have some math nerd inside their team, and he or she is telling them the same things I'm telling you, or the same things you can read on any of a number of electoral college sites. The New York Times is reporting on the chaos inside the Republican camp, and we are seeing sniping and back-biting that usually doesn't happen until after the votes are counted, especially from McCain staffers about the "diva" Sarah Palin. The Telegraph U.K. has senior Republican officials talking about a civil war inside the party if this thing is a rout.

Don't stop working. Don't forget to vote. If Barack Obama has given you hope, that's a good thing, because there are plenty of reasons to have hope.

Last report on this blog is seven days from now. Election Day is two days after that.

I can't wait, though I suppose I'll have to.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sarah the Socialist


I wrote this early in the campaign, but it's more true now than ever.

No sane Republican would want to turn over the rock that is Alaska politics and expose what is crawling there to the American public if they planned to win an election. The corruption of Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young are the least of their worries.

Sarah Palin is talking as of 24 October about a communist state under Barack Hussein Obama. This speech is probably written by the same jerk who quoted Westbrook Pegler in her convention speech. Pegler was a fringe nut who called for the assassinations of both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Robert F. Kennedy.

The main problem with the idea of Sarah the Conservative Darling is that Alaska has been happily living under socialist rule for more than a generation, and anyone campaigning against it wouldn't just lose, they might be tarred and feathered.

The Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) has been the most successful homegrown socialist program for more than thirty years now. Unlike Social Security, which takes both from business and workers, the APF steals money only from businesses, and specifically only the oil and gas businesses.

Miners in Alaska, rape the environment for free! Get all the gold or silver or other minerals you need. We'll screw the energy companies, thanks very much.

All the money goes to the citizens. What a bonanza! In 1999, a request to share the booty given with the government lost 84% to 16%. Aren't those the kind of number you expect to see in a so-called "election" under communist rule?

Anyone who has decided to stay in Alaska for a year gets cut a check, and the money comes from the people who produce the stuff we need to keep modern civilization moving. A nice check for no work. I'd call that socialism, wouldn't you?

More than that, the check in 2008 was $3,200, which doubled the 2007 check of about $1,600. Of course, the price of crude jumped amazingly from 2008 to 2007, but the big jump in the check was due to a one time payout of and extra $1,200, approved by the Alaska legislature and the governor of Alaska.

Uncle Joe Stalin, meet Auntie Sarah Palin.

In conclusion, let me say this. The Republican Party needs to die. Like the Whigs, like the Know-Nothings, like any of a number of parties in this country's history, they serve no useful purpose and the members should be scattered to the four winds. Our republic cannot survive the continued survival of the so-called Republican Party.

(Also posted at the Smirking Chimp.)

Extra 'splainin' or giant women?


Hey! What's the matter with both?

I finally saw an article that gave plausible explanations for impressive strength of the dollar since the global crisis started, and the even more impressive strength of the yen.

The Euro is being punished vis-a-vis the dollar not because of major problems in the actual Eurozone, but because of fear that there will be trouble due to wounded European economies that threaten to bring down the Euro, though those countries use their own national currencies. The article brought up Iceland, naturally, and several former Soviet Bloc countries, most especially Poland. The only former Soviet Bloc nation using the Euro currently is Slovenia.

The dollar is gaining ground because people are moving away from nearly every other currency in the Western Hemisphere and demanding greenbacks instead.

The yen is doing better than anyone because of how many risky propositions worldwide the Japanese bet on over past few years, and now they would like their money back, thank you very much and it was a pleasure doing business with you.

The Japanese are very polite.

Or at least that's the story in so-called "reputable business publications".

Want to know the Matty Boy 'splanation? Of course you do.

The Japanese are planning to take over the world, and rule with giant Japanese women who have been genetically engineered in their top secret labs.



Like today's world, consumerism will be the rule in the new world order, with giant women forcing their tiny subjects to buy lots of deodorant, because they hate it when little vermin like us are smelly.



Some of our colossal overladies will use gentle persuasion on selected members of the new permanent underclass, but kind or cruel, the result is the same.

Cell phones for all! And paying the cell phone bill will be mandatory!



In less civilized parts of the world, kimono clad gargantuan geishas will demand total fealty, or they will bring forward a quickening of global warming with colossal cups of instant noodle soup.

Who among you knows the future? Can you be sure it ISN'T true?

I didn't think so.

Three reasons I'm not switching sides.


I don't agree with everything I read on left wing blogs, but then I go to right wing blogs occasionally, and I realize there's no chance I'm hanging out with these pinheads.

I googled "Intrade Market Odds", and the fourth link is to a page from the Free Republic website. Obama had been leading on the market based (read:gambling) site for some time during the summer, but on September 8, McCain's stock crept up over 50%, and Obama's went under the halfway point.

Go and read what these geniuses had to say. You know how I say "Don't celebrate early"? I really don't have to repeat it, but I do because I'm a teacher and repetition is an important tool of pedagogy. These idiots are unteachable. They are actually talking about buying champagne and their unstoppable momentum on September 8!

Unbelievable.

I put in the last comment on this thread using the screen name NChooseK, and since I went to the trouble of becoming a member, I decided to write a post using a theme I used earlier this week here, speculating if Sarah Palin's popularity in Alaska has anything to do with the bigger free check the Alaska Permanent Fund gave every Alaskan in 2008. I titled it "Is Sarah Palin the most popular socialist governor in the U.S.?"

They banned me, the useless turds. So much for the right wing version of the free exchange of ideas.


The news from the polls has been generally good, but people on the left are still crazy nervous. Larry David, quoted over on FranIAm, says it's like waiting for the results of a biopsy. Any time a national poll shows that race is within a point or two, some parts of the press scream it loud, and liberals start getting their stomach in knots. Really, if you take a look at all the national polls in a day, and even math crazy Matty Boy thinks there are WAY too many tracking polls, the median polls have said the same thing for some time now. Obama's lead nationally is about six or seven points in the median polls.

Of course the national numbers are meaningless, as everybody learned in 2000.

Oh, no, it's going to be stolen!

You know, maybe not. Sometimes the Republicans just run a bad campaign. Here's a link to the still live Dole-Kemp '96 website. Do you remember this campaign? Do you remember "Where's the outrage?" Dole got his panties in a bunch because Gore went to a fund raiser at a Buddhist temple.

Do you remember when we were supposed to be afraid of Buddhists, for Lenny's sake?

It was a kinder, gentler time.


While I think the folks at Free Republic are pinheads and scumbags, I don't really hate Bob Dole, I just disagree with him. This next guy, David Zucker, is a different story. I used to actually admire him, and he's fallen such a long, long way.

Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker were the creative team behind Airplane!, a movie that was completely unlike any movie made before it. The Marx Brothers made manic zany films, Woody Allen did the same with What's Up, Tiger Lily?, but Airplane! raised the stakes to new heights. A gag a minute was too slow, so they brought it up to five gags a minute, and it worked. They used the same format in the spy spoof Top Secret, and it is also very funny. Just to show they could make a funny movie where people actually followed something like the rules of logic, Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker are also the talent behind Ruthless People, one of the best comedies of the past thirty years, a brilliant re-working of O. Henry's The Ransom of Red Chief.

Then David Zucker's talent and reputation fell off a cliff. He wrote, produced and directed the truly awful BASEketball. He directed My Boss' Daughter, Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4.

Seeing this guy make unfunny crap would be sad enough, but now he decided to make unfunny crap right wing propaganda as writer, director and producer. He got some studio to give him $20 million to make An American Carol, a movie that skewers a character obviously based on Michael Moore. The premise is left wing filmmaker wants to ban the Fourth of July, so he is visited by ghosts, like Dickens did to Scrooge.

And this movie died.

It had the advantage of a major release, over 1,600 theaters nationwide, and nobody went to see it. After two weeks, that fell to about 600 theaters. As of Thursday, it's playing at 109 theaters across the country, and drawing truly pathetic per screen numbers. It hasn't made $7 million yet, and the rule of thumb in Hollywood used to be that a movie needed to make about three times the production cost to break even.

To give you an idea of what a miserable failure David Zucker has become, Michael Moore spent about $20 million to make three films, and those three films grossed $165 million total.

David, do you notice that red back lighting in your picture? Those are the flames of hell, dude. The good news is that they haven't engulfed you. This is simple advice from a fan, the same advice the aliens gave Woody Allen's character in Stardust Memories.

You want to improve the human condition? Make funnier films.

And leave the polemics to someone with more taste and talent. You're out of your league.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just posting this...

before that commie bastid Padre Mickey beats me to it.

It's true! Here in Los Estados Unidos, we have to worry about socialists, but down in places like Panama, they have actual commies!


Click on the cartoon to make it larger and more readable.

If you found it a droll comment on the news of the day, take a quick look at the copyright date.

Apparently, some news really isn't news.

Standard Operating Procedure by Errol Morris


Errol Morris is the most interesting artist dedicated to the documentary over the last thirty years. He doesn't have the box office success that Michael Moore has had, but his work is more complex and illuminating, and far more diverse. Morris makes movies about whatever fascinates him. From a murder in Texas to Robert McNamara to Stephen Hawking to naked mole rats, I never know what to expect from one of his films and I always learn something new.

Morris' latest work, Standard Operating Procedure, is about the Abu Ghraib prison, the pictures that were taken there and people who were punished, either through court-martial or demotion. The movie didn't get an audience in the theaters, but I hope more people will see it now that it is out on video.

Quite simply, if you think you know what went on there because you saw the pictures, most of what you know is wrong. I watched the movie and the extended scenes and the director's commentary, and I advise anyone reading this to do the same. I don't want to give anything away, but Morris in his commentary gives his underlying reason for making the film in these terms.

Do photos tell stories?

What is the context of a snapshot? What happened just before the shot, and what happened after?

What was the motive of the person taking the pictures?

I'm a big fan of documentaries, and this is one of the best I have seen in a very long time. Matty Boy says check it out.

Random 10, Friday 10/24


Running Out of Angels Elvis Costello
Poisoning Pigeons in the Park Tom Lehrer
The Look of Love Dusty Springfield
Groaning the Blues Eric Clapton
Hang On St. Christopher Tom Waits
Pulling Mussels From a Shell Squeeze
A Matter of Time Los Lobos
Night Train James Brown
Caro Mio Ben (Giordani) Cecilia Bartoli
Moon Country Hoagy Carmichael and his Orchestra

We have YouTube for eight out of ten this week. All that's missing is an obscure demo from an extended play track on Rykodisc's re-mastering of the Elvis Costello albums and an old Hoagy Carmichael song that hasn't been put up on the giant library. We have live performances from the idol of my youth Tom Lehrer, and the idol of my adulthood Tom Waits. Also playing live are Squeeze, Los Lobos and Cecilia Bartoli. Ms. Bartoli has the unenviable task of coming on stage after James Brown, but she is singing possibly the prettiest song ever written for a mezzo soprano. I'm not in love with her performance here; too much mugging and not enough projection. The microphone was not placed in the best location, but it's her job to be heard everywhere in such a setting.

There are some record collectors (a.k.a. vinylheads) who think The Look of Love is the epitome of the recording art. I wouldn't go that far, but I do love me some Dusty Springfield.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not split, but shattered


In 1964, and again in 1976, there were famous and open splits in the Republican Party, battles between the conservative and moderate wings, named at the time for the person who led each faction. In 1964, the battle was joined by the Goldwater Republicans and the Rockefeller Republicans, and the victorious Goldwater faction led the party to a stinging landslide defeat. In 1976, it was billed as Jerry Ford vs. Ronald Reagan, and while the moderates prevailed at the convention, the party could not overcome being the party of Nixon, who is now remembered for his paranoia and criminal acts, which overshadow the fact that he governed in a pragmatic and moderate way, especially by today's standards.

The problems in the G.O.P. today are far worse. The party is not split, but shattered into an uncountable number of pieces, and it is nearly impossible to name the leader of each sect. Every faction will still stand together under the flag of low taxes, but after that, what do they really stand for?

First, the moderates are the bleak remnants of a defeated army. The names usually mentioned are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, perhaps the competent Dick Lugar. Their only recent bright light is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been conspicuously absent from the scene this election cycle. Is that his choice or McCain's, or has the media just grown tired of his stale celebrity and decided not to mention him anymore?

The story of the conservatives is even worse. Which conservatives are you talking about? Who speaks for the religious wing, for example? Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, George W. Bush? Or is it an unelectable kingmaker like Dr. James Dobson, who anointed Sarah Palin as pure and worthy, forgetting his open contempt for John McCain.

And what about the fiscal conservatives, those who truly care about spending and not just low taxes? Who is their standard bearer? They showed their strength the first time the bailout bill was brought forward and defeated, and those who remained unbribed and stayed true to their convictions and popular opinion on the second vote are not a small group. They could do a lot worse than put forward Ron Paul as their spokesperson. While he did not do a good job of garnering votes in the primaries, his followers are decidedly loyal, and his fundraising abilities are astounding.


And then there are the "movement conservatives", the writers and pundits whose now dead mentor was William F. Buckley, the people who John McCain now calls "the cocktail party set". The topic of Sarah Palin has split their ranks into two very nasty camps. Buckley's son Christopher has even written that he will vote for Obama due to his disgust with the pandering pick of Palin, and neocon drunk Christopher Hitchens has followed suit. Others like George Will, Kathleen Parker and Peggy Noonan will merely cluck and roll their eyes and still on Election Day, hold their noses and pull the lever for McCain, who has disappointed them again and again during the campaign.

Palin still has a squad of supporters among the right wing writers, though many of the males seem to have the same awkward crush towards her that I have towards Indira Varma or Elizabeth Kucinich or Ursula Plassnik. I feel some sympathy for Rich Lowry and Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes and Tony Blankley and Pat Buchanan as they express their embarrassing and adolescent admiration, though my sympathy is tempered by the fact that I have some taste and they don't.

(Note to Pat Buchanan: I realize you are Irish, and therefore can't help yourself, but saying the same stupid thing in a voice a half octave higher does not make it more true. Be a man and learn to use the baritone for emphasis, not that high pitched bargain counter tenor whine that is your exceedingly annoying trademark.)


Then we come to the siren that drew the Republican ship to the rocks, Sarah Palin herself, plucky hockey mom and gosh darn reformer. Her defenders love to remind people that she is the most popular governor in the country, as though that proves that people are 100% behind her extreme views on abortion and man's part in causing climate change and biblical literalism and the constitutional powers of the vice presidency.

I have three words for these people.

Alaska Permanent Fund.

Since the 1970s, every citizen of Alaska has been given a very nice bonus from the state for sitting around on their fat butts and doing nothing. This welfare check went from $1,600 in 2007 to $3,200 in 2008, and why wouldn't the Alaskans give some credit to the cheerful gal who doubled their share of the pie they didn't bake?

Whose money is it? Why, it belongs to the oil companies, of course.

While I understand the concept of It's Okay If You're A Republican, shortened to IOKIYAR in internet lingo, if anyone else did this what would John McCain call it?

a) socialism
b) spreading the wealth
c) class warfare
d) all of the above

I'm not even sure the Red Meat Republicans know they have a socialist mole in their midst. Many of them don't seem to be thinking with the big head, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Project for a New Asian Century.

With the stock markets so volatile and generally heading in the direction of PLUMMET, who has time to keep track of other economic indicators?

Why, I do, hypothetical question asker! I have plenty of time. I'm a little strapped for cash, but time, I gots it by the bucketful.

The economic news you might not have heard is this. The dollar is going great guns. The dollar shrunk for most of the Bush administration like a tire with a slow leak, but that turned into a fast leak earlier this year and then, STOP!

Hammer time!

After mid-March, the dollar started showing strength against all major currencies and then BOOM!

The massive crisis that was first announced mid-September has been nothing but good news (almost) for the greenback. The dollar is pounding the pound, turning the Euro into eurotrash, and whipping the Canadian "dollar" and the Aussie "dollar" the way rank impostors should be whipped!

U.S.A!!! U.S.A!!!


And now comes the parenthetical (almost).

Those were the preliminary rounds, and now we are playing for the gold medal. The Chinese yuan is holding almost exactly level with the dollar at about 6.83 yuan to a dollar.

This means we are tied for the silver and bronze, with the favorite for the gold medal being... the Japanese!

The Japanese currency is whipping the dollar the way the Japanese all-star team baseball team whips the U.S. national team. Right now, it takes only 99 yen to buy a dollar, and the yen keeps surging while nearly all other currencies are in full flight retreat when compared to the dollar.

Way back in 1933, Adolph Hitler and his pals had plans for a thousand year reich. It lasted 12 years.

Back in the 1990's, Dick Cheney and his pals drew up a Project for the New American Century, starting with the premise that we were the world's only superpower and nobody anywhere could fuck with us. This New American Century appears to have lasted about seven years.

The moral of this story, boys and girls? It's the same moral I've been pushing all month, except in a new situation.

Don't celebrate early.

EDIT: Did I say 99 yen to a dollar? That's so four hours ago. Now it's 97 yen to a dollar.

Wednesday Math, Vol. 44: The line of regression and x-y ratio


The picture at the left shows a bunch of dots of different colors representing the closing prices of both gold and silver at various Fridays this year. The colors represent time, with the red dots being prices from the winter, the pink dots from the spring, the green dots from the summer and the light blue dots being the recent prices since late September.

A fair question to ask is if there is a pattern to the price changes, and the standard way to answer that is to find the line of regression, also known as the best fitting line or the line of least squares or the predictor line. In this case, that line is drawn in black and red, starting on the left at slightly above $500 for the price of gold and going up to about $1000 an ounce for gold at the right of the graph.

Gauss is given credit for the method of finding this line from any set of data like this, where values can be represented as matched pairs, and his method finds the slope of the line that will pass through the centroid point (x-bar, y-bar), the average values of both the x entries and the y entries. The line can always be drawn, but sometimes it isn't very valuable, because the data doesn't actually show much correlation. With these 34 data points, the correlation coefficient is about .9, which says the correlation is very strong. The highest possible value of the correlation coefficient is 1, and the lowest value is -1. Being close to 1 means strong positive correlation, being close to -1 means strong negative correlation, being close to 0 means not much correlation at all.

Visually, you can see that the points on the right of the graph are all very close to the line, but as the year progressed, the circled points in green and blue that are off to the left aren't as close, so the correlation got weaker as those points were added. Still, .9 is very impressive correlation for a data set of this size, and the predictor line has value.

This line has the equation y = 22.64x + 527.15, which means the best way to predict the price of gold (y) if you have the price of silver (x), is to multiply the silver price by 22.64, then add 527.15. This is not a tremendously useful tool for investors to get exact prices. If you have found the price of silver, you can probably find the exact price of gold as well. Investors would be more interested in the x-y ratio, which is to say how many ounces of silver will buy an ounce of gold. That is represented by the lines that start at the bottom right point, the origin (0,0) and extend until they reach the right or top of the graph. Because the silver and gold prices have different scales, the 45 degree line represents the x-y ratio of 50, which is marked by the number 50 in a box at the upper right hand corner. The other ratio line are marked with values 40, 60, 70, 80 and 90.

For most of 2006 and 2007, as well as the beginning of 2008, the gold-silver ratio did not stray that much from 50, meaning about 50 ounces of silver would buy you an ounce of gold. The slice of grey near the diagonal of the box shows when the ratio dipped below 50, which would have been the best time to be invested in silver instead of gold.

But in the past few months, even though there is still a correlation between the prices, meaning when gold prices increase or decrease, sliver prices tend to do the same, the ratio increases and decreases have changed drastically, represented by the blue dots being in the yellowish-green slice, indicating it takes between 80 to 90 ounces of silver to buy an ounce of gold.

This is just another odd pattern that is happening in the world markets in this very volatile financial year. To interject a little politics into my usually politics free math posts, this would be a good time to have a steady hand on the tiller in our president. While that is a quote from McCain, it is not a recommendation of McCain.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I need a break, how about you?

I haven't put up many lolz recently, and it's high time I did.


I decided that all the lolz today should be cute overload lolz, because I need a break.


And besides adorable critters, I present this video from Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones, actresses, Harvard grads, concerned citizens and Pretty Darned Adorable young ladies.


See more Natalie Portman videos at Funny or Die


Having watched their plan for the solving of the global financial crisis, I had a reaction not unlike the reaction of the lolz kitteh below.

John McCain and the crazy ladies

John McCain has a crazy lady problem. I'm not talking about the crazy lady at the town hall meeting who said "Obama's an Arab." I'm not even talking about Minnesota congressional nut job Michele Bachmann, who on Friday said that the press should look into who in Congress is pro-America and who is anti-America. He can't control who shows up at his rallies and as far as I can tell, Bachmann isn't directly on the McCain payroll.


The crazy ladies to whom I refer are in this picture. As we move left to right we get people who are closer to the candidate, and so whose nut job behavior reflects on him as a candidate and as a man whose honor is in serious question.

Crazy Lady #1 on the left is McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer. Recently, discussing McCain's dismal poll numbers in Virginia, a state Bush won handily in 2004, Pfotenhauer said that McCain's message was resonating in the "real Virginia", implying that places where people might prefer Barack Obama weren't real.

Crazy Lady #2 is of course Sarah Palin, the woman that John McCain swears up and down is qualified to run this country should the unlikely event of his election occur and something happen to him, God forbid both of those things. Her travel stops tend to be in small towns instead of cities, and she also said that the places she stops are "the real America" and the "Pro-America parts of this great country". So now people like me who have lived in major metropolitan areas my entire life are not just un-real Americans, we are anti-Americans. If you saw The Daily Show on Monday, Oct. 20, it's crystal clear that Jon Stewart read her comments the same way, and the gloves are off. What Letterman did to McCain after McCain blew him off is nothing compared to what Stewart will do now.

We save the best (or worst) for last, Crazy Lady #3, McCain's lovely trophy wife Cindy, who is by his side at many rallies and campaign stops. The standard use of a wife in a campaign is to have her talk about the wonderful man she married and his wonderful vision for the future of this great land of ours. But Cindy has gotten it into her superbly coiffed head that if that bitch Sarah Palin gets to be a pit bull in lipstick, then Cindy should get her shot, too. A few weeks back, Cindy said that a vote Obama made in the Senate against a war funding bill "made her blood run cold".

Leaving aside that reptiles' blood always runs cold, this crap doesn't pass the smell test. Obama voted against funding the war because the resolution did not include timetables for withdrawal. Her husband voted against a similar package when it did include timetables for withdrawal. Did her blood run cold then as well?

I am now of the opinion that this is the worst run campaign of the televised era, and I'm not alone in this assessment. People left, right and center are saying that when the financial bombshell hit, we got to see how Obama and McCain would act as president when they would face a crisis. McCain looked panicky, quick to react then retract, while Obama was Obama, cool as can be, thoughtful and ready. Conservatives are coming out in criticism of McCain on a regular basis, and some like Christopher Hitchens, Christopher Buckley and Colin Powell have gone beyond criticism and openly endorsed the Democrat.

They are right to do so. McCain can't control his temper, and even with that temper, he can't run the clean campaign he claims to want, because it's clear he's not really in charge. It's just another sad sign of what a doddering, weak and ineffectual husk of a human he's become.

He can't be president, and everyone with eyes can see it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama's good luck charm is on the ballot!


Having completed my absentee ballot in California yesterday, I can let non-Californians know that Alan Keyes, crazy fringe guy and perennial presidential candidate, is on the ballot in the Golden State, running for president on the slate of America's Independent Party, a splinter group of the American Independent Party, George Wallace's old political organization. He wanted to be the standard bearer for the Constitution Party, but the founder of that party considered Keyes a Johnny-come-lately and carpetbagger, so he settled for the AIP instead. He also made the ballot in Colorado and Florida. We can only hope this means good luck for Obama in those states as well.

The picture here is an example of the photoshopping skills of Princess Sparkle Pony, putting the eyes and mouth from the Nauga Beast on Mr. Keyes because, well, Mr. Keyes is crazy.






Mr. Keyes was the Republican standard bearer for senate in Illinois in 2004 when Barack Obama ran for the U.S. Senate and won handily. Mr. Keyes is actually a citizen of Maryland, but the Illinois Republicans were in a bit of a pickle, and brought him in at short notice.

The pickle was that the original Republican candidate, the bright and personable Jack Ryan, decided to withdraw from the race after the records of his custody proceedings from his divorce from the incredibly hot actress Jeri Ryan were made public. It seems Jack liked to take Jeri to sex clubs with the idea that they should have sex in a public place, maybe with a third very hot person, and Jeri... not so much.

Jack Ryan was personally outraged that these records became public and was horrified at the pain they caused his young son when he found out. Yes, sons experience horrible pain not when Dad IS a scumbag, but when they find out Dad is a scumbag.

So, best of luck to Senator Obama in the upcoming campaign, and here's hoping the special Alan Keyes magic can help him in California, Colorado and Florida especially.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When you vote by mail...

You don't get to wear a cool sticker like this.

So I'll just put the cool sticker up on my blog.

I voted for Clinton, twice in two separate elections, but I didn't send him money. I voted for Obama and I sent him money.

I don't want to celebrate early, but I just decided to teach my spell checker here on the blog the word "Obama". I think I might be using a few times more in the future.

Sunday numbers, Volume 7: Oct. 19, 2008


We are sixteen days away from knowing for sure, and I know the uncertainty is troublesome. This week, pollster.com had new polls in a remarkable 35 states, and there were three major changes. The much polled battleground state of Ohio went from leaning Obama to toss-up, and in the Confidence of Victory system it's very hard to be a toss-up. A couple of states that had one poll each switched sides, with McCain regaining West Virginia and Obama picking up North Dakota. Both changes were very dramatic, and they both could be outliers. Here's where the numbers stand as of October 19.


Barack Obama stills holds a commanding lead of 347 to 171, with 20 electors in Ohio contingent on a race too close to give an edge either way.

Strong for Obama (90% confidence of victory or higher): DC, HI, VT, MA, CA, MI, MD, NY, RI, ME, CT, IL, OR, WA, NJ, IA, DE, PA, VA, NH, WI, NM, MO, MN
288 electors
Leaning Obama (between 51% and 89% confidence of victory): CO, FL, NV, ND, NC
59 electors
Total electors for Obama if the election were held today: 347 electors

Toss-up states: OH
20 electors

Strong for McCain (90% confidence of victory or higher): UT, ID, OK, AL, WY, AK, NE, TN, AZ, SD, SC, TX, AR, KS, WV, MS, KY, GA, LA, MT
Leaning McCain (between 51% and 89% confidence of victory): IN
11 electors
Total electors for McCain if the election were held today: 171 electors

McCain gained 2 and Obama lost 22 from last week. That's the good news for McCain.

Here's the bad news for McCain. Time is running out. If Obama can hold onto the states where the numbers give him a 90% or more Confidence of Victory margin, he has 288 electors and he becomes president. Even more remarkably, though the three major moving states, Ohio, West Virginia and North Dakota, split 2-1 for McCain, states where the numbers changed marginally favored Obama this week, 21-6. Though Obama is off his high water mark from last week, his probability of victory numbers rose from a 3,000 to 1 favorite last week to a 7,600 to 1 favorite this week.

Here's where I say don't celebrate early.

Okay, I said it.

Honestly, the arguments that this is a close election are getting weaker and weaker.

If you go to Bill O'Reilly's FoxNoise site, he says it's 189-183 McCain with 166 toss-up, but O'Reilly is a joke. Click on the Real Clear Politics or Politico buttons to see how much of a joke.

Chris Matthews, a.k.a. Tweety Bird, was on MSNBC telling us how racist western Pennsylvania is and that Pennsylvania could see the Bradley effect. All the polls for more than three weeks in Pennsylvania have shown more than a double digit lead for Obama.

After Obama got 100,000 in St. Louis yesterday afternoon, a crowd of 75,000 showed up to greet him in Kansas City last night.

But the numbers I find most impressive are over at Intrade.com, where the market is currently betting 84% to 16% that Obama will win, compared to 60% to 40% at the beginning of the month. Intrade admits that even these impressive numbers are being kept artificially low by the actions of one "institutional investor" (read: idiot) with more dollars than sense who keeps on losing money buying up McCain to win contracts.

Let's see. Rock F*#king Stupid guy with too much money that he is willing to piss down a hole due to a pathetic emotional investment in the extreme longshot chance of McCain winning. Could it be our buddy no_slappz? (Fun fact: no_slappz's main blog has had 1,000 visitors in 12 months. In the last 30 days, any four days in a row here at Lotsa 'Splainin' add up to 1,000 visitors, and sometimes I get that many in three days. And my PageRank is a 4/10, very middle of the pack. My football blog is as popular as his based on weekly visitors, and honestly, nobody's showing up over there.)

More numbers next week. While I don't want people to celebrate early, I also don't want people to lose sleep.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Numbers are one thing, history is another.


It's mid-October and early voting has begun in some states. I'm going to finish filling in my absentee ballot this weekend and mail it off once I do a little more research into some propositions and bonds.

On this weekend, John McCain is campaigning in Virginia, a state Bush won in 2004 and where McCain is trailing big time. He spent some time there praising Joe the Plumber, and both he and Sarah Palin are using the word "socialist" to label Barack Obama.

Obama is campaigning in Missouri, which Bush won in 2004 and where polls show Obama leading big time. One can question the validity of polls on many grounds, but a crowd of 100,000 people in St. Louis gives you a pretty good idea that Obama has some support in the Show Me state.

The 100,000 is the estimate from the cops.

To recap, Obama is playing offense in red states, McCain is playing defense in red states.

Or to put it another way, Obama is making history, while McCain is history.

So, Matty Boy! How's your crusade against creepy ass Blue Tooth phones going?


Remarkably well, hypothetical question asker, thanks for asking. Everyday, more and more right thinking, common sense Americans are standing up and being counted, saying in a strong unifed voice that wearing a creepy ass blue tooth phone in public is just...

Ah, hell. I'm not running for anything, so I might as well tell the truth. The crusade against creepy ass blue tooth phones is not going well. If it was an epidemic when I first brought it up about a year and a half ago, it's a pandemic now. These mutants are everywhere now. In California, if you want to talk on a cell phone while driving, it has to be a hands free set or you can be fined, so there is a use of creepy ass blue tooth I am not completely against, but really, do you people have to wear these things every waking minute?

While I admit that I'm fighting a losing battle currently, I have dug in at a new line I believe we can defend.

No cyborgs at the dinner table. When you sit down to eat, the damn things come off. No exceptions.

My fondest wish is that it's a fad that will fade, but I don't hold out that much hope.

Sigh.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hitting the politics and football metaphor one more time.



I've been looking at football statistics since I was in high school, which is a hella long time ago. My website Unified Football Theory is my attempt to make sense of what I've gleaned from years of research, though it is still a work in progress.

What I know is that no statistical measurement now used does a very good job of predicting the winner of the game, except for the obvious measure of who scores the most points. Back in high school, when I started this quest with rudimentary understanding of math, my friend Andy Reid and I realized that one of the worst predictors was what the commentators would sometimes call "the all-important time of possession", which we changed to "the unimportant time of possession". It's certainly useful sometimes, but often games are won by teams that score quickly, especially on returns of punts or kickoffs or fumbles or interceptions, and those plays add points to the board and nothing to an offensive squad's time of possession numbers.

A few weeks ago I had a post about quarterbacks and presidents, that some presidents get more credit and more blame than they deserve quite often for the economy under their watch, but that Bush's push for low interest rates and massive increases in home ownership when we have had a negative savings rate for many years means he deserves to wear the goat horns in my book. Let's stretch the metaphor to the campaign, shall we?

What is Obama's strategy? Simply enough, it's the word change. He called dibs two years ago, and it was a Number One Pick in the draft, with a good chance of becoming the Super Bowl MVP, now that the campaign is late in the fourth quarter. It's such a good strategy, John McCain has an ad out right now where he looks into the camera and says, "The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they?"

Dude, that's not a campaign ad. That's a concession speech.


There are some people who think the McCain campaign has no strategy, just tactics, but I see a pattern in the tactics, and I will call it time of possession. McCain whined before the Republican Convention about how much press Obama was getting, and how most of it was favorable. He called Obama "a celebrity" and made it look like the ability to draw large crowds was a weakness and a sign of lack of seriousness.

Then, after Obama's speech in Denver where he filled a football stadium with supporters, the McCain strategy for the final two months became clear. Every day, the McCain campaign has tried to dominate the 24-hour news cycle. It's all about throwing stuff out and hoping something sticks. They don't even care about most of this stuff, but they keep throwing and praying. Some things turns out to be duds, or some have even blown up in their face in the 24-hour news cycle after they are introduced. Dominate the next 24 hours is their only goal. Have the press discuss the topic the campaign wants to discuss.

Sarah Palin. Lipstick on pit bulls. Lipstick on pigs. William Ayers. Joe the Plumber. Suspending the campaign. ACORN. John Lewis. Anything but the real issues and anything but the trend and mood of the electorate.

Because the trend is very, very bad for the Republicans right now. Again, as a gambler, I must warn anyone reading this to NOT CELEBRATE EARLY. For any football fans, I think the phrase 1993 Oiler-Bills playoff game will get my point across, and there's a link for those unclear on the concept.

So that's the Republican strategy, time of possession. It doesn't always work, especially if you do it as badly as they have so far, but it does at least qualify as a strategy.

Friday non-random 1

I was born by the river, in a little tent,
And just like that river, I've been runnin' every since.

I don't usually link songs to moments in my life. Some people remember the song playing when they met their first sweetheart and such, but that isn't me. There is one notable exception.

I was riding in a car with some people I knew a little bit when the DJ reported that Sam Cooke was dead. The DJ then played this record, A Change Is Gonna Come, which Sam Cooke wrote as well as performed, the first time I ever heard it. I wept uncontrollably in front of these almost strangers.


Without further ado, Mr. Sam Cooke and his posthumous hit, A Change Is Gonna Come.



Oh, yes it will.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Consult your doctor...


To see if Transformix is right for you.

Photo taken at last night's debate. As Princess Sparkle Pony has already told us, UNBELIEVABLY NOT PHOTOSHOPPED.

The answer to my prayers!

Money's a little tight for me right now, and finding extra work could be a problem in this economy, so think of how incredibly fortunate I am that I got this e-mail, not in my spam folder but in the good old regular e-mail inbox.

CONGRATULATIONS

Dear Winner,Your Email Id have won you $1,000,000,00USD in the Microsoft Global Lottery held on the 15th October 2008.
For claims contact our fiduciary agent Rev Greg Thompson with your contact information:

FULL NAME:
FULL CONTACT ADDRESS:
TELEPHONE:
AGE:
OCCUPATION:


Regard's
Miss Susan Smith
Copyright © microsoft 2008.

Program Warning!!! Fraudulent emails are circulating that appears to be
impersonator using our names and addresses, but are not from the
MICROSOFT LOTTERY ONLINE PROGRAM PLEASE REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO CUSTOMER CARE/COMPLAINTS DEPT:

My favorite parts of this message, other than the fact that I now have $1,000,000,00USD that I didn't have yesterday, are that Miss Susan Smith sends her "Regard's" and that the fiduciary agent for the Microsoft Lottery is the REVEREND Greg Thompson. I mean, if the guy running the Microsoft Lottery is a reverend, it must be on the up and up.

The e-mail comes not from Washington state, but from the University of Indonesia. Well, that makes sense. I mean, leave it to Microsoft to outsource their lottery department, right? And you wouldn't want to advertise that you have a lottery department, would you? You might get a lot of unwanted e-mails, both from desperate job seekers and possibly fraudulent entities offering you untold wealth for no work at all.

When the check arrives, I promise to show y'all an electronic facsimile of it. Until such time, I'll probably put off shopping for the Lexus.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Excuse me, Senator Interrupt-y!


Were you raised by wolves?

What was your mother like?

When somebody is talking, whether it's Obama or Bob Schiffer, SHUT YOUR FUCKING CANCER RIDDEN FACE!

I was raised by a very nice mom, but that's as nice as I can be right now.

Your party is the last eight years. Your campaign is run by Bush campaign people or their proteges. You are no help.

Please go away. And do it quietly.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Math, Vol. 43: The four dimensional cube

In math, dealing with more than three dimensions is relatively simple. A point in two dimensions is simply (x, y), two coordinates, one for left-right and one for up-down. For three dimensions, we add a coordinate (x, y, z), and the z coordinate can be thought of as forward-backward, a direction perpendicular to both our first two coordinates. We can't see any direction that is perpendicular to all three of our physical dimensions, but that doesn't stop mathematicians from blithely adding another coordinate (x, y, z, t). In Einstein's spacetime, t would be time and the two directions would be past and future. But there are other concepts of a fourth dimension as well, and although we have a hard time seeing a fourth perpendicular, the math of it is fairly straightforward.

Here is the method for building a four dimensional cube, known as a hypercube or a tesseract. They are fun to draw and kind of pretty if done carefully.

We start in zero dimensions. Zero dimensions is a single dot, which should have no height or width. In all the constructions of this nature, the zero dimensional thing is a dot.



To make a one dimensional cube, we take two zero dimensional cubes, two dots, and connect them with a line segment.







We follow the same pattern to make the two dimensional cube, which is better known as a square. We take two one dimensional cubes, and connect points to the corresponding points on the other one dimensional cube. When we went from zero to one, we didn't have to worry about "corresponding", since there was only one point on each.



And now we have the three dimensional cube, the thing we just call a cube. (In the 2-D world of The Simpsons, it is named a frinkahedron, named after the scientist Professor Frink, since it is a bizarre and imaginary thing only understood by poindexters.) Two 2-D cubes are connected to each other point by point.

So now we see the pattern, somehow we will have two 3-D cubes in four dimensions and connect corresponding points to make a hypercube.


When teaching this to kids, or to adults who think like kids, it's useful to have graph paper.

The first step is to put points on a 6x6 grid as shown at the left. Every point has four other points that when taken toegther make the corners of a 2x1 rectangle, which reminds me of how a knight moves in chess, two up and one over. These are the points we connect to one another, and this creates two cubes linked together. If you take any point in the picture, and pick any three out of four colors, with a little concentration you'll be able to see the cube that is made out of lines of that color. For me, it's easiest to see the red-blue squares, and I can pick either pink or beige to see the cubes, and the unchosen color is the connector color to the other cube made up of the chosen colors.

Rainy day fun time, and it's not even raining!