Monday, November 27, 2006


I thought I invented a word today. Apparently not (#2). Well had I, it would mean:
Snortle (v)- a snorted chortle.
Although defined a chortle that way from the get-go, I do not find sound basis for such a liberal definition.

ION (in Other News) a first for me, impressing RFS (Random friendly Stranger) by association to Herbert Hauptman. To all those NS (Nay Sayers), ha! Random mathematicians/crystallographers do carry currency!

Also, kudos to NPR. When they say, "Go to to find out more." they really mean it. Linking to arXiv would be about all the More one could ask for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I found this on Facebook today. What a wonderful insight.
Reg=Ministry of Love
posted by a William Clark. It is the Ministry of Love, isn't it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Milton Friedman passed away today. He was 94. There are many jokes which can be made about free lunches and optimizing markets. I will not make any.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Thumpin'

What constitutes a thumpin'? According to Pres. Bush today:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You just described the election results as a "thumping."
THE PRESIDENT: I said the cumulative -- make sure -- who do you write for?
Q The New York Times, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, yes, that's right. (Laughter.) Let's make sure we get it -- the facts. I said that the elections were close; the cumulative effect --
Q Is a thumping.
THE PRESIDENT: -- thumping. (Laughter.)
I will, for the moment, have to respectfully disagree with the President. My dispute with Mr. President lies in my hypothesis that elections tend towards the mean. That is to say that people like close elections, and when polls spread candidates too far apart, you will generally see a correction of sorts. Generally. That being said I do not believe that given a long enough X(time) the curves will intersect. There seem to be districts which poll very close, but have a very large lean towards one party over the other. That is not to say that a heavily Democrat district will ever swing red, but it might correct itself so as not to thump one candidate over the other.

That being said, the President's remarks seem to indicate a different view on election results, some sort of randomness. Let's say, for the moment, that in the contested races the average victory was +/-2% which we can approximate to an equal likelihood for either candidate to win, given enough events. When the President said that, "Look, this was a close election. If you look at race by race, it was close. The cumulative effect, however, was not too close. It was a thumping." What he must have been saying was that every race was close, but given the number of events, which are in themselves 50/50, we just saw a run of one particular outcome. It's like flipping a coin 1000 times and getting 8 heads in a row; it does not mean that your coin or probability is broken.

But the President conceded in his remarks that the electorate was sending a message, which means that the aggregate effect was related to the individual events. It only appeared close because of the hypothesis I stated above. The President could only be correct if he truly believed the Democrat swing was a random series of events.

Groove pointed out to me that the President might have meant that it was only a small portion of the vote that actually swung the election. 45% are going to vote one way or the other every time, so it is the 10% which actually mattered, and they collectively combined to a large aggregate effect, but that it does not necessarily culminate to a democratic "wave." My answer to this is just that every election is defined by the middle. A thumpin' then must be defined by the context of elections which are fought at the margins. Thus for one party to win the majority of the middle in every election ipso facto constitutes a thumpin'.

Thank you President Bush for using such an awesome word and allowing me to write this post about thumpins'.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Figuring that Tom Toles was originally from Buffalo, Norwood's kick must go through his mind when he sketches this stuff.

Two great cartoons for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just Kidding

Apparently, Thomas Jefferson should have penned, "We hold these truths to be self evident...most of the time, but some times, when we think its a good idea, they're not so evident."
I was just reading through the text of S. 3930 otherwise sited as the "Military Commissions Act of 2006" when I came across the article §948b(g) which stipulates that
18 ant subject to trial by military commission under this
19 chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source
20 of rights.
...most of the time.
Or as the ever amusing Keith Olberman puts it: Why does Habeas Corpus hate America?

Note: For those with a legal eye in the audience, I am not making a truly legal argument. Yes, I recognize that for instance, the Geneva Conventions are not constitutionally guaranteed. But there is still a discussion to be had regarding these "issues."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Crescat Sententia

Crescat Sententia lives. And although it has changed from a suffix of .org to .net I have full faith that it will retain its impeccable insight despite the move.

But why the move? Because the free market is filled with poopheads. But maybe they are just optimizing the market, what do I know?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another strike against Penn

Clifford Geertz died Tuesday of complications following heart surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He was 80.

Geertz was one of the first texts I read in college that made me go, "Oh, my God, he's right!" I hope heaven is full of Balian cockfights, for your sake.