Showing posts from 2010

Wesley Clark: "No Problem with Invading Afghanistan"

General Wesley Clark, of the Afghanistan war: "I was one of the ones that said we should go to Afghanistan - I never had a problem with that."
Is his claim accurate?  It seems incredible to me that Clark believes there is "no problem" if the U.S. orders military invasion of country that is not a threat, on the pretext it "refused to hand over Osama bin Laden" when ordered to do so by the leader of another country.  The government of Afghanistan was even told they would be given no evidence of anything: no evidence Osama bin Laden was implicated in any crime, no evidence he was ever located in Afghanistan - but they were threatened.
Surely Gen. Clark knows this is illegal and immoral behavior...How could he not?

Dan Choi's Response to Mattilda Bernstein's Criticism

In this interview regarding the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, Mattilda Bernstein claims it is ridiculous to improve access (of LGBT people) to a monstrous, out of control threat to world stability which murders on an industrial scale.  Bernstein rightly added that this killing and destruction is overwhelmingly for the benefit of corporate profiteers, the politicians they purchase, and maintaining the systems supporting their power. West Point graduate Dan Choi argued that LGBT equality would provide greater credibility for an argument against militarism, since currently the system discriminates, undermining any greater question of militarism's morality, and making such questions moot by critics like Bernstein. 
I tend to think that the defect in Choi's response might be more apparent if we apply this argument to a well understood historical example with which most Americans are familiar.

If we were living in the antebellum South, an…

Review of Complexity Theory and Project Management by Drs. Curlee & Gordon

As a systems analyst, project manager and feral philosopher of science over the past 20+ years, I’ve followed the exciting developments which are now considered foundations of complexity theory.  I had the good fortune to work at IBM during Benoit Mandelbrot’s last years there.  Mandelbrot, the inventor of fractal geometry and the Mandelbrot Set, died last month after an astounding life.  Underlying chaos theory and complex systems ideas, Mandelbrot’s discoveries are well recognized to have incredibly broad application, but to me one of the most revealing realizations of his work is the relationship between the standards and methods of measurement selected, and the results obtained relative to natural structures.
Complexity theory, which could not have been developed without such concepts, deals with complex systems which come in three types: non-linear systems, chaotic, and complex adaptive.  Complexity theory evolved largely in an effort to explain recognizable structures and predict…

Radiografia de una mentira (X-Ray of a Lie)

I just recently became aware of a film titled "Radiografia de una mentira", or "X-ray of a Lie" in English.  "Radiografia" claims to summarize the results and conclusions of a debate held regarding the "distorted version" of  facts presented by the film "The Revolution will not be Televised".  The focus and purpose of the debate: "to unravel the mechanisms of such manipulations." Although my experience with Spanish is insufficient to assess nuances of meaning, the English subtitles and much of the video clips indict the film as grossly incompetent in presenting its case, at best.  Crowd estimates do not appear supported by the videos, Chavez' resignation during a coup and while under military siege is called "voluntary", while the self-declared president (usurper?) was "forced" to resign when the lawful government was being restored.  No mention is made that Chavez was taken prisoner (or perhaps hostag…

How does one vote when insanity rules?

...not that candidates supported by MoveOn provide an alternative to state-corporatism...
The two men attacking this woman are Rand Paul campaign officials/organizers, sure to be dropped for getting caught - with predictable claims being that "violence cannot be tolerated" by national leadership, whereas the grassroots militants and perpetrators will claim that they had no choice and in fact, that they showed great restraint.  The attackers will feel indignant at any criticism, since they didn't do anything like rape and kill her, and only were trying to protect Paul.  Frightening in itself and its universal consistency, this reflex of human cognition shows how tremendously difficult it is for us to view our own actions objectively.  In contrast, what about Rand Paul political leadership's claims and thinking?
Their reflex responses will be more insidious and Machiavellian than frighteningly stupid, biased, and violent.  If the upcoming pacifist claims from leadership …

US Wrestling Federation SmackOut

Are You Ready to RUUUUUMBLE?
U.S. Election day is almost here, and proud Americans are able to participate in that most precious right: the right to choose their government officials.  Presented as consumer products by advertising agencies, the electorate is carefully manipulated by disinformation propaganda toward emotional confidence in one candidate or party, and emotional aversions to opponents.  Religion, which makes a virtue out of ignoring evidence, is an excellent way to get a large percentage of people to shut off their logical thinking, and we see God frequently invoked. Admittedly, monotheism was a great advance in understanding reality at the end of the stone age, but now?   It makes some of us wonder about whether we are smart enough as a species to survive much longer…as our entertainment, religions, and political rituals demonstrate; But it's no use whining - perhaps we should just wade into it:
In this corner, weighing in at billions of dollars and backed by business…

Jesus: Communist Pirate

Jesus, that radical Marxist and his wandering commune of disciples and other followers who violated every reasonable principle of free market economics, shared what they had with each other in the belief that turning their backs on capitalist profit would lead to something good. When Jesus gained access to some bread and fish without paying a dime... He used his talents to lure new recruits and bribe current followers with free food by "multiplying" the original fishes and loaves to which he had no property rights... We might note that while the short term results did not serve these utopian do-gooders very well, they were somewhat good for the imperial entertainment industry, providing crucifixion billboards, and the wildly profitable "Arena Survivor", and "The Weakest Luke" spectacles where a panel of lions "voted" contestants to shuffle off this mortal coil.
The unwary may ask: "What's the harm in freely sharing with others?" To res…

Trohan's Bombshell

After giving a presentation on professional ethics and the need for scientists and project managers to be particularly responsible for following the "Do no harm" doctrine, I was approached by several attendees justifying the participation of project managers in the planning, design, production, and use of weapons of mass destruction.  I had used as an example the ultimate WMD, (currently: nuclear weapons) as the sort of development in which ethical project managers and scientists must not participate.
Sponsored at the University of Texas at Dallas, which gains heavy financial support from large military corporations (e.g.: Texas Instruments, Raytheon) It was no surprise that several attendees challenged me after the talk, claiming that the U.S. is a uniquely noble nation, and that incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians in Japan with 2 nuclear bombs was the morally correct and right thing to do.  The justification given was a standard "more lives were saved"…

Another SC2 Gripe

The other day, I lost my net connection, (not tremendously unusual when we have bad weather), and I received this message:
As advertised, SC2 is supposed to be able to run without a BN connection once the owner of the game has registered it.    I decided to play some of the single player scenarios in the meantime while waiting for my network access to resume.  See below what happens when the user click's the button for "Play Offline"...

SC "forgot" that I had authorized it and been playing for weeks with a SC2 character.  It now stupidly demands "authorization" to use software for which I've paid.
Activision has made conflicting statements about the reasons for these harsh, totalitarian-seeming requirements - such as that it is and is not primarily to prevent sharing the software with friends, which they call "piracy".  In other words: your Grandma was evil when she told you that we should share with others, especially those who have…

You Can't Argue...

...with religious belief.  Like the clinically deluded, the faithful will say almost anything to maintain their illusion, but pathological delusion is defined as a concept or value held with certainty that is not credible, that is: based on expert, accurate information. Neutral, average people might understandably regard belief in supernatural beings with superior intelligence and magical abilities to intervene in natural reality as qualifying under such a definition.
The "nice" people of faith try to say that militants "misinterpret" holy texts.  They claim: "our holy books teach peace", which like all lies is technically true, but completely misleading.  Hitler loved he teaches love?
What religious apologists for the "nice" religion cannot do is point to a single instruction in their holy books that says how one is to interpret either conflicting commands about what the monotheistic deity wants, or clear commands to commit violence,…

Can't Help But See Democrats vs. Republicans, Commies vs. Capitalists, etc.


Initail Impressions of StarCraft 2

To me, SC has always been about the multiplayer experience, since the computer AI really rewarded cautious defense in the past, (a tradition continued in SC2) and the comp never showed or shows the tactical creativity of human opponents. Like many chess programs, (including good ones) it trains players to develop bad habits which would not work in "real" games. Thus, my focus has been on the multiplayer, which now I have actually stopped playing. Why? In trying to develop good Protoss tactics, (I had over 10k wins on the old BN with that race) I lost about 20 matches in a row to Terran Reaper rushes merely in the practice league. I tried static and mobile defense (Z's, Stalkers), rush attacks, and the only response on the boards appears to be early probe scouting which is not possible on maps with obstruction that are in the practice league maps.
It might be possible to test some strategies in the regular league, but if the player tries to skip practice for …

Piracy of the New StarCraft II

I just read a review by Matt Peckham mentioning the lack of free "pirated" versions of the long-anticipated game, StarCraft II, which he sums up as: "PC gaming 1, pirates 0".  In his view, "PC gaming" is pitted against players who want to play, but are resistant to being forced to pay $60 or more, in advance, to a secretive corporation, which is part of an even more secretive, corporate, profit-maximizing conglomerate.
Matt's framing of the issue is typical in the business world: profits and abstractions like "gaming" are what matter, not people like gamers.  The largely unspoken assumption in business is that people buy the better product and the maker of that will profit from producing improvements which people want.

In graduate business schools, students are drilled for years on macro economics scenarios and problems which embed the idea that "What is good for GDP is good for the economy, and what is good for the economy is good for p…

Saber Tooth Peacock Hypothesis

Didn't the T-Rex give us any lessons?  Once thought to be primarily a hunter, it is now considered mostly a scavenger.  Now comes a new analysis of the Sabre-Tooth Tiger suggesting the primary use of beefy forelimbs developed to assist in restraining struggling prey.
It strikes me that it would be much more likely for the saber-tooth to use it's powerful forelegs and fangs for, respectively and primarily, fighting and threat displays isn't it? 
After investing all those calories in growing gigantic teeth, why spend even more hauling big forelimbs at high acceleration in hunting chases when scaring off smaller predators who actually conducted the kill would be so much more efficient?  The primary source of calories for similar big cats in Africa today is via this method after smaller cats like hyenas "bring home the bacon". 
If truly effective for hunting, large teeth such as those of the sabre-tooth and powerful forelimbs would seem best suited only for quick ambus…

Science and Magic 001

Science is classically defined as both a method for investigation and a body of knowledge or "facts" revealed by a certain method of inquiry.  Perhaps more fundamentally, both of these can be considered a collection of stories with unique characteristics which distinguish science from other narratives.  After having seen the sun come up every morning in the east and travel across the sky, we've all heard the story that this is a sleight of hand on a cosmic scale with a gigantic Earth slowly turning our point of view.  The story goes: after a colossal burst of energy a zillion years ago, gigantic collection of rocks accumulated, tiny bits of life arose and mistook themselves for the center of everything, until Copernicus claimed the Earth moved and rotated, and over the next few hundred years, that story became the most popular.
In the western, European tradition we like to mock "flat-Earthers" who believe(d) that the Earth was flat, but this would overlook the p…

Star Trek by the Minute 117: My Honor, Commander

"Bones!" says Kirk, slapping his Chief Medical Officer: "Buckle up!"  McCoy rolls his eyes.  Kirk sits in the Captain's chair and calls engineering, "Scotty, How we doin?"  Does ANY ship actually require verbally checking with personnel in engineering in to determine operational status?  Would the Flight Director at NASA actually need to contact a launchpad engineer to make certain the rocket was fueled, or would fuel status be automatically visible in Mission Control?
"Dilithium chambers at maximum, Captain," replies the Chief Engineer, who then turns to Deep Roy and yells "Get down!"  The obvious question regarding Scott's report is: how does a "chamber" vary from maximum to minimum?  I suppose if one knows very little of "Treknology", one might think dilithium is a fuel, like diesel or gasoline, in which case this report would make sense, like saying (of a car) "The tank is full."  Although trekn…