Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Friday, 3 December 2004 at 2h 32m 19s|
Today's daily philosophical ramble
These days we live in a world of an arrogant and powerful aristocracy. There
are plenty of fawning followers who collectively make cconsiderably less money
than any ten of the dominant families. There are plenty of the less than
powerful who still hope for fame, wealth, or power but are content to merely
get by day after day. Sometimes power is obtained through psychological means,
whereby one person guilt-trips another, knowing there is line of control in
that small special domain. Wealth by itself is not necessarily the creator of
a baneful mentality, much as fame does not necessarily accrue to those who are
truly talented nor to those who strive -- although the loudspeakers of
corporate media do tend to fawn over those who are willing to inflate
themselves like bouncing balloons for the national cameras.
No it seems that mentalities are randomly dispersed among the panorama of
wealth and power. There are massive accumulations of interacting members of
the rich and powerful, but this is merely because those who are willing to
strive and sacrifice their integrity will tend to fill the ranks of the rich
and powerful, unless they are there by birth. Of course there are countless
exceptions, but the exceptions do not defy the averages. This is the inherent
state of mankind at this stage of population growth. This is the result of a
world in which anonymous people perform tasks and control aspects of life and
society in total ignorance of the lives of those whom they affect. A certain
perspective of one's rank and position becomes more relevant than the actual
reality of that rank and position, which is the breeding ground for hubris and
|Thursday, 2 December 2004 at 2h 39m 34s|
Steam that consciousness
Sometime in the future you should try this. Don't bother to think
words flow out of your stream of consciousness, and just allow yourself to
ramble. The point is to not care what words you say, and just let yourself
grab whatever words float to your mind.
The amazing thing is that your sub-conscious will innately create something.
Try it. Write down what words come to mind if you care to do so. Once the
mind is allowed to flow like an opened faucet, the mind is automatically
spilling what is quite natural to its existence. This is the idea behind
meditation. Your mind produces thoughts automatically. You don't have to try
to have a thought, because the mere process is itself a thought. What you call
yourself is nothing but a long history of compiled thoughts by which you have
come to understand both yourself and the world in which you exist, albeit
affected by the other phenomenom and people in your immediate environment.
So when you let it rip, the results can be rather interesting, and often
The blue coat was next to a bird which had nothing but songs to sway the abuse
of a hot sun that was the afterthought of some long extravagent winter when
everyone was next to impoverishment in their relationship with the ethos of
-- you see what I mean.
|Thursday, 2 December 2004 at 2h 25m 31s|
That word, socialism, why is it misused?
One thing that really irritates me occurs whenever I
someone of self-proclaimed conservative bent misuse the word "socialist." The
word is usually uttered in the pejorative sense, in order to disembowel
something they dislike by hinting about something akin to a government
bureaucracy . You talk about nationalized health care, and the idea is labeled
as "socialism" or "socialistic."
Honestly however, I don't think such a person really understands what the
word "socialist" means, or what "socialism" is -- and is
not. And what then, could the adjective "socialistic" be, in this already
That's why I think it is high time for a spotlight on definitions.
First, let's go look up the words socialism and socialist in a dictionary.
How about dictionary.reference.com/
1.)Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the
means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a
centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
2.)The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism
and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the
dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.
1.)An advocate of socialism.
2.) A member of a political party or
group that advocates socialism.
3.)Of, promoting, or practicing socialism.
4.)Socialist Of, belonging to, or constituting a
socialist party or political group.
so·cial·is·tic adj. Of,
advocating, or tending toward socialism
The key component here is the first definition, by which
"socialism" is a"social organization in which the means of
producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized
government that often plans and controls the economy. "
How is nationalized health care in anyway related to a centralized
government planning and controling the economy? Here we are just talking about
paying for the medical treatment of all the citizens of the United States with
taxes, sort of like a national insurance premium that pays the medical bills.
The only thing centralized is the bank account where the funds are kept. All
decisions are made by doctors and hospitals across the country. Government
regulators and auditors ensure safety and pursue fraud, not plan or control the
Calling nationalized health care "socialistic" is equally
flawed, because it is not "tending" towards centralized planning.
Local communities make these decisions in conjunction with the hospitals,
doctors, and government officials. This is how America works. People are
invited to discuss what is in the best interest of the community, and decisions
are made. Sometimes this simply makes economic sense. All of us, companies and
businesses and workers and citizens, all of us are held hostage by insurance
companies and the privatization of health care for profit.
If people want to say this is somehow
socialistic, then I think they really only indicate a certain disposition
favoring profit and individualism at the expense of the society as a whole.
People are not fully comprehending the meaning of the words they use. They
are reacting emotionally and using words like a philosophical salve for
|Wednesday, 24 November 2004 at 1h 33m 2s|
Martha Stewart, the scapegoat for herr Bush
One of the students in my 6th period class mentioned the name of Martha Stewart
when I was presenting them a problem involving 2 investments in securities.
Two unknown amounts of investment A & B purchase 2 types of securities ( 8% and
10%) with the intention of earning $30,000 in yearly interest, and the
restriction that the amount invested in the high risk 10% security is only 1/3
rd of the more stable 8% investment. While the students were copying down the
word problem I explained securities to the students as a contract where you buy
someone's promise to pay you a certain percentage of the investment every year.
So of course in the mind of said student, Martha Stewart was the image that
floated to the top. I think the comment was literally something like "you
mean, like Martha Stewart."
What I find to be a shame concerns how little people understand about why
Martha Stewart was sent prison, and also how ignorant most people are about our
current president's own rich 12-plus-year past as a CEO of three shady oil
In 1990-91, Dubya Bush was a chairperson of the finance board of Harken
Energy. During his duration at Harken, Dubya was privy to the various economic
shenanigans that came to be "Enron-esque" and "Anderson-like" in the financial
scandals summer of 2002. In order to conceal its losses, in 1989 ( attribution )
"The company's executives decided to sell Aloha Petroleum Ltd., a chain of
Hawaiian gas stations, for $12 million to a group of investors that included
Harken's chair and one of its directors. These Harken officials paid $1 million
in cash and gave Harken an $11 million IOU for Aloha, a transaction known as a
seller-financed loan. Although there were no payments scheduled on the loan for
years to come, the company — in an Enronesque move — posted a $7.9 million
current profit on the sale. "
Now Bush was a member of the finance committee, so either Bush knew, he wasn't
at the meeting, or he was absent -- but these were the years when Dubya was
supposed to have been a born again sober man.
You can consult the same site to learn about how Dubya himself was involved in
an insider trading deal.
In 1986, Bush borrowed approximately $96,000 from Harken to purchase 80,000
shares of Harken stock. This loan was part of a generous stock option program
that was available only to the corporate brass. Harken did not require
repayment on the principal for eight years and charged Bush only five percent
annual interest, well below the then-prevailing prime rate of 7.5 percent. You
probably could never secure such terms for your home mortgage or any other
loan. To secure the loan, Bush pledged the 212,000 shares of Harken he already
owned, in addition to the 80,000 shares he purchased. In 1988, Bush borrowed
another $84,000 from Harken to purchase an additional 25,000 shares of Harken
stock on similarly favorable terms.
In 1989, according to the New York Times, Harken released the original 212,000
shares as collateral from the 1986 loan and removed "any personal liability to
[Bush]" on that loan. So if the value of the 80,000 shares dropped to less than
the amount of the loan, Bush would not lose a dime, since all he had to do was
return the collateral — the 80,000 Harken shares he had purchased. Indeed, Bush
later returned the stock he had acquired through the insider loans, whereupon
Harken cancelled the indebtedness....
What exactly was the problem with Bush's sale of Harken stock?
The controversy centered around the fact that he sold the stock shortly before
the company announced major losses; after that announcement, the stock's value
dropped by more than half. Here is the chronology according to various reports:
June 6, 1990: Bush (who was at the time on Harken's board and a member
of its audit committee) received the company's "flash report," which according
to the Washington Post, predicted second quarter losses in the neighborhood of
June 8, 1990: According to the Los Angeles Times, Ralph Smith, a
stockbroker, placed a "cold call" to Bush offering to purchase his Harken
shares. Bush said he would reply within a couple of weeks.
June 11, 1990: Bush attended a meeting at which a representative of
Harken's audit firm, Arthur Andersen, warned of a loss that "could be
potentially significant." Although no amount was specified in the meeting, the
auditors indicated that the losses would surpass the $4 million forecast in
the "flash report." (In fact, Harken would ultimately report a loss of $23
June 22, 1990: Shortly after getting the transaction approved by
Harken's lawyers, Bush sold 212,140 of his 317,152 Harken shares for $848,560.
July 10, 1990: Under SEC requirements, this was the deadline for Bush to
publicly report his sale of the stock. He failed to file the report until March
of 1991. For reasons Bush has not explained, although he signed the form, he
did not date it.
August 20, 1990: Harken publicly announced second quarter losses of just
over $23 million. The stock, which had opened at $3 per share, closed at $2.37.
August 21, 1990: Despite the losses reported the day before, Harken's
stock price rebounded to $3 per share. However, the overall trend was
downwards, and by the end of 1990 Harken's share price had dropped to $1.
(Today, Harken's stock trades for about the price of a candy bar on the
American Stock Exchange.)
Bush was investigated by the SEC, but was handled with kid gloves. The final
report did not however exonerate Bush, despite his false claims that he
was "vetted." The final SEC report on the transaction merely notes a close to
the examination, and explicitly states that "it should not be construed" as a
statement that no wrongdoing took place. The SEC just stopped investigating.
Dubya's daddy was president at the time, and it was already bad enough that
Herbert Walker's other son Neil Bush was running away from a bank scandal
involving illegal loans at Silverado bank in Colorado. It was bad for the
party to have that kind of publicity.
So wait, Bush was a member of the CEO, with stock essentially given to him by
What about Martha Stewart? What did she do? One of my students asked me that
question, because the name Martha Stewart may be known, but not the details.
Martha Stewart sold 4,000 shares (not 212,140, a la Bush) on ImClone stock
based on a tip from a friend that the company was tanking. She only owned the
stock. She was not a member of the board, and so, unlike Bush, she did not
participate in the day to day financial operations of the company. No one
loaned her the stock. She was an independent investor, not an inside trader,
because she was not on the inside. Someone passed on a tip.
Interestingly enough, Martha Stewart was not even sent to prison for a year for
insider trading. ( from the
Cato Institute )
James Comey, the federal prosecutor behind the Stewart case, says he went after
Stewart "not because of who she is but because of what she did." But that's
hard to believe given the audacious legal theory Comey used to pursue her.
Comey didn't charge Stewart with insider trading. Instead, he claimed that
Stewart's public protestations of innocence were designed to prop up the stock
price of her own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and thus constituted
securities fraud. Stewart was also charged with making false statements to
federal officials investigating the insider trading charge -- a charge they
never pursued. In essence, Stewart was prosecuted for "having misled people by
denying having committed a crime with which she was not charged," as Cato
Institute Senior Fellow Alan Reynolds put it.
Did you get that? This is called burning the barn down so people won't notice
the burglars in the main house.
|Tuesday, 23 November 2004 at 2h 39m 40s|
The invasion to depose a despot in perspective
So how many places on planet Earth is the US military not located? Whether as
advisors, military base hands, or actively involved in brigades or regiments,
the US military is on every continent and every ocean of the Earth. The
French, Spanish, British, Portuguese, and Dutch all had "possessions" across
the globe. Britain, France, and the other European powers certainly carved up
Africa into slices and pieces of political ownership over a period of two or
300 years. The customary method of rule was to appoint local dictators or
strongmen supported by military police, but their were notable exceptions.
Africa since the colonial revolutions of the 1960's has been a sea of military
dictatorships, coup d'etats, and civil wars largely because of the way the
military history of the colonial era.
So why do we think a military solution will bring democracy now, while we try
to snuff out those scurrilous "insurgents" in Iraq? When the war is over, the
need to continue the use of the military means the war is not really over.
However, lets briefly analyze the history the last couple of wars.
In Persian Gulf War number one in 1991, when the US coalition pulled out,
Saddam was allowed to fly military helicopters fly over rioting Shiite and
Kurdish cities and kill the "insurgents." The war was officially over, but
the quelling of the populace was not, and thus the fight between the government
and the "insurgents" continued.
The 9 year Iran and Iraq war in the 1980s was never more than a bloody
stalemate that drained the resources and populations of both. The United
States decided to supply military weapons and biological weapons to Saddam in
hopes that he could agree to a pipeline to the Mediterranean. Members of the
Reagan administration were also making deals with the Iranians, selling them
arms and then siphoning off the funds into the drug market to raise funds that
were supplying the Nicaraguan contras. The Contras were paramilitary squads
trained at the school of the Americas in South Carolina. These were operatives
who assassinated nuns and priests because of their political involvement. They
would pose as ordinary citizens and wiggle their way into the bureaucracy. And
they were trained in South Carolina to do this in Nicaragua.
But Nicaragua was communist. Daniel Ortega became President after the horrible
dictatorship of Bautista as a member of the communist party.
But I veer off course. All these wars or military political involvement had a
beginning and an end. We are not fighting insurgents in Iraq because we
necessarily want a free Iraq. We are killing those people because we do not
intend to leave until Iraq has a government that we want. We got involved on
both sides of the Iran-Iraq war because it was in our best interest that the 2
nations fight each other. Don't be so naive if you think otherwise. The
members of the Reagan administration didn't like the government of Daniel
Ortega, and was willing to fund internal "insurgents" to destabalize the
Now if you take the tack that we were fighting "communism" or justifying our
involvement because we were ensuring freedom, those ideals are quite nobel and
you should be commended. They are not the results however of our involvement.
Daniel Ortega was a native historical figure responding to a historical event
in the wake of the fall of the Nicaraguan Baustista dictatorship. He is like a
Robert E. Lee rising to the occassion, except the American civil war was more
militaristic. What would Americans think if Britain invaded our country
because Lincoln won the Civil war, or if London trained and supplied guerrilla
units in the five years after 1865?
Can we really be so blinded by patriotism that we cannot see the hypocrisy?
Vietnam? when did it start? when did it end? The Vietnamese rose up against
the French after World War 2. The US gradually go involved since the mid-
1950s, getting to the peak of 1968 when "over half a million US soldiers were
deployed and US casualties ran at over 1,000 a week." (attribution) The
war never really ended, but rather gradually disentegrated as the South
Vietnamese were slowly left to implode into abject corruption from 1973, until
Saigon was overrun by North Vietnamese tanks in 1975.
After the Korean War, a fortefied barbed wire wall divided the country into 2
waring camps and 2 divergent economic systems. Once again, the response was of
native origin. It is arguable that the post-war boom in the South Korean would
not have happened had the Northern Communists not been beaten back by the
American troops. But now we have a country brutally divided for 50 years, and
no solution in sight. There are still 37,000 US troops stationed at bases in
To discover more about US troop deployment from 1950 to 2003, see the report by
the Heritage foundation here.
To read about the American military bases around the world, see the military's
own center here. At this time there are a lot less than there
used to be in the 1980s during the Reagan military buildup. The First Bush
administration and the Clinton trimmed the number of bases in the world, to
reduce costs and become more efficient.
The United States began obtaining bases when Hawaii was annexxed and the
Spanish-American War enabled the United States to form protectorates over the
Phillipines and Cuba. The civil war in the Phillipines against the American
soldiers were still killing American soldiers until 1914 or so, even though
the "splendid little war" (as it was called at the time) putatively ended after
only 3 months, when Spain surrendered. Yet in both Cuba and the Philipines,
both overthrew dictatorships created and abetted by the United States.
So what exactly is the history of United States involvement in the affairs of
other nations, save Germany and Japan ? In both those nations, we maintained
troops peacefully after the armistice to World War Two was signed. Yet both
nations had already created a native republican type government, albeit both
were hijacked by nationalist rulers bent upon using the military in pursuit of
global conquest. These is not a comparable examples. The armistice was signed
by distinct representative of 2 nations.
We are not repeating the noble creations of post-war Germany and Japan. We are
not fending off a Northern military from taking over the south. We are not
even kicking the butt of a weak European power, so that we can takeover and
promote the government of our choosing. We went in and took out the dictator
whom only 15 years earlier we supported while pursuing our national strategy of
foreign policy. We didn't support an internal milita to have a coup d'etat,
which has been done before by many nations.
We just did what Stalin did after World War Two, sending into East Europe to
ensure the political leadership of post-war Europe; or what Japan did in
Manchuria; or what Caesar did in Gaul. All the reasons were noble, yet
essentially militaristic. The security of the invading nation was at risk.
Those Eastern European nations could cause Russia to disentegrate into ethnic
pieces (as was eventually the case.) Japan could not have an unfriendly
Manchuria on its borders, and needed reassurance. And the Romans could not
afford a fiesty independent-minded Gaul on their Northern perimeter, and thus
they must be bludgeoned into submission.
Or perhaps the Hapsburgs battling the patriots of the Netherlands in the 1600s
would be a good analogy? The armies of the emperor invaded Holland and deposed
the government, because of the heresay of the protestant religion rising up and
creating a Republican monarchy.
If the issue is terrorism, it seems to me that there are better ways of
fighting and corraling the ability of terrorist groups to function. If the
issue is about oil, the invasion to secure the oil contracts is a poor response
to a problem that can only be handled effectively with conservation and
alternative energy sources.
|Friday, 19 November 2004 at 2h 17m 2s|
Killing them all
There was (or is) a group of tribes somewhere in New Guinea that had an odd
cultural ritual which occurred every 100 or so years, once the tribal
population outgrew the ability of the terrain to maintain their pig livestock.
After 2 or 3 generations the number of pigs that have to be maintained
gradually erodes the surface vegetation of the ground and the tribes go on the
warpath. There is a bloody war and then the tribes live peacefully again,
albeit with a reduced population.
I got this from an anthropological book I read about 12 years ago. Somewhere
in one of my 9 boxes of books, this one book is sandwiched in between many
other books, waiting for the day when I lift the book on top.
I wish I could remember more details, but the story struck me then, because it
was about the time of the first Iraq war in 1990-91. I was in college at the
time, reacting to the coming war. That was right after ole Herbert Walker Bush
sent the military to grab Manuel Noreiga before he opened his mouth and talked
about who was really behind most of the drug trafficking.
And now twelve years later we are in the midst of a much worse war. Our
military is now killing a lot of people who happen to live in a country that
has a lot of oil that other people want.
Oh don't give me that shit, yes, we are there because of the oil. There is a
dictatorship, or a semi-dictatorship in every hemisphere and every continent.
In North America, more closer to home, there is Cuba, Santo Domingo, Haiti,
Panama, Guatemala, and El Salvador. When we invaded or abetted the coup
d'etats in all of those countries, the goal was NEVER freedom or democracy, but
economic stability and profitability. Back then the motivation to save our
brown brothers was something akin to taking on the "white man's burden" --
having to kill the patriots of other lands in order to install a perceived
But how stable have any of those countries been in the last 100 years?
So don't tell me we are in Iraq because of freedom, or to get rid of dictators,
or anything but yet another in a long line of American invasions whose purpose
is to create economic and political stability. Although the ideology might be
righteous, the end result creates a chaos which renders an inevitable
negotiation about what is called stability. Sometimes you need an iron fist
who can put those insurgent patriots to rest, preferably an inside man who
knows the names and nooks and crannies of the invaded nation. You just pump
this man full of authority and cash, just like Great lords would nominate
princes and vassals in the medieval period circa 900 A.D.
This has already happened in the middle east as the result of American foreign
policy plenty of times over the last 50 years. In 1953, Iran's prime minister
Mohammed Mossadegh was pursuing the cancellation of the oil leases to foreign
companies and he intended to nationalize the oil industry. The history is
somewhat complicated but to make a long story short Mossadegh was eventually
overthrown by the CIA and the Shah of Iran was asserted. Iran created a
legislature in 1906, and "he abolished the multi-party system of government
such that he could rule through a one-party regime in autocratic fashion. The
Shah called into life the secret police force, SAVAK." (from Wikipedia.org
Over 20 years a virile bureaucracy viciously maintained the myth of the royal
Persian kingdom headed by the Shah, that ancient lineage dating back far, far
back to the 1950s when America gave him his crown. The sole resistence
possible was through religion, and it was in response to the brutal regime that
enabled the Ayatollah's to force the regimes collapse.
Would it that the US had just not interferred with Iran? Alas, the number of
countries in the middle east (and Asia, Africa, and South America) that have
been affected by active American foreign agents or funding is enormous.
Saddam was aided by the US and supported in his war versus Iraq during the
1980s. Rumsfeld and the Reagan administration sold Saddam his chemical
weapons. After the gasing of the Kurds incident, nothing was ever said by the
same Republicans who now bellow and holler about gasing his own people.
Cheney and Rumsfeld in particular. During Cheney's reign at Halliburton, he
used subsidiary businesses with addresses in the Bahamas to do business
illegally with both Iran and Iraq.
How can we have this degree of hypocrisy and still insist that we are creating
democracy and bringing freedom to some place halfway around the world?
|Thursday, 18 November 2004 at 4h 36m 28s|
|Thursday, 18 November 2004 at 3h 51m 40s|
Alas, comments about the Election are long overdue
Okay, I suppose it is time that I comment on the last month. Yes I know Bush
won, but is a 60 million versus 54 million really a solid mandate? Is it right
to insist there be no consideration or compromise from 48% of the nation, just
because your side got 51% ?
And yea, the House and Senate stayed in the hands of the Republican party, but
5 of the House seats came from the redistricted Texas congressional
gerrymandering. In case you didn't know, after every census the state
legislatures across the country draw new district lines of their state. So
every 10 years, the state legislatures all meet and divy up the state in a
certain number of districts. This is a partisan process, especially in large
states that have increases in population ( like California or Texas.) Most of
the time the districts are fairly divided along natural geographical or socio-
cultural lines, as would not only be fair but also make sense.
Well Texas couldn't surpass the the partisan divide created by the party of the
bug man Tom Delay and Texas Republicans. A federal judge had to create the new
districts so they could be ready in time for the 2002 elections. When the
Texas Republicans won a majority after the 2002 elections however, they decided
it was time to redistrict the state again. This was an magnificent act. The
changes are supposed to happen only once every 10 years after the census, not
everytime one party gains control of the legislature. But then no one has to
play fair, and since might makes right, the Republicans decided to change the
This was the real story during the summer of 2003, not Kobe Bryant or the
Peterson trial. The democrats howled and filibustered but eventually the vote
had to come. State Troopers even went to the homes of the democratic
legislators to make sure the democrats would drive to the legislature. So the
democrats ran to Oklahoma and New Mexico for most of 2003 to avoid the
necessary minimum number of state legislators to pass legislation. Tom Delay
got homeland security forces to hunt the Democrats down and bring them to
Austin in handcuffs. After a year long struggle however, one of the democratic
legislators broke and showed up at the state legislature, thereby giving the
minimum necessary legislators to enable a vote.
I wish I could make this stuff, but sadly, all of it is true.
Now you might think "so what," but how the lines are drawn are important. Say
that, because of a population increase, two districts have to become three (one
big Democratic district, one Republican district becomes three) If you can
divide up a large democratic block into 3 pieces attached to large blocks of
Republican voters, than you can take 3 Republican seats, and eliminate one
Democratic seat. This is exactly what happened in Texas. If you look at the
map the 2003 Texas Republicans created you will see incredible artistic
renditions of what used to be simple rectangular blocks. There are curves,
strange odd L shapes branching off of rectangles, dumbells, and unnecessary zig-
zags. The reasoning for the map is only understandable once you concede that
the objective was to disenfranchise the democratic vote.
Face it. These people are about grabbing power at any price.
I would also like to comment on the oddities of the votes. I suggest you read
what Stephen Freeman, a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote about the
odd exit polls in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.
Reich-wing media pundits have carped on the whiners about the exit polls. Let
me explain. Exit polls have been used for more than 30 years for state, city,
county, and national elections. Originally they were collected by a company
and sold to marketing companies who wanted to know about the electorate. They
have been used in Germany for more than 30 years to determine who wins the
elections. In Germany, the votes are manually counted by civil servants in
about 2 weeks, but they know who wins based on the results of the exit polls,
and in 30 years the exit polls have never been more than 0.4% off.
NEVER. But lately the exit polls in the US have been off by 2 to 8 percent.
This never used to happen in the United States either until the advent of the
computerized scanners and voting machines.
Now look at the discrepancies between the exit polls and the final vote
provided by the graphic below.
These polls come from 3 "sweeps" of the voters on election day, one in the
morning, one in the middle of the afternoon, and one in the early evening. The
voters are choosen by using a predetermined numerical order (every 5th voter
for 3 voters, then every 7th voter, then every 6th voter, and so on ...) and a
record is kept for each interview slot. Thus if someone refuses to be
interviewed, a record is kept.
Much has been ballyhooed about the ridiculousness of this poll being reliable
on the victor of the Presidential election, but in the same breath the poll is
supposed to be reliable that 22% of the electorate said "moral values" were the
reason the electorate decided to vote. It is true that polls have a margin of
reliabilitycalled a "margin of error." But there are actually two types of
sampling, and they each have differing reliability.
When you sample a population about what they intend to do in the future, or
what they feel about right now, the sample itself is merely indicating that a
percentage of people felt a certain way at a certain time for whatever reason.
We cannot speculate on those reasons, nor can we guarantee that the stated
intentions will occur in the future. Thus a "predictive poll" (an opinion
poll) has a large margin of error, usually about 5%. Predictive polls have
also been known to fail very badly.
Event sampling is much different however. These samples are of events that
have actually taken place, thus the data is constant and will not change. The
samples are small slices of the data that are presumed to have the same ratios
as the real larger population. This kind of sampling has a very small margin
of error, because there are no errors due to misinterpretation or a change in
the future. So long as there is a big enough sample (3000 for a population of
20 million,) the ratios will be less than 0.5% off.
This type of sampling is so extremely accurate that businesses use it to assess
the shipments of inventory they receive. General Electric ships millions of
light bulbs at a time. It would be too costly to inspect every single light
bulb. So the companies use "event sampling" to check if the shipment broke a
lot of light bulbs.
I won't bother you with the sound mathematical reasons for this degree of
accuracy. You can read the Freeman article from the above link. Instead I
will share with you 2 analogies.
Imagine rolling a 3 sided dice. If you roll the dice 3,000 times the ratios
for the choices of 1, 2, and 3 would be 1 to 3, or 33.3%. So each number should
have about 969 to 1029 tallies ( 32.3% to 34.3% .) Now as we know chance is
quite an odd creature, and this type of randomness is really a model for
the "predictive sampling" because what the dice does in the future is quite
unknown. Thus when 38 or 29 percent occurs ( 1140 or 870) there is no
immediate cause for concern.
But "event sampling" again is much different because there is no "unknown
future" about solid accumulations of data. This idea of getting an idea about
the ratio of the data is more akin to a process of finding the average of a
group of numbers. This brings me to my second analogy.
Imagine a box with 1 million marbles, colored either red or blue. Lets say you
closed your eyes, and while grabbing handfulls of marbles you selected only 3
at a time until you grabbed 1,000. This is exactly what an "exit poll" does,
and is a good model of "event sampling." A good sample is about 1/1000 th of
the expected population.
Here is the idea. The number of total possible combinations of 1,000 out of
1,000,000 are very great -- 1,000,000! / ( 1000! 999,000!) for those of you so
mathematically inclined. But the ratio of those combinations that are within
one percent is also quite large, and so the chance that a random group of 1,000
which has a margin of error greater than 2% is extremely rare.
So (according to the correct mathematics sourced by Dr. Freeman's article
above) in the case of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, the chances that the
exit polls differed by 3.5%, 2.6%, and 3.3% respectively, these chances are
0.0008, 0.0028, and 0.0018 that any one shift could occur. The chances that
they would occur together, you would get by multiplying the numbers, which is
the extremely small 0.000000004032 -- the mathematical equivalent of
impossible. This would be like randomly picking the right file out of
248 million. It ain't gonna happen.
Some pundits have blamed the scurrilous poll workers who avidly sought out
Kerry voters, or over sampled women in the early votes. But again since
records of all interviews is kept, this fault in the data is easily detected.
According to the polling organization, the records however did not indicate a
lot of denials. So the myth of Republicans not wanting to answer poll
questions needs to be debunked. Democrats and independents might just as well
deny to be interviewed, but in any event so long as the percentage of denials
is not greater than half a percent, there would be no skewing of the results of
the polls based upon denials.
The ignorant pundits who bellow this red herring do not know anything about the
mathematics involved, or the experience of the professionals who know and
understand polling and how to best select a sample.
There were plenty of other suspicious occurences on election day in New Mexico,
Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Ohio. In Ohio,
Republican lawyers questioned numerous voters on the validity of their
registration and thus piled up 160,000 provisional ballots to be inspected and
counted later by judges and civil servants. Certainly you don't expect
Republican lawyers to delay Republican voters their right to vote. Long lines
created by these tactics and insufficient machines, caused voters to wait 2, 3,
4, 5, 6, and sometimes 8 hours in order to vote. At the University of Ohio,
only 2 voting machines were available for a student population of 10,000.
Thus, the votes that didn't occur because of inconvenience is in itself a
manner of disenfranchisement. In New Mexico, poor spanish voters were given
Provisional ballots at every opportunity. Keep in mind these Provisional
ballots were created by the "Help America Vote Act" of 2002 have no solid legal
guarantee of being counted. The act is purposefully ambiguous.
A state must have a system to determine whether to count each provisional
ballot cast. While the precise details are not set out, the decision to count
or not count an individual ballot must be made “in accordance with State law.”
to read more about the "Help America Vote Act."
So, well, yea President Bush won. But this is like saying that after a 4
quarter football game that went into double overtime, your team won by kicking
a field goal. And what if the other side lied and cheated their way to
victory ? Would that be an indication of a victory for moral values ?
|Saturday, 16 October 2004 at 2h 38m 52s|
Letter to the Pacifica Tribune
It is simply unbelievable that proud Republicans can close their eyes and
believe whatever they want in defiance of the truth, carrying on that tired
banter of being ostracized by the propaganda of liberals and socialists.
If this indeed is what "closet Republicans" think, than I guess that is a very
dark closet. Do let a little light in so you can see the facts.
Bush has a plan on terror. It's called partisan politics, questionable
audacity, and crony business ethics. Self-appointed moralists can decry all
they want. There never were any weapons of mass destruction. The Office of
Special Plans set up by Rumsfeld selectively doctored the intelligence before
it ever reached the President. The neocon administration ignored all of the
assessments of its generals about the number of troops and the logistics of the
operation. Turkey decided it was not going to be bribed to allow a Northern
base of operations. And what of the corrupt, brutal regimes of Turkmenistan and
Uzbekistan? Or how about the 10% of allocated funding that got spent on Iraq
reconstruction? These concern legitimate reasons like lack of electricity,
sewage in the water, depleted Uranium waste, and dilapidated buildings. But you
see those lucrative profits of Halliburton subcontractors were more important
than reconstruction and supplies to the troops.
Did you people bother to read the CIA assessment on the absolute failure of the
war in Iraq? This is not failed intelligence people. This is called stupidity
Of all the people Ashcroft rounded up for terrorism, there has not been one
conviction, and all of those released after 2 years in Guantanamo have been
shown to be innocent. The Abu Ghraib prisons were housing random grabs of
street teenagers, not terrorists. But public relations are more important than
The conflict in Iraq is about a people angry that the neocons have the audacity
to invade, appoint officials, promulgate their constitution, sell-off the
economy to multinationals who are allowed to expropriate 100% of the profit,
and then import cheap labor from Somalia and Nepal. And we are ruthlessly
bombing the slums and cities, winning the hearts and minds of the people by
And now we have another ex-spy "prime minister" Allawi making a speech to
Congress written for him by the speech writers of the Bush Administration. So
we get rid of one thug merely to appoint another? Anyone ever heard of Noriega
or Augustin Pinochet or the Shah of Iran?
Come on now. This is not propaganda. This is the truth, and with all respect,
it is time to accept the truth instead of bashing one another with slanderous
name-calling. Our country deserves better.
|Saturday, 9 October 2004 at 23h 53m 31s|
So I found myself thinking about why the universe was round and whole and I
came to this resolution, namely, that which each resolution comes another
solution, but then what follows is something other than a rational universe,
yet in the end there was but another solution, another illusion, another
resolve, another time to wonder, another, another, and another.
It just didn't make sense after a while. But then what does. It was but one
solution followed by another, simply the aftermath of what followed due to a
But in that decision, likened close to the answer whatever it is that might
become what would still be regarded as the final decision, and thereupon hung
the nature of ones being, as if clung to the wall like ivy hoping the rains
would come soon, lest they starve due to lack of precipitation. And of course,
it was the precipitation that the decisions were after, the recourse of the
respite, of the neverending rapture of what lay ahead. Tomorrow. There was
And yet tomorrow comes, and there is another transition.
So therefore, in any event, lest we be resolved to dreadful notions, it seems
that the evidence is rather conclusive that nowhere what may come in the way of
circumstances, in the way of haphazard events, it was just plain that nothing
was stronger that what was coming at you, when it comes, when comes down upon
like waves of various amplitude, like light gently falling against the shadows,
shedding another answer on just the other side of tomorrow, whereupon you had a
glimpse for today, just a glimpse.
Just a glimpse, is that all we who are mortals can understand -- bloating
however that glimpse out of all proportion to reality. Obsessed with our
glimpses, we try to hasten our views upon the minds of others, who may or may
not have any mental association with or perspicacity of these visions.
So we come to a shared understanding, by talking with one another, by getting
to know those people whom we meet, so that we are not alone in that lonesome
capacity of life's analysis, a task to which no one alone can hope to fathom or
understand. We can only hope to come close to the truth when we take into
consideration the perspectives of others.
This world contains a great myth about the greatest of the individual, when the
individual is only a reflection of the society which produced the individual,
because every individual is but the fragmented product of the world with which
one interacts. Since we are proud creatures, we like to ascribe to ourselves
too much talent when we are just blessed with the right psychic mix to meet the
challenges of life. And at every step of the way, everyone is subject to
constant challenges. There is never a moment when one can come to expect to
escape the inescable human condition. Arrogance and hypocrisy can appear when
that expectation arises, thereby protecting the self from self realization, but
this is only an illusion.
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