Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Real Conversation with My Son

Geoff: "I'll know! I'll waterboard them!"
Me: "No! You cannot go on Kid Nation and waterboard children!"
Geoff: "Their parents signed a release!"
Geoff: "It'll work for sweeps week"

This isi one of many horrible conversations we have. In an unusal twist, I am the voice of reason.

Phoney Soldiers

Pretty much, this says it all.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More War!

I suggest reading Glenn Greenwald's column on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. It's a bit strident, but given that the momentum is strong for creating a war with Iran, I don't think a little hyperole is much of a vice.

In an excellent comment, Thomas C elaborates on Jim Webb's warning about the danger of the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment. Specifically, contrast that Amendment's finding that "Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps" is a "foreign terrorist organization" with the declaration under the 2002 Iraq AUMF that "the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States," and one could make a strong case that the Senate has just agreed that President Bush has inherent authority -- i.e., authority under the Constitution -- to attack Iran, given that its military unit is a "foreign terrorist organization."

To those handful of folks who came back to me and said I was right about the problems in Iraq, I say this: we will look back wistfully at the sunny summer days when our biggest problem was a needless war with Iraq, if we bomb Iran.

Non-Verbal Memories

Interesting experiment on evidence of early memory development in 2 year-olds.

I have 2 or 3 very early, non-verbal memories I've managed keep all this time. One from when I was about 9 months old and learning to walk, and one from when I wandered out of the backyard and down the ally behind the house when I was 2. I've got dozens of memories of being 3ish and remember my early childhood pretty well. I still find it odd that most people claim their memories don't start until 4 or 5 and am actively offended when people tell me any earlier memories "can't be real".

I know, for example, that my memory of being 9 months old is real. When I was 18, I (unknowingly) went back to the place the memory formed and immediately recognized the room, the fireplace etc., and had noticed the color of the rug was different. When I asked how long the rug had been there, they said 15 years, but it had been blue (the color I remembered it being) before that. Ergo, it was a real memory.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Logical Conclusion

A long time reader writes in:

"It stands to reason, though, that once men enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they will be one with God, and will no longer be lonely and in need of mortal companionship"

So, doesn't also stand to reason that in the afterlife men will need to fuck god? Because I don't think that requirement will cease just because they are dead.......

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Women Probably Don't Have Souls!

You read it here first! errr...second...

"The absence of either salvation or condemnation for women finds extensive support in the Word of God." He reported. "Jesus said that the sole reason God created women in the first place was to provide company and service to men (1 Corinthians 11:9), God determined that men would be lonely living alone, so he created women purely to keep men company and serve their needs (Genesis 2:18-22). Women are therefore completely subordinate to men (1 Corinthians 11:3). It stands to reason, though, that once men enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they will be one with God, and will no longer be lonely and in need of mortal companionship. Thus, the reason behind having women will no longer exist. Women, like the members of the animal kingdom, will fall by the wayside."

Pastor Deacon Fred warned the congregation that there was no reason to be alarmed. "Dr. Neiman's conclusions still need to be formalized," he assured. "I am certain that our team of religious experts will find some way around these Scriptures." Some of the women present were visibly shaken by the report. A teary eyed Sister Taffy Crockett said through choked sobs, "I've heard of colored women not having souls... but me? NO! This is outrageous!"

It's nice to know that women are just like the rest of us, not possessed by imaginary ghosts!

BTW, Landover is one of my favorite religious websites.

Take a gander at their mailbag!


So I bought my cat Bitey some "Sheba" brand cat food as a treat. There used to be three cats in the house, Buster, Sam and Artemis (Bitey), but alas, Sam and Buster got very old and passed away over the summer (I got a rather suspecious look from the folks at the pet morgue when I brought the second one in a few weeks after the first one died. If Artemis snuffs it, I'll have to send her out of state for sure). While she fought constantly with the other two (she fights constantly with *everyone*), she has been a little lonely lately. I thought some high-end cat food might be a treat for her, but she's mostly uninterested. Which is a pity, because it has rich, thick hunks of tender, slow roasted breast meat, soaked in a creamed gravey sauce.

A real pity. It was just sitting there on the plate. Untouched.



Big Hunks.

Just waiting....

I have to say...

It's fucking delicious!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Geoff gets his assignment from the Army:

"I'm in charge of a platoon"
"Cool! That's awesome! How many people is that?"
"It's like 40 or so."
"So this is combat?"
"It's a tactical UAV platoon"
"UAV? Urban Assult Vehicle?"
"No... Unmanned Arial Vehicle"
"... ... you mean like those things on Stargate? You're sending RC planes through the Stargate? This is a real assignment?"
"No, no Stargate! But yes, UAV Platoon..."
"So wait a minute. You're in charge of 40 RC geeks who fly toy planes around? *This* is what you trained for??? Oh son, I am ...
I am very happy for you and your friends!"

Media Smackdown

The penny may have dropped on the GOP in the media. Pretty much until this point, most GOP talking heads have gotten a free ride on Iraq, issuing their talking points mostly unchallenged, making their points to will hosts etc.

This link goes to an interview on Tucker Carlson's show where an unsuspecting congressperson stumbles into an ambush. From a media training POV, Rep. Blackburn does a terrific job. She stays on point, she keeps trying to bridge back to her talking points and, while she comes off a little smug at the beginning, she does not drop into a defensive crouch when the interview goes off the rails. Host David Shuster plays an old reporters trick on her, asking her the name of the last soldier from her district to die in Iraq, one she should have been prepared for, but she does a professional job of trying to extricate herself.

All in all, a facinating exchange.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Noncommutative Frobenius Problem is Solved!

Now how am I going to stay awake at night??


Consider the famous "Chicken McNuggets problem": if Chicken McNuggets are sold at McDonald's only in boxes of 6, 9, or 20 McNuggets, what's the largest number of McNuggets you can't buy at McDonald's? The answer happens to be my favorite number, 43. (Why it is my favorite is a story that will have to wait for another day.) Notice that you can buy any number of McNuggets greater than 43.

For example, 44 = 4*6 + 1*20, 45 = 5*9,46 = 1*6 + 2*20, 47 = 3*6 + 1*9 + 1*20,48 = 8*6,49 = 1*9 + 2*20, and any number greater than 49 can be obtained by adding an appropriate multiple of 6 to these.In general, you're given a set S of integers, and you want to know the largest number that cannot be expressed as a non-negative integer linear combination of the elements of S. This is called the Frobenius number because Frobenius is supposed to have mentioned it often during his lectures.


Unfortunately, the general problem was proved NP-hard (under Turing reductions) by Ramirez Alfonsin in 1996. Roughly speaking, this means the problem is at least as hard as many classical problems for which we still have no efficient solution, such as the traveling salesman problem.

About 6 years ago, I suggested generalizing this problem from numbers to strings of symbols (sometimes called "words"). This kind of generalization is a typical activity in mathematics and theoretical computer science. You take a well-studied problem over one kind of domain, and see how the problem translates in another. The classical Frobenius problem dealt with positive integers, so we'll replace them with strings. Now S will be a set of strings.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No One I Know

The Goons certainly have *someone's* number, but it's no one I know. Good argument for me to get my own though.

"You can't spell 'arguement' without 'gun'"
-Me to my son