Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Some Articles of Interest

Taken from the Times-online

Steven Weinberg's review of Richard Dawkin's God delusion book,,25349-2552017,00.html

More stupid academics on campus

Friday, January 26, 2007

Criticisms of Affirmative Action

Joe DiMaggio and Affirmative Action
Its an old article but it still makes sense

Celebrate Individualism not ethnicity
If only our institutions of higher learning would realize this.

From Thomas Sowell's international study of Affirmative Action
Sowell sifts through all the PC nonsense to deconstruct the mythology of
Affirmative Action

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Physics Stories II

Turbulence in Space
Its not just a near vacuum

A 'bit' on Quantum Computing
The fact that we can even contemplate this concept is freaky.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

In the News XVII

Another sign that Israel's campaign in Lebanon was not succesful
Notice how Hezbollah still sees their arms for use against Israel. Also what is the news with the two captured Israeli servicemen? How Olmert can still remain as PM after this debacle is astounding.

Israel is playing a dangerous game by boosting Abbas,1,151701.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true
It still remains to be seen whether Abbas's Fatah movement is better than Hamas but this type of gerrymandering often backfires. I see Fatah and Hamas
as different heads of the same snake - terrorism.

Top Dems rebuke Bush on war plan
Looks like the Dems are pretty sold on allowing the US to leave Iraq with their tails between their legs.

Bush Eyes Pardon for Border Patrolmen
Why these two were convicted in the first place is simply ridiculous.

Those with Superior Intelligence need to learn to be wise
An excellent article on the 120+ IQ set by Charles Murray

Chavez grows more paranoid.
What is it about dictators and paranoia? Future Phd topic....

While the West sleeps the Chinese dragon stirs
We may have no choice but to build a nuclear Defense Shield.

Nicolas Sarkozy vs Segolene Royal in the French elections
I guess that either one is an improvement over Chirac.

English Footer Roundup

Liverpool are back on track after outplaying Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield.
Great opening goal by Dirk Kuyt and Jermaine Pennant's strike was nothing to scoff at either. However on the downside its looking more and more as if United will have the league wrapped up by April.

In other news:

Lucas Neill spurned the Reds to join the Hammers - I guess winning trophies is not a big priority with the Aussie.

Aston Villa 2 Watford 0 - What Villa win a game? Go on...
Fulham 1 Spurs 1 - Chimbonda late for Spurs
Boro 5 Bolton 1 - Viduka scores twice as Trotters falter
Reading 3 Sheffield 1 - Royals show who is the boss of the promoted teams
Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 - Nobody can blow a lead as well as the East Londoners.
Portsmouth 0 Charlton 1 - Pardew pulls one over Redknapp in the battle of the ex-West Ham Managers.

Aston Villa are waiting to see whether Watford will accept their close to 10 million pond bid for Ashley Young. The Hornets would be stupid not to.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

In the News XVI

Bush defends strategy
I hope its not as I heard the other day too little too late

Hamas leader calls Israeli state `reality'
De Facto recognition - but will they put their money where their mouth is?

US steps up pressure on Maliki, Iran,20867,21057252-1702,00.html
US gets tough.....finally. Bush has nothing to lose.

Dion would scrap Harper's next tax cut
Wasn't it the Liberals who originally opposed introducing the GST during the
Mulroney years?Mmmmmm
I guess the Grits feel that they are better at spending our money

Chavez Asks Congress to Let Him Govern by Decree
Isn't this how the Republic became the Empire in Star Wars?

Blair outlines ambitious plan to keep military strong,1,6837907.story?coll=la-news-a_section&ctrack=1&cset=true
Question is: Will Gordon Brown stick to the plan when he becomes PM?

More on the French Presidency,,13509-2544616,00.html
I never know who to cheer for in France its like choosing between
cholera and the flu.

Red Cross finds some principle for now...
Its a start at least.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

An Idea for a New Book - Silence of the Left

Chapter Titles

Chapter 1: Stalinist Purges and Forced Famine
Chapter 2: The Cultural Revolution
Chapter 3: Pol Pot and the Killing Fields
Chapter 4: The Love Affair with Castro
Chapter 5: Hugo Chavez - Another Blind Eye on Abuse
Chapter 6: The Death of Academic Free Speech
Chapter 7: 'Good' Discrimination
Chapter 8: Apologizing for the Jihadists
Chapter 9: Okaying the stereotype
Chapter 10: Diversity in everything but thought

More to Follow...

Monday, January 08, 2007

In the News XV

Putin cuts off oil supplies,,13509-2537540,00.html
Merkel is correct when she says that Europe needs secure energy.
How about more electric cars?

Chavez to Nationalize Venezuela Phone
Venezuela turns to Socialism 101 as Chavez consolidates control.

To bomb or not to bomb: Is Israel targeting Iran?
Lets hope that it doesn't have to come to this.
If it does Israel will more than likely resort to a technical strike.
To not act would be foolish.

Brown to break with Blair on terror
I hope that the UK doesn't role out the red carpet to the Jihadists.

From Front Page Magazine
A great article on the War of Endurance

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sporting Roundup

Liverpool are out of the FA Cup.
They dominated possession but Arsenal controlled where it counted.

Australia wins Ashes 5-0 over English
I wonder if England's win in 2005 was a fluke?

South Africa 2 India 1. Great Cricket victory for the Boks.
Maybe the magic can translate to the World Cup.

Rafael Nadal loses to Xavier Malisse,20867,21024267-2722,00.html
Its going to be a tougher tennis season for the Spaniard this year then last.
The halo of invincibility is shattered.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

In the News XIV

Critics slam Harper foe enlarging cabinet
More Big Government in Canada. Tories are starting to look a lot like the Liberals. Also Wajid Khan should step down and fight a by-election if he wishes
to cross the floor. Tories look like hypocrites having criticized Belinda Stronach earlier.

Saddam still has his fans

Iran to press on with Nuclear Program.
China came down forcefully on Iran but I am not sure this will help.

Abbas declares Hamas militia illegal,7340,L-3348962,00.html
Another failed state is in its early genesis.

Teddy Kollek RIP
Israel buries the kegendary Jerusalem mayor.

Chavez opts for Nepotism
I guess he is following in the footsteps of his hero Castro.

Time to rebuild Cuban link
At least someone is thinking ahead

More troops to Iraq
How about allowing the ones that are currently there to do their job?

German economy on the rise
Is Angela Merkel the next Maggie Thatcher? Methinks so.

Chirac is trying to be a hero
Is he genuine or is the French President trying to make himself look good
before the Presidential elections in April?

Cameron says Blair successor should call early election
Not much choice here - a watered down Tory Party vs Gordon Brown and the rabble.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Important Recent stories in Physics

Lee Smolin and Leonard Susskind debate the Anthropic Principle

Lee Smolin and Brian Greene debate String Theory

Google will be cataloguing the universe

David Deutsch talks about multiverses

Top 13 Space Stories for 2006

OCD and Multiple Choice

P: When did your OCD start?
G: I have had several bouts of OCD that have varied in severity throughout my life. As a 4 or 5 year old I can remember washing my hands a lot and asking my mom if I had germs on a more than regular basis. Anything out of the ordinary would set off a germ panic. Sometimes it was the site of unclean food, other times a deformed person or even a general feeling of being unclean. I would wash and wash again. Until I felt comfortable that I was pure. Purity would be obtained but only briefly.

P: But this particular obsession would then disappear with time?
G: It would subside and in fact fool me into believing that it had disappeared but thinking back it never really did. I have always been worried about cleanliness and germs. Its just that at some times in my life this worry would develop into debilitating OCD.

P: What would trigger it to reappear with severity?
G: A single event normally during a moment of weakness and unease with myself. I remember in Grade 9 (Standard 7 in the South African system), I was placed in a class with a really tough group of kids. Some of the bully boys in the class were into the habit of spitting on their potential victims. Naturally as a victim I was the recipient of such unwanted saliva. Right on my hand. What was worse was that I had to go to class right away and couldn’t venture to the washroom to clean myself up (Lateness in the neo-fascist South African school system was not tolerated). I wiped the spit off with some kleenex, but I knew it was there. Eating away at my skin and spreading germs. I couldn’t concentrate I was freaking out. When I did get the chance to go to the wash room I cleaned my hands thoroughly, scrubbed them like a fanatic but I still was not a 100% sure that I had destroyed the saliva-germs. I was obsessing but the fear was very real. So real that it catalyzed the recently dormant hand washing ritual back into action. This bout of OCD would haunt me for 5-6 months.

P: What other types of OCD bothered you in the early part of your life?
G: Order. I needed to order my books and toys into a sequence or pattern that I felt comfortable with. Books had to be arranged from largest to smallest. Any break in that order would leave me with a sense of unease, that ‘things’ were not quite right.

P: But you outgrew that obsession, didn’t you ?
G: I have for all intent of purpose. However I still from time to time need to ensure that whatever is meaningful to me on a material level is ordered correctly. Specifically the books I write and read. But it’s not an obsession anymore to the extent that it once was.

P: You also had OCD surrounding multiple choice exams. Explain that.
G: It’s a common fear that many have its just that OCD suffers take it to an extreme. After writing a multiple choice exam, I kept obsessing that I had missed a line in my answers out of pure negligence so that all answers after that point were incorrect as they corresponded to the wrong line number. If it was conceivable than in my mind it happened. I had studied and worked hard to learn the material but had blown the whole ‘shebang’ by erring in the simple filling out process. I don’t know how many exams I had ‘failed’ in my mind because of that but multiple choice was always a nightmare. Of course in reality looking back on my academic career all such worrying amounted to nothing. I never once erred in such a horrendous manner.

P: But you hate multiple choice for more than just the reason mentioned above. Why is that ?
G: I feel it is a ridiculous way to test. It doesn’t test what you know but rather how to eliminate alternatives. There is no creativity in multiple choice. The information is in front of you now its up to you as the testee to eliminate. Unfortunately it is very popular in North America as a result of the ease at which it allows for grading. This is a very sad phenomenon, indicative of the ‘numeration’ of our lives.

P: what do you mean by the numeration of our lives ?
G: I mean the process underlying modern western society of turning all and everyone into a number for easy processing. It’s a dehumanization phenomenon. Multiple Choice with its intolerance for human error
is a typical example thereof.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tennis Tournament of Champions I

Over the next several weeks I will be running a fantasy Tennis Tournament of Champions on the blog. The Following is the list of seeds in the size 64 field.

1. Pete Sampras
2. Roger Federer
3. Rod Laver
4. Bjorn Borg
5. John McEnroe
6. Bill Tilden
7. Andre Agassi
8. Jimmy Connors
9. Ivan Lendl
10. Don Budge
11. Roy Emerson
12. Boris Becker
13. Stefan Edberg
14. Pancho Gonzalez
15. Guillermo Vilas
16. Ken Rosewall

Other players:

Johan Kriek, Jose-Luis Clerc, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Lew Hoad,
Tony Roche, Mats Wilander, Pancho Seguerra, Manuel Santana, Rafael Nadal,
Roscoe Tanner, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Fred Perry, Rene Lacoste,
Yves Borgata, Victor Seixas, Jack Kramer, Jaroslav Drobny, Patrick Rafter,
Arthur Ashe, Sergei Bruguera, Jim Courier, Tony Trabert, Michael Stich,
Bobby Riggs, Neale Fraser, Goran Ivanisevic, Vitas Gerulitis, Stan Smith,
Ille Nastase, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Gustavo Kuerten, Alex Olmedo, Henri Cochet,
Jan Kodes, Miroslav Mecir, Raul Ramirez, Andrez Gomez, Jaime Fillol,
Pat Cash, Adriano Panatta, David Nalbandian, Henri Leconte, Marat Safin,
Michael Chang, Jean Borotra, Nicola Pietrangeli.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On 911

Perhaps its too early to judge the significance of 911 and I agree that its impact on US History as of now pales in comparison to the American Revolution and the Civil War. I further believe that its immediate ramifications have been abused by various parties on both sides of the political spectrum for political and economic gain. This is unfortunate. However history is more than a dichotomy that we can use to relate past to present. It is a dynamic that supplies us with the tools to better understand the future and it is in this light that 911 must be looked at.

911 was not an isolated incident. There were attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as well as on the USS Cole beforehand. Many would argue that the US deserved these hits as payback for American policy in the region. I do not wish to entertain these arguments as they very soon become tedious. What 911 does represent though is the formalization in the western mindset that history has not ended in the Fukuyama sense but has mutated to take on a new form. I am inclined to see this as an actualization of Huntington’s Clash of Civilization. Others may view it as a legitimate backlash to the coming of the monoculture of globalization. The choice is yours.

What is certain though is that 911 was not only an attack on the US but on Western Civilization itself. It was an act driven by Islamists who clearly see their worldview in opposition to the west. It will not be the last attack, as to assume such would be to discredit the capabilities of those opposed to liberal democracy.

Now it can be argued that we (the west) have responded poorly. The Iraq invasion, although useful in removing the tyrant Saddam Hussein, took away the focus from the more critical Islamist threat. An Islamist threat that is two headed– one driven by Iran’s Shi’ite regime – the other of Sunni origin (fueled no less by our ‘ally’ in Saudi Arabia – this is my biggest criticism of the Bushites). The commonality of these forces is their hatred of the West.

Ordinarily this would not be a problem as the US/NATO has the military might to resist any conventional challenge. However the variables don’t simplify as easily. Humanity is in collective possession of the great equalizer known more commonly as the Nuclear Weapon. It is this equalizer that does for geo-politics what the ordinary handgun can do for a street fight. It raises the weak to the level of the strong. Now the disturbing factor about nuclear weapons is that the fundamental technology is well known. A university physics student with access to the internet should have no problem deciphering the methodology. What is difficult is obtaining the enriched uranium for functionality. However even the latter ceases to be an obstacle when rogue scientists such as AQ Khan offer their assistance to states such as Libya, Iran and North Korea. Factor in the ambitions of an increasingly autocratic Russia and the picture becomes even bleaker. It is only a matter of time before a terrorist group or a regime obsessed with an apocalyptic vision (such as Iran) has access to the nuclear option. This is frightening regardless of your political views for unlike the Soviets who operated from a basis of pragmatism and understood the limitations of nuclear weapons the same cannot be said of the current Islamist threat. Their base of action transcends normal rationalization as it is inspired by the otherworld offerings inherent in their theological outlook.

It would be immoral for our leaders not to address this threat which carries with it a historical uniqueness that seems lost on many analysts. Yes some liberties will be sacrificed in the attempt to crackdown on networks and terror cells. But is not the alternative worse? A nuclear bomb going off in New York City, carnage in LA or Chicago? Freedoms have been lost temporarily (during World War I and II) but they have also been regained if the foundation for democracy is strong and thriving. I believe it is. However the death of millions is not so easily reversed. Call me what you like but I would prefer not to play Russian roulette with people’s lives so a few of us can shout fire in a crowded theatre. We live in a democracy but we are still obliged to defend ourselves against a threat that has shown itself to be very real.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Liverpool Midpoint of Season Evaluation

Pepe Reina – Seven clean sheets in a row says something but he is still vulnerable to high balls and was awful in the beginning of the season. 6.5/10

Jan Arne Riise – A few more long range efforts that were on target would help. Looks solid in defense and is playing well now after an injury plagued season start. 7/10

Steve Finnan – Looking strong on the offense he has settled down in the Liverpool back four as well. Has a great work rate but is a bit lacking in speed when forced to defend a counterattack. 7/10

Jamie Carragher – Playing consistently well as usual. Is more of an offensive threat this year than in previous seasons. 8/10

Jermaine Pennant – A bit of a powder puff on the ball. He has great speed but often loses possession. Has not been the game winner I was expecting him to be. 5/10

Steve Gerrard – Has picked up his goalscoring as of late. Domination of midfield makes him Liverpool’s MVP. 9/10

Xabi Alonso – After a slow start he seems to be making the defensive midfield position his own. Had a cracker of as goal against Watford and looks to be Liverpool’s first choice penalty taker. 7.5/10

Dirk Kuyt
– One of the most passionate of all the Red’s players. Works at a 100% and is a great acquisition. Goals will hopefully follow soon. 8/10

Craig Bellamy
– Has been sensational since his legal problems have ended. Defintely the quickest player in the Liverpool squad. Has a natural goal touch and works well with Kuyt. 7/10

Peter Crouch
– Effective when played. Dangerous in the International game. Lacks speed but has strong ball control. So far Crouchie is Liverpool’s top scorer in all competitions. 8/10

Sanz Luis Garcia
– Scores when it counts but still gives the ball away a bit too easily. Makes up for this shortfall with his creative brilliance 7.5/10

Mohammed Sissoko – Injury has curtailed his season. Expecting big results from him next year. 7/10

Dan Agger – Lacks Hyppia’s prowess in the air but is better than the big Finn on the ground. His confidence in taking the ball upfield as a defender draws comparisons to Alan Hansen. 7/10

Sami Hyypia – His lack of pace has clearly influenced his game however Sami is still the best defensive header of the ball. Important player in the big games. 6.5/10