Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bush v. Obama for Budget Busting Spending Policies...

...and the winner according to OMB is, Barrack Hussein Obama!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On Deriving the Infinite from Finite Elements E=mc2

SOCRATES: Some god or divine man, who in the Egyptian legend is said to have been Theuth, observing that the human voice was infinite, first distinguished in this infinity a certain number of vowels, and then other letters which had sound, but were not pure vowels (i.e., the semivowels); these too exist in a definite number; and lastly, he distinguished a third class of letters which we now call mutes, without voice and without sound, and divided these, and likewise the two other classes of vowels and semivowels, into the individual sounds, and told the number of them, and gave to each and all of them the name of letters; and observing that none of us could learn any one of them and not learn them all, and in consideration of this common bond which in a manner united them, he assigned to them all a single art, and this he called the art of grammar or letters.
- Plato, "Philebus"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Is Chavez Thinking "Legacy"?

Today, Hugo Chavez announced that he would surrender the military site which provides "air cover" for the presidential palace at Miraflores in order to create a grand new "Central Park"/"Bolivar Park" from the former La Carlota Military Airport in Caracas. Is this an indication that Hugo is trying to establish a "legacy" that can later be renamed for him after his death from cancer? He claims to be "gifting" the soon to be converted park to the people of Caracas. The land was his to "gift"? Wow. This is some uber-prime downtown real estate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chavez again vows, "Socialismo o Muerte!"

from the Washington Examiner:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez promised on Tuesday to accelerate his drive for socialism in Venezuela as he recovers from surgery that removed a cancerous tumor.

Chavez's confident remarks add to indications that the president expects to bounce back from his June 20 surgery in Cuba. He has also been shown in recent days doing stretching exercises, leading a Cabinet meeting and addressing troops.

"The opposition and the counterrevolution are crying out that Chavez is done for, that he's dying... that he'll have to hand over, that the transition is coming," Chavez said on state television, speaking in a phone call to a ceremony at a state-run university.

"Well, I'm going to tell you, with the grace of God and the will that we have, we're going to rise above all of this," Chavez added. "The only transition that's under way and that we have to accelerate and consolidate is the transition from the capitalist model ... to the socialist model."

Chavez has said he underwent surgery in Cuba to remove a tumor from his pelvic region. Chavez hasn't said what type of cancer is involved.

Since his return to Caracas on July 4, the 56-year-old president has slowed his normally heavy agenda and has limited the length of his televised speeches, saying he is under strict orders from his doctors.

Still, Chavez's voice seemed strong as he launched into a song by Venezuelan folk singer Ali Primera during his phone call on Tuesday. He excused himself after about 15 minutes, saying it was time to have a snack, followed by "physical rehabilitation and ... treatment."

Chavez, who is up for re-election in December 2012, has been actively posting messages on Twitter, and has made several public appearances in the past several days, though fewer than usual.

State television showed footage of him doing stretching exercises outdoors on Monday alongside several aides and military officers.

"I promise you I will live, we will live and triumph," Chavez told the students and professors, who responded with applause.

Chavez called his health situation "one of the ambushes of life." He told his audience at the tuition-free Bolivarian University that his illness has made him more determined than ever.

Chavez said he intends "to accompany you for many years more."

Chavez, a former army paratroop commander, said his rehabilitation regime has required discipline, including waking up at 5 a.m.

That is a significant change for a president who used to speak regularly late into the night while drinking cup after cup of coffee.

"I've become a cadet once again, and I see the sunrise," Chavez said. "I had forgotten the sunrises. It had been a long time since I had seen a sunrise."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Venezuela Sin Chavez!

from the Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Since Hugo Chavez became Venezuela's president more than 12 years ago, he's been a constant presence in the lives of Rosiri de Blanco and her family.

The 41-year-old mother of four has loyally watched Chavez's weekly TV program "Hello, President" and received subsidized food from the popular markets his government set up. When her hillside slum home was damaged in a mudslide in November, she and her neighbors moved into a public housing complex covered with posters of the charismatic leader.

Then, without warning nearly four weeks ago, the ever-present "comandante" disappeared from public sight.

De Blanco and her fellow evacuees in the Conde housing complex are now discussing what would have been unthinkable just a month ago: the possibility of a Venezuela without Chavez.

"Without Chavez, there's nothing," de Blanco said as she and her neighbors prepared to hold a small Mass for the president's recovery in their building's courtyard. "It's necessary to think about him, but it's necessary to have a positive attitude. We are asking God that Chavez leave all this behind him."

Despite the president's return from Cuba on Monday, his health and political future remain very much in doubt as he recovers from a June 20 surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pelvic region.

The 56-year-old leader appeared fatigued during his speech to thousands of supporters Monday afternoon from a balcony of the presidential palace. He himself admitted during the address, "No one should believe that my presence here ... means that we've won the battle. No, we've begun to climb the hill. We've begun to beat the illness that was incubated inside my body."

Talk about Chavez's future is buzzing across this bustling capital city, as newspapers, radio programs and conversations on the street weigh questions of succession and the fate of Chavez's socialist-inspired Bolivarian Revolution.

De Blanco said she wept the night of June 30 when she watched a thinner, weakened Chavez reveal his medical state for the first time.

For much of the past month, Venezuelans had the unusual experience of seeing very little of Chavez publicly. He arrived in Cuba on June 8 for what his government said was a scheduled visit.

In the following weeks, there were no broadcasts of "Hello President" or the usual hourslong televised speeches by the famously loquacious leader. Until his June 30 revelation, Venezuelans received scant communication from the president, such as a June 12 phone interview with state television and short videos of him convalescing in a track suit.

Chavez stunned the nation with his announcement of the cancer. He didn't say what type of the disease he was fighting or reveal his prognosis for the future.

With tongue in cheek, Venezuelan comedian Andres Schmucke wrote in the newspaper El Universal that he found himself starting to miss Chavez, despite all the problems his government had left unsolved.

"It's been 13 years seeing you every day, hearing you every day, reading news about you every day," Schmucke wrote. "I miss your televised speeches. I miss 'Hello, President.'"

Chavez supporters in Caracas have tried to keep the president in the spotlight by holding daily rallies wishing him a quick recovery. Over the weekend, hundreds of children and their parents marched through the center of town waving signs printed with slogans such as "We'll have Chavez for a while" and "You are my inspiration." They finished in a park and wrote notes to their president on a wall topped with the words "A Rainbow of Love for Chavez."

Government news media have joined in by running ads blaring an administration slogan: "Onward, Commander."

Computer programmer Carlos Rivas, 38, said he's enjoyed the break from his ever-present leader.

"I feel more peaceful without Chavez talking everyday," Rivas said. "He's mortal like anyone else. A Venezuela without Chavez is possible."

Rivas and his wife were leaving a park in of one of Caracas' affluent neighborhoods, where thousands of people were enjoying their four-day weekend celebrating the country's bicentennial. Not far away was a manicured square that has long been a gathering spot for Chavez opponents.

His wife Rosa Lopez, a 32-year-old electrical engineer, said she believed the country was ready for a change. Many young professionals like herself have left Venezuela, she said, due to low salaries and annual inflation rates that have hovered around 30 percent over the past three years.

"It's healthy for the country to have another leader," Lopez said. "People are happy. They aren't worried about Chavez or his health."

For de Blanco and her fellow evacuees, the uncertain fate of Chavez's government has sparked worries that they could lose benefits such as government-subsidized food and shelter.

Chavez's administration has housed storm refugees all over the capital city, some in an unfinished downtown shopping mall expropriated by the government.

Andres Avelino, who also was forced from his home during last year's torrential rains, credited the Chavez administration with providing his government pension.

"These are benefits that we have never had before," said the 60-year-old retired construction worker. Many in his working-class neighborhood, San Agustin, wore the bright red shirts that have become the norm for Chavez supporters. Avelino's shirt touted Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela, while another man's shirt read: "Chavez is the Winner."

Avelino said he believes deeply in Chavez and prefers not to imagine a future without him. Without Chavez, he said, "it would get ugly in Venezuela."

Gigantes y Cabezudos

The Festival of San Fermin is underway this week (July 6-14) in Pamplona. Join the gigantes and cabezudos there for a celebration dispairing their absence (and our own loss of masculinity) in our daily lives as we preoccupy ourselves with "running from the bull" (instead of either being dragged along by or confronting it).
Tourists (Nicrap), take note... ;)

Friday, July 1, 2011

An Ode to Hugo's Prisoners of Conscience

Bloody riots at a Venezuelan prison descended into a gunfight between thousands of troops and inmates, after violence that left at least 22 people dead.