Friday, July 24, 2009

The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting Prof. Gates

[Updated 31 July see NOTE #3 at end] [Updated 27 July see NOTE #2 at end]
The photo shows Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. being arrested on July 16th at the home he was renting from Harvard University. President Barack Obama responded to a question about the arrest at his July 24th news conference, as follows:

"Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is ... There was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. So far so good. ...

"They're reporting, the police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate what happens.

"My understanding is at that point Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words but my understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house. And at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

"Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts what role race played in that, but I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that's just a fact." [Emphasis added]


I read the official Cambridge police report by Sgt. Crowley and Cambridge Police report by the second officer at the scene and various press reports and I have come to the same conclusion as the President.

The Cambridge police DID act STUPIDLY in ARRESTING a man who was not being physically abusive or a danger to anyone and was not a flight risk.

As the photo shows, at the time of the arrest, there were multiple police officers at the scene and there was no immediate danger to the public even if the suspect had turned out to be a burglar.

According to the police report linked above, Gates was initially uncooperative and did shout awful things at the policeman. When the police radio tapes come out, we will probably hear Prof. Gates being verbally abusive. Gates did exhibit what the police report terms "loud and tumultuous behavior, in a public place" in a way that met the definition of "disorderly conduct".

However, the Cambridge Police should have responded by simply remaining with the suspect until an officer from the Harvard Police, already on the scene, had time to confirm the Harvard ID was valid. That should have and would have been the end of it.


A 40 year-old white woman, Lucia Whalen, noticed what she interpreted as "two black males with backpacks" and her suspicions were aroused "when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry." She called 911. [See NOTE #2 below. Recording of 911 call does not mention "black males" or "backpacks".]

There is no evidence this woman is a racist, or, in any case, no more racist than a "normal" person living in a neighborhood where burglaries have occurred in the past. (Indeed it turns out that Prof. Gates' house had recently been burglarized.) As Obama said, "there might be a burglary taking place. So far so good."

Officer Crowley heard the break-in in progress report on his police cruiser radio and responded. The woman who called 911, cellphone in her hand, met him in front of the house and told him what she had observed. Crowley approached the glass paned front door, saw a man fitting the suspect's description inside, and demanded he come out and speak to him because he was investigating a report of a break-in in progress at that house. There is absolutely no evidence Sgt. Crowley is racist, indeed he is an instructor in police classes that address the problem of racial profiling. At this point, Crowley was doing his job properly. So far so good.

Gates, a 60-year-old man who has undoubtedly been the victim of racial profiling in the past responded badly. His emotional reaction is understandable and perhaps justified in a moral sense.

He initially refused to cooperate, accusing the officer of being racist, and bewailing the status of "the black man in America". Officer Crowley entered the home. Gates threatened the officer, telling him he had friends in high places and that the officer had no idea who he was messing with. He also made a phone call to someone he thought could contact the police chief, saying he was being confronted by a racist police officer in his home.

As a matter of fact, Gates is an important man -friend to the President of the US and a distinguished professor at Harvard- which is all the more reason he should have cooperated! Unlike a poor black caught up in a police profiling, Gates was in no real danger of being railroaded into a phony conviction. Had he simply shown his photo IDs and waited for the officer to check them out, the incident could have ended well. Indeed, he and Sgt. Crowley might have had a friendly professional discussion about racial profiling and Crowley could have informed Gates of his work in the police department addressing that problem.

On the other hand, I can empathize with Gates (in an intellectual way since I have never been discriminated against in anything like the way blacks have). He was responding not just for himself, but for the entire black community that has been victimized by some racist policemen.

Eventually Gates handed his Harvard ID over to the officer. (Press reports say Gates claims to have handed over an additional photo ID but the linked police reports mention only the Harvard ID.) Crowley radioed the details in to the police department and requested they send out the Harvard University Police to verify the ID. Both Crowley and Gates moved outside the home. Officers from the Cambridge Police and the Harvard Police were on the scene, and a number of members of the public -including the neighbor who took the above photo- were milling about. Gates was still shouting but posed no physical danger to anyone. So far so good - had the officer stayed cool everything could have been OK.

Crowley should have and could have "left good enough alone", but he (understandably) took offense at being shouted at in front of other officers and members of the public. He warned Gates twice that he was becoming disorderly in public. Gates continued to vent his (also understandable) anger and Crowley showed him his handcuffs. When Gates did not calm down, he was handcuffed and arrested and transported to the police station.

BOTTOM LINE: We should and do apply a higher standard to the actions of a police officer than to a citizen - even a citizen who happens to be a friend of the President and a distinguished scholar. The police officer, in the presence of other officers, and in radio consultation with his superiors at the police department, should not have cuffed Gates. It WAS stupid for the Cambridge police to allow this incident to grow so far out of proportion. I believe Gates is due an official appology and (symbolic) restitution for his inconvenience of no more than $2000.

NOTE #1: President Obama has phoned both Prof. Gates and Sgt. Crowley and invited them "to have a beer" at the White House, and both have apparently accepted (though Gates does not drink beer :^). That would be a very nice conclusion to this incident - turn it into a "teachable moment"!

NOTE #2 [added 27 July]: The Cambridge Police have released the 911 tape and a radio exchange between Sgt. Crowley and dispatch. In the 911 call, the woman DOES NOT identify the race of the suspects but, when pressed, she says one may be hispanic. She DOES NOT mention backpacks but only that the suspects left luggage outside the house. This is in possible conflict with the police report I linked to that claims the 911 caller, who met Sgt. Crowley in front of the house, told him "she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of 17 Ware St". It is certainly possible she did mention race and backpacks to Crowley since she had more time to observe between the 911 call and when he showed up. However, her lawyer said this morning that she never mentioned race to the police, so we will never know. In the radio exchange between Crowley and dispatch, he does not mention the suspect's race either, but Crowley says Gates claims to be a resident of that house and that he is not being cooperative. Gates' voice is not heard on the tape released so far. I hope they release ALL the radio exchanges ASAP!

NOTE #3 [Added 31 July] I've changed my view of the Cambridge incident after watching Sgt. Crowley's news conference at the AFL-CIO in Washington DC, following the "beer summit" with the President and VP and Prof. Gates. Crowley came across as a mature, responsible, thoughtful, and well-spoken police officer. He answered questions from the press in a straightforward way and showed himself to be anything but racist.

Gates, on the other hand, merely issued a statement after the "beer summit" and did not consent to answer questions about his behavior on the evening he was arrested. (Gates did speak to reporters earlier in the week with his highly dramatized version of the incident in which he makes what I consider to be unsupported charges about Sgt. Crowley's motives, tactics, and actions prior to the arrest.)

This new information has led me to believe that Joel's initial assessment, expressed in comments on this Blog, is probably correct. When Sgt. Crowley showed up at Gates' house in response to a 911 call, I now believe Gates took that as an opportunity to dramatize "racial profiling" and the plight of "the black man in America" for the benefit of his planned PBS documentary. He may have purposely "baited" Crowley and the other police officers at the scene with trash talk and everything short of physical resistance expecting to goad them into arresting him.

Gates bad response has already paid off for him. He got a widely publicized meeting with President Obama and the PBS documentary will certainly get higher ratings.

Let me add, however, that I still think it is a pity Crowley took the bait and arrested Gates. While Gates' action met the legal definition of "disorderly conduct in public", Crowley had Gates' Harvard ID in hand and knew he was not a danger to anyone. He should not have been arrested.

Ira Glickstein

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Global Warming Tiger - Ocean Carbon

This is the fourth of the series Global Warming - Tale of the Tiger.

Read the first posting in this series: Tale and a description of the figure to the left. I believe the apparent 0.8ºC increase in Global Temperature over the past 150 years is due to three major causes and one minor one, as indicated by the parts of the "tiger". (The second posting details Data Bias and the third Natural Cycles.)


This posting is about OCEAN CARBON that I estimate is responsible for about 20% of the apparent warming of the surface of the Earth over the past 150 years.


Atmospheric carbon gasses may be subdivided into three categories: 1) Historically normal levels, typical for the past 100,000 years or so, 2) excess carbon gasses over historically normal levels due to non-human causes, mainly the general warming of the surface of the Earth over the past 150 years, and 3) excess carbon gasses due to human activities, primarily the burning of previously sequestered carbon (coal, oil, natural gas). Although there are many carbon gasses, the following analysis centers on CO2, which is the main one.

1) What are the historically normal levels? Homo sapiens, hominids with large brains about the size of ours, have been on Earth for about 100,000 years. Humans capable of understanding and speaking metaphoric languages have been around for about 10,000 years. Industrial humans capable of having a substantial effect on atmospheric carbon have been around for only about 200 years. During the period from 100,000 to 200 years ago, according to ice core data, atmospheric CO2 gas has varied from about 180 to 280 parts per million (ppm). Thus, anything over 280 ppm is historically excessive.

2) What are the non-human-caused excess carbon levels? Current CO2 levels are about 390 ppm, which is 110 ppm in excess of the historical maximum. Of that, I believe around 70 to 80 ppm is due to the transfer of carbon from the surface of the Earth to the atmosphere, as a result of the actual global warming of about 0.5ºC over the past 150 years. I call this "ocean carbon" because most of it has fizzed out of the oceans over the past century and a half. The posting you are currently reading has to do with "ocean carbon".

3) What are the human-caused excess carbon levels? The remaining 30-40 ppm of excess CO2 in the atmosphere is due to human burning of previously sequestered carbon. The next posting in this series will detail what I call "human carbon".


When we were kids, we learned about the "greenhouse" effect. Visible light from the sun passes through the glass roof of the greenhouse. As this light energy floods in and illuminates the plants, soil and rocks, they heat up and emit infrared radiation. Since the infrared radiation is of a longer wavelength, it cannot pass back out through the glass, which is why (we were taught) the greenhouse heats up. Well, what we learned was true, but it turns out that the sun's heat stays within the greenhouse mostly because the side walls prevent the hot air from escaping. Nowadays you can build a good greenhouse with plastic materials that pass both visible and infrared radiation. As long as you make the building airtight it will work. On the other hand, a glass-roofed greenhouse that is not airtight will not work well.


CO2 in the atmosphere acts something like the glass roof of a greenhouse. Visible light passes through it fairly freely, but infrared radiation does not. Thus, as the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from the historical maximum of about 280 ppm to the current level of about 390 ppm, more infrared radiation has been trapped in the atmosphere and the Earth has warmed considerably as a result.

I believe global warming is responsible for an actual increase of about 0.5ºC. Of that amount, about 0.1ºC to 0.2ºC is due to positive feedback from carbon gasses in the atmosphere that are in excess of historical levels and not due to human activities. This increase, which is about 20% of the apparent increase of 0.8ºC, is not under human control.

The fact that rising CO2 triggers positive feedback has led some to worry we may come to a "tipping point" where the CO2 increase triggers a temperature increase that triggers further CO2 increases and it all goes out of control. No need to worry. There is evidence that the current levels of CO2 are blocking nearly all the infrared radiation, so additional CO2 has little effect. Even doubling current levels will not cause a large increase in global warming. Beyond a certain point, if you double or triple the thickness of glass in the roof of a greenhouse, it will have little positive effect. (Consider a sun-blocking curtain on a window. If one curtain blocks, say, 90% of the sunlight, adding a second curtain will only block an additional 9%, and a third curtain less than 1% - the "Law of Dimimishing Returns".)


You are all familiar with the way a cold can of soda warms up and loses its "fizz" when left open on a hot day. The CO2 comes out of solution and goes into the atmosphere. That CO2 got absorbed into the soda at the factory when the cold liquid was exposed to concentrations of CO2 at high pressures.

The rate and direction of transfer of CO2 between the atmosphere and the oceans depends on many factors, mainly the concentration of CO2 in the air and water and the temperatures of the air and water. At current levels of CO2, the cold polar waters are net absorbers of CO2 from the atmosphere and the warm equatorial waters are net emitters of CO2 into the atmosphere. The temperate waters in-between either absorb or emit CO2 according to daily and seasonal temperatures.

As the Earth has warmed over the past 150 years, the colder waters have warmed a bit and therefore currently absorb a bit less carbon gasses than they did in the past. At the same time, the equatorial waters have also warmed and therefore emit a bit more carbon than in the past. The temporal waters also warmed and they absorb a bit less and emit a bit more. The result has been a net increase in atmospheric carbon of about 70-80 ppm over the past 150 years.


Absent normal levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the Earth would be a very cold place, unable to support life. Atmospheric CO2 is necessary for the growth of plants which obtain most of their mass from absorbtion of atmospheric carbon, creating carbohydrates and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. Animals breathe the oxygenated air and feed on plants and digest the carbohydrates, releasing carbon dioxide and methane back into the atmosphere, where it is ingested again by the plants and so on in the carbon cycle of life.

Modest increases in atmospheric CO2 are beneficial to most plants as are moderate increases in temperature. There is NO short-term problem. However, as a conservative, I have a bias against relatively rapid change into unknown or unproven scenarios. Quite apart from global warming, I am sufficiently concerned about rapidly rising CO2 levels that I favor reasonable, concerted worldwide action, see Carbon Tax YES!, Cap and Trade NO!


Global warming, mostly due to natural cycles, has raised the temperature of the Earth causing the surface (mainly the oceans) to become a net emitters of CO2, responsible for about 70 - 80 ppm of the excesss atmospheric CO2 over historical levels. This naturally-caused temperature increase and resultant CO2 increase has increased the "greenhouse effect" and is responsible for about 20% of the apparent global warming we have experienced over the past 150 years. However, we are not near any "tipping point" as some of the alarmists claim.

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, July 18, 2009

L/C consequences

[from Joel] When I'm selecting a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, I generally read the end first. In the case of fiction I do this, because I hate to spend a lot of time on a book only to find a weak ending. In the case of non-fiction, I'm generally trying to learn something like a language, so I want to know where I'll end up if I invest all that time and effort. The same is true when I start any project. Although I don't know exactly where it will lead, I like to visualize a result and see if will be worth the effort. Let's imagine the consequences of proving that L/C mindedness is hardwired into us at conception. (This is not to say that environment cannot modify the result.) Let's also imagine that we find a non-partisan binary discriminator like the "chalice illusion" which allows us to tell who is what. Does this have any interesting consequences for our society?

One result might be the avoidance of fruitless argument with people of the opposite mindedness. Another alternative might be an understanding of the common ground upon which we all can achieve understanding. Still another might be a "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" philosophy. If you've never read that pop psychology book, let me summarize. It postulates that men and women are so different that they might as well come from different planets. By accepting that premise, men and women would get along much better, because they would accept each other's quirks and learn to compensate for the difference rather than butt heads. Is the same true for L/C minds -Joel

le Tour de France and Nuclear Power in France

The high-definition TV coverage of le Tour de France bicycle race on the Versus network is startlingly wonderful. I've been watching it every day. The image to the left shows the routes of the twenty-one stages.

Stage 11, in central France from VATAN to SAINT-FARGEAU ran quite near where I bicycled during a bike-barge trip with a group from The Villages bicycle club back in 2007 . It was great seeing the competitors cycling through two towns our group biked a couple years ago (Pouilly-sur-Loire and Saint-Fargeau).

There seems to be something missing from the TV coverage, however. When we bicycled along the Loire River Valley back in 2007, we often saw the cooling towers of one or two nuclear power plants in the distance.

Indeed, stage 11 of le Tour de France passed near the nuclear power plant at Belleville that I highlighted in this Blog posting.

The lower image shows the many nuclear power plants in France, indicated by stars.

There are many plants quite close to several of le Tour de France stages but I do not remember seeing any of them featured in the TV coverage.

The coverage included aerial images from a helicopter as well as ground-level, and they often described castles and towers and other scenic features. It would be totally appropriate to show a nuclear power plant or two safely generating carbon-free electricity.

Of course, I have not watched every minute of the race and I may have missed an image or two of nuclear power plants. On the other hand it is possible they have purposely ignored the plethora of nuclear power plants which supply some 80% of electric power in France. That is a pity because nuclear power offers a carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuel powered plants.

Ther are still several stages to go and I hope Versus will take the time to show the audience how France has exploited "green" nuclear power to great advantage.

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Optical Non-Political L/C-Mind Discriminator?

[Updated 14 July see "TRUTH"] Is there a non-political optical illusion that could discriminate L-minds from C-minds? That is the challenge Joel posted in an earlier Comment.

I thought about it and adapted the image Joel linked to and came up with a new image that shows a number of cylinders on a field of light and dark squares.

Using the cylinder labeled "A" as a reference, and using your powers of absolute judgement, which of the numbered cylinders is the most similar to "A"? Which is the most different?

Please post a Comment and express your answer as a two-digit number, the first being the number of the cylinder that is the most like "A" and the second the number of the most different from "A". (Of course, also say if you have Liberal or Conservative tendencies.) If you wish, I'd appreciate it you tell us how you came to these conclusions.


Joel wrote, in part: "When I started studying my concept of inborn L/C-minds, I hoped that I could find a simple non-political discriminator. It would be interesting to find an optical illusion that would do this. The trouble with most of them is that they are universal. ... It would be wonderful if L-minds saw one and C-minds saw the other at least at first glance. That would be proof of a wiring difference unconnected to education."

A few days from now, I will update this posting and indicate why I think this might possibly be a valid test of L- vs C-minded tendencies (or not :^).

TRUTH [the following was added July 14th]

The image below shows the "truth" about the five numbered cylinders as they relate to cylinder "A". Spoiler - Don't scroll down to the image unless you have thought about the issue for a while.

As Joel and Howard noted in their Comments, at first glance, "51" appears to be the answer. Cylinder "5" looks most like "A" in shading and size and "1" looks least like "A", much lighter in shading.

However, further "logical" consideration reveals some problems with that initial conclusion. The cylinders do not seem to conform to the laws of illumination. How can a cylinder in the shadow of the larger green cylinder have a bright top? Also, Howard remembered the base image is an optical illusion and the squares behind "A" and "3" are actually the same exact shade. Thus, since neither cylinder "A" nor "3" have a left edge, their left sides must also be the same exact shade.

So, how does this relate to L/C minds?


I have a theory that we each have both an L-mind and a C-mind, and we learn to use each of them to maximum advantage. We need both to survive and prosper in the real world.

Our L-mind is "warm-hearted" and "instinctual". Our C-mind is "hard-nosed" and "logical". Those of us with L-minded tendencies, tend to use more of that side of our intellect and vice-versa for those of us with C-minded tendencies.

For example, most L-minds would subscribe to Benjamin Franklin's notion that "it is better a hundred guilty persons should escape than one innocent person should suffer". Our L-mind imagines the anguish we would feel if we were wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to rot in jail.

Most C-minds would ask "Why 100? Why not 1000 (Maimonides)? Or 10 (Blackstone)? Or 1 (Trajan)? Should the number be higher or lower for capital cases?" A C-mind would inquire as to the recidivism rate: "How many of the hundred guilty would in future commit crimes that victimize other innocent persons?" Our C-mind imagines the anguish we would feel if we, or other innocents, were victimized by a guilty person who had previously been aprehended and tried for a serious crime but had been set free due to a crafty lawyer or some technicality.

In many situations it is important to react "instinctually" - "kill or be killed". In many other situations we have the time and resources to act more "logically" - "checks and balances". My point is that L-minds tend to react "from the heart" while C-minds "from the head". I thought my optical illusion problem might separate the two.


Back to the image! After logical consideration, it is clear that the instinctual "51" cannot be correct. There is something out of place about all the small cylinders. Those in the shadow of the large green cylinder should not have bright right sides, yet they do. Those outside the shadow of the large green cylinder should cast shadows of their own and yet they do not.

Clearly, these small cylinders are not in the original optical illusion image, but have simply been pluncked down in front of the image to confuse the viewer. Take them out of that image and put them on a uniform white background and the truth will come to the fore.

Cylinder "3" is identical to "A". Cylinder "4" is both larger and darker, so it is the most different. Thus, the correct answer is "34".

Ira Glickstein

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Amazing Color Illusion - You Can't Deny It Even When You Know It is False

[Modified 10 July - Thanks Joel! See "PPS:"]
See the GREEN and BLUE swirls? Do you believe they are the EXACT same AQUA color?

I copied the area of GREEN swirl labelled as "1" and the area of BLUE swirl "2" and put expanded versions of each adjacent to each other so you can see they are really the EXACT same AQUA color.

OK, now that you know they are the same, look back at the swirls and you cannot make them not look GREEN and BLUE. Can you?

I think this is proof that, at least for color vision, we humans see things in a relative, contextual way rather than an absolute, isolated manner. A computer scanning the image pixel by pixel would have no trouble seeing the same color in both sets of swirls. However, we humans, even when we know for sure they are the same color, cannot dismiss the optical illusion.

Does this perhaps extend to other mental activities? Does it explain the contradictions in L-Mind and C-Mind thinking? L-Minds often willing to allow an otherwise normal unborn baby to be put to death at the whim of the mother while denying the justice system the legitimacy to use the death penalty on the most awful criminal? The C-Mind sometimes insisting that human life, once conceived, has an absolute right to live, while, at the same time, often supporting wars that kill large numbers of innocents as "collateral damage"?

Ira Glickstein

PS: Thanks to my son-in-law Avi for bringing this illusion to my attention on his Blog.

PPS: [Added 10 July] Thanks to Joel for his Comment with a link to an equally compelling optical illusion. I went to Joel's link and downloaded the image. Then I copied part of the "A" GRAY square and part of the "B" WHITE-looking square and pasted them in the upper left corner so you can see they are exactly the same shade of gray!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day for Sarah Palin

Happy July 4th! Of course the photo to the left is photo-shopped. It appeared during the 2008 presidential campaign and mocks Gov. Sarah Palin as a gun-toting, barefoot and pregnant "trailer-trash" woman with a cigarette-smoking son.

Even now, with the campaign over for months, Palin and even her children continue to be the butt of disgusting "humor".

  • Just last month Palin and her 14-year old daughter attended a Yankee's baseball game. A major talk-show host joked that the girl has been "knocked up" by one of the players.
  • A crude hit piece in the current Vanity Fair, headlined "It Came from Wasilla" caricatures her (or "It" as the headline calls her) as "casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency".
  • The photo to the right is of Palin with her husband Todd and their "special needs" child Trig. This innocent baby was mocked by photo-shopping an ugly adult's face over a similar photo of him being carried by his mother. (I've included that photo at the end of this posting with an appropriate warning so don't scroll down there if you don't want to see it.)

Alaska has a law that allows any resident to inexpensively file an ethics complaint in writing against any government official. However frivolous, such accusations must be investigated by state authorities and defended by the accused government official.

So far, about a dozen and a half such ethics complaints have been filed and all have been rejected, at a reported cost of about $2M to the taxpayers of Alaska and $500K by Palin and her supporters. It appears these ethics complaints have no merit and have been filed for the purpose of generating negative publicity and harrassing the accused officials. Perhaps we need a law that requires anyone who files such a complaint to share the legal expenses of the state and the accused if and when the complaint fails to pan out.


Palin's July 4th weekend decision not to seek re-election, and hand her office over to her Lt. Governor, has generated howls of phony anguish from opponents who hypocritically term her resignation a "betrayal to Alaska" and "leaving the people of Alaska high and dry". These are the same people who call for Governor Mark Sanford to resign because of his stimulus package visit to Argentina to bone up on foreign affairs :^) Where's the worry about the people of South Carolina being left leaderless if Sanford resigns? (For the record, I and a majority of members of his own party want him to resign immediately.)

There is speculation Palin resigned ahead of some coming revelation of a political scandal. Perhaps she has been to Argentina lately? Her college degree is in journalism and Sanford's love interest in Argentina is a journalist! :^) A scandal of some sort is certainly possible - the major media would love that, and are scrambling over each other searching for something that would take her out of the picture for good.

For now, I take her at her word that, having decided not to run again, she did not want to draw a paycheck while travelling the country and the world and giving speeches as so many 'lame duck' politicos have done before her. That is so refreshing that virtually none of the political 'talking heads' on cable news could imagine it could be true.


It is perfectly fine to criticize her views on important issues. For example, I do not share her religious beliefs and I disagree with some of her views on abortion. If one of my loved ones learned she was carrying a seriously handicapped baby and chose to terminate the pregnancy in the first or second trimester for that reason, I would fully support her decision. The key point, as the pro-abortion woman's "choice" side correctly points out, is that it is the WOMAN's decision to make.

But, Palin's opponents don't stop at criticizing her opinions, they practiced "politics of personal destruction" during the campaign, and well afterwards. They lampoon her upbringing in the wilds of Alaska and her social and religious beliefs. Worst of all, they belittle her children, even her youngest and most innocent, Trig. Well, some of them say, she invited that criticism by dragging her children throughout the campaign. Had she left them behind, they would have criticized her for abandoning her young children. (A male candidate with young children generally leaves his wife at home to care for the children during a political campaign, and features them only at a few political events. Palin campaigned with her husband, and, as a female candidate she naturally wanted her young children to be with her as much as possible. That, again, is a WOMAN's choice.)


"Sometimes the 'best man' for the job is a WOMAN" is what the self-proclaimed feminists tell us (and they are correct). Palin has shown herself to be capable of doing a 'man's job' in commercial fishing, in hunting moose for her family's larder, and as a hard-charging "barracuda" in sports. In politics she aggressively 'skinned' more than one man who got in her way, working her way up from the PTA to local government to the highest position in state government.

Unlike most other women who inherit their political offices from their prominent husbands or politically-connected families, or who buy their way in with support from their rich families, she did it all on her own. She is the very model of a modern woman: strong-willed yet feminine and fertile, smart yet not effete or elite, and capable of combining her family with her career. She can both shoot and butcher a moose and prepare moose stew and serve it with home-baked cookies.

So, why does the feminist establishment hate her so much? Well, truth be told, a woman is free to choose her opinions so long as they are the politically correct opinions! "All animals are equal" is the rule adopted in George Orwell's Animal Farm, - it is later changed by the ruling pigs to "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others".

Yes, indeed, EVERYONE IS EQUAL! When standardized tests show some identifiable group is not equal to some other identifiable group, we need to throw out the test results! But, some are "more equal" than others. That is, those who have graduated from an Ivy League college and who are part of the New York and east coast, Hollywood and west coast and Chicago midwest elite are more equal than the common people who cling to their guns and religion. You can tell who these "more equal" people are. They have politically correct opinions and read and write for the politically correct newspapers and watch and appear on the politically correct talk shows. All others are fodder for rude humor.


Unlike many other politicians, Palin doesn't need an official position, or a great deal of income, to live a satisfying life. Her husband earns good money in the oil fields of Alaska, and that, plus a few moose in the freezer, could support her lifestyle adequately.

Her legal expenses defending frivolous lawsuits will most likely be paid off by contribution from her many supporters. She reportedly has a seven-figure book deal and could earn tens of thousands of dollars for public appearances. She could probably host a talk show on any of the cable news networks (her college degree is in journalism, after all :^)

I do not think she plans to run for President (or even VP) in the 2012 election. If the economy recovers, as I predicted it will, President Obama will be secure to win a second term. She could run for Senator from Alaska to build up her national knowledge and reputation. She has six years to build up her political and international knowledge and reputation if she wants to run for President (or VP) in 2016. At her age, she has the time to wait. I hope we have not seen the last of her in public affairs.

Ira Glickstein


The photo below originated on a fringe Blog and I would not normally run it on this Blog. However, I am showing part of the detail on this Blog only because the photo-shopped photo was posted on a major online site last month.

The base photo appears to be genuine, but the photo-shopper has superimposed the face of a talk show host over Trig's face, making him look ugly.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Great NOVA Video - CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA

You've probably run into squiggly words like the "terrapin" in the figure. It is a kind of reverse "Turing Test" that allows a computer to distinguish a real human from a computer pretending to be a human.

We are great at reading characters that have been distorted to the point they baffle computers. When you sign up for a new email account they make you interpret those characters to be sure you are not a computer program signing up for multiple accounts to be used for sending spam. The technique is called "CAPTCHA" and was invented by Luis von Ahn, see this great NOVA Video about his ingenious work.

Ahn, then a grad student at Carnegie-Mellon and now a professor there, solved another tough problem using a variation of CAPTCHA. Google and others are scanning old books and digitizing the text. The problem is words in old books with obsolete typefaces may be misaligned or smudged or otherwise distorted to the point they can't be reliably read by computers. That is where what Ahn calls "reCAPTCHA" comes in!

The word "legume" in the above figure is from some old book and can't be reliably read by the computer. So, as part of the CAPTCHA process of signing up for an email account, reCAPTCHA presents two words. One is the distorted CAPTCHA word that the computer knows and the other is a word copied from some old book. If the human can correctly interpret the distorted word, they figure he or she can interpret the word from the old book correctly as well. Since millions of people sign up for various computer accounts every day, Ahn has put us all to work helping computers digitize the text of old books!

Ira Glickstein

PS: Thanks to my son-in-law David for putting my wife Vi and me on to this NOVA video!

PPS: In the video, a talking computer is asked: "What is a perfect date?" The answer is "June 23, 1912". I know why. Do you?