Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ernst & Young audit at Leymann Brothers: software and GRC

The BBC article on Davos 2011 lays a great deal of emphasis on Leymann Brothers failing.

But an earlier article on Ernst & Young is more to the point: but it still misses a critical point.

It is not just that there are so few global audit firms, it is also that more than one ( 1 of 4, 2 of 4, 3 of 4) use the same software vendor for audit.

This is not the same as all using Microsoft Excel. Spreadsheets as such are not designed for risk management and reporting.  As with Enron, Leymann Brothers was a GRC failure: Governance, Risk and Compliance.  It was not just fraud.

The problem begins all too often with what it takes to become a partner in one of the Big Four.  An audit partner.  These firms spit out a great many articling students, auditors and managers before one of them becomes a partner.  This is not like a criminal law firm where a barrister is seem and heard in court as part of the record.

It has been said of justice in modern Bulgaria that it is often hard to tell who is acting as prosecutor, who as judge and who as defense - based on their actions.  There is much more hope for justice in Bulgaria than for an end to problems in the global accounting firms.

Software can play a role here just as it can play a role in "following the money" in the more pedestrian variety of wrong-doing.  But the audit software in use now is more "handy" than it is "smart".  But what expert will review the design, maintenance and evolution of that software?

If Airbus and Boeing were using the same software for autopilots - and only equipped with one such system - an international aviation body would intervene.  But this is audit. And we are dealing with some high flyers and egregious behavior.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Health care costs and financial risk management

Once again MedAssets has claimed the KLAS #1 spot ( they acquired the company that held the spot.)

MedAssets likes to claim that they have "Cutting-Edge" solutions - by which they mean that you can use some of their modules in a web browser.

But what they cannot tell you is that any of the algorithms being used have a single patent or are the result of the work of a single PhD in Computer Science or related field.  Nor can they point to a single peer-reviewed publication of a scientific nature.

This lies at the core of the high cost of health care: the medical field is the most backward in computing, more backward than insurance companies or university administration or the global audit firms.

There is a parallel in the 2008 financial crisis: the utter inadequacy of the risk managment software for both auditors, insurers and bankers - and that is a story which is not going to be told.  Part of it can be investigated by looking at the lack of patents held by the the "leading" software vendor in that area, the lack of PhD's in their employ, and their practices of stifling competition through what I have termed "predatory partnerships".

Both fields have top software vendors acquired by large companies - but those "innovators" in software were accountants in both cases - and with an appalling lack of engineering staff.

Fundamentally, accountants do not understand computing as an applied science or as a branch of electrical engineering.  They just don't get it.  Important revolutions in computing were totally ignored by both niche leaders.  Software is sold by "financial" folk to other "financial" folk.

Just try to imagine that the airlines were operating using aircraft developed without regard for wind tunnel results, air foil science and without those "leading vendors" hiring PhD's.  Warfare prevented this: the early passenger aircraft are linked closely to air warfare and military engineering.  That is not the case with software for either healthcare or financials with almost the sole exception of derivatives. Just check the hiring - read the open position descriptions as they appear advertised on the web.

The lessons learned in software at NASA have not been passed on to either the audit firms, the banks, the insurance companies or the healthcare providers.

In what is perhaps the most egregious folly, both major hospital systems and major health insurers use the self-same software.  Oh - but it can now be used from a web browser, so it is "cutting edge".  It is the patient's wallet that is slit open by the "bleeding edge".

To get just one clue, look at the Minnesota fiasco.  Then look at the Leymann Brothers audit firm (could we let another global audit firm fail?)  Ask one question: were they using the same audit software vendor as the failed Enron auditor?  Ahem.

MN Google search:

Win the Future: a flawed centrist speech, a flawed global vision

Obama's second SOTU is being praised - but that same day a question was posed to the chair of his committee of economic advisors (CSPAN-3.)

One might ask whether the displaced Bushmen need jobs.  After all, the diamond miners will have jobs.  Did those Bushmen "lose" their jobs in being forcibly relocated?  Should so many retirees in USA and Canada be in such low-paying jobs?

Consider Kenya and its coffee co-operatives.  Is the aim to make Kenya number one?  Is the objective "full employent in Kenya"?  (The day after SOTU-2 Obama was in WI preaching "being number one" as the space-age challenge.

Per capita, America is the number one energy consumer.  But we are told that the answer is more energy.

Consider DC current for our many devices.  One innovation failure is that our homes are not cabled for low voltage DC.  As a result, we heat our homes with transformers.  Every cell phone sold, is another transformer.

In the race to #1 there is not always a clear winner.  But suppose that Google does have the best, most innovative, search engine strategy.  Suppose that Facebook does have the best social networking strategy (neither is obvious from the standpoint of innovation.)  The question of the business model of each is simple: advertising.

When Obama remarked that corporate profits are up, he did not remark that this is consistent with low-paid low-benefit unsafe manufacturing jobs being in the throd world.  It is.  They are.

The US two-year tech colleges for IT are not teaching the innovations.  A remarkably high percentage of their "grads" get jobs.  Experienced older IT workers who have a proven track record as innovators are unemployed - a high percentage not mentioned by the sputnik-innovator-advocates.

Bill Gates was not an innovator.  Period.  He told egregious lies to Ricoh and IBM.  Is that innovating?

Many American IT corp's have a history of suppressing innovation: Sun may have been one of the worst.  Obama did not mention IBM, a true innovator of long-standing.  He did not mention M.I.T.   There is more to Boston that bio-tech.

The money government spends on education will be largely mis-spent except from the point of view of the re-election of Obama.  But after his second-term, he is sure to turn his attention to the global.

A democratic and innovative China as #1 might ensure the long term stability and prosperity of America - that might be a win-win game.  We do not know.

Germany as #1 in Europe is no more tha answer for Europe than is France as #1 - or a crime-ridden and corrupt Russia.

The USA should be be focussed on being the winner.  That is too short-sighted.  That is not a long-term vision.

If US life-expectancy remained lower than Norway or Sweden but world-wide life-expectancy for those over age 40 improved, would the US be the loser?

Recent science suggests that the perceived "own" group may limit the charity and altruism of most of us.  Consider what a President Palin would mean in a North America with melted Arctic sea ice and a weak Canadian claim to the high arctic.  Just ask yourself what the Teddy Roosevelt response would be if control of the high arctic were viewed as required to be #1 or to "win the future".  But neither Canada nor Mexico nor Cuba found mention in SOTU #2.

Aside: will that 2 years of college get bright, illegal Latinos out of the low-paying jobs - such as teaching?  Will the investment in IT mean another lost investment in a replacement system for the IRS?

The software skills needed for scheduling high-speed trains are not taught in most IT training colleges. Nor for scheduling buses.  Nor for scheduling speeches.  The number of IT grads from 4-year programs who can answer a simple question about costraints in programming is in the single digits. It is a fallacy is that innovation comes with the PhD.  The words "post-doc" were not in the speech.

The neglect of electronic medical records in reducing the cost of healthcare was not mentioned.  The dismal state of the software provided by the leading American innovator in healthcare pricing software is simply unknown to the public although the company was purchased by a publicly traded corporation.  This is the software used by the most hospitals - and the same software used by the biggest health insurers.  It was designed by an accountant.  Innovative accounting has never been the answer.

The crisis in the accounting firm for Leyman Brothers passed without mention: the software used to track risk at that audit firm is on a codebase that I have had the misfortune to learn.  Another failure in software innovation - by an accountant (in this case, an auditor.)  The failed head of audit at Enron - a client - is now the head of audit at which great Chicago insurer?  He remains their software client.

The two software suites dominating both those markets are from recognized "innovative" firms and yet neither shows any sign of having absorbed a major  applied science innovation in CS more recent than 1973 in 2005 and 2009, respectively.  The winners, each #1 in their niche, are part of the problem as they cater to industries notorious for not addressing their IT problems - and placing the cost on their customers premiums, industry-wide.  Only an international board of inquiry of IT innovation experts reviewing actual code could demonstrate the extent of this infrastructure "challenge".

Universities are 10 to 15 years behind the innovators.  Healthcare and insurance and banking (regardless of the derivatives-hype) are how mnay years behind the US universities? 

Facile gab about innovation investments is not itself innovative or insightful.  It is politically expedient.

Cisco advertises on the web that robotics bio-interfaces is "pure research".  Advisors to the White House confound science and techniques in the same breath.  No amount of such foolishness is well-advised.  But a serious conversation in a public forum about IT failures and deficiencies is both over-due and unlikely.  The relevant codebases are not open to public audit or confidential review.

That three of the more innovative programming languages are only recently UNICODE compatible, that RDF is only now coming to Drupal - these two simple facts will be unknown to the hip President with the BlackBerry and able to talk about String Theory and Game Theory.

The elephants in the room, low levels of personal savings and the Mortage Interest Deduction were not mentioned.  That those with no savings could buy a house for no money down and use the deduction to get a better deal than renting is a fact and a fact that howls to be addressed.  It has no voice.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Demagogue Issa

Here is a bit on Darrell Issa who may consult and may confer in the name of oversight and reform.  As slippery as an eel on Jan 25 in his first day as chairman.  Now to go after the most corrupt White House ever.

Or is that the most confused due to Republican Senators' holds on White House appointments?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Huffington Post

The arrival of Howard Fineman may have been an uptick for but it still ranks below Fox News which almost has a Science link on its home page.

There is a Science page for HP but you have to look for it:

Here's a sample from today's page:
We have a problem. We can't go back to old-time religion in familiar ways, and we can't go on bowing down before the scientific method. What is a person to do?
What I suggest is the NYT Science pages as a place to hang a link.

Remember: "we can't go on bowing down before the scientific method."  Oh, that would be which of Mill's idols?

I am working on a model of a browser for science feeds with some concept mapping and some annotation features as an alternative to what remains my best tool: OneNote.

If you have a package better than OneNote 2003 or 2007 or 2010, I would love to hear about it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

doppelgänger island

So I'm swapping mistaken identity incidents with our Claire when it occurs to me that my doppelgänger in Victoria may have sometimes called in sick when I was not working a day-shift.  On those days I was often downtown at a cafe, a bookstore, the library or walking the shoreline of the strait or bicycling to U Vic.  On any day on which he called in sick, a fellow government employee might have seen him gadding about.

Transpose to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

"Excuse me, but isn't that James MacPherson from the Receivables Section?"

"Jinks MacPherson? Looks like him to me ... Now why would you be asking? - or would I be poking my nose where it don't belong?"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Animal Plant

The Green Sea Slug that is part plant!  My thanks to Sarah Beth and Brady for this tip!

Microsoft WebMatrix

Although an install of Microsoft WebMatrix is free, it is not at all clear to me why I would want to install it for personal use.  Do I want to use SQL Server ?  I have Joomla, MySQL5, SQLite3, Moodle and WordPress now at my hosted site - which is running on shared linux - what advantage accrues to me by moving to Windows at my host?  What could induce me to make that move?

But suppose that I have volunteered to set up a web site for a non-profit group.  If I know enough to know what they need and that a hosted site will suffice, how is it that I would still need WebMatrix to accomplish the tasks involved?

Here is what they say:
Start from open source web applications, built-in web templates or just start writing code yourself

So, if in their words, I can just start writing code, why would I use WebMatrix?  Is Silverlight now open-source? What they appear to be plugging is Visual Studio in the 2010 Express version and whatever we are supposed to call MS "Expression" [ possibly Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Web Professional ]  They have one word right: "web" as in near invisible trap woven so as not to be noticed.

Is this how HTML5 will somehow appear to mean Microsoft HTML5 ?

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Dog Whistles" and Palin's crafted message: the simple code

I disagree with Matt Lewis of Politics Daily.

Her evangelical listeners are very attuned to what she said about the "sentiment" of the "beautiful Catholic Mass" as she was raised a Roman Catholic and they are very aware of her choice of evangelical church. the bigotry it preaches as virtue in terms of the demonic, the Antichrist, its anti-science and its lack of ecumenical "sentiment".

And I would say that Pawlenty's handling of Jon Stewart indicates that he will be the candidate for the Republicans in 2012 ( I lived in MN during his tenure, although I was often working on Smalltalk software elsewhere in the USA.)

Shiplett Facebook: handguns in America

I posted this at my Facebook page:
"I linked to the coalition to stop gun violence as myself a victim, December 21, 1995, Memphis, TN (Shelby County) - at which time I learned of the neurosurgery practices in Memphis from Dr. Patel (now Boston?) and his lovely spouse (from Cairo, IL) and the gunshot victims of Memphis and area. I was the third victim of violence that quarter (!) on that Smalltalk team at Fedex hub."
I was only taken down by two handguns to my head, stripped of my coat, sweater, watch, cash and wallet and then, in the dark under a staircase, in a gated-community into which deputy sheriffs feared to enter alone in a vehicle, only hundreds of yards from the Germantown border - forced to beg for my life. It was a routine event for Shelby County in the no-man's land between white Germantown and dysfunctional Memphis.  I was lucky.  Only the younger boy wore a mask.  Saying to a black, female manager at Fedex that my attackers were black teenagers resulted in my contract being terminated by Fedex.  But when the V-P was pistol-whipped, Fedex moved that project out closer to Germantown.  The sole black members of the Germantown Episcopal church of St George were the family members of a black female executive at Fedex: a lawyer residing in Germantown.

That is not the Memphis of the tours for BB King and Elvis Presley fans - and in fairness, Cleveland north of  Case Western and Cleveland Clinic is much worse and seems much more hopeless.

This is Jory Aebly's account of his ordeal: he, too, was ordered onto his knees at gunpoint, but not under a staircase, in the dark.  When the taller one put a round in the chamber when they first confronted me on the walk up to my door, I had seen a blue spark as he but a round into the chamber of his nickel-plated semi-automatic pistol.  I still feel the barrel against my temple as they told me to beg for my life.  They had looked in my coat pocket and found money which I had forgotten was there - and they sounded very mad that if they had not taken the coat, they would not have had that money.

It was a rare below-zero night in Memphis: when they were gone and I called for help (my keys were in that coat) neighbours called out to tell me to shutup.  An immigrant from Pakistan, a doctor, came to my aid.  The County Sheriff's people left me to shiver, no one offered a coat or a blanket.  Later that night I followed their trail across the lawn and recovered the scarf which had fallen from my coat.  This, the detective, had not bothered to do. One of them could have dropped his own wallet getting into their car, and the detective would have been none the wiser.  When likely garage door muggers were arrested, no detective called me to try to identify the one without the mask, no one had me look at mugshots.  Welcome to Memphis.  You are in Shelby County, the land of John Grisham and the Hollywood movies and desperate poverty, just mile north of northern Mississippi and its endemic poverty.  Police corruption.  Mayoral corruption.  Enduring racism.  Senator Ford.  The part of the country where few walk and no one walks or jogs at night.  Where police ask you what you are doing in a neighbourhood based on the colour of your skin ( I did not believe this until I took a wrong turn leaning downtown after the last concert ever at Frank Hall - the officer told me to lock my doors and only to stop at red lights as if at a stop sign until back on Poplar.  It had taken only one wrong turn, just as Charles and I would later make one wrong turn leaving a Chinese seafood restaurant near downtown Cleveland.

And for the morbidly curious, not, I did not have to change my underwear.  I slept on the doctor's couch.   I changed apartments the next day.  And the next time I called about prowlers, the deputy waited for backup before driving onto the grounds of our fenced community.  Once I did see community action in that modern Memphis townhome community: a lady had seen a snake and the deputy was out in the dark with his gun drawn, other men emerged with baseball bats, others with golf clubs.  She was not told to shut up because people were trying to sleep.  People fear snakes.  Violence - that they are in denial about.

Crime in Cleveland, OH: Plain Dealer
Crime in Memphis, TN: memphiscrime
Has Memphis changed? ScoreCard
Minneapolis crime:

I now live in a very safe Canadian city, Fredericton, NB, where people of both sexes walk and jog at night.  It is not problem-free, but it is relatively free of handguns.  Organized crime may be involved in their typical industries on the models of Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo and Boston, but are not obvious, that is, not visible in their favoured hang-outs.  Notable in Memphis: residential arson by those with insurance policies which had a temporary housing clause, but not utterly unlike restaurant arson elsewhere in Canada.  The most visible criminals are meth vendors at King's Place and its bus stop; electronic locks can be seen on some refurbished homes near the downtown.  The local hazard is falling ice from eaves, not muggings (except late Saturday night after bars close.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

W.S. Merwin and a poem for the year to come

As an atheist with a concern for poetry I was glad to hear the Tucson evening end with a poem by W.S. Merwin.  But I did not like the choice of poem.

To my surprise, I find this morning that I had left a bookmark for that poem in my copy of "Present Company" (from that lovely bookstore at Venice Beach.)

The problem was in the reading.  Perhaps just anyone can read from the Old Testament, but the President of U AZ, Tucson could not read that poem.

Given that a real native opened the ceremony, why not invite a real poet to read the closing poem?  A poet who reads aloud.

When I read my own work aloud, I try to start by reading first from work which I admire, work which someone in the audience may know and appreciate, work which someone may later turn to even if they do not turn to my own.

It is not an ecumenical evening if the priest does not read from what the Buddha is believed to have said, if the rabbi cannot find some wise words in a letter from Saul ofTarsus, if the evangelical pastor cannot find some words in some address by a pope of the church they so demonize.  This I believe.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Guns Drawn, the Proud Americans

BBC says that Rep Trent Franks says what was needed last Saturday in Tucson was at least one more gun.

Where was Gabe Zimmerman's gun? Why was it not drawn and cocked with a round in the chamber?  He was her interface to the gun-toting public!

Why not an actual posse, masked, dressed in black?  A 50-cal on the roof of the Hummer?

Then there is Rush Limbaugh.  The real leader of the non-majority "majority of Americans".  Make a case for decency?  One notable evangelist in that area has abandoned his efforts.  But liberty and free speech is only on home soil - what about travel as a deterrent to hate speech?

Great Britain has banned Kansas lawyer Shirley Phelps-Roper of the Westboro Baptist Phelps dynasty (even with her 11 children, Phelps is no Mia Farrow) so perhaps we can hope for a British travel ban on Glenn Beck for starters ... New Zealand?  Australia?  Forget Canada - they will "want to follow America's lead" ... and not that of Britain.  It's all about the climate, you see ... political or otherwise.  When Canadians look east, they can see those low, dark clouds rolling in on their right - make that, 'the far right' - or is it now 'the hard right' ...

Oh, I forgot - a White House expert in the Budget Office thinks that foreign travel is an indicator of possibly treasonous dispositions, inclinations ... or was it mood?  Emotion?  Maybe just a feeling ... oh, right, grumpiness.  Wasn't Morrow a little grumpy?  Yes, but he didn't work handling official secrets, such as America'a really, really big diplomatic secret that the US Ambassador in Tripoli thinks that the leader of Libya might be slightly unbalanced ...

Cables you say?  I thought we had gone beyond cable!?!  Stop using the telegraph!  The enemy has a book on Morse code!  But who leaked it ?!?  Lynch the commie fag!

Huckabee's Confidant Execution of Whom?

Here is a link on likely US-presidential candidate Huckabee speaking with confidence about execution as the only just remedy for the leaking of embarrassing cables: HP.

Don't forget that he is also a good Christian minister and the young man in question could easily be from a colleague's congregation.  Like his pappy, Huckabee lays down the law.  Now will that be by hanging or firing squad?  And in time of crisis?  Keep a list and Round'em Up! (worked in Canada in 1970.)

Here is a report on another bit of Huckabee: a joke?

Canada's Tom Flanagan now regrets his call to assassinate Julian Assange, or so he says.  But he would have settled for "disappeared".  Does he know which side of the southern continent Chile is on and which side Argentina is on?  But this is not the Canada of Diefenbaker and Pearson: this is Steven Harper's Canada.

Who else called for the murder of the Australian citizen?  What if General Motors had wanted to "disappear" Ralph Nader back when he was a "job-killer"? ( A Canadian hero worked with Nader, by the way ... Ken Dryden.)

What if Three Mile Island or Love Canal had been designated a "State Secret"?  Would we be calling for the execution of NYT journalists, editors?  Hells-bells, everyone knows the Washington Post is a hotbed of treason!  Elitist treason! What America needs is a Cultural Revolution!  Put those elitists to work in the cotton fields of Arkansas!

And then there is the real threat to the American way of life: atheists.  Homosexual atheists.  Socialist homosexual atheists.  Lesbian atheistic socialists.  Arm the militias!  America is in imminent peril!  Round up the Japs and Chinks!  And most of those Polacks at Catholics like that Mafiosi, "Jack" Kennedy - who was actually born in Ireland, you know ...

And Huckabee?  This Baptist minister from Hope, Arkansas came in behind McCain and Romney in 2008.  Everyone thinks of him as a likable guy. Folksy charm.  A real populist.  Not one of the elite.

Yet Americans like to see an elite serve as the captains of aircraft carriers, as their NASA astronauts.  In those cases, Americans are less likely to advocate for plain fools.

( Of course, in Canada in 1970 there were bombs, kidnappings, killings, organized domestic terrorists - and the ability to suspend civil liberties ... )

Now about organized crime in Niagara, N.Y., maybe we could just sit down an talk to those misguided entrepreneurs, right Mike?  There's nothing Un-American about it - they're just responding to a commercial threat from the Canadian tourist industry.  Hell, those Falls probably should have belonged to Uncle Sam in the first place ... now what would Kit Carson have done?

Sarah Palin and the rhetoric of Evil

"a single evil man"

This follows a key statement: she agreed with the "sentiment" expressed at the "beautiful Catholic Mass".  Her evangelical followers hear the message about the "innocent" just as they hear "sentiment" and "beautiful" in relation to a Catholic mass.

It is not that she contrives to speak in code: she has spoken to the public in these terms for so long that it is likely now her natural bent.

But take a moment to remember that other shattered life: a young man in the grip of delusions, having fallen prey to a mental illness.  He was not yet a man in any of the fullest sense of that term, as his family well knew.

Let me give you evil men: those who conspire with others to commit murder for private gain and to maintain personal power.  Step-fathers who rape and then murder their step-daughters yet show no sign of psychosis themselves.  Ex-husbands who plot the kidnapping and murder of their former wives.

The assassin was not a single evil man: he was a member of a community with inadequate mental health services and extremely lax gun laws.

America is not exceptional in its political life: it stands with England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland ...

Some truly evil demagogues have also had speech writers who knew how to turn a phrase.

If you are not acquainted with the doctrine of evil of her chosen evangelical church with its brand of biblical literalism, now would not be a bad time to learn who this particular demagogue is.  Become acquainted with their views on Catholics, Jews and mental illness.  Then listen to a great Polish-American Rabbi from Milwaukee who is also a renowned psychiatrist.  It is a way to gauge the distance between a leader and a demagogue, an imperfect mind and a defective mind.

Canadian poetry

I have added new site index page which puts in one place both some Google book previews and some of the home pages of Canadian poetry organizations and other useful sites.

Honda technology and the Leap of Faith

Honda's robotic technology ad which you may of seen running on the internet uses an expression not usually associated with applied science: "leap of faith".

Now what did Kierkegaard think of the "omnibus" on the streets of Copenhagen?

Perhaps the Honda robots can be used as ushers in mega-churches to pass the collection plates and count the cash after the faithful hear the benediction that they go forth to consume and to prosper.

Robots and the "salto mortale" may be next in the rhetoric of the unrehearsed company cheerleader catching our ear with some favoured association.

Perhaps Toyota can talk about their beliefs next ...

"Leap of Faith" ... not even marketing is based on that notion.

Blood Libel and Palin

Whoever gave that demagogue the advice to use or to retain that term in a prepared address to her followers? That is not just a way of speaking; that is not just a rhetorical trope.  Was she libeled? Was she even defamed?

From the mouth or ghost-writer of Glenn Beck, all right.  An adversive right-wing nutter will mouth such things.  But from a political leader who inspires an entire political movement in a western representative democracy?

There are fools and then there are fools who just don't get it.  The term leaves her one step from the Westboro Baptists - so at least she spoke with respect the the mass held for victims and mourners, even if that respect is not to be found in the teachings of her own evangelical church in Alaska.  But neither was it to be found in Obama's chosen church in Chicago.  The murdered federal judge was a Catholic who came there from mass, the congresswoman is a Jew.  The demagogue has never disavowed the teachings on Catholics and Jews of her chosen church and pastor in her Alaskan home town.  Or did she hear this term used by her father, her husband Todd, an advisor or some fellow extremist?

Would she but return to sports journalism where she could try to learn relevant facts and rules.

Is Palin aware of the "blood libel" which induced a pogrom in post-WW II Poland shortly after the end of the war even after the holocaust?  Is she aware that the perpetrators were Catholics - naive believers in the "one true faith" in which she was raised by her parents and which she has disavowed?

Could she really believe that a paranoid schizophrenic, aged 22, with no previous violence or convictions, is an "evil man" ?  Is mental illness the work of the devil as taught in her chosen Biblical-literalist faith?  Does she really believe that pogroms were not a social and cultural and religious phenomenon?

Does she believe that even as a sports reporter, she was not reporting on a football game or basketball game that was a social phenomenon with a social and economic history and which plays an agonistic function in the workings of America as a nation?  That places her libertarian views far beyond those of Glenn Beck in the extremist dimension.

note: her facebook stats today:


Here's CBS editor-in-chief of, Daniel Farber on Palin's "presidential" moment.

Monday, January 10, 2011

BBC Glock

"But surely - and forgive me for being blindingly obvious here - the elephant in the room is the astonishing ease with which a 22-year-old man whose behaviour had caused alarm in his community college, had question marks over his mental stability and who lingered in the darker recesses of the web, was allowed to walk into a shop and buy a gun. And not just any old gun. But a Glock semi-automatic, a weapon designed arguably only for hunting humans.
On some issues, like alcohol consumption and drugs, America is - on the whole - strictly suspicious of the individual's ability to be behave sensibly. But when it comes to lethal weapons, this country is astonishingly permissive and trusting. We are told over and over again that it's the person that kills, not the gun. In the case of Jared Lee Loughner and his semi-automatic Glock, that is clearly nonsense.
In Arizona, the political debate has been particularly heated. But this is also a state where students and teachers are allowed to carry concealed weapons to class. Ironically, this is a freedom which Representative Gabrielle Gifford favoured. The inflamed passions of American politics are unpleasant. But the ability of some deeply troubled individuals to purchase lethal weapons must surely cause alarm. However this aspect of the tragedy has been little debated since the weekend, which to many outside America is frankly baffling."
BBC's Matt Frei

There is, however, reason to think that "heated" does not correctly characterize the rhetoric of Gabrielle Gifford's Republican opponent in 2010.  And he was only one example among many from Florida, Nevada and elsewhere.

The landed gentry who launched the American experiment did not have the kind of divine foresight attributed to them by those now worshipping at the altar of the Constitution - not in that flawed document and not in its Second Amendment.

Wikipedia's Beck

From  QUOTE:
Political views

Beck has described himself as a conservative with libertarian leanings.[72] Among his core values Beck lists personal responsibility, private charity, the right to life, freedom of religion, limited government, and family as the cornerstone of society.[73] Beck also believes in low national debt, and has said "A conservative believes that debt creates unhealthy relationships. Everyone, from the government on down, should live within their means and strive for financial independence."[74] Beck supports individual gun ownership rights and is against gun control legislation.[75]

Beck believes that there is a lack of evidence that human activity is the main cause of global warming.[76] He also says there is a legitimate case that global warming has, at least in part, been caused by mankind, and has tried to do his part by buying a home with a "green" design.[77] He also views the American Clean Energy and Security Act as a form of wealth redistribution, and has promoted a petition rejecting the Kyoto Protocol.[78]

Countering progressivism
"What’s the difference between a communist or socialist and a progressive? Revolution or evolution? One requires a gun and the other eats away slowly."
— Glenn Beck, keynote address at the February 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference[79][80]

Glenn Beck's progressive "Tree of Revolution" chalk board, from the September 18, 2009, episode of his television show. The "roots" of the tree (from L to R) are made up Che Guevara, Woodrow Wilson, and Saul Alinsky, while the "trunk" is the Students for a Democratic Society and Cloward–Piven strategy. Comprising the "money leaves" of the tree (from L to R) are Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Wade Rathke, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Dale Rathke, President Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, Valerie Jarrett, Apollo Alliance, Van Jones, Leo Gerard, Carl Pope, Ruben Aronin, and Jeff Jones.[81]

During his 2010 keynote speech to Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Beck wrote the word "progressivism" on a chalkboard and declared, "This is the disease. This is the disease in America", adding "progressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution!"[79][80] According to Beck, the progressive ideas of men such as John Dewey, Herbert Croly, and Walter Lippmann, influenced the Presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson; eventually becoming the foundation for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.[79] Beck believes that such progressivism infects both main political parties and threatens to "destroy America as it was originally conceived."[79] In Beck’s book Common Sense, he argues that "progressivism has less to do with the parties and more to do with individuals who seek to redefine, reshape, and rebuild America into a country where individual liberties and personal property mean nothing if they conflict with the plans and goals of the State."[79]

A collection of progressives whom Beck has referred to as "Crime Inc", comprise what Beck contends is a clandestine conspiracy to take over and transform America.[82][83][84] Some of these individuals include Cass Sunstein, Van Jones, Andy Stern, John Podesta, Wade Rathke, Joel Rogers and Francis Fox Piven.[82][85] Other figures tied to Beck's "Crime Inc" accusation include Al Gore, Franklin Raines,[86] Maurice Strong, George Soros,[87] John Holdren and President Barack Obama.[83] According to Beck, these individuals already have or are surreptitiously working in unison with an array of organizations and corporations such as Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, ACORN, Apollo Alliance, Tides Center, Chicago Climate Exchange, Generation Investment Management, Enterprise Community Partners, Petrobras, Center for American Progress, and the SEIU; to fulfill their progressive agenda.[83][87] In his quest to root out these "progressives", Beck has compared himself to Israeli Nazi hunters, vowing on his radio show that "to the day I die I am going to be a progressive-hunter. I’m going to find these people that have done this to our country and expose them. I don’t care if they’re in nursing homes."[20]

Historian Sean Wilentz has denounced Beck's progressive-themed conspiracy theories and "gross historical inaccuracies", countering that Beck is merely echoing the decades-old "right-wing extremism" of the John Birch Society.[88] According to Wilentz, Beck's "version of history" places him in a long line of figures who have challenged mainstream political historians and presented an inaccurate opposing view as the truth, stating:
Glenn Beck is trying to give viewers a version of American history that is supposedly hidden. Supposedly, all we historians — left, right and center — have been doing for the past 100 years is to keep true American history from you. And that true American history is what Glenn Beck is teaching. It's a version of history that is beyond skewed. But of course, that's what Beck expects us to say. He lives in a kind of Alice in Wonderland world, where if people who actually know the history say what he's teaching is junk, he says, 'That's because you're trying to hide the truth.'[88]
Conservative David Frum, the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, has also spoken of Beck's propensity for negationism, remarking that "Beck offers a story about the American past for people who are feeling right now very angry and alienated. It is different enough from the usual story in that he makes them feel like they’ve got access to secret knowledge."[20]

Ideological influences

Political and historical
"The old American mind-set that Richard Hofstadter famously called the paranoid style – the sense that Masons or the railroads or the Pope or the guys in black helicopters are in league to destroy the country – is aflame again, fanned from both right and left ... No one has a better feeling for this mood, and no one exploits it as well, as Beck. He is the hottest thing in the political-rant racket, left or right."
— David Von Drehle, Time Magazine[28]
An author with ideological influence on Beck is W. Cleon Skousen [emphasis added] (1913–2006), a prolific conservative political writer, American Constitutionalist and faith-based political theorist.[89][90] As an anti-communist supporter of the John Birch Society,[91] and limited-government activist,[92] Skousen, who was Mormon, wrote on a wide range of subjects: the Six-Day War, Mormon eschatology, New World Order conspiracies, even parenting.[92] Skousen believed that American political, social, and economic elites were working with Communists to foist a world government on the United States.[79] Beck praised Skousen's "words of wisdom" as "divinely inspired", referencing Skousen's The Naked Communist[93] and especially The 5,000 Year Leap (originally published in 1981),[92] which Beck said in 2007 had "changed his life".[92] According to Skousen's nephew, Mark Skousen, Leap reflects Skousen's "passion for the United States Constitution", which he "felt was inspired by God and the reason behind America’s success as a nation."[94] The book is touted by Beck as "required reading" to understand the current American political landscape and become a "September twelfth person".[92] Beck authored a foreword for the 2008 edition of Leap and Beck's on-air recommendations in 2009 propelled the book to number one in the government category on Amazon for several months.[92]  In 2010, Matthew Continetti of the conservative Weekly Standard criticized Beck's conspiratorial bent, terming him "a Skousenite."[79] Additionally, Alexander Zaitchik, author of the 2010 critical book Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, which features an entire chapter on "The Ghost of Cleon Skousen",[95] refers to Skousen as "Beck's favorite author and biggest influence", while noting that he authored four of the ten books on Beck's 9-12 Project required-reading list.[96]

In his discussion of Beck and Skousen, Continetti also stated that one of Skousen's works "draws on Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope (1966), which argues that the history of the 20th century is the product of secret societies in conflict",[79] noting that in Beck's novel The Overton Window, which Beck describes as "faction" (fiction based on fact), one of his characters states "Carroll Quigley laid open the plan in Tragedy and Hope, the only hope to avoid the tragedy of war was to bind together the economies of the world to foster global stability and peace."[79]

Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz postulates that alongside Skousen, Robert W. Welch, Jr., founder of the John Birch Society, is a key ideological foundation of Beck's worldview.[97] According to Wilentz:
The popularity of Beck’s broadcasts, has brought neo-Birchite ideas to an audience beyond any that Welch or Skousen might have dreamed of ... He (Beck) attacks all the familiar bogeymen: the Federal Reserve System (which he asserts is a private conglomerate, unaccountable to the public); the Council on Foreign Relations (born of a "progressive idea" to manipulate the media in order to "let the masses know what should be done"); and a historical procession of evildoers, including Skousen’s old target Colonel House and Welch’s old target Woodrow Wilson. His sources on these matters, quite apart from Skousen’s books, can be unreliable. (For example) on September 22nd, 2010, amid a diatribe about House, Beck cited a passage from Secrets of the Federal Reserve, by Eustace Mullins. The book, commissioned in 1948 by Ezra Pound, is a startlingly anti-Semitic fantasy of how a Jewish-led conspiracy of all-powerful bankers established the Federal Reserve in service of their plot to dominate the world.[97]

Other books that Beck regularly cites on his programs are Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s A Patriot's History of the United States, and Burt Folsom Jr.’s New Deal or Raw Deal.[79]  Beck has also urged his listeners to read The Coming Insurrection, a book by a French Marxist group[79] discussing what they see as the imminent collapse of capitalist culture.[98]

In addition, on June 4, 2010, Beck endorsed Elizabeth Dilling's 1936 work The Red Network: A Who's Who and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, remarking "this is a book, The Red Network, this came in from 1936. People — (Joseph) McCarthy was absolutely right ... This is, who were the communists in America."[99]  Beck was criticized however by an array of people, including Menachem Z. Rosensaft and Joe Conason, who noted that Dilling was a proud anti-semite and Nazi sympathizer.[100][101][102]

My favourite article in WP is that on the Gray Jay - but this one, like many others which I would prefer not to have to read, brings many elements and references into one accessible page. [And yes, my mixed American and Canadian spelling is deliberate.]

Glenn Beck

'We cannot as a nation survive much longer. We must take a page from our own history at the Alamo and “draw a line in the sand.” We must decide who we are, what we are capable of and look to the heavens to chart our course.   Do we return to the ideas of the past or do we continue West to the yet unrealized and unfulfilled promises laid out in our Founding ideals? We must choose as individuals and then put those choices into action."

"We cannot as a nation survive much longer."  By "we" he means the USA.  Not Sudan. Not Pakistan.

But he is not an extremist masquerading as a news commentator.  The people of Vermont and Minnesota, debating questions of taxation, entitlement and services, can draw what lesson from the Alamo?  Why not draw our lesson from the first time Kit Carson conquered California (oops, where is that Declaration of War?)

If we continue "west", do we not arrive in Beijing or North Korea?

" the yet unrealized and unfulfilled promises laid out in our Founding ideals" - this could mean anything - but it does sound as though there is cause for getting down that antique musket, some flints and dry powder ...

But this is not some nut case pandering to the worst in people through network radio and network television.  He's just an entertainer.  By the way, GB has it that the 2011 Arizona assassin "chose" to be a paranoid schizophrenic.  That will comes as news to a great many Americans struggling with a 19-to-21 year-old child diagnosed with schizophrenia and the few with grown children stricken with a paranoid variant of what is a disease with a genetic component.

I grant that Rachel Maddow can be tendentious - but Glenn Beck is not mouthing extremist rhetoric.  The nation is in peril: we must act!  He's only being reasonable.  Now let's check those gold futures ...

poems poesis

Started an new entry point or "aule" to at

Not all of the poems will be presented in the Curl web content language: some will be in minimalist HTML formatted as, e.g.,
a line                           

a line                           
a line                           
and other minor efforts to leave poetry readable when being annotated or edited.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Simulating Fools

Where is GigaText when we need them?!  We need to simulate that as well!  A happy people do not blog about technology failures; rather, they laud and sing hymns to technology break-throughs!  Pierced with the arrows of technical insight!

Simulate everything - especially the sound of millions down the drain ...

And don't forget those happiness metrics and social networking tag indices ... and simulating the interest world-wide in which individuals are being simulated tracking the world simulator's versimilitude ...

Let's start be simulating Iowa.  No, to get that right we first need to simulate the United States - let's start there.  And to be ready for the IPO, let's start by simulating 2014 first and then work back to 2011 if our web hits justify the expense ...

In fairness, this as deen on BBC Technology page and not the sci/env page where some sanity is present (so CNN has no such rubric.)

Favourite science web quote of the past week: the last super-nova in the Milky Way occurred 600 years ago.

Runner-up: man who submits data anomaly credited with discovering 4 gas giant exo-planets without a telescope (and which amateur telescope might he otherwise have used?)  Discovery attribution peer-evaluated by ....

Let me see ... kid discovers body (says there is a new lumpy area in the woods and Dad digs it up but stops at first sight of what could be part of a skull) ; forensics team identifies body as that of X - so kid discovered X without use of what?  Their gas injection spectroscopy machine?  Their DNA gel sheets?  Dental xrays?  Tweezers?

In the running: Vultures as spies; spy agency sharks in the Red Sea.

Mental Health and violent acts in America

This is the US mental health link mentioned in connection with the shootings in Tucson: NMHA.

The proposed DSM-5 manual for mental health professionals is found in wikipedia here. Note the change from the DSM-IV Roman numeral to arabic numeral 5 in the acronym.

A Slate article reports the six dimensions for DSM-V diagnoses as negative emotionality, introversion, antagonism, disinhibition, compulsivity, and schizotypy.  Intent to do harm to a public figure not of ones personal acquaintance was not statistically useful in their current approach - let alone murderous intent without cause.  The model of 'disinhibition', 'antagonism' and 'compulsivity' is not consistent with 'intent', planning and 'action' in any obvious way because the view is fundamentally one of learning, behavior and physiology.  Even foolish and simplistic political notions have no obvious place in this psychiatric approach in which language and cognition are secondary to behavior patterns and neurotransmitters.  Anti-social behavior becomes a set of high numbers on some 5 or 6 of these dimensions.

But someone in the White House thinks that these diagnoses can be used to root out possible whistle-blowing traitors who are more interested in others (foreigners) than the American State - and that official's delusions we would call what on our own dimensions for the stupidity of fools with official titles and official bulletins?  Talk about 'family secrets' ... and the US government seems to have so many on so many levels.  Maybe if unnamed US Senators were not blocking so many appointments, a few of these nutters would be reigned in and better heads prevail.


 Do you use psychiatrist and sociologist to measure:
    Relative happiness as a means to gauge trustworthiness?
    Despondence and grumpiness as a means to gauge waning trustworthiness


Question: sociology and individual loyalty assessment - let's look for that science for 'identifying whistle-blowers before they leak'.  Perhaps in some old speeches of a Senator Joe?

Note it is not about 'how' or 'should' but 'do'.  "Do you ask your employees if they discuss wrong-headed policies in which we persist despite no good science or results?"

BBC link.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Zweite Elegie

I added the second of the Duino Elegies at aule-browser.

This page is also in minimalist HTML so that the source can be copied with ease to create a new page.

The minimal markup has been made as unobtrusive as possible: the BR elements are aligned to the right so that even as raw HTML the page is readable for uses such as adding translation snippets and other annotations.

Joel Hauserman photographer

Cleveland photographer Joel Hauserman declined to share a photograph of his via the internet.

He has a point - I had not provided him with a secure eyes-only/no-copy/no-forward viewer as an alternative to email or browser.

The photograph is from a series, itself a work in progress.

[also to be continued ...]

Friday, January 7, 2011

Duineser Elegien / Duino Elegies / poetry markup

Over at aule-browser I have placed a page with the first elegy from Duino Elegies.

The German text is in a minimal HTML layout so that you can create you own web page with notes.

The layout is not as useful or minimal as I can offer in Curl, but it seems useful.

notes: die findigen Tiere [...] in der gedeuteten Welt  perhaps as in the Adamic naming of the animals of the field ( the passage is followed by the Baum; cp opening of the first of the Sonnets to Orpheus.)

Alternative markup:
stanza[1] line[-3] words["noch"] style["spaced-letters"] 
but this placed in a separate 'markup-style' file included by the poem viewer/internet resource browser and NOT in the cleanly formatted text.

Inline markup dates from paper publishing, slow computers and conventional programming languages.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Edmund Husserl's 1927 encylopedia article on Phenomenology

Over at there are now two links to alternate versions of Edmund Husserl's 1927 article on phenomenology: one is a Curl version of the text and one is a version for readers new to his awkward German style.  The latter requires a screen with at least 1024 pixels width (for the time being.)

At the level of web code, the difference between the two is minimal: both use the same source file.  That text file has minimal markup - so it remains very readable and easy to correct.  But the minimal markup in one case does very little and in the other case it reformats the text line-by-line.  As a result, the second version breaks down every sentence into a bite-size phrase formated rather like a paragraph, but with inverse indenting.

Very simple Curl text procedures are declared which permit this: in one case display the text and in the other case, re-format the text. The procedures are
  {article }
  {section }
  {para  }
  {ln }

It is the last which results in most of the reformatting, while the {para } markup has the effect of preserving white-space in the text.  {article } wraps the entire piece and {section } wraps each original division of the article.

This is very similar to the minimal markup which I use for poems
   {poem }
   {stanza }

More information on Curl can be found in English at and in Japanese at

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rebol 2.7.8

Looks like one year after Rebol 2.7.7 here comes 2.7.8 according to Carl Sassenrath's blog.