31 August 2006
Photo by Sergi Guneyev / Saba
Financial World, 1996
George Soros is one of the richest human beings on Planet Earth -- estimates range between $7,200,000,000 and $11,000,000,000 -- an achievement made primarily by trading in currencies of various nations. He began with virtually (or perhaps, as a teenage fugitive from Communist Hungary, literally) nothing.
Soros is a Jew and had barely survived Nazi rule in Hungary. In 1945, when Soros was 15, the Communists replaced the Nazis.
Esperanto ("hopeful") is an artificial language invented by L.L. Zamenhof in 1887 for the purpose of supplanting Earth's confusing and incomprehensible babel of languages to foster universal understanding. Of course it went almost nowhere and was always at best an intellectual oddity. But Soros' freethinking and idealistic parents raised the boy to become a fluent Esperanto speaker -- a creature about as common and useful as a fish who can ride a motorcycle.
But the Communist authorities were warm to Esperanto as a propaganda gimmick intended to show their commitment to world cooperation, and allowed Soros to attend an international Esperanto conference in the UK. He forgot to come back to Hungary. Eventually he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Soros is one of about a half-dozen vastly wealthy Americans (including the founders of Progressive auto Insurance, Gentlemen's Wearhouse, and the on-line University of Phoenix) who have spent gazillions to fight and end the disastrous War on Drugs, which has made the USA the world's largest Gulag (about 2,300,000 children, women and men behind bars about now).
His Open Society Institute also funded organizations like Poland's Solidarity and Czechoslovakia's Charter 77, which eventually overthrew their Communist regimes in bloodless revolutions. Soros also spent heavily to fight South Africa's apartheid system of racial oppression, and was most recently famous/notorious as a huge spender to defeat President George Bush's re-election bid in 2004. If you want to see an authentic cyber-riot, click into the right-wing IRC chatroom Undernet #politics and say something nice about Soros.
Today's sermon by Soros concerns one of the world's most Sacred Cows -- not Israel per se, but its government policies, and particularly its recent war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
Public criticism of anything the Israeli government does in its relations with Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs is an E-Z Pass to being loudly accused of antisemitism (even if you're a Jew).
But when you have a few billion dollars, and George Soros' remarkable credentials as an advocate for Human Rights all over the world for decades, you can get away with it.
Notice also that when you have a few billion dollars, you don't have to wear a necktie.
George Soros has a blog. I have a blog. We're practically twins, it's spooky.
For years, I've had one little fantasy: I want to buy the guy lunch. The guy's got to eat sometime, and who says he always has to pick up the tab? Any time he's ready, I can hop the Metro North train and be in NYC by lunchtime. Or maybe he likes to drive his Volvo up to New England; Northampton is an easy-off easy-on stopover on the way to Vermont, and we got a dozen restaurants as damned good as any joint in the Apple. If he reads this, I'm crazy about Indian food, sushi, deli, the Empire Diner ... I'm totally loose about the venue. I'll even eat at a vegie joint.
The Boston Globe
(Massachusetts USA / owned by The New York Times)
Thursday 31 August 2006
Blinded by a concept
by George Soros
THE FAILURE OF Israel to subdue Hezbollah demonstrates the many weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One of those weaknesses is that even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.
In response to Hezbollah's attacks, Israel was justified in attacking Hezbollah to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimize collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel and converted Hezbollah from aggressors to heroes of resistance for many. Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hezbollah.
Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on military action and rules out political approaches. Israel previously withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority. The strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas was a direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in the way of recognizing this fact because it separates "us" from "them" and denies that our actions help shape their behavior.
A third weakness is that the war-on-terror concept lumps together different political movements that use terrorist tactics. It fails to distinguish among Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, or the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. Yet all these terrorist manifestations, being different, require different responses. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah can be treated merely as targets in the war on terror because both have deep roots in their societies; yet there are profound differences between them.
Looking back, it is easy to see where Israeli policy went wrong. When Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Israel should have gone out of its way to strengthen him and his reformist team. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, negotiated a six-point plan on behalf of the Quartet for the Middle East (Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations). It included opening crossings between Gaza and the West Bank, allowing an airport and seaport in Gaza, opening the border with Egypt; and transferring the greenhouses abandoned by Israeli settlers into Arab hands. None of the six points was implemented. This contributed to Hamas's electoral victory. The Bush administration, having pushed Israel to allow the Palestinians to hold elections, then backed Israel's refusal to deal with a Hamas government. The effect was to impose further hardship on the Palestinians.
Nevertheless, Abbas was able to forge an agreement with the political arm of Hamas for the formation of a unity government. It was to foil this agreement that the military branch of Hamas, run from Damascus, engaged in the provocation that brought a heavy-handed response from Israel -- which in turn incited Hezbollah to further provocation, opening a second front.
That is how extremists play off against each other to destroy any chance of political progress.
Israel has been a participant in this game, and President Bush bought into this flawed policy, uncritically supporting Israel. Events have shown that this policy leads to the escalation of violence. The process has advanced to the point where Israel's unquestioned military superiority is no longer sufficient to overcome the negative consequences of its policy. Israel is now more endangered in its existence than it was at the time of the Oslo Agreement on peace.
Similarly, the United States has become less safe since Bush declared war on terror.
The time has come to realize that the present policies are counterproductive. There will be no end to the vicious circle of escalating violence without a political settlement of the Palestine question. In fact, the prospects for engaging in negotiations are better now than they were a few months ago. The Israelis must realize that a military deterrent is not sufficient on its own. And Arabs, having redeemed themselves on the battlefield, may be more willing to entertain a compromise.
There are strong voices arguing that Israel must never negotiate from a position of weakness. They are wrong. Israel's position is liable to become weaker the longer it persists on its present course. Similarly Hezbollah, having tasted the sense but not the reality of victory (and egged on by Syria and Iran) may prove recalcitrant. But that is where the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas comes into play. The Palestinian people yearn for peace and relief from suffering. The political -- as distinct from the military -- wing of Hamas must be responsive to their desires. It is not too late for Israel to encourage and deal with an Abbas-led Palestinian unity government as the first step toward a better-balanced approach.
Given how strong the US-Israeli relationship is, it would help Israel to achieve its own legitimate aims if the US government were not blinded by the war-on-terror concept.
George Soros, a financier and philanthropist, is author of "The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror."
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
e-mail received this morning:
I thought you would be interested in reading George Soros' most recent opinion piece, published this morning in the Boston Globe. In it, he applies his thinking on the weakness of the War on Terror concept to the current situation in Israel.
To find out more about Soros' views on the War on Terror, the global energy crisis and other important issues, visit George Soros' homepage. There you can download sections of his book "The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror" and join our mailing list.
GeorgeSoros.com | 888 7th Avenue | New York | NY | 10106
somewhat filetted (Notepad ran out of memory)
the original Wikipedia article
with lots more references and hot links
George Soros (born August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary, as György Schwartz) is a financial speculator, stock investor, liberal political activist, and philanthropist.
Currently, he is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute and is also a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations. His support for the Solidarity labor movement in Poland, as well as the Czechoslovakian human rights organization Charter 77, contributed to ending the Soviet Union's rule in those nations. His funding and organization of Georgia's Rose Revolution was considered by Russian and Western observers to have been crucial to its success, although Soros said his role has been "greatly exaggerated." In the United States, he is known for having donated large sums of money to efforts to defeat President George W. Bush's bid for re-election.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker wrote in 2003 in the foreword of Soros' book The Alchemy of Finance:
"George Soros has made his mark as an enormously successful speculator, wise enough to largely withdraw when still way ahead of the game. The bulk of his enormous winnings is now devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become 'open societies,' open not only in the sense of freedom of commerce but - more important - tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and behavior."
George Soros is the son of the Esperanto writer Tivadar Soros. According to Kaufmann's biography Soros (2002), Tivadar was a prisoner of war during and after World War I and eventually escaped from Russia to rejoin his family in Budapest.
The family changed its name in 1936 (see Kaufmann, p. 24) from Schwartz to Soros, in response to the Fascist threat to Jews. Tivadar liked the new name because it is a palindrome and because it has a meaning. Though the specific meaning is unstated by Kaufmann, in Hungarian "soros" means "next in line, or designated successor", and in Esperanto it is the future tense of "to soar". Tivadar wrote of his ordeal to survive Fascist Hungary, and help many people escape it, in his book Maskerado.
George Soros has been married to Annaliese Witschak and to Susan Weber Soros. He is now divorced. He has five children: Robert, Andrea, Jonathan (with his first wife, Annaliese), Alexander and Gregory (with his second wife, Susan). His older brother Paul Soros is an engineer, and is also a well-known philanthropist, investor, and New York socialite.
Native Hungary, and move to England
Soros was thirteen years old when Nazi Germany took military control over its wavering ally Hungary (March 19, 1944), and started exterminating Hungarian Jews  in the Holocaust. To save his family, Tivadar gave his children false identities and bribed Hungarian Christians to present them as their own children. George was taken in by a man named Baumbach, an official of Hungary’s fascist government. Baumbach claimed George as an adopted godson. In this role, Soros went with Baumbach to deliver deportation notices to Jews and helped him confiscate their property. Critics claim that this event is an indicator of the moral quality of his life-long choices.
In the following year, Soros survived the battle of Budapest, as Soviet and Nazi forces fought house-to-house through the city. George first traded currencies during the Hungarian hyperinflation of 1945-1946.
In 1946, Soros escaped the Soviet occupation by participating in an Esperanto youth congress in the West. Soros was taught to speak the language from birth and thus is one of the rare native Esperanto speakers.
Soros emigrated to England in 1947 and graduated from the London School of Economics in 1952 but could find only unskilled jobs. As a student of the philosopher Karl Popper, Soros funded himself by taking jobs as a railway porter and a waiter at Quaglino's restaurant. He eventually secured an entry-level position with an investment bank in London.
Move to the United States
In 1956 he moved to the United States, where he worked as an arbitrage trader with F. M. Mayer from 1956 to 1959 and as an analyst with Wertheim and Company from 1959 to 1963. Throughout this time, but mostly in the 1950s, Soros developed a philosophy of "reflexivity" based on the ideas of Popper. Reflexivity, as used by Soros, is the belief that self-awareness is part of the environment: actions tend to cause disruptions in economic equilibriums, which may run counter to the progression of free-market systems. Soros realized, however, that he would not make any money from the concept of reflexivity until he went into investing on his own. He began to investigate how to deal in investments. From 1963 to 1973 he worked at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, where he attained the position of vice-president. Soros finally concluded that he was a better investor than he was a philosopher or an executive. In 1967 he persuaded the company to set up an offshore investment fund, First Eagle, for him to run; in 1969 the company founded a second fund for Soros, the Double Eagle hedge fund. When investment regulations restricted his ability to run the funds as he wished, he quit his position in 1973 and established a private investment company that eventually evolved into the Quantum Fund. He has stated that his intent was to earn enough money on Wall Street to support himself as an author and philosopher. After all those years, his net worth reached an estimated $11 billion.
Soros is the founder of Soros Fund Management. In 1970 he co-founded the Quantum Fund with Jim Rogers. It returned 3,365% during the next ten years, and created the bulk of the Soros fortune.
On Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992), Soros became immediately famous when he sold short more than $10bn worth of pounds, profiting from the Bank of England's reluctance to either raise its interest rates to levels comparable to those of other European Exchange Rate Mechanism countries or to float its currency. Finally, the Bank of England was forced to withdraw the currency out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and to devalue the pound sterling, and Soros earned an estimated US$ 1.1 billion in the process. He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England."
The Times October 26, 1992, Monday quoted Soros as saying: "Our total position by Black Wednesday had to be worth almost $10 billion. We planned to sell more than that. In fact, when Norman Lamont said just before the devaluation that he would borrow nearly $15 billion to defend sterling, we were amused because that was about how much we wanted to sell."
In 1997, during the Asian financial crisis, then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad accused Soros of using the wealth under his control to punish ASEAN for welcoming Myanmar as a member. Later, he called Soros a moron.  Thai extremists have called Soros "an economic war criminal" who "sucks the blood from the people". 
George Soros's most successful partners at Quantum fund have been Jim Rogers, Victor Niederhoffer, and Stanley Druckenmiller all of whom are famous traders in their own rights.
Insider trading conviction
In 1988, he was asked to join a takeover attempt of the French bank Société Générale. He declined to participate in the bid, but did later buy a relatively small number of shares in the company. Fourteen years later, in 2002, a French court ruled that it was insider trading as defined under French securities laws and fined him $2 million. Soros denied any wrongdoing and said news of the takeover was public knowledge. PBS
His insider trading conviction was upheld by the highest court in France on June 14, 2006. 
Soros has been active as a philanthropist since the 1970s, when he began providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa, and began funding dissident movements behind the iron curtain. Soros' philanthropic funding in Eastern Europe mostly occurs through the Open Society Institute (OSI) and national Soros Foundations, which sometimes go under other names, e.g. the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland. As of 2003, PBS estimated that he had given away a total of $4 billion. The OSI says it has spent about $400 million annually in recent years. Notable projects have included aid to scientists and universities throughout Central and Eastern Europe, help to civilians during the siege of Sarajevo, worldwide efforts to repeal drug prohibition laws, and Transparency International. Soros also pledged an endowment of 420 million euros to the Central European University (CEU).
He received honorary doctoral degrees from the New School for Social Research (New York), the University of Oxford in 1980, the Budapest University of Economics, and Yale University in 1991. Soros also received the Yale International Center for Finance Award from the Yale School of Management in 2000 as well as the Laurea Honoris Causa, the highest honor of the University of Bologna in 1995.
Education and beliefs
Soros has a keen interest in philosophy, and his philosophical outlook is largely influenced by Karl Popper, whom he studied under at the London School of Economics. His Open Society Institute is named after Popper's two volume work, The Open Society and Its Enemies, and Soros's ongoing philosophical commitment to the principle of 'fallibilism' (that anything he believes may in fact be wrong, and is therefore to be questioned and improved) stems from Popper's philosophy. Some critics argue that Soros's static political beliefs appear to conflict with the critical rationalism espoused by Popper, though Soros argues that these beliefs were arrived at through such rationalism.
Reflexivity, financial markets, and economic theory
Soros's writings focus heavily on the concept of reflexivity, where the biases of individuals are seen as entering into market transactions, potentially changing the fundamentals of the economy. Soros argued that such transitions in the fundamentals of the economy are typically marked by disequilibrium rather than equilibrium in the economy, and that the conventional economic theory of the market (the 'efficient market hypothesis') does not apply in these situations. Whether Soros is theoretically right or wrong on this issue, Soros certainly has the market credentials and proven track record to effectively maintain that his theory of reflexivity is practically relevant in the marketplace - at least for him. Soros has popularized the concepts of dynamic disequilibrium, static disequilibrium, and near-equilibrium conditions.
View of potential problems in the capitalist free market system
Despite working as an investor and currency speculator (his fortune in 2004 was estimated at US$ 7 billion), he argues that the current system of financial speculation undermines healthy economic development in many underdeveloped countries. Soros blames many of the world's problems on the failures inherent in what he characterizes as market fundamentalism. His opposition to many aspects of globalization has made him a controversial figure.
From Victor Niederhoffer (under "external links"): "Most of all, George believed even then in a mixed economy, one with a strong central international government to correct for the excesses of self-interest."
Soros draws a distinction between being a participant in the market and working to change the rules that market participants must follow. He appears to have no problem working to further his own self-interest economically, while at the same time lobbying for a drastic overhaul of the global financial system. Responding to accusations of being personally responsible for many financial collapses, including those in England, Eastern Europe, and Thailand, he stated, "As a market participant, I don't need to be concerned with the consequences of my [financial] actions."
Opposition to the Soviet Union
According to Neil Clark (writing in the New Statesman): "(t)he conventional view, shared by many on the left, is that socialism collapsed in eastern Europe because of its systemic weaknesses and the political elite's failure to build popular support. That may be partly true, but Soros's role was crucial. From 1979, he distributed $3m a year to dissidents including Poland's Solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union. In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary and pumped millions of dollars into opposition movements and independent media."
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Soros' funding of progressive, anti-imperialist causes has continued to play an important role in the former Soviet sphere. His funding and organization of Georgia's Rose Revolution was considered crucial to its success by Russian and Western observers, although Soros has said that his role has been "greatly exaggerated."
In an interview with The Washington Post on November 11, 2003 () , Soros said that removing George W. Bush from office was the "central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death." He joked that he would sacrifice his entire fortune to defeat Bush, and many continue to state this as Soros' position even after Soros clarified the humorous nature of the statement in a Q&A session at the end of his March 3, 2004 address to California's Commonwealth Club.
Soros gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress, committed $5 million to MoveOn, while he and his friend Peter Lewis each gave America Coming Together $10 million. (All were groups that worked to support Democrats in the 2004 election.) On September 28, 2004 he dedicated more money to the campaign and kicked off his own multi-state tour with a speech: Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The online transcript to this speech received many hits after Dick Cheney accidentally referred to FactCheck.org as "factcheck.com" in the Vice Presidential debate, causing the owner of that domain to redirect all traffic to Soros's site.
Soros was not a large donor to US political causes until the U.S. presidential election, 2004, but according to the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2003-2004 election cycle, Soros donated $23,581,000 to various 527 Groups dedicated to defeating President George Bush. Despite Soros' efforts, Bush was reelected to a second term as president on November 2, 2004.
Soros has been criticized for his large donations, as he also pushed for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 which was intended to ban "soft money" contributions to federal election campaigns. Soros has responded that his donations to unaffiliated organizations do not raise the same corruption issues as donations directly to the candidates or political parties.
Incidentally, Harken Energy, a firm partly owned by Soros, did business with George W. Bush in 1986 by buying his oil company, Spectrum 7.
Criticism of financial activities
Critics claim that Soros has an undue influence on currency markets through Quantum Fund, his privately-owned investment fund. Like many large hedge funds, it is registered in an offshore tax haven, specifically Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles.
In an August 2004 appearance on Chris Wallace's FOX News Sunday, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert (Republican), stated, "We don't know where George Soros's money comes from. We don't know where it comes from, from the left, and you don't know where it comes in the right. You know, Soros's money, some of that is coming from overseas. It could be drug money. We don't know where it comes from." Soros responded to Hastert by saying, "by smearing me with false charges and mischaracterizations you are attempting to stifle critical debate and intimidate those who believe this administration is leading the country in a ruinous direction. Now that I have called you on your false accusation, you are using additional smear tactics."  Soros filed an official complaint with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Soros claimed that Hastert's comments "strongly suggests a deliberate effort to use smear tactics, intimidation and falsehoods to silence criticism."
Criticism of political activities
Author Bernard Goldberg harshly criticized the philosophies of Soros in his book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.
Supporters of the Bush administration dislike his contributions to campaigns against Bush.
George Soros has many critics amongst American social conservatives and supporters of Israel.
Defense of political views
At a Jewish forum in New York City, Soros partially attributed a recent resurgence of anti-Semitism to the policies of Israel and the United States, and to successful Jews such as himself:
"There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that. It's not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well. I'm critical of those policies.
If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish. I can't see how one could confront it directly ...
I'm also very concerned about my own role because the new anti-Semitism holds that the Jews rule the world ... As an unintended consequence of my actions ... I also contribute to that image." 
Quotations by George Soros
* On Terror: "How can we escape from the trap that the terrorists have set us?" he asked. "Only by recognizing that the war on terrorism cannot be won by waging war. We must, of course, protect our security; but we must also correct the grievances on which terrorism feeds. ... Crime requires police work, not military action."
* On the Bush Administration: "An open society is a society which allows its members the greatest possible degree of freedom in pursuing their interests compatible with the interests of others," Soros said. "The Bush administration merely has a narrower definition of self-interest. It does not include the interests of others."
* On the Bush Administration: "The supremacist ideology of the Bush Administration stands in opposition to the principles of an open society, which recognize that people have different views and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. The supremacist ideology postulates that just because we are stronger than others, we know better and have right on our side. The very first sentence of the September 2002 National Security Strategy (the President's annual laying out to Congress of the country's security objectives) reads, 'The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.'"
* On drug legalization: "I'll tell you what I'd do if it were up to me. I would establish a strictly controlled distribution network through which I would make most drugs, excluding the most dangerous ones like crack, legally available. Initially I would keep the prices low enough to destroy the drug trade. Once that objective was attained I would keep raising the prices, very much like the excise duty on cigarettes, but I would make an exception for registered addicts in order to discourage crime. I would use a portion of the income for prevention and treatment. And I would foster social opprobrium of drug use."
* On Philanthropy: "I'm not doing my philanthropic work, out of any kind of guilt, or any need to create good public relations. I'm doing it because I can afford to do it, and I believe in it."
* On Stock Market Bubbles: "Stock market bubbles don't grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality, but reality as distorted by a misconception."
* On Currency Speculation: "...obviously the totally free flow of capital is not advisable, so you need to create some mechanism for introducing stability." 
* On America: "I grew up in Hungary, lived through fascism and the Holocaust, and then had a foretaste of communism. I learned at an early age how important it is what kind of government prevails. I chose America as my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and an open society. When I had made more money than I needed for myself and my family, I set up a foundation to promote the values and principles of a free and open society."
30 August 2006
The Web is lousy with images of the fantastic wonderful swellagent megastructure amazing New Bridge,and there's even a Discovery Channel documentary all about the New Bridge. Hooray for the New Bridge.
To several million commuters in the Washington DC area for decades, the hell with the wonderful New Bridge. This moment is all about the Old Bridge. And what they've dreamt about doing to it.
The Washington Post (Washington DC USA)
Thursday 24 August 2006
A Tough Trip to
a Blast on the Bridge
Long-Suffering Commuter Wins Right to Raze Span
by Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
The Wilson Bridge commute that was officially declared the worst ever starts each day at 5 a.m. at the Accokeek home of Daniel G. Ruefly. Somewhere around 90 minutes later, depending on about a thousand things on his 50-mile drive from Maryland to Virginia and back, he gets to his job in Rockville.
He said he's been doing this every workday for the past 30 years.
That means he's been in his car in the neighborhood of 1,350,000 minutes. Which is about 22,500 hours. Which is like 937 days. Which is 2.56 years.
Which is a lot.
As if that's not enough, it's painful for Ruefly to sit still for so long, because driving aggravates the hip injury he suffered when his pickup truck slammed into the back of an illegally parked tractor-trailer on the bridge in 1999.
Want more? The injury was made worse when the ambulance taking him to the hospital was stuck for more than 30 minutes waiting for the drawbridge to lower.
All the pain Ruefly has suffered won him top honors yesterday in the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project's "toughest bridge commute" contest. His reward comes Monday at 11:59 p.m., when he gets to push the plunger that will blow up part of the old bridge that made him suffer so.
"It's not unbearable. It's something I've got to live with," a stoic Ruefly, 53, said of his commute. "It's time [for the bridge] to be replaced, and I'm honored to be the one selected to push the plunger."
Bridge officials said a panel of five traffic reporters selected Ruefly out of 312 people who wrote essays sharing their tales of woe because of all the years he's been navigating the bridge and because of his hip injury.
"The story Mr. Ruefly told was the most wonderful-terrible story we heard," said John Undeland, spokesman for the $2,400,000,000 construction project. "He has lived the Wilson Bridge for more than half his life. We can think of nobody better to end the Wilson Bridge."
Ruefly will trigger explosives that will take down a portion of the old bridge that stands over Jones Point Park on the Virginia shore. The span, which opened in 1961, was closed last month when a new six-lane bridge opened. A second six-lane bridge, which will be built where the old one now stands, is planned to open in the summer of 2008.
The hundreds of entrants recalled some of the worst days in the bridge's 45-year history. There was the time a tractor-trailer carrying livestock crashed and several horses went loose, their tails streaming behind them as they galloped past the stuck cars.
Others recalled the terrible snowstorm of 1987 when drivers were trapped on the bridge overnight, slowly watching their gas tanks drain to empty.
Many mentioned the "Day of the Jumper" in 1999, when a suicidal man threw himself over the side after a seven-hour standoff with police froze the region's traffic -- and survived.
Stuart Roy, an aide to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), was selected as one of five finalists because he was almost speared by an errant pitchfork that fell off a dump truck in 2003, shattering his windshield. He escaped without a scratch.
"The reason I married my husband is because he is a mechanic. ... He replaces my brakes every six months because of all the stop-and-go traffic I am in," said another finalist, Elissa Soares, 53, a Waldorf resident who has been braving the bridge for 23 years.
Runner-up Tom Pettin -- 62, a Fairfax County resident and U.S. Coast Guard analyst who commutes to the District -- called the bridge "a monster that has been tormenting me since 1962."
Ruefly said he was shocked by his dubious honor, which came after he was nominated by his daughter, Tiffanie, 22, a recent University of Maryland graduate. She wrote in her nomination that after spending several traumatic months recovering from his hip injury it would give her father "GREAT pleasure to blow up that bridge!!"
Even with it all, Ruefly said, he never once considered moving from the area where he was born. The electrical contractor said he rarely strays from his usual route, which starts most mornings in darkness and with a large coffee.
The drive goes like this: north on Route 210 to the Capital Beltway and over the bridge, onto Route 1 for a block, then Washington Street, which turns into the George Washington Memorial Parkway, back to the Beltway, across the American Legion Bridge to I-270 and onto Falls Road in Rockville.
If he waits too long to depart, say until 6 a.m., he ends up in a snarl of traffic on the Beltway that can delay his journey by hours.
Ruefly has tried non-bridge routes, such as swinging around the Maryland side of the Beltway to I-270 or taking I-295 into the city to I-395 to the George Washington Parkway, but he said they're no better.
"It's better to wait the bridge out," he said.
Ruefly said he's not sure how he will feel Monday evening as he stands before the nearly half-mile stretch of rusted steel girders that he will help destroy. Carefully placed charges will cut the 2,600 tons of steel as the bridge collapses with a flash of light and a loud kaboom that bridge officials say will be similar to a thunderclap.
"That's hard to say right now," Ruefly said. "I don't hate the bridge. It did a lot for this area."
He was there when the bridge opened back in 1961, he said, so it'll be good to see it when it goes.
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29 August 2006
Man solves famous math puzzle of 2 Bridges of Washington DC / Controlled Terrorism / "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
Washington DC is my hometown, I grew up there, my family has called it and its Maryland suburbs home since shortly after the Civil War. (That branch immigrated on empty tobacco boats returning from Hamburg to the tobacco ports of the Chesapeake Bay.)
I first drove a car there about the time the Interstate Highway System was completed. There are a few other small bridges across the Potomac, some dating back to the Civil War, but for commuters -- and EVERYONE trying to get from the Northeast USA to the Southeast USA on Interstate 95, probably the busiest superhighway on Earth -- you have to navigate The Beltway (I-495) and aim for one of its only two bridges across the Potomac.
The Woodrow Wilson Bridge ... well, I don't even want to talk about it, I can feel my blood pressure rising already.
This is the Best Thing that ever happened to anyone who ever had to drive a car or a truck or a motorcycle around Washington DC. Or from Philadelphia to Richmond, or contrariwise.
Since 9/11, High Explosives have gotten nothing but Bad Press. Today's children are being taught to fear and hate High Explosives, and to believe (as President Bush would say) that High Explosives are Evil.
But big explosions and the wonderful things they do (sometimes) and the wonderful way they make you feel (sometimes) are part of every human being's heritage.
So to the people of Washington DC, this is just a Wonderful Day! And Dan Ruefly is just the Luckiest Man In the World! Congratulations, Dan! Mazel Tov! "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" I want an autographed picture of The Man Who Blew Up The Woodrow Wilson Bridge!
Tuesday 29 August 2006
to blow up bridge
by Andy Sullivan
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA USA -- A LONG-suffering commuter fulfilled the dreams of generations of Washingtonians this morning when he blew up a detested Potomac River bridge.
Maryland electrician Dan Ruefly won a contest to detonate a section of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, which carries the Capital Beltway across the Potomac between Maryland and Virginia just south of the District of Columbia. Regional authorities have been building a replacement since 2000.
"It's past due. It was past due a couple of years after it was built," said Mr Ruefly, who crosses the bridge before 6am on weekdays to beat traffic on his two-hour commute.
The bridge has long been one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in a region notorious for gridlock. Eight lanes of Beltway traffic funnel down to six lanes, and backups can stretch for miles when the drawbridge is raised 270 times a year to let boats through.
As the midpoint of Interstate 95, the East Coast's busiest highway, the bridge also handles a heavy flow of long-distance traffic.
Seconds after Mr Ruefly pushed down the ceremonial plunger at 12:34 am, a cascade of flashes lit the underside of the bridge and thunderclaps rolled across the river. The steel girders of the old span collapsed in a cloud of dust as spectators on a nearby overpass cheered.
Mr Ruefly, of Accokeek, Maryland, has had to contend with the Wilson Bridge every working day for the past 30 years. His hip was crushed in an accident on the bridge in 1999.
Asked if he had thought about blowing up the bridge before, Mr Ruefly said, "Hasn't everybody in Washington, DC?"
The bridge was designed to handle 75,000 vehicles a day when it opened as a four-lane span in 1961, and the six traffic lanes of the present bridge now carry 200,000 vehicles per day.
The U$2,400,000,000 12-lane replacement will increase capacity to 300,000 vehicles a day. Thanks to its higher elevation, the new drawbridge will need to be raised only 65 times per year.
Traffic is already flowing on one span opened earlier this year. Work on the second span is expected to wrap up in 2008, with final work on nearby highway interchanges completed by 2011.
28 August 2006
Any questions about the Hot Dots which
indicate future American wars?
Leave A Comment,
Agence-Vleeptron Presse will explain
Where Each Dot Is,
and Why It's There.
(If the Loud Screaming from Bush,
Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice
haven't already explained it.
But if they haven't, get your
hearing and vision checked this week.)
Somebody kicked Vleeptron in the butt for being asleep at the switch the last few days.
Well, if you're a Sherlock Holmes sort of person, it will have dawned on you a year or two ago that Vleeptron is something of a One-Man-Band kind of operation, and when Life distracts Bob, Vleeptron just has to shut down for a day or three while Bob attends to some Noisy Life Thing.
There is no Assistant Deputy Managing Editor of Agence-Vleeptron Presse who takes over while Bob is off playing 18 holes of golf in the shadow of Mount Merapi. Vleeptron is Bob, or else Vleeptron isn't.
For what it's worth, the Life Thing that made Vleeptron go dark over the long weekend wasn't serious or life-threatening, didn't involve doctors or emergency rooms -- it was just some Really Dumb Stunt pulled by an acquaintance of Bob's which made the next four days seem like All Ten Fingernails On A Blackboard to poor Bob's sensitive nervous system. I could have fixed everything immediately by running over this acquaintance with my truck a few times, but in the United States, this is considered a Crime, no matter what loopy stunt the person under the tires may have just pulled.
If you are aware of any nation on earth where running morons over in your truck is Not A Crime, please (!) Leave A Comment. (The place has to have Good Food and be as free as or more free of neighborhood gunfire than Northampton, Massachusetts.)
So Vleeptron now returns to Earth and takes a quick survey of All Important Things which have transpired in A-VP's absence.
We begin with news from the United States of America.
The world map above shows the places hither and yon around the world where the Bush Administration or some of its Loudmouth Patriotic Pals and Associates have during the last year or two suggested going to war against, to teach the Evil People there a Lesson They'll Never Forget.
Like Iraq is learning a lesson it'll never forget.
Unfortunately, so are we.
Except that clearly we forgot the lessons of Vietnam long ago, so we're probably going to forget this lesson, too.
In the first few years following the USA's military defeat in Vietnam, there were some obscure stories coming out of the American military establishment that suggested that some of our brighter, more creative and non-brain-dead professional officers (West Point and Annapolis types) were trying to make sense of how we got into the disaster of the Vietnam War, how we lost the war, and how to make sure the USA would never blunder into another disaster like that again.
These officers drew up some kind of Doctrine, and vowed, among other things, that the professional officer corps would never again permit the US to fight an overseas war which did not clearly include the near-certain likelihood of clear and relatively prompt Victory for the American military. These young officer Einsteins distributed the Doctrine widely and held many seminars to disseminate these Lessons Learned for the Future at all the staff and war colleges.
I guess I could Google and find that New American Strategic Doctrine from the Young Professional Officer Corps circa 1978, but what would be the point? Either the Bush Administration subsequently found it and recycled it as toilet paper, or the officers who Took That Clear Victory Vow wanted promotions to General Grade so bad that they quickly learned to kiss politicians' ass (they prefer it anti-clockwise) so thoroughly that, by the time they reached General Grade, if a powerful politician asked them what they thought about waging war against Indiana, the professional officers said, "Great idea, sir! Shock and Awe! Let's Rock n Roll! Victory's just around the corner!"
What follows isn't politics or patriotism.
The United States of America is currently waging two Hot Wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is much noisier than Afghanistan, but don't sell Afghanistan short. It continues to reliably send American soldiers home to Dover Air Force Base in flag-draped coffins, and the notion that Victory in Afghanistan is Just Around The Corner is -- well, as Mark Shields said (on the PBS News Hour a few nights ago) of Bush's years of constant loud and clear promises of Staying the Course because Victory in Iraq is Just Around The Corner -- delusional.
Actually, Shields said that in the run-up to the Congressional/Senate elections in November, voters of both parties have been shoved into a nasty corner where they feel compelled to Choose One:
[ ] The president is delusional.
[ ] The president is lying.
Which of course is exactly where Johnson and Nixon found themselves during the Vietnam War: Is our president insane, or just lying his fucking ass off?
If you have a Third Choice to explain Bush's Iraq War Policy (most recently he said that if we pull out of Iraq, America will Lose Its Soul), please oh please Leave A Comment.
About a year ago, Bush tried winking at the camera during rare one-on-one TV interviews (with interviewers who weren't Fox News Channel softball pitchers) and tried this:
[ ] I know lots of secret stuff only the president knows, but I can't tell you about it because it's a secret, but that's why I'm acting this way. If you knew this secret stuff, the way I've been acting and the things I've been saying would suddenly make Perfect Sense to you.
The United States of America is currently the world's only military-economic Superpower. I think the reason everybody says this and overlooks the Peoples Republic of China is just that the USA is regularly bumbling into faraway loser wars, but China's military hasn't directly pulled a stunt like that since 1949 in Korea. And that turned out pretty well for China; perhaps China's military and political leadership structures which say Yay or Nay to potential foreign military adventures are a bit smarter and more cautious than the USA's. (They're cowards. We're not.)
So right now, the only mighty sovereign power likely and/or able to project its military might to any spot on the far side of Earth and try to wage some kind of loopy, questionable Victory-Free or Victory-Lite ™ war is the USA.
Oh, Vleeptron's take on the terrible prospect of pulling out of Iraq and Losing Our Soul ...
We finally pulled out of Vietnam and Lost Our Soul, and seem to have gotten over that reasonably well. National Souls seem to grow back if you give them a few years. Economically, pulling out of Vietnam and Losing Our Soul gave Hollywood enormous fodder for Rambo and Chuck Norris movies, which gave jobs to thousands of people for decades. There are already fictitious entertainment TV shows about the Iraq War. And in the TV shows and the Hollywood movies -- We Win! Every Week!
Let's hurry up and Lose Our Soul already, and stop killing our young soldiers and Marines (our neighbors' children), and get over it. (Vleeptron doesn't mind how many Asian-American movie actors we kill, it's only ketchup, and they all get paid every day and get to smear themselves with more ketchup the next day. America's military adventures in Asia mean steady work for our Asian-American actors and actresses.)
Back to arithmetic.
The story below indicates the current state of filling US military manpower needs while we wage two Hot Wars at the same time.
Like a teenage girl who lets Todd or Scott do Anything But That downstairs on the rec room sofa on Saturday night, the Pentagon and the Bush Administration can do Anything But Bring Back The Draft.
The story below is comparable to some very thrilling and kinky stuff on the sofa -- but it's not Unprotected Vaginal Penetration. It's not The Draft. Not Quite. Not Exactly.
That's the only Lesson Political America, bipartisan Republican and Democrat, seems to have learned and remembered crisply from Vietnam: The Draft is too dangerous a political bomb to fuck around with. The Draft is too threatening to Real Americans, and they'll fill the streets of our major cities with angry, politically destabilizing anti-war protests. The Draft -- which proudly won World War Two for the USA, with utterly NO political complaints -- has now become The Wartime Military Manpower Solution That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
So read the story below. And then figure out where we're going to get enough soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel to fight one or two or three more loopy overseas wars. Leave A Comment.
As the new generation of West Point/Annapolis/Air Force Academy Pentagon generals and admirals say:
FOOTNOTE: Okay, Vleeptron isn't being Fair and Balanced. Iran will be easy, a walk in the park. North Korea, too. We'll have the boys home by Christmas. Big-ass Victory Parades. Military bands should start practicing right now.
We'll teach them goddam towelheads and kommies a lesson they'll never forget.
Los Angeles Times (California USA)
Wednesday 23 August 2006
Marines Who Served
Will Be Ordered Back
The involuntary return to active duty
will affect up to 2,500 reservists at a time.
The Pentagon is scrambling
to meet the demands of war.
by Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON -- The Marine Corps said Tuesday that it would begin calling Marines back to active-duty service on an involuntary basis to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the latest sign that the American force is under strain and a signal that the military is having trouble persuading young veterans to return.
Marine commanders will call up formerly active-duty service members now classified as reservists because the Corps failed to find enough volunteers among its emergency reserve pool to fill jobs in combat zones. The call-ups will begin in several months, summoning as many as 2,500 reservists at a time to serve for a year or more.
The Pentagon has had to scramble to meet the manpower requirements of the Iraq war, which have not abated in the face of a continuing insurgency and growing civil strife. Earlier this year, the military called forward its reserve force in Kuwait, sending one battalion to Baghdad and two to Ramadi.
Last month, the yearlong deployment of the Army's Alaska-based 172nd Stryker Brigade was extended by four months to provide extra soldiers to roll back escalating sectarian violence in Baghdad.
For much of the conflict, the Army also has had to use "stop-loss orders" -- which keep soldiers in their units even after their active-duty commitments are complete -- as well as involuntary call-ups of its reservists.
Both actions have been criticized as a "back-door draft" and are unpopular with service members, many of whom say they have already done their part.
[Everybody keep saying that this is different from Vietnam, because all these guys are Volunteers. Leave Comments. Keep saying they're all Volunteers.]
"You can send Marines back for a third or fourth time, but you have to understand you are destroying their lives," said Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "It is not what they intended the all-volunteer military to look like."
Marines typically enlist for eight years. Most serve four years on active duty and then enter the reserves, either attached to units that have monthly drills or as a part of the "individual ready reserve."
The ready reserve was designed to be a pool of manpower that the Pentagon could draw on in a time of national emergency. But the Iraq war has forced the Army, and now the Marines, to rely on the ready reserve to fill holes in the combat force.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said the Marines' ready reserve call-up was an example of the wear and tear the Iraq war had inflicted on the armed services, a stress that could hurt the military in the months and years to come.
"The right way to address the issue is to increase the size of the military so you do not have to rely on the call-up of the individual ready reserve," Reed said. "We should have raised the strength of the Army and Marine Corps three years ago. It does underscore the strain that is being placed on the land forces -- the Army and the Marines."
Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has written about what he calls a military manpower crisis, argued that the involuntary call-ups were the latest sign that a larger ground force was needed. The increasing length of combat tours, the extensive use of National Guard combat units and the stop-loss orders all show the military is scrambling to meet the demands placed on it, he said.
"It is one of an avalanche of symptoms that the ground forces are overstretched by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," Kagan said. "This administration needs to understand this is not a short-term problem, and it really needs a systemic fix in the size of the ground forces."
The announcement by U.S. commanders that they are seeking new sources to meet manpower needs came as British officers told reporters in London that the 7,000-member British force could be cut in half by next year. For months, U.S. commanders also have said they want to shrink the size of their force in Iraq, a move that would reduce the strain on the military and ease the need for involuntary call-ups. But most American -- as well as British -- promises to cut troop sizes have been derailed by the continuing violence in Iraq.
Although the Marines for the most part have avoided forcing reservists to serve in Iraq against their will, volunteers have been harder to come by as the war has dragged on.
"We have been tracking our volunteer numbers for the last two years. If you tracked it on a timeline or a chart, you would see it going down," said Col. Guy A. Stratton, head of the Marine Corps' manpower mobilization plans section, who briefed reporters Tuesday on the reserve plans.
There are 138,000 U.S. troops now serving in Iraq. There are about 24,100 active-duty Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, although the bulk of that force is in Iraq's Al Anbar province.
Most Marine Corps tours in Iraq are about seven months long, whereas the Army has yearlong stints. But Marines return to combat more frequently, with as little as five or six months in the United States between rotations. The grueling schedule means some Marines already have served three tours in Iraq.
The Marines' last involuntary call-up of individual ready reserve members occurred before the initial invasion of Iraq. Although 2,658 involuntary orders were issued at the time, far fewer of those Marines ended up serving in Iraq.
Those subject to the new call-up will be drawn from a pool of 59,000 members of the individual ready reserve. The Corps will exempt Marines who are in the first and last year of their four-year reserve obligation, meaning the first call-ups will come from a pool of about 34,000 Marines.
Although it is possible that someone who had served in Iraq just a year before could be selected to return, Stratton said that when deciding whom to mobilize, the Corps would choose the reservists with fewer combat tours or those who had served overseas less recently.
The Marines estimate they are about 1,200 people short of the needed manpower in Iraq and Afghanistan. With training taking six months and deployments an average of six months more, the Marines need the authority to call up 2,500 people at a time.
Marines called from the reserves could serve a maximum of two years, although most tours are expected to last between a year and 18 months. Stratton said the authority to involuntarily call up the ready reserve would last for the duration of "a long war," the term used by U.S. military commanders to describe the war against Islamic extremism.
"What it allows us to do is tap into that part of the IRR we've not used," Stratton said, "to be able to provide that additional augmentation to our units we have out there for this rotation, the next rotation, for however long the global war on terrorism will go on."
Stratton said the manpower needs were the greatest in the fields of communications, engineering, intelligence and military policing. But he also said infantry, truck drivers, aviation mechanics and other specialists would be called up.
Reed said it was particularly disturbing that the Marines needed the ready reservists to fill holes in infantry units.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Army has mobilized 5,000 soldiers from its ready reserves. The bulk of those have been part of involuntary call-ups that began in mid-2004. The Army now has about 2,200 members of the ready reserve serving on active duty; about 1,850 of those were called involuntarily.
On Tuesday, the Army said it was not able to provide the number of soldiers serving under the stop-loss order. But during the second half of last year, there were an average of 13,178 soldiers in Iraq whose tours had been extended by the stop-loss order. The Marine Corps does not have a stop-loss order in place.
When its involuntary call-ups began in 2004, the Army encountered problems when some mobilized ready reserve members failed to appear and others were disqualified from service for medical reasons.
Stratton said Marine reservists would be given five months' notice that they were being activated. He said there would be a generous system that would allow Marines called up from the ready reserve to defer service or, in some cases, be exempted.
But Rieckhoff said that yanking Marines out of their civilian lives would be disruptive to them and their families.
"The bottom line is: Everyone is exhausted," Rieckhoff said. "It may be legal, but it is kind of like the difference between a contract and a promise. Overall we are eroding the promise made to our military."
23 August 2006
"At night when you're asleep / Into your tent I'll creep / You'll rule this land with me / 'Cause I'm the Sheikh of Araby"
The Australian (national daily / Murdoch)
Wednesday 23 August 2006
bin saving all his love
Geoff Elliott, Washington correspondent
SO that's all that was needed to catch Osama bin Laden -- a good old honey trap? No need for air raids over Tora Bora and bunker-buster bombs. Just call Whitney Houston.
In one of the more bizarre stories to emerge from the war on terror, Kola Boof, a self-advertised former sex slave of the al-Qa'ida leader, claims in her book, "Diary of a Lost Girl," that bin Laden was obsessed with the singer of I Will Always Love You.
In an excerpt to appear in the September issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine, Boof writes that bin Laden "told me Whitney was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen."
"He said that he had a paramount desire for her and although he claimed music was evil, he spoke of some day spending vast amounts of money to go to America and try to arrange a meeting," she writes.
Boof, born Naima Bint Harith, is a 37-year-old Sudanese poet and author who now lives in California. She has said previously that she was repeatedly raped and intimidated into cohabiting with bin Laden for six months in Morocco in 1996.
Her writings have led to a fatwa being issued against her. That hasn't stopped comedians having a shot at her, wondering if the fatwa has more to do with some of her other work, which included, until recently, a writing job on the US soap opera Days of our Lives.
But when it comes to bin Laden's obsession with Houston, Boof says she's not making it up.
"He said he wanted to give her a mansion he owned in a suburb of Khartoum [Sudan, confluence of Blue and White Nile].
"He would say how beautiful she is, what a nice smile she has, how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and by her husband -- Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed."
All this prompted US comedian Jeffrey Ross to muse yesterday that bin Laden must have a slow internet connection and is still downloading images from the 1980s, noting Houston's steep fall from fame to a life of reported drug dependency.
The Sheikh of Araby (1921)
lyrics: Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler
music: Ted Snyder
I'm the Sheikh of Araby,
Your love belongs to me.
At night when you're asleep
Into your tent I'll creep.
The stars that shine above,
Will light our way to love.
You'll roam this land with me,
The Sheikh of Araby.
Oh, I'm the Sheikh of Araby
And all the women worship me.
You should see them follow me around. Not bad.
Even wives of all the other sheiks,
They beg to kiss my rosy cheeks
And that ain't bad -- in fact, that's good, I've found. I'm a cad!
When I lay down to sleep
I'm counting girls instead of sheep
From my harem I can't scare 'em out. Why should I?
They're beauties from all races,
And some have pretty faces.
I'm the Sheikh who knows what love is all about.
21 August 2006
e-mail received this date
is it porn? is it Internet medicine? a hot stock tip? Asian political controversy? offer to be the silent partner and get a hefty cut of $2,300,000?
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20 August 2006
circumference of the Earth accurately.
What's odd is that it's still
one of the fastest, most efficient
ways to find Prime Numbers on a
high-speed digital computer,
invented around 1950 AD.
2200 years: Not too shabby.
Also, by definition, One is Not a Prime,
so the smallest Prime = 2.
Every positive whole number (Natural Number)
2 or larger is either Prime, or Not Prime (Composite).
Guzinta Theory is a useful math tool for this.
7 Guzinta 56 8 times
Book IX, Proposition 20
I say: *There are infinitely many Prime Numbers.*
I will write the Primes, starting with the smallest, this way:
P(1) = 2
P(2) = 3
P(3) = 5
P(4) = 7
P(5) = 11 etc etc
For my argument, I say:
which is the Largest Prime.
There is no Prime larger than P(n) .*
I make the Product of all Primes from 2 to P(n):
and then I add One, and call this number
Q = [ P(1) x P(2) x P(3) x ...
... x P(n-2) x P(n-1) x P(n) ] + 1
Q is obviously greater than P(n) .
Q is either Prime, or Not Prime (Composite).
If Q is Prime,
I have found a Prime Larger than P(n),
so P(n) was not the Largest Prime.
The only other possibility:
Q is Composite.
So Q must have a Prime Factor
by which Q can be evenly divided
(Remainder = 0).
Because I added One to the Product
of all Primes from 1 to P(n) ...
If I divide Q by 2, Remainder = 1.
So 2 is not a Prime Factor of Q.
If I divide Q by 3, Remainder = 1.
So 3 is not a Prime Factor of Q.
If I divide Q by 5, Remainder = 1.
So 5 is not a Prime Factor of Q.
and so on, until
If I divide Q by P(n-2), Remainder = 1.
So P(n-2) is not a Prime Factor of Q.
If I divide Q by P(n-1), Remainder = 1.
So P(n-1) is not a Prime Factor of Q.
If I divide Q by P(n), Remainder = 1.
So P(n) is not a Prime Factor of Q.
So the smallest Prime Factor of Q
must be Greater Than P(n) .
So P(n) was not the Largest Prime.
Whether Q is Prime or Composite,
I can always find a Prime Number larger than P(n).
So *there are infinitely many Prime Numbers.*
Which is what I set out to prove!
17 August 2006
Lebanese national army troops have been sent south to the Latani River as the first phase of securing the south of Lebanon from Hezbollah military activity directed against the northern areas of Israel. Israeli troops are returning to Israel. Eventually if the cease-fire plan holds, Lebanese national troops will be joined by United Nations "buffer" troops, most likely from (Muslim, but not Arab) Turkey.
Israeli troops continue to occupy the Golan Heights in Syria, from which Syria had previously fired artillery attacks on northern Israeli towns. Since Israelis seized Golan, the Golan Heights have become the only ski area for Israelis.
The ancient cedar forests of Lebanon provide a wood highly desireable to ancients and moderns, and is mentioned frequently in the Bible, particularly as adornment for King Solomon's / Shlomo's Temple in Jerusalem. The cedar forests on Mount Lebanon are currently undergoing a reforestation with international support.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu hunted and played in the Cedar Forest. The tree symbol is the central device of the flag of Lebanon.
The Beqaa / Bekaa Valley is renowned for extensive cannabis cultivation from which a particularly popular variety of hashish (pressed cannabis) is produced. Urged to do so by diplomatic pressure from the United States and the United Nations anti-drug agency, the government of Lebanon regularly threatens to end cannabis production in Bekaa, and sends troops to uproot the plants, but commercial production and export continue. You can sample Bekaa Valley hashish in Netherlands coffeeshops.
In peacetime and even during war and civil war, Beirut is renowned throughout the Mediterranean for its vibrant and sophisticated Paris-flavored nightclubs and nightlife. (Lebanon was a French colony/possession.) The Mediterannean beaches around Beirut are also world-class tourist destinations.
Tyre and Sidon were prominent cities of the Phoenicians, the premier sailor-merchants of the ancient Mediterranean, and inventors of the phonetic alphabet which eventually evolved into our modern European alphabets.
Phoenicians sailed beyond the Straits of Gibralter into the Atlantic and worked the tin mines of England, and a Phoenician fleet under Nekko circumnavigated the continent of Africa on a commission from the Egyptian pharoah around 2000 BC.
Phoenicians founded the city-state of Carthage, in present-day Tunis on the north African coast, and Carthage became the chief rival for control of the Mediterranean during the rise of the Roman Republic. The two Punic Wars against Carthage were named for the Phoenicians. The Roman senator Cato ended every speech, regardless of topic, with "Cartago delenda est" -- "Carthage must be destroyed." Carthage came close to defeating Rome under its general Hannibal, and for centuries Roman parents frightened their children by telling them "Hannibal's at the gates!"
After the Roman victory in the second war, the Romans sowed the agricultural fields of Carthage with sea salt, so nothing would ever grow there again. The Phoenicians and Carthaginians worshipped the god Moloch, whom ancient writers claimed demanded child sacrifices.
Under pressure from the United States, Syrian troops, whose presence had dominated the politics of Lebanon for years, withdrew from Lebanon in 2005. The Syrian government -- a one party state -- is still suspected of the car-bomb assassination of a highly popular former president of Lebanon.
16 August 2006
"The idea concerns the fact that this country [USA] wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can -- even if it's only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse -- or the man who always came to save America at the last moment -- someone always came to save America at the last moment -- especially in 'B' movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan -- and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at -- like a 'B' movie."
Will Not Be Televised
by Gil Scott-Heron
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
and Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.
There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mays
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.
There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be right back
after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, the tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.
The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.
[sound samples on this site:]
POURQUOI UN SITE SUR GIL SCOTT HERON ?
GIL SCOTT HERON est un personnage peu connu du public
français, il est pourtant un artiste majeur de la scène noire
américaine. Poète, musicien, écrivain, cet afro-américain ne manque pas de talent ! Ce site est né, d'une passion, tout d'abord pour sa musique, puis de ses lectures... Il a pour vocation de faire découvrir Gill Scott Heron, à ceux qui ne le connaissent pas encore et de donner de plus amples renseignements à ceux qui l'ont dèjà découvert. PEACE GO WITH YOU'
BAD NEWS FROM THE STARS! :
Le 6 juillet 2006 :
Gil Scott Heron a été jugé et risque entre 2 et 4 ans de prison (Queens Supreme Court - NY) pour possession de drogue et pour avoir quitté son centre de réhabilitation.
GSH est séropositif et a quitté le centre en explicant que ses médicaments ne lui étaient plus distribué.
The New York Post (NYC USA)
(Murdoch tabloid founded by Alexander Hamilton)
Thursday 6 July 2006
RADICAL MUSIC MAN
by IKIMULISA LIVINGSTON
The man who stirred the political pot during the 1970s with his song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" will be singing the blues after a judge ordered him to prison yesterday.
Gil Scott Heron, 56, a pioneer of hip-hop music, was sentenced to two to four years in Queens Supreme Court for violating a plea deal on a drug-possession charge by leaving a treatment center.
Heron said he is HIV-positive and claimed the in-patient rehab center stopped giving him his medication. But the prosecution noted Heron once skipped out for an appearance with singer Alicia Keys.
Justice Pauline Mullings could have given Heron up to six years.