Monday, March 31, 2008

And He Couldn't Be Bothered To Turn Out The Lights on Earth Day


March 31, 2008
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement today to congratulate Canada’s women’s curling team:

“On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to congratulate Canada’s women’s curling team on capturing the 2008 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship after defeating China 7-4 in Sunday’s final.

Along with all Canadians, I am extremely proud of the outstanding performance by our women’s curling team. Their exciting play throughout the tournament coupled with some close final end victories proved that Canadian players have the talent and grit to overcome adversity and emerge as champions.

Team Canada, comprised of skip Jennifer Jones, lead Dawn Askin, second Jill Officer, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, Fifth Jennifer Clark-Rouire, and coach Janet Arnott, became the first Canadian team to win the title on home ice since 1996.

We are proud that with this most recent victory, Canada has now won the Women’s World Curling Championships fifteen times, and has won medals 26 times in 30 tournaments."

Now This Was Unexpected (at least by me): Outcome of Zimbawe Election May Not Have Been Pre-Determined.

Yesterday, I made a joke (in rather poor taste I hasten to add) to the effect that no one in Vegas would take my bet on the outcome of yesterday's election in Zimbabwe. The election I assumed would be like the one posted in that great Onion story about the Diebold machines accidentally released the US Presidential Results prior to the election.I am sorry I didn't actually consult any bookies though. Woulda, shoulda,coulda, I suppose. But the great thing about Zimbabwe's recent election is not the outcome -- though it would be a wonderful thing if the true winners of the election were able to take office without bloodshed, I doubt it though -- but the election is not (yet) a pre-done deal. Whether or not Mugabe cedes his throne, for that is what we should call it, if he should have lost the election--which his party most likely has--but that the whole world will be reminded of just how nasty a son of a bitch old-school African tin pot dictator he really is.
In any event, he's stowed billions abroad and has a very nice villa in Cap Ferrat to retire gracefully from the scene. Grace, I do not think is much that we will, however, see.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

“Wil Shipley, a Seattle software developer, uses his iPhone at the Whole Foods fish counter to check websites for updates on which seafood is the most environmentally correct to purchase. He quizzes the staff on where and how a fish was caught. Because he carries the Internet with him, “I can be super-picky,” he said.”

From: stuffwhitepeoplelike

Hat Tip: Dalton48 at Mockturle

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fitna: Those Tolerant Dutch!

Yeah. That movie.

I am not sure who this speaks worse about. The maker or the subject. Actually, I know: the maker.

Is There No Rest for the Wicked: Elisabeth Nietzsche and her Brother Friedrich Likely to be Disintered by Evil Mining Company

Two gravestones stand side by side in the churchyard of the little village of Röcken, south of Leipzig: one belongs to Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the greatest and most misunderstood philosophers; the other marks the grave of his sister Elisabeth, a lifelong anti-Semite who hijacked her brother's writings after his death and used them to serve the cause of Nazism, leaving a stain on his philosophy that has never been fully erased.

Today, bulldozers belonging to a power company are preparing to dig up the town where Nietzsche and his sister were born and buried, to get at the seam of coal that runs beneath. Nietzsche and his sister may have to move.

Story here:

It wouldn't be the first time that a dead white thinker's bones have been moved.
I also understand that Kant's bones were taken from a Church in Koenigsberg by a Soviet General to his Dacha on the Volga after the Second World War as a souvenir. Alas, the world never had the benefit of ridding itself of the view of Jeremy Bentham's ugly mug. I have been given to understand that the Swiss born Rousseau is safe in The Pantheon in France. What do they say about Austria? It's the country where Hitler was born in Germany and Mozart was a native son.

A Gas of a Read from 'The Dearborn Independent' as Published by Henry Ford

Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville Beats the Anti-Semite Edison to the Recorded Sound Crunch

As many of you may know, I have a partiality to old recordings. Supposedly, they get no older than those of Thomas Edison's. (The fact that we share a birthday is purely coincidental. Another thing we share in common: neither of us invented the light bulb.) There are two interesting facts about Edison and his tin ear I want to bring up. The first is that Edison only ever thought of record and playback devices as a way to increase office efficiency. Second, when it was pointed out to Edison that people were using their phonographs to listen to music, Edison, never one to miss a business opportunity, set out to record the greatest opera singers of the time. Edison, as was his wont, made himself the ultimate judge of what a good singer sounded and summarily dismissed any singer who at all deviated from how Edison had already decided a singer should sound. Maria Callas, for example, would never have made the cut. And while people still give Edison credit for inventing recording, he didn't. Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville did. What's more, Edison's system used a roll, which you could only record on one side, and 'hill and dale' modulation, where the sound was recorded vertically rather than horizontally. Neither system gained much traction in the market but still, curiously, our winter neighbor of Henry Ford who printed at his own expense that anti-semitic rag The Dearborn Independent still managed to procure himself the credit.We also, outside of cars, do not use DC powered light bulbs either.

I won't even get to the fight wit Tesla over Direct Current. Fortunately, Edison lost the battle, but even more unfortunately Tesla was found dead and penniless in a New York Hotel room. Curiously, even though our favorite Serbian inventor supposedly committed suicide, Nikola's notebooks were never found.

You may hear Scott's original recording here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Perpetually in Motion: A Terribly Sad Story Concerning Love

Latvia 1912: Ed Leedskalnin, 26 was jilted on the eve of his wedding by his 16- year-old fiancee, Agnes Scuffs. Broken-hearted, Ed wandered, visiting Canada and Europe before settling in Florida City, near Miami.

During his wandering in Europe, Ed noticed one outstanding feature-the land was covered with castles. This gave him a romantic notion to build a castle for Agnes and to send her pictures of it in hopes that she might come to Florida and marry him. Working only from midnight to sunrise so that no one could see how he moved the great coral stones weighing more than those of the Great Pyramid, Ed built Coral Castle for Agnes. When he finished it, he gave tours, telling his visitors that he was "Waiting For Agnes."

During the late tea-time of my insomnia last night, this story touched me. Next time I am down in sunny Florida, I hope to my best to visit this monument to Ed Leedskalnin's monument to his love Agnes. More info here.

Incidentally, I also learned that the Coral Castle (which was never called that while Mr. Leedskalnin built and lived in his home is not made out of Coral, but, rather, Oolitic Limestone.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Truth Always Outs

Attention, Yet Another Film Review (two in fact): Goodbye Lenin (2003) and East of Bucharest (2006)

I saw with my father last night ‘Goodbye Lenin.’ If the term 'German Comedy' is not an oxymoron, I don't know what is. (I do know that some Bosch will object to my characterization though. A cute, sweet enough film, but the nostalgia for the former East Germany (which I can sort of understand) fell a little flat. The too often used voice over reminded me very much of that of Oskar the diminutive drummer in ‘The Tin Drum, a far better film. While the idea of having your mother missing the fall of the Berlin Wall as a result of a coma and convincing her that it was actually the 'Wessies' who were flooding into East Germany because they were tired of the ‘rat race’ was a clever enough conceit, but the film did not quite capture the horror of the state (for some at least). A much better, funnier film about the time, albeit in a different land, I thought was ‘East of Bucharest,’ a movie about a television talk show where people recount (and lie) as to where they were and what they were doing on December 23rd when the Securitate expelled and afterwards murdered Nicolae Ceauşescu, who knocked down central Bucharest to build a palace bigger than Versailles, and faked the revolution. What I particularly found fun was the absurd question that the Television host presented to his two guests, a drunken professor and a kindly old man: ‘Did our town have a Revolution or Not?’ Indeed, there was something very Ionesco about the film. Both films are worth watching, and both cover the same period, but I found the latter just that much better and that much more terrible.

Tonight, Das Boot: The Original Cut

Monday, March 24, 2008

As You May Know, I am Quite a Big Fan of Pope Benedict

But making the centerpiece of Sunday's Service the baptism of a former Muslim into the Catholic faith may be taking it a bit far. Why am I such a big fan of our former member of the Hitlerjugend is that Pope Eggs Benedict (which I rather fancy right now) seems hell bent (and I choose this phrase deliberately) of doing everything in his considerable power to alienate his followers.
More here.
And for those of you who missed that great speech our Man in Roma gave at Auschwitz last year, here it is.

A correre e cagare ci si immerda i garretti

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Also too Good to Keep to Myself

There is a rich, deep kind of irony that must be shared. I'm blogging this from the Apple store in the Mall of America, because I'm too amused to want to wait until I get back to my hotel room.

I went to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled, a few minutes ago. Well, I tried … but I was Expelled! It was kind of weird — I was standing in line, hadn't even gotten to the point where I had to sign in and show ID, and a policeman pulled me out of line and told me I could not go in. I asked why, of course, and he said that a producer of the film had specifically instructed him that I was not to be allowed to attend. The officer also told me that if I tried to go in, I would be arrested. I assured him that I wasn't going to cause any trouble.

I went back to my family and talked with them for a while, and then the officer came back with a theater manager, and I was told that not only wasn't I allowed in, but I had to leave the premises immediately. Like right that instant.

I complied.

I'm still laughing though. You don't know how hilarious this is. Not only is it the extreme hypocrisy of being expelled from their Expelled movie, but there's another layer of amusement. Deep, belly laugh funny. Yeah, I'd be rolling around on the floor right now, if I weren't so dang dignified.

You see … well, have you ever heard of a sabot? It's a kind of sleeve or lightweight carrier used to surround a piece of munition fired from a gun. It isn't the actually load intended to strike the target, but may even be discarded as it leaves the barrel.

I'm a kind of sabot right now.

They singled me out and evicted me, but they didn't notice my guest. They let him go in escorted by my wife and daughter. I guess they didn't recognize him. My guest was …

Richard Dawkins.

He's in the theater right now, watching their movie.

Tell me, are you laughing as hard as I am?



Sabot is a new word for me too.

Too Good (and True) not to Share


Other (semi-successful) Claimants to the Throne

For the Record, the following have also applied:
(I still, though have a soft spot for the Emperor Halle Selassie. How could Bob have got it wrong?)

Jewish messiah claimants

The Jewish Messiah originally meant a divinely-appointed king; David, Cyrus the Great, and Alexander the Great[1] are examples of such. Later, especially after the failure of Bar Kokhba's revolt, it came to represent a figure who would deliver the Jews from oppression and usher in a new world.

Simon (ca. 4 BC), a former slave of Herod the Great who rebelled.
Athronges (ca. 3 BC)
Judas of Galilee (?), son of Hezekiah/Ezekias, a member of the Zealots faction who led a bloody revolt against a Roman census in AD 6. (JA18)
Jesus of Nazareth (ca. 4 BC - AD 30-?), a wandering prophet and teacher who was crucified by the Romans; Jews who believed him to be the Messiah were the first Christians, also known as Jewish Christians.
Theudas (? - 46), who attempted a short-lived revolt against the Romans before being slain. (JA20.5.1)
"Egyptian Prophet", c.55, (an allusion to Moses[citation needed]), with 30,000 unarmed Jews doing The Exodus reenactment massacred by Procurator Antonius Felix (JW2.13.5, JA20.8.6, Acts 21:38)[2]
Menahem ben Judah (?), allegedly son of Judas of Galilee, partook in a revolt against Agrippa II before being slain by a rival Zealot leader.
Vespasian, c.70, according to Josephus[3]
Simon bar Kokhba (?- ca. 135), founded a short-lived Jewish state before being defeated in the Second Jewish-Roman War.
Moses of Crete (?), who in about 440-470, convinced the Jews of Crete to attempt to walk into the sea to return to Israel; he disappeared after that disaster.
Ishak ben Ya'kub Obadiah Abu 'Isa al-Isfahani (684-705), who led a revolt in Persia against the Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.
Yudghan (?), a disciple of Abu 'Isa who continued the faith after Isa was slain.
Serene (?), who around 720 claimed to be the Messiah and advocated expulsion of Muslims and relaxing various rabbinic laws before being arrested; he then recanted.
David Alroy (?), born in Kurdistan, who around 1160 agitated against the caliph before being assassinated.
Nissim ben Abraham (?), active around 1295.
Moses Botarel of Cisneros (?), active around 1413; claimed to be a sorcerer able to combine the names of God.
Asher Lemmlein (?), a German near Venice who proclaimed himself a forerunner of the Messiah in 1502.
David Reubeni (1490-1541?) and Solomon Molcho (1500-1532), adventurers who travelled in Portugal, Italy, and Turkey; Molcho was eventually burned at the stake by the Pope.
A mostly unknown Czech Jew from around the 1650s.[4]
Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676), an Ottoman Jew who claimed to be the Messiah, but then converted to Islam; still has followers today in the Donmeh.
Barukhia Russo (Osman Baba), successor of Sabbatai Zevi.
Jacob Querido (?-1690), claimed to be the new incarnation of Sabbatai; later converted to Islam and led the Donmeh.
Miguel Cardoso (1630-1706), another successor of Sabbatai who claimed to be the "Messiah ben Ephraim."
Mordecai Mokia (1650-1729), "the Rebuker," another person who proclaimed himself Messiah after Sabbatai's death.
Löbele Prossnitz (?-1750), a proven fraud who nevertheless attained some following amongst former followers of Sabbatai, calling himself the "Messiah ben Joseph."
Jacob Joseph Frank (1726-1791), who claimed to be the reincarnation of King David and preached a synthesis of Christianity and Judaism.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), a Chabad Rabbi who tried to "prepare the way" for the Messiah; some followers believe him to be the Messiah.

Christian messiah claimants
See also: Second Coming and List of people who have claimed to be Jesus
Verses in the Bible tell that Jesus will come again in some fashion; various people have claimed to, in fact, be the second coming of Jesus. Others have been styled a new Messiah still under the umbrella of Christianity.

Simon Magus and Dositheos the Samaritan[5], mid first century
Montanus, who claimed to be the promised Paraclete, mid second century
Adalbert, a bishop who claimed miraculous powers circa 744; he was excommunicated by the Pope.
Tanchelm of Antwerp (ca. 1110), who violently opposed the sacrament and the Eucharist.
Ann Lee (1736-1784), a central figure to the Shakers who thought she "embodied all the perfections of God" in female form.
John Nichols Thom (1799-1838), a Cornish tax rebel.
Hong Xiuquan of China (1812-1864), claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus.
Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), born Shiite, he claimed to be the promised one of all religions, and founded the Bahá'í Faith.
George Baker (c. 1880 – September 10, 1965), also known as Father Divine, was an African American spiritual leader from about 1907 until his death.
Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1892-1975), Messiah of the Rastafari movement. Never claimed himself to be messiah, but was proclaimed by Leonard Howell, amongst others.
Georges-Emest Roux (1903-1981), the "Christ of Montfavet," founder of the Eglise Chrétienne Universelle.
Sun Myung Moon (b. 1920), founder of the Unification Church ("Moonies"). Claims he is the Second Coming of Christ.[6][7]
Yahweh ben Yahweh (1935-2007), born as Hulon Mitchell, Jr., a black nationalist and separatist who created the Nation of Yahweh and allegedly orchestrated the murder of dozens of persons.
Iesu Matayoshi (b. 1944), in 1997 he established the World Economic Community Party based on his conviction that he is God and the Christ.
Jung Myung Seok (b. 1945), claims to be the Second Coming of Christ, founder of Providence Church, and fugitive wanted for rape among other crimes
Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (b. 1946), a Puerto Rican preacher who has claimed to be "the Man Jesus Christ", who is indwelled with the same spirit that dwelled in Jesus. Founder of the Growing in grace" ministries.
Inri Cristo (b. 1948) of Curitiba, Brazil, a claimant to be the second Jesus.
Apollo C. Quiboloy (b. 1950) Claims that Jesus Christ is the Almighty Father. He is the Appointed Son (Rev. 21:7), Says salvation is now completed. He is called "His Appointed Son" by thousands in the Philippines and now in other countries.
David Icke (b. 1952), of Great Britain, has described himself as "the son of God," and a "channel for the Christ spirit."
David Koresh (Vernon Wayne Howell) (1959-1993), leader of the Branch Davidians.
Maria Devi Christos (b. 1960), founder of the Great White Brotherhood.
Sergei Torop (b. 1961) who started to call himself "Vissarion," founder of the Church of the Last Testament and the spiritual community Ecopolis Tiberkul in Southern Siberia.
David Shayler (b. 1965) ("Righteous Chav") who declared himself the Messiah in 2007.

Muslim messiah claimants
People claiming to be the Mahdi
Islamic tradition has a prophecy of the Mahdi, who will come alongside the return of Isa (Jesus).

Syed Mohammad Jaunpuri (1443-1505), who travelled Northeastern India; he influenced the Mahdavia and the Zikris.
Báb (1819-1850), who declared himself to be the promised Mahdi in Shiraz, Iran in 1844.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, 'the Promised Messiah' return of Jesus as well as the 'Mahdi', founder of the Ahmadiyya religious movement. He preached that Jesus christ had survived crucifixion and died a natural death. Interestingly he was the only person to have claimed to be both, the promised return of Jesus as well as the promised Mahdi.
Muhammad Ahmad ("The Mad Mahdi") (1844-1885), who declared himself the Mahdi in 1881, defeated the Ottomans, and founded a short-lived empire in Sudan.
Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (1864-1920) of Somaliland, who engaged in military conflicts from 1900 to 1920.
Rashad Khalifa (1935-1990), a numerologist who analyzed the Qu'ran; claimed to be the "Messenger of the Covenant" and founded the "Submitters International" movement before being murdered.
Juhayman al-Otaibi (1936-1980), who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca in November 1979 and declared his son-in-law the Mahdi.

Other/combination messiah claimants
This list features people who are said, either by themselves or their followers, to be some form of a messiah that do not easily fit into only Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

André Matsoua (1899-1942), Congolese founder of Amicale, proponents of which subsequently adopted him as Messiah.
World Teacher (unknown), claims to be the Maitreya and promised one of all religions; promoted by New Age activist Benjamin Creme and his organization, Share International.
Rael, leader of the Raelian Movement (born 30 September 1946); Rael took on his mission as Messiah in 1973 after a claimed meeting with an extraterrestrial being.
Nirmala Srivastava, guru and goddess of Sahaja Yoga, has proclaimed herself to be the Comforter promised by Jesus ie the incarnation of the Holy Ghost (Adi Shakti).[8][9]

How to Calculate Easter, In Case You Needed to Know (Shamelessly plagiarized from Wikipedia)

Personally, I am still waiting on Mashiach. Rabbi Sneerson, as was the Sabbatai_Zevi, not to mention Mohammed, were all great personal dissapointments.


Computus (Latin for computation) is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age.

The canonical rule is that Easter day is the first Sunday after the 14th day of the lunar month (the nominal full moon) that falls on or after 21 March (nominally the day of the vernal equinox). For determining the feast, Christian churches settled on a method to define a reckoned "ecclesiastical" full moon, rather than observations of the true Moon as the Jews did at the time. Eastern Orthodox Christians calculate the fixed date of 21 March according to the Julian Calendar rather than the modern Gregorian Calendar, and observe the additional rule that Easter may not precede or coincide with the first day of the Jewish Passover.

Easter controversy
Easter is the most important Christian feast. Accordingly, the proper date of its celebration has been a cause of much controversy, at least as early as the meeting (c. 154) of Anicetus, bishop of Rome, and Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. The problem for Christians using the Roman civil Julian calendar, which is a solar calendar, was that the passion and resurrection of Jesus occurred during the Jewish feast of Passover, which Jews celebrate according to the Hebrew lunisolar calendar, and fixing the date by the Roman calendar would lead to the celebration of Easter at times unrelated to the Jewish observance of Passover.

At the First Council of Nicaea in 325, it was agreed that the Christians should use a common method to establish the date, independent from the Jewish method.[1] It was also decided to celebrate it always on the dies Domini, Sunday, the day of the week on which Jesus was resurrected, which has been the Christian holy day of the week for this reason (the Quartodecimans wished to follow the Jews and always celebrate it on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, whatever day of the week that might be).[2] However, they made few decisions that were of practical use as guidelines for the computation, and it took several centuries before a common method was accepted throughout Christianity.

The method from Alexandria became authoritative. It was based on the epacts of a reckoned moon according to the 19-year cycle. Such a cycle was first used by Bishop Anatolius of Laodicea (in present-day Syria), c. 277. The Alexandrians may have derived their method from a similar calendar, based on the Egyptian civil solar calendar, used by the Jewish community there; it survives in the Ethiopian computus. Alexandrian Easter tables were composed by Bishop Theophilus about 390 and within the bishopric of Cyril about 444. In Constantinople, several computists were active over the centuries after Anatolius (and after the Nicaean Council), but their Easter dates coincided with those of the Alexandrians. Churches on the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire deviated from the Alexandrians during the sixth century, and now celebrate Easter on different dates from Eastern Orthodox churches four times every 532 years. The Alexandrian computus was converted from the Alexandrian calendar into the Julian calendar in Rome by Dionysius Exiguus, though only for 95 years. Dionysius introduced the Christian Era (counting years from the Incarnation of Christ) when he published new Easter tables in 525.[3][4]

Dionysius's tables replaced earlier methods used by the Church of Rome. The earliest known Roman tables were devised in 222 by Hippolytus of Rome based on 8-year cycles. Then 84-year tables were introduced in Rome by Augustalis near the end of the third century. These old tables were used in the British Isles until 664, and by isolated monasteries as late as 931. A modified 84-year cycle was adopted in Rome during the first half of the fourth century. Victorius of Aquitaine tried to adapt the Alexandrian method to Roman rules in 457 in the form of a 532-year table, but he introduced serious errors.[5] These Victorian tables were used in Gaul (now France) and Spain until they were displaced by Dionysian tables at the end of the eighth century.

In the British Isles Dionysius's and Victorius's tables conflicted with older Roman tables based on an 84-year cycle. The Irish Synod of Mag Léne in 631 decided in favor of either the Dionysian or Victorian Easter and the British Synod of Whitby in 664 adopted the Dionysian tables. The Dionysian reckoning was fully described by Bede in 725.[6] They may have been adopted by Charlemagne for the Frankish Church as early as 782 from Alcuin, a follower of Bede. The Dionysian/Bedan computus remained in use in Western Europe until the Gregorian calendar reform, which was mostly designed by Aloysius Lilius.

The solar year is reckoned to always have 365 days (excluding a small remainder). A lunar year of 12 months is reckoned to have 354 days, meaning the average lunation is 29½ days (excluding another small remainder). The solar year is 11 days longer than the lunar year. Supposing a solar and lunar year start on the same day, with a crescent new moon indicating the beginning of a new lunar month on 1 January, then the lunar year will finish first, and 11 days of the new lunar year will have already passed by the time the new solar year starts. After two years, the difference will have accumulated to 22: the start of lunar months fall 11 days earlier in the solar calendar each year. These days in excess of the solar year over the lunar year are called epacts (Greek: epakta hèmerai). It is necessary to add them to the day of the solar year to obtain the correct day in the lunar year. Whenever the epact reaches or exceeds 30, an extra (so-called embolismic or intercalary) month has to be inserted into the lunar calendar; then 30 has to be subtracted from the epact.

Note that leap days are not counted in the schematic lunar calendar: they are a device to match the calendar year to the tropical year, and can be ignored when dealing with the relation between years and lunations. The nineteen-year cycle (Metonic cycle) assumes that 19 tropical years are as long as 235 synodic months. So after 19 years the lunations should fall the same way in the solar years, and the epacts should repeat. However, 19 × 11 = 209 ≡ 29 (mod 30), not 0 (mod 30); that is, 209 divided by 30 leaves a remainder of 29 instead of being an even multiple of 30. So after 19 years, the epact must be corrected by +1 day in order for the cycle to repeat. This is the so-called saltus lunae. The extra 209 days fill seven embolismic months, for a total of 19 × 12 + 7 = 235 lunations. The sequence number of the year in the 19-year cycle is called the "Golden Number", and is given by the formula

GN = Y mod 19 + 1
That is, the remainder of the year number Y in the Christian era when divided by 19, plus one.[7]

Tabular methods

Gregorian calendar
This method for the computation of the date of Easter was introduced with the Gregorian calendar reform in 1582.[8]

First determine the epact for the year. The epact can have a value from "*" (=0 or 30) to 29 days. The first day of a lunar month is considered the day of the new moon. The 14th day is considered the day of the full moon.

The epacts for the current Metonic cycle are:

Year 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Epact[9] 29 10 21 2 13 24 5 16 27 8 19 * 11 22 3 14 25 6 17
full moon[10] 14A 3A 23M 11A 31M 18A 8A 28M 16A 5A 25M 13A 2A 22M 10A 30M 17A 7A 27M

(M=March, A=April)

This table can be extended for previous and following 19-year periods, and is valid from 1900 to 2199.

The epacts are used to find the dates of New Moon in the following way: Write down a table of all 365 days of the year (the leap day is ignored). Then label all dates with a Roman number counting downwards, from "*" (= 0 or 30), "xxix" (29), down to "i" (1), starting from January 1, and repeat this to the end of the year. However, in every second such period count only 29 days and label the date with xxv (25) also with xxiv (24). Treat the 13th period (last eleven days) as long, though, and assign the labels "xxv" and "xxiv" to sequential dates (December 26 and 27, respectively). Finally, in addition, add the label "25" to the dates that have "xxv" in the 30-day periods; but in 29-day periods (which have "xxiv" together with "xxv") add the label "25" to the date with "xxvi". The distribution of the lengths of the months and the length of the epact cycles is such that each month starts and ends with the same epact label, except for February and for the epact labels xxv and 25 in July and August. This table is called the calendarium. If the epact for the year is for instance 27, then there is an ecclesiastical New Moon on every date in that year that has the epact label xxvii (27).

Also label all the dates in the table with letters "A" to "G", starting from 1 January, and repeat to the end of the year. If, for instance, the first Sunday of the year is on 5 January, which has letter E, then every date with the letter "E" will be a Sunday that year. Then "E" is called the Dominical letter for that year (from Latin: dies domini, day of the Lord). The Dominical Letter cycles backward one position every year. However, in leap years after February 24 the Sundays will fall on the previous letter of the cycle, so leap years have 2 Dominical Letters: the first for before, the second for after the leap day.

In practice, for the purpose of calculating Easter, this need not be done for all 365 days of the year. For the epacts, you will find that March comes out exactly the same as January, so one need not calculate January or February. To also avoid the need to calculate the Dominical Letters for January and February, start with D for 1 March. You need the epacts only from 8 March to 5 April. This gives rise to the following table:

A table from Sweden to compute the date of Easter 1140-1671 according to the Julian calendar. Notice the runic writing.Label March DL April DL
* 1 D
xxix 2 E 1 G
xxviii 3 F 2 A
xxvii 4 G 3 B
xxvi 5 A 4 C
25 6 B 4 C
xxv 6 B 5 D
xxiv 7 C 5 D
xxiii 8 D 6 E
xxii 9 E 7 F
xxi 10 F 8 G
xx 11 G 9 A
xix 12 A 10 B
xviii 13 B 11 C
xvii 14 C 12 D
xvi 15 D 13 E
xv 16 E 14 F
xiv 17 F 15 G
xiii 18 G 16 A
xii 19 A 17 B
xi 20 B 18 C
x 21 C 19 D
ix 22 D 20 E
viii 23 E 21 F
vii 24 F 22 G
vi 25 G 23 A
v 26 A 24 B
iv 27 B 25 C
iii 28 C
ii 29 D
i 30 E
* 31 F

Example: If the epact is, for instance, 27 (Roman xxvii), then there will be an ecclesiastical new moon on every date that has the label "xxvii". The ecclesiastical full moon falls 13 days later. From the table above, this gives a new moon on 4 March and 3 April, and so a full moon on 17 March and 16 April.

Then Easter Day is the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon on or after 21 March.

In the example, this Paschal full moon is on 16 April. If the dominical letter is E, then Easter day is on 20 April.

The label 25 (as distinct from "xxv") is used as follows: Within a Metonic cycle, years that are 11 years apart have epacts that differ by 1 day. Now short months have the labels xxiv and xxv at the same date, so if the epacts 24 and 25 both occur within one Metonic cycle, then in the short months the new (and full) moons would fall on the same dates for these two years. This is not actually possible for the real Moon: the dates should repeat only after 19 years. To avoid this, in years that have epacts 25 and with a Golden Number larger than 11, the reckoned new moon will fall on the date with the label "25" rather than "xxv". In long months, these are the same; in short ones, this is the date which also has the label "xxvi". This does not move the problem to the pair "25" and "xxvi," because that would happen only in year 22 of the cycle, which lasts only 19 years: there is a saltus lunae in between that makes the new moons fall on separate dates.

The Gregorian calendar has a correction to the solar year by dropping three leap days in 400 years (always in a century year). This is a correction to the length of the solar year, but should have no effect on the Metonic relation between years and lunations. Therefore the epact is compensated for this (partially—see epact) by subtracting 1 in these century years. This is the so-called solar equation.

However, 19 uncorrected Julian years are a little longer than 235 lunations. The difference accumulates to one day in about 310 years. Therefore, in the Gregorian calendar, the epact gets corrected by adding one eight times in 2500 (Gregorian) years, always in a century year: this is the so-called lunar equation. The first one was applied in 1800, and it will be applied every 300 years except for an interval of 400 years between 3900 and 4300, which starts a new cycle.

The solar and lunar equations work in opposite directions, and in some century years (for example, 1800 and 2100) they cancel each other. However, it is a bad idea to combine them and make more evenly spread and less frequent epact corrections, as will be explained below. The result of the correct procedure is that the Gregorian lunar calendar uses an epact table that is valid for a period of from 100 to 300 years. The epact table listed above is valid for the period 1900 to 2199.

This method of computation has several subtleties:

Every second lunar month has only 29 days, so one day must have two (of the 30) epact labels assigned to it. The reason for moving around the epact label "xxv/25" rather than any other seems to be the following: According to Dionysius (in his introductory letter to Petronius), the Nicene council, on the authority of Eusebius, established that the first month of the ecclesiastical lunar year (the Paschal month) should start between 8 March and 5 April inclusive, and the 14th day fall between 21 March and 18 April inclusive, thus spanning a period of (only) 29 days. A new moon on 7 March, which has epact label xxiv, has its 14th day (full moon) on 20 March, which is too early (before the equinox date). So years with an epact of xxiv would have their Paschal new moon on 6 April, which is too late: the full moon would fall on 19 April, and Easter could be as late as 26 April. In the Julian calendar the latest date of Easter was 25 April, and the Gregorian reform maintained that limit. So the Paschal full moon must fall no later than 18 April and the new moon on 5 April, which has epact label xxv. The short month must therefore have its double epact labels on 5 April: xxiv and xxv. Then epact xxv has to be treated differently, as explained in the paragraph above.

As a consequence, 19 April is the date on which Easter falls most frequently in the Gregorian calendar: in about 3.87% of the years. 22 March is the least frequent, with 0.48%.

Distribution of the date of Easter for the complete 5,700,000 year cycle.The relation between lunar and solar calendar dates is made independent of the leap day scheme for the solar year. Basically the Gregorian calendar still uses the Julian calendar with a leap day every four years, so a Metonic cycle of 19 years has 6940 or 6939 days with five or four leap days. Now the lunar cycle counts only 19 × 354 + 19 × 11 = 6935 days. By not labeling and counting the leap day with an epact number, but having the next new moon fall on the same calendar date as without the leap day, the current lunation gets extended by a day, and the 235 lunations cover as many days as the 19 years. So the burden of synchronizing the calendar with the moon (intermediate-term accuracy) is shifted to the solar calendar, which may use any suitable intercalation scheme; all under the assumption that 19 solar years = 235 lunations (long-term inaccuracy). A consequence is that the reckoned age of the moon may be off by a day, and also that the lunations which contain the leap day may be 31 days long, which would never happen when the real Moon were followed (short-term inaccuracies). This is the price for a regular fit to the solar calendar.

However, there is some protection of the lunar calendar against the errors of the solar calendar. The leap days are not inserted in an optimal way to keep the calendar synchronized to the solar year. The corrections to the leap day scheme are limited to century years, and add two nested intercalation cycles (100 and 400 years) around the four-year cycle. Each cycle accumulates an error, and they add up to more than two days. So in the Gregorian calendar, the actual dates of the vernal equinox are scattered over a time window of about 53 hours around 20 March. This may be acceptable for a calendar period of a year, but is too much for a monthly period. By separating the "solar equation" from the "lunar equation", this jitter is not carried to the lunar calendar. If we were to combine the solar and lunar equations and spread the net 4×8 - 3×25= 43 epact subtractions in 10,000 years evenly, then the solar jitter would also affect the lunar calendar, which would be unsatisfactory.

Besides the jitter in the solar calendar, there are also some flaws in the Gregorian lunar calendar (also see D.Roegel 2004 [1]). However, they have no effect on the Paschal month and the date of Easter:

Lunations of 31 (and sometimes 28) days occur.
If a year with Golden Number 19 happens to have epact 19, then the last ecclesiastical new moon falls on 2 December; the next would be due on 1 January. However, at the start of the new year there is a saltus lunae which increases the epact by another unit, and the new moon should have occurred on the previous day. So a new moon is missed. The calendarium of the Missale Romanum takes account of this by assigning epact label "19" instead of "20" to 31 December of such a year. It happened every 19 years when the original Gregorian epact table was in effect (for the last time in AD 1690), and will not happen again until AD 8511.
If the epact of a year is "20", then there will be an ecclesiastical new moon on 31 December. If that year falls before a century year, then in most cases there will be a "solar equation" correction which reduces the epact for the new year by one: the resulting epact "*" means that another ecclesiastical new moon is counted on 1 January; so formally a lunation of one day has passed. This will happen around the beginning of AD 4200.
Other borderline cases occur (much) later, and if the rules are followed strictly and these cases are not specially treated, they will generate successive new moon dates that are 1, 28, 59, or (very rarely) 58 days apart.
A careful analysis shows that through the way they are used and corrected in the Gregorian calendar, the epacts are actually fractions of a lunation (1/30, also known as tithi) and not full days. See epact for a discussion.

The solar and lunar equations repeat after 4 × 25 = 100 centuries. In that period, the epact has changed by a total of −1 × (3/4) × 100 + 1 × (8/25) × 100 = −43 ≡ 17 mod 30. This is prime to the 30 possible epacts, so it takes 100 × 30 = 3000 centuries before the epacts repeat; and 3000 × 19 = 57,000 centuries before the epacts repeat at the same Golden Number. This period has (5,700,000/19) × 235 + (−43/30) × (57,000/100) = 70,499,183 lunations. So the Gregorian Easter dates repeat in exactly the same order only after 5,700,000 years = 70,499,183 lunations = 2,081,882,250 days. However, the calendar will already have to have been adjusted after some millennia because of changes in the length of the vernal equinox year, the synodic month, and the day.

Julian calendar
The method for computing the date of the ecclesiastical full moon that was standard for the Roman (Catholic) church before the Gregorian calendar reform, and is still used today by Eastern Christians, made use of an uncorrected repetition of the 19-year Metonic cycle in combination with the Julian calendar. In terms of the method of the epacts discussed above, it effectively used a single epact table starting with an epact of * (0), which was never corrected. In this case, the epact was counted on 22 March, the earliest acceptable date for Easter. This repeats every 19 years, so there were only 19 possible dates for the ecclesiastical full moons after 21 March.

The sequence number of a year in the 19-year cycle is called its Golden Number. This term was first used in the computistic poem Massa Compoti by Alexander de Villa Dei in 1200. A later scribe added it to tables originally composed by Abbo of Fleury in 988.

This is the table:

Golden Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Full moon 5A 25M 13A 2A 22M 10A 30M 18A 7A 27M 15A 4A 24M 12A 1A 21M 9A 29M 17A

(M=March, A=April)

Easter day is the first Sunday after these dates.

So for a given date of the ecclesiastical full moon, there are seven possible Easter dates. The cycle of Sunday letters, however, does not repeat in seven years: because of the interruptions of the leap day every 4 years, the full cycle in which weekdays recur in the calendar in the same way, is 4 × 7 = 28 years, the so-called solar cycle. So the Easter dates repeated in the same order after 4 × 7 × 19 = 532 years. This Paschal cycle is also called the Victorian cycle, after Victorius of Aquitaine, who introduced it in Rome in AD 457. It is first known to have been used by Annianus of Alexandria at the beginning of the fifth century. It has also sometimes erroneously been called the Dionysian cycle, after Dionysius Exiguus, who prepared Easter tables that started in AD 532; but he apparently did not realize that the Alexandrian computus which he described had a 532-year cycle, although he did realize that his 95-year table was not a true cycle. Venerable Bede (7th century) seems to have been the first to identify the solar cycle and explain the Paschal cycle from the Metonic cycle and the solar cycle.


Gauss's algorithm
This algorithm for calculating the date of Easter Sunday was first presented by the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss:

The number of the year is denoted by Y; mod denotes the remainder of integer division (e.g., 13 mod 5 ≡ 3; see modular arithmetic). Calculate first a, b, and c:

a = Y mod 19
b = Y mod 4
c = Y mod 7
Then calculate

d = (19a + M) mod 30
e = (2b + 4c + 6d + N) mod 7
For the Julian calendar (used in Eastern churches), M = 15 and N = 6, and for the Gregorian calendar (used in Western churches), M and N are from the following table:

Years M N
1583-1699 22 2
1700-1799 23 3
1800-1899 23 4
1900-2099 24 5
2100-2199 24 6
2200-2299 25 0

If d + e < 10 then Easter is on the (d + e + 22)th of March, and is otherwise on the (d + e − 9)th of April.

The following exceptions must be taken into account:

If the date given by the formula is 26 April, Easter is on 19 April.
If the date given by the formula is 25 April, with d = 28, e = 6, and a > 10, Easter is on 18 April.

Meeus/Jones/Butcher Gregorian algorithm
This algorithm for calculating the date of Easter Sunday is given by Jean Meeus in his book Astronomical Algorithms (1991), which in turn cites Spencer Jones in his book General Astronomy (1922) and also the Journal of the British Astronomical Association (1977). This algorithm also appears in The Old Farmer's Almanac (1977), p. 69. The JBAA cites Butcher's Ecclesiastical Calendar (1876).

The method is valid for all Gregorian years and has no exceptions and requires no tables.

Notation is as for the Gauss Algorithm above: all quotients are truncated to integers, thus 7 / 3 = floor(7 / 3) = 2 (not 2 1/3), and 7 mod 3 = 1.

Worked example
Year(Y) = 1961 Worked example
Year(Y) = 2008
a = Y mod 19 1961 mod 19 = 4 2008 mod 19 = 13
b = Y / 100 1961 / 100 = 19 2008 / 100 = 20
c = Y mod 100 1961 mod 100 = 61 2008 mod 100 = 8
d = b / 4 19 / 4 = 4 20 / 4 = 5
e = b mod 4 19 mod 4 = 3 20 mod 4 = 0
f = (b + 8) / 25 (19 + 8) / 25 = 1 (20 + 8) / 25 = 1
g = (b - f + 1) / 3 (19 - 1 + 1) / 3 = 6 (20 - 1 + 1) / 3 = 6
h = (19 × a + b - d - g + 15) mod 30 (19 × 4 + 19 - 4 - 6 + 15) mod 30 = 10 (19 × 13 + 20 - 5 - 6 + 15) mod 30 = 1
i = c / 4 61 / 4 = 15 8 / 4 = 2
k = c mod 4 61 mod 4 = 1 8 mod 4 = 0
L = (32 + 2 × e + 2 × i - h - k) mod 7 (32 + 2 × 3 + 2 × 15 - 10 - 1) mod 7 = 1 (32 + 2 × 0 + 2 × 2 - 1 - 0) mod 7 = 0
m = (a + 11 × h + 22 × L) / 451 (4 + 11 × 10 + 22 × 1) / 451 = 0 (13 + 11 × 1 + 22 × 0) / 451 = 0
month = (h + L - 7 × m + 114) / 31 (10 + 1 - 7 × 0 + 114) / 31 = 4 (April) (1 + 0 - 7 × 0 + 114) / 31 = 3 (March)
day = ((h + L - 7 × m + 114) mod 31) + 1 (10 + 1 - 7 × 0 + 114) mod 31 + 1 = 2 (1 + 0 - 7 × 0 + 114) mod 31 + 1 = 23
2 April 1961 23 March 2008

Meeus Julian algorithm
Jean Meeus, in his book Astronomical Algorithms (1991), also presents the following formula for calculating Easter Sunday in Julian years.

The method is valid for all Julian years and has no exceptions and requires no tables.

Notation is as for the Gauss Algorithm above: all values are integers, thus 7 / 3 = 2 (not 2 1/3), and 7 mod 3 = 1.

a = Y mod 4
b = Y mod 7
c = Y mod 19
d = (19 × c + 15) mod 30
e = (2 × a + 4 × b - d + 34) mod 7
month = (d + e + 114) / 31
day = ((d + e + 114) mod 31) + 1

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why Does Everything Have to Be Closed Today; How Can this be a Good Friday?

It's not often in this assimilated country -- a multi-cultural salad it was once explained to me -- I live in that I feel the outsider, but today is one of those days.

I can't pick up my wife's car from the shop or buy berries for my father at the local supermarket.I suppose I should be grateful that there are so few days like this in the calendar, but nonetheless, ungrateful heathen that I am, I am still annoyed. And all this over a crucifixion? At least the weather couldn't be better.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Die Fälscher: Must See

I had heard this story before as well as of the Nazi gold and printing presses lying at the bottom of the mysterious lake Toplitz in Austria. And while this was not a 'German' film about the holocaust, it was an Austrian one and the first I have seen by either Austria or Germany on the holocaust. (Did you know the joke that in Austria Hitler is a German and Mozart an Austrian.) That said, the Germans really do a far better job at examining their awful twentieth century in books and films than any of the victor nations. The Tin Drum, Das Boot, Sophie Scholl, and Downfall, to name a few, have not so far as I have experienced been matched. (Special mention should go to the Finnish The Winter War) and I have not seen enough Soviet Cinema to comment.)The scenes in Mauthausen in Die Fälscher were particularly poignant for me. I visited Mauthausen, along the Austrian/Slovenian border, many years ago and found myself simply unable to connect the atrocities committed there with the weather damaged make shift buildings and boarded walks that I tread on that beautiful Austrian summer day in the mountains. Afterwards, we descended the hill to a local tavern for bone soup and a plate of cold meats, fine potato salad and very good beer. And then it dawned on me, the tavern was far older than the camp and I was sitting at a table that Officers of the camp would have drank at in their off hours. After seeing Die Fälscher I poked around on the net a bit to see how true the film was. It was.

IMDB entry here.

Small European World:

A German fighter ace has just learned that one of his 28 wartime 'kills' was his favourite author.

Messerschmidt pilot Horst Rippert, 88, said he would have held his fire if he had known the man flying the Lightning fighter was renowned French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

The fliers clashed in the skies over southern France in July 1944.

I have heard of these stories before. I remember hearing about an WWII RAF Pilot visiting a family in Germany. Unusually, the topic of the war came up and what they did in the war. The head of the German family was also a pilot in the war. After retrieving his log books, they realized that they had first met in the air over the channel.

More here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

John Gray on the Atheism that I grew up With

Zealous atheism renews some of the worst features of Christianity and Islam. Just as much as these religions, it is a project of universal conversion. Evangelical atheists never doubt that human life can be transformed if everyone accepts their view of things, and they are certain that one way of living - their own, suitably embellished - is right for everybody. To be sure, atheism need not be a missionary creed of this kind. It is entirely reasonable to have no religious beliefs, and yet be friendly to religion. It is a funny sort of humanism that condemns an impulse that is peculiarly human. Yet that is what evangelical atheists do when they demonise religion.

The full article is here.

Did You Know That Arthur C. Clark Was the First Person to Propose Geostationary Sattelites? I didn't.

page 58 Wireless World February 1945

Letters to the Editor
Peacetime Uses for V2
V2 for Ionosphere Research?

ONE of the most important branches of radio physics is ionospheric research and until now all our knowledge of conditions in the ionosphere has been deduced from transmission and echo experiments. One of the more modest claims of the British Interplanetary Society was that rockets could be used for very high altitude investigations and it will not have escaped your readers' notice that the German long-range rocket projectile known as V2 passes through the E layer on its way from the Continent. If it were fired vertically without westward deviation it could reach the F1 and probably the F2 layer. The implications of this are obvious: we can now send instruments of all kinds into the ionosphere and by transmitting their readings back to ground stations obtain information which could not possibly be learned in any other way. Since the weight of instruments would only be a few pounds--as compared with V2's payload of 2,000 pounds--the rocket required would be quite a small one. Its probable take-off weight would be one or two tons, most of this being relatively cheap alcohol and liquid oxygen. A parachute device (besides being appreciated by the public!) would enable the rocket to be re-used.

This is an immediate post-war research project, but an even more interesting one lies a little farther ahead. A rocket which can reach a speed of 8 km/sec parallel to the earth's surface would continue to circle it for ever in a closed orbit; it would become an ``artificial satellite.'' V2 can only reach a third of this speed under the most favourable conditions, but if its payload consisted of a small one-ton rocket, this upper component could reach the required velocity with a payload of about 100 pounds. It would thus be possible to have a hundredweight. of instruments circling the earth perpetually outside the limits of the atmosphere and broadcasting information as long as the batteries lasted. Since the rocket would be in brilliant sunlight for half the time, the operating period might be indefinitely prolonged by the use of thermocouples and photo-electric elements.

Both of these developments demand nothing new in the way of technical resources; the first and probably the second should come within the next five or ten years. However, I would like to close by mentioning a possibility of the more remote future--perhaps half a century ahead.

An ``artificial satellite'' at the correct distance from the earth would make one revolution every 24 hours; i.e., it would remain stationary above the same spot and would be within optical range of nearly half the earth's surface. Three repeater stations, 120 degrees apart in the correct orbit, could give television and microwave coverage to the entire planet. I'm afraid this isn't going to be of the slightest use to our post-war planners, but I think it is the ultimate solution to the problem.

British Interplanetary Society

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kettle, Pot on Line 2: From The Tehran Times

Trying Israeli war criminals

Israel can commit no crime, and a criticism of the Jewish state’s policies amounts to anti-Semitism. This is the fundamental principle on which those who run today’s world operate. Thus to expect the world to try Israelis for war crimes, as demanded by the OIC secretary general, is to ask for the moon.


What the Zionists have been guilty of since the very founding of the state of Israel in 1948 and even under the ‘mandate’ amounts to ethnic cleansing, massacres, the flattening of Arab villages, confiscation of Palestinian property running into billions of dollars (which are still used to finance the Jews’ migration to Israel), destruction of Palestinian farms and orchards, and the diversion of water to Jewish settlements. Deir Yassin was just one of the massacres. Those involved in these crimes were such ‘holy’ names as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Rafael Eaton and many more.

The western world has no interest in trying them, because those who planted Israel in the heart of the Arab-Islamic world have a geopolitical and economic interest in its existence. If the Israeli war criminals are to be given justice to ease the anguish of the Palestinians, an OIC court set up for trying them may not achieve much. The OIC could do more by showing solidarity with the Palestinians and strengthening their hands politically, economically and strategically to resist Israeli oppression.

Borat was right after all....

Ron Paul (that Paleo-Liberal-Conservative) on the Ness Mess (worth reading)

"Madam Speaker, it has been said that 'he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.' And in the case of Eliot Spitzer, this couldn't be more true. In his case it's the political sword, as his enemies rejoice in his downfall. Most people, it seems, believe he got exactly what he deserved.

"The illegal tools of the state brought Spitzer down, but think of all the harm done by Spitzer in using the same tools against so many other innocent people. He practiced what could be termed 'economic McCarthyism,' using illegitimate government power to build his political career on the ruined lives of others.

"No matter how morally justified his comeuppance may be, his downfall demonstrates the worst of our society. The possibility of uncovering personal moral wrongdoing is never a justification for the government to spy on our every move and to participate in sting operations.

"For government to entice a citizen to break a law with a sting operation — that is, engaging in activities that a private citizen is prohibited by law from doing — is unconscionable and should clearly be illegal.

"Though Spitzer used the same tools to destroy individuals charged with economic crimes that ended up being used against him, gloating over his downfall should not divert our attention from the fact that the government spying on American citizens is unworthy of a country claiming respect for liberty and the Fourth Amendment.

"Two wrongs do not make a right. Two wrongs make it doubly wrong.

"Sacrifice of our personal privacy has been ongoing for decades but has rapidly accelerated since 9/11. Before 9/11, the unstated goal of collecting revenue was the real reason for the erosion of our financial privacy. When 19 suicidal maniacs attacked us on 9/11, our country became convinced that further sacrifice of personal and financial privacy was required for our security.

"The driving force behind this ongoing sacrifice of our privacy has been fear and the emotional effect of war rhetoric — war on drugs, war against terrorism and the war against Third World nations in the Middle East who are claimed to be the equivalent to Hitler and Nazi Germany.

"But the real reason for all this surveillance is to build the power of the state. It arises from a virulent dislike of free people running their own lives and spending their own money. Statists always demand control of the people and their money.

"Recently we've been told that this increase in the already intolerable invasion of our privacy was justified because the purpose was to apprehend terrorists. We were told that the massive amounts of information being collected on Americans would only be used to root out terrorists. But as we can see today, this monitoring of private activities can also be used for political reasons. We should always be concerned when the government accumulates information on innocent citizens.

"Spitzer was brought down because he legally withdrew cash from a bank — not because he committed a crime. This should prompt us to reassess and hopefully reverse this trend of pervasive government intrusion in our private lives.

"We need no more Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act! No more Violent Radicalization & Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Acts! No more torture! No more Military Commissions Act! No more secret prisons and extraordinary rendition! No more abuse of habeas corpus! No more Patriot Acts!

"What we need is more government transparency and more privacy for the individual!"

Great Moments in Financial Reporting: BS on Bear Stearns

Hat Tip: Someone who should know, Mr. Netscape

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You Know Things Are Bad in Tibet When Monks Rebel

The awful story is here.

And just why did China go to all the trouble to build one of the longest, most expensive, and complicated railways (much of which will have Bombardier rolling stock running on it) to Tibet? For the very same reason that Hitler created the Autobahns and the US the Interstates: to get the army and its materiel to any part of the country fast. Thank God the Russians used a different sized rail gauge than the Deutsche Reichsbahn. Everything had to be bigger in Russia, including the casualties.

Friday, March 14, 2008

More Ness Mess: Life lessons from Client #9

Life lessons from Client #9
from by Marc Andreessen

In a interview two years ago, [Eliot] Spitzer, then-attorney general [and now governor, at least for the next few minutes], told ABC News he had some advice for people who break the law.

"Never talk when you can nod, and never nod when you can wink, and never write an email because it's death. You're giving prosecutors all the evidence we need," he said.

[Source: ABC News.]

At approximately 8:12 p.m... LEWIS [the madam] received a call from Client-9 [Spitzer]. During the call, LEWIS told Client-9 that the "package" [cash] did not arrive today. LEWIS asked Client-9 if there was a return address on the envelope, and Client-9 said no. LEWIS asked: "You had [the correct address]...," and Client-9 said: "Yup, same as in the past, no question about it." LEWIS asked Client-9 what time he was interested in having the appointment [illegal hooker sex] tomorrow. Client-9 told her 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m...

At approximately 8:23 p.m., LEWIS called Client-9, and told him that the [her boss] said he [Spitzer] could not proceed with the appointment [illegal hooker sex] with his available credit. After discussing ways to resolve the situation, LEWIS and Client-9 I agreed to speak the following day...

At approximately 3:20 p.m... LEWIS... received a call from Client-9. During the call, LEWIS told Client-9 that they were still trying to determine if his deposit had arrived. Client-9 told LEWIS that he had made a reservation at the hotel, and had paid for it in his [fake] name. Client-9 said that there would be a key waiting for her, and told LEWIS that what he had on account with her covered the "transportation" (believed to be a reference to the cost of the trainfare for "Kristen" from New York to Washington, D.C.)...

At approximately 4:58 p.m... LEWIS... received an incoming call from Client-9. During the call, LEWIS told Client-9 that his package arrived today, and Client-9 said good. LEWIS asked Client-9 what time he was expecting to have the appointment. Client-9 told LEWIS maybe 10:00 p.m. or so, and asked who it was. LEWIS said it was "Kristen," and Client-9 said "great, okay, wonderful." LEWIS told Client-9 that she would give him a final price later, and asked Client-9 whether he could give "Kristen" "extra funds" at this appointment in order to avoid payment issues in the future. Client-9 said maybe, and that he would see if he could do that. LEWIS explained that the agency did not want a model accepting funds for a future appointment, but that she was going to make an exception that way a deposit could be made so that he would have a credit, and they would not have to "go through this" next time. Client-9 said perfect, and that he would call her regarding the room number...

[During the next phone call] Client-9 asked LEWIS to remind him what 'Kristen" looked like, and LEWIS said that she was an American, petite, very pretty brunette, 5 feet 5 inches, and 105 pounds. Client-9 said that she should go straight to [hotel room] 871...

Well, at least he didn't write any emails.

[Source: Federal indictment of the prostitution ring used by Eliot Spitzer.]

Hat Tip: Netscape

Is Prince Lazar of Serbia (1329 – 1389) Really Rolling in His Grave Over Kosovan Independance?

Is Prince Lazar of Serbia (1329 – 1389) Really Rolling in His Grave Over Kosovan Independance? Perhaps. I don't know. What I know is that Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are not rolling in their graves. What's more, I understand, that Karadzic's new book of poetry is enjoying quite a popular reception wherever a zither is heard, to quote Kedourie.

Calling Dalton48!

How the Ness Mess was Found, Courtesy of the NYT

NYT article here.

It's the Tax Man who always gets you:

The rendezvous that established Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with high-priced prostitutes occurred last month in one of Washington’s grandest hotels, but the criminal investigation that discovered the tryst began last year in a nondescript office building opposite a Dunkin’ Donuts on Long Island, according to law enforcement officials.

There, in the Hauppauge offices of the Internal Revenue Service, investigators conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks found several unusual movements of cash involving the governor of New York, several officials said.

The investigators working out of the three-story office building, which faces Veterans Highway, typically review such reports, the officials said. But this was not typical: transactions by a governor who appeared to be trying to conceal the source, destination or purpose of the movement of thousands of dollars in cash, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The money ended up in the bank accounts of what appeared to be shell companies, corporations that essentially had no real business.

The transactions, officials said, suggested possible financial crimes — maybe bribery, political corruption, or something inappropriate involving campaign finance. Prostitution, they said, was the furthest thing from the minds of the investigators.

Soon, the I.R.S. agents, from the agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, were working with F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors from Manhattan who specialize in political corruption.

The inquiry, like many such investigations, was a delicate one. Because the focus was a high-ranking government official, prosecutors were required to seek the approval of the United States attorney general to proceed. Once they secured that permission, the investigation moved forward.

At the outset, one official said, it seemed like a bread-and-butter inquiry into political corruption, the kind of case the F.B.I. squad, known internally by the designation C14, frequently pursues.

But before long, the investigators learned that the money was being moved to pay for sex and that the transactions were being manipulated to conceal Mr. Spitzer’s connection to payments for meetings with prostitutes, the official said.

Sure. And if you believe that.... But the real twist here is where Ness got Capone, here, Wall Street gets Eliot (or at least it could seem that way). In any event, I still blame FDR for taking US off the Gold Standard in '33.

I Almost Forgot: It Was 125 Years Ago Today that Marx Shook off his Mortal Coil


Beijing - Work in China on the first direct translation from the German of the complete works of Karl Marx has hit a hurdle as the world marks the 125th anniversary of the death of the 'father of communism.'

The 60 volumes of the second Chinese-language edition of 'The Complete Works of Marx and Engels' won't be completed in the foreseeable future because of shortages of staff and young personnel, said Jiang Renxiang, a department head in the Communist Party's translation office in Beijing.

'Progress is slow,' Jiang said 125 years after Marx died on March 14, 1883.

Persians Head to the Polls; Too Bad the Athenians Beat Them to It 2500 Years Ago

I like this quote from the BBC story here:

Voting has begun in Iran's elections, with conservatives expected to win after opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were barred from running.

The authorities in Tehran have called for a big turnout in the parliamentary polls, to defy the US and other countries they say are Iran's enemies.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew in from an Islamic summit in Senegal to cast his vote.

He announced that the world had chosen Iran as its "role model and saviour".

This is like the video from 'The Onion' about how the results of the 'forthcoming' US Presidential Election were due to a computer glitch prematurely. The thing is though, this is a a story that even 'The Onion' writers could not make up.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Would JPK Please Start Blogging Again!

This is why I hate Coach

Click here:

Hat Tip Paul at Mock Turtle

Such Fun at the Lager

The handy thing about these gay frauleins is that they had already been vetted for racial purity. So if one were in wont of a wife or a girlfriend, the typist pool was (racially speaking) Kosher.

A Good Day for Gold Buggers

Gold surpasses (if even for a brief moment) the magical US$ 4 digit mark. The barbarous relic would appear to have some life left in it, alas. What next, shells?

France Loses Its Last World War I Veteran

Italian-born Lazare Ponticelli was feted at the National History of Immigration Museum in Paris last Dec. 16, shortly after his 110th birthday.

The link that provided us an unbroken chain between France today and France of the First World War is now broken.

The Zimmerman Telegram

The decrypt and translation:

On the first of February, we intend to begin unrestricted submarine warfare. In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep the United States of America neutral.

In the event of this not succeeding, we propose an alliance on the following basis with Mexico: That we shall make war together and make peace together. We shall give generous financial support, and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details of settlement are left to you.

You are instructed to inform the President [of Mexico] of the above in the greatest confidence as soon as it is certain that there will be an outbreak of war with the United States and suggest that the President, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence with this plan; at the same time, offer to mediate between Japan and ourselves.

Please call to the attention of the President that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England to make peace in a few months.

More info on this great story here.

The National Cryptography Museum; Don't Feel Bad You Didn't Know About It. I think that's the point.

No. It's not a museum about the CRY-baby of a company cryptologic, but of Cryptography, an ever fascinating, fiendishly complex, and ever necessary practice. The farthest I have ever gotten into the subject was a visit to Bletchley Park and reading Alan Turing's harrowing biography. But when I am next at the NSA, I'll be sure to give a look in. Directions can be found here. In an unrelated matter, I met someone who had actually met Sir. William Stephenson and not just his biographer William Stephenson.

When Iraq Really Was Preparing Weapons of Mass Destruction

The reporting is a bit jingoistic (in a way that still, I am afraid, raises deep Zionist feelings in me) but the story is the most part 'true.' Give me a bunch of overladen fighter jets any day over a ground invasion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Trillion here and a Trillion There and the Million Millions start to add up

Stiglitz does some counting:

The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.

And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion (that's $5 million million, or £2.5 million million). With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today's dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.

The Times article is here:

I had rather thought if you owned the shop you would get a deal on the goods: i.e. the oil. Evidently not. And that Koran, written in Saddam's own blood, so they used to say. So much so for a secularist Bathist regime then.

What I Think is Interesting About The Eliot Ness Mess is How Spitizer Paid for it All

Nice article from the WSJ here. What has to be the real story is where the Governor found the spare US$80k it is suggested he spent. Word has it that they're chuckling from one end of Wall Street to the Other. Makes a change these days I suppose. I bet the Dr. is smarting though.

The Japanese Really Are Different: Van Gogh in Raw Fish and Properly Made Rice

Where the rice hits the nori can be found here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Glee Club at Auschwitz

This photograph, taken at Auschwitz, shows “nearly a hundred officers arrayed like a glee club up the side of a hill. The accordion player stands across the road,” Wilkinson writes. “All the men are singing except those in the very front, who perhaps feel too important for it.” The group includes Richard Baer; Rudolf Hoess, who had supervised the building of Auschwitz and had been its first commandant; and Josef Mengele, the doctor who performed infamous medical experiments on twins and other prisoners. This album contains eight pictures of Mengele—the only known photographs of him at Auschwitz.

From the New Yorker Online this week.

Love These Stamps: Laika

Must Read for You Floydians Who Are Still Out There

From the blurb:

A behind-the-scenes, in-depth look at the making of one of the greatest studio masterpieces and most commercially successful albums ever recorded—fully illustrated with many never-before-seen photos.

Feels Good Doesn't It with Oil at an All Time High

While I do not defend the Hummista, the Pristas ought to know that a Hummer, over its lifetime, creates about half the pollution of a Prius. And if we really wanted to be environmentally friendly, we ought all to be driving Nanos.

March 7, 2007
Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage

Staff Writer

The Toyota Prius has become the flagship car for those in our society so environmentally conscious that they are willing to spend a premium to show the world how much they care. Unfortunately for them, their ultimate ‘green car’ is the source of some of the worst pollution in North America; it takes more combined energy per Prius to produce than a Hummer.


Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare.

“The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside,” said Canadian Greenpeace energy-coordinator David Martin during an interview with Mail, a British-based newspaper.

All of this would be bad enough in and of itself; however, the journey to make a hybrid doesn’t end there. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Prius’s arch nemesis.

Original article here.

While the numbers may be a little suspect, Sudbury is still not a beacon of Environmental Enlightenment, though the big stack has done much to put the pollution into the upper atmosphere and out of the surrounding area. And as one wag said it, do miners not count as life?