Archive for February 3rd, 2005

Country of Amateurs or the Twilight Zone?

February 3, 2005

Sometimes writing this blog is quite hard. Not hard because ideas do not come, the muse not providing the necessary inspiration, but exactly the opposite. The ability of this Government to top itself never ceases to amaze me and the readers of this blog. You have to wonder by what mechanism, by what labyrinthic and tortuous path, many of the people who are part of the Chavez administration arrived at their logic, their ideas and worst of all, their total lack of comprehension of what ethics and compassion are all about.


But in a larger sense, you have to worry about how easy it has been for Chavez to assemble and continuously reassemble this band of incompetent and  improvised ďknow it allsĒ, who feel that because once they took a three day seminar on a topic, they are ready to assume the highest post in that field in the country. And soon after assuming the position, they hold a press conference and with a straight face they pontificate about something they know little about, knowing that they are either lying through their teeth or are simply improvising, inventing as their tongue moves and the neurons try to catch up with the movement of that muscle.


 


It all becomes very bizarre and confusing, as I sit here trying to explain the unexplainable, transmit something which may seem more like a chapter of the Twilight Zone than people trying to run a country, even under a revolution.


 


The worst part is that they get away with it, as if there are hundreds of thousands of them out there, ready to step up to the plate if called. Much like Chavez wanting to go to Shea Stadium; pitch to Sammy Sosa, simply because he once wanted to be a ballplayer.


 


Unfortunately, he also wanted to be President and he got there, surrounded by thousands who once dreamt of bering driven around by a chauffer, holding a big Government position because they know they are good at something, even if they were last in their class, never graduated, never held a steady job, were bad at their professions or have never dealt with the job at hand.


 


Thus, we see former military officers who never rose very high in rank, become heads of intelligence, after a brief apprenticeship as a stripper, later to become head of the national training Institute and now President of the land Institute, Whatís next? Who knows? Any position is game,. Being Head of PDVSA or Minister of Finance require little preparation or understanding of the subject. After all, there have been eight of them in six years.  Managing a 40,000 worker corporation is such an easy job that it is combined with Ministries. Finding a wise, balanced and honest judge is so easy that the Supreme Court is expanded from a rather large 20 Justices to 32 overnight. People with no background in Finance are named to run banks, the Ministry of Finance or implement complex exchange control systems. There is no limit, letís start a space program to defend our sovereignty. But say it with a staright and convincing face.


 


When I was in science I used to jokingly say that Venezuela was a country of amateurs. I was amazed at people who called themselves scientists, but seldom published anything. I remember laughing at one of them who told me that he did not understand why he should publish regularly, what if he did not have anything important to say? But at least he had the training and once in a great while he did have something to say, even if it was not that important. I also used to laugh at planners who would attempt to explain to me how the scientific process works. But at least they had read books about it !


 


Nothing like that happens in the revolution. We are now a country of revolutionary amateurs, where the word revolutionary gives them license to imagine and create beyond reason or measure, how they think things should work. Donít have money: Devalue. Need more money: Sell something. Science is good: letís buy computers. We donít produce enough: Expropriate land. We donít produce enough: Import Food and sell it at cost.  Donít like a legal decision by a judge: Remove him. Donít like to be criticized: Jail those that do it. Donít have an airline: Create one. Donít like elections: Cheat in them.


 


The amateur revolution is so absurd that one can blog daily about bizarre statements, plans, contradictions. It is so naÔve that Chavez can say for the eleventh time that he will reduce unemployment and people applaud. That every forty days the Government announces that in another forty days it will announce a solution to a problem, only to announce another announcement afterwards, forgetting about the original one.


 


And on days like today, there is so much absurdity that it is hard to know even where to start. Should I just stop repeating myself? Should I simply report the stupidest thing said each day? Or the most bizarre? Or the most absurd? Or the most imaginative? Or the most inconsistent one? Or the most cynical? Or the most illegal? Or the most unethical? Or the most dangerous one?


 


Letís try a single statement for one second to see if it fits any of these categories as a simple (or very complex!) example: The Attorney General issued a press release this week that said:


 


ďWith the objective of providing continuity to a series of removals and reassignments within the Public Ministry, actions which are oriented to propel an institution with more integrity and honestyĒ


 


The way I read these statements is: We have a bunch of crooks and unethical prosecutors in the Ministry, thus we are getting rid and reassigning a lot of them and this does not end here, there is more to come.


 


Now, there have been no announcements of unethical things going on and the Attorney Generalís office, an unethical prosecutor without integrity should be prosecuted and jailed, no? So, if you havenít announced anything abnormal and what you do is the opposite with your daily defense of your office and their people, would you release this statement? Am I nuts, or is this as absurd as it sounds?


 


This statement actually qualifies for at least seven of the nine categories I proposed, so it seems very impractical to try make my blog so simple. Thus, I think I will continue covering the amateur revolution the way I have, even if it means dozens of daily pieces on the thousand twists, turns and faces of the amateur revolution, even if it sounds like something right out of the twilight zone. If it sounds too bizarre, humm in your head the music from that program!

Country of Amateurs or the Twilight Zone?

February 3, 2005

Sometimes writing this blog is quite hard. Not hard because ideas do not come, the muse not providing the necessary inspiration, but exactly the opposite. The ability of this Government to top itself never ceases to amaze me and the readers of this blog. You have to wonder by what mechanism, by what labyrinthic and tortuous path, many of the people who are part of the Chavez administration arrived at their logic, their ideas and worst of all, their total lack of comprehension of what ethics and compassion are all about.


But in a larger sense, you have to worry about how easy it has been for Chavez to assemble and continuously reassemble this band of incompetent and  improvised ďknow it allsĒ, who feel that because once they took a three day seminar on a topic, they are ready to assume the highest post in that field in the country. And soon after assuming the position, they hold a press conference and with a straight face they pontificate about something they know little about, knowing that they are either lying through their teeth or are simply improvising, inventing as their tongue moves and the neurons try to catch up with the movement of that muscle.


 


It all becomes very bizarre and confusing, as I sit here trying to explain the unexplainable, transmit something which may seem more like a chapter of the Twilight Zone than people trying to run a country, even under a revolution.


 


The worst part is that they get away with it, as if there are hundreds of thousands of them out there, ready to step up to the plate if called. Much like Chavez wanting to go to Shea Stadium; pitch to Sammy Sosa, simply because he once wanted to be a ballplayer.


 


Unfortunately, he also wanted to be President and he got there, surrounded by thousands who once dreamt of bering driven around by a chauffer, holding a big Government position because they know they are good at something, even if they were last in their class, never graduated, never held a steady job, were bad at their professions or have never dealt with the job at hand.


 


Thus, we see former military officers who never rose very high in rank, become heads of intelligence, after a brief apprenticeship as a stripper, later to become head of the national training Institute and now President of the land Institute, Whatís next? Who knows? Any position is game,. Being Head of PDVSA or Minister of Finance require little preparation or understanding of the subject. After all, there have been eight of them in six years.  Managing a 40,000 worker corporation is such an easy job that it is combined with Ministries. Finding a wise, balanced and honest judge is so easy that the Supreme Court is expanded from a rather large 20 Justices to 32 overnight. People with no background in Finance are named to run banks, the Ministry of Finance or implement complex exchange control systems. There is no limit, letís start a space program to defend our sovereignty. But say it with a staright and convincing face.


 


When I was in science I used to jokingly say that Venezuela was a country of amateurs. I was amazed at people who called themselves scientists, but seldom published anything. I remember laughing at one of them who told me that he did not understand why he should publish regularly, what if he did not have anything important to say? But at least he had the training and once in a great while he did have something to say, even if it was not that important. I also used to laugh at planners who would attempt to explain to me how the scientific process works. But at least they had read books about it !


 


Nothing like that happens in the revolution. We are now a country of revolutionary amateurs, where the word revolutionary gives them license to imagine and create beyond reason or measure, how they think things should work. Donít have money: Devalue. Need more money: Sell something. Science is good: letís buy computers. We donít produce enough: Expropriate land. We donít produce enough: Import Food and sell it at cost.  Donít like a legal decision by a judge: Remove him. Donít like to be criticized: Jail those that do it. Donít have an airline: Create one. Donít like elections: Cheat in them.


 


The amateur revolution is so absurd that one can blog daily about bizarre statements, plans, contradictions. It is so naÔve that Chavez can say for the eleventh time that he will reduce unemployment and people applaud. That every forty days the Government announces that in another forty days it will announce a solution to a problem, only to announce another announcement afterwards, forgetting about the original one.


 


And on days like today, there is so much absurdity that it is hard to know even where to start. Should I just stop repeating myself? Should I simply report the stupidest thing said each day? Or the most bizarre? Or the most absurd? Or the most imaginative? Or the most inconsistent one? Or the most cynical? Or the most illegal? Or the most unethical? Or the most dangerous one?


 


Letís try a single statement for one second to see if it fits any of these categories as a simple (or very complex!) example: The Attorney General issued a press release this week that said:


 


ďWith the objective of providing continuity to a series of removals and reassignments within the Public Ministry, actions which are oriented to propel an institution with more integrity and honestyĒ


 


The way I read these statements is: We have a bunch of crooks and unethical prosecutors in the Ministry, thus we are getting rid and reassigning a lot of them and this does not end here, there is more to come.


 


Now, there have been no announcements of unethical things going on and the Attorney Generalís office, an unethical prosecutor without integrity should be prosecuted and jailed, no? So, if you havenít announced anything abnormal and what you do is the opposite with your daily defense of your office and their people, would you release this statement? Am I nuts, or is this as absurd as it sounds?


 


This statement actually qualifies for at least seven of the nine categories I proposed, so it seems very impractical to try make my blog so simple. Thus, I think I will continue covering the amateur revolution the way I have, even if it means dozens of daily pieces on the thousand twists, turns and faces of the amateur revolution, even if it sounds like something right out of the twilight zone. If it sounds too bizarre, humm in your head the music from that program!

Report from the TDE’s roving reporter in Palo Alto

February 3, 2005

Report from the TDE’s roving reporter in Palo Alto for the Stanford
Seminar by Prof. Taylor.

The Seminar by Prof. Taylor began with a brief story of how Prof.
Taylor was handed down the problem by a senior member of the
Statistics Department at Stanford.
Taylor began by giving a

<!–
D(["mb","summary of the political situation in Venezuela. Here are some points
mentioned by Taylor in his summary:

* Chavez has been a popular figure among Venezuelans, but has not been so
 popular for the US government probably because of Chavez\' strong ties
 with Castro. The relationship between Chavez and Castro has been beneficial
 for Venezuelans as many Cuban doctors and teachers are now working in
 Venezuela.
* The opposition is mainly composed by businessmen and members of the
 political class that used to rule the country before Chavez. The private
 media (TV & newspapers) are controlled by the opposition and so, it is very
 hard to get objective information about what\'s happening in Venezuela.

Prof. Taylor then described studies he has finished recently using the
models he has on his web page (he mainly referred to the last three). He
revisited the hypothesis testing problem using FDR (False Discovery Rate)
did not find any weird behaviour in the referendum data under the models
he assumed. However, he pointed out that it would be possible to come up with
relatively simple mechanisms of fraud that would be basically impossible to
detect with these models. He then presented some new results about Benford\'s
Law. He said that there is no reason to believe that Benford\'s Law would
",1]
);

//–>

summary of the political situation in Venezuela. Here are some points
mentioned by
Taylor in his summary:

* Chavez has been a popular figure among Venezuelans, but has not been so
 popular for the
US government probably because of Chavez’ strong ties
 with Castro. The relationship between Chavez and Castro has been beneficial
 for Venezuelans as many Cuban doctors and teachers are now working in
 
Venezuela.
* The opposition is mainly composed by businessmen and members of the
 political class that used to rule the country before Chavez. The private
 media (TV & newspapers) are controlled by the opposition and so, it is very
 hard to get objective information about what’s happening in
Venezuela.

Prof. Taylor then described studies he has finished recently using the
models he has on his web page (he mainly referred to the last three). He
revisited the hypothesis testing problem using FDR (False Discovery Rate)
did not find any weird behavior in the referendum data under the models
he assumed. However, he pointed out that it would be possible to come up with
relatively simple mechanisms of fraud that would be basically impossible to
detect with these models. He then presented some new results about Benford’s
Law. He said that there is no reason to believe that Benford’s Law would

<!–
D(["mb","apply to the results of the recall referendum. (My comment: How come the
",1]
);
D(["mb","2000 Presidential election does follow it?). He showed that data simulated
under the assumption that Elio Valladares\' model was the "fair model"
did not followed Benford\'s Law and looked pretty similar to the recall
referendum data.  He mentioned that he had talked to experts on electoral
",1]
);
D(["mb","data who also said that there is no reason to believe that Benford
",1]
);
D(["mb","would be followed by data like these.

He then mentioned some recent work with exit poll data but didn\'t
have time to go over it. He is now working with the Carter Center on
providing recommendations for future elections.

",0]
);
D(["ce"]);

//–>

apply to the results of the recall referendum. (My comment: How come the
2000 Presidential election does follow it?). He showed that data simulated
under the assumption that Elio Valladares’ model was the “fair model”
did not followed Benford’s Law and looked pretty similar to the recall
referendum data.  He mentioned that he had talked to experts on electoral
data who also said that there is no reason to believe that Benford
would be followed by data like these.

He then mentioned some recent work with exit poll data but didn’t
have time to go over it. He is now working with the Carter Center on
providing recommendations for future elections.

Report from the TDE’s roving reporter in Palo Alto

February 3, 2005

Report from the TDE’s roving reporter in Palo Alto for the Stanford
Seminar by Prof. Taylor.

The Seminar by Prof. Taylor began with a brief story of how Prof.
Taylor was handed down the problem by a senior member of the
Statistics Department at Stanford.
Taylor began by giving a

<!–
D(["mb","summary of the political situation in Venezuela. Here are some points
mentioned by Taylor in his summary:

* Chavez has been a popular figure among Venezuelans, but has not been so
 popular for the US government probably because of Chavez\' strong ties
 with Castro. The relationship between Chavez and Castro has been beneficial
 for Venezuelans as many Cuban doctors and teachers are now working in
 Venezuela.
* The opposition is mainly composed by businessmen and members of the
 political class that used to rule the country before Chavez. The private
 media (TV & newspapers) are controlled by the opposition and so, it is very
 hard to get objective information about what\'s happening in Venezuela.

Prof. Taylor then described studies he has finished recently using the
models he has on his web page (he mainly referred to the last three). He
revisited the hypothesis testing problem using FDR (False Discovery Rate)
did not find any weird behaviour in the referendum data under the models
he assumed. However, he pointed out that it would be possible to come up with
relatively simple mechanisms of fraud that would be basically impossible to
detect with these models. He then presented some new results about Benford\'s
Law. He said that there is no reason to believe that Benford\'s Law would
",1]
);

//–>

summary of the political situation in Venezuela. Here are some points
mentioned by
Taylor in his summary:

* Chavez has been a popular figure among Venezuelans, but has not been so
 popular for the
US government probably because of Chavez’ strong ties
 with Castro. The relationship between Chavez and Castro has been beneficial
 for Venezuelans as many Cuban doctors and teachers are now working in
 
Venezuela.
* The opposition is mainly composed by businessmen and members of the
 political class that used to rule the country before Chavez. The private
 media (TV & newspapers) are controlled by the opposition and so, it is very
 hard to get objective information about what’s happening in
Venezuela.

Prof. Taylor then described studies he has finished recently using the
models he has on his web page (he mainly referred to the last three). He
revisited the hypothesis testing problem using FDR (False Discovery Rate)
did not find any weird behavior in the referendum data under the models
he assumed. However, he pointed out that it would be possible to come up with
relatively simple mechanisms of fraud that would be basically impossible to
detect with these models. He then presented some new results about Benford’s
Law. He said that there is no reason to believe that Benford’s Law would

<!–
D(["mb","apply to the results of the recall referendum. (My comment: How come the
",1]
);
D(["mb","2000 Presidential election does follow it?). He showed that data simulated
under the assumption that Elio Valladares\' model was the "fair model"
did not followed Benford\'s Law and looked pretty similar to the recall
referendum data.  He mentioned that he had talked to experts on electoral
",1]
);
D(["mb","data who also said that there is no reason to believe that Benford
",1]
);
D(["mb","would be followed by data like these.

He then mentioned some recent work with exit poll data but didn\'t
have time to go over it. He is now working with the Carter Center on
providing recommendations for future elections.

",0]
);
D(["ce"]);

//–>

apply to the results of the recall referendum. (My comment: How come the
2000 Presidential election does follow it?). He showed that data simulated
under the assumption that Elio Valladares’ model was the “fair model”
did not followed Benford’s Law and looked pretty similar to the recall
referendum data.  He mentioned that he had talked to experts on electoral
data who also said that there is no reason to believe that Benford
would be followed by data like these.

He then mentioned some recent work with exit poll data but didn’t
have time to go over it. He is now working with the Carter Center on
providing recommendations for future elections.

Six years, same promises

February 3, 2005


Hugo Chavez tonight celebrating his sixth year in office: “Government will look in 2005 to reduce inflation and unemployment”


My take: Weren’t those the same promises made the first year?

Another proof of the of how cynical the Attorney General is

February 3, 2005

This is an image of Chavista reporter Ernesto Villegas on the Government’s TV station VTV a few days ago, as published today in newspaper El Nuevo Pais. The picture in picture shows our illustrious Attorney General/Prosecutor Isaias Rodriguez talking about the documents that Villegas has in his hands. What are they? Copies of the same transcripts that the Prosecutors found in Patricia Poleo’s house and for which she is being prosecuted under the corruption law for having them. Now Mr. Rodriguez, one of the most cynical personalities of the revolution said yesterday:


Attorney General Rodriguez: ďWe will be implacable with those that filter information.Ē


Obviously he meant to say “We will be implacable with those in the opposition that filter information”. Clearly reporter Villegas’ house has not been raided, nor has he been charge. Oh! the pretty revolution!



 


 

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