Archive for September, 2006

Protest against Batman today in Caracas

September 25, 2006

This morning the inhabitants of the Ojo de Agua barrio near the highway that connects Caracas and La Guaira, blocked
the road in protest over their housing problem. Most of their homes
have been declared “uninhabitable” by the Government, but have received
little help, advise or even a response from the Government.

protest in itself would be no different from what goes on daily in
Venezuela, where the headquarters of CONAVI, in charge of housing, is
the subject of daily protests, since this Government has neglected
housing for eight years. What made the protests cute was the theme:
Batman. You see as the protesters began discussing whether to march to
the Presidnetial Palace or not, they started chanting “We want Batman!
We want Batman!”.

You see, according to the neighbors of
Ojo de Agua, Minister of Housing Carrizales lives in his batcave and
they want him to come out of it and give an answer to the protest by
more than one thousand families.

By the way, these people
protesting claim to be pro-Chavez and the feel they need to go directly
to the President for their problem to be solved.

Four Species from my house with a little cheating

September 24, 2006

Last week, one of my Cattleya Jenmanii’s won second place at the Miranda Orchid Society meeting, but I failed to take a picture of it. As I was taking pictures around the exhibit and was ready to take the picture of my plant, someone asked me a question and took me over to see something at another stand. Off I went with camera, tripod and all and I forgot my flower.

But I like to keep a record, so that below you will find the flower, somewhat wilted, but you can still se the nice shape that earned it the second place. (Judges disagreed, they actually took a vote in order to decide which plant would take first place. Mine had better shape, the other was larger, I was so pleased that I could not get as excited as they did with the whole argument)

Top left, Catlleya Jenmanii that won second place last week, note that it was wilting when I took the picture yesterday morning. On the right, another Cattleya Jenmanii, both are flowering for the first time. This one is a little thinner than the other one, but the color is fabulous. Note the whitish edge on, that is real! This one was not open for the exhibit. Cattleya Jenmanii is a Venezuelan species.

Above left, Cattleya Walkeriana semi-alba, which I got from a Japanese collector. This is a Brazilian species, but Japanese collectors have cornered the market for the best plants. This one is a cross of two good semi-albas’, the lip is a bit small, maybe next time it will do better. On the right, Encyclia Plicata which I actually purchased last weekend at the exhibit. Typically at these exhibits there are very few species for sale, mostly hybrids, thus when I see something like this Encyclia, I don’t miss it! This is a Cuban species.

Can the fingerprint system do what it is supposed to do?

September 24, 2006

My relative
Miguel Octavio is quoted in today’s “Expediente”
in El Universal talking about the capabilities of the fingerprint machines. Here is the detail of his calculations. Combine this with the error of the system calculated by Bruni and the system is simply a big joke and it is claer it does not do what they claim it does:

In the
absence of the details of the network, we can make the following simple
calculation: A
press release by Cogent indicates they sell a
system that allows for the comparison of up
500,000 fingerprints per second, the highest number quoted on the
Internet that we have been able to find. But this refers only to the time one
server takes to make such a comparison. The CNE system would require, in order
to preserve the one voter, one vote principle to compares it to all previous
voters and add the new fingerprint to the database.

Let’s do a
simple calculation. We assume that on December 3d. 10 million people will vote
in more or less uniform fashion during ten hours. That is one million per hour
or 277 voters per second. That means, that the system has to evaluate those 277
fingerprints almost in instantaneous fashion, since any delay would make that the
next 277 fingerprints, would have to wait in the queue if the response is not
within one second. Let’s assume that the polls open at 8 AM and let’s imagine
that it is already noon that is 4 million people have voted.

fingerprint needs to be compared to that of the 4 million voters that have already
cast their vote. That means that if there was only one server, it would take 8
seconds per fingerprint. Obviously this is unacceptable. A way to do it in one
second is to have half a million fingerprints per server and have eight
servers. The problem is that at noon we would need 277×8=2216 servers to be
able to complete the task in one second.

this simple calculation has a problem, the system can not be designed to handle
averages, but peaks, that is, moments in which you may have twice that number
of voters (There are 16 million registered too), since Venezuelans tend to go
and vote in the morning more than in the afternoon. That means we could be
talking about 4432 servers to satisfy the needs of the system.

But what
happens in the afternoon, let’s say at 4 PM, when we would have twice as many
votes and thus fingerprints and we would need once again twice the number of
servers , that is, 8864 to be able to compare the fingerprints and allow the
voter to vote or not?

The problem
is that this simple calculation does not take into account the design of the
network. Each fingerprint has to be sent to the CNE by satellite. There, there
has to be a server that acts as a traffic manager, deciding which server or
servers will handle the fingerprint that just arrived, which fingerprint is
processes first, which one is ready, which votes already voted and add the new fingerprint
to the appropriate server. You need to have some redundancy too, that is, there
has to be intelligent communication to be able to detect if a fingerprint
arrived or not, whether it had a conflict with another and the like.

 All of
this adds time to the servers and as far as we know, the CNE does not have a
huge number of them. It would not help either to have a huge and fast server
since what takes the longest time in the processing is the transfer of the
fingerprints from disk to memory and it would be difficult to have all of them
in memory. On top of that this would not allow the simultaneous processing of
more than one fingerprint.

In the
absence of more information from the CNE or Cogent there isn’t much more that
can be said. It would seem that Venezuela has the fastest AFIS system in the
world if you compare it to the leading crime institutions of the world, or
could it be that it does not do what it is supposed to do, that is guarantee
the principle of one voter, one vote as the CNE Directors say all the time, but
it objective is really something else?

Sunday morning cartoon and Editorial

September 24, 2006

Venezuelans should read the Washington Post’s Editorial, which in part reflects the cartoon below. In the end it is Venezuelans who will be hurt the most.

Chavez: “You are a devil, you smell like sulfur, you are a drunk, you are the demon, you are genocidal Mr. Devil, you are a Dictator, you are an assasin Mr. Devil, you are…”
Bush:”Yeah!Yeah!, everything you say, filler up boy!”

Diebold refuses to send voting machine to Princeton team

September 23, 2006

New York Times reports tonight Diebold refuses to have Princeton team examine their “new and improved” voting machine.How about asking Smartmatic or the CNE to send one over to Prof. Felten for testing?

All in a day or two of the absurd revolution

September 23, 2006

Minister Maduro gets stopped leaving the US, different versions on both
sides. Update: US Embassy apologizes. Second update: Maduro’s trip was not scheduled, authorities did not know who he was, he showed up with wife and kid (offical business?) and paid tickets in cash.

National killed
very close to where I live, his companion is in very bad shape.

Radical Cause candidate Andres Velasquez says National Guard
killed five miners from a helicopter and is covering up.

Lord arrested
and extradited
yesterday lived in fancy home which people have been saying
for months belongs to a relative of the Governor of Miranda State.

del Guacharo asks
Supreme Court to stop the use of fingerprint machines arguing they violate the Constitutional
right to protect your personal integrity (Art. 46), honorability and privacy
(Art. 60) and vote with freedom and secrecy (Art. 63)

Chavez tells
they should not have US dollars as the US is printing money. Does he know
monetary liquidity has doubled in Venezuela during the last year,
spending is up 85% this year and oil has dropped 20% since August? Should they
have Bolivars?

–Chilean politicians
ask the Government
to get rid of Venezuela’s
Ambassador. Ambassador says he was “misinterpreted”, video shows otherwise.

militias make Hugo
Chavez their hero. Do they want him?

chooses witnesses for December election, haven’t met one yet. Still Looking,
will report back.

–Chavez says Bush now “really”
gave the order to kill him. Who gave the orders the other twenty or so times?
Like this one. Or
this one. Or this one. Or these
ones. Well, you get the picture.

sale of milk and sugar.

of Finance says
inflation for the year will end at 12%. Sure, for the first nine months it has
been 10.4%, the last four months it has been 1.6%, 1.9%, 2.2% and 2.4% and in
the last four months of the year we are to believe it will not reach 13%? Not
even revolutionary math can do that.

September 23, 2006

wrote this in his blog in Spanish, reminding us that what Chavez did in New York is illegal in Venezuela

Devils! from Romrod’s blog

we were all witnesses to the peculiar verb of our President at the General
Assembly of the UN, when he referred to President Bush as the Devil himself. He
not only called him the devil at the UN meeting, but also in the press
conference he gave afterwards. I suppose that this could be considered an
offense to President Bush. Whether he deserves or not the offense I suppose is
another matter, but what I am sure of is that the offenses, at least the direct
ones, are not part of the language a statesman should use. Because it is said
that those that offended, denigrate, people stop taking you seriously and your
arguments lose strength.

But what
called my attention was the looseness with which Chavez insulted Bush in front
of the whole planet. Mr. Bush, may be, as they say in my town, a tremendous
imbecile, but it just so happens that for now, he occupies the position of
President of the executive power of that country, that is he is the legitimate
representative of the people of the US. Thus, when we offend him one
could take it to mean we are offending the whole country. That is the way
offenses between public officials work.

And to
prove it, as they say in Venezuela,
a button. A legal and current one published in the page of Mintra:

Article 148.-Anyone that offends orally or written, or in any
other way disrespects the President of the Republic or whomever may be
replacing him, will be punished with prison of between six months and thirty
months, if the offense were grave, ad half the punishment if it was light.

The punishment will be increased by a third if the offense were made publicly.

paragraph: If the offense were against the President of the Legislative Branch
or the President of the Supreme Court, the penalty Hill be from tour months to
two years when the offense is grave and half that when it is Light.

Thus, can you imagine any Christian of this Bolivarian country telling Chavez
he is the Devil himself? Would they apply this article for offense to the
majesty of the Presidency of the country.

article by the way was written and approved by the fans that our President
maintains within the Nacional Assembly.

comment: While this article has never been applied, it is there, like the sword
of Damocles, ready to be applied at the Government’s convenience. In fact,
former Minister of Finance Francisco Uson, was applied a similar
article from military law
, for disrespecting the majesty of the military
because in a TV interview he said that the soldiers burnt
at the Mara Fort, were likely killed by a flamethrower. He was sentenced to
five years in prison and is the only person in jail to this day, in the case
where three soldiers died of burns within a military prison. )

Tales from the pretty revolution

September 22, 2006

—In the
2005 proposed budget for 2005, the caring revolution budgeted US$ 1.56 billion for
Defense and US$ 1.85 billion for public health. During 2005 the National
Assembly approved an additional US$ 571 million in “extraordinary” credits for
Defense, usually approved to cover insufficiencies in the budget that can not
wait, but only approved US$ 31 million for public health in similar credits. This
is a country where public hospitals are dysfunctional, have no supplies and turn back people regularly. In the end, Defense
spending was 6.6% of the budget, while public health was only 5.8%. Chavez cares so much for his weapons, no? Certainly more than for the people.

a meeting at the Argentinean Foreign Office last year, PDVSA officials and Argentinean
companies and Government offices met to discuss possible joint technology
projects. Wind power! proposed on Argentinean company. How about solar energy
for remote areas? Suggested one university. Biodiesel! Suggested the University of Santa Fe. Why don’t we develop software? Suggested Argentinean company Softlab? No, said the PDVSA representatives we
have orders from above to work in a joint project to build nuclear reactors for
the Orinoco Oil Belt. That was the only project signed during the trip. PDVSA has
no nuclear engineers or specialists.

—And how
abut the People’s Ombudsman, known in Spanish as “El Defensor del Pueblo”. He
continued his long career in simply defending Hugo Chavez when he defended this
week Chavez’ speech at the United Nations: “I think Chavez said what he had to
say in the right place” said Chavez’ Defender. He continued by defending, who
else? The government! by saying “We don’t have the levels of violence that
people want everyone to believe…I don’t know where the analysts get their numbers,
how can we think that Venezuela has more violence than Central America? Well,
Mr. Mundarain, the analysts get the numbers from official sources, which you should
know, if you were really trying to care and defend the people, instead of your
boss the autocrat. His office should be renamed “El Defensor de Chavez”

—And in another harebrained priority project of the
revolution, the National Assembly rushed through its first discussion the law
that creates the Bolivarian Aerospace Agency, jokingly referred to as the “URO”
(Unidentified Revolutionary Object). The Bill is full of truly revolutionary definitions:

Article 2. In the context of the present Law and its regulations, we define
the following:

Aerospace: It is the space formed by the terrestrial
atmosphere and the near external space or ultra terrestrial space….

Ultra terrestrial Space: It is the zone located further
than the atmospheric space which extends all the way to infinity.

You’ve to got to love the priorities and imagination of
the caring revolution. I wonder if by law, the Assembly has decided that the
Universe is indeed infinite, resolving once and for all that scientific

Ganging up against Chavez in New York and in Caracas

September 22, 2006

                 Daily News                                                                 New York Post

This is not
the devil
by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual 

Hugo Chavez is a histrion.

Up on the stage, he is delirious.

He can twist his eyes, searching for God
on the ceiling of the United

Puts his palms together, imploring. 

And then, without a warning, he can release a whole
bunch of insults, using the whole repertoire for that place-his peculiar
communism, in the name of humanity, of peace and the redemption of the humble. Venezuelans
know it: in his most pathetic occasion he had a little whistle in his mouth and
with each blow into it, he would fire someone from PDVSA, broadcast live and
direct. And nationwide over all TV stations.

He is as simple minded as the one he has
turned into his arch enemy. Both simplify and divide the world into good and
evil. For now, Chavez uses his verbal artillery, of low quality, which as Bill
Clinton himself said yesterday :” Hurts him and his country” A true and full revolutionary,
of those truly compromised with what they say and how they say it, stays away from
bullying people and from false postures like those our President adopted at the
United Nations.

Chavez requested the help of a psychiatrist to
understand the speech by the President of the United States, who spoke from the
same stage the day before. The psychiatrist could kill two birds with one stone,
without even being very skilled.

While he calls for a fairer world, his National
Assembly, a few hours later, opened its second period of sessions approving a
new credit of 43.5 billion Bolivars (US$ 20 million) so that the Ministry of
Defense could acquire “munitions of common use, 40 millimeter caliber grenades,
machine guns and pistols” This investment, explains the Ministry of Defense,
will serve to maintain and train a new military corps called “the strategic
reserve” which this peaceful revolution is incorporating to a national culture already
sprinkled with epaulettes, battles, battalions, commands, units, squadrons and
the whole militaristic  paraphernalia
that the redemptor of the World conceives as “XXIst. Century socialism”

During the same parliamentary session, we learned that billions
are still missing to pay the interest on the national debt and that it will be
necessary to reprogram the Debt Bill in order to fulfill old obligations,
acquired but never delivered.

This is, thus, the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez,
full of dollars, but in debt.

Pacifist, but arming itself each day.

“God is with us” said Chavez at the UN, with
his eyes twisted, with his hands together, smelling the sulfur surrounding him,
with a book by Noam Chomsky in front of him. “You have the threat in your own
home” he added. And one feels like repeating the phrase around here. “You have the
threat in your own house”

Artwork for getting out the vote

September 22, 2006

Next Tuesday there will be a rally in Chacao at 4 PM where the Metro station is located, to unveil the artwork to mobilize the people to vote in the December election: