Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jesus problem led Russian genius to Poincare

Jesus problem led Russian genius to PoincareAFP INTERPRESS / BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE, B/W ONLY – The reclusive Russian maths genius Grigori Perelman (pictured) who solved one of the world's most …
MOSCOW (AFP) – The reclusive Russian maths genius who solved one of the world's most perplexing mysteries said in a rare interview Thursday that he began his training by figuring out how Jesus walked on water.
Grigory Perelman shot to international fame by solving the seemingly intractable Poincare conjecture and then turning down the million-dollar prize awarded in the mathematics world's version of the Nobel.
The 44-year-old now lives with his mother in a working-class Saint Petersburg high-rise and studiously avoids the press.
But he told the mass-circulation Komsomolskaya Pravda daily that he and other Soviet-era students developed their prowess by learning to think in abstract terms at a very young age.
"A baby starts gaining experience from birth. If you can train the arms and legs, then why not also the brain," Perelman said in the interview.
He said his grammar school class never encountered an "unsolvable" problem but faced a tricky one when asked to solve the Biblical mystery of how Jesus managed to walk on water.
"I had to solve how fast he had to be walking across the water in order not to fall through," Perelman said.
Asked if he managed to solve the problem, Perelman replied that "if the legend still exists today, that means I was not wrong."
The Poincare conjecture is regarded as one of the most important questions in topology -- a geometry-related branch of mathematics that deals with spatial properties.
It essentially asserts that any shape without a hole can be stretched or shrunk into a sphere.
Perelman published his findings on the Internet in 2002 and 2003.
He won the Fields Prize -- awarded every four years since 1936 -- in 2006 and then famously turned down the prize money by saying he did not want to be a figurehead for the mathematics community

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 21% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -19 (see trends).
The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Updates are also available on Twitter and Facebook
Overall, 46% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. Fifty-two percent (52%) disapprove.
(More Below)
Wall Street Journal   profile called Scott "America's Insurgent Pollster." TheWashington Post   calls him "a driving force in American politics." If you'd like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau. Follow  Scott on Facebook.
In a book released last year, Scott observed that, "The gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century." He added that "The American people don't want to be governed from the left, the right, or the center. They want to govern themselves." In Search of Self-Governance  is available at
MAD AS HELL: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System,   by Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen, can be ordered atAmazon.comBarnes and NobleBorders and other outlets. It's also available in bookstores everywhere.
It is important to remember that the Rasmussen Reports job approval ratings are based upon a sample of likely voters. Some other firms base their approval ratings on samples of all adults. President Obama's numbers are always several points higher in a poll of adults rather than likely voters. That's because some of the president's most enthusiastic supporters, such as young adults, are less likely to turn out to vote. It is also important to check the details of question wording when comparing approval ratings from different firms.
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Rasmussen Reports has been a pioneer in the use of automated telephone polling techniques, but many other firms still utilize their own operator-assisted technology (see methodology). Pollsters for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have cited our "unchallenged record for both integrity and accuracy."
The Pew Center noted that Rasmussen Reports beat traditional media in covering Scott Brown's upset win in Massachusetts earlier this year: "It was polling-not journalistic reporting-that caught the wave in the race to succeed Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy."   Rasmussen Reports was also the first to show Joe Sestak catching Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary race last year.
Once again in 2010, Rasmussen Reports polling provided an accurate preview of Election Night outcomes. See how we did.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, “This was one tough election to poll and forecast. Rasmussen Reports caught the major trends of the election year nationally and in most states.”
In December 2009, a full 11 months before Election Day. A Democratic strategist concluded that if the Rasmussen Reports Generic Congressional Ballot data was accurate, Republicans would gain 62 seats in the House during the 2010 elections. Other polls at the time suggested the Democrats would retain a comfortable majority. The Republicans gained 63 seats in the 2010 elections.
Rasmussen’s final 2010 projections were published in the Wall Street Journal. Scott Rasmussen noted that “it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn't win, the other team lost. Heading into 2012, voters will remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so.”    
In the 2009 New Jersey Governor's race, automated polls tended to be more accurate than operator-assisted polling techniques. On reviewing the state polling results from 2009, Mickey Kaus offered this assessment, "If you have a choice between Rasmussen and, say, the prestigious N.Y. Times, go with Rasmussen!"
In 2008, Obama won 53%-46% and our final poll showed Obama winning 52% to 46%. While we were pleased with the final result, Rasmussen Reports was especially pleased with the stability of our results. On every single day for the last six weeks of the campaign, our daily tracking showed Obama with a stable and solid lead attracting more than 50% of the vote.
We also have provided a summary of our 2008 state-by-state presidential results for your review.
In 2004 George W. Bush received 50.7% of the vote while John Kerry earned 48.3%. Rasmussen Reports polling projected that Bush would win 50.2% to 48.5%. We were the only firm to project both candidates' totals within half a percentage point by (see our 2004 results).
See also our 2008 state results for Senate and governor. 
See 2006 results for Senate and Governor. 
Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Results are also compiled on a full-week basis and crosstabs for full-week results are available for Platinum Members.
Like all polling firms, Rasmussen Reports weights its data to reflect the population at large (see methodology). Among other targets, Rasmussen Reports weights data by political party affiliation using a dynamic weighting process. While partisan affiliation is generally quite stable over time, there are a fair number of people who waver between allegiance to a particular party or independent status. Our baseline targets are established based upon separate survey interviews with a sample of adults nationwide completed during the preceding three months (a total of 45,000 interviews) and targets are updated monthly. Currently, the baseline targets for the adult population are 34.9% Democrats, 34.3% Republicans, and 30.3% unaffiliated. Likely voter samples typically show a slightly larger advantage for the Republicans.
A review of last week's key polls is posted each Saturday morning.
We also invite you to review other recent demographic highlights from the tracking polls. To get a sense of longer-term trends, check out our month-by-month review of the president's numbers.
Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site’s content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.
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Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here

This Labor shortage hits farms as picking season comes to a close

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On Tuesday they came by the car loads armed with bags, baskets and boxes to collect tomatoes.
"And we figured we might as well give them to the public for a dollar a bucket, try to get them out of here," said David Hunsader, who along with his brother own Hunsader Farms in Manatee County.
In generations of farming, Hunsader said his family has never struggled until now to clear the fields due to a lack of hands.
"Why did we get behind? Because we're short help," he said. "We usually have a couple hundred people picking and now we're around 75. We usually have 15 or 20 trucks out here picking and today (Tuesday) we have five or six."
Hunsader put the blame for his lack of help on state lawmakers' push for immigration reform.
"Some of the people (migrant workers) we heard maybe they're leaving the state because of that," he said. "They don't want to get pulled over and taken away. They went out of state or they went back to Mexico."
He estimates that the farm's losses due to the labor shortage may reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"I know of one farm up in Plant City where they said they

9/11 First Responders to Be Screened for Terrorist Ties to Get Benefits

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COMMENTARY | Remember the First Responders Bill, the piece of legislation that was kicked around Congress for years before it was about to meet its certain legislative death before comedian Jon Stewart helped resurrect it by shaming Congress on his show the Thursday before Thanksgiving? Also known as the James Zadroga Bill, the measure was designed to provide financial assistance to those who have become victims of the dust and chemicals that were part of Ground Zero in New York City during and after the fall of the World Trade Center towers.
Now there has come to light just one more hurdle to clear for those suffering and dying from various stages of cancer, physical maladies, neurological disorders, and respiratory diseases that can invariably be traced back to the work performed attempting save and provide aide to those living and dying at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, and in the subsequent weeks that followed. Now, they must be matched against a terrorist watch list in order to get the funds appropriated for them...
John Feal, a 9/11 first responder that lost a foot at Ground Zero and who heads the advocacy group Fealgood Foundation, told the Huffington Post, "It's comical at best, and I think it's an insult to everyone who worked on The Pile and is sick and suffering from 9/11."
Back in May 2010, long before the measure had just about died in Congress, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) thought it would be a good idea to make certain that the money being appropriated to help those who helped those in need at Ground Zero on 9/11 wouldn't go to terrorists just trying to cash in on the government handout. Other Congressmen thought it was a good idea as well, and his amendment was passed with a voice vote.
The program created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law begins in July. In an effort to alleviate the shock of having to provide information that will be used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to ensure that applicants aren't also on a terrorist watchlist, Dr. John Howard of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sent a letter to medical providers and administrators informing them they should begin preparing potential applicants for what was to take place.
To review: The government fights the First Responders tooth and nail. Then a comedian convenes a panel of real 9/11 first responders on his fake news show to talk about the ridiculous footdragging occurring over the bill. A groundswell of support provides Congress with the bravery (but surprisingly few Republicans) to do what should have been done years earlier -- only they cut the original amount asked for to a fraction. Then, months before the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Law is to go into effect, potential beneficiaries of the bill are to be warned that they will be checked off a terrorist watchlist as a precaution to make certain the funds go to true 9/11 victims and not to terrorists.
Not only is the amendment and its implementation an insult to first responders, it is also a testament to the idiocy of a politically correct and inept bureaucracy. Informing the potential applicants that they will be screened will ensure that, if there ever would have been a terrorist among them, they will now avoid applying. In short, attempting to defuse a potentially volatile political situation, government officials have chosen to warn the terrorists. In effect, they will have managed to insult first responders and at the same time drive away what would have been unwary terrorists willing to wade through massive government red tape to get a few dollars of aid.
At least this way, Rep. Cliff Stearns amendment will have indirectly done what it was meant to do -- kept terrorists from getting their hands on funds meant for the heroes and victims of 9/11. No doubt James Zadroga, who died while first responders were still trying to get the bill recognized, would have been proud of his government...
Saul Relative holds degrees in History and Secondary Education, and he taught school in West Virginia in the '80s and Virginia during the '90s. A student of politics and political movements, he began writing articles covering the political maneuverings of the Bush administration in 2004. Saul turned to writing full-time in 2008, dividing his time between reading and writing about politics and entertainment.

Bernanke walks careful line on inflation

In historic press conference, Bernanke walks careful line on inflation concerns

Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke made history Wednesday afternoon simply by opening his mouth. For the first time in the central bank’s 98 year history, the chairman held a public press conference and communicated directly with economists, bankers and investors around the world.
But did it matter? Ask most observers and they will say Bernanke’s press conference did not reveal anything particularly newsworthy. Bernanke confirmed the Fed will allow the latest round of quantitative easing to end in June as planned. He also sought to convey the Fed is taking inflation concerns very seriously, but that economic recovery is not in serious danger because of inflation.
“I think every central banker understands that keeping inflation low and stable is absolutely essential to a successful economy and we will do what’s necessary to ensure that happens,” said Bernanke.
At the same time, Bernanke said the Federal Reserve continues to see “the economic recovery as proceeding at a moderate pace.”
“The biggest thing he communicated was inflation,” said Anthony Randazzo, director of Economic Research at Reason Foundation. “Everything came back to inflation. He was asked about gas prices, his answer came back to inflation. He was asked about unemployment, his answer came back to inflation.”

Inflation has been a major concern in recent months, especially as it relates to economic growth. Bernanke again sought to allay concerns by saying “most factors appear to be transitory.” In other words, Bernanke expects that the factors causing inflation and weaker growth will not have long-term effects.
“It’s economic speak for temporary,” Randazzo told The Daily Caller. “The Fed view is that all of the signs for short term inflation are temporary hiccups that will not have long term impacts on the economy.”
Before the press conference, there was speculation that Bernanke could hint at another round of quantitative easing. The current round — $600 billion worth of bond-buying that has financed a large part of the national debt — will end in June. But Bernanke more or less put those rumors to rest.
“The trade-offs are getting less attractive at this point,” said Bernanke. “Inflation has gotten higher…it’s not clear we can get substantial improvements in payrolls without some additional inflation risk.”
He went on to say, “The conclusion that the second round was not effective is only validated if one thought this step was a panaceaĆ¢€¦we were clear from the very beginning that while we thought this was an important step, we were very clear this was not going to be a panacea; that it was only going to turn the economy in the right direction.”
On questions about the Fed’s role in rising gas prices, Bernanke largely punted. He called their negative effects on the stability of the dollar and economic growth a “double whammy.”
“There’s not much the Fed can do on gas prices per se,” Bernanke added. “Our view is that gas prices will not continue to rise at the recent rate.”
But Randazzo also pointed out that when asked a question about whether reduced spending could hurt economic growth, Bernanke took what is essentially a neutral position by saying cuts Congress have made so far have made no negative impact on economic growth.
“In other words,” said Randazzo, “he did not write off the need to cut spending.”

Why So Few Ended Up in Jail After the Financial Crisis

While accepting the Oscar for best documentary earlier this year, Inside Job director Charles Ferguson came out with a bang.
"Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong," he said.
At least one now has. Lee Farkas, former chairman of mortgage lender Taylor Bean, was convicted last week on 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud. He could spend the rest of his life in prison.
So there's one.
But why no others? After a financial crisis that doubled the unemployment rate and slaughtered wealth around the globe, nobody thinks one executive -- and one few have ever heard of -- was solely to blame. Nor is it how these things usually work out. After the savings and loan crisis of the early '90s, 800 financial executives went to prison. Not only have most bank execs avoided prosecution this time around, but many are still gainfully employed by the banks that ran the economy into the ground.
Why is a difficult question. I think it can be broken down into three parts.
1. The ground troops have been charged The most disgusting, outright-fraudulent parts of the bubble years didn't take place on Wall Street. It took place on the ground in areas like Orange County and Las Vegas, where mortgage brokers, Realtors, and borrowers lied through their teeth, forged loan documents, and actively pursued screwing over anyone within reach. The industry of selling mortgages was a magnet for some of society's sketchiest characters. As the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission noted in January, "at least 10,500 people with criminal records entered the [mortgage-broker] field in Florida, including 4,065 who had previously been convicted of such crimes as fraud, bank robbery, racketeering, and extortion."
Thousands of mortgage brokers and scam borrowers have indeed been charged, and in many cases jailed. In June 2008, before the financial crisis unraveled, the FBI busted 400 brokers in a single sting. A sting last summer brought One borrower was found guilty of defrauding Bank of America (NYSE: BAC - News) by "recruiting 'straw buyers' to apply for a mortgage loan for a home that he himself intended to occupy, and inflated the value of that home in order to increase the amount of the loan." These guys did the same with loans from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM - News). These folks forged loan documents submitted to Regions Financial (NYSE: RF - News). All were caught. All were charged. The public hasn't heard their stories because they don't involve the executive suite.
2. Coddling regulators, strapped detectives That few execs have been charged doesn't mean they're all innocent, of course.
High-level fraud cases are typically referred to the Justice Department by industry regulators. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, works in tandem with the Justice Department to reel in medical fraud. Same for the Department of Agriculture. And the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Bank regulators are different. Since 2000, the Office of Thrift Supervision has not referred a single case of fraud to the Justice Department, according to The New York Times. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has referred just three cases.
There could be many reasons for this. The two regulators, though, have a long history of coddling the banks they oversee. They have every incentive to do so: Regulators' existence depend on banks -- or "clients," as the OCC refers to them as -- since fees paid by banks fund their operations. In some cases, banks can shop around for the regulator with the lightest touch.
That's what Countrywide did in 2007. Then-CEO Angelo Mozilo was frustrated with the demands of the OCC. Regulators were getting in his hair. Easy solution: Countrywide changed charters to fall under the purview of a gentler regulator, the OTS. As Connie Bruck of The New Yorker pointed out, the OTS actually lobbied Countrywide to make the switch.
Not that the OCC was a regulatory pit bull itself. When West Virginia tried to sue Capital One (NYSE: COF -News) for credit card abuse in 2005, the company applied for a national charter with the OCC. By doing so, Capital One escaped West Virginia's jurisdiction, and the state lost authority to pursue its case. This wasn't an isolated incident. The OCC stopped Georgia when it attempted to enforce predatory lending laws. New York regulators were intervened while pursuing discriminatory lending investigations. The head of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission told former OCC head John Dugan, "You tied the hands of the states and then sat on your hands."
If regulators didn't make it hard enough, the FBI has seen a radical cut in the number of agents available to investigate financial crime. Law enforcement's focus began shifting to health care fraud in the '90s, and to terrorism after 9/11. During the savings and loan crisis, 1,000 FBI agents worked the financial-crimes scene. Today, just 240 do.
3. Stupid isn't illegal Crime deserves jail time. Idiocy is another issue.
This explains most of why so few major financial executives are behind bars. Blowing up your company isn't necessarily a crime. Leveraging 30-to-1 isn't unlawful. Neither is buying securities backed by homeowners unable to repay. Nor is ignoring caution signs. Or disregarding history. Much of what brought the financial system to its knees was unbelievably stupid and unethical, yet perfectly legal.
Investors were shocked, for example, after discovering Lehman Brothers used an accounting trick called repo 105 to mask the health of its balance sheet. Yet as The Wall Street Journal notes, "SEC officials have grown more worried they could lose a court battle if they bring civil charges that allege Lehman investors were duped by company executives. The key stumbling block: The accounting move, while controversial, isn't necessarily illegal."
Not only was this stuff legal, but lucrative. Many executives walked away rich. Filthy rich. This was heads they win, tails you lose, and in either case, jail remains elusive. You can almost hear them laughing now.