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Venezuela News round up (30.09.04)

By Miguel Octavio

Revolutionary problem solving Problem #1: Everybody questions how you ran the election, there are accusations of fraud and manipulation, at least 40% of the population does not trust you or the process you organized. How can you regain the trust of the public?

Solution: You ask everyone about their complaints, make the process as transparent as possible, respect the law and remove all possible steps that give rise to mistrust and improve the process.

Chavista CNE solution: Maintain everything as it is, approve regulations by which machines will once again transmit the information before printing the results in violation of your own regulations, refuse to change the regional electoral boards to make them less partisan and create a position at each electoral center: the “Head” of the center, chosen and paid by you to run each electoral center. This despite the fact that the regulations say that the members of a center will be chosen at random among the voters at that center and that they will organize themselves as they see fit, choosing their own coordinator.

Problem #2: You create a number of committees to study problems. At the end of their period none of them present reports on what they did.

Solution: You make sure they write the report and give them a deadline.

Chavista National assembly solution: when only 2 of 88 committees presented their reports, they eliminated 44 of them! At least the percentages improve significantly.

This revolution is so logical, coherent and democratic; you’ve got to love them.

McCoy, Taylor et al. By Jorge Rodriguez (El bueno)

Jorge Rodriguez (The good guy) is one of the academics that has collaborated with Elio Valladares in the problems of numerical coincidences and whose work and interaction showed Prof. Jonathan Taylor that he had not done the proper calculation about these coincidences. Today, he wrote this article in Tal Cual that I thought was worth translating.

McCoy, Taylor et al. By Jorge Rodriguez (El bueno)

Academic publications cite with precision who are the authors of the work, or who is responsible for certain conclusions on the basis of which the paper is written. Let’s say it is a formal way in which you respect copyright. It is not a whim, but a way of achieving recognition (or blame) on whomever it is due. If somebody makes an analysis of Venezuela and says that the number of hospital beds is the highest in the continent, or that our alphabetization level is one of the first of the world, he needs to indicate where the numbers are coming form, if it is something that was determined in a study or if it comes from the statistics Jesse (the Minister) sent.

More to the point, ever since the fraud was perpetrated on August 15th, Venezuelans have had Mrs. Jennifer McCoy, a Director from the Carter Center, telling them that all of our complaints were groundless.

When in the morning of August 17th. the numerical coincidences appeared- “The caps” remember that? Mrs. McCoy got rid of us in a few hours with the argument (argument?) that she had consulted the matter to “an independent statistical expert” from Stanford University. She kept us at bay for three more weeks, until at last she told us the name of the expert, a gringo version of the bearded Smartmatic kid. A young statistician, expert in medical applications, that had no clue as to what an electoral notebook was and thought voters were assigned to the lottomachines at the voting centers, according to their time of arrival. This was the “expert” Mr. Taylor of Stanford. Not even Dr. Smith of “Lost in space”. When this expert was confronted by a group of Venezuelan mathematicians, in less than a week he had to admit that his work had “severe errors” and that McCoy’s numbers were “seriously defective”. Later McCoy made him retract, but that is another story.

The other week, Mrs. McCoy came back in style, not against those that exposed Taylor, but against the work of Rigobon and Hausmann (Sumate). This time she resorts to the weakest of practices: that of anonymity. That statistical work-which I must let you know is a travesty, carried out by the Carter Center, has no author. Nobody you can address to point out an error, or to establish a serious dialogue with, only the “authority” of Ms. McCoy in statistics, or even worse, of one of her buffoons. Venezuela claims for seriousness Mrs. McCoy.

Open software decree or open software folly?

Venezuela is getting ready to decree that it will be obligatory to use open source software in all Venezuelan public offices. This is not the first time that Chavez threatens with this, in fact his former Minister of Planning Felipe Perez made a priority of this during his somewhat ephemeral and colorless tenure in that position. Chavez said that this is done to attain “national scientific independence”, I wonder if he ever considered this when he destroyed Venezuela’s oil research institute Intevep in what I consider to be scientific genocide. In one stroke, the world’s best research group on heavy crudes was disbanded and shipped abroad so that the country’s competitors would benefit.

I can only ask: What will happen to the Smartmatic machines that are Windows based? Or the fingerprint capture machines that are Windows based? Or to the system for issuing national ID a card which is Windows based? Maybe they will have to be replaced a cost of a zillion dollars, but how can a zillion dollars stand in the way of scientific independence? No?

As my friend B. suggested today in an e-mail to me, why doesn’t Chavez stop selling oil to any country not using open software exclusively? In this way he could get rid of viruses. It would be Venezuela’s contribution to the world!

I agree with Diosdado Cabello, using Linux, Latex and openwin (thanks B.) truly represent “the democratization of the access to information technology and give more power to the people”. I certainly hope the Misniter of Science is installing Unix tonight in her home PC to lead by example.

This is all part of a very special project "Science for the people and without scientists" that the Government has been working very hard at ever since its premier scientist Merentrs accepted a Government position.

Mision Wall Street

So, Venezuela issues US$ 1.5 billion in a ten year bond in cash and exchange deal with a coupon of 8.5% and a price of 95%. This implies a yield to maturity below Venezuela’s Global 27 bond which is thirteen years longer. The new bond immediately jumps to between 98-99%, the yield settling to where it should be in the country’s curve, giving a tidy profit to those that participated in the deal, particularly the cash part. The deal had changes in deadlines such that some people were left out. Should I think there is something funny about it? Nah! Just the robolution trying to please Wall Street investors. There could never have been any inside information, no way!

What should we call this: Mision Wall Street?

Even baseball affected by the bad Government

As most Venezuelans, I am a baseball fan, belonging to that peculiar almost religion which is following the Red Sox, but I can’t be very happy at these ESPN’s articles about crime in Venezuela, I read the sports pages to try to get away a little bit from reality, so it is somewhat depressing to read these three articles:

-Not safe at home

-A matter of trust

-Dreading the winter ahead

What the articles say is, unfortunately, mostly true, which does not make it any less depressing. If big league players don’t come down for winter leagues because of the articles, the quality of play unfortunately will go down. It is clear who is to blame, but I will not bore saying it again.

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