Monthly Archives: January 2021

Randomness, numbers and reality

Jack wrote this in July, 2005:

3.22.03 and back ups 783

That locomotive you see in this picture isn’t a locomotive, of course.  That smoke you see pouring out of the stack isn’t superheated water under pressure being released while huge pistons turn steel wheels.  The locomotive is just a rock, the smoke is a contrail made by wingtip vortices of a man-made machine flying at high altitude.

That rock’s been standing there in the same position for uncounted millions of years, eroding into the shape you now see.  Prior to a century and a half ago no human would have thought to notice how much it resembled a steam locomotive because locomotives weren’t yet a chunk of the reality created by the human mind.

So what does that have to do with numbers?

Those numbers you see on your radio dial, on your cell phone, on vehicle license tags, on mile markers, currency, clocks, compasses, and at the bottoms of the pages of books are all inventions of the human mind, artifacts.  Ways of converting that rock into a locomotive, representing hundreds of avenues of human experience and trying to nail those experiences down into something measurable, something more easily understandable.

But at the foundations those numbers have little more connection with anything absolute than that giant of a rock has to some other masses of rocks superheated, molded into form, hammered and bolted together to create the artifact this piece of geology now strives to imitate in your mind.

Numbers don’t exist in nature.  They didn’t exist in those barely human creatures we see in museums and anthropology texts, our genetic ancestors.  Numbers are a relatively recent invention of the modern human mind, an artifact created to measure, to record, to guide, to identify.

And the human mind abhors randomness in much the same way nature abhors a vacuum.  By their very nature numbers are the antithesis of randomness.  They are a system more elaborate in their construction than a locomotive, created with the precise intention of driving randomness from human reality.

If those MM numbers last night appear to the result of non-random forces, energy or events, you might consider asking yourself how it could be otherwise.  Saint Francis once observed, you can’t train a wolf to prefer bread over meat.


Old Jules, what was all that Y2K stuff about?

Old Jules, what was all that Y2K stuff about?

I don’t claim to know why Y2K happened to society in the sense it was

obviously a trumped-up affair that sent a lot of mitigation money

into computer programming wallets all over the world, and didn’t need


I do know why it happened to me. It’s because I’ve always leaned to

preparedness, expecting something that hasn’t happened all the way

back to the 1961 Berlin Crisis [which got me into the Army with the

expectation of killing Russian lads a few weeks hence]. In 1967-68,

I expected it to come as a result of the riots across the US and the

vulnerability of society to collapse because of the interlocking

dependencies on the power-grid-transportation-grid- communication-

grid. I was all prepared, and though it didn’t happen, I wrote a

book about  how it would have looked if it had.
My entire adult life has been spent expecting things to go badly

wrong and preparing myself mentally for when it happens, as well as

my physical preparations. In a sense one of my careers [Emergency

Management] grew out of that mental state, along with a book, [Desert

Emergency Survival Basics].
When Y2k came along my certainties were so absolute as to lead me to

cash in all my accumulated retirement funds from two careers and

establish a refugee camp in the middle of nowhere. It was a great 14

months, me, a passel of chickens out there during those post-Y2k

months wondering what we were going to do next, but reflecting on

what I’d already done and trying to learn from it.
I’m all for a person being prepared mentally for anything. It’s none

of my affair what they do insofar as dedicating resources to other

types of preparedness, as well.
I do, however, believe a person can go overboard with such things.

While I don’t suggest they do otherwise if it’s their choice to do

so, (it’s a pretty good way to spend a lifetime – keeps the juices

flowing and gives a person a lot of adventures of thought and

spirit) – I do think it ain’t a bad idea to always retain a modicum

of self-doubt.

Powerball draws and mixed emotions

Jack wrote this in June, 2005:

On the magnetic date/numbers thread I mentioned that business about 10s hitting an awfully lot on the 9th, 10th and 11th of the month draws. It used to be a rule I followed consistently….always included a 10 in the mix on those days… Last night I didn’t because I was too smart… 10, says I to my brilliant self, doesn’t show up in most of the smart-alec methods I’ve abandoned for the moment because they didn’t work consistently, but still run things through when I’m making my picks.

I’m an economizer at the moment, thinks I. I’m not gonna be no fool, looking at those methods that used to work pretty well for me for quite a while….. 10 as a ‘dater’, 10 possible as a repeater from the last draw…. Not me. My mama didn’t raise no fool.

There you are.

I generally mislike auto-shufflers, usually won’t play tables (blackjack) that have them. But a few days ago I sort of got herded into playing on a $2 minimum/$100 max table with an auto-shuffler. A series of coincidences and watching the way the cards were running out of that machine got me doing some things I wouldn’t normally do, including playing two hands and using some betting strategies that run contrary to the usual wisdoms.

I watched, tried things, shifted things around, refined, until after about six hours of play I found myself winning so consistently and so much money the other players were making funny remarks about it. So I moved to another table with an auto shuffler and tried it there….. I was in that casino from early afternoon until 5am the next morning. Went home jittery with coffee, lack of sleep, and wobbly from being too old to live this way, but quite a bit better off than when I went in.

Started a thread about that on the Gaming Forum.

Whew! Last night one of the cats, Shiva, slipped past me and zipped out when I got all the others in…… I went out and called her several times, at which time Niaiad (or however it is you spell water-nymph—-I never can remember), the black cat with aspirations for killing an eagle, plunged through the door.

I went out several times calling for them every time I awakened…. ms water nymph came in around 2 am, but Shiva never answered my calls and wasn’t around this morning at 5 when I went outside….. figured her for being in pieces inside the gut of an owl or coyote.

Then, a few minutes ago she came wandering out of the back of the house wanting out. Mixed emotions is what I’m plagued by.


The virtue of being ‘right’

Jack wrote this in July, 2005:

35 years or so ago I was spending some time hanging around the Geology Department of the University of Texas at a time when science was demonstrating to itself how turbulent and destructive any new and better ways of explaining reality can be.  Old-time, high ranking profs and department heads knew geology, knew it as it had been known, been developing for the past 50 years.  Had published papers on it, hung their hats on it.

Suddenly, along came plate tectonics theory, continental drift, turning all the hardened theories upside down.  The young lions of geology (untenured) broke their careers, many of them, betting on plate tectonics, but failing to realize how absurd any theory of continental drift was in relation to surviving that career moment.  The old timers weren’t about to put up with having the tablecloth yanked out from under the dinnerware they’d spent their careers building.

A few years later plate tectonics was a given… the underlying theory for all planetary geology.

Similar things have happened in physics regarding chaos theory and the still-emerging quantum theories.

But scientists aren’t the only ones guilty of nailing things down on the corners, once they’ve established a truth, based on what someone told them, or their own limited experience (however broad).  We all tend to do that.

And if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves wishing failure on others based on the nature of our own entrenched positions.  If someone manages to come up with something different, something that defies what we know, we tend to believe it somehow takes something away from us.  We WANT them to fail, to reaffirm what smart fellas we are.

There are lots of smart geologists in this world, smart physicists, smart mathmaticians, most traveling down a road that’s already paved…. a few are going off-road…. most of those off-roaders will find their ways back to the beaten path because most new ideas tend not to work out in the long haul.  But a few will be the forerunners of what everyone will believe and entrench themselves into a generation from now.

The problem is, there’s no way of judging which is which until the returns are in.  No matter how absurd an idea is, it’s not too absurd to be ‘right’.  And no matter how ‘right’ the current party line conventional wisdom is, it’s not too ‘right’ to have people laughing to think some idiot believed it a generation ago.

Strange folks, us.  Our preference for already being right will always trump our curiosity… almost always.


Four Limericks on Life

Four Limericks on Life

He goes by the surname of Fauna
From the platypus to the iguana
He hunts and he stalks
And he ceaselessly talks
Of the death and the killing he want’ta.

She goes by the surname of Flora.
She’s plankton, she’s trees, a plethora
But lives in a dread
Avoiding his tread
He’s Sodom, he’s death, he’s Gomorrah!

He eats, he digests, he excretes her;
She’s worried each time that he meets her.
It’s not so dismaying
To find him decaying:
His syrup of nitrogen treats her.

Submerged in a hostile reality
Humanity flirts with finality.
He yearns to transcend
But his carnal self wins
And he spends all his life in banality.

From Poems of the New Old West
Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

A Republican perspective

Jack posted this in August, 2005:

President, Former Commander in Chief, Allied Expeditionary Forces, Europe, WWII:

Dwight David Eisenhower

Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation
January 17, 1961

Good evening, my fellow Americans: First, I should like to express my gratitude to the radio and television networks for the opportunity they have given me over the years to bring reports and messages to our nation. My special thanks go to them for the opportunity of addressing you this evening.
Three days from now, after a half century of service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on questions of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation.

My own relations with Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and finally to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the nation well rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward. So my official relationship with Congress ends in a feeling on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, such basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among peoples and among nations.

To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people.

Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us a grievous hurt, both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle – with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in the newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research – these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel. A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs – balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages – balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well in the face of threat and stress.

But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise.

Of these, I mention two only.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years – I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So – in this my last good night to you as your President – I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I – my fellow citizens – need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations’ great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Now, on Friday noon, I am to become a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it.

Thank you, and good night.


Jack wrote this in June, 2005:

If you find the previous post here absurd, you can take comfort in knowing that your thinking is in concert with the finest scientific minds in my acquaintance.  A while back I told the story of the guy in the restaurant and about Big Loser to a physicist I have a lot of respect for.  His response was something stronger than a scoff.

“Hell,” he sputtered, “Do you honestly believe that if that was happening it would have been discovered by some dipstick in Kalamazoo or somewhere, instead of by a grad student at MIT?  They have the software and the hardware, and they have the intellects.  If something of that sort was possible they’d be getting rich and bragging about it to one another.

“Some yokel isn’t going to discover something that passes the notice of the mathematicians and physicists all over the world.”

So, you can be sure you’re own reasons for thinking it ain’t so are backed up by some other good thinkers.

On the other hand, I sort of like the idea of some yokel in Kalamazoo or somewhere putting one over on the physicists and mathematicians.  I also take some comfort in knowing it wasn’t long ago when Quantum was a word that had no meaning among those people.  Still doesn’t for a lot of them.


Getting back to some basics, number-wise

Jack wrote this in June, 2005:


Not many months ago I had about as much interest in the lottery and the numbers as I had about the mating habits of, say, dung beetles (tumble-bugs).  I’d occasionally play a number that came to me, or play a QP when I’d be in a convenience store and see someone buying a ticket to remind me the lotteries exist.

Then I ran into the guy I began the “A strange Experience” thread telling the story about a couple of months ago.

The guy, to make a long story short, was a chance encounter over a cup of coffee, began telling me he moved around all over playing various lotteries, making a living at it.  Naturally, I didn’t believe him.  But I passed a while listening across a table, him meandering on about how the numbers behaved, writing and making diagrams on napkins.  He made it clear what he was telling me was just a tiny piece of the methods he used, a short-course.  He said he spent several days working up his numbers for each draw.

When we parted he left me with that wad of napkins, which I intended to pursue out of curiosity, just to satisfy myself the guy was BSing me.  Eventually, I did and demonstrated to my own satisfaction that, at least, part of what he told me was true.  The numbers did seem to follow the patterns he said they did, that part of the ‘rules’ he’d explained appeared to work.

I started buying five tickets per draw with the power play option, breaking even over several months using his rudimentary methods.  But that got me interested enough to try to figure out what his other ‘rules’, the ones he told me he had, but didn’t explain, might be.

That brought me, eventually, to these forums.

Then, about the time I began trying to really get down to brass tacks understanding the numbers, I quit winning.  Partly, it was because the ‘rules’ he’d told me about appeared to cease to be rules for a while.  Partly, it was because, when they did begin to behave in those ways again, I’d lost faith in them and had become certain there were better ways to nail them down on all the corners.  Back testing those methods they generally looked good, but when it came to the coming draws they crashed and burned.

In fact, the kiss of death for a particular set frequently coincided with having posted that set on these forums.  Caused me to wonder aloud on the forums whether these numbers weren’t behaving somehow like subatomic particals when they get caught in the act of doing something they weren’t  supposed to… in this case, behaving in non-random patterns.  Which is to say, when they find themselves the focus of human attention, they hop back into the behavior humans have assigned as correct for them.

I’m still not convinced that isn’t happening, though I’m willing to believe it isn’t.

Meanwhile, this guy, Big Loser popped up and appeared to confirm what the guy had told me about over coffee…. that the numbers behave in understandable ways.  I still believe they do.

Anyway, lately I’ve observed those lotteries, MM and PB, seem to be doing the things the guy the guy in the restaurant told me about, doing them on a fairly consistent basis.  I’m backing off all my fancy methods I’ve been working at and feeling fairly smug and smart-alec about, going back to the first day after I unwadded those napkins and looked up number histories. The day I discovered what he’d said happens sometimes does.  Frequently does.

I still believe the numbers can be understood, but it’s clear to me I sure as hell don’t understand them with my current methodologies.

Here are some numbers, using his methods, that ought to stand a fair shot for MM tonight (numbers deleted as no longer relevant- Jeanne).

Maybe they’ll work for someone if the numbers don’t catch you looking at them. (I’m smiling as I write that).


Executive Privilege

Executive Privilege

Human brain Fido

Inside his chain-link fence

Joins full-moon sky concert

With Rufus, and Poochie

Down the block

On their chains,

Cock their ears

And wonder, wonder

Why the faint coyote calls,

Why a whiff of rotten elk-meat

In the garbage

Drives them wild.

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

The skins we change

JackCDbackupJune03 111

Jack wrote this in June, 2005:

Out in the currently vacant chicken house I found a rattlesnake skin the other day.  It was in one of the layer boxes, so I don’t know how long it was there before I noticed it.  But it caused me to do some thinking about old brother rattler and what manner of nuisance he’s likely to make of himself if he’s still around.

I’m a man who holds rattlers in fairly high regard, but with a lot of respect for their clumsy bad manners when it comes to getting underfoot.  I usually try to keep enough of an eye on the places they like to show up unexpectedly to avoid offending them, and when I can corner them I’ll carry them off into some likely spot well away from humans.  Mostly they’re just minding their own business, trying to make a living the same as everyone else and don’t have the good sense to keep themselves out of harm’s way when humans are around.

This one looked a lot bigger last year (I’m assuming it’s the same one) when I lifted up a piece of plywood in a pile of debris in the corner of the lot and let out an involuntary yelp as I jumped backward in time to avoid his strike.  That skin shows him to be about two feet long, but I’d have called him an easy four from my brief look at him.

Rattlers are few at this altitude, and the one who slithered off into the cane leaving me to to decide whether to just breathe a while and let my pulse slow down, or take another tug at that plywood is almost certainly the previous owner of that skin in the chicken house.

Rattlers are lucky where it comes to changing their skins.  Happens year after year, but generally they don’t change much.  People aren’t so lucky in that regard.  We change our skins a lot of times in this life, and in a sense we leave the old ones lying around to be examined by everyone with an interest in who we are, making assumptions based on the old skin.

The other night I was down at the Range Cafe in Bernallilo …. met a bunch of old guys my age down there… retirees from the Los Alamos labs…. nuclear physicists who’ve shed their old skins and discovered they’ve let their lives slither off into the bush without doing a lot of things they wish they’d done.  Now they’re all off living other places, but decided to rendezvous down here for a hurrah into the mountains, looking for a lost gold mine.

I have a notion I’d have barely been able to tolerate those men in their younger days.  There’s a nuance about value judgements involving working on nuclear weapon development that would have influenced my thinking about them.

But these guys had left all that behind, shed that skin and now just wanting to slither off into the canyons, spend some time chewing the fat over a fire and stomp around looking for a lost mine and taking joy in being around one another again.

Strange place we’ve chosen to spend a reality, thinks I.