Archive

Archive for December 20, 2008

Ahmed Chalabi and Me

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment
Ahmed Chalabi

Ahmed Chalabi

No, I don’t actually know Ahmed Chalabi. But we do have a professional connection, as I discovered only yesterday. (Oh, should I remind you of who Chalabi is? He became prominent in US news coverage of Iraq in the run-up to the US invasion, as an Iraqi in exile in London who was friends with many neocons in the government and was a leading source of (false) information on the existence of WMDs in Iraq. He was also imagined as a possible leader of the Iraqi government once Saddam Hussein was deposed. And indeed he was on the Iraqi governing council after the invasion, later serving as deputy prime minister. You can read more here.)

I wrote last week that I was reading Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War. I finished it last night, and let me say once again that it is a painful but essential book to read regarding the US war effort in Iraq and how the US was perceived (2003-2006) by Iraqis of various sorts. Just before dinner, I read a portion of the book in which Filkins meets with Chalabi, a fascinating passage, and at its start Filkins notes that Chalabi is an MIT- and Chicago-trained mathematician. I must have seen this fact many times before, but never focused on it. The problem is, I’ve often read about one person or another being a mathematician of some sort, and usually the person turns out to do something else, like physics or finance. So if I read before that Chalabi is a mathematician, I probably ignored it. But this time, with the mention of MIT and Chicago, I got curious and decided to look Chalabi up to see what he really did.

Well, what do you know? He’s a mathematician! An algebraist, just like me!
Read more…

Categories: Math, Politics

Seattle Driving after Snow

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment
Above I-5, just north of downtown

Above I-5, just north of downtown

In my previous post, I described Joel’s decision to fly home from Boston on Thursday, a day early, in order to avoid Friday’s snowstorm. As I noted, we had our own snowstorm here in Seattle on Thursday. Our storm would have been a minor nuisance in Boston, but here, with the hills and with only limited plowing and sanding, when it snows and the temperatures stay below freezing, driving is always pretty chancy.

Read more…

Categories: Today's News, Travel

Bonus Day with Joel, II

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment
Berlin Airlift, 1948

Berlin Airlift, 1948

Just under three weeks ago, at the end of Thanksgiving weekend, I described the bonus day we had with Joel. Thanks to heavy fog that Sunday night, his overnight flight back to Boston was cancelled. We had already driven him out to the airport and gotten home, and he was at the gate, when the cancellation was announced after midnight. It was no easy matter to get him booked the next night, which Gail and I worked on while he got a taxi home, but you can read about that in my Bonus Day post.

Now it turns out we got another bonus day, in the opposite direction, as I’ll describe after the jump.
Read more…

Categories: Family, Travel