In Memoriam – 2006

May 30, 2006

This blog is too infrequent to have many traditions. The following is my only annual one. It's the third time I've had to update it.


I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

— John Adams (1735-1826)

As a theoretical physicist with major metaphysical leanings, I've long felt the above quote by President Adams to be especially pertinent to me personally. Therefore, to the many who have made the sacrifice to study the ugly side of life so that others may study the beautiful side, I offer my humblest thanks.


And there have been so many…

War/Conflict Personnel Served Battle Deaths Other Deaths Wounds Not Mortal
World War I
4,734,991 53,402 63,114 204,002*
World War II
16,112,566 291,557 113,842 671,846*
Korean War
5,720,000 33,741 2,835 103,284
Vietnam Conflict
8,744,000 47,415 10,785 153,303
Persian Gulf War
2,225,000 147 235 467

* See reference notes below for sources of these figures.  Note that World War I "Wounds Not Mortal" as well as the Marine Corps contribution to WWII "Wounds Not Mortal" (68,207 of the 671,846) are actually "Wounded In Action" (i.e., number of soldiers wounded) and technically not "Wounds Not Mortal" (of which one soldier could receive multiple ones during his tour of duty, of course).

US Casualties Suffered in Major Ongoing Operations**

[For comparison, bracketed figures give the DoD official totals as they stood last year on Memorial Day 2004, which reflected casualties up through May 27, 2005 10 AM EST.]

Operation Killed in Action Nonhostile Deaths Wounded In Action
Enduring Freedom
(Sep 2001-present)
Iraqi Freedom
(Mar 2003-present)

** This year's figures current as of May 30, 2006, 10 AM EDT. See reference notes below.

Notes and References for the Tables:

For 1st Table:

Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical Information and Analysis Division. "DoD Principal Wars – US Military Personnel Serving and Casualties"

All names used (notably, "Vietnam Conflict" and "Persian Gulf War") as well as all years chosen for tabulation (notably, including 1946 casualties in "World War II" and including only 1964-1973 casualties in the "Vietnam Conflict") are those used by the Department of Defense in the above source.

For 2nd Table:

Source: The most recent (which, in this case, was May 30, 2006 10 AM EST) "Casualty Reports" link of, the official web portal to all of the public US Department of Defense websites. Note that the Casualty Reports link is regularly updated and the most current one can always be found at the bottom of the "Press Resources" linklist in the right column of

NB: A useful general source for all military casualties from all US military engangements is the "Military Casualty Information" webpage of U.S. Department of Defense, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical Information and Analysis Division. The “DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics” page of the Statistical Information and Analysis Division has a wealth of information on many other topics too.


Lately, I've been loathe to blog out of fear that it'll lead too much procrastination (which would be especially bad since I think the "just right" level of procrastination is roughly a 40 hour a week job in and of itself).

So, in an effort to make sure this blog promotes rather than detracts from my research efficiency, I'm instituting the following feature seen elsewhere around the web, The Whiteboard of the Week. Not only will it me encourage me to produce at least one tangible piece of evidence a week that I've done work, but also it will encourage me to clean up my messy whiteboard writing.

This week I'm focusing on TAing MIT's introductory solid state physics course for first-year electrical engineering grad students, and thus my office whiteboard today looked like this.

Whiteboard of the Week May 22 2006

(Click picture for full 1024 x 768 JPEG)

Somehow I forgot this bon mot from The Simpsons:

BART: Look at me, I'm a grad student!   I'm 30, and I made $600 last year.

MARGE: Bart, don't make fun of grad students.   They just made a terrible life choice.

(I'm just kidding.  MIT is the Happiest Place on EarthTM… or at least it will be once the legal conflicts with Disney are settled.)

So now that this blog's been reincarnated, I suppose I should post something. My normal bloggy habits were to read or see something horrible, become obsessively aggravated by it, procrastinate tremendously on my real work by doing an absurd amount on research on it, and then finally write a post that usually included just a teeny-tiny fraction of all that obsessive work. (Did ya check out the references on the bottom of my Hiroshima and Nagasaki post? I really went out and looked for just the right table in the US Strategic Bombing Survey. I have Excel analysis of it—cross-referenced against Morris's Fog of War documentary to boot—that I didn't include since, well, that'd just make y'all think I'm clinically obsessive. 🙂 )

Thus, I think this time around I should actively try to check this habit or, failing that, at least try to keep it to manageable proportions. So this post is about a teeny-tiny horrible thing, rather than a world-historical horrible thing. But, man, it's horrible in its own special way…

Read the rest of this entry »


May 3, 2006

After about 9 months of not posting, I doubt I still have any regular readers.   But for those of you who know me from

welcome to the new WordPress version.   Since the frequency of my posts over the last year (i.e., near zero) doesn't really warrant a paid subscription blog service like TypePad, I imagine I'll be closing the old TypePad version relatively soon and moving exclusively to this WordPress site.   Thus, for all you who've been kind enough to link to me in the past, please update the link to:

For all you regular readers wondering about the sharp falloff in postings of late, it was sadly necessitated by my need to do my actual PhD work in quantum computation, namely my thesis proposal and oral exams.   Happily, they’re all done now, and I thus may now pursue some much-needed procrastination.   

First on deck is this election thingy that happened about a month ago and its many alleged irregularities. 

Stay tuned.

Over the last few months, I’ve been writing less and less on this blog. While several bloggers I read and respect were kind enough to read my blog and occassionally grace it with their comments and while there were a few times that well-known blogs linked to me and thus temporarily bumped my daily readership into the high hundreds or low thousands, there didn’t seem to be much point.

And thus, over the last 6 weeks or so, I wrote nothing.

Fortunately, I then had one of those bolts of inspiration that come from the direction you least expect. Namely, I heard Johnny Cash’s rendition of the following song Kris Kristofferson wrote as a tribute to him.

It’s set me straight.

Beat the Devil (1970)
by Kris Kristofferson

It was winter time in Nashville, down on music row.
And I was lookin’ for a place to get myself out of the cold.
To warm the frozen feelin’ that was eatin’ at my soul.
And keep the chilly wind off me and my guitar.

Well, my thirsty wanted whiskey, and my hungry needed beans,
But it’d been of month of paydays since I’d heard that eagle scream.
So with a stomach full of empty and a pocket full of dreams,
I left my pride and stepped inside a bar.

Actually, I guess you’d could call it a tavern.
Cigarette smoke to the ceiling.
Sawdust on the floor. Friendly shadows.

I saw that there was just one old man sittin’ at the bar.
And in the mirror I could see him checkin’ me and my guitar.
And he turned and said: “Come up here boy, and show us what you are.”
I said: “I’m dry.”
He bought me a beer.

Then he nodded at my guitar and said: “It’s a tough life, ain’t it?”
I just looked at him, and he said: “You ain’t makin’ any money, are you?”
I said: “You’ve been readin’ my mail.”
He just smiled and said: “Let me see that guitar. I’ve got something you oughta hear.”
Then he laid it on my ear:

“If you waste your time a-talkin’ to the people who don’t listen,
To the things that you are sayin’, who do you think’s gonna hear?
And if you should die explainin’ how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin’, who do you think’s gonna care?

There were other lonely singers in a world turned deaf and blind,
Who were crucified for what they tried to show.
And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time.
For the truth remains that no one wants to know.”

Well, the old man was a stranger, but I’d heard his song before,
Back when failure had me locked out on the wrong side of the door.
When no one stood behind me but my shadow on the floor,
And lonesome was more than a state of mind.

You see, the devil haunts a hungry man,
And if you don’t wanna join him, well, you got to beat him.

I ain’t sayin’ I beat the devil,
but I drank his beer for nothing.
Then I stole his song:

“And you still can hear me singin’ to the people who don’t listen,
To the things that I am sayin’, prayin’ someone’s gonna hear.
And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin’, hopin’ someone’s gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer, and I’m bound to die the same,
But I’ve got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickel, I won’t ever die ashamed.
‘Cause I don’t believe that no one wants to know.”