Another post on my wall that I don’t understand…

Why would anyone post this on my wall? :-)

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August 2, 2014 Posted by | butt, humor | Leave a comment

Why I don’t like to give advice to new runners, walkers, etc.

Today’s workout was nothing special (4 mile run, 10 K indoor bike, 1.25 mile swim (2200 yards)).

On the swim portion, I didn’t feel good after the first 100 yards; I just felt listless, lifeless, and I had an urge just to quit right there.

BUT, I knew from experience that sometimes one can work through those “rough patches” so I just did a mix of strokes (side, back, a few 100 IM reps) until I felt better; then I closed with an acceptable 10 x 100 free on the 2:05 set (more rest than usual). My best 100’s were the last 4.

However, you constantly hear about the warnings of “if you feel bad, stop”. So, I’d never tell a beginner to push through a “I should stop” patch.

But I do this all the time, and I did this during every single marathon/ultramarathon. Even during my best ones, I pushed myself to keep going when my body asked for me to stop.

August 1, 2014 Posted by | marathons, running, swimming, training, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Via Vox: why Dr. Tyson speaking up about GMOs matters…(and it isn’t because he is a GMO expert; he isn’t)

I think that Vox is right on here:

What you see here is that the conditions exist for GMOs to become a liberal equivalent of climate denial. But one thing is missing: the key validators from the liberal establishment.

GMOs are actually an example of liberalism resisting the biases of its base. Though there’s a lot of mistrust towards GMOs and fury towards Monsanto among liberals, the Democratic Party establishment is dismissive of this particular campaign. You don’t see President Obama or Democratic congressional leaders pushing anti-GMO legislation.


There are, of course, party actors who’ve been more helpful to the anti-GMO movement. In California, the Democratic Party endorsed a proposition to label GMO foods. But that’s a modest step — and even that step hasn’t yet made it to the national party’s agenda.

Part of the reason comes down to people like Tyson. Political scientists will tell you that parties, and the ideological movements that power them, are composed of much more than officeholders and electoral strategists. They’re driven by interest groups and intellectuals and pundits and other “validators” that partisans and politicians look to for cues when forming their belief.

Discover reminded us that this is important:

What this tells us is that elite opinions matter a lot in public discourse. The gap between liberals and non-liberals is not really there on this issue at the grassroots. That could change, as people of various ideologies tend to follow elite cues. This is why the strong counter-attack from within the Left elite is probably going to be effective, as it signals that being against GMO is not the “liberal position.”

Yes, Tyson is not a GMO expert; no one says that he is. But he is a famous public scientist and he understands what scientific consensus means.

Sure, on matter the issue: if it is an issue that the public (or even a sizable minority of the public) can presume to have an opinion on, one can ALWAYS find an outlier scientists here or there to disagree with the group consensus. This is true in evolution, global warming, and yes, GMO research. So, if one wants to know what is actually known in an area, one should turn to scientific consensus rather than isolated opinion, and it is nice to see public intellectuals speaking out.

So, if you are one of those who is trying to make up your mind, remember that there is big hazard in looking at an isolated study or at the opinion of a solitary scientist, or even a handful of scientists, no matter how brilliant.

Here are some “consensus” type sites and talks

A summary speech at the International Programs – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (50th Anniversary Celebration) , and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University

Biology Fortified

Discover Magazine

Scientific American

Nature Magazine

United States National Academy of Science

French Academy of Science (English executive summary)

August 1, 2014 Posted by | nature, science, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Initial micro-mini “I Goat This” triathlon

I was looking for something to do, workout wise. I didn’t want to do too much. So it went like this:

1. Hilly 4.2 mile run; not timed. I chose my “Cornstalk Classic” course; this is a long time staple of mine.

2. Then I did 6.2 miles (10K) on the stationary bike (22:30, approximately).

3. Then I swam 1.25 miles. Now, the swim was a total mess. I felt awful in my first 100, so I did the following:

3 sets of 4 x 100: free-back-IM-side, free-IM-side-IM, free-side-IM-side, then 10 x 100 free on 2:05. First 6 were 1:55; last 4 were around 1:50; I was finally feeling better.

So, I ran just over 1 mile and swam 1200 meters more than what is done in a sprint tri, but cycled 10K less. 22 more minutes and I’ll call it a “Goat” sprint tri; yes, the order was exactly reversed.

Of interest: I really felt bad at the start of the swim; only when I pushed the pace of some of the 100s did I start to feel right. That is strange.

August 1, 2014 Posted by | running, swimming, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

When Social Conservatism comes in handy

My wife has a large family; kids, grand kids, great grand kids, etc. I have a small family.

Family gatherings: they are fine, in limited number and if they aren’t too concentrated. Events with her family are for me what football and baseball games are for her. :-)

So, when they get to be too much….I become a social conservative.

Why? Well, every family of a large enough size has someone in it that does something that someone else can object to, including: living together sans marriage, being gay, smoking, having a kid outside of marriage, accepting science, being a Unitarian or an atheist (I repeat myself :-) ), voted for Obama, etc.

So when I get tired of going to these gatherings, I find some socially conservative reason to object to going to one and claim some high minded socially conservative reason for it….when in fact, I really just don’t want to go. :-)

This idea is similar to what appeared in an old Redstate Update video:

Key part: 1:35 to 2:00…the “Granny said “Mormons are a cult””..Granny said it “was a cult if she didn’t want to drive you to it!”

I sometimes wonder if this is at least one reason for social conservatism.

August 1, 2014 Posted by | family | , | Leave a comment

Throwback Thursday

This photo is both painful and joyful for me. This was taken in May, 1981, when I graduated from the Naval Academy. My mom was my current age at that time.


Of note: I am at the age when most of my peers have lost or are losing their parents. It is merely the “bathtub curve” in action:


(not to scale for humans). This curve is used in reliability engineering. When a piece of equipment is put in place, there are some “early failures” (e. g. defective components) and as time goes on, there comes a point when the equipment fails due to wear and tear on the various components. And for humans, it looks a bit like (this is the U. K.):

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This lists the “likelihood of dying” by age and sex. (From here)

Note: if this looks linear past the local minimum, look at the scale on left. It is a log scale, hence the linear appearance. It really is a bathtub curve.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | family, mathematics, science | , , | Leave a comment

I’ve Goat to stop trolling so much (and my workout)

Today: lifting and swimming.

Bodyweight (after lifting, prior to swimming) 178 lbs. via the gym scale.


This is me at last week’s not so good 5K (warm); no, I haven’t gained weight. Yes, it was warm and yes, that can be a problem. But I digress.

Today’s workout:

pull ups (5 sets of 10); hip hikes and Achilles rest.
bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 180 (strong; kid who spotted me gave me a fist bump), 10 x 160. Rest: rotator cuff.
incline press: 10 x 135, 4 x 150. Rest: rotator cuff
Superset: military (3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell, standing), pull down (3 sets; 2 low (110), 1 traditional (150), different machine), rows: 3 sets of 10 (100).

The reason I bring up my body weight: the 4 x 180 on the bench was my best in a while; of course when I was younger I got 11 x body weight (230 in those days). But that was then; this is now. It isn’t 1985 any longer.

Swim: 500 in 9:45, 500 in 9:20, 5 x (50 front kick fins, 50 free), 6 x (25 fist, 25 free), 4 x 100 IM on the 2:30 (fastest: 2:07; that’s pretty bad).
Total: 2200.

Note: I kind of got busted; we have a MILF that sometimes works out in the pool; she wears a bikini which has a bottom which doesn’t quite…cover everything.


She was walking toward her swim lane and therefore walking away from me as I entered the pool area. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at me; my grin was just about splitting my face in two. BUSTED.

Goats: when I was psyching myself up to do the 180 x 4, the first 3 were pretty easy. I decided to try for a 4’th and I told myself: “I GOAT this!” Really. I’ve got to stop. Well, maybe I *should* stop. :-)

July 31, 2014 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, swimming, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

A Goat Joke teaches me about science (and on having very smart friends)

I’ve had some good friends in my life; one if them is Mary. I met her early in my career at my university; she was serving as a sabbatical replacement. We walked and did various things (e. g. sometimes have lunch). We met at science conference; her Ph. D. is in physical chemistry; yes, that is the branch of chemistry that directly uses quantum mechanics. She has published in that area.

Though she moved away and lives on the west coast with her family, we sometimes have contact via the social media.

On Facebook, I have a joke persona: I play the part of a dumb, grumpy, smelly old goat. (it has a political origin) Ok, perhaps ALL of the adjectives apply to me, but I’ve been told that I am not “really” a goat. :-) But as part of my goat persona, I joke about getting kicked out of places for eating tablecloths, books, upholstery and the like.

Mary couldn’t resist informing me that my goat behavior was more in line with “myth” than reality and provided an interesting article. The common myth is expressed by this meme:


Now real life goats DO explore things with their mouths (e. g., tug at clothing) and they will “sample” things by nibbling and chewing; here we see examples of books, paper and kites. No one denies that they ARE chewers.

But when it comes to actual eating (via Modern Farmer):

In fact, goats are actually extremely picky eaters who go after only the most nutritious options available to them.

“They are the survivors because they are very good at finding the most nutritious stuff,” Solaiman says, “They don’t eat tin cans but they will look inside a container and find something and get something out of it.” In other words, goats are resourceful when it comes to finding something to eat. “You’ll see cattle skeletons on the ground in the desert, but [goats] are running around.”

Solaiman says that goats are browsers who go after whatever in their environment will benefit them most. She’s seen them eat the bark off trees, because bark is a good source of tannin which supplies the goats with antioxidants to help ward off parasites and fungi.

One thing goats aren’t crazy about? Hay. While livestock like cattle can get by on the feed, goats need a more varied, nutrient-rich diet.

“If you feed goats low-quality forage, they will play with it,” she says. “They’ll be like, ‘Are you kidding me? I’m not going to eat this. I can lay on it, I can pee on it. But I’m not going to eat it.’ In truth they are pickers and choosers.”

But what about when you wade into a goat pen and every mischievous little mouth is tugging at your shirt? Solaiman says this is just the curious nature of the goat. They do not want to eat your new Brooks Brothers, they’re just checking it out.

And their “checking it out” or sampling can be destructive.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Friends, nature, science | | Leave a comment

Public intellectuals: a couple of different laments.

Richard Dawkins sometimes uses emotionally charged examples to make logical points about other emotionally charged situations. Recently, one such episode caused a storm of tweets from “the masses”, so to speak.

Dawkins was talking about the current Gaza crisis and making the point that while one can deplore, say, how modern Israel came about in the first place, one can rate the Hamas charter that calls for the utter destruction of Israel to be even worse; however one can condemn both. There are degrees of bad things (say, comparing the theft of a candy bar from a super market to embezzling someone’s life savings; both are theft, both are bad, one is worse).

The controversy really erupted over this example (and another one):

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So, he explained himself here:

I believe that, as non-religious rationalists, we should be prepared to discuss such questions using logic and reason. We shouldn’t compel people to enter into painful hypothetical discussions, but nor should we conduct witch-hunts against people who are prepared to do so. I fear that some of us may be erecting taboo zones, where emotion is king and where reason is not admitted; where reason, in some cases, is actively intimidated and dare not show its face. And I regret this. We get enough of that from the religious faithful. Wouldn’t it be a pity if we became seduced by a different sort of sacred, the sacred of the emotional taboo zone?

Moving from the hypothetical to the real, if you raise the question of female genital mutilation, you can guarantee that about half the responses you get will be of the form “What about male circumcision?” and this often seems calculated to derail the campaign against FGM and take the steam out of it. If you try and say “Yes yes, male infant circumcision may be bad but FGM is worse”, you will be stopped in your tracks. Both are violations of a defenceless child, you cannot discuss whether one is worse than the other. How dare you even think about ranking them?

When a show-business personality is convicted of pedophilia, is it right that you actually need courage to say something like this: “Did he penetratively rape children or did he just touch them with his hands? The latter is bad but I think the former is worse”? How dare you rank different kinds of pedophilia? They are all equally bad, equally terrible. What are you, some kind of closet pedophile yourself?

Note: I’ve talked to people who have been molested as kids, and yes, while all acts of pedophilia are bad and none should be tolerated, there are degrees.

But this is the risk one takes when one goes to the public; not only do some grow super emotional when it comes to some issues, but they’ll even try to barge in when OTHERS are attempting to have the discussion. I’m no public intellectual but I’ve had that happen to me when I was discussing an emotional topic with someone else and our conversation was overheard; the topic was that *some* women use abortion as a type of birth control and I got my information from other women who worked at Planned Parenthood and was discussing this issue with a Unitarian minister who worked with other women who did that; a bystander couldn’t bear to hear this and sought to “educate us” even though we had actual facts.

Of course, other public intellectuals lament that policy makers ignore the knowledge that they have and are generating. You see this all the time in science (e. g. climate change, GMO policy, evolution) and here Paul Krugman laments the state of economic policy:

Justin Wolfers calls our attention to the latest IGM survey of economic experts, which revisits the question of the efficacy of fiscal stimulus. IGM has been trying to pose regular questions to a more or less balanced panel of well-regarded economists, so as to establish where a consensus of opinion more or less exists. And when it comes to stimulus, the consensus is fairly overwhelming: by 36 to 1, those responding believe that the ARRA reduced unemployment, and by 25 to 2 they believe that it was beneficial.

This is, if you think about it, very depressing.

Wolfers is encouraged by the degree of consensus — economics as a discipline is not as quarrelsome as its reputation. But I think about policy and political discourse, and note that policy has been dominated by pro-austerity views while stimulus has become a dirty word in politics.

What this says is that in practical terms the professional consensus doesn’t matter. Alberto Alesina may be literally the odd man out, the only member of the panel who doesn’t believe that the fiscal multiplier is positive — but back when key decisions were being made, it was “Alesina’s hour” in Europe and among Republicans.

You might want to say that the professional consensus was rejected because it didn’t work. But actually it did. Mainstream macroeconomics made some predictions — deficits wouldn’t drive up interest rates in a depressed economy, “fiat money” wouldn’t be inflationary, austerity would lead to economic contraction — that drew widespread scorn; Stephen Moore at the WSJ (which was predicting soaring rates and inflation) dismissed “fancy theories” that “defy common sense.” The fancy theorists were, of course, right — but nobody who rejected the consensus has changed his mind. Oh, and Moore became the chief economist at Heritage.

Yep; it is very hard to override “gut feelings” (I KNOW that supply side works) and “morality plays” (safety net spending rewards the slackers).

When it comes to science: yes, the public may be mostly science illiterate and embrace science only to the degree to which it conforms to their beliefs. But: the computer I am typing this on still works, airplanes fly, medicine is getting better and technology is improving. People, on the whole, might not understand why and those who recover from an illness (thanks to modern medicine) might credit their deity, their friend’s prayers or, perhaps Reiki or switching to organic vegetables. But scientists can at least SEE their stuff being used and working, even if the public can’t.

Now back to the public intellectuals: I don’t know what gives them the patience to talk to the rest of us, but I am glad that they do.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | economics, science, social/political | , , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant: doesn’t permit loud kids

I am actually happy to see this:

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I have zero problem with this. If, say, a couple wants a nice, quiet meal and time together, why shouldn’t a store be able to cater to that?

Disclaimer: I am such a cheap person that, well, I frequent buffets (usually, Indian or Vietnamese or Chinese, and yes, even Golden Corral) and other low budget places and yes, there are kids all over the place. But that is MY choice, and I have no problem with restaurants catering to other types of customers.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | social/political | | Leave a comment


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