Big box stores and D’Souza’s whine…..

Dinesh D’Souza has the sadz…not because he is a convicted felon but because Costco made a business decision to not sell his book. Oh, google is out to get him too.

Guess what Mr. D’Souza: a Richard Dawkins book probably wouldn’t sell well in church bookstores either.

Big Box stores: there is some evidence that workers are paid better and treated better by these chains than by the mom-and-pops. I do wonder if part of the reason is that the mom-and-pops have higher non-labor expenses due to not having as much buying power.

I honestly don’t know; illumination from those who do would be welcome.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | economy, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Israel and Palestine

Jon Stewart notes that this is a difficult subject to talk about.

And finding genuinely balanced reporting is all but impossible, at least in the US, as Rula Jebreal pointed out on a show with Chris Hayes.

One quibble: I am not so sure that the US siding with Israel more than the rest of the world during this outbreak of violence is due to one-sided reporting.

The US has always had a natural affinity with Israel; the US was the first country to recognize Israel’s existence. For many years, Israel was seen as a romantic underdog fighting off hostile neighbors.

And to be sure, Israel is a more successful country (domestically) than its neighbors, and the horrible human rights record of the surrounding Islamic Republics (their treatment of gays, atheists, apostates, women) doesn’t win the Middle East Muslim community many fans in the US.

Put this together with the fact that Israel has allies in the Democratic party (Jews tend to vote Democrat, especially when one corrects for wealth) and in the Republican party (Christian right wing) and add the fact that Israel has effective lobbying efforts…and you can see the reason for the imbalance.

Even honest, fair reporting isn’t going to change this least not quickly.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Middle East, social/political, world events | | Leave a comment

And I get grumpy when I discuss politics….

July 23, 2014 Posted by | humor, political humor | , , | Leave a comment

Our left wing is a joke….

No, conservatives are not completely crazy, or are many mainstream liberals. Here, you have someone feeling bad because:

Here is what this diary IS about:

The failure of the denizens of Netroots Nation to show support of, and interest in, the ONLY activist keynoting at Netroots Nation in 2014. The only one who is actually organizing, mobilizing and taking direct action as opposed to politicking, campaigning and punditizing.

It is about the attendees of Netroots Nation, for the most part, showing the most fundamental disrespect (through their absence) of one of this nation’s true progressives:

Dr. Reverend William Barber, leader of the Forward Together (formally Moral Mondays) Movement. [...]

But that’s not what motivated this diary. What motivated it was the reality that I confronted when I went to hear the Reverend, filled with activist passion, spiritual need for the fight and certainty that I would truly be feeling the spirit with other NN denizens.

But alas, few people showed up, and the DK author got the sadz.

That the utter disinterest, by the majority of the attendees of Netroots Nation, in hearing and supporting the ONLY keynote speaker of the entire conference who is an activist, not a politician or pundit, was not a fluke of fatigue, or Joe Biden messing up the schedule, but instead an unintended statement about priorities is clear when you juxtapose the empty hall on Thursday night with the rally in support of Detroit’s residents in their battle with Detroit Water and Sewage on Friday.

Uh, guess what? I wouldn’t have been there either. While I admit that some of those not paying their water bills were truly in need, many of them simply didn’t pay the bill and thought that they could get away with it:

Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr said Friday that said no residents who are unable to afford afford water are going without it.

The city said more than 50% percent of its 170,000 residential accounts are 60 days or $150 delinquent. In March, officials at the water department began notifying delinquent customers that service would be shut off unless arrangements were made to settle overdue bills.

Of the 15,266 accounts where water service was suspended, more than half were made current and had the water restored within 24 hours, the city said. The remaining accounts with suspended water service represent less than 4 percent of the water department’s residential customer base.

So, rally to support deadbeats? Nope, not for me.

Then we have this, via The Nation:

You’ve probably heard the name Shanesha Taylor at this point. She’s the Arizona mother who was arrested for leaving her children in the car while she went to a job interview. Her story went viral thanks likely to a truly heart-wrenching, tear-stained mugshot. Taylor, who was homeless, says her babysitter flaked on her and she didn’t know what else to do while she went to a job interview for a position that would have significantly improved her family’s financial situation.

You may also have heard the name Debra Harrell. She’s the South Carolina mother arrested for letting her 9-year-old daughter play in a park alone while she worked her shifts at McDonalds. It’s the summer, so Harrell had had her daughter play on a laptop at her McDonalds location until the laptop was stolen from their home. Instead, she let her daughter go to the park with a cell phone for emergencies.

Yes, these are tough situations. Yes, the courts should probably show some compassion. And yes, I’d willingly pay a bit more in tax to support a more robust safety net for the working poor and for those seeking work (e. g. SNAP, unemployment benefits, subsidized child care, subsidized school lunches and the like).

I support such programs for four reasons:

1. It stimulates the economy at the bottom, where it can do some good.
2. These programs can reduce the probability of kids being on public aid when they grow up.
3. Some people do run into horrible luck, e. g. layoffs, untimely expensive illnesses or accidents, deaths, etc. Part of my values is for society to help the unfortunate out.
4. People sometimes make bad decisions, and the poor have no margin of error.

But look at how The Nation spins this situation:

We’re Arresting Poor Mothers for Our Own Failures

They go on to say that these mothers weren’t druggies or criminals. True, but whatever happened to NOT HAVING KIDS IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO RAISE THEM PROPERLY????

Where are the dads?

But oh, no, as soon as someone mentions “personal responsibility”, they are a right wing, supply side Republican. Heck, I’ve been called as such for even suggesting that it is the responsibility of THE PARENTS to raise their own kids. :-)

I am sorry these moms and kids are in this situation, and I approve of my tax money helping out with things like subsidized child care, food, housing, etc.

But this being the result of “our failures” is complete nonsense. It is my guess that stupid rhetoric like this turns off potential policy allies.
We sure look like the party of those who enable underachievement, irresponsibility and sloth.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | poverty, social/political | , | 2 Comments

Running matters and adjustments to training.

Training: I’ve decided to try the following:

1. Every week, I’d like one speed session, one steady state (6-8 mile) run, one race or longer, harder run, plus cool down walks, longer steady walk, and a marathon training walk (17-18 miles at the moment).

2. Speed: I’ve decided to move away from workouts that say “do 800 meters at 5K pace”, since these workouts are designed for good runners. Here is what I mean: a good runner will do 5K somewhere around 13-15 minutes so their 800 meter repeats will be 2:05-2:10 or thereabouts. Hence I’ll do repeats of approximately 2 minutes in duration at a pace I can sustain for almost 2 miles (e. g. 400 meter repeats in 1:50-1:55 or so; perhaps bumping it to 600 meters if I get stronger and faster.

We’ll see how this all plays out; goal is a walking marathon at Quad Cities (September 28) along with a 5K run here or there. I am probably within 2-3 weeks of getting all my red blood cells back; we’ll see if my training is paying dividends within the next month.


Yep. Today, running was very tough, though I suppose it isn’t surprising. I keep forgetting about the blood donation and the fact that a low to mid 70 degree day is technically “warm” to run in, even if it feels good.


I laughed out loud at this. Yeah, I sometimes FEEL that way internally; sometimes I feel this way when I am getting lapped on a trail course, and I felt this way when my department chair caught me at mile 11 of a half marathon last year. And yeah, no one likes getting out kicked. :-)

Hat tip: Cassie and Theresa for the memes.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | running | , , | Leave a comment

Beautiful Rock Island Run (but slow)

Distance: close to 8.2 total; time: 1:25:35; this is a bit slower than the last couple of times (2 years ago; here and here)

For the record (for comparison): 1:29, 41:02, 41:41, 1:21 (42:31/43:02).


Weather: 73 F, 59 percent humidity, breezy; slight headwind on the way back.


I chose the dirt trail as my left knee is slightly sore. It did NOT spike on me today. But I still felt Sluggish; blood donation was 23 days ago; I’ve recovered probably 70-80 percent of my lost red blood cells. I don’t really miss them until I get into the “fatigue zone”.

The last two miles were somewhat tough.

The day was so pretty though; sun; cool by summer standards and there were a few people out on the trail.

There was the college men’s cross country team; I decided to not show them up (yeah, right :-) ). They told me that they were doing 10 miles (55-60 minutes?) and there as some high school (?) kids group doing an out and back; I encountered them at about mile 3. I wanted to pick it up..but reminded myself I was still in the middle of my workout and that they were 37-40 years younger than I (seriously). I did catch one straggler who was evidently shamed into picking it up to get ahead of me again. :-)

After I finished, I walked 2 more miles to get used to walking while tired; once I got going that felt great, though that left knee is still a bit tender.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | running, walking | | Leave a comment

Scientists figure out a bit about a toad’s brain (observation, hypothesis, experiment, model, predction)

First a bonus: Jerry Coyne’s website has a post about mayfly emergence showing up on radar!

Toad Brain Activity
A friend alerted me to this post, which is about how a toad reacts to stimuli which mimics prey in the wild. There was a bit of a “ha, ha, watch the stupid toad get “owned”” but the videos are quite interesting and illuminate how science works.

First, there is the observation (toad hunting a worm).


(photo: Heidi Carpenter)

Then some conjectures are made: “what type of stimuli elicits a “hunt” response”?
Then there is an series of “experiment followed by a refined conjecture”; here we see what “looks like” prey to the toad and what doesn’t, and what sort of response does the toad make? Then we look at the signals in the toad’s brain.

It turns out that there are a couple of receptors involved: one if the “predator” sensor is activated, it sends a signal which cancels the “hunt maneuver” response. How is this verified: one can disconnect the “canceling signal” pathway.

Then the whole lot is modeled by a neural network which elicits the predicted response. Yes, there is some mathematics that underlies this, which includes signal theory, neural networks, probability and possibly fuzzy set theory as the “predator/prey” sets appear to be fuzzy.

The videos total 30 minutes but are worth watching.

July 22, 2014 Posted by | frogs, mathematics, science, technology | , , , | Leave a comment

Curb your enthusiasm (or curb my Republican woman fetish)


Yeah, I am a minor fetish for politically conservative women. Yes, even dated one, many years ago when President Reagan was in office. I liked her. No, it wasn’t quite like this:

Sure the I am married to a Democrat, but I find her “extra hot” when she gets back from her Rotary Club meetings….

There is some fantasy about “the opposite” as we see about 3:15 into this clip (probably NSFW, though there is no nudity)

Though in my case, the foreplay might be seeing her at the “Dick Cheney nuke ‘em all” fundraiser. She’d be wearing a tweed skirt and glasses. The later, when the action starts…and she’d be yelling: “I am going to **** the Keynesian right out of you, you dirty, stupid hippie”! …..”come on, where is your cruise missile?”…

Well…at least my IRL wife did go to the Mitt Romney rally with me, but not to the John McCain or the Rick Santorum rallies.

July 22, 2014 Posted by | human sexuality, humor | | Leave a comment

I am such a head case…

This weekend: we took a quick out of town trip. Though I got in an 8 mile training run prior to leaving, while on the trip, I had only two walks: an easy 4 then an easy 2 miler.

I just KNEW that I gained 30 pounds though I ate..what I thought was a moderate amount of food.

No: I did NOT gain weight. How I could tell prior to stepping on the scale: today, my pull ups were stronger than average, and the bench press felt weak.

pull ups: 10, 15, 10, 10, 10. Used hip hikes, Achilles, and rotator cuff for rest.
bench: 10 x 135, 2 x 180 (weak), 2 x 180 (weak), 9 x 160 (ok). 180 felt heavy. Rest: more hip hikes, rotator cuff.
incline: 10 x 135 (strong)
military press: barbell, 10 x 85, 7 x 90, 4 x 95, dumbbell: 10 x 40 (standing)
rows: 2 sets of 5 alternating, 5 together, 1 set of 7 alternating, 7 together (200 with Hammer Machine) super set with:
pull down: 3 sets of 7 x 160 traditional, 7 x (100, 100, 85) low.

Then the swim: 500 easy, 500 in 9:20 5 x 100 (alt fist/free) on 2 (1:50-53)
4 x (50 front kick with fins, 50 free (no fins)
100 side, 4 x 25 fly, 4 x 25 back.

Of note: this younger (40′s) faculty guy swam next to me for a while. In running, he runs 4 miles in the 24-25 minute range (time it takes me to do 5K). But in swimming: I lapped him. Reason: body type; he has very long legs and is slender. Then again it might be that he is just learning; he has the aerobic engine to blow me away.

July 22, 2014 Posted by | swimming, weight training | , | Leave a comment

We are going to get creamed in 2014, and we deserve it.

Terrible news for Democrats:

Americans are angry at Congress — more so than basically ever before. So it’s time to throw the bums out, right?

Well, not really. In fact, Americans appear prepared to deal with their historic unhappiness using perhaps the least-productive response: Staying home.

A new study shows that Americans are on-track to set a new low for turnout in a midterm election, and a record number of states could set their own new records for lowest percentage of eligible citizens casting ballots.



David Horsey has a point:


We are going to get creamed because we suck.

July 22, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment


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