midweek workout change

I need to get some more walking midweek and so will replace a lifting session (Wednesday’s) with a medium walk (10 miles). I’ll keep this up until marathon taper week.

Today: from the Riverplex to the first road crossing on the East Peoria trail (about 8 miles) then to the Marina. 2:32 was the total time; it was a lovely day but it was an effort. Yesterday’s workout took something out of me.

I also did 10 minutes on the bike afterward.

It sure looks as if someone is trying to promote a Wladimir Klitschko vs. Shannon Briggs match:

I’m not sure if fight fans will buy this; Briggs is tough but is 42 years old, and his outing against Vitali Klitschko was, well, rather ugly:

Here he was, in the hospital after the fight:


How he got there:

Are the fans really clamoring for this?

July 30, 2014 Posted by | boxing, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Violence between men and women

A couple of things got me started on this post. One was this Facebook discussion:

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 6.50.11 PM

The second was the dust up over Stephen Smith’s comments about a domestic violence case involving an NFL player:

The announcement came just one day after Smith publicly apologized for his infamous domestic violence rant. Both his initial comments, in which he contended that victims of domestic violence need to be mindful of the “elements of provocation” when dealing with abusers,

A quick note: Whoopi Goldberg did have something to say; Smith’s comment, while politically unwise, weren’t really crazy: e. g. someone who, say, slaps a man or throws something at him might get hit back. So not initiating violence might be one way to reduce the probability of getting beat up; seriously, how can anyone deny that?

Unfortunately, when it comes to certain issues, honest debate is stifled and only “politically correct” slogans are allowed to be aired.

This post will NOT consist of politically correct slogans.

So, how did I answer Cassie’s question? Well, if you are Facebook friends with Cassie, you can surf to her wall and find out. But I’ll say this:

my response to violence doesn’t depend on whether the person attempting violence against me is a man or a woman. My use of force to defend myself is of the “just enough force necessary to keep me safe” (or my loved ones, friends, etc.).

So, I defend myself (stay safe) and when safe, IF the level of violence is serious, call the police and file a report.

What I mean: assuming that I can’t get away, what force I use depends on the level of a threat (e. g. probably no need to throw haymakers at an unarmed but enraged 90 year old person). The sex of the person who is either threatening to attack me or attacking me is of no consequence.

BUT there is a huge caveat here: my principle is heavily dependent on several factors:

1. I am 54 years old, closing on 55. Fist fights are probably bad for me. :-)
2. I am confident that the police will take my complaint seriously.
3. Most of the people that I would normally associate with would be deterred by a police complaint; they have a job and/or professional credentials that could be put in jeopardy.
4. I am married to a very non-violent person. If SHE were to physically attack me, something would be seriously wrong (e. g. brain tumor, chemical imbalance). I will only marry or associate with non-violent people.

But people live in different subcultures. Some are genuinely skeptical that the police would take their complaints seriously. Some aren’t deterred by the thought of a police report. And not retaliating to violence can lead to being further assaulted; I got a mild taste of that when I was bullied and hazed as a freshman in high school (standing up to the bully put a stop to it). See Steven Pinker’s book Better Angels of our Nature, Violence in the US (starting on page 91).

And some people remain in violent relationships; I remember my God mother being taken to the battered women shelter by my parents, only to hear that she returned to the guy who beat her.

Now there is something else that can be said. In Smith’s rant about the NFL case, word had come out that the woman had struck the NFL player. In fact, when it comes to “low level” domestic violence (e. g. “flying plates”), women commit this type of violence at rates roughly equal to men (Pinker: page 410). However, the more serious levels (where one ends up in a hospital or battered woman’s shelter) is done by mostly men. (Pinker, page 410).

The most common type of violence is the “flying plate” variety and so dominates the “survey results” statistics. But the “serious injuries” are usually the consequence when one spouse (usually male) is a “controller” in the relationship; this is the insanely jealous, stalker kind of person.

This is relevant because Smith’s comment could be relevant to the first type of violence and my guess is that those taking umbrage with his comments have the second type of violence in mind.

Note: though I’ve tried to keep things as sex neutral as I could, there is little doubt that people perceive violence differently, depending on who the aggressor is.

Of course, in this video, the responses may have been different because the male looks bigger and stronger than the female. Hence in the first case, she looks like she could be in danger and in the second case, he doesn’t look as if he is in any real danger.

July 30, 2014 Posted by | social/political | , | 3 Comments

Why, why, why would anyone think that this was a good gift for me?


July 30, 2014 Posted by | humor, Personal Issues | , , | Leave a comment

GOP irritation over impeachment talk

John Boehner appears irritated that President Obama’s staff is using “impeachment” as a fundraising and “get out the vote” tool for 2014. Yes, he said that impeachment is NOT being planned.


1) Several in his own caucus have openly talked about it.
2) Republican leaders have talked about it, openly.
3) The rank and file Republicans favor it.
4) Boehner has not been able to control his caucus.

More here.

Yes, it takes 67 votes in the Senate to actually remove the President and that isn’t going to happen, even if the Republicans throw themselves on the floor and turn blue.

July 29, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

Politics: emotional issues robs us of abstract reasoning ability…

Good Vox article here. Moral (for me): mathematical and statistical reasoning really disciplines our thinking, BUT does not convince non-technical people.

This is one reason discussing issues with people outside of math, science and engineering departments is so difficult for me.

July 29, 2014 Posted by | mathematics, politics, politics/social, social/political, statistics | | Leave a comment

Track and Wildlife Prairie Park

First: went to the Riverplex. Ran 2 miles to the old Woodruff track and did 5 x 400 with 200 walk jog, 200 with 200 walk jog (3200) then jogged 2 miles back. Day: cool, low 60’s.

runs: 1:57-1:55-1:55 (9:01)-1:54-1:55-0:58 (18:52)
rests: 1:32-1:39-1:41-1:39-1:42

Then 2 mile jog back, followed by 10 minutes on the bike to help my knees.

Slower intervals but quicker miles than last week and the week before that.

Then I went to Wildlife Prairie Park with my wife (HER idea!) and I fed the goats, listened to the frogs (heard the bull frogs and green frogs) and got 4 miles on the Floodplain trail. The trail has been restored, but I didn’t pay attention and wandered off very briefly. There is a sandy portion that is sandier than I remember it. You can see my photo tour here.

I did not time the walk; but I got 10 miles total (run plus walk).

Political note I wear a hat when I run; usually I just grab one randomly. I can tell when I am wearing the one you see here:


I get both smiles and frowns; I can’t help but notice that this hat is unpopular with many white people but popular with many black people. My “inner Larry David” just itches for someone to say something negative to me about it. :-)

July 29, 2014 Posted by | hiking, running, walking | , | 2 Comments

Topics I won’t discuss in public….

It is 59 F right now and sunny! So I am running my intervals outside (old Woodruff track) and will probably jog there from the Riverplex an then use the exercise bike afterward.

Maybe hiking later with my wife? Oddly enough, I appear to be enjoying her retirement almost as much as she is.

I’ve also refined a math idea I had; the way it works with me is that I get an idea, then I see how it works with an example. But when I attempt to write it down, I THEN see my “hidden assumptions” appear, almost as if by magic. THAT is when it gets tough..and if the idea can survive this phase decides whether the idea is going to lead to a publishable article or not.

And no, I will not submit my stuff to “crap” journals (journals that exist to make money off of page charges but have questionable editing and refereeing; such journals do exist), nor will I submit my stuff to journals that don’t have moderately high standards. No, my stuff isn’t nearly good enough to make, say, Annals of Mathematics but I don’t want to waste my time with journals that take anything that isn’t wrong. :-)

You can see what I’ve published here; most of it appears either in MAA journals or in the Journal of Knot Theory and its Ramifications.

Topics I won’t touch in public

There are some hot button issues which people react strongly to; it appears to me that some see a key word which sets them off and completely overrides their desire (or ability) to use their critical reasoning skills. It might be snarky to say that such people simply don’t have much of the latter, but I’ve seen cases in which a normally bright person simply falls apart when a sensitive pet issue is discussed.

If you follow Richard Dawkins on Twitter, you can see him dealing with this here. His point: there are degrees of offense and evil; the point being, say, that while “stealing is stealing”, it is more evil to embezzle someone’s life savings than to steal a pack of gum from a store.

While that example is benign, tempers flare when sexual assault is mentioned and when the Middle East in mentioned.

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 7.09.03 AM

Of course he is right here; to see why, compare this situation to, say, being violently sodomized by a steel rod:

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.” Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student “was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months”:

“They’d now decided — mutually, she thought — just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. ‘I basically said, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you.” And then he said, “OK, that’s fine” and stopped. . . . And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.’”

But this whole twitter discussion started with the Israel vs. Hamas in Palestine violence, which, of course, is deplorable.

The fact is that there is plenty of blame to go around, and plenty of justified resentments starting with how modern Israel was created to begin with.

I won’t get into discussions here, as there is a lot of complexity and I don’t know all of the ins and outs; I’ve seen many “reasonable sounding” arguments from many sides. Some of the best discussion I’ve seen is here. If you want to jump in, don’t go in with simplistic slogans and metaphors. Those discussing the issues know their stuff.

What I will weigh in on is this: in most wars, civilians in the battle regions typically suffer more than the fighters (WW I was a huge exception). You can find more about that in the book The Great Big Book of Horrible Things by Matthew White. So sadly, the horrible civilian death and injury toll we see in Gaza is more par for the course in war than exceptional.

July 29, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tina Fey’s anticipation of Sarah Palin’s network..

July 28, 2014 Posted by | 2012 election, humor, political humor, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Sarah Palin Channel: it might work….here is why

This is pure uninformed speculation based on no data and no studies.

Sarah Palin is offering a 100 dollar a year subscription to her own channel:

Here is why I think that it has a chance of success (maybe 15-20 percent?)

But wait! There’s more! The marquee original content thus far is a collection of short videos in which–as she’s been doing via Facebook–Palin weighs in on current events hitting longtime talking points. The trouble in Ukraine, for instance, is evidence that we need to “unlock” our natural energy resources, or Drill, Baby, Drill. Another publicizes her book from last year re-fighting the “war on Christmas.” In others, she answers questions from supporters, such as, “How many things can you name that Obama has failed at?”

Many of SPC’s short videos recall Palin’s hits for Fox News, placing her in a home-office setting backed symbolically by a carven eagle, a flag and a globe, speaking in a single take, YouTube-style; others have her speaking at an angle to the camera, as if addressing an unseen interviewer. The tone is on-brand: the folksy, familiar speech (after last year’s Phil Robertson controversy, she tells fans, “You guys rose up and said, ‘Oh my gosh, enough is enough!’”), her knack for digs that will rouse fans and aggravate detractors (Obama is “addicted to OPM”–say it out loud–”other people’s money”), the Alaskan-mountain imagery on the homepage.

Ok, that might not convince many people. BUT:

Beyond that, what SPC is trying to sell is community and connection. The site’s videos are shareable on social media–so depending on your friends-and-family list, you’ll be seeing them free on Facebook soon enough–but you can only see or post comments if you subscribe. The idea, an FAQ says, is that “the community would feel more secure”–secure enough, for instance, for one commenter to post on the Putin video that “Like most people who have been paying attention, I would trade our little Kenyan collectivist for Vladimir Putin any day.”

People might have a platform to reach like minded people without being laughed at. Given that Tea Party types are actually wealthier than average, well, who knows?

My wild guess is that she might sell this service to places like NewsMax and so they could make “give x dollars to candidate X or to PAC Y and get a Sarah Palin subscription, a 100 dollar value, ABSOLUTELY FREE” or the like.

Who knows; there are a lot of lonely people out there and some of them have money.

I think that it is more likely than not that this flops (she might quit as soon as she finds out that it is work!) but there is a bona fide chance that it works out.

No, I won’t be subscribing. :-)

Then again, there were Republicans complaining about the cost of a 27 dollar t-shirt, which really made me think: “if 27 dollars is a big political contribution for these people, why in the world are they Republicans?”

July 28, 2014 Posted by | republicans, sarah palin, social/political | | Leave a comment

Reporting, poverty, charity, minimum wage and all that….

Here is one reason that discussion on sensitive issues is so difficult: often the headlines are very misleading.

Consider this:

Fox host: Living wage supporters think workers were born with ‘deficiencies’

Now, that isn’t quite what he said:

Hosts of Fox News and Fox Business on Monday lashed out at workers who compared their struggle for higher pay to the civil rights movement, arguing that anyone who chose to work a minimum wage job was saying that they were born with “deficiencies” that kept them from getting higher pay.

Over the weekend, fast food workers in Illinois voted to use civil disobedience to fight for $15-an-hour pay, and for the right to unionize.

“To compare it to the Civil Rights Movement seems insulting,” Fox News host Steve Doocy opined on Monday.

It really is insulting,” Fox Business host Charles Payne agreed. “It’s beyond the pale. Here’s one of those things that insults almost everybody. Obviously, it would insult anyone who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and also the workers.”

“Because essentially, I guess, what you are saying to these workers is, you were born this way, in a position where you can never better yourself, you can never get an education, you can never work on the side, you can never have the knowledge, you can never go out there and pool your money together and start a business,” Payne continued. “You are stuck in this because somehow you were born with deficiencies that you’ll only have a certain skill set, the minimum skill set.”

Strictly speaking, he is arguing against equating the civil rights struggles with the minimum wage debate. He is really attacking a particular argument instead of attacking *all* arguments in favor of raising the minimum wage.

Note: I too have attacked arguments made by the “no minimum wage” people which is not the same as attacking the idea that there shouldn’t be one.

Of course, proponents of a higher minimum wage have a variety of reasons; mine is that a higher minimum wage could stimulate demand and perhaps better position someone to be able to move up by, say, furthering their education on the side (instead of getting a second job) and the like. I sued the world “could” as I haven’t seen data supporting that this actually happens. I HAVE heard that municipalities and states that have raised their minimum wage have NOT seen significant job losses.

This is an interesting study about charitable giving:

But there are complicated factors at work in helping us determine who should get our money. In a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers pick apart what makes us tighten our purse strings. And what it finds may have implications not only for people’s charitable giving but also how they feel about how Washington spends their tax dollars.

What they studied

Several studies have found that people with a high moral identity — that is, who think of themselves as moral — tend to also give more money. Saerom Lee, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas-San Antonio; Karen Winterich, associate professor of marketing at Penn State; and William Ross, professor of marketing at the University of Connecticut set out to see whether moral identity always increases charitable giving, and if not, what might get in the way.


Surf to the article to see how the test was done. They found:

The scientists found that people take aid recipients’ responsibility into account when they give money. People with high moral identities were more likely to give if they perceived people were not responsible for their own problems but less likely if the potential recipients appeared to be victims of their own decisions. Having a high moral identity increased likelihood of giving because it meant higher senses of empathy toward people who were perceived to not be responsible for their problems. Meanwhile, a stronger sense of justice got in the way when it came to recipients perceived to be responsible for their problems.

However, people tended to increase their donations when they were prompted to recall their own past moral failings, because they also had boosted senses of empathy.

I suppose that I lack compassion for the outrageously irresponsible. Sure we’ve all made mistakes; no one has lived an optimal life. But this is a bit silly:

But detractors said the Wisconsin Rep. missed the point entirely because he assumed people were to blame for their conditions.

“[I]t presupposes that the poor somehow want to be poor; that they don’t have the skills to plan and achieve and grow their way out of poverty,” wrote New York’s Annie Lowrey.

Of course, no one WANTS to be poor, but there are many who are adverse to set aside the “have fun now and don’t worry about the future” compulsion in order to have a better tomorrow. Example: I know of a brother and sister who inherited about 250K each from an estate. I KNEW, ahead of time, that the brother wouldn’t have any of it left in 2 years time whereas the sister would invest it and do well. It turns out that it took the brother 6 months to lose all of the money.

So, there is a difference between “wanting to be poor” and “making bad decision after bad decision”, being lazy (and many are), being stupid, and lacking the capacity to develop skills that would enable one to sustain themselves (extreme example: the mentally and intellectually handicapped).

To deny that there are a LOT of people in this category is to be delusional.

Of course, opportunities are unequal and the government (IMHO) has a role to play in getting the disadvantaged a shot to move up.
But there are people who will blow it no matter what society does.

July 28, 2014 Posted by | economy, politics/social, poverty, social/political | , | Leave a comment


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