Interesting excuses and examples of cluelessness

Workout notes
Some post workout “sort of” pain in the left shoulder; it is better than before.
Weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, Achilles, abs (3 sets of 10: twist, crunch, sit back, v. crunch), plank, back
pull ups: 5 sets of 10
bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 8 x 170
incline: 8 x 150, 4 x 160
military: 10 x 75, 9 x 85 standing, 1 set of 10 x (140) Hammer
curls: 2 sets of 10 dumbbell, 1 set of 10 machine
pull downs: 2 sets with the machine, 1 set 10 x 160
rows: 1 set with machine, 2 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer

Then I walked 3 miles in B. Park; I passed the XC team that was walking on the grass, doing feet exercises.

Arkansas State Legislature: are trying to regulate the kind of body piercings and tattoos one can get.

Republican Representative: drove drunk because of…gay marriage?

There is no shortage of indiscretions when it comes to politicians these days, and here is yet another. However, this one didn’t seem to learn his lesson the first time, which makes things even worse… for him, at least.

Meet Rep. Don Dwyer (R-MD). He pleaded guilty just a little while ago to operating a boat while drunk. The crash that resulted from that debacle resulted in injuries for seven people, including a five-year-old-girl. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the boat was named “The Legislator,” showing that Dwyer is, if nothing else, obnoxiously arrogant.

Now, he is making headlines again, only this time it was a car he was operating while intoxicated, not a boat. The car’s tags and registration were also expired, The Huffington Post reports. Luckily, this time, no one was hurt. Dwyer was stopped on Route 100 at about 12:45 AM this morning, due to erratic driving. According to the police report, he appeared glassy-eyed, with slurred speech. He also reportedly failed three field sobriety tests. The hearing for the boating incident is scheduled for October 25 of this year.


The real doozy comes when we examine the supposed reasoning or the drunken boating. Dwyer was interviewed by the Capital Gazette, in which he attributed his behavior on the boat to his own marriage falling apart, and to his feeling “betrayed” by fellow lawmakers who backed marriage equality legislation in Maryland. Dwyer said to the Gazette:

“I felt a tremendous amount of pressure in my family. You take those personal issues [and] add betrayal on the professional side, and it really gets to be overwhelming.”

Awww. Whatever happened to the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY Republicans?

Weirdness in lawmaking bodies is not limited to the United States though.
One Mexican Congresswoman is against gay sex because…well, they don’t look each other in the eye when having sex.

What a….”Missionary oriented” statement. :-)

College education
There are some services that people sell to the parents of college students. One such service: they will help the students REGISTER FOR CLASSES. (psst: most every college has student aides that will do this for free).

August 21, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, injury, republicans, social/political, walking, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Some Social Commentary

Check out the headlines:

Dana Rohrabacher ‘Would Defund White Trash’

Wow…that is some statement, especially coming from a Republican!
Well, to be honest, it was probably a gaffe by some staffer who tweets for this representative:

Screen shot 2013-08-10 at 3.58.28 PM

As you can see, this was answering a critic using their own language. It was, however, “tone deaf” and not a politically wise thing to say.

Man, these teabagger groups are real cold-hearted idiots, right? This was put out in Portland, Oregon:

A New Low For Tea Bagger Bigots: Public Shaming Of The Disabled


While this is a lot like public shaming of those who receive food stamps or need a high amount of pain meds to survive, it reaches a brand new low for these bigots, because they’re actually naming disabled people who receive benefits. Let’s hope that the people responsible for this are tracked down and … well, what should we do with them? Let us know in the comments. I can think of several ideas, mostly involving torches and sharp farm tools.

The Portland Commission on Disability requests that anyone who has received or seen this flyer to please report it so they may track it.

Well, while I certainly don’t like this action, it appears to me that this is some sort of “lone wolf/small group” and not some larger movement. I can’t tar all or even most Tea Party groups with this brush.

Self Esteem more of a result rather than a goal? Via Scientific American:

If your self-worth depends on success, you may be in for a fall. To feel good about yourself, think less about you and more about others.

That sounds good, but there is some actual evidence to back this up:

It turns out that having self-esteem, as a fairly stable personality trait, does have a few modest benefits. High self-esteem also has drawbacks, however, and is mostly irrelevant for success. Further the pursuit of self-esteem is clearly detrimental to well-being. When people chase after a stronger sense of self-worth, it becomes their ultimate goal, leading them to sacrifice other aspirations, such as learning or doing what is good for others.

The hunt for self-esteem through a focus on achievement makes us emotionally vulnerable to life’s inevitable travails and disappointments. It also causes us to engage in behaviors that can actually harm our chances of success, our competence and our personal relationships. A far better way to bolster your sense of self-worth is, ironically, to think about yourself less. Compassion toward others and yourself, along with a less self-centered perspective on your situation, can motivate you to achieve your goals while helping you weather bad news, learn from your mistakes and fortify your friendships.


Yet even as the self-esteem movement gained momentum, scientific research began to undermine some of its major assumptions. For one, the data did not show that many of us suffer from low self-esteem. On the contrary, most of us already feel pretty good about ourselves. In a study published in 1989 psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and his colleagues Dianne M. Tice and Debra G. Hutton, all then at Case Western Reserve University, found that the average American’s self-esteem score is well above the conceptual midpoint of self-esteem scales—the point that denotes a moderate or decent view of the self. Like the children in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, most of us have decided we are above average.

What is more, our egos seem to be expanding, not contracting. In a study published in 2008 psychologists Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University and W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia concluded that high school students like themselves more now than they did in the 1970s, even though they do not see themselves as more competent than previous generations did. That is, the students do not consider themselves better at math, music, sports or other activities than adolescents did in the past, but they think more highly of themselves anyway.


Now for the evidence:

Compassionate goals appear to engender a sense of worth and connectedness without the devastating drops that come after feedback suggestive of failure. In a study published in 2011 Crocker and Amy Canevello, now a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, examined the consequences of compassionate goals in college freshmen and their same-sex roommates. Every roommate rated the extent to which they had compassionate goals such as “be supportive of my roommate” and “be aware of the impact my behavior might have on my roommate’s feelings”; they also answered a self-esteem questionnaire at the beginning and end of the semester and each week in between. In addition, participants rated their regard for their roommate, how responsive they viewed themselves as being to their roommate’s needs and how responsive they perceived their roommate to be to their own needs.

Students with compassionate goals were more receptive to their roommates’ needs, according to both the student and the roommate. Their roommates noticed and responded in kind, creating a virtuous cycle that solidified the relationship. Furthermore, the more responsive students were, the more their self-esteem increased during the three-month semester. Their roommates’ self-esteem also rose, suggesting that having compassion for others may be an effective strategy for boosting self-esteem over the long run. In contrast, the roommates who were primarily concerned with what their roommates thought about them were less responsive to their roommates, a pattern of behavior that undermined their self-esteem and that of their roommate.

Compassion for the self seems to be linked to compassion for others. In experiments presented at the 2012 Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference, psychologists Juliana Breines and Serena Chen of the University of California, Berkeley, boosted compassion for others by asking research participants to write a note designed to make a friend feel better after causing a minor car accident. Those participants then rated themselves as higher in self-compassion than participants who recalled a fun time or read about others’ suffering.

Note: feeling good about yourself after an accomplishment is fine, but it is short lived. Focusing some on others is a more permanent way to feel good about yourself.

Salon puts yet another article that condemns some statements made by Richard Dawkins concerning Islam and Muslims. Read at your own peril.

Yes, let me make this clear: it is wrong to deny someone a job or a house or fair treatment because they belong to one religion or another. But, as far as the type of statements that Dawkins makes about Islam:

Ok. Remember, this is coming from a mainstream cleric and not some Muslim analog of the Westboro Baptist Church. (note: the Westoro Baptist Church members would be MODERATES if they were Muslims!!! After all, they merely say that their deity punishes America for a variety of “sins”; they aren’t calling for homosexuals to be put to death, as they are in some Islamic republics!)

Also: remember this?


The orange fluid is urine.

Remember the Christian riots? Remember the mainstream Christian preachers calling for Andres Serrano to be put to death?

That’s right; that didn’t happen.

Now, remember the Danish cartoons?


What happened?

You get the same thing when they don’t like a book.

Is this a small percentage of Muslims?

Well, look at what polls say:

The Pew Research Center’s vast new study on the views and attitudes of global Muslim populations was bound to create controversy. Like the U.S. public knowledge polls that find that one-third of Americans can’t name the vice president, Pew’s report includes some less-than-flattering pieces of data. And while it’s important not to generalize about entire populations or demographic groups based on one study, some of these numbers are difficult to ignore.
One of the questions, which Pew asked of Muslims in 38 countries from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, was whether or not they support making sharia the official law in the country. In many countries, the answer was overwhelmingly yes, although Pew notes that many respondents said sharia should apply only to Muslims and, just as importantly, that “Muslims differ widely in how they interpret certain aspects of sharia, including whether divorce and family planning are morally acceptable.” Many respondents reject the stricter laws and punishments for which sharia is often, fairly or unfairly, known in the West. In other words, just because some people say they support sharia law does not mean they want to make their neighbors live in a 9th-century-style caliphate.
Still, amid an otherwise innocuous or even reassuring report, Pew’s study found some disturbing details. One that jumped out for me was the alarmingly high share of Muslims in some Middle Eastern and South Asian countries who say they support the death penalty for any Muslim who leaves the faith or converts to another.
According to Pew’s data, 78 percent of Afghan Muslims say they support laws condemning to death anyone who gives up Islam. In both Egypt and Pakistan, 64 percent report holding this view. This is also the majority view among Muslims in Malaysia, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

It’s important to note, though, that this view is not widely held in all Muslim countries or even among Muslims in these regions. In Bangladesh, another majority Muslim South Asian state that has a shared heritage with Pakistan, it is about half as prevalent, with 36 percent saying they support it. Fewer than one in six Tunisian Muslims hold the view, as do fewer than one in seven Muslims in Lebanon, which has a strong Christian minority.
The view is especially rare among Central Asian and European Muslims. Only 6 percent of Russian Muslims agree that converts from Islam should face death, as do 1 percent of Albanian Muslims and, at the bottom of the chart, 0.5 percent of Kazakhs.

Still, what percentage of Christians think that people who leave Christianity should be put to death?
I suppose that one could argue that these answers reflect the backwardness of the countries which had the higher answers, but then again, look at where the riots occurred?

AGAIN none of this justifies discrimination against an individual from a religion nor does it justify banning a religion. In the United States, I have NOT seen a movement by Islam to deny anyone rights; in fact, all too often, I’ve seen it go against Muslims in America. Remember all of the stupid outrage over the “ground zero mosque”? (Park 51) In the United States, any religion has the right to build their places of worship/community where ever they have the building permits to do so.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, politics/social, religion, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Topics: smoking, smoked, slaps and prayers

No, I don’t agree with the Obama administration on everything:

The Obama administration and congressional Republicans have found something to agree on: Town councils should be allowed to open their meetings with a Christian prayer.

Lawyers for the administration and two groups of lawmakers from the House and Senate, nearly all Republicans, separately made that argument in briefs to the Supreme Court this week. The high court should relax the constitutional limits on religious invocations at government meetings, they argued.

The case could lead to a major change in the law on religion that would go well beyond prayers at council meetings. [...]

“This is a big deal of a case because of what it could mean. And it makes the administration’s position doubly disappointing,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented the two women in the New York case. “A town council meeting is not like a church service, and it shouldn’t be treated like it is.”

Unfortunately, President Obama has always been like this.

Tone deafness of a Republican PAC:
There is nothing wrong with an anti-Hillary Clinton PAC. But having a “slap Hillary” game is just tone deaf; even Republican women won’t like this.

Milton Friedman: OUCH. Friedman appears to be dissed by both sides of the economic spectrum. As Paul Krugman says:

But never mind. What I think is really interesting is the way Friedman has virtually vanished from policy discourse. Keynes is very much back, even if that fact drives some economists crazy; Hayek is back in some sense, even if one has the suspicion that many self-proclaimed Austrians bring little to the table but the notion that fiat money is the root of all evil — a deeply anti-Friedmanian position. But Friedman is pretty much absent.

This is hardly what you would have expected not that long ago, when Friedman’s reputation bestrode the economic world like a colossus, when Greg Mankiw declared Friedman, not Keynes, the greatest economist of the 20th century, when Ben Bernanke concluded a speech praising Friedman with the famous line,

Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.

Best wishes for your next ninety years.

At a fundamental level, however, this was an inconsistent position: if markets can go so wrong that they cause Great Depressions, how can you be a free-market true believer on everything except macro? And as American conservatism moved ever further right, it had no room for any kind of interventionism, not even the sterilized, clean-room interventionism of Friedman’s monetarism.

So Friedman has vanished from the policy scene — so much so that I suspect that a few decades from now, historians of economic thought will regard him as little more than an extended footnote.

e-cigarettes: is smoking in again?

“I’ve been smoking where I want and when I want,” said Sidney Prawatyotin, 36, a publicist who said that he had a pack-a-day, two-decade smoking habit before switching to e-cigarettes during New York Fashion Week last fall. “I no longer take smoke breaks from work. I no longer stink like tobacco.”

Manufacturers suggest that e-cigarettes are safer than their conventional counterparts and cheaper because they can last longer and are reusable; critics, however, say they glorify smoking and turn back the clock on public health advances.

I don’t know what the vapor smells like. But if it isn’t too bad, we have the best of both world:

1. Non smokers won’t be subject to second hand smoke and
2. We’ll attain the necessary percentages of early cancer deaths (from tobacco use) which will ensure that pensions, Social Security and Medicare won’t be overwhelmed.

Maybe screaming kids ruining a restaurant meal will be a thing of the past? I sure hope so.

I saw this on the CNN Facebook page:

Don’t mess with a military mom. A Lake Stevens, Washington, cafe owner learned that lesson the hard way this week after posting a photograph of the aftermath of a family’s visit to the Rainy Days Caffé. According to CNN affiliate KCPQ, Rainy MacDuff asked two military wives and their children to leave her restaurant when one of the children had a screaming fit, then photographed the scone crumbs the group had left under a table.

Rainy MacDuff’s Facebook post captioned, “I’d like to take this time to thank our customers with small children who don’t make messes,” was intended to draw sympathy to restaurant staff forced to clean up after their young patrons. Instead, it backfired, going viral and eliciting comments threatening boycotts of the business and bodily harm to MacDuff after one of the mothers, Kellea Poore, shared the post with friends and called for an apology. [...]

Never mind this constant “don’t mess with A MOM” memes….seriously, most moms are rather average people. Get real. But the other point is that the Facebook link generated a ton of discussion, and much of it was about PRAISING the owner for kicking out the families with the misbehaving kids! Seriously folks, your kids are your problem. Don’t inflict them on others.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, political/social, religion, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

The NRA ad I’d love to see


Your move, NRA. (yes, I suggest following all legal requirements for having a gun, including age requirements)

July 17, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

My thoughts on the Zimmerman Case

I went to be well after midnight; that is very rare for me. We just got home from a local play (a musical: Anything Goes). It was interesting: the play had good music and performances but the audience was well over 95 percent white and old. Of course everything was stereotyped in the play but there were very crude caricatures of Chinese there.

Over intermission Barbara told me that Zimmerman was found “not guilty”. I’ll discuss my thoughts on the matter here.

First about the verdict itself: at first, it surprised me. But the reason is surprised me is that I had NOT been paying attention to the trial; I saw a snippet here and there but mostly focused on other things. Note that I had not blogged about the trial.

People who did pay attention though had some interesting things to say.

First, there were no blacks on the jury. That was risky, at least on how the verdict would be received by the public.

Next: the state had a difficult case to prove; those who had legal experience and had observed the trial thought that Zimmerman would be acquitted. (also here)

Remember that it was public pressure that brought this to trial to begin with? It would be easy to dismiss the reluctance to bring this to trial as the result of simple racism, but it seems likely, to me anyway, that the district attorneys knew that the case would be almost impossible to win, given the way the Florida law is written.

Though it was clear that Zimmerman hassled Martin without justification and that he got out of the car to confront him, we don’t know what happened for sure after that. Had Zimmerman been followed back to the car, the Florida law might have found that Zimmerman was acting in “self defense”. We don’t know for sure, and there needs to be a “beyond reasonable doubt” for the jury to convict:

“Remember, it’s monumentally irrelevant who’s morally guilty here,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax. “Whether or not Zimmerman was a racist and racially profiled and shouldn’t have been doing it and didn’t listen to police, that’s all irrelevant in Florida law.”

And that is where my anger comes from. The kid was walking, as he has a right to do, and he was unjustly confronted and hassled by someone who was TOLD to leave him alone by the police that he called. People have the right to walk in public without being hassled, and the darker skinned males (especially blacks) are denied that.

I have a special hatred for self aggrandizing “know-it-alls” like George Zimmerman; these are people who just think that they have some inherent authority to police others.

Then there is the nauseating reactions by some conservatives.

There is some fear that this verdict gives the green light to vigilantes, but I am not so sure.
What is not as well publicized is this:

Sometimes justice is meted out in stages.
Trayvon Martin’s parents have settled a wrongful death claim with the homeowners association of the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the Florida housing complex where their son was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
The undisclosed sum is believed to be more than $1 million, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

No, the value of a young man’s life cannot be measured in money; to suggest otherwise would be vulgar in the extreme.

But this is what I am talking about: homeowners association are going to think twice about letting some lose cannon volunteer for them. Insurance companies that provide liability insurance to such associations will see to that.

So maybe, for only for insurance reasons, these groups will be more careful.

July 15, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, racism, social/political | , , | 2 Comments

DOMA, climate change and all that

Workout notes
weights: usual hip hikes, achilles, rotator cuff, ab sets (3 sets of 10: crunch, v. crunch, sit back)
squats: 4 sets of 5: 45, 75, 95, 95
pull ups: 2 sets of (4 x 5 reps (tiny rests; change grip), 1 set of 10 (burn!)
dumbbell military/row super set: 3 sets each (12 x 50 military, 10 x 65 row)
incline: 10 x 135, 5 x 155, 7 x 150
curl/pull down super set: 3 sets each: 10 x 160 pull down, 10 x 30 dumbbell curls
back, etc.

See a butterfly that appears to be right side up when it is actually upside down; this fools predators.

President Obama’s climate change battle plan: involves executive orders and science. Here is a short Scientific American write up:

The plan, which consists of a long list of actions the executive branch can take with no help or hindrance from Congress, has three “pillars.” One is to cut carbon dioxide emissions, two is to “prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change,” and three is lead international efforts to achieve the same two goals.

Many of the preview stories streaming across the media focus on the first goal, which includes a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions of 17 percent by 2020, below 2005 levels. The big provisions there are to have the Environmental Protection Agency limit CO2 emissions from power plants, especially coal-fired plants, and from heavy trucks, buses and vans. But little is being written about how the plan intends to reduce death and destruction from the ravages of climate change, including heat waves, more severe storms, storm surges and sea level rise—what Obama calls “American’s climate resilience.”

The plan, released to the media before the speech, calls for conserving land and water, making agriculture more sustainable, reducing the effects of drought and wildfires, improving flood protection, and hardening power plants, hospitals and fuel-supply channels against extreme weather of all kinds. The key to all of that, the plan notes in surprising detail, is more science.

For example, to ensure that flood barriers provide protection long-term, federal agencies will update their standards to account “for sea-level rise and other factors affecting flood risk. This effort will incorporate the most recent science on expected rates of sea-level rise (which vary by region)…” Another example: The Department of Agriculture will create seven new “regional climate hubs” to deliver “tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.”


Weather: we seem to be getting pounded unusually often by lines of thunderstorms. The cause: unusual sinusoidal path of the jet stream. Instead of staying on more or less the same latitude, it is dipping and rising in a circular wave pattern.


Yes, the loss of Arctic sea ice is affecting the path of the jet stream, and did last year (felt mostly in Europe).

Social/Political Issues
No, Keynesianism doesn’t mean “always run deficits” and “always spend”. “Spending for the bust, austerity for the boom”, is the motto.

Gay Marriage: the SCOTUS decision is good news:

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

He said the law was motivated by a desire to harm gay and lesbian couples and their families, demeaning the “moral and sexual choices” of such couples and humiliating “tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

The constitutional basis for striking down the law was not entirely clear, as it had elements of federalism, equal protection and due process. Justice Kennedy said the law’s basic flaw was in its “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

He added that the ruling applied only to marriages in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The part of DOMA that says that states don’t have to recognize same sex marriages made in other states was allowed to stand:

The decision leaves in place another provision in the law that says no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state. That provision was not under challenge.

Still, we need to pass gay marriage in Illinois; the roadblock is the Democratically controlled State House (it has passed the State Senate and the Governor said he’d sign it); the churches are the fly in the ointment.

Of course, some are throwing a tantrum:

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 10.36.06 AM

Sorry, but religions that posit a deity that has “a will” ARE dangerous. Imagine: policy is being decided, in part, by what someone thinks that their imaginary entity thinks.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, climate change, economics, economy, evolution, huckabee, human sexuality, science, social/political, Spineless Democrats, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Diverging from some of my fellow liberals…sort of…

Workout notes
Weights only: rotator cuff, hip hikes, Achilles exercises, 3 sets of 10 abs: sit back, v. crunch, crunch.
Pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (tougher than usual today)
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 8 x 170
incline: (weak); 2 sets of 6 x 150
dumbbell military: 3 sets of 12 with 50
rows; 2 sets of 210 Hammer machine, 1 set of 10 (each arm) 65 pound dumbbell.
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curls: 2 sets of 10 x 57.5 pulley, 10 x 65 EZ curl bar.
squats: 5 x 45, 5 x 65, 5 x 85, 5 x 95. Note: getting “down there” is easier; some day I’ll be able to use real weight. I think. Right now, this is almost more “assisted stretching” than anything else.

Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 11.09.19 AM

I remember when reel to reel was state of the art, when it came to listening to music; this was the mid to late 1970′s. Have things changed! Now-a-days, today’s technology is almost obsolete tomorrow.

Check out this gecko whose tail resembles a decaying leaf. Just seeing the gecko in the photo is difficult.

Military Sexual Assault
While it is true that a woman in the military is much more likely to get sexually assaulted than a man, it is also true that MOST of the sexual assault victims are male! Of course, some of it is gay related, and some of it is brutal hazing.

I remember when I was in the Navy: it was a joke that one major steam valve in the engine room was something that was used to “grease” uppity new crew members (“uppity” in: not showing enough deference).

There is now a business for cheap satellites to take images to aid conservationists, businesses and the like. The idea that cheap cameras can help track things, if their images are linked together. Examples: one can keep track of how crowded a business parking lot is, the growth of a mine area, overhead damages to property after a storm, etc.

It is true that, in the United States, those who are openly opposing GMO’s via a protest lean liberal. But as far as rank and file opinions on the issue, there isn’t much difference between conservatives and liberals on the issue:

Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 11.59.11 AM

Note: there is a caveat here. I am NOT a knee-jerk anti-GMO type, but I agree that often, the organic stuff tastes better so sometimes I prefer that.

But there is more here:

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.”

Note: my counterattack is against the unreasonable “if it is GMO then it must be bad” types; unfortunately many of these are very noisy.

I am not a scientist and so do NOT have professional level knowledge of the science of the issue, though I am well versed in the statistical issues of an experiment.

Therefore, I tend to rely on science sources (e. g. science magazines) and here is Nature Magazine’s GMO special. I’ve read most of it; it appears to be nuanced.

NSA and “whistle-blowing”
There is a fine line between being a responsible “whistle blower” and being reckless and seeing yourself as being more knowledgable than you really are. It appears to me that Edward Snowden crossed that line.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, science, social/political, weight training | , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Change

Gay Rights: the anti-gay rights faction is losing corporate America. Example:

PEORIA — Boy Scouts of America may have ended its ban on openly gay scouts, but that wasn’t enough for Caterpillar Inc.
The Peoria-based international company said Wednesday it will no longer fund Boy Scout troops because the BSA still discriminates against gay Scout leaders.
“While we applaud the decision by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that youth may no longer be denied membership on the basis of sexual orientation or preference, the fact remains that the BSA continues a policy that does not allow adult leaders who are open or avowed homosexuals,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.
“Because this policy does not align with Caterpillar’s enterprise policies on discrimination against sexual minorities, the Caterpillar Foundation does not invest in the BSA,” the statement continued.
Historically, the foundation has funded Scout troops, according to spokeswoman Rachel Potts. But when the foundation reviewed a $25,000 grant renewal request from the central Illinois scouting council, W.D. Boyce Council, the foundation reconsidered its funding of all Boy Scout troops.

If they lose corporate America, it is over. :-)

Civil Rights
This is why I still back affirmative action programs:

This is not to say that I back EVERY affirmative action program or that there aren’t sometimes some abuses in these. I know of NO human program that doesn’t have flaws.

Nevertheless, the evidence is that systematic race based discrimination still exists.

Religion and knowledge
If you think that I am hard on religion, read Jerry Coyne’s rant.

Personally, I am not as serious as Jerry Coyne. I see no evidence that compels me to take the claims of religion seriously. Mano Singham put it well:

What atheists like me say to religious believers is simply the following: If the existence of your god has empirical consequences, then provide empirical evidence that supports your contention. If it has no empirical consequences whatsoever, then say so and we will not interfere with your theological and philosophical ruminations because we do not really care to speculate on the properties of what we consider to be a mythical entity.

June 13, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, racism, religion, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

The NSA flap and where I part ways with many of my “friends”

Disclaimer: I served in the United States Navy; in particular: the submarine service. I once held a Top Secret clearance and understood the following:
1. There was a good reason some things were classified
2. Though I knew some details, I did NOT have access to the big picture
3. There were lots of things that I didn’t know; some of it was due to not having access and some of it was due to my limitations: intelligence, experience and maturity.

And so we have two very young, very inexperienced so-called whistle blowers in the news.

And yes, some who I respect are defending them (here and here)

Now there are some things that are undeniably true:
1. The government will lie from time to time
2. The government will sometimes classify things out of embarrassment rather than for genuine security reasons.

There is no doubt about that.

But on the other hand, young people on the bottom of the totem pole: well, they are NOT among the smartest we have, nor are they among the most experienced.
These issues are complicated and difficult to sort out; I wish they would have, say, gone to Congress with those issues.

Yes, when President Bush was in charge, I was among those clamoring for Congressional oversight and for judicial oversight. And yes, we HAVE that here, although the programs are now more expansive than they were under President Bush.

So, let’s have that debate, in terms of what spy powers we want our government to have.

But please, I’d rather not let our security be decided by the most mediocre and inexperienced among us.

June 10, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, political/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Gasp…not used to it

Workout notes
Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 8.55.22 AM

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 7.43.15 AM

This “sort of” run took me 56 minutes; it didn’t feel that bad until one got moving. The Park: about .9 miles to the loop so I did 4 loops plus 2 minutes and it was about .6 miles to the entrance and back.

It WAS pretty though; it was about half exposed rock/cement (hard) and half grass/packed small gravel (like the old cinder tracks).

Fundamentalist Christians vs. Mormons: Evidently Mormons complained because one fundie didn’t consider them to be Christian (and I don’t either), so the fundie replies. One commenter noticed how the fundie applied logic and reason to the Mormon faith but NOT to his own!

Yoga: leaves room for Satan, according to a Republican politician.

The Obama administration and wire tapping
I am a bit disappointed in the Obama administration’s lack of commitment to civil liberties. But there is one key difference between what it is doing and what the Bush administration did:

The Obama administration is secretly carrying out a domestic surveillance program under which it is collecting business communications records involving Americans under a hotly debated section of the Patriot Act, according to a highly classified court order disclosed on Wednesday night.

A senior Obama administration official said on Thursday morning that the business records of Verizon customers sought in the court order disclosed by the newspaper The Guardian “does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls” and “does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber,” but rather “relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of the call.”

The official emphasized that “all three branches of government are involved in reviewing and authorizing” any domestic intelligence collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and that any surveillance activities under it are overseen by the Justice Department, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FISA Court “to ensure that they comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties.”

“Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States,” the official said.

The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in April, directs a Verizon Communications subsidiary, Verizon Business Network Services, to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” to the National Security Agency all call logs “between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

(emphasis mine)

There was a warrant! Many of us complained about warrantless wiretapping; we wanted at least a bit of oversight.

June 6, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, religion, running | , , | Leave a comment


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