Move over lowlifes! I am now a REGISTERED REPUBLICAN!!!!

Ok you slackers, moochers, evolutionists, Keynesian economists and other deadbeats: you had better watch out when you come here. I am now a REGISTERED REPUBLICAN!!!!!!

Personal Responsibility! No more welfare! (tax breaks for the filthy rich job creators are ok).

My vote: I voted for Bruce Rauner for governor. Why? Well…..bootstraps, rich people are the smartest people and all of that ….

(my guess: in the general election he won’t listen to anyone else and end up getting beat)

Now to go run…

March 18, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, Illinois, political humor, politics | | Leave a comment

IL-Governor’s race (primary)

We have a primary election in 6 days; there isn’t much happening on the Democratic side so, as is allowed in Illinois, I might take a Republican ballot.

So, our Republicans have a 4 way race going on to see who will get the honor of losing to Gov. Pat Quinn in November.

Here is the state of the race as of last weekend:

The Illinois Republican governor’s race is tightening, with Bruce Rauner leading and Kirk Dillard surging as the candidates head into the final days of the campaign trying to peel away support from rivals and recruit undecided voters into their camp.

A new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows Rauner, the wealthy first-time candidate from Winnetka at 36 percent support — down 4 percentage points from a month ago amid a blitz of labor union-backed TV ads attacking his business dealings as a venture capitalist.

But Dillard, a state senator from Hinsdale with the backing of major public employee unions, has emerged as the new chief alternative to Rauner. The poll showed Dillard at 23 percent, doubling his support since last month, especially among Downstate voters.

Dillard’s gains came as state Sen. Bill Brady and Treasurer Dan Rutherford lost support in recent weeks. Brady was at 18 percent, down from 20 percent in early February. Rutherford, who was hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former employee last month, was at 9 percent — a 4-percentage-point drop from the last poll.

Note: in a previous debate, Rutherford sounded the best to me but Republican moderates usually don’t do so well with the Republican base. Brady lost a hotly contested race against Gov. Quinn in the previous election (2010).

The nature of the attacks on Rauner are interesting. One PAC (Illinois Freedom) is going after him. They are attacking his nursing home related businesses:

Via Illinois Freedom:

Hasn’t Bruce Rauner’s business done enough damage? Check the facts:

From 1981-2012, Rauner Has Served As Managing Director, Senior Principal, And Chairman Of GTCR [Bloomberg Profile]

2004: Trans HealthCare Press Release Identified TransHealthcare As “A GTCR Portfolio Company.” [Trans HealthCare Press Release, 6/2/04]
GTCR Co-Founded Trans Healthcare Inc. In 1998. [GTCR Press Release, 12/5/2002]

2013: A Florida Man Was Awarded A Verdict Of $1.2 Billion In A Suit Against Trans Health After His Mother, Arlene Townsend, Died In The Nursing Home. [Christian Post, 7/24/13]
Attorneys Presented Evidence That Townsend Suffered 18 Falls In Her 6 Years At The Home- Suffering A Broken Hip That Went Undiagnosed For A Week As Well As Severe Infections, Chronic Stomach Pains With Fecal Impaction, Skin Tears, Malnutrition And Dehydration Before Dying At The Age Of 69. [WTSP, 7/25/13]

2012: Jury Awarded $200 Million To Family Of Elvira Nunziata Who Fell Down A Flight Of Stairs In Her Wheelchair And Died At A Home Managed By Trans Health—No One Noticed Her Absence For An Hour And She Died Shortly After Paramedics Arrived. [Tampa Bay Times, 1/13/12]

2010: A Jury Awarded A $114 Million Dollar Verdict To The Family Of Juanita Jackson Who Died After Staying At A Nursing Home Managed By Trans Health Care; The Woman “Was Hurt After Falling Down And Received Other Injuries From Pressure Sores, Overmedication, Malnourishment, And Dehydration.” [The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), 7/21/10]

2010: A Widow Was Awarded A $900 Million Verdict Against Trans Health Care After Her Husband Joseph Webb “Suffered Pressure Sores And Infections That Required Surgeries, Including An Above-The-Knee Amputation Of His Right Leg.” [Gainesville Sun, 2/12/10]

They also go after him by “guilt by association” attacks:

The Dillard campaign is also attacking him….for being….too rich and not caring about the poor? (remember: this is a REPUBLICAN primary)

He is too rich to understand us? (remember: this is a REPUBLICAN primary)

This ad: probably more effective, as it links him with Democrats and influence peddling:

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Illinois, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics | , , | Leave a comment

If you don’t like the current weather, wait 10 minutes…


Ah, a 40 degree drop plus snow. :-P

But it is supposed to be up to the high 40’s/low 50’s by the end of the week. Go figure.

March 11, 2014 Posted by | Illinois, Peoria, Peoria/local | | Leave a comment

Not my imagination…

Yes, it is colder and more snowy than normal in Illinois this year.

February 15, 2014 Posted by | Illinois, Peoria | | Leave a comment

Republican: my GOP opponent is too rich to understand you!


Our streets: neighborhood streets are basically compressed snow/ice; the plows merely put the looser snow on the sidewalks. Sidewalks along main street are buried…I mean completely unwalkable. This has to be the least pedestrian friendly city I’ve seen. The university has its walks clear at least.

Workout notes: weights: rotator cuff (full set), hip hikes, Achilles, NO ABS (get them tomorrow)
pull ups: 10+5, 4 sets of 10
dumbbell super set: 3 sets of: 12 x 50 military (supported, seated), 10 x 25 upright row, 10 x 65 bent over row, 10 x 70 bench
superset: curls and pull downs: 10 x 160 pull down (3 sets), dumbbell curl 10 x 30 (2 sets), pulley 10 x 57.5 (one set)

Then swimming (early):
400 warm up (slow)
400 drill/swim (fins), 4 x 25 front, 25 swim, 2 x 25 side kick, 25 swim, 2 x 25 3g, 25 swim
400 in 8 x 50 on the 1:10 (53-55)
100 in 1:52
2 x 100 IM on 3 (2:30 each)

It went fine; I don’t want to hurt my rotator cuff. NO paddles, NO pulling. :-)

Illinois politics
Kirk Dillard ran this ad against Bruce Rauner (the front runner)

What do we have here? We have a REPUBLICAN calling another REPUBLICAN “too rich”????? Seriously? Why that is CLASS WARFARE!!!! (ROTFLMAO !!!!!)

February 7, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, Illinois, swimming, weight training, whining | , , | Leave a comment

Different start and a couple of thoughts…Good Old Days and Bill Nye’s debate

Today, I woke up, checked some e-mail and yes, did some math. That might be a way to start my Tuesday/Thursday when I start to teach late: get up, start my duties and THEN break for a run/walk as I’ll take in a few moments.

It will be indoors, again:


Our neighborhood streets are solid compressed snow and ice.

What is going on: the jet stream is still either over us or below us and that arctic air mass is just parked over us.

What I am working on: it is somewhat technical. But imagine you want to find solve f(x) = 0 where the solution is impossible to solve “in closed form” (e. g. solve it like you did in algebra class). There are numerical techniques that you can use a computer for. If you’ve had calculus, you might recognize Newton’s method where if x_{n} is an approximation to the solution, x_{n+1} = x_n -\frac{f(x_n)}{f'(x_n)} where f'(x) is the derivative of f. Never mind that; the point is that one generates a series of approximations to the solution (provided certain conditions are met): x_1, x_2, x_3, .....x_n, x_{n+1}, .... which are hopefully getting closer to the desired solution. If you met the correct “starting requirements” and the solution exists, this sequence of numbers WILL get close to your desired solution.

One problem though: “how many times do you have to do this?” is an important question. One reason: the computer can’t store every number exactly; hence there is round off error, and that error grows with each calculation.
So, if it is the case where each approximation x_n has error inherently built in, it might be possible (if certain conditions are met) to take your series of approximations and manipulate them so that the larger “inherent errors” subtract off and one gets close to the solution in a fewer number of steps. One adds calculation early (adding round off error) to save many more calculations later (greatly reducing round off error).

One such process is called the Aitken Delta-squared process and that is what I was working on.

Two thoughts

Thought one: the Good Old Days:

A Facebook Friend (Rachel Portnoy Bradley) had this to say:

Okay, I’m just going to say this once more: No, I don’t miss the days when gas was 15 cents a gallon, and your curfew was “when the street lights came on,” and kids were more afraid of their parents than of the cops…..
Because back then, women, minorities, gays, and other marginalized people had even fewer rights than they have now. Crime is not really significantly worse now than it was then. It’s just than when a man beats his wife to a pulp, he can be convicted and jailed for it now, whereas back then, it was just seen as a domestic issue and no business of anyone else. People are still killing other people. People are still loving other people. People are still dying of curable diseases. People are still committing random acts of kindness.
And what a lot of conservatives don’t like to admit, but what the facts support, is that even the white, male, heterosexual population is better off when non-whites, females, gays, and any marginalized segments of society gain strength and power. Power is a renewable resource, increasing for the whole when it increases for a part; not a finite, limited supply.
In general, more of us are better off than we were 20, 40 years ago. I wouldn’t trade my penny candy memories for gas-guzzling over-poluting cars and institutionalized misogyny, not ever.

She is right, of course. I think that when we remember the past, we remember the good but not the bad. And change is NEVER all good; for example we live longer (most of us anyway) but that means there are more elderly who live long enough to lose their minds through dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

What was curious though was one of the replies she got (she is religious and has religious friends):

In matters of the flesh, it certainly does seem things are better than they were.

But in matters of the Spirit, we are not better off, we are worse off and it is deteriorating from there.

We are abandoning God. That is never a sign that things are “better”, no matter the outward appearance that they are.

That leads to the next point. There are those who use religion to better their own lives in the hear-and-now, but to all too many, there is an inherent virtue to accepting some woo-woo supernatural claim (THEIR claim, of course) and rejecting it is a type of evil.

I can’t have an intellectual discussion with someone who is that delusional.

Which leads me to discuss the Bill Nye “The Science Guy” (educator) versus Ken Ham (owner of the creation museum).

I might watch the debate later

There are two schools of thought:

1. Bill Nye didn’t understand that this was an exercise in politics: hence he lost by merely showing up.

2. Bill Nye won the day by presenting some science to people who don’t see a lot of it. Maybe, just maybe, he planted a seed of science that might later germinate in a young mind.

Ok, there is a third, less popular school of thought: show up and insult the creationist as a charlatan. Here, the scientist started off by making some blunt accusations against the creationist and then offered the creationist a chance to electrocute himself:

Prior to the debate, I was in camp 1, but after the debate (which I didn’t watch), I thought ….well…remembered as a kid I once believed that superstitious nonsense….maybe? Then again, I kind of “evolved” out of it by basically living among more educated people. I have deep respect for those who manage to find their way out while staying in the same environment.

Ok, time to get it….

February 6, 2014 Posted by | creationism, evolution, Illinois, mathematics, politics/social, religion, science, social/political | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bustos joins the Blue Dogs: bad move

Let me get this straight from the start: I am supporting Cheri Bustos in her election against tea party extremist Bobby Schilling. I’ve even given her campaign a small amount of money. But I am bothered by her joining the “Blue Dog” democrats (a group for moderate to conservative democrats)

But: if she really is conservative, then I suggest we look for someone else; remember that in the 2012 election, Barack Obama won her district by 17 points. She won that district by 6.

So this isn’t a case of, say, having a Democrat in a red region; I can completely understand accommodating conservative Democrats in Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Montana, etc. That is NOT the situation here.

Unfortunately, on appearances, her embrace of this group appears to be a reaction to being in what might be a tight race.

That might be a misreading of what a tight race means.

Many think that a close race means that there are a sizable number of “unpersuaded” voters who will decide the election. In such a case, appearing to “move to the center” might work. But there are also races that are tight because the region is genuinely split between people who are highly unlikely to change their mind (think: North Carolina). In the latter case, one wins by getting people to the polls and they need a reason to show up.

President’s Truman’s words were very wise:

I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.

But when a Democratic candidate goes out and explains what the New Deal and fair Deal really are–when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people–then Democrats can win, even in places where they have never won before. It has been proven time and again.

I hope that Bustos doesn’t continue down this path.

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, IL-17, Illinois, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

unexpected “snow” day

We had the day off due to weather; I suppose the university felt pressure to make a “night before” decision and there *might have* been white out conditions the next day.

Still, from my point of view it was sort of comical; I live only a walk away, there was hardly any snow and I ended up going to the public gym (which WAS open) and lifting (as usual) and walking 5K OUTSIDE. Yes, it WAS cold (close to 0 F) but not that bad if you were dressed for it.

What made this weather interesting is that there was a 40 degree drop (F, about 22 degree drop in C) over an 8 hour period. Now something like this has happened in 1836 in Illinois, back before we had forewarning of such events. I can recommend climatologist Jim Angel’s report on this; it is very interesting.

Other posts
Bruce Schneier has an interesting post on how income inequality can be seen as a security threat of sorts (think: a more equitable society might need fewer resources devoted to security). Paul Krugman points out how unhinged some of the super wealthy have become; some are equating having to pay more tax with…the start of the Nazi lead holocaust?

Why might they become unhinged? Well, when you are that rich, who are going to tell you that your idea is nuts? There is some value to not living in a bubble of “yes people”.

Larry Moran directs us to an excellent post called “Seven things about evolution“. It is a non-technical post; a non-scientist should be able to understand all of it.

Then some scientists describe their trip to the Creation Museum. There is some laughter but some sadness. My wife had no desire to go; she didn’t want to give them money.

I admit that I mostly laugh at them…but then I had to remember that *I* started early life believing that BS. How many will start with that and NOT break away?

So I suppose I ought not laugh too hard even if I am tempted to dismiss most of the visitors as “the hopeless who’ll never amount to anything.” They might be ruining some potentially fine minds.

January 28, 2014 Posted by | economics, economy, evolution, Illinois, science, social/political | , | Leave a comment

GOP governor’s debate, math and science

Workout notes
short version: weights plus elliptical: elliptical was 30 minutes, much of it on “butt” setting.
weights: did the rotator cuff series and McKenzie set afterward; hip hikes and Achilles during.
pull ups: 5 or 6 sets of 10; lost count.
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 7 x 170 (more challenging than expected)
military press (dumbbell): 3 x (12 x 50)
upright row (dumbbell): 3 x (10 x 25)
dumbbell curl: 3 x (10 x 30)
pull downs: 3 x (10 x 160)
rows (Hammer): 3 x (10 x 220)
abs: 3 sets of 10: crunch, v. crunch, sit back, twist.

It is still cold (3 F, or -16 C) , and the neighborhood streets are still mostly the type of ice that comes from cars driving over snow. The city plows do just enough to bury the sidewalks in ice but not enough to really plow the streets to pavement. Peoria, IL is a nasty city during wintertime.

But while this is one of the two really bad recent winters, it isn’t out of the ordinary by HISTORICAL standards:

Based on preliminary data, the average temperature statewide is 20.0 degrees. That is 6.3 degrees below average and ranked as the 17th coldest January on record. Of course, if the forecast holds for the rest of January, we would end up colder. Here is a list of the 20 coldest monthly average temperatures in January. The column marked “Temperature” is for the January statewide temperature and the column marked “Departure” is for the departure from the 1981-2010 average of 26.3 degrees.

Surf to the link to see the rest; note that 1994, 2009, 2010 make the list.

And yes, we are hearing “global warming is a hoax”:


(hat tip: Why Evolution is True)

More science
There is a type of shrimp that has eyes with more color receptors (12) than human eyes have (3). But:

It’s tempting to think that with 12 color receptors, mantis shrimp see a rainbow humans can’t even conceive. But Marshall and his colleagues found the opposite. They trained mantis shrimp to associate certain wavelengths of light with food. As the wavelength of light defines its color, this meant that the shrimp saw certain colors as harbingers of treats.

They then showed the shrimp two colored-lights and let them choose the one that would get them treats by grabbing or tapping at it with their claws. By altering the wavelength of the lights, the researchers could figure out how good the shrimp were at telling one hue from another.

As it turned out, the shrimp could differentiate wavelengths that were about 25 nanometers apart, essentially the difference that separates orange and yellow. In comparison, humans can discriminate shades that are as little as 1 nanometer to 4 nanometers apart.

“They’re definitely not seeing the world of color in as much detail as other animals,” Marshall said of the shrimp.

So why keep the 12-receptor system? Marshall and his colleagues aren’t sure how it works yet, but they suspect the shrimps process color very quickly by setting up patterns of receptor excitation that correspond to certain colors. Imagine, for example, that every receptor is an empty bucket. If a couple of buckets on one end of the spectrum appear full, the shrimp knows it’s seeing red. On the other end of the spectrum, the buckets represent blue.

In other words, mantis shrimp might not so much process colors in the brain as recognize them in the eye, a technique that could help the animals quickly pick out colors in their brilliant reef environment.

Note: some internet memes get this wrong. Surprised?

Speaking of coloring: this blog post discusses an aspect of knot theory and, by mathematics standards, is very readable. So if you want a glimpse of what I think about from time to time, surf there.

Now on the opposite end of the intellectual scale

The Republicans had a governor candidates debate last night; it was 90 minutes and I saw about 65 minutes of it.

The line up: treasurer (Rutherford) (won his race when Gov. Quinn got reelected), political novice BUT A BUSINESSMAN (Rauner) (and the leader in the polls ..), the state senator that Gov. Quinn beat last time (Brady, a creationist) and another double chinned state lawmaker (Dillard).

From my point of view, this was the quote of the day:

In one of the few barbs during the debate, Rutherford pledged he wouldn’t have need “training wheels” to start running the state — a veiled shot at Rauner, who has never run for political office.

“I’m a reasonable Republican. I’m not a Republican with a horn and a tail,” Rutherford said.

But Rauner didn’t back down, proudly portraying himself as a government outsider.

“I’m the only one who hasn’t been in Springfield for decades,” he said.

Since Rutherford stressed his reasonableness and openly said that diversity (racial, religious and cultural) is a good thing, and stressed that knowing what one is doing is a good thing, he has no chance in the GOP primary.

Most of the debate: “Chicago sucks, marijuana is bad, we need more educational funding but lower taxes”, etc.

Before too long, this race might devolve into “which candidate will execute more witches”.

If that remark seems too snarky, you might be underestimating how dumb the Republicans in Illinois are.

Susanne Atanus, one of two Republicans taking aim at U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s seat representing Illinois’ 9th congressional district covering Chicago’s Far North Side and the North Shore suburbs, spoke out about the incumbent’s liberal reputation during an interview with the Daily Herald this week.

“I am not in favor of abortions, I am not in favor of gay rights,” Atanus, who has staged two previous unsuccessful runs for Congress, said during a videotaped portion of the interview, before going into more detail with the paper.

“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she added, blaming natural disasters like tornadoes and diseases including autism and dementia on recent advances in the LGBT movement. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

David Earl Williams III, Atanus’ primary opponent, can be seen smirking through much of Atanus’ statements in the Herald video and said he was offended by her comments, though he also does not support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Yes, these remarks have drawn rebukes from some Republican leaders, but they are not that far off what many of the GOP primary voters believe.

January 24, 2014 Posted by | biology, Illinois, mathematics, Republican, republican party, republicans, science, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Some halftime stats and science

Yes, I am blogging at halftime of the Oklahoma versus Alabama game. OU leads 31-17 but Alabama has the type of team that can overcome adversity…and I remember the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl where Duke lead 38-17 at the half only to lose to the (ugh) Aggies.

The quality of this blog has suffered recently due to…well, increasing business. First it was the super busy semester and then it was vacation.

Hopefully, I can talk about a few things of substance this time.

Weather: yes, it is very cold in Illinois this “winter”. The jet stream has dipped and we are paying the price as the Jet Stream holds back the Arctic Air Mass.

Screen shot 2014-01-02 at 9.42.12 PM

Now of course, Republicans deny global warming…and now an increasing number are denying evolution:

There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.

Paul Krugman says that this reflects increasing tribalism (“what does a good conservative believe?”) which, of course, has consequences in other public policy matters (e. g. macroeconomics). Hence Republican candidates have to be very careful not to present the unvarnished truth if they want to keep their base (e. g., Mitt Romney walking back his statements about cutting spending during a recession limiting growth)

Now, there is peril for liberals here too: this is one reason those of us who are scientifically literate must speak out for science, even when it goes against what many of our liberal political allies might think:

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 (GMO) 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.”

The same applies to woo-woo, “alternative medicine”, the irrational attacks against “fracking” (some attacks about it being improperly or inappropriately used ARE legitimate), etc.

I don’t want liberal leaning media to be at the point where it makes the reader more ignorant than before; here is an example of the Wall Street Journal doing exactly that (on income inequality).

Aging and time to failure curves
It is well known that as we age, the probability of dying in a given year goes up. In fact, the probability of dying in a given year doubles with every 8 years of life. Example: if you are married to someone who is 16 years older than you are, they are 4 times more likely to die in a given year than you are.

This article discusses the various mechanisms of why this might be true; it makes for interesting reading.

The bottom line: the model of the attacks on the body being produced at a constant rate, but the body’s ability to fight those attacks being reduced at a linear rate DOES fit this model.

Now as far as the bathtub curve, the lead in to this reliability engineering blog post gives a nice introduction to it, though this article deals with how current reliability engineering deals with “burn in failures” and how “time to obsolescence” affects the curve.

January 3, 2014 Posted by | economics, economy, environment, evolution, Illinois, political/social, republicans, science, statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment


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