Evolution in my own back yard

Workout notes: NOTHING.

Main street mile tonight; my heat leaves at 7:20. I hope to do better than I did last week. It will be hot, but to improve, all I need to do is to hold back for the first 1/4 and not go crazy in the second 1/4.

I was in the back cutting and dealing with some of the weeds and weed trees. What I’ve noticed: since I started to pull more and more weeds by the roots, a type of weed with a prickly stem has become more prominent. It has a very shallow root; I saw one growing in an old pile of dirt near the garage. Clearly, these prickles act as a defense against being eaten or being otherwise destroyed. Reproductive success is what matters.

Then I had quite a few rabbits in the back yard as I worked. Formerly, rabbits were very, very shy, running away before I could get near them. Now their comfort distance is much, much shorter than it used to be. In fact, I asked one to move so I could pass the power cord to my mower beneath it. I am not saying that they are completely comfortable with me; they aren’t. But they are comfortable getting much, much closer to me than they ever did before.

June 27, 2014 Posted by | biology, nature, Peoria, Peoria/local, science | , , | Leave a comment

THAT was humbling…

“Ok, let’s do my 4.2 mile course all free and easy and quick” I said.

So I waited until 8:30 (mistake) and mile 1.02 was too fast for the conditions and my not being warmed up (9:34). I was at 3.2 in 30:12 and then I said “bleep it” and walked the last mile.
It was 76 F with 76 percent humidity by then (74 at the start) and I was dying.

At least the mile is short and the heat shouldn’t be much of a factor.


Heidi Carpenter got this cool shot of a toad hunting a worm.


Yeah, I watched this video. And no, Ms. Kelly did NOT “own” VP Cheney. In fact, she gave him a platform to spread his views, such as they are.

Why anyone listens to him remains a mystery to me.


LOL!!! Hey, when haven’t there been terrorist groups in the world?

If anything, these people scare me less than our own homegrown “open carry activist” nutbags. At least these people aren’t going into the places that I frequent.

June 19, 2014 Posted by | frogs, nature, political/social, republicans | | Leave a comment

Nature Friday: GMOs, Chernobyl animals, energy, frogs, exercises and fisheries….

Exercise There is some evidence that exercise can clear unnecessary stuff in the short term memory. Tests on mice have shown that treadmill running helps them forget electric shocks. But there is more in this article:

Adult mice that exercised on a running wheel after experiencing an event were more likely than their inactive mates to forget the experience, according to a paper from researchers at the University of Toronto, published in Science today (May 8). The results suggest that the production of new neurons—neurogenesis—prompted by the exercise wiped out the mice’s memories. They might also explain why human infants, whose brains exhibit abundant neurogenesis, do not have long-term memories.

“In general, hippocampal neurogenesis has been thought to be the basis for memory and they’re suggesting that it’s the basis for amnesia,” said Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “That’s a very controversial and provocative concept.”

Infantile amnesia is common to all humans. Children typically do not develop long-term memories until age three or four. But why is that? Sheena Josselyn and her husband Paul Frankland, who are both neuroscientists at the University of Toronto, pondered precisely that question after noticing that their two-year-old daughter could easily remember things that happened within a day or two, but not several months in the past.

More specifically, they wondered whether it might have something to do with neurogenesis in the hippocampus—a brain region involved in learning and memory. Hippocampal neurons are produced rapidly during infancy, but neuronal generation in the region slows to a trickle in adulthood. “This inverse relationship between the levels of neurogenesis and the ability to form a long-term memory got us thinking that maybe one is due to the other,” said Josselyn.

Surf to the link to read more.

Energy: this photo was captioned: “How windfarms RUIN landscapes – shocking illustration of the destruction wrought by wind industry fanatics” (via @Jonathan_Leake on Twitter)


Government intervention and fisheries: Via Paul Krugman:

Brad Plumer tells an important, little-known tale. It begins with things going badly:

Back in the 1980s and ’90s, many fisheries in the US were in serious trouble. Fish populations were dropping sharply. Some of New England’s best-known groundfish stocks — including flounder, cod, and haddock — had collapsed, costing the region’s coastal communities hundreds of millions of dollars.

So the government got involved. But we know that government is always the problem, never the solution; so you know what came next.

Or maybe you don’t. In fact, government intervention has been a big success. Many fisheries have rebounded, to the benefit of the fishermen as well as consumers.

Fighting climate change isn’t really all that different from saving fisheries; if we ever get around to doing the obvious, it will be easier and more successful than anyone now expects.

There are types of frogs whose males dance to attract mates (surf to the page to see the video) but, unfortunately, these frogs are endangered. These are small, walnut size frogs.


Animals of Chernobyl
Since background radiation is too high for humans to live there, the exclusion zone around Chernobyl is like a wild habitat. So, scientists are seeing some interesting developments in the animals of the region.

GMO issues Here is a guide to looking at some of the anti-GMO stuff that is out there.

May 9, 2014 Posted by | biology, energy, environment, frogs, nature, science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Science: skepticism of new findings and explaining it to the public …plus one more Ryan comment

Are we seeing gravitational ripples from the big bang? It is possible.

But announcements of new discoveries or announcements that a long standing model has been modified or even overturned SHOULD be treated with skepticism. That it takes a long time for a new idea to take root in science is NOT a bug but rather a DESIRED feature. Sadly, many, including many in the mainstream media, do not know this. Get a load of this headline from NPR:

Not-So-Objective Scientists Cling To Accepted Wisdom

Overturning scientific dogma is tricky. Reporter Joe Palca tells NPR’s Rachel Martin that one astronomer learned that lesson when he calculated that the universe was younger than colleagues believed.

Note: the paper in question was reviewed for publication and then….published. That is hardly “censorship of new ideas”. Of course, some scientists behave badly but on the whole, existing theory will be modified as new evidence comes in. But proposed new evidence SHOULD be treated with skepticism. That is so difficult for many non-scientists to understand and evidently impossible for NPR to understand.

Speaking of taking science to the public: this 12 minute video from 60 symbols is interesting. A physicist gave a popular lecture and made the comment to the effect “no two electrons in the universe can have the same energy level; hence when one electron changes energy level, all of the rest of the electrons in the universe are affected, hence everything is connected.” Now strictly speaking, the Pauli Exclusion Principle says that no two electrons can have exactly the same quantum state, so if an individual electron changes state, that “affects” the rest of the electrons. This really isn’t controversial.

But of course, some physicists corrected him, and other people went crazy with the woo-woo (common interconnected consciousness, etc.)

60 symbols comments on that. They talk about physics, about how woo-woos misuse physics and about talking to the general public about technical science ideas.

Bonus: some politics
Paul Ryan’s comment: no he isn’t racist but his ideas are dated. Still, I don’t think that Mr. Ryan was using the “too lazy to work” canard but rather “the lack of role models…e. g. seeing your parents go to work” situation.

March 17, 2014 Posted by | cosmology, economy, nature, physics, politics/social, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

A bit of science

Well, calm before the storm…we had a long…and productive search committee meeting. All I can say is that there are some smart, accomplished mathematicians looking for jobs.

Workout notes Full weight workout followed by snow shoveling (about 1/2 an inch due to a very brief but intense snow squall last night).

Supplemental: planks, McKenzie, hip hikes, rotator cuff, Achilles
pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (strong)
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 7 x 170 (not that bad)
abs: 3 sets of 10 of: twist, sit back, crunch, v. crunch.
super set with dumbbells: 3 sets of each exercise:

seated military (supported) 12 x 50
upright row: 10 x 25
bent over row: 10 x 65
curl: 10 x 30

Also 2 sets of 10 x 160 pull down, then 10 x 130 (different machine: without the cable)

It was ok, though my shoulders were a bit sore afterward.

A bit of science:

dogs and wolves: the new theory is that modern dogs and modern wolves had a common ancestor; the earlier theory was that dogs came from wolves. The path wasn’t as simple as had been previously believed.

The team of scientists sequenced the genomes of three grey wolves – one of which was from China, one from Croatia and another from Israel – to represent the three regions where dogs are believed to have originated.
They produced genomes for two dog breeds – a basenji, which originates in central Africa and a dingo from Australia – as both areas that have been historically isolated from modern wolf populations.
The researchers also sequenced the genome of a golden jackal to serve as an ‘outgroup’ representing earlier genetic divergence.

Their analysis of the basenji and dingo genomes, plus a previously published boxer genome from Europe, showed that the dog breeds were most closely related to each other.
Likewise, the three wolves from each geographic area were more closely related to each other than any of the dogs.
Dr Novembre said the findings of the study tell a different story than he and his colleagues anticipated.

Instead of all three dogs being closely related to one of the wolf lineages, or each dog being related to its closest geographic counterpart, they seem to have descended from an older, wolf-like ancestor common to both species.
‘One possibility is there may have been other wolf lineages that these dogs diverged from that then went extinct,’ Dr Novembre said.
‘So now when you ask which wolves are dogs most closely related to, it’s none of these three because these are wolves that diverged in the recent past.
‘It’s something more ancient that isn’t well represented by today’s wolves,’ he added.

Upshot: science is hard and can’t be reduced to a bumper sticker or a slogan.

New discovery about the Tiktaalik (fish to tetrapod species) Enjoy:

The fossilized pelves and a pelvic fin of Tiktaalik roseae reveal that the evolution of hind legs actually began as enhanced hind fins, according to the scientists. This challenges existing theory that large, mobile hind appendages were developed only after vertebrates transitioned to land.

“Previous theories, based on the best available data, propose that a shift occurred from ‘front-wheel drive’ locomotion in fish to more of a ‘four-wheel drive’ in tetrapods. But it looks like this shift actually began to happen in fish, not in limbed animals,” said Prof Shubin, who is the lead author of the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Discovered in 2004 by Prof Shubin, Dr Edward Daeschler of Drexel University, and the late Dr Farish A. Jenkins, Jr., of Harvard University, Tiktaalik roseae is the best-known transitional species between fish and land-dwelling tetrapods.

Neil Shubin, of the University of Chicago and the Chicago Field Museum, discovered the Tiktaalik. I highly recommend his first book Your Inner Fish and can recommend his other book The Universe Within as well.

January 17, 2014 Posted by | evolution, nature, science, weight training | Leave a comment

losers, transparency and silliness (photos, etc.)

This post will be a “stream of consciousness” post with no set theme; I am reviewing a LOT of job applications and need a release. :-)

Workout notes 6 mile run on the treadmill in 1:01:11; varied the incline (0 to 1 mostly, every 2 minutes) and speed; last 20 minutes I varied between 10:20 and 8:54 mpm every 2 minutes. Then I walked a slow 2 miles on the track; legs were tired so I quit.

Stamina is still low, but blood donation was last Friday.

My back is stiff from sitting too long; so I need to do some back stretches.

Our local university basketball team is playing the number 4 (or 5) team tonight; it might get ugly.

Though this team made the Sweet 16 back in 2006, success after that has been limited and attendance has fallen: (only regular season games at the larger off campus arena were counted):

2007-2008 — 10,114 (+3.1%)
2008-2009 — 10,019 (-0.9%)
2009-2010 — 9,338 (-6.8%)
2010-2011 — 8,450 (-9.5%)
2011-2012 — 7,860 (-7.0%)
2012-2013 — 7,411 (-5.7%)

The 7 games in Carver arena this year: paid attendance (NOT “through the turnstile attendance) averages 6205, but that includes only 2 conference games and includes “winter break” games. Three times, the paid attendance was less than 6000 fans and the largest crowd was the “double header” against Chicago State (6797; this included a women’s game). Also, the weather has been dreadful as of late.




Texas Football
The Longhorns hired Charlie Strong (from Louisville) to replace Mack Brown. Strong has had quite a bit of success with Louisville and is known as an “in your face” coach. I am excited. However his reception has been cool among some big donors and, well, there is this:


Yes, this shirt has been pulled. Personally, I HOPE this is someone saying “cool, things at UT have changed so much we can have a black coach” but…well…I don’t know. This is, at best, clumsy and at worst, racist. I don’t know the intent.

Losers It appears to me that the Republicans, at least the top ones, at their heart, have a contempt for those who haven’t been economically successful. In fact, some conservatives have said that the Republicans should just up and admit it:

In short, the GOP’s attempt to be the party of the common man has backfired. With good reason. Not only have the policies not worked, but the pandering ignores that the “Party of the Rich” label is an aspirational one. It’s a good brand. People like exclusivity earned in a meritocracy, and if the Republicans embrace self-made achievement through policies explicitly geared toward the rich, they’ll be far more appealing. When it comes to giving things away, the Republicans will never be able to match up with the Party across the aisle which is expert at wealth redistribution.

Importantly, there are votes to be won if the Republicans simply be themselves. Per Friedkin it’s apparent that voters sense fraud rather easily, plus it’s probably too easily forgotten that the late George McGovern was shocked during the 1972 presidential campaign when blue collar voters gave a big thumbs down to his proposals in favor of steep inheritance taxes. Republicans need to remember that the American culture is an achievement culture. Americans, as the McGovern story clarifies, at least think they’ll eventually grow rich. When Republicans try to act poor in their search for the vote of the regular guy, it’s arguable that they lose a lot of ‘regular guy’ votes. Whatever their station in life, Americans want to be rich. Because they do, Republicans should embrace their label as the party of the rich in order to attract the achievers, along with those who aspire to achievement.

Oh sure, people are likely to live and die within the economic class that they are born into, or possibly a lower one:

Even by measures of relative mobility, Middle America remains fluid. About 36 percent of Americans raised in the middle fifth move up as adults, while 23 percent stay on the same rung and 41 percent move down, according to Pew research. The “stickiness” appears at the top and bottom, as affluent families transmit their advantages and poor families stay trapped.

But that is *always* everyone else. :-)

“Internet Science”
These top two made me chuckle:



Now as far as this next one:


:-) Unfortunately, much of the woo-woo anti GMO stuff you see on the internet is of the above caliber. And unfortunately, my State Senator came out in favor of a stupid GMO labeling law:

In November, Washington became the latest state to reject a ballot proposal that would have required labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.
At the same time, Maine and Connecticut have passed laws requiring labels on genetically engineered foods. However, their laws won’t go into effect until other states in the Northeast also adopt GMO labeling laws.
Against that backdrop, an Illinois lawmaker said he will pursue legislation this year requiring labels on foods with genetically modified ingredients.
“I’m dealing with this strictly as a consumer right-to-know bill,” said Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria. “I’m not saying yea or nay to the health risks. I’m saying consumers have a right to know and they can make up their own mind.”
Koehler’s Senate Bill 1666 would require that foods containing genetically modified ingredients (usually referred to as GMOs, for genetically modified organisms) carry a label that says as much. The specific ingredients don’t have to be identified, only that GMOs are present.

That is dumb; here is why: would he support a law that mandated labels that contained the phase of the moon at the time of harvest? Of course not: the reason is that this factor has no effect on the product. So, a “good” GMO law would be one that would require a label when there was a SCIENCE REASON for doing so; for example if a particular genetic modification changed how a food is digested by someone with a particular allergy or disorder (e. g. Celiac disease) then yes. Of course, I know of no such modification or even if it is possible.

Liberals drive me crazy sometimes; we can be every bit as stupid as Bible thumping Republicans.

Lululemon stock plunges
Lululemon has had a rough year. Perhaps it is the “transparent pants”:


(ok, NOT Lululemon but hey…)

Some want to claim this is the result of “fat shaming” (yeah right, people who do yoga in 100 dollar yoga pants so want to be associated with the obese)

But this is a far more likely reason.

Perhaps they were overvalued to begin with; they are boxed in the “yoga pants for the beautiful people” market, where they may well continue to thrive.

Back to the job application reading; at least, as mathematicians, we don’t have THIS to worry about. No one wants to sleep with us. :-(

But I did have a math article appear this month and….


:-) Hey, at my age, it is the older MILF and middle GILF crowd. Oh, all right, I got this from here and did a little modification. :-)

January 14, 2014 Posted by | basketball, big butts, college football, creationism, economy, football, nature, racism, science, spandex | , , , | Leave a comment

A cold cottontail


Taken last night near the Unity Church in Peoria, IL.

January 10, 2014 Posted by | nature | , | Leave a comment

Tribalism, values, philosophy and what science you accept….

I can say that one of the hardest things to do is to give up a preconceived notion based on new data and science.

So, I am seeing all sorts of “oh, hah, hah, where is your “global warming now” posts and articles.

(side note: here is an interesting article about so called “wind chills”. Yes, 10 F with a strong wind feels worse than 10 F with no wind, but I’ve always thought the wind chill stuff was a bit bogus. Remember that the wind makes it feel colder as this enables heat to be transferred from out of your body; in engineering class you learned that \frac{dQ}{dt} = k \Delta T \frac{dm}{dt} where \frac{dm}{dt} is the mass flow rate of the fluid and the \Delta T is the difference between the ambient temperature and the temperature of the object. You know this if you’ve taken a hot bath: in the tub if you are still, you might be ok, but you feel hotter if you move…..because if you move you are increasing the flow rate of the water around your body.

Well, wind does the same thing.

Back to the main argument:

So, people say “we’ve had record cold; how can the earth possibly be warming up?”

Well, for one, “global warming” is talking about a long time trend of average temperatures:


You can see the upward trend, but there are also ups and downs. For example, the next several years after 1998 were cooler years compared to 1998, mostly because 1998 was so blasted hot.

In fact, I took a similar graph, and started it in 1998 to “show” that the earth is really cooling!


I can easily see this being convincing to some.

Then one has to understand that warming means only small change in temperature per year and that how cold we are in winter largely depends on where the jet stream is, as it holds back that arctic air mass. And even if the arctic air mass is a degree or two “warmer”, it is still brutally cold (by our standards).

So, as you can see, the issue is a bit complicated. And yet, many conservatives deny it, just as they deny evolution.

Part of it is tribalism in action.

But part of it is philosophical; conservatives desperately want to believe that their deity is in charge:

They deny evolution for similar reasons: how can one believe that “every hair on your head is numbered by God” if you are the outcome of a stochastic process? (NOT a purely random process!)

So, one might say that philosophy matters. It certainly does to liberals; just look at the so-called “pro-science” liberals (so they tell you) who foam and the mouth about GMOs though, on the science issue part (whether the GMO foods are safe or not), they are dead wrong (more here)

Question them and once you get past their nonsense (IF that is even possible), you’ll find out that what they are really objecting to is the business practices of companies like Monsanto…and some are bound to an appeal to nature. Hey these mushrooms are natural; maybe we can get these woo-woos and crackpots to eat them?


So my frustration grows. It is ridiculous to resist facts (as currently understood) due to some philosophical point of view…..or is it?

This made me think of my post about Copernicus and the scientific objections to the Copernican theory of heliocentric astronomy.

My first reaction: why in the world would we view the earth as being special or different from the rest of the universe?

Oh oh…that is a PHILOSOPHICAL point of view. That is, the “null hypothesis” should be that the laws of science are basically the same everywhere; there are no “special” areas.

Yes, there is evidence that suggests that this is true, but why should this be the “null hypothesis”??? In fact, there is evidence that an aspect of this might not be true (albeit with tiny variations in our observable horizon)

I suppose that I should rethink my disdain for philosophy and point of view (lens of viewing things, if you will).

Of course, an expression of humility (we only know a little) does NOT open the door to wholesale crackpottery, woo-woo and nonsense.

January 7, 2014 Posted by | cosmology, environment, evolution, nature, science, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Froggy: that isn’t very nice.

Hat tip: Jerry Coyne.


January 4, 2014 Posted by | frogs, nature | Leave a comment

Evolutionary bullying and other topics

Science and society
Nature in full fury: this is a photo of the tornado that hit central Illinois:


Via: Cami Avis.


Does the Theory of Evolution promote….bullying?


Uh…no. :-) Ah, for the good old days when people were held as a captive audience to religion:


Seriously, evolution is a theory about how our world works, and it is as well established as the other great scientific theories (e. g. gravity). You can’t understand biology without it, and it has nothing to do with morals and the like.

And for a western religion take on bullying, I refer you to:

2 Kings 2:23-24:

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

And from the “loving” New Testament:

Luke 19:27 (from a parable that Jesus told)

But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”


Now back to evolution
Evolutionary science is different from mathematics in a fundamental way. We might have differing terminology for the same thing (e. g. a vector space is sometimes called a linear space; real analytic is sometimes called holomorphic ) but the concepts themselves are well defined.

That isn’t the case for biological concepts (e. g. “natural selection”).

Consider this (from Larry Moran’s blog Sandwalk) :

There are excerpts online. The first chapter is “What Is Evolution?” by Jonathan Losos. I’m not very impressed with his answer but I was shocked to read the following passage.

The logic behind natural selection is unassailable. If some trait variant is causally related to greater reproductive success, then more members of the population will have that variant in the next generation; continued over many generations, such selection can greatly change the constitution of a population.

But there is a catch. Natural selection can occur without leading to evolution if differences among individuals are not genetically based. For natural selection to cause evolutionary change, trait variants must be transmitted from parent to offspring; if that is the case, then offspring will resemble their parents and the trait variants possessed by the parents that produce the most offspring will increase in frequency in the next generation.

However, offspring do not always resemble their parents. In some cases, individuals vary phenotypically not because they are different genetically, but because they experienced different environments during growth (this is the “nurture” part of the nature versus nurture debate; see chapters III.10 and VII.1). If, in fact, variation in a population is not genetically based, then selection will have no evolutionary consequence; individuals surviving and producing many offspring will not differ genetically from those that fail to prosper, and as a result, the gene pool of the population will not change. Nonetheless, much of the phenotypic variation within a population is, in fact, genetically based; consequently, natural selection often does lead to evolutionary change.

I never heard to this idea before (that natural selection may not lead to evolution). I thought that natural selection was DEFINED as a change in the frequency of alleles in a population due to selection. Doesn’t it have to have a genetic component?

In other words, some experts do NOT consider “natural selection” as a subset of evolution but rather the phenomena of a difference of reproductive success based on characteristics, which may not be genetic (e. g. epigenetic effects or environmental effects).

I suppose the closest thing we might have to this is that some mathematicians might not accept, say, the Axiom of Choice or the Continuum Hypothesis, though most mathematicians accept the Axiom of Choice and if a proof assumes the Continuum Hypothesis, that is clearly stated.

Social Sciences
Ok, where is the fallacy here: “I studied the habits of wealthy people and I studied the habits of poor people and I found the following differences: (blah blah blah blah). Hence the poor are poor because of their behaviors and if they did (blah blah blah blah) they’d stand a better chance of being wealthy (or no longer being poor).

I am not talking about the alleged “snob factor” that is alluded to in the article I linked to; I am talking about the logical fallacy.

Here is a hint: “I see wealthy people driving luxury cars and poor people driving beat up old cars. Hence driving luxury cars might help poor people become wealthier.” :-)

Or: “If you are short and want to be taller: I see lots of tall basketball players. So if you want to get taller, play basketball.” :-)

Social media and hoaxes
I saw the “tip denied because you are gay” story. It turns out: it was false.

Right after a receipt and credit card statement suggested a NJ server’s tale about bigoted customers was a hoax, a local newspaper from her hometown started digging into her past. And now the Journal News reports that Dayna Morales, “has a reputation for lying,” according to former colleagues and friends.

People were rallying around Morales and sending her tips after she shared a photograph of a receipt she got back at her work, NJ restaurant Asian Gallop Bistro. The receipt showed no tip, with the note, “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.” But then the family came forward saying that they actually did leave a tip, showing their copy of the receipt and a credit card statement that suggested they were truthful.
According to the Journal News, Morales lied about having cancer, her military service and damage to her home during Hurricane Sandy:
[She told] co-workers she shaved her head because she had brain cancer and later telling them it was her friend who had brain cancer, her colleagues and friends said.
They said she also told co-workers at a day care center where she once worked that Superstorm Sandy severely damaged her home in Stony Point, and sent a boat into her living room. Concerned co-workers dropped by her home and found only minor damage to the carpet by her front door and no sign of a boat, they said…
Morales told people she was a former Marine who was sent to Afghanistan and that everyone in her platoon died in an explosion except her, [a co-worker and a friend] said. The explosion left her with back injuries that required surgery and a couple of months to recover, Larkin said Morales told her employer. But during her time off, Morales posted photos of herself on Facebook enjoying a trip to Florida with a girlfriend, they said.

Though a military spokesman confirmed Morales did serve in the Marines, he added, “There is no indication of combat service in Iraq or Afghanistan” and she didn’t fulfill her reserve obligation.

Moral: the more I WANT to believe an outrageous story, the MORE skeptical I should be. That is a tough thing to do, but I’ll make fewer mistakes by doing that.

Here is one such example: I used to believe that conservatives were less likely to accept science than liberals. My mind changed when I started reading the anti-vaccination people, the rabid anti-GMO “activists” and the “alternative medicine” woo-woos.

Believe me, I’d love to think of conservatives as being mostly stupid people (Dr. Andy, Ms. Ann and many of my Naval Academy classmates excepted :-) ) but the facts say otherwise: stupid people can’t be successful military officers, CEO’s, economists, nuclear engineers, successful jurists, business owners, etc. I think that these folks might have blind spots, but we all do!

Speaking of “jumping the gun”: You might have heard of the “fit mom” who used herself as an example of someone who could have kids and still be very physically fit.


Yes, I know: genetics have a lot to do with looking this athletic and buff; most of us don’t have the genetics to look like this. But many of us could do better than we are doing now, and that was the point.

And yes, the “fat acceptance” people jumped on this and she shot back and….ended up getting reported and banned by Facebook! (temporarily; Facebook admitted their error of just relying on “reports of hate speech”):

At the time, Kang defended her tough love stance, telling the “Today” show, “However your body physically manifests in the process of exercising and eating healthy is beautiful. And it doesn’t have to look like mine.”

But Kang seemed to contradict her own statement that it’s not about looks recently when she took to Facebook to criticize another viral sensation — Curvy Girl Lingerie’s Facebook campaign encouraging customers to submit photos of “regular” women in their underwear. As Curvy Girl’s Chrystal Bougon explained of the idea, “For most of us Curvies, we will have rolls, bumps, lumps, scars, stretch marks, surgery scars, breasts that are natural and that have breast fed our babies. And we can still be STUNNING and BEAUTIFUL.” Kang had a different point of view. Writing on Facebook, she declared, “I was a little peeved because while I feel like it’s ok to love and accept your body, I think that we’re normalizing obesity in our society.”

Ridiculously, after a user complained, Kang was temporarily booted from Facebook and her post was removed as “hate speech.” Kang told Yahoo! Shine Monday, “I felt like I’d been sent to the principal’s office and been expelled. We’ve become so sensitive to this weight issue that people who speak out against it are vilified. It’s so backwards to me.”

Ok, one issue is Facebook having the habit of taking “reports of hate speech” seriously; many bozos merely report what they don’t like as “hate speech”.

The other issue is this: “we can still be STUNNING and BEAUTIFUL”

This is such bull-sh*t. This is like me saying: “ok, I teach at a 12 hour load university and I was not one of the research stars of my Ph.D. class, but I can still BE A GENIUS or “hey, I ran 8:19 a mile for my last 3 mile race, but I AM STILL STUNNINGLY FAST. :-)

Seriously, not everyone can be “stunningly beautiful” unless that phrase is stripped from its meaning; the blunt fact that most of us (yours truly included) are, well, rather ordinary. “Stunning” implies something well beyond the average, and most people simply don’t have the genes to be “stunningly beautiful”.

But MOST people can be reasonably fit and healthy and I think that most women can be “reasonably attractive” to a reasonably large population of heterosexual males if they put some effort into taking care of themselves.

Example: I wouldn’t call any of the women in this photo “stunningly beautiful” but they are all plenty attractive enough for me! They all look reasonably fit.

That is the level of fitness I think the “fitness lady” is talking about.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | biology, evolution, internet issues, mathematics, nature, religion, science, social/political | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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