blueollie

Class, Gaussians and Islam in the world…

Islam in the world I wrote about this earlier. Evidently many conflate criticism of Islam (and its practices) with a justification for discrimination against Muslims; those are very different things. A Pakistani woman wrote an open letter to explain why the points brought up by Bill Maher and Sam Harris are worthy ones:

And in yesterday’s issue of Pakistan Today, you’ll find her piece: “An open letter to Ben Affleck“. As a few quotes below will show, she goes after Affleck for trying, as she argues, to minimize the plight of Muslim women like her. Just a bit to give you the flavor:

Noble liberals like yourself always stand up for the misrepresented Muslims and stand against the Islamophobes, which is great but who stands in my corner and for the others who feel oppressed by the religion? Every time we raise our voices, one of us is killed or threatened. I am a blogger and illustrator, no threat to anyone, Ben, except for those afraid of words and drawings. I want the freedom to express myself without the very real fear that I might be killed for it. Is that too much to ask?

When I wrote a children’s book that carried a message of diversity and inclusivity for everyone, my life changed. My book, ‘My Chacha (uncle) is Gay’ has the innocent anti-homophobia message, ‘Love belongs to everyone’. This was not palatable to many of my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Since that project I have been declared an ‘enemy of God’ and deemed worthy of death. All because I want to help create a world where South Asian children too can have their stories told, so they too can know that love comes in all forms, and that that’s okay. My Muslim brothers and sisters were hit hard by this work because it addresses the issue of homophobia within our own community. It is not something they can pass off as ‘Western’ immorality. Just like they deny that any issues exist within the doctrine of Islam, many deny that homosexuality exists amongst good, ‘moral’ Muslims. Just like that, millions of people’s existence is denied. Please do not defend people who think this way, and let me tell you Ben, many ‘good’ Muslims do think this way.

What you did by screaming ‘racist!’ was shut down a conversation that many of us have been waiting to have. . . You became an instant hero, a defender of Islam.

Here is something to remember: the most radical right wing American Christians would be …flaming liberals if they were Muslims:

In your culture you have the luxury of calling such literalists “crazies”, like the Westboro Baptist Church, for example. In my culture, such values are upheld by more people than we realise. Many will try to deny it, but please hear me when I say that these are not fringe values. It is apparent in the lacking numbers of Muslims willing to speak out against the archaic Shariah law. The punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, etc, are tools of oppression. Why are they not addressed even by the peaceful folk who “aren’t fanatical, who just want to have some sandwiches and pray five times a day? Where are the Muslim protestors against blasphemy laws/apostasy? Where are the Muslims who take a stand against harsh interpretation of Shariah? These sandwich-eating peaceful folk do not defend those suffering in the name of Islam, Ben, and therein lies our problem.

Accuracy in media
Here is an example of Fox News reporting something that is blatantly false, but not issuing a correction. The claim was that Colorado law allowed for people to print out their own ballots; that is only true for Military personnel living overseas.

Epic Class Warfare rant
Marc Randazza is a famous First Amendment lawyer. He can’t stand some attitudes exhibited by some rich people, even though he is well off. Read his “candy woman” rant.

Ok, I have a few hang ups about Halloween Trick or Treaters but these tend to be “Larry Davidish”.

Mathematics and statistics Some statistical distributions appear over and over again. This one appears to be half Gaussian, half exponential.

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Fox News Lies Again, mathematics, political/social, politics/social, poverty, religion, rich, science, social/political, statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

My political races (IL-17, IL-governor) and a treadmill run

Politics: below the treadmill chart.

Today: though it was pretty, I decided to stay on the treadmill to save the legs a bit.

Base elevation: I use 0.5 to equalize the pace to road running (account for lack of wind resistance)

So I started with a slow mile (10:40) and then did a 10 minute mile varying the elevation: .05-1-2-3-4.
I switched treadmills due to the “lower the elevation” button being stuck!

Then I did close to 42 minutes on the other treadmill at 9:50 mpm (6.1) and did:

2 minutes at 0.5, 2 minutes at 2.0, 2 minutes at 0.5, 2 minutes at 3.0
then 8 x (2 minutes at 0.5, 2 minutes at 4.0); I hit 4 miles at about 39:30 or so.
Then 2 more minutes at 6.0 (10 mpm) at 0.5 to finish 10K.

That was more challenging than I hoped it would be; here is why:

treadmillpaceconversion

Click for a larger version. (from here) I totaled 18 minutes of running at a “sub 9 minute pace” effort with short breaks in between, which is a reasonable workout for me right now.

Politics

Tonight: my wife is dragging me to a reception for an anti-GMO State Senator (he is ok on other issues) and a Blue Dog House Democrat who is locked in competitive race…even though her district went for President Obama by 17 points in 2012. This race is leaning her way but that is mostly because the Republicans nominated a “flat-earther” Tea Party idiot. I am not enthusiastic about our candidate, but the Republican makes me want to vomit.

Our Governor’s race IS tight; it matches an ineffective Democrat against a Donald Trump caliber Republican. My guess is that our politically savvy Democrat will find a way to win.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, Cheri Bustos, politics, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment

Bilking the not-so-bright….

TMW2014-10-01color

Wow…that would be one way to get some action. :-)

But the real con artists are the ones who know how to make themselves rich.

Sarah Palin knows how to do it:

The first pic on Sarah Palin’s website reads the oh-so original tag of: “We must reverse Obama’s destructive policies. Help send real conservatives to fix them”. Underneath the declaration is a button for conservative saps to give money to SarahPac.

According to Open Secrets the fighting Palins have been bilking the pac:

Out of $1.4 million the PAC had available in the third quarter — $978,000 sitting in the bank at the beginning of the July 1-Sept. 30 period, plus another more than $433,000 raised during that time — SarahPAC managed to donate just $45,000 to fellow Republicans running in the midterms. That’s a little more than 3 percent.
For the two-year 2014 cycle, the former Alaska governor’s PAC, a vehicle that helps her stay in the game amid talk that she may run in the 2016 presidential contest, has raised $2.5 million on top of more than $1.1 million that was in the bank at the start of the cycle. It has spent $2.7 million, with about $150,000 — or 5.5 percent — going to candidates.

This isn’t the least bit surprising. Palin quit on the people of Alaska to become a tacky television host and “author” who entered the lucrative conservative entertainment and grievance complex that has made political cancers such as O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh wealthy.

Karl Rove cleaned up in 2012 (note: this article was written PRIOR to election day in 2012).

Yes, Super Pacs are doing very well…for now.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, political/social, politics, politics/social, sarah palin | , | Leave a comment

Climate change, creationism, jobs, and race

Talk about a sticky situation. A white lesbian couple paid a sperm bank for sperm from a white male…and ended up with sperm from a black male. Now they have a half-black daughter…and they are suing.

Oh sure, one can say that they entered a business transaction and didn’t get what they paid for. But what effect will this have on the kid? Ah, they’ll probably blame it on the racism of others. ;-)

Jobs report

248K new jobs last month; the good is that this is better than losing jobs. The bad: the new jobs aren’t paying well.

Science
The Aral Sea was once the 4’th largest lake in the world. By 2000 it had shrunk a great deal, and now it is almost gone.

aral_arg_1964234.0

aral_sea_2000_vs_2012.0

Reasons: many; one of them is irrigation. One consequence is that nearby areas no longer have the lake to moderate the extremes; so it is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter.

Creationism: Why Evolution is True has an interesting take on a non-Sequitur cartoon.

October 4, 2014 Posted by | creationism, economy, politics, politics/social, racism, science, Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Dinesh D’Souza: delusional convicted felon.

October 3, 2014 Posted by | politics/social, republicans, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Unwelcome political news….

Workout notes
Cool, overcast and so I took an easy effort 8.1 mile run on a hilly course (Cornstalk)
corn81567climb

Time: ghastly 1:29:29, but I kept the effort easy AND I am still not over my cold totally nor have I recovered from this weekend’s festivities. And I did enjoy the slow run: 10:18, 34:11 (44:29), 34:25, 10:34.

Unwelcome
The Senate forecasts are coming in; bad news. It sure looks as if the GOP are strong favorites to retake the Senate (say, 70 percent probability).

September 30, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, politics, politics/social, running | | Leave a comment

Economics, business, voter fraud…

I haven’t posted much from Paul Krugman in a while.

Here, Professor Krugman discusses how a major school of thought on macro economics went off of the rails:

Consider the extremism of Lucas and Sargent (pdf) in the early days, declaring Keynesian economics a complete failure – or Lucas talking about how Keynesian papers were greeted with “giggles and whispers”. As Wren-Lewis notes, the actual empirical failures of Keynesian economics weren’t nearly bad enough to justify that kind of total rejection – and as Waldmann says, the new classicals themselves turned their backs on empirical evidence when it began rejecting their own models. So why the utter rejection of anything Keynesian?

Well, while the explicit message of such manifestos is intellectual – this is the only valid way to do macroeconomics – there’s also an implicit message: from now on, only my students and disciples will get jobs at good schools and publish in major journals. And that, to an important extent, is exactly what happened; Ken Rogoff wrote about the “scars of not being able to publish sticky-price papers during the years of new neoclassical repression.” As time went on and members of the clique made up an ever-growing share of senior faculty and journal editors, the clique’s dominance became self-perpetuating – and impervious to intellectual failure.

OK, I know the members of the clique will be outraged – distorting incentives only apply to other people, only bureaucrats hijack institutions to serve their personal aggrandizement, etc.. As they say in Minnesota, ya sure, you betcha.

But what about me and my friends? Why, we’re pure and selfless seekers of truth. How dare anyone suggest otherwise?

OK, I think there is a sense in which I’m part of a counterclique. In fact, if you look at just about every economist in my cohort playing an influential role in formulating or discussing macroeconomic policy — Rogoff, Bernanke, Draghi, Blanchard, Summers — you’ll find that they studied macroeconomics at MIT or Harvard, and were formally or informally advised by Rudi Dornbusch and his good friend Stan Fischer.

As I said, international macro went in a different direction.

Basically, there are more large economies to study from, more banks, etc.

Of course, macro is hard since there are so, so many confounding variables.

On a different note: Krugman agrees that the current “richest class” is more outlandish than the “richest class” of yesteryear. But then again, there is a bigger gap now-a-days due to growing inequality.

Business Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is becoming an interesting person to read. (note; he was reputed to have been a good student while at UCLA, and yes, he got his degree). Here, he writes about a former (part) Atlanta Hawks owner. He had written an e-mail which brainstormed factors which might be keeping crowds at Hawks games from being at capacity; he wondered if there just weren’t enough affluent African Americans to fill the arena regularly and that making some of the entertainment “black” (music, cheeleaders) might discourage more white people from showing up. He points out that the owner was doing legitimate business thinking; after all: let’s reverse the situation. Don’t we sometimes try to be welcoming to racial minorities, say, by ensuring some diversity at games or having some diverse entertainment?

Voter Fraud oh, there is voter fraud all right. It might not be statistically significant. But think: who has the means to live in different locations? Answer: not most Democrats.

September 27, 2014 Posted by | economics, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

I’ll see your “Obama latte salute” and raise you a “Bush dog salute”

cfmbhowtosalute

Moral: a minor breach of etiquette by a President really means little. It won’t change the minds of those who either support or despise the President in question, nor will it change the minds of the supporters/detractors concerning the “other camp”. The other side is ALWAYS a bunch of willfully ignorant, two-faced hypocrites.

You want to know why I didn’t like President Bush? It is because:

1. At first, his tax cuts were heavily weighted toward the wealthy and
2. He invaded a country that didn’t attack us and really wasn’t threatening us.

President Obama has done neither.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social, social/political | | 8 Comments

Today: 5k, football, weather, etc.

Our university has a 5K that runs right past my house and it starts in 90 minutes. So, of course, I can’t resist. :-) It is in the high 50’s so I’ll have only my lack of running conditioning to blame.

Right now, I am doing a little of everything each week: longish walks (15-20 miles), a few short runs (4-6 miles), a couple of weight sessions and a couple of 2200 yard swims (2 km). After next week’s walking marathon, I’ll probably add a swim/lifting session and cut back a little on the midweek walk.

Heel: still slightly sore; sometimes feels like mild PF..but going up on my toes doesn’t hurt?

Football
I have tickets for Illinois vs. Texas State. Texas State used to be Southwest Texas State (I-AA…now FCS) and now they are a FBS team in the Sun Belt. They lost to Navy at home (35-21); they trailed 28-0 in the second quarter and Navy ran all over them. So, this is a team that Illinois *should* be able to handle; they should be a step down from Washington. But the emphasis is on “should”; who knows until they play the game.

Navy plays Rutgers at home; THAT should be interesting. This is Navy’s second game against a Big Ten team this year. Rutgers is 2-1, having lost to Penn State last weekend.

Also of interest: Miami vs. Nebraska. Is Nebraska all smoke and mirrors or are they for real?

Issues
Weather: we are supposed to have rain in Peoria this afternoon, but not in Champaign (where the game is). We’ve had an unusually cool September but the planet, on the whole, has been warm. What is in store this winter? It could go either way. A bad winter could be bad news for us, as budget cuts has cut our plowing/salt budget.
I need to buy some decent snow boots to walk to work and to shovel.

Secularism This is a nice piece in Time Magazine which was generated by the recent incident in which the Air Force wanted to keep “So Help Me God” as a required part of the enlistment oath. They wisely recanted: (this is part of the article)

It took the threat of a lawsuit before the Air Force agreed on Wednesday to allow airmen to omit the phrase “So help me God” as part of a required oath. Until then, they claimed an airman stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was ineligible to reenlist after he crossed out the phrase on his reenlistment form.

This controversy will rile up many people of good will—not against the military, but against the airman. Why make a big deal out of words that the majority of Americans believe in? Just cross your fingers if you must, and say the words. Why rock the boat?

Here’s why: The incident betrays a subtext of intolerance and hostility toward secular people that is embedded in American culture and public institutions. The Air Force was ready to end a man’s military career because he would not submit to its religious demands.

To secular Americans, requiring an oath to God is like asking a Jewish airman to swear, “So help me Jesus” or a Christian to say, “So help me Allah.”

I love the article, but have a minor quibble with the last sentence in the quote: asking me to swear an oath to God is NOT like asking a Jew to pray to Jesus or a Christian to pray to Allah.

Asking me to pray to God is exactly like asking me to pray to the Tooth Fairy. On the other hand, asking a believer to pray to a different deity is asking them to commit blasphemy which, to a believer, is a serious offense which can cause emotional and mental anguish.

September 20, 2014 Posted by | politics, politics/social, religion, running, science, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Delusions, polls, etc.

Workout: swim (2200 yards); crowded again but I got a lane and that was what mattered.

500, 5 x 100 (fist/free) on 2:00 (1:50-52), 5 x 100 on 2 (1:45-47), 3 x 100 (kick/free with fins) with 100 in between, 4 x 25 stroke count (22-23), 4 x 25 fly.

I am still trying to beat that Mechanical Engineering professor; he does “faster” free sets and then recovers with different strokes and I am not quite up with his faster stuff.

Note: my heel was slightly sore this morning; I did NOT ice it after yesterday’s run. I am still not out of the “icing it afterward” stage. The pain was “oh so slight”; I might not have paid attention had I not been tracking this.

Delusions: When it comes to votes, people tend to believe what they want to believe and fail to look at the uncomfortable.
I learned that lesson in the Bush-Kerry election and saw it play out in the Obama-Romney election.

I saw that play out yesterday; some of the “pro-Scottish Independence” refused to look at the real, hard data. The betting lines were firmly in the “no” camp and the polls suggested that was a good bet.

Now I’d like to issue a caution: polls are reliable WHEN there are a LOT of them out there; an isolated poll might well be an outlier. Hence, you have more upsets at, say, the US House, Governor or Senate level than you do at the Presidential or national level.

The more local races simply aren’t polled as extensively.

Now, as far as what a poll actually means: here is a wonderful, statistically literate guide. Roughly: say a “yes/no” vote are separated by the “margin of error”. So one says that one cannot, with 95 percent confidence, say that one or the other is ahead. But one might be able to say that the leader is ahead with a lesser degree of confidence. And if one position is consistently ahead in several competent polls, that position has a lead.

And yes, betting guides are useful too. No, the bookies don’t necessarily know the issues that well, but they set the odds to balance the money paid in and paid off, sans a bit of profit for themselves. So, they are, in effect, reacting to “the wisdom of the crowd”.

As they were with the Bush-Kerry, both Obama elections and the Scottish one, they were right on.

And no, I don’t always like what they have to say. :-)

September 19, 2014 Posted by | injury, politics, politics/social, swimming | , , | Leave a comment

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