# blueollie

## The Republican Anti-Poverty Program, in one photo!

Why can’t people like Paul Krugman think of this?

May 23, 2013

## A bit off….and bubbles

Workout notes
I woke up at 3:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep.
Weights:
rotator cuff, hip hikes, Achilles. Also one circuit of very light leg weights, back stretches and 2 sets of very light squats.

Meat:
5 sets of 10 pull ups
bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 185, 3 x 185
incline: 9 x 140, 8 x 140
rows (dumbbell) 3 sets of 10 x 65
military (dumbbell) 3 sets of 12 x 50
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curls: 3 sets of 10 x 60 (EZ curl bar)

I was a bit off. Then some wondered why I was working out at all; I didn’t quite have the same “pop” to my lifts.

Politics
The Republican “intellectuals” (at least if you can call George Will an intellectual) doesn’t get it:

Obama says: Trust me, the science of global warming is settled. And trust me that, although my plans to combat global warming, whenever the inexplicable 16-year pause of it ends, would vastly expand government’s regulatory powers, as chief executive I guarantee that these powers will be used justly.

Here’s a finding that shouldn’t be all that surprising: Since 1991, roughly 97 percent of all published scientific papers that take a position on the question agree that humans are warming the planet.

That stat comes from this extensive new survey led by John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli, who run the Skeptical Science website. And it builds on earlier studies finding the exact same thing.
The authors sifted through 11,944 climate-related abstracts over the past two decades and found that 66.4 percent of papers took no explicit stance on whether humans are warming the planet (i.e., that wasn’t the main focus of these papers). Another 32.6 percent stated that humans are indeed warming the planet, while just 0.7 percent rejected that view. Cook and Nuccitelli combined those last two numbers to say that 97 percent of papers that took an actual stand on whether humans are warming the planet answered “yes.”

Poor Mr. Will; he seems exasperated that the public isn’t buying into all of those fake scandals:

Even as his administration has faced intense scrutiny over a trio of controversies, President Obama’s approval rating hasn’t suffered, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Sunday.
Fifty-three percent of Americans said they approve of the job the president is doing, while 45 percent said they disapprove. That’s virtually unchanged from an early April survey in which Obama’s approval/disapproval split was 51 percent to 47 percent.
The poll is one of the earliest indicators of how Obama’s image has been affected during one of the worst weeks of his presidency. As questions about the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, and news that the Justice Department secretly obtained journalists’ phone records have fueled Republican attacks, the president has been put very much on defense.

I atribute much of this to the bubble that many conservatives appear to live in: it is almost as if they are incapable of extrapolating from what they see in their day to day lives. Hey, if everyone in the Cracker Barrel or everyone in their church seems to think X, well, obviously they must have the majority view!

They really are a curious lot.

May 20, 2013

## Up Early…

Strangely enough, I usually wake up very early the day after a long running or walking event. I sleep soundly, but for a shorter period of time.
Today I was wide awake at 3:30 AM.

I am sorer than expected. Not bad, and not as sore as after a good marathon; that is probably because what I did was really a glorified “hike” with a bit of jogging.

I’ll do an easy, slow paced weight session this morning.

Posts
This New York Times article is about a 16 year old runner who puts in 100-110 miles per week. She ran a 2:58 (good for 6′th among the women) at the Cleveland Marathon.

On one hand, I wonder if she is missing her teenage years; on the other hand: is it really that different from my putting in so much extra time in an effort (a failed effort) to become a football player?

Yitang Zhang was a bit of an unknown mathematician who managed to solve a very well known problem. It doesn’t happen often, but if you do good work, it will be acknowledged.

This article is a nice synopsis of what happened. Basically: he showed that there are an infinite collections of pairs of primes that are less than 70,000,000 units apart. Of course, the goal is “2″, but, until this, we didn’t have a proof that there was any finite number that worked. Now we have one.

On the other hand, cranky stuff doesn’t get acknowledged, nor should it.

An amusing cartoon:

Note: I very much care about providing a professional level effort in the classroom and in my own research.

Politics
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub provides some old photos of presidents and umbrellas. I wonder if the right wing has finally jumped the shark…ok it has done so a long time ago but I wonder if they are finally getting called out on their ridiculous BS.

May 20, 2013

May 18, 2013

## One reason why I ignore conservatives

Oh noes, we now have the Obama “umbrella” scandal! (they say)

Really?

May 17, 2013

## Fake Scandals, Parasites, Fracking and Calculus

Mathematics This is an interesting (and lengthy) post about Gottfried Leibniz: he was one of the cofounders of calculus and one who was credited with inventing the $\frac{df}{dx}$ notation, as well as the “product rule” in calculus.

IQ and race Mano Singham has a gift for writing about tough subjects; his ideas about “race and IQ” are worth reading. We pretty much agree.

Education
Should we use blood types, as a class project, to demonstrate genetics? That SOUNDS nice, but there are some pitfalls (hints: possibly adopted and unaware…or….the offspring of an extra marital affair?)

Academic Freedom: are there limits to this, especially when teaching at a public university in the United States? I say: “yes, there are limits”; we cannot use our students as a captive audience to promote religious beliefs. Note: I am NOT talking about “best teaching practices” but rather “what is legal.” Teaching incompetently is legal but ill advised.

The Obama Scandals: Paul Krugman says it well:

I picked a good week to be away — and I am still away, mostly, although playing a bit of hooky on the notebook right now. For it has been the week of OBAMA SCANDALS, nonstop.

Except it seems that there weren’t actually any scandals, just the usual confusion and low-level mistakes that happen all the time, in any administration.

Fracking I know that many who vote the same way that I do are anti-fracking. It is my opinion that fracking CAN be done competently. But when it isn’t, the consequences are disastrous. So when one considers a practice, one has to also consider safeguards and the likelihood that it will be “done right.”

Evolution, medicine, Malaria and Mosquitos
This is fascination. We’ve known for some time that a parasite can influence the behavior of its host. Now, there is solid evidence that the malaria parasite can make a mosquito more likely to “bite” a human, thereby helping the parasite spread. Read about the experiment at Jerry Coyne’s website.

May 17, 2013

## Fish, Residues and Pyromaniacs

Climate Change: yes, fish are swimming to cooler waters thereby hurting some in the fishing industry:

Fish and other sea life have been moving toward Earth’s poles in search of cooler waters, part of a worldwide, decades-long migration documented for the first time by a study released Wednesday.

The research, published in the journal Nature, provides more evidence of a rapidly warming planet and has broad repercussions for fish harvests around the globe.

University of British Columbia researchers found that significant numbers of 968 species of fish and invertebrates they examined moved to escape the warming waters of their original habitats.Previous studies had documented the same phenomenon in specific parts of the world’s oceans. But the new study is the first to assess the migration worldwide and to look back as far as 1970, according to its authors.

The research is more confirmation that “global change is real and has been real for a long time,” said Boris Worm, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was not part of the study. “It’s not something in the distant future. It is well underway.”

[...]

Politics
Robert Reich makes the case that at the moment, President Obama is letting the critics define him, instead of defining himself. He can’t expect the Republicans to cooperate:

Barack Obama is allowing the fires to dominate because he has not defined his core agenda. During the 2012 campaign it appeared to be restoring jobs, rebuilding the middle class, and reversing the scourge of widening inequality. Since then, though, the core has evaporated – leaving him and his administration vulnerable to every pyromaniac on the Potomac.

Math fun: yes, a poem in College Misery about ….residue integrals!

May 17, 2013

## IRS “Scandal”: facts and opinion

Workout notes Leisurely weight workout:
Supplementary: 5 sets of hip hikes and Achilles exercises, 3 sets of super light squats (45, 45, 65)
Abs: 3 sets of 10 of: vertical crunch, sit back, twist, crunch.
Side plank, stretches.

Meat:
pull ups: 5 sets of 10
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185
dumbbell bench: 2 sets of 10 x 65
dumbbell row: 3 sets of 10 x 65 (each arm)
dumbbell military: 3 sets of 12 x 50
incline: 2 sets of 7 x 145
pull down: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curl: EZ curl bar, strict: 3 sets of 10 x 60 (10, 5, 2.5 on each side)

IRS Scandal
The facts are these:
1. The White House, by law, cannot tell them to investigate this group or that person:

Even as Obama vowed that his administration “will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this,” however, the IRS offered no new information on how it selected which groups to single out for scrutiny.

The White House is legally barred from contacting the IRS about a tax matter, under a prohibition adopted after the Watergate scandal. And although it can contact the Treasury Department about tax issues, neither Treasury nor the IRS can disclose specific taxpayer information. The IRS can release information about a petition for tax-
exempt status only after it has been approved.

Obama is not in a position to remove Lerner, a career official who can be terminated for cause only under normal civil service proceedings. The IRS has two political appointees: the commissioner, who serves a five-year term, and the chief counsel.

2. The Commissioner at the time of this behavior, was appointed by President Bush:

Then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee who stepped down in November, received a briefing from the TIGTA about what was happening in the Cincinnati office in May 2012, the aides said. His deputy and the agency’s current acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, also learned about the matter that month, the aides said.

The officials did not share details with Republican lawmakers who had been demanding to know whether the IRS was targeting conservative groups, Republicans said.

It came as a surprise when the Internal Revenue Service apologized, seemingly out of the blue, to a number of Tea Party groups for unfairly scrutinizing their tax exempt status on Friday. Now we know why the apology came when it did.

The Associated Press’ Stephen Ohlemacher reports a federal watchdog report coming out this week will show senior IRS officials knew about the unfair scrutiny as far back as 2011. The report from the Treasury Department’s inspector general shows Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, was informed that groups with “Tea Party,” ”Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being targeted for extra questioning at a meeting on June 29, 2011. During Lerner’s apology on Friday, she blamed the targeting on lower-level tax agents. The report seems to show Lerner was telling the truth on Friday. The report shows she told the agents to change the criteria for flagging groups “immediately.”

ut while a few of the big groups have faced delays in having their tax exemptions recognized by the I.R.S., none appear to have received the intense scrutiny given the Tea Party groups, which were asked dozens of questions about spending on political advertising and other election activities. Of 15 such groups represented by Jay Sekulow, a lawyer with the American Center for Law and Justice, none spent a dollar on broadcast advertising from 2009 through 2012, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

I.R.S. officials said they had also submitted as many as 200 other groups’ applications to closer examination, but have declined to characterize those groups’ political affiliation.

Chris Ashby, a lawyer who advises conservative groups, said the I.R.S. might have focused on smaller groups because they seemed less likely to contest the reviews. “The big groups are generally well-advised, lawyered up. Their tax forms are artfully drawn,” Mr. Ashby said. Smaller groups, he suggested, made a better target for the I.R.S.

“Many of them don’t have counsel,” he said. “They probably aren’t well advised.”

So, the IRS did do wrong, but there is zero evidence that this had anything to do with President Obama.

Opinion
Ok, so you still think that the IRS scandal was driven by politics; that somehow, we wanted to discourage the mostly smaller tea party groups…because of…well, exactly why? Frankly, I WANT groups like this to be front and center and for the Republicans to be associated with them:

May 15, 2013

## President Obama: second term turmoil

Politics
Yes, President Obama’s second term is not going smoothly.

Something that is not President Obama’s fault: the IRS “scandal”
Frankly, I wonder why political groups have any tax exempt status at all. But they do, so they should be treated equally. So, we had a lot of small conservative oriented groups applying for this status. The trouble: the larger groups (Karl Rove’s group and the pro-Obama groups) had lawyers write up their applications to make them complete and compliant. No, this is nothing new; liberal groups have been singled out in the past. And no, it wasn’t just a regional office. But:

Even as Obama vowed that his administration “will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this,” however, the IRS offered no new information on how it selected which groups to single out for scrutiny.

The White House is legally barred from contacting the IRS about a tax matter, under a prohibition adopted after the Watergate scandal. And although it can contact the Treasury Department about tax issues, neither Treasury nor the IRS can disclose specific taxpayer information. The IRS can release information about a petition for tax-
exempt status only after it has been approved.

Obama is not in a position to remove Lerner, a career official who can be terminated for cause only under normal civil service proceedings. The IRS has two political appointees: the commissioner, who serves a five-year term, and the chief counsel.

So, this isn’t a matter of the President targeting political enemies; remember that the best funded, most dangerous groups were not targeted.

It doesn’t help matters that top Republicans don’t know what they are talking about:

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan each sent letters today to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew seeking more answers about the IRS’ focus on tea party groups. Rubio said the IRS commissioner should be fired (though the commissioner in charge resigned in November).

Benghazi
There is mud being slug here too; this is a timeline.
The news organizations fell for “paraphrased e-mail messages”:

Turns out the press got played again by Republicans. Jake Tapper has the smoking gun of the original email from the Obama administration which differs significantly from the “leaked emails” ABC ran with.

In an exclusive for CNN, Tapper reveals that CNN has the original email sent by a top Obama aide, regarding the administration’s reaction to the Benghazi attacks. Tapper reported, “The actual email differs from how sources characterized it to two different media organizations.”

“The actual email from then-Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes appears to show that whomever (sic) leaked it did so in a way that made it appear that the White House primarily concerned with the State Department’s desire to remove references and warnings about specific terrorist groups so as to not bring criticism to the department,” Tapper concludes (my bold).

The email was sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 9:34 p.m. and was obtained by CNN from a U.S. government source. Ironically, the email points out that there is a “ton of wrong information” coming from Congress and people who are not particularly informed (waving hello to Congressional Republicans and Mitt Romney):

“Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.

“There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.

“We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies.”

Tapper notes how ABC and the Weekly Standard covered the leaked emails, which were “paraphrased” “inaccurately” and “inventing the notion” that the White House tried to protect the State Department:

Add to this the Republicans having a “cartoonish view” of how things work:

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told CBS News that Republican lawmakers who are blasting President Barack Obama’s administration for failing to take military action during last September’s surprise attacks in Benghazi have a “cartoonish” view of the military.

“I listened to the testimony of [Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta] and [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey],” Gates explained to CBS host Bob Schieffer in an interview that aired on Sunday. “And, frankly, had I been in the job at the time, I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were.”

“We don’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East — despite all the turmoil that’s going on — with planes on strip alert, troops ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. And so, getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible.”

[...]

“Based on everything I’ve read, people really didn’t know what was going on in Benghazi contemporaneously, and to send some small number of Special Forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, I think, would have been very dangerous,” the former defense secretary observed. “And personally, I would not have approved that.”

“It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces. The one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm’s way. And there just wasn’t time to do that.”

But here is the thing to remember: THIS IS POLITICAL. Looking like an idiot to a knowledgeable person doesn’t matter at all, and the Republican politicians understand that. What is important is to fire up their base; to whip them in a lather.

No, I don’t think that the Republican base is any dumber than the Democratic base, but the Republicans are better politicians than we are.

May 14, 2013

## Some corrections to common misconceptions

Economics:
Some conservatives say “ok, I understand why you might want to TRY government economic stimulus during a recession and practice austerity during boom times. But do these stimulus plans ever really go away?”

Start with stimulus programs. As it turns out, there have only been two significant spending stimulus programs in US history — by which I mean programs deliberately introduced to fight an economic downturn. One was FDR’s program, the WPA/CCC and all that; the other was the spending part of the Obama ARRA. So what happened to each of these programs? Why, not only did both go away; both went away too soon, with premature austerity hitting in 1937 and again in 2010. So much for stimulus that never ends.

OK, someone will reply, but what about aid programs like unemployment benefits and food stamps? Don’t they just ratchet up after each slump?

Um, no. Unemployment benefits as a percentage of GDP:

And yes, there is a chart showing debt (as percentage of GDP) going down during boom times.

Biology
You may have heard that a journeyman NBA player has “come out” as gay. It turns out that this player has a straight brother. So, some conservative thinks that this slams the door on there being a genetic factor in gayness:

There are some things that can be learned from Jason Collin’s stunt. For example, Mr. Collins’ announcement was a surprise to his former fiancé, Carolyn Moos, who played in the Women’s NBA. It was also a surprise to Jason’s twin brother, Jarron.
The media may mention Ms. Moos, but they may not want to mention Jason’s identical twin too often. Doing so may remind people that, unlike race, there is no genetic cause or “gay gene” driving homosexual behavior. If there were, Jason’s happily married, father of three, twin brother would also be involved in homosexuality, and he’s not.

1. “Identical twins” aren’t completely identical: there are a few differences and there are epigenetic factors as well. Proof: they don’t have identical fingerprints. And someone noted that his twin brother isn’t an NBA caliber athlete and there are genetic factors in athletic ability.

2. From the article:

It’s not, of course. The studies that have been done on identical twins are far from conclusive and the few that have been done have found that if one twin is gay, the probability that the other twin is gay ranges from a high end of just over 50% to a low end of around 20% or even lower (to be fair, all of those studies have shortcomings worth discussing). The point is that, while genes appear to play a role in one’s homosexuality, the exact nature of how and how much is still something scientists are trying to figure out.

Many people have trouble with probabilistic reasoning. Example: how many times have you heard someone dismissing the link of smoking to cancer saying “X smoked for 80 years and it didn’t harm him!”.

Social
Uh, people calling your ideas “dumb, “bigoted” or “hateful” does NOT mean that your group (religious or otherwise) is a “persecuted minority.” I just find it comical when Christians in the United States try to play the “victim card”. (now, it IS true that Christians are persecuted in other countries, but not in the US).

I think that many, including some Christians, think that they are entitled to be immune from scrutiny or criticism….while they provide plenty of it to others. I would shake my head and say “unbelievable”, but…well….I’ll just say it: I’ve NEVER, NEVER been a part of ANY group that didn’t take at least a bit of pleasure or comfort in saying “the rest of society doesn’t like us…doesn’t understand us…etc.”, though some groups do this more than others. It is probably a human thing to find excuses to “rally to the side”.

And to their credit, I haven’t seen Christians rioting because they didn’t like a book, cartoon or the way that Jesus was portrayed.

May 5, 2013