# blueollie

## Woo-woos and quantum mechanics

Physics has quite a few counter-intuitive results; many of them are in quantum mechanics. That opens the door to the woo-woos, just as evolution draws attackers from religious fundamentalists.

Fortunately, mathematics is spared most of this, though we have a few cranks and crackpots; here is one of the worst cases (this guy thinks that he has shown that “countably infinite” is the same as “uncountably infinite”).

## Philosophers and GMO LOLZ….one of these is intentional

I suppose it is “philosophy” when David Albert takes Lawrence Krauss to task for not being explicit about what “nothing” means, but you don’t need a Ph.D. in philosophy to see that. And the bizarre fact of nonlocality was discovered not by philosophers, who as far as I can see had little input into that solution, but by scientists. It’s been explained by philosophers to the public, but scientists who are writers can also do that, and often do a better job since they really understand the nuances. Yes, you can say that scientists engage in philosophy when they interpret what they find, but all scientists who ponder the meaning of their discoveries can be said to practice philosophy. That doesn’t constitute an endorsement of professional academic philosophy. The thing is, the “philosophy” practices of scientists doesn’t require the kind of professional training that philosophers demand when they accuse scientists of being “philosophically naive.” That accusation has always seemed to me a self-serving claim for the importance of one’s bit of turf.

According to Tallis, philosophy will solve difficult problems not only in other areas of physics, but also biology. What areas need philosophical input?

Time. Tallis notes:

The physicist Lee Smolin’s recent book, Time Reborn, links the crisis in physics with its failure to acknowledge the fundamental reality of time. Physics is predisposed to lose time because its mathematical gaze freezes change. Tensed time, the difference between a remembered or regretted past and an anticipated or feared future, is particularly elusive. This worried Einstein: in a famous conversation, he mourned the fact that the present tense, “now”, lay “just outside of the realm of science”.

This is above my pay grade; perhaps writers can enlighten me about how philosophy will help straighten out the mess of time. I’d prefer to hear from Sean Carroll (not a philosopher) on this.

I can feel the “butthurt” right now…philosophers boo-hoo-hooing because, when they venture in to the realm of science, those who know the most about science (scientists) blow them off. :-)

Who knows….maybe mathematicians can come up with, say, “the mathematics of word-salads” by which we can critique the philosophers? :-)

GMO
This had me roaring with laughter:

A six-month study by AgriSearch, an on-campus research arm of Dalhousie University, has shown that genetically modified (GM) cucumbers grown under license to Monsanto Inc. result in serious side effects including total groin hair loss and chafing in “sensitive areas”, leading to the immediate and total ban of sales of all that company’s crop and subsequent dill pickles.

The tracking study of 643 men and women in Nova Scotia came about after reports began to surface about bald field mice and the bald feral cats that ate them being discovered by farmers on acreages growing the new crop.

“The bald wild animals raised a huge flag and we immediately obtained subpoenas for the medical records of all 600 plus adults who took part in focus groups and taste tests of the cucumbers by Monsanto in Canada,” said Dr. Nancy Walker, Director of Public Health Research at Dalhousie. “Fully 3/4 of the people who ate these cukes had their crotch area hair fall out. This is not a joking matter at all…these people now have hairless heinies.”

Click the link to read the rest. (and take a gander at some of the other headlines too)

May 27, 2013

## You KNEW that this was coming: Pat Robertson on the tornado

“If enough people were praying, he would intervine…”

May 21, 2013

## Disasters, science and curious responses….

Before you say “shut up and do something to help”: I did. It wasn’t Mitt Romney money; it was on the order of a football game ticket (college) or a race fee. I am too tired to race anyway.

Salamanders’ immune systems are key to their remarkable ability to regrow limbs, and could also underpin their ability to regenerate spinal cords, brain tissue and even parts of their hearts, scientists have found.
In research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University found that when immune cells known as macrophages were systemically removed, salamanders lost their ability to regenerate a limb and instead formed scar tissue.
Lead researcher, Dr James Godwin, a Fellow in the laboratory of ARMI Director Professor Nadia Rosenthal, said the findings brought researchers a step closer to understanding what conditions were needed for regeneration.
“Previously, we thought that macrophages were negative for regeneration, and this research shows that that’s not the case – if the macrophages are not present in the early phases of healing, regeneration does not occur,” Dr Godwin said.
“Now, we need to find out exactly how these macrophages are contributing to regeneration. Down the road, this could lead to therapies that tweak the human immune system down a more regenerative pathway.”
Salamanders deal with injury in a remarkable way. The end result is the complete functional restoration of any tissue, on any part of the body including organs. The regenerated tissue is scar free and almost perfectly replicates the injury site before damage occurred.

Truly awesome, no?

Now as far as this disaster in Oklahoma:

It sort of looks like a World War II carpet bombing.

Will climate change make tornadoes worse? More frequent?
“The short answer is, we have no idea,” Michael Wehner, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told NBC News. For years, Wehner has been studying the climate models for extreme weather, and he’s a lead author for the next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as the federal government’s latest national assessment on climate change.
One problem is that the observational record for tornadoes has not been uniform over time. “It has a bias to it, because more people are living where tornadoes occur, and more people are out looking for them,” Wehner said. That contributes to the perception that tornadoes are happening more frequently than they used to.

The other big problem is that current climate models don’t have the resolution that’s needed to simulate the localized, violent activity of a tornado. Currently, global models are built up from atmospheric interactions on a scale of 100 kilometers (62 miles). Improvements in computer power could soon bring that down to a scale of 25 kilometers (16 miles). That should make it possible for scientists to simulate the weather phenomena that give rise to tornadoes, but not the tornadoes themselves, Wehner said.
On a larger scale, extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent in a warmer world, Wehner said. “The metric that I like to look at is the daily amount of rain for a storm that happens once every 20 years,” he said. “That storm, in a much warmer world, would happen more frequently.” For example, if the world follows a “business-as-usual” scenario, he projects that the average temperature would rise 11 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, and that a once-in-20-years rainstorm would come around every five to 10 years on average.
That doesn’t necessarily mean tornadoes would be more frequent, however. In fact, the current projection calls for wetter spring weather in the northern U.S., and drier weather in the Southwest — with Tornado Alley right in the middle. “There’s some evidence that there might not be a change” in the character of a tornado season, Wehner observed.

I think that it is important to say what we have a good feel for and to admit what we don’t. As far as water born storms (hurricanes): yes, more heat in the oceans means more available energy. But the mechanisms for tornados are different.

There is much more in the article I quoted including a discussion about “tornado alley”: this, believe it or not, is not the worst place in the nation for tornado damage.

Human reaction to disaster
This sort of reaction to disaster has me shaking my head:

Here, you have people who really believe that some deity actually controls events on the earth. (I still don’t understand that one, especially in this day and age). This event blew away houses, killed in injured many and terrified even more.

Now they are praising this deity for saving a soggy Bible page?????? Really???? Seriously????

One sharp response:

My initial reaction is: What a bunch xxxxx!!!!!!! What is wrong with these people???!!!!

But that would be unfair, and probably inaccurate. Statistically speaking, I am sure that many people who think this way have skills and abilities that I don’t have (being good with construction or carpentry, can run a business, can farm, etc.).

What this shows, IMHO, is the power of superstition to brainwash people and to make otherwise competent human beings say dumb and illogical things and to corrupt their thinking.

Oh well.

May 21, 2013

Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t stock XL or XXL sizes in women’s clothing because they don’t want overweight women wearing their brand.
They want the “cool kids,” and they don’t consider plus-sized women as being a part of that group.

[...]

It’s not surprising that Abercrombie excludes plus-sized women considering the attitude of CEO Mike Jeffries, said Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail and CEO of newsletter The Robin Report.
“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis told Business Insider. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
The only reason Abercrombie offers XL and XXL men’s sizes is probably to appeal to beefy football players and wrestlers, Lewis said.
We asked the company why it doesn’t offer larger sizes for women. A spokeswoman told us that Abercrombie wasn’t available to provide a comment.
In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries himself said that his business was built around sex appeal.
“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries also told Salon that he wasn’t bothered by excluding some customers.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

My response to this: So What? It is a business; no one has a “right” to buy their clothing (or whatever they make).
Of course, if some customers don’t like their attitude, they have the right to NOT buy their clothing. :-)

Ok, I lied just a bit: I am interested to know if their model will work.
I had a friend who was in mail order. He would put an ad for something, say a pen that had a digital watch in the body. He’d pay, perhaps a dollar a piece for them wholesale and then sell them, for say, 100 dollars…..while being perfectly honest about what it was (accurate photo and description). He told me that he sold more by charging MORE for the same item; so evidently there is something to “snob appeal”.

Many recognize that, including Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga:

Bikram’s business goals also became more ambitious. Rather than simply own studios and train teachers, he now aims to turn his disciples into franchisees and give hot-yoga enthusiasts nationwide the exact same experience, from the poses down to the instructor’s monologue. As with Starbucks, he figures, familiarity will prove attractive to Americans—and lucrative, too, with potential for licensing deals galore. “Bikram yoga is so big—this is a bathroom slipper you buy [for] \$2 in Kmart,” he says, waving a plastic flip-flop in my face. “But you put ‘Bikram’ on it, it’ll sell for \$35 in a second.”

Hey, if you can persuade customers…:-)

However, at this time, Mr. Choudhury might have different issues on his mind.

Issue Two: Biochemist Larry Moran seems befuddled that those who lack scientific credentials (and expertise) seem comfortable telling experts that the experts have it wrong.

This is all very frustrating. Why do IDiots who have no serious training in biochemistry and molecular biology think they know more than the experts?

And why do they refuse to learn when we attempt to educate them?

Professor Moran: this is the American way! Advocates, be they advocates for creationism, “alternative medicine”, or knee-jerk anti-GMO advocates don’t get advice from “experts”; they give it to them! The only time they listen to experts (or someone with a “doctorate” of some sort) is when they confirm what they already (think that they) know.

What they do is come up with a heuristic that makes sense to them; then they “know” it. That their heuristic flies in the face of established physical laws is of no consequence to them; that it coincides with their intuition is all that matters. And they are smart; just ask them if you don’t believe me.

If you try to point out that their ideas are completely at odds with long established science or knowledge, you’ll be accused of: “close minded”, “being an agent of Satan, a tool of “Big Pharma” or “Monsanto”, a racist, sexist or otherwise evil person, etc. That they have no discoveries or intellectual accomplishments won’t matter at all. “Common Sense” is on their side!

It is the Dunning-Kruger effect run wild.

May 10, 2013

## A case study of non-critical acceptance….

Workout notes: yes, the piriformis is moderately achy, but I walked two easy miles and did some PT, yoga, exercise ball stuff, etc. It should be feeling ok by the end of the week.

Posts

See the flaw here? If you don’t ask yourself:
1. Did Ronald Reagan collect more revenue than, say, Teddy Roosevelt? (yes, he did).
2. What happens to revenue collections when incomes go up? Remember that the proponents of supply side economics often repeat the mantra “low tax rates leads to high tax revenues”.

Of course, this is aimed at conservatives that absolutely despise President Obama, and so few ill ask if this makes any sense at all. And, yes, some won’t see why this is a bogus argument, even when it is explained to them…and many of these people see themselves as “smart”. Yes, this phenomenon is not one sided; liberals do it too.

Now for this phenomenon applied to science:

this is a viral video and I admit that the graphics are cool. But:

Well, one (correct) take away from this is that while we have a (sort of) two dimensional solar system model with the sun as the reference point, one can also take a galatic point of view to see that the sun traces out an orbit in the galaxy; therefore the planets do too. For that matter, one can take a universal look and see our galaxy (and hence our solar system) expanding within our spatial universe, but never mind that.

There are some problems with this video. For one: “vortex” isn’t the right word; the video author means that, if one uses a center of the galaxy as a reference point, then the trajectory traced by the planets is a (sort of) helix. The other thing: the planets don’t “drag after” the sun as it moves; in fact the angle of inclination of the “orbit planes” (they are slightly different) is about 60 degrees with respect to the sun’s trajectory around the galaxy and not 90 degrees; hence at times the various planets actually “lead” the sun. There are other problems as well; here is a very nice summary.

Just because something looks cool doesn’t mean that it is reality. :-)

Back to Politics
This is expensive stupidity for the sake of helping people feel better:

To fight the specter of poor people spending taxpayer money on drugs, a Republican congressman has reintroduced legislation to make welfare applicants pee in cups to prove they’re clean.

Rep. Stephen Fincher’s (R-Tenn.) bill would require states to randomly test 20 percent of people receiving benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which spends roughly \$16 billion per year supporting poverty-stricken parents with monthly checks averaging \$392.

“Currently the federal government enables drug abusers a safety-net by allowing them to participate in the TANF program,” Fincher said in a statement. “Instead of having to make the hard-choice between drugs and other essential needs, abusers are able to rely on their monthly check to help them pay their bills.”

In Congress and in state legislatures across the country, Republicans have sought to implement welfare drug testing programs in recent years. Few measures have become law, as testing can be expensive and there’s not much data reflecting a widespread drug problem among welfare recipients. Civil liberties advocates successfully sued to halt the most sweeping drug screening law, implemented in Florida in 2011.

In fact, here is what happened in Florida:

Florida’s four-month drug-testing run in 2011 yielded 108 negative drug tests, according to Department of Children and Families data. Only 2.6 percent of applicants who took the test failed, though supporters of the law say that does not account for people who walked away from the application process because they were on drugs.

The pass rate was 96.3 percent, leaving the state to pay more than \$100,000 to adults who paid for the test and passed. The average time an adult receives TANF is four and a half months, said DCF spokesman Joe Follick.

In short, you are paying a lot of money to screen out a few slackers (those who failed, and those who walked away). This makes no fiscal sense, but it is politically popular because “everyone is against druggies getting welfare”. No money was saved:

From July through October in Florida — the four months when testing took place before Judge Scriven’s order — 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.

Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of \$30, the cost to the state was \$118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.

As a result, the testing cost the government an extra \$45,780, he said.

And it is the Republicans that have all that good “business sense”?? :-)

By the way, when I was in the Navy, I was subject to drug testing. But I served on a nuclear submarine; the consequences of someone serving while “high” (which did happen) were potentially catastrophic; it was a serious safety issue in that case.

March 4, 2013

## Wrong, Wrong Wrong….

It seems to me that when readers declare that some piece of economics commentary is “wrong”, they often confuse three different notions of wrongness, which are neither intellectually nor morally equivalent.

First, there’s the ordinary business of expressing a view about the economy that the reader disagrees with – e.g., “Krugman is wrong, because the government can’t create jobs”; or, if you prefer, “Casey Mulligan is wrong, because we’re suffering from demand problems, not supply problems.” Obviously it’s OK to say things like this, and sometimes the criticism is correct. (I’m not wrong, but Mulligan is!) But equally obviously, there’s nothing, er, wrong about being wrong in this sense: people will disagree, and that’s legitimate.

His second “way of being wrong” is to make a technical error (say, a pop science author said that a “simply connected” manifold is “contractable”, which is false. $S^2$ is such an example. But there is no way one could expect a reporter to understand this; in fact which it comes to technical stuff this appears to be the case:

The third way of being wrong is to say something that is mind-numbingly false that can be fact checked by anyone who can read (e. g., “Obama raised income taxes on most Americans”).

I have to give Dr. Krugman credit though: he allows comments even from people who are ill versed in…well, just about everything.

If I were ever famous enough to have a specialty blog, I’d make passing some sort of exam a prerequisite to comment.

On another note

Yeah, we have to put up with a few woos but this is ridiculous!

August 22, 2012

## Republican Rabbit Holes, Election Videos and Other Topics

Non-political
Science and Technology

Sad news: Dennis Ritchie, the “father of the computer language C” died. What an awesome lifetime accomplishment: to have your very own, widely used computer language.

Interesting Puzzle Security:

What could one agent be told that he would not forget but would be unable to recall? Something he could pass on (not in writing) to the other agent, but that if captured and tortured he’d be unable to reveal.

Perhaps it might be something that has meaning only to the person that the message was intended. Or, perhaps the intended person has some sort of key and what the agent would have to remember depends on a reaction to this key (say, a photo) that is all but impossible to duplicate from memory. Who knows; this is fun to think about.

Living Stromatolites: found in Europe
Jerry Coyne reports on living stromatolites being found in Europe; these are the oldest known lifeforms (evolved 3 billion years ago). It was thought that such colonies would only be found in places that had protection from predators; this was NOT the case here.

Religion
We know that Christian and Muslim fundamentalists sometimes behave very badly. Well, so do some Jewish fundamentalists. Evidently some school girls weren’t dressed modestly enough for these clowns; hence they felt they had the right to yell and throw stuff at them. Bottom line: some religious conservatives don’t seem to have a concept of “mind your own business”.

Politics
Do the state primaries “more national” than they used to be? I found this to be interesting:

The argument: cable TV (and perhaps the internet?) make national issues more important to people in the states than they used to be; that is, one does well in a state by doing well nationally rather than investing a lot of time in the state itself and talking to the local party people. I don’t know; Mr. Morriss admits that the states had a big impact in the 2008 primary elections. Will that be the case in 2012?

Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann got her J. D. at the now-defunct Oral Roberts law school, where religion and law were mixed. She then went to work for the IRS (yes, the government). And yes, she passed the Minnesota Bar exam. This makes me wonder if she is not as mind numbingly dumb as I had thought; perhaps she is someone who runs her mouth prior to engaging her brain.

Republicans
Yes, they are belly aching that Obama is calling them out on their obstructionism. But in fact, Republicans cannot (or will not) grasp reality, as Paul Krugman points out:

In the real world, recent events were a devastating refutation of the free-market orthodoxy that has ruled American politics these past three decades. Above all, the long crusade against financial regulation, the successful effort to unravel the prudential rules established after the Great Depression on the grounds that they were unnecessary, ended up demonstrating — at immense cost to the nation — that those rules were necessary, after all.

But down the rabbit hole, none of that happened. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because of runaway private lenders like Countrywide Financial. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because Wall Street pretended that slicing, dicing and rearranging bad loans could somehow create AAA assets — and private rating agencies played along. We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers exploited gaps in financial regulation to create bank-type threats to the financial system without being subject to bank-type limits on risk-taking.

No, in the universe of the Republican Party we found ourselves in a crisis because Representative Barney Frank forced helpless bankers to lend money to the undeserving poor.

O.K., I’m exaggerating a bit — but not much. Mr. Frank’s name did come up repeatedly as a villain in the crisis, and not just in the context of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which Republicans want to repeal. You have to marvel at his alleged influence given the fact that he’s a Democrat and the vast bulk of the bad loans now afflicting our economy were made while George W. Bush was president and Republicans controlled the House with an iron grip. But he’s their preferred villain all the same.

The demonization of Mr. Frank aside, it’s now obviously orthodoxy on the Republican side that government caused the whole problem. So what you need to know is that this orthodoxy has hardened even as the supposed evidence for government as a major villain in the crisis has been discredited. The fact is that government rules didn’t force banks to make bad loans, and that government-sponsored lenders, while they behaved badly in many ways, accounted for few of the truly high-risk loans that fueled the housing bubble.

But that’s history. What do the Republicans want to do now? In particular, what do they want to do about unemployment?

Well, they want to fire Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve — not for doing too little, which is a case one can make, but for doing too much. So they’re obviously not proposing any job-creation action via monetary policy.

Incidentally, during Tuesday’s debate, Mitt Romney named Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw as one of his advisers. How many Republicans know that Mr. Mankiw at least used to advocate — correctly, in my view — deliberate inflation by the Fed to solve our economic woes?

So, no monetary relief. What else? Well, the Cheshire Cat-like Rick Perry — he seems to be fading out, bit by bit, until only the hair remains — claimed, implausibly, that he could create 1.2 million jobs in the energy sector. Mr. Romney, meanwhile, called for permanent tax cuts — basically, let’s replay the Bush years! And Herman Cain? Oh, never mind.

By the way, has anyone else noticed the disappearance of budget deficits as a major concern for Republicans once they start talking about tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy?

But remember that the Republican belief in the Magic of the Free Market and in trickle down economics is utterly unfalsifiable; it is pure religion to them. No amount of data will phase them.

Here is Barney Frank being amused that Newt Gingrich continues to blame him…for policies that were passed when the Republicans had control of the House!

Here is a take on Mr. 9-9-9:

Though Dick Morris thinks that it is a workable idea:

So, let’s discourage demand exactly when we need more of it???? Oh wait…demand side economics is bad, bad, bad..except that it works. :)

Mitt Romney
Evidently he sees Rick Perry as his true competition; hence he freely talks up Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann:

October 15, 2011

## Republican You Tube Debate 22 September 2011

My pre-debate prediction:
“Tonight’s debate: Ronald Reagan!!! Tax cuts create jobs! Class warfare! Repeal Obamacare! Border fences! Execute even more people! Get government off of our backs! Defend marriage!”

The actual debate:

Perry: no specific plan, but he’ll “get government off our backs”…we’ll be like Texas.

Romney: “Obama is doing it all wrong, taxes takes from the successful and gives to others”.

Bachmann: “it is all your money”, then contradicts herself and “Obama ruined the economy”.

Santorum: asked if there should be a federal “right to work” law…Santorum would support such a bill for public employees.

Gingrich: asked if he’d extend unemployment benefits. says that training program is necessary to get unemployment benefits; it is “wrong to give people money for doing nothing”; wild applause.

Huntsman: asked about tax incentives for gas companies. Talks about a “bridge” energy sources (natural gas). He’d be ok with a start up subsidy.

Cain: asked about his 9-9-9 plan (why 9′s?) Gets applause. Says his plan is unlike Romney’s “status quo” plan.
Romney: “that’s fine” Says that middle income families; anyone under 200K pays zero tax on savings, etc.

Paul: asked about the 10′th amendment. He’d veto every single bill that violates the 10′th amendment. Wild applause from the Paul-o-bots.

Johnson: why is he here. New Mexico governor (former). He is the veto king, will throw out the federal tax system, blah, blah.

Rick Scott: gosh he looks like a thug. (giving a pep talk between sessions).

Rick Perry: social security back to the states? Mitt has been wrong.
Mitt Romney: not what was in Perry’s book. Find that Rick Perry and get him to stop saying that. Social Security is a federal government plan and should be stabilized.
Rick Perry: mentions that Romney changed his book from hardback to paper back edition (true).
Romney: said he stood by his book (which one?)

Romney: asked if President Obama is a socialist? He calls him a “big spending liberal”. Europe isn’t working, I believe in America, freedom, capitalism, etc., etc., etc…..wild applause from the dummies.

Huntsman: what about the Obama tax hike on millionaires. What say you? Notes: it is popular. He says “no…this is the worst time” (Reagan is raised for the first time!….) Dodd-Frank, repeal Obamacare, etc.

Cain: which department would he eliminate, if forced to. He said: EPA, wild applause from the morons. Says to raise a responsible EPA…now goes to a Chilean social security system…wild applause.

Gingrich: how can you slash spending? He says: 21′st century “contract with America” (Ronald Reagan…mentioned twice).
Obama’s “socialist policies”, “class warfare” policies. Note: he didn’t answer the question.

All candidates: “massive government overreach, what do you do”?

Johnson: abolish the Department of Education. Wild applause
Santorum: parents are customers (applause). Gibberish…parental control.
Gingrich: very profound reform at the state level, pell grants for K-12, wild applause.
Paul: get government out of the business of education. Noted that Republicans added “no child left behind”. Tax credits to those who opt out.
Perry: lot of good ideas, etc. Promote school choice, voucher system, slams Romney again..says he likes Obama’s race to the top.
Romney: “nice try”. “federal government out of education”. “says that class size isn’t the issue” (he is wrong), parents, he’ll take on those teacher’s unions! He praises Arne Duncan’s teacher evaluation idea.
Bachmann: I’m a mom, parents, repeal “the federal education law”, blah, blah. wild applause.
Cain: cut the strings attached. “empower the students” (get the federal government out)
Huntsman: talks up his Utah record, “say no” to unfunded mandates. localize, blah blah.

Immigration:
Bachmann: federal government is failing the states…Obama shouldn’t have sued Arizona, build a fence on “every inch” of the southern border. No tax payer benefits for illegal aliens….wild applause.

Gingrich: asked about e-verify. Should businesses have to use this? Penalties for businesses that hire illegals. It should be easy. Strongly favored 100 percent control of the border, wild applause line “English only”.

Romney: Romney vetoed legislation to provide in state tuition discount to illegal aliens. Slams Perry for signing such a law; wild applause. Repeats Gingrich, Bachmann, blah, blah, “turn off the magnet”.

Perry: asked about illegal immigrants, and in-state tuition rates. he supports Arizona…Texas Rangers to patrol the border. Defends education…”I don’t think that you have a heart”. Best line of the debate. Note: the state of Texas voted “yes”.

Santorum: “questions in state tuition”. Claims that Perry is weak on this issue.

Perry: “have you ever been”. The idea that you are going to build a fence that long is well, infeasible.
Perry is actually making more sense than some of these clowns.

Paul: fences? He is asked about the fences keeping us in. He stands by his fences to keep people in. He calls e-verify a national ID card. Attacks birthright citizenship. (Constitution).

Break II
Israel and the Palestinian State.

Romney: no space between you and your allies. He says “don’t apologize”, etc. Says to not to chastise them in public. Criticizes Obama; says Iran becoming nuclear “unacceptable”.

Cain: “peace through strength and clarity”. If you mess with Israel, you mess with the US (wild applause).

Perry: what would you do if Pakistan lost control of the nuclear weapons. He dodges the question, and criticizes Obama for not being a good ally (to India). Claims that we don’t have allies. No applause?

Santorum: don’t take troops out of Iraq ; distances himself from others, uses “victory”.

Gingrich: No more foreign aid??? Says to review it; replace government to government aid by private investments. No aid to non-allies.

Johnson: huh?

Huntsman: foreign policy (only one on the stage who knows): we don’t protect the goodness with our broken economy.
Santorum: our values aren’t sick (yes, they are), fighting to win…”one hand tied behind our generals”, blah, win, win?
Huntsman: “only Pakistan can save Pakistan, only Afghanistan can save Afghanistan”, wild applause.

Social
Separation of church and state: doesn’t mean that we are people of faith (wild applause from the morons)…expression where it occurs ….freedom for all people (belief in Satan?)

Gay soldier: will you reinstate DADT (any sexual activity has no place in the military?)
Santorum: Removing DADT is injecting social policy into the applause? Wild, Wild, applause from the idiots.

“Keep it to yourself”??? What the heck does that mean.

Ron Paul: on abortion. state’s issue. How are you going to police the “day after pill”.

Cain: asked about his surviving cancer, gets deserved applause. Claims that Obamacare would have killed him. He mentions that he was able to get treatment…claims that a government official would have dictated his treatment (bullshit….insurance adjusters micromanage this stuff).

Huntsman: what about Obamacare; preexisting conditions coverage and mandates. Claims that this has gummed up our systems…let the states do it. But Mr. Huntsman: what about pre-existing conditions? Didn’t answer it…

Bachmann: vaccine and claimed a link to mental retardation. Do you stand by this vaccine? She claimed that she reported what a mother said. Attacks Perry; says that parents has to make the decision. Claims that the drug company paid off Perry.

Perry. Yes, I got lobbied. Got lobbied by a young lady who had stage 4 cervical cancer…reminds that he had a opt-out option. “I will always error on the side of life”.

Perry: your state has a lot of uninsured. Texas ranks 49′th in uninsured. He responds by blaming the federal government.

Perry: “which Romney are we dealing with”. He is stumbling badly…

Romney: “nice try”, “I haven’t retreated from my book”

Perry: “I haven’t retreated an inch”.

That was the testiest exchange.

Jobs
Not asking for Jobs plan, but plan to turn the country around:

Huntsman: tax reform, regulatory reform (Dodd-Frank, Obama care), natural gas…
Cain: economic growth 9-9-9 plan, and leadership (Reagan…)
Bachmann: “brass ring” of liberty. Brings up the lie “number 1 reason people aren’t hiring is Obamacare” (a long debunked lie)
Romney: admits that there is a problem. Patriotism….this will do it…(huh)
Perry: I am a great job creator, I’ll deregulate, lower corporate tax rates, energy independence…
Paul: 20 years: bubbles, Federal Reserve, then…
Gingrich: 32 years ago, Carter was bad…Reagan. Blah blah, blah…Obama’s going to lose, blah blah
Santorum: President doesn’t understand America and doesn’t understand what America is about…Reagan…Obama is King George III
Johnson: next door neighbor’s dog has created more “shovel ready jobs”….austerity, (this guy is a crank).
admits that he doesn’t know what will create jobs (but does so unintentionally).

Wild card question: who on this stage would you choose as a running mate;

Johnson: would choose Paul (liberty, blah blah)
Paul: no choice at the moment but I am in third…
Perry: Cain + Gingrich
Romney: makes fun of the previous…I won’t do it.
Note: called out on calling Perry unelectable.
Bachmann: won’t answer…says that conservatives don’t have settle (lies about Obama’s approval rating)
Cain: would choose Romney and then Gingrich.
Huntsman: made fun of Romney fighting Perry. He’d pick Cain on ties.

Oh gosh; it is frightening to think that the debate audience has offspring.

September 23, 2011

## 28 July 2011: pm

Workout notes: 4.2 mile run on my hilly course; 85 F with 65 percent humidity. It took me 41:49, though I didn’t put forth much of an effort until the last 1.03 miles (9:19).

Then swimming: 2200 yards; it was so-so but the water felt good. I was near the wall, but two MILF type women got in next to me. They were horrible swimmers, but still their presence cheered me up a bit.

My swim was so-so: 250 of 3g/swim, 250 of 25 front/25 fins, 500 of alternating: 25 fist/25 swim, 25 catch-up, 25 swim.
Then 4 x 250 with no rest: pull, fins, pull, fins; with equipment changes I was in the low 18′s. Then 200 of back/breast to cool down.

Note: yes, I am almost exclusively running, but the piriformis/gluteus medius is feeling better, and running is better than doing nothing at all. It stood up to the just moving around in the stores, museums, etc. I need to be more diligent with my lunges and hip-hikes though. I have NOT given up on distance walking but rather I am staying in (minimal) shape so I can do at least a few “semi-long” walks each week; I’d love to be able to walk a marathon and a 30 miler this fall.

I’ve got two new pair of walking shoes and I want to start using them!

Posts

Sports

I admit that this post made me laugh out loud. Sure, some people enjoy sports by pushing themselves to the limit, and others just like to participate. But leave it to a beta-male humanities major to make a political statement to take down that “evil patriarchy” with it.

Note: the alpha males (AND females) in the hard sciences actually have to prove our results. ;)

So, yes, I subscribe to The Nation, but I do a major “eye-roll” at some of the articles.

Science Yes, I love frogs (as an animal) and wince when I hear of someone eating frog legs. Yes, I know that this is illogical; I just like these ancient creatures; I always have. When I see them, I am seeing ancient life. But in all honesty, there are problems that irresponsible, over consumption of frog legs is causing.

Spot the error From Sandwalk:

(note: if Dr. A is reading this, YOU ARE DISQUALIFIED from the “spot the error”. :) )

Politics

Economics
Yes, I am sure that my regular blog readers already know this. But many people don’t, so here is a nice, handy reference to send to your perplexed friends and family members who don’t understand how tax brackets work.

Basically, tax brackets work the following way:
Taxable Income / Tax Rate
\$0 – \$10,000 / 10%
\$10,000 – \$30,000 / 15%
\$30,000 – \$80,000 / 25%
\$80,000 – \$200,000 / 28%
\$200,000 – \$400,000 / 33%
More than \$400,000 / 35%
(rounded for ease of explanation). The first 10,000 of income is taxed the same FOR EVERYONE. Then the next 20,000 dollars is taxed the same for everyone. Example: if you make 100,000 a year, you pay 10 percent on the first 10,000 of your income, then 15 percent on the next 20,000, then 25 percent on the next 50,000, and then 28 percent on the next 20,000. You don’t pay 28 percent on ALL of your 100K.

Anyway, the link explains all that.

Barack Obama

Yes, President Obama sometimes frustrates me; there are times when appears too compromising and too, well, timid. I am not alone in this:

How did we get into this mess?

I thought I’d seen Washington at its worst. I was there just after Watergate. I was there when Jimmy Carter imploded. I was there during the government shut-down of 1995.

But I hadn’t seen the worst. This is the worst.[...]

But another part of the answer lies with the President — and his inability or unwillingness to use the bully pulpit to tell Americans the truth, and mobilize them for what must be done.

Barack Obama is one of the most eloquent and intelligent people ever to grace the White House, which makes his failure to tell the story of our era all the more disappointing and puzzling. Many who were drawn to him in 2008 (including me) were dazzled by the power of his words and insights — his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, his autobiography and subsequent policy book, his talks about race and other divisive issues during the campaign.

We were excited by the prospect of a leader who could educate — an “educator in chief” who would use the bully pulpit to explaini what has happened to the United States in recent decades, where we must go, and why.

But the man who has occupied the Oval Office since January, 2009 is someone entirely different — a man seemingly without a compass, a tactician who veers rightward one day and leftward the next, an inside-the Beltway dealmaker who doesn’t explain his comprises in light of larger goals.[...]

Obama the Moderate Conservative

No time to do any original posting tonight. But for those who missed the first time I linked to it, here’s Bruce Bartlett — an economic adviser to Ronald Reagan — explaining why Obama is indeed a moderate conservative in practical terms.

Here is the article that Krugman is referring to. Basically it points out that Richard Nixon did some moderately liberal things and that Barack Obama is pushing for some (formerly) conservative policies:

[...]Liberals hoped that Obama would overturn conservative policies and launch a new era of government activism. Although Republicans routinely accuse him of being a socialist, an honest examination of his presidency must conclude that he has in fact been moderately conservative to exactly the same degree that Nixon was moderately liberal.

Here are a few examples of Obama’s effective conservatism:

* His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;
* He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;
* He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
* He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;
* And in the past few weeks he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans.

Further evidence can be found in the writings of outspoken liberals such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has condemned Obama’s conservatism ever since he took office.[...]

As far as the bullet points: yes, many of these would have been conservative policies, back in the 1990′s. But I see many of them as the best that we can do at the moment; just how in the world was he supposed to get a Krugman type stimulus package through a Senate which was held hostage to the filibuster and the blue dog Democrats from red states? The House health care bill had a public option in it; but things changed when the Democrats lost that 60′th vote; doesn’t ANYONE remember that? As far as the tax cuts: we got an extension of the unemployment benefits, no? Weren’t those held hostage? Remember that Mr. Obama has always put governing first; he campaigned that way.

But on Daily Kos, a courageous diary author attempted to set the record straight:

Finally, I saw an article by someone who does get it. James Warren, writing for the Atlantic, explains Obama in context of his background in the Illinois State Senate and as a “deal-making community organizer.” I’ve always viewed Obama through the same lens and I suspect that’s why I’m very rarely surprised by anything he does.

And, as you watch him, be reminded of his informative pre-law school days as a community organizer in Chicago. Recall how they inspired both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin to openly mock the term “community organizer” at the 2008 Republican National Convention, with the former New York mayor unable to contain derisive giggling as he openly wondered what the term stood for.

Well, it stands for giving power to the powerless. But, for Obama, it also meant a strategic set of notions about finding mutual agreement among people with the most divergent of motivations, according to Obama mentors whom I know from back then and David Maraniss, the journalist-author now working on an Obama biography.

He describes Obama as taking a pragmatic, non-ideological approach to making progress, which incidentally, is how Saul Alinsky describes his own approach in the community organizing favorite, “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.”

The column gives several examples of Obama’s work as an Illinois State Senator. The Illinois Senate drives me up the wall. The pace of progress always feels slow. And anything positive is often lumped in with something negative to appease lobbyists from the other side. But, over time they’ve done some impressive things like ending the death penalty, passing same sex civil unions, and creating a renewable energy portfolio standard. So, it doesn’t surprise me when I see Obama attempt a similar approach at the national level.

He comes from a background which assumes that taking what you can get and fighting for more next year isn’t considered a failure. Neither is getting people together for a solution that most can be happy with as long as progress is being made.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I am as far left on policy as anyone that is still in shouting distance of the mainstream. For example, I want single payer health care and I want the Bush tax cuts to expire for everyone. I want more money for education and less for wars.

And yes, while I like some Republicans on a personal level (ok, I like most of those that I actually know on a personal level) I don’t like the way that Republicans think; to me they are a collection of the ignorant, the deluded, the short sighted, the simple minded and the amoral greedy. Many are very smart but can’t move beyond their instinct to punish the lazy, or they adhere to discredited economic ideas which have failed repeatedly in the past. And too many Republicans think that compromise is a bad thing. We have some liberals that are like that (visit Daily Kos sometime) but the percentage of Republicans who think that way is far greater:

But I like President Obama because he is NOT like me; he is smarter, more level headed, wiser..and he can see the better angles in people. And he is willing to endure wrath from his base in order to govern; the man is mature.
To be fair, I started to see some signs of the latter in President Bush in the last year or so of his term; pity I didn’t see much of that during the first 6 years or so.

So, what is up at the moment?
The vote should happen soon; evidently Mr. Boehner has enough votes to pass it through the House:

On the House floor, there were some Democrats who continued to call for including some kind of tax increase, like letting the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans lapse, but no matter how events unfold in the days ahead, that seems the unlikeliest of outcomes.

After the Republican caucus broke up, more than a dozen freshmen Republicans held a news conference Thursday morning outside the Capitol to voice support for Mr. Boehner’s plan. Several members interviewed said they would support the bill in an effort to avoid a possible federal default after the government’s borrowing power runs out next week.

“This is heartbreak, for a lot of us,” said Representative Sean P. Duffy, a freshman from Wisconsin. “We didn’t come here for this. But you know what? We’re going to swallow it and get the job done.”

Representative Nan Hayworth, Republican of New York, said the bill had been tweaked enough to gain her support, and she felt the mood in the party’s caucus to be moving in Mr. Boehner’s direction.

“This is what you’d expect thoughtful people to do,” Ms. Hayworth said. “People with passionately held beliefs can evaluate the evidence, and there has been a coalescence that is developing around the idea that the speaker has presented and an appropriately amended bill that represents a very productive and constructive approach to the challenge we face.”

As their leaders got a sense of exactly how many Republicans they could count on — they need at least 217 — there would be interesting decisions in the cloakroom about which members would be given a pass to go against the leadership, and which would have their arms twisted, despite the political consequences back home, where some freshmen may have a weak grip on their seats and some members may face intense primary challenges.

Where do we go from here? Well, I actually think that Mr. Rush Limbaugh might be right (for a change):

Rush Limbaugh, rallying opposition to John Boehner’s plan to raise the debt limit:

If the Democrats get their way, the Republicans will pass the Boehner bill. It will go to the Senate, where it will immediately be announced dead on arrival. And then, dingy Harry will announce, “But, there’s enough here. We can work with this. We didn’t really realize all that was in this. There’s stuff in here — yeah, yeah. … Maybe I can get some Democratic votes on it after all.”

And then miraculously — miraculously — the prince of compromise, Harry Reid, steals the day, by compromising with just an outrageous dead on arrival bill. He gets all kinds of credit for hard work, rolling up sleeves and that magic compromise, and sends that back to the house. Okay Republicans, ball’s back in your court. Here’s your bill with a few modifications.

My guess is that it will pass. We might all win because this teaches the new tea-baggers in office that, at times, one actually has to govern.

The fact that such a routine process was turned into this circus does not speak well for us, as Fareed Zakaria points out.

July 28, 2011