blueollie

GOP governor’s debate, math and science

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

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

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

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

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

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

cold

(hat tip: Why Evolution is True)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note: some internet memes get this wrong. Surprised?

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

Now on the opposite end of the intellectual scale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tea Party and Republican leadership: unreachable

This isn’t the 2000-2008 era:

During the Bush years, I would often run into people mocking W for being stupid. I never thought he was — incurious, anti-intellectual, but not stupid. And the people around him certainly weren’t stupid — cynical, dishonest, but not stupid, especially regarding matters political.

The current situation is different. These guys are cynical and dishonest — but they’re also very, very stupid.

If one thing has been clear for months, it is that Obama (a) won’t give ground on health reform (b) won’t let himself be extorted again over the debt ceiling; he knows that his cave in 2011 was the worst thing he’s done in office, and is determined to set things right by establishing, once and for all, the precedent that you don’t get to pull that trick.

Yet here we are, with Republicans bleeding politically — and knowing that they’re bleeding — and what do we have? Boehner repeating that Obama must concede on rolling back health reform, and Cantor assuring his colleagues that Obama’s going to cave.

It’s true that they’re in a box. Given everything they’ve told the base, facing reality is going to cost them a lot. But they put themselves into this box.

Unfortunately, the whole country and maybe the world is going to pay part of the price of their stupidity.

As far as the debt limit ceiling: time for the coin?

And as far as the Tea Party: these people are “my way or the highway” because they are not only convinced that they are right, but that the rest of us are truly evil:

EK: And how big is the tea party?
CP: What we do is we use support for the tea party as a proxy for reactionary conservatives. During the time of this survey about 22 percent of the country strongly supports the tea party.
EK: That’s still not that large. So why do they have such success driving outcomes?
CP: Because they won’t compromise. You’ve got about 52 members of the Republican conference who are affiliated with the tea party in some official way. That’s a bit less than a quarter of all House Republicans. That’s enough in the House. They refuse to compromise because, to them, compromise is capitulation. If you go back to Hofstadter’s work when he’s talking about when the John Birch Society rode high, he talks about how conservatives would see people who disagree as political opponents, but reactionary conservatives saw them as evil. You can’t capitulate to evil.

1.3

The Tea Party faction is not a rational actor. They deserve no respect.

October 5, 2013 Posted by | politics/social, republican party, republicans | , | 2 Comments

Not quite right but…

Today’s run: very slow 8 miles (1:27:36); it was rainy and the course was a bit slippery. But mostly I couldn’t get into it. I felt heavy, weak and lifeless; I didn’t mind the run; I actually enjoyed it…but I had no “pop” in my stride at all.

I stretched afterward.

Posts
I love what Paul Krugman says about this post: if you think that you are being made fun of, then you are. The economics crackpots just get blistered here.

More economics: our recession sucked but could have sucked worse. The numbers don’t lie even if the Republicans do.

Political Race
Obviously, though I like what Intrade says, this race isn’t over. But if Mr. Romney loses, the fault is probably more of what the current Republicans actually are than their candidate, as Robert Reich argues.

My take: the Republicans compose three large groups: the “leave me alone” group (Idaho, Wyoming, etc.), the “rabid populist/return to Jesus” group (southern states) and the big money group (millionaires pay too much tax group) and so they will always be able to win Senate races in sparsely populated states and win House districts. So, they’ll always have enough influence to possibly control the House, or at worst, gum up the works in the Senate.

Yes, Mr. Romney might still win but:

World Events
Fareed Zakaria (yes, his plagiarism charge has been investigated and shown to be sloppiness rather than intentional)
He still has interesting things to say. He points out that the US doesn’t always have as much influence on the rest of the world (especially reactions in the Muslim part of the Middle East) as we sometimes think.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, economics, economy, Mitt Romney, political/social, politics/social, religion, republican party, republicans, running | Leave a comment

Ryan-Romney: The Tea Party Dream of REAL AMERICA

This is the Ryan-Romney campaign staff photo.

Good lord…if I went to one of their rallies they’d probably call INS on me.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Mitt Romney, Republican, republican party, republicans | Leave a comment

Well, one more day….

Yoga (crowded class; saw Lynn and T was wearing her usual tight spandex…)

Then 32 minute warm up jog (3 miles), 9 goose loop laps (29:45; 9:37/10:13/9:55) .5 on, .22 off, then one hard .36, then 2 miles of jogging.
The day was pretty, I felt fine but I didn’t have that extra “umpf”; 13 seconds slower than last week.

Note: the weather has cooled off a bit. But my previous strategy of doing my slow running outside (in the heat) and my faster (ok, less glacial) running inside (treadmill/indoor track) wasn’t all crazy.

Academia:
Class starts tomorrow; department meeting today.

Posts

What is more likely: Bronze Age people living in a planet in a galaxy that is like millions of other galaxies got it right (when they got almost nothing else right) or they were just making stuff up?

However, there are millions who think that the Bronze Age people got it right….one of them is Hike Huckabee:

Why is everybody so down on rape? This is what Mike Huckabee wanted to know today, on his radio program, which also featured Rep. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin as a guest. For instance, did you know that Ethel Waters was conceived when her mother got raped? Do you know what a world without rape would look like? A world without Ethel Waters, that’s what.

This is what Mike Huckabee said today, as transcribed by the Los Angeles Times’ James Rainey, about the upside of being raped and then getting pregnant:

“Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,” Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: “I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”

Anyway, stop being so racist against rape-babies, everyone.

Yep….Hiroshima and Tokyo were nicely rebuilt after being a-bombed and firebombed respectively. This clown is just completely tone deaf.

I wonder if this represents a split in the Republican Party between the religious clowns that the “money first” types. Yes, I got a private message from one of the religious types saying that I am misreading things. I don’t think that I am; I really don’t think that religious conservatism has a long term future in the industrialized world. My guess is that in 1-2 more generations, religion will be as dead here as it is in Western Europe. We’ll still have conservatives but they won’t be religious ones.

Note: I disagree with this article slightly. Yes, more Republicans are creationists, but many Democrats embrace woo and new-age nonsense. The difference, as I see it, is scope. We might have someone like Senator Tom Harkin trying to get “alternative medicine” (aka “quackery”) into the health care bills. But that doesn’t compare, in scope, to the scores of creationists in Congress, state legislatures and school boards who are trying to ruin science and science education.

Note: ironically, I don’t see religion as being a left/right thing. Many in the Democratic coalition are religious (example: African Americans). This has an interesting effect on President Obama’s reelection strategy and it is NOT the obvious one.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | atheism, Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, religion, republican party, republicans, science | Leave a comment

My Thoughts: Illinois Primary Election

My take: if Rick Santorum can get his people to the polls (church goers, households making 100K or less per year, downstate voters), he might beat his poll numbers again and win Illinois. In any event, he should clean up on delegates downstate.

The local downticket elections are boring, at least on the Democratic side, though the Illinois Supreme Court (Cook County) has an interesting race and some Illinois Congressional primary races might be competitive.

There is an IL-17 race, but Cheri Bustos has the backing of the party heavyweights and should win easily.

March 17, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, IL-17, Illinois, politics, republican party, republicans | Leave a comment

End of the day ramblings: Romney, Charlatans, Santorum and Bacteria

Workout notes
Yesterday I ran 6 miles; 4 with Matt and then I had to retreat a bit; I finished 6 miles on the Rock Island Trail in 57:50. The last two miles were roughly in the 10 mpm range. That got me out of breath.

Today: weights and 2200 swimming; the swim was 500 of fist/free, 500 of back/free, 500 of drill/free (3g, then 5g), 5 x 100 (25 fly, 75 free) on the 2:10 (mostly 1:54-55, with last in 1:50), 200 in 3:36.

Weights: C1: pulley rotator cuff, Hammer Rows (12 x 180, 10 x 230, 7 x 250), curls (3 sets of 10 x 30 lb. dumbbell), pull downs (3 sets of 10 x 160)
C2: sit ups and bench: 10 x 135, 9 x 165, 4 x 175, 4 x 175
C3: sit ups and incline: 2 sets of 8 x 135
C4: sit ups, (get to 8 x 20), dumbbell rotator cuff, 4 x 10 pull ups
C5: dumbbell rotator cuff, 2 x 15 x 45 lb. military dumbbell, 10 x 35 exercise ball dumbbell military.

Trail notes from yesterday: a woman clad in shiny spandex tights (spray painted on) bent over to clean up after her dog; it looked like two black shiny sand dunes staring at me. Pity I didn’t have a camera.

Posts
Republicans: not especially enthusiastic about Mitt Romney.

Ann Coulter: refers to people like Sarah Palin as “charlatans”. Pot, meet Kettle.

Illinois: Santorum vs. Romney. Nate Silver has an excellent article about how Illinois is divided politically and socially. It is basically Chicago vs. “everything else”; the “everything else” may as well be a southern state….sort of. Overall, it isn’t as religious as the deep south.

Republicans: lying their asses off about the new CBO report; it is the old “apples to oranges” comparison.

Science Antibiotic bacteria are evolving rapidly; we may well have to re-fight all of the old anti-infection wars. That is: medicine may well be going backwards. There are many reasons for this.

March 17, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, economy, evolution, Illinois, Mitt Romney, politics, republican party, rick santorum, running, science, swimming, weight training | 1 Comment

Talk about being ENTITLED….

Unbelievable

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ken Griffin, a hedge fund billionaire who is one of the 400 richest people in America, argued that the ultrawealthy in this country don’t have enough influence over politics. Griffin went on to say that the ultrawealthy “have a duty” to step forward and save the U.S. from what he says is a drift toward Soviet-style state control of the economy:

Q. I’m going to come back to this. But I want to touch on two more areas first. What do you think in general about the influence of people with your means on the political process? You said shame on the politicians for listening to the CEOs. Do you think the ultrawealthy have an inordinate or inappropriate amount of influence on the political process?

A. I think they actually have an insufficient influence. Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet. And so I hope that other individuals who have really enjoyed growing up in a country that believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and economic freedom is part of the pursuit of happiness – (I hope they realize) they have a duty now to step up and protect that. Not for themselves, but for their kids and for their grandchildren and for the person down the street that they don’t even know …

At this moment in time, these values are under attack. This belief that a larger government is what creates prosperity, that a larger government is what creates good (is wrong). We’ve seen that experiment. The Soviet Union collapsed. China has run away from its state-controlled system over the last 20 years and has pulled more people up from poverty by doing so than we’ve ever seen in the history of humanity. Why the U.S. is drifting toward a direction that has been the failed of experiment of the last century, I don’t understand. I don’t understand.

Emphasis mine. This clown thinks that the rich don’t have ENOUGH influence.

Remember that this guy didn’t get rich finding a cure for cancer; he is a hedge fund manager.
I’d say “unbelievable” but given how entitled many of my former Naval Academy classmates feel…it is all too believable.

March 12, 2012 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, republican party, republicans | Leave a comment

Republicans and Latino voters..

Via NPR:

There’s a man in Phoenix with a political playbook that has become valuable. So valuable, the Obama campaign believes it could help clinch the president’s re-election.

Phoenix City Council Member Daniel Valenzuela is a fourth-generation Mexican-American. Last year, he won a seat on the Phoenix City Council in a traditionally Republican district, and he did it by increasing Latino voter turnout by 488 percent.

“I decided early on that this campaign would be a campaign for social behavioral change,” Valenzuela tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz. “To get people active, register to vote, realize the power of a vote and to get them to cast that vote.”

Latino voters continue to shape American politics, and this election season should see candidates on both sides courting the support of the fast-growing group. In Valenzuela’s case, he did it the old-fashioned way. He recruited a group of local university students who knocked on 72,000 doors.[...]

This past week, Fox News published a poll showing Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich winning just 14 percent of the Latino vote in an individual race against President Obama.

More than half of U.S. population growth today is being fueled by the Latino community. The reason this is so important to presidential politics is because of where that population growth is happening. In addition to Arizona, states that have often voted Republican like Florida, Virginia and Colorado, have all seen growth in their Latino populations. But demographer Ruy Teixeira with the Center for American Progress says that could soon swing the other way.

“If President Obama polls 75 percent of the minority vote, he can lose white voters by huge margins and still win the election, including white working class voters,” Teixeira says.

Teixeira says that if Obama can get the margin that he got in 2008 from Latino voters, he would get that 75 percent of the minority vote. While that that doesn’t exactly make Obama bulletproof, Teixeris says, it certainly gets him a long way toward being re-elected.

The long, competitive Republican primary is part of the reason more Latinos are turning away from the GOP, Teixeira says. He says Latino voters have taken notice of what’s been said at the GOP debates on issues important to them.

“They’re all against the Dream Act; they’re all against in-state tuition … believe me, people notice and especially Latino voters notice,” he says. “It just reinforces this image of the Republican Party as being unwelcoming to immigrants.”

The article goes on to say that President Bush got 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004.

But this was prior to the way that many of the Republicans have openly disrespected President Obama and called into question if he was a “Real American”.

I can’t speak for anyone else and I haven’t taken a poll. But I can say that every time I hear this BS about President Obama not being a “real American” I question whether the Republicans consider anyone who doesn’t look like them (mostly white) to be a “real American”. I wonder if their idea of “real America” is Mayberry.

When the Republicans accuse President Obama of apologizing for America, I wonder if they really want to get along with the rest of the world.

Anyway, I haven’t seen any sign that they want Latino votes. Perhaps other Latinos see it differently.

March 11, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, racism, republican party, republicans | Leave a comment

Shame, Oil Prices and Romney’s “multiple choice” on “choice”

No, this really isn’t snark when you think about it.
Of course I care what my friends, colleagues and students some students think of me and I care about what my wife and daughter think of me, and I care about what a tiny, tiny subset of the population thinks of me. But that’s about it.

Education
Accountability is a good thing, but it is NOT easy to achieve. From Bill Gates via the New York Times

I am a strong proponent of measuring teachers’ effectiveness, and my foundation works with many schools to help make sure that such evaluations improve the overall quality of teaching. But publicly ranking teachers by name will not help them get better at their jobs or improve student learning. On the contrary, it will make it a lot harder to implement teacher evaluation systems that work. [...]

Putting sophisticated personnel systems in place is going to take a serious commitment. Those who believe we can do it on the cheap — by doing things like making individual teachers’ performance reports public — are underestimating the level of resources needed to spur real improvement.

About those high gas prices
I find it a bit amusing that the Republicans are complaining about the gas prices…while doing a bunch of saber rattling about Iran. Of course, our current gas price spike is caused by a number of factors; the situation in Iran is one of them as is oil market speculation. This is a detailed summary.
What won’t reduce prices? The pipeline, for one. Yes, once it is up and running, it MIGHT reduce gas prices by a few pennies a gallon (ok, this would be important to some industries). But as far as what we are seeing at the pump? It is statistical noise, IN THE FUTURE, compared to other factors:

Ray Perryman, the economist hired by TransCanada to assess the economic benefits of the pipeline, told me that his analysis — the methodology of which has been questioned — points to an impact of “around 3.5-4 cents per gallon of gasoline at current prices” once the pipeline “was fully implemented and flowing reasonably close to capacity.” Moody’s economist Chris Lafakis estimates that when balancing out the different regional impacts, “the pipeline would lower US gas prices by 1.6 cents per gallon.”

For comparison, the U.S. average gasoline price has increased nearly 30 cents in the past two months. Perryman, a supporter of the pipeline, added: “I should also point out that a modest change of this nature will often be swamped by the day-to-day factors that impact market prices.”

Analysts say gas prices are currently rising due to expectations of global economic growth, concerns about Iranian threats to disrupt oil supply and an influx of speculators.

Upshot: if you think that the pipeline is a good idea, argue for it. But don’t make this “price at the pump” claim; that is bogus.

Willard “Mitt” Romney’s history on the abortion issue: yes, it is more nuanced that “he is a flip-flopper”.

However he isn’t helping himself when he attempts to tell his own story on this issue. Here is the start of the article, and it runs for seven pages. Upshot: it isn’t as simple as “flip-flop” or “I’ve changed my mind”.

To understand Mitt Romney, you have to understand the most difficult passage of his political life: how he changed his position on abortion. Not the story he tells about it, but the real story.

Romney began his political career as a pro-choicer. In the story he tells, he had an epiphany, a flash of insight, and committed himself thereafter to protecting life. But that isn’t what happened. The real story of Romney’s conversion—a series of tentative, equivocal, and confused shifts, accompanied by a constant rewriting of his past—paints a more accurate picture of who he is. Romney has complex views and a talent for framing them either way, depending on his audience. He values truth, so he makes sure there’s an element of it in everything he says. He can’t stand to break his promises, so he reinterprets them.

Parts of the story have been told before. But no one has put it together. And no one has assembled the many video and audio clips that bear witness to what happened. In this article, the first complete examination of Romney’s journey, you’ll see his transformation on camera. (You can also watch a video narration.)

When you see the story in its full context, three things become clear. First, this was no flip-flop. Romney is a man with many facets, groping his way through a series of fluid positions on an array of difficult issues. His journey isn’t complete. It never will be. Second, for Romney, abortion was never really a policy question. He didn’t want to change the law. What he wanted to change was his identity. And third, the malleability at Romney’s core is as much about his past as about his future. Again and again, he has struggled to make sense not just of what he should do, but of who he has been. The problem with Romney isn’t that he keeps changing his mind. The problem is that he keeps changing his story.

February 23, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, economy, education, Mitt Romney, Personal Issues, republican party, republicans | Leave a comment

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