How running has changed: a half marathon example

I chucked at this satire article from The Onion:

PORTLAND, OR—Making negligible movements with her arms and legs as she sluggishly made her way along the sidewalk, a woman gradually progressing down Madison Street Friday was barely even jogging, sources confirmed. “She’s definitely moving forward and kind of pumping her arms some, so it sort of looks like jogging, but, boy, it’s a real stretch to call whatever that is ‘jogging,’” said eyewitness Curtis Stoeller, 29, adding that the woman, outfitted in a colorful lycra top and athletic pants, expensive running shoes, and an armband holding an iPod, appeared to be making some kind of shuffling motion with her feet, but wasn’t exerting nearly enough effort to approximate anything close to a jog, let alone a run. “It took her a long time to kind of lope past me on the sidewalk. If I just picked up my pace a little and walked briskly, I could catch up to her really fast. Jeez, is there even a word for what she’s doing?” At press time, the shambling woman was squirting what appeared to be a vitamin-fortified water into her mouth as she brought two fingers to her neck to check her pulse.

And a “friend” reminded me that I took me 2:25 to complete my most recent half-marathon (yes, I was walking 100 percent of the time).

So I did the old: “did I tell you about my 1:34 that I ran in 1999?

(this guy teases me about being quick to remind others of this…and yes, it is nothing special but, well, I can barely hold that half marathon pace for a single mile these-a-days)

But this did get me to check out the data between that race and the most recent one:

1999: 222 finishers. Median time: 1:49:53 Last place: 2:22:10
2013: 245 finishers. Median time: 2:01:32 Last place: 3:11, 2 others over 3 hours

Wow…that is some difference!


1999: 20 people 50 years old or older, 52 women
2013: 42 people 50 years old or older, 122 women

Note: in 2013, the median male was 1:55, median female was 2:06

I am too lazy to drill down any further but it appears that two factors for the slower times are “more older runners” and “more women”.

That isn’t everything though, as my 1:34, which got me 30′th in 1999, would have gotten me 20′th in this weekend’s race.

This isn’t a complaint though; I love it that I can walk these and not worry about finishing the course in time.

Mitsubishi 1/2 Marathon
September 12, 1999

Place Name Age Sex Time
1 John Sillery 27 M 1:15:13
2 Randy Stearns 40 M 1:18:59
3 Steve Leake 36 M 1:18:59
4 Kevin Henderson 36 M 1:20:32
5 Kevin McGuire 39 M 1:24:40
6 Kevin Fahling 36 M 1:26:51
7 Kert McAfee 24 M 1:27:09
8 Drake Stockert 49 M 1:27:39
9 Dan Dellitt 26 M 1:28:07
10 Andrew Webb 35 M 1:28:21
11 Darrell Howard 42 M 1:29:09
12 Bruce Alvey 37 M 1:29:48
13 Helen Alexander 36 F 1:30:13
14 Kipp Trummel 32 M 1:30:20
15 Robert Lawrence 36 M 1:30:28
16 Brad Hibbert 36 M 1:30:53
17 Dean Bettis 37 M 1:30:58
18 Mark McIntosh 41 M 1:31:09
19 Jeff Byars 33 M 1:32:05
20 Mike Hilgendorf 47 M 1:32:21
21 Dale Conroy 29 M 1:33:19
22 Denny Erswell 46 M 1:33:27
23 Douglas Slaton 39 M 1:33:41
24 Jeff Kuenneth 34 M 1:33:49
25 Micheal Shekleton 48 M 1:33:56
26 Jerry Crump 56 M 1:33:57
27 Jeff Neltver 35 M 1:34:05
28 Jim Williamson 48 M 1:34:08
29 Greg Sutter 32 M 1:34:14
30 Ollie Nanyes 40 M 1:34:16
31 Deborah Wresinski 33 F 1:34:28
32 Ken Adams 39 M 1:34:44
33 Jack Yockey 35 M 1:34:47
34 Matt Daugherty 26 M 1:34:50
35 David Reynolds 35 M 1:34:54
36 Roger McVay 32 M 1:35:41
37 Chris McBride 21 M 1:36:02
38 Chad Pond 41 M 1:36:40
39 George Brown 39 M 1:36:49
40 Charlie Grotevant 57 M 1:37:11
41 Ricky McIntosh 39 M 1:37:53
42 Griffith Robert 39 M 1:38:01
43 Ron Gilmore 44 M 1:38:04
44 John Prior 48 M 1:38:07
45 Jeff Brougher 39 M 1:38:17
46 Dennis Killian 42 M 1:38:50
47 Jim Broadbear 36 M 1:38:55
48 Steve Giusti 35 M 1:38:57
49 Ralph Smith 42 M 1:38:59
50 Dave Kiesewetter 35 M 1:39:09
51 Terry Whitehead 42 M 1:39:22
52 David Chapps 31 M 1:39:33
53 Robert Hill 63 M 1:39:46
54 Kenric Bond 27 M 1:39:57
55 Mohammed Al-Marimi 38 M 1:40:05
56 Mike Krause 44 M 1:40:13
57 John Rosa 48 M 1:40:15
58 Randy Ehlers 51 M 1:40:28
59 Matt Beaver 29 M 1:40:44
60 Tony Greenlee 37 M 1:40:46
61 Phillip Slaton 49 M 1:41:10
62 Matt Heins 25 M 1:41:16
63 David Becher 25 M 1:41:17
64 Steve Mussey 40 M 1:41:17
65 Mark Wilkins 39 M 1:41:20
66 Craig Smith 43 M 1:41:36
67 Ron Schweinberg 42 M 1:41:47
68 Peter Davis 32 M 1:42:02
69 Jim Ginzkey 46 M 1:42:03
70 Bryan Barotes 45 M 1:42:16
71 Don Taylor 56 M 1:42:51
72 Robert Sphaz 49 M 1:42:53
73 Bruce Osran 49 M 1:43:16
74 Steve Snyder 45 M 1:43:31
75 Maverick Davis 28 M 1:43:45
76 Harry Walton 50 M 1:43:47
77 Kip Strasma 32 M 1:43:51
78 Eric Allen 27 M 1:43:51
79 Steve Foster 45 M 1:43:53
80 Darl Baumgardner 49 M 1:43:54
81 T. Brandt 33 F 1:44:10
82 Jeff Faulk 45 M 1:44:27
83 Yasuhio Ohashi 42 M 1:44:29
84 Pat Sheridian 39 M 1:45:19
85 Kevin Thornberg 40 M 1:45:24
86 Randy Vincent 44 M 1:45:37
87 Mike Trudeau 40 M 1:45:42
88 Micheal Helgeson 36 M 1:45:43
89 Drew Hartman 29 M 1:45:44
90 Steve Ufheil 32 M 1:45:56
91 Becky Roesner 29 F 1:46:04
92 Don Hutson 55 M 1:46:07
93 Michelle Aielts 26 F 1:46:41
94 Don Aielts 30 M 1:46:42
95 Brad Burns 34 M 1:46:49
96 Phil Mitchell 44 M 1:47:00
97 Glen Vetter 52 M 1:47:15
98 Gary Haase 52 M 1:47:19
99 Ron Kalley 42 M 1:47:39
100 Pat O’Bryan 45 F 1:47:40
101 Rob Orwig 50 M 1:48:07
102 Charles Cunningham 48 M 1:48:32
103 Mark Cross 29 M 1:48:46
104 Stan Huff 43 M 1:48:48
105 Robert Keller 52 M 1:49:05
106 Tamera White 37 F 1:49:20
107 Jill Henderson 33 F 1:49:23
108 Tony Donald 30 M 1:49:33
109 Mike Fromann 44 M 1:49:38
110 Mark Johnson 34 M 1:49:45
111 George Barger 39 M 1:49:53
112 Larry Koetter 43 M 1:49:54
113 David Rogers 41 M 1:50:09
114 Robert Wolf 57 M 1:50:14
115 Jennifer Jerulli 30 F 1:50:15
116 Melvin Witte 54 M 1:50:23
117 Joe Kniery 36 M 1:50:30
118 Steve Epperson 47 M 1:50:47
119 Beth Gosnell 34 F 1:50:48
120 Ron Love 55 M 1:51:18
121 Thomas Critchfield 41 M 1:51:29
122 Jeff Kennedy 27 M 1:51:32
123 Bill Brewer 40 M 1:51:42
124 Larry Jeffery 44 M 1:51:46
125 Bob Kreps 47 M 1:51:58
126 Jack Spaniol 40 M 1:51:59
127 Tom Shackley 37 M 1:52:08
128 Beth Leuck 29 F 1:52:09
129 Julie Oier 39 F 1:52:20
130 Louie Tieman 48 M 1:52:20
131 Phil Lovell 52 M 1:52:37
132 Lindsey O’Neil 20 F 1:52:51
133 Jim Wright 39 M 1:53:03
134 Mark Bayles 41 M 1:53:06
135 Mark Temple 36 M 1:53:39
136 Cheryl Jeffery 43 F 1:53:43
137 Doug Apple 39 M 1:53:56
138 Jim Clifton 37 M 1:54:06
139 Rob Sensabaugh 37 M 1:54:14
140 Carrie Young 38 F 1:54:20
141 Micheal Zeilman 42 M 1:54:22
142 Mark Rayburn 39 M 1:54:27
143 Carol Reeb 43 F 1:54:35
144 Carla Meeker 36 F 1:54:39
145 Bill Adelmon 28 M 1:54:46
146 Brenda Feit 39 F 1:54:47
147 Nancy Gilbert 37 F 1:55:11
148 Diana Krieg 37 F 1:55:18
149 Morgan Hartman 28 F 1:55:41
150 Gwen Talaski 25 F 1:56:18
151 Dale Arbour 52 M 1:56:19
152 Nathan Royce 23 M 1:56:20
153 Linda Jones 44 F 1:56:42
154 Sharon Davis 42 F 1:56:47
155 Emily Owens 21 F 1:57:23
156 Darrell Hartwel 57 M 1:57:28
157 Jim Willard 57 M 1:57:50
158 Sherry Hill 46 F 1:57:50
159 Gary Kombrink 34 M 1:58:02
160 Jeanne Kleen 42 F 1:58:08
161 Julie Burns 34 F 1:58:42
162 Cynthia O’Connor 44 F 1:58:42
163 James Robinson 47 M 1:58:46
164 Tracey Albert 29 F 1:58:48
165 Jeff Kleen 44 M 1:58:54
166 Lori Lamarra 36 F 1:58:55
167 Bill Wolfsberger 36 M 1:59:31
168 Greg Yount 47 M 1:59:36
169 Jim Weltner 47 M 1:59:57
170 Leigh Sharp 29 M 2:00:19
171 Subie Kniery 37 F 2:00:40
172 David Phillips 50 M 2:00:53
173 Brenda Varney 35 F 2:00:53
174 Gordon Whitmar 48 M 2:00:53
175 Jana Oltman 43 F 2:00:58
176 Terry Bomke 46 M 2:01:15
177 Rich Hartwick 37 M 2:01:55
178 Steve Bellman 38 M 2:02:03
179 David Kutil 43 M 2:03:17
180 Sue Stelma 45 F 2:03:52
181 Rita Leone 38 F 2:03:53
182 Jana VanWoudenberg 30 F 2:03:55
183 Kaye Henderson 30 F 2:03:56
184 Jen Ullery 27 F 2:03:58
185 Amy Sackett 24 F 2:04:15
186 Dave Hurst 56 M 2:04:18
187 Liz Oldeen 46 F 2:04:38
188 Candi Hallam 47 F 2:04:40
189 Jim Jumer 44 M 2:05:13
190 Charles Umden Eynden 63 M 2:05:40
191 Laura Lelm 30 F 2:06:10
192 Joe Leone 38 M 2:06:22
193 Steve Struck 54 M 2:06:28
194 Jack Stone 47 M 2:06:30
195 Larry Blumenstock 32 M 2:06:32
196 Anthony Otsuka 49 M 2:06:59
197 Denise Goff 35 F 2:07:30
198 Brian Beam 30 M 2:08:02
199 Skip Ashcraft 50 M 2:08:04
200 Brian Ruter 28 M 2:08:14
201 Diana Brandt 31 F 2:08:41
202 Barb Copenhaver 43 F 2:08:43
203 L. Dorn 31 F 2:08:47
204 Heidi Sarnecki 30 F 2:08:51
205 Cecelia McGarvey 42 F 2:10:00
206 Jill Keller 49 F 2:10:20
207 G. Boswell 28 F 2:10:25
208 Gigi Isaac 32 F 2:10:28
209 Dan Bedell 26 M 2:11:39
210 Gary Campbell 58 M 2:11:44
211 Donna Eaton 49 F 2:11:47
212 Jim Pratt 46 M 2:12:39
213 John Lamarra 52 M 2:13:27
214 Jim Collins 44 M 2:13:52
215 Donna Klima 21 F 2:14:01
216 JT Haas 24 M 2:14:09
217 Steve Haas 46 M 2:14:12
218 L. Lobb 29 F 2:14:13
219 Margie Jumer 43 F 2:18:23
220 Tom O’Connor 56 M 2:21:16
221 Amy Leary 29 F 2:22:10
222 Mike Fiedler 35 M 2:22:10

April 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

12 step programs and human variation

I was alerted to this program on NPR:

Since its founding in the 1930s, Alcoholics Anonymous has become part of the fabric of American society. AA and the many 12-step groups it inspired have become the country’s go-to solution for addiction in all of its forms. These recovery programs are mandated by drug courts, prescribed by doctors and widely praised by reformed addicts.

Dr. Lance Dodes sees a big problem with that. The psychiatrist has spent more than 20 years studying and treating addiction. His latest book on the subject is The Sober Truth: Debunking The Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs And The Rehab Industry.

Dodes tells NPR’s Arun Rath that 12-step recovery simply doesn’t work, despite anecdotes about success.

“We hear from the people who do well; we don’t hear from the people who don’t do well,” he says.

Dr. Dodes goes on to say that AA’s success rate (best data available) is about 5-10 percent. Yes, that sounds terrible. But more on that later.

He then mentions that he thinks that AA harms the 90 percent that it doesn’t work for. I suppose I’ll need to read the book to see the evidence for that harm; hopefully that isn’t anecdotal as well.

No, I have not read the book but I am interested enough to read it (this summer?)

What this brought to mind:
If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that I lift weights, run and swim.

In lifting: I remember reading Terry Todd’s book Inside Powerlifing. He described some of the workout routines of the top power lifters; more than once he said something to the effect: “this hard routine works for X but others who have tried this have gone stale or gotten injured”.

In swimming: I once saw a college swimming meet and I watched a women’s 1650 event. Two women were way ahead of everyone else. One had a very high turn over rate and took a lot of strokes per length (20?); the other took roughly half as many. Both were creaming the rest of the field.

Or, you can remember the old Olympic distance swimming finals: some of the top 1500 meter swimmers (male) had the long strokes; some of the top 800 meter swimmers had very high turnovers (think: Brooke Bennett; 3 Olympic gold medals!).

In distance running: I read Bill Rodger’s book Lifetime Running Plan and remembered this: he didn’t want to give specific training programs because different runners could reach similar peaks with different methods. He noted that he mostly trained on the roads whereas Frank Shorter’s training was more track oriented.

Michael Sandrock’s book Running With the Legends described the different kind of training that different runners did. For example: two time Olympic medalist (Bronze and Gold) Rosa Mota never trained beyond 90 minutes; she felt that training longer encouraged too slow of a training pace. On the other hand, multiple big-time marathon winner Toshihiko Seko did OVERDISTANCE training for the marathon and …well…it is hard to argue with his success in the marathon.

My point There is a LOT of variation between humans. What works for one might not work for the other; things like “success rate” data really says little about how one program might work for a particular individual.

In sizing up the probability of success of a 12 step program: I would think that one has to be a bit more Bayesian in one’s reasoning. Is it not possible that one approach might offer a better possibility of success for a certain type of individual whereas another type of approach might be better suited for a different type of individual?

Of course, I think that there are serious issues with “mandatory AA” orders from judges and the like.

This book sounds interesting; I am eager to read it.

March 24, 2014 Posted by | health, social/political, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Mile improvement plan: getting a baseline

Two Saturdays ago (9 days) I timed myself for the mile: 1:58, 1:53, 1:49, 1:50 (3:52, 3:40) for 7:32

Today I tried again.

I woke up feeling stiff but decided to try anyway.

2 mile warm up on the treadmill (start at 5.3 mph, 0.5 elevation and sped up by .1 mph every 2 minutes then .1 mph every minute;) got to mile 2 in 20:30. I was very warm and sweaty.

Mile time trial (ONLY one on the track, period.) 1:57, 1:51, 1:47, 1:47 (3:48/3:35) for 7:23.

One mile walk, slow.

3 miles on the treadmill (0.5 elevation), speeding up every 2 minutes and finishing 3 miles in 30:02.

Then 3 mile walk outside (Bradley park; too nice outside not to).

Total: 6 miles of running (50:32 for 5 on the treadmill, 7:23 mile on the track) and 4 of walking.

I don’t know why but after a reasonably hard effort in running, I cough. When I go really hard, my teeth hurt. I rarely can reach that intensity when running solo.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | running, Uncategorized, walking | | Leave a comment

On knowing what you are talking about….

First: this is how some discussions about religion appear to me. Comments to the effect of “I don’t see how it could be otherwise” are not convincing.


When people talk about raising the retirement age, remember that there is a big spread in “years lived after 65″ between wealthier white collar workers and poorer blue collar ones.

See here:

I was pleased to see this article by Annie Lowrey documenting the growing disparity in life expectancy between the haves and the have-nots. It’s kind of frustrating, however, that this is apparently coming as news not just to many readers but to many policymakers and pundits. Many of us have been trying for years to get this point across — to point out that when people call for raising the Social Security and Medicare ages, they’re basically saying that janitors must keep working because corporate lawyers are living longer. Yet it never seems to sink in.

Maybe this article will change that. But my guess is that in a week or two we will once again hear a supposed wise man saying that we need to raise the retirement age to 67 because of higher life expectancy, unaware that (a) life expectancy hasn’t risen much for half of workers (b) we’ve already raised the retirement age to 67.

Ms. Lowrey’s article is here.

Here is one of my pet peeves: all too often, a non-specialist will attempt to claim that the mainstream view/theory in a different profession is wrong because it doesn’t make sense to them. Here Larry Moran takes on a chemistry professor’s (at Rice University, no less) claim that evolutionary theory is flawed. Professor Moran concludes:

I suppose I’m going to be labeled as one of those evil “Darwinists” who won’t tolerate anyone who disagrees with me about evolution.1

I’m actually not. I just don’t like stupid people who think they are experts in evolution when they have never bothered to learn about it. Here’s my advice to graduate students in organic chemistry: if you want to know about evolution then take a course or read a textbook. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t understand a subject. Just don’t assume your own ignorance means that all the experts in the subject are wrong too.

It isn’t just “experts at a different field” though. Right now, we are hearing more and more from people who think that vaccines are bad and contain lots of harmful chemicals. One scientist had enough and made an epic drunken rant:


No, this is not a partisan issue; there are plenty of liberal anti-vaccination types out there, and they are a disgrace.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | creationism, economy, evolution, ranting, religion, science, social/political, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment



Maybe in 2-3 weeks the weather will get better.

It might snow a little tonight; I am planning on NOT running tomorrow’s race. Last year the course was not well measured nor was it run very well anyway.

You can see here why this weather is hanging around.

February 28, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Snow day….again…fake memes and the CBO ACA report.

Yep, my university canceled classes again…I found out when I made it to the gym..which was open. so I got in my usual 90 minute workout (60 with weights, 30 swimming).

It looked something like this:

rotator cuff (all but one pulley set), hip hikes, Achilles
pull ups: 5 sets of 10
incline press: 10 x 140, 5 x 150, 5 x 150 (weak)
abs: 3 sets of 10: twist, crunch, v. crunch, sit back
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 150
dumbbell super sets: 3 x 12 military with 50′s (seated, supported),
3 x 10 with 25 (upright now)
3 x 10 with 65 (bent over row)
2 x 10 with 30 curl, one machine 10 x 70 curl.

Then to the water (crowded; two young women too turns blowing me away:

300 free warm up
8 x 50 on the 1:10 (55 or so)
100 in 1:50
2 x 100 IM on 3 (about 2:30 each)
4 x 50 drill/swim (no fins)

Note: while this wasn’t HARD, it was, well, sort-of work. In my “swim all of the time” days, this would have been a bit of a warm up.

I was done and out of the shower by 7:36; plenty of time.

So, I am headed to the office anyway.

I’ll discuss a couple of issues
The more I think about it, the less difference I see between US conservatives and liberals, at least in terms of intellect and intellectual dishonesty.

Take this, for example:


Of course, this is a fake meme. But it is being passed around as if it is true because some liberals want to believe it. It is a lot like the “ha ha ha ha, Al Gore thinks that he invented the internet” BS that conservatives pass around)

(Rep. Bachmann isn’t very bright; for an honest demonstration of this: (she was referring to the Smoot-Hawley Act signed into law by President Hoover)

Now some issues are a bit nuanced: take for the example, the CBO report about the effect of the Affordable Care Act:

More than 2 million Americans who would otherwise rely on a job for health insurance will quit working, reduce their hours or stop looking for employment because of new health benefits available under the Affordable Care Act, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

The findings from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office revived a fierce debate about the impact President Obama’s signature health-care program will have on the U.S. economy. [...]

In its assessment of the law’s impact on the job market, the agency had bad news for both political parties. In an implicit rebuke of GOP talking points, the CBO said that there was little evidence the health-care law is affecting employment and that businesses are not expected to significantly reduce head count or hours as a result of the law.

But now you see the Republicans screaming: WE TOLD YOU THAT OBAMACARE WAS A JOB KILLER!!!!

Uh, no. It does mean that many who hold onto a job solely for its health care benefits might now leave.

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday Training….

Ok, it has been a few days since Friday’s blood donation.

15 minutes on the elliptical trainer
1 hour (just over 5.5 miles) of running on the treadmill (2 minutes 0, 2 minutes 1 )
5 minutes (to get to 6 miles) of running on another treadmill
15 minutes on the elliptical trainer

3 miles of walking outside (slow; I walked for 54 minutes and counted it as 3; there were a few slippery spots (isolated) due to melting snow. Pretty day, but some idiot had a couple of pit bulls off of the leash. I didn’t get near them.

After eating Indian buffet we watched the Bradley Women battle 12-2 (4-0) Wichita State to a 74-72 loss; not a win but much better than the 30+ point humiliation on Friday.

At halftime I walked a couple of stadium laps to keep the legs loose; the right quad it a bit sore.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | running, Uncategorized, walking | , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

Well, wind does the same thing.

Back to the main argument:

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

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


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

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


I can easily see this being convincing to some.

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

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

Part of it is tribalism in action.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student suspended for “casting a spell”? Uh..this appeared in 1998

I know that this is Oklahoma, but OMG:

An Oklahoma high school suspended a

15-year-old student after accusing her of casting a magic spell

that caused a teacher to become sick, lawyers for the student

said on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it had filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on behalf of student Brandi Blackbear, charging that the assistant principal of Union Intermediate High School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, suspended her for 15 days last December for supposedly casting a spell.

The suit also charged the Tulsa-area Union Public Schools with repeatedly violating Blackbear’s civil rights by seizing notebooks she used to write horror stories and barring her from drawing or wearing signs of the pagan religion Wicca.

“It’s hard for me to believe that in the year 2000 I am walking into court to defend my daughter against charges of witchcraft brought by her own school,” said Timothy Blackbear, Brandi’s father.

‘Outlandish Accusations’

Joann Bell, executive director of the ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter, said the “outlandish accusations” had made Blackbear’s life at school unbearable.

“I, for one, would like to see the so-called evidence this school has that a 15-year-old girl made a grown man sick by casting a magic spell,” Bell said.

Sounds outrageous, no? But look at the dates: some date back to 1998. This sounds a bit suspect to me. :-)


January 6, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

How to try on spandex workout gear

Great advice is given here. It is a pretty good demonstration too. :-)


Click on the small photo to see the big one at the website.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | big butts, spandex, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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