Da Bears (and other topics)

bears colts
Hat tip to Jimijam at the Daily Kos who alerted us to this fine photo by hndrsdnpce.

Workout: 3100 yards of swimming; mostly sets of 5 x 100 where I mixed various strokes with free, 500 in 8:28 at the end. Then I walked 2 miles in 26:08.

Injury wise, I’ve noticed that I’ve had more soreness toward the end of the week in the piriformis area, but of a different kind. Tingles are down quite a bit, but I’ve had more “point” soreness and times where I felt as if there was, bleeding? I am not sure; perhaps scar tissue is breaking up there as well. We’ll see; otherwise I might have to quit “faster” (sub 13 minute per mile) walking alltogether for a while.

Yoga: the site YogaDawg is very funny. This is the type of stuff you find there:

Establishment of Department of Yoga on Pelosi’s Agenda

Cal Bonair – January 6, 2007
For Yoga Quarterly

Buried deep within the Democrats 100-hour agenda is a plan to establish a U.S. Department of Om Land Yoga. With the trillion dollar Yoga economy, there are fears in financial markets that Yoga might soon begin being outsourced to India. Commenting on this issue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We feel that the establishment of a Department of Om Land Yoga will allow us to protect the economic interests of the country. In addition, we feel that this new Federal Department will create a more peaceful country, somewhat like Canada”. Pelosi and the Democrats say they have the votes to make this happen. “We intent to prevent Yoga from slipping back to India and causing a recession in this country while at the same time healing the wounds that the Republicans caused in the last six years by fostering the practice of Yoga for all our citizens”, she added.

When ask where she came up with the idea, Pelosi said that a small group of House and Senate Democrats began taking classes in a Yoga studio in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, DC. “We felt that a Yoga studio was the only place that we could do our strategic planning without the Republicans catching on to what we were up to. In the meantime, we all became hooked on Yoga”, Pelosi explained. Asked who attended these classes, she mentioned Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama among other Democrats in both houses. Expressing surprise that Ted Kennedy would be interested in Yoga, Pelosi replied, “Even though Ted looks like an overweight drunken slob, he has become quite an adept Yogi”. It is rumored that a Yoga studio has been established in the basement of Congress.

President Bush reacted to the news of this item in the Democrats agenda, by exclaiming, “Yoga?? I warned you about those psycho, whack job Democrats”. Dick Cheney, upon hearing the news, said, “Where’s my damn shotgun”. Donald Rumsfield remarked how he was glad to get out of that “nuthouse” called Washington and was looking forward to retirement in Iraq. […]

Give that place a read if you want a laugh; they have photos and other things as well.


Obama: Leonard Pitts wrote a good column about Barack Obama: yes, Obama is indeed black.

A pparently, it comes as quite a surprise to some people that Barack Obama is black.

I’m driven to this realization by the response to a recent column in which I referred to the senator as African American. Many people wrote to correct me on that. Among the most memorable was a guy who said: “I heard his dad was a radical Muslim from Africa and his mom was a white atheist from Kansas City. If that be the case wouldn’t he be half a black man and half a white man? If he’s a half breed, shouldn’t you do a correction?”

Then there’s the gentleman who wrote following Obama’s mild criticism of a recent comment by Sen. Joseph Biden to the effect that Obama was the first mainstream African-American presidential candidate “who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”


The e-mail writer saw Obama’s response — he called the comment ”historically inaccurate” — as a fatal misstep, sign of a philosophical alliance with the dreaded Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and it changed, he said, his view of Obama. ”Up to now,” he wrote, “I did not see him as an Afro American.”

Most folks were less . . . strident than these two, but the core concern was the same: Obama should not be identified as African American.

To which there is an easy answer: I call him African American because that’s what he calls himself.

There is, however, another answer that is not so easy.

If Obama asked to be identified as biracial, I would accommodate him because I believe that, within broad limits, people should be allowed to define themselves as they please. But with that said, I must confess I’ve always found that term rather meaningless insofar as the African-American experience goes.[…]

Read the whole thing; it is interesting. Bottom line: Mr. Pitts detects that some are still a bit uncomfortable with blackness, so using a term like “biracial” might help someone with their discomfort.

He has a point, I think.


Senator Russ Feingold made a nice argument that the Warner/Levin Resolution on the Iraq war (one that is supposed to oppose President Bush’s policy) is toothless and a big mistake:

When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took up the Biden-Hagel resolution opposing the President’s troop escalation proposal last week, I supported it as a first step toward ending our involvement in this war. That resolution didn’t go nearly far enough – it was nonbinding and just focused on the escalation – but putting the Senate on record against the “surge” was a small step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the new Warner-Levin resolution that many Democrats are pushing is flawed and unacceptable. It rejects the surge, but it also misunderstands the situation in Iraq and endorses the President’s underlying approach. It’s basically a back-door authorization of the President’s misguided policies, and passing it would be a big mistake. Under the guise of constructive criticism, the Warner-Levin resolution signs off on the President continuing indefinite military operations in Iraq that will not address the fundamental political challenges in Iraq, and that continue to distract us from developing a comprehensive and global approach to the threats that face our nation.

Here’s a link to the resolution so everyone knows what we’re talking about. I’m going to pass over the first finding, which salutes the President as “Commander in Chief.” And I’m not going to focus on finding (16), which salutes the muddled and wishy-washy report of the Iraq Study Group as “valuable.” Instead, I’m going to focus on section 22 of the findings, which is nothing short of an endorsement of the status quo in Iraq and that is simply unacceptable. It rejects exactly what is most needed in Iraq – an “immediate reduction in, or withdrawal of, the present level of forces.” If you vote for this resolution, you are voting against redeploying troops from Iraq. This resolution doesn’t fix the administration’s failed Iraq policy – it just takes us back to where we were before the escalation. It’s not enough to reject the “surge” if you aren’t willing to support a plan for redeploying our troops.

Go to the diary to read the rest; it is quite good. And yes, Senator Feingold has his own ideas as far as what to do.

Feingold’s legislation:

* Prohibits the use of funds for continued deployment of U.S. Armed Forces to the Republic of Iraq after six months of enactment. In other words, the President would have to redeploy troops safely by that date.
* Requires the Administration to report to Congress, within 60 days of enactment, a strategy for safely redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq within the six months prior to the fund termination date.

* Provides specific exceptions to the prohibition for:

o Conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations in Iraq.

o Allowing a limited number of U.S. forces to conduct specific training for Iraqi security services.

o Providing security for U.S. infrastructure and civilian personnel.

* Does not prohibit funds for any department or agency of the Government of the United States to carry out political, economic, or general reconstruction activities in Iraq.

* Does not prevent any U.S. troops from receiving salaries, equipment, training and other resources.

Director of National Intelligence Report on Iraq
There is diary about the NIE Iraq report on the Daily Kos. The report itself is available here.

McJoan informs us of some of the report’s contents:

Iraqi society’s growing polarization, the persistent weakness of the security forces and the state in general, and all sides’ ready recourse to violence are collectively driving an increase in communal and insurgent violence and political extremism. Unless efforts to reverse these conditions show measurable progress during the term of this Estimate, the coming 12 to 18 months, we assess that the overall security situation will continue to deteriorate at rates comparable to the latter part of 2006….

The challenges confronting Iraqis are daunting, and multiple factors are driving the current trajectory of the country’s security and political evolution….

The Intelligence Community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term “civil war” accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements….

A number of identifiable internal security and political triggering events, including sustained mass sectarian killings, assassination of major religious and political leaders, and a complete Sunni defection from the government have the potential to convulse severely Iraq’s security environment. Should these events take place, they could spark an abrupt increase in communal and insurgent violence and shift Iraq’s trajectory from gradual decline to rapid deterioration with grave humanitarian, political, and security consequences….

In short, is it even possible to “win” in Iraq, whatever that means?


In my statistics class, I went over the so called Monty Hall problem that was the subject of a great deal of debate many years ago when Marilyn vos Savant answered this question in Parade Magazine.

The question stems from this problem:

Suppose you play a game where there are 3 doors with something behind each door. One door hides a big prize, say, $100,000. The other two doors hide goats.

The doors are labeled A, B, and C.

Now you choose B.

Then the show host opens door C to reveal a goat. Should you stay with B, switch to A, or does it matter?

The answer is that you increase your odds by switching to A.


Here is what the formulas say:

the probability of the money being behind door B is, of course, 1/3.

What about the probability of the money being behind door A?

Well, remember you now know that C doesn’t have the money.
Remember P(A union C) = P(A) + P(C) because A and C are disjoint
So P(A) + P(C) = 2/3
But P(C) = 0

So now P(A) = 2/3
(note: P(A | not C) is 1/2, which I showed in class)

Now if this doesn’t make sense, think of it this way: your choice is really to stick with your choice (1/3), or take the complement of your set (2/3). Or put it this way. Play with 100 doors, and make one choice. Then you see 98 goats shown. Would you switch to the remaining one? I sure would!

Go to the link I provided to see a much more complete discussion of the problem.


February 2, 2007 Posted by | football, injury, politics/social, swimming, yoga | Leave a comment