Rolla Spring Topology Conference: last day

Workout notes three mile walk in the morning, just ahead of incoming rain.

Mathematics notes Last day; I hope that I understand some of the talks. I had a good time learning stuff yesterday and shall look up some interesting stuff when I get a chance.

Here is something interesting I found when I was trying to look up the “pseduocircle” on google:

The pseudocircle is the topological space X consisting of four distinct points {a,b,c,d} with the following non-Hausdorff topology:


X is highly pathological from the viewpoint of general topology as it fails to satisfy any separation axiom besides T0. However from the viewpoint of algebraic topology X has the remarkable property that it is indistinguishable from the unit circle S1.

More precisely the map f:S^1\longrightarrow X given by

f(x,y)= a for x less than 0, f(x,y) = b for x greater than 0, f(0,1) = c, f(0, -1) = d

is a weak homotopy equivalence, that is f induces an isomorphism on all homotopy groups. It follows that f also induces an isomorphism on singular homology and cohomology and more generally an isomorphism on all extraordinary homology and cohomology theories (e.g. K-theory).

This can be proved using the following observation. Like S1, X is the union of two contractible open sets {a,b,c} and {a,b,d} whose intersection {a,b} is also the union of two contractible open sets {a} and {b}.

More generally McCord has shown that for any finite simplicial complex K, there is a finite topological space XK which has the same weak homotopy type as the geometric realization |K| of K. More precisely there is a functor
K\mapsto X_K from the category of finite simplicial complexes and simplicial maps and a natural weak homotopy equivalence |K|\longrightarrow X_K.

[edit] References

* Singular homology groups and homotopy groups of finite topological spaces, by Michael C. McCord, Duke Math. J., 33(1966), 465-474.

In other words, algebraic topology (at least the standard functors) can’t distinguish this funny little finite space from the circle.

That leads me to the last talk of yesterday: Paul Fabel (Ph. D. from UT-Austin and now at Mississippi State) talked about putting a metric of the fundamental group (or at least putting a topology on it) and seeing what one gets. It was a fun talk.

He went on to talk about the following kind of set: look at the unit arc and, say at every point of the sequence 1/n, attach a tall, thin ellipse in the x-y plane, so that the ellipses are mutually disjoint. At 0, attach a segment.

Next, consider the topologist’s sine curve placed horizontally, and a segment where one attaches loops that are getting thinner but converging to the sine curve.

pi one (fundamental group) by itself doesn’t distinguish these spaces from one another, (boht are an infinite direct sum of infinite cyclic groups) but when one puts a topological structure on pi-one, these spaces can be distinguished.

March 31, 2007 Posted by | injury, mathematics, walking | 2 Comments

Rolla Spring Topology Conference: Day Two.

Workout notes I started with 3100 yards in the pool, including 5 x 200 on the 3:30 (3:16, 14, 14, 15, 13). The water was somewhat warmer than I was used to. Then I did some yoga; it all felt good.

Afterward, some women asked me about our Prius (hybrid car); hmmm…the muscle car to pick up chicks with is a hybrid? 🙂

When I got up, the outter side of my left leg was stiff and tingly up and down the side; kind of along the IT band. My guess is that trauma from the bike crash is on the mend, but I let things get too stiff yesterday. Daily yoga is essential for me at this time.

Update Over lunch I went on a 3 mile plus walk (45 minutes) which included the sidewalk around the golf course and the 400 meter track on campus. I managed a pathetic 2:45 400 meter segment (11:00/mile) and that was picking up the pace! Afterward I had a few (expected) aches and tingles on the outer side of the left leg from the middle of the hip to the knee; the butt/piriformis area feels ok. It was a pretty day for it.

Mat took in a 5 mile run at that time.

Math conference notes

Talks ran late into the evening (typically, talks are over by 5 pm; this time they ran until 7). But the latter talks were worth it; Deneise Halverson (from BYU) gave a nice talk on the problem on the following kind of problem: given a finite set of n points, find an n+1’st point so that the sums of the distances from the n points to the n+1’s point is minimal. This had been done for the plane; she worked on this problem for surfaces of constant Gaussian curvature (reason: in terms of measuring distance ON THE SURFACE, one should be on a surface where the metric doesn’t vary much from location to location; example: if one tried to do this problem on the typical embedded torus in 3 space, the problem would be very difficult if, say, the points were near the saddle point or away from it. She solved this issue by using the flat torus (which embedds in 4-space).

Then Ales Vavpetic gave a talk on grope groups; that is, groups which are the fundamental groups of gropes. A “grope” is, very roughly speaking, a type of infinite construction using 2-surfaces. One might start with, say, a 3 holed torus. Then to the loops generating the first homology, attach another 3 punctured torus and do the same to the next round of 3 tori and so on.

Gropes were used in the work that Freedman did to win his Field’s medal (he used them to get rid of interesection homology of 4 manifolds to prove the topological 4-d Shoenfies conjecture, which says that every PL 3 sphere in 4 space bounds a topological 4-ball. It is unknown if those spheres bound a PL 4 ball.

Update I went to two talks in the morning. One is on continua (compact, connected sets). Some strange examples were discussed. On of the fun ones was this: consider a basic “middle thirds” Cantor set. draw horizontal line segments on the deleted “thirds” points, connect the segments by a segment in a way that alternates “up”, “down”.

Now shrink the joining segments to points; one now gets an infinite collection of arrowheads which alternate direction.

Now take these arrowheads and replace by pseudo arcs, and connect the ends of the original [0,1] segment to make a cirlce; one gets a “circle of pseudoarcs”.

Next, I went to a talk which was about metrization theory of “manifolds” (here, “manifold” means a Hausdorff space which is locally homeomorpic to R^n for some “n”; e. g. the long line would be one such).

There was an example of the product of a long line with the circle, and then of a wierd fiber buncle of the “long tube” over the long ray by some twisting map.

The idea was to show that being T6 (every discrete collection of closed sets can be expanded to a discrete collection of disjoint open sets) and a manifold doesn’t imply that the space is metric.

In this talk, different set theory axioms (continuum hypothesis, diamond) were used; assuming one axiom instead of another lead to different results.

On another note: I should be able to link to a video of some of the talks; if I can download it I’ll put it on my youtube account.

Update After lunch was brutal, given that I ate a small cheese pizza. Still, the talk about the application of dynamical systems to macroeconomics was interesting. They are interested in a utility function (how “good” some state is) that one gets from an inverse limit space (let xt = f(x(t+1) where f is not an invertible function; that is, obtain one point from a point in a future state).

It turns out that calculating the Riemann integral over such a space that oscillates so much is very hard, but using a measure and using Lesbegue integration makes the problem simplier!

Who would have thought? 🙂

March 30, 2007 Posted by | injury, mathematics, swimming, yoga | 1 Comment

Rolla: day one morning

I am in Rolla for a mathematics conference. I swam 3100 yards this morning; 1000 warm up, 10 x 100 on the 1:45 (last one was 1:40, others 36-39), 10 x 100 (fly/free/back/free) on 2.

There was one other swimmer who was slightly faster than I; that helped.

Update I understood very little of the first talk; was it point set topology or general? Ok, I know what “perfectly normal” is (seperation axiom T 3.5) and I figured out what was meant by the space [0,1] x {-,+} in the interval topology, but that was about it.

Note on this space: one can view this set with this topology in a couple of ways. If one looks at the unit square in the plane and then looks at the two segments {(x,0), x between 0 and 1 inclusive} and, {(x,1), x between zero and 1 inclusive} and declares a set to be open if there is an open set in [0,1] x [0,1] which intersects BOTH segments that produces this set, or equivalently, one can use a lexographic order topology with – being lower than + in the second coordinate.

The second talk (about hyperbolic group theory) was a bit more understandable.

Lunch update I went to John Milnor’s talk on the Mandelbrot set (this is the set of points in the complex plane that do NOT go to infinity under the map f(z) = z^2 + c for some “c”. He pointed out that there is a sequence of regions (if you go to the reference, check out the almost disklike regions) that converge to a set; it is unknown if these things converge to a unique point.

Image from the site “The Area of the Mandelbrot set” (recommended)

John Milnor won the Field’s Medal in 1962 (mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize) and is frequently mentioned in the book A Beautiful Mind.

We ate Chinese food for lunch (“we” being Denise and Mat; two of my math friends) and I’ll have to make time to walk a bit in the evening.

Update Lunch was too heavy; I am sleepy. None of these talks are really in my area (topology of 3-manifolds, especially knot theory) though at least the dynamical systems talks have nice photos and one can get the gist of what is going on.

In a nutshell: dynamical systems is the study of sets of points that arise from taking certain kinds of maps from one space to itself and iterating the map over and over again. The last talk dealt with taking equivalence classes of “types” of sets that can be obtained in such a manner (say, closed loops), looking at “sequences” of such sets (finite, possibly) and putting a topology on such sequences in a way that helps one understand those sets themselves.

These sets are subsets of the so-called Julia sets, which are, roughly speaking, the sets of points that don’t exhibit stable behavior under repeated map iteration.

The Fatou set is the complement of the Julia set. (these are the “stable” types of points)

March 29, 2007 Posted by | mathematics, swimming, travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Media Lemmings swallow Drudge Report nonsense

Workout notes I am going to try to walk after I finish this post. My left side is a bit tingly due to the stationary bike workout yesterday. Walking seems to be easier on this bursa injury than cycling. I also got in 4000 yards of swimming, including 10 x 75 free, 25 back on the 2 (two test 100s were 1:31 (rep 5) and 1:32 (rep 10).) Then 1000 yards of mixing up strokes (including 6 x 50 fly with fins) and then 1000 of (100 free, 100 pull, 100 fins) (17:47).

We were warned by Kos about this (from Salon):

The new online political magazine, The Politico, is a pernicious new presence in our media landscape. As I noted the other day, it really is nothing more than the Drudge Report dressed up with the trappings of mainstream media credibility. Today, Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News writes on his blog about what is merely the latest episode (of many) proving how closely coordinated The Politico is with The Drudge Report. It is not hyperbole to say that the former is all but an arm of the latter.

Last night, The Politico’s Mike Allen published a petty, trite hit piece on Barack Obama — entitled Rookie Mistakes Plague Obama — claiming that Obama “has also shown a tendency toward seemingly minor contradictions and rhetorical slips” and referencing “imprecise or incomplete statements by Obama over the years.” As Bunch noticed, Allen’s story was “highlighted on the Drudge Report no later than 18 minutes after it was filed by Allen (how does he do it!).” […]

Given the last two weeks filled with humiliating errors and journalistically reckless behavior, The Politico, as Bunch notes, is the last newspaper which ought to be accusing others of “Rookie Mistakes.” They are the very embodiment of such behavior (although their journalistic recklessness seems more calculated than negligent — a feature rather than a bug, to invoke a cliche). And this latest article, designed to begin smearing Obama’s integrity and character, is nothing more than the standard RNC/Beltway-media joint tactic which we have seen so many times before. As Allen himself notes:

“The Republican National Committee, working in league with Bush operatives, exploited similar blunders — sometimes misleadingly — to portray the last two Democratic presidential nominees, Al Gore and John F. Kerry, as inconsistent or hypocritical in ways that savaged both men’s reputations.”

So the RNC successfully manipulated the press in two consecutive national elections to disseminate misleading depictions of the flawed characters of Al Gore and John Kerry, by exploiting petty and inconsequential incidents (often using inaccurate accounts) in order to generalize them into broad-based character indictments. And what is the lesson Allen has learned from that? To be first out of the gate to do the same thing to Barack Obama.

Already, look what is happening. The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen, one of the most predictable and easily manipulated “liberal” pundits in the country, has already dutifully scampered for the bait, pronouncing today: “This tendency to manipulate facts may bear watching in Obama. (After all, we hardly know him.)” So Cohen, even while praising Obama, starts infecting the public discourse with the type of slippery, odorous innuendo about his character which lingers and can never really be disproven. With almost a full year before the first primary vote, Obama has already, in essence, claimed to have invented the Internet, to be the source of inspiration for Love Story, and to have been in Cambodia during Christmas.

Fortunately, Media Matters is hitting back:

In an article appearing in The Politico’s March 27 print edition, Politico chief political correspondent Mike Allen wrote that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has “shown a tendency toward seemingly minor contradictions and rhetorical slips,” characterized Obama’s alleged inconsistencies as “trivial,” and wrote that “the senator’s rhetorical miscues have been more curiosities than obvious political blunders.” Nonetheless, Allen stretched these alleged “trivial” inconsistencies into a 1,200-word article headlined, “Rookie Mistakes Plague Obama,” which appeared on the front page of the print edition. The Drudge Report flagged the article by posting its headline verbatim approximately one hour before The Politico posted the article on its website on the evening of March 26, according to Google News. Additionally, one of the so-called “curiosities” that Allen purported to expose were “strange echoes” of 2003 campaign speeches by former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) in Obama’s current campaign speeches. However, these “strange echoes” appear to be little more than oft-used rhetorical devices that are not unique to any presidential candidate.

In the article, Allen conceded that the “rookie mistakes” he highlighted were in fact “trivial” and “small”.

There are other Obama hit pieces out there as well; fortunately we aren’t going to let them get away with it this time:

Summary: A March 27 Associated Press article falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama has “delivered no policy speeches” while campaigning “and provided few details about how he would lead the country.” In fact, the Chicago Tribune described a March 2 address by Obama as a “major policy speech on U.S.-Israel policy,” and numerous news outlets have reported on Obama’s policy proposals on the campaign trail.

Here is an example:

Obama detailed his proposal for ending the war in Iraq:

That is why I advocate a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq to begin no later than May first with the goal of removing all combat forces from Iraq by March 2008. In a civil war where no military solution exists, this redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve the political settlement between its warring factions that can slow the bloodshed and promote stability.

My plan also allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain and prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for international terrorism and reduce the risk of all-out chaos. In addition, we will redeploy our troops to other locations in the region, reassuring our allies that we will stay engaged in the Middle East. And my plan includes a robust regional diplomatic strategy that includes talking to Syria and Iran — something this Administration has finally embraced.

Friggin liars.

On another note: I am about to leave for Rolla for a math conference. That might mean doing without a real swimming pool for 3 days! Arghh!!!

But I have my walking shoes and yoga mat.

March 28, 2007 Posted by | injury, obama, politics/social, swimming | Leave a comment

Back into it, our candidates, right wing fear, funny yoga

Workout Notes I started with 2100 yards in the pool; 5 x 100 fist (slow!) then 20 x 50 on the :50 (made them all, 49s, 48s then a few 47s), 100 back, 500 pull (8:18). The 20 x 50 set surprised me as I was only getting 4:09-4:10 250’s even leaving on the 5:00 the day before! Attitude makes a difference, I think.

Then after yoga with Ms. Vickie, I walked 2.3 miles with her (my knees barked at me, especially my right one; must be the thundershowers in the region as weather related knee pain is real) and then did 30 minutes on the stationary bike (hard).

Right Wing hate and fear. I’ve noticed that the right wingers repeatedly use fear to inspire their following, despite their claiming to be the postive party of ideas. Check out the following from a NewsMax e-mail message:

Defend Yourself Against Al Gore
From: “”
To: “”

Dear NewsMax Reader:

It’s true. Al Gore is out prowling again — claiming that global warming will destroy civilization as we know it.

His movie “An Inconvenient Truth” will be airing nationally for the first time this Sunday night on Showtime. Please make sure you arm yourself with NewsMax’s special report on Gore’s “Convenient Lie.”

Defend Yourself???? From what? Is he going to make you hug a tree? Do you see the spin? Al Gore, who holds no public office, is presenting a case, and NewsMax think that you need to defend youself? Why does anyone cosider this to be at attack of any sort????

Speaking of Al Gore and global warming, check out Media Matters and their rebuttal of typical wingnut arguments. Here is a sample:

1. No scientific consensus that humans are the primary cause of global warming

Media figures, including MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, have claimed that “[t]here’s no consensus” on “why” the “world is getting warmer.” As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) share the consensus view that, as stated in a June 2006 NAS report, “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming” of the planet. An IPCC report released in February found:

Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-produced] greenhouse gas concentrations. This is an advance since the TAR’s [Third Assessment Report] conclusion that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns. [The report defines “very likely” as a greater than 90 percent probability of occurrence.]

Additionally, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, media figures frequently claim that there is insufficient evidence that humans are contributing to global warming. On the July 29, 2006, edition of Fox News’ The Beltway Boys, Weekly Standard executive editor and co-host Fred Barnes denied that humans are a cause of global warming. After co-host Morton M. Kondracke stated that “[g]lobal warming is a fact,” Barnes replied, “Yeah, but who caused it? You don’t know.” When Kondracke replied, “Humans,” Barnes retorted: “No. You don’t know that.”

3. “Rank-and-file” scientists disagree with Gore

In support of his thesis that “[c]riticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists,” The New York Times’ Broad cited numerous scientists who — far from being “rank-and-file” scientists with “no political ax to grind” — are well-known global warming skeptics who have made statements questioning global warming that have either been debunked or discredited by the scientific community. Though Broad failed to say so in his article, the scientist he named specifically as his example of a “rank-and-file” scientist who has criticized the film — Don J. Easterbrook — has taken a position on global warming that puts him outside of the scientific mainstream and at odds with the IPCC.

Further, while Broad purported to represent the views of mainstream scientists on the accuracy of the film, in May 2006, at the time of the theatrical release of An Inconvenient Truth, the Times published an article by Andrew C. Revkin reporting that mainstream scientists, while taking issue with some details in the film, embraced its premise and subscribed to Gore’s “main point”:

In interviews and e-mail exchanges, many climate specialists who have seen the film quibbled about details but tended to agree with Eric Steig, a University of Washington geochemist who posted his reactions at the Web log after a recent Seattle screening: ”The small errors don’t detract from Gore’s main point, which is that we in the United States have the technological and institutional ability to have a significant impact on the future trajectory of climate change.”

A June 2006 Associated Press article reported a similar consensus among scientists.

7. Global warming has come and gone

* Most of the global warming in the past 100 years occurred before 1940: During a panel discussion of global warming on a May 2006 edition of Fox News’ The Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Rob Pollock falsely claimed that “most” of the global warming that has occurred “over the past century … happened before 1940.” In fact, according to an analysis of “global-mean surface temperature[s]” last revised in January 2006 by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, “It is no longer correct to say that ‘most global warming occurred before 1940’ “:

Global warming is now 0.6°C in the past three decades and 0.8°C in the past century. It is no longer correct to say that “most global warming occurred before 1940”. More specifically, there was slow global warming, with large fluctuations, over the century up to 1975 and subsequent rapid warming of almost 0.2°C per decade.

* Global warming “stopped in 1998”: Fox News host Brit Hume and a Washington Times editorial both cited a misleading statistic to suggest that global warming might have “stopped in 1998” because of a “negligible decrease in temperature” since that year. While 1998 was the hottest year on record, according to the Climatic Research Unit, an examination of temperature data since 1998 undermines the assertion that global warming “stopped” in that year. For example, neither mentioned the fact that five different years since 1998 (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005) have seen warmer temperatures than any year preceding 1998, according to Climatic Research Unit figures. Nor did they explain that 2005 was the second-warmest year on record, according to the Climatic Research Unit, and the hottest year on record when analysis of warming in the Arctic is taken into account, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Next, we have more fear mongering from NewsMax. We see that if Hillary Clinton gets elected, Bill Clinton will run the world!

Mon, 26 Mar 2007 18:37:06 GMT
From: “”
To: “”
Subject: Hillary Clinton: Bill Will Run the World

Breaking from

Hillary Clinton: Bill Will Run the World

If Hillary Clinton gets elected president, her “first man” may just be running the world.

Hillary gave a clear hint last week at the prospect, comments that confirm a report in R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.’s new book “The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President’s Life After the White House” that Clinton has been mulling becoming Secretary-General of the United Nations. [

Tyrrell writes that in 2001, Clinton’s “political prospects were nil.” Still, agents assigned to his Secret Service detail would later report that Clinton was talking about getting the job as Secretary-General of the United Nations.”

Critics scoffed at the idea. But don’t laugh too long.

At a fund-raiser last week, Hillary discussed her husband’s role in a Hillary administration. She suggested it would be “illegal” to name her husband secretary of state if she becomes president, as some have asked her to do.

Instead, she said, she “can make him ambassador to the world, because we have a lot of work to do to get our country back in the standing it should be.”

Perhaps Hillary would like to see her husband running the world body — the U.N. — as she runs the country.

Running the world? How? By conducting an ill advised preemtive invasion of another country? Oh wait, that is THE PRESENT administration.

Speaking of Hillary Clinton: she continues to lead the Democratic field.

Election Polls 2008: Democratic Presidential Primary Contenders
Date Clinton Obama Edwards
3/26 37% 25% 17%
3/19 35% 30% 11%
3/12 38% 26% 15%
3/05 34% 26% 15%
2/26 37% 26% 13%
2/19 28% 24% 11%
2/12 28% 23% 13%
2/05 34% 18% 10%
1/29 33% 19% 10%

Note that the margin of error is 4 percentage points; it was likely that last week’s poll was an outlier for Obama and that Edwards had a recent uptick (or possibly an outlier?)

Interestingly enough:

A separate survey found that 30% of all voters say they would definitely vote for Clinton if she is on the 2008 Presidential ballot. However, 46% would definitely vote against her. That 46% definitely vote against figure is higher than every other candidate except former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. (More Below)

The real question is: is that 46% from the committed Repblicans? Men?

Speaking of Edwards, there is a nice diary by Chuckles 1 at the Daily Kos about Edwards’ voting record in the Senate. He is no “jonnie come lately” toward being interested in the well being of “regular people”.

Other stuff of interest:

Redstate Update on Edwards staying in the race (and this is funny, if uncomfortable)

Richardson on foreign policy and Iraq

Obama in Las Vegas with the Culinary Workers Association


A funny yoga post about what I’d call Marine Corps Bootcamp Yoga, complete with action figures.

A snippet:

Duke: “Okay, ladies, jump your feet wide apart!”

G. I. Joes: “Sir! Yes, sir!”

Duke: “Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and bend your knee at a right angle! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?”

G. I. Joes: “SIR! YES, SIR!”

Duke: “G*ddamn right I do! Now stretch those right arms down and plant your right hand on the floor on the outside of your right foot! Then stretch your left arm up over your ear, toward the wall, with your palm facing down! Look up toward your extended palm! THAT’S AN ORDER!”

G. I. Joes: “SIR! YES, SIR!”

Duke: “Kamakura, what the holy bleeding f*ck are you doing?”

Kamakura: “Sir! I am attempting to do the pose, sir!”

Duke: “We are not putting on a g*ddamn Broadway show here, Kamakura. This is not A Chorus Line.”

Kamakura: “Sir! I find I am able to lunge quite deeply but my torso lacks the articulation needed to fold over my bent knee, Sir!”

Duke: “Kamakura, the point of these two poses is to create a line of energy running from your grounded back foot all the way up through your spine and shooting out your fingertips. Like a spear, a warrior’s spear, son! That’s why your pretty little nancy ass is here, because you’re a warrior! Or am I mistaken? Are you or are you not a warrior!”

Kamakura: “Sir! I am a warrior, sir!”

Duke: “Then, Mother of God, start acting like one. Look at Storm Shadow there in front of you, he’s got a nice modification going with his elbow resting on his knee and his left arm stretching up. Try that.”

Kamakura: “Sir! Om shanti, sir!”

March 27, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, injury, obama, politics/social, swimming, yoga | 1 Comment

Back to the grind; weekend of YogaFit training

Workout notes Bad swim. 5 x 100 first (1:40’s), 10 x (25 drill, 25 swim). Started to do a 1000 time trial, but was laboring at 4:10 for the first 250. So this became 4:10, 4:10, 4:09, 4:09. Then 100 back, then 10 x 100 on the 2. I tried to do the first couple on a 1:45 but was already at 1:41 two reps into it, so I went to a 2 minute interval and kept it 1:37-1:39.

Then 100 back, then 5 x (50 fly, 50 back) on the 2 (fins), 300 pull.

I was dragging and had no energy at all, which surprised me a bit given I didn’t swim this weekend. I wonder if it was due to my eating less, or because I am coming down with something. I just feel tired and wiped out.

Yoga Notes I didn’t work out this weekend due to YogaFit training; in particular I took the level one class.

As I understand it, Yogafit takes classical yoga and attempts to adopt it for a “fitness” type of enviroment (e. g., for folks who just want to get stretched out or to get a bit fitter). It really isn’t yoga-studio type yoga (no chanting, etc.), though some of the other levels (5) offer the body-mind connection stuff.

The positives:

  • I enjoyed the two days
  • I enjoyed meeting the people
  • The “master classes” were ok (advanced beginner, mixed level), though they weren’t as difficult as what I am used to or what I do on my own.
  • I got some good feedback on my asanas so my own practice will improve
  • I liked their moonflowers/sunflower series; I’ll do that in my own practice.
  • The negatives

  • I wish that there had been more males there (15 of the 17 were female)
  • There wasn’t enough emphasis on doing the poses well. As a student, I like for my teachers to set a good example and be good at yoga themselves.
  • The philosophy just isn’t me. I do yoga to challenge my body and my mind, so there is going to be some element of “competition” there. Of course, I don’t want to “cheat” so I can “do” a pose. Now, in fairness, the instructor did give some examples of how to avoid this in boat and in straddle forward fold. Still, if I can improve, I want to be told how I can improve.
  • As far as what went on: there was an introduction of the participants, discussion of the yoga fit philosophy, (“name the ways yogafit is unique”…3 mountains, etc.), a breakdown of some of the poses, followed by the first master class.

    Then came a break, more poses (demonstration), second gentle class, breakdowns again.

    The next day saw another presentation, intermediate class, and three or four team teaching sessions.

    What I came away with: I tend to hunch my shoulders, bend forward at the waist on some of the squats, and I tend to ignore instructions on breathing and on transitions.

    Also, I go to yoga classes for different reasons than many other people.

    For more opinions on YogaFit, check out this discussion message boards or this one. Some of the criticism is fair, some of it is unfairly harsh.

    Other discussions here, here and here.

    March 26, 2007 Posted by | swimming, yoga | 1 Comment

Video Sunday III

(comedy central skewers Bush, and taunts congress)

(Obama in Oakland)

(John Edwards, Culinary workers wages)

(Big Dog)

Speaking of the Big Dog (Bill Clinton), many of us are saying “sorry sir, we love you but“…) in response to his plea for us to not hold Hillary’s war resolution vote against her.

In response to a question from one of the supporters on the phone about explaining Hillary Clinton’s Iraq vote to undecided voters, the former president jumped in front of former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, saying, “Let me answer this.”

He said he had re-read the Iraq resolution last week, and that his wife had voted only for “coercive inspections.” Clinton justified his wife’s refusal to apologize for her vote by explaining that she was acting out of concern that future presidents might need similar language authorizing “coercive inspections to avoid conflict.”

“It’s just not fair to say that people who voted for the resolution wanted war,” Clinton said.

The former president also quoted an interview with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) in this month’s GQ magazine, explaining that Hagel’s justification for his vote on the war is very similar to Hillary Clinton’s. “All these people who criticize Hillary all the time all love Hagel for being a critic of the war,” Clinton said.

The anti-war left continues to be a thorn in the side of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, protesting at most of her events. Most recently, a protester from the Code Pink group interrupted her $2.7 million fundraiser in Washington Tuesday night before being removed by security.

The former president’s phone call made it clear that the Clinton campaign is working furiously to overcome what it understands is a serious vulnerability. His re-reading of the 2002 Iraq war resolution and his use of a clipping from a glossy magazine make it plain that he did not want to miss a trick.

The difference between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) war position has moved front and center as the two, or at least their representatives, have scuffled in recent days over Obama’s perceived status as the anti-war candidate.

A couple of extra comments: whereas I agree that “giving the President the authority to shoot, if necessary was not an agreement to allow him to shoot ourselves in the foot”, those who voted for the resolution either

  • Had to know that Bush would go to war or
  • Lacked the judgement to know that Bush would go to war

Which is worse?

Notice that John Edwards has not been bogged down by this. Why?

John Edwards repeated yesterday that he believes he was wrong to help give President Bush the authority to wage war on Iraq.

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, is the only one of the 2008 Democratic contenders who voted for the Iraq war in 2003 who won’t get a chance to vote for any of the anti-war resolutions coming before Congress soon.

He began drawing attention to his vote in fall 2005, writing an op-ed piece in the Washington Post that began with, “I was wrong.”

“It wasn’t just the weapons of mass destruction I was wrong about,” he said yesterday on NBC’s Meet The Press. “It’s become absolutely clear – and I’m very critical of myself for this – become absolutely clear, looking back, that I should not have given the president this authority.”

I WAS WRONG! President Clinton, we don’t want another 4-8 years of “the decider”.

March 25, 2007 Posted by | edwards, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social | 1 Comment

Friday Night Boxing, Yoga training and other topics

Workout notes None; I was at yoga training from 8:30 to 5:45 today. More on that at the end.

Politics The House passed the Iraq funding bill with 218 votes, or by the narrowest of possible margins. Some Democrats just couldn’t vote for another dime for this war; I understand why. I wish they wouldn’t let the “perfect” be the enemy of the “good”, but that is way that it goes.

Two Republicans voted for it: my hat is off to them.

Realistically, this was a flawed bill and I didn’t like the pork that was put in as bribes. And it doesn’t stand a chance in the Senate; they need 60 to end debate and 67 to override a veto.

But the outcome wasn’t that bad, as Major Danby at the Kos points out:

I am swelling with pride in my Democratic Party right now.

Bless John Lewis and Barbara Lee and Diane Watson and Maxine Waters for voting against this bill. Bless Pete Stark for his wacky vote of “present.”

That’s right. I favored the bill. But bless them. We need them. We need them to be saying, out in public, that this bill is not right, it’s not enough.

And bless Baron Hill and Kirstin Gillibrand and Heath Shuler and Jason Altmire for voting for it, even at some potential political cost. We needed them and they came through.

And bless Carol Shea-Porter and John Conyers and Louise Slaughter and Ciro Rodriguez for voting for a bill about which they must have had the same misgivings that many of us share. We needed them.

And maybe even bless Jim Marshall and Jim Matheson and Gene Taylor for voting no if that’s really what they had to do to keep their seats — on the condition that if we had needed their vote, we would have had it.

And bless Nancy Pelosi and George Miller and David Obey and John Murtha for making it all happen. They cannot be thanked enough.

We needed them all. […]

This is huge. The Democratic Party is trying to bring a halt to the war. We may not succeed — although we might. A lot rides on the post-vote PR battle that the U.S. Petulant inaugurated with his press conference soon after the roll call — a sure sign that he sees the significance of what has been done. We can affect that outcome.

But for a moment now, I just want to ask you to join me, no matter what your feelings about this bill, in some incredible pride.

The end of the war is now thinkable.

For you, for me, it’s always been thinkable. But not to the public. It’s been a diffuse aspiration, but not a realistic expectation. Now, to the public, it is thinkable. The world has changed. Even the apolitical will see it.

Bush’s press conference was designed specifically to squash any such hope. He wants us to believe that the continuation of the war is inevitable. But it’s not. The end of the war is thinkable. The House of Representatives joined together, left and center and right, and voted for a deadline to end the war.

I’m glad that there were only 218 votes for it. That sends a message as well, and it is not a message of weakness.

It’s a message of revulsion. We who supported the bill are as revulsed as any of its opponents at giving over another $100 mbillion to this man for this insane ass-covering enterprise. We wanted to be able to pass this — as the only means we have to impose this deadline — without being able to endorse continuation of the war at all. 218 votes sends that message. It’s the perfect number. And Waters and Watson and Lewis and Lee and Stark — they play a critical role here. They are the reminders to the public of the Democrats’ revulsion and reluctance. Their votes matter too.

We have rough days ahead. The Senate vote may be tough — we may see a filibuster — and we’ll have to hold tough and point out that these provisions are reasonable and fair, and that if Bush wants his money he will damn well have to accept them. Those provisions are the difference between his proposal and ours. They should be the focus of any future debate. God knows that we can defend them.

Tempers will flare, interests will clash, in the battle ahead. When you hang around DKos, it’s easy not to see how much of the country is neither red nor blue, but a sort of a pallid gray. But we got through to them today. We did it as a united party in which many members, on the right and left of the caucus, sacrificed for the common goal of breaking Bush’s veneer of invulnerability. […]

Representative John Murtha weighs in; it takes 9 minutes to listen to:

This is a 9 minutes well spent!

It was another good evening for ESPN’s Friday night fights. Fightnews has an excellent photo report. I’ll put my two cents worth here:

In the opening television bout, welterweight Said Ouali (21-2, 13 KOs) knocked out Irving Garcia (14-3-1, 7 KOs) in the second round. I actually gave Garcia the first round as he appeared to be the busier fighter, though Ouali’s shots were a bit harder. But in the second round Ouali took complete control and knocked Garcia down with a combination and then battered him at will.

In the second fight, Junior welterweight Ray Robinson (2-0) badly outpointed a game but raw Daniel Sostre (2-2) in a 4 round bout. My scorecard had Robinson winning 40-35, as did the judges scorecard. Robinson scored well from the outside and knocked Sostre down in the 4’th; at the end Sostre worked hard to end the fight on his feet and made it.

The main event was something special. As Fightnews reports:

For seven full rounds on Friday night at the sold-out Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Delvin Rodriguez dominated Jesse Feliciano in their USBA Welterweight Title clash.

I almost agree with that; I (and Terry Atlas) had Feliciano winning round 5; he hurt Rodriguez during the middle of the round. And though Rodriguez won rounds 6 and 7, it was closer than the first 4 rounds and Feliciano applied constant pressure and punished Rodriguez with both head and body shots. I gave Rodriguez the round as he made Feliciano pay for the pressure he was applying. But in round 8, as Fightnews reports:

There were, however, two major problems facing Rodriguez to start the eighth round; Feliciano was still upright, and he was still coming forward.

Battered and thoroughly beaten for more than the first half of the scheduled 12-rounder, Feliciano, granite-like chin and all, was not at all discouraged. In fact, the incredibly durable Las Vegas native was becoming somewhat optimistic about the outcome. “I knew he was in trouble,” Feliciano later claimed. “He fell down three times, and I hadn’t even hit him with anything. I knew his legs were going.”

Though Feliciano was, on occasion, able to catch Rodriguez with some left hooks when he was backing out, for the most part he had had very little success until the eighth stanza. “I knew he was winning the fight. I was fighting him in his hometown, so there was no doubt he was winning. I knew I had to knock him out.”

And, that’s exactly what he did!

The damage was done by a hard right uppercut which stagered Rodriguez against the ropes. Feliciano then followed with 7 more unanwered punches to send the staggering Rodriguez to the canvas. Rodriguez gamely got up and elected to continue, but he was out on his feet.

The next two knockdowns were a matter of Feliciano landing a couple of solid punches each time; it was over.

Though Feliciano was losing at the time, his heart enabled him to continue to apply constant pressure and to nail Rodriguez during a “oh so brief” defensive lapse.

Yoga Training
I went through day one of YogaFit level I training in Chillicothe, Illinois. They gave us a nice manual and the teacher lead two classes, one “advanced beginner” class and one “beginner class”. In between we studied many of the level I poses in detail.

That part was worth it; the teacher made nice corrections. I tend to keep my shoulders too hunched up and too tight.

But there was some of it that bothered me. During the “demonstation of the poses by the students”, she pointed out that many of the poses “were safe and acceptable”.

I had to bite my tounge hard; if I saw a teacher look like that I’d roll up my mat and leave the class on the spot. I wouldn’t have been bothered had this been a class for beginning yoga students but I am bothered that this was supposed to be for teachers.

I hold the (outdated?) opinion that you ought to be good at something if you want to teach it.

The leader’s poses were ok; good enough to lead the session, I think. And some of the students were ok as well.

March 25, 2007 Posted by | boxing, politics/social, yoga | Leave a comment

From Around the Blogosphere

Workout notes I am taking yoga teacher training (YogaFit level 1) this weekend and so won’t be doing much physically. I took advantage of my last day off to sleep in and then get to the pool late; still I ended up with 5000 yards via 5 x 100 fist, 5 x 100 (alt fist/free), 10 x 100 on the 2 (1:34, 35, 35, 33, 33, 33, 32, 32, 33, 31), 5 x 100 (100 back, 100 side, back, side, back), 10 x (25 drill, 75 free) “almost” on the 2, 10 x (25 fly, 25 free) on 1 (fins), 500 pull (8:23), 10 x 50 on the 1 (strokes: 41-44, times 48-49, last one 50).

Overall, I was ok with it, and was surprised at how good I felt on the last set of 50s.

Two days ago I went to Lakeview Museum to see the 3-d painting collection. The images are regular paintings, but the look 3-dimensional. The best one was the painting of a saltine cracker in a zip-loc plastic bag; you wanted to touch it to see if it was real! (of course I didn’t)

The above is not a photo; it is a 2 dimensional painting.

As impressive as those paintings were, I was even more impressed with Austine Wood Comarow’s work. Here art pieces change colors and imaged when you look at them through polarized lenses; they are called polages. I highly recommend going to her site and checking out her brief videos; you can see her working on her projects and how these works of art appear to change when you see them through a rotating polarized lens. Here is a video of her explaining how it all works.

Stuff from other blogs

Submarine accident
Dus 7 has an interesting article about a recent submarine accident which killed two U. K. sailors. The submarine was involved in a training exercise with a United States submarine when the accident happened (onboard explosion). This demonstrates that military exercises are hazardous affairs, even during peacetime (peactime for the submarine navy, at least).

Barack Obama
Barack Obama’s pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago was interviewed for over two hours by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright was disgusted by what he saw in print from the interview:

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography” of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met.

For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.

I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed. […]

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.

I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Hat tip to Skepticalbrotha for printing this. And reporters wonder why they are not trusted?

Success and Attitude: seeing success as the consequence of both effort and ability

You know that a blog post is good when it makes me want to go and read a book. Such is the one from thesituationist. There is a good post about Carol Dweck’s research on the pyschology of success; in other words, why do two different people of the same abilities often attain very different levels of success?

Some snippets:

Attribution theory, concerned with people’s judgments about the causes of events and behavior, already was an active area of psychological research. But the focus at the time was on how we make attributions, explains Stanford psychology professor Lee Ross, who coined the term “fundamental attribution error” for our tendency to explain other people’s actions by their character traits, overlooking the power of circumstances. Dweck, he says, helped “shift the emphasis from attributional errors and biases to the consequences of attributions—why it matters what attributions people make.” Dweck had put attribution theory to practical use.

She continued to do so as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, collaborating with then-graduate student Carol Diener to have children “think out loud” as they faced problem-solving tasks, some too difficult for them. The big surprise: some of the children who put forth lots of effort didn’t make attributions at all. These children didn’t think they were failing. Diener puts it this way: “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else.’” During one unforgettable moment, one boy—something of a poster child for the mastery-oriented type—faced his first stumper by pulling up his chair, rubbing his hands together, smacking his lips and announcing, “I love a challenge.”

Such zest for challenge helped explain why other capable students thought they lacked ability just because they’d hit a setback. Common sense suggests that ability inspires self-confidence. And it does for a while—so long as the going is easy. But setbacks change everything. Dweck realized—and, with colleague Elaine Elliott soon demonstrated—that the difference lay in the kids’ goals. “The mastery-oriented children are really hell-bent on learning something,” Dweck says, and “learning goals” inspire a different chain of thoughts and behaviors than “performance goals.”

Students for whom performance is paramount want to look smart even if it means not learning a thing in the process. For them, each task is a challenge to their self-image, and each setback becomes a personal threat. So they pursue only activities at which they’re sure to shine—and avoid the sorts of experiences necessary to grow and flourish in any endeavor. Students with learning goals, on the other hand, take necessary risks and don’t worry about failure because each mistake becomes a chance to learn. Dweck’s insight launched a new field of educational psychology—achievement goal theory.

Emphasis mine. I’ve seen this time and time again when it comes to teaching.


But aren’t there plenty of people who believe in innate ability and in the notion that nothing comes without effort? Logically, the two ideas are compatible. But psychologically, explains Dweck, many people who believe in fixed intelligence also think you shouldn’t need hard work to do well. This belief isn’t entirely irrational, she says. A student who finishes a problem set in 10 minutes is indeed better at math than someone who takes four hours to solve the problems. And a soccer player who scores effortlessly probably is more talented than someone who’s always practicing. “The fallacy comes when people generalize it to the belief that effort on any task, even very hard ones, implies low ability,” Dweck says.

Oh my is this true in my experience. I remember busting my gut on a problem which I hoped to solve for my thesis; I ended up giving up and using other stuff. I thought that I was an idiot. Ok, I am. 🙂 But the problem that I worked on remains unsolved, 16 year later, and some top mathematicians have taken cracks at it! It was hard for me because it was hard!

This applies in athletics as well. I remember whining to myself during the dark hours of my best 24 hour race; I was wondering “why is this so hard for me?” Then something in my mind clicked in: “it is hard for you because it is hard! You’ve gone 78 mile a$$hole! What did you expect? For it to be easy?” I went on to get 101 miles in the 24 hour walk.

Barack Obama again

Some wonder about how consistent Barack Obama’s position on the Iraq war is. Judge for yourself:

Hillary Clinton

This is the famous Hillary Clinton 1984 youtube commercial. No big deal, that I can see. In fact, it is rather lame.

Easter is coming up…

And Redstate Update talks about global warming

March 23, 2007 Posted by | edwards, Friends, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, swimming, ultra, yoga | 1 Comment

A Cursed Level of Intelligence

Workout Note 2000 yards. 5 x 100 fist, 5 x (25 fly, free, back, free), 5 x (100 free, 100 pull). The latter set took me 17:14; the funny thing is that I looked at my watch after the 5’th 100 and saw 8:46 and my feeble brain interpreted it as 4:46 for 250; I thought “gosh, I am NOT going that slowly, am I?” 🙂

Afterwards, yoga with Ms. Vickie followed by a 2 mile run and 1 mile walk on the treadmill. Last night, I had some calf twitches but determined it was from the calf itself and not from higher up; I did walk a “quick” two miles yesterday evening.

Personal Rant I’ve frequnetly talked about the film Amadeus and my struggles to come to grips with my personal mediocrity. I’ve since come to realize that it isn’t my mediocrity that bothers me so much; it is that I am aware of it! 🙂

One of my funniest memories is of my walking into the bookstore at the University of Texas (then the Co-op) back in 1985. I was a “b” student as a math major at Annapolis (1977-1981) and figured that, since I have had elementary courses in algebra, analysis and topology, (I made “A’s” in those) well, I was hot stuff. So I swaggered to the math section and looked at the titles.

I barely understood the titles of a quarter of the books there! The rest of them were things like “Lie Groups and Algebras” (why would groups lie to you? 😉 ), Representation Theory, Homological Algebra (I kind of remembered what a homomorphism was), “differential topology” (what does topology have to do with that little “dx” at the end of an integral? 🙂 ).

Opening up the books only made things worse. I’d open a book on “functional analysis” and see things like

\int f
and think “don’t you get taken off for not putting on the “dx”? A book on differential geometry would have:

\int_{\partial \Omega }\omega =\int_{\Omega }d\omega

and I’d just scratch my head. Latter I’d see:

\int \sum f_{i}dx^{1}\wedge dx^{2}...\wedge dx^{n}

and ask “what are those little wedgies? And why are they rasing a variable to a power and then taking the differential?”

Six years and a ton of hard work and heartache later, I had my Ph. D., and had the pleasure of understanding, say, half of the titles of those books!

But I’d almost have a longing for the pre graduate student days; I’d moan “I used to be “good” at math!”

It has been many years later and I’ve come to realize that, in many ways, I am at the most cursed level of intelligence possible. Why do I say that? Well, if I were a bit dumber I wouldn’t be able to recognize that I really wasn’t very smart.

Everyone is incompetent, in one way or another. Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger supplied scientific evidence that incompetence is bliss, at least for the incompetent person.

Dunning and Kruger wanted to explore human incompetence. They staged a series of experiments at Cornell University. Beforehand, they made some predictions, most notably that:

1 Incompetent people dramatically overestimate their ability; and

2 Incompetent people are not good at recognising incompetence – their own or anyone else’s.

In one experiment, Dunning and Kruger asked 65 test subjects to rate the funniness of certain jokes. They then compared each test subject’s ratings with ratings done by eight professional comedians. Some people had a very poor sense of what others find funny – but most of those same individuals believed themselves to be very good at it, rather like the character David Brent in The Office.

Another experiment involved logic questions from law school entrance exams. The logic questions produced much the same results as jokes. Those with poor reasoning skills tended to believe they were Bertrand Russell or Mr Spock.

Overall, the results showed that incompetence is even worse than it appears to be, and forms a sort of unholy trinity of cluelessness. The incompetent don’t perform up to speed; don’t recognise their lack of competence; and don’t even recognise the competence of other people.

David Dunning explained why he took up this kind of research: “I am interested in why people tend to have overly favourable and objectively indefensible views of their own abilities, talents and moral character. For example, a full 94% of college professors state that they do ‘above average’ work, although it is statistically impossible for virtually everybody to be above average.”

Dunning and Kruger are themselves college professors (though at the time they did the experiment, Kruger was still Dunning’s student). When they published their report, the concluding words showed a degree of modesty: “To the extent this article is imperfect, it is not a sin we have committed knowingly.”

You know I sometimes envy such people. I remember overhearing conversation of some of the old faculty members at my (nondescript) university discussing issues over lunch. They actually came to the conclusion that our educational experience (in technical areas) was just as good as the one students get at MIT!!!!

Another one of our old fogies was commenting on how he felt that mathematicians from a certain Big Ten school “were condesending” toward our faculty members when it came to research. Let’s see: some of the best in the world who do cutting edge research on a full-time basis don’t see folks to do tangential resarch while teaching 12 semester hours as research equals? Duh. Funny, but when I had interactions with those folks, I never had a problem. But I was careful to “keep my place” too.

Alas, my curse is that I fully appreciate where I fit in. 😦

And if I were a whole lot smarter, well, then I would be smart!

But instead I am just smart enough to realize that I am an idiot. 🙂

Let me be clear: this bit of self pity is totally irrational; after all, only a select few are gifted with 4-5 sigma ability; I am pretty much were everyone else is. I just wish that I was unable to see on the other side of the fence; if only a claim such as “well, if it weren’t for that ankle injury, I’d have been an NFL star” wouldn’t ring so false to me.

And of course, my vision also allows for me to see all of the terrible stuff I’ve been spared up to now, such as being horribly injured (as many of our Iraq veterans are), abused, starved, stricken with horrible incurable diseases, homelessness, and the like. Yes, I’ve had a blessed life, even if I am sickeningly mediocre.

(and I am blogging at the moment rather than studying, aren’t I? 🙂 )

end rant…


A sad note: Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards has had a relapse with her battle with cancer.

John Edwards said Thursday his wife’s cancer has returned, but said he will continue his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly,” Edwards told reporters, his wife by his side.

Edwards, 53, canceled a Tuesday evening house party in Iowa to go with his wife to a doctor’s appointment, which his campaign described as a follow-up to a routine test she had Monday.

Mrs. Edwards, 57, was first diagnosed with cancer in the final weeks of the 2004 campaign. The day after Democratic presidential nominee
John Kerry and Edwards, his running mate, conceded the election to George W. Bush, Edwards announced that his wife had invasive ductal cancer, the most common type of breast cancer, and would undergo treatment.

Mrs. Edwards underwent several months of radiation and chemotherapy for the lump in her breast. Her husband’s campaign has said she had recovered from the illness.

“I don’t look sickly, I don’t feel sickly. I am as ready as any person can be for that,” she said at the news conference.

John Edwards said a biopsy of her rib had showed that the cancer had returned.

The bone is one of the most common places where breast cancer spreads, and once it does so it is not considered curable.

But how long women survive depends on how widespread the cancer is in the bone, and many can survive for years. The longer it takes for cancer to spread after the initial tumor, the better the prognosis. She was diagnosed in 2004.

To honor Ms. Edwards, here is a strong social statement from her. And this statement especially applies to me at times…

I don’t consider this to be a partisan rant; this applies to many of us, myself included. And many of the “rank-and-file” Republicans and social conservatives do a better job in this area than I do. I’ll need to work on that.

Illinois: I found a good progressive Illinois political blog called PrairieStateBlue. Currently they have articles on Senator Durbin’s “fair elections” bill and about our local wingnut representative Ray LaHood.

Another one I check in on is Illinoize. The latest post is about a video which shows an off duty cop beating up a woman at a bar. Video. Yes, this is an issue and the cop ought to be brought up on assault charges. But what is curious to me is how the blogger approached it:

There was a time when progressives would have been out in the street the next day protesting this. […] I’m supposed to fear the Patriot Act instead?

So the wingnuts…sorry, this is the blogger that I retracted my “wingnut” label from..the social conservatives are now saying what we ought to be protesting? Uh, yeah, unchecked state and police power. Yep, we really don’t like that! But as far as the Patriot Act: it seems that the Patriot Act protests are about unchecked state and law enforcement power; see if the current trend continues, we won’t be able to raise a stink about ugly incidents like this. That is the point. But never mind…

Al Gore
Al Gore has been in the news lately, giving testimony about climate change. Not everyone is happy about this, especially one right wing nut job from Oklahoma: Senator James “the flat earther” Inhofe. Senator Inhofe is one of the major voices behind “global warming is a hoax“. Here is but one example, from the Scientific American blog:

Several days ago, Dave Biello wrote about Tom Brokaw’s Global Warming: What You Need to Know special on the Discovery Channel. I didn’t see the program and so remain agnostic about whether it did or didn’t convey the facts on this subject responsibly (perhaps I’ll see the rebroadcast on Saturday evening and find out). Dave noted that the show had inspired the preemptive bombast one comes to expect from the global warming deniers–specifically, from Senator James “Global Warming is a Hoax” Inhofe, one of the least credible voices on environmental and climatological science in Congress.

A press release from the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works (of which Inhofe is the majority chair) castigated Brokaw for employing James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of the leading scientific experts on the subject of global warming, as a scientific adviser on the show. What interested me most, for obvious reasons, was this passage:

Hansen also conceded in the March 2004 issue of Scientific American that the use of “extreme scenarios” to dramatize climate change “may have been appropriate at one time” to drive the public’s attention to the issue — a disturbing admission by a prominent scientist.

Inhofe’s press release is repeating a supposed “admission” that other global warming deniers have hooted about previously. What’s funny about it, though, as Dave noted in his post, is that those phrases don’t appear in Hansen’s printed version of his Scientific American article. They appeared in early very long drafts of the article that he wrote for us, one of which he published on the naturalSCIENCE web site. (We also featured one [pdf] on Scientific American’s server because Hansen wanted all the technical detail in support of his thesis to be available to our readers.) Since Dave pointed out this discrepancy, the EPW office has scurried to revise its press release, and now it attributes those remarks somewhat more accurately to “a 2003 issue of Natural Science.”

Two points about that:

First, the misattribution doesn’t really matter one way or the other, and given the long-form pdf available from SciAm, I wouldn’t even argue that it’s clearly wrong. What does matter is that Inhofe’s EPW press office was apparently content to attack Hansen’s integrity without bothering to verify whether and where the statements were really made. (It seems unlikely that the press office checked the facts first because if they had seen the version on SciAm’s server, why not seek clarification from us before correcting themselves?) Moreover, given that the press release refers to “a 2003 issue of Natural Science” when the site’s name is “naturalSCIENCE” and it isn’t published in issues, something makes me think that fact-checking still isn’t a top priority for Inhofe’s staff.


Second, those words are in Hansen’s article, but do they mean what Inhofe’s press release pretends they do? Read for yourself and see; they appear in the technical appendix under “Summary of opinion regarding scenarios.”

Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue, and energy sources such as “synfuels,” shale oil and tar sands were receiving strong consideration. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions. Scenarios that accurately fit recent and near-future observations have the best chance of bringing all of the important players into the discussion, and they also are what is needed for the purpose of providing policy-makers the most effective and efficient options to stop global warming.

If you look at the rest of the appendix, or indeed the whole rest of the article, you’ll see that Hansen isn’t saying that he ever distorted the climate science to make it scarier. Rather he thinks the scenarios developed by the IPCC are too pessimistic in some respects. He doesn’t claim that the IPCC scenarios are dishonest; he disagrees with their assumptions. Hansen isn’t “conceding” anything–he’s making a criticism.

And here’s where the irony gets rich. Most of what Hansen is criticizing in the IPCC scenarios is that he doesn’t think they give enough credit to humans’ willingness and capacity to start reducing their warming of the climate.

And Inhofe is not below resorting to “swift boat tatics” to attempt to smear scientists:

Senator Inhofe’s Pet Weasel

Here’s a follow-up to my previous post about the misleading press release from Senator James Inhofe and the Environment and Public Works Committee. While writing the post, I was tempted to use the term “swift-boating” to describe the release’s attempts to slime the reputation of climatologist James Hansen. I refrained, because why drag even more political baggage into the discussion unnecessarily?

Turns out that my impulse may have had more foundation than I’d realized. Darren Samuelsohn, writing for Greenwire, reports the following (added emphasis mine):

A 71-year old former insurance executive, Inhofe has never been shy about confronting climate scientists, environmentalists, Hollywood producers and fellow senators. But in setting his sights on the press, Inhofe appears to be incorporating a strategy hatched by the committee’s new communications director, Marc Morano.

As a reporter for the conservative Cybercast News Service from 2001 until earlier this year, Morano peppered his climate reporting with skeptics’ views that have surfaced as themes in Inhofe’s recent press attacks. Earlier this year, for example, Morano wrote about NASA scientist James Hansen’s contributions to the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.). Inhofe’s press release questions why Brokaw failed to mention the political ties of Hansen and other scientists interviewed for the Discovery report.


Morano, who worked as a producer in the mid-90s for radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, was also among the first reporters to write about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign scrutinizing Kerry’s Vietnam War record. And earlier this year, Morano penned an article questioning the Purple Heart medals of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a leading critic of Bush’s Iraq policy.

Kudos to Inhofe for hiring someone who knows how to conduct important political discourse with the highest respect for facts, honesty and integrity.

So, to you Senator goes a Blueollie “Moran” Award:

But because “elections have consequences”, as Senator Barbara Boxer reminded us, that idiot Ihofe is no longer the chair of the Enviorment and Public Works Committee. Though this clip is not as relevant to the Al Gore testimony clips, it is short and sweet and lifted my spirits:

Note: Inhofe went on and on with his so-called questions, and didn’t want to give Vice President Gore time to answer.

Personally I am inclined to give a “Moran” award to the people that elected Inhofe, but somone on a thread at Think Progress helped give a better picture:

And another thing. Us poor, stupid Okies are just melting ice caps and killing polar bears. Unfortunately for that idea, we are in the top 5 for wind power capacity.

Considering the size of the state and population, that’s not bad. Especially when you compare us to Texas or California. Also funny that the oil barrons and rednecks of Texas are in the top five for capacity, wind resources, and have the 2nd and 3rd largest wind farms.

And again, Oklahoma is 5th in number of hybrids and alternative energy crap for cars.

Ironic that we use about a quarter as many such vehicles as California, but have not even a tenth of the population. And we use more per capita, if that makes you feel any better.

I’m not saying we’re a green state by any stretch of the word. But on the other side, we’re not using a gallon of gas to light a tractor tire so we can use smoke signals to tell the power company that we need more juice.

Comment by Yog Shoggoth — March 21, 2007 @ 10:36 pm

Ok, point taken. And yes, I’d not like to be judged by the idiot that our district sends to Congress year after year.

Speaking of Al Gore, the Smirking Chimp has a nice article which outlines the false urban myths that the so called liberal media have helped to perpetrate.

In December 1999, for instance, the news media generated dozens of stories about Gore’s supposed claim that he discovered the Love Canal toxic waste dump. “I was the one that started it all,” he was quoted as saying. This “gaffe” then was used to recycle other situations in which Gore allegedly exaggerated his role or, as some writers put it, told “bold-faced lies.”

But behind these examples of Gore’s “lies” was some very sloppy journalism. The Love Canal flap started when The Washington Post and The New York Times misquoted Gore on a key point and cropped out the context of another sentence to give readers a false impression of what he meant.

The error was then exploited by national Republicans and amplified endlessly by the rest of the news media, even after the Post and Times grudgingly filed corrections.

Almost as remarkable, though, is how the two newspapers finally agreed to run corrections. They were effectively shamed into doing so by high school students in New Hampshire and by an Internet site called The Daily Howler, edited by a stand-up comic named Bob Somerby.
The Love Canal quote controversy began on Nov. 30, 1999, when Gore was speaking to a group of high school students in Concord, N.H. He was exhorting the students to reject cynicism and to recognize that individual citizens can effect important changes.

As an example, he cited a high school girl from Toone, Tenn., a town that had experienced problems with toxic waste. She brought the issue to the attention of Gore’s congressional office in the late 1970s.

“I called for a congressional investigation and a hearing,” Gore told the students. “I looked around the country for other sites like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. Had the first hearing on that issue, and Toone, Tennessee – that was the one that you didn’t hear of. But that was the one that started it all.”

After the hearings, Gore said, “we passed a major national law to clean up hazardous dump sites. And we had new efforts to stop the practices that ended up poisoning water around the country. We’ve still got work to do. But we made a huge difference. And it all happened because one high school student got involved.”

Clear Context

The context of Gore’s comment was clear. What sparked his interest in the toxic-waste issue was the situation in Toone – “that was the one that you didn’t hear of. But that was the one that started it all.”

After learning about the Toone situation, Gore looked for other examples and “found” a similar case at Love Canal. He was not claiming to have been the first one to discover Love Canal, which already had been evacuated. He simply needed other case studies for the hearings.

The media’s treatment of the Internet comment followed a similar course. Gore’s statement may have been poorly phrased, but its intent was clear: he was trying to say that he worked in Congress to help develop the modern Internet. Gore wasn’t claiming to have “invented” the Internet, which carried the notion of a hands-on computer engineer.

Gore’s actual comment, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that aired on March 9, 1999, was as follows: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

Republicans quickly went to work on Gore’s statement. In press releases, they noted that the precursor of the Internet, called ARPANET, existed in 1971, a half dozen years before Gore entered Congress. But ARPANET was a tiny networking of about 30 universities, a far cry from today’s “information superhighway,” a phrase widely credited to Gore.

As the media clamor arose about Gore’s supposed claim that he had invented the Internet, Gore’s spokesman Chris Lehane tried to explain. He noted that Gore “was the leader in Congress on the connections between data transmission and computing power, what we call information technology. And those efforts helped to create the Internet that we know today.” [AP, March 11, 1999]

There was no disputing Lehane’s description of Gore’s lead congressional role in developing today’s Internet. But the media was off and running.

Whatever imprecision may have existed in Gore’s original comment, it paled beside the distortions of what Gore clearly meant. While excoriating Gore’s phrasing as an exaggeration, the media engaged in its own exaggeration.
Yet, faced with the national media putting a hostile cast on his Internet statement – that he was willfully lying – Gore chose again to express his regret at his choice of words.

March 22, 2007 Posted by | edwards, mathematics, morons, Peoria/local, politics/social, running, swimming | 4 Comments