Day trip

Workout notes this morning, 4 mile run, 4 walk. Part of the Hike and Bike is underwater due to flooding; though there wasn’t much rain here there was part of the trail that was submerged.

Yesterday: 3.2 super easy hiking miles in Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park. This park (plus Little Rock, Arkansas) is a nice overnight “get-away” from where I live. The park itself features some exhibits and some old Native American mounds. The Park’s photo tour is here. More information is available here and here.

This site dates from 600-1050 C. E. (A. D.) 18 mounds were constucted during that time; only a few remain. One is a burial mound; many were “trash” (compost?) type mounds.

Some of the mounds were built “outward” (newer layers on the “outside”); some were built upward (newer layers on top).

The mounds were constructed in a complex with a canal dug around it; the mounds were arranged in a way so that the sun would rise over prescribed “sight-lines” at prescribed times of the year. The tribe that settled the region was agricultural and therefore needed detailed information on nature’s cycles (rain, flood, dry periods, etc.)

The park offers a free guide pamphlet. What we know is that this park is part of the Plumb Bayou and is very, very fertile farmland.

Examination of the “trash” in some of the mounds indicates that the tribes that lived here traded with nearby tribes; snail shells of non indigenous species were uncovered; these snails are native to the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas and Missouri.

Dates at the site were determined by radiocarbon dating.

Some photos from the trip: (click for a photo album with larger versions)

June 30, 2007 Posted by | hiking, running, travel, walking | Leave a comment

Democratic Debate

Dang it, I just got in to see what is left of the debate. The governor of Massachussets (sp) is speaking. From seeing the discussion on the Kos, I’ve seen that I’ve missed something; perhaps I am seeing a replay and I’ll get to see it all (albeit delayed?)

Note: Mike Gravel got the loudest cheer.

About being tagged by On Evolution:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Ok, I’ll follow rule 2, 3, but I really don’t have 8 people to tag. I will list some of the blogs that I read.

Eight random facts/habits about myself: I’ll try to list facts that aren’t blindingly obvious from my blog (e. g., people know that I am a liberal Democrat, like endurace sports, football, etc.)

  • 1. I was born on Fukeoka, Japan, on Itazukie Air Force Base. My Dad served in the USAF for 23 years, including 13 months (in two deployments) in Vietnam. Because of my Dad moving around, I went to 10 different schools while growing up.
  • 2. In grade school, I spent many hours in the library, reading about planets. I loved astronomy. I made all sorts of charts of facts about planets.
  • 3. Once, when I was 4 years old, my mom told me to stay away from the ant bed because they would bite me (these were the old large red ants). So, I went and stood right on that pile because I wasn’t going to be pushed around by those ants! Of course, I got bit from head to toe, but to this day, I’ve been very resistant to ant bites.
  • 4. My favorite bands and music: Fleetwood Mac (1975 line up), Beatles, Melanie (Safka), Mozart (symphony 39, 41 (Jupiter)).
  • 5. At least once a week, I eat Indian food with my wife. My stomach suffers, but I still like it.
  • 6. TV night for me is usually Friday: Washington Week, NOW, Bill Moyer Journal, and yes, Friday Night Fights (boxing). I also like football (college, pro) and Law and Order (the first version)
  • 7. Fiction: I don’t read much fiction (other than political campaign ads), but I enjoyed the Ox Bow Incident, An American Tragedy and Jude the Obscure.
  • 8. Bad habit: when I get up from the table, I almost never remember to push the chair all the way back under the table. I leave drawers 90% closed instead of closing them the whole way. I have never been able to break myself of this bad habit.

Whom do I tag? Well, based on my usual number of hits, I read the work of more bloggers than the number of bloggers who read me. I subscribe to 48 blogs (though a few of these are not really personal), and also check out the boards, Daily Kos and regularly. Topics include science, politics, social issues, sports and endurance sports. Probably the blog with the most variety of topics is Dus7’s. Sandwalk is the most intellectually demanding blog. Liberalsmustdie is the funniest, and Dependable Renegade delivers the sharpest snark.

There is another blog to which I’ll never admit to reading, but, and I am ashamed to say this, when I read it I almost always roll on the floor in laughter.

Back to the Debate
Well, Gravel is going crazy. Why? Well, someone who has nothing to lose can just speak his mind; there are no lobbiests to pay off. He is getting huge applause.

Watch on…

June 29, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama | 1 Comment

Yet another quickie

Workout notes easy 3 mile run prior to yoga class, then 1 mile of walking with my teacher.


Here is a link to one of the blogs that I enjoy reading. Yes, the name of the blog is provocative, and I’ll just say that I have theist friends whose company I enjoy. I believe the way that I do becasue that is where my search for the truth lead me; that is what the facts tell me. But I am not going to lampoon others who have taken another path….unless they start trying to ram their ideas down the throats of others, or to use their beliefs to ruin things like science education.

And frankly, I don’t hang around people who do that! 😉

Still the blog is lots of fun, and I’ll send a hat tip for alerting us to this video:

Another blog, On Evolution, tagged me. I’ll play, but that will have to wait until later this evening or tomorrow morning.

June 28, 2007 Posted by | religion, running, science, walking, yoga | Leave a comment

Not much time today

Workout notes 3100 yards of swimming, including 1000 of warm up, 10 x 100 on the 2 (no flip turns, 1:40-1:44 each), 10 x 50 (fly/free with fins) on the 1, 500 pull (8:4x).

Then 4 miles on the treadmill (9:50 pace, “cross country I” program ) then 3 miles of walking outside.

I felt ok about my workout until I read about Doctor Andy’s sub 24 hour Western States 100 miler. 😉

Topics of the day

Barack Obama Endorsed (in the primary) by an Illinois Republican! In fact, this well respected Republican even made a campaign ad for him. To read more, go to JCCPA’s Prairie State Blue diary.

To see the ad, click here.

Speaking of Illinois Republicans, here is one who not just talks the talk, but walks the walk as well.

A lasting sense of duty moved State Rep. Jim Watson, a Jacksonville Republican, to reenlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.

He says he increasingly felt the need to do more as his former civil service unit based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., was called to its third tour of duty in the Middle East. “I don’t think we can sit back and let the same guys carry the water over and over and over,” he says.

Frankly, I know nothing about this guy’s politics, but I sure know something about his character.

Personal: someone’s take on a child forcing a plane down due to throwing a temper tantrum. The actual incident is detailed here; I like the author’s comment that this child’s behavior affected many people; not just the parents.

Recent Events Those who have read this blog are aware of the Leonard Pitts incident.

Well, today, our paper published two editorial columns.

First, Mr. Leonard Pitts: Here, he discusses the harassment incident. The whole column is worth a read. Here is my favorite part:

I grew up in the slums of L.A. and started college at 15. I won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 and have been married to the same woman for 26 years. I’m also kind to children and play a mean game of Scrabble. So I wonder: What do these people think they have accomplished in life that makes them my better? Do they really think it’s enough to have less melanin in their skin?

The Neo-Nutsies have been responsible for frustration and anger these last days. They’ve also been responsible for joy. Thanks to them, I’ve received a tidal wave of ”hang in there” and ”we care about you” and ”what can we do to help” from colleagues, readers, friends and strangers all over the country. People have volunteered to guard my front door. A self-described ”big ole white guy” I’ve interviewed a couple times called from Louisiana to say he had my back. Contributions have been made in my name to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Credit the Nutsies for that.

I feel a little like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. They say you can tell who a man is by looking at his friends. Which is true. But I believe you can also tell by looking at his enemies. Apparently, I have managed to make enemies of haters, bigots and other low, pathetic men.

I must be doing something right.

Now for Ms. Parker, who takes on the issue of hate crime: should be have hate crime legislation on the books at all? Do these laws do more harm than good?

First, some background facts: contrary to what some believe, African Americans HAVE been convicted of hate crimes against Whites. From the FBI (2004 data)

By Bias Motivation

In 2004, racial bias motivated more than half (53.9 percent) of the 9,021 reported offenses within single-bias hate crime incidents; religious bias accounted for 16.4 percent; bias regarding sexual orientation, 15.6 percent; ethnicity or national origin, 13.3 percent; and disability bias, 0.8 percent.

Law enforcement agencies reported 4,863 offenses within single-bias incidents that were motivated by the offender’s racial bias. Among those offenses, 67.5 percent resulted from an anti-black bias, and 20.5 percent were due to an anti-white bias. Slightly more than 5 percent (5.2) of racially motivated incidents were driven by an anti-Asian or Pacific Islander bias, 2.0 percent involved a bias against American Indian or Alaskan Native races, and 4.8 percent were directed at groups of individuals in which more than one race was represented (multiple races, group).

Of the 1,480 reported offenses within single-bias incidents that were motivated by the offender’s religious bias, 67.8 percent were anti-Jewish, 13.0 percent were anti-Islamic, 3.9 percent were anti-Catholic, 2.9 percent were anti-Protestant, and 0.5 percent were anti-Atheism or Agnosticism. Bias against other (unspecified) religions accounted for 9.5 percent of the hate crime offenses motivated by religious bias, and bias against groups of individuals of varying religions (anti-multiple religions, group) accounted for 2.5 percent.

Note that hatewatch groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center keep track of groups like the JDL and the Nation of Islam, as well as Nazi and KKK groups.

Here is an Illinois list (2004 data?)

City Chapter Group

· American Thule Society

· Council of Conservative Citizens
White Nationalist

· White Revolution
· Brotherhood of Klans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
· Brotherhood of Klans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
· Creativity Movement
· American Renaissance/New Century Foundation
White Nationalist

· Council of Conservative Citizens
White Nationalist

· Creativity Movement

· Ecclesiastical Council for the Restoration of Covenant Israel
Christian Identity

· Nation of Islam
Black Separatist

· National Alliance

· National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan

· National Socialist Movement – NSM

· New Black Panther Party
Black Separatist

· Save Our State
General Hate
East Peoria
· Creativity Movement
· Creativity Movement
Mount Morris
· Aryan Anarchist Skins
Racist Skinhead
· National Socialist Movement – NSM
Schiller Park
· National Socialist Movement – NSM
· Jewish Defense League
General Hate
· Brotherhood of Klans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan

Note: The East Peoria group is long defunct with their leader in prision. Our local neo-nazi group hasn’t made the list as yet.

Secondly, in the brutal Knoxville case (and it WAS an unspeakably brutal crime, and those who did it should be punished as severly as the law allows), the POLICE who investigated the crime chose to not pursue it as a hate crime. Remember that there are strict legal definitions as to what constitutes a hate crime, and the hate on the basis of XXX must be provable in a court of law.

Thirdly, what the accused was thinking at the time of the crime DOES matter. Example: suppose someone walks in to find their spouse having sex with someone else and ends up killing one or both of those caught in adultery. That case is diffrent from the case where, say, some thug mugs someone and kills them. Intent matters.

Now for Ms. Parker’s column

[…]The fallacy of hate crime laws — the prosecution of which requires a degree of mind-reading not yet available to most Earthlings — has been cast into stark relief the past few weeks following an interracial rape-murder that has bestirred white supremacists and led to death threats against an African-American columnist.

The spark that caused the firestorm was the brutal rape-murder of a young white couple, Channon Christian and Chris Newsom, who were carjacked last January in Knoxville, Tenn. Five blacks — four men and a woman — have been charged in connection with the slayings.

Because the story didn’t receive national media attention, some commentators and others have asserted that the media do not treat racial crimes equally. […]

Hate crimes are not defined only by motive, but by their effect on other members of the same group. The argument for hate crime laws is that crimes motivated by animus toward an individual because of race, sex, gender identity or disability victimize all members of that group by causing fear and intimidation.

Adding still more fuel to the media bias claim is a group of white supremacists on one side and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts on the other. Pitts drew fire when he pointed out that the Knoxville incident wasn’t considered a hate crime and refuted claims that black crime is underreported. He ended his column with four words for whites who feel oppressed: “Cry me a river.”

That’s pure columnist flare, but decidedly, um, gutsy considering the likely reaction from people who are not widely known for tolerance. A neo-Nazi group has posted Pitts’ address, phone number and his wife’s name on its Web site, Pitts has received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls, including several death threats that are being investigated by the FBI. Obviously, Overthrow’s editor and the 280 contributors to his American National Socialist Workers Party are the definition of a fringe group that doesn’t deserve so much attention. But the same also might be said about those who commit “hate crimes.”

In 2005, among about 7,000 hate crimes — mostly characterized by intimidation (48.9 percent) and simple assault (30.2 percent) — just six murders and three forcible rapes were reported as fitting the hate crime definition, according to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report. […]

Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League have insisted that hate crime laws are necessary because crimes that make minority communities fearful “damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities.”

The Duke and Knoxville cases cast serious doubts on that premise. It is human nature to resent groups and individuals deemed more special than others. Signaling through laws (or media treatment) that one group’s suffering is more grievous than another’s — or that one person’s murder is worse than another’s — is also likely to fragment communities, as well as to engender the very animosities such laws are meant to deter.

Emphasis mine.

Here is what she doesn’t appear to get, or want to get: hate crimes aren’t about one group’s suffering being more important than another. (remember, Blacks and Whites have been charged).

It is the damage done to society by these crimes. A couple of examples:

  • When thugs of one race makes it all but impossible for someone of another race to pass though a neighborhood, society suffers.
  • Hate groups try to intimidate people into keeping quiet or into voting in their own interest. Note that one hate group targeted journalists and recently a city council person in Louisville, KY.

And one final thought: suppose someone misread Ms. Parker’s column to say that she actually believed that Mr. Pitts actually brought this harassment on himself (and she did NOT say that).

What would happen to Ms. Parker? Would “we” (meaning: people like myself) post her personal address and phone number on a website? Would we make hate calls to her, or would we litter her neighborhood with flyers filled with vile lies?

No, we would not; Ms. Parker could say whatever she wanted to say and still live in peace.

I admit that liberals have had campaigns against certain columnists (Couter, Imus) but these have been “if you company buys ads in the media that carries his/her columns, we’ll boycott that compnany”, and even these economic boycott threats have been denounced by other liberals!

I needed to edit this post a bit because I forgot to state where I stand: this might sound a bit strange but I tend toward being against hate crimes laws. Why? Well, one can see that they aren’t used all that much. Don’t get me wrong: there are laws against slander, laws against intimidation, laws against making threats and laws against inciting others to do criminal acts. These are already on the books.

And remember the 2000 Presidential debates (Bush vs. Gore). I am not a fan of President Bush, as anyone who has read this blog knows. But, there was question about then Governor Bush not supporting a hate crimes law in light of an ugly incident in his state where some white guys drug a black guy behind a pickup truck to his death.

Bush responsed something to the effect (bad paraphrase from memory): “you know what happened to the man who did that? He was executed; what more do you want?”

You know, he was right, that time.

June 27, 2007 Posted by | obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, swimming | Leave a comment

research day

Workout notes it figures that I skipped swimming on a day when the pool was virtually empty (grumble). But I had a nice 4 mile run on the ‘mill, yoga class, and then a 6 mile walk afterwards. Lovely, but humid day; I saw a cool groundhog (woodchuck) near the river.

I won’t be saying much today as I am hot on a math article; we’ll see if something comes out of it.


Professor Moran at sandwalk has a nice post about the issues involving evolution research. The questions being debated involve the following issues: how big of a role does natural selction play? How about mutation; obviously some mutation is necessary, but it is really as straight forward as a rare beneficial mutation being propogated by natural selection? Also what about genetic drift? (e. g., two similar species becoming seperated by some geological event, and then gradually “growing apart” on genetic terms until the resulting groups are far enough apart that they can’t even mate.)

Anyway, go to that article and read what the experts have to say.

Justice Department: Civil Rights Divison.

Blackprof slams the goings on at the Department of Justice.

Humor: background to this strip: Frazz is a triathlete who has been arm-twisted into coaching a little league team. The problem is that the league’s play-offs are the same weekend as his goal triathlon.

So, well, those of you who played little league baseball under and “old-school” coach will appreciate this. 😉

Not so Funny:

Bile from Ann Coulter

Why any mainstream paper continues to carry her is amazing.

But the Edwards campaign is handling it well; they are using this for a fundraising opportunity. Good job, Ms. Coulter. Now do us all a favor and attack Obama too; every little bit of money helps!

UPDATE Ask and you shall recieve:

On the June 25 edition of Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes, discussing Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) June 23 speech at a church in Hartford, Connecticut, co-host Alan Colmes asked right-wing pundit Ann Coulter if “[o]nly Republicans can talk in churches.” Coulter responded: “No, but I do think anyone named B. Hussein Obama should avoid using ‘hijack’ and ‘religion’ in the same sentence.” Colmes replied: “I see. So, in other words, you want to paint him as a terrorist by continuing to highlight that his middle name is Hussein?” Coulter stated: “Just avoid those two together. … Avoid ‘hijack and ‘religion.’ “

The site has a video.

Thanks Ms. Coulter! 😉 (come on Senator Obama, get that fundraising page up! 😉 )

June 26, 2007 Posted by | edwards, obama, running, science, walking, yoga | Leave a comment

Welcome WMBD viewers

For those who want more about the story you saw on TV, I’ve prepared a link page here.

If you haven’t seen the TV newscast, go here. (video)

June 25, 2007 Posted by | Peoria/local, politics/social, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Random Social Comments

Workout Notes 3100 yard swim; 10 x 50 fist, 10 x 50 on the 1 (47-50), 10 x 50 (drill/swim) (fins), 10 x (25 fly, 25 free) on the 1, 5 x (100 free, 100 pull), 100 back cool-down.

I shared a lane with a delightful lady; we got a chance to discuss swimming, drills, equipment, etc.

Later I took the truck to the lube place. There was this old guy who was upset that prices had gone up and that he had to wait too long (my wait was reasonable). Then, another delightful lady struck up a conversation with me; she is an artist from Davenport who is thinking of taking a job offer in Peoria.

Those meetings really revived my spirits! 😉

I did notice a couple of interesting blog posts:

This “teach both sides” cartoon is a riot! (blog name: “liberalsmustdie”)

This statistical study is depressing.

As part of its cover story on “what you need to know now,” Newsweek conducted a broad poll on a variety of political and cultural affairs. There were plenty of interesting results, but one section was particularly noteworthy.

Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in ten Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection. A majority of Americans were similarly unable to pick Saudi Arabia in a multiple-choice question about the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers were born. Just 43 percent got it right — and a full 20 percent thought most came from Iraq.

My take: face it, most folks just don’t pay attention; to them, one middle eastern country that isn’t Israel is mostly the same as another (I would say “Arab” country, but Iran is not an Arab country, and my guess is that most Americans don’t know that).

June 25, 2007 Posted by | creationism, science, swimming | Leave a comment

Humor, common misconceptions

I am just about to go to the pool to get my laps.

In today’s paper, I read the following letter to the editor:

Some scientific discoveries and mathematical probabilities have proven that Darwinian evolution cannot be right and doesn’t even qualify as wrong.

Order cannot come from disorder any more than living things can come from dead things.

An explosion in a junk yard can’t produce anything but smaller pieces of junk, no matter how big the bang.

Hmmm, you mean that those very scientists that come up with cures for disease believe in a foolish, false theory? Well no; this author makes a common mistake.

Here it is: many people think that evolution is a blind chance operation; that one minute you have disorganized junk, and the next step, a complex animal that just got there by chance. No evolutionist believes that!

Think of it this way: evoulution works, in part, because of genetic mutation. Genes copy themselves perfectly, most of the time. But from time to time, they make a mistake. This mistake in copying is called mutation.

Most of the time, the mutation is a “bad one”, so the genes with this mutation don’t survive very long. But on rare occasion, the mutation is a good one, and these genes go on as the organisims that have these do better. That is natural selection.

Now how does one comprehend the probabilities involved? It is best to consider the probability of a beneficial mutation as a roll of a die; suppose that rolling a 6 is good, and nothing else represents an improvement.

Then suppose that, say, evolving from total blindness to having an eye represents, say, 50 mutations, which must happen in a sequence (from blindness to a cell which can detect some light, to a more sensitive cell and so on).

By this model, to get from blindness to an eye in one step would involve an event which has the probability of (1/6)^50 of happening, which would be expected to take (6^50) rolls of the dice, which is simply too large of a time span to have happened in the history of the earth. So evolution is disproved, right? Wrong.

In fact, evolution happens sequentially, which means that the first beneficial mutation happens, is preserved, then the second, which is preserved, and so on.

So the expected amount of rolls necessary is more like:

(1/1/6) + (1/1/6)….+(1/1/6) = 50*6 = 300 rolls, which is much, much, much less than 6^50.

(in math terms, we are using random varibles Yi, i between 1 and 50, where the Yi are independent random variables with a geometric distribution with p = 1/6 )
Or, as Dawkins explains in a video

Previously posted here.

Redstate update is on fire today. They have tons of new videos; most are pretty good. Here are two of the best ones:

redstate update immigration

redstate update iraq

Video: why buy food from local sources?

This video takes a bit too long to make simple points, but the point is worth making. Basically, it says to shop at farmer’s markets (and from other local sources) because less energy is used to produce such food (energy for shipping, storage, etc), the food is fresher, and cutting out the middleman puts more money in the farmer’s pocket.

Still, I like the message; the video takes about 3.5 minutes.

A Dissenting Opinion

I’ve made it clear that I don’t believe in supernatural stuff. But, I am not anti-church, at least in some cases. Why? Well, regardless of what myths people believe or don’t believe, it appears to me that many churches take social action in ways that other groups cannot.

Here is an example:

PEORIA – A recently formed association of churches will lead a march against violence through the heart of the city on Saturday.

“We’re coming together to show a unified front against the crime, to show a unified front against the violence,” said the Rev. Harvey Burnett, pastor of New Bethel Church of God in Christ. “I think that’s the best example that our children can see is that we have crossed every barrier to rescue them.”

Peoria has seen 12 homicides so far this year, the last three within a week of each other.

The march will start at City Hall at 9 a.m. and proceed to Morton Square Park at the corner of Northeast Monroe and Evans streets. A tent rally will be held there, Burnett said.

Invitations to take part are going out to more than 100 churches and pastors. Invitations won’t be going to government officials, he said, but they’re more than welcome to take part.

“We don’t feel that our answer lies within politicians or elected officials,” Burnett said. “This is one reason that we’re marching from City Hall. We’re not petitioning City Hall for anything, but we want them to know that we are here and that we’re seeking the help or inspiration of the Lord.”

The Peoria Association of Pastors for Community and Spiritual Renewal comprises 12 churches, Burnett said, including COGIC, Apostolic, nondenominational and Church of the Living God congregations. He said the group was formed in May as a way for churches to combine resources across racial and denominational lines to face the growing incidence of violence in Peoria neighborhoods.

“What we’re seeking to do is really harvest or allow many of the white churches that may not be situated within the South Peoria neighborhood or community, to let them know that this is their community also, and we want to hear their voice.” […]

June 25, 2007 Posted by | creationism, edwards, hillary clinton, mathematics, obama, religion, science | 2 Comments

Lazy Morning

I’ll swim later in the morning today.

I’ll post on a few topics.

First, we’ve had lots of murders in the Central Illinois area this year; it is depressing to think about it. And, this area is home to a serial murder of women (now in jail); one Larry Bright murdered 10 women over an 18 month period. He burned some of their bodies and buried their remains on various properties, including some in his back yard. Interestingly enough, Bright is white and his victims were black, but I missed the large anti-white protest from black hate groups. (yes, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that some of these groups are in Illinois).

I bring this up because there are some who have claimed that if a white person killed a black one, it would be a hate crime. The Bright murders were not labeled that; it turns out that Bright’s action were more linked to his sexual lifestyle and drug use; see the story.

Photos that changed the world

Another hat-tip to SCThornley at the message boards.
Go here to see these famous photos.
You’ve probably seen most of these before.

Barack Obama

A nice summary of his current presidential campaign is here. (written by icebergslim at the Daily Kos)

I am going to quote a few parts

June 22, 2007

From an AP/Ipsos Poll: Clinton 33, Obama 21

The is from democratic voters and leaners. It states that Obama is running well among high-earning, well-educated Democrats. But he needs to broaden his base to women and more less educated, lower-income democrats. So, in other words, he got work to do. And I am sure they are working at it, as I type. 🙂

Senator Obama gave a bristling speech about Taking Our Government Back. He strikingly compares this age, back to a time known as the The Gilded Age. This period peaked late 19th Century, into the 20th Century.

“We cannot settle for a second Gilded Age in America. And yet we find ourselves once more in the midst of a new economy where more wealth is in danger of falling into fewer hands; where the average CEO now earns more in one day than an average worker in an entire year; where Americans are struggling like never before to pay their medical bills, or their kids’ tuition, or high gas prices, all while the profits of the drug and insurance and oil industries have never been higher.”


Women for Obama

I went to the Women for Obama, Conference Call with Michelle Obama and Campaign Manager, David Plouffe, Arlington Heights, Illinois. First off, there were people coming in and out, but it ended up being eight of us staying for the call. Most has already submitted their contributions on line, but I had two checks. One from me and a co-worker, who could not make it.

I took my micro-mini-digital cassette and taped it all. So, when I am quoting, it is from either Michelle’s or David’s mouth. Now, there were several hundred of these parties around the country. Michelle stated she is currently traveling, once a week, but July it will be twice a week. Her speech was focused on women and reminded us that Barack was raised by women, primarily his grandmother, and understands what women go through. Informed us that this country, as she travels is yearning for something new. Asked us to invite women to join, “Women for Obama”. The overall impression was about building grassroots, partnerships, the functionality of the campaign. Some was about raising monies, but the emphasis was not that strong, in my opinion. It makes me think, in my opinion, that the fundraising is going good. In fact, Michelle stated, “….outstanding first quarter, had more donors, beat the competition for primary dollars, now America, pundits, the media is looking to see if this is a spoof, or can Barack bring in the dollars again?” She indicated that they have the number of donors for this campaign to go the distance. Michelle stated that she is meeting hundreds of women who have never donated, participated in a campaign before, but are donating and volunteering in a tremendous way.

David Plouffe: Reminded us about who Barack Obama is. Spoke about Walk for Change and it was a success. Reminded us that dollars are critically important to compete in California, Florida, all the other states in February. On track with money this quarter, want people to be involved to invest in this campaign, and that is happening. Reminded us that Obama is not taking PAC/Lobbyist monies, and that dollars raised from the campaign is critically important. Has a full blown campaign going on in the early states: phone calls, knocking on doors, boots on the ground. Chief mission is to continue to build the campaign, and that is going on now. Reminded us that 100-150K people will be out in a wintery day in Iowa for the caucus. Many people have joined the campaign in a large amount, unusual at this stage for a presidential campaign. They are satisfied with how they are going, building a huge grassroots campaign. People are connecting with wanting change. “People who are democrats do not want to change party, they want to change policy.”

My take was this. They are confidant, building, busy and think they can win. But what got me was after the call. There was a woman from Central Illinois, Peoria, who drove up here for this call. She is in Ray LaHood’s’ district, a Republican and she is a Republican. She is a part of the Republicans for Obama. She is very unhappy, angry and dissatisfied with her party now and look at Obama as someone who can stop the partisan politics and restore our image globally. What got me is that most of the people, she said, are for Obama and are Independents or Republicans, in her district. Again, I am running across this on the regular. And David Plouffe said that Obama was the most sought after politician to stump for the Democrats, and requested in all 50 states, during the 2006 mid-term election. That is something else, because really when you look at it, Obama can plan an event in less than a week and hundreds, thousands will appear. What other candidate do we have currently right now, have that appeal? We don’t. He can go to red states, swing states, pull thousands from all across the board. That says volumes.

Ok, enough. I have complied my first weekly Obama report and will be here next Sunday. Have a great week, and don’t fight on the boards, too tough.

June 25, 2007 Posted by | obama, Peoria/local, politics/social | Leave a comment

Just a Few Tidbits

A very snarky Professor of Geology (Plimer) in a “debate” with a well known creationist:

Ps: just click on the video again to be directed to youtube. Or click on this link to watch.

The debate is discussed here.

Ok, this was very snarky, but hey, sometimes ya gots ta let your hair down a bit.

Euler gets some recognition (hat tip to SCThornley at

If one is not a mathematician (and except for a few of you out there, who is?), it’s going to be impossible to actually understand why Euler was such a great man. Other people will have to tell us, and we should probably believe them.

In 1988, the journal Mathematical Intelligencer asked its readers to list the most beautiful equations in mathematics. Of the top five, Euler, who was born in Basel, Switzerland, 300 years ago next Sunday, discovered three of them, including No. 1:

ei(pi) + 1 = 0.

(The other two were from Euclid, who worked in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.)

In 2004, Physics World put the same question to its readers. Of the top 20 equations, Euler had two. The one listed above, known as “Euler’s equation,” was second only to James Clerk Maxwell’s equations describing electromagnetism, which were counted as one entry.

Some have called Euler the “Mozart of Mathematics,” not only because of his genius but because of his prodigious output.

Before his death at 76, he had written more than 800 papers and books on pure and applied mathematics. In 1775, he composed about one paper a week, ranging in length from 10 to 50 pages. (Twenty papers is considered a good lifetime output for modern mathematicians.) His collected works fill 25,000 pages in 79 volumes, including five of correspondence to the leading thinkers of his day.

Amazingly, that’s not all of it.

More letters and a dozen notebooks will be published over the next decade. If the past is a guide, they are likely to contain work that in some sense is original even today.

Because I am a topoligist, I best know him for solving the Bridges of Konigsberg problem:

n Konigsberg, Germany, a river ran through the city such that in its center was an island, and after passing the island, the river broke into two parts. Seven bridges were built so that the people of the city could get from one part to another. A crude map of the center of Konigsberg might look like this:

The people wondered whether or not one could walk around the city in a way that would involve crossing each bridge exactly once.

Euler proved that the answer was no, using a mathematical technique that is now a part of what is called graph theory.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama says that “faith” has been hijacked by conservatives. I have to admit that I don’t have a dog in this hunt, so to speak, but also that faith is important to many potential Democratic voters. This was a wise political move on his part:

Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a 30-minute speech before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

“Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us,” the Illinois senator said.

“At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” according to an advance copy of his speech.

“There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich,” Obama said. “I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version.”

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups.


My note: The “UCC” church is sometimes jokingly refered to as “Unitarians Considering Christianity”. 😉

June 25, 2007 Posted by | creationism, mathematics, obama, religion, science | Leave a comment