Workout notes 4 mile “fast walk” in Forest Park Nature Center. The outer loop took about 1-1:02 (hiking boots, some mud). But I saw two families of deer and about 8-10 wild turkeys, included some which flew a bit.

Non Political Stuff

Eating less and exercising more: a good idea.

Overweight people who lose a moderate amount of weight get an immediate benefit in the form of better heart health, according to a study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. And the heart improvements happen whether that weight is shed by eating less or exercising more.

“If individuals want to do something that’s good for their heart, then my message to them is lose weight by the method they find most tolerable,” says the study’s senior author Sándor J. Kovács, Ph.D, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Biophysics Laboratory and professor of medicine. “They’re virtually guaranteed that it will have a salutary effect on their cardiovascular system.”

Studying a group of healthy, overweight but not obese, middle-aged men and women, the researchers found that a yearlong regimen of either calorie restriction or exercise increase had positive effects on heart function. Their analysis revealed that heart function was restored to a more youthful state so that during the heart’s filling phase (called diastole) it took less time for participants’ hearts to relax and fill with blood. The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology and are now available online. […]

Teaching Evaluations for College Professors: how meaningful are they?

[…]The facts are that student evaluations don’t evaluate what students think they’re evaluating. Many scientific studies have been done and the evidence strongly suggests that students evaluations are based mostly on whether students like the personality of the Professor.

I teach science and scientific reasoning. I think it’s important to ask whether the collecting and publication of student evaluations is a worthwhile and valid exercise. If student evaluations are scientifically justified then they should be published. If the evidence doesn’t back up the claims then they are worthless. This isn’t hard to follow, is it?

Publication of worthless student evaluations may actually be counter-productive. The result may turn students away from courses they should be taking and encourage them to take easy bird courses they should be avoiding.

Until it can be demonstrated that student evaluations are useful and scientifially valid, I will continue to exercise my right to block publication of my evaluations, regardless of any decision by the Department of Biochemistry. And I will continue to argue against using flawed student evaluations in tenure and promotion decisions. I will also oppose all attempts to reward faculty members for excellence in teaching based entirely—or mostly—on student evaluations. Any other position is anti-scientific, in my opinion. No competent scientist can ever justify relying on standard undergraduate student evaluations to evaluate teaching ability. […]

God Logic: how good is yours?

Friendly Atheist links to a quiz; I took one “hit” on it, mostly because I misread a question.


Mitt Romney: Kos is urging Michigan Democrats to vote for him.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign: two takes from the Smirking Chimp.

Will her displaying her “feminine side” help her in the long run?

In the 1972 New Hampshire primary, the late Edmund Muskie choked back anger and was reportedly on the verge of tears because of articles—one of which proved to be a hoax—that appeared in the Manchester Union Leader attacking him and his wife.

During a campaign stop, Muskie challenged the Union Leader’s editor William Loeb, “By attacking me, by attacking my wife, he has proved himself to be a gutless coward. And maybe I said all I should on it. It’s fortunate for him he’s not on this platform beside me. A good woman . . .[chokes up]”

This emotional moment came to be regarded as the collapse of his presidential campaign because, instead of being seen as a strength—defending his wife from slander, it was viewed as a weakness. But then, Muskie was male and this was still only 1972. Men were not yet allowed to get in touch with their fabled “feminine side.”

On December 20, 2007, the Boston Globe reported Mitt Romney’s brief contact with his “feminine side” when his eyes welled up after repeating, for the umpteenth time on the campaign trail, the story about watching the casket of an American soldier killed in Iraq while wondering to himself “what it would be like to lose a son in a situation like that.” Mitt, fortunately, will never know. His sons are safely by his side. But he is nonetheless proud of their “service” on the campaign trail, which he said is a lot like military service.

Now the “cold and calculating” Vietnam War-protester-turned-hawk Hillary Clinton has reconnected with her “feminine side” in time to pull off a surprise victory in New Hampshire, which has reinvigorated her campaign. Over coffee at the Espresso Café in Portsmouth, Hillary gave the mostly female group of undecided voters a full 10-second clip of her underbelly.

When asked, “How do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?” Hillary began by talking about her hair and then, either by epiphany or serendipity, or cold, calculating political strategy, she eased onto her “feminine side,” “This is very personal for me. It’s not just political . . . It’s about our country. It’s about our kids’ futures. It’s really about all of us together.”

Then just as easily—almost seamlessly—she rolled back onto her “male side” and went for Barack Obama’s jugular, “But some of us are right and some of us are wrong, some of us are ready and some of us are not, some of us know what we will do on day one and some of us haven’t really though that through enough.”

Keep in mind, Hillary is the same politician who has supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq for the last five years, a decision that has cost 3,921American mothers and fathers their kid’s precious future, and an untold number of Iraqi parents the same loss. […]

No one can say for certain—other than Hillary and her handlers—that her 10-second “feminine side” moment in the Espresso Café in Portsmouth was not genuine. One can say with a high degree of certainty, however, that it was 100 percent political.

But the important question for the American electorate and, more critically, for the wellbeing of our democratic republic is, should a politician’s future depend on a 10-second moment of emotion—cynically contrived or otherwise. Edmund Muskie lost a presidential bid because of such a moment. Hillary Clinton may have won the White House again for the same reason.

With so much damage to our nation and its international reputation to repair after eight years of the callous misadventures of George W. Bush, we do need politicians who can think with their head and feel with their heart. But we can ill afford to continue electing—or not—a politician on the basis of one brief moment of the later.

Sorry Hillary, I’m not buying it . . . you either, Mitt!

Will it hurt or help?

Many people who know the Clintons insist that the power couple truly wants what’s best for the American people. It’s just that too often their political needs or their personal foibles overwhelm their responsibility to the public interest.

But rarely could the Clintons’ determination to get their way be more detrimental to both the Democratic Party and the United States than if Hillary Clinton continues to play the “gender card” on behalf of her presidential campaign, especially in what is shaping up as a two-person race against an African-American.

Instead of an inspiring campaign between two trail-blazing politicians, the race could degenerate into a spasm of “identity politics” in which two groups – women and blacks – compete over who has been more unfairly repressed.

To this point, Sen. Barack Obama has avoided playing the “race card,” favoring uplifting rhetoric about “change” that is underscored – but not overwhelmed – by the fact that he is the first African-American to be given a serious shot at winning the White House.

By contrast, over the past few months, whenever the going has gotten tough, Sen. Clinton has responded with references to herself as an embattled woman facing unfair treatment at the hands of men.

On Nov. 1, 2007, after one bruising Democratic debate, Clinton returned to her alma mater, Wellesley College, and declared that “in so many ways, this all women’s college prepared me to compete in the all boys’ club of presidential politics.”

Clinton then urged Wellesley students to help her win the presidency. “We’re ready to shatter that highest glass ceiling,” Clinton said. [NYT, Nov. 2, 2007]

Similarly, after losing the Iowa caucuses to Obama, Clinton and her supporters appealed to women to rally behind one of their own and to take a stand against sexist oppression. […]

The longer-term danger, however, is that Clinton’s reliance on the “gender card” – especially as Obama resists playing the “race card” – might ultimately pit two important Democratic constituencies against one another.

Identity politics could trump a serious debate over the candidates’ differences on the Iraq War and other pressing issues. In the end, many Americans surely would be turned off by a high-profile squabble over who has the bigger historic grievance, American women or American blacks.

Given the numerical superiority of women over blacks, that argument might help the Clintons achieve their immediate goal of again capturing the Democratic presidential nomination. But it could leave their party – and their nation – even more divided.


It is well known that he got Secret Service Protection early.

The Secret Service said Thursday that Sen. Barack Obama was being placed under their protection, the earliest ever for a presidential candidate.

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff authorized Obama’s protection after consultations with the congressional advisory committee.

Officials said Obama had requested the protection. Such requests are then sent to the congressional panel for approval or rejection. […]

The obvious reason is racism: he could be the target of racists.

Nikki quotes Green Knight.

If Barak Obama wins the democratic nomination to challenge for the presidency of the United States, should we think that the racists in America would stand idly by and allow him to challenge for that office? After all, bigotry is alive and well in the inbreeding back woods, bars, and brothels of the born again Christian South.

The White Supremacists, the Nazis, and the Klan are good Christians, even though good Christian is oxymoronic by its very nature; for the aforementioned racists, the only good n%$$er is a dead one, or a slave. For the bigots, nothing has changed; Lincoln got what he deserved; King Jr. got what he deserved; will Obama get what, in their opinion, he deserves? […]


Obama, Clinton, race, sex and polls

Bill Moyers has an interesting show on these topics. The topics are broken down into bits. Very good.

Shelby Steele is not optimistic about Obama’s chances, and he discusses Obama’s problems with the Black community. In short, his argument is this: Obama is called a “bargainer”; that is, he approaches White people like this: “ok, I’ll assume off the bat that you are not a racist until you prove otherwise”, whereas the “challenger” says “ok, I’ll assume that you and your institution are racist until you prove otherwise”. He says that many African Americans view “bargainers” as having given away what power that African Americans might have.

That puts Obama in a box: to win Black voters he needs to become more of a challenger, but in doing that, he might lose white voters, thereby lessening his ability to win, thereby lowering the confidence that African Americans might have in him.

That is, according to Steele, Obama is in a lose-lose situation.


January 12, 2008 - Posted by | hiking, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, walking

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