This Happens A LOT!

Well, our university’s men’s basketball team one a game the other day and now we are reading about how much better they played this time as they had dropped their previous 3 games.

Let’s see: if one goes to the Sagarin Power Ratings:
Western Carolina: rank 60, rating 81.89 (loss)
Loyola-Chicago: rank 98, rating 77.29 (loss)
Iowa State, rank 73, rating 80.49 (loss)
Drake: rank 242, rating 66.81 (win)

So, was this more about anything the team did or about the competition? 🙂

December 31, 2009 Posted by | statistics | | Leave a comment

Here is Wishing Rush Limbaugh a Speedy Recovery

Though I also wish him falling ratings too.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Rush Limbaugh | 2 Comments

Humanitarian Bowl: You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me.

35-35 in the 4’th quarter. Idaho had 4’th and 8 at their own 42 with 1:49 and punted. Bowling Green had 80 yards to go. They got it to the 50 and then scored on a bomb with 40 seconds to go; BGU up 42-35.

So Idaho gets the ball and runs it to the 34. Long pass to the 15 on the first play, and then an incomplete. 8 seconds, they score! They go for 2…and get it.

How about two touchdowns in the last 30 seconds?

December 31, 2009 Posted by | college football, football | Leave a comment

That Bad?

Committing suicide versus going to graduate school?

I love the headline. 🙂

December 30, 2009 Posted by | blog humor, humor | Leave a comment

My Year in Endurance Sports 2009

My year in sports:

First, here is my background.

Basically I started out with a general fitness program and really wasn’t prepared going into this year’s McNaughton 50-100-150 mile race. Still I had signed up for the 100 a long time earlier, thinking that I had time to prepare. I didn’t so I started it on Friday with the 150 milers. It was horribly muddy but I managed a long, slow finish.

The other thing of note was a reasonably good marathon walk (5:14) in May and, much to my surprise, a PB in the 5 K swim (during a training swim) of 1:36:24. I did that more or less on a whim.

I did try to run some 5K events over the spring and could not break out of the 24 minute rut.

800 meters: 3:18 August 11(track)

6:42 July 9 (downhill, road)
7:03 July 22 (track)
7:19 August 5 (track)
6:54 August 25 (track)

24:14 September 5
24:07 August 22
24:09 August 15
24:59 July 18
24:00 May 30
25:40 May 23
24:29 May 9
26:30 April 25 (trail)
24:41 March 28

1:27:23 June 20


5:14:26 May 17
5:28:32 September 27

29.3 miles August 2
30 miles, 8:54 October 31

24 Hour/100 mile
66.4 24 hours (12:43 for 50 miles), June 7
100 miles, 47:45, April 12


1:36:24 PB for 5K (5500 yards), 17 December
27:05 1650 10 December
16:17 1000, 9 November
16:18 1000 23 September

December 30, 2009 Posted by | marathons, running, swimming, time trial/ race, training, ultra, walking | Leave a comment

30 December 09

Workout notes Weights (2 sets of curls (25), military (40), bench (60), pull-ups, (5-6), lat pulls (120 +)). Then 6.2 on the elliptical and 1 on the AMT; I got very sweaty.

I shoveled snow afterward; the “pushing” motion aggravates my injury; possibly I need to bend my knees more?

Women are more likely to be “believers”: is it the social instinct?

Bond between a calculus student and his instructor: not the norm, IMHO>

Football: an honest look at graduation rates. Note that the University of Miami does reasonably well. (70 percent, including 61 percent of its African Americans). Texas only graduates 38 percent of its black football players and 67 percent of its non-blacks. Wisconsin only graduates about 63 percent of all of its players).

December 30, 2009 Posted by | injury, religion, science, training | Leave a comment

Score One For the Big Ten…

Wisconsin dominated the statistics 426 to 245 yards, admittedly skewed by the fact that Miami broke a long return on the opening kick-off which set up a touchdown.

Wisconsin dominated for the next 57 minutes.

Miami mounted a valiant drive in the last 2-3 minutes to cut it to 20-14 and then got the onside kick, but the Badgers stopped them on 4 straight downs. Overall, they rushed the quarterback mercilessly and sacked him 5 times and hit him several more times.

Note: Miami had very ugly uniforms. 🙂

(photos: yahoo)

December 30, 2009 Posted by | college football, football | Leave a comment

29 December 2009

Workout notes Slept late. Over lunch: 3 miles on the elliptical, then 3100 yards swimming: 10 x 200 (2 on the 4, 3 on the 3:40, 5 on the 3:30 (3:22, 21, 21, 19, 19); very sluggish). 100 back, 500 drill/swim (fins), 5 x 100 (3 paddle, 2 free).

The 3 on the elliptical were intense; no calf/hamstring pain to speak of.

Jesus was rich and wants you to be too! I’ll let good old Harriet handle this one. 🙂 (hat tip: Legal Satyricon)

Our Congress: members of the House of Representatives want to pass a resolution condemning those who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Yes, I know, symbolic resolutions are passed all of the time; I object to this one due to its content. Oh well, this is a cheap way to score political points with their moronic constituents.
(hat tip: PZ Myers)

Is “God the Question”? Yeah, that makes no sense but you sometimes read stuff like this in the “religion” section of “sophisticated” papers. I have no patience with such babble, and evidently others don’t either:

Saturday’s edition of The Guardian’s Comment is free ran a piece by Mark Vernon, called “God is the question: What does it mean to accept that God is not the answer to anything, but remains the unanswerable question?” I have zero patience for this kind of rambly, meaningless, intentional obscurantism, this “God is an unknowable mystery that cannot be touched by reason or intellect and that cannot be put into words” ridiculousness espoused by this author, among others. It’s completely nonsensical word salad. It’s a bunch of empty, vague rationalizations for belief in God disguised in language that is intended to seem deep and profound.

Intentional obscurantism is always annoying and intellectually dishonest, but it’s especially troubling when authors use it in an attempt to make their particular form of religious belief immune to criticism. How convenient that their God is unknowable and cannot be put into words! It’s pretty difficult to question and critique the truth claims of and to point out the real-life negative consequences of the belief systems of those who hide behind strings of meaningless phrases and who refuse to provide even a vague explanation of what in the hell they actually believe in.

This type of theologicalbabble also displays these authors’ willful ignorance about the God that most religious individuals believe in and about the horrible actions some believers engage in because of their blind religious faith. The average believer does not perceive God in the way that these authors do, a fact that the authors conveniently avoid acknowledging. By refusing to acknowledge this, they are both protecting themselves from being seen as “just a common believer” and pretending to be blind to the negative consequences of unquestioned religious belief. This type of writing is vacuous, hollow, dishonest, and willfully misleading.

Miranda Celeste Hale, the author of this piece, goes on to show just how bad such “arguments” are by arguing “Rabbit is the Question”….

Mysteries, you see, are much, much different than problems. Problems can be studied by scientists. But science is powerless to even begin to explain a mystery such as The Rabbit. There are not words in existence that can describe The Rabbit. A devout believer in and scholar of The Rabbit, one who lived in the Middle Ages, said it best: The Rabbit cannot even be said to exist. That’s how very mysterious He is!

Read the rest…it is hilarious. 🙂

(hat tip: Jerry Coyne)

We often don’t remember much of what we see, even right after we saw it. The implications for things like criminal trials is profound:

(hat tip: Schneier on Security)

Physics: Frank A. Wilczek’s interview with the New York Times (won one of the 2004 Nobel Prizes in physics)


A. One of the big questions at that time was — what is the strong force, one of the four basic forces, the most powerful force of nature, that among other things holds atomic nuclei together? There were lots of known facts about the strong force, but no real theory. Freeman Dyson had said that it would be 100 years before it was understood.

But David and I broke through to make a proposal for the fundamental equations that govern the strong force. We also proposed experiments to check the equations, which later proved out. The key was a property of quarks called “asymptotic freedom.” It’s unique among the forces of nature in that it turns off as the particles get close to one another. Conversely, the strength of the force grows with distance. That was seen experimentally, but proved very difficult to reconcile with quantum mechanics and relativity.

Well, David and I discovered that it could be reconciled. But only in a unique and mathematically intricate, highly symmetric theory whose specific beautiful equations we could write down. That theory is now called quantum chromodynamics, or QCD. It would result in new knowledge about the particles that make up the universe, of how matter gets mass. It helped us understand more about the early universe, and it suggested new ideas about the unity of forces in nature.

Peoria-Local Background: we have a small strip mall near my university called Campustown; it hosts a not-so-good grocery store. The store is closing; today’s local newspaper had an article about it. The article said this:

Neighborhood associations around Campustown were pleased when Save-A-Lot came to the shopping center, but they may be just as pleased the store is closing, said Kara Harris, president of the Uplands Residential Association.

Unfortunately, the clientele that often came to that store was unwelcome. I imagine the association will be thrilled,” she said.

There aren’t too many ways to interpret that “bolded” statement, are there? Billy Dennis stated the obvious:

I think it’s safe to assume that people who can afford a home in the Uplands are not the target clientele of Save-A-Lot, a store that sells a lot of cheap food. Many of the customers walk to the store from nearby homes, and many of these homes are far less expensive than the homes in the Uplands. Save-A-Lot is NOT a store people go to because of the sparkling clean floors or the wide selection of merchandise. It’s a store of necessity, not choice.

A lot of the customers are on food stamps. A lot of them are black. A lot of them are students. One assumes that the fine folks of the Uplands don’t want such undesirable people moving into their neighborhood any more than their association’s leader wants to see walking around Campustown.

So, not much to see here, right? Well, surf to the blog and read how our local “polyester set” tries to spin that comment. If you want to see where Julie Larson gets her material for her strip The Dinette Set, look no further than the comments on Billy’s post.

That’s Peoria: a quicksand trap of insipid mediocrity. It is cold during the winter too.

Why am I here? Well….let’s just say that while my university is NOT MIT, it was better than the other places that made me offers, and I hate being unemployed more than I hate the winters or the polyester-white bread atmosphere here.

Ok, my colleagues at the university are, for the most part, pretty cool people too. 🙂

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Blogroll, Illinois, injury, mathematics, mind, morons, Peoria, Peoria/local, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science, superstition, swimming | 2 Comments

28 December 09: NFL Thoughts

(photos from yahoo)

Right now I have the Bears-Vikings game on. As of now: on the first series, the teams traded 3 and outs, though the Vikings dropped a potential interception. But the Bears completed a 27 yard pass and just got a 9 yard run; they have it on the Viking 19. Make it the Viking 10. The Bears cash in with a field goal.

Now it is half time; the Bears lead 16-0 and it isn’t really that close. The Bears lead in total yards 225-82.

Update This has been wild. The Vikings got it in gear; a quick drive put them down 16-6. But the Bears ran the kick-off back 59 yards to set up another touchdown to make it 23-6.

The Vikings came back with another drive; it was 23-13 going into the 4’th.

Now the Vikings get an interception; the Bears defense forces a field goal; 23-17. Then another drive cuts it to 23-23.

But the Bears get a 57 yard kick off return to set up a touchdown pass and now lead 30-23 with 3:20 left. But the Bears are now missing 3 defensive backs.
The Vikings have 380 to 281 yards, but the Bears do have those big kick returns that don’t show up in total yards.

Vikings score on 4’th down and goal from the 7 with 22 seconds to go. Overtime at 30-30.

Bears miss a 44 yard field goal! But the defense holds and sack Favre twice. The Bears have it at their 36. But they go 3 and out; Vikings at their own 17.

Fumble!!! Bears recover at the 39 of the Vikings! First play…touchdown!!! Great pass protection, good pass, great route and good catch. Bears win 36-30.

Yesterday I caught the end of the Jets-Colts game.

Right now, there is some debate about the Colts pulling their starters with 5:36 to go in the game which was very competitive game (it finished 29-15, Jets).

Frankly, it was a good move, IMHO. What a good time it was to get their substitutes some much-needed game action against a quality opponent while the game was on the line! After all, what happens if a starter goes down in the playoffs?

Then I watched much of the Cowboy-Redskins game.
The Dallas defense looked sharp:

The pass rush made things miserable for the Redskin quarterback:

The offense did enough, outgaining the Redskins 393-218 in total yards.

However the Cowboys need to work on their short yardage plays:

3’rd Quarter:

2nd-2, WAS36 12:19 T. Choice rushed to the left for 1 yard gain
3rd-1, WAS35 11:35 M. Barber rushed up the middle for no gain
4th-1, WAS35 10:37 M. Barber rushed up the middle for no gain

3’rd Quarter:

2nd-2, WAS31 1:31 T. Romo incomplete pass to the left
3rd-2, WAS31 1:26 M. Barber rushed to the left for 1 yard gain
4th-1, WAS30 0:50 M. Barber rushed to the right for no gain

4’th Quarter

3rd-1, WAS5 8:34 M. Barber rushed to the right for no gain
4th-1, WAS5 7:44 S. Suisham kicked a 23-yard field goal

December 29, 2009 Posted by | football, NFL | Leave a comment

28 December 09

Workout notes Weights (included squats), used 40 pounds for the dumbbell military press, 60 for the dumbbell military press; squats included both free (bar, 95) and the Smith Machine (bar, 95, 135), pull ups (2 sets), lats, then yoga leg lifts.

Then 8 lap jog (some pain at 6 laps), 3 miles AMT (no pain), 2.24 miles stairmaster (18 minutes some twinging). Evidently I strained things when I shoveled and should lay off the jogging for a few days.

Speaking of running and injuries: Check out his article on runner’s knee:

Padua and his colleagues studied about 1,600 midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy. Researchers analyzed participants’ biomechanics when they enrolled at the academy, then followed them for several years to see whether they developed patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Forty participants (24 women and 16 men) developed the syndrome in the follow-up period. The study found that:

* Participants with weaker hamstring muscles were 2.9 times more likely to develop the syndrome than those with the strongest hamstrings;
* Those with weaker quadriceps muscles were 5.5 times more likely;
* Those with a larger navicular drop (a measure of arch flattening when bearing weight) were 3.4 times more likely; and
* Participants with smaller knee flexion angle (those whose knees bent less on landing during a jump test) were 3.1 times more likely.

Padua said the pain associated with the condition could be explained by those different factors coming together to create a focal point of pressure between the kneecap and the underlying bone.

“Overall, these people generally have weaker quads and hamstrings. As a result, they don’t bend their knees as much when doing tasks, such as running or jumping. That means the contact area between the kneecap and the femur is smaller, so pressure is focused and pinpointed on a smaller area.

“Also, the more a person’s arch falls when bearing weight, the more their whole leg may rotate inwards. That will mean their kneecap won’t track properly, leading to yet more pressure and more potential pain.”

Padua said the good news is that the study appears to confirm that if people can change the way they move and improve their leg strength, they can prevent or correct the problem.

Other posts

Paul Krugman calls out those who say that “X needs to move to the center“:

Call me naive, but I was actually eager to read Clive Crook’s latest, about Obama’s missed opportunity. Which policy does Crook think should have been different?

The answer is … none, as far as I can tell. Crook doesn’t offer any policy critique at all. Instead, he condemns Obama for not reaching out to Republicans, for “deferring to the implacably partisan Democratic majorities.”

Aside from the question of what that means — what was “implacably partisan” about what Democrats did? What should they have done differently? We never learn — this happens to be demonstrably untrue. If you were paying attention at all to the health care debate, you know that the legislative process was put on hold for several months while Max Baucus, with the approval of the White House, tried to work out a bipartisan deal with the Gang of Six. Only when it became clear that there were no concessions that would bring Republicans on board did the Senate Democrats forge ahead on a party line basis.

Alas, the kind of content-free centrism Crook shows here is all too common. Recent op-eds by William Daley and, of course, David Broder urge Democrats to “move to the center” without saying anything — anything at all — about what that would mean in terms of actual changes in their policy ideas.

As David Warsh points out, the health care plan the Senate eventually passed on a party-line vote is very much in the spirit of the Massachusetts plan, which was itself a bipartisan effort.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, economy, health care, injury, politics, politics/social, republicans, running, training | Leave a comment