13 April 2010: am

Workout notes Bench press: 10 x 135, 160 x 1, 185 x 1, 205 x 1 (not warmed up enough), 175 x 8.
Then I did super sets (mixed the exercise)
incline press: 10 x 135, 6 x 145
seated military: 5 x 95, 5 x 85, 7 x 85
curls 7 x 65, 5 x 65, 5 x 65
pull ups: 10, 10, 7, one set of 5 chin ups
lat pull downs 10 x 120, 7 x 140, 10 x 140
dumbbells: 6 x 30 curl, 1 x 50 standing military, 6 x 45 military (ugly), 7 x 75 bench (ugly; sore right shoulder at the lowest position)
ab work: I went through this twice: yoga leg lifts (30, 20), vertical crunches (20, 10), weight crunches (10 x 110), twists (10 x 110), vertical straight leg lifts (20, 10)
headstand: 5:30 (easier than normal)

Note: bench, pull downs, pull ups and head stand were easier than normal; the other exercises were harder than normal. I didn’t give myself much rest between sets and sweated all over the place.

This guy is more conservative than I am, but he makes a lot of sense:


April 13, 2010 Posted by | politics, politics/social, training, weight training | Leave a comment

13 April 2010 (am)

(Fail Blog)

Health Care Bill Comment: Randazza cracks me up:

don’t even understand what the healthcare bill did. Sorry to plead such ignorance, but I really don’t give a fuck. I have lots of money, really good health insurance, and I can only give a fuck about so many items at a time. Healthcare isn’t one of them. I get it, they are gonna tax me more so that poors get better health care. Fine. I don’t mind. My tax dollars support a lot dumber shit than that.

The highlighted part: applause! That is how I feel. Note: this point is tangential to the main point, which is “we really don’t know how it is going to work until it has been in place for a while”.

Note to Randazza: I am not stalking you. But I love good rants and pithy sayings; that is one reason I like Pat Condell, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins and Miranda Celeste Hale. I also like the competent “nerdiness” of Nate Silver.

Skepitcs Funny, but I always thought that self-proclaimed skeptics were skeptical of religious claims. Evidently I was wrong:

I’m really, really tired of skeptics who are committed to investigating and criticizing irrationality unless that irrationality is of the religious sort. I certainly commend anyone who devotes their time to combating irrational and baseless paranormal/supernatural claims, but there’s absolutely no excuse for excluding religious beliefs/assertions/practices from that inquiry and criticism just so that the skeptic in question can cling desperately to their own irrational faith and/or avoid offending religious individuals.

Recent discussion of this topic has got me all fired up, and I posted this comment at Pharyngula tonight:

You can’t legitimately and honestly claim to be a skeptic if you cling to an irrational and completely unevidenced belief in God. I know that some people try to get around this with all sorts of NOMA-esque nonsense, the core of which seems to be “God is a philosophical question, not a scientific one.” But that’s complete and utter bullshit. All supernatural claims are (and must be) subject to scientific scrutiny. It’s ridiculous to assert that God is a special case that shouldn’t be subject to the same rigorous investigation as any other supernatural claim. This kind of servile deference to the religious mindset is cravenly and incredibly tiresome. It seriously needs to stop.

But this comment got me thinking about a related topic: what do people get out of religion anyway?

My guesses:
1. They get a sense of community.
2. They get a time out from all of the (sometimes crushing) material concerns of life
3. They get challenged to live a better life.

I’ll focus on the latter: I have heard some good things IN CHURCH. For example, one Unitarian minister said “one of our problems is that we often compare the best in ourselves with the worst in others; that way we prop ourselves up.”

That is so true, at least of me.
I might snicker at, say, how ignorant a social conservative is about science (“ha, they think that the world is 6000 years old!”). I then promptly ignore how this individual’s contributions to charity (in terms of time) puts me to shame, or I ignore that I need to read the instructions to change a car tire (which I HAVE done) whereas they can knock it off in 10 minutes or less.

Of course, none of my points depend on believing in zombies, ghosts, magical golden plates, burning bushes or deities (either material, or “unknowable”), etc. And yes, I see nothing of value beyond in believing in the “truth” of these myths, though they can make interesting stories and sometimes these stories have value.

Science: great talk about attitude and fear of science: (hat tip: Richard Dawkins)

Off to lift weights prior to my work day.

Injury note: I see the PT; last night I had the best “pain free” sleep in a while; then again I took the naproxyn more frequently (3 does). Then again, I did that two nights ago and it still hurt like hell. Maybe I AM getting better? 🙂

April 13, 2010 Posted by | blog humor, Blogroll, education, nature, Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, quackery, religion, science, superstition | 2 Comments

12 April: Issues post.

Bi-partisanship Just a pipe-dream in this political climate. Evidently the Republicans have their goal as defeating most of what President Obama proposes rather than trying to get “some” of what they want.

What about President Obama:
This post was supposed to be critical (from the left) but:


OK, so why do I say Obama has the potential to be our greatest president since FDR?

Number one, it’s not as if he has much competition. Most presidents are either a disaster or useless. I’d say at least thirty of our presidents have been useless, with nobody noticing the difference if they’d been replaced by Japanese house-cleaning robots.

In my lifetime, they’ve all been pretty much one disaster after another. Eisenhower was OK: he built our highways and ended the war in Korea. But JFK was a useless disaster. He stopped Khrushchev from loading Cuba up with missiles, but any president would’ve done that. He piled military advisors into Vietnam, and that turned out to be our single biggest foreign policy disaster. Nixon was disastrous but not entirely useless: he made a rapprochement with China but bombed Cambodia; he established the EPA but screwed up with Watergate.

Then there’s LBJ, the rarest of the rare, the lonely exception: a great president, maybe greater than FDR. He signed Civil Rights and Medicare into law along with a host of Great Society programs (but conned himself into the Vietnam escapade, which he at least had the intelligence to know was a mistake after year one, which is more than you can say for Obama and Afghanistan). As for Ford, he pardoned Nixon and handed out “Whip Inflation Now” buttons. Carter put human rights on our foreign policy agenda, which makes him a saint among presidents, but like some hapless Mugabe, he could do nothing about 20% plus inflation. Reagan was an unmitigated disaster, backing nun-killers in Nicaragua and bashing the unions and destroying our tax base by bringing the marginal tax rate of the rich down from 70% to under 30%, and giving the super-idealistic starry-eyed Chicago school of pie-in-the-sky efficient market utopians free rein with his “trickle-down” Reaganomics, to lay the foundation for making us the most unequal society on earth, a throwback to the era of the Sun King. Bush One was pretty useless, although he did kick Saddam out of Kuwait, but gave the neocons enough inspiration to come back under Bush Two to destroy us. I honestly don’t know who was a bigger disaster — Clinton or Bush Two. But coming back to back, they’ve certainly been the most dysfunctional regime since the reign of Roman Emperor Caligula, who made his horse a Senator. Clinton destroyed Mexican agriculture and helped the big corporations to export our good jobs with NAFTA, nixed the Glass-Steagall Act that kept us safe from Wall Street shenanigans for 60 years, and made sure that derivatives would be unregulated. Bush Two gave us two wars, a bitch of a deficit and a reputation as torturers, and also bailed out the Clinton-enabled Wall Street shysters. You tell me who was the bigger disaster. It’s a little like deciding by what would you prefer to be struck down most — a heart attack or a stroke.

Now along comes Obama and what is the difference between him and the others?

Number one, he’s not a total born-privileged pink-Madras-panted Brahmin jackass like most of them, but a half-decent chap whose mom crammed some values down his throat.

Number two, he thinks with his brain not his gut (Bush Two) or his dick (Clinton).

Number three, and this is the big difference, he’s ready and fired up and ambitious enough to:

a) actually name our biggest problems (healthcare, education, energy, infrastructure)

b) actually tackle them, i.e. do whatever deal-cutting and Machiavellian scheming he has to do to get some kind of a job done.

The previous points were of the “Obama is an egotistical Republican light” variety. The last post talks about his ambition.

So what about the economy? Robert Reich still worries about jobs and consumers having money to spend:

Companies have also cut costs by substituting more computerized equipment for labor. They’ve made greater use of numerically controlled machine tools, robotics and a wide range of office software.

These cost-cutting moves have allowed many companies to show profits notwithstanding relatively poor sales. Alcoa, for example, had $1.5 billion in cash at the end of last year, double what it had on hand at the end of 2008. It managed this largely by cutting 28,000 jobs, 32% of its work force. But for workers, there’s no return. Those who have lost their jobs to foreign outsourcing or labor-replacing technologies are unlikely ever to get them back. And they have little hope of finding new jobs that pay as well. More than 40% of today’s unemployed have been without work for over six months, a higher proportion than at any time in 60 years.

The only way many of today’s jobless are likely to retain their jobs or get new ones is by settling for much lower wages and benefits. The official unemployment numbers hide the extent to which American workers are already on this downward path. But if you look at income data you’ll see the drop.

Among those with jobs, more and more have accepted lower pay and benefits as a condition for keeping them. Or they have lost higher-paying jobs and are now in new ones that pay less. Or new hires are paid far lower wages than the old. (In January, Ford Motor Co. announced that it would add 1,200 jobs at its Chicago assembly plant but didn’t trumpet that the new workers will be paid half of what current workers were paid when they began.) Or they have become consultants or temporary workers whose pay is unsteady and benefits nonexistent.

This shift also helps explain why the unemployment rate for Americans with college degrees is now only 5%, while it is 10.5% for those with only a high-school degree, and 15.6% for Americans with less than a high-school diploma. The jobs of well-educated Americans, although hardly immune to foreign outsourcing and technological displacement, have been less vulnerable to these trends than the jobs of Americans with fewer years of education.

The likelihood, therefore, is that as the economy struggles to recover and today’s jobless begin to find work, the median wage will continue to fall—as it did between 2001 and 2007, during the last so-called recovery.

More Americans will be working, but for pay they consider inadequate. The approaching recovery will be tepid because so many people will lack the money needed to buy all the goods and services the economy can produce.

Americans will once again be employed, but they will also be back on the downward escalator of declining pay they rode before the Great Recession.

But Business Week is more optimistic:

For most of the past two decades, the reigning economic approach in Democratic circles has been Rubinomics, a set of priorities fashioned in the 1990s by Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Robert E. Rubin, the former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs (GS). Broadly, Rubinomics was a three-legged stool consisting of restrained government spending, lower budget deficits, and open trade, which were meant in combination to reassure financial markets, keep capital flowing, and thus put the country on a path to prosperity.

On the surface, Obamanomics couldn’t be more different. The Administration racked up record deficits as it pursued a $787 billion fiscal stimulus on top of the $700 billion bailout fund for banks and carmakers. Obama has done close to nothing to expand free trade. And while Clinton pleased the markets with a moderate, probusiness image, Obama has riled Wall Street with occasional bursts of populist rhetoric, such as his slamming of “fat cat bankers” on 60 Minutes last December.

The rallying markets haven’t been bothered by these differences, largely because of their context. Martin Baily, who was a chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration, says he suspects Rubin and the rest of the Clinton economic team would have made similar decisions—on bailouts, fiscal stimulus, and deficit spending—had they faced a crisis of similar magnitude. “I think we would have gone the same way,” he says. The Obama team, he continues, navigated the financial crisis while never losing sight of the importance of private enterprise and private markets (a point Obama stressed in his Feb. 9 interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek). “A lot of people on the left were urging them to nationalize banks. Instead they injected capital, and now they’re pulling capital out. That looks more like Rubinomics than a set of socialist or left-wing economic policies.” The Obama economic team looks a lot like Rubin’s, too; three of its most prominent members—Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers, and White House budget director Peter Orszag—are Rubin protégés.

While the Administration’s call for a consumer financial protection agency has aroused opposition from banks, Obama’s regulatory reform plan largely leaves the financial industry’s structure intact and ignores proposals to break up large financial institutions, unlike the reforms pursued after the Crash of 1929. Amid an uproar over bonuses at government-assisted banks, Obama for the most part chose to respect private employment contracts.

In short, Obama’s instincts during the crisis were exceedingly Rubin-esque. Even the $787 billion stimulus package, while large by historical standards, didn’t reach the scale called for by many liberal economists, including the chairman of his own Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, who initially advocated spending more than $1 trillion. Today, Romer doesn’t shy away from comparisons to the last Democratic Administration, but she also makes no grand claims about a new economic philosophy. What unites Rubinomics and Obamanomics, she says, “is the focus on results, the pragmatism of what’s right for the economy. We each took the policy that was appropriate at the time.”

The similarities go deeper. Like Clinton, Obama has tried to reduce income inequality. Clinton’s 1993 deficit-reduction plan raised income tax rates for high-income families to 39.6%; Obama plans to return the top rate to the Clinton-era level. He also raised Medicare taxes for individuals earning over $200,000 to finance his health plan. Clinton aided the working poor with the Earned Income Tax Credit; Obama is doing the same with insurance subsidies in his health plan. A national health plan was an aspiration of both Presidents. Baily argues that the Obama approach is “at least in principle closer to Rubinomics than was the Clinton plan. [Obama’s team] is trying to use market incentives to raise the quality and lower the cost, and that looks like Rubinomics.” […]

The early stages of an economic rebound do not bring political safe haven for Presidents. (Just ask George H.W. Bush, who won a war against Iraq only to lose reelection a year after the 1990-91 recession ended.) Obama, however, may now have reached a pivot point with the economy finally beginning to add jobs. “He can make great strides in short order,” says Steven Jarding, a former Democratic campaign strategist who is now a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “Any indicator he can build on is a good thing. He’ll be able to focus all his energy and attention to say, ‘Here’s what happened this year in the economy.'”

With seven months to go before midterm elections, and more than two years before Obama reaches his own reelection day, there’s still time for the President’s policies to swing to his political advantage. Again, follow the money: Consumer spending has been rising for five straight months. That may not last, but it suggests Obama is already on the right track with voters’ wallets. If the Clinton Administration is a trustworthy precedent—and job growth continues—their hearts and minds could follow.

Security issues Yes, there are fake security certificates. Really, if someone wants to hack your computer and they are good enough, they will.

Hate in Politics
I admit that I am growing increasingly irritated in this seeming resurgence of “Southern/Confederate Heritage” stuff in the news.

Look, the Confederates were nothing more than traitors who were fighting to hang onto a grossly immoral institution. Yes, some fought bravely, but then again, so did some Nazis. Sure, study it, but don’t celebrate it.

Many ended up like this:

I’m sure that this young man could have gave his life for a better cause that protecting the wealthy’s right to have slaves and perhaps lived a whole lot longer in the process. (photo)

As far as common hate: I don’t know whether these articles are alarmist (meaning: I see this as a problem, but is it significantly more pronounced than normal?)

Yes, the number of hate groups has increased dramatically, but many of these are scattered and weak; they aren’t the threat that, say, the 1950’s KKK was.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, racism, ranting, republicans | Leave a comment

Butt Slapping At Ball State….

Yes, this is a real facebook group.

What is going on? (hat tip: Legal Satyricon)

From here:

Earlier this week, a merry prankster at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana threw this quiet college town into a panic when he went around on his bicycle smacking women on their asses and speeding away before he could be nabbed, no doubt while twirling his mustache and cackling maniacally. A grand total of two females were traumatized by this chauvinist’s cheeky cheek-violating ways, enough to encourage campus police to send a emergency email to students and faculty telling them to be on the lookout for this terror on two wheels. The same emergency system that is usually reserved for serious safety warnings, like when rapists and muggers are on the loose.

The police’s overreaction to our buttock-bruising friend inspired someone to set up a Facebook page to highlight the absurdity of the situation. As of this writing (3:30 am Green Mountain Time), the Ball State Ass Slapper has just shy of 11,00o fans. Not only that, you can now score cool Ass Slapper swag, including T-shirts with phrases like “BSU: Slappin’ Ass On The Way To Class Since 1918″ and shirts for the ladies that read “I Got Spanked By The BSU Ass Slapper…And I Liked It”. There’s even a song dedicated to the Ass Slapper’s awesomeness: […]

The blogger who wrote the above went on to say:

Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way – groping random women is not cool. But it’s not a crime worthy of an entire campus menstruating over.

And there is another aspect to this: this is a type of physical assault. No, this is not getting hit on the head by a baseball bat, getting punched in the jaw by a professional boxer, etc. There are degrees of assault. And yes, there is a sexual dimension to it. So the cops should have been permitted to do their jobs (perhaps a bit more quietly?), nap the suspect and do whatever needs to be done.

But of course some college students will find this funny. And yes, this will infuriate many in the “extreme feminist” industry. Two women get their butts slapped and we get this:

I’ve never seen such an overt celebration of assault against women on a college campus. While Ball State President Jo Ann Gora has denounced the group, I’m still disappointed in the student body of Ball State. I’m even more disappointed that it doesn’t just seem to be the students that have clearly lost their minds.

Sorry, but as I said: there are degrees of “sexual abuse” and this is on the minor end of the scale.

There is the physical dimension too:
1. People walking across campus have the right to do so without being bothered like this; after all someone might not be in a mood for pranks.
2. Some might have some physical issues. For example, I love to pat my wife’s butt (yes, consensual). But she has some physical balance issues; I have to be gentle so as to not tip her over if she is bending over when I pat her. Someone riding on a bike isn’t going to be gentle. This is a degree of physical assault (again, toward the more minor end).

But when people overreact, they invite this sort of push-back/slow back.

So, what if the tables were turned?
Yes, I’ve been swatted in the butt by a female that I didn’t know. This happened back 8 years ago at a race in Milton, Wisconsin (2002, July 4). I was doing a warm weather 10K and was pushing to break 50 minutes; it was HOT. I managed to make it and as I stumbled (nearly comatose) thought the finish chute, a woman swatted me on my sweaty rear end (49:20 finish).

I stumbled away from the chute, looked back at the woman and thought “oh..she is cute. Too bad I wasn’t alert enough to have enjoyed it.”

Yes, this was a sporting event, I obviously didn’t have health/balance issues, and, ok, I was about 8-10 inches taller than her and about 70-80 pounds heavier. So, it wasn’t as if I felt threatened.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Blogroll, politics, politics/social, running, time trial/ race | 2 Comments

12 April 2010 PM (workouts, fun and frivolity)

Workout notes I slept in an extra hour due to having my sleep interrupted by leg pain and my weird weekend helping out at the ultra.

Yeah, I’d do it again.

I did swim though: 2200 yards and I had two reasonably fast women in the pool. Once again: pull buoy and no wall push-offs. I did 2 x 100 warm up (had to fool with my suit’s drawstring), 500 in just under 9, 5 x 100 fist on 2, 5 x (25 catch-up, 25 free) on 1, 5 x (25 breast pull, 25 free) on 1:10, 100 paddle, 100 free, 100 paddle, 200 free in 8:38.

Posts: Lighthearted.

Frivolous and Humorous

Guess who I have as a new facebook friend?

That’s right. 🙂

Oh yes, Fernanda Keller remains one of the top women triathletes.

What an adorable male green frog (rana clamitans)

Political Humor
Some bumper stickers:

Yeah, sure. 🙂

I saw this on a pick up truck…in Illinois. 🙂

How would you like to have this dinner party?

From here (he names all of them; he correctly identifies 4 of these as “giants”).
(hat tip: Friendly Atheist)

April 13, 2010 Posted by | bikinis, Blogroll, Friends, frogs, humor, injury, nature, political humor, politics, politics/social, republicans, sarah palin, science, spandex, superstition, swimming, training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment