blueollie

31 July 2010 posts

Workout notes afternoon hike at Wildlife Prairie Park with Olivia. She had to slow down for me…AGAIN. It took 1:03 to get from the trail start to the reptile house. So this was my usual “slow hike” pace.

We saw a lizard, a very slow (probably sick) field mouse and a black rat snake:

This isn’t our photo.

Economics: This is one reason I don’t believe in the “free market will fix it every time” gospel:

[…]As Professor Sum studied the data coming in from the recession, he realized that the carnage that occurred in the workplace was out of proportion to the economic hit that corporations were taking. While no one questions the severity of the downturn — the worst of the entire post-World War II period — the economic data show that workers to a great extent were shamefully exploited.

The recession officially started in December 2007. From the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2009, real aggregate output in the U.S., as measured by the gross domestic product, fell by about 2.5 percent. But employers cut their payrolls by 6 percent.

In many cases, bosses told panicked workers who were still on the job that they had to take pay cuts or cuts in hours, or both. And raises were out of the question. The staggering job losses and stagnant wages are central reasons why any real recovery has been so difficult.

“They threw out far more workers and hours than they lost output,” said Professor Sum. “Here’s what happened: At the end of the fourth quarter in 2008, you see corporate profits begin to really take off, and they grow by the time you get to the first quarter of 2010 by $572 billion. And over that same time period, wage and salary payments go down by $122 billion.”

That kind of disconnect, said Mr. Sum, had never been seen before in all the decades since World War II.

In short, the corporations are making out like bandits. Now they’re sitting on mountains of cash and they still are not interested in hiring to any significant degree, or strengthening workers’ paychecks. […]

Not that the “free market conservatives” that make so much noise really know that much:

Hoo boy. I missed this; but Yglesias points out that in Ezra Klein’s interview with Paul Ryan, Ryan says that the way to increase lending is to raise interest rates:

We need to do things to free up credit. We need regulatory forbearance there. Right now, the policymakers and regulators are doing opposite things. So you’re right that there’s a lot of capital parked out there, and we need to coax it out into the markets. I think literally that if we raised the federal funds rate by a point, it would help push money into the economy, as right now, the safest play is to stay with the federal money and federal paper.

I don’t even know where to start with this. What does Ryan think the fed funds rate is? (It’s the rate at which banks lend each other money overnight, usually to help meet reserve requirements.) He obviously doesn’t know the the Fed funds rate basically equals the return on federal paper, so that raising that rate would make banks more, not less, likely to stay with that federal paper. I’m sure someone will try to come up with a reason why Ryan is being smart here, but the truth is that he’s stone-cold ignorant.

Obama’s plans and the Bush Tax Cuts
The Wall Street Journal has a handy graph comparing the Bush tax cut rates with the Obama plan.

Political ads: Huffington Post has collected a few of them here (general election, general political, primary election) from both Republicans and Democrats.

Science and Cosmology here is an “open manifold for the space-time continuum” conjecture. That is, no big bang, no big crunch.

universe model

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July 31, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, astronomy, Barack Obama, dark energy, economy, hiking, knee rehabilitation, matter, physics, Political Ad, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, science, walking | Leave a comment

30 July 2010 (pm)

Paul Krugman: the President appears to bend over backwards to favor the opposition and to disrespect his base. I don’t think that is true; he is getting things turned in the right direction but appearances matter.

Science

Go here to see the presentation; it is excellent.

July 31, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, biology, nature, politics, politics/social, science | Leave a comment

30 July 2010: posts

Fun and Nature This is a “fun” series of photos of bears.

Politics Republican viral e-mails are often fact free.

More Republicans: this reads like something out of The Onion but…:

Iowa GOP Embraces Plan To Strip Obama’s Citizenship For Accepting Nobel Prize [UPDATE]

As we’ve already seen in Maine, some strange ideas are being folded into the emerging revisions of various state GOP platforms. But something truly bizarre is happening in Iowa.

Newsweek’s Jerry Adler has paged through some “387 enumerated planks” of the Republican Party of Iowa’s platform and, among the instances of “North American Union” paranoia and the upholding of manure as the only agricultural poop inveighed imbued by its creator with American exceptionalism, is a bizarre plan to strip President Barack Obama of his citizenship for accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. What the what?

As Adler explains, the Iowa GOP is calling for the “reintroduction and ratification of the original 13th amendment” of the Constitution. The first wrinkle here is that the current 13th Amendment is a rather important one: it bans slavery. But that’s the “bad optics” side of “Thirteentherism.” Here’s the side that is, as they say, “cray-cray” — this is, in part, what the original 13th amendment said:

“If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.”

That language was originally considered by the states in 1810 but, as Jason Hancock at the Iowa Independent points out, “The amendment was ratified by 12 states but never got the 13th state that it needed, and thus, never became law.”

This is the part where Obama, having accepted a Nobel Prize from the Nobel Committee — five people appointed by the Norwegian Parliament — gets stripped of his citizenship. Presumably, this takes care of all sorts of other Nobel laureates, like former President Jimmy Carter, author Toni Morrison, Energy secretary Steven Chu, and economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz. Have fun in your new home in Oslo, everyone!

Economics: what are the facts about this upcoming “expiration of the Bush tax cuts” about? Here is a list of the basics. The Democratic plan is to repeal the tax rate cutbacks on the wealthiest two brackets (250,000 dollars a year after deductions) and keep the other stuff (e. g., removal of the marriage penalty) in place.

July 30, 2010 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans politics | Leave a comment

Point/Counterpoint: Jim Webb and Tim Wise on affirmative action

Race and Affirmative Action

Senator James Webb: point:

The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.

Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.

I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America’s economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.

In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

How so?

Surf to the article to read.

Tim Wise: counterpoint (he said to spread his essay around so I will reproduce it here)

Webb of Deceit:
Racism, Affirmative Action and History as Misunderstood by a U.S. Senator

July 29, 2010

In this summer of white resentment, one would think it sufficient to have to suffer through the daily droning of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the rest of the crew at Fox News, or perhaps the dishonest machinations of professional liar and fear-pimp Andrew Breitbart.

What with their endless claims that the Obama Administration is out to get white people, by way of purposely destroying the economy, taxing the mostly white folks who go to tanning salons, and deliberately refusing to prosecute blacks who intimidate white voters–or with Brietbart’s hatchet-job on Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod–the right has been ramping up the reverse racism trope for the past few months.

But in what can only be considered either the worst timing in history, or the most obviously cynical attempt ever made by a politician to pander to the fears of his mostly white voter base, the banner of anti-white bias has been raised yet again, and this time by a Democrat, U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

In a July 22 Wall Street Journal column, entitled “Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege,” Webb–who fashions himself something of an historian–shows his ignorance not only about the history of the country he serves as a lawmaker, but also about its present-day reality.

Denying White Privilege is Easy When You Don’t Understand What it Means

The basic thrust of Webb’s essay–a broadside against government efforts to promote racial diversity in jobs, contracting and schools–is that affirmative action programs have strayed from their original purpose: to help repair the damage done by the system of African enslavement and Jim Crow segregation. While affirmative action’s intended beneficiaries were blacks who had been subjected to those systems and their descendants, Webb claims that in the last forty years these efforts have experienced a form of “mission creep,” which now leads them to support virtually any person of color, including recent immigrants. As Webb puts it, diversity measures help anyone who “does not happen to be white.” He is especially enraged about the way in which white working class folks have been “passed over” by these newcomers to the country, having never benefitted from government programs on their behalf, because they are presumably the wrong color. And this has happened, according to Webb because lawmakers have long viewed whites as a “monolith” of privilege and advantage, rather than a diverse bunch, within which significant class cleavages remain.

Although Webb does not advocate the complete abolition of affirmative action–indeed he suggests it is still needed and valid for African Americans–his call to exclude other people of color from such efforts, and his rhetorical narrative about the “myth” of white privilege and advantage, are both sufficiently problematic to require a response. Indeed, if he is right about the latter, the entire basis for affirmative action, even for black folks, is undermined.

Early on in his screed, Webb exudes a bizarre uncertainty as to whether white privilege ever really existed, when he claims that during the civil rights struggle, the “supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America.” Are we to believe–and does the Senator–that this white dominance was just a figment of black folks’ fevered imaginations, even prior to the passage of civil rights protections?

Given Webb’s emphasis throughout the column on class divisions within white America, perhaps he believes that the existence of white poverty somehow disproves the notion that whites have privilege relative to blacks and other people of color. But if so, this would mean than even during the period of enslavement, there was no white privilege, since there have always been poor white folks: a strange conclusion, but one that Webb would virtually have to endorse if we follow his logic to its ultimate conclusion. Like most white Americans, Webb misunderstands what the term white privilege is meant to convey. It is not meant to suggest that all whites lead privileged lives of affluence and absolute well-being. Rather, it is meant to convey that relative to people of color, being white generally provides advantages, head starts and opportunities not as readily available to others. Just as male privilege does for men, relative to women, even though there are millions of men who are poor. Just as able-bodied privilege does for the able-bodied, relative to the disabled, even though there are plenty of able-bodied people who are out of work and struggling too.

Regardless, even if one accepts that such institutionalized white privilege was real back in the day, Webb insists that now “WASP elites have fallen by the wayside.” As evidence he cites no less an authority than Pat Buchanan and Buchanan’s recent lamentation that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court there would be no Protestants on the nation’s highest judicial bench. Of course, religious affiliation says nothing about race, and indeed the Court would remain–as is true for every other institution in the country, like say, Webb’s own Senate–overwhelmingly white. To make whiteness about WASPs and WASPs alone is disingenuous and surely Webb knows it. Although some Catholics (Irish and Italian especially) were once the targets of invidious discrimination, over time they matriculated into the club of whiteness and have come out the other end as part of a larger white society that continues to have advantages over people of color.

…and it’s Even Easier When You Refuse to Read Data

To drive home his point that there is no monolithic whiteness and that many whites struggle economically and socially, as with people of color, Webb conjures the historic plight of Irish Protestants (also known as, and referenced in Webb’s highly regarded book on this group as, the Scots-Irish). But to compare the economic condition of the Scots-Irish to that of people of color, requires Webb to utterly ignore the readily available data on Scots-Irish well being, compared to that of blacks or Latinos. According to 2006 Census Bureau figures, whites of Scots-Irish descent over the age of 25 are more than twice as likely as comparable blacks to have at least a Bachelor’s Degree, and nearly five times as likely as comparable Mexican-Americans to have finished college. Compared to African Americans, the Scots-Irish are less than half as likely to be unemployed, less than one-third as likely to be poor, nearly 70 percent more likely to work in professional or managerial jobs, and their families have a median income nearly twice as high. Compared to Mexican-Americans (among those recent immigrants for whom Webb begrudges affirmative action because it ostensibly hurts struggling whites), the hardscrabble Scots-Irish are 35 percent less likely to be out of work, less than a third as likely to be poor, more than three times as likely to work in professional or managerial jobs, and their families have median incomes that are nearly twice as high.

Although it is true that most Asian sub-groups have higher family incomes and lower poverty rates than whites (and perhaps this is what most upsets Webb, if and when Asian Americans benefit from affirmative action, as happens in contracting or employment occasionally), they are not doing well compared to whites once we control for the geographic placement of whites and Asians throughout the country. So, because Asians are concentrated in a handful of states (Hawaii, California, and New York) that have higher incomes than the national average and higher costs of living, aggregate Asian income will be higher than the same for whites, who are spread throughout the United States. But when whites and Asians in the same state or community are compared, whites earn far higher incomes and have lower rates of poverty. Indeed, within the same cities, Asian poverty rates tend to be double the rate for whites. Likewise, when we compare whites and Asians with comparable educations, whites earn anywhere from 14-28 percent more than their Asian American counterparts.

Although Webb insists that “a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers,” he fails to name even one of these policies, let alone demonstrate how it can be blamed for marginalizing whites in the labor market. Given persistent unemployment rates for people of color that are always higher than the rates for whites (even at the same levels of education and qualification), it becomes a bit hard to swallow the notion that whites are being displaced to any significant degree by something like affirmative action. And while there would be nothing wrong with adding economic considerations to affirmative action programs so as to help whites who are economically marginalized, it is surely unnecessary to attack race-based opportunity efforts in order to do so.

Webb then insists that diversity efforts have “allowed” recent immigrants to jump ahead of whites with roots in the nation going back hundreds of years. But in fact, those immigrants of color who have higher incomes and educational attainment rates than whites (largely recent Asian immigrants or African immigrants) typically come with pre-existing class and schooling advantages. It is not because of affirmative action that they are able to “jump ahead” of anyone.

For immigrants generally, and contrary to Webb’s suggestions to the contrary, discrimination continues to limit opportunity, thereby making deliberate efforts at inclusion necessary. For instance, one recent study found that immigrants with the lightest skin shade (typically European) make about 15 percent more, on average, than immigrants with the darkest skin shades, even when only looking at persons who have the same level of education, experience and observed productivity. Similarly, research indicates that hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans and Latinos are discriminated against in the job market each year, and that such folks experience discrimination in about one out of three job searches. Although Webb notes high rates of Chinese American college completion, presumably to suggest that Asians are doing just fine without deliberate efforts at inclusion, he conveniently overlooks the evidence indicating that Chinese Americans with professional status positions still earn only about 56 percent as much as their white counterparts, despite having higher average educational attainment.

Don’t Know Much About History: Jim Webb Misrepresents America’s Past

But it’s not only the current racial reality that Webb fails to appreciate. His understanding of history is equally as blinkered. While the Senator is correct that many advocated affirmative action specifically as a way to respond to the legacy of enslavement and Jim Crow, it is simply false that the only reason for such efforts was to repair the damage done by these historic injustices against African Americans. Both the legislative and legal history of affirmative action efforts make clear that just as important was the sense that in the absence of deliberate efforts at inclusion, people of color would continue to be excluded from opportunity in the present. Old boy’s networks for jobs and contracts were so tightly dominated by whites (irrespective of qualifications), and private sector job selection criteria were so subjective and skewed to the benefit of whites, that both lawmakers and courts realized more would be needed than mere passive non-discrimination.

And although blacks certainly have faced different obstacles than other persons of color, it is simply historically illiterate to suggest, as Webb does, that those injustices have “no parallel in our history.” Indigenous North Americans would likely beg to differ, though the Senator shows no indication of having given first nation’s peoples even a fleeting thought in his condemnation of diversity efforts. Even Webb’s insistence that “those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government,” is so utterly inaccurate as to call into question his basic understanding of the nation’s past, to say nothing of its present.

First, these immigrants did face discrimination in the sense that they were routinely blocked from even entering the country, because of blatantly racist immigration laws, in place from the 1880s to 1965. Secondly, Mexican Americans are descended from those who had half of their country stolen by the United States, in a racist war of aggression that we started on false pretense. During the Great Depression, as many as a million Mexicans and Mexican Americans (60 percent of them citizens of the United States) were forcibly expelled from the country so as to free up job opportunities for whites. In the 1950s, tens of thousands more were removed from the nation under “Operation Wetback,” including thousands of children whose birth in the United States made them legal citizens. From the 1940s to the 1960s, millions more were exploited by agribusiness interests under the “bracero” program which allowed migrant labor to enter the U.S. from Mexico but then paid lower wages than had been originally agreed to, and refused to pay workers the money that was withheld from their paychecks for mandatory savings accounts.

Likewise, Chinese labor was used, exploited and often worked to death in the United States, brought in to help construct the railroads without which the transcontinental economy could never have emerged. Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps during World War Two, and Southeast Asians who fled to the U.S. in the post-Vietnam War era watched as this country dropped millions of tons of bombs on their nations, poisoning their countrysides with chemical agents and killing millions of people in the process. That we might owe a debt to those whose nations and communities we have helped to collectively wreck over the years seems to escape Webb, though it would likely register fairly clearly on the moral scales of most philosophers, or merely those with a more developed ethical code than that which is typical for far too many lawmakers.

Even worse is Webb’s suggestion that whites, unlike these newcomers of color, have never been the “beneficiaries of special government programs.” The level of historical ignorance necessary to render a judgment such as this is stunning, and should forever disqualify Senator Webb from being taken seriously by anyone with an interest in truth. Whites, of course, have benefitted more from “special government programs” than members of any other racial group. Indeed, for most of our nation’s history it was whites benefitting from these efforts to the exclusion of persons of color.

Among the “special programs” about which Jim Webb appears to know or care nothing, one might include the Homestead Act (which gave out over 200 million acres of virtually free land to whites, beginning in the 1860s), several key programs of the New Deal, from which blacks were mostly excluded for years, but which saved millions of struggling whites–such as the Federal Housing Administration loan program, which by 1960 was being used to finance 40 percent of all white housing–and the GI Bill, which in theory was meant for all returning veterans, but which in practice favored whites, since segregation was allowed to trump the “right” of black and brown GIs to use their job or educational benefits under the program. These and other programs suggest the greatest irony in critiques of affirmative action: namely, that the nation has been engaged in affirmative action for whites virtually forever. But only now has the specter of “preferential treatment” become a problem.

Conclusion: The Best Evidence That Webb’s Column is Political Hackery

Based on his faulty understanding of history and apparent inability to decipher the ongoing evidence of racism in the contemporary period, Webb concludes that although the nation has a “continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end.” But what is most telling about this policy directive, and Webb’s larger narrative about the way affirmative action has spread beyond its original intent is what he appears unwilling to say directly. Because if there were any case to be made for affirmative action having undergone mission creep in recent decades, it would not be with regard to the inclusion of people of color other than blacks. After all, it was the recognition that racism remained a real and persistent problem, requiring more than mere civil rights laws, which animated all early supporters of affirmative action. Rather, the only possible case for mission creep would be with regard to the way in which white women have reaped a disproportionate share of the benefits from such efforts. While one can certainly make the case–and I would, and have–that institutionalized sexism against women as women makes sex and gender considerations legitimate within affirmative action programs, this would seem a more logical target for the Senator’s ire, if indeed the purpose of his column had been to highlight the excesses of a program gone wrong.

By remaining entirely silent on this subject–and thereby making sure not to anger up to half of his white voter base (a far larger segment of his constituency than Asians and Latinos)–Webb shows himself to be an opportunistic political hack, exploiting white fears and anxieties about “reverse racism,” all the while glossing over the enormous dividends paid to white families via affirmative action, by opening opportunities to white mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.

He should be ashamed. But he won’t be. Fear pays, and Jim Webb has plenty of inventory.

Tim Wise is the author of five books on race. His latest is Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2010).

July 30, 2010 Posted by | politics, politics/social, racism | Leave a comment

30 July 2010 knee rehabilitation

Workout: will be updated later. Update: 30 minutes on the bike.

Physical Therapy: went fine; 0 on the straighten, 132 on the bent. But the 132 was not comfortable. So, I have to work on the range of motion. The knee swelling is way down; on the assisted stretching, there was no pain in the joint itself but rather in the muscles, ligaments and tendons.

So, I’ve got to do more yoga-type stuff (seated forward fold, etc.)

Shoulder: achy at night; can’t tell whether or not it is from the rotator cuff exercises or the grass cutting.

July 30, 2010 Posted by | injury, knee rehabilitation | Leave a comment

She’s BAAACK!!! Palin’s new book…

After reading her first book, I wonder what material could she possibly have for a second?

My prediction: it will read something like this:

“President Barack Obama along with his elitist socialist comrades Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are leading this country to disaster with its pursuit of secular socialist policies. They will bankrupt our country and take away our freedom.

What we need now is a return to the common sense conservative Christian values that made our country great, just like President Reagan did!

Be prepared for a heard of Pink Elephants; mama grizzlies if you will. A mom knows when something is wrong. And we are the moms!
I am just an ordinary hockey mom who wants to take my country for my kids! Even my kids know that you can’t spend more money when you are in debt!

And we will win, provided the liberal elite granola eating, Birkenstock wearing biased lamestream media reports the truth about the liberal Democrats in power with their anti-free market, radical socialist President and members of Congress!”

July 30, 2010 Posted by | books, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, sarah palin | Leave a comment

29 July 2010 knee rehabilitation

Workout 33 minutes walking (about 2 miles); said “hi” to a guy trying to walk after hip replacement surgery. Then I went to the gym; I did straighteners with the pulley, rotator cuff set, then stair master (50 floors; just under 12 minutes and over 1 mile), bike (10 minutes), abs (100 reps combined from: leg lifts, crunches, twists, scissors) and then stretching at home (some assisted by Olivia).

Shoulder: less ache last night; I had to fuss with my position.

The knee is slightly sore from yesterday (the PT said that it would be); I noticed the difference in hardness of the sidewalk, road and yesterday’s trail.

July 29, 2010 Posted by | injury, knee rehabilitation, training, walking | Leave a comment

29 July 2010 (am)

Friends: they not only make you feel good, but they actually keep you healthier:

A long lunch out with co-workers or a late-night conversation with a family member might seem like a distraction from other healthy habits, such as going to the gym or getting a good night’s sleep. But more than 100 years’ worth of research shows that having a healthy social life is incredibly important to staying physically healthy. Overall, social support increases survival by some 50 percent, concluded the authors behind a new meta-analysis.

The benefit of friends, family and even colleagues turns out to be just as good for long-term survival as giving up a 15-cigarette-a-day smoking habit. And by the study’s numbers, interpersonal social networks are more crucial to physical health than exercising or beating obesity.

A few examples from my own life: recently, I had meniscus surgery on my knee. My wife had been scheduled to be out of town on that day, but I had a good friend that I could call on to take me to and from the doctor’s office; she was with me when I woke up. That felt good.

I frequently attend races even when I am not sharp; it is mostly because I train alone and value the company and the people I see.

I’ve also made time to go places to run, walk and bike with friends. That took time, but that was time well spent.

Politics and models and their assumptions
Nate Silver has a way of rating the claim made by a political strategist: he uses Mark Penn units (he is the person who helped Hillary Clinton come from way ahead to lose the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008).

He rates the claim (made by some Democratic strategist) that the Democrats couldn’t lose control of the House at 3.5 Penns.
I think that Intrade, which has had the Republicans up 55-43 gets it about right; the Republican chances are a bit more than 50 percent.

Speaking of Statistics: this New Republic article slams a Washington Post article for giving “wow” numbers that are all but useless. If nothing else, this article reminds us to beware of articles that attempt to make points by using large numbers with no supporting context.

Chuckle:

Why should take their ideas seriously? 🙂

Climate Change Crock:

July 29, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, Democrats, Friends, politics, politics/social, science, statistics | Leave a comment

28 July 2010 pm

I spent a ton of time with the Going Rogue book review so this post will be mostly links to articles I found interesting.

Humor and Entertainment

Check out this “headstone win” from the Fail Blog. Hint: this person wanted his skin to be used as a saddle for lady’s horses. Why? 🙂

Also, here is a case where people go door to door…pushing atheism instead of religion. No, this isn’t the “annoy the Mormons” video; you can find that video here. 🙂

Do you LOVE Monty Python’s Life of Brian? If so, do you like music? If the answer is “yes” to both questions, then He is not the Messiah, He is a Very Naughty Boy is for you!

We rented it at Blockbuster and watched it twice!

Economics and Big Business

Robert Reich The BP fiasco is a perfect example of why corporations shouldn’t be treated like persons under the law.

Paul Krugman:
Too timid of a response to our current unemployment situation might lead to this becoming the new norm.

The President really shouldn’t listen to the right wing’s criticism of him; they said that he was “bashing business” when he said this:

So what’s the context? Here’s what Obama actually said:

Too much regulation or too much spending can stifle innovation, can hamper confidence and growth, and hurt business and families. A government that does too little can be just as irresponsible as a government that does too much — because, for example, in the absence of sound oversight, responsible businesses are forced to compete against unscrupulous and underhanded businesses, who are unencumbered by any restrictions on activities that might harm the environment, or take advantage of middle-class families, or threaten to bring down the entire financial system. That’s bad for everybody.

Kind of different, isn’t it? That’s only business-bashing if you believe that there’s no such thing as businesses who cut costs by ignoring the environmental impact of their activities, or take risks that end up endangering the financial system. If so, I wish I lived on your planet.

Krugman argued from the start that the stimulus was too small. This is how he new (e. g., the model and assumptions Krugman used to judge what should be adequate stimulus)

Here are rebuttals to the usual “the economy was great under Bush” statements from the right wing.

Politics
The right wing continues shamelessly lie and mislead. Shirley Shirrod said that someone was lynched. The right wing says that she lied…because the person she was talking about was beaten to death instead.

There is momentum to change the filibuster rules of the Senate.

Science
This is from Jerry Coyne’s blog and not Conservation Report. But it is some more animal camouflage. I couldn’t resist the title: the frogmouth owl. 🙂

What makes humans special? Well, one thing is that we masturbate and yes, that has an evolutionary reason.

Heat wave: we are having one. Yes, air conditioning saves lives. So, does this mean that modern humans have gone “soft”? Not really; in the days prior to air conditioning, people died from the heat.

Are modern humans neglecting to do something our ancestors did to survive the heat?
I think it’s always been a problem. There’s history over hundreds of years of people dying of heat. Philadelphia in 1776 had a major heat wave that caused deaths.

We’re also living to older ages, and we’re more urban now than we have been in the history of the human species. That intense crowding can combine with the heat island effect in big cities. Our elderly people are also more isolated than they have been in the past, so those factors can play a part, too.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the thing that they are most comfortable in predicting, that the science is most solid for, is the increase in many parts of the world in the duration and intensity of heat waves.

Gamma Ray Bursts: I’ve watched some lectures on black holes and their gamma ray bursts. Did you know that a close enough gamma ray burst can stop photosynthesis, at least for a short time? It is a good thing that a “close enough burst” is statistically unlikely in the foreseeable future.

Religion

Here is an interesting video featuring Christopher Hitchens. Note: the Life of Brian gets mentioned.

July 29, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, astronomy, atheism, Barack Obama, biology, blog humor, economy, entertainment, evolution, humor, movies, nature, obama, politics, politics/social, religion, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, science, social/political, space, Spineless Democrats, swimming | Leave a comment

28 July 2010 Knee Rehabilitation

Workout: 3.5 mile hike on the outer loop of the Forrest Park Nature Center with Olivia. We saw some wild turkeys. Afterward, we went to Spotted Cow where she had ice cream and I had a diet soda. Ah, the unfairness of age. 🙂

Prior to the hike I did some PT with the therapist: we did knee straighteners (I have to focus on keeping the foot flat and using my quad instead of my hip to straighten; this is opposite of the racewalk motion),
step ups,
step downs,
one foot balances on a pillow,
heel slides.
Then he measured my straightening (4 degrees).
Then he did some assisted passive stretching, and then took measurements: 0 on the straightening and 131 on the flexed; that is up from 2 and 126 last Friday.

I’d say that was some progress. Afterward, I felt great!
But this was the first therapy session where I had to breathe through discomfort/pain.

The bad: last night my shoulder simply killed me. I doesn’t hurt during the day, though I can’t do bench presses.
But when I wake up, move around, the pain goes away; I am not sure as to what is going on.

July 28, 2010 Posted by | family, hiking, injury, knee rehabilitation, training, walking | Leave a comment