Farewell to June 2011: a pain in the butt

Workout notes
My shoulder ached just a little bit last night (sleeping on the floor?) so I decided to skip swimming today. Instead I did a 2 mile run, 2 mile walk plus yoga around the hike and bike trail.
Result: the 2 mile run, while slow, was nice and steady. I was ok with it given the heat. Then I walked and right at about 36 minutes (3.5 miles) the butt fired up (minor tingles otherwise). This wasn’t severe pain, but the butt had reached its current limit.

Hence 25-30 minutes will be my limit in the near future; the idea is to stop before this happens. Note: I was somewhat sore from doing…and this is embarrassing to admit, lunges with tiny weights. So those will have to be a part of my routine. I know what to do.

So, my plan will be 3-4 swims (1500 to 2200 yards each), 3-4 easy runs (2 miles), 3-4 easy walks (12-14 minutes per mile, 2-3 miles), 2 yoga classes, 2 upper body weight sessions, 2 lower body weight sessions (can be combined with the upper body weight session. All of these workouts will be between 30-60 minutes each, and I’ll probably double up on these; perhaps two from this mix every day. I’ll attempt to do this for a 2-3 months with an eye to working up to being able to start training again.

I won’t aim for a goal event in 2011 but instead shoot for something in 2012. But I admit that I’d love to do the McNotAgain trail 30 miler at the end of October, if possible. But I’ll be doing that in a “just finish” mode.


(click on the thumbnail to see the full photo)

This is a nice set of poses; if you read the caption I get a nice “shout out” (one of the links is to one of my photos). It is always nice to see the enthusiasm spread. 🙂

This is an uplifting article about frogs; there are many cute photos here. Here is but one of them:

The site contains excellent photographs of many species of Bornean frogs. What struck me most is the resemblance of many of the depicted species to Central American frogs, especially the Costa Rican ones with which I am most familiar. Our toad friend above reminds me of the gracile-limbed Central American toads of the genus Atelopus. (Superb photos of the various Costa Rican frogs mentioned can be found in Jay Savage’s magisterial The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica [see references] and at Costa Rican Frogs, a site I just discovered.). The following one is a more typical-looking toad, resembling various Central American Bufo.

Upshot: though evolution is mostly driven by reproductive successes (given some random factors), what survives in a given region is, in part, determined by the nature of the region. Hence if you have several ecologically similar regions that are so far apart that there is no gene transfer between the living organisms in those regions, those organisms will evolve in similar ways. Hence genetically distinct organisms will end up looking similar to each other and behaving in similar ways.

Evolution of the eye This is an interesting article about a recent discovery and what is says about the evolution of eyesight (by Matthew Cobb).

Take this Bible quiz. I got 37 out of 50 questions right, though I admit that at least one of the questions was “dirty pool”; take the quiz to find out.

Here is a tool by which one can see which colleges are the most expensive (sticker tuition and net tuition) by category.

Politics I saw some of the Obama press conference. The House Democrats seem pleased.

June 30, 2011 Posted by | Barack Obama, biology, Democrats, education, evolution, Friends, frogs, injury, political/social, politics, politics/social, science, shoulder rehabilitation, swimming, training, walking, yoga | Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann Compares Herself to John Wayne – The Colbert Report – 6/28/11 – Video Clip | Comedy Central video – If Michele Bachman shows weakness, her critics will circle like sharks — or psycho-sexual serial killers.

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June 29, 2011 Posted by | political humor | 3 Comments

29 June 2011 am

Shoulder: got sore last night, but not like the “wake me up with pain” type soreness of days past. It might be from sleeping on the floor; I might try using a mattress tonight (on the floor; the springs are shot).

Swimming: I backed off today; I did one lap of kick/swim, one lap of drill/swim (3g, fist drills), one lap of breast/free and finally one lap of free. It was a bit more crowded as I got a later start; still I spent only 4 more minutes in the water.

Lifting: I got a one day pass to the South Austin Gym to lift. The gym is basic; for example there is no glute push-back nor an abductor machine; there is an adductor one though.
But I was able to do some PT, (and did some shoulder PT a the pool with a stretch band)
sit ups: 4 sets of 30
Hammer rows: 3 sets of 10 with 200
pull down: 15 x 130, 12 x 140, 12 x 140
incline bench: 10 x 115, 8 x 135, 6 x 135, 5 x 135
curls (dumbbell): 3 sets of 10 with 35
curls: 1 set of 10 with EZ curl bar
lunges: 2 sets of 10 each leg step forward, 2 sets of 10 each leg step back.
Some yoga, headstand, etc.

It wasn’t crowded (7:20 or so) and only one woman showed up. They had aerobic machines but I didn’t use them.

Leonard Pitts: has a message for President Obama and his “evolving position” on gay marriage: “evolve faster”. Overall he has been good on gay rights:

Obama has been a good president where gay issues are concerned, has supported anti-hate crimes legislation and the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” But marriage equality is the Rubicon he has not yet brought himself to cross. He should start crossing.

Not that doing the right thing should be a matter of public opinion, but support for marriage equality is climbing toward the majority. Voices of fear are being shouted down, winds of change are blowing and we approach a crossroads of possibility where the need for leadership is critical.

Two words of advice, then, for President Obama:

Evolve faster.

Religion and society
Friendly Atheist talks about a decision that a church made about a billboard that is on property that it owns:

Meredith Heagney at The Columbus Dispatch has a few extra tidbits regarding how the Christ Cathedral Church removed the following harmless billboard from its property because it featured an atheist […]

The Rev. Waymon Malone ordered it removed, said Carolyn Kelley, his mother-in-law. Malone and his wife, Kimberlee, were out of town today and could not be reached for comment.

“It upset him because of what it said,” Kelley said. “It said we don’t need God, and we’re at church, so we do need God.”

Actually, it said you don’t need god to be good. While it’s true that you don’t need god, period, this particular billboard wasn’t a shot at Christians who believe in superstition.

Of course, the church had the right to do what it did. No argument there. I am not even saying “they shouldn’t have”. I am saying that some religious people ARE threatened by us.

Here is another example, this time from a member of Congress:

GOP Rep. Todd Akin (MO) came under fire this week after he declared, “The heart of liberalism really is a hatred of God.” Several religious leaders blasted Akin for contorting religious faith into a political attack. Rabbi Jim Bennett of Congregation Shaare Emeth in St. Louis, Missouri scolded Akin for his “grotesque” attack and for making “a mockery of his own understanding of these liberal values and of God.” Unitarian Rev. Krista Taves of St. Louis told Akin, “You know very little about liberals, and sadly enough, you also seem to know very little about God and his son Jesus.”

Despite the blowback, Akin is flatly refusing to apologize. Akin told KMOX yesterday that, “to be a little more precise,” liberals have “a hatred for public references for God.” When asked whether he’d apologize to groups insulted by his words, Akin scoffed, stating “I’m not going to apologize for what I see liberalism doing in trying take God out”:

AKIN: No, I don’t think there’s anything to apologize for. I think I can clarify that I was talking about public references, too. I think that clarifies it a little bit. But there’s just such a historic pattern there, that I think that it probably could’ve been clarified but no, I’m not going to apologize for what I see liberalism doing in trying to take God out.

I don’t know if this guy actually believes what he says. But I’ll say this: I am for freedom of speech. If you want to talk about your deity, you can do so. Here is where the line is drawn: if you are at some public event (say a public school graduation) you have no right to hold others as a captive audience to your prayers, no matter what deity you pray to. And yes, the Pledge of Allegiance was stronger before the “under God” part was added in the 1950’s. Not everyone believes in your deity.

Again, it is the “captive audience” at an event that is being run by a government agency that should be guarded against. For example, if a public school gives space for extra-curricular activities and the Bible study group wants a room, they should be treated the same as, say, the 4-H group or the Math club. Just don’t lead the class in a sectarian prayer.

June 29, 2011 Posted by | atheism, Barack Obama, civil liberties, religion, shoulder rehabilitation, social/political, swimming, travel, weight training | Leave a comment

Jon Stewart To Fox News: Herman Cain Joke Wasn’t Offensive (VIDEO)

On Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” Jon Stewart continued his “fun, light hearted and extremely productive conversation” with Fox News about “which one of us is the biggest a**hole,” as he so bluntly put it.

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June 29, 2011 Posted by | Fox News Lies Again, political humor | Leave a comment

Daily Kos: Jon Stewart again takes on Chris Wallace’s excuses for Fox News

Conservatives: poor widdle victims! 🙂

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June 28, 2011 Posted by | political humor | Leave a comment

Scott McCellan: What Happened

This is the book

Basic take: I found this to be a heart-felt, honest critique of not only the Bush administration but also of the current political culture.

The idea: whereas the “moderate liberal” view of the pre-TARP Bush administration is basically correct (e. g., the Bush administration bungled Katrina and used exaggerated interpretations of shaky intelligence to get us into the Iraq war; a war that President Bush basically wanted on “bring democracy to the Middle East” grounds and searched for an excuse to launch), the players in the administration were NOT inherently evil people, though some did some immoral things (e. g. lie)

Rather they were people who were caught up in a political system that has gotten so out of control that the political players are highly discouraged from having the candid policy debates with those who have different viewpoints; conceding that someone else might have a good point puts one at a big disadvantage in an atmosphere which is a constant campaign of “trying to win”.

One quibble: I think that part of our current partisan atmosphere comes from the fact that the two sides really don’t have that much that they agree on; the differences are stark and real.

I can recommend the book, though it is my guess that some conservatives will see Mr. McCelellan as some sort of “kiss and tell” traitor. After all, he talks about how disappointed that President Bush didn’t operate the way that he did when he was governor of Texas.

Those who grew up around the University of Texas and the Austin area will enjoy some of his recollections; I remember voting for his mother’s opponent in the US Congressional election when Jake Pickle was running.

The book is dated as it is pre-TARP. Still, I can recommend it.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | books, political/social, politics, politics/social | 1 Comment

28 June 2011 AM: Back to Barton Springs

Workout notes 1 mile swim in 38:15 (relaxed; very slow for me). Water was 68 F (20 C) and that slows you down some. But mostly my shoulder was oh-so-slightly sore from the long drive and so I had to protect it; hence I swam easily. I got there at 6 am and didn’t have much trouble with crowding; when it gets light the triathletes show up. When I was there it was mostly me, a couple of dedicated lap swimmers and old hippies. One fast swimmer did blow past me though.

My butt-piriformis is starting to feel ok; I should be able to resume walking and running next week.

Posts There will be a little of everything today.

Computer/phone passwords: people really don’t do a good job setting these up. Here is an easy to understand article:

Naturally, 1234 is the most common passcode: mimicking the most common internet passwords. To put this into perspective, these 10 codes represent 15% of all passcodes in use. Most of the top passcodes follow typical formulas, such as four identical digits, moving in a line up/down the pad, repetition. 5683 is the passcode with the least obvious pattern, but it turns out that it is the number representation of LOVE (5683), once again mimicking a very common internet password: “iloveyou.”

Interestingly, 1990-2000 are all in the top 50, and 1980-1989 are all in the top 100. I would interpret this occurrence as a subset of users that set their passcodes to the year of their birth or graduation. […]

Formulaic passwords are never a good idea, yet 15% of all passcode sets were represented by only 10 different passcodes (out of a possible 10,000). The implication? A thief (or just a prankster) could safely try 10 different passcodes on your iPhone without initiating the data wipe. With a 15% success rate, about 1 in 7 iPhones would easily unlock–even more if the intruder knows the users’ years of birth, relationship status, etc.

(hat tip: Schneier)

So, what should one do when one has trouble remembering a password? Personally, I take a mathematical concept that is easy to remember (for me), take an invariant from that concept (a number or string of numbers and letters) and then apply an easy to remember cipher algorithm to it. That way I can easily remember the password (combination) but it isn’t one of the “obvious” ones.

Sure, a professional could crack it, but …why would they want to? Mine is designed to send the casual hacker off to something a bit more accessible.

Politics Mano Singham is more cynical than I am. But I see his prediction for the 2012 election as largely correct; the tea-party will torpedo the Republican candidate and big money is actually ok with President Obama. Jon Huntsman? He is probably going to position himself as the “adult” GOP candidate for 2016.

Sure a Republican could win in 2012, but Intrade has Obama at 57 percent and I see that as about right. He was at 61 percent a couple of weeks after killing Bin Laden.

Social/Political I showed a map of life expectancy by region of the country:

Teacherken at Daily Kos talks about this; here is a key point:

The Deep South and Appalachia – the former still the base of many Blacks, the latter a part of America that has never fully caught up.

The Washington U researchers determined that if the health risk factors of smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes could be brought under control, life expectancy could be improved by five years for men and four for women.

I see all of those factors in Appalachia each time I volunteer. I know they are also paralleled in many of our inner cities. It may seem counter-intuitive, but obesity is very common among those of lower income, as they fill their bellies with cheap starchy and fatty foods. Hypertension and diabetes are also quite common. In Appalachia many still smoke, and many of those who don’t chew tobacco.

But if you surf to the diary you’ll see the title: “Proof we do NOT have the world’s best health care system”.

This is where one gets into an argument with many conservatives. Conservatives would argue that we do have the best health care system because its upper bound is high; that is, if you take care of yourself (stay at a healthy weight, don’t smoke and get regular exercise) AND if you have a job that has health insurance, then you do have an excellent health care system.

And yes, we have great doctors, medical technology and research.

Our argument is that the health care system isn’t a good one since so many don’t have non-emergency access to it and healthy lifestyles don’t extend to most who are in poverty (though the conservative would say “whose fault is that?”).
I say: it costs money to eat in a healthy manner, and it is easier to practice a healthy life-style if you have a bit of money. For example: I eat lots of fresh fruit (relatively expensive, at least in most places), juice (expensive). I also live close enough to work to walk (higher tax area) and close enough to a park to have easy access to exercise (higher tax area). I have health insurance that pays for a wellness check-up and my employer provides a low cost gym and pool. Not everyone has these advantages, though our local park district provides gym scholarships for the poor (to a gym that I frequently use; yes, I belong to two gyms 🙂 )

Climate What is causing our crazy weather? Answer: a very naughty jet-stream, which isn’t being contained by La nina or El nino (La nada? ).

Philosophy/atheism Jerry Coyne talks Mano Singham’s article about the meaning of the word “atheist” and “agnostic”. I like this:

Singham’s solution: deep-six the term “agnostic,” and redefine “atheist” to eliminate these ambiguities:

atheist: One for whom god is an unnecessary explanatory concept.

He explains the advantages:

This definition leaves little room for agnostics because they will have to answer the question as to whether they think God is necessary as an explanatory concept for anything. If they say “no”, they are in the same camp as atheists. If they say “yes”, they are effectively religious and would be required to show where the necessity arises.

Although this sounds like a rhetorical strategy to force people to admit they’re atheists, I actually like it. It subsumes in a logical way both people like P.Z., who don’t think there can be evidence for a god because the very concept is incoherent, and people like me, who think that in principle there could be evidence for a god, but none has appeared.

Coyne goes on to say that this leaves out the deists who don’t believe in an intervening deity but believe that one is there anyway.

Me: “who cares”? If a deity doesn’t intervene in the events of this universe, why is its existence an important question anyway?

My view: “I see no evidence that would lead me to consider the existence of a deity that intervenes in our universe.”
That’s really it. I reject all of the deities that I have heard of, but it MIGHT be possible that there is some deity that I haven’t heard of that does exist, though if this deity is believed, it might be the deity of some other sentient being in some other galaxy for all I know.

I see things like prayer, meditation and yoga as things that could be useful for the individual that uses them but I don’t see them as having an effect beyond those doing the action and those who know about the prayers (e. g. it might make someone else feel good to hear “I am praying for you” in the same manner that “I am thinking of you” helps).

June 28, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, atheism, Barack Obama, environment, health, health care, political/social, politics, politics/social, poverty, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, shoulder rehabilitation, swimming, training, travel | Leave a comment

Good Point/Other Point – Ted Nugent vs. Millennials – The Colbert Report – 6/27/11 – Video Clip | Comedy Central video – Tea Party darling and 70s rock ‘n’ roll participant Ted Nugent finds today’s youth ‘terminally stoned on apathy,’ which is a gateway drug.

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June 28, 2011 Posted by | political humor | Leave a comment

27 June 2011 am

I am planning on doing some yoga before resuming my trip.
Here are a few articles that struck my fancy:

Peoria “wild youth mob” update: according to an update in the Peoria Journal Star (which I linked to), there were some exaggerations, especially about the racial aspect. According to my city council representative, the person making the complaints has a history of such exaggerations.

Still, “where were the parents?”

Civil liberties The terrorists must be laughing at us:

The Transportation Security Administration doesn’t think its agents did anything wrong in asking an elderly woman with cancer to remove her adult diaper during an aiport security screening.

The agency came under fire after Florida woman Jean Weber claimed her 95-year-old mother was forced to take off her diaper for a pat down at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport last weekend.

“It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” Weber told the Northwest Florida Daily News.

I’m not sure as to how this is making us safer.

Logic/Argumentation One of the problems with the internet is that sometimes those who come in to discuss an issue really don’t understand the facts OR logic. For example, if you say “at this time, austerity is unimportant” some think that you are saying it is ok to run a large debt. No. What many of us are saying is that getting people back to work and getting demand back up is a higher priority AT THIS TIME, given that cash is available but demand is low and unemployment is too high and not coming down.

Paul Krugman deals with that here.

Odds and Ends
These passages started me on my journey to becoming an atheist. However I passed through a “non-literal-reading of the Bible” phase first. I suppose that what shocked me was those who told me what a great book the Bible was; when I read it for myself I saw a book describing backwards, superstitious people. I was repulsed.

President Obama and progressives If you mostly approve of President Obama, move past the title of this Daily Kos diary. Here are some major points that it makes:

Barack Obama has failed progressives in every arena. Although it’d be preferable to unseat Obama with a primary challenger in time for 2012, because none has stepped forward (tic toc…), it would be beneficial to the progressive movement in the long term for Obama to lose the Presidency in 2012.

Yes, some progressives really believe this.

I firmly believe President Obama’s leadership style is at the heart of the conflict. Activists, by their nature, are ideological. They can be rigid and unyielding, vigorous and vociferous. They may be emotional, irascible, intense, fiery, and impassioned. President Obama is none of these things. And because nobody apparently read Audacity of Hope, conflict ensues.

All of us have tremendous difficulty explaining complex and conflicted emotions, and we tend to resort to simple schemes when confounded. In my opinion, challenges to the President’s Leadership are often an exasperation with his leadership style. I confess that I often find his style infuriating. But disagreements over complex issues of leadership style have been allowed to degenerate on the left into false dichotomies. Revisionism then takes hold, and some on the left espouse a meme of Obama as a Capitulator-in-Chief; in essence, the anti-activist who stands for nothing, accomplishes nothing, and caves for everything. Crossroads GPS sincerely thanks us.

But we’re talking about the man, after all, who not only resurrected Healthcare Reform from the political grave after Sen. Scott Brown’s victory, at a huge political cost to him and his party, but then staked a Presidency on a risky commando mission in the Middle East. Why? Because millions of people are victimized by insurance companies every day. Because the entire world was safer the moment Osama bin Laden left it. That is cold, hard Leadership, even if executed in a style that grates our nerves and does not achieve all our end desires.

And Barack Obama would not be the first anti-activist President. It is said that he has a fondness for President Lincoln, another President whose opinion on a matter of civil rights famously “evolved” at a glacial pace for the day, who could be pensive, cold, rational, and detached.

I think that this is the meat of it. The President and activists have different jobs to do. The President has always said that change starts from the bottom and moves up. So if there is something we feel strongly about, it is up to US to clamor for that change and set the atmosphere to make it happen; the President can coordinate stuff from the top once there is a movement established BY US.

The Tea Party, as misguided as they are, seems to understand this, though they too seem to be falling into the “either you are for us 100 percent or against us” trap as well.

Fluff: fun with physical stuff
This is a fun article about a female professor who took up bodybuilding:

A University of Alberta professor who teaches the history of art, design and visual culture took her academic research to physical extremes this month as she covered her body in hemorrhoid ointment and bound her legs in plastic wrap.

The bodybuilders’ trick to make muscles stand out is one of the final and drastic measures Lianne McTavish took this past year as she lived out her research into competitive bodybuilding.

The already fit 43-year-old professor started her intense training last August to compete in the “women’s figure” category of the Northern Alberta Bodybuilding Championships, held in Edmonton June 4. At the same time, she documented her physical transformation under the name Feminist Figure Girl on a funny and cheeky blog peppered with profanity.

“Look hot while you fight the patriarchy,” is her tongue-in-cheek advice at the top of the blog.

Two days after McTavish posed on stage in a tiny bikini, big, blond hair extensions, gel nails and a spray-on tan, it was time for her blog’s big reveal — Feminist Figure Girl is also a university professor who decided to combine her identities as a scholar and “gym rat” and analyze the results.[…]

Tiny bikini: good. spray on tan: better than a cancer causing natural one, but hey, leave the dark skins for those of us who were born with them, ok?

Click on the thumbnail to see the full sized photo at the site.

Sports: how do we ensure that the rules are reasonable but fair? Some Muslim woman wants to participate in a weight lifting competition but wants to stay modest. Here is the issue: in weight lifting, the judges have to be able to see parts of the body to ensure that the lift is properly done (e. g., in weight lifting, the elbows have to be “locked out” on a snatch; in power lifting the hips have to remain touching the bench on a bench press and the thighs have to go below parallel with the floor on the squat). So this isn’t a simple case though I admit that I am growing weary of bending over backwards to cater to someone’s superstitions.

Fun yoga
From here.

Many more there.

June 27, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, atheism, Barack Obama, bikinis, civil liberties, Democrats, Peoria, Peoria/local, political/social, politics, politics/social, racism, religion, sports, superstition, yoga | 2 Comments

26 June 2011 PM: Muskogee, OK

Workout notes: 2200 yard swim prior to leaving: 5 x (alt fist/swim, 3g/swim)
10 x (25 k, 25 swim the ks were front, side, side, front, sfs)
5 x (25 free, 25 back, 25 breast, 25 free) on 2:20 (missed the last 2)
5 x 100 (alt 100 pull, 100 free)
200 fly kick with fins.

I made it to Muskogee; prior to that I stopped at a rest stop/McDonald’s over I-44 about 40-50 miles from the Missouri state line:

On the way down, I am listening to Scott McClellan’s book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. What is surprising to me is that this book seems to confirm a moderate liberal view of what happened in the Bush administration. What is also of interest is that he and I were both at the University of Texas at the same time (our stays overlapped). I’ve finished 6 of 10 CDs.

June 27, 2011 Posted by | books, swimming, training, travel | 1 Comment