Busy day today; I’ll be doing social events with my wife and daughter.
Last workout for 2012 was as follows: weights plus a 5.1 mile walk (1:10)
Weights: (not in this order) rotator cuff
adduction (3 sets of 10)
abduction (3 sets of 10)
lunges (3 sets of 10 forward and back)
sit ups: 6 sets of 20 at the highest incline (Riverplex)
Bench: 10 x 135, 4 sets of 2 x 170, 5 x 155
pull ups: 4 sets of 5 (two sets knuckles facing me, two sets shoulder friendly grip)
incline bench: 10 x 125, 7 x 125
military bench: standing, 10 x 80, 6 x 80, dumbbell: 10 x 40.
pull downs: 10 x 140, two sets of 6 x 160
curls: 3 sets of 10
rows: 3 sets; 10 x 45 on each side, two sets of 7 with 45 + 25 = 70 on each side (Riverplex machine)
Note: I got some nods and smiles from the other 2 50-something guys who were lifting; both were stronger than I; one was a LOT stronger than I; he was doing reps with 275 on the bench. Yeah, I could do that….back in 1992-1993…and I was a lot heavier then too.
My Goals for 2012:
1. Write another mathematics paper (beyond the one I have at the referees and one that I am getting ready to submit)
2. Start writing an expository mathematical work (teacher’s guide to differential equations or a “quantum mechanics for the mathematically literate pop-book)
3. Be working on reading a book at all times (books require more concentration than magazine/internet articles)
4. Run a sub 24 minute 5K on an “honest” course or track (point to point downhill courses don’t count)
5. Finish a marathon/50K (walking or running). Walking: sub 5:20. Running: sub 4:20.
6. Bench press 225
7. Swim 1000 in under 17 minutes (or 16:30 if that is too easy).
Yes, I rather like mathematics, but there is a difference between mathematics for its own sake and the utility of mathematical models to describe a “real world” situation.
This is why I say the above:
Republicans I’ve heard Republicans complain about being tired of being called “stupid”. Well, I’ll let The Economist explain why you are often called stupid:
the party has been dragged further and further to the right. Gone are the days when a smiling Reagan could be forgiven for raising taxes and ignoring abortion once in office. As the Republican base has become ever more detached from the mainstream, its list of unconditional demands has become ever more stringent.
Nowadays, a candidate must believe not just some but all of the following things: that abortion should be illegal in all cases; that gay marriage must be banned even in states that want it; that the 12m illegal immigrants, even those who have lived in America for decades, must all be sent home; that the 46m people who lack health insurance have only themselves to blame; that global warming is a conspiracy; that any form of gun control is unconstitutional; that any form of tax increase must be vetoed, even if the increase is only the cancelling of an expensive and market-distorting perk; that Israel can do no wrong and the “so-called Palestinians”, to use Mr Gingrich’s term, can do no right; that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and others whose names you do not have to remember should be abolished.
These fatwas explain the rum list of candidates: you either have to be an unelectable extremist who genuinely believes all this, or a dissembler prepared to tie yourself in ever more elaborate knots (the flexible Mr Romney). Several promisingly pragmatic governors, including Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, never even sought the nomination. Jon Huntsman, the closest thing to a moderate in the race (who supports gay marriage and action to combat climate change), is polling in low single figures.
Remember when the Republicans were the “party of ideas”? No longer. The intellectual Republicans made a “bargain with the devil” (the extreme, rabid populists) so to speak. The ironic thing is that President Obama’s best accomplishments are largely Republican ideas…at least formerly Republican ideas.
These are the Republicans we have now:
Note: I actually have sympathy for the Ron Paul statement: if you legalize things like heroin or cocaine, I sure as heck am not going to use it. I’ve come to believe in a sort of legalization of the non-medical drugs, though I think that there has to be some regulation of medical drugs (to keep people from practicing medicine without a license).
Of course, Keynesian economics makes sense to me: (via Paul Krugman)
Unfortunately, in late 2010 and early 2011, politicians and policy makers in much of the Western world believed that they knew better, that we should focus on deficits, not jobs, even though our economies had barely begun to recover from the slump that followed the financial crisis. And by acting on that anti-Keynesian belief, they ended up proving Keynes right all over again.
In declaring Keynesian economics vindicated I am, of course, at odds with conventional wisdom. In Washington, in particular, the failure of the Obama stimulus package to produce an employment boom is generally seen as having proved that government spending can’t create jobs. But those of us who did the math realized, right from the beginning, that the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (more than a third of which, by the way, took the relatively ineffective form of tax cuts) was much too small given the depth of the slump. And we also predicted the resulting political backlash.
So the real test of Keynesian economics hasn’t come from the half-hearted efforts of the U.S. federal government to boost the economy, which were largely offset by cuts at the state and local levels. It has, instead, come from European nations like Greece and Ireland that had to impose savage fiscal austerity as a condition for receiving emergency loans — and have suffered Depression-level economic slumps, with real G.D.P. in both countries down by double digits.
This wasn’t supposed to happen, according to the ideology that dominates much of our political discourse. In March 2011, the Republican staff of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee released a report titled “Spend Less, Owe Less, Grow the Economy.” It ridiculed concerns that cutting spending in a slump would worsen that slump, arguing that spending cuts would improve consumer and business confidence, and that this might well lead to faster, not slower, growth. […]
When it comes to economics, it appears as if the equivalent of creationists are running the show.
Science and religion
This is an amusing post by Why Evolution is True; this was about a debate on the compatibility of science with religion. The main issue: the religious types (at least those who suppose a deity that created humans by an intentional process) can’t seem to accept that there is strong evidence that evolution is an undirected process.
Here is an excerpt from the WEIT post:
Finally, I’ll mention one more specious argument of Plantinga: his ridiculous claim that science is damaged by asserting that evolution is a naturalistic, unguided process:
This association of evolution with naturalism is the obvious root of the widespread antipathy, in the United States, to the theory of evolution. Insofar as Dennett and others proclaim conflict between evolutionary theory and theistic belief, they exacerbate this distrust of evolution—a distrust that spills over to science itself, with a consequent cost in public support of science. The health and welfare of science is therefore damaged by promoting these myths to the effect that current evolutionary theory is in conflict with theistic religion. Of course that’s not much of a reason for those who believe those myths to stop promoting them. What it does mean, though, is that there is very good reason for exposing them for the myths they actually are: the damage they do to science.
If anything damages science here, it’s the claim that evolution required the assistance of God. Remember that Plantinga accepts Behe’s arguments for Intelligent Design. Claiming that science is damaged if we don’t accept that God tinkered with the evolutionary process is like saying that science is damaged if we don’t accept that apples couldn’t fall from trees without God’s help.
Plantinga’s admission that “current evolutionary theory is in conflict with theistic religion” should scare accommodationist organizations like the National Center for Science Education, because it clearly shows the incompatibility of evolution with even liberal faiths.
So much for sophisticated philosophy. Plantinga is one of the big guns of the science-and-faith arguments; and his lucubrations here must surely represent “the best arguments for God” that we, as atheists, are required to take on. We are supposed to take Plantinga’s claims very seriously. And yet this is the kind of stuff he believes. How many “sophisticated theologians” do we have to read before we abandon the whole enterprise as a bad, mind-numbing business?
And why is “unguided evolution” a myth in this person’s opinion? Uh…it doesn’t see plausible to him? That seems to be about it. The fact is that these people can’t wrap their heads around the idea that we humans were NOT an intended consequence of some process.
Some of the evidence that evolution is undirected:
Lizards in white sand deserts evolving white skins…by different mutations of the same gene
Evolutionary niche filling.
Example: horses and zebras evolved separately; they are not closely related. Yet they have similar features because they behave in similar ways in similar environments.
Jury rigged features; for example: our Vagus nerve. This weird design came from our being descended from fish.
Bottom line: After Notre Dame had taken a 14-0 lead in the third quarter, Florida State used a long punt return to kick a field goal to cut the lead to 14-3. Then a drive, and interception and another drive put them up 18-14; then another end zone interception turned away the final Notre Dame threat. So, the Seminoles won 18-14.
Yes, the game was close though Florida State owned the 4’th quarter. Total yards: 290-280, Florida State.
Turn-overs: 3 for Notre Dame (two end zone interceptions and one to set up the second FSU touchdown). Florida State had one: this was a fumble that ND returned for a touchdown.
One key difference: Notre Dame’s pathetic red zone offense; this was a problem for them against USC, Michigan and South Florida. Even the one offensive touchdown looked like an interception when the quarterback released the ball. The ND receiver wrestled the ball away from the FSU defender and bobbled it several times prior to securing the ball.
The game was a sort of “tit for tat” affair. On its first trip to the red zone, Notre Dame threw an interception in the end zone. But then with first and 10 at the 20, Florida State fumbled and Notre Dame ran it in for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Later, on a collision on a pass play, FSU lost their key cornerback. But on the same play, ND lost their play maker receiver (Michael Floyd). Hence it was a wash.
Note: the Florida State receivers made some outstanding catches; the following two photos show one spectacular grab near the sideline.
It sure looks like it will be an incomplete pass, but the receiver secured the ball with his right arm while on his back, just prior to his shoulder sliding out of bounds.
So Florida State owns a 5-2 edge in this series. One of the games was a boring blow out for FSU (37-0) and one was an almost blow out (34-24 ND, with FSU rallying from 34-10 down but coming up well short). The rest of them: largest margin was 7 points. I wish that ND had won more of these, but they were exciting games.
Note: on a happier note, I got to see the conclusion of California vs. Texas. UT won 21-10, putting the game away in the second half. The defense played well.
I didn’t see the first part as I was watching our basketball team get slaughtered 90-51 by Wichita State. But my family (daughter and wife) enjoyed the game, as they enjoyed the women’s game the next day.
Workout notes Damp, but no rain. I ran my usual 5.1 mile out and back “Cornstalk across the bridge course”: 25:10 at the turn around, 41:05 at 1.03 to go, 50:10 at the finish. I was just off each of my goals though the return is a net uphill. Still, I ran hard toward the end.
Orangutans at a Milwaukee zoo could soon be video-calling their primate friends via tablet computers.
The hairy tech fans have been playing with iPads since they were first introduced to them in May.
Conservationist Richard Zimmerman said the next step would be to provide wi-fi access – meaning the apes could watch orangutans in other zoos.
He hopes the experiment will raise awareness and funds to support the wild animals facing extinction.
Mr Zimmerman, from the US-based charity Orangutan Outreach, said he had wanted to give the device to the animals ever since it was launched back in January 2010.
“The original idea came literally when Steve Jobs gave his opening presentation introducing the iPad,” he said.
“Independently, one of our supporters in Milwaukee was at the zoo showing the orangutan his iPad, and they were fascinated by it. We started to put things together.”[…]
The animals have, Mr Zimmerman said, been captivated by watching television on the devices, particularly when it featured other orangutans, and even more so when they saw faces they recognized.
One thing that is interesting: it takes almost no intellect to learn how to use the new technology. I recently saw a group from a home for somewhat high functioning mentally retarded adults; many of them were using smartphones.
Chimpanzees: they consider their audience when they communicate!
Chimpanzees appear to consider who they are “talking to” before they call out.
Researchers found that wild chimps that spotted a poisonous snake were more likely to make their “alert call” in the presence of a chimp that had not seen the threat.
This indicates that the animals “understand the mindset” of others.
The insight into the primates’ remarkable intelligence will be published in the journal Current Biology.
The University of St Andrews scientists, who carried out the work, study primate communication to uncover some of the origins of human language.
To find out how the animals “talked to each other” about potential threats, they placed plastic snakes – models of rhino and gaboon vipers – into the paths of wild chimpanzees and monitored the primates’ reactions.[…]
Can something come from nothing?
Well, sort of; there is the “pair production” (though this must occur near a photon or an atomic nucleus). But what about the universe? Also, what happens when, trillions of years from now, the rest of the expanding universe is beyond the relativity horizon? My reading list just got longer. 🙂
Science videos: entertain yourself here.
It was sunny, 40’s (a few degrees above freezing), light breeze…and the area around my house was deserted.
I walked a hilly park course in 1:11:31 (35:45 each way) and loved every minute of it. 🙂
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