It’s that Time of Year…

(from here Cheesecakenyc on Flickr)

November 30, 2012 Posted by | education | Leave a comment

Human Genomes, errors and chills…

Workout notes, dark, breezy (8 mph), chilly (just under freezing) and I ran my 5.1 mile course in 52:31. I didn’t feel THAT bad out there but was puzzled that my time was so slow…then I looked and found that is a typical time for this course.

I have my last spandex chase for the season this Saturday and the weather is supposed to be perfect. Hence I plan to pick up my packet super early and then drive home…and then jog to the start for a warm up (about 2.5 miles downhill). Now if I could pay a spandex wrapped MILF to set about a 7:50 pace for the first couple of miles…..

I haven’t read this whole article yet; I probably will tonight. But there have been many evolutionary changes in the past 5000 years that have shown up at least in the genetic level.

Being wrong Watch as John McCain and Lindsey Graham get hammered for their hypocrisy. Note: they blustered about Saddam Hussein having WMDs and complained about opposition to Condoleezza Rice when she was standing for Secretary of State.

Paul Krugman on types of errors in forecasting:

Some readers may recall the “Peter Schiff was right” campaign of 2009, a sort of public-relations blitz claiming that Schiff, an Austrian-oriented commentator, had foreseen everything correctly. It wasn’t really true even then; still, Schiff became a fixture of right-wing TV shows, constantly warning about how expansionary monetary and fiscal policies were about to produce hyperinflation.

Well, Cullen Roche catches a TV host actually putting Schiff on the spot, pointing out that he’s been predicting that hyperinflation since 2008, so where is it?

Good question. And I’d like to pursue the question a bit more, not just or even mainly about Schiff, but more broadly about the role of predictions — including wrong predictions — in economics.[…]

One kind of error, which everyone makes all the time, involves what you might call extraneous forces. If you didn’t know that there was going to be a war in the Middle East, or a confrontation over the debt ceiling, or whatever, your forecast may well be very badly wrong; too bad, but that doesn’t really speak to your underlying model. And by the way, this exoneration applies even if you should have known what was coming; all this says is that you may not be the right guy to listen to for short-run forecasts, which doesn’t necessarily say that you’re wrong about the bigger issues. […]

Now, the thing about Schiff and all the other Austrians predicting runaway inflation is that they were right to make this prediction given their model. If you believe that a recession is caused by a failure on the production side of the economy, the result of past malinvestment or something, you should also believe that any attempt to correct this decline by expanding credit will simply result in too much money chasing too few goods, and hence a lot of inflation.

In other words, their model is wrong.

The upcoming battle over the fiscal cliff
Robert Reich suggests a bungee strategy:

Obama’s only real bargaining leverage comes from the fact that when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of December, America’s wealthiest will take the biggest hit. The highest marginal income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (for joint filers), and the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent.

This will happen automatically if nothing is done between now and then to change course. It’s the default if Republicans won’t agree to anything else. It’s Obama’s trump card.

So rather than stoking middle-class fears about the cliff, the White House ought to be doing the opposite – reassuring most Americans they can survive the fall. To utilize his trump card effectively, Obama needs to convince Republicans that the middle class is willing to jump.

And the middle class can jump fearlessly if the White House and Democrats enact legislation that reinstates the Bush tax cuts for the middle class as of January 1.

The legislation would operate like a bungee cord — snapping the middle class back from the abyss of paying an extra $2,200 in taxes next year, even as the wealthy go over the cliff.

This bungee-cord legislation could be introduced early next year, but there’s no reason not to introduce it sooner — even now. And challenge Republicans to vote on it as we get nearer and nearer the precipice.

This would give the President’s “My2K” campaign the focus it needs — directly pressuring Republicans to support tax cuts for the middle class and not for the wealthy.

If Republicans won’t agree, they still face the cliff’s automatic tax increases on the rich. But they’re also revealed as shills for the rich — ready and willing to push the middle class over the edge in pursuit of even more wealth for their patrons.

We’ll see what happens.

November 29, 2012 Posted by | economics, economy, evolution, John McCain, politics, politics/social, republicans, running, science | , , , | Leave a comment

Delusions, reality, etc.

Workout notes: morning: weights. afternoon: Cornstalk classic 4.2 mile walk over lunch (sunny) Untimed.

Weights: 5 x 10 pull ups, rotator cuff, incline: 10, 9, 7 x 135, bench: 4 x 170, 5 x 160. rows: 3 sets of 10 x 60. military: 10 x 140, 10 x 160 machine (back grip), 15 x 45 dumbbell. Pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 160, 7 x 160 + 3 x 150. curls: 2 sets of 10 with curl bar, 1 set of 10 machine. I also did ab crunches.

Notes: lower back is still sore and I worry about the outside of the left knee (IT?)

College football: Illinois makes the Bottom Ten!

Mitt Romney and the 2012 election
Well, the votes continue to be tallied and the count:

65.08 million to 60.57 million, or 50.9 to 47.4 percent.

Of course, some Republicans don’t quite understand this; they continue to compare President Obama’s preliminary numbers to his final numbers from last time:

Obama received 4.5 million fewer voters in 2012 than 2008,

Since the time of this article (yesterday), President Obama’s totals have gone up, so a day later it is now 4.4 million votes fewer…and that gap will continue to shrink. Stuart Stevens (Romney’s campaign strategist) goes on:

On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters.

Hmmm, so poor people won this election? Oh yes, Mr. Romney did better with younger white voters. I’d love to see a regional breakdown.

It gets better:

But having been involved in three presidential races, two of which we won closely and one that we lost fairly closely, I know enough to know that we weren’t brilliant because Florida went our way in 2000 or enough Ohioans stuck with us in 2004. Nor are we idiots because we came a little more than 320,000 votes short of winning the electoral college in 2012.

Uh, no. Look at the list of states: Colorado got Obama over 270; Romney would have to have won Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado to have won the Electoral college, which means winning 74 + 163 + 149 + 138 = 624K more votes. That is almost double his estimate, unless he meant flipping half of these votes from Obama to Romney in which case his estimate would be close.

But Joan Walsh from Salon has some things to say to Mr. Stevens, even if the title of her article was changed from “delusional jackass” to “buffoon”.

November 29, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, college football, football, Mitt Romney, politics, running, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

I’ve got to get back to yoga class…

(from here)

Ok, not for just this reason. 🙂 Seriously, my back gets achy when I sit too long and I am feeling an overall stiffness that I didn’t feel when I did yoga regularly.

A bad non-challenging yoga class is better than none at all.

November 28, 2012 Posted by | big butts, spandex, yoga | Leave a comment

Why I am not rushing to buy a powerball ticket…

Odds of my winning powerball if I buy a ticket: 1 in 175 million.

Odds of my dying in a car crash within the next year: 1 in 6500, which works out to about 1 in 2.372 million on a given day. In other words, I am much more likely to die in a car crash while going to buy that powerball ticket than I am of winning the powerball lottery. 🙂

November 27, 2012 Posted by | mathematics, statistics | , | Leave a comment

Many are Cold but Few Are Frozen…..and other topics

The title comes from the flier for the McNabb “Fat Ass” 50K (which features a 1 mile spur followed by three 5 mile out and backs; one can do the 11, 21 or 31 mile)

Today was my first “frozen stocking cap” run of the season; 20 F (-7 C) at the start, 26 F (-3 C) at the finish. It was sunny and dry. Yes, I know; t-shirt and short weather for our Minnesota friends but I am not used to it yet. Hence the 10 miles on the East Peoria bikepath was a bit of a struggle to break out of the mental “just run and enjoy it” cocoon……I kept telling myself “you are supposed to be training” but I kept my shuffle up: 52:48/48:45 for 1:41:34 for the 10.1 mile course. This was 4 minutes slower (24 seconds a mile) than 1 week ago, but it was much colder today.


Here, Bruce Bartlett attempts to bring the Republicans to some semblance of reality. He describes what happened when he got caught in Republican “group-think”.

Economy: some Republicans are talking about “enhanced revenues” while decrying any increase in tax rates. What might be going on: they might be ok on raising taxes on the 250-400K per year crowd…but leaving the really wealthy types alone.

November 27, 2012 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, republicans, running | Leave a comment

teachers, statisticians, Fox News

Workout notes
Weights plus a 5K run on the treadmill; I ran the first mile in 10:10, mile 2 came at 19:05, 3 at 27:26; 5K at 28:16.

Weights: rotator cuff, 5 sets of 10 pull ups, bench (with abs rest): 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 4 x 175, 10 x 160
military: 2 sets of 15 x 45 dumbbells, rows; 3 sets of 10 x 60 dumbbells, incline: 9 x 135, then 3 sets of curls on the machine, pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 162.5, 6 x 162.5, 4 x 150.

I walked to Perry Shadid afterward.

Education: not good; here is a story about a massive cheating ring for teacher certification tests. For a fee, someone would have a “ringer” with a fake ID take the certification test for the teacher. This episode happened in southern states, though this is not really related “to the south” per-se.

Here is a nice summary of which of the model makers (Nate Silver, Sam Wang or Andrew Tanenbaum (Electoral did the best. All did well and did much better than the media pundits.

Note: Mitt Romney’s popular vote totals now register him at less than 47.5 percent. 🙂 Latest vote totals: Obama 64.8 million, Romney: 60.4 million; this is 50.86 to 47.43 percent.

Issues Fox News brought on a military expert; it did not go well for them. :_)

November 27, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, education, political/social, politics, politics/social, running, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Not enough Skilled Workers?

From the New York Times (by Adam Davidson):

Eric Isbister, the C.E.O. of GenMet, a metal-fabricating manufacturer outside Milwaukee, told me that he would hire as many skilled workers as show up at his door. Last year, he received 1,051 applications and found only 25 people who were qualified. He hired all of them, but soon had to fire 15. Part of Isbister’s pickiness, he says, comes from an avoidance of workers with experience in a “union-type job.” Isbister, after all, doesn’t abide by strict work rules and $30-an-hour salaries. At GenMet, the starting pay is $10 an hour. Those with an associate degree can make $15, which can rise to $18 an hour after several years of good performance. From what I understand, a new shift manager at a nearby McDonald’s can earn around $14 an hour.

The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.

In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers. “Trying to hire high-skilled workers at rock-bottom rates,” the Boston Group study asserted, “is not a skills gap.” […]

This lays it out reasonably well:

A chimp that had recently died was being carried out; the other chimps are from her group. Note how some have their arms around one another for emotional support.

Still think that we aren’t closely related?

November 25, 2012 Posted by | economy, evolution, politics, politics/social, science | 1 Comment

College Football Fans: Be Grateful a Playoff is Coming

Workout notes
2 hour (8 mile) walk from the Riverplex to Harvard Ave. via Springdale.

I added a small spur to get the full 8; note the return leg was 3 minutes faster than the out leg.

College football

Imagine this: suppose Ohio State had stayed away from a bowl game last year and finished this year: undefeated and bowl eligible. This year’s national championship game would have been undefeated Notre Dame vs. undefeated Ohio State….imagine the outrage among SEC, Pac 10 and Big 12 fans!

Check out the Sagarin ratings:

At least this year’s game will feature teams that beat strong Big 10, Big 12 and Pac Ten teams (Notre Dame defeated Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford) versus either Alabama (beat Michigan) or Georgia (beat ACC division leader Georgia Tech) so at least we’ll have some regions taken care of.

With a play-off, we’ll get to see how the regional powers stack up against each other.

November 25, 2012 Posted by | college football, football, walking | Leave a comment

Face Facts: Notre Dame really has an elite football team this year.

I am getting ready to do a medium distance (2 hour) training walk. Before I do that I’ll make some comments about college football:

Notre Dame will play in the National Championship football game. I don’t know how they will do; I have 20 dollars bet on them though (to go to a PBS station of choice); my bet is with an Oregon Duck fan. 🙂

Yes, I know that the last few Notre Dame football teams that played in big time bowl games got whipped but those were somewhat overrated 10-2 teams that went. This Notre Dame team has a very athletic front 7 on defense; they play…well…like a top SEC team plays. They remind me a lot of the 2002 Ohio State team that won the national championship.

What does “somewhat objective” knowledge say?

This is from the Sagarin computer ratings:

Note that ND has played more “top 30” teams than Alabama has, though Florida, Stanford and Oklahoma have played more than anyone else.

Regarding other games: I got too sleepy to finish watching the Louisiana Tech vs. San Jose State shootout. But the trio of Utah State, Tech and SJU have been fun to watch, and they’ve competed well against the stronger teams on their schedules. I’ll make it a point to watch whatever bowl game these teams are in.

My bias: I went to Navy (say 4 years worth of games, plus a few more road games), Texas (9 years worth of games total; 2 when I was in high school, 6 while in grad school, 1 while serving temporary duty in San Antonio), and I’ve had season tickets for Illinois for the past 2 seasons. I followed Notre Dame since 1967, though I am no longer the die hard fan I once was due to my following other teams.

This bowl season: of course I’ll watch ND’s game, UT’s game, Navy’s game; I have a soft spot for TCU and I’ll watch the WAC trio if I can (especially Louisiana Tech). I’ll also try to follow the other Big Ten games, though to be honest, I predict that the Big Ten will lose most of them. Our Ohio-State-less conference will probably be over matched in every big time bowl game. I’ll also try to watch Arkansas State’s bowl game (wife has lots of friends who went there).

November 25, 2012 Posted by | college football, football | 2 Comments