The assumption behind the saying “no one should have to bury a child”

Facebook has been like the “neighborhood bar” to me; that is where I do a lot of my informal chatting. And, best of all, there is no cigarette smoke! 🙂

Every so often one sees a genuinely sad post about a kid dying; it is often followed by the statement “no one should have to bury their child.”

Think about the unstated assumption there: it is assumed that the parent will die before the kid dies. That may be a reasonable assumption in OUR society in THIS day and age, but it wasn’t always so. Check out the child mortality tables for early 19’th century America. The child mortality rate (dying before 10 years of age) in some cities was over 40 percent and in many other places, darned close to 40 percent.

In short, it used to be COMMON to bury your kid.

What changed that? Yep…science….eradicating diseases, learning about germs and infection, better sanitation and nutrition.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | science | , | Leave a comment

Taking a break from Nested Tori

Right now, I am studying the properties of simple closed curves that are the result of an intersection of an infinite collection of nested solid tori (each having order 1 inside the next one).

Humor (sort of)
Yes, I tried to see it your way:
(I saw this on the wall of a running friend who probably thinks that this applies to me. 🙂 )

Religion As a young kid, one of my aunts used to tell us stories. One of them was the story of the Noah flood. I was horrified that a “loving God” would do such a thing to so many people:


When I got older, I was repulsed by the atrocities (especially those recounted in Joshua). Then I started to read the commentaries (“oh, there is no evidence that this really happened; archaeology shows a more gradual settling…”). But from my late teenage years on, I began to see the Sky-god of the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) as really some sort of tribal deity of a very backwards, primitive people (in terms of what they knew of science, the universe, etc.).

Hmmmm Posts
If you are an obese woman on trial by jury, exclude slender men from the jury. 🙂

This month a team of Yale psychologists released a study indicating that male jurors—but not female jurors—were more likely to hand a guilty verdict to obese women than to slender women. The researchers corralled a group of 471 pretend peers of varying body sizes and described to them a case of check fraud. They also presented them with one of four images—either a large guy, a lean guy, a large woman, or a lean woman—and identified the person in the photograph as the defendant. Participants rated the pretend-defendant’s guilt on a five-point scale. No fat bias emerged when the female pretend peers evaluated the female pretend defendants or when either men or women assessed the guilt of the men. But when the male pretend peers pronounced judgment on the female pretend defendants, BMI prejudice reared up. Jesus wept. The justice system and our basic faith in male decency took another hit.

The study offers further depressing insights. Not only did the male pretend jurors prove “significantly more likely” to find the obese female defendants—rather than the slim ones—guilty, but the trim male participants were worst of all, frequently labeling the fat women “repeat offenders” with “awareness” of their crimes. And because the effect disappeared when the photographs depicted a man, the hypothesis that subjects were simply layering class-based assumptions—such as “poor people are more often overweight” and “poor people commit more crime”—on top of one another falls a bit short. (On the other hand, as one of the researchers, Dr. Natasha Schvey, explained to me over the phone, fat women are more likely to be perceived as coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds than fat men. Somehow I don’t find that consoling.) […]

Colbert: takes on the gun lobby, and those who claim “discrimination against the appearance of certain guns”.

Karl Rove lies about President Obama’s jobs record: he compares employment as of December 2008 (when his boss was still in office) and December 2012; he doesn’t mention that the economy was still shedding 800,000 jobs a month by the time President Obama took office.


Note when December 2008 was. Note the following downward bars. We’ve finally made up for that. The economy isn’t great, but Mr. Rove is a liar.

On the nominee to be Treasury Secretary: Jack Lew:

That is reassuring.

Note: Krugman is actually reasonably optimistic about the deficits getting under control. We need to focus on jobs. And no, we need to get through the threatened Republican temper tantrum about the debt ceiling limit (permission to pay the bills we already owe, NOT permission to spend) and this is probably not the best time to confront Republican lunacy.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | economy, humor, political/social, politics, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Weaning myself off of the treadmill…

It is no secret that I don’t like winter. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been worse about it.
Of course, there are the usual reasons:
1. Snow/ice
2. I don’t like being cold
3. Foggy glasses (not a problem when I am walking)
4. Putting ond taking off tons of gear
5. Mountains of sweaty gear

But, the treadmill is so easy. 🙂
Also, well, when it is cold my first mile or so (10 minutes or so) feels horrible; I feel as if I have sludge instead of blood. The body doesn’t want to work and first mile feels as if it takes 12 minutes or so, even when the stopwatch shows far less time. I start to feel better but I don’t feel “right” until 25 minutes or so into the run.

Anyway I forced myself outside; the streets were fine (just a few tiny, spotty patches of ice) and it wan’t that cold (just under freezing). The 5 mile (5.1 really) out and back course took me 50:46 (25:05 for the downhill out part) and I walked 3 more in the neighborhood afterward.

I just get so mentally lazy when I’ve been on the treadmill too much.
I’ll still use it some; it is easy on my knees, feet and other joints, but I have to get out on the roads since that is where I race.

Yes, I know; the 2000 Olympic trails women’s marathon winner trained exclusively on the treadmill (in Alaska) but I think that when I am on the treadmill my body tries to “game the system” by letting the treadmill do the work.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | running, walking | 3 Comments

Video: Larry Moran on Evolution and ID

I have neither a biochemistry or biology background so I learned some interesting things along the way. Even if you have such a background, you might appreciate the way he summaries the information and points out how embarrassingly bad some of the creationist/ID arguments are.

Note: Professor Moran is one of those who assigns more weight to factors such as genetic drift than the “adaptationists” do; all agree that genetic drift and natural selections are major factors. The debate is what weights to assign such factors.

Note: one might define evolution in statistical terms: the change in the frequency distribution of allels in a population over time.

This video is 36 minutes long but the talk is about 30 minutes:

(side note: he sounds differently that I expected; I was expecting an older, more British, more “walrusy” voice 🙂 )

January 10, 2013 Posted by | biology, evolution, science, statistics | | Leave a comment

Hmmmm….and then a real article…

First, some “trashy fluff” to go “hmmm” at.

Teenager tries to “save” a parking spot at a Wall Mart by standing in it. School board member says “no way” and drives through her, striking her (but not injuring her). Yep, there is a video.

Remember the soccer mom who wore a gun to her girl’s soccer game? Yep, she was found shot to death at home in an apparent murder/suicide.

Professor: Sandy Hook shooting: Part of a plan by Obama; some of it staged? (surf to the Professors website to see the “Obama” part.)

Stimulating the economy: wealthy are cutting back on payments to mistresses.

Now for a real article This Foreign Affairs article called “Can America Be Fixed” points out that our problems are mostly political. It is 5 pages.

January 10, 2013 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

“Ex-gays” make a video on their Pray the Gay Away program; FABULOUS!!!

January 10, 2013 Posted by | human sexuality, humor, religion, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment