blueollie

Hiking, Science, Math and funny videos…

Workout notes Slow, easy hike (1:09 outer loop, 54 minute out and back for 2:03 for 10K) at the hilly Forest Park Nature Center. There were several other hikers out there. One middle aged lady was struggling with a hill; she said that she “bit off more than she could chew” with her first hike of the season. We agreed that if there is a time to get stiff and sore, it is now. đ

It was a very pretty day; the best we’ve had in a while.

Observations: the vast majority of hikers are slender; today I saw a couple of exceptions.
The parking lot: what struck me is that there were several hybrid cars and no large trucks; there were a couple of smaller SUVs. This is very different that what you see in the parking lot of the all-you-can-eat restaurants.

Humor and working out:

Video
Why would ANYONE think of me when they saw this on Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Science
Here is an article about these “caveman diets” and the fallacy of “if it is natural it must be better” medicine/diet. Note: I know that some people simply can’t eat certain foods (e. g. my wife has celiac disease, which was diagnosed by a blood test given by a doctor.)

Mathematics

Now I think that I know what is meant by this: if someone says “x is obvious and therefore does not require proof” they are on dangerous ground. Though there are a few all-time-great mathematicians that can make correct conjectures that aren’t proven until much later, the vast majority of us had better be able to prove what we claim; our intuitions, while necessary and valuable, can lead us astray.

For example, I once spent 2 years trying to prove something but couldn’t; the reason: it was false! Happily I eventually sought out and found a counterexample and published that.

You see some “obvious facts” (which are false) repeated over and over again!
For example, in some quantum mechanics text books and notes, you see the claim: if $\int^{\infty}_{-\infty} \psi^2(x) dx$ is finite and exists then $lim_{x \rightarrow \infty} \psi(x) = 0$ which is FALSE, even if $\psi$ is smooth.

Note: if you don’t know this, and want some hints:
1. Think: convergent infinite series
2. Think: a sequence of tall, thin rectangles that get taller and thinner; each area is the value of the term of your favorite convergent infinite series.
3. Smooth with a bump function.

Of course, the uninitiated are sometimes confused by this saying and said this (on someone else’s wall):

“Yeah, cause we wouldn’t want any part of mathematics to be intuitive or anything human-like.”

I don’t know the spirit with which this was said. But this LOOKS (to me; but I could be wrong) like “if it is too opaque for me to understand it must be bad”. You do see attitudes like this a LOT.

But the blunt truth: mathematics, science and engineering are hard, and progress at both the theoretical and practical levels is difficult. Smart people have to work hard and put forth a great deal of intellectual effort. But the results: well, efficient engines, medicines, modern electronics, this computer, etc. “Common sense” is woefully insufficient at the research levels, even if it is necessary to be successful in one’s day to day life and one suffers if one lacks it.

March 31, 2013

Happy Easter…

After brunch with my wife’s family. The restaurant hired an “Easter Bunny”.

Salon’s article on the “New Atheists” and “Islamophobia”

If you are interested, read the Salon article here.

This is the gist of it:

Richard Dawkins, the preppy septuagenarian and professional atheist whose work in the field of evolutionary biology informs his godless worldview, has always been a prickly fellow. The British scientist and former Oxford University professor has expended considerable ink and precious breath rationalizing away the possibility of cosmic forces and explaining in scientific terms why those who believe in a divine creator are, well, stupid.

It appears, however, that some of those believers are stupider than others. At least according to a recent series of tweets by Dawkins, who served up a hostile helping of snark this week aimed at followers of the Muslim faith.

[…]

Four days after the tragedy [9/11], Dawkins could barely contain his intellectual triumphalism. âThose people [the terrorists] were not mindless and they were certainly not cowards,â he wrote in the Guardian. âOn the contrary, they had sufficiently effective minds braced with an insane courage, and it would pay us mightily to understand where that courage came from. It came from religion. Religion is also, of course, the underlying source of the divisiveness in the Middle East, which motivated the use of this deadly weapon in the first place.â

[…]

Conversations about the practical impossibility of Godâs existence and the science-based irrationality of an afterlife slid seamlessly into xenophobia over Muslim immigration or the practice of veiling. The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason. âIslam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death,â writes Harris, whose nonprofit foundation Project Reason ironically aims to âerode the influence of bigotry in our world.â

For Harris, the ankle-biter version of the Rottweiler Dawkins, suicide bombers and terrorists are not aberrations. They are the norm. They have not distorted their faith by interpreting it wrongly. They have lived out their faith by understanding it rightly. âThe idea that Islam is a âpeaceful religion hijacked by extremistsâ is a fantasy, and is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge,â he writes in âLetter to a Christian Nation.â

That may sound like the psychobabble of Pamela Geller. But Harrisâs crude departure from scholarly decorum is at least peppered with references to the Quran, a book he cites time and again, before suggesting it be âflushed down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal.â
[…]

Dawkins, in a recent rant on Twitter, admitted that he had not ever read the Quran, but was sufficiently expert in the topic to denounce Islam as the main culprit of all the worldâs evil: âHavenât read Koran so couldnât quote chapter and verse like I can for Bible. But [I] often say Islam [is the] greatest force for evil today.â Howâs that for a scientific dose of proof that God does not exist?

A few days later, on March 25, there was this: âOf course you can have an opinion about Islam without having read the Qurâan. You donât have to read âMein Kampfâ to have an opinion about Nazism.â

There is more in the article. The main thrust of the article is that the New Atheists have climbed aboard some “Bash Islam” bandwagon in order to, uh, sell more books?

1. The benevolence of a religion has nothing to do with whether it is is true or not.
2. Sometimes the New Atheists go beyond the “true or false” part of religion to answer the question: “even if the religion is based on false beliefs, what harm does it cause?” And in that case, Islam, at least as it is practiced in much of the world, causes a great deal of harm.

Why do I say that Islam, as widely practiced in the world, is harmful?

Well, there is this:

At least 23 people were killed and more than 130 wounded after car bombings rocked four Shiite mosques in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and another mosque in Kirkuk.

The wave of blasts erupted within an hour of each other in northern and southern Baghdad, as well as in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, just as worshipers were leaving after Friday prayers.

Police and health officials said that 20 people died in the Baghdad attacks.

In Kirkuk, a car bomb detonated near the al-Rasul al-Aadham mosque, and killing three and wounding 70, a local health official told AFP. The bomber drove his explosive-laden car into a group of worshippers as they were departing from the mosque, Col. Najat Hassan said.

“We were listening to the cleric’s speech when we heard a very strong explosion. Glass scattered everywhere and the roof partially collapsed,” Mohammed, a victim wounded in the Kirkuk blast, told Reuters.

This hardly an isolated incident. See, for example, Sunni terrorism against Shiites in Pakistan. There are the actions in Islamic Republics as well: people are executed for apostasy, atheism, homosexuality and a number of other non-crimes.

People are given death sentences for writing a book that they don’t like.

They pull crap like this:

Now you might say: aren’t there ill behaved Christians and Jews? Sure! But one of the main differences is that Islamic backwardness is often backed by the pulpit and often by the sanction of a government. For example: an idiot who bombs an abortion clinic is not only denounced but brought to justice.

Now I’ve talked about this before. I’ve talked about Muslim riots OVER CARTOONS. On the whole, they appear to have no concept of free speech.

In the spirit of honesty, I should say something about Muslim outrage though: many of the riots (which were inexcusable….protests are ok) were in countries that have far weaker “free speech” laws than we (in the United States) do. In some countries, it is illegal to “insult religion” or to, say, engage in hate speech or to, say, deny the Holocaust, and some Muslims think: “if they are protected, why aren’t we?”

I don’t know but I think that many liberals have an instinctive “stick up for the underdog reaction”. And unfortunately too many Americans don’t think that “Freedom of Religion” applies to religions that they don’t like.

For example, there was the “Ground Zero Mosque”:

Opponents of the planned Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan have public opinion firmly in their corner. According to a new TIME poll, 61% of respondents oppose the construction of the Park51/Cordoba House project, compared with 26% who support it. More than 70% concur with the premise that proceeding with the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Opposition to the project appears to derive largely from the conviction that the proposed site of the project â just two blocks from Ground Zero, in a building that formerly housed a Burlington Coat Factory outlet â is so close to “hallowed ground,” as President Obama put it.

Yet the survey also revealed that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President â a slightly higher percentage than the 24% who mistakenly believe the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim. In all, just 47% of respondents believe Obama is a Christian; 24% declined to respond to the question or said they were unsure, and 5% believe he is neither Christian nor Muslim.

MURFREESBORO, TENN. — For more than 30 years, the Muslim community in this Nashville suburb has worshipped quietly in a variety of makeshift spaces — a one-bedroom apartment, an office behind a Lube Express — attracting little notice even after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But when the community’s leaders proposed a 52,900-square-foot Islamic center with a school and a swimming pool this year, the vehement backlash from their neighbors caught them by surprise. Opponents crowded county meetings and held a noisy protest in the town square that drew hundreds, some carrying signs such as “Keep Tennessee Terror Free.”

“We haven’t experienced this level of hostility before ever, so it’s new to us,” said Saleh M. Sbenaty, an engineering professor who is overseeing the mosque’s planned expansion.

The Murfreesboro mosque is hundreds of miles from New York City and the national furor about whether an Islamic community center should be built near Ground Zero. But the intense feelings driving that debate have surfaced in communities from California to Florida in recent months, raising questions about whether public attitudes toward Muslims have shifted.

My opinion: in the United States: if you have the proper permits for your church, synagogue, temple or mosque, then go ahead and build it. I will not protest; in fact I stand for your right to do so. Our government is NOT allowed to pick sides. And yes, I was firmly for the right of citizens to build their New York City Islamic community center where ever they wished, proper zoning permitting.

Worship how you wish.
Of course, your religion (and I am thinking more of our Christian majority here) doesn’t have a right to a captive audience, to dictate how science is taught nor to punish theological “crimes” such as “blasphemy” or “insulting your prophet”, “deity” or whatever.

A U. S. citizen is a U. S. citizen, period. So, I appreciate the sentiment for sticking up for the non-believer.

But the condemnation of clerical approval of “death sentences” for “insulting speech” is well warranted, so this Salon article is way off base here.

March 31, 2013

What I am doing isn’t working…

Today’s workout: I had planned on running 18 miles (run to the mile marker, walk 1 minute, 18 repetitions).
Weather: 35 F and sunny at the start; breezy and it got overcast and warmer. I like the warmer part.

What happened: the first 12 miles went ok (even if a threesome of beautiful women passed me on the way out and another right after them). 1:03:35 at the turn around, 1:04:47 for the return leg (not as many runners to push me on the way back) for 2:08:23 for 12.

But when I turned around and felt the wind at my face again; I just quit. I didn’t have much left physically and mentally I wasn’t ready to make myself do a “shuffle from hell”. But I told myself: you are DOING 18 MILES even if you have to walk the final 6. So while I tried to restart running at several points, it was useless. So I just walked; kind of strolled really. 3:59 was my time for 18 miles. Yes, I’ve walked 18 miles at a much faster pace than this; I really strolled on the last 6 miles.

Social: I notice a lot of cars in the lot and there were many runners doing their Sunday long run the day prior to Easter. But when I scanned the lot one of the bespandexed MILF’s looked familiar; it was T! I’d recognize that butt anywhere. đ So I got to say “hi” prior to getting out there. We saw each other out there and exchanged high 5s and I high 5’ed another runner along the way.

Training What I am doing isn’t working. My guess: I have added too many running miles too quickly and I am not giving myself enough recovery between workouts. I am giving serious consideration to switching to the 25 km (15.5 mile) from the marathon; that way I could work on my performance instead of working “just to finish”.

Good news: the foot felt fine.

Transparency and Congress

Workout notes Weights plus 3 miles (5K) on the treadmill.

Weights:
pull ups (5 sets of 10); rested with hip hikes and toe raises
bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 7 x 170 (rested with rotator cuff)
incline: 9 x 140, 8 x 140 (ab sets: 10 x twist, weight crunch, sit backs, 20 x v. crunch, 3 sets each)
dumbbell military, rows; 3 sets each (10 row, 12 military) 50’s military (seated), 65’s rows, left arm missed one rep.
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 60
curls: 2 sets of 10 x 30 dumbbells, 10 x 70 machine.

Run: started at 5.7 mph (10:30 at 0), then moved to 1, every 2 minutes increased the incline or speed up to 27 minutes, when I increased the speed every minute. 10:20, 20:07, 29:10; 30:04 for 3.11. Mile 1: 1, mile 2: 2, mile 3: 3 (incline)
I have to play with it to keep from getting too bored.

It’s no surprise that much of the press is having a bit of fun with the story about Lululemon recalling a bunch of wildly overpriced yoga pants because you can see everything the good Lord gave yuppie housewives when they bend over in them. But for all the punning headlines and snark, I feel the lede has really been buried here. What, exactly, has the onslaught of transparent yoga pants taught us about the personal habits of ladies who simply cannot sweat in anything that costs less than my monthly phone bill? While I enjoyed this cheeky debate about whether or not there’s a way to spin “see-through pants” as a good thing, I can’t believe Charlotte Cowles just blew past this tidbit like it was no big deal:

That said, there is the thong issue, which I can understand. The problem with sheer yoga pants isn’t so much that your butt cheeks are visible, but that your thong is. Still, I don’t see why this is a terrible concern, since lots of ladies’ thongs stick out during yoga anyway.
Cowles talks about “your thong” as if nothing is more suitable for exercising than wearing underwear specifically designed to slide between your butt cheeks and attack you at the slightest provocation. What kind of sexualized hell are these poor women living in that they can’t even give up porn-compliant underwear in order to keep their bodies lean and toned for future thong-wearing situations? I was under the impression that yoga was supposed to be a healthful activity, and yet here women are, contorting their bodies in a strap of fabric made to respond by straining painfully at your most sensitive bits. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing, and not reminiscent of a visit to the proctologist.

Here’s an idea for women who really are this worried about having visible panty lines under your yoga pants: Don’t wear underwear. It’s not like flies or ants are going to get in there if you don’t seal it off tightly. If your concern is maintaining maximum sexiness at all times, never fear.

My suggestion: be creative with your undies; wear stripes, smiley faces, hearts, or “team underwear“.

Politics
Don Young (R-Alaska, US House) thinks it is ok to use the term “wetbacks” when talking about migrant workers of Mexican decent.

But this guy is a real idiot:

March 29, 2013

Football Trivia: my past

At 2:40-2:47 into this clip, watch no. 34 getting swarmed by the Notre Dame defense. This is Rodney Lee of Georgia Tech: he was a junior high teammate and on the varsity in 1974 when I was on the JV. Yes, I’ve tackled him one on one a few times (during scrimmages) though it would be more accurate to say that he tripped while running me over.

One summer, toward the end of summer, he came into the weight room when I was lifting. I had my max bench press weight on the bar. He said “Hey Ollie, what are you doing?” and I explained the bench press. He had never done one before. He took my max and just blasted it…easily. &^%\$#!!

March 28, 2013

less is more

Workout notes: 6 mile run on the treadmill; lots of hip hikes and calf stretches. Heel pads: the larger ones feel great.
run: 10:30 for 2 miles, 10 for 1 (31:03 at 3), then sped up (50:07 at 5) and 58:50 at 6. I felt fine when I stopped and thought about doing more; I had to make myself walk away. The foot felt fine.

The 10th grade science teacher is being investigated by the Professional Standards Commission of his school, for uttering the word vagina during a biology lesson. Some parents are upset at this teacher for using a word straight out of the approved textbook, and are seeking to have him investigated. Under what actual grounds they might have a case is not at all clear however.

The students are already even given the option to opt out of the horror of having to hear a term that designates a female organ.

Tim McDaniel, who teaches 10th grade science at Dietrich School, told the Twin Falls Times-News that four parents were upset when they learned that his lesson included the word âvaginaâ and information about the biology behind female orgasm.
âI teach straight out of the textbook, I donât include anything that the textbook doesnât mention,â McDaniel remarked. âBut I give every student the option not attend this class when I teach on the reproductive system if they donât feel comfortable with the material.â

Unfortunately, some see education as a process that should enforce their own ignorance, which they view as “wisdom”.

This is not a “left/right” issue; some liberal “activists” are just as bad, albeit on different topics.

Social: remember that case where a woman claimed that two kids had shot her baby because she wouldn’t give them money? Well…it is important to not make a rush to judgement:

The lawyer for one of the Georgia teenagers charged with murder in a baby’s shooting said Monday his client is “absolutely” not guilty and the grandmother of the second suspect said her grandson would never be involved in such a crime.

“My client is absolutely, 1,000-percent not guilty,” public defender Kevin Gough, who represents 17-year-old De’Marquise Elkins, told The Associated Press. He made the comments Monday, while preparing for Elkins’ first court appearance on the murder charge. It was scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday.

Elkins and a 15-year-old are charged in Thursday’s shooting of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago who was in his stroller on a walk with his mother, Sherry West, who was also shot. Both suspects are charged as adults.

[…]

Sherry West said she was walking home when two boys confronted her to try to rob her and one of them opened fire. Police say she was shot in the leg, and her baby was shot in face.

Gough, Elkins attorney, said he has demanded a bond hearing and filed a request for a speedy trial for Elkins.

“We look forward to our day in court,” he said.
Firstcoastnews.com interviewed Ashley Glassey, the 21-year-old daughter of West, who told the station that the night of the shooting, West asked her how soon a life insurance policy would send her a check.
“She changed her story she told me the baby was shot first and then she told me she was shot first,” Glassey told the station.
West has said she picked the gunman out of a photo lineup of 24 mugshots and insists he killed her baby.

Hmmm….I say let us wait and see. If those kids did it, then yeah, they deserve no mercy. But right now, I am not so sure that they did it.

March 28, 2013

A bit of math in the “real world”

Paul Krugman

I see that Simon Wren-Lewis is on a campaign against the use of the Mundell-Fleming model, a simple international macroeconomic extension of IS-LM analysis, because of the way it handles the relationship between interest rates and exchange rates. And itâs true that the simplest version of Mundell-Fleming assumes that interest rates are equalized by capital flows, taking no account of expectations of future exchange rate changes.

But is that the way itâs taught? Itâs certainly not the way the issue is handled in the leading undergraduate textbook in international economics, which for nine editions â 25 years! â has worked with an exchange rate model in which investors expect the exchange rate to revert to a long-run norm, so that you get a downward-sloping relationship between the interest rate and the price of foreign currency:

Business calculus question: if $E = f(R)$ then what is the sign of $f'(f^{-1}(E_1))$? What about the sign of $f^{\prime \prime}(f^{-1}(E_{1}))$?

Genetics and Evolution
Larry Moran on the Hardy-Weinberg Theorem for genetic evolution:

Imagine that you have a population with two alleles, A and a, at a single locus. The frequency of the first allele is f(A) to which we assign the value p. The frequency of the second allele is f(a)=q. In a randomly mating sexual population the probability of an A sperm being produced is p and the probability of an a sperm being produced is q. Similarly, the probability of an A egg cell is p and the probability of an a egg cell is q. These probabilities, p and q, do not have to be equal.

We can calculate the probabilities of all possible combinations or sperm and eggs in the population from a the following diagram (Punnett square).

The idea is that you calculate the probability of AA, Aa, aA, aa. Not surprisingly, $p^2+2pq + q^2 = 1$, which of course, means $(p+q)^2 =1$ which follows from $p+q = 1$. No biggie. What this means is that for an ideal population (large enough for which the probabilities $p, q$ are realized, the allele frequencies do not change, ABSENT some other factor…..such….as…well, selection pressures, migration (populations leaving the area), mutations (new alleles) or drift. When the equilibrium starts to fail, evolution has taken place.

But…many ID types don’t know that. đ

March 28, 2013

Memes, photos and some Colbert

Football season: kickoff for Illinois football is only 5 short months away.

I don’t recall football players looking this attractive. đ

Click to see the actual Colbert clip, which is about gay marriage. It is pretty good. But you KNOW that I liked the photo.

Yes, success, at least what modest success I’ve had, has NEVER been of the “straight line” variety. There are ALWAYS detours, false starts, and setbacks along the way. ALWAYS.

Hey, you had better register that MATLAB program (I know: “matrix laboratory” not “mathematics laboratory”). Or…Spell-check strikes again!

Remember those B-rated “horror” movies from 20-30 years ago (or make that 40-50 years ago)? I think that the creator of this poster for a Facebook page did a good job of capturing that feel:

Yes, “lesbain” is intentional.

March 28, 2013

science topics: jet stream and weather, support for gay marriage, ID, isolation, evolution oddities, etc.

Workout notes
Weights only:
rotator cuff
pull ups (5 sets of 10); hip hikes and Achilles exercises
incline press: 10 x 140, 4 x 155, 6 x 150, 7 x 145
abs: 3 sets each of crunch (10), twist (10), sit backs (10), vertical crunch (20)
dumbbell military: 3 sets of 12 x 50
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 65 (each arm)
dumbbell bench: 2 sets of 10 x 65
curls: 2 sets of 10 x 57.5 pulley, 1 set of 10 x 30 dumbbell
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
I’ll run 4 times a week until I can get over this foot soreness.

Posts
For those interested in physics, physicist Mano Singham has a multi-part series on the Higgs Boson; he is giving you some background for it:

Part: I, II, III, IV, V

Social
There is evidence that being socially isolated harms longevity, even in the absence of feelings of loneliness.

Opinions on same sex marriage: favorability IS going up across the board; no doubt about that. But for a detailed analysis: read Nate Silver’s post:

It is also possible to project how the results in each state might change over time. I assume that support for same-sex marriage will continue to increase by one and a half percentage points nationally per year, which reflects the recent historical trend from both polling and ballot-initiative data. (The way that the model is designed, support might be projected to increase slightly faster or slower than that in individual states based on the number of swing voters.) Thus, we can extrapolate the results forward from 2008 to 2012, and to future years like 2016 and 2020.

Roughly speaking, by 2020, only a few states in the deep south will have less than a majority favoring same sex marriage. The median state support (median of all states) will be about 60 percent. Time is marching on and I hope that Illinois stays ahead of the curve.

Climate
What is driving our crazy weather? Conjecture: we have a steep increase in sea ice, which leads to the water having more heat, which leads to a change in the path of the jet stream, which allows that cold arctic air mass to dip down lower than before (in sort of a sine wave type path).

Biology