A case study of non-critical acceptance….

Workout notes: yes, the piriformis is moderately achy, but I walked two easy miles and did some PT, yoga, exercise ball stuff, etc. It should be feeling ok by the end of the week.


See the flaw here? If you don’t ask yourself:
1. Did Ronald Reagan collect more revenue than, say, Teddy Roosevelt? (yes, he did).
2. What happens to revenue collections when incomes go up? Remember that the proponents of supply side economics often repeat the mantra “low tax rates leads to high tax revenues”.

Of course, this is aimed at conservatives that absolutely despise President Obama, and so few ill ask if this makes any sense at all. And, yes, some won’t see why this is a bogus argument, even when it is explained to them…and many of these people see themselves as “smart”. Yes, this phenomenon is not one sided; liberals do it too.

Now for this phenomenon applied to science:

this is a viral video and I admit that the graphics are cool. But:

Well, one (correct) take away from this is that while we have a (sort of) two dimensional solar system model with the sun as the reference point, one can also take a galatic point of view to see that the sun traces out an orbit in the galaxy; therefore the planets do too. For that matter, one can take a universal look and see our galaxy (and hence our solar system) expanding within our spatial universe, but never mind that.

There are some problems with this video. For one: “vortex” isn’t the right word; the video author means that, if one uses a center of the galaxy as a reference point, then the trajectory traced by the planets is a (sort of) helix. The other thing: the planets don’t “drag after” the sun as it moves; in fact the angle of inclination of the “orbit planes” (they are slightly different) is about 60 degrees with respect to the sun’s trajectory around the galaxy and not 90 degrees; hence at times the various planets actually “lead” the sun. There are other problems as well; here is a very nice summary.

Just because something looks cool doesn’t mean that it is reality. 🙂

Back to Politics
This is expensive stupidity for the sake of helping people feel better:

To fight the specter of poor people spending taxpayer money on drugs, a Republican congressman has reintroduced legislation to make welfare applicants pee in cups to prove they’re clean.

Rep. Stephen Fincher’s (R-Tenn.) bill would require states to randomly test 20 percent of people receiving benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which spends roughly $16 billion per year supporting poverty-stricken parents with monthly checks averaging $392.

“Currently the federal government enables drug abusers a safety-net by allowing them to participate in the TANF program,” Fincher said in a statement. “Instead of having to make the hard-choice between drugs and other essential needs, abusers are able to rely on their monthly check to help them pay their bills.”

In Congress and in state legislatures across the country, Republicans have sought to implement welfare drug testing programs in recent years. Few measures have become law, as testing can be expensive and there’s not much data reflecting a widespread drug problem among welfare recipients. Civil liberties advocates successfully sued to halt the most sweeping drug screening law, implemented in Florida in 2011.

In fact, here is what happened in Florida:

Florida’s four-month drug-testing run in 2011 yielded 108 negative drug tests, according to Department of Children and Families data. Only 2.6 percent of applicants who took the test failed, though supporters of the law say that does not account for people who walked away from the application process because they were on drugs.

The pass rate was 96.3 percent, leaving the state to pay more than $100,000 to adults who paid for the test and passed. The average time an adult receives TANF is four and a half months, said DCF spokesman Joe Follick.

In short, you are paying a lot of money to screen out a few slackers (those who failed, and those who walked away). This makes no fiscal sense, but it is politically popular because “everyone is against druggies getting welfare”. No money was saved:

From July through October in Florida — the four months when testing took place before Judge Scriven’s order — 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.

Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.

As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780, he said.

And it is the Republicans that have all that good “business sense”?? 🙂

By the way, when I was in the Navy, I was subject to drug testing. But I served on a nuclear submarine; the consequences of someone serving while “high” (which did happen) were potentially catastrophic; it was a serious safety issue in that case.

March 4, 2013 Posted by | astronomy, civil liberties, injury, politics, politics/social, quackery, republicans, science, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Before the snow gets too bad…

Yes, our overall snow fall is down, but we are getting unusual “clumps” of it. In other words, if \mu is our mean “snowfall per week” during a winter and \sigma^2 is our variance in “snowfall per week”, our \sigma^2 is much larger than the traditional, whereas the \mu is smaller.

In other words, less snow overall, but more snowstorms between periods of no snow.

Workout notes Walking and stretching. I haven’t done it yet. However, right now, my lower back and butt are what is limiting me. This photo:

Oh sure, this appeals to me for the usual, expected reasons. But notice how tense her butt is; whatever she is doing is really working the butt in ways I need to work mine. So I’ll have to give these exercises a try. I have an exercise ball and both gyms that I use have them too.

If I want to train for running and walking, I have to get my butt (and back) in shape; literally.

No, we won’t win the House in 2014, but maybe, just maybe, some of the Republicans will be more willing to compromise on at least a few things.

Physics This is an interesting article about trying to find out a wave function (polarization states of a crystal); the idea is to do 2 consecutive measurements but to do the first in a “weak” way that doesn’t affect the quantum state (e. g., doesn’t cause the wavefunction to collapse) and to do a stronger measurement the second time. Each time this pair of measurements is done, record, and over time build up a statistical model.

I am not an expert and have no idea how this will work over the long haul.

March 4, 2013 Posted by | big butts, injury, physics, politics, politics/social, running, spandex | 1 Comment