Is it normal to only learn after failure?

Workout notes
Usual: hip hikes, rotator cuff, McKenzie back, leg lifts, plank;

pull ups: 15-10-15-10
dumbbell military (seated, supported) 3 sets of 12 x 50
bench press (sort of narrow grip) 10 x 135 (ok)
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
Hammer machine rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200
curls: machine, 3 sets of 10 x 75
abs: 3 sets of 10: crunch, v. crunch, sit back, twist.

Legs: sort of “perpetually sore”; not sure what the problem is.

I went over a “existence/uniqueness” problem in class; one student said “got it now; is it normal to have to fail first in order to understand something later?”

Answer: often: YES. Lots of times, you think that you understand until you have to do it on your own and can’t.

So lots of times, you need to fall on your face in order to learn.

If you are constantly shielded from failure, or opportunities to fail, or from the consequences of failure (within reason), you aren’t being done any favor.

Of course, there are limits to this idea.

September 30, 2013 Posted by | social/political, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Krugman doesn’t like ignorance…

This doofus William Kristol pretends that the employer mandate (an add on) and the individual mandate (essential; insurance has the healthy subsidizing the weak) are somehow comparable.

One is tempted to say that this is often how arguments with conservatives go: they get all bent out of shape when their ignorance isn’t accepted and is called out as ignorance. But in this case, this is merely a result of Krugman being much smarter than Kristol.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, republicans | | Leave a comment

Back to McNaughton Park

I had a hard time getting off of the couch this morning. I just was tired and listless, and strangely enough, feeling a bit down.

So I felt that a trip to McNaughton Park for a 10 mile loop would help; it turns out that I’ve been going there for over 10 years now. I finished in 2:35, which was once my “quick but not all out” walking time.

Though the bottoms were still a bit wet the course was 90-95 percent dry; the first Lick Creek crossing, which is typically knee deep or deeper:



The first 5 miles were empty; then came hikers, kids and a couple of people walking/running. That got me to push it a bit; 1:20 at the bridge and 1:15 for the back half; 45 minutes for the last 5K.

I felt better when I got back. Now to do a little grading (not try to get it all done).

September 29, 2013 Posted by | hiking, running | | Leave a comment

Health Insurance and society

Ok, I was one of those who thought that Obamacare didn’t go far enough; I preferred the House version (which had a small public option) but by then we had gone down to 59 votes in the Senate. Hence it was either pass the Senate version in the House (and include some small fixes via reconciliation) or nothing.

Still, overall, we should be better off (on the whole).

Small ways this helps: if you look at my recent history, I had a rotator cuff problem, knee surgery in 2010 and some physical therapy for my back. None of these were life threatening but health insurance helped me with these problems, and as a consequence, I can do my job pain-free and even engage in a reasonable amount of athletic activity.

I may well have been on my way to being physically disabled without, at least, the physical therapy.

Sometimes simple things can make a big difference, even when the problem isn’t grave at the moment, and sometimes having health insurance can keep small problems from turning into big ones.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | health, health care | | Leave a comment

College Football Remarks

I talked about the Illinois-Miami (Ohio) game. Illinois is better but not good; Miami is rebuilding.

So I missed a couple of games that I am, well, kind of glad I missed.

Oklahoma whipped Notre Dame 35-21; they started with an interception return for a touchdown and then got a quick second interception, which they scored off of. That was to be the margin of victory.

Screen shot 2013-09-29 at 8.20.45 AM

From reading the articles: every time ND got close, Oklahoma responded with a score. Though OU has a decent team, well, ND has slipped a bit from last year and, well, ND got a few breaks in some of their games. They could have easily lost 3-4 of those. I see ND as a “Sun Bowl” caliber team this year. They are decent but nothing special. Michigan State was their best win so far; Temple and Purdue are terrible.

Western Kentucky stopped Navy’s running and won 19-7. True, Navy’s quarterback got injured, but WKU had stopped Navy prior to that (after the first drive).

Screen shot 2013-09-29 at 8.17.34 AM

I didn’t see the above games, but I did watch Ohio State vs. Wisconsin; after all both will visit Illinois later this season.

Ohio State won 31-24; their regular quarterback was back and they moved the ball very well. But they were very vulnerable to Wisconsin’s passing attack; the game was not sealed until late.

Key play: with a few seconds left in the first half and the score 17-14 Ohio State:

That brought it to 24-14 Ohio State and it was to reach 31-14 before Wisconsin rallied.

Wisconsin did show some offensive ability though.

And if the above LOOKS like deja-vu:

Other notes: USC fired its coach. I kind of wondered how someone so young who hasn’t done all that much got these top jobs to begin with…

September 29, 2013 Posted by | college football, football | , , | Leave a comment

Good game, company, food…and we solved all of the problems in the US…

Workout notes 4.2 mile run (Cornstalk classic) in 40:00.3; 9:53 first 1.03, 8:23 last 1.03. Cool. Felt good.

Then I showered and picked up Lynn to go to the Illinois game.

Yes, Lynn and I talk a lot; together we solve almost every problem that faces the United States. 🙂
She is a family friend and excellent company.

The game
Yes, Miami-Ohio entered 0-3 with losses of 52-14 (Marshall), 41-7 (Kentucky) and 14-0 (Cincinnati). But I wondered if Illinois would play like they did against Southern Illinois (got a lead; almost let it slip away).

They didn’t. It ended 50-14 Illinois, with Illinois gaining 597 yards to Miami’s 251. But even those metrics were deceptive; it was 36-0 at the half and, at one point, Illinois had 400 total yards (prior to losing 6 yards on a sack and “only” having 394 yards at the half). Illinois never had to punt. One drive ended on an interception in the red zone (first quarter, second drive), one ended on a field goal miss (near the end of the half) one one drive ended with Illinois having first and goal at the 7 and taking a knee to run out the clock. Other drives: touchdowns.


Illinois started crisp and got a quick touchdown. The defense got a stop and Illinois pulled open the playbook for the second drive using gadget plays (flea flickers, reverses, etc.) but got a pass intercepted. Miami had a mini drive which stalled; the first quarter ended 7-0.

Second quarter: another drive for a touchdown and a two point conversion on the “swinging gate” (pre-kick formation on the extra point). Then Illinois tried a surprise onside kick which worked. Then came a quick touchdown against a tiring defense. 15-0.

It was domination after that; three more drives, three more touchdowns. Illinois mixed sets (pistol, ran from the I) and tried things. They found seams in the Miami zone defense and had success with screen passes as well.

The only downer was the last Illinois series; Illinois took a low line drive punt and almost ran it back all the way; then on the drive, Illinois got a holding call, then a quarterback sack, and then a missed field goal. Still, 36-0 at the half with almost 400 yards of offense?


Illinois got a defensive stop and drove it in for another touchdown to make it 43-0; the substitutes got to play.

Miami made a nice drive and scored on a dramatic 4’th and 1 at the goal line. The stadium was standing and cheering for the defense to preserve the shut-out, but it was kind of good natured; some fans around me said that they hoped that Miami would score. Bloodthirsty we aren’t. 🙂

They hit a pass in the corner of the end zone, but an Illinois defender stripped the ball. The referee called it “catch then fumble”, which was a touchdown.

Miami got an interception and converted; it was 43-14.

The Illinois reserves cleaned up with a last quarter touchdown, and then on a subsequent drive, drove it to the Miami 7 and then took a knee three times.

After the game
Lynn and I went to our favorite Middle Eastern Restaurant (Jerusalem)


As you can see, it looks “hole-in-the-wall-ish” but the food is quite good.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | college football, football, Friends, running | , , | 3 Comments

Ok, you say you love your spouse….

So, you say that you love your spouse. So, you want what is good for them right? You want them to be happy, right?

Ok, they meet someone else and…well, there is evidence that they would be happier with that other person and they want to leave you.

Note: there are no kids at home, etc.

So, do you let them go or do you resist it?

September 28, 2013 Posted by | social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Buried by grading

Quizzes, exams, bleah.

Workout notes
Hip hikes, Achilles, McKenzie, planks, leg lifts

Pull ups: 2 sets of 15, 2 of 10
military presses: dumbbells, 3 sets of 12 x 50 (seated, supported)
curls: 3 sets of 10 x 75 (machine)
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200 (Hammer)
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
abs: 3 sets of 10: twist, sit back, crunch, v. crunch

bench press: one set of 10 x 135 (narrow grip); ok, but that was enough.

walking: 3 miles outside; too pretty not to.

Academic BS:

I have very little tolerance for this. Evidently, it is a bad thing not to be an egomaniac.

September 27, 2013 Posted by | education, shoulder rehabilitation, social/political, walking | | Leave a comment

One reason I favor affirmative action for women in math, science and engineering..

I had office hours today and one of the students who showed up was a young man. He had some differential equations problem set questions.

As he stood there in my office, I noticed his tight t-shirt and that his upper body looked as if it was chiseled out of marble.

So, after the problems were discussed I said “ok, you HAVE to work out regularly”. He laughed and said yes; I then asked him how much he bench pressed (350 pounds; 40 more than my lifetime max and about 145 more than I’ve done this year).

That side conversation, which caused neither of us discomfort, added just a bit of personal closeness.

Now had a woman been in my office, there is no way, just no way at all I would have mentioned that I noticed her athletic body. There is good reason I wouldn’t do this…and I shouldn’t.

But: this means that there is more potential for me to have a personal connection with a male student. Though that won’t affect his grade (*) I can see him feeling comfortable to visit my office after the course is over and maybe asking “hey, I was trying to get into this field…any suggestions? And I might say “oh yes, so-and-so is an engineer in Madison who works for this company; why don’t you give him a call?”

A similarly talented woman might not have this little “extra” perk. Hence, we should try to make up for such a systematic disadvantage, IMHO.

((*)I grade “blind” in that I grade everyone’s problem 1, everyone’s problem 2, etc. and don’t even know what grade they got until I sum the scores up).

September 27, 2013 Posted by | mathematics, science | , , , | 2 Comments

Talking past one another Part II

I talked a bit about this earlier; in particular I mentioned how Ted Cruz seems whacky to me and to those who think like I do.

Here is a bit more. As I said, the right wing sees Ted Cruz as some sort of “lone wolf, Mr. Smith goes to Washington” hero rather than someone pulling a “pay attention to me stunt”.

Remember: this was not the case of a vote coming up on a bill.

Also, remember that millions of social conservatives see this image as something positive:


I see this as, well, being the same as this:

magic goat

I am NOT saying that people like me ought to take Senator Cruz’s ideas seriously; I can’t. But we should realize that he is, to millions of people, what say, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are to idealistic liberals.

While we are on perceptions, I’ll go to another sore point of mine: activists.

On the whole, I don’t like them (there might be isolated exceptions).

From what I’ve seen the ratios of:

\frac{noise}{message} and \frac{self assessment of knowledge}{actual knowledge} both approach infinity. They are noisy, pushy, and frankly, dumb. They don’t get advice from experts like scientists, they GIVE it to them.

I am ESPECIALLY talking about activists who agitate for causes that I agree with! No, I don’t go as far as some: a clueless activist makes a stupid argument for a position doesn’t invalidate a position. After all, I might not care for pushy environmentalists but I am still going to walk to work every day (as I have for the past 21 years).

I might not be the only one: Salon ran this hilarious article:

Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists.

That’s the conclusion of troubling new research from Canada, which similarly finds support for feminist goals is hampered by a dislike of feminists.

Participants held strongly negative stereotypes about such activists, and those feelings reduced their willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” reports a research team led by University of Toronto psychologist Nadia Bashir. This surprisingly cruel caricaturing, the researchers conclude, plays “a key role in creating resistance to social change.”

Writing in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Bashir and her colleagues describe a series of studies documenting this dynamic. They began with three pilot studies, which found people hold stereotyped views of environmentalists and feminists.

In one, the participants—228 Americans recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk—described both varieties of activists in “overwhelmingly negative” terms. The most frequently mentioned traits describing “typical feminists” included “man-hating” and “unhygienic;” for “typical environmentalists,” they included “tree-hugger” and “hippie.”

Another study, featuring 17 male and 45 female undergraduates, confirmed the pervasiveness of those stereotypes. It further found participants were less interested in befriending activists who participated in stereotypical behavior (such as staging protest rallies), but could easily envision hanging out with those who use “nonabrasive and mainstream methods” such as raising money or organizing social events.

Well, duh.

September 27, 2013 Posted by | morons, social/political | , , | 2 Comments