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Education, public discourse and ideas…

Bonus: 538.com has an interesting ranking of the all time bets NBA teams. The discussion is interesting as well.

Press coverage: Paul Krugman attacks an attack on Elizabeth Warren:

Yesterday Politico posted a hit piece on Elizabeth Warren, alleging that she’s being hypocritical in her opposition to a key aspect of TPP, that’s interesting in several ways. First, it was clearly based on information supplied by someone close to or inside the Obama administration – another illustration of the poisonous effect the determination to sell TPP is having on the Obama team’s intellectual ethics. Second, the charge of hypocrisy was ludicrous nonsense – “You say you’re against allowing corporations to sue governments, yet you were a paid witness against a corporations suing the government!” Um, what?

And more generally, the whole affair is an illustration of the key role of sheer laziness in bad journalism.

Think about it: when is the charge of hypocrisy relevant? Basically, only when a public figure is preaching about individual behavior, and perhaps holding himself or herself up as a role model. So yes, it’s fair to go after someone who preaches morality but turns out to be a crook or a sexual predator. But articles alleging that someone’s personal choices are somehow hypocritical given their policy positions are almost always off point. Someone can declare that inequality is a problem while being personally rich; they’re calling for policy changes, not mass self-abnegation. Someone can declare our judicial system flawed while fighting cases as best they can within that system — until policy change happens, you have to live in the world as it is.

I see this attack on Hillary Clinton as being similar (the attack: she wants to overturn Citizens United, but still welcomes support from 527 groups). To me, this is like advocating for a rules change, but playing within the rules prior to said change. I am fine with either side doing it.

Education One secret is that most students really don’t want to be educated. They are fine when learning is painless but ultimately, they want the grades, credits and credentials:

Dear Students:

The collective attitude you have shown toward reading and writing during the past semester is neither new nor surprising. You are not well-suited to do either. To your credit, you hate ignorance, as I do. To your discredit, you really only hate being shown that you are ignorant, through encountering words and ideas that are foreign to you and your immediate experience. Rather than look them up and learn about them, as is moronically simple these days, you disdain them, and then complain that you do not understand them. This complaint is disingenuous because you show no interest in having them explained.

Rather, you want to be relieved of responsibility for knowing them, and for reading the works that contain them. In short, you do not want to be educated, or even to go through the motions of education. What you want is a degree, and if there existed a system of academic indulgences, you would gladly fork over four years tuition to receive one without having to waste time going to classes. For a little extra, you could get someone like me to drop by and, for about a half-hour, confirm your base prejudices, the ones you’ve gotten from television and the movies and video games and life in general. You have written about these prejudices incessantly: why brute force is an answer for everything, why the whole world, with its little invisible workers everywhere, has come together for your material and personal happiness, why you live in the greatest country in the history of the world, led by its greatest leader, why your ethnic group has undergone suffering that leaves you preeminent over us, who are all racists… I will not go on.

I have read your stories about anime characters, complete with super-deformed doodles, your tales of extraterrestrials and werewolves and vampires. It is interesting that your eyes turn to the supernatural world so often, since you have such an impoverished notion of this one. […]

Note: I don’t think that, in this regard, much has changed since the time I was in college as an undergraduate; we were that way also. It is more comfortable to rationalize what you already know.

Public discourse: I think that honest discussions such as this one are a good thing; note that both of these students have some serious misconceptions.

However I really don’t like the headline. This is why: (opinion to follow) all too many times, people come to honestly held opinions and are loudly shouted down as “bigots” when they express them.

Examples: many of us have indigent family members who are lazy, dumb and perpetual moochers. So, it is easy to extend what we see in our own lives to conclude that laziness and stupidity is what causes poverty.

We see inner city riots and see mostly blacks. So, given that we humans are hard wired to “reason” inductively, it is easy to conclude that there is something wrong with black people.

We read about people leaving the US to join ISIS. We come to conclusions…without realizing that we are reading about extreme outlier behavior!

The same thing applies to lottery winners; the winners make the paper; the far more common “didn’t win diddly squat” people do not (in fact you are more likely to die in a car crash while driving to buy a lottery ticket than you are to draw the winning number)

I’d like to see more honest discussion and less “shouting down”.

Attitudes don’t help either. All too often I’ve seen conservatives make their own opinion as the benchmark for what is moral and patriotic. All too often I’ve seen liberals make their opinion as to what is bigoted or misogynistic. And all too often those setting their own opinion as the standard are those who are very limited in intellect and lacking in anything resembling accomplishment. I think that too many are overconfident in their own judgement and unaware of what they may be missing.

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May 22, 2015 Posted by | basketball, NBA, political/social, racism, social/political | Leave a comment

Cold water and plans

Workout notes: empty lane, so I took advantage. While I was doing my 500 warm set, some silver haired guy was burning it up. He did one length next to me just to show me that he was faster, but that was unnecessary; I could tell he was a far better swimmer than I by how his IM sets were going.

Totals: 500 warm up, 10 x (25 side, 25 free), 5 x 100 IM (challenging), 5 x 100 (alternate pull, free), 4 x 50 (alternate 25 fist, 25 free) 2200 total.

Then I lifted (felt it in the shoulders so I at least needed to do my rotator cuff exercises:

pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (rotator cuff)
bench and military (3 sets of 10 each, with dumbbells), military: 40’s (standing), bench: 65, 70, 65.
rows and pull downs: rows: 70, 55, 45. Pull downs: 137.5

Then I did some back stuff

Plans for the weekend: Saturday: 5K run; possibly a medium walk afterward.
Sunday: longish walk; 20 miles or 5 hours; whatever comes first.

Then it is “not much” for 2 weeks.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | swimming, weight training | Leave a comment

Modern life: too much noise pollution!

Some time ago, I went to a conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference center was lovely and had a great view of a lake. There was an open area at on the roof; which I deemed a perfect place to sit, eat my lunch and read. It has many benches. I also noticed it was empty despite the pretty day.

But there came some worker with a large leaf blower going full blast; the racket was deafening. The place was unusable.

You see that on our campus too in in many other places.

As far as my neighborhood: in the spring and summer, it does look pretty and looks as if it should be peaceful. But the second you go out on the porch, someone nearby will fire up their power mower, or leaf blower, or edger; or some Stanley Steemer will park and just generate a deafening racket.

Our neighborhood is set up so that sound travels very easily; if someone is having a normal conversation across the street, it is very easy to listen to from where I am. You can guess the noise level that a symphony of power mowers and leaf blowers generates.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | social/political | , | Leave a comment