When academia becomes advocacy …

Jon Haidt’s 1:06 long video is worth watching; here he is speaking at Duke University. Sorry to say, many who could benefit from it will say “oh yuck..Haidt again” and not watch.

The issue: What should higher education and research be for? Should it be a bold search for the truth (understanding that no one sees perfectly clearly; findings need to be verified, tested, cross checked, etc, and yes, there are “false positive” findings) or should there be some apriori goal in mind, such as “honoring one’s deity” (happens at some religious schools) or “promoting social justice” (yes, that is the states mission of some universities, and some have openly said that it *should* be the goal of others).

Of course, I rebel against that: in my courses, I aim to teach mathematics and in my research, I am to discover new mathematics.

My interest in social justice is manifested in the administrative side of things: are we seeking out underrepresented (but well qualified) faculty and students? Are various minority groups getting a fair shake? What large scale policies (say, financial aid) might make us more friendly? Do groups feel unwelcome, shut out or feel that they are “tolerated guests” rather than a full part of the university community?

But none of the above are really part of the courses I teach or my research.

So here it is, a full hour and 6 minutes.

I got this from Jerry Coyne’s website, where he adds commentary and there are some interesting comments.

March 31, 2018 Posted by | politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Progress and slight regression

My foot is just a bit achy; I probably overdid it this morning..and to be fair..on Wednesday as well. I have to limit my, ahem, cough, “faster paced” running and walking.

The heel does better with gentle paces (both walking and running)

This morning I did 4 miles on the treadmill (41:59) and 3 more miles outside with Ms. Vickie. (3.4 miles at a 17 minute per mile pace), followed by some socialization. The walk: front of Riverplex to the start of the gooseloop..around the outside and then to the ball field parking lot (near the industrial entrance..along the 3’rd base line).

The run: I did stretch and it was ok during the first 2-2.5 miles but whined just a tiny but during the end: I did 5 minute “froggy”: 5.1-5.4, then 5.5-5.6 to 30 minutes, 6.0 to mile 3 (33:xx) then 6.7 for .5, 6.8, 6.9, 7.0 to kick it in just under 42:00. My lungs and legs were fine…the foot limited me just a bit. The walk was fine.

yesterday: I got a strict bench press with 200 lbs (easy). usual pt, 5 sets of pull ups (10 each), bench: 135 x 10, 185 x 1, 200 x 1, 185 x 4, decline: 170 x 8, incline: 135 x 10. Dumbbell military: all standing: 10 x 50, 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 3 sets of 10 x 50 one armed rows, 10 x 110 machine rows, abs: twist crunch: 50, 24, yoga leg lifts: 2 x 10, moving bridge, headstand, side plank, 2:30 front plank. (I do the forearm version)

So I can still bench press bodyweight…barely.

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Friends, running, walking | , , | Leave a comment

My discomfort with the reaction to the kids marching

I want to make it clear that I like that the kids are getting involved and hope it extends to..well..actual voting.

But the reaction to it…ugh. On one hand, you are having people praising their eloquence in the in their public speech..and we are urged to take them seriously.

But when what they say is critiqued…”oh, they are just kids!”

Ahem: being taken seriously involves being critiqued, sometimes harshly.

On the other hand, you have those who dismiss them as “just kids..they eat Tide Pods”…but then ..go on to critique them harshly and issue vicious personal attacks.

If they are “just kids, not to be taken seriously”, then don’t attack. You can’t have it both ways!

And yes, I know, I am on their side, issue wise, while I am very aware that mass shooting is a very unlikely cause of death in that, or any age group (though regular non-mass homicide is now the second leading cause of death in that group) automobile accidents kill more than homicides) .

Workout notes swim, then treadmill for 2 mile run (23:00), 2 mile walk (27:12). The heel was ok; hurt just a bit during the “faster” walk phase.

swim: 500 free, 5 x 25 free, 25 back, 5 x 25 breast, 25 free, 200 side, 200 of drill/swim, 200 of fist/free, 200 pull, 100 swim, 100 pull, 100 swim, 100 pull. This was a “swimming so I can remember how to” workout.

Weight: 198.6 before swimming 196.8 afterward. Yeah, one sweats when one swims.

March 30, 2018 Posted by | political/social, running, social/political, swimming, walking | , | Leave a comment

Other professors are turning me into a Republican…

Ok, not quite. But one professor expressed dismay when the Austin Police said that the bombings didn’t fit the legal definition of “terrorism” (my understanding: the crime has to have a political goal) and I expressed an opinion that perhaps the professionals investigating the crime..the ones with the facts in hand as well as the understanding of the legal definitions were more likely to be right than a bunch of professors who aren’t specialists in that field…

and that opinion was..well..not well received. 🙂

Workout Notes

weights plus 2 miles on the treadmill

weights: usual pt, usual abs (2:30 on plank, headstand was ok), pull ups: 5 sets of 10, decline: 10 x 135, 10 x 170, incline: 1 x 160 (mistake), 6 x 150
hammer rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200, military (standing dumbbell) 2 sets of 10 x 50, 10 x 45

run: 5.1 for 5 min, then acceleration to get to 1 mile in 11:18, then 8:39 for the second mile (19:57 for 2 miles). Foot was ok, didn’t ache afterward though.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | running, social/political, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Turning the corner?

Well, no baseball for me…4 Bradley games cancelled in a row! Oh well..

I have some tasks to perform. I am amused by the Stormy interview though, especially given our FLOTUS (is there really much difference between them?) And yeah, of course, right on cue, some liberals are claiming that she is a serious businesswoman, that she shouldn’t be shamed for being a porn star, etc. When we get tribal, well, the difference between “the sides” becomes the flavor of the kool-aid.

One task I performed: I took a survey about my teaching. My current courses: a business major math course (things like present value for annuities calculation, supply/demand equilibrium, etc.) and a complex variables class. I was asked all sort of questions about whether my students were being exposed to different cultures, encouraged to be more diverse, etc. Dammit: I want the students to be able to do the frigging math! Grrr…I really wonder if some conservative critiques of college education have some merit. There really isn’t an “inclusive” way to calculate the present value of a monthly annuity with a 5 percent nominal interest rate.

Workout notes swimming, then 4 miles of running. The heel limited me slightly as I was walking TO the gym (but oh-so-slightly) and the swim loosened it up.

swim: 2200 yards, 250 free, 250 fist/free, 250 of free/back, 250 of breast/back, then 5 x (100 swim, 100 pull, and every other swim 100 started with 25 of drill). Then 200 in 3:35, and Jason just SMOKED me during this segment.

run: treadmill, slight discomfort at first but ok; my conditioning limited me much more than my heel: 11:50, 22:55, 33:38, 43:50. last mile: 5.7, 5.8, 6.0, 6.2/6.3. Best run in a while (yes, I suck that badly)

199.8 before the swim (and after breakfast and gallons of coffee), 198.0 after the swim.

March 27, 2018 Posted by | running, social/political, swimming | , , | Leave a comment

Earth Wind and Fire last night and

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Earth, Wind and Fire with @babsatlarge

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Row 6 at Earth, Wind and Fire.

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Well, I had a late start to the morning…too jacked up from the high energy concert (outstanding)

weights (no abs): 5 sets of pull ups (10 each), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 8 x 170, decline: 7 x 170, incline 10 x 135
military: 10 x 50 standing (dumbbells, 50 in each hand), 15 x 50 seated, supported, 10 x 45.
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 50 single arm. Usual shoulder PT

bike: 34:30 for 10 miles (4 minutes for mile 1). went ok.

I admit that I amused myself by doing more pull ups than some younger guys who were struggling…hey..I take victories where ever I can find them. 🙂

March 26, 2018 Posted by | bicycling, weight training | | Leave a comment


Ugh…our great city, burying the walks..ugh. A dear friend is leaving and I actually envy her…sort of.

This snow was wet so shoveling made me slightly sweaty.

Speaking of dear friends: way back in the 1990’s (1993 or thereabouts) I made a friend at the UU church. We became close enough that she was my “Best Woman” at my wedding. I quit going and we drifted apart. She died unexpectedly. One of my weaknesses (one of many) is that I am “out of sight, out of mind”. That is one thing social media is good for helps me not forget about people I like and would otherwise miss.

Politically: yeah, I was glad to see the kids marching, but as far as people in the 18-22 year old age bracket starting to vote in larger numbers…I’ll believe it when I see it. Color me skeptical.

After all, it will probably mean voting for…gasp, a candidate who is less than perfect and possibly not every exciting.

No, I won’t be watching Stormy on tv tonight; I’ll be seeing Earth, Wind and Fire (gads, they MUST be old by now). But Stormy: who cares, really.

Oh, to those who already hate Trump, it is another scoop on the pile. To his supporters: so what.

In my opinion, those who voted for Trump either:

a) Really, and I mean, REALLY hated Hillary Clinton
b) Wanted those tax cuts and/or right wing judge appointments
c) Loooove punching hippies. (telling social justice warriors to f**k off with no fear of negative consequences)

So Trump’s hypocrisy and broken promises (that he was never serious about to begin with) will matter not at all.

Workout notes treadmill run/walk; 59:20 for 5 miles. Yeah, that is pretty slow but here is how it went:

11:40 mile 1, 22:10 mile 2, 31:52 mile 3 32:50 at 3.11, then walk to 4.5, jog to finish up. The change of the motion kept pressure on different part of the feet which helps my PF.

Afterward: no ache at all. I’ll give it the day off tomorrow though.

March 25, 2018 Posted by | running, social/political, walking | , , , | Leave a comment

And I turn contrarian …..some conservative talking points have merit…

Well, I was very grumpy because I came back from a “College of Liberal Arts and Science” meeting and thought “what nonsense…hours and hours of time spent coming up with …THIS???”

So I was about to go on a tirade about how many conservatives are right about some of their criticisms of liberal arts education…but then I decided to read statements from other liberal arts colleges. And..they weren’t that bad.

Here is a typical one: it appears to be reasonable to me. But still: any statement has zero effect on how I teach, how I research, or how I think about our curriculum. In service courses: “what tools do they need to master in able to learn their major”? In major courses: “what do I expect a math major to have mastery of? How do we help them attain such mastery?”

The problem is that some mission statements have stuff about “equality” (our proposed statement does). So it follows that anything that appears to be contrary to “equality” must be bad or wrong, right? Hence you have things like this: (Jerry Coyne’s website)

Finally: a sensible discussion of “race”
And by “sensible,” of course, I mean a discussion that aligns with my own views. I’ve often written that while there are no finite and strongly genetically demarcated human “races”, there are meaningful and statistically diagnostic differences between populations, ethnic groups, or whatever you want to call them. This is in opposition to the common Left-wing view that races are purely “social constructs” having no biological reality.

Well, there aren’t a finite number of groups whose members are 100% genetically differentiated from other groups. But when you take all genes together, there are sufficient average frequency differences that one can discern statistical clusters that, in turn, allow you to use lots of genes to pretty much diagnose where somebody’s from and who their ancestors were. These “statistical clusters” are real, not social constructs, for they fall out regardless of the politics or biases of the investigator.

Recognizing their existence by no means justifies bigotry or stereotyping, but we shouldn’t dismiss the existence of those clusters simply because, in the past, people with an incorrect idea of “race” have used differences to justify segregation and prejudice. Yet all too often, as with genetic differences among ethnic groups, behavioral differences between the sexes, and evolutionary psychology, those on the Left simply dismiss entire fields because of a fear that scientific research will justify discrimination.

Professor Coyne links to an excellent article by David Reich in the New York Times:

To understand why it is so dangerous for geneticists and anthropologists to simply repeat the old consensus about human population differences, consider what kinds of voices are filling the void that our silence is creating. Nicholas Wade, a longtime science journalist for The New York Times, rightly notes in his 2014 book, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” that modern research is challenging our thinking about the nature of human population differences. But he goes on to make the unfounded and irresponsible claim that this research is suggesting that genetic factors explain traditional stereotypes.

One of Mr. Wade’s key sources, for example, is the anthropologist Henry Harpending, who has asserted that people of sub-Saharan African ancestry have no propensity to work when they don’t have to because, he claims, they did not go through the type of natural selection for hard work in the last thousands of years that some Eurasians did. There is simply no scientific evidence to support this statement. Indeed, as 139 geneticists (including myself) pointed out in a letter to The New York Times about Mr. Wade’s book, there is no genetic evidence to back up any of the racist stereotypes he promotes.

Another high-profile example is James Watson, the scientist who in 1953 co-discovered the structure of DNA, and who was forced to retire as head of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in 2007 after he stated in an interview — without any scientific evidence — that research has suggested that genetic factors contribute to lower intelligence in Africans than in Europeans. […]

What makes Dr. Watson’s and Mr. Wade’s statements so insidious is that they start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes.

In other words, refusing to admit that there ARE differences in frequencies of certain alleles in certain population clusters often leads to “see, the racist stereotypes must either be right or at least have a kernel of truth to them.” And, in my opinion, the regressive left (often found on college campuses) and the alt-right are on agreement of the implication; the “solution” the regressive left offers is to dismiss genuine science as “junk science; a tool of the oppressive white patriarchy” and the racist right is “see: the snowflakes are afraid of the truth, which WE are bold enough to talk about”.

(digression: I recommend reading Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and Pinker’s Blank Slate. )

But…yeah, I can see how some conservatives think of education as a type of indoctrination. Then again, many of these conservatives are the same morons who think of creationism as having any validity and of expertise of being of no value. Yeah, I know; the Illinois governor’s race is a contest between unqualified billionaires/multi-millionaires. So …

Speaking of campaigns: I always wondered about how effective some campaigns are and if there is a point of “diminishing returns”.

And there is some research that backs this up. That is one reason I no longer phonebank; who wants to be annoyed at home? I might do some GOTV stuff; getting your people to the polls is essential. But if the turn out is high..well, it is mostly about the candidate (after a certain point anyway).

March 24, 2018 Posted by | evolution, racism, social/political | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sloppy outside

Right now, we are getting CREAMED with snow; about 5 inches of the heavy wet stuff and counting. But it isn’t that cold and tomorrow we are supposed to get into the 40’s; 60’s by Tuesday (when Illinois visits Bradley in baseball!) I doubt that we’ll get a game tomorrow though; the field might be unplayable.

I did stay at home and walk 8 miles on the treadmill: 1:40:36 (1:03:36 at mile 5). 12:35 mpm..not the fastest but..well…about a decent half marathon pace for me these days. And yeah, I’d like to claim that my foot limited me (and it kind of did; I did have to stretch it before hand and ice it after, and as I write this I feel it just a bit) but those last 2 miles were not easy; I would not have been able to go 5 more at this pace, heel pain or not.

And I did the right thing by stopping; this was my longest walk since late January.

March 24, 2018 Posted by | walking | , , | Leave a comment


Long afternoon meeting…sigh….

I’ll say more later…

Workout notes: weights only, then some self yoga which included abs. I do have a tug in my low right hamstring when I go into triangle pose on that side. See the arrows.

But I don’t have that pain in pyramid pose.

Parsvottanasana Yoga Pose_9.jpg

It is the legs spread at an angle that makes the different?

weights: usual pt, 5 sets of 10 pull ups, 10 x 135, 4 x 185 bench, 8 x 170 decline, 10 x 140 incline, dumbbell military: 10 x 50 standing, 15 x 50 seated, supported, 10 x 45. One armed row: 3 sets of 10 x 50, 10 x 110 machine.
the yoga included my usual ab set (twist crunch, yoga leg lifts, moving bridge, head stand, 2:20 plank, side plank).

Heel was a bit fatigued.

March 24, 2018 Posted by | weight training, yoga | , , | Leave a comment