TRUMP IN SPACE!!! (and the Sesame Streeting of Science Education)

No, this is NOT parody. This is from the genuine Trump Facebook Page.

Well, this is good news for science education in the United States, right? After all, you can’t do things in space without knowing a great deal about physics, astronomy, chemistry and mathematics, right? Right?

Dear Reader, YOU know that. I know that. But as for the average person, especially the average Trump voter..probably not so much.

As an educator, I see this all the time: some kid gets to college and says something about liking space and physics…but not liking science and math?

You see, we spend so much time trying to make science “appealing” to the masses, people think that science is just a bunch of cool tricks.

They see this (and yes, this IS cool)

And maybe they go on to read a pop-science book or two…and find themselves saying phrases like “collapse the wave functions”. So they try to major in physics and find that…in order to actually DO physics…it involves mastering THIS:

I remember one exchange I saw on Facebook. A national class physics professor (nuclear) made it a habit to not block anyone. So someone whose expertise consisted of a basic non-mathematical “electronics class” proceeded to “splain” to him how physics professors didn’t know “real world” electronics.

You see: we teach electricians the “electron flow” model of electrical current; they are told to think of electrical current as a “flow” of little electrons (like small marbles) and when you do that, you can get to the point where you can build (and repair) electrical devices. But it is just a heuristic that “works”; current defined in this manner is opposite of current as scientists and engineers use it. And of course electrical current is more complicated than that (I view it as the time derivative of electrical charge).

The professor tried patiently to explain to our “genius electrician” that he was really using a simplified model…but our self described expert just would hear none of it. He just knew that he was right and that those who were smart enough to work out the basic science to make the electrical components POSSIBLE were a bunch of ivory tower idiots.

Workout notes
Yesterday: 3 mile treadmill run (10 minutes of 5.2-5.6, 10 of 6.7-6.9 (19:48 at 2) 4 min walk, jog to 32:45 3, 33:41 5K. then 5K walk outside.
Today: 5K walk outside; weights (usual PT), 5 sets of 10 pull ups (good), weights (subpar): 10 x 135, 1 x 185, 4 x 185, 8 x 170 bench, 7 x 170 decline, military (struggle) 9 x 50 standing, 2 sets of 10 x 45, 3 sets of 10 x 110 rows, 2:30 plank, usual abs.

I was weaker than normal today, except for pull ups.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | education, running, science, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Gerrymandering (my “lesson learned”) and the power of simply not caring what others think

I remember when I was gerrymandered into IL-17 from IL-18. At first, I was happy. I got to vote in the D-primary and was “yippee, I finally get a Democrat to represent me”.

But ..well, IL-18 became even more right wing; prior it was home to moderate Republicans like George Michael and Ray LaHood. And they actually appeared to listen.

I am not saying that Cheri Bustos doesn’t listen; she does. But my input really makes little difference as she is going to vote the way I’d like, oh, 90-95 percent of the time. And there is little danger of her losing her seat; there is really nothing for me to do, save enjoy much of her Instagram feed.

At times, it resembles the feed of a fitness model. 🙂

And other races…safe seats all the way around, except for things like City Council.

Not caring If you asked me which politician I dislike the most, it would not be Trump. Trump, IMHO, is a skilled con artist and basically an outlet for the dark underside of our country. Every advanced country has people like him and shame on us, as a country, for falling for it.

The politician I dislike the most is Mitch McConnell. He is smart, skilled, and utterly amoral. That is a very deadly combination. And people’s opinion of him matters not at all.

But…well, seeing this did gladden my heart just a bit. This was very gentle, First Amendment stuff, and a politician who can’t handle this sort of gentle heckling should retire.

And yes, I say that to Democratic politicians as well, even when the hecklers are ill informed, ignorant and downright stupid (as hecklers often are).

If you can’t stomach listening to an ignorant, stupid person pontificate, don’t go into politics.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, ranting, republicans | | Leave a comment

And this was just one day…

Interesting primary result in NY-14: a Bernie type unseated an establishment (but liberal) Democrat in the primary. NY-14 is heavily blue, so she should win the general. There isn’t much danger of a Christine O’Donnell effect here, I think.

Of course, the Republican reaction to this was sane..

Yes, the rank and file Trump supporter really believe this. Oh well…

And the RNC has released a new attack ad:

Yes, Bernie Sanders is quoted (about public programs like health care), Nancy Pelosi (about child separation policy) (uprisings and, of course, Maxine Waters. But as for the rest: entertainers. The burned limousine: owned by a Muslim immigrant and was torched by idiotic protesters at the Trump inauguration.

We could easily find a video of Trump alone making genuinely outrageous statements. But this shows how they will run….it will be against the horrible liberals.

This lack of civility might well work for them; it is a bit trickier for us. Here is what some research shows.

Facts: might matter to a few swing voters but it won’t win us any converts. Yes, research appears to show that regions with illegal immigrants have less crime (per capita) than other regions.

North Korea did NOT “denuclearize”; in fact, it is updating its testing facilities.

And now…we are going to have a new SCOTUS opening. The only way to moderate this is to get a couple of Republican defectors, which will not happen.

And THIS is why: POTUS matters (even if he/she isn’t everything you want). This is why red state Democrats in the Senate matter, even if they are more conservative than you’d like, and even if they don’t support your pet positions.

Workout notes: weights, easy 2 mile walk. Usual PT, pull ups (10-10-10-(5-5)-(5-5)) good, incline: 10 x 135, 4 x 155, decline: 7 x 170, military: 10 x 50, 10 x 45 standing dumbbell, 10 x 180 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110. Usual abs (hate planks), etc.

I remember the old days: cotton shorts and rust stained white t-shirts or sweatshirts. Now: high tech clothes, smart phones and those “shaker” bottles for whatever it is that the young people drink.

I do note that my upper body strength: is roughly what it was in 10’th grade, though I can do more pull ups now. I remember running a 5:58 mile on a dirt track at that age (at 220 lbs!) and there is no way I could do that..or even get to 1200 meters in that amount of time. Some things decay faster than others.

June 27, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics/social, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Confessions of a formerly secretly snooty (sort of) runner…

It is no secret that I am embarrassed at how slow I’ve become in both walking and running.

But it isn’t because of a lack of effort.

That is me after today’s morning workout. The workout: 10 minutes at 5.1-5.2, the 10 minutes at 6.1-6.2, then 10 minutes at 6.7-6.8-6.9 (5-2.5-2.5), 6.9 to 3.11 miles (5k) then 4 minutes of walking, then jogging enough to get to 5 miles in 53:02. Splits: 2 in 21:02, 3 in 29:53, 4 in 42:26, 5 in 53:03.

Now I was never good at running; I was at my “best” in my late 30’s (19:53 5k, 5:41 1600 (5:43 mile) 1:34 half marathon (40 years old), 3:38 marathon at 40>
For those who don’t know: a “locally good” runner that age would run 16-17 minutes for 5K, and there are a few who, at that age, compete for and sometimes win Olympic medals (Carlos Lopes ran a 2:07 marathon at 37, and:

Bernard Lagat turned 40 last December, and wasted no time in setting three world indoor masters records: 3:54.91 for the mile, 7:37.71 for 3,000 meters and 8:17.05 for 2 miles. In May, in a rare foray onto the roads, Lagat blitzed a 27:48 10K, which was not only a new masters world record but tied Marc Nenow’s 33-year-old American open record. Outdoors this year, Lagat has set world 40-plus records of 3:41.87 for 1,500 meters and 13:14.97 for 5,000 meters.

So, as you can see, I really sucked…but was a young man suck. My times were really “respectable workout bro” times.

But I was a male in his late 30’s and so I frequently finished in the upper 20-25 percent of the field, sometimes better (210/1037 at 1998 Quad Cities Marathon, 35/167 Lake Geneva Marathon were a couple of my better ones)

But that was mostly about being a male of that age..and that it all it was.

I remember seeing people of my current pace finishing races and I cheered..but also wondered “I guess they aren’t really trying that hard, either during the race or during training”.
I was to find out how wrong I was!!!! Oh well…

But hey, I am still able to walk comfortably and so I did: 4 miles to and from a ball game (2 miles each way)..though my team got creamed 11-2..just shelled.

A new pitcher pitched his first game since coming up from a “short season” league and a rookie league the season before..and he promptly gave up 4 hits and a walk in the first inning, including a 3 run home run. It was never close, though the Chiefs did get one home run of their own (I lost track of the ball, but the fan next to me saw it clear the fence)

Still, “splash day” is usually fun:

June 26, 2018 Posted by | baseball, running, walking | , | Leave a comment

Asymmetric political warfare: being smart.

Hey, we have to FIGHT…and some liberals are cheering the “shame Trump officials in public” rhetoric coming from our loose cannons:

But…will it “work” as in…will this lead to victory at the polls in 2018 and 2020?

Analogy: just swinging doesn’t always work.

But yes, we ARE having that debate.

Now, of course, I do not know what will happen, not for sure. But here is a thread based on research:

The take away: taking this “shame them…be as uncivil to them as to us” approach will probably not work for us. Right wingers really aren’t as united by policy as it might appear; what holds them together is tribalism…”white nationalism” if you will. So they might actually like some of our policy ideas (e. g. single payer) but are prone to overlooking that with “these evil liberals are trying to destroy your way of life by bringing all of these funny looking people into OUR COUNTRY” arguments rants.

For all of their cries of “identity politics”, they are “identity politics on steroids”.

Yes, they are shameless hypocrites.

On the other hand, we are really more about policy. Playing the “shun and shame game” won’t win us voters, won’t help us win independents and will not be effective at getting our voters to the polls.

So, for me, it is about WINNING not about “giving them what they deserve”.

Yes, the issues are serious. But how are those “hound ’em in public” going to change anything?

No one is asking you to socialize with these people. But what I am saying is that maybe, just maybe, we can chip away a few business owners who were hurt by Trump’s visa and tariff policies.

To me, victory is more important than righteously expressed anger, and I’ve yet to read anything convincing about how righteous anger helps winning.

As President Obama said: “don’t boo. Vote.”

June 26, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Political umpires and lying

I admit that I am getting frustrated. Yes, there are serious issues facing us, but I’ve managed to get into discussions about public officials getting served in places of business.

The arguments devolve into “hey, these are serious times and we need to FIGHT them with all we have” or “hey, this isn’t like the cake episode because of …”

My perspective: I really don’t feel badly for the government officials; they are wealthy and can always go to a more expensive place. I do wonder if this is helping us in the long run; my guess is that it isn’t. I was hoping that some of the problems with things like visas and tariffs would depress turnout but this sort of running off at the mouth might well fire them up.

This is a massive political gift to the GOP, IMHO.

Oh, again, you can make arguments as to why such actions are morally justified, but there is no referee ruling on the justness of our actions. There are only results at the polls.

And frankly, we are are almost always outgunned there, and not just because the set up of the Senate and House gerrymandering gives conservatives an outrageous amount of over representation.

Think of the competing messages:

1. You are great and would be AHEAD if government wasn’t giving your hard earned tax dollars to lazy moochers and losers.

2. Ok, frankly, you’ll probably end up in the same economic class you started in. So here are some programs that will make your very average life better (stronger Social Security, better funding for Medicaid and Medicare, higher minimum wage (who in the hell wants a minimum wage job?))…

And think of who we stand up for: illegal immigrants, refugees, bottom tier workers, convicted criminals (making sure that convicted felons have the right to vote), drug law violators, single moms, transgenders who want to use the “other” locker rooms, etc. None of these things are political winners, though some might check a box saying “ok, I am ok with that”…these are not issues that the public would go to the mat for.

Our road is a tough one.

Aside note Our immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker debate: remember that we are having a First World caliber debate. This is what happens elsewhere:

From this isolated frontier post deep in the sands of the Sahara, the expelled migrants can be seen coming over the horizon by the hundreds. They look like specks in the distance, trudging miserably across some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain in the blistering sun.

They are the ones who made it out alive.

Here in the desert, Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, stranding them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).

In Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 15-kilometer (9-mile) no man’s land to Assamaka, less a town than a collection of unsteady buildings sinking into drifts of sand. Others, disoriented and dehydrated, wander for days before a U.N. rescue squad can find them. Untold numbers perish along the way; nearly all the more than two dozen survivors interviewed by The Associated Press told of people in their groups who simply could not go on and vanished into the Sahara.

“Women were lying dead, men….. Other people got missing in the desert because they didn’t know the way,” said Janet Kamara, who was pregnant at the time. “Everybody was just on their own.”

Her body still aches from the dead baby she gave birth to during the trek and left behind in the Sahara, buried in a shallow grave in the molten sand. Blood streaked her legs for days afterward, and weeks later, her ankles are still swollen. Now in Arlit, Niger, she is reeling from the time she spent in what she calls “the wilderness,” sleeping in the sand.

Workout notesweights plus a 2 mile walk.

Weights: usual pt, pull ups (good: 2 sets of 15, 2 of 10), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, incline: 7 x 150, decline: 6 x 170, military: 1 set of 10 x 50, 2 sets of 10 x 45, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110, usual abs, plank sucked again (2:30), easy walk.

June 25, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

A few of my more unpopular ideas…

1. Beggars can’t be choosers. If someone else is supporting you, you really don’t get a say in much.
2. The less you understand about a situation, the simpler the situation appears to be.
3. Only a tiny percentage of us are really, really good at anything (e. g. national class or higher). Yes, this includes me.
4. Most people are very average (and so are their kids). Yes, this includes me.
5. We tend to grade ourselves on a curve but grade others on an absolute scale.
6. The idea is that there is some deity that concerns itself with human affairs is silly.
7. Unless you are super famous (e. g. POTUS), there are about 7.4 billion people who do not care about you at all.
8. Many of the poor are not easy to like.
9. Mostly poverty is the cause of self-destructive behavior, though *sometimes* is really is the other way around. Most of us have that one relative….
10. Much of human behavior is genetically determined.
11. Humans are NOT blank slates; aptitudes vary between individuals.
12. Saying “X follows religion A” really tells you NOTHING about the morality of that individual. Morality and religious beliefs are independent things.
13. I am not obligated to respect beliefs, be they religious or not.
14. Humans are genetically predisposed to reason inductively. That is what accounts for prejudice.
15. In human societies, members of the majority culture have a presumption of “goodness” (good until proven otherwise). That is flipped for those from minority cultures.
16. Humans are tribal. We tend to treat “the underdogs” badly. There is no “more evil” race; only “who is in power at this time in human history”.
17. You shouldn’t have more kids than you can support. Parents are responsible for raising their kids (though unforeseen bad things CAN happen…to anyone).
18. If you are doing well, there was probably quite a bit of good fortune involved, no matter how hard you worked. Success is a result of BOTH hard work and good fortune.
19. Shame can be a good thing; it helps me behave better. (“how would I like it if my friends and loved ones saw me doing that?”)

June 25, 2018 Posted by | ranting | Leave a comment

Weather Part II (and a sweep)

I slept in too long and decided to do a 3 hour (1:30 out, 1:30 back) turned into a 1:31 out and back to give myself a landmark I could find on the map.

This did not include the goose loop; and it went in front of the Riverplex, not behind. I turned around just before the hill to the mausoleum in Springdale. Then I did a .4 walk to make sure I got 12; that was 3:02 for 12.3, 3:10 for 12.7.

As you can see, it was a bit sticky but nothing like the ghastly steam bath last weekend. My mistake is that I did not drink and made up for it during the afternoon.

But 12.3 at 14:50 mpm on a hilly training walk; (equally paced segments): at this stage, I’ll take it. As much as possible, I’d like to alternate these with traditional longish walks; build these to 4 hours and the long walks to 5 hours.

Baseball I saw the Chiefs take care of business, winning 4-2 over the Bees. I had front row tickets but bought extra back row tickets to get shade.

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Bees at Chiefs

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The Chiefs appear to be a very confident team right now. BUT…the Cardinals are good about promoting their players; my guess is that many of these guys will get called up.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | baseball, walking | | Leave a comment

What a difference temperature makes

This morning I shuffled 9 miles in 1:54 (ghastly slow; 56 out, 58 back …I had a couple of runners to speed me up on the way out). Easy, relatively cool temperatures…what I wish I had last Saturday. My legs…ugh…kind of without power. But the good news is that I was 196 on the Riverplex scale PRIOR to running; that is a good number, relative to last year. If I can take another 10..even another 7 off I should be shaping up.

But that is how it goes; after running I saw an old running friend (triathlon really…) and we chatted a bit. None of us were what we once were. I never thought that I’d be “running” 12:40 miles though. Yeah, it was a little humid and I wasn’t fresh, but still…I never thought I’d see the day where a 10 minute mile was “fast”.

But hey, when I was racing 5K’s at a 6:30 pace, I often did runs like these in the high 8’s to low 9’s, and today’s pace was VERY comparable to a 9 minute 5K race pace..which I haven’t actually DONE in a while…hmmm…

Course: Front of Riverplex to Bishop hill via the goose loop in each direction. The “out” part is somewhat up hill…so it is a bit surprising to me that my return was a bit slower, but then again, I had no runners in my sight as I had on the way out.

Saw the Chiefs sweep a double header vs. the Bees last night: 6-1 in the first, 4-3 in the second.

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Ok, @babsatlarge saved the day.

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The first game: the Chiefs got all the runs they needed in the first inning, both on plays involving 3’rd base. In one play: an attempt by the catcher to pick off the runner on 3’rd went over the 3’rd basemen’s head allowing the runner to score. Then with two outs, a ground ball got past the 3’rd basemen to score the second run.

The Chiefs were efficient in not stranding runners and the pitcher had a good night, pitching 4 strong innings before being relieved in the 5’th.

Second game: this saw the Chiefs get 2 in the 2’nd, Bees 2 in the 3’d and Chiefs 2 in the 3’d…in all cases, the 2 runs came with 2 outs!

In the 2’nd, there were two outs with no one on and the Chiefs hit back to back home runs to left field. In the 3’rd, there was an out and a good bunt base hit, but the runner was thrown out trying to steal second. So with 2 outs and no one on, the Bees got a single, and that runner scored off of a triple. A wild pitch allowed the second runner to score.

But in the bottom..the Chiefs got 2 runs ..again with 2 outs! That ended the scoring thanks to good relief pitching on both sides..though the Bees got a run with …2 the 7’th.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | baseball, running | , | Leave a comment

Misleading, staged and out of context photos

No, this kid was not separated from her mom.

The widely shared photo of the little girl crying as a U.S. Border Patrol agent patted down her mother became a symbol of the families pulled apart by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border, even landing on the new cover of Time magazine.

But the girl’s father told The Washington Post on Thursday night that his child and her mother were not separated, and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed that the family was not separated while in the agency’s custody. In an interview with CBS News, Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz, who was among the first to encounter the mother and her daughter at the border in Texas, said the image had been used to symbolize a policy but “that was not the case in this picture.”

Ruiz, who was not available for an interview Friday, said agents asked the mother, Sandra Sanchez, to put down her daughter, nearly 2-year-old Yanela, so they could search her. Agents patted down the mother for less than two minutes, and she immediately picked up her daughter, who then stopped crying.

This one is flat out staged.

This was from 2014.

Yes, there were differences between the Trump and Obama policies.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment