Michigan and Mississippi primaries today (and other topics)

Workout notes Too pretty to run inside, so I did my hilly 8.1 Cornstalk course. I didn’t time myself, but I did leave at 7:15 and finished at 8:43 and didn’t cough that much afterward. Wonderful run, even if it was too damned slow.

Illinois Football: I am seeking to upgrade my season tickets; I’ll know in a month if I can. There may be more renewals due to the hiring of a new, high profile coach.

Personal I don’t know where this comes from, but when I feel that I’ve been wronged, I feel “unfulfilled” if I haven’t told the other party off, or told them off in a vigorous enough manner. That is, of course, counterproductive and illogical.

Personal Dammit, I miss “my girls”!

Mathematics/Statistics: Here is what a p-value means: a p-value is the probability that one would observe the given observed data, IF the null hypothesis were true. Example: Suppose you assumed that a coin was fair and that the probability of obtaining a head on a single toss is .5. So if one tossed a coin 10 times and obtained 8 heads, the probability of obtaining 8 more more heads, given that the coin was fair, is 0.0546875. THAT is the definition of p-value. Too many do not understand this.

Primaries: according to, Hillary Clinton has a 99 percent chance of winning the Michigan and of winning the Mississippi primaries. Trump has a 92 percent chance of winning Michigan today.

As far as the odds for the general election:


So Hillary Clinton’s odds are better than they’ve ever been, though Sanders’ odds of being the nominee scooted from being a 14-1 underdog to a 12-1? That is curious.

And noted that Hillary Clinton is running “close” to President Obama. Here is why:

8marchpresidents Right now President Obama is at 49 percent approval in the Gallup and is riding slightly above the historical trend, and well, well above where President Bush was at this time in his presidency. Oh, don’t worry; your favorite ranting right wing uncle won’t believe it.:-)

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social, running | , , , , , | Leave a comment

trouble sleeping…

I’ve been weird; I had trouble falling asleep (perhaps I ought to try to read one of my old math papers?) so I gave myself an extra hour.

So I swam in the morning and left my back pack in my locker to force myself to the gym at lunch time: “no gym” = “no lunch”.

Swim: 1000 free, 5 x (100 fins, 100 pull, 100 free), 2 x (25 fly, 25 back), 50 side. That was 2650 yds. I got pushed by two speedy runners who were doing swim workouts (Religion Professor and Mechanical Engineering). I shared a lane with Mike for a while too.

Weight: 184.5 before swimming.

Lifting (over lunch); pull ups: 15-15-10-10 (strong)
rotator cuff
incline press: 10 x 135, 7 x 150 (weak), 10 x 140
military: dumbbell, standing: 3 sets of 10 x 40
rows: Hammer Machine: 3 sets of 10 x 200
abs (twist crunch, yoga leg lifts, 2 sets each, moving bridge),
headstand (easier on the mat on the floor than on the soft mat.

Comment The rhetoric over replacing the late Antonin Scalia is absurd. Of course, the Senate does have the right (duty) to “advise and consent” but that doesn’t mean “refuse to consider” before the President even nominates someone.

And this “election year” stuff is nonsense: President Obama won reelection handily and his term is 4 years, not 3.

Now if the Republicans were saying “ok, let’s see who you nominate; we are willing to work with you” and they negotiate a moderate nomination that they can live with. that is fine with me. I’d like to Sen. McConnell supply President Obama with a realistic short list of “we can live with these” names.

February 15, 2016 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, swimming, weight training | | Leave a comment

Those who need to try harder…

Workout notes: first, I weighed 190.0 prior to swimming (a LOT of coffee beforehand) and 187.5 afterward. Yes, I ate too much meat last night.
Swim: I had slightly sore shoulders last night. But 3100 yards was no problem:
500 easy, then: 5 x 100 alt fist/free on 2:10 (1:48-1:52), 5 x 100 25 catch up, 75 free on 2:10 (1:50ish), 5 x 100 alt. drill, free (front, 3g), 5 x 100 (25 fly, 75 free) on 2:10 (1:55 each).
Then 200 back, 100 side, then 100 pull, 100 free, 100 pull.

Run: riverplex track, 32 laps of the outer lane in 39:52 (10:49, 10:09, 10:02, 8:51). At the advertised 7 1/3 laps to the mile, this was 9:14 pace with miles being 9:55, 9:18, 9:12, 8:12.
There was an older guy in lane 3 who wouldn’t let me pass him; he picked it up every time and mostly stayed just a step ahead of me. I think it was fun for both of us; I gave him a “I’ve got 1 lap to go” warning at the end.

Jerry Coyne weighs in on why the study of literature appears to be waning. This sort of dovetails into Steven Pinker’s claim that literature may have helped make society less violent by allowing us to empathize with others.

US Sailors: caught and released by Iran. Yes, I like a President who bends over backwards to avoid a violent response.

Trying harder I’ve kept up with the St. Louis losing the Rams back to Los Angeles story. There was some anger and self pity as well as sober self-reflection.

One view I am reading is “wow, ST. Louis went out of its way to try to keep the Rams; Oakland and San Diego did nothing and yet they still have their teams. That doesn’t make sense”.

Well, it might. San Diego and Oakland are probably better markets; Oakland for being in the Bay Area and Sand Diego is a more prosperous region. True, the Rams sold out when they were good, and the crowds grew sparse as the team got worse. But compare this to, say, the almost always mediocre Bears. Their tickets were always more in demand, even when the team stunk. It is a much bigger market.

Of course, there is the caveat that there was a reason the Rams left Los Angeles to begin with. I remember making a game in 1984; the Rams were a playoff team that featured 2000+ yard running back Erick Dickerson. And yet tickets were plentiful and I had a whole row of seats to myself; the announced attendance was 47,800. A losing Rams team got more than that in St. Louis.

But evidently they see potential.

January 13, 2016 Posted by | Barack Obama, education, NFL, politics, politics/social, running, swimming | Leave a comment

President Obama’s hard hitting State of the Union address

You can watch it and read the text here. Some of it was traditional. But much of it hit key points:

1. He attacked some of the extremist rhetoric that we are hearing on the campaign trail, such as Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim refugees and immigrants or Cruz’s proposal to “carpet bomb”.
2. He called out the climate change deniers big time: “we didn’t deny that Sputnik was up there but instead…” rose to the challenge.
3. He pointed out that terrorism, while being a safety issue, isn’t an existential threat. And the Cold War is over.
4. He pointed out that much of the strength of the United States comes from places OTHER THAN the military. Example: we helped lead the way in saving lives with the ebola crisis. The respect that we get from the world should not stem from a fear of being bullied.
5. He also called out gerrymandering (politicians selecting voters rather than the other way around).

I liked it, but of course, Republican heads are exploding.

January 13, 2016 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Why conservatives get called out so much

Some conservative made this cartoon about college students being coddled and “protected” from competing ideas on college campuses:


On one hand, I agree that it is dumb to think that college students are qualified to dictate campus policy and some go to far in protecting the “sensitive ears” of those who are deemed to be part of “oppressed classes” and, at times, we don’t fact check our liberal friends because of “solidarity”.

On the other hand, look at what is over the crib.

There is a Hillary Clinton campaign logo; in fact Hillary Clinton is viewed as being “too establishment” for many liberals.

And notice the Barack Obama campaign logo. In fact, President Obama said this:

This is the heart of what Obama said:

“I’ve heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative, or they don’t want to read a book if it had language that is offensive to African Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women,” Obama said Monday while speaking at a town hall meeting at North High School in Des Moines. “I’ve got to tell you, I don’t agree with that either — that you when you become students at colleges, you have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them, but you shouldn’t silence them by saying you can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.”

Obama, who spent just more than a decade teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said what the vast majority of college faculty think about intellectual freedom and freedom of expression on campus: Ideas need not be popular, palatable or even easy to digest to merit discussion. College is a place where ideas of all kinds should be openly explored. Theories are, after all, like viruses; they build on one another.

Conservatives get called out because many of their ideas are wrong.:-)

But hey, I’ll borrow from the style of one prominent conservative:

Wonder why they hire such untalented cartoonist; he is a real dummy who doesn’t know what he is talking about. No wander they are failing!

December 3, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, hillary clinton, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Obama, Putin, Republicans and Gohmert

President Obama landed a body blow to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates:

And no, being asked about your tax plan numbers not adding up is not an unfair debate question.

Louie Gohmert: he said that support to “impeach President Obama” was not widespread. The way to read this: remember the district that he represents (in East Texas) is a bit like this:


His constituents live in a bubble where they KNOW that “everyone” (save a few miscreants) wants President Obama to be impeached.

November 3, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Still recovering (and some cool Obama smackdowns…)

Workout notes: 2000 yard swim (500, 5 x 50 drill (fins), 50 free, 8 x 100: 4 on 2:05 (1:47-48 each), 4 on 2:10 (1:51-53, got tired), 200 strokes. T
Then a 5K walk (Lower Bradley Park) then light yoga; included headstand and some “low crow”.

I am not “quite” over my cold but getting there.

I’ve been busy with actuarial math (yuck). I have noticed that Canada put the Liberal Party back in power (here and here) though their Liberal party is really a “left of center” party by Canada standards. Then again, their “conservatives” would be “US Democrats”.

So, I’ll post some fluff: my favorite Obama highlights

Trump roast

Obama’s 2016 jokes

Smack down 1

Smack down 2

Smack down 3

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, swimming, walking | , | Leave a comment

Clinton and the TPP…meh..

Hmmm, so today Hillary Clinton said this:

In an interview Wednesday with PBS’s Judy Woodruff in Iowa, Clinton said, “As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.

The former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner cited the “high bar” she set earlier in the year as the reason she was giving the deal a thumbs down.

“I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security and I still believe that is the high bar we have to meet,” Clinton said.

She added: “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.”

Emphasis mine. Note how artful this statement is; it has qualifications. However this TPP proposal is a bit different than it was at first, as even “lukewarm critic” Paul Krugman noted:

What I know so far: pharma is mad because the extension of property rights in biologics is much shorter than it wanted, tobacco is mad because it has been carved out of the dispute settlement deal, and Rs in general are mad because the labor protection stuff is stronger than expected. All of these are good things from my point of view. I’ll need to do much more homework once the details are clearer.

But it’s interesting that what we’re seeing so far is a harsh backlash from the right against these improvements. I find myself thinking of Grossman and Helpman’s work on the political economy of free trade agreements, in which they conclude, based on a highly stylized but nonetheless interesting model of special interest politics, that

An FTA is most likely to politically viable exactly when it would be socially harmful.

The TPP looks better than it did, which infuriates much of Congress.

So, I wonder…this woman chooses her words very carefully. Of course, Sanders supporters are declaring victory (“See, she’s feeling THE BURN”) but, well, as far as the deal goes, I am ambivalent. I suppose if I had to choose, I’d trust President Obama here, and yes, I know that means going against the knee jerk anti-trade woo-woos..though this deal really isn’t that much about trade.

So, on this issue, I am at odds with Sec. Clinton. Sort of. It really isn’t THAT important to me, either way.

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, economics, economy, hillary clinton, social/political | , | Leave a comment

On President Obama: Once people’s minds are made up…(left and right)

I was going to call this “Obama derangement syndrome” but I remember going through something like with with President Bush. Once he decided to invade Iraq, I turned against him. Sure, I DID vote for Al Gore in 2000 and was disappointed when the SCOTUS decided to go his way; this was a case of a statistical tie being resolved by a Republican Supreme Court.

But it turns out that President Bush did do a few good things toward the end of his second term and he did some good work combating disease in Africa. But it took a very long time for my ice to thaw.

And so it goes with President Obama.

From the left: many still see him as a corporate sellout and even praise from the liberal wing isn’t enough to change their mind. So when it comes out that the TPP might not be the horrible thing that some say (still figuring out all the details)…well, these critics remain unwilling to consider the new evidence.

But that is nothing compared to the “Obama is the antichrist” crowd. Listening to the media, one might conclude that President Obama is the most hated president ever. In fact, his approval numbers are tracking the historical average, almost perfectly.


In short: he has been pretty typical, in terms of approval. If you want low: look at President Bush.

Now some of the permanent Obama haters (left) pointed out that “approval” is not the same as “doing a good job” and I agree with that statement. Personally, I think that he has done a fine job: he has wound down some US involvement in wars, taxed the rich, stopped the job losses, gotten us at least a little economic stimulus, ended “don’t ask, don’t tell”, strengthened gay rights and gotten us health care.

But some of the left think that we shouldn’t have any war (I agree, but don’t see that as ever happening, under anyone) and we should have a more European socialist/capitalist economy. Those on the right: the elite Republicans are furious that the most wealthy have to pay more tax and the rank and file are angry that their version of America (straight, white, protestant, the rest of the world bowing to us) has been exposed as being unrealistic.

Ironically, President Obama’s conservative critics (I am talking about the sane ones; not the “Obama is a Kenyan Muslim” ones) have a more realistic appreciation of some of what President Obama has accomplished than many of the left wing critics.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social | Leave a comment

Obama’s “Third Term” remark: supporters, detractors and media miss the point!

I admit that flinched a bit when I saw this article being passed around:


And of course:

supporters: “I’d vote for him again; he is doing well”. (disclaimer: this was me at first, until I watched the remarks for myself)
detractors: “what an arrogant SOB, ….”

But for the context:

As he wrapped up what may be his final trip to Africa while in office, Mr. Obama took aim at some of the continent’s gerontocracy and called on long-entrenched leaders to step down, declaring that “nobody should be president for life.” But it led to an off-the-cuff riff about his own improved political standing and his future.

“I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” Mr. Obama said, departing from his prepared text in a speech at the African Union. “I think if I ran, I could win.”

“There’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving,” he added. “But the law is the law,” he said, “and no person is above the law, not even the president.”

The comments reflect a bitter issue in Africa: the attempts by some leaders to hold onto power well beyond their terms expire. Just this month, the president of Burundi pushed through with elections that gave him a third term in office, throwing his nation into upheaval in a move widely regarded as violating the country’s constitution and a peace agreement that ended a devastating civil war.

The part in bold text is the point of this speech! Really! Watch for yourself:

People, supporters and detractors alike, are missing the point, and much of this stems from the headlines in the media.

Of course, this is typical. President Obama can’t run for a third term. But Secretary Clinton is running, and expect to hear “What difference does it make” (on Benghazi) again and again.

So a bit of context will be helpful:

Johnson: But, Madame Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained?

Clinton: But, Senator, again—

Johnson: Within hours, if not days?

Clinton: Senator, you know, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on, number one—

Johnson: I realize that’s a good excuse.

Clinton: Well, no, it’s the fact. Number two, I would recommend highly you read both what the ARB said about it and the classified ARB because, even today, there are questions being raised. Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown —

Johnson: No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that — an assault sprang out of that — and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.

Clinton: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.

Johnson: OK. Thank you, Madame Secretary.

So you see, she made this statement in the context of “at that time, we had other concerns”. The important fact, at that time, was that there was an attack and that we had to find a way to get help; the cause of the attack was something to deal with AFTER the initial emergency was over.

But don’t expect her detractors to admit that, even though it is as clear as day. Remember: politics “makes us stupid”; we seek isolated quips and factoids that confirm what we already think that we “know”.

And yes, “both sides” do this:

President Bush ignited a Democratic inferno of criticism on Monday by suggesting the war on terrorism could not be won, forcing his aides to scramble to defend his remarks just as he had hoped to bask in convention accolades.

On the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Mr. Bush sought to emphasize the economy, but his comments on terrorism dominated national attention.

In an interview on NBC-TV’s “Today” show, Mr. Bush vowed to stay the course in the war on terror, saying perseverance in the battle would make the world safer for future generations. But he suggested an all-out victory against terrorism might not be possible.

The sad thing is that President Bush was correct and said pretty much what then Senator Kerry said:

President George W Bush launched another offensive against Senator John Kerry’s credentials as commander-in-chief yesterday for saying he wanted to get to a point at which terrorism was merely a “nuisance”.
Mr Bush’s campaign staff seized on remarks Mr Kerry made to the New York Times magazine to accuse him of gravely underestimating the terrorist threat.
Asked what it would it take for Americans to feel safe again, the Democratic candidate drew on his experiences as a prosecutor in the 1970s to give a far less stark view of the threat than Mr Bush.
‘We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance,” he said.
“I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling.
“But we’re going to reduce it, organised crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day.”
Bush supporters saw the remarks as a gift as the president rams home his message that Mr Kerry is not tough enough to lead the fight against terrorism.

Don’t you love it: each side attacked the other side for saying…well, pretty much the same thing.:-)

Campaign season. Expect it.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment


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