Cartoons and Trolls

Today’s cartoons were unusually good: we have masters degrees that don’t help one’s employment prospects, science, a true fact about the memory-less-ness of the Bernoulli trial and the lack of effort on the part of students.





Then we have troll pages. One of the best troll pages is the Your Tattoos Make You a Horrible Mother Facebook page. People have fallen for it so hard that they become enraged and try to get it shut down; for those of us who like to laugh at clueless outrage, it is an almost endless source of amusement. Yes, I know; I should have better things to do with my time; but this is a bit like a train wreck. I don’t want to look..but I can’t help myself. 🙂

The page attracts outraged people who, well, aren’t the most educated and who don’t write all that well. The usual response is:

1. “I’ve got tattoos and I am a GREAT (or AWESOME) mom and my kids are all geniuses” or “having a tattoo doesn’t make you a bad mom”
2. “YOU SUCK” or some version of “Your (sic) and idiot”, often followed by obscenities, most of which are spelled correctly and
3. Some wish that those who run the page and like the page have a violent demise.

All of this is written at about a 3’rd to 6’th grade level, with a few exceptions.

The idea that the page isn’t advocating that someone do something illegal doesn’t phase the visitors; all they know is that they are offended and therefore want the page shut down.

June 3, 2015 Posted by | blog humor, blogs, humor, statistics | , | Leave a comment

Comrades Marathon: a most unAmerican event (and that is good!)

Workout notes untimed 3 mile run; I didn’t feel as loose and easy as I had hoped. That sometimes happens during a taper.
Then weights (reduced):

rotator cuff exercises
3 sets of 10 pull ups (easy)
incline bench: 10 x 135, 8 x 145, 10 x 135
military press (standing) 2 sets of 10 x 40 (dumbbell)
military press (machine) 1 set of 10 x 100 (each arm; 200 total)
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 110.

That’s it.

Comrades Marathon: this marathon is about 56 miles (depending on the route and year) and a friend has run this twice, and finished it. His report is well written and very fun to read. But this race; well, its rules, which I have deep respect for, wouldn’t play in the United States:

While the course is challenging, that’s not the only reason this is a difficult race. It has a hard 12 hour time limit. When I say hard, I mean 12 hours after the start, the gun goes off and they block the finish line. Nobody else gets to cross the line, much less get an official time. The cutoffs are based on “gun” times (your time from when the gun when off at the start of the race). All runners wear timing chips, but it doesn’t matter when you crossed the starting line. The clock is already running. Runners in the last corral may take as much as 10 minutes to reach the starting line. A cruel reality is that the runners losing the most time are the ones that can least afford it.

To finish the course in 12 hours, you need to average roughly eight minutes per kilometer (or 12:52 per mile). While that’s not a fast pace, you need to maintain it for 12 hours on a hilly course. It’s not unusual for temperatures to get hot in the afternoon. That many hours running in the heat can wear you down. Also, for most of the runners, this is the farthest they’ve ever run.

There are six types of medals you can win, depending on your pace and how high you finish. The top 10 men and women receive gold medals. Other runners finishing within six hours receive Wally Hayward awards, named after a five time winner of the race. The next major cutoff time is 7:30. All other runners beating that time get silver medals. The fourth type of medal is the Bill Rowan medal, named after the winner of the 1921 race. To earn a Bill Rowan medal, you have to finish in nine hours.

Prior to 2003, the final cutoff time was 11 hours. Runners finishing between nine and 11 hours received bronze medals. Since then, the cutoff time has been increased by an hour, making the race accessible to more runners. To receive a bronze medal, however, you still need to finish within 11 hours. Runners finishing between 11 and 12 hours get Vic Clapham medals, named after the founder of the race. […]

As the 12 hour cutoff approached, there was much more drama. The 12 hour bus (pace group) was so big that it took several minutes for them all to stream by.

There were quite a few runners close behind them who still made the cutoff. With 30 seconds to go, we all counted down. As the countdown begins, you realize which runners have time to finish and which ones don’t. Soon they realize it too. This was the look of disappointment when these runners realized that they were only 100 meters away but wouldn’t finish.

When the final gun goes off, the race officials immediately block the finish line. Runners still making their way around the track aren’t allowed to cross the line. Runners are still coming into the stadium, but none of them will finish. Runners who just made the cutoff are exuberant. Runners who just missed are heartbroken. They’ve been out there for 12 hours. They ran 54.5 miles. They didn’t finish.

One one hand, I envy a race like that and have deep respect for those who would try to finish such a race. I also envy that aspect of the culture which permits them to run the race in that manner. It is refreshing to see something that isn’t this “everyone is a winner” BS.

On the other hand, can you imagine that being done in the United States? There would be tears, angry denouncements in the softer running media…probably even lawsuits. 🙂

June 3, 2015 Posted by | blogs, running, walking | | Leave a comment

6:30 a mile mind, 8:30 a mile body

Workout notes weights plus treadmill run after.
Weights: pull ups 15-15-10-10 (hip hikes, Achilles)
Bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 9 x 160 (weak)
military: seated, supported dumbbell: 2 sets of 12 x 50, standing, unsupported: 2 sets of 10 x 40
rows: 3 sets of dumbbell rows: 10 x 65, 1 set of 10 x 200 Hammer
pull down: 3 sets of 7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low.

Run: treadmill to protect the foot: (.5 elevation) 20:47 2 mile, then 29:44, 38:33, 47:14, 55:50, 57:55 for 6.21 (10K).
That was enough to get me tired and sweaty.

Commentary: I run, swim and walk for time. I also follow others who do (Julie, Tammy, Ray, Damon, David, are some of them)

All of these folks have hit performances I’ll never reach. But that isn’t the main point; I just like to see what they are up to and to get some vicarious enjoyment via their race/activity reports.

I also follow what other local people are doing. Most of us have ups and downs; we peak, get on a roll…but that comes to an end and our performance goes down into a valley. Often, we get out of the valley…though as we get older, we don’t quite get all of the way out. Then the next slide down takes us a bit lower…we climb back out…but not quite to the same level as before.

I know that my mind gets stuck in the past and there is still a bit of Walter Mitty in me that thinks that I’ll climb all of the way out. But that won’t happen; it turns out that those who are my current age (55) who run the times that I used to run in my late 30’s were college level runners in their youth.

Evidently I am not alone in having a mind that is beyond my body. At this weekend’s half marathon, a friend was running part of the relay. In her mid to late 40’s, in peak condition, she was a 26-27 minute 5K runner. But she went through some health issues and life challenges and, while she still looks good compared to most women her age, she isn’t in her top running shape.

She started out ahead of me; I caught her on an uphill (I was walking, and walking is more efficient going up hills) and she blew past me going down. But then came the next long, long uphill and I went past her again. Then about midway up, I heard her breathing behind me…..heavy breathing. I thought “this isn’t going to last long” and then soon I heard her say “ok, Friend, you win.” Evidently her mind is ahead of where her body currently is. I sure know that feeling.

And I’ll have to remember that in my upcoming walking marathon. I’d love to walk a 12 minute pace again, but I last did that in 2009 back when I had trained for and finished a muddy 100 miler. I am NOT in that kind of shape, and I am 5 years older. That is reality. For me, 5:30 (12:30 mpm) would be an excellent time; I should probably shoot for 2:40 for a first half split, then 2:50 for the second half. If I go out in 2:25-2:30 for the first half, I’ll die before mile 20 and be unable to finish the race.

September 9, 2014 Posted by | blogs, marathons, running, weight training | | Leave a comment

Kudos to WordPress developers: Beep-boop editor is working right now.

I complained when it didn’t work, so now will tell my readers that it is now working for me. At least for now.

September 8, 2014 Posted by | blogs | | Leave a comment

WordPress: Beep Beep Boop is a failure. Do away with it!

WordPress thought that it would force people to use its “visual editor” instead of the text editor that works so well. Yes, you can still access the text editor via your dashboard (all posts then “add new” or find the post you want to edit and click on edit). Details can be found here.

The pain comes from the “edit this” button on your blog posts being lead to this moronic, buggy editor. When you click the “edit this” button you get a “beep beep boop” screen which is supposed to be a funny way of telling you that the editor is loading; I’ve never had to patience to wait more than a few seconds. The old text editor came up right away. So it is literally quicker to go to the dashboard, search for the post you want to edit and access the text editor right there.

Oh yell, so much for “going professional” on WordPress.

I am not alone


August 25, 2014 Posted by | blogs | , , | 2 Comments

Why did anyone think of me when they saw this?


May 6, 2014 Posted by | blog humor, blogs, humor | , | Leave a comment

Science, new 538, Putin and Oil….

Science here is an interesting development in life science: 1500 year old moss (that had been frozen) has returned to life upon being thawed!

Researchers have demonstrated that, after over 1,500 years frozen in Antarctic ice, moss can come back to life and continue to grow. For the first time, this vital part of the ecosystem in both polar regions has been shown to have the ability to survive century to millennial scale ice ages. This provides exciting new insight into the survival of life on Earth.

Rachel Maddow: has an interesting segment on how the large oil companies can be used to pressure Putin on Crimea.

Nate Silver’s back, up and running. Reviews are mixed:

Here is a piece on economic data. What it says is fine, but it won’t interest me. I wished this piece on hockey goalies had been longer and more analytic. The same is true for this piece on corporations hoarding cash, which also could use more context. Maybe it is I rather than they who is misjudging the market, but to me these are “tweener” pieces, too superficial for smart and informed readers, yet on topics which are too abstruse for the more casual readers. I want something more like the very good Bill Simmons analytic pieces on Grantland, with jokes too, and densely packed narrative, yet applied to a much broader range of topics. Barring that, I am happy to read one very good sentence or two on a topic.
Here is a piece on whether guessing makes sense on the new SAT. It is fine but presents material already covered in places such as NYT.

I love seeing pieces on how statistics are used in real life, and his political poll analysis was spot on. But forecasting results from polls is one thing; trying to use raw data in place of understanding a nuanced discipline is quite another.

And right there you have an important lesson about what it means to take data into account. It very much does not mean changing your views all the time — if you have a model of how the world works, and the model is working, stability in what you say reflects respect for the data, not inflexibility. If I have spent the past 5+ years insisting, over and over again, that in a liquidity trap budget deficits don’t crowd out private spending and expanding the Fed’s balance sheet doesn’t cause inflation, that’s because they don’t. And if I return to those points many times, it’s because too much of the world still doesn’t get it.

Now, about FiveThirtyEight: I hope that Nate Silver understands what it actually means to be a fox. The fox, according to Archilocus, knows many things. But he does know these things — he doesn’t approach each topic as a blank slate, or imagine that there are general-purpose data-analysis tools that absolve him from any need to understand the particular subject he’s tackling. Even the most basic question — where are the data I need? — often takes a fair bit of expertise; I know my way around macro data and some (but not all) trade data, but I turn to real experts for guidance on health data, labor market data, and more.

What would be really bad is if this turns into a Freakonomics-type exercise, all contrarianism without any appreciation for the importance of actual expertise. And Michael Mann reminds me that Nate’s book already had some disturbing tendencies in that direction.

March 19, 2014 Posted by | biology, blogs, economics, economy, science, world events | | 1 Comment

My main post of the evening…

You can find it here.

Have you ever used a drawing program on the computer? Well, the program that draws curved lines uses the concept of the Bézier curve and the post I linked to is from my math blog; I wrote up some notes for my numerical analysis students and decided to post them on my math blog.

Yes, I post about topics OTHER than: politics, football/basketball running/walking/swimming/weight lifting and women’s bespandexed gluteal muscles.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | blogs, mathematics | | Leave a comment

Why would someone say this about me?

At this morning’s Ugly Christmas Sweater 5k, I told Bill Holmes that, when I run, I always look for (and try to appreciate) something I wouldn’t see if I were sitting in my house, on my butt. He responded along the lines of, “Well, I often see some pretty good spandex.” I told him he was channeling Ollie.

Why oh why would anyone say this about me? 🙂 Why would someone who once blogged this say that about me? 😉



December 15, 2013 Posted by | big butts, Blogroll, blogs, running, spandex | 3 Comments

Hoover Presidential Museum today…

Workout notes: weights only; I lifted at the Riverplex so I could be ready to go by 8:30 am. Pull ups: slightly more problematic; 3 sets of 10, then one multi-grip (changed grips) set of 3-1-3, then a set of 5 then one set of 5 plus 5. I did rows with the dumbbells (55 pounds, each arm), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 3 x 180, 3 x 180, 6 x 170, incline: 8 x 135, 7 x 135, pull downs (3 sets of 10 with 155), and I did military presses with the seated machine that used free weights: 10 x 90, 10 x 130, 6 x 180. No, I couldn’t come close to using 180 on a bar.

I did the usual sit ups and added lunches and did curls with the machine.

Once again, Paul Krugman points out that running a private equity company doesn’t mean you understand the economy as a whole.

If you look at the comments, someone challenged me to a boxing match (with headgear). What this person doesn’t realize is that he didn’t understand what my post was about: I was making the case that getting educated does help you think, but it also makes you intellectually overconfident; in short, most educated people I know (myself included) are “smart idiots” at times. Being able to understand complicated stuff in one area speaks to your inherent intellectual abilities, but it can lead to overconfidence when one looks at an area beyond one’s specialization. Example: I probably did better on my SAT/ACT tests than most football coaches. But that doesn’t mean that I understand football the way that they do, and it would take me years of concentrated effort to catch up to them in that area…IF I were ever able to at all. Oh yes: my argument that this “smart idiot” syndrome was NOT just about conservatives; it applies to liberals as well.

But my intellectually lazy reader didn’t read much beyond my headline…or didn’t understand what they read. 🙂

Hoover Museum
My daughter and I went to the Hoover Museum. Upshot: he wasn’t my favorite President, but his bad reputation came mostly from the circumstances he stumbled into (that weren’t of his own making). He also did a lot of good in dealing with the effects of wartime famine.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, blog humor, blogs, economy, weight training | 3 Comments