I’m Loving This…so far….

Workout notes 5.1 mile run (Cornstalk course) in 52:25.
Then I ate breakfast and walked a couple of routes for my candidates (IL-46: Dave Koehler, US IL-17 Cheri Bustos) who are ahead. Yeah, it rained for most of the time and my feet got cold. But lunch with Lynn and her friend helped. I also got to see Cheri Bustos and Jehan Gordon.

The Presidential race:

I like what I see in the Senate Race: Claire McCaskill, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Donnelly.

So far, so good.

November 7, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, Cheri Bustos, Claire McCaskill, Mitt Romney, political/social, politics, politics/social, running | Leave a comment

Todd Akin’s “rape victims don’t get pregnant” remark: shades of the Clayton Williams vs. Ann Richards Governor’s race

Yes, Todd Akin made an incredibly stupid remark:

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Ok, is what he said true? Well…no:

A 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency” and is “a cause of many unwanted pregnancies” — an estimated “32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.”

Now, yes, Rep. Akin had a lead on Senator McCaskill by about 8.5 points (roughly 49.5 to 41 percent; they are running for the US Senate seat in Missouri) but this reminds me of the 1990 race for the Governor of Texas between Clayton Williams and Ann Richards.

At the start of the Texas governor’s race, Mr. Williams had a 20 point lead on Ms. Richards, but committed a series of huge gaffes. Among them:
1. On an outdoor ranch weekend with reporters, he quipped: “bad weather is like rape. If it is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”
2. He talked about his days at Texas A&M; he pointed out that he would take trips to the border to “get serviced”.
3. He mentioned that he didn’t know how he voted on a ballot measure that affected how the governor conducted business.
4. He then refused to shake Ann Richard’s hand when they met.

Eventually the lead withered and she won with 52 percent of the vote.
I wonder if there is a parallel here.

I remember the night before the election; I took a poll of my office mates and then of my friends; only one of my friends thought that Richards would win; we all agreed that an “in the bag” election had become very interesting.

August 20, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Claire McCaskill, politics/social, republicans | Leave a comment

Teabagger Dregs

1. At Claire McCaskill’s health care town hall: Woman has a posted that is rolled up; a photographers wonders what it is. The lady unrolls it (in a way that does NOT block the view of anyone else). Someone else sees it, takes it away from her and rips it up. The poster is of Rosa Parks.

2. Here are more antics. Remember the “tough talking” imbecile who butted his way in front of everyone pushing his wheelchair bound son? The Congressman in question offered him a one-on-one meeting; he refused!

3. Major Fail:

But most notable was one of the protesters who benefits greatly by government assistance.

Diane Campbell (pictured) of Kingston, N.H., held a sign with Mr. Obama’s face superimposed on a Nazi storm trooper, a sign, she said, that was made by her chronically ill mother.

Her mother’s hereditary autoimmune disease is treated with expensive transfusions of gamma globulin, paid for by Medicare. Her sister, Louise, was born with no arms and one leg, and is also covered by Medicare, the government-run, health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

“Adolf Hitler was for exterminating the weak, not just the Jews and stuff, and socialism — that’s what’s going to happen.”


What is with these people anyway? Paul Krugman has some thoughts on the matter:

Yes, there’s a lavishly funded industry pushing these stories. But Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and all the others wouldn’t succeed without a receptive audience. So what makes that audience so receptive?

Here’s a thought: maybe we can learn something from Bernie Madoff.

How did Madoff pull off his scam? A lot of it probably involved affinity fraud: Madoff’s victims, largely affluent Jews, trusted him in large part because he seemed like one of them.

What I think is going on here, at least partly, is that the peddlers of anti-progressive lies are managing to convince a certain kind of American — white, socially conservative, etc. — that the hate-mongers are people like them; and, even more important, that progressives are Those People, people not like them.

He goes on to say that President Obama’s race is an issue, but this group of people hated President Clinton as well (and yeah, they would have hated Hillary Clinton too).

But the larger point is that this group of people will not be convinced by the evidence; we are probably wise to just make sure that they don’t injure anyone and just blow them off.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Claire McCaskill, health care, morons, republicans | Leave a comment

11 August 09 pm

Workout notes AM: 4 mile walk (50’ish or about 12:30 mpm)
PM: public track meet; 2 mile warm up,
800 meters in 3:18 (1:36, 1:42). I had to force myself to try to speed up on lap 2.
some stuff to keep lose
5000 meters: 26:30 (8:07, 8:31, 8:43, 1:07).
I didn’t have a lot left but I should have finished stronger than I did.

It was somewhat warm (81 F, 54 percent humidity) and the track made it feel a bit warmer, but mostly it was the 800 that took it out of me. Three ladies got away from me; the one in shiny black spandex was doing a perfect pace (8 minutes) but I couldn’t stay with her and the other lady who I got away from a bit early got me in the last 100 m. One just stayed out of reach the entire time.

Mathematics notes My progress on the paper write up continues. I found that I was a bit too terse in one of my “bounded below” arguments though I was correct.

Town Halls
Yes, I wish that single payer were on the table but it isn’t. But watch Senator McCaskill handle hecklers:

More Republican stupidity
Have you heard about “union thugs” who got into a health care event ahead of Republican protesters? It is partially true; the SEIU sponsored an event and reserved seats for some of the members and those members were let in. Yes, that is what the Republicans were complaining about.

Elections: an essay which basically argues that President Obama won mostly because it was a Democratic year; outside of the heavily Appalachian states he outperformed Kerry by about 5 points across the board.

Science/Nature: yes, a new species of frog: the flying frog was discovered.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Claire McCaskill, frogs, health care, mathematics, nature, running, science, time trial/ race, training, walking | 1 Comment

23 june pm (links)

Yoga; watch and learn how to learn Scorpion:

Security: It is possible to figure out what is being printed by “listening” to the printer!

Science: See an excellent photo of a “poison dart” frog here.

Evolution: a plant has learned to mimic sickness to keep insects from eating it.

Science and Academia Women have different career patterns in science; female Ph. Ds actually go into academia at a lower rate than men do.

Religion and Science: a cosmologist gives his take on science and religion. What is interesting is how he notes that many who think that religion and science are compatible redefine religion in a big way.

Health care Senator McCaskill points out that she is being targeted over this and that the fight will be hard and protracted.

Here is a satire on some of the dumber objections:

President Obama: Had a press conference. Note to reporters: he IS smarter than you. Be aware of that. 🙂

Here is an edited version

To see all of it (or to pick and choose parts), go to CNN.

Here is the whole thing from start to finish (53 minutes)

June 24, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, atheism, Barack Obama, Claire McCaskill, Democrats, economy, education, evolution, frogs, Middle East, nature, obama, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science, superstition, world events, yoga | Leave a comment

Friday Evening Quips (6 March 2009)

We have great weather at the moment (68 F, sunny), but with this being Illinois, that is going to change very quickly. I sure hope that I can get outside for at least some of my training this weekend, even if only for an hour or two. I’ll go out in the rain, but not in a heavy thunderstorm.

Science and Society
President Obama will remove the federal money ban on stem cell research.

Bad Science Analogies: It is all the worse when the user doesn’t know that they are bad analogies.

From The Tao of Physics to What the Bleep Do We Know?, quantum mechanics has been a favorite target for wildly misguided cultural appropriations. That’s hardly surprising; quantum mechanics is hard, and not many physicists understand it at a deep level. The only interesting argument is whether “not many” in that sentence should be replaced by “no.”

Yesterday I stumbled across two invocations of quantum mechanics in very different contexts. First, via 3quarksdaily, historian John Lukacs muses on the centrality of our nature as human beings to our ability to apprehend and understand the world.

All of this happened during and after three-quarters of a century when physicists, inventing and dependent on more and more powerful machines, have found more and more smaller and smaller particles of matter, affixing them with all kinds of names. Until now, well into the 21st century, it is (or should be) more and more likely that not only A Basic Theory of Everything but also the smallest Basic Unit of Matter will and can never be found. Why? Because these particles are produced by scientists, human beings themselves.

Every piece of matter—just as every number—is endlessly, infinitely divisible because of the human mind. Some scientists will admit this. Others won’t.

It goes on like that at great length; it was hard to choose a representative excerpt. Basically, Lukacs is making a mistake resembling that which I accused Paul Davies of some time back — demanding that properties of as-yet-known physical theories conform to some cherished metaphysical presuppositions. In reality, the fact that scientists built the apparatuses that produce elementary particles doesn’t tell us anything at all about whether a Theory of Everything is an attainable goal. It may or may not be, but our status as conscious human beings doesn’t have anything to say about it.

Professor Moran at Sandwalk comments on a recent popular-science article about human evolution:

This is a follow-up to my earlier posting about the latest issue of Discover magazine [Ascent of Darwinism]. I want to discuss another article in that issue: “Are We Still Evolving” by Kathleen McAuliffe. The title of the web version is: They Don’t Make Homo Sapiens Like They Used To.

In a minute we’ll look at the quality of science journalism in this article, but first a little background.

The point of the article is that human evolution may have accelerated enormously in the past 40,000 years. The idea is based almost entirely on a few papers by John Hawks and his colleagues. What they did was to look at various polymorphisms in the human genome. The most common variants are single nucleotide mutations (single nucleotide polymorphism = SNP = “Snips”). Some people will have one tpe of variant while other people will have another. Almost all of these variants are neutral—they have no visible or functional effect—but some of them will affect fitness. […]

The work is controversial. Many people are skeptical of both the result and the explanation. The general consensus among evolutionary biologists is “wait and see.” They treat this as a preliminary result because they are well aware of the technical problems and how easy it is to score false positives. The technology is not foolproof.

Evolutionary biologists are not surprised by the claim that humans are evolving. The textbooks are full of examples of recent human evolution by both natural selection and random genetic drift. Besides, the evidence is all around us—you only have to look at the different appearance of people in Africa, Asia, and Europe to see the obvious. We also have the well-studied examples of human migration out of Africa and of coalescence to identify Mitochondria Eve. This is more evidence of recent human evolution.

So, evolutionary biologists aren’t the least bit surprised by evidence of human evolution but they’re skeptical of this particular study because it claims recent accelerated human evolution. The paper isn’t that exciting to most people who know about evolution.

The popular press had a fit, aided and abetted by the PR departments at several universities and, more recently, by a newly published book: The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.

This brings us to the article in Discover. The author, Kathleen McAuliffe, is a freelance writer who specializes in science and medicine. She has an M.A. in natural science. She just won an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship “to continue her research into human evolution from the Stone Age to the present.”

Here’s how the article begins ….

For decades the consensus view—among the public as well as the world’s preeminent biologists—has been that human evolution is over. Since modern Homo sapiens emerged 50,000 years ago, “natural selection has almost become irrelevant” to us, the influential Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould proclaimed. “There have been no biological changes. Everything we’ve called culture and civilization we’ve built with the same body and brain.” This view has become so entrenched that it is practically doctrine. Even the founders of evolutionary psychology, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, signed on to the notion that our brains were mostly sculpted during the long period when we were hunter-gatherers and have changed little since. “Our modern skulls house a Stone Age mind,” they wrote in a background piece on the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

I think this is wrong. I do not believe that the consensus among the world’s preeminent evolutionary biologists is that human evolution is over.

The article goes on.
True, technical articles in hard core journals are hard to understand, but at least they aren’t sensationalistic.

Humor: From the Fail Blog:

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Society: Point/sort of counter point
Someone wrote an interesting point lamenting the fact that Bristol Palin’s opinions on “abstinence only” sex education carries more weight with the public than mountains of rigorous evidence:

The Palin Kid recently started her 16th minute of fame with an interview on Fox TV saying, of all things, that her mother’s Neanderthal view of sex and abstinence is “not realistic at all.” The popular media are eating it up: through this wise child who isn’t old enough to drink legally, and who apparently doesn’t know a condom from a pineapple, People, USA Today, CNN and others have discovered that abstinence training does not work. After all, here’s a white, middle-class teen who was trained to avoid sex—and she didn’t!

For years, scientists across America have been saying the exact same thing—not as some charming tale of a lovable kid who creates a lovable kid, but with crystal-clear numbers, logic, predictions, and proof. The data is overwhelming: abstinence programs succeed in getting kids to promise abstinence, but they fail in getting kids to actually abstain. They’re theatre. They’re religion masquerading as education.

By and large, the media have yawned. By and large, the advocates for this failed public policy have said the numbers don’t matter. Science doesn’t matter. Feeling and belief matter. It’s how our country was run for 8 years: feeling and belief (also known as superstition) mattered more than anything, certainly more than science.

The media have colluded with this repulsive development. There should be a headline every single day: “Abstinence training STILL ineffective.”

Instead, we’re told that if you want the real “facts” about teen sexuality, teen pregnancy, and sex education, forget the experts. Forget the Guttmacher Institute, forget SIECUS, forget Doug Kirby. Don’t bother with science.

Instead, just ask this kid, whose mother still believes that other people’s babies come from immorality.

But the counter point: “hey, it is what it is, good for Bristol and let’s use it“.

Claire McCaskill calls the Republicans on their hypocrisy:

Larry Krugman: takes President Obama to task for not making real changes in the area of banking policy:

In his column today, Nobel laureate economist and intermittent critic of the Obama administration, accuses the President and his economic team of “dithering” in their approach to the financial crisis. Writes Krugman:

Many analysts agree. But among people I talk to there’s a growing sense of frustration, even panic, over Mr. Obama’s failure to match his words with deeds. The reality is that when it comes to dealing with the banks, the Obama administration is dithering. Policy is stuck in a holding pattern.

Krugman then goes on to explain this “holding pattern.” He calls the administration out for presenting vague and inchoate proposals aimed at settling investors’ nerves. When each new plan is shot down by “informed commentators”, the administration simply replaces the old plan with a new one, which is actually just a slight variation of its predecessor — and so goes the cycle.

Krugman then goes on to discuss “zombie banks” and suggests that the administration is in denial as to the full extent of the crisis:

So why has this zombie idea — it keeps being killed, but it keeps coming back — taken such a powerful grip? The answer, I fear, is that officials still aren’t willing to face the facts. They don’t want to face up to the dire state of major financial institutions because it’s very hard to rescue an essentially insolvent bank without, at least temporarily, taking it over. And temporary nationalization is still, apparently, considered unthinkable.

More Rush Limbaugh
Michael Moore explains why he isn’t the “Rush Limbaugh of the left”.

Of course there is the fact that Moore is a director rather than a daily talk show host; Moore seems to be more interesting in getting movement on a large policy (health care, out of Iraq) than worrying about an individual politician failing or even a party.

Limbaugh: predicts that Teddy Kennedy will be dead before health care reform is passed.

If I were as fat as Limbaugh, I wouldn’t be making predictions about anyone else’s demise.

A DCCC video lampooning the tendency for Republicans to suck up to Limbaugh:

Political Humor: Leave Limbaugh Alone!

For those who don’t get it, here is the original:

March 7, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, blog humor, Claire McCaskill, Democrats, evolution, humor, obama, political humor, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, Rush Limbaugh, science | 2 Comments

Quickly: Clair McCaskill, Super Bowl Cheetos Commercial

I need to get back to lesson preparation: we are discussing tank problems in differential equations, matrix multiplication (easy) in linear algebra, and the simplicity of the group A5 (alternating group) in abstract algebra.

But I’ll post a couple of videos:

This is a Superbowl commercial for Cheetos:

Here is my best cell phone story: I was eating at Souper Salads (Austin, TX; the spelling is correct; the name is a pun) with my wife and some clown was all but yelling on his cell phone. He didn’t just stay at his table; he actually wandered around the restaurant, passing the tables, waving his free arm widely all the while oblivious to everyone else.

I felt like dumping a pitcher of liquid on the clown.

Now for a more useful rant:

This is the fireball speech that Senator McCaskill made:

February 3, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Claire McCaskill, Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, republicans | Leave a comment