Finger wagging doesn’t work unless…

Ok, here are some thoughts on a very cold day (and yes, it is snowing …AGAIN)

so this lovely loose, cold snow will cover are already slick, icy residential roads:

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Solid ice.

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This winter has gone from reasonable to brutal very quickly. And our city never handles things well; we are on a downward spiral (much of the tax base has fled..and this is but one consequence)


And there is a bit of good news; evidently the government shutdown is over for now, and maybe the Republicans will get some sanity with regards to the wall.

But the people leaving the city reminds us of a fact: in the vast majority of the cases, you can’t force someone to do something that they don’t want to do unless you have some influence on them. You can’t make people want to live in this frigid, icy, stupidly run (IMHO) wasteland.

I am here because of..well, paychecks. There is something I want. And I stay in the city because I can walk to work (most of the time, without a severe risk of slipping and breaking my neck).

And I think the same thing applies to attitudes. All too often, it appears to me that some attempt to change attitudes by some version of “if you don’t see it this way, you are a horrible person” or “if you don’t see it this way or that way, I won’t like you.”

You sometimes see that attitude in mandated “anti-evil-thing” training that you find in the workplace, and sometimes it backfires!

If you are an employer you can force an employee to take training, but you can’t force them to take it seriously or to internalize it.

And you can hate Trump but you cannot stop others from voting for him (how did 2016 work out?)

In my opinion, IF you have some standing with the person, they might *choose* to listen to you or, if you make a good case, you might be able to *persuade* by logic, reason, etc.

And if you have nothing to offer and nothing that the other person wants, you had better be good at persuasion…”just do it or I think you are: a jerk, a ***ist, etc.” doesn’t change anything.

Workout notes though this horrible winter weather (constant snow, ice, frigid temperatures) put me in a bad mood, my workout went fine? (weight 193)
rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10: strong), bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 185, 7 x 170, decline: 10 x 165, military: 10 x 50 standing, 15 x 50 seated, 10 x 40 standing, 3 sets of 10 one armed rows with 50, planks, etc.

Then 10K on the bike (used “Camel Country” course..set for 10 miles but it was taking longer than I wanted..stopped at 30 minutes).

Fun: I changed my @mathguy19 Twitter cover photo and profile photo:

The cover photo: everything is something I either taught or studied in my own research.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | climate change, mathematics, politics, politics/social, social/political, weight training | Leave a comment

Well, that was interesting…

The Republicans are trying to play things as if climate change is either a hoax, or that there is some question as to the human contribution. So, they are arranging to have a Congressional hearing which will feature the small percentage of scientists that disagree with the current consensus and try to play this as a “one scientist says, the other scientist says” type of thing, which it is not. So how should the mainstream scientists respond? Would boycotting be a better strategy?

Trump’s approval: is approaching where Nixon’s was when impeachment talk became more prominent.

Note: Nixon was at 38 percent disapproval among Republicans at the time.

Yes, I know, disapproval is not grounds for impeachment, and yes, no matter who is president, there are *always” voices that clamor for impeachment (and yes, I thought the idea of impeaching President Bush was ridiculous). So I’ll leave it to others who know more to tell me what high crime or misdemeanor President Trump committed (illegally benefiting from his office?) but let’s just say that I remain highly, highly skeptical. Now that he might say “the heck with it” and leave…who knows.

Workout notes:
Morning: 10K run in 1:04:30; hit 6 miles in 1:01:49. How it went: 10 minute warm up (every 2 minutes) then 8 x 2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3 then 5 at various slow paces before I gave in and walked a bit. At least I got 8 repetitions as opposed to 6 last week.

Evening: exercise class; the steps were interesting.

March 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change, political/social, running, social/political | | Leave a comment

TPP and other topics

Workout notes: end of the semester blues, so I had to force myself into swimming. But swim I did. 1000 straight, then 5 x 200 on the 4: 3:43, 3:43, 3:45, 3:38, 3:31 (more effort) then 200 fin cool down (back and fly)

TPP: Paul Krugman notes that this doesn’t really enhance free trade all that much but is more about intellectual property rights. He counts himself as a “lukewarm opponent” in that he doesn’t think that it will be all that harmful, but it won’t help and he thinks that President Obama has better ways to spend political capital.

I think that I give President Obama some benefit of the doubt here, at least on political grounds.

Speaking of economics water is tight in California. That means: those who can pay astronomical water fees still…use it for their lawns. Let’s face it: this is NOT a “we are all in this together” situation; it never is.

Religion: I think that bad ideas are not worthy of respect. No, I won’t go onto someone’s property (internet or otherwise) and attack their religion, but I’ll speak my mind openly and, some ideas are just plain dumb.

April 28, 2015 Posted by | climate change, economics, economy, politics, politics/social, swimming | , | 1 Comment

I am not slowing down with age…and the globe isn’t warming either.

No, I am not slowing down with age.


1. Tracy Trot 4 miler: 2013: 33:07. 2014: 32:59.
2. Turkey Trot 3 miler: 2013: 24:56. 2014: 24:53
3. River Run: (Certified course) 2011: 26:56. 2012: 25:03 2013: 24:56 2014: 24:42
4. Race for the Cure: 2012: 25:13. 2013: 25:48. 2014: 25:27
5. Run to Remember: 2012: 24:34. 2014: 24:17
6. Best 4 5K runs: 2011: 25:43. 2012: 25:01 2013: 25:04 2014: 24:56

So, by all but one metric (Race for the Cure), I am getting faster with age!

Is that absurd?

Of course it is; in 1998 I ran a few 5Ks under 20 minutes; from 1997 to 1999 I was typically under 21 and my last sub 21 was in 2001; last 7 minutes a mile pace or faster was 2002.

What the mild “local improvement” represents is my improving after knee surgery in 2010; in 2009 I was running mostly 24:00 to 24:20 or so.

Why I bring this up: you see similar absurdities in climate change denial.


November 27, 2014 Posted by | climate change, environment, science, statistics | , , | Leave a comment

Snow and snowjobs

This is an interesting piece about the recent cold spell in the United States. The title is that Americans are “weather wimps”. I don’t know about that, but I know that *I* certainly am! I hate all things cold, snow and icy. But there is an interesting take away:

As the world warms, the United States is getting fewer bitter cold spells like the one that gripped much of the nation this week. So when a deep freeze strikes, scientists say, it seems more unprecedented than it really is. An Associated Press analysis of the daily national winter temperature shows that cold extremes have happened about once every four years since 1900.

Until recently.

When computer models estimated that the national average daily temperature for the Lower 48 states dropped to 17.9 degrees on Monday, it was the first deep freeze of that magnitude in 17 years, according to Greg Carbin, warning meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That stretch — from Jan. 13, 1997 to Monday — is by far the longest the U.S. has gone without the national average plunging below 18 degrees, according to a database of daytime winter temperatures starting in January 1900.

In the past 115 years, there have been 58 days when the national average temperature dropped below 18. Carbin said those occurrences often happen in periods that last several days so it makes more sense to talk about cold outbreaks instead of cold days. There have been 27 distinct cold snaps.

Between 1970 and 1989, a dozen such events occurred, but there were only two in the 1990s and then none until Monday.

“These types of events have actually become more infrequent than they were in the past,” said Carbin, who works at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “This is why there was such a big buzz because people have such short memories.”

Now I am not quite through with this yet. If one models “cold snaps” as a type of Poisson process with a mean of 1 every 4 years, then the probability of having 1 event (or less) in 16 years is about 9 percent. (I used a Poisson calculator with a mean of “4 in a 16 year period” as the mean). That is not really statistically significant (in proving that climate change or some other change has occurred) but it isn’t surprising either.

Snow jobs
Gov. Christ Christie is getting blasted in the media:


Rachel Maddow, and the comedians Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert are having field days.

Some might say “that is just hardball politics” but to me this is a gross abuse of power. Though I thought that Gov. Christie’s apology sounded sincere, others (my wife included) didn’t buy it.

Now as far as Gov. Christie being a bully: sure, some might find his surly manner and the fact that he tells idiots that they are idiots is bullying; I don’t. I don’t think that is good politics though; IMHO part of the job of politicians is to put up with the morons who are so sure that they know all the details and know what is what. One has to suffer fools well. If you can’t do that, become a specialist where one mostly deals with smart people.

But Gov. Christie does have a record of, well, shall we say, actions that sure look like bullying and retribution.

Some might say that he is finished. I don’t. I say that he was never viable to begin with; he is too high tempered and too thin skinned to last long in a national campaign. Seriously: it doesn’t look good for a morbidly obese politician to walk with an ice cream cone while yelling at a constituent.

January 10, 2014 Posted by | climate change, political/social, politics, republicans, science | , , , | Leave a comment

Hunger, sea ice and ACA

The Affordable Care Act: detractors say that businesses are dropping insurance for some of their employees. Here is the OTHER side of that story:

Last week I wrote about Trader Joe’s decision to cut health insurance benefits for employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week. After that, one reader forwarded along a response received from Trader Joe’s after inquiring about the matter. It’s one of the more thorough explanations I’ve seen from a company cutting in benefits, so I’ve posted it here. It acknowledges, surprisingly bluntly, that some employees will be worse off for the decision and that others might benefit. Here is the full response:

Thank you for writing to us. It’s possible you have been misled, at least to some degree, by the headlines in some articles regarding our reasons for implementing the [Affordable Care Act] in January. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some facts.
For over 77% of our Crew Members there is absolutely no change to their healthcare coverage provided by Trader Joe’s.
The ACA brings a new potential player into the arena for the acquisition of health care. Stated quite simply, the law is centered on providing low cost options to people who do not make a lot of money. Somewhat by definition, the law provides those people a pretty good deal for insurance … a deal that can’t be matched by us — or any company. However, an individual employee (we call them Crew Member) is only able to receive the tax credit from the exchanges under the act if we do not offer them insurance under our company plan.
Perhaps an example will help. A Crew Member called in the other day and was quite unhappy that she was being dropped from our coverage unless she worked more hours. She is a single mom with one child who makes $18 per hour and works about 25 hours per week. We ran the numbers for her. She currently pays $166.50 per month for her coverage with Trader Joe’s. Because of the tax credits under the ACA she can go to an exchange and purchase insurance that is almost identical to our plan for $69.59 per month. Accordingly, by going to the exchange she will save $1,175 each year … and that is before counting the $500 we will give her in January.
While we understand her fear of change, at her income level this is a big benefit that we will help her achieve.

The Republicans are interested in cutting SNAP (food stamps) in the name of…freedom?

The right’s definition of freedom, however, isn’t one that, say, F.D.R. would recognize. In particular, the third of his famous Four Freedoms — freedom from want — seems to have been turned on its head. Conservatives seem, in particular, to believe that freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat.

Hence the war on food stamps, which House Republicans have just voted to cut sharply even while voting to increase farm subsidies.

In a way, you can see why the food stamp program — or, to use its proper name, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) — has become a target. Conservatives are deeply committed to the view that the size of government has exploded under President Obama but face the awkward fact that public employment is down sharply, while overall spending has been falling fast as a share of G.D.P. SNAP, however, really has grown a lot, with enrollment rising from 26 million Americans in 2007 to almost 48 million now.

Conservatives look at this and see what, to their great disappointment, they can’t find elsewhere in the data: runaway, explosive growth in a government program. The rest of us, however, see a safety-net program doing exactly what it’s supposed to do: help more people in a time of widespread economic distress.

The recent growth of SNAP has indeed been unusual, but then so have the times, in the worst possible way. The Great Recession of 2007-9 was the worst slump since the Great Depression, and the recovery that followed has been very weak. Multiple careful economic studies have shown that the economic downturn explains the great bulk of the increase in food stamp use. And while the economic news has been generally bad, one piece of good news is that food stamps have at least mitigated the hardship, keeping millions of Americans out of poverty.

Nor is that the program’s only benefit. The evidence is now overwhelming that spending cuts in a depressed economy deepen the slump, yet government spending has been falling anyway. SNAP, however, is one program that has been expanding, and as such it has indirectly helped save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Not only does this program provide “upward” stimulus to the economy (from the economic bottom), it also helps future generations become more successful and productive.

Cutting SNAP: penny wise but pound foolish.

Climate Change
Yes, sea ice area IS up this year over last year, but that was because last year was so bad. The general direction is still downward.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | climate change, economy, environment, health care, republicans, science | , , , , | 1 Comment

Science: camouflaged birds and the sinusoidal jet stream

Camouflaged birds: hat tip to Jerry Coyne:

This bird looks like a piece of rotted tree, when it is staying still. It will do this, even during a rainstorm. It is also very protective of its young.

The jet stream
The jet stream has changed from being more or less “latitude like” to being sinusoidal; this has allowed the cool arctic air to go lower in some places and further up in others; hence we have some weird temperature fluctuations and lots of rain in some places:

Consider these unusual occurrences over the past few years:

— The winter of 2011-12 seemed to disappear, with little snow and record warmth in March. That was followed by the winter of 2012-13 when nor’easters seemed to queue up to strike the same coastal areas repeatedly.

— Superstorm Sandy took an odd left turn in October from the Atlantic straight into New Jersey, something that happens once every 700 years or so.

— One 12-month period had a record number of tornadoes. That was followed by 12 months that set a record for lack of tornadoes.

And here is what federal weather officials call a “spring paradox”: The U.S. had both an unusually large area of snow cover in March and April and a near-record low area of snow cover in May. The entire Northern Hemisphere had record snow coverage area in December but the third lowest snow extent for May.

“I’ve been doing meteorology for 30 years and the jet stream the last three years has done stuff I’ve never seen,” said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private service Weather Underground. “The fact that the jet stream is unusual could be an indicator of something. I’m not saying we know what it is.”

One hypothesis postis a change in a loss of Arctic sea ice as a culprit.

Here is a spectacular example: one town in South Dakota saw a 70 degree rise in temperature, over a 24 hour period!

July 2, 2013 Posted by | biology, climate change, evolution, nature, science | , | Leave a comment

DOMA, climate change and all that

Workout notes
weights: usual hip hikes, achilles, rotator cuff, ab sets (3 sets of 10: crunch, v. crunch, sit back)
squats: 4 sets of 5: 45, 75, 95, 95
pull ups: 2 sets of (4 x 5 reps (tiny rests; change grip), 1 set of 10 (burn!)
dumbbell military/row super set: 3 sets each (12 x 50 military, 10 x 65 row)
incline: 10 x 135, 5 x 155, 7 x 150
curl/pull down super set: 3 sets each: 10 x 160 pull down, 10 x 30 dumbbell curls
back, etc.

See a butterfly that appears to be right side up when it is actually upside down; this fools predators.

President Obama’s climate change battle plan: involves executive orders and science. Here is a short Scientific American write up:

The plan, which consists of a long list of actions the executive branch can take with no help or hindrance from Congress, has three “pillars.” One is to cut carbon dioxide emissions, two is to “prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change,” and three is lead international efforts to achieve the same two goals.

Many of the preview stories streaming across the media focus on the first goal, which includes a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions of 17 percent by 2020, below 2005 levels. The big provisions there are to have the Environmental Protection Agency limit CO2 emissions from power plants, especially coal-fired plants, and from heavy trucks, buses and vans. But little is being written about how the plan intends to reduce death and destruction from the ravages of climate change, including heat waves, more severe storms, storm surges and sea level rise—what Obama calls “American’s climate resilience.”

The plan, released to the media before the speech, calls for conserving land and water, making agriculture more sustainable, reducing the effects of drought and wildfires, improving flood protection, and hardening power plants, hospitals and fuel-supply channels against extreme weather of all kinds. The key to all of that, the plan notes in surprising detail, is more science.

For example, to ensure that flood barriers provide protection long-term, federal agencies will update their standards to account “for sea-level rise and other factors affecting flood risk. This effort will incorporate the most recent science on expected rates of sea-level rise (which vary by region)…” Another example: The Department of Agriculture will create seven new “regional climate hubs” to deliver “tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.”


Weather: we seem to be getting pounded unusually often by lines of thunderstorms. The cause: unusual sinusoidal path of the jet stream. Instead of staying on more or less the same latitude, it is dipping and rising in a circular wave pattern.


Yes, the loss of Arctic sea ice is affecting the path of the jet stream, and did last year (felt mostly in Europe).

Social/Political Issues
No, Keynesianism doesn’t mean “always run deficits” and “always spend”. “Spending for the bust, austerity for the boom”, is the motto.

Gay Marriage: the SCOTUS decision is good news:

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

He said the law was motivated by a desire to harm gay and lesbian couples and their families, demeaning the “moral and sexual choices” of such couples and humiliating “tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

The constitutional basis for striking down the law was not entirely clear, as it had elements of federalism, equal protection and due process. Justice Kennedy said the law’s basic flaw was in its “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

He added that the ruling applied only to marriages in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The part of DOMA that says that states don’t have to recognize same sex marriages made in other states was allowed to stand:

The decision leaves in place another provision in the law that says no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state. That provision was not under challenge.

Still, we need to pass gay marriage in Illinois; the roadblock is the Democratically controlled State House (it has passed the State Senate and the Governor said he’d sign it); the churches are the fly in the ointment.

Of course, some are throwing a tantrum:

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 10.36.06 AM

Sorry, but religions that posit a deity that has “a will” ARE dangerous. Imagine: policy is being decided, in part, by what someone thinks that their imaginary entity thinks.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, climate change, economics, economy, evolution, huckabee, human sexuality, science, social/political, Spineless Democrats, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Disasters, science and curious responses….

Before you say “shut up and do something to help”: I did. It wasn’t Mitt Romney money; it was on the order of a football game ticket (college) or a race fee. I am too tired to race anyway.

First, some science: studying salamanders is helping us learn more about potential limb and organ regeneration:

Salamanders’ immune systems are key to their remarkable ability to regrow limbs, and could also underpin their ability to regenerate spinal cords, brain tissue and even parts of their hearts, scientists have found.
In research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University found that when immune cells known as macrophages were systemically removed, salamanders lost their ability to regenerate a limb and instead formed scar tissue.
Lead researcher, Dr James Godwin, a Fellow in the laboratory of ARMI Director Professor Nadia Rosenthal, said the findings brought researchers a step closer to understanding what conditions were needed for regeneration.
“Previously, we thought that macrophages were negative for regeneration, and this research shows that that’s not the case – if the macrophages are not present in the early phases of healing, regeneration does not occur,” Dr Godwin said.
“Now, we need to find out exactly how these macrophages are contributing to regeneration. Down the road, this could lead to therapies that tweak the human immune system down a more regenerative pathway.”
Salamanders deal with injury in a remarkable way. The end result is the complete functional restoration of any tissue, on any part of the body including organs. The regenerated tissue is scar free and almost perfectly replicates the injury site before damage occurred.

Truly awesome, no?

Now as far as this disaster in Oklahoma:


It sort of looks like a World War II carpet bombing.

As far as the science of it: we really don’t know if climate change will make these more frequent or make the storms stronger; there is simply no evidence at this point:

Will climate change make tornadoes worse? More frequent?
“The short answer is, we have no idea,” Michael Wehner, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told NBC News. For years, Wehner has been studying the climate models for extreme weather, and he’s a lead author for the next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as the federal government’s latest national assessment on climate change.
One problem is that the observational record for tornadoes has not been uniform over time. “It has a bias to it, because more people are living where tornadoes occur, and more people are out looking for them,” Wehner said. That contributes to the perception that tornadoes are happening more frequently than they used to.

The other big problem is that current climate models don’t have the resolution that’s needed to simulate the localized, violent activity of a tornado. Currently, global models are built up from atmospheric interactions on a scale of 100 kilometers (62 miles). Improvements in computer power could soon bring that down to a scale of 25 kilometers (16 miles). That should make it possible for scientists to simulate the weather phenomena that give rise to tornadoes, but not the tornadoes themselves, Wehner said.
On a larger scale, extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent in a warmer world, Wehner said. “The metric that I like to look at is the daily amount of rain for a storm that happens once every 20 years,” he said. “That storm, in a much warmer world, would happen more frequently.” For example, if the world follows a “business-as-usual” scenario, he projects that the average temperature would rise 11 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, and that a once-in-20-years rainstorm would come around every five to 10 years on average.
That doesn’t necessarily mean tornadoes would be more frequent, however. In fact, the current projection calls for wetter spring weather in the northern U.S., and drier weather in the Southwest — with Tornado Alley right in the middle. “There’s some evidence that there might not be a change” in the character of a tornado season, Wehner observed.

I think that it is important to say what we have a good feel for and to admit what we don’t. As far as water born storms (hurricanes): yes, more heat in the oceans means more available energy. But the mechanisms for tornados are different.

There is much more in the article I quoted including a discussion about “tornado alley”: this, believe it or not, is not the worst place in the nation for tornado damage.

Human reaction to disaster
This sort of reaction to disaster has me shaking my head:

Here, you have people who really believe that some deity actually controls events on the earth. (I still don’t understand that one, especially in this day and age). This event blew away houses, killed in injured many and terrified even more.

Now they are praising this deity for saving a soggy Bible page?????? Really???? Seriously????

One sharp response:

My initial reaction is: What a bunch xxxxx!!!!!!! What is wrong with these people???!!!!

But that would be unfair, and probably inaccurate. Statistically speaking, I am sure that many people who think this way have skills and abilities that I don’t have (being good with construction or carpentry, can run a business, can farm, etc.).

What this shows, IMHO, is the power of superstition to brainwash people and to make otherwise competent human beings say dumb and illogical things and to corrupt their thinking.

Oh well.

May 21, 2013 Posted by | climate change, quackery, religion, science | , , | Leave a comment

Fish, Residues and Pyromaniacs

Climate Change: yes, fish are swimming to cooler waters thereby hurting some in the fishing industry:

Fish and other sea life have been moving toward Earth’s poles in search of cooler waters, part of a worldwide, decades-long migration documented for the first time by a study released Wednesday.

The research, published in the journal Nature, provides more evidence of a rapidly warming planet and has broad repercussions for fish harvests around the globe.

University of British Columbia researchers found that significant numbers of 968 species of fish and invertebrates they examined moved to escape the warming waters of their original habitats.Previous studies had documented the same phenomenon in specific parts of the world’s oceans. But the new study is the first to assess the migration worldwide and to look back as far as 1970, according to its authors.

The research is more confirmation that “global change is real and has been real for a long time,” said Boris Worm, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was not part of the study. “It’s not something in the distant future. It is well underway.”


Robert Reich makes the case that at the moment, President Obama is letting the critics define him, instead of defining himself. He can’t expect the Republicans to cooperate:

Barack Obama is allowing the fires to dominate because he has not defined his core agenda. During the 2012 campaign it appeared to be restoring jobs, rebuilding the middle class, and reversing the scourge of widening inequality. Since then, though, the core has evaporated – leaving him and his administration vulnerable to every pyromaniac on the Potomac.

Math fun: yes, a poem in College Misery about ….residue integrals!

May 17, 2013 Posted by | Barack Obama, climate change, education, politics, politics/social, republicans, science | , , | Leave a comment