6 May 2011 (am): avoiding grading edition

I am halfway through grading my calculus exams. I detest grading….almost as much as I love the actual teaching. 🙂 Yes, I know that the grading is necessary and that the students learn the stuff when they study for exams.

Workout notes
First I walked; it is about 1 mile to Lynn’s house, then we did about 5K together:

The piriformis/gluteus medius just plain hurt. That worried me. But then, I adjusted my posture (lifted the shoulders, tucked in the butt) and the pain went away instantly. I mean instantly. So, my guess is that going deeper with the squats irritated that region and my poor posture aggravated it. I now feel much better. 🙂

Afterward I went to the university and swam 1000 yards. The shoulders felt great.
5 x 75 drill, 25 swim, 6 x 50 25 drill/25 swim, 4 x (25 sfs, 25 swim).
Then I stretched, did hip hikes, shoulder PT, yoga “spinal balance” poses, camel pose, etc.

A note on stretching: this video is very helpful:

I found an interesting photo-set on Flickr…no, it is NOT on spandex butts. 🙂
It is called Urban Nature; it is about natural spaces in urban settings. Here are a couple of samples:

In each case, clicking the thumbnail sends you to the photo.
I just love these shots.

This “top 10 animal moms” is a fun, nature related post. Not all of the top 10 are mammals; in fact, the winner is a surprise.

Our inner fish. No, I am not talking about the award winning book that Neil Shubin (newly elected to the Academy of Science) wrote. But I am talking about a Jerry Coyne post about some of our features that really don’t have a “natural selection” purpose….AT THIS TIME but are as a result of nature’s evolutionary process.

Here is a teaser:

No, this isn’t about Neil Shubin’s wonderful book about fossils, fishes, and evolutionary remnants, but a an article by Dr. Michael Mosley on, oddly, the BBC News “health” page. You must see it, if only to watch the 30-second time-lapse video (made from high-quality scans) of the development of the embryonic human face up to ten weeks. As Mosley explains (and the video shows), our fishy ancestry explains that curious groove between our nose and upper lip, the philtrum. Have you ever wondered why it’s there? It doesn’t have any obvious adaptive function. It’s an evolutionary remnant. […]

Surf to read on; hint: we wouldn’t have this if we had not evolved from fishes!

Politics and Social
Bin Laden raid
Yes, the “official story” continues to change, but that doesn’t have much to do with the government lying to us. It is mostly as a result of the public wanting to know SOMETHING as soon as it happened but that something happened in a rapid, highly stressed, highly confused environment:

In the view of officials from past and present presidencies, it was a classic collision of a White House desire to promote a stunning national security triumph — and feed a ravenous media — while collecting facts from a chaotic military operation on the other side of the world. At the same time, White House officials worked hard to use the facts of the raid to diminish Bin Laden’s legacy.

“There has never been any intent to deceive or dramatize,” a military official said Thursday, asking that he not be named because of ground rules imposed by the Department of Defense. “Everything we put out we really believed to be true at the time.”

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said that as more and more members of the 79-member assault team were debriefed after the raid, revisions inevitably occurred.

“It was the middle of the night, it was a hectic operation in a foreign country, there was gunfire, so people’s accounts are clarified over time with more interviews,” Mr. Vietor said. “What we did was make as much information available to you guys as quickly as we could, and correct mistakes as quickly as we could.” […]

Administration officials said they felt an obligation to the news media and the public to put out information about the raid after the president’s speech late Sunday night that announced Bin Laden’s killing. They said they were also eager to get the facts out before the Pakistanis and that country’s powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, offered their own facts and interpretation of events.

“Do we think it’s a good thing for the ISI to be the first ones out of the box?” an administration official asked rhetorically, alluding to the belief among administration officials that some elements of the ISI may have ties to Bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban.

But the people who had the best information about the raid, the Seal members, did not undergo detailed debriefings until after they flew back to the United States, a Congressional official said. As the official told it, the Seal commandos returned to their base, went to sleep, were woken up Tuesday morning — and then the extensive debriefings began.

It is unclear whether the early information about the raid came from quick conversations with the Seal members, their commanders or other people involved. But administration officials said Thursday that everyone in the American government — in the White House, the Pentagon and the C.I.A. — was working off the same sheet of information.

Public affairs professionals from previous administrations in Washington were generally sympathetic. “They were in a tough spot,” said Victoria Clarke, a Pentagon spokeswoman from President George W. Bush’s first term. “First reports are always wrong. It’s a fundamental truth in military affairs.”

About the only non-confusing point of contention would be what the orders were. Were they to kill Bin Laden outright, or capture him IF he obviously surrendered himself?

My opinion: IF Bin Laden threw up his hands and presented himself to be captured and he was shot anyway, that is one thing. On the other hand, just shooting him on sight is ok with me; remember that we are in a war with Al Qeada; to me this is much like our killing Japan’s best admiral during World War II (Admiral Yamamoto). It is brutal, but so is war. Of course, Admiral Yamamoto is someone who I had respect for; he was an honorable sailor who was on the opposite side of a war.

There is a new jobs report out. The news: we ARE doing better though unemployment hit 9 percent again (a slight rise):

A fuller accounting can be found here.

Yes, the Republican 2012 Presidential candidates had a debate….well, not that any of them can be considered a front runner. Ok, maybe Mr. Pawlenty could be, but the rest of them are fringe candidates:

A quorum may be needed to follow parliamentary procedure, but not to put on a presidential debate.
Five Republican contenders presented themselves here Thursday evening at the first debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, a televised session that may have only amplified the fretting among some Republican leaders that the party needs to recruit more candidates to find a credible challenger to President Obama.

While candidates in presidential debates often need no introduction, the participants who filed onto the stage at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts offered an exception to that rule. There were two former governors, a member of Congress, a former senator and the former chief executive of a chain of pizza restaurants — all of whom round out the lower rung of an unsettled Republican field. […]

But Fox News carried it and I watched, as did this focus group:

The above is a group of South Carolina Republicans who watched the debate. (anyone have a defibrillator? 🙂 )

They voted Herman “I don’t need no stinking experience” Cain as the “winner”. I think that this person got it right:

Still, Hannity did his best to spin for the missing and more-likely-to-win candidates. “There are some legitimate reasons, for example Donald Trump would have to finish The Apprentice. Newt Gingrich has stated that he has some ‘unfinished business’ before he can legally actually jump into the race,” Hannity said. But the crowd started heckling Trump in absentia as Luntz – who has made no secret of his dislike for Trump – egged them on.

As Fox News’ own Andy Levy tweeted after the debate, “If you’re looking for the big winner in tonight’s GOP debate, it’s President Obama.”

Frankly, I think that Mr. Pawlenty hurt himself by appearing here; then again he needs more name recognition.
My own opinion: though Rep. Paul has some positions that I agree with, I’d think that Gary Johnson made the most sense of all of them.


May 6, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, comedy, economics, economy, evolution, injury, nature, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, science, shoulder rehabilitation, swimming, Tim Pawlenty, training, walking, world events | 2 Comments

21 August 2010 Awesomeness

Ok, I exaggerated a bit. 🙂 But these posts are cool.

From the Smithsonian Magazine: check out this article about the study of chimpanzee intelligence. A couple of highlights: the scientists wanted to find out if the chimps really “understood” what color was.
So consider the following experiment: Start the experiment by showing, say, red dots and blue dots. Ask a person to look at the dots and say what color they were. That would be easy. Now take some colored markers (say, red, blue, green black, etc.) and write the words for the colors in a different color example: blue , red . When you read the word, say the color that the word is written in aloud. Example, for the previous two words, you’d say “red” and then “blue”. Humans slow down when they do this; the brain sees the word blue and recognizes that the letters are red, but prior to saying “red” the human has to somehow block out the word “blue”.

Well, it turns out that chimps have a similar slow down when they are assigned a similar task that assigns colors to words that signify that color; the “get” colors.

It turns out that they don’t “get” math so well; for example they somehow “know” 4 is less than 5 but they don’t know that 5 is “one more” than 4.
There is a lot more in this article.

A few videos and photos
One way to respond obnoxious campus preaching:

There is more at this article at Friendly Atheist. For example, Brother Jed (a notorious campus fundie preacher) had a shirt that said “you deserve hell”; see how some students confronted him.)

And just for the heck of it, here is a repeat:

Religious tit-for-tat (hat tip: Invisible Pink Unicorn)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Invisible Pink Unicorn: Team Mohammed Vs. T…, posted with vodpod

Awesome smack down on 9-11 site Mosque protest

Hat tip: Randazza.

August 22, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, civil liberties, comedy, Democrats, evolution, humor, morons, nature, political/social, politics/social, racism, religion, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, science, social/political | Leave a comment

Stewart Takes On Ground Zero Mosque Critics (VIDEO)

A clean-shaven Jon Stewart returned from a long weekend last night to tackle the recent controversy over the building of a mosque at the World Trade Center site. Critics of the Islamic cultural center claim it would be built on hallowed ground, but it would actually be built several blocks away from Ground Zero on top of a former Burlington Coat Factory.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Stewart Takes On Ground Zero Mosque Critics (VI…, posted with vodpod

August 12, 2010 Posted by | comedy, jon stewart, religion, republicans | Leave a comment