blueollie

More uplifting that it sounds…

I truly believe this:

nolivesmatter

In short, humans are a consequence of the universe and the laws of nature. Humans are NOT the cause of the universe; no deity made this for our benefit.

BUT, this is still uplifting because, while you do not matter to the universe, if you are my friend or loved one, you matter TO ME. That is what it is about: we have to look out for one another because nothing else can.

March 1, 2016 Posted by | nature, religion | , | Leave a comment

Should have been my Valentines Day Post (human evolution)

Hey, you think that you’ve pushed the envelope in seeking romance? Both of us are downright shy compared to what our ancient ancestors did:

The discovery of yet another period of interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals is adding to the growing sense that sexual encounters among different ancient human species were commonplace throughout their history.

“As more early modern humans and archaic humans are found and sequenced, we’re going to see many more instances of interbreeding,” says Sergi Castellano, a population geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. His team discovered the latest example, which they believe occurred around 100,000 years ago, by analysing traces of Homo sapiens DNA in a Neanderthal genome extracted from a toe bone found in a cave in Siberia.

“There is this joke in the population genetics community — there’s always one more interbreeding event,” Castellano says. So before researchers discover the next one, here’s a rundown of the interbreeding episodes that they have already deduced from studies of ancient DNA.

5 different episodes of inbreeding are discussed, with two different species of homo (based on DNA analysis) Surf to the article to read the rest. The conclusion:

We’re looking at a Lord of the Rings-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” one evolutionary geneticist told Nature when the findings were presented at a conference in 2013.

Kink is nothing new for us; in fact we are tamer than we used to be.

February 18, 2016 Posted by | evolution, human sexuality, nature, science | | Leave a comment

Cats, gravity waves and politics

I had an excellent evening; I had dinner with 2 friends (Sanders supporter and a Republican) and I completely enjoyed it. We didn’t hold back, but kept it civil due to the genuine mutual respect that we have for each other.

Oh, the food was pretty good too.

As far as politics, here is one millennial women’s rant about Hillary Clinton (and Paul Krugman…and about anyone who well, actually KNOWS anything)

On the other end, here is the National Review saying that Carly Fiorina actually helped her party (note who they called “heavyweights”). Yes, Rick Perry …a heavyweight.

As far as me: this is one reason that I think that I have more of an affinity for Clinton than Sanders: she has a stronger belief in merit:

But what Clinton suggested in place of a more expansive welfare state illuminates another difference between her politics and Sanders’. Where Sanders tended to focus on inequality and inequality-reducing policies, Clinton focused heavily on increasing opportunity, repeatedly expressing a desire that all Americans be able to realize their “God-given talents,” as she and her husband have. “I have spent a very long time—my entire adult life—looking for ways to even the odds to help people have a chance to get ahead, and, in particular, to find the ways for each child to live up to his or her God-given potential,” Clinton said in her opening remarks, revisiting the idea throughout the debate.

Science
Here we have an interesting hypothesis about a parasite making a chimp less wary of a large predator, thereby helping the parasite reproduce in the predator’s gut.

Hear the news about the detection of gravity waves? Here is an expert’s article for the lay person and here is Stephen Hawking discussing (short video) about the role that the colliding black holes played and how it relates to his work.

February 13, 2016 Posted by | evolution, Friends, nature, physics, political/social, politics | , , | Leave a comment

A lesson from monkeys and a joke….

I’ll start with what I think is the underlying principle.

Here are a couple hypothetical questions:

1. You and someone else apply for a job opening. You are told that there is one opening. What stings worse:

a. The other person gets the job and you are just told “no”.
b. The other person gets the job. Then you are told: “we are sorry..but we do have this lesser position that we’d like to offer you.”

Now I know that when money is tight and one really needs a job, one might see option “b” as preferable. But what “stings” your ego more?

2. You are single (unattached) and have a romantic interest in someone..or at least are attracted to them. There is an outing/event that you are interested in. What stings worse:

a. You ask them out and they say “no”.
b. You ask them out and they say “yes, but only as “friends””, making it clear that they have no romantic interest in you.
c. They ask YOU to the event, but only as a “safe friend” because they don’t have to worry about romantic feelings getting in the way (or for some other reason, say, their first choice turned them down).

At least for me, it is pretty clear which stings less (“a”). (Remember, I am talking as a single person; as a married person I have female friends whose company I look forward to and enjoy at things like hikes, yoga classes, runs, sporting events, etc.)

Now this is illogical, in a sense. Isn’t “we want you for this” better than “we don’t want you at all”? Isn’t companionship with someone you like better than none at all?

And, in this case of a monkey, isn’t a piece of less tasty food better than no food at all?

Evidently not, at least to this monkey.

What brought on this train of thought: the joke

From time to time, I post a photo of a handsome guy for my lady friends. And once in a while, just for fun, I’ll open myself up to be “roasted” (I call it a “goat roast”, because my online persona is a ornery, dimwitted, smelly goat).

heishotterthani

I got a few “politically correct” “awww, I’d hug you instead of the hunk” responses, which was fine. I got one “I’d hug you because you probably smarter than that moron” type of response (from a scientist)..ok, I liked that one. I admit that I’d rather hug a plainer looking but smarter, accomplished woman over someone who merely looks “hot”. But that is me, at my current age.

And most of my women friends played along with the “sorry pal, you are out of luck; I’m hugging the hottie”, which was what the post was for. I even mocked being sad about it:
sadgoat

But ONE response …actually angered me even though it was intended to be part of the joke (I think): it was “oh, I’ll hug the guy on the right but I’d give the one on the left so much more..”
My immediate response wasn’t like it was with the others “sorry buddy, but he is hotter than you” responses. I’m too polite to reproduce some of the thoughts that I had…and that was over a frigging joke!

But I think that I had nightmares of the old “dating/friend zone” stuff all over again, so many years …wait, make that decades ago (early 80’s?)

Anyway, my reaction surprised me..and then I remembered the monkey inequality experiment.

February 1, 2016 Posted by | economics, nature, relationships, science | , , , | Leave a comment

Trying to put some quality back in the blog

Ok, while I’ll still post about workouts, races, games (and to be fair, cute butts), I’ll attempt to at least add some intellectual content back to the blog. It has been missing lately.

Workout notes: about 6 miles of running, which included 35 minutes of hill repeats in Lower Bradley Park (the hill near the dog park); that stretch is barricaded off for the winter and yet is ice free. The first 6 weren’t that bad; the final 4 hurt. I tried to go hard enough to make myself stop and walk when I got to the top of the hill.

Posts
Nature is brutal Via Why Evolution is True
endoftheline

That is how it works, isn’t it? Either one animal dies so another can live, or one survives and the predator goes hungry. I’ve seen duels between squirrels and birds of prey before; the squirrels won the encounters that I saw. But they don’t always…obviously.

Politics I don’t often read Robert Reich saying “son of a bitch” but here he uses the phrase. Yes, he is talking about the “revolutionary” candidates: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

I’ve been both amused and saddened to see some of the Democratic infighting. I don’t mind debates over ideas. But I’ve been “unfriended” by Sanders supporters who accused me of being…well, some dupe of the oligarchy, blinded or something else. I find this to be an especially interesting accusation when it comes from someone whose own life doesn’t demonstrate exceptional intellect, insight or talent.

I don’t mind differences of opinion, but if you are going to accuse me of being a delusional, duped idiot..you might ask yourself why I’d be willing to accept such a rebuke from you.

But hey, some of these accusations are being directed at PAUL KRUGMAN?

But if you’re a progressive who not only supports Sanders but is furious with anyone skeptical about his insurgency, someone who considers Mike Konczal a minion and me a corrupt crook, you might want to ask why Barack Obama is saying essentially the same things as the progressive Bernie skeptics. And you might want to think hard about why you’re not just sure that you’re right, but sure that anyone who disagrees must be evil.

And yes, there are issues with Sen. Sander’s health care platform and those who have actually worked on this issue can see it:

Oh well. Meanwhile, the Sanders skepticism of the wonks continues: Paul Starr lays out the case. As far as I can tell, every serious progressive policy expert on either health care or financial reform who has weighed in on the primary seems to lean Hillary. This could be because being in the trenches of the health care fight gives you an acute sense of the possible, and because having paid close attention to the financial crisis makes you a shadow-banking, not too big to fail guy. Or it could be because they are, one and all, corrupt corporate lackeys. I report, you decide.

Just to be clear, Sanders himself is not at fault here. And if Hillary is the nominee, I expect him to do what she herself did in 2008, and will surely do if he wins an upset: make it clear that whatever their differences, and whatever the primary loser’s personal frustration, there’s no comparison with the reactionary extremism of all the GOP candidates.

But it’s disappointing to see so much intolerance over what are basically differences in strategy, not goals.

Civil liberties, free speech, free press and the like

Remember the unrest at the University of Missouri? Well, a faculty member has been charged with assault:

On Monday, Melissa Click learned that lesson, as prosecutors charged her with assault.

Click is the communication professor who grabbed a videographer’s camera and said in a confrontation with a reporter covering a public protest at the University of Missouri: “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here. I need some muscle over here.”

I recommend reading the rest of Mr. Randazza’s article (he is a First Amendment attorney); he admits that the charges, while legal, might be overkill. He suggests that her being fired might be the better action. A biology professor from the University of Chicago also weighs in.

I don’t know how I feel about the firing; I feel that a reprimand is in order. And yes, this is the problem with zealots (be they classified as left wing zealots or right wing zealots): they are SO sure that they are on the side of “right” that they’ll not only break the law, but they’ll also trample on other people’s rights in the process.

It seems that all of them view themselves as, say, those who protested unjust racial segregation. So there is part of me that thinks “good; teach this unrepentant attention-seeking self-righteous idiot a lesson” but overreacting is never good either.

(psst: that is one reason that Donald Trump appeals to me just a little: he isn’t afraid to call out the idiots).

Censorship and good intentions
Beware of proposed legislation which limits free speech under the guise of “good intentions“:

A Kentucky legislator recently proposed a narrow restriction on free expression — and it seems that it came from reasonable and logical intentions. Unfortunately, when you consider this idea while keeping the First Amendment in mind, the implications are no longer acceptable. They are intolerable.

Representative John Carney introduced a bill to prohibit anyone who witnesses “an event that could reasonably result in a series of physical injury” from publishing information about that event on the internet for at least an hour if their posting could identify potential victims.

I see where he is coming from. Do you want to hear about your loved one being killed in a car accident from Facebook? Do you want to wake up from an accident and find your traumatic and personal experience all over Twitter? I get it. In short, we have significant social media privacy issue – and the United States seems to be forgetting all about privacy issues as we steam forward into the Internet’s adolescence.

[…]

A law like this is what is known as a “prior restraint” – a rule that attempts to prevent speech from occurring. As Justice Blackstone eloquently wrote: The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state, but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications…” Or, as Walter Sobchak shouted, “THE SUPREME COURT HAS ROUNDLY REJECTED PRIOR RESTRAINT!” Kinney v. Barnes, 57 Tex. Sup. J. 1428 at n.7, (Tex. 2014) (citing SOBCHAK, W., THE BIG LEBOWSKI, 1998). See also, How to Cite to Walter Sobchak.

That rejection is rounder than you can spin me like a record. Rounder than Ken’s noggin.

It has been that way since Near vs. Minnesota. So, you’ve had 85 years to get with the program.

Prior Restraints are permissible under the U.S. Constitution. However, they are restricted to situations with which there is an immediate, clear and present danger that something awful will happen if the speech gets out there.

Read the rest of Randazza’s article: it is excellent. Good intentions often have terrible consequences. Example: do you want to have a law that allows you to criminalize the act of recording police misconduct?

January 28, 2016 Posted by | nature, politics, politics/social, running, science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Unrequited Love: bunny style

(hat tip: Jerry Coyne)

It is mating season and the wild rabbit sees something that he likes…but can’t have. Aw…a love that will never be.

Or, perhaps put another way, yet another male who is a victim of testosterone poisoning. Most of us straight males know the feeling. The conflict between nature and civilization can play havoc with our serenity.:-)

January 14, 2016 Posted by | evolution, human sexuality, nature | | Leave a comment

Do not mess with a male who is with his female!

Given how slow my training walk was today (1:15 for 5.1 miles…albeit very hilly miles…glorious morning)…I WISH my time were an April Fools joke, but it is sadly very real.

well a post about tortoises is appropriate. Never mess with a guy with his woman!

Yes, it is April 1. My smallest class pranked me by sitting in the classroom with the lights turned off..and sitting on the back row so I couldn’t see them from the hall way..until I entered the room. I kind of guessed what they were up to as I walked to the room as they are very punctual and very consistent.

April 2, 2015 Posted by | nature, science, walking | | Leave a comment

Reality: rams, Keynesians, winters, US history, epigenetics and bigotry

I am enjoying a chilly, “when in the heck is spring going to arrive” day by watching women’s basketball on television (NCAA Sweet 16) and blogging. Eating Indian food with Barbara saved me from watching the horrible 105-54 pasting that Connecticut laid on Texas.

The way that Connecticut plays reminds me a bit of the way the better NBA teams played in the 1970’s: lots of ball movement, efficiency and little wasted motion. They look as if they are loafing even while playing fast; they are just cool, calm, collected and ruthlessly efficient.

But the race for spots in the Final Four is interesting.

Reality
This farmer talks about rams and how violent they are:

Do not try to run away from an attacking ram. He can outrun you. If you watch two bucks about to deliver orgasms to each other, they will face off and take a few steps backwards. Then they charge, colliding head on with enough collective force to make an anvil bleed. Then they quiver with pleasure and do it again.

So when you see your buck start to back away from you, walk towards him. I mean go right at him. Almost always this is confusing to a buck and he will keep backing away for awhile and might lose interest in killing you. This can give you time to get closer to a fence or a tractor. If you can get to an immovable object like a tree, all you have to do is keep it between you and the ram. Then he can’t do his classic charge and soon tires of the game.

Otherwise, like out in the middle of a field, he will eventually quit backing up at your advance and attack. Stand your ground. This takes a great deal of nerve the first time. But at the last second before he butts you, he will lift himself on his hind legs to give his forward motion extra pile-driver strength. Up on his hind legs, he can only lunge straight ahead. He can’t turn. So when he lunges, all you have to do is step sideways, quickly of course, and his momentum carries him past you. This maneuver is quite effective and it is almost comical to see how puzzled the ram will be when all he collides with is thin air. If you are young and strong, this is the moment when you grab him, twist his head around backwards, set him on his ass like you were going to shear him, and pummel the living hell out of him. Some shepherds say this will only make him meaner but in my experience, he will act like a gentleman for about a month. Or will absorb enough fear of the Lord so that when you see him backing up the next time, a warning yell will make him stop short and decide it is more fun to go eat hay.

If you are not young and strong, you should only be out with the flock in the pasture if you are riding a tractor or other vehicle. I have often wondered what would happen if a ram decided to dispute his territory with a four wheeler. I’m afraid that the four-wheeler would come off second best.

He isn’t kidding:

Science

Epigenetics (that changes can be passed along without there being changes in the genome) is important, but it isn’t “revolutionizing biology”:

This sounds both liberating and terrifying at the same time: Our destinies are not fixed by our genes, and yet much of what we do and experience could have a profound effect on the biological make-up of ourselves and our children. But the hype has outrun the science. As one group wrote last year, “scientific hyperbole rarely generates the level of professional and personal prescriptions for health behavior that we are now seeing in epigenetics.” Many of the boldest claims being made about the relationship between epigenetics, health, and our environment are based only on evidence from animal studies, and thus are, at best, premature. In fact, much of the recent research in epigenetics hasn’t turned up anything fundamentally new.

Scientists have long been aware that our genes aren’t chiseled in stone—they are in a constant dialogue with our environment. The epigenetic marking up of our DNA, discovered decades ago, is a key part of how that dialogue takes place. And while these marks are an important feature of our biology, the biggest flaw in many of the claims being made about epigenetics is that they confuse cause with effect.

Epigenetic marks are a consequence of changes in the activity of our genes in response to our health, our environment, and our social experiences, but they are not the underlying cause of those changes. There is no reason to believe that drugs, treatments, or health advice that target these DNA markings will be unusually effective compared to therapies that aren’t specifically epigenetic.

While epigenetics is rife with hype, there is at least one advantage to all of the attention this field is getting: People are recognizing just how profoundly our physical and social environment can affect our biology.

Now I believe that science is important to our society and evidently, so did early Americans:

But what’s nice about it is what Will imparted in his email:

The interesting part is the motto on the coin: “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry”. Now we all know that the “In God We Trust” motto is a relatively recent innovation, but I was surprised to find (although I shouldn’t have been) that the founders rated science as one of the boons of liberty. And nary a mention of the creator. Just another little nail in the coffin of “America founded as a Christian nation.” I’ve attached the image.

Sure enough, on the face it clearly says “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry”. If Republicans had their way, it would have said, “Liberty, Offspring of God.”

first-penny-1

According to CNN

The coin, known as the “Birch Cent,” was made in 1792, months after the one-cent denomination was first authorized by Congress, according to the auction house Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
It was made in a trial run for the penny, and depicts Lady Liberty. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington discussed the design in letters dated August 1792, before it was presented to Congress as an option for the new coin.

Bigotry I feel good about this: some very wealthy, powerful CEOs are taking stands against Indiana’s “freedom to discriminate against gays” law. Though the law is a setback, we are winning the social war.

Social and economy

This is interesting: some people are saying that Paul Krugman isn’t a “real Keynesian” because

Brad DeLong points me to Lars Syll declaring that I am not a “real Keynesian”, because I use equilibrium models and don’t emphasize the instability of expectations.

One way to answer this is to point out that Keynes said a lot of things, not all consistent with each other. (The same is true for all of us.) Right at the beginning of the General Theory, Keynes explains the “principle of effective demand” with a little model of temporary equilibrium that takes expectations as given. If that kind of modeling is anti-Keynesian, the man himself must be excommunicated. […]

If you can show me any useful advice given by those sniping at me and other for our failure to be proper Keynesians, I’ll be happy to take it under consideration. If you can’t, then we’re just doing literary criticism here, and I’m not interested.

I’ll bet that the person making this claim is religious, which explains why that person might cling to an economic dogma even among a ton of contrary evidence.

And speaking of contrary evidence: this is Krugman’s part II of “air conditioning lead to the growth of the south, not Republican economic policies”; here he shows a correlation of population growth with January temperatures:

As I pointed out the other day, this long-term movement toward the sun, in turn, probably has a lot to do with the gradual adjustment to air conditioning.

And as I also pointed out, the search for mild winters can lead to a lot of spurious correlations. With the exception of California — which has mild winters but also, now, has very high housing prices — America’s warm states are very conservative. And that’s not an accident: warm states were also slave states and members of the Confederacy, and a glance at any election map will tell you that in US politics the Civil War is far from over.

The point, then, is that these hot red states also tend to be low-minimum-wage, low-taxes-on-the-wealthy jurisdictions. And that opens the door to sloppy and/or mendacious claims that low wages and taxes are driving their growth.

This really shouldn’t even be controversial — I think it’s kind of obvious.

He also posts more data about air conditioning: from 1900 to 1970 the south’s share of the population dropped. It started to gain in 1980, right when widespread home air conditioning grew.

Now, of course, both of these points could be correlation and not causation.

But of interest to me was this remark:

If you’re wondering why I’m doing posting so much on a Saturday, I’m housebound with a cold, so why not?

What? This happens to Nobel Laureates too?:-)

March 28, 2015 Posted by | economics, economy, nature, politics, politics/social, religion, science, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Note to self: don’t try to head butt a ram…

The video calls the ram a “goat” (it isn’t; goats head butt by raising up on their hind legs instead of running) and they say that the cow died; to me, it looks more like a “panic freeze” reaction (note the immediately stiff legs).

Wow…these rams can really hit!!!

Hat tip: Byron.

March 16, 2015 Posted by | nature | | Leave a comment

Circular illusions and camouflaged frogs

Can you spot the frogs? Clicking the link will take you Mathew Cobb’s post at Why Evolution is True (photo by Nash Turley)

camfrogs

I’m sure that you can, but this photo shows what evolutionary adaptation can do.

Also, WEIT provided a link to this little gem: these “rotating dots” are, individually, moving along a straight line path. Seriously…all of them are.

I am going to try to write some equations that describe this motion.

January 6, 2015 Posted by | evolution, frogs, mathematics, nature, science | , | Leave a comment

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