14 April 2011 posts

Workout notes Ms. Vickie’s yoga class with Lynn in the early morning. I was able to get into head stand easily but then had some vertigo problems during the “laying down” phase; the other stuff was ok.

Then over lunch, I lifted weights (and did rotator cuff PT) and then walked 3 miles easily outside (included some Bradley Park hills; the day was too pretty to stay inside)
squats (free, no Smith Machine): 10 x 45, 10 x 135, 10 x 155, 4 x 175 (not great depth), 10 x 135
curls (dumbbell): 3 sets of 10 x 20 lb.
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 120
incline presses: 10 x 115, 8 x 130 8 x 125
rows: 2 sets of 10 with 220 (close grip), 1 set of 10 with 180 (wide grip) (Hammer Machine)
sit ups: 4 sets of 25 with various inclines.

Shoulder notes: somewhat sore on one of the rotator cuff exercises (where the elbow is tucked and the arm moves from the chest and is rotated outward. This is day three of NSAIDS.

News of the weird
Well, I now know not to bring in strippers to give me a lap dance in class. 🙂

A La Salle University professor, Jack Rappaport, has been suspended for allegedly hiring strippers to give lap dances at an extra-credit seminar on business ethics.
Rappaport was in the front of the classroom and three bikini-clad and miniskirted women were on top of him giving him a lap dance, according to Brad Bernardino, a sophomore at La Salle who attended the March 21 session. At various other times, Bernardino added, the strippers gave willing students lap dances, and a PowerPoint presentation related to business ethics ran in the background.

Oh well…

Can meditation help with pain? Well, there was a study that compared people with no meditation at all, people with fake meditation training (who thought that they were getting the real training) and those who got the real training. It turns out that the “real meditation training” group dealt with pain better; and this was verified by a brain scan! But there are some serious caveats to this study:

Now for the caveats. Every subject had some pain relief by meditating, but there was wide variability among participants — between 11% and 93%. Further, it’s difficult to draw conclusions from 15 people (18 were recruited, but one was excluded for not being sensitive enough to the heat, one was too sensitive and another fell asleep in meditation).

And the pain the researchers inflicted — a burning sensation for a few minutes — doesn’t compare to what many people, such as cancer patients, must endure.

Overall, such studies add to a growing body of research suggesting that even short meditation sessions can have measurable pain-relieving benefits. That’s important to folks who must struggle with the aches and pains of daily life and who don’t want to pop painkillers for every twinge. And for sure, daily meditation has clear medical benefits.

But meditate, for a few seconds, on the thought of undergoing even a small surgery without painkillers.

Still, this is worth thinking about for dealing with, say, the pain of athletic performance.

Science fun
Even if you aren’t a fan of arachnids, this spider is beautiful:

(click the thumbnail to see the photo at Jerry Coyne’s blog along with the article)

Speaking of Coyne’s blog, surf here to see some serious FAIL on the part of apologists for religion. Among the howlers: atheism is diminished because of the lack of martyrs and, well, religious types lead the way for skepticism (you see, if someone doubted one religion, it HAD to be because another religion was true…)

Security Sometimes a change of policy can make cheating more likely and therefore call for increased security. Here Schneier provides an example:

In the U.S., under the No Child Left Behind Act, students have to pass certain tests; otherwise, schools are penalized. In the District of Columbia, things went further. Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the public school system from 2007 to 2010, offered teachers $8,000 bonuses — and threatened them with termination — for improving test scores. Scores did increase significantly during the period, and the schools were held up as examples of how incentives affect teaching behavior.

It turns out that a lot of those score increases were faked. In addition to teaching students, teachers cheated on their students’ tests by changing wrong answers to correct ones. That’s how the cheating was discovered; researchers looked at the actual test papers and found more erasures than usual, and many more erasures from wrong answers to correct ones than could be explained by anything other than deliberate manipulation.

Teachers were always able to manipulate their students’ test answers, but before, there wasn’t much incentive to do so. With Rhee’s changes, there was a much greater incentive to cheat.

The point is that whatever security measures were in place to prevent teacher cheating before the financial incentives and threats of firing wasn’t sufficient to prevent teacher cheating afterwards. Because Rhee significantly decreased the costs of cooperation (by threatening to fire teachers of poorly performing students) and increased the benefits of defection ($8,000), she created a security risk. And she should have increased security measures to restore balance to those incentives.

Mr. Paul Ryan gets used as a pinata! Of course, many idiots in the media said “ok, so Ryan’s plan isn’t serious; therefore Obama’s can’t be either.” Uh, no. Example: creationism being false doesn’t mean that evolution is also false.

And no, Mr. Limbaugh, Ryan’s plan isn’t being attacked because we can’t get dates. 🙂

By the way, here is the President’s speech on the budget.

Fahreed Zakaria’s response was fair and thoughtful but Robert Reich worries that too much of the plan is dependent on the economy recovering…(while noting that long range forecasts are almost always useless anyway)

April 14, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, atheism, Barack Obama, biology, business & economy, Democrats, economics, economy, nature, neuroscience, political/social, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, Rush Limbaugh, science, shoulder rehabilitation, superstition, training, walking, weight training, yoga | Leave a comment

Your Eyes DO Lie To You

Hat tip: Why Evolution is True.

January 9, 2011 Posted by | brain, neuroscience, science | Leave a comment

New Year’s Eve, 2010/2011

Workout notes I’ll update this. Probably something outside.

Shoulder some ache last night; it appears that I AM recovering from the last relapse. But boy, does it take time.

Tonight: I am planning on the Get Lit fun run at midnight; 2 miles through a holiday light display.
Peoria weather: screwy. When we got here, it was single digits (F) and snow covered everything. Today: 50 F (and will get warmer), rain, and 99 percent of the snow is gone (only the piled up mounds remain). This is the warmest New Year’s Eve that I remember around here.

Silly Political Stories for 2010: some civil libertarians will take issue with some of these. Yes, TSA, Sarah Palin and Cristine O’Donnell are mentioned, as is this:

The Obama comeback. I’m not saying it won’t happen; it well may. But can’t the pundits who wrote about the Dems’ shellacking a month ago at least wait until the next Congress convenes before they declare President Obama this year’s political winner? Can’t the chattering class wait until major polls show that Obama’s approval rating is above 50 percent? Are we boardwalk fortune-tellers, or can we wait for something to happen, or at least appear likely to happen?

You know the answer, and it’s not pretty.

Agreed, though Obama is doing better than Clinton or Reagan was at this point in their first terms.

Depression Here is a list of 10 jobs which are prone to be filled by people who get depressed. Of course, there are a ton of questions:
1. Are these jobs linked to depression because they attract personalities who are depression prone (artists)
2. Do some of these jobs induce depression due to low pay, harsh conditions, high pressure, long hours, time away from the family, etc.?
3. Do some of these jobs involve work that is inherently depressing? For example, a friend of mine quit a well paying job in nuclear medicine nursing because being around terminally ill people eventually got to her.
4. Do some of these jobs attract those who are desperate for work (e. g., poor and unemployed) to begin with?
5. What about male/female breakdowns: I’ve heard it said that men are more judged by the status of their jobs than women are. So do some jobs carry that dreaded “low status label”?

Atheism, Morality and the mind
Sam Harris is interesting; he is an atheist who sees value in things like meditation. I agree with him on this; religion AS A PRIVATE PRACTICE can provide some good things, so long as one isn’t shackled by superstitious beliefs and the conclusions that come from them. There are moral lessons too; for example I remember being moved by a minister saying “you know those extra shoes that lay there rotting and unused? Those don’t belong to you; they belong to those who don’t have any shoes”. That inspired me to clean my closet of extra clothes that I wasn’t wearing.

His latest kick is to say that science can lead us to morality. Though I think that this might be true in the LONG TERM, it isn’t close to being realized at this time

Note: why does he need security? That is what I try to tell people: the major religions are NOT “religions of peace”; not even close.
Do a thought experiment: park your car that has an atheist sticker on it. You can choose to park it on a college campus or somewhere in the rural south. Where would the car be safer?

Are our political views hardwired (e. g., liberal versus conservative)? Obviously, not completely since some people change their mind, but I am talking about tendencies.

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.

On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.

The “exciting” correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.

They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.

However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience. […]

Yes, this looks suspicious given that “n” is probably small, but it is an interesting conjecture. There is also statistical evidence that cuts across lines of society too (video is 19 minutes long):

December 31, 2010 Posted by | atheism, mind, neuroscience, Peoria, Peoria/local, Personal Issues, political/social, politics, politics/social, religion, shoulder rehabilitation | Leave a comment

8 August 2010: parting shots

Science: the evolution of the brain was incredible; look at all of the “slapped together” parts.

Russian wildfires: this isn’t being picked up by the US media:


More on the story here.

Politics: Maddow takes down Fox on race baiting.


The first clip (from a semi-pro game) is hilarious:

Big Butts: is this a real butt or not? In any event, pants don’t get any tighter than this:

Here is a still:

(click for larger)

August 9, 2010 Posted by | big butts, environment, evolution, Fox News Lies Again, mind, nature, neuroscience, politics, politics/social, spandex, world events | Leave a comment

21 June 2010

Workout notes 11-1: 2000 yard swim; 5 x 100 on 2 warm up, 10 x (25 3g/25 free) on 1:10, 1000 in 17:32 (4:19/8:44/13:08), 200 back.
The shoulder was fine.
Then rotator cuff exercises, squats on the Smith Machine (2 x 10 with 135; 20 toe raises after each set), then 2 circuits of: vertical leg lifts, leg extensions, leg curls,, toe raises, butt push backs, vertical crunches, twists.

Then 3 mile walk on the treadmill in 37:55; 14 minute warm up mile.


I am in the frustrating part of my write up; the ideas are there, but as I write I find better ways to say things. Hence I have to do it again and again…until I am sick of the unforced revisions.

I am almost at that stage now.

Of course, when I work at home, my idiot neighbor is hammering away. At the office, there is major construction next door. I swear; there isn’t a quiet place on earth anywhere.

Football: Here is a list of the 10 worst NFL teams of all time. I’ve seen two of them play in person (1989 Cowboys, 2009 Rams); ironically, each game I saw was against the eventual Super Bowl Champion (49’ers and Saints respectively)


Korea: abnormal levels of radiation have been detected at the DMZ in Korea. No one knows for sure what caused it, but this is consistent with a nuclear accident at a reactor.

Driving: turn off your cell phone, please. As far as studies go:

Finally, empirical proof you can blame chatty 20-somethings for stop-and-go traffic on the way to work.

A new study confirms that the reaction time of cell phone users slows dramatically, increasing the risk of accidents and tying up traffic in general, and when young adults use cell phones while driving, they’re as bad as sleepy septuagenarians.

“If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, their reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone,” said University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer. “It’s like instantly aging a large number of drivers.”

The study was announced today and is detailed in winter issue of the quarterly journal Human Factors.

Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year, according to the journal’s publisher, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

The article goes on to say why this happens.

June 21, 2010 Posted by | football, health, humor, mind, neuroscience, NFL, politics, politics/social, swimming, time trial/ race, training, walking | Leave a comment

20 June 2010 (am)

Workout notes I was just going to “grab bag” it; maybe walk a little, swim, lift. But when I got to the East Peoria trail and started strolling at 15 mpm I thought “I am enjoying this…why not” so I just kept it up. So total: 2:25 for 10 easy miles (1:14 out, 1:11 back) and it warmed up to 80 F, 67 percent humidity by the time I finished.

The knee hurt a little but not enough to detract from my enjoyment; and I saw a small garden snake on the path. It curled up in defense when I passed by it. My posture was better; the downside is that more people greet me when my head is up, and frankly I go to the trail to zone out. I prefer the coolness of the Chicago paths.

My technique was much better than yesterday; basically my “not trying to keep my knees straight” walking is really what counts for running (sans impact) and my slower, straighter (but realistically still not legal) walking is my current walking.

Sports Humor: this is a sight that I’ll never see during a race if I look over my shoulder, unless it is a multi loop course and I am getting lapped. 🙂


I love the Rat character. 🙂

This isn’t much of a “sale”, is it?

Mind Here is an interesting example at how people can miss details when they are focused on something else. This is why.

Perspective: yes, kids sometimes choke on hotdogs but it is still safe for them. After all, the kids are in far more danger when they take a car ride.

Superstition Ok, you have a massive oil spill doing lots of damage. So what do you do? Seek divine intervention?

While cleanup crews and technical teams continue efforts to stop crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana lawmakers are proposing a different approach: prayer.

State senators designated Sunday as a day for citizens to ask for God’s help dealing with the oil disaster.

“Thus far efforts made by mortals to try to solve the crisis have been to no avail,” state Sen. Robert Adley said in a statement released after last week’s unanimous vote for the day of prayer. “It is clearly time for a miracle for us.”

The resolution names Sunday as a statewide day of prayer in Louisiana and calls on people of all religions throughout the Gulf Coast “to pray for an end to this environmental emergency, sparing us all from the destruction of both culture and livelihood.”

They don’t seem to be talking about prayer in the sense of “ok, let me center myself and see how I can help”. They seem to be asking for the suspension of the laws of nature on their behalf. That is nothing more than superstition, period.

More on the spill
Here is Senator Whitehouse’s floor speech. Notice how he takes regulators to task and points out how some of the regulations were “cut and paste” from other regions.

Speaking of regulators, this opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal talks about “regulatory capture”; this is the situation in which the regulators get so close to the industry that they are supposed to be regulating, they stop being hard on the industry and start tyring to make things easier on them rather than protecting the public:

The reason why those who see economic regulations as akin to tyranny often win policy debates is because they have a fiery argument with visceral appeal. Those who try to sell the virtues of the supervisory state tend to favor the passive voice. They don’t do fire. They do law review.

The situation ought to be the reverse today. We have just come through the most wrenching financial disaster in decades, brought about in no small part by either the absence of federal regulation or the amazing indifference of the regulators.

This is the moment for a ringing reclamation of the regulatory project. President Barack Obama is clearly the sort of man who could do it. But in a white paper his administration released on the subject last week, the bureaucratic mindset prevails.

The report uses bland, impersonal explanations for the current crisis. Regulatory agencies were ill-designed, we are told. Their jurisdictions overlapped. They had blind spots. They had been obsolete for years.

All of which is true enough.

What the report leaves largely unaddressed, however, is the political problem.

It was not merely structural problems that led certain regulators to nap through the crisis. The people who filled regulatory jobs in the past administration were asleep at the switch because they were supposed to be. It was as though they had been hired for their extraordinary powers of drowsiness.

The reason for that is simple: There are powerful institutions that don’t like being regulated. Regulation sometimes cuts into their profits and interferes with their business. So they have used the political process to sabotage, redirect, defund, undo or hijack the regulatory state since the regulatory state was first invented.

Surf to the link to read some more background.

International. Yes, we are still “accidentally” killing civilians. I can’t even imagine how furious I’d be if this were happening in my society to my friends and neighbors.

Civil liberties Yes, it really is against the law to film the police in some states (including mine!)

Fox News: another outrageous lie to fire up the yokels:

FOX accuses Obama of giving land back to Mexico Hotlist
by Dante Atkins
Digg this! Share this on Twitter – FOX accuses Obama of giving land back to MexicoTweet this submit to reddit Share This
Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 02:00:05 PM PDT

I was about to say that you can’t make this stuff up. But if you’re Fox News, you can make up absolutely anything that you like. Check out this glaring headline from the Website The Fox Nation:

So what is the real story?

I’ll let Media Matters take it from here. Ari Rabin-Havt, Vice-President for Research and Communications, sent a letter to Fox News demanding a correction of the record:

Dear Mr. Clemente:

I am writing to you to demand that you correct a glaring error made both on Fox News and on Fox’s website The Fox Nation.

The Fox Nation used the preposterous headline “Obama Gives Back Major Strip of AZ to Mexico” to trumpet a report about a closure of land in a national wildlife refuge in Arizona. During that America Live report, guest host Shannon Bream stated: “A massive stretch of Arizona now off limits to Americans. Critics say the administration is, in effect, giving a major strip of the Southwest back to Mexico.”

But according to Bonnie Swarbrick, who is the public information officer for the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, the “massive stretch” of land is about five miles square, it’s been closed since 2006, and it obviously hasn’t been given back to Mexico.

Swarbrick told Media Matters that the area in the refuge bordering Mexico was “closed in 2006 during the construction of a vehicle barrier.” Work on the vehicle barrier progressed into the construction of a 12-foot fence along the part of the refuge that borders Mexico, which is about seven miles long. The area has been kept closed “to allow the Border Patrol to do their work,” she said. Swarbrick added that the small strip of land that is closed makes up “less than 0.03 percent” of the refuge and said that the rest of the reserve is still open to the public.

So let’s recap. In 2006, the Bush Administration closed off a five-square-mile stretch of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge to the public to allow the Border Patrol to improve security. Owing to mission creep of sorts, this section stayed closed. And how does Fox interpret this? That President Obama is giving vast stretches of land back to Mexico.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, civil liberties, cop, economy, environment, Fox News Lies Again, humor, mind, nature, neuroscience, Peoria, Peoria/local, Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, quackery, racewalking, religion, running, science, social/political, sports, statistics, superstition, time trial/ race, training, walking | Leave a comment

16 June 2010-am

Posts (workout will be later today)

President Obama’s BP spill address

Ok, I could have done without the god stuff toward the end; that was lame. But for the most part, I thought it was ok.
Of course, the right wingers won’t like it, and many on the left wanted more fire and brimstone against big oil (here, or here)

Frankly, this captures my attitude: this address really wasn’t aimed at the political/news junkies:

This was not a speech for us.

It was a speech for the average American who heard something of an oil leak located vaguely downwards. Hell, three people I work with hadn’t even HEARD of it at ALL until I brought it up last week.

People like that wouldn’t understand a comprehensive plan, wouldn’t care about it, wouldn’t want to sit around and listen about it.

They want to know the “what,” “why,” and “when” of the clean-up and the reform. You and I are interested in the “how” as well.

His speech was designed to be a pep-talk. It was designed to give basic facts and to leave average Americans feeling slightly better somehow about this whole situation.

We were not his audience for this speech, so getting pissed that it didn’t cater to what we look for is beyond ridiculous.

Whatever policy he would like to pass needs to make it through the Senate, filled with corporate politicians and Blue Dogs looking for some press time.

I’d like to head off all the knee-jerk “You’re an Obama-bot” or “We’re just holding his feet to the fire and not worshiping Obama-God” crap that flows in these sorts of quasi-meta fights by stating that I am not happy with how this oil spill has been handled. I want more, I want to hear more, and I want to see more as well.

I’m also able to see the purpose of tonight’s speech was not for Obama to give the final word on environmental issues or the oil spill, nor to let us know the “how” we’re all craving.

I hope like hell it’s coming soon and it’s comprehensive, but getting upset because Obama didn’t give us a comprehensive, detailed plan of attack for the spill and for getting off fossil fuels like 3 minutes after his speech ended is insipid.

Not quite as insipid with how quickly the diary in question made it to the top of the list, but that’s no surprise there, given the current climate of Daily Kos these days.

Sometimes my fellow lefties forget that most of the public isn’t like us and that the Republican politicians are closer to the right wing base than the Democrats are to the left wing base.

So how is the President doing in terms of job approval?
Here is a bit of reality:

Note: the numbers haven’t been smoothed for President Obama’s “this month” approval rating, but you can see the raw graphs; not much difference between him, President Reagan and President Clinton in terms of job approval ratings.

From here

So, the Republicans who are currently running off their mouths about the President being a “one term president” have no data to back that up; only their opinions.

Other stuff
Humor and working out: this post about the Army “PT” and their required workout gear was hilarious. It wasn’t quite that bad in the Navy when I was in it (1981-1985), but they had rules about shirts, etc.

Speaking of working out: Secretary Ray LaHood (whose appointment I opposed…I was very wrong here) has some good news about the use of running, walking and cycling trails and paths:

Now, the original goal of The National Biking and Walking Study submitted in 1994 was to “double the percentage of total trips made by bicycling and walking from 7.9% to 15.8% of all travel trips.”

Americans are walking In transportation circles, we call that percentage “mode share,” and any planner will tell you that doubling mode share is an ambitious goal. But it turns out that we’re getting there.

According to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, bicycling and walking now account for 11.9% of all trips. It’s not the 15.8% we hoped to see, but–considering the increase in population and overall number of trips–it’s progress.

Even better, the safety data is also promising. From 1994 to 2008, the number of pedestrians killed decreased by 22.3% and the number of bicyclists killed decreased by 12%. Since the number of trips taken on foot or on bike has more than doubled in the same period, those declines are a good sign of increased safety.

Also, even as the percentage of all trips taken on foot or on bicycle has increased in the same period, the number of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities as a percentage of all traffic fatalities has dropped. Again, not only have bicycling and walking gained in mode share, but they’ve also gained in relative safety.

Mind: when planning trips, people tend to have a “southern bias”:

People making travel plans may unwittingly heed a strange rule of thumb — southern routes rule. In a new experiment, volunteers chose paths that dipped south over routes of the same distance that arched northward, perhaps because northern routes intuitively seem uphill and thus more difficult, researchers suggest.

Volunteers also estimated that it would take considerably longer to drive between the same pairs of U.S. cities if traveling from south to north, as opposed to north to south, says psychologist and study director Tad Brunyé of the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command in Natick, Mass., and Tufts University in Medford, Mass. For journeys that averaged 798 miles, time estimates for north-going jaunts averaged one hour and 39 minutes more than south-going trips, he and his colleagues report in an upcoming Memory & Cognition.

“This finding suggests that when people plan to travel across long distances, a ‘north is up’ heuristic might compromise their accuracy in estimating trip durations,” Brunyé says.

Only individuals who adopted a first-person, ground-level perspective treated southern routes as the paths of least resistance, he notes. From this vantage, one moves forward and back, right and left.

No southern leaning characterized those who assessed routes from a bird’s-eye view. This type of navigation uses the directional terms north, south, east and west.

The description of the study can be found at the link (N = 160)

Device called “the club”: does more harm than good? 🙂

Forensic science Yes, there are power line variations that can be detected. These provide a time signature that can be used to determine if recorded voices are authentic or have been added later!

More science
Here is an excellent summary of what we know about exo-planets, that is, planets that orbit other stars. Included in this post is the controversy over when scientists should release their raw data; is it really fair to expect them to expose their data thereby allowing other number crunchers to “scoop” them on findings?

June 16, 2010 Posted by | astronomy, Barack Obama, bicycling, cosmology, mind, neuroscience, politics, politics/social, science, space, walking | Leave a comment

5 June 2010 (noon)

All over the place today

Fluff: online dating sites: yep, many of those who use them are MARRIED (not: got married after using them, but using them to find dates while being married to someone else); now we have

Ashley Madison’s unique selling proposition is pairing married men with married women, counting on mutually assured destruction to do the rest. Skeptics attribute its purported growth to “bot” populations – script-generated profiles that contact and reply to members – or other slight of hand. Noel Biderman, Ashley Madison’s CEO, explains the site’s success as a function of marketing, and this sponsorship goes to further show the service’s vitality. As “…a former sports attorney who was inspired to create the site in 2001 after reading a research report that 30 percent of the people who visit singles dating sites are not single at all,” he seems to have nailed the target audience.

This vaguely reminds me of this:

Of course, this sign is, at best, misleading. Most of us have zero chance at landing someone as physically attractive as those people shown in the sign.

Gaza Flotilla Attack: Mano Singham doesn’t mince words. Yes, I think that Israel has too much influence on our government. We should be allies, but we ought to call them out when they screw up.

Other topics
Friendly atheist teaches math in high school. Here he talks about an incident in which a parent complained about his blog.

Math fail: someone thinks that a penalty of 1/6’th of his wealth is too harsh. A judge agrees, and so makes the penalty 1/5’th. The judge wasn’t being sarcastic.

Science Some day, we might be able to “import” data into the mind. If that seems strange, just think of all of the relative recent events in which a public official
“recalled” stuff that wasn’t true:
Arizona Governor
Republican candidate for Senate
Democratic candidate for Senate
Democratic candidate for President

Republican President

Ronald Reagan was an inveterate teller of anecdotes. He loved to tell people stories both about himself and others. The problem is that so many of these stories weren’t just filled with inconsistencies, many of them were outright lies. As a perfect example, consider the story that was particularly fond of telling in his later years about being part of the film crew present at the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Now, this isn’t simply a case of mixing up facts, thinking he was one place when in reality he was at another nearby. Ronald Reagan never left the shores of America during the entirety of World War II!

Yet few people apparently ever had trouble believing his creative memory. It can only be assumed that Ronald Reagan himself must at some subconscious level have believed in the lies; if you believe them, it isn’t lying.

Yes, I’ve misremembered things and so did the late Stephen Jay Gould; in fact one of his stories was about false memories.

Economy Robert Reich predicts a double-dip recession; the middle class just doesn’t have any money to spend.

Yes, the last month’s job numbers were confounded by lots of census jobs, and private sector job growth remains stagnant (plus 40,000). Still, we are better off than we were under President Bush.

Yesterday, we had a quick drop in the stock market. A friend of mine explains why:

When James Angel wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission just over a month ago, he made a prescient point. “With so much activity driven by automated computer systems, there is a risk that something will go extremely wrong at high speed,” the associate professor of finance at Georgetown University warned the US equity market’s main regulator in a letter sent on April 30.

It took only six days for the prediction to come true.

Point counter point: Is it appropriate to build a Muslim center (with a mosque) near ground zero?


Counter point

Ed Brayton:

Here’s conservative hypocrite Andrew McCarthy arguing that the government should not allow an Islamic center (they keep calling it a mosque, but it’s a larger center and a mosque is only one part of it) to be built a couple blocks from the site of the 9/11 attack. He actually justifies it with a ridiculous tu quoque:

There are 2300 mosques at least in the United States, by contrast, in mecca and medina, there are not only no Christian churches, no synagogues, there are no non-Muslims, they’re closed cities. It would be a monument to intolerance on sacred ground.

He then bizarrely claims that allowing the center to be built would be an example of “Islamic supremacism” — while actively arguing that the government should allow religious groups of all kinds to own property and use them for their own purposes except for Muslims.

I have to agree with “counter point” here. Sure, I find Islam to be absurd, but then again, I find all of the major religions to be absurd. These systems only become tolerable when their adherents start using their texts symbolically (as do most educated Christians). If Muslims want to live here and obey our laws and respect freedom of speech, great! Welcome! Those who don’t should be treated the same way that Christians who don’t respect our laws or freedoms are treated (e. g., those who murder doctors).

June 5, 2010 Posted by | atheism, Barack Obama, Democrats, economy, education, hillary clinton, mathematics, Middle East, mind, morons, neuroscience, political humor, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, resume, social/political, superstition, world events, WTF | Leave a comment

2 June 2010 (am)

Workout notes am: lifting and ab work. The lifting:
arm bike: 2 minutes
rotator cuff: both sides, slow this time.
pull ups: 3 sets of 10
chin ups: 2 sets of 10
Rows: 10 x 115, 7 x 135, 7 x 135 Smith Machine
Rows: 7 x 95, 7 x 95 (free)
Pull downs: (rotator cuff friendly bar) 7 x 160, 7 x 160, 10 x 140
military press (dumbbell): 10 x 45, 10 x 45, 8 x 50
incline bench press: 10 x 135, 10 x 135
Squats: 2 sets of 15 x 135 (Smith Machine)
Extensions: 2 sets of 10 x 130
Leg Curls: 2 sets of 10 x ???(forgot)
toe raises: 2 sets of 20 x 70, 2 sets of 10 x 130
glute push backs: 2 sets of 10 x 130
leg raises: hanging, 2 sets of 10 (first set: got them up there)
twists: 2 sets of 10 x 130
crunches: 2 sets of 20 (vertical)
The shoulder felt fine, though I iced it anyway.

This evening: 5 miles with the group or on my own (treadmill) if lighting cancels the group workout.

I still have incentive to get out to the races, even if I don’t walk my best:


In all honesty check this out:

Now look at me:

(Yes, I had a torn meniscus at this time). See how my rear leg “bends” prematurely? At this time, pushing back with a straight leg is painful. I am legal in this photo, but inefficient.

(hat tip: Tammy)

More fun
I am so glad that I am not in the world of dating:

Political humor
Alabama just had a primary election (as did other states). Can you tell which ads are real?

(answer: 1 and 3 are genuine ads; to see the results of the primary, surf here)

Social: I wonder how many middle aged women feel this way? Personally, I know that I don’t attract younger women and that doesn’t bother me. I am bothered a bit by my physical weakness and my slowing mind.
Were I to be thrust onto the dating scene, I’d be more interested in women in the 40-60’ish year old range.

Politics Robert Reich answers questions about how the President might put BP under a “temporary receivership” to get this spill cleaned up.

Even slacker crows help out when another crow is injured:

Freeloading crows start to contribute to group efforts when hardworking birds become handicapped, a study shows.

Carrion crows (Corvus corone) form stable groups that share the responsibilities of breeding and caring for the young. Dominant breeders rely on helpers to feed chicks, but they also tolerate individuals that don’t seem to help at all. Puzzled about the reasons for this leniency, scientists have suggested that dominants may indirectly benefit from the survival and future reproduction of lazy relatives, and that larger groups — even those filled with dallying birds — may have a lower risk of predation or be more efficient at foraging.

Evolutionary biologist Vittorio Baglione at the University of Valladolid in Palencia, Spain, and colleagues now reveal an unexpected role for the laziest members of the group. They report their findings today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences1. […]

In short, even a group of crows has a “bench”.

Acupuncture: Here is a serious study: the needles might cause tissue damage thereby increasing the flow of natural pain-killers to the sites of the injury:

Researchers have developed two hypotheses for how acupuncture relieves pain. One holds that the needle stimulates pain-sensing nerves, which trigger the brain to release opiumlike compounds called endorphins that circulate in the body. The other holds that acupuncture works through a placebo effect, in which the patient’s thinking releases endorphins. Neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York state was skeptical about both hypotheses because acupuncture doesn’t hurt and often works only when needles are inserted near the sore site. Nedergaard instead suspected that when acupuncturists insert and rotate needles, they cause minor damage to the tissue, which releases a compound called adenosine that acts as a local pain reliever.

Nedergaard first assigned the study as a summer project to her then-16-year-old daughter, Nanna Goldman. Goldman and other researchers in Nedergaard’s lab lightly anesthetized mice to get them to hold still, inserted a needle into an acupuncture point on the lower leg, and sampled the fluid around the needle. They found a 24-fold rise in adenosine, which seemed promising. […]

Inserting an acupuncture needle or locally injecting a drug that boosted adenosine’s action made the mice far less sensitive to pain. But neither treatment eased pain in mice that lacked a cell-surface receptor through which adenosine exerts its effects. These results demonstrate that adenosine acts as a biochemical messenger that helped soothe pain during acupuncture, says Nedergaard. The researchers obtained further confirmation by showing that both treatments lowered the activity in a pain-sensing area of the brain known as the anterior cingulate cortex. […]

World Events: please, Israel: can’t you admit that you screwed up just this once?

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Alabama, big butts, brain, evolution, health, injury, Middle East, mind, nature, neuroscience, Personal Issues, Political Ad, political humor, politics, politics/social, racewalking, relationships, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, science, spandex, walking, weight training, world events | 2 Comments

Scifri Videos: Rumble In The Jungle

Science, technology, environment and health news and discussion from the makers of the NPR public radio program Science Friday with host Ira Flatow.

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Jerry Coyne has more here: he thinks that this will be some sort of mating call (a ‘froggy flirt”) and goes on to talk about scientific papers and how to “sell” your work to the journal.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | alternative energy, biology, blogs, brain, cosmology, dark energy, disease, environment, evolution, frogs, green news, health, matter, nanotechnology, nature, neuroscience, physics, public policy and discussion from NPR public radio program Science Friday with host Ira Flatow. Science Videos, science, Science Friday teachers, Science Friday teens., technology | Leave a comment