Democratic Debate Tonight…

Frankly, I am just not that interested. I’ll force myself to watch, but there will be only one viable candidate there. Sen. Sanders has attracted a moonbeam following and as far as the others: why? Personally, I find the Republican debates to be much more fun and interesting.


Compared to the Obama vs. Clinton clashes of the 2007-2008 cycle, this will be a varsity vs. the JV scrimmage.

True, afterward the Berniebots and Sandfleas will be gushing about his performance but anyone can file bills that will go nowhere and deliver stuff that people want to hear.

Here is the one question that I would be interested in hearing the answer to: “How will you work with a hostile, dysfunctional Congress?”

Yes, President Obama was naive; he thought that his running with Republican ideas would get Republican support. But a huge part of the GOP has no interest in governing, at all, unless THEY are in power. Republicans who compromise are seen as being weak by their base and their donors.

October 13, 2015 Posted by | hillary clinton, political/social, republicans | | Leave a comment


Well, I had a bad experience in class last night; I got stuck and was too stubborn to move on. Never again.
There was something simple that I did not see. And yes, this material is new to me, though it isn’t mathematically sophisticated.

On the good side: as I walked back from the gym this morning, I saw the most darling baby bunny hiding under one of the plants. It was adorable. But of course, it was hiding as the predators (hawks, foxes) would find it delicious.

Workout notes
swim first: 500 easy, 5 x 50 drill (fins), 50 free (no fins), 6 x 100 on 2:10 (1:48-1:50 each), 100 fly drill, 100 IM. 1800 yards total, or 1 mile
weights: rotator cuff, 5 x 10 pull ups (hard), 10 x 135, 7 x 170 bench, 6 x 150, 10 x 135 incline press, 3 sets of 10 x 40 standing military, 3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer machine rows.
Then some yoga; got headstand but wasn’t quite as steady as I’d like.


John Boehner is stepping down?

Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, will resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, throwing Congress into chaos as it tries to avert a government shutdown.

Mr. Boehner, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning.

The Ohio representative struggled from almost the moment he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government and to hold together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members.

Evidently, the imbeciles were too much for him to manage.

And front running Donald Trump is boycotting Fox News.

Wow. It seems that our conservatives are in disarray, to say the least. Perhaps the union between the wealthy and the rabid populists is finally starting to end.

And yes, this means that we’ll have another government shutdown.

September 25, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, swimming, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Rages, surges, water, clocks and wasps..

Workout notes: swim, then weights.

Swim: 500 easy (Jason sort of raced me), 5 x (50 drill/free (fins for drill, no fins for free), 5 x 100 on the 2:10 (two in 1:50; rest 1:47-1:49), 2 x 100 IM, side/free

1800 (1 mile) total.

Weights: pull ups (did ok), incline press: 10 x 135, 3 x 160, 3 x 150
rotator cuff
military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell standing
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 60 dumbbell
bench press: 10 x 70 dumbbell

yoga: 10 minutes worth; did some headstand.

It was ok, given that I was fatigued from yesterday.

The Fed and interest rates: a certain collection of bankers benefit when the rates are raised.

Science: wasps can indirectly alter caterpillar DNA. The interaction is complicated and there are still open questions.

Election 2016: If there is a “Sanders surge”, polls aren’t picking it up. I believe that sometimes people confuse intensity of support for breadth.

Clocks, etc.
In the clock case: no, the kid shouldn’t have been arrested nor suspended. In fact, we should not have ever known about it. But as far as the clock itself: probably not much profound there, other than a kid’s curiosity.

Note: I did similar stuff at that age; I remember disassembling a small radio to try to use its parts in other ways. What I ended up doing is using the earphone jack to power an external speaker…not exactly a huge feat of electrical engineering. :-)

September 21, 2015 Posted by | economics, economy, evolution, political/social, politics, science, social/political, swimming, weight training | | Leave a comment

And I double over with laughter at the store

True story: I was at the checkout counter at my local grocery store and my eye caught the magazine rack across the exit aisle. I doubled over in laughter.
The cashier said “you must have been looking at the Newsweek cover” and indeed I was:

newsweek trump

August 17, 2015 Posted by | political humor, political/social, politics | , | Leave a comment

And I let it bother me…

Higher Education Increasingly, it isn’t about education anymore.

Paul Krugman: bad ideas don’t deserve respect. I think that there is a reason that I like Krugman, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and yes, Donald Trump. They have no patience for bad ideas, or at least in Trump’s case, ideas that he considers “bad”.

And speaking of “The Donald”, you can read about why some like him here and here. Oh, there is the smug liberal spin on it:

The controversy following Donald Trump’s comments about Megyn Kelly may have hurt him among some GOP insiders, but, according to post-debate polling, it hasn’t cut into his popular appeal with Republican voters. Why not?

The mystery of Trump’s hold on Republican voters is no mystery. As many, including me, have said, his xenophobia and misogyny have long been orthodoxy among the party’s base. Just look at the Fox News debate itself. Though Kelly called Trump out on his history of misogynistic insults, none of his nine opponents onstage took exception to his crude attack on Rosie O’Donnell or to the laughter and cheers it aroused from the audience.

But I think that Bill Maher might be closer to the truth here:

I’ll explain it this way: one can support women’s rights, without thinking that women are so tender that every public insult of a woman should be called out as “misogyny”. For all I know, Mr. Trump may have well called Christ Christie “fat”. And it isn’t as if Rosie O’Donnell didn’t issue her own insults.

That is how liberal “social justice warriors” roll: they have a code and think that people should always have to answer TO THEM; that THEIR issues are the ones that should be “front and center”, at all times. You sometimes see this on college campuses:

I’m familiar with freshman “orientation sessions”, a lot of which are frankly ludicrous, trying to shame and bully new students into a “politically correct” frame of mind, one that comports with the college’s need to eliminate anything that might considered offensive…

(I recommend reading the whole article)

Frankly, it is refreshing to here someone tell such people to “go jump in the lake”.

As far as the rest, Mr. Trump might have some stupid views, but is he really that different from the rest of his party?

This was, according to many commentators, going to be the election cycle Republicans got to show off their “deep bench.” The race for the nomination would include experienced governors like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, fresh thinkers like Rand Paul, and attractive new players like Marco Rubio. Instead, however, Donald Trump leads the field by a wide margin. What happened?

The answer, according to many of those who didn’t see it coming, is gullibility: People can’t tell the difference between someone who sounds as if he knows what he’s talking about and someone who is actually serious about the issues. And for sure there’s a lot of gullibility out there. But if you ask me, the pundits have been at least as gullible as the public, and still are.

For while it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them is actually saying, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism every bit as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. And that’s not an accident: Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party.

For example, Mr. Trump’s economic views, a sort of mishmash of standard conservative talking points and protectionism, are definitely confused. But is that any worse than Jeb Bush’s deep voodoo, his claim that he could double the underlying growth rate of the American economy? And Mr. Bush’s credibility isn’t helped by his evidence for that claim: the relatively rapid growth Florida experienced during the immense housing bubble that coincided with his time as governor.

(there is much more in this article, including immigration issues, “birthers”, etc.

And it is unclear that any Republican which gives a coherent discussion of economics even stands a chance. Listen to an official in the first Bush administration.

All that being said: I still think that Mr. Trump is benefiting from the race having so many candidates; my guess is that he is near his ceiling right now.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Long walk topic: why Donald Trump is better than Bernie Sanders (in a way)

Today’s walk: whew! it started at about 5:50 and ended 4:46:34 later. I had covered 19.2 miles (14:54 pace).
Temperature: 71 F with 87 percent humidity at the start, 86 with 53 percent humidity at the end. Needless to say, I suffered. The shady parts were wonderful.

Course: my house to McClure where I picked up the old Boredom course, which I stayed on until the place where Bishop Hill met the trail (8 miles); I took the trail down to Hooters, going around the ball field wall and the Goose loop.
Then I doubled back (added 3.2 miles) on the trail (to the marina entrance and back) and then took it on home. I suffered on the unshaded parts.


I saw a few runners out there; a strong young man with a pretty woman on a bike pacing him (I hate him! ;-) ) and even a couple of young women in brief jog bras and cropped spandex shorts. And there were a few other old fools (besides me) cluttering up the landscape.

Yes, this walk was significantly better than my previous 19 miler but I was “sort of” spent when I finished (by “workout standards”).

I was thinking about the pre-primary election. Since I am friends with a lot of “progressives” on Facebook (young liberals and old hippies mostly) I am hearing about Bernie Sanders …constantly.

He is “the candidate that can’t be bought”, they say.


Now among my older, smarter friends (e. g. those with graduate degrees and professional certifications), there is a bit of a split. Some really don’t want to be “stuck” with Hillary Clinton; others like her. Though I am NOT a fan of hers, I happen to see her as the strongest, most qualified that we have.

But back to the “candidate that can’t be bought” slogan. That applies to someone else as well: Donald Trump.

There is one important difference though: Trump doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks, whether the other person is a nobody or a genuine credentialed expert. On the other hand, Sanders panders to the liberal base by filing “snowball’s chance in Hell” bills (“medicare for all” and “free college“). I see no difference between these bills and the numerous “repeal Obamacare” bills that the Republicans are always filing: it is a publicity stunt to dupe the less-than-intelligent masses in their respective constituencies.

By the way, I’d actually back both but there is no chance that we’ll see anything like that in the near future. 15 years from now? Who knows.

And just to be clear. If Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, I’ll vote for him (after throwing up and accepting the fact that we’ll have 8 years of a Republican president)

August 16, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, walking | , , , | Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders: not a leader

I admit that I like that Senator Sanders has a Keynesian approach to economics (demand side economics) and is speaking to wealth inequality and the problems that it causes.
I don’t like his stance on science issues though.

But this really bothered me:


Evidently Senator Sanders went ahead and let some kooks (aka “activists”) hijack one of his rallies.

So, is that how a President Sanders will do things? Will he set an agenda only to let some activists come in and change his agenda to suit their needs?

Yes, a President should listen to the voices of “the people”. But then a President should study the facts, take in advice and say “we are going to try it this way” and go. She (or he) can’t let the “flavor of the day” activists hijack the plans on a moment’s notice.

This is not leadership. So, large crowds or not, I do not see him as presidential material.

His crowds are large (as were Obama’s in 2007) but so were Eugene McCarthy’s. A large crowd means that he excites a segment of the Democratic base (the “activist base”). That does mean something.

August 11, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Confederate Flag Rallies vs. 2008 voting shift

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a map of past and future Confederate flag rallies. Seeing this reminded me of the 2008 New York Times presidential election map; the map (under “shift”) tracks the shift to or from the Democratic candidate in 2004. That is, if a county is colored blue, Obama got a greater share than Kerry did in that county; if the county is colored red, McCain got a greater share in 2008 than Bush got in 2004.

So I took the liberty of comparing the two maps:


Interesting, no?

July 23, 2015 Posted by | 2008 Election, political/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

Sorting it out

My summer is at a cross roads; I am not sure as to what to spend my time on. I’ve gotten stuff done though.

Workout notes: easy 6 mile run (6.4-6.5 really) that I didn’t time; I didn’t want to know. I just beat the rain storm (barely).

I watched the Chiefs game last night; they won 1-0; the starter pitched 6 innings and allowed 1 hit, 0 runs and struck out 8; the relievers struck out 4 more. The visiting team: they only gave up 4 hits and struck out 8. So this was a defense dominated game which featured good pitching, great fielding and terrible base running.

President Obama: visited Oklahoma City and Durant. Some people were flying “Confederate flags”. What I remember is that there is a rest stop with a “Confederate Memorial Museum” off of highway 75/69 near Durant. I visited there and was pleasantly surprised at the display they had on evolution and geology; it was genuine science and worth seeing. The other stuff was mostly historical; I suppose it could be renamed “local history museum” but would then draw fewer visitors.

Iran nuclear deal: this was just about the bomb; many nuclear scientists see this as exactly what is needed to keep them from getting one.

Politics: from the Hillary Clinton campaign: you can see who they think are the best people to fundraise against. I don’t see Sen. Cruz as a threat; I do see the other 3 as serious contenders. Notice which Republican is NOT there.


This latest poll shows that people would consider voting for a “qualified” gay person at about the same rate as a “qualified” evangelical Christian (73-74 percent). Atheists and Muslims are rated closely as well (58-60 percent) with socialists rated last (47 percent).

Elections do have consequences: Gov. Walker has made changes to the University of Wisconsin university system..and these are changes that many see as bad.

July 16, 2015 Posted by | education, hillary clinton, Political Ad, political/social, politics, politics/social, running | , , | Leave a comment

Jeb Bush’s “longer hours” statement, skepticism and tribalism …

Jeb Bush said that Americans should work longer hours. You can see the short video here. Now, we need to understand what he meant by that. Of course, there are part time people who would like to have full time jobs:

There are arguments that more people need to be working (there are also good arguments to the contrary). And there is a real problem with underemployment – people who are involuntarily working less 40 hours a week. But Bush didn’t say that more people need to be working (questionable) or that more people need to be able to get full-time jobs (true). He said people need to work longer hours.

But that is not how it came out; it sure came out as if Gov. Bush thinks that Americans are, well, slacking? Or, is it the contention that we should make better jobs so that those working part time can go to full time if so desired?

Paul Krguman takes this on; he sees this as a continuation of Gov. Romney’s 47 percent remarks and entrenched Republican beliefs:

At my adventure in Las Vegas, one of the questions posed by the moderator was, if I remember it correctly, “What would you do about America’s growing underclass living off welfare?” When I said that the premise was wrong, that this isn’t actually happening, there was general incredulity — this is part of what the right knows is happening. When Jeb Bush — who is a known admirer of Charles Murray — talks about more hours, he’s probably thinking largely about getting the bums on welfare out there working.

As I asked a few months ago, where are these welfare programs people are supposedly living off? TANF is tiny; what’s left are EITC, food stamps, and unemployment benefits. Spending on food stamps and UI soared during the slump, but came down quickly; overall spending on “income security” has shown no trend at all as a share of GDP, with all the supposed growth in means-tested programs coming from Medicaid:


Krugman goes on to point out that the percentage of people on disability is flat, *once one corrects for age*. Remember that the longer one lives, the more likely one is to have a physical condition that is disabling.

But alas, the conservatives cannot divorce themselves from what “they know”, even if it is “not so.”

I see that is a human tendency; liberals are not immune to it either. Steven Pinker talks about the “blank slate” hypothesis here..and yes this “blank slate” hypothesis is very popular among the social justice warrior crowd.

It is also tough for humans to see things through the eyes of others, and it is tough to not feel attacked when one’s basic assumptions are challenged. You see frustration with that in John Metta’s sermon on racism.

Frankly, I think that is human nature to rebel when one’s fundamental assumptions are attacked. After all, we’ve believed those assumptions for a long time, and often the person who is attacking those assumptions might not be that intellectually distinguished, and they might be wrong about other things. Their arguments may be weak or contain gaping holes. But nevertheless, they might be right, even if their argument isn’t.

Having a science like skepticism toward the beliefs of others is easy. Having it toward ones OWN beliefs is hard, and I wonder if such skepticism is rare outside of science.

This is really a sticky topic when we talk about things like racism and sexism. Here is a point from Metta’s sermon. He talks about his prior discussions with his white aunt:

Those, however, are facts that my aunt does not need to know. She does not need to live with the racial segregation and oppression of her home. As a white person with upward mobility, she has continued to improve her situation. She moved out of the area I grew up in– she moved to an area with better schools. She doesn’t have to experience racism, and so it is not real to her.

Nor does it dawn on her that the very fact that she moved away from an increasingly Black neighborhood to live in a White suburb might itself be a aspect of racism. She doesn’t need to realize that “better schools” exclusively means “whiter schools.”

Now I challenge the notion that “better schools” means “whiter schools”; it can mean that, of course, but mostly it means “a school for wealthier people” or a “better funded school”. Believe me, I’d choose my racially mixed Department of Defense schools over most of the predominately white schools I’ve seen.

But I think that some of these unhelpful feelings are the result of human beings being tribal and humans tending to reason inductively. Here is what I mean: if you aren’t black, you probably don’t have many close black friends; you might notice a few athletes (“hey blacks are good at sports!”) and see a drug bust on TV (“hey…it is unfortunate that so many criminals happen to be black”) or you might see a black person hitting you up for money (as frequently happens where I live right now; in my prior location the panhandlers were white). So, your brain makes an unhelpful inference based on a tiny, non-random sample.

On the other hand: the white criminal or panhandler is seen as a negative outlier; after all there are many counter-examples in your life that you see every day. The white murderer: sociopath. The white who attacks people out of the blue: crazy.

Quickly: is she a “thug” and representative of violent “white culture”, or is she a druggie or mentally ill?

But when a black person does it, the human tendency is to draw an inference, however inaccurate.

But: I do NOT see white people as being unusually evil; in fact, if the world were created just a bit different and this were a time of black people dominating, I doubt that they would behave much differently. I know that my brown ancestors (Aztecs) happily enslaved and murdered their opponents when they could do so; it just so happens that when my Spanish ancestors got there, my Aztec ancestors got their asses kicked and my Spanish ancestors were less than gracious winners.

Nevertheless, black people in our society, have a “draining from 100 cuts” existence. The cuts might be individually small, but the toll they take accumulates.

Sometimes, our human nature, which may have worked for us from 50K to 1K years for us, works against us right now.

So, I’ll just conclude by saying something that will probably offend many of my liberal friends AND my conservative friends alike:

Yes, our society has some structural racism built in it, and it is a good thing to work and remedying that. But this does NOT mean that white people have any special reason to “feel guilty” either. I do think that we all have a responsibility to help build a less racist society though even if that means giving a little.

I think of it this way: if your neighbor had their house burned down and their wealth plundered, wouldn’t helping out be the right thing to do, even if you had no part in either the plundering or the burning? I realize that analogy is imperfect and that the situation is more complicated than that.

July 11, 2015 Posted by | political/social, racism, social/political | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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