blueollie

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:

flagvs2008vote

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.

Posts
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.

hrccampaign

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:

071115krugman2-blog480

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

Activists: my lack of patience with them

Workout notes I did an 8 mile course in 1:47 (8.08); to Bradley Park via the usual way, 2 lower loops and 2 full upper loops (past the bathrooms) and back; last “mile” was 12:53.
Interestingly 3 weeks ago, I “ran” a similar 8 miles in 1:33; as you can see my brisk walk pace is only a little bit slower. My department chair says my run gait is pretty much the same as my walk gait.

The difference: the degree to which I bend my knees. Sad, I know. :-)

Posts
Yes, tenure is good job security, but it is far from perfect. If you anger enough people, they’ll find a reason to get rid of you. They used her classroom language as an excuse, but my (very uneducated) guess it was more this:

In a letter that day to Buchanan, Damon Andrew, dean of the College of Human Sciences & Education, said “multiple serious concerns” had come to his attention, including “inappropriate statements you made to students, teachers and education administrators,” as well as conflict with Iberville Parish Superintendent Ed Cancienne.

“This behavior is completely unacceptable and must cease,” Andrew wrote.

In an interview with The Advocate, Cancienne said he called Andrew because he’d received complaints about Buchanan from a couple of his teachers and felt it was his duty to alert LSU. LSU then asked him to put his concerns in writing, he said.

“When I think there’s a serious issue, then I have to communicate that to them,” he said.

Iberville continues to participate in the selective PK-3 Teacher Education Program that Buchanan founded.

Buchanan said Cancienne had asked repeatedly for her to send teachers to Iberville Parish, but she’d resisted because it’s a relatively low performing district, and her students teachers need to see standout teaching so they know what to do themselves. She said the program got off to a rocky start there, but she denied any unprofessional behavior.

She said she voluntarily agreed to no longer supervise the LSU student teachers in Iberville after Cancienne called her to complain. She said she thinks Cancienne’s complaints, and LSU’s desire to placate him, had something to do with her firing.

Buchanan said the selective teaching program she ran is demanding, likening it to a medical school internship, making her unpopular with some students.

“I have very low tolerance for poor teaching and very high standards,” she said.

Yes, she is suing.

Activists I have no patience for stuff like this: a woman climbed flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol and took down the “confederate flag”. This was viewed as a good thing by many of my social media friends, but not by me.

Yes, I am gladdened to see calls for the flag to come down and I hope that the South Carolina state legislature does the right thing.

But to me, this is just another “know it all” deciding what is right (in her opinion) and just making a unilateral decision. I don’t think that the people of South Carolina elected her or appointed her. So I am fine with her getting the appropriate legal punishment (proportionate to the act, which I consider to be a relatively minor nuisance).

Oh sure, this was far, far, far worse and I have much greater contempt for this action.

June 30, 2015 Posted by | education, political/social, quackery, social/political, walking | , , , | Leave a comment

Dumb discourse …

I am using the free wifi at our airport…the plane that was supposed to get us to Dallas-Fort worth by 7:20 isn’t schedule to depart until 7:40 or so.

Oh well…

That traps me in the airport with the cell phone brigade and right now some woman is jabbering and shaking so hard she is turning red in the face….” …she said that….”

The internet: you can turn off or scroll past. Airports with no cell phone free areas: captive. I do have in ear plugs…

But I found some amusing pranks:

But there is another kind of banality that is more harmful to us. Have you ever wondered why the political dialogue is so stilted and filled with cliches? My guess: anyone who speaks with even a tiny bit of nuance is hung out to dry, even by one’s potential political allies.

Example: Senator James Webb said this (re: the “confederate flag” controversy)

webbstatement

He is catching fire for this statement and I am not talking about rational push-back.

Think of it this way: IF the “confederate flag” were only the flag of a former failed state (good source here), well, that would be one thing. Yes, it was a long time ago and many of our ancestors (mine included) did some truly horrible things. There were a lot of otherwise honorable people who simply didn’t know any better and weren’t visionary enough to overcome their cultural environment.

My beef is that the current “confederate flag” (battle flag of Tennessee..and a square version was used by the Northern Virginia army) is used now-a-days as a result of a push-back against the beginning of the civil rights era in the United States:

The rebel flag’s resurgence came long after the Civil War
After the Civil War ended, the battle flag turned up here and there only occasionally — at events to commemorate fallen soldiers.

So, when did the flag explode into prominence? It was during the struggle for civil rights for black Americans, in the middle of the 20th century.

The first burst may have been in 1948. South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond ran for president under the newly founded States Rights Democratic Party, also known as the Dixiecrats. The party’s purpose was clear: “We stand for the segregation of the races,” said Article 4 of its platform.

Why the Confederate flag still flies

At campaign stops, fans greeted Thurmond with American flags, state flags — and Confederate battle flags.

But desegregation progressed.

As it passed milestones like the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, which gave black American children access to all schools, the Confederate battle flag popped up more and more.

The one in South Carolina flew since 1962; it was first put up in 1961 as part of the 100 year anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

Senator Webb, though he is too conservative for my tastes, raises some worthy points. But nuance and thoughtfulness doesn’t play well in American politics, especially when the message is “don’t demonize people who aren’t like you.”

That, sadly, is bipartisan.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | political/social, social/political, travel | , , | 2 Comments

Reasonable people descending into stupidity in an area ….

This post How Politics Makes us Stupid is worth reading. The upshot: when it comes to our pet issues, we become like advocates for our issues rather than someone who seeks the truth, hence we take shortcuts that make our thinking sloppy and we rationalize away (or ignore) contrary evidence.

But I think that there is more going on.

We are social creatures. We want to be accepted by our “tribe”. Hence, we sometimes get in a race to say “what a good X” would say, where X can be:

liberal
conservative
Christian (or Jew, or Muslim)
feminist
racial minority activist
social conservative
military person
businessman/businesswoman
atheist
etc.

would say. And if we can outdo our tribal peers, all the better!

You see result of such groupthink being lampooned in many ways:

feministglass

954707_467132440032660_1761665068_n

horseyimpeachobama

Here is an example of that: my “like minded” friends are passing around this meme:

badmeme

But the crime isn’t the issue: it is how the person responded when police went to arrest him. Mr. Garner argued and resisted..that is what lead to the scuffle (and yes, the police used an illegal choke hold; they did screw up). I don’t know what Mr. Roof did when police attempted to arrest him. But the meme is ill conceived.

And of course, no matter what group belong to (and I belong to several), well, we are all so…oppressed (to various degrees) and we love to be offended. :-)

But “this offends me” is not an argument.

And yes, too many times, I am guilty of all of the above.

June 19, 2015 Posted by | political/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

avoiding tedium

No, I can’t avoid it all, but I am taking a quick break.

Today’s workout: 2 mile warm up walk (33 minutes); this included drills.
24:18 for 2.15 miles (5 x .43)
14 minute walk home

Call it 5 miles. 60 F, drizzle; somewhat chilly.

Later tonight: with the group; IF we walk. Total: maybe 2 miles, as Steamboat is on Saturday. Weather: who in the heck knows? We’ve been rained on pretty heavily, though I could go for the 60 F temperature at the start. This year: jog the 15K “with the group” just to “finish with dignity”.

Random Thoughts

I have a new office chair, though I could really go for one of these treadmill work stations.

Yes, I am doing college stuff. I am glad that I teach mathematics. The atmosphere here isn’t that bad, but I am seeing stories about administration being oversensitive to students being oversensitive. At times, it appears that one can earn “PC cred” by creatively finding a way to be offended by something.

Yes, there are also budget crunches and: well, faculty are asked to teach more students (“while not lowering quality”) because budget constraints preclude hiring new faculty, though not from hiring new administrators. Yes, the article I linked to is “parody…which represents truth” so to speak.

Politics I am pretty bored at the moment, at least with the Presidential election.
Democrats: I don’t know what effect that Senator Bernie Sanders will have; he might be a good debating partner for Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Republicans: I am not sure if I could list all of the “official” and “soon to be official” candidates. I’ll let a conservative sort if all out for you.

Who I am taking seriously: Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Chris Christie (not announced), Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Marco Rubio. My guess: Bush vs. Walker…not sure who wins. Robert Reich thinks that Walker will win.

It is WAY too early to make a prediction
I’ll just say it: I think that the 2016 map looks a lot like the 2012 one; basically Hillary Clinton was stronger than Barack Obama in all of the so-called “toss up” states except for Virginia. My “ridiculously too far out to mean” much call is for her to get somewhere between 320-360 electoral votes (270 needed to win).

June 17, 2015 Posted by | 2016, hillary clinton, political/social, politics, racewalking | , , | Leave a comment

A good post about politicians (and why we elect the ones that we do…)

Workout notes: 3.3 mile “run” (4.2 classic cut short by skipping the last Parkside loop), quick meal then weights:

pull ups, 3 sets of 10, then 2 sets of 10 supersetted, rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 2 x 180 (hip cramp), 8 x 160
military: 3 sets of 10 with 40 pound dumbbells (standing)
pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 137.5, 10 x 130 different machine
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 55

When home and picked up debris from our recent storms (lots of small branches from trees; enough to fill a trash can.

Walking: from last week’s FANS 24 hour event:

median male runner: 68.4 miles (61)
median female runner: 67.9 miles (26)
median walker: 74.5 miles (13)

It was that kind of event. There were a LOT of tough walkers there.

Post:
This is a nice article about why we elect those that we do. Upshot:; we like affinity, we want to be told what we want to hear, and we overvalue confidence.

June 13, 2015 Posted by | political/social, running, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Journalists not understanding politics

One outlet says this:

attack

So what was this “attack”?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How are you even gonna get into the pole position right now? I mean, Bernie Sanders– taken out a lotta the same progressive positions you have– has kind of shot up– in both the national polls and– and Iowa and New Hampshire the last– few weeks. Is– that’s a challenge to your candidacy.

GOVERNOR O’MALLEY: Well, I think it’s an encouragement to my candidacy, and for this reason. I think that– the public is looking for new leadership, leadership that doesn’t apologize for having progressive values.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –why should progressive voters pick you over Bernie Sanders?

GOVERNOR O’MALLEY: Because I have a track record of actually getting things done, not just talking about things.

THAT was ugly? Please. This was nothing more that the classic “Governor vs. Senator” rhetoric that has been going on since we’ve had primaries. There is nothing to see here.

Mike Huckabee’s joke Yes, Mike Huckabee made the old “I with I would have pretended to be a girl so I could have showered with them” joke. That is not new; nor is it particularly offensive to me.

But many are having vapors over this:

The political mind of former Arkansas governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee must be a very interesting place — a place that looks and feels a lot like 2004.

BuzzFeed spotted a video of Huckabee’s February address at the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tenn. The video was posted online this weekend by World Net Daily. In it, Huckabee shared some thoughts on transgender Americans.

“Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE,” said Huckabee. “I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’ You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous doesn’t it?”

For most people, Huckabee’s comments seem a little out of date, perhaps even bigoted. This is a country in which a gold-medal-winning Olympian and one-time mascot of American masculinity just revealed that he is a transgender Republican, and then posed for the cover of Vanity Fair to share a new name, Caitlyn Jenner, along with a new gender identity and personal story.

Newsflash: Gov. Huckabee is running in the Republican primary and is openly targeting the elderly voter (witness his positions of Medicare and Social Security, which have put him to the left of his party and drawn the ire of his fellow Republicans)

Folks: the world of the Republican party is not an oversensitive college campus. :-)

June 3, 2015 Posted by | 2016, political/social, politics, republicans | , | Leave a comment

Some political reality

If we listen to the detractors, EVERYONE hates President Obama.

But what is reality? If one looks at the cold, hard facts, President Obama’s approval ratings:

1. Track very well with the historical ratings of previous presidents (who have served two terms)

2. Are well above those of President Bush (at this point in his presidency) but below what President Clinton’s were. President Reagan had better ratings for much of his presidency but, at this point, his approval ratings were similar to President Obama’s (remember Iran-Contra)

obamaapprovalmay2015

Dotted line: average of all presidents. Light green: President Obama. Dark green: President Bush.

Screen shot 2015-05-24 at 5.13.45 PM

Again, light green is President Obama, darkest green is President Reagan (with the big dip); the middle green (and highest ratings) is President Clinton.

From here

Now the Republicans turn their sights on the 2016 elections. Yes, some are bloviating about the instability in Iraq (President Bush left a stable situation!) evidently forgetting that the Status of Forces agreement to get the US out of Iraq was negotiated with Iraq by President Bush. Yes, the region was more stable with us there, but were we to stay there in perpetuity?

Please.

May 24, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Barack Obama, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics, world events | , , , | Leave a comment

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