blueollie

The liberal way

There was a recent article about Fitbit and how its use did NOT seem to make people fitter, in general:

The trial took place at the University of Pittsburgh between 2010 and 2012, and it involved more than 470 adults between the ages of 18 and 35. All of them were put on a low-calorie diet, had group counseling sessions and were advised to increase their physical activity. Six months into the intervention, all were given telephone counseling sessions, text-message prompts and study materials online.

At that time, though, half were also given wearable tech devices that monitored their activity and connected to a website to help provide feedback. All participants were followed for 18 more months.

At the end of the two years, which is pretty long for a weight loss study, those without access to the wearable technology lost an average of 13 pounds. Those with the wearable tech lost an average of 7.7 pounds.

It’s hard for many to accept, so I’m going to state the results again: Those people who used the wearable tech for 18 months lost significantly less weight than those who didn’t.

You may rightfully point out that the primary reason to wear the devices isn’t to lose weight — it’s to be more active. But even in this respect, it didn’t work nearly as well as we might hope. In the IDEA trial, those who employed the technology were no more physically active than those who didn’t. They also weren’t more fit.

Now this is a very narrow demographic (18 to 35) and most of the people that I talk to or who use this are considerably older than 35 years old. And yes, one of the fans of the fitbit is ..my wife. Nevertheless, Paul Krugman weighed in:

Notice: instead of panning a study that gave a counterintuitive result, he looked for other reasons as to why HIS individual experience might have been different. That’s the liberal way.

Now about the other people: People have been showing up at town halls and letting their members of Congress, often Republicans, hear from them. Democracy in action, right? Uh..

no…

That’s pathetic, Mr. President.

Weather and workouts

Was it warm today, by “February in Illinois” standards. Evidently, we aren’t alone. We are having “April/May” stuff right now.

I took advantage to walk a hilly 5K at 14:27 mpm (Bradley Hill course). That was after weights:

rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, good), bench press (dumbbell) 10 x 70, 10 x 75, incline press: 10 x 135 (hips planted), military press: 10 x 50, 45, 40 (dumbbell), machine rows (10 x 110, 3 sets).
abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

lots of free squats; then 5 x 45, 4 sets of 5 x 50 dumbbell goblet, 10 x 230 leg press. Butt is getting stronger.

Right shoulder: slightly sore; back; ache came back briefly while lying down.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | health care, political/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Is this storm here to stay?

1979:  The Great Red Spot, in the region of Jupiter which extends from the equator to the southern polar latitudes, as seen by the space probe Voyager 2.  (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

1979: The Great Red Spot, in the region of Jupiter which extends from the equator to the southern polar latitudes, as seen by the space probe Voyager 2. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

I know when there is a rainstorm, I think: “it can’t last forever”. Well, here is Jupiter’s “Red Spot”. It has been observed for 187 years and was thought to have been observed 350 years ago. Yeah, in terms of astronomical time scales, that is perhaps a nano-second. But it is a long time for a human.

And so I come to something that has been on my mind a LOT lately: our new “so-called” president.

Yes, in my bubble, Trump is an unmitigated disaster, headed for either impeachment, removal via the 25’th Amendment, or destined to resign because he wants to take his ball and go home.

Ah, I’d love that. But I really do not see that happening.

Yes, Trump’s numbers are at historic lows for someone this early into his administration. (40 percent by the Gallup). But he is at 86 percent among Republicans. And the reality is that many (most) who voted for Trump simply do not care about the things that we care about.

Now, I disagree with some of what is in this Isaac Simpson blog post, but there are some good observations here:

Here’s a fact you that might surprise you: most Trump voters do not care if he collaborated with Russia to take down Clinton. If that was what was necessary to destroy Washington, then it was worth it. Trumpians, many of whom have had their lives destroyed by Wall Street and by an establishment that, fairly or not, they connect directly to the MSM, are so angry that they’ve entered means-to-an-end mode.
To put yourself in the mind of a Trump voter, a good analog would be if a country known for meddling in American politics, let’s say Israel, had hacked the RNC on Hillary’s behalf, then exposed some corruption-containing RNC emails to the public. These emails were then used to defeat Trump. As a Hillary supporter, would you care? Would you really call for Hillary’s head?
The point is, if you think Trump supporters are going to be like Nixon supporters and lose faith in their candidate if it’s proven that he acted nefariously, think again. They won’t care. They’ll interpret a Trump impeachment as a nothing but a usurpation.

And many have lost trust in the mainstream media:

In Trump’s case, you have a paradigmatically anti-establishment candidate versus a powerful and brazenly biased media known to be as corrupt as the politicians it covers. The New York Times has admitted that it ignored Trump supporters during the election, and has essentially acknowledged its own bias. The people funneling money into politics are often the same ones who own the media companies that are doing the reporting, i.e. George Soros. It’s not a stretch to believe that MSM was so threatened by Trump that it spent tens of millions of dollars trying to find a way, any way, to take him down. By being outwardly hostile to the MSM, Trump, the ultimate outsider, baited them into this battle. If the MSM takes down Trump, it’s hard to see it as anything besides Goliath defeating David. And, no matter what the facts are, it will be Goliath defeating David in the mind of the Trump voter.

As incredulous as it sounds to me (and to most of my friends), Trumpkins view Trump as “David” rather than Goliath! (wrap your head around that one).

And Trump supporters really do think that he is doing a great job and simply do not understand what the problem is.

But less than one month into Trump’s term, many of his supporters say they once again feel under attack — perhaps even more so than before.

Those who journeyed to Trump’s Saturday evening event on Florida’s Space Coast said that since the election, they have unfriended some of their liberal relatives or friends on Facebook. They don’t understand why major media outlets don’t see the same successful administration they have been cheering on. And they’re increasingly frustrated that Democrats — and some Republicans — are too slow to approve some of the president’s nominees and too quick to protest his every utterance.

“They’re stonewalling everything that he’s doing because they’re just being babies about it,” said Patricia Melani, 56, a Jersey native who now lives here and attended her third Trump rally Saturday. “All the loudmouths? They need to let it go. Let it go. Shut their mouths and let the man do what he’s got to do. We all shut our mouths when Obama got in the second time around, okay? So that’s what really needs to be done.”

And hey, things have changed.

At last night’s Peoria Democrats Presidents Day Dinner, I hung out with a lot of like minded friends, and was shocked to learn that Trump carried MY OWN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT (IL-17); one that Cheri Bustos won easily. Yep, it is true: Trump won 47.4-46.7 in a district that Obama carried by 17 points.

Bustos warned that Democrats appeared to be indifferent to those affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs; not showing up in areas hit by factory closings and the like. She noted that she was the only Midwestern Democrat on her committee.

Now of course, I do not approve of lying about those lost manufacturing and good paying blue collar jobs; they are NOT coming back (example). And there is a reason that liberals migrate to the coasts; I sure wish I could too! Hell, I was at a Democratic dinner, and it was opened with a highly sectarian prayer (FATHER GOD, “In Jesus Name”)…it seemed like an Onion parody of the Bible beaters.

So, that is my gripe. My solution? From what I’ve read, right wing populists in Europe have been taken down by ordinary, hum-drum politics. Oh, we won’t win that 40 percent the consistently approves of Trump. Forget about that. But by holding President Trump accountable for the outcomes of his policies, we might just pick off enough of the “mushy middle” to win it back in 2020.

Yeah, screaming about Trump’s noxious personality and his social sins might feel good to us, and while that won’t actually help Trump, it won’t win the election for us. The professional politicians have their work cut out for them.

Upshot: I’ll continue to vent with my friends, but I also realize that my venting, while being a nice stress release, is NOT part of the hard work of winning the next election. I have to ask myself: do I REALLY want to do more political walk routes in “broken sidewalk” neighborhoods? (If you are a Democrat, you will always do walk routes in the poorest neighborhoods…it would be nicer to be a Republican!) I did these from 2004-2012 and I have NOT done it since…hmmm…

Oh well, the gym and academic work calls…

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Cheri Bustos, Democrats, IL-17, political/social, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Hurting the feeeeelings of Trump supporters…

Yes, I want my professional politicians to take pains to be civil to all of their constituents, including those that did not vote for them. Yes, our current President does NOT do this; he sets the worst example I’ve seen in a senior political leader.

But not I am seeing “are liberals helping Trump” type statements and these arguments are being taken seriously by those I respect. It seems to go something like this: “well, a small percentage of those who voted for Trump are having second thoughts but the liberal meanies are keeping them in the Trump camp”.

And a small percentage it is, as 87 percent of Republicans approve of his job performance (Gallup, as of 19 February).

So, is there evidence that liberal snarkiness toward Trump supporters is hurting? I do not see it. Think of it this way: did the open white hot hatred that many conservatives displayed toward Obama and his supporters hurt them?

Now before you say “yes but”: yes, I agree that most Trump supporters are NOT evil, stupid people. I do think that many simply didn’t know any better and that some simply voted for the tax cuts, thinking all of the incompetence and corruption would not matter that much.

Some, I think, are gullible (hint: coal and big time manufacturing are NOT coming back).

In any event, my problem with Trump is his deportment, his thoughtlessly saying false stuff, and frankly his apparent incompetence for this type of job (and apparent violation of the “you can’t profit off of your office” rule in the Constitution. Policy: well, the Republicans won; my ideas lost. That happens..we should have run a better campaign.

But I am not going to tell my friends that they should act like political operatives 24/7…not that it would do any good.

Sure, writing or saying “If you voted for Trump, you are evil and I hate you” isn’t going to change any minds but, well, most of us are not politicians nor ambassadors.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

The real reason the Republican Congress will continue to support Trump

Let’s be blunt: this is all it really is:

Oh yes, I saw parts of the train wreck that passed for the President Trump press conference.

And yes, I’d like to get back to arguing with Republicans about things like policy; right now we are arguing about following the rule of law and about basic competence. And yes, while past presidents have told an occasional whopper, fibbed, etc., what President Trump is doing is highly unusual. For example, who in the hell lies about having “the greatest Electoral College victor since President Reagan? Hint: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton (twice) and Barack Obama (twice) had larger Electoral College Victories.

But, for now, the Republicans think that they can get what they want, though maybe Trump’s incompetence may slow down, and perhaps even stall the more noxious parts of the Republican agenda.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

We see the Trump disaster…but do “they”? (hint: probably not)

Ok, Trump’s National Security adviser resigned under fire. But Trump knew for “weeks” that he had lied about the Russia calls. And this appears to be par for the course for this utterly incompetent administration.

Trump should have known this sort of thing would have been a problem BEFORE he nominated Flynn.

But don’t expect Congress to act anytime soon; remember that Trump remains popular among Republicans. And don’t expect that to change soon…if ever. For one, Trump supporters aren’t seeing the same news that you are. This is the bullshit that they are seeing:

obamasfault

And forget trying to confront Republicans on hypocrisy. Sure, Trump is playing more golf, taking more vacations and signing more executive orders than Obama ever did (in such a short period of time)..and you don’t hear much about the national debt and deficits do you? The upshot: they hated Obama (my guess: he was a well spoken, educated black guy who didn’t pretend to be all “aw shucks” and used college professor level diction.)

On the other hand Trump is what they would be were they born into money.

I think that our best hope is for corporate America to grow weary and fearful of Trump; THEY can take him down by influencing Congress to act.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Ok, how to oppose Trump?

I am a bit perplexed. Sure, the people that I associate with mostly hate Trump, though I guess that I might have a friend or two that may have voted for him. With those: I just don’t bring it up; it is possible for me to have enough values in common but have different opinions on how to reach those values.

And unlike many of my friends, my biggest beefs with Trump is that I value proven competence and that I expect a certain deportment from the POTUS. He has shown me neither nor given me any hope that I’ll see any.
So when I say “stop Trump” I mean, well, the man himself. Yes, I don’t like most Republican policies, but I am willing to have a debate about those and I admit that, under the current rules, the Republicans won enough elections at just about every level, so they get to govern.

What I want is a stable, informed, principled Republican. We do not have that.

But, don’t count on Congress; after all, they go by what their constituents want and the Republicans like what they see. And because of several factors, including:

1. 2 Senators per state, no matter how sparsely populated
2. Geographic distribution of Congressional seats..and Democrats tend to live in tight clusters
3. Gerrymandering of US House districts

Conservative, rural people are grossly over represented in Congress. There is no getting around that. So national unpopularity of Trump means little.

So, what can we do?

The bottom line: Democrats and liberals are a minority in the US; we need allies. And yes, that means making friends with some whose values differ from ours, at least in some areas:

ut most left-wing leaders chose the second path. In the years between 1935 and 1945, they quietly began recruiting conservatives to build an anti-Hitler coalition and plan for the post-Nazi order. To achieve that goal, however, they needed to develop ideas and craft policies that would attract religious Germans.

This required some painful ideological compromises. Many left-wing leaders gave up their struggle against religion in public schools and abandoned their previous goal of socializing key industries. The more radical left criticized them as betraying the socialist cause. But after Hitler’s demise and the end of World War II, their decisions helped to provide a stable foundation for what became known as West Germany, and ultimately today’s reunified Germany, which by most measures is one of the least politically polarized societies in the world.

Meanwhile, the left-wing resisters who refused to compromise with conservatives found themselves isolated and dependent on support from the Soviet Union, whose leaders proved just as ideologically intransigent. These were the men and women who ended up founding East Germany, a state that survived only as long as communist Russia remained economically viable.

The current American situation is not identical to the German case. But Trump’s ascendancy is a symptom of societal crisis, just as Hitler’s was in Germany. At least since the 1980s and the entry of a religious right into politics, there has been polarization over the question of the country’s bedrock values. And for the past eight years, Republicans — establishment politicians and the tea party insurgents who brought them to heel — have run a successful campaign of “no compromise” with the left. Living in North Carolina, the so-called belly of the beast, I have seen how many on the right speak about liberals as enemies (and vice versa). They embrace Trump despite their skepticism because they think he can finally push through their agenda with no left-wing interference.

Liberals could emulate the pragmatic wing of the anti-Nazi resistance by appealing to conservatives. But this would require something more agonizing than normal bipartisan compromises. It would mean finding common ground on the very social issues that have riven politics for the past three or four decades.

Liberals might have to alter, or at least sideline, some of their most prized platforms on abortion or secularism in the public sphere. Conservatives might need to consider welfare policy proposals they have long condemned, such as single-payer health care. Compromise on that profound level seems almost impossible at the moment. But Trump’s threat to the republic grows in proportion to the widening ideological fissure between left and right. As the German example shows, bridging the worldviews of former enemies may be the only way to avoid the abyss.

Actions against Trump might include protests, but these protests should be effective. Protests which involve people who just run around and break things play right into Trump’s hands (“see? You need LAW and ORDER”)

Doing things like blocking highways is just idiotic; all that does is anger people …AT THE WRONG TARGET.

Targeted protests with a well defined message which are conducted peacefully (e. g. the Women’s Marches were a great example of this) could well be inclusive. I might even join in.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

I’ve never seen anything like President Trump but…

It is weird. On one hand, I see President Trump as being a disaster. But, at least for NOW, my personal life is going well…for NOW…there are potential land mines ahead. But enough about that.

I work in education (mathematics) and Trump is a potential distaster at many levels. His nominee for Secretary of Education doesn’t even know the basics:

and yet is likely to be confirmed. I sure hope that the Democrats are united in opposing her, though if it looks like she will win anyway, I can see giving a few red state Senators a pass for local political reasons.

Higher education will not be spared; a creationist is being appointed to lead a task force in higher education.

And do not think that our lead in science/engineering/mathematics research is a “given” either; remember that in the 1930’s, Germany lead the world. They ran many of their top people out and the US took command.

Even worse, Trump appears to have no grasp of reality. He thinks that Islamic terrorism is being under reported and provided the media with a list of 78 “under reported” events…(and yes, the list had egregious misspellings in it, including of the word “attacker” in places!”

And just read some of President Trump’s tweets: do these sound presidential to you?

As someone pointed out, Trump is like a “boy’s idea of a man”. Oh sure, there are times when I have fantasies about being well off enough to tell anyone to “f*ck off” without having to worry about the consequences, but I realize that my having those fantasies are the result of my incomplete growth as a mature human being; it is my goal to get to the point where I don’t have those thoughts. I certainly do not admire someone who acts that way…especially the President of the United States.

What to do about it:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/how-to-beat-trump/515736/

February 7, 2017 Posted by | education, political/social, politics, politics/social, science, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Expect to see more misspelled signs from liberals. And that is good!

Yes, I know…I laughed hysterically at the misspelled Tea Party protest signs. I wasn’t laughing so much after the 2010, 2014 and 2016 elections though.

Now we are seeing liberals taking to the protest in larger numbers. And as the number of people that join a group increases, the more that the statistics of that subgroup resemble the statistics of the larger group (i. e.: all Americans). And so we see things like this (at a protest in Peoria, IL..in this case “Darin” refers to Darin LaHood, IL-18.

resisttyrany

So I suppose the Republicans can now laugh. But that is what happens when a movement grows.

February 4, 2017 Posted by | IL-18, political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | Leave a comment

This keeps getting worse…and don’t expect Congress to step up anytime soon

Sally Yates was the holdover Attorney General..acting Attorney General. She was fired by President Trump for not enforcing his executive order. Yes, Trump actually used the word “betrayed” in his statement. Really.

And please spare me the “Obama did something similar”. He suspended the Bush era NSEERS program and Obama’s tweak in 2011 was not the same as what Trump is attempting to do right now.

I don’t know how long this will last, but something is going to come to a head.

I really don’t expect much from Congress either; my guess is all of this stuff really isn’t all that important to Speaker Ryan right now. He is probably champing at the bit to get his “tax cuts for the wealthy” along with his “privatize Medicare” program up and running.

January 31, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

Elections matter: our post competence government.

My goodness, I started this blog post in the early morning (rounded up articles) and stuff has already changed.

First of all: what does President Trump want to do? (in terms of the big picture) I do not think that he is serious about the national debt. He mentioned eliminating funding for the arts, PBS and the like. Here is a Neil Degrasse Tyson tweet from 2012 (when Gov. Romney wanted to eliminate funding for PBS)

But it really isn’t about the national debt. It is more about tone; “Make America Great Again” means deemphasizing the international and the intellectual for, well, COMMON SENSE. So it is no surprise that anything to do with science is being attacked. So government agencies like the EPA are being ordered to not communicate science to the public (in terms of official agency statements unless it has been cleared by the political arm first. Yes, their scientists can still publish in peer reviewed journals and the like; the policy is better explained here. And NASA has decided to make its sponsored research free to the public.

Still, what a mess.

President Trump seems to be pressing ahead with his ridiculous claims that 3-5 million people voted illegally. The House Oversight Committee Chair doesn’t see evidence of that and neither do state level officials. Of course, President Trump refuses to back down and refuses to acknowledge that something like “being registered in two different states” really doesn’t mean “voted twice”; people move and voter rolls sometimes do not get updated.

And there is this whole “Mexican Wall” thing. Yes, the meeting between the heads of state (US and Mexico) have been cancelled; Trump floated a 20 percent “border tax” and has since walked it back. It does not appear that Trump is getting the best advice from his professionals.

And yet, do not expect this to mean much to the strongest Trump supporters; they have trouble reconciling that they see with their own eyes if it is not favorable to Trump. Here is such an experiment.

January 27, 2017 Posted by | economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment