blueollie

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

Education, public discourse and ideas…

Bonus: 538.com has an interesting ranking of the all time bets NBA teams. The discussion is interesting as well.

Press coverage: Paul Krugman attacks an attack on Elizabeth Warren:

Yesterday Politico posted a hit piece on Elizabeth Warren, alleging that she’s being hypocritical in her opposition to a key aspect of TPP, that’s interesting in several ways. First, it was clearly based on information supplied by someone close to or inside the Obama administration – another illustration of the poisonous effect the determination to sell TPP is having on the Obama team’s intellectual ethics. Second, the charge of hypocrisy was ludicrous nonsense – “You say you’re against allowing corporations to sue governments, yet you were a paid witness against a corporations suing the government!” Um, what?

And more generally, the whole affair is an illustration of the key role of sheer laziness in bad journalism.

Think about it: when is the charge of hypocrisy relevant? Basically, only when a public figure is preaching about individual behavior, and perhaps holding himself or herself up as a role model. So yes, it’s fair to go after someone who preaches morality but turns out to be a crook or a sexual predator. But articles alleging that someone’s personal choices are somehow hypocritical given their policy positions are almost always off point. Someone can declare that inequality is a problem while being personally rich; they’re calling for policy changes, not mass self-abnegation. Someone can declare our judicial system flawed while fighting cases as best they can within that system — until policy change happens, you have to live in the world as it is.

I see this attack on Hillary Clinton as being similar (the attack: she wants to overturn Citizens United, but still welcomes support from 527 groups). To me, this is like advocating for a rules change, but playing within the rules prior to said change. I am fine with either side doing it.

Education One secret is that most students really don’t want to be educated. They are fine when learning is painless but ultimately, they want the grades, credits and credentials:

Dear Students:

The collective attitude you have shown toward reading and writing during the past semester is neither new nor surprising. You are not well-suited to do either. To your credit, you hate ignorance, as I do. To your discredit, you really only hate being shown that you are ignorant, through encountering words and ideas that are foreign to you and your immediate experience. Rather than look them up and learn about them, as is moronically simple these days, you disdain them, and then complain that you do not understand them. This complaint is disingenuous because you show no interest in having them explained.

Rather, you want to be relieved of responsibility for knowing them, and for reading the works that contain them. In short, you do not want to be educated, or even to go through the motions of education. What you want is a degree, and if there existed a system of academic indulgences, you would gladly fork over four years tuition to receive one without having to waste time going to classes. For a little extra, you could get someone like me to drop by and, for about a half-hour, confirm your base prejudices, the ones you’ve gotten from television and the movies and video games and life in general. You have written about these prejudices incessantly: why brute force is an answer for everything, why the whole world, with its little invisible workers everywhere, has come together for your material and personal happiness, why you live in the greatest country in the history of the world, led by its greatest leader, why your ethnic group has undergone suffering that leaves you preeminent over us, who are all racists… I will not go on.

I have read your stories about anime characters, complete with super-deformed doodles, your tales of extraterrestrials and werewolves and vampires. It is interesting that your eyes turn to the supernatural world so often, since you have such an impoverished notion of this one. […]

Note: I don’t think that, in this regard, much has changed since the time I was in college as an undergraduate; we were that way also. It is more comfortable to rationalize what you already know.

Public discourse: I think that honest discussions such as this one are a good thing; note that both of these students have some serious misconceptions.

However I really don’t like the headline. This is why: (opinion to follow) all too many times, people come to honestly held opinions and are loudly shouted down as “bigots” when they express them.

Examples: many of us have indigent family members who are lazy, dumb and perpetual moochers. So, it is easy to extend what we see in our own lives to conclude that laziness and stupidity is what causes poverty.

We see inner city riots and see mostly blacks. So, given that we humans are hard wired to “reason” inductively, it is easy to conclude that there is something wrong with black people.

We read about people leaving the US to join ISIS. We come to conclusions…without realizing that we are reading about extreme outlier behavior!

The same thing applies to lottery winners; the winners make the paper; the far more common “didn’t win diddly squat” people do not (in fact you are more likely to die in a car crash while driving to buy a lottery ticket than you are to draw the winning number)

I’d like to see more honest discussion and less “shouting down”.

Attitudes don’t help either. All too often I’ve seen conservatives make their own opinion as the benchmark for what is moral and patriotic. All too often I’ve seen liberals make their opinion as to what is bigoted or misogynistic. And all too often those setting their own opinion as the standard are those who are very limited in intellect and lacking in anything resembling accomplishment. I think that too many are overconfident in their own judgement and unaware of what they may be missing.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | basketball, NBA, political/social, racism, social/political | Leave a comment

Pamela Geller on CNN: comes across well.

It is highly likely that I don’t agree with Pamela Geller on much of anything.

But on this video, she comes across as the far more reasonable of the two:

Now as far as what her lead speaker said: so what? True, I find all dogmatic religions to be rather…well ridiculous. Hey, by all means, get together and socialize and if you end up doing good works: WONDERFUL. Many religious groups do feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. And I admit that some (many?) places of worship challenge people to live a better life. That is great.

But as far as the supernatural mumbo-jumbo: whatever. I find nothing to respect in that aspect of faith. So for me, it is all Zeus vs. Thor.

Now as the video itself: Professor Jerry Coyne is right, IMHO. I encourage you to read what he has to say. Here is a bit of it:

But until now I’ve done what many of us do, which is to go with the tide of liberal opinion and simply accept what we hear about her (and others who are demonized) from vocal Leftists. They may well be correct in calling Geller an “Islamophobe”—that is, somebody who hates Muslims rather than just Islam—but I’d rather find out if that’s true from reading her statements rather than from listening to liberals who dislike her. After all, we’re supposed to be skeptics. The failure to exercise proper skepticism, for example, is what led liberals like Garry Trudeau into misguided denunciations of Charlie Hebdo. They simply didn’t do their homework. And when it comes to religion, especially Islam, it’s unwise to follow the tide of liberal opinion without due diligence. So I’m going to start at the beginning and say that although I don’t agree with Geller on some things, I’m not yet convinced that she hates individual Muslims rather than Islam and what its religious dictates portend for Western democracies.

And when it comes to saying “all good liberals ought to be for X or against Y”: in my opinion, we are every bit as bad as conservatives.

May 6, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics, religion, social/political | | Leave a comment

Poverty, Baltimore, disagreement, TPP, etc.

Baltimore protests and riots (which are different things)

The American Renaissance has a reputation as being a white supremacist site/publication. But some of what they say might appear to be merely “uncomfortable truth” that others are too polite or cowardly to say:

Discovers why blacks riot.
An article from yesterday’s New York Times about the relative calm in Baltimore stumbled by accident onto something like the real reason why blacks were rioting. Near the famous burned-out CVS–the city had begged the company to “invest” in a dodgy neighborhood–the Times reporter found someone it identified as “Robert Wilson, a college student who went to high school in Baltimore.” The article concludes with Mr. Wilson’s explanation of why blacks rioted. He said nothing about Freddie Gray or police brutality. Instead, he said this:

We’re just angry at the surroundings–like this is all that is given to us?–and we’re tired of this, like nobody wants to wake up and see broken-down buildings. They take away the community centers, they take away our fathers, and now we have traffic lights that don’t work, we have houses that are crumbling, falling down.

After the riots in Baltimore in 1968, whites panicked and sold their property at desperation prices. Now, these houses are “broken down” because blacks didn’t maintain them. This pattern of white flight and “broken down” houses was repeated in Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Washington, St. Louis, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Jacksonville, and countless other American cities. Some of the best city housing in the world was handed over to blacks who wrecked it. Neighborhoods filled with irreplaceable architecture are now wastelands.

Mr. Wilson complains that “we have houses that are crumbling, falling down.” The remedy for crumbling houses is for the people who live in them to fix them, but instead, Mr. Wilson asks, “Is this all that is given to us?”

This quote almost perfectly captures the black mentality that leads to rioting. Blacks live in neighborhoods that they, themselves, have wrecked, and then ask, “This is all that is given to us?”

Hard-working white people built the “broken-down” buildings Mr. Wilson is complaining about. Many had parquet floors, high ceilings, and fine moldings found today only in the most expensive new construction.

Like so many blacks, Mr. Wilson doesn’t realize how perverse it is even to think in terms of pleasant houses and neighborhoods being “given” to anyone. Does he imagine the white authorities “giving” nice neighborhoods to whites and cruelly handing out slums to blacks? They didn’t start out as slums. Whites saved and worked hard to build those neighborhoods. They maintained them, repaired them, and loved them.

But in today’s world of welfare, food stamps, government housing, and white guilt, Mr. Wilson doesn’t know any better than to ask for handouts.

Ok. Yes, it is true: those houses were once nice houses and now they aren’t; they weren’t kept up and yes, blacks were living in them when they went downhill.

But that is, at best, incomplete information.

For one: if these houses were rented (as they surely were), who is responsible for the major upkeep? Yes..the landlord. Who actually OWNED those houses?
And as far as the poor blacks that moved in: what we really had was well paying blue collar jobs leaving. Remember that higher education was less accessible to the poor, especially the black poor. They weren’t in a position to follow the paths of the well paying jobs.

Now as far as social pathology: yes, it is there. But the best evidence is that the dearth of employment opportunities and poverty come first; the social pathology follows. It is time to act economically. And yes, our poverty reduction measures have worked better than some claim.

TPP: Yes, much of this is about intellectual property and though this is not likely to be a disaster, Paul Krugman wonders why President Obama is spending political capital on this.

Robert Reich is a more passionate critic.

Me: sort of on the fence; I tend to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt based on how his other programs have worked out or are working out.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, poverty, racism, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

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