blueollie

No Sarah Palins but…

No, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not the “Sarah Palin of the left”. Sarah Palin was a sitting governor (almost served a full term) and was the GOP nominee for VP in 2008.

Ocasio-Cortez won a PRIMARY election in a Congressional District that few have heard of until relatively recently. I am not going to say that she has deep policy knowledge; she doesn’t. I don’t know if she will grow into a seasoned politician or not. I do not know if she has the underlying humility to realize that she needs to learn more about many things. But for right now, she is someone to keep an eye on, nothing more.

From video that I’ve seen of her, she seems to have some political talent. What that will eventually translate to is anyone’s guess.

Georgia Governor This race is very tight; the two polls I’ve seen: one has a 2 point lead for Kemp and the other has a 2 point lead for Abrams. Real Clear Politics calls it a “toss up”.

This surprises me for a couple of reasons: 1. Georgia is a Republican state that even Obama couldn’t carry (though he did well) and, well, the optics do not look good to me:

1. She is deeply in personal debt.

2. Optics:

A post shared by Cheri Bustos (@cheribustos) on

Ironically, this comes from Cheri Bustos’ Instagram site, and if anything, Bustos is the “fitness model” Congresswoman (see below if you are unfamiliar)

BUT…perhaps obesity and being in debt is what many people in Georgia can relate to? Yeah, I remember that Christ Christy is obese..(not in debt, at least to my knowledge) but the sad fact (I think) is that physical appearance matters more for females than males.

We shall see..perhaps I am seeing this through my own warped prism.

August 14, 2018

Uniting with those you do not like: 2018 midterms

Ok, I have no political science credentials. But at least lately, it seems that we are in the following cycle: Republicans govern (or attempt to). Republicans crash the economy (or at least make things worse). People get disgusted. They vote the Democrats in. Things get better but a combination of Democratic infighting and the Democrats championing unpopular stuff gets them voted out of power and the Republicans take over again, only to run things into the ground, again.

I’ll talk about the Democrats championing unpopular causes at another time (but IMHO, this is a combination of the Ant and the Grasshopper and “Beggars can’t be choosers” in action)

But right now I will just say this: I find my fellow Democrats to be very annoying. For one, we are as prone to “argue by slogan” as anyone else. For example, take the current debate as to whether to keep Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the House Democrats.

As I see it, there are many pros and cons: she is a good fundraiser and she has had some great accomplishments (e. g. getting the ACA through the House). On the other hand, the House Democrats have steadily lost seats and many feel that her time is past. And it is clear that the GOP thinks that she is a good thing to run against in the red Congressional Districts that are closely contested.

You’d think that this is worthy of debate, right? Well, no..not for some:

You see: it is all misogyny. (eyeroll).

Never mind that many Democrats who don’t want Pelosi would be happy with another female. Now if you want to talk about ageism…maybe that could be PART of it.

But in the upcoming midterms, none of this really matters. If you oppose Trump, vote for the Democrat, period. Opposing Trump IS enough (and yes, one Jill Stein backing idiot tried to tell me it wasn’t enough).

August 10, 2018

Random thoughts (all over the map)

I am nearing the end of summer break and am going over the diagrams for a paper that I’ll be submitting in 3 week’s time. This means: finishing research, starting on my next project, preparing for class, taking a look at search committee stuff, etc.

Though I have been paying attention to politics, I find much of the discussion to be depressing.

On one hand, the Republicans have gotten their people, including those conservatives that do not like Trump, to trust only conservative media sources (e. g., Fox News). So many really believe, say, that Trump is doing better than any past POTUS over the past 40 years (in terms of GDP growth) ..and this is based on, well, one strong quarter of growth being extrapolated. Of course, the growth might well have been due to businesses preparing for the trade wars and a one-time bump.

But try getting them to even read a graph, much less accept that it is a true one.

But being “sure” is not limited to “their team.” I know that issues are complicated and have many facets to them. Nevertheless, so many, including those who vote the way that I do, are just so “SURE” of things.
When one wants to “speak the truth” one has to actually KNOW “the truth” and few are experts on ANYTHING much less experts on everything.

I just find it astonishing that I have so many doubts about things that I’ve thought hard about, and so many others appear to have no doubts at all.

Sports: I still am in “baseball” mode but I just made my annual purchase of football magazines. I’ll be coming up with predictions soon and, of course, I plan to make a few games. I have season tickets for Illinois but hope to make a few Illinois State games, and perhaps a couple of Bears and 3-4 Colts games.

I did read about Texas football getting ready to make a 175 million dollar renovation to their football stadium. Yes, no tuition funds or tax payer funds will be used..and yes, the University of Texas has that kind of fund raising power. This means that, well…the kind of win/loss records we have seen over the past 5 years is unacceptable: 8-5, 6-7, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 = 31-32. Contrast that with, say, Iowa: 8-5, 7-6, 12-2, 8-5, 8-5 = 43-23.

But doesn’t Texas have more money, a bigger stadium, bigger following and bigger drawing power than Iowa? Well, it might just be that the money might actually be counter productive at times. After all, big donors EXPECT to have some say in the program right? But said donors don’t necessarily know all that much about football. Big money can be a two edged sword.

Well, more on football later.

And there is still quite a bit of baseball to play and, who knows..perhaps some Cornbelter playoff ball too?

Workout notes: weights then 5 miles of walking.

weights: 15-15-10-10 pull ups, incline: 10 x 135, 6 x 150, decline: 6 x 170, military (standing dumbbell) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, Hammer machine: 10 x 140, rows: dumbbell: 2 sets of 10 x 50, 10 x 110 machine. Then the walk: 5K on the track 1 easy (13:36, 13:01, 12:15 (38:52), 40:41 for 25 laps.The faster miles were 1 on, 1 off, but the last 2 laps of mile 3 were done hard. Then 2 more outside.

Later: yoga, got 2:15 of plank before class. Did abs; this was one of Vickie’s harder routines.

August 9, 2018

Yes, many on the left wing deserve contempt. But that is not a reason to support Trump.

Let me make this clear: this is not one of those “white men are victims” posts. I honestly believe that racism’s primary effect is against “people of color”; in particular, black people. As Chris Rock says “none of you (white men) would trade places with me, and I am rich!”

Yes, issues of race, class and sex/gender in society should be discussed and honestly debated..and honesty does NOT mean “immediately accept what comes out of the mouth of a liberal”. Yes, some who think that they are arguing against racism or sexism or religious prejudice make stupid statements, get facts wrong, get on high horses and..some are walking, talking examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Having a moral or ethical goal does not make you neither informed, smart nor does it make your arguments correct.

I remember something that happened in a faculty gathering many years ago. One of our women’s studies professors was talking about moving and made a somewhat anti-male joke (something about an activity elevating their testosterone thereby giving them negative male traits) and I joked “oh, so you became more logical and accountable too?” That did not sit well with her..she tried to explain to me that, as a woman, her “invoking male stereotype joke” was, well..strength..sort of a truth to power thing. I responded something to the effect “save that bullshit for your impressionable undergraduates”.

I noticed later that the department sponsored some, well, I think, very ill conceived posters. I even complained about one of them to her. She was skeptical. So, to her credit she asked some students for their opinions..and she was shocked that the students saw them the way that they did. All her posters did was to alienate potential allies.

And yes, I’ve been wrong about how things would be taken; I do NOT claim a perfect track record. In fact, I’ve had my own bad ideas challenged and ..yes, changed by intellectual honest colleagues.

IMHO, we ALL have bad ideas from time to time.

But, as I said, that was years ago. These days, all too often, dumb and sometimes prejudicial behavior is tolerated if it comes from someone from a “victim class”. Here is an example of that.

And I think that this is on point:

In my opinion, this issue really reared its ugly head in 2016. The Republicans elected someone who ran, in part, on a platform to “oppose political correctness”..this was from the FIRST political debate of the 2016 election season (from August 2015)

Of course, this blew up in our faces (ok, one of many, many, many factors)

All too often I’ve heard those who voted the same way that I did respond with a cry of “that is racist”, “that is sexist”, “that is misogynistic”, “that is islamophobic”, etc. as if it were some sort of trump card that would end the argument in their favor. And surprise, surprise, the USA is not a liberal arts department; the voters are not humanities professors.

And so the Trump voters decided to give us the finger.

And hey, I get it. My “blocked list” consists mostly of stupid, sanctimonious liberals; I don’t like them any better than you do. And I get it: some safety net programs benefit at least a (statistically) few horribly irresponsible people, and yes, many of my friends (include some that I haven’t blocked) will go through hilarious gymnastics to avoid criticizing.

So to you who are disgusted by Trump’s arrogance and incompetence but loathe us liberals: yes, many of us are unpleasant people. I don’t want to associate with them either. But reelecting an incompetent is NOT the solution. By all means: make fun of me and my Prius. Avoid socializing with me. But please…if you want to back a conservative, back a competent one. But the current POTUS is doing damage to our country.

August 4, 2018

Yes, the 2018 midterms come first. What will happen?

But there are some serious obstacles to overcome in 2020:

1. Trump is at 90 percent among Republicans…and Republicans vote. Democrats often don’t vote.

2. Republicans are better at focusing on what is important to them. Money Republicans get their tax cuts, deregulation and SCOTUS picks. Deplorables get someone who punches people they do not like.

On the other hand…Democrats are awful. Disqualifying sins: maybe thinking that “hey, single payer is great, but we have no shot at it now”..or for saying that “person X failed because of their actions and not because society discriminated against them”..or because they have too few “blind left handed transgender pagan lesbians of color” on their staff…or maybe 20 years ago brushed someone’s butt during a hug, etc.

3. Incumbents have an advantage. The lost in 1932, 1976, 1980 and 1992. They won in 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1956, 1964, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2004, 2012. That is 11-4.

4. The EC puts Democrats at a disadvantage. Since 1992, D’s have won the popular vote in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012, 2016 (6 of the last 7) but won the EC only 4 times. Rural states have disproportionate power.

Random gripes, quips and inconsequential observations

1. I ran fairly hard on the treadmill. How hard? When I walked a cool-down mile on the indoor track, I could see a trail of sweat drops from my previous laps.

2. I hate it when I see something I want a photo of…but when I get out my phone, I find that I had it turned off. By the time it switches on (searches for signals, etc.), the potential object has left. Over the past few days, I missed a genuine albino squirrel and a chance to troll my yoga teacher with a butt shot.

3. Sometimes I’ll see a selfie posted on social media and think..OMG, they look terrible..not like I remembered them. Then I realize that they are either an age peer..or someone younger than I am.

4. When discussing my change of workout cycles, I found myself saying “I am not 45 years old anymore”. Then I realized that 45 is actually old, in terms of sports.

5. I am typing this because I am avoiding work on a paper..this is the dreadful “proofing” phase.

6. It is humbling to realize that I’ll never be as good as my graduate school advisor. Then again, he got that position because, well, he is out-of-this-world good. Put another way, if you are reading this, you are probably not “major league talent” (with $p = 10^{-3}$ or so).

7. A meme asked if I’d like to “know what I now know” back when I was 10. If that meant, say, being able to foresee which stocks grew and which ones flopped, sure. But if it meant “wisdom” then…HELL NO! I’d rather that my dreams of being truly special not get crushed that early and glad that I really didn’t understand the concept of an “outlier.”

8. Success, the vast majority of the time, requires both intense hard work AND extreme luck. The luck part comes with avoiding terrible things (e. g. horrible diseases or accidents) and being in the right place at the right time. Example: consider Larry Bird. Obviously he is an excellent athlete that worked his butt off. But if he were born, say, 100 years earlier, he would have been, at best, moderately successful at something that most of us would have never heard of. He was fortunate to be born at a time when athletic ability could mean fame and fortune.

Or take Steven Hawking. 200-300 years earlier, he would have died an early death and not been remembered. Even healthy geniuses of today may well have been people of less than average value in the world of 5000-10,000 years ago. They were fortunate enough to be born at a time when their abilities could be nurtured into something special.

9. I had dreamed of being an athlete. During the summer of 1969 I tried out for baseball teams (Little League) both “major” and “minor” league. No team wanted me. BUT I received an unsolicited invitation to a summer math camp (based on teacher recommendations). Think that there was a message there?

10. I think that social media has made tribalism worse. We tend to pick a side and defend people within that side, regardless of whether they are worthy of defending or not. On the other hand, we are expected to swallow criticism of the villains from the other side, whether justified or not. This pressures those who “love the truth.”

11. Books: I like the scholarly ones that attempt to seek “what is true”. Those that are really advocating some previously held point of view irritate me. IMHO, true scholarship seeks out truth, where ever it is. Advocacy seeks to persuade, in much the same way a good lawyer seeks to persuade a jury. A scholar really has to play both..er…many sides and attempt to blow up the current hypothesis. Yes, a scholar does have to have some base assumptions, but those should be clearly understood from the start (e. g. naturalism, laws of gravity, laws of logic, “Axiom of Choice”, etc.)

12. My high tech workout shirts really do reek after I’ve sweated in them a bit.

13. In baseball, an “out is an out”, be it a strike out or a fly that is caught on the warning track (assuming there is no one on base to advance). But I always felt worse after a strike out.

14. When I am watching a baseball game and the pitcher is on, I often find myself being glad that I was not in the batter’s box!

15. My strongest memories of football: wiffing on blocks and on tackles. Gads, I sucked.

16. Whoever said “you can be anything you want to be provided you try hard enough” should be tarred and feathered.

17. Everyone should be treated fairly, including those I do not like.

Ah, time to end this silliness.

July 24, 2018

What might stop Trump in 2020:

Trump might not get reelected if …he angers Putin. 🙂

That is really sad, isn’t it? But the reality is that our Electoral College grotesquely over-represents rural Americans AND..couple that with the fact that too many Democrats will not vote, especially in mid-term elections (2018)

Seriously, it seems as if my party is the party of losers and the other party is the party is a confederation of the amoral wealthy and the delusional…but the other party shows up to vote.

WTF?

Lifted weights yesterday (usual..highlights were 2 sets of 5-5-5-5 and 1 set of 10 pull ups, 4 x 185 bench, 8 x 170 bench, 7 x 170 decline) and got on the road to Western Kentucky University.

A post shared by Ollie Nanyes (@ollienanyes) on

That saved me from listening to Trump with Putin in Finland…and this is extraordinary:

US President Donald Trump, in a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community, declined on Monday to endorse the US government’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying he doesn’t “see any reason why” Russia would be responsible.

Instead, Trump — standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin — touted Putin’s vigorous denial and pivoted to complaining about the Democratic National Committee’s server and missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal account.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said during a joint news conference after he spent about two hours in a room alone with Putin, save for a pair of interpreters.
Trump’s statements amounted to an unprecedented refusal by a US president to believe his own intelligence agencies over the word of a foreign adversary and drew swift condemnation from across the partisan divide.
His words signaled that he continues to equate the assessment of Russian election meddling with efforts to deligitimize his election, even though the US intelligence community made no such assessment.

And earlier:

I suppose that this “blame America First” is fine with the Republicans so long as they get their deregulation, tax cuts and SCOTUS picks.

Oh, and there is this outlandish claim that is being put forward to distract the rubes.

July 17, 2018

There has to be a balance somewhere: Trump and Republicans

Trump has stayed steady at about 42 percent to 43 percent and at 88 percent among Republicans.

Reason: my guess is that many Republicans wanted the tax cuts, deregulation, high stock market prices and “good” Supreme Court picks. And rhetoric and tweets aside, Trump has delivered on those.

Oh, there is a substantial amount of white nationalism too and I believe the Democrats playing the X card (where X means race, sex, gender, sexual preference, etc.) is a fool’s errand for us.

I think that, too many times, we think “hey, we are morally right ergo we will WIN” and, well, it just doesn’t work that way.

I honestly don’t see the way out other than to turn out the vote in record numbers…so large that we overcome the inherent bias against us… a structural bias that favors rural conservatives.

2020? We’ll see how 2018 goes first. But I see nothing in the “list of 2020” candidates that gives me any hope at all.

July 16, 2018

Ok, what do I like about Trump?

As POTUS: nothing, really. Yes, the economy has not tanked..yet and so far, no major foreign policy crisis. There was Puerto Rico but sadly, that suffering was mostly shielded from the mainland in the way that the suffering in New Orleans was not.

But…well, to me, Trump is a bit like a termite infestation that gradually erodes the foundation and you won’t actually SEE the effects until the supports give way.

Fundamentally, I do think our country is strong enough to hold off the effects of this sort of incompetence for a while.

But..there are some side effects:

1. I think that the rest of the world got the wrong impression of the USA when Obama was president. Obama didn’t win because of his intelligence and grace (not entirely anyway); his charisma and showman skills did a lot to help. It also helped that he emerged quickly…sans much of the baggage that Hillary Clinton had (much of it, unfair).

2. Our country does have a “xenophobic” side. It has a low-class side. It has an anti-intellectual side. It has a side that dismisses genuine competence, especially when said competence clashes with “common sense”. Trump really brings these to the forefront.

3. So many on the left seem to think that screaming “I don’t like this…this needs to change” means that it will change. Oh, the right wing is very much like this too:

The language in these complaints—“I pay,” “I have every right,” “they are definitely not”—is quite illuminating. It indicates a belief on the part of these white people that they are the custodians of public space and can enlist the police to enforce its boundaries. The offenses committed by people of color are arbitrary and nearly limitless: waiting too long at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, having a barbecue on Lake Merritt in Oakland, playing a leisurely game of golf at a club in Pennsylvania, checking out of an Airbnb in Rialto, California. And once police officers get there, anything can happen, ranging from an arrest on charges of trespassing to the installation of a police perimeter and the arrival of a police helicopter.
To be sure, the belief that public space belongs exclusively to white people is not new, and this redlining has been inflicting trauma on people of color for a long time now. Whether it’s on the street, in a café, or at an airport, the visibility of people of color in public is tolerated only so long as it does not disturb the comfort of the dominant group. But the ubiquitous presence of smartphones with cameras has helped to document such incidents, and social media have brought them to national attention. That’s a useful development: The assertion of private authority over public space now comes with a social cost.

And yes, there is a left wing version of this too. If they declare that something is “offensive”, well, then it must be!

Now Trump comes along and says “I don’t care”. And those on the right cheer…

So, I suppose that I see Trump as some symptoms of the disease that resides in the United States, much like certain aches and pains in humans. This does not mean that the US is all bad; far from it. After all, we are a country that turns people away rather than tries to keep them in. But we have some real problems, I think.

July 15, 2018