One last time…while it still gives me joy…

I’ve always loved this piece. Today, I still do.

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

The War on Competence

Our university basketball team is struggling; it is in the second year of a “top to bottom” rebuilding project. And of course, every fan has an opinion as to what the coach should be doing.
But how many are capable of doing a credible job of coaching college basketball?

Sure, that is harmless; part of being a fan is discussing “your team”.

At the professional level, there is, on occasion, a time when an owner becomes involved in the actual running of the team; Jerry Jones is probably one of the best known examples of that. Sure, Mr. Jones did play for the University of Arkansas. But when the owner interferes with the coach, well, it usually doesn’t go well.

Again, that is sports.

But tomorrow, this country will inaugurate a rank amateur into the Presidency, and some of his picks are just abysmal. This is a 180 degree turn from the previous administration, where competency was valued above all else.

But our incoming President, well, reflects his supporters. Let’s just say that I’ve never, ever had so little confidence in an incoming president.

And I’ve never been more ashamed of my country and of 62 million of my fellow citizens. Yes, our country committed some serious sins. But this is just downright embarrassing, and sadly, embarrassment might be the least of our troubles. This is indeed an ominous time in our history.

The party in power is the party of crass ignorance and vulgarity, and the incoming President represents these people well.


I will miss President Obama dearly. A comparison of the approval ratings of the previous 2 term presidents can be found here.


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

What’s the deal with the ACA Repeal?

The House followed the Senate and set it up so that most of the ACA could be repealed via “reconciliation rules”, which require only a majority vote in the Senate.

This is really just step 1 of the repeal process. Now a bill has to be written up (negotiated, etc.) and then signed into law. And the “replace” part IS subject to filibuster rules. Here is a handy guide as to the steps which must be taken.

Not everything is going away via a “repeal law” passed by reconciliation; here is a discussion as to what might be one and what might be kept.

I feel terrible for those who didn’t vote Trump who will be hurting because of this. But to those who voted for Trump and are now worried? I have no sympathy at all. But many who voted for Clinton will be terribly hurt and this is why I am going to lobby my members of Congress to fight.

We never learn, do we? You vote to spite others (as many Trump voters did), you get bitten by your choice.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

These Republican/Trump political developments depress me …in a way I haven’t been before…

Yes, I do know that “elections have consequences”. So when you lose an election (in part, due to one’s party going downhill), there will be stuff that I do not like. Example: the Senate just made it easier to repeal Obamacare…the “repeal” part can now proceed via “reconciliation rules” which means it is immune to a filibuster. But the “replace” part can still be filibustered.

I get that, though I am annoyed that the Senate, by design, gives way too much power to rural, small states.

But there is more going on here. Evidently the usual rules of decorum and conduct do not appear to apply to this “president elect” and the Republicans in Congress will not put a stop to it, since they can now get what they want. Forget about outcry coming from Trump supporters; these people just think it is all “media lies” anyway. And so I’ve grown to despise so-called “Real America” though I realize that a successful presidential candidate has to be able to win at least a few of these voters.

And Trump is getting away with it because, well, the “scandal stories” are just like a tidal wave; it is hard to dig deep into just one.

January 12, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | | 1 Comment

Not the Republicans I grew up with…

Well, in 2017, a new President of the United States will be sworn in, and not the one that I had expected.

I am having a hard time processing this election; in some ways, the result is one that perhaps we’ve been trending toward in a long time. Gone is the articulate, well spoken, intellectual and enter the “fly by the seat of his pants” “rough spoken” rabid so-called “populist” who lives…here?


And that brings me to the subject of my post: this is not your old time “Republicans vs. Democrats” any longer.

When I was young, the Republicans were regarded as people who were proud of their educations and people who insisted on proper public deportment. Public humility was expected; women were to be ladies and the spoken word was to be measured.

And NOW, this is what we get:


(note: CPI went up in November..based on October data…interesting he is taking credit for improvement under President Obama, but never mind)

And the split in the vote was NOT along economic lines (save the poorest category); it was pretty much 50-50 at most income groups. The split was along racial lines AND educational lines.




(exit data via CNN)

What an interesting country this has become; Republicans are no longer the “classical music” party; they are the “Duck Dynasty/Ted Nugent” party.


Note: I know that Trump also parts ways with traditional Republicanism on things like free trade, but is all on board with things like “tax cuts for the rich” (aka “supply side economics”).

January 1, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans political/social | 3 Comments

An economy based on jobs, self esteem, automation and all that…

Donald Trump was elected, in part, to bring good paying jobs back to America. Sure, the Obama administration has shown some job growth, but, in general, the new jobs simply didn’t pay as well as the jobs shed under the Bush administration. And there are some real questions with regards to Trump’s promises. He has promised faster economic growth which can occur either by making workers more productive (and thereby reducing the need for having as many) OR by increasing the size of the workforce (which will mean more immigration).

The promise of increased automation might lead to an interesting quandary: what if this means that even more well paying blue collar jobs disappear? So assuming that we will still make new human beings (else where is demand going to come from?) this can lead to some serious issue. How can one who doesn’t have the rarer high tech jobs make ends meet? One answer might mean that governments might provide some sort of universal basic income.

Now, of course, this can lead to some issues as well. Here is one big one: in our society, you ARE what you DO, so what if you “do nothing”, even if your basic income needs are met? I can see this being a devastating emotional development for males (though females who have suffered long term job loss have reported self-esteem effects to me). One might even call this a “spiritual crisis“. Now, I don’t agree with some of what the article I linked to says; after all, part of the blame for the rift in our society…perhaps most of it (?) can be laid at the feet of our overglorified “white rural/working class”. The idea that THEY are “real America” and the rest of us are some type of “guests” is bullshit. But, the main point, and yes, Rep. Ryan made this, is that there is some type of dignity that comes with a good job (still...not a good reason to cut safety nets).

So, while there will always be a need for some to work (and I sure hope that I am one of them!), are we approaching a time that goes beyond “everyone has a job” era?

There is a lot to think about here. I probably won’t live to see the “post job” era and I might not want to see the “growing pains” period, if one such era indeed comes.

Now as far as the self esteem thing: yes, people will be drawn to successful people; there is really no way around that. That, IMHO, is harsh reality. You might think of yourself as having all of these wonderful attributes. But ultimately, at least for males, you are what you do. You are your performance; “you are your W/L record” as they like to say in the NFL.

On the other hand, well, one’s success is often tied to factors well beyond one’s talent and one’s willingness to work hard.

Of course, there is society itself. For example if most of one’s day is devoted to gathering food and finding shelter so as to survive another day, one is not going to have the time and resources for “self improvement”. And there is era. Example: Larry Bird is certainly wealthy, and he was known as a hard working basketball player who developed his talents. But what if he were born, say, 80 years ago? It is highly unlikely he would be such a success; professional sports (save baseball) were not that big of a deal then. The ace computer programmer or the successful hedge fund manager would probably not have flourished 100-200 years ago.

So there is the factor of having a “talent suited for the times” as well.

In my case: yes, I am affected by the choices I made. I chose a lower paying, lower stress path for my specialty (pure math rather than applied math or engineering). But I had the type of talent needed for this time; there was a market for college mathematics professors. Yes, I worked hard to exploit my talent, and I was fortunate to have a public university and NSF money to help me along the way. I am doing ok, though that could change in a flash! And I believe that most who are doing ok to “much better than I am” fall into a similar category.

Others have skills that are less marketable in this era, or have had bad luck (e. g. serious illnesses, accidents).

Don’t get me wrong: some don’t have much talent, and some have made some terrible choices, and some of the “good for nothing” crowd (most?) will not accept responsibility for their own actions. I know such people; they are not pleasant to be around. We’ll always have those: I might call them “members of the basket of deplorables”.

But that is hardly everyone who is struggling. And many good people are down on themselves.

Note: I have no answers and make no predictions; many of these ideas are new to me and I have not thought them through.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Not my bubble…

Yes, many Americans ARE hopeful about the upcoming year. Just not the ones that I routinely talk to.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans, or 72 percent of those polled, say they are feeling hopeful about 2017, according to a new Morning Consult survey.

Sixty-one percent of respondents say they are feeling optimistic about the upcoming year, and 51 percent of people are feeling excited.

But half of the respondents say they are feeling anxious about the coming year, according to the poll.

Twenty-three percent reported feeling sad and 19 percent reported feeling angry going into the new year.

Personally, I feel as if our system gives way too much power to rural voters (disproportional representation to the small states in the Senate and to rural Congressional districts)

But mostly I am numb. I tend to agree with this: the bad stuff that will come will mostly be the result of having an amateur in the White House and the effects might take a while to show up.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

Cold, cold cold…

Election tidbits:

Yes, the Clinton campaign used sophisticated turn-out models…but maybe forgot the basics?

The Trump voters: why do they like Trump more than the far less affluent liberals? Some of it is attitude; Trump lives the way many imagine that they would live were they rich.

Trump and Putin: yes, the Russians will probably dump him when the time is right. They usually do.

Other stuff: it was -3 this morning.

And so I went to the Riverplex for a modest workout:

Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, reasonable), incline presses: 10 x 135, 6 x 160 (good), 10 x 150
military: 10 x 50, 7 x 50 (both standing, rough), 2 sets of 10 x 180 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 on the machine.
abs (2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts), headstand.

Walking: lane 1 of the track (7 7/8 laps to the mile); walked 32 laps: 14:56, 14:24, 13:34, 13:12. (56:07…yes this was once my 100 mile walk pace. What are you going to do?)

Weight: 194 after. (I did not sweat much).

December 18, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Obamacare repeal and Trump voters

What do Trump voters want? Krugman opines:

And what Brad is saying, I think, is that what those longing for the return to coal want is those jobs they deserve, where they earn their money — not government handouts, no sir.

A fact-constrained candidate wouldn’t have been able to promise such people what they want; Trump, of course, had no problem.

But is that really all there is? Working-class Trump voters do, in fact, receive a lot of government handouts — they’re almost totally dependent on Social Security for retirement, Medicare for health care when old, are quite dependent on food stamps, and many have recently received coverage from Obamacare. Quite a few receive disability payments too. They don’t want those benefits to go away. But they managed to convince themselves (with a lot of help from Fox News etc) that they aren’t really beneficiaries of government programs, or that they’re not getting the “good welfare”, which only goes to Those People.

And you can really see this in the regional patterns. California is an affluent state, a heavy net contributor to the federal budget; it went 2-1 Clinton. West Virginia is poor and a huge net recipient of federal aid; it went 2 1/2-1 Trump.

I don’t think any kind of economic analysis can explain this. It has to be about culture and, as always, race.

There is a more abstract discussion here which is quite uncomfortable as it points out the role of luck and timing when it comes to doing well financially. Yes, there are those who would do poorly in any circumstance; there are plenty of slackers and moochers. But not all who struggle fall into that category.

Obamacare repeal: the big thing is that those making 200K and 250K per year will get a nice tax cut if it is repealed.

Workout notes: I went to the spandex palace (aka “Riverplex”) and did the following: 33:10 for 3 miles, 3 x 2 laps plus 1 lap walk/jog (9 laps) on the outer lane..that got me out of breath.

then 2 miles in 21:10 plus .1 walking to get me to 10K; headstand and some light squats afterward.

December 18, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, running, social/political | Leave a comment

Trump, “Real America” and all sorts of “Political Correctness”

I am on the road and we stopped near Columbus, Ohio for the evening. We are about 6 hours out of Peoria.

I have time for some political posting.

So, Donald J. Trump will be President. Oh yes, there might be a “faithless elector” or two, but that won’t stop him. We need to engage in very basic politics to stop him. That doesn’t mean that we take Russian interference lying down; Sen. Lindsey Gram offers some good suggestions.

Paul Krugman offers suggestions on how to channel that “cool anger”. I agree: we should really make the case that Trump really represents wealthy interests and little else; he won’t help improve the normal lives of the “rank and file” nor will he level the playing field so as to empower the rank and file to improve their own live (which is what most really want anyway).

Though America is NOT the GOP, America is NOT a liberal college campus either. The average American is not going to get the vapors if Trump doesn’t speak according to some approved “PC” script. We can show that Trump is making the playing field more unequal though…he is lying about big manufacturing coming back, he is going to try to take away people’s health insurance and he will do nothing to “Make America Great Again.”

We have to make him pay a political price for that, and that means nominating those with the political skill to do it.

About political correctness: Yeah, I get tired of all of this nonsense that says that “rural, Trump voting” people are the “real Americans” and that the rest of us (close to 3 million more!) are, what?

But, I will continue to call out liberal political correctness, which sometimes can be so pervasive that it actually attacks well established scientific results.

Workout notes: easy 3.1 mile walk (5K) on the treadmill yesterday; 39:10.

December 15, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, science, social/political, travel, walking | , , | Leave a comment