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:

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 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

It isn’t all good but it isn’t all bad either

Steven Pinker is one of my favorite “public intellectuals”. He is a Harvard professor and was elected to the National Academy of Science. Here he is on Bill Maher. One of Pinker’s constant themes is that, *on the whole*, things are getting better for humans. That doesn’t mean that there are serious problems that we need to address.

And, of course, there are changes. I don’t like all of them. But some of those that I do not like are, well, necessary, and the reason I don’t like them is because my previous 58 years on this planet got me used to a different way.

Academia: some professors really ok with being viewed as an “easy to get an A from” professor. I am not one of those.

Some ideas are inherently difficult to learn and not everyone has the aptitude to learn them. And some ideas can be learned at different levels. I might discuss this more on my math blog as I start preparing for fall classes; I have my research paper written up and prepared to be proof read.

Workout notes: I spent last night at Dancing Dreams (an ABBA tribute band) concert and so slept in; I only walked 11 miles (15:30 ish pace) though it was warm:

77 F 64 percent at the start, 82 F, 55 percent humidity at the finish. I was 2:45 at then end of the 10.7 (with the goose loop) and 2:52 at the end of the 11.2

August 11, 2018 Posted by | education, politics/social, social/political, walking | Leave a comment

What I find offensive about Laura Ingraham’s “immigrant” statement and Trump’s NFL protest statements

Let me make this clear: if you don’t like me because of my race, I am ok with that. Your loss..and it isn’t as if I lack for friends.

If you prefer the atmosphere of one culture to another, be it classical (white) small town “Americana”, or suburbia (e. g. Morton) to something more diverse, fine. People are going to prefer some atmospheres to others. There is nothing wrong with that. Personally: I wish baseball and football had a bit less of this “canned, marketed faux-patriotism” as part of the entertainment (and I am growing tired of hearing “American Solider” played at baseball games; ironically one of the things I liked about the Far East Network Armed Forces radio station that I listened to in Japan is that they played a VARIETY of music; some C & W, some “soul”, some Jazz, some rock and roll)

But hey, it comes with the territory; no entertainment experience is tailor made for me, nor should it be.

So, let’s get to the Ingraham statement (video here)

“In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” Ingraham said on the cable network.

Ingraham added: “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like,” she said. “From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed. Now, much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration.”

“foisted upon the American people”….”None of us ever voted for”…

Who in the hell are you talking about? If you YOU don’t like the brown skinned immigrants, well, that is your right. What offends me is that she is conflating HER views and the views of her audience with the views of “the American people”. Ms. Ingraham: you are only one person, and your viewers, while American, do not represent even a plurality of Americans. Evidently, American institutions such as the military understand this. I am sorry that you do not.

Now to President Trump and his tweets:

It isn’t his call as far as to how to pay or not pay the players. And as far as “the fans”: NFL fans are not monolithic.

Yes, this is from an October 2014 game and this was in response to what happened in Ferguson. There were no National Anthem protests, but some Rams players did a “don’t shoot, hands up” gesture upon entering the field. And this banner wasn’t the only one; other fans took another banner around the concourse to…mostly cheers.

Of course, the old St. Louis Rams fans were a diverse lot but so are NFL fans in general. I have no problem with the fans debating the merits and appropriateness of the National Anthem protests (though frankly, I’d be in favor of doing away with the National Anthem at sporting events; there is nothing inherently patriotic about home runs, touchdowns or 3-point shots.)

What I find offensive is that people like Donald Trump and Jerry Jones appear to “think” that there is only one legitimate side to the issue at hand. They are completely wrong.

As to what I think, this is a nice summary of how I see it:

Workout notes: 3 mile walk after lifting: usual PT, pull ups (5 sets of 10..went well), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, incline: 6 x 150, decline: 10 x 165, military: standing 10 x 50, 10 x 45, machine: 10 x 90 (new machine), rows: 2 sets of 10 x 50 (dumbbell), 10 x 110. Abs, plank, etc.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | NFL, politics/social, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

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 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | , | Leave a comment

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.

But she ASKED.

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 Posted by | Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment

Getting the formula right…

So, what to do? I did have 196 miles of running/walking for July, so perhaps it wasn’t an accident that I did 4 today.

weights: rotator cuff, 5 sets of 10 pull ups, bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 7 x 170, incline: 10 x 135, decline: 7 x 170, military: 10 x 50 standing (ugly), 10 x 45 standing (better..these are dumbbells, one 45 in each hand), 10 x 140 Hammer Machine, rows: 3 x (10 x 110) machine, 2:30 plank, headstand, side plank, shoulderstand/plow.

running: 21:50 run, .5 walk, 1.7 mile outside walk. The run felt GREAT …of course it was easy and short…

Fun: If you “get” this, you might be my kind of person.

Assumptions: everyone tells the truth, there is only “want/do not want” and only the three logicians count as “everyone”. What is subtle: the first two answers convey information: why?

2018 Midterms: I get the feeling that in every competitive district, the Republican will say that Ocasio-Cortez is the Democratic candidate’s “best friend”. You haven’t heard of her? Well, she won a primary against an establishment Democrat and aligned herself with Bernie Sanders, wants to abolish ICE (which didn’t exist prior to 2002…and I think that we had borders prior to then, but whatevers…)

As it sits, things are looking reasonably good for the House Democrats *at the moment* but things change, and the November elections are a political eternity away.

July 30, 2018 Posted by | politics/social, running, social/political, walking | | Leave a comment

Headwinds for Democrats in 2020

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.

July 25, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social | | Leave a comment

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 Posted by | baseball, football, laughing at myself, Navel Staring, Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

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 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment

The frustration of trying to discuss social issues…

I admit that social media has become (always was?) not the best place to discuss the issues of the day.

It appears that much of which passes as “discussion” is just slogan chanting and cheer leading.

Of course, because I am biased, I tend to notice right wing exaggerations and half truths. Here is one example:

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents,” Waters said at the Wilshire Federal Building, according to video of the event.

It is clear that she is talking about members of Trump’s cabinet and about peaceful, verbal confrontation. But, in right wing circles, this has morphed into “Maxine Waters call for violence against Trump supporters”.

On the other side: Trump is widely accused of mocking a reporter’s disability. In fact, it sure looks to me that he was doing is “flustered person” mocking (mocking, but not because of disability)

And then we get to the cheer leading part. Take an issue, say single payer. Candidate X proposes it. I don’t back candidate X. Peron: I thought you were FOR single payer? Me: yes, but…HOW are you going to do that..from where we are now?

Or someone posts a meme: “this shit ends NOW” and “we are going to do this or that”. My response: HOW? What exactly are you going to do and how does that make the change that you want? The dummies usually respond with some variety that I am being a bad person for not sympathizing with that person’s goals.

There are many other ridiculous things: “large crowds” means “being popular with the voting public”, etc.

Oh well…perhaps it is time to read more books and talk less. I am going to practice being far more selective as to what I respond to.

What I think is going on: some really just want acceptance online (“cheering for the same team”) and a few want to be viewed as leaders (of a sort).

July 15, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment