blueollie

Rant: recognizing the limits of what one knows

I’ll admit that I am an expert in a very narrow slice of mathematics. But I am at least an AU from being an international or even a national caliber expert in that narrow field of mathematics.
And yes, I often read about topics that are not in my area; I enjoy popular books and articles on topics from the various branches of science, economics and the like.

Nevertheless, I also realize that when I read such a book or article, or when I attend a public lecture, I am getting a watered down, simplified treatment of the subject. I lack the context and the prerequisite knowledge to appreciate a presentation aimed at the experts.

And there lies one of my biggest frustrations when it comes to talking to people, either on the internet or in person. There are so many who really can’t detect the difference between expert knowledge and what they read (and perhaps half-digested …if that much) from a popular book. It is THAT level of “lack of humility” that makes some unpleasant conversation companions; I am ok with ignorance. After all, I am ignorant of the vast majority of human knowledge. I think that all of us are.

And, sadly, I see this lack of intellectual humility in political or social issues discussion, especially from the “losing side”. It appears to me that being on the losing side of an election (and I’ve been there, many, many times) brings out the worst in people in several ways.

Example: I had someone try to tell me that Hillary Clinton’s popular vote is “within the margin of error”, when one factors in the caucus states.

Of course, that is a dumb statement for a number of reasons.

1. There is a difference between a vote count and a poll count, even though both have a margin of error (remember Florida in the 2000 general election). The margin of errors in vote count is much smaller than it is for a poll.

2. The margin of error for a poll is 1.96 * \frac{.5}{\sqrt{n}} (assuming a 95 percent confidence interval and a relatively close election; this comes from the normal approximation to the proportion distribution. So as n increases, the confidence interval, and therefore the margin of error, decreases. Note: for more on polls, read this wonderful little article written by a physics professor.

3. Hillary Clinton leads by about 3 million votes, even when one counts the caucus votes. The latter doesn’t add much as there are fewer caucus states, and these tend to be smaller states. Anyhow, she leads about 57-43.

4. The person making the claim appeared to not understand that winning a small state by a very large percentage didn’t make up for winning a bigger state by a smaller margin.

Yes, by knowing that Sanders won a lot of caucus states and that there IS such a thing as margin of error puts this individual into the “above average” category. But this person was clearly ignorant of their own ignorance.

There is another factor in play: I really think that desperation makes one dumber. When one really likes a candidate or a person, or even a sports team, it is tough to accept an unpleasant reality. I’ve become acquainted with the latter as an Illinois football fan (“yeah, we have a shot at being Wisconsin!” Sure.)

Desperation can lead to an abandonment of one’s values. Check out the Republican Chairman’s take on Donald Trump

Oh sure, few would be surprised at Donald Trump’s behavior, and I doubt that a certain type of Republican really cares that much (“hey, what do you expect with Trump anyway?”)

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Personal Issues, political/social, politics, poll, ranting, statistics | , , , | 1 Comment

The lies we tell ourselves..

I had planned to do 6 treadmill miles today, but the day was too pretty to stay indoors.

So I jogged my hilly Cornstalk 8.1 mile course. I didn’t bother to time myself as frankly, I didn’t want to know; but the pace was somewhere in the 11:45-12:00 mpm range. It was a slow but easy “lope”.

corn81567climb

It was breezy but perfect running weather.

While I was in Bradley Park, the university track team was doing hill repeats. Yep…they blew past me as if I were merely waddling in place. Wait..that is what I was doing.

Now the reality is that our track team is a strong one; I never was nearly as fast as the men NOR the women; my lifetime PB for the 5K is a hair under 19 minutes and for the 10K: 39:50. That is “young man slow”, compared to serious runners. I last broke 20 minutes for the 5K in 1998. Today’s run: same effort would have been perhaps 1:05 and change.

Now: I am “old man slow” and “old man slow” is slower than “young man slow”. That is really it.

olderusedtobefaster

The same goes with the weight room: I never was “strong”; lifetime PB for the bench press was 310, but that was at a much heavier body weight than I am now. At my current bodyweight (or within shouting distance of it), we are talking 260 lbs. Now I do 200 on a good day. That is “young man weak” vs. “old man weak”. 🙂

November 19, 2015 Posted by | ranting, running, whining | | Leave a comment

On the road relatively soon

I slept in as I have a long drive ahead of me both today and tomorrow.

Workout notes weights only. Legs were heavy.

pull ups (hip hikes, Achilles) 3 sets of 10
bench press: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 7 x 170 (rotator cuff)
incline press: 10 x 140
pull ups: 2 sets of 10 to finish 5 sets.
military: 10 x 85 standing barbell, 7 x 85 standing barbell, 10 x 40 standing dumbbell.
super set: pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 160 traditional, 7 x 160 traditional 7 x 85 very low with
3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer Machine rows.

I started to jog on the treadmill but gave up; I figured some light walking around would loosen my legs a bit.

Politics
This is a very interesting take on Mike Huckabee’s candidacy:

Huckabee appears to be aware of his liabilities, and is thus angling not only for the evangelical vote, but for the old person vote in general. He’s adopted the view, unfathomable in modern Republican politics, that support programs for the elderly shouldn’t be tampered with, and not just for today’s seniors, but for at least a generation. By doing so he’s violated the GOP’s implicit pact that discourages members from accentuating the tensions between the party’s fiscal priorities and its aging political base. If he makes good on this cynical strategy, he will probably still lose, but his candidacy will have served a valuable and revealing purpose.

Let’s be clear up front that Huckabee’s positioning here is 100 percent cynical. As John McCormack of the neoconservative Weekly Standard reminded us last month, Huckabee was a proponent of the Republican consensus as recently as August 2012, when he wrote on his Facebook page that “Paul Ryan is being demonized for his suggested Medicare reforms. But the alternatives may be scarier.”

Today, Huckabee says he wouldn’t sign legislation codifying Ryan’s Medicare reforms if he were president, and lambasted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s proposal to further raise the Social Security retirement age over time. In Iowa this week, Huckabee told a crowd of supporters, “It is a foolish thing for the government to involuntarily confiscate money from your pockets and paychecks for 50 years, and then suddenly tell you, oh, we were just kidding.”

You might call this a “government hands off of my Medicare” moment.🙂

keep-your-government-hands-off-my-medicare1

And yes, some conservatives are rather upset with him.

I love it.🙂

Social This is a case in which religious beliefs can cause harm. Someone has something bad happen to them (e. g. they get cancer). Someone, in an attempt to comfort, says “God’s will” or “God has a plan for you” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”; to be fair some give a secular version of such sentiment (e. g. they call your ordeal a “journey”.)

You know: sometimes people just have horrible luck and the idea that there is some cosmic puppetmaster calling the shots is just plain stupid.

May 11, 2015 Posted by | 2016, huckabee, politics, politics/social, ranting, religion, republicans, social/political, weight training | | Leave a comment

Some sane discussion…

I had posted President Obama’s remarks about Baltimore and applauded him for distinguishing the rioters and looters from the protesters. People should remember that anytime there is a disturbance that leads to a lessening of order, some will take advantage, be they sports rioters, riots and looters during police strikes, looters or just plain morons.

But as far as the plight of the poorer inner city communities (such as Baltimore’s), the evidence is that much of the social pathology is the result of poverty rather than the cause of it.

sanebaltimore

Of course, this is where I get sore. Conservatives are quick to point out the pathology and often blame…well, who else..for it.

On the other hand, trying to get the rank and file liberal to admit that there IS a social pathology and that, yes, the looting and rioting in those communities are caused by bad people, just as they are in other communities…well good luck with that. Now-a-days if you call a looter a “thug” some delusional individual will call you a racist.

In the above video, the person who spoke just afterword had some good things to say (and yes, the arguments over the word is just a distraction)

To conclude: I think that Kathleen Parker’s remarks are well taken.

May 1, 2015 Posted by | political/social, politics/social, poverty, racism, ranting, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Federal Express: dreadful receiving end customer service

I got home today to find a “sorry, we missed you” tag from Federal Express. At the bottom of the tag was a bar code. They had the address and hours of the pick up location.

But:

1) They attempted delivery at a residence at 2:30 pm on a work day???
2) There was zero indication of
a) who sent the package and
b) who the package was addressed to.

That is important information, no?

3) To try to contact them, you either had to try to sign up on their website or navigate a “one size fits none” artificial intelligence voice activated menu system…they provided no local number to call to talk to a person.

That is how it goes these days: absolutely rotten customer service.

I know that I’ll be less likely to use a business if they use Federal Express to send stuff.

December 3, 2014 Posted by | ranting | , , | Leave a comment

Neither liberals nor conservatives are inherently dumb. But their knee jerk reactions are.

There are smart liberals and there are smart conservatives. There are also dumb liberals and dumb conservatives. I really don’t see much of an intelligence difference between the two groups, though it appears to me that the intelligence manifests itself in different ways (e.g. top scientists lean liberal; top CEO’s lean conservative).

However, the two groups are prone to knee jerk reactions that ARE dumb. On the right, you see the old “If Obama is for it, it must be ultra liberal, etc.” Never mind his economic plan (in particular, infrastructure rebuilding) and Obamacare have conservative elements to them.

On the left: once a group has achieved “underdog/victimhood” status, they become protected. Hence some liberals conflate discrimination against Muslims (e. g. protesting the building of a mosque) with criticism of Islam as it is widely practiced. And, “innocent until proven guilty” is just fine, UNLESS the accuser is a woman and the accused is a man and the accusation is some hot button “issue crime”.

I think that “innocent until proven guilty” is even MORE important when one doesn’t like the accused or the group that the accused belongs to.

October 28, 2014 Posted by | ranting, social/political, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Jon Stewart on Ferguson….and Fox’s response

You are tired of hearing about “racism”? Well, some of us are tried of the racism to begin with.

This is one of his best episodes, ever.

Yes, she shooting victim was not a virtuous citizen. But there is enough to suggest that she was shot while he wasn’t a threat and there is overwhelming evidence that black males are not treated fairly by law enforcement (on the whole).

August 27, 2014 Posted by | racism, ranting, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Obama Derangement Syndrome

Ok, the airline shoot down was a horrible thing; we need to let the facts come in. It was shot down (BUK?) and we need to know: Russian Military? Rebel forces with Russian equipment?

But..you guessed it; our wingnuts are all over President Obama.

Here, they attempt to compare President Reagan’s response to USSR Air Force fighters shooting down a Korean Air Lines plane to the current President Obama response.

Uh, wingnuts:

1. President Reagan’s address was on September 5, 1983, and the shoot down was on September 1, 1983.

2. The Korean plane was shot down by official Soviet fighter jets; we still don’t know the details of TODAY’s shootdown (who, with what?)

Also, some are jumping on President Obama for…eating lunch and doing other duties?

These people have forfeited the right to be taken seriously; they are a joke.

By the way: I note that they don’t mention the US shooting down an Iranian Airliner while President Reagan was still in office.

July 18, 2014 Posted by | ranting, social/political, world events | | Leave a comment

Hobby Lobby SCOTUS case: if you are a liberal and didn’t vote for Gore in 2000: STFU

Elections have consequences. Here are two of them: Justice Roberts and Justice Alito.

So, in 2016: the election matters. Republicans and Democrats are NOT the same. Period.

June 30, 2014 Posted by | political/social, ranting | Leave a comment

But it is all natural, 100 percent organic and GMO free!

(I know, redundant)

posionivy

parsnip-closeup

So why don’t you make a salad of it, or perhaps rub it all over yourself?

🙂

Seriously, this is why this “natural = good, GMO = bad” stuff cracks me up. Plants evolved so as to make it more likely that they reproduce at higher rates; they didn’t evolve for our benefit.

June 28, 2014 Posted by | ranting, social/political | , , | Leave a comment