Class, Gaussians and Islam in the world…

Islam in the world I wrote about this earlier. Evidently many conflate criticism of Islam (and its practices) with a justification for discrimination against Muslims; those are very different things. A Pakistani woman wrote an open letter to explain why the points brought up by Bill Maher and Sam Harris are worthy ones:

And in yesterday’s issue of Pakistan Today, you’ll find her piece: “An open letter to Ben Affleck“. As a few quotes below will show, she goes after Affleck for trying, as she argues, to minimize the plight of Muslim women like her. Just a bit to give you the flavor:

Noble liberals like yourself always stand up for the misrepresented Muslims and stand against the Islamophobes, which is great but who stands in my corner and for the others who feel oppressed by the religion? Every time we raise our voices, one of us is killed or threatened. I am a blogger and illustrator, no threat to anyone, Ben, except for those afraid of words and drawings. I want the freedom to express myself without the very real fear that I might be killed for it. Is that too much to ask?

When I wrote a children’s book that carried a message of diversity and inclusivity for everyone, my life changed. My book, ‘My Chacha (uncle) is Gay’ has the innocent anti-homophobia message, ‘Love belongs to everyone’. This was not palatable to many of my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Since that project I have been declared an ‘enemy of God’ and deemed worthy of death. All because I want to help create a world where South Asian children too can have their stories told, so they too can know that love comes in all forms, and that that’s okay. My Muslim brothers and sisters were hit hard by this work because it addresses the issue of homophobia within our own community. It is not something they can pass off as ‘Western’ immorality. Just like they deny that any issues exist within the doctrine of Islam, many deny that homosexuality exists amongst good, ‘moral’ Muslims. Just like that, millions of people’s existence is denied. Please do not defend people who think this way, and let me tell you Ben, many ‘good’ Muslims do think this way.

What you did by screaming ‘racist!’ was shut down a conversation that many of us have been waiting to have. . . You became an instant hero, a defender of Islam.

Here is something to remember: the most radical right wing American Christians would be …flaming liberals if they were Muslims:

In your culture you have the luxury of calling such literalists “crazies”, like the Westboro Baptist Church, for example. In my culture, such values are upheld by more people than we realise. Many will try to deny it, but please hear me when I say that these are not fringe values. It is apparent in the lacking numbers of Muslims willing to speak out against the archaic Shariah law. The punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, etc, are tools of oppression. Why are they not addressed even by the peaceful folk who “aren’t fanatical, who just want to have some sandwiches and pray five times a day? Where are the Muslim protestors against blasphemy laws/apostasy? Where are the Muslims who take a stand against harsh interpretation of Shariah? These sandwich-eating peaceful folk do not defend those suffering in the name of Islam, Ben, and therein lies our problem.

Accuracy in media
Here is an example of Fox News reporting something that is blatantly false, but not issuing a correction. The claim was that Colorado law allowed for people to print out their own ballots; that is only true for Military personnel living overseas.

Epic Class Warfare rant
Marc Randazza is a famous First Amendment lawyer. He can’t stand some attitudes exhibited by some rich people, even though he is well off. Read his “candy woman” rant.

Ok, I have a few hang ups about Halloween Trick or Treaters but these tend to be “Larry Davidish”.

Mathematics and statistics Some statistical distributions appear over and over again. This one appears to be half Gaussian, half exponential.

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Fox News Lies Again, mathematics, political/social, politics/social, poverty, religion, rich, science, social/political, statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

12 December 2010 Blizzard Edition Part II

The Blizzard is weird…some small patches have little snow (driveway); others are buried. The win is hard and swirling; it as if we are living in an engineering wind tunnel.

Shoulder It hurt last night; doing overhead lifts just isn’t working. I’ll have to cut out the lat pull downs and all overhead stuff that isn’t very, very, very light. Curls, rows, and perhaps some incline presses are ok.

Workout notes I went to the gym; 3 miles AMT,
3.12 mile run on the treadmill (10:05, 19:45, 29:25, 30:20 total). I started off with a 10 minute mile and 0 elevation and increased the speed to 9:40 by the end of mile 1; I added .5 to the elevation every 400 meters until I got to 4 and kept it there for the final mile and lowered it for the last .12 miles.
Then I did 1.1 miles (10 minutes) on the elliptical.
Then 3 miles (24 laps) of the indoor track walking; 41 minutes total.

The gym was not crowded.

Football notes
I am watching the Lions-Packers. The first half ended 0-0 and the Green Bay quarterback was knocked out of the game in the first half. 5 minutes into the second half the Packers got a field goal. Then the Packers threw an interception inside the Detroit 8.
But with 7:55 left in the game, the Lions finished off a long drive to go up 7-3. Right now, the Lion defensive line is dominating play on both running and passing plays. This is a hard hitting defensive struggle.

Note: on 4’th and 1, the Packers went for it with a deep pass; it missed and now the Lions have the ball with 57 seconds to go.

Science/Technology; the Navy has successfully fired a electromagnetic gun; this has the potential to fire a shell 100 plus miles. This also means that, potentially, ships can do away with the need to store gunpowder; that makes things a whole lot safer.

Note: there is some potential to use such a device to launch a satellite or something else into outer space.

Another classic from Pat Condell

He makes some solid points.

Nate Silver talks about the relationship that President Obama has with liberals. The last paragraph is very interesting. First:

A new poll from Marist University is suggestive of a potential worst-case scenario for President Obama. As he endures criticism from his left over his handling of the tax policy debate with Republicans, his approval rating has declined among liberals,

He notes that this is based on a small sample size and the the Gallup has yet to release its demographic break down from its latest poll. He then notes:

Moreover, as we’ve noted previously, liberal dissatisfaction with Mr. Obama may not translate into a willingness to vote against him in 2012. In the Marist poll, Mr. Obama won the support of between 78 and 85 percent of both liberals and Democrats against a group of three potential Republican presidential nominees: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee. Essentially, about half the liberals and half the Democrats who disapproved of Mr. Obama’s job performance in the poll were nevertheless unwilling to vote against him for re-election (at least provided that one of those three Republicans was his opponent).

Finally, the tax compromise was presumably not intended as a short-term political fix. One benefit to Mr. Obama, instead, could come in the medium term, as most economists expect the proposal to boost the economy over the next two years, at the expense of increasing long-term deficits.

Ok, fair enough. But here is the most interesting part:

One theory of mine is that Mr. Obama — if one assumes that he is a liberal himself — sees less need to hedge his words when speaking to other liberals, in the same way that most of us tend to speak more bluntly to friends and family members than to relative strangers. But liberals — just like moderates and conservatives — formulate their impressions of the president based on a combination of intellectual and emotional factors, and their view of politics may not be so emotionally detached as Mr. Obama’s sometimes seems to be. And few voters of any kind would be pleased if it feels as though their support is being taken for granted.

Emphasis mine. There might be a lesson here. Remember President George W. Bush? If you really look at it, he delivered very little to social conservatives. The rich got their wars (which their offspring doesn’t normally fight anyway) and their tax cuts. But on the whole, there was no ban on abortion, no retreat from gay rights (he and President Obama actually see eye to eye here); the only thing they got was SCOTUS nominations; and these guys are really corporate shills anyway (pro-big business). The got a defense of marriage act. That’s it.

But, President Bush spoke to them as if he liked them and valued them, even if their agenda wasn’t really his agenda.
On the other hand, President Obama HAS taken on much of what liberals want and delivered much more for us (though not nearly all that we wanted). But he fusses at us in public. Aw. 🙂

In short, we’ve gotten more of what we wanted from “our guy”, but are far less pleased. Go figure.

Oh yeah…the rich continue to win. But guess what? They always win and there isn’t much that we can do about it.

December 12, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, 2012 election, atheism, Barack Obama, Democrats, Peoria, Peoria/local, political/social, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, rich, running, science, shoulder rehabilitation, space, training, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

10 October posts (pm)

Moral dilemmas: humans tend to be consistent at how they respond to these. Here is an interesting article.

Thanksgiving: the religious types don’t seem to understand those who don’t believe in deities that require thanks be given to them. I admit that reminding myself of the good in my life or the good luck that I’ve had IS a useful thing to do, but there is no imaginary deity to “thank”.

Jerry Coyne: here is his op-ed on how science and religion are incompatible:

[…]The religious approach to understanding inevitably results in different faiths holding incompatible “truths” about the world. Many Christians believe that if you don’t accept Jesus as savior, you’ll burn in hell for eternity. Muslims hold the exact opposite: Those who see Jesus as God’s son are the ones who will roast. Jews see Jesus as a prophet, but not the messiah. Which belief, if any, is right? Because there’s no way to decide, religions have duked it out for centuries, spawning humanity’s miserable history of religious warfare and persecution.

In contrast, scientists don’t kill each other over matters such as continental drift. We have better ways to settle our differences. There is no Catholic science, no Hindu science, no Muslim science — just science, a multicultural search for truth. The difference between science and faith, then, can be summed up simply: In religion faith is a virtue; in science it’s a vice.

But don’t just take my word for the incompatibility of science and faith — it’s amply demonstrated by the high rate of atheism among scientists. While only 6% of Americans are atheists or agnostics, the figure for American scientists is 64%, according to Rice professor Elaine Howard Ecklund’s book, Science vs. Religion. Further proof: Among countries of the world, there is a strong negative relationship between their religiosity and their acceptance of evolution. Countries like Denmark and Sweden, with low belief in God, have high acceptance of evolution, while religious countries are evolution-intolerant. Out of 34 countries surveyed in a study published in Science magazine, the U.S., among the most religious, is at the bottom in accepting Darwinism: We’re No. 33, with only Turkey below us. Finally, in a 2006 Time poll a staggering 64% of Americans declared that if science disproved one of their religious beliefs, they’d reject that science in favor of their faith.

‘Venerable superstition’

In the end, science is no more compatible with religion than with other superstitions, such as leprechauns. Yet we don’t talk about reconciling science with leprechauns. We worry about religion simply because it’s the most venerable superstition — and the most politically and financially powerful.

Why does this matter? Because pretending that faith and science are equally valid ways of finding truth not only weakens our concept of truth, it also gives religion an undeserved authority that does the world no good. For it is faith’s certainty that it has a grasp on truth, combined with its inability to actually find it, that produces things such as the oppression of women and gays, opposition to stem cell research and euthanasia, attacks on science, denial of contraception for birth control and AIDS prevention, sexual repression, and of course all those wars, suicide bombings and religious persecutions.[…]

Economy What gives with the scapegoating? Robert Reich:

Yet Democrats are entering the same terrain when they blame China. According to the New York Times, House speaker Nancy Pelosi has been encouraging Democratic candidates to go after China, after internal polls showed voters increasingly willing to blame China for our problems and strongly in favor of eliminating tax breaks for companies that do business in China.

Democrats must know high unemployment in America has little or nothing to do with China. Yes, China should allow the yuan to rise further against the dollar. But China’s under-valued currency isn’t the reason we’ve lost 15 million jobs since the end of 2007. No, the tax code shouldn’t reward companies for relocating jobs there. But this tax break is barely relevant to the situation we’re in.

Our jobs crisis is due to the collapse of demand in the U.S. after the housing bubble burst. No longer able to borrow against the rising value of their homes, the vast American middle and working class can no longer spend enough to keep the economy going.

If Democrats (or Republicans, for that matter) want to blame something, blame America’s record level of inequality – an almost unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top, and a smaller proportion for the vast middle.

The evidence is all around us. It’s no mere coincidence that 1928 and 2007 marked historical high-water points for shares of national income going to the top 1 percent. Today’s median wage is now 5 percent lower than it was at the start of the decade, taking inflation into account, while top earners are doing better than ever. The core assets of most Americans are their homes, whose values are now 20 to 40 percent below what they were three years ago, while the key assets of America’s wealthy are shares of stocks and bonds, whose values have declined far less. The official rate of unemployment is 4.4 percent for college graduates but 10 percent for those with only high school degrees and almost 15 percent for high school dropouts.

I’m not suggesting Democrats blame the rich for their success. Most came by their high earnings and wealth honestly. And surely a vibrant economy requires that entrepreneurs be rewarded for hard work and valuable insight.

He goes on to warn against the appeal of xenophobia.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | atheism, economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, religion, rich, science | Leave a comment

Former Bush Adviser Hubbard Weighs in on Tax Cut Debate | PBS NewsHour | Sept. 22, 2010

In the first of several conversations on whether Bush-era should be extended, Gwen Ifill speaks with Columbia University’s business school Dean Glenn Hubbard, who helped craft the cuts when he served as an economic adviser to President George W. Bush.

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Former Bush Adviser Hubbard Weighs in on Tax Cu…, posted with vodpod

September 23, 2010 Posted by | bush-era, business & economy, deadline, Democrats, extension, glenn hubbard, gwen ifill, jim lehrer, newshour, north america, poor, Republican, rich, tax cuts | Leave a comment