Train wrecks are hard to look away from….

Iowa GOP hopeful summit:

What can I say?

Speaking of train wrecks, here was my workout for the day:

pull ups (5 sets of 10; better than last time) (hip hikes, Achilles exercises)
bench: 10 x 135, 1 x 185, 7 x 170, 5 x 170 (rotator cuff)
military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell, standing. (rotator cuff)
super set: 3 sets of 10 of pull downs and rows (pull downs: 10 x 150, rows: 10 x 90) done with the other machines.

2 miles on the treadmill in 21:05 (every 4 minutes, increase 0.1 mph, starting at 5.5)
track: Deek 5K in 28:27 (3 miles in 27:27); middle lane, 8:43, 9:17, 9:26. slow death. 1 lap walk.
treadmill: 1 mile in 10:30
Total: 10K (actually, 6.25 miles)

Note: I saw one of the university XC women doing her steady state run (1 hour?) 9.2 mph was her “steady state pace”. We both run for an hour; she get 15K, I get 10K. That was humbling to say the least.

January 27, 2015 Posted by | republicans, republicans politics, running, sarah palin, weight training | | Leave a comment

Bilking the not-so-bright….


Wow…that would be one way to get some action. 🙂

But the real con artists are the ones who know how to make themselves rich.

Sarah Palin knows how to do it:

The first pic on Sarah Palin’s website reads the oh-so original tag of: “We must reverse Obama’s destructive policies. Help send real conservatives to fix them”. Underneath the declaration is a button for conservative saps to give money to SarahPac.

According to Open Secrets the fighting Palins have been bilking the pac:

Out of $1.4 million the PAC had available in the third quarter — $978,000 sitting in the bank at the beginning of the July 1-Sept. 30 period, plus another more than $433,000 raised during that time — SarahPAC managed to donate just $45,000 to fellow Republicans running in the midterms. That’s a little more than 3 percent.
For the two-year 2014 cycle, the former Alaska governor’s PAC, a vehicle that helps her stay in the game amid talk that she may run in the 2016 presidential contest, has raised $2.5 million on top of more than $1.1 million that was in the bank at the start of the cycle. It has spent $2.7 million, with about $150,000 — or 5.5 percent — going to candidates.

This isn’t the least bit surprising. Palin quit on the people of Alaska to become a tacky television host and “author” who entered the lucrative conservative entertainment and grievance complex that has made political cancers such as O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh wealthy.

Karl Rove cleaned up in 2012 (note: this article was written PRIOR to election day in 2012).

Yes, Super Pacs are doing very well…for now.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, political/social, politics, politics/social, sarah palin | , | Leave a comment

Sarah Palin Channel: it might work….here is why

This is pure uninformed speculation based on no data and no studies.

Sarah Palin is offering a 100 dollar a year subscription to her own channel:

Here is why I think that it has a chance of success (maybe 15-20 percent?)

But wait! There’s more! The marquee original content thus far is a collection of short videos in which–as she’s been doing via Facebook–Palin weighs in on current events hitting longtime talking points. The trouble in Ukraine, for instance, is evidence that we need to “unlock” our natural energy resources, or Drill, Baby, Drill. Another publicizes her book from last year re-fighting the “war on Christmas.” In others, she answers questions from supporters, such as, “How many things can you name that Obama has failed at?”

Many of SPC’s short videos recall Palin’s hits for Fox News, placing her in a home-office setting backed symbolically by a carven eagle, a flag and a globe, speaking in a single take, YouTube-style; others have her speaking at an angle to the camera, as if addressing an unseen interviewer. The tone is on-brand: the folksy, familiar speech (after last year’s Phil Robertson controversy, she tells fans, “You guys rose up and said, ‘Oh my gosh, enough is enough!’”), her knack for digs that will rouse fans and aggravate detractors (Obama is “addicted to OPM”–say it out loud–”other people’s money”), the Alaskan-mountain imagery on the homepage.

Ok, that might not convince many people. BUT:

Beyond that, what SPC is trying to sell is community and connection. The site’s videos are shareable on social media–so depending on your friends-and-family list, you’ll be seeing them free on Facebook soon enough–but you can only see or post comments if you subscribe. The idea, an FAQ says, is that “the community would feel more secure”–secure enough, for instance, for one commenter to post on the Putin video that “Like most people who have been paying attention, I would trade our little Kenyan collectivist for Vladimir Putin any day.”

People might have a platform to reach like minded people without being laughed at. Given that Tea Party types are actually wealthier than average, well, who knows?

My wild guess is that she might sell this service to places like NewsMax and so they could make “give x dollars to candidate X or to PAC Y and get a Sarah Palin subscription, a 100 dollar value, ABSOLUTELY FREE” or the like.

Who knows; there are a lot of lonely people out there and some of them have money.

I think that it is more likely than not that this flops (she might quit as soon as she finds out that it is work!) but there is a bona fide chance that it works out.

No, I won’t be subscribing. 🙂

Then again, there were Republicans complaining about the cost of a 27 dollar t-shirt, which really made me think: “if 27 dollars is a big political contribution for these people, why in the world are they Republicans?”

July 28, 2014 Posted by | republicans, sarah palin, social/political | | Leave a comment

Sarah Palin’s comments on waterboarding “terrorists”: not inconsistent with Christianity

Sara Palin’s comments were wildly cheered at the meeting:

““They obviously have information on plots to carry out jihad…Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

Of course, some condemned these remarks:

The Washington Post reported on Monday that other Christian leaders had also spoken out against the former Alaska governor.

“Gov. Palin was attempting to appeal to the basest political populism (nothing in her remarks could be construed as genuinely conservative) by claiming that current U.S. counterterrorism policy is overly-tolerant and empathetic toward our enemies,” Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition wrote. “Unfortunately, what Palin is proposing is a mixture of pagan ethics and civil deistic religion.”

Hmmm, some Christians feel free to slam paganism. LOL.

Yes, some are claiming that she “mocked baptism”. But as to the violence associated with waterboarding: to claim that is inconsistent with Christianity is downright hilarious.

First, we can turn to the text of Christianity: The Bible. There was never a problem with killing those who worshiped differently: (Deuteronomy, 13)

Don’t Worship Other Gods

13 Suppose a prophet appears among you. Or someone comes who uses dreams to tell what’s going to happen. He tells you that a miraculous sign or wonder is going to take place. 2 The sign or wonder he has spoken about might really take place. And he might say, “Let’s follow other gods. Let’s worship them.” But you haven’t known anything about those gods before. 3 So you must not listen to what that prophet or dreamer has said.

The Lord your God is putting you to the test. He wants to know whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You must follow him. You must have respect for him. Keep his commands. Obey him. Serve him. Remain true to him.

5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death. He told you not to obey the Lord your God. The Lord brought you out of Egypt. He set you free from the land where you were slaves. He commanded you to live the way he wants you to. But that prophet or dreamer has tried to make you turn away from it. Get rid of that evil person.

6 Suppose your very own brother or sister secretly tempts you to do something wrong. Or your child or the wife you love tempts you. Or your closest friend does it. Suppose one of them says, “Let’s go and worship other gods.” But you and your people long ago hadn’t known anything about those gods before. 7 They are the gods of the nations that are around you. Those nations might be near or far away. In fact, they might reach from one end of the land to the other. 8 Don’t give in to those who are tempting you. Don’t listen to them. Don’t feel sorry for them. Don’t spare them or save them.

9 You must certainly put them to death. You must be the first to throw stones at them. Then all of the people must do the same thing. 10 Put them to death by throwing stones at them. They tried to turn you away from the Lord your God. He brought you out of Egypt. That’s the land where you were slaves.

11 After you kill those who tempted you, all of the people of Israel will hear about it. And they will be too scared to do an evil thing like that again.

WAIT, you say…that is the OLD TESTAMENT. Well, that is still part of Christian “scripture”, no? So let’s turn to the New Testament…to the very (alleged) words of Jesus himself: Luke 19:27

But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.'”

Yes, it was part of a parable which describes God’s wrath to those who deny Jesus. 🙂

Now you might point out that I am an atheist. So, how did some very religious people interpret Christianity?

Do The Crusades ring a bell?

The Inquisition and the Auto-da-fes?


Maybe a witch burning?


They certainly didn’t see torture and killing as being inconsistent with Christianity.

True: there are Christians that object to torture, but this objection is really independent of their being Christian.

Note: I am NOT saying that Christianity is more evil than other religions, or even an evil religion. For example, I’d much prefer to live in a majority (or plurality) Christian country than in an Islamic Republic; some examples of the latter really are evil.

May 2, 2014 Posted by | religion, sarah palin | , | Leave a comment

This is going to take some getting used to…day 2 as a Republican…

Old habits die hard. When I woke up, it was my instinct to get a bagel, orange juice and a yogurt for breakfast (all paid for by my SNAP card) and then work out. But then I remembered my life change and I decided to skip the workout and have a real American breakfast instead:

American breakfast-1278891

Then I wanted to drive my Prius to the welfare office and get another welfare check and read a Richard Dawkins book while waiting. But I remembered and tuned the radio to Rush Limbaugh and went to WORK!!!! Oh yes, I need to trade in the Prius for some V-8 extended cab pickup truck.

I feel so patriotic already! Kind of like this guy:


I now know what to watch:


But who to vote for?

We have a GREAT candidate in IL-9:

All of the Republican incumbents in Illinois who supported marriage equality won their primaries Tuesday, but one particularly anti-LGBT candidate for Congress did beat her more liberal challenger. Susanne Atanus, who is challenging Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s (D) seat in Illinois’ 9th District (which includes much of Chicago), won her Republican primary against former Obama-supporter and Navy veteran David Earl Williams III.
Atanus received national attention in January when she told the Daily Herald that God sends devastating weather like tornadoes and diseases like autism as punishment for LGBT equality and abortion rights:

“I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first,” Atanus said. She said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.
“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

That’s wonderful! Now who are we running in 2016? Is Mitt Romney making a comeback?

Oh, some of the social stuff will take some getting used to:

Quite the charmer Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has hosting fundraisers for him. Dennis Prager is a talk radio host who thinks that one of the “mutual obligations” of marriage is for women to have sex with their husbands based on the husband’s wishes and not the wife’s “mood.”
Writing on in December of 2008, Prager compares a man’s obligation to go to work, regardless of his “mood,” to a woman’s obligation to have sex with her husband.

“Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him? What else in life, of such significance, do we allow to be governed by mood?” he writes.

“What if your husband woke up one day and announced that he was not in the mood to go to work?”

He goes on to compare a wife’s commitment to meeting the needs of their children or parents or friends even when not in the mood to having sex with her husband, asking that, because the woman is doing what’s “right in those cases, rather than what their mood dictates,” “Why not apply this attitude to sex with one’s husband?”

March 19, 2014 Posted by | Mitt Romney, politics, politics/social, sarah palin | , | 1 Comment

When you lose your “dummy card” in my book (or the Wisdom of Donald Rumsfeld)

I am getting ready to work out and then go to a coffee shop to work on my math paper (I have a paid leave to do research this semester).

Part of my study involves studying this object:

Screen shot 2013-01-25 at 6.14.42 AM

The red circle represents a line going to infinity; the yellow circle represents a “pattern” that is obtained by cutting it with a disk bounded by the red circle, and attaching copies of itself “end to end”. This gives you algebraic data to analyse.

So, what about the title of the post?
I had a conversation with a Sarah Palin supporter (I haven’t undfriended them all) who didn’t like the movie Game Change; they thought it was an “exaggeration” and refuse to believe that she was the way that she was portrayed, despite some top McCain campaign officials saying it was like that.

Then the topic of “common sense” came up. Yes, such “common sense” (a way of reasoning based on everyday life experience) might get you through your day to day routine (e. g. prevent you from getting swindled, help you run a small business, help you in relations with people) but it frequently fails when the situation becomes larger (say, nation wide, or world wide) or unfamiliar (say, science). Here is an example of such a failure:

I don’t blame someone for not knowing a technical area that isn’t their speciality; most of us have to struggle for success in our own fields. I do blame someone for not realizing that other fields have smart people working in them; just because what they are doing doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean that what they are doing is nonsense, waste of time, etc.

So, to me: you lose your “dummy card” when you realize “hey, this might seem strange to me, but this is in a different arena than I am used to; maybe I am missing something!”. In other words, when you realize that your “common sense” isn’t enough to compensate for a gross lack of knowledge, training or experience in another field, then you’ve lost your “dummy card” in my book.

Or, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld (NOT one of my favorite persons): “when you realize that there are not only “known unknowns” (variables that you don’t know the value of) but also “unknown unknowns” (variables hidden to YOU that you are unaware of to begin with but that the experts are aware of, as well as some that no one is aware of yet), then you lose your dummy card.

And, no this is not a partisan rant (think: Senator Proxmire Of course, projects should be vetted prior to getting funding, but they should be vetted by knowledgeable people and not “common sense populists”)

Off I go…

January 25, 2013 Posted by | mathematics, ranting, sarah palin, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Game Change: the film

Ok, I read, er, listened to (while driving) the book Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

I just got through watching the HBO movie by the same name; the movie focused on Sarah Palin.

Wow. Yes, this stuff was in the book, but seeing it come alive on the screen gave it a whole different feel.

Some stuff struck me, and it wasn’t merely her absolutely appalling ignorance. It was also that she was not only unaware of her ignorance but that “I know what I know what I know” attitude. If she had a way of seeing something that made sense to her, why…then it must be true.

I admit that I am ignorant of many things; heck I am ignorant of most of mathematics and I know that better than I know anything. I am also aware of the trap of “if it makes sense to me then it must be true”; I’ve had to change my mind about stuff that I was “pretty sure” of. This was true professionally (at times): for example I was so certain of a mathematical fact that I spent two years trying to prove it..and couldn’t. Then I realized: “maybe it is false”..and then I came up with the counterexample (and published that).

January 24, 2013 Posted by | books, movies, politics, politics/social, sarah palin | , | Leave a comment

Please, Please, Please

Some Republicans: think that Sarah Palin should be the GOP nominee in 2016:

Furthermore, looks count in politics, and Palin at age 48, has it all over her possible competition, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who will be 69 by election day 2016 and who let someone talk her into adopting the flowing blond locks of a college student, making her look like Brunnhilde in a small-town Wagner production. Men love Sarah Palin, and she loves men.

She’s tough as nails too. After Election 2008, she was supposed to have been through. This year eight of the 14 GOP candidates Palin endorsed for Congress won election or reelection, including tea party favorite Ted Cruz for a Senate seat in Texas.

Sure, there is going to be never-ending nastiness from the left, but she’s already lived through that once. Katie Couric? A has-been. Tina Fey? Her shtick was already wearing thin in 2008.

There are also the snooty East Coast Republican intellectual types, such as Peggy Noonan, who look down their noses at a woman who doesn’t shop at Neiman Marcus and didn’t attend an Ivy League university. But Peggy made a fool of herself calling the election for Romney on Nov. 5. Who’s going to care what she and her ilk have to say next time?

Some Republicans will say Palin has too much baggage from 2008, and we need to look for a new Sarah Palin. But I don’t see what’s wrong with the one we’ve got. Ever since the 1990s, Republicans have been looking for the next Ronald Reagan. Reagan is now revered in bipartisan circles, but during his presidency he was, like Palin, ridiculed by liberals. They cited “Bedtime for Bonzo” and sneered at his no-name college degree.

Sarah Palin is the new Ronald Reagan: charming and affable and unwilling to back down if she’s right. I can’t see what’s wrong with that.

Charlotte Allen writes frequently about feminism, politics and religion.

I say: I agree! Pretty please…run her! (I can’t tell whether this Los Angeles Times editorial is satire or not because some journalists really argue this poorly.)

Shaming racists: someone set up a “rouge’s gallery” of racists who post racists rants on the internet. Good idea or no?

November 19, 2012 Posted by | politics, politics/social, racism, republicans, sarah palin | Leave a comment

I Oppose Bad Ideas….Hopefully I don’t oppose people.

Workout notes Yoga and an easy 4 mile run (43 minutes); once again the blackbirds left me alone. Did I offend them? 🙂

Religion can kill

Just read:

A cleric in Pakistan’s Punjab province has warned that a jihad would be launched against polio vaccination teams at a time when the World Health Organisation has expressed concern at the emergence of new cases of the disease across the country.

Maulvi Ibrahim Chisti of Muzaffargarh district declared the anti-polio campaign as “un-Islamic” and announced at the local mosque that jihad (holy war) should be carried out against the polio vaccination team.

Chisti made the remarks after finding out that a vaccination team had entered Khan Pur Bagga Sher area of Muzaffargarh and asked families to cooperate with the campaign.

The cleric went to the largest mosque in the area and declared that polio drops were “poison” and against Islam, The Express Tribune reported.

He warned that if the vaccination team forced anyone to participate in the campaign, then jihad was “the only option”.

As a result, the polio team returned to Muzaffargarh city without carrying out any immunisation and reported the matter to senior officials.

That is serious business. Superstition can be no laughing matter.

We sometimes see perhaps a more benign version here; I wonder how many girls were forced into a shotgun marriage because her parents didn’t believe in single motherhood and they didn’t want her to have an abortion (early term). No, I don’t have data; I haven’t looked it up. But still…I also wonder how many gay kids are rejected by their parents and family for the same reason?

Yes, you have the occasional kook who lets their kid die instead of giving them life saving medical treatment. The Muslim case is worse in that this denial is being enforced on a group by a cleric who is threatening the people who would be providing the care.

Hopefully I keep my fire aimed at what I think are bad ideas rather than at people themselves. Here is an example of what I mean:

I am no fan of Sarah Palin, but this….well…this can be aimed at anyone that one doesn’t like. It says nothing about what is bad about the person’s ideas.

I am happy to ridicule her ideas or the idea that she finds intellectual shallowness to be a virtue rather than a liability. For example, I found the Tina Fey parody to be hilarious.

In the upcoming months, I’ll probably be paying attention to much of what Mitt Romney says. I’ll attack, but hopefully I’ll attack his bad ideas and his political weaknesses (and give respect to his good ideas) but hopefully I’ll refrain from stuff like what is in the above photo.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Mitt Romney, politics, religion, running, sarah palin, superstition | Leave a comment

Two Books: Carter’s “Peace is Possible in the Holy Land” and McGinniss’ “The Rogue”

President Carter’s book
Here is an excerpt and here is a good review.

My take: the story was interesting; it gives a good synopsis of the problem and provides some of the details of the Camp David accord which lead to some Nobel Peace Prizes and peace between Egypt and Israel (who had fought several wars).

Also, Carter points out that the sides are not that far apart on the issues and gives a straight forward way forward…though this proposal is nothing new.

Alas, the irony here is that President Carter has “Holy Land” in his title and that is a big part of the problem. You have two populations of roughly the same size in one region…but unfortunately these people are hung up over the claim to the same set of ruins and rock piles…deemed to be “holy” by their texts of superstitions and myths.

I’ve never seen a better display of the toxicity of religion.

Joe McGinniss’s book on Sarah Palin
Ok, I picked this up at the used book store in the Lakeview Museum as I waited for the Venus transit.

Here is a good review.

What it is: basically, McGinniss interviewed a bunch of people about Sarah Palin and complied what they said. Sure, it was “fun” in a gossipy sort of way, but that is what it struck me as: gossip. Sure, there were some solid details on her service on the Alaska energy commission (it was a farce, but we already knew that), that she overreached in her trooper scandal (old news) and that she used her family as a prop (duh) and that she sunk her political career when she made the Gabriel Giffords assassination attempt about her.

But we knew all that. What is new: some say that she was a bad mother and uninterested in her kids, and he gave a long account about Trig’s birth…and wondered why the media didn’t examine that “story” more carefully.

I’ll let David Corn say what was on my mind:

McGinniss also does a fine job dissecting Palin’s associations with extreme Christian fundamentalism—territory other authors have previously excavated. Palin ran for mayor of Wasilla with one public issue: more bike paths. But McGinniss shows how her real agenda was to transform her town into an enclave of evangelism. When she campaigned for governor, McGinnis writes, “the hardest job her staff had was to keep her quiet about her religious beliefs.” He reports that after being elected governor she fired a group of minority state employees who had worked on her campaign. An aide (named) says, “Sarah just isn’t comfortable in the presence of dark-skinned people.” But what about Glen Rice?

Virtually anything negative one can say about a person who is not a murderer or genocidal war criminal is said about Palin in this book. Of course, that doesn’t make it untrue. Yet as I trekked along on McGinniss’ unrelenting death march to the bowels of Palin’s supposedly dark soul, at times I almost felt sorry for her. How many backstabbing “friends” can one person have? (One “friend” told McGinniss of a snowmobile trip that included both Todd and Sarah and allegedly involved a cocaine binge.) And how much wrath does any biographic subject deserve? At times, I wanted to reach for the hand sanitizer.

McGinniss is a journalist with a long, storied, and controversial career. Dialing back on the Palin-slamming might have yielded a better book—especially considering his run-in (or feud) with the Palin clan. The Rogue is must-cringe reading. It’s a book that puzzles as much as it enlightens. There’s a fine line between “wow!” and “really?”—and McGinniss is working both sides of that divide.

Too many times, McGinniss wrote out the conclusion for the reader instead of letting the reader make his/her own. The book sure read like a hatchet job and I am no more enlightened after reading the book than prior to reading it.

June 11, 2012 Posted by | 2008 Election, books, politics, sarah palin, world events | Leave a comment