blueollie

Evolution: trajectory to humans in 1 minute…

Via Jerry Coyne’s website:

Yes, this shows one evolutionary trajectory; the one that leads to humans …and for the time scales involved (via one of the comments)

June 21, 2015 Posted by | evolution, science | | Leave a comment

can you spot the tree frogs?

From Why Evolution is True; click on the photo to get to a large photo that you can view at WEIT; I could NOT have found the frogs without the blown up version of the photo:

find-the-tree-frogs

Don’t give up.

Here is the solution (again, I needed to look at the full size photo to find those froggies

June 14, 2015 Posted by | evolution, frogs, science | | Leave a comment

Suffocating Environment

Workout notes: weights plus a 1 mile treadmill run, 1 mile track walk (14:30 in the middle lane); last night I did a 3 mile walk/jog with the group.

Weights: 5 sets of 10 pull ups (ok)
Rotator cuff rests.
incline bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 145, 10 x 135
superset: standing dumbbell military, machine row, machine pull down: 3 sets of 10 each:
40 pound dumbbells, 110 row, 130, then 150, 150 machine pull down.

Run: sort of out of energy.

Political Correctness
Let me get this straight: I do NOT want to go back to the bad days of overt racial and sexual discrimination. I’d take NOW over yesteryear any day of the week; for example it makes me feel good to see more women at mathematics conferences and more women mathematics graduate students. Things ARE getting better.

Yes, we still have a ways to go. For example: yes, I really appreciate seeing female runners in spandex but I NEVER say anything to them, unless they are already friends and have brought it on themselves by teasing me first. Unfortunately, well, I cringed when I read this.

But overall, things are better; the large number of women at races proves this (at my first marathon, male finishers outnumbered female finishers 11 to 1!)

But progress comes with hiccups.

First of all, check out what some comedians are saying about playing college campuses (here and here)

Here is what I think is going on: when one learns a concept, it is human nature to look to apply that concept everywhere (the old saying: “you were just given a hammer, so now everything looks like a nail”). Hey, if our students make blunders on exams, why wouldn’t they screw up other concepts as well?

There is also the desire for approval and a “feedback effect”. Liberals recognize it when conservatives do it, but we are prone to this as well. It is almost as if one gets “cred” for being able to ferret out subtle sexism, racism and so on.

And, sometimes we might be too quick to call for someone’s head when their “infraction” really doesn’t warrant it. For example: a Nobel Laureate scientists said some truly unfortunate things; what he said WAS offensive. But there are degrees of being offensive. So while I was amused (in a good way) at the eyerolling mockery that some other scientists responded with, I wonder if some confused malice with just general cluelessness on his part.

But hey, now is the chance to feel superior to someone who is genuinely world class!

June 11, 2015 Posted by | running, science, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Sports Center, PC-ness, kids are NOT scientists, etc.

I’ve often heard that “children are natural scientists” followed by our schools taking that out of them. Frankly, that is nonsense. Science is hard and often counterintuitive as Adam Rutherford writes:

But evolution is not obvious at all, and it took thought and experiment and hard tenacious graft to reveal that truth. The real structure of the universe – the atomic, subatomic and quantum – was concealed from our eyes for all but the tiniest fragment of our tenure on Earth. We humans are awful at perceiving objective reality. We come with inbuilt preconceptions and prejudices. We’re dreadful at logic, and see patterns in things that are not there, and skip over trends that are. We attribute cause and agency to chance and coincidence, and blame the innocent as the root of all manner of evil. We use the phrase “common sense” as an admirable quality for scrutinising the world in front of us.

If this all sounds misanthropic, it’s not. Blind, directionless evolution gave us the gumption and the tools to frown at what we see, and ask if it really is how things are. Science is quite the opposite of common sense.

Our senses and psychology perceive the world in very particular ways that are comically easy to fool.
Common sense deceives us all the time: the horizon tells me the Earth is flat; people seem to get better after taking homeopathic pills; spiders are dangerous; a cold snap ridicules global warming. Of course, it is tricky to challenge someone’s opinion successfully if it is based on their learned experience. But that is exactly what science is for. It is to extract human flaws from reality; it is to set aside the bias that we lug around. Our senses and psychology perceive the world in very particular ways that are comically easy to fool. But the great strength of science is that it recognises the human fallibility that cripples our view of the universe. The scientific method attempts to remove these weaknesses.

This needs to be taught; it does NOT come naturally.

Yes, kids are naturally curious but undisciplined exploration will usually lead to nonsense.

But children are not scientists. As ever, anything of value comes with effort, not by grace. Science is a particular way of thinking, not beset but enabled by doubt, and it comes from teaching.

Double Standards Part I
When does a teacher get light punishment for seducing and raping a student? Answer: when the perpetrator is female and the victim is male:

Erica Ann Ginnetti, 35, was arrested in January in Lower Moreland after police were tipped off when the victim showed photos and videos of the woman to his classmates. According to court records, the photos included images of Ginnetti in a bikini, and others in just her underwear or thong. A video sent to the teen showed her undressing in a “sexually charged manner.”

The teacher and student were in frequent contact in July 2013, after the two had sex in her car parked at an industrial park.

Ginnetti pleaded guilty last year to sexual assault and disseminating sexually explicit materials. The maximum sentence for the two crimes was seven to 14 years behind bars, Philly.com reports. Instead, Judge Garrett D. Page gave the woman just 30 days of jail time. Ginnetti will also have to register as a sex offender.

But..think about it. Somehow, male on female rape is…”scarier”; the act can be done aggressively and penetration is asymmetrical. The above: well, it does sound creepy and “yucky” and I can see how it can cause emotional and psychological harm.

Riots
Kentucky basketball fans are “heartbroken” that their team had to “settle” for a 38-1 season and a Final Four appearance (sounds wildly successful to me…but I digress).

So some of them (predictably) rioted and burned things:

Thirty-one people were arrested after Kentucky fans set fires in Lexington, police said, after the Wildcats’ undefeated streak came to a stunning end at the hands of Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament Saturday.

Sporadic fires were seen being set as the large crowd, chanting anti-Wisconsin slogans, gathered on State Street, which is adjacent to the University of Kentucky’s Lexington Campus.

Lexington Police Department spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said the crowd set fire to multiple objects, while a number of people were injured — some of whom were transported to a local hospital for treatment. None of the injuries were serious, Roberts said.

I don’t see anyone defending this behavior, but I miss the widespread statements about “those people” being “thugs”.

Double Standard: the “N-word” and its use.

We see white students widely condemned and expelled for use of this word (I think that the expulsions are improper, by the way).

Now a black student uses it…and it gets noted but no big deal is made of it. And yes, the black player uses it when referring to a white player?

A reporter asked Karl-Anthony Towns a question about Frank Kaminsky during Kentucky’s press conference after its Final Four loss to Wisconsin, and Andrew Harrison appeared to mutter a snide remark under his breath.

He’s frustrated, he’s heartbroken, and he probably never would’ve said this if he thought anybody could hear him. But still. Those mics are very, very sensitive!

Harrison apologized on Twitter early Sunday morning and said he called Kaminsky to wish him luck in the final.

A satire site made fun of this: (and anyone who doesn’t think that the Wisconsin basketball team is athletic has rocks in their head)

wetoldyousocfmb

But you know what? In my opinion, this is a case of a frustrated, heartboken young man letting “locker room” talk slip out in public. To me, this really indicates that he saw the Wisconsin player as another basketball player; just another member of the larger basketball fraternity. This isn’t the PR that the public likes, but I doubt that this is a big deal to the athletes.

This is similar to what Colin Kaepernick said:

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Kaepernick used the N-word last week when he was penalized. In the Levi’s Stadium locker room after the game, Houston told the Tribune he didn’t hear anything.

Now that Glazer’s report has been out there –- though denied by Kaepernick -– Houston confirmed that is what happened.

“He was just saying inappropriate language,” Houston told the Tribune on Monday night at MetLife Stadium. He said Kaepernick cursed at him, including using the N-word.

Asked if he was insulted, Houston said it’s more a “cultural thing.” Houston reiterated that he incensed Kaepernick on the play by saying “nice pass” at the end of a Kyle Fuller interception.

Humor
This is Sportcenter:

sportscenter

April 6, 2015 Posted by | basketball, big butts, butt, racism, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Short videos that I never get tired of watching

Basketball: Larry Bird Scores 60

Football

Social issues

Bus Fights

Animals

Movies

Humor:
Monty Python:

Larry David

Honest Best Man Speech

Easter Egg Hunt

Career Builder ads

Cartoons
Foghorn Leghorn gets his wave function collapsed

Other (possibly NSFW; some sexual humor)

Friends try on tights (gluteal nudity).

April 4, 2015 Posted by | basketball, butt, evolution, football, morons, movies, religion, republicans, science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Do not mess with a male who is with his female!

Given how slow my training walk was today (1:15 for 5.1 miles…albeit very hilly miles…glorious morning)…I WISH my time were an April Fools joke, but it is sadly very real.

well a post about tortoises is appropriate. Never mess with a guy with his woman!

Yes, it is April 1. My smallest class pranked me by sitting in the classroom with the lights turned off..and sitting on the back row so I couldn’t see them from the hall way..until I entered the room. I kind of guessed what they were up to as I walked to the room as they are very punctual and very consistent.

April 2, 2015 Posted by | nature, science, walking | | Leave a comment

Reality: rams, Keynesians, winters, US history, epigenetics and bigotry

I am enjoying a chilly, “when in the heck is spring going to arrive” day by watching women’s basketball on television (NCAA Sweet 16) and blogging. Eating Indian food with Barbara saved me from watching the horrible 105-54 pasting that Connecticut laid on Texas.

The way that Connecticut plays reminds me a bit of the way the better NBA teams played in the 1970’s: lots of ball movement, efficiency and little wasted motion. They look as if they are loafing even while playing fast; they are just cool, calm, collected and ruthlessly efficient.

But the race for spots in the Final Four is interesting.

Reality
This farmer talks about rams and how violent they are:

Do not try to run away from an attacking ram. He can outrun you. If you watch two bucks about to deliver orgasms to each other, they will face off and take a few steps backwards. Then they charge, colliding head on with enough collective force to make an anvil bleed. Then they quiver with pleasure and do it again.

So when you see your buck start to back away from you, walk towards him. I mean go right at him. Almost always this is confusing to a buck and he will keep backing away for awhile and might lose interest in killing you. This can give you time to get closer to a fence or a tractor. If you can get to an immovable object like a tree, all you have to do is keep it between you and the ram. Then he can’t do his classic charge and soon tires of the game.

Otherwise, like out in the middle of a field, he will eventually quit backing up at your advance and attack. Stand your ground. This takes a great deal of nerve the first time. But at the last second before he butts you, he will lift himself on his hind legs to give his forward motion extra pile-driver strength. Up on his hind legs, he can only lunge straight ahead. He can’t turn. So when he lunges, all you have to do is step sideways, quickly of course, and his momentum carries him past you. This maneuver is quite effective and it is almost comical to see how puzzled the ram will be when all he collides with is thin air. If you are young and strong, this is the moment when you grab him, twist his head around backwards, set him on his ass like you were going to shear him, and pummel the living hell out of him. Some shepherds say this will only make him meaner but in my experience, he will act like a gentleman for about a month. Or will absorb enough fear of the Lord so that when you see him backing up the next time, a warning yell will make him stop short and decide it is more fun to go eat hay.

If you are not young and strong, you should only be out with the flock in the pasture if you are riding a tractor or other vehicle. I have often wondered what would happen if a ram decided to dispute his territory with a four wheeler. I’m afraid that the four-wheeler would come off second best.

He isn’t kidding:

Science

Epigenetics (that changes can be passed along without there being changes in the genome) is important, but it isn’t “revolutionizing biology”:

This sounds both liberating and terrifying at the same time: Our destinies are not fixed by our genes, and yet much of what we do and experience could have a profound effect on the biological make-up of ourselves and our children. But the hype has outrun the science. As one group wrote last year, “scientific hyperbole rarely generates the level of professional and personal prescriptions for health behavior that we are now seeing in epigenetics.” Many of the boldest claims being made about the relationship between epigenetics, health, and our environment are based only on evidence from animal studies, and thus are, at best, premature. In fact, much of the recent research in epigenetics hasn’t turned up anything fundamentally new.

Scientists have long been aware that our genes aren’t chiseled in stone—they are in a constant dialogue with our environment. The epigenetic marking up of our DNA, discovered decades ago, is a key part of how that dialogue takes place. And while these marks are an important feature of our biology, the biggest flaw in many of the claims being made about epigenetics is that they confuse cause with effect.

Epigenetic marks are a consequence of changes in the activity of our genes in response to our health, our environment, and our social experiences, but they are not the underlying cause of those changes. There is no reason to believe that drugs, treatments, or health advice that target these DNA markings will be unusually effective compared to therapies that aren’t specifically epigenetic.

While epigenetics is rife with hype, there is at least one advantage to all of the attention this field is getting: People are recognizing just how profoundly our physical and social environment can affect our biology.

Now I believe that science is important to our society and evidently, so did early Americans:

But what’s nice about it is what Will imparted in his email:

The interesting part is the motto on the coin: “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry”. Now we all know that the “In God We Trust” motto is a relatively recent innovation, but I was surprised to find (although I shouldn’t have been) that the founders rated science as one of the boons of liberty. And nary a mention of the creator. Just another little nail in the coffin of “America founded as a Christian nation.” I’ve attached the image.

Sure enough, on the face it clearly says “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry”. If Republicans had their way, it would have said, “Liberty, Offspring of God.”

first-penny-1

According to CNN

The coin, known as the “Birch Cent,” was made in 1792, months after the one-cent denomination was first authorized by Congress, according to the auction house Stack’s Bowers Galleries.
It was made in a trial run for the penny, and depicts Lady Liberty. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington discussed the design in letters dated August 1792, before it was presented to Congress as an option for the new coin.

Bigotry I feel good about this: some very wealthy, powerful CEOs are taking stands against Indiana’s “freedom to discriminate against gays” law. Though the law is a setback, we are winning the social war.

Social and economy

This is interesting: some people are saying that Paul Krugman isn’t a “real Keynesian” because

Brad DeLong points me to Lars Syll declaring that I am not a “real Keynesian”, because I use equilibrium models and don’t emphasize the instability of expectations.

One way to answer this is to point out that Keynes said a lot of things, not all consistent with each other. (The same is true for all of us.) Right at the beginning of the General Theory, Keynes explains the “principle of effective demand” with a little model of temporary equilibrium that takes expectations as given. If that kind of modeling is anti-Keynesian, the man himself must be excommunicated. […]

If you can show me any useful advice given by those sniping at me and other for our failure to be proper Keynesians, I’ll be happy to take it under consideration. If you can’t, then we’re just doing literary criticism here, and I’m not interested.

I’ll bet that the person making this claim is religious, which explains why that person might cling to an economic dogma even among a ton of contrary evidence.

And speaking of contrary evidence: this is Krugman’s part II of “air conditioning lead to the growth of the south, not Republican economic policies”; here he shows a correlation of population growth with January temperatures:

As I pointed out the other day, this long-term movement toward the sun, in turn, probably has a lot to do with the gradual adjustment to air conditioning.

And as I also pointed out, the search for mild winters can lead to a lot of spurious correlations. With the exception of California — which has mild winters but also, now, has very high housing prices — America’s warm states are very conservative. And that’s not an accident: warm states were also slave states and members of the Confederacy, and a glance at any election map will tell you that in US politics the Civil War is far from over.

The point, then, is that these hot red states also tend to be low-minimum-wage, low-taxes-on-the-wealthy jurisdictions. And that opens the door to sloppy and/or mendacious claims that low wages and taxes are driving their growth.

This really shouldn’t even be controversial — I think it’s kind of obvious.

He also posts more data about air conditioning: from 1900 to 1970 the south’s share of the population dropped. It started to gain in 1980, right when widespread home air conditioning grew.

Now, of course, both of these points could be correlation and not causation.

But of interest to me was this remark:

If you’re wondering why I’m doing posting so much on a Saturday, I’m housebound with a cold, so why not?

What? This happens to Nobel Laureates too? :-)

March 28, 2015 Posted by | economics, economy, nature, politics, politics/social, religion, science, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Wet walk, climate change and women’s basketball

Today: I walked; I figured that I need to walk more. I did the hilly Cornstalk 5.1 course in 1:11:54 (14:05 mpm pace); it was overcast, dark and a bit slippery.

Climate change Last night I went to hear Harold Brooks speak: he is a NOAA scientist. He spoke about thunderstorms and climate change.

Of interest:

1. When it comes to rain, the total volume hasn’t changed much. BUT the way we get it has; we get a higher percentage of it from strong storms.
2. When it comes to thunderstorms, wind shear and available energy are the two big factors. Climate change has reduced the former and increase the latter; these are competing effects.
3. The models are pretty much in agreement as to what will happen (over time) during the winter, spring and fall. What is open is what will happen during the summer: more storms? Fewer? Wet? Drought? No one knows and the models can’t reach even a tentative conclusion.

Women’s basketball

Yes, there is a huge difference between the great powers and those lower seeds in the NCAA tournament. Attendance at the games isn’t so great either, but part of the reason might be the unusual start times.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | basketball, science, walking | , | Leave a comment

Finally, something to write about: p-values, venting about college students

First my workout: This was my first weight workout in about 2 weeks and I felt it.

Pull ups: 4 sets of 10, 2 sets of 5. Quality: ok, not stellar. Rotator cuff
bench press: 10 x 135, 1 x 180, 5 x 160 (pathetic) (rotator cuff)
incline press: 7 x 135 (bad)
standing military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbells (weak)

It was a start, but it was rather bad.

Running went marginally better: treadmill, 0.5 incline, started at 5.3 mph and increased by 0.1 every 1/4 mile
2 miles in 21:18, 3 in 30:55, 4 in 39:47 (last 5 minutes at 7 mph)
Yes, I coughed afterward, but this time only for 2-3 minutes or so, instead of 10. It IS getting better, albeit more slowly than I’d like.
After the workout weight (dr. scale): 176.0

Basically, I was weaker with the weights than with the run. The swim is going to be UGLY tomorrow.

Posts

There is some chatter among professors about the appropriateness of calling out certain types of student behavior. The old model is that this is somewhat untoward as “professors had more power than the students”. But things have changed; often the professors are adjunct professors with little real power and these-a-days there is a tendency for administration to use student evaluations to evaluate the professors (at least at the more teaching oriented places).

I see something else going on here:

explain-these-bad-grades

The above refers to grade school. But in the college setting, replace the parents with deans, administrators or even professors from departments that are desperate to retain their students.

There is where the tension comes from. Most professors expect 18-20 year old students to…well, behave like 18-20 year old students. Getting undermined from other parts of the same campus is very irritating and it happens too many times (though not all of the time..at least right now).

P-values
You may have read things like “most of the newly reported science results are wrong” and this is because, well, one is more likely to report a positive finding, and many positive findings are honestly done false positives. So, one psychology journal has decided to prohibit the reporting of p-values in its articles. That makes no sense to me, and evidently it makes no sense to some scientists and statisticians either.

March 5, 2015 Posted by | education, running, science, statistics, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Submarines: cost effective?

Big data is making is possible for navies to approach anti-submarine warfare differently; will it soon become non-cost-effective to use submarines, or should they be used differently? Here is an interesting article on this subject:

In a piece for TNI, the report’s author, Bryan Clark, lays out the problem in more layman’s terms:

Since the Cold War submarines, particularly quiet American ones, have been considered largely immune to adversary A2/AD capabilities. But the ability of submarines to hide through quieting alone will decrease as each successive decibel of noise reduction becomes more expensive and as new detection methods mature that rely on phenomena other than sounds emanating from a submarine. These techniques include lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods that detect submarine wakes or (at short ranges) bounce laser or light-emitting diode (LED) light off a submarine hull. The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, “big data” processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques. As they become more prevalent, they could make some coastal areas too hazardous for manned submarines.

Could modern attack subs soon face the same problem as surface combatants around the world, where some areas are simply too dangerous to enter, thanks to pressing A2/AD challenges?

One possible future use of submarines is interesting: use them as underwater drone carriers!

February 20, 2015 Posted by | science, technology | | Leave a comment

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