Back to School: a world I do not understand anymore (K-12)

Someone posted this video about a mom complaining about school drop offs.

I was like: “drop off”? Then I went back to my own school days. Yes, I went to my neighborhood school. So during most of my years, I walked. The exception was when I lived in Japan when I lived on one base and the school was on another base; then we (usually) took the bus…though on rare occasion, I walked (and sometimes attracted some buddies to walk with me..crazy)

BUT..I rarely lived more than a mile away from the school and it wasn’t as if I had dangerous roads to cross. And for the past 2 years of my high school, I had a nature preserve to walk through!

Here are other things that I do NOT remember:

1. Help with my homework. Or for that matter..much homework at all.

2. Being pressured into fundraiser sales for this or that (though we did sometimes have book sales and those dumb school photos)

3. My parents interacting with the teachers that much. Yes, they did attend PTA conferences and the like. Oh..and neither of these were true; when it came to grades, my parents left me alone.

And yes, my parents stayed out of class selections as well.

4. “Graduation”. Yes, we had high school graduation exercises, but that was IT. No junior high, elementary school or other such scams.

5. College applications: on my own..just me, the school counselor’s office and some catalogs, and that was it. Ok, between my junior and senior year I did do a couple of highly subsidized “week long” seminars…but then I either flew on my own or took a bus on my own (parents paid for the ticket).

My experience was just so much different than what you see now. I think that it worked out better for me, but who knows? My experience is an experiment where n = 1.

Workout notes 4 mile walk outside (Cornstalk classic) then 2 miles in lane 1 on the track: 1 on, 1 off for 14 laps and last 2 “fast” (less glacial?)

My first half mile was just under 6:30 then 12:40/12:12. I felt great. No weights; I’ll do that tomorrow and go a bit longer since I won’t be able to lift Friday-Monday.

Weight: 195.2 with shoes and shirt, AFTER the 4 miles outside (I didn’t get that sweaty). The trend is in the right direction. I’ll still be heavier than I like for my marathon though.

I did catch a ball game last night; Chiefs lost to the Lumberkings 5-3. Weird game: Chiefs got a home run on the first pitch! Then another in the second (big rookie from TCU went 3 for 4, and his home run cleared the white picket fence in the berm) and the Chiefs lead 3-0 after 2. But then things went south.

In the 3’rd, Clinton got a hit and the runner advanced on a fielder’s choice. Then a strike out so 2 outs, runner on second. No problem, right? Oops.
Then the pitcher walks two batters in a row…and on the third batter with the bases full, throws 3 consecutive balls (for 7 balls in a row!). Then he grooves the ball down the middle..POW, grand slam. The Lumberkings now have a 4-3 lead, off of exactly 2 hits.

The starting pitcher did ok the rest of the way, though the Lumberkings did catch a break in the 7’th: a bad throw to first rebounded into play and the runner was thrown out trying to advance to 2’nd. Should have been “out 3”. But the umpires ruled that the ball was out of play so the runner was awarded 2’nd. Then he scored on a subsequent hit to make it 5-3, which is how it ended.

That is one thing about the Cardinals (Chiefs are a Cardinals affiliate): they promote their players. Many of the players who started the season got well deserved promotions. Now there is quite a bit of young talent on this team, including one guy who was playing high school ball earlier this year and two who were playing college ball. But it is young talent and they haven’t played together that much yet. So we might see some losses.

Sort of sticky tonight. Still, not bad. Lumberkings vs. Chiefs game 4.

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Not all are interested.

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There was a group of 4-5 drunken men behind me and they razzed the visitors a bit..and sometimes the Chiefs. That is different than what I’ve experienced recently..more more in line with what I grew up with (as a player and as a fan).

August 15, 2018 Posted by | baseball, education, social/political, walking | , | Leave a comment

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

Lying while remaining factual: yes, they fall for it!

From time to time, I like to entertain myself by telling clever lies. Here are a couple:

“Playing basketball makes you tall; just look at how tall they players are!”

“Hospitals should be banned; after all, statistically speaking, those outside of hospitals are much healthier than hospital inpatients!”

I teased my wife: “even if you correct for sex and age, those who train with a personal trainer in the gym are not as strong as those who train without one.”

My wife remarked that “those who took Building Steam (the program to train newbie runners) finished the 4 mile race slower than runners who didn’t use that program.” (I have not checked this, but it is highly likely that it is true).

But you often see this in politics. Get a load at what Trump is posting:

And there are (at least) three types of reactions that disgust me.

1. People who know what they are doing but post this anyway because they know many people will “buy it”.

2. People who see it and believe that this really is evidence that Trump is doing better.

3. People who are skeptical but assume that, well, the numbers must be wrong (they aren’t). Ok, this disgusts me a bit less than 1 or 2.

Now Dear Reader, there is no need for me to explain it to you, but in the event that you want to explain it to others: here are graphs of the Dow Jones index, GDP and the jobs graphs. They all show what happened: President Obama inherited a recession and it took a bit of time to dig out of it whereas Trump inherited an economy that was on the upswing.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | economy, political/social, social/political | , | 1 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

Random thoughts (all over the map)

I am nearing the end of summer break and am going over the diagrams for a paper that I’ll be submitting in 3 week’s time. This means: finishing research, starting on my next project, preparing for class, taking a look at search committee stuff, etc.

Though I have been paying attention to politics, I find much of the discussion to be depressing.

On one hand, the Republicans have gotten their people, including those conservatives that do not like Trump, to trust only conservative media sources (e. g., Fox News). So many really believe, say, that Trump is doing better than any past POTUS over the past 40 years (in terms of GDP growth) ..and this is based on, well, one strong quarter of growth being extrapolated. Of course, the growth might well have been due to businesses preparing for the trade wars and a one-time bump.

But try getting them to even read a graph, much less accept that it is a true one.

But being “sure” is not limited to “their team.” I know that issues are complicated and have many facets to them. Nevertheless, so many, including those who vote the way that I do, are just so “SURE” of things.
When one wants to “speak the truth” one has to actually KNOW “the truth” and few are experts on ANYTHING much less experts on everything.

I just find it astonishing that I have so many doubts about things that I’ve thought hard about, and so many others appear to have no doubts at all.

Sports: I still am in “baseball” mode but I just made my annual purchase of football magazines. I’ll be coming up with predictions soon and, of course, I plan to make a few games. I have season tickets for Illinois but hope to make a few Illinois State games, and perhaps a couple of Bears and 3-4 Colts games.

I did read about Texas football getting ready to make a 175 million dollar renovation to their football stadium. Yes, no tuition funds or tax payer funds will be used..and yes, the University of Texas has that kind of fund raising power. This means that, well…the kind of win/loss records we have seen over the past 5 years is unacceptable: 8-5, 6-7, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 = 31-32. Contrast that with, say, Iowa: 8-5, 7-6, 12-2, 8-5, 8-5 = 43-23.

But doesn’t Texas have more money, a bigger stadium, bigger following and bigger drawing power than Iowa? Well, it might just be that the money might actually be counter productive at times. After all, big donors EXPECT to have some say in the program right? But said donors don’t necessarily know all that much about football. Big money can be a two edged sword.

Well, more on football later.

And there is still quite a bit of baseball to play and, who knows..perhaps some Cornbelter playoff ball too?

Workout notes: weights then 5 miles of walking.

weights: 15-15-10-10 pull ups, incline: 10 x 135, 6 x 150, decline: 6 x 170, military (standing dumbbell) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, Hammer machine: 10 x 140, rows: dumbbell: 2 sets of 10 x 50, 10 x 110 machine. Then the walk: 5K on the track 1 easy (13:36, 13:01, 12:15 (38:52), 40:41 for 25 laps.The faster miles were 1 on, 1 off, but the last 2 laps of mile 3 were done hard. Then 2 more outside.

Later: yoga, got 2:15 of plank before class. Did abs; this was one of Vickie’s harder routines.

August 9, 2018 Posted by | baseball, college football, economy, NFL, political/social, politics, social/political, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Controversial thoughts (to some)

I think that I do better when I stick to talking to individuals about events. Sure, there are some that I just never discuss current events with.

I was thinking about civility (and other topics) and someone mentioned my speaking against “deplatforming” a public speaker at a university.

I should be clear as to what I meant:

1. Of course, not all ideas have intellectual merit.
2. And of course, a university should take pains that material taught in a course is valid. For example, a biology professor who taught creationism *as a valid intellectual idea* should be fired for incompetence.
3. And I am NOT talking about some open free speech area on campus, where one person has just as much right to be there as anyone else. No one is entitled to a friendly audience.

What I am talking about is, say, some controversial speaker at an approved campus speaker being shouted down or rudely interrupted and prevented from speaking, such as this:

Note: holding signs at the back or sides of the room is doesn’t prevent attendees from being able to listen. Nor is it wrong to ask tough questions during the question and answer period.

My beefs are these:

1. If an idea is bad or immoral, I am fully capable of coming to that conclusion without the help of “activists”. They have no right to censor what *I* am there to hear.

2. These “activists” aren’t changing anyone’s mind; they are making themselves look like jerks and perhaps gaining some sympathy for the speaker.

I’ll give an example of a case that had a happy ending: many years ago I went to a talk at a Unitarian church about the book The Bell Curve. The speaker was a psychology professor; he was explaining the arguments in the book (and yes, there are things in the book that its detractors do not realize is there..for example, affirmative action is DEFENDED in the book…to a point)

Now, some “activist” showed up and tried to stop the speaker..claiming he was like the “KKK”. Fortunately other church members shut the activist up and the talk continued.

Afterward, there were some tough questions and remarks that came from some very capable people, including from a professor of genetics. Those really exposed the genuine weaknesses in the book’s arguments (and they were there).

And that leads to 3

3. “Activists” disrupting one of these talks effectively shuts down more competent competing ideas/dissent from far more competent people.

I find it ironic that I was thinking about this when I read this article about …well, perpetually angry people not being as smart as they think that they are. If the shoe fits…

Workout notes: gentle 2 mile run (21:57) on the treadmill after weights; usual PT, usual miserable planks, headstands, back stuff.

pull ups (15-15-10-10), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 8 x 170, incline: 10 x 135, military: standing 10 x 50, 10 x 45, Hammer machine: 10 x 140, rows: 2 sets of 10 x 50 single arm, 10 x 120 machine.

Now back to my diagrams.

August 6, 2018 Posted by | running, social/political, weight training | Leave a comment

Hiding Facts in Books…

This was one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while:

But mark my words: in 1-2 decades time, we will have academic deans saying this.

Think about it: twitter. Facebook. Youtube. Sometimes, magazine articles or newspaper articles are considered “long reads”. Oh boy…what happens when we have to grasp some nuanced concept that requires quite a bit of background to be understood?

August 4, 2018 Posted by | books, education, 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