In defense of “Safe Spaces” (of a type)

Ok, let me make it clear what I am not defending: while I understand male/female bathrooms and locker rooms, I do not approve of having a university sanctioned area where only men, or women, or someone of a specific race are allowed.

What I am talking about: voluntarily limiting one’s social circle when it comes to certain things.

Here is one instance: usually, I make it a point to never discuss mathematics except with other mathematically inclined people (mathematicians or experienced STEM field people).

Reason: I teach for a living, and correcting someone’s elementary error is not a pleasant exercise for me, especially when they try to insist that they are right.

This is not how I want to spend my “off work” time.

I broke my rule of thumb, and paid a small price. Here it is:

Prove: 1 = 2.

x^2 - x^2 = x^2 - x^2 Ok, true enough.

x(x-x) = (x+x)(x-x) Yes, this is true: (x+x)(x-x) = (x(x-x) + x(x-x)) = x^2 -x^2 +x^2 - x^2 = x^2 - x^2 . Yes, this also equals 2x^2 - 2 x^2 .

Now that we have x(x-x) = (x+x)(x-x) Cancel an x-x factor on each side.

This gives x = 2x which leads to 1=2 after cancelling the x.

Of course, this is wrong; we were not allowed to divide both sides by x-x as that is zero.

But someone tried to tell me that iwas ok to divide by zero even if the numerator did NOT go to zero…Oh boy.

February 27, 2017 Posted by | mathematics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

What does “fair” mean?

I’ve frequently heard “that is not fair”. So, what does “fair” mean, aside from a technical definition (e. g. “fair ball” in baseball). This is one of those concepts that I might THINK that I “know it when I see it”, but when I try to think about it carefully, I drive myself batty.

I think that “unfairness” can be easy to spot, at times. Example: I grade calculus exams and two students say \int x dx = \frac{1}{2}x^2 and I deliberately do not count off for the missing “+ C” on one student’s paper and take off a point on the other paper. But other judgements of “fairness” are trickier …far trickier. Example: is it fair that, at times, I get a medal at a running race whereas someone who ran faster than I did did not get a medal (think: “age groups”). Before you answer: remember that not all humans age at the same rate, running ability is largely determined by genetic factors (though, of course, training counts too), etc.

Anyhow, that is my “useless thing to ponder” for the day.

Workout notes: treadmill: 20 minutes of 5.2-5.6 (every 4 minutes) then I did 2.5 minutes on, 2.5 minutes off, jogging all of the off periods, except for the final 2, at 5.3-5.5 mpm. On: 6.7-6.7-6.8-6.8-6.9-6.8-6.9-6.8. I did about 1-1:30 of walking during the final 2 “off” periods. Then jog to get to 6 miles in 1:02:10, 10K in 1:04:30. Then 16 laps on the Riverplex track in 27:40 (just over 2 miles) walking; cute incentives to lap other walkers. 🙂

February 26, 2017 Posted by | running, social/political, walking | Leave a comment

Social media and who you talk to…

Social media is a weird thing. This tweet, which I retweeted, generated quit a bit of discussion:

Ok, it was one conservative and 4 liberals. But that isn’t what struck me as odd.

There were 4 ultra athletes on the thread, including 3 of us who have finished a 100 mile footrace in less than 24 hours (Rob (walker) and Frederick (runner)) are way, way better at it than I am/was.

And there were two lawyers, two Bradley graduates (and one Bradley professor who has 33 hours of BU academic credit), and at least two STEM field types.

By the way, Linda’s point was correct; she was talking about the Dakota access pipeline and that pipe is mostly built; very few jobs at stake (in terms of actually MAKING the pipeline).

Workout notes 14:30 mpm 4 mile “Cornstalk classic” walk then leg weights: 6 sets of 6 squats (25, 4 x 45, 2 x 50 dumbbell goblet) set of 10 leg presses with 230. And yes, it is starting to get easier; the time is soon coming (I hope) where I’ll actually develop some leg/butt strength?

February 24, 2017 Posted by | energy, Friends, social/political | Leave a comment

One fundamental tension in my life

It seems that on most issues, I have a tension between what is “right on the spread sheet” and moral values.


This is a good example of this.

On one hand: I believe that, for the most part, that parents are to blame for “hungry children”. Yes, yes, I know, sometimes things like lay-offs, domestic violence, accident, diseases can put otherwise responsible parents into bad situations. So, there should be safety nets. But many times, kids are the outcome of outrageously irresponsible behavior, as many studies, including this one done by a liberal, show. So the people to do something about childhood hunger are the goddamned parents.

But such sentiments are rarely expressed in liberal circles…


When it comes to school, we spend a lot of time and money trying to improve teaching and student learning. “What will help the students learn”? And we spend money on computers, books, desks, etc.

And what is one thing that will help the kids learn? Well, no. 1 is ensuring that they are fed and aren’t spending time thinking about their being hungry. So, for pedagogical reasons, school breakfasts and lunches ARE a wise investment!!!

So ultimately, I favor them and consider the money to be money well spent; the outcome outweighs any disgust that I have.

Workout notes

Weights then my 2 mile treadmill run (ok, 2.04 miles in 20 minutes): 5.2-5.6 (every 2) then 6.7-6.9 (every 2:30), 7, 7.1 for the last minute.

Prior: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10)
bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 8 x 170
incline press: 3 sets with the Hammer machine (2 sets of 5, one of 10 with lighter weight)
military press: ONE rep with 50, set of 10 with 40 (dumbbell), 3 sets with the Hammer machine (2 sets of 5 with 90 each arm, 1 set of 10 with 70)
abs: 2 sets of 12 twist crunch 10 leg lifts, then headstand. Getting into head stand was hard today, but I stuck with it and got it.

My back: somewhat sore at times today; it is not quite well yet.

February 24, 2017 Posted by | politics/social, running, social/political, weight training | , | Leave a comment

The liberal way

There was a recent article about Fitbit and how its use did NOT seem to make people fitter, in general:

The trial took place at the University of Pittsburgh between 2010 and 2012, and it involved more than 470 adults between the ages of 18 and 35. All of them were put on a low-calorie diet, had group counseling sessions and were advised to increase their physical activity. Six months into the intervention, all were given telephone counseling sessions, text-message prompts and study materials online.

At that time, though, half were also given wearable tech devices that monitored their activity and connected to a website to help provide feedback. All participants were followed for 18 more months.

At the end of the two years, which is pretty long for a weight loss study, those without access to the wearable technology lost an average of 13 pounds. Those with the wearable tech lost an average of 7.7 pounds.

It’s hard for many to accept, so I’m going to state the results again: Those people who used the wearable tech for 18 months lost significantly less weight than those who didn’t.

You may rightfully point out that the primary reason to wear the devices isn’t to lose weight — it’s to be more active. But even in this respect, it didn’t work nearly as well as we might hope. In the IDEA trial, those who employed the technology were no more physically active than those who didn’t. They also weren’t more fit.

Now this is a very narrow demographic (18 to 35) and most of the people that I talk to or who use this are considerably older than 35 years old. And yes, one of the fans of the fitbit is wife. Nevertheless, Paul Krugman weighed in:

Notice: instead of panning a study that gave a counterintuitive result, he looked for other reasons as to why HIS individual experience might have been different. That’s the liberal way.

Now about the other people: People have been showing up at town halls and letting their members of Congress, often Republicans, hear from them. Democracy in action, right? Uh..


That’s pathetic, Mr. President.

Weather and workouts

Was it warm today, by “February in Illinois” standards. Evidently, we aren’t alone. We are having “April/May” stuff right now.

I took advantage to walk a hilly 5K at 14:27 mpm (Bradley Hill course). That was after weights:

rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, good), bench press (dumbbell) 10 x 70, 10 x 75, incline press: 10 x 135 (hips planted), military press: 10 x 50, 45, 40 (dumbbell), machine rows (10 x 110, 3 sets).
abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

lots of free squats; then 5 x 45, 4 sets of 5 x 50 dumbbell goblet, 10 x 230 leg press. Butt is getting stronger.

Right shoulder: slightly sore; back; ache came back briefly while lying down.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | health care, political/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Hurting the feeeeelings of Trump supporters…

Yes, I want my professional politicians to take pains to be civil to all of their constituents, including those that did not vote for them. Yes, our current President does NOT do this; he sets the worst example I’ve seen in a senior political leader.

But not I am seeing “are liberals helping Trump” type statements and these arguments are being taken seriously by those I respect. It seems to go something like this: “well, a small percentage of those who voted for Trump are having second thoughts but the liberal meanies are keeping them in the Trump camp”.

And a small percentage it is, as 87 percent of Republicans approve of his job performance (Gallup, as of 19 February).

So, is there evidence that liberal snarkiness toward Trump supporters is hurting? I do not see it. Think of it this way: did the open white hot hatred that many conservatives displayed toward Obama and his supporters hurt them?

Now before you say “yes but”: yes, I agree that most Trump supporters are NOT evil, stupid people. I do think that many simply didn’t know any better and that some simply voted for the tax cuts, thinking all of the incompetence and corruption would not matter that much.

Some, I think, are gullible (hint: coal and big time manufacturing are NOT coming back).

In any event, my problem with Trump is his deportment, his thoughtlessly saying false stuff, and frankly his apparent incompetence for this type of job (and apparent violation of the “you can’t profit off of your office” rule in the Constitution. Policy: well, the Republicans won; my ideas lost. That happens..we should have run a better campaign.

But I am not going to tell my friends that they should act like political operatives 24/7…not that it would do any good.

Sure, writing or saying “If you voted for Trump, you are evil and I hate you” isn’t going to change any minds but, well, most of us are not politicians nor ambassadors.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Why I find President Trump so depressing….

No, it isn’t about policy. Yes, I did not like President Reagan’s policies. I didn’t like many of the first President Bush’s policies, and did not care for the second President Bush (from the Iraq war until the final 2 years of his term…when things started to fall apart, he started to act appropriately)

And if someone like VP Pence was in charge:

Suppose Mike Pence were president now. Tax-reform legislation would be hitting the floor of the House. A competent White House staff, headed by people with intact reputations for honesty, would be hammering out the compromises necessary to repeal healthcare reform. A functional National Security Council would be generating options for responding to Russia’s cheating on arms-control treaties and aggression in Ukraine. Democrats and liberals would be assailing congressional Republicans on immigration and abortion—not espionage and treason.

So, a conventional Republican as President would have me up in arms, but about the right things: policy. Yes, let’s debate that. Yes, if they win an election, the losing side (in this case, mine) has to do some sucking it up.

It is all part of being a citizen. Sometimes your ideas do not win the day.

But that isn’t what is going on now. Instead we are getting this:

So is appears that President Trump is only the president of his one else. In reality: he is probably more about the ultra wealthy than anyone else; we shall see. But he is reaching out to those who voted for him, period. He attacks our public institutions and private citizens.

Never in my life have I seen a president do that. Every president of both parties have made it a point to at least try to reach out to those who didn’t vote for them. Until now.

As far as his press conference, well, just read a fact check.

I’ve never felt so alienated.

I understand where #notmypresident comes from. He really doesn’t represent me, and frankly DOES NOT CARE that he doesn’t. I’ve never seen such a thing in my lifetime.

Oh, there are many other issues that bother me too; there is that he doesn’t appear to know what he is doing for starters. There is the fact that his opponent got close to 3 million more votes; rural America has way too much power. I don’t mind a rural person’s vote counting as much as mine does; I have a big problem with it counting for so much more than mine does.

The future: I have no idea. I think that the stuff going around about Trump either quitting or getting removed from office is wishful thinking.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Great February weather…

You won’t find me whining all that much about the weather this year.

I drove Barbara to the airport and got a slightly late start on my workout. I ran (shuffled) my 4 mile course and then did some leg weights; 4 sets of 5 squats with a 45 lb. plate, 1 with a 50 lb. dumbbell, then 10 leg presses with 230.

I’ll say a bit more; I’ve been thinking a bit about this topic: free speech (e. g. Milo Yiannopoulos speaking on campus). Yes, I know, he has no First Amendment right to be given a podium on a college campus, and I also realize that if one is teaching a college course, one should not treat crackpot ideas as if they have merit (e. g. creationism). But I still have something to say anyway, and yes, it involves the free exchange of ideas, the taking on ideas and giving them a cold blooded, logical critique, etc.

So more later…

February 17, 2017 Posted by | running, social/political, weight training | Leave a comment

The real reason the Republican Congress will continue to support Trump

Let’s be blunt: this is all it really is:

Oh yes, I saw parts of the train wreck that passed for the President Trump press conference.

And yes, I’d like to get back to arguing with Republicans about things like policy; right now we are arguing about following the rule of law and about basic competence. And yes, while past presidents have told an occasional whopper, fibbed, etc., what President Trump is doing is highly unusual. For example, who in the hell lies about having “the greatest Electoral College victor since President Reagan? Hint: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton (twice) and Barack Obama (twice) had larger Electoral College Victories.

But, for now, the Republicans think that they can get what they want, though maybe Trump’s incompetence may slow down, and perhaps even stall the more noxious parts of the Republican agenda.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment

We see the Trump disaster…but do “they”? (hint: probably not)

Ok, Trump’s National Security adviser resigned under fire. But Trump knew for “weeks” that he had lied about the Russia calls. And this appears to be par for the course for this utterly incompetent administration.

Trump should have known this sort of thing would have been a problem BEFORE he nominated Flynn.

But don’t expect Congress to act anytime soon; remember that Trump remains popular among Republicans. And don’t expect that to change soon…if ever. For one, Trump supporters aren’t seeing the same news that you are. This is the bullshit that they are seeing:


And forget trying to confront Republicans on hypocrisy. Sure, Trump is playing more golf, taking more vacations and signing more executive orders than Obama ever did (in such a short period of time)..and you don’t hear much about the national debt and deficits do you? The upshot: they hated Obama (my guess: he was a well spoken, educated black guy who didn’t pretend to be all “aw shucks” and used college professor level diction.)

On the other hand Trump is what they would be were they born into money.

I think that our best hope is for corporate America to grow weary and fearful of Trump; THEY can take him down by influencing Congress to act.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment