Kavanaugh fiasco and the fissures in our country

Oh, did this fight over Kavanaugh open up a can of worms.

For one, the discussion of “ok, exactly how do you treat the testimony/stories of the alleged victims? The answer really can’t be put on a bumper sticker. And no, it isn’t as simple as “few allegations are false”…for many reasons.

And what was going on in THIS case? No, it isn’t always as simple as “one of them is lying” or “one of them got it wrong.”.

And as to who you believe or who you trust more or who you trust more to be accurate depends on many prior assumptions.
Liberals tend to see this as “yet another case of a powerful man getting away with it” whereas conservatives see this as yet another case of liberals besmirching a fine man for political gain.

And, the Republicans used the latter feeling, along with a discomfort with the “me too” movement to further political support. And given the make up of the Senate, the did not need as much total support as liberals would have needed.

Republicans aren’t going to be intimidated by “vote ’em out”, etc. Now about those midterms, here is the 538 forecast (Wang has the House as 50/50, Senate favoring the Republicans).

House forecast

Senate forecast

Senate composition

October 6, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, republicans political/social, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

I now have a list of “scroll past” words…

Much of the “discussion” I see online…especially on a collection of memes, cliches and slogans. It has gotten to the point to where, if I see those “buzz words”, I just scroll past. And if someone I do not already know (and like) tweets them to me, “instant block”. No, I won’t list them.

Workout notes: yesterday, easy, untimed run in Bradley Park (dark); 5.2 miles. Today: 2 mile walk on the track after a full weight workout:
rotator cuff, abs (plank, and some twist crunch and head stand): pull up (5 sets of 10), bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 185 (good), incline: 6 x 150, decline: 8 x 170 (good), military: 2 sets of dumbbell (standing) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 90 machine, rows: 2 sets of 10 x 50 dumbbell, 10 x 60 dumbbell.

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

Seeing it their way….

The Kavanaugh hearings has reopened some of the scars in our social fabric. Of course, I am hearing the old “how awful he is” stuff (and I tend to agree that he lacks the demeanor and temperament to be on the SCOTUS, and I deeply resent Sen. McConnell bellowing on about the politics of obstruction, when, in fact, he wrote the book on it).

But I think it is useful to remember that the set up the Senate gives vastly disproportionate power to smaller, mostly more conservative states and, on the average, conservatives have a different view.

Yes, even conservative women have a different view of the proceedings; many see them as deeply unfair to Kavanaugh. And, many see Ford as having political motivation…as either lying or exaggerating in order to help defeat the nomination. Hence they do not see Trump’s mocking of her testimony as mocking a victim, but rather the mocking of a dishonest political opponent who tried to pull a fast one on them. You see, to them, Trump had the “guts” to stand up to the feminist activists and tell them “forget about it…we see through you.”

And, to be honest, I think that there ARE problems with the #metoo movement, some of which are outlined here (and respectfully discussed; this isn’t some hateful hit piece).

The country is not monolithic and the people that we do not regularly associate with probably think differently than us.

Workout notesweights only; no yoga.

usual rotator cuff, back, plank (sucked) and headstand afterward.

pull ups: 5-5-5, 15, 10, 10, incline: 10 x 135, 6 x 150, decline: 6 x 170, military: 10 x 50 standing, 10 x 45, 10 x 90 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110. It was “quick and dirty”.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | political/social, republicans, social/political, weight training | 1 Comment

In your face activism …

Just a question: have you EVER had your mind changed by someone getting in your face and calling you something bad? (e. g. an “idiot”, “moron”, “moran“, “heathen”, “un-American”, “sexist”, “racist”, “misogynist”, “rape apologist”, etc.)

My guess: “no”.

So why do so many continue to do this?

If it doesn’t work on you, what makes you think it will work on someone else?

Personally, my response to screaming is to put in ear plugs and to tune out. Get back to me when you are read to engage in a respectful, logical argument with verifiable facts.

September 30, 2018 Posted by | social/political | Leave a comment

The myth of an American meritocracy (NOT totally false)

Yes, I am using “myth” in the traditional sense: a commonly believed story that has meaning rather than “commonly held misconception”.

And yes, that is a common myth of America: there are no guarantees, of course, but you can go as far as your aptitude can take you, provided you make good choices and work hard (and, of course, avoid horrible luck..e. g., dying of a disease, etc.).

Now, many people will cry foul and point to, say, the most recent nominee to the Supreme Court (THAT is the “best and brightest”?), our current President, President George W. Bush or, to be fair, my current US Rep (who was basically hand picked by the party elite), or our current Democratic nominee for governor.

Ok, those, along with “the bosses offspring” might be highly visible “exceptions to the rule”. But there is data that confirms that we aren’t a pure meritocracy:

Figure A shows the percentage of people who have completed a college degree. It groups them into quartiles (groups of 25%) based on their performance in 8th grade mathematics and their SES. There are three test score groups—low score (kids scoring in the bottom quartile), middle score (kids scoring in the two middle quartiles), and high score (kids scoring in the top quartile). In each test score group (low, middle, and high) there are three bars shown, one for those in the bottom quartile in terms of SES (low income), one for those in the two middle quartiles in SES (middle income), and one for those in the top quartile (high income).

BUT…there is another side to things.

Our planes fly quite well. Medicine and science continues to advance. And you are reading this, aren’t you? Why? Consider the computer you are using, or smart phone, and the network that carried this post to you. Those didn’t occur by accident.

So yes, in many fields, the creme does rise to the top…though I admit that it is highly likely that many “diamonds in the rough” remain buried.

Therefore, I see us as a “sort of” meritocracy ..not quite a full one.

Workout notes: easy 6.5 mile walk (15:45 pace) on a hodgepodge of courses.

September 30, 2018 Posted by | social/political, walking | Leave a comment

Not caring what “the other side” thinks..

There are many things that struck me about the Kavanaugh debacle. One of them was his very partisan opening statement.

How in the world is this clown going to be an impartial justice? this day and age…it does not matter.

I think that we live in a time when saying something like “well, could be be fair to “the other side”” is seen as being naive and weak. Yes, I do mean “both sides”, though it is my opinion that this toxic atmosphere really got started with New Gingrich and company. But now, liberals are on board as well….and frankly, at times, so am I.

Acknowledging that others aren’t inherently evil is akin to dropping your guard in a boxing match.

Oh, there are other things that bother me too.

The debate: we are seeing the Trump election all over again. The Republicans are rallying around a noxious, ill qualified (albeit with the correct “on paper credentials”), ill tempered, self pitying boorish candidate and the Democrats are doubling down on what didn’t work in 2016. No, this nomination is not going to cost the Republican the “women’s vote”.

Yes, the Democrats MIGHT win the House in the midterms (abut an 80 percent probability…which is NOT a “lock”) but the Senate..the house of Congress that is voting on the SCOTUS nomination, is likely to remain in Republican hands (70 percent). The Senate map is tough for the Democrats and, no…women in general are nothing like the women on a liberal arts department faculty.

This fiasco is turning me off to politics. I’ll still duly vote but…it isn’t with any enthusiasm at all.

September 29, 2018 Posted by | politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment

Why should I believe you?

Some time ago, someone was trying to convince me that the United States “knew” about the holocaust. As evidence, he produced an accurate report that a Polish source had sent to the United States government.

But, I replied, “having an accurate report” does not mean that you KNEW. Reason: we are given a LOT of information, and much of it is false or out of context. Knowing means drawing an accurate conclusion from the information that is available, and how does one discern the accurate from the false or misleading?

I think that such a principal applies to day to day life as well. Yes, you TOLD me that and yes, you were right THIS TIME. But what about all of the other times when you weren’t?

Yes, you complained about that, and yes, this time your complaint was relevant, significant and accurate. But you complain about EVERYTHING; your complaints have become background noise.

And, of course, there are always those who claim that they were right, but, well, they weren’t.

Workout notes weights and an easy 2 mile walk in glorious, crisp fall weather.

rotator cuff, hip hikes and yes, 2:30 of plank afterward (sucked). pull ups 15-15-10-10, bench: 10 x 135, 6 x 170, incline: 10 x 135, decline 10 x 155, military (standing dumbbell) 6 x 50 (very ugly), 10 x 45 (bad), 10 x 40 ok, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110.

September 29, 2018 Posted by | social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Kavanaugh and I am starting to dislike EVERYONE

I did not watch the hearings and I’ve read only a little about the allegations. Based on what I’ve seen (which, I admit, isn’t much) I’d say that a “no” vote is warranted (if, for no other reason, being less than candid during interviews).

But I admit that my emotional reaction to him is more about what he represents to me (of course, I do not know him personally, and my impressions might be either incorrect or incomplete).

His demeanor (wearing his emotions on his sleeve; lack of civility, open anger, apparent sense of entitlement, self pity) really stirs up contempt in me; he reminds me a bit of some of the worst people that I went to college with. Note: I understand that this hearing is about his fitness for the job, and my disgust at him is independent of whether he did any of the alleged things or not. THAT, is a different issue. This hearing is supposed to be finding the truth.

And so…some of the negative reaction to this, well, circus angers me as well.

This hearing is supposed to be finding the truth about the fitness of this individual, which includes, of course, finding the truth about the allegations of what HE supposedly did (or did not do). This hearing really isn’t about other victims of sexual assault and what happened to these unfortunate individuals; the question here is if Kavanaugh is guilty of these things.

And, as far as reaction to his behavior and testimony: yeah, *I* am disgusted and yes, both of my Senators will be “no” votes (if it comes to a vote).

But as far as to the other Republican Senators: they only have to worry about the reaction of their own constituents (e. g. Wyoming and Idaho Senators do not care about my thoughts). And, it is my guess that conservatives/Republicans are seeing it very differently.

Will this change anyone’s mind? Frankly, I seriously doubt it..not a large number of people’s minds anyway.

Yes, read that first sentence. I actually AGREE with that, 100 percent. Kavanaugh represents the divide over Trump in our country.

So…does this mean I am aboard the SJW train? Nope. Identity politics disgusts me (though I am down with equal rights and, no those are NOT the same thing)

An example: get a load of this. The Ohio State football team is travelling to Penn State to play them in a big game…in what Penn State calls “white out” conditions (every fan wears white). They put out a meme exhorting their team to SILENCE the “white noise”. And that was attacked by the “woke crowd” guessed it…being “insensitive to sexual assault victims”.

That is beyond ridiculous; yes, I am growing very tired of professional victims trying to find offense in everything. So I can “understand” wanting to oppose them.

But electing unqualified con-artists to the Presidency of the United States or appointing self-pitying, emotionally immature brats to the Supreme Court of the United States is not the answer.

September 28, 2018 Posted by | political/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Kool aid drinking (how social media can deceive you)

I know that Illinois football is, well, not that important in the great scheme of things, but I am learning an interesting lesson.

This year I started to interact with Illinois Loyalty, The Champaign Room and Illini Football Breakdown on twitter. And so I started to get the feeling: “there is excitement about Illinois football again; maybe things are turning around!!! And yes, I follow Illinois Football on Instagram (and other social media platforms), etc.

But then..let’s look at some objective reality. Illinois went 2-10 last year, to the surprise of almost no neutral observers.

Attendance at the home games last year vs. this year:

Ball State: 41,923 Kent State: 31,898 (-10025)
W. Kentucky: 43,058 W. Illinois 39,252 (-3806) (both Sat. evening games)
Nebraska 43,058 Penn State: 34,704 (-8324) both Fri. evening games)

Then the Chicago Soldier Field game drew 21,725.

Attendance is DOWN by about 7000 per game! And keep in mind, last year’s Nebraska game was the best attended home game..that included home games against Wisconsin and Northwestern. My guess is that this year, Iowa will be the best attended game; don’t expect much from Purdue or Minnesota.

So, the hard core evidence is that interest in Illinois football as DROPPED quite a bit; the “excitement” or “interest” I might be seeing is that I’ve sought out and found other fanatics.

The interesting reality is that the casual observer may well have a more realistic idea of what is happening than the fanatic who is paying more attention.

Case in point: last week’s game vs. Penn State. The fanatics point to the Illini leading 24-21 in the 3’rd quarter as a sign of where we really are.
In fact, I saw a Penn State team that told itself: “ok, let’s wake up and put these guys away”, at which case they buried the Illini with a 42-0 finish. THAT, IMHO, showed the relative difference in the squads.

And so.. yes, this is just football. But I think the same principle applies to politics and work places…it is very easy to fall into group-think and ignore negative information.
But the difficulty of getting out of your bubble is that, well, it is almost no place to be that is NOT in a bubble. Leaving your bubble to get into another bubble really doesn’t help.

I am trying to remedy that by following the most “non-bubble” people I know; I might compile a list.

September 27, 2018 Posted by | social/political | | Leave a comment

A cheap way to feel better about yourself

I admit that I sometimes enjoy watching a dumb conservative make an illogical, fact-free argument for their position. It is even better when a politician panders to them (e. g. there are school shootings because we “took god out of our schools”, etc.)

But…as I’ve spend more and more time on twitter and on facebook and have viewed liberal arguments…often they are just as cherry picked or as illogical as what conservatives put out.

And time and time again, I’ve seen people try to act as if the rest of the world would be better off, IF ONLY the rest of the world was more like them…and they have had very little personal success in their own lives.

This really reminds me of listening to fans try to argue why their team is, well, not as bad as they fear it is.

So, I’ve become more and more disinterested in political discussion, at least online.

September 23, 2018 Posted by | social/political | Leave a comment