Today’s cartoons were unusually good: we have masters degrees that don’t help one’s employment prospects, science, a true fact about the memory-less-ness of the Bernoulli trial and the lack of effort on the part of students.
Then we have troll pages. One of the best troll pages is the Your Tattoos Make You a Horrible Mother Facebook page. People have fallen for it so hard that they become enraged and try to get it shut down; for those of us who like to laugh at clueless outrage, it is an almost endless source of amusement. Yes, I know; I should have better things to do with my time; but this is a bit like a train wreck. I don’t want to look..but I can’t help myself. :-)
The page attracts outraged people who, well, aren’t the most educated and who don’t write all that well. The usual response is:
1. “I’ve got tattoos and I am a GREAT (or AWESOME) mom and my kids are all geniuses” or “having a tattoo doesn’t make you a bad mom”
2. “YOU SUCK” or some version of “Your (sic) and idiot”, often followed by obscenities, most of which are spelled correctly and
3. Some wish that those who run the page and like the page have a violent demise.
All of this is written at about a 3’rd to 6’th grade level, with a few exceptions.
The idea that the page isn’t advocating that someone do something illegal doesn’t phase the visitors; all they know is that they are offended and therefore want the page shut down.
Workout notes: though it has been a while, (it started with a scratchy throat on 18 February and peaked Sunday, 22 February; first workout back was 27 February) I am STILL not back near 100 percent. Yesterday’s “almost 5K (2.9 miles)” at a 8:35 pace left me sore. So I did work out, but I have an ever-present “mild fatigue” that hindered my performance:
Weights: pull ups, 4 sets of 10, 7, 1, 5. I couldn’t get that 5’th set of 10. Rest: rotator cuff and back exercises.
bench press: 10 x 135, 1 x 180 (not really strong), 4 x 170 (and THAT was hard),
incline: 135: 1 set of 3 (weights slid off; forgot to set one of the clips) and then a set of 5.
circuit: 3 sets of 10 on machines: rows (110), pull downs (130), military (90 each arm).
I was feeling a bit run down so I walked indoors though it was a pretty day: 4 miles in 50:09 (middle lane): 13:13, 12:36, 12:33, 11:46. It wasn’t a bad walk, but it wasn’t exactly blazing fast either.
Hope and outliers
Yesterday’s 5K run chopped off part of the usual course; this was apparent when I got to what should have been mile 2 (14:30…ok, 10 years ago…maybe?) and finished in 24:42; this was my best time last year (certified course). I came in tired and had heavy legs during the warm up; this was about 2.87-2.9 miles and equates to a 26:30-26:40 on a true 5K course, and THAT reflects where I was yesterday.
But I wanted to believe that this was a full 5K. It wasn’t.
That got me to thinking a bit more about denial. Early this season, our Division I basketball team lost to a Division III team 58-56. Now of course, many fans didn’t want to admit the obvious: our team was a very bad basketball team. Some fans went back to memory lane and remembered famous upsets like this one. And it is true: you can comb the annals of basketball history to see some legitimately good teams suffering embarrassing losses in the preseason or early in the season.
But those are the exception: the vast majority of a time, a D-1 team loses to a D-3 team because they aren’t any good. And yes, we finished 9-24 overall and 3-15 in conference play, though we did beat a 9-22, 6-12 team in the conference tournament…only to lose by 25 the next game.
And yes, you see this with regards to test scores; witness the satirical treatment of this rather dumb facebook meme:
Yes, on rare occasion, someone with a math ACT of 19 makes it past calculus 3; there is a CEO of a company who did poorly on a standardized test, and I know of one language professor whose GRE scores were a disaster…and her logical abilities were limited..but she was/is a genius with languages. No, those tests didn’t pick that up.
But those are outliers. Most of the time, the tests reflect reasonably well what the student knows and what their academic abilities.
It works the other way too. I remember watching the Boston Marathon in 2001 and seeing Lee Bong Ju win. During the race, the announcer said that, while he was in high school, he had set national records in Korea. At first I thought “wow”…then “DUH….what kind of person leads (and wins) the Boston Marathon?” That he had run some fast times while as a youngster is the least surprising thing in the world.
Yes, one Boston Marathon winner had started his running career as a recreational runner to lose weight! But that is the rare exception.
But dreams die hard. Think about lottery mania. I tried to tell my dad that he was wasting his time and money by buying a ticket. His response: “someone wins”. Well, “someone dies on their way to buy their ticket too” and, as we can see, the odds of dying while picking up a ticket are greater than buying the winning ticket!
So there you go.
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.
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:
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).
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.
No, I am not slowing down with age.
1. Tracy Trot 4 miler: 2013: 33:07. 2014: 32:59.
2. Turkey Trot 3 miler: 2013: 24:56. 2014: 24:53
3. River Run: (Certified course) 2011: 26:56. 2012: 25:03 2013: 24:56 2014: 24:42
4. Race for the Cure: 2012: 25:13. 2013: 25:48. 2014: 25:27
5. Run to Remember: 2012: 24:34. 2014: 24:17
6. Best 4 5K runs: 2011: 25:43. 2012: 25:01 2013: 25:04 2014: 24:56
So, by all but one metric (Race for the Cure), I am getting faster with age!
Is that absurd?
Of course it is; in 1998 I ran a few 5Ks under 20 minutes; from 1997 to 1999 I was typically under 21 and my last sub 21 was in 2001; last 7 minutes a mile pace or faster was 2002.
What the mild “local improvement” represents is my improving after knee surgery in 2010; in 2009 I was running mostly 24:00 to 24:20 or so.
Why I bring this up: you see similar absurdities in climate change denial.
In Peoria: the “flagship” running race is the Steamboat races: there is a flat 4 mile race which attracts elite runners as well as most of the “casual” runners, and a very hilly 15k race (9.3 mile) which does NOT attract elite competition, but does attract many “serious” amateur runners.
Hence you get the following (I used what was my age group (50-54) as a comparison):
4 mile men: 138 finishers, median time 37:05, median pace: 9:16
15K men: 45 finishers, median time 1:19:50, median pace: 8:34
4 mile women: 128 finishers median time 46:10, median pace: 11:32
15K women: 27 finishers, median time: 1:28:41, median pace: 9:32
So, if one were to blindly use statistical correlation, one might conclude that one speeds up when one switches from running a flat 4 mile (6.4 km) course to a far hillier, 15K (9.3 mile) one.
Of course, what is going on is that the shorter race tends to attract the more casual runners; few people (especially 50 year old people) decided on a whim to see how fast they can do 15K, especially if they aren’t an experienced runner.
This is an example of “regression to the mean”; note how much larger the 4 mile groups are.
But a look at statistics reveals something else.
At this weekend’s 4 miler, I noticed that I placed “better” among “all males” (42/82) than I did among the 50-59 old males (6/8); that is .53 to .75. I figured: “ok, small race” and decided to take a look at the Steamboat 15K statistics.
So, in my age group, I was 38/43 or .88; but MY SAME TIME would have gotten me 40/60 (.67) in the 35-39 and 46/60 (.76) in 30/34. Once again, my performance placed me better in YOUNGER age groups than in older ones.
So, does this mean that “getting older makes you faster?” Uh, no. My times as a 38 and 39 year old were 1:08 and 1:07 respectively; lately I’ve been pushing 1:30 in this race.
So, just what is going on?
Here is my conjecture: perhaps a “fit but not that serious about running workout bro” might decide to take a crack at the 15K without doing a lot of specific running training, but when one gets into their 50’s, only the more serious runners even attempt the distance?
In other words, the folks I used to beat in my age group so many years ago are no longer running, and only those who used to beat me are still out there.
Then one might also point out that while my age group placing is suffering, I am actually improving next to ALL 50 year olds, since, at races, I am comparing myself to the 50 year olds who regularly race.
That is, I am too stupid to admit that I suck at running and to just give it up. :-)
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