Weather aches, hypocrisy and football

Paul Krugman noted that economic conditions are different (no longer zero interest rates..and companies are interested in borrowing and employment is up) and so we should look at deficits differently. Yes, public investment should be done, but not upper end tax breaks. OF COURSE, the right wing is calling him a hypocrite. And OF COURSE, they are wrong.

The idea that the best thing to do often depends on the situation is not a subtle concept. Why do conservatives have so much trouble with it?

Think of it this way: ask ANY football fan “what is the best play for a team to run” and they will tell you: “it depends on: down, distance, field conditions, time in the game, the score, the defense, the strengths and weaknesses of the respective teams, etc. Obviously, 3’rd and goal from the 1 with 1 minute to go in the game is different from 2’nd and 15 from your own 20 in the middle of the second quarter.

Of course, there are different philosophies; some teams are option teams, some are running teams, others are passing teams, and the play call also depends on the philosophy of the team (pass on 3’rd and 1 vs. run on 3’rd and 1). But the call is very situational. No one disputes that.

So why is this hard when it comes to economic policy?

Speaking of hypocrisy, why is hypocrisy bad? After all, if a coach has a good reputation for developing an athlete, I won’t call the coach a hypocrite for being a bad athlete and a workout slacker himself.

The article I linked to offers the following answer: those who say one thing and do another often use their moralizing to bring credit to themselves; a kind of PR. So when they don’t live up to their preaching, we get angry for them for putting up a false front. In the “out of shape coach” case, the coach is NOT billing himself as a good athlete when he coaches you. The moral scold who is themselves immoral IS billing themselves as a moral person, and that is where the resentment comes in.

Weather Yes, at one time, I bought into this “knee aches with weather changes” stuff. But more studies have been done…and I’ve come to understand I’ve run reasonably well during some very rainy days. It turns out there is no solid evidence that weather changes causes joint pain.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | economics, economy, science, social/political, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Yes, Trump is my President. Maybe some hope here?

Seriously. And I insist that my Presidents treat political opponents with respect (at least public respect), so this is unacceptable:

And I will be a vocal critic. He wants to be President of the United States? Then he has to represent all of us.

Now, there may be a little bit of hope here:

Even Trump has sent mixed signals, telling The New York Times soon after his election that infrastructure wouldn’t be “the core” of his first years in the White House. “We’re going for a lot of things, between taxes, between regulations, between health care replacement,” he said at the time. He added that infrastructure wasn’t a big part of his plan to create jobs, saying, “I think I am doing things that are more important than infrastructure.”

So if his package is going to get a big push, lawmakers expect that it will have to come from Trump himself. “I think it’s going to be driven by the administration,” Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said Wednesday. “At some point they might come and consult with us about what that might look like.”

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), a Trump transition team member, indicated the same thing Tuesday.

DeFazio suggested Democrats may just bypass their GOP colleagues, saying: “We might have a dialogue with the Trump administration. I don’t think we’re going to have a dialogue with Republican leadership in the House. They’ve closed that door pretty well.”

This isn’t much, but who knows: perhaps the Democrats plus some moderate Republicans (if there are any left) might work with Trump on some sort of stimulus compromise?

And there is something else. Obstructing and “saying no” is pretty east. Coming up with good policy and getting it passed and signed into law is far more difficult Are THESE Republicans up to it? My guess: probably not. They are good at throwing tantrums; I am not sure they are good at anything else.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | economy, republicans, social/political, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taking on conventional wisdom

More Trump: who are those Trump voters anyway? You can read what many of them said here. So, what can or should we do? Well one thing is that we need to concern ourselves with other countries (e. g. Russia) interfering with out elections; evidently they are doing that in Germany too. We should do something about people in large states being grossly underrepresented.

But what about now? Well, some say that we ought to stick with identity politics, even if it is politically unpopular. Personally, I can see the reason for such politics being unpopular. For example, this article talks about the pick for Labor Secretary being someone who, gasp, used sex to sell hamburgers. Sorry, but the days of claiming “that’s sexist” and shutting down the discussion are over.

Alas, political correctness isn’t only found on the left wing. You see some on the right wing too: here, some criticism is aimed at Paul Krugman for pointing out that the coal/manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back and that such regions will likely lose population, just like what happened in other countries.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

More head scratching….

This is just nuts: Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is now about 2.5 million, and her percentage lead is 1.9 percent? And yes, the Democrat has won the popular vote in 6 of the previous 7 elections, though the Republican won the Electoral College thrice.

Nevertheless, our elections, for now, are decided by the Electoral College. Somehow, it makes sense to spend attention to a few “swing states” as opposed to where more people live? That no longer makes sense to me.

But Trump won. Oh, there will be consequences; for example many will lose their health insurance.

So, where do we go from here? I completely agree with this:

As Democrats contemplate their losses in November’s election, most have settled on a solution. They believe that the party needs more economically populist policies. But this misses an essential reality: Most people don’t vote on the basis of policies.

There is excellent research by political scientists and psychologists on why people vote. The conclusion is clear. As Gabriel Lenz writes in his landmark 2012 book, “Follow the Leader?”, “Voters don’t choose between politicians based on policy stances; rather, voters appear to adopt the policies that their favorite politicians prefer.”

And how do voters pick their favorite politicians? It is a gut decision that is more emotional than rational. Mostly it hinges on whether they identify with a politician in the social and psychological senses.

In an important recent book, “Democracy for Realists,” Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels show that “group attachments” and “social identities” are key to understanding voting behavior. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt reinforces this view with mountains of research showing that people choose their political views based on their tribal attachments.

I agree with this. However these sorts of solutions are problematic:

Barack Obama is a singularly charismatic politician. But he might have made Democrats forget that the three Democrats elected to the White House before his election came from the rural South. They knew that world; they were of it.

With these insights in mind, on the campaign trail, perhaps Clinton and the Democrats should have rallied not with Beyonce and Jay Z but rather with George Strait. And if you don’t know who he is, that’s part of the problem.

I agree that Barack Obama is so good of a politician that he may have masked problems that Democrats have. But as far as Beyonce and Jay Z: remember that a Democrat cannot not win without the base. True, they can’t win with ONLY their base, as we found out; we do need at least a few votes beyond our base. But you can’t disrespect your base either.

It is a tricky line to walk.

Workout notes: yesterday, weights only (day after whole blood donation): pull ups (5 sets of 10), rotator cuff, incline bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 160, 10 x 150, military: 10 x 50 dumbbell standing, 20 x 50 dumbbell seated, supported, 10 x 200 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 50 single armed rows, headstand, 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

today: run only; 5.1 mile shuffle on my hilly course; hills were a chore.

December 2, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, running, social/political, Uncategorized, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

One big way I was wrong…(among others)

I’ve already talked about the polls and the betting lines; together these things fooled me. And turnout: yes, Trump, as of this time, had fewer votes than either Mitt Romney or John McCain…and yes, fewer votes than Hillary Clinton too. But that is for another post.

Today: one way I was suckered is that I sincerely believed what Paul Krugman wrote:

Greg Sargent interviews Hillary’s chief strategist about the coming general election, and finds him dismissive of claims that Donald Trump can repeat his march through the Republican primary. You never know — but it does seem obvious, except to the political pundits completely flabbergasted by Trump’s rise, that the general election is going to be a very different story. For the truth is that Trump’s Republican rivals fought with both hands tied behind their backs, and that just won’t happen from here on in.

Greg summarizes the case very well, but let me do it a bit differently. Think about Trump’s obvious weaknesses, why Republicans couldn’t exploit them, but why Democrats can.

First, he’s running a campaign fundamentally based on racism. But Republicans couldn’t call him on that, because more or less veiled appeals to racial resentment have been key to their party’s success for decades. Clinton, on the other hand, won the nomination thanks to overwhelming nonwhite support, and will have no trouble hitting hard on this issue.

Second, Trump is proposing wildly irresponsible policies that benefit the rich. But so were all the other Republicans, so they couldn’t attack him for that. Clinton can.

Third, Trump’s personal record as a businessman is both antisocial and just plain dubious. Republicans, with their cult of the entrepreneur, couldn’t say anything about that. Again, Clinton can. […]

Clinton, on the other hand, is not ludicrous. She can think on her feet; she’s tough as nails. Do you really think the person who stared down the Benghazi committee for 11 hours is going to wither under schoolboy taunts?

The news media will, I fear, try their best to pretend that the contrast isn’t what it is. We’ll hear endless explanations of why Trump’s vanity, ignorance, and lack of moral fiber somehow prove his “authenticity”, which Clinton somehow lacks. And maybe that will stick with voters. But I don’t think it will. In the end, it will be a race between a tough, smart lady and someone who is obviously a yuge, um, Antonin Scalia School of Law. And voters will notice.

And yet….the Democrats did not show up.


Michael Moore, who isn’t my favorite person, got it right. Democrats need someone charismatic to motivate turn out:


And so we are disappointed…both in those who voted for Trump and those who didn’t show up.

Workout notes rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10), bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 7 x 170, incline: 10 x 135, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 50 (each arm), military: 7 x 50 standing, 15 x 50 (seated, supported), 10 x 45 standing, head stand, 2 sets of 10 x yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunch.

run: 21 minutes for 2 mile, 14:30 track mile, 14:50 hill treadmill mile.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, running, Uncategorized, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Why it is hard (but not impossible) for me to change my mind

A “Facebook Friend” posted the following:

You know what’s sad?
When someone is presented with a reasonable, fact-based presentation that points out flaws in his or her beliefs or opinions, and rather than change their mind, or at least reserve judgment until they have a chance to do more research, they decide the source is lying and / or flawed.

What do you do with that?

I like to think I’m a reasonable person. If someone presents me with a good case for something, I’ll listen, and I may even change my mind.

I am not going to identify the person as it isn’t my intention to attack a particular individual. But I do want to discuss the idea.

Yes, it is difficult for me to change my mind, though it is far easier for me to change my mind in an area that I am well versed in!

So, here goes:

1. The messenger matters. Lots of people have lots of opinions about many things, and many are very vocal. So there is a lot of “noise” out there; much more “noise” than signal. In fact, I don’t have time to take most of it seriously. So I look at the messenger.

Does this person have a history of making correct arguments? Do they have anything going for them that makes their opinion stand out? What about their sources: are they mostly junk sources (e. g. Natural News, Breitbart, Huffington Post, WND, etc.) or are they more reputable ones? In the past, are they even aware of what their own sources say? (yes, many times, people submit an article to “debunk” something, when in fact the article is a caveat, clarification, or…actually SUPPORTS the point they think is being debunked).

So, much of the time, I just dismiss what is being said without taking the time to investigate.

2. The source matters. Ok, I’ve looked at the source. Who is it written by? IF the author has impressive credentials in that field, are they still respected by that field’s community, or are they regarded as a rogue crackpot? Yes, even science Nobel Laureates go off the rails. Consensus matters.

3. My own knowledge matters. Suppose two top physicists were arguing about competing models in, say, quantum mechanics. There is a good chance that I would not understand the discussion because that isn’t my field. The same goes when, say, you have two top flight economists arguing about an economic theory. If, say, Paul Krugman wanted to fool me with a nonsense argument, I’d be unlikely to detect that his argument is nonsense. So in these matters, I turn to consensus.

Though I have a Ph. D. in mathematics and a modest publication record (enough to have attained the rank of Full Professor), I am painfully aware of how ignorant I am in mathematics. So how ignorant am I in field that I don’t have Ph. D. in?

Nevertheless, I am far less likely to be fooled in mathematically based subjects, hence I have more confidence that I can properly vet arguments in these areas and that I understand the issues at hand. That isn’t true in other areas in which I know far less.

Workout notes weights then an easy 5K walk. The day was chilly and humid; no rain though.
weights: rotator cuff and free squat rests, pull ups (5 sets of 10, strong), bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, incline press: 8 x 150, 10 x 135, military presses: standing 7 x 50 dumbbell, 15 x 50 dumbbell (seated, supported), 10 x 45 dumbbell (standing), 3 sets of 10 x 50 dumbbell single arm row. Abs: 2 sets of 12 twist crunches, 10 yoga leg lifts. Headstand (good today).

November 3, 2016 Posted by | social/political, Uncategorized, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

My take on the Presidential Election (with my favorite sources and models)

Ok, at this time in 2008, Barack Obama had just taken a razor thin lead in the polls. I wasn’t worried though, as I was in the “Obama loop” and I knew what Obama’s ground game was up to and I knew that we were hitting our targets.

This year, I am out of the loop; I sent money to Hillary Clinton and probably will do so again. But I am not on conference calls or anything like that. So I am following the election as an “outsider”.

I am not paying attention to the “talking heads”. But I am paying attention to the following:

1. Models Each model weighs the poll data a bit differently, and some use economic data and other factors.

New York Times Upshot

This is the New York Times model. They have an interesting “pathways to victory” model for both candidates. They also link to the current forecasts of the other models.

Five Thirty Eight (Nate Silver)

This site offers three different models: “polls plus” (factors in other factors), “polls only” and “if the election were held today” forecasts. They do a decent job on being flexible to changing conditions while not being overresponsive to noise.

Princeton Election Consortium (Sam Wang)

This is another good model; this one is not as responsive to changing conditions but won’t overreact to noise either.

2. Betting Lines (odds)

US political odds (betting lines)

People with money to bet aren’t that sentimental. Now this might reflect “conventional wisdom”. But I use these as a hedge against my “wishful thinking”.

3. Poll Aggregators These just say “here are the polls in each state”. There is some crunching (don’t throw out a week old poll, but weigh the newer ones more heavily, etc.) And yes, they were pretty accurate since 2004.

Election Projection

This is run by a conservative but is competent.

Electoral Vote

This is run by a liberal but is also competent.

4. Poll Data

Real Clear Politics

This lists the various polls. Warning: state polls are included, so if several “blue state” polls come in, the “look” is too pro-Clinton; the reverse is true if many red states are polled. But you can see the polls for yourself here.

5. President Obama’s approval ratings (Gallup)

Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center

I like to compare President Obama’a approval ratings to President Reagan’s (The first Bush won) and to President George W. Bush’s (McCain lost). And remember that Al Gore won the popular vote (very narrowly) but “lost” (sort of) the Electoral College.

So what do these say?

1. President Obama’s approval ratings are above average for a 2 term incumbent and is tracking well with those of President Reagan.
2. Betting wise: Hillary Clinton is slightly less than a 2-1 favorite. This is down from 4-1 some time ago.
3. Polls: she retains a narrow lead both in the national polls (1-2 points on average) and in the Electoral College. It IS very close right now.
4. Models: the “robust against noise” models give her a 75-85 percent chance of winning; the “more responsive” models give her about a 60 percent (plus/minus 2-3 points) chance of winning.

This tells me: this race is NOT a toss up; Clinton has an edge but it is a narrow one, at least right now. Trump could very well win. But I wouldn’t want to trade places.
I am reminded of “Kerry vs. Bush” where Clinton is in the position that Bush was.

September 20, 2016 Posted by | political humor, political/social, politics, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Illinois overwhelmed by UNC 48-23

Yes, the stadium was sold out and there was a lot of energy there:




And the start couldn’t have been more promising. On the 3’rd play from scrimmage, the Illni broke a 65 yard touchdown run to lead 7-0.

North Carolina responded with a drive of their own to tie it at 7.

Then the UNC defense adjusted, but UNC fumbled a punt, which Illinois recovered at the 30; and they took it in. UNC got a drive to cut the lead to 14-10 and then Illinois lost a fumble (quarterback dropped the ball); UNC took it in and it was 17-14 at the first quarter.

UNC mostly dominated play in the second quarter getting another touchdown. But a great punt pinned UNC deep (2 yard line) and the star Illini defensive end tackled their running back in the send zone for a safety.


Illinois couldn’t convert the good field position after the free kick. UNC had one final drive which lead to the ball at the Illinois 2 with 2 seconds to go They passed up a field goal, but the pass was broken up! So it was 24-16 at the half.

Third quarter: UNC missed a field goal, but scored on a subsequent drive to take a 31-16 lead going into the 4’th. Illinois converted some 4’th downs in cutting the lead to 31-23…but, as they always did, UNC responded with a drive of their own.

A drive deep into the UNC red zone came up empty with another botched hand off (one of several) on 4’th down, and a long TD run put UNC up 45-23. A field goal ended the action.

UNC rolled up 462 yards of total offense getting 197 on the ground, while limiting Illinois to 309. A couple of unsportsmanlike penalties and botched exchanges (hand offs, snaps) hurt as well. But the bottom line is that UNC simply had quicker players.




I’ve watched a few Illinois State games (they are FCS), including last year’s playoff loss to Richmond. They went to Northwestern and won! The winner came with a field goal as time expired.

(note: Illinois State gets so little respect, the title is “Ball State”, which is a MAC (FBS) team).

Navy won a wild 28-24 game over Connecticut; in this game there were fumble returns for touchdowns. But the key came at the end with 17 seconds to go and UCONN with no time outs and at the Navy 2. They ran a running play, got stuffed but had no plan to get another play off.

Arkansas vs. TCU was a wild one. Arkansas lead 20-7 in the 4’th only to see TCU take a 28-20 lead. Arkansas rallied to make it 28-26 with just over a minute left and made the 2 point conversion to tie it.
The Frogs drove it and tried a 28 yard field goal at the end of the game: BLOCKED.

Arkansas won it in the second overtime.

September 11, 2016 Posted by | college football, football, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

I just don’t have it

Well, my daughter is here as is her bunny:


And during my run, I got a hug from “Mamma T”. So there is good going on…

But the “run”…OMG.


74 F isn’t that bad..but check out the humidity. 99 percent!!! Ugh…I was soaking wet by mile 8 or so…just drenched.


I added a spur in case the original course was short (it wasn’t).


3:16:33 was the time, 1:36:21/1:40:12 with the extra time on the return leg being due to the .2 mile spur plus…well, fatigue. I held up to it ok, though I felt as if I were running on “missing legs”; no leg strength at all. But that is what I could do today; I would have been in deep trouble had I 11 miles to go. Could I have done them in 2:40? Probably, but I would have had to do a LOT of walking.

Speaking of performance: I talked about having the ridiculous dream of being an athlete. Sadly, many parents push their kids in that direction…and the reality is that very few kids will even be Division 1 athletes, never mind professionals. If it isn’t in the genes, forget about it. But unsavory sports camp operators depend on parents having unrealistic aspirations.

Yes, I am a fan of youth sport and scholastic spots. Yes, I played them. But …your kid isn’t going to be a professional! Ever! (with probability .999). Play hard, have fun, and maybe, just maybe, your kid might find that they can find an activity that they love for life (me: running and weight lifting, which in turn lead to swimming, walking and hiking).

August 13, 2016 Posted by | family, Friends, running, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Columbus adventure photos

These are just photos for my non-Facebook friends.

Baseball the night before
There was a small crowd (2-3 k?) to watch the Chiefs lose to the Timber Rattlers 6-5. But the game was entertaining and I caught a cool rainbow.




The drive over: featured a 3 hour delay because I-74 was shut down (ALL lanes) about 60 miles west of Indianapolis. We were kicked off onto a small 2 lane highway.


Yes, it was truck, truck, truck, truck. The trucks have taken all of the joy out of driving anywhere.

Columbus Day One
I was there for a math conference and I caught some sights while walking:



I walked about 10 km on my “self tour” which took me to the ball park and back to my car….and through the Ohio State campus:






The ball park was nice (Huntington Park); there were 10K people at the game, which was exciting.




August 5, 2016 Posted by | baseball, photos, travel, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment