Trump, Mueller, Instagram science and “The Needle”

It seems as if anything can raise offense these days…well, I suppose it was ALWAYS that way but we hear more about it now. Here, a budding female scientists expresses frustration with being stuck with the “make science attractive to the masses duties” because she is female:

A lot of good comes from the work of female scientists on Instagram. But it disturbs me that these efforts are celebrated as ways to correct for the long held and deeply structured forms of discrimination and exclusion that female scientists face. I wonder whether our efforts should instead be directed toward advocating for policy changes at institutional and governmental levels.

When I next interview for a job, I won’t have an Instagram page to show that my love of science doesn’t make me boring and unfriendly. Publicly documenting the cute outfit I wear and the sweet smile I brandish in the lab isn’t going to help me build a fulfilling career in a field where women hold less senior positions, are paid less, and are continuously underrated. Time spent on Instagram is time away from research, and this affects women in science more than men. That’s unfair. Let’s not celebrate that.

And..of course…someone was offended.

Now THIS is a reasonable response..sort of. I don’t think saying “I am not going to do this and this is why” is shaming. If you WANT to do this, fine. But the author of the article was saying that she felt pressure to do that, and she shouldn’t. Disclaimer: I love my camera and my Instagram does have some “math selfies” or at least photos of math department members doing “mathy” things. But that is ME; I enjoy doing that.

Speaking of math: “The Needle” (Upshot’s day of the election forecast needle” is explained here. And yes, it DID predict a Trump victory long before it became apparent to others; I followed it. Roughly speaking: it looks at what vote has been counted, which areas have not been, what the turnout was and historically, how the outstanding areas have gone. It is a bit like this (about 6 minutes into it)

Trump and Muller Trump cannot fire Muller directly, and firing him indirectly will be harder than it might appear at first…and even if he does, that doesn’t mean the investigation gets stopped.

But this doesn’t mean that Congress ..or the people will see the full results of the Muller probe either.

I am not sure as to what is going on or what is happening. I do know that the Russians have made fools out of us in many ways. As far as the election stuff: yeah, some of the Russian ads were…well…”shit posting” quality. But campaigns are forbidden to consult with people who are putting out ads on their behalf unless they are an official part of the campaign, and foreigners aren’t allowed to collude, period. So there is some potential violations of election law.

Workout notes
Swim, then running. Swim: I was disappointed that the lifeguard showed up and I was awful (bloated, etc.) 4 x 250 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 back, 200 drill, 2 x 200, 1 x 100 (3:36, 3:42, 1:52), 2 x 50 (54), 2 x 25, 50 back.

run: treadmill 5.1 and up .1 every .5 miles (33:50 for 3, 34:55 for 3.1, then walk to 47:25 for 4 miles. Foot: was starting to work so I had to talk myself out of doing more. That is a good sign.


March 20, 2018 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Not ready for prime time

Ok, I tried a 7 mile walk; W. Peoria 5.25 plus a 2.05 Cornstalk loop. Pace was high 16’s; I was stumpy because I was automatically trying to protect my PF heel ( which hurts with a push-off). It will be a while before faster walking is comfortable. Time: 2:02 (not a misprint). Oh boy. It was sunny and I have only mild “post walk” ache without taking Naproxen. And yes, I am not quite over last Thursday’s bug; I ended up napping this afternoon.

For some reason, I was reminded of Steamboat 15K runs in the past. And you know what I really, really miss?

Well, when I finished in the 1:08 range (just under, just over), I felt good about being included in the group I was running with. I felt similarly when I slowed to 1:11-1:14. 1:21-1:23….not so much.

Walking it just under 2 hours? Well, I liked my age peers (e. g. Lynnor..some others) . But most around me were on the order of 20 years younger and, well, let’s just say that they are different than those I used to run with. I miss being with the “old group”.

Hell, I suppose I should be grateful I finished today’s walk. But man, do I lose a bunch when I have to lay off a bit.

Other news: The Trump circus continues. Trump fires Tilerson via twitter and then fires Goldstein (a top deputy).

Well, at least tonight’s Pennsylvania election is expected to be close, and this is in a highly Republican district. Trump threw a huge rally for the Republican..will it help?

Frankly, the Republican sounds desperate but I am not great at guessing.

March 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Guns and Trump the tide turning, just a bit?

This was a different situation as Sarah Palin had resigned from office. But it appears that support for her dropped after her infamous “blood libel” comment.

And while a few polls have Trump’s support under 40 percent, his Real Clear Politics average remains at 41 percent. There is not much to see in terms of approval rating. But is the tide starting to turn just a bit?

And yes, the latest horrific mass school shooting really has little to do with Trump though the current “debate” (war for our country’s soul?) breaks along Trump supporter lines. Take a look at the political maps here: if only gun owners voted, Trump only fails to win Vermont. If only people who are NOT gun owners voted, Clinton wins in a landslide (losing West Virginia and perhaps Wyoming).

Trump made things worse with his bravado:

“You don’t know until you test it, but I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump told a gathering of governors at the White House. “And I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too.”

Yes, he put a disclaimer ..but: run where? It was a large campus and it was all but impossible to know where the shooter was. But this sort of “Dirty Harry” fantasy plays well with Trump’s base.

And there is the whole assault weapons issue. Please spare me with “no, there is no such thing as an assault weapon” bullshit. The AR-15 and weapons like it are really military grade weapons, minus an automatic feature. They are designed to kill and wound many people, very quickly. And a “bumper stock” can make it very “machine gun” like.

And so we are talking about possibly reviving the assault weapons ban.

Now yes, MOST gun deaths and criminal gun deaths are due to ordinary handguns (another issue); mass shootings are a small percentage of all homicides. And the previous federal assault weapons ban didn’t reduce gun crimes or gun homicides, though it appeared to have a positive effect on mass shootings (4 or more deaths)

The figure from the Wiki article on the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the method of tabulation is found here.

So, if nothing else, this might calm the effect on the national psyche, though, it won’t reduce gun deaths by that much, or at least to a degree that statistics can detect.

I do not know how it will play out. But if the non-NRA forces can band together and stick together, perhaps the NRA can be taken down financially, or at least forced to reform itself to reverting to being an association for the rank and file gun owner.

Disclaimer: ok, I don’t like guns, and I am worried that some moronic Dirty Harry wannabe will end up trying to play the hero and shooting innocent people.

(yes, that fear has little to do with assault weapons)

But I once earned a “Marksman” ribbon in the military (pistol) and once shot “for pleasure” back in 1981 (target range). And no, I don’t have an issue with hunters, skeet shooters, competitive shooters, business owners who have a weapon for self defense, farmers who use a firearm as part of their livelihood, etc.

And yes, I get tired of some of what passes for debate (e. g. “ha, ha, criminals don’t obey the law”, etc.)

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans political/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Don’t look now, but Trump is…winning. Seriously.

When Trump got elected, there were several things that worried me. One of them was NOT that he’d govern like a typical Republican. Yes, I don’t like Republicans but we’ve lived through them before; I was worried that this loose cannon would get us in a nuclear war and/or crash our economy.

Neither has happened.

Oh, I still don’t like him; I do not like his deportment, his rude tweets, his attacking private citizens (verbally) and his lack of intellectual curiosity.

But as far as his actual actions go, what I’ve not liked about him is exactly what I would not have liked about, say, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, etc.

So, IF, IF, you think that we ought to cut taxes on the wealthy, appoint right wing judges and cut safety net programs…if you thought that the previous 8 years was a nightmare where someone who didn’t have traditional American values held the presidency…where moochers and slackers voted themselves more money by electing a president who gives out free stuff…

Well, you probably are pretty happy with Trump, even if you wish he had a more conservative deportment and would tweet less.

And that Trump tells those nattering, finger wagging social justice warriors to “buzz off” is a little extra bonus, right? (ok, the SJWs often annoy me too, even if we have broad agreement on policy).

And this is reflected in his approval ratings (about 42 percent..up from the high 30’s).

I am not saying that his party won’t lose seats in the 2018; they may well do so. It is even POSSIBLE (unlikely?) that the Democrats pick up a chamber of Congress. But typically, the President’s party lose seats during the first round of midterms.

In my opinion, he’ll be reelected. You have no idea at how much that I hope that I am wrong. But that is what the current situation tells me.

February 23, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

Trump’s positioning becoming a bit stronger…

These are interesting times.

Trump’s approval ratings have inched up to 41.5 according to Real Clear Politics. That is still very low for a President just finishing their first year (and lower than Obama’s) and especially low, given that the economic numbers aren’t that bad overall.

Nevertheless the trend is up..and the Republicans are improving just a bit in the “generic Congressional ballot”, though they are still not in great shape. It is far, far, far from certain that the Democrats will win a chamber of Congress back.

Here is what I find ironic: Trump is actually governing like a typical Republican (in terms of what policies he is pursuing). And some Republicans who like those policies but who feared his instability are feeling better, and some who hate his “crony capitalism” just love how acerbic he is, especially when he attacks targets they don’t like. In fact, were Trump to act more normally, his approval might actually be lower.

On another note: higher education is under attack. Some of it is cost: new technology adds cost, new mandates (to accommodate students with “learning disabilities”) adds mandated cost and each program carries with it administrators and the like; administrative payroll is much higher than it once was.

And there is college itself: the postmodernist nonsense prevalent in some disciplines is not helping our reputation and frankly, I wonder about the overall erosion of academic standards.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | education, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

Did you like Trump’s SOTU speech?

If so you probably believed this misstatements, exaggerations and outright lies.



So, what about his goals?

I like paid family leave…can he get it done?

Infrastructure: I’d go for an honest 1.5 trillion of spending but evidently, that isn’t what he was talking about.

But yeah, if you think that massive upper end tax cuts are compatible with increased military spending (and yes, upper end tax cuts have lead to decreased revenue in the US), if you think that DACA people are mostly criminals and you think that America was “great”, at least socially speaking, in the 1950’s, well, then, yeah, you probably liked the speech.

workout notes didn’t take Naproxen AND went for a hilly walk outdoors in my old shoes. Mistake. When I woke up the heel (left) felt great; not so much afterward. Ok, it hurts.

weights: usual pt,pull ups (5 sets of 10, good), incline: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 10 x 145, military: (dumbbell, standing) 10 x 50, 10 x 50, 10 x 45, Hammer machine rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200. abs (25 each side twist crunch, moving bridge (2 sets of 10), leg lifts (10), plank: side, 2 minutes front, squats: 2 sets of 10 x 53 to the sill.

Walk: 5K hill course; pain came AFTER that. Running on the treadmill doesn’t seem to hurt it though.

January 31, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Muller will not take down Trump

I’ve seen it all over my feed; the idea is that the Muller investigation (a necessary thing) will somehow take down Trump. Nope. That is just fantasy…albeit a fantasy shared by many, many hopeful liberals on Twitter. For the unaware: many conservatives said the same thing about President Obama for years..

Nope..if we want to stop Trump we need to win the 2018 and 2020 elections. And though I think that we have a shot at one chamber in 2018, defeating Trump in 2020 will be more difficult than many expect, even though Trump is more unpopular than other presidents this early into his administration, and especially unpopular given the decent economic numbers. Right now, Real Clear Politics has him at 40.1 percent.

The Senate map is tough for us because the GOP is defending seats where Trump is still popular (though Jones won in such a state).

Health care: of course, too many abuse the emergency room. I can understand insurance companies cracking down on it. However, some companies go by the diagnosis rather than how a reasonable person would react to the symptoms, and sometimes, a benign condition (say, reflux) shares symptoms and pain similar to a life threatening condition (say, a heart attack) and individuals are incapable of self diagnosing.

That is just crazy.

Workout notes: 7 miles; 5 run, 2 walk. Run: did 5.1 for 10 minutes, 5.2-5.3-5.4 for the next 5 minute segments, 5.5 and 5.6 to take me to mile 4 then 6.7 for the .75 and 6.8 for the final .25
(23:10 at 2, 34:00 at 3, 44:45 at 4, 53:35 at 5), then walked to 5.7 on the treadmill, then 1.5 miles on the track (15:30’ish miles).

January 30, 2018 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, running, social/political, walking | | Leave a comment

When the left parodies itself…

I read a Facebook post about a lawyer who worked pro-bono on LGTQ issues who was catching heat for wearing a pussy hat…you see it isn’t inclusive enough because….some women don’t have vaginas (ok? )

And sure enough, the person writing that post wasn’t kidding.

Oh my…and we wonder why we aren’t taken seriously.

And I saw this cartoon:

Ok, surely the cartoonist is exaggerating…right?

Uh, no…

The rape claim

The patriarchy and feminine independence claim

Sometimes I really think that our dogmatic lefties are just like the Bible Beaters who drink a different flavor of Kool-aid.

So back to the women’s marches: how big of a deal are they? Well, if they inspire people to help us out on 2018 and 2020, I suppose they are a good thing.

But I see a crucial difference between these and the Tea Party marches, BESIDES this crucial difference:

The Senate is set up to give small, rural states an advantage (Wyoming has the same number of Senators as California does). And gerrymandering means that liberals can be effectively fenced up.

So, a large women’s march, even in, say, Fayetteville, Arkansas (home of the University of Arkansas) isn’t going to worry anyone.

The women’s marches are a “mostly white”, mostly educated and blue women’s movement and comprise of a statistically small group of women. And even numerically massive gatherings in Los Angeles, Chicago, etc. mean…well, not much.

Women are indeed still split along economic and educational lines.

And Alabama: 63 percent of white women voted for Moore. It was black people, not white liberals, that saved the day.

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, social/political | , , , , | Leave a comment

SJWs and Alt-right: two sides of the same ignorant coin?

Like many, I’ve been wondering “how did Trump ever get elected” and I’ve considered the factor that “maybe Trump was a pushback against political correctness” conjecture.

And I asked myself “what role might I have played in this”?

Now don’t get me wrong: there are a lot of people who would have supported Trump “no matter what” and it is difficult, if not impossible, to convert a conservative into a liberal. Genes are in play here.

But..does it appear that liberals, in an attempt to be “fair” to minority groups with less power, refuse to acknowledge tough truths? I had very similar questions along those lines 35-40 years ago! (yes, I can recommend the book Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond)

But yes, I’ve seen justice minded liberals deny facts that they don’t like. Here is an excellent example of that (denying crime statistics)

Don’t like a statistic: say it is false and call it XXX-ist!

Another example: take the issue of race and IQ.
Fact: in the US, different racial groups score differently (e. g., Mexicans score lower than non-hispanic whites)
Fact: IQ IS relevant (albeit imperfect) in terms of measuring intelligence (yes, I know; it is a 1 dimensional measure of a complicated thing, but it is meaningful; e. g. someone with an IQ of 95 won’t be an engineer or lawyer (statistically))
Fact: intelligence, or the potential for intelligence, is heritable.

So what happens: the alt-right people improperly combine these facts to argue that, say, in a meritocracy, you’d expect Mexicans to do worse than whites (as a group). You see: as a group, Mexicans just aren’t smart enough to compete and only affirmative action, which gives unfair advantages, can make things look a bit more level.

The SJW liberals don’t like the conclusion that Mexicans are inferior so they deny one or more of the above facts! Reason: they believe that if the above facts are true (and they are), the conclusion that Mexicans are inferior would be correct!

That is, the SJWs and the alt-right agree on the logic; they don’t accept the same facts.

(disclaimer: I am Mexican and, no I don’t feel that we are inferior in any way)

The problem is not with the “facts” but on how you use the facts. To see what is going on, see this article in, of all places, The American Conservative.

TL;DR argument: the potential for intelligence is determined by genes. This is individual. Example: there is nothing anyone could have done to make me as smart as Steven Hawking. But outside forces effect gene expression (say: fetal alcohol syndrome). So if a group of people lives in worse circumstances (say, inferior nutrition, prenatal care, early childhood education), that could well show up in the group IQ measurements and that can change with time (as it did with the East German/West German example).

So, the “group mean IQ being low means that group is inferior” is not a valid conclusion.

But the denying of facts never helps.

We are seeing something like that going on with the reaction to a Steven Pinker video.

The 8 minute video is worth watching: (I got this from Jerry Coyne’s website)

I can see the the effect on bright students. They go through their educations and are either never told relevant facts, or told that these facts are wrong and believing those facts is xxx-ist. They then find out that those facts are, well, facts…and the student feels betrayed and lied to (and rightfully so).

Rule of thumb: do not rule out a hypothesis because it “fees bad”.

And by the way: the above is what I mean about “political correctness”. Political correctness is not “basic politeness”, as some claim.

By the way, read Pinker’s book Blank Slate.

January 14, 2018 Posted by | books, politics/social, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump, sleaze and a changing presidency?

I am having a belly laugh over the popularity of the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury. No, I don’t see the book as especially credible (the author doesn’t have a reputation of accuracy and the content appears to be mostly gossip) and it is my guess that the author wrote it for the money (and it is working, though Wikileaks has published the pdf of the book online).


1. Trump has not reacted well to the book and is drawing well deserved ridicule for his reactions.

2. Trump has achieved much of his political success by doing exactly what the book is doing to him! Isn’t that ironic?

What can I say…maybe that is the way the game is played these days? Figure out who your opponents are and then try to slime them with any sleaze you can make up?

There is a long term downside though. I remember when Blagojevich ran for reelection as Illinois governor. I am embarrassed to say that I voted for him. Oh, I heard the criticisms but I dismissed them as partisan sleaze …and I had no idea these criticisms, this time, were the truth! So, I’ll do my part and try to keep my criticisms principled (and yes, temperament and deportment are qualifications for the office, IMHO).

And has Trump really changed the nature of the presidency? Yes, I like thoughtful presidents (Obama, Clinton, the first Bush) but Trump appears to be a lazy figurehead who runs his mouth but runs little else.
Now some liberals are touting …Oprah??? OMFG. Yes, she certainly won’t be any worse than the conman we have in office right now..and she is rich, popular and knows the “show-biz” game inside and out.

But at this rate, we’ll find our office of the Presidency reduced to something symbolic…and this makes Congress more important than ever.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | books, politics/social, social/political | | Leave a comment