Friday, September 23, 2016

They Say It So Sincerely, It Must Be True

Until the smallest and easiest bit of logic or reason is applied.

1. I had a guy who insisted that softball hitters were much more skilled than baseball hitters. There was lots of theory about how there is less time to react and the ball has more curve etc. You can even google it: This guy wasn't the only clown to make the claim. But it all wilts under one question: If softball hitters are more skilled and they are mostly women, how come there isn't a single woman in the MLB? The pay is huge for players that can hit and there is no rule prohibiting women from playing.

2. This is an old one from my youth and so you may not be able to find anyone claming it now: Back then, people would often claim that guns will not work in space. The people who made the claim often felt that it was deep somehow: Futuristic Man will have no need for such primitive and backward things etc. I never understood the basis for even thinking they wouldn't work: The fuel and oxidiser are contained within the cartridge--chemical reactions don't need gravity.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Okay, (backing away slowly)...But why would I want to find Hillary likable?

To find Hillary Clinton likable, we must learn to view women complexly

The article is TL;DR but begins with a howler that does not encourage further reading:

Clinton is on one hand the most qualified human being to ever run for president of the United States,...

Without getting into the weeds of whether or not it is possible to like Hillary, let's just for the sake of argument say that it is possible and consider instead why one would want to go to the tremendous work of getting to like Herself.

1. If you are inclined to do this, doesn't this seem as if you are just looking for reasons to justify the vote you have already decided to cast?

2. If you currently dislike Hillary, what possible reason would you have to want to change your mind?

Advice for Caroline Siede, if you think Trump:

In fact, Donald Trump is the only candidate who is more disliked than Clinton. And he’s not only overtly racist, sexist, and Islamophobic, but also unfit and unprepared for office.

Why not follow your own advice and figure out how you have been conditioned by your life experience to hate a guy like Trump and overcome this bias--isn't this what you are asking of your readers? Or is she really focusing on case # 1?

Maybe we can just accept that the sum of our experiences give us each the ability to make judgments? Anyway the premise is weak enough: Find any interview with Dolly Parton and unless you are very unusual, you will agree that she is unrelentingly likable and is also a woman. So, societal conditioning notwithstanding, it is possible to be a woman and likable.

The article somehow reminds me of these lyrics:

Any world that I'm welcome to
Is better than the one I come from







Thursday, September 15, 2016

While I'm On The Topic of Sunglasses...

I have quite a few pair. This is because, for whatever reason, it is now near impossible to find ones with glass lenses. This is a, Problem For Me™. I don't care how durable the makers claim their plastic lenses are, they are not, not in my hands. Within moments they are unusable nicked, faded, abraded and shot. I keep them around though. Driving on bright days or a day at the beach requires something, even if it is shabby.

Well, I bought a really good pair of Ray-Bans and a quick phone web search at the time of purchase led us to believe they are glass. It is really hard to tell until or unless they scratch, so until they do there is some doubt about the construction. The other day, I grabbed the good ones and soon noticed all kinds of problems with the lenses. I was full of recriminations at having paid so dearly for what ended up being useless trash. What I didn't notice for a while was that these were a crappy older pair. The kicker is that I've done this more than once! The frames are a lot alike but I know that both pair exist. Why isn't my first assumption that I grabbed the wrong pair, rather than that my fancy new ones are damage-prone plastic lensed sunglasses?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hillary (Strangelove) Clinton

Madame President became Dr. Strangelove so gradually that hardly anyone noticed until too late...

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Tents Situation

A flood of texts hit me this morning about the kid's camping trip. Which tent should they take--they both look the same. They are both in green bags, but one is a pup-tent for two (actually big enough for the two campers) and the other is 9' X 7' and could hold 6 people.

Later: The truck won't start and somehow it is at the bottom of the driveway. I don't quite know how this is possible. It is an automatic, how did they roll it down the driveway in drive? Did they think it could be compression started? The girl drives a stick shift and I have shown her how to compression start the car but I don't think she has ever done it--anyway, it doesn't work with an auto.

Then: Where are the jumper cables? I hid put them in an access hatch in the back of the truck--where the jack and lug wrench go. This took five minutes to be found but they made a good comeback by jump starting the car with modest levels of angst.

Finally: What grade of fuel does the Saab take? They switched from the truck to the wagon to be safe from further dead battery situations. Premium. "Is that the same as Super"? "Just put in the grade with the highest octane number and you will be fine".

The End (for now)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Tale Of Two Poles

The North polar region and South Polar regions are not just literally polar opposites; they are opposites in another couple of fundamental ways. The arctic ocean is a body of water surrounded by land--Canada, Alaska, Russia and Greenland. The South is covered by a continent with a sea around it--the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

It is well known by followers of "climate hysteria science" that while the arctic sea ice is declining, the antarctic sea ice has been setting records in the opposite direction.

Here is an experiment to try: Google "why is the arctic..." it will autocomplete to "why is the arctic sea ice melting" You will get a bunch of hits that all agree with the first thing that pops up:
"Increased water temperatures and air temperatures due to human-caused global warming are the dominant reasons for the record melting of the Arctic sea ice."

Let us try this for the Antarctic..."why is antarctic sea ice growing". You will get a bunch of articles that essentially say what the first hit say:

"Antarctic sea ice has been growing over the last few decades but it certainly is not due to cooling"

If it were still the 1970's, one might expect the opposite result: Back when global cooling was the problem, the Antarctic sea ice would have been because duh! Global cooling and fancy explanations would have been foisted on the strange decline in the Arctic sea ice.

Similarly: Look for "difference between models and temperature measurements" and you will find two kinds of articles--ones that spin theories of various levels of complexity to justify the discrepancy between the climate models and actual temperature measurements. They almost never show the kind of graphic below: This is found mostly in skeptical articles:


A picture is worth a thousand words and who wants to write an extra thousand when you could just not include the troublesome image?

Monday, August 08, 2016

Girls In The World

Wednesday was a banner day for the Pecchia girls:

S. The oldest, presented her Summer research work in a poster session at UML. It was solid work and presented very professionally.

D. The 'forgotten' middle girl, began her clinical practice as part of her CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) course.

J. Obviously the youngest, assisted teaching masters classes with the head of her dance studio.

They are all out there, making a mark on the world.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Situational History

Wait! Didn't Obama ridicule Mitt four years ago for saying that Russia is our number one adversary?

Yes, but times change and now the Russkies are really dangerous...

Is this because president Romney has been treating the Russian Federation like it is our enemy and so they have been pushed into a corner? You know, an honest to to goodness self-fulfilling prophecy?

You know as well as I that president Obama has been in the oval these last four years.

So are you saying Romney was right, or are you saying Obama is responsible for the deterioration in US-Russian relations?

Wait! What? Shut up! The real issue is that Russia and Trump are colluding to reveal top secret information.

Do you mean the 30,000 emails Hillary deleted because they are not work related? If they are not work related, how could they have anything top secret on them? Are you saying Hillary was less than honest about the emails she deleted?

Wait! What? Shut up! Look! A squirrel!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Little Things On My Morning Run

Well, "run" is being generous at the speed I am making these days, but let's set that aside for a moment and look at interesting little things.

1. I dropped Jemma off at captain's practice by 6:05. Lots of girls there, so we were not too late.

2. 20 minutes later, I was back home, changed into running clothes and on my run. Soon after I started, I noticed something rabbit-sized dash across the road. It didn't bounce though, it ran like a bird, which is what it was. It was a baby turkey and it was joining about 7 of its siblings in a front yard with one adult turkey. As I ran by, slightly concerned that the adult would attack me, the one closest to the road skittered over to its mom for protection.

3. About a mile in, a woman jogger about my age turned onto the road from a side street. I said "good morning" as I passed her.

4. I saw three young women going the opposite direction at about mile 4 of my run. I said "hi" and noticed that I know one of them, she is a friend of Dahlia.

5. Having finished my 6 miles and showered. Jemma texted that she was ready to be picked up. On the way to picking her up, I noticed the woman from #3, heading in the opposite direction as the last time I'd seen her.

6. When I picked up Jemma, I told her about seeing A. Jemma said, "Yeah, I know, she told me she saw you".

Monday, June 13, 2016

Why Bother?

Why do heavy weight boxers have to weigh-in? They can weigh as much as they want since there is no upper limit.

They do, you know.


Boxing is a sport but it is also show business. There is an informational content too: If a boxer is heavier, then he is probably slower, but also harder to hurt.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

For The First Time Ever, Not Voting Republican for President

Full disclosures:

1. I live in Massachusetts and if Trump has a chance here, he will win in a landslide anyway.

2. For all his problems, I would much rather have Trump be president than Hillary Clinton.

I only bothered to vote for president so that the Republican candidate would lose by one less vote than if I stayed home. Trump does not deserve this validation and lucky me, it doesn't matter here. I truly do feel for my friends in NH though. I really do. Sucks to be you right now. But we are all in a boat full of people who are gleefully shooting holes in the hull...so, kind of sucks to be an American right now.

I will still vote: I am sure there are important things down-ballot, who is running under the Libertarian ticket this year? Frankly, it doesn't matter, they have my vote.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

My Two Cents Kept

I was checking out at the grocery store today and could not help but notice the unusual assortment of items held by the guy behind me in line. He had 4 large bottles of ketchup and 6 heads of fresh fennel.

I really wanted to ask but held off and instead, Kung Fu like, thought of another grocery store in another time.

I was in college buying groceries with my room mate and considering cucumbers. I thought they were an essential salad vegetable but he was skeptical. A woman nearby offered that they were diuretics. I knew even then the meaning of the term but kind of felt like messing with her and rejoined to my partner, "See, I told you they are good for you"!

My wonder about the odd items was satisfied soon anyway. In driving out of the shopping center, I saw the guy crossing the parking lot to Burton's Grill.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New $20? I hope so.


Replace a slave holding founder of the Democratic party with a gun-toting Republican!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Stories Like This Depend On Reader's Short Memories

Here is another in a long line of "Bush is to blame for ISIS" stories:

Where did ISIS come from? The story starts here.

The "logic" seems to be that ISIS got its start because Bush did not allow former ruling party officials any role in the new Iraq:

Hashim and other analysts estimate that up to 60 percent of top leadership roles in ISIS are held by ex-Baathists.

But here is the problem with the story line: ISIS was formed in 1999, when GWB was governor of Texas.

Second, ISIS was insignificant until sometime in 2013. Look for yourself: Do a Google search with a time range ending at the start of 2013. You will find nothing related to the terrorist group. So if Bush is to blame for ISIS, how come they never did anything noticeable until 4 years after he left office?

The obvious truth is that yes, ISIS existed for a long time before they gained power (14 years). They only took off after Obama abandoned Iraq. Even Obama claimed in 2011 that:

"Iraq's not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We're building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement,"

So, let me get this straight: Five years after Obama declares success in Iraq, it is Bush's fault everything is falling apart now?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What Was She Trying To Tell Me?

Some signals are pretty straightforward: Turn signals, when people can be bothered to use them are a good example. You can be pretty certain that the car ahead of you will turn right or pull over if their right turn signal comes on. If it is on all the time, then all bets are off; it is more of a documentation that they did in fact signal on their last right turn.

Flashing the high beams can be done for a lot of reasons, so it is context dependent. It might be a signal that there is some danger ahead, or you left your high beams on dummy! A brief flash can convey a friendly nudge, sustained or repeated flashing or sustained high beam is a Hey Buddy Get Your Head Out of the Cloud! Most of the time the high beam is a way of saying, "I am welcoming you in ahead of me". Say you are in stop and go traffic and someone wants in or wants to turn left across traffic. Unless someone lets them in, they will be stuck all day. So if you are in the right position to help, flash your lights and let them through.

So, the case at hand: I was traveling down a main suburban road at the speed limit of 30. The road is lightly traveled even on weekday mornings. A car approached from the opposite direction and stopped, I don't think she had her turn signal on but I have seen that car in the driveway of the house I was passing, so I figured she wanted to go there. She flashed her high beams as I approached. What is she trying to tell me? I think I know, but it is so crazy that I have a hard time believing it. First of all: The person doing the flashing is the one making an offer, that is the rule. The person trying to make a left or get on the road doesn't flash his high beams--we all know what he wants. The person giving up his right of way is the one doing the flashing, as a way of signaling his intentions and generosity.

Did this lady really signal me to stop so that she could make a left turn on this pretty-much empty road? Yes, I think that was her intent. She must come home from every drive disappointed with the Human Race for not all getting the hell out of her majesty's way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thought Provoking, Though Possibly Not In The Way You Think It Would Be

Added: (And placed at the top) The use of land area is, I believe, a deliberate mis-framinging of the issue. Land, by its nature is limited--there is only so much of it and other than small exceptions, they are not making more of it. Wealth is primarily created and there is no limit to how much can exist.

The rich got that way by keeping some portion of the wealth they created.

Take a high paid actor like Tom Cruise, he makes a ton of money for making a movie. Lots of other people work on the movie too and make a nice living at it. Finally, people willingly plunk-down their money to see the film. They think that the entertainment value they get is worth the price they pay for it, otherwise they would not willingly trade money to a theater to see the movie. Who in this scenario is getting robbed? No one. Everybody participates of their own free will and benefits from their participation.

------------------------------------
Now back to the original blog post...

I came across this picture on Facebook, with the poster opining: "Great graphic, and powerful message".


I can guess what the "intended" message is, but my reaction to the graphic is in two parts:

Duh! Everyone knows that wealth is highly concentrated.

And

So what?

The wealthy did not get that way by robbing me or anyone else. They either earned a lot or spent far less than they earned or some combination of these two. Neither of these things are the sort of behavior that one should rationally discourage.

Other Thoughts:

Why limit redistribution to the USA?

The intended take-home may be that all the wealth in our country should be evenly distributed. Lets say you could do that without the total going drastically down. One would have to assume that people would work just as hard, take as many risks and save as prudently--even though there would be no reward whatsoever from doing that. Even if we assume that, why are we limiting ourselves to the USA? Why not world-wide redistribution of wealth? The USA has around 5% of the world's population and (depending on how you account for the wealth) 1/4 to 1/3 of the wealth. To equalize things out, 4/5ths of the wealth we have, would have to be given away.

There is a large temporal distribution of wealth. And would you wish it otherwise?

In the normal economic life cycle of a Human: You spend about 20 years growing up and getting educated. Unless you have inherited wealth, your net worth in this time is essentially zero. Then you work for the next 40 years or so and accumulate wealth in the form of savings, home equity, 401k and become vested in retirements or Social Security. Then you retire and either somewhat or completely deplete these savings. Would we really want children, who are taken care of by parents, to have the same level of wealth as people at the end of their working lives? That would be nuts!

Places dedicated to the idea of wealth redistribution tend to be unfree and poor.

Look at Taiwan and Hong Cong V. the PRC--The PRC has quadrupled its output in the last 15 years due to market based reform and is still only 1/10th as wealthy as Taiwan, which has been market-based all along.

North Korea v. South Korea: Impoverished slave state/ free and affluent society

East Germany v. West Germany: Same as above except reunited now.

The above two are especially apt since both have the same people, language, culture, geography and starting points: Devastation at the end of a war. It is obvious which system produces a high standard of living and freedom, and which one does neither.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Nice Exercise Article in the NYT

But not enough detail to take any kind of action unless you do a little research.

So here it is in shorter and more useful form:

First, the NYT article:

Take home message: Exercise is good for you and you are probably not able to do enough to harm yourself unless you are an elite athlete.

The minimum recommended level of effort is 7.5 metabolic equivalent hours (We will come back to what this is and how to measure it.)

You gain a benefit from more than the minimum and the peak is somewhere between 3-5 times the minimum.

But don't worry! You can do up to 10 times the minimum without harm.

The journal article where the NYT gets all its facts--which it spreads-out over a lot of verbiage:

Okay, so what is this Metabolic Equivalent Hours (MEH). Simple: An hour of sitting around is 1.0 MEH. There are charts all over the internet of Metabolic Equivalent Time for different activities and effort levels, here is one. If you run at 8 minutes per mile, the MET is 11.8. So for an hour at this pace, this is 11.8 MEH.

Wikipedia on Metabolic Equivalent:

This makes sense, or at least agrees with calorie calculators--which you can find all over the internet. At my age/weight/sex/height and setting of sedentary, I need 1,800 calories per day to maintain my weight. This comes to 75 calories/hour. Other calculators show me burning 867 calories in an hour of 8:00 minute per mile running. 75 into 867 is about 11.6, which is not far from the 11.8 that I got out of a chart. The math works! Or is at least consistent.

Finally, how many times the minimum effort do I do? I run 30 miles/week at 8:00 minutes per mile which takes an even 4 hours. (11.80)(4)/7.5 = 6.3. I am a little above where the benefit ends, but well below where harm begins.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

All Three Doing The Same Thing--Thinking Very Different Thoughts.

On the way home from the movies on Monday, I had to drive very slow--below the speed limit even!

The reason was that the car ahead of me was a police car and ahead of him was a driver who had obviously spotted the police car. So we three cruised two miles down the quiet street that leads home.

I had a mad thought of just blowing-past the cars ahead of me. The road used to have double yellow lines for the whole length, but some residents complained that it made the road seem like a highway and caused people to drive faster. I thought that theory was BS and liked how the lines aided driving by adding to visibility. Nonetheless, one night soon after the lines were painted; a heavy machine came through and ground the lines off.

"Wouldn't it be funny to just pass them both?", I vocalized to the passengers. "Yeah!" "But I would get a ticket for speeding--they can't get me for a no-passing zone since the lines are gone..." "Just pass really slowly". I admitted to myself the comical possibilities, but we were only going about two miles under the limit.

Those were my thoughts and of selected passengers.

I am sure the driver ahead of the cop's thoughts were worry--blossoming into paranoia when the cop followed him into the small dead-end side street.

I don't know what the cop was thinking, presumably he had a reason to follow our neighbor. He must have thought it was odd that the car behind him also turned onto the small side lane.

Friday, February 05, 2016

The Manchurian Celebutard?

The more Lena Dunham talks, the more she raises the question: Is her entire career and persona an ingenious undercover scheme dreamed up by a GOP operative specifically to discredit Millennials, feminists, and progressives? Is she the Manchurian Girl?

I think it is more likely that she is merely a knee-jerk leftist who has never had an out-of-the-box thought in her life. But Kyle Smith's thesis is possible.

Lena Dunham: The Manchurian Girl