Monday, February 19, 2018

Who Is The Master of Mansplaining And Why Does The Left Love Him?

Mansplaining is an invention of and complaint made primarily by the left. This is not to suggest it isn't real, though the validity of irritation can be obvious or disputable, depending:

The area of controversy is in situations where an explanation is asked for and then given. A woman may feel insulted by the condescending tone of the explanation, while the man may feel entrapped since he was asked and merely answered the question. I consider such situations to be resistant to simple answers, since it comes down to tone and degree. But there are areas where we can all agree.

It is irritating when an explanation is given where none is asked for. It is especially irritating when the explanation given is either wrong or is really just an opinion.

Enter the master mansplainer. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Feel free to take a break from this blog post and go to Neil deGrasse Tyson's twitter feed:

Not all his posts are mansplains, some are just facts:

But of his most recent four posts, two are classic mansplains:


I will dismiss this last one as NDT trying to be saucy and playful and take it as given that nobody really takes what he is saying as anything more than an opinion.

The one before this is really awful with many mansplaining problems packed into such a short statement:

1. The Straw man logical fallacy: When people offer prayer, they are not claiming it will save the victims of the latest outrage, they are trying to show their concern. This is especially bad when NDT holds himself out as a champion of logic.

2. It is just an opinion packaged as if it is a fact. There is no such study and if you think about it, you will quickly come to the conclusion that no such study is possible.

3. Condescending and superior: There are people who naturally, because of empathy, feel bad for the total strangers who have had such pain and violence visited upon them. They are just expressing that feeling.

4. One cannot help but note that while there are two general kinds of response to school shooting: Thoughts & prayers, Ban guns now! NDT did not go after the second type. Why? The second type, in contrast to the first, is claiming an answer to the problem rather than offering empathy. But here is the thing, there is no evidence that posting tweets in the wake of a tragedy has any effect on the law nor that, even if it did, that the new laws would have any positive effect.

But let's get back to the claim about prayer not being able to stop bullets. Did the football coach who shielded kids with his body have a character shaped by religion and prayer? I don't know and neither does Neil deGrasse Tyson. He might not admit it but I will say it: It doesn't take a wildly overactive imagination to consider that it is at least possible.

Ah yes, why does the left love Neil deGrasse Tyson? They say that do not like mansplaining, but when the butt of it is a conservative, well, you know, it is just a tool and is good when used for good.

You should be careful though--the same thing could be said about guns.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Dad Would Have Been 84 On The 17th Of This Month

My Mom wrote to me and let me know that she wants to honor her late Husband (who is also my late Father) with a mass on the 18th and would like to share some memories.

Of course there are lots of things I remember; Trips to see our grandparents, water skiing, huckleberry picking etc. These were not really personal memories though. After-all, my Dad was not specifically taking me on these trips; it was the whole family and as such, most of my interactions were with siblings and others my age, his were with my Mom and other adults.

There were not that many events which had just the two of us, though surely enough that I don't remember them all.

--One time we went deer hunting up North of Spokane. It was far enough that we flew up in his plane and landed in the hay field of his friend we were staying with. When you go hunting with someone, at least for deer, it does not mean you stroll through the woods together. It was more like: You go to the left and then hook around to the right, I will go to the right and slice to the left. We will meet at the top of the hill and hopefully one or the other of us will drive a deer toward the other of us. And by the way, don't accidentally shoot me! It ended well, my dad killed a nice little buck and we had some together-time dragging it back to the farm house.

--Another event a few years earlier was, I think, unplanned. We lived on Ardmore Drive in Spokane and had some family friends who lived in Brentwood--a development. I must have been 8 or 10 at the time. For some reason, just me and my Dad were stranded there--maybe my Mom had to take the car we all went there in, to run some errand, I really don't remember the circumstances. The upshot was that we decided to hoof-it home. We had a bit of an adventure. He thought it might be shorter to cut through the back of the development to the main road, this cut a lot off of the trip. As we got closer to home, we were in areas I knew from exploring and I guided us to another couple of short-cuts that got us home.

--One last event comes to mind. It was really nothing, but somehow stuck in my memory. I had just learned to tie my shoes but every time I untied them, I got a knot. Not an easy one either--at that age, I did everything with vigor and so when I got a knot in my laces, it was a tight one and very frustrating for someone in the lower single digits age-wise. My Dad happened along and showed me that if you pull both of the ends at once, there is never a knot. At that age, there really are few problems for a kid, he solved all of the problems I had.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

"Milk Sandwiches"

Whenever there is any kind of major snow storm, people act like it is the apocalypse and buy-out all the food in the grocery stores. Well, not really all the food; it seems like the only isles which look Cuban or Venezuelan are the milk and bread areas.

Hence the joke about people making milk sandwiches.

But really, what is happening? My theory is not that people are going for the bread and milk as their prime items. Neither keep for very long and so are not best for an emergency. I think it is the deliveries: Stores can keep a long supply of dry goods since they essentially never go bad, so even if the deliveries are delayed, there is plenty in the back. Bread and milk need to be fresh, so there are daily deliveries.

A bit of delay in delivery and empty shelves.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Syncretistic Homer Simpson

There doesn't seem to be a similar constituency in politics: I would love to see most people having the attitude that politics can be the solution to some problems (national defense, protection of liberty and property), but can also be the source of problems.

In Politics, the left believes that government is the solution to all of life's problems and conservatives believe government is the cause of all life's problems.

Obviously, I exaggerate. But not by much.

I have yet to see a problem so small that there isn't a Democrat willing to throw an offender in jail over it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Revolutionary Idea

In the news these days is the push to "fix" our "broken" immigration laws. Broken? How so?

Oh yes, I know; there are lots of innocent "dreamers" who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own and so it is unfair to deport them.

Some thoughts:

1. What is the point of changing the law? The current law is not being enforced. So why should anyone trust that a new, more favorable law for immigrants will be enforced either?

2. I reject the focus of the problem being on the "dreamers". Our focus as Americans should be, what is best for the United States?

3. It is not the fault of the United States that such "children" are here. They were brought here illegally by their parents.

4. Does anyone think that allowing this batch of illegal aliens to stay permanently will not encourage other foreigners to come and try to stay too?

5. The United States can benefit from immigrants. But they should be those we invite because they have useful skills. Every uninvited trespasser who is allowed to stay, takes the place of an invited one.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Oprah And Trump -- Similarities And Differences

Ed. Note: I will refer to Oprah Winfrey as Oprah, and Donald Trump as Trump. It is easier than writing first and last names for each and I am using the most commonly recognized name for each.

First, the similarities: Both are largely self-made. More so for Oprah, since Trump inherited vast wealth. He would not be and have been, a nationally known figure for decades had he lived comfortably off of his inheritance though. Both are almost universally known, due to decades-long media exposure.

The most obvious differences are in their public personas: Trump's is brash and confident, Oprah is also confident, but her most (to me) defining characteristics are being likable and comforting.

The whole point of this is to set the stage for a comparison of their political prospects:

A while before the last election, the main push for Trump seemed to come from Democrats. The idea being that he could disrupt the crowded field of Republicans and if he won the nomination, he would surely lose. I never got a good read on what they thought or if they even considered that Trump could win. I have to suspect that he would be quickly labeled as racist, sexist, anti-Semite and dim-witted/insane--because that is how they have labeled every Republican president in my lifetime.

What I see right now from Republicans is the opposite: Oprah seems more likely to win the presidency than any other Democrat out there. And Republicans hope she runs. To us, we would rather have a Republican president; but if we get a Democrat, Oprah would be a better president than any other Democrat who could win.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Major Shift In Luck

I stuffed my hat into the cup holder at the concert...

Wait, what?

Well, there was no drink to put in there. Because $13.50 is crazy for a beer and I would rather do without. Kind of; I would feel like not buying one, but would cave and get one anyway. Except, my wife and I are observing Dryuary. January, no alcohol. So the cup holder could serve to hold my vintage Bula jester hat.

I know, it looks stupid. But, I have never had a hat as warm, or as comfortable. I feel stupid now: I almost didn't buy it, because of the stupid thing. Now I wish I had bought one in every color they had. Bygones. Like 25 years ago and no longer made, bygones.

The concert ended (The Killers and it was amazing!), the lights came up and no hat! It wasn't on the floor either. We eventually found it about 6 feet away. All the lucky bastards, not doing Dryuary and so making multiple trips for more beer, had dragged it out of the cup holder and a fair distance away.

We were waiting for our daughter and friends to come up, from their standing area on the floor, to our seats and I spied a woman's clutch under a nearby seat. I locked eyes with an usher who was working his way through that section, as to say, "here is something you should collect. He went over to it and it was a concert T shirt. We communicated wordlessly, "It would be pointless to put something which is just like a thousand others sold tonight into the lost and found, right"?

He said, "Want a shirt"?


From losing my irreplaceable hat to getting a shirt that sells for $40 for free!

The Stakes Are Low, The Lowest

There is a place on the way to work where two exit lanes merge into one lane on the ramp and then widen back to two after the ramp. The standard behavior, for 90% of the drivers, is that the cars weave together--one from the left, one from the right, one from the left, etc. But there is always some guy, it is always a guy, who wants to not let anybody in.


Chances are, the one car length gained will not matter: The car could end up choosing the same lane you choose when the road re-widens. But even if they choose the same lane, how much time is represented by one car? Quite possibly, none--one lane goes to an exit which widens into 5 turn and go straight lanes, the other goes to a 4-lane highway which is usually wide open. How much time is saved? A second, maybe if you are lucky? For this, you are going to try and bulldoze your way in?

This is on my mind because a guy tried this with me this morning.


And failed.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Where Will The Stock Market Stabilize?

People with a PhD in Economics will be able to add a lot of detail, but what does basic Econ 101 tell us about the value of stocks due to the corporate tax reduction?

The old rate was 35% and the new rate will be 21%. If we assume that the value of a corporation is related to net profit* (after taxes), then the old value was 0.65x and the new value will be 0.79x. The change in the stock market should therefore be 0.79/0.65 or 1.215. The stock market should stabilize at 21.5% higher than before the tax cut.

*The idea is that net profit can be either distributed (dividends or stock buy backs) or invested in the business, which would result in greater future profits.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

I Can Now Die Happy

Not only did I finally clean and jerk 165 lbs, I got replied to and retweeted by the legendary James Taranto!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Another Reminder That The Will Of The People Is Not Reflected In The Laws

Our youngest daughter has just endured another lesson in, Having to do things nobody wants to do and nobody thinks you should have to and yet it is THE LAW.

She took driver's ed over her Christmas break.

Just to clarify, I think most parents would send their kids to driver's ed, even if they didn't have to. In fact, this blogger did that: Due to an older brother that crashed every car my folks owned, I was not permitted to drive till 18--which is when I no longer needed their permission to take driver's ed. It was also the point where it no longer was a pre-requisite for getting your licence. I felt like it would be a good idea and signed up anyway.

The quality of the instruction is notoriously poor. From the stories our daughter told us--the instructor shouldn't be allowed to drive, much less to instruct future drivers. The quality is poor because the customers are guaranteed: You cannot choose not to buy the service.

Around here, few make the logical leap: If it wasn't required, the instruction would be much better. As a result, most kids (mostly due to concerned parents--concern for their automobiles, if not their precious urchins) would still take the courses. But, but, some might not take the classes! Great! So instead of 90% of kids getting great instruction and 10% no instruction, we get 100% getting worthless instruction. For the Win!

End Of Year Sprint

I am just trying to keep up with last year's output and need two posts, today:

Some dad-jokes:

Yeast of Eden--for a bakery

Lumbar Liquidators--for a massage therapy studio.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Quote Worth Unpacking

The below is from, When Harry Met Barry: The BBC Obama Interview
in the NYT.

“The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground.”

" do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views..."

Obama uses the word "allow" twice in this sentence and it is telling: Freedom of speech is a fundamental right which is recognized (not granted) by the Constitution. You do not allow a person to live or be secure in their possessions either. But thank you for your benevolence in allowing us peons to engage in freedom expression Mr. former President!

"...but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground."

Here, the "allows" is used in almost an opposite way from the first two. There are ways of finding common ground for those who desire this, so the "allows" seems almost menacing. You will be made to find common ground. The common ground you will be made to find is the common ground we (your superiors) have chosen in advance. The use and apparent opposition to Balkanization, is almost too precious. The United States became more divided under Obama's tenure, if it was not on purpose then it does not reflect well on Mr. Obama.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Injury PR

On one hand, I could say that a plan I hatched over a year ago has finally payed off. But I can't help but think that the trigger for it all was a chance injury.

Let's back-up a bit. I did not exercise regularly in my 30's, I tried running a few times but the result was always the same: I would run for a week or two, injure myself and then be out of commission for 6 months. Finally, in 2001 I had enough! I had gained a lot of weight and needed to either buy larger clothes or make running stick. I deliberately held myself to modest pace and distance and took a good 3 years to gently ramp up the effort. In the end, I got good enough to run some marathons in 2008,9,10 and 11 but I had chronic pain in my left Achilles tendon. I could run, but I might limp the next day. In 2012, I decided to take-up weight training. I got a barbell and 300 lbs of weight and did the one exercise I could do with no other equipment--the clean and jerk (this is the lift you see in Olympic competition).

Good C & J video

I slowly ramped-up until I peaked at 158 lbs, which I did exactly once. I tweaked my back reaching under a bush for a basketball. Now, I couldn't really lift much in the C & J, but I wanted to keep training. Also, I felt like I had reached a dead-end in the C & J. It is a very technical maneuver and so it is really hard to stress your muscles to their limit, at least not consistently. So, I built a squat rack and decided to alternate power lifting workouts (shoulder press, squat and dead lift) with Clean & Jerk. I could protect my back, since the moves are slow and deliberate, and continue to build strength. In the long run, this should lead to new personal records (PR) in the C & J.

That's the theory. In practice, I got back to making 155 every once in a while, even as my power lifting numbers steadily climbed.

I think what broke this impasse was our trip to Italy. We walked a ton and stood in plenty of lines, but I only ran once in the week we were there. I had a couple of really good runs on the return but then the old injury came back, worse than before. I had to drastically scale back on running. This resulted in a little renaissance in strength. Cardio is great, but I think it is pretty well established that it runs counter to strength. Also, the thing about strength, is that it comes with increases in body weight. I was 140 lbs when I ran marathons a few year's ago and am now 163 lbs when not dieting and hardly get below 155 when I am trying to get light (I was 153 on July 4th, when I lifted 155 after running a two mile race). The upshot, is that with more body weight, there is more stress on joints and tendons from running. So, rather than healing my old injuries, as lifting originally did for me, it was now causing injuries.

Getting back to the point: I was stronger but not lifting more in the Clean & Jerk. It must therefore be a matter of technique. I decided to workshop my methods and in the last couple of weeks and a few bloody shins later--I have a nice improvement in how I lift. Last Tue was the first pay-off: I normally lift 115, 125, 135, 145, 150 and then attempt 155 with failed attempts really common from 145 onward. Then something clicked: 145, 145, 150, 155, what the hell? Why not? 160 and a new PR. The first PR in a year and a half!

It was with some trepidation that C & J day rolled-around yesterday: 115, easy. 125, barely made it, 135, same. 140, same. 145, something clicked again. 150, easy, 155 easy, 160 easy, What the hell? Why not 165. Yes! Easy and another PR. But not just another PR: This was bucket-list territory. When I started lifting 4 1/2 years ago, 165 was my semi-realistic goal. Any weight beyond that was pure fantasy.

Done and done. Hopefully not a one-off. But even if so, a PR is a PR and this is a good one for me.

Update: The injury is not done with me: I ran an easy 5-mile treadmill workout on Tue night (ironically enough, I watched The Punisher ep 1) during the run. I could hardly walk on Wed, which was the next C&J workout and so skipped it. Today at work, I did a C&J with no drops: 115, 125, 135, 140, 145, 150, 155, 155. I did not dare do more because I don't feel entirely at ease on the rubber-matted floor, also, my ankle still aches. A couple of weeks ago, this effort would have had me walking on clouds, now: Meh!

Update 2: Yesterday was the first C & J where my Achilles feels fine, though I dare not run. 115, 125, 135, 140, 145, 155, 160, then 3 failed attempts at 165. My form felt good at 160 but also, it felt like all I could do. I went back and did 155, 160: The last lift felt effortless, but I was tired and quit for the day. I feel like I have solidified 160 and maybe I will enter a period analogous to roughly a year where I regularly did 140 and very rarely made 145. I will be fine with that!

Friday, December 01, 2017

Why Now?

Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Charlie Rose and lots more. Most of these accusations are old: 1990's for Weinstein and 40 years old in the case of Moore and they were largely known, at least to insiders. So why is this all coming out now?

Here are three theories, which are not mutually exclusive:

1. A chaotic and unstable system will eventually fall. There was plenty of harassment happening and at the same time, there was universal acceptance of the norms against this kind of behavior. Ronan Farrow's dogged pursuit of the Weinstein story was the grain of sand which started an avalanche.

2. Hillary lost. Now that the Clintons are done as a political force in America, it is finally safe to attack this social ill. It would not do to make a big issue of this while the first He and his primary enabler were living in the White House.

3. I will call this the paranoia theory: Roy Moore was in trouble, so Trump has used the intelligence powers at his disposal as President, to leak damaging information on a bunch of Democrats. Now the only way they can kill off Moore, is by throwing a bunch of their own under the bus.

Added: Why was there such rampant harassment going on in the first place? Laziness. That's my theory. I don't know the percentages, but plenty of women make themselves very accessible to rich and powerful men. These men get used to a veritable all you can eat buffet and start to act like whatever they want is free for the taking. The one thing they would not take is NO!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Rider Pick-Up Follies

A couple of weeks ago, I was leaving work and there was a black SUV in front of the building, with a driver in front of it holding a sign that said Batra. Somehow, I thought this was hilarious. It is like if Air Force 1 landed and the Secret Service limo driver was holding up a sign that said Trump. Batra, in case you do not know, is the CEO. So the driver is the only person around who does not know what he looks like.

Then yesterday, a group of three young people were leaving the building with suitcases. Right outside was a silver Rav4. A young lady in the group took out her phone and said, "we are looking for a silver Toyota Rav4". They looked at the car confusedly and finally realized that this was their ride.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Adventures In Italian Driving

Too many to list them all.

From what we had seen of Rome's driving, I had increasing dread as the day approached of us getting a rental car. On the other hand, full sized buses plied these roads and never seemed to crash into people, other cars or immovable objects. On the other, other hand: I have zero experience on these roads.

The first day was (or should have been) easy: It was Sunday morning--the most empty time for roads. Problems cropped up right away: I had to make a U-turn (it was a legal one). I turned too sharp and ended up in a trolley lane instead of the opposite car lane. I zoomed up to the next intersection and then got into the right lane. Boom! The Carabinieri were on my tail, lights flashing! I pulled-over with a sinking feeling of failure and they sped past me.

Plenty of other events: Waiting for a cattle crossing, being led down a glorified goat-path: "This can't possibly be the fastest way between Campodimele and Sorrento"! Followed by: "Why did Trixie wait till the road dead-ended before telling us to turn around"? I guess it should have been obvious, given her name. And finally: Why don't Italians have dead-end signs? If any place needs them it is Italy!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Good Luck and Bad Luck

This should have been an easy errand: Just get in the car and pick-up Jemma from school. I had just completed a barefoot run and didn't have time to shower before setting out. The seats are leather and I wouldn't even get out of the car.

As it happens, I drive right past where the older daughter parks for cross country practice and I happened to notice that one of her rear-tires was low. After I got Jemma, I swung into the lot to take a closer look...sure enough, the tire was completely flat. The coach was briefing the girls on the workout they were about to do. Jemma wondered why I needed to talk to Dahlia or show my face or bare feet at all. I suggested that I couldn't get to the spare unless I could get ahold of the spare tire, locked inside of the car. So, I approached, got the daughter's attention and motioned her to come to me.

It took about ten minutes to swap out the flat for the doughnut. It kind of hurt my bare foot to loosen the lug-nuts. Finished, I took the flat with me to see if I could fix it.

I put a patch on the tire and decided to let it set-up while I took a shower. After the shower, the air seemed to be holding and so I set about swapping back the repaired tire. One of the lug nuts stuck and I had to sheer it off to complete the job. That is the bad luck part of all this.

Thinking that the girl might want to avoid this car out of doubts about the reliability of the repair, I decided to move it out of the way of an alternate vehicle. Good thing I did--the key would not turn! The jacking up and down of the car had put a lot of pressure on the wheel and you have to relieve this to unjam the ignition lock. It took all the strength I have to torque the wheel free--none of the girls could have done this.

Oh yes--traveling for a week and so in some sense (and kind of ironically too) couldn't have happened at a better time.