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, 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.


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

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Discipline and Organization

Tuesday we went to the middle school's string ensemble performance. In the middle of JS Bach's Sleepers Awake, I was struck by the micro and macro displays of discipline on display. Each of the players had to: Learn how to play a violin, cello etc; learn their part of the song. As a group, they had to learn how to play it with 70 other kids. Finally, they had to all show up, on the same night, in the same place, prepared.

Here is the song, not by them, but just so you don't have to Google it if you want to know how it sounds.

Contrasting with the virtues ably demonstrated by the performers, the audience: Texting, coming and going in the middle of numbers, rattling their candy wrappers (in an auditorium clearly marked with no eating or drinking signs). The boy in front of us was nestled between both of his parents and was a non-stop motion machine. Did they make any effort to bestill his distracting antics? Yes, if feeding him a Hershey's bar counts.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Four Years of Runnning Data

I now have continuous data for the last four years of running--See posts 2012, 2013, 2014.

Year Total miles, Pace, Barefoot miles, Pace, Miles with Shoes, Pace
2012 1,502.13 7:57 640.65 7:50 861.48 8:03
2013 1,571.55 7:58 577.77 7:49 993.78 8:03
2014 1582 1/2 7:55 446 7:47 1136 7:58
2015 1573.61 7:57 334.09 7:48 1239.52 7:59

One may easily note that there is a steady decline in barefoot miles and yet the overall pace is pretty similar, with 2004 being a kind of banner year. Barefoot running is consistently faster than with shoes, but I have come to think of it as more of a training aid than a place to accomplish conditioning. It keeps my running smooth, so that I can run without injury. Now that I have better form, I do not need to rack up so many barefoot miles to keep me under 8:00--I have run sub 8 with shoes the last two years.

An additional note: I was 70 miles in the hole at the end of Feb, due to heavy snow. It took me most of the rest of the year to make up all those miles.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Because 40 and breaking the trend.

I would not normally post about such a jejune happening but I want to get it in--just in case the rest of the rushes by and I forget. If you look at posts/year (on the left). Since 2008, each year has been fewer posts than the one before it. Already this year is tied with last year, so only one more and BOOM! trend broken!

So here is the post:

Last night, Dahlia had a dozen friends over to exchange the gifts from a secret Santa they did. It ran from 5:30 to 10:30 and we have heard of such events, happening at other people's houses, where the refreshments consisted of chips and soda. We are not those people, but the guests are kids--so we made kid-style hot hors-d'oeuvres. Chicken nuggets, tater tots, nachos, pigs in blankets, pepperoni bread (this last one was pretty elaborate). Plus chips and cookies. I think we could have added in Crudités, but I will rack that up as an oversight. We parents grazed on these offerings and felt full, so. Success!

And 40!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Morning Adventure

The plan was simple: Take the truck to work today. The freezer for the in laws is already in the truck and I can go to their house at lunch to drop it off.


My wife needs to take a whole bunch of girls to a dance tonight--I don't remember how many but it is more than five, so only the truck will do.


I unloaded the freezer from the truck and moved it to the Subaru, in which it just fit. With the back seats down, it filled the Japanese car. In the Yukon, it fit behind the 3rd row of seats.


A mile from home, I got the low tire pressure light in the Subaru. I pulled over and one of the tires was really low. Full enough to get back home but not full enough to risk going the rest of the way to work. Especially when one considers that the freezer would have to come out and sit on the side of the road while I deployed the spare.


I went back home and: 1. Moved the freezer back to the Yukon. 2. Filled the Subaru tire so that when I come back home at lunch, I can see how it is holding. Drove to work only 10 minutes late.


I will fill the truck up with gas since it is on empty. Drop off the freezer. Go home to switch cars. Stop on the way back to work for some McDonalds--for which I have coupons. (Buy one, get one free.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The cleverness of "Scream Queens"

It is my daughter's favorite show, so naturally she gives it a glowing review in The Odyssey online

One example: Jamie Lee Curtis. She plays the dean of the college where the show takes place.

1. Her mom Janet Leigh was the original scream queen:

2. Jamie Lee became famous for her roles in "slasher films" starting with John Carpenter's Halloween. Followed by many more horror films.

3. That is all history and not really cleverness by the show--except that it was clever to cast her in the role. But, they also named her dean Munsch. There is a painter with the same sounding, but differently spelled name famous for this delightful painting:

The painting is known as "The Scream". It is officially, Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). Linguistically, I would say "shriek" is probably a closer literal translation. Shriek Queens does not really roll off the tongue and besides, "scream" was how schrei was translated--for whatever reason.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

That's Entertainment!

Last Friday began a weekend of live entertainment:

I went straight from work to our high school's rendition of The Sound of Music. I noted that, probably due to a lack of boys who can dance, one of the "men" in a waltz scene was played by a girl. I was impressed, though in another way the opposite of that, when at the end of the dance all the women jumped into the arms of their dance partner. Impressed that the not especially large girl who played a man, was strong enough to seemingly do this with ease. The other part of me was amused to think that Austrian aristocrats in the 1930's did any of this kind of dance move.

Saturday, after an hectic outing filling our truck with Ikea, we went to an acapella show at UML. Impressed as I had been with how much entertainment the Friday musical delivered for only fifteen dollars, the acapella show blew it out of the water. First of all, it was free. Second, these college kids must practice all the time; their arrangements were perfect and they all had great voices and showmanship.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


There is, or I should say, I thought there was, a meme or saying along the lines of; If you survive the first few seconds of battle, the chances of surviving the war are good.

What brought all of this to mind was that I took my middle daughter out driving for the first time today. What made it all so scary is that after the struggle to get the car moving and not die from dropping the clutch too fast, new drivers are so relieved that they forget the need to steer. After a couple of basketball stands were narrowly missed, she got the hang of it and my terror abated. The open road will deliver a whole new batch of thrills, but I think the car and I will survive.

A new bout of optimism about running came from this Thanks giving race. According to the race calculators, I should be able to run a marathon in about 3:25, which would be well under what I need if I run one at age 55, the qualifying time is 3:40 for men at that age. I could qualify as early as next October.

Distance Age grading VO2 max Riegel formula Cameron formula Time Min/mile

Marathon 03:22:14 03:23:48 03:24:37 03:28:12 03:24:43 07:48

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


"I am not a conspiracy theorist", is pretty much the caveat that every conspiracy theorist opens with, just before launching into their theory.

So here is mine:

I will not re-hash the Greek debt crisis (See here if you are curious about it, but somehow never heard of it till now) The upshot is that the Greeks wanted another bail-out and Germany said Nein!

Now, millions of "refugees" are streaming into Europe and heading mainly for Germany. Which country in Europe is next to the middle east? Greece!


Merkel is showing grim-faced resolution by committing to taking millions of these people and settling them in Germany.

My theory will be, not exactly proven, but given some heft if in the next year or so, some financial solution is found for Greece and the flow of migrants slows-down. And that is if everything works. Given the famed Greek reputation of excellent planning and execution, they may try to stop the flow but fail. Now that bunches of Syrians and others are happily ensconced in Germany, their relatives and friends will want to join the party.

UPDATE: The UK just voted to exit the EU! This could all be traced back to Obama "leading from behind" on Syria. Good job champ! You wanted the UK to stay together but you caused them to break-up.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making My Weight

I was sorely tempted to weigh myself after going for a run: I was planning on going for a run anyway and should come back a couple of pounds lighter... I knew I would regret it if I came in at 155 lbs or more, but if I went for a run and came back below 155 I could never know if I was below before running.

Note: For some reason Blogger cut off the right side of the pictures, so to see the whole weight on the scale, you can click on the picture and see the whole thing.

Whew! Okay, that was close.

Last time I made a weight, I had just made 150 lbs and my body weight had been 145-150 in those days, so I thought "mission accomplished". Nope. I weighed in at 158 lbs! It was last February and the snow kept me from making even half the normal running mileage*. It was most disappointing; I was lifting 5 more pounds, but had gained 10 pounds--I was actually getting worse, in a relative fashion.

I know, it is kind of numerology, what difference does it make if you can lift your own weight over your head? I can't say it makes a difference but it was a goal that I had since starting to lift a couple of years ago. It was a goal that I thought would be pretty easy too: I lifted for about three months in high school and was able to surpass my body weight by ten pounds. As a distance runner and young, my body fat level must have been in the single digits, so I was essentially just muscles, skin and bones. Now I am a middle aged man with a middle aged dad-bod.

The bar is 45 lbs, and there are two each of 35 and 10 lb disks and four 5 lb plates. Total 155.

What did I do differently this time? Normally, I start with the 35 lb plates because I want a warm-up weight of less than 135 lbs, which is what you get with two 45 lb plates and one 45 lb bar. I would switch back to the 45 lb plates once I got above 135 lbs. This time I decided to just work with teh smaller plates. In theory, I have to do more work to lift the barbell when the smaller diameter plates are on, since the bar is about 1 1/2 inch lower at the starting point. The height of the lifted weight is the same either way. The reason it is easier is that there is a lot more strength at the bottom of a lift and so by the time I am a couple of inches off the floor, I am moving faster with the small diameter plates compared to the larger ones. That added momentum takes me to the top.

*I missed out on running around 70 miles in Feb, this translates to about 7,000 calories, which should be around two lbs. I must have been eating heavily too.