My deteriorating attitude

I know, I know…life is as it ever was in “freedom” areas. But I have a higher risk elderly wife and, well, I don’t want this crap either.

And I here of our ICU and ventilators filling up…yes, some vaccinated and boosted but many..the majority..vast majority..unvaccinated.

And there is the temptation to express schadenfreude.
But then I read about the anguish of someone who tried to persuade a dear friend, relative, parent, sibling or offspring to get vaccinated..were unsuccessful ..and then…bam…said loved one is fighting for their life in the hospital.

It is just heartbreaking to see.

And yeah, I am taking a hiatus from yoga classes. The Riverplex has a mask mandate that is enforced at the door but nowhere else. So I know an hour of yoga in my KN-95 is probably safe (class is vaccinated/boosted) but I just get disgusted with how so few follow the mandate; I just don’t want to see them. So my break is more for my mind than anything else.

So…another semester starts. I am sure that there will be some major disruptions this time around; here we are coming off of a delta wave and omicron is just starting…could be a rough 2-4 more weeks. I expect colleagues to have to isolate and students to miss class.

I wouldn’t say that I am running on empty; it is that I won’t enjoy this as much as I would normally enjoy this semester; the things I am teaching ARE interesting and fun. Oh well, just typing that made me smile.

Workout notes: half hearted stretching (felt it on the walk to the office); 22 fake miles on the bike in 1:03; resistance break down was 3-11-8. Time to work on getting more of the harder resistance.

My COVID strategy: treat it as a storm

We are at 18.55 percent positive tests. And yes, what we have here is mostly delta as opposed to the less damaging omicron.

Hospitalizations: I’ve listed August 18, December 22 and December 29. Note the change in 1 week, and in that week, cases exploded ..mostly delta.

But, well, most simply don’t care, at least here. So..I’ve got some KN-95 masks, my 2 shots and booster, and I’ll hunker down; mostly work activities only until cases subside to at least October levels..maybe early November will be ok.

I sold our NFL tickets and will probably catch the basketball games on ESPN+ (renewed my subscription); pity Bradley won’t make a vaccine mandate to go games the way that Illinois did. But Illinois is a major program; not as dependent on money from FREEDUM MAGA morons.

Now when cases go down, as they will eventually, I’ll see you at the arena. I am confident I’ll get baseball again.

But for now, I am in “storm mode” and will leave shelter when the storm passes ..and maybe the next variant will be more mild than omicron, which is a step down from delta.

Workout notes: yes, yoga class: 3 masked, vaccinated and boosted individuals in a large room, followed by 1:02:30 on the bike. I’ve made moved to up the intensity to give myself a better workout. The butt feels better but I am not getting the calorie burn that I got with walking, so I need to cut back on eating a bit.

Random rants (empty inside, etc.)

Well, yes, it appears that we are getting another wave

New York Times. Fortunately football does not appear to be driving it, but I am still masking up for personal protection. (KN-95)

But though I am doing more than I did in 2020, I admit that my normally “not that charitable” attitudes have become worse; my “cup of care” is basically empty.

From the above NYT link, the vaccinated are 5 times less likely to get COVID and 13 times less likely to die from it (when one adjusts for age)

This chart is local and does not adjust for age; it does distinguish boosted from non-boosted. And even sans age adjustment (54 percent vaccination rate among the population), well, look for yourself.

But, none of this has any effect on the hard core anti-vax morons. “See: you can still get it and spread it”, they say. Yes, sober people get in car wrecks, non smokers get lung cancer, and fit people can get heart attacks.

Of course, they miss that point entirely, and frankly I am sick of it. And arguing is a waste of time.

Wokeness I made a small mistake of entering into a woke pile on…and encountered the following gem:

Look at the last line: that, IMHO, is what wokeism is about: the null hypothesis (base assumption) is the said figure is indeed a bigot (whatever flavor) and the burden of proof is on those who would refute the claim.

I always believed that the burden of proof was on the accuser (“the null hypothesis” is “not guilty”) but, IMHO, this is a distinguishing characteristic of a “woke.” If you want proof of guilt, or at least compelling evidence, I don’t consider you to be a woke.

General stupidity

Student loans came up and, more than once, I’ve seen college graduates complain that they regularly paid on loans and the amount owed never went down..or even went up. (yep, probably the same “mashed potatoes for brains” that tell me that I don’t understand logic or reasoning..but I digress)

Simple fact: loans come with interest, and every period of time (usually a month at a time) that you keep the money, interest accrues.Example: suppose you take out a loan of 100,000 dollars at 3 percent annual rate.Each month, the interest on the loan is 100,000 (0.029596/12) = 246.63.

That is, if you pay exactly 246.63, you would have paid the interest ONLY and not made the principle (the amount borrowed) go down at all!!!

If you paid 250 that month, you would have knocked off a whopping 3.37 off of that 100,000 dollar amount.If you paid 200 dollars, then you’d know owe 100,046.63 on the loan. The amount you now owe has gone UP, not down.

I remember back in 1985: I went to the “graduate student orientation” at the University of Texas. We were warned to be mindful of the debt we might accumulate. We were told something like “If you are getting a master’s in electrical engineering, you’ll make enough to pay it back. But if you are getting some sort of arts degree, you might not be able to, so watch what you borrow.”

But yes, you are supposed to take them seriously.

Extra Burdens And of course, I see all types doing “self advocacy.” Here is where I think much of this goes wrong: right now, people are mostly overburdened and overstressed. If you want something from them (more time, more effort, etc.) you have to explain why it is in their interests to make such an investment; something like “I deserve it” isn’t going to convince anyone.

It is as if activists and advocates think that if their cause is righteous enough, it should win, even without salesmanship or convincing. And it does not work that way. At least, I don’t think that it does, and I haven’t seen evidence that it does.

Rittenhouse verdict: my thoughts.

This might be a good place to see the legal aspects.

I think it is undeniably true that his actions..going to the protest armed like that..were stupid and irresponsible. I don’t know enough about the law to know if they were illegal.

Legal considerations aside: my worry is that this event just adds to the “shoot ’em up” culture; what if, next time, an armed protester sees someone like this as a legitimate threat and shoots first?

So, this celebrating the verdict disgusts me, even if the verdict was correct on legal grounds (don’t know enough to comment one way or the other).

But…the divisions and the reactions:

No, this verdict doesn’t mean it is “open season” on protesters. The victims in question, in one form or another, went after a man with a civilian version of an assault rifle.

No, Ritttenhouse is no hero. I’d never hire him for anything, much less a congressional internship. I would NOT want him on my campus.

Yes, this disgusts me:

And yes, I can see some of the emotion: though the eyes of some conservatives, it appears that someone “did something about” the looting and violence that seemed to go on, with impunity, at some BLM protests. “About time”, they say.

Yes, I’ve consistently denounced such violence and looting.

And yes, some liberals have been supportive of it..

And yes, some of the “woke” in academia compare the killing of those protesters with what happens ..in the workplace. Really. I have no doubt that things are sometimes unfair, but ..comparing this to getting away with shooting someone with an AR-15? Really?

Sigh…

It is kind of weird. I am well to the left of center in most of my views (by US standards). But I see this whole incident as a threat to order and public safety, which, if you think about it, is a very classical conservative way of thinking of things. From my point of view, some things are upside down.

Workout notes yesterday, did 32 minutes on the bike, after rehab (banded walks), pull ups (did 1-2-3-3-2-1, 5-4-3-2-1, 5-4-3-2-1, then sets to get 60 reps), push ups (much better range of motion), rows, curls, shoulder presses (10 x 85, 10 x 85, 10 x 90 seated, supported).

Things are looking up; yesterday, 14:20 mpm walking with breaks at 1.1, 2.1 after yoga; weighed in at 199.

On being taken seriously, etc.

I waded into a couple of somewhat heated discussions on Twitter.

One involved Steven Pinker, who, while loved by many, is absolutely despised by many of the Twitter woke.

I was amused; someone referred him to as a pop-writer and I reminded him that Pinker is in the National Academy of Science…(he is: linguistics) and stated that he was far more accomplished and smarter than the vast majority of his critics.

OMG, was there some butthurt!!! I love it.

Sure, Pinker often writes pop stuff over things not in his area, just like Paul Krugman does. And I am sure that some of it (at least) is an over simplification and he probably gets some things wrong, or at least gives a misleading impression.

And yes, some very smart people ..even Nobel Laureates in physics…have gone full crackpot. So the probability that some of his mediocre (or worse) critics are right and he is wrong is non-zero. But I know which way I’d bet.

And, IMHO, that is just reality.

I see an issue that I don’t know much about. On one hand, this proven smart guy, who is outside his specialty, makes a case saying “it is probably this way”..and some nobody says he is wrong.

I don’t have access to a CV..and unless I see the critic has at least some respect in said area, I am not going to take them seriously. …no more than I’d take “COVID is an overblown hoax” nonsense seriously.

Deeply gross?? What is “deeply gross” is how people want to be taken seriously when they’ve given no objective reason to do so.

Oh well…

The other issue was this one:

I had pointed out that in some cultures it is extra polite to take on a “sir, Madame”, etc. and of course the loudmouths threw a fit.

It is no skin off of my nose; I was merely pointing out that this could be awkward, but the noisy were not having any of it.

In my honest opinion, IF your goal is to win more acceptance into the broader community, you probably aren’t in a position to DEMAND it or to order everyone to bend to you..and your saying something doesn’t make it correct.

And speaking of Chappelle:

Streisand effect: Dave Chappelle threw shade at Hannah Gadsby so I decided to watch one of her specials on Netflix. I was expecting to be OUTRAGED. Instead I nodded off and fell asleep. Woke up, watched a short Bill Maher clip from a recent show and laughed so loudly that B wanted to know what was up (it was “woke Halloween Movies”; clip is elsewhere on my wall. I am not saying Gadsby was incompetent; her stage presence and delivery were pretty good. And some of her stuff was funny (her joke about making fun of Americans was “still punching up, but perhaps for not much longer”..But for me, the best “thought comedy” is the stuff where they say something that perhaps you thought of or felt but hadn’t put into words….even if the feelings aren’t the most noble ones.

Now, I would NOT say that Gadsby “wasn’t funny” but I would say that her humor really isn’t designed for me. There are all sorts of instances of that: sports specific jokes, discipline specific jokes, etc.

Another asymmetry

The clip is mostly asking Democrats to “dial it back.” Yes, he acknowledges the rage from the right wing is more shrill and more intense.

But there is something. The block of rabid, right wing MAGAs is, frankly, larger than any block the Democrats have. And it seems that much that comes from liberals (at least on social media) is “oh, you believe this…I HATE YOU…don’t you KNOW how BAD I HATE you!!!” and that is supposed to convince someone.

If you are in a tiny minority…no matter how righteous your cause is (or you THINK it is), rage will not change anyone’s mind. It is the wrong game plan, FOR US.

Maher goes on to note how it is NOT about “the issues.”

You can’t win over people who HATE YOU…and we seem to seek out such hate. There is an asymmetry here.

Now about the “National Divorce”: I want one. But I don’t want 2 countries. I want THREE. I don’t want MAGA-land (and their insistence that COVID is a hoax, or overblown…denial of science). I don’t want woke-a-stan either where even BRIDGE OPERATORS (they make a draw bridge go up and down) have to pursue equity and social justice

and any semblance of merit is called “white supremacy” and sex is a social construct. I don’t want the police abolished.

I want a third country which has a mix of people who can at least agree on some kernel of reality and have arguments/discussions on how to proceed from there.

Random rants and raves

First:

The I-74 bridge looks cool. Yoga today was a lot of lower back stuff and the walk…was probably about 3.3 but I didn’t start the watch until I was .25 into it (by mistake). Took breaks at 1, 2, and 2.6 miles to stretch it out.
Averaged 14:52 (outside walking is slower, and today was windy). Not super, but much better than Tuesday.

Now for general rants

Wokeness: this is a classic example. Yes, I know: these are college undergraduates, but unfortunately, the rest of us on the “left of center” are tarred by such antics (in this case, some students are upset that genetic males will be doing radiator repair and they want a “safe space” from genetic males.

Oh I know..they are saying “cis-males” which is a biological male that identifies that way.

I honestly think that colleges are doing their undergraduates a huge disscervice by not standing up to them. In the real world, these complaints would be considered ridiculous.

And that brings me to my second rant: it seems that many on the left see tantrum throwing as an agent of change. Yes, it might work on a college campus, but that is a very limited bubble.

In reality, the world is not going to rearrange itself to meet what you think your experience should be.

Oops, dinner calls.

The fissures in our society

Yes, when COVID first hit, the large blue urban states suffered the most. But currently, that is no longer true; the states hit the hardest tend to have mediocre to low vaccination rates, and ..yep..the Republican states.

And so it goes; vaccination and risk mitigation behaviors tend to break along party lines, even as some notable Republicans (e. g. Mitch McConnell) have tried to encourage masks and vaccinations.

Yes, science is hard. Yes, liberals are on the right side of this issue. But the very fact that “liberals are for it” turns others off. Some conservatives admit this.

Yes, sometimes loud liberals say some moronic things and “liberals say it” does not mean that anyone else should trust it. But once something gets polarized in this manner, doing something that requires all but universal community buy-in (like stopping the spread of a contagious virus) becomes all but impossible.

What is ironic is that much of what I learned about safety (risk mitigation, redundancy) came from my time in the nuclear Navy…one of the most conservative institutions in the country!

Now I cannot blame liberals for conservatives balking at these measures; some of the blame is can be placed on their placing INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM above and beyond responsibility to the communities in which they live.

But I can say that liberals are absolutely awful at convincing. They are even awful at what I call constructive shaming.

For one: people are more likely to accept a message from someone that they respect, and a first step is to, well, become worthy of respect yourself. And I don’t mean “you think that you are awesome” or that you think that others should respect your opinions; I mean, do something that earns the respect of others..which cannot be coerced.

IMHO, too many liberals deny human nature; to them, everything human, including thoughts and unconscious bias, is a social construct, that can be overcome with a good scolding.

And too many are concerned with thoughts rather than actions; no, we often do NOT act on thoughts. Yes, I am aware that he is a conservative but..

What is frustrating at times that many of the liberals who say ridiculous things (e. g. making kids memorize times tables is oppressive or “gate keeping”) are themselves very good at certain things (e. g. math, science); in a dual way, they remind me of some of the brilliant engineers I have met who are also…young earth creationists!

They say “religion poisons the mind” and I think there is a kernel of truth to that, for both the conventional religions and the secular ones (e. g. wokeness)

Being out of touch with today’s woke

Oh so long ago, ok, I did my undergraduate work from 1977-1981, and graduate from 1985-1991, there was one thing I wanted: to be treated fairly. As long as I had the some opportunities and was evaluated by the same standards everyone else was evaluated by, I was fine.

Keep in mind that within my lifetime, people were openly denied opportunities solely based on things like race and sex; that is, no matter how much aptitude and willingness to work they had, they were not given a shot.

That had changed when I entered the fray.
I was given a “fair whistle” (saying people use when talking about basketball..to get treated fairly by the referees)

I was good with that.

Yes, it is possible that some evaluating me might have thought that, statistically speaking, Latinos had lesser aptitude and perhaps I was the one special case that did. But I was judging my experience on an individual level; I really did not care about their thoughts about group norms.

And that makes me an out-of-touch dinosaur.

Why Democrats will continue to struggle…

Others have had things to say:

And Ann Coulter..bless her heart, has a point.

Matthew Yglesias has point:

But why?

One thing: language. Take the concept of “racism”. Many (most) think that if you treat people in a colorblind manner, you are not being racist. Not so with the woke activists:

The upshot: mortgage company wants to, well, make a profit. So they create financial criteria which will ensure that, but such criteria DOES make it harder for disadvantaged minorities to get a loan. So, to the woke: the company is being racist.

And that is the crux of the CRT stuff: racism, intentionally or not, is so baked into our institutions that being “objective” is to perpetuate racism. Most of the country, including many minorities, do not agree. (For what it is worth: this is why I am a fan of government investment programs to enable higher risk people to have a shot at things like home ownership. Make the criteria race neutral, but it will end up helping minorities more than others)

Anyway, that is one albatross around the neck of Democrats.

Here is another example: take homelessness. Hard working small business owner, of course, wants customers. Maybe they set up a booth in a festival held in a center city area. Organizers know that people won’t come unless they feel safe, so they take measures to discourage homeless people from camping/congregating in said areas.

“Activists” complain…manage to get said measures taken out. Homeless congregate, which leads to customers staying away, and the small business owner loses that opportunity. How do you think said business owner and potential workers are going to vote?

And that, in my opinion, is how liberals drive people away from the Democratic party. They take up the cause of the tiniest of statistical minorities and expect everyone else to turn their lives upside down to accommodate the wishes of said group…and scream that they are bigots if they don’t.

Yes, a colleague did remind me that the general public does not attend college social science seminars, but the Republicans find ways to do so, and blast out every “if you don’t memorize the 30+ gender pronouns you are a bigot” rant from a professor and tell the public “THIS IS WHAT OUR COLLEGES ARE DOING.” Seriously; I’ve been accused of doing such things, and I teach math!

And do we ever hand them ammunition to use on us…

And so, the Republicans have to be truly dreadful to lose…and in 2020, they were, at least at the top of the ticket.