March 2016, Part 3
Jim Miller on Politics
News About Exercise You May Be Able To Use: (Just don't hate me if you try it and don't like it.)
People who are serious about exercise — which I haven't been for several years now — mostly already know this, but it was news to me, and may be news to some of you, too.
Gretchen Reynolds describes a key study in this New York Times Q&A:
When Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada and an expert on intervals first began studying their effects, he asked young male volunteers to grunt through all-out 30-second intervals performed at 100 percent of the men's aerobic capacity. The volunteers became much more fit after a few minutes a week of such strenuous interval training, but they also generally hated the process, Dr. Gibala said.In the rest of the Q&A, she discusses variations that are even quicker, and variations that take a little longer, but that most find more tolerable.
There are, sadly, no numbers other than the interval times and the aerobic percents, so you won't learn how much you might gain from this kind of training.
(This makes me think that perhaps I should add a few brief sprints to my regular brisk walks.)
- 12:40 PM, 24 March 2016 [link]
How Smart Is Donald Trump? Is he a genius, or super genius, as he likes to say?
We can be almost certain of that for the same reasons we can be almost certain that Barack Obama is not a genius.
Neither man has released his SAT tests, or the results of an IQ test. Neither man received any scholastic honors in high school, or as an undergraduate.
And, most telling, neither man scored high enough on an initial National Merit test to go on to the next round. We know that because National Merit publicizes those who do, and local papers routinely run small articles about these smart kids.
Both men are smarter than average with IQs, at a guess, in the 110-120 range. But they are not geniuses, though each is very smart in some areas.
(It is possible that neither man took the National Merit test, but unlikely given their schools, and their ambitions to go on to college.)
- 9:57 AM, 24 March 2016 [link]
Which Republican Candidate Has The Best Chance Of Winning — Assuming He Gets The Nomination? We can get rough estimates from our friends, the British bettors.
As I write, Donald Trump has a 71.4 percent chance of winning the nomination and a 19.4 percent chance of being elected president. So his conditional probability is 27.7 percent.
Doing the same calculation for Ted Cruz and John Kasich, we get 22.3 percent and 37.8 percent, respectively. (When I have done this calculation in previous weeks, Cruz was in second place, not third.)
So the man with the best chance of winning the general election, John Kasich, has the least chance of being nominated.
Assuming, of course, that the British bettors know what they are doing, collectively.
(My own guesstimate: I would give Kasich a much higher chance of winning the general election, and Cruz a somewhat higher chance.
Reminder: The numbers are updated every five minutes, so your results are likely to be slightly different from mine.)
- 9:29 AM, 24 March 2016 [link]
Professor Miyatsuka Studies North Korea: By collecting everything he can get from that nation, including its garbage.
KOFU, Japan—Toshio Miyatsuka’s office is cluttered with pots, toys, packs of cigarettes and women’s underwear. Carelessly tossed on a pile are sheets of paper with scribbled diagrams for missile equipment. Though some of the stuff comes from garbage heaps, there’s a good reason to keep it all, he says. Everything is from North Korea.Professor Miyatsuka has published "10 books about North Korea, some of which chronicle his adventures and the objects he has gathered over the years". Which isn't bad, though I fear none of them made the New York Times best seller list.
I would guess that intelligence officers from at least three nations, Japan, South Korea, and the United States, have had a few friendly chats with him, about his findings.
(The Journal article has fifteen pictures showing parts of his collection. I found some of them fascinating.)
- 8:66 AM, 24 March 2016 [link]
There's A Good Chance That Bernie Sanders Will Win Washington This Saturday: Why do I think so?
Because the Democratic Party here uses caucuses to choose delegates, and party activists are to the left of Democratic voters, so caucuses are better for him than primaries.
And because Sanders apparently thinks so, judging by the amount of money he has been spending on TV ads here. (The Clintons seem to agree, since they have been spending time here, too.)
(There's a good chance that Sanders has some private polls that give him reason for hope. I haven't seen any public polls, and wouldn't pay much attention to them if I did, since caucuses are so hard to poll.)
- 8:25 PM, 23 March 2016 [link]
According To Theodore Dalrymple, Molenbeek, the Brussels "neighborhood" now famous for Islamic terrorists, is not really part of Belgium, anymore..
On my visit to that quarter of Brussels a few years ago, I could see the dangers clearly enough. People like Salah Abdeslam, the terrorist arrested there a few days ago, would swim like a fish in the sea there, to use a Maoist metaphor. Between the sympathetic locals, and the rest of the population—whom they could intimidate into silence—it would be easy for them to hide. This social world is impenetrable to the forces of the state. My informant told me that the Belgian government is unable to collect taxes from businesses there—though it is, apparently, able to distribute social security.That intimidation extends, as I understand it, to what kind of businesses can operate in Molenbeek. For instance, it's not a good place to sell some of Belgium's wonderful beer.
(Technically, Molenbeek is not a neighborhood, or a "quarter", but a municipality, with its own city government. The Muslim population is not, as you might have guessed, a majority there, though it is close, at 39.3 percent. Almost certainly Muslims are in the majority in many parts of Molenbeek.)
- 6:41 PM, 23 March 2016 [link]
Good News On Mosquito Control? Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a new way to kill mosquito larvae, including the larvae of the mosquito that carries so many diseases, including the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti.
The researchers take a favorite food of the larvae, yeast, and poison it with lemongrass oil.
“The big problem is water,” [Ravi] Durvasula says. ”In big cities in many parts of the world, especially the developing world, there are big cisterns that store water. There’s standing water in tires and puddles. They are breeding grounds for mosquitos.”Let's hope the field tests are successful.
- 2:31 PM, 23 March 2016 [link]
Another Reason Terrorists Use TATP: Yesterday, I mentioned that the ingredients are readily available in the Western world. But TATP (triacetone triperoxide) has another advantage for terrorists.
As a non-nitrogenous explosive, TATP has historically been more difficult to detect, and it has been implicated as the primary high explosive used in terrorist attacks in Europe in 2016 and earlier.So detectors that could spot nitroglycerin or a nitrate fertilizer-fuel oil mix would miss TATP. (I don't know whether dogs can be trained to spot it, but, if so, I assume it would take additional training beyond the kind used for nitrogenous explosives.)
Presumably, the terrorists think that harder-to-detect characteristic makes up for the dangers in making and using the explosive. Apparently, it really is a good idea to get training before you make what some terrorists have taken to calling the "Mother of Satan".
- 12:56 PM, 23 March 2016 [link]
Bernie Sanders, Conscientious Objector — And Commander In Chief? Retired Navy Captain Bill Graves raises an interesting question.
I never hear it mentioned that Bernie Sanders is a conscientious objector, defined as a person who refuses to serve in the military or bear arms because of moral or religious beliefs. Somebody please tell him that as president, he would be the commander in chief of our armed forces.Is Sanders still a conscientious objector? As far as I know. He certainly hasn't changed many other beliefs in the last fifty years.
If any "mainstream" reporters have asked him whether he has changed his beliefs, I've missed it.
(Younger readers may not know that, decades ago, it was routine for reporters to ask presidential candidates about their qualifications to be commander in chief.)
- 10:30 PM, 23 March 2016 [link]
The Latest Andrew Malcolm Occasional* Collection of jokes.
Malcolm used this joke for his headline:
Meyers: Ben Carson didn’t plan to endorse anyone until Trump offered him a job. Carson would run the Department of No Energy.There are six anti-Donald Trump jokes in the collection. This was my favorite:
Conan: It’s being reported that Democrats have a plan to “shatter the Republican Party.” When he heard that, Donald Trump said, “Beat you to it!”There is one Kasich joke, the first I've seen. It doesn't work very well, which may help explain why Kasich jokes are rare.
The Secret Service Trump joke is so obvious that many who follow politics would be able to tell you the punch line, after hearing the first part of the joke — but it might appeal to those who don't follow politics closely.
(*Malcolm was doing these weekly, but has switched to putting up jokes each week day on his Twitter page. Whenever he puts up one of these occasional collections, I'll link to it.)
- 10:00 AM, 23 March 2016 [link]
A Different View Of The Brussels Terrorist Attack: From time to time,, it is useful to remind ourselves that millions, sometimes billions, of other people have a very different picture of the world than we do.
ISIS may have claimed responsibility for the attack, the authorities may say ISIS is responsible, and Western news organizations may agree.
But not everyone does. If the person, "ibmsukI", who wrote what is currently the worst rated comment on that Daily Mail story is being serious — and I think he (or possibly she) is, then he has a very different picture of the events, and the world, than most of us here in the West do. .
wonder who's really behind all these so called terror attacks? Is it the CIA, NATO You have to stop blaming Arabs. Who's financing ISIS?And, before you dismiss him as a lone nut, note that the comment received, as I write, 742 up arrows to go with the 4,818 down arrows>
To make matters even worse, we should recognize that, were the Daily Mail being published in the Middle East (except for Israel), there would be far more up arrows, and far fewer down arrows.
(From the screen name, I'd guess that the writer is a left-wing techie, and perhaps a supporter of the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.)
- 7:11 PM, 22 March 2016 [link]
If It's An Election Year, It Must Be Time for an interview with Yale economics professor Ray Fair, if only to ask him what his presidential election model is predicting.
It should be a good year for the Republican candidate, he says, though, like me, he isn't sure how Donald Trump will affect the race.
You will do better to go to his site to look at the model than read that interview, but, as I write, the site is timing out. Most likely, it is just down, temporarily.
(Fair missed in 1992, but has a good record, otherwise.. This recent post is based, partly, on his model.)
- 2:53 PM, 22 March 2016 [link]
So How Choctaw Is Lexi? Even with the terrorist attack in Brussels, you probably heard about the little girl being taken away from her foster parents.
Social workers seized a hysterical six-year-old girl from the home of her white foster family on Monday because she is part Native American.The Daily Mail says she's 1.5 percent Choctaw, but NBC says 1/64 (1.5625 percent), which makes more sense.
So, because one great-great-great-great-grandparent was a Choctaw, Lexi belongs to that tribe.
(Many tribes would consider that too small a "blood quantum", for membership.)
- 1:37 PM, 22 March 2016 [link]
That Night Raid Prohibition, Again: This morning I had skimmed through the international sections of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times before I got up and turned on the TV news.
I didn't notice anything that would have made me think a terrorist attack was about to occur when those newspapers were published, but I did see, again, this odd prohibition.
They raided dozens of homes in the neighborhood, known as Molenbeek, as they hunted down Mr. Abdeslam, one of the 10 men suspected of carrying out the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris and the only one still alive. They rounded up his friends and fellow drug dealers and thieves, and interrogated members of his family.I have seen that night time prohibition in at least four, and probably more, articles by now, but I have not seen an explanation for the prohibition, although it seems clear enough that the police don't like it.
(Often such prohibitions are enacted after some horribly botched actions by the police, such as a raid on the wrong target.)
- 9:02 AM, 22 March 2016 [link]
The Daily Mail Has Enough Pictures Of The Terror Attacks: in Brussels to satisfy almost anyone.
Cowering under desks and running for their lives, this is the terrifying moment passengers were caught up in a suicide bomb attack at Brussels Airport this morning in a series of blasts that have killed at least 34 people across the city.As usual, you should assume that some of the details in the early reports are wrong, since there are almost always errors in the early reports.
Nonetheless, is seems almost certain that the attacks were perpetrated by the branch pf ISIS that attacked Paris, in November.
One of the clues — assuming the authorities are correct — is that they used ISIS"s favorite explosive, TATP. (In the future, you might want to pay special attention to anyone buying large quantities of hair bleach and nail polish remover.)
My sympathies to the victims of these attacks, and to their friends and families..
- 8:29 AM, 22 March 2016 [link]
Another Good Headline Joke From The Seattle Times: "Cuba tells its people to behave for the Obama trip"
I don't think the headline writer was joking, intentionally.
(To be fair, the sub-sub-headline is more accurate: "No tolerance for dissent as activists detained and warned, buildings painted, roads paved")
- 4:11 PM, 21 March 2016 [link]
Welcome To Cuba, President Obama: The Communist regime is doing its best to make your visit peaceful.
Cuban police forcibly broke up a pro-democracy demonstration and arrested several dozen activists on Sunday, just hours before Barack Obama was to arrive in Havana to become the first US president to visit Cuba in almost 90 years.Why do Obama and the Castros need this show to go smoothly?
In order to influence the US Congress, says Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
President Obama travels to Havana this week in an effort to extract concessions, not from Communist Cuba, but from the U.S. Congress. To that end, get ready for what the late, great entertainment host Ed Sullivan might have called “a really big shew.”Pro-democracy protesters would spoil that show, so the regime (and Obama?) think it best to keep them locked away during his visit.
- 7:18 AM, 21 March 2016 [link]
Sometimes The Critics are right.
(Or, if you prefer, hindsight is often 20/20.)
- 6:38 AM, 21 March 2016 [link]
Those AfD Gains In Germany: The Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland) made large gains in local elections in Germany, adding to their previous gains..
With the refugee debate remaining the dominant national issue, on 12–13 March 2016 elections held in the three states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt saw the AfD receiving double-digit percentages of the vote in all three states. In the 2016 Saxony-Anhalt state election, the AfD reached second place in the Landstag, receiving 24.2% of the vote. In the 2016 Baden-Württemberg state election, the AfD received third place with 15.1% of the vote. In the 2016 Rhineland-Palatinate state election, the AfD again reached third place with 12.6% of the vote.(I eliminated two "citation needed" notes.)
By way of comparison, the AfD received 4.7 percent of the votesin the 2013 federal election (just missing the 5.0 percent threshold for seats), and 7.1 percent of the votes in the 2014 European election.
AfD now has 102 of the 1,857 seats in the state parliaments. (And, I would guess, is likely to gain more in future state elections.)
The next federal election is scheduled for 2017. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the AfD won 10, or even 15, percent, of the vote, then.
What kind of party is it? By American standards, a moderately conservative, moderately "nationalist" party, though you will often see it called "far right". The moderately nationalist is the more important part of that description, as you may have guessed.
If you use the color scheme common in most of the world, where red is for left and blue is for right, then the light blue chosen for the party seems about right to me.
(Note: I saw several newspaper articles on AfD's gains, but thought the information in this Wikipedia article was much easier to make sense of — mostly because the authors of the Wikipedia article used the numbers in better ways.)
- 11:07 AM, 20 March 2016 [link]
Ben Clovis Can Believe Impossible Things Before — And After —Breakfast: Here's the headline: "Not Kidding: Senior Donald Trump Advisor Says Riots Aren’t Violence".
And here's the article. if you want to be sure the headline is accurate. (I think it is.)
Note that Clovis succeeded, that the interviewers were so flummoxed by that claim that they allowed him to continue on his merry way. It can be difficult, even for good interviewers, to respond appropriately to absurdities like that — unless they have reason to expect them.
- 7:41 AM, 20 March 2016 [link]
Butterscotch, Cinnamon, Peach, Blueberry, Piña Colada, And Pumpkin Pie: All common flavors, right?
But flavors of what? Among other things, moonshine.
Since Tennessee relaxed its liquor laws in 2009, about 10 distilleries have cropped up here in Sevier County, which draws millions of visitors annually to the lush mountains and the Dollywood amusement park. Flavors include blueberry muffin, piña colada, pumpkin pie and eggnog.The new distilleries still sell the more familiar, unflavored versions, and often claim to be using old family recipes.
(I'm not planning to buy any soon, but i'll admit that I might taste the butterscotch and peach versions, if free samples were being offered.)
- 7:17 AM, 20 March 2016 [link]
What's The Obama Administratio Policy On Captured ISIS Terrorists? To the extent it has one, the administration intends to turn them over to the Iraqi government.
The U.S. military has no plans to hold captured Islamic State operatives for more than a month before turning them over to the Iraqi government, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition based in Baghdad told reporters Friday.There is a practical problem with this solution: The prisons run by our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been perfectly secure; in fact they have been targets for terrorist attacks.
And there is, most likely, a humanitarian problem. Except, of course, for Israel, prisons in Middle East are rarely run in ways that would satisfy human rights organizations.
- 1:55 PM, 18 March 2016 [link]
Amusing And/Or Appalling: Jason Howorwitz's article describing Donald Trump's life — as seen by Trump's long-time butler, Anthony Senecal.
Examples: Senecal calls Trump the king, and once had "Hail to the Chief" played for him, when he thought Trump was in a bad mood. The library is "filled with rare first-edition books that no one in the family ever read". Trump is currently suing the local airport, and has sued the town more than once, over such issues as the size of his flagpole.
Oh, and some of Trump's habitual lies bother even Senecal.
If you want a king with lousy taste for a president, Trump's your man.
(Senecal's name is awfully close to seneschal, similar enough so that I suspect he may be descended from servants.)
- 1:12 PM, 18 March 2016 [link]
A Greek Minister Said A Bad Word: And may lose his job because of it.
The word? "Macedonia".
Greece’s migration minister is under pressure to resign after referring to the country’s northern neighbor as Macedonia, a name Greece doesn’t accept.In the view of most Greeks, "Macedonia" is their name, and shouldn't be used by a bunch of upstart former Yugoslavs.
Unfortunately for the Greeks, almost no one outside Greece cares about the issue, and so they carelessly say "Macedonia", instead of "FYROM", which Greece prefers. Minister Mouzalas has probably been spending a lot of time with foreigners lately, and so picked up their bad habit.
(You can learn something about the history of the name from the Wikipedia article on the Republic of Macedonia.)
- 10:07 PM, 18 March 2016 [link]
St. Patrick's Day Is Difficult For Our Public Schools: Because, after all, how do you discuss the day without mentioning that Catholics, and some Protestants, think he's a saint, which is not an easy subject to discuss in a secular classroom.
But I do think our schools could do better than this.
And I suppose most of them do.
- 4:36 PM, 16 March 2016 [link]
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
And if you would like to go beyond the green beer, the pinches for those not wearing green, the rivers dyed green, and, this year, the complaints that those who celebrate a particular kind of sins are not allowed in all the parades, you may want to read this Wikipedia biography of the saint. We know little about the man for certain, but what little we do know is fascinating.
(Recycled from 2008, and if you still haven't read that article on St. Patrick, let me urge you to do so.)
- 4:21 PM, 16 March 2016 [link]
Donald Trump Is Keeping Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler Busy: In this column, Kessler attempts, with incomplete success* to discover just how much money Trump made by himself.
Here are two selections I found especially revealing:
Trump's father - whose name had been besmirched in New York real estate circles after investigations into windfall profits and other abuses in his real estate projects - was an essential silent partner in Trump's initiative [building the Grand Hyatt]. In effect, the son was the front man, relying on his father's connections and wealth, while his father stood silently in the background to avoid drawing attention to himself.At this point, I am going to speculate a little bit, going beyond what a fact checker like Kessler should. Let me suggest that, simplifying greatly, you could divide Donald Trump's business career into three parts. In the first, with backing — and probably considerable guidance — from his father he had some profitable deals in New York. (His father passed away in 1999.)
In the second part, Trump went out on his own and failed, with four corporate bankruptcies and many other failed ventures.
In the third part, he began franchising his name, selling it to anyone who wanted a cheap way to pretend they were creating a product for the wealthy, and there he has had some success on his own. There is, for instance, a hotel in Hawaii with his name on it — but he doesn't own any of it; he just sold his name to the actual hotel company.
That is, as I said, speculation. But I believe it is broadly consistent with the facts available to the public.
(You can find a description in his Wikipedia biography of some Fred Trump scandals.
*Incomplete because so much of Trump's financial deals are not matters of public record. Trump could release all those records, if he wanted to, though it might take his financial people some weeks to prepare them. He could show us a lot in a few days if he were to release his income tax returns — as he promised to do. Most likely he hasn't because they would show that he has not been telling the truth about his finances. And, possibly, reveal other problems, politically.)
- 4:00 PM, 16 March 2016 [link]
News On Heart Disease You May Be Able To Use: According to studies, working long hours — more than 45 hours a week over years — is directly correlated with an increase in heart disease.
And the longer the hours, the greater the increase.
(I am no expert on this subject, but in my experience those who worked long hours were also under high levels of stress, which I believe is also associated with higher risks of heart disease. The reporter, Nicholas Bakalar, doesn't say whether they tried to control for stress in these studies. Unless our measures for stress are better than I think they are, that would be possible, but not easy, if you want clean results.)
- 10:51 AM, 16 March 2016 [link]
The 1952 Surge In Voting: Two days ago, I mentioned that both presidential candidates, both Eisenhower and Stevenson, were popular with the voters in 1952.
You can see that popularity in the surge of total votes between 1948 and 1952, from 48,794,710 to 61,751,742. Stevenson lost in a landslide — but received more votes: 27,375,090, than Truman had in his 1948 victory: 24,179,347.
(That's still true, by the way, if you combine Truman's votes with the votes from two candidates who had split off from the Democratic Party, Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace.)
- 9:14 AM, 16 March 2016 [link]
Michael Ramirez Recognizes A RINO when he sees one.
(If you use the term — Republican In Name Only — logically, you will soon decide that RINOs are almost non-existent, that almost all elected Republicans and party officials are quite loyal to the Republican Party, and have been becoming more so as our two major parties became more cohesive, in recent decades.
(For some, it's just a random term of abuse, the way "fascist" is in some leftist circles.)
In fact, I can think of only two prominent Republicans who can reasonably be called RINOs, Ron Paul and, of course, Donald Trump.
So what should we make of a talk show host who saw so many RINOs where none existed, and now misses an obvious RINO? I think we can call attention to his vision errors by dubbing him Rush Magoo.)
- 8:35 AM, 16 March 2016 [link]
Filled Out Your Brackets Yet? No, not the basketball brackets, the mammal brackets.
The animal competition kicked off Monday, a week ahead of the men’s basketball tournament, with a brawl between the Thor’s hero shrew and King Midas bat. The shrew won.You are too late to do the whole thing this year, since it started ten days ago, but you might want to fill out the remaining parts of the brackets, if only as practice for next year.
This contest strikes me as more intellectually challenging than the basketball contest, since the styles of "play" are so different.
You can find more information here, and lists of past =winners at Wikipedia.
- 7:52 AM, 17 March 2016 [link]