Saturday, August 28, 2010

For goodness sake

First sentence of one of many NYTimes articles I'll never finish.

Television is on a creative roll, but for some reason the Emmys have slumped into Brezhnev-style stagnation, with the same shows winning the top honors year after year.
Brezhnev?  Really?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Odds and Sods

The Martinez Clan's, one of my many commentators -- which is to say the only one, recent comment reminded me of this:

Technically speaking the Spartans would have him but the overarching argument is a beaut.

Tomorrow is the epic ride of many miles -- perhaps as many as 10 -- during which a group of hyper competitive lycra louts will travel at speeds well in excess of 9 miles an hour on terrain as hilly as the Bonneville salt flats in death match to see who gets the secret recipe for mustarded burgers.

In preparation I am going to carbo load by eating five pounds of raw potatoes and, because of the distance and complicated route, will put this bell on the bike.

Also, because I care, in the days, weeks, and possibly months upcoming, I will post a post on how to make these panniers.

Because she is tired or possibly drunk our distinguished judge will, most likely, not be coming along.  Tonight after hiding her treat from herself twice -- the second time so well no one could find it, she decided to sleep off her excesses in the bathroom.

If you were wondering, Glenn Beck is not at all like Martin Luther King, despite the overlapping dates.

You know this last one wasn't really so much an update as it was an addendum.

This is nice

Yesterday Daniel Foster, an NRO flying monkey and all around dolt, published a bit on how poor NJ lost 400 million in Federal money, asking, rhetorically one assumes, How Vindictive Is This Administration.  The story is that NJ failed to hand in one slip of paper in a ninetybillion and eleventytwelve page long document and, consequently, they didn't get the dough.  Included in the post is video of NJ Gov. Chris Christie repeatedly bemoaning his fate as unfair.  He even said the Obama admin could have called or gone to intertubes and found the information.

First point, where's the how Conservatives and Republicans but especially conservative Republicans take responsibility so seriously automatically deploying thingamabob.  I've filled out some complicated grant applications and watched while colleagues completed dossiers of staggering length and complexity.  You make a mistake and, well, you made the mistake.

What happened in this case is revealing:
Christie publicly said Schundler had tried to give the correct information to a bungled question during the presentation, but video from the U.S. Department of Education released Thursday proved that did not happen.

Then Schundler, the individual responsible for the error, is fired per his own request. Foster calls this a
very unfortunate turn of events. Schundler was a dedicated reformer and an intellectual light in the administration. He was also as worthy an adversary of the teachers unions as the governor he served.
 However, as with all dark clouds there is a silver lining because
this story . . . reconfirms what we already knew, that Chris Christie is decisive, and a believer in accountability.
Got that?  Big deal Conservative/Republican governor and leading candidate for 2012, right behind Palin, complains that the Obama admin has the temerity to hold his admin responsible for an error, which -- according to a flying monkey -- is proof of the Obama's vindictiveness. When it turns out that Christie was in error that proves that Christie holds accountability sacred.  The Obama admin, presumably, continues to be as vindictive as ever; what with its forcing everyone to follow the rules attitude. I mean really are these the kind of guys and gals you want screaming at the guy or gal trying to drive the bus of state through obstacle course of history?

I found out the stuff about Christie being wrong from another Weblog; I thought it was Think Progress but cannot find the webpage now.  I did want, however, to be clear on getting the information from somewhere and if I find it later will post it.

Former New Jersey Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, who was fired today by Gov. Chris Christie (R) amid accusations that he'd lied to the governor about an error in the state's application for federal Race to the Top money, is now saying that he did not mislead the governor at all.

Multi Users

By the way, it was really nice day today and  as a sign that the rules I posted recently are having a positive effect, with one glaring exception every single person on the path regardless of mode of use was a peach.  Even the joggers. 

The one exception was Seqway riding guy who is a jackass not just because he bought one, I mean really, but because he rides it down the pathway way to fast. The rules are clear on motors and this case is also covered under and by Paragraph 12 section 8 subsection 22, which clearly states that no idiotic means of  transportation are allowed on the pathway.  Segways are idiotic q.e.d..


I find this hard to believe.

That's right segregation seemingly is alive a well.

On Waiting

I like  J.M. Marshall seems like a nice guy and the whole enterprise offers interesting takes on complicated issues and does a very good job of updating stories as more information becomes available.  Consequently, I find it odd that he and the rest of the staff are going all in on Sarah Palin's role in the current round of elections.  Here he calls her the new Republican "kingmaker" and links to this article to prove it. The article discusses the various candidates Palin endorsed and claims that she was key to this or that victory.  Consider, however, a couple of examples of this evidence.  For Nikki Haley, the link takes you to an article about Palin recording a robo-call for Haley. But it has zero evidence for the call's effectiveness. For Tom Emmer, the evidence is actually a brief bio and discussion of how crazy his political positions are. It also contains nothing about Palin's actual influence on the electorate. Palin's kingmaking prowess is assumed by TPM and everyone else discussing the current elections because at this point there is nothing like sufficient evidence to prove anything.  It's almost like everyone in the media wants Palin to matter instead of doing the right thing witch is pointing and laughing. Keep in mind that Palin is still seen as "extreme" by 55% of US voters. A fact which helps when making the obvious point that she  is  a "crazy magnet that's pulling people to the right."   Before anointing the crazymagnet the kingmaker let's wait until for some evidence.


You know what the US left behind on the moon?  This fromLiberian president W.V.S. Tubman:
We salute these explorers of outer space and pray for their security and safety while we admire their courage and intrepidity. I ask them to bear this message to the inhabitants of the Moon if they find any there. If they do not, it is my desire that this message be one of greetings from the people of Liberia and myself to the Moon, Nebulous satellite of the Earth.
For more moon madness go here.

Brooks v Krugman Round Eleventyeleven

Shorter version of this post: It's easy to say anything when you know nothing or David Brooks is often or usually in error but never in doubt.

In his column tomorrow David Brooks, who has a BA from U Chicago in sociology and is just plain silly, argues that Germany is doing better than the US in terms of its recovery from the recent unpleasantness because of something or another.  Paul Krugman, who is an actual economist, shows that the facts, being stubborn things, tell a different story:
Who is right?  My money's on Krugman and not just because he is a real economist, I don't find economists to be particularly  compelling when it comes to explaining the world as it really is.

Nope my money's on Krugman because of this aspect of Brooks' argument:
Nations rise and fall on the intertwined strength of their cultures and governing institutions.
Can it possibly be the case that a professional blatherer has the information and knowledge necessary to pronounce on why nations rise and fall?  I mean really. Much of the work done on the development of the nation-state, which I assume is what Brooks means when he writes nations, suggests that a nation-state's rise has to do with the ability of an elite dedicated to the creation of a nation-state to convince a bunch of folks that they are a nation and that they deserve a state.[1]

Keeping in mind that nation-states are more or less a19th century invention,[2] the examples we have of their fall have little to do with the strength of their culture or political institutions but rather has to do with their ability to withstand other nation-states' military might, ability to manipulate of other nation-states diplomatically, or luck in avoiding or having the right side win a civil war.  Consider Poland's rich and miserable history.  Or the various states created in Paris in 1918-1923.  Or what happened in Russia in 1918-1921 or eastern Europe in 1945-1992 or Israel 1917-present or, for that matter, Germany in 1871-1918, 1918-1933, 1933-1945, 1945-1990, 1990-Present or, well, pick your own nation-state and read some its history.  It's might over culture and institutions every time except when it isn't.[3] 

In other words, why does this man have a column in America's Greatest Newspaper, when his expertise is in making stuff up and pretending that it's both truthful and serious.

[1] For example see Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities.
[2] If we accept, as I think we must, that the 19th century starts at 1789 and ends at 1914.
[3] If you're interested Spain is a good one enduring as it did reactionary Europe's destruction of its nascent liberalism in the early 19th century followed by a civil war in the late 19th century and another war in the 20th that involved a group of revolutionary reactionaries and European and, this time American, indifference.  Now that I think about I wonder what America's reaction was to the reactionary interventions in Spain and Italy in the 19th century was.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

False But Accurate

Stephen Spruiel, one of the flying monkeys[1] and professional dolts over at NRO, writes
Obama Administration Proposes Steps to Make Imported Goods More Expensive.
 Click on the link and discover that things might become more expensive because team Obama has decided to
crack down on illegal import practices and require parties to pay the full amount of any duties
and furthermore
 the plan . . .the department said is especially aimed at countries where the government has control over markets
and because
of the administration’s effort to double exports in the next five years to spur job growth, a goal President Barack Obama set in his State of the Union speech in January. Doubling exports would help support 2 million new jobs, the administration said. The American Iron and Steel Institute said that plan won’t succeed “if we allow competitive U.S. manufacturers to be weakened or destroyed” by dumped and subsidized imports.
That's right folks, the NRO is opposed to efforts to stop brutal and tyrannical regimes from engaging in illegal trade practices and a policy that might increase employment here and protect American jobs by leveling the playing field between brutal and tyrannical regimes and our freedom loving . . . Alright let's don't get carried away.

But you see the point here, I trust.  The NRO, which has been belaboring Obama's weakness re dictatorships via things like bowinggate, dislikes Obama's decision to stand up to the Chinese government cheating which takes jobs from Americans and send us back poisonous toys. They are opposed to law  enforcement and pro-Chicoms. They are, in short, defenders of tyranny and despotism.

Well, actually, clearly they are not.  What they are the kind of flying monkeys who can't find in themselves to agree with something they agree with. Why?  I am beginning to think that it is true that they aren't really Islamophobic or hostile to Obama because he is a Democrat or what have you but rather because they are all deranged. Or maybe their desire for political power is greater than their desire for enacting proposals and policies with which they agree especially when those policies will have a beneficial effect on the economic conditions here in the United States of America.

Chose your poison.

[1] Why isn't the plural of monkey monkeies?  Personally, I blame Peter Tork, who was clearly the group's Svengali and, I'm pretty sure, the man behind the curtain for much of orthographic instability in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

David Brooks is Just Plain Silly

He writes or says, I am not sure about the mechanics of his "Conversation" with  Gail Collins,
A smart, prosperous-looking man came up to me in a general store and said he used to read The New York Times but then he realized the contents are entirely made up, and concocted for brainwashing purposes, so he no longer does. He said his life was much better now.
Wouldn't you have left off the notion that someone who thinks something as madly crazy as that is "smart." I mean he grants that the fellow's prosperity is only a potential based on appearances but the smart is wholly unmodified. 

Three Predictions.

Bret Favre will not finish the season.

The Democrats will not lose as many seats as everyone thinks they will.

One or both of these predictions might be wrong.


For supper a simple salad of leftover grilled pork, peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, blue cheese, and beets with tomatoes from right next to the garage with watermelon slices for desert.

From the drinks cart, it's Big House Red Ocatvin, four bottles with less packaging and costing only 16 dollars.

Oh For goodness Sake.

John Derbyshire, a professional dolt, writes on NRO

An e-mail correspondent (Orthodox Christian) sent me the four pictures below, with this message:
This is an accurate picture of every Friday afternoon in several locations throughout New York City where there are mosques with a large number of Muslims that cannot fit into the mosque. They fill the surrounding streets, facing east for a couple of hours between about 2 & 4 pm.
The pictures show different large groups of Muslims praying and blocking various streets in NYC.  He concludes with a request that someone other than him determine if the photos are real.  10 seconds with Google reveals that
I have done some more research on the subject of Muslims praying in the streets of New York City and it appears as though this particular scenario is a rumor that began on the Internet.
By a site whose description is Christianity in end times and which helped spread the rumor in the first place.

Be assured, however, that Derbyshire individually and NRO collectively are not unreflexive Muslim/Islam bashers but rather seriously deranged men and women whose inability to think coherently about issues or events involving Muslims or Islam results from their general derangement.  Which is, of course, totally different from being Islamophobic.

Derbyshire posted at 2:10 by 2:25 one of his colleagues pointed out that the whole thing was nonsense;  Derbyshire acknowledge that it was nonsense at 2:43.  The initial post, however, has as of now, not been altered and the leading lights of deranged, but not Islamophobic, unreflexive Muslim and Islam bashing are now deriding NYC annual Muslim Day Parade, from which the pictures are derived, as narrowly religious instead nationalist and idly speculating on if the violence this year will reach the heights of the Gordon Riots[1] or if it'll just be some good natured pushing, shoving and vile invective.  None of which, of course, makes them Islamophobes, just the kind of deranged folks who Islamophobes might want to read.

[1] Actually Derbyshire uses the Orange Riots of the 1870s but I think the Gordon Riots work better.

Huxley versus Orwell

According to this comparison of which famous distopian was correct, Huxley or Orwell, the answer seems to be Huxley.  Unless, of course, you live in China, Saudi Arabia, Glenbeckistan, or somewhere similar then it's Orwell, I think.

Higher Education and The Perils of Profit

Let's call it the Rockefeller rule:

 The Senate investigates:
"There is much that we don't know," the Iowa Democrat said, citing gaps in the data surrounding graduation and employment rates, spending, and student-loan defaults. 

The industry starts to clean up its act:
As federal scrutiny of for-profit colleges tightens, two prominent proprietary institutions have decided to discontinue the practice of enrolling students who do not have a high-school diploma or a GED but who pass a basic-skills test that allows them to qualify for federal student aid.
 Partnerships collapse

California's community-college system has canceled a controversial agreement that would have allowed students at some colleges to earn credit for discounted online courses at Kaplan University.
The 112-campus community-college system is severely overcrowded, and officials saw the November agreement as a way to make it easier for students to get classes they need. For Kaplan, the agreement promised a boost of credibility and a ready pool of new students, who would be able to take certain online courses at a 42-percent discount.
But at a time of intense scrutiny of for-profit colleges, the arrangement between the nation's largest public-college system and a prominent for-profit college drew complaints from faculty groups and others. Critics argued the system was endorsing Kaplan, and they said it could be difficult for students who transferred to the state's public universities to receive credit for Kaplan courses.
. . .
Some who had criticized the agreement cheered the decision to cancel it, saying that even at a discount, the Kaplan courses were a bad deal for students. Community-college courses in California cost $26 per credit hour, the lowest in the country, while Kaplan's discounted courses would have cost about $216 per credit hour.
 The two colleges are Corinthian and Kaplan.  Kaplan is part of the Washington Post empire and the only part that is profitable.  Recently, and I am sure there is no connection, the Post came out in favor more private education and less regulation of the same.

Image via.
There is a, no doubt better, discussion of the same issue here.

Ask Not for Whom the Bells Toll

The other day I was ambling along and a semi-hipster on a cruiser passed me and gave out the obligatory "On you left."  As he passed he said, "I need a bell."  I dinged my bell in response and when I passed him a a bit later, he said "bell me, man."  I did and concluded that bicycle bells are a much more civilized way of announcing passing because they look nice and make a lovely, peaceful ding.


You can mount them any way or where you want.

Ladies and Gentlemen Alan Simpson

He also admits that

 yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ‘em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!
I'm not exactly clear on what he means by "milk" except maybe that they should die already.

If it is the case that Alan Simpson wants old folks to die already shouldn't the Deficit Commission be retitled the Death Commission?

Upon further consideration: The Die Already You Old Farts Commission more accurately captures Simpson's desired solution.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Grilled spiced pork with citrus grilled mushrooms and peppers, beet and blue cheese salad with butter poached new potatoes.

Our distinguished judge ate too much and needed nap.

Multi Use Path Update

From today on the Capital city. If you squint you can see the mythic Land of Lincoln. This is the lower branch

This is the upper branch.

This is were I stood when I took the lower picture.

I was off the path for the other picture as well.  Why do I include this?  Neither picture took longer than 2 mins to take and, I'd guess, considerable less time than that.  I got off the path, even though there were no other users around and the only reason there might be is because lots of other people use the path and, it is just possible that if, say, four users came one way and six came the other, my standing on the path would have inconvenienced them all.  Consequently, I reasoned, the extra 10 seconds it took to exit, unclip and then clip and reenter was insufficient grounds to cause some potential irritation to some potential number of people.

When I had completed the task and started to ride onward, I ran into two people with two bikes each towing a baby buggy.  They were stopped on the path blocking the whole of my lane.  Coming the other direction were four cyclists, unrelated as far as I could tell, in longish line in the middle of their lane.  I had to stop.  The two in my lane weren't there for a quick stop.  They had taken one kid out of the buggy and were talking about something or another.  Just off to their right there was a shady spot.  Leaving aside the moral and ethical considerations, it was in their own self interest to move into the shady spot's cool.

At first I thought that this was an example of failing to think about the world around you in Kantian fashion and was an intentionally selfish act.  However, I have recently learned that

It seems pretty obvious that "thick questions" lead to more satisfying answers. Although I couldn't find the giant book of why people act like jackasses, I did, like the kid in the poster, let my mind wonder.[1]  It occurred to me that the problem was thinking or more precisely unthought.  The two people engaged in unthought.  No thinking being is going to stop his or her car in the middle of a road, for example, to get the kid out of the child seat.  The two weren't  consciously jackasses. They were jackasses because they had never thought about what a bike path is and is not designed for.  I am pretty certain that it was not designed so that you can pause in your travels and block other users from using the path.[2] It also seems to be the case that because no law intervenes, the police might give a cyclist a ticket for running a stop sign or a red light, while letting cars stop in the crosswalk, they are scarce on the ground off campus and it is unlikely that they are going to bother folks who stop for a quick chat. In short, you get to break the law and be a jackass and no one is going to legally punish you.

In the interest of limiting unthought, I offer some simple rules.  The easiest to follow, because it is valid in cases, is Kant's but that really is asking to much for people to think of other people as people instead of props in some Randian distopia, it would seem.

Over arching rule:
Most people don't know you and consequently most people don't particularly care if you live or die. So for god's sake stop acting like the opposite were case.
Five simple rules[3]:
1) Be marginally aware of what is going on around you.
2) If alone ride/run/walk/rollerblade/etc as far to the right as in practicable.  If there are more than one of you, never ride outside the yellow line; if there is no yellow line pretend that there is.
3) Never do anything requires that people follow or assumes that anyone follows rules 1 and 2.
4) Consequently be in control of your mode of transportation.
5) Get off the path if you have to stop.
 Feel free to add your own in the comments; but I think this may pretty much have saved Western Civilization.

[1] Heyoh
[2]You may be saying "Oh good gracious me oh my, shut up already."  But consider this, this was the only time the two, so far as I know, impeded anyone so from their perspective it was no big thing.  For me it was the fourth or fifth time today and the twelfth of the last seven days.  Or something like that.  Straws and camels backs, in other words.
[3] Obviously it is never go to happen but take out the damn earbuds and take off the damn headphones.  I mean really, its bad enough that 10% of everyone doing anything on the path is clearly incapable of thought but why should those of you blasting Helen Reddy or rockin' on to the driving beat of Olivia Newton John's latest hit want to make yourself even less alert.  Goodness knows what the combination of the rocktastic rockatude and exercise created dopamine might do.

Bridges to Nowhere

For those of you wondering, as you prepare for the morning commute, Wisconsin has a total of 1,941 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges out of a total of 13,917.  Dane County has 100 out of 546. Wisconsin is better off than some other states.  If only there were some large entity charged with doing something for the common good that had the economic resources to release money to the states so that they could improve their infrastructure and create even more jobs.

Webpage via

Jonah Goldberg Asks A Quesiton

Shortly after proving beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that when Americans hate Muslims they either don't really hate Muslims or their hatred of Muslims is either cute or explicable, Goldberg asks:
When, pray tell, will Time magazine devote an issue to its, and this administration's, intolerance of the American people?
Because, you see, both Time magazine,  does anyone actually read that thing any more?, and the President have complained about what Goldberg sees as nonexistent Muslim hatred.  For evidence of this he cites some crime statistics. One could, if one want, use the recent kerfuffle about the prayer room in a Islamic version of a YMCA as an example of hatred of Muslims. But, I suppose, to do that you'd need evidence of the crowds decrying the Islamic version of the YMCA doing something that smacked of unreflexive hatred of Muslims.

Or maybe find one of Goldberg's NRO colleagues who laments that
Having worked for a very long time with moderate Muslims, I can tell you it’s disheartening to be called an Islamophobe.
Who then points out that
(1) Islam is not a moderate doctrine; (2) Islamists who practice terror and are otherwise aggressive toward non-Muslims (and toward Muslims who disagree with them) are not twisting or perverting Islam; (3) this does not mean that the Islamist interpretation of Islam is the only possible viable interpretation; but (4) a concrete theology of “moderate Islam” does not exist (even though there are plenty of moderate Muslims) and therefore it will have to be created
 And plenty more in the same vein.  See it's not that he hates Muslims its that he knows that Islam is just wrong, violent, stupid, and needs to be changed because as it actually exists it's a dangerous religion even if, here and there, one finds a few non-murderous Muslims.  He doesn't hate Muslims; he hates Islam, which is a completely unrelated matter.


More evidence of that Time and Obama should apologize for suggesting that there is any hatred of Muslims or intolerance of Islam.  The in a nutshell version: crazy Christians plan on burning Koran on 9/11; the city says they cannot without a burn permit; neo-Nazis who think Obama is a secret Muslim, vow to provide "protection."

Or this event in NYC itself.  In a nutshell version: passenger stabs cab drive on discover driver is a Muslim.

Why its is even more complicated than initially thought.

Or not.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nice Guy Eddies and Kantian Idiots Part I

In one or another of Tarantino's films, he named a character Nice Guy Eddie, Eddie wasn't particularly nice but I think he was supposed to be. People who do the right thing are Nice Guy Eddies. After all, Eddie was concerned not so much with who did what to whom but who it was that was pointing a gun at his dad, which -- if you think family matters-- is pretty nice. Kant argued somewhere or another that it is wrong and immoral to treat others as means to an end instead of ends in and of themselves. He meant, more or less, that you ought not ever do/will something happening someone else that you wouldn't do/will as happening to yourself in the same circumstances; this means, I think, that you ought respect other bodies as being as important to themselves as you are to yourself and, consequently, recognizing that no desire or end you might have is any more important that a desire or end that the other bodies might have. This position is, ultimately, the basis of western liberalism's constant insistence that, as Jesus put it, we respect the least amongst us.

Well every day, as cyclists and as bodies moving through the world, we find others fucking with us in ways the fuckers wouldn't want to be fucked with and, if we're honest, we fuck with those other fuckers in ways we wouldn't want to be fucked with, which -- taken all in all -- makes the whole bunch of us a bunch of fucked fuckers. I propose that as we move forward we seek to be idealized Nice Guy Eddies, which means avoiding his penchant for robbing and murdering, and avoid being Kantian Idiots, where the meaning of the last noun is Grecian.

Today I run through the various and sundry interactions with others and divide the world between Nice Guy Eddies and Kantian Idiots.

Adult dad guy on the bike path thanks for telling your kid to get back inside the yellow line, seriously. 

Jogging woman with dog, thanks for pulling him/her and keeping him/her inside the line with a complicated behind the back leash system.

Putz training your dog on the path, wtf. The damn thing was all over the place.

Three guy pace line belling guys, thanks for bellling; you belled I belled back, we laughed, we cried, it became part of us.  Bells are much better than on your left, which often sounds suspiciously like on guard.

Three guy pace line belling guys, for shame on the passing the comfort bike woman on a blind curve and almost crashing into fully team-kitted hard racing bike woman and for riding in both lanes and belling the pedestrians who didn't need belling because you guys were useing 100% of the path when you should have been using 50%.

Jogging woman who started on the far right and then listed to the far left, returned to the far right and began the whole process all over again while ignoring my belling and, when that failed to elicit a response, my on your lefting .

Jogging guy with headphones kudos for running the right way, i.e., toward on coming traffic; for shame for not paying any attention to what was in front of you; although, when your eyes bulged out in panic when you moved from the grass onto the path directly in front of me was worthy of Cantiflas when he was forced to work in English.
Doctor/Nurse/Person who likes to wear scrubs, for shame for stopping in the middle of the path and staring and turning round and about consequently making it nearly impossible to pass you on either side and for the professional level of frowning my belling received..

Adult dad SUV guy with the two kids in the back, wtf with the stopping on the crosswalk when you were at a right turn light on the busiest part of the multiuse multiuser path. Did you think that by making it impossible for peds, runners, bikers, etc. to get safely across would cause the light would change quicker?

SUV guy who stopped to let me cross when I was stopped when the SUV behind you shifted lanes and sped up.  If I am stopped you get to go.  When you control all the other cars on the road, either through some kind of ESP or whathave you and when you and yours stop every single time, stop.  Until then let me decide when to cross the street, I've been doing it for decades. This kind of behavior is known as false Nice Guy Eddieism.

Finally, me for not stopping when my getting across was bit on the dicey side.

Weekend Plans

On Sunday the 29th
Join Lance Armstrong at the top of East Washington Avenue at the Capitol Square at 10:30am for Ride the Drive Opening.

David Brooks Lacks Self Awareness

Or he is trying to work through his limitations in public.  Today he bemoans the lack of Victorian virtues, with a fairly odd example, and notes that in today's hurly-burly world of I'm okay your okay and everyone gets a prize just for showing up
we’re all less conscious of our severe mental shortcomings and less inclined to be skeptical of our own opinions.
 He insists that
the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one’s own mental feebleness.
And, just when you think he is going to resign his position and try to overcome what has now been a lifetime's worth of mental feebleness, he claims that
The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics.
 I'm not sure what he means by ensuing here but I was disappointed that he didn't quite or, at least, apologize for the salad bar argument.

Bike to the Bike Shop

How to get a bike to the bike shop when you only have bikes to get things from here to there:

I strapped the Trek's front tire to its rear rack and, if I remember correctly, took the chain off its front sprockets to stop the pedals from spinning. I had to slow down a bit on the corners but the system works fine.

Obviously, if you're lucky, you can just strap it on the Xtracycle.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Concerning Historical Causation

Many people wonder how we got to the advanced state of hurly burly, hustle bustle filled with moral perils like teenage pregnancies, rampant drug use, and Sarah Palin in which we now find ourselves.  I don't claim to be scientist type with a white smock, slide rule, and pocket protector, although I do have thick glasses.  I do claim to be familiar with arguments about historical causation; I would like to make one that I know beyond all shadow of a reasonable doubt because of its dense facticity and iron clad logical rigor to be 1000% unassailably wrong but which involves bikes of two sorts. First an edenic trip down memory's lane:

Second, a hellish trip down memory's lane involving internal combustion engines and a portable tv here .  If you scroll all the way down you can watch at least part of the documentary under consideration.

I think, subject to the caveat in the first paragraph, that it is clearly a matter of historical fact that internal combustion engines and portable tvs led to the hubbub and jostle infected world of today with its moral perils of moderate centrist presidents, universal health care, and the ever-larger looming threat of Mitt Romney or worse yet Tim Pawlenty, and we must conclude that if more people went for bicycle rides the world would be a better and happier place.

Levi Leipheimer

On August 18th Leipheimer:
 told VeloNews that he would not contest the overall in Utah. “From the beginning, I’m not here to win the overall,” he said, three days after setting a new record in the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race in Colorado. “I think that would be stupid to try and win by your self. I’m just here to follow, get some good training in and look out for a stage win.”
On August 20th he:
rode away from an elite selection of six riders high on the summit climb to take the stage and the overall lead at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
 On August 22th he:
rode away from his rivals up the final climb to finish second, on Crawford’s wheel, and seal the overall.
Why can't cyclists tell the truth?

Matt Yglesias is Dumb

I can't count the number of readers who asked why I think Matt Yglesias is nearly as dumb as Ross Douthat because they don't make numbers that small.  But here goes.  In the first instance, they look alike; in the second, they have identical credentials to comment on everything in the world, i.e., none; in the third they are both Harvard undergrads, which -- I think -- proves that Harvard is both less transformative and less liberal then we have been led to believe.  A shorter proof of Yglesias' dumbness:
I think it’s pretty clear that, as a historical matter of fact, the main thing “the state” has been used to do is to help the wealthy and powerful further enrich and entrench themselves. Think Pharaoh and his pyramids. Or more generally the fancy houses of European nobility, the plantations of Old South slaveowners, or Imelda Marcos’ shoes.
Concerning his examples of the clarity of state sponsorship of inequality, with the exception of Pharoah, who God or Jesus or Moses or Ceasar did away with, and Imelda, who democracy forced to move to New York until it let her come home, we might want to ask a series of questions: Who ended slavery?  Who progressively limited the nobility's control over regular folks?  Who aided unions in gaining 8 hr days?  Who saw to it the rural areas got electricity?  Who sees to that there is public education? What entitity was it that expanded the franchise despite the protests of the entrenched rich and powerful?  Who saw to it that previously despised minority groups gained equal rights with their fellow citizens?  Who sees to it that abrogations of these rights are punished? And so on.

Does the state act to aid entrenched rich folks, yes yes it does; is this the "main thing" it does?  No, no it isn't.  Saying something like that is a sign of being dumb or, perhaps more accurately, of privileging glibness over accurate intelligent analysis.

More proof that Ygelsias is dumb here.

Breaking Bad

Years ago I dreamed a dream of cantilevered breaks.  Specifically Paul's Touring Cantilevers, which would -- I assured my self -- so class up the bike that would not only stop faster but go faster as well.  One day I did, in fact, get a set of Paul's and only had to pay 50 bucks each which is about half price.  And no they weren't stolen.  They look like this only mine are silver.

The thing is they are real pain to adjust and the rear one's needed constant attention to come even close to working.  On the plus side all the parts are replaceable.  The other day, I was adjusting the rear one and broke a bolt.  As luck would have it, I had a spare Tektro sitting in the parts muddle.  I figured while I could wait to fix the Paul's and struggle by with the cheaper break, it cost me 20 odd dollars and looks like this:

Oddly enough these are easier to adjust, stop the bike better and look fine.  Although the Paul's did earn me props from some Wrenches and the springs made it through three winters without any real damage, I think I am going to switch to all Tektro.

Others out there may have different opinions, they are, of course, 100% wrong.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dinner Northside Style

Dinner at Nancy's fish and shrimp tacos with super secret Spanish rice, happy dinners, and Door county cherry pie with its own secret ingredient.  And melons for the vitamins.


Ross Douthat, and no I have no idea how its pronounced, is a columnist for the New York Times.  He took over the coveted William Safire conservative memorial seat after William Kristol proved to be an even greater serial liar and manic than the late Safire.  Douthat, who has some kind of a degree from Harvard, wrote a book about, among other things, how he found premarital sex and Harvard equally icky, became the Times' conservative columnist because he is supposed to be reasonable and serious.  Two weeks ago, he tackled same sex marriage debate and concluded that

But if we just accept this shift, we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.
At no point prior to this paragraph does he establish his key point here of the greatest of the idea of heterosexual monogamy. But there it is reasonable and serious  people can think that heterosexual monogamy is one of Western Civilizations greatest ideas because it is, after all, one of Western Civilizations greatest ideas.  Leaving aside the circularity here, it's not even true that Western Civilization sees or saw heterosexual marriage as monogamous, unique, or indispensable and Douthat hasn't established anything like that. He has simply claimed that what he wishes was the case is in fact the case. It ain't.  Seriously you can read all manner of dull history books about ancient Greece and early modern Europe in which historians show that marriage was about power, property, and anything but monogamy. For a fuller and funnier discussion of this column see here.

The week after he took on the Burlington Coat Factory mosque and decided, following some bastardized version of Huntington's clash of civilizations argument, that there are two Americas, one which is tolerant of others, follows the rule of law, and generally lives up to great, if somewhatless great than monogamous heterosexual marriage, ideas of Western Civilization enshrined in US Constitution and the other America of bigots, thugs, and bullies who, although he doesn't see fit to mention it, formed the backbone of the KKK and other nativist groups.  Guess which one he throws his lot in which, no really guess. He argued that

During the great waves of 19th-century immigration, the insistence that new arrivals adapt to Anglo-Saxon culture — and the threat of discrimination if they didn’t — was crucial to their swift assimilation.
Leaving aside the fact that this wrong as a matter of historical fact; you would think a reasonable and serious adult  would deplore the continued existence of intolerant bullies in our midst but no not he, it is what he calls the second America that is going to do for the Muslims in our midst what they did for Mormons and Catholics
The steady pressure to conform to American norms, exerted through fair means and foul, eventually persuaded the Mormons to abandon polygamy, smoothing their assimilation into the American mainstream. Nativist concerns about Catholicism’s illiberal tendencies inspired American Catholics to prod their church toward a recognition of the virtues of democracy, making it possible for generations of immigrants to feel unambiguously Catholic and American.  
Again, leaving aside the nonsense, errors, and all the sweeping under the rug "fair means and foul" accomplishes (hint lynching was a foul means)  it would seem that his solution is more militant Muslim bashing is in order, quite literally, to whip them Muslim newcomers into good solid American shape.It is a dialectical process, he insists in his mindless dopiness, that takes the raw material of dangerously unassimilated foreigners and burnishes it into a highly  glossed Real American(tm). Muslims in our midst will 
need leaders, in other words, who understand that while the ideals of the first America protect the e pluribus, it’s the demands the second America makes of new arrivals that help create the unum.
 Bravo, brave, serious and reasonable conservative thinking guy, you've made bigotry sound necessary for the creation of real Americans. For a discussion of Douthat's updates see  here.

Today, he takes on the issue of cheating in sports. After a long and pointless discussion of the Giants stealing signs and how or if that played a role in Thompsons' shot heard round the world as compared to Clemens individualistic steroid abuse he concludes
What Roger Clemens wants — what he’s recklessly pursued, to the point where he’s facing perjury charges and possibly jail — is what Bobby Thomson enjoyed. He wants to be judged on what happened on the field, where pitches are thrown and swings are taken, and everything else fades into irrelevance.
We know too much to give him that. But though he hasn’t asked for it, maybe we also know enough about baseball history to give him our forgiveness.
And there you have it, one guy's team cheated and another guy may have cheated and therefore let's all join hands and sing Kumbaya. If anyone cares to read the column, and I can't think of why you would, and would like to explain if or how the larger point is other than a plea for the forgiveness of cheating cheaters because everybody knows cheating cheaters cheat. Countering Douthat's "argument" one could argue that a Great Ideal of Western Civilization is that cheaters never win and winners never cheat and cheating cheaters who cheat ought to be asked, like Pete Rose, to remove themselves from polite company.  Indeed, one could argue that Clemens and possibly Thompson suffered from the sin of hubris the punishment of which, in the tradition of the Great Ideals of Western Civilization running back to the founders of Western Civilization, who lost their standing what with the debt and all, ought be the loss of all they desired to gain, like Rose.  Consequently one could ask how this reasonable socially conservative's adamant defense of Great Ideals of Western Civilization except when those great ideals are something other than heterosexual monogamy or Muslims in our midst building mosques is something other than abject nonsense parading on reasonable social conservativism, which is another word for bullshit.

If Douthat wasn's such a Douthat and did some actual reading around about steriods, he might have come up with something like thisVia

Belgian Street Opera With Bikes

I don't know what it is but I really like these things and this one is even better because it's about bikes.

Although this one is cool too

And of course upstate NY

The Era of Big Government is Over

Jonathan H. Adler, noted something or another, argues that
The government licensing and regulation of barbers, like other hair stylists, is driven by the self-interest of the profession.  Licenses restrict entry and reduce  competition, enabling  those with licenses to capture more rents.  This is actually the case with most licensing regimes, even those that appear to serve a greater public interest than barber licenses.  . . . I would argue that it’s rare that a licensing regime of this sort is put in place without the support of those who stand to benefit economically, and that many public spirited rationales, including health and safety, are a smokescreen.
I leave out the links to Matt Yglesias, because he is nearly as dumb as Douthat and is supposed to be a stalwart of the left's Netroots despite arguing for the invasion of Irag and his current deregulation riffs.  I'll spare everyone the longer history of Barber regulations as they pertained to Barber surgeons and simply note that  first barbering law in America was implemented in Minnesota in 1897 and set educational and sanitary standards. And, as the Encyclopedia of Hair also points out, as the regulation regime continued it increased patrons health and safety and created a better educated and more professional class of barbers. Or as our libertarian would be overlords would put it: Rent seeking bastards force people to disinfect their razors and learn a little something do so to limit competition in manner both unfair and immoral.

Let's hear it for the tea party

Carl Paladino Tea Party Patriot running for office in NY state on how to deal with the poor folks:
Asked at the meeting how he would achieve those savings, Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would do work for the state — "military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service," he said — while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors.

"Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we'll teach people how to earn their check. We'll teach them personal hygiene ... the personal things they don't get when they come from dysfunctional homes," Paladino said.
Who will be the first to denounce, renounce, and pronounce on his vile stupidity?  Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, or assistant vice president John McCain.

I should have asked who would be the first to refudiate the vile stupidity. And it has come to my attention that John McCain is, in fact, associate President.

via Think Progress