Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shedding Crocodile Tears

The news organizations are probably covering the murder of Dr George Miller pretty heavily. Various organizations have released statements about the murder. Aside from the "this was not done by a true Christian" and "we pray for George Miller and his family" themes, I find this statement from Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, particularly striking.

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.


This is what Terry's statement says to me: By all means peacefully protest anyone who works at a clinic that provides abortions regardless of where they are at. But if you can't be peaceful about it, at least give them a chance to get on their knees and pray for forgiveness before you kill them. Abortion is murder and murder is bad. So before you murder a murderer, give them a chance to properly prepare their soul.

Otherwise, you may lose your most effective rhetoric and actions.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Of Course It Is, What Were You Thinking?

There's nothing like a well-written, true funny story.

Maybe If Krauthammer Read It...

I his op-ed in today's Spokesman Review, Charles Krauthammer complains about the unfairness of a decision against Frank Ricci and tries to make Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor look like an ungrateful product of affirmative action who lacks empathy for the common man. Krauthammer presents a compelling and sympathetic story, but the facts of the decision belie his claims about Sotomayor.

I thought I'd read the decision (PDF file) and see for myself. It's not particularly exciting or riveting and fortunately it's only six pages in length. Each argument is addressed and the reasoning for each finding is clearly explained as the court affirms the District Court's decision.

We affirm, for the reasons stated in the thorough, thoughtful, and well-reasoned opinion of the court below. Ricci v. DeStefano, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73277, 2006 WL 2828419 (D.Conn., Sept. 28, 2006). In this case, the Civil Service Board found itself in the unfortunate position of having no good alternatives. We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs' expression of frustration. Mr. Ricci, for example, who is dyslexic, made intensive efforts that appear to have resulted in his scoring highly on one of the exams, only to have it invalidated. But it simply does not follow that he has a viable Title VII claim. To the contrary, because the Board, in refusing to validate the exams, was simply trying to fulfill its obligations under Title VII when confronted with test results that had a disproportionate racial impact, its actions were protected.

What they were ruling on was the application of Title VII. Employers are required by federal law to consider the racial impact of their hiring and promotion procedures in order to prevent intentional and inadvertent discrimination. Essentially, Ricci's complaint was that the city discriminated by complying with Title VII.

If you do read the decision feel free point out the parts that support Krauthammer's claims.

Fried Sole

I went for a run yesterday during lunch. It was in the mid 80's and the sun was high and hot. After passing the INB Performing Arts Center I took my shoes off and continued east on the Centennial trail. That lasted until I got to the Hamilton Street Bridge. The asphalt was cooking my feet. And the metal flooring of the Don Kardong Bridge was like a preheated frying pan ready for the olive oil. I felt like I was the first man to land on the sun.

So I'm seriously thinking about Geoff's suggestion.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Something Jenny McCarthy Won't Read

From the Public Library of Science we have an article by Liza Gross

Struck by how the idea of a vaccine–autism link continued to gain cultural currency even as science dismissed it, [Sharon] Kaufman took a 26-month hiatus from her life's work on aging and longevity to investigate the forces fueling this growing divide between scientists and citizens. She wanted to understand how parents thought about risk and experts, how these attitudes shaped parents' decisions about vaccination, and what the vaccine wars might teach us about the long-term erosion of public trust in science.

...

Despite overwhelming evidence that vaccines don't cause autism, one in four Americans still think they do. Not surprisingly, the first half of 2008 saw the largest US outbreak of measles—one of the first infectious diseases to reappear after vaccination rates drop—since 2000, when the native disease was declared eliminated. Mumps and whooping cough (pertussis) have also made a comeback.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Learning Some Different Euphemisms

Never Growing Old

Today I did the 9:00 am ride with the Spokane Bicycle Club. The estimated 35 mile distance turned out to be 43. Add the 20 miles round trip from home and I put in some time on the saddle. But that's not what I wanted to tell you about.

Of the eight riders this morning, four were old enough to be my mom or dad. The other three were 10-15 years my senior. At 52, I was the "kid" of the group. Pretty funny. Now you might think that riding 43 miles with a group of 60- and 70-year-olds would make for a long day. Absolutely not. This group cruised right along. And 20 years from now I will too.

Cyclecide



Geoff is going to the Maker Faire in San Francisco this weekend. Among all the cool stuff he's going to see, he should see some Cyclecide bikes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If They Can Do It...

Population wise, Salt Lake City is about the same size as Spokane but it covers about twice the area in square miles as Spokane so they probably have more roads. Regardless, Salt Lake City has 60 miles of roadway with bike lanes. They plan to add 22 miles this year and the mayor wants to double the current 60 miles of bike lanes over the next three years.

Nice.

Shock-Absorbing Seatpost Tester

Came across this today on Boing Boing. Wear a blindfold and you have a stoker simulator. And you tandem captains know you need to try to overcome the downside of stoking and keep your stoker happy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Needs A New Word

The California Supreme Court released its opinion (185-page PDF file) in regards to the challenge to Proposition 8 which amended the state constitution to state “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The task for the court was to determine if the initiative was a proper constitutional amendment and they decided it was. However, as courts often do in their decisions, they spell out exactly what is and isn't covered by the law.

The scope of the exception created by Proposition 8, however, necessarily is determined and limited by the specific language and scope of the new constitutional provision added by the ballot measure. Here the new constitutional provision (art. I, § 7.5) provides in full: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” By its terms, the new provision refers only to “marriage” and does not address the right to establish an officially recognized family relationship, which may bear a name or designation other than “marriage.

Dang! If Only She Were A White Male

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) released a statement about President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

...In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fugly Feet


As you can see, the blister I got ten days ago was pretty good sized. There's no fluid in it anymore but the look of the skin covering it makes it appear worse than it is. I've kept up my running but not so much without shoes because I really don't care for raw wounds on my feet. But I have been walking barefoot a lot to encourage the callous build up. As for my running, my lower calf muscles are a lot stronger now and I'm able to land on my forefoot for longer distances even with my shoes on. I feel a lot lighter on my feet and like I have more spring in my step running that way. It will be interesting to see how that affects my speed. Well, what little I have.

OMG!

I saw this last week and I needed some time to mull it over. KREM TV reported that parents are shocked! Shocked, I tell you.

KREM 2 News got a hold of 50 sexually coded text messages your child could be sending or receiving from other teenagers.

IYKWIMAITYD. But why is this restricted to teens? Adults don't do this? I wonder where they found all those acronyms.

The 50 acronyms are arguably the most popular explicit texts that teens send each other.

WTF? The last on in the list is "50. WYCM - Will You Call Me?" That is certainly an arguable explicit text. But more importantly it makes the list an even 50.

Now the list does contain some explicit terms which would account for so many parents expressing shock. Check out number 24, "IWSN - I Want Sex Now." I'm sure most parents can't imagine their child sending such a message--and being serious in doing so.

Area police say they’re texts local kids have used. Nationally, one in five teens say they’ve sent and received nude images of themselves and others.

OMFG! Nude images? I am shocked again!

Everyone agrees educating parents is key.

TFDS, but first we must shock them. I guess the purpose of this report is to educate us parents about teens engaging in risky behaviors. After all, the kids aren't going to tell us. (See #28 - KPC.) Parents who were once teens and have apparently lost all memory of the shocking things they and their peers did as teens.

My parents were shocked! Shocked, I tell you.

And so were their parents. And so on.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let's Increase The Polarity

The LA Times recently hosted a bizarre op-ed exchange. The first piece, "Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining", was written by Charlotte Allen. I am not familiar with Charlotte Allen but apparently since she authored the book, The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus, she's in a position to comment on atheists. I'm not familiar with her book either, but I did read a number of reviews which helped a little. The LA Times asked P.Z. Myers to respond to Charlotte Allen's piece. P.Z. Myers is well known for his uncompromising views. But I digress.

Charlotte Allen's op-ed piece is hardly a thoughtful contribution towards a healthy and robust discussion. She's nothing less than derisive towards atheists whom she claims are derisive towards religion and the religious. (She's not explicit but she appears to be speaking of Christianity and the Christian god.) Then she brings up a variety of examples of behaviors of atheists as if they were representative of all. Now if I were to follow her methodology of picking and choosing information about religion on the Internet I could say that Catholic religious leaders were child abusers, that Christians want to subjugate women or that Christians are racists. Just as there is no single organization or group that represents all religions, or all Christians, there is no like organization for atheists so it's easy to find examples that make either side look bad.

P.Z. Myers took a different tack in his response entitled "Why is Charlotte Allen so mad at atheists?". (I'm betting the editors titled both pieces.) He provides a more cogent and consequently more credible challenge yet still with an undertone of contempt which ever so slightly detracts and distracts.

Overall, I find Myers' piece provides far more food for thought than Allen's.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pedestrian Perils

I can't speak for all of Nashville, but the area I'm in--festooned with strip malls, fast food restaurants, and an adjoining business area--is one of the worst I've seen when it comes to pedestrian safety. There are no sidewalks and only one of the six traffic-lighted intersections has crosswalks and pedestrian signals. But as you can see, you still need to stand well away from the roadway.


But it was worth risking the walk to Dunkin' Donuts.
Mmmmmmmm...doh-oh-oh-oh-oh-nuts.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spam Phone Call?

I got a call on my Blackberry from 860-979-8899 this evening. A recording in Spanish started and I hung up. Thought I'd take a look and it looks like someone has been busy calling all over the place.

Holier Than Thou

Am I the only one struck by this dichotomy? A study purports to show that religious people make better citizens and neighbors and yet a sizeable number of people of Christian faiths think torture is justified.

Looking Out For Someone's Best Interest

Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted against the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009.

The sad part of the bill was the totally unrelated amendment allowing people to carry loaded weapons in national parks. That could be a reason to vote against it, but our congresswoman's record doesn't support that reason.

Speaking of interest, has your credit card company made any changes lately?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nashville Sights

Especially if you ride your bike sideways.


I don't want to know what they serve nor am I going inside to find out. This looks like certain death.


Well, the south is known for its barbecue.


Ward and June Cleaver say, "No."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Easy Pickin's

You don't have to think very hard to figure out the reason for Newt Gingrich and Congressman Boehner pushing for Speaker Pelosi to prove the CIA misled Congress when she says waterboarding was never mentioned in the briefings she received. You know, the secret briefings at which she was not allowed to take notes nor repeat exactly what was said.

I think Gingrich and Boehner only know too well that politicians can't be trusted.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Take Your Sons And Daughters To Work Day...

...and make sure it's the most memorable field trip ever.

One of the fired guards said the practice had occurred before, but so far prison officials have found no evidence that it has happened elsewhere. McNeil noted that the stun guns used differ from ''Tasers,'' which shoot electrified wires at their targets and deliver a far more powerful dose of amperage.

So far this year, none of the devices have been used on the 100,000 prison inmates -- only the children of DOC workers. McNeil said the use of the guns violated DOC policies. Of the children exposed to the stun guns, 14 were directly shocked at Franklin, Martin, and Indian River correctional institutions.


I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

More Advertising Shenanigans

While perusing KXLY's web site I saw this at the bottom of the page.


So I clicked away and found Karen Lewis, of Spokane, and her remarkable twin sister, Suzan Foster. At least they have differing canned comments.

Life In The Grass Lane

Today I rode my bike over to Mead High School and ran barefoot on the track. That lasted about two laps. It felt worse than asphalt so I moved to the grass just inside lane 1. Nice--the laps are faster there. My lower calf muscles are strong enough now to allow me to land on my forefoot but I have noticed the left calf is not as strong as the right and it starts backsliding a bit and landing more flatfooted. But it's still early on. I am concerned about the development of my callouses. They're not getting thicker and I wonder if the abrasive asphalt and cement are sanding them down. I figure I'll give them a rest while I'm attending training in Nashville this week and see if they improve.

Questions To Ask New People At Work

Have you seen my stapler? It's clearly marked "Copy room - Do not remove"

I'm looking for a quiet place to floss my teeth. Can I use your cubicle
while you're on break?

If we put in a glass partition to complete the separation between our
cubicles, where can I throw my empty beer cans?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bike To Work Week Wrap Up Party


Martha Jones (Go green!) was in charge of the bike corral


Plenty of folks in attendance.


Cyclists descend on food like locusts, you know.


Free beer.


What a great way to finish off the week. I didn't count people but there were easily 150 there at one time. Lots of people came and went during the festivities. Kudos to the many people who worked so hard to put this together and a big thanks to the sponsors for their support. More photos are on Flickr.

It's Just A Matter Of Time

A couple of days ago President Obama changed his mind and decided not to release the photos of detainee abuse that have been kept hidden for quite some time now.

Have a look at the strong counter arguments presented by Glenn Greenwald...

Think about what Obama's rationale would justify. Obama's claim -- that release of the photographs "would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger" -- means we should conceal or even outright lie about all the bad things we do that might reflect poorly on us. For instance, if an Obama bombing raid slaughters civilians in Afghanistan (as has happened several times already), then, by this reasoning, we ought to lie about what happened and conceal the evidence depicting what was done -- as the Bush administration did -- because release of such evidence would "would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger." Indeed, evidence of our killing civilians in Afghanistan inflames anti-American sentiment far more than these photographs would. Isn't it better to hide the evidence showing the bad things we do?

Apparently, the proper reaction to heinous acts by our political leaders is not to hold them accountable but, instead, to hide evidence of what they did. That's the warped mentality Obama is endorsing today, and has been endorsing since January 20.


...and contrast that with what John Dean has to say.

From generals and admirals at the Pentagon to Foreign Service officers in Foggy Bottom, along with untold thousands of the nameless and unknown career civil servants who soldier on to protect our national security, there is anger and resentment. Most of these people are not political in the partisan sense; rather, they work in and for our government to keep the nation safe, and take pride in their work.

For the past eight years, the Bush Administration has marginalized them, manipulated them, and beaten them down. Dick Cheney, in particular, worked to keep the national security professionals submissive, and to ignore their good advice. In a move that was unheard of for a Vice President, Cheney created his own National Security Council, which initially was better staffed and more knowledgeable than the statutory NSC. Cheney placed personal emissaries throughout the national security structure, not only to control it but to be certain that he was always aware of what it was doing, so he could operate accordingly. Dick Cheney had his own agenda, and it proved a disaster. Cheney cost the nation blood and treasure with his preemptive Iraq war. He embarrassed the United States the world over by demanding (and continuing to demand) that we use torture.
...
I would encourage those who are demanding exposure and prosecution to keep pounding their drums. Clearly, they are on the right side of this issue, and Obama knows it. While he is going to placate the national security bureaucrats from time to time in order to lead them effectively, hopefully the pressure for him to deal with the atrocious behavior of Bush and Cheney is only just getting started.


Keep pounding on that drum, Glenn.

Just Wonderin' About Stuff

I consider the time it took for our country to remove the obstacles to civil rights for African-Americans and then I wonder. Years from now, after gay couples are allowed to have the same legal rights as me and my spouse, who will we single out then?

Every year we hear concerns about how the American education system is failing our youth. We ask, "How can we compete with other countries if our students rate lower in math and science?" But at the same time we listen to those who purposely push aside science when it comes to climate change, evolution, the environment and more. Regardless, we will endure. Just like Ozymandias.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Future Of Local TV

Yesterday, Robert Cringely made some interesting predictions about the future of television.

When Internet TV becomes dramatically, unequivocally, and inexorably cheaper than the other three [broadcast, cable, and satellite] distribution models, those other models will quickly go away.

...

So there is a cliff rapidly approaching for television. Five years from now local TV stations will have the same complaints that local newspapers have today as many of them go out of business. Cable TV operators will become ISPs, period. Phone companies will be ISPs, too, and analog voice service will be gone completely. The regulatory implications of these changes should be interesting.

Who, then, will be the players in this future TV? For the most part they will be the content providers, which probably doesn’t mean traditional networks. And the networks know this, by the way. Hulu.com isn’t called NBCFoxABC.com and TV.com isn’t called cbs.com for a reason. Networks will go away.


On a related note, I wonder what the future holds for our own Community Minded TV (BTW, the redesigned web site is nicely done). I used to think that the old cable local channel was proof that anyone can videotape anything and have it broadcast. I found nothing memorable about it except for the poor quality and uninteresting content. Community Minded TV replaced the Comcast local channel and after two years it is still yearns for more people to create local programming which, I have learned from personal experience, is pretty difficult. With the many facets such as writing, lighting, sound and editing tied together, it's laborious and time consuming to create a quality program. So for those who don't have the resources and time for that they come up with stuff that's essentially "good enough". One of the benefits of CMTV is that anyone can create a program for a specific niche. The downside to that, however, is niche programming reaches out to a select few.

So I think a challenge for CMTV is to encourage and recruit people to make enough "good enough" or better programs about our area that enough people will find interesting enough to watch. Plus, CMTV needs to look at what the future holds for distributing programs. One aspect of broadcast/cable/satellite programming is--now I'm setting aside DVRs for the moment, but it still applies to them--you are locked into their schedule. With online distribution you can watch that episode of Building a Cob Oven any time you want. And more than once.

Then again, my success rate of 94.7 percent at making sure the video camera I'm holding is actually recording when it's supposed to be doesn't necessarily mean I have a clue.

Trying Not To Be Thin-Skinned

Yesterday I ran three of my four miles barefoot. It was probably a quarter- to half-mile too long. I put my shoes on when my soles start to sting. I have a high tolerance for pain--except for when I'm at home sick, then I'm a big baby--so my soles started to sting about the time a blister developed on each foot. (Of course, that destructively macho, "Just a little bit farther" attitude may have been a contributor.)

Aside from that, I could really feel the difference in my stride. The muscles I use to land on my forefoot are getting stronger. After I put my shoes on I managed to keep landing on my forefoot. But what I really enjoyed was running barefoot on the grass. I felt like a gazelle. Fortunately, I was not being chased by a cheetah. But I did feel faster and stronger. It might be that same delusional state of mind I have when I think I'm riding like Lance while I'm cycling, but that's okay. It's like finding a new happy place to be in.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

At Least The Font Is Larger

I was checking out this article about a cool sandstone area on the Arizona-Utah border known as The Wave. It looks like a beautiful hike if you win the lottery to get a pass.

The article included images and just above the photo there is a "Zoom Photo +" link which I assumed meant that a larger image would be presented.


So I clicked it and got this. I can see it so much better.

How To Give Judges A Bad Name

Be a bad one. Last Monday a federal judge in Texas was sentenced to 33 months in prison. After reading about the case and reading a statement (PDF) from one of the victims, I am amazed that someone like this could operate like that for as long as he did.

There's no telling what would happen if a high-ranking person in the Executive branch violated the law.

Oh...wait.

Bike To Work Week Energizer Stations

I stopped by four of the Energizer Stations this morning to get pictures of customers. The Five Mile Park 'n' Ride, manned by Women On Wheels, was first on my list. They had homemade goodies! Two cyclists showed up right at 7:00, grabbed a quick snack, and then headed up the hill to work. While I was there I saw a couple of cyclists ride by without stopping.


It's impossible to predict who and how many will go by let alone stop at any station. After all, stopping requires a change in your departure time if you can't change your arrival time to work.

There was one cyclist at Coffee Social. She told me she had also stopped by the station at the Greene Street Bridge and found it was manned by an energetic volunteer. REI was a bit slow but had plenty to offer. Coffman Engineers and Winston & Cashatt outside the Bank of America building had the most populated station with plenty of cheerful people braving the cold wind. Unfortunately, we also saw cyclists ride by. Desperate for a photo op I caught the attention of a passing cyclist and waved him over. He agreed to stop for a minute even though he had to get to work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ya Sold Me!

So I'm browsing the Salt Lake City Tribune (interestingly, they have a whole section just on polygamy) and I happen to see an ad about a woman in Spokane who lost 47 pounds. My curiosity is piqued and I click on the link which takes me to Rachel Ray's blog and an article and picture of Alyssa Johnson who is presumably from Spokane.

You can guess what effect that had on me so I did a search for the name of the image file showing her before and after picture and found this link on Rachel Ray's gift blog. Lo and behold it's the same article and picture but now her name is Destiny Collier of Spokane. The comments are even more remarkable.

On March 16, 2008, Dana posted this in response to Alyssa:

Thank you Alyssa for posting your story. It was very motivating. I have the same struggles with food. I want to make a change. Sometimes it is so hard. But I am working toward it now. I ordered the two diets and it should be here any day. I feel like I am on my way to weight success. I am going to keep daily entries and hopefully I can make a motivational page too and help others reach their goals. I just found out that Rachael Ray does promote these products and I will try it immediately. I will post more when I have progress. Again thank you so much.

Dana


On Jan 15, 2009, Dana posted this in response to Destiny:

Thank you Destiny for posting your story. It was very motivating. I have the same struggles with food. I want to make a change. Sometimes it is so hard. But I am working toward it now. I ordered the two diets and it should be here any day. I feel like I am on my way to weight success. I am going to keep daily entries and hopefully I can make a motivational page too and help others reach their goals. I just found out that Rachael Ray does promote these products and I will try it immediately. I will post more when I have progress. Again thank you so much.

Dana


No updates on either one so apparently no progress.

Lina and Jess, one on one site and one on the other, posted:

That is a good idea.. I hope you reach your goals. So far so good for me. I am at 11 pounds and I am one hot mama. At least that’s what my boyfriend says.

What a coincidence!

This is on both sites from Sandra:

I HAVE JUST FINISHED MY FIRST WEEK ON THIS DIET AND I FEEL SO ENERGIZED. BUT IT HAS A GOOD KIND OF ENERGY NOT LIKE WHEN I USED METABOLIFE. IT ALWAYS MADE ME FEEL HIGH OR SOMETHING. THIS STUFF JUST MAKES ME FEEL ALERT LIKE I HAVE HAD LOTS OF VITAMINS. THANKS FOR THE MOTIVATION.

THANK YOU RACHAEL! YOU ARE THE BEST.

SANDRA


Other than that, you can pretty much believe everything else on the Internet. Take my word for it.

Well, not quite everything else.

Fiasco #23 Revisited

Still Numero Uno

Last year the League of American Bicyclists ranked Washington as the #1 bike friendly state.

Here are the news release and rankings for this year:

The League of American Bicyclists is releasing the second annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States, scoring the 50 states on a 75-item questionnaire that evaluates a state’s commitment to bicycling and covers six key areas: legislation, policies and programs, infrastructure, education and encouragement, evaluation and planning, and enforcement. League President Andy Clarke highlighted that "several states dramatically improved their ranking by updating their traffic codes, increasing the level of funding for bicycle improvements, implementing education programs aimed at cyclists and motorists, getting organized and hosting their first statewide bicycling conferences and events." For 2009, the top five highest scoring states ranked one through five are: Washington, 1; Wisconsin, 2; Maine, 3; Oregon, 4; and Minnesota, 5. The lowest scoring states ranked 46 through 50 are: New Mexico, 46; Alaska, 47; Oklahoma, 48; Montana, 49; and Alabama, 50.

I wonder if they used the same criteria as last year. I see Mississippi shot up from 47 to 24, Delaware rose from 31 to 9, and Georgia went from 49 to 31. Those seem to be pretty dramatic changes. Ohio dropped from 32 to 39. Small wonder considering Jacque's cycling adventures there. Alas, Josh's birth state of Alabama is now the cellar dweller.

Where Did I Put Those Rose Colored Glasses?

A resolution to encourage the president to designate a National Year of the Bible has been submitted by Congressman Paul Broun. In part...

Whereas deep religious beliefs stemming from the Old and New Testament of the Bible have inspired Americans from all walks of life, especially the early settlers, whose faith, spiritual courage, and moral strength enabled them to endure intense hardships in this new land;

Like getting rid of those pesky Indians who had the misfortune of not having the Bible on their side. And not vacating the land we wanted. And not being civilized. Or white.

Whereas many of our Presidents have recognized the importance of God and the Bible, including George Washington; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Harry Truman; John F. Kennedy; Ronald Reagan, who declared 1983 as ‘The National Year of the Bible’; and especially Abraham Lincoln, whose 200th Birthday Celebration in 2009 highlighted freedom for the slaves;

Yes, the very slaves for which the Bible was used by some to justify their bondage. If 2010 is designated as 'The National Year of the Bible' does that negate 1983's declaration as 'The National Year of the Bible'?

Whereas shared Biblical beliefs unified the colonists and gave our early leaders the wisdom to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, both of which recognized the inherent worth, dignity, and inalienable rights of each individual, thus unifying a diverse people with the right to vote, and the freedoms of speech and vast religious freedoms, which inspired courageous men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to lead the Civil Rights Movement;

The colonists, many of whom fled religious persecution in the first place, were unified enough to persecute each other. Puritans hanged Quakers, Quakers imprisoned Baptists, etc. That's what helps me get past the incongruity of declaring a National Year of the Bible as a celebration of vast religious freedoms.

Whereas the Bible has been the world’s best selling book since it was first published in English in 1526, and has influenced more people than any other book;

On the best seller list for 25,116 weeks!!! Providing inspiration for the Crusades, the Inquisitions, slavery and more!

Whereas the Bible, used as a moral guide, has inspired compassion, love for our neighbor, and the preciousness of life and marriage, and has stimulated many benevolent, faith-based community initiatives and neighborhood partnerships that have healed and blessed our families, communities, and our entire Nation, especially in times of war, tragedy, and economic and social crisis;

No, we are definitely, positively and absolutely not pandering.

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the President is encouraged--

(1) to designate an appropriate year as ‘The National Year of the Bible’; and

(2) to issue a proclamation calling upon citizens of all faiths to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture which has profoundly influenced and shaped the United States and its great democratic form of Government, as well as its rich spiritual heritage, and which has unified, healed, and strengthened its people for over 200 years.


Perhaps the appropriate year could be 1983? And citizens of no faith need not apply, which is one reason why we unified, healed, and strengthened people get along so well today.

Just one question, Congressman, if you please. Which Bible?

Check It Out

Do you know that someone has been writing some pretty thoughtful stuff for the last year?

My friend, Jon Snyder, has been on a remarkable trip to Iran.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Poor Choice Of Words

When I first saw this article by evangelist Dr Phil Kidd I thought it had to be an over-the-top parody.

The Bible says everything that has breath has a right to praise the Lord. But there are some times when the Scripture commands woman to shut up!
...
Many Baptist churches have even put women on their pulpit committees. Can you imagine going to a church in view of a call and having a woman asking you questions concerning your doctrinal stand? Someone needs to tell them to sit down and shut up!


And after looking over the main site I was still confused and undecided. It's like someone went to the ends of the Earth and left no stone unturned to create the ultimate 1995-era web site of hyperbolic evangelical preaching.

I checked Dr Phil Kidd's web site and elsewhere and found that some people do know who he is and that he preaches at other churches so I figure this is serious stuff.

My wife told me she couldn't live like that. Struck by the new-found fundamental light of salvation, I told her to shut up. That wasn't the only thing that struck me.

Yeah, that went as bad as you think it did.

Bike To Work Week

Looking across the bike racks

This morning's Bike To Work week kickoff breakfast looked pretty successful to me in spite of the threatening weather. It's a shame that everyone attending can't stay the entire time. Regardless, lots of people showed up for free BTW pancakes cooked up by Mountain Gear, Thomas Hammer coffee, and some great live music from New Moon. I think the best part was seeing people riding bikes to work who don't fit the stereotypical mold many people associate with cyclists. It just goes to show you that anybody can do it.

A Bike To Work Week Pancake

Now I'll Have To Call Her, "Your Excellency"

Last week the Queen of my Heart was presented with the Nurse Excellence Award for 2009 at Sacred Heart Medical Center for all the improvements she's been making in the Pediatric Surgery Center. Kathy rocks!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fiasco 23

Over the past eighteen months I've attended several Full Moon Fiascos. Just by riding on one you become a lifetime member for life of a...um...bicycling club? Not really a club but a loosely-based affiliation that has no dues, no officers, no members, no by-laws, no meetings and basically doesn't exist. People on bicycles show up at a bar on the night of the full moon, hang out for an hour, ride to another bar, and then hang out until they decide to leave.

I remember there were eight people on my first ride in December 2007. Eight people can pretty much go anywhere. As word spread, the size of the group grew to forty and fifty last summer. That resulted in calling ahead to the destination to make sure they had staff on hand for the influx of customers. Last month the attendance was 75 and last night at least 105. And it's not even summer yet. Now that is an issue to wrestle with. Where do you go with 150 or 200?

In my mind, the whole idea of the FBC is about having fun. And it is. It's the most eclectic, laid back, nonjudgmental group of random people I've ever seen. Last night's sight of 105 bikes going through downtown Spokane and taking the Centennial Trail out to Mission Park was very impressive. How could it not be? Cars were honking their horns in salute. Pedestrians were cheering us and asking what was going on.

But given the increasing its popularity and attendance I have to wonder if a quote by Yogi Berra will sadly become applicable. "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Taking Things For Granted

My ride into work takes me down Hwy 2 and I make a left turn at Holland. Every single time and I mean...every...single...time...I wait in the left turn lane, the left arrow turns green before the north-south lights do. I've always felt it was the most bike-friendly light in the city.

This morning I'm waiting at the light and I have allowed my mind to wander. The light turns green and I make a left turn right across the path of the oncoming northbound traffic who also just started to go. I exchange "What the heck are you doing?" looks with the drivers who are slamming on the brakes. I get through the intersection, glance back, and to my chagrin see that the left turn signal arrow is red and the north-south lanes are green.

So...yeah...you just can't count on anything these days.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mama Says Evil Is As Evil Does

I've written earlier about the concern of some Catholics about Barack Obama being awarded an honorary degree from Notre Dame.

My aunt sent me this essay by Richard McBrien who compares this with President Bush's visit and honorary degree in 2001.

Chagossians? Never Heard Of 'Em

Sometimes people don't want to know what their governments do in secret because it can be very disturbing.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Third World States?

My son, Geoff, shared this article with me where the author compares the fifty states with other countries using the human development index.

This map is based on numbers from this table, which come from the American Human Development Report. It gives a good sense of regional patterns of human development in the US and the comparative relationship of states to each other. But the numbers in the abstract don't tell us much; to see what these numbers mean, we need to compare them to other countries. And when we do that, we see that the HDI of many states are comparable to some of the most developed countries in the world. However, other states have HDI scores well outside the range of the developed economies of Europe and Asia.

To illustrate the point, I am now going to make a long list. These are the 76 top countries ranked by human development index score, with the 50 states interposed to show their relative level of development, based on the two tables linked above:

...

8. Japan - .956
9. Luxembourg - .956
10. Switzerland - .955
11. France - .955
Vermont - .955
Washington - .955
Alaska - .955
...
67. Belarus - .817
Tennessee - .816
Oklahoma - .815
Alabama - .809
68. Macedonia - .808
69. Albania - .807
70. Brazil - .807
71. Kazakhstan - .807
72. Ecuador - .807
73. Russia - .806
Arkansas - .803
74. Mauritius - .802
75. Bosnia and Herzegovina - .802
Louisiana - .801
West Virginia - .800
Mississippi - .799
76. Turkey - .798


Our state seems to be doing well, but I can't say the same for Mississippi, state number 50 in the list. During my six years in Alabama I noticed they were always thankful for Mississippi because when it came to anything good for people, Mississippi always ranked below Alabama. Not, as you can see, that Alabama was a whole lot better.

Roger Ebert On Life And Death

I'm only familiar with Roger Ebert from his days with the late Gene Siskel. I've never given him much thought because I've only heard him talk about movies and not anything--dare I say?--really meaningful. Today I came across a blog entry of his where he contemplates something really meaningful.

In the entry he mentions an entry he made last December 3. It's actually a spot-on rip into Ben Stein and his movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

And for an interesting experience, try the religion/belief test he mentions.

Ugly Toes

The official Bloomsday results are in and my time is listed as 1:03:47.

I finished ahead of all men aged 75 and over--except for one--so...yeah...I have that goin' for me.

Now that Bloomsday is over I can concentrate on barefoot running. Geoff, our oldest, suggested I practice strides on grass and check the grass stains to check my foot strike. I tried that out at Riverfront Park yesterday but it didn't work. I probably need a field with denser and longer grass. Between rotted leaves and aerator plugs my feet just got dirty. So I focused on landing on the mid to front of my foot for a while. Front felt better. I also take a shorter and faster stride, keeping my body over my foot as it lands. It's much different than the long strides I'm used to taking and more difficult to do when I'm running up/downhill. After practicing and warming up a bit I took the north-side path to GU and circled back across the bridge and past the condos on the south side of the river alternating between grass and pavement along the way. My soles started to sting after about two miles so I put my shoes on. And went right back to landing on my heels. Landing on the forefoot seems an easy adaptation when I'm barefoot but takes more effort and concentration when I have shoes on. We are creatures of habit.

One surprising thing I noticed is there are muscles in my lower leg that apparently haven't been getting much use. They were fairly tight and sore yesterday and this morning so I gave them a day of rest. The soles of my feet are thickening, but in a different way than I expected. Rather than a rigid layer of calloused skin they're becoming more like soft leather. The family is unanimous in saying they look gross. I don't think they look bad. Besides, it's not like any of them have to rub my feet.

Tomorrow I expect I'll be splashing in the rain. Ought to be fun.

Maybe If We Made Them Wear Yellow "Q's"

Christianity Today has an interview with Joe the Plumber, the faux working man's hero of the last election.

Q: In the last month, same-sex marriage has become legal in Iowa and Vermont. What do you think about same-sex marriage at a state level?

At a state level, it's up to them. I don't want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionary—it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do—what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing.


Joe should also check the dictionary.

queer
–adjective

1. strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular: a queer notion of justice.
2. of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady: Something queer about the language of the prospectus kept investors away.
3. not feeling physically right or well; giddy, faint, or qualmish: to feel queer.
4. mentally unbalanced or deranged.
5. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.
  a.    homosexual.
  b.    effeminate; unmanly.
6. Slang. bad, worthless, or counterfeit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

But He's A Good Man

Wade Sanders is a decorated war hero and a former Deputy Assistant United States Secretary of the Navy.

He was also caught by the FBI in possession of child pornography and has pleaded guilty in federal court. It is now time for the sentencing phase of the case and some high-power supporters are urging the judge to reduce the sentence.

Sanders, 69, is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty in December to possession of child pornography. He could face as much as 10 years in prison after federal agents found child pornography on several of his home computers.
...
The hearing promises to be dramatic, with more than 50 people lining up in support of Sanders. In addition to [Senator John] Kerry, they include former U.S. senator and war hero Max Cleland of Georgia, who headed the Veterans Administration under President Jimmy Carter.

Also offering support are former Rep. Lynn Schenk of San Diego, a lawyer and longtime friend of Sanders; and numerous retired Navy officers, friends and relatives of Sanders. Bernie Jones, the Opinion page editor of The San Diego Union-Tribune, where numerous commentaries by Sanders have been published over the years, also wrote a letter opposing a prison term.


I'm going to set aside that the sketchy information in the news article that comes no where near inducing me to sympathize with Mr Sanders.

Instead I want to focus on his important and influential supporters. I've often wondered why public service should be considered a mitigating factor in determining the sentence of a convicted criminal. After all, if a person was such a wonderful public servant wouldn't that make their crime more egregious since they violated the public's trust?

As it turns out Sanders got 37 months in prison. Among other conditions he must register as a sex offender when he's released.

Irrational Fear And Rational Thought

I remember as a child I could go practically anywhere by myself. Nowadays I see so many parents extremely and overly concerned about their child's safety. And it's not just parents that contribute to unnecessary fear.

A couple months ago, BiketoWork Barb mentioned the concept of free range kids and how that applied to the way she raises her children. She linked to a very interesting blog written by Lenore Skenazy.

In her new book, "Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry," Skenazy suggests that many American parents are in the grips of a national hysteria about child safety, which is fed by sensationalistic media coverage of child abductions, safety tips from alarmist parenting mags, and companies marketing products that promise to protect tykes from every possible danger. She by no means recommends that mom and dad chuck the car seats, but says that trying to fend off every possible risk, however remote, holds its own unfortunate, unintended consequences.

Skenazy was recently interviewed by Salon.

Q: But if other parents aren't letting their kids walk to school, or wait at the bus stop by themselves, if you buck the trend, doesn't that make your kid more vulnerable, because other kids aren't doing it, too? If everyone was doing it, wouldn't there be safety in numbers?

A: There would be safety in numbers, and I wish everybody would do it. My big idea is: "Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day." I think that would be a great thing for our country.

Maybe the 7-year-old will walk the 5-year-old home, and nobody would say: "Oh my God, where are the parents? Let's arrest them." Perhaps your child is in .00007 percent more danger, but the danger is so minute to begin with. There is a 1 in 1.5 million chance that your kid would be abducted and killed by a stranger. It is hard to wrap your mind around those numbers, and everybody always assumes: What if it's my 1 in 1.5 million?

If you don't want to have your child in any kind of danger, you really can't do anything. You certainly couldn't drive them in a car, because that's the No. 1 way kids die, as passengers in car accidents.


Q: What message do you think that [it's an unsafe world] sends to the kids themselves? That they're incompetent?

Not only that they're incompetent. It says to them that they're in danger.

You want kids to feel like the world isn't so dangerous. You want to teach them how to cross the street safely. You want to teach them that you never go off with a stranger. You teach them what to do in an emergency, and then you assume that generally emergencies don't happen, but they're prepared if they do. Then, you let them go out.

The fun of childhood is not holding your mom's hand. The fun of childhood is when you don't have to hold your mom's hand, when you've done something that you can feel proud of. To take all those possibilities away from our kids seems like saying: "I'm giving you the greatest gift of all, I'm giving you safety. Oh, and by the way I'm taking away your childhood and any sense of self-confidence or pride. I hope you don't mind."


Unfortunately in America, all it takes is one parent allowing their child to do something on their own only to fall victim in that small percentage of danger and so many will say, "See? I told you it was dangerous."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Been There, Done That, Got The T-Shirt

Today was a good day for a run--especially with a full bladder. I got to the Yellow (Hmm, foreshadowing?) area about 30 minutes before the start. As I stood waiting while countless beach balls flew all around us, my kidneys went into overdrive or something and I had to go. There was a huge line at the porta-potties so that wasn't going to work. I decided I'd hold it until the finish. Stopping to go along the way would cost me precious time. Yes, precious time. When I wasn't thinking about it I felt fine. The run went well but Doomsday Hill--my slowest mile--reminded me that I like ice cream too much. After crossing the finish line--I timed myself at 1:03:51, two minutes slower than last year--I got my T-shirt and made a bee line to the bathroom. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Yeah, after fourteen consecutive Bloomsdays I'm reaching deep to find something to make each one memorable.

Way Cool



I already know the answer but this video still makes me wonder, "Could I could do that?" Nonetheless, I don't grow tired of watching it. The camera work is great.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Might Not Need A Shotgun After All





A certain young lady is now a black belt in Taekwondo.

We Will Waterboard You 183 Times Until You Talk

Charles Krauthammer has a bizarre column in today's paper in which he tries to justify the use of torture.

Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. An innocent’s life is at stake. The bad guy you have captured possesses information that could save this life.

and

The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to save lives. This case lacks the black-and-white clarity of the ticking time bomb scenario. We know less about the length of the fuse or the nature of the next attack. But we do know the danger is great. We know we must act but have no idea where or how – and we can’t know that until we have information. Catch-22.

What's missing are the references to the laws on torture that permit such exceptions and a list of occurrences where these exceptions were successfully used. Perhaps if his testicles were being crushed he would provide that information so we could save innocent victims from being unlawfully and unnecessarily tortured. And then on June 26 we could raise our glasses and toast all the innocent victims torture has saved.

Here's a different perspective.

A conscience is not the only thing that separates us from the animals. When our moral compass fails us, when we are blinded by rage and a thirst for justice, law brings us back, or merely holds us back, from doing what our basest human instincts tell us is right and proper.

Since 9/11, many people have framed these laws as a mark of our weakness. Our enemies are not bound by any code, so why should we be? Lincoln suspended habeus corpus believing it necessary to save the Union. FDR approved the internment of Japanese-Americans on similar grounds. It doesn’t matter that neither measure was actually instrumental to saving the Republic from destruction; indeed, the evidence shows that they had no such effect. All that matters is that these men acted in good faith.


Looking at this closely, I find the ticking time bomb is not the hypothetical terrorist situation.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Almost There

I picked up everybody's numbers today. We'll haul the bikes to my mom's house, then ride to Riverfront Park where the good folks from the Spokane Bicycle Club will guard our bikes with their lives.

Wait 'Til After You Graduate

Here's a nice compendium of the application of the First Amendment to student speech. The author's conclusion:

Students possess First Amendment rights in the public school setting. However, there is much disagreement and a muddled legal morass as to just how much free-expression rights they possess. School officials obviously must ensure a safe learning environment and an environment that is conducive to education. Students must learn about the enduring values of a constitutional democracy, including the fundamental freedom of expression. If students do not learn and appreciate First Amendment values, there is a danger that these future leaders of the country will not protect those fragile freedoms in schools and elsewhere in society. As Justice Robert Jackson said about schools more than 60 years ago in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943): “That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.”

There are certainly students who, intentionally or not, push the envelope and put the courts to the test in trying to define the boundaries of free speech in the school setting. I think it's practically impossible, especially given the available technology combined with the students' creativity. Nowadays it's almost as if students have to be told they can practice their right to free speech as long as they shut up.