Monday, November 30, 2009

How Scams Work

There's a really cool report (PDF) titled "Understanding scam victims: seven principles for systems security" that explains how and why many scams work.

Here's the abstract:

The success of many attacks on computer systems can be traced back to the security engineers not understanding the psychology of the system users they meant to protect. We examine a variety of scams and “short cons” that were investigated, documented and recreated for the BBC TV program The Real Hustle and we extract from them some general principles about the recurring behavioral patterns of victims that hustlers have learned to exploit.

We argue that an understanding of these inherent “human factors” vulnerabilities, and the necessity to take them into account during design rather than naïvely shifting the blame onto the “gullible users”, is a fundamental paradigm shift for the security engineer which, if adopted, will lead to stronger and more resilient systems security.

It's a fun read--unless, of course, you're the one being scammed. Since it's set in England it's a bit topical, but I think you'll get the gist of it.

Here's one example:

Alex visits a pub posing as a police officer. His story is that there are many people in the area who are passing off counterfeit money, so the local police want to protect the local shops by supplying them with a special detector pen. He demonstrates to the barman (his mark) how the detector pen writes in green on the special paper of a genuine note but in grey on a fake note or on standard paper. He gives the mark a pen, advising him to use it before accepting any notes into the till.

After this setup phase, Jess goes in and, with her usual feminine charm, exchanges three (counterfeit) £20 notes for six £10 notes. The barman carefully checks her three twenties with the pen and finds them ok, but doesn’t realize that Alex actually gave him an ordinary green marker that writes in green ink on any piece of paper, whether genuine or counterfeit.

A Tell Tale Quote

From an article in the Daily Toreador, the Texas Tech University news, we have a story about Alberto Gonzalez, the disgraced and slipshod former U.S. Attorney General. Along with the feel good stuff we have this:

Gonzales said he wants to encourage Tech students to have high aspirations but to realize that success doesn’t come overnight.

“Dream big but be patient,” he said. “You never know when the next George W. Bush is going to come along and give you a once in a lifetime opportunity like he gave me, but you have to be patient.”

Hmm, because doing it on your own is so...difficult?

Small world moment. Gonzalez was hired by Kent Hance, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System in Lubbock, Texas. Hance, formerly a Democratic Party member who switched to the Republican party in 1985, is the only person to have defeated George W. Bush when he ran for congress in 1978. It looks like networking has really paid off for Mr Gonzalez.


The last of the scab has fallen off and I now have contiguous skin where I formerly had a hole on the side of my knee. Said injury was created after sliding on the asphalt back in early October. At no time did the asphalt touch my skin, protected as it was by the lycra. But it was contused so deeply that it took eight weeks to heal.

No, I was not picking at it.

And Your Point Is...

Today's Spokesman Review brings us a strange piece written by David Masci, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum. The title, "Science, Faith Aren't Mutually Exclusive," indicates to me it's about people who understand the science and have faith in a religion. Well, sort of.

A century and a half after Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,” the overwhelming majority of scientists in the United States accept Darwinian evolution as the basis for understanding how life on Earth developed. But although evolutionary theory is often portrayed as antithetical to religion, it has not destroyed the religious faith of the scientific community.

Hmmm, so the main point of this article is the faith of the scientists.

According to a survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center in May and June this year, a majority of scientists (51 percent) say they believe in God or a higher power, while 41 percent say they do not.

Furthermore, scientists today are no less likely to believe in God than they were almost 100 years ago, when the scientific community was first polled on this issue. In 1914, 11 years before the Scopes “monkey” trial and four decades before the discovery of the structure of DNA, psychologist James Leuba asked 1,000 U.S. scientists about their views on God. He found the scientific community evenly divided, with 42 percent saying that they believed in a personal God and the same number saying they did not.

And it ends with this:

As for Darwin, his letters indicate that he was probably an agnostic who lost his faith not because his groundbreaking theory was incompatible with religion, but because of his grief after the 1851 death of his favorite child, his 10-year-old daughter, Annie. And even then, he may not have completely rejected the idea of a higher power. The concluding sentence of “Origin of Species” speaks of a “Creator” breathing life “into a few forms or into one.” The passage raises at least a little doubt as to how the father of modern evolutionary theory might have responded to the question on belief in Pew’s recent survey of scientists.

I'm baffled. What is the purpose of this article, get people to think that Darwin may have believed in God after all? That scientists may not be all wrong because some of them have faith or believe in God? What difference does that make? If you want to talk about the effect of faith on science and science on faith, then focus on this paragraph in the article.

And the public does not share scientists’ certainty about evolution. While 87 percent of scientists say that life evolved over time due to natural processes, only 32 percent of the public believes this to be true, according to a different Pew poll earlier this year.

Well, there's yer problem right there. Barely one-third of the American public believe the theory of evolution to be true. I could get into all the attempts the faithful have used to stifle the science involved, but that has been thoroughly documented over the years.

Interestingly, Buddhism gives its members a way to avoid the dogma trap. In "The Universe in a Single Atom", the Dalai Lama described how at age twenty he began a systematic study of Abhidharma cosmology, an important part of the Tibetan intellectual landscape. It describes a flat world around which the sun and moon revolve which he knew to be false.

He stated there is a dictum in Buddhist philosophy that to uphold a tenet that contradicts reason is to undermine one's credibility; to contradict empirical evidence is a still greater fallacy.

Now there's something you can believe in.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

KSPS Membership Drive

The Spokane Bicycle Club manned the phones for a few hours today at KSPS. It got off to a slow start since it was early in the afternoon. I answered the phone and a woman wanted to cancel the pledge she made earlier. Wow, my first call and I'm already in the hole! She explained she was on a fixed income and she shouldn't be so impulsive. Not a problem. Business picked up a lot as time went on. The last hour went very quickly because I spent the entire time taking pledges from and talking to people from Canada, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. KSPS covers a large area and our Canadian neighbors really appreciate the station. Most of the calls I answered were from there.

We were duly relieved by the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 81. Spokane has had a Coast Guard Auxiliary since 1958. Who knew?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cell Phone Bowl

On Thanksgiving day and during the gingerbread house party today I put a bowl out and asked everyone to put their cell phone or equivalent device inside. The deal was they could only answer it if it rings. The intent was to remove an easy distraction and guide everyone towards socializing with everyone else.

The reactions differed a lot by age group. The adults were fine with this and thought it was a good idea. The teens and young adults were hesitant to depart with their electronic tethers and yet they somehow managed to get by without them for a few hours. Every once in a while you'd hear the bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as a phone received a text and nobody paid it any mind. Nice.

Kathy had the idea of marketing a bowl for this purpose. We started into an as-seen-on-TV sales pitch.

"Order now and for the same low price of $19.99 we'll send you a second cell phone bowl free! Just pay shipping and handling. Here's what our customers have to say."

Woman holding a bowl at the front door while people file out: "I didn't want my guests to stay past 9:00 so I told them that the first ones to leave could get a free upgrade by getting first choice. Thanks, cell phone bowl!"

Genius, eh? There's an easy million bucks.

Gingerbread House Party

As we always do this time of year, we had friends and family over to build gingerbread houses. Some of them were so focused it looks like they even tried to build them to code.

The Real Meaning Of Christmas

Now that Black Friday has officially begun the Christmas shopping season, you have an opportunity--no, an obligation to do your part for all that is sacred and wholesome and help determine which stores are Christmas friendly, Christmas negligent or Christmas offensive. There's a site called Stand for Christmas where you can post your Christmas shopping experiences.

Millions upon millions in our nation deeply value the great truths of Christmas and the holiday's inspiring place in American life and culture. We hope you will take a moment to "Stand for Christmas" by sharing feedback about your Christmas shopping experiences.

We're asking YOU to decide which retailers are "Christmas-friendly." They want your patronage and your gift-shopping dollars, but do they openly recognize Christmas?

And why is this important? Because...

For millennia, CHRIST has been the reason for the season.

Not only is Christmas a memorable family time – it’s the time when people worldwide celebrate the centerpiece of their faith…Jesus Christ.

There's no gauge for helping you decide what qualifies your shopping experience as friendly, negligent or offensive so here are some sample comments for JCPenney that may help.

Christmas Negligent:

No mention of Christmas in their television commercials.

When I shopped at Penney's today, the clerk was telling everyone to "have a happy holiday." I said, "Have a Merry Christmas." She just mumbled a, "oh, yeah."

Christmas Friendly:

I recieved my Christmas catalog from JCPenney yesterday. On the front "Christmas Gift catalog".

JC Penny's catalog is Christmas friendly. It is late November but their emails mention Holiday Sale and Gift giving but no mention of Christmas. Please celebrate Christmas with the millions of Americans like myself who celebrate on December 25th - Christmas.

Christmas Offensive:

I was so disappointed to walk into our JCP only to come face-to-face immediately with shirts emblazoned with skulls, crossbones, flames, dragons & all sorts of evil images. Amazingly, the nearby girls section featured similar emblems. No mention of Christmas. Left me feeling saddened, heavy-hearted & ready to get out of the store. I now enter the mall through another store to avoid the "downer" of the celebration of death & evil I see when I enter thru JCP.

If that doesn't help then look to your heart. After all, nothing gives you the real meaning of Christmas like camping out all night for a 4:00 am opening so you can be one of those first five customers to get that video game at a steal of a price, handing over your email address so you get notified of all the specials, giving the cashier your zip code so she doesn't have to enter a fake one, receiving your credit card and receipt with a "Thank you", and having the entire experience capped off with a "Merry Christmas" from the greeter as you leave.

Open Hard Drive Surgery

I was down to the last 6GB on the 320GB hard drive in my iMac. I needed to replace the drive with a much larger one. After checking out the instructions for disassembling an iMac I thought it best to wait for Geoff to come home since he's a lot more comfortable doing this than I am. So I ordered a 1.5TB drive and waited. While I waited I judiciously selected which photos and videos to save and discarded those I felt were not worthy of taking up the last of my hard drive space.

Yesterday was the big day. Geoff handily took the system apart and swapped out the hard drive. It's the piece with the green circuit board. After putting it back together without having any extra pieces left over (amateur!), he booted up off the Mac OS CD, repartitioned the new drive, booted up again and told it to restore from the backup I had on the external drive.

About three hours later I was back online with tons of available bytes. Remember when a 100MB or even a 20MB drive seemed like an immense amount of space?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Trot

What a huge turnout this morning. It was great. There must've been a couple thousand people there. That equates to 80,000 at a TEA party protest which means the Turkey Trot is bigger than Bloomsday!

Geoff and Josh went with me and ran way ahead of the pack. Of course it helps to be up front at the start. I ran into an old hockey teammate and learned he's thinking about playing again. And my sister, Barb, was there with some friends. I was goofing off, not paying attention to the time, saw John and Maddie, wandered around looking for Al (no luck), and ended up way in the back at the start. For me it was like starting Bloomsday--hey, it's that big now--in the red section. I didn't even start running until after the first turn.

Hopefully, tons of people equated to tons of food for Second Harvest.

What I'd Like To Be Thankful For

Today I will be joined by friends and family in my comfortable home. There will be an overabundance of food and much laughter and enjoyment of each others company. Ask around the room and you will hear a multitude of reasons why we are thankful and what we have to be thankful for. It's a tribute to the human spirit that even in the most difficult times we can find something even though to others it may be small or inconsequential. But there will be one item missing from my list.

President Obama apparently has weighed his options for Afghanistan and will soon announce his decision. Leaked reports--do they float this ahead of time to see what the reaction will be?--indicate he may send an additional 34,000 troops.

Afghanistan, a country with a lengthy history of military failures on the part of the invaders. A country beset with corruption, so much so that Abdullah Abdullah refused to participate in a run-off election against Hamid Karzai this month after the first election results were essentially voided due to rampant ballot box stuffing and other voter fraud and intimidation tactics. Karzai became president by default. It's a country where we pursue and fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban whom many Americans mistakenly believe are one and the same. Regardless, it's a war we can't win.

There are 68,000 U.S. troops and 42,000 from other countries in Afghanistan. The U.S. Army's recently revised counterinsurgency manual estimates that an all-out counterinsurgency campaign in a country with Afghanistan's population would require about 600,000 troops.

Adding 34,000 to 110,000 is still well short of 600,000. It's like Obama has picked a number he hopes will send the signal that he's not a wimp but also not foolhardy. The ever eloquent and thoughtful Bill Moyers discussed a similar situation in his program last Friday. Although there are many differences, much of the talk leading up to our increased and extended involvement in South Vietnam repeats itself today.

After eight years we are no closer to our goals--whatever they are--in Afghanistan. We have not created a stable government outside of Kabul. The "enemy" is part of the populace and not easily discerned. Even Afghan soldiers and policemen turn against their American counterparts at times. While we may be able to kill from afar, do we not recognize the civilians who also perish in the attacks provide more reason to fight against us?

As Bill Moyers summarized:

Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we're fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.

Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.

And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he's got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight and die, while their own country is coming apart.

And once again, the loudest case for enlarging the war is being made by those who will not have to fight it, who will be safely in their beds while the war grinds on. And once again, a small circle of advisers debates the course of action, but one man will make the decision.

We will never know what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson had said no to more war. We know what happened because he said yes.

And that's what I'd like to be thankful for. That President Obama said no.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Councilman Jon Snyder

Who would've guessed not very long ago that an enterprising young man introducing a monthly outdoor recreation publication to his hometown would run for office and get elected to the city council. This evening Jon Snyder was sworn into office. Former Spokane mayor Sheri Barnard, speaking before the swearing in, explained that--as happened to her when she was elected to the council--since the current council member was appointed then Jon was to take office right after the election was certified.

With his wife and children looking on and plenty of supporters and friends in attendance, Jon took the oath. Afterwards he gave a speech in which he highlighted the need for, and importance of, community involvement from everyone.

Jim Boyd played a song appropriately named "Unity" as he had everyone singing along. The vibe he generated in the room was really cool.

Top billing!

Soon to be a common sight at City Hall. One of Jon's first jobs may be to get an extra bike rack installed. How appropriate that Jon gave out spoke cards--first and last graphic in this post.

Okay, Councilman Jon Snyder. Show us what you did this for.

More photos of the ceremony are here.

An Opportunity To Do Two Good Things

The Bloomsday Road Runners Club is once again sponsoring the Turkey Trot. 9:00 am is the start time so get there beforehand to "register". Your "entry fee" is a donation for Second Harvest. If you're a Flying Irish, wear your shirt and sign in at the Starbuck's located on 13th and Grand.

You'll notice it says you can run or walk any distance. So even if you're not a runner, bundle up, bring a hot drink and go for a stroll at Manito Park. The weather is going to be very nice. 40 degrees is not that cold and the slight chance of rain isn't until after 4:00 pm.

So get some fresh air and support a good cause!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Barefoot Running - Pushing The Envelope

Since I stayed home today, I took the opportunity to get a nice run in. From my house, going along Farwell and Hastings and then down Mill Road to the bottom of the hill is 5k. I wore shoes on the way there and then removed them for the trip back. Since the first half warmed me up so well, the cold--mid to high 30's depending on which bank's sign you believe--didn't bother my feet. And I finished the 10k in 48 minutes which is about a 7:45 mile pace. My soles have a couple of tender spots which means my form still needs improvement, but I thought I did well for that distance.


Back in the 80's I was busy going to night school to get my degree while I was stationed in England. One class I needed was Calculus. Stephania Wandaczewitz, a Polish emigre, taught that class for the University of Maryland along with a British teacher whose name escapes me. Stephania had a fearsome reputation as a tough teacher and many prospective students canceled out after they learned she was slated to teach. I didn't want to wait so I signed up.

The talk about Stephania was spot on. She was tough. She had a brilliant mind that comprehended Calculus thoroughly. If you've ever taken Calculus, you know just how much trouble that can be. Here we have someone trying to explain something that most people don't understand and those people, we students at the time, constantly saying, "Huh?"

One day after a student asked her to explain something again, Stephania exploded in frustration. (Imagine a heavy Polish accent) "What ees wrong weeth you? Thees ees so seemple!"

Yeah, she was tough. But she had another side. She had very liberal hours where she would meet students at the library and provide help either one-on-one or as a group depending on how many showed up. Due to her in-class demeanor, very few took her up on her offer. Well, I wanted a good grade and who doesn't need help with Calculus? At the library you'd swear you were with a different person. That Stephania had a heart of gold and the patience of Job. She'd go over a problem three times without a single complaint.

So what's the point of this? Well, it's not to bad mouth my Calculus teacher of 25 years ago. Back when Kathy became a nurse, she completed two years of college. It's been eating on her for a long time now so she's back in school to get a B.S.

Kathy doesn't get math very easily--funny though, ask her to compute the dosage for a person weighing X kilograms when the medication calls for Y mg/Kg and that's a breeze--whereas I grok most math concepts without much of a strain, Calculus being a notable exception.

Recently, I've been helping Kathy out with her math classes. At times I'm trying to explain something that seems intuitively obvious and she's just not getting it. I mean it's right there! And so when I'm feeling frustrated I remember what it was like for me when Stephania was frustrated and how much help I needed. And then I pause, take a breath and patiently go through the problem step by step. Some steps more than once.

Since taking the class, I haven't used Calculus but one time. I remember the teacher made a big deal of this when I took Operating Systems. "Hey, remember how you thought you'd never use Calculus?" It had to do with a queuing problem. But that, too, is lost in a haze. So while little or nothing of the subject matter stuck with me I think I came away from Stephania's class with something more valuable.

Celebrate Jon Snyder's Swearing In Tomorrow

Received this notice today:

Some folks have been confused about the time and date of Councilman Jon Snyder's swearing in ceremony: it is tomorrow, Wednesday, November 25 at 5PM in City Council Chambers at City Hall. Former Mayor Sheri Barnard will say a few words and Jim Boyd will perform a song. Bring a friend, bring the kids--let's see how many bikes we can park outside!

Since I'm off the bike I'll probably wear my STA pass pinned to my jacket. And if you're on the bike, feel free to join John afterwards.

4 Out Of 5 Dentists Recommend...

There is a proposed Republican National Committee resolution (PDF) on Reagan's Unity Principle for Support of Candidates going around. Of course, someone was quick to tag this as a purity test.

WHEREAS, President Ronald Reagan also believed the Republican Party should welcome those with diverse views; and

WHEREAS, President Ronald Reagan believed, as a result, that someone who agreed with him 8 out of 10 times was his friend, not his opponent; and

So presumably those with diverse views are welcome as long as their diversity isn't too diverse. After all the "whereas" stuff, we have ten key issues listed for which Republican candidates must support at least eight in order to win support from the Republican party.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee identifies ten (10) key public policy positions for the 2010 election cycle, which the Republican National Committee expects its public officials and candidates to support.

Several issues specifically state how they must be supported.

We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

It's like Josh said in my last post. It hurts when you have to think so hard.

Go Back To School

People like this are not uncommon. I'm sure you could find some who are just as ignorant about the liberal politician or policy they support. But it certainly seems like there's a greater number who can't speak to the conservative politician or policy. They talk about freedom, liberty, fairness, cutting spending, etc., but when asked about specifics--how those would be implemented--they are at a loss or they just repeat a talking point.

Josh is taking AP Government at school. Formerly uninterested in politics and its ilk, he now speaks up quite often with, "Oh, we just learned about..." and he'll explain in detail the use of guilt by association, political action committees, candidates speaking in general terms about patriotism and freedom, etc. It's great to see him do that. Kudos to Kevin Workman for being a great teacher. Josh frequently complains that Mr Workman makes him think too hard. If only we all suffered like that!

Maybe adults should be required to take a refresher class every few years.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Barefoot Running - What The Experts Say

The American Podiatric Medical Association recently released a position statement on barefoot running.

APMA Position Statement on Barefoot Running

Barefoot running has become an increasing trend, and a possible alternative or training adjunct to running with shoes. While anecdotal evidence and testimonials proliferate on the Internet and in the media about the possible health benefits of barefoot running, research has not yet adequately shed light on the immediate and long term effects of this practice.

Barefoot running has been touted as improving strength and balance, while promoting a more natural running style. However, risks of barefoot running include a lack of protection--which may lead to injuries such as puncture wounds--and increased stress on the lower extremities. Currently, inconclusive scientific research has been conducted regarding the benefits and/or risks of barefoot running.

The American Podiatric Medical Association, along with the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, encourages the public to consult a podiatrist with a strong background in sports medicine to make an informed decision on all aspects of their running and training programs.

It's funny how they mention the lack of research on the immediate and long term effects of barefoot running when you consider that the majority of the world's population do not wear shoes. Or that humans have been wearing minimal or no footwear since the dawn of our species.

Injuries such as puncture wounds are feasible, but that's what your eyes are for. I can't tell you how many people ask me what I do about glass. I go around it. I have no idea how APMA comes up with increased stress on the lower extremities, there being a lack of research and all. Maybe they're referring to that anecdotal evidence that proliferates on the Internet.

Speaking of research, I did find this study, with the following reason for being:

The purpose of this study was to present a systematic overview of published reports on the incidence and associated potential risk factors of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners.

And they found:

The overall incidence of lower extremity injuries found in the 17 studies varied from 19.4% to 79.3%. In other studies in which non-lower-extremity injuries were also described and included in the overall incidence number, the reported incidence for injuries varied from 26.0% to 92.4%. The predominant site of lower extremity injuries was the knee, for which the location specific incidence ranged from 7.2% to 50.0%. Injuries of the lower leg (shin, Achilles tendon, calf, and heel), foot (also toes), and upper leg (hamstring, thigh, and quadriceps) were common, ranging from 9.0% to 32.2%, 5.7% to 39.3%, and 3.4% to 38.1%, respectively. Less common sites of lower extremity injuries were the ankle and the hip/pelvis (also groin), ranging from 3.9% to 16.6% and 3.3% to 11.5%, respectively.

That's not exactly anecdotal evidence. Since the vast majority of long distance runners wear shoes and a good number of them suffer from lower extremity injuries, you would think the APMA would have a position statement on that as well, eh? Or perhaps the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine could list the injury rate for the running shoes they recommend.

With or without shoes, I think you'll suffer fewer lower extremity injuries if you learn to run properly. Now the only basis I have for that statement are my experiences this year, especially over the last two months. Running barefoot provided the impetus for me to relearn how to run. I'm more in tune with my body. I'm more efficient. I'm even a little faster. But most of all, running is now fun.


If you're trying to research running and foot-related terms, be careful that you spell them correctly in the search engine or you may be doing some fast explaining if someone walks up at the perfect uncomfortable moment. Take "pronation" for example. Accidentally swap two letters....

Last Friday, while on a three mile barefoot jaunt during lunch, I crossed paths with a woman whom I've often seen running. "Does everybody think you're crazy?" she asked. "Yeah," I answered.

Barefoot Running - Get Warm First

It was a cold day which means it was a great day for a run. I went out on my 4.4 mile route during lunch. Passing through Riverfront Park another runner recognized me and pointed out that I was not barefoot. Well, yeah, it's like 35 degrees out. But his observation got me wondering. With winter coming, how much barefoot running can I do in the cold?

My route takes me onto Ohio St and then I cross the Sandifur Bridge and come up Riverside. Many times I've done this route and then removed my shoes for that last 1.4 miles to work after crossing the bridge, but it was always nice weather. So I thought I'd give it a try figuring my feet would be plenty warmed up after three miles in shoes. And it worked out pretty well. There was still a little snow along the roadway but not enough to worry about stepping in. My main concern was the cold water on the roadway. But my feet stayed mostly warm on the climb into Browne's Addition and they felt fine on the dry sidewalks back to downtown.

Normally I can tolerate running barefoot if it is over 40 degrees, but it's nice to know I have an option for when I do a longer run in the mid-30's, especially if it's dry.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Number 6

The topic: If you were to write a manual, giving information on how something works or how to do something, what would the topic be?

My response: How To Raise A Child - The Easy 15,983,728 Steps To Success

Maybe I Could Take One Day Off

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Manufacturing The Message

Yesterday evening I saw this announcement on Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers' Facebook page.

That's nice. She's going to be on Greta Van Susteren's program. Not easily impressed, I moved on. But then it was followed by this entry.

A teaser? Drop dead time? Both puzzled and curious, I clicked on the link and up popped two photos of Greta, one with Senator Kyl and one with McMorris Rodgers. They're going to be on the program. This was the teaser for McMorris Rodgers' appearance:

and .... Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodger about cancer screenings for women...and Governor Palin (fyi: she has something to say about Governor Palin and having a special needs the Governor, the Congresswoman has a special needs child)

Palin? Then a survey on the right side of the page caught my attention.

As you can see from the answers you are allowed to choose from, it's evident that the poll's creator is ensuring the results are slanted. Desperately so. Last night there were only 993 responses to the poll.

This morning there are over ten thousand.

Strange. There must be a lot of late-night Fox News addicts answering the poll on Greta's page. I clicked on the link to see where that would take me and after digging around a bit, I found this particular poll. Greta is the author.

(For a measure of the incivility and ignorance promoted by many cable "news" programs, browse the comments. And you know how people can get when they're uncivil.)

But there's more. I know it could be painful for some, but watch Greta's interview with McMorris Rodgers. You have to get though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce commercial and then you're losing another six minutes of your life and I apologize for that. Now there is a shortcut available. Notice in the description of the video--Hey, I thought this was an interview with Cathy McMorris Rodgers--there's a link to the transcript. You can read that, but then you'll miss all the video of Sarah Palin.

I liked the warning next to the transcript link. At least Fox News is honest about something.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quotable Quote

Utah State Senator Chris Buttars (R) believes that sexual orientation deserves protection from employer and landlord abuse. But he does not support same-sex marriage. And he does not support allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. This is how he explains it.

Watch the video. (Go to 1:18 for the quote below.)

I meet with the gays here and there. They were in my house two weeks ago. I don’t mind gays. But I don’t want ‘em stuffing it down my throat all the time. Certainly not in my kid’s face.

You have to give him some credit, though. At least he's meeting with "the gays here and there."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

That Explains It

Public Policy Polling found that 26% of American voters (PDF) think ACORN stole the election for Barack Obama.

And only 30% of conservatives believe Obama is legitimately elected as president. And here all this time I thought that guy from ACORN last year was trying to sell me that watch he was slowly waving back and forth in front of my face.


It's Harder Than It Looks

In regards to my last post, the last thing I want to do is belittle or downplay breast cancer. Because of the severity of the disease and how close to home it has hit for many, the recommendations of the Preventive Services Task Force provide an easy target for ridicule and outrage.

I think it's important to remember just how difficult their job is. How do you establish a break point where the cost of detecting or preventing a disease is excessive or unnecessary? How do you determine the number of lives that would statistically be saved and say it's worth the cost? Can we afford to save everyone by screening every woman every year from age 40-70? Can we do that for every disease? No, we can't. Unless it's my wife. Or my mother. Or my daughter. When it's personal it's an easy call. But when we look at the big picture, it's not so easy any more. For more discussion on that I invite you to read a post at Good Math, Bad Math as food for thought.

In the meantime, from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force web site:

USPSTF recommendations have formed the basis of the clinical standards for many professional societies, health organizations, and medical quality review groups. Previous editions of the Guide to Clinical Preventive Services have been used widely in undergraduate and post-graduate medical and nursing education as a key reference for teaching preventive care.

The work of the USPSTF has helped establish the importance of including prevention in primary health care, ensuring insurance coverage for effective preventive services, and holding providers and health care systems accountable for delivering effective care.

USPSTF recommendations highlight the opportunities for improving delivery of effective services and have helped others in narrowing gaps in the provision of preventive care in different populations.

It's important to remember that this group's recommendations would have been released with or without the current health care reform bill in the works. And whether the health care reform bill is defeated or not, their recommendations could still be adopted by insurance companies who may then decide to only cover mammograms for women over 50. But that'll be easy for them. Someone else already did the hard part.

Shooting For Political Points

In today's Spokesman Review, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and other Republican congresswomen try to score points by associating a study conducted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force with the "Democratic health care reform."

Illustrating the continuing political fallout from controversial new recommendations on breast cancer screening, GOP congresswomen condemned a government-funded study Wednesday and suggested it was a preview of what to expect from Democratic health care reform.

Led by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., six Republican congresswomen told reporters that the guidelines, published Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, send the wrong message.

First, I wonder if Cathy McMorris Rodgers--or anyone else for that matter--bothered to read the study. You can read it at the Annals of Internal Medicine where you'll find:

Background: This systematic review is an update of evidence since the 2002 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation on breast cancer screening.

Purpose: To determine the effectiveness of mammography screening in decreasing breast cancer mortality among average-risk women aged 40 to 49 years and 70 years or older, the effectiveness of clinical breast examination and breast self-examination, and the harms of screening.

Data Sources: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (through the fourth quarter of 2008), MEDLINE (January 2001 to December 2008), reference lists, and Web of Science searches for published studies and Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium for screening mammography data.

So this is an update and they used data gathered up through December of last year. These are medical professionals doing the job they were appointed, years ago, to do. But rather than find this out for herself, our congresswoman goes on:

“Especially as we have been debating health care reform in America, it is concerning to us that these recommendations mirror policies in single-payer nations like England, where women over 50 are invited once every three years to be screened,” McMorris Rodgers said.

She said the timing of the study “was very curious to me.” She said she saw it as “an example of how government-run decisions could be made.”

First she associates it with that nasty English single payer system. You can read about how their system works here. Women between 50-70 are invited to have an exam every three years. But that doesn't mean that's the only care they're allowed. They explain why women under 50 are not offered routine exams and...

Women can ask their GP to refer them to a hospital breast clinic if they are concerned about a specific breast problem or otherwise worried about the risk of breast cancer.

Can all women in the U.S. do that today? No.

Then McMorris Rodgers remarks about the timing of the study. Yes, it is curious. It's like they were done.

Rodgers, from the three point line. She shoots! (whiff) Air ball! Air ball! Air ball!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Runnin' Ain't Always Pretty

I ran nine miles to work this morning and finished in 75 minutes. That was a huge confidence boost for me because I was feeling pretty crappy--weak and lead-legged--for the first four miles. I felt like I was doing a 10-minute-mile pace but it was actually 8:40. Then I got into a good rhythm and daydreamed about stuff to help me relax and I picked it up to 8:20. That was neat because I wasn't trying to run faster. I just chilled out. I ended up with close to an 8:30 average and I'm okay with that.

Before I left the house I checked the NWS site for Spokane's weather and it showed the temperature was 32. That sounded agreeable enough that I figured I wouldn't need my running gloves which means--since I'm bothering to mention it in the first place--I was wrong. I live north of town and the temperature tends to be lower than the temp at the airport west of town. Plus, I had a slight headwind the whole way so my hands started getting cold after a half-mile or so. Fortunately, my well-designed running jacket has these extra long sleeves so I pulled them over my hands and everything was cool. Or at least warm enough.

However, there's another reason I need to wear my gloves when it's chilly. The gloves have this absorbent section of material that goes from the base of the thumb towards the back of the hand. It's perfect for wiping away the snot dribbling from your nose when you're running in the cold. And my gloves were at home. Fortunately, my well-designed running jacket has these extra long sleeves....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In The Groove

Yesterday I ran three miles, the first half with shoes and the second without. Although it was above 40 degrees, it was very windy and the pavement and sidewalks were wet in places so I wore shoes to give my feet a chance to get warm before I ran barefoot. During the barefoot part, I felt my form was off and towards the end of the run my feet were warning me that a blister was in my future if I didn't mend my ways.

The weather today was nice--45 degrees, dry, and a slight wind--so I thought I'd go out for an easy two miles and just concentrate on form, mostly setting my feet down and picking them up without any twisting or pushing. After the first mile I was doing well so I picked the pace up a little. After the second mile I decided to do one more and speed it up some more. It felt great and my feet were doing wonderfully. It's nice when you get in the groove every now and then.

There's a gravel/dirt shortcut made by people taking the most direct route to and from the Don Kardong bridge and the path going alongside Gonzaga. When I first started running barefoot I would carefully walk that because it hurt my feet. Now I can run up and down it with impunity. Don't ask me what impunity is. Hopefully, it's not something you don't want to step in. Like goose poop. Which is something I desperately try to avoid.

During the cool-down walk back to work, a man walking in the opposite direction pointed at me and said, "So you're that guy." looks like I'm gonna need a bodyguard or something to keep the public and paparazzi at bay. Ha!

We Already Conveyed Weakness

Cal Thomas is instructional in his column today in that he shows us how terrorists win. He's complaining about the announcement that five terrorists are to be tried in federal court in New York City for their roles in the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The trial could also serve as a venue for trying the Bush administration and second-guessing decisions that kept America safe after Sept. 11. Secrets might be revealed that could be used by terrorists to harm us again. And if the terrorists must have a jury of their peers, does that mean fellow Muslims might be included? Could that end in a hung jury or a mistrial?

Attorney General Holder assures us that conviction of the “criminals” is a virtual certainty. Anyone who follows our quirky court system knows that innocent people are in prison and murderers walk the streets. It is anything but a foregone conclusion that these men will be convicted, but it is likely that damage will be done to the United States, which is the primary objective of the terrorists.

What could we possibly try the Bush administration for that we don't already know and haven't done anything about? What we know is bad enough already but that hasn't prompted a call to action by many.

As to secrets being revealed, the U.S. has prosecuted many cases--some involving terrorists--where national security concerns remained safely hidden away.

Muslims on the jury?! Heavens! That would give my great-grandmother a touch of the vapors, forcing her to clutch her pearls in sheer terror. We let white people serve on the jury for white suspects, Catholics for Catholic suspects, and geologists for fellow geology suspects. Heck, we even let women serve on a jury despite their propensity to clutch their pearls in stressful moments.

Name one terror suspect prosecuted by the U.S. that got off. Even the most bumbling and inept alleged terrorists were found guilty. Some after more than one trial, but once they were in the cross hairs they stayed there until a jury was convinced and returned a guilty verdict.

Our "quirky court system" is based on the U.S. Constitution which contains rights for for the accused. Should any of these rights be violated or should the government overstep their bounds or should a law enforcement officer be sloppy or corrupt, then the guilty can go free and the innocent can be imprisoned. It's not a perfect system, but we hold it high for the world as a model of justice.

As to the damage done to the United States, it started years ago and will take many years to repair. The damage was done when we created a separate and faulty justice system for these suspects, when we created a new category for them where anything--including torture--goes and then lied about it, and when we decided we could imprison suspects indefinitely just because we thought they were a threat.

Attorney General Holder's decision to try five terrorists in federal court is a small victory. There are other prisoners being held in Guantanamo who will see military tribunals which have little or no protection for the rights we hold so dearly. And there are others who will remain lost in a vacuum known as preventive detention, allegedly too dangerous to be released but lack evidence to be tried. How's that for being a model of justice and human rights?

You don’t need an imagination to predict that crazies will show up at this trial, including Islamic terrorists in training who want to emulate the acts of the defendants. Some might be “inspired” to create another event at or near the courthouse. Cable TV will carry it all.

Cal Thomas's imagination has got the best of him and he provides a perfect example of how terrorists win. Be fearful and react in a way that changes your society for the worst.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Columbus Go Home!

A Tea Party Against Amnesty and Illegal Immigration protest was held in Minneapolis last Saturday.

From the article:

One activist, under the name "Robert Erickson," managed to get on the list of speakers and riled the crowd into a frenzy about the theft, murder and disease inflicted by illegal immigrants... from Europe, upon indigenous populations. In a "Yes Men" moment, the anti-immigrant crowd sat in silence, trying to figure out what just happened.

Here's part of the speech where he sets 'em up.

In Minneapolis, where I’m from, we have a huge immigrant population that’s been causing a number of problems. With the economy in recession, and so many people getting laid off, and unable to find work, immigrants should not be competing for the few jobs that are out there. It's just not fair to the folks who have a claim to this land and the right to be here. All across America, they are contributing to the flooding of our job markets making it hard for Americans to find jobs. Well, I'm fed up, and it's time to let our politicians know that enough is enough, and we're not gonna take it any more!

We need to secure our borders to protect our country. We need to restore order and put an end to the anarchy that’s sweeping the nation. We need tougher immigration laws to make sure that we send these people back where they came from. We need to protect the sovereignty of the real Americans. We need to hold our politicians accountable.

How did it go? It's better when you watch and listen.

*** Update *** New video posted *** Unfortunately, the reactions of the "good" Americans after the speech make this not safe for work.

Knickknacks For Today

My family informs me that it is entirely inappropriate of me--I believe the word they used was "gross"--to remove earwax from my hearing aids at the dinner table.

Sometimes I find out something strange and sometimes it's best not to ask me how I ended up going there.

Steph asked if she could take my copy of the MIT Guide to Lock Picking to school to read during Honors English. Turns out she more interested in her teacher's reaction than she was the subject matter. I wonder where she gets that from?

Why Do I Cyclocross?

Why Do I Cyclocross? from hank greer on Vimeo.

Cross posted from Cycling Spokane. Here's the video I made from yesterday's racing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cyclocross Racing

A large number of people of all ages braved the cold, mud, ice and light snow so they could enjoy riding and running in races sponsored by Emde Sports at Seven Mile today. I was amazed to see almost all age groups represented. And I was very impressed that so many people would go all out for a 30 or a 45-minute all-terrain race. This was the first cyclocross race I've ever seen and I thought everybody was pretty fast. Then the Men's A group went in the last race of the day. The way they were going you'd have thought it was a road race.

This looks like so much fun. I know what I want to do next fall. I'm working on a video of today's races and I'll post that when it's done. Thank you, Nate, for helping me shoot today.

GSL Cross Country Rocks Again

Congrats to the North Central and Ferris boys teams for their 1-2 finish (scroll down to the bottom) at the Nike Team Northwest Regional meet.

Josh, number 410, is in the middle of an uploaded photograph taken during the race.

Tryin' To Wrap My Brain Around This

A bishop tries to influence a politician by referring to the politician's uncle who famously made the point that, "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters — and the Church does not speak for me."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Signs Of Winter

Just some shots of the early snow.

A Sweet Deal?

It would appear that another Spokane police officer (already loaded with comments) was more than adequately represented by attorney Robert Cossey who has proven to be the "go to" guy for defending law enforcement officers.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, was cited for drunken driving when he rear-ended a Mead woman’s truck in September, then drove away without stopping. A judge amended the charges Friday to include one count of misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident, then dismissed that charge after being presented with a letter from the victim that said she’d been paid for the damage to her vehicle and was “not interested in (pursuing) Mr. Thoma any further.”


Court documents show Cossey was the first person Thoma tried to contact when troopers took him to the WSP office.

When Thoma couldn’t reach Cossey’s office, he called police Officer Rob Boothe to get the attorney’s private number, according to a report. Cossey had successfully defended Boothe from allegations by two fellow officers that he’d kicked a handcuffed man in the face. Cossey also successfully defended former police Officer Jay Olsen against criminal charges stemming from the shooting of a fleeing man, Shonto Pete.

The curious part about this is that the victim in this case, Sherry Prickett, signed a letter that helped convince the judge to defer prosecution against Thoma. She received the letter via email "just hours" before the court hearing from Cossey's law office. She says she thought it referred to financial issues surrounding the crash and not criminal prosecution and wouldn't have signed it otherwise.

Questions come to mind whose answers I think would be very helpful in understanding how this case turned out. What did the letter say exactly? What were the instructions, if any, in the email accompanying the letter? Was the letter also sent to the Spokane County prosecutor? When did the Spokane County prosecutor become aware of the letter? Did Ms Prickett consult with the Spokane County prosecutor before signing it or before turning it over? At any time did the Spokane county prosecutor ensure Sherry Prickett fully understood the ramifications of signing that letter?

Perfect For Those Winter Barbecue Parties

I've never heard of a Rubens' Tube before. But now that I have...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Looking Out For Their Own

Cathy McMorris Rodgers joined up with other Republican Party congresswomen in a Washington Times commentary, Together Against the Pelosi Plan; Why women should resist the Democratic "reform" bill.

Why? Because women are in charge.

In American families, women make most health care decisions, whether helping a parent, caring for a child or nudging along a spouse. We spend two of three health care dollars.

In fact, women are the overwhelming majority of professional health care providers: 98 percent of home care aides, 90 percent of nurses, the majority of first-year medical students and a third of doctors. The time when medicine was predominately a man's field is receding into history, no more relevant to health care today than bloodletting or leeches. Yet, in all the debate about legislative changes to health care, few politicians have bothered to ask women what they want.

Men, bloodletting, leeches, receding into history. You get the idea. Again we have the dire warning of federal bureaucrats taking over medical decisions, but this time it's taking power away from women. As proof, they offer up this.

The administration is having trouble administering the H1N1 vaccine program; what makes the White House think the government will be able to administer the nation's health care system? H1N1 vaccine is being delivered late; there's not enough available; and doctors are rationing shots - it's a preview of what a national health insurance program will look like.

A disingenuous argument. The vaccine is made in other countries--no "Made in America" stamp on your vaccination--and must meet FDA requirements. Are we so nation-centric that we think we're the only country ordering the vaccine? Be happy that it's private enterprise manufacturing the vaccine and not the government. Again we have the page length of the bill.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act is nearly 2,000 pages, longer than Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace."

And Tolstoy wasn't American, ergo.... Here's something new.

It creates 118 new federal bureaucracies.

The Republican Party, of which these congresswomen are members of, says there are 111. Apparently new ones are being discovered every day, especially if your definition of a "bureaucracy" is loose. They continue with more evidence of chicanery on the part of the "Pelosi bill."

The bill uses the word "shall" 3,425 times. These "Father Knows Best" passages are government mandates that force doctors, consumers and others in the health care profession to do what Congress orders. The word "penalty" is used 113 times for those who don't follow orders. "Tax" is referred to 97 times.

How grateful the silly women of America must be to these women for explaining it in terms they understand. There also appears to be a disturbing reliance on the letter "e" as well as other vowels and consonants. But on the bright side, the count for the seven dirty words is zero. The word "shall" is used in practically all legislation. Suddenly it's demeaning towards women? The funny part is the explanation "...are government do what Congress orders." Perhaps because once it is signed it becomes a law and Congress passes laws that mandate things? If this is signed by President Obama it may become a royal decree.

Next we are presented with various survey results concerning women who have health care and what they do and do not want. But there is a group they don't talk about--women who don't have health care. And yet they claim,

As congresswomen, we think we should be listening to and speaking out for women.

And the word "women" was in that sentence twice! Okay, you...and you...not, you...and you. What? Then not you. For those of you women with health care, even though we go on and on about federal bureaucrats interfering with your medical decisions we do want to make an exception for specific women's health issues. We know, we know, it's a "Father Knows Best" kind of mandate thing that will force you and your doctors to do what Congress orders, but...

Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the other Republican congresswomen are looking out for their own, but they're not looking out for women.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Paying The Price

The Rev. Joseph B. Fuiten, senior pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, has an opinion piece in the Tacoma News Tribune lamenting the price Christians paid for fighting and losing Referendum 71.

We failed in our message.

We failed in our methods.

We failed in our money.

Furthermore, I still have to wonder if God was in the effort.

I'd like to address each of these.

They failed in their message.

Essentially it was fear based. School curricula would likely be changed to teach children that same-sex marriage and homosexuality are normal. Marriage was being redefined. Free speech would be criminalized. Marriage needed to be protected. Children growing up in nontraditional families--as if this referendum would suddenly make them disappear if it was defeated?--are not as healthy emotionally and physically as children in traditional families. Even the Catholic church I attend handed out pamphlets imploring us to preserve marriage and protect our children.

All nonsense. I'm reminded of the closing argument Clarence Darrow made while defending Henry Sweet for murder back in 1926. Darrow made clear that the real issue was race, not murder. (A wonderfully crafted speech I highly encourage you to read.) The real issue here was anti-gay bigotry. In that respect I think they were very effective making their message known.

They failed in their method.

As the reverend admits, they appealed to people who would likely agree with them--other Christians. And they fear mongered. They set up a web site just for this purpose adding to their claim to the high road when it comes to "values". Their video productions were emotional appeals to believers and offered nothing to dissuade or convince an open-minded person dealing in reality. Even the Catholic church, under the guise of a reasoned and rational argument, used "gay marriage" as a boogeyman. I think their method was very successful at conveying their message.

They failed in their money.

Hands down. (Select 71 in the Initiative list on the left) If there's a future attempt at legalizing same-sex marriage in the State of Washington, there may be a lot more money spent as was done in Maine. For example, the Catholic church in Maine, despite having to close parishes they couldn't afford to keep open, somehow managed to contribute over a half of a million dollars to help pass Proposition 1, defeating same-sex marriage. It will be interesting to see what the bankrupt Spokane Diocese does if legalized same-sex marriage is attempted in Washington.

Rev. Fuiten has to wonder if God was in the effort.

An interesting wonder. Why, because they lost? How many fights, battles, wars and arguments have taken place in which one or both sides claimed or was assured God was an ally? History has shown that the winner gets to claim the support of their divine being. The Great Spirit may have presided over the death of George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn, but God made sure it never happened again. There was no need for God to be in the effort this time. God's most fervent followers make God less relevant and that is what I think really concerns the Reverend Fuiten.

Pastor Fuiten should look at the email he sent back in May of this year when he listed reasons for not running a referendum. (The many replies from other religious leaders, attorneys, and friends are enlightening.) He knew this was a losing effort from the start. So why the anguish?

In support of my relevancy comment, Fuiten wonders if the reputations of Christians have suffered.

Was the referendum an effort blessed by God? Did the Kingdom of God advance because of the effort? I have not heard of people giving their lives to Jesus because of the referendum. I did hear from a non-Christian friend commenting about one of his friends. He wrote, “I noticed the anger building in him, and tried to soften his approach, but he’s fed up. Referendum 71 has turned him against Christians.” Neither is a Christian.

And who's fault is that? Small wonder when your most intense messages spread false fears. Intolerance is an attractive force for like-minded people and detestable to everyone else.

Like he said in his email, if they lose at least they make a statement of faith.

Fuiten continues.

We paid a price for the referendum. It was not just a question of the price we would pay if we didn’t run the referendum. We have to consider the price of doing it as well.

We clearly lost ground with some. Did we gain offsetting ground with others? I don’t know. I do know we all worked hard for what we hoped was the will of God. We did it mostly for the right reasons.

In our best motives, we might have done it for God’s glory. Unfortunately, it appears we have fallen short of the glory of God.

They worked hard for God's will and God's glory. And their statement of faith supporting intolerance has cost them.

WIP Snapped!

Usually any projects done in the house, such as painting, wall paper, flooring, etc., take place as a result of a discussion that Kathy and I have had. Granted, she's more likely to bring up the need for the project and convince me, but then it's a mutual decision that this project will take place.

But every once in a while I end up with a wife initiated project--a WIP. This is a unilateral decision not involving me yet involving work...for me. You can imagine my less-than-keen desire for such projects. For instance, out of the blue a couple months ago some paint and paint supplies appeared and I learned that I was going to paint two walls. The new color on each wall will make them "look nice."

In front of one of the walls is our heaviest piece of furniture, a rosewood china cabinet, which I have moved twice before for painting projects, the need for which were determined by the For-better-and-for-worse committee of which I am a co-chair. (Hmm, could the frequent appearance of the word "which" be some sort of foreshadowing?)

So what's the big deal about moving the china cabinet, you ask? Well, it's just as much psychological as it is physical. The last two times I moved in my Air Force days, I moved all of our stuff myself. Both moves were local, from Geiger Heights to Fairchild and then from Fairchild to our home. After that I swore I was never moving my stuff again. I don't even like to rearrange the furniture. So it's with great reluctance that I agree to a project that involves moving furniture and appliances.

As I mentioned before, some paint and associated supplies have been waiting patiently to be put to use. But patience has worn thin and SWMBO has cracked the whip in order to get the WIP done. I was recently informed that the the For-better-and-for-worse committee has been supplanted by the 'Til-death-do-us-part committee, of which I am not a member, and I am strongly encouraged to paint the two walls and make them "look nice" which--there's that word again--doesn't sound as appealing when spoken through gritted teeth.

I never should have agreed to getting more cable channels. If I don't post anything for a while and without explanation, don't let her be the first to get off scot-free.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do Not Read This Story

Something I found on the KXLY web site. Somebody must be practicing.

More Hate Mongering

In today's Spokesman Review, Cal Thomas informs us that Major Hasan's attack on his fellow soldiers proves that our country is blinded by tolerance.

By now, the script should be disturbingly familiar. Whether in the Middle East, or increasingly in America, a fanatical Muslim blows up or goes on a shooting spree, killing many. This is quickly followed by “condemnations” from “Muslim civil rights groups,” like the Council on American-Islamic Relations. We are then warned by the president and some newspaper editorials not to jump to conclusions, or to stereotype.

Should we jump to conclusions or stereotype? Cal doesn't explicitly say.

People claiming to know Hasan told interviewers he made frequent statements against the wars and the U.S. presence in Islamic countries. Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, told reporters after he was briefed on the shootings that Hasan “took a lot of advanced training in shooting.” Why would a psychiatrist need advanced training in shooting unless he believed in murder as therapy?

Shouldn’t that, coupled with his statements about “the aggressor” and other actions – including his preference for Muslim clothing – have alerted someone in authority that he might be a time bomb waiting to go off?

I've learned to shoot a lot of weapons, but I've never heard of "advanced training in shooting." Should we be concerned with people who exercise their Second Amendment rights--especially if they wear Muslim clothing?

How much longer will we tolerate fighting this war as if it were a minor crime wave? Our enemies are fighting to win and they are fighting everywhere, including within our borders. People trained to appear nonthreatening, until the threat becomes obvious and it is too late to do anything about it, are infiltrating our government and society at every level.

What do we do about these nonthreatening-appearing people?

It is irrelevant that some have put the number of radicalized Muslims worldwide at 10 percent. Even if that figure is accurate, 100 million jihadists can cause a lot of damage, as they plot the destruction of Western democracies. Other wars have been won with far fewer soldiers and far fewer dupes.

Cal doesn't offer a solution other than we should do something. But his intent is clear.

His comments also make me wonder. What other ethnic, religious, racial or cultural groups are we being too tolerant of? American history is replete with acts of violence committed against groups and individuals. Some in the name of a religion. People like that have been infiltrating our government and society for years.

From Cal Thomas's point of view it appears you should make sure you are born into the right group of people in the first place, lest we be blinded by tolerating you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

You Go First

One can only imagine why this warning was attached to the curling iron. Did someone try to curl their eyebrows or eyelashes?

No, the curling iron is not mine.

Speed Demon

Over the weekend I finally bought a watch to replace the one my sweat killed during the summer. A nice, cheap Timex Ironman Triathlon watch--perfect for a poseur like me. And it was on sale!

Looking at the Spokesman Review clock at the beginning and end of a run is okay for a rough estimate but it's not enough to answer the question, "Am I running faster?" My marathon training last year involved a lot of running (duh, Hank!) and I'd have to say that was my best year for running--except for the part where I had to train for and run a marathon. BTW, I am still on track for running one every 51 years.

Using my Bloomsday results as a guide--I've done the last 14--my fastest time ever was 1:01:45 and that was in 2008 which kind of confirms my "best year" hypothesis. Yeah, I'm getting all scientific here. My last three Bloomsday finish times are in the 1:01:45 to 1:12:08 range. For five years before that I was accompanying Steph so those times don't count. But before that, I was in the same range. I think it's safe to say I can consistently run an 8:30-9:00 minute mile pace for 7.46 miles of Bloomsday. Heck, for the first half of the marathon I kept a comfortable 9:00 mile pace. I don't want to talk about the second half.

Anyway, today I ran for four miles and got my split for each mile. I took my shoes off at the 2-1/2 mile mark which took a minute so I had to subtract a minute from the third mile, which also afforded me a minute to catch my breath so that's kinda cheating, but hey if I was to go totally Type A I'd be out there measuring the exact distances and marking them off with spray paint and I'd be wearing a heart monitor complete with GPS and an avalanche transponder so I think I'm allowed a little leeway here.

Mile 1 - 7:36
Mile 2 - 7:36
Mile 3 - 7:38
Mile 4 - 7:47
Total - 30:37

I find I need to warm up during the first 2-3 miles and then I get into my rhythm. During the fourth mile I was breathing easy and running comfortably at a pace I felt I could continue least another mile. I guess the test would be to check my mile splits during a run to work.

I think the answer to the question is, "Yes, I am running faster." Now if I brought my weight from the upper end--but still in the normal range--of my allowed Body Mass Index to the lower end--a twenty pound difference--I could probably pick up the pace a little. But I love my mint chocolate chip ice cream. And beer.

Regardless, next year will bring my first under-an-hour Bloomsday finish.

If We Could Only Tell Them Apart

Bryan Fischer, AFA Director of Issues Analysis, of the American Family Association tries to convince us that after Major Hasan's attack on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood Muslims should be barred from the U.S. military. Why? Because

It became evidently almost immediately that the mass murderer in yesterday's killing spree at Fort Hood was a Muslim who was motivated by jihadist impulses.

You could feel the impulses from here.

The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the Prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday's massacre is living proof.  And yesterday's incident is not the first fragging incident involving a Muslim taking out his fellow U.S. soldiers.

There are 5 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States. There are between 10,000 and 20,000 Muslims in the U.S. military. You'd think that with all the "jihadist impulses" there would be more massacres, more so among the civilians. But he continues:

Of course, most U.S. Muslims don't shoot up their fellow soldiers.

No shit.

Fine. As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we'll go back to allowing them to serve.

Them danged Muslims all look alike. Hmmm, but the yellow stars were all used up. You'll have to use something else.

You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you're right, and Muslims can once again serve. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it's used, and we'll welcome you back with open arms.

Trust no Muslim. Watch every Muslim. Children, turn your parents in. Especially if you're Muslims. I thought we had a jihadi-detector. Isn't that an inclined board and a bucket of water?

This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism.

Of course it is.

While Christianity is a religion of peace, founded by the Prince of Peace, Islam is a religion of war and violence, founded by a man who routinely chopped the heads off his enemies, had sex with nine-year old girls, and made his wealth plundering merchant caravans.

Just look at how peaceful the Christian United States is.

And just as Christians are taught to imitate the life of Christ, so Muslims are taught to imitate the Prophet in all things. Yesterday, Nidal Malik Hasan was simply being a good Muslim.

Just as Christ taught, Fischer is turning the other cheek? And Hasan, imitating the Prophet, chopped the heads off his enemies, had sex with nine-year old girls, and plundered merchant caravans?

How do you talk to a person like Fischer?