Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yeah, That Makes Sense

About a month ago I posted about the White House site where citizens can petition their government and the top petition at the time was Legalize and Regulate Marijauana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol. Well the White House has responded via Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world's largest source of drug abuse research - marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment.

Let's see, alcohol consumption is associated with addiction, cardiovascular disease, malabsorption, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and cancer.

We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms.

Both links they point to list alcohol use as a much greater reason for voluntary treatment and emergency room visits.

Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20's.

Everclear, Ouzo, and Spirytus Vodka. Enough said.

Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

Where are the studies, completed or in progress, to back up those statements? Congress won't let that happen. In the meantime, alcohol is not a safe or effective medicine but it is a legal substance that causes greater harm than marijuana and is available to adults who are encouraged to drink responsibly.

As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem.

But we're not going to let that stop us.

We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

Like legalized alcohol does?

Increased Militarization Of The Police

According to KRPC in Houston, The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Conroe, Texas used $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money to become the first law enforcement agency to purchase a ShadowHawk unmanned helicopter made by Vanguard Defense Industries. (Note to other news agencies: See how KRPC included links to references so people can read these things for themselves? Hint, hint.)

Montgomery County did not get the weaponized version of the remote controlled helicopter.

Michael Buscher, chief executive officer of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, said this is the first local law enforcement agency to buy one of his units.

He said they are designed to carry weapons for local law enforcement.

"The aircraft has the capability to have a number of different systems on board. Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems," he said, including Tazers that can send a jolt to a criminal on the ground or a gun that fires bean bags known as a "stun baton."

"You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft. A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect," he said.


According to the Vanguard site:

U.S. Military and Law Enforcement consumers have less-lethal/lethal options including single or mulitple (sic) shot 37 mm/40mm grenade launcher, 12g shotgun.

I imagine a "less lethal system" consisting of a 37mm or 40mm grenade launcher engaging somebody "at altitude" probably would disable a suspect.

Somewhat akin to the Scooter Chair commercial, Vanguard Defense Industries lets law enforcement agencies know that they may qualify for a free Shadowhawk.

By nature of the Shadowhawk’s unique capabilities, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies can obtain 100% funding to purchase and maintain a UAS of their own. For further information on applicable grant funding please click the link below or contact us directly for further information.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office may want to rethink getting the weaponized version of the Shadowhawk. It's the closest thing to a combination AK 57 oozie radar laser triple-barrel double-scoped heat-seekin shotgun needed to bring down Da Turdy Point Buck.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Flying Irish Northside Run

This morning the Flying Irish held a one-time-only run at the northside O'Doherty's. (If you're interested in heading up a northside branch of FI runs, Brendan will do what he can to help you with that.)

Brendan (green shirt just right of center) gives everyone the "what we're doin' today" briefing. As to having a beer after the run, he wisely notes, "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning." Hmmm, he's got a point.

Stephanie, Kathy and my sister Barb participated in the extra credit run. The high school sophomore is way too cool to wave at the camera.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Brain Hurts

Well, if I choose any answer at random and there are only four to choose from, then I must have a 25% chance of being correct. Yet two of the four answers are 25% so I must have a 50% chance of selecting the correct answer.

But wait. The 60% answer can never be correct because that would mean I had to choose more than one answer. So that's at least 25% that I would be incorrect. And since I have a 25% chance of selecting a single correct answer and a 50% chance of selecting two of four correct answers, I really have a 75% chance of being correct. But 75% is not one of the answers so that is incorrect.

But wait. If I pick 50%, I'm incorrect because there's only a 25% chance of choosing 50%. And I'm incorrect if I pick 25% because there is a 50% chance I could choose 25%. And 60% is incorrect because I'd have to pick more than one answer which is not allowed. So the real answer is 0%, which is wrong because it's not one of the answers.

But wait. Since there's one answer with 50%, I have a 25% chance of randomly selecting the correct answer of 50% which would be incorrect because I have a 25% chance of picking 50% which, in turn, is incorrect because I have a 50% chance of picking 25%. And that would be incorrect because there's only a 25% chance of picking 50% which would again be incorrect....

Thank goodness no Sicilians or iocane powder are involved.

Oh, Look At The Bubbles

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and several other women Republican House members joined together in a GOP Women's Special Order promoting policies to protect seniors. I can't find anything in the House Rules (PDF) that defines what a GOP Women's Special Order is, but it looks like they all take turns recording themselves speaking to a mostly empty chamber about how they are working towards a goal that their actions show they have no intention of accomplishing, posting it on YouTube--OMG, heaven forbid the congresswoman's dad would have to come live with her--and encouraging their constituents to listen to their disingenuous claims.

Touting The Path To Prosperity as the plan to improve and reform Medicare, our fair congresswoman claims that Republicans are trying to save Medicare notwithstanding the fact that The Path to Prosperity changes Medicare to a voucher system that doesn't keep up with rising medical costs and forces cash-strapped seniors on a fixed income to pay more because that's the only way we can afford it since Republicans are adamant about not raising taxes. (Sorry for the two-breath sentence.)

McMorris Rodgers is a signatory (PDF) to Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition to increasing taxes. Norquist famously said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

If there's an image that could define the Republican Party today, it would be a group of Republican House members holding a struggling old man under water all the while congratulating each other on the great job they are doing saving the poor guy.

Free Bieber

I'm note sure the all hype is justified here. Last May, Sen Klobuchar (MN) introduced S. 978 in the Senate. There's been some complaining that this bill could send you to federal prison for singing a copyrighted song and putting it on the web. Following that tact, detractors of the bill say that Justin Bieber, who started out covering other songs and posting them on YouTube, would have gone to prison instead had this law been in place back then. They created a Free Beiber site to garner support for fighting this bill. Of course that can't pass without a touch of irony. They, in turn, have received a cease and desist letter from Bieber's lawyers who claim the site violates Bieber's intellectual property rights. For the record, Beiber doesn't agree with his lawyers.

Setting that aside for a moment, let's have a look at the text of the proposed bill. It amends the paragraphs following subsection (b) in Section 2319 of Title 18. That's all well and good but here's what it does not amend--subsection (b) which states:

(b) Any person who commits an offense under section 506 (a)(1)(A) of title 17—

Regardless of the offenses and penalties added to Section 2319, there's another section that controls. That is Section 506, paragraph (a)(1)(A) which states:

(a) Criminal Infringement.—
(1) In general.— Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed—
(A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;
(bolding mine)

It would appear that singing or using a copyrighted work and posting it on the web would not be a criminal offense as long as it doesn't create a commercial advantage or financial gain for you just like the other copyright violations.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Establishing Operational Control

It finally made the papers that two and one-half weeks ago the Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee approved the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act which does nothing to look out for natural resources or protect federal lands.

The Secretary of Homeland Security shall have immediate access to any public land managed by the Federal Government (including land managed by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture) for purposes of conducting activities that assist in securing the border (including access to maintain and construct roads, construct a fence, use vehicles to patrol, and set up monitoring equipment).

As you can see from the text, it gives Homeland Security carte blanche to do whatever they want on public lands in order to achieve operational control. So what is "operational control"? You have to look at the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

Operational Control Defined - In this section, the term `operational control' means the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.

The news about this bill says that it applies to a 100-mile zone along the borders with Canada and Mexico. I don't think that's the case. Carefully read Section 2(c)(1) of the proposed bill. It's convoluted as all get out but it looks to me like the law would apply to within 100 miles of all international land and maritime borders of the United States. Wouldn't that be nice?

The really curious part about this is the support for this legislation from the Motorcycle Industry Council. Who knew so many motorcycle riders have been endangered by terrorists infiltrating our borders?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cyclocross Racing - Liberty Lake

What a fun day! I raced in the Men's Cat 4 again. After getting by as many as I could on the straightaways after the start, I ended up with two guys ahead of me. I put targets on their backs. I actually caught them the second time we did the run up, otherwise known as the trudge up for many of us. I passed them both at the bottom and one of them hurried up at the last moment and tried to get by me at the top. I frantically jumped on my bike off balance and at the same time my front wheel dropped in a hole. I went down and ended up in this awkward position where one leg was trapped between the front wheel and frame while my body helped pin it down by being on top of the frame. Both guys got past and managed to put some distance between us before I was moving again. I was reeling one of them in on the last lap and then the race was over.

I managed the battery time on the cameras better and got video of four of the races this time. Crank up the sound.



*** Update
After going over this post again it appears the reader may be misled into thinking there were *only* two guys ahead of me in the race. That is most certainly not the case. There were many ahead of me, but I could see only two.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

JV Cross Country Championship

The Greater Spokane League schools met at Mead High School this rainy morning. Steph was buried somewhere in this mass of girls taking off when the cannon fired the start.

Despite the soaking wet conditions, she did awesome today and set a new PR - 25:10 for the 5k.

Thought Provoking

It's Funny How Time Sneaks Up On You

Last night I watched American Masters on public television. It was an excellent film about Pearl Jam made after they were together for twenty years.

"Twenty years," I thought. "When did that happen?" I remember hearing Pearl Jam when they first came out but it seems so disturbing to realize it was twenty years ago. On the bright side, I'm still here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

You Can Fool Some Of The People...

This email claims to be from Facebook but take a closer look. The From address is "notification" followed by a bizarre string of characters that could pass as a Microsoft validation code. The domain is facebookspot.com, not facebook.com. You can't tell from the screen capture but each link in the email: the facebook.com/profile.php, the inbox is full, the Frequently Asked Questions, and the unsubscribe all point to a web page nefariously placed on a legitimate web site. I downloaded that web page without executing it and found it contains code that redirects you to another site that is registered in St Petersburg, Russia. And that site claims to be selling drugs at cut rate prices.

Click to make the image large enough to see.

So...yeah...I got this really good deal on vicodin.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today's Double Entendre

We don't allow TVs in the can at our house.

On The Road Towards Irrelevance?

It's a puzzle. You'd think that a church so intent on protecting us from same-sex marriage would be just as energetic and forceful about protecting children from predators.

Granted, other churches besides the Catholic Church are involved in fighting same-sex marriage and other churches have had pastors and religious leaders prey upon children so this isn't something unique to one church. But what's going on with the Catholic Church?

At Mass last weekend, the priest giving the homily complained about the IRS investigating churches and threatening their tax-free status when religious leaders told people how they should vote. Never mind that it's the law and the IRS is charged with enforcing it, he expressed it in a manner that made it seem like the IRS was taking unilateral action in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

I have to wonder what they're thinking, especially when they're on the wane.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

If Hands Could Speak

What? What are you--? Don't make me do that again. Hold my breath--hold my breath--hold my breath--hold my breath. Pshhhhhhhhhhhh, I hate that.

Hey. Hey! Don't you walk past--HEYYYYYY! You're supposed to wash me. No, go back! Wash me! You're supposed to wash me!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Rhetoric Doesn't Match

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers announced that she and several other Republican congressmen have introduced the Keeping America Competitive through Harmonization Act.

“While America has led the medical device industry for decades, our leadership is being threatened by the FDA’s unpredictable, inconsistent and inefficient regulation of medical devices,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “According to job creators I’ve met, harmonizing FDA requirements with those of foreign regulators would help improve FDA regulation, expedite approval of life-saving and life-improving treatments, and improve the environment for job creation. Our bill will charge the FDA with undertaking the common-sense reforms that are needed to keep America the world capital of medical innovation.”

I thought I'd check out this landmark proposed legislation. It amends Section 803(c) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 383(c)). The entire bill is almost as long as the title so I'm including the full text.

    (a) In General- Paragraph (4) of section 803(c) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 383(c)) is amended to read as follows:

    (4) With respect to devices, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, enter into agreements with those countries identified in clauses (i) and (ii) of section 802(b)(1)(A) regarding methods and approaches to harmonizing regulatory requirements for premarket review, inspections, and common international labeling symbols.'.

    (b) Report - Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall submit to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives, a report listing the agreements entered into under section 803(c)(4) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (as amended by subsection (a)) and itemizing the methods and approaches that have been harmonized pursuant to such section.


If you're into that kind of stuff you can read Section 802 and Section 803. They're pretty short so go ahead and take a look.

Note that "harmonizing regulatory requirements" doesn't necessarily mean shorten or lengthen the time it takes to approve a medical device. And "the maximum extent practicable" is hardly a mandate.

Here's what I'm not clear on and I'll explain it with a hypothetical situation. Let's say the FDA is evaluating Device A and it will take five years to complete the evaluation. The EU is evaluating a similar device and it will take eight years to complete. South Africa has evaluated Device A for the past year and expects to complete it in one year. We conclude an agreement with South Africa that harmonizes the regulatory requirements for medical devices. (I'm not sure if that's possible because there are medical devices and then there are medical devices.)

Let's say the agreement includes Device A and now the evaluation period is two years. Does the FDA start afresh with the newly agreed upon regulation or wait for South Africa to complete the process and use that as the basis for approval? Now let's say the agreement was made with the EU instead and the new requirement is a eight year process. Will the medical manufacturers scream WTF?

Soccermom Susie Strikes Again

The End Is Near--Again

Only three more days until the end of the world. There was a last minute scheduling problem back in May so the date was pushed back six months. Still, it's guaranteed.

I consulted a different reference and found the domain names judgementday2012.com, judgmentday2012.com, judgmentday2013.com, and judgmentday2013.com are taken. But judgementday2014.com and judgmentday2014.com are still available.

So I'd say we have at least a couple more years, but I can't guarantee it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cyclocross Racing At Riverside State Park

It was a gorgeous day for racing. A shining sun barely made headway against the cool weather that frosted us up overnight. And although it was such a pleasant day I have to say I really miss the slop. Without any rain the courses have been dry and dusty. What's the use of acting younger than your age if you don't have mud and water to play in, right?

I only did one race today, the men's category 4. Instead of back-to-back races where I'm dying and out of gas in the second race, I decided to go all out for just one. It was fun and I thought I did well. I started in the back of the pack but managed to get by a couple guys before we headed into the trees. I passed a couple more during the race and a couple passed me as well. I didn't crash nor did I knock the chain off the chain ring. I took it easy on the dismounts but I could still feel a twinge in the ACL in my right knee. Even so, I had no knee pain after the race or for the rest of the day so I'm both relieved and pleased.

The course was very different than two weeks ago. With all the twisty turns in the trees marked with red tape it was worth your while to go through it a couple of times to get the layout down. Even so, if you allowed your mind to wander for even a moment (guilty) you'd find yourself putting the binders on and frantically looking for the direction you're supposed to go. I think it's a given that you are supposed to focus, right? Even with my moment of day dreaming the course was just as fun as it was challenging.

I shot video of the first three races and here's the compilation of that. The picture quality is disappointing. If I ever win the lottery I'll get a camera that shoots HD.



I took stills of the last race, men category 1-3 and men collegiate.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Spokane March

Knowing Spokane, I figured there wouldn't be that many people showing up for the march today. I was surprised. My guess is that at least a thousand showed up. The group was a mix of all ages and all walks of life. Click the photos to embiggen them.

A sense of humor is always appreciated.

And the march would not be complete without the obligatory DFH to satisfy some people's stereotypes.

Now That's Customer Service

I was looking for businesses who convert VHS and film to digital format and found a site I could not navigate. Down at the bottom of the page I found this notice.

Created with Microsoft Publisher 2007 and Vista and optimized for the IE9 browser, with which it works perfectly.

If some pages look strange with other browsers we are sorry but we have no clue how to fix it.

We have been told that none of our links work when you are using some versions of Firefox, and we have no clue how to fix that either.

For Firefox users: Phone (number removed by me) or email (email address removed by me) and we will try to answer your questions until you can download an improved browser that is compatible with the new industry standard IE9.

I'm using Firefox on a Mac. No specific browser is considered the industry standard. Whether the arrogance is intentional or not, right back atcha Mr More Clueless Than You Know.

Friday, October 14, 2011

No Phone Left Behind

I got on the elevator at work with two other gentlemen. As the doors closed we heard a phone ringing and it sounded like it was coming from the top of the elevator. We looked around in puzzlement. The car made its first stop and one guy got off. The phone stopped ringing and now we could hear a muffled voice speaking in the ceiling.

More puzzlement.

The second guy got off on his floor and the car went to mine. I could still hear the muffled voice. Even though it sounded like it was coming from the top of the elevator, I thought I'd open the small door labeled "Phone". I did so just in time to hear, "...for more information go to www dot...".

What the heck? The elevator phone got robo-called by a telemarketer.

Giant 1, GM 0

Betty White...

...is still smokin' hot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

She Makes It Look So Easy

This afternoon Steph finished 5k in 26:41.

Occupy Spokane - Getting It Together

Standing on the triangle-shaped island at Monroe and Riverside, Dennis Smith waves at traffic and greets everyone who walks by. "Good day, ladies," he says to a pair of women wearing sweats passing by on a power walk. Dennis started participating in Occupy Spokane eight days ago. He is there because he's tired of Wall Street's influence on the government. He's tired of the Koch brothers buying political influence. And he says Cathy McMorris Rodgers only does what John Boehner tells her to and follows the party line and does not represent the people in her district.

Dennis Smith holds a "People Before Profits" sign as he waves to passing traffic.

There has been a change of personnel at Occupy Spokane. The people who started it two weeks ago have moved on. Today I spoke with three of those who have joined after seeing it on the news. They all articulated a common complaint of monied interests swaying legislators and the disproportional benefit they reap from that influence and at the expense of the vast majority of people.

A march is planned for this Saturday.


Tim Walsh, holding the Financial Fraud sign, joined the protest last Thursday. He says the repeal of the protections offer by the Glass-Steagall Act helped set up the financial crash in 2007.

At the corner of Spokane Falls Blvd and Monroe, there's a poem by Sherman Alexie engraved in a spiral laid in granite. "The Places Where Ghosts of Salmon Jump" now serves as the volunteer center for Occupy Spokane. A young woman named Pippie--she asked to leave her last name out--joined Occupy Spokane twelve days ago and helped arranged this with the Spokane Library under the condition that it not be used as a shelter. Pippy says she's been homeless most of her life and thought she'd bring her cooking talents to the group. She works with the Hippy Family Ministries doing a free food kitchen. She said both the city health and fire departments had stopped by to inspect them and they're complying with the city requirements. As of today they are not allowed to heat water for tea or coffee since they don't have insurance should there be an accident with a propane tank. Pippie says a couple of volunteers who live nearby have agreed to provide hot water. She also said that when the group is unable to use donated food, they in turn pass those on to other charitable organizations so it won't go to waste.

So what do people think about the Occupy movement? While I was talking to Dennis an unmarked police car with two uniformed officers drove by. The officer in the passenger seat gave a discreet wave. Passing traffic sounds a horn now and then. Since nothing "newsworthy" has happened, notwithstanding the protester who got hit by a car last night, there's been very little about the protest in the local news. I'm aware of two Facebook groups. There's Occupy Spokane Uncensored, a group of 700+ that you have to ask to join, and there's Occupy Spokane with 3600+ likes. So there appears to be what could be considered sizable support in Spokane.

Surprisingly, even though the Fox News coverage of Occupy Wall Street has been derogatory, a Fox News poll shows that most people have a favorable view of it.

Dennis Smith also had this to say. "We need more 'mom and pop' people down here."

I think he hits the nail square on the head. Everybody has been affected by the recession in some form or fashion. You don't have to be unemployed to be angry and you don't have to default on your mortgage to see the unfairness. City Councilman Jon Snyder stopped by last week and chatted with one of the protesters. In his post he said he told her he would love to see the list of concerns once they have it together. I've known Jon for a while and he is a good person. But what he--and you and I for that matter--need to realize is that "they" includes him...and me...and you. What Dennis calls "mom and pop" people are the good-hearted, hard working folks who know that life is unfair, but also chafe at an unlevel playing field forced upon them. Feeling alienated and powerless, they have withdrawn.

A few in Spokane have found their voice. They stand on the side of the road holding a sign for two hours. Or twelve. They donate food. They help clean up. They pay for printing notices. They do what they can. This leaderless movement in Spokane already has it together. It's just patiently waiting for everyone else to join them.

So what are you doing on Saturday at noon?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Home, Home On The Range

Fortunately, I haven't seen this kind of wildlife issue at the cyclocross races.

Paralyzed And Dysfunctional

In today's Spokesman Review we learn that the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee is paralyzed.

After weeks of secret meetings, the 12-member deficit-cutting panel established under last summer’s budget and debt deal appears no closer to a breakthrough than when talks began last month.

...

The reason? A familiar deadlock over taxes and cuts to major programs like Medicare and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled.


This should not come as a surprise to anyone. As I pointed out before, every Republican party member of the committee has signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge stating they would not raise taxes. Plus, Speaker Boehner made it plainly clear when he said, "Tax increases, however, are not a viable option for the joint committee."

Is it reasonable to expect anything other than a paralyzed committee? I direct your attention to the acceptance speech Robert Gates delivered when he was awarded the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center a couple weeks ago. In it he expressed his concerns and makes some excellent observations about the political environment and how it has changed over his 45 years of government service.

I do believe that we are now in uncharted waters when it comes to the dysfunction in our political system—and it is no longer a joking matter. It appears that as a result of several long-building, polarizing trends in American politics and culture, we have lost the ability to execute even the basic functions of government, much less solve the most difficult and divisive problems facing the country.

Thus, I am more concerned than I have ever been about the state of American governance.


He continues with his reasons and examples. It's not a lengthy speech, but there's too much to copy here so go check it out for yourself. There is one point pertinent to this post about the paralyzed Joint Deficit Reduction Committee.

As a result of these and other polarizing factors, the moderate center—the foundation of our political system and our stability—is not holding. Just at a time when this country needs more continuity, more bipartisanship, and more compromise to deal with our most serious problems, all the trends are pointing in the opposite direction.

Indeed, “compromise” has become a dirty word—too often synonymous with a lack of principles or “selling out.” Yet, our entire system of government has depended upon compromise.


Going back to the Review article and the consequences if the committee is unable to agree on a budget plan.

...failure to produce a measure would trigger painful across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon budget and a big slice of domestic programs, including Medicare, food stamps and Medicaid. The idea behind this so-called sequester was to force the two sides to come together because the alternative is too painful.

“I made it clear to the Republican members of the supercommittee that I expect there will be an outcome, that there has to be an outcome,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday.


Note that "an outcome" is pretty ambiguous and there's going to be one regardless. But if tax increases are off the table, it's going to be the ugliest one.

A more optimistic scenario is that in coming days and weeks, members of the panel will become more flexible as the deadline nears.

Since we had a committee that was deadlocked before it was even created, anything is considered a more optimistic scenario.

Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yesterday's Cyclocross Racing

Whoever told me the course in Moscow is fun was right. Twisty turns combined with short climbs and descents, short rolling bumps, and even stairs to run up. During a practice run I endoed on the short climb with the sharp left turn and somehow hooked the small strap on the back of my shoes onto a brake lever. It's difficult to stand up and move out of the way with a bike attached to your foot. I did back-to-back races again and I think that's enough of that. Tweaking my knee in the second race didn't help any.

There's one issue I really need to work on and it contributed to my knee tweak. When it's time to get off the bike for a run through or run up, I'm coming in too hot. I don't feel like I am, but I am. If I slow down some I'm smoother and more comfortable. And there's the rub--I'm having a tough time figuring out I need to slow down because I don't think I'm going that fast. Hopefully, my knee is okay for next weekend.

Here's a video I made of yesterday's racing.



*** Update

I should also mention the other lesson I learned yesterday. When the route begins with a wide path for about 100 yards and then becomes a 100-yard single track followed by a very short and sharp S-turn with short and steep inclines, you want to get out in front of as many people as you can during those first 100 yards. Otherwise, the bunching up that happens when everyone slows for the S-turn--we were literally running into each other--sets you even further back from the front runners if you're in the back of that mess.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

We Mock What We Do Not Understand

Charles Krauthammer never fails to disappoint me when it comes to spouting nonsense. But today's column in the Review is especially puzzling.

Writing about the news that neutrinos may travel faster than light, he notes:

The implications of such a discovery are so mind-boggling, however, that these same scientists immediately requested that other labs around the world try to replicate the experiment. Something must have been wrong to account for a result that, if we know anything about the universe, is impossible.

Actually, scientists making new discoveries always have their work double checked. Being able to find any errors and/or reproduce the results is a hugely important part of science.

He blathers on as to the implications of this discovery.

It means that the “standard model” of subatomic particles that stands at the center of all modern physics is wrong.

Nor does it stop there. This will not just overthrow physics. Astronomy and cosmology measure time and distance in the universe on the assumption of light speed as the cosmic limit. Their foundations will shake as well.

It cannot be. Yet, this is not a couple of guys in a garage peddling cold fusion. This is no crank wheeling a perpetual motion machine into the patent office. These are the best researchers in the world using the finest measuring instruments, having subjected their data to the highest levels of scrutiny, including six months of cross-checking by 160 scientists from 11 countries.

But there must be some error. Because otherwise everything changes. We shall need a new physics. A new cosmology. New understandings of past and future, of cause and effect. Then shortly and surely, new theologies.


I'm not getting this. Does he have a point?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Now You Know How The System Works


A hat tip to my Aunt Judith for sending me this.

Little Miss OCD

You can always tell when Steph puts the dishes and silverware away.

Of course, looking at her room (no embarrassing photo provided) you'd think it was a totally different person living there.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What We've Become

Prospective Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry says he is open to sending the U.S. military to Mexico to help fight the drug cartels.

“It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border and to destroy their network,” Mr. Perry said during a campaign appearance here.

“I don’t know all the different scenarios that would be out there,” he said. “But I think it is very important for us to work with them to keep that country from failing.”


This is the same type of thinking that pushed us over the moral edge when we decided to declare a Global War on Terrorism and use the military to fight it. The war was not against a state, but against a small organization whose members were out in the global hinterlands. The enemy in this war became so conflated and the definition of a terrorist so expansive that Congress has to pass a bill that declared Nelson Mandela wasn't a terrorist so he could travel to the United States.

Our military has been involved in Afghanistan for ten years. We helped overthrow the Taliban and installed a government that cannot exist without our continued presence. We used to drop bombs and shoot cruise missiles. Technological advances have given us the ability to use remote controlled aircraft to stay over a target for a long time and then hit it with a missile.

That target, as we witnessed recently, can even be an American citizen, a decision cleared by U.S. government lawyers. And how hard can that be these days? During the Bush Administration John Yoo said the President's constitutional authority was broad enough to order the massacre of a village. He also helped provide legal justification for "enhanced interrogation techniques", better known in other circles as torture. So clearing the extrajudicial killing of Anwar Awlaki via a remote controlled aircraft launching a missile shouldn't be hard to do. And as you can see from many of the comments on any articles about this, most people don't consider the violation of his constitutional rights to be an issue. And many that do think that killing a terrorist is worth trumping the law. Instead, celebrate that we killed another terrorist.

Photos From Yesterday's Races


Cyclocross Racing - Riverside State Park



John was kind enough to take photos with my camera while I was racing and I snapped a few before and after. It's great to see all ages and skill levels out there giving it all.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Race Season Has Begun

I woke up this morning, looked outside and saw that it had rained. Whoo-hoo! The first cyclocross race of the season was today and I was looking forward to splashing through puddles and getting muddy. I got to Riverside State Park and it was bone dry. The rain missed it. Bummer, but not the end of the world.

Scouting out the course I found it was not completely without hazards.

I signed up for two races, the Men's Masters 50+ and the Men's Cat 4. They were scheduled back to back so I figured (quite correctly) I'd be very tired at the end of the day. The Master's race did not go well for me. I was obviously rusty. I felt like I couldn't do anything right. My turns were too wide. I wasn't raising off the saddle on the dips and bumps. I could dismount just fine on the approach to the barrier and run-up, but I couldn't get the bike off the ground in time. One time I slammed it into the board hard enough to knock the chain off. That cost me some time putting it back on once I got to the top.

With the track being so dry, the sandy turns could be tricky as this young lady learned. I did the same thing on another turn.

The race leaders caught me about halfway through my fifth lap. So I got to complete five and I was beginning to regret signing up for a second race. I drank some sport drink and chilled for a few minutes. At least I was warmed up for the race. Since my front tire was slipping in the sandy turns I thought I'd bleed some air to see if that improved the traction. Besides, everybody knows you look more like a pro at the start line if you lean down, spritz a little air from your tire and then give it a squeeze, right?

The second race went much better. I focused on technique during the turns, over the bumpy terrain, and picking up the bike for the run-up.

Doing much better this time around.
(All photos of me by John Speare.)

On the fifth lap I assumed that, like the first race, the race leaders would catch me and I'd be done. But the cyclocross gods had other plans. My race goal is to complete as much of the course I can before I get caught by the leaders. As luck would have it, the leaders caught everyone behind me--was anyone behind me? But I arrived at the finish line where the race official informed me I had one more lap to go. Yeah--one of those "be careful what you wish for" scenarios.

Really wishing this was over.
(No, I am not track standing.)

I continued on the course feeling all alone. Anyone ahead of me was well ahead. Any riders behind me were now finished. My eleventh run-up went without a hitch, but took a little longer.

The spring in my step was now a trudge.

Kudos to Emde Sports for putting on a first rate race. It was a lot of fun.