Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Small brain teaser

I posted a small teaser on my math blog but I'll reproduce it here:
last night, my wife noticed that when she turns 64 next July, I'll still be 46 for a couple of months. (yes, she is older than I, and no, the are not "so grateful"!)

Anyway, she noticed that the digits in our ages will be transposed and she wondered if/when it would happen again.
  1. Will it happen again (assuming the necessary longetivity) and did it happen before?
  2. What is the reason for this particular pattern? What is going on?

As far as my reference, you might enjoy reading what Ben Franklin had to say about older women. Source:

Franklin had a friend who did not want to get married, but was battling with urges and lustful inclinations for the opposite sex. In the letter which follows, Franklin first advises the friend that the best solution for his urges is marriage. However, since he knows the friend will not take that advice, Franklin goes on to suggest that his friend have sexual affairs with old women. We know from the context that he is suggesting women over 45 years of age (see #3). His words about putting a basket over her head or turning out the light (see #5) illustrate an aspect of Franklin's character which is seldom exposed.

June 25, 1745
My dear Friend,
I know of no Medicine fit to diminish the violent natural Inclinations you mention; and if I did, I think I should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness. You Reasons against entering into it at present, appear to me not well-founded. The circumstantial Advantages you have in View by postponing it, are not only uncertain, by they are small in comparison with that of the Thing itself, the being married and settled. It is the Man and Woman united that make the compleat human Being. Separate, she wants his Force of Body and Strength of Reason; he, her Softness, Sensibility and acute Discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the World. A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd half of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good Oeconomy, will be a Fortune sufficient.
But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these:
1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor'd with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable.
2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, the study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Dimunition of Beauty by the Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.
3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc'd may be attended with much Inconvenience.
4. Because thro' more Experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting and Intrigue to prevent Suspicion. The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin'd to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.
5. Because in every animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: the Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an Old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.
6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching of a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy.
7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy.
8. They are so grateful!!
Thus much for my Paradox. But still I advise you to marry directly; being sincerely Your affectionate Friend,
Benjamin Franklin.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

No comment (Dinette Set Cartoon)

A central Illinois woman named Julie Larson writes a cartoon called The Dinette Set. It pokes fun at life in suburban America. It is probably my favorite cartoon; it really gets me to laugh at myself.

Today's strip really hits home.
Perhaps I am laughing at others when I laugh at this strip. But, there is a larger point here (pardon the pun).

Anything that we can do that encourages people to maintain a healthy lifestyle is well worth doing. For those of us who are already fit, we can do things like the following:
  1. Teach an exercise class at the park district (or get certified to teach a class)
  2. Take an exercise class at the local park district.
  3. Help out new runners, walkers, swimmers or cyclists though programs offered by local clubs.
  4. Offer a smile and/or encouragement to those who are new to a sport.
  5. Support government programs to build and maintain parks, bike paths, trails and the like.

There are many cool people who are cutting their lifespans short due to underactivitiy and obesity. Let's do all we can to encourage those folks to take care of themselves.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Get off that Segway!!!!!!!!!

On today's TV news I saw an article about Segway touring of Washington D. C. The gist of the piece was that walking in D. C.'s heat and humidity is, uh, a bit too hot and sweaty for the general public.
Nonsense! Keep in mind, I am talking to those who are middle aged or younger, and to those who don't have a debilitating health condition (e. g., no weak hearts, no severe arthritis, or other injuries).
Come on. America is getting fatter and running lower on energy. And we are giving up walking to take Segways!!!!

First, let us blow those excuses out of the water. One doesn't have to be a good athlete in order to walk. And, even when I weighed upwards of 300 pounds, I could still walk up to 8 miles at a time. But, I knew what to do to make a walk relatively pleasant. So what should the aspiring tourist do, provided they want to get back on their feet?
  1. Prepare for the vacation by getting in shape. A simple walking program starting with 15-30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is a good start. Work up to making at least one of the walks to 90 minutes.
  2. Buy good shoes; make sure they are wide enough in the toe box and fit your heels. Hiking shoes, walking shoes, or sturdy running shoes would fit the bill nicely.
  3. Good socks are a real help; you might look into light hiking socks or running socks. Thin cool-max socks tend to work well.
  4. Keep your toenails trimmed!!!! Untrimmed toenails can lead to unhappy feet.
  5. Buy a fanny pack that has bottle holders; these don't have to be that expensive.
  6. When starting your walking tour, be sure to carry a small jar of lubricant (e. g., vasaline) in a ziploc bag, as well as a small bottle of your favorite pain reliever (Tylenol, aspirin, etc.) in your fanny pack.

Then enjoy the walk! Feel free to feel superior to all of those wussies who are using the segways. (I am joking...sort of).

General Clark's sensible plan for Iraq

First, to my brothers and sisters in Lousiana: my heart goes out to you. Here is a pledge to open my wallet when it is time to do so.

Now to Iraq:

I've reprinted General Clark's 3 part plan for success in Iraq. I have reservations though.
For one, I doubt that this administration will put the necessary resouses to "make it right". So, I am one of those who think that we ought to cut and run right now!

Yes, we shouldn't have invaded Iraq to begin with (I've been anti-war from the start) but we did. So, since we can't turn back the clock, we should either clean up our mess and do it right, or get the heck out.

I've followed the sad debate among those who lost sons, daughters and spouses in Iraq. I know that Cindy Sheehan doesn't speak for all. But, I wonder: are those who have lost loved ones in Iraq yet still support the war in deep denial? After all, who among us could face the fact that one who is so precious to us died for no good reason at all? The very soul rebells at such a thought.

General Clark's article and source:

By Gen. (ret.) Wesley ClarkWashington PostUnabridged VersionAugust 26, 2005
In the old, familiar fashion, mounting US casualties in Iraq have mobilized increasing public doubts about the war. Now, more than half the American people believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. They're right. But it would also be a mistake now to pull out, start pulling out, or set a date to pull out. Instead we need a strategy to create a stable democratizing and peaceful state in Iraq – a strategy the Administration has failed to develop and articulate.
From the outset of the American post-invasion efforts, we needed a three-pronged strategy – diplomatic, political, and military. Iraq sits geographically on the fault-line between Shia and Sunni Islam – and for the mission to succeed we will have to be the catalyst for regional cooperation. Iraq cannot be "isolated from its neighbors and tensions in the region. We needed to engage Iraq's neighbors to insure that a stable, democratizing Iraq was not a threat to them, to isolate Iraq from outside supplies, leadership, and manpower, and to gain from them resources and support to alleviate the burdens on the US.

Unfortunately, the Administration didn't see the need for a diplomatic track. Its scattershot diplomacy in the region – threatening some of Iraq's neighbors with a variety of economic and diplomatic measures and allusions to further military action, expounding aims in the region that sound grandiose, and to many of those who live there, naïve and even somewhat imperialistic, failing to reinforce the US efforts with more culturally and linguistically capable regional allies, and turning away other assistance which might have made US leadership less obtrusive – have been ill-advised and counterproductive. The diplomatic failure magnified the difficulties facing the political and military elements of US strategy by contributing to the increasing infiltration of jihadists, the surprisingly resilient support of the insurgency, and the underlying political difficulties of bringing together representative Iraqi elements.

On the political track, aiming for a legitimate, democratic Iraqi government was essential, but the US was far too slow in mobilizing Iraqi political action. A wasted first year encouraged a rise in sectarian militias and the emergence of strong fractionating forces. And even within the last year, as John Negroponte moved to Washington, months went by without an American Ambassador in Iraq. Today, political development among the Iraqis is hampered not only by the lack of security but also by American efforts to promote the establishment of a democracy without adequate development of the underlying social and cultural prerequisites, such as security and an infrastructure program that can reliably deliver gas, electricity and jobs.
Meanwhile, on the military track, security on the ground is poor, not only in terms of suicide bombing but more importantly, in terms of protection of life and property for ordinary Iraqis. The US armed forces still haven't received the resources, restructuring and guidance adequate for the magnitude of the task. Why, in June, 2005, over two year into the mission of training Iraqi forces, was the President announcing such "new steps" as partnering with Iraqi units, establishing "transition teams" to work with Iraqi units, or training Iraqi Ministries to conduct anti-terrorist operations? There's nothing new about any of this – just standard nation-building doctrine which we used in Vietnam. Where are the thousands of trained linguists that we need? Where are the flexible, well-resourced, military-led infrastructure development programs to win "hearts and minds?" Where are the smart operations and adequate numbers of forces – US, coalition, or Iraqi –to strengthen control over the borders?

With each passing month other intervening factors compound the difficulties and probably reduce the chances for the mission in Iraq to succeed. The election of an Iranian hardliner makes dialogue with Iran more difficult. Ineffective dealings with Syria probably reduces Assad's leverage in controlling jihadist infiltration into Iraq. Fractionating forces within Iraq have grown stronger, and Iraq's economic infrastructure more fragile. Iraqi patience is wearing thin amidst the continuing violence and hardship in Baghdad. And the apparently growing flow of jihadists in and out of Iraq not only testifies to an increasingly sophisticated insurgency but also a new source of training journeymen to fight against us in the global war on terror. So urgent modification of the strategy is required, before it is too late to do anything other than withdraw.

Adding a diplomatic track to the strategy is a must. The US should form a standing conference of Iraq's neighbors, complete with committees dealing with all the regional economic and political issues, including trade, travel, cross-border infrastructure projects, and, of course, cutting off the infiltration of jihadists. Iraq's neighbors should be asked to assist. This will also provide a better opportunity for meaningful back-door discussions of Iran's nuclear program, Syria's interests in Lebanon, and Turkish interaction with the Kurds in Iraq. The US should tone down its raw rhetoric for US-style democracy as an answer to all problems and instead listen more carefully to the many voices within the region. A public US declaration forswearing permanent bases in Iraq would also be helpful in engaging both regional and Iraqi support at this point.

On the political side, the timeline for the agreements on the Constitution are less important than the substance. It is up to American leadership to help engineer a compromise that will avoid the "red lines" of the respective factions and leave in place a state that both we and the neighbors can support. So, no Kurdish vote on independence; a restricted role for Islam, and limited autonomy in the south. And no private militias.

In addition, the US needs a legal mandate from the government to provide additional civil assistance and advice - along with additional US civilian personnel aimed at strengthening the institutions of government. Three month in-country tours should be replaced by a minimum two year stay for civilian advisors and technical experts. Key ministries must be reinforced, provincial governments made functional, a system of justice trained and established, and the rule of law promoted at the local levels. With the majority of Iraqis having known no other leader than Saddam Hussein, there will be a continuing need for assistance in institutional development, leadership training, and international monitoring for years to come, and all of this must be made palatable to Iraqi sovereignty. Hand-in-glove are the requirements for infrastructure repair, job creation, and economic development without which no government will be safe from an insurgent force. Monies promised for reconstruction simply must be committed and projects moved forward, especially in those areas along the border and where the insurgency has the greatest potential.

On the military side, the vast effort underway to train an Army must be matched by efforts to train police and local justices. Countries as far away as Canada, France and Germany should be engaged to assist. Gulf states should also provide observers and technical assistance. In military terms, striking at insurgents is necessary but insufficient – instead, military and security operations must return primarily to the tried and true methods of counterinsurgency – winning the hearts and minds of the populace through civic action, small scale economic development, and positive daily interactions. Ten thousand Arab Americans with full language proficiency should be recruited to assist as interpreters. A more successful effort must be made to control jihadist infiltration into the country by a combination of outposts, patrols, and reaction forces reinforced by high technology means. Over time, American forces should be pulled back into reserve roles and phased out.

The growing chorus of voices demanding a pull-out should seriously alarm the Bush Administration. For President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam – failing to craft a realistic and effective policy, and in its place, simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve alone isn't enough to mend a flawed approach. If the Administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that the Administration bring our troops home.

Leanhorse: one week later

Post race recovery was easy, except for my feet. I slept a lot, went to work, and did little else. For the first few days, even walking slowly was a real chore.

Now, the extra skin on my heels is all gone, 5 toenails are gone with at least 2 more on their way out, but most importantly I can walk/run pain free, provided I use some tape and tuff-skin on my heels.

So, this morning I was able to jog 5 miles (5.3 actually) at roughly a 9:30 mpm pace with no pain. It is now time to gradually ease into training; the training vacation is over.

As far as politics, I'll post some on Wes Clark's sensible Iraq policy a bit later.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Issues that matter: Democrats and being the "party of the grasshoppers"

I've spent time trying to figure out why we have such a negative image among those we would help. My guess is that one perception of us is that we are the party of "the grasshoppers" (from the "Ant and Grasshopper" Aesop fable; this is the one where the ant works hard to build up supplies for the winter whereas the grasshopper just plays all summer long and expects the ant to help him out during the winter).

Well, consider the following letter to the editor from our local paper, the Peoria Journal Star: source.

Can't pay medical bills earning $9 an hour

Saturday, August 27, 2005

As I read a recent article on welfare, I got to wondering what the guidelines are to be "working poor." Does anyone care to explain these two words to me?

I work full-time now, making $9 an hour. Even though this is pretty good pay compared to what most jobs offer, I have absolutely no medical coverage or benefits. Recently I applied for medical assistance and was turned down quite quickly. I guess that means I am not considered "working poor."

My biggest dilemma with being turned down is how I am going to pay the mounting medical bills I am amassing. According to the Department of Human Services, my medical bills are not large enough to acquire a medical card.

Fine, then tell me, how do I pay for the six weeks of radiation I am getting ready to go through? How do I pay for the neurologist, neurosurgeon, radiologist, hospital, MRI, family doctor, medicines and rental of my oxygen and autopap machines? Oh, and the rent, food, vehicle . . . you get the picture.

I just hope none of these caseworkers ever gets to deal with a brain tumor. It really is a bit of a problem and not easy to afford. Since I have not been at my job for a year, I don't qualify for family medical leave or vacation time.

I have an appointment with Social Security. Wish me luck, not sure how it will go, hopefully better than at DHS.

Ruth Tinkham


So, there you have it. We have people who work or want to work but are just at the mercy of what amounts to a cruel, uncaring system.

This type of situation should be unacceptable. We should make it clear that we are on the side of people like this and that the GOP's typical response is "oh, that's too bad; let her get free emergency room care when she is really sick" is immoral.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hear no Evil!

Evidently President Bush is not the only one that doesn't want to be told unpleasant truths.

An obese woman is complaining about her doctor telling her that she was fat and that her fat was bad for her health: Fat Woman Offended

The article starts:

"ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - As doctors warn more patients that they should lose weight, the advice has backfired on one doctor with a woman filing a complaint with the state saying he was hurtful, not helpful.

Dr. Terry Bennett says he tells obese patients their weight is bad for their health and their love lives, but the lecture drove one patient to complain to the state.

"I told a fat woman she was obese," Bennett says. "I tried to get her attention. I told her, 'You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.

' "

He says he wrote a letter of apology to the woman when he found out she was offended.

Her complaint, filed about a year ago, was initially investigated by a panel of the New Hampshire Board of Medicine, which recommended that Bennett be sent a confidential letter of concern. The board rejected the suggestion in December and asked the attorney general's office to investigate.

Bennett rejected that office's proposal that he attend a medical education course and acknowledge that he made a mistake."

The article then continues:

"Other overweight patients have come to Bennett's defense.

"What really makes me angry is he told the truth," Mindy Haney told WMUR-TV on Tuesday. "How can you punish somebody for that?"

Haney said Bennett has helped her lose more than 150 pounds, but acknowledged that she initially didn't want to listen.

"I have been in this lady's shoes. I've been angry and left his practice. I mean, in-my-car-taking-off angry," Haney said. "But once you think about it, you're angry at yourself, not Doctor Bennett. He's the messenger. He's telling you what you already know.""

Listen, I've been there. I've been morbidly obese, and I know the pain of being told that my fat was damaging to my health. But my goodness, are we reaching the point where doctors will be tempted to do their patients a disservice by not telling them unpleasant truths???

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Lean Horse Race Report: excellent event, pathetic performance

This past weekend I did the Leanhorse 100 mile race in South Dakota. Since I am a walker, I walked 100 percent of this race. In short: my previous PR's for the 100 mile walk were 23:40 (track, Cornbelt 24 hour 2004) and 34:16 trail (McNaughton 2005). This time I hit 50K in 7:42, 50 miles in 12:50, 85 miles in 23:59:50 (or I had an 85 mile 24 hour performance) and finished the race in 29:34. Four runners passed me between miles 98 and 98.5 and finished in my sight, and yet another finished about 30 seconds behind me. The cut-off was 30 hours.
My lessons: I made two major mistakes. The first mistake is that I forgot my trail gaiters (these are coverings that drape over your shoes to prevent rocks from getting into your shoes. Not only did I have to stop several times to take rocks out of my shoes, but the smaller, finer pieces of grit stayed in my socks and gave me huge heel blisters. My left heel was literally covered by one gigantic blister, and I had a tennis-ball size blister on the outside of my right heel.
The second major mistake is that I didn't trim the spenco pad on my foot orthotic properly. Hence the spenco bunched up in the front of my shoes and continually pounded my small toes. Therefore I lost several nails (impacted) and my toes ended up being a bloody mess.
If there was any good to be had from this it was that my body held up well (i. e., I was properly trained and tapered) and my legs (aside from my feet) were not sore the day after.
So, though my finish time was lousy and my last 15 miles were truly pathetic, I found that I could overcome mistakes. Of course, part of this was due to the easy surface; in the last 40 miles I yelped every time my foot made an unplanned landing on a rock that was larger than a pebble. This reminded me a bit of the fairy tell about the Princess and the Pea.
This report is organized as follows:
  • Event Details
  • My Race
  • Lessons Learned
  • Social Report

Event Details:

See the above chart; the surface was 98 miles of groomed crushed limestone trail, and 2 miles of sidewalk through a small town (mile 43.5 to 44.5 on the way out, and 55.5 to 56.5 on the way back). The photo shows the typical surface. There were several aid stations (12, which means that the 100 milers saw 24 aid stops) as well as 4 different drop bag points. The volunteers were outstanding!
Oddly enough, the relatively smaller uphills on the way back were more difficult than I anticipated. The last two inclines (roughly 5 miles in length) seemed to go on forever, though they weren't all that steep.
The trail had markers every mile and we started at mile 16.2. The race director put Leanhorse signs every 5 miles (to account for the .2 mile discrepancy). We turned around at mile marker 66 (which was certified to be 50 miles from the start.)
The surface started off as pinkish, small pebble limestone gravel, and changed slightly as the course went on. There was a stretch where the surface was black, and yet another stretch that contained lots of glittering mica. This was downright eerie when one passed over it at night and was wearing a lamp; though perhaps the faster runners (or those doing the 50K or 50 mile) didn't get to see this effect. There were some stretches where one could see the rose quartz rocks (the State Rock of South Dakota).
Some of the course, but not much, was shaded and the daytime temperatures got into the mid 80's. The nighttime saw a full moon, clear starry skies, and a pleasant mid to high 50's.
We were bussed from Hot Springs to the Mickleson Trail. The 50K types started 1.5 miles behind where the 50 and 100 mile people started. The trail was plenty wide enough to handle the crowd of 100-120 that started the 50 or the 100.
There were farm animals on the sides of the trail in some stretches. I also saw a couple of small snakes, chipmunks, a rabbit and a raccoon. There was also a mountain lion which I (fortunately?) did not see, though the runner ahead of me did.
In summary, this course was not a particularly slow course, but I didn't think that it was easy either. Though it might seem as if the return leg for the 100 would be easy, those long, long (albeit gradual) inclines seemed to go on forever.
My Race
I fell into a very moderate pace and did some chatting. I talked to a runner from Georgia (who was to get away) and to Joe Galloway (who was to get me later). I noticed that the "push-off" motion of walking had a bit of slippage and that I was already getting rocks in the shoes! Still mile 5 came at 1:11. The next several miles were uneventful; I more or less just enjoyed the scenery and kept stopping to take the rocks out of my shoes. My previously sore knee gave me no trouble at all.
My first hint of trouble was at around mile 36; here my left heel felt "hot". I stopped at this aid station, lubed my heel and decided to switch from my "ninga" socks to thicker trail socks; this helped to keep the rocks out of my shoes. But the extra thickness, plus the bunching up of the toe part of my spenco orthotic pad was to cause me grief later. It was at this spot where the first runners were on their way back!
I was starting to get a bit crankier and my aid station stops were slowing my pace, though my actual walking pace stayed at around the 15 minutes/mile range (9:20 min/km). I had survived the 1400 foot climb from the start was was taking advantage of the downhill. Also, I enjoyed seeing the Crazy Horse Monument and was catching up to some of the 50 mile runners who were burning out or getting sick.
Eventually, I saw the outskirts of Hill City and moved along the sidewalk. I welcomed the reprieve from the rocks and was grateful to have volunteers escort me across a sort of busy street. There, I rested a few minutes and got some moleskin from a 50 mile runner who had finished for my right heel. The moleskin worked, but a blister outside of the region formed!
The out and back (stiff uphill) was challenging, but I was on track to be under 13 hours at the half. I saw some other souls who were still out there and felt kind of sorry for them. I shouldn't have, as 4 of them were to pass me much, much later.
On the way back I was told that there had been a mountain lion by the trail at about the time I passed by. I didn't notice; I guess I stank too badly for it to find me appetizing!
It was starting to get dark now and I needed my headlights once I got out of Hill City. The lights seemed to do the job, but I had slowed. My five mile segment times (which included aid station stops) had climbed from the mid 1:20's to the 1:30's; still that was enough to get me under 28 hours if I could hold on. That was to be a big "if".
Miles 55 to 75 were horrible; it took me 6:42 to do this stretch! I mentally broke during some of the long climbs and my feet were killing me. Tylnelol helped. I didn't know how bad off my toes were; what hurt were mostly my heels. That lead me to make a more forefoot type landing instead of my usual "heel-toe".
But, I began to get a bit more confident as I found myself arriving at aid stations just when Uli Kamm (an excellent ultrawalker) was leaving; evidently I wasn't doing that poorly. And, the cool night air helped some. So 75 to 85 took me 3:01; normally slow but not that bad for that deep into a 100 mile event. And it felt good to reach 85 miles at just under 24 hours; that is my 3'rd best 24 hour performance.
Climbing up the hill to get to 85 in under 24 hours took something out of me; folks that I was chasing began to get away and I got very wobbly. I was having trouble keeping food down; I was out of the dried pineapple that sustained me for the first half of the race and was spitting up my cheese and crackers.
I got to the aid station at 88.2 and was completely whipped. I could barely stand and I gave some thought to dropping; but the aid station people encouraged me to stick with it!
So, after soup and fruit I got to mile 90 in 25:53; that last five miles took me 1:53 to do and would be my slowest 5 mile segment of the race.
The last part didn't include much climbing and I picked up company for a short while at around 95 miles. The aid station person at mile 92 was also very kind and encouraging!!! I'd like to thank ALL of the aid station volunteers, and especially those at 88 and at 92. That sure helped a great deal.
My last 5 miles were in the "just get it over with" mode. Something funny happened when I got to mile 98. Joe Galloway caught me and passed me! We were minutes apart at McNaughton earlier this year, and were destined to be minutes apart yet again. Then with 1.8 miles to go, a string of 3 runners passed me, and every one of them was leaning over to their left!!!! It appeared as if they were mimicking each other! And, this other runner whom I kept leap-foregoing with was closing in on me.
Nevertheless, I kept walking for the finish line knowing that 30 minute miles would be enough and I made it. Was I ever happy that I could see the finish line when I did!
For those who want to see my 5 mile splits:
Lessons Learned
  1. Proper fitting footwear is essential. I need to trim my orthotic pads a month in advance to ensure proper fit.
  2. Trail gaiters are a must for me, given my low-to-the-ground walking style. Even small grit can lead to blisters
  3. Late in the race, I needed to keep up with the calories. I think that I had a small "bonk" at around mile 85. Dried, unsweetened fruit seems to work.
  4. Taping works; I got zero blisters on the arch/ball of my foot. Next time I need to tape my heels too.
  5. I can keep going even when I think that I can't.
  6. My training seemed to prepare me well as my legs aren't sore at all. Or perhaps they are really sore but I can't feel them due to the fact that my feet are killing me (impacted toenails). But, for me on this course, 85 walking miles in 24 hours isn't too bad (previous results were 101, 80 (track) and 88 (road 4000 meter loop course). Of course, the last 15 miles really stunk.


Socially, this trip was a success. First, I actually enjoyed the often scenic drive though South Dakota and enjoyed my very brief stay in Chamberlain, South Dakota (beautiful view of the Missouri River). Next, I met up with Mark and Janet and hung out with them. We socialized at packet pick-up, ate dinner together at the Flatiron, and got to meet CVRT'er Ron Pyle (who had a successful 50K debut run and then worked the race). I also saw others including Uli (who gave me a 29:30 race schedule) and Joe.

The next morning, I met Mark and Janet and rode the bus with Janet (Mark was shipped to a different starting point for his first ever 50K, which he did in a respectable 7:30). I teased Janet a bit, but didn't see her much after the race started. She was to win her age group with a 10:02 50 mile! (I had predicted a 10:00 for her, and, alas, a 28:00 for me).

After the race, I got a ride back to the race headquarters, picked up my buckle and drop bags and went to get a shower, some footcare and some sleep. Later, I had dinner with Mark and Janet who both got to tell me about their races.

The next day, I went with Janet and Mark to the mineral water pool (87 F) which felt great. Later I ate breakfast with some of the other runners (who finished in times from 19 hours to my 29:34) and got to meet someone who really congratulated me (named Eddie). Little did I know that Eddie was once a 2:3X marathon runner! It is amazing how humble and friendly some of the really good runners can be.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What do these states have in common?

What do these states have in common?
Nevada, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, West Virginia, Arizona and Florida.

How about these states: Nevada, New Mexico, Louisiana, Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia?

And finally: New Mexico and Iowa.

Answer: the first list of states were states that were carried at least once by the Democratic presidential candidate during the 1992, 1996, and 2000 elections but were lost in 2004.

The second list of states were carried at least twice, and the last list were carried in 2000 but not 2004.

Moral: at the national level, it is far from hopeless! Yes, we aren't going to win Utah any time soon, but many current red states are not out of reach.

A bipartisan idea: exit strategy for Iraq is needed!

Imagine my surprise when I read my digest today:

All-volunteer military imperiled by call for a draft

Doug Bandow

August 15, 2005
WASHINGTON - "Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is again pushing legislation to reintroduce a draft. He first did so in 2003 to slow the Bush administration's rush to war. Now he says conscription is necessary to provide the bodies necessary for Iraq's occupation.

Returning to a draft would ruin the world's dominant armed forces, filling its ranks with people who don't want to serve and turning military service into a divisive political issue. Yet Rangel's proposal reflects an ugly reality: The Bush administration's disastrous intervention in Iraq is weakening the U.S. military.

Both the Army and Marines are failing to meet their recruiting goals. Reservists are being treated as regular substitutes rather than emergency complements for the active forces. Only Pentagon "stop-loss" orders, which bar personnel from leaving when their terms expire, are holding some servicemen and women in uniform.

It's one thing to ask patriotic young people to die pre-empting a dangerous state seeking nuclear weapons. It's quite another thing for them to die occupying, in the name of democracy, a nation that has not yet developed the civil and social institutions so important for the emergence of a genuine liberal society.

Of course, the mere fact that attacking Iraq was a mistake - a war based on lamentably false claims about Baghdad's possession of weapons of mass destruction and criminally optimistic promises as to the ease of occupation - does not mean that America should quickly leave. But when few military leaders share the president's optimism of freedom marching forward, policies no longer can be based on more simplistic rhetoric from those who sold the war with simplistic rhetoric.
The United States can't leave tomorrow. It must begin planning to leave, however, and sooner rather than later.

First, Washington must define "success" in Iraq as a political regime that respects vital American interests, not one that represents a utopia seen only in political science textbooks. The United States should encourage development of a liberal political order in Iraq, but not make such a system an essential foreign policy goal.

Second, the United States must realistically weigh both costs and benefits. The primary benefit of the war with Iraq has been achieved: eliminating Saddam Hussein's regime.

The costs, in contrast, continue to mount. Iraq is an important recruiting tool for terrorists abroad. U.S. officials talk about the "bleed out" of terrorists back to their home countries and the West. Scores of jihadist Iraq veterans already have returned to Europe.

Patriotic young Americans are being killed, maimed, and wounded daily. The United States is spending a billion dollars a week on the war. Resources are being diverted from planning to meet future challenges."

Interestingly enough, some of the best "time to leave Iraq" writing is coming from the right!!!
Of course, this article takes the angle that our occupation of Iraq will require so many troops that we'll have to start drafting them and aruges that a draft hurts our military.

I do see one upside to a draft though: it will make chickenhawks think twice before supporting some ill concieved war.

Cross posted at:

Monday, August 15, 2005

Why I am a Democrat

Two complementary views that speak for me:

The first one is a play on something said by a member of congress a long time ago, updated for today's climate:

Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class RepublicanA TvNewsLIES Reader contribution.By John

Gray Cincinnati, Ohio - - July - 2004

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.

Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican’s would still be sitting in the dark)

He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.He turns on a radio talk show, the host’s keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) Joe agrees, “We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have”.

The Next One is a speech given my Mark Warner (Governor of Virginia) in Mississippi in 2003

I am a Democrat because the New Deal literally saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. I am a Democrat because a generation after a Democratic president started the Peace Corps, you can still find faded photographs of John F. Kennedy on the walls of homes from South Africa to South America.

In Virginia, we have had to cut $6 billion from our state budget in 16 months. That's because my predecessors cut taxes, increased spending, and assumed the go-go days of the 1990s would last forever. And this year, while we were busy trying to increase funding for public education - they wanted to eliminate the estate tax to benefit about 400 wealthy families.
But we said, when you're in a hole - the first thing you do is stop digging.
While we were launching the most extensive reform of state government in a generation they tried to kill important reform legislation just to keep me from winning a political victory.
In Washington the last couple of years, we've seen lots of talk, but few results. And we're heading in the wrong direction.
The last time we had a Democratic President, America saw the first budget surpluses in a generation.
Just three years later, the Republicans' own numbers show a future filled with deficits as far as the eye can see.
The last time we had a Democratic President, unemployment fell to record lows. But today it climbs a little higher every month.
The last time we had a Democratic President, the stock market soared. Today, it just sputters.
In 2000, America was promised something called "compassionate conservatism." And you know - that sounded familiar to a lot of us in the South. We had been saying for a long time - balance the budget, but not on the backs of working people.
But they meant something else - and all we got was more of the same.
Look at public education. Two years ago, the No Child Left Behind Act became law. It was a sweeping effort to raise academic standards, improve the quality of teaching, and close the achievement gap.
But there was no money to back it up, and current budget plans leave it almost $10 billion short.
Or look at health care. The rebuilding has begun in Iraq - and they're starting with health care.
If you listened closely after the fighting ended, you might have heard that, "In one year, the US hopes to rebuild 6,000 Iraqi schools, to repair 100 clinics and hospitals, and to provide basic universal health care to 25 million Iraqis."
That's the right thing to do in Iraq - and it's the right thing to do here at home, where more than 40 million Americans still don't have health insurance.
Or look at homeland security. You know, the images of September 11 will always remain in the minds of every American. For me - I was in the middle of a heated campaign. The polls were close, a big debate was coming up, and no one was getting enough sleep.
Our campaign office was just a few miles from the Pentagon. We all climbed up on the roof and watched the smoke rise. And none of the political battles seemed important.
Over the weeks that followed, I found myself inspired by the work of the firefighters, the police, the EMS workers in Virginia, in New York, and in Pennsylvania. They made us all proud to be Americans.
But in many ways, it seems like they have been forgotten - because we've never seen the billions that states were promised to train first responders, help prevent future attacks, and respond to emergencies.
You know, back in February, Governors from both parties met with the President and top White House officials. We shared our concerns about these issues and others.
And we were told, very politely - there simply is not any additional money at the federal level, and you should not expect any.
But the next day - we learned that the federal government had found $26 billion to entice Turkey to cooperate with the war with Iraq.
Now I support our troops and their efforts to change the regime in Iraq. But if the federal government can find the money for a worthy international goal, they should be able to find it for worthy domestic priorities as well.
That's just a snapshot of what's going on in Washington. You know, it looks like the Republicans will keep on talking a good game - and we'll keep cleaning up the mess.
But that means we have to strengthen our party - starting with the grass roots. That means strengthening local Democratic committees. It means identifying good candidates to run for office at all levels.
It means remembering that TV commercials don't win elections - but knocking on doors and meeting people one-on-one does.
It means reaching out to new voters and new Americans - and inviting them to be part of our Democratic family.
And it means having a message that reaches out to all Americans.
We did it in Virginia in 2001 - and if we can do it there, we can do it here in Mississippi, and we can do it again for America.
Virginia hasn't voted for a Democratic President since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. When I ran, the Republicans controlled both houses in the legislature and every statewide office - and the White House picked our Governor to run the Republican National Committee.
And despite those odds, we won because we built a new coalition of Virginians.
We did that by laying out a message that focused on meeting the needs of an information age economy - a message that stressed economic opportunity, educational opportunities, and fiscal responsibility.
We started with the most loyal Democrats. We said to African Americans and to working people - We know that you have been taken for granted in the past. Those days are over. You will help lead this team.
We said, we're going to bring people together - just like Governor Winter showed us how to do here in Mississippi.
And then we reached out to Virginians in rural communities - to people who hadn't voted for a Democrat in a long, long time. And we asked them to give us a chance.
In a 21st century economy, you can be successful anywhere - if you have a good education and job skills.
We talked about giving young people the chance to get a good job in the place they grew up. Because you shouldn't have to leave your family or your hometown to get ahead.
We said, Virginia will never prosper if all the good jobs are in one area, and other places get left behind.
And then we said something that a lot of people had never thought of - you can like NASCAR - you can like hunting - you can like bluegrass music - and you can still vote for a Democrat.
We did all this because we recognized that if you're going to offer people economic hope, you can't spend all your time talking about the same old social issues that have divided us for too long.
You can't move forward if every discussion is about abortion and guns.
Those are all important issues, and we can't ignore them. But they create passion that often distracts us from more fundamental issues.
And let me say it again - if we can do it in Virginia, we can do it for America.
We have to do it for America. Because America deserves better than failed fiscal policy. America deserves better than an economy that leaves millions of people and whole communities behind.
And Democrats offer better. We offer optimism, and we offer hope for the future.
Now as you might guess, a lot of Republicans and Independents supported us. And since then, a lot of them have asked me, Mark - Why exactly are you a Democrat?
And I just smile. Because if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand.
Amy Tuck clearly wouldn't understand.
I am a Democrat because since Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence - and since Jackson spoke for the common man - our party has never been the party of the status quo.
Instead, we have been the ones to see a challenge - and do something about it. Let's be honest - it hasn't always worked perfectly. Sometimes it has gotten us in trouble. Sometimes it has split us apart. But sometimes, those are the wages of progress.
And yet, I am a Democrat because the greatest and most noble political experiments of our time had their birth in our party.
I am a Democrat because the New Deal literally saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
I am a Democrat because a generation after a Democratic president started the Peace Corps, you can still find faded photographs of John F. Kennedy on the walls of homes from South Africa to South America.
I am a Democrat because fighting for working men and women is always the right fight.
I am a Democrat because our party led the struggle for civil rights - in the tough places like Virginia and Mississippi - and because we recognize that discrimination and bigotry are not dead - and that we must continue to seek equal opportunity for all.
I am a Democrat because despite our failures, our missteps, and our excesses - we know that waging a war on poverty does not mean fighting the individuals who are poor.
I am a Democrat because we know that today's battle is about the future versus the past - and it's time to put aside yesterday's battles of us versus them.
I am a Democrat because we know that criticizing success won't create a single job.
And most of all, I am a Democrat because when my three daughters go out into the world to make their lives, I want them to find a world where there's less hopelessness - less selfishness - and less violence.
I want them to find a world where there is more opportunity - more understanding - and more hope.
That is the mission of this party.
That is what we work for.
That is why we get up every morning.
That is why we're here tonight.
And our work is not done.
For more on Mark Warner, I suggest:

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Winning over Blue Collar Voters: Part III

We have noticed that we still have a ways to go to win over more socially conservative, blue collar voters.

However, there may be a "wedge" that we can use to separate off these voters and bring them back into our tent.

Let's take a look at a recent article by Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
" Parent-trap snares recruitersThe tune changes at some homes when they hear 'sign here'Thursday, August 11, 2005
By Jack Kelly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.
"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.
"Parental consent is the toughest thing we face right now," said Rivera's boss, Maj. Michael Sherman, 36, commander of the recruiting battalion headquartered in Pittsburgh. "There are so many kids just waiting for their 18th birthday, so they can enlist."

It is even tougher for the Army, which, along with the Marines, has seen the bulk of the action in Iraq, but has far higher enlistment quotas.

Recruiters have to contact as many as 100 young people just to get one who is willing to talk about enlisting, chiefly because of opposition from parents, said Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, commander of the Army Recruiting Command. That's nearly four times as many as before the war in Iraq began.

The Army's difficulties were reflected in the latest monthly recruiting figures, released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Defense.

They show that while all active-duty military services met their goals for July, and the Army met its goal for the second month in a row, the Army continues to lag for the recruiting year that began 10 months ago, reaching only 89 percent of its goal.

The Army figures to be about 8,000 soldiers short of its goal of 80,000 for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, which would be the first time since 1999 that it will have missed an annual target."

And so we can focus on what we have in common. When we think that a war is truly necessary, we are willing to risk our blood for the cause. On the other hand, the elites of the GOP see war as nothing more than an investment opportunity; they let others do the bleeding.

Remember that, while it is true that Bush, Cheney, Rove and the like are chickenhawks, many of their well to do supporters are chickenhawks as well.

So the "chickenhawk" label won't split off the well-to-do GOP vote; then again neither will anything else in our message. But it is entirely possible that me might start getting some more of the lower income, socially conservative vote.

But, in all this, let us remember that when we are reaching out, that we are inviting people to be "members of our family" and not cynically begging for their votes, only to ignore them if we win.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Funny Fashions: leave it to the Japanese

What are not seeing what you think you are seeing. These skirt have the images of underpants painted onto the fabric itself; the skirts are actually opaque.

Anyway, this rates as a "no comment"; thanks to my sister (Rose Carr) for bringing this to my attention. Ahem.

Friday, August 12, 2005

NARAL AD: they pulled it!

Congratulations to NARAL for pulling their misleading Roberts ad. This is one of the things I love about being a liberal: we examine ourselves, and correct any mistakes that we find.

Never in 1,000,000 would conservatives do that; I guess it is because they think that "God is on their side."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Just For Fun:

My wife is 17 years older than I am. But she has a wonderful sense of humor. She sent me the following:

Along with the caption she made up: "Ten years from now, this will be me", along with the following text:


Many of us "Old Folks" (those over 50, WAY over 50, or hovering near 50) are quite confused about how we should present ourselves. We are unsure about the kind of image we are projecting and whether or not we are correct as we try to conform to current fashions. Despite what you may have seen on the streets, the following combinations DO NOT go together and should be avoided:

1. A nose ring and bifocals
2. Spiked hair and bald spots
3. A pierced tongue and dentures
4. Miniskirts and support hose
5. Ankle bracelets and corn pads
6. Speedo's and cellulite
7. A belly button ring and a gall bladder surgery scar
8. Unbuttoned disco shirts and a heart monitor
9. Midriff shirts and a midriff bulge
10. Bikinis and liver spots
11. Short shorts and varicose veins
12. Inline skates and a walker

And last, but not least...
13. Thongs and Depends

Thumbs Down! Stuff I really don't like:

This is simply outrageous:
Evidently, this is a photo of right wing wacko's who are picketing outside of a soldier's funeral.

Imagine the howls of outrage had a left-wing group used a soldier's funeral to promote, say, an anti-war cause. Source:

To see the sickening stuff that these people are passing out:

Now on the left, nothing nearly as outrageous, but unhelpful nevertheless:


"NARAL Falsely Accuses Supreme Court Nominee RobertsAttack ad says he supported an abortion-clinic bomber and excused violence. In fact, Roberts called clinic bombers “criminals” who should be prosecuted fully.

August 9, 2005Modified:August 9, 2005Summary

An abortion-rights group is running an attack ad accusing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts of filing legal papers “supporting . . . a convicted clinic bomber” and of having an ideology that “leads him to excuse violence against other Americans” It shows images of a bombed clinic in Birmingham , Alabama .

The ad is false.

And the ad misleads when it says Roberts supported a clinic bomber. It is true that Roberts sided with the bomber and many other defendants in a civil case, but the case didn't deal with bombing at all. Roberts argued that abortion clinics who brought the suit had no right use an 1871 federal anti-discrimination statute against anti-abortion protesters who tried to blockade clinics. Eventually a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court agreed, too. Roberts argued that blockades were already illegal under state law.

The images used in the ad are especially misleading. The pictures are of a clinic bombing that happened nearly seven years after Roberts signed the legal brief in question."

Factcheck goes on to say in its analysis:
"Seven Years Earlier

The ad fails to mention that the "court briefs" it mentions are actually from nearly seven years before the abortion clinic bombing talked about in the ad. The woman in the ad, Emily Lyons, was injured by a bomb blast at the New Woman/All Women Health Clinic in Birmingham on January 28, 1998 that also killed an off-duty police officer. The bomber was Eric Rudolph, who was captured in May 2003 after a five-year manhunt. Rudolph pleaded guilty and in July 2005 was sentenced to two consecutive life terms without parole.

The brief that Roberts signed, and on which the NARAL ad is based, is from another matter entirely. It is dated April 11, 1991. Furthermore, it is from a civil lawsuit brought by abortion clinics against protesters who were blockading the clinics. Bombing was not an issue. "

These sorts of ads don't help anything.

The Blue Collar Vote: Part II

Of course, we still have a ways to go prior to being where we should be concerning the blue collar vote. Where are we right now? According to a CNN exit poll:

By income:

income total Bush Kerry Nader
Under $15,000 (8%) 36% 63% 0%
$15-30,000 (15%) 42% 57% 0%
$30-50,000 (22%) 49% 50% 0%
$50-75,000 (23%) 56% 43% 0%
$75-100,000 (14%) 55% 45% 0%

or 54.6% of the $50,000 and under vote.

By education:

No High School (4%) 49% 50% 0%
H.S. Graduate (22%) 52% 47% 0%
Some College (32%) 54% 46% 0%
College Graduate (26%) 52% 46% 1%
Postgrad Study (16%) 44% 55% 1%

Or 46.7 % of the "some college" or less vote. That is terrible.

We did get 61% of the union vote, but only 45% of the non-union vote.

So, what is the problem? There is a good discussion of this problem at That discussion is based on a Washington Post article by Dan Blaz, which reads, in part:
"For Democrats, a Troubling Culture Gap
By Dan BalzWednesday, August 10, 2005; A08

Dissatisfaction over the war in Iraq, the economy and rising health care costs might spell trouble for Republicans, but a study by Democratic strategists warns that their party's failure to connect with voters on cultural issues could prevent Democratic candidates from reaping gains in upcoming national elections.

Democrats have expressed bewilderment over Republican gains among lower-income, less-educated voters, saying they are voting against their economic self-interest by supporting Republican candidates. But the new Democracy Corps study concludes that cultural issues trump economic issues by a wide margin for many of these voters -- giving the GOP a significant electoral advantage.

The study is based on focus groups of rural voters in Wisconsin and Arkansas and disaffected supporters of President Bush in Colorado and Kentucky. The good news for Democrats: All the groups expressed dissatisfaction with the direction of the country and with the leadership of the president and the GOP-controlled Congress.

Then came the bad news: "As powerful as the concern over these issues is, the introduction of cultural themes -- specifically gay marriage, abortion, the importance of the traditional family unit and the role of religion in public life -- quickly renders them almost irrelevant in terms of electoral politics at the national level," the study said.

Many of these voters still favor Democrats on economic issues. But they see the Democrats as weak on national security, and on cultural and moral issues, they view Democrats as both inconsistent and hostile to traditional values. "Most referred to Democrats as 'liberal' on issues of morality, but some even go so far as to label them 'immoral,' 'morally bankrupt,' or even 'anti-religious,' " according to the Democracy Corps analysis.

Democrats Karl Agne and Stan Greenberg, who conducted the focus group, said Democrats need a reform-oriented, anti-Washington agenda to overcome the culture gap. At this point, Democrats are in no position to capitalize if there is a clear backlash against Republicans. "No matter how disaffected they are over Republican failures in Iraq and here at home," they said, "a large chunk of white, non-college voters, particularly in rural areas, will remain unreachable for Democrats at the national level." "

So, what in the world can be done?

Well, for one, let us remember that the last election loss was a narrow one, 51-49, and that we were not that far out of it in many states, such as Florida, Ohio, New Mexico and Iowa. Therefore, we need only convert a few of these folks that are currently dead set against us.

But the conversion starts now; let's start planting the seeds. Let's shine our spotlight on what unites us as Democrats rather than some of the emotional social issues. I am not saying to abandon those social issues, but let's not put the public focus on those.

Also, we need to pay attention to which people are skilled at uniting many different classes of people. President Clinton was a master at this. I know that I am willing to back someone who is more moderate than I am, provided that they have the political skills to bring people together.

So, for me, this means that I'll be paying attention to political skills as much as ideology when it comes time to choose our next presidential candidate.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Some more fun

(Cross posted on my math blog)

This is taken from the following source:

There are five houses in a row in different colors. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. The five owners drink a different drink, smoke a different brand of cigar and keep a different pet, one of which is a Walleye Pike.

The question is-- who owns the fish?

1. The Brit lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
5. The green house owner drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Malls keeps birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhills.
8. The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk.
9. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
10. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhills.
12. The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Princes.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

The solution can be found at (and no, the correct answer is not "whatever George Bush says it is"; remember that this is a liberal blog. Therefore, the solution has to actually work!)

Competing for the Blue Collar Vote: We can do it!

While reading the news on the net, I found an interesting blog entry from The Huffington Post:

This Is Angry. I Am Yelling. But I Am a White, Male Truckdriver...
"I have been reading pages and pages about the DNC and the DLC and I want to tell you why I am so opposed to the direction the DLC has taken the Party in the last 20 years.
I have been advocating, writing letters, talking locally within the Democratic Party for 25 frickin' years now. To no avail.

My message is simple: talk about workers' rights. Unionizing, outsourcing (especially outsourcing!), management cheating (we have ALL been cheated out of portions of our wages by innumerable statistical tricks). SPEAK OF THEM and blue-collar men go absolutely NUTS with recognition of the problems! Followed 5 minutes later with the most intense hunger to do something about it all that you have ever witnessed.

I speak of them to my blue-collar friends all the time! All. By. Myself.

Millions of white, male blue-collar workers go around in right-wing talk radio induced ignorance. Each and every one of them thinks that the problems they have with their employer is unique, puzzling and sure to get better after a change of management ...or something.

What I do: I simply point up how these "puzzling anomalies" are actually well-known and ancient un-fair labor practices. With NAMES! "

Fred Stembottom goes on to say:

"Can't you morons in the DLC see that blue-collar America clings to the Repubs. because the Repubs. WANT us. And they PROVE it by consistently addressing just 1 or 2 wedge issues that concern blue collar America. Nevermind that these issues don't even relate to our work life; it still trumps the absolute NOTHING that Democrats offer! "

To read the rest of Stembottom's blog entry, click here.

His lament is mostly directed at the DLC, (Democratic Leadership Council, the "Clinton-Bayh" wing of the party), presumably because of it's perceived pro-corporate leanings. What he wants from the DLC is clear: more worker-friendly policies.

But what he says can be taken to heart by the more liberal, non-DLC wing as well.

We can win back some of these votes, but we really have to focus our spotlight on the stuff that helps the majority of people with their day to day lives.

Yes, it makes us feel self righteous to pound away at our favorite socially liberal issues, but let us remember that we can't govern if we don't win at the ballot box.

I am not saying that we should give up on moral issues such as affirmative action for African Americans (as well as other remedies for racism), gay rights, anti-flag burning amendments and the like. But as far as where to focus our spotlight, remember that all Americans are affected by the loss of good jobs, the dearth of reasonable health insurance, bad schools and the like.

Let us remember that most Americans stand to lose during this terribly misguided war in Iraq; let us remember that when 9-11 came about, liberals saw that we needed a smart, moral terrorism policy (which includes the intelligent use of military force, smart law enforcement, and a more just, moral foreign policy) whereas the conservative leadership saw mostly a colossal money making opportunity for their cronies. They are utterly indifferent to the concerns of the average citizen.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Seriousness and Fun

First, I'd like to offer my hopes and good wishes to the Russian submarine crew and their families. I served briefly on the U. S. S. Trepang (SSN-674, a sturgeon class attack sub) and made a patrol on the U. S. S. James Monroe (Gold crew SSBN-616).

My service was cut short by knee injuries (which vexed me for 7-8 years after leaving the Navy) but I had time to qualify for Diving Officer and for Engineering Officer of the Watch.

Now for fun: how well do you know your European geography?

(no cheating by looking at a map!)

Race Report: Mental Health Mile.

This week (Monday through Friday) has been "week one" of a three week taper for the Lean Horse 100 mile run. So, I swam a 1.3 mile open water course twice, did two 7 mile walks (4 by 1 mile intervals at 10:20-10:55 mpm), one 2 mile run (just under 18 minutes), 4 yoga classes and 2 "core strength" exercise classes.

So, I was reasonably well rested for the Mental Health One Mile run. The course is a .7 mile loop around a parking lot followed by a .3 mile stretch to the finish chute. The course has a couple of very small "inclines" on it, and every 1/4'th of a mile is marked by a sign.

I warmed up with Tracy (my running buddy) and Olivia (my 10 year old daughter) . The women started their race; Tracy and Olivia did the first 3/4 of a mile together hitting the first 1/4 in 2:18, the second in 4:45. Tracy stayed steady; Olivia walked a few steps here and there.

Olivia caught Tracy at the end and finished in 9:49, Tracy was 1 second back at 9:50.

Next, I did my race. I started in dead last and was dead last in 1:44 at the first 1/4. I didn't feel that bad and so was able to pick up the pace and pass others. I was at 3:22 at the half. I felt myself lengthen my stride instead of turning it over quicker.

At the half, a competitor blew me away and went on to leave me 19 seconds behind. I struggled in at 5:03 at the 3/4 and finished at 6:45. In the last 1/8'th, the woman's winner (Carol Pratt, a track coach) yelled "6:45 is your goal, so get going".

So my splits were: 1:44, 1:38, 1:41, 1:42.

Fact: walking 14 minutes a mile in training doesn't get one ready to race at under 7 minutes per mile.

Next, the non competitive one mile walk was held. Barbara (my wife) did this and started off at an 18 mpm pace for the first 1/4. She too picked up a bit and finished in 17:38. If that seems slow, (ok, it is slow), take into account that she had her second knee replacement surgery on May 31'st of this year and was only able to even make a mile 4 weeks ago or so. Last week, she hobbled to a 22 minute mile, so this performance represents considerable progress for her.

We'll see if we can get her down to 15 minutes eventually.

So, it was a fun "family and friends" kind of day. Olivia won the age 17 and under and Tracy took third in the over 40 women's age group. The winners ran 6:27 (women and women's masters), 4:59 (men's open) and 5:40 (men's master's).

But, I am reminded that my next 100 is less than 2 weeks away.

Just think: If I could maintain double this pace for 100 miles, I'd have an excellent finishing time! Just kidding; my track PR for the 100 mile walk is 23:40 and my technical trail PR is 34:16 (collapsed at mile 65).

Still, I like challenging myself at these events, and found out that I really miss doing the mile.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Democratic Women Rock!

Some time ago, an obnoxious photo display was circulated; this display compared flattering photos of attractive republican women to unflattering photos of Democratic women.

Well, it is only fair to set the record straight.
Click here to see some flattering photos of some female Democrats! And yes, two ladies are on both photo spreads. You can see four of the political females here.

Torture and The American Conservative.

Getting back to the issue that Senator Durbin raised some time ago we have a couple of developments. First there was the Washington Post article by Josh White which I have provided a link to. It describes how one of our captives, Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, was killed by his U. S. captors and how his death was covered up.

Then there was Senator McCain making a brave attempt to get an anti-torture amendment into a defense bill; his idea was to use the U. S. Army field manual as the standard for prisoner interrogation so as to remove any fuzziness that our troops might have concerning what is permitted and what isn't. I recommend clicking on the link. Note that the "Freepers" (people who post on the "Free Republic" blog) are attacking him for doing this! Unbelievable, well not really. It might be worth rereading my post where I quoted The Nation's Katha Pollitt at length (as to why Senator Kerry lost the last presidential election.

Lastly, I'd like to remark about the latest magazine I've subscribed to: The American Conservative. I find it interesting that they are anti-war and anti-CAFTA. Their anti-war writing is especially refreshing; they pull no punches in calling President Bush incompetent and in calling some of the anti-French behavior of some of our elected officials "juvenile".

I disagree with many of their social stances, but I really love their bold, hard-hitting writing style.

Durbin and Dobson

Remember the flap over Senator Durbin's remarks on Gitmo? I pointed out that Senator Durbin was unfairly attacked for his remarks, which basically said that FBI reports on the treatment of prisoners made us look bad. Unfortunately, many people either didn't read his remarks carefully, or were incapable of understanding what they read.

I will return to the prisoner situation in a separate post. But for now, I'll examine remarks made by Dr. James Dobson, a minister who is very influential in social conservative circles.

When discussing stem cell research, Dr. Dobson said:
"DOBSON: You know, the thing that means so much to me here on this this issue (embryonic stem cell research) is that people talk about the potential for good that can come from destroying these little embryos and how we might be able to solve the problem of juvenile diabetes. There's no indication yet that they're gonna do that, but people say that, or spinal cord injuries or such things. But I have to ask this question: In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind. You know, if you take a utilitarian approach, that if something results in good, then it is good. But that's obviously not true. We condemn what the Nazis did because there are some things that we always could do but we haven't done, because science always has to be guided by ethics and by morality. And you remove ethics and morality, and you get what happened in Nazi Germany. That's why to Senator (Senate Majority Leader Bill) Frist (R-TN) and the others who are saying, "Look what may be accomplished." Yeah, but there's another issue, there's a higher order of ethics here. "

Now of course, Dr. Dobson is not an elected official, and is therefore held to a lower standard than a U. S. Senator. But read what he said: he said that doing science without ethical considerations can lead to gross immorality.

And, in my opinion, on that matter, he is right. He is not comparing stem cell researchers to nazis.

Believe me, I would be the last person in the world to defend Dr. Dobson's worldview. Frankly, I find him and his ministry repulsive. And I am in favor of stem-cell research; comparing a collection of undifferentiated cells to a human being is idiotic.

I'd ask this of Mr. Dobson: were there a fire and he had the opportunity to rescue either

1) a petri dish containing 1000 fertilized human eggs of the type that are used in stem cell research or

2) one real live toddler

and he could only rescue one of the two, which would he choose?

But nevertheless, people are overreacting to his statement.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The bloggosphere and an Excellent "artsy" Film: Wicked Spring

My summer is rapidly coming to an end and hence my blogging will slow down a bit. But one of the things I've really enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy, at a reduced pace) is visiting blogs, both personal and community.

Of course, it is easy to see where I am on the political spectrum. But I've also taken the time to visit, as well as the personal blogs of a couple of conservatives (who have left comments here and there).

I admit that I love conversation, including conversation with those who see the world very differently than I do. What I've noticed is that, even with the differing political views, the similarities between those I talk with run deeper than the differences.

That brings me to an excellent film: Wicked Spring. It is set during the Wilderness Battle in the U. S. Civil War. The plot is the following: during the chaos of the battle, individuals become separated from their units. They go walking around in the darkness in grave danger of being shot. It turns out that three Union soldiers hook up with two Confederate soldiers and camp together for the night. The twist is that the Yankees don't know that their companions are Rebels and visa versa! Morning eventually comes and then they find out; that is when things get even more interesting.

Anyway, here are mortal enemies finding out that they have lots in common.

Now, I am not saying that my adventures in the blogosphere in any way compares; after all Dr. Andy and Different River aren't trying to kill me (not yet anyway) and visa versa.

But let's say I am grateful that I live in a place where we can chat and blog about our differences instead of striving to kill one another.