Monday, October 31, 2005

Cost of War...

Not much to add to this diary by a Navy veteran named Joe;

The pictures are sickening. But this has happened to our troops thousands of times over the past 2 plus years; remember that the wounded are not exactly suffering from ankle sprains.

As an avid distance walker, it makes me sick to see what has happened to so many of our young people.

The Case For Samuel Alito, according to Harriet!

"Well, remember that President Bush is a "uniter, not a divider." So it is in that spirit where he nominated me to be the next Supreme Court Justice. You see, Sandra Day O'Connor is stepping down, and President Bush thought that a lady be given a chance to take that spot. Not all of our friends agreed with this choice, but the President stood by the courage of his convictions to give us ladies a shot.

Well, you know how things went. After a careful, heart-wrenching analysis of my qualifications, it was determined that, where I am an accomplished lady with, well, what the President calls a "good heart", well, let's just say that a Supreme Court Justice needs to have an almost hard-hearted logic to be able to see if current laws really are consistent with the Constitution, which, after all, well, was written by our Founding Fathers; NOT our Founding Mothers.

So, though some might not think that it is, well, "politically correct" to say this, well, there are certain roles that we each have to play. Ladies make better mommies, and, well, when it comes to handling the cold, hard logic of the cases that come before the Supreme Court, well, the men just do that better than we do. I, I mean, we, were given that chance, and, well, we just didn't measure up to that standard. I am still grateful that President Bush gave us that shot; it really speaks well of him that he did that. Not that ladies can't be lawyers; note that I am still on the White House staff!

So, let us get behind that brilliant President of ours and support Samuel Alito. He is a real man with the intellect to do a good job in this position. Now, our foes may not like this choice; look for shrill criticism to come from such feminists as Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton and the like. You know how, uh, "emotional" we can get! (Our husbands and boyfriends can sure attest to that!) But let us listen with understanding and remember the lesson we learned a long time ago: "Daddy still knows best!" And let us remember that our weakness toward, uh, "being emotional", is perhaps one of the reasons that President Bush is doing the right thing.

Yoo Hoo!

Now get out there, "call you're Senator" to support Samuel Alito!



Very Bad, but seasonal

Fellow Ultrawalker Bob Crothers sent me this...I still like him anyway.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday Morning Blogging: many topics

I am taking the morning off from training due to my 50K race yesterday; later I plan to go to the Forest Park Nature Center to do some easy hiking.

So, I have some time to blog and not that much to say. Not that this has ever stopped me in the past.

  • Miers nomination; one damaging aspect.

Ok, so the Miers nomination flopped. One big downside is that it appears that Bush has been let off of the hook as far as nominating a female. Why do I consider it important to have another female on the Supreme Court?

My thinking goes something like this: the Supreme court has to interpret law to make sure that it is consistent with our constitution. But, in doing so, the court has to make value judgments (I. e., is this "reasonable") and, let's face it, what might appear reasonable to a male in this society might not be reasonable to a female. So yes, something approaching proportional representation might not be all that important in, say, engineering (we want our planes to fly and our bridges to stand up) but, in my opinion, that is important in law.

So what does this have to do with Harriet Miers? Well, Bush can now say "hey, I nominated a female, and you saw how that went over. " It is a kind of "ok, you know, we tried to nominate a female, but, uh, not p. c. to say this, but, uh, she just wasn't up to speed. So maybe when it comes to something as high up as the Supreme Court, perhaps it is best to just let the boys handle it." Or something like that.

An analogy is if a top flight math department (say, MIT) was under pressure to have a Mexican American, and they picked me. Of course, I'd flounder if I tried to do world class level research as my brain just isn't up to it. Then they could say "see, we tried to give a Mexican American a chance." Of course, there are people of my heritage who can get the job done at that level; it would be that *I* am not one of them!

I wonder if something similar happened with the Miers nomination.

  • College Football.

I'll start off by admitting my lack of expertise; if you were to check out my picks in the Yahoo "pick'em" contest you'd see that I am hitting less than 50% (by the spread). Also, I was one of those who thought that Joe Paterno was washed up as a coach. But of course I have opinions so here they are:

  • Charlie Wies gets a 10 year contract extension. For what, may I ask? Remember that Ty Willingham started off his Notre Dame tenure by winning 7 straight, including several wins over ranked teams. His team beat Michigan, Purdue, Pittsburgh and gave Air Force its first loss. It then went on to blow out Florida State at Florida State, prior losing its first game to Boston College. Yes, Notre Dame has played well so far, but come on. Is the standard of success at Notre Dame been reduced to NOT getting blown out by USC?

  • Fisher DeBerry at Air Force was reprimanded for saying something to the effect that his team would need to recruit more black players in order to have enough team speed to compete with the better teams. He said this after Air Force was blown out 48-10 by TCU. One source:
    "Coming off a 48-10 loss Saturday to the Horned Frogs, DeBerry was quoted as saying at a Tuesday news conference: "It's very obvious to me the other day that the other team had a lot more Afro-American players than we did, and they ran a lot faster than we did. It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well.
    "Their defense had 11 Afro-American kids on their team, and they were a very, very good defensive football team. That's exactly what I was talking about." "

Well, this past weekend, Air Force was blown out by BYU 62-41 (though Air Force did score 35 points in the last 15:30 to make the score more respectable). So, perhaps they need to recruit more white Mormons too?

Seriously, it is no secret that in this day and age, any team (in the US) that is serious about winning in sports like football and basketball will need to have a disproportionate number of African American players. Yes, there might be a weird circumstance where one might assemble a basketball team of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Bill Walton, but that would be the rare, rare exception.

But the point is that DeBerry is coaching at a high visibility school with very high ethical standards and, when he is speaking in public, he needs to take that into account. What he said was politically unwise, even if there was truth in what he said. If one doesn't want their public speech to be encumbered by political constraints, then one has no business having a high visibility position at a service academy.

  • Stupid student tricks.

I gave an exam over Laplace Transforms in my differential equations class this past Friday. The exam was open book, open note. I got the following e-mail message from a student after the exam:

"Hello, this is XXX. I tried to track you down around 3 on Friday, but I couldn't find you. I'm afraid that I panicked when we were taking the test and I made some very large errors (I worked the problems and figured out some of the errors I made during the next hour). I would like to talk with you on Monday if you have time, primarily because I think that my work on this test was not representative of my level of understanding of the material. Thank you.

YYY XXXX, student number ABCDEFG"

See the problem here? Let's see: "hi. I am sorry that I botched the operation and your relative died in surgery. But I am a better surgeon than that and I'd like to talk to you about it."

"Hi. Yes, the bridge that I designed fell down, but I am really a better engineer than that. Can we talk?"

"Hi. I did poorly at the track meet, but I am a better runner than that. Let's talk about my advancing to the finals."

"Hi. I am sorry that the blunder that I committed got many of my men killed in the last battle, but I am a better officer than that. Can we talk?"

Bottom line: sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get students to accept responsibility for their performance. I suppose that is an implicit part of my job as a professor, though it is NOT one of the more pleasant aspects.

  • Racewalking: My friend (and sometimes political rival) Andy sent me this article about Al Heppner, a national class racewalker who killed himself after failing to make the 2004 Olympic team in the 50K walk. The story is here, and is an excellent read:

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Chicago 50K: a sorry performance but a good effort

Well, this has been an interesting weekend for me so far; I've got tons of papers to grade, a whining student or two, but I've dealt with none of that so far.

Last night, I drove to Chicago (Lomabard really) to spend the night; this morning I drove to Chicago to walk the Chicago Ultra 50K (there was a 50 mile foot race that started two hours earlier, but I am not fast enough to meet the 35 miles in 7 hours cut-off, though I would have a fighting chance at the 11 hour time limit for the race itself).

Afterward, I drove home to find my wife having dinner waiting on me; not only that but she TOLD me that the UT-Okie State football game was on TBS! So I watched the Longhorns rally from 28-9 down to win 47-28. This appears to be a special season, and it Vince Young reminds me of another young (Steve) that went on to do quite well in the NFL.

Ok, about the race: I got there in plenty of time ( ) chatted with Paul Kelley and Bob (didn't catch his last name) and went out "gently" (or so I thought). The day was crisp, sunny, and some very spotty light breezes (NOTHING like this spring or last fall). I lost contact with "the pack" and that may have been a mistake.

The course itself is on the Lakeshore bike path (asphalt) and starts with a 12.3 mile "out and back" that takes you from the 63'th street Beach House to the McCormick center. Then the next two "out and backs" are 9.35 each.

Anyway, I was pretty darned close to last place overall (not quite) when I got to the 6.15 mile turn around point in 1:09. I caught a few folks on the way back, but the first out and back seemed more like a light hearted training walk than a race; that was to change later. I got to the start point in 2:21, which was 6 minutes slower than last year. One thing I noticed is that my kidneys were very active, as they always seem to be in chilly weather.

On the second out I walked part of the way with a guy who directed this race in the past . That was fun. I also got lapped by the top two runners. The no. 1 overall was a male (no surprise) who looked as if he were out for a light jog. He made it look oh-so-easy. Several minutes later came the no. 2 overall and the lead woman: Lisa Menninger. She looked every bit as good (and cut a pleasing shape in her cropped spandex). She looked as if she could have gone twice as far.

I was happy with my 56 minute out leg as it put me in position to get a PR. The return leg wasn't as good. I was mostly by myself, unlike past times when I had people to chase most of the way. So my mind started to wander; some of mental energy took in the scenery (beautiful views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago), and part of my mind wandered to politics. I started to laugh out loud several times when my mind went back to the Harriet Miers "call you're senator" ads, and I also laughed when I recalled the Hemingway paraphrase from : " Ask not at whom the chimp smirks; he smirks at you."

Anyway, I wasn't focused on walking though the pain, I was trying to avoid the pain. Not a good sign. So the return leg took 1:01 and I was at 4:19 to start the last out and back; 1 minute behind last year's PR pace.

But then the wheels really came off. On this stretch, on both the out and back, I only saw one runner who was nearby; she was going too fast (got behind me due to a pit-stop?) and I really struggled. The next out took 1:03 and got me to the marathon mark (26.3 miles actually) in 5:22; I was now 3 minutes behind last year's pace. Each check-point (pedestrian over pass, bath houses) was taking 3-4 minutes longer to reach! I was getting disgusted with myself; "another shi**y performance" I thought. But the legs did hurt and I was losing calf strength.

I thought: "ok, 6:25", as I passed the first few "landmarks" on the way back and then "maybe 6:27" as I slowed some more then "ok, sub 6:30?". As I got in sight of the bathhouse, I realized that I might not make 6:30 if I did get a move on.

And in some sense, I didn't. I did get passed about .1 miles from the finish and I saw the clock tick past 6:30. BUT, the time recorder didn't get my time down (though he did get my place). So he went by my watch time, which I started when I crossed the start line. So, I ended up with a "chip time" after all.

Afterward, I had to lie down a bit because I was nauseated (not by my finish time, but by the effort). I then came to understand that I really did walk hard; I just had an off day.

The silver lining: this was my fastest walking 50K of the year, and my fastest walking marathon of the year. Yes, I was almost 10 minutes faster last year, on a very windy day. But, I also had several easy weekends prior to that race; this time around I had done on the previous three weekends: (20 miles -20 miles, 28 miles-21 miles, 21 miles-20 miles). So, I still had some residual fatigue going into the race.

But more importantly, I didn't get into a pack to chase people. Last year, I chased the much faster Klaus Thiedmann (a race walker) for the first 10 miles, and then several packs of runners throughout. That just wasn't the case here.

After the race, I talked to others, including Janet (who wears several ROWS of earrings on each ear), Paul Kelley (who PR'ed in 6:53), and Chicagowalker member Ray Glend who has nice walking form.

The topic of "why we do this" came up, and the main point was that, among ultra runners (and walkers) there is a great deal of mutual respect from the top down. This respect is genuine and it shows.

My thoughts on why this is: well, there are no bands playing for you in an ultra. There are many times when you are doing many miles all alone. And, well, to start that "n-th loop" takes character. Pushing yourself when you are lonely, discouraged and hot (or cold) takes character. Hey, we like our buckles and medals, but it isn't as if we don't have lots of these at home.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Sad Day For Me! Harriet Miers Withdraws.

I am so sad; Harry Miers withdrew her nomination.

I am going to miss that cute, bug-eyed little hack. And yes, Tom, I saw your comment; I don't see how you could be so mean to our Harriet.

My friend Damon Lease has given me much to think about and a site to check out (called "smirking chimp") and I'll probably talk about that this weekend. But for now, it is time for some needed rest as I have a 50K this weekend.

Since I have to take someone's class in the morning, I won't do my normal swim.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Effect of Faith Healing on Cancer

Thanks to Dr. Buck Hale for alerting me to the abstract of this article:

Now what does this article mean? Basically, a certain number of people with a certain type of cancer were subjected to the following kind of test: some were prayed for; others were not. The patients were not made aware if people were praying for them or not.

Roughly speaking, it was found that the difference between the "prayed for group" and the "not prayed for group" didn't differ by any more than expected by random chance (a "p-value" of .05 or less means that there is a 5% chance or less that such a difference could be explained by random chance).

The text of the abstract:

The effect of spiritual healing on in vitro tumour cell proliferation and viability--an experimental study.
Zachariae R, Hojgaard L, Zachariae C, Vaeth M, Bang B, Skov L.
Psychooncology Research Unit, Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital, 8000 Arhus C, Denmark.
"Alternative treatments such as spiritual healing and prayer are increasingly popular, especially among patients with life-threatening diseases such as cancer. According to theories of spiritual healing, this intervention is thought to influence living cells and organisms independently of the recipient's conscious awareness of the healer's intention. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that spiritual healing will reduce proliferation and viability of two cancer cell lines in vitro. Three controlled experiments were conducted with three different healers and randomised allocation of cells to five different doses of healing or control. Researchers conducting the assays and statistical analyses were blinded to the experimental conditions. Main outcome measures were MTT viability, 3H-thymidine incorporation and counts of an adherent human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7), and a nonadherent mouse B-lymphoid cell line (HB-94). Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) revealed no significant main or dose-related effects of spiritual healing compared to controls for either of the two cell lines or any of the assays (P-values between 0.09 and 0.96). When comparing healing and control across all three experimental days, doses, assays, and cells, 34 (51.6%) of 66 independent comparisons showed differences in the hypothesised direction (P = 0.90). The average effect size across cell lines, days, assays, and doses approached zero (Cohen's d = -0.01). The results do not support previous reports of beneficial effects of spiritual healing on malignant cell growth in vitro. Reported beneficial effects of spiritual healing on the well-being of cancer patients seem more likely to be mediated by psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of the healer-patient relationship."

My Yoga Teacher

Cross posted on my yoga blog:

Ok, I admit it: I have a crush on my yoga teacher. For the sake of this post, I'll call her "Vickie". Yes, she is an attractive single female and I am a married male, and no, I am not talking about marital infidelity.
So what am I talking about? Well, I can say that I really look forward to her classes. I can say that I love traveling out of town to attend a class with her. I love it when we talk about different aspects of yoga; I love it when she challenges us and makes corrections. I love the way she puts her heart and soul into teaching us.
Now, of course, this wasn't always the case. I started yoga back in the fall of 2003, mainly to help with my racewalking. I was having trouble with my hamstrings and having trouble achieving the "straight knee" that is necessary to walk legally.
So, I decided to stop in on our local yoga class (in a facility about 1 mile away from where I live). At first, during "forward fold", I could barely get my hands to mid-shin.
At the time, I have to admit that when I first met Vickie, I kind of thought that she was a bit of a bubbly air-head. During class she would talk constantly "lengthening and stretching....Lengthening and stretching, focusing on that breath..." and I'd kind of roll my eyes. Then, we the class was all doing, say, "Warrior II" she'd say: "ooooh, you all look sooooooo gooood! Proud Warriors!" I'd glance and see a bunch of old farts whose poses were, well, let's put it this way, if she had not have mentioned the pose, it would have been tough to infer what pose we were supposed to be in from looking at us!"
But, over time, I began to understand more and more. I found myself staying after class to ask questions and she'd talk to me. Gradually, I started adding her 6 am Tuesday classes, then the Thursday one too. Then, she invited me to ride with her to an out-of-town class.
So, obviously, I have gotten hooked on yoga. But when did I get hooked on her? I'd say it was back in February, 2004.
During a class one evening, I could tell she was a bit annoyed with me. Then after the class she came up to me. Giving me a stern look, she said "Ollie, tonight, your triangle looked TERRIBLE! What is going on with you? Where were you?"
Well, there was something wrong; I had skipped a week of class to go back to Texas to attend to my dad's death. So, yes, my head wasn't there; I was very unbalanced. I told her about that and we talked.
But it was then that I fell in love with her, so to speak.

Monday, October 24, 2005

More Miers; some serious points

Ok, just a bit of seriousness prior to resuming the "fun": Take a look at the photo of Harriet Miers on the couch of Senator Salazar's office. There she is, on the very end, almost huddled as if she is afraid to take up too much space. Note the meek, almost timid demeanor.

So, is she, at the core, a weak, mousy woman? Well, when you consider that she was an undergraduate mathematics major at SMU (back in the days where female math majors were a rarity) and when you consider that she was one of a grand total of TWO female graduates in her law-school class at SMU, and then went on to succeed in a male dominated high-powered legal firm, well, there is no way she would have made it were she really meek and mousy at the core.

What got me thinking about this was a link to an excellent post by Michael Shaw in his blog:

So, what gives? Well, remember that she is a conservative Christian Republican from Texas. Now ask yourself: would a fiery Boxer or Clinton type make it there as a Republican? Yes, Ann Richards was a one term governor, (as a Democrat) but remember she won largely because her opponent, Clayton Williams, made almost every possible political gaffe during the campaign; and still she barely got 52% of the vote.

So anyway, it is my contention that Harriet Miers is showing the demeanor and body language that she probably developed to survive in her political/social environment; and it probably is appealing to the GOP social conservative base. But on the inside she is probably one tough lady, though by showing it she'd probably alienate much of her base.

But, alas, being on the SCOTUS is about much more than toughness!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled fun with the Miers nomination: the following is from and her "Call You're Senator" campaign:

Sunday, October 23, 2005

An interesting argument against "marriage protection" laws..

Comes from Freerange Athlete.

There is such a proposal coming up in Texas, and he plans to vote against it, even though he considers homosexuality to be immoral. Reason: he thinks that it is none of the government's business!

For the record, I belong to a church that warmly welcomes gays and I completely approve of that policy. I have gay friends and see gay sexuality in the same way that I see heterosexual sexuality; it can be good if used responsibly.

But either way, it is none of the government's business.

Now, to be honest, I think that Freerange Athlete is actually taking a strong libertarian stance in that governments ought not to regulate marriage at all, whereas I think that the government should promote marriage (via tax laws, possession laws, etc.) since it has been shown to be good for the public. But I think that homosexual couples ought to have the same access to such benefits, though I am enough of a realist to see that both 2004 presidential candidates held positions (pro-civil unions) that would have a realistic chance of being embraced today.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Talking to conservatives; not always on the same page

Today is a pretty day in Peoria, IL. I started off by walking 9 miles; 3 miles around the neighborhood and then 6 miles, including some on a local walking track. The track is asphalt and is .41 miles to the lap. I got a funny comment from another walker; as I passed him he asked "How many pair of shoes do you go through each year?" I laughed and said "5 or 6" and he said "I am not surprised." Actually come to think of it, I go through 7 or 8.

Anyway, I registered for a 5K race on campus, did another mile on the treadmill, then walked a 5K running race in 30:25 (10:05 mile 1, 19:42 at mile 2). I kept going after the slower runners throughout. Then I did one more mile, picked up my "first place faculty award" (I was the only one who showed up) then walked 7 more miles to get in 21.

Currently I am watching BYU-ND in football; ND looks a bit flat and is getting outplayed (and is down 10-7). Then again, with exception of the 1993 game, all of the BYU-ND football games have been close in the first half; two finished close (both BYU wins).

Now back to the topic.

First a correction to what follows: Dr. Andy's graduate and medical degrees are from the University of Chicago. Also, his 50 mile PR is 8:26 (at a USATF certified road course in Chicago in 2004; check ). Back to what I originally wrote:

I have conservative friends. I'll tell you about a couple of them. One of them, who I'll call "Mawk", works in the aerospace/rocket industry. You've heard the expression "he isn't a rocket scientist"? Well, Mawk really is. He is also a runner and triathlete (and pretty strong in the weight room too). The weekend prior to the 2004 general election, he did an Ironman (Florida). Before leaving, he sent me a pro-Bush message; I threatened to go to the triathlon and let the air out of his tires. He ended up doing a 12 hour Ironman (and excellent time for an amateur).

We had some interesting discussions concerning the build up to the Iraq war. He backed President Bush's actions; I was in favor of our doing more aggressive inspections (e. g., if the inspectors want to inspect site X and the Iraqi's refuse, then we obliterate site X). Mawk and I both agreed with the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The point is, we can talk to each other as both of us can be persuaded by logical arguments.

I'll call the other one "Dr. Andy." Dr. Andy is out of this world smart; he has both an M. D. and a a Ph. D. (biology); I think that both are from Harvard. He is a good ultrarunner too (21 hour 100 mile trail run, and an 8:4X 50 mile PR).

After the Chicago ultra last October (where he set his 50 mile PR and I walked the 50K) we had dinner together, and even talked politics. We actually agree on many social issues (as do Mawk and I) . Our outlooks on economic issues differ a great deal however; he tends toward economic libertarianism where I see some government regulation as a good thing.

To Dr. Andy, little economic regulation allows for competition, lower prices, and economic prosperity. I see lax regulation as leading to sweatshops, company stores, and Eron type scandals.

But, the point is that we could actually talk without wanting to kill one another (at least most of the time). And, both of us try to use logic when trying to make our points; we tend to process things in similar ways.

So, I was getting to the point to where I thought, deep down, liberals and conservatives really aren't that different; we merely start with (slightly different) assumptions, or are willing to take different risks.

But something happened that changed my mind a bit.

Some time ago, I visited the fake Harriet Miers blog nd had a good old time there. But something interesting happened. A couple of the visitors to the blog spoke out against her getting confirmed. They asked questions like "how is she qualified to be on the SCOTUS".

Many of us responded with comments like "she is qualified because President Bush says so, and he is brilliant", or "she is a nice, Christian lady", and things like that. But the visitors didn't detect the dripping sarcasm; they said "yes, we can see that you support her and that you support President Bush, but how is she qualified?"

I was getting puzzled, and then someone pointed out that the anti-Miers posters were NOT liberals but rather social conservatives. Evidently, these types didn't see arguments such as "Bush says so and he is brilliant" as being inherently absurd!!! Hence they didn't detect what we thought was obvious sarcasm. The point is, I would be clueless as to how to talk to these types.

Wow, I've been at this a while; ND is now up 21-10 with two minutes to go in the first half. The big shock of the day(so far) has been the Northwestern- Michigan State game which was a 49-14 win for the Wildcats! They have beaten Wisconsin and played Penn State close; evidently they aren't the "Mildcats" this year!

Friday, October 21, 2005

I just can't get enough of Harriet!

Law Clerk Application for Justice Harriet Miers

At it was suggested that I consider clerking for soon to be Justice Miers. So, I have taken the liberty of making up an application form for a law-clerk position under our soon-to-be Justice Miers:

Application for Law Clerk
For Justice Harriet Miers

Mandatory Section.

1.Explain why President Bush is the best president ever. Use additional pages if necessary.

2. Explain my Justice Miers is the best Supreme Court Justice. Explain why you love her. Use additional pages if necessary.

3. Describe your religious beliefs and how they would influence your duties. Use additional pages if necessary.

4. Explain how you worked to get Justice Miers confirmed. Use additional pages if necessary.

Optional Section

Give any other information that might help us decide on whether or not to hire you as a law clerk. You can put down stuff like if you have a law degree, where it was from, class rank, law review experience, previous clerking experience, law articles published, previous case work, and other lawyerly and judge type stuff. Please confine this section to the area below.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some interesting ethical questions...

I love thinking about ethical questions, and here are a couple that have come to mind:
  1. Organ transplants? Is it ethical to honor requests from organ donors such as "only give my organs to people in group x" or "never give my organs to people in group y"? Is it ethical to use the organs of someone who was executed by the state? Go to Doctor Andy's blog to find a thought provoking post on this matter.
  2. Data mining, national ID numbers and Big Brother: a dear friend of mine, Deborah Fienburg, sent me the following link:

which is a parody of a man trying to order a pizza over the phone. I know that data mining has it's benefits; for example I was alerted to the fact that my credit cards were stolen by a company which used data mining to determine that the card was being used in a way that did not fit my established purchase patterns. Or, I like it when companies alert me to special offers on stuff that I use (say, flight's from Illinois to Texas). But there are some other consequences too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Belated Race Report: Chicago Ultra 50K, April

I was a real idiot and did this race two weeks prior to attempting a 100 mile trail race at McNaughton Park. (Race report: Photos: ). This 50K was done on the shoreline bike path in Chicago, just off of Lake Michigan. The spring race uses the nothern part of the path; it runs down past the Zoo and Lincoln park; it is a three loop course.

I stayed overnight at Augie Hirt's house (he is the one that taught me racewalking) and I also spent Saturday night as well. The course was a three loop course; the first 16.67 km was done in 2:01, and it only got uglier after that; 2:16 and then 2:25 for a time of 6:42 (walking). It was very, very windy.

But what I remember was my debriefing with Augie afterward (he walked a 5:46). I told him that I had more or less given up as I was way behind my PR pace (off by 22 minutes). He reminded me that he was an HOUR off of his PR.

This is an excellent event; well organized and economical. I can recommend it.
Here is the start; I am wearing the bright orange stocking cap. Next is Augie finishing up. This is what a good walker looks like.

Now, this is what a not-so-good walker looks like! Augie is in the background, cheering me in.

Augie with his medal.

These are a couple of ladies that paced off of me early; I returned the favor later. The one on the right is finishing her first ultra.

Enough said...

Call You're Senator!

Tell them to support Harriet Miers!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Current News About Weightloss

Because I used to be a morbidly obese person (320 lbs at my top weight), I am interested in weight control issues. I've been at my current size for about 10 years now. I don't pretend that I have all the answers or any answers at all; what I have is a very conditional "daily reprieve."

It seems that weight control issues have been in the media lately, so I will explore some of the recent articles:

First, is it helpful to keep track of one's weight? That might seem like an idiotic question, but many people I know who have obesity issues claim that frequent weighing is bad. Here is what one controlled study said, in part:

October 17, 2005
Study: Weight loss fight lifelongRegular trips to the scale can keep people from regaining lost pounds, experts sayBy Nanci HellmichUSA TodayOctober 17, 2005

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- "One of the largest clinical studies ever conducted on keeping off pounds after weight loss supplies more evidence that even when the battle of the bulge is won, the war is far from over.Researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I., say the safety zone around successful weight maintenance is about 5 pounds. That's the marker indicating it's time to stop in your tracks and immediately reverse course before all is un-lost."The key factor is you must continue to monitor your weight after you've lost it, and if you start to regain, then immediately rein in your eating and step up your exercise," says Rena Wing, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University and lead researcher on the new study."

Well, by frequent weighing, they don't mean several times a day! But I know that I am prone to slip into denial, and so I find that a "every so often spot check" is helpful.

So, what about those bypass operations?

As Weight Loss Surgery Skyrockets, Deaths and Risks Rise, Too Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- "The surge in weight loss surgery in the U.S. may be putting obese people at higher risk for illness and death than is generally known, three studies report.
More than 100,000 Americans underwent bariatric surgery to reduce weight in 2003, an eight-fold increase in five years, researchers report in the Oct. 19 Journal of the American Medical Association. A separate analysis of Medicare patients published in the same issue found that 4.6 percent of patients undergoing the procedure died nationwide a year after surgery.
The researchers said the findings may help obese people gauge the risks of the surgery as compared to health problems caused by being overweight. The operations can help patients shed more than half their unwanted weight and can reverse diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep problems, researchers said.
``This is not a vanity operation, it's a high-risk operation,'' said David R. Flum, associate professor of surgery and public health at the University of Washington in Seattle. ``This at least allows people who are considering this surgery to go in a little bit more with their eyes open.''
Medicare, the government's health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, is considering whether and when to pay for the weight-loss surgery. Reimbursement decisions are currently made by regions that control Medicare coverage policies. About one in five surgeries in Washington are performed on Medicare members, while almost none are covered by Medicare in other regions, researchers said. "

So, bypass is a risky operation. Also, be advised that it is possible to gain weight even after a bypass; I've seen it happen many times. People like myself must deal with their emotional and spiritual issues if one is to stay slender.

So, what are the benefits of weight loss? Well, for me, there is the obvious: I get to enjoy by favorite sports. I doubt if I would have finished 100 miles on foot three different times had I still been morbidly obese. But there are other things too: improvement in the quality of the sex life!
Lose weight, enjoy a better sex life - U.S. study17 Oct 2005 22:57:30 GMT

Source: Reuters VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct 17 (Reuters) -

" Obese women who start to lose weight will also see an improvement in the quality of their sex lives, according to a U.S. study released on Monday.
Even a moderate weight loss reduced complaints of feeling sexually unattractive and led to improved desire, according to the study presented at the annual meeting of The North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) in Vancouver.
"If people experience benefits and rewards from their weight loss and health efforts, it may motivate them to continue a healthy lifestyle," said Martin Binks, director of behavioral health at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Researchers who tracked 161 obese women participating in a prescription weight loss program in Minnesota found almost two-thirds reported problems with aspects of their sex life when the study began.
Within the first year, the percentage of women who said they had problems with sexual desire dropped to 15 percent from 39 percent and the number who felt they were sexually unattractive dropped to 26 percent from 68 percent.
The Minnesota weight loss program lasted for two years, but health officials said it was normal for the majority of the weight loss to be in the first year.
The researchers said they found similar results in a survey of 26 obese men in the Minnesota weight-loss program, but cautioned that the small number of male participants made it difficult to draw conclusions from that data.
Health officials say there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in North America in the past two decades, and 64 percent of adults in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese. "

Though I am a male, I can say that weight loss has helped me feel better about myself, and that has affected many parts of my life.

Christmas Come Early?

Oh yes, Bush adminstration officials appear to be in hot water. I say "appear" to be because, well, after last year's presidential election and last week's ND-USC game, well, I am not going to allow myself to get my hopes up. Of course, it isn't a good thing to cheer the fall of one's enemies; instead I should be saying "I hope that justice is done" and really mean it.

Of course, what these people are accused of doing is far more serious than telling a lie about sex during irrelevant testimony at a civil trail that was thrown out, but what the heck. I see national security as a bigger deal than extra-marital oral sex. Silly me.

And speaking of the top person, check out these poll numbers:

incredible; too bad it is 11 months too late.

I spent the day doing mundane tasks (grading, preparing lessons). I am going to have to find a way to get some research done. One thing that is helpful: I am teaching a course that I have never taught before; in fact, I last had this course in the pre-technology days and made a "C" in it each time (1980 and 1981). So needless to say, I never really learned it.

So, I am learning this stuff as I go along! The good news is that I am enjoying learning it.

One final note: I did a 10 x 1 mile (marathon pace, 2 minute walk rests) racewalking workout. It came after one rest day (and1 swim and 2 yoga sessions) after a weekend of: 28 miles on Saturday, 20 on Sunday. I am pleased.

More Miers Fun

I am having a good ol' time at (yes, I know that it is fake).

The latest: "she" is having a contest for a slogan and a logo (a "call you're senator" contest; yes I reproduced the spelling accurately). I am showing one of the funniest entries.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Gebrselassie wins Amsterdam BUT.....

This from the Amsterdam Marathon, from via

AMSTERDAM: Twice Olympic 10,000 metres Champion Haile Gebrselassie won the Amsterdam marathon on Sunday but failed to improvise the two-year-old world record.The 32-year-old Ethiopian, who retired from the track after last year’s Athens Olympics, clocked a course record two hours six minutes 20 seconds in his second race over 42.195 kms.Kenyan Paul Tergat, second to Gebrselassie over 10,000 metres at two Olympic games and two world championships, had set the world mark of 2:04:55 in Berlin on September 28, 2003.Running alone for much of the race on a warm, still day, Gebrselassie was on world-record pace at 35 kms but fell 50 seconds behind schedule over the next five kms.“I am not so happy,” he said.“The last five kms I was not pushing. I need more training.”

Hmmm, perhaps we need to take Mr. Gebreselassie to the side and remind him that he should be very, very happy as he HAD THE COURAGE TO START!!!! What is with this: "I want to excel to the best of my ability" business?

I guess that his attitude is one of the reasons he was able to convert his considerable natural ability into Olympic gold medals, world records, World Championships, etc.

I am commenting on this because of what has happened to me this year. I've trained for and completed a couple of 100 mile races, each of which was a bit of a disappointment for me (in terms of finishing time and place). In each case, I made mistakes which added hours to my finish time. And in each case, some didn't seem to understand why "just finishing" wasn't good enough for me.

Don't get me wrong; I know that Gebreselassie and I are in different universes when it comes to athletics; he is an all-time great athlete; *I* am a very average recreational athlete (or "pretend athlete", as my wife likes to call me). But the thing we have in common is that we both strive to do our best; "just winning" (in Gebreselassie's case) or "just finishing" (in my case) isn't good enough, *if* it appears that we didn't perform to the best of our abilities.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

More weekend fun; mid October

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(30% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Strong Democrat

Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
This was from a political test that I linked to from Marshall's blog. I suppose the outcome is not at all a surprise.

One sort of "fun" site is Ok, it is supposed to be a serious news and information site, but it is a good place to see what the "Freeper Right" is up to. This is the type of place that hypes the last Hillary Clinton bashing book ("The Truth About Hillary"), for example. Two of the more interesting things they have today are articles which talk about the anti-Hillary infighting among some Democrats, and one where Senator McCain discusses the Harriet Mier's nomination.

Harriet Mier's fake blog is funny.

Now, about a previous thread: Opposite Sex Friendships. I ran across an interesting article and a quiz.

The article:

The quiz:

Back to NewsMax: single (heterosexual) guys, they have some advice for you! Here it is (which was sent to me in an e-mail message). Enjoy!

A Special Offer For Single Men Only..."The Ten Most Dangerous Mistakes YOU Probably Make With Women-And What To Do About It..."
Here Are The Top Ten Reasons Why Men Fail With Women-And How To Make Sure YOU Avoid Every One Of These Deadly Common Mistakes... read more

MISTAKE #1: BeingToo Much Of A "Nice Guy"
Have you ever noticed that the really attractive women never seem to be attracted "nice" guys?
Of course you have.
Just like me, I'm sure you've had attractive female friends that always seemed to date "jerks"... but for some reason they were never romantically interested in YOU.
What's going on here?
It's actually very simple...
Women don't base their choices of men on how "nice" a guy is. They choose the men they do because they feel a powerful GUT LEVEL ATTRACTION for them.
And guess what?
Being nice doesn't make a woman FEEL that powerful ATTRACTION.
And being NICE doesn't make a woman CHOOSE you.
I realize that this doesn't make a lot of logical sense, and it's hard to ACCEPT... but GET OVER IT.
Until you accept this FACT and begin to act on it, you'll NEVER have the success with women that you want.

MISTAKE #2: Trying To"Convince Her To Like You"
What do most guys do when they meet a woman that they REALLY like... but she's just notinterested?
Right! They try to "convince" the woman to feel differently.
Never, ever, EVER.
You cannot CONVINCE a woman to feel differently about you with "logic and reasoning".
Think about it.
If a woman doesn't "feel it" for you, how in the world do you expect to change that FEELING by being "reasonable" with her?
But we all do it.
When a woman just isn't interested, we beg, plead, chase, and do our best to change her mind.
Bad idea. One that will never work.

MISTAKE #3: Looking To HerFor Approval Or Permission
In our desire to please women (which we mistakenly think will make them like us), us guys are always doing things to get a woman's "approval" or "permission".
Another HORRIBLE idea.
Women are NEVER attracted to the types of men who kiss up to them... EVER.
Don't get me wrong here.
You don't have to treat women BADLY for them to like you.
But if you think that treating a woman well means "always getting her approval and permission for things", think again.
You will never succeed by looking for approval. Women actually get ANNOYED at men who seek their approval.
Doubt me? Just ask any attractive woman if Wussy guys who chase her around and want her approval annoy her...

MISTAKE #4: Trying To "Buy" Her Affection With Food And Gifts
How many times have you taken a woman out to a nice dinner, bought her gifts and flowers, and had her REJECT you for someone who didn't treat her even HALF as well as you did?
If you're like me, then you've had it happen a LOT.
Well guess what?
It's only NATURAL when this happens...
That's right, I said NATURAL.
When you do these things, you send a clear message:
"I don't think you'll like me for who I am, so I'm going to try to buy your attention and affection".
Your good intentions usually come across to women as over-compensation for insecurity, and weak attempts at manipulation. That's right, I said that women see this as MANIPULATION.

MISTAKE #5: Sharing"How You Feel" Too Early InThe Relationship With Her
Another huge and unfortunate mistake that most men make with women is sharing how they "feel" too early on.
Attractive women are rare.
And they get a LOT of attention from men.
Most men don't realize this, but attractive women are being approached in one way or another ALL THE TIME.
An attractive woman is often approached several times a DAY by men who are interested. This translate into dozens of times per week, and often HUNDREDS of times per month.
And guess what?
Attractive women have usually dated a LOT of men.
That's right. They have EXPERIENCE.
They know what to expect.
And one thing that turns an attractive women off and sends her running away faster than just about anything is a guy who starts saying "You know, I really, REALLY like you" after one or two dates.
This signals to the woman that you're just like all the other guys who fall for her too fast... and can't control themselves.
Don't do it. Lean back. Relax.
There's a much better way...

MISTAKE #6: Not "Getting" How Attraction Works For Women
Women are VERY different from men when it comes to ATTRACTION.
You need to accept this fact, and deal with it.
When a man sees a beautiful, young, sexy woman, he INSTANTLY feels a sexual attraction.
But does the same apply for women?
Do women feel sexual attraction to men based mostly on looks? Or is something else going on?
Well, after studying this topic for over five full years now, I can tell you that women usually have their "attraction mechanisms" triggered by things OTHER than looks.
Have you ever noticed that you see a lot more average and unattractive men with beautiful women than the other way around?
Think about it.
Women are more attracted to certain qualities in men... and they're attracted to the way a man makes them FEEL than they are to looks alone.
If you know how to use your body language and communication correctly, you can make women feel the same kind of powerful sexual attraction to you that YOU feel when you see a hot, sexy young woman.
But it's not an accident. You have to LEARN how to do this.
And ANY guy can learn how...

MISTAKE #7: Thinking That ItTakes Money And Looks
One of the most common mistakes that guys make is giving up before they've even gotten started... because they think that attractive women are only interested in men who have looks and money... or guys who are a certain height... or guys who are a certain age.
And sure, there are some women who are only interested in these things.
But MOST women are far more interested in a man's personality than his wallet or his looks.
There are personality traits that attract women like a magnet...
And if you learn what they are and how to use them, YOU can be one of these guys.
YOU DO NOT have to "settle" for a woman just because you aren't rich, tall, or handsome.
Let me say this again: If you know how to use your body language and communication correctly, you can make women feel the same kind of powerful sexual attraction to you that YOU feel when you see a hot, sexy young woman.

MISTAKE #8: Giving AwayAll Of Your Power To Women
Earlier I mentioned that it's a mistake to look to a woman for approval or permission.
Well, another similar tactic that a lot of guys use is GIVING AWAY THEIR POWER to women.
Said differently, guys try to get women to like them by doing whatever the woman wants.
Another bad idea...
Women are NEVER attracted to men that they can walk all over... Women aren't attracted to Wussies!

MISTAKE #9: Not KnowingEXACTLY What To Do In EachType Of Situation With Women
Now I'm going to blow your mind...
A woman ALWAYS knows what you're thinking.
Women are approximately TEN TIMES better than men at reading body language. That's ten TIMES.
I know, it might be hard to believe. But for example, if you're out on a date with a woman, and you want to kiss her, she knows it.
And if you don't know exactly what to do and exactly HOW to kiss her, and you just sit there looking at her and getting nervous, she won't help!
And this goes for ALL aspects of women and dating...
Approaching a woman, getting her number, asking her out, kissing her, getting physical... everything.
If you don't know what to do in each situation, you will probably screw it up... and LOSE EVERYTHING.
And you KNOW it.
It is VITALLY important that you know EXACTLY how to go from one step to the next with a woman... from the first meeting, all the way to the bedroom.

MISTAKE #10: Not Getting HELP
This is the biggest mistake of all.
This is the mistake that keeps most men from EVER having the kind of success with women that they truly want.
I know, guys don't like to make themselves look weak or helpless. We don't like to ask for help.
Hey, I've been there myself.
Let me tell you a little about me and how I figured out how to be successful with women...
About five years ago I became fed up with the fact that I didn't know how to approach, meet, and get dates with women that I was attracted to.
It frustrated the hell out of me.
One night I was out with a friend, and I saw a woman I wanted to ask out, but I just couldn't get up the nerve to do it. I can still remember that night... right on the spot I made the decision to do whatever it took to learn how to be successful with women and dating.
Well, after a lot of hard work and trying all kinds of crazy things, I finally figured it all out.
I can now approach just about any woman and get her number almost instantly. I've dated models, I've dated actresses, and I've dated nice, normal, regular girls as well.
It has been a very rewarding experience. I no longer feel that sick, insecure feeling... like I don't know how to meet women... and I might wind up alone.
I know that anytime, anywhere, I can go out and meet attractive women.
I've written a book on the topic, and I've done seminars on both coasts of the United States... and taught tens of thousands of men all around the world.

I Now Have A FREE, Three-Times-A-Week Email Newsletter...
...But the REALLY GREAT news is that I now publish a free email newsletter three times a week that teaches any guy how to increase his success with women DRAMATICALLY.
And I'd like to invite you to sign up.
It's free, there's no obligation, I'll never share your email address with anyone, and you can easily remove yourself anytime with no hassles (and no, I'll never pull any of these tricks where I send you a bunch of unwanted junk email when you try to remove yourself).
Of course, it even get's better than that...
In addition to my free email newsletter, I also have a killer downloadable eBook that you can download right now and be reading in literally MINUTES from right now.
It's JAM PACKED with dozens and dozens of specific strategies for overcoming fear, approaching women, getting phone numbers and email address from women quickly, great inexpensive or even free date ideas, and how to take things to a "physical" level smoothly and easily."

Ok! And I thought that the way to impress a woman was to master a statistical software package!

Long walks...

Once again, I've done two long walks in one weekend; 28 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. I am a believer in the "back-to-back" long walk method of training.

But, sometimes I wonder if I sign up for ultras just to have an excuse to do these.

Why do I like these walks? Of course, there is the challenge of it all. But, one of the things I like is that I get a chance to see many different kinds of areas, all in the same walk.

When I do the "boredom" section of the walk, I walk through many kinds of neighborhoods, including a predominately African American neighborhood, "bad muffler" neighborhoods, and a "Lexus and BMW" neighborhood. I take in the Illinois river from atop Grandview drive, Glen Oak Park, the zoo, and then the river yet again from the river bank.

Sometimes, I add on a Forest Park Nature center loop which is a forest trail; there I often see deer, wild turkeys, raccoons, chipmunks, among other animals. By the river one can see rabbits, geese and woodchucks.

And, if I am really feeling inspired, I'll cross over Knoxville ave. and Pioneer Parkway to take in a few miles of the Rock Island trail.

So, my long walks amount to scenic tours, and aside from the wear and tear on my walking gear, it is free!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Politics of the Moment

Here are some recent articles/posts that I've found interesting:

First, this is some art to illustrate President Bush in "free-fall":

Next, a nice "I hate Republicans" rant. Of course, I joined right in, though a more accurate way of phrasing it would be "some things I hate about some of the current Republican leadership" but that is just too wordy. For the record, here are a few Republicans that I consider to be "principled members of the other party": Jack Kemp, Ray LaHood, Senator Spector, Senator Graham, Senator McCain, Bob Dole.

My biggest current gripe: those who complain about set-asides for minority businesses and affirmative action, who then go right out and give jobs to cronies and fat no-bid contracts to their friends.

Next: ever hear the rumor that Laura Bush (the First Lady) killed someone while driving? Yes, she ran a stop sign, and yet wasn't even ticketed! And yes, this rumor is true.

Can you imagine the outcry had Hillary Clinton had this in her background? Why Republican wives get such "kid-glove" treatment from the mainstream media is hard to understand. Why the double standard?

Lastly, an interesting analysis of the Harriet Miers nomination from the Wall Street Journal.

Their claim is that the President screwed up by not searching hard enough for this job opening. I am inclined to agree. If *I* were to control things, I'd tell the President to nominate someone else, namely a female with a distinguished record on the bench. Sure, we'd be stuck with another conservative. But let's remember that the SCOTUS does more than decide the issue at hand. They also set precedent; they decide the scope of the ruling.

The actual decisions (the "yes or no"), while important, might not differ that much than if you had a collection of 9 moderately well-informed yahoos in a bar (say, 4 liberal, 4 conservative, 1 independent). But the scope of the rulings; that is what you need the extra constitutional knowledge and experience for.

Saturday, Walks, Foxes and Friends

Right now I am blogging, of course, and watching the ND-USC game. The score is 21-14 ND; each team has either scored or cost itself a score via a turn-over. ND is making a game of it, but the USC players just seem to be just a bit faster. USC will probably win it in the second half, just like they did in their last couple of games.

My blog project: add the blogs and sites that I like. There will be some "big ones" (e. g., Daily Kos, Red State) and I'll add Lynn's, Dude's, Jim's, Tom's, Andy's, and Marshall's personal blogs.

Today's walk: about 28 miles; I walked from our house to the IVS "boredom" course up to Tower Park. Then I went up Prospect avenue (spectacular views) to Mount Hawlley road, followed by a trip across Knoxville, Pioneer Parkway, then up the Rock Island trail for 3.5 miles or so. I didn't go that fast, but I didn't go that slowly either.

But the interesting thing was that, 5 minutes into the walk, I saw a fox! It was sniffing around the bushes in a road median on the Bradley campus. I passed about 20-30 feet away from it. It looked at me and seemed to think "this two-legged thing is too big for me to eat, but too slow to be much of a threat" and went on about it's business of sniffing. I had wondered why I haven't seen more rabbits than I have (they are still there; just not quite so numerous as usual).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Previous post

Had some big time typos. That is the problem when I try to use my "glorified doorstop" better known as my old iMac2.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Democrats: Opposed to the American Dream?

First a couple of comments. I have a friend (Damon Lease) who is doing a 100 mile footrace this weekend. I am not, yet it is unclear as to who will be in more pain; him or I. The reason is that my wife is making me go to dance lessons with her (at our church). Yuck!

Next, I am a Notre Dame football fan and they are playing USC. The game is being hyped up. What this reminds me of is the first time a Lou Holtz Notre Dame team played Miami, who was ranked number 1 at the time. Miami had a couple of lack-luster games prior to the ND game and some thought that they were ripe to be upset. The result was a 24-0 rout in Miami's favor. Seeing that ND was down 38-17 to Michigan State prior to mounting a late rally; well, I can see something similar happening this time. Right now I have ND + 11.5 points; I might go to Yahoo "pick'em" and change my mind. I see something like USC 41, ND 24.

Now back to politics: Tom posted an interesting reply to a previous post; it raises some issues that I have to respond to.

Tom says (in part): (he is responding to my words:

"What bothers me is that we are still only getting 51% of the lowest group. We should be getting 60% or more."

Tom's response:

Ollie, I think there are probably a couple of bad assumptions here. Dems have tried to frame everything as class warfare for so long that it is easy to miss.

Let's assume that the difference is even as the democrats have painted it. They are for helping out the less fortunate with more welfare, more social security, higher minimum wages, free health care, and every other program they can finance by taxing the rich. The republicans are just greedy, rich, Christians who want keep their own money and not help their fellow man by paying their fair share.

Now, if my plan is to always be poor, clearly the democrats offer a much more comfortable option. But if I have dreams of something more, suddenly those who claim to be on my side become hostile toward my goals. If my goal is to work hard and become wealthy, maybe I âm better voting republican now.

But more important are probably the individual's own economic views. You are probably more swayed by the democrat's economic position because you believe it is right than because there is any financial benefit to you. I stopped voting republican while trying to provide for a family as a full-time MBA student because I felt their economic policies were too liberal creating corruption and dependence. Since I was only making about $800 a month between the GI Bill and my assistantship at the time, I fit into that bottom group of poor you are talking about.

If the democrats want to make progress with people on economics, they should talk responsibility and abandon the class warfare. The liberal spending of the republicans has opened a door. Talking about the tax cuts for the wealthy only holds it closed. It indicates to those who are economically conservative that they have nowhere else to go but the republicans. Speak of responsibility, tough choices, and debt we are leaving for our children. I don't actually expect those to stay priorities once they are elected, but those traits are consistent with both democrats and republicans."

I really appreciate this post. Here is my reply: unfortunately, it sometimes appears that we (liberal Democrats) are opposed to the American dream. But no, I have no interest in keeping poor people poor.

Here is my background: My schools were mostly funded by the Department of Defense. I lived in base housing. I had military medical care. I went to a service academy. I had military medical care to repair my damaged knees. I had a federal fellowship and Vbenefitsts to help pay for my graduate school.

So, yes, I worked very, very hard, but I had some help along the way. What bothers me is that there are many, many of my fellow citizens who are trying to play by the rules and work hard. They have no interest in staying poor. But what happens?

A lay-off as their job gets outsourced. Maybe one gets seriously ill but doesn't have insurance (or adequate insurance).

Or perhaps they are born into povertreceiveee little in standard preventive medicine or dental care and have poor nutrition. They go to a substandard school.

For many, the American Dream is a myth that is not based in reality. And for many who have made it; we'll let's just say that they notice only their work (very real) and perhaps dismiss the role that good luck had (luck of being born to a good family, luck of not having gotten a horrible illness, etc.)

And don't even mention that coke-head, drunk driving, sorry excuse for a human being that we have as a president. Had he been born poor, he'd have ended up in prision.

And there are those who had good manufacturing jobs that have been lost. Many of these simply don't have the ability to learn the high tech stuff. What becomes of them?

Yes, I know that we all have different abilities. Not all of us will drive BMW's or have plasma TV's. I am fine with that. And yes, some will fail no matter what; there are irresponsible people who constantly behave in self destructive manners.

But darn it, I am not willing to throw people on some "garbage heap" just because they got caught up in hard times or because they got some megaexpensiveee illness. And if that attitude makes me unpopular with yuppies, so what?

As far as class warfare: that is what the Republican's themselves have been waging. Jobs for cronies (while whining about affirmative action!!!!), no bid contracts for their friends (while whining about set-asides for minority businesses!).

Anyway, I know that we aren't going to win the economic conservative voter (though we can talk about responsible spending) nor are we likely to win the upper income white voter. But we can do better with the lower income voter by stressing that we are seeking for ways to make hard work pay off again. We are working to make the American Dream more than a highly improbable myth for many. And we are working to get to a time where a seriously ill person can focus in getting well rather than on trying to get well AND keep their family afloat financially.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Top of the Morning: Winning the Blue Collar Vote, Revisited

First, The Nation's Katrina vanden Huevel alerted me to the following:

"In a fascinating paper called "What's the Matter With What's the Matter with Kansas?", Princeton professor Larry Bartels uses data from National Election Study (NES) surveys to test Frank's thesis." (that the poor white voters are now routinely voting against their own self interest). "He examines class-related patterns of issue preferences, partisanship, and voting over the past half-century. Bartels concludes that the white working class hasn't moved right and that "moral values" are not pushing them to vote Republican.
Moreover, for the most part, voters' economic and cultural attitudes are either both liberal or both conservative rather than the bifurcated split Frank sees. Bartels also disproves the argument that there's been a long-term decline in turnout.
Here's a summary of the report's findings if you don't have time to read the full 43 page paper" :

* Has the white working class abandoned the Democratic Party? No. White voters in the bottom third of the income distribution have actually become more reliably Democratic in presidential elections over the past half-century, while middle and upper-income white voters have trended Republican. Low-income whites have become less Democratic in their partisan identifications, but at a slower rate than more affluent whites--and that trend is entirely confined to the South, where Democratic identification was artificially inflated by the one-party system of the Jim Crow era--itself a holdover from the legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
* Has the white working class become more conservative? No. The typical views of low-income whites have remained virtually unchanged over the past 30 years. (A pro-choice shift on abortion in the 1970s and '80s has been partially reversed since the early 1990s.) Their positions relative to more affluent white voters--generally less liberal on social issues and less conservative on economic issues--have also remained virtually unchanged.
* Do working class "moral values" trump economics in determining voting patterns? No. Social issues (including abortion) are less strongly related to party identification and presidential votes than economic issues, and that is even more true for whites in the bottom third of the income distribution than for more affluent whites. Moreover, while social issue preferences have become more strongly related to presidential votes among middle- and high-income whites, there is no evidence of a corresponding trend among low-income whites.
* Are religious voters distracted from economic issues? No. For church-goers as for non-church-goers, partisanship and voting behavior are primarily shaped by economic issues, not cultural issues."

To read the paper for yourself:

What I find interesting is that, among the bottom third of income distribution (among white people), the percentage voting Democrat has risen from 46% to 51%. It is in the middle and upper third, especially the upper third, where Democrats have lost ground.

What bothers me is that we are still only getting 51% of the lowest group. We should be getting 60% or more. As far as the upper portion: they are more or less hopeless. So long as there is gas for their SUV's (even if it is expensive) and it isn't their kids that will be getting killed in wars, they aren't about to sacrifice their tax cuts for the common good.

Next we have a fun "anti-Bush rant" by Bill Maher, which I was made aware of by the Daily Kos.

It reads, in part:

"New Rule: George Bush must meet some new people.
When Americans see their president giving every job to the same old cronies, they use words like "loyal to a fault" and "stubborn" and "close-minded." "Lives in a bubble."
"Sock-puppet." "Asshole." "Worst president ever."
But they're missing the point. The problem isn't his political philosophy---kill people and animals and take their gas---the problem is he has to expand his circle of friends beyond his mom, Karen Hughes and the House of Saud...
[Last] week President Bush had to nominate a Supreme Court judge, and he picked the most qualified person within 30 feet of his office. Her qualifications: well, she is a lawyer and former commissioner of the Texas State Lottery. And she's seen every episode of "Judging Amy." Abortion, affirmative action, separation of church and state? Yeah, let's ask the lady who peddled scratch tickets to liquor stores...
You know, Mr. President, when you got elected, we all figured you were no genius, but smart enough to hire qualified people. But it turns out you're just a dimwit who enjoys feeling superior. And the only way to accomplish that is to surround yourself with the likes of Mike Brown and Harriet Miers: Goober and Aunt Bea. Unspectacular souls who make you feel comfortable and unthreatened."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Characters One Meets While Doing Ultras

People who run (or walk) ultras are a bit, uh, "different". For the non-sporting: an "ultra" is a footrace that goes beyond a marathon; common distances are 50K (31 miles), 50 mile (80 km), 100 km (62 miles), 100 miles, (or longer!) or races of a certain time duration (6, 12, 24 or even 48 or 72 hours).

Ultras are often run on trails (which can have roots, be rocky or hilly) but are sometimes done on groomed trails, asphalt bike paths, roads or even a standard 400 meter track (in the case of a 24 hour race).

Challenges include the terrain, sometimes altitude, and extreme weather (example: the Badwater Ultramarathon is run on a 135 mile course during the summer in Death Valley). There are usually cut-off times for ultras; these range from 7 hours (road 50K), 12 hours (trail 50K), 27-48 hours (100 mile races; varies by terrain with "basic trail" 100 milers typically having 30-36 hour limits).

As for me, I've done several, with all but two done as a walker (I walk/jogged a couple of 50K's). My times have varied between 6:20 (road 50K walk) and 8:11 (muddy, hilly trial 50K walk) for the 50k, to 23:40 (track 100) and 34:16 (technical trail) for the 100 mile walk.

Anyway, I am not very good at these events, so let's get back to some of the characters one might meet.

One of them is here:

and another one can be found here:

Fall Break Procrastination

It is Fall Break at my university, and though I have work to do, I am avoiding it at the moment.
Today's topics are
  1. Trip to Illinois Amish Country
  2. Yoga and opposite sex friendships
  3. Politics: heath care, and was Kerry simply a bad candidate?
  4. Politics: some words from "the right".
  • Trip to Illinois Amish Country
Yesterday, Barbara (my wife) and I went to Arcola, IL, to see the Amish stuff. I have to admit to feeling twinges of guilt at seeing a group of people as sort of an exhibit for my entertainment. But, aside from having a good lunch (a Dutch restaurant in the restored downtown area) I did learn something by visiting the Amish Museum. And I got some food for thought.

I was told that the Amish practice of conformity in dress is one of the ways that they surrender self will. Believe it or not, that makes sense to me. If one takes a look at the world that I live in (what they call the "English" world), it appears that we raise little egomeniacs. You see this quite frequently in a university setting; students acting with swagger even if their accomplishments are skimpy (at best) and their abilities are modest (or worse, as is frequently the case!)

But on the other hand, I also learned that an Amish education is quite basic; strictly "need to know to exist in this world" stuff. I couldn't stand that; to me, having intellectual curiosity is one of the things that keeps me alive!

  • Yoga, and opposite sex friendship.

On Sunday, my yoga teacher (Vickie Culbertson) and I drove from Peoria to Galesburg to attend one of Larry Langley's yoga classes. We have done that a couple of times before, and I've gone on my own a couple of times more. Afterward, we got a bite to eat at the Packing House in Galesburg. Because Barbara (my wife) had told me that she was going with a group of church friends (Peoria Universalist Unitarian Church) to Galesburg to eat at the Landmark and then go to a concert, Vickie and I stopped by the Landmark to say "hi". It turns out that the church friends were there, but Barbara wasn't as she had to back out with stomach trouble.

When Vickie and I walked in together, the group of church friends got very quiet and uncomfortable, except for the friend that knows me the best. I wondered what was wrong; then it dawned on me! The ironic thing is that when Vickie first picked me up, she stopped by our house, came into our living room, and had a nice conversation with Barbara! There was nothing clandestine about our short yoga trip.

Oh well; the only way others are going to trust me is for me to live a long, trustworthy life.

Today saw me attending a yoga class (with Ms. Vickie) and then doing a 12 mile racewalk workout which included three 5K repeats with 2:30 active rest in between repetitions. Each 5K segment was done at a 11:42-11:45 mpm pace (36:15-36:20) which is my marathon race pace and my technique felt good. My concentration was a bit off however.

  • Politics

There was a nice diary entry at the Daily Kos which discussed health care issues; namely it made the point that a lack of ability to pay for basic medical care can directly lead to death in poor people. To me, that is a source of great shame to my country and I am glad to see Governor Rod (Blagoivich) addressing this in Illinois.

Also from the Daily Kos: people are still venting off on John Kerry. Why, I am not sure. Yes, he (we) lost the last election. Yes, he wasn't a perfect candidate. But come on; people are acting as if we would have won had we run the right candidate or had our candidate ran a better campaign. What few of us seem willing to accept (as Kathern Pollitt of the Nation did in her column "Mourn") is :

I also don't want to hear carping criticisms of John Kerry. Given that he is a fallible mortal, he was a pretty good candidate. Sure, he made mistakes--not responding instantly to the Swift Boat liars, wearing that silly goose-hunting get-up, letting Bush get away with saying drugs from Canada will kill you--but Bush committed his share of gaffes as well. Any candidate does.


The Kerry campaign may have been a broth with too many cooks, but it did a lot of things right. It raised a ton of money from small and first-time donors instead of relying on big donors, as the Democrats have tended to do for the last decade. It had fantastic labor support. It had MoveOn, America Coming Together and the other 527s, which mobilized intensity, creativity, time and cash and evoked a surge of grassroots progressive activism like nothing in living memory. Hundreds of thousands of people--Democrats, leftists, Greens, independents, Deaniacs, even a few stray Republicans--knocked themselves out registering voters, phone-banking, going door to door; for many, like me, this was the first time they'd volunteered for a presidential campaign.


It's an article of faith among progressives that moving to the left wins votes, and I have written many columns in witness to the creed. But what if it isn't true? What if it wins fewer votes than being a liar and a bigot? [...]

Similarly, some were impatient with Kerry's "nuanced" position on gay marriage, but is there any reason on God's earth to believe there are lots of gay-friendly swing voters or nonvoters out there just waiting for a candidate who wants to let Mary Cheney wed Rosie O'Donnell? Everything we know--the passage of all eleven state bans on gay marriage, for example, some of which go so far as to ban civil unions as well--suggests that Kerry understood quite well where the people were.
OK, you say, that's one of those pesky newfangled cultural-elite issues that alienate the heartland, which yearns for the old-time religion of "economic populism." Kerry's health insurance plan wasn't perfect, it wasn't single-payer, but it would have insured all children and about half the adults currently uninsured--26.7 million people!--and it would have been paid for by canceling Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, something populists should go for. No sale. His plan to help young people pay for college wasn't perfect either, but it was a lot better than what young people are getting now. Result: Young people constituted their usual pathetic proportion of the total vote. And this is after the best efforts of P Diddy, Christina Aguilera, Eminem and virtually every other pop icon except Britney Spears.
The logic of the "Left Is More" position seems to be this: What people really want is a Debs or La Follette who will smite the corporations, turn swords into plowshares, share the wealth and banish John Ashcroft to a cabin in the Ozarks. But since the Democratic Party denies them their first choice, they will--naturally!--pick a hard-right warmaker of staggering incompetence and no regard for either the Constitution or the needs of the people. Better that than settle for a liberal centrist who would only raise the minimum wage by two dollars. In other words, these proto-progressives will consciously choose the greater evil out of what--spite? pride? I scorn your half-measures, sir! Keep your small change!
This makes no sense to me as an explanation of the recent election. It doesn't explain, for example, why Republicans gained in both House and Senate. It doesn't explain why Californians rejected a referendum to amend their three-strikes law so that twice-convicted felons wouldn't get twenty-five years for shoplifting, or why Arizonans voted solidly to bar undocumented aliens from obtaining a wide range of essential public services and to require public servants to report them if they try. It doesn't explain why the Kansas school board is once again a chorus line of creationists.
Maybe this time the voters chose what they actually want: Nationalism, pre-emptive war, order not justice, "safety" through torture, backlash against women and gays, a gulf between haves and have-nots, government largesse for their churches and a my-way-or-the-highway President. "

She said exactly what I thought and felt at the time. And still do.

  • Stuff from Conservatives

A nice article at which talks about how we are squandering our opportunity to win in 2006 and 2008. We ignore this message at our peril:

An entertaining post at Captain's Quarters which urges conservatives to oppose the Miers SCOTUS nomination on principle. I don't know how I feel about this; right now my reaction is to "grab the popcorn" and enjoy the spectacle of conservatives fighting with each other. But if she is really a mediocre candidate, our whole country will suffer if she gets confirmed.

  • Page 3: "behind" the scenes at women's beach volleyball! Ok, this has nothing to do with anything, but anyone who waded through this post deserves a reward. Oh, all right, I am posting these photos to, uh, "protest" the fact that these poor oppressed womyn are forced by our patriarchal society to use sex (or sexual attraction) to market themselves. Ok?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

October 9'th; a walking weekend

In preparations for my upcoming 24 hour race (Dallas, Texas on Thanksgiving weekend) I did my first "back to back" 20 mile weekend. Yesterday, I walked a local 5K race and combined it with a 6 mile warm up and an 11 mile cool down to get 20. (time for the 5K: 31:02) Today, I felt strong the whole way! Afterwards, my yoga teacher drove me to a nearby town for a 2 hour workout, which was followed by dinner at the Packing House. Good stuff!

As a warm up race, I plan to do the Chicago 50K on the 29'th of October (4 weeks prior). I had some ideas of going after Augie Hirt (an ex elite racewalker who taught me how to walk) but seeing that he cruised a marathon at 10:05 mpm (walking); well, I might just let him go.

It was a good week for football: Navy pulled out a squeaker over Air Force, Texas crushed Oklahoma (finally!) and the Cowboys routed the eagles. In heaven, my dad must be smiling.

Of course, the Bears stunk out the joint, but hey, there has to be some sense of continunity around here!

Now back to events and politics.

At the Daily Kos, there was an excellent diary about what Democrats must do to win in places like Ohio:

Basically, the story says that Ohio is a mostly socially conservative area and that Ohio doesn't have a super huge city like Chicago to turn it blue. Hence, Democrats must really focus on "lunch bucket" issues (fair trade, jobs, economic fairness ) to be competitive there.

I really see the point.

I'll be honest: yes, I am a college professor who has facial hair (sometimes), does yoga, is a Unitarian and pretty much a bleeding heart, gay rights loving died in the wool liberal. But where I sometimes get a "pass" for being a long-hair-lib (professors are expected to be eccentric), our party isn't going to win by tailoring its message to my liking. I am not in the mainstream of America (even if I am a Naval Academy graduate and served in the Navy for 4 years). I need to be realistic in my expectations of politicians.

Next, something about our Representative in Congress: Ray LaHood.
He is a Republican and I don't like that. But he voted against the Patriot act, voted for the Freedom to Read act, voted against this huge giveaway to the oil companies (along with *all* of the Democrats, and voted to fund PBS. I found myself saying "thank you for your vote" to him quite often.

To be honest, if more Republicans were like him, I wouldn't have such an intense dislike for that party. I still wouldn't be a Republican as I see the world differently than they do. But he is one that I respect, even if I often disagree with him.

Then again, two of my favorite presidents (Lincoln and T. Roosevelt) were Republicans. But Teddy R. was a Republican back in the days when they stood for civil rights, conservation and stood up to monopolies. Yes, T. Roosevelt didn't shy away from war when it was necessary (or when he thought it was necessary). But when it came time to fight, he suited up and lead the charge! And he could make peace too; he won a Nobel Peace Prize (for mediating the end to the Russo-Japanese war).

Next, there was an interesting local event. A few days ago, I had mentioned in the Daily Kos that I had done some grunt work for local politicians in the Peoria area. Mike Kisler posted a reply and said that I should support a local reporter named Terry Bibo and that she was a "big-time Democrat". The responded to that in her local column (in the Peoria Journal Star). Mike then posted a retraction of his statement as a Daily Kos diary entry:

I was amused. I've read much of Bibo's work and frankly found it to be shallow, hopelessly mediocre and of little value. In other words, Bibo fits right in with the Peoria Journal Star.

The Peoria Journal Star is a Copley owned paper. They really try to be informative and balanced; sometimes their Sunday paper is worth reading. The carry some good columnists (Rasperry and Pitts) and some awful ones (e. g. Cal Thomas, who is an absolute embarrassment). In their religion section, they include articles written by local ministers (of various faiths) and by a religion professor. Some are quite shallow and embarrassingly bad; others (the religion professor's and Father Sweatland's) are quite good. Trivia: Father Sweatland was my Naval Academy class's only Rhodes Scholar (1981).
The PJS also carries an interesting "Roll Call" section where they discuss the major votes (Congress; both House and Senate).

But most of their locally based stuff, with the exception of Mike Bailey's stuff (which is usually quite good), ranges from mediocre to terrible. Bibo, while mediocre, is nowhere near the worst of the lot. Two of the worst are Jerry Klien (who writes a curmudgeon's opinion column on Sundays) and Doug Finke (who writes a Sunday column devoted to attacking Governor Blagojevich called the Statehouse Insider).

I'll admit that Gov. Rod needs to be attacked for many things, but Finke seems to be more interested in attacking to give the reader laughs of the "aren't these politicians morons" variety rather than doing any serious policy analysis. That kind of thing is fine for a personal blog, but kind of lame for a newspaper.

But Klien is the worst of the lot. Once in a while he writes an ok column (for example, he sometimes extols the virtues of walking or of using the public bicycle trails). But mostly, he writes at the level of a "Saturday morning at the barbershop" conversation. His opinions seem to be arrived at without any serious thought; it appears that he merely sits down at the typewriter and writes the first thing that pops into his head.

But, sad to say, he is popular; he reasons at a very "common" level. I'd say that his role is more or less to reflect the thoughts of the average Peorian rather than to stimulate people to think harder and deeper. I think of him as the "Dinnette Set" Intellectual (Julie Larson's excellent cartoon, which is set in central Illinois).

Here is one example of his "work": back in 1993, he actually wrote that it was permissible to kill a baby (and call it an abortion) so long as the umbilical cord was attached! (In Illinois, the standard is "viability of the fetus"). You would think that he would have done 10 minutes of research prior to writing such a stupid thing.