Monday, July 31, 2006

Lack of Senenity

I have to admit: we had a substitute teacher today who has given ok classes in the past. Today, we did poses using a stretch band.

I hated it; I left feeling less serene than when I walked in.

So, this will be my last class until the regular teacher gets back; actually, until I get back from a math conference in two weeks. Still, I'll put in 40-60 minutes daily on my own.

What does this photo have to do with anything? Nothing much really; I wanted to have something positive to say. Today was one of those days were nothing major went wrong, but I kept getting "sand in my shoes and shorts", so to speak. Everything grated on me.

Update: I went to class the next day. I really enjoyed it; we did lots of stuff that was difficult for me, including akward pose and back bends using the balance bar.

This is from What I have to remember about this teacher is that she is very creative, and no one likes all of anyone's creations. And my wife liked last evening's workout, as did other students.

I guess that yoga sessions are a bit like flavors; not everyone likes every flavor.

Update II: someone at pointed out that I can always honestly say "thank you for your time" to a substitute, no matter how bad the class was, as they are freely giving up something to have the class to begin with. I just hate it when someone points out that I was being a horse's ass.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

words of wisdom

From "Asanas, 608 Yoga Poses" by Dharma Mittra.

Page 14:
Still, even with books like this, students should have a teacher available. The guru has gone the route. He or she knows the journey and is able to guide others. He or she knows which poses are good for you and which to avoid. As students grow spiritually and improve their mental patters they'll attract better teachers. Unfortunately there are many certified yoga instructors today who don't know anything about yoga. But student's needn't worry, everything has a devine purpose. Instructors who don't know anything attract students who don't deserve the truth yet. There is a natural order in the world.

Very wise indeed: this applies to many aspects of life and not just yoga.

As we see here, he practices what he preaches.

Last Sunday in July

This morning I had a nice swim (40 x 100 on the 2; 10 were done with a closed fist, 10 were done normally, 10 alternated between fins and normal, and the final 10 had me doing 100 fin IM (fly instead of breast on length 3), 100 free)

Then I jogged two miles; I had to warm up my left knee and I had to focus on landing with a bent knee. Hot sticky days are hard on my knees for some reason.

Now from my yoga blog:

I have really enjoyed the forums on The conversation is fun and I have learned from it.

There was some "snarkiness" over some of the replies getting too long winded and dense. A user asked us to be briefer:
"Haiku if you have to."

So I responded:

You asked for it...

I love my teacher
Of Yoga, she is very
Pretty and limber


Next, someone said: ok, how about a limerick?

So here it went:
I once took a yoga class
Lead by a teacher who took no sass
She put us in a chair
Made out of only air
Until I had a great pain in my ......
Someone else posted about "breakthroughs". I am still trying to learn "peacock feather" and trying to improve on my bhujapidasana (arm pressure pose). I think that I am not putting my arms back far enough; hence I have to "fight" to keep from falling backwards onto my butt.

Next, I was going to make a post about "yoga for swimming" but, you know what? I don't do yoga for swimming, running, walking, mathematics or anything else. I started doing it to help my hamstrings and I want to improve my posture. But basically, I like doing yoga.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Beirut: Fighting taken in stride by many

Obviously, Israel's attack on Lebanon has caused suffering and controversy.

Nevertheless, not all in Lebanon are suffering:

In Christian enclaves of Beirut, life goes on
Nearby attacks aren’t keeping residents from dinners out or dips in the pool
By Kerry Sanders
NBC News

Updated: 12:15 a.m. CT July 28, 2006

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Even with the heavy bombings in Beirut on Tuesday, day 14 of this war, the city looked in places like the vacation resort it usually is.

And into the nights here in Beirut, less than a mile and a half from where the bombs are dropping, a growing number of residents are out, unwilling, they say, to surrender their way of life.

"In Lebanon for 30 years we've been living with a war, so now it's routine for us," says Maurice Melki, who runs a local restaurant. "We can go, we can have a drink, we can have a party at the same time the area next to us they are bombarding, so it's very routine for us, it's very normal."

Former Miss Lebanon Clemence Achkar, out tooling in her convertible Porsche, says she and others feel safe in the Christian neighborhoods — those well-defined areas in this city are not believed to be targets.

“You have two Lebanons," says Achkar. "You have the dolce vita and Lebanon from this side."

And, she says, on the other side, those who support Hezbollah.

"We are not engaged in this war because we didn't ask for it," she says.

Missing from all of this is any sense of guilt. Why? There are 18 separate religious groups in Lebanon. At any given time they're living separate lives.

It's why the death of nearly 400 civilians, who are mostly Shiite Muslims, means different things to different people in Lebanon — why some here say the see little reason to get caught up in this war.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

So, what to think? I see this as hopeless; on one hand, Israel can't sit by and let its population get attacked by rockets (even if the attacks aren't that damaging, most of the time). On the other hand, many Lebanese who are getting killed, wounded and being made homeless have had nothing to do with it.

I don't see a good solution.

Getting there

This Saturday, Olivia and I drove to Jubilee College State Park and did the Whitney "walk/run". We hiked 3 miles there yesterday (and I added a 2 mile jog on grass, and a 4000 yard swim.)

I'll talk about the swim later.

There was a "4K" trail run that started at 7 am and Olivia and I did that. We did the old "walk and jog" during that one and stayed in almost dead last place until the end. The trail was in good shape and we had fun. And I had the pleasure of embarrasing Olivia prior to the race by doing yoga poses to warm up.

The run attracted some rather fit cross country types and some regular runners.

My guess is that this course was probably just short of 3 miles long.

Then, Olivia and I did the 5K road walk. This was the kind of event that attracted many who wore jeans, some who smoked, and, well, not the most athletic throng you've ever seen. Still it was kind of fun and Olivia and I enjoyed ourselves. Every .25 miles was marked.

So it was a nice cause (fund raiser for mental illness treatment and prevention) and Olivia and I put in about 6 miles on foot. She got a bloody little toe; I am proud of her! And I was 100 percent pain free.

As far as my swim the day before, that 4000 yards included two sets of 10 x 100 yd. on the 2 minute. During the first set, I alternated 100 yards of swimming with fins (this was very challenging areobically) with 100 free at faster than 1000 yard race pace. The second set I alternated pull sets (which were easy) with regular free sets.

This workout is a keeper, especially the fin swimming part.

Politics: this, in my opinion, is a good article:

"If this war is so God damn important, why aren't the Bush twins over there in Iraq helping to fight it?"

I hear this complaint all the time in off-the-record discussions about the Iraq War. It personalizes the war. It cuts to the quick about why this war has lost all credibility.

You can argue all day with a die-hard (no pun intended) Republican about the shifting justifications for the war--the 9/11 connection; Saddam's "gathering" threat; the elusive WMD's; liberating the Iraqi people; the preemption of greater conflict; foreign policy confrontation instead of containment; fighting terrorists "over there" instead of "over here"; promoting democracy and freedom; oil; permanent military bases in the Mideast; finishing the mission whatever the hell it is--but you probably won't make any headway: Blah, blah, blah.

But if someone brings up the 24-year-old twins, Jenna and Barbara Bush, watch people squirm.

Mainstream news sources will occasionally provide updates on the Bush twins. Jenna, who was graduated from the University of Texas in May 2004, has been teaching third-graders English and Spanish at the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in the D.C. area. Barbara, a 2004 Yale graduate, works in education programming at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. We sometimes read gossip about parties they've recently attended, along with the color of the cocktail dresses worn on that particular night. You don't, however, hear reporters and national commentators ask the above question (at least not aloud). Why?

I don't think it is an unfair or "cheap shot" question. Or impolite. We've got a war going on. President Bush has billed this war as a noble and supremely necessary cause, rather than a war of choice. Valiant young men and women have trusted the President about the importance of the war. They have responded to his call. They have put their very lives on the line. This war has impacted a lot of families. Jenna and Barbara are able-bodied citizens well within the age of enlistment. Yet they have conspicuously not followed their father's leadership on this urgent life-and-death matter. Why the silence about the twins' not volunteering for military service?

Journalistic protocol deems it out-of-bounds to peer and press into the lives of presidential children while they are minors. But Jenna and Barbara are no longer children. They enjoyed relative privacy throughout their college days, except for some well-publicized drinking incidents. Upon graduation from college, the Washington Post announced that the "kidgloves" treatment was coming off. Yet no one asks Tony Snow the above question (the White House conveniently maintains a strict "no comment" policy on the twins). More important, no one asks Jenna and Barbara the above question.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sorry about that...

I got my nose a bit out of joint over the Yate's verdict. I was in one of those "if a guy would have done it, people would have cried out for his blood and the womyn studies department's would be bellowing on about the evils of patriarchy" type of moods; I got sick of things like this.

Postmodernism, Gross and Levitt conclude, is "prophetic and hortatory rather than analytic", elevates wishful thinking over intractable fact, is systematically hostile to science, and contains whole shiploads of arrant nonsense. So why worry? What is worrying about PM's collection of "intellectual misadventures" is that they "are so well received in non-scientific academic circles, especially on the left, [providing] the route to publication, tenure, reputation, and academic authority for a growing body of would-be scholars".


In the kind of superstition rife in radical feminism it is taken for granted that science is just a "male way of knowing". Science wrongly values reason over emotion, objectivity over subjectivity, mechanism over organism—all of them things that a new and caring feminine science will reverse.

Taking a cue from PM's literary analysts, who spend their lives fussing over the meanings of words, the feminist critique of science minutely examines the writings and thoughts of scientists for sinister metaphors, or omens of the writer's intent, or psychological clues of the kind which so hideously [they say] deform the work of Francis Bacon. Four hundred years ago Bacon had rashly described his experimental method as a way of "forcing nature to give up her secrets".

Well we all know about force don't we? Especially when a 'her' is involved. Force means violence. Violence means rape. And when (say the augurers) the father of Western science, Francis Bacon, writes of scientific experiments designed to 'force nature to yield her secrets' only a fool could mistake his intention.

Believe it or not nothing more substantial than this allows Sandra Harding, for example, in her popular and widely used The Science Question in Feminism, to ask 'why is it not as illuminating and honest to refer to Newton's law as 'Newton's rape manual' as it is to call them 'Newton's mechanics'?'

Yes, I know; this has NOTHING to do with the Yate's verdict. But it has something to do with my emotional reaction to it.

I was ranting without much rhyme or reason (very little of the latter); thanks to dus7 and "anonymous" (who did very well at a recent very long footrace) for setting me straight.

Now, for some fluff (hat tip to the Peoria Pundit):
when you play this video (sorry, no monkey this time), note that the first part is serious; they were interviewing a survivor of that South American plane crash where the survivors had to resort to eating the dead in order to survive. Keep playing it until the local newscasters come on.

And if you don't get the joke, I congratulate you on your purity.

Yoga: more progress

My hip continues to improve all so slowly; I jogged two miles yesterday after swimming, and walked another two at about 13 minutes per mile this morning after yoga.

And yesterday, I finally made it up the West Peoria Cemetery Hill on the bike while staying in the saddle 100% of the time, as did my daughter. We "slapped each other 5" afterward.

We had another parter yoga session yesterday and we are improving. As far as my solo practice, I have gotten a bit better at peacock feather,(Pincha Mayurasana I) though I still bang the wall a bit on the way up. And I get the impression that I am "throwing" my legs upward rather than going up with control.

Also, while looking around, I came across the site from which I got this photo:
I really like it. They have an excellent photo section and they give step by step instructions on how to do the poses.

I also came across this site:; in particular

which has solo and partner yoga photos like these:

Click to see larger images. Anyway, if you like sensual photos (subjects with and without clothes), the whole site is good. If you don't, then stay away. What I can say is that I don't do the back bend nearly well enough to support the weight of anyone else; not even a small person.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yates verdict: IOIYAAW

"IOIYAAW": "it's ok if you are a woman".;_ylt=Aq7UbeuRa_EyuipwezAY6Q1Z.3QA;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--

A jury on Wednesday found Texas mother Andrea Yates not guilty by reason of insanity in the drownings of her five children, ages 6 months to 7 years, in the bathtub of their Houston home five years ago.

The decision means Yates, 42, will go to a state mental hospital for treatment until a judge decides she is sane enough to be released, a process which could take years.

Yates, who is being treated with anti-psychotic drugs, looked stunned and tears welled up in her eyes when the verdict was read.

She was found guilty in a 2002 trial and sentenced to life in prison for the crime but had to retried because the conviction was overturned due to flawed testimony.

The jury of six men and six women began deliberations on Monday and reaching their verdict on Wednesday morning.

Yates had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts when, on June 20, 2001, she drowned Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, six months, one by one in the family bathtub while husband Rusty Yates was at his job at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Witnesses for the defense said Yates suffered from a delusion induced by postpartum psychosis that drowning the children would spare them from damnation.

Prosecutors agreed that Yates was sick but said she was sane enough to know killing the children was wrong.

The case became a cause celebre for women's groups and mental health advocates, who said postpartum depression was inadequately treated in many cases.

In the first trial, prosecutors sought the death penalty for Yates, a former nurse and high school valedictorian, but the jury gave her a life sentence.

Yates was in prison most of the past four years before her conviction was overturned on appeal because the prosecution's star witness had given false testimony. [...]

So, when a soldier snaps under battle and kills civilians, he is held accountable. But here, nope.

So, when I see the next "Clothesline Project" display of t-shirts, I'll look for a shirt that says: "Oh Mommy, why did you drown me in the bathtub?" "Mommy, why did you lock me in the car, roll up the windows, and send the car into the lake?" Or "Mommy, why did you throw me off of a bridge?" "Mommy, why did you beat us to death with a baseball bat?"

A collection of such stuff can be found here:

Accountability is only for men.

Check out some of the comments at the Daily Kos:

It amazes me that people who stick up for women who do bad things while having postpartum depression are so quick to condemn soldiers for what they do when they are subjected to things like intense heat, battle and living in constant tension of being killed or maimed for life.

It is almost enough to make a Republican out of me. But not quite.

Democrats, Black Kids and Rubber Sidewalks

First about my athletics: an ok (good but not great) swim of 4000 yards, which included 5 x 50 "swim golf" reps with 50 back recovery (48/42, 46/39, 46/40, 45/41, 46/40), then 1000 in 17:28 (4:18, 8:42, 13:06).

Then I had an easy 2 mile jog in the light rain. My body isn't used to running as yet, but my hip didn't hurt.

Later, Vickie and I are scheduled to practice parter yoga prior to her regular class.

Now for the issues of the day:

Rubber Sidewalks
An article on this appeared in today's Peoria Journal Star. I am excited about this: these sidewalks, while not as "bouncy" as a rubber track, are far easier on the knees than concrete sidewalks. Evidently, they are more durable than concrete as well, though they are more expensive at the outset. I couldn't find the exact article that the Journal Star used, so I used google to come up with this:

Is Rubber The Future Of Sidewalks?
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y., July 12, 2006
(Christian Science Monitor) This article was written by Matt Bradley.

Every fall, Richard Valeriano spends all day, every day, staring at sidewalks that have been busted and broken by tree roots.

But the idea to build sidewalks of rubber didn't come to Valeriano during the day. It came to him at night in a dream. "I went home and the image was lodged in my subconscious," says the senior public works inspector for Santa Monica, Calif. "But in my dream, the sidewalks were moving. They were twisting and turning like waves on the ocean."

Although making sidewalks out of rubber seemed "kind of preposterous," Valeriano acted on the idea in 1998. Thanks to some partnerships and public grants, his rubber reveries are now very much a reality. Some 130,000 square feet of rubberized sidewalks grace about 60 North American cities, giving local governments an alternative to concrete and its attendant pitfalls, such as rising prices, exorbitant trip-and-fall lawsuits, and a trail of chopped-down urban trees.

"In the early days, whenever you'd say that to someone, they'd just burst out laughing," says Lindsay Smith of her company, Rubbersidewalks Inc., which she founded in 2001 with inspiration from Valeriano's vision. "There would be disbelief at first, because we think of sidewalks as synonymous with concrete."

Smith's company, a for-profit firm based out of Gardena, Calif., recycles discarded tires to make premolded sidewalk pavers — which she uses as a big selling point.

Unlike concrete, which is poured and set on location, the prefab rubber squares arrive from its California factory and are cut to fit. Installers usually place Rubbersidewalks pavers over a bed of crushed granite and connect the pavers using interlocking dowels. The result: a sidewalk with a two-inch-deep footprint — far shallower than its concrete cousins. To repair a rubber sidewalk, workers simply unlock the dowels and remove the individual paver.

Each square foot of rubberized sidewalk contains almost one discarded tire. Americans generate about 290 million waste tires a year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association in Washington — many of which languish in junkyards or are burned. As Smith sees it, there should be no shortage of rubber solutions.

"Our goal is to have rubber sidewalks in every municipality in the United States, to eliminate the problems that concrete causes," Smith says. "I think in five years, there will be rubber sidewalks everywhere."

Another reason Smith classifies her firm as a "green tech" company is its service to urban foliage. When faced with replacing sidewalks or razing streetside trees, many cities choose the latter, less-expensive option.

Biggest Hurdle

That's not to say Rubbersidewalks Inc. — which so far is the only name in the business — sells its rubbery wares on the cheap. Individual panels can be double or triple the cost of concrete, depending on how far the pavers are shipped to their final resting places.

New Rochelle, N.Y., which installed a 400-square-foot tract of rubberized sidewalks two years ago, paid $20 per square foot of Rubbersidewalks pavers imported from California, compared with $8 for traditional, local concrete.

In April, the District of Columbia installed about 4,000 square feet of rubber sidewalk, at a cost of $60,000. The investment, however, may have saved 35 half-century-old trees, which John Deatrick, the district's chief engineer, values at about $40,000 to $50,000 each.

"The advantage is that you can effectively drape the rubber sidewalk over the tree roots. When you do concrete, in order to get a smooth walking area, you tend to trim the roots," says Deatrick.

"Finding some way to preserve our investment in trees, if you want to look at it in dollars and cents, is the driving financial factor here," he says. "Unfortunately, we've killed a lot of trees doing sidewalk work over the years."

Also in the dollars-and-cents category: The district spent $7 million to repair concrete sidewalks in 2005. Beyond that, it is fighting three trip-and-fall lawsuits related to sidewalks.

Rubbersidewalks plans to open a new factory in Lockport, N.Y., in the fall, a move it hopes will cut costs to customers in the eastern half of the country. Still, the cross-continental cost of transporting the tiles amounts to only about $1.50 per square foot, Smith estimates.

"I haven't determined if it's cost-effective," says Jeffrey Coleman, New Rochelle's commissioner for public works. The city installed a stretch of rubberized walkway to preserve one of its older and more scenic tree-lined streets. "We wouldn't put this in our downtown. In a downtown area, if you have to take a tree down, it's not the end of the world."

So far, Coleman is impressed that the material hasn't cracked after two New York winters. "It's flexible, pliable. That's one of the nice features," he says. "I figured they would have been beat up by a snow shovel or something."

The Underfoot Experience

So, what's it like to tread on a rubber sidewalk? No bounce, it turns out, but the walkway on Summit Manor Road in New Rochelle definitely has more give than your run-of-the-mill sidewalk, especially where tree roots have shifted the ground beneath the rubber. It's akin, perhaps, to the surface beneath a state-of-the-art playground.

As for the street's linden trees, they've turned the concrete walks into something resembling a snowless mogul run. The Rubbersidewalks pavers, however, lie serenely, appearing almost smug in their rubberness.

"They're wonderful. We're the envy of the neighborhood," says Anne Gargan, who lives in front of the city's small experiment. She and her husband plan to petition the city for rubber's expansion. "They're pleasant to walk on. They rise and fall with the trees."
Killing of Black Kids

Next Leonard Pitts has another excellent column. Though he avoids using the word "racist", in effect he argues that it is indeed racist to say that "white on white" child killings is an American problem (which it is) but to say that "black on black" child killings is NOT an American problem but rather a "black community" problem.

Killing of kids a problem for the whole nation

We begin with the obvious: Florida is an American state. Miami is an American city. And Sherdavia Jenkins, who died in Miami, Florida, just over two weeks ago after being struck by random bullets, was an American child.

So I would have thought it uncontroversial to observe, as I recently did in this column, that her death and the indiscriminate slaughter of American children -- in Miami or anywhere else -- qualified as ''an American problem.'' Apparently, I was wrong. That is, at least, the feeling of dozens of folks who've written in correction and rebuke.

True enough, they say, Florida is an American state and Miami an American city, but Sherdavia was an African-American child. Her suspected killers were also black. Therefore, her murder was not an American problem. It was, rather, a black problem, and only a black problem, born of black dysfunctions for which black people, as Bill Cosby has recently said, bear the onus.

To call me appalled is to understate.


Similarly, even those who live on the good side of town far from the grimy inner city where Sherdavia died are affected by conditions there, if only through higher police costs, the loss of businesses from the inner city, the disintegration of families, the decimation of the tax base, the failure of schools and the resultant proliferation upon our streets of undereducated, poorly socialized young women and men who have known little but privation and violence all their lives. You think that proliferation doesn't endanger you? You're living in fantasy land.

For all that, though, what appalls me most isn't the inaccuracy of what people said, but the niggardly coldness of it.

A few years ago, this nation suffered a spate of random school shootings in places like Conyers, Ga., West Paducah, Ky., Pearl, Miss., Santee, Calif. and Littleton, Colo. Virtually all the shooters were white, as were the majority of the victims. The anguished reporting of news magazines, newspapers and cable news anchors clearly identified this as an American crisis. I don't recall anyone contradicting them, don't remember any black activist, preacher or columnist arguing that since it was white boys doing the killing and white kids doing the dying, it was white people who had the problem.

How callous such a statement would have been.


I've said it before, I'll say it again: I'm not mad at Bill Cosby. Not only do I support much of what he has said in recent years about the need for African Americans to take ownership of their own problems, but I was saying it publicly before he was. It is painfully obvious to me that many black folk have failed to pick up the gauntlet of the civil rights movement, failed to confront the myriad dysfunctions of our communities.

But here's the thing: As culpable as we are for failing to confront those dysfunctions, we did not create them. They were created for us by our white countrymen. For criminy sake, read a history book! I'm sorry, but black poverty didn't just happen. Black unemployment didn't just happen. Black self-loathing didn't just happen. Black urban misery didn't just happen. The murder of Sherdavia Jenkins didn't just happen.

No, the roots of these obscenities go deep. And wide.

So yes, people, the indiscriminate murder of black children is an American problem.

Too bad ignorance is, too.

Timid, ununited Democrats
Finally, Nicholar Von Hoffman takes Democrats to task for failing to stand up to Republicans, even when Republicans are obviously screwing up. He correctly points out that we Democrats are more of a confederacy than a united front. I blogged about this earlier.

Once again, there are the D's out in the pasture with no horns and no balls. They had it done to them two years ago, when they and their candidate, John Kerry, allowed themselves to be ruined by the Swift Boat Veterans nonsense. How in Sam Hill does a national political party which led the United States into four major wars in the last century get itself tabbed again and again by its opponents as the cut-and-run party, the party of woofters, poofters and wankers?

This has been going on since the Civil War, as the Democrats have been successfully and successively defined by the G.O.P. as the Copperhead pro-slavery party, the soft-on-communism party and now the soft-on-national-defense party. What makes Democrats so wussy?

The D's are the party of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails, the party of leftovers. Historically, the Republicans have been the WASP party, the party with its evangelically tinged Protestant core always wedded, of course, to an expansionist business interest. Thus built from creation, the G.O.P. has been a stable entity since Lincoln's day regardless of how it may have woven back and forth on topics like big government vs. small government.

The Democrats historically have been the party of what the Republicans couldn't get or didn't want. Prior to the 1970's, for instance, the party did have a big lump of evangelicals, but they were Southerners who were politically marooned by the racial politics born of the Civil War. Once the Republicans traded their black evangelicals for the more numerous white ones in the South, that anomaly disappeared.

For many decades, Catholics stayed away from the Republican Party because it was so deeply and obviously Protestant. Not that many Republicans of an earlier era cared to hobnob with the Poles, Irish, Hungarians and the other beer-swilling, pickle-chomping, pirogi-consuming immigrant Catholic millions. The same for Jews.

Thus, for many decades the Democratic Party was made up of people politically unified by not being Republican. The white Democrats of the South hated high tariffs; the industrial workers of the North felt the same about free trade and so forth.

The party was more of a political confederation, not an organization held together by a common set of beliefs, and its platforms reflected the permanent internal divisions within this organization of perpetual outsiders. What else could one expect from a political body which included the Ku Klux Klan and the very people, Jews and Catholics, that the Klan wished to hang from any convenient tree?

Such a party was a perennial mishmash of compromises, a party whose national electoral victories were dependent on the Republicans screwing up and not on a coherent political program. All the Democratic Presidents since Lincoln owe their election in no small measure to something the Republicans did wrong.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bush, James Bond, Blofeld and SPECTRE

First: I made a new yoga post on my yoga blog:

It is about yoga teachers physicall touching and adjusting their students.

Athletically, I jogged two miles yesterday (pain free) and walked two more today. But slow walking around and standing in one place is still somewhat painful later in the day, so I've brought back the ice bag and the anti-inflamatories.

Now for the main topic:

I have to admit this: I have a love-hate affair with James Bond films. The films are horrible, the acting is atrocious and the plots completely absurd and unrealistic. The special effects in the old films are hilarious.

Nevertheless, I am still drawn to them.

Many years ago, these films caused me a bit of grief; I always thought that something was wrong with me because beautiful women didn't throw themselves at me the way that they did with Bond. I didn't understand FANTASY.

Still, I liked the films. My favorite characters are mostly the villians; in particular I liked Odd Job from Goldfinger. Probably the reason that I liked him was that he (Harold Sakata) was a real athlete in real life; he won a Silver Medal in the 1948 Olympics as a weight lifter. He also had success in body-building as well and went on to become a professional wrestler "Tosh Tongo".

But I digress.

Just the other day, I watched "You Only Live Twice" with my daughter. Partly I did this because she is into Japanese cartoons and You Only Live Twice was set in Japan. Partly I did this because of what happend back when I was an undergraduate (in 1979, 12 years after the film was made). A couple of my buddies went and saw the film. They got interested in the scene in which Blofeld (the arch villian) demanded that his henchmen kill Bond. As he lost his temper he cried: "Kill Bond. NOW!!!!"

My buddies stayed up all night trying to recite that in the proper manner: "It went: Kill Booond, NOW!!!" "No, no, no. It was more like: KILL Boooond, NOWWWW!!!" "No, no, was more like..."

They did this all night long.

The plot of the movie: the opening scene shows an American Gemni Spacecraft being "swallowed" up by another spaceship; the United States claimed that the Soviets did it. Next, a Soviet spaceship met a similar fate. This brings the Soviet Union and the United States to the brink of nuclear war.

But alas, this was a plot of the evil group SPECTRE headed by Blofeld. They were being paid by Communist China to do this. They were launching this evil ship from a Japanese volcano which had a fake lake painted on its metal roof.

Of course, Bond, aided by "Tiger's Ninjas" (Tiger was a Japanese secret service head) and a shapey woman in a small white bikini, saves the day.

The previous photo shows Bond, who is supposed to be undercover as a Japanese, marrying the lady that is going to be running around in that brief white binkini.

Of course this was low-brow entertainment at its best (how did such a project get built in one of the most densely populated nations on earth without anyone knowing? Why does Specter's rocket lift off with so little extra flame and then gently touch down nice and vertically? Why can't NASA do that? Note how the chief villian (here and in other movies) is ruthless, but also very stiff and formal (like your boss?)).

But as I laughed my way though this, I got very uncomfortable. Note that the President of the United States and his top civilian and military advisors were protrayed as rather dull, clueless dummies. The immediately dismissed the intelligence that the British gave him and were getting ready for war.

And of course, the head of SPECTRE (Al Qeda?) hadn't been captured as yet.

The parallels with President Bush and his adminstration were a bit too ominous.

But this plays into the "Bush is dull and clueless" hypothesis, which, in part, lets him off of the hook. Another hypothesis which is more damning:

Weldon Berger: 'Let's have no more talk about Bush's stupidity'
Posted on Tuesday, July 25 @ 10:18:52 EDT
This article has been read 2082 times.

A lot of people think George W. Bush is stupid. It's an understandable mistake: he often acts as though he is. But the truth is worse.

The truth is that the things he doesn't know are things he doesn't want to know. His followers, the ones who also aren't stupid and who aren't simply lying about what they think, are on the same frequency; he and they are deliberately, sometimes heroically, ignorant.

The idea of invading Iraq was a self-evidently stupid one. You needn't have been a top-flight geo-political strategist to realize that. Most of the world picked up on it well before the invasion became a reality. Millions of people went to the trouble of clogging the streets in cities around the world to press the point. Hundreds of people in our own government pointed out the various military, political and civil society pitfalls, and some of them produced volumes of recommendations, studiously ignored, on how to avoid those pitfalls. So arriving at the conclusion that the invasion and occupation was an immensely dangerous and most likely doomed proposition didn't require a lot of smarts; it was simply a matter of not choosing to be stupid.

That's an important distinction. Stupidity is a more or less involuntary condition. Deliberate ignorance isn't. The same distinction applies to the conventional wisdom of an isolated president. Does he live in a bubble? Sure. Does he have to? Unless you think the most powerful man in the world can't get whatever information he wants whenever he wants it, no. Limiting himself to what he hears from a handful of close advisors is a choice.

That was then: At this point, Bush has done so many things that are so irretrievably damaging to so many people that he'd have to be nuts to solicit outside opinions. Who would want to hear that he's caused the needless deaths of a hundred thousand or more Iraqis, with no end in sight? Who would want to hear that he's destroyed the Iraqi middle class and bolstered recruiting for terrorists across the globe, or that he's green-lighted the undoing of the Cedar Revolution, the shining Lebanese moment of which he's so proud?

Not to say he isn't nuts anyway; just that under the present circumstances, few people would be willing to assume a burden of guilt on that scale even if they had the capacity for empathy or guilt or shame, something Bush hasn't demonstrated. The point is that calling him stupid is, as Bush himself would say, a misunderestimation of the degree to which he's responsible for his actions and their outcomes. It's an excuse that oughtn't to be permitted him. He's done what he did because he wanted to.

Source: BTC News

Monday, July 24, 2006

Life of Brian and Today's Democratic Party

Last night the three of us saw Monty Python's Life of Brian on DVD. I just love that movie. There are many scenes that I replay in my mind over and over again, including (just to name a few) the "Blessed are the Cheesemakers", "Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah" at the stoning, "Romans Go Home" (this one was actually used at a teaching seminar as an example of the "drill and kill" technique for teaching language), and the "Biggus Dickus" scene always gets me laughing uncontrollably. And of course, who could forget the "Crack Suicide Squad from the People's Front of Judea, or the song Always Look on the Bright Side, of Life?

But my favorite part is the group: People's Front of Judea, and their squabbles with their hated rival, The Judean People's Front. The photo is from the blog: The Black Line.

Anyway, the point is that, aside from doing nothing but mostly talking (they did try one ill-fated raid), the People's Front of Judea spends much time fighting with other groups who are also anti-Roman, rather than fighting the Romans. I understand this was put into the movie to lampoon Leftist groups in the United Kingdom during the 1970's.

But most modern liberals in the United States can relate to this all too well; check out Burton H. Wolfe's article in the Smirking Chimp. I've included part of it, though I admit that I might be somewhat more "free market" than the author, though I am far from being a libertarian.

Burton H. Wolfe: 'Problem on the left: Kneejerk 'liberals' and fanatic 'progressives''
Posted on Monday, July 24 @ 10:02:23 EDT
This article has been read 615 times.

In the early 1960's,when Lyle Stuart, Paul Krassner, and I were publishing the sole truly "alternative" periodicals, we had the same kind of problem with self-professed "liberals" and "progressives", and others on the so-called "left," that is in evidence today. We could publish 1,666,666 sentences with which one of our subscribers agreed, but if we published one sentence with which he or she disagreed, we would receive a poison pen letter: "I thought you were the one publisher and writer in the world I could trust to tell the truth. I thought you were the one on whom I could depend [meaning depend on always agreeing with ME]. But now you have said [whatever it was]. How dare you say such a thing? You have betrayed me. Cancel my subscription."

Paul used to refer to such individuals as "kneejerk liberals." They have a set mind on 101 positions, and they insist that everyone to be construed as a "liberal" or "progressive" (whatever they might mean by those undefined and undefineable terms) must adhere rigidly to each and every one of those positions. If any one of them is not met, the person who deviates from it is the enemy with whom there will be no compromise.

I found the same problem when I tried to participate with individuals on the "left" in meetings, seminars, efforts to organize a platform, and the like. The participants were so occupied with tearing each other to pieces that they could not agree on a united front for social reform. Today that remains one major reason, though not the only reason, why people on the so-called "left" (however that term may be defined) have limited influence on national and international affairs.

The Common Goals

To be a "liberal" means that you believe in freedom of expression and the right to disagree on issues. To be a "progressive" means that you believe in the need to do whatever may be possible to advance the well being of humanity. No matter how you may define "liberal" or "progressive," you cannot be one if you are an unyielding fanatic who develops dogmatic positions from which there can be no disagreement. This is not to say that there are no moral imperatives to be adopted. Of course there are. They relate to civil and constitutional rights, compassion, peaceful cooperation, and above all the recognition that being brothers and sisters caught in the same trap - born to live for what is no more than a snap of the fingers in geological time - we humans ought be doing all that we can to make this short life as comfortable as possible for all and, in the process, to protect the life on earth for which we have become responsible.

Common goals ought to be apparent: Redistribution of wealth, elimination of poverty everywhere, unlimited expenditures of money and resources to prevent disease and to provide affordable or free medical care for everyone, curbs on destructive overpopulation, protection of the environment of the earth and the atmosphere above it, universal freedom of expression, spread of democratic institutions, elimination of all totalitarian regimes of any kind, and the conversion of the U.S.A. today from the present oligarchy run by an aristocracy bent on self-protected wealth and power to a genuine democracy.

Instead of concentrating and cooperating on ways to achieve those common goals, self-professed "liberals" and "progressives" continue to engage in uninformed, bigoted invective that they use to attack anyone who dares to disagree with them on any issue or any segment of any issue. The reincarnation of King George, the aristocracy which runs the nation, loves it.

Humor: no politics whatsoever

I will admit that addicts might relate to this. But watch this if you want a laugh.

Also, I've posted about yoga on my yoga blog. Today's workout went ok; in swimming I got a couple of 41 second 50 yard sprints (that counts as a sprint for me) and 3600 yards total, and I followed it up with an easy 2 mile "run" in the neighborhood.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


It seems as if I am on my way back. Yesterday I walked 4 miles with my daughter; the first 2 were slow and I began to hurt a bit. So I speeded up and the pain went away.

Today I swam 4000 yards and then jogged 2 miles on a flat bikepath. No pain. The swim was fun; I had a nice (for me) 10 x 100 yard free set. I had thought (briefly) of swimming the 1000 at the Journal Star swim meet, but I am not ready yet.

Last night we had a nice social outing with Tracy Harris.

Yoga wise: my experiences are described here. Basically, I am almost to the point where I will be attempting the Peacock Feather Pose away from the wall.

No, my feet aren't that far in front of my body.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

22 July 2007

I had a good swim; 3600 yards which included 20 x 50 yards on the 1 (50 fist, then 50 free; fist were 48-49, free were 46-47; mostly 46). Yeah, slow, but this was done at the Riverplex where one usually sees the worst swimmers. I am in a weird place when it comes to swimming; I am way faster than the typical "get in some laps" swimmer, but way, way slower than your typical Masters Meet swimmer. And don't even talk about college swimmers; they kickboard faster than I sprint.

Anyway, regardless at how well or poorly I stack up against swimmer X, Y, or Z, I am really enjoying it and my shoulders feel great. But this time I am doing yoga and I am really mixing in different strokes.

My hip is feeling better day by day, though I am not getting well as quickly as I would like.
I can't cycle today as I need to get my bike to the shop to get the rear wheel repaired.

Last night, I saw Brokeback Mountain on DVD. Going into the movie, I knew that it was a gay love story. But I was taken aback by the suddenness: you had this situation where these two cowboys became regular friends, got drunk, then one had to sleep out in the open and got very cold. The other told him to come into the tent to get warm, he did and then all of a sudden: BAM.

I suppose the gay viewer would have seen clues that I missed; to me this came in "out of the blue".

If there was a moral, it was probably that gays were not accepted (both of these guys later married heterosexual women and had kids, but continued a long distance affair(s)) and that infidelity causes problems.

And if there is a lesson for me, it is that I need to be careful with my female friends (guys just don't appeal to me).

Now as far as the reviews this movie got: I don't get it. It was ok, but nothing special (save the subject material).

Social Political
1. Issue One: our President just doesn' t get it. What do I mean by this? Look at how he treats others in public:

Hat tip to Dependable Renegade. One day someone is going to haul off and slug this clueless twit.

Next: From the Smirking Chimp, about those "angry liberal bloggers": Paul Waldman points out that those who can't distinguish between the anger displayed by some liberal bloggers and those main stream media types who openly joke about doing violence to people they disagree with (e. g., Ann Coulter) have a big problem.

HOW MANY TIMES have we been told lately about the "angry left," the liberals who have abandoned all reason in their hatred of George W. Bush?

Too many to count, and much of this scorn centers on the Internet, the one news medium where progressives actually hold an advantage over their conservative counterparts.

A few weeks back, David Broder, the dean of the Washington press corps, huffed, "The blogs I have scanned are heavier on vituperation of President Bush and other targets than on creative thought," while Time magazine's Joe Klein recently complained about "all the left-wing screeching" from "frothing bloggers."

Unfortunately, most journalists and pundits are only vaguely familiar with how the blogosphere works. They don't understand the difference between a blogger and someone who posts comments on a blog, for instance - which is in some ways analogous to the difference between a reporter and someone who writes letters to the editor.

They don't appreciate that there are millions of bloggers, most of whom have tiny audiences, but there are some bloggers who matter more than others.

And most of all, they look at the blogosphere through the same prism they use to look at politics more generally, the one that says that extremism from the right is merely clever, witty rhetoric, whose practitioners deserve a megaphone to spread their views, while any sign of aggressiveness on the left signals a worrisome decline in civility and must be condemned and deprived of the media oxygen that might lend it any legitimacy.

The point is not that there's no one on the left who's angry - or even who says despicable things.

But if you want to find a liberal who threatens someone's life, you have to troll the Internet to locate somebody who threw up a comment on someone else's blog, or maybe someone who has a blog read by a dozen or so people.

On the other hand, where do you have to look to find conservatives who toss off hateful bon mots and who advocate violence against their political opponents (or anyone perceived to have crossed the Bush administration)?

You look on the cover of Time or the "Today" show, both of which have featured the repellent Ann Coulter. You go to a lavishly funded right-wing organization like the Horowitz Freedom Center, whose leader, David Horowitz, is a near-constant presence on Fox News, where he can explain the nefarious linkage of liberalism that ties Roger Ebert to Ayman al-Zawahiri. (I'm not kidding. Horowitz put together a bizarre Web site called "Discover the Networks" showing these kinds of links, a disturbing tour of the mind of the conservative conspiracy theorist.)

You turn on your radio, where the conservative hate-monger of the moment celebrates that he has just been given his own show on cable.

And restricting our view to the Internet, if you want to find hateful rhetoric on the right, you don't have to go to an obscure blogger or commenter. You can go to some of the most prominent and well-linked conservative blogs. One recently responded to the Supreme Court's 5-4 Hamdan decision on treatment of detainees by writing, "Five ropes, five robes, five trees. Some assembly required."

When liberals call George W. Bush a liar, they're angry (and stating a fact). When conservatives advocate violence against people with whom they disagree, they are no longer interested in convincing people not to vote for the other side. They have rejected democracy itself. If you don't know which one is more dangerous, you have a real problem.

Paul Waldman is senior fellow at Media Matters for America.

Now to another topic: this cartoon (click to see a larger version)

and this Daily Kos Diary by Cheeky Beaky Buzzard

reminded me of a historical figure that I deeply respect: Williams Jennings Bryan.

As the diarist says:

No one remembers William Jennings Bryan anymore, and if they do it's just as that doddering loony fundie in "Inherit the Wind." But that's doing all of us a disservice, because we need a leader like him right this very minute.

Bryan was nominated for president by the Democratic Party three times (1896, 1900, 1908). He never won. Then as now he faced a well-heeled Republican juggernaut. But he was absolutely beloved by millions. And he was a Christian liberal.

Yes, Bryan was wrong about evolution. Completely wrong. But let's remember that he was mostly against social Darwinism rather than against biological Darwinism; he had no problems with an "old earth" and animals evolving. He just couldn't stomach humans not having an inherent dignity.

Let's also remember that the Scopes trial was instigated by the ACLU to challenge Tennessee state law (and I approve of this challenge); Scopes wasn't sought out for prosecution as depicted in the film/play Inherit the Wind.

Anyway, Bryan was a giant who accomplished much good.

As I commented:

Bryan was Secretary of State under Wilson:

Bryan generally opposed gunboat and dollar diplomacy in Latin America and sought to make amends for past U.S. interventions. He facilitated a $25 million indemnity for Columbia for territory lost to Panama.

He also fought for women's suffrage (and it breaks my heart to remember that Clarence Darrow was against this)

Political Legacy
Bryan's contributions to American political and social history far exceed most presidents. For example, Bryan is credited with early championing of the following: (1) graduated income tax (16th Amendment), (2) direct election of U.S. senators (17th Amendment), (3) women's suffrage (19th Amendment), (4) workmen's compensation, (5) minimum wage, (6) eight-hour workday, (7) Federal Trade Commission, (8) Federal Farm Loan Act, (9) government regulation of telephone/telegraph and food safety, (10) Department of Health, (11) Department of Labor, and (12) Department of Education.

Of course he was wrong about evolution. But remember that he was mostly opposed to social Darwinism and he (mistakenly) thought that biological Darwinism lead to social Darwinism. He had no problem with the earth and the animal kingon (with the exception of humans) evolving; in fact at the Scopes Monkey Trial, he testified that the "days" in Genisis were in fact, "periods of time".

And also remember, Scopes was basically talked into turning himself in so the ACLU could get a trial to challenge the law; it wasn't the way it was portrayed in "Inherit the Wind" (hence the name change from "Bryan" to "Brady" and "Darrow" to "Drummund".

Friday, July 21, 2006

Rainy Friday: Politics

Nice use of your first veto, Mr. President.

As far as what has happened recently, I think that the following article describes it well:

Ed Naha: 'Animal House diplomacy'
Posted on Friday, July 21 @ 10:25:41 EDT
This article has been read 2463 times.

Boy, it's danged hard being President. Why, just this week alone Dubya had to come down hard on stem cell research (ignoring the plight of millions of ill Americans), disregard the chaos in Iraq, give a "thumb's down" on the global call for an immediate cease fire in the undeclared Israeli-Lebanese war and, in fact, blow-off the entire carnage, pinning the blame on Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and elves. (He even went so far as to mention "Hezbollian" rockets, as opposed to the Israelian ones or the plight of the Lebanonian army.)

And this came just days after making such a big impression at the G8 Summit, wherein, surrounded by seven distinguished leaders, he freaked out German Chancellor Angela Merkel by giving her an impromptu kamikaze neck rub, remained oblivious to Russia's Vladimir Putin's sarcastic asides, chewed on dinner rolls ala Jerry Lewis in his prime, avoided the press, twitched and gyrated behind the podium like he had six squirrels stuffed down his shorts and was caught, via an open mic, opining that Hezbollah has to "stop doing this shit..." Truly, it was an inspiring demonstration of what political scholars refer to as "Animal House Diplomacy."

The author goes on to give an imagined conversation, using some of the actually open microphone dialogue.

Next, I'll talk about the most recent issue of The American Conservative. The July 31'st issue has several articles that are of interest to Democrats. There is an article by Steve Sailer that talks about how we aren't speaking to middle class America; I don't agree with all of this article but there is much there.

Some of these concerns were expressed in Senator Bayh's "Middle Class Speech", some of which are discussed here:

Bayh wants renewed focus on middle class
Potential presidential candidate say Dems must heed him or risk failure

Updated: 2:46 p.m. CT July 17, 2006

WASHINGTON - Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, a potential presidential contender in 2008, said Monday the party needs to strengthen its appeal to middle-class Americans or risk defeat in the next two elections.

"We may consider ourselves the party of the middle class but too many middle-class Americans no longer consider us their party," Bayh said in a speech at the National Press Club.

"They have left the Democratic Party in droves, costing us the last two presidential elections and the last six congressional elections. If we don't learn some lessons, we'll lose in 2006 and 2008 as well," said Bayh, one of about a dozen Democrats considering a presidential run.

"We have both a patriotic responsibility and a political imperative to reclaim our legacy as the party of the middle class by fighting for their interests," the former Indiana governor said before flying to Iowa, site of the traditional kickoff caucus in the White House race, to repeat his middle-class message.

Bayh's agenda
Bayh proposed several measures to create economic opportunity for the middle class, including a $6,000 tax credit to make college more affordable, a plan to cut health insurance premiums for 57 million middle-income Americans and a program to boost retirement savings.

Bayh said the Democratic economic agenda too often ignored the middle class. He cited efforts to raise the minimum wage and the recent call by former Sen. John Edwards, his potential presidential rival, to eradicate poverty.

While both were worthy goals, he said, they did not directly address the challenges facing the middle class. "We must re-establish the Democratic Party as the instrument of middle-class progress," he said.

Bayh criticized President Bush and White House political adviser Karl Rove for focusing on politics at the expense of the middle class, saying "inaction, incompetence and ideological extremism" had led them to ignore growing economic problems including rising gas prices, health insurance costs and national debt.

"Washington is broken," said Bayh, a two-term senator.

He said he was not discouraged by opinion polls showing him in low single digits in support among Democrats. Polls showed Edwards in a similar spot in 2002 and 2003, he said, and Edwards eventually finished a strong second in Iowa in 2004.

"There is something kind of liberating about being an underdog," Bayh said, adding with a laugh, "We've managed expectations fairly well here."

But Sailer's article goes further. It talks about how Democrats appear to consist of many groups of special interests (civil rights activists, gay rights activists, feminists, labor union members) that, at least most of the time, appear to not like each other. And, let's face it: it is obvious that there are groups of people that I don't like (at least on a personal level, though I think that they deserve good jobs, health care, and peace), and I think that many of my liberal friends share at least some of my attitudes.

For example, I was amused by this:

I sent it to a friend of mine (a progressive who lives in Kansas). He replied:
An amusing piece. Definitely one that will rally the troops. However, if the democratic leadership does not get beyond the contempt for “regular folks” I see in parts of the movie, they will never continue to lose election after election. I’ve been reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in preparation for Meet and Confer. Know the enemy. If we believe they are idiots, and fight them like they are idiots, it is we who are the idiots.

Getting back to The American Conservative articles,
Senator Byron Dorgan has an article that talks about the high price we pay for Wall Mart's low prices, (see Susan G.'s Daily Kos book review of Dorgan's book Take This Job and Ship it) and Bill Kauffman reviews Jeff Taylor's book: Where Did the Party Go? William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey and the Jeffersonian Legacy. I still have to read James Pinkerton's article New Deals and Old Answers.

Rainy Friday

Today, I wasn't as intellectually active as I'd like; ok, I didn't get squat done on my new math paper.

Physically, I got in 4000 yards of swimming, which included a 1500 yard free set in 26:39 with 500 yard splits of 8:46, 8:51, 8:50, followed by 10 x 100 IM (first 5 were with fins on the 2, doing the fly for the breast, next 5 were on the 2:30 with naked feet). Don't laugh about how slow my swim times are; I am painfully aware how bad they are.

Then I got 10 miles of cycling with my daughter on the East Peoria Rivertrail. The only downer is that I hit a pothole on the way back and messed up my rear wheel; a couple of the spokes are lose and the tire is now out of balance (it wobbles as it rotates).

Over lunch, I worked out with Vickie on partner yoga; this time in a studio with mirrors. We are getting better together though I am still holding her back somewhat. She is much better than I am, but then again, since she is the instructor, it should be that way.

One of our joint poses is triangle; here we see the "reverse triangle" being done with partners (Vickie and I keep our backs together):
This photo comes from
which is a good but not very updated personal blog. But her associated photo set is outstanding:

It contains photos (mostly color) like these. This is "reverse bound warrior" or "revolved lateral angle" (PARIVRTTA PARSVAKONASANA); I think that this is outstanding.
This is the regular bound warrior:

Taken from: . The whole photo spread here is worth a look.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Olivia on the Bike

Today, there were two bike rides that interested me. The first one was a race, and the second one was not. First, the race:

At the Tour De France, Floyd Landis shook off a bad stage to win the 17'th stage (the last one in the Alps) to move from 11'th place (8 minutes behind the lead) back up to third. He had been second going into the 16'th stage.

Landis vaults back into Tour title hunt

By JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer 27 minutes ago

In a stunning turnaround a day after he was all but written off, American rider Floyd Landis moved back into contention at the Tour de France on Thursday, winning the final Alpine stage in a solo finish to jump from 11th to third.

Landis, who lost the leader's yellow jersey Wednesday after struggling at the uphill finish, bounced back by bursting ahead of the main pack in the first of three tough ascents in the 17th stage.

"I was very, very disappointed yesterday for a little while," Landis said. "Today I thought I could show that at least I would keep fighting."

"I wasn't giving up just yet," he added.

The stage win was his first at the Tour in five appearances.

"He reacted like a great champion," said France's Cyril Dessel, who fell from fourth to seventh place overall.

Landis, who's riding on an injured right hip that will be replaced after the Tour, entered Thursday's stage in 11th place, trailing Pereiro by 8 minutes, 8 seconds. Afterward, he jumped to third — 30 seconds back of Pereiro. Spaniard Carlos Sastre is second, 12 seconds behind.

With the tough Alpine climbs over, Saturday's individual time trial shapes up as a crucial test in this year's topsy-turvy Tour. The race against the clock — a 35.4-mile course that snakes from Le Creusot to Montceau-les-Mines — is similar in length to the Stage 7 time trial but features more hills. Landis finished second overall in that time trial, 1:10 faster than Sastre and 1:40 ahead of Pereiro.

Seven different riders have worn the yellow jersey since the three-week race, which ends Sunday, began July 1. With his second astonishing ride in the Alps, Landis has not given up on winning the Tour.

For three days, Landis' performance has echoed the hills and valleys of the brutal Alpine stages.

Tuesday, Landis reclaimed the yellow jersey from Pereiro after a spectacular ride up the famed L'Alpe d'Huez. The ride set the stage for Landis to dominate the punishing and crucial mountain stages.

But Wednesday, Landis — abandoned by his teammates — fell apart, barely moving up the final torturous climb as rider after rider passed dropping him to 11th place. Landis' comments Wednesday night — his thoughts only on a cold beer — left little hope the cyclist would recover.

In a striking reversal Thursday, Landis took control with about 79 miles to go in the 124.3-mile stage, taking off on the first of three tough ascents. Rivals Sastre and Pereiro could not keep up.

Landis pumped his right fist in celebration as he crossed the finish and hopped off his bike after completing the stage in 5 hours, 23 minutes, 36 seconds. [...]

Now, for the second bike ride, at a more mundane level. I took Olivia from my house to the West Peoria Cemetery. We put in miles on the course yesterday (I got 10, she got 8) and we did 10 on the East Peoria Trail the day prior to that.

Today she actually made it up the West Peoria Hill under her own steam; almost. She came up about 10 yards short as I advised her to get off of her saddle, and she hasn't learned how to as yet.

Here is Olivia about 80% up the hill, going as hard as she can (click to see a larger version). It looks as if I have to raise her seat again.

Dang it Dad, do you have to keep taking photos? Here she is near the top.

But whoops! Dad told her to try to get off of the saddle; it didn't work. Still, she made 95% of it and would have probably made it all. I need to learn to keep my mouth shut.