Wednesday, December 13, 2006

most posts moved

I thought I had lost my blog; it turns out that the folks at the blogger help group helped me out. I ended up being able to republish my blog, and I decided to use a more simple template.

Later this week, when final exams end, I'll make a backup copy of my blog on CD; not that my blog contains stuff that is all that important.

Still, I'll be doing most of my new posts here.

Workouts are doing ok; I am doing a little of everything. I am not 100%, but I am getting stronger and stronger on running, lifting and swimming is going ok too.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

testing

This blog hasn't been very stable lately; I am posting this too see if it shows up.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Finals begin today; tons of stuff

Final exams began yesterday, and today is my first. I had office hours almost all day yesterday and the day before that; mostly there was nothing but the sound of crickets.

The good news is that I got the rest of the "last class day" exams graded.

Of course, I got an e-mail message from a student who didn't bother to see me during my office hours (schedule specifically when they didn't have other exams) who wanted last minute tutoring.

I politely reminded the student that I was completely avialable during the pevious two days.

Sigh...there is always one; at least this is only one out of 71.

My injury continues to improve slowly; I've been doing indoor cycling, yoga, treadmill "running", weights and swimming.

My mood is better than it was last year at this time, though I am still a bit down. I think that the reason that my mood is better is that I have my injury to work through. I think that I am the kind that needs something to look forward to.

Local Snark
What is making news in that big-time city Peoria, Illinois? Why, it is that a Krispy Kreme store is opening! I kid you not; this is actually a newspaper worthy story in this two-bit hick town!

I am so thrilled; our population, which is already too fat to begin with, has yet another place to fatten up! I'll bet that the folks who do bypass surgery (both the kind on the heart and on the digestive track) are happy about this; business will get even better!

Iraq Study Group Report

The Iraq study group (a bipartisan group of smart people) just issued its report and made some recommendations. You can download a free copy here:
http://www.usip.org/isg/iraq_study_group_report/report/1206/index.html

It's conclusions: the amount of violence is underreported (duh), the situation is bad (duh), we ought to get the neighboring countries involved; they might cooperate as they don't want instability on their borders (duh).

I admit that I am underwhelmed. I think that Senator Feingold said it very well:

December 6, 2006

“Unfortunately, the Iraq Study Group report does too little to change the flawed mind-set that led to the misguided war in Iraq. Maybe there are still people in Washington who need a study group to tell them that the policy in Iraq isn’t working, but the American people are way ahead of this report.

While the report has regenerated a few good ideas, it doesn’t adequately put Iraq in the context of a broader national security strategy. We need an Iraq policy that is guided by our top national security priority – defeating the terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11 and its allies. We can’t continue to just look at Iraq in isolation. Unless we set a serious timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq, we will be unable to effectively address these global threats. In the end, this report is a regrettable example of ‘official Washington’ missing the point.”

There is more about Senator Feingold's reaction here:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/12/7/35434/6690

The fact is this commission was composed apparently entirely of people who did not have the judgment to oppose this Iraq war in the first place, and did not have the judgment to realize it was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism. So that's who is doing this report. Then I looked at the list of who testified before them. There is virtually no one who opposed the war in the first place. Virtually no one who has been really calling for a different strategy that goes for a global approach to the war on terrorism. So this is really a Washington inside job and it shows not in the description of what's happened - that's fairly accurate - but it shows in the recommendations. It's been called a classic Washington compromise that does not do the job of extricating us from Iraq in a way that we can deal with the issues in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia which are every bit as important as what is happening in Iraq. This report does not do the job and it's because it was not composed of a real representative group of Americans who believe what the American people showed in the election, which is that it's time for us to have a timetable to bring the troops out of Iraq.
Amen.

Of course, there are those in the loony right wing who take issue with the report from the other direction. They say idiotic things like this:

Enemies like this understand only one thing: power. They do not keep promises, or honor treaties and agreements that do not serve their primary interests. For them, those interests include humiliating the United States, securing Iraq for the acolytes of Osama bin Laden and then moving on to challenge America in other places and finally on our own soil. The problem is that if we wait to crush them until they reach our shores (and too many are already among us), it will be too late.
What morons like Cal Thomas don't seem to get is that most of what is going on in Iraq is either simple lawlessness, the Shites and the Sunnis going after each other, or simple Iraqi's who don't want us there. Only a small percentage of the fighters are Al Qeda who are actively there to fight us.

See, for example,
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_insurgency.htm

It is no wonder that an article in the newest issue of the American Conservative magazine called our Iraq war "operation provide targets". Basically, all sides end up using our troops for target practice; it isn't that uncommon for our troops to be shot at by one side today, and then get shot at by the other side the next day!

So, why be in Iraq at all?
One then wonders why we attacked Iraq at all, since it was clear that they posed no direct threat to us at that time? A good background read for how the smarter "pro-Iraq war" people think can be found in Thomas Barnett's book The Pentagon's New Map.

First, understand that this war had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, no matter how much the Bush administration lied. The idea is something like this:

  • We are subject to attack by terrorist groups that spring up in areas that Barnett called "The Gap". Barnett divides the world in to two regions: "The functioning Core" (countries connected to the global economy) and "The non-functioning Gap". There is a rough loop drawn around the equator that shows where the Gap countries are; the exceptions would be a country like North Korea (a Gap country) and Israel (a Core country).
  • Shrinking "the Gap" is essential to our security and to global peace.
  • We can shrink the Gap by a policy which combines diplomacy, economic means, and by appropriate preemtive war (such as the one to topple Saddaam Hussien).
Ok then, when is a preemtive war appropriate? When a Gap country violates a given "rule set". Yes, the "rule set" is different for core countries (where things like economic health and deterrence work) than for Gap countries (yes, this is a double standard).

Who decides when to go to war? We do! What gives us the authority? "Might makes right". Yep, he really says that!

Wait, what about the experts who say things like "well, you know that Iraq consists of three seperate groups (Sunnis, Shites, Kurds) who really don't like each other, and the elimination of a brutal dictator could well plunge the country into a civil war"?

Barnett calls such experts "pessimists" and "vertical thinkers"; "if we listen to them, we'll never do anything" such as invade other countries!

Yes, in Dr. Barnett's world, too much specialized knowledge isn't a good thing.

No, I am not making this up.

I'll report more when I finish the book, (I am currently in his "happy ending" phase) but that is more or less what he says.

Anyway, that is how the neoconservatives think.

Football: LSU versus Notre Dame History

Notre Dame takes on LSU in the Sugar Bowl; the Tigers are currently a 8.5 point favorite and not many people are giving Notre Dame a chance.

I disagree; what people forget is that Notre Dame beat several good teams along the way to posting a 10-2 record, including bowl teams Navy (9-3), Purdue (8-5), Penn State (8-4), Georgia Tech (9-4) and UCLA (7-5). Where is is true that Notre Dame played some weak teams, LSU played some patsies as well, but they played most of them at the beginning of the season, whereas Notre Dame's schedule was mostly "front loaded".

Here is a brief history of football between the two schools; this is taken from my faulty memory and a couple of references. I welcome corrections and additions.

1969: ND plays a strong LSU team with a Cotton Bowl birth on the line. ND wins a hard hitting defensive battle 3-0 in South Bend with the field goal set up by a run by Joe Thiesman.

1970: This time the Tigers are better and rout the Irish 28-8 in Baton Rouge. LSU starts with a 14-0 lead. A key series of plays is a goal line stand where the LSU defense stuffs ND on 4'th and inches at the goal line.

Parsegian finishes 1-1 against LSU

1981: Faust takes over, the ND campus is completely out of control with unrealistic expectations. This is about the only time I was ashamed to be an Irish fan; ND hires a HIGH SCHOOL coach and people expect a string of national championships? (can you say "superstition"?)

Anyway, LSU comes to South Bend haven been blown out at home by Alabama. ND wins 27-9 and is elevated to no. 1. ND goes on to lose 4 of its next 5 on its way to a 5-6 season.

1984: ND comes in to Baton Rouge with a 3-4 record. Everyone is expecting no. 7 LSU to blow ND out and LSU starts with a 7-0 lead. ND turns to its ground game and outscores LSU 30-7 over the next 3 quarters or so and hangs on to win 30-22. LSU wore its purple jerseys at home.

1985. Faust announces his retirement after the game; ND loses 10-7 to no. 17 LSU in South Bend. The next week, ND goes on to "go through the motions" against a hungry Miami squad and gets blasted 58-7.

Faust finishes 2-1 against LSU.


1986. Holtz takes over and a winning season is in reach. But in Baton Rouge, ND fails to score in the red zone repreatedly and loses 21-19 to the no. 7 Tigers. Holtz gets a 15 yard pentalty for protesting some bad calls.


Holtz finishes 0-1 against LSU


1997: Davie takes over.
Davie takes in a team that has lost 5 of its first 8 games against the top 20 Tigers. The Irish play very well in Baton Rouge winning 24-6. Former ND standout guard Gerry DiNardo coaches LSU (he played on Parsegian's 1973 National Championship team)

1997: ND agrees to a rematch with LSU in the Independence Bowl. LSU shows up in retro uniforms (gold jerseys, white pants, white helmets) and it is close at the half (13-9) but LSU pulls away in the second half to win 27-9.

1998: ND hosts LSU in South Bend and brings a 8-1 record into the game. ND is up 39-34 and tries to take an intentional saftey at the end of the game. Jarius Jackson (ND quarterback) gets tackled in the end zone and gets hurt.

ND wins over struggling LSU 39-36, but then ND goes into the next game (against USC) and loses 10-0 with an offense that can't do anything with the no. 2 quarterback.

Davie finishes 2-1 against the Tigers.

In short, LSU brings in the better team against Notre Dame six times. Twice, they win in a blow-out. Twice they win in close games, and twice Notre Dame scores an upset.

Once, the teams are evenly matched: it is a close game with ND winning.

Twice, ND comes in with a better team, and once ND wins in a blow-out, and once ND wins a close game.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Peoria: reputation for incompetence is well earned

Tuesday has almost come to and end, and our streets are still snow covered. That is, 4 days of no snow after a snow storm that put down about a foot of snow, we still don't have the streets cleared.

Something similar happened after our previous large snowstorm 6-7 years ago (I forget the exact date). Things haven't gotten any better.

Even worse, the person in charge of things says

"Most of what we did, I would do again," Van Winkle said. "I checked with other communities and our attack and strategy was precisely the same. . . . We're not Houdinis. We can only do what we can with the resources we have.

"I've said many times in the past, we are properly resourced for most events, but not for the exceptional."


Hmm, then why did other communities do so much better than we did?
Excuses abound:

"We got beat this weekend. I just want to know, was it a close game or a good, old-fashioned thumping?" 3rd District Councilman Bob Manning asked staff, noting the many calls from residents he received Sunday night who still hadn't had their streets plowed at all.

"I'm not pointing fingers, especially at the people working 12-hour shifts. But we can't just be in denial. Where did we fail so we can adjust our game plan?"

At-large Councilman John Morris agreed. "Either we had a snow plan that failed or we failed to implement the snow plan. This isn't about the guys who were up all night in a dangerous job. It seems it's about us, about the council, the management. I'm afraid we've got to ask ourselves some tough questions."

The questions were asked, but all the answers weren't there.

The reasons for the city's poor response varied, but staff mainly cited equipment failures and abandoned vehicles that blocked plows and packed the snow.

At-large Councilman Gary Sandberg balked at those.

"One of the major problems is not cars being stuck, but, as someone pointed out, playing your first game in the Super Bowl. We had inexperienced people out there who had never been in a snowstorm," Sandberg said.

"I didn't get an answer to the question, so I'm going to answer it for myself. It was 15 out of 27 drivers that had no experience. Those communities that were more successful (clearing roads) had a great deal more experience. It matters, folks. They have the desire, but I don't believe many of them had the experience."

Larry Mitchell, one of just a couple of residents who stayed through the two-hour council discussion, echoed Sandberg's concerns. Mitchell, who was recently laid off by the city, says he has four years experience plowing snow, with both the city and the state.

"I was told plowing snow is just a fraction of what (public works) does. That fraction shut this city down for three days. People who were brought in in October, who didn't have any experience or even a (proper) license, were out there fighting this storm," Mitchell said.



Anyway, some time ago, during the last election cycle, I made a couple of posts about Ray LaHood, our representative in congress, making a fool of himself at a national level.

See here and here.

Now it struck me: yes, he is an incompetent idiot. But, all that means is that we have appropriate representation as we Peroians are incompetent idiots!

Think about it: natives never had any reason to compete to get better, and those who come here from other places are largely mediocrities who couldn't make it in the "big time" of our professions.

I know that MIT and Harvard weren't exactly recruiting me to join their faculty.

Finals Start

So blogging will be slower for a good long while.

Athletically, I am getting in some ok workouts; yesterday I failed with 205 in the bench press though 195 was easy; and I did enough squats to make myself sore. Today, I did another 5 mile run (hill treadmill workout) and 1 mile walk (about 13 minutes) plus yoga.

The injury continues to heal, though not as quickly as I'd like.

So, here are some things just for the heck of it:
(for the cartoons: click for a larger version)


Now, some You-Tube videos of the snow strom in Peoria (which took place last FRIDAY, and the roads STILL aren't clear). The Peoria Pundit posted these.

The first one only lasts 16 seconds, and it shows a road that was said to have been "cleared" by the manager of the snow removal program.



This one lasts a couple of minutes or so, and shows the snowstorm in progress and what it was like on Friday.



Here, someone speaks to one of my pet-peeves. Ok, this peeve of mine is one of those weird things that I don't like but that doesn't really concern me.

http://www.pjstar.com/stories/120606/PHI_BBNS0V3M.035.shtml

Leading the charge for change is Avanti's Italian Restaurant. From there, perhaps decent people can turn the tide against the screaming scourge of society:

Ceaseless cell phones.

Certainly, cell phones are handy. I have one stuck in my ear much of the day, even when I shouldn't, like when my car is bobbling over the endless, ice-forged rumble strips that have become Peoria's new winter road system.

Still, I show enough civility to stop yakking and turn off my ringer when I walk into an eatery. Not that everyone feels so compelled toward courtesy. [...]

The other day, while dashing into the outpost near Northwoods Mall, I spotted two counter signs:

"No cell phones. Please respect your fellow customers. Thank you."

Zounds! A business that actually pushes respect? Maybe there's hope for society.

Carla Koenig, Avanti's human resource chief, says the signs were posted to improve take-out orders.

As odd as this might seem to normal people, some boobs typically would plod up to the counter, yammering into their cell phone. Then, because they obviously are very important people adept at the sophisticated art of multi-tasking, they'd continue to gab into the phone while ordering food.

As you might guess, such double conversations can confuse employees. Yet, if an order would turn out wrong, the customer would wail and moan - likely while still talking into the cell phone to someone else.

Yes, that seems nuts. But yes, it happened all the time.

"Some people are just that way," Koenig says diplomatically.

Avanti's, which at peak times serves a customer a minute, got tired of the cell-phone cacophony screwing up orders. So out came the new signs, which have quieted things down quite a bit.

Still, not all patrons bother to heed the simple warning.

"Sometimes they can get a bit rude," Koenig says.

At those times, employees try to gently point out the signs by saying, "In order to serve you better, we ask you to refrain from using your cell phone."

After that, most patrons comply - not all, but most.

"Nothing is that important (on a cell phone) that it can't wait 10 seconds," Koenig says.



Yeah, it appears to me that cell phones, while handy for emergencies, are one way in which unimportant, undistinguished people can be made to feel important.

But then again, what others do on their own time is none of my business; as one yogi on yoga.com said:

dhanurasana - 2006-12-01 4:25 PM

discipline for myself...
and understanding for others.
Wise words, indeed.

Finally, I'll post something political.

Of course, it is clear that I am a political liberal. But I don't always enjoy hanging around others who vote the way that I do. For example, consider this article from The Nation, by Katha Pollitt, who is someone that I often agree with:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061218/pollitt

Is it just my imagination or are women wreaking more evil than usual these days? We all know the reason boys don't read is that female teachers assign books about girls, and girls have cooties; and the reason half of all marriages end in divorce is that women have outrageous expectations, like that their husbands should talk to them; and the reason the Democrats lose elections is that they pander to female voters instead of being manly and tough. Oh, wait a minute, the Democrats won the last election. Women aren't just evil, they're powerful.


The article continues similarly. Basically, the format is this: Pollitt states some idiotic, sexist thing that an isolated male did, and then blasts it; it is almost as if Ms. Pollitt is collecting beads on a string.

For example:

Rape. I know, I know, it's an old charge, but Australia's top Muslim cleric, Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, has managed to make it new. "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard without cover, and the cats come to eat it...whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred." Because veiled women are never raped, at least not as long as they stay in their rooms. Sheik al-Hilali later said his remarks were taken out of context--he was only talking about prostitutes.
Yes, Ms. Pollitt, what this guy said was offensive and idiotic. But guess what? The reason most of us who follow the news know about this is because this statement was all but universally condemned!!!!

She goes on to make a valid point about Pelosi receiving unwarranted attacks due to her sex, but those points were better made here:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/11/27/18240/635

I commented on this article thusly:

http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2006/11/27/18240/635/75#75

occams hatchet...let me explain it to you (11+ / 0-)

female: "good"
male: "bad"

seriously, I think it is something like this: many pundits (mostly male) made remarks about Pelosi that they never would have made about an equally liberal male (stuff about her appearance, making points without shouting (emotional females, you know) etc.

Another example: remember that loser who ran against Hillary Clinton for the Senate? He said something about her being hideously ugly in the past..and this is some dude with a pock-marked face!

When has a male candidate ever called another male candidate "ugly"?

(ok, I call Hastert and Chenney all sorts of names, but I am not running for anything...)

Note: here, by "running", I meant "running for office".



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bowl Predictions

Bowl favorite spread underdog pick-spread pick-win
poinsettia, December 19 TCU 13
Northern Illinois TCU TCU
LasVegas, Dec. 21 BYU 5.5 Oregon Oregon Oregon
New Orleans, Dec. 22 Rice 7 Troy State Troy Troy
Papa Johns, Dec. 23 South Florida 4 East Carolina USF USF
New Mexico New Mexico 5 San Jose State San Jose San Jose
Armed Forces Utah 3 Tulsa Tulsa Tulsa
Hawaii, Dec. 24 Hawaii 8.5 Arizona State Hawaii Hawaii
Motor City, Dec. 26 Central Michigan 11.5 Middle Tennessee Middle Tenn. CMU
Emerald, Dec 27 UCLA 4.5 Florida State UCLA UCLA
Independence, Dec. 28 Oklahoma St. 3 Alabama Alabama Alabama
Texas Rutgers 7 Kansas State Rutgers Rutgers
Holiday California 5 Texas A&M Cal. Cal
Music City, Dec 29 Clemson 10 Kentucky Clemson Clemson
Sun Oregon State 3.5 Missouri OSU OSU
Liberty South Carolina 7 Houston USC USC
Champs Sports Maryland 3.5 Purdue Maryland Maryland
Insight Texas Tech 7 Minnesota Tech Tech
Meineke Care Care, Dec. 30 Boston College 7 Navy BC BC
Alamo Texas 10.5 Iowa TX TX
Chick-Fil-A Virginia Tech 2.5 Georgia Georgia Georgia
MPC Computers, Dec 31 Miami 3 Nevada Miami Miami
Cotton, Jan. 1 Auburn 3 Nebraska Auburn Auburn
Outback Tennessee 4 Penn State Tennessee Tennessee
Capital One Arkansas 1 Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin
Gator West Virginia 7 Georgia Tech Tech WVA
Rose Michigan 1.5 USC USC USC
Fiesta Oklahoma 8.5 Boise State OU OU
Orange, Jan. 2 Louisville 9.5 Wake Forest Wake Louisville
Sugar, Jan. 3 LSU 8.5 Notre Dame ND ND
International, Jan. 6 Cincinnati 8.5 Western Michigan Cincinnati Cin.
GMAC Southern Miss. 6.5 Ohio Southern Southern
Championship Ohio State 8 Florida Florida OSU

Turkey Trot Photos


Well, at least I look slender. I sure as heck don't look fast because I am not.

Today, I lifted weights and got 1 hour on the stationary bike. In weights, I actually failed with 205 on the bar in the benchpress, though 195 was very easy?

Oh well, slow, weak, pathetic; I can only improve from here!

And speaking of weak and pathetic...

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/12/5/73034/4985

Breaking : Cheney Joins Rumsfeld, Bolton in Resignation, Bush Announces Miers as First Woman VP Hotlist

Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 04:35:09 AM PST


Miers hopes to become first woman Vice President


Washington, DC (Rotters) - In a hurried press conference early this morning, a tearful and angry George Bush announced that he had late last night regretfully accepted the resignation of Vice President Dick Cheney. He introduced his personal lawyer, and failed Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Myers as his selection to replace Mr. Cheney. Pending approval of Congress, Myers would become the first woman vice president in US history.

Cheney's resignation comes in a tumultuous week for the Bush administration on the heels of last month's resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and yesterday's resignation of United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, both long-standing touchstones of controversy for the president.

The White House refused to comment on the motivations for the vice president's resignation, stating only that the vice president felt that "the time was right" to do so. An anonymous White House spokesperson suggested that there would likely be a leaked memo from the vice president in the next few days that could possibly shed some light on the president's motivations.

Rumors immediately began circulating over the possible resignation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was reportedly enraged over the appointment of Miers, feeling that she should have gotten the nod as the new vice president.

President Bush again lashed out at what he said were a handful of "partisan Democratic senators" who constantly questioned and obstructed the vice president on implementation of his plans for Iraq. "Their stubborn obstructionism ill serves our fortunes in Iraq," stated Bush, "and their tactics will disrupt our cash flow at a sensitive and important time." Bush went on to praise Mr. Cheney for his service to America and said that he would continue to rely upon him during key policy considerations, stating that he had done a "fabulous job".

Bush then praised Miers as his selection to replace Cheney. "I never accepted the reality that she could not be confirmed," stated Bush, referring to his controversial failed nomination of Myers as Supreme Court Justice.

Myers then thanked the president for his faith in her and pledged her continued loyalty and service to the administration.

Some analysts viewed the vice president's departure as a symbolic tipping over of the chessboard, after having lost too many pieces within the last month. Some also interpreted Cheney's resignation as the departure of the historic neoconservative influence over the White House, while others viewed it as merely a retreat to an underground bunker at an undisclosed location.

Centurion USA Race


First, a bit of humor. This is one footrace I might be able to stay in. Speaking of footraces, the Peoria Jingle Bell run is rescheduled for this Sunday (December 10'th) at 10 am; that is, provided our streets are STILL not all covered with ice and snow.

PEORIA - With Peoria's streets and roads still so treacherous that Peoria School District 150 canceled school today for the third straight school day, many wondered why other municipalities seemed able to remove the snow so quickly while many Peoria streets remain nearly impassable.

Two governmental entities, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the city of Peoria, are responsible for most streets in Peoria.

IDOT handles the interstates as well as state routes such as War Memorial, Knoxville north of War Memorial and Galena Road north of War Memorial.

Shawn Larson, IDOT operations manager in charge of snow plowing, blamed traffic on Friday for packing the snow and ice so it could not be removed, and drivers who ventured out then got stuck and blocked the snowplows.

"Accidents on I-74 held our trucks up and delayed our response, which created problems," he said. "It wasn't lack of effort."

People stuck on interstate ramps also stalled the operations, he said. "Until the city or state tows the cars we can't plow," he said.

"We had cars and semis stuck on ramps through Sunday morning. We're not in the towing business," he said.

Roads such as Grandview Drive, which was cleaned by Friday evening, don't have the traffic that War Memorial has, he said. "They can do their job without fighting traffic to do it."

Up to 15 percent of the trucks broke down and had to be repaired, he said.


I've talked about my trying to recover from an injury. So, no ultras for me this fall/winter.

I've found out that there will be a Centurion race next fall; so I need to devote full attention to getting well by the start of next summer (at which case I should be able to begin training)

I am posting what happened at the Centurion USA this year. Next year, the race is on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. I want to be ready for it!

Anatomy of a Centurion Walk

By

Scott Demaree

For the third year in a row, the Ultracentric race organization hosted a 100 mile walk. Previously held on a track in Addisson, new management moved this year’s race to Meadowmere Park in Grapevine. The 2.4 mile certified “reverse keyhole” course on park roads is an excellent venue for the Ultracentric events, which include a 48-Hour, 24-Hour (and 100 mile walk), 12-Hour and 6-Hour. Additionally, the 24-Hour was designated the 2006 national championship.

As the walk director, I was privileged to help make the walk happen this year. Two years ago in Addisson, I finished my first 100-mile walk with Dave Gwyn in charge of judging. Last year, I was in charge with Dave helping. Dave could not help this year, and as it turned out, neither could anyone else. My potential work force consisted of local walkers, but when one went to the old race location (my fault for not warning him), and others simply did not show up as planned, it was left for me to judge the entire walk.

Because of the course layout and the small number of walkers, this was not as hard as it sounds. The course makes a long loop back on itself on the turn-around side and a quarter mile loop and a 120-degree turn on the starting line side. With the help of binoculars, I could position myself at a high point near the middle of the course and see walkers on both sides of the course quite well. I supplemented these long-distance observations by moving around the course when it became clear that both walkers were staying relatively close to each other. The course was not completely lighted, so after dark, I was required to move considerably more often to keep tabs on the darker areas. By intelligent use of the course layout, putting over 30 miles on my own legs and taking no sleep breaks, the walkers were rarely out of my sight.

Under optimum weather conditions, Dorit Attias and Eric Litt were the only walkers taking up the 100-mile challenge this year. Dorit moved ahead early by a couple of hundred meters and that gap remained for the first few hours. Both walkers were well grounded, employing good technique, but Dorit in particular used excellent racewalking form, which did not deteriorate as the race progressed. They completed most of the early laps in 28-30 minutes depending on breaks.

Dorit reached the marathon point in less than five and a half hours. By this time Eric was on an extended break that was to last until twilight. After a couple more hours of effort, he retired for the night (finishing with 31.2 miles). All this time Dorit was completing laps in steady 30-minute intervals. This continued past 50 miles, and it was only after 100-K that her lap times slipped beyond 30 minutes consistently.

Through the night she battled blisters and nausea and slowed further. By morning twilight, her overall pace had slipped dangerously close to the 14:24 per mile needed to finish 100 miles in 24 hours. Dawn had the expected effect of reviving her enthusiasm and pace, ensuring her finish.

Inside the last hour, the competitors were required to stay on the certified quarter mile loop at the starting area. Dorit entered that loop needing seven laps to surpass 100 miles. She reached her goal, completing the lap at 23:39:30. When 24 hours expired, Dorit had a total of 101.52 miles, finishing 10th overall in the women’s 24-Hour field.

Her success with such good form was very impressive. Dorit had tried three previous times to become a Centurion, coming as close as 98 miles. Another goal she has is to qualify for the Paris to Colmar race.

The new race director of Ultracentric is committed to making this a major walking event. We need more walkers and more judges. Toward that end he is considering offering prize money for walkers (as was done this year for the 24-Hour runners) and bringing judges in from out-of-town. The only course deficiency this year was lighting, and that will be improved next year. It is a great course with some minor elevation changes, which I believe is a benefit in such long duration walks. Weather in this area is generally good this time of year. Next years event will take place Nov. 17, 2007, so start planning now.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Snow, Walking, Education, Mental Trauma from War

Classes have ended at my University and finals will begin soon. Hence, I have a lull and can blog about some other things.

On a personal note: this recent "snow-out" has bitten into my workout routines, though I've gotten some activity. This morning, I had my longest "run/walk" since June: 6 miles. I warmed up with two slow running miles on the treadmill, did 3 more (hills) in 26:50, and then walked an 11 minute mile.

The walking mile was slightly painful.

The road back is a long one, and mine is paved in snow. Speaking of snow, the snowstorm was 4 days ago, and the roads are still bad. Needless to say, our city is incompetent when it comes to even basic things.

PEORIA - Though the snowfall has stopped, the accompanying problems continue to blanket the area.

Alleyways and major thoroughfares alike still carry a thick slab of compacted ice and snow, dividing lines and turn lanes are still obscured and drivers still crawl across Peoria's streets.

"It's still pretty slick," Adrienne Sarlos said Sunday night from her residence on West Richwoods Boulevard. "It's drivable, but it's really slippery."

For example, traffic on Allen Road was stopped for a time Sunday evening as a semi was pulled from the side of the road by a tow truck. Police said the truck had been stuck for hours after sliding off of the road, and was towed about 8 p.m. Traffic was at a standstill as the work progressed.

A native Californian and recent transplant from Rockford, Sarlos, who was snowed in both Friday and Saturday, finally ventured outside on North Sheridan Road Sunday only to hit upon heavy traffic and rough travel.

"We didn't have any snowstorms this size (in Rockford), but it seemed the response was better," she said.

Although the number of reported accidents has declined and most primary roads are passable, other Peoria-area residents echoed Sarlos' feelings.

"They weren't very good," said Peorian Matt Hendrickson of the city's streets. "They were drivable but that's about it. It was still really tough to know where the lanes were."

While city crews are making headway, officials said they realize drivers are frustrated and urged patience.

"We have had quite a bit of progress on the residential streets as far as (removing snow to the curb)," said David Haste, the city's head of the street and sewer department. "Eventually, with salting and warmer temperatures, we'll be plowing (remaining snow) for as long as we have to."

Haste said the initial sleet and lower temperatures allowed a solid coating of ice to form beneath the snow, out of reach from snowplow blades. As a result, driving on a paved city street felt akin to bouncing down a rocky dirt road.

"It just seems like the temperatures don't want to work with us. Usually, this time of year they break up," Haste said, referring to the covered streets. "It's something we have to work on, and we'll get done soon enough. We did a lot of pre-salting this year. But when it came down so hard and so fast, there was no way you could put enough salt down."

Plows continue to tackle residential streets by day and major routes by night.

In addition, mechanical breakdowns and stuck vehicles continue to plague Haste's fleet of about 25 trucks.

"Any breakdown on the trucks and that's one less truck on that route," he added.

Road conditions not only frustrated drivers, they also led to the closure of District 150 schools. Superintendent Ken Hinton said in a news release that all schools are closed "due to the severe road conditions remaining from the snowstorm."

"The conditions are just too bad for our buses," Hinton said Sunday night. The lack of cleared neighborhood sidewalks, he added, also contributed to his decision.

Of course the Peoria Pundit had a point:
And did it ever occur to the many critics of the city’s snow storm response that one of the reasons there are so many complaints is because so many idiots were out and about when they did not really need to be? My two cents: Anyone who reads this blog knows I’ll tear into government employees at the drop of the hat. But the explanations offered for the poor road conditions make sense to me — a heavy coating of sleet that froze and was covered by more than a foot of snow, coupled by heavy traffic that slowed the city’s response. And did it not occur to people that the time to stock up on groceries, snow shovels, rock salt and other supplied MIGHT have been the day before the anticipated snow storm hit?
(emphasis mine)
University Teaching: Judged by the Students
About school: today was the last regular class day, and so I gave my teaching evaluations. They went ok, I think; they usually do when it takes 10-15 minutes to do.

I think that the following is ironic: when I was in grade school, people with undergraduate degrees (a few with masters) evaluated me. When I was in college, I was evaluated primarily by Ph. D.s. As a graduate student, some of the best scholars in the world evaluated me.

Now I am evaluated by post-adolecents with no degree at all!

I suppose it has a purpose; I sometimes learn something from them. And, the students need an outlet, and I agree that we need to be held accountable. But, unfortunately, students don't know what a good course should be; they simply don't have the experience and their point of view is going to be too narrow.

The students can tell you things like: "I studied this much", "I learned more when you did this than when you did that" and they can tell you if they felt attacked; one has to be honest with the students but to do so in a way where the student doesn't recoil from the message that you are trying to get across. And many students are not as thick skinned as, say, football players or military types.

Still, I wish more of our teaching evaluation came from peer review, but there would be problems with this approach.

On this topic, there is an outfit called "rate my professor" and some time ago, a group of disgruntled students blasted me there. My wife read this and wondered if my feelings would be hurt; I in turn showed her all of my teaching evaluations from that same class. She was surprised; she said it didn't appear "as if they were talking about the same professor."

Here are some of my favorite remarks:

  • "huge nerd"
  • "He is a really smart professor, but a VERY strange one... When he explains, he goes off on explaining things that don't even deal with the class (for example he started talking about physics for no reason). Overall, he's ok but you will need to study on your own because he talks way to "intellectual" for calculus."
  • "He is a smart and nice guy but if you want an A you will have to put the work in - not as bad as some say he is - work hard and come to class and you should have no problem. Have to work to get a A or B though."
  • I don't have a direct quote, but one person called me "evil".
In all, I like this service, as it will pre-weeds out the slackers and the whiners.

Athletics: Elite Level
In the past, I posted about world class performance at the ultramarathon level and about the 50K walking record. Just a while ago, Robert Korzeniowski from Poland held the racewalking "world best" of 3:36.



Well, that is no longer the world's best.

http://www.iaaf.org/news/Kind=2/newsId=36938.html


Four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nathan Deakes has broken the World record** for the 50km Race Walk in Geelong, Australia, this morning. Deakes recorded a time of 3:35:47.

Competing at the Telstra Australian 50km Road Walking Championships in blustery conditions, Deakes took 16 seconds off the World record previously set by Poland's World and Olympic champion Robert Korzeniowski at the 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris, France in 2003 (3:36.03).

In a big day for Australia’ walkers, Duane Cousins set a personal best and World Championships a-qualifier of 3:53.19 to finish second, as did Victorian Jared Tallent who walked a time of 3:55.08 to finish in third place.

Deake’s smashed his previous best and Australian record of 3:39:43 which he set in Melbourne in 2003.

Overcome by tears, an emotional Deakes fell to the ground after crossing the finish line, his wife Annette and parents rushing in to congratulate him.

“It’s obviously quite a surprise. I didn’t think I was in that kind of shape. To break a World record is really special. To do at home is even nicer. The best prepared athletes walk fast anywhere,” explained Deakes after the race.

Of course, this was a road walk and therefore only qualified as a "world best"; "world records" have to be set on tracks. Still, you are talking an absurd 6:56.7 minutes per mile for 31 miles. Keep in mind that his marathon split would have been 3:02, and this is judged walking.

My (pathetic) best unjudged 50K is a mere 6:20; in my judged attempt I picked up a third "red card" for bent knee at 37 km (almost 23 miles).

Educational Issues
An important case is before the Supreme Court:

For the first time in a decade, the Supreme Court will revisit the legacy of a landmark: the Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954 that declared unconstitutional the racial segregation of public schools.

Separate schools for black and white children are "inherently unequal," Chief Justice Earl Warren said in an opinion that helped launch the civil rights movement.

State-enforced segregation laws are long gone, but for school officials today, a key question remains: Did the historic decision commit them to a policy of seeking integrated schools, or did it tell them not to assign students to a school based on their race?

Today, lawyers in a pair of integration cases will debate whether school boards may use racial guidelines to assign students. And both sides will rely on the Brown decision to make their case.

The outcome could affect hundreds of school systems across the nation [...]

In Seattle, the school board adopted a policy — now suspended — that gave "nonwhite" students an edge if they sought to enroll in a popular, mostly white high school. In Jefferson County, Ky., which includes Louisville, the school district said the black student body at each elementary school should range from 15% to 50%.

In both cities, several white parents sued to have the plans declared unconstitutional after their children were barred from enrolling in the school of their choice because of their race. Though they lost in the lower courts, the Supreme Court voted in June to hear their appeals, leading many to predict the justices are poised to outlaw "racial balancing" in the public schools.

"At its core, the issue here is the promise made 52 years ago in Brown vs. Board of Education," said Theodore Shaw, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which won the ruling that struck down racial segregation in the South. "Mandatory desegregation is now a thing of the past. All that's left is voluntary desegregation, and now that is being challenged."

Shaw said school officials should be lauded for their efforts to achieve integration. He said he was particularly troubled by "the ideology that equates any race consciousness with racial discrimination."[...]

Bush administration lawyers, who joined the case on the side of the parents, say the Brown decision sought to move the nation toward a color-blind policy. They say school officials may not open or close the door to particular students solely because of their race. In short, race-based decisions are racial discrimination, even if the officials are pursing a laudable goal, they say.

"The promise of this court's landmark decision in Brown … was to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis," U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement wrote in his brief to the court. "Race-based school assignment does not advance that objective."

This is a tough one, as far as I am concerned. Learning to get along with others is a big part of being educated. And as Justice Ginsburg said: "how can one possibly achieve a race related goal (integration) without having some sort of of race criteria? On the other hand, one has to take care so as to not out and out bar someone from entering a school based on their race; in this case, race was used as a "tie breaker" in deciding if somone got into a school of choice or not.

Personally, I can sympathise with the intentions of the school district, but I don't want to see things like this happening:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15997066/site/newsweek/

Dec. 1, 2006 - Crystal Meredith had a simple wish: she wanted her son, Joshua, to attend an elementary school near their home in Louisville, Ky. But when Meredith went to enroll him in kindergarten in 2002, she bumped up against the schools’ voluntary integration policy. Designed to maintain racial balance in the once-segregated Louisville schools, the plan lets parents choose among schools in various clusters across the city. But the institutions all strive to keep the number of African-American students somewhere between 15 and 50 percent of the school population. If the number drops too low or grows too high, students of any race can be shunted to other schools.

When Meredith, who is white, tried to sign up Josh, he was assigned to an elementary school that required a long bus ride across town. “The bus didn’t come anywhere near our house, so I had to drive him,” Meredith tells NEWSWEEK. A single mom, she had to cut back her hours at work so she could serve as chauffeur. Meredith soon applied for a school transfer so that Josh could move to a closer school. But the request was denied: it would have thrown off the racial balance at the school across town. Meredith soon filed suit, losing twice in federal court. On Monday, she’s taking her case as far as it can go—to the U.S. Supreme Court. “I see this as a parent wanting what’s best for their child,” says Meredith, who insists her case is not about race or affirmative action. “That’s really all I see.”



I've heard of horror stories of students not getting home from school until 9 pm at night!

Secretary of Defense Hearings
Robert Gates, who was the first President Bush's CIA director has been nominated to replace Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense. There are some troubling signs here, when one looks at the old CIA confirmation hearings:
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/3645

[...]Gates Record

After Bush tapped Gates to replace Rumsfeld on Nov. 8, the Washington press corps quickly adopted a conventional wisdom that the Gates nomination represented a move by former President George H.W. Bush to impose some reason and discipline on his headstrong son.

The thinking went that Gates would guide the younger George Bush away from the neoconservative ideologues who were gung-ho for war in Iraq and back toward the so-called “realists” who held the upper hand under the elder George Bush – the likes of James Baker.

There was even a Newsweek cover illustrating this thesis with a large Poppy Bush in the foreground and a smaller Sonny Bush in the rear.

But the truth now appears to be different, with George W. Bush virtually spitting out his contempt for the “realists” during his press conference in Amman, declaring that the notion of a “graceful exit” had “no realism to it whatsoever.”

Given Bush’s petulance, it’s hard to conceive that he sat down with Gates just before the Nov. 7 elections and didn’t get assurances that Gates would fall into line behind Bush’s oft-stated determination to see the Iraq War through to what the President calls “victory.”

In other words, the smooth-talking Gates might be presenting himself to Senate Democrats and other Iraq War skeptics as their closet ally when, in truth, he is a closet ally of the neocons.

Throughout his career, the 63-year-old Gates often has acted the part of the mild-mannered moderate – the aw-shucks Eagle Scout from Wichita, Kansas – but then did the bidding of his hard-line bosses in the Executive Branch.

According to rank-and-file CIA officers who knew him well, Gates cloaked his fierce ambition in his boyish charm as he ingratiated himself to powerful mentors, such as the late CIA Director William J. Casey.

For instance, while head of the CIA’s analytical division and responsible for maintaining a clear line between intelligence and policymaking, Gates pushed dubious intelligence assessments on Nicaragua, the Soviet Union and Iran. Invariably, these intelligence judgments served the interests of Gates’s superiors.

In December 1984, Gates even veered off into policy prescriptions, sending a secret memo to CIA Director Casey that took extreme positions on the conflict in Nicaragua, including calls for air strikes and other actions to oust the “Marxist-Leninist” regime – just the kind of tough talk that Casey liked to hear.

Not only did Gates’s behavior violate the principle of separating intelligence from policymaking, but it turned out that his alarmist assessment of Nicaragua was completely wrong. Rather than becoming a permanent “Marxist-Leninist” regime on the American mainland, the ruling Sandinistas surrendered power when they lost an election in 1990.

To some at CIA, it was never clear whether Gates was a closet true-believer in right-wing policies or a skillful apple-polisher eager to please his bosses. But Gates’s bureaucratic maneuvering did serve his career well, as Casey elevated Gates in 1986 to be deputy CIA director. [For more on the Nicaragua memo, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Why Trust Robert Gates on Iraq?”]

However, after the Iran-Contra scandal broke in late 1986 – revealing widespread deception by the Reagan administration – Gates found himself in hot water. Members of Congress suspected that Gates had misled them and he was denied the top CIA job in 1987 after Casey’s death from brain cancer.

Gates salvaged his career with the help of the senior George Bush who took Gates on as deputy national security adviser in 1989. By 1991, after the Iran-Contra scandal had cooled, Bush nominated Gates again to be CIA director. [...]

This time, Gates’s nomination faced an extraordinary uprising among CIA analysts who went public to accuse Gates of politicizing the analytical division and shaping the intelligence to fit the desires of the Reagan-Bush political team.

One of the more famous cases is when Gates pushed to have the CIA come to the conclusion that the Soviets were behind the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul.
http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2006/11/Gates%20Files.html

Nicaragua wasn’t the only place Gates wanted to take action. In 1985, sounding very much like one of today’s neoconservative hawks, the then head of intelligence analysis at the CIA drafted a plan for a joint U.S.-Egyptian military operation to invade Libya, overthrow Col. Muamar Ghaddafi, and “redraw the map of North Africa.” On the basis of this idea, CIA Director Casey, sometimes said to be the man who invented Gates, ordered up a list of Libyan targets and the National Security Council developed a plan to have Egypt attack Libya with U.S. air support and seize half the country. The Joint Chiefs drew up plans for a military operation involving 90,000 troops. Alarmed, the State Department subsequently succeeded in downsizing Gates proposal to “contingency” status.

According to Robert Parry, a reporter who has closely tracked this period in the CIA’s history, during this time the Reagan administration was “pressing the CIA to adopt an analysis that accepted right-wing media reports pinning European terrorism on the Soviets. The CIA analysts knew that these charges were false, in part because they were based on ‘black’ or false propaganda that the CIA itself had been planting in the European media. But the ‘politicization’ tide was strong.” And Gates, he writes, led an effort to implicate the Soviets in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. “In 1985, Gates closeted a special team to push through another pre-cooked paper arguing that the KGB was behind the 1981 wounding of Pope John Paul II. CIA analysts again knew that the charge was bogus, but could not block the paper from leaving CIA.”

Hmm, someone who wants to redraw maps, and someone who wants to slant intellegence to fit desired policy. Doesn't that sound familiar?

No wonder President Bush nominated him.

The Reality of Mental Health Care in the Military

Military rules and regulations are full of written things to make civilians feel better. For example, when I was in the Navy, one had the written option to not take the watch if one was, say, too sleepy to stand it properly. But if one tried to actually use that rule, one was told that one was supposed to "suck it up"; hey "everybody is tired."

I stood watch on a nuclear reactor while taking medicine which said "don't operate heavy machinery while taking this".

This reality is all the more true when there is combat.

Face it: combat is scarey and hellish; it is normal to want to not go. And so people try to make excuses or sometimes get worked up enough to where they think that they have mental illness when, in fact, they don't.

But on the other hand, enough horror and combat will break you; it is only a matter of time, and the time for each person is different.

So we get the following sad situation, all brought about by well intentioned people:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6576505

Army studies show that at least 20 percent to 25 percent of the soldiers who have served in Iraq display symptoms of serious mental-health problems, including depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Administration officials say there are extensive programs to heal soldiers both at home and in Iraq.

But an NPR investigation at Colorado's Ft. Carson has found that even those who feel desperate can have trouble getting the help they need. In fact, evidence suggests that officers at Ft. Carson punish soldiers who need help, and even kick them out of the Army.

Soldier Tyler Jennings says that when he came home from Iraq last year, he felt so depressed and desperate that he decided to kill himself. Late one night in the middle of May, his wife was out of town, and he felt more scared than he'd felt in gunfights in Iraq. Jennings says he opened the window, tied a noose around his neck and started drinking vodka, "trying to get drunk enough to either slip or just make that decision."

Five months before, Jennings had gone to the medical center at Ft. Carson, where a staff member typed up his symptoms: "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness." Jennings says that when the sergeants who ran his platoon found out he was having a breakdown and taking drugs, they started to haze him. He decided to attempt suicide when they said that they would eject him from the Army.

"You know, there were many times I've told my wife -- in just a state of panic, and just being so upset -- that I really wished I just died over there [in Iraq]," he said. "Cause if you just die over there, everyone writes you off as a hero." [...]


The Army boasts of having great programs to care for soldiers. The Pentagon has sent therapists to Iraq to work with soldiers in the field. And at Army bases in the United States, mental-health units offer individual and group therapy, and counseling for substance abuse. But soldiers say that in practice, the mental-health programs at Ft. Carson don’t work the way they should.

For instance, soldiers fill out questionnaires when they return from Iraq that are supposed to warn officials if they might be getting depressed, or suffering from PTSD, or abusing alcohol or drugs. But many soldiers at Ft. Carson say that even though they acknowledged on the questionnaires that they were having disturbing symptoms, nobody at the base followed up to make sure they got appropriate support. A study by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, suggests it's a national problem: GAO found that about 80 percent of the soldiers who showed potential signs of PTSD were not referred for mental health follow-ups. The Pentagon disagrees with the GAO's findings.

Soldiers at Ft. Carson also say that even when they request support, the mental-health unit is so overwhelmed that they can't get the help they need. Corey Davis, who was a machine gunner in Iraq, says he began "freaking out" after he came back to Ft. Carson; he had constant nightmares and began using drugs. He says he finally got up the courage to go to the Army hospital to beg for help.

"They said I had to wait a month and a half before I'd be seen," Davis said. "I almost started crying right there."

Intimidated by Superiors

Almost all of the soldiers said that their worst problem is that their supervisors and friends turned them into pariahs when they learned that they were having an emotional crisis. Supervisors said it's true: They are giving some soldiers with problems a hard time, because they don't belong in the Army.

Jennings called a supervisor at Ft. Carson to say that he had almost killed himself, so he was going to skip formation to check into a psychiatric ward. The Defense Department's clinical guidelines say that when a soldier has been planning suicide, one of the main ways to help is to put him in the hospital. Instead, officers sent a team of soldiers to his house to put him in jail, saying that Jennings was AWOL for missing work.

"I had them pounding on my door out there. They're saying 'Jennings, you're AWOL. The police are going to come get you. You've got 10 seconds to open up this door,'" Jennings said. "I was really scared about it. But finally, I opened the door up for them, and I was like 'I'm going to the hospital.'"

[...]

Richard Travis, formerly the Army's senior prosecutor at Ft. Carson, is now in private practice. He says that the Army has to pay special mental-health benefits to soldiers discharged due to PTSD. But soldiers discharged for breaking the rules receive fewer or even no benefits, he says.

Alex Orum's medical records showed that he had PTSD, but his officers expelled him from the Army earlier this year for "patterns of misconduct," repeatedly citing him on disciplinary grounds. In Orum's case, he was cited for such infractions as showing up late to formation, coming to work unwashed, mishandling his personal finances and lying to supervisors -- behaviors which psychiatrists say are consistent with PTSD.

Sergeant Nathan Towsley told NPR, "When I'm dealing with Alex Orum's personal problems on a daily basis, I don't have time to train soldiers to fight in Iraq. I have to get rid of him, because he is a detriment to the rest of the soldiers."

[...]

A therapist diagnosed Tyler Jennings with PTSD in May, but the Army's records show he is being tossed out because he used drugs and missed formations. Files on other soldiers suggest the same pattern: Those who seek mental-health help are repeatedly cited for misconduct, then purged from the ranks.

War simply sucks on so many levels; it kills and wounds, and not all of the wounds are physical.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I am brilliant!

Ok, the Yahoo college football "pick-em" season is over. I participated in the picks by pointspread game; for those who don't understand it works this way:

Take the Army -Navy game. Navy was favored to win by 20 points. I took Army and the points. Navy won 26-14, but since Army had a 20 point handicap, I won my bet.

Had Navy won 27-6, I would have lost my bet.

In the Yahoo pick-em game, only the games involving top 20 teams were bet on.

http://football.fantasysports.yahoo.com/college/25077/8

I finished with a score of 148 out of 252, which was good for

ollie
Overall Leaders
Rank: 419
Percentile: 99th
Rank Change: +584
Fans of Navy
Rank: 3
Percentile: 99th
Rank Change: +2
Fans from Illinois
Rank: 21
Percentile: 99th
Rank Change: +26

As you see here. But, during the season, there were 15 "off the board" games (e. g., Texas vs. Sam Houston State was "off of the board") meaning there was no pointspread on those games. Mostly, those games were complete mismatches, and so I will deduct those.

And there were 3 "push" games (ties), where the final matched the point spread perfectly.

So, my results (pointspread only) looked like:

133 wins, 101 losses, 3 ties or a winning percentage of 56.8%.

Did I statistically beat the coin-flip? Yes!
I was able to reject H0 in the following test

H0: p = .5
Ha: p > .5

with a p-value of .02
http://www.stat.tamu.edu/~west/applets/binomialdemo.html

That is, flipping a coin would yield results as good as or better than mine only 2 percent of the time.

In a "bet 11 dollars to win 10 scheme" (place a bet of 11 dollars; if you win you get your 11 back plus 10 more, if you lose you lose your 11), and had I bet 11 dollars on each game, I would have finished the season $219.00 ahead!

Ok, no one is going to call me "Ollie the Greek".

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Who should play Ohio State?

Ok, Arkansas muffed a punt while down 31-28 and so fell 38-28. So, who should play Ohio State?

Update: take the poll here:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/12/2/222847/944

Also, vote in the ESPN poll:
http://espn.go.com/

and see a map of where Michigan and where Florida gets support.

States voting for Florida:

Oregon, Idaho, Utah,
Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas
Ohio
West Virginia
Rhode Island
SEC/ACC states:
Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida.

Tied: Hawaii

Michigan: Alaska, Washington, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Deleware, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusets (sp), Maine

Eyeball guess: Big Ten and Pac Ten fans want Michigan (save Oregon, Ohio). ACC and SEC fans want Florida; Big 12 and Big East fans are split.

Part of me says "who cares" as I think that Ohio State will whip anyone. But let's try to be objective:

Sat, Sep 2 Southern Miss W 34-7 * Audio

Sat, Sep 9 UCF W 42-0 * Audio

Sat, Sep 16 at (13) Tennessee W 21-20 * Audio

Sat, Sep 23 Kentucky W 26-7 * Audio

Sat, Sep 30 Alabama W 28-13 * Audio

Sat, Oct 7 (9) LSU W 23-10 * Audio

Sat, Oct 14 at (11) Auburn L 17-27 * Audio

Sat, Oct 28 Georgia W 21-14 * Audio

Sat, Nov 4 at Vanderbilt W 25-19 * Audio

Sat, Nov 11 South Carolina W 17-16 * Audio

Sat, Nov 18 Western Carolina W 62-0 * Audio

Sat, Nov 25 at Florida State W 21-14 * Audio

Sat, Dec 2 (8) Arkansas W 38-28 * Audio



Sat, Sep 2 Vanderbilt W 27-7 --

Sat, Sep 9 Central Michigan W 41-17 --

Sat, Sep 16 at (2) Notre Dame W 47-21 --

Sat, Sep 23 Wisconsin W 27-13 --

Sat, Sep 30 at Minnesota W 28-14 --

Sat, Oct 7 Michigan State W 31-13 --

Sat, Oct 14 at Penn State W 17-10 --

Sat, Oct 21 Iowa W 20-6 --

Sat, Oct 28 Northwestern W 17-3 --

Sat, Nov 4 Ball State W 34-26 --

Sat, Nov 11 at Indiana W 34-3 --

Sat, Nov 18 at (1) Ohio State L 39-42

HOME ADVANTAGE=  2.69           RATING    W   L  SCHEDL(RANK) VS top 10 | VS top 30 |  ELO_CHESS   |  PREDICTOR  
1 Ohio State A = 100.65 12 0 72.28( 36) 1 0 | 3 0 | 103.15 1 | 98.20 1
2 Southern California A = 97.25 10 1 80.67( 3) 2 0 | 6 1 | 98.45 3 | 95.60 2
3 Michigan A = 93.17 11 1 75.44( 13) 0 1 | 3 1 | 99.52 2 | 88.84 8
4 LSU A = 92.36 10 2 73.75( 25) 2 1 | 2 2 | 94.08 5 | 90.30 5
5 Louisville A = 91.75 10 1 73.07( 31) 0 0 | 1 1 | 89.57 13 | 93.62 3
6 Florida A = 91.39 11 1 73.53( 27) 2 0 | 4 1 | 96.60 4 | 87.42 10
7 California A = 91.00 8 3 80.80( 2) 0 2 | 4 2 | 90.07 11 | 91.29 4
8 Arkansas A = 87.69 10 2 70.59( 49) 1 2 | 3 2 | 92.67 7 | 83.69 17
9 Tennessee A = 87.31 9 3 76.89( 10) 1 3 | 3 3 | 89.84 12 | 84.65 14
10 Boise State A = 87.28 12 0 64.09( 99) 0 0 | 2 0 | 92.95 6 | 82.95 18
College Football 2006 through games of November 25 Saturday the BCS uses the ELO_CHESS from here
HOME ADVANTAGE= 2.69 RATING W L SCHEDL(RANK) VS top 10 | VS top 30 | ELO_CHESS | PREDICTOR

11 Notre Dame A = 86.51 10 2 74.38( 19) 0 2 | 2 2 | 91.59 9 | 82.41 20
12 Auburn A = 86.46 10 2 73.24( 29) 2 1 | 3 2 | 91.65 8 | 82.31 22



Hmmm: USA Today gives Michigan a harder schedule, prior to the Arkansas game. Michigan has better wins (Notre Dame 10-2, Wisconsin, 11-1) as well as wins over Penn State 8-4.

One might count 6-6 Minnesota and 6-6 Iowa

On the other hand, Florida has wins over 10-3 Arkansas, 9-3 Tennessee, 10-2 LSU, 8-4 Southern Miss and then wins over some 7-5 teams; South Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia as well as 6-6 Alabama and Florida State.

Though I think that Michigan is better, they had their shot and so I'd go with Florida.

Still, it doesn't matter as Ohio State would whip either, in my opinion.

Now, who will we see in the Cotton Bowl? I'll know one team this evening (the Oklahoma, Nebraska loser; I call this the "lost to Texas bowl").