Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not My President

Powell Aide Calls Bush "Sarah Palin-Like President":

"I'm going to say 'more insulting to Palin.' Palin's something of a laughingstock, but Bush is a villain. I mean, he wrecked the world economy, he led to millions of Iraqis being forced to flee their homes, he's a total disaster and a disgrace. Palin gave bad answers in TV interviews. There's no real comparison."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

U.S. policy towards Israel


In a democracy, one could expect that politicians would be afraid to express a view that 70% of the citizens oppose. Yet here we have the exact opposite situation: no mainstream politician would dare express the view that 70% of Americans support; instead, the universal piety is the one that only a small minority accept. Isn't that fairly compelling evidence of the complete disconnect between our political elites and the people they purportedly represent?

Failure to Learn

During the American Revolution, the British viewed the American Revolutionaries as terrorists for failure to face them according to the established rules of combat. Given that we live in a country founded from terrorism, how have we come to be unable to understand the causes of it? Is it because our Nation, like the majority of our citizens, has become fat and lazy?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ship of Fools

I guess I'm a bit behind on putting this up, but it's still a good read.

The decline of the Republican Party | Ship of fools | The Economist

Richard Weaver, one of the founders of modern conservatism, once wrote a book entitled “Ideas have Consequences”; unfortunately, too many Republicans are still refusing to acknowledge that idiocy has consequences, too.

Catching Up

Christmas was fun. It was good to see the family and take a break from the grind.

Wednesday night was an exercise in excess. John had an xmas party, lots of food, sake, food, soju, food, tequila, and um, food. The food and drink were in plenty, and then some. By all rights it was more than should ever be ingested, but it was too good to turn down.

So needless to say Thursday (today? Why, It's Christmas Day!) got off to a bit of a slow start. After getting up around noon and dealing with curing the maladies of said evening, it was time to hit the road. It must have been a great idea, because everyone else decided to do the same thing. A two and a half hour trip turned into a four hour trip. Even listening to Orson Scott Card couldn't completely dissipate the annoyance of sitting in traffic.

But that's easily forgotten. I had a good time and came out of the deal with a lot more to read, and watch, and listen to. Plus I got a great jersey, and an awesome camera.

Friday morning my Dad said the Pakistan was massing troops on the India border. I've learned to check out things that my Dad says, mostly because he gets his info entirely from the MSM (or less reputable sources). Sure enough it was true, but while it all over the American media sources, World Sources considered it less important.

Mostly because Israel is at it again.

Funny to see things like:
White House blames Hamas for new Mideast violence

White House: Hamas must agree to durable ceasefire

US pushes to curb Hamas

While the MSM seems clear to favor the position the Israel has a right to defend itself. It's interesting to me to compare this with the Russia/Georgia conflict. When Israel looks to protect its interests, it is supported, when Russia does, its vilified.

Hmmm. Self-Interest anyone?

I guess I should stop, and defer to someone better at this than me.


It's not for me...

Friday, December 26, 2008

World Leader Pretend

Not one supporting vote. Not one!

Approved by a vote of 177 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 2 abstentions (Canada and Israel),the resolution on the right to development would have the Assembly call on the Council to continue to ensure that its agenda promotes and advances sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals and to lead to raising the right to development as set out in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, to the same level and on a par with all other human rights and fundamental freedoms (Annex IV).

Monday, December 22, 2008



Jeff Buckley

Sagittarius: The confluence
of Mars and Jupiter suggests
you are thinking about
recording your own version
of Hallelujah. Don't.


Yesterday I had the unfortunate realization that Winter is just starting. Hopefully it will a rain a bunch, snow a bunch and get it done with and we can have a nice early Spring. I celebrated yesterday by riding through the park in the rain. I figure that riding in the cold, in the rain, and on crappy roads, on a bike that can't seem to decide what gear it wants to be in, would earn me HTFU points. Anyway, it beat sitting on the couch.

I'm really wanting a new bike, but it's the same old dilemma; To get the bike that I want, or to get the bike that's better than what I have. I can't even be sure that, if I get the bike I want, it will end up being the bike I want in six months. As I write this I realize that the bike I want now, is not the bike I wanted 2 months ago.

It's tempting to just get a frame and have something to play with. Of course, it doesn't take much in the way of foresight to see this leading to an apartment full of bikes in a short period of time.

I'm thinking of getting a bike fitting. I know I can ride anything from 57-60, but it would be nice to see which is the most efficient. They're a bit pricey, but probably worth it. I'll have to look into it after Christmas.

There are a couple shows on the horizon. I'd love to see the Truckers with Centro-Matic in Athens. But that seems unlikely. More likely is seeing Jason Isbell with Deer Tick at the Beachland Ballroom.

Centro-Matic is awesome. I just was turned on to them recently, I've gone out and purchased their catalog and am thoroughly impressed. I haven't warmed up to South San Gabriel as fast, but that will probably come with time.

And for those who think the recent storms across the nation are fuel for the "Global Warming Isn't Real" arguement. Please read this.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Most Important Number on Earth

The Most Important Number on Earth

And we have a number—350. The most important number on earth. If the Internet has a cosmic purpose, this could be it—to take that number and spread it everywhere on the planet, so that everyone, even if they knew little else about climate change, understood that it represented a kind of safety, a bulwark against the monsoon turning erratic, the sea rising over their fields, the mosquito spreading up their mountain.

And up from the ground...

came a bubbling, WTF!?!?!

The scene outside the shop today

Hmmm Let's get a closer look..

Ooooooh Bubbles

Dig In

Whatever it is, the chance of it being something good are just about zero.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's going to be a long time

Before we stop hearing about these kind of things...

"MacDonald's zeal to advance her agenda has caused considerable harm to the integrity of the ESA program and to the morale and reputation" of the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as potential harm to animals under the Endangered Species Act.

"Her heavy-handedness has cast doubt on nearly every ESA decision issued during her tenure,"

Completely Out of Hand

I expected it to be cold in Cleveland, I accept that it will be cold from time to time in SF.

But Jesus-Christ-On-A-Bicycle, leave Vegas alone

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ready for Hibernation

At the risk of being repetitive, it's f***ing cold.
Wake me when this crap is over.

Only 8 shopping days left...

Winter is just not my thing. Two things I despise: Cold and shopping. Imagine how happy I am to go shopping in the cold.

Merry Xmas my ass.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008


Saw Margot + last night at the Beachland Ballroom. It was a short show, but pretty good, even considering they didn't play "Quiet as a Mouse."

This morning there was snow...

It's been snowing on and off all day, and cold. Saw the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum - heavy on the auto, light on the aviation.

Two down, two-hundred to go (j/k E!).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fighting the Good Fight

"It's not right when such groups interrupt. Each country has its own food culture, and whale is part of ours."

Let me just add to that, BULLSHIT.

What if my culture dictated that I should bludgeon anyone who eats whales?

Wrong is wrong. Unfortunately identifying what is wrong requires more thought than the average human seems capable of.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Monday, and It's Bloody Cold

Cold is good when it's describing beer, otherwise I can do without it. Now there is, what I consider to be, a general misconception about what cold is. So to clear things up, here is how my personal thermometer works:

<60 Intolerably Cold
60-70 Cold
70-80 Nice
80-90 Warm
90-100 Ideal
100-110 Getting uncomfortable
110+ Hot

I view people that speak of things like 20 degrees, the same way I view people that speak of getting up at 4am, or eating dinner before 8pm, or going to church on Sunday morning, or watching NASCAR on TV. I know that things like this happen, but I don't want any part of it.

So when I say "it's bloody cold", I mean this:

I'm trying to not deal with the fact that in three days, I'll be dealing with:

Better to not think about it yet....

Saturday was fun. I went up to Mt Sutro to do some volunteer work restoring trails.

It was a good group of people. Lot's of other cyclists pitching in. Dan from SF Urban Riders was one of the regulars and it was good to meet him. Everyone there was nice, and we got a lot done.

I tried to get a picture of E doing some work, but I couldn't get a good one, so you'll just have to believe that she did it.

Dinner at John's was outstanding as always. And was a great end to the day.

Sunday, I made myself get out and ride Conzelman, even though it was really too cold to be outdoors, I did it anyway. HTFU is my new bike riding motto. So I'm not going to let frostbite stand between me and becoming a better/faster rider.

So there.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blah Blah Blah

Or, "It's My Birthday and My Blog, I'll write what I Effin' Please!

People fascinate me. Collectively, I think people are greedy, selfish, paranoid, reactionary and lazy. Generally, I tend to view people as a whole, with contempt. But individuals are different. It's very rare that I can't find something in common with a person. I generally know enough about what's going on in the world around me to be able to contribute to whatever conversation/discussion I find myself involved in (except TV- don't have one, don't want one). Inevitably people end up talking about some other group in a non-complimentary fashion- Republicans, Liberals, Gays, Arabs, Jews, Women, Cyclists, Blacks, French, etc., and it is always the same script- it's just the subject that changes... "Things would be so much better if it weren't for those damn _______, they ruin everything." There are lots of variations - "Mexicans are taking all the jobs and killing the economy", "cyclists don't belong on the roads", "Muslims are all terrorists".... ad inifinitum.

So are people defined by who they hate? Here's what I think (and yes, this is my opinion, and no, no one is making you read this) People have an overblown sense of self importance and are generally insecure. People are social, they like to belong to a group, a club, a society, whatever. So they find one, maybe they find it because of shared beliefs, maybe because of a perceived status, maybe because they think someone in the group is cute, maybe it's out of relief to find a group that is accepting. Once in the group, they take on more of the characteristics of that group and the group becomes a part of the individuals identity.

Let's say that this group has a core belief that Red Roses are the best flower in the world. The whole group agrees and they all commend each other on being so wise for understanding this. What happens when they meet someone that thinks Peach Roses are the best, or Orchids, or Daisies, or Tulips? This is where the insecurity part kicks in and things tend to fall apart. See, the group can't just be secure in their appreciation and acceptance of the Red Rose's dominance. They have to see everyone else with differing beliefs as a threat. Why? Because it brings up the possibility that they are wrong- maybe they will harbor secret thoughts about whether or not the Red Rose really is the best flower.

Of course in the grand scheme of things 1) Who Cares? and 2)So What?

But because this group has become part of the individuals identity, a challenge to the group is a challenge to the individual and instead of a debate about the relative merits of flowers, things turn into a series of personal attacks. "You like Daisies, you're stupid". At this point there is no debate, there are no compromises reached by an intelligent exchange of ideas. All effort is focused on trying to find information (usually in the form of biased statistics) that support what the individual already believes.

In other words, people aren't interested in learning anything new, they are interested in being recognized as being "right". It's important to note that it is not *being right* that people want, it is being recognized as being right. In this case, that equates to "winning".

An obvious example of this is Paul Krugman. A brilliant economist who was recently awarded the Nobel Prize. After the award was announced, I read a comment that basically stated it was unfortunate that the Nobel Prize had become a "Political Award" instead of one based on merit. Whoever made the comment (which is not to say there was just one dissenting voice, but it's the one I'm using for my example) could step back and say "Wow, this guy is brilliant, but his views are different than mine. Maybe I should spend some time learning about what he says. He did just win the Nobel Prize after all." Nope. This guy didn't like that Krugman has liberal views, so he didn't care what Krugman had to say. If I was into the whole betting thing, I'd put money on the commenter not being able to understand the subject matter anyway. Which just reinforces my position. If you put someone in a situation where they are hopelessly outmatched, they find a diversion. Imagine if I dared debate Stephen Hawking. He'd make some brilliant statement about string theory, which I wouldn't even be able to understand, let alone refute, so I'd respond with "You're in a wheel chair, bitch!"

How very dignified and mature, right?

It's easier for people to be dismissive of dissent than to try and educate themselves to the point of understanding it.

Look at the recent Presidential Election results. It was considered an overwhelming victory for Obama. But the US margin of victory paled in comparison to World Opinion.

Why the difference? Looking at voter data, we see that over 42% of registered voters were Democrats and roughly 33% were Republican. A slightly larger overall gap than the final results. Since these were registered voters and not actual voters (National voter turnout was around 53%)

So why was it so much closer in the US than in the rest of the World? In my opinion it's because even though McCain/Palin was an ugly Red Rose, people insisted on supporting it. Voting otherwise would cause them to question their preformed opinions about what is right.

More telling than the results though, is the campaign. Claims of "Liberal", "Socialist" and "Terrorist" were often floated around in attacking Obama. Obviously none of these are true. His voting record is not liberal, his Cabinet choices have not been liberal or Socialist. It will be hard for him to do anything more Socialist than the current administration's actions of late.

Clearly these attacks were not intended to be educational or even informational. They were meant to scare people that were currently uninformed and expected to be too lazy to verify the information being given to them.

It makes me think of the following quote:

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Herman Goering

Another example that affects me directly is the conflict between cycling and driving. As a commuter by both car and bike, I see some amazing things. I see both incompetent and reprehensible behavior on both sides. I'm always amazed though, at hearing motorists complain about cyclist acting entitled to use the same roads. Which is odd, because they are. I see people using there motorized vehicles as weapons to intimidate the vulnerable cyclists as if to say "I'm bigger than you, I could kill you, stay out of my way." and this seems perfectly acceptable to them.
Yet this behavior is no different than if I were to see them: on the sidewalk, in the supermarket, in a bar, etc. and threatened them because I am bigger than they are.

I've had people intentionally try to run me off the road while yelling at me that I didn't belong on the road, I've been hit by people that turned without signalling and weren't paying attention. I've been hit be people pulling out of a parking spot without looking. The list of times I've almost been hit by people who had no idea I was even there is too many to count.

There must be some level of jealousy involved, for this to be such an emotional issue with people. Driving in heavy traffic is inherently frustrating and stressful.
More so in SF than anywhere else I've lived. Drivers that see cyclists not being affected by the heavy traffic must be resentful of it. To be fair, drivers are not courteous to other drivers either, but cutting off a car with another car is not likely to lead to injury. And the cut off car cannot ultimately ride past the offending driver and offer advise on how to improve the poor technique.

Motorists see bikes as something they can take out their frustrations on. Much like someone that comes home from a bad day at work and kicks the dog/ smacks the kids.

Yet to hear people try and justify this behavior by blaming bikes holds up to scrutiny about as well as a colander holds water.

But they aren't trying to be right, they are trying to make people believe they are right. They are trying to "Win". Maybe that's what it all about. So many games, so many contests, so many challenges, and so few winners adds up to a lot of discontented, bitter, spiteful people.

I'm not saying I don't fall into this as well, but I do like learning things, anything. Any day I've learned something is a successful day.

I'll close with another quote, from my favorite band.

Trying to hold steady on the righteous path
80 miles and hour with a worn out map
No time for self-pity or self-righteous crap
Trying to stay focused on the righteous path

Patterson Hood / Drive-By Truckers

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Piece of Work Indeed

This is what went through my head while reading this.

"What piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
you seem to say so."

William Shakespeare- Hamlet

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On being slow

I was reading this post today about being "the slow guy" on group rides. It's a really crappy feeling. I've been riding for about 15 years now, I've raced some, but not in a long time, and not that much. Still, I like bike racing. I like watching it, I like talking about it and I like doing it. Even if "doing it" involves me attacking an imaginary group while I'm on a solo ride.

I think back to the SF Flow ride I did last month. I was definitely the slow guy. I don't think I finished last, and I did the whole course, but I was literally hours behind the winners. I don't like that.

Of course, my livelihood isn't dependant on my being able to ride fast and I lack the time required to train to get fast (and I lack the motivation to get up to ride at 4am, and stop eating really good food and drinking really good drink). But I still like the idea of riding fast, and wish I was better at it.

Now, to be clear, when I go for a ride I end up passing more than I get passed (by a lot, thank you very much). But any time I ride with anyone that I think would be fun to race against, well, it usually isn't because I end up on the verge of puking while they ride on up the road.

So what to do? Get better at accepting it? Not likely anytime soon. Train harder? Easier said than done. Keep on being annoyed by it? Yep, that sounds about right.

There are so many good rides around here, there have been a lot of great 'cross races in SF and around the Bay Area. But I haven't done any. Why? First, because I don't really want to do them on my fairly crappy mountain bike. Second, because crappy bike or not, I'll be far closer to the back than the front, and that's just not fun for me.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've been too quick to frustration when things didn't come easy to me (and yet I always find challenging hobbies, maybe I'm a closet masochist?).

I gave up racing when I couldn't be competitive- because I work a lot and don't have time to train (see above note about questionable motivation).

There are so many excuses for not being able to train enough, and it's so thankless. And it requires so much discipline- and sacrifice. I loves me some going out. Hard to imagine saying "No, I better skip the Truckers show, I want to get up early and ride tomorrow."

I guess if I was to advise me, I would quote Stuart O'Grady. HTFU!

Monday, December 1, 2008

god is everywhere

In Texas.

In Kentucky.

Despite the Alaskan Governor's claims to the contrary "Under God" was added to Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. The Pledge was written in 1892.

In Sao Paolo.

In Arizona.

Lastly, in bed.