Sunday, January 28, 2007

Snowfall

It’s snowing out. Even though I know that it’s only a snow shower and won’t last, right now the flakes are falling thick and fast giving the impression that it’s a much more significant snowfall than it really is. It puts me in mind of the heavier snowfalls we got in the northeast, where it would look like this all day.

The best part about that sort of snowfall is the peace and contentment you can get from being inside watching it fall. If it was coming down in the liquid equivalent the feeling would be much more depressing. A heavy rainfall pounds on the roof and the windows, makes everything dark and dank, and generally makes you feel like you’re trying to get away from something by staying indoors. A heavy snowfall on the other hand lightens everything and is almost silent. In fact, one of the best things about snowfall is the light sound it does make. A soft rushing sound that you can really only hear when everything around you is still.

And everything is still in snowfall. The softness of the flakes absorbs all the sound, and even in the middle of the woods what was already quiet becomes even more so. You can feel yourself get completely wrapped up in the silence; but rather than a cold, isolating silence like you might get in a cave or an empty room, the silence of snow completely envelops you and makes you feel surrounded by something soft.

Many of my favorite memories of growing up involve snowfall and winter. I remember sitting for hours in front of a big picture window reading an entire book while watching the snow fall outside. I remember cross-country skiing through lightly falling snow to a cabin in the woods. I remember skating over a frozen lake as the snow wafted across the ice in front of me in little wisps, and the only sound was my skates and the occasional boom of the entire sheet of ice shifting along the shore.

February has been the worst month for me for many years now. It seems like I get into my worst doldrums as soon as February rolls around, and it doesn’t really lift until we begin to see some warmth and sunlight again in March. But I don’t remember this happening when I was growing up. I remember making it through the extended winters in New Hampshire where the snow would often last through until May without this sort of depression coming over me.

I finally realized a few years ago that it’s Ohio that does this to me. In Ohio, it essentially clouds over around Election Day and doesn’t clear until St. Patrick’s. On top of that, we rarely get any sort of significant snowfall here. The last big snowfall I remember here was a few years back and only amounted to about 6-8 inches. Instead we get a cold drizzle that never seems to end. It’s a huge disincentive for me to get on my bike, and riding is one of the few things that can successfully break me out of a depression.

So the snow falls outside and I’m reminded ever so slightly of the closeness of a heavy snowfall, or the blazing blue skies that come with the Canadian high pressure right behind it. I remember the joy of schussing down freshly packed powder through pine and maple forests. I remember splitting logs to keep a wood stove burning through the night as the snow swirls around outside. I remember walking through a foot of snow across a field and falling on my back to gaze up at the stars whose light is reflected off the bed of white all around me, feeling that I belonged to something much bigger than myself.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Restate of the Union

Well, I wasn't going to post anything about the State of the Union, but I've got too much banging around in my head not to.

If I had to describe the speech in one word, it would be "weak." The overwhelming feeling I got from the clips and analysis I heard this morning and my reading the text is that this is a president who has lost the nation and lost whatever slim hold he had on the reins of government, and in his inability to do what the people want has rendered himself unnecessary. In the hands of a better leader or even a better speaker this could have been an opportunity to restart, acknowledge that he has heard what the people have said, and to then actually do something about it. As it is, we heard nothing new, nothing inspiring, nothing revolutionary, and mostly things that were frustratingly old and tired.

On the economy:

He wants to balance the budget. Um, there was this guy who kinda did that a few years back already. And I'm pretty sure that a big part of the reason it isn't balanced right now is due to an ill-advised war with a country who posed no immediate threat to us.

He wants to expose earmarks in legislation. Wait, didn't I hear that the new Democratic congress was going to do that?

He wants to save Social Security and Medicare/aid. Bully. So do the rest of us. You've had 6 years. Anything to show for that?

On education:

No Child Left Behind part deux (pronounced "duh"). How do they keep getting away with calling this program a success?

Shortly after it passed I had the opportunity to sit in on a teachers' meeting at an inner city school in academic emergency. The principal laid it out for the teachers: over the next few years they had to show a certain percentage increase each year in the number of students passing standardized tests or they would lose funding. That means that if they didn't meet those increases in one year, the next year they would have an even bigger percentage to meet. The teachers looked morose.

Here are dedicated people getting paid a pittance to struggle with kids who have no support at home to study or learn, and who come with a wide variety of social and psychological problems that must be dealt with before any teaching can begin. Telling them that the scores have to increase does nothing. What were they doing before you told them that? Sitting on their hands? Please.

And where does the money go that isn't going to these schools that can't measure up? Into charter schools that all too frequently don't have the facilities or the community presence of the public schools, which then have to close because enrollment is falling because they don't have the money to offer the programs that kept kids there in the first place. The entire primary education system in this country is badly broken, and it will take more than testing to fix it.

On health care:

Again, what the hell good are tax breaks supposed to do? The system is broken. Putting more money into taxpayer hands at the expense of a government that can't afford it does nothing to change the fact that health insurance is too damn expensive. A big part of the reason it's so expensive is that people who don't have insurance go to expensive emergency rooms for primary care. Hmm.... how to fix that.... I've got it! Universal Health Care!

On immigration:

Okay, this one is a big bugbear for me. I've always firmly believed that the free market really is working in this case. The reason there are so many immigrants coming here illegally is because there are jobs for them that no one here right now wants. They're really not stealing our jobs. Even if they were paid fair wages, those jobs would still be there for them. In fact, many of them are earning fair wages already. I finally figured out why this is after hearing an article on NPR a little while ago (although I drew a different conclusion than was presented).

People who are already here in America had the advantages that we all enjoy. If by the time they enter the workforce they don't have a good job, it's because there's something else wrong with them or their work ethic. So the people with a good work ethic have good jobs, and the few people with a poor work ethic don't want the crap jobs. So then you have an immigrant who doesn't have the education or experience for a good job, but he has work ethic out the wazoo. He'll take that crap job so his kids might be able to get advantages of living in America and get the good jobs.

This is what America was built on people! So what should we do? Throw open the borders! No "temporary worker" second-class citizen crap. Ellis Island for the 21st century! If someone wants to come here and be productive, let him! Not only that, but then you'll know that if someone's sneaking across the border he's up to no good, instead of trying to figure out if he's a terrorist or a farmhand.

On energy:

Ethanol, ethanol, ethanol. Cripes. The corn lobby hard at work again. Ethanol is not the solution to our energy problems. In fact no alternative fuel is. The number one solution is conservation. We have the means to massively reduce our energy consumption just by building more efficient machines. Why is no one preaching that? And rather than saying that we're going to produce 35 billion gallons of alternative fuel, why not just throw open the doors to research and let the market decide what will work best?




On terrorism:


The problem here is the same problem we've had since 2001. We never should have dignified this with the word "war." That just completely plays into the terrorists' delusions. "Yippee! I'm at war with America!"

Yes, we should have attacked Afghanistan. There were government supported training camps there. But once we had gotten rid of those, all efforts should have gone into finding and stopping the criminals who ran those camps. When did we stop looking for Bin Laden?

Terrorism is fought with careful detective work and collaboration with other governments around the world. It is not fought on a battlefield. One would have thought that Vietnam had taught us that.

Two other points: First, the terrorist events that he listed as having been stopped were averted without warrantless wiretapping, internment at Guantanamo Bay, any provision of the Patriot Act, or troops in Iraq. Second, how does he get away with quoting Zarqawi? Not only does it give more press to a dead terrorist, but it's a logical fallacy!

On Iraq:

Okay, he all but admits that Iraq is in a civil war, then says we're going to win? What does winning mean? At this point, the only way to "win" in Iraq would be to take sides and put down one side or the other. They're not going to suddenly come to terms, sit down, and sing Kumbayah. So if we took sides that would then piss off one half or the other of the Arab world, some of whom have a stranglehold on oil, others of whom may have nukes soon.

Oh, this is just wonderful, ain't it?

Getting out of Iraq would not increase global terrorism. They're too busy fighting each other to come after us. And any terrorists that might try to operate out of Iraq can and should be stopped through the means mentioned above: good detective work and collaboration with our allies. All our troops are doing in Iraq other than being targets is training the Iraqis how to kill each other more efficiently.


So now what do we do? The overwhelming message of this speech is that this president is a lame duck. This president is more of a lame duck than any 6-year president we've had in recent memory. He is irrelevant. So what we do is rev up the congress. Let them know that we're counting on them to take the action the president is unable or unwilling to take. The first 100 hours looked pretty good. What are you going to do with the next 1000?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Top Ten

Reasons I will not be watching the State of the Union Address.


10. Bush has seen the error of his ways and will be delivering the speech I wrote for him, so I don’t need to watch.

9. The Democrat’s prebuttal will run long and the networks will pre-empt the State of the Union address in favor of the rebuttal pre-show.

8. I’m still mourning the Patriots’ loss on Sunday.

7. I’m still celebrating the Colts’ win on Sunday.

6. The speech isn’t being simulcast in my native language of Igbo.

5. The Daily Show isn’t covering the speech, so why should I watch it?

4. The networks will all finally realize that there are more interesting things to air than the State of the Union address.

3. It will make me angry, and you won’t like me when I’m angry.

2. The surgeon General has determined that prolonged exposure to George W. Bush’s voice causes irreparable brain damage.

And the number one reason I won’t be watching the State of the Union address tonight...


1. Lindsay Lohan’s Shocking Moments is on VH1!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tinfoil Hats

One of the perks of working in a library is that you get to see all the oddball crap that somehow manages to get through agents, editors, and publishers and still wind up on paper. This can range from the fairly mundane Ann Coulteresque baseless rants (like the gem I saw on the shelves the other day for the first time: "Women who make the world worse : and how their radical feminist assault is ruining our families, military, schools and sports." Now there's a page-turner), to the outright freaky ("Children of the matrix : how an interdimensional race has controlled the world for thousands of years-- and still does." I'm not making this up. ISBN 9780953881017).

The fact that this stuff gets published means there must be some sort of market for it, and the fact that the library owns it means either that people requested the title be added or one of our selectors noticed that it was getting sufficient notice in the press or the industry to warrant adding the book to the collection. I'm not sure who among our many customers reads this stuff, and I assure you that while we have our share of nutjobs in and out on a regular basis, I haven't seen anyone capable of sitting down and reading a book who looks like they're sufficiently off their rocker to believe this stuff. Which of course makes it even scarier: you can't tell who they are!

Yesterday a fairly new book came across the desk that caught my eye: "Debunking 9/11 Myths" from the editors of Popular Mechanics. Intrigued, I read the blurb on the back.

Now, I've always known that there were some conspiracy theories around 9/11, but I never thought they got much beyond the sort of Pearl-Harbor-type theories: the idea that FDR knew that the Japanese were going to attack and so let it happen so that the U.S. would enter the war, so similarly that Bush knew that Al Qaeda was going to attack but let it happen so that he could let his buddies at Halliburton take over Iraq. The inevitable problem with these sorts of theories is that the government is so bloody incompetent and leaky that if they were the case, someone somewhere would have spilled his guts about it by now. I mean hell, they couldn't even keep a hotel room break-in secret!

Which is why the level to which the 9/11 conspiracies has risen completely blows my mind. Apparently, there are people out there who sincerely believe (from the back cover):
  • American air defenses were ordered to "stand down" on 9/11
  • The south tower of the World Trade Center was struck by a military aircraft, not a commercial jet
  • The World Trade Center buildings were professionally demolished
  • A missile or miltary jet-- not a Boeing 757-- struck the Pentagon
  • Flight 93 was hit by an air-to-air missile before it crashed in Pennsylvania
I started reading it right away, and it's actually very enjoyable to watch scientists dealing with this sort of insanity in a thoroughly rational way while clearly trying not to spit their coffee across the room when they hear these things.

But the level some of these theories go to! That last one for example. Apparently the first three flights were forced to land at Harrisburg International Airport where the passengers and crew were all transferred to flight 93. The government then flew drone aircraft into the WTC and the Pentagon, and shot down flight 93 with an A10 Thunderbolt painted white to disguise its military origins (have you seen an A10? They don't exactly look civilian...). The remaining three planes were then dumped over the Atlantic.

Huh?

I guess that these sorts of things come from the human desire to impose order on a highly disorderly world. In some sort of twisted way, it's more comforting to think that a vast and hidden conspiracy is responsible for something this awful rather than a mere 19 men who figured out where our weak spots were. Personally, I have always taken comfort in other parts of that day: F-16s flying close cover over D.C. after the Pentagon attack, firemen racing up flights of stairs on the off chance they might get one more person out, and a small group of people on a plane who just weren't going to take it sitting down.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Apple? What Apple?


This evening as I was driving home listening to the news a segment called the "Evening market report" came on. This features a woman from a local brokerage calling in a recording of how the market went during the day. It covers the indexes and any significant action on big ticket items. As usual, I basically tuned this segment out. I have only a passing interest in how the market fares, since the closest I come to playing the market is deciding to put 30% of my retirement money into OPERSs "aggressive" portfolio (Oooo. Life on the edge, I know).

As she rattled off her list of events, she happened to mention that Apple's stock is up. No suprise there, right? The only odd thing was that she introduced it as "Apple, maker of the Ipod music player."

My first reaction to this was "anyone who doesn't know that Apple makes Ipods has been living in a shepherd's shack on the South Island of New Zealand for the last three years."

But then something a little more disturbing dawned on me. Presumably, the only people who would care about what this woman has to say are investors. If an investor has decided to buy stock in a company, presumably s/he has researched the company at least minimally in order to decide if it's a good investment. If a person who has sunk money into Apple stock doesn't know that they make Ipods, why did they invest in Apple?

It all put me in mind of the story about Joe Kennedy in 1928. Legend has it that Joe sold out all his stock in 1928 after his shoeshine boy started giving him stock tips. He figured that if novices like the shoeshine boy were in the market, it was probably overloaded and ready to collapse.

Seriously folks, before you spend your money on something, at least do us all the favor of figuring out what you're doing? That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hat Trick

I’ve had a run of extraordinary good luck with my reading selections lately.

I suppose I should start by explaining that my method for deciding what books to read is not at all predictable. I used to read heavily in a few specific genres: police procedural mysteries, English “cozy” mysteries, adventure/espionage thrillers, and Sci Fi/Fantasy. At some point in time I began to lose patience with most of the material written in those genres. All that is left of my desire to read genres is some mysteries (which I suppose could be lumped into some sort of English mystery category—think anything the BBC would turn into a series), hard Sci Fi (if it’s not based in scientific theory I don’t want to read it), and very well written fantasy (but only occasionally and it had better have a different slant to it than most).

Given that all my tried and true sources had begun to bore me, I started just looking for anything new. I suppose this is a good thing for a librarian (although it would be better if I read more books than I do), but what’s surprising is how varied the results can be. Basically I look for new things coming in that pique my interest in some way or other. Interesting characters, new takes on old themes, meaningful insights into the human condition. In other words, books that tend to get lumped into the very broad category of “literate fiction.”

The unfortunate side effect of this is that I wind up reading a lot of crap. Apparently there are still a lot of people out there trying to write the Great American Novel, and the results are pretty disappointing. If I had to guess at what makes the difference between a decent book that I have to slog through and a great book that I want to tell other people about, it is whether or not the author was trying to write the book or if the book came to be. Anyone out there who’s tried writing knows that the former is death, the latter is brilliance.

Which is why it’s so odd that I’ve had three in a row that have hit the ball out of the park. They really have nothing to do with each other, except that I’ve read them and liked them all. So, without further ado, I humbly present to you my latest selections.

Brothers by Da Chen.

I have been fascinated for a very long time by Asia generally and China specifically. I’ve done a lot of reading about Chinese history, especially Chinese history from the end of the empire to today. Oddly enough, I have learned more about the Chinese people and culture from reading novels by Chinese authors than I have from any work of non-fiction. This book fits into this trend perfectly. Brothers tells the story of two half-brothers, fathered by the favorite son of two of the most powerful families in Maoist China. Each brother has the intelligence and the drive to become great and do great things. However, over the course of the Vietnam war, the Cultural Revolution, the death of Mao, and the opening of communist China to the west, the brother who seemed to be the favorite son finds himself brought low, while the bastard son is elevated to the highest levels. Not only does this story illustrate so much of what is wrong with China and so much of what could be right, it also shows how people with the best motives can find themselves in a position of doing horrible things.

Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle

I’ve always liked T.C. Boyle’s style of writing, and his topics are always new and interesting. In Talk Talk he takes on the specter of identity theft, but approaches it with the insight, novelty, and humor that marks all his books. Dana Halter is a happy and successful teacher with a nice boyfriend and a good job. She also happens to be deaf, while her boyfriend is hearing. One day during a routine traffic stop she finds herself arrested and taken to jail for things she didn’t do. It eventually becomes clear that her identity has been stolen. When she finds that the police and the government are unwilling or unable to do anything about it, she resolves to go after the man responsible herself. Her boyfriend decides to put his job and his life on the line to go with her. Boyle then introduces us to the thief: a man with his own life, needs, and reasons for doing what he does. The ensuing cat and mouse game between the two turns into a cross-country chase that will wholly engage you in the lives of the characters, as well as what it means to be who we are, and how we all communicate with each other. Boyle’s descriptions of the events in this story are so compelling that you will find your heart racing and your nerves on edge with the difficulty of the situations the characters find themselves in.

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens

My sister-in-law’s husband received this as a gift for Christmas, and when I read the fly-leaf I couldn’t figure out how it had slipped beneath my radar. This is exactly the sort of book I look for. Set during the great potato famine in Ireland, the story follows a boy named Fergus as he watches the simple world he knew of mountains, fields, and cattle in County Clare crumble and die in the face of the terrible blight. After his entire family dies and he is ejected from the land of the farmer whose tenants his family was, he gradually makes his way through a series of trials from the mountains of western Ireland to Dublin to Liverpool and eventually on to America. The story is expertly paced, with the adventures moving quickly enough to keep you turning the pages, but not so quickly that you can’t appreciate the trials he goes through and relish in his triumphs, however small they may be. A great telling of a horrible tale, and another great story about the ability of the human soul to overcome anything.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What Kind of Reader are You?

I've shamelessly swiped this quiz from the Well Dressed Librarian, who in turn borrowed it from the Tiny Little Librarian. All these librarians with blogs... who's looking after the books?

But seriously, it's a fun quiz, and I feel remarkably satisfied with my top ranking of "Literate Good Citizen" with an "Obsessive Compulsive Bookworm" chaser. Nothing too fancy for me. I'm more than happy to leave the book snobbery to those with the passion to do it properly.


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Book Snob

Fad Reader

Non-Reader

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Making the World Safe for Democracy


Democracy isn't everything it's cracked up to be.

Don't get me wrong, I love the United States, and like Churchill I'm pretty sure that Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. But Democracy isn't the end-all and be-all of government in the world. Not only does it clearly have its own set of problems, but other varieties of government can clearly persist, be stable, and support the population sufficiently well that humanity has come to encompass the entire globe, living (for the most part) lives that are relatively comfortable and rewarding compared to our distant ancestors'.

This is the point where my non-libertarian friends start making observations about the supression of various peoples, starvation and poverty throughout the world, and the elevation of a priviledged few at the expense of the vast majority.

Um, this is different from America how?

Maybe in America our situation isn't as bad as elsewhere, but supression? We've got it in spades: Native Americans, African-Americans, people who look and talk differently. Starvation and poverty? Hell yes. Walk through the urban core of any major city and you'll see that. Elevation of a priviledged few at the expense of the rest? Halliburton, Enron, Microsoft, the entire Bush family...

And lest we forget, one of the greatest thinkers to come out of the Cradle of Democracy, Ancient Greece, thought that Democracy was an awful idea. Plato thought that hoi polloi were too easily swayed by good speakers or beautiful people and should not be left to govern themselves. Hmm... maybe he was onto something there...

But I really think that America's strengths and advantages have much less to do with our form of government than with our cultural standards and world view. The reason a determined person in America can go from poor immigrant to CEO of a multi-billion dollar company isn't because Democracy ensures equal treatment. Rather it's because Americans for the most part (and maybe grudgingly) respect and make way for the can-do attitude. Americans also seem to put up with a lot of shit, but when push comes to shove won't stand for it and make change. That attitude can range from the relatively mild response of the recent mid-term elections, to the more extreme American Revolution or the response of the passengers on flight 93.

Maybe Democracy has helped to inspire this world view, but I'd much more likely lay the inspiration at the feet of the pioneers who came over here to establish lives for themselves away from their cultural centers. America was created by people who got tired of the way the rest of society treated them and so struck out on their own. Let's not get into the morality of killing and subjugating the native peoples and just take this at face value: we're here now, and that's how we got here.

Why this obsession with determining what is the "best" form of government, and then pushing that on everyone else? As much as we might like to see the people of the world determining their own destiny, there's an excellent chance that Democracy simply doesn't work as well for other cultures as it has for us. Maybe a prerequisite for a workable Democracy is that take-no-shit attitude, and cultures that have been taking shit for millennia just aren't up to it.

In the meantime, here we are now in the 21st century, and more and more signs are appearing that Democracy will cease to be the dominant form of government in the world. In fact, it's starting to look like the dominant form of government in this century will be the as yet un-named mix of communism and capitalism that is developing in China. I don't want to live in China, and China has massive problems with suppression, poverty, and unjust elevation of a minority that are yet to be addressed at all. But strange and wonderful things are happening there, and the philosopher in me can't wait to see what develops. Here is something truly new.

So could we please let go of this bizarre desire to see "true Democracy" in Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, China, and so many other countries? If the countries have moral or social problems, let's address those issues directly rather than insiting on Democracy as the cure for all ills. Foisting Democracy on the entire world is a dated, cold-war era concept that deserves to go the way of fins on cars, Mr. Ed, duck and cover, and so many other things from that era.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Surge

The administration's "New Plan for Iraq" is becoming much clearer now, and it's worse than any of us could have thought.

When I first started hearing about "surging" the troop level last month, I thought it sounded idiotic enough on it's own. I mean, what possible good could another 15,000 troops do that the forces already there haven't been able to accomplish in 3 years, other than provide more targets for "insurgents" that we can't seem to find or stop anyway?

But this morning I hear that they're changing the mission from assisting the Iraqi forces to "securing the population."

Doesn't that just send chills down your spine? Ring any bells of "Advisers" in Vietnam?

Apparently, despite repeated claims that we won't get involved in a civil war in a foreign country, and despite the smackdown delivered by the American people to the administration in November, the solution that they've come up with isn't any sort of extrication out of this mess, but escalation instead.

So let's review. We went to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat to the United States due to harboring weapons of mass destruction. When none were found, we were in Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and secure the Middle East. When the Iraqi people fell into civil war and the Middle East became even more unstable, we were in Iraq to help the Iraqi forces regain control of the country. And when it has now become clear that the Iraqi forces either can't or won't restore control, we're in Iraq to what, kill everybody?

Now we know why Pelosi and some of the other Dems have been talking such a hardline about cutting the purse strings. The administration is yet again completely ignoring everyone around them and pursuing their own agenda regardless of what the majority of Americans want or what very intelligent people who know what they're talking about say. Let's just hope these new representatives and senators have the guts to do it.

But I swear the next time I hear one of the adminstration talking heads say that the American people want to "win" in Iraq I'm going to scream. Does anybody even know what "winning" in Iraq would mean? Why in the name of all that's holy is no one in power talking about impeaching this madman?

Friday, January 5, 2007

1260


I rode my bike 1260 miles in 2006.

I think.

I kinda ran my bike computer through the wash in March, and while I'm pretty sure there were about 250 miles on it at that point, there might have been more. The actual mileage from March through December though was 1010. It took me 56 hours and 26 minutes to ride that distance, which makes an average speed of 17.9 mph.

So you probably think that's pretty good, huh? Well, to me it's another New Year's resolution down the drain. In 2005 I rode 1444 miles at about the same average speed, and I resolved to ride further, faster in 2006. So much for that one.

I guess in my defense I could point out that I took two more weeks off work during the summer than I usually do, and since most of my riding is the 16 miles round-trip to work, I lost 160 miles during peak weather right there. Plus at the end of the year I was sick during some of the last good riding weather in November and December.

This is the point where the hardcore cyclists say "Then break out your cold-weather gear, you wimp, and get on that bike!"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm working on it. I've got some new tights on order that should keep me warmer than my current pair. And I have been feeling a little cooped up and lazy lately. I'll try to get out there soon.

But what really blows my mind is how little any of this is in the grand scheme of cycling. Take the Tour de France. It is kinda the World Series of cycling, and it is longer and more difficult than any other race, but just consider this.

In the 2006 Tour, Floyd Landis rode 2272.4 miles in 89 hours, 39 minutes, and 30 seconds at an average speed of 25.4 mph. That's in 21 days of cycling.

Almost makes you tired just looking at it, doesn't it?

I'll spare you all my usual rant about how Floyd was framed and just say this: his comeback in stage 17 was the most brilliant piece of athleticism I've ever seen, testosterone or no.

I can't wait for July.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

New Year's Resolution

New Year's resolutions are stupid. Let me get that out of the way right away. I don't like them, I almost never make them, and when I have I've failed miserably. Okay, so maybe I'm avoiding the chance of failure by not making New Year's resolutions. What are you, my shrink?

Well, I've made one. I'm going to post to this thing at least once a week. Not only do I really need to get back to writing (instead of playing Runescape all day), but now maybe people will actually know what's going on in my life for a change.

Not that anyone cares what's going on in my life other than the handful of people I'm going to give this address to. If you have managed to stumble onto this site blind, I have to wonder what you're doing here. Maybe you might be interested in the political rantings of a psychopathic libertarian socialist. Or maybe like Michael Moore you think that Librarians are going to take over the world and want an inside track on the state of the revolution (it's going slowly, sorry). Or maybe you're just bored and looking for Charles Manson or Son of Sam trivia and mis-spelled "psycho."

But after all, Time magazine said that I was person of the year for 2006 because of all my online activities. Maybe I'd better start living up to the title and get busy contributing to the flood of useless information that no one seems to be able to figure out how to organize other than Google. (Now there's where the revolution is coming from. Or maybe a coup d'etat? "The Microsoft is dead, long live the Google!" as Won't get fooled again plays in the background.)

I suppose I could take that tangent even further and go off about how someone needs figure out how to organize all this stuff without letting one entity control it all, and hello! the librarians are sitting here waiting! But I'll wait for some time when a news story more recent than Time's person of the year comes along and gets me worked up again. Betcha can't wait, huh? Ah well. At least I enjoy the sound of my own voice.

In the meantime, the insanity that is the holidays has settled down and we're back to some semblance of normalcy, albeit with a tree shedding needles in the middle of our living room. So it's time to try something new. Let's see where this leads to, hmm?