Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spot-Fixing Doesn't Happen in Football, Does it?


The spot-fixing scandal in Pakistan's cricket team has displaced the floods as a top news story (below).  Surely this sort of thing wouldn't happen in English top league football?  Guess again.

Financial Times on IPCC

The Financial Times strikes exactly the right note on the IPCC (and its chairman).  Here is an excerpt:
Restoring public confidence in the IPCC is essential, because it is the main intermediary between scientists and politicians who have to decide on climate policies that could cost the global economy hundreds of billions of dollars. Given that most scientists believe in the need to tackle global warming, the IPCC cannot hope to satisfy the most extreme “climate sceptics”. But it must never again undermine its own credibility by sloppily repeating unsubstantiated statements that exaggerate the risk of climate change, such as the notorious claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

At its plenary meeting in South Korea next month, the 194 national governments that control the IPCC must push through a thorough overhaul of management and procedures. The IPCC needs stronger leadership to maintain credibility, including a new executive committee (with at least one member who is not a climate scientist) and a chief executive rather than a relatively powerless secretary. Although Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman since 2002, has been unfairly vilified in some quarters, his recent performance under pressure has not helped the cause of climate science; the time has come for him to move on.

A rejuvenated IPCC leadership could tackle the deficiencies in its review process. This should become more inclusive, welcoming alternative views where these are scientifically valid, and at the same time more exclusive, rejecting unsubstantiated claims of dramatic change. The many uncertainties need recognition, with IPCC assessments talking more about risks and probabilities than they have in the past. Then the debate can get back to the real issues posed by climate change.

Reminder: EPL Picks Due by Next Week

Get your picks in by next Friday on this comment thread.

What is a Conflict of Interest?

Several conversations that I have had off-blog suggest to me that the notion of "conflict of interest" with respect to scientific advisory panels is not well understood.  The IPCC does not presently have any COI policies so it is impossible to judge whether its chairman, or anyone else, has a conflict.  However, under the application of COI policies of other bodies, such as the UN, WMO and NAS, it is indisputable that the IPCC chairman has conflicts of interest.  This is so patently obvious that is not really worth debating.  Whether the IPCC will implement similar policies , and if they do, whether its current chair will be ruled exempt from them are entirely different questions.

Here is how the US National Academy of Sciences defines the concept with respect to financial interests (PDF):
It is essential that the work of committees of the institution used in the development of reports not be compromised by any significant conflict of interest. For this purpose, the term "conflict of interest" means any financial or other interest which conflicts with the service of the individual because it (1) could significantly impair the individual's objectivity or (2) could create an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization. Except for those situations in which the institution determines that a conflict of interest is unavoidable and promptly and publicly discloses the conflict of interest, no individual can be appointed to serve (or continue to serve) on a committee of the institution used in the development of reports if the individual has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the functions to be performed.

General Principles

The term "conflict of interest" means something more than individual bias. There must be an interest, ordinarily financial, that could be directly affected by the work of the committee. Conflict of interest requirements are objective and prophylactic. They are not an assessment of one's actual behavior or character, one's ability to act objectively despite the conflicting interest, or one's relative insensitivity to particular dollar amounts of specific assets because of one's personal wealth. Conflict of interest requirements are objective standards designed to eliminate certain specific, potentially compromising situations from arising, and thereby to protect the individual, the other members of the committee, the institution, and the public interest. The individual, the committee, and the institution should not be placed in a situation where others could reasonably question, and perhaps discount or dismiss, the work of the committee simply because of the existence of such conflicting interests.

The term "conflict of interest" applies only to current interests. It does not apply to past interests that have expired, no longer exist, and cannot reasonably affect current behavior. Nor does it apply to possible interests that may arise in the future but do not currently exist, because such future interests are inherently speculative and uncertain. For example, a pending formal or informal application for a particular job is a current interest, but the mere possibility that one might apply for such a job in the future is not a current interest.

The term "conflict of interest" applies not only to the personal financial interests of the individual but also to the interests of others with whom the individual has substantial common financial interests if these interests are relevant to the functions to be performed. Thus, in assessing an individual's potential conflicts of interest, consideration must be given not only to the interests of the individual but also to the interests of the individual's spouse and minor children, the individual's employer, the individual's business partners, and others with whom the individual has substantial common financial interests. Consideration must also be given to the interests of those for whom one is acting in a fiduciary or similar capacity (e.g., being an officer or director of a corporation, whether profit or nonprofit, or serving as a trustee).

Financial Interests

The term "conflict of interest" as used herein ordinarily refers to financial conflicts of interest. In assessing potential conflicts of interest in connection with an individual's service on a committee of the institution used in the development of reports for sponsors, particular attention will be given to the following kinds of financial interests if they are relevant to the functions to be performed: employment relationships (including private and public sector employment and self-employment); consulting relationships (including commercial and professional consulting and service arrangements, scientific and technical advisory board memberships, and serving as an expert witness in litigation); stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments and investments including partnerships; real estate investments; patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property interests; commercial business ownership and investment interests; services provided in exchange for honorariums and travel expense reimbursements; research funding and other forms
of research support.
UPDATE:  A colleague remind me of this useful definition, posted long ago on Prometheus:
“A conflict of interest is a set of conditions in which professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as a patient’s welfare or the validity of research) tends to be unduly influenced by a secondary influence (such as financial gain)… The secondary interest is usually not illegitimate in itself, and indeed it may even be a necessary and desirable part of professional practice. Only its relative weight in professional decisions is problematic. The aim is not to eliminate or necessarily to reduce financial gain or other secondary interests (such as preference for family and friends or the desire for prestige and power). It is rather to prevent these secondary factors from dominating or appearing to dominate the relevant primary interest in the making of professional decisions.”

Reference: Thompson D. F., 1993. Understanding Financial Conflicts of Interest. The New England Journal of Medicine, 329:573-576.

IUKL-ranker, Rix

IUKL
IUKLs nya ranking tabell via Girevik Online: LÄNK.


Fler olika rank-tabeller, nya och gamla, finner ni högerkolumnen.


Andreas Rix: SM-kval

Andreas Rix berättar om sitt deltaganade i SM-kvalet i Motala i helgen: LÄNK.

The Will to Power vs. the Work Ethic



Success and failure are relative concepts. A doctor who runs a family practice may be a success relative to his community, but he would be a failure relative to a pricey plastic surgeon pulling down seven figures in Beverly Hills. Similarly, that same plastic surgeon is a failure relative to the oncologist who is pulling off groundbreaking work in the fight against cancer. Success or failure is ultimately determined by values and whether you live up to them or not. But this essay is not about what constitutes success, but the path you choose to get there. How you get there counts as much as the destination.

Consider the example of Lance Armstrong. The man survives cancer and goes on to win the Tour de France seven times. The stories are legendary of the work he put into his training. But then there is the cloud of doping that is hanging over him. His guilt or innocence on that question is important because it determines which path he chose to achieve his values--the will to power vs. the work ethic.

Some folks believe that failure is the result of weakness. It is a lack of will. This is the Nietzschean way. In order to be successful, one must impose his or her will upon the world. The result is a certain viciousness. Fans of Nietzsche will decry my linking him to the Nazi state, but his philosophy informed that hollow movement. Likewise, Lance Armstrong demonstrates the characteristics of someone infected with the will to power philosophy--arrogance, meanness, and derision. The will to power is aggression--pure and simple. The manifestation of the will is all that matters, and success is achieved by overcoming all opposition. It is a war with oneself and with the world.

This will to power outlook is what informs most self-development literature. Believers in the Law of Attraction practice a variation of this will to power thinking. The universe manifests itself according to your will. Basically, if things don't go your way, it is your own damn fault. Quit being a whiny ass fucker. Quit being weak or negative. Since the key to success is merely a manifestation of the will, success promoters like Tony Robbins present a perpetual pep rally. You just need to pump up your will, and the rest will follow.

If all of this sounds like so much bullshit, it is. I think of the Cobra Kai dojo in The Karate Kid with their mantra of STRIKE FIRST. STRIKE HARD. NO MERCY SIR. Naturally, this makes them the bad guys. Yet, Daniel and Mr. Miyagi win with old fashioned hard work. It is this hard work that is the truest path to success.

Aristotle said that excellence is not an act but a habit. Success comes not from power but from practice. It is not an act of will but simply putting on your hard hat each day and putting in the hours. People who choose this path look askance at the will to power people. For the workers, there are no shortcuts. It is not a matter of willpower but work. Will to power people are always willing to take the shortcut. They are willing to compromise ethics, lie, and delude themselves. The work ethic people don't compromise. They are honest with themselves and with others. They know their strengths and their weaknesses.

The best example of this work ethic in action is world record holder Paula Radcliffe. You don't get the weakness/strength rhetoric from her. She is famous for being outspoken on the doping issue in a way that Lance Armstrong never was. And she got to where she is through simple work. She put in a lot of mileage, and it paid off.



For a world record holder, Radcliffe is humble and down to earth. Yet, there are those who deride her for crying over not getting a gold medal or what have you. That is the will to power crowd that smell weakness and pounce. These are the arrogant cocksuckers of the world. I hate these people. For them, owning the world record is illegitimate because the record holder displays weakness. This is absurd.

The reality is that the will to power people are full of shit while the hard workers are real. This is why I think it is important that Lance Armstrong be exposed as a cheater. Armstrong represents a myth. Armstrong beat cancer the same way he won the Tour de France --through the miracles of modern medicine. His victories represent not work but being more ruthless than his opponents. Needless to say, I am not a fan of professional cycling. I think that whole sport is bubbling cesspool of dopers and arrogant cocksuckers. But I digress. . .

I would counsel people to rethink success in terms of work. Put away the Tony Robbins and put together a plan. Figure out what work needs to be done and do it the same way you get up each morning to go earn a living. Be short on desires and long on execution. It helps to have simple goals since you only have so many hours to devote to the project. Then, just work. Put on the hard hat and put in the hours. I can tell you that I have achieved more through my work than I have through my will. I am not the product of my motivation but the product of my habits--for good or bad. The best habit you can have is a good work ethic.

Nostalgic in the Airport

By Scott M Schoettgen
WR at Willamette University

Fellas-
As many of you know, I spent a few weeks in Costa Rica this summer with Ryan Bourke and a study abroad program that is designed to allow athletes to study abroad, train, and share their love for sports with kids in other countries. The mission is to connect the world through sports. Working with these kids for the brief time that I did was one of the most impacting things I have ever done recently, not only for them, but also for myself. I attached a short reflection piece I wrote while I was in the airport on my way home. I'm sharing it because I think perspective and respect for what you have are invaluable pieces to success, however you define it. So if you're interested, have  a look and feel free to let me know if it sparks any thoughts of your own.  The experience I describe will be a reminder to myself of how fortunate we all are to tie up our cleats every day and go to work with each other. So take a look if you like.
Love you guys,
Scott

Nostalgic in the Airport
At 4:30 in the morning I am tired, a little spaced out, but none the less inspired by my time spent in Costa Rica, down to the very waning moments in the airport. Yesterday I almost cried at the sight of a young Costa Rican boy carrying a football down the street in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Jose. At this moment, on this special afternoon, there was nothing poor about this kid.  Under any other circumstances, I would have continued walking on with my day without acknowledging the significance of what I just witnessed, it’s just a boy with a ball, but today this was this kid’s first time holding the very object that I have dedicated the majority of my recent years to catching week in and week out. This was this kid’s first football. 
Just an hour prior, this boy was one of about 60 children who attended Beyond’s first day of youth sports camps, and he was one of the kids who I had the opportunity to share some rudimentary football knowledge with.  The simple things like positions, how to throw a football semi-properly, and how to release all aggression onto a four-foot tall, yellow tackling bag, all things which I have for too long just accepted as the mundane and obvious pieces of my sport, took on much bigger forms with what I experienced yesterday afternoon. 
As this boy ran up the street holding his football with more pride and enjoyment than any teammate or competitor carrying the same ball ever would, he saw my fellow athletes and coaches walking in the opposite direction on the other sidewalk. The only connection that he had to us was the ball he held in his hand, and the acknowledgement, which he made from across the street by yelling in joy and stopping just short of throwing his new ball threw traffic to us, that myself, Ryan Bourke, Ryan Belcher, and Grant Leslie were the ones who had taught him how to use one. But, that connection was strong enough to have more impact on me than any other single moment in my recent recollection. The joy that child had running down the street, with holes in his shoes that let his bare toes poke through onto the sidewalk surface, his smile almost painfully stretched across his face from ear to ear, will carry more emotional influence than any single run, catch, tackle, or other such big play made by myself or any teammate on any team I’ve ever been on.  This moment gratifies every intention to share the sport I love with the kids who may have otherwise never touched a football in their lives.
Throughout my life, my experiences with sports have mitigated the most trying times and most difficult personal experiences. My commitment to teams, teammates, and my own career has helped place me in the most advantageous positions for my own personal advancement, and now I have the ability to share that love with kids internationally. A single football and a positive influence have the power to be a foundation for the same life full of fulfillment. This is just one instance enlightening the power of sports. Yesterday, that boy on the street in Costa Rica was the richest man alive.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Great Opportunity!!

We are on the hunt for a young, competent and deserving local rider (teenager or adult) to campaign Crossiebeg Brennan (all costs covered) locally this season.

This rider would get the opportunity to compete (fairly limited outings) in dressage/show hunter/show jumping/eventing & attend lessons and clinics on our promising young Connemara pony stallion.

This will be an UNPAID position, however we will cover lesson/clinic costs and all show entry fees. Rider must be kind, experienced and confident – we consider this an exceptional opportunity for a talented young rider to bring on a talented young pony with plenty of support from his dedicated owners.

Sound like something you would like to do? Perhaps you know a rider who would be perfect? Please email talisman.farm@gmail.com or phone 06 372 5922 with details. We look forward to hearing from you!



New Sports Illustrated Column on Roger Clemens Arraignment

I have a new SI.com column on today's arraignment of Roger Clemens. Here is an excerpt:
* * *

In the months ahead, Clemens' legal team will also consider whether to accept a trial by jury, as is Clemens' right under the Sixth Amendment, or to request a bench trial, which would leave the question of Clemens' guilt or innocence to Walton. Clemens is likely to accept a jury trial, as he could avoid a conviction if just one of 12 jurors does not find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That very scenario played out in the trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who earlier this month avoided conviction on 23 of 24 counts of lying to the FBI because one of 12 jurors dissented. On the other hand, if Clemens' legal team believes that jurors are likely going to regard Clemens with the same disfavor expressed by many Americans, a bench trial may become a more viable option.

Another key consideration for Clemens' legal team will be whether the former pitcher testifies in the trial. Clemens is not required to testify, and should he decline, the jury will be instructed to not infer guilt from Clemens' choice. There are practical consequences, however, to a defendant not testifying. If Clemens' case boils down to dismissing various prosecution witnesses as liars or persons with flawed memories, a jury may want to see Clemens himself take the stand, look people in the eye and capably respond to questions raised in cross-examination. Clemens' lawyers, however, may not be comfortable with their client answering carefully-crafted questions asked by seasoned and talented prosecutors. After all, federal prosecutors do not enjoy a conviction rate of approximately 90 percent by accident; they are often among the best trial lawyers around. Clemens cannot testify unless he is willing to face prosecutors' questions.

* * *

Still, a number of attorneys remain perplexed by the logic of Clemens to seek a public Congressional hearing to repudiate allegations found in the Mitchell Report and then to testify without obtaining immunity, which would have precluded the charges he now faces. According to the attorney mentioned above, "The decision to have Clemens actually ask to testify before Congress, and then to testify without immunity, was idiotic. No good lawyer would have agreed to that without first obtaining immunity for the witness. That kind of decision-making doesn't bode well for Clemens in this trial. Even if Clemens insisted on testifying, a lawyer is useless if he or she only goes along with the client's wishes."

* * *
To read the rest, click here. For a related video on SI.com, see

Should Rajendra Pachauri Resign?

If you want people to take action, then you obviously would make the arguments that require a certain set of actions.

Rajendra Pachauri, August 2010, Wall Street Journal
I spoke with a lot of reporters today in the US and UK about the IAC IPCC Review report.  An overwhelming focus of their interest was on Rajendra Pachauri and his future with the IPCC.  The speculation comes from the following statements in the IAC report (PDF, p. 41):
 A 12-year appointment (two terms) is too long for a field as dynamic and contested as climate change. . .

Recommendation: The term of the IPCC Chair should be limited to the time frame of one assessment.
When asked for a specific comment about Pachauri by Seth Borenstein of the AP I said:
"It's hard to see how the United Nations can both follow the advice of this committee and keep Rajendra Pachauri on board as head"
I followed this statement by emphasizing that the reforms of the IPCC go well beyond one individual.  Removing Pachauri and doing nothing else would do little to fix the IPCC.  Conversely, doing everything else recommended by the IAC and leaving Pachauri in place would go a long way to improving the organization.  So in many respects I see the focus on Pachauri as a distraction. (Somehow those comments did not find a place in the AP story!)

That said, as I've detailed before (e.g., here and here and here), Pachauri has many issues of potential conflict of interest.  He would all but certainly be found to have conflicts of interest under the WMO and UN guidelines that the IPCC is exempt from following.   The IAC Review finds the fact that the IPCC has no such guidelines to be unacceptable, recommending:
The IPCC should develop and adopt a rigorous conflict of interest policy that applies to all individuals directly involved in the preparation of IPCC reports, including senior IPCC leadership . . .
Should Pachauri be deemed exempt from the recommended one-term term limit (as some have suggested) then it would not only make a mockery of the report, but also set the stage for a damaging battle over developing conflict of interest guidelines and how those should be applied to existing IPCC officials.  The IPCC could of course decide that Pachauri's conflicts do not disqualify him from the position.  Any such efforts to circumvent the IAC recommendations would risk further damaging the IPCC.

The bottom line?  The IAC Review has unambiguously recommended that the IPCC Chairman serve only one term.  Rajendra Pachauri has now served more than one term.  On this basis alone he should go.  However, even if an exception were made for him, he faces significant issues of conflict of interest that would result in his potential disqualification as the IPCC chair (should the IPCC implement policies anything like those of the WMO or UN or NRC).

If the IAC Review recommendations are to have any meaning at all then Pachauri should go.  Talk of retroactive application and grandfathering of the rules are a slippery slope back to the same sort of ad hocracy that got the IPCC into trouble in the first place.

Leinhart wants an Explanation




Matt wants an explanation on why the Cards havent
named their starting QB for the regular season.

Here is one Matt, Anderson's had a good preseason
and you havent showed much at all.

Good enough for you.

PS: Please prove me wrong.

As Expected: Cuccinelli Quashed

Exactly as expected, a Virginia judge ruled against (PDF) Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli's fishing expedition at the University of Virginia.  The Washington Post reports:
Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli's subpoena failed to state a "reason to believe" that Mann had committed fraud.

The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained that he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.

According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was issued, requires that the attorney general include an "objective basis" to believe that fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a court, which Cuccinelli failed to do.
For his part AG Cuccinelli says he is going to pursue the effort based on the guidelines of the ruling:
Cuccinelli said in a statement that he will send a new CID to UVa to continue his hunt for proof that Mann defrauded Virginia’s taxpayers in obtaining grants that funded his climate change research.

“While this was not an outright ruling in our favor, I am pleased that the judge has agreed with my office on several key legal points and has given us a framework for issuing a new civil investigative demand to get the information necessary to continue our investigation into whether or not fraud has been committed against the commonwealth,” Cuccinelli said.
Even so, I'd guess that this is the last we'll hear from Cuccinelli on this subject.

Handlebar Hoopla, What Now?

My Royal H Mixte is almost built up, save for the fenders, racks and lights. I don't want to post glamour shots before the bike is completed, but let's just say it has some unusual features! The build has been slow, but more or less trouble-free so far... until we ran into an unexpected glitch with the handlebar setup.

My idea for this bicycle was to install VO Porteur handlebars with Silver bar-end shifters and Guidonnet brake levers.  In theory this seemed like a good plan, but in practice several things have gone awry...

First, the stem length we thought would work (6cm) is apparently too short, because when I lower the bars down to where I want them, the bar-ends overlap too much with my knee if I sharply turn the handlebars while the pedal is in the up position. So we had to exchange the stem, and thankfully the shop that sold it to us was willing to do that. We are now installing a 10cm stem and will see whether that eliminates the overlap.

But the bigger problem is the Guidonnet brake levers themselves. They look fantastically French and provide plenty of braking power, but I find their placement awkward.

As you can see in the pictures, the Guidonnets are shaped like a pair of short rod-brake levers. They are installed in such a way, that their curve is meant to follow the curve of the handlebars. And because the Porteur bars are quite narrow, my hands end up in a position that is too close to the stem when braking - which I find suboptimal in its effect on the bicycle's handling.

{Edited to add: I have now test-ridden the bicycle with these brake levers extensively. When going over 12mph, the handling in this position stabilizes; slower than that it is somewhat shaky. It is basically a very aggressive position close to the stem, similar to the "fixie grip". The levers are good if you want a  bike with swept-back bars to handle aggressively in city traffic. The levers are not so good if you don't.}

As you can see here, the Guidonnet levers don't allow you to brake from the upright position on the handlebars, but make you lean forward and move your hands closer to the stem. I find it counter-intuitive to brake in an aggressive position and shift in a relaxed position; should it not be the other way around?  I will test ride the bike some more once we install the longer stem, but I suspect that I might have to admit that the Guidonnets were a mistake - which leaves the question of what to do instead.


One possibility would be to install inverse brake levers (which I already have lying around) and fit the Silver shifters into a set of Paul's Thumbies handlebar mounts, as Renaissance Bicycles has done on the build shown above.  I have never seen Silver shifters mounted on the handlebars before, only the (considerably less classic-looking) Shimanos. Having spoken to Bryan from Renaissance about it, I learned that he has rigged up a system to make the Silver set-up possible, and I am considering emulating it.  The problem is, that the Co-Habitant is vehemently against this plan: He insists that placing the shifters on the handlebars would "cheapen a high end bike". I understand what he means, but I disagree when it comes to the Renaissance method involving the Silver shifters; I think it looks surprisingly elegant. Honest opinions?

The alternative solution would be to get rid of the Porteur bars and take the Albatross bars from Marianne - installing them in the same upside-down manner, only with bar-end shifters and with the entire bar wrapped. I could do it, though I was really looking forward to having the Porteur bars on this bicycle. Maybe there are other possibilities I am missing? I would like for this bicycle to retain a vintage French look, which I feel is better achieved with the Porteurs than with the upside-down Albatross. Suggestions welcome!

{Edited to add: the Guidonnet levers have now been sold; thanks for your inquiries!}

Jerk

Jerk 2x20kg: 5
Jerk 2x24kg: 5, 20
Jerk 2x28kg: 5,9,6,5,5 (30reps)
Jerk 2x24kg: 24

Sore and stiff in upper traps from the outside swings yesterday. They hit other areas than ordinary swings. Probably, you will want to swing thumbs forward, so pay attention not to strain your biceps.

I am still intrigued by how much heavier the 28s are than the 24s. 56kgs vs, 48kgs in cleans and jerks; only a tiny little 4kg bell per hand, yet it feels as different as strength-endurance training to pure strength training.

Look what a nice gift I got from Antti/FKA! We are getting some Swedish ones made as well:It is fabric, to be sewn on training bags, track suits, whatever.

On the Tuesday Sports Show this week - 31st August 2010

The world of cricket has been rocked by a fresh betting scandal involving the Pakistan test team. We’ll be discussing this unfolding story and Glamorgan’s county championship match against Sussex with special guest reporter James Herd.

The Cardiff Devils have begun their new ice hockey season and our man Simon Williams has been out and about today chatting to some of the players about the team’s prospects.

Last Friday saw the Cardiff City Stadium play host to Martyn Williams’ testimonial as the Cardiff Blues took on local rivals Newport Gwent Dragons. We’ll hear Williams’ thoughts on the Blues chances this season and his own future in both the club and international game.

Ryder Cup captain, Colin Montgomerie, has selected his 12-man team to take on the USA at Celtic Manor in October. We’ll look at his selections and notable omissions.

We’ll also have the all important Fantasy Premier League scores.
Listen to the show LIVE by clicking HERE
As always you can always send us your thoughts via text, email, Twitter or by phoning and coming live on-air;
Phone: 02920 235 664
Text: 07728 758 759
Email: sports@radiocardiff.org
Twitter: @RadCardiffSport

Report of the IAC Review of the IPCC

The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC has been released. The report is remarkably hard hitting with constructive and far-reaching consequences.  In the report's own words:
If adopted in their entirety, the measures recommended in this report would fundamentally reform IPCC’s management structure while enhancing its ability to conduct an authoritative assessment.
It is an excellent, thoughtful report.  While the report focuses on procedural questions and does not address any questions of scientific content, its recommendations have far-reaching substantive implications, such as for how to deal with uncertainty.  The report also directly addresses difficult subjects such as conflict of interest, policy advocacy and tenure of the IPCC chairman.

This post is simply a summary of the report's recommendations, and I will soon follow it with a bit more analysis.  Here then are the report's "key recommendations" that are highlighted in the Executive Summary, follwed further below by the recommendations found in the body of the text:
Governance and Management

The IPCC should establish an Executive Committee to act on its behalf between Plenary sessions. The membership of the Committee should include the IPCC Chair, the Working Group Co-chairs, the senior member of the Secretariat, and 3 independent members, including some from outside of the climate community. Members would be elected by the Plenary and serve until their successors are in place.

The IPCC should elect an Executive Director to lead the Secretariat and handle day-to-day operations of the organization. The term of this senior scientist should be limited to the timeframe of one assessment.

Review Process

The IPCC should encourage Review Editors to fully exercise their authority to ensure that reviewers’ comments are adequately considered by the authors and that genuine controversies are adequately reflected in the report.

The IPCC should adopt a more targeted and effective process for responding to reviewer comments. In such a process, Review Editors would prepare a written summary of the most significant issues raised by reviewers shortly after review comments have been received. Authors would be required to provide detailed written responses to the most significant review issues identified by the Review Editors, abbreviated responses to all non-editorial comments, and no written responses to editorial comments.

Characterizing and Communicating Uncertainty

All Working Groups should use the qualitative level-of-understanding scale in their Summary for Policy Makers and Technical Summary, as suggested in IPCC’s uncertainty guidance for the Fourth Assessment Report. This scale may be supplemented by a quantitative probability scale, if appropriate.

Quantitative probabilities (as in the likelihood scale) should be used to describe the probability of well-defined outcomes only when there is sufficient evidence. Authors should indicate the basis for assigning a probability to an outcome or event (e.g., based on measurement, expert judgment, and/or model runs).

Communications

The IPCC should complete and implement a communications strategy that emphasizes transparency, rapid and thoughtful responses, and relevance to stakeholders, and which includes guidelines about who can speak on behalf of IPCC and how to represent the organization appropriately.

Here are additional recommendations found in the body of the report:
The IPCC should make the process and criteria for selecting participants for scoping meetings more transparent.
The IPCC should establish a formal set of criteria and processes for selecting Coordinating Lead Authors and Lead Authors.

The IPCC should make every effort to engage local experts on the author teams of the regional chapters of the Working Group II report, but should also engage experts from countries outside of the region when they can provide an essential contribution to the assessment.

The IPCC should strengthen and enforce its procedure for the use of unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature, including providing more specific guidance on how to evaluate such information, adding guidelines on what types of literature are unacceptable, and ensuring that unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature is appropriately flagged in the report.

Lead Authors should explicitly document that a range of scientific viewpoints has been considered, and Coordinating Lead Authors and Review Editors should satisfy themselves that due consideration was given to properly documented alternative views.

The IPCC should adopt a more targeted and effective process for responding to reviewer comments. In such a process, Review Editors would prepare a written summary of the most significant issues raised by reviewers shortly after review comments have been received. Authors would be required to provide detailed written responses to the most significant review issues identified by the Review Editors, abbreviated responses to all non-editorial comments, and no written responses to editorial comments.

The IPCC should encourage Review Editors to fully exercise their authority to ensure that reviewers’ comments are adequately considered by the authors and that genuine controversies are adequately reflected in the report.

The IPCC should revise its process for the approval of the Summary for Policy Makers so that governments provide written comments prior to the Plenary.

All Working Groups should use the qualitative level-of-understanding scale in their Summary for Policy Makers and Technical Summary, as suggested in IPCC’s uncertainty guidance for the Fourth Assessment Report. This scale may be supplemented by a quantitative probability scale, if appropriate.

Chapter Lead Authors should provide a traceable account of how they arrived at their ratings for level of scientific understanding and likelihood that an outcome will occur.

Quantitative probabilities (as in the likelihood scale) should be used to describe the probability of well-defined outcomes only when there is sufficient evidence. Authors should indicate the basis for assigning a probability to an outcome or event (e.g., based on measurement, expert judgment, and/or model runs).

The confidence scale should not be used to assign subjective probabilities to ill-defined outcomes.

The likelihood scale should be stated in terms of probabilities (numbers) in addition to words to improve understanding of uncertainty.

Where practical, formal expert elicitation procedures should be used to obtain subjective probabilities for key results.

The IPCC should establish an Executive Committee to act on its behalf between Plenary sessions. The membership of the Committee should include the IPCC Chair, the Working Group Co-chairs, the senior member of the Secretariat, and 3 independent members, including some from outside of the climate community. Members would be elected by the Plenary and serve until their successors are in place.

The term of the IPCC Chair should be limited to the timeframe of one assessment.

The IPCC should develop and adopt formal qualifications and formally articulate the roles and responsibilities for all Bureau members, including the IPCC Chair, to ensure that they have both the highest scholarly qualifications and proven leadership skills.

The terms of the Working Group Co-chairs should be limited to the timeframe of one assessment.

The IPCC should redefine the responsibilities of key Secretariat positions both to improve efficiency and to allow for any future senior appointments.

The IPCC should elect an Executive Director to lead the Secretariat and handle day-to-day operations of the organization. The term of this senior scientist should be limited to the timeframe of one assessment.

The IPCC should develop and adopt a rigorous conflict of interest policy that applies to all individuals directly involved in the preparation of IPCC reports, including senior IPCC leadership (IPCC Chair and Vice Chairs), authors with responsibilities for report content (i.e., Working Group Co-chairs, Coordinating Lead Authors, and Lead Authors), Review Editors, and technical staff directly involved in report preparation (e.g., staff of Technical Support Units and the IPCC Secretariat).

The IPCC should complete and implement a communications strategy that emphasizes transparency, rapid and thoughtful responses, and relevance to stakeholders, and which includes guidelines about who can speak on behalf of IPCC and how to represent the organization appropriately.

Hurricane Earl in Historical Context

The image above is from the ICAT Damage Estimator and shows the current position of Hurricane Earl, along with the tracks of all historical storms that passed within 50 miles of that position.  The histogram on the left shows the historical normalized damage in 2010 values for those 12 historical storms, which had a median damage of about $3 billion.

Below is a map produced by the ICAT Damage Estimator of the current National Hurricane Center 5-day forecast cone, showing that the storm is forecast to remain offshore.  If the storm were forecast to make landfall, then you could use to ICAT Damage Estimator to compare normalized damage from analogous historical storms under 2010 conditions.


 The graph below shows the individual forecast model predictions for the track of Earl, illustrating a high degree of agreement across the models.

The ICAT Damage Estimator does not make predictions, but it is very useful for putting official predictions into a historical context.  Have a look.

Stay tuned, Fiona, the next storm in line could be interesting.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Lure of the Six Figure Income



I peruse the want ads on a regular basis, and I always manage to see one that says this:



There are variations on this theme. Work at home and make a six figure income. Or it may be making a six figure income in some other way. But the one thing remains constant. It is that six figure income. There is something about that amount that makes people get stupid. Yet, we need to consider some statistics.

According to Wikipedia, about 5% of the population make in excess of $100,000 a year on an individual basis. The median income is $39,000 which has probably dropped in this recession. The odds of you busting six figures are slim. But people still try.

The lure of the six figure income makes people do dumb things. To make this kind of dough requires risk. Now, as we see, there are plenty of scams as evidenced by the ad above, but people may not be aware that other avenues have the same effect as those scams which is to lure people with expectations that cannot meet with reality. Here are some of the things people fall for in pursuit of the six figure income:

1. EDUCATION

Glenn Reynolds and others have highlighted the bubble in higher education. People today go to college, grad school, and professional school with their ballooning tuition rates to end up taking jobs that pay what a decent truck driver makes. Basically, this is the median income which isn't so bad, but those debt payments make these folks go back to live at home with their parents. The whole thing is a crock, and you can't count on higher ed to tell the truth about this. They are raking in all that dough. But people are wising up.

2. CLIMBING THE LADDER

Another option is to fight it out in some corporation and move up the ladder red in tooth and claw. Some people pull this off if they are particularly vicious and lucky. But as I've learned from Taleb and from personal experience, the ladder climbers are lucky coin flippers. You either make big bucks, or you get fired. There is no middle ground. And none of them are happy.

3. CHASING THE HOT SECTOR

During the housing bubble, I ran into this dumb blonde in a bar one night, and she told me this amazing story of how she was pulling down big bucks in the construction industry working for some big firm. It wasn't a blue collar job, and she was just a high school grad. I doubt she is making that dough now. I hear similar stories in tech and what have you. One day, some clever economist will come up with an Idiots With Money Indicator and find out where the next bubble is and short it. These folks make big dollars but only briefly.

4. ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Starting a business has dismal odds, and most people would be better off not trying. Less than 5% of startups make it past five years. Not all of those are lucrative enough to yield a six figure income. But people try anyway.

Everyone wants to max out on their income. This is rational. What is not rational is the expectation of making a six figure income. Granted, doctors regularly make six figures, but this is the product of that high barrier to entry called medical school. Spending eight years in poverty racking up debt is a real gut check. The reason so many foreigners come to be physicians here is because they have a lower barrier of entry back in their home countries. Of course, if those barriers were lowered, the incomes would be lowered as well.

People want to make more money because it provides them more material security. The problem with this thinking is that people who make more do so almost entirely out of increased risk to their material security. It is a Catch-22. To be a financial success, you must risk absolute financial ruin. Even the doctor in training is one blown final away from oblivion. The flip side to all of this is that the ones who do make it to six figures do so out of bad habits that become their own undoing. Doctors are famous for being bad with their money to the boon of stockbrokers everywhere.

What is the antidote to all of this? I think the antidote is to have diminished expectations. I recently read an article from TechCrunch that says that tech firms in Silicon Valley prefer younger workers at $60K a year to the gray hairs making $150K. Basically, middle aged programmers end up jobless or taking a significant pay cut. This is because tech is new and always changing. My personal theory is that new comp sci grads or what have you are schooled in the latest which is in high demand for a short while. It is like working in a perpetual bubble factory as it all reverts to the mean again. The answer is to be blue collar.

Blue collar jobs don't pay six figure incomes. Some electricians and plumbers pull down some big dough, but they all do this by running a business which is entrepreneurship. For the most part, blue collar people pull down the median income. Some like diesel mechanics make far more, but this is a result of a shortage. In time, this will revert to the mean as well. But this will be a slight reversion since few of them make six figure incomes.

People think I am crazy for telling people to learn a trade and get their hands dirty with this blue collar advice. But I think they are crazy for chasing the six figures. Over the years, I have been made offers in the hot fields of mortgage brokering, annuities, and management. I turned them down because I know the truth about these endeavors. They involve moral compromise, unhappiness, and eventual unemployment.

My advice is the same one that Daedalus gave to his son Icarus. Don't fly too close to the sea or to the sun. Basically, this myth was a parable about reversion to the mean. You want to avoid the outliers because they seldom last. The six figure earners fly close to the sun.



Blue collar folks excepting UAW workers in Detroit don't make six figure incomes because they don't live in what Taleb calls "extremistan." They fly neither close to the sun nor close to the sea. They are in "mediocristan." Over the course of my lifetime, I have witnessed friends from high school who never went to college go on to comfortable middle class lifestyles while working blue collar jobs. Granted, some have money problems because they can't make the payments on their bass boats or they like to play the lottery. But these are not problems of income but financial mismanagement. This is why I say that hard work needs to be packaged with simple living. But they make the median income or better.

I know this post will get peppered with comments from folks who will denigrate working people, or there will be one wise ass who is making a mint from some hot job he got. But that is the stupidity at work. I'm sure Icarus thought he was hot shit before his wings fell apart. But working a blue collar job beats living at home with mom and dad and servicing student loan debt or getting shitcanned in middle age because you make too much money and/or had a bad run of luck for which you will take the blame. All of this comes from extremistan. Everyone sees the sun, but no one sees the ocean below. They don't take that middle path.

My advice is simple. Forfeit that six figure dream. Walk away from it. This is why my blue collar peers do so well. They didn't listen to the high school guidance counselor because he was too busy telling people to go to college. They took what they could get and learned a trade along the way, and they make average incomes now. Some are slightly above while others are slightly below. When they want to make more money, they work more. As for their skills, they never become obsolete. The pace of change in their industries is leisurely. And older workers are valued for their skills and experience.

---

NOTES

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_figure_income

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_education_bubble

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus

Cycling and the Beach

If you live in a beach town, it is easy to hop on a cruiser and pedal to the shore, have a swim, more or less dry off, and pedal home. But what about incorporating the beach into long, strenuous and hilly touring style-rides? This has been our dilemma when taking trips to Maine this summer. In the absence of folding bikes (and frankly, I don't think folding bikes would be appropriate for the terrain here), we strap our roadbikes to the car, and get around entirely by bike once we arrive to our "base" location. In rural Maine, everything is far away from everything else - at least by Boston standards - and it is normal for us to cycle 5-10 hilly miles from one destination to another, multiple times in a day. We often pass our favourite beach in the area, but swimming can seem like such a project when your bicycle bags are already stuffed with photo equipment and other things, and the beach has no changing rooms. 

Plus, when a 10 mile ride with plenty of uphill lies between the beach and the nearest town where you could freshen up, believe me that you don't want any sand to be stuck in your body's crevices, and neither do you want to pedal in a bathing suit. The Co-Habitant has tried wearing his swim trunks on the bike, and regretted it. 

So here is my solution: I bring a bathing suit and a thin Pashmina or wrap instead of a towel. These take up almost no extra space in my saddle bag. Once at the beach, I remove my shoes and socks, wrap myself in the pashmina, and change into my bathing suit underneath it. If you don't have a pashmina or wrap, a long oversized t-shirt can work as a "changing tent" as well. After swimming, I "air dry" while either walking around or sitting on rocks (rather than sitting on sand); then I reverse the "changing tent" process. After this, the bathing suit can be wrung out, placed on a rock to dry off a bit, then placed in a plastic bag and packed away into the saddle bag together with the pashmina. After de-sanding my feet and putting my socks and shoes back on, I am ready to keep cycling. All this is a surprisingly low-hassle process. 

Of course, one thing to make sure of before you stop at a beach like this, is that your water bottles are full. Also, never try to prop up your bike on the sand using a kickstand; carefully lay it down instead (drivetrain side up). Even if it seems as if the bike is stable on the kickstand, the sand's consistency changes with the wind and the tide, and the bike can easily fall. Oh, and if you go swimming, leave your bike as far from the water as possible - the tide can come in faster than you think!

Swimming in the ocean and cycling are two of my favourite activities, and it feels wonderful to combine them. Interestingly, the ocean water seems to be a great complement to high-intensity cycling - relaxing the muscles and giving me extra energy to go on. Anybody else have this experience?  

Träning

Snatch 24kg: 5/5,30/30,5/5
Snatch 28kg: 10/10

Oa swing 36kg: 10/10

Clean 2x24kg: 10
Clean 2x28kg: 10
Clean 2x24kg: 2x 10reps (with gloves and baby powder)

Low outside swings 2x28kg: 2x 1min

Lördag

I lördags var det öppet hus, alltså gratis, att träna på Hagabadet. Fick först en rundtur där. Vad snyggt det hade blivit. Jag hängde runt där lite på klubbar och med nån' teatergrupp för länge sedan.

Åter till Hagabadet 2010, jag sprang på den duktige kettlebell-lyftaren Jesper Carlsson och fick ett par riktigt fina mobilitetsövningar som passar för GS att jobba med. Därpå blev det lite lätta kettlebell-lyft.

Efteråt försökte jag köra lite traditionellt gym men tröttnade efter ett par latsdrag och lite rodd.

Intressant (gammal) artikel av Adam Glass om handstyrka och kettlebells:
http://www.adamtglass.com/2010/01/10/grip-strength-and-kettlebells/

Coach Ted Fairchild - Personal Story

An assistant football coach at Parkway High School in Rockford, OH shares some of his life and what he thinks helps turn boys into men.


Friday, August 27, 2010

TVNZ Nightly Sports News Does a Telfer



Not one mention of the Basketball world champs that tip
off in six hours. This is a disgrace, and a insult to the
New Zealand Basketball team.

It's also deliberate attempt to keep any sport that they
deem to be a threat to their precious rugby out the public
sport light.

If only all our Journos were like the great Tony Smith.

Its a sad day for Journalism in this country.

Telfer Commits Another Crime Against Journalism



As World's sports second biggest championship is
just seven hours away, Brendan Telfer has
once again committed a crime against
Journalism.

New Zealand is about to compete in the Basketball
World Champs and all last week, during his radio
show this didn't get one mention
from Brendan Telfer.

Although he did manage to mention several
insignificant sports that have little bearing
globally, he forgot this major global
event.

Why does he do this, well, this thin skinned
hypocrite, is a cheerleader but only for his
sports, and if any sport that he deems to be
in competition with the sports he loves,
wont rate a mention.

He has done this for decades and the
NewZealand sporting public
is worse off.

I feel sorry for the public, and sorry for our
Basketballers who don't get the attention they
deserve.

I only hope that one the rest of the NewZealand
media will wake up to to his tactics.

I anit holding my breath.

MLB financials and stadium funding

I don't understand finances enough to say much about Deadspin's (leaked) disclosure of the financial statements for a number of major league teams, which show that a number of the poorer small-market teams (including the Pirates, Marlins, and Mariners) actually have turned pretty good profits by keeping player payrolls way down and raking in (but not spending) revenue-sharing dollars. Several issues seem to be brewing here.

First, some are questioning revenue sharing as a workable means of leveling the economic playing field (at least without some other cost-and-spending measures, such as a salary cap or salary minimums) because of the incentives built into the system. Second, and relatedly, some are suggesting that teams (at least small-market teams) have no economic incentive to win because it is difficult to both win and turn a profit.

Third, and most interesting in these parts, is what this means for the future of stadium funding. The ridiculously advantageous deals that teams have been able to extort from communities have depended on cries of poverty from teams, which insist that they need the stadium to be economically competitive and that they currently lack the resources to pay for the stadium themselves and need substantial public funding. Certainly that was true for the Marlins, who are getting a roughly-$600 million ballpark for only $155 million ($35 million of which is a loan from the county) and keeping big chunks of stadium-generated revenue, with the city paying $125 million and the county about $360 million. But the Deadspin docs showed that the Marlins turned a $49 million profit in 2009. Several city officials would like to reopen the stadium deal and require the Marlins to contribute more towards the project.

The Marlins's response has been that "a contract is a contract." Which probably is true, if a bit arrogant. My contracts-professor colleague says it would take some showing that the city/county would not have entered the deal on these terms but for the Marlins' claims of poverty and that the Marlins either affirmatively lied about or withheld their true financial information--tough things to show. But this could have an effect on the deals that other small-market teams (notably the A's) are able to swing in the coming years.

The boondoggle nature of the public-stadium game is becoming clearer. But since it shows no sign of changing, I go back to my First Amendment interests. If public funds are going to continue pay for these cathedrals--which really only benefit the teams themselves--on largely false pretenses, then I should be able to wear whatever t-shirt I want, chant whatever I want, and decide whether or not I want to stand during coerced patriotic rituals. So there.

Seymour Blueskies

As some have already noticed, I recently acquired one more bicycle that I have not yet written about. It is a vintage Trek roadbike - fast and aggressive, with super-responsive handling. Don't ask how I got the bike; sometimes these things just find you. It was in exactly my size, and came along at a time when I had begun to experiment with more aggressive road cycling. I wanted to try a "real" roadbike without spending more money, and here was my chance.

So please allow me to introduce Seymour Blueskies. He is a Trek 610, built in 1982. The lugged steel frame is made with Reynolds 531 tubing, and cro-moly fork and stays. The frame is 52cm, with 700C wheels. It is an interesting blue-gray colour that Trek called "gunmetal"in its catalogues.

The 610 was a higher-end model, and the previous owner built it up with nice components - though over the years they had become somewhat of a medley.

The wheels were handbuilt using Rigida racing rims with a gunmetal finish, a Campagnolo rear hub, a Suntour XC 9000 front hub, and double butted spokes. The drivetrain is Suntour Sprint 9000, with Suntour downtube shifters. The stem is vintage Nitto and the handlebars are ITM. The bicycle also came with a Brooks Finesse Titanium(!) women's saddle.

I have kept all of the components as they were, except for the brakes and brake levers, which we replaced with new Tektros. We also added cork bar tape, installed SKS fenders and a bottle cage, replaced the original clipless pedals with MKS Touring pedals (with Powergrips), and attached my Zimbale bag and a Crane bell from another bike.

I prefer cloth tape on handlebars, but these bars have a weird, squared-off shape to them with a carved-out channel for cable routing. This can all be felt though cloth tape, making the bars uncomfortable to hold without a layer of cork. They are also a bit too narrow for me, and if the Trek ends up being a keeper I would like to replace them with something like Nitto Noodles, or a vintage equivalent.

The reasoning behind the SKS fenders was initially budget-driven, but I am very happy with this choice. They are quieter and less fussy than Honjos; I hardly even notice them. The Co-Habitant hates SKS fenders, because he thinks they are "ugly". I do not find them "ugly";  just more sporty than Honjos - which was exactly the look I was going for here. Incidentally - even with the fenders, saddlebag and waterbottle, the Trek is the lightest bicycle I own.

After a few weeks of ownership, I have also just replaced the original Michelin 25mm tires with 28mm Panaracer Paselas in white. The Michelins that came with it are supposed to be fantastic, but they felt hard as rocks and made for a very harsh ride. The Paselas, on the other hand, feel as if I am riding on a cloud. 28mm tires are probably the widest this bicycle will fit with fenders, and that is fine with me.

Now, for the ride quality... The vintage Trek handles very differently from the Rivendell Sam Hillborne. The best way I can describe this bike's behaviour, is that it wants to go fast and does not like to go slow. At slow speeds the Trek feels unstable and difficult to maneuver, especially when cornering. It took me a few rides to learn how to handle this without panicking, but eventually I got used to it. By the same token, it becomes amazingly stable and precise at fast speeds: Once I exceed 16mph, it seems to magically "relax" and almost floats above the asphalt. Accelerating is easy - almost too easy! One turn of the pedals, two turns - and before I know it, I am flying.  This is great fun now that I am more or less comfortable on a roadbike, but even a couple of months ago I would not have been able to handle this kind of cycling. When riding the Hillborne, I feel that I am exploring - I can go fast, or I can go slow. Riding the Trek, I feel that I preparing for a race - going slow is not really in the cards.

All other factors remaining equivalent (road and traffic conditions, my energy levels, etc.), the Trek is a faster ride than the Rivendell. I cannot tell how much faster exactly, because conditions are never identical on any two rides - but when the Co-Habitant accompanied me, he said the difference in my speed on the two bikes was noticeable. One explanation for this could be that the Trek's handlebars are set lower, but it could also just be that the bike is designed to be a bit racier. On the flip side of the speed advantage, the Trek is not as comfortable as the Rivendell (which is insanely comfortable) and encourages over-exertion - leaving me feeling far more exhausted after a ride. One curious thing about how I feel on the Trek, is that my hands always hurt at the beginning of a ride - but stop hurting as the ride progresses and I pick up speed. This is surprising, because when something hurts at the start of a ride, it typically only gets worse the longer I cycle - so each time I get on the bike I have to suspend disbelief and remind myself that my hands will stop hurting in a few minutes. And thankfully, they always do. I also find it challenging to hold the drop portions of the bars on the Trek (something I have already mastered on the Rivendell) without losing some control of the bike or at least weaving a bit. I am sure this will feel comfortable eventually, but I am not there yet. Just yesterday, I was finally able to use the downtube shifters for the first time - after having tearfully declared that they were "impossible" time after time on previous rides. Everything takes practice.

When I first got the Trek, I was not at all sure that I would be keeping it. We modified it just enough to make me comfortable, and it would be easy to resell this bike at no loss. I wanted to experience a "real" roadbike without the coddling qualities of the Rivendell, and now I have. So what next? Well, I don't know yet, but I don't really want to let it go. It has been bewildering to discover that I kind of, sort of might actually be good at road cycling, and I would like to see this discovery through. Depending on how much time I have in a day for a ride, I take either the Rivendell (for long rides), the Trek (for medium, but fast paced rides), or the fixed gear Moser (for shorter, intense rides) - and together they are helping me understand my potential.

"I Have a Dream" -- August 28, 1963



On August 28, 1963 the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave one of the most famous speeches in United States history (see the video above). In a review of Eric J. Sundquist's book on the speech last year in the NYT, Anthony Lewis writes:
“I have a dream” is the refrain by which the speech is known — better known to Americans today than any other speech, even the Gettysburg Address. (In 2008, according to one study, 97 percent of American teenagers recognized the words as King’s.) But for all its familiarity and indisputable greatness, the origins and larger meaning of the speech are not generally understood.

The speech and all that surrounds it — background and consequences — are brought magnificently to life in Eric Sund­quist’s new book, “King’s Dream.” A professor of literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, Sundquist has written about race and ethnicity in American culture. In this book he gives us drama and emotion, a powerful sense of history combined with illuminating scholarship.

A remarkable fact of which I was unaware is that the last third of the speech — the part about the dream — was extemporized by King. He had a text, completed the night before. But as he was addressing the crowd, protesting the indignities and brutalities suffered by blacks, he put the prepared speech aside, paused for a moment and then introduced an entirely new theme.

“I still have a dream,” he said. “It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ ”

With that quotation from the Declaration of Independence, King made clear that his vision of the future for black Americans was for them to be part of the larger society, not embittered opponents of it. He reiterated the point a few minutes later. Faith in his dream, he said, will bring a day “when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.’ ” Those “I have a dream” paragraphs still bring tears to my eyes.

The sources of that last third of the speech, fascinatingly explored by Sund­quist, include King’s own previous speeches, Negro spirituals, the Bible. We hear Handel’s “Messiah” when he says, “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted.” But of course the words come from the book of Isaiah.

The image of the dream appeared in earlier King speeches, again coupled with ultimate belief in America. In Charlotte, N.C., in 1960 he said: “In a real sense America is essentially a dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. It is the dream of a land where men of all races, colors and creeds will live together as brothers.” . . .

Why did King abandon his written text that day at the Memorial? It may be, Sund­quist suggests, that despite shouts of approval he felt he had not really connected with the audience. His wife, Coretta Scott King, thought the words “flowed from some higher place.” In any event, the result was for the ages.

“Speaking suddenly from the heart,” Sundquist writes, “he delivered a speech elegantly structured, commanding in tone, and altogether more profound than anything heard on American soil in nearly a century. In the midst of speaking, King rewrote his speech and created a new national scripture.”
It is difficult to watch that speech and not realize that as messy and frustrating as politics can be, there is something utterly virtuous in our collective struggle to achieve our special and common interests.

Enjoy the speech and have a nice weekend!