Friday, December 31, 2010

On the Perfect Martini and Other Myths

For this New Year's celebration, I had a simple task: To prepare the perfect Martini. Not one of the many impostor drinks that have posed as "martinis" over decades past - but a true, traditional one. I enjoy the art of making drinks properly, and what better time to practice this than on New Year's Eve?

At the heart of a real Martini is elegant simplicity. Sugary syrups and exotic garnishes have their place, but that place is elsewhere. Neither does Vodka belong in this most classic of cocktails. A traditional Martini is gin and vermouth in just the right combination - swirled delicately over ice, strained into a classic cocktail glass, and garnished with three olives. And that is all.

But the minimalist recipe is not free of ambiguity. Even among the purists, debates rage regarding which brands of gin and vermouth are best, and what proportions are ideal. After much soul-searching, I opted for Hendrick's and Noilly Prat, at a 4:1 gin to vermouth ratio. And I found traditionally cured Perugia olives - with nothing stuffed inside and no vinegar used in preparing them.

Perfect! But, not so fast... No sooner had I happily surveyed my ingredients, than my friend - an Edwardian history specialist - informed me that I was doing it all wrong. I was fixing to create a 1920s version of the drink, whereas the "real" original is from the early 1900s and requires a different approach entirely. Furthermore, I should not be calling it "the perfect Martini" as it creates confusion with the "Perfect Martini" - which is a separate version of the drink altogether. Ah, academics... How we love to get it just right and spoil all the fun!

Well, I am sticking with my original plan - I've grown emotionally attached to the idea of making it this way. And besides, who is to say that the very first iteration is the "perfect" version of the drink? Maybe the 1920s Martini is considered classic for a reason!

There is really no such thing as a perfect anything, just our personal version of it. It's the version that we will have the most fun with, the version that happens to be just right for us - even if it's not what others consider perfect or correct. Here's wishing you all a beautiful New Year full of such experiences - on the bicycle and otherwise.

A Cluster of Connie's

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of meeting a handful of lovely purebred Connemara ponies, including three stallions. Firstly I made my acquaintance with Lonsdale Moonwind and Sun 'n Air of Summer Valley (Rebel and Dover) . Rebel is 29 years old and looks an absolute picture and shares his paddock with a jersey heifer and Nubian cross doe. Dover is quite a lot younger (13 years old) and was a gorgeous and very personable boy. His paddock companions are a couple of cows and the most hysterical male Alpaca (yes, I got photos!).

My road trip then took me to Foxton to meet Capparis Casanova (Brennan's sire) and his two matriarchal paddock companions, the sisters, Canningvale Bonnie Sue and Canningvale Bonnie Trix (foaled in 1984 and 1985). In the next paddock was a delightful colt foal by Glenmoriston Fineen (imp) out of an imported mare, Clifden Silver Mist. Just devine!!

Here are a selection of photos from the trip:

Lonsdale Moonwind (29 years old - entire) - Sire of Wayward Wind (Cindy)

Colt foal by Glenmoriston Fineen

Sun 'n Air of Summer Valley (Dover) - Stallion

Dover's friend

Capparis Casanova - Brennan's sire - Entire

Canningvale Bonnie Sue (Bay - 1984) and Canningvale Bonnie Trix (Grey - 1985)

On the way to the ponies I stopped to pick up a friend for the road trip and met the last Robbie foal to be born in the NI this season (he has SI babies still due). Luna is out of Missy who is the dam of Saffron by TF Hamish.


Thursday, December 30, 2010


This is my last post for 2010. At this time of year, other media outlets like to recap the year with some list or whatnot. This is filler made months ago because these guys were going to be on vacation. But I'm writing this today.

My recap for the year are the labels I wear. Everyone has labels. Some they choose to wear. Others they choose to hide. These are the ones I choose to wear.


This is top of the list for me. I am a loser. Of course, that is relative. I am better off than a homeless drunk. But I am not rich or famous which is what makes a person a winner. In between those extremes of homelessness and extravagance, you have everyone else jockeying for some spot in the social pile. It is this status seeking that I don't give a shit about. So, I choose to call myself a loser, and it has a magical effect. It frees me up to be me, and it actually pisses all over the status game. I have ambitions, but they are all purely personal. I don't care if I have a nicer car than you, and I really don't care if you have a nicer car than me. I am a loser. I don't have to care.


I am known for this more than anything else. The irony is that it is the one I care least about. I don't believe in God. I used to believe in God. I believed so much that I even enrolled in seminary. Then, I realized I was an idiot. It was all bullshit. It took awhile for me to figure it out. Looking back, I can't believe how stupid I was. But it taught me humility and to always question things especially authority. That brings me to the next label.


I believe in freedom. I think government is best that governs least. I don't think freedom is perfect, but it is superior to the alternatives. I believe in social freedom and economic freedom. I think as long as you don't hurt other people you should be free to do as you will. I also think you are entitled to the money you earn and the property you buy.


I have a college degree, and I know I can bullshit my way into an office job. But the bulk of my working life has been spent doing dirty work. "Blue collar" is a label a lot of people want to escape. It is now one I embrace. Like the loser thing, I find freedom in accepting the humble path instead of the arrogant path. Blue collar work is honest, and I feel good about it. There is no bullshit there. Fuck the status. Fuck the office politics. Just go out and work.


I have always lived a simple lifestyle. I'm not big on owning a bunch of stuff or collecting clutter or keeping up with the Joneses. I have one car and live in an apartment. I'd like to trade it in for one small pickup truck and one small house. Otherwise, I'm living the life I have always lived and always will live. I shop at thrift stores. I pack a lunch. I don't own an RV or an ATV. The most extravagant thing I buy is Carhartt apparel because I know it lasts a long time.


Finally, I write. I don't paint, play guitar, or golf. I write. All I need is my notebook and a pencil. I have this blog. It doesn't seem like much, but there is an infinite world in that pencil and paper. If I ever shake up the world, it will be with my words. But if I don't, it is great fun anyway. I have never made a cent from my writing, but it has enriched me more than any hobby I have ever had. Reading is the next best thing.

Those are my labels. I could add a few others like "asshole." But I will leave that to my haters. As for 2011, I might add a few new labels like "workaholic" and "runner." This might be possible now that I'm back to being a "bachelor." We will see. But "failure" is the most probable outcome.

Good bye, 2010.


Oa jerk 12,20, 24kg: 5/5 each

Jerk 2x20kg: 5
Jerk 2x24kg: 5

Jerk 2x28kg: 2,2, 15,10
Jerk 2x24kg: 5, 30

Not all sessions can feel great. Today, I felt tired in the body, the only reason I can come up with is Tuesday's one arm swings. Still, no remorse as some decent sets-seen my level-were achieved.

Education, Credentials, and Skills

I talk a lot about college, the higher ed bubble, autodidacticism, blue collar skills, and what have you. In my discussions with others, I notice there is some slippage in the terms we use. I will now try and clarify these terms.

This is what you actually know. It doesn't matter where it came from. Knowing the earth is round is no less true or important because you learned it in high school, from a book, a friend, or Harvard University. This applies to all facts. Thanks to the free market, public libraries, and the internet, education today is virtually unlimited.

A credential is merely a document that attests you have education or a skill. A driver's license is a credential. So is a college degree.

A skill is simply something you are able to do at a certain level of proficiency. This could be laying bricks or playing the guitar. Skills are acquired through practice.

This is where these terms get slippery. When a politician says that he wants everyone to get an education, he isn't talking about a real education. He is talking about a credential. In this case, it is usually the bachelor's degree. But as we know, anyone and everyone has access to education. Right now, if I wanted to learn computer programming, I am only a mouse click away from what I need to know.

I had a friend who was a college dropout. He said he always wanted to go back and complete his education. But no one ever completes their education. Education is constant and forever. He wanted to get his credential.

The credential has value if it means something. You can just establish a government diploma mill and achieve what the politician wants. But no one will recognize the credential. OTOH, I know lots of drop outs who do just fine because they have a skill set. The credential is just like a dollar bill--real or counterfeit.

The market demand is not for education or credentials. It is for skills. They may be required by law to demand a credential like a CDL, a medical license, or what have you. But they want the skill since it is the skill that produces the results and not the credential. Having a credentialed and educated citizenry is fine for politics and civic engagement but is worthless in terms of free market endeavors. If you want to make money, you have to learn some skills.

The reason I stress blue collar occupations and the like is because those are skilled professions. There is a certain amount of knowledge that goes along with those skills. Electricians need to know Ohm's law. But it doesn't take four years of classroom instruction to learn Ohm's law. Most electricians learn it through apprenticeship.

The people being turned out of schools today have virtually no skills. Aside from being able to read, write, and do some math, the skill set is limited. This is why we laugh at liberal arts majors for wasting all that money and four years of their lives. But those same people laugh at someone who enrolls in diesel mechanics school. This is because everything is valued in terms of money and social status. This is why a history degree from Harvard trumps a nursing degree from State U. even though the nurse has more marketable skills and is in greater demand than the Harvard history major. If it all seems like bullshit, you would be correct.

What the world needs is a credentialing authority that is bona fide. We don't need more schools, scholarships, student loans, and all that. We just need the credential that means something and is universally recognized. This would end the divide between the haves and the have-nots. It would end the higher ed bubble. And it would be a boon to private business as they would know what they were getting. Somewhere, some clever entrepreneur is going to figure this out and make it happen.

A Lesson Learned

In what is usually one of the slowest news weeks, a controversy rages over President Obama’s reported conversation with Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, praising the franchise for giving Michael Vick a chance to perform after serving a twenty-three month prison sentence for dog fighting and related charges.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated, who had reported the conversation, is amazed at the reaction, tweeting recently (and inappropriately hilarious) that “this story has longer legs than Giselle,” referring to Giselle Bundeschen, the wife of Tom Brady, Vick’s main rival for this year’s MVP vote.

Fox News, the new standard-bearer for right wing craziness, spent much of Tuesday berating the President for his support of Vick. Tucker Carlson, filling in for Sean Hannity, actually opined that Vick “should have been executed” for his crimes. This from the Sarah Palin Network in love with the candidate who gloried in the shooting of a caribou for no other purpose than higher television ratings.

Michael Vick’s story is well known. Perhaps less publicized are the appalling facts about imprisonment in America. Currently, more than 7 million people are either in prison, on probation or on parole in the United States, which amounts to 1 in 18 adult males, more than four times the per capita rate in England, eleven times in a country like Norway. Of these, 70 % are people of color. Of those released from prison, about one third end up accused of another crime within three years.

Whatever one thinks of Michael Vick’s crime and punishment, his rehabilitation and maturation following his release can be a lesson in ethics. It should be a source of inspiration for the idea that people can change for the better and make much of their lives even after serving time. As a society, we can learn how to forgive those who have confronted their past and paid for their sins. The President was right to applaud the Eagles for their offer to Michael Vick and those who have criticized the President are wrong.

Getting Up Off The Mat

It is great to see SportsLeader coaches and their teams get such good press.

Chris and his team have shoveled over 100 driveways so far this winter plus helped a driver out of a ditch? How many have you shoveled with your team?

The gauntlet has been laid down! 


Getting Up Off The Mat

When you sign up to wrestle at Winton Woods High School, you best bring a good attitude, toughness, and a willingness to learn something (other than wrestling).

Despite having just recently won their first invitational in recent memory (Bishop Fenwick on Dec. 4) coach Chris Willertz has had his Warriors focused on building non-wrestling bridges.

The third-year coach has his boys focused on the mat, but even more so on the future. Academics, perseverance, community service and the difference between what is right and wrong is just as important for a Winton Woods wrestler as pinning his opponent.

"I didn't want the kids to be great wrestlers when they graduated and then struggle," said Willertz. "I got with my assistants and said, 'I want to do more for the boys than just use them.'"

To hit home with that message, Willertz has made use of activities and responsibilities away from school for his student-athletes. Many schools at different levels take their kids on team-building trips and retreats and Willertz and the Warriors just returned from one in November.

"I worked through an organization called Sports Leader," said Willertz. "Sports Leader's purpose is to help coaches teach their boys more than just the sport. They have a retreat site out in Indiana, about 130 acres. They have some tents and a fishing pond and a swimming pond."

Unfortunately, 25 to 30 degree temperatures didn't allow for much swimming, but within a 24-hour period, Willertz was able to provide his grapplers with some valuable life lessons.

"Moeller High School's wrestling team took 40-50 kids out there and some public schools have used it," said Willertz, who took 15 Warriors with him. "We want to make the kids think that they're roughing it, even though they're really not roughing it. (We) get them out in nature and talk to them about what it means to be a real man and have some fun out there."

Fun included dividing his guys into three groups and seeing who could gather the most firewood for a bonfire. Naturally, for most coaches and athletes, everything's a competition.

It's exactly why Willertz has embraced the concept of combining physical activity with spiritual/mental meaning.

If you happen to live near a Winton Woods wrestler, odds are you have a clean driveway when the snow falls. The Warriors of Willertz wipe the walkways clean on days when most of their classmates are sleeping in.

"That's our community service program," said Willertz. "Last year the people of the community voted in a levy and we wanted to do something to pay them back. With us being a winter sport, it (shoveling) just made sense."

How was the Chris Willertz Wrestling/Shoveling Workout born?

"I went on a retreat and God spoke to me," said Willertz. "Your wrestlers on snow days, you can't force them to come in on because of liability issues. I make our workouts optional on snow days because of road conditions. But I said, 'You need to be working out, it's wrestling season.'"

Much like how Rocky Balboa trained for the Russian Ivan Drago in Siberia for in "Rocky IV", the Winton Woods wrestlers are getting in shape the "old school" way with some good old-fashioned hard work. Besides, lifting and throwing something in a vigorous motion logically can be translated into a wrestling move.

"If you go shovel a driveway, you'll work up a sweat and you'll be able to get a good workout in if you can't make it to practice," said Willertz. "You're also helping out in the neighborhood."

The program has evolved to the point that Willertz has his boys assigned to certain driveways and members of the community are phoning him with requests. The goodwill gesture has landed the program media exposure and shovels have been donated to help the cause.

In return, those benefiting from the clean driveways can also give back.

"People that get their snow shoveled have the option of adopting one of my wrestlers," said Willertz. "They don't have a whole lot of money. It cost $60 to wrestle and their school fees have to be paid. But, if they don't have the money we still put them on the snow tree and do it regardless."

This time of year, it's all in the spirit of giving.


I don't have any friends. Actually, this isn't true. I have over 3000+ friends on Facebook, friends at work, friends from a previous job, and all sorts of others I need to reconnect with as soon as I find the time to do so. And I do have true friends, thank you very much. I am as socially out there as you can get.

What I don't have is a family. I live alone. I just broke up with my girlfriend and her four kids. Basically, she wants me to provide housing to them as they squander my finances and destroy my property. My brother and I just had the last argument we are ever going to have. It is the same one where I tell him something true, and he calls me a deluded fucknut because that particular truth does not square with a decision or viewpoint he has already acquired. My role is to tell him how brilliant he is.

I have a large social circle because I depend on my friends for the most valuable thing they can give me--their unvarnished opinions. And I strive to give them the most honest and accurate information that I can. People have a tendency to gild the lily when they talk about themselves. I overcompensate for this by painting the best picture of others and painting the worst for myself. I always ask the same question of myself--Is there something wrong with me? As someone who has been wrong in the past, I find this to be an important question to ask.

This is a quote from the email my brother sent me:

I get frustrated sometimes when I try to explain something to someone and they aren't understanding what I am trying to say. The fault lies with me in that I need to learn a better way to phrase my questions and sometimes, I snap when I can't get people to understand my questions or my statements. In the scant 15 minutes, though, it appears that you hung up on me (or Skype shitted on me), you de-friended me on Facebook, and pretty much cut me off. I think that is a bit extreme, but I can't change your mind or your methods of dealing with friends and family. I just hope you would re-consider cutting someone off for such a simple argument. People get in arguments all the time, but it does not mean that you should cut them off.

Now, I understood what my brother was saying. What he did not understand was that he was wrong. I've already put his situation to my peer review process, and I don't even have to say my side. They immediately start laughing as soon as I state the facts. Some things are just that obvious. My brother has his typical meltdown and starts screaming and cussing at me. My advice to him? Diversify your investments across different classes of assets. (I know. I'm totally nuts with that shit.)

People like to be told what they want to hear. My brother is no different in this. I am particularly special in that I want to be told something contrary. I want people to tell me that I am wrong. I want to be challenged. One of my bestest buddies in the world plays a constant devil's advocate to me, and he can be damn irritating. But I keep his friendship. He is the pin to any ego bubbles I might have. Similarly, the bulk of my Facebook friends are people of various different political leanings. Then, there is the C-blog here with my virtual open door policy on commenting. As long as it isn't spam, it stays. And, yes, I have felt the sting on a few occasions. But that is the point.

Families exist in a moral/informational bubble. Reality and common sense are not allowed to intrude. Family is essentially a conspiracy. As one lady put it to me ever so bluntly, "Family will fuck you worse than a stranger." That is so true. You will see this element running in families, government, crime syndicates, and organizations. They value secrecy and loyalty over morality and common sense. Needless to say, I don't do conspiracies. The result is that I am always an outsider.

The rift I had with Godless Columbia (now, Freethought Society of the Midlands) followed this similar pattern. The organization opted to become private instead of public (secrecy!) I opposed this. Then, they opted to change the name to appeal to people who weren't atheists. At that point, I had to leave. The group became the appeasement of one person's ego over openness, honesty, transparency, and commitment to purpose. It became a conspiracy.

To conspire means to act together in secret. A conspiracy can be benign like the Freemasons, or it can be illegal like Watergate. I'm not against people wanting to keep secrets. I even keep secrets for others. But there is a limit to that sort of thing. For instance, I oppose the drug war, but I will not hesitate to rat out a dirty cop like the sheriff of Lee County who was also a drug lord. I don't care so much that someone like Willie Nelson likes to toke up.

The thing that worries me is this. Am I antisocial? Am I a loner? Am I an isolated nutcase on the road to becoming like the Unabomber living in the woods and doing really antisocial shit? Or am I someone who merely stops having relationships with people who treat me badly? I think I am firmly in the latter category even if the people I choose not to associate with anymore try to put me in the former. Basically, I'm a loner because I don't want to be a member of their club.

I can be associated with whomever I choose, and if people hurt me or use me, I am done with them. The relationship is over. Period. I just don't give a fuck anymore. I'm not so desperate for people's company that I am going to let them shit all over me. It is the narcissist-altruist thing all over again.

All my social relationships end on the same point. I don't do anything to harm others. They simply want me to give them something they want, and when I don't give it to them, they turn on me. I have encountered this over and over again. I give. They take. When I stop giving, they treat me badly. Relationship ends. I am merely the means to an end.

All of this is a consequence of my libertarian/individualist/silver rule way of doing things. My now ex-girlfriend called me selfish for enjoying things I bought with my own money. Basically, I am supposed to share whatever I earn. Of course, I never applied the same rule to her. The result is that she gets to spend her money and my money, too. Neat trick, eh? Well, that parasite is now gone. Sayonara, babe. You are done. My peer review process backs me up on this as soon as I say "four kids." I'm glad they aren't mine.

I am firmly on the path of self-reliance. I fall into these traps because I feel that I need people in my life. I need people to be there to catch me if I fall, to give me a ride to the airport, or to call 911 when I have my coronary event. But you want to know the truth? You are better off paying for a cab, membership to AAA, and getting one of those medic alert things. (I've fallen, and I can't get my pants back on!) And, yes, paying a prostitute is cheaper than a girlfriend.

So, am I the Unabomber? Nope. I know who I am exactly. I am Dr. House.

The guy surrounds himself with a peer group to challenge him. He does what he thinks is right. I would draw the line at kidnapping and breaking and entering. Otherwise, I am just like House. And House is a good guy. People can call him an asshole all day, but assholes are just people who tell the truth. There is a social cost to that, but it is worth paying. I don't want people to lie to me even if the lie might make me feel good. The blows of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy.

Chris Bream on Libertarians

There’s always tension between freedom and fairness. We want less government regulation, but not when it means firms can hire cheap child labor. We want a free market, but not so bankers can deceive investors. Libertarianism, in promoting freedom above all else, pretends the tension doesn’t exist.

Case in point: A house in Obion County, Tennessee, burned to the ground in September because the owner had not paid the annual $75 fee for opt-in fire protection. As the fire raged, the house owner told the dispatcher that he would pay the cost of putting out the fire. The fire department still refused to come. The house burned down, with four pets inside. Libertarians point out that this is how opt-in services—as opposed to taxpayer-funded public services—works. If you don’t pay, you don’t get coverage. The firefighters can’t make exceptions without creating moral hazard. This makes sense in theory. In practice, not so much. The firefighters showed up to protect a neighboring property. The homeowner offered to pay not just the cost of the fire protection but the full cost of the spray. A court would have enforced that contract. But because the firefighters stuck to a rigid principle of opt-in services, a house was destroyed. Will this serve as a cautionary tale next time a rural resident of Obion County is deciding whether to buy fire insurance? No doubt. But will someone else inevitably not learn his lesson and make the same mistake? No doubt.

And that’s just the government side. Consider the social side of Libertopia. It’s no coincidence that most libertarians discover the philosophy as teenagers. At best, libertarianism means pursuing your own self-interest, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. At worst, as in Ayn Rand’s teachings, it’s an explicit celebration of narcissism. “Man’s first duty is to himself,” says the young architect Howard Roark in his climactic speech in The Fountainhead. “His moral obligation is to do what he wishes.” Roark utters these words after dynamiting his own project, since his vision for the structure had been altered without his permission. The message: Never compromise. If you don’t get your way, blow things up. And there’s the problem. If everyone refused to compromise his vision, there would be no cooperation. There would be no collective responsibility. The result wouldn’t be a city on a hill. It would be a port town in Somalia. In a world of scarce resources, everyone pursuing their own self-interest would yield not Atlas Shrugged but Lord of the Flies. And even if you did somehow achieve Libertopia, you’d be surrounded by assholes.

The Trouble with Liberty

* * *

Bream writes a long essay that is a fairly accurate description of the libertarian movement. But he is a statist at heart, so he must defend the outlandishness of today's government excess because it comports with "reality" while libertarianism is merely a fantasy. I call this the utopia/Somalia argument.

The problem with this argument is that it is not a real argument. You might as well point out that no government exists in Antarctica, and they don't have a McDonald's or a Walmart down there. There are no people down there except a few shivering in remote outposts studying climate and other shit.

Somalia is better off today than it was under dictatorship. It is an anarchy, and out of this anarchy will spring some new dictator at some point. Or maybe not. So far, Somalia has resisted all efforts by the US and the UN to establish a central government. There has to be something good in that.

All libertarians agree that statism is bad and inimical to human freedom and flourishing. Despite the many stripes of libertarians from anarchists to Objectivists, they both take a dim view of the tomfuckery of the Democrats and Republicans in Washington. The arguments Bream makes are within the libertarian movement itself. In the case of Somalia, the argument is between minarchy and anarchy. I can flip Bream's argument around and claim that he supports a military dictatorship in Somalia. I can also toss North Korea in his face as well. I doubt he would champion that level of tyranny. It all comes down to determining where the line is drawn. Libertarians draw the line much further away from the statists.

The fundamental argument is between limited and unlimited government. Statists believe in unlimited government. They are the utopians because they believe they have the answer to all problems and have a blindness in acknowledging the problems they create with their solutions. Medicare is great! Of course, funding it is a problem. But you wouldn't want to turn out old people, would ya? Libertarians hate grandma, so you should support Medicare. Later on, those same statists will be pulling the plug on grandma to plug the deficit in that program. There is no such thing as unlimited compassion.

Bream also throws it the latest fave argument from the statists--the firefighters who let a homeowner's home burn to the ground because he had not paid his $75 fee for fire protection. I hate to say this, but I think the firefighters were in the right. Under the statist scenario, the homeowner would pay the $75 at the point of a gun or been put under some other system of compulsion, taxation, subsidy, etc. The irony is that you never hear these fuckers weep and complain when someone's home is stolen and auctioned off because they couldn't pay their property taxes. That gets swept under the rug because Bream is a statist fucktard who wants to ream your asshole with his gigantic government dick. Yes, in Libertopia, the firefighters will let your house burn if you don't pay the fee. But it will always be your house even if you choose to gamble. The result is that people pay their fees, or they become extra cautious about fire hazards around the home. I'm sorry, but I find this much more preferrable to the current system of pay or become homeless.

And that is the statist trick in a nutshell. Because of the possibility of a thousand imaginary disasters under freedom, statism is to be preferred even if you have a thousand real disasters as a consequence. Here it is applied to marijuana legalization:

Yes, marijuana is illegal and ends up with a lot of people in jail for a nonviolent offense and helps create a black market. But if marijuana was legal, pot crazed marijuana smokers will rape your family members, assassinate political leaders, suffer intense brain damage, and unleash a slow marching army of zombies on us right before the rise of the antichrist on his throne of power.

Yes, this is absurd, but it was just such absurd reasoning that got marijuana outlawed in the first place. If the cure is worse than the disease, then you eschew the cure. The statist argument is that we are champions of the disease. Outlawing foodstamps means libertarians favor hunger. Outlawing TSA groping means libertarians favor terrorism. On and on, it goes. I have heard it for years, and Bream offers nothing new or relevant in the way of argument.

Ultimately, this article is a puff piece to tell people about libertarianism who don't know jackshit about it. What people do get is an intuitive feeling that the statists with their warmongering, their lying, their bailouts, and whatnot are not the answer. This is Bream's pathetic attempt to say, "There's nothing to see here. Move along." But there is something to see here. As government fails, the truth will emerge. This is why we have this libertarian moment. The bills of statism are now coming due, and people are pissed. VERY PISSED.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Queen!

My Gazelle "Linda" has now been updated for the winter, with new tires and woven dress guards. She is a beautiful sight to behold against the snowy landscape!

The tire replacement was something that had to be done anyhow, as the original ones were cracked and I did not want them to fail in the winter. And of course, I was only too happy to replace them with my favourite cream Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. As for the woven dress guards, there was no reason for them what so ever, other than aesthetic caprice. I thought that Linda looked somewhat generic with the solid black vinyl dress guards, and I wanted to personalise her. We purchased the woven dress guards from Mike Flanigan of ANT and installed them by drilling holes directly into the fenders. I have close-up pictures of the installation and will write a detailed tutorial in a separate post, for those interested.

Riding the Gazelle with the new tires, I immediately noticed that she became a bit faster and quicker to accelerate. This echoes my experience with Delta Cruisers on other bikes - which is one reason I love these tires so much. They are the best combination of city/ sporty/ cushy/ all-weather I have found so far. And okay, it does not hurt that they are available in cream!

It was interesting to cycle on the Gazelle after such a heavy snowfall, and to compare her handling to the Bella Ciao - which I rode immediately after the previous snowfall. Somewhat to my surprise, they handle similarly at slow speeds (under 10mph)- which is the speed I stick to under winter road conditions. The Bella Ciao's superior responsiveness and the Gazelle's superior cushiness are considerably less noticeable when cycling gingerly over slush and ice patches. Their common qualities, however, are all the more noticeable: Namely, how well-balanced and stable they both are. The Pashley I rode last year had these same qualities as well - so I think that all three are great winter bicycles.

The Gazelle does have a bit of an edge when cycling over large formations of hardened snow, due to its wider tires. On the other hand, the Bella Ciao has a considerable "winter cyclocross" advantage: It is easier to drag, lift and carry when road conditions necessitate getting off the bike and moving it over heaps of snow or patches of ice. Overall, I am honestly not sure which I prefer, and I see the two bikes as representing different ends of my winter comfort zone spectrum. The Gazelle has a rack and lights, so by default I ride it more. But once I install these on the Bella Ciao, that may change. For those who have tried different upright transportation bicycles in the winter (i.e., Pashley vs Workcycles vs Retrovelo vs Rivendell vs ANT vs Abici, etc.), I would love to know what you think of the handling.

After the first two snow storms of the season, I can already tell that I will have an easier time cycling this winter than I did last year. Nothing has really changed in a drastic way, but maybe my balancing skills have gradually improved and my lungs have grown accustomed to cycling in freezing temperatures. And as far as aesthetics go, I really do think that it helps to have a bicycle that you are excited about as a winter bike, rather than a "beater". This helped me last year and it's helping me now. The winter landscape is so beautiful, that cycling through it on a bicycle I love (and feel safe on) makes it all the more special.

A Simple Act Elevates All

Embracing service!

Rudy Favard, 17, cradled Sammy Parker, 8, as he carried him upstairs. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Yvonne Abraham
Globe Columnist

On Tuesday night, Patty and Rick Parker were in their cramped kitchen with their 8-year-old son Ben. Dinner was over. Bedtime was near.

Ben’s twin brother, Sammy, lay on a cot in the narrow hallway just outside the kitchen. Unable to see or speak or control his limbs, he coughed or let out a little moan every now and then. Rick and Patty took turns feeding Sammy, who has cerebral palsy, through a stomach tube. He cooed when they kissed his face or stroked his cheek, and when they cooed back, he opened his mouth into a wide, joyful O.

A few feet away was the narrow, winding stairway that is the family’s biggest burden lately.

Which is where 17-year-old Rudy’s simple, life-changing act of kindness comes in.

Until recently, Rick carried Sammy up those 14 stairs to his bedroom each night. But a few months ago, Rick had major surgery for a life-threatening heart condition, and now he can’t lift much at all, let alone a 75-pound child.

“We thought Rick was going to die, and we were terrified,’’ Patty recalled. “We knew right away he had to stop carrying Sam.’’

Patty couldn’t carry him, either. Desperate, she called her pediatrician, who put her in touch with Elizabeth Paquette, the nurse at Malden Catholic High School. Paquette said she’d take care of it. The boys at Malden Catholic are taught to embrace service: She’d find plenty of students to help.

Rudy Favard was the first kid Paquette came across after that call. At Malden Catholic on a partial scholarship from the Catholic Schools Foundation, this son of Haitian immigrants was one of Paquette’s treasures. The linebacker, cocaptain of the football team and honor roll student was always willing to lend a hand.

The nurse had barely begun telling Rudy about the Parkers before he said he’d help. Another boy would fill in for Rudy on game nights. And a third boy was on standby in case neither of the others could make it.

When Paquette brought the boys to meet the family for the first time, the Parkers cried.

“Just to see this outpouring of people,’’ Rick Parker began, his eyes welling at the memory. “To see that these people were willing to put their hands and feet to what they believed. . .’’

It is profoundly isolating to have a child as severely disabled as Sammy. It’s hard even for well-meaning friends to understand the immense strain of his all-consuming needs. Patty and Rick — who tried for 8 years to get pregnant before Ben and Sam were born — grieve for one son’s lost potential every day, even as they struggle to give the other as normal a life as possible.

“You plan for your child’s future, but it’s hard to do that for Sam,’’ Rick said. “You have this pathway he should have taken, and the pathway he did take, and you don’t want to look at either one.’’

And over it all hangs the certainty that Sammy’s condition will never improve — even as he gets bigger and heavier.

Into this world of love and hurt comes Rudy. Four nights a week, he leaves his homework and makes the 10-minute drive to the Parker house. Around 8 p.m., he carries Sammy upstairs, chats a bit, hugs everybody, and heads home to finish his work. After considerable effort, the Parkers convinced Rudy to take enough money to cover gas, with a little left over.

In the few months the Parkers have known him, Rudy has become not just a help with Sammy, but a salve for their pain. He and Rick talk about football. Patty quizzes him on girls. Ben usually parks himself as close to Rudy as possible, looking up at him adoringly. And most nights, Sam will tremble with excitement as Rudy picks him up.

“It’s like family,’’ said the shy senior. It goes both ways: The Parkers were on the field with Rudy’s mother the night Malden Catholic honored its senior football players.

And so Rudy had barely knocked on the door Tuesday night before Ben was at it, jumping up and down, yelling, “Rudy is here! Rudy is here!’’

He greeted the Parkers, and went over to Sammy, gently lifting the boy’s left arm and sliding his hands under his back, the way Rudy’s father, a professional caregiver, had shown him. He lifted Sammy and held him close to his chest, and as the boy made his joyful O, Rudy carefully maneuvered him around the corners on the narrow stairway.

You couldn’t help but be struck by the painful contrast between the two boys: The robust athlete cradling the pale, helpless child; the young man preparing to go out into the world carrying someone who never will.

It’s a comparison lost on nobody, least of all Rudy himself.

“Can I ask you something?’’ he said, sitting in the Parkers’ living room after Sammy was asleep. “Is it OK if this article is more about Sam than me?’’


“He’s done more for me than I’ve done for him,’’ Rudy said. “There are times when I don’t want to go to practice, and then I look at Sam. By God’s grace, I can do what I’m doing, so I should keep it up. I’ve never been one to complain a lot, but just seeing Sam reaffirms everything, you know?’’

The Parkers won’t have Rudy for long. He’s already been accepted at four colleges, and others are courting him. Where he goes depends on financial aid and football.

The Parkers hope to be out of this cramped house and into a bigger one — with no stairs — before Rudy leaves town in search of his degree.

Until then, Rudy will bound up to the modest, pale green house on Fairmount Street. He’ll carry Sammy up to his cozy room. Then, for a little while, he’ll carry the Parkers somewhere better, too.

Cardiff Blues v Ospreys set for record crowd

With over 16,000 tickets already sold for the Blues v Ospreys derby match on New Year’s Eve it looks set be a record rugby crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium.
There’s sure to a brilliant atmosphere for the game which kicks off at 2.05pm as the Blues take on an inform Ospreys side.
Speaking ahead of the match, Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby, David Young said,
“On paper the Ospreys are arguably one of the strongest sides in Europe packed full of current internationals.”
“They showed in their recent Heineken Cup win over Munster and in recent win over Scarlets they have an extremely strong pack and scrum that can dominate teams.”
“They also have some world class players in the backs, so it is hard to find a weakness in their side.”
“They are the reigning Magners League champions so I’m sure they won’t want to give up the title lightly.”
“One thing that our results in the Heineken Cup have done is make us even more determined as a group to do something in the Magners League.”
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played before the end of the season and traditionally we have always been a side that has played better after Christmas. Despite not playing to our full potential we are in a lot stronger position than where we were last season.”
“We are in the top five, whereas last year we were at the wrong end of the table.”

Tickets for the match are still available by calling the ticket office on 0845 345 1400 but due to the adverse weather conditions and the Royal Mail backlog, the Cardiff City Stadium Ticket Office has stopped sending out tickets for the match.
Supporters are advised to please collect their tickets from the ticket office before the day of the match but if you are coming down on the day to collect please allow plenty of time to gain entry.
Family tickets for the match are available for two adults and two children for only £20 in the Family Stand.
Prior to kick off at the match, the winners of the hugely popular Xmas Factor competition will be performing on the pitch. The competition hosted by Queen's Arcade Cardiff has been running in conjunction Red Dragon FM with the winners, Pic n Mix dance group, chosen from a celebrity judging panel winning the chance to perform.
Furthermore Cardiff Blues and Magners League will be staging a Crossbar Challenge competition at half time during the game. Two lucky entrants will have the chance to win £10,000 in the challenge after purchasing Magners Irish Cider in their local pub and receiving the winning scratch cards over the Christmas period.

Cardiff Blues Top 3 Attendances at Cardiff City Stadium

Sat 24 Oct 2009 Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16,341
Fri 21 Aug Cardiff Blues v Leicester Tigers 15,843
Sun 27 Dec 2009 Cardiff Blues v Newport Gwent Dragons 15,210


Well, at least I hope so. Today Cindy (Wayward Wind) came into season and Brennan is very pleased, as am I because I was beginning to think it might never happen! Now for Isla to follow suit ...

I'm hoping to hit the road on Friday with my camera to visit a couple of horses either bred by me or by one of my stallions and to meet Brennan's sire and a collection of other Connemaras. This makes me very excited!! (OK, so I have a quiet life!). And now, a couple of photos: