Monday, January 31, 2011

Comments, Arguments, Bicycles...

[image via Chris 531]

Over the past couple of weeks, I've spent considerably more time moderaring comments than usual. For the most part, it's been a handful of readers getting overzealous in their debates with one another. But when hostility enters a discussion, others get sucked into it as well. All I know is: I don't want to be the Jerry Springer of bicycle blogs. I would rather have fewer comments, but retain the atmosphere of comradery that has been characteristic here thus far.

I have wondered whether discussions about bicycles are somehow more prone to conflict than other topics. Readers often tell me that they are uncomfortable commenting on various online bicycle forums and blogs, because they find the atmosphere hostile. And I understand that: I myself have a difficult time communicating on bikeforums, despite it being such a valuable resource for technical information. I also can no longer read the comments on Yehuda Moon, because of all the bickering between readers there. It is well documented that there exist genuine differences between what kind of interactions people find enjoyable: Some prefer for everything to be in the style of a debate, with technical inaccuracies in the wording of others victoriously exposed. Others favour a more nurturing, open form of communication. My own preference is somewhere in between: I like a good debate and I am fine with being challenged, as long as the underlying mood feels friendly.

[images via Schwar]

Sometimes I think that we'd all be nicer over the internet, if we just imagined all the unknown others out there as kittens. Kittens, who love bicycles - at times feisty, but ultimately sweet and fluffy, pedaling happily through the fragrant meadows. Do you really want to hurt their feelings?

But for those who can't deal with the kitten metaphor and prefer specifics, I will be more direct: I think that it is a matter of common sense to refrain from mocking or deriding others' points of view in the comments. It's not that everyone has to agree, but sometimes there are nicer ways to disagree. In the same vein, consider refraining from statements that, while technically speaking may be phrased politely, you know in your heart of hearts are inflammatory (for example: "No offense meant, but riding a blue bicycle lowers your IQ and transmits STDs"). Finally, allow me to suggest that it is best to avoid making speculative, or misleading statements about individuals or entities that can be considered slanderous (for example: "I heard that Lovely Bicycle is written in the Far East, using child labor and toxic inks"). I trust that most people understand the difference between comments that are "in good faith" and "not in good faith."

Meaningful reader feedback has been a defining element of "Lovely Bicycle" from the start, and it makes me happy to be the hostess of such thoughtful, interesting discussions. As one reader recently suggested, my posts are collaborative: I offer my views, and others offer their views in return. It's a constructive exchange, which I think works nicely. Please help me keep it that way. And think of the cycling kittens.

MONDAY

1. ObamaCare gets the slapdown from a federal judge. The SCOTUS should finish it off.

2. Egyptians are using dial up to get back on the internet. Apparently, they still had a bunch of those free AOL discs lying around from the 90's.

3. Israel is sweating this revolution in Egypt. The new guy is probably going to be a tad bit antisemitic.

4. Tom Brokaw refuses to say that Keith Olbermann is a cocksucking loudmouth arrogant worthless motherfucking son of a bitch who needs his ass kicked and his car keyed to hell and back because he keeps parking in Brokaw's spot!!

5. Eva Longoria and Tony Parker are now divorced. I only report this for the sake of posting this delicious pic:



6. Mubarak would flee to the USA, but he doesn't want his balls cupped by the TSA.

7. Wife swapping is probably not good for a marriage especially if there is variability in penis size.

8. I went to find my perfect match on eHarmony, and I ended up with a bald bitch who cursed a lot and liked looking at porn all day.

9. The reason SETI hasn't found alien life is because they skipped broadcasting completely and went straight to cable.

10. The first skill of a blogger is the ability to endure great hatred. The second skill is the ability to provoke that hatred.

David Goldston at CIRES on Friday

Friday, February 4, 2011
David Goldston
Director of Government Affairs, U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council

Loving Science to Death:
Problems at the Intersection of Science and Policy


University of Colorado CIRES Auditorium | 4:00-5:00 p.m. (directions to CIRES)

Light reception to follow in the CIRES Atrium

Why is the use of science in policy so fraught with political and substantive danger? What can be done to improve the use of science in the policy process? Is the situation improving or getting worse? The talk will address these questions, drawing on a variety of past and current examples from environmental policy that David Goldston has been involved in on and off Capitol Hill.


About this series

The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences — CIRES — seeks to promote global perspectives by sponsoring distinguished speakers whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries. The Distinguished Lecture Series is designed to bring outstanding scientists, as well as historians of science, science policy makers, and science journalists, and others who take imaginative positions on environmental issues and can establish enduring connections after their departure. Participants' interests embrace those of the University departments and programs, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration labs affiliated with CIRES.

For a current list of seminar offerings, visit: http://cires.colorado.edu/events/lectures

Many thanks to Jon and Elaine Krupnick for their generous support of CIRES' Distinguished Lecture Series.

Jerk

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

Jerk 2x20kg: 5

Jerk 2x24kg: 5
Jerk 2x28kg: two ladders of 2,4,6
Jerk 2x20kg: 52/5min

My grip was all fried since Saturday, so I cut snatches today. I also did some moving of stuff today.

I read a forum post by a guy called Jake Heke. He is usually right about most things and he wrote that Eastern GS lifters never stop with strength training earlier than 3, or 4, weeks before competition. Thus, I did some 28kg jerks instead of with 24kgs. The forum in question is a bad place so I wont give out the web-adress (your computor would probably have blocked it anyway).

My 52reps with 20kgs might be a PR, I had more in the tank though. The higher rpm's are hard to me. Destiny's only blessing of me, from a GS-point of view, is that I am made for a comfortable rack. So, of course, resting becomes quite tempting :-).

Below is the updated plan for my training up to the Uddevalla comp 5th of March. It's good that I did  such a template, but it also reminds me why I am so cautious of too strict pre-set programs and prefers going by intuition (i.e. the physical feel of the day). Well, with some maturity one should be able to combine the two.

[SOC]

It has been an eventful weekend here on the C-blog thanks to the tri-bash I did. If people ever wonder if I delete comments, they now have overwhelming empirical evidence that shows that I don't.

This isn't the first time I have written about a sport. In fact, I have written stuff about a variety of outdoor activities from cycling to weekend warriors to ultrarunners. Nothing has set off a group of people like that tri-bash post. I poked a sensitive spot. The only thing that provokes that kind of response is hard truth.

I don't have any hatred for any other sports. I am critical of activities that require a bunch of expensive shit and big toys. I think a guy fishing with $500 john boat is pretty cool. The guy with the $35K boat is not so cool. There is vanity there which is really dumb if it requires going into debt.

Someone remarked to me the other day that they noticed that I tended to be humble. Of course, I have to deny this since to acknowledge it would be bragging. But I do eschew status, conspicuous consumption, and all that shit. You can see where a yuppie sport like triathlon would be a ripe target for a blue collar guy like me.

Distance running has the opposite effect on me. I like a sport where the elites come from third world poverty. I admire a sport that is virtually free. You can go to any marathon, and you will see blue collar folks lining up with bankers to compete. Money doesn't buy you shit in the marathon.

There is a lot of social commentary to be had in these worlds. Because I bring a certain class consciousness to my discussions, people probably think I am some kind of Marxist. But I'm not. I just question the snobbery. Snobbery is the desperate attempt of rich people to convince the rest of us that they are also happy. But if you are happy, you don't convince anyone. They already know it just by looking at you.

This is why I am constantly surprised when people envy me. I figure envy is reserved for people who drive expensive cars and live in mansions. But envy comes from unhappy people who see other people as being happy. A great example would be the warden's hatred of Andy Dufresne in Shawshank. You start to see that happiness is less dependent on your circumstances than it is on your choices and your response to those circumstances. This is also why envious people become so hateful and destructive. When you live in opposition to their way and it works, they want to hide the evidence that they are not living the good life. These people are deep in a delusion.

I envy people, but what I call envy is really admiration. I admire people who reflect values that I have or have virtues I wish to have. These vary from individualism to humility to a tenacious work ethic. I admire these people because they confirm the things I already believe in. When a Mexican immigrant comes here, busts his ass working, and ends up owning his own home and a business and surrounds himself with a loving family, I am going to admire that way more than the fact that a coke whore like Paris Hilton is able to pull down in a day what this guy earns in a year.

Anyway, these are the thoughts in my head at this present moment. On to other things. . .

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where Have You Been...

Since the end of the summer, I've received a number of concerned inquiries about "Velouria," my vintage Raleigh DL-1 Tourist (and for those who have only begun reading this blog recently, I am named after this bicycle, not the other way around). Though admittedly I have not featured her for some time, I assure you that Velouria is alive and well. She resides in our photo studio just South of Boston, performing the under-documented but crucial role of "studio bike." And here are the pictures to prove it.

For those unfamiliar with Velouria's history, she is somewhat of a "frankenbike," albeit a darling one. I acquired the 1973 Raleigh DL-1 in the summer of 2009 and over time proceeded to subject her to a number of modifications. These have included: an aftermarket chaincase and dress guards, cream tires, a Brooks B18 saddle, a custom rear rack, and an updated rear wheel with a coaster brake hub to supplement the pitiful braking power of the rod brakes.

Why do I feel the need to mess with a vintage bicycle in this manner? To tell the truth, part of it is simply the compulsion to experiment, to customise, to turn objects that belong to me into "creatures." I am not saying it's a good habit necessarily; but it's how I like to do things.

There was also a practical reason for all the modifications: I loved the ride quality of the DL-1 so much, that I was highly motivated to make it as functional as possible.

But ultimately, my love for this bicycle is also what made me move it to the photo studio after I (literally) found the vintage Gazelle in the end of last summer. At the risk of sounding cruel to the Gazelle, I am willing to run it into the ground. It is a great bike, it handles wonderfully, it is admirably designed, but my feeling toward is appreciation - not "love." The vintage Raleigh, on the other hand, feels almost like a pet. I just can't bring myself to ride its already battered and rusty frame on the salted roads in the winter, or even to leave it for hours in the rain in the summer. "Let the Gazelle take the abuse and spare the Raleigh," says my heart. And so Velouria became "studio bike" - ridden occasionally, but not too much.

And if you've noticed that these pictures are a little different from my typical bike photos, that is because they were taken inside the studio itself. We will soon be doing a couple of photo shoots for a local framebuilder, so we're practicing. When it comes to product photography in a studio setting, every object requires a different approach to lighting - and I would say that bicycles are fairly complicated as far as these things go. They are enormous, they have both matte and reflective parts, and they cast a variety of unusual shadows. Oh, and don't get me started on the kickstand thing; we are still working that one out!

Of course, the trouble with this type of product photography is that it brings every single detail of the object into sharp focus - not exactly the most flattering approach when it comes to vintage bikes!

But after all, "Velouria" is not just any vintage bike.  She is mine. The scraped paint, the rust, the solidified crust, the dented fenders and even the bent rodbrake levers are, oddly, all part of what makes me cherish her. She may no longer be the most frequently featured bicycle here, but she epitomises the theme of this blog perhaps more than any other bike I own.

Updated 31 Jan 2011 -- Normalized Disaster Losses in Australia

Courtesy Ryan Crompton, the figure above shows the most recent insured loss estimates from the recent Queensland flooding based on an update from the Insurance Council of Australia (here in PDF).  The estimated costs of the flood have increased from A$1.2 billion to A$1.51 billion (and shown as the bright blue bar on the far right of the figure above -- and is not normalized (the normalized values would be lower) -- the other data shows the normalized losses from Crompton and McAneney 2008 updated through 2010, more details here). 

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Gittins offers a valuable perspective on the economic magnitude of the losses from the Queensland floods.  I'll skip over the issues of domestic politics that he discusses to focus on the comments that he makes about the magnitude of the losses.  He provides a useful bit of advice, which is exactly the advice that I give to my students (emphasis added):
The wise and much-loved econocrat Austin Holmes used to say that one of the most important skills an economist needed was ''a sense of the relative magnitudes'' - the ability to see whether something was big enough to be worth worrying about.

That sense has been absent from the comments of those business and academic economists on duty over the silly season, happily supplying the media's demand for comments confirming the immensity of the floods' economic and budgetary implications.
Gittins then gets into the numbers:
If this is the most expensive natural disaster in Australian history, all it proves is the cost of earlier disasters was negligible. If you can ''rebuild Queensland'' for just $5.6 billion, it must be a pretty tin-pot place.

If $5.6 billion seems a lot, consider some ''relative magnitudes'': the economy's annual production of goods and services (gross domestic product) totals $1400 billion, and the budget's annual revenue collections total $314 billion.

Note that, though no one's thought it worthy of mention, the $5.6 billion in spending will be spread over at least three financial years, making it that much easier to fund.

We know that more than a third of the $5.6 billion will be paid out in the present financial year with, presumably, most of the rest paid in 2011-12. So just how the flood reconstruction spending could threaten the budget's promised return to surplus in 2012-13 is something no one has explained.

And if $5.6 billion isn't all that significant in the scheme of things, how much less significant is the $1.8 billion to be raised from the tax levy? The fuss economists have been making about it tells us more about their hang-ups over taxation than their powers of economic analysis.
It turns out that domestic politics are difficult to avoid!  But what about the possible GDP impacts?  Gittins explains:
Turning from the budget to the economy, Treasury's estimate is that the floods will reduce gross domestic product by about 0.5 percentage points, with the effect concentrated in the March quarter.

Thereafter, however, the rebuilding effort - private as well as public - will add to GDP and probably largely offset the initial dip. So the floods will do more to change the profile of growth over the next year or two than to reduce the level it reaches.

Most of the temporary loss of production will be incurred by the Bowen Basin coal miners. But, though it won't show up directly in GDP, their revenue losses will be offset to some extent by the higher prices they'll be getting as a consequence of the global market's reaction to the disruption to supply.

And despite all the fuss the media have been making over higher fruit and vegetable prices, Treasury's best guess is that this will cause a spike of just 0.25 percentage points in the consumer price index for the March quarter, with prices falling back in subsequent quarters.

So the floods do precious little to change the previous reality that, with unemployment down to 5 per cent and a mining investment boom on the way, the economy is close to its capacity constraint and will soon need to be restrained by higher interest rates.

Talks this Week: UBC and Portland

[UPDATE 1/31: DUE TO A WINTER STORM IN COLORADO THE UBC TALK HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL LATER IN THE SEMESTER, STAY TUNED]

I'm giving two talks this week.  If you are a reader of this blog, please do say hello.  Here are the details from the two talk announcements:

First, Tuesday at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver:
The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians
Won’t Tell You About Global Warming


University of British Columbia
Tuesday February 1st 2011
12 - 1pm
AERL room 120

The world’s response to climate change is deeply flawed. The conventional wisdom on how to deal with climate change has failed and it’s time to change course. To date, climate policies have been guided by targets and timetables for emissions reduction derived from various academic exercises. Such methods are both oblivious to and in violation of on-the-ground political and technological realities that serve as practical “boundary conditions” for effective policy making. Until climate policies are designed with respect for these boundary conditions, failure is certain. Using nothing more than arithmetic and logical explanation, this talk provides a comprehensive exploration of the problem and a proposal for a more effective way forward.

ROGER PIELKE, Jr., has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado since 2001 and is a Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). At CIRES, Roger served as the Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research from 2001-2007. Roger’s research focuses on the intersection of science and technology and decision making. In 2006 Roger received the Eduard Brückner Prize in Munich, Germany for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research. Before joining the University of Colorado, from 1993-2001 Roger was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Roger is a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute. He is also author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. His most recent book is The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell you About Global Warming (September, 2010, Basic Books).
And then Thursday evening in Portland:
Fixing Climate Through Energy Innovation
Illahee Lecture Series
Thursday February 3rd
7 PM at the First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Avenue in Portland
Tickets here

February 3, 2011 Political scientist Roger Pielke maintains that we'll make better progress on climate if we focus on energy innovation. Pielke is Professor of Environmental Studies at University of Colorado, and has held leadership positions at NCAR, CIRES, and the Breakthrough Institute. He is also author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, and The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell you About Global Warming. More about Roger Pielke here and here.

The Trading Post

I am going ahead with the idea of facilitating barter exchanges between readers, chosing the old-school method in the interest of simplicity. And so, I invite you to use the "Remarks" section of this post for your wishlists and your lists of available items. I can't predict how useful this will be, but it's here for us all as a resource.

Some basic guidelines, if you will:

Please describe the items you have/ want in list form. They are easier to read that way.

Remember to include your contact info!

You do not need to post an equal number of "have" and "want" items. It's fine to post only one and not the other.

Monetary exchanges are fine, but please do not list selling prices here. If you are interested in an item and would like to buy it instead of trading for it, please contact the lister privately over email.

Not everything in your list needs to be bicycle-specific. For example: your "want" list can include bicycle components, but your "have" list can include vintage cameras.

Please do not reply to each other in the comments, but contact the lister directly if you have any questions for them. I will occasionally go through the comments to clean up clutter.

Post as often as you like, and feel free to delete your older comments if they contain outdated information.

I am not responsible for the comments posted by other readers, for any items offered by other readers, or for your interactions with other readers. Please use your judgment!

Quotable Quotes

I have a fear of being boring.
CHRISTIAN BALE

I've never met a genius. A genius to me is someone who does well at something he hates. Anybody can do well at something he loves - it's just a question of finding the subject.
CLINT EASTWOOD

I made a commitment to completely cut out drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened upon me - spiritually and financially.
DENZEL WASHINGTON

I hate working out. Because I work out for films now solely I come to associate it with work.
BRUCE WILLIS

I don't have any plugs or tucks but people do what they want. I look at it as mutilation.
JACK NICHOLSON

Greece and Rome



When an Olympic athlete, a cyclist, or a baseball player tests positive for performance enhancing drugs, it is a big scandal. It makes huge headlines. When a football player, a WWE wrestler, or a professional fighter is discovered to be on the juice, it is not nearly as scandalous. In fact, the fans of those sports could care less. Then, you have NASCAR where cheating is virtually admired. Why is there a difference? And what does it have to do about the fundamental nature of sports?

There are essentially two traditions in sports. The first tradition is the Greek tradition. The ancient Greeks started what were called the Olympic games because they were held in Olympus. Various city states would cease their warfare or whatnot and send their athletes to Olympus. The ancient Olympics were a combination of sport, religion, and art. There was some politics as well as since winning a competition brought great pride to the city-state much as it does to countries competing today. The ancient Olympic games began in 776 BC and continued until 393 AD, an impressive run.

The Romans had a sporting tradition as well, but it was much bloodier. Their tradition is marked by two locations--the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum. The Romans raced chariots at the Circus Maximus, and there were often spectacular crashes with charioteers getting fucked up or killed. You can watch Ben Hur to get the idea. The Colosseum was a huge arena where great spectacles and human suffering played a huge role. The most well known of these spectacles was gladiatorial combat where armed men would fight often to the death. Rome had smaller venues throughout their empire that were just like the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum.

The difference between the Greek and Roman traditions is evident. The Greeks were about virtue. They aspired to something nobler and higher. You can see this all throughout Greek culture. The Greeks had idealized statues showing perfect forms. They appealed to what was best in humanity.



The Romans were much cruder and realistic. You can see this in their statues as they portrayed their subject warts and all. Likewise, their sporting events were spectacular but appealed more to the visceral impulses than any sort of ideal. Where Greeks aspired to the laurel wreath, Romans just wanted their blood and guts.



In modern sports, we see both of those traditions alive and well. The modern Olympics, track and field, cycling, and baseball fall into the Greek tradition. Football, NASCAR, and MMA fall into the Roman tradition. This is why baseball fans were so shocked to discover their big names were not virtuous at all but were on the juice. Football fans and MMA enthusiasts probably wish their athletes were on steroids. For Greek tradition sports, discovering your heroes are cheaters is like finding out Santa Claus isn't real. For Roman tradition sports, finding out only increases the entertainment value. Baseball fans started tuning out their game when their steroids scandal broke. Lance Armstrong fans continue to be in heavy denial.

The fundamental nature of sports is an important issue to consider. Are sports a noble activity? Or are they simple entertainment? The reality is that it is entertainment. The sports as nobility thing ended the moment an athlete took a paycheck. This is why the Olympic games are drenched in doping. The Olympics are big business, but it is business based on a lie. The fans of those sports are awakening to the lie, and they are tuning out. The Romans had it right. They wanted their entertainment, and it wasn't pretty. But at least it was real.

The fans in the Greek tradition want more drug testing and all that. They are fooling themselves. This will never work. The fact that so many are doping and that the dopers stay one step ahead of testers reminds me of government efforts to fight alcohol during Prohibition and to fight drugs today. It is delusion and folly to think the testers will ever win this battle. The answer is to let doping happen. But to do this, the fans of those Greek tradition sports will have to become Roman in their thinking. They will have to accept sports as entertainment and not noble activity. If you're going to do that, why watch sprinters and baseball players when you can watch grown men in spectacle?

The evidence is in. The noble sports are sliding in attendance and ratings while the entertaining sports such as football, MMA, and NASCAR hold top or growing positions for the attention of male fans. Then, you have the in-between sports. Basketball is one of these sports. Seeing those dunks is spectacular entertainment, but the NBA has been sliding into oblivion ever since Michael Jordan left the game. This is because Jordan was a hero. Likewise, the NHL is a game of hard checks and even fights. But it has a tradition like baseball. Hockey can't make up its mind whether it wants to be noble or bloody.

Sports are entertainment. That is the bottom line. The Romans had it right. The people want to be amused. You can try and inspire them, but this is just so much bullshit. It is no coincidence that the Olympics combined sports with religion, politics, and art. This is because they are all bullshit. All of them leave you disappointed. Say what you will about the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum. When you went to those places, you were going to get a good show.

But fans in the Roman tradition can be betrayed as well. Professional wrestling is a spectacle, but it is fake. Likewise, MMA has taken over from boxing primarily because boxing had so many rigged fights. True fans want non-fiction not fiction. They can handle cheating just fine. They just can't abide fakery. Anything that leads to a predetermined outcome is fake for these people. It kills the suspense to realize the contest is not real.

Greek tradition sports could clean themselves up fairly quickly if they were willing to eliminate the money. But they aren't going to do this. As long as there is cash to be made, there will be doping. It is an unwinnable deal, and those fans face nothing but a future of disappointment. This is why I want Lance Armstrong to go down so badly because it will show what a myth that guy is.

If you want to be a sports fan, the answer should be clear to you. Go with football and MMA. Fuck baseball. Fuck heroes. Just get yourself some beer, some brats on the grill, and a comfy chair. Then watch the spectacle. It is the difference between watching a chick flick and watching a porno. Ulimately, you want to bust that nut. Likewise, sports is where you watch grown men suffer, hurt, and bleed. Can there be virtue there? Absolutely. There is toughness and endurance and courage. You can find things to admire in these anti-heroes. They ain't pretty, but they put on a hell of a show. They don't compete for the gods. They compete for you.

---

NOTES

Ancient Olympic Games

Circus Maximus

Colosseum

Gladiator

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dead Subjects



I read a bunch of stuff, and I have various interests. But some of my interests just aren't interesting anymore. This is because there is nothing new to add to them or to say about them. They haven't stopped being true, and I know they are interesting to those who are new to them. To me, they are simply dead subjects. Here is a list of them:

ATHEISM

I have been an atheist for ten years now. It took me awhile to adjust to reality, but I did. Now, being an atheist holds as much interest for me as being a believer in a flat earth. Most atheists of the evangelical persuasion get their jollies from debating with theists, but I don't really care. I spend no time on issues of metaphysics as Hume suggested.

MINIMALISM

This is something I have discussed before, and there is not much else to say when it comes to simplifying and living within your means. Basically, you decide against the creeping lifestyle inflation that comes with increasing income. That's it. I don't know how people can create entire blogs around this concept and keep them fresh. It is a lifestyle, but we must not confuse it for a life.

INDEXING

Index funds are simply part of a larger theme for me of knowing the role randomness plays in our lives. It is a settled issue for me, but the hard part is being average while some foolish risk taker is out there pulling down major cash. It takes a great deal of self-confidence to go against the masses. Eventually, you find vindication. But there's always a new crop of fools that come along. The difference for me now is that I waste no time trying to tell them any different.

LOVE

Everyone knows my viewpoints on romance. They are very dim. Love is nature's trick to make you reproduce. I remember how coming to this realization was a bit traumatic for me. Now, I don't even think about it anymore. I am so indifferent now that I don't even bother going out on dates. I remember telling my last girlfriend that she was going to be the last one for me. This is because I didn't care anymore. I knew it was bullshit. There's plenty of sex out there, but my enthusiasm for it has dimmed considerably. This is because a one nighter might turn into a relationship.

MAJOR SPORTS

Football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, or whatnot bore me now. I will have more on this in a future post, but I think the reason I have changed on this is because I don't see athletes as heroes anymore but as just entertainers. When you divorce the virtue from it, it is really suck ass entertainment. Toss in the gossip and the PEDs, and you might as well change the channel. As a friend once told me, if you have time to watch a game, then you have time to go for a run or hit the gym. Basically, you should be your own hero.

MUSIC

I have listened to all sorts of music in my life from experimental to classical to hip hop to jazz to traditional stuff. In the end, I listen to country and rock especially classic rock. I've tried to get into stuff like indie rock and Norwegian death metal with the Cookie Monster vocals. But it just sucks. I always come back to stuff like Dylan, the Stones, and Tim McGraw. I don't waste my time or money on musical explorations anymore. Most of the time, I just listen to the radio.

I do have new and continuing interests. I've learned a great deal about economics, and I want to continue in that vein. I'm also pursuing new interests in science, mathematics, history, and blue collar trades involving construction, engine repair, and metal fabrication. I have to have new subjects to replace the dead ones. I am always growing, learning, and exploring.

The Radio Cardiff Six Nations Preview Show 2011



Tune in this Tuesday from 7pm for our Six Nations Preview Show on 98.7FM.


With special studio guests Dafydd Pritchard and Will Bain we'll look ahead to this year's tournament and assess Wales' chances ahead of their opening clash with England at the Millennium Stadium this Friday night.


Contribute to the show by emailing us sports@radiocardiff.org or sending us a tweet @RadCardiffSport.


For more from Daf and Will follow their blog http://www.thexv.wordpress.com  or Twitter feed @TheXV following grassroots rugby in Cardiff.




Plus.......we'll have Simon's regular Ice Hockey update as the Cardiff Devils continue their Elite League campaign and our reaction to the big transfer deadline deals.


Get involved with the show:
Call - 02920 235 664
Text - 07728 758 759
Email - sports@radiocardiff.org
Twitter - @RadCardiffSport

Things You Will Never Hear


















"And the Halbergs goes to the Blackcaps"

I have seen the blackcaps get beaten by more, I have
seen the blackcaps go out to worse shots, I have seen us
go out for lower scores.

Never in my life following cricket have I seen a worse
run chase, what were the players thinking??
Did it come across on TV, all the people booing
oram, he was getting it from everybody?

Whos idea was it to put woodcook ahead
of Southee and Mills?

Most appalling run chase in history.
Thankyou, Oram, Southee and Mills for ruining my
saturday night.

This game also showed there is a hell of a difference
of being a good first class cricketer in NewZealand
and  being  a international player, the sad thing is the
pakis arent that great.

Will we win the world Cup, we don't need time to tell,
I can tell you now, we wont.

Family Hockey Night

The Northern KY Conquest Family Hockey Night 2011 was a lot of fun. Our Cincinnati Cyclones beat the South Carolina Stingrays 4-1. We had excellent seats: center left rows 4-7.

We were able to go down as a group to the Zamboni tunnel and watch as the Cyclones warmed up shooting goals. Quite a few came "right at us" and you could readily appreciate why the plexi-glass is so scratched. The boys loved it.

Also a small group of boys got to form a fan tunnel on the ice as the Cyclones took the ice. 

It was Military Appreciation Night so the Cyclones wore special Camo uniforms which were really cool.

We highly recommend a family activity like this for your group/team. It is a great team building-fun-social event.

For more info on Conquest click on the link http://www.conquestclubs.com/

Barter Economy

Some of my most interesting bicycle-related acquisitions have been through trades with others, and I find these barter exchanges to be great. Whether bicycle related or not, trades can work out nicely - with each party feeling as if they are getting something new and useful.

For instance, I received this vintage Ideale saddle in exchange for some vintage Brooks.

I received these beautiful dressguards in exchange for a spare saddlebag.

I even had some custom metalwork done in exchange for a basket. Other trades have included embroidery in exchange for a rear rack, collectible fountain pens in exchange for artwork, and products in exchange for photography.

A good place to start looking for bartering opportunities as far as bicycles go, is bikeforums. They've set up "For Trade" threads for different geographical regions, where you can list the items you have available and the items you are looking for. Here is the one for the Northeastern USA. I have been considering setting up something similar - but cannot think of a way to do it without it eating up too much of my time.

And while trades can be pre-determined and formal ("I'll give you my Item X in exchange for your Item Y"), they can also be a sort of reciprocal, whimsical gift-giving - like pen pals exchanging objects instead of letters: You send the person something you think they might like, and at some later point they do the same. There are no explicit arrangements or expectations, and that is the neat thing about it. I've had these types of exchanges with several bike people, and it's been really nice - my latest gift being the delightfully named "bike burrito."

These things have fascinated me for some time, so I was pretty happy to get one. It's called a "bike burrito" because - well, it folds up like a burrito.

...And unfolds to reveal compartments for your tools. (We all have different concepts of "tools!")

The "burrito" is held together by a toe-clip strap, which can be easily threaded through the rails under your saddle. With the "epic" winter we are having, it's safe to say that I won't be using it any time soon - but it deserves to be seen!

Connecting with other bicycle-loving people from around the world can be fun, and can lead to all sorts of exchanges you would not otherwise have. What are your thoughts on developing a system to facilitate this? Would you find it helpful? What features would be useful? Would simply using the comments section of a post be enough, or do you think it won't work without a message board? Ideas welcome!

LCCJ with 24kgs

Snatch 24kg: 5/5, 40/40

Lccj 2x20kg: 5

Lccj 2x24kg: 26/5min
Lccj 2x20kg: 35/5min

Stretching

This made me tired. Red wine yesterday might played in :-). I did not have much control over the number of reps in the lc, so with more luck than skill I ended up with the desired rpms.

Palms felt sore; guess I will go for jerks and only snatches with fleece gloves on Monday.

Following Boris' advise, I installed a new counter up to the left.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION

History has a way of happening and gradually then happening suddenly. From 9/11 to the housing bubble collapse, things happen rapidly, but they overlook the conditions that persisted slowly and quietly for years. This revolution is just like that.

Right now, the USA is in a bit of shit over this. This is because American foreign interventionism has led our political leaders to back Mubarak. The result is that the average Egyptian hates America. I shudder to think what lies on the other side of this.

I am like everyone else. I am watching as events unfold. The one thing we can learn from this is the stupidity of shutting down social media and the internet. That was an incredibly dumb move on the part of the Egyptian government. My advice to Mubarak is to negotiate a safe haven in some foreign country and get the fuck out.

2. VIRAL POSTS

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I was going to write a post that was going to touch a nerve and go viral. In this case, it was the triathlon post. The attention it has received has actually been quite small relative to the size of the internet. I would probably do better to get linked by a site like Instapundit. From past experience, I know this flurry of attention will be short lived, and I will go back to being a total nobody on the internet.

The one thing I have learned from this is that posting a lot of shit in a month will get you noticed simply as a result of the law of averages. It is the same thing I learned from meeting a lot of chicks or applying for a bunch of jobs. You spread your bets and let crazy shit happen. Of course, that crazy shit can also be bad, too.

I had the same thing happen before from the ultrarunner crowd when I reviewed the Badwater Ultramarathon DVD. Ironically, I have softened my stance considerably on those folks. I don't think they are that extreme though Badwater is pretty damn insane.

I have an incredibly thick skin, so I am simply amused at the anger and vitriol I have managed to stir up. I scored a direct hit on a group of people who never saw it coming. Vanity and narcissism are no substitutes for self-acceptance. This too shall pass.

3. WIKILEAKS

So far, the US Government can't find any link between Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. When you consider that Wikileaks is an electronic drop box, this makes sense. People have seen more on this than just one guy copying shit onto CDs. But that is all it is. As for the rape charges against Assange, I suspect they will be dropped at some point. Wikileaks is the new reality, and political leaders are adjusting. But looking at what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt, it behooves leaders to leave this shit alone. The internet is bigger than them, and it will swallow them whole.

4. OPENLEAKS

OpenLeaks is the creation of Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a WikiLeaks defector. Instead of being a publishing unit like Wikileaks is, OL simply acts as a middle man between leakers and established media. Will this new strategy work? I can't say. This is a period of evolution for media. But the one advantage of this approach is that it eliminates the editorial burden on the hackers. The downside is that the established media already gets info like this and sits on it. At least with Wikileaks, it stands a good chance of being published unedited. I see both organizations having the same goals but trying out different strategies. Which strategy will ultimately prevail is something I will have to wait and see about.

5. PIERS MORGAN

CNN's experiment in being the tabloid news channel is turning out to be a real dud. Piers Morgan is losing out to Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity. Why is this?

The public wants partisan news. Talk radio reflects this. The internet reflects this. The history of journalism is replete with examples of newspapers that took a certain editorial viewpoint. Is this the end of "objective" journalism? Probably so. Even libertarians are getting in on the act as they watch Fox Business News with Stossel and Napolitano.

CNN does have its bright spot in Anderson Cooper. I don't get Fox Business or MSNBC, and I don't watch Fox News. But I enjoy good journalism which is why I still read the Times and the Post and listen to NPR. CNN should explore this territory more, and they should try and get Dan Rather from whatever exile he is currently in. They should ditch Piers Morgan and make an offer to Charlie Rose. Quality journalism instead of popular journalism should be CNN's niche. But they won't go for it.

6. RON PAUL

I've been watching Ron Paul on the various programs, and he seems tired. They always ask him if he is going to run for POTUS again, and he seems very ambivalent about that prospect. When talking about the Tea Party, it is that same ambivalence. I don't see the same vigor or optimism he had when he ran in 2008. Then, he seemed surprised at the attention that he got. Now, he seems to understand it hasn't resulted in real change and probably won't. I suspect he will not run again. But he doesn't need to either.

FRIDAY

1. Revolution in Egypt! I don't know if the young people there want true reforms or the return of internet porn.

2. OK. I admit it. Triathlete chicks are kinda hot.



3. But triathlete dudes are still douchebags.



4. College students are registering record levels of stress. They have high tuition to pay. They have student loan debt that has fucked their entire futures. There are no high paying jobs waiting for them. And, the worst thing of all--contemplating learning a trade and doing real work for the rest of their lives.

5. I never knew Borat was a triathlete.



6. I asked my neighbor if he was a triathlete. He said that he was. I then told him to pedal his ass to the store to get me some more beer and cigarettes.

7. Actually, number 6 is bullshit. You can only carry two beers on a tri-bike. I sent him to the liquor store instead.

8. I think if Obama pulled the plug on Facebook and Twitter he would have a revolution on his hands, too.

9. Sarah Palin is still trying to figure out what Sputnik was. She still thinks it is the name of that monkey the Soviets sent up there. She just knows we don't need any more monkeys in space.

10. Charlie Sheen is in rehab. While there, he asked a triathlete if he would make a run to the liquor store for him.

Science Meets Politics


If you happen to teach science and policy, or you are a scientist interested in participating in the policy process or you are just curious about how experts participate in the political process, then you'll find this short 10 minute video of interest.

It shows a scientist, an agronomist, testifying before the Washington State Senate Environment, Water and Energy Committee.  He gives a short testimony, then gets some questions from the State Senators and the State Senators then get into a debate, with one ultimately walking out.

Here are some questions for discussion after you see the video:

The scientist claims to be "objective" and speaking for science.  What might this mean?

The policy makers appear to have no interest in his science, and focus on his legitimacy and thus credibility.  What is going on here?

What might the scientist have done differently?

What might the policy makers have done differently?

What does this say about the relationship of science and policy in a highly politicized context?

Blues side to face Ospreys confirmed

A young Cardiff Blues side has been selected to face the Ospreys on Saturday, 6.30pm kick off, in the LV=Cup

The Blues are currently their in their pool having lost to Bath away and drawn in Exeter at home, however, Blues Forwards Coach, Justin Burnell, sees Saturday’s game as chance for many of the Blues Academy players to display their rugby ability.

Speaking ahead of the match Burnell said, “The match is a massive opportunity for some of our youngsters to show what they are capable of, especially as we aim to move the region forward, bringing youngsters through into our senior squad.

“They have been training up at the Vale of Glamorgan training centre this week and I’ve been very impressed with a lot of the youngsters who are in our national under 20’s squad.”

“The likes of Cory Hill, Macauley Cook and Lewis Smout have huge potential. There are some very good youngsters coming up through our system, so we are very excited about that.”

“When you look at some of the players we have had in our Academy: Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts, Bradley Davies, you see a lot of similarities with players coming through, which is hugely encouraging.”

“With some players you can definitely see the potential at an early age and this match gives us the chance to see how they come through in the live environment.”

“At the moment in training they are doing everything in the right manner, but they will obviously be put under pressure in a game and we will see how they react.”

“Whether it be the Under 16’s, 18’s or 20’s squads any game which involves the Blues versus the Ospreys there’s sure to be a massive rivalry and rightly so.”

“One of the good things about Welsh rugby is the rivalry and we have really got to keep the traditional derbies going.”

“There’s also a lot of pride at stake.”

Junior tickets for the match are priced at only £1 making the match an attractive proposition for families. Family Tickets (two adults and two children) are priced at only £12 while adult tickets are £10 and student tickets only £5.

To get your tickets for the LV=Cup match to be played on Saturday 29 January, visit the Cardiff Blues website on www.cardiffblues.com/tickets or call 0845 345 1400

15 Dan Fish 14 Steve Taylor 13 Gavin Evans 12 Dafydd Hewitt (C) 11 Harry Robinson 10 Joe Griffin 9 Rhys Downes

8 Tom Brown 7 Josh Navidi 6 Luke Hamilton 5 Macauley Cook 4 Bryn Griffiths 3 Sam Hobbs 2 Kristian Dacey 1 Tom Davies

16 Rhys Williams 17 Lewis Smout 18 Will Griff John 19 Cory Hill 20 Owen Sheppard 21 Lewis Jones 22 Lewis Williams 23 James Loxton

Human Innovative Capacity Knows No Bounds

From Metro.co.uk:
The ultimate in fast food innovations, St Pauli have installed the model railway to serve supporters in their VIP section with freshly cooked sausages throughout the game.

The train runs every five minutes direct from the club kitchens to the VIP section - and is topped up with fresh porkers throughout each home match.

There's nothing better to wash down those dogs than a good pitcher of beer - so what could be more appropriate than individual pumps for each seat, AND a built-in flat screen TV for action replays?

How to Get to 80% "Clean Energy" by 2035

Motivated by Michael Levi at the CFR, I have put together a quick spreadsheet to allow me to do a bit of sensitivity analysis of what it would take for the US to get to 80% "clean energy" in its electricity supply by 2035, as proposed by President Obama in his State of the Union Speech earlier this week.

Here is what I did:

1. I started with the projections from the EIA to 2035 available here in XLS.
2. I then calculated the share of clean energy in 2011, assuming that natural gas gets a 50% credit for being clean.  That share is just under 44% (Nukes 21%, Renewable 13%, Gas 10%).
3. I then calculated how that share could be increased to 80% by 2035.

Here is what I found:

1. Coal pretty much has to go away.  Specifically, about 90% or more of coal energy would have to be replaced.
2. I first looked at replacing all the coal with gas, all else equal.  That gets the share of clean energy up to about 68%, a ways off of the target.
3. I then fiddled with the numbers to arrive at 80%.  One way to get there would be to increase the share of nukes to 43%, gas to 31% and renewables to 22% (Note that the EIA reference scenario -- BAU -- to 2035 has these shares at 17%, 21% and 17% respectively, for a share of 45% just about like today.)

What would this actually mean?

Increasing nuclear power in the EIA reference scenario from a 17% to 43% share of electricity implies, in round numbers, about 300 new nuclear power plants by 2035.***  If you do not like nuclear you can substitute wind turbines or solar thermal plants (or even reductions in electricity consumption) according to the data provided in The Climate Fix, Table 4.4.  The magnitude of the task is the same size, just expressed differently.

One nuclear plant worth of carbon-free energy every 30 days between now and 2035.  This does not even consider electrification of some fraction of the vehicle fleet -- another of President Obama's goals -- which presumably would add a not-insignificant amount to electricity demand.

Thus, I'd suggest that the President's clean energy goal is much more of the aspirational variety than a actual policy target expected to be hit precisely.

***[Math: (43/17)*898 (billion kilowatthours in 2035)/815 (bkWh in 2011) *109 (nuclear plants in 2011) = 304.16]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PRINT-Libertarianism from A to Z by Jeffrey Miron



Jeffrey Miron's Libertarianism from A to Z is a great primer for libertarians or anyone else inerested in the libertarian viewpoint. Covering a wide array of topics in alphabetical order, Miron lays out standard libertarian views on things like gun control, school choice, and the like. Long time libertarians won't find much of anything new here.

The one interesting thing I found in the book was Miron's discussion of consequentialist libertarianism and philosophical libertarianism. A consequentialist libertarian argues from a utilitarian and empirical point of view. What are the results of a particular policy? Where does it bring us? This is opposed to the philosophical or rights-based viewpoint arguing the moral case for libertarianism. One argues that libertarianism is the smart thing to do while the other argues that it is the right thing to do.

I consider myself a consequentialist. I try to use an empirical approach to things. I rely on facts. The problem with making the moral case is that opponents make the moral case for their side as well. For leftards, it is all about equality and social justice. For fasctards, it is all about maintaining social order. When philosophical libertarians enter the fray, they just toss out liberty as their preference. The result is that their case is no stronger than that of the other people at the table. The consequentialist prefers liberty but also shows how liberty works better at providing both equality and order than what the leftards and the fasctards are doing. These approaches are what have separated the libertarians of the Cato Institute/George Mason University/Chicago School/Reason Magazine bunch from both the Rothbardians/Austrians/Lew Rockwell/Mises Institute people and the Objectivists. It is the difference between science and philosophy.

I listen to both sides since I think they have interesting insights, but I tend to the consequentialist side. I am a minarchist. I don't see anarchy working better than limited government though it works better than tyranny. I'd rather live in Somalia than North Korea because I can get the hell out of Somalia. But empirically, limited government such as what we have had in the Western world has worked the best. The reason philosophical libertarians tend towards anarchism is because they are trying to be philosophically consistent. I think this is dumb. I don't argue like a lawyer. I argue like a scientist.

When you argue from the consequentialist viewpoint, you don't get called a "utopian" or a "loony" because arguing against you is arguing against reality. Your opponents end up looking like the loonies and the utopians then which is what they are. Miron's book gives you the facts you need to make the case.

Now, I am willing to compromise on issues. I think private roads are better than public roads, but I'm not going to stop driving on them. If the welfare state was just a provision against starvation and sleeping on the street, I could handle that. I'm not a Platonist yearning to live in Libertopia because I know it doesn't exist. But I believe that is the right direction based on history and the facts. Freedom works and works better than statism.

LAZ is a good volume to add to your library of liberty. You will find it a handy reference.

Stop, Look Around...

All the walking I've been doing lately on account of the weather has made me pay even closer attention to my surroundings than I do while cycling. Everything looks different in the snow - elegant and magical. The thin patch of woods near my house has turned into a majestic white forest worthy of a 19th century Scandinavian painting. It's as if the sky was squeezed straight out of a tube of cerulean blue and the austere vertical strokes of the trees were applied with a pallet knife. It's not my style, but I am certain this scene has been painted many times. It's archetypal.

Upon emerging from the pristine wonderland, I came face to face with this. Literally: It was located at face level, and in my willingness to submerge myself so fully in my daydream, I nearly walked into it.

The city is using excavators to facilitate snow removal, as the plows alone are not enough. The effect is interesting, making the neighbourhood look like an igloo construction zone. In order to clear the center of the roads, the excavator dumps more and more snow to the sides - creating monstrous, densely packed snowbanks that line the streets like the walls of some arctic city-state.

Walking on the sidewalk is a surreal experience. You are essentially in a tunnel - with buildings on one side, igloo wall on the other. Along some stretches, the snowbanks are taller than the average human height, so as a pedestrian I can only see the sidewalk in front of me and not the road to the side of me.

Those "Do Not Enter" and "Except Bicycles" signs are for a one-way side street that has a bike lane going in the direction against traffic. For most of last winter the lane looked like this. How cute that I complained about it then: This year it's been swallowed up by the snow banks entirely.

It is not uncommon to encounter bicycles "buried alive." There were actually three separate bicycles inside this snowbank.

Less common is the sight of a bicycle being ridden - but it happens, especially on the heavily salted main roads. Note how the yellow crosswalk sign, its reflection in the puddle, and the golden light of the setting sun play off the colours in the cyclist's knitted hat - all of it especially noticeable against the white, snowy backdrop. Somehow, everything seems to be reminding me of a painting these days. Certainly this person and his hat deserve to be painted.

It's been over a month and a half now without the car. We signed up for zipcar through the Co-Habitant's work, but have not used it yet. And ironically, the blizzards are making it easier to do without: With the roads as bad as they are, we wouldn't have been traveling to any photoshoots up North anyway, and so we don't feel as if not having our car is keeping us from accomplishing anything. We'll get the car fixed as it gets closer to Spring. But for now, it's been remarkably easy to just forget about that thing and for us both to get around entirely on foot and bike. And with so many snow days, I am rediscovering walking - which I appreciate for making me stop, look around, and see my neighborhood in a new light.

No Listen, No Money: Disenchanted Donor to UConn Athletics wants his $3 Million Back

Everyone knows that big money boosters influence athletic departments at big-time sports schools.

But what happens if a booster who gives a combined $7 million to a school feels as if his "suggestions" are being ignored by the school's athletic director?

Meet Robert Burton, a Greenwich CT-based printing industry executive who wants a $3 million donation returned from UConn. A leading reason for his demand is that he feels that he was denied an opportunity to comment on the school's football coaching search. He claims that he was blown off by the school's Athletic Director, Jeff Hathaway. Paul Caron of Tax Prof Blog has more and so does Dan Fitzgerald of Connecticut Sports Law.

I have 3 thoughts on this controversy:

1) To answer a question that some people are asking: unless Burton attached stipulations to his gift to the school, it's unlikely that he'll be able to get the money back. He probably already knows that. I suspect an alternate "victory" for him would be to embarrass the school and Athletic Director Hathaway, and to discourage other boosters and prospective boosters from contributing money to UConn (especially those boosters who would contribute with an expectation of gaining access in exchange).

2) Marc Isenberg had a good line about this dispute: "The unstated rules of boostering are now written."

3) While Burton is being criticized for claiming a bargained-for exchange between his donation and his ability to influence UConn athletics, and for trying to now take his gift back, I wonder if UConn and particularly Athletic Director Hathaway bear some responsibility, too.

After-all, if a school is going to accept an enormous gift from a donor whom the school presumably knows is only donating to have influence over the school's athletic program, then the school shouldn't later deny that donor a chance to share his thoughts. It wasn't like Burton was donating to help fund a new science building while having a passing interest in the sports program; he was donating to be a major player in UConn athletics. Don't take his money if that isn't going to happen.

Burton says in his letter that he wasn't looking for veto power over the hiring decision (which would have been an unreasonable request), only a chance to provide comments on the candidates. Would it have been that hard to let him comment and then give him the courtesy of listening?

Along those lines, isn't an informal duty of an athletic director to ensure that significant alums and boosters are treated well? It seems that if Hathaway had granted Burton a half hour meeting or even just a good phone conversation, it might have satisfied Burton's craving for influence, avoided this controversy, and preserved good relations with a generous donor.