Saturday, April 30, 2011

Surly Progress and a Couple of Glitches

We are nearly done building up the Co-Habitant's Surly Cross Check, and here is an update on the progress:

As mentioned previously, we got this frame to build up as a fun off-road bike. We already had the wheelset, Fat Frank tires, handlebars, saddle, pedals, and some other components, making the remaining build fairly easy and financially feasible.

Among the new components we bought were the Velo Orange threadless headset and stem. Though we do not plan to transition to threadless stems, they do make life easier in some respects - such as making it possible to remove the handlebars without redoing the bar tape and lever placement. And as far as threadless stems go, the VO is rather nice looking.

The brass bell is mounted on one of the spacers, which mechanic Jim tapped for us when we were picking up the frame from Harris Cyclery.

The handlebars are only temporarily yellow - Once we shellac them, they will turn caramel to match the saddle. But the bicycle does look kind of cute with them as they are, like an enormous children's toy. The "maiden voyage" was on Easter Sunday, and the colour scheme was certainly appropriate.

We also bought these Velo Orange Grand Cru MK2 cantilever brakes, which I think are just beautiful. Unfortunately, after riding with them for 27 miles the Co-Habitant is not sure whether he is happy with their functionality. In his opinion they do not perform as well as the Tektro cantilever brakes I have on my Rivendell - so he is not sure what to do. It is not a safety issue, since the VO cantis still outperform the old centerpulls he has been using on his Motobecane for the past two years. But he doesn't want to feel as if he is sacrificing performance for looks or "vintageyness," and he thinks that this may be the case here. Has anybody else tried these?

Similarly, he has mixed feelings about the VO metallic braided housing. While beautiful, the brake housing is very stiff and has considerably more friction than the Jagwire we are accustomed to using. I asked about this on bikeforums, and apparently stiffness is a known trait of this particular housing - which is why some avoid it, and others use it only with vintage non-aero brake levers. I wish we had known that before buying and installing the stuff. But now that it's already done, we are trying to determine whether it will perhaps become less stiff over time. Is that a possibility, or just wishful thinking?

The final disappointment is with the fenders, or lack thereof. We had initially ordered the 700Cx60mm Berthoud fenders, which, by all accounts and calculations should have been a perfect fit. The first problem was that the fenders arrived damaged: a crushed box, courtesy of UPS. We filed a damage report and will be returning them, with the hope that the seller will be fully reimbursed. But when examining the fenders, it also seemed quite apparent to us that even had they been intact, they would not fit. In fact, we are genuinely wondering whether the set we received was mislabeled, because they simply don't look like they can clear the 50mm tire.  Now we are confused as to whether to ask for an exchange, or simply return them and try the SKS. The Co-Habitant does not like SKS fenders - but then he was not too happy with the quality of the Berthouds either (what we could see of it based on the undamaged parts) - so we are sort of at an impasse on this one.

These glitches aside, we are extremely pleased with the new Surly Cross Check. It took us only one night to put it together, and in that sense a new frame is much easier to work with than an old one. By contrast, we constantly run into unexpected problems when building up vintage frames, which delays those builds by weeks and sometimes months (this is the case with my give-away touring bike, but more on that later). With the Surly, everything came together as expected, with no installation problems.

On its first ride, the Cross Check performed better than the Co-Habitant expected. He anticipated that it would be more comfortable, but slower than his vintage Motobecane roadbike. Instead, it is more comfortable and faster. He does not feel that the frame is too stiff, as some report, which can of course be due to his size and weight. And he definitely does not feel that the bike is in any way sluggish. As his riding partner, I have to agree: He is faster on the Surly than on the Motobecane. Hmm. We are eager to get the brakes and fenders issue resolved, so that he can ride it more - but so far he is impressed.

Peter Gleick Responds

Peter Gleick has graciously sent me for posting a response to my critique of his Huffington Post column.  Here is Peter's response, and below that you will find my rejoinder.  Thanks Peter!
My opening paragraph is not claiming attribution, but that the extreme events of the past week must remind us that the climate is worsening. I think that is undeniable. But moreover, the difficulty in attribution is not the same as proof there is no connection. Indeed, I think it likely that every single climatic event we see today is, to some growing but unquantified degree, influenced by the changing climate -- this is the classic attribution problem. Just as you might (and indeed I might) reject any definitive statement about attributing an effect of climate change on these recent events, I (and I would hope YOU) would reject any definitive statement claiming there is NO effect. As the good NY Times piece on this pointed out, we don't know enough about the dynamics, and the model resolutions are not fine enough to test.

My comment about deaths and destruction was not specific to tornadoes, but to climatic extremes overall, globally. Read the whole piece carefully. And it refers to what I believe is an inevitable growing (not declining) risk from these climatic extremes, which include floods, droughts, sea level rise, hurricanes, etc.

Here is a good example of the misrepresentations of deniers like Morano (in which camp I do NOT put you, of course): We see strawman arguments making fun of any reference to tsunamis, as though any climate scientist argues a connection between climate change and frequency of tsunamis. But there IS a connection: not of attribution, but of consequences. Deniers conveniently (for them if not for society) ignore the consequences of two similar-sized 20-foot tsunamis (for example), but one with a foot-higher sea level, hitting a 20.5 foot tsunami wall. In the first case, nothing; in the second case, disaster. That's the reality of future climate change and the important distinction related to threshhold events.

But I was also shocked at what I consider a gross misuse by you of the tornado death graphic at the very top of your blog, as though that graph was relevant to climatic trends. The historical number of deaths reflects not just tornado frequency and intensity, but location, population dynamics and trends, advanced early warning technology and experience, housing construction trends, and many other factors completely unrelated to climate. It is perfectly plausible to have a clear worsening climate signal and a trend of deaths going in the other direction. Your use of the graph was inappropriate and unsupportable, though it has certainly been adopted by the denier community.

[Finally, for the inevitable complaint about my use of the term "denier," I use it for those who use it to describe themselves, and if you want plenty of examples, I've got them.]
Pielke's rejoinder:
Thanks, Peter.  Here are a few reactions to your response.

1. You seem to want things both ways. You write that the tornadoes this week are a "reminder" that "our climate is worsening" which will lead to more "death, injury, and destruction."  Now you say that you are "not claiming attribution" but then maintain that "every single event" is influenced by climate change. I am sure that I am not alone in reading your commentary as making an explicit link between this week's tornadoes and human-caused climate change.

2. If you invoke tornadoes and climate change in the immediate aftermath of >300 deaths writing "we're affecting the climate; in turn, that will affect the weather; and that, in turn, will affect humans: with death, injury, and destruction" then you should expect people to interpret your post exactly as I have. A broader focus on deaths from extreme weather events around the world also has no scientific basis at this time for asserting a connection to human-caused climate change in any of these phenomena (e.g., PDF).  If you really want to defeat "the deniers" then my advice is to refrain from giving them such easy targets to shoot down.

3. At no point did I suggest or imply that a graph of loss of life from tornadoes can be used to say anything about human-caused climate change, much less "deny" it. If you are familiar with my work at all (and I assume that you are) then you will know that I have repeatedly argued that you cannot use trends in loss of life (much less the loss of life in one day) to say anything about climate trends or causality of those trends, as you do in your piece.  If you want to say something about climate trends, then look first at climate data and not messy impact data -- and here is what NOAA/NCDC says about trends in the strongest tornadoes that cause >70% of deaths in the US.
Of course we need to be careful interpreting such trends because tornado data is problematic for various reasons, which makes it very difficult to argue that human-caused climate change is making tornadoes worse. Remember that the IPCC defines climate change as a change in the statistics of weather over 30-50 years and longer. For extremes, rare by definition, such trend detection will all but certainly require much longer time periods.

I appreciate your engagement.

GPP-ditch & snatches

WKC-standard, 33mm handle diameter
Snatch 32kg: 3/3, 13L/22R, 15L/18R

Friday night and Saturday morning I dug a 18meter ditch for my mother. In one end, there was a lot of rocks so it got really tired - excellent training. My hands were trembling today.

Feeling worn out physically, I wanted just a short handlebell session so I decided to make another try for the Wild Bill virtual 32kg snatch competition. Result is ok for being me and a personal record. 22 reps right hand was a surprise. Left lags behind.

You can see the strange problem I have with snatches that suddenly turns to swings around rep 5 and 12 left side. That issue happens with 12kg and 24kg as well, so it is not the weight. It is unsettling and disturbes my focus.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects


Kate and William tie the knot after seven years. From everything I have read of them, they seem like a down-to-earth couple. I was really impressed that William asked that people make charitable donations to his foundation instead of buying expensive wedding gifts. These two are total class unlike that aging fop Prince Charles.

Weddings are for women, and I am a bit sickened by all the attention the females give to this spectacle. They spend all their time comparing this one to the wedding of Princess Diana without noting the irony of it. Women focus more on the ceremony than the actual marriage which in the case of Charles and Diana was a total disaster. They do much the same with their own marriages as if the fairy tale is all that matters. Utter fucking stupidity.

The bottom line is that I am not a monarchist, and I think the people of England should turn the Queen out it into the street. But at least there is one good thing I can say about the old bag. She is powerless which is what all heads of state should be.


Obama releases the long form. Conspiracy theorists claim it is fake. This only shows that evidence is never sufficient for the nutjobs unless it supports the conclusion they have already drawn.


A Fed chairman has to do PR now. And who can we credit for this new openness at the central bank? Ron Paul, of course.


Obama calls for an end to oil subsidies. I am with him totally on this one. But he still sucks cock.

Doug, nice but dim ...

Brennan and his biggest fan, Doug.

What a lovely day it was today. It's always a huge relief to see a bit of sunshine, especially after the amount of rain that we have had fall in the past week or so. Karen came down for a wee ride on Brennan today and my friend Caroline visited for the afternoon and took the opportunity to take Meg for a spin. I love watching my friends ride my horses - it's almost as much fun as riding them myself!

I managed to get the camera stuck on manual focus when I was taking these pix and only sorted it out toward the end of the ride so not very many photos of Brennan and Karen this time around.

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Column: Eighth Circuit grants temporary stay -- NFL Lockout is Back On

Here's my new SI column on tonight's big news from the Eighth Circuit: Judge Nelson's preliminary injunction order has been temporarily stayed and the tea leaves suggest the order will be made permanent. 

SWALEC Finals Preview

SWALEC Cup Final: Aberavon v Pontypridd
Aberavon face Pontypridd in the SWALEC Cup Final on Monday looking to upset Ponty’s charge for a domestic double this season.
Pontypridd have already clinched top place in the Principality Premiership, earning them a play-off final spot and are looking to put last week’s disappointment in the British & Irish Cup behind them, by lifting the SWALEC Cup this weekend.
SWALEC Finals day at the Millennium Stadium is a familiar outing for the Ponty faithful, who will be making the short trip into the Welsh capital for the fourth time in six years.
Ponty didn’t have it all their own way on route to the final but deserved a little luck according to Adam Thomas.
“We had a little bit of luck coming through, but winning becomes a bit of a habit and I think that helped us through,” he said.
“We had won 21 games on the bounce until Saturday (defeat to Bristol in the British & Irish Cup) so it has been a bit of a shock but we have to put things right and the boys will want to show what they can do on Monday.”
Aberavon made it through to the final following victories over Llandovery and Cardiff in the semi and quarter finals respectively.
It will be the third time the two sides have met this season and it was Pontypridd who took the honours on the previous two occasions.
The league fixtures ended in 32 v 21 and 40 v 22 victories for Ponty but SWALEC finals day is a one off occasion and previous results will mean little according to Aberavon captain Chris Davies.
“Cup rugby is completely different to the league,” he said.
“Ponty have obviously done really well to be where they are and they have beat us twice this season.
“But I really don’t think that will count for much on the day. Cup rugby is a whole different game.
“We have had a tough run to get to the final, but in this sort of competition you know you have to play the best teams along the way, we are all just looking forward to Monday and what is going to be a really close game.”

SWALEC Plate: Glynneath v Ammanford
Ammanford go in search of their second SWALEC Plate title in two years on Monday when they meet Glynneath in this year’s final at the Millennium Stadium.
Mark Jones led his side to a 46 v 20 victory over Risca two years ago and will once again lead Ammanford hoping for a repeat performance on this bank holiday weekend.
“It is really exciting to be going back,” said Jones.
“We were fortunate to get here two years ago and win, but there are a lot of new faces in the side now so it’s going to be a big day for them.
“Leading the team out at the greatest stadium in the world is a fantastic honor and it was an emotional day for me.
“I have told the new boys this year to make sure they sit back and take it all in. It’s a day you will always remember and everything goes by so fast.
Ammanford reached the final following a 58 v 26 victory over Gorseinon in the last-four while their opponents, Glynneath beat Tondu 16 v 3 in their semi-final.
Glynneath play their league rugby a division below Ammanford but captain Dale Newell believes even though their opponents may go into the game asfavourites, Glynneath need to focus on their own performance.
“We have worked really hard so to get here is really well deserved,” he said.
“They will go into the game as favourites, they have been here before and are top of the league above us.
“But we know we have the resources to win and we simply have to go out onto the pitch and play our own brand of rugby.
“We have played some good rugby on the way to the final and it’s a fantastic feeling knowing you are going to be playing in the national stadium.”

SWALEC Bowl Final: Maesteg Harlequins v Senghenydd
Table topping duo Maesteg Harlequins and Senghenydd meet in the SWALEC Bowl final at the Millennium Stadium on Monday with both sides looking to complete the double this season.
Maesteg Harlequins are currently unbeaten at the helm of SWALEC League Four South West and face Senghenydd who top SWALEC League Four East, who themselves have eighteen wins to their name this season.
Maesteg Harlequins came out on top when the two sides met recently but backs coach Robbie Morris is not taking anything for granted and is only too aware the threat Senghenydd pose.
“The game against them recently was very physical and really tough,” he said.
“We know what they bring to the table and they are a big physical team.
“It’s a great feeling looking forward to the final and it is starting to feel real now. We just can’t wait for the whole town to get behind us and have a great day out.”
For Senghenydd the final is the biggest day in the club’s history according to head coach, former Caerphilly hooker Chris Ferris.
“There’s a huge interest in Senghennydd,” he said.
“It’s the biggest game of the club’s history and we’re all looking forward to the final.

“We’ll go into the match knowing how good they are as they beat us recently in the Silver Ball. We lost that 25-12 and know we will have to play extremely well to come away with a win as they play a good game of rugby.”

Tickets will be available to buy on Monday at the Millennium Stadium from Gate 3 from 10am – tickets £10 adult, £5 concessions.


The WRU has confirmed major changes to the Principality Premiership Division of the game in Wales which will be introduced from the start of the 2012/13 season.
Detailed plans for the reforms have been considered and approved by the full WRU Board in a meeting at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday, April 28.
The proposals had earlier been approved in principle by the Premiership clubs and other rugby stakeholders.
The changes will reform the Principality Premiership from 14 to 10 teams chosen on the basis of set criteria.
A Premier Division clubs proposal to introduce the reforms at the start of the 2011/12 season was rejected by the WRU Board as too soon.
Clubs qualifying for the Premiership at the end of the current season will have until May 22 to inform the WRU that they wish to be considered as one of the ten.
They will have to qualify for an A licence based on criteria, sign a Participation Agreement and achieve sufficient meritocracy based on their league results across the past six seasons to earn a place.
Also at the start of season 2012/13 the four teams relegated from the division will move into a newly formed National Champions League.
The identity of the ten teams which will form the ten club Premiership will be decided by the end of August 2011 but the WRU will not reveal the identities of the clubs until the end of December 2011.
Below the new National Championship League the existing SWALEC Division One East and Division one West will continue in their present form.
A new competition will also be organised involving the bottom four clubs in the new Premiership Division and the top four clubs from the Champions League. The schedule for this completion will be announced later.
The reform of the Premier Division has been put in place to ensure the sustainability of the league going forward and the quality of play in the semi-professional game in Wales.
The reforms are as a result of a review which began last Autumn and have already been considered and approved by the union’s regulatory and game policy committees, the WRU Executive, representatives of the National Management Team and the four Regional Organisations along with their representative body Regional Rugby Wales.
The review looked at funding, player numbers and quality along with competition structures.
WRU Head of Rugby, Joe Lydon, said: “These reforms have now been confirmed and we will now need to work even harder to form a strong future for this level of rugby in Wales.
“These are radical changes and as such were never going to be simple to achieve however it was important that they were agreed in totality and that the fundamental aims of the reforms have been recognised by all involved.
“The new formation of Premiership and National Champions League structures will ensure that the quality of rugby on show continues to improve and the funding available is best utilised.
“Our review clearly identified that the agreed role and purpose of the Premiership Division is yet to be fully realised but these reforms now mean that the level of funding to individual Premier clubs will be improved and as a result will assist the plans across the newly reformed division with regard to sustainability and development.
“The creation of a new National Champions League offers an exciting new level of rugby for both players and supporters to enjoy. This new league will form the top strata of the community game in Wales.
“The ten team Premiership will be able to flourish as an entity and will I am sure now help to underpin the player development models in conjunction with our regional partners and hopefully on into the senior national squad..
The Chairman of the Premier Division clubs, Chris Clarke, of Cross Keys said: “Of course there are clubs which will be bitterly disappointed at losing their Premiership status but we have to be realistic and make tough decisions in the interests of Welsh rugby.
“We will all play our roles in ensuring the Premiership Division can now grasp this opportunity to improve standards.
“There are big changes ahead to achieve these reforms and we must work together to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.
“The possibility of reform has been a matter of debate for some considerable time so now is the time for those discussions to turn into reality.”
Clubs seeking to be one of the ten remaining Principality Premiership teams will now be able to apply for the new status.
Any of the 14 clubs which qualify for the current Premiership for the start of season 2011/12 will be able to apply to become one of the ten.
The new Premiership clubs will all sign a Participation Agreement and Rugby Charter which will safeguard rugby, player welfare and the commercial strategies of all the teams involved.
The clubs demoted from the current Premiership will receive parachute payments for the first two years they are in the new Champions League.
Eighteen months after the launch of the new structure new applications for A licences will be considered by the WRU. If there are successful applications beyond the existing ten clubs membership of the top division will be on merit as well as criteria.
Under the plan each of the four regional organisations will be aligned to a minimum of two and a maximum of four Premiership Division teams.
WRU Chairman David Pickering hailed the changes as an important series of reforms which will help the game achieve a sustainable future in Wales.
He said: “These reforms will create a Premier Division which is fit for purpose and in good shape to deliver quality players into the Regional structure in Wales.
“This has been a difficult but necessary process and I applaud the good grace with which the clubs and the WRU Board have delivered these changes.
“Now we will all have to work hard to ensure the reforms are put in place properly within a truly transparent process.”
For further information, contact WRU Head of Communications John Williams tel 07824 357083 or WRU Communications Manager Liz Jones tel 07736 056669

Bill Hooke on Tornadoes

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The brilliant guest post below comes from Bill Hooke, Director of the American Meteorological Society's Policy Program, who first published it on his blog, Living on the Real World on April 23. Bill is a long-time friend, colleague and mentor.  This post, and his blog, deserves a broad readership. H/T: JG
Guessing Games (remember Battleship?), Tornadoes, and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

Today [April 23] St. Louis suffers, but breathes a sigh of relief. Last night a storm moving through the area spawned high winds, hail, and one or (possibly) more tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes and hit the main terminal building of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, badly damaging the roof, and scattering glass throughout the structure. As of this morning, the airport remains closed indefinitely, with officials saying it will take days to put the facilities to rights. Miraculously, though several people were injured, no one was killed. Sounds trite, but it could have been worse.

Across the nation, the catastrophe is but the most recent of this spring. Recall that the United States is really the tornado capital of the world; only 10% of tornadoes occur anywhere else around the globe, and they’re the weaker ones. And this year, tornadoes have been in our news for weeks.

Tornadoes present a unique challenge to the public – that would be the some 200 million of us who live in harm’s way – to policymakers, and to hazards managers. Think about it. The strongest tornadoes pack winds approaching 300 miles per hour. That’s twice the wind speed that you see in the category-5 hurricanes. And the force goes as the square of the wind speed, meaning the greatest tornadic winds pack four times the wallop.

In principle, we could design structures that would survive such power. In fact, armies did, in World War, to protect gun emplacements from artillery shells. They called them pillboxes. Much of the structure lay below grade. Any view was afforded through narrow slits. Glass? You’ve got to be kidding.

If tornadoes were ubiquitous, and present all the time, and if despite such continuous violence, the human race had developed to its present point, we would live this way. But each year’s tornado tracks cover only a small area. [Brace yourself, a bit of arithmetic coming up!] Sticking to round numbers, let’s say we have 1000 tornadoes a year here. Let’s go a little further, and figure that for each one, there’s a swath of damage maybe ¼ mile wide, but 4 miles long. This is probably an over-estimate for the smaller, more common ones; but an underestimate for the bigger ones. So that’s one square mile of damage for each tornado. For the whole year? Maybe 1000 square miles of damage. Picture that as a square roughly 30 miles on a side…and now compare that with the damage swath for a single hurricane, making landfall. There an area maybe 30-50 miles wide, maybe much more, is affected, and the storm penetrates many miles inland.

So the area likely to be damaged by all the tornadoes of a single year might be comparable to the area of property loss affected by a single hurricane.

Now meteorologists are no different from your doctor or your stock broker. We all say, “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Actual results may vary.” But you get the general idea.

Now let’s compare the 1000 square miles damaged each year, first with the 2 million square miles of U.S. land in tornado-risk areas. Any particular point (a home, or a building)? Maybe only one in 2000 is hit in any given year. That means (pointy-headed statistical alert) that your house has a 50-50 chance of being hit over a 1300-year period. And even if my back-of-the-envelope calculation is off by, say, a factor of four (quite likely, by the way), the risk of the tornado hitting your actual house might be as low as say once in 300 or so years. Seems like a long time, maybe.

And that’s why we really don’t design homes, even in tornado-prone areas, to survive a direct tornado hit. However, in Oklahoma, the odds of being hit are higher. And people in Oklahoma know this. What to do? One strategy? Tornado shelters, below ground, outside the home (remember Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz?). They look rather like those World War II pillboxes. Of course, it’s not that easy to install them properly in clay soils, and when unused, they become habitat for insects and snakes, etc. Some prefer a suggestion put forth by Ernst Kiesling, who proposed houses be constructed with an reinforced interior safe room.

Now let’s think about urban areas, versus individual homes. In the United States, about 2% of the land area is today considered urban. But this percentage has been growing at a rate of about 10% per decade – maybe doubling since the end of World War II. So back then, if one percent of the land was urban, maybe we could expect 10 tornadoes a year on average to hit heavily populated areas. But going forward, we can expect that figure to be 20 tornadoes or so. And, as we continue to concentrate our population, the chances for a truly catastrophic tornado event inexorably mount.

In a word: tornadoes hitting downtown areas in the past? Rare – almost unheard of. But tornadoes hitting downtown areas in the future? Increasingly common.

It’s time to start planning and building awareness of such risks, and developing plans. Evacuating urban buildings? Problematic. Opportunities to shelter-in-place? Minimal. To work through a strategy providing for safety in the face of this threat will require the best minds in both the private and public sector. And it ought to start now.

A final note on airports. These by themselves are an even small fraction of the national real estate than the urban areas in which they’re embedded, right? But on May 5th 1995 a line of thunderstorms producing softball-sized hail went over Dallas-Fort Worth Airport at a time when American Airlines was conducting a hub operation. The hail caught ten percent of American’s entire fleet on the ground. All those planes were grounded for several days while they were inspected. Some required considerable maintenance and were idled for a longer period. Just sixteen years later, another airport has been hit. An example – only one – of our increasing vulnerability to small-scale, violent weather.

Do you remember that old pencil-and-graph-paper game (or more current electronic versions) you played called “Battleship?”

You’d pencil in a fleet of warships at different locations on the gridded paper (say letters along one side and numbered across the page). You and your opponent would then take turns trying to “sink” the opponent’s ships, by guessing their coordinates and “shooting” at those locations? Once you’d hit every square occupied by a ship, that ship was sunk and could no longer fire back. Sink all your opponents ships and you won. [Maybe you had more of a life. But my brother and I would play this.]

Anyway, with our urbanized populations and critical infrastructure, we’re playing “Battleship” with the Earth on which we live.

Only in this Real World, it’s always Earth’s turn.

Are You a Carrot or a Tea Bag?

Dean Hood, Head Football Coach at Eastern Kentucky University, told me a story once that really struck me ... a story that I think every coach and every parent should share with their kids ... better than share ... physically demonstrate with this simple experiment that creates a pretty instant visual ...

Dean tells this story to his players every year. We have "adopted" it in our coaches manual as well.

When Coach Hood was the defensive coordinator at Wake Forrest Alphonso Smith was one of his cornerbacks. In 2009 he was drafted in the 2nd round (37th pick) by the Denver Broncos ... he now plays for the Detroit Lions.

On draft day, Alphonso called Coach Hood ... "Coach, tell me the story of the carrot and the tea bag again. I'm feeling the boiling water here at the draft coach ... the league and all ... I know the story, I just want to hear you tell it again."

We all remember a good story.

Take two boiling pots of water.

Into one drop a carrot and then into the other drop a tea bag.

The carrot goes in straight and sturdy; it has been well raised. But over time, after it hits the heat and pressure of the boiling water, it becomes soft and pliable and will bend in any direction you choose to bend it. Or it just becomes mush.

The tea bag is totally different from the carrot. When it hits the water it almost immediately changes the water. By adding heat and pressure, the tea bag changes the environment into something much better.
The boiling water represents the environment we are placed in ... 

Do we let the environment change us in a negative way? (Carrot)
Do we change the environment around us in a positive way? (Tea Bag)

So I ask you:

Which do you want to be? A Carrot or a Tea Bag?

Being a Tea Bag takes sacrifice. The tea bag must “give of itself” in order to change the water.


Well done to them for creating NZ sporting history,  a total team
effort everybody involved should stand proud, and so should the


Thursday, April 28, 2011

On Weddings and Bicycles

[image via BEG Bicycles]

We are going to a wedding this weekend, where I don't expect to encounter any bicycles. But increasingly, bicycles and weddings are becoming an iconic combination - seen on wedding photographer and bicycle manufacturer websites alike. What is it about weddings and bicycles? There is, of course, the ever-popular Daisy Bell song, which keeps the association alive. Plus, the start of "cycling season" corresponds with the start of "wedding season." And while I put these in quotation marks, because both getting married and riding a bicycle are things that can be done year-round, any wedding photographer and bicycle shop owner will tell you that they get most of their business in April through October. Spring symbolises renewal, optimism, and a fresh start - which is appealing to cyclists and newlyweds alike. 

[image via Retrovelo and Velorution]

Would you believe that in 2010 I received half a dozen emails from readers asking for bicycle suggestions for their weddings? One couple was looking specifically for a vintage tandem, others were hoping to find matching cruisers, and one inquiry came from a wedding planner who was looking to rent several dozen bicycles, so that the entire wedding party could ride them. A wedding peloton? Would love to see that. I even know of a couple who are planning to purchase a black roadster and a cream lady's roadster from the same manufacturer. They will ride them for the first time at the wedding, then continue to use them for everyday transportation. I think that's an exceptionally cute idea - but then I love "his and hers" bicycles.

Last May, I tried my hand at professional wedding photography. It was a large wedding, but I would be working with two other photographers, so how difficult could it be? Well, oh my goodness! Without exaggeration, I was on my feet from 12:00 noon until 12:00 midnight with a 15 minute break for dinner. By the end, I was dehydrated, delirious, could hardly see straight and nearly sprained my wrists from holding up the heavy camera with enormous telephoto lens and flash unit. Things were spilled on me and my toes were stepped on. I dealt with drunken guests. I dealt with screaming children. I dealt with drunken guests holding screaming children... In short, yikes. The photos came out well, but I learned that I am not a wedding photographer - at least not of the sort of large and tightly choreographed weddings that have been popular in the US over the last couple of decades.

[image via Sheldon Brown]

But an interesting trend I observe, is that over the past years there has been a move away from the exuberant, stressful weddings and toward something simpler, more spontaneous and more tranquil. To some extent, I am sure this is due to the economy. But I also think that the trend reflects a change in priorities: It's the same desire for the simpler, the more natural, and the more genuine that we see across a wide range of lifestyle choices, from food selection, to interior design and home decor, to transportation. This May, an acquaintance of mine will be getting married and I happily agreed to be the photographer. It will be a tiny, unscripted ceremony involving a tandem bicycle, and I can't wait.

Tomorrow in Boston: A Discussion on NFL Labor Negotiations

My Vermont Law School colleague and good friend Professor Sean Nolon, who is Director of the Dispute Resolution Center at our school, and I will give a joint presentation the NFL labor crisis tomorrow at the Boston office of Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas.  While the event is primarily geared for Vermont Law School alumns, please contact me if you would like to attend as I can secure you an invitation.

You are cordially invited to a
Boston Vermont Law School Alumni Association
Brown Bag Lunch
NFL Labor Negotiations
with guest speakers
VLS Professors Sean Nolon and Michael McCann
Friday, April 29, 2011
at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP
125 High Street
Oliver Street Tower, 16th Floor
Boston, MA
or 802-831-1347
Please remember to RSVP so that we can add your name to the list for security clearance at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas.

164 Chelsea Street, PO Box 96 | South Royalton, VT 05068 US

Weather is Not Climate Unless People Die

UPDATE: At Dot Earth,Andy Revkin has collected a great set of expert perspectives on this event.

UPDATE #2: Subsequent to this post Gleick has added a new parenthetical to his post, that says the opposite of his first paragraph: "More extreme and violent climate is a direct consequence of human-caused climate change (whether or not we can determine if these particular tornado outbreaks were caused or worsened by climate change)." 

Peter Gleick is only the most recent climate scientist to try to exploit extreme weather for political gain, writing at The Huffington Post:
Violent tornadoes throughout the southeastern U.S. must be a front-page reminder that no matter how successful climate deniers are in confusing the public or delaying action on climate change in Congress or globally, the science is clear: Our climate is worsening. . .

In the climate community, we call this "loading the dice." Rolling loaded dice weighted toward more extreme and energetic weather means more death and destruction.
You can see in the graph above that there is no upwards trend in US tornado deaths, 1940-2010 (PDF).  This year's very active season and tragic loss of life won't alter that conclusion.  Actually there is a sharp downwards trend during a period when US population grew a great deal (consider this graph from Harold Brooks for a longer term perspective UPDATE: See below for this graph through 2010).  There is obviously no evidence of "more death and destruction."  On the lack of trends in destruction see this paper.

On the significance of yesterday's tragic tornado outbreak, consider this perspective from NOAA:
What's the risk of another super-outbreak like April 3-4, 1974? It's rare; but we don't know how rare, because an outbreak like that has only happened once since tornado records have been kept. There is no way to know if the odds are one in every 50 years, 10 years or 1,000 years, since we just do not have the long climatology of reasonably accurate tornado numbers to use. So the bigger the outbreaks, the less we can reliably judge their potential to recur.
Gleick's column is all the more ironic for this statement:
Climate deniers who have stymied action in Congress and confused the public -- like the tobacco industry did before them -- need to be held accountable for their systematic misrepresentation of the science, their misuse and falsification of data, and their trickery.
Obviously, it is not just climate deniers who are engaged in misrepresentation and trickery. Here is what Gleick wrote just a few months ago:
While the public may not fully understand the difference between climate and weather, or understand how the world could be warming while it's cold outside, most well-known climate deniers fully understand these distinctions -- they just choose to ignore them in order to make false arguments to and score points with the public and gullible policymakers. Cherry-picking selected data that supports a particular point (i.e., it's cold today), while hiding or ignoring more data that points in exactly the opposite direction (i.e., global average temperatures are rising), is bad science and it leads to bad policy. Just last week Glenn Beck pointed to a snowstorm in Minneapolis as proof that global warming isn't happening. He knows better, but his audience may not.
Well said Peter.

UPDATE: Here is a graph of US tornado deaths 1875-2010, data courtesy of Harold Brooks, NOAA (Thanks Harold!):

NFL Prizes Leadership and Character in Draft

Character plays such a huge role in the draft because we have young 20 year olds coming into 3 windfalls all at the same time:

1. Instant large sum of money
2. Instant and constant fame
3. Considerable amount of free time

Unless you have developed the personal conviction to stay true to your principles AND you have surrounded yourself with good men who mentor you ... things can go downhill very, very fast.

Do you value character as much as the Chiefs GM?
Chiefs prize leadership and character in draft

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - If there was an NFL record for acquiring the most leadership in the shortest time, it probably would belong to Kansas City.

A year ago, six of the seven players Scott Pioli selected in his second draft as Chiefs general manager were college team captains. From safety Eric Berry in round one to linebacker Cameron Sheffield in round five, Pioli focused on athletes whose on-the-field achievements were heavily garnished with loyalty, character and class.

Berry, the Tennessee All-American and No. 5 pick overall, used to stay late after practice to help clean helmets. Third-round guard Jon Asamoah won the Big Ten's medal of honor for being both a scholar and an athlete.

Impressed but a bit skeptical, many fans wondered if Pioli had gone a bit overboard. Sure, character's key if you're collecting Boy Scout merit badges or helping old ladies cross the street.

But could these choir boys play?

The answer, at least last season, was yes. Except for Sheffield, who had a season-ending injury in August, every one of Pioli's reputable rookies played a significant role in a franchise-record six-game improvement that included an AFC West title.

Pioli is certain that wasn't a coincidence. He may value player character as much as any GM in the NFL.

Most observers agree the Chiefs, with the 21st overall pick Thursday night, probably will be looking at wide receivers, offensive linemen and linebackers. A nose tackle is also on their wish list.

And so is character.

Reminder: SLA and Sullivan and Worcester Panel tonight

If you're in the Boston and are looking for a timely sports law discussion - it should be fun and I strongly suspect the NFL legal chaos will work itself into the discussion:

The Sports Lawyers Association and Sullivan & Worcester LLP present

Boom Goes The Dynamite! Top Sports Transactions of 2010
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Program: 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Reception: 6:30 pm- 7:30 pm
Sullivan & Worcester LLP
One Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109

The Sports Lawyers Association and Sullivan & Worcester LLP invite you to attend a panel discussion on the top sports transactions of 2010, including the sale of the Golden State Warriors, the Texas Rangers and the acquisition of Liverpool FC.


Please RSVP by April 22. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Katie Potter at 617.338.2923 or

Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues Preview - Blues make one change for Rodney Parade match

Dan Fish will play at Fullback for the Blues when they take on the Dragons on Friday 29 April, 4.05pm kick off, in the crucial Magners League match

Fish comes in at Fullback with Chris Czekaj moving to the Wing in place of the Leigh Halfpenny who picked up and ankle injury in the win over Treviso. Halfpenny is expected to miss the remaining matches of the regular season.

The Blues travel to Rodney Parade knowing that a victory would guarantee them a top four finish; deny Scarlets a Play-Off spot and end Ospreys hopes of retaining their title. Any other result would see the make up of the remaining three Play-Off places go down to the last round of games.

The Blues require a win by a margin of more than nine points and also obtain a try bonus point if they are to displace Leinster in 2nd place in the league table going into the last round of fixtures.

The Blues have lost just once on the road in the competition since December: 13-32 at Ulster on 25 February and have won their last eight clashes with Dragons since the Men from Gwent were victorious 14-13 at Rodney Parade on 27 December 2006.

Newport Gwent Dragons’ two game winning run in the Magners League came to a halt against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday. Dragons have lost just one of their last seven league matches played at Rodney Parade since September: 16-26 to Leinster on 27 March.

The Dragons may no longer be able to make the Magners League Play-Offs themselves, but they hold the destiny of the other Welsh Regions in their hands, as the play both the third and fourth placed teams, Cardiff Blues and Ulster, before the end of the season, and the results of those matches will have an impact on Scarlets and Ospreys chances of claiming a top four spot.

Speaking ahead of the match, Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby, David Young, said,
“The Dragons try to play a more expansive game than maybe they have done previously but we have also got to respect the ball and not get turned over. That will be huge for us.”

“They have a tremendous attitude and really work for each other and we’ve got to match that.”

“We have to match their hunger and desire, but I believe we have the quality, which I think will be the difference. However, we can’t underestimate how important attitude is.”

“We’ve won three more games that the other teams fighting for the play off places, which is great, but we would like to win with more style.”

“The performances aren’t what I would like them to be, but we have had the results which is the most important thing.”

Cardiff Blues 15 Dan Fish 14 Chris Czekaj 13 Casey Laulala 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Tom James 10 Dan Parks 9 Richie Rees

8 Xavier Rush 7 Sam Warburton / Ben White 6 Michael Paterson 5 Paul Tito (c) 4 Bradley Davies 3 Taufa’ao Filise 2 Gareth Williams 1 John Yapp

16 Rhys Williams 17 Sam Hobbs 18 Scott Andrews 19 Deiniol Jones 20 Ma’ama Molitika 21 Lloyd Williams 22 Ceri Sweeney 23 Dafydd Hewitt

Andries Pretorius - Knee
Leigh Halfpenny - Ankle
Richard Mustoe - Groin
T Rhys Thomas – Hip
Ben Blair - Knee
James Down - Foot
Gethin Jenkins – Toe
Tom Davies – Calf

Minimalism Is Not Optional

I watch with some amusement and incredulity at Barack Obama and the debate over the budget deficit. What blows my mind isn't the debate over what to cut. It is Obama's dismissive words and attitudes about the whole affair. For Obama, it seems that cutting the budget is simply an option, and he has chosen not to do it. But cutting the budget isn't an option anymore than choosing not to get cancer. Reality has a nasty habit of having the last word on everything. President Obama and others in government are under a delusion.

This same sort of delusion exists among the rest of the public not just in regard to government spending but also their own lifestyles. We know these people. These are the ones with mountains of debt. All their credit cards are maxed out. They drive new and expensive cars they can't afford. They struggle to make the payments on a McMansion. They own a Jet Ski, a boat, and a motorcycle. But "own" is not quite precise since they are making payments on these items, too. As they struggle to get by, you suggest something like getting rid of the Jet Ski. Then, they say something like this, "I love my Jet Ski. I just couldn't live without it."

For the Jet Ski lover, no argument will work. There will have to be missed payments, repossession, and foreclosure. Until it all falls to pieces, reason will not work. Only reality and the consequences can shake these people out of their delusion. Trust me, I have had this conversation with many different people, and it is always the same. They believe they can continue to live beyond their means forever. My minimalist lifestyle is simply an "option."

I have been turning this over in my head this week, and I have reached the startling but sound conclusion that minimalism is not optional. Minimalism is essential. Minimalism is not merely a lifestyle choice, but the only lifestyle choice that works. Everything else is a delusion. It is people trying to pull off a balancing act with an anvil in one hand and an anchor in the other.

I have never been into the Jet Ski lifestyle. Part of it was lack of interest on my part, but the other part is the simple fact that I can't afford this crap. I have enough cash on hand presently to go buy one of these things, but the reason I have the cash is because I don't go around buying Jet Skis or any other consumerist crap. But if I buy a Jet Ski, I will also need to rent space to store it or move into a house with a garage. But for the cost of the rental space, I can rent a Jet Ski, ride it the two or three times it takes to get over the thrill of it, and turn it back in. Jet Skis are really boring. The thrill of one comes from owning one and inspiring the envy of your friends and neighbors.

The reason minimalism is not optional but essential has to do with the issue of sustainability. The environmentalists have taken over this word to some degree with doomsday predictions concerning global warming, peak oil, and the rest. I tend to be dismissive of these predictions because they almost always turn out wrong going back to Malthus. I just focus on the practical realities of the limits on time, money, and energy. I don't recycle, but I do shop at the thrift store and eschew the SUV. I try not to be wasteful because it helps me. I'm not nearly as concerned about the planet. In the long run, Earth will be swallowed in our expanding sun as it goes through its lifecycle. Separating my garbage is not going to change this.

Defying the limits on time, money, and energy is not sustainable. You can spend more money, but this will require you to work more. Working more takes more time which means less time to spend with the things you spent the money on. Work also takes your energy, so by the time the weekend comes around, the warrior in you opts to sleep in. People aren't enjoying a lifestyle so much as building a collection of stuff they don't have the time or energy to enjoy.

It is easy to pick on the Big Spenders, but time is as big a deal as money. I am very guilty on this front. I don't manage my time very well, and this leads to really bad habits like multitasking, eating in the car, eating at the desk, eating fast food, neglecting chores, etc. I compile ambitious To Do lists, and I get a lot done. But what I do and what I write down to do are vastly different. This leads to massive frustration and misallocation of time. When it comes to time, minimalism is not optional. It is essential. Choose the important things to do and eliminate everything else.

Energy is the other big one. Because people spend money and need more time to make money and more time to enjoy the things they spent the money on, they decide to cut back on sleep. They burn the candle at both ends. Then, they fall asleep at the wheel of their SUV flipping it and the Jet Ski they were hauling into the ditch. This is what happens when you spend too much, do too much, and sleep too little. The upside of this situation is you can let the repo man figure out how to get your shit out of that ditch.

The maximalist lifestyle isn't sustainable. There is no balance there. You can push it for a long time, but it leads to failure. Forced austerity sucks because reality makes your decisions for you. Minimalism is simply voluntary austerity. It is choosing simplicity while it is still a choice. But whether it is forced or voluntary, people end up better off for it. Minimalism takes the weight off of you. It lets you be free again.

There are only two kinds of people. You have minimalists, and you have future minimalists. You have those who embrace the lifestyle, and you have those who throw in the towel on their maximalist lifestyle. Success as defined by the wider culture is seeing how long you can maintain the delusion. How long can you defy reality? Even rich celebrities get smacked down by reality.

Sustainability is the key, and this is what minimalism gives you. It allows you to live in balance with reality. It forces you not to try and have more and do more but to enjoy less and do better with what you have. This is the only right way to live. Anything else is living in defiance of reality, and reality always wins. ALWAYS.


I'm tired.

Classic Song

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Column: Judge Nelson Denies NFL Stay. What's Next?

Judge Susan Nelson. Do NFL owners now regret Judge David Doty's removal?

Judge Nelson says no stay for NFL, so the NFL is -- quite reluctantly and perhaps temporarily -- back in business. Here's my new SI 10-point column on what that means for the league and players.  Here's an excerpt:
4. So what would you recommend the NFL do?

First, NFL teams should re-open business without any physical or other obstructions to players. A court has told the league to resume operations. It should do just that and not pull any gimmicks. It may be an awkward time for teams and players, but only if they let it be.

Second, the NFL should -- for the time being -- not employ a salary cap, meaning teams should be able to sign free agents without restriction. Teams would still be deterred in their spending because a new CBA will eventually be reached and it will contain a salary cap -- no team wants to be way over the cap when the new CBA is put in place.

Third, teams should remove franchise tag designations and other restrictions on players' free agency rights. History should convince the league of this point: the NFL has lost antitrust cases involving unilaterally imposed restrictions on movement of free agents between teams. Judge Nelson notably stipulated that teams are not obligated to sign free agents. In one respect, that stipulation benefits teams since they cannot be alleged to have engaged in a group boycott under federal antitrust law by not signing free agents. But as a matter of practice, the stipulation may not prove meaningful: teams may not be legally obligated to sign free agents, but if they don't, their competitors will.  . . .