"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Confidential Hate

Just because you two are in wheelchair bikes, doesn't mean you get to take up both lanes...


Once Again...

...as with the cover of the New Yorker, conservatives miss the point. (It was a shitty skit to begin with.)

Meanwhile, everyone's missing the real crime:

Sarah Palin hates polar bears...

Meanwhile, Knut's trainer is found dead.



Thursday Hate - "The Rules"

Yeah, "The Rules."


I have a problem with just one rule:

What is with the orthodoxy that the man must both lift the lid to piss, and put it back down when he's done?

But she isn't expected to lift it when she's done? Why is she so pissed when she goes to pee and sits on the rim? I'm somehow responsible for her not looking where she's sitting and getting the shock of cold porcelain on her delicate backside?

Where did this iniquity come from? What is the basis of its origin?

You'd think she'd just be happy enough with me putting the rim up in the first place so she - if she's not looking - only gets cold porcelain and not warm piss.

Help me out here.


Music Education Night: Symphonie Fantastique

As always...for Katy.

One of the most influential composers upon modern program music - otherwise known as "classical soundtracks" in it's most popular form - was Hector Berlioz (1803-69). He is most well known for the piece I will write about tonight, Symphonie Fantastique (1830). It is so famous, that even if you don't know it by name, you almost certainly will recognize at least part its very memorable melodies and romping bombast.

When it was contemporary, however, Symphonie Fantastique was infamous, and it composer was regarded at best as eccentric and at worst nearly insane. Berlioz was known for adding the most unorthodox instruments to the orchestra, for writing ensembles into existence too big for all but the largest halls, and as a massive egoist in love with his larger than life compositions. But Berlioz's legacy is an important one, just as great and perhaps longer lasting than that of even Beethoven or Mozart - not only did he play a major part in expanding the symphony orchestra as the ensemble we know today, but his ideas continue to shape popular classical music composition even today, music that is meant to tell a visual story as much as an aural one.

Symphonie Fantastique is a love story, written about and for a contemporary Shakespearan actress of the day named Harriet Smithson. Berlioz had fallen in love with her, more like an obsession actually, and composed the piece as an outlet for the frustration of his unanswered love letters. The piece was published with program notes to be read by the audience members at the performance. The music introduces the love interest as the main melodic idea, and then transforms it thematically throughout the entire piece.

Smithson and Berlioz did not actually meet until after she finally heard the piece in 1832 - when she realized she was the genesis. They were married shortly after, but divorced after 9 years.

The recording that I have supplied is actually not the definitive performance, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Baremboim, 1994. I recommend Chicago Symphony under Solti, 1972. A much more dynamic and passionate performance, with highly superior strings. Sorry for not providing this, but I only have it on LP. I myself performed this piece, on tuba with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in 1995 with my good friend Wade Rackley, also on tuba.

Reveries - Passions
The theme - idee fixe - is introduced immediately, and the lovelorn composer daydreams and muses about her upon first sight, in a slow and meandering adagio, that is expressed with hopeful and muted joy in the violins and horns, but is undercut with an ominous rumbling in the low strings.

Un Bal

The traditional waltz section - or filling the role of the scherzo that was very common in symphonies - further solidifies the visual nature of the piece. The composer has attended a ball and is surrounded by revelers, dancing bodies and rhythmic music, when suddenly he sees her, and all other sensory input stops as she occupies his complete attention - the flute and clarinet rise out of the strings with the already familiar melody.

Scene aux Champs
Our lovelorn hero is in a pastoral field among the sheep and shepherds - another common setting of the day - and sees his love. He calls out to her but she doesn't respond. He tries and tries to get her attention, but she only ignores, and walks off in the distance, leaving him beyond despondent, and suicidal.

Marche au Supplice
Most famously known as "The March to the Scaffold." Our story quickly takes a turn for the tragic. The hero has tried to kill himself by drinking poison, but only succeeds in putting himself into a deep sleep. He dreams that he has killed his love and has been sentenced to the guillotine. He marches along a parade route through screaming throngs of blood thirsty citizens, their voices rising up to life in the low brass. He walks solemnly up the steps, lays his head beneath the blade...yet as the steel glints, hovering above his neck, he has one last, beautiful memory of his love before his head goes bouncing into the basket, and the crowd roars it's approval as his blood sprays a gory red, catching the glaring sunlight.

Songe d'une Nuit du Sabbat
The rollicking finale that truly earned Berlioz his reputation, "The Dream of The Witch's Sabbath" takes us to Hell, where our man's love has transformed into a twisted demon, deformed into a playful, yet unsettling and grotesque version of the original melody, as first played very noticeably by the clarinet. Very importantly, listen to the sinister melody of the Dies Irae. With it, she rouses the witches, monsters, and skeletons (listen to the strings being played on the back of their bows for the creepy effect - a friend said it always reminded him of a swarm of cockroaches) to a wild and cavorting dance of carnal lust that finally collapses in a heap of exhaustion under its cacophonous weight.


Much Ado About Palin

Sarah Palin's interview on ABC with Charles Gibson has been generating a lot of huffing and puffing, and hemming and hawing from the Left and the Right this week.

On one side, Obama supporters are calling out that it displays Palin's obvious lack of knowledge and critical thinking on the National Security Issue, while the Republicans are calling the entire interview a snowjob and another typical display of the elitist mainstream media's liberal bias while being ignorant of the real issues itself.
It is embarrassing to have to spell this out, but for the record let me explain why Gov. Palin's answer to the "Bush Doctrine" question -- the only part of the recent interview I have yet seen over here in China -- implies a disqualifying lack of preparation for the job...
...wrote James Fallow on September 12th. He compared her to a non-sports-fan being asked a question about Brett Farve's new chances with his new team. That she lacked a "disturbing" amount of curiosity about the issue - it went beyond knowledge.

Charles Krauthhammer rails against Gibson, unsurprisingly, in this morning's Washington Post:
And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.

What I mean is, who was surprised by Sarah Palin's performance on ABC? And who would expect anything less from either side in their dissection of Palin? Democrats are going to paint her in the worst light possible while Republicans continue their slavish devotion to a choice they know is flawed and gimmicky. But no amount of arguing is going to change anyone's mind.

Yes, to anyone who is paying attention - and Republicans, stop deluding yourselves - Palin is an obviously under-qualified candidate who, according to Vegas oddsmakers, has a 1 in 3 chance of ascending to the White House before the end of McCains first term, should he be elected.

Yet, let's face it, the position itself traditionally has no significance at all beyond balancing out each respective nominee's shortcomings. Michael Dukakis needed a southerner. Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush all needed career insiders. So does Barack Obama. McCain is the career insider himself who needs shoring up on many issues that Republicans question him on - or to just distract from them all together.

Krauthhammer says Gibson doesn't understand what the Bush Doctrine is, either. That much is true, and Fallow certainly glossed over that fact. Yet, when Krauthhammer quotes Palin: "In what respect?" he paints a false picture of Palin's mindset. She certainly did have not a clue as to what Gibson was talking about. His implication that she was confused over which definition he was getting at is ludicrous. Nobody but Krauthammer would have been. Palin was just lost.

Most people haven't seen the interview for themselves and rely only on these biased interpretations of it to formulate a position on her appearance. Palin certainly didn't stumble over her words - she just repeated what she'd been coached to say. Gibson certainly didn't look down at her or sigh exasperatedly as a teacher would a student.

What was missed by both sides is that she didn't once utter an original thought during the entire process. And this should say much less about her than the people that picked her as McCain's running mate. And even worse is that kid gloves are even now being used on her, even in Gibson's interview, for fear of igniting an already smoldering backlash against women swing voters. Sarah Palin absolutely cannot hold her own and any hard questions would be beating up on her. Imagine the questions Hillary Clinton would be getting right now. And ost in all of this was Barack Obama's appearance on The O'Reilly Factor last week. O'Reilly grilled his ass relentlessly, and yet Obama still came out pretty OK. He has just as little experience yet he still gets hard questions.

However, on either side, all this talk about National Security still ends at dealing with Terrorism from a strictly reactionary point of view. Based on what the election donors are after, it's no wonder no one has anything original to say. Neither side are seriously addressing the affects of our global projection of power, both on our relationships abroad, and the drain and stress it's causing here at home. Education priorities are at rock bottom, our middle class is disappearing, there is a looming transportation crisis that everyone is ignoring, not to mention a growing religious-cultural gap that could break out into all out civil war within our own lifetime.

In all these interviews it's still black and white, easily digestible discussion and answers, and a complete avoidance of a real stand and hard, honest choices.

It's going to be very hard to even cast a vote this year. Sometimes I wonder if it's just high time we let the whole goddamn rotten structure just fall in upon itself, clean up, and start over.


The Hidden Side of Chicago's Bike Routes: The Graveyards of Clark Street

Across the street from Rainbo Gardens is St. Boniface Cemetery, a silent sentinel to all of its tumultuous changes since 1863 - originally far north of city limits. I can attest that a walk through it at midnight is enlightening to your sense of the breadth of Chicago's history. The 12 foot high brick walls can be a challenge to get over, but alcohol does help.

Pedal a half-mile down to Montrose and you will find the much more famous Graceland Cemetery, dedicated in 1860. The bodies of the original cemetery were moved from the earlier location along the lakefront in Lincoln Park, near where the Chicago Historical Society now stands. As the city grew more crowded, concerns of water-bourne diseases such as colera grew with it, and the cemetery was deemed a health hazard.

Graceland easily has more that its fair share of famous Chicagoans intered there, including Marshall Field, Tribune owner Col. Cyrus McCormick, and architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Sullivan, and Daniel Burnham, not mention George Pullman (right).

Across the street from Graceland's south end at Irving Park is Wunder's Cemetery, a much smaller Protestant burial ground. Even older than it's compatriots, Wunder's was founded in 1859; it's most striking feature is the caretaker's house at the corner of Irving Park and Clark Street. It is seperated from Jewish Graceland Cemetery by a chain link fence, just to the south.

Thursday (not so) Hate

Pieter Ombregt (left) died a year ago today, racing his bike. I hate that every time I hear the word, "Matteson," I am reminded of that day. I hate that every time I pass an unpadded obstacle along a race course, I am reminded of the way he died. I hate that everytime I stand, squinting into a fall's golden sunset with a strong breeze in my hair, I see Peter riding off the front and disappearing in the glare.

I hate the fact that I barely had a chance to really be a truly innocent participant in this sport before being initiated to the brutally frank fact that we risk it all for a very personal, irrelevant thrill.

But having known Pieter, for as brief a time as I did, showed me that we risk it all by walking out the door every morning, or with even less daring. And that any thrill can indeed be very personal, and therefore certainly relevant; when the alternative is getting lost amid the thrills which mean nothing to anyone else, least of all you. Whatever universe you choose to frame your life with, it's always a big place. And taking a risk, any risk at all, gives you cause and a reason to stand up and shout, to anyone who cares...


...win or lose. It matters that you did it. Pieter rode every race like it was his last. He taught me, along with that lesson that reality is always nearby, that it's worth almost anything to get as far from it as you can, if only for a couple of hours.

Pieter, most certainly, did that.



As you know, I had a court date today to testify against a road-rager I had a run-in with last month on my way home from work. Since the entire exchange was between the two of us - the police didn't see it, and therefore could only issue him a 3 foot violation - I would need to testify should this guy decide to plead not guilty.

I left work at noon today and rode over; door to door it took me about 25 minutes to get from Milwaukee and Sanders to Harms and Old Orchard. The security guard wasn't going to let me take my bag into the courthouse, so I had to put my work clothes back on over my kit, before going through the metal detector. Then, on the plus side, I'd be able to take them off, Superman-style, before jumping back on the bike!

It was a typical traffic court hearing, the majority of folks there to either pick up their licenses that had been held as bond, or to plead guilty. Cases from all over the North Shore: Glenview, Rolling Meadows, Northbrook, Skokie. Only two defendants plead not guilty, including my man, and a trial was held right there, on the spot.

The case before mine was an auto accident between two old men who both looked too palsied to be even driving. The defendant was turning left out of the northbound lane into a Dominick's grocery store at Glenview and plowed into the other guy who was turning right. Guilty.

I was then called up before the Man, along with Mr. Road Rager, and swore to tell the truth. I gave my side of the story to the prosecutor, up to when we walked into the Glenview Police Station at the corner of Lake and Shermer, and then Mr. Rager began talking...er, babbling, and seemingly threatened to go on until he was interrupted.

It was more of the same in his terrible English: "I horned him because he riding at rush hour! I ride bike! But not stupi' 'nough do that! Cars in left lane!" During his testimony, the officer who'd issued the ticket - the one who'd originally told him if he didn't shut up, he'd be arrested - whispered into the prosecutor's ear - I think I heard the word, "beligerent."

Suddenly however, I was shocked to hear the judge agree with the defendant - and began taking the discussion to the bad area that I should've been to the right of the white line on the shoulder. I paused to make sure I wasn't going to interrupt him, and added, "of course I was to the left of the white line, the shoulder is filled with rocks and glass and other debris." I was getting a pained look on my face and wanted to scream out, "Jesus - I wouldn't have even gotten him into the police station if that motherfucker hadn't stopped in the middle of the road to impede my progress! That counts for nothing?!" Except the judge only had the citation to go on and the officer didn't witness anything. It was then that the prosecutor sealed the deal:

"Your honor. The issue here isn't where Mr. Morrissey was permitted to ride his bicycle. I know this as I ride a bike to work as well, and I make sure I am aware of the laws. The law states that the cyclist can ride in the roadway and should stay as far to the right as is safe. The issue is that [the defendant] can't violate the right of way, or threaten the well being of a cyclist just because he is in the way. That is what the 3 foot passing ordinance was established for. [The defendant], rather than honking at him and passing dangerously close, should have slowed and yielded the right of way until it was safe to pass the cyclist - just as would be expected upon encountering any other other slower vehicle."

The judge just looked at him for a second and then said, "One hundred thirty dollars and supervision."

And there it was. Justice meted out, completely blind.

I could offer much commentary, as you are well aware, on people's selfish attitudes behind the wheel, and how a little horsepower between their legs will make anyone feel they are entitled to anything. But I'll just say this: cars don't kill people, people kill people. But a 3,000 pound vehicle makes it a hell of a lot easier.

While it is no excuse to pawn your own responsibility off on your car - it has a brake pedal and a steering wheel and it doesn't move itself - it does carry a hell of a lot more liability and therefore responsibility. It is just as dangerous as a gun. And I recognize that both are necessary evils. And that is what the laws are there for - to protect all of us from each other and ourselves.

I actually did feel a bit like Superman as took my street clothes back off...

...keeping up with the fight for your right...


Random Tuesday Thoughts

Katy gave me the OK to add the Caber Toss to my offseason cross-training routine, as long as I agreed to not wear any underwear my kilt.


The most dangerous part of my commute today was not the Milwaukee Elston interchange south of Devon. It was when the dude in the Honda Odyssey yapping on his cell phone blew a stop sign at 25 mph...in my office parking lot. If you know where I work this oughta make you sick.


That reminds me: my court date stemming from my chance encounter with Mr. Road Rage is tomorrow. 1:30 at the Skokie Court House, on Old Orchard, just east of Harms. It's a 3 Foot Rule ticket, but I'm hoping his argumentativeness pushes His Honor to charge him with more.


The middle of a bike path is not the best place for an occupied baby-stroller while you talk with a friend more than 20 feet away.


That reminds me: is it just the fact that I am riding the North Branch Trail a lot more these days - twice a week - that I am seeing what seems like 500% more deer, or are there really a lot more deer?


That reminds me: what is the story behind the green cherry tomato included with every Superdawg?


I guess I'm getting rid of more Today is the last day I will ever ride my old vintage steel...I heard a clicking noise coming from the headset. At a stoplight I looked down and the long crack that's opened up over the joint between the head- and top-tubes. My red and blue Cilo with the Stars & Stripes bar tape. Captain America.

You did well, Sir.



I returned to the corn fields of Utica, IL on Sunday with a new team and new expectations.

Saddled with an almost unbearable load of lack of confidence, I competed in the American Bicycle Racing 4-Man Team Trial last year in what was easily the hardest 90 minutes of my entire life. Blowing up at the start, I dug deeper than ever with teammates who refused to give up on me, and recovered to help bring the remaining three of us home with a respectable time.

Now I have a full season of coached training in my legs, and I have certainly proven my physical mettle this year, if not my mental. I've really been ramping up on the interval sessions these last three weeks, and I was confident I would be strong from the get-go. We'd had two practice sessions, once with all four of us, and going in we all knew technique and fluidity would be our biggest enemy.

The course had been shorted to about 30 miles just minutes before the scheduled start, due to lack of marshals and some gravel at the end of the planned 60K lollipop loop. We had to discuss a bit of tactics about how to deal with the wind: it would be tempting to really hammer it with the strong breeze behind us going out; we would need to temper our effort in order to save some gas for the crosswinds and the return which would take into the teeth of it for 5 miles to the line.

And it was tough to lay off. Without that much effort, past 29 mph we went onto an average speed of 31 for the first leg. At the right turn, we immediately had our first gap. Peter was back on the bike after having spent most of the summer recovering from a broken collar bone suffered after losing a wheel in a 180 degree turn. Also, as a dedicated TT-er, he is not as comfortable in packs as the three us are, to begin with. So being skittish (and we've all been there), he wasn't comfortable staying on his wheel.

But, being such a strong rider, he was in it until well past the turn around, even with all the wind he was constantly pushing. Although shortly after, he began missing the wheel worse and worse after pulls, and finally, when I had to move in ahead of him and burn it to catch the unexpectedly open second wheel that materialized after I pulled off, we made the decision to move on and keep pace without him.

Back into the crosswind was the last time I saw Peter until the finish. My strength began to become erratic; on some pulls I could stay out for a long time, others I could feel the red line approaching alarmingly fast. I was eating a lot more wind than the rest, going cave-man style. No aero-anything. With the late announcement of the event, I hadn't set up my bike, and didn't want to ride in a new position for a such a physical event at the last minute. And I guess pride got the better of me.

Over the last half, Jeff was a mean dog who'd broken his chain, inspired by a frightened mailman... 140 pounds of anger working over his compact crank like a crazed metalworker on monster, never-ending pulls. I had to call him off several times to save it for the head wind on the final leg. Jeremy was as dependable and solid as you'd expect for a triathlete who'd qualified for Nationals. His speed never wavered once on pulls that were as measured as a yard stick.

All of us barked orders and all of jumped without asking how high. The intensity burned and smoked, and after our final right turn into the headwind, the kindling burst into flames. The wind slowed us but we just worked harder. It was good we'd saved it because now we needed it.

It was swirling left and right. Just after we'd pull off into it, the direction would shift again. As the pain turned to agony over the last 3 miles , it was hard for any of us to stay on the wheel, let alone try to have to the mental capacity to find the sweet spot. Several times I thought I saw the finish line tent but it was only a mirage. Through the cloudy haze of pain I held just a little bit back, keeping that last little bit close until Jeff let loose with one last blast of rage and it was afterburner time.

We crossed the line in just under an hour and 12 minutes, and a 26.3 mile an hour average.

This event is always my favorite because it crystallizes all we've worked for over the course of the season and gives a chance to lay it down with teammates I've ridden with since snowy days before leaving for California.

Next year I want this team back. Peter just needs a bit more confidence with group riding, and if he still needs work, then we'll just send him out to pull us for the first half of the race.

Along with the apparent shift in the chilly air outside, it's transition time for me. Up ahead lies camping trips, visits with friends and family, and no cyclo-cross. Sorry, no offense. I owe it to Katy. She's come out and beat the cowbell at so many races this summer, I've got a lot to give back.

That's not to say I won't be headed to Montrose Harbor, with a flask in my pocket, for some snowball practice this winter.


Thursday Hate - Experience


That's the buzzword of this presidential contest. It has been from the beginning. It was first thrown around by Hillary Clinton in the direction of Barak Obama; then when the voters saw through her fake smiles and sense of entitlement, the supporters of John McCain took up the charge. But when McCain chose little known – and just as inexperienced – Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, everyone seemed to hold their breath while they waited to see who would blink first.

The Republicans revealed to the world their true feelings on the matter for just a few seconds before the masks came back on – twisted grimaces of too tight smiles spouting sycophantic support.

Now the argument over experience continues on, ad nauseum, over who has more. Never mind that each ticket is anchored by a senior senator, each with zero executive experience of his own. There's a reason why so many senators have lost the fight for the Oval Office. Their voting record is too easy a trail to track their beliefs and contradictions. It's why Barak Obama is running now, early on in his career. Governors can generally hide their partisanship by sticking to enforcing the law.

Barak Obama seems to think he's the second coming of Christ from Chicago's South Side, while John McCain is desperately trying to validate his life before finally succumbing to skin cancer, and when he does, it just might place the keys to this country into the hands of a book-burning panderer to evangelicals, a Nancy-Come-Lately who nearly fell into her politics career and in the span of less of than 4 years has managed to place herself under investigation from everything improper firings to misappropriation of state funds to redecorate her office.

So where are we? We're left with each side resorting to delivering pre-written, coached speeches filled with hollow punchlines, built to elicit hope-springs-eternal head nods from brainwashed, celebrity-drunk delegates just dead-certain that their candidate will make a difference….and preaching on political shows or shouting and patronizing friends and family (kinda like I'm doing right now), trying to somehow convince the other that their candidate is more qualified to lead an over-the-hill empire that is saddled with a debilitated military, hundreds of billions in bad debt, a rapidly shrinking middle class, and a coming all-out class war, if not straight-up revolution…all in a world where corporations have all the power and their reach of power extends far beyond national borders. Our politicians are at the mercy and the service of CEOs, who laugh at and take advantage of our outdated notions of nationalism and patriotism.

So enough about experience, please. Not one person on the ballot has it. It's about vision and character and the people behind the candidate – most importantly. And because of that, all this campaigning is nothing but entertainment. Vision comes from ideals, and if you haven't made up your mind at this point, you have no ideals. Swing voter my ass. I'd rather have you not vote at all.

Neither side of ballet will get us a real health care plan, or more importantly, make health care more affordable to everyone, and tax plans can be parsed so many different ways as to make them undifferential by time a group of CNN analysts gets through with them. So it comes down to these issues in my opinion:

o Your ideals are either to try to get corporate ambition out of politics, or to accept it and work with it.

o To use the American Military for national defense only, or to unapologetically project it's power to protect national (and corporate) interests worldwide at the expense of an entire generation.

o To try to move society forward to other forms of energy now, or to do the same thing, but not 'til we've extracted every last drop of profit from the ground – if you think off-shore drilling and ANWR are bad, just wait until they start lining up outside our national parks, and they will – and figured out how to get us to pay through the nose for all the new stuff too.

o To defend our right to bear arms outright, or to deal with gun violence more pragmatically (I've never fired a gun in my life – and while I believe the 2nd amendment is a good thing, I don't think there needs to be fully automatic assault rifle in every home).

o To understand that science and learning and great literature advance our society, no matter your personal feelings on its conclusions or content - or to cherry pick, censure, toss-out, and burn that which you deem contrary to your preexisting beliefs. (Of course I am referring to the creationism debate…I have no problem teaching creationism in school - just so long as it's in a philosophy or theology classroom. Politicians are always bemoaning about how we're falling behind in math and science, yet half of them then want to replace science with a theory that's not based on science at all – in any way, shape, or form. How can you teach the principals of the scientific method, and then expect that lesson to hold up to, "Have Faith that God made it." Faith begins where knowledge ends. If you think Darwinism is just as biased, fine, that's your opinion. Offer up a valid scientific alternative, not more faith.)

Generally speaking, Republicans are against legislation dealing with Global Warming, Climate Change, whatever you want to call it. They've been denying it for 20 years, but now that it's obvious, it's just "cycles." What kind of cycles, they can't tell you, but it's definitely "natural." Except somebody forget to tell that John McCain. He's a supporter of real limits on polluters and believes that man-made climate change is real. Yet did he pick a like-minded candidate? Hardly. Palin has sued the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to remove Polar Bears from the endangered species list for using the "faulty science" of global warming to support it.

John McCain is a progressive on many immigration issues, much to the chagrin of the Republican base. Did he pick a like-minded candidate? He picked a running-mate so far removed from the issue she won't even be asked anything about it. So much for many of the constituents of his border state.

John McCain also has a lower rating – a big zero, a donut - from pro-choice groups, lower than G. W. Bush himself. Here finally he seems to have picked a like-minded candidate. An abstinence-only and pro-life preacher, as well, except her own daughter didn't get the message – a daughter now forced, yes forced (come on, really?), to marry the poor hick to satisfy the ideals of an entire political establishment. Who wants to bet on this marriage's chances for happiness?

So there you have it. I may be a complete cynic, but I've made up my mind, and so have you. It's not hard to deduce that I'm voting Democratic in this election. It's the stronger ticket that meets my ideals. Ask yourself if your choice does the same.


Sarah Pale & Tall

No, I don't know every single person who lives in Alaska, but since I seem to be the de facto Man-on-the-Street for firsthand information on Sarah Palin, I will submit.

A gross miscalcuation of the American swing voter, at the least.

Her only previous chief executive experience is as two-time mayor of Wasilla, a little bedroom community north of Anchorage that primily serves as a place to get an Egg McMuffin before heading north for hunting or fishing. She also served less than six months as the State's Oil and Gas Commissioner before getting elected Governor on a wave of discomfort from four years earlier when the incument, Frank Murkowski, appointmented his daughter to take over his vacated U.S. Senate seat.

A self-described "hockey-mom," she does all the things Alaskans are "supposed" to do: i.e. fish, hunt, eat mooseburgers, own a shit-ton of guns, and not give a rat's-ass "how they do it it New York."

Given that she's strongly anti-choice and pro-gun, one has to wonder what was going on in John McCain's head when he chose her. The only possible way she balances out his ticket is that she has a vagina. And even that may not be enough for the suburban moms who feel cheated and bruised after coming out on the losing end of Obama's victory over Clinton. Being a woman isn't enough. They still want someone to support their views, and Palin is a political first-grader compared with Clinton's experience.

And with the electorate at large, McCain has virtually castrated himself (no pun intended), taking away his credibility to hit Obama with the experience charge, as no doubt that barrel will be leveled straight back at him and Sarah Palin.

John's apparent obsession with beauty queens is worse than previously realized.

She is in the middle of an ethics probe for allegedly trying to have her former brother-in-law fired from the State Troopers for divorcing her sister, and is also being investigated for involving her husband in official state affairs, as well. It's probably just as good she only served her six months as Oil and Gas Commissioner. The amount of influence over the state goverment by the energy industry is only beginning to be exposed, as evidenced by the coming downfall of Sen. Ted Stevens, and revelations that said industry practically built his house.

As I sat last night watching Gov. Palin get lobbed softball after softball by some heavily made-up CNN interviewer, she mostly addressed Alaska's relevance to the energy crisis, which she seemed to speak to fairly credibly. This can be the only strategic angle McCain may have correctly played in picking her. But listening to her answer only incensed me more about the inanity of more of the same, of more drilling.

The fact of the matter is this: it will take years for any oil to be flowing from new wells - in ANWR or off-shore. Five at least. And at best, the cost of energy will be lowered by a few cents per gallon only. That's not taking into the account the growth of consumption that will more than offset these gains in production.

McCain loves to make fun of Obama for calling attention to tire-pressure. That, however, is the most telling difference between these two candidates. They scream about an energy crisis, and demand more supply, yet nothing is spoken about changing our habits. Another fact is that if just a few conservation efforts went into effect, such as lowering the national speed limit or removing gas-guzzling vehicles from the personal-use market to improve the national fuel economy above a mere 25 mpg, we would eliminate our need for any foreign oil.

Yet, as I ride down the bike lane past blocks and blocks of gridlocked traffic, noting each SUV with a single person in it, I realize we won't change a thing about our habits without trying to kill each other first.

And so we continue to debate whether to drill or not while we drive ourselves to the gym to run on a treadmill or to our weight-watchers support group to cry to one another about how we can't even find the time to exercise or the willpower not to eat that entire pizza.

And the oil industry will continue to grease our politicians to further open up more and more protected lands for drilling, ostensibly to wean us off foreign oil. That of course, is a pipe dream, but their potential profits are certainly real.

And for that, I curse Bill Clinton.

By designating ANWR a national monument he served a shallow goal to create difference between the two parties for short-term gain, yet has set the table for a dangerous precedent for the long-term future.

ANWR is a red herring by itself. The gains to be realized are minimal, yet at the same time, so will be the impact. That is one thing I will give the oil industry. The regulation of drillingin the state has honed their footprint to just a shallow depression in Prudoe Bay. And it is not as though the snowmobile-driving, rifle-toting natives that inhabit the area are some idylic representation of a paradise soon-to-be-lost.

Yet, in the pursuit of profit, going into ANWR - now a regretably protected area - sets a precedent for invading far more important lands. Where will it stop? They'll just say, "you let us into ANWR? Why not here?"

Now, I must defend ANWR, as much as it pains me (that in itself the place doesn't really matter - are you planning a visit there anytime soon?), in order to defen the line and keep those drills and pumps out of Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite...

So don't be suprised as McCain and Palin try to make this the central tenet of their platform, as it will be the only thing they will be able to speak to with any authority, so as to give the allusion that Palin has some sort of authority, at all.