"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



This article by Steven Calabresi got me thinking today. It's an examination of Obama's past comments on his criteria for selecting judges.

I don't think it's too off base, really...nothing atypical for a right-leaning publication. Especially when viewed in light of the very real possibility that Congress could be more than two-thirds Democrat come January, as well. Obama's comments do reflect a troubling bent, one that flies the face of the entire concept of the judicial check and of democratic reason.

However, Calabresi is a bit inflated and hysterical in his analysis of some equally typical Democratic rhetoric, for several reasons.

First, again, this is pretty standard Democratic rhetoric. Stuff that people, who've endured eight years of Bush and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Enron, Guantanamo Bay, The Patriot Act, etc. want to hear. It differentiates, it takes a stand...and a lot of people have been saying things like it ever since Bush and Cheney came into office on a platform of deregulation and unilateralism. The little guy has gotten the shaft for the last eight years, and the guy running against Bush's legacy is going to exploit that.

But the fact is Obama, and his fellow Democrats - any politicians - are still beholden to lobbyists and corporate donors, as well as their constituents. Obama certainly isn't going return Welfare - not less than 15 years after Clinton practically abolished it. The country has undeniably moved to the moved rightward - right center is the new center. Much as a real move around Roe v Wade would galvinaze the pro-choice crowd, if Obama tries to make real steps toward renewing Welfare and the independents who put him in office would send him packing in 2012.

And really, when in history hasn't a presidential candidate caused consternation about his potential judicial picks? It's inherent in the two party system, especially in times of crisis - the consequences seem that much more dire. In the 1930s, Republicans thought the world was ending when Roosevelt was elected. We certainly persevered throughout that time. The expansion of American power and foreign policy weight had a much greater effect on our world fortunes.

Indeed, we all recall how much debate went on over Bush's potential picks during the 2000 election. Yet, the damage his presidency caused did not come from that constitutional power at all. Instead, it came from powers he gave himself not imagined by the constitution at all: further eroding Congress' war-declaration powers, as well as legalizing torture and domestic wiretapping.

That is why I am willing to look past Barack Obama's disconcerting criteria for picking judges. It's just talk, and presidents always select judges based on their how their records meshes with their own ideology. The checks and balances in the system, and his accountability to the voters, will counterbalance his views and keep our judicial system impartial.

It is Obama's commitment to rebuilding our domestic agenda - education and healthcare first and foremost - while reigning in executive expansion of power and privilege - that I trust. We can no longer afford to literally print tons and tons of money to give to defense contractors waging war for their own benefit. Using our tax dollars for such a purpose should be grounds for prosecution of the Bush Administration under the RICO statutes. Our education system is a disgrace - on its way to certain destruction under No Child Left Behind, which is nothing more than a typical CEO's bullshit of charts and numbers, quantifying everything and qualifying nothing. Bush has not lifted a finger to begin reforming our heathcare system.

Obama will no more let his ideology guide his judicial nominations that Bush did, and the Framers anticipated that. What they did not anticipate was the level of corporate influence on the elected branches of government. It is my hope that Obama - if elected - and the other ins will take a different path and turn a greater ear to the people and our future.


Welcome Back, Christopher

Please take minute to welcome Mr. Hitchens back to the fold.

Christopher Hitchens pissed off millions of lefties, much to Matt Drudge's, William Kristol's, John Leo's, Tucker Carlson's, etc. etc. pointed delight, when he crossed over to Bush, and leaving The Nation, after the terrorist attacks to 9/11. The author of "God is not Great" was able to look past Bush's cynical piety and his puppet status on national policy - an empty vessel to be filled by advisers - for the sake of National Security. In fact, he used his book as an argument for it, even as Bush boasted the Lord was on our side.

Yet he is no longer able to look past such empty-headed posturing, even with the Republican pedigree on nation security. Even he is agast at Palin's boastful ignorance, her "I don't know, and I don't wanna know" illiteracy. And even more offended by McCain's (mis)calculated selection of her as VP in order to out-historic and out-Woman's-vote Obama's candidacy.

McCain couldn't run on the issues - by his own words he voted with Bush 90% of the time - so he and Palin had to rally the republican base. And what the world saw was a disgusting and ignorant display of xenophobia and race baiting. It was no coincidence that as soon as McCain went negative, his numbers started going down. The independents, such as Hitchens, were embarrassed by and hated what they saw.

I used to like McCain, I voted for him in the 2000 primary, as I can as an Illinois independent. Yet, now it is wholly apparent his character hasn't withstood the ultimate test. Put more realistically, I realize Obama is no saint. Yet his campaign has been able to deflect the negativity to proxies, to stand from the high ground the entire time, and present himself as dignified, open-minded and pluralist.

That's the leadership I want.

WTF of the Day

A minor working the checkout line at the grocery store isn't allowed the touch the unopened, sealed alcohol you are trying to buy (as if merely touching the bottle would corrupt their young, open minds...making her completely lose self-control and run down the liquor aisle, smashing open Miller Lite Bottles and ripping open boxes of Franzia) yet an 8-year old (EIGHT!) is allowed to fire a fully automatic Uzi at a gun show, with tragic results.

Not sure I understand the core-values that lead to that, but I know it's what you get when you replace judgment and moderation with knee-jerk fanaticism.

God Bless the U. S. Fucking A.


Photo Dump

Katy and I...apparently we've just put new batteries in the camera

A view of the city during my last sprint workout.

Apple Cider Century Weekend, Three Rivers MI

Katy and Henry in the row boat at Mark's Cottage

Baby in Sunlight with Warning Sticker

Mark, Jamie, and Stocky...w/ accommodations

Mark's backyard, lucky bastard.

One of my earlier attempts in the day at a backwards shot. Note the jackass who still makes the picture interesting. I have no idea who this person is.

Ah, there we go.

The guys.

The gals.


Mark and some grapes. They smelled exactly like Kool-Ade. I don't recall California smelling like that. Is that why nobody buys Midwestern wine except Republicans?

Talking with his mouth full.

Team Kenda came along for the ride.

Confusion reigns.

100 miles later.

Birthday at Kit Kat and Azucar

My present from Katy...there's a bike in it!

Katy and Debi

Jeff and Me

Halfprice 'Tinis

Jeff, Me, Mark

Drag Queen.


Drunk and Happy

El Jefe.



Now I Understand...

...why people become Republicans.

I really do.

Saturday night, while mine and Katy's bikes were locked up outside of a friend's condo, her saddle and seat post were stolen, and my headlight was broken in the attempt as well. Even the headset on her bike was loose after they tried to take the handlebars and fork off, too.

Just the thought of some asshole with his hands on my property sent me into a frothing rage. Realizing he'd probably get less than five dollars for the seat post that I'd spend more than $50 replacing - including the saddle - induced a torrent of profanity to explode from my face as I threw the broken headlight down the alley, ricocheting off the wooden fence and splintering into pieces on the orange, streetlight-bathed pavement.

A group of people leaving for a party scooted past us, regarding me warily.

I'd barely lost $300 dollars worth of property and I was having fantasies about catching the motherfucker in the act. Angrily whipping my telescoping truncheon out, its malicious clacking sound - as it locked into place - would alert the thief to turn around just before it's hard black metal smashed into his jaw. His teeth would barely have time to hit the ground before I grabbed a handful of hair and dragged him out of view behind the dumpster where his pleas for mercy - bubbling through his own blood - wouldn't be heard by anyone else.

Even as I recognized the genuineness of my visceral reaction, I took a deep breath. Embarrassed, I realized I am of course better than that. Reaction is the dominating driver of people who don't or refuse to account for any of their own actions. I should've remembered the quick release on Katy's seat post and removed everything else that could've been stolen. Of course anything you leave out will get stolen. In fact, I needed to assume it would have and acted accordingly.

In other words...I should've acted proactively.

I'm not saying that Republicans are violent, of course. But I am saying the reactionary response that is typical of that line of thinking only gets us in more trouble. By simply cracking down on people stealing easily accessible property without addressing why the property is so easily acceptable or why they need to steal it to get a few dollars will never fix the problem. Shit will continue to get stolen and people will continue to react violently about it, police sanctioned or otherwise while nobody is any better off (except seat post makers and prison guards).

Along the Republican line of thinking, however, this is all fine, as long as we are not wasting time and money to remove the need to steal or blaming ourselves for why it got stolen.

This could really turn into a book, I suppose, so I will close with this: I can see why people identify with this ethos. Completely. I don't agree with it, yet I recognize the need for it as well. The essence or Republicanism is reaction - certainly an outlook that clarifies any situation and can be a way to reach a quick resolution - yet, unchecked and allowed to grow unabated, it becomes fascism. On the opposite end of the spectrum is pro-action, the essence of Democratic thought. It's dark-side is social-engineering, unchecked it becomes Communism. Both ironically find kinship in totalitarianism.

It is important to use both to play against each other, to counterbalance the system and keep it upright and strong. Truly great leaders recognize this principal and uphold it, at the expense of their own power and advancement.

"Nihilism? Fuck, Dude. Say what you want about tenets of National Socialism, but at least it's an ethos."
--- Walter Sobchek


Thursday Hate - Planet Earth

Our universe is so big that light from one end has not yet reached the other.

When the Hubble telescope peers deep into space, it is literally looking back in time billions of years so far away are the galaxies and nebulae it is aimed at.

So broad and massive are the matter and mysteries spread about over space and time, so isolated are we in our little corner of the galaxy, that we will never begin to unlock even a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of what it all means. That our unlikely progression through evolution to conscious questioning of those very mysteries that will go unsolved, as we die out alone and unknown in our provincial little corner - either by choking to death on our own pollution or by nuclear annihilation - the equivalent of a 3-year old burning the house down playing with matches - is of sickening irony.

You know what makes it worse?



Ode to a Ride in Milwaukee on a Sunday Afternoon in October

Their fiery colors warmed the day just born
And ashes just as bright as flames
Gave a way forlorn
New life, new light. A voice exclaims,
"The warmth is gone, but summer I don't mourn!"
The visions of those days still give me pain
A sweetish breath of agony
a mem'ry again
frozen there, tart and wry
To tease me out of thought and to remain.


Can't Sleep...

(Cloud Haiku)

Floating in darkness
Underneath that watchful eye
Metallic giants


Remember Shakey's Pizza?

Man, as a kid I used to love that place. I remember walking up - in the frigid, dark air, my breath a frozen cloud around my head and my parents telling me to slow down - to the huge wooden door with the wrought iron frame - old world style - and excitedly pulling it open and immediately being enveloped in warmth and a sensory explosion that almost made me stop in my tracks, unable to react to any of it because I wanted all of it.

Impossibly high ceilings supported by great rustic planks of deep, rich timber supports. The laughter, the cigarette smoke, deep pitchers filled to the rim with root beer - my favorite - being sloshed over the hightop tables from glass to glass. The sound of another round of PacMan or Moon Patrol starting up from the arcade by the restrooms.

And pizza everywhere.

Pizza back then was simpler. Wasn't it? Wolfgang Puck may have been avant-garde down in California back then, but in Alaska we're at least 15 years behind the times in food trends, 5 years for a new hairstyle, minimum. Back then, good pizza still smelled like an armpit. Loads of onions, canned mushrooms, and pepperoni sliced so thin when it cooked it got crispy and crinkly, like dried parchment. The edges of the crust bubbled up in mountains, volcanos with magma chambers of hot air beneath, watching to be released by an errant bite, and erupt and burn your upper lip.

Occasionally I'd grab a slice of hawaiian - the canned pineapple was the extent of exotic in 1979 Alaska, or a hand full of Mojos (batttered cottage fries) - but mostly I just wanted more cheese and the bubbly hot crust.

Giant gulps of that root beer in the pitcher to wash it down.

I'd burp the loudest, impressing all of my friends as those huge balloons, wider on top than on the bottom, floated and bounced around on their strings above us like fat, pink elephants. Then we play Tank Commander - with green-line graphics and the periscope view finder that got all sweaty and chafed a ring around your face after a solid hour of playing.

When my parents finally told me I had to leave, they got no real objection from me, for by that time I'd eaten so much pizza and drank so much root beer I was feeling kinda sick to my stomach. But of course, I did have room for an ice cream cone from Baskin Robbins next door.

Back out though the wooden and iron door I went, and the cold, frigid air slammed down on top of my senses like a heavy, steel gate.


Thursday Hate - Early Edition

But first, a hump day link:

I find new things on repeat viewings of this more than on my Spinal Tap DVD.


I had to turn off the debate after less than an hour in. I couldn't take McCain's soulless, constantly blinking face and his condescending, "I'm not attacking you while I attack you" attacks, or Obama's soft-pedaling, punch-pulling, yawn-inducing answers.

Just once, I wanted to hear Obama throw all that shit back McCain's face with, "5 words, John...'Joe Vogler. Alaskan Independence Party.' If you want to continue casting these aspersions and guilt by association, please explain your running mate's judgment in marrying a guy who was a card carrying member - until 2007! - of a secessionist group founded by a guy who was murdered in an illegal plastic explosives deal gone bad in 1993."

Or, "John, what about your support of the Contras in the 80s - with personal donations?"

And then to McCain's inane posturing about never having been south of the border during their NAFTA-renegotiation argument: "Really, John? What does that have to do with anything? If it did, why did you choose a running-mate who just got her passport in 2007?"

I had to shut it off when I wasn't hearing anything new. Which included Barack Obama not standing up for himself.


I ate some jalapeno-flavored potato chips the other day, and got one stuck in my throat. Mucus membranes do not like the spicy.


Tuesday Cinquains

Light fights to break
Into thickening ink
Sadness grows like snow yet to fall

Dried husks once live
Hide the only way through
Home is behind me, death ahead
Out there

Friends gone
Alone and blind
The path out is all mine
One step at a time, through the black
Self trust

Faith, love
Lust and laughter
Melts the ice every time
And visions of a warm sunrise


Post Debate Meanderings

We bitch and complain about how our students are falling behind in math and science, so much so that many cities are in full panic mode - offering free education and loans to certify teachers right now.

Yet McCain singles out the $3 million new projector at Adler Planetarium - one of the city's top public educational facilities, not to mention one of our top tourist attractions as an example of Obama's wasteful pork barrel spending.

Don't our student citizens deserve the very best? Seems to me top of the line audio-visual equipment (for which $3 million is probably pretty reasonable) is necessary for a tourist attraction that more than pays for the expenditure with it's value as a civic institution - and to improving the knowledge of citizens everywhere who come from around the nation to visit it.

Meanwhile, McCain has publicly advocated staying in Iraq for an unlimited time, at a cost of over $10 billion a month. I wonder why our education system is falling behind these days?

And was it just me, or did McCain, a Republican, say that he supports nationalizing private citizen's mortgage debt??

Just switched over to FOX News, and the MSNBC for some instant gratification on reactions, and it's pretty obvious nothing is going to change, save George Bush simultaneously pulling Osama bin Laden out of his and suppressing the release of Oliver Stone's new movie before Election Day. Even talking heads from National Review and the Weekly Standard are saying it's at least a draw,if not a win, and none one less than the Pat Freakin' Buchanan just called Obama "fluid and presidential."

This was McCain's time to "take the gloves off." But he couldn't. Not on Ayers and Wright he couldn't. If he did, Keating and Palin's own Pastor Muthee and her own "palling around" would've been thrown right back in his face.

A focus group in Virginia raised their hands at the moderator's request in favor of Obama. North Carolina and Florida also went blue this week. Indiana is now blue. Barely, but it's blue. The birthplace of the Republican Party.

fivethirtyeight.com. The popular vote may be close, but it is up to a 9 point difference now, and the electoral vote could be as much as 90%, or even higher by the final debate next week.

BTW, I should just make the tags for these entries just one "politics/assholes/bullshit" tag, as they're never without the other two.

Some "Issues" for Debate Night

If this is evidence of where the rest of the $700 billion is going to be spent, authorized and supported by both presidential candidates, it might just be necessary for some revolution at more than just the polls next month.

I'm not saying...I'm just saying.


Hockey Moms in glass houses should watch their slapshots (credit to Katy for the quip, Mat for the video):


Em Oh En Dee Ay Why

Sorry for the radio silence...took a few days off to celebrate, be sick, and race. TCW is back on the air...come on!

First up, this piece of news gave me a little flash back. I don't know if any of you out there have ever taken the Megabus, but I am quite sure you wouldn't rates it's customer service up there with Lufthansa...I wouldn't either, and I am certainly not done badmouthing this company to any one who will listen.

A couple of years ago I was leaving Minneapolis after taking part in a charity ride, the St. Paul Classic, on the 11pm overnight run back to Chicago. I'd thought even looking at the schedule the arrival time looked a little optimistic, considering Chicago's morning rush hour. But the bus was over an hour late in getting on the road after making the three pickups in the Minneapolis area, and it was soon apparent that the bus driver was still intent on keeping to the schedule.

Speeding through the rain the left lane past more cautious traffic, he swerved back to the right and over corrected, hitting the shoulder, and began to fishtail. The passengers were all fast asleep in the 3am darkness, and the sharp bump and sideways movement shot everyone alert in their seats.

"Oh my God!" was the cry directly behind me, and I was thinking the exact same thing, as I braced myself to either fall against the glass windows next me or fly across the aisle, whichever way the bus rolled. Immediately, the bus was back on line, and nervous laughter floated back over the seat tops.

"I don't think anyone will mind if we're a little late, man!" I offered up. More nervous twittering.

I tried to find a phone number to call on the corporate website afterwards, but none existed, and my emails went unanswered. Even the twenty emails afterward, sent everyday, that stated I would next be sending Letters-to-the-Editor badmouthing Megabus, and would be letting everyone else know about their drivers lack of qualifications, as well.

Still nothing, two years later, so here you have it. More megabus-bashing, as a warning, in the wake of yet another company causing grief and chaos after cutting corners in safety and employee background checks.


Speaking of flashbacks, do you ever have sensory-triggers? I mean, really strong ones? Everytime I drink a Pepsi from a glass bottle - not a Coke, or a Sprite, but only a Pepsi - I have a flashback to August of 1985. I am twelve years old, on summer-vacation in North Carolina. I am in a small-town, southern, dusty corner-store, the kind with that old Mello-Yello sign and an ancient black man with a crumpled hat out front. It's early evening, and I'm waiting for my father to come down to the theater for pre-show prep. Outside is a colorful sky, roiling on the front end of an evening storm, making the leaves whisper and chatter. I've put a quarter in a rusty soda machine and received my prize through a small glass door. As that peppery, raspy, sugary goodness touches my lips, the cool breath of carbonation blowing back from the bottle will impart this memory in my brain for the rest of my life.


This is Katy's interpretation of cycling apparently:

We just saw an ad for a living will service. She says I need to complete one and not her because she's not the one who rides her big wheel in a pack of maniacs also on big wheels wearing only their underwear and a styrofoam cup on their head.

Would someone please, please, please draw me a picture of this?


Finally, I would like to speak to any McCain supporters out there who are suddenly flabbergasted and offended today that Obama has now brought up the Keating 5 scandal. It is no coincidence that he has not mentioned that sordid story until today. Don't act so surprised.

John McCain is out of ideas and out of steam. He has chosen (or had chosen for him) a running mate for cynical reasons and overestimated her effectiveness on his campaign, while not properly vetting her for liabilities on it. Now, as he is predictably lagging in the polls, he has been forced to unleash her as the pitbull she likes to claim to be. Unleashed to make loathesome, pathetic, race-baiting accusations that play into the worst kind of fears of the worst kind of voters.

Ayers was a war-protester when Obama was eight years old. Yeah, he threw a fundraiser for Obama, in 1995. And contributed a whopping $200. Obama has repeatedly disavowed and condemned all of Ayers past acts. Guilt by association? Fine, then you should have no problem with Obama's payback characterizations of McCain's involvment in the Keating 5 scandal.

Yes, he was sent home with a slap on the wrist and a warning for his "poor judgment" which was all McCain deserved. But if you are going to buy into the assertion that Obama's character is clouded by one fundraiser and a $200 contribution from Ayers? Please consider that McCain received over $112,000 from Charles Keating between 1982 and 1987, and had been a regular guest at what John McCain referred to, whistfully, as recently as 2003, at Keating's "Shang-Ri-La" I'm-the-richest-man-in-the-world boat parties.

The fact is, Barack Obama has kept this campaign relatively clean until now. But now that McCain and Palin are questioning his patriotism, expect Obama to get his pants a little dirtier. She's slinging charges of lack of patriotism? I'm sure an official reminder that Palin was once a member of the Alaskan Independence Party - a seccessionist movement, can't be far off.

And if Obama really wanted to get dirty, he could call McCain's health into question, as well as bring up some of Palin's creepier comments that are clues to some of her hidden ambition. There are persistent rumors that McCain didn't want Palin, and that Karl Rove and Cheney has foisted her upon him. The familiar tone of her speeches, the same repeated lies about Iraq and 9/11, it gives me a bit of pause to wonder about the machinations at work behind this bubbleheaded Baptist - who claims God wants a gas pipeline - who could be king.

I'm always happy to roll in the mud if pushed into the puddle.


Birthday Musings



Just behind the growing light
Erudite points of crystal
Wavy folds of felt display
Emerging beauty outshining the sun
Love beyond price


Spending the morning watching stupid movies. Then heading to the shop for a bike fit, and then to UIC for the final installment of the Professor's time trial labs. Then cocktails in Boys Town with some friends and teammates - pain before pleasure.