Thursday, 18 January 2007

Still Crazy After All These Years

George McGovern.

Twenty Years Ago

1-18-87 Sunday. I rode to the cave [Colossal Cave] and back in forty-eight degree [Fahrenheit] temperatures (the official Tucson high). That’s the coldest riding temperature since I began keeping track of such things, on 7 July 1985. The previous low was fifty degrees, on 9 February 1986. The highest is 108 degrees, on 7 July 1985. That’s a sixty-degree range! Apart from the forty-eight and fifty degree temperatures, the coldest is in the sixties. I’ve ridden my bike eleven times when the official high temperature was in the sixties. Fortunately, there was no precipitation this afternoon. The sky was clear, the roads were dry, and there was little or no wind. It turned into a pleasant ride. I just dressed warmly and let my body heat do the rest. I was never uncomfortable.

Statistically, I had a good ride. My gross average speed was 15.04 miles per hour, even though I stopped twice (once to change batteries and once to change [cassette] tapes in my tape player). I averaged 13.42 miles per hour on the way to the cave and 17.04 on the way back. Knowing that I was close to fifteen miles per hour, I worked hard the last ten miles or so. That’s why any scientific analysis of my times is bound to fail. It would ignore the psychological component of riding. There are times when I become a maniac on the bike, all to reach a certain goal that I’ve set for myself. Unless one knew this, one would overestimate my abilities. To me, biking is largely physical, but also considerably mental. That’s probably why I enjoy it so much. It gives me a chance to explore the relation between my mind and my body. They’re related in fascinating ways.

A year ago the official high temperature was eighty-four degrees. What a difference! At the time, I was trying to break the fourteen-mile-per-hour mark regularly. Now I’m at a different plateau: trying to break the sixteen-mile-per-hour mark regularly. I’ve done it several times, but it’s always hard. Things have to work out just right. I have to hit the traffic signals correctly, the wind has to be nonexistent or in my favor on the return trip, and I have to be psychologically and physically strong. My goal is still to break seventeen miles per hour in the next few weeks. I don’t want to stay on the same plateau for long. By the way, the Rincon Mountains were gorgeous today. For one of the few times since I’ve lived in Tucson, Rincon Peak was bathed in snow. I wish I had my camera with me; I may never get a chance to see it that way again. But at least I got to stare at it for forty-five minutes on the way to the cave.


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

Richard John Neuhaus on Abortion

There are few things, if anything, so clearly required by social justice than that a society not kill its babies. If we don’t get that right, we’re not likely to get much of anything else right.

(Richard John Neuhaus, “The Public Square,” First Things [December 2006]: 59-80, at 71)

Where the Action Is

Mark Spahn sent a link to this. What would I do without Mark?

The Cognitive Elite

Charles Murray is a national treasure. Read this column from today’s Wall Street Journal and you’ll see why. By the way, there’s an academic discipline for people who love wisdom: philosophy. I’m disappointed that Murray didn’t mention it.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Iraqi Death Toll Exceeded 34,000 in 2006, U.N. Says” (front page, Jan. 17): The United Nations report indicating that more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in 2006 is shocking and should make all Americans pause to think about the true human cost of this war.

When American politicians, Democratic or Republican, speak about the human cost of the Iraq war, they normally mention only the 3,000 American military men and women who have honorably given their lives.

Their service should certainly be recognized. But by not mentioning the broader tragedy of war and the thousands of innocent Iraqis who have also lost their lives, Americans send a message to the world that American lives are of greater value than Iraqi or Muslim lives.

We and our politicians must demonstrate that every life lost in this struggle should be mourned.

Robert Fenstermacher
White Plains, Jan. 17, 2007

Note from KBJ: Does anyone besides me see what’s going on here? By mentioning, ad nauseam, that 34,000 people have died in Iraq, critics of the war imply that American soldiers did the killing. That’s preposterous. Each day, Iraqis kill other Iraqis by the dozen, or by the hundred. Whose fault is that? Ours? And suppose we focus only on civilian deaths caused by American soldiers. Are the deaths intentional or accidental? I can’t believe that more than a handful of civilian casualties were intentional, and those who did the killing in those cases are nothing more than criminals—and should be prosecuted as such. There’s something fundamentally dishonest going on with these war statistics. Someone needs to call people on it.


I assume you’ve read my post of this date entitled “A Year Ago.” If not, go read it. I have a question that will make most of you squirm, but I’m serious: What do you like (or admire) about Hillary Clinton? Please don’t say “Nothing.” Just as no human being (with the possible exception of Keith Burgess-Jackson, a.k.a. God) is omnibenevolent, no human being (with the possible exception of Paul Krugman) is omnimalevolent. Mother Teresa had bad qualities as well as good ones (I’m fairly sure she didn’t like baseball or heavy-metal music, for example), and Hillary Clinton has good qualities as well as bad ones. Name one. If nothing else, this little exercise will prove that you’re fair and balanced, like Fox News.

Addendum: Here is a Wall Street Journal column about Senator Clinton.

Addendum 2: Jed Babbin thinks Barack Obama is about to feel Hillary Clinton’s wrath. Come on, Jed; Hillary wouldn’t do anything dirty!


According to today’s Dallas Morning News, my adopted Texas Rangers have offered a Minor League contract to Sammy Sosa, with an invitation to go to spring training with the Major League club. I think it’s a mistake. Sammy isn’t the player he was, and he’s a disruptive clubhouse presence. But I thought it was a mistake for the Oakland Athletics to sign Frank Thomas a year ago, and he had a terrific season. Maybe Sammy will prove me wrong. He seems like a proud and determined man, and he wants to reach 600 home runs. Any thoughts about Slammin’ Sammy? Does anyone think he used steroids? If so, what’s your evidence? By the way, spring training is a month away. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

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A Year Ago