Sunday, 17 June 2007

All Fred, All the Time

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Peter Brown.

My Two Cents’ Worth

1. Not having to listen to Hillary Clinton’s voice for four (or, God forbid, eight) years is reason enough to hope she loses.

2. Universities are no longer in the truth business; they are in the comfort business.

3. There should be a term limit on members of Congress, as there is on the presidency. I propose 12 years and out: two terms for senators, six for members of the House of Representatives.

4. You should not be watering your grass.

5. The best things in life are either free or cheap.

6. Dog people are better than cat people because dogs are better than cats.

7. If you can’t afford to have children, you shouldn’t have any.

8. Progressives are childish, which is why they can’t be entrusted with governance.

9. Baseball becomes a better sport with each passing year.

10. There should be strict separation between science and state.


Here is a scene from today’s final stage of the Dauphiné Libéré, won by Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov at an average speed of 27.39 miles per hour. The overall winner was Frenchman Christophe Moreau. American David Zabriskie finished an impressive fifth. Vinokourov is one of the favorites to win the Tour de France, which begins in London (of all places) in 20 days. I predict that the Tour will begin in the United States in a few years. Can you imagine the excitement that would be generated in this country by a prologue in the streets of Manhattan, followed by a road stage in upstate New York or eastern Pennsylvania, followed by a criterium in Boston or Philadelphia? Here is a scene from today’s second stage of the Tour of Switzerland, won by German Erik Zabel in a photo finish.


Yesterday, in Italy (IT-lee), Texas, I did my ninth bike rally of the year and my 405th overall. The weather was not promising. Although it was dry when I left my house, it poured during the 53-mile drive to the small town south of Dallas. As I neared Italy, the sky began to lighten, which cheered me, and by the time I arrived, it was merely drizzling. I got a good parking spot for a change, which told me that many people had stayed home. By the time I mounted my bike, shortly before eight o’clock, the rain had stopped. There was even a patch of blue toward the south, which is where we were headed. Thank goodness it would not be another Burleson, I thought.

My friends Joe and Julius never showed up, which testifies to their wimpiness. But Phil and Randy—the stalwarts—did. We rode the entire 63.1-mile course together. There was no rain for the first hour, but then, as if it were waiting for the one-hour mark, we got deluged. Randy and I had brought plastic rain jackets, which we carried, folded, in our jersey pockets. Randy wanted to stop to put his jacket on, but I told him that I wasn’t going to. My reasoning was simple: Phil, being absent-minded, hadn’t brought a jacket. If I put my jacket on, I’d feel bad that Phil was getting soaked while I wasn’t. Better to get soaked and freeze than to feel bad. Randy must have been persuaded by this impeccable reasoning, because he didn’t put his jacket on.

Unlike a year ago, I didn’t get cold once I got wet. The worst part of riding in the rain, besides being sprayed by other people’s tires, is that your shoes get filled with water. Your jersey and shorts dry out when the rain stops, but your shoes stay wet for the rest of the ride. By the end of the second hour, the rain had stopped. The road remained wet, however. With about five miles to go, we passed a man riding a fat-tire bike. (He had probably done a shorter course.) Just as I passed him, he rode through some mud on the road. The mud splashed me. I had mud all over my face (including my glasses), my arms, my jersey, my shorts, and my legs. I looked like I had just completed Paris-Roubaix!

Randy was feeling his oats yesterday. There were times when Phil and I could barely stay on his wheel. Randy did most of the pulling on the stretch of road between Mertens and Frost, where we had a headwind. Overall, the wind wasn’t bad (it averaged 6.5 miles per hour for the day), but it had picked up just before we got to this part of the course. I finished with an average speed of 17.32 miles per hour, which doesn’t count my two stops. My maximum heart rate was only 148, which shows that I didn’t ride as hard as I could have. My average heart rate was 117. I burned 1,942 calories in 3:38:28, which is an average of 533.3 calories per hour. We rode pretty consistently. I covered 17.9 miles in each of the first two hours and averaged 16.63 miles per hour for the final 1:38:28. The conversation, as usual, was inspired. The best part was when we railed against Ted Kennedy and the other open-borders moonbats. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, you can let it all hang out—and believe me, we did. Kennedy’s ears must have been burning.

Italy’s distinction is having ice-cold plums at the rest stops. I ate a plum at each of my two stops. They were delicious. The volunteers deserve credit for coming out on a miserable day. It would have been easy to stay home—safe, warm, and dry. All things considered, including the mud bath, I had a wonderful time. Joe and Julius will not hear the end of it.


James Drake sent a link to this page, which describes a course taught by Princeton professors Robert P. George and Cornel West. I wonder why Paul Krugman and Peter Singer didn’t get in on the act.

Karl R. Popper (1902-1994) on the Aim of Philosophy

All philosophy must start from the dubious and often pernicious views of uncritical common sense. Its aim is enlightened critical, common sense: a view nearer to the truth, and with a less pernicious influence on human life.

(Karl R. Popper, “How I See Philosophy,” chap. 1 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 41-55, at 48)

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

My Dog Days,” by Arthur Phillips (Op-Ed, June 10), gave me those warm, fuzzy feelings and made my eyes tear.

People who adopt from animal shelters will tell you that it’s not only a rewarding experience, but also that shelters are filled with a smorgasbord of the most amazing, delightful, intelligent dogs you’ll ever find on the planet.

There are puppies with puppy breath and slobbery kisses; young dogs with enthusiasm, devotion and intelligence; older dogs with patience, loyalty and wisdom. You can find purebreds, mixed breeds and designer dogs. But one thing they all have in common is the strongest desire imaginable to love you, protect you and bond with you.

When that happens, you’ll understand the bond between human and companion animal of which Mr. Phillips wrote.

Sherrill Durbin
Tulsa, Okla., June 12, 2007

To the Editor:

It’s strange, I have started to do the same thing as Arthur Phillips—counting my years by my beloved whippet, Gracie. Cherishing her puppy days but also cherishing every moment we have together, and all the smiles and laughs because of her.

Life is so much better with a dog friend at your side.

Karen Benzel
Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., June 11, 2007

Note from KBJ: I concur.

Safire on Language