Sunday, 19 August 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Michael Skube. The flaw in his argument (if indeed he’s making an argument) is the unspoken assumption that all blogs are alike. Nothing could be further from the truth, as even a cursory examination of some of the most prominent blogs would reveal. Compare InstaPundit (Glenn Reynolds) with Michelle Malkin, for example. Compare either one of them with Power Line, Althouse, The Volokh Conspiracy, Maverick Philosopher, Hugh Hewitt, what if?, Right Wing News, Marginal Revolution, and Dissecting Leftism. (See my blogroll for links.) Each blog, including mine, has a distinctive character. Why? Because different people have different interests, backgrounds, aptitudes, values, beliefs, personalities, styles, and levels of intelligence. Not all newspapers are alike; why should all blogs be alike? Vive la différence!


Yesterday, in Dallas, Texas, I did my 15th bike rally of the year and my 411th overall. You might wonder how I can do a bike rally in Dallas, which is the ninth-largest city in the United States. The answer is that the rally begins and ends far from the downtown area. In fact, within minutes of starting, we were in the countryside, on lightly traveled roads. (Keep in mind, too, that there are police officers at intersections stopping cars for us.) People who’ve lived their entire lives on the crowded coasts might not appreciate just how sprawling the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is. It’s huge. There are man-made lakes everywhere. Many of the bike rallies I do circle or even cross these lakes. Yesterday, for example, the rally riders rode across the dam of Joe Pool Lake twice. The view was spectacular.

It’s the time of year when everyone is gearing up for the Hotter ’n Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls. I always use the Red Hot Chili Pepper rally as a warm-up for this event, but most of my friends ride on their own that day. The only friend who showed up was Phil, and we had a great time. Phil, who is older than I am but every bit as fit, is thinking of riding 100 miles with Joe, Jason, and me in Wichita Falls. (I believe Julius and Randy are also committed to doing the long course; if not, they should be committed.) Phil will decide which course to ride when we reach Burkburnett, which is at the 57-mile mark. (I predict he’ll wimp out.) I’m committed to riding 100 miles this year, having done a 74-mile course the past five years. (I’ve been doing the Hotter ’n Hell since 1990, when I was 33.) The forecast is for mild weather, including light wind. That’ll help.

Phil and I didn’t care about speed, since our goal was merely to build endurance. That doesn’t mean we dogged it; it means we didn’t go as hard as we could at all times. The main thing was to stay safe. We rode 18.9 miles the first hour and 16.3 the second. We had a headwind going out, which slowed our pace, even though we were in packs for much of it. Once we reached the southernmost point of the course, we were home free. We rode 18.6 miles the third hour and averaged 17.62 miles per hour for the final 31:40. That gave us an overall average speed of 17.88 miles per hour for 63.1 miles. I knew near the end that I was close to 18 miles per hour for the day, but there’s a long, steep hill in the final mile, which slowed my pace considerably. Oh well; this was my second-fastest of nine Chili Pepper rallies. I’ll take it. (See how hard it is not to think about speed?)

Early on, while riding in a pack, I overheard a young man (he may have been 30) tell his companion that his heart rate was in the 140s. This shocked me, because mine was 97. I asked what his resting heart rate is. He said 80. Mine was 44 this past Wednesday. Ordinarily, I would attribute his high heart rate to lack of exercise, but he was riding alongside me with no trouble. He even told me that he had recently done a one-day ride in Colorado’s mountains. If I were him, I’d see a doctor. His heart rate is abnormally high, both at rest and while exerting.

I burned only 1,754 calories during the ride. That’s 497.2 calories per hour. I sometimes burn more than 600 calories per hour while riding, which shows how easy I took it. The bicycle computer calculates calories on the basis of average heart rate (plus sex, age, height, and weight), and yesterday my average heart rate was only 113. In Cleburne three weeks ago, when I averaged 19.75 miles per hour with Randy, it was 129. I burned 627.4 calories per hour that day. In short, I worked much harder in Cleburne than I did in Dallas. My maximum heart rate yesterday was 155. I reached a top speed of 37.8 miles per hour on one of the many hills. Luckily for Phil and me, the sun never peeked out from behind the clouds. It was warm and humid, but at least we didn’t get fried. The average wind speed for the day was 12.1 miles per hour (with gusts up to 21), which I consider high. That also contributed to the lower riding speed, for Phil and I rode by ourselves for long stretches. The official high temperature for the day was 92° Fahrenheit.

I hope you had a strenuous, stress-free weekend. Remember: Your heart is a muscle. As such, it must be exercised on a regular basis. This means getting it pumping—hard—for a long time. Your body (including your heart) is your earthly vehicle. Listen to it; respect it; take care of it. If you’re good to your body, it will be good to you.

Baseball Notes

1. Former Major League manager Bobby Bragan, who is almost 90 years old, is quoted in today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram as saying that Roberto Clemente is the best rightfielder he ever saw. Willie Mays is the best ballplayer he ever saw, followed by Joe DiMaggio and (very closely) Hank Aaron. Pete Rose is the best ballplayer I ever saw, and I’ve been a rabid baseball fan for 40 years. Without him, the Hall of Fame is a joke. Who’s the best ballplayer you ever saw?

2. Someone wrote to one of the Star-Telegram‘s sports columnists to say that, since the Texas Rangers are in “evaluation mode,” they should drop ticket prices into “evaluation mode.” In other words, since the team isn’t playing well, the team should reduce ticket prices. This is idiotic. The Rangers should charge as much as they can for every seat in the ballpark. Fans will decide whether it’s worth it. If not, they’ll stay away from the park. The Rangers will then (if they’re prudent) decrease the prices. The business of business is to make a profit. The business of a consumer is to choose wisely.

Open Thread for Yankee Fans

The reviled New York Yankees defeated my beloved Detroit Tigers this afternoon to take the four-game series, three games to one. The Yankees did what they had to do; it would have been disgraceful for them to split a series at home, even against a good team such as the Tigers. My Tigers are suffering mightily in the absence of Placido Polanco, who has missed six games with influenza. He makes the team go, both in the field and at the plate. It’s no accident that the team crumbled a year ago when he was out of the lineup with a shoulder injury. Thank goodness the Cleveland Indians lost today. As for the Yankees, they pulled to within four games of the Boston Red Sox, who lost to the Los Angeles Angels. To prove my magnanimity (should anyone have doubted it), I hereby open a thread for Yankee fans to bash, torment, taunt, mock, and abuse me. I probably deserve it.

Alan R. White (1922-1992) on Conceptual Analysis

The distinctions, discriminations, and classifications we make are the concepts, ideas, or notions we use. To have a particular concept, e.g., that of justice, recklessness, or mass, is to be able and disposed to assimilate or distinguish in certain ways whatever we encounter. Examining the relations between the various ways we classify things, and consequently between the characteristics which things necessarily have in virtue of being what they are, is examining the concepts we use. We can use the traditional word ‘analysis’ for this examination of concepts without in any way committing ourselves to the assumption that what is being examined is a complex whose component parts are to be revealed in the way that a chemist might analyze a substance or a politician might analyze a situation. What is complex about the concept is its relations.

(Alan R. White, “Conceptual Analysis,” chap. 5 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 103-17, at 105)


A few minutes ago, while cleaning up old blog posts, I made a horrible discovery. Steve Rugg’s blog, JusTalkin, was not added to my blogroll when I moved from PowerBlogs to WordPress at the beginning of 2007. I think I know what happened. There was no way to migrate the links all at once, so I decided to migrate them one or two at a time. After a couple of weeks, evidently, I forgot to continue. Steve’s blog got left off, and since he’s not the sort of person to whine or beg, I never knew. I have just rectified the wrong. Please accept my apologies, Steve. Perhaps this post (and link) will go some way toward making it up to you. By the way, Steve is one of my earliest blog acquaintances. I’m delighted to see that he supports Fred Thompson. All the best and brightest people support Fred! (Sorry, Peg.)

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Need to Know” (editorial, Aug. 11):

In response to President Bush’s fiery threats of terrorism, Democrats stopped, dropped and rolled over again. In granting the administration further leeway to eavesdrop without a warrant, Congress breached faith with all Americans who believe in the Constitution and the rule of law.

In advocating for an unbridled executive branch, Congress ignored the gaping maw that threatens to devour our democratic principles.

This Orwellian bill not only violates the Fourth Amendment, but it also lacks any meaningful oversight. In abdicating its constitutional mandate to check the executive branch, Congress has stripped Americans of their inherent rights, leaving us all vulnerable and unprotected.

Nancy Ganz
Delray Beach, Fla., Aug. 11, 2007

Note from KBJ: (1) Is President Bush threatening anyone? There’s a difference between threatening X and informing X of a threat from Y. (2) Democrats didn’t roll over; they voted in accordance with the will of their constitutents. That’s how democracy works. (3) The letter writer begs the question concerning the constitutionality of the statute. Let’s see what the courts say. (4) Who advocates “an unbridled executive branch”? That’s just paranoia. (5) Most people subscribe to many principles, each of which has weight in their deliberations. The letter writer appears to be an absolutist about the Fourth Amendment, which is equivalent to assigning infinite weight to the principle it embodies. Who was it who said that the Constitution is not a suicide pact? (6) The letter writer would be more credible if she eased up on the shrill rhetoric. Words such as “fiery,” “rolled over,” “breached faith,” “unbridled,” “gaping maw,” “devour,” “Orwellian,” “abdicating,” and “stripped” do nothing to engage the intellect. The reader is left wondering whether she has any reasons in support of her view.

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag


You have often stated how much you hate the NYYankees. Fine, your inalienable right. But the only reason I ever recall you giving for this strong feeling is financial . . . the Yankees spend the most money by far.

True, but since 2000 it hasn’t bought them much.

Still, there are two other ways to look at it. I looked up the payrolls of the Major League Teams.

The Yankees are way way ahead, as you would expect, with 195 million; Detroit is at 95 million and Tampa Bay at a pathetic 24 million. So think of it relatively. While it is true the Yankees are spending twice what Detroit is, Detroit is spending four times what Tampa Bay is. If your hatred is relativized, then vis a vis Tampa Bay, you ought to hate the Tigers twice as much as you ought to hate the Yankees vis a vis the Tigers, etc.

A still different perspective. What is baseball all about anyway? It is entertainment of a particular type. Now, ask yourself, when the Yankees do badly, how many people are they disappointing. And when the Tigers do, how many? And when Tampa Bay does? Assuming plausibly a constant percentage, call it N, of baseball fans per population, this is a simple function of each team’s overall population base, roughly, let’s say, the audience of the TV stations near its ball bark. In the case of the Yankees, this is somewhere between 15-20 million. In the case of Detroit, with half the city population of NY, it is no doubt half of that. And the pathetic Tampa Bay, size 300 thousand and some, it may be a million.

Hence with their 195 million dollars the Yankees are entertaining N x 15 million+ fans, with their 95 million the Tigers are entertaining N x 7 million fans and with their 24 million Tampa Bay is entertaining nobody, ok, N times a million.

Conclusions are obvious. Either the Yankees are underspending, or the Tigers are slightly overspending, and as for Tampa Bay, they are simply throwing money madly at their few fans. On a dollar per fan basis, the Yankee spending is entirely reasonable, as is the Tigers’. So hate away if you must, but maybe your rationalization needs some strengthening.


Note from KBJ: I don’t hate the Yankees because they outspend other teams. I hate the Yankees because people like Paul go to such lengths to defend them.

Safire on Language