Monday, 3 September 2007

Yankee Watch

The Boston Red Sox won today, while the New York Yankees lost. Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 18. Let’s do some reckoning. If Boston (83-55, .601) wins half of its remaining 24 games, New York (76-62, .550) will have to go 19-5 (.791) to tie. I want the arrogant Yankee fans out there to post a comment, right now, saying, “It’s over.” I’ve been listening to your bullshit for a long time. Please show some humility. The Red Sox beat you fair and square this year.

Curro Ergo Sum

This morning, in beautiful Fort Worth, Texas, I did my first footrace of the fall. I run all year around, but I always go faster in races. The competition brings out the best in me. It’s also nice to see the friends I’ve made over the years. It’s amazing how little overlap there is between the bicycling crowd and the running crowd. Only a couple of my bicycling buddies run, and none of the people I see at footraces rides a bike, at least in rallies. It’s like moving between two worlds. Saturday, I was among bicyclists in Burleson; today, I was among runners in Fort Worth.

The nice thing about running is that you don’t have to haul a bike around. It’s just you and the pavement. But that’s why running is harder than bicycling. There’s no coasting; there’s little drafting; and the wear and tear on the body is much greater. I like doing difficult things. Who else would take up marathon running at the age of 39? To me, running was a challenge. I wanted to learn everything I could about it, undertake a rigorous training regimen, and watch my speed increase. I have enjoyed every step of it, despite the immense suffering. I hope I can keep running for as long as I keep riding my bike. Although I’m middle-aged (50), there were many people older than I am at today’s races.

I used to do the 15K (9.3-mile) race at this event, but that was when I was training for the Dallas White Rock Marathon. My marathon days are over, so for two years now I’ve done the 5K (3.1-mile) race. A year ago, I won a trophy in the men’s 45-49 age group with a mile pace of 6:53.55. This year, I moved into the 50-54 age group, so I figured I’d have an easier time of it. I completed the course in 21:27.03, which is a mile pace of 6:54.23. Guess what? I finished seventh in my age group, of 18 finishers. No trophy. That shows what a crapshoot racing is. Whether you win anything depends on who shows up. Overall, I was 52d of 474 finishers, which is the top 10.9%.

I’ve been doing my training runs at a 7:30 to 7:45 pace. The heat and humidity have kept me from going any faster. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself this morning, so I set a goal of a seven-minute pace. At the first mile marker, I had 6:52. I wasn’t gasping for air, so I decided to keep it up. I had 13:48 at the second mile marker, which meant that I ran the second mile in 6:56. I like to finish hard, so I gradually turned up the speed during the final mile. Near the end, I was passing people. Anyone who looked to be in my age group was dog meat. I wish I had worn my heart-rate monitor, because my heart was beating frighteningly fast. When I turned the final corner, I thought I was going to die. I shouldn’t push myself so hard, especially when I haven’t gone that fast for so long. My mile pace for the final 1.107 miles was 6:54.66. How’s that for consistency: 6:52, 6:56, and 6:54.66?

It was a great feeling to be done. I was drenched in sweat. If you click here and look at the third picture (at the bottom, in red), you will see me about to pass a couple of runners at the finish. I’m on the right as you look at it. I’m easy to spot because part of my legs are white from wearing bicycling shorts, which are longer than my running shorts. I’ve been running shirtless all summer. It’s less constricting, and it’s probably lighter because I’m not carrying a soaked jersey around the course. Whether I run shirtless on cold days remains to be seen!

It’s been a busy weekend. I ran 3.1 miles Friday, rode my bike 61.8 miles Saturday, took Sunday off, and raced 3.1 miles today. No barbecues for this guy. I hope you had a safe and enjoyable Labor Day holiday.

Addendum: I turned 50 in April. Suppose I were still 49. I’d have won the second-place trophy in the 45-49 age group. See what I mean about it being a crapshoot?


Here is an interesting story about ad-blocking software. Only certain Internet advertisements bother me: the ones that interfere with my reading. I long ago trained myself not to look at ads.


Remember Will Nehs’s questions about heaven? John Pepple has the answers.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

The Bush administration’s plan to loosen regulations on mountaintop removal coal mining (“Rule to Expand Mountaintop Coal Mining,” front page, Aug. 23) is a death warrant for Appalachian communities. Rather than taking coal out of the mountain, this destructive process takes the mountain off the coal.

Mountaintop removal has flattened more than 400 mountains, transforming their healthy woodlands into toxic sludge and rubble that has clogged more than 750 miles of streams. Such large-scale decimation forces animal species and American citizens from their homes.

Coal burning is also America’s single largest emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases. The president has acknowledged the critical threat posed by global warming; for him to claim that we need more coal power is dangerous and false.

The United States can reduce its use of dirty coal and meet its growing energy demand by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Rainforest Action Network
San Francisco, Aug. 23, 2007

From the Mailbag

Hello Prof. Burgess-Jackson,

A year ago you were kind enough to post my letter published in the New York Times re change in Cuba after Castro. I thought you might be interested in another of my missives recently published by the Times’ left coast cousin J exposing the same logical fallacies and bias. I could not believe they said Castro’s regime ‘only’ threatens its own people. I like the part about ‘pale’ tourists. Nice visual. lol Now if only the Washington Post would show me some love! Have a nice day.

Alberto F. Montero Valdes
Senior Database Analyst
University of Miami School of Law

Note from KBJ: Here is the Los Angeles Times editorial opinion to which Alberto responded:

Obama’s right on Cuba
The candidate’s call to end the U.S. ban on travel and remittances to Cuba should go even further.

August 25, 2007

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, determined to cast himself as the Democratic presidential candidate most open to new ideas on foreign policy, raised plenty of eyebrows recently when he proclaimed that he would be willing to meet personally with such rogue figures as Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. But that was nothing compared with the opinion article he published Tuesday in the Miami Herald saying Cuban Americans should have unrestricted rights to travel and send remittances to the island.

The other Democratic front-runner, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who portrays herself as the experienced foreign policy realist next to Obama’s cowboy diplomat, wasted no time in rejecting Obama’s proposal. Her campaign released a statement saying the U.S. stance toward Cuba shouldn’t be altered until a post-Castro regime cleans up its act. Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Rudolph W. Giuliani, meanwhile, said Obama’s plan would only strengthen Castro’s oppressive government.

The astonishing thing here is that after the U.S. has tried for nearly 50 years to force a regime change in Cuba by way of economic embargo with no success whatsoever, Obama is one of the few presidential contenders who dares to suggest that it’s time to try something different. Some might consider Obama’s move courageous given the political power of Florida’s Cuban American community, which helped put George W. Bush in the White House in 2000 and has cheered his efforts to tighten sanctions on Cuba. But the minority of Cuban immigrants who vote Democratic is deeply divided on the travel ban and would like to be able to send more money to relatives at home, so Obama may not be staking out such a bold position after all.

Regardless of the political implications, Obama is clearly right—the only problem is, his proposal doesn’t go far enough. The travel ban should be lifted for everybody, not just Cuban immigrants. It is the height of irony that Americans can freely travel to countries such as Venezuela and Iran, which represent genuine threats to our security and economic interests, but not to Cuba, whose government is a threat only to its own people.The ban has done nothing to weaken Castro, but it does keep U.S. tourist dollars out of the hands of Cubans, who might be less inclined to heed their regime’s anti-U.S. propaganda if Americans were helping to raise their standard of living.

The U.S. shouldn’t lift all economic sanctions on Cuba until the island’s regime makes progress on democracy and human rights, but policies such as the travel ban and limits on remittances are simply counterproductive. Score one for Obama.

Good work, Alberto.

A Year Ago