Thursday, 1 November 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a column by George Will.

Twenty Years Ago

11-1-87 It’s ironic that I rode 77.12 miles on my bike today, because my first thoughts this morning were that I’d have to cancel or postpone my weekly bike ride. A massive storm moved through Tucson in the early morning hours. Rain pelted down, winds blew, and the temperature dropped. I awoke several times. Although I have a streak of sixteen consecutive Sunday rides, and although I’ve ridden in rain before, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it again today. But lo and behold, the sky cleared up by noon and by two o’clock I was on my way toward the interstate [10] on Speedway Boulevard. Luckily, I avoided rain all day, except for a few sprinkles here and there. Dark clouds loomed overhead and I could see a storm in the distance, but it didn’t affect me. I rode to the interstate, to Prince Road, to within ten miles of Picacho Peak, and then back. My gross-average speed was a disappointing 14.81 miles per hour. I attribute it to high winds on the ride out, then no wind at all on the ride home. It was also quite humid: fifty-nine percent at five o’clock. I’m not used to that much humidity. [The same is true here in North Texas.]

I badly miscalculated the time of sunset, which caused me to ride over twenty miles in the darkness. For some reason I thought it got dark at 6:30, but, as it turns out, the sun sets at 5:33. When this occurred, I had just turned from Thornydale Road to Ina Road, on the northwest side of town. I live on the far east side. But I didn’t panic. My bike has no lights and only a couple of small pedal reflectors, so I made my way to Oracle Road, which I took to Speedway Boulevard, and then followed Speedway home. Fortunately, I made it safely. The danger is not so much that I’ll fail to see a car, but that the drivers of cars will fail to see me. It’s particularly dangerous to go through intersections when vehicles are about to turn left, and I also worried about drivers turning into the street from private lots. I learned my lesson. If it says in the newspaper that sunset occurs at 5:33, I shouldn’t say to myself “Well, it won’t really get dark”. I should believe and act upon what I read.

Collegiate Athletics

Which Division I university has won the award for most success in collegiate athletics for the past 13 years? Don’t do any research. Guess. The answer is here. Note that 30 of the 70 teams listed are from the Pac-10 Conference. Only 11 are from the SEC. If you’re an athlete, the Pac-10 is where you need to be.

All Fred, All the Time

Get your Fred gear here. Keep in mind, as you decide whether to buy something, that Fred Thompson can kill you simply by saying your name sarcastically.


Read this. Nobody quoted in the story appears to have the slightest inkling that there are biological differences between the sexes.


My friend (and former student) Carlos is a huge fan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers (né Bugeaters). Naturally, he is dying as a result of the football team’s poor play this season. See here. I’d like to see Nebraska return to its glory days. Remember when the Huskers would roll over the likes of Kansas, 77-0? Remember the I-formation? It was awe-inspiring. Remember the Blackshirts? Carlos and I agree that Bill Callahan and his West Coast offense must go. Wouldn’t it be something to see Dr Tom Osborne on the sidelines again? He’s 70, but that’s young, compared to Joe Paterno (80) and Bobby Bowden (almost 78).


Here is a fascinating editorial opinion by the Wall Street Journal. I didn’t watch the Democrat debate the other night, but I’ve been reading about it in various places. Hillary Clinton is obviously triangulating. She is trying to be progressive enough to get nominated but conservative enough to get elected. Will she pull it off? Time will tell. I do know one thing. Everyone to the left of center will be fully committed to her if she gets the nomination. Will everyone be happy with her? No. Will they work for her and donate money to her? Yes. Five of the past seven presidential elections have gone to the Republicans. We have had a Republican president for 36 of the past 56 years (that’s 64.2%). Progressives are desperate to get one of their own in the White House; or, if not one of their own, then someone other than a Republican. If Republicans are going to win this thing, they will have to come together behind their nominee, whomever it is.

Addendum: If I were a political “handler,” here’s what I would recommend. Hit the Democrat candidate hard on national defense, illegal immigration, and crime. Use the word “weak” incessantly, as in “Hillary is weak on national defense,” “Hillary is weak on illegal immigration,” and “Hillary is weak on crime.” The word “soft” is also useful. The phrase “socialized medicine” cannot be used often enough in connection with Hillary’s name. What do you think? Do you have other ideas that might work?

Baseball Notes

1. Joe Girardi is the new manager of the New York Yankees.

2. Joe Torre is the new manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

3. A lot of people are going to be surprised when Magglio Ordonez is named the Most Valuable Player of the American League. He was far more important to his team than Alex Rodriguez was to his.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

David Brooks states that Americans are privately happy because “their homes are bigger.” He adds: “They own more cars. They feel more affluent.”

This has repeatedly been shown to be false, as the aggregate “happiness” of Americans has not grown over time with their supposed affluence.

If only life were so simple that a big house and a stable of S.U.V.’s would make life worth living.

This kind of base materialism underlies the conservative political philosophy that has become in vogue over the last 27 years or so.

As long as we as a people remain focused on materialism as the primary determinant of personal happiness, we will be unable to effectively deal with the larger “public” issues Mr. Brooks alludes to.

I believe that our leaders, including the media and the press, should do a better job educating us that there is more to happiness than the size of our houses or how many cars we have; a reliable health care system, a stable environment and national security are worth at least as much.

Dan Mauro
Chicago, Oct. 30, 2007

Note from KBJ: The letter writer doesn’t understand conservatism if he thinks it’s founded on materialism. By the way, don’t you love the writer’s condescension? He says we need to be “educated” about what makes us happy. He’s confusing education with indoctrination.

Indoctrination in Delaware

James Drake sent a link to this. Read the comments. Here is my short blog post of yesterday. Universities need donations to survive. Do you know what’s going on at your alma mater? If not, should you be donating money to it? Find out, and decide accordingly. If donations start to decrease on politically correct campuses, perhaps administrators will get the message that they’ve lost sight of their mission, which is education, not indoctrination.

Addendum: If you oppose academic indoctrination, you should support FIRE, which shines a bright light on the progressive cockroaches who try to indoctrinate students. As soon as FIRE got involved in the Delaware case, administrators scampered. They removed material from the university website, issued dishonest press releases, and went into damage-control mode. Remember: Money talks. If you donate to a politically correct school, you’re voting for more indoctrination. If you donate to FIRE, you’re voting for less.

Addendum 2: The offending program has been suspended. How’s that for results? The totalitarians at the University of Delaware honestly thought they were going to get away with indoctrinating students. They didn’t realize they were playing with FIRE. By the way, you can be sure that the University of Delaware got many messages from irate alumni who were unaware of the indoctrination program. Most, I suspect, threatened to stop donating. Nothing gets the attention of a university president like a threat to withhold donations.

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag


This blog post discusses the “Flynn effect” and speculates on why people today are smarter in some categories: for one thing, the TV remote control is good training in the task of deciding within a few seconds whether to change the channel to something more interesting.

Also, iSteve today is more topic-rich than usual, with interesting-looking links and an article on pop music.

Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

Halloween Update

I dispensed 13 of the 20 Hershey bars I bought, which means I have 5,600 calories sitting on my kitchen counter, tempting, taunting, and tormenting me. Thank goodness I have willpower! I was surprised by how few trick-or-treaters I had. There were five knocks on the door all evening, even though I had plenty of lights on. The final two knocks were by single adults with one small child. I handed a Hershey bar to the child and then one to the adult, saying, “Here’s one for you, too.” I was pleased that several of the kids said “Thank you.” “You’re quite welcome,” I responded. I may have mentioned that I went many years without dispensing candy. I even kept my lights off a few times. Isn’t that terrible? What makes it worse is that I enjoyed collecting candy when I was a kid. Maybe by the time I die, things will have evened out.