Sunday, 27 April 2008


Yesterday, in German-themed Muenster, Texas, I did my fourth bike rally of the year and my 425th overall. For the fourth Saturday in a row, the weather was gorgeous. Yes, it was windy, but you come to expect that in North Texas at this time of year. The main thing is that it was warm and sunny. I love sunshine. (Five years in Tucson spoiled me.) The wind shifted from the south to the north overnight, which meant it was less humid than usual. I made it to Muenster in plenty of time for the 11:00 start. I found my home boys in short order and rolled to the starting line with them. There were thousands of people lined up on Muenster’s main street. The sidewalks were lined with spectators. I’ll post an image or two soon, perhaps this evening.

Joe had a flat within the first three miles. One of those old-fashioned square nails went through his rear tire, puncturing his tube. Phil, Randy, and I wanted to repay Joe for the many times he’s ridden away from us, but, being morally better than he is, we stopped to wait for him (and even to help him). I do not exaggerate when I say that well over a thousand cyclists went past us as we stood in the grass next to the road. I joked that we would pass many of them back, and we did. Once we got going again, we flew. It was great fun, riding through the rustic pastures and forests of North Texas with my home boys. Up and over the hills we climbed, first into Rosston and then into Forestburg. We stopped at a rest stop about 30 miles in.

By this time, we had a headwind, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I felt strong as a bull and did a lot of work at the front. I wasn’t showing off; I just like being on the front. If nothing else, it minimizes the likelihood of accidents. I also find that when I’m at the front, I get to set the pace. Sometimes it’s hard to follow another rider’s pace, especially when it’s an erratic rider like Joe, Phil, or Randy. We stopped again in Bulcher, which is near the Texas-Oklahoma border. Just as we were about to depart, Phil decided that he had to use the porta-potty. Tack on another 10 minutes for negligence brought on by senility. The final stretch, into Muenster, is always hard, even when there’s a tailwind. There are many small hills and some false flats. I thought we would have a tailwind during this stretch, but it was a crosswind. The four of us stayed together the rest of the way (okay, until the final mile, when all hell broke loose) and chatted at our vehicles before heading out onto the highway. I stopped in Gainesville for bean burritos. I listened to three of my CDs yesterday: Pat Metheny’s Travels (1983) (second CD), Golden Earring’s Moontan (1973), and Led Zeppelin III (1970). Let’s just say that there was some serious rockin’ goin’ on in North Texas yesterday.

Statistically, I rode 18.8 miles the first hour (tailwind), 17.4 the second (crosswind and headwind), and 16.4 the third (headwind). I averaged only 14.85 miles per hour during the final 29:53 of the ride, by which time I was getting tired. I ended up with 17.15 miles per hour for 60.0 miles, which makes this my fastest Muenster rally since 1995. My fastest ever was 21.22 miles per hour, in 1991. I have no idea how I did that. Then again, I was much younger. (Did I ever tell you that youth is wasted on the young?) My maximum speed yesterday was 44.7 miles per hour; my maximum heart rate was 161; my average heart rate was 132; and I burned 2,299 calories. I don’t count it as a windy day in my log unless the average wind speed is 10 miles per hour or more at DFW Airport. Yesterday it was 8.6 miles per hour. So while it was windy, it wasn’t very windy. Believe me, I’ve seen worse.

My average speed has increased on every ride I’ve done this year. (I’ve been on the bike eight times.) Each week, I get stronger. If I play my cards right, they’ll be offering me a ride in the Tour de France this July. Whether I accept it depends on (1) how much money they offer me and (2) whether I am the team leader. By the way, I woke up this morning with influenza (or at least flu symptoms), even though I had a flu shot in December. Go figure.

Addendum: Here is Pat Metheny’s “Extradition.” Here is Golden Earring’s “Are You Receiving Me.” Here is Led Zeppelin’s “That’s the Way.”

Addendum 2: Here are the six home boys (from the left: Joe, Randy, Mike, Phil, KBJ, Mark) at the start. Mike and Mark rode shorter courses. Joe’s taco-fish shirt is rumored to be 30 years old. He washes it every fourth time he wears it, whether it needs it or not. Note that Randy is already tired. You probably noticed that I’m not wearing cycling gloves. I’ve never worn cycling gloves. Cycling gloves are for wimps. Here is Randy breaking the law. While we were replacing Joe’s punctured tube, Randy walked over to the fence to urinate. What a scofflaw! I should have made a citizen’s arrest for urinating in public. Thank God he didn’t have to go number two. Here is our first (of two) rest stops, between Forestburg and Saint Jo. That’s Phil in the center, wearing the Texas Wheels jersey. Phil is the oldest home boy, and he rides like it.

Twenty Years Ago

4-27-88 . . . The hapless Baltimore Orioles are 0-20. It’s hard to believe. You’d think they’d win a game by accident, for God’s sake. The Os can break the major-league record for consecutive losses at the beginning of a season with a loss tomorrow. Go Orioles! [The Orioles lost 21 games in a row.]


I paid $3.459 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline at a Shell station along Interstate 35 yesterday (near Denton, Texas). What’re y’all payin’?

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

You suggest that the raising of animals for food should be done “in ways that are both ethical and environmentally sound.” This is asking for the impossible.

More than nine billion chickens are slaughtered each year in the United States. When you treat animals as objects on an assembly line, it is not possible to provide for their basic needs.

You argue that we must treasure a “cultural and historical bond” between us and those we eat. But that bond is based on exploitation and abuse.

If domesticated animals “exist only because of the uses we have found for them,” let me ask you: Would you have recommended 150 years ago that we preserve and treasure the bond between whites and their black slaves—and develop a more humane slave trade?

Vadim Liberman
New York, April 23, 2008

Lino A. Graglia on William J. Brennan Jr (1906-1997)

The corrupting effect of uncontrolled power can be clearly seen in the career of, for example, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. It is a shameful fact in a purportedly democratic system of government that Brennan was the most important figure in American public life during the last half of the twentieth century, even though his name was and is virtually unknown to the people, his fellow citizens, whose lives he substantially governed. It is also a fact that it would be difficult to find an American public figure of comparable importance, at least outside of the Court itself, more unscrupulous in the pursuit of his political objectives, less deterred by inconveniences of fact or logic, or requirements of good faith. Ample justification for this statement can be seen by studying his work in almost any major area of constitutional law. On the issue of race and the schools, for example, he led the Court to change Brown’s prohibition of segregation into a requirement of integration while denying that any change had been made. He successfully performed the nearly incredible feat, possible only for a decisionmaker subject to no review, of imposing a requirement of race discrimination in the assignment of students to schools in the name of enforcing a prohibition of all official racial discrimination.

(Lino A. Graglia, “Lawrence v. Texas: Our Philosopher-Kings Adopt Libertarianism as Our Official National Philosophy and Reject Traditional Morality as a Basis for Law,” Ohio State Law Journal 65 [2004]: 1139-50, at 1148 [footnotes omitted])

Safire on Language