Saturday, 5 July 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Matthew Parris.

A Year Ago


Yankee Watch

Tampa Bay’s magic number to eliminate the hated New York Yankees is down to 67. Mariano Rivera continues to embarrass himself.

Cycling, Part 2

Here is a scene from today’s first stage of the Tour de France. The stage winner was Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde, who is unbelievably strong. His average speed for 122.7 miles was 26.66 miles per hour. Here is tomorrow’s stage.


There was no bike rally today, so I went on a solo training ride out of Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. You will not believe what I am about to tell you. The first 15,288.8 miles I rode were by myself, most of it in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. On 16 September 1989, a month after I moved from College Station to Grand Prairie, Texas, I rode with others for the first time. Two weeks later, I did my first bike rally. I have ridden alone many times since then, but I prefer riding with others, especially in the organized events we call rallies.

Guess when I last rode alone? It was 5 May 1994. More than 14 years ago! Every ride I have done since then, and there have been hundreds, has been with other people. About 25 miles into today’s ride, I stopped on the side of a country road to urinate and eat a PowerBar. The weather was gorgeous. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was not yet hot. There were fields on both sides of the road. There was no traffic. The road (for five miles) was gravel. My mind went back to Tucson in the mid-1980s. What fun I had, riding in the desert! Every ride was an adventure. Every ride was a test of strength, willpower, and endurance. Every ride was an escape from the drudgery of grading student exams, practicing law, studying for preliminary exams, or writing my Ph.D. dissertation.

A week ago, as you may recall, I averaged 17.35 miles per hour for 98.8 miles. Much of it was in packs, which helped save energy. Today, having to break the wind by myself, I averaged 17.67 miles per hour for 48.6 miles. I fought the wind for just over 20 miles. I knew that when I reached Venus, I would fly back to my car, and I did. I cruised on Highway 67 at over 20 miles per hour for at least 10 miles, sometimes pedaling along at 23 miles per hour. My heart rate was low (107-112) and I felt strong as a bull. I wished it would never end. When I got to the big hill west of Cedar Hill, I got into my Pantani tuck to increase my speed, but I hit only 42.1 miles per hour because of a crosswind. I rode over Joe Pool Lake and made it back to my car by 11:15. By noon, I was home, and by 1:00, having walked Shelbie and showered, I was seated at my desk reading.

I hope you are having a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend, as I am. There were firecrackers and fireworks in my neighborhood the past two evenings. Fortunately, no houses burned down. The neighborhood smells of mesquite from the barbecues. I hope everyone is cooking tofu burgers!

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Shoot to Stun,” by Paul H. Robinson (Op-Ed, July 2), about the Supreme Court’s recent interpretation of the Second Amendment as giving “Americans the right to keep a loaded gun at home for their personal use”:

Mr. Robinson argues that with Tasers and the development of other less lethal weapons, it will become increasingly unlikely for people to use their constitutionally permitted handguns to defend themselves against intruders.

Unfortunately this is already the case: Americans overwhelmingly use their guns not on intruders, but on acquaintances, co-workers, friends, relatives or themselves. The self-defense argument has always been a stalking horse for a gun ownership right that most civilized societies have dismissed as untenable.

The affordability and effectiveness of less-than-lethal weapons will help put the lie to the gun lobby’s self-defense argument, but that will not be sufficient to lessen the number of guns—or 30,000 annual gun deaths—in the United States. In all probability, both are likely to increase.

I wish that the Supreme Court ruling would, as Mr. Robinson says, have little practical effect, but experience suggests otherwise.

Ken Rothchild
Upper Nyack, N.Y., July 2, 2008

Note from KBJ: Let me get this straight. Because some people misuse their guns, nobody may have one. Brilliant!

P. F. Strawson (1919-2006) on Liberal Society

What will be the attitude of one who experiences sympathy with a variety of conflicting ideals of life? It seems that he will be most at home in a liberal society, in a society in which there are variant moral environments but in which no ideal endeavours to engross, and determine the character of, the common morality. He will not argue in favour of such a society that it gives the best chance for the truth about life to prevail, for he will not consistently believe that there is such a thing as the truth about life. Nor will he argue in its favour that it has the best chance of producing a harmonious kingdom of ends, for he will not think of ends as necessarily capable of being harmonized. He will simply welcome the ethical diversity which the society makes possible, and in proportion as he values that diversity he will note that he is the natural, though perhaps the sympathetic, enemy of all those whose single intense vision of the ends of life drives them to try to make the requirements of the ideal coextensive with those of common social morality.

(P. F. Strawson, “Social Morality and Individual Ideal,” chap. 2 in his Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays [London: Methuen, 1974], 26-44, at 44 [essay first published in 1961])

Note from KBJ: Don’t be fooled by Strawson’s use of the term “liberal.” He is describing the conservative attitude toward progressivism, which seeks to impose a “single intense vision” on society.


This morning, on the way home from my bike ride, I paid $3.959 for regular unleaded gasoline at a local Shell station (in Arlington, Texas). Earlier, I saw the same grade of gasoline at another Shell station for $4.059. I’m glad I waited. What’re y’all payin’?