Sunday, 13 July 2008

Twenty Years Ago Yesterday

7-12-88 The American League won its second All-Star game in three years, and third in six, by defeating the National League, 2-1. The most unlikely person, Terry Steinbach, won the Most Valuable Player award. First, some background. Steinbach is a young catcher for the Oakland Athletics, whose fans stand accused of stuffing the ballot boxes for home-town players. Other Athletics named to the starting team include Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Canseco certainly deserves to start, but McGwire does not. As for Steinbach, he is hitting only .215 with four home runs and has been platooned with Ron Hassey at catcher. But there he was, in the starting lineup for tonight’s game. What did he do? Nothing less than hit a home run to the opposite field and drive in a run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. The one player who arguably shouldn’t have been in the starting lineup wins the game for the American League! That’s the way things go in All-Star games. As for my bets with Paul Baker, I won five dollars. Steinbach’s home run was the only one of the game. It was a good game, with lots of fine pitching and defense.

In political news, Michael Dukakis chose Lloyd Bentsen, a United States senator from Texas, as his running mate. Frankly, I was surprised, because Dukakis and Bentsen differ on several significant issues. How can they stand together as a team? But conventional wisdom has it that Dukakis—a Democrat—cannot win the election without Texas in particular and the South in general. Bentsen increases his chances of doing both of these things. Although I don’t know much about Bentsen, I’m glad that Dukakis didn’t select Senators John Glenn of Ohio or Albert Gore of Tennessee, both of whom were mentioned as candidates. Glenn, a former astronaut, is about as bland a personality as anyone I know, while Gore, as I’ve written in these pages, is a Tennessee blueblood—a child of wealth and privilege. I wouldn’t want either one to be president. Really, that’s what it comes down to. The vice president is unimportant unless and until something happens to the president. Bentsen is at least stately, if not satisfactorily liberal. [Bush/Quayle got 55.95% of the popular vote in Texas, thus winning all 29 of the state’s electoral votes.]


Here is an interesting op-ed column by United States senators Arlen Specter and Joseph Lieberman.


Here, hot off the press, is Barack Obama’s plan for Iraq. What questions would you like to ask him?


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France. Here is tomorrow’s stage. Note the mountaintop finish, which will sort things out as far as the general classification is concerned. It’s Bastille Day, so expect a Frenchman—I predict Sandy Casar—to go on a long, suicidal breakaway.

Addendum: Here is a New York Times story about three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

Baseball Notes

1. The Boston Red Sox won today, and the hated New York Yankees lost. Boston’s magic number to eliminate the Bronx Bombs is down to 61. The Yankees are twice as close to last place (three games in the loss column) as they are to first place (six games). It’s a great time—maybe the best time of all—to be a Yankee hater.

2. The best teams in Major League Baseball at the All-Star break are the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago Cubs. Both teams are 57-38 (.600). That would make a great World Series. The Cubs would lose, of course. Steve Bartman‘s watch would temporarily blind Alfonso Soriano in the ninth inning of the seventh game, causing Soriano to drop a routine fly ball. Bartman would thereupon be torn to pieces by other Cub fans, some of whom, consumed with rage, would eat his body parts.

3. My adopted Texas Rangers gave up 11 runs and 22 hits this afternoon in the brutal heat and humidity of Arlington. Luckily for Ranger fans, the Rangers scored 12 runs. The Rangers won four of seven games on the homestand against the Angels and the Chicago White Sox, both of whom lead their divisions. I can’t wait to watch Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, and Milton Bradley in Tuesday’s All-Star game. Get ready to make predictions: the winning team, the score, the Most Valuable Player, and the number of times A-Rod chokes.


Yesterday, in Weatherford, Texas, I did my 13th bike rally of the year and my 434th overall. (My goal, for those of you who are new to this blog, is to do 1,000 rallies.) The Peach Pedal (as it’s known) is in its 20th year. This was my 19th. I must have missed only the inaugural version. The rally began from a new place this year, just south of Interstate 20 at Weatherford High School. We used to ride around the Parker County Courthouse at the beginning of the rally, which was fun, albeit dangerous. The traffic in downtown Weatherford has gotten worse by the year, so the organizers (or city officials) must have decided that the rally had to be moved. The rally is in conjunction with the Parker County Peach Festival. (Yes, there were fresh peaches at the rest stops, and they, along with the watermelon and dill-pickle slices, were delicious.)

Several of my so-called friends showed up. (I tease.) Nobody was in a hurry to finish, so we rolled along at a leisurely pace. Much of the route was the same, but in the opposite direction. How different it looked! Hills that I’ve climbed many times became descents. A huge tree that was always on my left as I approached a rest stop was suddenly on my right. The rest stop itself was gone, a victim of change. But hey, change is good, right? So says Barack Obama.

The forecast was for 103º Fahrenheit, and we eventually reached 102º, but it wasn’t nearly that hot during the ride. It was in the low 80s at the 7:30 start and in the low 90s when we finished, shortly after 11:00. It was windy and humid, however, but that’s par for the course at the Peach Pedal. I might add that many hundreds of people—perhaps well over a thousand—showed up to ride. Vehicles were still coming in as I rode around the parking lot on my bike, looking for my friends. Some of the late-arriving cyclists probably got lost, as I did. (I drove about eight miles too far west before realizing my mistake.)

The ride was uneventful in the sense that there were no accidents or mechanical problems. Joe, Jason, Phil, Randy, and I stayed together almost the entire way. (Joe and his son Jason were on a tandem.) We talked, laughed, teased each other, and even whined when appropriate. (Randy has refined his whining technique to a fine art.) Phil rode well for a doddering old fool (I say that endearingly), while Joe and Jason held their own. As Jason gets stronger, it’s going to be increasingly hard to stay with them.

I had an average speed of 18.15 miles per hour after two hours. I averaged 18.40 miles per hour for the entire course a year ago, so I wanted to stay above 18.  Alas, I averaged only 17.34 miles per hour for the final 1:25:27 of the ride. That knocked me down to 17.81 for the day (61.0 miles). The final 10 miles or so were filled with rolling hills, which made it hard to sustain a fast pace. We did hardly any pack riding, so I suppose 17.81 miles per hour is nothing to be ashamed of. My maximum speed for the day was 33.2 miles per hour. I burned 1,810 calories. My maximum heart rate was 150 and my average heart rate 116. That tells me that I didn’t work very hard. But hey, sometimes boys just want to have fun!

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Stephen L. Carter makes a persuasive argument that affirmative action is merely a distraction from the real racial conundrum afflicting impoverished blacks.

While affirmative action has toppled historical barriers that restricted minorities from higher education and lucrative professions, a disturbingly large number of blacks and Latinos remain in a state of perpetual exile: to ghettos and barrios, and from college campuses.

Nowhere near a majority of minority members profit from racial or ethnic preferences. Indeed, seldom do the most vulnerable of these groups finish high school, let alone enjoy any advantage in college admissions courtesy of affirmative action.

The ingrained socioeconomic forces that propel these dismal dynamics in minority communities still haven’t been widely addressed or even acknowledged by mainstream America.

We need a deeper national discussion and understanding about race, culture and poverty, along with a concerted and committed effort to relieve the overarching circumstances that sentence many minority members to jail, poverty or death.

Wayne Trujillo
Denver, July 6, 2008

Note from KBJ: What sentences many minority members to jail, poverty, or death are bad choices. I am not responsible for other people’s bad choices.

A Year Ago


Leonard Nelson (1882-1927) on Interspecific Justice

Our analysis must not be misinterpreted as an attempt to champion altruism in relation to animals. It merely reaffirms the principle of justice. That is why there can be no general philosophical injunction that we subordinate our interests to those of animals under any circumstances. Each time we are confronted with a conflict between our own and an animal’s interest, we must decide, after making fair allowance for each, which of the two interests deserves to be given preference. Thus it may well be permitted to injure an animal’s interest in order to avoid injuring a preponderant interest of our own; but at the same time a limit is set to the extent of the injury, which is permitted only under condition that an actual conflict is involved—this must be proved separately in each case. After such proof has been supplied, we must ask further on which side lies the preponderant interest. In no event is it permissible to regard the animal’s interest as inferior without good reason, and to proceed to injure it.

(Leonard Nelson, System of Ethics, trans. Norbert Guterman [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956], 142 [first published in German in 1932])

Safire on Language