Saturday, 19 July 2008

“A Closet Radical with Dangerous Associations”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Eleanor Clift. Is it just me, or is she infatuated with Barack Obama?

A Year Ago


Cycling, Part 2

Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France. Here is tomorrow’s crucial stage.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

While Paul Krugman makes a strong argument for regulation of mortgage lending (“Fannie, Freddie and You,” column, July 14), clearly such regulation is not enough.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while not directly responsible for the current housing debacle, made their own unique contribution. As “government-sponsored enterprises,” they took excessive risks. Specifically, they kept an inadequate amount of capital on hand so that a small decline in assets or borrowing power left them in a highly vulnerable position.

We need disincentives to discourage reckless behavior. Markets fluctuate. Everyone knows that. Yet the two mortgage giants played fast and loose because they were sure that their investments—loans based on highly regulated lending practices and implicitly backed by the federal government—were safe.

Some mixture of professional and criminal penalties is needed for corporate managers who choose to take unnecessary risks. Further, the corporate sector should insist on adherence to financial standards as a cornerstone of ethical business practice.

Lissette M. Piedra
Urbana, Ill., July 15, 2008

Note from KBJ: If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want more reckless lending, bail out the reckless lenders.

Yankee Watch

Both the Rays and the Yankees won today, so Tampa Bay’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 61.

Addendum: When I wrote this post, my beloved Detroit Tigers were 48-48. Now they’re 48-49. Moments ago, they lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 11-10, in 10 innings. The Tigers blew a 6-0 first-inning lead. They gave up the tying run in the bottom of the ninth and the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. I expect another restless night’s sleep.


There was no bike rally today, so, to stay in shape, I did a ride of my own. I rode the same course as I did two weeks ago, out of Arlington Bowie High School. Weather conditions were the same (hot and humid), although the wind speed may have been less. This time, I measured the amount of gravel road. It was 4.5 miles. There wasn’t as much gravel as there was two weeks ago, so I surmise that it had just been poured on the road when I did the earlier ride. In Texas, this is called “chip seal.” First, tar is poured on the road; then gravel is poured onto the tar. Over time, it turns into (rough) pavement. So, to be honest, I should say that there is a 4.5-mile stretch of road with either gravel or chip seal. I honestly didn’t mind it. I have many routes laid out from nearly 19 years of Metroplex riding. I chose this route. I think of it as my private Paris-Roubaix.

Two weeks ago, I averaged 17.67 miles per hour on the 48.5-mile route. Today, even though I didn’t strive to go faster, I averaged 18.34 miles per hour. A small part of the increase is due to pack riding. That’s right. Even though I was out in the countryside on my own, I came upon a large pack of riders as I turned onto Highway 157. No fool, I jumped on the back. Alas, it lasted only two miles before I turned left on Highway 67 and headed toward Midlothian. It would have been nice to ride in a pack like that the entire way.

One of the first things that struck me about Texas, when I moved to College Station 20 years ago, is the friendliness of Texans. I’ll never forget my first day on the campus of Texas A&M University. People kept saying “Howdy.” At first, I looked behind me, figuring the greeting was for someone else. It was for me. A stranger! I guess Michiganders and Arizonans aren’t as friendly as Texans; otherwise, it wouldn’t have surprised me. Over the years, I have experienced Texas friendliness, hospitality, and generosity many times. Just today, two people stopped to inquire about me. On my way to Midlothian, something metallic fell off my bike. Or so I thought. I stopped, walked back a ways, and discovered a piece of gnarled wire. I must have hit it. As I was climbing aboard my bike to resume riding, a pickup truck pulled up. The man and woman (and their dog) wanted to know whether I was all right. I said I was. They said there were many bicyclists a couple of miles back. “Do you want a ride back there?” they asked. I said no, and thanked them. I said I had just been riding with the bicyclists.

Less than an hour later, I stopped along Highway 67 to urinate and eat a PowerBar. It was in the middle of nowhere. As I stood near my bike on the side of the road, a young man in a car slowed to ask whether I was all right. I said yes, so he rolled his window up and kept going. I’m sure there are friendly people everywhere, but I’d wager that Texans are the friendliest.

My maximum heart rate for the ride was 155. My average was 123. That’s one beat lower than two weeks ago, which indicates that I worked less hard today. I hit 41.7 miles per hour on the descent of Cedar Hill, even though I didn’t get into my Pantani tuck. I hit 42.1 two weeks ago. I burned 1,547 calories today. The best song, of many good ones, was this.

Addendum: The wind speed was indeed less. The average wind speed on 5 July (at DFW Airport) was 12.3 miles per hour. It was 10.2 miles per hour on 19 July. The official high temperature on both days was 100º Fahrenheit.