Monday, 28 July 2008

Yankee Watch

Both the Rays and the Yankees lost tonight, so Tampa Bay’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 55.


Anyone who doubts that cellphones cause brain damage should study the behavior of cellphone users. Consider:

1. This past Saturday, I was driving in the middle of three lanes on Interstate 35W. I came upon a slow-moving vehicle. I waited for vehicles in the fast lane to clear and went past. As I did so, I saw that the driver was talking on a cellphone. She was oblivious to what was happening around her. After I passed, I moved back into the middle lane. I could see in my rearview mirror that many other cars had to make the same maneuver. It was like water flowing past a rock in a river. This woman, for the sake of her own convenience (she didn’t want to have to accommodate vehicles entering the highway), inconvenienced dozens of others. Actually, it’s worse than that. She endangered dozens of others.

2. A few minutes ago, as I was watching the baseball game between my adoptive Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners, I saw a fat man standing in the stands behind the hitter. He was waving frantically with a stupid smile on his face. He had a cellphone pressed to his ear with his other hand. Someone explain this to me. Almost certainly, the person to whom he was speaking has seen him before, so he wasn’t saying, “Here’s what I look like.” Unless he was proving to the person to whom he was speaking that he was, indeed, at the ballpark (and how likely is that?), what was the point of this? Waving to the camera while talking on a cellphone was cute for about five minutes. It hasn’t been cute since.

3. On my walks with Shelbie, I see people standing in their driveways or front yards talking on their cellphones. Get in the house, you morons!

4. At bike rallies, as I prepare my bike, I hear people talking to their friends. “Where you at?” Pause. “I’m parked behind the building.” Pause. “I’ve already been to registration.” Pause. “See ya.” This sort of thing was fun when I was eight and had a walkie-talkie. It’s idiotic when adults do it.

5. I hear people talking on their cellphones in the grocery store and other public places. Their voices are much louder than they would be if their interlocutors were standing beside them. Do they not realize this? Do they not care?

Brain damage, I tell you.

Animal Ethics

Here is my latest post.


Ouch. The good news is that Mariano Rivera won’t have to embarrass himself tonight.


Here is your entertainment for this Monday evening. I would include the song on my list of 25 all-time favorites.

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Women Are Now Equal as Victims of Poor Economy” (front page, July 22):

After years of increasing participation in the work force, women, you report, have reached a much less desirable milestone: a fall in the percentage who are working. But contrary to the suggestion that women are now on par with men because they’re leaving the work force at similar rates, we know that women have always lagged well behind in good times and bad.

This is especially true for low-income women and women of color who face multiple barriers to economic security: race, gender and class.

Today, despite decades of struggle for job access and pay equity, women are paid 77 cents for each dollar a man makes; the disparity is worse for African-American women, who earn 62 cents, and Latinas, who earn 53 cents.

Nearly 10.5 million women are single parents (as compared with 2.5 million single fathers). For them, opting out for any reason—like motherhood or education—is not viable.

Already disadvantaged by years of workplace and legislative failures, women and their families face an increasingly insecure future if policies are not adjusted to meet their ever more pressing needs.

Sara K. Gould
President and Chief Executive
Ms. Foundation for Women
New York, July 22, 2008

Note from KBJ: Justice requires that likes be treated alike. It does not require that unlikes be treated alike. Indeed, it forbids it. It follows that a woman is being treated unjustly only if she is paid less than a man for doing the same work for the same employer. If the letter writer has information that woman W and man M are doing the same work for the same employer, but that M is being paid more than W, then she has found a case of injustice. She provides no such information in this letter. Remember this whenever you hear the “77 cents” mantra.


I’m thinking of moving this blog to TypePad. I spent a few hours today signing up for a 14-day trial account and tinkering with the format. Here is the result. What do you think? Better? Worse? About the same?

Addendum: I should explain why I’m contemplating a move. Lately, I’ve been getting a “CPU Exceeded” error when I visit my blog. At least one reader has notified me that he received it as well. Needless to say, this is infuriating. I’ve been on the telephone with BlueHost technicians for several days. It appears that my archive has grown so big that it’s slowing my blog down and making the BlueHost processor work too hard. It responds to this by temporarily suspending my account. The solution—if indeed this is the problem—is to move my archive. I can move it to another WordPress blog, but I’m thinking of moving it to TypePad. I just imported the month of November 2003 (my first blogging month) to the new blog. When I delete it from this blog, it should reduce the demand this blog makes on the BlueHost server. I’ll import a month’s worth of entries every week, so it won’t seem like work. Perhaps eventually I’ll leave WordPress and BlueHost behind and go over to TypePad. In the meantime, nothing will change. Keep coming here. The new blog will simply serve as my (ever-growing) archive.

Twenty Years Ago Yesterday

7-27-88 Wednesday. Today marks the fourth anniversary of the purchase of my second bicycle. Four years ago today I traded in my Sears [Free Spirit] bike for the bike that I now have. A day later I was on my way across Arizona with it. In those four years, I rode 9382.6 miles, an average of 2345.6 miles per year. I’ve ridden 11,634.7 miles altogether, so 80.6% of my riding has been on my current bike. That’s impressive, especially when you consider that it was put together for me by mechanics at the Speedway Bicycle Shop. The deal was as follows: I trade in my Sears bike and pay eighty dollars, in return for which I get a rebuilt bike. The frame was old and rusted, but all of the accessories, including the wheels, derailleur, brakes, gears, and sprocket, were new. About the only major repairs I’ve had to make since then are replacing the main sprocket early in 1986 and having the derailleur overhauled in 1987. The bike has taken me across the state [of Arizona] in five days, gotten me from Bisbee to the Chiricahua National Monument to Cochise, carried me safely across the Tucson deserts dozens of times, and today, finally, gotten me to the top of Mount Lemmon.

I’ve been planning this ride for two days. The idea, however, is old. I vowed several months ago to make it to Mount Lemmon before leaving Tucson. Traffic is heavy on weekends, so a weekday ride was best. The weather forecast was as good as can be expected for late July and I spent an hour last night preparing Gatorade and readying my panniers. At seven o’clock this morning, having packed a lunch and eaten scrambled eggs and toast, I left the apartment. The first eight miles were easy; in fact, they’re part of my regular Crazy Route. But then the climbing began—or would have, had construction crews not thwarted my plans. The first three miles of the Catalina Highway are undergoing widening and resurfacing this summer. I got there just in time to be hauled in a National Forest Service truck. But then I was back at it, climbing the winding mountain road. I covered 10.31 miles the first hour, 6.76 the second, 7.05 the third, 8.11 the fourth, 11.20 the fifth, and 23.29 the sixth. My average speed for the entire ride of 70.04 miles was 11.26 miles per hour. I averaged 7.91 miles per hour on the way up (33.13 miles) and 18.15 on the way down (36.91 miles).

Because of the road work, the Catalina Highway is impassable between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 3:30 P.M. on Wednesdays. Thus, I had a choice: Come back some other day, or proceed up the mountain and stay there until 3:30. I opted to go up the mountain, because I couldn’t get down until 3:30 anyway. The weather was great: blue skies, warm temperatures, and only a light breeze. I listened to [cassette] tapes and radio, pausing every now and then to take a picture of the surrounding peaks. With the road closed, the only traffic that I had to put up with were those people who planned to make a day of it. I felt like I had the mountain to myself. By the time I got to Windy Point I had accumulated nineteen miles. I’ve been there on my bike twice before, so it was nothing special. After that, however, I was on new bicycling terrain. The only time I’ve been further [sic; should be “farther”] up the highway was in Rob McLean’s truck, several months ago. I plodded on, enjoying the change in scenery from desert scrub to tall pine trees. The higher I went, the cooler it got. A small deer crossed the road in front of me, oblivious to my presence and apparently not frightened by the intruder.

At the thirty-mile mark I reached the turnoff to Summerhaven, a small community near the top of the mountain. My plans included going there, but first I wanted to reach the end of the paved road. Dark clouds had moved overhead, threatening rain. The next mile and a half was steep. I paused briefly to eat my peanut butter and jam sandwiches, then pressed on. By the time I got to Ski Valley, where Rob and I watched skiers, the rain had commenced. I put on my green plastic rain gear and waited. But since it wasn’t coming down hard, I decided to press on. The final stretch of road—nearly two miles—was extremely steep and winding. It was also poorly maintained, so I had to swerve repeatedly to avoid potholes. Rain was falling. Down my speed went: to seven, six, five, four, three miles per hour. My breath came out in short, furious bursts, echoing against the wall of trees. My face was wet with rain and perspiration.

Finally, after several minutes of intense effort bordering on agony, I reached the top of Mount Lemmon and the end of the road. The summit contains two small astronomical observatories, a house, and sheds for the emergency and road-maintenance vehicles. Although I was at the highest point in the entire Santa Catalina Mountain range, I was unable to see the city or anything else. There were too many trees blocking my view. I took a picture, composed myself, sipped some water, and headed down. Lightning ripped the sky. Electricity chattered through the wires in the generating station nearby. The rain continued to fall, though not hard enough to bother me.

Needless to say, I had to be very careful on the way down. Not only was the road steep and winding, but my brakes, which are not good to begin with, were wet. I rode conservatively and made it to Ski Valley with no problems. I cruised past the parking lots and within seconds turned off to Summerhaven. Just as I arrived at the general store, the rain came down with a vengeance. I put my bike under the awning and went inside to buy orange juice and trail mix. For the next hour and a half I sat or lay on the chairs on the store’s deck, watching the rain come down and thinking about what lay ahead of me. There was still no hurry to get down the mountain. Although I was cold and wet, the plastic rain gear kept me tolerably free of the rain and helped preserve my body heat. Imagine: worrying about hypothermia when the desert temperature was over a hundred degrees [Fahrenheit]! (It reached 102 degrees in the valley.) That’s the kind of difference we’re talking about between Tucson and Summerhaven. They’re different worlds. After a valuable rest, I filled my water bottles at the public restroom and headed home. The storm appeared to have passed, and as I got further down the mountain the road became drier and the air warmer. It felt good.

I paused on the downhill ride to take my plastic rain gear off. With the wind blowing in my ears, there was no sense trying to listen to a baseball game or music, so I put my [Sony] Walkman in the pannier with my [Pentax K1000] camera. There was nothing to do but enjoy the long coast home. I tried three times to reach forty miles per hour, but came up short every time. I ended up with a top speed of thirty-nine miles per hour. Not only is the road too winding to go any faster, but it’s not that steep. It’s a long, gradual descent. Luckily for me, I was able to ride my bike through the construction zone on the way back. It’s not good for my bike, but I relished the chance to get three easy miles. My goal for the day was seventy. Bumpety-bumpety-bump. Dust was everywhere. I kept my mouth closed, my hands on the brakes, and my eye on the road. Ominous clouds covered the sky when I reached the flat portion of the Catalina Highway. I made it home at 4:14 P.M., more than nine hours after I left the apartment and just before the rain began. I’m not only a survivor but a victor. Today I achieved one of my oldest and dearest goals, a ride to 9157-foot Mount Lemmon. It’s the highest point in all of Tucson, higher than Mica Mountain (at 8664 feet).


Mark my words. The journalistic adoration of Our Savior will hurt him. It’s called a “backlash.”

D. C. Stove (1927-1994) on Idealism

In 1967, what were the student-opponents of the American involvement in Vietnam most admired for? Why, for their ‘idealism’—everyone knows that. This meant, essentially, that they needed to be convinced only that that involvement was wrong, in order to conclude, at once and with certainty, that it ought to be ended, no matter what the consequences might be. This may or may not have been idealism, I do not know; but I do know that it was bad logic. The teachers of those students could have done both an intellectual and a public service, by pointing out the fallacy. But I do not think they often did.

(D. C. Stove, “Why You Should Be a Conservative,” Proceedings of the Russellian Society 13 [1988]: 1-13, at 10 [italics in original])