Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Finished

OK, so I've been a bad blogger, or a very busy person, lately. Or both. But I did finish the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday, in 4 hours, 10 minutes, and 33 seconds. A little slower than I had hoped, but not bad all things considered. If I had run a smarter race, i.e., gone out more slowly, I may have had a shot at breaking 4 hours, but I really ran out of gas after 19 miles. Which means I had a lot of trouble on the 14th St. bridge, which is hard--and I'm talking about the concrete. OUCH.

To be honest, I actually had a lot of fun. It hurt, a little, but the sense of accomplishment, the crowds, etc. But with that said, this may be my last one for awhile. I think I'm going to focus on "shorter" races--like 10-milers and half-marathons.

Photos (of me!) from the race at this link. I think that you can see the pain in some of them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quote of the Week

À propos our debate below on the impeding war between the Turks and Kurdish separtists in Iraq, the quote of the week must go to an anonymous Kurd:

"The United States 'is like a man with two wives,' said one Iraqi Kurd in Sulaimaniya. 'They quarrel, but he doesn’t want to lose either of them.'"

Hey, maybe Romney could figure out a way to make them both happy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


There's an excellent article over at The American Prospect on Bush's handling of American foreign policy and the likely outcome -- WWIII. Unless some drastic steps are taken to avert our current direction, something big's gotta give in the next 9 months, what with:

1. Turkey amassing troops on the border of Iraq, lobbing shells over there, and making cross-border incursions. When these prove ineffectual, as they will, if they send in a large ground force, the outcome will proceed in unpredictable and inflammatory ways. Once one nation's army goes in, then others will be tempted to follow suit. One can easily imagine that the US and Turkey have had secret talks about rewarding Turkey with parts of northern Iraq if they support a US strike on Iran.

2. The US has designated Iran's army a terrorist organization, has imposed a new round of unilateral economic sanctions, and is fabricating or exaggerating Iran's threat to the US, especially to our soldiers in Iraq. The Bush administration is also refusing to talk with the Iranian leaders in any meaningful way and is angling for regime change by supporting groups within Iran to destabilize it. The Bush administration has also, in the latest round of budget talks, requested additional funds to equip Stealth Bombers with bunker-buster bombs for a pressing need, which can only be to bomb Iran.

3. Bush himself, in what seemed liked unscripted comments, referred to the present situation in Iran as one that could lead to WWWIII (at least he's not so whacked like some on the wing-nut right as to call it WWIV). This was significant because the comments were unguarded and akin to a nervous tick. They reveal his mindset and the types of conversations he's having in the oval office with The Dick, who by the way recently rachetted up his rhetoric on Iran in ways that sound eerily similar to his pronouncements on Iraq prior to our invasion of that country.

4. Russia is afraid of US expansion of army bases and missile defense systems into Eastern Europe, especially the area of the Caspian Sea, and is positioning itself to oppose the US in any way possible. This includes siding with Iran.

5. Some South American countries (Cuba, Venezuela...) are also looking to knock the US down a peg. They will side with Iran and Iran's allies.

As the Chinese proverb has it, we live in interesting times. Dangerously interesting. Speaking of the Chinese, not only are they keeping the US dollar from hitting an even lower rock bottom, their economy just jumped over Germany's. If we bomb Iran and start WWIII, they will probably do quite well when all the dust settles -- this time they'll be the ones who sit back and let each side whack at each other for a while.

Update I: WaPo is running this article today in which oil industry experts are quoted as saying a strike on Iran is unlikely because it would cause oil prices to surge. Since when have Bush, Cheney and the neocons done anything but heap scorn upon real experts? Besides, I hear Bush likes surges.

Update II: Oil is trading in Asia today at a new record above $92/barrel in response to the US's new sanctions on Iran. This is getting awfully close to the record price in 1980 in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon

As Frances and I gird our loins for battle--whatever the hell that means--you can ponder the course of the marathon at this fancy website. Here's hoping that the weather forecast for Sunday holds up--right now, sunny, mid-60's for a high.

Btw, the knee (discussed here) still feels good. Looks like all systems are go.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Prediction Was a Little Off

OK, so it wasn't the Tribe in six. I have to say, I don't remember the last time I was this disappointed by a sporting event. Not last year, when the Tigers actually made the World Series. There's a big difference between making the Series and losing, and not making it.

But even worse, the Tribe was up three games to one and lost three straight. Just not the way to end a very successful season, overall.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dores Tame Cocks

(No this is not a sophomoric reference to my last post. Shame on you.)

Go Vandy! On yet another upset Saturday, Vandy pulled off the biggest upset in school history, beating the #6 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks 17-6 on the road in Columbia. Steve Spurrier looked stunned. How big was this? This is only the fourth time in Vandy history that the Dores have beaten a top ten team, and it was the first EVER on the road. This also ties their best win ever, against #6 LSU in 1937--70 years ago. That might not be so surprising if Vandy didn't play in the SEC, where facing off against top ten teams happens at least a few times every year. The last time Vandy upset a top tenner was #8 Florida in 1974.

OK, so the Gamecocks were overrated. Who isn't this year? Parity rules!

Wizard Goes Poof

Maybe Ian MacKellan has been playing the wrong wizard all along. Turns out that Albus Dumbledore likes the laddies. Too bad Jerry Falwell didn't live to hear about this--he'd surely out-Tinkie Winkie himself right before his head exploded.

Thanks for the tip goes to Loquacious McD, who just got back from an evening of Q&A with J.K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall, where the pink bombshell got dropped. The context: given Dumbledore's celebration of love as the most powerful force, did he ever experience it himself? A: yes, with Grindelwald the evil wizard he defeated in his youth. OK, now here's my question. If AD's one big love turned out to be. . . EVIL, and AD's crush prevented him from seeing it until it was almost too late, why would he go on to see love as a force of redemption rather than of temptation and distraction?

Gotta admit. This is a great (if unnecessary) twist, especially in an overtly Christian allegory. But I'm not sure the logic holds up.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Roe Rudy Roe

"Values voters," we hear, are getting night sweats over the GOP candidates this year. Rudy's a pro-choice, pro-gay, cousin-marrying, serial adulterer; Mitt's a Taxachusetts flip-flopping liberal--and a freaky deaky cultist, to boot; McCain opposes torture and apparently once said something critical of George W. Christ; and Fred's a one-time abortion lobbyist and McCainiac who has to shamelessly grovel his audience for applause. Perkins and Dobson and the rest of the dunkin' GOnuts might even support a third party candidate if they could find one.

While I can't help but enjoy the bedwetting on the right, I also suspect this is much ado about nothing. Every last one of those frontrunners is a scheming panderbot of the first order. (OK, maybe not St. John, who has sold only half his soul--the half we liked.) They all know that the current dynamics of the GOP are still FOX and Rovean base politics. Even the hated Rudy will bend over backward to give them whatever they want. More so, since he knows he needs to establish his bona fides with the right. Sure, invading Iran in January 2009 will help him with that crowd. But will it be enough? No. They'll get their judges. And Dems in the Senate will cave in lest the press whine that Rudy's not getting his bipartisan honeymoon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tribe in Six

That's my prediction. The Sox can't put Beckett out there again, can they?

A Big Fat No

Big surprise. The sovereign Iraqi government is saying a big fat "NO" to permanent American military bases in Iraq, taking the unusual step of delivering the message directly to the highest office in the land, that of The Dick's.

Meanwhile America continues to build at least 4 super-huge military bases in Iraq with American taxpayers' dollars. I believe #3 once quoted a bar from Kansas to sum up the Bush administration's definition of permanent: "Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky." And American politicians, including Democrats like Harold Ford, Jr. and H. Clinton, continue to discuss Iraq as if it's one of our colonies. Kinda hard to believe they could do so without blushing, given that America's birthright was won by an insurgency to oust "occupiers" who, if we leave aside the question of native peoples, had more claim on America than we certainly do on Iraq.

Vae victis.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Big-Time Manny Love

Yeah, who cares if the Red Sox lose tonight? It's really not a big deal.

But on Wednesday, for reasons known only to himself, Ramirez decided to speak to the media before the Red Sox' optional workout at Jacobs Field. And, well, it must comfort the denizens of Red Sox Nation -- who might be all worked up about facing elimination -- to hear Ramirez's take, which can be boiled down to one thought: It doesn't matter if the Red Sox win or lose.

"Why should we panic?" Ramirez said. " . . . We're just going to go play the game, and move on. If it doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like the end of the world or something."


Gold Medal

So Congress awarded the "Dalai Lama himself" a gold medal. Hmm. I'm a little disappointed, myself, because I figure that I missed the race. I mean, I'm positive I could take that guy over any distance. Unless he has the ability to teleport himself or something.

But if you beat the Dalai Lama, maybe he denies you "total consciousness":

Carl Spackler: So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Like a Million Bucks

That's how good I felt on this morning's 12-mile run. Good thing, too, since the Marine Corps Marathon is in two weeks. As some of you may know, I hurt my left knee on the 17-mile training run awhile back. I had to take a few weeks off running, cross-training on the elliptical trainer, etc. At a few points, I probably would have given up on running Marine Corps this year, but for the support (and stubbornness) of the better half. But last week, I was able to run 20 miles without any pain or trouble; in fact, I felt better on that 20-mile training run than I can remember feeling on a 20-miler in a long time.

Anyway, it was a beautiful fall morning here--it's finally cooled off--and the leaves are starting to change. Autumn light on yellowing leaves . . . or are the leaves just dying?

Because it's been so dry here that Rock Creek--I ran in Rock Creek Park this morning, from P Street to Boulder Bridge and back--was more rock than creek, if you get my drift. Yesterday, btw, I went hiking along the Potomac, and at one point, I became slightly confused about where I was because I couldn't bring myself to believe that the stream next to the trail was actually the "mighty" Potomac. Large stretches of the river bottom were exposed, and there were sections that looked like one might actually ford across. (I didn't try, of course.)

Just our luck, it will pour on the 28th.

Ohio State Number One?

With the top- and second-ranked teams losing yesterday--another Saturday of upsets, with Kentucky knocking off LSU in overtime, and the Beavers of Oregon State knocking off Cal, a team obviously not the second-best in the land--that leaves Ohio State as the obvious number one, at least in the traditional polls, right? And Boston College as the number two? South Florida as number three?

Oh, and the Indians pull even with the BoSox, later than I could stay up, I have to admit. But I'm watching the highlights now.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm Old

Homecoming actually sounds like fun.

Rising Star Amar

Recently finished this year's con law "It Book," Akhil Reed Amar's America's Constitution: A Biography. I went in skeptical. Most of what I had known about Amar was his argument that the Article V amending process is "non-exclusivist," i.e., popular sovereignty trumps strict textual procedure, making possible alternative methods such as a convention called by Congress rather than the states, or even a national referendum. Still not persuaded. Amar relies heavily on James Wilson here--extrapolated--but his hurdles are high and a single founder (no matter how great, and Wilson was that) won't clear them. Can you imagine a Congress proposing such an option AND a corresponding Supreme Court accepting such an amendment as legitimate? I can't.

Article V aside, however, the rest of the book was an exuberant surprise. Amar's thesis is that "the Founders' Constitution was more democratic, more slavocratic, and more geostrategically inspired than is generally recognized, and that subsequent amendments deepened the document's democratic and geostrategic dimensions while eventually reversing its slavocratic tilt" (471). In other words, the founders of 1787 gave us a Jacksonian constitution, leading, not so surprisingly, to a Jacksonian early republic. Amar's major target is the classic Beardian view that Philadelphia was a reactionary forum for property-owner gripes, leading to late-19th century social Darwinism. Sheer proximity of cause and effect adds to the plausibility of Amar's reading contra Beard's. In comparing the founders' work to preexisting state cons, English law, and the Articles of Confederation, Amar draws attention to oft-ignored democratizing features of the constitution: fixed and frequent elections, the ban on titles of nobility, new governmental transparency, emphasis on juries, and even relaxation of property-based suffrage for ratification itself. Before reading Amar, it had never occurred to me that age restrictions for office were designed primarily to curtail the ascendance of "favorite sons."

Amar also offers a convincing explanation of the electoral college as a device intended to protect slave states, since 3/5 apportionment and state-based accounting of electoral votes would give the South a disproportionate advantage in presidential elections, a scheme that played out in the early republic's resultant leadership. Practicality played a role too, since the EC allowed the new national government to outsource electoral rules and mechanisms to the states rather than creating a contentious national system. But Amar shows pretty conclusively that the states most opposed to direct election were also those most attached to slavery (e.g., South Carolina).

There's a lot here, and Amar is especially strong on the Civil War amendments and the Progressive era reforms, giving a critique of Bruce Ackerman's recent writing. Amar also offers a scathing attack on the Rehnquist court's 11th amendment "state sovereign immunity" jurisprudence. I won't give you the full summary of the book or my reservations about it (he dodges the big issues on legislative-executive conflicts). Given the influence it's sure to exert on the next generation of constitutional scholars, you might want to give it your own read.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Air Superiority

Best use of F-16's since "Top Gun."

If you ask me, it's just a shame that the "shoot-down" order wasn't given from an "undisclosed location," if you get my drift.

Update: Actually, I'm not sure that they were F-16's in "Top Gun." But who cares?

How Cold

The Yankees, it is now being reported, have de-activated Roger Clemens for the rest of the playoffs (in theory, he's stll eligible for the World Series, but, in reality, that's unlikely gven the healing curve for a 45-year-old). Sure, he hurt his hamstring last night, but that's brutal. To effectively cut the guy--one of the greats of all time--on the night after he pitched, while the team is in the thick of the playoffs. Just. Not. Right.

Marathon Heat

So yesterday's Chicago marathon was canceled, midway through, because of heat. The temperature reached 88, and about 300 runners had to be taken to the medical tent or the hospital because of the heat. One runner (from Michigan) died. (One runner also died in the Army 10-Miler here, yesterday, where it got into the 90s. The cause of death in that case has not been made public, but it was probably heat-related.)

Having run a number of marathons, at least one where the temperature by the end approached 80, I can say that the idea of a "fall" marathon needs some revision. With changes to the climate, the risk of an "extraordinarily hot" Sunday in the first week of October, in Chicago, is so great that they need to move the date, at least a few weeks into October. Now, that would bring the marathon into conflict with the Marine Corps and New York marathons, but that shouldn't matter all that much. Few runners are going to run more than one, after all.

Btw, the Philadelphia marathon, which is normally scheduled the week after Thanksgiving, is your best bet for seasonable weather. Unless, of course, it's super cold that weekend.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

God Smites Yankees

And yet, somehow, you guys remain atheists.

The Plutocrats vs. Hierophantnatics in the GOP

The Republican primary race just got real interesting with the declaration by Dobson and friends that they won’t support any candidate of the plutocratic wing of the Republican party who is not anti-abortion (that means you, Rudy!. For more on this topic see our old thread here). To think that fundamentalist Christians would just quietly vote for a Republican no matter what, is not to understand the nature of Christian fundamentalism in America. The plutocrats of the Republican party have a tough choice: either they must tie their boat permanently to the religious fundamental wing-nuts, or face defeat. Since the love of money is the root of all evil, I suspect they’ll have an aversion to Rudy and a conversion to some other more godly candidate on the road to Iowa.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Packin' Heat, Beyatch

Would an armed faculty have fewer discipline problems? Sign me up. Got a few scores to settle, heh heh. OOPS. He wants to arm the students too. And apparently the Admissions office. And the janitorial staff.

I'll admit that I'm intrigued by the prospect of gay Marxist English professors ambling around wearing a mobile arsenal of weaponry. After all, if the Bushies have changed our lefty minds about anything it is that gun control is deeply wrong and that liberals too should buy guns. Lots and lots of guns. But students? Them people is craaaazy. Talk about grade inflation!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Revenge of the Lofton

Back in July, I predicted that the return of Kenny Lofton made the Indians the Tribe of Destiny, or something like that. Tonight, Lofton is showing why he's always been a fan favorite. He's a gamer.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Under-rated Manny Love

So I'm watching the ALDS, and I swear Steve Stone just said that base-running is an under-rated (maybe underestimated) part of Manny Ramirez's game. Um, sure. Manny is a good baserunner . . . maybe great!

To say that Manny is an understimated baserunner is like saying that one of the underestimated features of a WWII flamethrower was that it would burst into flame if hit by tracer rounds. Like Manny--the best natural hitter in the game today, and for a lo-o-ong time--the flamethrower was good at some things, like blasting Axis enemies in pillboxes. But sometimes the flamethrower would blow up on the wrong side. That's Manny's baserunning.

Update: In comments, da Great one says to check out this post, and he's right.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Heard on the Shuttle

"Happy hour is when you either don't get drunk enough, or get too drunk to go out later."

Aren't these pretty much contradictory? Doesn't the second suggest that the goal is not too get so drunk? Or is there a happy medium, "drunk enough"? (It may be in bad taste to run this right after a baby post. But this was an undergrad's statement, not a statement of my life philosophy.)


A Boo Update. Two fairly recent pics of Lang doing her best tricks: standing with one hand free, and next, waving. The pics also show her vocabulary in its near entirety. If you guessed "cat," "dog," and "Uncle Cletus," you would be correct. Her accuracy could still use some work. Flash cards!