Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Old Runners Just Fade Away

So it's been a long time since I posted on running. Let's just say that much of the last year has been, at best, a mixed bag. I hurt my back last May, in one of those "getting older and have no idea why I am sore this morning" incidents. This back injury made it very hard for me to sit at my chair in my office--I missed a good deal of work--and made it difficult to run because I couldn't really get the stride right.

After about a month, this cleared up, and I had a pretty good fall. I ran a 1-hour, 38-minute half-marathon in November. Then, historic snow in December, and in January, making it hard to run in DC. And I had the flu, which took me three weeks to get over. I missed at least one full week of running, and parts of two more, with upper-respiratory problems, and probably another whole week and part of another to snow.

So my mileage has been way down. I am shooting for 20 miles a week, which is modest given past efforts but more reasonable given my current every-other-day running schedule. Frustration and more, over less.

Still, something lingers. Yesterday, on a bright, beautiful winter day--blue skies, westerly wind but nothing awful--I ran almost 8 miles at slightly better than 8-minute-a-mile pace overall. Not trying to run "fast" (a relative term for an old runner) but finding that I could run just a bit faster than I was, and a bit faster yet . . . still at a training pace, not winded, feeling good the whole time.

That was what it is supposed to feel like. Sun on my face, moving at a comfortable clip. I can live with the frustration if once every now and again it can feel like that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bomb [the] Power

So in the absence of posting, I've actually been reading. I just finished Garry Wills's Bomb Power yesterday, after having knocked off The Hawk and the Dove, a "joint" biography of Paul Nitze and George Kennan, and Arsenal of Democracy, a history of post-war national security politics. I highly recommend Hawk and Dove, and less strongly recommend Arsenal. Arsenal is one of those books that needed one more rewrite, to tighten, focus, emphasize. It also needed a conclusion to pull things together. Still a good read, but a little quick in spots and not as cooked as one would have liked. (Or at least as I would have liked.)

Bomb Power is a different thing. I agree with much of what Wills has to say. But I have to say that, given recent events, I have become increasingly skeptical of the argument that presidential power over foreign affairs/war powers must be "returned" to Congress. I agree that the Framers invested the Congress with many war powers that have atrophied . . . and that presidents, including the present one, will abuse those powers . . . but does anyone really think that the solution is congressional authority? Those folks can't do crap. If the foreign policy of the United States is subject to a 60-vote rule in the Senate, then we are doomed.

What Wills really means, I think, is that we need a much more "humble," much less aggressive foreign policy. And I would agree with that. For example, I think we could easily forswear invading any countries for fifty years and not suffer for it. But that's not the direction he actually goes in. He goes in the direction of congressional power.

Now I think it's an open question whether congressional control of foreign policy would result in a more humble foreign policy. It could result in a "one-way ratchet" toward hawkdom. See Arsenal of Democracy.

As always, people, think these things through clearly, or you just end up in a place that doesn't make sense. Like Absurdistan--a novel, btw, that I did not like.

Summer post on Tim Weiner's history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, which I still highly recommend.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Worst Person" in the Vandy World?

Surprisingly, the answer is neither me nor #3. But I think most of the Vandy alums could make a pretty good guess (if you didn't already see the show). Note that he made it not just once. Twice! 2/9 and 2/11. Gold and Bronze.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowverkill Is What They Are Calling It

Just a quick note from inside the maelstrom that is the Great Blizzard of 2010. We have well over three feet of snow, now, and it's still coming down, although it's hard to say how fast, given 30-40 mile wind gusts. That three feet is a guess, based on what I've seen on teevee and having just cleared snow off the back porch roof at lunchtime. There was at least three feet on that roof.

Which brings up the roof on top of the house. Luckily, we don't have a flat roof. I'm surprised that more of those haven't fallen in, yet, at least we haven't seen much about that on the teevee. Large facilities (skating rinks, warehouses) are probably at most risk, given the size issue. Row houses can't hold that much snow, given how narrow they are. Ours, e.g., is just 18 feet across, and some are even narrower--16 feet is a pretty standard width in some areas. The gambrel-style roof (I think that's the right term; it's kind of a one-sided mansard) means that the front of the house, with the exception of the dormer, doesn't actually hold much snow. (The dormer has a lot of ice, which is a bit worrying.) So far, so good.

The District is almost completely shut down. Metro is running, single-track, underground only. So almost half of the system (the above-ground stations) are closed. No Metro buses. All three jurisdictions (Md, DC, Va) had to suspend plowing during the whiteout conditions. (Seriously--it looked like a Tea Party convention out there!) I haven't seen much traffic--one or two cars going down Mass Ave., every now and then. We have heard a fair number of sirens (mostly fire) throughout the day. Right now I can hear an ambulance (not that close). (Update) They have plowed Mass Ave., but nothing moving out there, in short.

The government is likely closed all week. I can't see how they can reopen without Metro, and Metro can't open until they get the tracks plowed--which they can't do until after this stops. They are saying the winds keep up through most of the night, but that the snow should end just after dark. Maybe things can reopen by Friday.

As long as the roof holds--and if we have problems, it's going to be a serious problem for many, many more people--my big concern is the power. We're lucky that we haven't lost power--lots of folks have been dark since the snow Friday-Saturday of last week. We're close enough to the government buildings that I think we get some priority. The power did go out for a second or two last night, which scared us. Given the wind and the snow, if you lose power at this point, I think that you're just going to be dark for several days. Normally, you'd just load up and go to a hotel. Well, good luck with that today.

My next concern is water. A few water main breaks and the system can go down. We did lose water pressure once yesterday, momentarily. But that, too, seems to have passed.

So, we are hanging in there. I'd be curious to hear from B'more. Stay warm, people. The wind chill is 6 degrees, right now, so no new snow pix until tomorrow.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The End of the World . . . Snowmaggedon

Friday, February 05, 2010

Me & My Girls

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Suburban Turmoil

Who wins the Hyperbole Bowl when Atrios has called this piece "completely idiotic." Kotkin makes some interesting (and not always wrong) arguments in defense of suburbia, but might I add to the objections already raised that it is a bit strange to assert: 1) that Obama is waging war on suburbanites, 2) that suburbanites are rebelling for having gotten nothing out of the bailouts, stimulus, etc., and 3) that suburbies want nothing more than leafy trees, smooth roads, and cars, cars, cars, when 4) Obama is the guy who bailed out the auto makers and their big, big cars while investing in roads, roads, roads!!! Or when 5) all those "green jobs" are just as likely to benefit edge cities as inner cores? Or when 6) vibrant, livable, accessible city centers benefit the suburbanites who surround them. I could go on (see the comments readers made to Kotkin's essay that come below it--often quite sharp). Kotkin's is a pre-formed narrative in search of pegs.

Might this also just be more of that grievance politics the right has so perfected? Take a dominant group (whites, men, Christians. . . suburbies!) and convince them they are being oppressed by their "other" at the exact moment said other has crawled out of the hole the more dominant group has dug for it? Not that I have any idea what this guy's politics otherwise are. It just seems like his argument is more an exercise in identity formation than an analysis of empirical realities.