Friday, November 7, 2014

Optum Pro Cycling Announces 2015 Women's Team

As usual, there are some departures and arrivals at one of the most successful American women's cycling squads in the aftermath of the 2014 road racing season.

Canadian all-rounder Denise Ramsden, originally from the remote community of Hay River, Northwest Territories, has decided to throttle back her racing somewhat, turning down a contract extension with Optum and joining the Trek Red Truck team. Criterium star Lauren Hall and 2013 national road racing champion Jade Wilcoxson are also leaving the team.

Canadian climber Lex Albrecht will be rejoining Optum after having been gone for two years. Veteran Ally Stacher moves over from the Specialized-Lululemon team, time trial specialist Allison Tetrick arrives from Astana-Be Pink, Canadian track rider Jasmine Glaesser and collegian Ariane Horbach are also joining the Minneapolis-based crew that includes triple Canadian champion Leah Kirchmann, NRC national champion Janel Holcomb, Brianna Walle, Maura Kinsella and Annie Ewart.

Ally Stacher
Lex Albrecht
Allison Tetrick

Jasmine Glaesser
Ariane Horbach

The Utility of Macro-Economic Statistics

In this piece on the Cobden Center website Dr. Frank Shostak explains why dubious government economic statistics are meaningless in the free market:

"What possible use can an entrepreneur make out of information about the rate of growth in gross domestic product (GDP)? How can the information that GDP rose by 4% help an entrepreneur make a profit? Or what possible use can be made out of data showing that the national balance of payments has moved into a deficit? Or what use can an entrepreneur make out of information about the level of employment or the general price level?"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Union Officer Receives Medal Of Honor Now For Actions In 1863

This story in the Washington Post tells us about First Lt. Alonzo Cushing, who was killed in action at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. After years of lobbying, a Wisconsin woman has convinced the powers-that-be to award the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously to Cushing for his efforts in leading his company in the defense of the charge made by the Confederate troops led by Major General George Pickett.

It's nice to know that the US Congress and the Department of Defense have the time to investigate the merits of a soldier's bravery in an incident that occurred 151 years ago. And then take the action necessary to recognize it. Not to denigrate this bravery but what does the award actually signify? Lt. Cushing and his immediate descendents, should he have had any, are unaware of it.

This quote gives some idea of the thinking behind the medal:

“The idea is that it shouldn’t just sit on someone’s mantlepiece and just stay there,” said Jessica Loring. “It needs to be shown so people today can understand the price of making our country free and the sacrifice it takes. We want to bring Alonzo to life in what he did for this nation.”

Does looking at the Congressional Medal of Honor, and perhaps a sepia-tinted photo of the recipient, really help people to understand the War Between the States? Does celebrating the bravery of one particular individual among a cast of thousands give us some insight into the most traumatic era in American history? 

The battle and Cushing's contribution to it didn't do much for the freedom of the Confederates involved. He was just one of over 600,000 American men and boys, from both the north and south, sacrificed on the altar of the nation/state.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Columbia Heights Needs New Library

In an apparent rejection of the sacred concept of recycling, voters in the Minneapolis inner ring suburb of Columbia Heights are being asked to vote "yes" on the financing and construction of a new library. The existing library, on 40th St. NE, looks like this:

It's a building full of the regular library stuff, books, periodicals and now computer terminals for the free use of patrons. There's a section for children and bathroom facilities downstairs.

Three blocks away, on 43rd St. NE, there's a building that a short time ago housed a supermarket but is now vacant. It's a one-story facility with plenty of room for educational materials and easy access for the crippled. Lots of free parking, too.  But it doesn't seem to have been considered an option for a new library.

An article in a local newspaper describes only two options, retention of the existing library or construction of a new one. The idea that another building could be adapted to a new use seems to have escaped the minds of the pro-library contingent.

The election results included voter approval of bonding of up to $7 million dollars for a new library, per this story.  Thirty-two percent of the city population voted in the election and the bond issue was passed by 8 % of the city's residents.  Although one could say that the deciding vote was worth $7 million, each of the votes cast that approved the issue could also be considered to be worth $4413.19.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Six Schools "Locked Down" Over Student Gun Sighting

Six schools in the Macalester-Groveland and Highland Park neighborhoods of St.Paul, Minnesota were locked down on the morning of October 30 when a student on his way to class at Cretin-Durham Hall notified school authorities that he had seen an individual getting out of a car with a gun in his hand, says Twin After 25 minutes of searching, police gave the all-clear and life returned to as normal as it gets in the capital city.

Just three days ago I noticed that a man searching through the used parts bins in a bicycle shop a short distance from Cretin-Durham Hall was openly wearing an automatic pistol in a holster on his hip. Others noticed as well. Nobody called the police or reported it to a school principal. Maybe the guy was a cop. On the other hand, he might well have been a serial killer. We probably should have called the police and let them determine the facts. Can't be too careful.

A few years back, University of Minnesota police were informed that an individual had carried a cased gun into Northrup Auditorium. The facility and those nearby were locked down while they were searched. The cops found an electrician with a cased high-dielectric tool. Can't be too careful.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Moose Races This Weekend!

Embedded image permalink The annual Alaskan moose racing season begins this year on Halloween weekend.

Wiggle Honda Cycling Team Makes Some Changes

Rochelle Gilmore's talented Wiggle Honda women's cycling team is undergoing a turnover in personnel now that the road season has come to an end. Youthful Aussie sprinter Chloe Hosking has moved south from the Norwegian Hi-Tec Products squad, along with team mate Elisa Longo Borghini. Climbing specialist and winner of the Giro Donne Mara Abbott, Belgian star Jolien D'Hoore and newly-wed Audrey Cordon-Ragot are also among the new members of the team, joining current stars Giorgia Bronzini and Emilia Fahlin and others.

Chloe Hosking

Elisa Longo Borghini

Mara Abbott


Belgian champion Joliene D'Hoore

French newlywed Audrey Cordon-Ragot