Sunday, December 30, 2012

H.L. Mencken Liked Grover Cleveland

Ever get one of these in change?  Me, neither.  Too bad our 22nd and 24th president couldn't have his face engraved on a more common bill, like the ten, instead of that sleazy little sycophant Alexander Hamilton.  Even the acerbic Henry L. Mencken, a man not noted for a favorable opinion of the nation's political leaders, didn't have many negative things to say about President Cleveland.  This book review in the January, 1933 issue of The American Mercury doesn't have much to say about the book itself, Grover Cleveland-A Study in Courage, by Allan Nevins, but it does shed some light on Mencken's opinion of the man himself.

London's "Sunday Times" Sues Lance Armstrong


As had been speculated in the past, Rupert Murdoch's The Sunday Times has begun proceedings against banned  American cyclist Lance Armstrong in an attempt to recover their expenses and interest in a L300,000 award received by Armstrong in a 2004 libel suit against the paper.  This article from Canadian cycling publication Pedal points out other possible financial  ramifications of the seven-time Tour de France winner's fall from grace.  The real race now is between legal minds intent on gathering their share of the Armstrong fortune.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Geriatric Millionaires That Represent Californians

Current US House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, aged 72, daughter of Baltimore politician Thomas D'Alasandro Jr. represents the smallest congressional district in the US, the 8th district in California, four fifths of the city and county of San Francisco.  She is married to Paul Frank Pelosi.  She's one of the richest members of congress, with assets in excess of $58 million dollars, including Bay Area real estate, a vineyard in St. Helena, CA and Apple stock

Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco native and long-time veteran of the city's political scene is a 79 year old Democrat and the senior senator from the state of California.  Not a fan of the 2nd amendment, in fact, opposed to guns in general, she admitted in 1996 that " I know the urge to arm yourself, because that’s what I did. I was trained in firearms. When I walked to the hospital when my husband was sick, I carried a concealed weapon. I made the determination that if somebody was going to try to take me out I was going to take them with me.”
 In 2005 her net worth was estimated between $43 million and $99 million.

The junior senator from California is Barbara Boxer, a 72 year old Democrat from Marin County, north of San Francisco.  Her daughter was briefly married to Tony Rodham, former first lady Hillary Clinton's brother.  Her assets are estimated to be from over $1.2 million to slightly less than $6 million

Maxine Waters, a 74 year old Democrat from Los Angeles, represents the 35th congressional district in the US House. She has a net worth estimated to be between $2.5 million and $5.5 million.  Her second husband Sid played in the NFL.


The US Representative from the 30th district in the Golden State is 73 year old Democrat Henry Waxman of Los Angeles.  A graduate of UCLA law school, Waxman has made an effort to ban the use of tobacco in major league baseball.  For a member of congress, he's relatively impoverished, with an estimated wealth of between $600,000 and $1.7 million.

Doris Matsui is the Democrat that represents the 5th congressional district in California, active in the Clinton presidential campaign, she worked in the Clinton administration, lobbied in Washington and successfully ran for office in 2004.  She's a youthful 68 years old and has an estimated net worth of between $800,000 and $2.5 million.

Congressman George Miller of Martinez, CA, represents the 7th district.  A Democrat, 67 years of age, he's only been able to accumulate a small fortune of between a quarter of a millions dollars and a little over a $1 million, according to estimates.

Barbara Lee, just 66 years old, is the Democratic  representative of the California house district 9 and lives in Oakland, CA.  Her wealth is estimated to be somewhere between a paltry quarter of a million dollars and an insignificant half a million.


Lois Capps, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, represents the 23rd district, a strip along the Pacific Coast north of Los Angeles.  She's now coming into her prime at age 74 and has a net worth of between $4 million and $5 million.

The 14th district in California, which includes Silicon Valley, is represented by Democrat Anna Eshoo, 70 years old, of Atherton, CA.  She's reputed to have a net worth of between $1 million and $2.5 million.


Current California governor, occasional presidential aspirant and sometime Democrat Jerry Brown was also the state governor from 1975 to 1983 when he was romantically linked with chanteuse Linda Ronstadt.  Brown has now reached the age of 74, Ronstadt is 66 and hasn't released a recording in six years but Governor Moonbeam is still going strong, in spite of medical problems like basal-cell carcinoma on his nose and early stage prostrate cancer.  Brown and his wife Ann, formerly an executive with Gap, have combined holdings that total somewhere in the millions.

Meredith Miller Interview

A Cycling Illustrated interview with California Giant Berry Farms and Team Tibco star Meredith Miller, one of the consummate professionals in ladies cycling.

Monday, December 24, 2012

So. Calif. Couple Unlawfully Wedded for 48 Years

According to the perceptive Associated Press:

REDLANDS, Calif.—After spending nearly a half-century as husband and wife, Bob and Norma Clark are finally married.
The couple from Redlands east of Los Angeles celebrated their 48th anniversary in August, and in November sought a copy of their marriage license for Social Security.
The Redlands Daily Facts ( reports that San Mateo County in Northern California could find no evidence the union was ever filed.
The Clarks' church had a record of the 1964 ceremony, and several of the original witnesses were about to arrive for Thanksgiving, so on Nov. 21 they made their marriage legitimate, obtaining their license at the San Bernardino County Hall of Records.
Bob Clark brought a bouquet for Norma, and at the urging of family and friends kissed the bride to seal the deal.

Evidently, if an incompetent clerk down at the Bureau of Records files your marriage certificate in the wrong pigeon hole or mistakenly dumps it in the wastebasket with some Kleenex, you're not really married, even if a ceremony was held at church and you live together for 48 years.  It is up to the state to determine if, in fact, you're really married, if you've made a vow and commitment to another.  If there isn't any state-stamped, bureaucrat-approved documentation, you've lived in sin for almost half a century.  Furthermore, it's one party's word against another and the word of the state counts more than that of one of its subjects. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Queen Elizabeth II Land!

Map: Queen Elizabeth land, Antarctica

As a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years as by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, the British Foreign Office has named a 196,000 square mile area of Antarctica Queen Elizabeth II Land.  Imperialsim just doesn't seem to have a conscience.  If somebody isn't living in a place, even a very inhospitable place, nation-states feel that it's only right to just move in and make  it part of their own operation.  Actually, it's OK even if there are folks living there as long as they're numerically or technologically inferior.  Nation-states love to honor their own by naming conquered territory and the prominent features thereof for their most effective gangsters or most beloved leaders.  One  Norwegian claim in the Antarctic, Queen Maud Land, is named for the the consort of King Haakon VII and is divided into the Princess Martha Coast, Princess Astrid Coast, Princess Ragnhild Coast, Prince Harald Coast, Prince Olav Coast and the King Haakon VII Sea.

Australia claims Wilkes Land, named after an American explorer and divided into areas named after other fellows that accompanied his expedition in 1838-42, a small ship, and the wife of a French ship captain.

France itself claims Terre Adelie, named after the wife of French explorer Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville in 1840.

Marie Byrd Land, most remote and unexplored spot on earth, is named after famed depression era aviator Richard Byrd's wife and a portion of it remarkably  remains unclaimed even today  A well-armed and provisioned gang could maybe set up their own country there.  Nonetheless, it has features with names that honor prominent Americans:  the Rockefeller Mountains, the Edsel Ford Ranges, the Walgreen Coast, the Horlick Mountains, all financial supporters of Byrd's expeditions.  It might have cost a little more but having a mountain range on earth named after you seems better than the International Star Registry naming a dot of light billions of miles away after your girl friend.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Leszek Balcerowicz, Poland's Tough Love Economist

One time Polish central bank head Leszek Balcerowicz gives this interview in last weekend's edition of WSJ.  Balcerowicz has the opposite plan for healing a wounded economy to that of the Keynesians.  He's right, of course.


Katusha’s license denied because of doping while team general manager gets 2004 Olympic gold.

Fabled Russian road cyclist Vyacheslav Ekimov has received his third Olympic gold medal, the one  originally presented to US rider Tyler Hamilton for his  time trial victory in 2004 that was later annulled by the IOC because of Hamilton's illegal drug use.  Additionally, Ekimov, general manager of the European professional Katusha racing team, announced that the team's failure to receive a UCI pro tour license this year was because of doping issues. 

Ekimov was a Tour de France finisher 15 different times and a member of the US Postal Service team and the Discovery Channel team that also featured American Lance Armstrong and.  He joined the Radio Shack team in a managerial capacity after his retirement from racing.  Newly named as the boss at Katusha, Ekimov has inherited a problem  not entirely of his own making but endemic to the sport.

World Ends Tomorrow

Somehow the earth managed to survive the 2K crisis.  Now its facing, in less than 24 hours, the end of a Mayan time cycle of 5,125 years.  But Mayans themselves don't actually believe this, per this USA Today article.  More than that, however, when did anyone previously pay any attention to anything that a Mayan might have to say?  Do we listen carefully and consider deeply Mayan opinions on macroeconomics or medicine or motherhood?  Are Mayans themselves unanimous in their opinions on even more basic things, like music, television programming and salsa?  Whatever, the Montejo Brewery in Merida, Yucatan is selling lots of "Indio" beer to apocalypse tourists from all over the world.  Good time to visit Chichen Itza, it's not as hot as it would be in July.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Optum Lady Cyclists At Their Crash Pad in San Dimas, CA

Jade Wilcoxson, the breakout star of the 2012 racing season, takes us on a tour of the home that some patient family has allowed the hungry Optum girls to use during the early part of the year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Context of Dope in Cycling

The use of drugs and blood enhancement techniques in the highest levels of competitive cycling has been an almost daily feature of the sports media for some time and there's even been some discussion of its place in the more  popular team sports.  Why does anyone care?  First of all, use of proscribed drugs by athletes is against the rules in most sports.  And why is that?  There are two reasons generally given for this:  1. Dopers have an unfair advantage over "clean" athletes, in that pharmaceuticals are enhancing their abilities.  Ergo the best athlete may lose to an inferior because of drug use.  2.  Many performance enhancing drugs produce negative health outcomes.  Like early death.

But cycling, and other sports, don't operate in a vacuum.  They're simply part of the cultural milieu in which we're immersed.  And performance enhancement is everywhere.  Take music, for instance.  A vocalist records a song in a studio.  The equipment used for this is capable of altering the song in many possible ways, screening out unwanted  frequencies, adding others, modifying in it ways that the recording engineer hopes will make the final product more popular with listeners.  This is common and no one denies it, though it's not emphasized either.  And often live performances use modified recordings to supply the vocals while the performers "lip sync".  You might say, "So what?"  But this is cheating in an even grander sense than PEDs in cycling because of the money involved.  A singer with access to electronic assistance has a huge advantage over one that is forced to rely on their own talents.  CD sales, I Tunes downloads, concert appearances, all hinge not on individual vocal talents but on the ability of a sound engineer.  ASCAP doesn't care, however, if its member performers are stoned, engage in blood doping, or electronically modify their artistic endeavors.  Just so long as the money rolls in.  And the consumers that supply that money don't seem to care if the music is genuine or an electronic facsimile that the performer can't actually produce, even when sober.

Photography, a technological process designed to preserve history, has relied on post-shutter modifications to change that history since its infancy.  Negatives and prints were altered from the beginning to convey an altered reality.  Soviet Politburo figures that became victims of the purges were air-brushed out of group photos.  Technological development of software like Photoshop makes the likelihood that any photograph is a portrayal of reality increasingly unlikely.  However, there does seem to be a limit to how far a photographer can go in at least some situations.  Digital modifications are even more spectacular in the motion picture industry, where computer-generated cartoons have replaced their hand-painted predecessors, live actors are mingled with special effects and the most advanced features consist almost entirely of computerized visuals, a total denial of reality.  Portrait painters have always made an attempt to flatter their subjects by enhancing their appearance. Playboy magazine centerfolds are the product of artistic license.

What about cosmetic surgery?  The orthodontics industry?  Fashion, itself?  Isn't a large part of the way people dress designed to enhance their prospects for success?  In literature authors employ research assistants and ghost writers that get no public recognition for their contributions, similar to bike mechanics.
Screen plays are dissected and modified by re-write men in the often vain hope that something presentable will be produced.

None of this is meant as an apology for PEDs in sports.  It's simply to point out that cheating in one form or another is standard operating procedure in all walks of life, not just sports.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Opossum Murder Brings $400K Award

More proof that we live in a world gone mad.  This story in the Orange County Register gives a few details of an incident that included the possibility of a boy dispatching an opossum in his backyard with a shovel, hardly an unusual event.  A busy-body neighbor witnessed the affair and called the law, two moronic policemen who then arrested the father of the opossum killer, who was jailed with a bail requirement of $20,000.  Only later did City of Anaheim officials discover, through the judicial process, that there is no law against the murder of an opossum in California.  The man filed suit and Anaheim settled the claim out of court for $400,000, none of which will come out of the city attorney's paycheck or that of the flat foots that made the pinch.  When private sector workers make a colossal mistake that costs their employers almost half a million dollars they're usually run off.  Chances are pretty good that these bozos will still have their jobs for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sanne van Paassen Interview

If you plan on making a bet on the outcome of the UCI Elite Women's World CX Championship held in Louisville, KY on Feb. 3rd of 2013 this bubbly lady from the Netherlands might be the one to back.

Drilling and Fracking an Oil Well in Texas

Marathon Oil produced this time-lapse video of a start-to-finish oil well completion in the Eagle Ford Shale formation in Texas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Malibu Rotting Whale Update!

The decomposing 41 foot fin whale that has been issuing a noxious stench over tony Malibu, California has been towed out to sea by a private company hired by a local restauranteur as explained in this news story and this one.  Various levels of government denied responsibility for solving the problem so with financial contributions by other concerned residents, Bob Morris engaged a marine towing firm to do the job.

Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, owned by Robert Morris.

Who Needs More Government?

A Chris Blattman blog entry, found here , is concerned with the anarchist ideas in the publications of James C. Scott.  The comment below, taken form that entry, is more profound than Blattman's thoughts on the subject.


1 week ago
This is where my libertarian instincts on my far right meet my anarchist instincts on the far left. Yet somehow my opinions tend to be centrist. I think it’s fair to say I don’t understand myself.”

That’s because you continue to insist on trying to understand yourself using the meaningless left-right dichotomy, which is essentially just a way to fool the people of western democracies to ally themselves behind the government by thinking that the government is up for grabs and that there are two parties vying for it. In reality, of course, the only two parties in these societies are not left and right, they are the state and the people. Both left and right are divisions of the state, and of the people fooled into supporting either wing of the state party.
My anarchist reading list would be largely similar to any mainstream development economist’s reading list. The main difference is that I would make my students assess things based on what they actually are and based on their actual consequences, whereas the entirety of modern development economics is built on the diefication of good intentions and their utilization as a license to do whatever you want while ignoring the negative consequences. So, with the same reading list, I would arrive at the conclusion that the World Bank is institutionally set-up to serve the interests of the US government and its continuing theft of the planet by the dollarization of the world economy, a side effect of which is the destruction of poor countries. Mainstream development economists however will continue to view things from the perspective of the World Bank as a development institution, and all the disasters it causes can never alter the desire of the development economist to think of alternative policies that will make the world bank “fulfill its development mission”, or whatever is the latest buzzword kids are using these days.
As an anarchist, however, I would entirely oppose the concept, relevance and severe lack of ethics that the entire RCT industry represents. RCT, essentially, is a way to generate tenure, jobs and publications for rich white people by allowing them to carry out scientific-looking experiments on poor dark human lab rats under the pretext of “development”. Humanity is too complex to be studied in these labs, and the results from RCT’s are meaningless outside their very narrow contrived lab context. If you look closely, you find that the only actual positive impact from these studies accrues to the researchers. The lab rats, on the other hand, end up wasting enormous amounts of their precious time on filling out surveys that will never improve their life in any way, and will only ever serve as fodder for yet another unreadable, irrelevant and ignored modern academic economic paper.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Physically Fit Social Misfits

dodge cars, trucks and pedestrians on the mean streets of Indianapolis in what looks like a French new-wave director's version of urban cycling, Corn Fed 3.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Discover Voluntaryism


Border Patrol Shoots To Kill

US Border Patrol agents have shot at least 22 people over the last three years but investigations of the shootings are kept secret by the federal government and the rare prosecution of those determined to have committed unlawful acts seldom results in a conviction according to this article in the Arizona Daily Star.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The West Commits Suicide

The ever-cheery and optimistic Janet Daley gives us fair warning once again that we're allowing the making of a big mistake that our descendants, and probably even ourselves, will come to regret.

When the Edward Gibbon of the 22nd century comes to write his History of the Decline and Fall of the West, who will feature in his monumental study of the collapse of the most successful economic experiment in human history? In this saga of the mass suicide of the richest nations on earth, there may be particular reference to those national leaders who chose to deny the reality that was, from the vantage point of our future chronicler, so obviously looming. Or maybe the leadership of our day in Washington, London and Brussels will appear to have been swept helplessly along by irresistible forces that originated before their time.

You can read more here.

Walmart Security Guard Shoots 'Shoplifting' Mother dead in parking lot

Three women suspected of shoplifting in a Houston, TX Walmart were chased from the store by a uniformed off-duty sheriff's deputy and when they attempted to drive away one was shot and killed, as detailed in this article and this one.  Two young children were in the car at the time but weren't injured.  The dead woman had been banned from entering any Walmart due to previous shoplifting offences.

This is a particularly interesting incident in that it comes a short time after this event in a different part of the country.  While the Walmart security guard, who ran out of the store in pursuit of the women in order to kill one of them, will receive three days paid leave from his deputy's duties with Harris County, the individual that killed two burglars IN HIS OWN BASEMENT is behind bars with a $2 million bail requirement.