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.