The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Ate my Wheaties this morning

It's not every day that I set five personal records (PRs). This morning I rode 40 km (24.9 mi) in 1:29:19, beating my old PR (set Tuesday) by 2:29. The other PRs are in my expanded PR table on

I attribute my increasing performance this season to three things: first, plain and simple, I'm riding more: 17.3 km (10.7 mi) per day on average (including days off) against 14.6 km (9.1 mi) the previous three seasons. Here's what I've done since June 13th:

The little blue dots go against the right-hand scale and represent kilometers ridden on each day. The yellow line goes against the left-hand scale and represents a moving 7-day average.

The second boost is that I'm eating much better than I used to, and timing it better as well. I have to thank Monique Ryan, the sports nutritionist whose office is across the atrium from mine.

Finally, I found another great book by champion biker Marla Streb. If you're interested in seriously training for a Century, I recommend you pick up both books today:

McKinney, Lieberman, DeLay...don't let the door hit you

It looks like the Democrats will hold the Georgia 4th after all: Rep. Cynthia McKinney lost her primary against challenger Hank Johnson. McKinney has found herself in the news more often for her antics than for her legislation, as in her recent altercation with a Capitol Police officer.

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman also lost against challenger Ned Lamont. Lieberman has supported the war and President Bush (895 days, 4 hours) more often than anyone else in the party—and more often than some Republicans as well. He now plans to run as an independent (of what, I wonder?) against Lamont and the nearly-anonymous guy the GOP put on the ballot as an afterthought.

The Lieberman campaigned turned silly Monday night when the Lieberman Website went down. Lieberman's people blame hackers; another story is more probable:

Lieberman's camp, whose candidate has since conceded the primary election to challenger Ned Lamont, charged Monday that the Lamont campaign was responsible for alleged cyberattacks which they said brought down their primary web site and email services. Such "dirty politics" were "a staple" of its operations, asserted Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith. Later, Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein admitted to TPM's Greg Sargent that Lieberman's staff had no evidence Lamont's campaign was behind the alleged attacks.

The general election is in less than 90 days. With McKinney and Lieberman no longer running as Democrats, I think our chances of holding both seats just improved. Add to that Tom DeLay's and Bob Ney's (R-OH) troubles, and we might—just might—win the House this year.

Weather and bike training

I have decided (by executive fiat) that the "weather" category includes "bicycling." Even though I biked hither and yon as a kid, I kind of lost my passion for it until recently. I'm getting it back, though I still haven't gotten anywhere near the performance I could muster 15 years ago. I just dug up some notes showing that exactly 20 years ago today, I rode 28 km (17.3 mi) in 48 minutes, averaging over 34 km/h (21.1 mph) the whole way. Looking at the other rides recorded in those notes, that was about my average speed then. Today I'm happy to hold 25 km/h (16.1 mph).

Of course, I had a much faster bike then. Angela asked what I'm riding now: it's a Jamis Coda, which is great for running around town but not so great for the kinds of training I've been doing. Actually, riding that thing is like running in jeans: kind of slow, but it builds character. Here it is, shortly after I got it in 2001:

Next season, I will have a road bike for road rides. Oh yes. It will be mine.

Speaking of next season, I have three goals for the next three years. Here they are, time-stamped and in writing, soon to be slurped into the Wayback Machine so there will be no backing out:

  • This year, to complete the full 161 km (100 mi) North Shore Century (since the last two years I did the Metric Century of 100 km or 62 mi);
  • Next year, to complete a relatively easy[1] multi-day ride, like the 547 km (340 mi) SAGBRAW or the 365 km (225 mi) Katy Trail; and
  • In 2008, to complete either RAGBRAI (759 km, 472 mi) or GRABAAWR (788 km, 490 mi).

[1] SAGBRAW is an "easy" ride because it averages only 90 km (56 mi) per day over flat ground, unlike RAGBRAI and GRABAAWR that average 110 km (68 mi) per day and actually have hills.

That's the plan. I'm in the last few weeks of training for the North Shore Century, so expect more photos of far-off destinations between now and September 17th.

David Mamet on Anti-Semitism

Excellent op-ed today by playwright David Mamet. He argues that anti-Semitism, not the Jews, is the problem:

There is no "cycle of violence." Israel wants peace behind the 1949 armistice borders, with some relatively minor variation. There is no indictable "disparity of force." Israeli civilians are being bombed. Hezbollah knows where the Israeli military bases are, but chooses to bomb civilians. Hezbollah puts its armaments exclusively in the midst of civilians. The Israeli aim is not to invade Lebanon (Israel left Lebanon) but to force Hezbollah to stop killing the Jews.
That the Western press consistently characterizes the Israeli actions as immoral is anti-Semitism. What state does not have the right to defend itself—it is the central tenet of statehood.
The Jews are not the victims of bad PR. They are the victims of anti-Semitism.

Long-ass bike ride cut a tiny bit short

As part of my training for the North Shore Century, I set out today to ride 100 km (62.1 mi). I went south, into the wind (so I would have a tail wind for the more-tired half of the ride), and for only the second time in my life rode to another state:

Then I continued all the way to the bottom of Chicago:

On the way back, only 3.5 km (2.1 mi) from home, a spoke broke. That doesn't sound nearly as bad as it is. When you lose a spoke, the wheel suddenly goes "out of true," meaning it's warped—badly. For a few moments I thought I'd simply run completely out of energy. No, the back wheel was rubbing up against the frame. So Anne had to come get me, and now the bike is at Turin.

Total trip: 96.7 km (60.1 mi) in 3:55:51. My pace was remarkably consistent, just under 25 km/h (15.5 mph), and seven of my 9 splits were withing 30 seconds of each other. This is what long-distance riders look for: consistent power, consistent speed, and consistent pedaling.

Global climate change causes heat waves. Really.

The six-day heat wave in Chicago finally broke Wednesday night, giving us delightful summer weather yesterday, but another heat wave is coming. We don't know when, of course; but it's looking more certain that human-caused climate change will give us more frequent and more severe weather events:

While it is impossible to attribute any one weather event to climate change, several recent studies suggest that human-generated emissions of heat-trapping gases have produced both higher overall temperatures and greater weather variability, which raise the odds of longer, more intense heat waves.
Last week, Paul Della-Marta, a researcher at Switzerland's Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, presented findings at an international conference on climate science in Gwatt, Switzerland, showing that since 1880 the duration of heat waves in Western Europe has doubled and the number of unusually hot days in the region has nearly tripled.

Fortunately, fewer than 900 days remain in the Bush Administration, but those days include two more summers plus what's left of this one.

Nutty Melvin redux

In the continuing saga of Jew-hater Mel Gibson, a Jesuit priest wrote in Tribune op-ed today (reg.req.) that the Jewish deputy arresting Gibson was "the most Christian" in the whole story:

After the arrest, James Mee said that he held no grudge against Gibson and didn't want to see Gibson's career suffer, even though he's the guy in whose face Gibson spewed his invective. Despite that, this Jewish fellow gave Gibson a little lesson—a parable you might say—about Christian forgiveness.

Oy. Perhaps he showed Jewish forgiveness? Or maybe, faced with a drunken idiot, perhaps Deputy Mee merely showed professional restraint?

Other nuts in the news

Following up on my earlier post, I should mention a possibly-not-religious nut from academia. Fortunately, his 15 minutes are nearly up. I heard him on NPR this morning, because, well, they sometimes roast nuts on the air. The Tribune also picked up the story:

[University of Wisconsin lecturer Kevin] Barrett believes the U.S. government orchestrated the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to create support for a larger military budget and a long-term Middle East war. He believes the World Trade Center buildings fell after a controlled demolition and doubts that the hijacker believed to have flown the plane into the Pentagon had the skills to do it. He thinks Osama bin Laden is probably dead.
"I have always been trying to distinguish myself from all the weird people," he said, recalling past ventures as a writer. "Little did I imagine I would have become devoted to exposing what most people think of as a conspiracy theory."

From this we can deduce...what, class? Number one: Barrett has not done a good job distinguishing himself from the weird people. Number two: most people think of his hypothesis as a conspiracy theory because it imagines—wait for it—a conspiracy. We should keep in mind that the generally-accepted theory of 9/11 (stupidity at the highest levels of government, 19 fanatical terrorists with no regard for human life, airplanes as guided missiles, Osama bin Laden behind it all) also imagines a conspiracy, so I'm wondering if Barrett might have forgotten an adjective to differentiate his conspiracy theory from the others. (I can think of one.)

Number three: the generally-accepted theory of 9/11 has volumes of corroborating evidence, and his hypothesis has none, which we take to mean the generally-accepted theory may be more correct. Number four: even absent said volumes of corroborating evidence, the generally-accepted theory sounds a lot more plausible on its face. (Kevin Barrett, meet William of Ockham. William, Kevin. You guys really need to have a chat.)

So, yes, even in academia, kooks abound. And because academic nut-jobs rarely have heavily-armed followers, it's OK to laugh at them.