So the election was a week ago today and as I am sure everyone who reads this (if anyone reads this) knows the Republicans made giant gains across the nation. There are thousands of pundits out there who will tell you who is to blame or who is responsible depending on their point of view. What they won’t tell you is if we as a civilization are boned yet. I am not sure but the early indications are not looking good.
In the lead up to the election the “Tea Party” made climate “skepticism” an “article of faith”. In fact all of the of the candidates for Senate that Sarah Palin endorsed where outright climate change deniers. Even the republican party platform recycles the tired old line that “the scope and long-term consequences of this (excess CO2) are the subject of ongoing scientific research”. One half of the republicans elected to the House of Representatives are at least what I would call extremely soft on the issue of Climate Change.
Since the election on Tuesday the Governors elect of Wisconsin and Ohio have already pressured the sitting governors to put the brakes on high-speed rail projects in those states. Not only hampering our first few steps toward curbing climate change but killing thousands of sorely needed jobs in old industrial states where not many other job prospects exist. John Shimkus and Joe Barton are both running for the republican chair of the house energy committee. The two of them are campaigning on how many hearings they will drag the head of the EPA in for. “Lisa Jackson would be in front of his Energy Committee so often that she would need a reserved parking spot at the Rayburn building”. And Karl Rove has been quoted saying “climate is gone” an unfortunate turn of phrase given the gravity of the situation.
The world is already locked in for several degrees of warming and there is no telling how much farther we can push the temperature before catastrophic feed backs are triggered. Some of those feed backs, melting permafrost and an ice-free arctic, are already starting to engage. The relatively minor changes global warming has caused so far have led to the worst drought in Russian history, the storm that hit the mid-west this fall spawning some Sixty One tornadoes and the jaw dropping floods in Pakistan.
So are we boned yet? The real answer is no one knows. The people I trust say no. They contend that there is still time to avoid the worst effects of climate change but that time is certainly running out quickly. Short story is we are not boned yet civilization still stands a slim chance of making it but things need to start changing and they need to start changing now. The obstruction of the republicans in the past has prevented any form of climate change legislation and now they hold one of the houses of congress again. Maybe if the republicans in congress get their way we will be able to tell our grandchildren about the 2010 election and how that was the year we finally boned the whole world… If we live that long.
There are many days when you are training when all you can think is “why in the name of his noodellyness do I do this” today was not one of those days. I hit the trail shortly before noon and it was a ride that makes a whole summer worth of suffering and toil worthwhile. Today the hills that normally leave me flat where mere bumps beneath my tires. I reached the top of the first hill and cleared the rock garden that has menaced me all summer as if it where fresh sidewalk. Everything was right on this ride. The downhills where smooth and fast, the hurdles seemed easy. Even the sand traps that abound on my local trail slid beneath my bike with the tiniest effort. And when all was said and done I went back for seconds.
It is days like this that keep us riding. Those few fleeting days that happen once perhaps twice a season where the weather is just right the trail is dry and in good shape and our bodies are ready for the level of performance that is required. Why suffer through unending summers of heat, humidity, flies and injures you ask? Why do all of that just for a few fleeting moments of transcendence? I ask you where else can you have such an experience?
Whatever you do you will have good days and bad the good ones are great the bad days not so much but get out and do something! Life is too short to spend it on the couch.
I finally got to my first Cyclocross race this week. For those who don’t know and don’t like following random links (don’t blame you) Cyclocross is an off-season short course bike race that is time limited. You race over grass, mud, dirt, rocks, roots and some asphalt. And because the race is so short you really have to hammer with all you have for the whole race. What it really boils down to is a timed trip through Hell.
So why do it? It is really fun, the people you meet are great and it is a killer way to test your fitness against some really great athletes.
The race I did was all soft grass because of some over night and morning rain. It was a flatter course with only one hill and two sections of three hurdles. I got in four laps and finished one behind the leaders and most of the pack. For my first race I will say that I did OK.
Cyclocross is not for everyone, you need to be skilled on your bike and you need to be fit enough to keep up because most races will pull you if you fall too far behind. But it is always fun to have a new way to motivate some fitness and get you off the couch.
In fifteen days and some change we as Americans will have chosen the next President of the United States. That is exactly how much time we have to make sure that every Obama supporter gets to the polls or votes early so they will not have to stand in line on election day. Things are looking good right now but we are not over the finish line yet that is why we need you. Please head down to your local office and sign up for Get Out The Vote. If you have an hour to kill get out and volunteer we have the lead right now but we have to get across the line so to quote my old track coach KICK KICK KICK.
Here is what I am thinking. The main attack that John McCain has leveled against Barack Obama is that he is not experienced enough to lead. That John McCain will be able to step into the oval office on day one and start doing good things for the country. That Obama is all heat and no light. I can see where one could get that impression the guy is a supper star, everywhere he goes throngs of people come out to see him. When he was in St. Paul to declare victory in the primaries 70,000 people stood in the streets to see him, there were as many outside watching the jumbo-tron with no sound as where inside. But if you actually take the time to look at the things he is talking about and the information that he has on his web-site the guy is kind of a Policy wonk and I think he has some good ideas for our country, some could be better but that is not the point I am trying to make. I would like to look at John McCain’s record of leadership, his vaunted experience that sets him head and shoulders above the competition. According to Biography.com, born 08/29/1936 on Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone. His father and paternal grandfather where 4-star admirals. He graduated Annapolis and ended up spending five years in the “Hanoi Hilton”, he remained with his men even though he could have left. He really is one of those American Heroes everyone likes to talk about on Memorial Day and then promptly forgets about. He then had to leave the Navy due to his injuries after working as the Navy’s liaison to the U.S. Senate. He married his second wife Cindy and worked for his father-in-law’s beer distribution outfit. McCain was first elected to political office on November 2, 1982. Biography.com does not mention a stint as a wing commander in the Navy where he did some good things but did not make them stick and the wing fell in to disrepair after he left.
From the time of his election to the house until his victory in the primaries the largest organization he ran was his campaign for Senate. And in-fact that may the the largest thing he has ever been in charge of other than his run for president. Not to belittle his accomplishments but a D3 college football coach has more leadership experience then John McCain has. Lets look at the biggest thing he has run so far, his campaign for the presidency. At this time last year it was dead, he barely pulled it out and won the nomination early this year because Romney and Huckabee split the “values” vote, Giuliani was just to liberal for the party and Ron Paul is a wacko. So McCain squeaks through by being the best of the rest and falls face first on to the national and world stage. He laid low for awhile but did not really do much. All of the pundits where talking about how McCain was going to emerge after the Democratic primaries with a well oiled machine of doom and it just did not happen he did not square his campaign away until June. Since then he has stumbled from error to gaff never getting his feet underneath him and never really getting his people on message, for a few days he thought Czechoslovakia was still a country… and international relations is his forte? Nothing I have seen him do has come off, everything has had some hitch and the campaign is constantly messing things up from botching photo-ops to putting out ads that directly criticize their own party.
Now how has Obama’s campaign gone. He has made a few errors and one or two things have not gone as planed but the guy has gotten up every single time with a campaign that runs like and oar train roaring in to Proctor (if you are wondering about that talk to someone from Duluth MN.) McCain openly admits that he is not well versed with the economy. What does he do about it? Not much. Obama lacks foreign policy experience, what does he do about it? He builds an International Relations department that would be the envy of any university, and the vast majority of the people in that endeavor are unpaid. Obama’s lit, signs and campaign swag are all coordinated nation wide despite all coming from local print shops (all union shops by the way). So McCain may have a lot of experience but I don’t think he is a better leader then Obama and I think the same skills that make Obama a “superstar” will make him a formidable president. Or at least he will not ask for a meeting with the king of Yugoslavia.
I’ve got it, I am a SUUUPPPPPPER genius. I have the solution to nearly every problem faced by our society, the only thing I can’t tie in to it is education but I am sure my idea will help that too I just don’t know how. Everyone should sit down now before I go any further because if you fall over and crack your head you will have a hard time reading the rest of this post. OK everyone sitting? Here is the most brilliant idea ever……. everyone, women and men, young and old, faithful and not deluded, everyone should buy a bike and use it. Thank you, thank you I will follow this thread for my nomination for a Nobel Prize. Thank you, if you are not as enlightened as the Nobel foundation let me explain it to you. Right now in the United States we have, as far as I can figure, five major crises that are coming over the horizon. First is health care we as a society are spending more and more on our health care getting less and less for it, also we are becoming less healthy as a society. Second is energy, we are nearly out of the oil that is easy to get at in the world and we are messing up our environment and our climate by pouring all of that carbon that was locked up in the earth back in to the atmosphere. Third and related to energy is religious extremism most of the oil left and is easy to get at is in the middle east and by mining it we piss off some very crazy very religious guys. Now riding a bike will not protect you from Christian extremists but one step at a time. Fourth is the obesity crisis, yes it is attached to health care and solution to one helps the other but I see it as a separate problem because mostly obesity is a human behavior problem and health care is an economic problem. The last as I see it is education but like I said this is not about that but with all of the money we would save with solving most of health care we will have lots more money to spend on teaching kids how to invent things as cool as bikes.
So I will regroup them and explain in that way, just to make sure you are still awake. Health Care and Obesity, riding a bike is a clear solution for obesity, you get out and bike to work everyday you will be shocked how fast the pounds melt off. Health Care’s connection to obesity is also clear, if you are overweight you have more health problems end of discussion. But being physically active has more to do with being healthy then being thin. It helps your cholesterol more then just losing weight, your bones get harder so you have a much lower chance of osteoporosis, it keeps your mind sharp much later in life, the list goes on and on and on and on….. face it humans are meant to do things every day. We evolved to walk essentially all of the time. The other two are energy and religious extremism if every American rides a bike to work rather than drives the United States would literally save boat loads of energy, boat loads that would not have to come from nations that spawn terrorists, like I said this would not help with the Christian extremists we have here in this country but it would at least be a start for rational thought and it would take away one of the main things that the Christian Right loves to hyperventilate about mainly those evil dark skinned Muslims.
So there it is the best idea in the history of the history the ultimate achievement of our societey is an invention that is nearing 200 years old. The details has changed the materials have gotten better but the bicycle is still the most efficient form of human powered overland travel. So buy a bike, and use it.
Long long ago, when idiosyncrasy was a new concept fresh out of the scary minds of Cutter and Matt an idea was forged to live with this concept. I don’t remember who came up with it but in homage to the late great Douglas Adams idiosyncrasy was to have an award for “first against the wall when the revolution comes”. I would like to resurrect that award. Here are the rules I propose, the person being nominated for the award must preform an act of demonstrable stupid. So no nominating just because of general dimness, if that where the case Bush would win all the time and that would be no fun. Second the person’s stupid must effect the world at large or at least many people, so no Darwin Awards. To be elected the person must get a majority of votes from the idiosyncrasy members who vote, the nomination will count as one vote.
So here is my nomination. Governor Tim Pawlenty, his act of stupid is the resent line item veto of bonding for the central corridor light rail line. The reason I pick this one act above the other vetoes he made in that bill, all of them dumb. Is because I live near Downtown St. Paul and my wife works in Downtown Minneapolis driving that stretch of I-94 at rush hour is inconvenient and slow at best death defying on many other days many cars could be taken off the road by building park and ride stations on the eastern side of downtown St. Paul. Also the Federal government has agreed to put most of the cost of the line, the cool things that can happen when the chairman of the house transportation committee is from your state. But the fed will not pay of all of it, Minnesota has to put some skin in the game or the 400million dollars or so will go somewhere else, some other city will build a 21st century transportation system with it while we in Minneapolis/St. Paul will still be mucking around on a freeway system designed and mostly built in the 1950s. And last but certainly not least, the fact that the inherent efficiency of an electric train will keep tons of carbon out of the atmosphere every year an issue that Governor Pawlenty pretends to be concerned about. So I put it to you oh wise sages of idiosyncrasy contributers.
For more information on this Greg Landen over at Science blogs has a great write up http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/04/minnesota_governor_pawlenty_sm.php