Friday Night Fights: heavyweight action

Photo from the excellent report by; there are many more there.

First, I should say why I like to watch boxing. I think that boxing is the most demanding sport there is, as it requires quickness, reflexes, speed, strength, power, endurance, technique and mental toughness. Evidently I am not the only one who thinks so; a recent ESPN survey rated boxing as the hardest sport.

Of course, I can’t say that from my own experience; my sole experience has been boxing class at the Naval Acadamy. We had to do 3 one minute rounds, and they were exhausting! The sports that I have tried (meaning that I had at least one event or competition in it) includes football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, track (shot put and discus in high school, 800, 1500, mile, 3000, 5000 runs and 3000, 5000 meter racewalks as an adult), distance running, distance walking, swimming (50 fly, 100, 200, 400, 500, 1000 free and 5K open water), judo (club sport in college), powerlifting (bench press contests), and cycling (century ride).

So, about this past Friday Night Fights on ESPN (see the excellent report at and why it reenforced my opinion: the first fight that I saw was a 4 round heavyweight bout between Costas Phillipou (3-0, 1 KO) and Rodney Ray (3-4-1, 3 KO). Ray was older than average, having served in the Navy. Both are good athletes, but are still raw and it showed.

Both appeared awkward; Phillipou appeard to stumble toward Ray, and Ray held too much; he even got a one point deduction in round 2. Still, Ray (in my opinion) landed a few more damaging shots and even floored Phillipou in the second round with an uppercut, though the referee ruled it as a slip.

ESPN called it 39-36 for Ray; I had it 10-9, 9-9, 10-10, 10-9 for 39-37 in favor of Ray. But Pillipou was given a unanimous decision by the judges.

The next fight really brought into focus what I was talking about. Eddie Chambers (28-0, 15 KO) took on previously undefeated Derric Rossy (15-1, 9 KO). Rossy is a big, athletic man (6-4, 240 pounds) who played defensive end for the Boston College Eagles. Chambers came in a 215 pounds and frankly looked soft in his midsection.

But after a quick start (I gave Rossy the first two rounds due to lots of good body shots; the ESPN card gave him round one), it became apparent that Rossy was overmatched. Chambers repeatedly banged Rossy from short range, busting both of his eardrums and eventually causing Rossy’s left eye to swell up and shut. The referee (correctly) stopped the fight; it was clear that it was a matter of time before Rossy went down.

As the Long Island Press said:

Rossy, who fell victim to Chambers’ counterpunches throughout, showed life when his right hook opened a cut over Chambers’ left eye in the final seconds of the second round. But what the 1,652 fans who crammed Brookhaven Gymnasium in support of Rossy didn’t know was that Chambers busted one of Rossy’s eardrums in the same round, affecting the local hero’s equilibrium for the balance of the fight.

Chambers managed to effectively guard his eye while still catching Rossy seemingly at will with left hooks and overhand rights when Rossy would come to attack. By the end, both of Rossy’s eardrums were busted.

The referee kindly told Rossy “hey Kid, there is always another day” after stopping it. Chambers was a gracious winner.

Anyway, to get back to my initial point: the first fight I talked about showed that strong, athletic men can look bad at the sport if they haven’t done it long enough. Indeed, boxing requires a great deal of focused practice on technique and tatics.

The second bout showed that being strong, powerful, quick and athletic (as Rossy certianly is) isn’t enough to be successful. Even an impressive physical athlete can get humbled very quickly by an accomplished boxer.

February 11, 2007 Posted by | boxing | 3 Comments

Weekend: swimming, still pumped up

Workout notes: 4500 yards of swimming, giving me 17900 for the week. Not great (just over 10 miles), but ok for me. I’ve had a minor “bug” (cough) and that slowed me a bit, so I didn’t take this workout too seriously.

Still, I got 4 x 250 on the 5 (alternating 25 yards of fist and free),
1000 in 16:50 (off from 16:44 earlier this year, but still better than I’ve done in several years prior)
(4:13,4:12, 4:12, 4:13).
100 back easy
5 x 100 (side/free/side/free) on 2
5 x 100 (fly/free/back/free) on 2
1000 pull in 16:55
100 back easy
100 side easy
5 x (25 kick, 25 swim),
50 free.

I wasn’t as tired as I was after the last two Sunday workouts.
Injury wise: not 100 percent, but standing around in a crowd has become easier.


I went to church afterward; the sermon was ok (it was about evolution and how many resist embracing evolution because they feel that “god” has been taken out of creation; our pastor said that it doesn’t have to be that way and did a good job of it). Mostly, I like our church; the problem is one if its strengths. We have many activists and would be activists that go, and in general, activist can’t resist taking up tons of time if they are place behind a microphone. Groups of people, like individuals, are package deals.


Of course I am still giddy over yesterday’s Obama festivities, and am flattered that my Daily Kos diary has been placed once again in the “diary rescue” section.

I’ll state again one thing that I found inspiring:

Yes, Obama gave a great speech. Yes, thousands (15-17 thousand, according to the police) were out there in 10-15 F degree temperatures.

But it was the type of crowd that got me. You could tell at a glance that this was no Republican candidate!

It was a true “salt and pepper” (and a touch of chili powder (me!) )crowd, and this was no “one race here, another one over there” crowd either.

The biggest cheers came when he called for the end of the Iraq war, when he called for universal health care and when he called for more resources for education.

On the way back to Peoria we saw some other Obama busses, though we also saw one wingnut car with anti-Obama stuff painted on it. But the anti-Obama stuff was so odious (e. g., making fun of his name) that, IMHO, it actually helped him.

Of course, there are other fine candidates for the Democratic nomination. For example, blogger Nite Swimming makes a good case for John Edwards. And there are those who lean toward Hillary Clinton; she currently has the lead among Democratic candidates. And, I happen to like both of these individuals.

So what is standing in the way of these candidates getting elected? Well, Senator Obama was still a state senator when the infamous war vote was made; he opposed the war back then. Unfortunately, Senator Clinton and Senator Edwards voted to give the President the authority to go to war. This topic is a major subject of discussion at the Daily Kos.

Since then, Edwards has admitted that his vote was a mistake.

In the fall of 2005, John Edwards sat down with a pad and pen and scrawled out three simple words: “I was wrong.” It was nearly three years after he’d joined a Senate majority in voting to authorize war in Iraq. After an unsuccessful run as John Kerry’s vice presidential candidate in the 2004 election, Edwards had returned home to North Carolina and watched as the war descended into chaos. Increasingly filled with regret, he concluded that the three-word confession would be the right way to start a Washington Post op-ed admitting his vote was a mistake.

But when a draft came back from his aides in Washington, Edwards’s admission was gone. Determined, the senator reinserted the sentence. Again a draft came back from Washington; again the sentence had been taken out. “We went back and forth, back and forth,” Edwards tells NEWSWEEK. “They didn’t want me to say it. They were saying I should stress that I’d been misled.” The opening sentence remained. “That was the single most important thing for me to say,” Edwards recalls. “I had to show how I really feel.” […]

It’s perhaps no accident that Genuine John Edwards has chosen this particular moment to emerge. The senator is campaigning as an alternative to Clinton, the front runner whose chief weakness with primary voters is the impression she is driven more by polling than principle. He has lost supporters, and even some staff, to Obama—a candidate who’s connected with Democrats by seeming to always speak from his heart. And the success of blunt-spoken Democratic Senate candidates like Montana’s Jon Tester and Virginia’s Jim Webb has left Washington consultants advising their clients to act like, well, they don’t listen to consultants.

Still, Edwards’s new commitment to authenticity may have real roots: in 2004, the candidate learned the hard way that too much caution can be fatal. When the Kerry campaign faltered, Edwards and his wife were convinced that a broad swath of competing consultants, offering conflicting advice, were largely to blame. “Consultants can make it hard to tell the truth,” Edwards says. “They want you to be so cautious it makes it hard to say anything.” Aides, who didn’t want to be named discussing their boss’s internal thinking, say he walked away from 2004 convinced that only strong, centralized decision making works in presidential campaigns. […]

Senator Clinton is having much more trouble with this:

Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday attacked President George W. Bush for “arrogance and incompetence” in Iraq but faced tough questions over her own vote to authorize the war.

On her first visit in a decade to the state that helps kick off the 2008 White House race, Clinton told voters in New Hampshire that Iraq was a challenge because of “the arrogance and incompetence of our administration in Washington.”

At a town hall meeting of about 300 people in the city of Berlin, the New York senator was asked by one participant to repudiate her 2002 Senate vote for a measure that cleared the way for the March 2003 invasion.

“Knowing what we know now, I would never have voted for it,” she responded. “I gave him the authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth. I said this is not a vote to authorize pre-emptive war.”

Later at a high school gym packed with about 3,000 people in the state capital, Concord, she was asked if she wanted to “have it both ways” by calling for the war’s end after voting for the measure five years ago.

“I do not believe that most of us who voted to give the president authority thought he would so misuse the authority we gave him,” she replied. “He said he was going to the United Nations to put inspectors in. He did, but then he didn’t let them complete their mission and he rushed to war.”

Clinton, an opponent of Bush’s plan to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq, is the early Democratic front-runner and received enthusiastic applause and standing ovations in both New Hampshire cities.


But the questions highlight how the war remains a potential vulnerability for her among party activists whose support is critical in the party’s nomination process.

“I don’t think this issue going to subside anytime soon,” said Dean Spiliotes, director of research at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “There is a lot of pressure on her now to explain her vote and almost do a little penance for it.”

At the start of a two-day weekend swing across the state, Clinton said the United States needed a new diplomatic touch to fight terrorism and deal with the Middle East.

“As president I know I can’t kill, jail or occupy every nation we don’t agree with and I cannot just wish that all the terrorists be wiped off the face of the Earth,” said Clinton, who aims to become the first female U.S. president.

The wife of former U.S. President Bill Clinton is running first among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters with 35 percent support, according to a University of New Hampshire survey released last week.

To be sure, she is the Senator from the state that suffered the most from the 9-11 attak, and at first, the Iraq war was billed as part of the so called global war on terror (and still is, by those who subscribe to Thomas Barnett’s “functioning core” and “disconnected gap” theory). And, both New York Senators voted yes, as did John Kerry. And, while I don’t want to conflate Hillary Clinton’s views with those of Bill Clinton’s, it is no coincidence that Barnett’s book The Pentagon’s New Map was one of those featured in the Bill Clinton reading list in the Clinton Museum store.

As an aside, here are the “no” votes:

NAYs —23
Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Byrd (D-WV)
Chafee (R-RI)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Dayton (D-MN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Graham (D-FL)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Wellstone (D-MN)
Wyden (D-OR)

Senator Obama also faces challenges. There are those who feel that he is too naive in thinking that he can hold to progressive values while making “across the asile” compromises.

I’ve written a lot about Obama, including a major piece for The Nation magazine last year. In my time studying his career, it became obvious that this is a person who wants to do the right thing and has genuinely strong convictions. But he also seems to believe that the reason our country has such challenges is because all sides of every issue have not come together in unity (I’ve gone back and forth wondering whether this is a sincere belief or merely a justification for overly cautious behavior, but I’m not a psychoanalyst, so I have no idea).

The problem with this outlook is that it fundamentally misunderstands why we are at this moment in history. Forty-five million Americans are uninsured, and millions more underinsured not because low-income health advocates and the insurance industry haven’t sat down together and sung Kumbaya. It’s because, unlike every other industrialized country in the world, we have a government that has been bribed into allowing the insurance industry to profiteer off sick people. Our global warming problem did not happen because environmentalists and the auto industry refused to hug each other. It happened because the auto industry has bought off enough politicians to make sure we don’t increase fuel efficiency standards.

Put another way, there is no “third way” or “consensus” way out of many of our most pressing problems, as Obama seems to believe. Why? Because many of our most pressing problems are zero-sum: someone is benefiting from the status quo, and to change the status quo means someone may lose something. And if you don’t believe me, just take a quick look at history.

We didn’t get food safety laws by getting food processing companies to be nice to regular folks – we got it because people like Upton Sinclair and the progressive movement forced our government to crack down. Women didn’t get the right to vote because male politicians decided to be nice – they got the right to vote because they demanded it. The civil rights reforms didn’t happen because Lyndon Johnson just one day decided to champion the Civil Rights Act – it happened because a movement to frontally challenge power was built.

I believe somewhere in his heart, Barack Obama knows this reality, and struggles with it.

But, I really believe that Obama is no fool; remember that he started off his career by helping the disadvantaged. His view of the world doesn’t come from a gated community nor from the windshield of a Lexus. And Senator Obama can be forceful when it is called for.

Example: recently, the Austrailian prime minister made an idiotic statement:

PRIME Minister John Howard has launched a broadside against US presidential hopeful Barack Obama, warning his victory could destroy Iraq and prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Mr Howard’s stinging attack against the popular Democrat, who formally launched his bid for the Democratic candidacy overnight, also appears to commit Australian troops to staying in Iraq well into 2008.

Only days after saying Australia’s alliance with the US was about more than his personal friendship with US President George W Bush, Mr Howard warned that an Obama victory would be a boost for the terrorists.

The man who wants to be the first black US president has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008, a timetable Mr Howard believes is dangerous.

“I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory,” Mr Howard told the Nine Network.

“If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”

Labor described Mr Howard’s attack against Senator Obama as unprecedented.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland said Mr Howard was virtually telling people not to vote Democrat.

“It’s the first time that I can recall that an Australian prime minister has engaged in US politics in such a partisan way… actually telling US citizens what side of politics they should vote for,” he said.

I guess that means that we aren’t the only ones who are stuck with an idiot for a head of state.

But Senator Obama didn’t take this lying down:

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, traveling with the senator in Iowa, said Howard’s words were misguided.

“The United States has sacrificed more than 3,000 brave young men and women and $400 billion, only to find ourselves mired in the middle of a sectarian civil war,” he said. “Even Republicans … know that more of the same is only going to attract more terrorists to Iraq and make our country less safe.”

Gibbs went on to say that Howard was not in a position to be overly critical.

“If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home,” he said. “It’s easy to talk tough when it’s not your country or your troops making the sacrifices.”

Note also that Senator Obama has responded forcefully and appropriately to attempts to smear his upbringing.

Obama on Wednesday called the reports “scurrilous,” and his communications director e-mailed reporters a lengthy memo attempting to set the record straight.

“I think they recognize that the notion that me going to school in Indonesia for two years at a public school there at the age of 7 and 8 is probably not going to be endangering in some way the people of America,” Obama said on NBC’s “Today” show.

The push-back was a signal Obama would fight to protect his reputation in the presidential campaign.

Many Democrats argued that Kerry’s failure to challenge aggressively his critics in the 2004 presidential race cost him in his effort to unseat President Bush. A group with conservative ties, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, charged that Kerry did not deserve the medals he won in the Vietnam War – despite his combat record of bravery and valor. Kerry announced Wednesday that he will not run again in 2008.

“We will not be swift-boated,” said Obama communications director Robert Gibbs. “And we won’t take allegations that are patently untrue lying down.”

Senator Obama, while polite, is no wimp.

February 11, 2007 Posted by | edwards, hillary clinton, injury, obama, swimming | Leave a comment

Humor and 2008 Presidential Race

First some more thoughts on the 2008 Presidential race: of course, I am backing Barack Obama all the way; I’ll write some words about some of the emotions that I felt after I say a few other things. But, as far as the other candidates go, there are two that I also like: John Edwards and, yes, believe it or not, Hillary Clinton.

That I like John Edwards is not a surprise; after all I am a liberal and he is popular with liberals. But my liking Hillary Clinton might be a surprise, as she is downright unpopular in many liberal circles. As one better known “Kossak” and “My Left Wing” blogger writes:

I am a liberal. But most of the people I’ve met who call themselves “progressives” seem to be pretty average liberals — just like me — adhering to a pretty reasonable, rational and average liberal belief system, but willing to vote for a Democrat they don’t like and who isn’t liberal, when that Democrat the only viable option on the ballot running against a Republican. Let’s face it — there are DAMNED few circumstances when even the worst, most “conservative,” practically Republican (DINO) Democrat isn’t a damned sight better a candidate — as far as being of service to liberal ideals — than the most liberal, practically Democratic (RINO) Republican.

A RINO may vote our way on a few of our key issues, but when push comes to shove, especially in a political climate like the one that’s developed over the past 20 years, partisanship seems almost ALWAYS to take precedence over ideals and practical benefits. Which means we might get this hypothetical RINO’s vote (let’s call her Olympia, for our purposes) on a couple of issues (say, reproductive rights and minimum wage), when it comes to those votes when it would REALLY matter, goddamn if she won’t throw her lot in with her party over her principles — Every. Motherfucking. Time.

So, yeah, I’ll probably vote for the Democrat, virtually every time. He may be a slimy, appeasing, conservative, Republican-ass kissing dickweed (Let’s call him Joe Ben um, Evan, for our purposes, shall we?), but at least I can count on his vote when it… Oops. Well, you know what I mean.

I’ll vote for the Democrat on a ballot in almost any case, except when that Democrat is a sure loser. […]

But that’s not the only circumstance under which I will not vote for Hillary Clinton.

Even if she DOES have a chance of winning and even if my vote WOULD count in California… I will not vote for her. I cannot vote for her. Voting for Hillary Clinton would go against every fucking principle I have.

I will vote for a socialist, a third party candidate with leftist leanings, or write in my own name before I vote for that appeasing, centrist, unscrupulous, vanity-riddled asshole.

That’s right, you heard it here: Maryscott O’Connor will not vote for Hillary Clinton even if she is the Democratic candidate on the 2008 presidential ballot — EVEN IF THE POLLS HAVE HER NECK AND NECK WITH THE REPUBLICAN. I hate her, I hate her, I hate her — and I WILL NOT fucking vote for her.

And this blogger (a female, by the way), is not alone. The most recent straw poll at the Daily Kos shows that support for Senator Clinton is scant:

dKos Reader Poll. 2/6. 25,514 respondents (as of 2.7.07 3 p.m. PT)

2007 2006 2005
Edwards 26
Obama 25
Clark 14
Other 8
Richardson 6
No F’ing Clue 6
Kucinich 4
H. Clinton 4
Vilsack 1
Biden 0
Dodd 0
Gravel 0

Of course, she isn’t seeking support from us, though her staff does monitor what goes on there.

DAILY KOS (Devilstower) — “I’m overjoyed to see a woman running. I’d be happier if women candidates made up half the options (or heck, let’s have all women for a season, just to help even things out), but right now I’m happy enough that a woman is running, and that she’s considered a serious, first-tier candidate.”

DAILY KOS DIARY (nyceve) – “I’m an open and honest person, and I’m profoundly moved by her announcement. What was unimaginable just a few decades ago, is now something we can almost touch.”

DAILY KOS DIARY (Yellow Dog Blue) – “How has she survived and thrived? Not by heavying up her armor. Not by engaging and overwhelming her opponents. Not even by appealing for public sympathy. Instead Hillary has just gone her business being a Senator, building personal relationships and support, getting and using power. And I really admire that.”

So, I am not the only liberal that is ok with her. I think that many folks lose track of this:

With a moderate message and a call for a ”cease-fire” between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate factions, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted a new leadership post yesterday with the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist group that helped propel her husband to the presidency in 1992.

Clinton’s increased involvement with the DLC — the organization Bill Clinton used as a springboard to his national campaign when he was governor of Arkansas — is the latest indication that she is seeking to build a moderate base for a possible run for the presidency in 2008.

At the DLC’s annual convention in Columbus yesterday, the senator’s address to about 300 state and local Democratic officials promised a return to the prosperity of the Bill Clinton presidency. Using imagery first conjured by her husband, she blasted Republicans, saying they are presiding over a sluggish economy and allowing the nation’s image in the world to tarnish.

”They turned our bridge to the 21st century into a tunnel back to the 19th century,” said Clinton, a New York Democrat. ”The clear mission of a unified Democratic Party is to back us out of that Republican tunnel, fill it in, go back across the bridge, and get America back in the business of building dreams again.” […]

Addressing longstanding tensions between the party’s liberal and moderate wings, Clinton said Democrats need to stop airing their differences publicly. The war in Iraq has been a continuing source of party discord, and a series of comments Dean recently made have also exposed internal rifts.

‘Let’s acknowledge that what separates us on occasion is but a tiny sliver in comparison to the Grand Canyon gap between us and the Republican Party,” Clinton said. ”I think it’s high time for a cease-fire.”

As far as my overall feelings about the Obama rally, and I hesitate to say this because I really want Obama to win, but there was just a small part of me that actually enjoyed seeing someone who has skin as dark as mine (ok, darker) out there making a credible run for president. And it felt so good to be part of a multiracial crowd cheering him on.

I really felt the contrast when I went to dinner at one of my favorite places to eat tonight. I won’t name the place as I don’t want to be negative about it; in fact I like the owner and I think he does right by his customers and by his employees. But tonight, eating there made me feel as if I were in a Branson like place; it was just such a homogenous crowd.

Again, there is nothing wrong with that; and the owner has made it a point to hire minorities, and he gives everyone who comes in excellent service. I feel good about bringing my business there. But I sure enjoyed the Obama crowd!

Humor and Entertainment

Ok, the first one is political and sensitive Republicans ought not to watch it. The next one is about what athletic ability looks like (ok, the title is wrong; no one has a 66 inch vertical jump, but what this guy does is still impressive). The last one is yoga related humor.

February 11, 2007 Posted by | edwards, hillary clinton, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, yoga | 1 Comment