Told you it was icy outside

I read the American Conservative Magazine. I disagree with it on social affairs, but am in agreement with it on the Iraq war and on President Bush. Yes, they have been anti-Bush for some time, and even endorsed John Kerry for President in 2004.

Here is a cartoon that they ran in their last issues (which also contained a letter to the editor which said that Republicans should try to impeach President Bush!)


Note: this cartoon is from

Local: Of course I am supporting Senator Obama for President in 2008. One reason is, of course, that he was once a well regarded State Senator and he has ties to many in our community. Here is a photo of him with Barbara Van Auken, who is my city council representative. I worked to help her get elected in 2005 and am very pleased with her performance.

This was taken, I think, while he was still in the State Senate.

Speaking of Obama: a youtube member (spacegeek?) put together Obama and Hillary Clinton’s Presidental Exploritory Committee announcements on the same video so you can see the contrast:

Blueollie “Moran” Award

While searching for Hillary Clinton videos, I came across this one (and it is short):

Ok, that was pretty straight forward, right? Senator Clinton was demonstrating some of the potential legal issues a school voucher would raise, right? (e. g., if a voucher is approved for a common, non-controversial situation, someone might take the government to court to get a voucher approved to attend some whack-job school).

But oh no, wingnuts have trouble with that. The video was titled “Hillary Goes Nuts”; the clown who posted this hadn’t a clue as to what she was doing.

That is downright scary.


February 24, 2007 Posted by | hillary clinton, morons, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social | Leave a comment

Freezing Rain, Aching Knees, Clinton’s Wrath, Obama in Austin, Good Boxing

It is a good time to write as the day is gray with freezing rain; I only hope that the roads are clear enough for me to get in tomorrow’s scheduled “long swim”.

Today I did a couple of yoga classes with Suzanne, who was filling in for Vickie, my usual yoga teacher.

My knees (especially my left one) usually ache a day or two prior to a rainstorm and my left one really barked at me yesterday. I kind of wondered if it was all in my head or if there was something to it; evidently there is. This is from the New Scientist Magazine:

I damaged my knee ligaments in a skiing accident about two years ago. Ever since then I have had what I describe as a “weather forecasting knee”. Before it rains I always experience pain in my knee. This happens in both summer and winter and does not seem to be related to humidity. I am not the only person to have reported this. Why does my knee hurt before it rains and, more interestingly, how does it know? How does it detect the onset of rain?

Plenty of studies have looked at pain associated with weather, especially in people suffering from arthritis. These show that there is a real effect, but oddly there has been little research into what causes the pain – Ed

The human body can be viewed schematically as a clump of gelatin-filled balloons mounted on a stick. Undamaged tissue – be it fat, muscle, or bone – is relatively elastic and will expand and contract when subjected to changes in atmospheric pressure. Scar tissue, in contrast, is very stiff and dense, and does not expand or contract appreciably within the range of normal atmospheric fluctuation.

Imagine if several of the balloons in your hypothetical body clump were glued together and then the surrounding pressure was lowered. The balloons would expand, so the glued-together area – representing the scar tissue – would distort and pull as a result, which in living tissue results in nerve stimulation and a rapid onset of pain. This persists until the pressure normalises or the scar eventually stretches to relieve the distortion. This may take hours or days.

I occasionally mystify my office staff by announcing in the morning: “It’s going to be a busy day for drop-in patients.” They never know how I can predict the 20 or 30 who will call with a severe increase in pain from surgery or an old injury. I’d rather my staff think I have magical abilities than confess I read the weather report.

Immersion in a hot tub and gentle exercise may ease the pain. Waiting for the weather to change works too, and here in east Texas that usually happens before you can fill the tub.

Steven Ballinger, Nacogdoches, Texas, US

It may sound like an old wives’ tale that wet weather aggravates arthritis, but in the 1960s a rheumatologist called Joseph Hollander built an experimental climate chamber to test the claim. He found a high humidity combined with low barometric pressure – the meteorological situation before it rains – is indeed associated with joint pain or stiffness.

One explanation is that the change in weather makes injured ligaments swell, and the nerves around the joint sense this as pain. Another is that air within the joint may expand when barometric pressure drops, again causing the nerves to report pain.

A recent experiment by Japanese scientists demonstrated that back pain associated with changes in barometric pressure is linked to the vacuum phenomenon, in which gases build up in the spaces between the vertebrae (Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques, vol 15, p 290). Such bubbles form as the discs between the vertebrae deteriorate, and are more common in older people. They can also form in other joints.

Avoid pain by keeping your knee dry and warm. And, of course, you are now more qualified than most to work as a local TV weather forecaster.

Frank Wong, Sydney, Australia

One explanation for the weather-predicting knee is “bone bruising” – bleeding and oedema caused by microscopic fractures of trabecular, or porous, bone. Some studies have found these are relatively common after ligament injury to the knee.

Maybe changes in atmospheric pressure could change the volume of the oedema in the bone and produce pain. If so, two predictions might be made: an MRI scan will show bone bruising, and the patient’s ability to predict weather should decrease as the injury heals.

Peter Hallas, Copenhagen, Denmark
From issue 2541 of New Scientist magazine, 04 March 2006, page 97

Note: I’ve had three operations on my right knee, including two “regular ones” and one arthoscopic “lateral release“:

Lateral Release

A lateral release is a surgical procedure where tight structures to the outer side of the kneecap (patella), when they are causing the patella to tilt abnormally, are cut to allow the kneecap to assume a better position. The cut is an inch or more from top to bottom.

The procedure can be done in different ways – from inside the knee as part of an arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) or from the outside via a small cut (incision).

What is cut is the ‘lateral retinaculum’, a fibrous support on the outer side of the kneecap, but some other structures may also be cut at the surgeon’s discretion if the release needs to be more extensive.

Side note on endurace athletes and how we think: Obviously, no two humans think alike. But I read something on crackhead’s blog which reflected how I feel sometimes. I hasten to point out that my feelings often don’t reflect reality, and that these feelings often crop up when I am frusterated by something (as she was as she wrote this). She was having a rough time (overstress at work, not much sleep, attacked and bitten by a dog, then woken up by a noisy neighbor) and so probably wasn’t in the most serene space when she wrote it. Nevertheless, when the demons in my head act up, they say something like this: (note: Crackhead is a triathlete who does ironmans)

I know that I am a person that is challenging to manage and relate to–I have exceedingly high expectations not only of myself but of others–but I also deliver, and I deliver well, and I deliver quickly and honestly. But more and more, I am coming to the conclusion that in business and in many areas of life, what the people want is mediocrity. I am not that. I will not be that, I will not become that, I will not stoop to the level of not having goals, not wanting to make a contribution, not becoming as knowledgeable as I can about things that matter to me and the rest of the world, not wanting to stand out and shine, not wanting to excel, not wanting to be my very best as often as possible. I will not be the person who learns nothing, knows nothing, says nothing, does nothing, acts randomly, cultivates excuses and coasts through life. Others may not like me for demanding so much of them, but in the end they like themselves better because of it. Why? Because that’s how we become better people. By seeking new challenges and rising up to meet them. I cherish and will defend to the death friends and relationships (business and personal) that challenge me in ways that force me to learn and grow; otherwise, I mentally toss them aside as mere chaff. Harsh, you may say, but nobody ever became great by submersing themselves in mediocrity. When I find myself surrounded by mediocrity and piss-poor standards, I make my own challenges and raise the bar. Some would accuse me of being a troublemaker or malcontent. Fine. Keep living in your vacuum of consciousness and world of inertia. Not me. Not today. Not ever.

I sometimes feel this way when I deal with undermotivated students too; though I admit that when I was a student, I probably caused some frusteration in my professors as well. 🙂

Again, I don’t advocate feeling like this, nor do such feelings actually reflect reality in my case; in fact I am incompetent in many areas.

Politics in the Middle East
On another note, we often get a steady diet of news from the Middle East and about Muslims and much of what we see in America paints the Middle East (and their people) in a bad light. So, to present a bit more balance, I’d like to point to this video (don’t know how to embedd it) and to this article:

Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland’s prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “never justified,” while 24 percent believe these attacks are “often or sometimes justified.”

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world’s most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are “never justified”; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent.

Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?

Hardly. Yet, far too often, Americans and other Westerners seem willing to draw that conclusion about Muslims. Public opinion surveys in the United States and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorists. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that’s an understandable polling result.

But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts – and they are detrimental to the war on terror. When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the war on terror.

Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice.

Terror Free Tomorrow’s 20-plus surveys of Muslim countries in the past two years reveal another surprise: Even among the minority who indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries. For example, 71 percent of bin Laden supporters in Indonesia and 79 percent in Pakistan said they thought more favorably of the United States as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries – not exactly the profile of hard-core terrorist sympathizers. For most people, their professed support of terrorism/bin Laden can be more accurately characterized as a kind of “protest vote” against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti- American or anti-Western view.

In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore, the enemy is the violence they exalt.

Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope.

America’s goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies. The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do.

• Kenneth Ballen is founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding effective policies that win popular support away from global terrorists.

Senator Hillary Clinton: framing views on her.
A recent article came out about the Clinton campaign. The thrust of the article is that the Clintons (both Bill and Hillary) reward loyality.

“It’s like being married, and suddenly you fall in love. You’re a good person, and a loyal person … you have a history with the Clintons,” she said. “And you feel like you’re cheating.”

If some Democrats have cheating on their minds, it coincides with the rise of Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, who has attracted big crowds and evidenced that elusive quality of political charisma, “something you cannot manufacture,” Huffington said. “It is priceless — and we haven’t seen it for a long time.”

And that has posed trouble for the old love: Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York senator, front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and the wife of former President Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton, who is scheduled to attend a lunch fundraiser in San Francisco today, expected in her presidential campaign to tap the same liberal Democratic sources of money in Hollywood and elsewhere that backed her husband’s successful bids for the White House. And, Huffington and others say, the Clintons tend to play a style of politics that is all or nothing — you’re my friend or my enemy. […]

“A lot of people here tonight have long relationships with the Clintons,” Huffington said.

“They’ve been good to you. They’ve given you Kennedy Center honors. They’ve helped your kids … but you’re suddenly in love. What do you do?”

Clinton attended a reception Thursday set up by her longtime supporter Ron Burkle, followed by another organized by Haim Saban, a big Democratic moneyman and Clinton donor.

Even as she meets with supporters, Clinton’s campaign has wrestled with a potentially damaging story that centers on her competition with Obama for attention and money. Geffen, a former Clinton fundraiser who now backs Obama, said in an interview with columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times that Clinton is a divisive figure and that she and her husband lie with impunity.
Huffington, an observer of the Hollywood and political scenes, agreed that insiders have felt uncertain about changing loyalties.

“The Clintons have made it very clear that, in the political world, no dalliances are allowed. There is zero tolerance for that,” Huffington laughed. “It’s sheer loyalty versus sheer fear.”

And it’s reinforced, she said by the “constant e-mails being sent out about the senator’s poll numbers, along with the implication that ‘if you give any money to anybody else, you’re on the outs.’ And that when she is the nominee, and when she’s the president, she will remember.”

A veteran California Democratic campaign strategist — speaking only on condition of anonymity because of clients he represents — agreed.

The message from the Clinton campaign, particularly its chairman, Terry McAuliffe, has been blunt, the strategist said, “that you’re with us or against us. This isn’t one of those races that you can max out (in contributions) to all the candidates. The message from Team Hillary is: We’re ahead, we’re going to be the nominee — and we will remember who our friends are.”

But Chris Lehane, the White House spokesman for Bill Clinton, said remembering who your true-blue friends are is a must for a political winner.

“I think history is pretty clear that those folks who are loyal to the Clintons find the loyalty is really reciprocated — and that is one of the reasons why so many people have stuck with them for so long,” he said. “They really do respect and appreciate it when someone is loyal, and that manifests itself in many ways … that is what good politicians do.”

Lehane also strongly challenged the implication that the Clintons can be punitive and unforgiving — behavior that he said doesn’t work for the long view in politics.

“At the end of the day, politics is about putting one vote after another; you always want to be growing and expanding,” he said. “People who get to this level of politics tend to have concentric circles around them.”

Of course, one can spin this at least a couple of ways: one can say that the Clinton’s respect loyalty (a good thing) or one can spin it as that they have a “with us or against us” mentality, as Bill Dennis (author of the blog Peoria Pundit) just did. Note: Dennis is a libertarian who likes Obama.

Speaking of Senator Obama: he had a successful campaign apperance in Austin, Texas, where he drew 15,000 people to the Auditorium Shores. My sister was there, and I’ll link to her story and photos when she puts them up.

The above shows some of the crowd at the event and the video his here.

Barack Obama excited at least 15,000 people at Auditorium Shores on Friday with vows to unify the United States behind high hopes for change, including bringing U.S. combat troops home from Iraq by March 2008.

Standing on a platform slickened by intermittent rain, the third-year U.S. senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate celebrated the nation’s history of overcoming injustices, ranging from slavery to civil rights discrimination to the denial of voting rights to women.

Obama, who has proposed a phased removal of U.S. troops from Iraq starting in May, said he’s proud of opposing the American invasion of Iraq from the start.

That could give him a political edge for the 2008 Democratic nomination against other candidates who cast votes authorizing the invasion, including U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

Most of all, Obama said, Americans ask “why we are still in a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged. . . . Austin, it is time for us to bring this war to an end.”

Obama, 45, has enjoyed big crowds since he launched his campaign before 17,000 people outside the Illinois Capitol in Springfield two weeks ago. Some 9,000 people saw him speak in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Five times in thanks, Obama called Friday’s turnout on the south side of Town Lake unbelievable.

Rally organizers said 20,000 to 22,000 people watched the 40-minute speech. A city official estimated that the crowd was closer to 15,000.

The civil rights lawyer, speaking without notes, occasionally rambled and possibly erred by dubbing Texas the “Longhorn state,” an affront to anyone not tied to the University of Texas.

Austin real estate agent Cynthia Carlisle said Obama did not seem to have the charisma of Bill Clinton, the last Democrat to hold the White House. But she got a positive chill when he referred to activism toward ending racial segregation.

“He needs to pump it up,” Carlisle said of the speech.

By and large, crowd members were transfixed and thrilled. […]

Boxing: Friday Night Fights

I got to watch some entertaining boxing last night. The first fight I watched was an eight round welterweight bout between Edvan Barros (9-3-1) and Enrique Gutierrez (10-2). At the start of the fight, Guitierrez hurt Barros and had him in trouble. Barros came back strong in the second round and scored a knockdown.

The fight continued to feature non-stop action the rest of the way, with Barros being the aggressor but Gutierrez landing some hard counterpunches. Barros won a hard fought unanamious decision 77-74, 76-74, 79-72, though my card had it a bit closer (77-76).

The next fight featured 200 pound cruiserweights Darnell Wilson (21-5-3) against Kelvin Davis (24-5-2, former IBF cruiserweight champion). In my opinion, Davis won the fist two rounds mostly because Wilson didn’t do all that much; he seemed to be using his left as a “measuring” type of pawing jab. In fact, Davis knocked Wilson down in the second round, though Wilson bounced right back up and didn’t appear to be hurt.

But in round three, Wilson found his range and unleashed a 40 punch barage, 23 which landed according to the computer scoring (I counted 32 shots which landed, but never mind). Davis was hurt by one of the early shots but, unfortunately for him, wasn’t knocked down. Instead he stayed upright and was therefore subjected to more punishment. Finally, he went down with his legs in the air.

After getting back up, he was out on his feet and was still staggering badly; hence the referee (correctly) ended the fight.

Had he taken a knockdown earlier, he might have had a chance to recover a bit.

Then I saw a undercard 6 round heavyweight fight between up can coming Mike Marrone (17-0, 13 KOs) won and 31 year old 9’th grade science teacher Jermell Barnes (17-14-2, 4 KOs).

Though Marrone was quicker (due to age) early in the fight and piled up a lead, Barnes rallied a bit to at least split the middle rounds and move within striking distance with one round to go. On my card, Barnes could have won the fight with a last round knock-down or at least pulled to a draw; he was a bit further behind on the official cards. Marrone did enough in the last round to pull out a close but unanimous 58-56, 59-55, 58-56 decision (ESPN had it 58-56; I had it 57-57). For more readthe report at

February 24, 2007 Posted by | boxing, hillary clinton, injury, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, ultra, yoga | 9 Comments