Last of the Month Comments

One of my favorite “professional” blogs is Crooks and Liars. In particular, I like Mike’s Blog Roundup. This week, check out his section “Holy Crap!”. It lead me to some cool blogs, including this one. Also, there was a link to a nice article about a debate between Atheist Christopher Hitchens (and, in my opinion, a neocon) and Chris Hedges, who is a liberal Christian. Politcially, I have more in common with Hedges, but in terms of belief in the supernatural, I have more in common with Hitchens.

I don’t like to run my party down, but I think that the following two cartoons (Britt and Markstein) are fair:

Obama and Clinton are still in my good graces as they were two of the 14 “no” votes (as was Dodd).

Here Obama talks about his health plan:

An interesting catfight to see “whose affair is worse” 😉

Tom DeLay claimed recently that his adultery was better than Newt Gingrich’s because at least he didn’t do it while they were prosecuting Bill Clinton for lying about his own adulterous affair. Yeah, if you’re going to cheat on your wife, it’s much better to get it out of the way before you start demonizing someone else for doing the same thing.

Here’s DeLay on his moral superiority to Gingrich and why his adultery was better:

“I was no longer committing adultery by that time, the impeachment trial. There’s a big difference.”

Do you think there’s a big difference? I wonder if his wife thought there was big difference?

He also said it was okay because he later found Jesus.

“Also, I had returned to Christ and repented my sins by that time.”

I wonder if his wife agreed with that rationale, too. Try telling this to your wife — No, it’s okay honey, I found Jesus after I slept with that other woman.

Hmmm, “honey, uh, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has forgiven me for my roll in the hay with my yoga teacher…is it now ok?” 🙂

May 31, 2007 Posted by | obama, politics/social, religion, science | Leave a comment

Day prior to leaving

Workout notes Last night, 4 miles with the group. This moring: 1100 yards of easy swimming, yoga, then 3 miles with Ms. Vickie. We then ate breakfast.

Tomorrow: pick up the rental car, head to Minneapolis to the FANS race; so today will see me pay bills and pack.

About FANS: yes, I am not ready to race, though I am ready to safely participate. I have no hard and fast goals, though I really want at least 62 miles (Uli Kamm award), but I don’t know how “not ready” I am. I’ll just guess:

  • 62 miles: D (passing)
  • 70 miles: C (ok, I’ll take it and feel ok about it)
  • 80 miles: B (good, pretty happy)
  • 90 miles: A (outstanding, better than expected)

For the record,

  • I once hit 101 when I was in peak condidtion on a perfect day,
  • I got 88 one month later (still tired),
  • hit 85 at 24 hours at Leanhorse (blistered feet, gravel course, altitude, net evelation gain),
  • 83 last year at FANS (fat, tired, out of shape),
  • 81 at Ultracentric 2004,
  • 76 at Houston (heavy rain, fat, out of shape, got sick),
  • 75 at McNaughton in 2004 (100 miler on hilly trails),
  • 71 at ultracentric in 2005 (nap, threw up).
  • My median is 82 miles, and I might be able to meet that, say, via 45 miles in the first 12 hours, and maybe 40 in the second. Last year saw me get 48 and 35.

    Nevertheless, I am nervous (in a fun way) anxious and eager. We’ll see what Providence brings.


    Why do people resist science?

    An interesting article from the site, and first appeared here.

    These intuitions give children a head start when it comes to understanding and learning about objects and people. But these intuitions also sometimes clash with scientific discoveries about the nature of the world, making certain scientific facts difficult to learn. As Susan Carey once put it, the problem with teaching science to children is “not what the student lacks, but what the student has, namely alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding the phenomena covered by the theories we are trying to teach.”

    Children’s belief that unsupported objects fall downwards, for instance, makes it difficult for them to see the world as a sphere — if it were a sphere, the people and things on the other side should fall off. It is not until about eight or nine years of age that children demonstrate a coherent understanding of a spherical Earth, and younger children often distort the scientific understanding in systematic ways. Some deny that people can live all over the Earth’s surface, and, when asked to draw the Earth or model it with clay, some children depict it as a sphere with a flattened top or as a hollow sphere that people live inside.

    In some cases, there is such resistance to science education that it never entirely sticks, and foundational biases persist into adulthood. A classic study by Michael McCloskey and his colleagues tested college undergraduates’ intuitions about basic physical motions, such as the path that a ball will take when released from a curved tube. Many of the undergraduates retained a common-sense Aristotelian theory of object motion; they predicted that the ball would continue to move in a curved motion, choosing B over A below.

    The authors went on to point out that people predict the motion correctly if the question is phrased in terms of water coming out of a hose; this is probably because we’ve all used hoses before. The article continues:

    Part of the explanation for resistance to science lies in how children and adults process different sorts of information.

    Some culture-specific information is not associated with any particular source. It is “common knowledge.” As such, learning of this type of information generally bypasses critical analysis. A prototypical example is that of word meanings. Everyone uses the word “dog” to refer to dogs, so children easily learn that this is what they are called. Other examples include belief in germs and electricity. Their existence is generally assumed in day-to-day conversation and is not marked as uncertain; nobody says that they “believe in electricity.” Hence even children and adults with little scientific background believe that these invisible entities really exist, a topic explored in detail by Paul Harris and his colleagues.

    Science is not special here. Geographic information and historical information is also typically assumed, which is how an American child comes to believe that there is a faraway place called Africa and that there was a man who lived long ago named Abraham Lincoln. And, in some cultures, certain religious beliefs can be assumed as well. For instance, if the existence of supernatural entities like gods, karma, and ancestor spirits is never questioned by adults in the community, the existence of such entities will be unquestioningly accepted by children.

    Other information, however, is explicitly asserted. Such information is associated with certain sources. A child might note that science teachers make surprising claims about the origin of human beings, for instance, while their parents do not. Furthermore, the tentative status of this information is sometimes explicitly marked; people will assert that they “believe in evolution.”

    When faced with this kind of asserted information, one can occasionally evaluate its truth directly. But in some domains, including much of science, direct evaluation is difficult or impossible. Few of us are qualified to assess claims about the merits of string theory, the role in mercury in the etiology of autism, or the existence of repressed memories. So rather than evaluating the asserted claim itself, we instead evaluate the claim’s source. If the source is deemed trustworthy, people will believe the claim, often without really understanding it. As our colleague Frank Keil has discussed, this sort of division of cognitive labor is essential in any complex society, where any single individuals will lack the resources to evaluate all the claims that he or she hears.

    This is the case for most scientific beliefs. Consider, for example, that most adults who claim to believe that natural selection can explain the evolution of species are confused about what natural selection actually is—when pressed, they often describe it as a Lamarckian process in which animals somehow give birth to offspring that are better adapted to their environments. Their belief in natural selection, then, is not rooted in an appreciation of the evidence and arguments. Rather, this scientifically credulous sub-population are deferring to the people who say that this is how evolution works. They trust the scientists.

    This deference to authority isn’t limited to science; the same process holds for certain religious, moral, and political beliefs as well. In an illustrative recent study, subjects were asked their opinion about a social welfare policy, which was described as being endorsed either by Democrats or by Republicans. Although the subjects sincerely believed that their responses were based on the objective merits of the policy, the major determinant of what they thought of the policy was in fact whether or not their favored political party was said to endorse it. More generally, many of the specific moral intuitions held by members of a society appear to be the consequence, not of personal moral contemplation, but of deference to the views of the community.

    Adults thus rely on the trustworthiness of the source when deciding which asserted claims to believe. Do children do the same? Recent studies suggest that they do; children, like adults, have at least some capacity to assess the trustworthiness of their information sources. Four- and five-year-olds, for instance, know that adults know things that other children do not (like the meaning of the word “hypochondriac”), and when given conflicting information about a word’s meaning from a child and from an adult, they prefer to learn from the adult. They know that adults have different areas of expertise, that doctors know about fixing broken arms and mechanics know about fixing flat tires. They prefer to learn from a knowledgeable speaker than from an ignorant one, and they prefer a confident source to a tentative one. Finally, when five year-olds hear about a competition whose outcome was unclear, they are more likely to believe a character who claimed that he had lost the race (a statement that goes against his self-interest) than a character who claimed that he had won the race (a statement that goes with his self-interest). In a limited sense, then, they are capable of cynicism.


    In sum, the developmental data suggest that resistance to science will arise in children when scientific claims clash with early emerging, intuitive expectations. This resistance will persist through adulthood if the scientific claims are contested within a society, and will be especially strong if there is a non-scientific alternative that is rooted in common sense and championed by people who are taken as reliable and trustworthy. This is the current situation in the United States with regard to the central tenets of neuroscience and of evolutionary biology. These clash with intuitive beliefs about the immaterial nature of the soul and the purposeful design of humans and other animals — and, in the United States, these intuitive beliefs are particularly likely to be endorsed and transmitted by trusted religious and political authorities. Hence these are among the domains where Americans’ resistance to science is the strongest.

    Emphasis mine. This really rings true for me. After all, who can be an expert on everything?

    But read the whole article; it is excellent.

    Dawkins: why does he attack religious liberals too?

    Science, and the rationalist movement in general, face a “sinister challenge” from leftwing thinkers who promote cultural relativism, according to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

    He told a packed Hay Festival audience that although the threat from creationists and the religious right is well-documented, science is also under threat from the other end of the political spectrum: “I think we face an equal but much more sinister challenge from the left, in the shape of cultural relativism – the view that scientific truth is only one kind of truth and it is not to be especially privileged.”

    The author sites episodes where nonsense under the guise of political correctness harms science. The author continues:

    Earlier in the debate, Prof Dawkins had revealed that last year he received a Christmas card from the archbishop of Westminster – although not one from President Bush.

    The third panelist, the President of the Royal Society, Sir Martin Rees, felt that he should grasp this olive branch with both hands because scientists needed to form an alliance with moderate faith groups in order jointly to fight fundamentalist religion.

    “He should send Christmas cards to a few more archbishops,” said Prof Rees, “on the grounds that if we give the impression that science is hostile to even the kind of mainstream religion that we have in this country, I think it will be more difficult for us to combat the kinds of anti-science sentiment that are really important.”

    But with Prof Dawkins now seemingly set on training his formidable intellectual artillery on politically-correct lefty thinking, the chances that he will expand his Christmas card list to cuddly archbishops seem pretty remote.

    Ok, to be sure, the post-modernists are unworthy of respect (think of Sandra Harding’s “Newton’s Rape Manual” remark, see also Science and Superstition). It is best to treat these folks like fundies.

    But as far as the religous moderates, I see it this way: yes, we should seek to remove superstition. But as of right now, people are, in fact, superstitious! Example: while in Little League, I grew to be sure to wear my “lucky belt buckle” for games. Or think to the NFL: the Dallas Cowboys (back in the days when they were a good team) used to wear white jerseys all of the time (at home, and usually for away games as most teams wear dark at home). But they were so into their white jerseys that some teams who normally wore dark at home made it a point to wear white at home when they played the Cowboys! (New York Giants, Philadephia Eagles were two examples).

    Superstition in sport is mostly harmless.

    But superstition in science education IS harmful. The superstition of a real “hell” with everylasting flames and torment is harmful, especially to kids. The superstition that killing someone (or lots of someone) will result in an eternity in paradise is harmful.

    Guess what? Religious liberalism is completely opposed to these superstitions!

    True, I don’t buy resurected bodies, son’s of deities being sacrificed for our sins, etc. But sometimes the road to non-superstition follows a “gentle slope” upward, and sometimes one wins a long term war by starting out with essential tatical victories in the most important places.

    I saw take the allies where we can find them.

    May 31, 2007 Posted by | religion, science, swimming, ultra, walking | 1 Comment

quickie midday

I just got through getting supplies; I sure consume lots of food at an ultra. I got bread, bagles, crossants (sp), juice, diet cola (caffine), dried fruit and slim-fast (for those later hours).

I also got a new pad for my orthotics, lube, and a couple of new bottle carriers. My others are all but worn out from 10 years of constant use. 🙂

I didn’t mean to blog so much today, but at the webboards there is a fight…er..spiritied discussion on what type of attire, photos, poses are appropriate for yoga and for a woman’s business in general…..terms like “slut” and “semi-nude” are being tossed around. 🙂

Some of the sites being discussed:


Rainbeau Mars

here is a typical photo:

In case you are wondering, the above photo is from a site that sells eyeglasses. I don’t know what a woman kneeing over with her butt in the air has to do with glasses, but I am all for it!

I hope that the ladies continue to, ahem, research this topic. 🙂


Freddie Thompson has announced that he has formed a committee to consider running for president and Dennis Kucinich has announced that he’ll show up at the Fox debates (which Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are skipping).

Hmmm, I am hoping that Fred Thompson and Denis Kucinich go head to head and that the camera focuses on their respective wives. 🙂

Also from the Kos: a lesson on how to say things carefully so as to not attack anyone and get your message cross effectively.

Dog Whistles- an Anti-Semitism Primer Hotlist
by dhonig [Subscribe]
Tue May 29, 2007 at 08:08:14 PM PDT

Of late, there has much ado in the I-P debates. NO, DON’T GO, I’m not going to start yet another one of those. Instead, I am going to attempt to address a single issue which continuously arises in those debates, to everybody consternation- accusations of anti-Semitism, and cross- accusations of abuse with same. I am going to write about the “dog whistles” of anti-Semitism.

A dog whistle is a whistle used to train dogs- it works in a frequency inaudible to human ears.

“Dog Whistle Politics” plays on the term, defining words in speeches intended only for a limited crowd, words that just slip by everybody else. Gorge W. Bush (or his speechwriters, to be exact) is a master of dog whistle politics when addressing the nation but speaking to his “base.” His mention of the Dred Scott decision in the ’04 State of the Union Address is a perfect example- most people just said “Whaaaat?,” but the anti-choice crowd heard If elected to another term, I promise that I will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. […]

Oh no, you say, yet again another Alan Dershowitz clone screaming “Anti-Semitism” because someone dared to criticize the government of Israel.

(for the record: I love Dershowitz’s popular law books; they are well written and informative. When I start one, I have a hard time putting it down. But get him started on Israel and he becomes a fundie…but I digress)

But this Daily Kos diary by dhonig is simply outstanding; it contains a ton of wisdom. I hope that he/she seeks to have this published in a magazine of some sort.

This article contains a well reasoned, rational argument for being careful as to how you present an argument and what might happen if you insert the wrong phrases, even if you were to do so unintentionally.

And this can also explain why two almost like minded people can read or hear the same thing and one react very emotionally and negatively to the complete befuddlement of the other.

I recommend reading the whole article.


Richardson explains his energy policy

Joe Biden asks a good question.

Barack Obama in New Hampshire

Edwards on veterans

Hillary Clinton on health care (long; I mentioned Obama’s plan yesterday)

May 30, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, ultra, walking, yoga | 1 Comment

Yoga For Runners Article

Workout Notes 1000 yards of swimming (easy); taper mode. There was an article about our yoga for runners class in today’s newspaper; I’ve linked to the entire article and provided some thumbnails which link to the Journal Star Photos.

Yoga For Runners Article

From the Peoria Journal Star, 30 May, 2007

This is Vickie Culbertson’s yoga for runners class, and although the athletes are working on taking deep, even breaths and reaching their “chi” state, they laugh and joke around, too. They tell the Journal Star photographer who is visiting that day to refrain from taking photos when Culbertson leads them into the bug pose, which some might consider a compromising position. In the standing poses – which target hips, hamstrings or quads, the large muscles that distance runners tend to beat up on – a few will lose their balance for a split second then correct themselves. Sometimes there are grunts and groans. But at the end of the class, after several minutes of silence and relaxation, they say they feel fantastic.

Especially Melody Stonier, a grandmother of five who has run nine marathons and returned from crossing the finish line in Boston just days before attending the class. She said yoga helps get her a little farther over the hump of post-marathon soreness. She would prefer the 50 minutes of stretching over a soak in an ice bath any day.

“I felt much better after yoga than I did before yoga,” Stonier said.

Stonier, who runs anywhere from 30 to 50 miles a week depending on her training schedule, had read about the benefits of yoga before trying it. Since she started attending class two to three times a week, she said she has benefitted from increased flexibility, has fewer problems with her muscles and has an increased sense of calmness, even on days when she doesn’t do yoga.

Kevin Carrigan feels limber enough after the class to head directly out for his weekly 18- to 20-mile run.

“One thing some runners don’t do very well – or as much as they should do – is stretch and warm up,” Carrigan said.

Carrigan, who has been running for about 30 years and has nearly 40 marathons and two ultramarathons under his belt, also attends Culbertson’s regular yoga class at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, after which he’ll head out for a 10-mile run. He said the class helps him find a calmness in his busy life.

“It’s a centering part of my day and my week, and I feel more flexible,” he said. “I feel looser, even on non-yoga days. Physically and mechanically, I feel more at ease with my own body.”

Culbertson, who started teaching the RiverPlex class last January, leads her students through poses that help lengthen the spine, strengthen the ankles and feet, stretch out the hamstrings, open the hips. She has been known

to keep her students in the downward dog position for five minutes straight, but says every pose isn’t for everyone.

“Anybody any age can do it, but they have to start slow, listen to their body and not compete with anybody else in the class,” she said.

Ollie Nanyes, a math professor at Bradley University, has been taking yoga since August 2003. Nanyes participates in various endurance sports such as swimming, running and race walking. He said yoga has improved his posture and lowered his injury rate, but what really keeps him coming back to class is the physical challenge.

“I really no longer go to yoga for the benefits. I go because it’s another way to challenge the body. No matter how good you get at it – and I’m not saying I’m good, I still consider myself a beginner – there’s always something out there you can’t do, and I like working toward something I can’t do.”

Some of the students attend the class looking for relief from an injury.

Mitch Gregory, a triathlete who’s been running for 20 years and is now “pushing toward 50,” has been attending yoga class since February.

“I never really have been an avid stretcher,” Gregory said. “I was just one of those typical guys – I’d bike, swim and think I knew it all and I just thought, ‘I don’t need to do that, I’m good.’ ”

Last September he became bothered by a nagging hamstring injury. He’d run through the pain some days, take a lot of ibuprofen, complain often.

“That hamstring was the first time I’ve ever pulled a hamstring, and it was up high in my hip,” he said. “I just kept saying, ‘It’s going to go away.’ Well, it didn’t.” […]

Article photos at the Journal Star website

Click on the thumbnail to be directed to the Journal Star Photo; more photos available at the link.

May 30, 2007 Posted by | ultra, Uncategorized, yoga | 2 Comments

A couple of comments

Peoria Pundit laments that a local columnist is down to every other week:

A source who asked not to be identified says that Jerry Klein’s weekly column has been cut to twice a month. Either the decision was made by corporate overlords at GateHouse Media, or the local bosses, in anticipation of budget cuts from GateHouse, decided to trim some dollars by cutting him back. Whether or not the subject matter of his columns were your cup of tea, it’s a fact that Klein remains one of the most respected journalists to ever come out of the Peoria Journal Star. […]

One of the most respected journalists to ever come out of the Peoria Journal Star??? You’ve got to be kidding me! I knew that our paper isn’t very good and that most of our columnists are, well, quite frankly, dimwits, but this guy is an insipid buffoon!

Bascially the stuff he comes up with is roughly the caliber of the stuff you might hear in a barber shop on Saturday morning, or at a bar during happy hour.


Going door to door for atheism!

Watch the whole video; some atheists give Mormons a taste of their own medicine.

May 30, 2007 Posted by | creationism, politics/social, religion, science | Leave a comment

Cat fight and a response

The “cat fight” (5 minutes)

Redstate update weighs in:

May 29, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Back in Peoria….

The drive up from Texas featured heavy rains and some heavy traffic on I-35 between Austin and Dallas. I simply hate that stretch of road; it is my least favorite long stretch.

But we made it home; it feels good though I miss my daughter.

Workouts: nothing, though I might get in a couple of miles of walking while my truck gets prepped for the long trip to Minneapolis this weekend.


Obama for universal health care:

Obama has made his health care plan public.

OWA CITY, Iowa – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) on Tuesday offered a sweeping health care plan that would provide every citizen a means for coverage and calls on government, businesses and consumers to share the costs of the program.

Obama said his plan could save the average consumer $2,500 a year and bring health care to all. Campaign aides estimated the cost of the program at $50 billion to $65 billion a year, financed largely by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy that are scheduled to expire.
President Bush wants to make those cuts permanent.

“The time has come for universal, affordable health care in America,” Obama said in a speech in Iowa City, at the University of Iowa’s medical school.

While Obama’s plan is aimed at expanding coverage, he said cutting costs was also essential.

“We have reached a point in this country where the rising costs of health care has put too many families and businesses on a collision course with financial ruin and left too many with no coverage at all,” Obama said. “This cost crisis is trapping us in a vicious cycle.”

Obama’s plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money to pay for expanding coverage. It would also create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage.

Those who can’t afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers. The plan is similar to the one covering members of Congress.

Obama’s package would prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage because of pre-existing conditions. […]

For more details (pdf files) go here.

Dick Cheney
He is a big time liar. O’Brien catchs him in the act during his speech to West Point cadets.

This is what Dick Cheney said before West Point Cadets:

“We’re fighting a war over there because the enemy attacked us first,” Cheney said.

Now, can anyone out there really speak for this man’s integrity or sanity? We are fighting a war in Iraq because who attacked us?

Memorial Day
Frankly, I have mixed feelings during this day. On one hand, I respect those who serve our country in uniform. Though my service (U. S. Navy) was peacetime, my dad saw action (twice) in Vietnam; he had a total of 23 years in the U. S. Air Force.

On the other hand, I really get the feeling that the lives of our (mostly young) men and women are being wasted. So I know where Bob Geeiger is coming from when he says:

I know many of my fellow Veterans disagree with my sentiments on this, but I no longer march in Memorial Day parades. I’ve tried to rationalize it, but I simply won’t march next to other Vets who voted for George W. Bush, support continuing the Iraq disaster and, whether they admit it to themselves or not, tacitly endorse the creation of more dead for next year’s observance.

So, how to change things? Here is one idea:

The burden of war is never equitable.

Thousands of American troops have been killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many thousands more will bring home at least some of that burden. But most Americans experience no direct or even indirect cost of a war soon to last longer than World War II.
Would reinstituting the military draft even things out, spreading the responsibility while influencing politicians to think twice before sending men and women into harm’s way?

Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York thinks so. Challenging Iran and North Korea as well as increasing the US force level in Iraq to try to stem the heightened violence there can’t be done without a draft, says Mr. Rangel, a Korean War combat vet. He has dusted off his proposal to bring back conscription, which was suspended in 1973.

Rangel’s bill is unlikely to go far in Congress, where opposition reflects public opinion. But his proposal does raise important questions about how the armed forces are put together today and how the US military operates.

“I do think we need a draft,” says Charles Moskos, military sociologist and professor emeritus at Northwestern University. “Our country is experiencing what I call ‘patriotism lite.’ Nobody’s willing to sacrifice anything. We don’t even have gas rationing. Congress votes to go to war, but won’t send its own children. We don’t have enough troops. We’ve used reservists and the National Guard in an unprecedented manner.”

Then there’s the element of economic and social privilege as relates to military service today, says Dr. Moskos. In his 1958 Princeton University class of 750 men, more than 400 served in the military, he says, including many who went on to distinguished careers in business, education, and government. In Princeton’s most recent graduating class of about 1,100 men and women, nine entered the military.

“These are not by any means bottom-of-the-barrel soldiers today,” says Moskos, who was drafted into the Army after graduation. “But they are working-class and lower-middle-class young men and women.”

In congressional testimony last week Army Gen. John Abizaid, top commander of US forces in the Middle East, acknowledged that former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki was right when he said at the beginning of the war that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to occupy Iraq. But General Abizaid also said that increasing troop levels in Iraq now, as Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona and others have called for, would put “a tremendous strain” on the military. Most military experts find no legitimate reason to bring back conscription.
Retired US Naval Reserve Capt. John Allen Williams agrees.

“Rangel’s bringing it up for political reasons,” says Dr. Williams, a professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago. “But you know what? He’s right. If we have some mechanism that links the military to civilian society in a way that spreads the burden around when you use the military, it’s less likely to be used. On the other hand, once it is used it’s more likely to be used in a total way – people are going to want to get it over with.”

Military sociologist Moskos’s answer is a three-tier system of required public service for all young men and women: uniformed military service, homeland security jobs (guarding borders, ports, nuclear plants, and other sites), or civilian tasks such as teaching in poor neighborhoods and helping the elderly.

No school loans or other education benefits should be awarded unless the recipient serves in one of those three areas for a year or two, says Moskos.

Still, at this point in a drawn-out war with no clear light at the end of the political and military tunnel, a return to the draft seems unlikely.

In another interview, Moskos points out an interesting fact:

Moskos: It could. We’re paying enlistees in constant dollars about three times what draftees were once paid. And in the long term, costs skyrocket due to retirement benefits when you have a large career force. What you really want are citizen soldiers serving one, two, three years—whatever. There are financial arguments for it too.

It’s also interesting to note that draftees through World War II, Korea and Vietnam had a lower desertion rate than volunteers. It’s very counterintuitive, but it’s largely attributed to higher-quality personnel. About 30% of the people who enter the military today don’t complete their initial term of service.

PT: You’ve also said that mandatory national service wouldn’t have to mean combat. Besides programs like AmeriCorps and Teach for America, what else could national service look like?

Moskos: One of our problems is that we’re not guarding things here. We have ships coming into our ports and we don’t know what’s on them. These homeland security jobs would be perfect for college graduates.

Peacekeeping would be ideal too. We have 800-900 people on the Sinai Peninsula right now.
I could recruit the class at Berkeley to do those jobs. Just say, “We’ll forgive your student loans, help pay for your graduate school education, and you can go off to the Sinai for a year.” It would free up our professional soldiers for actual combat in the hot spots around the world.

May 29, 2007 Posted by | obama, politics/social | 1 Comment

With Brother Neel

This morning we went to the University of Texas campus, walked around and then spet time with Yogi Neel Kulkarni (Authentic Yoga)

It was lots of fun, and I learned stuff.

Running: a short essay about elite athletes and women runners.

Politics: Giuliani to get the Harriet Miers treatment?

No, he isn’t thinking of wearing heavy eyeliner. But rather, some social conservatives are going to go after him. Frankly, I doubt that this will have much effect; even social conservatives such as Cal Thomas realize that they aren’t going to always get their way.

Conservative Evangelical Christian voters have come a long way in a short time. From their nearly unanimous condemnation of Bill Clinton for his extramarital affairs, a growing number of these “pro-family” voters appear ready to accept several Republican presidential candidates who do not share their ideal of marriage and faith.

Among those seriously under consideration by these church-going folks is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been married three times and who had an affair with the woman now his wife when he was married to wife number two. The second wife, Donna Hanover, once recorded a political commercial for Giuliani, touting his virtues as a husband. She called him “honest and very kind” and “this is the kind of man I wanted to be the father of my children” and “Rudy is such a great Dad.” It’s on YouTube. In recent days we’ve learned from his son Andrew that he and his father are estranged, but that they’re working on it. Andrew says he got his values from his mother. […]

That substantial numbers of conservative evangelical voters are even considering these candidates as presidential prospects is a sign of their political maturation and of their more pragmatic view of what can be expected from politics and politicians. It is also evidence that many of them are awakening to at least two other realities – (1) they are not electing a church deacon; and (2) government has limited power to rebuild a crumbling social construct.

While “character issues” can overlap with other concerns when considering for whom to vote, conservative evangelicals are beginning to see them as less important than who can meet the multiple challenges faced by the nation. Put it this way: if you are about to have major surgery and your only choice was a church-going doctor with a high mortality rate, or an agnostic with a high success record, which would it be? I’d choose the agnostic.

Conservative evangelicals have grown up. But they still can’t stand Hillary Clinton, though she’s only been married once and is a Methodist. Jimmy Carter, also once married, only lusted in his heart. It makes one nostalgic for the “good old days.”

Fact is: Giuliani is a war-monger, and that is good enough for many wingnuts.

Not to say, of course, that they won’t try to drive Giuliani to the right on social issues;

Imagine a Democrat telling his (or her) party what Giuliani said in his Houston speech: “It we don’t find a way of uniting around broad principles that will appeal to a large segment of this country Š we are going to lose this election.” Would the Democratic Party drop its zealous support of abortion on demand; or its religious zeal over global warming; or its commitment to higher taxes and bigger government? No way! Only Republicans are supposed to compromise their principles and ignore – as liberals do – 40 million-plus dead babies.

If Giuliani believes this, how does he explain Ronald Reagan’s two terms and the presidency of once pro-choice, but then pro-life, George H.W. Bush? The consistently pro-life position of the current President Bush did not keep him from winning two terms.

There is only one reason to “hate” abortion and that is that it ends a human life after it has begun, but before it has a chance to reach its potential. People who hated segregation did not sit back and, because of opposing views, do nothing to stop it. And what’s this business about finding abortion “morally wrong”? Does that not imply a higher standard than a Supreme Court decision, which even some liberal law professors have criticized as constitutionally flawed?

If Giuliani really hates abortion, he will propose steps to reduce their number. If he wants to split the difference on this most contentious social issue – maintaining choice while reducing the number of abortions – he could favor “truth in labeling” legislation similar to a federal law that requires information on bottles, packages and cans. Sophisticated ultrasound machines have been shown to contribute to a sharp reduction in abortions for abortion-minded women. Such a proposal would allow him a rarity in politics: to have it both ways.

Should Giuliani manage to win the nomination – still a dubious prospect given his social liberalism – and should he face Hillary Clinton in the general election, social conservatives would be faced with a choice. Giuliani has promised to name “strict constructionist” judges to the Supreme Court, which is where this issue will ultimately be decided. Would social conservatives be satisfied with such a pledge; or would they stay home and not vote, allowing Clinton to win?

One can be sure any judges Clinton names would have to pass an abortion “litmus test.” No Supreme Court justice nominated by a modern Democratic president has voted pro-life, but several justices named by Republicans have voted pro-choice. They and the presidents who nominated them are: Warren Burger and Harry Blackmun (Nixon); John Paul Stevens (Ford); Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy (Reagan); and David Souter (Bush 41).

It is no guarantee that electing a Republican president will produce pro-life justices, but it is a virtual certainty that no judge nominated by a Democratic president will disappoint the pro-choice lobby.

Here is the problem for social conservatives who view abortion as the ultimate issue. If they vote for Giuliani, can they ever “go back,” or will their political virginity be forever compromised? If they vote for Giuliani and he makes good on his promise to name only strict constructionists, will they be closer to achieving their objective of stopping most abortions? Should they stay home and a Democrat wins and names two or three liberal justices, their goal of halting, or at least sharply reducing the number of abortions, may be pushed back for at least a generation.

Giuliani could offer a plan to substantially reduce the number of abortions, which might cut him some slack with pro-life voters. But voters also have a choice among other GOP candidates who are pro-life. If they’re thinking about supporting Giuliani, they can wait until Giuliani tells them more.

And I’d like to thank Mr. Thomas for reminding those of us who want a liberal Democrat why we should work to help Senator Clinton get elected, should she win the nomination.

Graduation: President Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, gets booed off of the stage at graduation exercises. What made those in the U. Mass administration thought that he should get an honoray degree? Has lying become an academic discipline?

May 27, 2007 Posted by | hillary clinton, politics/social, running, walking, yoga | Leave a comment

Sunday in Austin

Not much going on here as yet and I haven’t done anything physical. But I did see this funny youtube video from

May 27, 2007 Posted by | politics/social | Leave a comment

Austin: LBJ Historic site

This morning, I walked a couple of very slow miles with Barbara and Olivia; very slow.

Later, we had lunch and then toured the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch and National Historic Site in Johnson City, Texas (named after Polk Johnson, one of President Johnson’s uncles)


Barack Obama on his “no vote” and on the attempts of McCain and Romney to take political advantage. BTW, it was BUSH who vetoed the first bill that congress passed; it is he that chose to “not fund the troops”.

May 27, 2007 Posted by | obama, politics/social | Leave a comment