3 December 2007

Athletics: ultra runner Julie Berg talks about how she took her ultramarathon performances (already pretty good to begin with) to a whole new level.

See a photo of the lean, mean running machine here.

50K Racewalk Olympic Trials qualifier Ray Sharp talks about his training routine. Keep in mind that he is darned close to 50 years old!

I guess that I have some work to do!

Football: I am watching the Patriots play the Ravens on TV. The Ravens are playing very well at the moment; it is becoming clear to me why it is so darned hard to win games in the NFL, no matter how good you are.

I think that the Patriots are the NFL’s best team, but I don’t see them running the table (perhaps “only” going 15-1 or 14-2) but I do see them winning it all.

Right now the Ravens are up 24-17 early in the fourth quarter.

Update This game was wild. The Ravens were driving while up 24-17 but threw an interception. New England drove it and got a field goal to cut it to 24-20 with about 8 minutes left. A couple of exchanges; that got New England to the red zone with just under 2 minutes left.

One 4’th down and 1; Patriots try a quarterback sneak and the Ravens stuff it! But, the Ravens sideline had called a time out; no play. Then New England runs a play; but there is illegal procedure, so no play. So on 4’th and 6, Brady tries to pass; no one is open and he runs for the first down.

Three more plays, then another 4’th down, the Patriots try to pass; and the pass is incomplete…but the Ravens were caught holding. New set of downs.

New England scores with 46 seconds left; a Ravens linebacker gets flagged for unsportsman like conduct, throws the flag into the stand, and gets another 15 yards. New England makes the extra point, but gets called for offsides, and so the Ravens has 35 yards in penalties on the kickoff!

So now it is 27-24 Patriots, with 14 seconds left, Ravens the ball on their 45, and the Patriots just dropped an interception. 8 seconds to go.

Last play, long pass, jump ball, RAVENS catch it, but the receiver is tackled at the 2 yard line; Patriots win!

Wow. What a game!

Note: when I was a teenager, I just knew that I was going to be a pro football player. How could I have been so delusional? 🙂

Clinton’s Attack on Obama might well backfire. Source, hat tip to HillaryAttacks.

When a political candidate opens a line of attack against an opponent, it’s usually wise to avoid the kind of criticism that will be viewed by many observers as the pot-calling-the-kettle-black, the sort of finger-pointing that can easily be turned back on the finger pointer.

That would seem to be the case with the renewed effort by Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign to dirty up Sen. Barack Obama by accusing him of wanting to be president ever since he was just out of the womb and not being honest about it. The Clinton campaign issued a press release Sunday that included this:

In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want To Be a President.’ His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga “asked her class to write an essay titled ‘My dream: What I want to be in the future.’ Senator Obama wrote ‘I want to be a President,’ she said.” [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]

In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want to Become President.’ “Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama’s kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, ‘I Want To Become President,’ the teacher said.” [AP, 1/25/07 ]

Yes, you can believe your eyes. The Clinton people are citing a kindergarten essay by Obama as evidence against him in a presidential campaign. Good thing he was born before widespread pre-natal ultrasounds. Who knows how they might’ve used that against him?

Clinton’s people have thrown similar jabs before at Obama but it hasn’t fazed him. So there seems to be a little more fury behind the punches as now that Obama’s may have taken the lead in Iowa according to the Des Moines Register’s most recent poll.

Obama, of course, has gotten under the Clinton campaign’s skin by saying that unlike some in the race (read Clinton) he hasn’t been angling for the White House for decades.

Coming from the same political school as her husband, who himself appeared to be eyeing the presidency since at least toddlerhood, a school which holds as a first principle that no opponent’s charge can go unanswered, the Clinton campaign decided it needed to respond in kind.

Note that It hasn’t gone the route of saying the former first lady hasn’t been calculating her White House bid for years. That wouldn’t be credible.

So the only other attack is to try a little political jiu jitsu, to turn try and turn Obama’s attack against him.

One goal is to show that the senator from Illinois is no stranger to ambition, calculation and all those other attributes often ascribed to the junior senator of New York. That might help blunt such charges against Clinton if she can make it appear that she and Obama are really very much alike in this respect.

But it’s also a play at catching out Obama as not the man of integrity he portrays himself as in order to turn down the wattage on that halo voters seem to see when he walks into a room.

The problem for Clinton is that her campaign’s attempt to paint Obama as a calculating type who precociously hungered for the presidency runs the risk of reminding voters of some of the very questions they have about her, that she herself has wanted the presidency for decades and has plotted her course with that in mind. There’s the real possibility of blowback because of perceived hypocrisy. […]

There is also this: Obama is not rolling over for her.

Clinton Release: “Sen. Obama Rewrites History, Claims He Hasn’t Been Planning White House Run…Senator Obama’s comment today is fundamentally at odds with what his teachers, family, classmates and staff have said about his plans to run for President,” Clinton spokesperson Phil Singer said. ‘Senator Obama’s campaign rhetoric is getting in the way of his reality.'” [Clinton Press Release, 12/2/07]

Washington Post: “Losing Ground In Iowa, Clinton Assails Obama.” “With a new poll showing her losing ground in the Iowa caucus race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) mounted a new, more aggressive attack against Sen. Barack Obama.” [Washington Post, 12/3/07]

Des Moines Register: “Clinton Begins To Swing Harder At Rival Obama.” “Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ramped up her criticism of rival Barack Obama.” [Des Moines Register, 12/3/07]

New York Daily News: “Hillary Clinton Attack On Barack Obama Comes After She Loses Iowa Lead.” “Hours after a new poll showed her falling behind for the first time in Iowa, Hillary Clinton launched a blistering personal broadside on rival Barack Obama.” [New York Daily News, 12/3/07]

Chicago Tribune: “This Clinton Attack On Obama Could Boomerang.” “The Clinton people are citing a kindergarten essay by Obama as evidence against him in a presidential campaign. Good thing he was born before widespread pre-natal ultrasounds. Who knows how they might’ve used that against him? Clinton’s people have thrown similar jabs before at Obama but it hasn’t fazed him. So their seems to be a little more fury behind the punches as now that Obama’s may have taken the lead in Iowa according to the Des Moines Register’s most recent poll.” [Chicago Tribune, The Swamp, 12/3/07]

New York Times: “An Attack, From the Candidate’s Mouth” [New York Times, 12/2/07]

New York Times: “Battered by Poll, Clinton Hits Back” [New York Times, 12/2/07]
Clinton Release: “In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want to Become President. ‘Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama’s kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, ‘I Want To Become President,’ the teacher said.” [AP, 1/25/07]

Clinton Said “I’m Not Interested In Attacking My Opponents, I’m Interested In Attacking The Problems Of America.” “I’m not interested in attacking my opponents, I’m interested in attackng the problems of America. And I believe we should be turning up the heat on the Republicans — they deserve all the heat we can give them.” [Clinton Jefferson Jackson speech]

Clinton Campaign Chair Said “We’re Going To Stay Positive….We’re Not Going To Attack Our Fellow Democrats.” “Terry McAuliffe, Clinton’s fundraiser and adviser, provided more evidence of that general-election strategy and warned other candidates that going negative could hurt them in Iowa. ‘We’re running our campaign for president,’ McAuliffe said. ‘We’re going to stay positive and get our message out. I’m not worried about what the other candidates are going to do. I think if other candidates want to go negative, they do that. I think you do that at their peril here in Iowa. People don’t like that. But we’re not worried about anyone else. We’re running our campaign. Tonight, she’s saying she wants to talk about taking the heat to the Republicans. We’re going to focus on the Republicans. We’re going to focus on winning the White House. We’re not going to attack our fellow Democrats. That’s not what we want to do.” [MSNBC, 11/11/07]


There is the old saying about not throwing stones if you live in a glass house. 🙂

Now of course, this is politics, and I expect there to be elbows to be thrown. But there is such a thing as “Ms. Pot, meet Ms. Kettle” and this certainly applies here. There is hardly anyone who is more ambitious than Hillary Clinton. That isn’t bad; few people have achieved greatness without ambition. But to bring up someone’s kindergarten essays??? (he wrote essays in kindergarten?) 🙂

If she doesn’t stop it, she’ll get to the point where she won’t even be taken seriously. Please: admit your gaffe and move on!

Oh, by the way, if we are going to dig up all of that old stuff: who was a Goldwater Girl? Does this mean that you believe that “extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice?” Does that explain your Iraq War vote?

Yes, Hillary Clinton was once a Republican! She says in her book “Living History” that she didn’t so much as leave the Republican Party as it had left her.

Muslim Teddy Bear Incident

“This was a completely innocent mistake,” he said in an office decorated with sepia photographs dating back to the school’s colonial heyday. “Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam.”

Police raided the school, where Gibbons also lives, on Sunday.

“We tried to reason with them but we felt they were coming under strong pressure from Islamic courts,” said Boulos. “There were men with big beards asking where she was and saying they wanted to kill her.”

A similar angry crowd had gathered by the time she arrived at the Khartoum police station where she is being held.

Unity, founded early in the last century, is one of several British schools run along Christian lines in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Its high brick walls shut out the dust of everyday Sudanese life, transporting the visitor into the shady courtyard of an Oxbridge college or English private school. Many of its pupils come from well-to-do Sudanese families keen for their children to get the best education that money can buy. But Sudan is ruled by religious conservatives. Sharia law was introduced in 1991; alcohol is banned and women must wear headscarves. Convicted criminals are routinely flogged or executed.

The bizarre turn of events that led to the teacher’s arrest began in September, soon after she arrived in the country, according to colleagues who have rallied in her support. Her young class was due to study the behavior and habitat of bears, so she suggested that pupils bring in a teddy bear to serve as a case study. A seven-year-old girl brought in her favorite cuddly toy and the rest of the class was invited to name him. After considering the names Hassan and Abdullah, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Muhammad — the first name of the most popular boy in the class.

“No parents or teachers complained because they knew she had no bad intention,” said Boulos. Until last week. Parents from another class raised concerns with the school. Then Sudan’s feared police came calling at the weekend. Gibbons’ colleagues said they feared a disgruntled member of staff may be using the issue to cause trouble.

Bishop Ezikiel Kondo, chairman of the school council, said: “The thing may be very simple, but they just may make it bigger. It’s a kind of blackmail.” Khartoum has exploded with anger at accusations of blasphemy in the past. Last year angry demonstrators denounced cartoons of the Prophet that appeared in Danish newspapers. And there have been protests at the actions of Zoe’s Ark, a French charity accused of trying to smuggle children out of neighboring Chad.

Fortunately things have turned out ok:

A British teacher jailed for insulting Islam after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad flew home Monday after Sudan’s president pardoned her, a British embassy spokesman said.

Gillian Gibbons’ conviction under Sudan’s Islamic Sharia law shocked Britons and many Muslims worldwide. Hard-line Muslim clerics in Sudan accused her of intentionally seeking to insult Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, and the case angered some Sudanese, sparking a protest where demonstrators called for her execution.

Her release came after two British Muslim politicians from the House of Lords met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir early Monday to plead for her freedom.

Gibbons also sent a written statement to al-Bashir that she did not intend to offend anyone and had great respect for Islam.

Hours after al-Bashir’s pardon, Gibbons left the country on a flight home. “I can confirm she has left Sudan,” spokesman Omar Daair told The Associated Press. She was believed to be on an Emirates flight with a stopover in Dubai before heading to London early Tuesday. […]

My take: I am glad that she is ok. I am just glad that I live in a more secularized society, where a mass of reasonable people (most who have moderate religious beliefs themselves) are there to moderate the influence of OUR fundies.

More on Religion: Deconversion is a blog for those of us who were formerly theists and then “deconverted”. There is a long discussion on how one came to deconvert and how one can help others deconvert:

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into” Jonathan Swift (Irish writer and satirist)

“Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it” Karl Barth (influential Christian thinker)

Above are two quotes, both of which I tend to accept as sensible. So I’m trying to work out the implications of it for those who live inside a world of faith and those who live outside.

Following the logic in both these statements, it’s very difficult to ‘reason’ someone out of a faith position – certainly if it’s a faith held as a child.

My first question to Christians now is always ‘what made you first believe?’ – and if the answer involves the phrases ‘well I was brought up in a christian home…’ or ‘at the age of 13 i went to a camp…’ – it doesn’t mean their faith is any less real or valid, but as far as discussion goes, again I must refer to Swift and Barth.

Can the de-converted people on this site maybe take a moment to discuss what they think are the best ways to guide people from their prison of faith?

Personally, my journey was an “evolution” of sorts. My path away from “faith” started with my reading the Bible; I was struck at how primitive, backwards and utterly ignorant the people of the “Old Testament” were. Then I found myself asking “do I really believe that these “miracles” really happened, as were these actual historical events? More and more I began to see those beliefs as metaphors that are guides for life in “the here and now” and that is more or less where I am at this moment.

Technically, I belong to the Unitarian Universalist Church, but I rarely attend anymore (mostly when the walking/cycling weather is bad 🙂 ) and I am certainly in the “agnostic/humanist” wing of the church. I see no evidence for anything supernatural, and I reject any ideas of “tarot cards, dousing, healing pyramids, healing crystals, astrology, golden tablets read by seeing stones, resurrected people, flaming chariots taking prophets to heaven, angels, devils, witchcraft, sorcery, numerology, creationism, voodoo, sun gods, goddesses, Zeus, Thor, ghosts (holy or otherwise), pixies, lepricons, Invisible Pink Unicorns, etc.”

I can’t prove that these things don’t exist but I can’t prove that pixies aren’t in my living room either.

Now as far as those “new atheist books” go: what they’ve done for me is they have made me more comfortable talking about how I feel. Hey, I hear people say stuff about their god and their religion all of the time, so why can’t I talk about my beliefs?

Of course, I have the luxury of working in and hanging around social circles where atheism is an accepted, in fact, arguably the most popular world view. That is so much different than in many other places in our society!

This isn’t to say that I don’t have associations with those who believe in supernatural stuff. For example, I love my yoga teacher, and she actually believes in haunted houses and ghosts; she even claimed that the ghost of her mother pushed her down the steps of her mother’s farm house. Of course I claimed that her falling down the steps was more a function of narrow steps, poor lighting, and the two glasses of wine that she had, but I digress. 🙂

But about the conversion stuff: frankly, though it makes me feel good to have a daughter who gave me a Flying Spaghetti Monster t-shirt for my birthday, I have no desire to deconvert anyone. Atheism is something someone has to come to on their own; I keep talking out loud in case there are people who are “closet atheists” but feel uncomfortable coming out, and to help other “doubters” be more comfortable in exploring and expressing their doubts.

On a lighter note This takes about 10 minutes; it is Kathy Griffin talking about her “suck it Jesus” speech (she lampoons everyone who makes a big show of thanking their god for their winning an award). Hat tip to Friendly Atheist.


I have way too many blogs on my blog reader. Today alone, two women talked about being nude (no photos though 😦 ); one was arrested for public nudity

Since my early parole from jail — where I’ve done forty of a ninety-day sentence for public lewdness– will take effect on the condition that I attend group therapy […]I was given emphatic instructions not to bring my sketchbook along to the first session, so I felt downright naked – and said so. That raised a laugh. At least half the women there, like me, had done time for disrobing in public, a regal offense having nothing to do with actual unprotected nakedness.[…]

and one talked about doing household chores, and grocery shopping while naked:

I’ve been a lazy poster lately, busy but boring. I didn’t think anyone would relish posts about doing laundry, making cookies and grocery shopping. (While NAKED!!)[…]

And of course, there is the female triathlete posting her “endurance thong” and “moon” shots:

Highlights of my race day: I mooned the crowd at the IGA Hill […]

Album with the thong.

Album with the moon.

I have to wonder about the internet company that I keep! 🙂 (and vica-versa).


December 4, 2007 - Posted by | football, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, religion, running, science, swimming, ultra, walking

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