Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Brown like the color of excrement

Wherein seriously my hatred of this company is completely rational based on the way they treat their customers

Instapundit is writing about Amazon Prime shipping.

I'm usually able to select FREE Super Saver Shipping (most of our orders are > $25) and find they rarely take the extra 3-5 days Amazon warns. Depending on the popularity of the item I've even had stuff show up as quickly as if I'd chosen express shipping. And the FREE Super Saver Shipping is usually a USPS delivery. Which is good, since UPS can rot in hell. If I need 2-day shipping, I'll gladly pay a reputable company for the work.

Amazon gave us a free trial membership for Amazon Prime and I canceled after a month when all deliveries came by UPS. I wish mail order companies were more upfront about who they ship with, because if I know the only way they'll ship is UPS I shop somewhere else or do without.
I have a similar policy with Ticketmaster--who can also rot in hell. You tell me my top ten bands of all time are playing together and I can have a front row seat if I simply call Ticketmaster and I'll stay home picking weeds with tweezers.

Give me the option of free UPS for tomorrow or $10 FedEx for next week, and I'm going with FedEx. At some point FedEx would become prohibitively expensive, but that doesn't mean I'm shipping with UPS. Occasionally a UPS shipment slips through and it almost always results in us calling their 1-800-customerssux line and yelling. Typical is an incident from a couple months ago when we were waiting for a package. Watching the UPS tracking information, we saw it had been delivered. Get home and there's no package and no notice on the door that delivery was attempted. We call UPS and they state that once the system shows delivery was made, it is no longer UPS's concern. They wash their hands of the whole thing and the customer has to work it out with the merchant. Luckily, the package was delivered first thing the next day because, apparently, the driver lied about it being delivered so he could go home.

Not the worst. That might be the time a few years back. This was a bizarre incident when multiple deliveries were expected and, to keep it short, deliveries that required a signature were thrown at the door (that's my explanation for why the box was so dented) and packages that did not require a signature the driver refused to deliver because he insisted he needed a signature. In the end, someone from the UPS center hand-delivered a few of the packages on her way home from work. Another couple hundred dollars worth of deliveries were refused and canceled as I told the driver to go to hell when he attempted one last delivery.

These might be extreme cases, but almost every delivery we've ever had from UPS has involved some level of drama. Plus the fact they have no problem walking into an unlocked door to drop off a package--I don't care if it is the garage, stay the hell out of my house. Then there are the times the UPS driver will hide the package outside and it isn't found until days later. These are not apocryphal stories, they've happened to us and to our friends. You might be reading this and thinking "Geez, bill, I've never had any problems." Then I guess your anecdotal evidence trumps my anecdotal evidence. Great, whatever works for you in your cotton candy scented world with the marshmallow clouds. Just consider this a warning never to send UPS to our doorstep.

Six songs everyone should own

Wherein doesn't mean you'll recognize the lyrics

But give it your best shot. Time is up. Answers are now included

  1. Madame Butterfly, Malcolm McLaren. From Fans, his reintepretation of opera. For someone who hated music and was a bastard of a human being, McLaren created some interesting music. There is a video (youtube). Connection with the story is tenuous, but I'm sure about 50% of the population will find it visually stimulating.
    Gotta have something to believe in
    My white honky I do miss him
    Some day soon he'll come around
    Just to stop my nervous breakdown

  2. Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But the Rent, Gwen Guthrie. video (myspacetv)
    'Cause nothin' from nothin', leaves nothin'
    You got to have somethin' if you want to be with me
    Oh life is just serious, love's too mysterious
    A fly girl like me needs security

  3. Memories, Slick Rick. This song is a classic, while most of the CD is so-so.
    Member seeing Shaft in the movie theater back then?
    I feel Richard Roundtree got him a fly deal
    Black man wearin' bell bottom and high heels
    Laughed a lot, some action mass production

  4. Mistress of the Senator, Audra McDonald. From the musical, Hello Again, which I have not heard. Just have the McDonald CD.
    Hire me to work on your image.
    I'll manipulate the press.
    We'll buy a registered house with a Georgetown address
    We'll write the place off
    As a work expense and screw the I.R.S.

  5. Lady Cab Drive, Prince. Kinda cheated you on the lyrics.
    Don't know where I'm goin' 'cuz I don't know where I've been
    So just put your foot on the gas -- let's drive

  6. Cold Cold Ground, Tom Waits. Maybe my favorite by him--youtube
    Gimme a winchester rifle and a whole box of shells
    Blow the roof off the goat barn
    Let it roll down the hill
    The piano is firewood
    Times square is a dream

Monday, July 30, 2007

July 29, 2007 to August 4, 2007

Wherein I could have Blogger backdate this so it looks like I posted on Sunday instead of Monday, but that would be wrong

A quiz:
  1. People who enjoy yard work are fucking insane.
  2. I should be living in a studio apartment in a rundown warehouse district instead of this wooded suburban "paradise."

  • Show your work in the comments.
  • Before any other comment can be left in this thread you must answer the quiz. I will delete. Once you've left an answer, you're good for the week.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Coming soon Now Here

wherein rain means no yard work today!

I bought this for the b-side of Jump and apparently never paid much attention to the a-side. Maybe it wasn't what I was into at the time, but All I Need Is Everything is brilliant. I'll have these two, plus the only other two Aztec Camera songs I own, up later in the day.

Three songs from Aztec Camera

Friday, July 27, 2007

Four I like these

Wherein it is true

two songs from "fandangoes in space" from bowie's "1980 floor show" tv special:

James Chance and the Contortions:

Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy:

Buddy Holly and the Crickets:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In other cycling news: Saul Raisin and Jonathan Vaughters

Wherein I should do something about my bike gathering dust in the basement

Saul Raisin, subject of the book, Tour de Life From Coma to Competition

Saul Raisin's first race back
Saul Raisin competed in his first race since a near-fatal accident 15 months ago.

Raisin fell in a French stage race and slipped into a coma.

After slowly learning how to ride again, the Credit Agricole rider is back in the saddle in an amateur race.

"I did my first race last Saturday in Salt Lake City. From the bottom of the hill to the top. I didn't win, but I finished," Raisin said. "I was thinking more of how far I'd come. I actually got a little emotional."

interview with Dave Shields, who cowrote the Saul Raisin book:
<Saul is doing great. He's training constantly and getting stronger. He hit the wall in the Porcupine Hill Climb and came in a couple of minutes down, but the good news is that his parents got to watch the entire race from a car and were much more comfortable with his racing after the event than they had been before. He rode well. When you consider that none of the doctors expected Saul to survive such a short time ago his performance at the Porcupine is nothing short of remarkable.


Jonathan Vaughters, former U.S. Postal rider and now the general manager of the U.S.-based Slipstream team is sitting in with the Velonews TdF coverage and answering questions. Slipstream's anti-doping system reminds me of what Dr. Don Catlin described in the July 2005, Outside Magazine issue:
He calls his idea the Volunteer Program. It's driven by the concept of using science, testing, and free-will participation to prove that athletes who sign up are clean, based on thorough biological profiles of their bodies. Catlin would use these profiles to create a set of "biomarkers" that show what is and isn't normal for each athlete. Armed with these indicators, he would institute ongoing, voluntary checkups for any athlete who chooses to participate. In return for entering the Volunteer Program, athletes would receive recognition as members. The public, press, sponsors, and governing bodies would be assured that members of the program were not doping.

Slipstream is working with the Agency For Cycling Ethics whose COO, Paul Scott, worked with Catlin at UCLA. In an interesting find, Scott may be working with Floyd Landis. From the Boulder Report, April 2007:
Scott declined to be interviewed on the record for this story, but it speaks volumes that he is willing to be associated with the Landis team. In his only public comments on the case, in a press release, Scott said he’s never experienced anything like the LNDD incident and blasted the lab’s and USADA’s conduct, saying, “Good science does not fear being an open book. Any science that is not neutral and objective is not science at all.” If he testifies at trial (likely, according to Michael Henson), Scott may well be set against his former boss at the UCLA lab, Dr. Don Catlin, who not only helped invent the Carbon Isotope Ratio test at issue, but also developed the original idea of the “volunteer model,” which provides the blueprint for ACE’s program. Catlin, who left the UCLA lab earlier this year, may be called as a witness for USADA.

1) Who are you signing for next year?
Vaughters: We can't legally announce the roster (per UCI rules) until September 1st unless we have permission from the other teams to announce that their riders have signed with us. We'll announce a few key names on Sunday in Paris, but you'll have to wait for the rest.
The other question folks have been asking is how you rate Slipstream's chances for a wildcard invitation to next year's Tour.

Vaughters: Well, as for wildcard possibilities, I think we'll get it, for a lot of reasons. Of course, it's not certain... I guess that's why they call it a 'wildcard.'

JV, several readers have written in to ask what impact the current scandals have had on your hunt for a major title sponsor.
Vaughters: Frankly, quite a bit. We lost an honest bid for a title sponsor because of the scandals. However, I would much rather have the sport cleaned out than have a sponsor. Even if I have to feel some pain, these scandals and positive tests need to happen. This pain is what has to happen. There is no other way. We have a great group of sponsors though, and they're all upping their contribution to make sure this team goes forward. Financialy we are good. We want a title that makes what is now good "great!" .... but if we have to sacrifice that for the long term health of the sport, so be it.

Question:You've made a lot out of your rigorous anti-doping program. What exactly does it involve?
Vaughters: Okay, well, basically, we test each rider, at least once a week for hormonal (hGH< testo etc) levels and red blood cell mass. If those levels deviate more than three standard deviations off the mean, we suspend the rider from competition.

It isn't a positive test, as we are focusing on undetectable things like autologous blood doping and growth hormone. We leave the easily found stuff to WADA and the UCI. if they can find it, then they suspend the rider. We are just preventing guys from thinking about using things that are are not currently detectable.

Vaughters is back with us. So, JV, who is your pick for today?
Vaughters: Well, I'm certainly hoping Dave Millar can pull it off. He promised me this morning to do something big for clean cycling. That being said, 170kms off the front is not something Dave excels at.

That raises the next question... he's gone through a two year suspension for EPO. Why regard him as a moral authority for clean sport?

Vaughters: Well, the first thing to realize about Dave is that he could have fought and won his case. There was one expired vial of EPO found in his home. He never tested positive and the evidence was minimal. However, when asked the question, he told the truth. He took his lumps. We all knew that Dave was a massively talented rider that didnt dope for most of his victories. The pressure of sponsor obligations and performance pressure to live up to being "the next big thing" finaly got to him.

Anyhow, Dave told the truth and now he's back and doing well, the correct way. He never used the "I've been tested 1000 times and never tested psoitive" BS... He just told the truth. That's why I love Dave.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sly Stone, messed up and funky

Rasmussen kicked out of TdF by own team

Wherein never saw that coming

Let's do a roundup of links.

CNN, Reuters:
Mihael Rasmussen was sensationally kicked out by his own Rabobank team.

The 33-year-old Dane had seemed to weather the storm after not making himself available for four doping tests in the past 18 months and had won Wednesday's stage to all but seal overall victory.

However, the team has learnt that Rasmussen lied to them over where and what he was up to during the month of June when he was in fact in Italy and not in Mexico as he had told them.

"He broke team rules," said a team spokesman. "It is not even sure if the team will carry on in the race," he added.

Rasmussen had won two stages during the Tour, though, his presence at the race was questioned by several officials and from the race organisers as well.

TDF Blog links and comments.

Cycling News:
Team manager Theo DeRooy has withdrawn the maillot jaune from the Tour de France. The team fired Rasmussen, who lied to them as to his true whereabouts when he missed his out of competition tests in June. "Wrongly reporting whereabouts is a flagrant violation of UCI rules and is unacceptable," read a statement by the Rabobank team.

DeRooy will not withdraw the entire team, but will allow the riders to choose to start the stage tomorrow.

Rasmussen's withdrawal comes only hours after Italian Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) was pulled from the Tour after he was confirmed as rider who tested positive for testosterone following stage 11 on July 19.

Just one day ago, Alexandre Vinoukourov tested positive for a blood transfusion. In response, his entire Astana team did not start stage 16 Wednesday.

Late last week, Danish federation officials announced that Rasmussen had been ejected from that country's national squad and would not be representing Denmark at the world championships or at next year's Olympic Games.

To add insult to injury, Rasmussen was also forced to fend off charges that he had attempted to trick a friend into transporting a cutting-edge hemoglobin replacement from the U.S. to Italy in 2002.

Ultimately, it was the missed-tests issue that finally brought the controversial Tour leader to his knees. Rabobank, sponsored by a leading Dutch bank, had been under increasing pressure since Rasmussen admitted to making an "administrative error" by missing random doping controls by the UCI on March 24, 2006, and June 28, 2007.

Rabobank director Theo de Rooy said the decision to pull Rasmussen - and to fire him - came down to a matter of trust.

Rasmussen waved away the whereabouts reporting issues as a minor problem that many riders go through. Faced with the missed tests, he offered an apology, but again characterized it as an "administrative error." When first confronted with the Richards accusation, he replied only, "I cannot confirm any of that. I know his name, yes," before quickly exiting the press conference.

At his rest day press conference, reporters appeared to catch Rasmussen out in at least one other gray area: Rasmussen said that he'd spoken with UCI anti-doping coordinator Anne Gripper in the spring of 2006 about his missing whereabouts forms and she cleared him, but Gripper didn't join the governing body until that fall.

Finally, during the protest at the start of Wednesday's 16th Stage, riders from several French teams appeared to surround Rasmussen. No words were exchanged, but when Christophe Moreau was asked whether Rasmussen should withdraw from the race, he replied, "The question can be asked." Instead, Rasmussen went on to win the stage and solidify his race lead over second-placed Alberto Contador and third-place rider Cadel Evans.

For race directors, the news of Rasmussen's departure was welcome. "We did all we could do to get rid of him," said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. "I at the very least do not feel that I have been dishonored," despite the third high-profile exit from the race and the news on Wednesday that a third rider, Cofidis' Cristian Moreni, had tested positive.

Tour de France and recent doping allegations

Wherein at least they haven't killed any dogs. And running into that one doesn't count.

Below, we've been discussing the latest news from the Tour de France. There's enough to warrant their own post, so here they are. Feel free to pile on. If you're looking for more information, Trust But Verify is a good place to start. He's been following the Floyd Landis case and his reference page has a lot of good links concerning the science and the relevant cycling and testing organizations.

Icepick said...
Okay, now that Vinokourov has been caught blood doping, is there anyone in the sport who hasn't tested positive EXCEPT Lance Armstrong?

7/24/2007 03:24:00 PM

bill said...
Tested? No. But don't forget this angle.

I think it's highly likely that he was doping and/or using PEDs before his cancer. Seems like everyone was doing it and it would fit what I know of his personality and competitive nature. Afterwards, during his TdF victories, I don't know. Wouldn't surprise me.

7/24/2007 03:41:00 PM

Icepick said...
Yeah, I've heard of the Andreu charges. Something's never quite seemed right about that story to me.

Personally I feel that one can't conclusively say that Lance doped (either drugs, bood or whathaveyou) but it does seem probable. I also believe that after his cancer it's possible that Lance was able to train harder for a variety of reasons: a higher pain threshold, more motivation to get what he could out of life, etc. All of which would have been enhanced by various methods.

But given that the TdF tests the stage winners and race leaders almost every day, if he was cheating and they couldn't catch him then I have to assume EVERYONE was potentially cheating. IOW, his seven victories are still damned impressive.

7/24/2007 04:09:00 PM

Icepick said...
Incidentally, this might be a good time for you to re-post and update your commentary about performance enhancing drugs. That one is likely to remain timely in spirit, if not particulars, for decades to come.

7/24/2007 04:10:00 PM

bill said...
I've been thinking I should give it a rewrite. Maybe I'll do some actual research.

Added, until I do update it, here's a link to last year's performance enhancing post, This is me and my energy:

My position: legalize and un-ban performance enhancing drugs, therapies, whatever; I don't care. Steroids? I'm fine. Human Growth Hormone? Sure. Blood Doping? If you think it will help. EPO? Can I get that on my corn flakes? Surgery? Yep.

7/24/2007 09:04:00 PM

bill said...
an explanation of blood doping

7/25/2007 07:58:00 AM

bill said...
early stage news:

1:02 PM Today's stage
began with a riders' protest, from teams expressing frustration at yesterday's news of a positive doping test from Alexander Vinokourov. The teams were also angry that the Tour is being led by a man many regard as suspicious.

7/25/2007 07:58:00 AM

bill said...
I also believe that after his cancer it's possible that Lance was able to train harder for a variety of reasons: a higher pain threshold, more motivation to get what he could out of life, etc.

He's always claimed that. In the current issue of Outside Magazine is an article about a human-pain lab and their research into pain tolerance. They make the point that people who have suffered trauma--like chemo patients or pregnant women--have a higher tolerance for pain.

I'd quote it, but I just threw it away. There's a podcast at the link that might have something useful and I think when the next issue comes out, they'll make the article available online.

7/25/2007 08:51:00 AM

Icepick said...
I was aware that Lance had made that claim, and I tend to at least believe it's plausible based on personal experience. I didn't know that research had been done that supports the claim. Interesting stuff....

I've got a question about the protest at the start of the day. I read at ESPN that it was mostly French teams and riders that protested, and that the protest was designed to draw attention to the problems of illegal performance enhancement (IPE) in the Tour. Are French teams/riders notable clearer than others?

7/25/2007 09:19:00 AM

bill said...
Are French teams/riders notable clearer than others?

I don't know, I'd guess probably not. Wish I followed it enough to say. French riders and teams haven't been that great in recent years and I suppose they could claim it's because they're clean and everyone else is dirty. But maybe that's too cynical.

French rider, Richard Virenque, was a confirmed and admitted doper during the Armstrong reign. While Armstrong was being spat on by drunks on the side of the road and hounded by the French press, Virenque was a national hero.

7/25/2007 09:56:00 AM

bill said...
From Floyd Landis:

Just as in my case, LNDD (Laboratoire National de Dépistage du Dopage / National Anti-doping Laboratory) has leaked the test results to l'Equipe, permanently damaging Vino's reputation and causing him to defend an allegation without any evidence. Furthermore, it is similar to my case because the LNDD's leaked results have the potential to alter the outcome of the Tour de France before they have proved the alleged doping violation,

7/25/2007 10:09:00 AM

other links:
  • Bobby Julich:
    went to bat for my former CSC teammate Ivan Basso last year [he later received a two-year ban this past June]. I had always respected Basso's professionalism. Now, Vino is facing controversy. How does this not touch you to the core? Whom do you trust? I hope Vino has a side to his story that's different because it's already ruined a lot for a lot of people now that Astana has pulled out of the Tour.

    I feel like I have to apologize to everyone. I know it seems like I am coming up with excuses. I feel duped myself. I am at the last year or so of my career and I wanted to enjoy it. But news like this is taking that fun out of the equation. It's hard to realize that it's not just "rogue" riders doing this, but friends potentially doing these things and keeping these secrets.

  • More on today's protest.
    From ESPN:
    The Tour's Web site said German squad Gerolsteiner also took part in the protest. Some of the French teams involved included Credit Agricole, Cofidis, FDJeux, Bouygues Telecom and Agritubel.

    These are many of the teams mentioned in the Cyclingnews blurb, Teams unite to form 'silver lining':

    Hours before the 'Vino' bomb hit the 2007 Tour de France with news of a positive doping control from one of the sport's biggest names, it became clear that every cloud has a silver lining. Following a meeting in London on July 5, seven teams decided to form a new union called the MPCC (Mouvement pour un cyclisme crédible): AG2R, Agritubel, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Française Des Jeux and Gerolsteiner. The teams united in a reaction against all the doping problems that cycling is currently encountering. For an unknown reason the T-Mobile team, which was present at London meeting, didn't show up during the meeting in Pau, so they are currently not part of the MPCC.

    To assure their credibility, the MPCC has bundled a number of measures. They will strictly apply the Ethical Code of the UCI Pro Teams and the internal Code of the UCI Pro Teams. The members will immediately sign - without terms - the letter 'UCI for a new cycling' (managers, directeur sportifs and doctors).

    Aside from those provisions, there will be a complete transparency between the members. As a result Marc Madiot from Française Des Jeux could already provide Cyclingnews with some information. "There are no riders with a prescription for corticoid preparations within the seven teams," Madiot said. "I can also tell you that there are no riders who need prescriptions within Gerolsteiner, Crédit Agricole and our team." If riders need corticoids for any reason, then they will be put on non-active status for two weeks. The new organisation invites other teams to join them if they share the same philosophy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

July 22, 2007 to July 28, 2007

Wherein yes I'm reading THAT book

There's also a link to the Nine Lives of Dr. Mabuse. Previous post.

I'll be more helpful and provide a direct link to Undercover Black Man's Gwen Verdon gets crunk. Amazing, don't miss it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quiz: what should I do this weekend?

Wherein let us pretend I care what you think, it's part of the illusion

I'm thinking I should rip another vinyl album to digital. I have no clear plan about completing this project, more like just grabbing what seems interesting at the moment and I'd like to listen to again. I'm thinking of the following:

As a bonus, I might thrown in Propaganda's The Nine Lives of Dr. Mabuse. Here's one review:
Propagandas’ 'The Nine Lives of Dr Mabuse' 12” version. I don’t recall any exposure to the track prior to my purchase, the presence of the logo and the weird artwork made me stump up my hard earned – the track turned out to be 6 minutes of the darkest pop music with the exotic vocal interplay of Claudia Brucken, Susan Freytag, and musical backing provided by Micheal Mertens and Ralf Dorper, all supplemented by a driving Fairlight CMI enhanced groove. Suitably they became dubbed as "Abba from Hell". Nothing else had ever sound as grandiose, massive, and as frighteningly compelling in my world. 20 years later I still rate that one record in my all time top 10, it's that good. Unfortunately the band, couldn't sustain the flow after releasing a couple of fine singles (Duel, p-Machinary) and one excellent debut ‘A Secret Wish’, they seemed to fall apart at the seams, but give me a classic one off over a lifetime of mediocrity any day.

Update: Whoa-- the AV Club votes for Sgt Pepper. I'm counting it as a vote, how likely is it that two people would be thinking of this at the same time?:
Pepper destroys everything that’s singular and resonant in the Beatles’ music, stripping “She’s Leaving Home” of its melancholy grace, “Good Morning” of its bile and caustic satire and “A Day In The Life” of its epic, bipolar grandeur. At his twee, old-timey worst, Paul McCartney wrote clamorous, cloying little ditties that bordered on novelty songs. Sgt. Pepper takes this rare shortcoming in the Beatles’ canon and runs with it, converting Sir Paul’s cutesy story-songs into terrible vaudeville skits performed with all the subtlety and nuance of an electric chainsaw to the spinal chord. Guest stars Steve Martin and Alice Cooper respectively reduce “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Because” into dopey kitsch.

The musical performances here fall into two discreet categories: bland, reverent mediocrities and creaky novelty songs. The sole exception is Aerosmith’s down and dirty take on “Come Together.” Aerosmith escapes the epic pointlessness of this whole endeavor by making “Come Together” their own—a nasty, warped, peyote-soaked little blues howler delivered with sleazy conviction. It’s the only halfway-credible cover in this whole misbegotten enterprise.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The wisdom of Bob Roll

Wherein as long as you're at the book store buying the new Harry Potter--psst, switched at birth...just sayin'--you should pick this one up, as well

From Bobke II, a collection Bob Roll's writings.

March 1-3, 1983:
Our coach called the promoter and told him we were coming. Then he gave us this grocery bag full of weed as our houseing and entry fee. We stuffed it at the bottom of the trunk and split. We drove out of Reno past the Mustang Ranch and had no thoughts of stopping. Then we turned right on Highway 95, and headed south. We drove across the desert for hours into the night.

From The Day the Big Men Cried, a tale from the 1988 Giro d'Italia, where there's a blizzard during stage 14:
I grabbed a plastic hat, long-finger gloves, and Oakley Pilots and took off down the pass for Bormio, a mere 15 kilometers away. I thought I could ride 15 kilometers in any condition, at any time, anywhere on Earth. I have never been more wrong in my life.

After a brilliant climb, Van de Velde, forsaking extra clothes in order to gain time on the descent, was the leader on the road and had the pink jersey waiting for him in Bormio. Only 2 kilometers of descending later, Van de Velde was on his knees in tears. Savagely hypothermic, he crawled into a car to warm up. One hour later, he got out of the car and rode to the finish way outside the time limit....

Meanwhile, I kept my head down and hammered, following the tire grooves through the snow. After only 1 kilometer, I was bloody cold. After 2 kilometers, I was frozen to the core. After only 3 kilometers, I was laughing like a lunatic and passed Rolf Sorensen, screaming at the top of my lungs in an attempt to generate some warmth. After 5 kilometers, I was crying and about to slip into a frozen coma. About halfway down, I was not thinking straight and was making poor choices. At one point, I got off my bike and began to run back up the hill in a lame attempt to warm up.

One Racer's View, Tour de France:
If riding your bicycle through the countryside on a fine summer's day were equivalent to a child's pretty drawing of a wildflower, then the Tour is a Sistine Chapel fresco painted by Michelangelo. Even though some great twentieth-century writers, such as Hemingway, have mentioned the Tour in their work, why haven't they been able to capture the essence of the Tour de France? Perhaps because they weren't racing in it. But I think, because it's so dynamic and the atmosphere so rarefied, it is impossible to grasp the greatness and grandeur of the Tour with words alone. Maybe someday, a combination of song, pictures, and words will do fair justice to the greatest of all sporting contests.

From One Heli TOur, a tale from stage 17 of the 1986 Tour de France. Greg Lemond kicked Hinault's ass on the Col de Granon and the only to get the riders down was by helicopter:
...I got to the steps to board and nearly froze. From outside in the bright sun, I couldn't see into the helicopter...

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness inside the 'copter, I saw that none other than Andrew Hampsten was seated directly across from me. "Whoa, Drew baby!" I practically jumped up at seeing a fellow American. "Andy, you slayed today," I exclaimed in glee. "Did you see LeMond crush these frog dweebs?" I asked.

Andy just kind of nodded, all subdued. As my adjusted further, right next to Andy sat Greg LeMond, gloriously clad in yellow. "Whoa!!" I jumped up for real and grabbed Le Mond by the shoulders, shaking him and screaming, "Greg, you beast! You got the yellow jersey man! You're going to massacre these Philistines." I sat down and said, "I was climbin' with Hinault, and all the Frenchies were pissed that you dropped his sorry ass."

Just then, my eyes fully adjusted to the darkness and there sat Bernard Hinault himself. Oops. I could've crawled udner my seat. "Hey Bernie, what's up?" was about all I could mumble. To make matters worse, the owner of the La Vie Claire team and one of France's biggest industrialists, Bernard Tapie, was sitting right next to Hinault. Tapie's script for Hinault to win his sixth Tour de France was about to be rewritten by LeMond.

The door was closed and copter blades started to howl. I looked straight at the drab olive wall and saw stenciled there in big white military letters, "Made in the USA." "All right, Tapie," I screamed, "you see this (pointing to the sign)? Made in the USA. Baby, everything is gonna be fine."

Tapie was not amused, but Greg, Andy, and me all started cracking up. Even Hinault cracked a little smile. We took off in a cloud of dust and the rest, as they say, was cycling history.

Training Tips with the Bobke:
Tip 1: Crashing is better than eating right. Eating right makes you feel good about yourself. This is the last dang thing you want. You want to feel absolutely shitbag about yourself. Your self-esteem should be lower than a snake's belly at the bottom of a Deep South penitentiary septic tank.

When you have the appropriate base level of self-esteem, you'll want to inflict the grinding horror of your mind upon all around you. Appeasing the torments of your mind by ripping people's legs off in a bike race so you can be seen kissing the posium dolls is the best path. Eating right is bettor suited to actresses who've guzled so many lies getting movie roles that their digestive enzymes have been vaporized.

Now, crashing, on the other hand, gives you scar tissue, and scar tissue tells a story no idiotic tribal barbwire tattoos ever will. And as the stories of your scars are retold, you'll get hungry for sour mash and pork rinds. It is almost impossible to eat a macrobiotic salad while picking at your scabs and describing your ass-over-tits, auger-into-the-gravel-pile-moving-into-sprint-postion in the last corner. Self-hate propels the bicycle faster than all the 30/30/40 ratio flim-flam, phin-phen scam artists combined. Let retired generals, Enron satanists, Juan Exxon Valdez, and Guantanamo bay-detained Islamic Jihadists eat right. It is way better to crash hard and eat wrong.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 15, 2007 to July 21, 2007

Wherein I can't read no Gobbledy Gook, BOY

That's a line from the greatest PSA ever. I've found a partial audio and I'm still searching for the full version.

Obligations to the Future
Each generation has the next in its power. We can lay waste to the planet or scrimp and save in order to transform our grandchildren's world into a technological cornucopia. The decision is up to us. But it doesn't necessarily follow that we should consider ourselves morally free to make any decision we like. Are there principles of public morality to which America should be committed in making this fundamental decision?

Perhaps not. We can well imagine some hardheaded libertarian consigning the entire question to the "invisible hand." It is up to each American to decide on her own what she should do with "her property," both during life and after death. If most property owners choose to mark their passage into the beyond by committing all their earthly possessions to the flames, the next generation would have no just cause for complaint. It would simply be tough luck.

To be sure, this is not an aspect of libertarianism that even fierce partisans take pains to emphasize. They are prone to praise the market system as a machine for growth without reflecting on the deeper implications of their philosophy. But the truth is that the market does not guarantee growth by itself. The market depends on the prevailing preferences of property owners. And if the rich ones don't give a damn about the future, libertarians have few conceptual resources enabling them to argue that the rich have done a grievous wrong.

So much the worse for these callous folk, or so goes the dominant utilitarian response. Rather than taking the narrow view of an individual property owner, the utilitarians say, we should adopt the position of a concerned citizen attempting a truly impartial view of the situation. From this vantage, the interests of young Americans of the year 2050 should count equally with those of us who happen to be around right now. In Jeremy Bentham's famous formulation: each should count for one, and none should count for more than one. As a consequence, utilitarians would have no trouble with the "bonfire" method of estate planning that exposed the callous indifference of the hardheaded libertarian. They would strongly support legislation banning such utility-minimizing activities: while the older generation might well experience some frustration in foregoing their bonfires, this pain is readily outweighed by the satisfactions gained by keeping the property around for use by the successors.

When we turn to harder cases, the utilitarian calculus depends on a complex balancing operation. Speaking broadly, it begins by comparing the relative wealth of earlier and later generations. Because the marginal utility of money generally declines as people grow richer, a relatively poor generation shouldn't scrimp to enable ts relatively rich successors to get even richer.

But other things aren't necessarily equal. If, for example, great technological miracles are just around the corner, extra savings might generate massive returns. Under this scenario, the enormous extra gains in welfare accruing to the rich generation in 2050 might morally offset the extra welfare losses suffered by poorer folds in the year 2000. The bature of our collective obligations depends quite heavily on predictions about the future that are difficult to subject to serious empirical critique. This is a significant disadvantage, the utilitarians must ruefully concede, but consider the alternative: isn't it better to make guesses about the future than to blind oneself to the problem, as the libertarians do?

Guess the book? I'm guessing this will be a little obscure. For an early hint, the authors are two Yale professors of law.

Clue #1: $80,000
Clue #2: no more clues, the book is The Stakeholder Society

Sunday, July 08, 2007

July 8, 2007 to July 14, 2007

Wherein monkeyboy learns a new dance

A campaign run on personal responsibility, environmentalism, and a cando attitude towards the middle east:
What are we gonna do in Washington? Why do we want to go to Washington? What's our platform? Our platform got five boards, my friends and neighbors, five old boards! And what are they? I'll tell you up front! First board: THROW THE BUMS OUT!

Second board! We're gonna throw out anyone in government, from the highest to the lowest, who is spending time in bed with some gal who ain't his wife! If they wanna sleep around, they ain't gonna do it on the public tit!

Third board! We're gonna send all the pollution right into outer space! Gonna put it in Hefty bags! Gonna put it in Glad bags! Gonna send it to Mars, to Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn! We're gonna have clean air and we're gonna have clean water and we're gonn have it in SIX MONTHS!

Fourth board! We're gonna have all the gas and oil we need! We're gonna stop playing games with these Ayrabs and get down to brass tacks! We got the muscle, friends and neighbors, we can do it! Anybody out there think we can't do it?

Last board. HOT DOGS!

First to name the source material wins Soquoted's warmest personal regards. No googling, please.

Tuesday's Hint: popular book and movie, with the same name
Wednesday's Hint: don't forget the television show
Thursday's Hint, and at this point it'll be lukewarm personal regards at best: Neither Christine, Carrie, or Dolores

Answer: Dead Zone, Stephen King

Monday, July 02, 2007

July 1, 2007 to July 7 2007

Wherein words and links words and links

Let's start the week off with some new and old music. Newest to oldest.

  1. Cas Haley, of Woodbelly. Caught him on NBC's America's Got Talent, an American Idol-like show that allows people to embarrass themselves in multiple ways, not just by singing. I happened to catch a few minutes last week and was lucky enough to catch Cas Haley. Like the pompous British judge said, he sang a Sting song better than Sting himself.

    Cas Haley on youtube. I'll watch again hoping to catch his next performance. Or maybe just wait for someone to post it on youtube. I'd rather not watch the show.

  2. Johanna Kunin. I caught Johanna last March when she opened for Robyn Hitchcock and The Venus 3. Interesting sound "collages." She recorded different sounds--clapping, brushing the microphone, chanting--then with the elements playing on top of each other she'd sing on top of them. At first it seemed the audience was a bit put off, but by the end she'd won us over. Should have bought her CD that night, guess I'll have to buy one now. She has a few songs playing on her myspace page.

  3. Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Sings. Somehow I missed this and just discovered it last week. This is a 2-disc live collection of Bob Dylan songs. If you like Bob Dylan's music, but not necessarily by him, you might like this. Fairly faithful covers with Robyn's unique twist making many of them even more emotional than the original. Available at both Amazon.com and iTunes. Speaking of Johanna, the first song on the collection is Visions of Johanna, and Hitchcock says "This is my favorite song, it's why I started writing songs."

  4. Nina Simone, Pastel Blues. The story behind this starts with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. They star in the 1999 film, The Thomas Crowne Affair. A very pleasant and watchable movie. I always have to watch it when it comes on and one reason is the music. Finally looked up the soundtrack and other than a bunch of incidental music, there's this 10 minute long Nina Simone song, Sinnerman. The movie makes frequent uses of short cuts from this song with a memorable segment used in the climax. Rather than buy the album for one song or just buy the one song, I checked out Pastel Blues. Pretty much brilliant and our collection is sorely lacking in Nina Simone. I'll be listening to this all day...probably all week.