Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hotter 'N Hell Hundred 2008

This past Saturday was this year's Hotter 'N Hell Hundred.  It claims to be the largest organized century ride in the US.  This year's rider total was 11,260.

I used to ride the shorter distances (10 and 25) when I lived in Wichita Falls in elementary school.  Since living in Austin, I've been going back and doing the full hundred.  I think that this weekend was probably my fifth (maybe fourth?) time doing the hundred.  It was probably typical as far as elapsed time: 5:44  (17.6 mph average).  Much slower than my best there (5:01, 20.1 mph average), although it was unusually cool that year (80s).  This year was pretty standard temperature wise (upper 90s), with perhaps a bit more wind than normal (or at least than I remember).  The local Wichita Falls paper has a story with much better pictures than I'll paste below: Helluva race

Looking back, at the start on Scott Street.

Colleen and I stopped on the bridge right after the start, keeping an eye out for Austin on his handbike.

Colleen's friend Austin, who rode this handbike (!).  Jen and I met him a few months ago, when Austin was in Austin for a wheelchair rugby tournament that Colleen brought us to.  He was playing on Mark Zupan's team!

It is probably a bit hard to see in this grainy Blackberry camera picture, but this is showing a group of T-38s from Sheppard AFB that fly right over the column of riders along Scott Street to kick off the ride.  A cannon is fired off somewhere, the jets buzz the crowd, and off we go!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another Theory On Dudes Into Dudes

A neuroscience seminar in college was the first place I heard a few angles on answering 'if homosexuality is non-procreative, what is the evolutionary reason for its existence?'  I think the most popular or frequently mentioned theory I had heard was that gay men would not have children of their own, so they served as a family (and particularly childcare) buffer in the event that one or more of their siblings were to be killed or otherwise unable to care for their family.

A university study in Italy has another angle: 'hyper-sexual' women.  Apparently, the same gene that causes men to like men also causes women to like men, leading to more children.  Full story here: Bisexuality passed on by 'hyper-heterosexuals'

The Other Side of the Coin..

As a follow-on to the Obama post the other day (the worshipful one), I came across this Hubbard piece in the WSJ yesterday: We Can't Tax Our Way Out Of the Entitlement Crisis.  His applauds Obama for moderating the degree of some of his planned tax increases (particularly the retreat from a fully-uncapped payroll tax), but points out that the revenue that would be brought in by his current tax increase planns, when combined with his unwillingness to consider benefit cuts, leaves us only someone less screwed then our current path. 

In other words, he has not put forward any plan to address Medicare (and its less-challenging fellow traveler, SS) growth explosion.  (Then again, I don't think anyone thinks McCain has any plan where the numbers add up, either.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Staying Warm?

For some reason, Lucy & Ethel have taken to sleeping underneath their bed in recent weeks. Usually, they are entirely hidden. Today, they seemed to want to keep tabs on things.

Free-Market Loving, Big Spending, Fiscally Conservative Wealth Redistributionist

That is the title (the browser title, at least) of a forthcoming New York Times Magazine story actually titled How Obama Reconciles Dueling Views on the Economy. It's a pretty long piece (I've linked to the single page version) and tries to tell an interesting tale of Obama's economic evolution from his teaching days to the present day.

It's worth reading. The weak point: the author's barely veiled adulation for his subject. The critical statements he makes are about as aggressive as a Larry King interview (made worse yet by omitting large swathes of well-known policy critiques made by others).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lezak is a Stud

The men's 4x100 free relay was pretty much completely insane. Jason Lezak kicked more ass than a donkey: Lezak lifts U.S. in 'best ever' relay Watch it on the NBC Olympics site, if you haven't seen it..

Friday, August 08, 2008


This looks like it has been running for a while, but I didn't see it until today: NewTalk. It bills itself as a site where 'experts discuss America's toughest issues.' They take one topic at a time, letting a discussion take place amongst a set of experts spanning the political spectrum as well as the vested interests for the topic at hand (an AARP spokesman on entitlements, etc.). After the discussion period has ended, the discussion closes, and they move to the next topic (and a new mix of experts).

I found it by hitting upon a discussion on addressing entitlement spending that ended in late July: 'Can we afford our entitlement promises? How close is the cliff?' It seems like a pretty worthwhile site with a good mix of participants...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

We Bring Economic Decline

Or so you might think, looking at Forbes' new list: America's Fastest Dying Cities. Of the 10 cities on the list, we have ties to several: Flint (Grand Blanc is a suburb of Flint), Detroit (nearby), Canton, OH (mom is from North Canton), Youngstown, OH (dad is from Canfield). Some of the statistics in the slide show are pretty amazing: about 175,000 people have moved out out Detroit just since 2000!

Flint In the News Again

After the 'no crack' policing from a few posts ago, I hit upon this story: Wandering prostitutes prompt 'No Ho Zone' sign

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

In Praise Of....Houston?

I came across this Ed Glaeser piece Houston, New York Has a Problem in the NY Sun praising Houston, of all places. He compares and contrasts NYC and Houston, and (more specifically) the growth the two cities have seen. The whole thing is worth reading, but the essence of what he thinks Houston brings to the table is this:

Houston's great advantage, it turns out, is its ability to provide affordable living for middle-income Americans, something that is increasingly hard to achieve in the Big Apple. That Houston is a middle-class city is mirrored in the nature of its economy. Both greater Houston and Manhattan have about 2 million employees.

Basically: unless you are extremely wealthy, you can't live too big in NYC. Recent immigrants in NYC have a very low standard of living by American standards, but generally still well above what it was where they emigrated from. If you're a run of the mill native American with a 'normal' middle class job, your dollar stretches much farther in the home of The Geto Boys.

The Smile Capital

That is apparently what Pocatello, ID bills itself as: the US Smile Capital!

I'm typing this from the airport in Idaho Falls (about to fly back home), but it is my first time in either place.

The landscape was a good bit hillier than I expected. This is the view from the customer's parking lot:
The people were all very friendly. The housekeeping staff at the hotel left messages like this:
We finished early, so I also drove into town to see Idaho State. I took these quick pictures there as well:

Friday, August 01, 2008

Proudly from an un-PC major..

Mankiw links to this piece in Inside Higher Ed, ranking majors by the prevalence of PC-ness (definition within). The conclusions are pretty non-shocking, like:

Humanities and social science fields tend to have higher politically correct rankings, while professional and science disciplines do not.

Mankiw summarized
some of the most-PC and least-PC majors as follows (yay CS):

The most PC: Psychology, Sociology, English, History, Elementary education

The least PC: Criminal justice, Economics, Marketing, Accounting, Computer science, Biology, Finance, Management information, Mechanical engineering, Electrical engineering