Friday, August 22, 2008

Full Marks for McCain

For speaking truth to power, in this case, the labor monopolies unions.

If someone with little formal education and limited English language skills can replace you at your job, and will do it for less, then that person should replace you. Doing so would mean lower cost of production which will ultimately lead to lower cost goods, creating more value for everyone. The labor market is, after all, a market. No one is exempt from competition.

Anti-immigration rhetoric from the union rank and file is classic lower class white racism: Poor whites want to believe they're better than someone else, that somehow they deserve their relatively higher economic and social position than still poorer non-whites, and when that illusion is popped, they get pissed.

Though if people get paid $50/ hour for picking lettuce, that's a pretty great job. At that rate, if you could pick even 40 weeks/ year for 40 hour weeks, you'd gross 80K/ year pre-tax. I don't think migrant laborers pull down 80K.

Things that make me hang my head in shame

as an American.

I don't think this is a hoax.

Fractions of seconds

All in all masters Nationals was successful. We won the team points trophy, which was a goal I'd had for us as a club, though not a goal we actively pursued. To pursue it, you need to win a lot of races (obvious). To win a lot of races, you have to enter events that are least heavily contested. In some cases, if you're the only entry, you get the win, and the points.

In our case, we went after the most heavily contested events, and still did well.

I was in our A (Age 27+) 8+ that won. It was our first gold medal in an open (non-club restricted) national event. I also came away with two silvers and a bronze, and my other two finishes were the wood, or 4th place. I can't complain.

Trouble is, I'm not pleased. We finished just 2 points out of winning the men's points trophy. Had we finished any better in any event, we'd have won it. And most frustrating for me is that several of my finishes we were down only by tiny fractions of a second. Witness the photo finishes:

That's my boat, lane 2, 0.07 seconds out of 3rd in the club B (age 36+) 4+.

Here we are 0.75 seconds out of 3rd in the open B 4+.

Here we are, lane 4, 0.15 seconds from gold in the open B 8+:

And here we are 0.6 seconds out of first in the club C 8+. (Age 42+)

And last year at Head of the Charles, we missed 3rd by 0.32 seconds. In a race 16 minutes long.

So I find myself asking what I can do to find another second of speed. I just need to get one second faster, and all of these results change.

I'm sick of being down one second. I'm going to let my whole team know that they can just start screaming "one second" at me when I'm training to get me to drop the hammer.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Religion can't be stopped?

W in Beijing:

Well first of all, if you are a religious person you understand that once religion takes hold in a society it can't be stopped.

Yet here we once more get very good reason religion should be stopped. I love how the article marginalizes this behavior calling them a "cult" and not a "religion". Crazy cult members, thinking God would raise someone from the dead. No real religion would teach something so silly...

Can it be stopped? I think teaching rational skepticism and empiricism will certainly help. I think less clever people will remain prone to supernaturalism, but I think a society can be transformed with truth.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thank God this is almost over

Next week I'm racing at US Masters National championships, in Long Beach. It's been held on the East coast more often than the West. Last time it was here (Sacramento) was 2003, and I came away with a gold and a silver.

Those medals came in the club races: All members of the crew must be from the same club. The "lettered" races have only an age restriction, but no affiliation restriction. So people are free to assemble any crew they want. And people will: ex-elites from around the country will come together and enter the races.

The big question this year for my team was: Go after the club events, or go after the lettered events? We've got no real ringers. Everyone here is a legit member of the club. And we have some crews that would be nearly unstoppable in the club events. But our goals are to be damn fast, period. So our fastest boats are going after the lettered events.

I'm in a few of them. The guys on the team look at the line ups for a few of my boats and shake their head at the obscene level of boat moving ability assembled. I love rowing in these boats: Everyone knows what they're doing, and the high grace/ high power balance makes for a tremendously gratifying experience.

I'm also torn. I'd really like to win something. And while our odds are decent in the lettered races, they're much better in the club events, which we could legitimately race, as well. I suppose it's better to go up against the best.

I'm also getting burnt out. I've been training non-stop since I got back from England, and my body is very very ready for a taper. Training for sprints racing is just painful, and the cumulative burn from day after day of full power, full speed work is beginning to make me crack a bit. I know this is exactly where I wanted to be right now, and I know that, once I taper down, I'll feel great and will feel fresh and unnaturally powerful on race day. But after this, I'll be so glad to get into head race season. Not to have to sprint again until March 2009 is just fine with me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The morning routine with K's cat

The alarm goes off, Mystery lets out a "mmreep!" and saunters up the bed from wherever he was hiding to stand on my chest, purr like mad, and put his nose under my chin. Like those progressive alarm clocks, his "meep!" gets louder and louder until I show signs of life. "Meep." "Meep!" "MEEP!" If I seem likely to roll over, he'll jump from me onto K. Then back.

As soon as I'm vertical, he leaps off the bed and scampers down the hall, to wait for me outside the bathroom. I head in to take care of my needs. He waits outside the door. If he begins to wonder whether I've fallen in, he'll nose or paw the door open, and wait for me. When he hears a flush, he runs into the kitchen.

There, we check his bowl, and, if it's empty, he gets a fresh can of Fancy Feast, his one and only favorite food.

The clever cat has been conditioned that alarm = awake humans = bathroom = next stop: FANCY FEAST.

This is pretty accurate: Only difference is, no bat, and he's usually triggered by the alarm clock, though some times, just sunlight will do.

Friday, August 01, 2008

How we'll get off of oil

This isn't the first time I've heard the idea: Use solar to create electric, and, if there's no immediate demand for the electric, use the electricity to hydrolyze water, store the hydrogen for later fuel-cell conversion to electricity. Distribute excess hydrogen through natural gas infrastructure. Problem solved.

What's cool is yet another step towards greater efficiency in the process.

Way to go, science nerds.

When nerds save the planet, will we get some respect then?