Archive for March, 2009

Quick review: “Friendly atheist”: I cannot imagine a better name than that for this man.


Dear Mr. President,

I know, you said you weren’t going to, but… go ahead, Veto that bill.

Sorry that I’m writing you so late, but what can I say, there wasn’t much time.  And there still isn’t, so I’ll be really quick:

  • You ran against politics as usual, and the bill is totally politics as usual.  The party in power (it’s not just Dems, it’s whoever’s in power) throws in earmarks.  Nobody likes it.  You don’t like it.  So, just send it back, and say “pass me a bill without these earmarks”.
  • The congressional Dems are not going to have a standoff over this.  They are not going to turn to their constituents and say “we crafted a great bill and the President vetoed it, but we know that something needs to pass, so we’re just going to keep sending it to him as is.”  They’ll follow your lead, and they’ll follow it quickly.  They’d get a much better bill back to you before the end of the week.
  • Congressional Republicans will think “Wow, maybe Obama’s bipartisan rhetoric ISN’T just all talk.”  They’ll be thrilled, at least publicly.  In private, they might worry that you’re stealing a bit of their thunder, because it’ll be MUCH easier for them to pick up congressional seats in 2010 by pointing to a bloated “tax and spend” Democratic spending bill.
  • Democratic citizens will be shocked, but who cares, they love you deeply, and once they get over the surprise that we don’t just have 100% Harmony amongst the powers in Washington, they’ll easily say “well, it’s not like I really *liked* all of those earmarks…
  • Centrist and GOP citizens will cite the veto as a sign that you really are different, you’re not just a partisan, you are going to emphasize fiscal responsibility, Democrat does not just mean “spender”.
  • The press will say things like “unlike his predecessor, President Obama today sent a clear message that he’s willing to Veto bills that are passed by his own party.”

In short, politically, you’ll spend a small bit of political captial with the people who love you the most, and in return you’ll score huge points with everyone else, including the people who are most skeptical of you.  And you don’t even have to look like you’re making deals or compromising your values to do it.  Indeed, by signing it you WOULD be compromising your stated values somewhat.  A clear winner.

But really, you should veto it because you actually *do* *care* about fiscal responsibility, and while I no very little about the details of the bill, the fact that it’s going by the name “Earmark-Laden” in all the press is certainly not an indicator that it has anything to do with fiscal responsibility.  The stimulus bill was where you had justification for big spending, and whether or not everyone agrees, everyone does know that that’s not going to happen every year.  This bill is different, this bill represents the long-term for Federal spending.  And it’s not the path you want us to head down.

So, in my humble opinion, sir, Veto that bill.

It’s been over a year now and Pri and I knew where we’d be moving into, and that whole time I’ve been imagining a certain bike route.  When I worked downtown and lived on the west side, I had a route in my mind that was sort of the “long way home” route, about 12 miles, takes about an hour, and a nice way to get some exercise spontaneously.  Then I had a couple of other “after work” routes that I’d sometimes do, again about an hour, and focused on exercise.

I work at home now, so forget about the “long way home”.  But the “after work”, roughly-one-hour route should still be part of my repertoire.  And since the new house is on the south east side, there’s new side-streets to explore!  And although we only moved in last May, I never got around to this kind of thing last year.  :(  I mean, I was busy, but of course I wasn’t busy every single hour.  It should have happened.

But today, it did!  After a nicely productive afternoon and whiltling my inbox down to an amazingly small FIVE messages, I felt like doing something different before I dug back into more hopefully productive stuff this evening.  Well, remarkably, after some rather scary rainstorms this afternoon, the sun came out and it wasn’t even very windy…  It was 6:44, as I recall, but it still seemed light out.  “Oh right!!  Daylight Saving Time!”  So, I decided to celebrate the extra hour of evening sunlight with a spontaneous bike ride.  Finally!

And so, I present my first draft of the first south-east-side “after work” loop.  Only 8.5 miles, so I’ll probably try to have a “longer option” to go for a full hour, especially once I get used to where I’m going.  Today there was a heavy exploration factor, but I was still home about an hour after I had the original idea and got out the GPS, and all the other bike gear…

… and the new Heart Monitor that Pri and I purchased (thanks for the recommendation, Fiona! We love it!). According to it, I burned 627 Calories on the ride.  Based on that and another recent experiment, I’m starting to use 70 Calories per mile as my estimated fuel efficiency. I don’t know how that compares with other bikers, nor do I have extreme confidence in the data that the heart monitor puts out… But still, I’m sure it’s not completely crazy, certainly in the right order of magnitude…  And yeah, I had to pause and thing that when I do serious bike rides like the Hilly Hundred or the big bike ride to Indy I did with Erik years ago, I’m burning multiple thousands of calories. Multiple days of normal eating.  Wow.  No wonder I feel tired.

Not too tired after today’s run.  I should finish this up though so that I can still feel like the whole experience took less than 2 hours.  :)

For each of the first few years that I lived in Bloomington, I told myself that I should go to neighboring Brown County for the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival and see Bill Monroe perform while he was still alive. But I didn’t.  I was there once, saw some great music, but as I recall, he was too ill to make it, and a few months later he died.

Well, when I read that Ralph Stanley was scheduled to play at downtown Bloomington’s Buskirk Chumley Theater, I felt pretty strongly that I should make sure I went.  Not that this would make up for it, but if it’s that easy to see a living legend of an art form you feel a connection to… come on.

I was a bit concerned that the show might really just be a ruse… get some random musicians to play and just set Ralph in front of them and watch the money pour in, just cashing in on a legendary name.  There may have even been a small number of people at the show who felt like that was what happened.  But, if so, I’d say to them that they’re missing the difference between a legendary name and an actual legend.