The Din of Inequity

The Din of Inequity

...yes, I spelled it that way on purpose.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Who cares?

Hmm. I'm obviously moved enough to come here and log in, but I can't honestly say I meant to post anything in particular. I can't decide if this inability to get behind any particular concept is a sign that I'm feeling content with my life, or if it's a symptom of a particularly bad bout of depression--one so bad that I can't even tell I'm suffering it.

I'm inclined to think it's the former, rather than the latter. It's not like I don't give a shit about things. I think at least part of it is a sense that the things that do get me all exercised these days are probably a little played, or at least of limited interest to other people.

For example: I'm really into cycling these days. I'm not a huge rider,* but I get in something around 70 miles in a good week. There's obviously lots to say about cycling, but I wonder how much there really is to hear about it if you're not already a fan. The experience of riding a bike is certainly a widely-shared one, but as common as it is for people to have ridden a bike, it's apparently quite uncommon to ride one the way I do. I'm not saying that I'm this great cyclist who trains harder than other cyclists--if the discussion boards are any indication, I'm a very casual rider by mad amateur cyclist standards--but it's become clear to me that most people, even people who ride regularly, seldom go out and hammer for 16 miles for a quick evening ride, and go on such a hard ride on the weekend that they're fucked for the day by 10AM. I don't ride a bike--I train. For what I'm not sure, but it's always been that way for me and sports.

I think it may have something to do with the fact that I never had more than a passing interest in sports until I started swimming competitively in high school. I've never really done sports in a situation where it's totally casual. Oh sure, I've been known to play a pick-up game of this or that, but I've almost always got an obsessive sport on the side. I'm not happy on a bike unless I'm working pretty hard. I don't much care for being in a pool unless I'm doing laps. I don't care much about motorcycles or cars unless I can race them. Martial arts was destined to be either a lifestyle or something I used to do--nothing in between.

Part of this is probably related to my thing about being exceptional--I may not be better at sports than lots of folks, but I'm certainly capable of being just as obsessive as the worst of them. Nothing exceeds like excess, after all.

Another part is probably this addiction I have to what I call the "learning experience." I'm not sure exactly when I decided that this was my thing, but it comes down to the idea that you can learn things about yourself (and maybe others) in moments of extremity that you can't learn any other way. Pushing my limits is getting to be a real thing for me. I don't want to injure myself, and don't do things when they aren't fun anymore, but my idea of fun has gotten a little extreme.

The big question, I guess, is whether or not this is a bad thing. It's certainly true that I've had my share of serious, or at least nagging, injuries from my pursuits. Of course I also have a resting heart rate of 47 and can lug my big ass and a bicycle around a 32 mile course in 2 hours. And I know that I can do things I thought I couldn't, things most people think they can't. I know that my handicaps** aren't really all that big a deal, and that when the chips are down, I can keep going. Not because I'm in shape, but because I know that I have the will. I think most people have it, and (probably because I'm an extremity addict) I lament that they probably don't know it. If everybody had a chance to get out farther than they think they can swim back from, go too hot into a hairpin corner, or ride out into the country so far that they HAD to ride up that mile-long hill if they wanted get home, I think somehow this would be a better world. By scaring yourself shitless, you can find out what a strong person you really are, and how could that be bad?

So as usual, I'm managed to take a whole lot of nothing, a rejected essay idea even, and turn it into a fairly long screed. It ain't great art, and probably doesn't go far enough or deep enough, but hey--you got your money's worth.

*OK--at my size, I'm pretty much a huge anything in whatever I take up, except maybe football or sumo. On the biking side, being 6 feet tall is already huge, and when you add in that I go well over 220 lbs, I am a huge rider. But we all know that's not what I mean.

**Minor stuff, really--comically bad feet, treacherous kidneys, etc.--but they've occasionally kept me from doing my things.

|| Bikeboy 2:01 PM || (0) comments

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Religion is ruining this country. There, I said it.

For a deeper understanding of my motivation for saying so, check out the motherfucking Pledge Protection Act the House assholes just passed.

For a very insighful explanation of why this act is so very very bad, written in a scholarly and non-so-angry-I-can-hardly-type-anything-but-fuck way:

The Lunacy of the Pledge Protection Act

|| Bikeboy 3:35 PM || (0) comments

I'm back! At least for today!

I can't believe how long it's been since I put up something substantive (in the blog sense of substantive--more than three lines of original prose--not in the real sense). I have been totally swamped at work lately, but on the upside, I got promoted*.

I of course publicized this information to the immediate family and friends, offering a celebratory happy hour (which never actually came off due to everyone being as busy as me). A lot of folks asked if my job was different now. If you measure from the day before I got promoted to the day after, the answer is no. If you measure from about the time I stopped writing here regularly, then you get a different answer.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to take over part of our online marketing (the only part I wasn't already in charge of) from the person who was supposed to be doing it. I say "supposed to be doing it" because, try as she might, she just couldn't manage it. I've never met anyone with fewer skills for picking up new concepts. She was hell on the few things she did know how to do, but nothing much new went into her head from her first day at my company**.

Anyway, once I picked up this new set of tasks, it was all over for blogging. Before the change, I was doing a lot of programming and nuts-and-bolts stuff. Emails, phone calls and meetings were just stuff that got in my way and wasted my time. Suddenly, all I was doing was emails, phone calls and meetings. Somebody else is in charge of pushing all the buttons--I just say which ones to push now.

You'd think this would be a good thing, but at the time I was really stressed about it--what was going to happen when somebody figured out that I wasn't doing anything but that time-wasting stuff? Then it dawned on me that it was now my only job to do that stuff. I wasn't wasting time--I was "working." That mental jump made it a lot easier to deal with the change, lemme tell ya, but I have to say: management is fucking weird. I can see that I'm moving things forward, and I'm busier than ever, but I don't make anything but plans anymore. Weird.

About the time that I confessed to my boss that I had only just that day realized that it wasn't slacking off to make someone else do the coding around here, they decided to promote me. I guess around here they like to make sure you're up to the new job before telling you you have, in fact, had it for a few weeks.

So I'm sure everyone's really excited to read about how my job has changed. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to think that I'm REALLY turning into a manager--I can't think of anything interesting to say. I'm not really up for bitching either, and I can't seem to find anything about myself to make fun of. I think I'm turning serious. Shit.

Well, hopefully at least I've broken the seal here, and stuff will start to flow. Thanks for waiting, or if you're new, thanks for stopping by!

*I was, of course, totally chuffed about the promotion, and immediately felt bad about all the bitching I've been doing about how it's about frigging time I got promoted. Now that I'm the Man, I can see it from the Man's perspective, I guess. It was gratifying that after the announcement a lot of long-timers here came around my office to tell me they thought the promo was long overdue too. Of course, since I'd already been assimilated by the Man, I had to brush it off--"Thanks. My duties have changed a lot lately, so I guess it makes sense now"--instead of saying, "Fuck yeah! I thought those jokers would never wise up. What should I spend my raise on?"

**Her last day was the other day, by the way. My project wasn't the only new concept she couldn't pick up, apparently. She was sweet, but we didn't really need sweet--we needed a manager who could, uhhh, manage.

|| Bikeboy 1:44 PM || (0) comments

Monday, September 20, 2004

Surprise Guest Writer

I have a longtime friend who's been a reporter on Capitol Hill for pretty much as long as I've known him. He doesn't fit the mold of your usual Washington insider, and that's good--he knows pretty much what the insiders know about how the Hill works, without having to sell his political soul to find out. Today he offered his analysis of what's going on these days in the Presidential race, and I thought I'd share it.

Okay. Here is an absolutely-accurate, fact-driven, there-is-zero-chance-of-being-wrong response.

The race for the presidential election Nov. 2 is too close to call.

That's it.

Anyone telling you anything else has a stake in the game; they are either backing one of the candidates, or paid to have an opinion.

Sure, there are places where you can be pretty clear who's going to win. D.C. is a no-brainer. (In more ways than one.)

But election polls just have too many flaws to be used with any degree of certainty when the nation is so evenly split. ("How do you know the nation is evenly split?" That's what the polls tell me. Crap. Okay try this. "How do you know when you need new glasses?" When you can't read the signs. Hahahaha. Oh never mind. Let's just forget this side of the argument)

A lot of the sampling error stuff has been covered in the thread; cell phones, responsiveness, weighting, etc... But then add response bias ...

Hey, quick question. "Who here is going to vote in the upcoming election?"

About 75%-80% of registered voters will say they will. And then Nov. 2 less than half will. Even better, the day after the election, 75%-80% will say they did.

Are folks who lie about voting more likely to back Bush, Kerry or Nader? Hell I don't know.

What about the majority of Americans who say they think the economy is the number one problem facing America, that Bush is mishandling the economy, and that Kerry cares more about the economy and their fate in it, but are still supporting Bush?

What part of the internal inconsistencies should you ignore?

In a poll where the margins are wide, the fuzz doesn't much matter.

10 point lead, 20 point lead. Eh, what's the difference?

But when a "lead" is barely outside the margin of error -- if at all -- and the ``growing'' or ``declining'' trend isn't either, who knows what you are really seeing.

I am reminded of the women's Olympic triathlon this summer. There was a woman leading the race -- and had been leading for a while, but the whole time the winner of the race was back in the crowd just tearing up the track. Boom. Suddenly in the last minute, the leader was the loser and the pack runner had left her in the dust.

In retrospect, it's easy to track -- no pun intended -- how she got there.

But at the time, in the haze and confusion of the moment, no telling. Insert Tour de France, WERA endurance race, whatever, and similar samples abound.


While I have had opinions about who would likely win the presidential election for a while, my advice has been the same throughout and remains unchanged now.

If you care about the election and its outcome. Do not wait. Do not rest on your laurels if your candidate is cruising at the front of the pack or give up if your candidate appears stuck in the dust of the pack.

Get active. Put up signs, join your local political party. Make phone calls to friends. Try to persuade ornery relatives. Get involved in whatever political party you chose.

While the vast majority of Americans have already made up their mind, there are millions who have not yet decided or may change their mind and will decide the outcome of this election. Who is going to persuade them?

Professionally, I don't know that I can recommend, generically, making political donations because doing so is in effect saying give money to the DNC or RNC -- sort of like saying buy soda pop effectively is saying buy either Coke or Pepsi.

But, I am comfortable saying `think about what you want and the best way to get there and fight like hell to make it happen.'

Even if you believe there is only one issue of significance where the candidates differ, decide which candidate is best on the issue and throw your full weight behind them.

And, be warned, if I hear anyone complain about the election trend or outcome the first question will not be did you vote -- about half of you are going to lie to me anyway -- but what, besides voting, did you do.

Best from the cheap seats on Capitol Hill.

There you have it--though reading the papers and the polls may make you think the race is hopelessly deadlocked, or your man's the loser already, or whatever, there's a lot more that you can do.

By the way, I really am going to try to write more. OK, OK--at all. Life's been kind of flying by lately, and I haven't shared. Shame on me.

|| Bikeboy 2:05 PM || (0) comments

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

You've gotta be shitting me

This from Yahoo! News:

Rumsfeld: 'No Free Passes' in Terror War

...He said that the civilized world must stay on the offensive against terrorists.

"There really are no free passes in this struggle, this war," Rumsfeld said. "No free passes for countries, no free passes for individuals."...

Rumsfeld, when later pressed on whether this "no free passes" policy extended to Saudi Arabia, claimed to have had his "fingers crossed" when he said it. He further stated that it wasn't his idea, somebody else did it, and began wondering loudly why nobody would take responsibility for their actions.

Lying assholes. If you vote for them, oh my loyal reader(s?), I'm writing you out of my will. I swear.

|| Bikeboy 4:25 PM || (0) comments