On Marriages, approved and otherwise

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Gallup polling organization reported some interesting attitudes on marriage in 2011.

Unfortunately we can’t tell if the Loving v. Virginia decision by the Supreme Court in 1967, produced any movement since the only prior poll was in 1958. Nevertheless, I suppose we should be pleased that as of a few years ago only about 14% of all US citizens (and about 16% of white respondents) disapproved of black people marrying white people. Ok, ok, really lets all admit to being more than a little surprised that it took until the late 1990s for this country to tip past the half-way point. That’s really quite astonishing. But still, much progress seems to have been made since about 1995 or so.

But this brings us to our current debate about who should be able to get married. In this case, people of the same sex. Gallup has another set of data to relate, although this only starts in 1996:

Not quite as positive, although it is nice to see the tipping point has been reached. More than half of all Americans believed, in 2011, that same-sex couples should have their marriage recognized by the law with the same rights as different-sex marriages. Okay true, this is not the same as the “approval/disapproval” of the above polling but we’ll take it for now.

The “I” in Team

February 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

this is my new favorite thing.


This version found here.

A career on the color of my skin

November 26, 2013 § 4 Comments

IMG_4374[1]First, a late submission to Hope Jahren’s #ManicureMonday subversion of the ridiculous social media meme of Seventeen Magazine. I am not fond of bimbofication culture in the least and I am even less fond of it as a parent of female offspring.

So yeah, here’s what my manicure less nails do at work, most days.

On to today’s topic spurred by an epic troll from the DM

Jesus christ on a popsicle stick.

Look, I know this person has a long history of unstable pronouncements on the Internet. And I know this person has been placed in a really, really shitty public position lately.

But that situation is only tangentially (and temporally) related to the issue involving Danielle Lee.

The entire sentence is as follows:

If Danielle wants to leave science and make a career out of the color of her skin, I think it would be a shame for science to lose her, but again, go for it!

This is so ridiculously offensive I hardly know where to start.

As you can tell from the figure above, the color of my skin is categorized, in these here United States at present, along with Danielle’s much more frequently than with that of the author of that ridiculous comment. I point this out so that in the event the intemperate author happens by here she will understand that her comments are not a theoretical issue to me. I am not defending Dr. Lee so much as I am defending my own reactions.

There is no reasonable way to interpret that ridiculous comment of hers in any other way than as a recitation of a pervasive right wing meme that people who are minorities have some fabulous advantage due to the color of their skin. And that they can “make a career” out of this fantastic birthright.

This is false.

Don’t get me wrong, the phenomenon of “Rev Inc” is not entirely a right wing fantasy. There are indeed people who make careers out of defending and promoting the status and rights of underrepresented groups in this country. Including those who happen to share the skin tone that is one of several defining characteristics of the class under discussion.

Does this mean that they are making a career out of their skin color? Of course not. They are making a career out of addressing substantive issues of public policy and civil rights that are specifically relevant to people who share their skin color.

The suggestion that it is about profiting from one’s skin tone is a direct attack on the very substantive issues of equality and opportunity available to different subpopulations in the US. It is a direct attack on the legitimacy of the situation with Dr. Lee and the piss poor response of Scientific American to her blog post calling out some yahoo for expecting her to blog elsewhere for free. It is a direct attack on the notion that the experiences and reactions of someone who is not of majority culture are legitimate and in need of hearing. It is basically telling Dr. Lee, and those like her, to never mention a perspective that is informed by the color of her skin and the way that society treats her because of that feature.

Lest one be accused of making a career on the basis of skin tone.

I don’t ask for an apology from the original author of these comments. I don’t really care one bit if the comment was a result of striking out in anger and pain or whether it betrays a fairly confirmed mindset. I don’t even particularly think anyone should front her all mad-like.

What I do want is for you to forward me any job opportunities that involve easy money on the basis of my skin tone1.

That would be sweet.

1See Figure 1.

The world is still a very large place

November 26, 2013 § 4 Comments

I have never been an early adopter of social media but I am most definitely an adopter. I was not the first guy in grad school to start up with obsessive email, nor to create one of those new fangled World Wide Web Homepages. But I caught on quickly. Blogging had been going on for years before I even grasped what one was….and found my niche for reading them. And eventually writing them. I was a latecomer to Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn had been under operation for some time before I was triggered by an academic colleague to sign up.

The more recent iterations of network-based social media, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter primarily, have presented me with a fascinating question.

I am still waiting for the astonishing, out of the blue, friend-of-a-friend connections to emerge.

What I mean is that I have many circles of social media networks and connections. My family links, of course. Some based on my misguided youth- friends, classmates, etc from primary through secondary school years. Another circle based on my college years. Another one based on my graduate school social connections and yet another that is based around my current profession.

I always thought that over time, I would get some amazing coincidental networking connection. Where someone in my professional life is connected to someone from my childhood or college years in a way that has nothing to do with our shared experience (i.e., not counting people who share both profession and a prior social circle with me).

It hasn’t happened yet.

Some Open Carriers are more equal than others

January 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Via the Being Liberal Facebook:


I know what it feels like to sports dope

July 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was someplace in the middle of my college years and I was home for the summer. I went to a circuit race that I’d raced a few times over the years. It was maybe a mile per lap, around a park (ok, mapmyride claims 1.1, good memory!).

Normally the circuit race is my game…..crits (under a mile, four corners around a block, typically) were cool, in theory, but I didn’t usually have a team capable of support and I’m kind of a wuss at the high-speed, elbow rubbing, apex cornering mid-pack thing. So a full-mile, maybe 1.5 circuit suited me well. Slightly less importance on repeated, high-speed cornering, lengthier straightaways to group up and the possibility of a short rise. Now, I sucked ass at hill climbs, true, but short power climbs, taken up out of the saddle were doable. Short enough and they were actually an advantage to me.

The course had a hill early in the lap after four right angle corners. Then it was about 30 feet of gain from 0.22 mi to 0.37 mi and then it was drifting up, almost flat up to 0.7 mi, then back down to the start line. Just after the course started downhill there was a acute turn, sharper than 90….crank it up to the 1.0 mi mark, bank a 95-100 degree left and it was about a tenth of a mile to the line.

Races were maybe 45 min at that point? I was in the Cat IVs so that seems about right. That would make it on the order of 18 laps or so? maybe 20. Not so far but believe me, you were hauling ass the whole time.

I always loved this course and had managed a prime (intermediate sprints within the race) or two over the years but had never won. My memory suggests that I was never in there for the finish…for whatever reason. Most usually because the climb had me at my limit. I could hang for most of the race, and be at the front enough by the start of the downhill to dice for primes at the bottom of the course. But in the end, someone would light it up enough over the climb late in the race for me to lose contact with the front.

Not this year…..

I was FLYING. I mean, I didn’t feel like Superman, toying with the other riders. I didn’t feel like I was riding a motorcycle. I was working my ass off, dicing it at the front through the danger zones, then sitting in. Chasing down breakaways a few times…. and above all else, strategically climbing the hill. No big deal, I was racing. And I’d get tired….and have to back off for a lap.

But every lap, I was in there. Coming through the left-hand turn that started over the crown of the hill, I would gain places, slip up to the front….shut dudes down. I may even have had to chase down some real climbers on a lap or two. And my HR would spike. But then I’d settle down and catch my breath and get back to where I needed to be.

And there I found myself, last lap. Up the right-hand side as we hit the corner in the middle of the hill…jamming up to the slightly strung out front 10. Slipping into the five just before the turn onto the downhill…and then I nailed it. It was downhill so I don’t even remember the usual dramatics….flat or uphill and my back wheel was typically jumping around a bit when I spooled up a sprint. But I was goooooooone. Flew into the final bend a bit hot and I do remember juuuuuust not clipping the curb on the outside…and then it was up again and across the line.


Of course, I hadn’t been doping, not really. But I HAD been training and racing above 6,000 feet for many months prior to this race. No doubt I had a significant red blood cell advantage over many of my competitors that day. I certainly had one over my own historical races on that course.

This is what EPO does, of course. Increases oxygen carrying capacity. So does blood doping.

Several years ago I started to realize that this is why you see so much explaining and defending out of the cycling dopers that get caught. “Everyone is doing it”. “I had to if I wanted to keep my (domestique) job”. “I had a bad day and needed to stay with the team”. “You still have to put in the work!”.

Yeah….yeah you do. And no, you don’t feel like you are cheating.

What you feel like is …”finally! I feel right. Like I’m where I should be based on my training!”

I can see how it would be very easy to convince yourself it wasn’t exactly cheating.

But it is.

Sette Serum Pro Review: Part 2

June 28, 2012 § 4 Comments

As I noted in the last two posts, I bought a Sette Serum Pro to replace my ancient Mongoose mountain bike.

The Serum Pro is carbon light…haven’t weighed it but the specs claim 22.56 pounds for my 19″ size and I believe it. My old bike was in the 22-24 pound range depending on what was on it at the time for parts and this new ride is right in there.

I have some initial ride impressions to relate after a few miles both off and on road with it. I did end up putting a seatpost with a more normal set-back to the clamp on it which got the saddle back to where it should be for me. I also put a 120mm stem on, but this is still a tad short. I may eventually put a 130 mm on it but I’m waiting to transfer my bar ends over before I get too pissy. I initially hadn’t done anything to the forks except twiddle the dials…I did put the air pressure up to 120 psi for the last couple of rides.

So far, the bike is fantastic. Bottom Bracket and rear stay flex under heavy pedal pressure is probably my starting point for evaluating a frame and this one is rock steady. Jumps out just as you would want with no sign of weaseling or flex. I had been riding the Shimano external cup bottom bracket with SLX cranks for at least a year on the old rig so I’m not attributing it to that at all. Frame is solid.

Interestingly the XT M775 wheelset is a 24 spoke count…I’m used to 32 as a minimum and I was a bit worried. No sign of problem yet. They seem sufficiently stiff under heavy pedaling and under cornering….within the limits of the Kenda Small block 8 tires. This will be an area of interest in the long-term test situation.

My second point of consideration is the frame stability under turning and it is coming though with flying colors. Good design.

The M770 9speed Shimano XT shift train is excellent, as expected. They have seemingly returned to a more “positive” feel to the shifters. This means it clicks and clunks solidly so you know you are making a change. I like this. I did not like the ever-softening and quieting approach they were taking late 90s and into the 00s.

I am definitely still working on the fork. It has a lot more travel and compliance (springiness) then I am used to. Some of this may be set-up and some of this is undoubtedly that modern forks specified on a XC race-style MTB are designed for more activity than the old Mag21 I had. Which, btw, has probably been relatively immobile relative to original design for years since I’ve never done any recent maintenance on it. My issues with the Fox 32 F100 R Open Bath is that it is too soft for my (current) taste. The wheel drops down when you pull up on the bars, making quick elevations over bumps and curbs different from what I expect. This is intentional, I should note, as a way to improve bump compliance when you are not trying to lift the wheel. Correspondingly I’m fiddling with the compression damping (big lever, easy to switch on the fly) and the rebound damping knob (not so easy on the fly) to adjust the ride. The other problem of this squishiness is that the front end bobs when standing up out of the saddle on hills. This is something that needs to be fixed for my style of riding. Putting the compression lever all the way up helps and I may have to live with this.

Hey, going from a rigid fork to my original Mag21 took some adjustment too!

The on-road feel is a pretty good way to evaluate a MTB as well and the Serum has been good there too. It doesn’t resonate with the tires or ping or click or anything that I associate with Al frames. The frame is solid on-road too, where tire grip is good and one can really crank in the big ring. Instability in high speed cornering is minimal and right now I’m putting this down to the fork and my unfamiliarity with it / possible failure to set it up properly. The bars and stem are stiff, maybe even stiffer than I’d like. I have a 110 gram titanium bar on the old bike that, amazingly, is still alive and well. It was always a little tiny bit flexy which I actually liked.

The oversized seatpost specification seems to make up for a rather hefty bit of mast I have showing. Let me note that I have never been a fan of the sloping top-tube design. This one has more of it than my last one did which means slightly more seatpost is used. This has the potential to be flexy but I’m not noticing anything. The extra diameter over what was spec’d on my old bike may be the difference here…or perhaps my fears of flex from the seat post were simply unfounded.

So, to conclude from the first few rides, this bike is light, stiff and everything I expected in a carbon frame. I have the fit nearly dialed in so I can get to riding. The only spot of weirdness is going to be the suspension fork although this is down to my tweaking the adjustments and learning to ride with a modern type of fork.


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