Monday, May 31, 2010

Leonard Pitts says it best....

The news from the Gulf of Mexico continues to be tragic. Although this blog is Spokane-centric, I think what Leonard Pitts has to say this morning really applies well to our region.

We have a lot of folks who learned a mantra 30 years ago and still can't stop repeating it, much to the detriment of our nation and the Inland Northwest. It is nonsensical, childish and has been proven wrong time and time again. Yet, many of us have joined a bunch that seeks out "facts" to bolster the way they "feel," and we have a media that is much too happy to oblige. It sounds like a recipe for disaster and now we see what that recipe produces... again.

After you read this article, ask yourself why aren't our national news sources asking the governor of Louisiana, and other "conservatives" how they reconcile their talk with these results. Why won't anyone in the "liberal" media ask about Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration's role in this disaster, namely exempting oil companies from having a safeguard (one that other nations insist upon) that would have prevented this tragedy?

All to say, this is a national phenomenon that will be coming to a polling place (your mailbox) again soon. In essence, do you want to give the Bush Administration another chance?

Look at the results that we continue to pay for. Come on people, at some point you have to pay attention to what the people you want to elect vote for, stand for and who they carry water for. If you don't think it really matters, look to Louisiana.

I wouldn't be surprised that after the federal government bails out Louisiana, the same folks who voted Republican will continue to do so. It would be interesting to let them live by their philosophy and not spend a dime there. I think you would have people singing a different tune if they had to live with what they profess. But we are too responsible to let that happen. And in the lingo, we are "enablers" of those who continue to vote for this failed philosophy.

Here's the article and the title above is a link to the site.

Singing new tune in oil spill's wake

``There has never been a challenge that the American people, with as little interference as possible by the federal government, cannot handle.'' -- Bobby Jindal, March 24, 2009

That was then.

This is now: 11 people dead in an oil rig explosion, fragile marshlands damaged, perhaps irreparably, uncalculated millions (billions?) in lost revenue for the tourism and fishing industries, and a short attention span nation transfixed by a compelling image from a deep sea camera, brown gunk billowing out from a hole in the ocean floor, Things Getting Worse in real time.

And Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, off whose coast this tragedy is centered, is singing a new song, starkly at odds with what he said last year in a speech before the Republican faithful. Now he's begging for federal ``interference.'' He wants federal money, federal supplies, wants the feds to help create barrier islands to protect Louisiana wetlands from oil.

Not to pick on Jindal. He is but one prominent voice in a chorus of Gulf state officials who once preached the virtues of tiny government but have discovered, in the wake of this spreading disaster, the virtues of government that is robust enough, at a minimum, to help them out of a jam.

One hears pointed questions about President Obama's engagement or lack thereof in the unfolding crisis. One hears accusations that the government was lax in its oversight duties and too cozy with the oil industry it was supposed to be regulating. One hears nothing about deregulation, about leaving the free market alone to do its magic.

You know what they say: it's all fun and games till somebody gets hurt. Well, the Gulf Coast is hurt, hurt in ways that may take years to fully assess, much less repair. And the sudden silence from the apostles of small government and free markets is telling.

The thing is, their argument is not fundamentally wrong.

Who among us does not believe government is frequently bloated, inefficient and bound by preposterous rules?

Who among us does not think it is often wasteful, hideously complex and redundantly redundant?

Yes, government is not perfect. Nor is it perfectable. As adults, we should understand that. Any bureaucracy serving 309 million people and representing their interests in a world of 6.8 billion people, is likely always to have flaws. Thus, fixing government, making it more streamlined and responsive, is and will always be an ongoing project.

But instead of undertaking that project, people like Jindal rail against the very concept of government itself, selling the delusional notion that taxation and regulation represent the evisceration of some essential American principle.

They wax eloquent about what great things the free market and the free American could do if government would just get off their backs.

One thinks of one's meat oozing with salmonella, one's paint filled with lead, one's car getting 12 miles to the gallon, one's self being breezily denied a job for reasons of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation and, yes, one's ocean covered from horizon to horizon with a sheen of oil.

And one shudders.

You see, government is not our enemy.

Government is the imperfect embodiment of our common will. That is a not-so-fine distinction Jindal and others like him have lost in the rush to stoke the sense of grievance that burns in some conservative souls. It is a distinction they recalled with great clarity as oil began spilling upon their waters.

As there are no atheists in foxholes, it turns out there are no small-government disciples in massive oil spills. No, with BP oil soaking the sands of his coastline, Bobby Jindal turned righteously to that big, sometimes bloated, often intrusive federal government, and asked for help. He said, Send money, send resources.

You will notice he never once said, Send less.

The Miami Herald

Read more:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Probably, the last bus I would get on. Really.

The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End. This motto on a bus as it hurdles its way up Howard is not a real confidence booster. I have a National Lampoon book around my mess of an office that features a montage of bus plunge stories like this:

In fact there are websites and news stories dedicated to the phenomenon of bus-plunge reporting.

Would you want to get on a bus that the driver supposes himself an eschatological operative of End-Times prophecy? What might an angel whisper in his ear as the bus wheels edge ever closer to the precipice, Cecil B. Demille cloud breaks illuminating the driver's upturned eyes. The praise music blares in his headset to stifle the voices, yet they must be obeyed...

The fish symbol. Don't get me wrong. I made a living working in ministry. I officiate at weddings, and have a graduate degree in subjects theologic. Yet, the fish symbol always serves as a warning label to me. The only time I have bought a crappy used car was from a family that couldn't profess enough how Christian they were, and they had multiple fish symbols to prove it. They knew the car had two cracked heads, but didn't tell me. Likewise, I think businesses use the fish symbol to create a level of trust that one might not afford a "secular" business. And when they take advantage of you, it might make you think twice about holding them accountable because "they are good people." I am all for people pursuing their religious beliefs as long as it doesn't imperil others. I am just saying that if you put a fish symbol on your bus thinking that it is going to make me trust you more, it isn't. In fact, it makes me trust you less, a whole lot less.

The over-the-top American iconography is just plain pandering. It almost borders on satire.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Bike to Work Week!

OK. I have kind of a confession to make.

I have biked, on and off, to work since 1980 or something. The last few years, I have only used my bike to get (unless I walked or ran) to and from work. However for the last year or so, I have not done much in the way of running errands on my bicycle.

I think because I was riding a lot for recreation and also running a bunch to prepare for some really long runs, getting on a bicycle to go to the hardware store, liquor store or greenhouse seemed like a lot of work.

I work 24 hour shifts a couple or more times a week. So even though, it sounds good, it's not that big of deal to say that I always ride to work. Now that my long runs are behind me for a while, I will start doing as many errands as possible on the bicycle.

So, I kicked it off today by running up to the Ace Hardware on Regal to get some charcoal. I also tried out the new Hiking Sport Kilt to see how it worked for cycling garb. I have ran in it and it worked good for that.

After riding, I would say I was glad to be wearing something underneath it. So why not just wear bike shorts to begin with? Other than the freaking-out-drivers factor (which is good), is there any reason to cycle wearing this kilt? Probably not. I think if one were biking someplace far away as a destination, it would be nice to wrap the kilt around and then drop the bike shorts once you got there. That would feel pretty good I think.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Windermere Marathon

I had heard some bad reports of last year's Windermere Marathon, mostly along the lines that the course was not clearly laid out. Yes, pretty much the entire course was on the Centennial Trail, so it's pretty hard to screw that up, but apparently they did. It was the first year, though, and those kind of things might be expected.

Having trained a lot for the 50K RiverRun (awesome), Sarah and I decided to piggyback all those months of training and do the Windermere too. It was really expensive but they do bus you out to the starting at Post Falls and marathons are never cheap. We figured this was the second year, and they probably had it "dialed in" now. Beside, I really wanted to support this event. It would be great for the running community and great for our city.

Leaving from the arena, the bus ride out was perfect for the 7 am start. Everything seemed pretty flawless. There was a short starting delay to coordinate with the half-marathon which started at Mirabeau.

The first inkling that something was wrong was when my GPS watch showed that we were 0.7 miles into the race, but the race marker along the trail said "Mile One." It got worse. Eventually word surfaced at about Mile 23 that if you wanted to qualify for Boston you had to turn around at the finish line and run 0.8 back into the course. Sure enough, as I was .8 out from the finish there was a guy taking people's names and writing them into a notebook. Then after the names were written down and the 26.2 actually run, runners would walk or run back to the finish line (another .8) to get their medals. WTF?

I had no desire to qualify for Boston, but I did want to run a full marathon, so I crossed the finish line at 25.4 and then, as directed, ran back into oncoming traffic for .4 miles, turned around and crossed the finish line again for 26.2 - a true marathon's length. I sure as hell was not going to run 1.6 miles on top of what they were calling a marathon just so I could get my name written down in a notebook.

The Windermere Marathon is sitting in the fabled catbird seat. It goes along some of the most beautiful stretches of the Spokane River's Centennial Trail. Very little traffic control is needed. It passes through two states. The course is flat, so times will be fast. It takes place on the day of the Lilac Festival - a great evening of partying after the event. The weather this year was great. They have been given an awesome chance at creating a world class destination marathon.

Lots of great volunteers this year, nice shirts, beautiful medals, plenty of water stations, a great EMS response by the fire department and AMR as I saw IVs being started left and right during the finish (the second finish) on passed out runners.

Riverfront Park was a showcase for our city and for this race.

The organizers of the marathon had all this going for them and all we expected was that when we crossed the finish line, we had actually ran a marathon. How hard is that?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sarah is letting me share something personal with all of you.

When rummaging through her Bloomsday bag, Sarah found this very personal missive. She has given permission for you to read it.

Hey you've got chocolate in my peanut butter...

Yes, it was one of those Reese's moments when the chia seeds dumped on the butter. Chia never tasted so good and butter has never been better for you.