Friday, December 29, 2006

John Edwards - Townhall in Reno




After attending the John Edwards Townhall event at the Grand Sierra tonight it seems to me that the big story isn't necessarily the issues that he is campaigning on (although he handled the himself well with humor and gave some reasonably substantive answers to questions). The real story, mirrored in the story linked above, is that the turnout appeared to be at least double what they were expecting. I have no idea the final numbers of those in attendance. I'll be curious to see how the story is played tonight on the local news.

What I did come away with from the event was that the man is clearly charismatic, knowledgable, and does appear to be able to take a stand on issues. After seeing him in 2004 as a VP candidate, he appeared more assured, and in some ways less hamstrung by playing second fiddle to John Kerry. Clearly he is positioning himself as a populist which I can't help but find appealing.

Stay tuned folks! It's going to be a wild couple of years for Nevadans as the Presidential races revs up.

Bicycling and Politics - Expecting more from the people who work for us



A nice piece on Representative Peter DeFazio and his record of promoting bicycling interests. If there is one thing people who appreciate cycling should take from this it's that politicians CAN BE powerful advocates for a pro bicycling agenda in this country. Especially if they are seen as partners in the process of improving transportation infrastructure in our communities. Note that DeFazio, Jim Oberstar from Minnesota, and Earl Blumenauer from Oregon are all Democrats. Coincidence? I think not. Who are the voices for cyclists among Nevada's representatives?

An example of the difference a few strong allies for cycling can make:

DeFazio recalled having to convince fellow members of Congress 15 years ago that cycling was a legitimate form of transportation. In 1991, he and then-Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., teamed up to amend a highway bill to require states to spend some of their federal highway dollars on paths for pedestrians and bicyclists.
"A lot of my colleagues at the time thought of bikes as toys for kids," DeFazio recalled. "There's been a sea change since then."


Representatives gear up to protect cycling interests
By David Steves
The Register-Guard
Published: Friday, December 29, 2006
Here are two clues about how seriously Rep. Peter DeFazio takes bicycling as a legitimate means of getting around:
1. His pre-politics résumé includes work as a bicycle mechanic.
2. Unlike all those politicians who end up with six-lane highways named after them, DeFazio has a bicycle and pedestrian bridge named in his honor.

Cycling advocates say the lawmaker will be packing some serious street cred next month when he's promoted to his new assignment in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I don't know that there are any other former bike mechanics in Congress who are so proud of their heritage and commitment to bicycling. So he will be great," said Tim Blumenthal, the head of a Colorado-based cycling-industry lobby group called Bikes Belong.

DeFazio, a Democrat who lives in Springfield and represents Oregon's 4th Congressional District, is expected to be named chairman of the Surface Subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee. He said much of his work there will deal with roads, bridges and mass transit. But as one of two Oregon congressmen with national reputations as big-time cycling advocates, DeFazio said he'll use his newfound power to make sure bicycles are considered along with cars, buses, trucks and trains.

DeFazio said he'd try to deal with cycling issues on several fronts, many of which reflect the agendas being formulated by bicycle advocacy groups.

He plans to hold hearings on the recently passed Safe Routes for Schools bill to ensure that states properly direct federal dollars into roadway improvements so that children can pedal or walk to school without encountering traffic dangers.

DeFazio also wants to explore ways to improve rural highway safety for cyclists. He said recent cyclist deaths in his district have keened his interest in such improvements.

One idea, which came up during a meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, was to use a plan in place in Peters' home state of Arizona. The plan requires that when a rural route is resurfaced or rebuilt, its shoulders are widened and a rumble strip installed to warn motorists when their vehicles veer outside their lane.

For the full article click the above link.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Best Music of the Year Awards




It’s that time of year. Everybody’s making a list. No, not for Santa. And not for all the stores they have to go to to return the Christmas crap. It’s the yearend best of list. Today’s installment is my entry in some of the notable music of the year. I am in no way trying to say these are the only great recordings of the year. But if you missed them, you definitely need to make a trip with grandma’s gift card for Borders and try them out.








The “I can’t stop myself from dancing award goes to”
GoldFrapp-Supernature
Hey, your disco is in my glamrock! Hey, your glamrock is in my disco! Hmmm, sounds great!

Ear Candy of the Year award goes to:
Belle and Sebastien’s The Life Pursuit. I’m a sucker for a good melody and this album is overstuffed like a xmas stocking in one of those year’s past when I was very, very good.











The “I am a Golden God” (apologies to Almost Famous) award goes to”
Wolfmother
I walked into College Cyclery and the boys were playing this. I about crapped my pants. Conjuring the rock and roll gods Wolfmother will blow your mind.



















I’m glad she is still around award (even if the album wasn’t that great) award goes to”
Kate Bush – Aerial
Sigh, portions of this album rival her best but unfortunately it doesn’t match Hounds of Love. I’m still in love with her though.

The “Oh, this is why people like him” award goes to:
Bob Dylan:
Ok, yes, it’s a safe choice. But, I’m including this on my list because I am not a Bob Dylan fan (I’ve tried!) but this album just plain kicks ass.

The Pleasant Surprise Award goes to:
Thom Yorke – The Eraser
I’m a fan of Radiohead, in their “experimental” mode. But for some reason I didn’t expect much from this album. I’m a fool, because it is wonderfully haunting and catchy.



The “Rock the House” award goes to”
The Eels “No Strings Attached” tour.
A very LOUD, and I do mean LOUD, concert tour featuring 3.5 musicians, made the rounds in the US and Europe. Scour the web for some bootlegs. There are some great interpretations of Eels classics on this tour.

The, I gargle with glass award goes to:
Tom Waits – Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards
I don’t know what I did to deserve a three disc set from Mr. Waits. Any year Tom releases anything is a good year.



And, finally, the HAS THE FAT LADY SUNG? Award goes to:
XTC - Fuzzy Warbles Collector's Album
Ok, technically it’s been compiled by Andy Partridge, not the whole band (all two members). This could be the final recordings released from XTC, one of the finest British pop bands ever. Their body of work rivals the 4 lads from Liverpool and they are extremely influential in both songwriting, and in production circles. The array of herky jerky sounding bands who are trying channel the late 70s/early 80s right now owe an enormous debt to XTC, even if they won’t admit to it. Considering that the last two members and songwriters are not speaking to each other (apparently Andy Partridge isn’t even sure where Colin Moulding lives) you owe it to yourself to stock up on their back catalog. Why not start with this 9 disc set of rarities and demos.

Thanks for Christmas

Ok, a little belated. But this minor gem from the band, XTC is worth it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Pedal Stroke in the Right Direction


If the bicycle really is going to be a part of changing the world and the prevailing ideas about personal transportation then big business needs to step up and take the lead. Kudos to Ikea for their initiative and Merry Christmas to the 9,000 workers!

"Ikea gave its 9,000 U.K. employees a moving Christmas present this week: a brand new folding bike that they can ride to work. The bikes fold up so that they can be carried onto buses or trains. They cost £139, and are made by Raleigh, in Poland, especially for this event. You can bet that Ikea customers will want to buy one too ( anyone checked ebay yet...). As an extra encouragement, every staff member will be offered a 15% subsidy on transit tickets to encourage them to use public transport to travel to and from work. The eco-friendly gift is part of the company's commitment to improve the environmental aspects of the business. Last year the Christmas present was a portable DVD player and in 2004 staff received an MP3 player. The UK country manager said: "The bike is a fun present but there is a serious message. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to protect the environment.” Earlier this year Ikea changed its plastic bag policy by charging for them and encouraging use of reusable bags. IKEA says it has reduced plastic bag consumption in its stores across the country by 97%."

But where are Barack and Hillary?

A nice article on what we are in store for here in NV in the upcoming presidential election from the Guardian:

"Forget Hillary vs. Obama. There's another question in the Democratic presidential race: Does what happens in Vegas really stay there, or can Sin City set the course for the nation?"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Doping in Sports

This article in the LA Times caught my eye when I was in SoCal this past weekend. If you are interested in sports it is a fairly damning account of the campaign to stop doping amongst elite athletes. Frankly, it is devastating to both organizations like WADA, and to sports in general, that can't seem to get their act together in terms of policing this problem. The article is long but worth the time. Below is the first portion of the story. The final paragraph posted here is particularly damning.

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The worldwide sports anti-doping program, created to fight performanceenhancing drug use in international athletics, imposes severe punishments for accidental or technical infractions, relies at times on disputed scientific evidence and resists outside scrutiny, a Times investigation has found.

Elite athletes have been barred from the Olympics, forced to relinquish medals, titles or prize money and confronted with potentially career-ending suspensions after testing positive for a banned substance at such low concentrations it could have no detectable effect on performance, records show.

They have been sanctioned for steroid abuse after taking legal vitamins or nutritional supplements contaminated with trace amounts of the prohibited compounds. In some cases, the tainted supplements had been provided by trusted coaches or trainers.

The findings emerge from a Times examination of more than 250 anti-doping cases involving runners, cyclists, skiers, tennis players and competitors in dozens of other sports from around the world.

Alain Baxter, 28, became the first Briton to win an Olympic medal in Alpine skiing, placing third in the slalom at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Two days later he tested positive for methamphetamine, a banned stimulant. He was forced to forfeit his bronze medal.

His offense? He had used a Vicks Vapor Inhaler bought in Utah to treat his chronic nasal congestion. Unlike the Vicks inhalers sold at home, the American version contained traces of a chemical structurally related to meth — though lacking its stimulative qualities.

Despite testimony from a Vicks scientist that the compounds differed, an arbitration panel hearing Baxter's case ruled that because anti-doping authorities regarded the chemicals as related, he was guilty.

"It never crossed my mind that it would be different from the British one," Baxter told the BBC upon returning home. "I didn't think I was doing anything wrong."

A 17-year-old Italian swimmer treating a foot infection with an antibiotic cream her mother bought over the counter failed a doping test at a swim meet in 2004. Neither Giorgia Squizzato nor her mother realized that the cream's ingredients included a prohibited steroid — or that applying it between her toes could result in a positive urine test.

Arbitrators in her case acknowledged that "the cream did not enhance the athlete's capacity" and hadn't "favored her performance."

Nevertheless, according to the anti-doping program's zero-tolerance, or "strict liability," policy, which treats an athlete as guilty regardless of how a substance got into his or her body, Squizzato was judged negligent. Her penalty: a one-year suspension.

Stringent anti-doping measures have become a fact of life for the thousands of athletes participating in national and international events since the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, at an international sports conference in 1999. WADA's founding was prompted by a rash of doping scandals threatening the credibility of global sports.

What has evolved to protect competitive purity since then is a closed, quasi-judicial system without American-style checks and balances. Anti-doping authorities act as prosecutors, judge and jury, enforcing rules that they have written, punishing violations based on sometimes questionable scientific tests that they develop and certify themselves, while barring virtually all outside appeals or challenges.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A little R and R...













I'm spending a long weekend on the beach. I'll return next week with pics. Enjoy the weekend. I know I will.

rr

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Las Vegas Gleaner reviews the Iraq Study Group Report

The Gleaner just wants to save you some time:

"The invasion/occupation was/is the most spectacularly miserable and tragic failure in the history of the United States, and there's really not jack we can do about it. Have a nice day."

However, I would still encourage everyone to read it anyway.
Download for free at the above link

Live from Reno, Nevada

It's the Congress of Cities and Exposition! I know some in the Reno blogosphere are abuzz about the Congress and the visitors our fair city will be getting in the next few days. Now you too can attend without leaving the comfort of your comfy chair!

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TV Worldwide, a fast-growing web-based global TV network, announced that it would again webcast the National League of Cities' (NLC) Congress of Cities and Exposition, live from the Reno Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada via National City Network TV (NCNTV, www.NCNTV.org), beginning at 12:30 PT on Thursday, December 7, 2006. Main webcast sponsors include Waste Management and ICOP Digital, Inc. who will have corporate presentations featured as part of the webcast. Other sponsors include the National Crime Prevention Council and CH2M Hill.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Rush to Mimic the West














I've lamented the last few years how numerous Asian countries, most notably India and China, have been moving towards using more cars for transportation and decreasing the use of bicycles. To the point that the governments have created incentives for people to give up bicycling so the country wouldn't be seen as "backwards." You would think they would learn from the mistakes we've made created a culture where the auto is king.

From the Economic Times of India:

"Welcome back to the world of bicycling, which many of us have left long ago. Unlike the West, where the level of cycling grows along with you, Indians tend to forget their childhood love. But with the growing health consciousness and in an attempt to try different sports, people have started to embrace what is popularly known as leisure biking. And cycling clubs have sprouted all across the country, to be a part of the cycling renaissance."