Saturday, November 03, 2018
Bad Apple 12 Hour
I completed 48 miles (77.25 km) in the time allotted, including my bonus lap. (If you're still on the course when the clock runs out, you still get to complete and count the lap.) I was tenth runner overall, out of 38. Two of my students, Emma M. and RJ N. competed in the 6 Hour race, as did the lovely Julie and faithful canine Chaos. Medals all, (including Chaos) and Emma was 3rd overall. This was my fourth time at Bad Apple, and ties my best performances (48 miles in 2015 and 2016).
The course consists of 4 mile loops through apple orchards, fields, and woods. There's an aid station every two miles, and while it's very flat the convoluted course through varying terrain and scenery make it very fun to run. The race organization and support is superb, the runners are a very enjoyable bunch, there's no particular distance pressure ("I still have umpteen miles to the finish, ugh") and it's simply a great way to spend the day. Julie and I did our traditional post-race soiree to El Rancho Mexican restaurant in Greenville. Super food and service! All-in-all a wonderful time. Many thanks to Ben and his family and friends for putting this on. And thank you to Klackle Orchards for providing the venue.
Finishing 48. Six hour runner just ahead of me.
Chaos sports her medal.
The Difficult Question of Immigration
Rule 1. Immigration by productive, self-supporting workers (workers) interested in the American ideal of respecting and protecting individual rights is good.
Rule 2. Immigration by socialists, Islamists, criminals, enemy agents, and welfare cases is not good.
Admittedly these rules are quite complex and hard to understand, but careful study of them will repay itself.
Friday, October 19, 2018
Le Grizz #17: BEARS
A Party of Evil?
The talk of violence from the Dems is serious. One does not say these things unless initiating violence is on one's mind. People who speak this way must never have power. They cannot be trusted. Their language is less for others than for themselves. I fear they are revealing what's inside them.
I keep the Mike Vanderboegh quote on my masthead because it defines the line we must not allow them to cross. Mike was a peaceful man, but he understood peace and freedom require a willingness to defend them. "Don't tread on me" is serious. Laissez-nous faire.
Saturday, October 06, 2018
Welcome, Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh! And now...
Second, the amount viciousness and plain evil evil emanating from the Senate Democrats and the radical left is waking more people to how dangerous they are -- maybe even waking the GOP establishment. Threats by a Dem ex-staffer to doxx Senators' children, maniac Sen. Corey Booker urging supporters to go after other Senators, the evidence that the whole mess was a conspiracy organized by Dem leadership and paid for by Dem donors ("calling Mr. Soros")... I hope the Republicans now recognize these people must never have power. Lindsay Graham seems to be learning the lesson.
And now what?
"We" at Unforeseen Contingencies fervently hope that the next steps are investigations of Prof. Christine Ford, her attorneys, Julie Swetnick, Michael Avenatti, and the rest of those liars for criminal behavior -- lying under oath and in the course of the investigations, followed by criminal prosecutions wherever possible. In addition, we call for a full investigation of Diane Feinstein and other relevant senators for their roles in orchestrating the conspiracy -- criminal charges where possible but at least censure. Feinstein's harboring of a Chinese spy also calls for further investigation. That's not enough -- the Clintons scream for prosecution -- but it's a start. Let's hope the Dems have sufficently riled the Republicans in Congress that they actually take the offensive.
America's future really does require that the radical leftists -- which now means Democrats -- never get power.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Why all sane Americans should support the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh
I understand that some reasonable people might not agree with Justice Kavanaugh's legal philosophy (legal philosophy, not politics) and prefer a different judge. But Kavanaugh is obviously a legal mind of very high caliber and qualified for SCOTUS. From that standpoint, there's no argument against him.
What his opponents have done is to level completely unsubstantiated and unsupportable calumnies -- smears -- against him at the last minute, in a fashion that makes it almost impossible to respond, and then demand the nomination be suspended. What has been done is completely outside of the Constitution and the rule of law, and substitutes lies and a hysterical mob in their place. If this works, this will become the norm, the new rule. Reasoned argument will have no place in such a world, and it will be anything goes.
Suppose, for example, I point out that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor viciously attacked me many years ago. Like Dr. Ford, I'm unsure what year it was, and the people I've suggested were witnesses deny knowledge of the alleged events, but still... Obviously Justices Kagan and Sotomayor should be indefinitely recused until we get to the bottom of this, right?
Russians Down in Flames
"We" at Unforeseen Contingencies are never happy hearing about our fellow human beans losing their lives, but it's not as upsetting when people are killed while making trouble, and even less so when they are hoist by their own petard. Even if the Russian government's charge against Israel is true (and the Israelis deny it), the Russians have no legitimate complaint, for three reasons. First, they are intervening in Syria to support a vicious dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Second, they are supporting Islamists there (Iran and Hezbollah). Third, they trained and armed the Syrians. There's a kind of irony in that the Russians themselves took the steps that killed their men -- intervening on the side of evil, providing the arms and training, and then sending their men to be killed. "We" don't find their protests persuasive.
Let's add insult to injury. It gets worse. The Russian protests are utterly hypocritical. Russia provided the Buk missile battery that shot down Malaysian Air Flight MH17 over Ukraine, murdering 15 crew members and 283 passengers. The missile was Russian Army equipment, directed from Russian territory. It was deployed in support of the unprovoked invasion of a peaceful neighbor. The same leaders who perpetrated this slaughter of innocent civilians are now whining when their troops are killed -- by their own allies -- while perpetuating injustices? Wow! What chutzpah!
Russia is a rogue nation. It would be wonderful if the Russians could change course, but until they do, it's important we keep that in mind.
Friday, September 21, 2018
Approve Justice Kavanaugh Now!
The smear on Kavanaugh is a political strategy. Prior to Kavanaugh’s selection as nominee, Stream.org posted an open letter to whomever would be the nominee, telling them that exactly this sort of thing would happen and that it would be one of the greatest trials of his/her life.
When Kavanaugh was announced, “Women’s March” put out their pre-written generic press release spewing outrage over the selection, forgetting to fill in the blanks with the name of the nominee.
The Ford accusations were brought in underhandedly and in backdoor fashion precisely because they are libel. Of course this fraud doesn't want to testify. By all evidence she's a liar. The Democrat party had similar contingency plans for any Trump nominee; this was just filling-in-the-blank.
Of course I cannot prove that, but one has only to pay attention to what these evil people are doing. There's nothing honest in this. I’m astonished by the naïveté of non-leftists who treat seriously the Democrats’ disinformation campaign. These are people who, standing in front of a leftist firing squad, will natter on about left’s “good intentions.”
The Republicans must confirm Kavanaugh. This is far more serious than merely filling a Supreme Court vacancy (which is extremely serious). If the Democrats get away with this they will use such tactics again and again and again. The rule of law will be over, and what follows will be horrific.
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Elkhorn 52K 2018!
On Saturday, August 4, I ran and successfully completed the Elkhorn 52K Ultramarathon, in the heart of the Elkhorn Mountains, just south of Helena, Montana. It was the 14th time I've run a race at Elkhorn, and my 13th official finish (I once got off track in the 50 Miler and ran my own 38 mile course). It was also the 30th running of the Elkhorn Ultras. This is an old-school race, run in wilderness with only occasional support. This was a great day for me, as it's the first ultramarathon I've run since having a full hip replacement on 2 August 2017. Among other things, this bodes well for Le Grizz this coming October. Here's a race report.
On Friday, August 3, I left Bozeman and drove the 100 miles to the Willard Creek Trailhead in the Elkhorns, where the race begins. I planned to camp at the trailhead, so parked my trusty Element in a likely spot and hitched a ride with some other runners back to Jim and Bobbie Pomroy's Elkhorn Fitness Retreat for packet pickup and the pre-race dinner. The people I rode with were great fun to talk with -- two brothers who were running together, plus the wife of one and another brother who were there in a supporting role; we ultrarunners love our support crews. The dinner was the standard spaghetti -- I'm pretty sure left over from years past -- and I devoured several plates of it. It ages well. I talked with several old friends and met some new ones, including some canines, and we had the usual course briefing. It was mostly the usual stuff -- I know the course very well -- but one thing I noted was that the race directors, Steve and Tammy Engebrecht, had recently experienced a family tragedy, and it was tough for them to be there. But they were proceeding, and their strength and courage and moving ahead typifies ultrarunning.
I caught a ride back with a Billings runner I've known for some time, Bill J., and his wife; it was good talking with them. Back at the camp/trailhead I hung out a bit with Fran Z., Carl, and some other friends, and then turned in for the night, sleeping in the back of my vehicle. I slept well, and the 53 Mile racers served as a great alarm clock -- they start at 5:00 AM while the 52K starts at 7:00. I got up, drank coffee and ate, dressed, and chatted with other runners until the start. If it matters, besides coffee I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich plus a quart of water for breakfast. I had some doubts going into this race, because I know my conditioning is not that great and this is the least I have ever trained for an ultra. But I wasn't untrained, had done some very challenging runs, and most importantly had 43 previous ultras under my belt. I was relying on experience more than conditioning, and would see if that was sufficient.
The race starts with a long downhill followed by a stream crossing (no, there's not a bridge, and yes, there are many stream crossings like this). I was in what I think was second-to-last place in this stretch, which seems about the right place to be to me. After the creek crossing the trail (this is all single track trail) goes left, slightly downwards to Jackson Creek. At Jackson Creek we turn and run up. After an aid station there's a relatively steep climb, then a drop into the creek bottom. and then a very loooooong wet slog up for a few miles This is incessant climbing on "trails" that seem mostly notional. I know this area very well (it's where I got a bit off course during my 38 miler a few years back). I was not feeling that great -- it was hard to get into the climb and I didn't feel strong. A couple of 23K runners passed me in this stretch (they start an hour later) and that's very early to be caught by them.
After a while the course turns and follows the contour -- no climbing -- until it drops into Casey Meadow. A few more 23K people passed me here. I dropped into Casey Meadow -- a spectacular descent -- and started the climb of Casey Peak. I dragged. My climbing was so poor I contemplated perhaps dropping to the 23K race, and a number of people blew by me, including the one 52K runner who'd been behind me, a gal from Texas. But there's never any sense in making a decision before it need be made, and I slogged on. At the high point on Casey Peak I always do pushups to celebrate the mountain. As I dropped to do my 10, a 23K runner approached and I suggested she join me. Sometimes they do, but she requested instead I do some for her, so I did 20.
From that point it's a fairly quick drop down to Teepee Creek aid station. At Teepee Creek, 52K runners turn left and 23K runners turn right so it was time for a decision. I felt good enough, and running to Elk Park would at least get me a good 22 mile training run, so onward! I wolfed down handfuls of jerky and boiled potatoes dipped in salt (Yukon Golds!), thanked the wonderful volunteers, and headed out.
This next stretch is all uphill, climbing about 2200 feet over four miles, most of it in the last two miles. It's a grunt. But I started feeling stronger and better and began moving fairly steadily. I could see the Texas gal ahead of me and was gaining on her; I thought it might be a good idea to catch her and make a pact to run together -- after Elk Park you're really in the backcountry, and it would not hurt to have support. But odd events intervened.
As I began the steep part of the climb to Elk Park, I saw a dead tree atop which someone had placed a cow elk skull. I turned on my otherwise-shut-down phone to snap a picture and a passing runner (not in the race) took my photo next to it. Before I could power down again, I started getting texts from several of my students who are working on the Convention of States project; this stuff is dear to my heart so of course I replied... "how the heck I am getting texts from you I don't know. I'm in a 50K in the backcountry surrounded by mountains with no cell towers anywhere near and certainly not in line-of-sight." Go figure.
But this frittering away with cursed electronic devices was sufficient to allow Texas gal to vanish. I cranked up the hill, passing one couple who were having a bad patch. It's a quite a long climb, but I hit the high point and did 30 more pushups to celebrate. From there it's only a few hundred yards to the Elk Park aid station. At the station, I felt some hesitation about proceeding, mostly because I felt so slow. It was also disconcerting to hear that Texas gal has already left the station maybe 20 minutes before. She'd been less than 50 yards ahead of me before. I asked the station staff about proceeding, and one of them responded "You're eating and drinking, you're not hurting, no problems, you have time... it's really all a mental thing. I think you should go." Yup. I grabbed more jerky and potatoes (a crew dog offered to share my jerky, but I told him only if in return he would share his rawhide chew, which he didn't), and headed out just as the "bad patch" couple was coming in. They were doing much better and as I took off I said I'd see them ahead.
This is only 16 miles into the race, but I had no more doubts the rest of the way. Of course, once you leave Elk Park, doubts will do you no good. You're entering remote backcountry and there's no real way to get out except by completing the race, and no good way for anyone to extricate you if you can't proceed. You're committed.
It's a long (a few miles), steep (a few thousand feet) descent from Elk Park into Wilson Creek. At Wilson Creek the 53K turns left and follows a bad jeep trail for a few miles, passing Moose Creek. At some point the course departs the jeep trail for a single track climb to Tizer Creek aid station. This is an out-and-back, and it was here I finally caught the Texas gal, running towards me. I told her I'd been trying to run her down all day, and now that I'd caught up she was going the wrong way. She grinned and told me to try the whisky at the aid station. We high-fived in passing and I continued on.
At Tizer Creek an enthusiatic volunteer refilled my hydration pack (with water). And not only did they have whisky, it was nicely chilled Glenfidditch scotch. Man, did that hit the spot! More jerky and potatoes, and I turned around and headed back down to Moose Creek. The couple behind me was climbing u as I went down and doing well. (They did indeed finish successfully.)
Moose Creek is, in my opinion, the hardest part of the race. You've already done most of your mileage, and now comes the longest, steepest, most unrelenting climb. It's a sort of a road or trail or something. There are a few "cabins" along the lower parts, some swampy creek crossings (this year featuring hordes of mosquitoes), pieces of an old wrecked Model T or some similar vehicle higher up, and it is just a relentless, unceasing climb. I hoped to crack it off in an hour. It took me an hour and forty five minutes of slogging, one foot in front of the other. My friend Carl M. and another friend passed me here -- they were in the 53 miler and doing super. (The courses diverge at Wilson Creek but come back together at Tizer.)
The Moose Creek climb ends just a few hundred yards at the Elk Park aid station. At the station, devour more jerky, the last of their Pringles (I accidentally dropped them on the ground but the dirt just adds important minerals), and leave the last potatoes for 50 milers behind me. Now there are only 7 miles to go and there's no doubt I'll finish.
The rest was fairly anticlimactic. I found a couple more Pringles someone had dropped on the trail and ate them. Fran and a couple of other 50 mile gals passed me near the elk skull, and at Teepee Creek Helena's John Hallstrom (he's run every Elkhorn 50 miler -- a perfect streak!) and another guy passed me. I ate my usual meat and potatoes and ventured on. The last part is a long climb, not overly steep but steady for a mile or two. I ran really well in this section, feeling strong, and managed a sort of sprint across the finish. I bet I was doing a ten-minute-mile!
It was a really fine experience. The weather was good (perhaps low 70s), the smoke from California's fires had cleared and the air was good, later in the day we had some cloud cover, everyone on the course was fun to be with, and the Elkhorn Mountains were, as always, spectacular. To me, this is what life should be -- taking on challenges you aren't certain you can handle, being with good people, and being in beautiful places. This is living.
I owe great thanks to HURL (Helena Ultra Runners League) for putting this race on, and especially to R.D.s Tammy and Steve Engebrecht, for whom this was a particular challenge this year. I wish them and their family the best. Many thanks to all of you and your wonderful volunteers and sponsors.
Click any photo for enlarged version.
Sunday, July 22, 2018
Universal Basic Income: a Terrible Idea
Many people, including Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg, have endorsed UBI. But the "libertarian" arguments for UBI are what are intriguing. The gist of this "libertarian"argument is that the UBI would replace the rest of the welfare state. It would be less expensive to administer and be less distortionary, having fewer perverse incentive effects. And the welfare state hasn't ended poverty, so maybe this would work. (These are from Tanner's piece.) Prof. Michael Munger of Duke University proposes it as the solution to economic dislocation and -- tellingly -- compares it to Otto von Bismarck's welfare state, which Munger seems to think was a great success.
A number of people claiming to be libertarians have either endorsed UBI, e.g. Munger, or, like Tanner, suggested we contemplate it. Berryhill takes no discernable position and simply reports, concluding his piece, "what do you think?"
OK, here's what I think. This is a terrible idea, it's anti-libertarian and would have catastrophic moral and economic effects if adopted. Here's why:
1. The argument that this could replace the many welfare programs and streamline the welfare state is one of the stupidest arguments I've ever heard. "We libertarians will agree to UBI and in return you agree there won't be anything more." There is no way such a deal could be enforced, and it would not be. The welfare state would expand. Anyone who disagrees is welcome to explain how once a national UBI was put in place, future politicians could be prevented from introducing more welfare programs. And since with a UBI most people would become accustomed to the false idea that it's a proper role of govt to provide everyone with income, it's hard to imagine what arguments could be used against such expansion.
2. If we were to have a UBI, how much should it be? Like minimum wage, it "obviously" would have to be high enough to allow people to live in dignity, right? I'd suggest about $55,000 per person (roughly the US per capita GDP) should be fair, right? Why should some have so much when many others have so little? (I hasten to remind readers I believe the UBI should be zero, but once one agrees to UBI, I have no idea how to argue against making it ever bigger.)
3. The UBI would not end poverty. People are not poor because they don't have enough money -- "not enough money" is just the definition of "poor," not the cause. People are poor because they are unproductive and don't care for themselves, and in most cases, I think, this is because they won't care for themselves. But whether they cannot or will not, handouts stolen from others do not solve the problem, and only reinforce it. Teach a man to fish, and he can take care of himself. Give a man a fish, and you turn him into a hopeless dependent.
4. Relatedly, guaranteeing people an income just for existing would reward indolence. "You can spend your day taking drugs, watching TV, playing video games -- don't worry, the state is taking care of you." We'd get more helplessness, not less. What a great way to build a strong society of free, self-reliant people. Much as I despise socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, her proposal for "guaranteed jobs" makes more sense. It's a terrible proposal too, but at least it would not subsidize and reward people for being irresponsible, since they'd at least have to go through the motions of working. (Incidentally, John Stuart Mill argued that "severe and irksome labor" should be the price for accepting welfare for an able-bodied adult. How bizarre that Comrade Ocasio-Cortez should be closer to the classical liberal position than a Cato senior fellow is.)
5. Suppose we do get a UBI. Recall that Cato-ites and many other contemporary libertarians (including Munger) also promote open borders. If we tax productive people so we can pay unproductive people to hang around, what kind of people will we attract? A UBI combined with open immigration would be fiscal suicide. (I note that UBI advocates like to cite Milton Friedman and his negative income tax idea in support. I never hear them favorably noting his point that free immigration is utterly incompatible with the welfare state.) Of course, once one accepts the UBI logic, there's no apparent reason why the UBI shouldn't be truly universal and apply to everyone in the world. Why should something so "arbitrary" as national borders matter?
6. Why aren't libertarians championing abolition of the welfare state, instead of trying to make it better? As long as we have a welfare state, we'll have a massive government that controls people by manipulating their livelihoods. To be blunt, if you are in favor of the welfare state, you are not a libertarian. These two things aren't compatible.
Berryhill notes that Chris Hughes (of Facebook), Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk are promoting UBI and helping finance the California experiment. Musk is practically a recipient of a personal UBI himself, given his government subsidies. But if these billionaires want to spend their own money on this, that's fine. I do not want to be taxed to pay for their "bright" idea. The UBI is a terrible idea that is devoid of principle and ignores morality, incentives, and economics.