poisonwood's Diaryland Diary

Date: May. 16, 2008 . Time: 8:06 a.m.

travis Entry:



I don't align myself fully with Repub*licans or Dems, but on balance, I agree more with the Dem*ocrats. I'm not sure the victory by Travis Child*ers is worth celebrating. Apparently he ran as a pro-choice, pro-religion (presumably anti-gay marriage) candidate who is anti-war and liberal on some tax and financial issues. He is the candidate who explicitly disavowed Oba*ma. I went to his website to see what his positions are, and notably absent anywhere I could see was any commentary on his position on social issues. I guess he doesn't want to go on record with his views. Typical politician.

8:06 a.m. - May. 16, 2008


drug use

It seems obvious that drug use is rampant among track and field athletes. Victor Conte, the guy who supplied "the clear" to Marion J*ones, has interesting comments.

"Eighty per cent of the testing should be out of competition and not at meets," Conte says, "Number two, focus on the top-20 athletes. Instead of testing the top-50 twice, test the top-20 five times.

"They are the only athletes who get the lanes, win the medals and make the money. Throw your hook into the pond where you know the fish are biting. At competitions that's more IQ testing than drug testing because you have got to be pretty dumb to test positive at a competition."

Conte explained to CBCSports.ca how some elite athletes evade out of competition testing.

Athletes are required to provide their national anti-doping federations with their locations on a quarterly basis and update this information regularly. They are to be available for out of competition testing on short notice. But Conte says the athletes know they can miss two tests without penalty. Three missed tests is treated the same as a positive test and the athlete is suspended.

"They fill up their own cell phones so that when the testers call it says. 'Sorry, the mailbox is full, you can't leave a message.' Then the testers call other numbers. By the time they show up the athletes are clear, and they test negative. What's the worst consequence? It's a missed test."

Many long distance runners train in the US. Many more (including Americans) train in Mexico, or Africa, or any number of other places where I wonder how much out-of-competition takes place. It's gotten to the point where I'm suspicious of basically everybody. Like Gebreselas*sie for example. Even the ones who campaign against drug use - that doesn't mean anything - many times they are guilty. And for drug use, there is often a one or two year suspension, then the athlete can come back. It's not a criminal offense. Runn*er's World, as evidenced by Uta Pip*pig, will still put you on the cover.

7:50 a.m. - May. 15, 2008



I found some of the details on Clinton's WV win interesting. For example, "Among white voters making less than $30,000 a year, Clinton's margin of victory was more than 60 points." There's a lot of possible reasons for that, but among them has to be the universal health care. If I were a lower income worker, I would be wildly in favor of universal health care. If you look closely at Obama's and Clinton's campaigns, other than on the health care issue, Obama is more in favor of taxing the rich to help the poor - he is generally more extreme. However, at the end of the day, they are so similar it'll come down to the president's ability to get things through Congress. I'm not holding my breath.

8:13 a.m. - May. 14, 2008


wild, wonderful west virginia

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Wild and wonderful West Virginia. I grew up about an hour from the border, though it was very rare that we went there.

When I was a senior in high school, my parents finally let me start driving one of their cars - an '88 Ford Tempo. I was SO happy. I used to go for long drives through the countryside. One of the routes I'd take was out on the 311 toward WV. SW Virginia is hilly - some call them mountains - but as you head West, the mountains get bigger, and it gets more dramatic and beautiful.

The first guy I ever dated was from Blue*field, VA. Blue*field VA and WV are right on the border from each other. He was actually the son of a coal miner. His Dad used to commute 2 hours every day to the coal mine. We went to camp together, and our class got to go down into the mine - apparently the first ever large "civilian" tour of the place. We had to take a day-long safety class in advance. It was fun, but definitely scary. We put on the coalminer outfits, including the boots, which made it very difficult to walk because they had only men's boots. This was because you emerged black from head to toe. It was a long way down - you got on an elevator, and down you went for several minutes. At the bottom, it was pitch black. This may seem obvious, but in most places, there are no lights, so the only light comes from your headlamps.

The drive out to the mine was very interesting as well. The camp I attended was for all of Virginia, but kids from NoVa and Eastern Virginia mostly didn't come; I guess they had other opportunities. At my high school, it was a pretty big deal to get chosen to go. In any event, lots of kids were from these schools in the corner of Virginia, and we drove through their towns. It was just very, very different from Roa*noke, which itself is of course very different from the urban areas I've been living in since then.

5:17 p.m. - May. 13, 2008


quake disaster

I can't believe there is another natural disaster. I wonder if we (the US) have had any natural disasters that could have wrought destruction on the scale of the Chinese earthquake. It's just really difficult to think that I'm sitting here just like any other day worrying about this and that, and that 10s of thousands of people have had their lives turned upside down or been killed.

1800 people lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina, per wikipedia. I'm actually shocked (and horrified) that the number was that high. I thought it was an order of magnitude lower.

Apparently, the mountainous area of China is more prone to earthquakes than even California. It's worth noting that the US has the earthquake second highest on the Richter scale, in Alaska in '64. I didn't know about this until I went to Anchorage. The city is the lowest profile that I have ever seen. There are NO buildings above 2 stories. None - that I recall anyway. Apparently the city was flattened in their quake.

6:26 p.m. - May. 12, 2008


primary discussion

I have long thought the Florida votes should be counted. Michigan I was on the fence about, since Obama was not on the ballot and many voters probably chosen not to vote uncommitted.

Not counting Florida earlier, along with the order of the primaries, may be the reason that Obama gained momentum and pulled away. However, what's done is done. Now it seems that Obama will win even if both states are counted (uncommitted to Obama), which I think is an even stronger argument to count the votes. Especially Florida.

I can't decide what I think should happen to the primary process. On the one hand, I think the order of the states, especially at the beginning, has way to much influence. If H had lost Iowa, NH and SC, she might have dropped out, yet these states don't represent the country well. Many other candidates have lost by losing these 3 states. That makes me want to have all the elections on the same day, or perhaps have them all spread out over a month with 10 elections per weekend or something.

Why should NH and Iowa get the glory and not Michigan and Florida? The calls for Hillary to drop out have been coming for a long time now, making it obvious that many would prefer that Pennsylvania, North Carlina, etc., have no voice in the primary - for the greater good! Surely SC and VA can represent NC, and New York can speak for Pennsylvania. Or something.

On the other hand, we've gotten to know O and H much better than we would have had there been a short candidate. They have been forced to state their views so many times and debate each other so many times, they've had to state some things they probably would have preferred to keep quiet. We've seen their character come through, mostly for worse. This may be bad for the Democratic party, but it's good for choosing a candidate. It's too bad we didn't learn all this stuff before the other candidates dropped out of the race. Push doesn't really come to shove until people start voting, so there has to be an order.

Here's one proposal. The primary will last 25 weeks, with 2 (to 3 to include PR, Guam, etc.) primaries every week. States can choose the day within the 7 day period. Order will be chosen randomly. States in the last 10 primaries from the last election will be in the first 10 primaries in the next election.

9:35 a.m. - May. 11, 2008


rough play

A nice NYT article that gives H a well-deserved pat on the back without bashing Mr. O.

2:07 p.m. - May. 09, 2008



On the one hand, Myanmar should let UN aid workers into the country. They should also let US aid workers in. However, given that won't let US and UN aid workers in, how is the solution to stop ALL aid? No doubt Myanmar could use supplies. Perhaps US and UN aid workers could distribute the supplies more effectively than Myanmar soldiers, but no doubt Myanmar soldiers distributing aid are better than no one distributing aid. The US and UN should get over themselves and give Myanmar the supplies it needs.

The rulers of Myanmar rightfully considers the US their enemy. We ARE their enemy. If the US leadership had their way, the Myanmar military junta would be history - and based on human rights abuses, that's probably the right position to take. However, what if Iran demanded entry to the US after the New Orleans disaster? Even if the US desparately needed the help Iran had to offer, we would have turned them down flat.

No doubt distributing food and supplies is very difficult in a post-disaster area, and the UN and US could do a good job. However, denying the country needed supplies is ridiculous. Probably many people will die as a result.

11:46 a.m. - May. 09, 2008


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