Landmarks, ho!

Since February 22nd, 2002, I've been the only political science graduate student in the country that has never been to Washington, D.C. - but that's all gonna change in October, baby!

Like Ninjas, but for Christ!

I was approached by a pair of christian missionaries at Barnes & Noble tonight. I was looking through the biography section, when a stranger said to me, "Hey, you have one of those Lance Armstrong bracelets [they're a fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation - www.laf.or / www.livestrong.com]." I thought he was a fellow cycling fan, so I chatted with him a little bit about it. He asked me what I did for a living and about my wife (after he saw that I was wearing a ring). Up to this point, I just thought I was having a normal (although uncomfortably long) conversation with a friendly stranger and his altogether-too-quiet female companion.

Then, without any warning [sample warning: "Look out - here comes the Jesus!"], he asks me where my wife and I go to church. Now, my wife and I have gone to church before, and it seems to be a nice place - lots of singing, friendly folks, donations for the poor - I can get on board with all of that. I think, technically, we were even married by a Christian minister, so there were at least a few minutes about three years ago that Jesus approved of us. We don't go to church now, though, and neither one of us really has any use for organized religion. Religion in general, in fact, is pretty low on our list of conversation topics (not that we have an actual list - it's more of a conceptual list. But not really in list form, in the sense that it isn't numbered or categorized. More of a conceptual group than a physical list). Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that these missionaries know how to pick 'em (or don't, depending on how you look at it).

In response, I kind of stuttered an answer about not really finding the church for us yet - mainly because I'm kind of scared of people that are willing to be missionaries for their faith - and then told them I had to go pick up my wife (which was, in fact, not a lie). In a perfect world, I suppose I would have engaged them in a theological debate and we would have both left with a deeper understanding of one another's religious views, but I took the cowardly way out and scurried to my car.

The entire episode got me thinking about organized religion. If you believe your relgion is the right one, why not trust that people will find it on their own? I don't push people to be agnostic, and I certainly wouldn't be a missionary for agnosticism. Do you have to believe that non-believers are misguided or ignorant or stupid or simple or what? It strikes me as very elitist to believe that everyone you meet in Barnes & Noble would *want* to be part of your church, much less that they're spiritually inferior for choosing not to be.

Damn it - stupid bees!

I trained an army of bees to attack Hannah, but apparently they don't have her updated residence information in their database -

Bzz - where is Hannah? - Bzzz

This just in!

Please be aware that "Crapweasel" is the new "hoser". In any conversation in which you would have used "hoser", please substitute "crapweasel".

He's just such an ass!

PATRAS, Greece -- Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir scored a goal here on Wednesday night, setting off a rousing celebration among the 1,500 Iraqi soccer supporters at Pampeloponnisiako Stadium. Though Iraq -- the surprise team of the Olympics -- would lose to Morocco 2-1, it hardly mattered as the Iraqis won Group D with a 2-1 record and now face Australia in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Afterward, Sadir had a message for U.S. president George W. Bush, who is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.

In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."

The Bush campaign was contacted about the Iraqi soccer player's statements, but has yet to respond.

Swim technique

I'm an adult-onset swimmer. I taught myself enough to get to the bike leg in my races, but I've never been better than second-to-last in my age-group out of the water. One of my off-season goals is to cut my 1000-meter time from 22 minutes to 17 minutes - or 15 seconds off my 50-meter splits.

I just read a great article on technique that made me think I need to re-think the way I'm thinking about swimming (got that?). It compared swimming to running on ice - i.e. power is great, but only if your technique is good first, and the way to build technique is to practice technique.

Wisconsin Medal Count - Five

I'm only counting athletes who currently live in Wisconsin (sorry, Time Trial silver medalist Dede Barry) -

Rebecca Giddens - Silver - Kayakaking - Green Bay

Paul Hamm - Gold - All-around - Waukesha

Paul Hamm - Silver - Team - Waukesha

Morgan Hamm - Silver - Team - Waukesha

Carly Piper - Gold - 4x200 Free - Madison

8/18 Olympic Observations

1) Paul Hamm is almost never just "Paul Hamm" - he's usually "Wisconsin's Paul Hamm" or "Paul Hamm of Wisconsin". I think this could be one of two things - either (1) they're doing that kind of thing for everyone and I notice it more because it's Wisconsin, or (2) the announcers think Wisconsin is an odd place for a gymnast to be from.

2) Amanda Beard looks like some sort of killer robot from the future in the headshot they use. I'm pretty sure she's not though.

3) They have an artificial whitewater rafting course? That's awesome. Also, I may have gotten a little teary-eyed when they interviewed the American woman who took silver (note: also from Wisconsin. I may have to start a Wisconsin medal count thread). Shut up.

4) As long as I'm admitting that sort of thing, I may have also gotten a little teary-eyed when the American woman set the world record in the 100 free earlier this evening - she looked genuinely shocked and even a little embarrassed. It was adorable.

5) They just showed a teaser for the men's time trial with a video clip of a peloton. Apparently there was some cheating in the TT this morning that the live feed on cyclingnews.com missed. I'm not going to tell you who wins, but I will say that he redeemed himself quite a bit from a disappointing Tour.

6) The elves announcing the men's all-around finals just got really, really excited about something, but I missed whatever it was. I hope it wasn't Paul Hamm (from Wisconsin) "losing half a tenth". Shut up, Al Trautwig.

Crushed Ice Brigade

The kitchen at my office has one of those refrigerators with a water and ice dispenser in the door. It never fails that when I go in to get a glass of water, someone has set the swtich to cubed ice and I have to switch it back over to crushed ice. I'm at a complete loss - why would anyone pick cubed over crushed ice?

I've posted a sticky note on the fridge asking people not to be so stupid, but I don't know if it will help.

My ass was, indeed, saved

Jason Schuett of Omaha, NE is hereby publicly commended for refusing to delete e-mails from his inbox. Anyone that says otherwise should be eaten by a shark.

Caffeine-induced hilarity

"Econometrica" is fun to type, to say, AND to read!

Eight Stars!

If you don't own Cake's Fashion Nugget, you need to do yourself a favor and buy it. In it, you'll find such timeless classics as "The Distance" and "I Will Survive" as well as priceless lyrics like:

Heads of state who ride and wrangle
who look at your face from more than one angle
can cut you from their bloated budgets
like sharpened knives through chicken mcnuggets

shut the fuck up
yeah
learn to buck up


A One-Act Play (for Erika)

It's recently come to my attention that people are reading this unprompted. Because of that, I feel a responsibility to be more entertaining. To that end, please enjoy this one-act play, loosely based on an episode of The Simpsons I saw recently.

Characters:
Me: a haggard graduate student
Prospectus: an embarrassingly-incomplete dissertation prospectus

Setting:
An office on Madison's east side, littered with journal articles printed for free on ICPSR's dime. "Karma Police" from Radiohead's OK Computer plays in the the background.

And....action!

Me: OK, prospectus, I don't like you and you don't like me, but we're going to have to work together....

Prospectus: (interrupts) You don't like me? I like you.

Me: Oh, well...then...I like you too. Here, have a lollipop. (toussles prospectus's hair)

And...scene!

Michael Phelps - a big honkin' disappointment?

I really feel sorry for Michael Phelps. My athletic goals are pretty modest - not be the last person out of the water in the swim leg, place in the top half of my age group overall - but they're still pretty difficult to achieve. Michael Phelps is going to disappoint a lot of people if he ONLY TIES the best swimmer in history. It's not enough that he made it to the Olympics (by qualifying fairly - I'm lookin' at you, Thorpedo), or that he set a new world record at the qualifying meet, or that he wins one medal of any color, or that he already won a gold, or that he broke his month-old 400 IM record already - the poor kid has to win EIGHT GOLD MEDALS just to live up to expectations! And it's not like he's doing any of it in secret - NBC is airing "23 minutes to Phelps" promos in the corner tag and his Visa commercial (which he was well compensated for, I understand) is on every other break.

To his credit, he seems to be handling it well. In in post-400 IM interview, he said his goal at the Olympics was one gold medal, so he's going to be happy with himself no matter what else happens. He also seems pretty sincere when he says that team success is just as important as his individual success. I like the kid, even if he does drive a Lincoln Navigator with spinning rims.

Monday night is the night to watch though - 200 Free with Phelps, Thorpe and 2000 gold medal winner Van den Hoogenbondenmargenban.

On voter registration drives

I don't support people who go out of their way to register uninterested people to vote. My experience has been that there are two types of conservatives - selfish conservatives and default conservatives. To their credit, the right has done a really good job claiming the default positions as their own - if you're an uninformed citizen are you going to say that you're not pro-life? "If I'm not pro-life, that would make me....pro-death! I'm certainly not pro-death!"

That said, here's what I think - if people are uninformed, they're more likely to take the default position and vote for GWB. Additionally, if people have the type of personality that would be sympathetic to the liberal cause, then they're probably already (1) informed and (2) planning to vote. If you're not aware enough to know that Bush is a moron and bad for our country, then I don't want you to vote in this election.

I don't support poll testing, but I don't see the point of guilting the uninformed into voting with appeals to their sense of civic duty. Don't take the right to vote away from them - just let them realize why it's important on their own.

Plus, if they don't vote, then my informed vote is worth more.

Hottest new underground internet thang!

If you want to get in on the ground floor of the internet trend all your friends will be talking about next week, send Hannah an e-mail at goble@polisci.wisc.edu to tell her how much you want her to do the section schedule. This internet fad is going to be bigger than those dancing hamsters. Remember those? They were so cool. Anyway, the Anti-Hannah campaign is now in full swing!

Dissertation proposal update

Right now, beyond my outline, I've written exactly zero pages of text. I have a long, horrible weekend of writing ahead of me. I have to say, though, that right now I feel like it's just going to be a pain in the ass to go through the trouble of writing it all down. I can't explain the feeling very well - it's not that I think that putting what I have in my head down on paper will be hard, just that it will take a LOT of time. That doesn't make sense, does it?

Carbon Frame update

I just found out that I may get the chance to purchase a pretty limited-edition full carbon frame and fork. I'll keep you posted throughout the fall and spring as this situation transpires. No, you can't ride it when I'm done turning it into a bike.

Welcome to the shiniest blog on the the web!

Ooooh - shiny, shiny new blog! You'd like to put me in your nest, wouldn't you?

Here's the thing - the thing is that I'm supposed to be writing a dissertation proposal in the next six weeks, but I'm easily distracted. By such things as shiny, shiny blogs. I read enough of my own crap though ("market actors gauge uncertainty and respond according to their level of risk-aversion"), so this thing is only going to entertain me if you entertain me. You may begin the entertainment whenever you wish. Starting now. Go ahead.