Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not Thursday Night Track Racing

[photo caption] Cat 6 legend T3 awaits the start of his Category 4/5 race. (photo courtesy of Smithers)

Smithers posted tonight from the Velodrome.

I'm not there.

This is the first Thursday night of racing since early June that I haven't been on my bike at the Velodrome.

I'm not sure exactly why.

I think it goes something like this:

1) I started work last week. It stresses the body and mind. My body and mind are stressed. I don't have a lot of excess energy right now.

2) I'm kind of burned out from a full season of bike racing. The irony is that I just found out this week that I won't be able to ride a full season of racing next year. One would think that this would mean that I would be taking every chance I could to get out and race while I can. To that logic, I say, "Read Reason #1".

3) There are road races on Saturday and Sunday that I'm thinking about riding. If I raced on the track tonight, I probably wouldn't be able to fully recover by the weekend.

4) There are only three (including tonight) nights of racing left at the Velodrome this year. Any upgrades points I earned in these three nights (however unlikely) would be halved at the start of next year. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me to earn half-points from here-on-out this season.

5) Did I mention that I'm tired? I've taken naps of 2+ hours each of the past two nights.

End result? I think I'm done at the Velodrome on Thursday nights this year. I'm undecided on Smithers' September 10th Velodrome Throwdown, however.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

From the Birchwood Bike Forum

[photo caption] The Birchwood Bike team, circa 2001. (photo courtesy Birchwood Bike team)

James on the Birchwood Bike Forum reports on the race where Tuffy took 2nd:

"Steve H. probably had the longest attack on the day, going on the back side of lap one and staying out through the flats on lap 2. The field was not letting him get away, and when they finally caught him, I attacked, but to no avail. Then Adam Mitchell from Silver Cycling tried to get a paceline going to lift the pace and shed some riders. Matt and I joined in on the paceline along with Ed A. from SPBRC and Patrick from Loon State, as well as a Tonka and Lake Superior Cycling rider.

Problem was, Grandstay refused to pull through, and others, like Tuffy from Cat 6 wanted to suck wheel. Adam and I shut the line down."

For those who aren't aware, claiming that someone is "sucking wheel" is a rather derogatory term in cycling. In means that you're sitting in the group (out of the wind) rather than going up to the front (into the wind) and helping to set the pace.

Essentially, James is saying that I was unwilling to do my share of the work.

While "sucking wheel" has a perjorative connotation, I won't deny that that is absolutely what I was doing.

A kinder way of putting it would be to say that I was "sitting in".

Someone (Smithers?) told me a while back that bike racing doesn't reward the rider who expends the most energy.

Rather, the rider who is rewarded is the rider who uses his energy the wisest while also conserving energy whenever possible.

And that is what I tried to do.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Linear, Legitimate and Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World

Lennox Lewis.

Born in London, England to a mother of Jamaican descent and grew up in Ontario, Canada.

Fifth place in the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics. Defeated American Riddick Bowe by knockout in the final.

As "number one contender", was ducked by Bowe until Bowe was stripped of his WBA world champion's belt (which Bowe famously disposed of in a garbage can). The belt was then awarded to Lewis.

Defeated the two other fighters that rival Lewis for the title of "best heavyweight of their generation": Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

Defeated up-and-comers: Vitali Klitschko; Michael Grant; Shannon Briggs; David Tua; Zeljko Mavrovic; Henry Akinwande; Tommy Morrison; Tony Tucker; Donovan "Razor" Ruddock.

Defeated top-tier heavyweights: Andrew Golota; Francois Botha; Ray Mercer; Frank Bruno; Tyrell Biggs; Mike Weaver.

Career record of 41-2-1 with 32 knockouts.

His only two losses were by one-punch knockouts to Lewis' chin: once to Oliver McCall and once to Hasim Rahman.

Lewis' one draw came in the first Holyfield fight, though nearly every trained observer believed Lewis clearly won the match.

One of the only fighters in history to have defeated every man he ever faced (Lewis defeated McCall, Holyfield, and Rahman in rematches).

The only heavyweight to retire as reigning champion since Rocky Marciano nearly fifty years earlier.

Three-time heavyweight champion of the world -- an elite group which includes Mohammed Ali and Holyfield.

Stood an imposing 6'5" inches tall and typically weighed in between 235-240 pounds. Had an 84" reach.

Had the ability to knock opponents out with a variety of punches, including: right and left uppercuts; straight rights; overhand rights; and, most notably, right hooks.

For nearly ten years, the Lewis right hand was the most feared weapon in heavyweight boxing.

Famously and repeatedly introduced as champion by Michael Buffer as the "linear, legitimate and universally recognized undisputed heavyweight champion of the world."

Physically dictated and controlled the pace of every match he ever participated in.

Lennox Lewis: the best heavyweight of his generation.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Best I'll Ever Race, Probably

I don't normally put race recaps on this site.

I don't do it for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it's very hard to sound anywhere near modest if you're spouting off about how well you did, how great your legs felt, and how you dominated the sprint finish.

Another reason is that if you're reporting that you didn't do so hot and that you abandoned the race for the umpteenth time this year, you inevitably sound like a cry-baby/sissy/ninny. And who wants to read about someone's personal pity party? Not me.

And not many people enjoy reading race reports. I have friends who read this blog who specifically ask me to avoid writing so much about cycling.

Plus, Superrookie's better half (easy to believe if you know him) wrote the best race report ever about a month ago. So writing a better race report is an exercise in futility.

So, after saying all of that...I'm going to bypass all of those reasons for today to share yesterday's race report.

I'll try to keep it short. But it won't happen.

Yesterday, Superrookie of Team xXx/Athletico, Sexy Adam of Silver Cycling/Hollywood Cycles and I traveled to the bustling village of Marty, MN (pop. 17) for the 1st Annual Gluek Road Race taking place as part of Marty Days.

The three of us competed in the Category 3/4 race, scheduled for 48 miles -- 4 laps of a 12 mile circuit.

Conditions were a beautiful 80 degrees and sunny for the 1:05 PM - CST race time. 36 riders started the race.

The race got underway without event and continued that way for the bulk of the first three laps. There were a couple of half-hearted breakaway attempts, including one of 3-4 riders that lasted about half of a lap. There was also a significant climb on the backside of the course that really tested riders.

Since Tuffy doesn't climb hills very well due to his ever-diminishing though still-ample weight, I was practicing what Smithers calls "the drift" -- getting to the front of the pack for the start of the climb to insure that I was still in contact with the back of the pack by the end of the climb.

"The drift" worked like a charm the first two laps.

Then, on the third lap, I really struggled up that hill. I had to put out a much larger effort than I wanted to in order to get to the top, and about 50m from the summit my legs "popped" -- filling full of lactic acid and feeling like they weighed 300 pounds each.

Luckily, my still-ample weight allowed me to descend back into the pack (with some drafting help from The Little Guy) following the climb. But I wasn't feeling it anymore.

My legs were still really bad at the start of the fourth and final lap when I made a deal with myself: give it everything I had on the last climb -- if I got dropped, I got dropped, but at least I would've left it all on the table.

When we got to the climb for the final time, I got as far to the front as I could, sitting maybe 10th wheel at the start of the climb. I got out of the saddle early, but then, like something out of some 1980s movie starring Kevin Bacon or Matt Dillon, my legs came around mid-climb. I sat back down and easily followed Superrookie and company up the hill. When we reached the summit, I felt better than I had at any point of the past two laps.

I'm convinced that Charly Gaul pushed me up that hill.

Regardless, I got in the middle of the pack at the bottom of the hill. There were maybe five miles left.

The next 4 1/2 miles were spent with people jockeying for position, with the sprinters moving from the "sprinter's lounge" near the back of the pack towards the front and with non-sprinters recognizing their fate and sliding towards the back of the peloton.

It was around this time with Superrookie told everyone in the peloton that he would give them $15 to lead him out for a sprint finish. He got no takers.

Going into the final righthand turn, I was originally on the inside of the road. Then, about 100m before the turn, someone in front of me made a move for it. It opened a nice little space for me and I just followed him. We moved to the left side of the road and prepared for the righthand turn.

I went into the turn in third position. There were maybe 100 meters to go.

I came out of the turn, stood up, and stomped on the pedals as hard as I could. I was slightly over-geared, but I still turned a decent sprint and crossed the line in 5th.

When the final results were posted, I had moved up to 2nd. It seems that via some over-aggressive riding and disregard for race rules that three riders were disqualified for ignoring the yellow-line rule. Those riders had finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. One of them had, according to on-lookers, been so brazen as to actually cross the finish line on the wrong side of the road.

So, it's not a "true" 2nd place, but I'll take it. Because I followed the rules...and rode the very best race that I could have.

The worst part? It's already history.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Work Wrap-Up

Work began Wednesday and continued today. Here's a wrap-up.

Day 1: Reported for active duty. Met commanding officers and new squadron members. Received mission plans. Received tools for completing said plan.

Day 2: Began to dig trenches. Viewed film on rules of engagement. Performed recon.

I have to report back to active duty on Monday.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


[photo caption] "Anticipation", Carly Simon. (image courtesy Delafont.Com)

Anticipation indeed.

A new season of work starts tomorrow.

"Summertime is over
I don't owe you nothing"
--Joseph Arthur

The true "fog of work" begins again...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bush's War

(photo courtesy AmericanIdle.Net)

It is not "Persian Gulf II". And, per lack of anything to do with 9/11 or other plots that may have put the United States in imminent danger, it is certainly not "The War on Terrorism".

It is time to start describing this war in terms of who is responsible for this failure. And if that person will not own up to the fact that this war is the product of complete and utter ineptitude -- if not treason -- then it is the responsibility of the citizenry to call this war what it is:

"Bush's War".

If you're a blogger, please use this term. And pass it on.

One day the history books will have to put a label on this war; let us help to ensure that the correct label is used.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Miss-and-Out Rules

(image courtesy YojimbosGarage.Com)

2. Track Racing
2B. Rider Conduct
These rules apply to scratch, handicap, miss-and-out, madison, and points races.
2B1. Leaders must occupy the sprinters lane unless far enough in the lead so as not to interfere with competitors seeking to pass. If the leader is below the sprinters line, the following riders may not pass underneath [relegation or disqualification].
2B2. A competitor overtaking another must pass on the outside unless the rider ahead is riding above the sprinters line. A rider who passes another must not in any way impede the progress of the passed rider [relegation or disqualification].
2B3. In the homestretch on the last lap, the leader(s) must ride a straight line parallel to the edge of the track [relegation or disqualification].
2B4. Blue Band. In all races it is permissible to ride below the measurement line, but never below the track surface on the blue band [relegation or disqualification].
2B5. When a rider has a crash that does not present a danger to the other riders, the race will not be neutralized. In case of a crash that causes a hazard to the other riders, the race may be neutralized by the starter. While the race is neutralized, all riders must ride slowly around the top of the track, maintaining their relative positions. Resumption of racing will be signaled by the starter when it becomes safe.
2B6. Riders who suffer a mishap may be assisted in restarting.

2E. Miss-and-Out
2E1. A miss-and-out (sometimes called "devil take the hindmost") is a massed start race in which the last rider over the line on designated laps is eliminated from the race. Riders may be eliminated every lap, every other lap, or on whatever regular schedule is stipulated before the race. Gaining a lap shall not prevent a rider from being pulled nor matter in the final placings. A rider shall be considered to have gained a lap upon reaching a position to take shelter behind the rearmost rider of the group.
2E2. Judging. The back edge of the rear tire determines who is the last rider over the line.
2E3. The Chief Judge shall notify the last rider over the line. The rider shall withdraw with due caution as soon as it is practical.
2E4. Pulling Riders. If a rider does not withdraw as instructed, the Chief Referee may call one or more free laps until the rider has retired. [A rider who blatantly disregards instructions to leave the field shall be subject to disqualification from the remaining events in the event and possible suspension.]
2E5. Riders suffering mishaps shall be eliminated. When fewer than 8 riders remain, riders suffering mishaps shall be placed ahead of riders already eliminated.
2E6. Finish. The miss-and-out may be ridden to the last person or to a specified number of survivors. In the latter case, there may be a free lap followed by a conventional sprint, judged on the order of finish by the front wheels. The format to be used must be explained to all riders before the start of the race.

Tuffy is unable to locate any rule for a Miss-and-Out race that refers to pulling a rider who has conceded the race, but is still riding and is still on the lead lap, once one his/her finishing position has been secured.

If you have knowledge of such a rule, please identify said rule and it's location in the "Comments" section below.

Thanks for your help.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

JonBenet's Killer

[image caption] Child molester and murderer John Mark Karr. (image courtesy CNN.com)

So, you'll admit that you "loved JonBenet" and that "her death was an accident", but you refuse to comment on how you got into her basement?

Really? That's how you're gonna roll?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


(image courtesy FunnyArtPictures.Com)

So I'm out riding last evening. Not two miles from home base, a kid in the back seat of a Pontiac Grand Prix whips something out of the rear passenger seat at me as his car rolls by.

I don't know what it was, and I don't really care, but it went right over my handlebars.

So I sprint after the car, fairly certain that I can catch it because there are two stop signs up ahead.

I catch the car at the second stop sign and pull alongside the female driver and make the universal signal to roll the window down.

The driver either doesn't see me or pretends not to see me.

So I pull through the intersection. And throw my chain off of the ring while doing so.


As the car rolls by, the little shit in the back seat gives me one of those "Gotcha, b----!" looks.

But then the driver pulls into an apartment building not 50 yards from where I'm putting my chain back on.

"Gotcha, b----!"

I proceeded to roll down the driveway into the parking lot. The car has parked.

I roll up to the driver.

"I was trying to get your attention back there because your boy in the back seat threw something at me as you were driving."

"Jake! I can't believe you would throw something out of the window!"

Muffled, from 12-13 year-old Jake: "Sorry about that."

"Just wanted to let you know, ma'am. See you around, Jake."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who's "Annity"?

Who's "Annity"?

Monday, August 14, 2006

A.L. Wild Card History

American League Wild Card Teams, 1995-Present

New York Yankees

Baltimore Orioles

New York Yankees

Boston Red Sox

Seattle Mariners

Oakland Athletics

Anaheim Angels

Boston Red Sox

Note: The American League Central Division (Chicago White Sox; Cleveland Indians; Detroit Tigers; Kansas City Royals; Minnesota Twins) has never had an American League Wild Card team.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Trouble with Liriano

Francisco Liriano's on the Disabled List with an injured elbow.

Question 1:
Is the injury caused by overuse?

Answer 1:
Liriano's career high for innings pitched in a season came in 2005 when he threw 190.2 innings (combined minor and major league total). Prior to that, Liriano threw 156.2 innings in 2004. This season, Liriano has pitched 119.0 innings. While Liriano's workload this season alone has not been overly demanding, his innings pitched totals have risen every year of his professional career and Liriano was set to establish a new personal high this year.

Question 2:
Is the injury caused by bad mechanics?

Answer 2:
Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson isn't going to admit this, but I think bad mechanics play a large role in Liriano's injury.

Here's some film of Liriano from YouTube.Com for reference:

As you watch the film clip, ask yourself the following questions. I've posted my answers with each question.

--Where is Liriano's throwing foot (his left) placed on the rubber?
Liriano places his throwing foot almost in the center of the pitching rubber. Most pitching coaches will teach their pitchers to position themselves on the rubber to the opposite of their throwing arm. For Liriano, his throwing foot should probably be positioned more closely to the right side of the rubber (facing home plate).

--Does Liriano ever reach a balance point in his motion?
The "balance point" is when the lead leg (his right) reaches its zenith in upward motion. If a pitcher stops his motion at the height of the leg's upward motion, he should be able to balance. Liriano never reaches a balance point.

--Does Liriano break his hands before or after his lead leg (his right) begins its downward motion?
Pitchers want to break their hands (separate their throwing hand from their glove) before they start the downward motion of their lead leg. If they break after, they risk their arm falling behind the motion of their body, which can lead to arm problems. Liriano breaks his hands after his leg begins to move downward.

--Does Liriano move his lead leg down-then-out or does he swing it open like a gate?
Proper pitching mechanics calls for Liriano to move his lead leg down-then-out. This motion keeps the pitcher's momentum in-line towards home plate and increases velocity while also lessening the chance for injury. Liriano swings his leg open like a gate by opening his hips instead of moving the lead leg down-then-out. This shifts his momentum towards third base and opens his hips too early, thereby stealing some of his power.

--Where does Liriano's plant foot (his right) land?
A pitcher's hips should be slightly opened to home plate when the lead leg (his right) lands. Liriano's plant foot lands inside of his body on impact, forching him to throw across his body in order to deliver the ball across the plate. This position puts more strain on the pitcher's arm, lead hip, and lead knee. And it costs the pitcher power. All negatives.

--Where does Liriano's momentum lead him during his followthrough?
A pitcher wants his momentum to take him directly to home plate, following the path of the ball, and allowing him to put all of his power behind the pitch. Liriano falls off to the third base side of the field during his followthrough.

Question 3:
Is the injury caused by a combination of overuse and bad mechanics?

I'm not trying to get anyone fired, but I would answer in the affirmative to this question. If the Twins can't get Liriano's mechanics figured out while also easing him into 200+ inning totals for a season, my guess is that Liriano won't have a very long MLB career at all.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ask An Anarchist, Part 4

(image courtesy BlackboardCamilleRoy.Com)

[Editor's Note: Recently (dis)pencer, the subject of this "Ask An Anarchist" series, filled in as "guest columnist" for Smithers during a Smithers Family vacation over at SmithersMPLS. In his introductory post, (dis)pencer identified himself as an anarchist. And, just like that, you have the makings of our "Ask An Anarchist" series.

The "Ask An Anarchist" series is for entertainment only. It represents the thoughts and ideas of two amateur philosophers, so don't take it for anything more than that. If you should cite this for any academic research project, you'll get what you deserve.

Without further ado, enjoy.]

Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 1"
Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 2"
Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 3"

After my third question, I stopped bothering (dis)pencer with regard to anarchy. The simple reason for this was that it had become fairly clear to me that we had come to a point in the dialogue where we were arguing chicken vs. egg.

(dis)pencer believes that societal ills are the product of the social institutions that we have created for ourselves.

Tuffy believes that societal ills are the product of the human condition. Therefore, any institution that humans create is going to be beset by these ills. It is unavoidable, in my mind.

The societal ills that I believe are inherent to the human condition are the following:

You've heard of them before: they are commonly referred to as the "seven deadly sins" or "capital vices" or "capital sins" of Christianity.

Now, say what you want about Christian faith systems, but the reality is that the Bible and other ancient religious texts are products of the societies in which they were originally produced.

Therefore, it was apparent over two thousand years ago that there were certain ills displayed by humans that were harmful to the society as a whole.

And these very same ills are still harmful to society today, regardless of the governmental, economic, and political composition a society chooses to follow.

The problem, as I see it, lies within the human condition, not within human constructs.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ask An Anarchist, Part 3

(image courtesy HolloPhotographics.Com)

[Editor's Note: Recently (dis)pencer, the subject of this "Ask An Anarchist" series, filled in as "guest columnist" for Smithers during a Smithers Family vacation over at SmithersMPLS. In his introductory post, (dis)pencer identified himself as an anarchist. And, just like that, you have the makings of our "Ask An Anarchist" series.

The "Ask An Anarchist" series is for entertainment only. It represents the thoughts and ideas of two amateur philosophers, so don't take it for anything more than that. If you should cite this for any academic research project, you'll get what you deserve.

Without further ado, enjoy.]

Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 1"
Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 2"

Tuffy's Question #3:
In your answer to Question 2, you responded that for anarchism to work, the existing mentality of the citizenry must be changed or altered before the political, economic, and cultural power structures can be properly dismantled. As well, you noted that this change in mentality (and, thus, the change to anarchy) won't work if the citizenry truly supports such things as corruption, nepotism, discrimination, violence, wars, and similar institutions.

Therefore, would changing our current free-market, "democratic" society into one of anarchy truly solve anything? Do governmental systems -- or the lack thereof -- make any difference? Or, instead, are we really talking about the core issues of the human condition?

What I am asking is this: Instead of the root problem being our current "power structure", isn't the root problem the illogical, unreasonable, harmful, and mutually detrimental beliefs and behaviors carried out in our society?

And, if we could alter these "ill" beliefs and behaviors, society would function to serve all of its citizenry more completely, regardless of the organization of that society's power structures?

(dis)pencer's Answer #3:
There have been entire books written about these questions, but I can try to sum it up.

To start, where do you think these issues (corruption, etc.) come from? Seriously.
Think about it for a second.
Does society just come with all these "ills"?
Or, were they ingrained, or taught as the norm?

I personally believe that everyone has a right to a decent home, clothing, enough food, and respect.
Me and Capitalism disagree on those points.

Now, Capitalism and the Goverment are intertwined, but they are not the same thing. Government is Capitalisms bitch.
So, do governmental systems -- or the lack thereof -- make any difference?
Yes and no.

They make a difference to the 2 million people in prison in the US. There are plenty of people in prison for petty crimes, drug shit, that don't need prison so much as they need an option.
Capitalism does not time for giving people an option.
Government should, but it is not a priority under Capitalism.
Government is failing.
And the murderers, and rapists in prison, those that are "susposed" to be there. What did society do for them? American values are Money, Pussy, and Power. If you arn't getting one or more of those things then you are a failure.

Can you blame people for cracking under the pressures? No.
Did they make the right choices? No.
Did the Government serve it's purpose to create and host a healthy and safe society? No.
What is the result? Throw them in prison.
Why? Because the Prison Industrial Complex is a booming market. There is money to be made building prisons, running prisons, from prison labor...
Again, Government is failing.

In New Orleans, Government failed. First to protect, then to aid to that were "affected" by Hurricane Katrina.

Our Goverment fails at almost everything it does. Because our Government works for Capitalism. It does not work for the people, and that isn't going to change.

You asked if the root problem is the power dynamic. I don't think there is one "root" problem that is the one part of our society/government/country that we could just change.
The entire system feeds itself.
From classism, to War, to corporate interest, to racism, to globalization, and so on.

Band-Aids will not solve the problems we are facing.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ask An Anarchist, Part 2

(image courtesy Noah.cx)

[Editor's Note: Recently (dis)pencer, the subject of this "Ask An Anarchist" series, filled in as "guest columnist" for Smithers during a Smithers Family vacation over at SmithersMPLS. In his introductory post, (dis)pencer identified himself as an anarchist. And, just like that, you have the makings of our "Ask An Anarchist" series.

The "Ask An Anarchist" series is for entertainment only. It represents the thoughts and ideas of two amateur philosophers, so don't take it for anything more than that. If you should cite this for any academic research project, you'll get what you deserve.

Without further ado, enjoy.]

Click here for "Ask An Anarchist, Part 1"

Tuffy's Question #2:
In your answer to Question 1, you essentially stated that in an anarchist system a larger nation-state form of government is replaced by smaller, more community-organized support structures. This sounds, in essence, like "tribalism" similar to that practiced in some places in the world today and that which was more widely practiced around the world during the pre-European exploration/exploitation era. The question, then is this: Aren't anarchists trading one "ill" for another, meaning that you would be discarding the nation-state approach and all of its "ills" in favor of a local tribal approach and similar "ills" that come with it? Don't the same "ills" exist in both, but simply on different scales? [By "ills", I'm referring to corruption, nepotism, discrimination, violence, wars, et cetera.]

(dis)pencer's Answer #2:
The idea is to first change the mentality, and then remove the power structure. So we don't repeat past mistakes.

If the people in your community think that corruption, nepotism, discrimination, violence, wars, et cetera, are acceptable it obivously will not work.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not refering to a tribal sceniro where we should for little groups and go live in the wilderness. That is not feasible at this point in civilization. I see the cities of the world still existing and functioning under an anarchist ideal.

I don't think I will see my vision of the world in my lifetime, but i think it is important to start building the foundation now.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ask An Anarchist, Part 1

(image courtesy AlmostSmart.Com)

[Editor's Note: Recently (dis)pencer, the subject of this "Ask An Anarchist" series, filled in as "guest columnist" for Smithers during a Smithers Family vacation over at SmithersMPLS. In his introductory post, (dis)pencer identified himself as an anarchist. And, just like that, you have the makings of our "Ask An Anarchist" series.

The "Ask An Anarchist" series is for entertainment only. It represents the thoughts and ideas of two amateur philosophers, so don't take it for anything more than that. If you should cite this for any academic research project, you'll get what you deserve.

Without further ado, enjoy.]

Tuffy's Question #1:
One encyclopedia defines "anarchism" as: "The belief that all forms of rulership are undesirable and should be abolished...for many anarchists, this includes not only the state [governmental bodies], but other systems which they may consider authoritarian, such a economic systems."

Based on that definition, under an anarchist approach all current governmental laws/rulings/declarations would be null and void. Therefore, how would an anarchist argue that, in the absence of such societal controls like laws/rulings/declarations, society would avoid falling into an absolutely chaotic state, a la New Orleans post-Katrina?

(dis)pencer's Answer #1:
Well, first off that's only a partial definition. Mainstream information sources like to tell you all about the no government part, but they don't bother to explain the whole idea. I like to think that's because it makes too much sense, and they don't want the general public to think that how the world works is something they have a say in.

Anarchism as a platform is not chaos and looting. The word is used as a definition of chaos, but the best defination of Chaos is chaos.

Anarchism is, by an Anarchists defination is Mutual aid without Government, Direct Democracy, and believe it or not, Order.

Law is not order. An anarchist state obivously can't happen overnight, especially given the way the poor and down-trodden are pitted against one another. But in reality Anarchy is not that far from what most people might consider "the way things should be", they just have trouble grasping how it would work without a Governmental body.

Post-Katrina New Orleans was a perfect example of our Nation's Goverment and priorities, and exactly how f'ed up they are.

The US Government let the people of New Orleans down, 100%.

It could not fufil it's most basic principal of protecting it's citizens. It did not build a decent levee. It did not prepare for the Hurricane. It did not respond to the disaster.

It completely failed.

If this was Anarchy, there would be neighborhood bases established much earlier to coordinate relief. Direct action toward liberation.

Many people actually said it was the looters that first distributed food and water.

The media focused on the chaos and labels it "anarchy". They did not want the rest of the nation to see the breakdown and failure of the system. Media pitches images of black men with bags as "looters", while a lighter-skinned man is scavenging to "survive." They didn''t get pictures of the corrupt police, allowed into WalMart for "relief measures" instead loading their car trunk with DVDs and dog food.

There was definatly chaos, but the was also community, people working together to survive.

What did the Government do exactly? Most of the police abandoned their stations, Bush knew that levee would fail in at least 2001, and we are all aware of what a disaster FEMA was.

Interestingly, most the the chaos, was aimed at the government, even if it was a rescue helicopter. People when put in an extreme situation, knew that they did not trust or have faith in their Govenment. They turned instead to their family and friends. Their neighbors, and peers.

That is what the defination of Anarchism is. Faith in community and people, rather than faith in Government. It's not so much lawlessness, as self-government.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Oldest Rookie

[photo caption] The most unlikely Philadelphia Eagle of All-Time: Vince Papale. (photo courtesy Mark's Signing Bonus)

In 1976, then-Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil held a private workout session for a little-known wide receiver playing for a local second-rate professional team.

Soon after, 30 year-old Vince Papale, most recently employed as a bartender and substitute teacher, was invited to the NFL team's training camp as a special teams player.

Against incredible odds, Papale -- who had never played college football and played only one year of high school ball -- made the team in 1976.

And again in 1977 (the same year he caught his only NFL pass).

And again in 1978.

Eventually Coach Vermeil, through his trademark tears, released Papale in 1978. Not before Papale, however, had become the oldest (non-kicker) rookie in NFL history and a beacon of hope for weekend warriors everywhere.

This week, Papale's name is once again being publicized, albeit thirty years after his incredible story began. Papale's story has become a Hollywood film, "Invincible," starring Mark Wahlberg as Papale himself. The film will be released nationwide on Friday, August 25.

The Fog of Work has been privately following the production of this film for some time and with some curiosity. Papale's story had come to my attention a while back and, when I had heard that a film was going to be made about his experience, my interest was heightened.

Then, however, I found out that the same people who had produced "The Rookie" were producing this film, as well. "The Rookie" -- with a very similar story arch to "Invincible" -- was garbage. Therefore, I'm not holding out much hope for Papale's story on the big screen.

But no matter how bad the big screen version of his story is, Papale will always have the advantage of having lived it.