April 2008 Archives

Wed Apr 9 03:44:07 CDT 2008

Yosemite Trip

My parents and i traveled out to Yosemite this past weekend for my sister's wedding. It was a wonderful wedding, and the location was an appropriate setting for such a handsome and beautiful couple. Saturday afternoon i went for a short hike/run around Mirror Lake before the wedding. (I usually don't like running (it just seems so futile compared to bicycling), but something about being in the mountains makes me want to run.)

Sunday, was going to get up early and do the Half Dome Hike, even though the summit cables were down for the Winter, which meant i probably wouldn't be able to go all the way up. (I optimistically packed Sorrel snow boots and a pair of walking sticks, just in case.) But at 06:30, i was still tired from Saturday's celebrating and running, and i decided to sleep in. So i got up at 10am, feeling mostly human, and ate a large breakfast at the Ahwahnee Hotel where we were staying. Then i walked to the closest bus stop to catch a ride to Happy Isles, near the beginning of the Half Dome trail. My legs were still hurting from running the day before.

I was carrying quite a lot of gear for a day hike:

  • a head lamp
  • self-charging flash light (hand crank)
  • enough Clif bars (and variants) to keep me alive for a week
  • GPS
  • map
  • rain pants
  • pull-over fleece shirt
  • rain jacket
  • first aid kit
  • Water purifier
  • liter water bottle
  • two aluminum walking sticks
  • hat
  • two pairs of heavy gloves
  • digital camera
  • about 12 spare AA batteries

I was also wearing long underwear, shorts, a t-shirt, and trail-running shoes. Alone, what i was wearing was more than warm enough for all but about 30 minutes of the hike. And it turns out the snow boots were overkill, too. (I figured worst case, if i got totally lost, i'd be OK if i put on all my clothes and spent the night under a tree.)

It still being morning, i was a little groggy, and i made a wrong turn at the start, and didn't figure it out for about 2 km, until i came to a bridge where there should not have been a bridge. Which sucked, because i was already going to run out of daylight on the roughly 12-hour Half Dome hike. I turned around, and decided to just go as far as i could.

So i turned around, and went back, and "restarted" about 12:30. It's a beautiful but steep hike on a paved path along the Merced River. Mostly, i think i was on the Mist Trail, and a bit of the John Muir, until getting on the Half Dome trail at the top.

After the hike, i uploaded my GPS data into Googleearth (Plus, $20/year), and took a couple of screen shots of the path. (It's the light-blue line): One and Two

I turned back at 16:15 where it says "Turnaround." On the way up, i put on my snowboots where it says "Snowboots" and took them off and left them where it says "bootcache." (I was getting really tired of carrying the extra weight. I picked them up on the way down.) According to Google Earth, the entire trek (including the mistake at the beginning) was 17.1 miles. (No wonder my legs are still sore two days later.) I did also head back up the mist trail a short bit, because i was a little worried about a couple i passed on the way down, about 30 minutes before the GPS said the Sun was going to set. (The Mist Trail has a particularly dangerous section of slippery, steep cut-granite steps, and the couple didn't seem to have any lights or other gear.) By the time the three of us made it back to Happy Isles about 19:30, i was feeling pretty good (probably from walking on flat earth at a lower altitude), so i just walked all the way back to the Ahwahnee Hotel. I got back about 20:00 (8pm).

Here are the pictures i took in the Valley and along the trail. (Some are from Satruday and Monday.)

It was a wonderful hike. I can't wait to do it again and get to the top of Half Dome, and see the views!

Posted by johan | Permanent link | File under: Traveling

Tue Apr 1 23:33:09 CDT 2008

Why the Democrats are Losers

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson pissed a lot of Hillary (or rather "Clinton") supporters off when he came out in support of Obama. In this NYTimes article James Carville called this a "betrayal" and likened Richardson to Judas. Yes, that Judas.

Here'sRichardson's response.

And here's Carville's response to Richardson's response. In it, Carville says:

I believe that loyalty is a cardinal virtue. Nowhere in the world is loyalty so little revered and tittle-tattle so greatly venerated as in Washington. I was a little-known political consultant until Bill Clinton made me. When he came upon hard times, I felt it my duty -- whatever my personal misgivings -- to stick by him. At the very least, I would have stayed silent. And maybe that's my problem with what Bill Richardson did. Silence on his part would have spoken loudly enough.

What Carville is essentially saying here is that Richardson -- and by implication other functionares of the Democratic party -- should not support the person they think is the best candidate, but rather, they should support the candidate they "owe." In a system like this, any group will eventually put forward not the best leaders, but the most corrupt. They will become dominated by the individuals who are best able to control their party -- and then their country -- with the carrot and the stick. Think LBJ or Nixon. It may work once or twice, but it cannot last, especially when people try to maintain that power within a family, like the Kennedys, Bushes, or Clintons. And when it's working, is this really how you want to be governed? Obey and get your carrot. Disobey and get a beating. That's not a democracy, that's an authoritarian, totalitarian government where everyone's behavior and beliefs are dictated to them. Where any dissension (disloyalty) is punished, crushed, and exterminated. In otherwords, exactly what we were getting rid of by declaring our independence from King George in 1776.

If Hillary is the better candidate, she should be capable of winning the nomination without any support at all from her husband and his minions. We're not even into the real election yet. If Hillary can't even handle a relatively-mild newcomer from her own party, how's she going to do against an opponent who's really out to destroy her and her party?

In this context, it comes as little surprise that only two Democrats have held the Presidency in the last 40 years. (And despite the respect and admiration i have for Jimmy Carter, he obviously had a bit of an easy time running against Ford in 1976 after Nixon was forced to resign in 1974.)

A healthy poltical party would be able to select the best candidate without threatening to rip itself apart, and it would not be supporting family members of former leaders. The ignorant Clinton supporters like Carville have already helped McCain so much that at this rate, McCain will hardly even need to campaign after the nominations are complete. (Carville would do better to focus on dealing with the existing, extremely effective political apparatus that Rove built, and that won the last two elections for W.) Has Carville somehow forgotten that the Democrats are at this very moment already competing against McCain for the popular vote that's only 6 months away? The Republicans should stand no chance at all of winning this coming Presidential election, but the Democrats are giving it to them.

This mindless, attack-dog enforcement of obedience ("personal loyalty") may work for a short time while one has most of the power, like LBJ did in 1964. But it doesn't work when you don't have that power, or when you have no carrot. The Clintons and their minions like Carville seem unaware that they are appealing for popular support by saying, "The public beatings of the Democratic Party will continue until they all agree with us." Why would anyone want to support them?

Now would probably be a good time to start thinking about what we will replace the Democratic party with, because if it doesn't win what should have been a cake walk this November, we will need to replace it with one that is viable. The U.S. desperately needs a well-organized, functional, progressive political party through which we can continue to resist the socially and religiously conservative war mongers who are running this country into the ground. And the Democratic party is not it.

Posted by johan | Permanent link | File under: politics