Consumer News

Kent, of his bike blog fame, got some free Accelerade to review. He was underwhelmed:

In theory you could make a carb+protein drink by taking something like a trout and running it through a blender with some orange juice. This would probably taste better than Accelerade.

I did try to come up with a scenario where I’d voluntarily choose to drink Accelerade and I think I’ve come up with it. I imagine a super hot day. I’ve just ridden the Issaquah Alps 100K loop four times without taking a drink. I stagger home, open the fridge and see two bottles. One contains Accelerade and one contains goat urine. In that instance, I would slam down the Accelerade.

I’d save the goat urine to wash the taste of Accelerade out of my mouth.

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Politics of the Personal

How about this – a knock against politicians, and it’s not about Republicans! Well actually it’s going to be about a Republican, but the point applies to virtually any politician.

When asked why voters should trust him when his own children won’t support him (a silly question, unless you believe that children should be raised as automatons, but there you go), Rudy Guiliani said that people should ‘leave my family alone’. Here’s what John Aravosis of AmericaBlog says in reply:

Let me get this straight. Rudy Giuliani can pontificate about MY family. He can retract his support for gay civil unions because of his judgment of the worth of my family. But when we look at Giuliani’s family, in order to discern his family values, that’s off limits.

Then there’s Mitt Romney. He’s running as the religious right candidate. He wants America to live under religious law. But don’t ask Mitt about his own religion, Mormonism – the religion he’s going to use as a basis for all those religious laws he’s promising to pass. Oh no.

The extremists running the Republican party have two sets of values. The ones they live under, and the ones they expect YOU to live under. They spend like drunken sailors, but they expect you to tighten your belt. They send our troops off to wars based on a lie, without the proper equipment, and you hate the troops. They have more divorces and marriages and affairs than Zsa Zsa Gabor, but you’re the threat to family values. And September 11 happens under their watch, but you’re the one who’s weak on terror.

This is, bizarrely, what we expect of politicians, regardless of party. The few who actually live according to the principles they espouse are mocked as lacking realism, of being idealists (the horror!), of being crackpots. Paul Wellstone and Denis Kucinich are a couple who spring to mind; not saints, but men honestly trying to do what they believe to be right. I’ve no doubt they have their equivalents on the right, though names escape me.

This doesn’t make them right in their beliefs, and it certainly doesn’t imply effectiveness. It just means that they recognize that the decisions governments make might be abstractions when they’re made, but they are realities to the people affected. A current example of the disconnect is the economy; Republicans (but if tables were turned it could as easily be Democrats) pointing out that the economy is growing, so people should be more cheerful. This forgets (or ignores) that the economy is an abstraction, whereas a pay slip is a concrete. A growing economy is nice, but a growing pay packet is what’s real.

So Rudy is right that people should leave his family alone. It’s just a shame that he, and so many of his colleagues, won’t pay us the same courtesy.

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Top Tip: If you drop a small, pellet-like piece of chocolate near a cage full of gerbils who like to flick their pellets of poo out of the cage, take a breath and let the chocolate go.

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Betray Us have launched an ad against General Petraeus, accusing him of tailoring his accounts of the wars progress to suit political requirements, not reality. As far as I can tell every accusation in the ad is firmly grounded (I hesitate to use the word ‘true’ because for many things in Iraq we simply don’t know the truth), and as you follow along it’s hard to think of another reason why Petraeus is getting these things wrong.

I raise this because you won’t hear about any of this, not in the depth it deserves at least. That’s not because the argument is poor, or the issue unimportant, but because MoveOn blew it by bookending the ad with the play on words “Petraeus/Betray Us”.

There is an argument to be made that the pun is accurate – a general’s first duty is to his country, not his president, and it’s not clear that Petraeus has understood that. But including this accusation of, effectively, treason, MoveOn made sure that that is what the argument will be about, the accusation, not the substance. Democrats are spectacularly good at this – identifying a key issue, then plucking at the one thread that gives away maximum advantage in the ensuing discussion. When a soldier stands up and says that sectarian violence is down, but doesn’t highlight that the calculation excludes violence between people of the same religion, and the death of people shot in the back of the head (it only counts if you’re shot in the front of the head*), you call him a liar, and let him explain that he’s not lying, just dissembling. Soldiers can be called liars because lying isn’t a slur on their service. Treason is.

*Or is it the other way round? Does it really matter?

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Poor Sickly Me

I went to the doctor with a dodgy knee last week, and along with a referral to a special knee doctor he advised that I switch to swimming instead of rowing and cycling. Makes sense, of course, but I hate swimming; it’s boring, I find it almost impossible to remember how many laps I’ve done, I don’t like getting wet, and despite being a solo sport it still involves other people. Nonetheless I signed up at the local pool and have been swimming most days since (and yes, it’s every bit as loathsome as I remember).

Why am I whining on about this? Well I just wanted to caution you about medical advice. Since starting my shoulder has hurt almost constantly, and am seriously considering a return to the doctor. On the upside I’ll be able to fulfill a lifelong ambition by holding my arm in the air and saying “Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this”.