Sunday, October 04, 2009

Kayaking, Seals, Races, Michael Moore

This weekend I did a run involving bushwhacking and barbed-wire in Tilden, went swimming (after realizing I suck at swimming during a dip in Donner Lake this summer, I thought I better get in shape for my upcoming trip to Indonesia), and went sea kayaking. I rented from the UC Aquatic center and went from Berkeley marina to Emeryville marina and back. I got chased by a harbor seal for a good chunk of it. You might think that would be cute and fun, but they have solid black eyes, and I could think of nothing but Arrested Development season 2 episode 12. There's still an old Perception Sea Lion Eclipse kayak for sale; I'm thinking I might buy it next weekend, but I'll have to see how much the paddle, wetsuit, skirt, paddle float, and bilge pump would cost first. (Renting is pretty cheap, but you're not allowed to leave binocular sight, so that puts a damper on things.)

I watched some of the Cal game from Tightwad Hill. Horrible. I got free tickets to the 49ers game. Great.

Next week I begin three consecutive weekends of racing: Dick Collins Firetrails 50-miler on the 10th, Diablo 50K on the 18th, and San Francisco One Day on the 24-25th. I'd like to break 9:52 in the 50-miler and go over 100 miles in the 24-hour, but I haven't been training much at all.

Lastly, I saw Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. I liked it; it gets a B+ from me. (SPOILER WARNING for the rest of this entry.) There were some absolutely hilarious moments including a great bit about the ERA using a part of this clip from a Ronald Reagan movie, and this Cleveland tourism video:

I had issues with two ideas in the film. First, "Dead Peasants Insurance" in which firms take out life insurance policies on their employees and profit when they die. It's presented as if the very idea is offensive, but as an economist, I'm used to the idea of monetizing human life (or anything else). When you talk about a specific case, it's always emotional and disturbing, but in general, it doesn't seem that crazy that an employer would take out insurance on an employee's life. Crazy if they profit from it and have incentive for them to die early, but they probably take out fire insurance on buildings they own, and employee training costs money...but yes it's weird if they want people to die. Second, the idea that the economy was not on the brink of a historic collapse and the TARP bailout got rammed through thanks to bank lobbyists. I believe that we were on the verge of disaster and that the problem was not the bailout itself, but the fact that there weren't enough strings attached. The same people are still running the same too-big-to-fail banks with no more regulation than before, and they can probably expect another bailout after the next (credit card?) bubble bursts.

As far as film-making goes, I generally find that I agree with much of Moore's stuff, but find his over-the-top accosting Dick Clark or bull-horn yelling at Gitmo kind of annoying and detrimental to an otherwise somewhat sound argument. This time, Moore stuck to his old habit of getting turned out of corporate headquarters, and his shtick is so tired that even he knows it, and it's back to being funny again. My favorite moment of the film was Moore describing FDR's proposed Second Bill of Rights (you know, the right to a good job, a home, education--that sort of thing). He says that the US has none of those guarantees, yet the countries we were at war with when FDR proposed them, and the countries we beat in that war, now have them. After which he says "I refuse to live in a country like this anymore. And I'm not leaving."



  1. G- good luck in the races. Please give details on your Tilden run. Did I ever take you on my Tilden course?

  2. Unfortunately it was not anything inventive: I went from four-corners to skull rock via the single-track, down the road 100 feet to the dropoff at the bend there that takes you back to the fire trail via lots of broken glass, then down the ridge you showed me with 2 sets of wire before coming out at the botanical garden.

    I always feel like a little less of a man after choosing to go under a barb-wire fence rather than over, but alas, that's what I did.

    I don't think we ever got to do your full Tilden course.