Thought of the day

I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but I shouldn’t be able to easily outrun the majority of my local police department officers. In fact, that goes for members of all police departments. Unfortunately, the fact is that most of the police departments I see around Maine have members who would have no chance outrunning a reasonably fit 20-something male. There ought to be a target point on a BMI chart that, should an officer meet it, results in some sort of monetary reward. Ideally, perhaps we might want to punish officers for not meeting some reasonable standard, but it is effectiveness, not ideology, which matters here.

Hitchens-Blair debate

There is a YouTube channel devoted specifically to the recent debate between Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair. I’ve yet to watch it, but I find both men to be quite intelligent. (Update: I have watched it.) Hitchens’ intelligence is crashingly obvious; I’ve never seen him lose a debate point. And I absolutely love how he will routinely bend over backwards to grant as much as possible to his opponent just so he can point out that he still has the point won. Anyone who saw that awful creationist movie with Ben Stein should be familiar with this tactic: In the Richard Dawkins interview, Dawkins granted that it’s possible that we could have been designed by aliens, but even if that were so, we would still need to appeal to evolution in order to explain their existence. Stein, unsurprisingly, takes the dishonest route of claiming that Richard Dawkins is only against intelligent design when it involves a god. This was rather expected since the creators of the movie lied to every biologist involved, not to mention the fundamental dishonesty behind creationism intelligent design. But I digress. Blair’s intelligence is clear enough, but I think perhaps some of my perception of it comes from the contrast of it with Dubya’s lack of smarts.

Anyway. Watch the debate. (Skip the first video if you just want to get to the meat of the debate.)

I refuse to believe it

I just came across an article about Mount Kilimanjaro. It says something I find difficult to believe.

There’s no clear number of how many people attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year, although it’s at least 20,000. Steinhilber said probably less than half that number make it to the true summit.

When they reach Stella Point — about 800 to 1,000 feet below the actual peak, Uhuru Peak — many figure “good enough,” she said.

Upon reaching Stella Point, I actually thought I was practically there. But then I saw how far the trail continued. It was no longer so steep – it’s a very significant incline to that point – but it was still another 1-2 hours from the summit. And perhaps that was the most excruciating part. It felt like I should be seeing that idyllically simple African sign indicating the summit of the mountain at any moment, but it seemed like it was perpetually ‘just around the next corner’.

But could I have ever just stopped? Could I ever have just called it good because the rest of the way was mentally frustrating?


Summit day is roughly 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Stella Point is a mere 700 or so feet lower than the summit – and that’s over the course of a good distance. It constitutes an insignificant portion of the entire hike, even if it is in some ways the most difficult. Unless the person is physically struggling with the elevation (I was told after the fact that someone in another group died near Stella Point on the same day I was there), I find it impossible to believe anyone could just say ‘good enough’.

(Please excuse Buga for the crooked horizon.)

Update: I am reminded by a member of my hiking group that the peak is actually visible from Stella Point.