Political Post

01.29.2008 | 7:12 am

winI know my place in the world. It’s my job to tell you stuff you already know about riding bikes, but with different words, and the occasional well-placed fart joke.

Which is to say, I don’t talk about religion. And I don’t talk about politics.

Except today I’m going to talk about politics.

Single-Issue Voter
I don’t think, though, that your politics and my politics are going to be incompatible, because I am not interested in telling you who to vote for.

Instead, I’d like you to tell the person who you’re voting for what you’re interested in.

Which is to say: No matter which candidate you’ve settled on — or whichever candidate you eventually settle on — let them know what matters to you.

And one of the things that should matter to you, no matter how healthy or young you are, is cancer.

Because cancer will affect you sometime in your life. That’s just the way it is. It’s going to hit you or a family member or a friend. There’s that much of it around. And when it gets you or someone you care about, it’s going to change your life.

I know there are a lot of issues that matter. And a lot of diseases that deserve attention. And I probably wouldn’t be this obsessive about cancer if I weren’t thinking — constantly — about what my wife’s going through.

But — for the first time ever — I’m going to get politically involved. I’m going to send letters to both candidates, whoever they turn out to be. And to Bloomberg, too, if he winds up running (which I kind of hope he does, because he’s allied himself with Lance Armstrong in this battle). And I’d like you to, too.

I’m going to tell them that fighting cancer — both in researching ways to cure it and helping those who have it — has got to be a national priority. That no matter what else concerns you, at some point cancer is going to become a more important and personal issue to each one of us.

If you’re always politically active, please add cancer to the list of things you tell your candidate is important. And if you’ve never been politically active, this is an good place to start.

Help MikeRoadie Raise $50,000 to Fight Cancer
In the spirit of getting things done, I’ve added a link in the right column of my blog, where you can help MikeRoadie — a frequent commenter in this blog — in his quest to raise $50,000 this year for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. That’s a lot, but last year he raised $20,000. I think $50,000 is not out of reach.

MikeRoadie’s got good reason to want to fight cancer this way, and I admire him for it. And as someone who’s directly benefited from the good that the Lance Armstrong Foundation does, I’m very pleased to help Mike on this quest. I hope you will, too.

How Susan’s Doing
A lot of you frequently ask how my wife is doing, and this seems like a good day to give you a quick update. She’s getting around much better now. Sometimes she walks around the house using just one crutch instead of two. She’s going to physical therapy twice a week to help her range of motion, and while it hurts, it’s a good kind of hurt.

Actually, she’s never said it’s a good kind of hurt. I made that part up.

Susan also looks great right now. When my sister visited last weekend, she pointed out that Susan looks terrific — healthy and energetic. It’s true, too — since I’m so close I didn’t really notice the transition.

Susan’s hair has also started growing back, though we’re trying not to get attached to it, since chemo starts again in less than a couple months. To tell the truth, I am used to Susan without hair and think she looks hot that way.

The New Jersey
Last year, I replaced the "201" — the weight (plus one pound) at which you become a clydesdale in bicycle races — with "WIN" on the special edition "Fighting for Susan" pink jerseys. As you can probably tell, that cursive "Win" script you see at the top of this post will be on the 2008 Fat Cyclist jerseys, which I’ll be unveiling in a couple days.

I really believe that we can win the fight against cancer. I believe we can do it in our lifetime. But I know we have to do a lot more if we’re going to make that happen.

Thanks, I’ll climb off the soapbox now. More fart jokes (or something like fart jokes) tomorrow.


  1. Comment by cheapie | 01.29.2008 | 7:23 am

    i see you put a banner on the side for mike. very nice. and you’re killing me with the jersey teasing!

  2. Comment by Stephen Waits | 01.29.2008 | 7:54 am

    Please don’t forget that it’s Congress who controls the purse strings. Yes, for the last few decades the executive has been gaining power, especially in the last 7 years, but I still urge you to not limit your political contact to “the two” presidential candidates. Personal letters to your Senators and Congressperson will do more than to a presidential candidate. BTW, there are more than two presidential candidates!

  3. Comment by Don (cyclingphun.blogspot.com) | 01.29.2008 | 8:11 am

    Susan: sounds like things are looking up. That’s good to hear! Continued Prayers and best wishes to you going forward.
    Fatty: first off thank you for all that you do in bringing attention to this. It is a hugely important issue in the country (and world) right now and it is crazy out of control.
    Also as someone who is pretty politically involved, and I like to think savvy, please let me point out that it’s always a good idea to “bug the crap out of the candidate not just send one letter and be done with it.

  4. Comment by Little1 | 01.29.2008 | 8:13 am

    glad susan’s on the up swing!

  5. Comment by Dr Codfish | 01.29.2008 | 8:22 am

    Fatty, (and Legions of Fatty):

    I could not agree more. I generally think of politics as somthing akin to wading in to a pool of congealing grease trap drainings from the local fast food outlet. I also think of cancer as personal (you all should too if you don’t already). The political arena is one place where real progress can be made in addressing this public health issue. But pressure from voters MUST be applied. The electheads will do something and this is the chance for all of us to actually have an effect on what they do.

    A friend was stricken with pancreatic cancer. A few years ago it would have been terminal. Thanks to advances in medical technology he had an operation (almost 8 hours under the knife!) and survived. Thanks to help from the LAF and other local resources, within 8 months he was back on the bike, and in less than a year he was back to racing: Loosing badly, but soooo happy to be able to ride, never mind racing or loosing.

    There are lots of ways for all of us to have an effect, including supporting mikeroadie. There is really only one way to have no effect. Write your elected officials, support the LAF, or support mikeroadie, but don’t just sit there thinking about it.

    Yr Pal Dr Codfish

  6. Comment by Morgan | 01.29.2008 | 9:01 am

    Fatty- Pull my finger!

  7. Comment by uncadan8 | 01.29.2008 | 9:30 am

    Awesome idea, fatty! And I will be in contact with my Congressmen and Senators. I also will be riding in Livestrong Philadelphia 2008. And bugging the crap out of everyone I know to support me for that ride – especially since everyone I know knows someone who has cancer or has had cancer.

  8. Comment by Gillian | 01.29.2008 | 10:07 am

    A close friend just started growing back her hair after chemo – and it looked so hot, all spiky and short, that she kept it that way!! May Susan find similar hair epiphanies in her very near post chemo future (fingers crossed it’s very near).

    Relay for Life is a great way to raise money and awareness for cancer. It is also a very “feel good” event, with lots of teambuilding (aka the boss approves paid time off for those of us on the corporate team who are involved, because what we are doing can also be called “team training.” We even count the hours towards our training hours for the year!) Of course, there is no substitute for pestering the heck out of your representatives!

  9. Comment by Terry | 01.29.2008 | 10:23 am

    My experience is, that your support for your spouse is more important than treatment. However, once she is well again, the treatment will get all the credit. Go figure.
    Your a good man.

  10. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 01.29.2008 | 10:46 am

    The bad news (just a couple examples):

    If Americans live to an average age, they have a 50% chance of getting cancer.

    If men live long enough, they WILL get prostate cancer. One fascinating study looked at the prostates of old dead guys and 100% of them (aged 70 and older) had abnormal cells that were demonstrated to have many molecular and genetic cancer markers.

    The good news (significant improvements have been made):

    By intensive use of clinical studies using existing chemotherapuetic agents, between the 1960’s and the 1990’s doctors were able to increase the 5-year survival rate for all types of childhood leukemia from 20% to 80%.

    The newest set of cancer treatment drugs and protocols are more specific, more effective, and have fewer side effects. The future of cancer therapeutics is using a specifically engineered drug to treat a specific genetic sub-type or molecular sub-type of a given cancer.

    Some types of cancer, such as colon and prostate, are essentially about 99% avoidable using the screening/treatment techniques of sigmoidoscopy, PSA blood test, and prostate biopsy.

  11. Comment by will | 01.29.2008 | 10:51 am

    I know that Susan’s struggle is harder than many of us can imagine.

    But we are all thrilled to hear positive news ….. and remember bald is VERY beautiful – although my wife curses my head glare.

    Best wishes.

  12. Comment by WinWin | 01.29.2008 | 10:55 am

    Hey Fatty, it looks like because you included the word POLITICAL in your blog you got the Ann Coulter ad up at the top banner. I went ahead and clicked it because I don’t like her. That way you got paid and she used some of her advertising on someone who doesn’t like her. It’s Win-Win, except for Ann, and I don’t mind her losing.

  13. Comment by KanyonKris | 01.29.2008 | 11:30 am

    OK Fat Cyclist readers, it’s time for a strike! No more comments until Fatty reveals the new jersey!


  14. Comment by susi | 01.29.2008 | 12:23 pm

    yes, I know all about it……….. have a sister with a brian tumor , lung tumor and yet still not giving up..
    Enjoy your website.. all the way from Geneva

  15. Comment by cloud19th | 01.29.2008 | 12:45 pm

    The script you’re showing for the jersey, and the color scheme, makes me think that this jersey would look like an Orioles jersey. Which is cool!
    I think the pink one’ll be my favorite though, being a fan of clean lines and happy thoughts.

    p.s. I wore the pink jersey to an in-service at the gym I work for, mostly staffed by undergraduates, and got compliments on it. I think most people that age wouldn’t be comfortable teaching in a gym wearing something that says “Fat Cyclist” so I really like hearing that fellow instructors (esp. the younger ‘uns and the non-bikers) and my spin. class participants appreciate it! It’s a great design and a great reason FOR the design.

  16. Comment by Ant | 01.29.2008 | 1:06 pm

    Hey Fatty. Good news – the political system works. We had a federal election in Australia late last year, and the incumbent got rolled – pretty much for not listening to the people and acting in their interests. I’m not a political animal but it was gratifying to see the system work.

    Also check out http://www.tmb.org.au/Sea%20to%20Summit%20Challenge%202007%20-%20MEDIA%20RELEASE.pdf to see what a couple of our local elite riders are doing to fundraise. Make no mistake – this will be an epic undertaking!

  17. Comment by mark | 01.29.2008 | 1:10 pm

    I just clicked on your “fart” link, looked at the date, and realized that I have been reading this blog almost daily for a very long time.

  18. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.29.2008 | 1:29 pm

    Can I be a dick for a minute here? Okay, thanks, I will.

    Stephen Waits, commenting above, hits the nail on the head, for the most part. Funding for the pure sciences, including biomedical sciences, has suffered badly “under this Administration.” You can blame the President and his budget office – OMB – for not submitting sufficient requests to Congress to fund this kind of research. You can blame Congress for going along oh-so-happily with actual cuts, and with ‘programmed budget’ cuts – that is reductions in the level of increases that certain types of research programs require from year-to-year. I know people who do grants administration for the .gov, and the sciences and medical grants aren’t funding anything near the amount of reasearch that should be funded – not to mention the pure science research that underpins military advances/national security, and business dominance.

    A second problem that you can also pin on the Administration and Congress, is restrictive visa policies that let in hundreds of thousands of poorly paid tech workers to fill up the “H1 Visa ghetto”. Did you ever wonder why a guy answering a service desk call has an Indian accent, and when you asked him where he was, he said Indiana? It’s because it’s cheap and easy for businesses that want to outsource code writing to do it to H1 workers, rather than paying U.S. citizens and permanent residents (expensive) or outsourcing everything to India or Indonesia or Taiwan (cheaper but difficult). Meanwhile, it’s tough for people with doctorates to come to the U.S., and tougher than ever for people who want to come here to study to get doctorates to come here – and these people used to frequently immigrate in the past. This is also putting a hurtin’ on the pure sciences. (Yet we’re ready to welcome 15 million low income, low education workers, most of whom will be a net tax burden, and make them citizens at the stroke of a pen… ponder that for a minute.)

    The bottom line is that pure sciences funding is at the lowest level it has been at in several decades, and it appears that nobody in Official D.C. gives a crap about it, despite the effect this will have on medical (and other technoligical) fields in the long term; despite the problems it will cause in our economy and national defense. Further, we aren’t making efforts to harvest the best and brightest people from other nations, to encourage them to come here to do their work, as we used to do. Both developments are potentially disastrous, and if *you* don’t make it a priority to write your member of congress, the White House, and advocacy groups pushing for this sort of funding, it ain’t going to happen. If people don’t speak up, money is going to get siphoned off from these unglamorous exercises, and put into popular social benefits programs. My widowed mother, for instance, is a great example. She falls somewhere in the middle to upper-middle class social stratum. She doesn’t need a lot of federal subsidizing. Yet she is getting federal drug benefits and has reduced her private insurance coverage accordingly. When I put it to her what she would prefer in the way of federal priorities, strong defense, stronger sciences, or drug benefits, she said drug benefits are what really matters. Keep in mind that’s a half-trillion over 5 years answer she gave me. She will vote in the next election based on whichever party and politicians promise her the biggest handouts. Her answer matters because it isn’t illogical, in many respects. The problem with her approach, voting for whoever promises the biggest giveaways, is that the way our economy is structured, taxes can go no higher than 20-21% of gross domestic product without having a seriously negative effect on gross receipts – that is, the tax rate can be increased but past about 21% it will have decreasing returns. Otherwise, you will be eating economic seed corn and hurting the economic engine that makes all the programs possible. So it’s not like taxes can go too much higher. You need to choose what matters most, and I realize this is a competition between your short term interests, and your own, and others’ long term interests. Then if you have an opinion, you need to encourage your elected officials to choose, the things that matter most. You have to choose; entitlement spending has gotten to the point where it’s clear, we can’t have it all.

    The current bi-partisan economic “stimulus” package, a tax refund of $1000 – $1500 per taxpayer, is a great example of short term interests triumphing over long term national interests. It will be a popular giveaway; it will be funded from public debt (bonds, treasury notes, etc) rather than a current tax increase; it won’t do much of anything in the long term, except increase the percentage of the federal budget that goes to servicing debt; and the ultimate effect will be a temporary and probably ultimately irrelevant blip in the trajectory of the business cycle.

    Hey, it’s great to want benefits and research and everything else, but somebody has to pay for it. I’m to the right of Atilla the Hun, but still believe in funding programs that benefit the entire nation, as well as a modest social safety net. The problem is most of the government giveaways that are on the table are too vast in scope to permit us to have limited servings of “it all,” and everybody seems to be in a competititon to promise us more goodies. Middle and upper-middle class tax rebates as “stimulus,” increased pharmaceutical benefits benefitting the vast middle and upper middle class, beefing up Social Security so it functions as a pension plan for everybody – these are just goodie bags. These aren’t a social safety net; they’re just handouts that we are basically voting ourselves out of the public fisc.

    The bottom line is that at anything near current levels of spending, you have to make a choice – you get a bowlful. It can be any ratio of oatmeal to candy. I’d prefer mostly oatmeal, long term, but it’s damned hard for people to pass up candy. Candy, I’m afraid, is kicking oatmeal’s ass.

    Last time I checked, there were two major political parties, and last time I checked, they were both shoveling out money at a rate faster than they could grab it out of our pockets. If long term oatmeal like cancer research and pure sciences research matters to you, then you need to think about what matters to you, write some elected leaders, and maybe think about channeling some of that silly rebate to those eeee-vil lobbying groups that advocate on behalf of sciences and medical research funding. The other half is being cool with the realization that if you ask for lots of oatmeal, you ain’t gettin’ a big bag of candy later on.

  19. Comment by will | 01.29.2008 | 1:31 pm


    you were a dick for far more than a minute

  20. Comment by In Oz during the Bush years | 01.29.2008 | 1:52 pm

    Well said Will! Haha

  21. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.29.2008 | 2:05 pm

    But what if I would rather vote for Al than for any of the major candidates?

    BTW, I am also riding again in a LIVESTRONG event to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I will be riding in the Portland, OR event again. (click on my link, above) MikeRoadie & I were foiled in our plans to ride together, because the organizers rescheduled the Portland event into a conflict for him.

    Mike – best of luck raising the $50K !!


  22. Comment by bikemike | 01.29.2008 | 2:29 pm

    politics and religon, peanut butter and chocolate.
    it’s all good.

    cancer and cancer research MUST cross all boundaries.
    people like Susan and Elden are just the ones to bring it to the forefront. people who can get a point across with intelligence and articulation without starting a fight (although i guess that’s what we’re doing) are who we need in washington.

    really glad you’re (according to Elden) feeling better. i think there’s another book in you somewhere.
    God Bless.

  23. Comment by Laura | 01.29.2008 | 2:39 pm

    I’m somewhat to the left of Al, but I agree with a lot of what he’s saying AND would like to point out that we also need to look into the ‘whys’. Why is the cancer incidence rate going up? It’s not just that we’re living longer and not dying of TB or smallpox. I suspect it has something to do with all the crap we’ve been putting in air, water and food for years.

    In my case, I am a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor who was treated as a teenager with radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation that saved my life has also caused breast cancer years later – and I just found a recurrence, which isn’t good news.

    I’m also raising funds for cancer research – I am continuing to train for the Rome marathon with Team in Training, while we pursue chemotherapy options. (I bike – road and MTB – and run, but since I can’t really swim, I do not consider myself a triathlete.)


  24. Comment by Jackie W. | 01.29.2008 | 3:08 pm

    For the record, if there is one, I like Ann Coulter.

    I personally know Todd Tiahrt Rep. from Kansas. How ? Worked for his campaign for 12 years. Put up his signs, wrote letters to the editor, voted, visited him when in DC, rode on a bus to see W in Topeka with him & his wife, write him letters on topics & votes I want him to consider.

    Donate hair here :


  25. Comment by Miguel | 01.29.2008 | 3:14 pm

    Go! Fight! WIN!!!!! You can do it Fatty!

    To each his (or her) own candidate, but to all the fight against cancer is real and painful. I agree that health, especially the issue of cancer, is one of the most pressing issues and will continue to be so. Something needs to change, something needs to happen. Why are we waiting? What are we waiting for?

    Go Susan, you rock!

  26. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 01.29.2008 | 3:16 pm

    Shiny heads unite!

  27. Comment by Andrew MacRae | 01.29.2008 | 5:33 pm

    Absolutely, Mike Bloomberg is the only (potential) candidate who is intelligent enough to join with Lance Armstrong to fight the ill of cancer. That is why we are trying to Draft him at UniteForMike.com

  28. Comment by Fan of Susan | 01.29.2008 | 5:45 pm

    So glad to hear things are looking up for Susan right now and glad that you’ve raised cancer as a political issue for us all to consider. Glad also for Al’s comments re. funding for the sciences. I don’t know to what extent Botched Experiment sees this in his work life but in my neck of the research world the funding cuts are having a very negative impact on research, not to mention scaring the next generation of potential scientists into pursuing other career options. It’s hard to develop good treatments and lifestyle interventions for cancer or any other disease without the money to study it.

    On a lighter note, the slow teasing reveal of the new jersey reminds me – Fatty, are you ever going to tell us who your mysterious phone call was with?

  29. Comment by Joe G | 01.29.2008 | 5:50 pm

    Fatty And Susan,
    Thank you. Truer words on a tough topic. My mother in law is in chemo as I type this, and yeah, life is totally different now.

    Thanks for being a bastion of support, motivation, and encouragement!

    Any word on Susan’s book?

    And I’m still down for a jersey!!!

  30. Comment by Rebecca | 01.29.2008 | 6:13 pm

    I’m probably in the same hair situation as Susan. Stubble, with patches of baldness. Gotta love the chemo hair!

    Good luck to Mike with his fundraising efforts. I’m riding in Philly (I told my plastic surgeon no scar revisions until after I ride!) but do not have such lofty fundraising goals.

    My goal is more personal accomplishment. I just want to finish the 40 mile circle. Considering I’ll be doing chemo (lightweight drugs, but still) for another year, finishing anything will be good.

    Fatty, please tell Susan she’s my hero. I have the pink jersey hanging in my room out where I can see it everyday. When I feel like all this treatment is just too much, I look at that jersey and think of her. As soon as the snow thaws and the days warm, I’ll be wearing the jersey outside training for Philly. Thanks for continuing to be an inspiration.

  31. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.29.2008 | 6:56 pm

    Will, it was only long because you read slow. Check out Sylvan Learning Centers… I hear they work miracles with adult learners these days.

  32. Comment by fatty | 01.29.2008 | 7:56 pm

    everyone – i don’t see a fight here. i see a bunch of people from a number of different places and perspectives agreeing on something and agreeing that they’re each going to work on it.

    for myself, al’s convinced me. my tax rebate is going toward lobbying for more cancer research. and i am going to continue to raise money for the LAF on this blog, and support others who are fight cancer.

    rebecca – i’m extremely impressed that you’re going to do a 40 mile ride while undergoing chemo. that’s inspiring.

    fan of susan – no, i’m afraid i’ll never be able to tell you what that mysterious phone call was about, because the thing we were talking about didn’t work out, and it would be unfair to the other party to reveal what we were talking about.

  33. Comment by Born 4Lycra 43 11 N 2 32 W | 01.29.2008 | 8:05 pm

    Food for thought Al some good stuff. Problem with voting at elections is either way a politician gets in.
    With Susan being more mobile Le Tour de Court can’t be too far away and then of course there is the book to look forward too. Great to hear you on the improve Sue.
    Fc I am Pumping my money into cancer research here in Oz that way don’t lose out on fees for currency conversions etc. Global problem equals a global solution.

  34. Comment by Jodi | 01.29.2008 | 8:26 pm

    Al where were you when I was blogging? You are a blogger’s dream commentor.

  35. Comment by bikemike | 01.30.2008 | 8:13 am

    Elden, my bad, i meant the fight against cancer. sorry for the confusion.

  36. Comment by BurkeInTheOzarks | 01.30.2008 | 12:59 pm

    Great topic, Fatty. Never apologize for standing on the cancer research soapbox.

    Al – how can you be sooo far to the Right and still want to fund medical research and science? Very cogent comments. Actually, both parties too often descend into hatred and vitriol at the sake of tangible progress.

    Jackie W. – I know SOMEONE had to like Ann C., I just wasn’t sure who. Now I know.

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