Tag: Race

Iron Will Is Required

Leading an adventurous life

Life takes some interesting turns now and again, doesn’t it?

I have done some adventurous things during my sixty-two years of life – backpacking in the Rockies, canoeing in the Canadian wilderness, New Year’s Eve campouts on top of the tallest mountain in Massachusetts, patrolling in the DMZ between North and South Korea, swimming in the Panama Canal, graduating from the US Army Jungle Warfare School, building transmission powerlines in seven states, repelling, practicing and teaching martial arts, etc. I have come way to damn close to dying on more than one occasion, but I have to say I have no regrets. To me, a life without adventure and a little risk is no life. I have always liked a good challenge and hope to take on several more in the years I have left. For instance, I have often thought about how cool it would be to compete in something like the Eco Challenge, or maybe the Iditarod. I mean, how awesome would that be?

The Iditarod

I remember seeing the movie, Iron Will, in the late 90s. Iron Will is a fictionalized account of a 1917 dogsled race sponsored by the Great Northern Railway, and the forerunner to what is now the Iditarod. The movie’s hero, Will Stoneman, is a character based on two real-life participants in the 1917 race. In the story, Will Stoneman’s father dies, and he is left alone to take care of his mother and their land. Needing money to manage things, he decides to enter a cross country dogsled race in hopes of winning the prize. This race is a test of determination, strength, and endurance – requiring several days of racing for long hours, through extremely harsh Alaskan weather and terrain. Will Stoneman will need a lot more than courage and a good dog team to even finish this race; he will need an Iron Will.

The first actual Iditarod was run in 1973. The idea originated with historian Dorothy Page and the race was brought to reality by Joe Redington Sr. and other volunteers – including the US Army. Redington wanted to save both the sled dog culture and Alaskan huskies (a non-AKC breed), that were quickly being replaced by the invention of snowmobiles, as well as preserve the historic Iditarod Trail between Seward and Nome. In addition, he wanted to highlight a historical event that took place in 1925, when a life saving diphtheria serum was delivered via a relay of 20 different mushers and their dog teams from Nenana to Nome, almost 700 miles, in just over 6 days. This heroic effort exemplified the spirit and determination of those who continue to race today, as well as the grit and determination of the Alaskan husky and their mushers. These same traits are carried into the future by the courageous dogsled teams racing in the Iditarod today. Clearly, the Alaskan husky is truly an amazing breed of dog. Oh, and the mushers must be pretty tough as well.

Colleagues and Coincidence

Yesterday, I was talking to a colleague of mine from the University of Tennessee. Ben Jones has an interesting hobby. He designs and builds top quality watches. Because we occasionally have some interesting conversations, I have known about this hobby for a while. But today, Ben mentioned that he was shipping a watch he’d made to Alaska. He had built it for his cousin who needed a specialized watch because she is competing in the 2023 Iditarod. I said …. “Wait a minute … What?”

And, it was a very cool watch!

Jennifer LaBar and Rocking Ridge Kennel

Iditarod 2023 will be Jennifer LaBar’s first 1,000 mile race. And that is a big deal! Beginning in 2011, Jennifer “dreamed of racing 1,000 miles across Alaska” and set several goals for herself after she got her first sled dogs in 2014. Her goal was to do this by the time she turned 40 (Jennifer will turn 41 a couple of weeks after the 2023 Iditarod). She also wanted to run the race with dogs she’d raised herself. I understand that completely. Nothing beats that bond between loyal dogs and their owners. Most of Jennifer’s dog team were born at her house. A few were given to her as pups from other mushers. And her team of dogs have competed in several shorter dogsled races in preperation for the 2023 Iditarod.

Her husband, Andrew LaBar supports her in this goal one-hundred percent, and through their kennel, they also offer others seeking adventure the chance to experience a genuine dog sledding trip.

Alaska is on my bucket list, and when I get there, I may have to check this out. I really think I would enjoy a dogsled adventure.

Perhaps Ben will hook me up, and I can do a follow up post on Jennifer LaBar and her dogs. And just maybe, I can swing a post about his watch making. I was really impressed with the Iditarod watch! Time will tell …

In the meantime …

Rocking Ridge Kennel & Outer Range Dogsled Tours

Check them out! Visit and explore their website.

And if you want to sponor a very cool team in a very cool race, you can. I’m going to … simply because this is so freaking awesome!

Are you “Proud to be White?”

There is an email circulating around with the subject line “Proud to be White!  This email claims that during the 503 days between the Travon Martin killing and the Zimmerman verdict, 10,865 blacks were killed by other blacks.  The emails then asks, “can you name one?”

Can you name any victims of white on white murders over the same time period?  Just asking!  Statistically speaking, people kill the people they know; loved ones, friends and neighbors.  Because people of different racial backgrounds tend to live clustered together, they are far more likely to kill someone of their own race than someone of another race.

This email then goes on to claim that the U.S. ranks third in the world for murders, but if you remove Chicago, Detroit, Washington, DC and New Orléans, the U.S. is then fourth from the bottom.  All four of these cities are controlled by democrats and have very tough gun laws, so the inference is clear.

Let’s look at some facts.  images

Black on Black Murder Numbers: 10, 865 Blacks Killed by Other Blacks

The number of black-on-black murders in 2012 is better estimated at 6,002. According to Bureau of Justice statistics, the percentage of total homicides with black victims where the offender is also black has remained stable for years at 93 (As a side note, the rate for the percentage of total homicides with white victims where the offender is also white is 85).  According to FBI statistics, the total number of homicides in 2012 with black victims in the United States is 6,454.  If we apply the historically constant rate of 93 to that number, we get a fairly accurate estimate of 6,002 black-on-black homicides. The first number is what can be proven.  The second number is simply a fairly good estimate.

U.S. murder ranking claim: United States is third highest.

The most correct way of comparing countries is to look at the rate of homicides, or how many homicides there were for every 100,000 people.  According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2012 the U.S had a homicide rate of 4.7.  This rate is not even in the top 100.

By contrast, Honduras  is number 1 in the world and has a murder rate of 90.7, which is almost 20 times higher.  According to the United Nations, the U.S. is even a good bit below the global homicide average of 6.2.  I am not a big fan of the U.N., but you do have to get your global statistics from somewhere, and not just pull them out of thin air.

The email could be referring to the number of murders and not the rate, but even if you look at the number of murders which does not account for population differences, according to the U.N., in 2012 the U.S. is eighth behind Brazil, India, Nigeria, Mexico. Congo, South Africa and Venezuela.

Remove Four cities: United States drops to fourth from the bottom

The email also states that if just four cities with democrat mayors were removed from the tally of U.S. murders, this would plunge the country from third highest to fourth lowest in the murder rankings.

According to the FBI, in 2012, Chicago had 500 homicides, Detroit 386, New Orléans 193 and the District of Columbia 88.  This gives us an actual  total of 1,167 murders.  That same year, the United States had 14,827 homicides.  If we subtract those four cities, the murder total becomes 13,660. This will give us a drop in the homicide rate of 4.35, resulting in a drop of only 3 or 4 spots in the world rankings. This is nowhere near the bottom four. The bottom fourth and fifth spots are now held by Japan and Iceland with a homicide rate around 0.3 per 100,000.

And again, if we use the number of murders and not the rate,  when we remove those four cities, the U.S. would drop only two spots, below Colombia and Pakistan.   The U.S. would still, however, rank in the top 10.

The assertion that democrat mayors and tough gun control laws contribute to the higher murder rates is interesting.  However, not all democrats favor tougher gun laws and, in fact, some republicans do favor tougher gun laws.  Chris Christie comes to mind.

It is clear the cities and states allowing concealed carry do experience a drop in violent crime. Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.

Here are some other facts:

Fact: Gun homicides were 10% higher in states with restrictive CCW laws, according to a study spanning 1980-2009.

Fact: Crime rates involving gun owners with carry permits have consistently been about 0.02% of all carry permit holders since Florida’s right-to-carry law started in 1988.

Fact: After passing their concealed carry law, Florida’s homicide rate fell from 36% above the national average to 4% below, and remains below the national average (as of the last reporting period, 2005).

Fact: In Texas, murder rates fell 50% faster than the national average in the year after their concealed carry law passed.  Rape rates fell 93% faster in the first year after enactment, and 500% faster in the second.  Assaults fell 250% faster in the second year.

Fact:  More to the point, crime is much higher in states without right-to-carry laws.

Fact: States that disallow concealed carry have violent crime rates 11% higher than national averages.

Fact: Deaths and injuries from mass public shootings fall dramatically after right-to-carry concealed handgun laws are enacted. Between 1977 and 1995, the average death rate from mass shootings plummeted by up to 91% after such laws went into effect, and injuries dropped by over 80%.

It is also important to note that the murder rate dropped by 17.54 percent between 2005 and 2012.  Kelly Riddell, who wrote an article describing how concealed-carry applications were out pacing ObamaCare applications, said “a July study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans have permits to carry concealed weapons, a 147 percent increase from 4.5 million seven years ago. Meanwhile, homicide and other violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent.”

So by all means, be Proud to be White.  I certainly am.  But folks should also be Proud to be Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Eskimo, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Arabic, or Jewish!  Take pride in your background, culture and ancestry.  Have the open-mindedness to respect and admire the good things from other cultures, races and ethnicities.  Perhaps most importantly, be Proud to be an American.  This is a great nation with a proud history.  It would be a real shame to lose all that to a handful of race-baiters and Alinskytes!