Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Blank Demain

Must agree that humanity usually betrays and disappoints. But, besides ignorant organisms, inert minerals, insipid vegetables, instinctual animals, interstellar debris, and uninterested stars, what else have you? Everything isn’t about you, must equally be about others. Isolated, you’re pathetic and powerless. Clients and friends improve your horizons and prospects, take you to otherwise unattainable peaks.

Have often said life would be unlivable without art, creativity, criticism of the constructive kind, and events that celebrate being alive and not interpersonally blind. Terrorists and tyrants want to deny you these enchantments, smother enjoyments in strict observances, torture you with sinister torments. Judgment of past sins just emasculates and shames. Smart people don’t play such games, not worth time better spent soaring upwards and synthesizing innovations.

Draw a blank when pondering espère pour demain, hopes for tomorrow. When you live in the moment, plans become irrelevant, especially as Fall passes into Winter. Dream jobs lead to dead ends. Endless volunteer efforts could fill your days; nonprofit directors drool over efforts freely extended. But worthy causes attract bad actors and cares pretended. Crafty chiselers rush into voids left by catastrophes. Charity begins at home, creeps carefully around, but forever puts altruists at risk.

While another blog validates being overtaken is a perceived hazard that keeps bicyclists from riding, potential for accusations deter cycling community from volunteering. Joined what was billed as a group ride only to spend day escorting a young lady alone. Maybe most don’t think that’s indiscreet anymore, but embarrassing comments were passed. Under pressurized conditions conversations center on self, not zeal for cause for which you appeal. You find yourself struggling with audience to focus on deal and keep issues of correctly composting and recycling real.

Always sought a zero carbon footprint, but most technologies affordable or available don’t dovetail into an impact that’s preferable. Over nine hundred planetary scientists, practically all of them except for the few paid to lie on behalf of vested interests, urge, under no uncertain terms, an immediate halt to deforestation, harmful emissions, ocean pollution, and toxic aftermaths. They demand alternatives to fossil fuel and natural gas as energy sources.

Dead comedian George Carlin tore elitists a new hole for smugly presuming they could save planet. “The planet has been around for billions of years. It will be around for billions more. Humanity is screwed, soon to be extinct.” London smog was so bad it killed asthmatics and children. Once coal was no longer used for household cooking and heating, air quality dramatically improved. Proves Carlin was wrong for enabling denalists, and why humans irrefutably affect environment.

Katharine Wilkinson asks mankind to drawn down 2 billion tons of CO2 emissions over next 30 years and seek zero population growth by empowering women. Sources of greenhouse gases also include manufacturing, mining, raising livestock, shipping, trucking, and work that provides livelihoods. But vast biosphere can filter excess given a chance to do so. Can’t let equatorial rain forests burn and disappear. Almost 2 million people have viewed her Ted Talk. She’s not alone.

Gentle teen activist Greta Thunberg testified against global warming before United Nations assembly, yet has gotten bullied and dismissed by world leaders, who haven’t done a damn thing to address it. “Remedies are already known; what stands in the way are politics and stupidity... Ecosystems are failing. People are dying. How dare you? Don’t sit there and praise me; that doesn’t do any good. Act.” You can’t be that articulate without mounds of irrefutable evidence. Indeed, why isn’t an issue that affects all life on this planet front page news daily?

Entire human species needs to acquiesce to sustainable practices. Policies need to persecute despoilers and idiots who go by truck when an electric subcompact would suffice. You’re already paying taxes for landfill purchases, waste management, weekly pickup. So why not assist by sorting correctly at home? Already 280,000 tons of waste are recycled annually, but consumers must be willing to buy durable quality, do without useless products, spend less, and target products made from recycled materials.

Do know what’s coming... another lame claim on how bicycling addresses so many of these issues. Long ago decided, “If I can bike there, I will,” so supplanted half of motored miles with pedaled ones. Didn’t personally save planet, but did provide a conspicuous example of an adult riding. Now notice hundreds of bicycles on school grounds and outside train terminals, where decades ago there were none. Once seemed to be sole cycling commuter, now greet dozens each trip. If elected officials weren’t subsidizing Big Oil by extorting taxes from you, driving costs would skyrocket and you’d see far more bicycling instead.

Electrically assisted bikes have almost become commonplace. Batteries, neglected for 50 years, deserved recent reengineering. What’s really needed are high energy capacitor nodes that could be interchangeably plugged into many devices or vehicles and quickly/repeatedly recharged. One such node already exists: a human body. Educate, employ, feed, fortify, nurture, supply with bicycles, water, and what you can expect is a future. Otherwise, be satisfied for this very moment, because that’s all you’re entitled to.

Maybe all you can do is do your best to kick apocalypse down the road and reset Doomsday Clock back a few minutes. Is saving humanity worth one’s own involvement? A big bunch of American blockheads elected and honor a crooked, cruel, divisive, filthy, immoral, lying, misogynist, racist, unchristian POTUS. What does that tell you? Nazis weren’t eradicated half a century ago; their numbers and sympathizers have swollen because social issues never get addressed.

In a nation of bejeweled but threadbare denim, misshapen shadows, multi-shift workers, non-native speakers, and unresponsive audiences, too few care about clever survey, English wordplay, practical poetry, or tactical advocacy. Only the most ridiculous video snippets go viral. What Labann offers has illuminative merit but no monetary value or political punch, provides only a personal outlet for self expression or peevish payback for transgression. Scolding is seldom well received even when course correction is correct prescription.

Teens and twenties converse incessantly, stick noses into smartphones, train through immersive interaction, and tune thereby into current protocols and successful approaches. By sixties, that's all behind you, either blown completely or have it made, incapable of dealing with challenges you meet or riding on easy street. Who do you expect will champion social justice or world stewardship?

All begins and ends within personal supermax prison cells, windowless chambers from which nothing emerges. Readers compartmentalize any mental exercise. Time Has Come Today when there's nothing left to say, that is, that hasn't already been said. “Don’t care what others say... They say we don’t listen anyway... Rules have changed today. Have no place to stay... Love has flown away... been put aside, been crushed by the tumbling tide.” Apologize for nothing, gave project three full decades, never asked for least compensation, and spoke nothing but truths with style. Asphalt ribbons beckon all onward. Au revoir.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Strata Overlain

Pick up Companion Reader, 4th [and likely final] Edition, now available for free downloaded by simply clicking on its image on right or title here. It’s been augmented with latest posts, edited for content, and laid out same as Bike&Chain, which it now exceeds in detail and girth.

Labann asks, “I wrote all this? Do I agree with it entirely? Can I endorse wholeheartedly? Who IS this crusader for human rights and social justice? Surely not the easily distracted, instantly frustrated, severest critic of the overly long, pathetically meaningless, and seriously stupid that surpasses even the most ungrudging futility tolerance?” Could claim someone else composed, some gung-ho invisible instigator with poor impulse control who intermittently possesses fingertips on keyboard, surely a brittle bicyclist beaten about by abusive automatons and belligerents with baseball bats and motorized turbo cats. Have never been so clever in person, instead minded own business and roamed withdrawn around society.

Does it matter whether selective mutism derives from dementia or indifference? Already way past what was originally intended, never meant to repeat self so often, even though withering bicycling does imply repetitive pedaling. Regret sharing 2,000 pages on bicycling culture... dumbest thing ever personally did. No good reason for it, simply saw a hole in society's swing and succeeded in pitching strike after strike for 3 decades. Yet game was rigged; those who outperformed still lost while slackers stole billions and wrecked environment. Although beaten into abject submission, did once rise against cruel domination, and imagine others so inclined. Saw it return and tossed in own two curve balls. But the older one gets, the slower both body and mind; now it’s bullpen time.

Layer upon layer of digital streams and wordy dreams fused into inseparable strata akin to what archeologists encounter at prehistorical sites where habitation existed for millennia, cities built on ruins of villages built on camps along river banks.

If anything, both Bike&Chain and Companion Reader prove bicycling culture not only exists but thrives despite all attempts to eradicate it irrevocably. Automotive interests wanted to clear streets of impeding bicyclists and walkers. Instead they distributed too many vehicles and installed road furniture as own obstacles, so they sit motionless fuming with emotions amidst exhausting fumes, fatiguing billboards, and limiting controls among hundreds of millions of fearfully likeminded. Some motorists are so witless they stop in crosswalks and intersections which they aren’t supposed to enter unless clear to proceed. Then they assault you with verbal obscenities for squeezing carefully around them. From a bicyclist’s viewpoint, it’s a war fought daily in surprising skirmishes pitifully concluded. Hard to fathom how anyone waxes enthusiastic about exercise that punishes more than rewards.

Summer is when automotive lobbyists escalate their anti-bike rant: “Bike right! Get out of my away! Watch out lest you become roadkill!!” It’s tantamount to confessing, “We don’t know what the hell we’re doing yet will never stop, so you better perform extra well to allow for our incompetence.” Presumes bicyclists can while motorists can’t.

Bicyclists retreat to back roads or wooded tracks, along with deer or other wild animals guided by instincts alone, though nowhere is totally safe. Don’t ever call for roadside service, since even though covered for first 10 miles, bicyclists will be extorted dearly for more cash than they carry for any mileage beyond. Drivers fear open spaces between car, home and office, spend <1% of their time outdoors, where they’re statistically safer by an enormous factor, and might soak up oxygen and sunshine for health’s sake.

Bicycling elevates one's brain derived neurotrophic fact (BDNF), dopamine, number of brain cells, and serotonin. According to prestigious medical journals, as little as 15 minutes a day, perhaps a short commute to work, fights ADHD, Alzheimer's, cancer, cardiovascular, fibromyalgia, Lou Gerhig's, and Parkinson's diseases. Furthermore, pedaling boosts mood and fights depression, main manifestation of mental illness considered nearly nominal since it’s so prevalent. Being in best of health benefits entire society, reduces demands upon doctors, hospitals, insurers, and nurses, which thereby elevates level of care for all. In this among many other ways, bicycling fosters better citizenship and opens eyes to cruel reality.

Meanwhile, insane terrorists spread germs and tamper with unsealed foods and products at points of sale for viral hits. Cybercrooks and scam telemarketers work nonstop to cheat rubes from ready cash. Websites pose as government resources or innocuous portals, then phish for details or identities to steal. Promise of an internet that offers free information to enlighten curious has long been betrayed by greedy businessmen, corrupt politicians, and dastardly predators. Even stalwarts, especially saints, can’t be trusted, because all have agendas against injustice and hate vulnerable you in lieu of unassailable enemies.

So what’s the point in trying to share relevant observations? Only going to attract miscreants or be ignored or misinterpreted by audience you hoped to reach. Nobody believes in friendly, platonic relationships; all mistrust anything different and suspect underlying sexual urges. Seeing world as it is and stating how it disappoints leaves you angry and bitter. Sometimes saying nothing serves you better.

In the end, what you did and you yourself will be overlain by depressing strata. Maybe some future archeologist will dig up your primitive artifacts and find a cherished gem while sifting through tons of wasteland overburden for bits of bone and specks of metal.

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius , 121 -180 AD. Not much changes among men over 2 millennia, but tough to stay balanced when crowded by eight billion among whom two billion are mentally disabled.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Backpedalane

Pedaled backwards along a long forgotten lane; decided to relent to assumed duties one last time. Googled current bicycling culture. With internet now heavily populated with facts and folderol, these searches have become too easy. Wasn’t at all so during mid-90’s when Labann began; meant going to college libraries and retail shops, and interviewing other cyclists. While bike musical compositions have trailed off, probably because no global heroes have emerged from America since Armstrong’s disgrace, new topical books overflow, including several about enduring Tour de France, more than you’ll read in 10 years and not mentioned. Here’s a significant smattering of late breaking others (does not constitute an endorsement of any):

Anonymous, The Secret Cyclist: Real Life as a Rider in the Professional Peloton, (Random House, 2019, 224 pp.) - “...try write a warts-and-all blog about your office. Question how the business is run, make sure you remember to call your boss a moron, and then tell me how it goes.” Management dissatisfaction probably applies to every team sport, as it surely does in most businesses, until some board or committee members, stakeholders, or whistleblowers wise up and work together to end tyranny. Can be projected to a national scale, since, as Peter predicts, incompetents rise to their highest level, though you’d overlook and tolerate them on their journey there until damage is already done.

Evan Friss, On Bicycles: A 200-Year History of Cycling in New York City (Columbia University Press, 2019, 264 pp.) - Reminds readers that no sooner than the first laufmaschine arrived from Germany its use in Manhattan was banned in parks and on sidewalks, only to return 50 years later as French boneshakers that captivated public and paved streets for motoring.

Harry Pearson, The Beast, the Emperor and the Milkman: A Bone-shaking Tour through Cycling’s Flemish Heartlands (Bloomsbury Publishing, for release February, 2020, 272 pages) - Accounts of Belgian racers of yesteryear, such as The Beast Eddy Merckx, and Jules Vanhevel, who led a World Championship drive until he collided with a cow.

Jet McDonald, Mind is the Ride (Unbound Publishing, 2019, 368 pp.), non-traditional bike book of the mental journey, not a travel guide, during a tour from England to India. “The Virtual Triangle... A bike shadow is a cyclist’s best friend. It’s an X-ray of the rider’s imagination Its never -changing geometry follows just behind or ahead, on an icy road, a desert plain, a dual carriageway. And at the peak of hunger and the depths of exhaustion, it begins to talk with you. It begins to turn you inside out.”

Jools Walker, Back in the Frame: How to get back on your bike, whatever life throws at you (Little, Brown Book Group, 2019, 368 pp.) - Autobiographical blogger Lady Velo compiled her trials as a black woman fighting depression, prejudice, a stroke, and such tough stuff to suffer from.

Lorenz J. Finison, Boston’s Twentieth-Century Bicycling Renaissance: Cultural Change on Two Wheels (UMass Press, 2019, 304 pp.) - Chronicles challenges and revives disavowed voices of black cyclists, environmental and social justice activists, and women breaking into male-dominated professions of bike messengers and mechanics.

Michael Kranish, The World's Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America's First Black Sports Hero (Simon and Schuster, 2019, 384 pp.) - Whatever complaints the Secret Cyclist may have, none could match Marshall Taylor’s struggles as a black champion during Jim Crow era. This new biography was unknown to Labann when he wrote a recent article after a personal visit to Taylor’s old haunts.

Somehow also stumbled upon an old song that suggests, though never specifies, bicycling per se. Journey, Still they Ride, Escape, Columbia, 1981; subsequently released as a single, hit 19th on Billboard Hot 100.
"Jesse rides through the night / Under the Main Street light
Riding slow / This old town, ain't the same
Now nobody knows his name / Times have changed, still he rides
Traffic lights, keeping time / Leading the wild and restless through the night
Still they ride, on wheels of fire / They rule the night
Still they ride, the strong will survive / Chasing thunder
Spinning ‘round, in a spell / Woah, it’s hard to leave this carousel, ‘round and ‘round and ‘round and ‘round
Still they ride..."

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Shocks Sarbane

"This may come as a shock..." constitutes as cringeworthy a phrase as, “Tell me if this hurts." Brace for a beating; face stress building. People prefer ghastly lies over a nasty surprise. Yet many ignore dire warnings deemed predictions of gloom from prophets of doom. "Tell me some good news," they importune, though they rather it be nonsense or silence, because ignorance is bliss, "No news is good news." Then well laid plans go amiss.

Spent half a century in quality assurance, Six Sigma trained, totally committed to scientific method of observe, hypothesize, experiment, gather data, repeat, analyze, theorize, codify, form corollary, surveil for exceptions and failures. Unappreciated are measuring, monitoring, and sweating time consuming tasks. Jumping to conclusions is easy and quick. Learning from mishaps dissolves into trying to avoid.

Not very sexy, nobody's much interested in constant measurement, data maintenance, due diligence, or statistical assessment. Details cause countenances to droop, eyes to glaze, and jaws to yawn. As author, editor, illustrator, technical writer, and webmaster, spent 50 years rechecking and verifying minutia. Still make mistakes, but trust process when permitted favorable conditions and hours to apply logic and tools, although impatience rules and turns everyone into fools. Even when you cover all contingencies, things still go wrong. Total incorruptibility tags the saint for crucifixion. The more unconscionable and unforgivable you are, the more likeminded lummoxes like you. Worst gangsters rise fastest and highest.

No number of congressional SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) Acts could keep accountants from destroying American industry over last two decades. Khrushchev has his revenge from beyond the grave. Once engineers designed anew just to improve continually this technology zoo. Acquisitions, insurers, mergers based upon global greed doing bean counting at the expense of what matters - increasing reliability and saving lives - destroyed incentives and eclipsed impact. SOX’s very existence even without enforcement, only voluntary compliance, still rankles conservative cheaters. Legal practices and poison pills mean stockholders never in fact obtain company ownership. Great potential has been gutted on purpose in a battle against intelligent stewardship.

Things are so bad weavers would rather make disposable socks and pick your pockets than maximize comfort and wear. Can't find any that don't pinch off blood vessels by being too tight, which results in foot burn, poor circulation, and possibly blood clots, and get threadbare faster than FedEx can resupply. Sumptuous merino wool may be best, but makers betray by tweaking mix of nylon and spandex, and split sizing of Med-XL that sacrifices perfect but unpopular XXL. Black old style pair with little white homunculus show wear points on foot to almost see-through thinness at ball edges, heels, and toes. Makers could examine to redesign and reinforce, but they don’t care. Greed for profit forever surpasses need to serve all classes when competitors are few and customers are stuck with bad or no choices. Whatever happened to, “Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back,” as an inducement? Afraid to buy a replacement, spend too much time damning and darning. Shouldn't have to include sewing among bike handling skills.

Boomers bowed out too early, believing they knocked out social injustice forever, since 20th Century was a clinic on how bad leaders who gained supremacy based on empty rhetoric hurry next catastrophe. Those who jump ship might drown, sink to bottom feeders, such as Peterson’s orange clawed lobsters. Crustacean hierarchies don’t describe human societies or prove male primacies. Big fish eat little fish only beneath the seas. Too many from this generation left country or withheld votes, as if that might work. Only meant a small cadre could seize power. Nixon’s vampire protégés took over, will never leave voluntarily, won’t summer by the sea lest they lose their ghostly and superior whiteness.

“My rhetoric is better than his. My rhetoric is the best ever.” Donald Trump, 07 August 2019, present POTUS, schoolyard bully, supposed leader of the Free World whose schadenfreude for your suffering knows no bounds.

Exactly what in this brand appealed to his base? “Base” by all connotations, MAGA cleverly marketed improvements, though delivered none even with congressional backing, certainly created social ogres while stoking unreasonable fears, and currently promises to crush them should he be returned to office for another term. Almost as laughable as a cartoon villain, he's too reckless a menace to dismiss. Can nobody see through this scam? Can’t say, “You’re fired!” SOX didn’t compel him to disclose soviet contracts concerns or tax returns. Casinos are ideal setups for money laundering and people torturing. Why bother to investigate? Can talk his way out of any indictment. Wiggy presidents are only lightning rods that draw voter charges away from country’s secret bigwigs.

Can’t say you’re disappointed when you’ve foreseen inevitable outcome, except for donkeys, who won’t present anyone you’d want, just lame ducks, spring chickens, and war hawks. For the birds! No viable alternative attracts attention. Rap enough, some of what you say will seem prescient or visionary, since unresolved issues reemerge repeatedly. Was really the moment in history to introduce a whole new progressive party, but nescient citizens blew it, and world has been reset to a century ago on brink of annihilation. Well, screw it. Bike through it.

This time around marching army can’t rely on decent socks, something of a meaningless distraction until they are shot dead paying more attention to toe agony than foreign foe. Charities collect socks for vagrant foot applause in a vain gesture that does nothing to alleviate root cause. Meanwhile, traitors in Senate thrive, those who supposed to be representing you in crucial decisions of protecting and spending. Aw, shucks, who signed you up for awe, hurt and shocks if not them? Why did you not foresee and knock footing from under them? Could see some sacred cow tipping about to commence.

“Down by the railway the bicycles are there, an apocalyptic fair for the alive. It's a sign, the messengers they bring with their stainless steel wings on a 45 that plays our lullaby. Man made moons, they go on, one by one, when the sun is done for the day.” Amy Millan, Wayward and Parliament, Honey From the Tombs, Arts & Crafts, Int., 2006, inspired by serving brews at a coffee shop on Parliament Street in Toronto.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Bite Dumb Cane

Critics use the term “manifesto” in a derogatory way. Comes from the Latin “manifestus”, meaning “obvious”, therefore, disclosed as self evident. Nothing should be more welcome on your path to truth. May inadvertently connote “mandate” with which you must comply even if you don’t want to, but that’s just how things are and never what Labann intends. If fact, have always exposed both ends of spectrum, and presented conflicting approaches, not proselytized singleminded avenues. Uncompromising extremists with agendas to fulfill and axes to grind condemn and deride a centrist standpoint. Always another way to do anything, 99 out of 100 will bring pain or regret you might deserve if you don't take needs of all others into account.

When you consider unbiased numbers, nation is not perfectly divided or substantially polarized. A small minority of morons has a mouthpiece, whereas vast majority does not. Despicable Fox News claims to speak for Americans but doesn’t represent 80% of them. Not even close. By and large Americans are eager to serve a purpose, generous to a fault, hard working, mind own business, obey laws, pay taxes, rush to aid, tolerate other races, religions, and viewpoints, will smite enemies decisively when provoked, and won’t stand for unfair practices. Rest of world would emulate them. Instead, Fox conflates exceptions, generates fear, promotes hatred, and triggers terrorism.

Not all nation’s residents are Americans or citizens, though, or care about mutual benefit. A mean spirited cadre now runs country, puffs itself up to hide its impotency, and taunts bigger crowd of betters as would any bully. Criminals aren’t the norm, cause a disproportionate degree of harm, and do exist at every level in any form. When foreign nationals say they hate Americans, they mean this abominable cross section. A tormenting flea influences behavior of dog tens of thousands of times larger, but surely isn’t dog’s guiding essence. No, pets want to be rid of these pests.

So what if Labann tosses in an occasional metaphor? Some help get points across dense divide. Unless framed as artsy or salacious, crucial messages never reach anyone. Do writers keep blogs to communicate or something else? In every interview infamous artists describe their compulsion to produce. What else is there to do? Guilt drives futile posturing and senseless strutting. Hunger, want and war force immediate, often violent reaction, but with what do you fill times of peace?

Some would suggest art, gratification and music. Others say advancement, exploration and improvement. Nitwits engage in gossip, hate, and home wrecking, pitting spouse against spouse, serving greed of divorce attorneys and those with more money than they know how to spend. Wisdom urges perpetual vigilance and steady effort when common good you must defend. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Dumping recorded impressions and what one assesses into an internet vacuum just depresses. Decline, perversion and superstition interfere, and tailspin sets you back to yesteryear. America has almost become a medieval fiefdom, middle eastern theocracy, or murderous monarchy.

Back when primetime television audiences tuned into and were satisfied by contrived depictions of family life, political shows were filler for Sunday morning dead air. What was the first reality program? Besides news and sports, that is. The sole thrill of NASCAR is that death is defied when vehicles collide. Among unscripted shows, Cops has hung around the longest by diverting viewers with misdemeanor beatings. Shows like Survivor threw together incompetents competing for a prize, and indolent imbeciles applauded ensuing mayhem: Sports with few rules, no athletes or referees, pure mind rot for dumbed down masses. What next? Gladiator contests at the LA coliseum? Mayan football where losers get sacrificed? Political talk has now become primetime's ultimate reality show in which nation gets split into bloodthirsty camps and you pay the price with your life. It's only a game, and those who stage it profit staggeringly. How did this totally reverse? “Never criticize the populace... ‘the deceived masses’ were easy marks for a cynical and self-perpetuating ‘culture industry.’”

People falsely assume that you must be crazy if you're not famous yet speak your mind. Sure, psychos do grouse and mumble, but seldom coherently. Sane folks say little; they recognize fact that most won't grasp what they're saying anyway. "Why cast pearls before swine?" asked biblical authors, then assembled a 1000 page codex to do exactly that. When you dignify idealized depictions of life on sitcoms versus reality programs with contrived scenarios indented with Fox's thumbprints, you fall into same trap of falsehood. Both want you to believe something other than basic facts of enduring pains, hunting gains, and surviving strains, what you really do for a living. B&C only portrays how things are, not how you wish they would be, without excluding details that don’t fit anyone's closed circuit narrative.

Guilefool, O'Really, Sanctity, and whole lineup of disgruntled Fox personalities (not an objective reporter among them, nothing but paid agitators) will accuse you of behaving as if politics of 75 years ago were still relevant; it's a brainwashing tactic. They themselves ape obsolete and square Bucky smugness, Limburger stink, and Merry schemes, whatever always works. A raging world war did require teamwork and tight lips. Not much since has changed with nation still under siege by stupid thugs and war lords, who either don't understand America's stabilizing effect or do want to see world burn. Yet you let jackasses in suits and ties rant jabber and and tout white supremacy or xenophobic deportation at your peril; festivals and schools don't screen attendees for assault weapons. You know too well what divisiveness they are all about by content and tone of sound bites they deliver with insincere smirks and shifty eyes. It's Ailes advising Nixon all over again, "I am not a crook," as if supporting a paranoid sociopath were preferable. But Labann's a nobody stuck in cultural inquiry at the terminus of cosmological waste disposal, not a notable who can do or say anything because face is bloated to indisputable by big screen or world stage.

Since when have intellectuals resumed heeding clerics and pundits over scientists? Empirical facts are peer reviewed and professionally vetted; there's no room for flexibility or stupidity. Questions of morality and spirituality can never be answered and will always remain debatable. Therefore, wars are fought over them incited by neocons precisely because they can neither be proven nor refuted and nothing is more divisive. All neocons believe in is profitability created when parties disagree. Anyway, after partisan pundits, pederast priests, and proof-for-pay scientists, who can you trust?

Broadcasts ridiculously commenting on reporting of real investigators elsewhere turns riding bikes into high-risk crossings of a fearscape, no longer an innocuous calling upon a pleasant landscape. People who count occurrences and focus on facts and can offer proof that bicycling and walking (possibly also racing and running) are much safer than motoring, even if infrastructure centers on automotive and lacks any ethical motive. Worst worry isn’t potholes, sweat or traffic, it’s up-close encounters with anyone who believes latest graphic faked by Fox, and is so incensed to senselessly punish you. These serial terrorists buzz, cut off, hook, and pelt bicyclists on purpose, park or pass in bike lanes, or pursue you with malice.

B&C tells a story of how an angry carload at a bike path crossing screamed insults out windows. Labann made an appropriate finger salute, hurried along, then slipped through next crossing just before same carload nearly chased down from around corner. Of course, can’t blame bad attitudes alone, but capitalistic enterprises of cooking crack, importing coke, and selling liquor in which neocons and rednecks collude. Exercise does builds testosterone, makes bicyclists concupiscents, but gutless drug addicts lash out against helpless innocents because those in control are inaccessible and remote, and you aren’t. No, bicyclists and walkers are powerless and vulnerable.

Tolerating, trying not to pity, these pains-in-the-asses parallels bicycling on multiple levels. Believe no one who says bicycling is nonstop joy in cresting hills, maintaining cadence, and paying costs. It's a battle against bugs, chemical burns or infectious germs splashed on you by riding through gutters awash in mystery juice, saddle sores, sorrow and worry, such onerous stuff with which you must deal but shouldn't have to, and toil that yields mood elevating endorphins and years of living longer. It's a game changer for those among you who are smarter.

David Bowie recalls with amusement how in Berlin new acquaintance Brian Eno would take a train based on how many marks he had in his pocket, then explore neighborhood in which he found himself. Situationist Guy deBord identified this behavior in Theory of the Dérive (1956), an unstructured journey where you absorb whatever you randomly encounter, and emotionally disconnect. One wonders whether anything is so utterly random, when it could be part of some otherworldly plan, or whether preordained scripts create or were derived from chaos. Still head out alert on bike on a wide-eyed dérive and let vehicle flow decide which turns to take, though know there'll be some consequence. A flaneur imposes self into a crowd just to feel alive amidst a moshpit of movement and transgression, in other words, traffic, from which everything you need to know gets revealed. In an armchair or on a couch, you yourself are mere furniture. Independent of conveyance choice, whenever in motion you are traffic, as much as any bus, car, or steel on wheels for which planners must accommodate. It's only now, 30 years since ADA was enacted, that cities are installing wheelchair ramps in intersection curbs. They ignored a whole generation of wheelchair users, though bike paths always supported motorized chairs.

Constant sweeping is what bicyclists do, surveying ahead from front wheel to vanishing point. This sweep derives from a need to dodge hazards, distant and narrow, downcast and medial, then proximal and wide, repeated as many times a minute as miles per hour in speed. Bicyclists also sweep tires side to side, like painting pavement or tango dancing. Regarding politics, citizens need to be on par: looking ahead, looking around, and staying engaged in current events. Over the last 50 years world's population has doubled from four to eight billion. Two additional generations have joined parents and grandparents on highways. Family drives on Sundays have become an anachronism. Can't see bucolic vistas when focused on bumpers inches ahead and behind. Motoring's a key defoliant and pollutant which has laid roadsides bare. Nothing much to see anymore except impending shambles. At least by bike, you soak up oxygen and sunshine.

Almost never look back, especially when someone hails. Promises no reward for services rendered. Was early on a Sunday, quiet enough to hear, so went back despite misgivings. Bicyclist on a borrowed bike had dropped chain completely off. Had tools to fix but he couldn’t figure out how. Explained that derailleur is on a spring, so bottom cog was flipped over top. A lesson later, chain was restored, and cyclist was left with a happy memory of a helpful samaritan... and how to locate nearest bike shop. Perhaps he’ll pass along a positive vibe. How many times has it been that Labann fixed a stranger’s flat and was forgotten? Then, again, always foresaw contingencies, so seldom needed reciprocity. Did roll 150,000 miles without unmanageable mishaps. Maybe karma accumulates and protects, you never know. Talking heads who incite hate may earn millions by ruining marriages, but surely are due for huge comeuppances, hopefully including reparations.

Getting along doesn’t mean you have to bite mother-in-law’s tongue, chew dumb cane, shut up, or suffer in silence. Having personally dealt with belligerent losers, learned it’s better to go limp, neither confront nor escalate, if you want smother an emotional inferno. Once fuel is expended, fury becomes smoke and melts into thin air. Unfortunately, propaganda continually gets refueled by billionaires, so you’d better counter with equal measure lest it cost you your life, though it consumes your time.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Orbital Plane

How can anyone be interested in bicycles alone? Bikes are only a means to take in wide world beyond your doorstep. Have gotten stuck on transportive processes, but what else have you? Vegetative? Yes, you can learn plenty from barnyard animals, insects and plants, but warmest relationships can only form once you meet some percentage of planet’s seven billion seven hundred thousand other humans. Universe includes everything; culture and science explain how you fit into it. Heaven is gliding effortlessly to hear, see, sense and understand everything.

Fact is that during short time allotted there’s a glut of input and surplus of stupidity. Whole of internal logic, poetic rhyming, suggestive innuendo, and whimsical wordplay gets totally lost in translation, meaning filtered from consciousness of most readers whether or not foreign or native language fluent. Audience flocks to whatever bundles, digests, and eases reach, usually radio or television, then Twitter memes or websites. May attend live lectures or performances, but whenever highly motivated most knuckle down and read chapters and paragraphs. If you think about it, literature originates raw material for all other media, yet remains the least loved. A bond must be formed between audience and author that requires extraordinary effort from both, even undeserved pain, to achieve rapport, meld minds, and start word of mouth that breaks barriers. Wastes too much time.

Same dynamics describe transportation choices. The path of least resistance appears to be a private passenger car... that is, until gridlock becomes intolerable, parking impossible, or roads impassable. Then you’re back to walking, for which most are so out of shape they’ll pathetically stay in place until death overtakes or situation resolves. Planes and trains never reach where you want to be, so you still must rent a car or take a taxi. Costs and hassles of arranging, boarding and delaying have become so bad motorists may often be tempted to drive thousands of miles instead. Along with distracted and intoxicated, sleep impaired motoring is a major cause of accidents and fatalities, though many find it impractical to snooze aboard planes or trains, then drive upon arrival anyway.

Exactly half a century ago many of Earth’s three billion six hundred thousand people - less than half its current population - were riveted to Apollo 11 broadcasts. CBS anchor Walter Cronkite invited futurist fictionist Arthur C. Clarke to comment, since Clarke had speculated in books a generation earlier all that was about to occur, though admitted going to the moon was a lot more complicated and costly than imagined. Historic precedents excite, but space exploration since has drawn less acclaim than criticism, even with another moon landing planned around corner. Although you’re tracking more junk in orbital plane than you care to admit, because its influence is plainly incontrovertible, you live in a gravity well that's hard to escape and mustn't be taken for granted. News of alien visitation wouldn’t make things any weirder than they already are. Nobody at that time was reading instead of listening or viewing. During current events, literature gets abandoned, then resurges when buzz passes and people seek new perspectives. However, authors seldom rate among celebrities. Action heroes amass accolades. Wordsmiths are accursed.

A perfect case in point was Marshall “Major” Taylor, the first African-American international sports star. Not only did he set USA cycling records, Taylor surpassed all competitors on three continents and won every championship. Despite denial, racism, and violence stateside, the Black Cyclone was invincible from 1896 to retirement in 1909. He sat atop a fortune in winnings when age and rivals began to catch up. Although he expressed no bitterness or regrets in his autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World, self publishing in 1928 and peddling copies himself, along with crashing of stock market and declining popularity of bicycling, ruined his marriage and net worth. Residing penniless at Chicago’s YMCA, Taylor succumbed to heart disease at 53 years old, about same age Labann began publishing Bike&Chain. So, fans lavish cash upon athlete, yet look past author as if he didn’t exist, even when one in the same person.

Had a chance to roll along Major Taylor Boulevard and stop at the [shown] Mendez memorial to the Worcester Whirlwind, dedicated in 2008 by Greg Lemond himself, outside public library next to YMCA just 7 blocks from George Street, an 18%, 500 foot hill Taylor used to train on, now venue for an annual race held every July in his honor in Worcester, where he began his professional racing career and first found fickle fame. These days city itself seems filled with anger, blight, ghosts, and reminders of region’s biggest KKK rally, while ugly white supremacy has wormed into nation’s highest offices.

There used to be an anti-religion, immigration hostile Know Nothing Party. Ever wonder what happened to it? Lincoln drew its xenophobic adherents into Republican Party. This same thinking monolith of anti-intellectuals, bigots, denialists, and racists represent only about 25% of Americans, which, coincidentally, is the same proportion of insane people loose in society at any given time. Without scruples they are better organized than any other party, especially Democrats, a loose confederation of idealists, labor unionists, and splinter groups that collect over 45% of voters, though not all routinely show at polls. In the 1930’s, Republican Smoot Hawley tariff was principally to blame for deepening The Great Depression and making recovery impossible, now known as the most catastrophic act in congressional history. In 1940 another of their bills, Taft Hartley, restricted unions to keep wages low. In the 1950's, McCarthy's communist witch hunts, with his protege Reagan, condemned innocents and curtailed progress. Nixon was forced from office for his misconduct and paranoia. Politics were much healthier before Reagan destroyed unions in 1980’s to end labor’s clout in picking candidates and speaking for up to 35% of voters. Unions have since dwindled to municipal, paramilitary, and shrunken industrial groups, only 5% of today's workforce. Bushes gave billionaires bailouts and tax cuts precipitating recessions that savaged all but the wealthiest few. Yet dunces who couldn't see trough this century of lunacy and villainy elected Trump. Just how stupid can Americans be? Who can you blame but yourselves for this condensed history from New Deal to No Deal?

People react as if astonished that a politician dares to cheat and deceive them. It's all they ever do. Honest folks have no place in office. Even when they do get elected, they're forced or maneuvered out, usually through sex scandals, as if intimate encounters weren't healthy and normal but lewd and shameful. Probably dupes celibates, crones, and virgins. Rest of voters engage in some frequency from "get lucky once" to "once an hour on average". Scandal tactics don't work against Republicans, who are the first to accuse others of what they themselves have been caught and doxed doing countless times. Over the last 3 GOP presidencies alone that includes homosexual trysts, pedophiliac perversion, rancorous infidelity, and statuary rape. More outrageous than this bitchy behavior is their outright hypocrisy.

Maybe relative decency, social programs, and wide tolerance weren’t so good as strategies when planet’s population doubled since 1969 threatening natural resources to tipping point and tripling traffic with which you have to deal. Yet non-stop war over same period did nothing to reduce, single child laws failed to achieve zero population growth, and threats of apocalypse urged births to preserve species. If world’s going to end soon, what’s the difference? Validates don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude of climate denialists, self servers, and unchecked sociopaths in office. GOP’s gross misconduct emboldened miscreants, enabled worst transgressions, and exposed an execrable underbelly allowed to operate in society. Nobody expects perfection, only works toward it to bring improvement.

Situations change while stuff stays the same. Bush recessions hurt, but collapse of social entitlements earned over a lifetime would be ruinous. Most of all Neocons drool over trillions duly invested into Social Security, the last federal treasury from which they’ve not been able to steal. For many retirees, it’s still an important foundation for monthly income, though small amounts doled out represent less buying power than dollars involuntarily contributed. Now they want to take even this away in pursuit of their zero sum game that will kill everyone including themselves. Conservatism describes the terminal scenario before sink hole sucks entire system to bottom. A clean sweep of Congress can’t be done within year left before next election, may take several cycles, would require viable candidates, yet almost anyone would represent you better, and America survived bad administrations before. Worst catastrophe in homo sapiens history would be to allow this conservative cancer to spread to another planet. Colonization must be apolitical and freegan.

“When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equals, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1855

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Moneybag Seine

Unworthy of bandwidth and cloudspace (...and what within this blog ever was?), always wanted to delineate personal ritual that precedes every cycling session. Drink a full cup of water with maybe a splash of fruit juice, because hydration is crucial to cycling performance and heart function. Ready, relieve and stretch self. Ever try to find a restroom? Freud was right; Americans cringe before anal retentive anxieties evidenced by lack of public toilets. Inventory bindle (cash, cell, CO2 cartridges, keys, levers, tools) and stow in handlebar bag. Always press sidewall of tires to check pressure, or peremptorily pump up to specified psi. Inspect spokes and spin both wheels to ensure not rubbing and tightly locked on. Check that cleats are tightly fastened to shoes while putting them on; flatten lace flaps across foot so not lumped up; pull socks fully on so not bunched at toes. Likewise, settle pad in shorts across crotch, since anything out of place causes pain. Properly fit helmet because adjustor slips, conditions vary, hair grows, and straps stretch. Don gloves and M-frame glasses and swing attached rear view mirror into position for safety sake. Sunscreen? Depends upon daylight intensity and time of departure, but would rather avoid. Blocks benefits of soaking up Vitamin D and stings eyes when forehead sweats, though sunburns on earlobes, neck and nose are no fun. Reset cyclometer, thereby collect data on route taken and time elapsed for planning and training assessments. Flip crank arms to horizontal to avoid scraping pedals when tilting bike to mount. Downshift to small crank ring if not already there; hard to start pedaling from big ring. Hold both brakes to steady bike and test calipers while clipping in first cleat. Do all this somewhat unconsciously within minutes before shoving off. Regret missing any one step.

Not dissimilar to what they teach in driver’s education: Adjust seat, bag loose stuff, check mirrors, fasten seat belt, release parking brake, and turn off phone before depressing brake and starting vehicle. Yet all but drivers during license tests totally ignore, same as bicyclists the previous paragraph, then suffer consequences and wonder why. And what of clearing snow and scraping windows before engaging gears? Those who don’t can’t see others, particularly bicyclists, and obscure view for others so show no respect for human life. As goes the old saying, preparation prevents poor performance, but surely as well permits attending priorities, such as concentration on sketchy pavement and safe operation in traffic.

How does anything start? You live life on rails from birth to burial. Parents keep you alive until they send you off to school, where educators transform you into cannon fodder or wage slave and schoolmates run good intentions amuck. Bicycling changes all that, encourages independent thinking, and rewards planning. When hills inevitably rise ahead, cranking form, months logged, and know-how combine to flatten. Heels down with knees within elbows and toes in will maximize torque and minimize effort. Building momentum before hitting incline helps carry you up. Never downshift until you feel you must because you’ve lost thrust. Skills and stamina gained from daily commutes enable glorious weekends of hilly routes. Careers seem like club rides where you slowly climb under appreciative managers then zoom to bottom under bad bosses, bankruptcies, department or division consolidation, mergers, and nephews needing your job. Lest they risk layoff list, smart workers fly below radar, maintain connections to network and recruiters, make no waves, shut up, stay ready to move with an updated resume.

Embarked on this extracurricular mission with a dim awareness of how thoroughly political bicycling on shared pavement can be. After a decade of neglect, then tactics and threats, own street was recently resurfaced. With a smidgen of satisfaction watched an enormous vehicle scrape an inch of crumbled asphalt and spew into trailing dump trucks, which presumably haul back to a plant that melts down for other streets. Then another overly wide vehicle laid down hot paste half a road wide in each direction, followed by a steam roller, which flattened and smoothed. Whole process took only 3 days. Undoubtably expensive, isn’t as if they can only afford once a century. Petrochemical skin lasts for about 25 years, then process must be repeated, though never saw before in nearly 40 years, so decades late. At least for a while you can enjoy rolling on a stretch that doesn’t constantly want to bite your wheels and cause a crash. But where are those new bike lanes or wide shoulders guaranteed by law?

Every summer forecast predicts rain, but turns out only overcast again and again. Fed up with being scorched, still echo plurality and escape le pluie by reserving riding to dry days. Yet can’t trust weather modeling, so took a chance one leaden predawn. Rounded a corner into a sudden downpour, road ahead already inches below water. While rushing to an underpass, was thrown from bike so fast wasn't quite sure what happened. Immediately dragging self and stuff to edge of road, narrowly avoided being run over. Probably wouldn't have happened had a storm blinded driver taking up most of lane not forced own unwanted track. Scraped right elbow and knee, but, worse, slammed hip on one of those plastic keepers used to tighten up jacket cord. Left a painful welt and prodigious bruise. A bit of handlebar wrap got clipped off, chain came loose, and sensor for cyclometer had to be repositioned, so no debilitating damage. Took a moment to set things right and wipe chain grease from hands. Soaked with no point waiting out squall, pressed onward. Arrived on time, but had to wring out clothing. Still wasn’t dry after 8 hours despite touted wicking properties of fabrics purchased.

Since road was completely flooded, didn’t immediately determine cause. Next time, traced route to figure it out. There were 2 enormous gaps in pavement, one a jagged 8 feet long x 1 foot wide grin, and other 1-1/2 feet deep and round pot to stick front wheel in. If not for Kevlar belted tires, might have flatted.

State or town theoretically can be sued for not maintaining roads. An individual would have to sustain considerable loss, though a mashed and totaled bicycle might amount to $25,000. People die constantly, yet survivors never blame road keepers. Government would dismiss grievance, ignore claimant, and snub any filing below a class action even if press gets involved. Can barely compose one sentence an hour, but over a quarter of a century sent reams of protests to agencies, cities, states and towns. In reply got several banal acknowledgements but seldom decisive actions. They say it takes overwhelming consensus to push states or towns to obey infrastructure laws existing for decades, though obtained results on own when illegality was undeniable and impact on motorists was also demonstrable, so solely upon content, not necessarily volume.

There’s an analogy in last post that could be further elaborated: Bicycles are Democratic, roll your own way, sort of a donkey prodded onward with reluctance. A unicycle is Republican, only one way (theirs), hardest of all to abide, likely to hurt you, lumberingly elephantine, not at all good for getting anywhere efficiently, stomping unsteadily everything in its way on a trophy hunt that benefits no one. Trikes are Progressive, only go forward, really never backward, even big wheel thingies that skid backwards and sideways, yet always in direction of momentum, require no balance or skill; toddlers can handle them. Motorcycles are for badass, swill chugging, tattooed bikers bound for nowhere but hell or jail. Readers will cheer or jeer this senseless metaphor. They feel buttons being pushed as they read between lines: Agree or denounce, then say what, as you introduce something they haven’t imagined. You actually have choices! Huh?

As with religions, folks generally choose party into which they’re born out of misplaced loyalty and rigorous indoctrination. When neither of predominant two suits you, you seek another or stay home. Half of eligible voters do the latter, not because they are apathetic losers but because no candidate represents them. If you live in a district that’s overwhelmingly polarized, your vote doesn’t really count, superfluous. But who’d want to move into MAGA-Land just to overturn electoral college? Once a year these brainless imbeciles and mental defectives show up drunk at polling places and waste their vote in support of empty slogans. They loathe bikes and love NASCAR. You’d have to tolerate such hatred and ignorance 363 other days. Never saw a MAGA cap? Most likely place will be on noggins of @hat drivers of Chevy pickups or SUVs, same ones who drive so badly they scare bicyclists, even other motorists, off road.

Of Trump’s hand picked administrators, exactly 50% have been asked to resign or fired outright due to corruption, though impeachment of their boss seems about as likely as reelection. Of Trump’s own accomplishments, zero policies have been enacted. Silver lining in all his gross negligence and outright malfeasance is that nation escaped major harm from what could have been ruinous precedents. Plus nazis were exposed. Though debt has doubled, people previously enjoyed a chief executive who helped to reduce, so redemption is still possible. But wasn’t lack of congressional leadership and subpar representation the very reasons Trump got elected? Seems any baboon who insincerely promises to drain Potomac swamp stands a chance to serve country. But not rule as a monarchy! Been two King Georges against whom you could have acted but didn’t, then let a con artist sneak in on a technicality. For shame! To hear anyone with presumed intelligence defend smacks of sellout or stupidity. Shouldn't bear mention. Works on principle that all publicity is good, as long as name gets repeated and stays in conversation.

When sorting through rhetoric, keep in mind that those who argue you drank Kool-aid are the ones who mixed it. Bush withheld funding for bicycling projects while laws and mandates already existed. Obama restored, so a few lines got painted. Trump again broke compliance and retained Republican track record of persecuting bicyclists. Meanwhile, venues to safely bike disappear as 2 lane roads get converted into limited access highways and shoulders get restriped for extra motoring lanes. Previous administration saw both a decrease in gasoline prices and increase in bicycling miles; usually the opposite occurs, but new accommodations can have that affect. Average prices at pump since have gone up 22%, to be expected as global reserves dwindle. How much longer can motoring go on? Gridlock so bad, miles per gallon are next to none. Smarter to burn fossil fuel in stationary plants to produce electricity for vehicles to use, though was startled yesterday when passed by a Tesla, it was so quiet, a new reason to carefully prepare.

Pavement may not, but roadways endure. Politics push bicyclists off the edge. DOTs only act in the interest of motorized moneybags, doing whatever stimulates corporate profits and transfers taxes from you to them including spending a trillion on interstates every decade. Like fishing with a purse seine, big business sets a wide net and surrounds entire school of suckers. Collateral damage to bycatch of marine mammals resembles what happens to bicyclists whose streets are no longer shared but stripped of supportive stripes. Unless cars and trucks consume fuel, thereby requiring crude fractioning with asphalt a byproduct, roads wouldn’t be paved. Only a glutton grabs all of whatever is worth having. Republicans not only enable, but offer tax breaks to Monopoly mascot Uncle Pennybags, other New Jersey casino magnates including game show gambling host Trump himself, and whoever tosses bones into bosses’ war chests. Grossly bizarre, why would Americans vote their purse, not whether they’ll survive to curse? Conditioned to value money over sanctity of life itself? Equate as just tools to exploit? Can only a bicyclist see how imbalanced this would be? Love or leave? Maybe should be bicycling in France instead?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Rednecks Flain

“Riding a bike is Democratic... Now into era of mixed messages, travel by bike and you may be treated like a hero, or, still, treated like vermin... Revolution might be a cycle tour. Time spent thinking about how to do it is never wasted... People fear freedom... Tiresome to be treated as a problem when you are the solution. Don’t let other people’s stupidity upset you... People who ride bikes live longer.” Patrick Field, 2011 address to Royal Geographical Society

This ten year blog slog must end soon. Meant to slow time, it still went by in a cosmological blink. As did Patrick Field, said everything necessary about bicycling already, though parsed deliberately in bicycling cadence through many digressions over a decade. Yet B&C’s social commentary has lost its relevancy. While literature should be fun to read laden with linguistic delights, texts stuffed with opinion alienate everyone. Politics stink. Surveys only seek self vindication, not what you personally think.

So what have blog’s readers learned? A lot of words rhyme with chain? A mineral skeleton integrates effectively with a biological organism? Every manner of human is represented among a billion bicyclists? A quarter of a G8 nation of three hundred million can’t differentiate a dictator from a servant, and three quarters have no idea how to recapture control and retard decline? Not a damn thing?

Most people avoid everything that even hints of emotion, logic, poetry, reason or thinking. Facing facts can indeed be too painful, cause stress, raise blood pressure, shorten lifespan. But if you let others do it for you, you forfeit your chance to do what’s right for you as an individual; you’ll have to wear one-size-fits-all hand-me-down decisions, which may impact your very survival.

Who’s going to rub vindictive Ubu Roi the wrong way thereby risk being rubbed out? Like Jong-un and Putin, he’s a gangster surrounded by henchmen whose salaries you stupidly pay. Unpopularity also proves nothing. USA’s presidency isn’t a monarchy, only to a certain redneck mentality, which has been decisively bagged, precisely flain, and specifically quartered here since onset. Hunting makes for fitting analogies given their gun proclivities and hankering for war. Have made it plain that only none too bright short term gain and right to exploit interim might matter anymore in a world run by bosses, nazis, racists, terrorists and theocrats. A diligent citizen or intelligent resident has no say, then it all crashes with no family spared heartache and losses you might pray would stay away.

Despite their conspicuous contempt, Republicans seem content to run their ridiculous incumbent for another term. A dozen Democrats have to duke it out for dubious privilege of deposing this dunce. Nobody with any sense wants the job. Or listens to same 3 rap beats repeatedly. Or parks in a crowded lot and pumps volume to ear splitting decibels on sunny summer afternoons, as if doing world a favor and making America great again. While sensible people do exist, they don’t make a spectacle of themselves, so you only notice candidates and cretins whose intention is to draw your attention by whatever means, such as parading missiles and tanks to flaunt military might, instead showing muscular incapacity to every enemy.

A least Democratic debates raised issues that voters wanted to discuss: job creation, living allowance, loan relief, minimum wage hike, social justice, and ways to participate in a rigged capitalist regime. Sanders and Warren did respond, but suggested no ways to resolve. Poverty spreads while corporate profits and Wall Street soar. Democrats want to push boundaries on behalf of splinter groups, while Republicans seek to restrict reform of electoral college which delivered elections. For example, by not holding 2020 Census, funding and voting wouldn’t be properly redistributed. This would undermine their plot to have indebted multinational agribusiness control a large number of districts in rural states.

A third option exists, though not so obvious most would notice: To form a centrist political party that could divert enough votes from main two, as if only two ever existed of anything. Might actually be easier than it sounds. Democrats and Republicans in office don’t serve mainstream voters but small factions. They divide votes because no other choice presents itself to dissatisfied majority. Bikes and unicycles both roll, but trikes are more stable.

Forever in demand, progress never occurs without problems. Amish or Neo-Luddite separatists might think they can transcend technology, but they can barely produce enough to be self sufficient without machines and they’ll suffer just as much as rest of society after widespread collapse. Freaks espousing fringe beliefs found no sanctuary among equally superstitious farmers. Everything done to enfranchise ingrates becomes dictates that penalize the god fearing and law abiding.

Revolution would toss out hard earned entitlements along with political corruption when only slight tweaks are required, by which Labann means new faces and policies. Partisanship has become a pandemic affecting all incumbents. With fraud so entrenched, fearless and scrupulous patriots need to reclaim responsibilities, secure spots in Senate, and serve entire nation, not just selves. People seldom get so lucky. Motivated mostly by greed, swilling brews, and watching NASCAR, rednecks neither heed nor read, so are definitely not willing. Perhaps millennials won’t be so self possessed when they inherit this mess once ugly gluttons drop dead or retire, unless offspring inherit seats in Congress. Too often votes are swayed by name recognition. Conservatism derives from aged dementia and mental defect, whereas liberal youth often demonstrate bad judgment and inexperienced mistakes. Provided you can find anyone with some, what needs to prevail is wisdom.

Bike&Chain focused from start upon the universal struggle between doing right and exercising freedom, neither of which are tolerated within a de facto kingdom, not to relieve readers from unreasonable worries. Some stress is good when what results benefits both self and society. But it should be a whole lot easier to work toward global justice when doing the opposite only destabilizes diplomacy for transient comforts.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Bethel Not Certain

“Government is at best but an expedient... Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority... If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849

Beyond all that’s sacred, bicycles become vehicles for both revelation and revolution. By separating from automotive majority, even momentarily, one renews own perspective. If you can only see a single path, gatekeepers easily prey upon you. Civil Disobedience and Walden once appealed, required reading to a malcontent teen pedaling a Schwinn to a perfect-for-bicycling cadence from Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service with destiny concealed. No one knew much, were deliberately kept out of touch, only privy to broadcast news or dusty books, with no internet or such. Had no idea of what one wasn’t aware, or why some were not welcome, which instilled contempt for irrelevant info fare.

Only recall leaving Thursday evening in August, 1969, in back of a Willys Woody wagon, “The People’s Car”, bound for Bethel, New York. Convinced contingent to go based on rumors gleaned from late night radio and small ads in Village Voice tablo. Should’ve headed out earlier, but slept instead after a graveyard shift. By the time Peep Jeep got to Woodstock, roads were clogged, and, for hours having to hike there among many others, festival had become free. Tucked twenty for ticket into shoe. It was a wake up call, because some left behind 10-speeds would have served beautifully right about then. Came for legendary music, but it was more a scene of chaos and confusion, mayhem and mud, rebellion and resurrection, smoky stink and sonic disturbance, which made a lasting impression. Couldn’t actually see acts on stage with any clarity from behind a sea of semi-naked bodies surrounded by angels on sacred ground. Warner Brothers badly captured only its bands as best it could, many of which audience only vaguely experienced amidst crowded distraction and mounds of garbage. Critics may carp from afar, but spirituality can only be felt in participation. Crawled home on Monday in time for a bath, nap, and next night shift as if nothing occurred.

But something had: Counterculture. With such an immense army of adult boomers, fairy hairies of questionable orientation, men and women shoulder to shoulder, Congress was compelled to abandon its aggression in Vietnam, bolster social programs, bring civil rights legislation, and buoy self reliance. If half a million could gather for music, why not for representative justice? It wouldn’t last, quickly defused, sidelined by new sales and old spin. Were attendees all wet? Are human rights a joke? Is freedom just a myth?

Anything you let elected officials decide will favor some other side or themselves, of course. Begs the questions, “Who are your worst enemies?” and, “Why let sociopaths rule?” Are they a necessary evil, babies swaddled in frustration’s diaper, sticky skin on healthy garlic? Didn’t Americans beat Nazis into oblivion? How could these vampires have resurfaced? How many times must you fight same war, restore balance, secure liberty? Apparently, whatever you resist persists. You may even become whoever you push back from. Maybe subsequent generations must relearn same lessons.

Democracy doesn’t work anymore, as proven by winners of popular vote who are nevertheless beaten by unpopular electoral winners, who somehow convince rubes in rural districts through empty promises and moral rhetoric. The party most people belong to, however, doesn’t run viable candidates. Some would call that infantile or ingenuous, since it leaves nation divided and easily suppressed. City dwellers learn democracy having to deal daily with diversity, and their numbers are greater than ever, yet electoral clout remains unchanged. Farmers are increasingly isolated, or driven from ancestral land by multinational giants, who dominate consumption and diets.

For democracy to flourish, voters with principles from blue states would have to migrate by the millions to key districts in red states and register to vote. Only then could a certain coal bitch incumbent racist from Kentucky get ousted. Senators run country in collusion with PACs who fund campaigns. It almost makes no difference who chief executive is anymore, not allowed to take action over Senate anyway.

Mega-farms give us caloric substitutes laden with high fructose corn syrup, insecticides, sugar, and transfats known to cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. They alone decide elections, not majority of voters. They make arms makers look like heroes who relieve long term suffering. Bankers and billionaires round out PAC profile. Despite funding cuts and government shutdowns, this small cadre lulls majority of 300 million into accepting their ongoing theft of trillions in federal revenue through tax diversion and evasion. All have to go, but system has been rigged for decades, stacked against voters by district gerrymandering backed by Supreme Court inaction.

But, you say, government agencies protect the public against crime, danger, infection, starvation, and warfare. If anything, CDC, CIA, FBI, FDA and NSA have sketchy track records rife with scandals. They are funded by Congress, after all, so do what they’re told. Republicans repudiate entire scientific community, particularly when they warn of climate change and tip points when no remediation will avert extinction. Law enforcers favor luxury property owners. Despite whatever noble purpose agencies were founded, fulfillment soon settles into begrudging habit and bureaucratic scorn.

Woodstock Nation wanted to get back to the land, where rabid conservatives dominate. So what happened? Planet can be hostile to humans; geologists reveal various pre-industrial climate debacles. Archeologists also show that the enormous Sahara Desert was once equatorial jungle before men deforested for farming and ranching. Meteorologists say heat rising from it causes hurricanes that batter Caribbean a whole ocean away next to another continent. Mankind’s detriment to sustainable habitat has long been obvious. Since future doesn’t seem to matter to humanity, might as well fell Amazon forests, too, which supposedly produces a large percentage of oxygen humans need to breathe. Then fungi and molds can take over, since they thrive on greenhouse gases and rotting corpses.

Humans can’t elect to be vegetative, strung out on drugs staging nonstop festivals of supposed love and peace, and still survive. Someone has to eke out a harvest, embrace heavy labor, endure stewardship expense while fields lay fallow and land replenishes itself. Conscientious objectors have to absorb all abuse and work twice as hard as complacent bourgeoise and conservative stooges to sweep God’s House. Parasites thereby profit, not patriots who’ll be sacrificed. You can bet it will instill a phobia for toil in hell. Thoreau, in peaceful slumber now under a nondescript 9” marker at Sleepy Hollow, was right after all: Don’t contribute to what you can’t condone. Certainty rests its case in a cemetery.

The price of freedom is in assuming responsibilities few want to, unless you were born bound or forever linked to some bucolic Bethel. Kauneonga with its white wings never lifted hippies aloft, rather slapped shackles onto bovine herd curious enough to convene along Hurd Road in White Lake. Been to its nice museum, but nothing’s left at Bethel Woods that’s new to do, no big celebration planned 50 years later, maybe elsewhere, still not sure. Have already moved on, plan to stay home, perhaps study documentaries again, and try to pick out self in wide shots. Unlike motorists, can yet detect diffuse counterculture in small gestures and tie-dyed scraps while biking about.

“Well, you walk into a restaurant, strung out from the road, and you feel the eyes upon you as you're shaking off the cold. You pretend it doesn't bother you, but you just want to explode... All the same old cliches, ‘Is that a woman or a man?’ And you always seem outnumbered, you don't dare make a stand. Here I am on the road again. There I am up on the stage. Here I go playing star again. There I go. Turn the page.” Bob Seger, 1972. Bicyclists and motorcyclists alike respect lyrics of Seger’s road songs.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Father Scatterbrain

Every Spring roadie cyclists who emerge like bears from winter hibernation ask why they're repeatedly embarrassed and passed by single speed teenagers on bikeways. Going farther or faster tends to weigh on their minds, as if they had to match automotive expectations. Magazine articles take shots at explaining, none all that comprehensive or pragmatic, usually skewed toward selling you something. Sure, appropriate apparel, bike fit, and riding style all figure, but none impact nearly as much as equipment you don’t maintain, excessive weight, hilly terrain, and prevailing wind. Each can be dealt with at little to no cost.

Eat smaller portions and fill up with veggies. Less you have to carry, faster you can climb, and more time you save. A wheel improperly mounted with rim rubbing on brake pads or frame stays will slow you to a crawl. Hydration prior to riding lubricates muscles before exertion leads to cramping. Likewise, a well oiled chain cuts friction. Commute route should be a loop with different legs coming or going that take advantage of breeze at your back, descents when you’re tired, or natural shelter of buildings, climbs, and trees into wind. Climbing is cardio, increases your vertical ascent per meter/hour (VAM) score, and speeds you along subsequent flats. Handlebar drops let you assume an aerodynamic position; mountain bikes have straight bars for better off-road control on tracks slower rode. Constantly feeling for the next gear combination that evens crank cadence and foot pressure will yield longer trips up to 2 mph faster.

Such efficiencies only trim minutes over a dozen miles or more, so consider beginning earlier. Best time will always be just before dawn, when traffic is light and sunlight reveals what's afoot. Racers may average 25 mph, but only on closed courses and empty roads. You can get all nerdy and plot distance over time versus economical tweaks, but trying to match peloton speeds alongside busses, cars and trucks is incredibly risky, not worth compromising safety.

Reminded of economist Laffer and his plotted curve that supposedly links maximizing personal earnings by minimizing tax collection, better described as the worst kind of junk science that nevertheless drives public policy. Reaganomics were irrevocably disproven over three decades when class disparities did instead worsen, as, of course, intended. Not only did it create a few billionaires, it devalued savings and undermined all wealth. Laughing up his sleeve on way to a bank, Laffer's scheme earned him a medal from Trump. Now you have to be at least a celebrity or millionaire just to stay alive an extra year and survive health system set up to dump you back into poverty.

Tired of lies and traffic? Adam Conover has a new 80 minute podcast. Turns out, all private motorized transportation, even electric vehicles, allow anonymity, amplify aggression, eliminate middle class, equip criminals, exacerbate impatience, and expand evil. Labann has only been saying this for a quarter of a century; maybe eventually folks will awake and react. A car occupies 9 times the footprint of a person on a bike, bus or subway. Although cars are all about making mobility effortless and faster, airheads who design them fail miserably on both accounts.

Driving a car potentially divides time to arrival by 20, except you’re forced to deal with costs, gridlock, parking, and rudest of cretins who will kill to clip seconds for a thrill or to fulfill a minimum wage role at an impatient mill. Walking is easiest except when crossing roads and increasing distance. Riding a bicycle accelerates walking by 5 times, only 1/4 as fast as driving, but minimizes effort and investment to more than make up difference, so rates as the most efficient mode of transportation yet invented. Allow for freshening up after working up a sweat. While bicycling and walking may not suit your commute to factory set intentionally outside city in some industrial park next to a highway, you may still be surprised at its seasonal practicality.

If noted philosopher Henry David Thoreau, father of American environmentalism, were born in this century, he’d be a proponent of bicycling. Back in 1850’s, he extolled the logic of self propelling to go anywhere versus earning a wage to afford trip by train. At the end of the day, you’ll have already arrived instead of waiting to be paid before you can buy a ticket next day or week. Some might have called him cheap or lazy, but he thoroughly foresaw how enterprise would exploit wage slavery and threaten natural world. Ironically, Walden pond is now accessible by bicycle, which was concurrently emerging from Europe while he withdrew from society and wrote his renowned observations.

Labann’s weekly commutes and fondos ranging up to 120 miles did add up: Six times earth’s circumference of ~25000 miles (40 million meters). Any avid non-racing cyclist rides one of which every decade, though should exclude early years until mid teens and late after seventy when call fades and trips shorten. Sweet spot falls between ages 45 and 55, after you've earned enough to afford and insure, when family no longer so directly relies on your contributions or presence. It’s when you might cover 65% of lifetime total, though ages 15 through 35 see more real racing and randonneuring. A new father seldom goes farther.

Mean age of world peloton? Hard to determine, but very likely late 20's. In Tour de France it’s lately 28.5; peak performance years are considered to be 22 - 35, though age has crept up with medical advancements. Male racers in USA - where every week there are club crits, cyclocross meets, or ironman triathlons - average 39 years old if you include 35+ masters division.

Not because they’re physically unable, to the contrary likely anatomically superior for task, women have a tough time keeping up when intimidated on streets by male mashers. Late actress Lena Nyman depicted such inter-gender discontent during a harassment scene in I Am Curious - Yellow back in ’67, over a half century ago. Coming from a dad, though, complaints command less cred. To convince must defer to Unladylike podcast with distaff hosts Caroline Ervin and Christen Conger, Huffington Post, and news sources. In fact, bicyclists fill a legal vacuum, more akin to forsaken pedestrians than motorists, not driving a crushing vehicle, so unaffected by traffic code. Since bicyclists always have the right of way over motorists, when, if ever, can they be “at fault” in collisions? Would have almost have to crash into a stopped vehicle; even then, amount of damage would be negligible except under extraordinary circumstances.

As if music from a pair of 27" ride cymbals with long sustain, seem to repeat spinning same prayer wheels in an unrelenting beat driven by a scatterbrain. Incantations and supplications supposedly make wishes follow through, though evidence has always been circumstantial and occurrence coincidental. Often you don’t know what to do, yet personal attempts are the most educational.