Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Moral Moraine

If personal morals fall by the wayside - like a glacial moraine of powdered rock and rolled boulders that bicyclists, geologists, and property owners are prone to ponder - what hope is there for an ethical society? Communities abandon homeless and hungry, religious congregations scatter, motorists run down the vulnerable, and scribblers who promote greed succeed. Virtue used to be its own reward. Morals are self defined. Ethics allow individuals to follow own codes of conduct, not merely submit to self exploitation, stone wall isolation, and unexamined convention. Neither can you force yours on others, only suggest that activism, altruism, intelligence and tolerance are in their own interests. Today’s leaders and successful followers work overtime as examples of what not to do, so you have your work cut out for you. Your only audience spends all its time avoiding harm by blindly toiling in a sandy ant farm.

Worry that kindness might lead to overpopulation. Earth can hardly support 7.4 billion humans, while life expectancy creeps ever closer to 80 years on average. Then remember that insatiable simpletons have more insupportable children than intelligent sophisticates. Education could be a key. Cartesian perspicacity and consequent sagacity lead directly to ZPG. Affairs between homosexuals or with postmenopausal crones produce none. The elderly eat less yet require services, so an aging population represents more opportunities than threats. Vegan food can be grown in hydroponic soilless gardens indoors built safely atop toxic brownfields, thereby quadrupling yields and recapturing forsaken space through government grants. But instead of adopting local, consumers are bullied by policy into buying imported. Transportation generates more jobs than any other sector, but wastes dwindling resources faster than rest combined. With states not proactively addressing groundwater contamination and reservoir strain, a lack of potable water still looms as hugest threat to humanity, though legal mandates to produce at point of use make too much sense.

Chances to earn exist, but you must expect less and manufacture them yourself. Innovative entrepreneurs diversify and thereby strengthen economy. Can’t rely on existing companies, corporations and mills anymore; most are run by multinational conglomerates recording record profits despite foreign threats by exploiting least paid workforces. Because debt-strapped millennials still living with parents produce art and books for free, only a few remarkable professionals have a chance to earn anymore. Quality deteriorates when phenomenal exponents get ground down and give up. It’s no wonder engineering declined and slavery returned. It’s almost too easy to oppress masses when producers ask for nothing and can’t be bothered with marketing. When policies create economic depression, those in deep valleys of despair abide bondage for food and shelter, or grab whatever they can from the craven and weak.

In terms of insect fear films, greedy people and needy sheeple resemble THEM! Giant ants would ruin your picnic. Between self serving reactionaries and starving anarchic revolutionaries, most would elude the latter, favor the former, yet find vast majority resides in the middle fulfilling mankind’s demands. Capitalist icon Adam Smith himself agreed that the rich “spurn the most basic standards of moral conduct”, because their esteem derives not from good deeds but jealousy of those less fortunate. Angry moderates seem to have no say until they speak en masse. Anger and hate are easily comprehended, evoked and exploited. Machiavellian leaders thereby deflect wrath from themselves and pit the poor against the middle.

Nursed on conservative Kool-aid since birth, Cameron Huddleston offers advice on how to get rich. It comes down to change your attitude, don’t hate money, pull yourself up by the bootstraps. All you have to do to join ranks of 1% is make a half million a year! Easy, peasy! “Make efforts to improve your finances because your don’t want to get kicked out of your social group.” But money amassers have no friends, only feckless disciples and vicious rivals who’d rejoice if they fail. Having money or owning property entail becoming a target for every scammer and schemer on planet. Can’t Fox News come up with anything less repulsively self serving? Who buys propaganda and self help books loaded with such malthusian drivel? LaMonte Fowler dispels every myth they use to connive and inveigle. As a nation USA remains world’s bigger producer surpassed only by a combined European GDP. If you likewise included Canada and Mexico, North America would easy surpass economy of every other continent. So? Gave Americans a chance to be the most generous nation on the planet.

Who is more repulsive: a casino billionaire who built an empire on bad habits and human misery or the mindless minion with whom his mean message resonates? Monarchists, oligarchs, theocrats, tyrants, and wealth hoarders on top pitch the empty promise of conservatism nonstop. When you have nothing but a rational mind to think things through, equal distribution and liberal communion sound better. Billionaires become a barrier, make your life miserable, slow flow of resources. Amassed wealth impedes everyone else’s ability to earn, survive even. They give none away, the only reason to amass in the first place. Buffett and Gates each vowed to direct billions, some fraction of net worth, toward problems for which they can’t claim blame. Why not punish, squeeze or tax those actually responsible? Banks don’t let your deposits work for you anymore, instead make risky loans in order to wipe out investors in small businesses that inevitably fail, costing jobs and property. Worth doesn't disappear, just slips into hidden pockets. Laugh at anyone whose line is, “Give it to me and I will ensure those in need receive.” What’s wrong with meeting own needs and salting away a bit for family’s future? Worked for millennia. Oh, yeah, ego. Lording affluently over others means everyone must value owning excess as you do, the national obsession and only patriotism. Accordingly, lives are wasted, souls are bought and sold, and taxes are misappropriated. Gives award winning luster to such revolutionary hacks as Mr Robot and V. They are the mirage of, “Just hang on a bit longer, some hero is bound to arise.” You personally decide and realize the future by what you allow, consume, fund, support, and work toward.

After too many rejection letters to count, Labann labors toward the day when this zero sum game ends. Then just one will have it all, money will cease to mean anything, and playing field will again level. Banks will have long since collapsed, insurance houses closed, nonprofits ended, and Wall Street tumbled like Jericho, thus doing humanity a favor. A barter economy will prevail among survivalists. Wealth has never been an honorable goal, rather an unused tool to promote ethics. They give no prizes for being biggest borrower or having highest net worth, though all awards are skewed to those whose work made millions for the already too rich. Achieving, earning, and saving are supposed to permit individuals to seek out hardships and share as desired, not gatekeepers and third parties, who only decrease dividends, hinder turnover, and maneuver profits into own pockets. They act more like rotten parasites than trusted advisors.

Instead of admiring huge stockpiles how about redistributing them to doers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and visionaries? To assuage guilt, Federico Pistono and Rutger Bergman would give everyone alive a base stipend. Welfare? You can’t build fortunes without it. What else can you call business bailouts, farm subsidies intended to keep groceries scarce and prices high, and, worst of all, tax breaks for highest earners and one percenters? By policy, money flows everywhere except towards the dwindling middle class, because they intentionally want to cripple those who’ll fight to hang onto home and land ownerships and voter rights, though it’s said that if voting mattered it wouldn’t be allowed. SNAP and TANF enslave recipients, who have to first divest themselves of property to qualify, while benefits have fallen by 20%. Could you live on $5/day, that is, $7,300 for the typical family of four on relief? In all but 3 states that doesn’t cover shelter, never mind food, no free ride. Neither can the average $27,000 per year household with two minimum wage workers, only $10,000 above FPL, get by. Giving $500/month would not overcome poverty, the #1 health hazard and root of most crime; feds currently draw line at $11,600/year, so it would barely get you half way. But tax free and unconditional grants would stimulate economy and work out for homeless wretches.

Battle can be defined simply: Better versus worse. Decent people want everyone to succeed and survive, but not at their expense or initiative. Otherwise, problems become difficult to remedy, prisons get filled, and tax burdens escalate. Businesses are busy getting leaner by cutting their number one expense, salaries. Too many bellies vie for resources to avoid someone going hungry. Rats who run sly networks promote disparity where deprivation, famine and pestilence visit majority. How society treats constituents was never their intended content. How a caged gorilla had to be shot to protect a three-year-old child is, with debaters condemning or supporting action taken, thereby devaluating human life. Issues of substance don’t entertain masses, so news media lose focus, neglect detriments of wealth, and report nothing that affects your livelihood.

Nobody sane would disagree that gravity attracts. But act and write with gravity and you’ll attract nobody. Bicyclists weigh heft every time they pedal uphill. You’d do better to heed the ever present hum of chaos with which most people can identify. But if that’s all you can do with freedom, for which forebears died and soldiers put their life on the line every day, why invest countless lives and trillions of tax dollars on such an unsatisfactory option? If you comprehend chaos, you may find your angel amidst mayhem. You'll earn no pass for being kind, just the opposite. Decency attracts opportunists, punks, sadists, and thieves who'd cruelly use you. The more you care for others, the more heartache you'll embrace, thus growing stronger to face ever more emotional challenges, quite a bit to contemplate on your next long bike outing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Next Hurricane

With cyclonic season officially entered, nothing weathers whirlwind days hunkered down without electronics, or otherwise lounging on beaches away from plugs, like a printed book. Several worthwhile choices include:

Brent Kitching, A Bicycle Without A Chain (iUniverse, 2016, 332 pp.). Just out, biographical novel pits chasing capitalism against cultivating a higher consciousness. Oh, my!

Buzz Ponce, A Long Ride Coming: How the Struggle of Losing a Parent Led to a Bicycle Journey Nearly 50 Years Later (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016, 336 pp.)

Cristina Spínola Taller de Felicidad (The Workshop of Happiness, self, 2016, 87 pp.). Author describes adventures of a woman touring Latin America alone by bike.

Daniel Shea and Jeremy Withers, editors, Culture on Two Wheels: The Bicycle in Literature and Film (University of Nebraska Press, 2016, 366 pp.). Well anticipated accessible set of scholarly essays follows the 125 years of evolving symbolism that this "favored ideological steed" conjures. Shea’s own covers Ai Weiwei’s famous bicycle sculptures.

David Herlihy, Bicycle: The History (Yale University Press, 2004, 480 pp.), Previously mentioned his The Lost Cyclist. In The Guardian, Rob Penn recently gave a Eurocentric top ten of books about bikes, which included Herlihy’s History and others hitherto overlooked. How can it be that Kent Peterson’s best list on Outside Online, except for Herlihy’s, is completely different?

DK (Dorling and Kindersley), Bicycle: The Definitive Visual History (Penguin Random House, 2016, 256 pp.). With a magazine approach, celebrates commerce, designs, makers, and racers from graphic, journal and published evidence.

James Runcie, Grantchester, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (Bloomsbury USA, 2012, 400 pp.). In the mold of Chesterson’s character Father Brown, sleuth/vicar Sidney Chambers rides a bike around Cambridgeshire in 1950’s England while solving crimes. Made into a PBS series for Masterpiece Mystery!

Jobst Brandt, The Bicycle Wheel (Avocet, 1993, 150 pp.)

Mike Magnuson, Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180 (Three Rivers Press, 2005, 252 pp.). Highlights losing weight and regaining health through self propulsion.

Travis Hugh Culley, The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2001, 352 pp.)

Blue Bicycle Books, a shop located in Charleston, South Carolina, hosts a creative Summer writing camp for kids to get them into good habits.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Prefer Plain

In a medium preoccupied with comic book heroes, nice to recount a smattering of films that focus on how ordinary people without superpowers interact, although in each cited case things end badly and viewers aren't nervously overexcited. No preference for Amish plainness, only considering how much mayhem is usually associated with fast or flying vehicles, which seem to cause or enable all that goes wrong in life and most films. Creeping infants weren’t born with motors or wings; it’s plain that many can’t handle them anyway. More have died on roads than fallen on battlefields, yet no memorial day is observed for accident victims.

Remember Me (Allen Coulter dir., 2010) depicts rich, spoiled protagonist Robert Pattinson (Twilight Saga), who chases love interest Emilie de Ravin, drifts around NYC leaning on a fixie with a massive chain and lock, and learns how to value every minute of life in a world where suicide terrorists abruptly end many.

German thriller Das letzte Schweigen (The Silence, Baran bo Odar dir., 2013) has two 13-year-olds on bikes being murdered 23 years apart in same wheat field.

In The Judge (David Dobkin dir., 2014), film industry’s highest earning star Robert Downey Jr plays a big city defense attorney bereaved of his mother. While back home in Indiana countryside, he revisits old habits, including rebelling against his dad the judge and riding his old Panasonic steely 10-speed no hands, which quickly results in catching a soft shoulder and tumbling headlong. Gives Iron Man new nuance.

Teen waitress Gethin Anthony controversially guides Canadian visitor Frederikke Dahl Hansen by bike through Copenhagen (Mark Raso dir., 2014) on a search for his grandfather.

Cyclique (Frédéric Favre dir., Switzerland, 2015) watches three young adults struggle with their choices to be freewheeling bike messengers instead of exploiting selves as desk jockeys.

The Commentator (Brendt Barbur, 2015) is a recent documentary on Jorgen Leth’s 1976 Paris-Roubaix coverage and Kristof Ramon’s race photography, with a new soundtrack by NYC’s band Blonde Redhead.

In biopic Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle dir., 2015), Apple Founder Jobs (Michael Fassbender) supported by Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) take on a vision to connect everyone electronically despite unprecedented challenges. There's no bicycling per se, mostly backstage emoting, but toward the end flashbacks depict Jobs inducing CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) to desert soft drinks for digital future. Says Steve, "The most efficient animal on the planet is the condor. The most inefficient are humans. But a human with a bicycle becomes the most efficient animal... The right computer will be a bicycle for the mind." Labann, as an early computer implementer, directly based B&C upon this mindset right down to composing paragraphs like internet surfing, only using personal memories uncorroborated by exocranial research.

Not going to begin to enumerate bicycling scenes shown by Bollywood, since Abhimanyu Mishra already did for the Times of India. For example, Bombay film Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (How Alexander Won, Mansoor Khan dir., 1992) is a Hindi version of Breaking Away with rival teens cheating and substitute hero nevertheless winning by stooping to same tactics. You can even be the hero of your own movie, according to Joe Rogan and several others, though it means little with ridiculously low standards and suits delusional egomaniacs best.