Thursday, April 2, 2015

In A Sand Grain

With snowless road shoulders still sandy, yesterday’s ride found 6” clear inside lines. That usually means motorists are violating lanes, though some could just be blowback by passing vehicles. It’ll be months before DPW removes, which saves a lot of time cleaning bikes and primping chains. Wondered what they’ll do with all this tainted detritus. Some looks reusable. Have paid serious money for 75 pound bags; only need to scrape and store for next freeze. Saw several flawless shoals nobody might mind seeing someone sweeping. Also found silver coins lost in snowbanks now receding.

William Blake famously wrote: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand...” The most insignificant things can cause pause for investigations into universal connections. A grain of sand in your shoe may physically irritate. Capitulations to conservative thought irritate learned sensibilities. These whores make a corrupt buck opposing alternatives to today's monetary policy that favors oligarchs. Money is a crucial tool that's wasted on dolts. Corporations only pay 1.9% of GDP in taxes, though some argue that personal taxes have risen to offset. It’s just another wrinkle in that trickle down scheme, a policy failure disproven repeatedly since Reagan begat it in 1980’s. BODs and CEOs never pay their fair share, so middle class earners bear all revenue burden. Bribed legislators exploit suckers with each bill addendum.

Often wonder what to believe. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s On Certainty uses “rider” as an addition or postscript:
607. “A judge might even say, ‘That is the truth - so far as a human being can know it.’ But what would this rider [“Zusatz” = addition] achieve?

624. "’Can you be mistaken about this color's being called green in English? ...‘No’. If I were to say, ‘Yes, for there is always the possibility of delusion,’ that would mean nothing at all. For is that rider [“Nachsatz” = postscript] something unknown to the other? And how is it known to me?”


A comparatively precise language, German for “bicycle rider” is “radfahrer”. Ignorantly trying to mimic Ludwig, Americans demote “a bicycle rider” to an afterthought. Riders are as green as unappreciated leaves, invisible, nothing at all, possibly a delusion, something to ignore or sweep aside, and unknown to stateside traffic planners, though valued by Brits [in this recent official report worth reading] and other Europeans. To Labann it's just a recurrent irritant. For those who say bicycling isn’t as safe as driving, it may be true in specific instances when bicyclists are given no quarter, though overall false, in all 20 times safer considering roads are empty 90% of the time and speeds averaging 12 mph aren’t likely to result in harm unless run over by motorists where shoulders don’t permit cycling.

Terrill Mast, Bike Ride [eam], Bike Ride, self, 2014, was inspired by a dangerous late night spin by bike, which resulted in a fractured arm and a renewed zest for life. “I can never let this be the end. I will do what I can to keep this always on a bike ride outside... I can not tell what is real, check the pulse and I feel... Alive!” Multi-artistic Mast also produced a bike sculpture.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reich Mortmain

Googled “bicycle” 4 years ago and got 83 million results, including Wallace Putnam's imaginative expression [shown]. Today it’s 247 million, nearly 3 times as many. Doesn’t this convince you of its popularity as a transportation alternative? In contrast, googled “car” and got 3.5 billion. Automotive is the 4th Reich. Fortunes are made dealing licenses to lunkheads, ignoring horrendous death toll, preserving privileges of those who abuse them, and squeezing sustainable options off roads. Sick capitalism consumes lives. Near misses, proportional to amount of traffic and lack of shoulders, though fun to gripe about are hardly worth mentioning and probably scare already timid cyclists.

Can you make any sense of conflicting statements in blogs and news? Everything they present has an agenda or backstory you can’t sort out. Wouldn't it be nice if people just said what they actually meant devoid of opinion? Since 99% of it is either deliberate lies or uniformed absurdities, why bother reading at all? You’re still liable for all your decisions - how to spend, what to do, or who to vote for - after seeking whatever evidence you can find, thinking about things with which you don’t agree, and worrying about unknowns. Nation’s policies and society’s rights revolve upon your resolve.

America is neither a democracy nor republic, but an oligarchy. When Moonie conservative broadsheet Washington Times broke this story a year ago, few paid attention, just as Labann’s like assertion over a decade ago. But prestigious professors published academic proof, then story was repeated in BBC, therefore, can you ignore? Nothing has changed much in 4 decades, though the level of propaganda has snowballed. “Rich getting richer” is the root cause of all ills, not just “money” as said since antiquity, since any stagnant mortmain, property owned in perpetuity, impedes cash flow and spreads panic. Currency serves as a uniform tool of exchange when trading goats would prove digitally impossible and extremely inconvenient. Meanwhile, schools close and remain off tax rolls, more costs the middle class must absorb.

Far from debunking economist Robert Reich, Tim Worstall tries to forestall inevitable revolution, the foremost fear of every Forbes reader. Maybe masses should accept an oligarchy assessment, since it’s an unstable form of government bound to collapse on its own. Historically, only constitutional democracies have legs. Humanity must find another way or things will definitely devolve. Vast divergences between have and have not mostly demotivate, whereas narrow gaps cultivate hope and provide incentive.

Many competent folks gave up seeking productive roles and trying to contribute to society, instead muddle along on entitlements, like social security, unemployment and welfare. Rather encourage entrepreneurs to develop industries that meet basic needs well into future, though policies crush such chances for success. For retirees and those who can’t afford the withering costs of car ownership, bicycles decently serve transportation needs. Bicyclists clog up less road space during commute hours, except when they decide to do so in critical mass protests aimed at asking, “Why were we forsaken?” not just on roads but throughout community. Is it any wonder they are tempted to disobey traffic codes?

“Oh, wheel of fortune, I'm hoping somehow if you ever smile on me, please let it be now.”— Kay Starr, Wheel of Fortune (#1 hit in 1952, not about bicycles)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cranking Alkane

Paraffin, an alkane hydrocarbon, has all sorts of uses. Besides lubricating bicycle chains, it’s an important ingredient in candles to brighten nights without electricity and crayons to express yourself creatively, as well as coming into its own as an organic phase change material (PCM) that stores excess energy. Besides its antibiotic and insulative properties, paraffin could multiply the efficiency of heat pumps, hot water heaters, and solar arrays. Someday all residential building codes will include passive energy collectors, since fossil fuels are finite, parrafin can be synthesized, and sun will always be the primary source of energy.

In 1931 compulsive inventor Thomas Edison said, “We should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy: sun, wind and tide... I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Good stewards would also explore fusion reactors and other sustainable technologies Edison never imagined. Meanwhile individuals could preserve dwindling oil reserves by bicycling wherever they can, thus extend humanity’s chances to innovate. But is anyone working on alternatives? Does government even promote them? Lately they’re funding research into the brain, not a moment too soon given how poorly it’s usually applied by Congress.

At tax time filers get a glimpse into the lame deductions they allow home owners for reducing resource depletion. A few hundred is hardly incentive for installing a high efficiency water boiler or heater. You only get one chance to save taxes in your lifetime for converting to cleaner fuel or insulating your home, though half of Americans move every 5 years according to the US Census Bureau. This lukewarm support for energy conservation comes as a result of Big Oil bending Congress to its will. Under enlightened governments, energy policy is considered too important to be left to private enterprise. In the United States, however, corporate manipulation and federal deregulation rule. Consequently, basic utilities of cable, electric, gas, gasoline, heating fuel, and phone often cost collectively as much as income and property taxes which you falsely believe you’re paying to keep those other costs low. Bizarrely, most taxpayers and voters are well aware, yet continue to tolerate, since revolting against would require organizing, something averted by conquer-by-dividing rhetoric routinely spewed by conservative media, who “bypass skeptical reporters and wage an around-the-clock, partisan assault on public opinion... cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism.”

Lately have been pondering Juvenal’s rara avis, metaphor of black swans, and Taleb’s Silent Risk. Have yet to think it all through, maybe never will. Ideas and inventions can become game changers, unpredicted events that upset best laid plans worse than a slipped disc. For example, new e-commerce sites provide myriad services without equipping vehicular fleets or stocking any shelves, though quality may suffer and randomness likely mount. Emerging uses for something as basic as paraffin suggests that humans haven’t fully comprehended all that nature provides, have squandered all sorts of opportunities, and ought to reevaluate benefits of old methods, like bicycling. Even a blog that attempts to demystify complexities could become a beautiful swan (Saint-Saens played on a bicycle pump) grown from an ugly duckling (The Bicycle Thief Bob Forrest). Bikes do make life better (light mural at Pershing Square, Los Angeles in 2011), if only to sort issues by priorities to avoid waste, ensure future, and secure rights.