Friday, September 25, 2015

Literary Lindane

An average reader reads about 1 page, roughly 300 words, per minute. One would need 1,700 hours, 213 typical workdays, to read all of Labann’s output to date, more than 100,000 pages from 5 decades. Since it mostly featured boring industrial documents and technical manuals, nobody ever would. Did, however, expect an exclusive few to enjoy the most interesting bits, these 1,500 pages of blog posts and book, but found a better audience in business patrons, who actually paid for copy and read appreciatively. Can’t give literary art away. Makes authors grumpy and ill disposed toward society. Screeching pique sounds like squealing rubber on a dry street. Yet craving contact doesn't entitle you to waste weeks for whoever seeks to slake curiosity.

Ascertaining facts, making sense of chaos, and probing truths have no audience except enemies they’ll make who’ll use them against you, often elected officials, who figure winning a popularity contest frees them to pilfer. B&C might as well be called toxic waste. You’re wiser to dish out dirt, fiction, lies, and spin, for which you’ll be rewarded. A trap of sorts, success confines you to that for which you’re known. If you deviate from the servile role that community confers, you risk being cut off and dying from want. Even if you choose to live on next to nothing, basic necessities stateside still cost at least $12,000 per year. Ready to cash into social security and shut up permanently, why does Labann persist? Because social justice still eludes majority.

A popular, prolific artist might record 20 hours of music in an entire career. Frank Zappa defied fashion and produced 100 albums, 38 released posthumously. Japanese noise artist Merzbow (works include Cycle Parts 1 and 2) claims 400 recordings, many of which were recently collected into a 50 CD set. Bob Dylan composed around 1,000 songs with unique lyrics, not including covers and rearrangements, and recorded 47 albums, both live and studio. Greek chanteuse Nana Mouskouri, among world’s best selling singers, sold 200 million records with over 1000 covers in 8 languages. Only Beatles (275 original songs) and Elvis (700 singles) sold over 500 million records. In terms of albums, Elton John (29), Led Zeppelin (9), Madonna (13), and Michael Jackson (10) each sold over 300 million. Collectively, based on average length of CDs (60 minutes) and songs (3.6 minutes), that’s less than 388 listening hours, 16 full days. For content, quality beats quantity; for sales, grant the opposite. No telling how many living hours it took to lay down all those tracks; likewise, decades of experience called forth Bike&Chain, and decades of toil completed. Testament to how hard it is to demand attention and do anything remarkable, this 50-year effort represents a miniscule fraction of what gets accomplished globally by billions of hours of ordinary business annually worth $100 trillion. Pinnacles stand out from afar, but mountains have bases bypassed or shunned.

Nonfiction might act as a pesticide for corruption if you crack it open and spread its contents. Then, again, it might poison conversation and polarize opinion, as if there's not enough of that already. B&C always promoted balance and rejected extremes. Ingesting lindane, gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane (made from benzene, yet another petroleum derivative), a toxic insecticide EPA banned in USA but used throughout third world, causes birth defects and liver cancer, especially among the poor. Lindane lotion for scabies currently FDA approved causes nerve damage and seizures. A war with human collateral rages against pests. Beware of fruit that purports to be more wholesome than other foodstuff. Cucumbers laden with salmonella just had to be recalled after many got sick and some died. If, “Meat is murder”, Merzbow, what safer alternatives does mankind have? Unresolved issues plague mankind, put writers on the spot to expose, identify, and possibly solve.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Comedy Humane

Ben Sinclair, co-creater with Katja Blichfeld of television sitcom High Maintenance, appears in every episode as The Guy, a bicycle messenger who distributes marijuana throughout Brooklyn. Show’s name is a double entendre that describes both his business to maintain buzz and personalities fraught with ordinary dramas. Its message to decriminalize and normalize pot use naturally ignores border violence and turf wars that harvesting and smuggling entail.

Thousands die every year because users want to drown sorrows and dull pain. Yet another transference, typical of, “Better nameless foreigners die than we suffer,” how is that any different than Big Oil killing activists and lummoxes obliviously driving wasteful SUVs? Or sex trafficking and teens indulging in porn instead of being productive and earning for college? The net loss of tobacco after all profits is $200 billion each year, but smoking a related alkaloid-laden weed not so well documented likely costs more than users want to admit. Anyway, can you trust their suspect math?

Lapses seem innocuous until you calculate resulting losses. With cheap electronic access but no shot at being employed, you’ll spend months trolling websites and watching television, in either case, zoning into 15 minute clips between commercials, just enough time to get aroused and swell guilt. Childhood oppositional defiance leads to adult conduct disorders that emerge as casino gambling, road rage, substance abuse, and unread blogs. Who can call odd lifestyles meaningless? Everyone impacts everyone, what they do, or not do. Aggravation releases aggression into community, contorted faces of motorists trying to cut you off so they don’t have to share road with a struggling cyclist. Disgust turned inward might urge good deeds and grand activism.

Alaffia Soap fairly trades and focuses charitable attention on the plight of women is West Africa. It has collected and shipped over 6,300 bicycles to them. Turns out, odds are against them even surviving if they don’t complete school. Cycling enables them to make the long commutes from and to remote villages where most live in poverty. Hopes include democratic reforms in each dictator dominated country, economic justice, and gender equality. Things could be a whole lot worse. Be thankful and count your blessings. Just don’t expect gratitude when you impose aid upon others.

If comedy is the best medicine, why isn’t it prescribed by doctors? AMA and Big Pharma promote profitable dependencies. People seek conflict, not cures, as recent GOP debate argues. Analogies using “is” usually make no sense. They falsely assume parity between A and B, only a comparison, not an equivalency. Hard to be happy when others suffer much, or to suffer those stuck upon agreeable fluff, cheery clich├ęs, and inoffensive pap.

Saroyan wrote in The Human Comedy, “...there will always be pain in the world, knowing this does not mean that a man shall despair. A good man will seek to take pain out of things. A foolish man will not even notice it, except in himself, and the poor unfortunate evil man will drive pain deeper into things and spread it about wherever he goes.” Saroyan, an avid cyclist, knew that physical challenges involve pain, but repeatedly taking them on builds body’s stamina and raises pain threshold. Settling for convenience mostly transfers pain onto someone else in ways intentionally unexamined. Better to laugh off tragedies than prevent them? Does comedy acquit inhumanity?

Monday, September 14, 2015

All or No Thane

There’s an ancient Babylonian proverb, “God doesn’t deduct from man’s allotted time the hours spent fishing.” Wrong! Hate these homilies that persuade others to produce despite risks. Considered among world’s most dangerous jobs, commercial fishermen frequently drown and occasionally get mangled or murdered. Even recreational anglers accidentally die; there’s also a lot of sitting around and swilling beer, both of which shorten life. But substitute bicycling, and the saying might approach accuracy. Fatalities are few provided you successfully navigate traffic hazards. You get back the years you spent cycling by extending life expectancy (~3 more years, 26,280 hours, for only 6,000 hours of exercise). Consequently, you get to do physical activities and remain vital well into your 70’s. They also say, “In heaven all cycling routes are flat and smooth,” not that you're in any hurry to get there. Rolling landscapes, however, keep you humble by reminding you you’re only human. God is a cypher whose intentions lie far beyond any cleric’s ability to fathom. Why would God allow intolerance, slavery and war? Free will exercised irresponsibly could wipe out life on earth. Where's your towel?

Someone must oppose media’s relentless propaganda. On a “professional” forum originator posted a meme, “Like if you think Democrats are idiots. Share if you KNOW Democrats are idiots,” over a lewdly provocative image. Not a Democrat, was nevertheless offended and said so. This incited a round of name calling spawned upon sheer stupidity. “Libtard”, a portmanteau of liberal and retard, isn’t merely politically incorrect, it insults all intelligence, and maligns the developmentally challenged. "Con-holes" (John Birchers, Klanners, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists) persist using this label for anyone with whom they disagree, despite the fact that most people are moderate, sometimes conservative or liberal on certain issues but not others. Extremism causes criminal and mob behaviors. Exposing these terrorists invites death threats.

This epitomizes conservative aggression: Limit your choices, narrow your focus, twist your arm to get what they want. All or nothing is a logical fallacy; unlike objects, people and phenomena defy classification, live on continuums, range within limits, switch allegiances, and transcend conformity. Schoolyard bullies never grow up unless community unites against them. They badger and bait as sport, then sidle away when their victims commit suicide or die from mistreatment. Later, they become the domestic abusers and drug users that account for most police calls.

Fishing for dupes and peddling hate, the further you impugn, the further you push cretins to choose dirty, quick fixes. Predation pays so well, they have an entire news network with nonstop programming designed solely to manipulate those who don’t or won’t think for themselves. Conservatism will always be a vicious downward spiral into oblivion, although its core philosophy - grab whatever you can - is easy for dim-witted knuckle-draggers to grasp. Those in power know that lies repeated often enough become policy. Whatever government allows funnels revenue their way. Unfavorable laws may be overturned by executive orders, new legislation, popular opinion, or simply not enforced, like the Sherman Antitrust Act against their monopolies. They use advertising techniques to force people to believe in their self serving mantra, how Hitler got an entire nation to go along with his insane ambitions. Emperors still exist, but seldom emerge from shadows.

You don’t get to be nobility unless born to royalty. Once the next best thing was being decreed a thane, usually some warlord granted land and riches by a grateful king. No thanes are needed anymore. These days billionaires sidestep divine rule, use wealth to wrest power. Wanting to control the masses is a mental disorder. The few rich subjugating too many poor results in destruction, revolution and suffering. Stable societies have a predominant middle class. Oligarchies quickly collapse. People do and think whatever they want until convinced otherwise or incarcerated for breaking laws they never knew existed. Free thinkers figure laws deny freedoms from anyone despots see as threats.

How healthy is America and why should you care? Before Obama, joblessness hovered at 28%. Most Bush-era policies have been reversed, so economy improved among modest income families. Workers paying taxes fight tyranny overseas, foster innovation, keep aid flowing, maintain defense, and secure social programs. Bloomberg predicts another recession in 2018, usually recurring in 9 year cycles, if next administration doesn’t effectively act to maintain growth begun in 2009. Diversity of beliefs, cultures, and professions avoids downturns and promotes commerce. Cycling is surely another facet of a diversified culture, and, unlike motoring, frees your mind to reject what's wrong and see through inhumanity.