Sunday, October 28, 2012

Biogenic Sovereign

Funny how nature bounces back no matter what vicious scars humans leave. Ever consider fuel cell, rechargeable battery, or rotary hub power sources for your bike headlights on Winter commutes? Fear Fall hurricanes caused by climate change? You won't personally make any impact. Late comedian George Carlin reminded the pretentious, "The planet isn’t going anywhere. We are!" Yet why preserve corruption of production where billionaires hoard and hordes abide? Blind leaders and ignorant followers invite mutual destruction. Mankind can't continue imposing its will upon the Earth, too expensive and wearisome, so nature rebounds in crazy ways.

Carlin was tired of, "Self-righteous environmentalists... bourgeois liberals, who think the only thing wrong... is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths," which typically resurrect foresaken rail beds. Railroads, then highways, cut off animal migrations and cyclist routes. Eventually, animals get around such impediments, and instincts genetically stored over millennia take over. Remember pedaling along one at dusk, then, flicking on headlight, saw hundreds of glittering eyes. Upon approach critters slunk away indifferently. Indicates amount of animal displacement due to human ingenuity is disarmingly marginal. Nearly ran over a slow skunk the size of an ottoman. Wrote of seeing deer crossing suburban interstates. A few years later that became urban, along with bears and cougars near rivers and similar pockets of unused property. Moose to mouse, animals retake whatever territory people don't directly despoil daily.

Fauna rely on flora as superior reclaimers. Often pass a feral side road covered in vines that have almost enveloped billboard size signs. Business is still there, but you have to access through a back entrance; suppose they gave up trying to keep curbside gate clear of vegetation. Imagine gardeners working weekly with machetes and stumpers. Bamboo, bittersweet, kudzu and wisteria destroy buildings, pavement, and stands of trees as they spread, while noxious weeds crowd out and steal nutrition from food crops. Forebears uprooted every tree they could when wood was the choice of fuel; society today seems determined to suck dry every gas and oil field. Biomass renews; a generation later trees again outnumber vertebrates by an extremely imbalanced ratio. Takes millions of years to compress organic matter into crude, however.

Majority that vows allegiance to oil will soon be betrayed by dwindling supplies, rationing, and total economic collapse. Humans will still have hands and legs to do and go. Conveyances, power tools, and vehicles merely sped them along. A bicyclist can be fueled on a bowl of rice or burger made of game or veggies. Few appreciate that microorganisms ultimately generate all energy and sustaining chemistry. Planet is a garden mankind was born to tend. Plastic literally means flexible. Any viable future demands many alternatives, all of which recycle wastes and none of which unduly strains supplies. Natural models rule everything alive. Nature conclusively and repeatedly demonstrates that diversity is key. Those who think differently should to be tolerated for diversity's sake, something closed minded conservatives can't seem to accept but might live to regret.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blown Acclaim

Appears the only pelaton racers who weren't doping were the ones who never won. Who cares? On Fall rides, the air sometimes smells of sour grapes. Lance was a particular disappointment to fellow cancer survivors and Livestrong followers who felt he shouldn't have taken risks that might have threatened remission or tax-deductible donation. Maybe it's the opposite; after loading up on chemotherapy, doping seemed comparatively milquetoast. Isn't the mission always to succeed at all costs? Or survive to fulfill some purpose? Dopers are pushing themselves hardest, beyond sanity and training to a whole new level, Russian roulette on a wheelset. How do you define "hero"? Results? Do you have to perform timidly in handcuffs? Even Houdini had tricks.

Rumors has it UCI was complicit in a doping coverup. If so, they roll a fine line when enforcing any ban or title withdrawal, which might involve a fiery back draft. You can't prove anything that nobody wants proven. Belief seems to require human sacrifice and impossible resurrection.

Safer to do, say or want nothing, because champions must fit preconceptions, give up self, and handle inquisitions. Why do critics denigrate adverbs? Denigrators don't like to have verbs qualified, rather do than do carefully/fairly/politely/ steadily/well. Attitudes and details live in adjectives and adverbs, reveal what writers loathe, think, trust and value. Nouns are practically interchangeable lumps, verbs no more than abstract gestures, winners statues without flaws. In processions of Roman Triumph, a slave held a golden wreath over head of imperator while whispering in his ear, "Fame is fleeting. Life is short." How it's done trumps what was accomplished. Nobody knows why, not even person who does it, likely some conditioned response or unexamined instinct. Whoever gets credit probably doesn't deserve it. Blame, liberally distributed though usually undeserved, hounds any achievement. Posterity judges whatever you do. Why consider consequences when you never know what they'll be? Acclaim belongs mostly to those who train in perpetual obscurity.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yikes! Job Bane

Cycling has a critical downside: tired downtime. You could fill it watching a presidential debate. Offers ideas to digest during next ride, because pedaling itself is the last thing anyone wants to dwell upon on a 20 mile commute; it's a job in itself, although work seldom entails so much fun yet usually pays more. Who's idea was it to tie compensation with survival?

Should you vote for a suddenly moderate Republican because: a) He says anything you want to hear and willingly promises prosperity with no intention of delivering? b) Nation doesn't but ought to exercise its clout globally? c) Terrorists controlling airwaves cannot live in a manner befitting their massive arrogance without totalitarianism? d) Things aren't improving fast enough to suit you personally? e) You must fear self fulfilled prophecies and unseen threats that conservatives create? Sounds like a desperate plea to suspend reality. Anyone who entertains such malarky forfeits their freedoms. One could argue that Bush tax breaks eliminated jobs; there's no evidence they produced any. Tax cuts do effect economy but don't speak to fifty million unemployed. "Government doesn't create jobs..." domestically; they are too busy handing out aid to rest of world or rewarding millionaires who offshore opportunities. Worse is this obsession to get everyone to produce; haven't manufacturers already depleted all available raw materials? Positions they'd create would mostly be unpaid. Who can even survive on minimum wage? Of course there's a recession; it predates current administration and was created intentionally. Inflation has only occurred in protected or subsidized industries, notably oil. There's plenty of wealth to spread around, but the few who have the most clearly won't share fairly with those who might successfully compete with them. You cannot subjugate healthy, imaginative, smart people. To seize control you must build weapons, cut educational funding, dumb down, erode strength, and generate fear.

Bike&Chain exists because no one person can figure everything out alone. Self reliance only means successfully harvesting surplus and working cooperatively. The scientific method, around since the 13th Century, yielded substantial results through a cumulative amassing of knowledge among a chain of researchers. In each generation volunteers step up to record observations, test hypotheses, and verify findings. Tons of tiresome details confirm simple truths. People are calmer when they can look on Internet and obtain factual answers. Nothing said during this election cycle can be fact vetted, because it's only opinions and personalities. News analysts are sadly reduced to playing back what hypocrites previously said to refute later fiction and rhetoric. Candidates are job applicants vying for a role as public servant, but expect voters to elect them king with unlimited powers to enslave. Sorry to inform: Application rejected.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Books & Shame

Lately one notices many books and films related to cycling. Not much interested in chasing pelaton; rule out 90% of them. After decades of knee abuse, Stryker's eccentric wheel ad commands more attention despite its nonsense. There's a silly biking sequence in this year's ornithologist comedy "The Big Year" in which a trio competing to observe the most different birds go wherever vagaries of weather increase chances for sighting rare species. On location in Attu, North America's most Western Aleutian Island, they huddle in hovel then hurry off on beater bikes upon each new rumor. Leave it to Steve Martin to bash bikes again. Just out, director David Koepp's bike messenger action flick Premium Rush may be too tired a plot after "Quicksilver" and seeming countless dirty cop shows, none of which accurately depict reality. It leaves you looking for cultural statements with a shred of authenticity.

In her new how-to guide Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards entitled 1st chapter, "Drawing and the Art of Bicycle Riding", not surprisingly. The very first exercise they give freshmen at a certain prestigious New England art college is to draw a bicycle, because it immediately reveals all of a student's flaws and strengths. But that's not what Edwards was after, instead comparing how someone who's teaching cycling will mount bike her/himself to show what needs to be done. Drawing teachers seldom mimic this hands-on approach, either out of ego or inability, lest they be outdone by those they're supposed to instruct. Learning to draw well really means learning to perceive everything, negative space to positive edges, things all cyclists intuit just to stay alive.

Suzanne Joinson's audiobook A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is a fictional account of two sisters who become missionaries to China about a century ago, one with a real calling and the other with aspirations to be a travel guide writer. Notice neither ever expected to become physicists, politicians or such careers still closed along gender lines. Even the percentage of women graduates among computer scientists has fallen drastically. Conservatives prefer them in their kitchens, possibly what they mean when they say they want jobs for everyone.

Aili and Andres McConnon's Road to valor: a true story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the cyclist who inspired a nation (Crown, 2012) is a biography of cycling great Gino Bartali. The 1st half of the 20th Century was the heyday for cycling, when people still pedaled more than motored and tested the limits of human endurance. Bartali, a devote Catholic who discovered his own natural talent and laughed at cold, mud, rain and snow on twisty mountain roads, was divided like Christ's cloak by clinging church, fans, fascists and nazis as a hero. Evidence demonstrates he aided resistance fighters during World War II, that black hole for cycling careers, before making the greatest comeback in Tour de France history. By 1950's fickle public no longer doted on cyclists as if rock stars. NASCAR and other sports had become bigger attractions for foolish betting and idol worshipping. Champions are still fueled by arrogance, ego and pride, much like Nazi ideals. Mechanization proved a wartime advantage. Bikes do free youths from apron strings to conquer horizons, but it would be a shame if they contributed to Hitler's horrors. Bartali would have none of that. Climbing mountains and enduring pain teaches balance, compassion, and humility, not to take everything too seriously.