Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lost Breath Chasing

Book's Appendix covers many cultural artifacts, but none so intently as popular music. Many recording artists are or were avid cyclists. Cream's highly regarded 1967 album Disraeli Gears even got it's name when band's equipment manager made title malapropism when talking about shift components of Eric Clapton's bicycle. In Björk's award winning performance in Dancer in the Dark, her character Selma rides a bike as Björk does in real life. Check out this Icelandic chanteuse singing about evolution from oceans at the 2004 Olympics, like Cream's "Aphrodite on a crimson shell", more a pearl, spreading her billowing skirt over entire infield where salty sweat sweetens striving for gold, reconsidered for 2012 London games, at which Dame Evelyn Glennie, former Björk collaborator, presided percussively. Sirens of legend were probably barking seals, but spend any time at all listening to Björk, and you get what breath "carving deep blue ripples in the tissue of your mind" means, and why Ulysses desperately wanted to take goddess back to "the hard land of the Winter". Back when she fronted Sugarcubes, Björk sang of riding a bike to witness a "Motorcrash". Threads are interwoven into reality's fabric; whether causally or coincidentally, current or mythic, does it matter?

Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter pinpoints cycling's compositional attraction: the rhythmic cadence of breathing, heart pounding, and pedaling. Kraftwerk based much of its musical electronica including "Aerodynamic", "Man Machine", and several Tour de France related tracks on them. After more than a century, cycling remains an important Olympic sport. Ancient Phrygian dancers during performances raised feet (arsis) and treaded emphatically (thesis), tapping out poetic meter, as previously mentioned, but pedaling's 6/2 time is an odd, unthreatening tempo rarely applied outside classical compositions, and then only for certain halting measures.

What then makes music itself so appealing? Ditties, familiar beats marching through moments, and memorable melodies celebrate life's passages or comfort amidst chaos. Songs, no matter how challenging, are usually forgettably trivial and mercifully short. They can be ignored, relegated to background, tolerated, or turned off. Sung words smooth hostile edges of screamed messages. Radio hosts on self serving missions have irritating voices. Singing doesn't serve their purpose, to divert attention from criminals, enrage strangers, rearrange perceptions, and satisfy commercial and privileged sponsors. Music provides balance and balm for responsible sores where no escape exists.

Serves conservatives right to be picked upon unmercifully, since that's just what they do themselves: objectify prejudiciously. Anybody who has an opinion other than theirs is a "liberal". Leaves little room for anything from centrist to extremist which includes such varied viewpoints as anarchist, communist, fundamentalist, independent, majority of voters, moonbat, pagan, spiritualist, teabagger, wingnut and zealot. Conservative thought boils down to, "Let me do whatever I want, but you do what I tell you to," and can be characterized as ignorantly childish or inhumanely patriarchal. Panting reactionaries can't keep pace with change, don't realize they need not. You can be anything and espouse it, or you can observe something to examine it; both are legitimate. Latter provides objectivity, other lives passionately. Yet there's nothing so contagious as enthusiasm. Analysis based on facts bores. There's no book so dusty and ignored than irrelevant nonfiction, unless it's old poetry.

When people say they express TRUTH, they lay some religious or speculative opinion on you, not verifiable facts. Yet facts can be equally foolish. Researchers constantly revise history and science by discovering evidence and exposing lies. Once you die, hopefully you'll find answers, maybe the law of gravity repealed; it never was much of a friend in life, making hills harder to climb and stuff fall into cracks where it can't be retrieved. With metaphysics you can't perform repeatable experiments or prove anything. Neither can you positively verify events or testimonies. Despite forensic labs, murders go unsolved daily. Rationalists erect theoretical houses of cards knocked down by breeze of anyone breathing heavily or pedaling by.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bitten Tongue

Working in a vacuum is unhealthy. Errors creep in, go unnoticed, threaten truth. Challenged on a public forum, had to revise some figures cited, because billions spent over time unbelievably became trillions when you skip stating decade instead of year. Still, since 2000, USDOT did spend about $1 trillion dollars. If a dollar was a mile, that would be 10,000 astronomical units, 5,000 roundtrips to Sun, more than all miles of paved roads on Earth. You’d think a few hundred million meanwhile spent on bike paths and lane stripes would have cut costs and improved lives. How do you assess this impact? Did driven miles abate? Those “tons of accidents” never came to pass that naysayers predicted because more are bicycling. In fact, crash fatalities are falling. The more who use bikes instead of inherently dangerous cars, the fewer accidents occur, and less they must spend on potholes. Then again, economic recession would similarly impact cuts with fewer commuting to work, less elective trips, and so forth. Attempts to isolate causes and effects fail. Everything is inextricably intertwined, whence “The Butterfly Effect”, the postulate not video in which Ashton Kutcher dismounts off back of a fixie which continues like an arrow into a bike rack.

Have never heard of Poincaré Recurrence applied to vehicular traffic, but using chaos theory would be perfectly logical. Start point and what happens downstream affect conditions later. Traffic flow is randomly affected by building construction, commute times, recurring festivals, road resurfacing, transportation hubs, urban planning, and whatnot. If recession continues, as bridges collapse and highways close, traffic will retreat from multilane gridlock to something resembling local lanes of yesteryear. Engineers don’t study philosophical theories, even ones a century old. People retreat into silos of thinking, because knowing everything in even the narrowest of disciplines is practically impossible. Individual memories fade; progress tosses out historical reasons. Civilization depends upon countless collaborations continually operating upon consensus. Lawyers define a rule, practitioners comply, regulators monitor, supreme court calls it legal or strikes it down thereby completing circle and creating need for always reevaluating how and what you do.

Who can claim to know everything? Whatever you read is wrong. Knowing nothing is closer to reality. Facing unexpected challenges and surviving is the only talent that matters. Being an oracle only means realigning minds to truths before them. Each statement can be judged by its effect. When people instantly respond, it touches upon whatever they are already thinking, but who cares? Brilliant ideas or works sometimes take decades to radiate; by then, everyone accepts them as commonplace or commonsense. Giving up after impatiently waiting is way too easy. “Not doing that anymore,” is today’s epidemic, since everyone expects quality and no one want to provide anything resembling it. Excellent beats mediocre, but mediocre kicks incompetent’s ass.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Books Bile Green

“It’s not that easy being green,” famously sang Kermit the Frog. Henson had childhood self acceptance in mind, but these days everyone demands that you be GREEN, by which they mean proving reverence for nature and sustainable practices. Webecoist gives a crash course, but seems to forget natives were excellent examples of ecological stewardship ignored by grasping settlers with their Puritanical contempt for chaos and downtime. Previously mentioned a series of stamps, each of which urge you to reduce your environmental footprint; new “pedal, pedal, pedal” stamps (below) show adult racer, MTBer, teen and toddler forever cycling. USPS’s own losses of late stem from public’s electronic efficiency eschewing delivery.

Meanwhile, worst offenders, banks and multinational corporations, block any policy that might dent unprecedented earnings. As a result you give up meager comforts and shrink into nothing but a source of profits so rich get richer quicker and justify own wanton waste. In lockstep, Edward Conard’s “nonfiction” bestseller Unintended Consequences contends that labor can be sourced at $1/hour somewhere so isn’t worth more here. He neglects to mention that CEOs are ridiculously compensated, thousands of times beyond their contributions. Bootlicking delusions aren’t worth the day’s labor this despotic philippic costs. Economies only thrive within distributive justice.

Rivendell Bicycle Works owner Grant Petersen just put out a cranky, lanky title, Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike (Workman, 2012, 256 pp.) chock full of bad advice in a misguided attempt to demystify such simple concepts as dressing comfortably in cycling apparel, extending distances through equipment choices, and having fun on what is, after all, a torture apparatus. Cycling curmudgeon Petersen doesn’t mention that other countries weren’t built around motoring as was USA. Americans had to adapt to hilly long commutes away from city centers. Unless prepared to continuously relocate within walking distances of every new trendy employer, you’d do well to try whatever makes cycling work for you, Petersen’s options included. Racing may be a trap not supported by Rivendell designs, but streamlining a 4 hour bike commute can unlock cage of automotive slavery.

Not to be outdone, New York “Bike Snob” blogger Eben Weiss has another compilation, The Enlightened Cyclist: Commuter Angst, Dangerous Drivers, and Other Obstacles on the Path to Two-Wheeled Trancendence (Chronicle Books, 2012, 240 pp.). Bilious books recounting bicyclist errors rankle. How about motorists? There just isn’t any comparison; nobody dies if run down by a rider.

One dimensional people gravitate to some topic and spend rest of their lives stuck on it as if psychic flypaper. Literature appears to have same root as litter, which is what most pages resemble. Motoring ought to be left to certified bus and truck drivers, who, it seems, are the most malevolent and negligent drivers, respectively, behind wheels of deadliest vehicles.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quiche Lorraine

An eggy dish felt to be too wimpy befits a metaphor for ending with a whimper. Just as well; old blog ran out of headlines that made sense or remotely rhymed with book’s title, because this marks 4th and final year of free book offering. Being ignored hardly seems fair after writing so many unsolicited book reviews [will repeat some here]. Internet sites claim they’ll pay for articles, but just cheat gullible hopefuls. How much tepid content does planet need? Much rather express self unpaid than fight editors, petition courts for cash due, or restrict subject matter. Narcissists run open forums. When thought police arrive, parties die. Why ask permission to speak honestly and passionately? Should be an inalienable right. Complaints increase as you close in on truths.

Quiche isn’t but would be a germane brand name for a French handmade roadie. Guy Andrews drools over details in his coffee table hardcover The Custom Road BIke (Laurence King Publishing, 2010, 224 pp., 250 photos). Its unabashed porn of intimate macro images is nicely balanced by no nonsense copy of confident name dropping and well researched esoterica. Although your experiences might vary from conclusions presented, anyone who wants a break from clumsy Chinese imports and showroom readymades would be smart to read through attentively before finalizing next purchase. Have 45,000 miles on own handmade Italian without any more than routine maintenance. Regularly expect to replace cassettes, chains, handlebar wraps, tires and tubes. Decent forks, frames and wheelsets generally last longer than most cyclists care to go.

Was undaunted yesterday by a long bike commute despite being taunted by bad pavement,  distance of a metric century, fog, frequent railroad crossings, near misses with tractor trailers on narrow roads, and Thor’s rumbling threats while intersecting Oak Street. Unlike pleasure rides, you don’t have time to stop inbound for repairs or shelter. A couple raindrops will never equal next day’s aches in high thighs after pushing hard. Aspirin, rehydration, sleep, standing, and sweatpants all help. Calves once resembled 2 small boxes of heart shaped valentine chocolates, thighs post-and-beam timbers a foot square in cross section, but, as these seated scribbles betray, used to be in far better shape. Would definitely benefit from diet diligence and saddle time. Chase, Clymer, Hooper, Paine and Rush signed Declaration of Independence before bikes ever existed, so never realized what torture pedaling self-reliantly would become. Back then, people hardly ventured from their own villages, never envisioned metropolitan traffic. Cresting an overpass was grateful not to be stuck for once in crawling jam on highway below. Teeming humanity would fit better together if urbanity wasn’t surrounded by automotive shells.

Beaten eggs free of shells make a better food choice than cheap carbs, because you need protein to rebuild blood, cells, ligaments, and torn muscles. Spinach quiche at room temperature satisfies deliciously and nutritiously, especially with a whole grain pastry shell. Why doesn’t Food Network feature a fitness cooking hour? Probably prefer contests among fat cooks with whom viewers identify.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Geeked Again

June 2012 was the last month of freely shared Bike&Chain. Book is being edited into a single, smaller, tighter document. Best facts from blog will be rolled into book, but this new edition will only be available for purchase elsewhere, details forthcoming.

Book was originally published open source 4 years ago, which meant anything could be used without permission. Author asked for but didn't demand that he be credited. Henceforth, all content is copyrighted. Site remains, however, commercial free.

Geeks at Apple shut down Mobile Me, where content was hosted. All the effort of learning their front end, obeying rules, and staging content has to be repeated. Ever wonder why techies feel they must constantly  reorganize how things work? Can't increase cash flow in stagnation? Never get it right the first time? And they called Labann capricious when practically a fixed frame of reference in swirling madness by comparison.