Sunday, November 25, 2012

Illicit Gain

When transactions demand you bring your hunger, naivete and vulnerability—not common sense, community concerns, or learned reason—should you just walk away? Maybe you want to sow weeds rather than stay perennially relaxed and unscathed. Anyway, it's impossible to go through life without regrets and tragedies. You don't have to look hard to find pain; never doubt it'll find you. Anyone who listens to media will be hounded with pleas to act out of patriotism or personal values without considering the sacrifices. They dangle a given, expect you to buy in, then take advantage of your sin of omission to perpetrate some horrible crime in your name. It doesn't matter that you only agreed generally in principle; it's a deal with the devil, a wish with unintended consequences. Are concomitant protests oddly organized best described as boycotts or oppositional defiant disorder?

If you heed anarchist Adbusters and their Buy Nothing Day, ask yourself how you'd live without trade. Total self sufficiency is massively inefficient and materially wasteful, even though likely to refuse and reuse. You'll burn furniture to stay warm when logs aren't abundant. Stuff never made invites distress and wretchedness. Yet you don't have to kowtow to commerce, either, because legions of Black Friday shoppers willingly stand in line at all hours in your stead, as gruesomely skewered by Freedomain Radio. Activists against business aren't themselves eating less or eschewing durable goods or interstate transport to profitable speaking engagements; they only want to convince enough so their own lives will be easier, thus assuage their own guilt at your expense. What they should promote is one-for-all products instead of endless choices for the sake of ego and planned obsolescences that waste resources. Yet as materials get scarce, only a multitude of approaches keeps people working and things happening. How everyone survives matters. Anarchy and apathy end badly, whereas interdependency and reciprocity yield both equanimity and prosperity.

In Jim Carrey comedy The Truman Show (Peter Weir, dir., 1998) everyone beside Carey's character is a cast member on a "reality" television show in which Truman unknowingly stars. Many residents of idyllic island town of Seahaven ride bicycles. With nowhere far to drive on set, bicycling and walking are preferred. Show's popularity has everyone fulfilling ad placements and holding up products for sale with smiles. Mankind's factual inability to escape suggestions to slurp sugary beverages has resulted in an epidemic of diabetic obesity. Focus ought to be on natural wholesomeness, instead of synthetic yellow jerseys after which glory hounds lust.

In new novel Gold by Chris Cleave (2012, 324 pp.), best friends and Olympic rivals Kate and Zoe compete and emote, while Kate and her husband Jack, also a World class cyclist, contend with recurrence of young Sophie's leukemia. Triumphs over cancer sufferance, domestic duties, and potty training get devalued versus velodome achievements. Embittered by all she'd surrendered to pursue championships, Zoe berates her coach, "Your job was to sell tickets to the freak show, the same as everyone else." See a future chick flick.

Stakes for a star with special skills in winning self selected game seem almost too high to stand. Anything done alone for fame or to amass illicit gain brings anguish and chill, while instances when participants share normally cheer and warm.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Trek Profane

In Bob Mionske's article in Bicycling Magazine, innocent cyclists get tazed, unjustly accused by a road/roid raging constable, then vindicated in court after an unnecessary ordeal.

First off, incident occurred in political swing state Ohio, where absurd, even unholy events can happen, do, and dopes like Double-You get reelected. That's almost enough to explain it all. But Mionske forgets to mention prima facie evidence: You don't need a license to ride a bike, thus traffic codes never apply. Sure, you ought to be courteous always, but rude isn't yet illegal. According to the United States Constitution, nobody can technically restrict your right to self propel along any public thoroughfare. Yet they routinely do so on highways and interstates, ostensibly for safety's sake. Often there's no way across rivers except for highway bridges; how are you supposed to ride or walk to your destination? Cyclists forfeit convenience and time so motorists can speed along; any notion they ever impede traffic ludicrously opposes logic. Poor road design impedes all users alike. If you can't drive faster, it's your DOT's fault or God's will.

The Patriot Act allows officers to detain and question anyone, but surely sanity behooves them to target trucks and vans within which criminals and terrorists can hide contraband and loot, rather than cyclists, who anyone with the least intelligence can assess as innocuous at a glance and dismiss forthwith. In practice, enforcers instead take the easy route. Why not arrest some unthreatening crank for no reason, rather than pull over an armed driver in a huge tractor and search its 45 foot trailer for dangerous cargo after getting a judge to sign a warrant? Laws favor criminals and foster victims. In a complex world, control freaks want to revert to medieval standards of morality and obligations for everyone but themselves. Such tactics turn back the calendar on hard earned freedoms. Who says time travel is impossible?

English psychedelic rock band Hawkwind had a minor hit in 1972 with "Sliver Machine". Lyrics by Brock/Calvert were inspired by an Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) 'pataphorical essay "How To Construct a Time Machine", a device which resembled a bicycle frame of antimagnetic ebony brazed with copper. Song instead referred to own new silver colored steel racing bike.

This planet's 1 billion bikes are ubiquitous space-time machines, traits they share with pop tunes, but do they become invisible to relentless duration when riders freeze in a track stand or twirl around a velodrome? Temporal means both profane and timely. Trek might connote an odyssey or pilgrimage. Bicycling feels visceral and worldly yet often effects attitudes profoundly and spiritually. Bikes have gyroscopic elements, obviously extend lives and time in which trips occur, and thus warp reality in subtle ways as does electromagnetism, friction and gravity, each of which you'll directly experience on every ride. Cycling is sensual, motoring obscene. For short spells cyclists find themselves in innocent times, while motorists repeatedly seek to violate manmade and natural laws with impunity.