Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bagging Tisane

"Never create anything. It will be misinterpreted. It will chain you and follow you for the rest of your life.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

A basic flaw exists in writing exposes. Once you’ve assessed culpability and identified root causes, you’ve organized a scheme for anyone devious enough to apply it, thus leaving those you hoped to protect even more vulnerable. It’s akin to identifying defense cracks through which terrorists can attack. Almost better not to analyze, though ignorance will never be bliss, since natural curiosity and relaxed vigilance then lead to catastrophe. Failures can't always be avoided. Psychologists define insanity as repeating the same mistakes. Electorates desperately seek candidates who'll end their exploitation, but doesn't handing over power usually result in corruption and subjugation?

Bits of stories give pause for thought. A report said both conservatives and liberals average six figure incomes. Moderates seldom do. Makes sense: If you pick a side, you profit. If you reject partisanship and stay apolitical, you not only don’t get ahead but zealots stick you with the bill. Since middle class moderates are the majority norm, you’d think they’d organize against polarized despoilers. Instead of developing consensus, social media mostly goads people to act stupidly. Forums attract narcissists and sociopaths who only pose as leaders. Issues never get resolved because nobody really wants that. When all is said and done, more will be said than done, which dilutes potency of any message. More talk just isolates interested parties in confusion loops and distraction silos.

Along come tea baggers, who liken themselves to dead revolutionaries who dressed as savages and dumped tea into Boston harbor. Making noise about restoring rights, they represent a know-nothing message of simplicity. They substitute political tisane for real caffeinated agony. Like bad scientists, they are too willing to leap from gathered data to universal theorems. You can know facts that suddenly become meaningless, like details of buildings subsequently destroyed in an earthquake, or other things that once were which may not be worth revisiting. What they really don't want is to contribute to what government does with revenues, understandably, though they probably have no idea the extent to which American hegemony makes their lives so comfortable they can find time to act out fantasies. A dead end, all conservatism becomes a death spiral, leads to austerity, fewer risks, less investment, no sharing, reduced trade, and so forth. Conservatively progressive might be okay, not letting effective procedures lapse while continuously improving. That’s what world needs; could start with appliances and cars that weren't designed for obsolescence. Tried cycling instead, yet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's latest 10-year initiative, Improving Global Road Safety, in its automotive focus doesn't mention bicycles at all. You can’t waste resources without causing suffering. Paul and Peter ought to be done borrowing and lending.

Everyone has been hit below the belt by Bible or Qur'an (directly or indirectly), many sucker punched by Science or Scientology or Theosophy, and some smothered by sublime imagery of poets who, obviously, founded all religions. Billions know Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, and whatnot. Others are on a totally different wavelength of secret texts passed among insiders, who don't share with those who never read. You can't expect people with totally different customs to agree. Whole new ways of expressing oneself and perceiving reality were explored throughout the 20th Century from Kafka to Wittgenstein. But common consumers were mostly influenced by false advertising and political lies, so much so we get lame, vague discussions designed to classify and pin down threats to sanctified, stagnant conventions that won't work anymore. The seemingly endless vein of productivity upon which the powerful feed will run out eventually. Ideas "frightening odd" if "not necessarily hostile" don't bear explaining because they can't be handled by brains dependent upon their view in rearview mirror.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Snowbank Lain

Never too late to start bicycling; easy on old bodies and offers big benefits, says BBC. After 10,000 hours of pedaling around, guarantee you'll breathe better and lose stiffness after your very first ride. Frigid weather doesn't keep everyone inside, either, although snow removal steals your chances and wears you down. This winter more untapped cycling stimulus has lain in towering banks than crystalized rain. You can always tell when Labann hasn’t been riding; insights and poetry fall short of those an oxygen soaked brain would be generating.

The 19th Century physician Seneca Egbert recommended “cycling as a remedy for dyspepsia, torpid liver, incipient consumption, nervous exhaustion, rheumatism, and melancholia.” Does anyone still suffer from such fanciful maladies? Yes! Just their names have changed, respectively: indigestion, parenchyma, tuberculosis, adjustment disorder, joint pain, and the blues, for which they offer newfangled medicines that might kill you instead. Sometimes popular antidepressants increase suicidal tendencies. Better to prevent with a bicycling mood boost.

Speaking of aging, bicycle advocacy itself has supposedly grown up, according to Architecture Daily, now just another item in transportation planning in some cities. Opposition to cycling as a social panacea was inevitable. Lloyd Alters article in Treehugger exemplifies the platform for progress typically presented but usually ignored, that is, when it doesn't raise conservative hackles. Asking for 5 times more government spending? When current is zero, multiples send you nowhere. Cheap paint on existing pavement would address 75% of issues. Although cyclists ride in travel lanes, a reasonably wide shoulder can often be enough to provide a safe alternative when traffic thickens.

Alters may not be aware that most of these measures have already been included in USA's Code of Federal Regulations, which affect every city, state and town alike. Why they don't appear as existing infrastructure and haven't been enforced are easily explained: They were directed at public officials who'd rather regulate cyclists out of existence than restrict motorists in the least. Plus, no penalty for legislators, who never serve time and pass along federal fines to taxpayers. All they have to do is plead budget constraints, ignorance or inconvenience, and constituents shrug their collective shoulders. Everyone sees cyclists as second class citizens, even cyclists who've been browbeaten by abuse and neglect.

Egalitarian internet makes it hard to complain and contest. Labann won't contribute to moderated forums that don't directly allow everyone to join conversation in a timely fashion. Fact is, internet providers impose this upon site builders; they somehow assume you don't want a string of commercial spots, political plants, troll taunts, and useless drabble. But who monitors own website continuously? Labann would rather allow instant comments, but that's not how Google.blogspot works. Why blog, comment or troll anyway? Correspondents seek that small adrenaline rush of someone battling or validating their viewpoint. Unless you are very bizarre, you'll receive dislikes and likes, but more misquotes and misunderstoods. You only think you're addressing fellow intellectuals and literate readers; in reality, it's those who aren't smart enough to be doing something meaningful or profitable.

Most people don't know what to do or where to look. They make no ripple. Some wait for calm to skip a stone. The rarest of rare wade in and leave a huge wake in their chosen artform, discipline, or profession that's felt for days, decades, even millennia. The tsunamis among them were proclaimed emperors, pharaohs, prophets, Sons of God on Earth. Acolytes build cathedrals and pyramids to commemorate their influence and create artificial mountains frozen in time where lain relics can remain.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mezzanine Eyestrain

Critics describe certain movies as "coming of age". Therein, teens assume responsibilities, which represents their first step toward becoming adults and carving out freedoms for themselves. Beneficiaries might give doers who get things done a pass on restrictions.

When she released award winning film Wadjda (2013), director Haifaa Al Mansour broke new ground. It was a first for conservative, Islamic Saudi Arabia, where no feature film had ever been shot. Its title character, a ten-year-old girl living in a suburb of capital Riyadh, rebels against a society that sees bicycles as a danger to a girl’s virtue. She so desperately wants a green bicycle so she can beat bratty neighbor boy Abdullah in a race, Wadjda decides to raise the money herself. Critically acclaimed, will it one day wind up on list of Bicycling Films Not to Be Missed?

In a sex farce directed by Jeremy Leven, Girl on a Bicycle (2013), protagonist, a Paris bus driver, finally gets courage to propose to his frigid girlfriend, a flight attendant, when he meets love interest from title, also involved in transportation alternatives. Screwball mayhem ensues.

Other cycling films for 2013 include 4 documentaries. Alex Gibney's inevitable biopic, The Armstrong Lie, started out being a fan homage to Lance's 2009 return after a 4 year hiatus, but morphed into a self absorbed monster chronicling doping abuse and falling from grace. Haven't personally seen, but reviews were favorable. National Geographic aired Cycling's Greatest Fraud (Episode 14, July 16th), repeating allegations. How much improvement does doping deliver? Maybe 2%? What are margins of victory? Who should expect heroes and victors to be fair, gentlemanly, honest or perfect? Meanwhile, world's most famous cyclist, still an amazing if arrogant athlete who increased sales of bicycles and pharmaceuticals my hundreds of millions, has been negotiating a return to this grueling sport after being banished for life. Arrogant is he/she who urges a cancer survivor to act his age. Shifted by Matt Butterworth and Eric Marciniak, Virtu Media's first full length video, spotlights daredevil stunts on mtbs. It's a lot of big air, and not in a bad way. A Winter of Cyclists by Mike Predergast reveals what awaits fools who try commuting through Colorado snow.

In urban fear film Attack the Block (2011) director Joe Cornish reverses roles on a gang of teens who ride bmx bikes and terrorize neighbors into heroes who protect their block from alien invaders. Talk about growing up in a hurry.

Joshua Jackson plays a cultural tourist in Spain accompanying a bickering couple in Kevin Nolan's Americano (2005), which was mentioned in B&C but only recently found on DVD. After running with bulls in Pamplona, he hooks up with a beautiful actress, and the foursome ride borrowed bikes to her villa over a double span of bridge reflected in river and so resembles a bicycle. This extended scene, like the film, is propelled on a theme of freedom in life choices for those on the cusp of adulthood.