Monday, July 27, 2015


Keep Left or Right, so, divided, they can dominate, exploit you, stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

Bicycling may be pure evil; quiet repetition affords a chance to ponder what’s gone wrong and summon balance. Talk show callers and hosts unleash their hideous idiocy on unthinking listeners. They promote conservative candidates, especially that spoiled hotel tycoon, who’s nothing more than an ill tempered buffoon who panders to the witless who’d lash out against the guiltless. Being cleverly rich among the ignorantly poor must be maddening, something majority will never know. What the gullible don’t get is that the issues that fuel their frustrations were instigated intentionally for that very purpose. In the unfounded opinions spun by media mugs you don't see how they merely transfer public funds to a few thugs. Congress is already so dysfunctional and constituents so divided that impeachment proceedings and movements to recall are not only counterproductive but impossible. If not, you’d personally be to blame for letting the powerful manipulate and suppress you. Banking regulation, financial security, immigration reform, job creation, national defense, social justice, and whatever you believe would make life better you can achieve, not through divisive politics, but through sensible cooperation, serious discussion, and thoughtful examination of issues.

The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into... two camps.” Pope Francis, Holy See, 24 September 2015, Address to Joint US Congress

Methods exist in recently coined terms: crowdsource (individuals soliciting community for funds to accomplish mutually desirable goals) and collabortrain (individuals cooperating temporarily on projects, then regrouping or repeating subsequently for a string of accomplishments). Neither are new, rather more insightful names for what humans historically do over lifespans. Both may equally fail or succeed depending upon how and who pursued, and what success means to you. Stock market IPOs are formal crowd-sourcing, as likely as not to pay dividends. Churches and nonprofits accept a donation to provide open source information, but still serve own agendas. Musical groups dissolve and their members reform into other collaborations leaving a train of dismal misses or soulful hits. Cycling teams help leader excel on tour stages by water carriers sacrificing selves to chase down breakaway rivals, how Team Sky delivered latest Tour de France win for Chris Froome. A team collaborotrain creates a voluntary slipstream to preserve star’s energy for a final victorious sprint.

Crime, prostitution, slavery, and suffering derive from fear, personal greed and power lust. A caring community can eclipse even the worst natural disaster, how species survived for countless millennia. Globally about 100 trillion USD are turned over each year, that is, gross world product (GWP) in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP); this equals ~$14,300 per capita, every adult and child on earth, just enough to live upon no matter what nation you happen to live in. Few get a fair share; many fall from middle to lower class, or poverty into slavery, with wealth inequality beyond widespread familiarity. Where does it go? Take one vice, tobacco: Smoking’s annual net loss in USA alone after profits amounts to $200 billion. Compound this with CEOs making 380 times the lowest paid employee, corruption in office, exorbitant taxes, lack of exercise, motorists violating code, opiate abuse, organized crime, and whatnot. Bad behaviors and wasteful choices absorb most of your piece. Each responsible citizen pays and pays, but to whom? Billionaires? Drug cartels? Foreign monarchs? Freemason Illuminati? Imagine if governments prevented such wickedness and treated mental illness, how much more would flow your way in reduced insurance premiums, tax cuts, and warfare reductions? Who wants that!? The few who are gainfully employed or well paid work for some business that takes advantage of animosity, sickness or weakness.

DoD, nation's #1 employer with an annual half-trillion budget and two million military on payroll, largely defends oil companies as a perverse form of corporate welfare. If Big Oil had to pay for its own security, pumping oil overseas wouldn’t be worth it. Therefore, petroleum profits ultimately depend on American tax collection. Is convenience of motoring on gasoline worth this cost? If you send out thousands of resumes for jobs for which you are well qualified, despite EEOC companies don't interview those they discriminate against for age, gender, impairment, orientation and race. Should those thus ignored be forced onto treadmills in workhouses or thrown to wolves? Either would only beget criminality and ensure mutiny. Mental hospitals and prisons are already so full there's no place to lock up Wall Street crooks who bankrupted thousands and stole millions, so they routinely turn out felons and psychopaths with only bus fare elsewhere and prescriptions that don’t get filled. DoE hasn't done enough to teach basic skills, like recognizing complex issues and using logic to solve, or life skills, like avoiding drugs, counting money, exercising good judgment, and staying safe. When so many ills go unattended, you have to identify root causes and perform pareto analyses to set priorities. 

Called too liberal, current administration at least had a domestic policy to halt the slide into joblessness. Government can’t operate without income tax revenue. Counting those who gave up searching, it reached 25%, Great Depression level, under previous conservative administration, whose legacy was to alienate allies, disastrously cut taxes to the wealthy, force millions onto government assistance programs, and transfer $4 trillion into hands of cronies. Nation can’t take another such hit. Since then, job losses have been reversed. A health care bill finally passed that both freed employees from HMO servitude and repaid insurance companies for campaign contributions. But medical system is so broken everyone still needs protection against this racket. Doctors are paid per visit, not outcome. Wherever more money is spent on Medicare, outcomes are worse. USA ranks 56 among nations in terms of wellness, though undeniably you're better off stateside if you really need a heart transplant or other expensive procedure, as that's what nation’s hospitals prepare to handle. After cardiovascular diseases and cancers, deaths from hospitalization ranks as nation’s 3rd biggest killer, 100,000 per year, though public just bundles this loss into other causes. Next come 40,000 automotive fatalities. Threats begin with mistreatment of citizens and foreigners for the benefit of a few billionaires. Otherwise, you wouldn't need to spend trillions on defense. Thwarting blind ambition would transform society. Maybe one ought to address these things before attacking social security and welfare recipients, who legislators need because they consolidate power over independent middle class. To combat, all an individual has to do is want less. You cannot be controlled unless you crave or need something. Fasting for a few days hardly matters, might train your body to burn rather than store fat.

Philosopher Timothy Morton endorses ecological interdependence. Nothing known exists outside universe; everything within interacts. Beneath lunar pull, meteorite impacts, and solar radiation, humans exert some of the most profound effects on both global processes (climate change, resource depletion, species extinction, toxic concentration) and other humans (carnage, ethnic cleansing, slavery, warfare). Lawyers line up to argue and prosecute on behalf of those who just can’t get along. Many who try to make contact through Internet say they feel less connected. Both isolation and interaction can be fatal. Yet the more separation one believes he/she achieves, the more one misperceives, succumbs to disease, and ultimately grieves.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jive Enplane

Influential American impressionist painter Childe Hassam, early in his career, did these bicycling illustrations that appeared in a Scribner’s article by Philip Hubert, Jr., “The Bicycle: The Wheel of To-Day” (Vol. 17, No. 6, June, 1895). The author, “Having always had this mild mania for flying,” was impressed when told, “If you want to come as near flying as we are likely to get... learn to ride a pneumatic bicycle.” Hubert gave a detailed account of cycling issues of the time, such as swapping sweaty woolen clothing and washing in streams, nothing you’d dare risk these days, probably get arrested or infected, wear wick-y fabrics to avoid.

Halfway through, this year’s handful of emerging books likewise involve history, usually fantastic fables or stately dances seen though rose colored spectacles. Uncovering bicycling culture seems child’s play when you focus on yesterday.

As explained by David McCullough, The Wright Brothers (Thorndike Press, 2015, 320 pp.), most people forget that these autodidactic bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio were the ones who produced the first airplane to actually move from point to point of no less height, which means flying not gliding. The path from locomotive to automotive had to go directly through bicycles because they afforded safer opportunities to test all sorts of technologies: bearings, cabling, chain drive, framework, gearing, paving, spoked wheels, tires. A small $1000 seed from selling safety bikes started up The Wright's entire aerospace enterprise. Appreciate the fact they are known collectively as a family, including sister Katherine, without whom they may never have succeeded, rather than individual inventors, seldom the case; employee Charlie Taylor (an important surname in cycling circles) built flyer’s engine. Reviewers suggest a stodgy admiration for one dimensional workaholics with no love lives or scandals to speak of, but Mccullough is practically a neighbor nestled into bicycle infested Martha’s Vineyard, so merits a mention, plus his book hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Robert McCullough, Old Wheelways, (The MIT Press, 2015, 384 pp.) gives Nineteenth Century wheelmen the props they deserve. He describes efforts by cyclists to build “asphalt ribbons” and wheelways out of aqueduct corridors, canal towpaths, and trolley rights-of-way, fights with park planners, including Olmsted, who opposed separate paths, and marathon tours of the Northeast recounted at the time in such defunct magazines as Bicycling World and The Wheelman Illustrated.

Over a century ago, before anyone ever imagined indoor spinning parlors with patrons jumping pedal jive to pounding jazz, uptown in New York there was Michaux Club (also shown in Scribner’s article cited). So exclusive, you had to be like Rockefeller among The Four Hundred to gain admittance. Women awheel would perform gymkhana and synchronized dancing to some Virginia reel. Carlton Reid, Roads Were Not Built for Cars (Island Press, 2015, 340 pp.), further notes that at least 64 carmakers began by manufacturing bicycles.

Tim Moore, Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy (Pegasus Books, 2015, 368 pp.) tells how only eight intrepid cyclists finished history’s most difficult bike race. Consider it a Giro d’Italia follow-up to his 2002 book, French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France (St. Martin’s Press, 2002, 277 pp.), where he recounts riding for himself the route of 2000 Tour.

Max Leonard, Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France, (New York : Pegasus Books, 2015, 264 pp.) Commentators give this moniker, from the red lantern on a train’s caboose, to the last rider to finish individual stages or whole of Le Tour. Leonard explains this doesn’t belittle but confers a badge of honor considering that over 2,500 miles in 3 weeks there’s seldom much difference in time between first and last, measured in mere hours. Even front runners and past champions might post a DNF after later crashing out or enduring endos.

Hollie McNish & Inja: Why I Ride: Because a Bike Pedal Lasts Longer Than a Gas Tank (Green Writers Press, 2015, 96 pp.): Slim compilation by London poetess collaborating with rap rhymer for the Cambridge Cycle of Songs art project was the basis for ReSound’s a capella song, Why We Ride. “This is why I ride; I like to fly... freewheeling... Life is much more fun, riding on my bike: Park or school or home, anywhere I like! I ride for one slice of freedom; walking seems so slow. Wheels fly in motion, and I’m ready to go!”

Marginally related to riding glorious French countryside, Nina Solomon, The Love Book (Kaylie Jones Books, 2015, 320 pp.), has 4 divorcees on a singles' bike tour of Normandy discovering a book that takes them on an journey to unexpected romance. Reflects a personal history of 30 years without finding a soulmate suddenly reversed by enplaning and riding elsewhere.

Monday, July 6, 2015

[Bleep] Bahrain

Among the worst places in the World to ride a bicycle is the banking nexus and oil producing/refining Kingdom of Bahrain. Reputed to be biblical Eden, today it is naught but desert island with neither fresh water nor trees of knowledge or life. Too bad, could have been fun riding all Durrat’s manmade atols and petal beaches, real cruiser bike territory. Entire country is so small, just one quarter the size of Rhode Island, you could ride its rather flat perimeter in less than a day, though tough to do in native gutra scarf and thobe cloak. Locals claim its 2,500 miles of highways and main roads are dangerous, have no bike lanes, many just gravel, and typically carry vehicles zooming along at 60 mph. Bicyclists are barred from the King Fahd Causeway that connects Saudi Arabia to this once “Pearl of the Persian Gulf”, now no more than toxic wasteland. Amnesty International is on country’s case for human rights violations against children and women, not surprising since its accursed monarch is secured by pernicious petroleum trade. Graffiti depicts citizens murdered by rulers in recent civil unrest. Motorists and truckers there don’t respect vulnerable users, though the same occurs in many American cities.

What have they, or whoever else harbors resentment, got against bicyclists? To be sure, cyclists are humans who compete for resources, more than enough reason to hate. In particular, cyclists are healthier, don’t waste fuel, have more sex, and smell of sweat in their spandex, which frightens the tar out of conservative civilians. By all means, cover your asphalt with cars, and lock up your daughters, maybe even your sons. A marauding horde is right now rampaging across the lowlands of Holland en route to France. Expertly equipped with motorized support, pelaton platoon may be fast but isn’t really formidable, sometimes snarls traffic, and won’t spend at tourist traps or steal anything larger than what they can stuff in jersey pockets.

To retain benefits of pedaling without access to real roads, a new fad begun in Boston has spread from city to city: CycleBar and SoulCycle franchises popped up everywhere. By applying Orangetheory Fitness routines of Exercise Post-oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and target zone training strapped to heart rate monitors, customers get to simulate expediently and safely indoors what they used to experience naturally and vitally outdoors. Some even mimic scenery and smells while they speed along exercise sessions with Cycle Beats (random songs about 130 beats/minute not necessarily related to cycling, unlike Velobeats’ remix beeps), so you can get back to work faster and produce more profits for billionaires and kings. Spinning costs more than cab fare, doesn’t provide transportation, but you don’t have to deal with cabbies or real cyclists, or learn anything about your community, so can’t be all bad.