Saturday, February 20, 2016

Big “Exchane”

Bicyclists slow due to conditions, hills, mechanics and wind. What can be done about hills? There to stay, going around might take longer than slogging directly over them. A steep climb could be rewarded with a long, luxurious rollout that hurries miles along. Then again, ice and snow intermittently keep you indoors or turn you into a pedestrian. Takes 15 minutes just to assemble and don booties, cleats, glasses, gloves, head covering, helmet, layers, mask and outerwear, as if you needed another excuse not to ride. Bad pavement and motor traffic often interfere with headway. A bike that doesn’t fit you, has fat tires, or performs poorly will definitely impede. Broken spokes, escaped chains, flat tires, or snapped frames stop you outright. Cleated pedals and stiff soles boost range by increasing leverage to propel faster. Hard, narrow tires reduce resistance. Even if you’re not effectively equipped and physically fit, you should be able to average 9 mph. Bicyclists collectively average over 12 mph. Exceptional racers on flat tracks can maintain 30+ mph for an hour. The current 24 hour record holder averaged 21.7 mph. But wind will always be the greatest hindrance. With a gale in your face, you’ll crawl along almost stalled. Such thoughts occupy your mind as winter transitions to spring, yet you'll defy such hassles for a few hours outdoors.

Once believed that writer’s block existed, but oceans of notions flow while engaged in anything physical, especially bicycling, since you’re on balance in the moment and seldom mollified by media. Doubts, experiences, observations, pains, and pleasures while pedaling out there inspire lucid conclusions to share. Engineers design motor vehicles to insulate drivers: bumps smoothed, doors locked, dust filtered, odors blocked, sounds muffled, temperature controlled, touchscreen selected media with which to fill sensory under-load. On one hand, you might enjoy whatever literary artists, reporters and songsmiths want to deliver, whether from internet, over airwaves, or recorded. Books on tape truly make long commutes tolerable. On the other hand, to do so without a chance to respond is tantamount to being browbeaten and dominated. You only need to click on “comments” below to turn any post here into a two-way conversation.

Recently, after reading an interesting article on wealth inequality in staunchly liberal weekly The Nation, wanted to pass along insights gained after writing for decades on that very topic, but was denied because only paid subscribers are allowed. Doesn’t this conspicuously discriminate against those who are the most detrimentally impacted by poverty? Sure, go ahead, pontificate, profit off situation, then silence those whose opinions matter most. Among friend notifications, Facebook mixes in pure advertising pap to which you can’t reply. Corporations pay for opinions when they can get them for free in social media. Recruiters do use posts to profile and rule out candidates. Occupy Movement, begun 7 years ago, was victimized by such tactics. Protesters could be discussed by reporters (after they occupied Wall Street itself in 2011 and raised hackles) but couldn’t voice own views, since media is a big business wholly managed and owned by billionaires, who use such stories in a vain attempt to distance themselves from blame. Both conservatives and liberals exhibit holier-than-thou extremism. Incorporated factories at least churn out goods people need, not necessarily so information spewers. Hard to say what indispensable nugget you might glean from a news story, though surely you’ll have to read miles of columns to find one.

As it has ever been throughout history, the focused practitioner, frontier explorer, separate entity, small man, or system outsider offers best insights, so must be encouraged to speak freely. Civilization would have advanced faster if Hittites didn’t extend Bronze Age by keeping iron a secret for centuries. Without open exploration and shared discoveries mankind would be doomed. Sticklers don’t take enough chances to learn through failures, rather conform or rely on experience and knowledge of movers and shakers. So why limit communication to a one-sided monologue? Conceit, massive egos, narcissism, and sociopathy hand down laws, “Do it MY WAY or hit the highway.” To quote self from decades ago, “Authorities without ethics driven by greed are your children’s role models.” Because most aren’t motivated to filter raw effluent, they expect “experts” to do it for them, lest something crucial goes unnoticed, but even professionals and scientists get ignored. Every exchange in ideas can potentially propel innovation, yet people would rather act like jackasses than admit they don’t know, maintain nominal than move forward, spin in place than welcome in world. Like a bicycle undergoing a chain drop, progress crashes to an abrupt stop.

The most important yet mostly neglected areas for betterment in this millennium involve ethics, governance, and politics: How people treat people. When a pope calls you or your candidate unchristian, maybe you ought to listen. When will humans collectively dismiss mental defectives mad to rule? Freewheeling debate collapses their power base. Beware of every instance where they seek to stifle, or shout each other down. Elected officials and those society rewards make all the trouble. How stupid is everyone else? Always asking, “How are we doing?” instills doubt and sounds insincere. You have to really care enough and reciprocate accordingly so this question need never be asked. But society must bring itself to a big stop, examine values, exchange demands, and mend fences before forward movement can proceed. To do otherwise beckons revolution or war.

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