Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bicentennial Subterrane

Depending upon whom you ask, the bicycle was “invented” between 1816 and 1818, about 200 years ago, by Karl von Drais, who fashioned his Laufmaschine, a wooden dandyhorse, upon which you sat astride and strode to glide, that is, if you dismiss Cardinal Borromeo’s compiled Codex Atlanticus (1609) of Leonardo da Vinci drawings, which clearly shows he doodled exactly the same thing 2 centuries earlier. Savvy historians point to blacksmith Pierre Michaux’s 1850’s iron boneshaker velocipede to which he attached a crank and pedals to front wheel, thus making it an integral conveyance in popular demand where sales could expand to America, eventually adding ball bearing hubs and more comfortable saddles. To this day tricycles for tots still mimic his design. Geopolitical and patent issues crimped production in 1870’s everywhere but England, where Starley and supporters added chain drives, coaster brakes, curved handlebars, and pneumatic tires, from which the safety bike emerged. In 1970’s San Francisco, Repack Races down Mt. Tamalpais hiking trails got Breeze and bros to innovate mountain bikes. Rather than a sole invention to which scores lay claim, the bicycle is better described as a technological evolution that credits many and enormously influenced modernity, particularly free locomotion on paved roads.

Labann has only been at this literary critique of bicycling culture for 2 decades, less than 10% of its existence, ridden for just 25% through 3 bike booms, though it’s history many would rather bury. Consumers don’t care or give credit due. Similarly, art economics resemble mental health treatments: Ignored too long then incarcerated to remove imagined threat to public. Sure, you’d have to be clinically insane to expect anyone to support your creations. As in Leonardo’s day, it comes down to individual patrons, such as an eager renaissance monarch, much rarer crowd funding, or steadfast self sufficiency. In 1800’s writing novels or poems was a pastime for bored well-heeled bourgeoisie, until two-wheelers boomed and they assumed another hobby. Society was thus spared a small percent of self serving drivel. Kids now attend cell phones where no education occurs, no effort is exerted, no judgment gets applied, and no rules or scruples are encouraged. This has already been identified as a new menace of depression and sleep disturbance, exactly the opposite of bicycling. Advertisers would have everyone settle for less, spend too much, and succumb to poor mental health.

Artists need not ask for a government handout. Despite existing Percent for Art laws, feds and states only endow art foundations and nonprofits, whose directors answer to entrenched institutions and power brokers, and pocket lion’s share of proceeds after paying slave wages and relying on volunteers. This is done to siphon taxation and stifle dissent. Beauty and truth undermine money-grubbing schemes, so suffer from abandonment and disenfranchisement. Without direct funding, art, something half of human brains seem wired to beget, has little chance to produce masterpieces. Consequently, too many creative minds wind up on welfare or worse. Wage earning taxpayers underwrite destructive non-production. Life without art would be unlivable. This equation doesn’t work on any level.

How does society expect advancement? Maybe get lucky when someone can’t help but innovate? From about 1880 to 1980, corporations rolled a tenth of profits into R&D, thus paid engineers to imagine more reliable ways of delivering avant-garde designs. All that changed in the 1990s, a decade of acquisitions, divestitures and mergers aimed primarily at cheapening products and cutting “backroom” efforts, particularly expensive accounting and engineering. Whenever an outsider beat them to an improvement, they’d simply buy out start-up to either absorb or block disruptive change. Corporations since spent billions NOT to introduce things that might serve your needs better or safer, thwart improvements to manage previous investments, and treat consumers as suckers. Yes, you’ll have to rebuy your favorite album, ap or book each time technology morphs per their profit motives. Already on 5th new cell phone, 8th new personal computer, 21st operating system. You either put up, shut up, or you’re crushed like a bug in their grill, do without, no real option when important information is only made available over internet, or lay down for a dirt nap.

Profits proliferate unilaterally when those impoverished convince themselves they must go faster. Bicyclists impede automotive recklessness, so other traffic can hardly stomach. Indeed, some would stick bicyclists below ground, with no sunshine and questionable air, already happening in Amsterdam, Louisville, London, Tokyo and Utrecht, out of sight, but still simmering in subconscious. What about safety when earthquakes occur or water table rises? Worst plan puts bicyclists on spin machines inside sweaty gyms. Breeds disease. No such necropolis could hold late avid cyclist Robin “Bicentennial Man” Williams, whose ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay. His subterrane demise represents yet another route folks despise, so hastily surmise and seldom analyze.

News you can’t use fills airwaves, usually stuff that doesn’t affect you or you can do nothing about. Around bicycling’s dawn Mark Twain may have said but never wrote, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Media today seems determined to continue that way, fill you with dread through misinformation, and instruct you to act ineffectually. Lately almost everything you hear solely intends to make speaker’s life better, not yours. Scams abound. Meanwhile New England cyclists abide wet slush awaiting another chance to ride outdoors. Any more global temperature tip and you’ll instead have to invest in a personal submarine ship.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Been Ungermane

Being irrelevant gives you wings, sets you free, yet torments your security. Ungermane could also mean unemployable without skills in demand. Companies anticipate much from direct staff, yet settle for anything from contingent temps, who make up 40% of America’s workforce. Consultants per diem and expendable mercenaries can be activated or asked to desist each business boom or bust; they demand no benefits, holidays, leaves, prior notices, or vacations. Nevertheless, lack of job longevity adversely affects delivered quality, sales figures, and trust upon which reputations rely. Rampant incompetence holds sway; ignorance can’t evaluate and intelligence doubts itself, according to Dunning-Kruger, though Peter predicts buffoons will rise in any hierarchy, especially government. All but wildly profitable businesses expect to harvest continually, look only to next quarter’s results, seldom future security.

What is germane? Style alone. Only droll delivery of daily drivel matters to majority. Fake news reeks of it. For author or authority it’s all about saying the next thing noticed, thereby staying in some lame conversation. Stark reality bores morons silly and scares the savvy. You need to stew in rage to engage anyone with means or schadenfreude enough to spend minutes or pennies on your page. This blog addresses mere recognition among short attention spans, seldom keenly dissects topics, shallowly points out things that marginally connect, thereby resembles media news you never use. For gravity you have to read the book, though it may seem a scatological brown study. Was never seduced by urge to conjure fanciful tales designed to escape, as if mundane routine didn’t already fulfill every need. Can’t worry about what might be, must manage immediacy and plan accordingly, though separated from present spells death and decline.

If you’re neither overly prejudiced nor righteously horrified, you might be amused by folly/furor of Fox humor/error News, which hilariously broadcasts agitprop of illogical pap 24/7 as if it were gospel, even summons god to do their dirty work. Any serious minded person disregards how they emphasize mayhem to make points, inflate opposite opinions into public conspiracies, and instigate all instances of domestic terrorism. Doesn’t surprise that sociologists have better things to do than lavish time on such divisive nonsense and obvious ploys. The list of things becoming irrelevant - from pet ownership to presidential power - grows rapidly. Why pay taxes to nurse an ineffectual leader when it appears any cretin off the street would do a better job?

Do admire intent of company Alphabet Google X and its Director Eric "Astro" Teller, who only ask questions and invent answers to big problems. Unfortunately, novelty for its own sake does no more than alienate customers and feed creator’s ego. It’s a logical fallacy to claim that new is good. Only right message or right offering at right time combine to garner wide support. Otherwise you spin wheels and waste brain power. Innovation has never been easy, one breakthrough based on countless failed attempts and lessons learned. Drone delivery team engineer AndrĂ© Prager explained how complicated it can be to design for simplicity, “The best designs—a bicycle, a paper clip—you look and think, ‘Well of course, it always had to look like that,’ But the less design you see, the more work was needed to get there.” Upon what basis can you call merchandise dispatch a core competency? Customers can pick up at stores, or stuff can be delivered to them by bike, foot or truck. The desired result seems to be to eliminate all interpersonal contact, but would that improve lives? Aloof unapproachability seems an expensive luxury for which someone else pays.

To simplify results in efficiency. But some things, such as society, don't lend themselves to this treatment. People don’t neatly line up like bottles on conveyor belts. The Great Wall of China began to crumble before finished and failed to withstand Mongol invasion. One must compartmentalize tasks, focus when appropriate, and let some things pass. Nazis can't overlook differences or relinquish control; complicity suggests a mental defect in common.

Not alone, entire ethnic groups are deemed extraneous, mercilessly marginalized, and persecuted randomly, for example, over 10 million global Romanis, unique in that they are not bound by place, but only by a will to be free. Their flag has a 16-spoked itinerant wheel, similar to 24-spoked chakra on flag of India, to which some trace their origins, symbolic of peaceful change above earthy verdure and below heavenly sky. Their anthem, Djelem, Djelem, lungone dromensa [I went, I went on long roads], further resonates, totally aligns with bicycling culture.

Improving upon situation seems impossible when surrounded by criminals and fools, but you can only legitimately exert control over your own actions. What you covet enslaves you; extrapolated, your life alone is worth fighting for, though it shouldn't come down to this. Evil pushes extremes. Most just want to be left alone, offered a boost when down, and taxed only according to how much they profit from actions that meet society’s requisites. Some enterprises, like casinos, fulfill no need except owners’ greed, though you might argue that assembly lines and design benches feed off gaming. One wonders what good could be done with all that squandered cash and talent. Trillions have funded even stupider projects, ostensibly laser death rays mounted on satellites, really pure voracity for stealing from public treasury. Cipolla postulated that stupidity is dangerous, underestimated, widespread, and works destructively and indiscriminately.

Humans have become so adept at imagining alternatives and scientific solutions, world population jumped from one billion in 1804 to three billion in 1960 despite 2 centuries of wars. Actuaries predict a billion increase each 15 years and worldwide tripling to nine billion by 2042. US population has only doubled in half century since 1967, mostly due to immigration restraint and worse measures, such as citizen exile or internment camps for Americans of certain ethnic backgrounds including those native born.

Some would say that current US population of 370 million cannot be sustained, and predicted 520 million by 2050 will nosedive standard of living, slice percent of arable land to less than half of 1.2 acres needed per person, and void all social contracts. Imagine what it would be like quadrupling occupancy of your apartment or home and sharing same amount of food and resources among them, and you’ll get a clue as to where you’re headed: an overcrowded fiasco of general famine, Olduvai slide, recurring pestilence, and subsistence ferocity.

If human ingenuity were the ultimate resource, expanding populations should be a boon; this would only be true if scarcity inspired alternatives, mothers of invention, renewed searches for resources that serve masses. So far, mankind has primarily demonstrated a lack of planning, laxity in restoration, and lust for depletion. How has democracy helped? Both evil trends and good practices can be begun or undone by edicts, though you may kiss your constitutional rights goodbye. However, life that doesn’t adapt to real crises ceases to exist.

Prepare for an unlucky Year of the Dog. Folks now keep dogs for reasons beyond fear of other creatures (past) and humans (present). Dogs are opportunistic companions; this exonerates owners for selfish ways, settling into jobs where they get paid to arrive punctually yet do nothing, and working sans compunction solely in self interest. Dogs likewise do nothing but donate mute companionship, don’t talk back, and further dilate already inflated egos. Who’s using who? Cynics churlishly resemble snarling canines, who’ll have their day and snap at backsides until all spirals into late day shadows.

Then how do you arrive at hope? If weather cooperates, Labann can get there from home on a bike in an hour. Forecast through Groundhog Day is for more snow than not and severe icing between, conditions that break spirit even among avid bicyclists. Meanwhile, without actual saddle time, adrenaline, endorphins, and fear to inform content, quality of blog entries suffers. But, soon, conditions will relent to again become irrelevant. Ungermane might also mean unthreatening, unlike everything else lately. Even alien encounters are all about, “Frighteningly odd yet not necessarily hostile.”