Saturday, August 10, 2019

Shocks Sarbane

"This may come as a shock..." constitutes as cringeworthy a phrase as, “Tell me if this hurts." Brace for a beating; face stress building. People prefer ghastly lies over a nasty surprise. Yet many ignore dire warnings deemed predictions of gloom from prophets of doom. "Tell me some good news," they importune, though they rather it be nonsense or silence, because ignorance is bliss, "No news is good news." Then well laid plans go amiss.

Spent half a century in quality assurance, Six Sigma trained, totally committed to scientific method of observe, hypothesize, experiment, gather data, repeat, analyze, theorize, codify, form corollary, surveil for exceptions and failures. Unappreciated are measuring, monitoring, and sweating time consuming tasks. Jumping to conclusions is easy and quick. Learning from mishaps dissolves into trying to avoid.

Not very sexy, nobody's much interested in constant measurement, data maintenance, due diligence, or statistical assessment. Details cause countenances to droop, eyes to glaze, and jaws to yawn. As author, editor, illustrator, technical writer, and webmaster, spent 50 years rechecking and verifying minutia. Still make mistakes, but trust process when permitted favorable conditions and hours to apply logic and tools, although impatience rules and turns everyone into fools. Even when you cover all contingencies, things still go wrong. Total incorruptibility tags the saint for crucifixion. The more unconscionable and unforgivable you are, the more likeminded lummoxes like you. Worst gangsters rise fastest and highest.

No number of congressional SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) Acts could keep accountants from destroying American industry over last two decades. Khrushchev has his revenge from beyond the grave. Once engineers designed anew just to improve continually this technology zoo. Acquisitions, insurers, mergers based upon global greed doing bean counting at the expense of what matters - increasing reliability and saving lives - destroyed incentives and eclipsed impact. SOX’s very existence even without enforcement, only voluntary compliance, still rankles conservative cheaters. Legal practices and poison pills mean stockholders never in fact obtain company ownership. Great potential has been gutted on purpose in a battle against intelligent stewardship.

Things are so bad weavers would rather make disposable socks and pick your pockets than maximize comfort and wear. Can't find any that don't pinch off blood vessels by being too tight, which results in foot burn, poor circulation, and possibly blood clots, and get threadbare faster than FedEx can resupply. Sumptuous merino wool may be best, but makers betray by tweaking mix of nylon and spandex, and split sizing of Med-XL that sacrifices perfect but unpopular XXL. Black old style pair with little white homunculus show wear points on foot to almost see-through thinness at ball edges, heels, and toes. Makers could examine to redesign and reinforce, but they don’t care. Greed for profit forever surpasses need to serve all classes when competitors are few and customers are stuck with bad or no choices. Whatever happened to, “Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back,” as an inducement? Afraid to buy a replacement, spend too much time damning and darning. Shouldn't have to include sewing among bike handling skills.

Boomers bowed out too early, believing they knocked out social injustice forever, since 20th Century was a clinic on how bad leaders who gained supremacy based on empty rhetoric hurry next catastrophe. Those who jump ship might drown, sink to bottom feeders, such as Peterson’s orange clawed lobsters. Crustacean hierarchies don’t describe human societies or prove male primacies. Big fish eat little fish only beneath the seas. Too many from this generation left country or withheld votes, as if that might work. Only meant a small cadre could seize power. Nixon’s vampire protégés took over, will never leave voluntarily, won’t summer by the sea lest they lose their ghostly and superior whiteness.

“My rhetoric is better than his. My rhetoric is the best ever.” Donald Trump, 07 August 2019, present POTUS, schoolyard bully, supposed leader of the Free World whose schadenfreude for your suffering knows no bounds.

Exactly what in this brand appealed to his base? “Base” by all connotations, MAGA cleverly marketed improvements, though delivered none even with congressional backing, certainly created social ogres while stoking unreasonable fears, and currently promises to crush them should he be returned to office for another term. Almost as laughable as a cartoon villain, he's too reckless a menace to dismiss. Can nobody see through this scam? Can’t say, “You’re fired!” SOX didn’t compel him to disclose soviet contracts concerns or tax returns. Casinos are ideal setups for money laundering and people torturing. Why bother to investigate? Can talk his way out of any indictment. Wiggy presidents are only lightning rods that draw voter charges away from country’s secret bigwigs.

Can’t say you’re disappointed when you’ve foreseen inevitable outcome, except for donkeys, who won’t present anyone you’d want, just lame ducks, spring chickens, and war hawks. For the birds! No viable alternative attracts attention. Rap enough, some of what you say will seem prescient or visionary, since unresolved issues reemerge repeatedly. Was really the moment in history to introduce a whole new progressive party, but nescient citizens blew it, and world has been reset to a century ago on brink of annihilation. Well, screw it. Bike through it.

This time around marching army can’t rely on decent socks, something of a meaningless distraction until they are shot dead paying more attention to toe agony than foreign foe. Charities collect socks for vagrant foot applause in a vain gesture that does nothing to alleviate root cause. Meanwhile, traitors in Senate thrive, those who supposed to be representing you in crucial decisions of protecting and spending. Aw, shucks, who signed you up for awe, hurt and shocks if not them? Why did you not foresee and knock footing from under them? Could see some sacred cow tipping about to commence.

“Down by the railway the bicycles are there, an apocalyptic fair for the alive. It's a sign, the messengers they bring with their stainless steel wings on a 45 that plays our lullaby. Man made moons, they go on, one by one, when the sun is done for the day.” Amy Millan, Wayward and Parliament, Honey From the Tombs, Arts & Crafts, Int., 2006, inspired by serving brews at a coffee shop on Parliament Street in Toronto.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Bite Dumb Cane

Critics use the term “manifesto” in a derogatory way. Comes from the Latin “manifestus”, meaning “obvious”, therefore, disclosed as self evident. Nothing should be more welcome on your path to truth. May inadvertently connote “mandate” with which you must comply even if you don’t want to, but that’s just how things are and never what Labann intends. If fact, have always exposed both ends of spectrum, and presented conflicting approaches, not proselytized singleminded avenues. Uncompromising extremists with agendas to fulfill and axes to grind condemn and deride a centrist standpoint. Always another way to do anything, 99 out of 100 will bring pain or regret you might deserve if you don't take needs of all others into account.

When you consider unbiased numbers, nation is not perfectly divided or substantially polarized. A small minority of morons has a mouthpiece, whereas vast majority does not. Despicable Fox News claims to speak for Americans but doesn’t represent 80% of them. Not even close. By and large Americans are eager to serve a purpose, generous to a fault, hard working, mind own business, obey laws, pay taxes, rush to aid, tolerate other races, religions, and viewpoints, will smite enemies decisively when provoked, and won’t stand for unfair practices. Rest of world would emulate them. Instead, Fox conflates exceptions, generates fear, promotes hatred, and triggers terrorism.

Not all nation’s residents are Americans or citizens, though, or care about mutual benefit. A mean spirited cadre now runs country, puffs itself up to hide its impotency, and taunts bigger crowd of betters as would any bully. Criminals aren’t the norm, cause a disproportionate degree of harm, and do exist at every level in any form. When foreign nationals say they hate Americans, they mean this abominable cross section. A tormenting flea influences behavior of dog tens of thousands of times larger, but surely isn’t dog’s guiding essence. No, pets want to be rid of these pests.

So what if Labann tosses in an occasional metaphor? Some help get points across dense divide. Unless framed as artsy or salacious, crucial messages never reach anyone. Do writers keep blogs to communicate or something else? In every interview infamous artists describe their compulsion to produce. What else is there to do? Guilt drives futile posturing and senseless strutting. Hunger, want and war force immediate, often violent reaction, but with what do you fill times of peace?

Some would suggest art, gratification and music. Others say advancement, exploration and improvement. Nitwits engage in gossip, hate, and home wrecking, pitting spouse against spouse, serving greed of divorce attorneys and those with more money than they know how to spend. Wisdom urges perpetual vigilance and steady effort when common good you must defend. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Dumping recorded impressions and what one assesses into an internet vacuum just depresses. Decline, perversion and superstition interfere, and tailspin sets you back to yesteryear. America has almost become a medieval fiefdom, middle eastern theocracy, or murderous monarchy.

Back when primetime television audiences tuned into and were satisfied by contrived depictions of family life, political shows were filler for Sunday morning dead air. What was the first reality program? Besides news and sports, that is. The sole thrill of NASCAR is that death is defied when vehicles collide. Among unscripted shows, Cops has hung around the longest by diverting viewers with misdemeanor beatings. Shows like Survivor threw together incompetents competing for a prize, and indolent imbeciles applauded ensuing mayhem: Sports with few rules, no athletes or referees, pure mind rot for dumbed down masses. What next? Gladiator contests at the LA coliseum? Mayan football where losers get sacrificed? Political talk has now become primetime's ultimate reality show in which nation gets split into bloodthirsty camps and you pay the price with your life. It's only a game, and those who stage it profit staggeringly. How did this totally reverse? “Never criticize the populace... ‘the deceived masses’ were easy marks for a cynical and self-perpetuating ‘culture industry.’”

People falsely assume that you must be crazy if you're not famous yet speak your mind. Sure, psychos do grouse and mumble, but seldom coherently. Sane folks say little; they recognize fact that most won't grasp what they're saying anyway. "Why cast pearls before swine?" asked biblical authors, then assembled a 1000 page codex to do exactly that. When you dignify idealized depictions of life on sitcoms versus reality programs with contrived scenarios indented with Fox's thumbprints, you fall into same trap of falsehood. Both want you to believe something other than basic facts of enduring pains, hunting gains, and surviving strains, what you really do for a living. B&C only portrays how things are, not how you wish they would be, without excluding details that don’t fit anyone's closed circuit narrative.

Guilefool, O'Really, Sanctity, and whole lineup of disgruntled Fox personalities (not an objective reporter among them, nothing but paid agitators) will accuse you of behaving as if politics of 75 years ago were still relevant; it's a brainwashing tactic. They themselves ape obsolete and square Bucky smugness, Limburger stink, and Merry schemes, whatever always works. A raging world war did require teamwork and tight lips. Not much since has changed with nation still under siege by stupid thugs and war lords, who either don't understand America's stabilizing effect or do want to see world burn. Yet you let jackasses in suits and ties rant jabber and and tout white supremacy or xenophobic deportation at your peril; festivals and schools don't screen attendees for assault weapons. You know too well what divisiveness they are all about by content and tone of sound bites they deliver with insincere smirks and shifty eyes. It's Ailes advising Nixon all over again, "I am not a crook," as if supporting a paranoid sociopath were preferable. But Labann's a nobody stuck in cultural inquiry at the terminus of cosmological waste disposal, not a notable who can do or say anything because face is bloated to indisputable by big screen or world stage.

Since when have intellectuals resumed heeding clerics and pundits over scientists? Empirical facts are peer reviewed and professionally vetted; there's no room for flexibility or stupidity. Questions of morality and spirituality can never be answered and will always remain debatable. Therefore, wars are fought over them incited by neocons precisely because they can neither be proven nor refuted and nothing is more divisive. All neocons believe in is profitability created when parties disagree. Anyway, after partisan pundits, pederast priests, and proof-for-pay scientists, who can you trust?

Broadcasts ridiculously commenting on reporting of real investigators elsewhere turns riding bikes into high-risk crossings of a fearscape, no longer an innocuous calling upon a pleasant landscape. People who count occurrences and focus on facts and can offer proof that bicycling and walking (possibly also racing and running) are much safer than motoring, even if infrastructure centers on automotive and lacks any ethical motive. Worst worry isn’t potholes, sweat or traffic, it’s up-close encounters with anyone who believes latest graphic faked by Fox, and is so incensed to senselessly punish you. These serial terrorists buzz, cut off, hook, and pelt bicyclists on purpose, park or pass in bike lanes, or pursue you with malice.

B&C tells a story of how an angry carload at a bike path crossing screamed insults out windows. Labann made an appropriate finger salute, hurried along, then slipped through next crossing just before same carload nearly chased down from around corner. Of course, can’t blame bad attitudes alone, but capitalistic enterprises of cooking crack, importing coke, and selling liquor in which neocons and rednecks collude. Exercise does builds testosterone, makes bicyclists concupiscents, but gutless drug addicts lash out against helpless innocents because those in control are inaccessible and remote, and you aren’t. No, bicyclists and walkers are powerless and vulnerable.

Tolerating, trying not to pity, these pains-in-the-asses parallels bicycling on multiple levels. Believe no one who says bicycling is nonstop joy in cresting hills, maintaining cadence, and paying costs. It's a battle against bugs, chemical burns or infectious germs splashed on you by riding through gutters awash in mystery juice, saddle sores, sorrow and worry, such onerous stuff with which you must deal but shouldn't have to, and toil that yields mood elevating endorphins and years of living longer. It's a game changer for those among you who are smarter.

David Bowie recalls with amusement how in Berlin new acquaintance Brian Eno would take a train based on how many marks he had in his pocket, then explore neighborhood in which he found himself. Situationist Guy deBord identified this behavior in Theory of the Dérive (1956), an unstructured journey where you absorb whatever you randomly encounter, and emotionally disconnect. One wonders whether anything is so utterly random, when it could be part of some otherworldly plan, or whether preordained scripts create or were derived from chaos. Still head out alert on bike on a wide-eyed dérive and let vehicle flow decide which turns to take, though know there'll be some consequence. A flaneur imposes self into a crowd just to feel alive amidst a moshpit of movement and transgression, in other words, traffic, from which everything you need to know gets revealed. In an armchair or on a couch, you yourself are mere furniture. Independent of conveyance choice, whenever in motion you are traffic, as much as any bus, car, or steel on wheels for which planners must accommodate. It's only now, 30 years since ADA was enacted, that cities are installing wheelchair ramps in intersection curbs. They ignored a whole generation of wheelchair users, though bike paths always supported motorized chairs.

Constant sweeping is what bicyclists do, surveying ahead from front wheel to vanishing point. This sweep derives from a need to dodge hazards, distant and narrow, downcast and medial, then proximal and wide, repeated as many times a minute as miles per hour in speed. Bicyclists also sweep tires side to side, like painting pavement or tango dancing. Regarding politics, citizens need to be on par: looking ahead, looking around, and staying engaged in current events. Over the last 50 years world's population has doubled from four to eight billion. Two additional generations have joined parents and grandparents on highways. Family drives on Sundays have become an anachronism. Can't see bucolic vistas when focused on bumpers inches ahead and behind. Motoring's a key defoliant and pollutant which has laid roadsides bare. Nothing much to see anymore except impending shambles. At least by bike, you soak up oxygen and sunshine.

Almost never look back, especially when someone hails. Promises no reward for services rendered. Was early on a Sunday, quiet enough to hear, so went back despite misgivings. Bicyclist on a borrowed bike had dropped chain completely off. Had tools to fix but he couldn’t figure out how. Explained that derailleur is on a spring, so bottom cog was flipped over top. A lesson later, chain was restored, and cyclist was left with a happy memory of a helpful samaritan... and how to locate nearest bike shop. Perhaps he’ll pass along a positive vibe. How many times has it been that Labann fixed a stranger’s flat and was forgotten? Then, again, always foresaw contingencies, so seldom needed reciprocity. Did roll 150,000 miles without unmanageable mishaps. Maybe karma accumulates and protects, you never know. Talking heads who incite hate may earn millions by ruining marriages, but surely are due for huge comeuppances, hopefully including reparations.

Getting along doesn’t mean you have to bite mother-in-law’s tongue, chew dumb cane, shut up, or suffer in silence. Having personally dealt with belligerent losers, learned it’s better to go limp, neither confront nor escalate, if you want smother an emotional inferno. Once fuel is expended, fury becomes smoke and melts into thin air. Unfortunately, propaganda continually gets refueled by billionaires, so you’d better counter with equal measure lest it cost you your life, though it consumes your time.