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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holy Gundain!

Gundain is a barley beer pastry that Tibetans savor to begin their New Year festival Losar that commemorates snake deity Naga. A king cobra devouring its own tail comes full circle, a saga from beginning to end, say after a year, or some wheel of folly from which none escape, such as a deep dive into bicycling depravity or short stint at presidency. In Dharmashala and Lhasa renewal occurs in Spring, not dead of Winter, as in Western culture, which adheres to a brutal gridiron imposing events per religious calendar instead of naturally occurring equinoxes, first snow, frost free day, full moons, last leaf drop, and solstices. Full fortnight of Christmas supplanted pagan customs having lost the war of words intended to dominate spirit. Auspicious portents influence internecine warfare and outdoor labor more than cerebral preoccupations in air conditioned cloisters and neatly kept cubicles. Bicyclists follow their own calendar.

When society transitioned from brawn to brain, work then meant finding ways to trick others into dying or exerting in your stead. Clerics deployed a potent dodge by preying upon fears of the unknown. Most would rather be a boss spending bulk of paid hours deriding minions, letting staff solve problems, and wriggling out of crises by replacing experts with novices. Labann always preferred doing something pragmatic and productive, whether mental or physical, because then had plentiful evidence to justify own existence, unlike so-called leaders, who anyway blame subordinates for failures and take credit for successes. The further you rise, the easier it becomes to cross the permeable barrier between benevolent and corrupt.

America's least wanted public enemies are conservative lawmakers who consistently stick majority with their trick of trickle down. This repulsive lie has repeatedly been proven false for decades. Every boat will only float when constituents vote Republicans out and thereby begin to note middle class members multiply. As things exist, these elected servants can continue to transfer trillions from 90% of populace to 10% for no other reason than heinous greed and vicious selfishness. If they persist, they'll completely collapse economy. Nevertheless, voters have no will to call it what it is, impeachable treason, and resist. A full year after their minority win, not one promise has been kept, no substantive issue has been addressed, and taxpayers paid millions so president could golf and indulge self spending more than any working stiff will earn in a lifetime, already more than predecessor did in 8 years. Height of the anti-Mexican wall remains at zero. Disapproval shot up to two-thirds faster than ever in country’s history. Mystifies how any president with a marginal rating would not be immediately recalled. Elected leaders frame positions as theirs until elected out. But impeachment and recalls can occur at any time. Harm done to citizens might then be reversible. Corrupt officials get bolder every day they get away with their reckless rackets.

One can serve evil, greater good, nobody, others or self. Regrettable when unilateral, works better when everyone's satisfied, but worst scenario has all unhappy because nobody’s needs get met, where society now seems headed. Not to cast aspersions or debate semantics, one must define political stances to grasp controversy.

Conservatives buy into the Malthusian myth that there's not enough resources for all to thrive, that slavery or starvation suits majority as long as they personally are exempt, and that you have no right to live, only an obligation to self to grab whatever you can. They care nothing about quality of consumer offerings, and would sell ersatz cures if permitted. They dismiss altruism as untenable, though their soulless approach spells humanity's doom.

Liberals don't concern themselves with how mutually supportive systems operate, only that everyone subsists. They rob from successes to underwrite failures. They demotivate business creators with excessive regulation and taxation, so some junkie or lout gets an undeserved handout. Liberals elevate own egos by administering such entitlements. Political correctness can only exist alongside economic surplus. They flail at serous issues, so fail.

Progressives hold that wealth generation rises out of aberration. Everyone ought to have an opportunity to contribute and earn a livelihood, short of ensuring all survive by mere presence. Progressives would permit you to chew excessively, choose badly, and die accordingly, even legalize self prescribed narcotics and psychedelics. You have a right to behave however you want and suffer consequences, likely internment camps, mental hospitals, or prisons, as long as you pay own way after having been afforded a real way to stay alive. This would include making yourself a taxation target by amassing casino cash from addicts. Instead of controlling population, progressives prefer improving systems, removing roadblocks, setting goals, and working towards them.

Extremists malign progressives, because they can't refute any centrist message of tolerance without individual judgment or safety net. Plus an alternative third approach disrupts their strategy to divide to conquer, or engage you in warfare as cannon fodder. Progressives make no distinction among domestic and foreign terrorists, rather convert enemies into partners, though it's not always possible or profitable, and recognize ignorance and want as everyone’s enemies, since they lead to bad decisions, conservative and liberal extremism, and frustrated retaliation against vulnerable innocents, never those responsible. Because they are intelligent, progressives can’t organize a like-minded coalition, since ready access to information without ethics or logic spreads mostly partisan ignorance. True intelligence doesn’t require governance yet only lasts until dementia sets in.

Regressives figure everything was better before whatever occurred, though what that thing was they can’t say, yet they elected backward current administration. Impossible to restore a construct they can no longer evaluate, they'd just as soon destroy everything and start over, except reserving electronic and mechanical conveniences, retaining expert systems, and usurping positions of dominance. Bygone era meant throng had to perform daylong manual labor, while overlords dreamt ways to exploit them. Education was nonexistent, since knowing anything threatened oligarchs. Bonfires of books illuminate nothing, increase suffering, spread pestilence, and warrant setbacks. Because they don’t move forward, both conservative and liberal align with regressive. Only progressive offers a new hope for sustainable growth.

While diverse opinions round out picture of needs and wants, basic survival must be prioritized. Americans and rest of world who survive on their contributions cannot afford politics of the past. New governance based in reality must prevail, or you'll have to suit up in armor and toughen up for what will ensue in new year.

Depressing and disappointing when you discover things don’t meet what you were expecting. Some gifts can’t be returned, or seem trivial until lost forever. On your bike, for every delightful landscape encountered - brook, expanse, field, garden, lawn, park, primordial forest, stands of trees, tangle of bramble, waterfall - 10 times as many abused properties and ugly dumps must be overlooked. You can cherish Mother Nature until you learn what a cruel bitch she can be. You can likewise worship God before realizing horrors He/She condones. You're pretty much at both their mercy. Cross either at your peril; hope they don't notice you creeping along as if just another beetle among trillions. Posting random musings doesn't camouflage skin from imminent attack, instead infuriates enemies and puts you square in their crosshairs.

Power only has value if you know when to apply it or use it as a deterrent. Aggressive posturing betrays weakness. Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly but carried a big stick. Democracy demonstrates racy talk and mocks arrogant leaders. Republicans spend a lot of time in can of some gin-soaked pub, likely relishing illicit drugs and sex trysts which they’ll later deny while hypocritically upholding morality and impudently equating Clinton’s few legal if salacious affairs between consenting adults with multiple accusations of groping, pedophilia, rape, and sexual harassment among own team. Fraudulent Fox fiends Ailes and Hannity aren’t gone, but persist on supportive media that spew propaganda. One side clearly isn’t as bad as the other, though both are reprehensible. They delight in taking advantage of perks they’ve conferred upon themselves, even gloat on social media.

So, what’s wrong with Facebook, Indeed, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter? They pose as ways to reach a global network, but really exist inside echo chambers. You only reach a small number of people by design, yet expose your personal ideas and identity to whoever wants to hurt you from afar. What you might say in a moment of pique becomes your defining attribute. Ask Juli Briskman, whose only mistake was her honesty. Welcome to Labann’s world. Publicity enables anyone to accuse, blackball, categorize, characterize, defame, deny, dox, indict, investigate, misquote, peg, persecute or prosecute you; it will put you on the scene of a crime but won’t provide you with an alibi. Where’s the upside? For Briskman, liberal partisans collected a consolation bailout. If you portray self as a model citizen, nobody will believe and you’ll be profiled as a deadbeat, narcissist, or small man to ignore. D-I-Y media solely provides an outlet for those with no self control.

You have no right to privacy in public places. If those who surveil cameras see you riding roads or roaming about, they may accuse you or form opinions about your behavior. Same goes for internet’s information highway. What you do in your own home is sheltered by law from peeping toms, though walls do not screen you from cyber stalking, heat sensors, and other invasions. Computer monitors feature cameras and microphones that can record conversations you’d think were hidden and intimate. Data flows back to carriers as to which programs or websites you prefer. Browsing inclination invites telemarketing molestation. Worse, carefully composed statements you intentionally broadcast gets maligned and misconstrued. Unless you show up in person to defend what few rights you still have, better stick to exchanging transparent recipes like a wireframe cook from atop a mountain on other side of world.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Drain Fountain

Former bike commute passed a decorative fountain. Once, someone sabotaged it with laundry detergent, so suds billowed forth. Afterwards, fountain was indefinitely shut down. Seems soapy film is a traffic hazard. Come Autumn, many fountains are routinely drained and idled to avoid freezing and await Spring, renewed only if anyone remembers to restore. Many are just abandoned, bad for bicyclists, among the few passers-by who get to enjoy their apotropaic tintinnabulum that wards off evil spirits since not drowned by motor drone and enclosed by a chassis chaperone. Rides that feature natural waterfalls generally entail rigorous uphill slogging to find delight in their splashing, so recur infrequently. November's jaunts are bundled and short to savor some steaming espresso or warm snack.

An anniversary can be cause to celebrate or reevaluate. As a ongoing endeavor rapidly approaching 10th year since publication (2008), 20th since originated, can Bike&Chain go on indefinitely? Not everything will ever be said, as references will forever be discovered or newly emerge. Takes a veteran effort to continue; silence acts as outmoded, probably poison Ethrane anesthetic. While positive responses would be preferable, persistence shouldn't be necessary. Truth will find its own way to manifest without you. Although this conveyance may last a lifetime, in aged rage Labann can retire this angry page, need not spout on, simply shut faucet at any time.

Planned to produce a guide for motorists regarding bicyclists (as if any would notice given source). When US Energy Secretary Perry claims fossil fuels will end sexual assaults, uncontested by sociologists, is there any point in trying to illuminate anyone? Will at least list last collected books, videos, and whatnot, then start a seasonal hiatus. Even Mr. Bean took a holiday.

Regarding previously reported songs, Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj, Side to Side, Dangerous Woman (Republic Rec., 2016), which crudely alludes to bicycles amidst modest bump and grind and demurely depicts middle aged matrons pedaling spin cycles, had over 1 billion views on Youtube in less than a year. Queen’s Bicycle Race, around since 1978 and probably the most widely known song citing bikes, which flashes 65 bare naked twentysomething women spinning in Wimbeldon Stadium, only garnered 10 million, 1/100th as many hits. Skylar Grey’s sexy bike rap C’mon Let Me Ride, which quotes Queen song, had nearly 32 million views. Seems to reinforce idea that stark reality is no match for suggestive eroticism. In a consumerist, materialistic world, market mantra says sell sizzle, not steak. One might ask, “Where’s the beef?” though that further smacks of gender objectivism and phony slogan. Ranchers closely keep cash cows in barn. Yet Wiz Khalifa’s hip hop homage See You Again to fast and furious motoring fatality Paul Walker sits atop Youtube with 3 billion, eclipsing narrative songsmiths Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, who join a host of female artists who’ve slipped in popularity. Sadly, public only wants sexual tease, not some fascinating story.

Among concrete music compositions, found a network news interview with Steven Barber (aka JohnnyRandom) regarding likewise listed Bespoken, his 2013 contribution with sounds all derived from bicycle components, a franchise theorized a century ago, started by Pierre Schaeffer 75 years ago (diamond jubilee), and revived in 1963 by Frank Zappa’s cyclophony performance Improvised Concerto for Two Bicycles, intended to mock avant garde experiments. Both The Beatles' A Day in the Life (banned from radio for years) and Pink Floyd's Bike (ringing alarms and ticking clocks) soon followed in 1967. Such techniques became commonplace in recordings of the 1970’s. At Ghent, Belgium’s Festival of Electronic Music in 1974, London art collective COUM Transmissions (“No boundaries; anyone can produce art.”) performed their piece entitled Marcel Duchamp’s Next Work, which arranged 12 replicas of Duchamp’s 1913 bike art sculpture in a circle upon which volunteers played as if musical instruments, perhaps origin of imaginary swamp idiots lambaste and want drained.

To celebrate 150 years in business, Brooks Saddles had author/editor/journalist Guy Andrews compile The Brooks Compendium of Cycling Culture (Thames & Hudson, 2017, 192 pp.), though it but scratches the butt of this vast topic with articles by noted writers, mostly British, and illustrations.

Carlton Reid, Bike Boom (Island Press, 2017, 272 pp.), follows up on his 2015 book Roads Were Not Built for Cars, both of which document an intentional reduction in bicycling infrastructure in favor of heavily taxed, overly expensive, and totally unsustainable motoring. Historian James Longhurst's Bike Battles (University of Washington Press, 2014, 306 pp.) asks why cities today are so ill equipped to handle bicycles after over a century of use. Cars, drugs and guns will undoubtedly remain congressional sacred cows, since they transfer energy and wealth into deepest pockets.

Cycle Me Home (Dániel Vérten, dir., 2012): Laid back street level documentary about a 3200 kilometer transeuropean tour from Madrid to Budapest. Though sagged, youngsters pedaled fixies and slept in tents, enough suffering to warrant mention.

Dusty Kid (alias for Italian producer Paolo Lodde), Beyond That Hill (Boxer Rec., 2011): Thanks to video above, found a new album of 8 ambient electronica including bicycling related title track to add to list.

Mixed reviews hound Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt (The Overlook Press, 1987), a travelog regarding a rugged bicycle journey during winter of 1963 from England to India. Dervla resisted peppering text with encyclopedia entries, thereby limited it to only what she personally experienced and judged for herself, which alienated some readers, something Labann knows all too well. One ought to cultivate one’s own uniqueness; leads to authenticity, which rabble often reject. What’s so good about uniformity, which weakens society?

Martijn Doolaard’s One Year on a Bike tells a similar story of his 2015 trek of 17,000 km through 18 countries from Amsterdam to Singapore. Felix Starck outdid them both in 2013 with 18,000 km through 22 countries around the globe in 365 days, though doubts have been raised. Imagine some humbler bicyclist has traveled every single country on every continent and never recorded or wrote about it. Egomania has no such shame.

Nick Moore’s Mindful Thoughts for Cyclists: Finding Balance on Two Wheels (Ivy Press, 2017, 160 pp.), channels Labann’s better passages. Ben Levine's Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling: Achieving Balance in the Modern World (Leaping Hare, due out 2018, 144 pp.) also muses on similar sensations.

Paper Boys (Mike Mills, dir., 2000, 41 minutes) documents a handful of teens living an anachronism by delivering newspapers by bikes in Stillwater, MN. Paper Girls is a graphic novel series by Cliff Chiang (art) and Brian K. Vaughan (story). Each rides a bike about like a knight who'd restore a right against those who abuse their might.

Guardian reporter Peter Walker proposes Bike Nation: How Cycling Can Save the World (Penguin/Random, 2017, 288 pages). Comedian George Carlin did remind people that Earth doesn’t need saving; it will endure long after humans go extinct.

Phil Gaimon suggests you Ask a Pro: Deep Thoughts and Unreliable Advice from America’s Foremost Cycling Sage (Velopress, 2017, 216 pp.), a hilarious sarcastic dig at cycling sanctimony.

Feature film The Program, Stephen Frears, dir., 2015, has an Irish journalist suspecting a Tour de France champion of doping. Based on David Walsh’s book, Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong.

Television series Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month (Season 3, Episode 7): The hyper-phobic detective (Tony Shalhoub) goes undercover to clear name of fellow police officer by identifying thief of seized cocaine (stuffed into fake top tube of girl’s bicycle) while solving a murder at a box store. Previously mentioned Mr. Monk On Wheels (Season 7, Episode 11): Biological researcher’s bicycle gets stolen. Since assistant Natalie (Traylor Howard) feels responsible, she enlists Monk’s help. Adrien gets shot in each leg on the way to foiling industrial sabotage and intellectual theft, recovering bike, and solving murder case. This detective series, which ran 125 episodes from 2002 to 2009, is still enormously popular, probably because of Monk’s brilliant successes despite crippling compulsions with which he continually dealt.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tease Your Brain

While bicycling, how safe are you? What would you do if things went haywire? While ostensibly a physical activity, intelligence increases odds of survival. Take this Safety Pop Quiz, though neither cautions nor statistics motivate, and suggestions herein state consequences bicyclists debate. Only folly will ever guarantee safety.

1. Coming upon a blind right turn, you:
a. continue at speed; weave out for a better look.
b. downshift, hug right margin, slow.
c. turn head to check traffic behind as you hold line and turn.

2. At an intersection with 2 lanes in each direction, "right turn only” for right lane, you:
a. hug right edge of left lane.
b. pass cars on right and remain in shoulder; watch for hook from trailing cars.
c. stay in right lane behind cars; go or stop with traffic.

3. State requires helmets for children under 16 years, so, as an adult, you:
a. believe helmets cause accidents, so never wear.
b. buy child a helmet, but don’t wear one yourself.
c. wear when riding in cities, not in suburbs.

4. A big dog darts out. You:
a. abruptly dismount; shield yourself with bike; use pepper spray.
b. choose an easy gear; say firmly "bad dog"; spin fast.
c. cross street to put traffic between snarling beast and you.

5. While you rapidly descend a hill, SUV pulls out to occupy entire lane. You:
a. anticipate such situations and always descend under control.
b. brake hard and slide feet first.
c. cross road into far shoulder.

6. Road curves right, so you:
a. maintain rightful space in lane.
b. squeeze further right to avoid corner clippers.
c. weave as a warning to overtaking cars.

7. Cleated, you take a tumble on a sudden steep segment, then:
a. check for cuts and damage; recover composure.
b. crawl as fast as possible out of travel lane; drag bike with you, if you can.
c. get up, remount, ride again as if nothing happened. Sports abides no tears.

8. Lightning strikes nearby, so you:
a. continue and ignore; rubber tires insulate you.
b. find shelter indoors and wait for storm to pass.
c. pull up under a tree.

9. On a narrow road, motorists coming in both directions look likely to meet where you are, so:
a. ignore them; you’re entitled to use road, too.
b. pull over or slow down to let them pass.
c. speed up to outrun situation.

10. On bike path, notice driver racing toward you waving weapons. You:
a. cheer him on; it’s discriminatory profiling to condemn religious terrorism.
b. play chicken; speed up and steer straight toward.
c. ride alone, heads up, single file beforehand; take cover during.

Answers: No peeking until your answers are set.
1b. You should shift and slow, because you could be turning into an uphill and topple. For a. and c., you momentarily lose sight of merging traffic. Use a rearview mirror instead of turning head.

2a. As if another vehicle, unless you're turning right you should occupy right 1/3 of left through lane. b. Motorists never notice you in their blind spot. c. Makes you a target and unduly impedes your progress as cars join queue.

3c. Best answer, but would be better to always wear one. Peloton racers all do. No excuse, urban sprawl touches rural routes, too. Some argue that helmets give a false sense of invulnerability. But in 95% of fatal bicycling accidents rider was helmet-less, too convincing a correlation to ignore. By not wearing one, you're not only a bad example but might leave dependents without a parent or spouse.

4b. Try to carefully pass the 300 foot territory that dog guards. Cranking quickly confuses, so dog can’t easily latch onto your ankle. Voice commands shame dogs and trigger behaviors. a. With 3 million dog bites every year for which blameworthy owners weasel out, don’t escalate situation. c. This would work if you could anticipate, cross safely twice, and not endanger self, but scenario indicates surprise.

5a. Unfortunately, the only time you can take advantage of a nice downhill is when you’re sure nobody will intersect and pavement permits. Hitting a long crack, raised paint line, or sand spill might dump you headlong. All bicyclists ply increasingly ill kept roads thicker than ever with traffic.

6b. More than half of motorists violate breakdown lane on curves. Once around curve, you momentarily become invisible. No point using self to test their reflexes. Though statistics perversely deny, long personal experience validates likelihood of being overtaken.

7b. Motorists cresting hill and exceeding limit won’t see you on ground; result will be worse than a fall.

8b. Lightning finds its fastest path to ground, so arcs through tallest conductor, which might include metal conveyance you’re holding, tree under which you’re standing, or you. Take a time out to enjoy the display while insulated indoors.

9b. Bicyclists can’t ignore surroundings, must constantly adapt. c. Motorists often speed up to beat one another to spots, seldom want to follow bicyclists.

10c. Victims of Halloween massacre on Hudson Bike Path were all foreign nationals from Argentina and Belgium riding in clusters. Survivors among them were ones who were isolated. ISIS provoked terrorist struck no blow against Americans at all. But you can never be sure what insane mayhem you’ll come across, so ever be wary.

If you got 10 correct, you may live forever. If 9 or 8, sigh relief, risks are minimal. Per trip in USA, competent bicyclists are 4 times less likely to succumb to hazards than pedestrians, and 10 times more likely to survive than motorists, because they occupy so little room and roll at speeds that compliment traffic flow. Hit 6 or 5, wise up. If you only managed 4 or 3 and have dependents, seriously consider life insurance. From 2 to none, prepay funeral arrangements. Don't forget, they can harvest your athletic organs and tendons for allografts and transplants.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dirge Quinzaine

Given current president’s reality show legacy, ever wonder why federal government doesn’t hold survivor competitions to recruit the best and brightest? Think about how America wastes great minds and physical talents with game shows and silly sports instead. Or how so called “Leader of the Free World” surrounds himself with subpar accomplices. They make Labann look like a Full Bright scholar; have at least tested bike headlights on high beam to tell how long they last on a full charge. Could hire Nobel laureates to concoct tests and pledge considerable prizes that contestants would be eager to collect. Once you screen participants and weed out imbeciles, the top ten would all be offered appointments to high level posts, presumably to advise amazingly and pull together effective policy.

Probably wouldn’t work. Whoever you’d most want to engage wouldn’t be interested. Competent performers are already doing something they consider more important. Besides, who could trust that feds weren’t just rounding up their betters for slaughter? Run the other way!

Should an impeachment remove president from office, hence it would be Pence, kindred nonsense. Cynics think chiefs intentionally benefit by comparison to worse veeps. Nation might be loathe to go from frying pan into fire, ride the lame horse for four short years, soothe selves with reassuring clichés, suspect they can’t meanwhile do irreparable damage, but they’d be wrong.

Government never follows commonsense practices. Monoliths stay put. Any change is too late, too little, and works only to preserve itself. If it doesn’t operate responsibly, resolves no issue timely, and taxes vast majority abusively, doesn’t that make authority the average citizen’s enemy? They are forced to depict boogeymen to deflect blame from themselves. Conditions are too good and lives are too precious to waste time on worry. Better to enjoy your journey by going by bike.

People actually believe that if you sort, identify, label, number, an surveil stuff you are behaving rationally and scientifically. But once the reason for doing so gets lost, the rest is merely empty ceremony, practically magical incantations and specious voodoo. You should reach back to origins sometimes to rediscover meaning. Bicycling teaches where pavement came from, who gets to use it foremost, and why motoring, with all its automated comforts, collision avoidance, cruise control, and wireless distractions, lowers everyone’s safety by reducing driver skills.

Presented for your morbid curiosity are 15 likewise baleful bicycling ballads hitherto unmentioned. Wonder about all this bipolar gloom; a couple even outright describe crashing. Bicycling usually improves mood. Quinzaine is to 15 as a dozen is to 12. Could have looked for a few more related songs, maybe bright and cheery ones, but just how many other words rhyme with chain that haven’t already been used as B&C blog titles?

BallBoy, Olympic Cyclist, i hate scotland, C.I.A. Rec., 2000.

Cyriel, Eddy [The Cannibal] Merckx [Belgian, single], Life Records, 1970.

Juan Luis Guerra, El Niágara en Bicicleta [Dominican merengue], Ni Es Lo Mismo Ni Es Igual, Karen, 1999. About an accident on a bicycle, then, atrocious attention patient begging for help gets in a third world hospital, neither the same nor equal, worse than trying to cross Niagara Falls on a bicycle. Song won recognition and sales for its social conscience on crucial issues.

Jenna Lindbo, Head over Handlebars, Jasmine Parade, self, 2012.

Juliette, Un Petit Vélo Rouillé [French, “A Little Rusty Bike”], No Parano, 2010. “A small rusty bike in a squalid creaking takes a tangled path. And pedal in the void it runs on the rim increasingly faded, tracing a nasty wheel, a vicious and vicious circle… This miserable bicycle. Who will have me, heart, broken! There is only you to show how ridiculous it is. All parts, the cycle of black ideas.”

Kelsey Law, Head Over Handlebars, single, self, 2013. Replete with a tragic backstory. Not same song as Lindbo's, though shares identical title.

Kevin Thorsell, Ride My Bike, single, self, 2009. Teen experiment goes awry.

Melody 101, Bicycle Girl, Baked in A Pie, self, 2015. “None of these stories are lies. Bicycle Girl doesn’t lie. Bicycle Girl is gonna rule the world.”

Redbong, Hip Hop Poulidor, Divisés [pour mieux régner], Discograph, 2009. Racer Raymond Poulidor was sadly famous for finishing second so often, particularly to Merckx.

Roméo, Ma Vie, Mes Copains Et Ma Bicyclette, L’Enfant a la Voix D’or, Choice of Music, 2002. “I have my life, my buddies, and then my bicycle… In my room, I alone make the law. And I do not need anyone. It’s my paradise, my America… When you are my age, you need to have some freedom.”

The Pale Fountains, Bicycle Thieves [no cycling lyrics], From Across the Kitchen Table, Virgin, 1985.

The Rosebuds, Death Of An Old Bike, Sand+Silence, Western Vinyl, 2014.

Tom Rosenthal, Bicycle Lane, B-Sides, Tinpot Rec., 2013. “Can you see the colors change? Oh, they’re blurring into shapes. What if you had a thought? It’s time to make the great escape. Yeah, there's no sign of cars; you’re in the bicycle lane.”

Violet Road, Bicycle [Norwegian in English], In Town To Get You, Sony Music, 2016.

Will Stroet, Le Boogie à Vélo [French Canadian], Dans Ma Jardin, [self], 2009.

To spread some cheer in this xenophobic holiday preseason, close with a quote from a non-bicycling ditty, “So if you’re up there somewhere Santa, please don’t bring me another bike… but there’s something kind of special that I want most of all. I Want an Alien for Christmas.” - Fountains of Wayne

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bang Cinquain

Indicting GM ranks among this blog’s most controversial, divisive, and provocative pronouncements. Nobody noticed. Encouragement? Reaction? Symphony of crickets? Artists and writers thrive on direct input. There’s plenty of peripheral material through network news and social media, but practically none that merits mention without personal motivation. One picks facts to make points. Just being surrounded by daily tumult can inspire another output. But what incites meaningful action? Why go by bike instead of car during unsettled weather? Too bothered to constantly check forecasts, one might forfeit progress, forget feeling better, ignore muscle tone, or lose interest altogether. Then sun rises, and urge to splurge arises.

Bike commutes represent just one of many ride options, but one that steadily recurs. You can instead form trains, go together in groups, recreate elsewhere alone, submit to fund raisers, take short neighborhood spins, or tour across country or state borders. Once you involve others, you limit number of trips. Commute routes need to start flat and short; otherwise you wouldn’t arrive on time. Returns can be lengthened to take in hills and scenery. As autumnal equinox passes, daylight at commute hours disappears. Shift from saving to standard time opens a short window to ride again without lights, though soon you must recharge them or replace batteries. You may attempt sunlit midday trips year round in most localities. Winter commutes tend to be entirely in darkness, which discourages all but the dauntless. Some attend indoor spin classes to deter later ineffectiveness.

Was once excited, ready and suited for a winter bicycle commute on a new route. Parked truck in a high traffic lot and rolled bike onto a quiet side street into cauldron pot blackness. Held headlight button for prescribed few seconds and lit as expected. After about a mile it popped. Walked back blind to where streetlights were and wended carefully back to vehicle to resume by motor. Among worst cycling disappointments ever, never got a chance to repeat that loop, which included a new bridge bike lane and rolling country terrain. Have been caught in rain and snow, laid low in hail and lightning, proceeded with caution in fog and on ice, but was never otherwise so utterly forced to retreat. Must always be wary of failure, especially by bike, since it might entail consequences you won’t like.

Can dwell on tragic finality, the curse that befalls all who empathize, or get distracted by comic absurdity as do those who rationalize. Wisdom finds a stance astride. Eyes on the prize don't preclude being blindsided. Need your head on a swivel to identify, react to, and rule out threats while you keep what's important in focus and try to learn what's profitable. You won’t discover it in a casino playing Wheel-O-Rama trying to match five figures across.

“Money talks, bullsh*t walks,” by which they mean people who can pay get treated royally while rest are derided ignominiously. Tempted to rephrase, "Wealth motors, poverty bikes," but bicycling spans all classes, and slogans, however false, seem less so if they rhyme, as if the extra effort of using fancy language legitimizes. No political speech writer or pulpit homily moralizer would ever be deprived of a rhyming dictionary. Apt phrases rattle inside addled brains, just a parlor trick that makes possible persuading the most apathetic without actual arm wrestling.

Life is mostly about getting, going, spending and sleeping. Leaves little chance to be brave. Choosing to go by bike only exposes you to different dangers than motoring. An automotive shell may seem like armor, but because of small footprint bicyclists avoid collisions altogether. Better never to collide.

All humans were born with a fear button. Politicians and pontificators specialize in pushing it to release fight or flight hormones. If you don’t respond, you’re left to assess doubts, misgivings, or regrets. Traced fork of failure back to a blur of pork on a spork. Yet middle aged flab once was a sign of affluent endurance not gross ugliness. Thereby survived stretches of lean and plenty without sheltering the blameworthy. A Labann cinquain, “Election Day”, exposes roots of evil times:

brazen, sneaky
blood sucking politicians
murder more than mosquitos

Its meter resembles how some Congressmen bilked public of trillions, a bit at first, then bam bam, then bam bam bam, increasing from annually to quarterly until one incessant bang. Pettiness wants to deprive the powerless, steal a meal, stash as cash. Fear of future want compels such compulsion. Cinquain, an American Imagist poetic form based on Japanese haiku, is direct with an economy of words for short attention spans. Upon volumes of details taxpayers grew numb. Does anybody know who got away with treachery or remember who got indicted? While it disappoints and seems disrespectful, when nobody listens you can at least expect mobs won’t react wrongly. In Las Vegas, terrorists who do lash out heinously. Blame it on biased conservative media, who have already instigated next attack, always suborn treason, and arguably validate psychos. Aren’t all of these crimes?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Blown Powertrain

Results are in. After nearly 2 decades of counting near misses, rude behaviors, and tantamount criminality on byways and highways, compiled significant statistics and profiled successfully those who ought to have motoring privileges permanently revoked.

Race didn't matter, although in New England you see more caucasians behind wheels versus asians, blacks or hispanics. Appearance means nothing; genetics don’t determine driving skills. All offend equally within demographic limits. Cruel carnage doesn’t discriminate. Neither would Intelligence tests exonerate those who blare horns, cut bicyclists off, force into curb, hook at turns, pass on right or too close, peel out ahead, protrude past stops, scream out windows, or throw trash bombs. Have likewise witnessed courtesies of backing up to clear path or stopping to block other vehicles to let pedalers pass. As square dancers in traffic's desperate dos-á-dos and vis-á-vis, bicyclists appreciate not being slammed into or treated as if moshpit maniacs. Exercising inalienable rights, humans move, but pundits do say dangers of bike riding have risen.

Bicyclists earn right to pass red lights and stop signs by letting faster traffic pass them while dodging actual grates and manholes, artificial menaces, and "manhole motorists”, forfeiting own share, and not messing with Mother Nature. Otherwise, benefits would barely outweigh drawbacks. Of course, this means careful and defensive road use, easier for bicyclists able to hear and see stripped of an automotive shell while rolling at only 12 mph on average. People who pick motors respect brethren less, seldom look back after squashing relentless rabbits and suicide squirrels, and too often mercilessly speed out of control.

Facile conjectures ruled out, choice of vehicle does correlate with cretins. General Motors sold a large number being operated, although in any given study year they weren't top producers in popular categories. Yet since 2001 those who drive Chevrolet and GMC cars, pickups, SUVs and vans account for 67.3% of 1200 observed incidents. In cases where personally hit, all 3 were GM. To what can this skew be attributed?

For other GMC makes - Buick, Cadillac, Corvette, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac - recorded incidents were negligible. Top selling Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas, and Volkswagen Golfs come in a distant second despite preferential road presence. According to MoneyTalks in 2016, drivers of luxury vehicles get ticketed least, a tenth as often as Chevys, Nissans and Volkswagens. Higher priced models are usually operated carefully; creasing a quarter panel by impacting a cyclist might involve huge deductibles, insurance increases, and out-of-pocket expenses. When cars cost less, do such deterrents apply? Lexus ranked as both highest and lowest, ranging 33% to 3% from least to most expensive versions.

In direct contradiction, Forbes insists Mercedes S and other luxury coupes tend to be ticketed twice the norm, but also sensible Toyota Camry sedans, which Forbes claims are driven by crones without family passengers versus minivans and SUVs. It’s self serving nonsense pandering to upmarket readers. Bicyclists disagree and will forever be more wary of landscapers hauling trailers and soccer moms speeding teams in wide transporters on suburban streets. Proves only that there's no consensus. Police miss 98% of scofflaw acts, which NHTSA attributes more to teen males than other age/gender groups, so ticket numbers don’t count. Vehicle rank is agitprop based on speculative pap, as are all statistics upon which policymakers dote.

Factors beyond numbers sold or tickets issued need to be considered. Why are incidents with Jimmies 8 times more likely than Henrys? Ford F Series pickups garnered top sales figures throughout study years, 34 million to date, yet only figure in 8.7% of complaints. FBI and police drive both Fords and GMCs equally, more than all other makes combined. Vehicle collisions kill more law enforcers than any other cause. Could there be design flaws in Chevy heavy metal that intensify driver aggression and road rage? Fear and goosebumps come from a glimpse of italic cross blazoned emphatically across a Chevy’s crucifyimg grille. Maybe that’s message intended: “Clear or die. Out of my f***ing way.”

It's well documented that bigger, higher vehicles encourage excessive speed, since drivers can see further than those in passenger cars, which conversely stop in shorter distances due to momentum differences. Also, because they can't fit through traffic breaks, wide bodies provoke impatience. This is why it's unsafe to drive near tractor trailers. Root causes could include ergonomic defects that generate discomfort or distress, such as bad suspension or poor handling typical in trucks. Triple A rated tires found on better models assert track, raise confidence, and squelch aggression. Operator cockpits require adjustability, usability and visibility. More likely, it's in attitudes of those who buy brand. Buyer remorse? With popularity of leasing, more deal short term, so not saddled with lemon hassles. Still, automotive costs drive drivers bonkers. Price for performance isn’t repaid with crumbled roads and traffic congestion. High performance Chrysler and Nissan cars recorded highest death rates, twice average, for millions miles driven in last year assessed, 2014.

Why does anyone choose a make or model? Much can be attributed to family history, nationalism (although these days everything automotive involves global manufacturing), peer pressure, pigheaded inflexibility, prejudice, previous satisfaction… same as racism. Obese drivers decide on trucks, despise subcompacts, and deride cyclists since they disrespect selves. Does frequency of occurrence warrant unprecedented warnings? Nobody heeds them, as ubiquitous as traffic tumult. Perhaps insurers could increase already exorbitant premiums. Insurance itself encourages rudeness, gives motorists a fatal illusion of safety, goads risk taking, and provides only a leaky net from legal fiascos involving millions in losses that slightest lapse of self control might elicit. The cover story that motorists are trained sufficiently to handle horsepower has already been blown. Definitely need to help real people find new roads.

Why reference if not to persuade someone and render roads a sliver safer for everyone? Could save a life, but might infuriate those profiled who believe they own road, collect tickets as if trophies, drive Chevys badly, ignore vulnerable road users, pass shamelessly on right, and weave through traffic already traveling at speed limit. Maybe rage results in net loss. They have nobody’s permission to oversleep then try to make up time by endangering others. Doesn’t work anyway; they just dart ahead to back of next jam instead of running steadily. Rush hours are riskiest time to roll; 22% of bike accidents occur between 6:00 and 9:00 PM.

Same as a border wall for which someone else will presumably pay, oversized vehicles ought to be surcharged for massive highway upgrade. Highways aren’t half as bad as local roads and neighborhood streets that require 90% of attention. Appeasing transportation angst, forcing trains to run on time, was how Mussolini consolidated control in pre-WWII Italy. Understand proposal for what it is: A tax diversion to automakers, insurers, lenders, and mobs who run construction companies. Applicants will be suckered into allegiance, but assemblers bear eroding compensation and laborers only draw <25% of project cash. This isn't the only parallel, but are enough citizens willing to identify signs and modify course before nazi gangsters take over?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

And Would Fain…

Constellations are merely arbitrary groupings of bigger or closer conspicuously bright stars. Any honorable historian mainly blames Lacaille (modern) and Ptolemy (ancient) for names. Towards the center of our Milky Way Galaxy there happen to be more apparently bright stars among hundreds of millions than elsewhere. Of the 88 generally listed, you tend to remember constellations associated with astrological signs, for examples, Aries, Cancer, Leo, Pisces, and Taurus through which ecliptic passes. Others, such as Camelopardalis (Giraffe), only pop up as mind quizzes on bicycle rides and game shows. Certain ones resonate with bicyclists: Andromeda (Chained Lady), Antlia (Air Pump), Auriga (Charioteer), Libra (Balance), and Pegasus (Winged Steed).

Ever mindful and persistent, Andromeda of Greek mythology was chained to rocks as a sacrifice to undersea god Poseidon. Hero Perseus flew in on horse Pegasus to save her. For bicyclists chains and steeds excite imagination and incite mention. Andromeda is a frame name among more than a few bike makers including Carrera (1996) and Pinarello (2017), the latter the favorite brand of Team Sky and Tour de France champion Chris Froome. Pegasus is another Carrera model (1996) and a defunct Dutch bike brand (c. 1970’s). Andromeda Klein is a bicycling heroine and tarot occultist of Frank Portman’s teen novel of same name (Dell Publishing, 2009).

Antlia Pneumatica, the original Latin name Lacaille gave in 1751 to commemorate the Machine Pneumatique invented by compatriot Denis Papin, lies within former grouping Argo Navis (Argonauts’ Ship) in Southern sky, now split into 3 renamed subregions. Herschel later truncated name. Pneumatic tires that require air pumps were conceived nearly a century later by Thomson and realized by Dunlop; clinchers were patented by Jeffrey in 1882. Looking through Antlia astronomers see a face-on spiral galaxy, NGC 2997, which in time lapse photos appears as a faint gankyil wheel in deep space. Galaxies rotate as do most things out there, but not so you’d never notice.

Chariots were mankind’s first 2 wheeled conveyance. Auriga’s diamond shape and pair of wheels were adapted to buggies, carriages, carts, and eventually Draisienne dandy horses from which modern bicycles emerged. Chariot in tarot represents motivation, movement, and unification of working parts with a goal of starting anew. It’s also the tradename of a bicycle trailer. Expert woodcut (shown) by renowned printmaker Mark Sisson, art professor at Oklahoma State University, “Deals with the battle between small ‘specialized’ bike shops (the bike messenger as constellation figure Auriga), and mega-box stores (represented by my dog [wearing the store branded collar] nipping at the messenger’s heels).”

Libra Cycle is a current Indian brand specializing in juvenile bicycles. For German maker Tyrell it’s a current bike model. Libra represents balance, fairness, focus, honesty and trust, practices that especially serve two wheelers. To weigh 2 sides of any issue speaks to ambivalence bicyclists often express. Virgo Goddess Dike snatched the scales from Scorpio’s claw. Gliese 581 in Libra has been confirmed to possess a planetary system, possibly with at least one planet that would support life as you’d know it. Who are the people in your celestial neighborhood?

Canis Major (Big Dog) could also be of concern to cyclists. Onza make a Canis MTB tire whose treads offer, “Both the ferocity of a wolf and reliability of your neighbor’s dog.” If more people rode bikes instead of drove, you might be able to see stars again. During one late ride on a small island well off coast of New England was amazed to trace Milky Way, which seemed close enough to touch with sky unpolluted by exhaust fumes and street lights. Carbon emissions also induce cloud cover as planet heats up and water evaporates into atmosphere. Do miss watching meteor showers, which appear to radiate from a particular constellation on a predictable evening, really where the earth returns after orbiting sun for a year and swings by to again intercept particles from a comet’s decayed tail.

It’s wasn’t only heroes, kings, mighty beasts, and titans who were immortalized in constellations, but lowly fish, fly, lizard and tools, such as compass, easel, and scales. No celebrated cultural icon, modern head of state, or sports champion ever merited this supreme honor, not even Lord Byron, who, inspired by planet Jupiter, misidentified it as a star. Nothing any human might henceforth do would elevate that person into heavens, unless one fain pays to have some distant star unofficially and willingly named for her or him. Instead of sensible scientific conventions, constellations should be seen as a haphazard collections of points forming regions with blurry borders. Ancient Chinese divisions into equal mansions formed maps that resembled spoked wheels for a system far more exact. Perhaps it’s too late to divest space of its literary baggage.

Glory days of evangelization and grand gestures are gone. These days one probably won’t write best or longest pieces when nobody shows the least interest. True, some babble all day or mumble to themselves for hours, even aloud. But to compose, edit, proof and publish seem either compulsive or sociopathic when there's no audience, client or encouragement. One can write to right wrongs, satisfy self, or sharpen skills, but what becomes of it? Such outputs are neither profitable nor safe. Entire novels have been tossed onto fires to avoid consequences of honesty, not always the best policy.

It’s neither easy nor important being earnest, at best frowned upon or laughed at. Even after exploring ethics for thousands of pages, can’t expect anyone to treat you fairly, justly, with no malice or self interest. Perhaps, had ethical behaviors been normal over last 3 centuries, scientific and technological progress would have stalled. You can’t experiment with dangerous forces without risking lives. Earthlings just began their probings of extraterrestrial frontiers and what they’ve been exposing amazes. You’d think sorting out meaning from human genome, microscopic universe, planetary constituents, and vastness of space would motivate and satisfy without petty racism, political ambition, and state greatness. Small minds seek immediate gratification. The future belongs to those who prepare.

"I felt troubled-and would fain / I had not left my recent chain; And when I did descend again / Darkness... fell on me as a heavy load... too much opprest / Had almost need of such a rest... In quiet we had learn'd to dwell / My very chains and I grew friends... I regained my freedom with a sigh."—Lord Byron, The Prisoner of Chillon

Monday, September 4, 2017

Think Distrain

Now for the rest of the story: Will it cast a pall over your holiday celebration? Some have little to celebrate this weekend with work cut out for them by natural disasters. Why not laugh at how commentators characterize events? Take the so called British rock invasion. American blues and jazz invaded England decades earlier. It was just a rehash that gathered a stash, whereas those from whom they stole got squat. This substance and sum of how society acts towards those who produce floats to surface when floods crest.

Corporations profit from every catastrophe. Earthquakes, hurricanes, such as Harvey, and tornados fill cashboxes of building materials and durable good manufacturers, retailers and suppliers. Charities scurry to collect alms; directors pay out 10% to those they said they would and pocket 90%. Merchants gouge customers on basic necessities made scarce. Oil refiners pass along loss of windfall profits when they shut down Gulf Coast operations; they suffered no real decline, just decided it’s an excuse to stick it to you.

The fact that all or some of this is flagrantly illegal seems to mean little. Governments could distrain, i.e., seize, money, products or property should they decide it’s in citizens’ best interest. You’ll never see a penny of it. Being in business entails a social contract to provide high quality and serve everybody’s needs, especially during debacles, which intensify deprivation and hardship. Don’t count on it. Bicyclists and citizens always get the least consideration.

Single biggest expense facing corporations is workforce compensation. One day a year they supposedly honor employees with a holiday, that is to say, “Stay home, we don’t want to see your contemptible face today.” Once that meant 1 of 10 annual paid days off. Lately, contractors and temps make up nearly half of staff, and they don’t enjoy any such bonus.

With no benefits or sick days, contingent workers will come in even though they are ill because they can't afford to take time off. They spread disease and thereby reduce productivity and timely response to next business emergency. Bean counters don't care, have no algorithm that accounts for this fare. Explains why more direct employees rather work from home: To avoid cold and flu contagion. Companies complain they can’t afford direct employment because they have to pay insurance premiums for frivolous lawsuits, health maintenance, and workmen’s compensation. Layoffs mean severance costs. Contract workers can be let go cheaply and easily based on forecast inadequacy.

While labor turns out whatever makes life livable, not everything qualifies. Would like to sue mills that weave socks. Socks top polls for worst gift to get. Got on Christmas as a kid and hated them. In some cultures socks signify disrespect; giver "walks" over recipient. Nonprofits collect and distribute shoes and socks to hapless untouchables unworthy of notice, though socks may now be trending as a fashion accessory.

Socks can be inimical by restricting circulation to feet almost as well as tourniquets. They don’t come in sizes you’d want: 6 to 12 is only good for 8, not full range, when just about any other article of clothing comes in S, M, L and XL. For a bicyclist, whose ankles are enlarged and muscular, tightness causes soles to burn and promotes blood clots, evidence enough to bring specious suits for wrongful deaths. Dead don't gripe, never mind hire lawyers. Yet socks can be a key to comfort. Lance Armstrong and NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt even argued over them. Cleats would rub feet raw without. Proof can be seen in fabric wear at heal and toe. Why do you think infants instinctively kick off shoes?

Gravitated to footies, which have no ankle rise and rate among best selling stock, though fall and winter rides require more insulation against cold. Too bad too tight calf, crew, and knee highs are out, as they could protect ankles or replace leggings for united utility. Cotton, too, because it retains moisture. Only olefin (alkene hydrocarbon), polyester, polyester blends, and wool will do. Unfortunately, choices other than cotton causes lingering rashes or unspecified dermatitis. Polyester pills and wool smells. Wear finest silk or merino wool, but promptly remove. Let feet dry uncovered as much as possible.

Those who promote benefits and joys of biking underemphasize its discomforts and hazards. Biking is an earthy, risky, sweaty uncertainty. Driving is a cozy, dirty, lazy luxury. Yet either remains a personal choice. Would biking help Texans get back on their feet? Biking gives them a break from fractioning and hauling crude, though buying fuel sends cash their way even if only a few employ payees or stash proceeds. Bikes, busses, taxis and trains cost less per trip than own/rental car, but people rather withstand indebted servitude for automotive privacy. Busses and taxis have seats that get occupied by different asses, but how is that different from roads that indiscriminately carry anyone. Personal vehicles don’t place owners on pedestals above rest of planetary inhabitants. Panhandlers approach drivers as if they were spendthrift philanthropists, not an entirely wrong assumption.

Easy to be optimistic when you have a long life ahead. By your mid-sixties, all you anticipate is your next meal and wonder whether you'll digest it well. Vitality is what time wants to steal. You age better if you exert yourself, but effort exacts its price in chronic aches and pains. Fun can be had anywhere, but same old scenery becomes wearisome. The more you explore, the farther you have to go to see anything new. By the time you retire, you can't afford and don't want to travel anymore. Motivation wanes.

In the cosmic scheme your comfort means nothing. Trolls automatically assume whatever stance you reject, live to argue, and suck energy from angst as if psychic vampires. Why shouldn’t have-nots be jealous of affluent people? Granted strength or wealth, recipients have a duty to drag along the stricken and weak. Humans are born to hunger, pain, unrequited desires, and want of necessities. Either they meet challenges or suffer. Because they aren’t organized, distrain of offender assets divided equally among victims seldom occurs to them.

Capitalism looks worse every time culprits get away with cheats and fakes, and communism secures increasing appeal. However, one ought to benefit from own efforts, especially when they serve community. Wage earners deserve better but don’t financially thrive, since they pay majority of taxes, which policy makers take and waste. Private citizens and sports stars feel forced to shoulder burden of relief after FEMA cutbacks. So the cycle of get and lose continues to cause want and transfer wealth to least deserving.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Block Amain

Advertisers and oppressors automatically offer you choices between equally awful courses, suggest you pick sides, taunt by insulting and name-calling when you hesitate. Disregard them. They replaced reasons with tokens, since they’d prefer you never think for yourself. Note signs under which gangs and governments cravenly cringe, express detachment, or find solidarity: Arm bands, badges, brands, crests, flags, glyphs, insignias, logos, marks, patches, pins or tattoos. Each can be blatantly despicable or secretly discriminate. Other are innocuous.

As discussed under A Basket or a Palm, Companion Reader (2nd Edition, Nov. 20th, 2008, p 471) the swastika was derived independently by ancient pagan cultures as diverse as Celtic, Mycenean of SE Europe, North American Pima Indian, Sanskrit scholars of central Asia, and Scandinavian. Any basket weaver would recognize its interlacing pattern as an omen of good harvest, thus luck. Nazis only latched onto an eon obscured symbol for their godless regime devoid of all spirituality (but not superstition), which inevitably demands ethical treatment. “Baskets should be to gather and share, not covet and hoard.” Recent history has rendered swastika as divisive a symbol as ever known, standing for genocide, greed, heinous narcissism, murder of innocents, and sadistic perversion. Psychotic murderer Charles Manson has one tattooed on his forehead.

Those who’d rather not commingle, refuse to federate, wave a nearly as schismatic flag. Deliver klansmen some stars (as sparing partners see after a haymaker) and stupid bars (as felons spend lives behind). Indeed, many white supremacists are rightly incarcerated for antisocial animus. In the insular world of NASCAR, they festoon cars and RVs with them, race as if participants don’t matter, and show no respect for rest of nation. Most fans staunchly support Trump, so you know where they’re coming from: Rubes without culture chugging Buds to slaughter what few brain cells they were dealt.

When did vehicles become weapons against citizens and innocents? Calling victims protesters doesn’t legally entitle drivers to mow them down, even if they are impeding traffic. After all, bicyclists and pedestrians, whether alone or en masse, represent traffic just as much as motor vehicles, which take up more area than their fair share. There has never been any right to proceed at speed, only the tenuous privilege of being permitted to use public thoroughfares whenever possible. Ratio of roads mobbed versus vacant is 1:10; to go freely you merely have to choose a suitable timeframe, such as 4:30 AM. Even during afternoon and morning peaks, not all space is used; buffers exist that bicyclists slip through, and sidewalks practically never get used except at malls. If you instead choose to go during surge in a huge SUV or truck, which can’t get out of its own way, you will often get stuck. Why don’t they expect it? Questions their intelligence. Bike&Chain fully realizes that “Why?” is central and essential to bicYcle. Why not cycle instead of seethe at betrayal of beaten and congested streets?

In SE Asia, dualist Yin Yang focuses on how everything consists of dark and light, empty and full, evil and good, female and male, negative and positive, old and young, opposite but reconcilable sides. This millennia old Taoist circle of intertwined amoebas, each containing a seed of other, may entreat tolerance, but stances so extreme have no place and ought not be abided. Just as you can be obnoxiously aggressive, you can be unduly passive, such as reading, talking and writing instead of showing up and taking action. Yet who wants to assume a place in harm’s way? Remark as if you care, and shrewd users take you for a chump. Better to ask questions and feign ignorance than profess preeminence. However, without deeds, losers usher mental defectives into offices of power and policy making positions. Voting alone won’t do it; organizing a new party would better represent ideals and needs than two who currently preside.

Related Gankyil, Dzogchen’s circle of primordial energy, has three parts which spiral in a way that unifies. Literally "Wheel of Joy” in Tibet, its three jewels alternatively suggest base, path and fruit - Buddha, Dharma, Sangha - discipline, meditation, wisdom - infinite, innate, external - or subject, object, action. Similar to but not to be confused with Triskelion, a 3-fold spiral to which ancient Europeans, Neopagans and postmodern BDSM identify, a Gankyil rotating resembles thing you see when you are waiting for computer to save you time. Of universal symbols discussed, none more screams bicycling: Wheels wisely revolving through disciplined effort to arrive at a destination.

Gangkyil’s trinity could also suggest art, science and spirituality, mankind’s 3 known ways of exploring reality. Earthlings can barely wrap their minds around 1 idea, never mind follow 3 swirling together interactively, each tugging upon the other. Truth will never consist of so few dimensions, usually many more than you can conceive. Any meter square environment exhibits evaporation, fermentation, insect communication, Krebs cycle, mitosis, nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis, protein digestion, reproduction, and whatnot. Whether or not you’re aware of all that concurrently occurs is irrelevant.

Some people distribute ink by publishing books. Some keep ink in the form of tattoos. Gangsters and prisoners delight in flaunting misdeeds; makes potential assailants in a violent population think twice about murderous retribution. Carrying a crucifix reminds one of how life is rife with undeserved death and pain, though only the worst reserve this princely status and religions generally condemn fleshy mutilation. Hung on a cross now seems merciful compared to seared alive in a nuclear attack. Modern expertise trumps primitive cruelty by making suffering appear inescapable. You’re a slave or soldier kept alive to serve obediently without personal latitude. Those with might should be expected to fight every threat to an individual’s right to escape this plight.

Recall a campus polarized over communist professor's tenure denial. Students on either side wore No and Yes lapel pins. Labann wore a blank one. There's always a third alternative, usually unimagined, possibly others unexplored, as well. Control freaks and petty authorities abhor choices that loosen their grip on you, reason enough to make initiating feints and perfecting parries your mission. Mainly block any expectations you’ll react in ways to which they presume you’re conditioned after a lifetime of nationalistic slogans and scholastic lies. Anarchists associate with a Circle A. If you do what’s best for entire community you’ll regret it less.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Define Insane

Sociologists estimate that 25% of people suffer from some personality disorder. Most guess that percentage is too low, given how much mayhem, murder and terrorism is reported. And how can you ignore nearly half of those who voted in 2016 elected an impeachable sociopath? News reporters prefer aberrations and perversions and seldom discuss mundane normality and reliability. Although majority associates mental illness with raging psychosis, it mainly describes life threatening depression or minor quirks commonly treatable and typically harmless other than setbacks that affect self. Oddity may even be celebrated as charismatic allure or magnetic attraction. Why stifle yourself? Express how you feel. Leads to charity, cures, friendships and patronage.

But don't ask a cyclist, "How are you doing?" He or she is suffering, of course. For whose sake? Bicycles are torture racks. Masochists? Besides, few to none would stop to discuss. One word replies are all you’ll mercifully get, unless you roll alongside, then you'll hear an earful of anecdotal fragments interrupted by curses, gasps and street noises, possibly a litany of complaints you probably didn't expect or ever wanted to confront. Doctors define insanity as persistent behaviors that harm self or repeatedly fail. Bicycling, blogging and complaining qualify.

Bad enough it takes 3 to 5 times as long to reach destinations, cyclists can't spare a minute. Will never regain 10,000+ hours spent pedaling, never mind dogged activism, event attendance, and relentless jeremiad. Do diehards expect to recoup 415 days at the end of their lives? Will it matter then? Is nothing society needs produced while they waste time? Then again, over a career bicyclists avoid 1,400 average hours stuck idling in gridlock sucking up petrochemical toxins and sweating through traffic threats as do drivers for 14,000 hours. Bicycling beats driving to a gym for a lesser workout. Yet, unless you're a jet attendant or pilot, taxi or truck driver, train engineer, or whatnot, transportation only occupies 2% of your lifespan. People sleep 33%, and work 35% or more, though policymakers deem them inconsequential by what they spend to improve.

Races on closed roads give an impression that motorists don’t really rob time from cyclists. Froome could vroom over 3,450 kilometers past exhilarating vistas and fragrant French farms to his 4th yellow costume win without dodging vehicles that continually and disgustingly fart a miasmatic fume in your face. However, without enormous automotive inducement, would they even pave streets? Asphalt derives from crude oil tars after gasoline and other fractions are extracted. Some argue that pavement of concrete or stone could be laid, but cutting and hauling them requires heavy duty tools and trucks running on fossil fuels.

Grand tours revere barriers to bicycling, stick what only peloton can overcome in spectators faces, but you should instead heed how several hundred can ride bikes for 2,000+ miles over intimidating terrain, not impossible but oh-so probable after all. Makes you wish you were fit and young enough to compete beside. Have personally tagged along with triathletes just to join joys of flying freely. Yet family has been deterred from bike path outings by outsiders acting crazily.

Specialized Bicycles Foundation debuted the Outride ADHD spot during Le Tour de France. Ride for Focus proposes that bike riding helps treat this disability affecting one out of nine American children. Always acknowledged as a mood leveler, bicycling, as recent research shows, increases concentration needed to achieve scholastically. Sure, you have to pay attention to ride; meanwhile, it increases blood flow to brain and limits video distractions. Insights in B&C came from displacing incessant outside agitprop with inner thoughts derived from the equivalent of 5 work-years of riding. Bicycles probably decompress every bit as well as sensory deprivation chambers.

All physical exercise including manual labor has a similar effect, but bicycling offers concentrated doses of enzymes and hormones. Bicycling definitely appeals to artists, autistics, brainiacs, indigoes, and whoever can’t afford to make several thousands per year in car payments. Any adult who finds employment can at least buy a bike outright, though charities exist to assist teens to build their own from used parts. Bike ownership does represent ongoing costs, particularly apparel, tires, tubes and wear ware, with which youth may have difficulty. Why does government do so little to address this need? Wouldn’t take much, staffed and stocked vans adjacent to bike paths to fix flats and teach skills, small expenses versus a trillion they spend every decade on motorways, and some severely needed jobs similar to New Deal era WPA. Great returns could come from small investments of effort, revenue and time.

To engage school kids voters would have to support Safe Routes to School programs, which provide bike lanes on streets, financial assistance, police patrols, storage lockers and racks, and teacher encouragement. Who is going to go on record telling children not to board busses but ride from home alongside? The first one killed en route will result in a precedent lawsuit. Teachers already require signed permission slips just to take class on a field trip by bus. No, the best way has family members or reliable groups escorting youth after hours and weekends on bike paths, provided such facilities exist, get lit, maintained, patrolled, and regularly swept, and lie within a reasonable distance. The jersey barrier mural above shows a kid gleefully outdistancing his dad on one.

Attempts by activists to establish infrastructure has only succeeded in enlightened communities against formidable resistance from automotive lobbies and neighborhood nimbys. Many taxpayers resent paying for education, never mind individual accommodation, saying they neither benefit from expense nor have kids who attend. Both arguments exemplify stupidity, since society as a whole benefits from an educated populace capable of making change, performing work, reading instructions, and transporting self. Ultimately, all bicycling facilities ought to connect, just as road network, include signs specific to cycling, and so become a true transportation alternative.

Reactionaries, exemplified by Trump, ascribe causality to unrelated sources and bemoan anything they think might deny them what they crave. This impedes what works and strangles any sense of community. Contributors made to feel unwanted or useless stop. Sends a chill throughout population. Misogyny attacks majority, 51% of humanity. Women as equals to men is an idea whose time has come. A woman almost became nation's president, right after first African American left office.

The 20th Century with its prejudices, problems, and totalitarian ambitions is over. In the 21st, a whole new utopian paradigm will sweep away internecine greed and unilateral sacrifices. If not, all life on planet will die. Suicide bombers prefer this option; take out as many as you can, as if self immolation deserves a retinue of billions. You’re no Chinese emperor or Egyptian pharaoh! Every Nazi falsely believes her/himself superior. Tyranny thrives on such absurdity. Unless you pertinaciously advocate for civil rights, you quickly fall victim to bullies yourself. Is cycling safe amidst senseless hate?

Pundits predict that media attacks on POTUS will fail. But do they goad retaliation with collateral damage? Social media grants self aggrandizers a forum to browbeat the weak and whip up resentment against the powerless. To get in good with conservative core of cretinous reactionaries from Mesozoic era whence fossils formed, Tyrannosaurus Trump had to dump upon children, cripples, elderly, invalids, mutilated soldiers, policy victims, single moms, social security recipients who’ve earned entitlement, and whoever survives on social welfare, since they represent revenue outflow congressmen can’t conveniently steal. An appeal ought to go to fairness and social justice, not single out personalities who violate arbitrary norms.

Forget revolution. Foster evolution. Upheavals always ruin things that already work well. What deserves to be eliminated ought to be carefully excised or supplanted with sensible options. Sure, attempt something new, but discontinue if it doesn't work. Beats abiding policies that never met goals, the worst of which was letting politicians pilfer internal revenue. Art often applies new ideas and materials, overthrows conventions, and tosses out the old and reprehensible, why it so benefits society. Some aspects stubbornly remain the same, such as criteria of art’s worth relative to when it was produced. The great example will always possess value. Some not recognized as insane continue to cause harm and never adapt.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cubic Sugarcane

Every decision you make that affects anyone else comes under ethics, the predominant focus of B&C and prime directive of all human life. Writers but flirt with ethical notions, heap effort on more exciting action and aftermath, pander to bloodlust, and steer clear of moral conundrums that will forever be entertainment buzzkill. Dishonesty never serves best interests of society. Yet telling tales with morals probably points to higher principles of behavior than any stranger on mean streets is likely to meet. Bicycles and drugs have become criminal currency. There's hardly any deterrent to bike theft or vehicular assault.

Reach into this cyberspace maelstrom, you'll find stuff that matches what you were thinking all along. Some might dismiss this as selection bias, typical logical fallacy. But being open minded has got to ease stigma of hypocrisy, no? Since you're entitled to believe whatever you want, only restricted from forcing your beliefs on others, you may recount whatever occurs to you. Everyone has a different capacity to handle new input and an individual state of readiness to receive realignment. It’s not your responsibility to nurse humanity along. Neither can you expect to be coddled on dole, nor should you unfairly profit from needs and weaknesses.

Scruples demand that you clean up any mess you make, contribute according to your abilities, earn an honest living, and provide for your family and self. None of this is easy even if you act diligently, exercise judgment, and hang onto your nest egg. Often your talent isn’t valued. Art, for example, has generally been condemned as unwanted aberration by those who loathe innovation. Sometimes you just fall into lucky circumstances. Many born without financial worries have squandered it all on substance abuse, since they don’t know hard it was to aggregate reserves. What vexes most is the loss of brilliant lives cut short, particularly among gifted performers who got hooked on heroin, liquid death, or had minds scrambled by herbs or pharmaceuticals. A drop of LSD blotted by a sugarcube has inspired a stockpile of art, whence splendid ideas that sober engineers realized. But was acid necessary? Did it derail rights? Some celebrate Albert Hoffman’s first psychedelic trip: Phil Lesh, Bicycle Day, Songs To Phil The Air, Live at Terrapin Crossroads, 2017. Depressives and psychotics likewise imagine alternatives and nightmares.

Probably the greatest jam band ever, The Grateful Dead drew heavily upon shamanic visions alkaloids and synthetics afford. “Here comes metal angel, she looks ready to ride. What’s that she’s tryin’ to show me? Roll with it, go on, let’s roll with it… Dark Angel, what’s bothering you? The bells are ringing, it’s way unreal. Picasso Moon, illuminate me, wheels within wheels. The universe is working fine tonight.” Picasso Moon, Built to Last, 1989. The title phrase, spontaneously uttered by Phil Lesh during a recording session, so haunted Bob Weir he nearly fell off his bicycle. Weir dreamt lyrics and melody midway through a long bike ride according to Oliver Trager’s The American Book of the Dead (Fireside, NY, 1997). A decade later, Joel McNeely would score the Dark Angel television pilot with outgoing theme Bicycle Ride. Hot heroine Max Guevara (Jessica Alba), why teen geeks lustily tuned in, posed as a bike messenger for 2 seasons before this apocalyptic series was cancelled. Joel McNeely, Bicycle Ride, Complete Score from the Dark Angel Pilot, 2000. In a similar bleak vein, a synthesized theme renders mysterious a scene where a string bicyclists pass protagonist Deckard (Harrison Ford). Vangelis, Bicycle Riders, Score to Blade Runner, Esper, 2002, released 2 decades after film’s 1982 debut. Recent sexy songs include: Envy Carr, Bicycle Dance [hip hop single] - “You want to feel, you want to touch, my body. Pedal, pedal, pedal… Can’t relax when you want to be a max. Now get loose and ride your Mongoose [brand of BMX]. Back in the day I used to ride to school. Now, baby girl, I’m gonna ride you… Let me see you dance like we in the Tour de France. I pedal along like I’m Lance Armstrong.” Also, Melanie Martinez, Training Wheels [explicit lyrics], Cry Baby, Atlantic, 2016.

Talk is cheap. Too many liberals believe that protesting in virtual space will ensure equality, fraternity, and liberty. Wrong! The 20th Century was the bloodiest in history, not just because two wars embroiled most of world, but labor standing against robber barons, masses of concerned citizens laying their bodies against goon squads, and overthrow of inbred insane monarchies. In America as a result, fewer children go hungry, people of color have civil rights, poor are protected from destitution, prisons reduce recidivism rather than punish poverty, sexual preference doesn’t constitute a felony, and women, half of population, can vote. Wherever middle class earners make up country’s vast majority, democracy thrives. Slavery, however, hasn’t yet been eliminated despite Emancipation Proclamation, UN Charter, and US laws against. In fact, all of these boons are rapidly being reversed, middle class has shrunk to levels resembling a century ago, and only a few strangle the free flow of worldwide commerce in their favor. Having more billionaires than ever does not evidence a healthy economy, it signals a decline in social justice. You're unwittingly victimized unless you emerge victorious from real battle in this ongoing war.

Meanwhile, Le Tour de France raced right through Bastille Day with Italian Fabio Aru in yellow jersey as if the hard lessons of revolutionary engagement have been lost to ersatz tokens for combat in sports spectacles. Do admire peloton for their physical commitment that epitomizes greatness. Just wish more among them would recognize sacrifices made so they can compete, not just by advertisers or organizers, but by fans, farmers, gendarmes, hoteliers, merchants, road crews, soldiers, taxpayers, writers, and whoever else contributes to a society where such opportunities exist. Can’t blame them for taking something for pain caused by thousands of miles of strain. Serious moralizing should focused upon crimes against humanity, not innocuous foibles of pedalers, who are only deemed goat or hero by the rabidly righteous. Surely they take on challenge for personal satisfaction, not to serve as symbols.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Authority Sovereign

Bicycle, the freedom machine, means independence, for which they’ve designated a holiday, forever Labann’s favorite. But bicycling will never guarantee safety. Neither will lighting fireworks, lounging around, or trading autonomy for security. Self sufficiency, its true meaning, means never having to rely on the kindness of strangers, rather provide for yourself all you need, thus thrive outside civilization despite whatever Nature throws at you.

The further you separate from human settlement, the more apex predators threaten: Not only bears, coyotes, lions or wolves, but mosquitoes, planet’s deadliest creature. Climate change elevates humidity that fosters pestilence. Bug bites, dehydration, sweaty spandex, too few places to pee legally: Soon an army of vicious pathogens take up residence and wither your internal organs, or clots form into deadly emboli that attack brain, heart or lungs. Aseptic practices save lives. Always change promptly; don't stubbornly retain wastes; drink fluids until urine drains clear. When all else fails a hospital nearby is a necessity, and interdependence makes perfect sense. Why would you ever want to spurn informed assistance stuck in a bubble when to disdain is to die?

Infirmaries remain rewarding enterprises with profits over the last decade up $100 billion/year to $270 billion nationally. You’re meat they inspect or treat for a fee within a huge controversy whether taxation ought to mean it’s free. Health maintenance costs ruin lives that medicine saves; poverty persists as nation’s number one killer. Yet Republicans want to repeal ACA. Religions preach selfless love. “Why do you eat fish?” a rabbi asks. You reply, “I love it.” Caught, cleaned, cooked and devoured: Not much fun for the fish, zero reciprocity in that. Where’s the love? Shellfish are as precious to Aphrodite as Cialis and Viagra are to impotent senators. There’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another, what fish does for you. In a commercial selfish world, love is in short supply. Roads offer the best evidence of that reality.

Unsettled weather or unwell status will force cyclists to drive or stay home; rain gets bikes filthy and rust results in disgustful chain cleaning and oiling. Refuse to worship chains, dark over light, duty without license. Wet slick notwithstanding, motorists all want to go as fast as possible, often dart impulsively into open spots and weave licentiously to gain a single car length, which cuts ETA by an inconsequential fraction of a second. No wonder every year 4 million accidents (thoughtless behavior? willful folly?) occur. To bad attitudes, mutual contempt and petty differences add continual construction, crumbling infrastructure, lane closures, and like confusion. Collisions become inevitable.

A few years back meant to mention Momentum’s flawed but interesting analysis that uses miles traveled not trips made, both hard to capture with bicycling and walking, as opposed to motoring. Still they conclude that bicycles convey users more safely than cars. Insurers, law enforcers, and legislators carefully monitor motored miles from several angles. How many axles flow past an arbitrary point justifies more highway construction, a huge profit center with over $1 trillion spent every decade. Since economy unfortunately depends upon motor vehicles, they focus improvements on moving along ever more, even if that cuts off and discourages cyclists and walkers. Can’t relate what goes on in Amsterdam with Boston because of differences in cultures. Can, however, see importance of a perception of safety. Adequate infrastructure, law enforcement laxity, and long term policy do encourage more cycling.

Etiquette won’t ever equal ethics. Greeting with a smile cheaply substitutes for performing diligently without a grimace. Sports make a show of athletes playing through pain which patrons on a holiday pay dearly to ogle. Unlike so called reality television, sports broadcasting presents teams who've culled planet's best, so any game is a real contest without foregone conclusion. Uncertainty heightens excitement; lopsided scores send fans to exit doors. Amidst these observations you can see why the war between bicyclists and motorists fails to merit public recognition. Factions just claim road exclusivity.

Adding to list of bicycling songs is Benjamin Wallfisch, Bicycle, A Cure For Wellness Soundtrack, New Regency Music, 2017. Well produced box office flop A Cure For Wellness is an allegory that bashes ongoing health fads that actually undermine immunity. Categorized as a horror story by silly reviewers, it’s more a psychological triller with a serious message. Audiences barely get metaphors, never mind 3 hours of biological imagery and medical history woven into a symbolic tapestry. Viewers don't get the caduceus, hallmark of Hermes, snakes entwined in balanced harmony, signifying commerce, deceit and quackery, entwined on spa's gate. Contrast with staff of healing god Asclepius, the actual medical symbol, derived from doctors millennia ago discovering herbal remedies and having to use a walking stick to visit patients on a serpentine route. It’s mythical versus real, pretense over sincerity, stingy commerce above virtuous compassion. Eels reel just beneath a surface surreal. Humans can actually convert eel toxins during digestion. Viewers prefer more actions and explosions to unresolved mysteries that force them to think, especially considering how dependent populations are on fish and potable water, resources they’ve despoiled, treated with contempt, and turned into cesspools and looming crises. Patients fear insulting their doctors lest poisons get prescribed, and submit to malpractices.

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan, shown), sent merely as a messenger,
escapes as if a knight on a bike with the girl, who has set papa’s spa behind ablaze. But en route to redemption he collides with, goes over handlebars, and lands on hood of transporter car. Yet that’s nothing compared to being free from evil remedies. “Actually. I'm feeling a lot better now,” explains Lockhart, and well he should once liberated from grips of racketeers and pedaling forth toward former health. Like eels, humans squirm and wriggle - right out of responsibility for fairness and kindness - over life’s long voyage amidst blood, humors, spit, sweat, tears, and things wet. Persistent guilt suckers them into participating in charitable frauds. They'd rather pay someone to cure their remorse or whip them back into shape than work diligently with community's best interests in mind. This film rubs their noses in this hypocrisy.

Celebrate your liberty to learn what's true, propel self without having to earn back an inalienable right, regain health by choosing wisely, and say with authority whatever you think. Those who do rule in sovereignty.

I’m tired of driving everywhere I have to go. When I’m driving to work the traffic just creeps along so slow. There’s never nowhere to park at a concert, ballgame or just a plain old picture show… There’s too many lights, stop signs and another one way street. I’m tired of buying gas and pulling the belts from under my seat, driving bumper to bumper during the rush hour. I feel the tension from my head down to my feet. I’m tired of driving in the rain, the fog, and the snow. I’m going out tonight and party; it means, I have to drive some more.—Eddie Harris, title track from album I’m Tired of Driving. Harris blew tenor saxophone on song Real Compared to What, for which Chapter 11 in B&C was named, one that directly questions benefits of driving.