Thursday, March 8, 2018

Puttin’ Vitrain

From ash of a particular type of coal called vitrain, optical engineers extract germanium dioxide (GeO2) and put it in with silicon dioxide to produce superior night vision goggle lenses, thus expose secretive doings in the night half way around world. Caught red handed, courses a scoundrel may take are to defect, deflect, demand more, deny, outright lie, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” or plead guilty to being a geopolitical puppet and resign. Why not sell out after sinking personal millions into sketchy Russian investments? Betrayers can survive bitter vitriol, if any. Benedict Arnold, a name synonymous with traitor, got off scot free except for his vile revolutionary legacy.

Nation’s last president and tyrannical successor can be distinguished by one glaring disparity: While the former was grateful to assume such an august role in history, the latter expects such privileges after a lifetime of gratifying self at expense of suckers. After all, casino owners prey on addicts, as do drug dealers, flesh peddlers, and other vampires. Bankers and organized criminals extort small businessmen, who’ve invested family’s future and life savings into job creation. Under Dummy Bush, office of POTUS forfeited power, lost luster, yet presents a potent aphrodisiac for the cognitively impotent. Despite any executive end run, Senate calls shots dictated by gun, oil and sugar lobbies. A lame chief with no mandate upsets no corrupt apple cart. Manly walk and tough talk don’t measure up with what constituents want: effective leadership and public service. Everyone groans over how candidates make promises but renege once elected. Few disclose root causes of a diabetes epidemic, environmental toxicity, or violent civilian deaths. Anyone who does is deemed loser and shouted down.

Apathetic Americans avoid involvement at all costs, settle into some nondescript role, turn their blind eyes away. “What can I do about it, anyway?” This question probably has a thousand answers, some of which Kipchoge Spencer pointed out: Altruistically aid, bargain collectively, boycott bad practices, buy from local producers, picket, protest, and/or ride a bicycle for peace, instead of sling around angry tonnage because you’re told to. The Bicycle Opera Project composed and performed Sweat, which, “Demands better transparency in the fast fashion chain,” deplores a thousand dead in a Bangladesh clothing factory collapse, and supports local sustainable manufacture. This Toronto troop gets around by bike to underscore their commitment. Ground might give way above played out coal mines sometimes. Social justice issues abound when you’re the slightest bit aware.

Easy to perceive what’s wrong, point fingers, and propose options suiting own interests. Netroots underestimate what they’re up against. Billions are spent annually on promoting not only corporate output but sanctioned lifestyles. Most believe they already possess choices and rights, since laws exist to protect communities. They’re often wrong. A war against quality, reliability, safety and value operates in stealth mode, often aided inadvertently by effete opposition. Competition for consumer loyalty has become extinct with lax enforcement of antitrust laws. Billionaires preside over monopolies that tell you what to buy and think. A few makers produce many brands.

You could pay closer attention, perform required analyses, and pinpoint sources, but you'll waste a lot of time deriving what you already know about heartless narcissists in office rigging game, so why torture yourself? As a result of incessant conditioning and lack of caring whether anyone earns a wage, those who can’t participate might buy assault weapons and kill easy targets, since they can’t access their real enemies or comprehend who they are. Confusion, doubts, rivals, sheiks, stockholders, warlords?

Enough of simplistic explanations, not all corporations contribute to malaise. Some are small, exert negligible influence. Most produce life’s requisites and serve real needs using resources available. Majority just manage to maintain staff, post profits, stay solvent, and undertake thankless drudgery. As always, a few give rest a bad name, but those who silently abide monsters are ultimately to blame.

Worldwide, about 40% of electricity comes from burning coal, none pollution free. Peat represents a pre-lignite carbon fuel, precursor to million year old coal, as plentiful as it is risky to mine, source of Beijing’s and London’s cliché smog and widespread asthma and pneumoconiosis. Many generating plants stateside were built new or converted to burning methane, which doesn't create as much atmospheric CO2 and particulates. Some deride solar arrays and wind farms as tax credit boondoggles, though they do harvest energy cleanly by comparison, so warrant subsidies. Ironically, China suffers the worse smog, but supplies the most solar panels. A layer of GeO2 improves solar cell efficiency.

Clean coal technology has yet to be proven on a large scale, rather results in acid rain and, ironically, atmospheric cooling due to sulphur dioxide emissions, which increase fish kill, groundwater and lake acidity, and related problems. Current coal fired electric plants also account for 3% of carbon dioxide buildup and add to greenhouse effect. Weather wherever you are began elsewhere; what you personally do to reduce carbon footprint won’t slow hurricane or tornado winds from wiping you out. It’s almost like policy makers figure sulphur effects kick global warming down the road, something they’ve routinely done with budgets concerns. Print more money, by all means, because taxpayers are gluttons for punishing debt and hardly care if next generation inherits annihilation.

Senator Don Coram (R) of Colorado introduced a state bill to ban coal rolling, that is, expelling (usually diesel) vehicle exhaust so as to obscure vision of another driver, any bicyclist, or nearby pedestrians, awaiting addition to volumes of unenforceable laws, though all but motorist inconvenience seems a conservative afterthought. Though unrelated to coal itself, name was based on dense smoke it belches, through which bicyclist/filmmaker Elisabeth Reinkordt coughed, “Someone with a motorized weapon wanted to prove their dominance over me,” thereby rankling cagers. How is such rudeness not a form of rape? Wallahs in East India desperate for rupees load up bicycles and push bags of stolen coal to market. Any talk of choosing coal energy over clean sources represents a last resort and step backward. Or is it more evidence of civilization unraveling? Destination unknown, nobody seems to know how to conduct trek without harm or waste.

With Daylight Savings springing ahead on Sunday upcoming, this nonsensical practice, specifically begun to conserve coal, celebrates its 100th anniversary. Numerous studies conclude twice yearly switches disrupt transportation, heighten risks of heart attacks and strokes, hike crime rate, impact circadian rhythm, increase bicyclist and pedestrian accidents, and shift depressive episodes and suicides into high gear. One thing it doesn’t do is save energy. Had gotten comfortable with biking to work in daylight, but will have to flex to a later hour. Clocks everywhere ought to read whatever time it is along the neutral international date line in the middle of Pacific Ocean; mankind could then acclimatize and standardize.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Peat by Slane

You cut no chill on a treeless moor if you don’t slice peat in previous Spring with a slane, a flat short spade with or without wings designed to form combustible bricks out of compressed swamp muck, something of a last resort when you've depleted forest. Stoves usually burn equivalent sawn and split wood, which has become a costly commodity, unless you happen to own a wooded lot. Unlike coal or crude oil formed over eons, peat and wood are slowly renewable resources, just plant and wait a few centuries. Plentiful garbage and sewerage are easier to recycle, but would incur costs nobody wants. They'd rather destroy neighborhoods with fracking and refining what little is left of petroleum.

Hypothetically, anything from which you can release energy, including pedaling, can be converted to or stored as electricity, which, thanks to Edison, Tesla, et. al., can be harnessed to handle almost any task effectively. This rates high among history’s most amazing developments, a billion people cooperating toward an energy policy and labor savings. People gathering resources and providing services made it all possible. You’d think such impressive results would inspire individuals to cooperate all the more. But you can never rely on just one technology. For example, reliance on oil will end catastrophically. Electricity uses precious metals on cusp of shortfall. Cheats, egomaniacs and opportunists negate enthusiasm.

Colleges confer higher degrees upon whoever endows or pays. Doesn’t guarantee intelligence. Among other stupid practices, companies make it almost impossible to deal with them. You may dread going to a dentist, yet it’s still preferable to dealing with cable providers, energy utilities, government agencies, insurance underwriters, or other monopolies. You immediately seek out any alternative. Restaurants and Starbucks dole out decreasing points for shrinking rewards, so it’s no longer worth the effort and resentment sends you to honest competitors. A local roaster offers a free cup of coffee with a pound purchase, not some snarky lure that takes 25 or more purchases to earn one over course of a year with points expiring before you can collect. Neither savvy nor shrewd suggest smart. Quite the opposite, only mutual benefit and resource preservation instill trust and make life better. Greedy profit motives collectively doom everyone, drive majority crazy, and foster domestic terrorism.

Luxury car dealers love drug dealers. For both bling is their thing, not communal sharing. Every year drug users, who nationwide number over a hundred million, nearly half as many as motorists (120 versus 220), die due to over/wrong doses, 7 times as often as crash casualties, nearly one user per hundred versus one driver in seven hundred. Such fatalities generally fall into categories of cardiovascular collapse or suicide. It confirms that taking drugs rates among the riskiest of behaviors, though doping and driving are extremely popular and aren’t mutually exclusive. Yet pharmaceuticals designed to increase alertness or protect heart may actually avoid as many accidents and they cause, not so opioids and painkillers proscribed when operating heavy equipment with inherent bone-crushing momentum.

The least liked and most avoided activity is digging through detail and hype hoping to discover what’s crucial to you. Most fail to see how interconnected everything can be and what happens elsewhere when something nearby gets nudged. Butterfly Effect does occur, but so does Pareto Analysis to dismiss marginal and focus on major influences. Filtering out irrelevant distractions has always been a key to efficiency. Boldface lies, false conclusions, selfish opinions, and smoke screens supplant steady science. Between incessant change and swift pace, there isn’t enough time these days to make informed decisions. Unqualified to try, people let others choose and suffer consequences of being exploited by charlatans, cons, experts, frauds, and scammers. Note how “fast” describes both loyal pals and unfaithful women. Trust is hard to bestow. If trade seems good, go with quid pro quo, though it's too easy to donate possessions and sacrifice life pointlessly. Coalitions seldom last, plans don’t always meet forecast, so you must sometimes go with the flow.

Despite cycling season on horizon, this misanthrope no longer arranges meets, joins cyclists who vary pace, paints arrows at turns, repairs bikes, socializes nicely, or warms to whatnot revolving around riding with others. In a society potentially connected as never before, corporations condition you to choose solitude because it leaves you vulnerable to expenses and inconveniences from which they profit. However, Labann’s decision to abstain more has to do with lapses in etiquette. For those who might consider group riding:
—Assess own handling skills and health fitness before imposing a burden.
—Be prepared, bike repaired, bring spare tubes and tools specific to your equipment.
—Beware of poorly designed routes with unanticipated hazards.
—Control your descents, stay single file, tap brakes before you straddle leading wheel.
—Cross together at stop lights or signs; otherwise follow traffic code and occupy right third of lane.
—Employ hand signs: going left, letting pass, right turning, stopping (left hand extended, waving, held up, or held down, respectively), and watch out below (left or right hand circling and pointing downward)… nice to be warned of glass, grates and potholes when you can’t see through cyclist directly ahead.
—Expect certain meets to represent no-drop, stay together rambles, versus cutthroat races, self-paced cruises, or solo challenges. You forfeit commitment if you don’t stick with posse with whom you arrived.
—Maintain separation downhill; merge again at bottom.
—Remember that cycling can impact judgment, impair senses, loosen tongue.
—Say nothing; nobody wants advice, encouragement, or intimacy, though audible warnings like, “Car back,” or, “Watch out,” might save lives.
—Suspect anyone who’d join you as someone with issues not worth analyzing or overlooking.
—Take your turn at head of paceline; tow trailers into headwinds, not totally suck slipstream all day.

Some blog entries seem better than others. Insights often pass faster than one can capture. Making every effort to avoid, sometimes nevertheless repeat self. Stuff happens despite best intentions. Authors parade details then tie up disparities at the end, thus hold attention for as long as possible. Readers expect to ignore journey and jump to conclusion, thus save time for pleasure. Bicyclists understand destinations don't matter, it's the ride itself. Truth never changes, rears its head whenever it wants, remains forever the same, unlike leaders, nations, religions or terrains. Earth will eventually restore itself, but humans can’t wait that long. Only good stewardship that resists global despoilment will save mankind from extinction. When settlers first clambered through Franconia Notch and noticed The Great Stone Face, they expected it to be eternal. Motorists once drove for hours to get a glimpse of it perched high above; later bicyclists, self included, slogged up a twisty bike path. Yet just a few hundred years later it collapsed. Automotive pollution? All mountains fall down to the sea eventually for reasons you don’t know fully. Truth outlasts everything.

Deceivers run and ruin everything for deluded masses who think a vote equals democracy. Grass roots stumpers vying for offices cut turf, by which they mean plotting campaign routes for door-to-door canvassers. Slaning peat is a cultural artifact reoccurring each May, bicycle month. Cut turf, keep a straight face, or sod off. Takes teamwork: bunker peels back overburden, diggers both apply slanes, hanker transfers deep cuts upward, loader fills barrow, while wheeler pushes barrow to stackers. For the personal purpose of reducing worker wages, billionaire brothers funded an individual's case before Supreme Court long since settled that would deny closed union shops. Greed left unchecked would assuredly increase social injustice and wealth inequality. Yet unions have lost all credibility after milking paychecks for decades and securing no new benefits, which caused membership to shrink from 35% to 5% of workforce. Forget unions, what's at stake is collective bargaining upon which middle class is founded.

If you put in requisite effort and raise right questions, you can drain quagmires that liars create, thus a little warmth generate. This desperate harvest of peat merits contemplation. Wonder whether whiskey distillers in a Slane stable or World’s Friendliest Bike Shop would approve.

“I wonder, if everything could ever feel this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again. The only thing I'll ever ask of you, you’ve got to promise not to stop when I say when.” David Grohl, Foo Fighters, Everlong (about overdose victim Kurt Cobain, performed live at Slane Castle and when David Letterman returned to Late Night after heart bypass surgery)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Bit Multigrain

“Takes all kinds,” they say. Just who are "they", and why are they lying? ALL conceivable kinds probably won’t ever coexist, which might be a blessing. Roster that does, well, you can only let pass, pray they’ll stay away, probably souldn't fret over. To accurately rephrase, “Don’t sweat differences in appearances or customs, yet uphold laws for peaceful interaction without reprehensible encroachment.” Remember, diversity enables progress and preserves gene pool. Biblically speaking, “Man doth not live by bread alone.”

Cults have always rushed within boundaries, mostly to no detriment. Amish just want to be left alone, so they can sweep aside temptations of modernity and technology. The fact that some men possess multiple wives appears illegal but doesn’t harm neighbors or participants. Laws were originated when women were deemed chattel, property, slaves. Long past Emancipation Proclamation and Female Suffrage, wedded bliss persists as a legal mask to which a minority grasps. Today, women can freely choose to divorce, remain single, or remarry. Choice can be a boon. Marriage suits some, surely not eligible others. Don’t need to intercede unless harm’s done or service isn’t rendered. But defining harm and service can be problematic, while domestic disputes do hook down into a deadly zone with pistols and shotguns.

Government’s principle role is to protect, secure Four Freedoms (from tyranny and want, of religion and speech), and serve citizens (not foreigners, green carders, or interlopers) for which taxpayers pay dearly. When officials don’t defend these goals, they immediately become public enemies subject to indictment, rebuke and recall. Incompletions are scandalous and treasonous. Possible reasons might include egotism, insanity, partisanship, self service, and senility, things for which they have enforceable rules and ethical huddles, though members of congress don’t block blitzers or kick out infractors often enough in a mad pursuit to hold own positions. This has led reasonable constituents to question whether they need government at all.

Consider an ungoverned nation. Agencies would cease to inspect drugs, foodstuff, meat, water supplies. Right there, residents would get sick, possibly pass by the millions. CDC combats infectious diseases. Pestilence would otherwise abound. SEC strips package from illegal equity traders. Must regulate industries that could have injurious effects on environment, finances and health. Courts potentially reverse injustice. Widespread deprivation would occur without Medicare, SNAP, Social Security, TANF, and whatever entitlements contributors earn. Enemies would immediately attack if CIA, DOD, FBI and other defenses fumbled, knelt or punted. Gangsters would organize offensive tribes among which you’d have to pick sides. Press might report debacles, but only after you’ve unforgivably lost. Hard to believe any slackjaw detractor of “gummint” would prefer anarchy. What already exists exists for good reasons. Not everyone has your back and plays by rules.

Situationally dependent, forms of government should vary. Capitalism centered purely on profit motives would negate good agencies do. Even now they draw countless complaints for bending to business and not prohibiting products that cause millions of deaths annually. Countries where strategies failed and time of possession passed now subsist on communism. Illiterate medieval masses relied on monarchies to make dire decisions. An educated majority still thrives on democracy, stateside now into its third century. Dictatorships and oligarchies always lack required stability, why populace dreads unnecessary roughness of extremists, Nazis, partisans, supremacists and terrorists.

“Good things take time,” they say. On the other hand, things fall apart over time, too. How are a thriving paradigm and time to train neither unfair advantages nor unlike performance enhancing drugs? Independent wealth provides an almost unbeatable edge. Each generation has to be educated to sustain status quo. Once established, someone must push boundaries for all to advance. In a quest for knowledge, NASA contracts corporations to innovate. To accurately rephrase, “Good things take goals, hard work, intelligence, organization, persistence and time.” Bad things occur spontaneously, require no exertion, surface as soon as you neglect maintenance or stop surveillance. Physicists predict disintegration and entropy according to laws of thermodynamics. Sitting still and twiddling your thumbs summon downfall.

Many an adage, dictum, epigram, maxim, motto or slogan proves false once examined. Proverbs based on common sense or practical experience are called truths, but only when you adopt a certain point of skew. B&C was intended to spew thousands of quotable saws, knowing full well they might not withstand rigorous scrutiny. It’s how humans grow: ask, examine, share results. Samuel Johnson’s apothegm that, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” rings hollow, since better shelters present themselves to patriots, and yellow striped scoundrels persist as outsiders rather than embrace partisans. Besides, as its 1896 ad claims, “Patriot Bicycles have perfect bearings,” perhaps why they were only produced for a single year. Press pissants can’t bear perfection, cast aspersion upon innocents, display contempt despite privilege. Cheaters accuse others preemptively.

”In a hierarchy, participants can be compared and evaluated by position, rank, relative power, seniority, and the like. But in a holarchy each person’s value comes from his or her individuality and uniqueness and the capacity to engage and interact with others to make the fruits of that uniqueness available.”—David Spangler, New Age Pioneer

“There’s no I in Team,” but does offer audible anagrams of, “At me,” “Meat,” and “Tame,” thus tackles tendencies of acceptance, aggression and individuality within relationships and sports. Convening diverse multi-talented individuals of differing strengths has always been ingrained in any victorious scheme. “Next man up,” coaches help joining members progress past storming into performing. Winners withstand attrition through depth, discipline, flexibility, and foresight. But society doesn’t readily confer accolades and rewards. When winning means dough and gain, you can be sure many will contest and protest outcomes.

“A big book is something of a comfort during the bleakest stretch of winter, once that groundhog pronounces more of the same.”—Labann, B&C Blog, 2009. Yes, Gobbler’s Knob has a rodent issue, Punxsutawney’s marmot who predicted another wintery 6 weeks! Worse affect of a bomb cyclone is low barometric pressure sucks down arctic air, then you suffer a blizzard as wet clouds get drawn up from tropics. Doesn’t amuse bicyclists, not one bit.

“Things are bad in this world. Ugly, smelly, nasty—a world full of stupidity and starvation and disease—but things never really get as bad as they should.”—Jim Knipfel, humanist columnist, seeming successor to Alfred Jarry (Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician, 1898) and Hunter Thompson (Proud Highway, “Football Season is Over”).