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 up 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, or 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 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 peaking until your guesses 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.