Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Rabidly Outgain

Another summer hence, fifty years since 1969’s Aquarian Exposition of August 15th to 18th, a weekend festival of art, music and peace together, where will civilization find itself? Closer to promoters goals of communities coalescing for improvement, ethical practices, every individual entitled to make a difference, free trade, planetary stewardship, non-violent camaraderie, unfettered creativity, and universal human rights? Really? Participants believed they could live without cash, organized roles, retirement investment, or roofs over their heads. Works for twenty-somethings while agile and mobile enough to withstand uncertainty and vagary. Wear occurs relentlessly to all their gear year after year until society doesn’t care they’re living somewhere on a rusted bus on blocks going nowhere.

No height of Hippiedom, Woodstock marked its demise - promise died - and signaled an inexorable regression into barbarity. Barbarity, cruelty and stupidity describe majority competing for cash. Under capitalism, fair trade and social justice rate as mortal sins. Some can’t handle freedom, because they forget that it means they’re responsible for every action, behavior, commission and omission in which they’re complicit. They’d rather be blameless, bemoan innocence lost, bumble along without consequences. Battles won, when you disengage, you nosedive. An entire generation never heard whole storyline: Tune in, turn on, drop out, die young, and let fascists build a war chest to cheat and murder the rest.

You hate what gravity gradually does to your body. Stuff sags including tattoos. But you love gravity when rolling downhill, a rejuvenating thrill. You curse climbing, yet value its effects: builds muscles, keeps you from floating off into space, regulates tides, and whatnot. Anyway inevitable, gravity itself should be deemed neutral with minuses and pluses in delicate harmony with The Tao. Rather, you loathe yourself, what your body has become, inert flab, slave to what’s grave. Over months indoors and years at sedentary work you’ve gone from enthused recruit pleasingly toned with plenty of energy to a superfund cleanup site of toxic negativity from which everyone steers clear, silly hyperbole yet suitable metaphor.

Seriously, irked by stalwart service taken for granted, sure, you’re just a jerk in a jersey, yet upscale of a racist on Yawkey. Political correctness has been called an identity trap and seems to thwart common sense, but to ages of abuse and neglect owes its existence, payback for smug insults and unearned munificence, which explains why fat cats cycling for free, riding toward right, and swigging your tea so resent this concurrence. How did their mothers raise them?

Economists say in year following Woodstock, 1970, restrictive access to opportunity, social mobility, and success from hard work dramatically began to separate affluence from indigence. Advent of artificial intelligence, automation, and globalization only furthered this divide. In a way, Woodstock aided ambitious and shrewd, who gladly grabbed what hippies wanted to give away, namely any share in ill gotten prosperity, master-vassal economy, and war blood money. Fear infects fools in need with the disease of greed, who consequently inflict society with decades of drudgery.

Wouldn’t you prefer reliable prescience to information desperation? If only you could predict what will occur years from now, you'd grow rich and stay fit to enjoy it. Yet your personal involvement might alter timeline and cause investment to fail instead. Neither does it work in hindsight; would've been a billionaire by holding Apple and IBM stocks into present. But for every technological stride, usually two ethical breakthroughs backslide.

Money fills a need, but why crave excess? Assets can become a nuisance, cost plenty to maintain, get in your way, have a way of hanging a target on your back, and waste time whence lives are woven. Besides, you can’t take any pride in how you succeeded, since society only allowed it by buying into your lame game; indeed, no amount of effort actually expended ever guaranteed you’d achieve greatness. Cash may rule, but dollars continually devalue; millions might become meaningless before midnight and thrones decay into worthlessness. Earn to live, not live to earn.

Affluence can instantly be reversed. Losers may ultimately win. Meek may inherit it all. Accursed advantages will fall when they no longer resist what used to persist. Nevertheless, Congress fallaciously bankrolls tycoons, who they figure can make good use of extorted revenue, reckon educators fail to graduate enough innovators to make grants worthwhile, resent welfare that keeps alive those upon whom tycoons tread, and shrug off what this half-century snafu did: Cause the largest gap between poverty and wealth ever. Look for a time when they begin collecting and eliminating what’s deselected and marginalized, such as bicycles or splinter group members. An informed public wouldn’t comply with whims of psychopaths in power, so teachers face increasingly bigger barriers. State policies typically ensure life’s a chore and majority suffers. Already, you must earn health insurance money or pay a hefty fine you can’t afford.

Heartfelt expressions can get around globe in an instant, yet mostly go ignored, or, worse, invite retaliation. You'd think but wrongly assume that net gains from Internet exceed losses. Literally tons of computers, e-pads, smartphones and tablets were sold based on access to it. But slave labor assembles all this merchandise. Frauds, gambles and scams cost billions, not to mention diminishing corporate profits from employee distraction. Billions more are spent on paltry pleasures and popular porn that profits only a few, never populations as a whole. Tobacco alone after profits results in a net loss of $200 billion per year. Businesses and government figure they can cut costs if posting ads and forms to websites, though salaries have to be paid to do so, and 25% of population can’t connect, particularly elderly. If cash can be called a tool for retirees, it resembles an axe collecting dust or rust out of mind and sight. As a fruit of labor, someone else - bankers, doctors, insurers, lawyers, nursing homes directors - squeezes its juice and steals your use. You might be better off giving it to your family and spending it to make a memory.

For WWW to fulfill its informational promise, users would need to mine facts presented and perform analyses, as has Labann while building blog and defining bicycling culture. One can hope that observed facts could be amassed into postulates that serve some higher purpose: Eliminate waste, end war, foster rights, increase understanding, save lives, or work wisely. Smarter folks can join list servers for academic and scientific discussion and use to achieve progress. Too bad boring chatter, false claims, junk science, and profit motives bury useful information. POTUS calls actual but adverse news fake, and uses social media to dupe gullible masses and shape favorable opinions.

Ignore copy studded with words ending with suffix “tion”, so many they supply a plethora of cheap rhymes for nauseating poets. Pronounced “shun”, that’s what reader should do, avoid like viral contagion. Beware of bold pronouncements with no logical narrative. Maybe author didn't go through process of thinking statement through; then again, maybe author did and spared you labor of sorting through details. Anyone might associate ah-ha moments with unrelated facts, suggest causality where none exists, or whip up passions for nonsense. Be assured that Top-Ten appraisals overlook thousands of better picks not being forcibly publicized.

Continual exposure to narcissists, paranoids and schizophrenics inflicts normal people with inhibiting anxieties. Take xenophobia: Immigrants do bring challenges and costs, but nation was entirely populated by refugees and their progeny. Uniting amicably is what Americans do, to a fault. Nation’s generosity may be taken for granted by recent arrivals who say they’d rather be in motherland whence they came. Lunatics who pay no taxes or provide no services complain the most. Being aware and assuming tasks define adulthood, but not necessarily wisdom, which pieces together puzzles.

“What it is…" another phrase with multiple meanings: Defines "it", or implies, "Is what it is," or spouts, "How things are." Both blameworthy, ethical and lingual points conspire to launch debacles. Rephrased, "What is it?" betrays annoyance and impatience. Issues surround word "is" because A doesn't equal but might be substituted for B. You can usually pinpoint subtle lies and useless quotes by their use of the word “is". “No man is an island.” Well, duh, no ocean or peninsula is, either. Donne does go on to qualify, but probably would’ve saved time and showed mercy getting straight to his point: Humans are social animals with interdependencies. When right wing media mercenaries, “Tell it like it is,” with righteous vehemence, disregard their bullshit that strictly supports their own interests. They rabidly outgain you because they they sell out to power lust, and wantonly abandon morality though never just. Once they’re comfortably numb, damage has been done, and status strata settles in.

For those who see problems clearly and tackle goals earnestly, bicycling and plain living answer some of world’s issues. Spike in gasoline prices and Spring's arrival (at last) encourage more bike commuting and cost saving. Yet aimless motoring clogs highways all day, while alert bicycling reveals a beleaguered environment of felled trees, general devastation, and senseless litter, which represent no small percentage of motoring’s untold costs. Urge to choose easy route and team with oblivious despoilers weighs heaviest on those who sacrifice for mutual well-being. Neither saint nor sinner by however you define such terms, you’ll make compromises for which you’re not proud. Tax breaks for bike commuters and do-gooders get lost in haste to bail out banks and endow enterprises that suck planet dry. But touchy readers rather not be reminded of obvious villainy unless related to racing or touring, usual topics for bicycle blogs and books, and that you’ll only tell your mom or someone who cares. High minded, mighty intended opinions influence few, provoke ire, and surely invite vengeance among office holders and scofflaw followers, whom you primarily targeted because they vie with criminals as worst examples.

Freedom versus responsibility, theme of Bike&Chain, describes mankind’s core struggle. To take stock on wooden ambitions, you don’t advocate, do right, and fight good fight to earn gold stars on some heavenly tote board or sidestep vicious spiral to hell in twilight. No, you decide daily on weighty matters, some of which you’re unable to resolve or unaware exist. You can improve own effectiveness by doing your job, living to a code, paying attention, or shouldering unwanted tasks. But with whose rules do you comply? Never cease to be delighted and surprised by bikes for Africa, charities that work, disaster responses, doctors without borders, moms putting children’s needs before their own, salvation army, and soup kitchens. Whenever altruism arises to address real issues, world breathes a bit easier.

“The saint inspires the vitality of all lives, without holding back. He nurtures all beings with no wish to take possession of. He devotes all his energy but has no intention to hold on to the merit. When success is achieved, he seeks no recognition… Words of truth are not pleasing. Pleasing words are not truthful. The wise one does not argue.” Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapters 2 & 81

Monday, April 16, 2018

White Reign

Can you embrace bicycling culture without cultivating a comparative attitude? If you ever doubt automotive culture dominates, tune into NASCAR, its exact opposite. Contrast competitive intensity of Talladega 500 to Tour de France; although both border on glory and insanity, over five hundred crew members, drivers, and spectators died in stateside motor races since 1994, while worldwide around one hundred cyclists died (no spectators) in road and velodrome races since 1894. Numbers exclude training on roads, never captured for drivers but mere dozens of pro cyclists. So, global versus national for over 5 times longer from among equal numbers of participants, one fifth as many from pelaton died. Said Reece Bobby in Talledega Nights, “You’ve gotta learn to drive with the fear… if you're scared, that beautiful death machine will do what God made it to do, namely, eat you with a smile." Annually, ratio of civilian fatalities is 50:1. Motor crashes claim 3,287 lives daily around the world, 90% of which occur in third world countries despite much fewer vehicles.

An estimated $1 trillion was invested in films during 20th Century, versus $10 trillion invested every 10 years on US highways, a multiple of 100, rife with corruption, with only a small portion actually going to construction. Roads provide emergency routes, sustaining lifelines, vital connections, so seem a higher priority and sold as a no-brainer among the cruel who rule and steal revenue from rubes they fool. Lion’s share goes to interstate boondoggles that mostly restrict to motorists alone, not minor upkeep of secondaries and side streets used by everyone. Once a year do they sweep them, spot repair potholes only after numerous complaints. Inadequate bikeways serve drivers better by getting cyclists out of their way, though fail everyone where traffic is thickest and will to build weakest.

Films do fill a psychological need, though not all and whether they satisfy can be debated at best. Many inventions first appear in articles, books or scripts that later become marketable innovations that drive industry and fund road creation and movie production. Storytellers, however, are not obligated to originate ideas for others to exploit, or please audiences even. Although ordinarily ignored, reminders of responsibilities also signify. One might argue that democracy owes everything to cranks with complaints, discontents who dismiss status quo, dissidents who for an answer won’t take no.

Appeals to one’s better self go unheard unless recipient has health or interest enough to notice and react. Getting along isn't even easy among relatives. Millions cherish family animals and despise human neighbors. Prisons are full because cretins don’t know that smacking others around might kill them and solves nothing. Greed, hate and stupidity underlie today's worst evils, but where do they come from? Obviously, no one source can be blamed, but can be categorized under nature, nurture and society’s demands. Neurochemistry looms large, as late doctor Oliver Sachs spent a career exploring and relaying. “It is so geared to one’s proprioception, one’s movements and postures, that it responds almost like part of one’s own body. Bike and rider become a single, indivisible entity; it is very much like riding a horse. A car cannot become part of one in quite the same way.”

Within epidemic deficiencies of magnesium, niacin and vitamin D, little wonder you run into few smarter than you. Lack of oxygen to brain causes dementia. Frequent gentle exercise and proper diet do boost mood and lead to tolerance necessary to coexist in a crowded world. Bicycling can fill half of this bill. But breeding, budget, current events, traumas, and upbringing also incite and inspire behavior. Some can’t pay to eat much else than 4 for $1 boiled ramen bricks or canned tomato soup. Fresh vegetables and lean meats cost more than other items sold at markets and what majority can afford. Poverty forces consumption of empty calories from fast food, pasta and potatoes. Combine with birth defects, sleep deficits, substance abuse, and suffering that urgency for earning imposes, one shouldn't doubt these detriments affect cooperation, judgment, reason, and socialization.

New season begun, get up and go glow of vernal dawns arrives on cue as if a clue to renew. People associate bicycling with wellness. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion shows 2 images of bicyclists to the exclusion of all else under "Our Initiatives" for adults and children. They evaluated myriad approaches and maintain cycling and walking are both popular and safe compared to, for example, organized sports. For subscribers New York Times published a free guide on lowering carbon footprint. If past articles are any indication, self propulsion doesn't bear mention. Some would argue that what individuals do doesn't rate, since profit motivated businesses easily negate. Human beings outnumber business entities 165,000:1; only together will issues be addressed.

Surmised a doctor by those who don’t personally know despite repeated denial, Labann descended from same West European roots considered by bigots to be the dominant race, except has a vampire hairline, especially toward end of a hairy long winter of trying to stay warm, remnant of some East European genes on paternal grandmother's side. Didn’t donate DNA for ancestry to be approximated and later used as evidence of crime, but may have Asian or Native genes as well. Did pursue a premedical track as an undergraduate, and do work in health sector, but unqualified to give any advice or treat illnesses. Films favor Anglo-Saxon monsters, not so midgets or natives, a practice called racist and damned as white privilege.

Bicyclists must sometimes abide but seldom welcome white rain in April, white reign presumption, or willful prejudice from wherever it comes. More than once rode in hail, rain, sleet and snow, but wouldn’t call it preferable. Bullies label anyone a snowflake who doesn’t share their selfish biases and smash/snatch sensibilities. Nod to Tolkien for imagining little people as heroes who did what no great power could against the gravest evil, but also for warning how war will ensnare earth’s entire population. Greatness recognizes how everyone contributes. Pettiness picks disparities and thereby pits combatants.

Black rise, red resurgence, yellow peril? Among races white percentage has always been low. Only 11.4% are Europeans, 3% fewer than Africans. Asians make up 60.3% of inhabitants. Twice as many Mongoloids of East Asia including Chinese join nearly thrice as many native races in North Africa, South/West Asia, and South Pacific Islands along with aboriginal Australians. Southern Italians descended from both Africans and Europeans. Romans were once planet's most cosmopolitan people. Black 1.3 billion equals about 20% of world's total population, so outnumber whites, however you choose to define. Aryan Nation would have you believe they belong to an exclusive sovereignty and white supremacy makes sense, when races who outnumber this minority on a global scale did all the heavy lifting. Slavery has been abolished. Civilization runs better without it. Women, more than half of world population, can be entrepreneurs, hold jobs, outcompete men, run for office, and vote based on gender. Really, human is the only race.

Mark Horst, Boys on Bicycles No. 1, Oil on Canvas—For me, painting is a practice of seeing the world as it is—rather than how I’d like it to be or how I think it should be… pay attention to rhythms and patterns and shapes and colors and emotions and gestures—all these gifts surrounding me.

Apartheid persisted in South Africa for almost 5 decades until Mandela took steps to overcome it. Next year marks 25 years since securing freedom from 146 patently unfair, race restrictive laws. Equality for black, Indian, mixed and native people has dispelled fears upon which this policy was founded and sold. Yet anywhere today you can barely discuss race without inflaming resentment and inviting retaliation.

Recent Oscar winner Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, dir., 2017) precisely illustrates these points. When officials treat newly discovered creature with xenophobic cruelty, it lashes back with equivalent violence. When maid shows loving care, it responds with life saving transformation. But how do you measure intention? Beasts present ferocity for self defense. Some eat family members. Best of relations can get too intense. Tolerance has bilateral limits. Balance, compromise, not appeasement, saves lives and smoothes settlement.

Director Kathryn Bigelow's historical film Detroit debuted on the 50th anniversary of Algiers Motel Incident and dramatizes race riots of mid-1960's. Depicts that 1st thing stolen when looting began was a bicycle, despite fact that everyone seems to be smoking and stealing cartons of cigarettes, too. Because deemed indispensable, alcohol, bicycles, drugs and tobacco serve as currency when civil order collapses. Motown music did much to obtain civil rights as amateur artists struck it big in concerts and recordings. Reveals how desperate ruling class became once freedom extended to all, but not even close to con artists, robo-callers, and telemarketers, urged by example of relentless hucksters and politicians, who indiscriminately plague email and voice messages even if you never answer.

Angry white gangs have staged a comeback in opposition of Afro, Asian, Latin and Russian rivals. Easy to gather hate groups through any excuse: hair length, kind of tattoos, original neighborhood, school attended, skin shade, or whatnot. Note that each, rather than extremes, exist on a continuum of varying degrees, levels, and moves. Everyone unique, you’re more alike than different, but too many figure you’ll take pride and torment others based on categories someone else concocts, particularly religions. Being beaten and tortured leads to Stockholm Syndrome where victim joins oppressor, so science doesn’t always make logical sense. Those who blindly do the same become only a pawn in their game, a polarized puppet without free will and ultimately to blame.

Today was Jackie Robinson Day, when 71 years ago #42 first broke Major League Baseball's ban on players of color, with all proceeds from games going to his namesake foundation. Tomorrow locally is Frost Free Day, after which residents can expect blossoms to swell, leaves to form, and warmth to spread. Should instead represent an end to dominant ice and resurgence of impartiality. Some will celebrate 75th anniversary of Bicycle Day on 19 April 2018. Earth Day arrives on Friday, 20 April 2018, as good a reason as any to go outside and grasp belonging by taking a bike ride. Honest to goodness earth awareness acknowledges social fairness. Mankind constitutes a facet of nature at odds with itself. You don’t have to join blindly, waste alongside, or wrestle with devils. Those who tread lightly learn how little they need. Bike-to-Work Day follows on Friday, 18 May 2018, always the 3rd Friday in May. Even if you’re retired or unemployed, why not take a spin? Going by bike celebrates one’s continued vitality.

'Twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon… this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [intellect] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full? Obliged to you for hearing me… ain’t got nothing more to say. Abolitionist and Suffragette Sojourner Truth, “Ain't I A Woman?” 1851 Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio

Saturday, March 24, 2018

You’s A Captain

In cult classic, Vietnam War era film Easy Rider, Wyatt (Peter Fonda) rides a chrome sparkled, star spangled chopper. Both he and motorcycle are nicknamed Captain America. This harks back to Jack Kirby’s comic book character (debuted March, 1941), who began in Brooklyn as abused candy-ass Steve Rogers to become colossal as USA’s captain, champion of freedom against tyranny with a singular obsession enabled by top secret steroids, a la antihero Lance Armstrong. Kirby received death threats for opposing Nazis before nation’s involvement in WWII; when premier issue featured Cap socking Hitler, cartoon offices were picketed and vandalized by splinter group goons. Democratic majority praised and purchased copies in droves.

A gulf exits between patriotic devotion and undeserving administration with no clue as to what that means. Soldiers lay down their lives for ingrates who don’t value their sacrifice; back from Nam, they were noticeably reviled, spit upon, when nationalism, Nixon, and noxious warhawks in congress were responsible. Sometimes powerful states need to mind their own business, not violate sovereignty because of misguided vanity, really an excuse to make a small cadre a disgusting mound of money.

In Easy Rider, fireside rap under glittering desert skies hears George (Jack Nicholson) foreshadow, “This used to be a hell of a good country, I can’t understand what’s going on with it… What you [hippie bikers] represent to them is freedom… Talking about and being it are two different things… Oh yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it's gonna scare ‘em." Billy (Dennis Hopper): “Mmmm, well, that don't make 'em runnin' scared.” George: “No, it makes 'em dangerous.” Billy, George and Wyatt all wind up dead because of this stranger danger with typical reactionary hate.

According to Marvel Comics, fictional Captain America was born on 04 July 1918. He did spend 70 years frozen after an Arctic crash and was revived in 2008, coincidently with publication of Bike&Chain, then recruited as the first Avenger, though was already the original in suspended animation. In his 90th year girlfriend Sharon Carter, under sway of nemesis Red Skull, attempted to assassinate him, only he was sent into another dimension and subsequently resurrected as head of SHIELD, where Cap will celebrate his 100th birthday this summer still defending liberty by wielding his vibranium buckler embossed with a central star and tricolor circles. After storyline controversially strayed through an affiliation with evil, Cap has a renewed fanbase. Hail Hydra… heinous nonsense! Congress today stinks of same red skullduggery and treasonous treachery. Corruption not only exhibits a bad example and sends wrong message, it steals your future and undermines security for the most vulnerable.

Among holidays, Labann not only favors the Fourth, but many summers ago rode his own Captain America bike on Independence Day, as depicted in Companion Reader, “Ever Was” (March 3, 2010). Easy Rider was an enormous influence, since it instilled a distrust of capitalism and lifelong inquiry into freedom and responsibility, fork in life’s road, mutually opposed paths, and thematic metaphor of Bike&Chain. So, blessing or curse, Captain America personally aligns with own notion of bicycling culture, though character racing about righting wrongs would likely be depicted on a motorcycle or jet, perhaps powered by alien cube or environmentally clean energy.

The very term has many bicycling associations: Tandem Captain, Team Captain, Wheelmen Captains who organized local clubs and meets over a century ago. Athletes might represent nation by wearing a Captain America skinsuit. Stem Captains can be retrofit onto bikes to present conspicuously clocks, compasses, thermometers, even tiny Captain America decorative shields, though made of aluminum, not imaginary vibranium, which absorbs all shock and is allegedly indestructible, so overkill for a small round spot atop handlebars.

Captain Gerard’s folding bike, among first practical examples, was adopted by French army in WWI. Gerard had an idea, but needed clever engineers to realize and Cycles Peugeot to manufacture, and publicized as his own, so promoted himself into an actual captain’s commission. Peugeot’s factory team won more Tour de France races, 10, than any other sponsor. As late as 1955, they produced more bicycles per year, 220,000, than cars, having by then just reached 100,000th to date. Interest in bikes steadily declined in decade before 1970’s boom. Fairdale bike brand was allegedly named after Captain James Alibaster Fairdale, who doggedly but unsuccessfully attempted to cross Arctic ice shield and reach North Pole by bicycle. Billy, George and Wyatt barely crossed America’s comparatively balmy winter Southwest en route in reverse to New Orleans, only to be beaten savagely and gunned down on the road to freedom.

As popular and relevant today as ever, Captain America wouldn’t be rallying for MAGA. You can be sure that proponents aren't sincere in Making America Great Again since they exclude segments of population and pit one group against another, not promote social justice, wage equality, or women’s rights. Any political vision within which all can’t thrive can’t be trusted by anyone. Even if you benefit at first, you’ll be next to fall when winds shift.

Should be no need to recount The 4 Freedoms: from tyranny and want, of religion and speech. Nowhere on earth are these baseline ideals fully advocated and enforced. Sacred by United Nations sanction, entire world needs to attend their application and protection, differentiate between affirmative action and insincere mention. Advice arrives via motives of authority and avarice. Acquiescing, you’ll give up while weaklings steal your vitality, take what’s yours, and walk all over you. A lone hero arranging own deal, incessantly training for inevitable battle, will forever hold appeal though nothing but an ephemeral illusion fostered by moments of fame for both do-gooders and public menaces alike. Freedom can only be secured through cooperation built on mutual trust, not negligent allegiance.

Related songs include Captain America by Jimmy Buffet, Grand Funk Railroad’s biggest hit I’m Your Captain, beloved by disillusioned, homesick Vietnam vets, and Ride Captain Ride by one hit wonder Blues Image, which could almost be a bicycling tune after avid cyclist Trey Anastasio with Phish covered. Each beats cornball Star Spangled Man with a Plan, meant to imitate 1930’s Broadway show tunes centenarian centurion Steve Rogers might remember as a teen.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Full of Frangipane

Formal Latin was the main written language in western civilization up to beginning of last millennium, then various vulgate works gradually emerged. No mystery that many literary terms come from Italy with such important poets in Dante, Horace, Ovid, Petrarch and Virgil, though they all were influenced by Homeric Greek, from which bulk of poetic glossary arose. Italian language provided anaphora, Ars Poetica, chiasmus, dactyl, decorum, futurism, persona, sonnet, stanza, terza rima, and volta. Romans also spread pastry confections common around Mediterranean since antiquity, none so perennial or ubiquitous in late winter as zeppole (Bignè di San Giuseppe) consisting of a baked or fried ball of dough filled with boiled cream, custard, or frangipane, a mixture of almonds, butter, eggs and sugar named after “frangere il pane” (trans., "that breaks bread") or Italian renaissance perfume inventor Marquis Frangipani, who may or may not be mythical.

Poetry reaches a higher level of expression than simple narration because its rules and styles force authors to carefully consider and construct what they want to say. This leads to such oddities as double entendres, facades of truth, and statements with depth of meaning. Suffice to say a great poet uses sound waves to pluck your heart strings and shape your sensibilities as if an ultrasonic weapon. Society venerates poets above scientists. Novelists concoct thinly veiled tales about acquaintances and family, who they exploit, insult, and oust.

Labann spent an entire, enviable, paid career contributing to improvements and imparting weighty facts, so does know perfectly well how to avoid ambiguities. But book and blog sought balance by exploring what opposes clarity and whether readers consider it ethical to do so. Most don't value logical facts or straightforward truth. Some even believe simplicity belongs under banner of metaphysics. Science does exhibit elegance: energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared. More often branches of science form a confusing, dangerous tangle resulting from narrow minded neglect and next generation incompetence.

You can’t cogently comment on anything unless you understand all aspects of it, its history, how it works, what it’s comprised of, whence it was derived, to whom it applies, or who keeps it going and why. A devote billion prefer fish on Fridays during Lent, since symbol of Christianity was once a fish, not cross. Information traffic won’t help you conveniently get through issues, just the opposite, raises blockades and stifles progress. Without, you might as well be running around dangerously carrying razors and scissors, though that amuses those who dominate, so will never be prohibited. When you expose such corruption, however, you’re branded as a heretic, or it’s equivalent in a godless realm, a nobody, or, under Trump, a loser.

Tim Keider opined in New York Times that writing suffers from, “…a side effect of our information economy, in which ‘paying for things’ is a quaint, discredited old 20th-century custom.” Open source published, as was Bike&Chain in 2008, probably flags either couldn’t be bothered pleasing or not worth purchasing. Neither proves it’s inferior or unimportant, only free, atypically and completely. Students can lift passages wholesale, though that only exercises newfound skills at cheating, not imaging novel ways to express self that professors were supposed to teach before higher education lost all relevance. Liberal arts once rounded hell bound workers out so well they could see through greed’s spell and ultimately rebel. Readers lately fear any arrangement where they don’t pay an internet access fee to be disappointed, stupefied while mining some sanctioned nugget of wit, and threatened never to duplicate contents under fear of lawsuit.

Talent has no place in today’s society. Reality dabbler Mike Rowe, interviewed yesterday by Fox News, belittled Americans for not submitting to dirty jobs for low pay, a master/slave wet dream of the one-percent to whom Rob Reich says went an inordinate amount of proceeds from industry since Nixon administration and source of social injustice and systemic ills today. They argue there are too many smart, unemployable people; reality proves there aren’t enough. Hawking wasn't irrelevant, represented the best mankind had to offer by defying ALS and lasting 76 years against all odds. Stephen held same post as Sir Issac Newton without knighthood, which he declined in protest against British shortfall in science funding. Blind or impaired, humans never stop dreaming, exploring, pressing ever onward, unless monetary concerns put them in prison cells. Subsidized statesmen and wealthiest individuals demand excellence without duty to pay for it. Why comply?

South Carolina Governor Hank McMaster [even sounds like a scion of slave owners] called teens protesting gunmen killing kids “shameful”. Some hidebound bircher, orthodox, right wing email must have been circulated so response would be uniformly reactionary. Gun control seems like a strange stance for GOP, who already command farmers, hunters, law enforcers, military, and ranchers, the only legitimate weapon users. Why wouldn’t they want to disarm opposition? Only care about campaign contributions, damn mayhem and murder?

There’s not much point to owning handguns and rifles if you spend all your time in a city. Where can you shoot without hitting someone inadvertently within population density? Sure, you can occasionally show up at a rural or suburban range, or stockpile weapons for some hypothetical zombie apocalypse. You could also rent a shotgun whenever urge to subjugate any clay pigeons arises, if ever. Rand Paul can’t condone any nanny state who wants to deny donuts dripping with transfats or interfere with friends frantically stuffing their faces with frangipane filled pastries while preparing for a dystopia of their own making.

“Long and weary my road has been. I was lost in the cities, alone in the hills… Friends and liars, don't wait for me, I'll get on all by myself. I put millions of miles under my heels, and still too close to you I feel. I am not your rolling wheels, I Am the Highway.” Audioslave, Chris Cornell [who died suspiciously in 2017, soon after performing this song in an anti-inaugural protest concert]

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.