Saturday, January 27, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Amy Gillett on the Track
I have my bias when it comes to car driver and bicyclist confrontations but I can appreciate this commercial from the Amy Gillet foundation on keeping the peace and sharing the roads. The "driver" in this commerical makes a good point about bicyclists who do whatever they want. I tend to think it hurts all cyclists when they ignore lights and jump from sidewalk to street, etc. etc.
Too bad that here in Reno some of the most annoying cyclists tend to be the Reno Bike Cops who are consistently breaking laws while patrolling the downtown area.
Click on the link above to play the commerical.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I've been mesmerized by Camille for some time now (she almost made my best of the year in music list...see below). No, it's not because she's a hot French singer with a great voice, though that doesn't hurt. Actually I had been listening to her for weeks without knowing what she looks like. It's that playful use of her voice as an instrument that hooked me. This video is a treat because the song is so catchy and the "story" quite fun. Even more so if you have an obsession with knitting.
If you need proof that Camille is the real deal check out this live version of Ta Douleur as well.
Monday, January 15, 2007
An interesting piece from the LA Times on the challenges the Democratic Presidential hopefuls will face as they campaign in NV. The independent streak that Nevadans have WILL no doubt be a challenge when handling issues of gun rights, water, taxes, and the environment. But the candidates better be most wary of how they pronounce the state's name:
"For some Democrats, campaigning here may require them to learn a new way of talking — starting with the pronunciation of the state. It's Ne-VAD-uh, not Ne-VAH-duh, which may seem like a small thing unless you live here."
I don't know how many votes a candidate would lose for the mispronunciation but it even rubs me the wrong way and I've only been a resident for 12 years. I dare say it's right up there with pronouncing Oregon, OreGONE.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
This is from Salon.com's, Andrew Leonard. Since you need a subscription to view it I thought I'd post the article in it's entirety. I understand what they are going for here in terms of the analogy but I think the Woody Allen version from Annie Hall works better:
"A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark. "
Free trade: Keep peddling, or crash?
I learned today that there is a "bicycle theory" of trade liberalization. It's very simple: it argues that the world must aggressively keep removing barriers to trade, because, in the absence of progress, there will be backsliding. If you stop peddling your bicycle, you'll fall over. If you stop concluding new trade agreements, protectionism will bloom. As former United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said in 2001, "If the trade liberalization process does not move forward, it will, like a bicycle, be pulled down by the political gravity of special interests."
The "bicycle theory" is understandably quite popular among free traders. The concept appears to have been popularized in the 1970s by C. Fred Bergsten, the founder and director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a prominent pro-trade think tank. It's also received support from one of the most formidable academic proponents of free trade, Jagdish Bhagwati, who discusses it in his book "Protectionism."
I saw a reference to it this morning in John Dingell's Trade Diversion blog, and I immediately went searching for more information. I wanted to see some evidence backing up the theory, because it applies directly to the question of how to think about the current stalled status of the Doha "development round" of WTO trade talks, a subject that has been mulled over in this space on a couple of occasions.
How the World Works subscribes to a mildly contrarian take on Doha, which holds that the current standstill is actually a sign of maturity: the developing world is no longer willing to pliantly sign onto deals that screw it over to the advantage of the developed world. This is undoubtedly an over-simplification, but it seems clear that the E.U. and the U.S. can no longer unilaterally call all the shots. There is a new world order, one that includes multiple loci of power.
From a bicycle theory standpoint, a loss of momentum implies an imminent crash, which means any standstill is a catastrophe. And yet, empirical evidence for such a proposition appears to be slim. The vast majority of references to the theory that I've been able to find so far are on the order of "If you believe in the bicycle theory of trade, as I do, then..." Its popularity seems more to do with its metaphorical power than with its quantifiable verifiability.
But just how potent is that metaphor, really? In my neck of the woods, the San Francisco Bay Area, we have no shortage of exceedingly skilled cyclists. I have long admired their ability to hover, nearly motionless, while waiting for a red light to change at an intersection, without ever putting a foot on the ground, or collapsing in a heap. I've worked for years to master the skill myself -- it's a matter of making minute adjustments in weight distribution and wheel direction, keeping as still as possible, and refusing to panic. I'm no pro, but I'm getting better.
Proponents of the bicycle theory seem to be encouraging a kind of panic. Keep moving, or disaster will overcome us all! Who cares what kind of trade agreement we cook up, anything is better than nothing!
Again, I'd love to see the evidence. But personally, I don't find the metaphor compelling. Maybe that's because I've always inclined towards a more dialectical appreciation of the to-and-fro of world events. Too much momentum in one direction is just as likely to inspire a counter-reaction as is no momentum. Protectionist feeling surges when people, or nations, feel they are getting a raw deal, not because no deals are being made at all. A bad trade agreement would seem more likely to encourage anti-trade fervor than no trade agreement at all.
Monday, January 08, 2007
This article poses an interesting question. Does the memorializing of killed cyclists (a la "ghost bikes") dissuade people from riding bikes, and more importantly, commuting by bicycle?
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Hey, if the fine people of Chicago can do it, why can't we? Reno typically has much balmier winters and less snow. The Sierras usually do a good job of blocking the precipitation. Hey if you can wear spandex and ski this time of year, you can ride your bike as well. With the proper clothing cycling in winter is plenty warm.
Maybe we can have a new version of the Santa crawl next year.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Monday, January 01, 2007
Mike Magnuson was not a healthy man. His opus, Heft on Wheels, is perfect reading for those wanting to make some physical and mental "adjustments" in their lifestyle. I've never been one to make a list of resolution's, but his book about the transformation from a "lummox" weighing in at 275 or so, to a 180 pound competitive amateur cyclist is painful to read for its honest exploration and self-assessment of changing virtually everything in a person's life and coming out the other side as a better human being. In case you were wondering, it is not really about weight loss. The book is about finding oneself after 20 plus years of travelling down one path and realizing you don't really like the person you've become. As one reviewer noted:
"Any cyclist who reads this book will quickly understand the analogy that I am about to use. The first eight chapters of this book are like climbing the most torturous mountain you've ever attempted. It hurts you down to your soul and assaults your senses as Magnuson details the extent of which he has fallen. You begin to understand the heights to which he will have to climb (both metaphorically and physically) to reach his own humanity. These first eight chapters are so painful they almost discourage you from reading the rest of the book."
I don't think you need to be a cyclist to understand and appreciate this book. The last few years I find myself rereading the book around this time of year. I think it provides a bit of a mental kick in the pants for those interested in improving themselves. To learn more click on the above link to see more about Magnuson's transformation.