Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives ... again



Reno Rambler Reader, Macca, let me know that the BBC Documentary Parallel Lives, Parallel Universis is available online for a limited time here.

I've had a problem getting around the "viewable only in the UK" deal but I think I may be able to get around it. Don't miss what is supposed to be a great profile of E's father, the renowned physicist. You can also get it piecemeal via youtube of course.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Nobody Knows Anything" . . . or "Stop Clinton/Obama Now"

To quote William Goldman, "Nobody Knows Anything" it seems in regards to who the Democrat front runner is going to be. How else do you explain the twofer subject line in this email from Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, Chairman of the Republican National Committee. They've certainly dredged up every conceivable boogie man for the Republicans:

STOP CLINTON/OBAMA NOW!

Dear Reno Rambler,

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are raking in the campaign cash hand-over-fist.

They begin 2008 having raised more than $200 million combined. In the first eight days of this year, Barack Obama's campaign bragged they had raised over $8 million -- and Hillary Clinton's campaign is right there with him.

Last year, Democrat presidential contenders and Democrat party committees combined raised more than Republicans. Liberal special interests are raising hundreds of millions of dollars from Big Labor, Hollywood elites and radical protest groups like MoveOn.org to defeat Republicans in November.

Rambler, we must close the gap with the Democrats if we are to have the resources available to elect a new Republican President and Congress. Please help the RNC raise the funds we need to counter the Democrats by making a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50, or $25 today.

The Democrats and their liberal special interest allies will spend and say whatever it takes to win total control of the government. They are determined to push our country to the Left.

Whoever the Democrat nominee ultimately is, we already know their vision for the future. Both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to:

Implement massive tax increases that punish hard-working American families in order to pay for new government bureaucracies.
Give government instead of patients and doctors more power and control over health care; and,
Retreat from the War on Terror and cut off funding for our men and women in uniform.
We cannot allow a return of the high taxes, big government, weakened national security style of governing that Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama embody.

The RNC must raise the funds now to support our eventual nominee if we are to compete with the Clinton/Obama/liberal special interest money machine. That's why today I'm turning to our Party's top supporters once again.

Electing Republicans committed to our principles of lower taxes, a strong national defense and less government begins with you, Addison. Please make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50, or $25 to support the RNC's efforts today.

Your immediate support is crucial to countering the Democrat money machine and keeping our campaign programs on track. Thank you.
Best Wishes,



Robert M. "Mike" Duncan
Chairman, Republican National Committee

P.S. Rambler, Democrats and left-wing special interest groups are raising hundreds of millions of dollars to put a liberal like Senator Clinton or Barack Obama in the White House and expand their majorities in Congress. Please make an urgent online campaign contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50, or $25 to the RNC today to keep our Party on the path to nationwide victories. Thank you.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bike Photos

Some nifty World Cup Track Cycling photos are located here.

Here's a sampling:



Sunday Morning Music - Turn Up the Heat!

As much as I love waking up to find 4 inches of fresh snow and the way it makes the neighborhood look, I dread the cold, gray days afterwards as the snow melts off and we're left with dirty, messy streets that make it difficult to ride my bike. There's nothing to be done except put on hot music and use the time inside to get things done that I've let go for too long. Here's something from one of the greatest rock and roll films of all time:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Driver Who Killed Teen Bicyclist Sues for Damage

I hate to say it but it seems that the driver has every right to sue given the circumstances. Still, 100 mph in a 55 zone? I don't think I'd have the balls to sue after killing someone:

From the NY Times (excerpt):

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- A speeding motorist who killed a teenage cyclist is suing the boy's parents over damage to his luxury car, the government says.

Enaitz Iriondo, 17, died instantly in August 2004 when businessman Tomas Delgado's Audi A8 crashed into him at 100 mph near Haro in northern Spain, an Interior Ministry traffic report said. The speed limit was 55 mph.

Iriondo was not wearing reflective clothing or a helmet, the ministry report said. As the sun had set when he crossed the path of Delgado's car from a side road, a regional court found both parties at fault and closed the case, the report said.

Delgado, whose insurance company paid Iriondo's parents $48,500 in compensation for their son's life, filed a suit in late 2006 to recover $29,400 in damages to his car and car rental costs, the ministry traffic report said.

''It's the only way I have to claim my money back,'' Delgado was quoted as saying by the newspaper El Pais, which first reported the story on Friday. El Pais said a ruling was expected next week.

Iriondo's parents were shocked.

''It's the final straw, a stab in the back,'' Iriondo's mother, Rosa Trinidad said, according to El Pais. ''Before the lawsuit we thought the poor guy would find it hard to live the rest of his life with the thought of having caused our son's death.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Globe Trekker – How can I get that job?



Ahhh, one of the beautiful things about having a day off, especially since I caught a cold, was being able to read the latest Philip Roth book (a stunner so far) and watch some pbs. Since I don’t do cable or dish that leaves me with PBS for the majority of my quality TV options. At least until Pushing Daisies is back on the air.

So today I was able to catch the lovely, Megan McCormick, from Globe Trekker traveling through Sri Lanka, a place that I spent some time in the early nineties on a Fulbright Scholarship. The show really captured exotic and serendipitous nature of the place and the warmth of the people. Alas, it also left me wondering why on earth I didn’t travel to the Maldives when I was there. Talk about gorgeous!

The real question is, how can I get a job for this show? Surely they need someone else amongst their “trekkers” for a spot on…um…educators who like to travel by bike? Well, maybe not.

With that in mind and because I’m always a little behind the curve when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I’d bring up my next bike trip/goal. Next summer after a family reunion in Lander, Wyoming, I plan to bike a portion of the TransAmerican Bike Route until I get to Sedalia, Missouri, my birthplace and where much of my family is from.


A pic from near Lander, Wyoming.

Sedalia also happens to be where Scott Joplin is from so it has that going for it.

Unfortunately the world famous "guber burger" is no longer available in Sedalia. The Wheel-In restaurant was torn down to widen a road. That's progress?

The trip will take me from Wyoming, through Colorado, the plains of Kansas, and into Missour(a). Ok, not as exotic as Sri Lanka. But I've been there, done that.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fashion and Bikes - From the NY times



A nifty little slide show from the NYTimes website focusing on normal (but very fashionable) folks on mostly utilitarian cruisers. Thanks to the BOB list for pointing this out.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Electioneering

Happy Caucus To Everyone! Things didn't turn out quite the way I expected but that's fine by me. Being involved in the political process was cool and I got to meet a bunch of nice neighbors. I can say that in my precinct even before Edwards was not considered viable Obama led in votes. After the 2nd choices were made Obama increased his support.

Anyway, this is neither here nor there. I'm happy the Dems have three (Ok, 2 now) worthy candidates. What should be scaring the bejesus out of Repubs is the turnout. Every person I talked to from different precincts said that that the turn out for the dem caucus was at least double and triple what was expected with tons of people who had never registered showing up to cast a vote. Even Harry Reid, who was ridiculed for saying the turnout would hit 100,000 (more "reasonable" estimates were guessing between 60-80K) has got to be thrilled with the 120,000 people who showed.

In honor of our more prominent caucus I give you Electioneering. As one commenter on Youtube says, "F***in' Greenwood is the shit!!!!!!!"

Friday, January 18, 2008

Damn! Pete Townsend and Eels on the same stage!


LINES

Well-known fan of E, Pete Townsend, showed up at a one-off solo gig By E to read from E's new memoir.

TORN FROM TRAGEDY
By André Paine, Evening Standard 18.01.08 More reviews by André Paine


Languid charisma: Mark Oliver Everett

Mark Everett's traumatic back-story has been documented in much of his song-writing over the past decade: his sister committed suicide, cancer killed his mother and he found the body of his father, who had a heart attack at 51.
Now the Eels frontman has penned his autobiography and, judging by the readings at this candlelit show, it's as smartly written and emotionally affecting as his oddball tunes.
Dressed more like a janitor than a pop star, this middle-aged man from Virginia still possessed a languid charisma. He could even get away with singing the exquisitely sad piano ballad It's a Mother****er in church.

Everett also persuaded audience members to read book excerpts and when he invited a man with a beard in the fourth row up on stage, it turned out to be Pete Townshend.
That left Everett to focus on the music and, after it began slowly with him strumming guitar, we were soon treated to reworkings of some witty, effortlessly melodic tunes.
Flyswatter featured Everett's husky, cigar-smoker's voice battling a pounding piano, while I Like Birds was endearingly childlike. In contrast, Souljacker was sparse but sinister.

The price of the ticket included a book for the fans to take home. But this emotionally enriching performance suggested it's the songs where Everett ultimately makes sense of his sad and strange life.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Portland Bicycling...something to aspire to


A nice story from Marketplace on the success of Portland, Oregon in supporting and developing into the number one cycling city in the United States. Worth a listen or read.

Barack is The Rock?

This landed in my mailbox this morning from a friend and fellow biker dude that I'll only identify as "B". Listen, compare, and see if he isn't onto something:

I First heard Barack Obama speak a couple of weeks ago in the Iowa debate. I know he has received praise as a public speaker and I couldn't help but be impressed by his rhetorical skill and unflappable poise when under attack. Even though it was the first time I had heard him speak, I couldn't help but think that I had heard his voice somewhere before.

But where....?

After extensive YouTube research, that was only slightly impeded by video of backyard wrestling and guys doing burnouts in their '82 Camaros, I think I have finally uncovered the biggest revelation of the current Presidential campaign.

Barack Obama is The Rock, of WWE fame.

They don't look alike but their voices are the same. Modern plastic surgery techniques are pretty advanced so a little nip here and a tuck there and viola a presidential candidate born from the crucible that is modern sports entertainment.

If Jesse Ventura could do it in Minnesota there is no reason a new and improved Ba-Rock can't win the penultimate position in United States politics.

Simply listen to the attached video clips and make up your own mind. (you might need to close your eyes)


The Rock


Barack

Caucus for HI-LLA-RY...It's easy as 1, 2, 3

Hmmm...The campaign literature for Hillary Clinton reminds me of a song...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eels! It's your lucky day...


Two, count'em two, big releases from Eels came out yesterday. I'll let this article from Uncut sum it up. Click on the image to get it to a readable size. Check out Rocking Eels to get all the Eels news that's fit to print. You can also check out a good review of the forthcoming E memoir here.
Choice Excerpt:
...it underlines that if you’re looking for songwriters who consistently combine raw emotional honesty with invincible musical hooks, then you have to rank Everett alongside John Lennon and Kurt Cobain. That’s how good he is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Does Nevada Matter? - Caucus News

An interesting story from Newsweek on the Nevada Caucus. As an NSEA member I'm not particularly pleased at the moment. Excerpt:

Nevada voters are seeing another facet of early-primary politics: nasty political infighting. Last week the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA), the state's teachers union, filed suit challenging the creation of nine "at-large" precincts in meeting spaces in Strip casino resorts designed to enfranchise hotel employees who can't leave work to caucus in their home precincts.

While the NSEA hasn't endorsed a candidate, some of the group's top officials are Clinton supporters, so the lawsuit is seen as an effort to suppress the turnout of members of the state's largest union, the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which endorsed Obama last week. The union's secretary-treasurer, D. Taylor, is furious. "I never thought we'd have people in the Democratic Party try to disenfranchise women, people of color and large numbers of working people in this state," says Taylor. "I am sure every single elected official in Nevada will renounce it, and so will the Clinton campaign. If there's not renouncing of it, then there's an agreement with it."

Darn Tootin'...It's a Big Fig Newton!


Small but Mighty!

Some things mark certain generations from each other. I view this commercial with great nostalgia. While others just think it's creepy. I dare you to watch it and not be humming happily along with the song the rest of the day. No idea why the embedding option was disabled.

Bike content: Could it be the best biking food ever? Invented before tasteless protein carbloading power bars!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Neil Finn

For most people Neil Finn will always be "that cute singer from '80s' band, Crowded House." For those that know better he is one of the finest pop song writers working, whether it is in his stellar solo material (listen to Try Whistling This) or through his off and on again projects as the frontman of CH. There's a reason his brother's band, Split Enz, broke out into international fame after Neil joined and wrote this song for them. [If you pay attention you'll see future CH drummer Paul Hester on tambourine].



The current(ish) incarnation performing the Lennonesque song "Pour Le Monde" from their most recent album. Beautiful.

Nevada Teachers Challenge Caucus Rules

As a teacher and union member I thought I would at least throw a link up for this story. Excerpt:

Culinary union secretary-treasurer D. Taylor said the plaintiffs were using "Floridian Republican tactics to suppress cooks, housekeepers, people of color and women." He suggested the suit was driven by supporters of Obama opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Perfection!


I've been to a lot of art galleries over the years in many large and small cities and I've never been more impressed than when I walked into So-Oh Art Gallery in Lincoln, NE. Usually the 95%/5% rule applies especially in art galleries. Do you know this rule? Look at any collection of art, Top 100 Billboard albums this week, the top 100 films released in a given year, etc. 95% will be absolute crap, and 5% will have some merit. If you break that 5% barrier consider it a lucky break (which might be the case last year if you look at films--it's been a pretty good year).

Anyway, So-Oh Gallery breaks that ceiling handily. I'd guess that I'd be happy to have a third of the art hanging in my home. That's why I'm so pleased to have acquired this photo that has haunted me since the first time I saw it several years ago. Perfection by Barbara Abel is extraordinary but I'll leave this article to better describe the interesting history behind this series of mannequins. An excerpt:


Manufactured in Europe and the States from the 1890s through the late 1940s, they looked like a fucking freak show, totally creepy with human hair, gemlike glass eyes and porcelain dentures. Sunlight melted their makeup and they were hollow to the core, but for all intents and purposes, these idols of desire sold sex to the bourgeoisie better than a streetwalker. Window shopping became a mindless leisure activity sedating women, lulling them into a fantasy world as they imagined what life would be like as an impeccably dressed dummy. Outfitted in couture, the sculptures, especially those manufactured in the renowned Pierre Imans Studio in early 1900s Paris, were avant-garde artworks available for all the city to see...

"I never realized it would change things so much for me," Abel says, about her portrait series Tragic Beauties. The West Bloomfield resident shot four rolls of film in one afternoon in 1995. Since then, she's become a dedicated participant in the national art fair circuit, exhibiting her work to a general audience and eliciting strong reactions like fear and anger. In a review, a local critic once mistook her photos for images of real women made up to look abused.

Abel's traveled to Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York shooting private collections of wax mannequins, many of which now sell for hundreds of dollars to more than a thousand apiece. Her photos have appeared in numerous shows across the Midwest and East Coast, including a solo show at New York's Viridian Gallery, curated by Susan Harris, formerly of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her photographs also hung two years ago in the show Guys n' Dolls, in Brighton, England, alongside images by Man Ray and Hans Bellmer.

Surrealists like Ray and Bellmer used dolls to toy with fear, death and desire in a time of Nazism. And later, American filmmakers from the 1950s and 60s confronted the issue of conformity with doppelgängers in science fiction and horror movies, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In 1960, The Twilight Zone aired an episode called "After Hours," featuring a houswife who turns into a mannequin.


You can see a good online gallery of the works at So-Oh here. Check out the Larry Welo and the Deborah Mae Broad.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Back to School After 2 Weeks of Rejuvenation

And with a 2 hour delayed start!



A Xmas gift from one of my students.

A Sunday Morning Music - 2fer

Last week Radiohead released their latest album, In Rainbows, via more traditional avenues (itunes, stores, etc.). What was most interesting about the release was the full album film called Scotch Mist that came out in conjunction showing studio performances from the band. You can view the full film here. View one of the best tracks from the album below. All I Need is typical Radiohead - at first subtle and then soaring. It's a gentle reminder that beyond being studio wizards they are a great performing band. Easily one of the best concerts I've ever been to when I saw them a few years back. Comes with a funky intro:



I've been feeling guilty that I did not include The National in my year-end round up of great music from 2007. Boxer is a great album. A sad oversight on my part.

Bike Commuting on the Rise

Well, maybe not in Reno(?) but in Marin anyway.

An excerpt:
66 percent increase in bicycling during commute hour

A county study shows more people are rolling around on bikes these days.
As part of Marin's $25 million federal pilot bike plan, the county took a count of local bicycle and pedestrian trips to create a baseline from which to judge the program.

Overall, there has been a 66 percent increase in weekday commute-hour bicycle traffic and a 33 percent rise in weekend riding, when compared with a similar count conducted in 1999.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Iowa - Race and Religion


It's pretty obvious that prior to the Iowa caucus that 4 or 5 of the Democratic contenders are more qualified to lead this country than the current administration and certainly better qualified than what the GOP has been offering up this cycle. Congrats are in order to Obama for a big win. I've been rooting for Edwards all along as his resume looks more impressive to me. But 2nd place is not bad although it still may spell doom for his campaign because of lack of money and press coverage. Not surprisingly the major media seems to be more focused on Obama's win (rightly so) and Clinton's third place showing than Edward's taking 2nd over the Clinton machine. Numerous outlets have pointed out how the turnout being almost double in Iowa certainly does not bode well for the GOP. That many people wanting a change of course must be making Republican strategists lose sleep. I'm just looking forward to the NV caucus in a couple weeks.

Glenn Greenwald has an interesting column about Obama, the race issue, and the dirty campaigning we can all plan on if Obama wins the nom. In talking about this contingent of the Republican party he notes:

There's a prevailing sense that Obama is not as offensive to the right-wing GOP faction as other Democratic and liberal candidates in the past have been, or that he's less "divisive" among them than Hillary. And that's true: for now, while he tries to take down the individual who has long provoked the most intense hatred -- literally -- among the Right. But anyone who doesn't think that that's all going to change instantaneously if Obama is the nominee hasn't been watching how this faction operates over the last 20 years. Hatred is their fuel. Just look at the bottomless personal animus they managed to generate over an anemic, mundane, inoffensive figure like John Kerry. At their Convention, they waved signs with band-aids mocking his purple hearts while cheering on two combat-avoiders. [Emphasis Mine]


That last bit brought back flashes of just how ugly 2004 got and frankly gives me the willies. I hope the country can rise above this sort of race bait crap. Judging from the Obama/Osama Hussein email flurries that are already circulating it's hard to have much hope.

On the flip side, who knows if Mike Huckabee can actually turn this win into a march towards the GOP nomination but it sets up an interesting cultural conflict. I think Americans tend to want to believe they are more Christian, or at least Religious, than they really are. Alas, I don't really think that's true but I'm wondering how much of the Evangelical Christianity the general population can stomach before there is a mainstream rejection of this backwards, medieval, way of viewing the world. I mean really, when a sect of the Christian Right is pushing a candidate that rejects so many of the major scientific advancements in knowledge from the last 600 years what are you going to do? Even George Will brought up this impending clash in our culture if the GOP so clearly wears his religion on his sleeve a la Huckabee or Romney.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Biking in a Winter Wonderland


I'd happened upon this arctic cycling blog a few months back and been pretty much in awe of "Jill's" biking regimen but hadn't bothered to blog about it. But I just noticed that velonews picked it for one of their featured sites and since we are on the verge of "one of the biggest winter storms in years" I thought I'd post about it. If you're ever thinking that it's too cold to ride just visit Jill at Arcticglass. I need to take my own advice. I used to be much tougher about the cold when I lived in Nebraska.