Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Lou Reed

For some reason Dirty Blvd. is hitting my mood just right tonight.  That's a little disturbing actually.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Is the End Nigh for the Urban Chic Fixed Gear Bike?

If it's not nigh you'd have to say that it has one more nail in its coffin when Walmart is offering a $150 "fixed gear" bicycle.   There's nothing to really celebrate here since any time you get more people cycling it has to be considered a good thing.  The bicycle industry is so fragmented, or micro-niched, at this point that  different types of bicycling are going to pass in and out of favor (and back in favor) quickly.  The urban, multi-use, geared commuter, seems to be the most popular now.   The more different "species" there are in the bicycle ecosystem the healthier the environment is for all of us.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Morning Music - Sinead O'Connor

Irony of ironies that Ms. O'Connor's infamous act of tearing up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live was done to protest the sexual abuse perpetrated by the Catholic church.  It almost killed her career in the U.S.   What a waste because her first two albums include some of the most powerful music of the last 25 years.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lawnmower Man



I was walking the dog and realized as we entered the yard that the grass has started growing!  It's March!  I'm ready for spring weather but not so much for mowing the lawn even with my nifty battery powered mower.  Perhaps I'd find it more fun with this contraption.   A pedal-powered lawnmower from Ted Wojciks.  I'm just not sure it'll maneuver around the shrubs and trees all that well.


Excerpt:



Due to the overwhelming response, his yet-to-be-named machine could hit the production lines as early as this summer.
It’s a recumbent-style bicycle that pulls a mower along the grass to trim it. The machine was designed and constructed at Wojcik’s shop, Ted Wojcik Custom Bicycles, and was tested on the lawn outside. Passers-by stopped to take a close look and asked where they could purchase one.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Sea Change from Washington D.C.

Obviously the health care bill being passed is an extraordinary accomplishment.  I tend to believe that whatever its flaws, it is a moral imperative that we do a better job of protecting the millions of adults, and CHILDREN, without health insurance.

That being said the sea change I am speaking of is the recent statements from Secretary LaHood over a change in the attitude of government towards transportation policy.

Excerpt:

At long last, the feds have said the needs of pedestrians and cyclists must be placed alongside, not behind, those of motorists.
In what amounts to a sea change for the Department of Transportation, the automobile will no longer be the prime consideration in federal transportation planning. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the needs of pedestrians and cyclists will be considered along with those of motorists, and he makes it clear that walking and riding are “an important component for livable communities.”
“People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning,” LaHood wrote on his blog. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."
Read More http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/03/lahood-policy-statement/#ixzz0is6Kyjij

Suffer For Fashion - a belated Sunday Music Pick

I was watching the September Issue a couple of weeks ago and appropriately enough this song came on by Of Montreal.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Dutch Get "There" By Bike

This isn't exactly an original idea.  Back in the late 1800s there were actually "races" held that involved the same idea.  But I'll give the bike company, VANMOOF, points for execution with this commercial.  I'm straining to come up with some use of the feminist phrase, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," but...um...clearly women don't need a man or a fish so just take them out of the equation.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bikes Can Save The World...One Kid at a Time.


A nice story from CBS news.  Yet more evidence that bicycling makes a real difference in making the world a better place.   Become a sponsor now!  
Sponsorships are $88, the average price for a bike in the third world. On missions, Austin brings photos and maps so each child knows the person who cared enough to buy them that bike. In return, each donor gets a picture of the bike they donated and a picture of the child who received it. 
Go here to watch the video.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Second Coming - Google Maps for Bikes Launched!

I couldn't check my email today without being reminded about Google's new foray into the bike world with the bike map function in google maps.  It seems everybody, friend, acquaintances, and the bike world at large, was all a flutter. After scanning numerous articles on the subject the best so far has been this piece from salon.   This excerpt really captures the goals of Google with the very strength that the internet brings to such a massive project:
This is something that cyclists have been hoping for and working towardsfor a long time. Oh sure, I know there will be bugs in Google's routing algorithm, which is designed to automatically suggest the most bike-friendly route to get you from point to point. It's a lot trickier to figure out the best bike route for a trip than the speediest, most direct route for a car. Bikers will go out of their away to avoid high traffic streets or will purposely seek out especially scenic routes. And, if the alpha bike geeks who swarm in the Bay Area are any example, they will not be shy about exposing Google's failures and trumpeting them to the heavens. But Google's representatives are taking pains to stress that they will be welcoming user feedback to correct any errors or add additional info: My hope is that a properly designed and administered system will marry Google's algorithmic-fu with localized human intelligence and, over time, we will get a platform of bike-rich geography that just keeps improving. That, more or less, is how the distributed knowledge-base that is the Internet keeps evolving.
More here.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Dark Side of Bicycling?


A recent article on the Hitler Youth that used bicycles to tour through Britain caught my eye.  Since I'm in the midst of teaching the Diary of Anne Frank, the Third Reich is weighing heavily on my mind.  I'm a big fan of literature that explores issues surrounding World War II so it's ironic that this showed up at just this point in time.

Newly declassified British intelligence files reveal the ripples of alarm that spread through the country as Hitler Youth cyclists toured Britain in 1937. Reports of sightings poured in from local police amid fears the teenagers might be two-wheeled "spyclists" scouting the country for a future invasion.
"The general image of fit young Germans with blond hair and leather shorts cycling through parts of England where nothing much had happened for years created quite a stir," said Christopher Andrew, author of the official history of MI5, Britain's domestic espionage service.

Summer Dreams


Somewhere between Eureka and Ely last June.  Click on the image for a larger view.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Morning Music - Gorillaz

On the eve of the release of the new Gorillaz album (you can stream it here) I thought it would be nice to revisit an earlier classic.  Don't know if Plastic Beach measures up yet but I'm willing to go on a little faith that it will be at the very least one of the more interesting records of the year.  Stylo is already one of the better videos running around now.

Too bad the band has such a lock down on their videos online:

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Wrong Turn: What Went Wrong With Urban Development.

It's no secret that our autocentric city design is laden with problems.  And even though this video on fixing these problems focuses on New York City, it is easy to see how applicable it is to other cities, even ones that are moderate sized like Reno.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Non-Believers Are People Too! And Apparently Smarter As Well.


I'll probably get lambasted for saying this but since we atheists live in a world where references to religion are regularly shoved down our throats, I'm not going to feel too bad about this meager post.  Apparently the Secular Coalition of America was invited to speak with members of the Obama Administration at the White House last week.  I remember gasping when Obama actually mentioned non-believers in his inaugural address to the nation.  This is in direct contrast to George W. Bush and his statements about how atheists are incapable of being patriots or possibly even citizens of the country.


In more atheist news, a new study links liberalism, atheism, and male sexual exclusivity, to higher IQs.  What's most interesting in reading about the study is how the results are linked to our evolutionary biology, or psychology.  Of course, if you are a fundamentalist you don't believe in that pesky evolution thing anyway:


Religion, the current theory goes, did not help people survive or reproduce necessarily, but goes along the lines of helping people to be paranoid, Kanazawa said. Assuming that, for example, a noise in the distance is a signal of a threat helped early humans to prepare in case of danger.
"It helps life to be paranoid, and because humans are paranoid, they become more religious, and they see the hands of God everywhere," Kanazawa said.
Participants who said they were atheists had an average IQ of 103 in adolescence, while adults who said they were religious averaged 97, the study found. Atheism "allows someone to move forward and speculate on life without any concern for the dogmatic structure of a religion," Bailey said.
"Historically, anything that's new and different can be seen as a threat in terms of the religious beliefs; almost all religious systems are about permanence," he noted.  More here.