Thursday, October 28, 2010

Abandon Hope!? Election 2010.

I've been thinking a lot about the film, Winter's Bone since I saw it a couple of months ago.  If you haven't seen it it's worth it for the Jennifer Lawrence performance alone (although there are many great performances in the movie).  What struck me when I first left the theater was how thankful I was that I didn't live in hillbilly ozark land like the characters in the film.  As Roger Ebert put it in his review, these are not characters you would expect to have ever filed a tax return.  It's like they were out of "Deliverance" only scarier because they were more real.  In fact, I'd say they've been pretty much left behind by the last half century of modernism, civil rights, technology, etc.  No wonder I was so relieved that I live in "civilization."

Yet only a few days later I went for a bike ride and was probably only 15 miles outside of Reno proper when I happened upon this message (see above) painted on the side of a fallen telephone pole.

I thought to myself, it would probably only take a few miles beyond this message to be in Nevada's own version of the subculture presented in Winter's Bone.  Meth labs, and anti-government extremism, and radical hillbillies exist out there (and in town I suppose) and it's not as far away as I'd like to think.  The difference is that our brand in Nevada might actually vote a Sharron Angle into office.

Further reflection made me wonder if the message on that pole had another level of meaning.

Is it intentionally a play on the theme of Obama's campaign in 2008?  Or was it there before.  All I know is that it is as important as ever to keep hope alive for the future of our country and our embrace of a philosophy that promotes the well-being and equal rights of all citizens.  A friend of mine who is far less prone to getting depressed about the current right-wing political situation in this country sees the bigger view that after centuries of progress and a march towards a more modern liberal society that we are bound to have a few hiccups but in the end the march of progress can't be stopped.  Ultimately I agree with this sentiment but I'm afraid it will only happen with the continued vigilance of the people who supported Obama and the ongoing work to keep "Hope" alive.

It is perhaps a bit simplistic but this video at the very least captures a sense of what is wrong with the world-view of the right as we push forward into the 21st century.  The question is, which side of the equation do you want to be on as history judges you?  The party of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred?

And below, a trailer for Winter's Bone.  A must see film...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bicycle Helmet Meets Airbag!

This has got to be one of the more bizarre bicycle safety innovations I've ever seen.  The slo-mo video has got to be viewed to be believed.  How effective it is...not sure I'd opt for it but the "fashion" shots seem like an interesting way to promote the look of device.  Frankly, it seems more like something you'd see on David Letterman or something.  More videos here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Music - Sufjan Stevens

In honor of the new album by Sufjan Stevens, one of the few true artists working in pop music today, and because I'll be missing both his shows in Oakland tomorrow and Tuesday night (grrrrrrr) here's a live performance of Too Much from the new album.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Talk About Complete Streets! Cyclists, Horses, Pedestrians, Carriages, Cars, and Street Cars OH MY!

Recently a historian discovered that this famous footage of Market St. in San Francisco was not from 1905 as originally thought but from around a week before the 1906 earthquake.   What really is most amazing is the way the interactions between cyclists, horses, pedestrians, carriages, cars, and street cars all seem like a sort of slow motion ballet.  Of course, none of these vehicles could probably maintain a speed much over 15 mph so it really is in slow motion as compared to today.

Early on you can see some cyclists weaving along the street and it made me wonder about how much footage there is out there of cyclists using the bike for transportation from this era as opposed to the more common early bicycle race footage I'm accustomed to seeing.  Regardless, this is pretty mesmerizing footage and it's pretty cool that this version has a track from the band, Air, accompanying it.

*Interesting historical fact:  After the 1906 quake the original Reno Wheelmen Clubhouse at 1st and (what is now) Arlington was used as temporary housing for some of the displaced SF population.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bike Riders in New York Win Settlement

Hot August Bikes from 2009 in Reno
Much as I want to believe that most police officers have the best interests of cyclists at heart when they interact with cyclists, it is stories like this that remind me that too many cops have a long way to got when it comes to understanding the needs, rights, and responsibilities of cyclists to the road.   

The city agreed on Monday to pay nearly $1 million to participants in the monthly Critical Mass bicycle rides who claimed they had been wrongly detained and arrested by police officers....

The settlements, totaling $965,000, do not include the many lawsuits filed by riders who were arrested during the Republican National Convention in 2004.
The Critical Mass riders and the Police Department have a long, antagonistic history. Since 2004, riders have claimed that police officers harass them, take their bicycles and arrest them without reason. The police have said the cyclists violate traffic laws. The department has deployed hundreds of officers, a mobile command unit and a helicopter to monitor the rides, which wend their way through Manhattan on the last Friday of each month.
Mark Zuckerman, a lawyer for the city, said the settlement was “in the best interest of all the parties.”
Mr. Rankin said he thought the settlement was fair, and that the city’s policies toward the riders had changed. “We hope that the cyclists and the N.Y.P.D. can figure out a way to work together,” he said.
Barbara Ross, a longtime rider who was arrested in 2005 on charges of parading without a permit and disorderly conduct, will receive about $15,000 from the settlement. She said that although the police have changed tactics, Critical Mass participants were still being harassed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Soccer Meets Cycling

Don't know that I would watch this sport on tv given the opportunity but they do have some good bike handling skills.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bad Ass!

I just had to pass this along if only because the photography is so great.  I hope I'm kicking ass on a bike when I get to be this guy's age.  Oh wait, I've never really kicked ass on a bike.  Over the years I've mulled trying to start some sort of Brevet series in Reno.  Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need.

The article and site gives more info but I'll quote a portion:
If the term L’Eroica is new to you this is how it’s described by the organizers, “L’EROICA” is a period cyclotouristic rally held mainly on gravel roads, organized since 1997. It is a special “race” from every point of view. It proposes surroundings and scenes from the “heroic” times of cycling: dust or mud, no organized service, vintage refreshments, wonderful and demanding roads, great ability to adapt and to suffer. We search for the authentic roots of the awesome popularity of that cycling world made by the giants of the roads, which created so much literary legends.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The End is Nigh!

In honor of the impending end of the latest Eels world tour here is a link to a great video of one of their recent shows.  Couldn't embed the link but totally worth it to click over and see the three guitar assault E and company inflicted on audiences.  Some good interview footage as well.

Bicycle Awareness Test

The last couple of years I've used these bicycle awareness videos from Transport for London as an intro to my Sherlock Holmes unit that I teach.  Above is the most recent commercial they have produced.  All this to convince students that they need to be extra observant of suspicious behavior and possible motives as we read the Hound of the Baskervilles.   The kids love them and it doesn't hurt that there is the additional message of being aware of bicyclists on the road.   Perhaps in a couple of years when they are getting their licenses they will be that much more aware that they are sharing the road with other users.

This older video is especially good for the Sherlock Holmes tie-in.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Who Needs An SUV?

Once again, Denmark demonstrating how to do urban riding RIGHT!   Thanks to reader Francine for forwarding this along!

Copenhagen Cargo Bikes from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Voting Democrat? A little enthusiasm please!

This video is not too far off the mark.  But it's disturbing that this is the main reason to NOT vote Republican.  How about some real energy, leadership, and excitement on the left?  I ran across this quote from writer, Aaron Sorkin, yesterday:

"The Democrats have moved to the center, but the Republicans have moved into a mental institution.  I'll take the Democrats."

Isn't there a better option?  Forgive me if I'd like to vote for something besides voting against the Republican idiocy.

Fall Colors

A few shots from my ride from Mogul to Hirschdale with some friends this past Saturday.   I'm so ready for some fall weather so what a nice change the last couple of days!

Monday, October 04, 2010


I've been keeping tabs on the ongoing story about the death of Kevin Albertson after being hit by a Washoe County Sheriff's Deputy.  Here is the latest article from the RGJ.  Strangely, there was an earlier article that more specifically addressed the length of time between the July accident and actual charges being filed but I can no longer find it on the RGJ site.  There was a paragraph that raised my eyebrows regarding the delay in charges being filed with a quote pointing out that if it wasn't a Deputy Sheriff involved charges likely would have been filed within a week after the incident.  Was it edited or am I just night able to find it on the clunky RGJ site?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Drawing America By Bike

This seems like a pretty cool way to share an amazing bike tour.  The video is nicely done as well but I couldn't find any embed code.