Muscle Powered Transportation

Regarding BBC: Why Is Cycling So Popular In The Netherlands? 

Streets pre-date cars. But for many Americans, it is impossible to imagine a city that was not made FOR cars. Our laws and customs drive us to pay any price at all so we can go even short distances on a car. As a result, our bicyclists live a sort of chance, outlaw existence. But different societies are possible. If there is another fuel crisis, the Dutch are going to be laughing at us.

Elite transportation is muscle – your muscle. For too long we’ve let our cars dictate where we live, what we wear, where we shop, how we handle traffic, even what income we need to have. We think that being owned by machines is something from science fiction, but if you can’t go up two flights of stairs on your own power without getting out of breath, what else would you call it? So break loose, already.

“Mach-S, the speed at which stress can’t keep up, is simply forward motion. But it has to be self- propelled. Note that people in cars are still stressed.”
— Jef Mallett, author and artist of comic strip Frazz

(Reposted from my old blog, my photos, and from Facebook)

Waging Peace

Regarding Ian Welsh; Bin Laden’s Insights And The Egyptian Coup

The points made in this excellent article stand on their own (please read it) but I would like to make one more. I don’t know if Bin Laden wanted to be listened to, but as a writer and thinker he did have something to say. The problem is that we are so busy hating him for his violent acts that we cannot listen to him. Bin Laden BAD!!! GRRR!!!

This is also true of the Unibomber, who wrote a manifesto that made several good points worth considering. Have you read it? Probably not, because Ted Kaczynski sent bombs through the mail, maiming and killing people. Violence utterly obscured his message.

The United States carries a message about freedom, about the common good, and about a better world not based on group hatred. But at the same time we’ve projected power violently in both overt and covert ways. You think the victims of a US-backed oppressive regime care what we have to say about anything? How about the parents of a child killed in a drone strike?

To the rest of the world, we are Bin Laden. We are Ted Kaczynski. They can’t hear us over the screams of torture chambers, or the ringing in their ears from explosions. When our medium is violence, what is our message?

If we want to be heard, we need to figure out how to wage peace.

Reposted from G+. h/t Mike The Mad Biologist for the link.

Social networking is no substitute for a blog – but it can compliment one

In the Fall of 2012 I suspended my long-running Decrepit Old Fool (DOF) blog for a hiatus, which ends with the page you are reading now. In the meantime I explored social networking on Facebook, G+ and Twitter. (I’ve since archived my DOF blog as static html; you can peruse it if you like.)

Social networking has some awesome advantages for connecting with people. I believe it will continue to expand its position in human society; we are, after all, social beings. But there are a couple things that social networking lacks: permanence and control. You might get up one morning and find out the bright minds at Facebook or Twitter have decided to change how everything on your feed is displayed. And there is little assurance that you will always be able to link to (or even find) something you have written. For a quick aside, this is fine – but for a carefully-written essay, not so much. 

The objection could be raised that is the same way, on a longer time-scale – and that is true. Hence downloading backups. If necessary, I can go back to running my own WordPress blog, but I’m just as happy to let them take care of system patches, etc. I do enough system maintenance at work, thank you.

Thanks for visiting and reading! I hope you’ll visit again, and look for me on G+ and Twitter.