July 23 Time Sink: Jesus Christ Superstar, Paul Simon, Muhammad Ali and President Carter, trains, rear derailers, James Baldwin


 

That up there is a pedal enlarger MKS is working on. This is a 3D printed plastic one. Watch for the real ones in a year. For people with really wide feet, or whose feet like to roam. 

PENCIL, uh-oh.

If the PENCIL (race-related stuff) bums you out, skip it. I flag it so it'll be easy.  Scroll down to below the the black-and-white photo of Ali. There's tons of normal stuff in here. Well, that's not exactly right, but the point is, it's free, it's my mental dump, and I get to do whatever I want to here. My brain requires it, and nobody has to read it. OK, let's dig in:

Interesting story about a white woman whose relatives had something to do with slavery

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IN THE JULY 8 ISSUE, NYT columnist Gail Collins wrote about worst presidents, and best ones, and if you want to read the whole 600-word (?) column, it's HERE. But if you just want a snippet, see here:

Of course, Abraham Lincoln came in first. Lincoln almost always wins. After that, reservations begin to rise. George Washington came next, as usual, but you can’t ignore the slave-owning. Then it’s Franklin Roosevelt (depends on how much you like the federal government) and Theodore Roosevelt (depends on how much you like imperialism).

Feel free to carp. For instance, I have always really disliked Thomas Jefferson. (Yeah, yeah, I know, Declaration of Independence.) But personally — well, let me summarize by quoting a letter he wrote to a very well-read patriot named Angelica Church, who had asked his opinion about some important development: “The tender breasts of ladies were not formed for political convulsion.”

 And just one more. Here’s a letter he wrote to his devoted daughter: “Remember … not to go out without your bonnet because it will make you very ugly and then we should not love you so much.”

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I was sitting around the breakfast table this morning thinking about the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. It made me uncomfortable when it came out, because it seems to be questioning or making fun of something that up to that time and for years after, I thought was sacred or sacrosanct or sacrilegious (which should be spelled sacreligious). I married a minister's daughter and I asked her what she thought of JCS, and she, b. 1958, grew up listening to 99 percent classical, she said her family bought the album and played it a lot, which surprised me. I wanted to hear it and listen to it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvVr2uks0C8

Here are the words, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and a guy named T. Rice:

Ev'ry time I look at you
I don't understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand
You'd have managed better
If you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?
If you'd come today
You could have reached a whole nation
Israell in 4 BC
Had no mass communication
Don't you get me wrong
(Don't you get me wrong, now)
Don't you get me wrong
(Don't you get me wrong)
Don't you get me wrong
(Don't you get me wrong, now)
Don't you get me wrong
Only want to know
(Only want to know, now)
Only want to know
(Only want to know)
Only want to know
(Only want to know, now)
Only want to know
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Tell me what you think
About your friends at the top
Now who d'you think besides yourself
Was the pick of the crop?
Buddah was he where it's at?
Is he where you are?
Could Mahomet move a mountain
Or was that just PR?
Did you mean to die like that?
Was that a mistake or
Did you know your messy death
Would be a record breaker?
Don't you get me wrong
(Don't you get me wrong, now)
Don't you get me wrong
(Don't you get me wrong)
Don't you get me wrong
(Don't you get me wrong, now)
Don't you get me wrong
Only want to know
(Only want to know, now)
Only want to know
(Only want to know)
Only want to know
(Only want to know, now)
Only want to know
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Jesus Christ
Superstar
Do you think you're what they say you are?
Why "Mahomet"? Same as Mohammed? Why the funny spelling? It just throws me off some.

The costumes were an early '70s reaction to the '50s, which were discombobulated by all the stuff in the '60s. 

Here is a related photograph, with the caption (in bold italic) that came with it:

President Jimmy Carter greets Muhammad Ali at a White House dinner celebrating the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty, Washington, D.C. To the left is the wife of Ali, Veronica Porché Ali, then expecting the birth of their first child together, Laila Ali.

I wonder who the guy on Ali's shoulder is and who the guy in the tie between President Carter and Ali is. I wonder whether the two mystery men have a copy of this photo, maybe even displayed. But here's something you didn't know. Veronica Porche-Ali, Muhammad's first wife, later married Carl Anderson, the Judas character you just saw singing that main JCS song. In the early courtship, how did that come up, and what did Carl think of it?

I don't think JCS would be allowed today. Something or many things about it would be attacked. I am slightly nervous that my mentioning it will lead to some kind of ugliness. That's how things are. People read stuff into stuff they shouldn't read anything into. 

PENCIL

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 Julio is a month and a name.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVdlpZ4M-Hw

This is another fascinating, interesting, song I like that used to make me uncomfortable.  Like, was it autobiographical, and what where they doing? Was it a confession?  I don't care and there's nothing to try to figure out, but I always thought it was kind of out of the blue for Paul Simon. Is there a Julio alive today who goes around saying, "yeah that was me, what of it?"

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Here's a friend trying to ride up something that's harder than it seems to be from this camera angle. He's on a Gus, and no bodies were injured in the attempt. Two tries.

https://vimeo.com/573209167

https://vimeo.com/573208566

I'm not showing it like a pratfall or something funny or gross. If he'd gotten hurt I wouldn't show it. Not everything is ridable. He thinks he'll get it one of these days, and he might, but some bumpy steep stuff is just better to walk. I will never make it up this. I wonder whether anybody has. Probably a BMX'er with a tiny bike could hop up it gymnastic-stye, but that's using the bike as something else. Just pedaling is a different thing.

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 Some of you know we've been working on a rear derailer for a while. It's not all-consuming. In the brains dept, our role in it is minimal. 

Shimano's best designed rear derailers are the RapidRise failures of the early '90s and ten years later, two tries and flops must have been frustrating for them when they knew this is the way to go and to have the market reject them both times. The first time was bad enough, in the early '90s. Then they gave them a rest for a decade before trying again. People rejected them as confusing new technology nobody asked for that required them to learn new habits and would lead to confusion and chaos and lost races OR SOMETHING. racers didn't like it, mechanics never like to have to learn anything new. bike salespeople HATE to have to explain anything. And Shimano was so on top of the world back then that this seemed like an opportunity to call them stupid and bring them down a notch to earth with the rest of us.

I was one of those guys both times. By my own low standards I've been right  (publicly, at least) more than I've been wrong--I could list about seven things, wrong things I've said in print and in person when I was sure I was right, and it had an effect beyond me, in whatever influence I had, or something. But I was most wrong about RapidRise rear derailers.

I spent $195 on a new shortcage XT. It was RIV money on that one, not my own. I think Will has it now, for a...maybe for his Platypus. 

Anyway, if Shimano would remake them we wouldn't have to, but Shimano doesn't want a third strike, and is on a different path that ultimately will eliminate all derailers, which I think they and many others see as gangly low-tech things that keep bicycles in the dark ages.  

Here's a pre-prototype aplastic 3D printed and spray-painted silver parallelogram in action. We're moving forward, but it might not happen. Don't expect a fancy revelation, it's only 7 seconds:

https://vimeo.com/573190880

 There is now a 65 percent chance it'll happen within four years, and it will hurt our bottom line more than it will help it. We're not in a position where it's smart for us to lose money, but we may break even on it, probably not but maybe.

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 We got a high-wheeler a few years back b/c I though it'd be neat, a good experience for everybody here, but not an essential one, to ride this kind of bike. We bought it for $1,200 at the time, sold it for $250 at a garage sale, and if you're the guy who bought it and you wish you hadn't, I'd buy it back for, howzabout $1,000 in store credit?  Or I'll rent it for $150 credit if we can borrow it for a month. We won't wreck it, but you'd have to pick it up and deliver it. Bummer. Because we have some new guys here who haven't done it. Anyway, they're still made HERE, which is about 20 miles west and a big south of us. 

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Everything manual becomes automated.

This is obvious, but usually it's insidious, which doesn't mean nasty and evil, it means not obvious and kind of sneaky while you're sitting there applauding or not paying particular attention. Take bone needles and fish hooks, for instance. When the Americans were expanding their empires through Indian/Indigenous lands, the chummed up to them with, besides tobacco that wasn't willow bark and real alcohol, steel needles and fish hooks. The next generation didn't know how to make bone ones of either, bone ones of either, bone needles or fish hooks, because they'd become dependent on the white man's technology.

No doubt they thought it was progress. You just have to be careful about what you call progress, because businesses and manufactures and the media and new bicycle riders call every change progress.

It's hard to resist when the change makes something easier or more accurate. But you have to look at what's being fixed. A change in a way to look inside the body to find a broken bone, an obstructed colon, or a tumor is progress.

A shift lever that makes it unnecessary to learn an easily learned skill that brings you more in touch with the bike by making it clear that you shift a bicycle with your feet in the same sense, if not exactly the same way that you shift a car or motorcycle with your feet, is a lesser kind of progress, because it makes you dependent on a mysterious unfixable hidden mechanism covered with plastic.

It is not as evil as making the tribes dependent on steel needles and the U.S. goverment trading postsand the army's trading post that had them and bread and seeds so they didn't have to hunt buffalos, but still.

Matches made it unnecessary to start fires with rocks and tinder or sticks, something people have done for about two million years. That doesn't mean matches weren't progress, just that we've all been needled and fishhooked. Zippo-style lighters work on the same principle as flint-and-tinder, but, oh where am I going with this? It must be about shift levers, which came out of derailers. You just have to pick your progress and be aware of what it takes away. Most of the time it's probably worth it, but not all the time.

  

Friend Dan took this picture near his house, in a tree. There were five Cooper's Hawks there, they're about 16 inches tall or something, and this one was eating another bird, probably not its young, we all hope. 

Two more, different birds:

Dan's a former pro photographer and I can't do this. 

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Same issue:

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emK-qIbuJ-k

Then there was the Gossamer Albatross, a really good name.

 

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Me at almost 20, within days of June 17, 1973. Hat Creek, CA.  Yes, I let it go.

I think this is 1974. I know it's in the middle of Nevada on the way to Provo, UT. Two friends and I with full backpacks couldn't get a ride (hitch-hiking) out of Reno, so we got on a night-time freight train*, and it stopped mid-day, long enough for this snapshot. I'm not bragging about a hobo-life, I'm just saying I found this photo in a draw while I was looking for something else, and I shot it with my iPhone, same as the other one up there.

 

* TMI warning: Three guys with full backpacks make it hard to hitchhike, but one guy picked us up and was driving to Sparks, to a brothel. He let us off there, it was night, so we laid out our sleeping bags and settled down, thinking about the cyclone fence and the buildings. The guy on the tracks next to me in the photo there, he was always singing old songs and Dylan songs, and he was singing House of the Rising Sun (not a Dylan-written son, but Bob sang it on his first album.) He said "we should go to the House of the Rising Sun in the morning, just like the song. So we did, and that was both of ours first time. The photographer had a girlfriend, he was experienced. We got the train as it creeped along through Sparks. Or maybe we went back to Reno to get it. I remember getting on it, anyway.

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ULTRA PENCIL,

The following five links are all about race-ish stuff. I'm a huge James Baldwin fan. I like his facial expressions as he talks, how he's always the smartest guy in the room, his frustration, his message, all of it. The only non-James Baldwin thing is the first one, the ten-minuter. You've been warned, so if you hate the race stuff, just don't click. You're paying nothing for this.

about 10 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZfcc21c6Uo

JB and LM:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAMWsWvcbtg

James Baldwin interview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jXwWCyMJyc

Cornell West on him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2kH6kSY6ps

 on Dick Cavett
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y6xwH88kpg&t=32s

 

---- that's all for James Baldwin, tho two more pencil-type things, these pertaining to bicycles, too, tho:

 Rubber supply

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_9XvHBb3nw

Congo thing, also rubber supply

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48533964

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Remember ol' Bobby Sherman? 

Somehow he went from this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW90tW-a_5c

to dis:

https://www.bbscfoundation.org/aboutus

 

 END OF PENCIL

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Scott-next-door's latest car parts sculpture. Will's photo. ------

Here's something that works great but may flop. The UNIPENDER.

Rear view of unipender. Materials for them are on the way. We'll either make them here, farm them out to a high school kid to make, or sell them cheap and include (with the materials) instructions. No sewing required.

 

 Front view. Ignore the feet, my toes are clean as a whistle, but this was after a dirt ride...I hope).

These is a prototype UNIPENDER. It always bugged me, even when I was seven, that people'd add a different prefix to a word as though the original word's first part or prefix was some kind of parallel to the second. Like going from SUS to UNI. And yet, here I am, getting in that groove. Anyway, I've made and used unipenders before, always liked them, and I sewed them onto my knickers (American, not British style knickers).

a = auxiliary thumb loop

b= my own genuine worry wart. You didn't know a worry wart was a real thing, did you? Or you thought it was a wart that came from worrying and was physiologically like any other wart?

Not in this case. It's where I bite my knuckle when I'm concentrating or nervous. It's a bulging, shameful callous. I'm going to stop doing that.

c= prototype knickers. We're still arguing over the pattern. We have the fabric, it's Berry-compliant (MUSA, too) nylon with 6 percent spandex. These have never been good sellers, but they are probably our most desired MUSA garment ever if measured by the intensity of love for them expressed by those who own them. I expect many orders of two, I expect we'll sell out in a week, so jesus christ superstar, order up when we get them in, and that'll be in about two months if we're blessed. Hoping for September 30.

 Related to unipenders, not knickers: I have a history of foisting oddball things I super-dig onto our menu of offerings, and sometimes functional powerhouses are commercial flops. For instance:

Windshield: An easy on-off windbreaker for ye olde cheste. It was cheap, maybe $15. I made my first one in the late '80s and used it on tons of cold Bstone commutes--a 26-mile ride one way, by the way. I improved it for prime time here, but it was an all-time top five worst seller.

 Shin-shields: For wearing with bike ponchos. Prevented soaked shins. Another cheap, easy, ultra-function accessory that flopped.

Half-mitts: Palmless easy on and off mittens with a wrist-loop. Quick access to keys, wallet, transit cars, whatever, without taking off your mittens. You could ride and eject your hands from them and not have to stuff them anywhere, because of the wrist loops. You could wear them with fingerless or full-finger gloves, or bare-handed (other than the half-mitts). Super smart, functional, and cheap, but too weird for most tastes.

Add-a-thumb: Some whiners squawked about cold thumbs (a healthy squawk!), so we made separate add-a-thumbs complete with their own wrist-loop. Future Half-mitts came with a built-in thumb:

I'm not showing these flops out of false humility. They are all super duper THINGS that are just a little too unusual for rock-solid commerce. That's how things go. Short-flights rockets to the moon for whatever it costs, yes; shin-shields and half-mitts, nyet!

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It's a 3D print of part of our future Nobel Peace Prize-winning rear derailer. 

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I was on the NPR website ordering a book or something, and I saw, to my combo delight and horror, that they also sell these famous Chinese scissors:

We've had a lot of scissors talk here lately, and so I figured this fits. I got a pair. I know what you're wondering: Where are they famous and how much were they? I don't know, and three for $18. Considering the cancer and reproductive harm warning, I don't think they're worth it. Canscissors!

 Goncratulations, you made it. Next one shorter.

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