Happy Forthward!

Posted on July 04 2018

Happy Forthward!
In the Rivendell forum, a response to the BLAHG post before this one, a forum-member thanked me for dividing us, because I wrote about the children-being-separated-from-parents thing going on down there in Texas, and the arguments seemed to boil down to whether it was a human rights or legal matter, and then things got hot. That is not horrible. The posts you disagree with are irritating, and the ones that agree with you are affirming. When you're affirmed you feel smart, and when you're irritated you feel righteous indignation, which sound bad but feels good.
If people talked only to like-minded people about the things they agree on, the number of groups would keep growing, and the number of people in any of those groups would keep shrinking, and there would be more hard divisions between groups. You don't have to look too far to see that in bicycles--triathletes, recumbents, randos, retros, racers, clickers, toe-clippers, shavers, electros.
Nothing in here is controversial, and if the question comes up, "...but is it the right FORUM for this kind of talk?" Am I worried about hurting business because of my political views? Definitely slightly, yes, for sure.
Here is a chance to "vote with your purchases or lack of them." To be clear:
In the last election I wanted Bernie, would've been OK with Hillary, but would like to see Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Cory Booker in 2020. That doesn't mean that your purchases here support their campaigns or causes (they don't). I hope all the qualified Democrats don't attack one another during the campaigns.
I'll probably vote for the one who's least attackish, because it shows strength to not do that when it's being done to you, don't you think? Plus, it just seems nicer. If they're all in the ballpark, why not vote for the stronger nicer one?
And all else equal, I'd probably give my vote to a non-white guy first. Although I like Joe Biden and wish he had run in 2016, I imagine he didn't want to debate a friend or block history, but Hillary lost the electoral college, anyway.
I want somebody other than an ex-president on the next $20 bill. No slave owners, even if that was the norm back then.
Actually, I'd be all for starting with a clean slate for all coins and paper money, and going full-diverse, and let's change it up every ten years. Keep money fun! When I was a kid I had an all-copper Australian penny. It was as big as a fifty-cent piece and had a kangaroo on it. That's what I'm talking about. Fun money again. Throw in a frog or a triceratops. Put Pooh on a coin. The tails side could have Pooh stuck in Rabbit's front door after he'd eaten too much honey. You might remember that Rabbit then used Pooh's legs to hang his wet laundry on, because they were there and sticking out and doing nothing else while Pooh's tummy went down enough for him to slip thru.
J.R.R. Tolkien should get a coin, too. Put Poe on a coin and a raven on the other side. (A coin for Pooh, a coin for Poe!) Put Tecumseh on one, for sure, and Sitting Bull and Geronimo. It's clear that I belong on the small committee of coin designers, ha. Helen Keller wasn't just blind. She was amazing way beyond that,so she gets one. Stephen Hawking.
Speaking of Tecumseh...I feel some shame for the immigration motives of my more recent light-skinned European relatives than those of my less recent, tanner ones from Africa. Sneaking in peacefully and with no weapons beats barging in with guns, germs, and steel and slaughtering the underly armed natives.
Is it even controversial that the Native Americans got rooked?
Like many of you, not all of you, I suspect that wars are related to land grabs, crimes are related to turf grabs, and pollution is related to resources grabs and money that can be made on them ... and are all made worse by overpopulation. 
That's hard to argue. We fight over dwindling resources, just like we fought over them when they were abundant. We fight over resources, period, but when they are dwindling, we fight over them more, and with more ferocious weapons.
It seems inconsistent to vote for candidates who are at the same time against both reproductive rights that can slow population growth, and also against social programs and the environment.
Jobs matter, of course, but don't go into a field where success means hurting the environment.

What about Drones? They are legal I'm for them being legal, but in time do you really think they won't be used in local wars, armed with special drone-guns made to shoot special drone-bullets? Can you really, honestly, not see that happening?

Because if drones are legal and all kinds of guns are legal, you can "rest assured" that people will use two legal things in an illegal way, because drone anonymity enables that.

I don't want to be 88 in 24+ years and feel like I wimped out. Do any of you?
I want to move with some intensity, even if slowly, but no wavering or hesitation, toward things that matter to me. I want to say things that I think and care about.
(I know I'm a slob with no credentials to talk about anything except Q-Factor and beausage, but it's still something I want to do.)

Related to that, more race stuff from an Unracer: Bicycling has never been friendly or even especially welcoming to people who aren't white guys. If you ride a bike, it's good to know this, so you don't just automatically think black people, for instance, don't like to ride bikes...because, hmm...must be something in their culture.

In the 1870s thru 1890s bikes cost $130, and a well-employed white person (same as "well-employed person") made about $650 per year. It was a rare black person  who could afford a bicycle. (As my gay brother-in-law has said a few times, but probably didn't make up: "For blacks, women, and gays, there were no 'good old days.'" What if you were two of those, or three? Holy cow. The high point of your life would be an ice cream cone on a hot day, and that's not enough.

There's been progress, but not nearly enough.

 

Recreational bike riding wouldn't work for struggling laborers, too poor to buy calories, who would opt to spend their non-existent free time burning up calories unnecessarily on an optional strenuous (and calorie-burning) bicycle ride.

Black people did get into bikes, finally, in the early to mid-1890s, when bikes got better every year and white people sold their fancy bikes cheap so they could get their new version of the iPhone. They'd sell their not-too-old bike for as little as $10, and that was the price black people could afford. But when black people started riding, white people didn't like it because having black riders lowered the prestige of their sport. It made is less class-less.
The League of American Wheelman banned black riders from membership in 1894, but to its credit, rescinded that in 1999. The dates are right, I'm not off by a century. It was an oversight, the current leadership of the LAB ("bicyclists" and not "wheelmen" now) has acknowledged and apologized for sins that weren't theirs directly, and at this point it's a cheap shot to jump on and scold them for that old bad stuff. It makes no more sense to blame the current LAB for the actions of the 1894 LAB than it does to blame you because your great or great-great grandfather described black people the wrong way, or may have been pro-Jim Crow.
But as a bicycle rider of any color, it ought to be part of your overall perspective of our sport.

Then in the 1900s cars came, and white bicyclists gave up the bike by the hundreds of thousands. NEW bike prices came down to $15 (in 1910), because they were cheapened enough to do that and then marketed to kids, whose parents, they knew, wouldn't spend 3 months take-home on a bike for Billy IV. For the first time, black people could afford new bikes, but it was still the wrong time, and this time, too late. They still had the hard, crappy jobs that made optional exercise unappealing, and then there was the stigma of riding bikes marketed to white children. No wonder they didn't take up cycling by the thousands. Few adults of any color rode bikes from 1900 to 1975. Fewer most of all, black people (and brown...).

In 2018 there are 4,000+ independent bicycle shops in the country, and a full 16 are owned by African Americans. Today, recreational bike riding and certainly racing requires resources like money and access to nice areas to ride, and is helped along by having a keyboard-tapping job--which gives you time during the week to build up the urge for rebalancing on the weekend with some vigorousness.
And recreational, optional, riding for fun and exercise is way easier when you live in the 'spensive 'burbs that are next to open roads, open spaces, parks and stuff. If you have a five-to-ten mile border of inner city between you and freeway frontage road, good luck.
Obviously that's true regardless of color, but white people have scored more than their share of those jobs, and more recent generations have benefited from significant inheritances that other people haven't. I inherited $50K when my dad died (I wrote about that in a 1997 Rivendell Reader), and it got me a down payment on a house that's now worth $800K, and my mortgage is $1,050. I've stayed relatively poor by putting two daughters through pvt school including pvt college and am still paying off their loans...so they're benefiting from their white-history, too.
My dad worked hard and earned it, but he wasn't held back, because he was white. He was able to go to college for engineering. I remember looking at his college yearbook, and in one part there beneath the headshots it listed what each student was known for. Under his photo, it said: BACKTALK.
I saw that when I was about 8 and it was a little unnerving. I asked whaddup with that, daddy? and never got a good answer, but I remember he chuckled. He was always super polite, but yearbooks don't lie, do they?
Back to the story: My daughters (who do NOT want to own Rivendell someday!) are going to do OK. They've both worked hard in school, but white privilege made it easier. I didn't earn it, they didn't earn it, but they had some costly education and got tutors when they needed them. They had time and a quiet space to study—two things that aren't guaranteed by white privilege, but make it easier. They grew up  in a house where school and studies and discussions about what did you learn today and did you read this newspaper story were part of the dinner conversation. That is easier to practice with privilege, peace, and enough money to be home in the evening, not working. They deserved all they got, but were born into a life that allowed it.
How am I doing so far? Is this divisive? Is anything here scary or controversial?
There's divisive in the sense of driving an unnecessary wedge in there, which I'm not doing, and divisive in the sense of giving people an opportunity to take a stand publicly or privately on issues from multiple top tubes to reproductive rights to use of shower rights...reparations...affirmative action... these potentially "divisive" issues give us the opportunity to speak out or lay low and to show how well we can get along with people who aren't like us.
I think evolution should be taught in schools, because knowing that physiological differences in races or ethnic groups or whatever are adaptations to environments can help you look at "others" with fascination, not fear. You get a long nose for warming cold air and a broad short one for inhaling hot air, and more or less melanin depending on how sunny it is. Languages evolve on a much finer grid, so some New Yorkers say (as my dad said) "worter" instead of "water" the way we accentless Northern Californians do. So teach linguistics, too--early on, in elementary schools, too.
I have tried to contact several African-American cycling organizations--clubs, workshops, commercial businesses. Mostly, no response. I don't take it personally (or professionally). I don't know what's on the other end there--how diligently the websites are administered, for one thing.
But there was one group, a local one, that I was really happy to hear from. You'll hear about 'em sometime. You'll be asked to give, I think. Maybe, maybe not. If Rivendell supports a group of generally not rich, learning/rookie cyclists who are LBGTQ, is that controversial? I would be ashamed to not, now that we know who and how and where and all.
I'm against—and I believe everybody who works here is against—offshore drilling, although in an accidental big way that contributed to the resurrection of bicycles in the '70s. Still, I'm against it. Dams, too. Take 'em down. OK, not all of them, but can we start with Hetch Hetchy and see how that works? There are other ways for San Franciscans to get good water. More on that in another lifetime, but people deep in the know know how now.
I am kind of against pro football, too. Make it flag, not tackle. And as always, spelling bees, which are totally unfair, because to make a spectacle of it, to titillate the audience, the contestants don't all spell the same words. Armando gets "scintillating," and Praanji gets "sillohuette." I can't even spell that. Silohuette. Argh. It means "little silo"?
And, while we're wiping the slate clean on everything, have an NBA league for players under 6-1, too. Or maybe 6-3 so Steph can play, ha. Don't hold the next soccer world cup in Qatar. Why not? Here's why not.
Seriously, click on that Qatar link.
Also: Make the NFL pay all college football scholarships and costs and coach's salaries, since colleges serve at minor leagues for the NFL, anyway, and then more normal students could get aid. Or just have a Minors, like baseball does. Stop the ruse, pick a path. And, as I've said many times, make pro bike racers ride one bike per race, even one per Tour de France, even one frame per season and make them perform their own in-race mechanics. Let's see how bike gear would evolve in those conditions.
Happy Fourth and sally on! I'm leaving for a ride now, on my recently re-geared CLEM L 59. My goal is to memorize the last two verses of Ulalume while on the ride, and I have them all written-out and in the map case now.
Grant
back now, memorized

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