Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two Wheel Fever, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Asphalt

This is a bike that's similar to my old Cannondale, which as near as the factory can figure out was made in 1985. I picked it up for twelve dollars at a police auction and commenced to getting myself into shape a few years ago.

And thereby hangs a tale.

On the subject of tires, I had a nice pair of Mavic tires that I'd had since I got them in California in the late eighties. They looked great, but they were hard as solid oak.

One fine day I figured it was the day to attempt a thirty mile road trip, and off I went up the Neil Smith bike trail. At the fifteen mile mark I turned around, and on my way back I made a wrong turn and headed down a road that led to a rest area overlooking Saylorville Lake.

Not wanting to lose headway I decided to make a wide sweeping turn and head back out of the parking lot.

That's when I went across a crack in the asphalt about 2 inches across and those rock hard Mavics went out from under me. I remember thinking "This is going to hurt like hell." and then I hit the pavement. The helmet protected what otherwise would not have been an ear anymore.

I crawled across the ramp to that little tree to the left, propped myself up and took inventory. The fingers worked (good) but my right arm could not be raised (bad). I couldn't ride home, but I also didn't know where I was. I had a wash and a patch up with alcohol and gauze at the campground and walked down the hill across the field and parking lot and found a park ranger at the boar ramp. I phoned Judy and when she answered handed the phone to the ranger and said "tell this person how to come and get me."

A couple hours later I was getting patched up by Doctor Jeff, and I ended up with a broken scapula. A lot of pain pills and PT later I was ok. It was hell driving the pickup and changing gears.

There are a few important points to take away. First, new tires every year, even if they look good the rubber dries out and gets hard and you're without traction. Second, helmets are necessary. Third, a cell phone and a basic first aid kit plus a few hard candies in your under seat bag can make all the difference in what could be a bad day.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Is technology value neutral?

I've come to the conclusion that technology is not always value neutral.

It's only value neutral if you believe that a Glock is no different from a radio or a brick or a typewriter. The nature of the instrumentality and what it invites by its very nature controverts the 'value neutral' notion.

A typewriter can be used as a weapon but its primary purpose is to make a neat job of writing.

A brick can be a weapon but its primary purpose is to become part of a wall.

We've seen this during last summer's tea bag ragefest where one crank urged his adherents to hurl bricks through Democratic windows and presumably at Democrats themselves. Some of them did.

Here's what he said:

We can break their windows,Break them NOW. And if we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.

This demonstrates that bad intent is, in fact, in the mind of the user-but that doesn't divorce the object from the primary purpose.

A radio can be a weapon but its primary purpose is to inform, entertain and educate, so 'tis said-although I have problems with radio talk shows.

A Glock, on the other hand, has no purpose but to hurl a projectile downrange and hurt whatever gets in its way-that's what it does and that's why it exists. There is no other reason at all for its existence.

A guillotine has no purpose but to kill people. You can't re-purpose it as the word of the week has it.

There's an old saying: If you have a hammer, sooner or later everything starts to look like a nail.