Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Bicycles on Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge

This picture was taken about 1/2 mile from the bicycle racks outside building #5 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT racks were festooned with hundreds of student's bicycles, almost all of which were mountain bikes: "sporty"-looking, knobby tires, no fenders, no integral lights or cargo-carrying equipment. These are the typical city bicycles one finds in an American city or college campus, and yet their owners would be better served by a purpose-built utility bike, such as the Biria TC Top-3 below.

Why am I posting all of these bike pictures? Cycling has become much more popular in the United States in the last three decades. Yet, despite the racing-"bike boom" of the early 1970s and the mountain-bike wave of the 1980s, true utility bicycling has yet to catch on in the United States. Most bicycles are sold in the US without mudgards, racks, or generator lights, and few owners think to add these items afterwards. Recreational bicycling is relatively successful here, but many recreational users thing of the bike not as an everyday tool, but as a piece of specialty equipment to be donned for a episode of physical training, like a pair of skiis. American city bicyclists persist in carrying cargo in backpacks, using LED blinkers at night in lieu of headlights (or no lights at all), and riding in the rain without fenders. It is as if one decided to go grocery shopping using a VW sandrail instead of a Honda Civic.

In short, I hope to attract some attention to the idea of using roadsters, city bikes, and utility bicycles for everyday trips. They are nice to look at as well. Posted by Hello


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A dirty bomb is clearly the way to go, the only question is where and how to deliver it. If I were an Islamic radical and had strategic goals similar to those of Al Qaeda, I'd probably load the bomb into a container (just like the one featured in "How Much Is Inside?") and send it to Houston. Houston Ship Channel is one of the busiest ports in the country, so the odds against that container being inspected seem pretty low, given the Bush Administration's refusal to fund such inspections. The docks closest to the city center are just a few miles from downtown, and a favorable wind would put millions of people at risk. The wind would have to come from the southeast, not a very common direction, so if there's some way to offload the container but have it stored at the dock until the weather is right and it could be denotated by remote control, that would be helpful. . . I don't know how storage works there, but it seems like a possibility worth investigating.

Why Houston instead of New York or LA, which also have a lot of shipping? First of all, let's keep in mind that Islamic extremists are not "Suicidal Maniacs" nor do they "Hate Freedom." They are calculating warriors who want to send powerful, focused messages through their actions. Killing lots of innocent people is just the best way to guarantee the attention of a decadent and ignorant nation like the United States. The WTC was a well-chosen first target because it symbolizes US corporate greed and economic imperial ambition. New York may have also been a target because it has a large Jewish population and identity. Los Angeles would therefore be a good target as well, because it symbolizes American cultural influence, which is as widespread and despised as its economic power.

But I think Houston would be a better target than New York or LA, because although it usually votes Democratic, it is located in one of the reddest of the "Red States." People in New York and LA are already against Bush, and in general they tend to favor humanitarian foreign policy and use of the military, rather than wars motivated by economics or power. Although they may sympathize with Israelis, they may also care about Palestinians and are likely to consider terms favorable to Muslims in Middle East negotiations.

Most Texans, of course, are another story. They could care less the rights of Palestinian or any other Muslims, and have "Don't Mess With Texas" bumper stickers that show their arrogant and aggressive cultural inclination. Smiting the center of this cowboy culture would be a different kind of attack, designed to undermine an icon of Manifest Destiny and make the heartland as a whole appear vulnerable. People in Indiana or Utah don't identify with people on the east or west coasts, but they would feel threatened if a couple of million Texans were killed or affected by high levels of radiation.

Houston is also the center of the national energy industry, so this would be an attack on the oil companies as well, which are the only reason the US government cares about the Middle East in the first place. And as a bonus, George "41" Bush lives there a good part of the year, so a lucky shot on just the right day might get him as well. Dude, if I were in Al Qaeda, this is TOTALLY what I would do.

November 08, 2004 4:01 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

I know it's you.

November 10, 2004 10:29 AM  

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