“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” – The US Declaration of Independence
Archive for the 'News Commentary' Category
These are the kind of people I look forward to watching go down when the revolution comes.
So a little while back in a spur of adding cool bikey blogs to my current reading, I added the Bike Commute Tips blog. Ironically, in the past few days, I have yet to find any tips to apply to my commute. But I’m not disappointed in the least. There have been many, many posts highlighting the shift that is taking place away from the car. It seems that at least once a day if not more, I’m seeing inspiring, encouraging articles from all over the US about yet another city that is making the shift away from cars. Today was a fantastic profile of a nonagenarian who still rides his 56 year old bike.
For his 80th birthday he rode to Oxnard, Calif.–some 380 miles. For his 90th birthday he went for a 40-mile bike ride to Friant Dam and back. He hasn’t made plans yet for his next birthday bicycle ride in October, but Friant is in the running because he likes to have lunch at the Dam Diner…His typical out-and-about ride is 14 miles.
How inspiring. Not only inspiring for the fact that he’s still riding like crazy at his age, but also for the fact that he’s still riding the same bike after all these years. I need to take a lesson from him, having already purchased two bikes and drooled and fantasized over countless others.
Thanks to Paul Dorn for a great blog!
None of this article is really particularly newsworthy. It doesn’t really tell me anything I can’t really see just looking on the street. However, it is all made worth it by this quote.
As noted in a 2004 New Yorker examination of SUV’s inferior safety record compared to minivans and even sports cars, Malcolm Gladwell cited the work of SUV aficionado Keith Bradsher, author of High and Mighty, who summarized the focus groups he attended as identifying the typical SUV buyer as “insecure, vain, self-centred and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills.”
You mean I was right in my stereotyping?
This may be the stupidest example of security gone wrong that I’ve seen yet.
This may be the saddest news I’ve read in a long time. Sad in what it says about humanity more than anything.
A woman has been catching a lot of flack, as well as a fair bit of praise for letting her 9-year-old ride the subway alone. It’s an interesting article and made me ask myself if I would let Paul do the same himself. After all, he is going to be 10 this August
My animal instinct is to say “Absolutely not” for many of the reasons that Ms. Skenazy says others have cited. Abductions and traffic being big ones. But then I think that really to some degree there is risk in being a child – or for being alive. (Sage’s mom wrote a song that starts “Life’s a Dangerous Business…Everyone who goes into it dies” – somewhat appropriate). As a parent the trick, I think, is to assess the risks and see just how reasonable they are. I think my parents could have made just as paranoid a case for my not wandering the woods by myself as a kid. Had they known what I was doing they could have worried about slipping on slippery rocks in the creek and hitting my head/drowning, falling from cliffs or into caves, setting myself (and the forest) on fire or falling from a tree. Any of those could have resulted in my demise.
Now the reality is that I don’t think Paul feels that he’s ready. He’s a fairly cautious kid and while he eventually gets around to ‘risky independence’ (it took a while, for example, for him to be up for being left at a friends house), it doesn’t come as early or as insistently as it did for the kid who rode the subway. However, he is a bit more bold with his friends. And really, after talking to Sage, I think that is the way we’d handle it – we wouldn’t send him out on his own but instead with one of his friends. Yes, sometimes 2 kids can get themselves into more trouble than one. On the other hand, 2 heads are also better than one. And there isn’t the feeling that you’re completely alone in a tough situation.
I have been having the same thoughts about Paul cycling in Toronto. Riding together in Bells on Bloor I realized how nice it would be for us to be able to go places together by bike. Heck, that day even we used the bike lanes to go from Queens Park down to Queen Street for lunch. However, while we have another friend who routinely cycled much of the length of Queen Street with her 2 sons (one Paul’s age, one about a year younger), I found the whole experience extremely stressful. So for the moment I have decided that cycling on the street together isn’t for us just yet. We’re lucky in that we’re near a dedicated multi-use trail that connects to several others so we can easily go for long rides or even to useful places like the Beaches library or Queen East without spending time on the streets. But Paul’s getting older, and I think a day will come when he wants to.
So my plan for Paul’s initiation into cycling for transportation in Toronto is to get him into a CAN-BIKE program this summer to help him gain some of the basic skills, maybe ride some quiet residential streets and practice riding in general to make sure he’s very comfortable on his bike. I think I will also try to include cycling wherever practical. For example, cycling off-road as far as we can to where we’re trying to go and then taking the TTC instead of just grabbing the bus outside the apartment. I also intend to take him to a Critical Mass ride or two this summer as there’s nothing like being in the middle of 300 cyclists to keep you safe on Toronto streets.
I know I have a few Toronto cyclists reading here though I’m not sure if any are parents. How have you handled this?
Earth Hour is at 8PM tonight and I think it is a great idea. However, I have to say that I feel very cynical about it. Sure, in the short term it is good and raises awareness but really to me it smacks of the sort of empty no-discomfort sort of gesture that middle class north americans love. At 9PM, everyone’s going to turn their lights on and many will head out the next morning in the SUV to work, stop and buy a bunch of crap they don’t need at Wal Mart on the way home and toss the packaging in the recycle bin (forgetting completely about “Reduce” and “Reuse” which actually come before the less-effective “Recycle”.
And meanwhile, our media and advertising are marketing the western lifestyle around the world selling more cars and more crap that people don’t need to people who lived without it happily before and from whom perhaps we could learn a bit about conservation.
Maybe if it were “Earth Week” or “Four earth hours/day” I’d be more impressed.
Yesterday I came across an article on blog.to talking about the banning of plastic bags in China and wondering if it couldn’t be done here in Ontario or at least Toronto. I have to say, overall, the comments thread has been very disappointing.
What I see most of all are representatives of an attitude that seems to be epidemic in North America. Excuse-making for why a person (or government) is not doing something that could potentially help the environment. Here are some examples of general ideas I’ve seen:
“Why should we do ‘x’ – it is just too hard! Nobody will do it.” Whether someone is talking about reducing emissions, eliminating plastic bags or switching from one’s personal car to transit or bike, this one is trotted out all the time. It’s a tired excuse and says more about the person giving it than anything. What other hard things don’t you want to do? Properly parent? Go to university? Get up early in the morning to go to work?
Another one that bugs me is simply denying that the problem exists. Whether it be climate change, litter, or environmental illness many people and even governments are prone to denying either the severity or the existence of the problem. My response: So what? What’s the worst that happens if you implement it? Quality of life improves one way or another. Reduce the number of cars in the city of Toronto and you can expect smog to improve, and traffic to improve for people on bikes and travelling via transit. Take steps to reduce carbon and other emissions by reducing use of cars and electricity or by choosing alternative energy and if the climate isn’t really changing then big deal – we’ve reduced other emissions, made our petroleum supplies last a bit longer and are better prepared for the eventual point when we actually are far enough into peak oil that it really isn’t feasible to drive everywhere in our gas-powered cars.
There’s also the camp of “So what if I stop, everyone else is going to keep doing it.” This has been trotted out by governments to support their not signing on to Kyoto and by individuals as well. Why should I inconvenience myself with reusable bags when people will just keep using them and I’ll be the only one inconvenienced. Get over it, everyone gets inconvenienced sometimes, maybe it’s your turn for a change.
Annoying also are those who point out “bigger” problems. Why deal with plastic bags which are only a small piece of the trash – start with cups and cigarette butts. They’re the real problem! I’ve got an idea: Deal with those problems also.
Perhaps the most annoying are apologists such as Beth Maher in the linked article who simply state “If it’s hard and I have to go out of my way to do it, I probably won’t do it. I’m lazy.” Again, as I said above, get over it. There are hard things you have to do in one’s life, deal with it. The value of doing something is not dictated by how high the fun to difficulty ratio is.
Which is not to say that I haven’t, and am still not falling into some if not all of the above traps. There are days when I think it is too hard and not very fun to cycle to work in the rain and I take transit. There are days when I think a bowl of Vietnamese beef noodle soup sounds too good to pass up. But can we at least, as a society, at least agree on a positive direction to move in and actually do it more than we avoid doing it and quit kidding ourselves with excuses as to why it isn’t our problem and start doing things because they’re the right thing to do and not because they’re fun and all our friends are doing them?
Looks like we’re not just bringing “Freedom” to Iraq. Want to help the so-called “War on Terror”? Get these folks out of Iraq now. Let’s see – we’re killing tens of thousands of innocent people, practising imperialism (in action if not in name), and attacking the spiritual and cultural way of life for an entire nation. It isn’t difficult to see why people are upset As long as the US and its government supports these people we are making enemies left and right. Let’s hope that in November we get a government that understands this.