Archive for the ‘Things that suck’ Category

Electric bus(t)

May 20, 2018

OK, so I’m just spitballing here, but what if we got these really long extension cords. …

Huh. “Problems plague push for electric buses.” Imagine my surprise. The phrase “One hand washes the other” was coined by some poor sap who discovered the hard way that giving a handjob with one mitt while grabbing a sheaf of greenbacks with the other can be a very messy business indeed.

Maybe some enterprising sort can just airdrop a shit-ton of Bird scooters on LA and Albuquerque. Save a bunch of money, create jobs for chargers, and give the locals a new reason to be shooting each other all the time.

Danger, Will Robinson

May 10, 2018

“Call Uber, see if they’ve got those flying cars up and running yet.
I’d like to get the hell out of here.”

Remember when Google’s motto used to be “Don’t be evil?”

Those were good times, hey? ’Scuse me, I need to take this call. Hi, Dr. Smith!

Asked for comment, Skynet-Palantír-Magic 8-Ball CEO Sauron DeGreate said, “Eye have no idea what you’re so excited about. That’s a joke, I say, that’s a joke, son! Say hello to Siri for me.”

Be Worst

May 8, 2018

Remember, kids, cutting and pasting other people’s work
is for bloggers only.

From Steve Benen at the Maddow Blog:

• Melania Trump’s “Be Best” blather was apparently another cut-and-paste job, liberating the content of a document released by the previous administration’s Federal Trade Commission in 2014. The writing, it is hard. I know, believe me, I know.

• While Ms. Trump was Being Best, her husband and his pals were being the other thing. Jeffy Bob Jimmie Joe Sessions plans to separate immigrant parents and children because, you know, “the best people,” etc., et al., and so on and so forth. The Big Orange Cheese, meanwhile, wants to slash more than $15 billion in previously approved spending, more than half of it to come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, because children can’t vote, buy real estate, or suck a golf ball through a garden hose.

• And finally, according to The New Yorker, Eric T. Schneiderman has resigned as New York attorney general to spend more time with his family and work on a memoir entitled, “Shut the Fuck Up And Get Me Another Drink, You Whore (Before I Slap You Again).”

Losing Face(book)

March 20, 2018

“No sir, I don’t like it.”

Mr. Horse was nobody’s fool. I bet he never signed up for a Facebook account. You may argue that this is because he’s a cartoon character, but then so is Il Douche, and he’s all over Twitter. There, I’ve run rings around you logically.

A status update from Mike Keefe at the Colorado Independent.

Over at Wired, Brian Barrett argues that Facebook “has been a poor steward of your data, asking more and more of you without giving you more in return — and often not even bothering to ask. It has repeatedly failed to keep up its side of the deal, and expressed precious little interest in making good.”

And at CNET, Sharon Profis goes a step further, recommending that users cash out of Mark Zuckerberg’s casino, and showing them how to do it.

I croaked my Facebook account some time back after not using it in a good long while, and I haven’t used Twitter since the new year began. Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn are likewise safely in the DogMobile’s rear-view mirror.

Some critics will sniff and observe that I’m simply antisocial, and what keen observers they are, too. But as Profis notes, there are plenty of other ways to stay in touch with friends (texting, email, chatting over a cup of coffee).

Why, you might even start a blog with all the free time you’ll suddenly be enjoying. Be sure to send us a link. No, not on Facebook.

• Late update: Want to erase yourself from the Internet? It ain’t easy, says Abby Ohlheiser.

• Even later update: At The Guardian, Arwa Mahdawi recommends deleting Facebook at the very least. “The recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica are an important wakeup call that we are all living with the sociopolitical consequences of surveillance capitalism. We are, I think, at a critical moment where the degree of corporate surveillance to which we are all subjected can either get much better, or much worse. So, I would urge you to extricate yourself from social media as much as you can.”

On my uppers

August 30, 2017

Duke City as seen from the Sandia foothills.

I piddled away a bunch of daylight early yesterday doing bits of this and that, and come 10 a.m. I was in the mood for the great outdoors but not quite sure how to approach it.

Finally I loaded a Gregory day pack, pulled on my old Vasque Clarion boots and went for a short hike in the Sandia foothills. I have some marching to do next month, at Interbike, and it never hurts to refresh the old muscle memory, especially old muscles and old memory.

Shoes for industry.

Wise choice, as it turns out. On the way home my decrepit hiking boots performed what Herself, a former outdoor-equipment retailer, called “a de-lam’.” Both soles basically crumbled and peeled away at the heels.

“Sonofabitch,” I observed. “I’ve only had these boots since the elves made them for that down-on-his-luck cobbler, and what a steal they were, too. Or was it Elvis? Anyway, curses, etc.”

So home I flapped, like a nattily dressed hobo. And now I get to buy some new boots. I feel happier than Carrie Bradshaw with a Manolo Blahnik catalog.

Kinda busy right now

August 9, 2017

The Acme® DIY Bomb Shelter.

Ice, ice, baby (redux)

July 7, 2017

Chillin’ back at the crib.

Ordinarily this space is reserved for displaying my irritation with the world at large. Today I highlight my own blithering idiocy.

I stuffed it into some trailside cholla on a loose, mildly technical singletrack descent yesterday, collecting a few jillion thorns in my left hand and spraining that wrist.

Naturally, I was riding a drop-bar bike on terrain better suited to flat bars and fat tires. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway.

The bike is fine; thanks for asking. But that left glove is a total loss.

Sticky fingers

June 22, 2017

A rose (grave not included).

The Senate’s Elefinks have released their double-secret “health care” bill, and it’s just about as bad as you might expect.

It boils down to: “Oi! You there! Sickies, crippies, olds and poors! Mind giving us a hand with this yuuuuuge sack of cash? We’re taking it over to the richies! Try not to sneeze or bleed on it, will you?”

The good news is, they won’t forget to put roses on your grave.

Oh, who are we kidding? Of course they’ll forget.

R.I.P., Mike Deme

March 30, 2017

I always snickered at the mugshot Mike Deme used when he was still in the editor’s chair at Adventure Cyclist. He always looks like, “Goddamnit, are we gonna have some fun here or what?”

My friend and colleague Mike Deme has gone west. He was 51.

Mike devoted nearly a quarter-century to the Adventure Cycling Association, winding up his tour of duty as director of design and media.

We may have first connected when he was editor of The Cyclists’ Yellow Pages — Lord, that would have been a very long time ago — but we had our first real professional how-d’ye-dos in 2009, when he emailed in his capacity as editor of Adventure Cyclist to ask:

“Ever do any touring? It’d be great to get an O’Grady story in Adventure Cyclist. Any interest?”

I confessed that I had never toured, so Mike wangled me a slot in the ACA’s 2010 Southern Arizona Road Adventure as something of a test drive. I wrote that up, and nobody threatened legal action, so next Mike shanghaied me into writing reviews of touring bikes despite another protestation of blithering and disqualifying ignorance. The rest you mostly know, because I’m still at it.

Listen you, enjoy your time,

you really don’t have very long.

You were born just a moment ago,

in another moment you’ll be gone.

—Wang Fan-chih, the Buddhist Layman, in “Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih,” edited and translated by J.P. Seaton

Working with Mike and the rest of the Adventure Cyclist crew proved a welcome change from pretending to care about bicycle racing for VeloNews and pretending to write about the industry for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Basically, Mike yanked my cycling head out of my racing ass, reminded me that it’s not all about counting grams, going fast and cutting corners.

We tackled a bunch of Interbikes together, along with a couple of North American Handmade Bicycle Shows, and keeping pace with Mike was always a tough hustle. Short and stout, he never meandered, but always marched, to the beat of his own running commentary. There was work to be done, and a booth to staff, and liquor to drink come quitting time.

And the man was funny. On our separate ways home from NAHBS in North Carolina we texted briefly about the joys of airport travel. When I noted that I’d dodged a cavity search at the Charlotte airport Mike replied: “That place was easy. I’m in Detroit drinking a Miller Fortune. All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it.”

This was his professional opinion, mind you. When Mike wasn’t overseeing the magazine, golfing, or touring, he tended bar in Missoula.

He was gruff and abrupt, liked all the right music and disliked all the right people, and I never had to pester him about money. Ask any freelancer how rare a bird that is. Practically extinct, is what.

I’m sad that he’s gone, and that I never got to ride with him. All the wrong people are shoving off lately.

• Late addendum: The ACA bids farewell to Mike.

Something wicked this way comes

January 19, 2017

• Editor’s note: What follows was intended to be a rambling kickoff to a Counter-Inaugural Podcast at Radio Free Dogpatch, but my sidekick Hal Walter developed a bad case of previous commitments, so I’m laying it on you old-school instead. Tomorrow it will be radio silence from yours truly here and on Twitter. But there will be an open-mic post suitable for commentary, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what this particular changing of the guard means for you, and for the rest of us. Finally, a tip of the carny’s boater to Ray Bradbury for the headline. It’s a pity — or is it? — that he didn’t live to see Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show come to life.

We're all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

We’re all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE, TRYING TO FIND WORDS to describe how I feel about what’s going to be happening on Friday — and afterward — in Washington, D.C.

I’ve watched this changing of the guard since before I was eligible to vote, and it rarely goes well for progressives.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon was preparing to take an oath of office he had already violated by undermining the Paris peace talks, the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam staged a three-day counter-inaugural that proved quite the bash, both literally and figuratively.

Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman brought a revolutionary-theater sideshow to the circus, proposing to inaugurate their own president, a 145-pound hog named Pigasus, with predictable results. The Left immediately set about eating itself alive — Splitters! — rocks, bottles, horseshit and punches were thrown, cops and protesters alike took a beating, 119 people got a tour of the hoosegow, and as is traditional in such matters, both sides claimed victory.

Nixon, of course, claimed the White House. Twice. You may recall how that turned out.

I found it all fascinating, from a safe distance, and when I became eligible to vote in time for the 1972 elections, I tried to register as a member of the Youth International Party, the proper name for the improper Yippies. Never happen, said the county clerk in Bibleburg, and I had to settle for signing up as an “independent.” But Hunter S. Thompson was actually in attendance at the ’69 inaugural, and he didn’t exactly come away with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.

Recounting the experience for The Boston Globe in February 1969, Thompson wrote: “My first idea was to load up on LSD and cover the Inauguration that way, but the possibilities were ominous: a scene that bad could only be compounded to the realm of mega-horrors by something as powerful as acid.”

As Thompson watched the deal go down during what he called “a king-hell bummer” and “that wretched weekend,” he saw “a new meanness on both sides … and no more humor.”

“Suddenly I felt cold, and vaguely defeated,” he wrote. “More than eight years ago, in San Francisco, I had stayed up all night to watch the election returns … and when Nixon went down I felt like a winner.

“Now, on this Monday night in 1969, President Nixon was being honored with no less than six Inaugural Balls. I brooded on this for a while, then decided I would go over to the Hilton, later on, and punch somebody. Almost anybody would do … but hopefully I could find a police chief from Nashville or some other mean geek. In the meantime, there was nothing to do but go back to the hotel and watch the news on TV … maybe something funny, like film clips of the bastinado.”

• • •

Neither Hunter S. Thompson nor Dick Nixon are with us this time around, but another pair of Sixties relics you may have thought were likewise long gone — LSD and psilocybin — are making something of a comeback as potential treatments for whatever bad scene may be unfolding on the backside of your forehead (or in front of it).

In December, The New York Times reported on a couple of studies that showed “clinically significant reductions” in both anxiety and depression in cancer patients who took synthetic psilocybin.

The studies, which the Times called “the largest and most meticulous among a handful of trials to explore the possible therapeutic benefit of psilocybin,” found the beneficial effects persisted for months.

One patient, who had just completed treatment for stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, described what he called “an epiphany.”

“I’m not anxious about cancer anymore,” he said. “I’m not anxious about dying.”

Another, whose treatment for acute myeloid leukemia left him with graft-versus-host disease, said the experience left him with “a greater sense of peace with what might come.”

“I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial,” he added.

And on January 14, The Atlantic ran a Q&A with Ayelet Waldman, whose new book “A Really Good Day” describes her microdosing with LSD to self-correct what she described as “a pretty significant depression.”

She had tried the traditional remedies served up by the medical-industrial complex — antidepressants, ADHD drugs, SSRIs, you name it — but a couple drops of diluted and highly illegal L-S-Dizzy is what did the trick for her.

Said Waldman: “I felt happier or at least not as profoundly depressed almost immediately the very first day I took it.”

Funniest thing, hey? About 10 years after the good Doctor Thompson was mulling over that Nixon inaugural, a friend and I offered an acid-soaked homage to his fear-and-loathing tour of Las Vegas. But we didn’t have his stamina, and when a jai-alai match at the old MGM Grand started to look like a “Star Wars” shootout we got the fuck out of there at a very high speed indeed, driving all the way back to Alamosa — the Brain Damage Express, via Kaibab and Page, the Four Corners and the terrifying Wolf Creek Pass, with the usual horrible weather and without the enhancements that were still a few years down the road.

But we sure as shit weren’t depressed. We were simply seeing a whole lot of things we’d rather not have and thought a case of beer, a long night’s drive and a plate of his mom’s enchiladas might mellow us out.

Forty years later I can make my own enchiladas but I’m not so sure about the acid. I still have my copy of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” but I was never much at chemistry.

• • •

All trips, both good and bad, come to an end, sooner or later. And in May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will break down the big top in May for the final time after 146 years.

According to The New York Times, Feld Entertainment, the producer of the circus, cited rising operating costs and falling ticket sales, a condition that worsened after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey dropped elephants from its show last year.

CEO Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press that moving the show by rail, providing a traveling school for performers’ children and other expenses from a bygone era made carrying on a losing proposition.

“It’s a different model … we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price,” he said.

And let’s not forget that old devil competition. There’s another, bigger circus coming to town, with a permanent base of operations in Washington, D.C., the financial support of the State, and free worldwide access via social media. Plus elephants, too!

The Greatest Show On Earth is now an angry orange clown with a Twitter account. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry. …