KC/DC Cycle

Ride to live... live to ride

Monday, March 25, 2019


This is sort of a parable shared by my friend Odysseus Laertiádēs Not gonna pretend to speak for all poc in America, but the best way I describe what it's like to be black there is this: Your home is broken into. Many members of your family are killed and you are locked away or carted off to provide free labor at the robber's home or business. The robbers/killers then invite all their friends and family over to celebrate their grand discovery and innovative approach to business. They, of course, do this while demonizing and mocking you at every opportunity, spitting in your face when you demand justice. The demonization of your existence spreads to nearby towns until nearly everyone is on board with hating you and loving the one who has harmed you most. The thieves/killers, though decidedly resentful of your existence, cannot deny the value of your home's decor and the many artifacts of your life, so they hold a yard sale and generate massive wealth from not only your labor but from the selling of those things you and your family created while, again, demonizing your for daring to exist at all. And the entire time this unfolds before your eyes, you are told time and time again that you are wrong to be angry. You are told that the robbers/killers are the ones who built that home, even though you know it is stolen. You are told that you are the originators of nothing and little more than squatters on someone else's land, the thieves' land, and you should be thankful that you are not dead like the family whose names you can no longer remember. To be in America as a black person is to live amongst thieves who brazenly declare themselves the righteous kindly saviors in the story of your genocide, a genocide of their making.

Increasing human value

We could increase productivity, employment figures in two ways. One way I can give you a personal example of. I graduated high school and did not finish college for 25 years. I am smart, just somehow got discouraged and didn't finish for a long time. The degree I finished with was in Computer Science. Until I finished that degree I worked in offices in DC or menial jobs in restaurants. I did not excel in those jobs. I barely survived.

I had the capacity and intelligence for 25 additional years to be a computer programmer but without the degree I was stuck. It's not that those other jobs are bad jobs but my productivity in those jobs and my income were trivial. I was not lazy. I did not complain. But I could have achieved greater things for myself, my family and the country

If I had been able to transition from high school to college more smoothly I could have been programming long ago. A series of events occurred that propelled me to finally finish. One was that I lived at home at one point, same address and first/last name as my dad and the credit card company gave me $2000 credit card which I didn't deserve.

At that point why fight it? I used the credit to invest in myself. I bought a computer and programming software. I worked on learning C++. I was not successful but I felt good investing in myself. A few years later I was laid off from my job processing insurance claims. They were moving 1500 miles away. I was able to get unemployment and a very small grant for college.

One of the crashes I had in college was finishing Calculus. I was always excellent in math but failed and dropped out at UMD because of Calculus. That was a required course in Computer Science. Now I know that one of the issues was the large lecture hall class size. I was in a lecture of 150 students. I felt lost and unable to get help for myself.

I started back full time this last time and immediately dove into Calculus and a full load of Computer Science courses. This Calc course was small, maybe 20-25 students. It was Calculus for Engineering so it required proofs. Not only was the class size small but the prof was my age and very congenial. I ended up getting A's. It built up my confidence and ego which had been crushed over the years.

From my experience and from talking to other I know I'm not the only one to be less productive and challenged and confident than we should be. Not only from my personal travails but from knowledge of oppression of my fellow Americans. I'm talking about racism. Our country could be more productive if we provided excellent education to all and made greater efforts to bring it to ===all=== at the highest level possible. To me there's nothing more satisfying than going into a school classroom that has great facilities.

While everyone suffers from this bribery scandal Black people suffer from a lack of economic ability and other factors that get them to complete a University degree. There's a striking disparity between races and completion of a Bachelors degree. We're losing valuable resources. We're losing great minds. We're losing wonderful ideas. We need to value everyone and live the dream that's been written in the constitution but applied only sparingly. We all deserve a better world and we can make it happen

Adjustable front fork trail

This is one of my favorite bicycle innovations. It's not an expensive or complex, just a novel, possibly useful idea. The picture shows a GT Tachyon from years ago that has an adjustable front fork trail. By varying trail you can make your steering more agile/agressive or more stable. Stable is good on the road touring or commuting around town. Agile would be for competition which would require more attention to control. There are lots of expensive innovations more or less necessary but this is one of the cheap ones

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A party to fear

Conservatives are, by definition, a party of fear, a party to maintaining the status quo at the expense of positive change because of the inherent risk. They fear the present in all its manifestations. The time the conservatives are most comfortable is 10 or 20 years ago in the good ol' days.
For clarification, that's an essential difference with liberals/progressives who seek change and improvement. Liberals want education, enlightenment, scientific research, serious debate.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of these basic ideas. Fear is an obvious compatriot of hate. Fear is the root. Hate is a manifestation. Courage is the opposite of fear. It is based on principles that trying to overcome that which you fear is more important than your immediate safety. It's a longer term strategy that seeks benefits in the future rather than comfort in the short term.
One party is so enmeshed and inflamed in fear right now and the flames are being fanned constantly by their leader. We often use blindly to acknowledge a leader whose followers trust them completely. This group takes 'following blindly' to a whole new level. They have a leader who lies to them and lies about lying. This is a leader who cherry picks facts and embellishes said facts until they are lies. That's on his good days. When he's real bad he just makes something up.
So this group of people has a platform of fear on a bedrock of lies. Their media mouthpiece turns journalism on its head. It's a corporate propaganda machine in a capitalist regime. This regime uses such a ruthless version of capitalism that the only reason they give more funding to the VA is to get more funding for the military industrial complex. So this corporate entity provides cover for the regimes foibles.
I want to get back to values here. I value courage. I value caring for others less fortunate and sharing that burden reasonable across the economic spectrum. I value improving society thru change. I value education, research, enlightenment.
Liberals believe in the possibilities of the future. Conservatives believe in the safety of the past.

Getting square with racism - for white people

There's a war going on in the US. It's been raging since about 1619. It's a civil war. It's an information war. It's a scope limiting war. It's a race war. It's a war you won't always be able to opt out of. It will be coming soon to a neighborhood near you even tho it's been there the whole time. 

To get square with racism you'll need to be involved in several pursuits. You need to understand why you're doing it. At what personal level are you committed to making the world better by changing the racism dynamic? This requires introspection which is a fairly rare skill. Many people have a very limited understanding of themselves in the world at large. What motivates you to undertake the endeavor of justice for black people? Justice and honesty are two of my strongest values with maybe openness a close third. It's a developed skill enhanced by use. It's helpful but largely not necessary to survive for white people. But you've got to understand your motivation and it's got to be a strong motivation. You're going to face painful realizations. You're going to face generations of lies perpetrated by those you love and admire. You've got to have and maintain the strength to power thru these challenges. My personal commitment is due to my family. That's somewhat selfish, but it's the truth.

So you've found your motivation? What's next? Go back in your mind and create a racism journal. How did you learn about race? Who were your elders who either helped you understand or deceived you? Think back on some of the historical landmarks in civil rights. When and how did you become aware of them? What was the reaction of those around you? What was your reaction? Depending on how old you are it could be the civil rights era, Rodney King, OJ Simpson trial, some of the recent videos of police violence, Black Lives Matter. You can also think of why you may not have even known about them or if you're too young, how you learned about them. Just examine your history of learning about race. Maybe examining this history can help you understand how far you've come. 

Now you've examined yourself in two ways: your motivation and your history. Now or in combination with the above you can take on educating/re educating yourself about race in history of the US. If you try to understand race in all contexts or slavery thru all of history you'll be biting off more than you can chew for at least 5 years. You'll have enough to deal with just under the immediate scenario. There are lots of good websites. You'll need to be literate in the terminology of the movement: whitesplaining, the new definition of racism, intersectionality, reverse racism, race baiting, colorblind, implicit bias, internalized oppression, people of color, systemic racism, white fragility, white supremacy, whiteness, white savior, white tears. That's just some of the terminology, but the history is very rich and powerful. Remember the history of black people is not just the history of slavery. Some of it you have to imagine. A lot of sources will leave out explicit and disturbing details of the enslavement of black people. Black people submitted to unimaginable physical and mental torture to survive. This is part of the history that was suppressed by our institutions of learning. Keep in mind that I'm presenting this from my perspective as a 60+ year old from a progressive education system. If you're younger or from a less progressive background your experience will be different.

Upon graduation from a beginners level of educational pursuits you can reach out to others. You may feel you have rich tidbits to share but you are likely not ready for that. Spend a lot of time listening. Write a journal and keep notes about your thoughts. It may be valuable to you and others later. Reach out to other white people in the movement. Reach out to SURJ or one of the affiliated white anti racism groups. Black people are often overwhelmed being tasked with explaining and questioned and debated on their lived experiences over and over again. You're not ready for that. Talk to your like minded skin kin. Deal with them a bit. Remember that white people created the racist system, white people need to dismantle it. It would be good to get mentors to assist in making decisions. In the church I grew up in we had spiritual directors. They help to give you feedback and hear what you are thinking and give direction when you're choosing a path. You need that kind of insight in this pursuit, an outside ear. It will make you much more effective and valuable.

There are a couple of traps I can advise you about ahead of time. One is that you're special, you're unique. This pitfall will make you thin that you have a special understanding. You'll jump ahead on the steps and start asking questions of black people when you haven't done your work yet. You'll want to join an all black group or tell someone else how to fix their problems. It's a common problem which will set you back. This viewpoint also makes you say things like "not all white people". What white people do is documented in history. That history is at least 400 years old in this country. You don't stand out that much. Get over it quickly. Another problematic standpoint to avoid is debating. This is not debate club. This is not a political position. This is a movement to fully recognize a group of people who have not been treated as human beings. Debating is not helpful in this context. Even if you were to win the debate what does it get you? That you're superior to an oppressed person? If that's what you're going for you missed the idea in step 1 - motivation. 

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