so we've got a little bike friendship blooming among several of our employees. chucky started it all. and he roped his friend heather from letherbee in. and sam. and robyn. and german. and another couple new faces have rolled through with some major gearage. and so bikes are abuzz at bungalow! which has me all giddy, of course. ... i didn't have access to a car from 2009 to 2015. i rode my bike virtually everywhere i needed to go. very rarely taking the train to cover longer distances like the suburbs. so i'm a big bike head. with some old bike knees. and every time anyone is talking about their bike or a ride they recently took or plan to take or my chain keeps squeaking yo dude you gotta grease it up with chain grease or even wd-40 will work in a pinch and what's up with your bottom bracket is your wheel true? oh good. good. that's a nice wheel. a niiiiice wheel. that's a perfectly nice wheel! why you getting rid of it? ah shit i don't know i sorta want some of them cool yellow deep v rims all flashy and fixie and shit cuz i want my bike to be a target for theft and my seat to get stolen and this one time i rode from minneapolis to chicago in 5 days.
"dude, i always wear a helmet," said chucky to german one day recently over the overwrought iron fence. [did someone just bring up bikes? i better go give them my two cents!] so anyway, i went and listened for a minute and then of course i did. i told them i'd never owned a helmet in my entire life. and i can't really foresee changing that habit in my late 30s. and chucky said: "i ain't trying to die out there". and ed brady chimed in that he fell hard once and crushed him helmet and the doc said that based on the impact necessary to crack the helmet he certainly would have split open his head and melted out of it. and i talked about getting hit by a car and flying through the air over by presence about 15 years ago. and landing, thank goddess, on the bike lock that i stuffed in my belt loops. which turned into a steel sled. saving my head from a monster of a whip toward the ground. probably would've perished then and there too. without the lock in my pocket. but even that didn't change my helmet behavior.
... and then i rode off. naked of hard hat. down armitage and left on richmond home. thinking about climate change. and an argument i had in the back of a new your city cab with this stuffy ass lawyer from cravath called ian. about the precautionary principle. lawyers are the absolute worst. just ask one and they'll tell you.
so: the precautionary principle says: if you suspect something bad will happen, take action to prevent it from happening. but let's strawberry-flesh that out a bit. if a thing is extreeeemely unlikely to happen. and the bad result is super insignificant, it's unlikely anyone will take precautions against it. nor should they! compare that to an event, though, that's likely to occur in the extreme. the consequences of which are devastating. people should indeed take precautions against that.
let's talk bike helmets again. what are the chances that a biker gets hit by a car? there's about 19,000 such accidents in the US per year. 800 of which result in death. but what's the context? about 130,000 pedestrians are treated in ERs after being hit by cars every year. and nearly 6,000 die. but let's back up again: wayyy more people are walking around than riding around. so those bike numbers actually sound a bit more serious. no surprise: biking is more dangerous than walking. but in 2013, almost about 4,500 motorcyclists were killed in car crashes. so there's some real dangerous shit for you.
in any event, riding a bike can be dangerous. but isn't some wildly dangerous sport or mode. despite that, though, parents these days are super fucking serious about putting helmets on their kids' heads. (note: every child born in the social media generation has at least two heads.) but it bridges political, racial and social divides. trump republicans in rich suburbs do it. anti vax liberals in hermosa do it. black parents. brown parents. pink parents. it ain't like the 80s. kids wear helmets. and adults wear helmets. but why? why, if fatal bike crashes are overall a pretty rare thing, given the context?
because losing a child is a massive loss. and so palpable. a single story about a kid knocked off his bike into purgatory is enough to send every young parent into a tailspin. are helmets even effective? doesn't matter. there's actually some surprising academic work and reporting on it. the mere fact that they intend to reduce head injury is enough. because head injury can be so devastating to a young child.
which brings me to climate change: the jury is not out. it's in. it's been in for years. as certain as untreated cancer cells will cause death: human activity has lead to climate change. which will lead to famine, war, death, etc. so why does half of this country ignore the precautionary principle when it comes to climate, but not when it comes to their child's safety?
first, a helmet is cheap. it doesn't require virtually any sacrifice by any republican or democrat.
on the contrary: the actions and behaviors meant to stall climate chance are pitched as expensive ones. and some of them are! my response to that, though, is who the fuck are you?!?!?! what's up with this massive sense of entitlement? why should you get to live the way you want? why are you entitled to a lawn, and a big car, and keeping lights on all the time, and water on while you brush your teeth, and etc. etc. etc.
we've organized a completely inefficient society because we were myopic. we didn't think about certain efficiencies, when, for example, we allowed companies to build factories far away from city centers where land and labor are cheaper. without taxing them any more. ... some of the most important things governments do is help us get from point a to point b. trains. subways. buses. long, clean highways. we all pay for the construction and maintenance of those highways, for example. and those highways allowed a rich man once to build a massive factory way out in the hinter. where land was cheap. and where he could hire people, pay them fairly low wages, build cheap housing for them, etc. and get rich!!! rich rich rich!!!! and we all paid for him to do that.
this seems a bit fucked up to me. i walk or ride to and from the brewery every day. and drive once or twice a week usually within a mile or two of my house and work. but i pay for a road that makes an ugly man rich! and why?! he should have paid us for that road. fuckloads more!!! and then maybe he wouldn't have done it.
... well ... what about all the cheap stuff you get, pete?! yeah. what about it? do i need it? why'd we organize a society that encourages that kind of consumption? do i really need two salad spinners? i don't even use the one, clearly. all i frankly need is a nearby thrift store with blue and black clothes and plaid wool blankets. a bike. a tool set. some reclaimed lumber. and youtube. jk jk jk. i do way more than that. and i most definitely don't know how to use tools. but the bigger point here is that i don't knead, like, 80% of the "cheap stuff" i have. and i don't need the roads. my happiness and quality of life would be terrific without any of it. i know it cuz i've done without it. and i ain't that special a study.
the point of all of the above is: the consequences of climate change are certain to be bad. if we change our behaviors, we could slow or even reverse it. we aren't entitled to a certain way of life. and we're capable of the sort of long term vision necessary to make changes. (see: bike helmets on rugrats.)
now if only we could alter our human nature to join teams.............. (or, at the very least, our myopia about why certain political teams take certain positions: rich people don't want to change their behaviors or pay more in taxes, so they rile up people about other shit like abortion (how nervous the reasonable rich are getting!) and guns (the laws never seem to change!) to garner team support for policies with low impacts on the economic status quo.)
i'll start wearing a helmet if you stop leaving your lights on all night cuz you're afraid of the other comfortable white people in your suburb. what a deal! let's make more deals like 'em! ones that are nicer to our future bodies and our future children's future bodies.
in the meantime...