8 Ball In The Wind

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

R.I.P. Daley Mathison...Some Thoughts On Life And Death And Motorcycling.

I was just sitting here, thinking about the events at today's Isle of Man TT. With the tragic death of racer Daley Mathison and the lack of huge financial prizes for winners at the TT, it got me thinking. Now I'm not going to say these racers, both men and women are crazy adrenaline junkies. They're not. It may be a small aspect of it, but that isn't the main reason they road race on closed circuits. Any moron with a need for an adrenaline rush can jump on a motorcycle and twist their wrist, sending them rocketing down a public road like a maniac. Hell-bent for leather as they fly low over the roadway without a care or a brain in their head except going fast.
I know, I can still remember riding up and down the twisting two-lane highway of US101 along Hoods Canal on an old chopped BSA with an extended front end, and no rear suspension (and no front brakes for that matter) doing 110 mph or so. If a deer or God forbid, an elk, crossed the road in front of me, I'd have been toasted spam on the highway. But it didn't matter. I was flying, and just living in the moment. Where nothing else mattered, except that instant, and the next instant was whatever it would bring with it. I loved it, and still, get nostalgic thinking about those days sometimes.
But the road racers at the TT; they aren't like that. They do, truly love to go fast on the road circuit. But it's controlled. Or at least controlled to a fine degree that a simple adrenaline junkie wouldn't even stand for. Months of physical exercise and training to build stamina, and strength, and reflexes. They don't even practice on the closed road circuit if it's raining (Hell, they don't even bring rain gear or "wet" tires with them), let alone race in the rain anymore. They push their skills to the limit, and they push their machines. Knowing if either one breaks in practice, or even worse in a real race, they may die. But they have done everything possible to reduce that risk to an extreme degree. However, the fact is, that risk is real and remains a part of road racing. They've taken the safety as nearly far as it can go, and they accept the risk they are taking. For the love of it, and the competition of it. And yes, for the thrill of it too.
The road racers who participate in the Isle of Man TT aren't insane adrenaline junkies. They are motorcyclists who love to ride their bikes to their limit and enjoy the pleasure and freedom of doing so on the longest and most intensely challenging road circuit in the world. All 37.7 miles of it. Most motorcyclists can understand that feeling; that need, to ride and feel the road rushing past them. To some greater or lesser degree I think everyone who truly loves riding their motorcycle understands and knows this feeling at some deep level.
My heart goes out to the wife and young daughter of Daley Mathison. This sudden realization that the reaper awaits us all along our path and we know not when our number will come up. The risk and danger of death is a given to motorcycle road racers and their families. Still, it is always a tragedy when a motorcyclist dies doing what they love so deeply. A tragedy, and yet...I can't think of a better way to leave this life, than doing something I love so much.
I send my prayers for comfort and compassion for this young family now in the depths of sorrow. Prayers for healing and joy as well. But those prayers are no less than I say every night for those who ride, and sadly many have died while just riding their motorcycles and so deeply enjoying the life that God gave them. It's not just adrenaline junkies and professional road racers, but everyone who lives to ride these machines we love. I say a prayer for all of us, and still, I thrill to ride, and to watch the TT. I hope that I always will.
As the old adage used to go; "If I have to explain it, you'd never understand."
Ride In Peace Daley.
Catch you on the road sometime...

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Moral Equality vs Forced Equality

There has been a somewhat terrifying push for a forced equality of result that seems to oppose and even vilify what I refer to as 'Moral Equality'.  This 'Equality of Result' as some describe it focusses on equality between groups in for example; career fields.  This view refuses to admit any differences between the groups.  As if admitting that differences exist equates to one group somehow being superior to another.  That is an undesirable position, however, those with the viewpoint that it is necessary for example that there should be a 50/50 split between the genders in fields such as computer programming are trying to force such results with total disregard for any other end result.  Forcing equality in this manner does nothing but dehumanizes those, in this case, who chose freely to work as programmers.  Attempting to enforce an equality of result in this manner also dehumanizes those who are being pushed into the field because of someone else desire for an equality of result.  In other words, the individual's personal choices are seen as less important than achieving the desired resultant 50.50 gender split.

"If you argue that no true equality can be achieved unless we are all the same, then we can't have equality."  This quote made by Claire Lehman. founding editor of Quillette, during a podcast of the Rubin Report.  Claire continued by saying; "However, if you argue that we are all morally equal and that we deserve equal opportunity to live a happy flourishing life, however, there are differences between us.  Then you can preserve that ethical principle."  It seems to be just this concept that proves so problematic for many people.  In today's polarized political and social environment, problematic is more and more often conflated with being bad, or even just evil.  So that in many cases, people remain focused on the equality of result rather than the equality of opportunity.

Arguing that there are no differences between men and women seems to be not only rather lazy thinking, but also brings about any number of possible scenario's.  Many of which would seem to be in total contradiction with the base premise being proposed.  Few people would rationally advance a claim that there is no physical difference between men and women.  Yet that is exactly what is being proposed by a vocal portion of the far left or the political spectrum.  If there are no differences, and we are all the same, how can there be anything but uniformity?  Admitting there are physical differences does not mean inferiority or superiority, only difference.  And, if there can be differences physically, can there also not be differences mentally?  

Can it not be possible that evolution has created different mental interests and abilities among the genders?  Attempting to force an equality of result between genders in any field of endeavor has at its heart a total disregard for the individual desires and interests of those who may be affected.  However, providing an equal opportunity for people to succeed in their chosen field has at its core a faith that all people are morally equal and how they choose to strive for success is totally up to the individual.

It may be that society is on the verge of a dramatic series of events that will change what we are as a people, and a Nation.  It is my hope that we do not succumb to the desire for equality of outcome and a desire for an equal outcome of the balance between genders or races.  This would seem to mean that society as a whole will have conformed to the concept that quantity is better than quality.  That to attain a balance, mediocre abilities can be accepted as long as it allows the balance to be attained.  Think about the meaning of that.  People who are highly suited and qualified being turned away and mediocrely qualified individuals with a lack of interest accepted.  Simply to attain that equality of outcome.  I hope I never live to see America drop to that level.

Catch you on the road sometime...

My World Has Changed

My life over the past few months has changed so drastically I can hardly even comprehend all the changes and all the changes that are yet to come.  What seems the most bizarre to me is the fact that only a month before my wife suddenly died, I was reading the fortunes of friends using a normal deck of playing cards.  When I was done, they wanted me to read my fortune just for fun.   Normally I wouldn't, but for some reason, I did my own reading.  From the first card, I saw massive changes coming to my life.  With virtually every card I laid down, I was reading nothing but change in my life.  I didn't understand, and because I was reading my own fortune, my personal biases didn't allow me to be truly open to what I saw.  What the cards were telling me.  Everything in my life was about to change.

While Robin and I knew she was sick, and that she wasn't going to get better in the long term without a liver transplant, the calm and slow pace the Drs. seemed to be taking gave no hint as to the extent of her illness.  Or, how short her time truly was.  In a month, she went from needing a step to get in and out of our Explorer, to laying dead in a hospital room in Vancouver.

Now I am living in a house I can afford to pay the mortgage on, but not; the water, the electricity, phone, garbage, or the internet. I don't know what I am going to do yet.  Then today, after trying to get my health insurance renewed for another year, I get a letter in the mail saying I have two days to fill out the paperwork and bring everything into Social Security in Tacoma.  I think I have enough money for one tank of gas, so I am definitely going to be forced to start selling things.  It is time I adapt and go into survival mode as my world changes around me.  

Few people have a clue as to the hole I suddenly find myself in.  All I can do is my best to fulfill my obligations, and do everything in my power to finish what I have started to do to help get some new laws passed, and to help my local community.  But I also have to focus on my ability to survive, in order to do these things.

I will survive this and come out wiser on the other side.  With no clue yet as to what is going to happen, I'm just moving forward day to day trying to get a handle on what has happened and what I am going to have to do next.  Things are about to get interesting, to say the least.  My world has changed, and my life is going to have to change with it.  What all those changes will turn out to be, I'll find out as I reach and experience them.  I'll try to keep you posted.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Federal Bullet Pre-Purchase Background Check Proposal, One More Cowardly "Feel Good" Proposition

The Democrats have once again stepped forward with an effort to circumvent the opposition to additional firearms background checks, or "Universal Background" checks by introducing in the US House and Senate bicameral bills (H.R. 5383, and S.2627) that would require Federal background checks to purchase ammunition.  This pre-purchase ammunition background check idea is just one more effort that does little or nothing to reduce the violence in this country.  Once again this shows the cowardice of the Democrats to really look at the root causes of violence in America.  instead of doing something to reduce the level of violence, the Democrats are again showing they are focused on restricting the ability of good law-abiding citizens to use a tool for personal defense while doing nothing at all to reduce the root causes of most of America's violence.  Since we already have background checks on firearms; which the Democrats keep saying we need more of because apparently, the current background checks through the NCIC for criminal and mental health violations aren't effective enough, now they want to use the same system prior to purchasing ammunition?  Will the system work better by overloading it with background checks for ammunition?  Drop the cowardice and say what you are really after.  Try using some of your "common sense" initiatives to; improve the socio-economic-educational conditions in our predominantly Democratically controlled inner-cities,  cracks in the mental health system that so many violent offenders seem to slip through, then maybe America will see a reduction in violence.  Also, how would this even be enforceable?  There is virtually no way to determine without possibly chemical analysis what bullet came from what box of ammunition.  Or, if the purchaser is even the end user of the ammunition.  These bills are simply an effort to restrict Americans from exercising their Second Amendment right by increasing the difficulty needlessly to purchase Ammunition.  But again, the Democrats are using the same tired tactics that they have used for decades of ignoring the base roots of violence in America, then using guns and gun owners as the scapegoats.

I can't think of any firearm owned by anyone I have ever known that ever became violent in all the years of my life.  Stop blaming the tools for how a small number of violent people use them.  If background checks are so effective at reducing violence and death, then why are there no background checks for baseball bats, knives, and hammers?  Each kills more people in America every year than semi-automatic rifles, but because people naturally understand that overall, such a small minority of those things are used in violent, murderous acts that a restriction on the purchase of such items would be ludicrous.  That is how the vast majority of gun owners feel about our firearms.   

All this sort of bill will do is to cause legal gun owners instead of buying one or two boxes of ammunition to buy ten or so at a time.  It may very well have the unintended effect of creating an increase in the number of people reloading their own ammunition.  Which already has a long history of documentation on purchases.  Again, all that documentation hasn't decreased America's violence.  Because the tools, the objects, aren't the cause of America's violence.  Why make it more difficult to purchase the tools needed to defend your life, while doing nothing to ease the problem of American violence's real core causes?

Let the flaming begin.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

An Open Letter To The People

One of the more disturbing political trends to me over the past few years has become the attacks on Free Speech.  Not by the government, but by individuals, institutions, and organizations that have submitted to the concept that if someone is saying something that does not fit your personal beliefs, it is perfectly alright to; heckle, harass, shout down, or demonize that person simply because their views do not conform to your own.  This has resulted in an atmosphere not of government censorship as restricted by the First Amendment, but a form of self-censorship by citizens who simply have grown weary of being verbally assaulted and harangued by others simply because of their views.  I find it to be quite disingenuous of many who seek to silence those they do not agree with by using the very tactics so successfully used by authoritarians throughout the history of the last century and a half or more, as they loudly denounce speakers as “racist” or “fascist”.  Whether those epithets have any basis in fact seems to be irrelevant.  Or worse, such words are weaponized, knowing it is a quick and simple way to isolate a person they oppose in some way.
The tactics of this type of political movement seem bizarre and irrational at times.  Claiming to be the champions of diversity and equity; they seem to support the diversity of appearance, but not of thought.  The equity that seems to be so precious to them is not an equity of opportunity, giving every individual the same possibility of success as another person, but the equity of outcome where there is an equal representation of various groups in any specific segment of the population.  They decry the fact that women do not account for 50% of software programmers for example, and then demand efforts be made to enforce an increase in the participation of that career field explaining that the reason for the disparity is some misogynistic ‘patriarchy’ keeping women from attaining equality.  This same mindset is used to describe any segment of the population that does not have an equal share of whatever group the far left is attempting to be perceived as supporting.
We have seen the politically correct demands for change based on the feelings of some person or other being ‘offended’.  Demands that images, monuments, even books be banned or destroyed.  Many of those making these claims have only the words of others to explain to them why the things they are so loudly demanding be removed from the public consciousness.  Even if those words have no real historical or factual basis.  It is the perception that seems to be driving many of these claims of ‘offense’.  One of the greatest things that so many on; the far left, the regressive left,  the radical left, whatever you choose to call it, find so extremely offensive is the simple fact that you do not agree with them. 
While claiming to be the champions of tolerance for people who form some minority of our citizenry; these same champions seem to be completely intolerant of anyone who simply holds a different political position than they do.  What does their reaction to this person who does not agree totally with their position?  In many cases it seems to be to try to publicly humiliate the person, by loudly talking over the individual who does not share their views.  To proclaim in a loud and repetitive voice that this person is a racist, a misogynist, homophobe, xenophobe, etc.  The idea of actually sitting down and having a fact based discussion looking at an issue from different perspectives, and coming to their own conclusions, actually debating the issue, seems to be the furthest from the minds of those intolerant champions of tolerance.  All in an attempt to bully the person with the opposing viewpoint into submission, or make them seem to be some form of social pariah. 
It is sad to realize that many of these ideas and concepts that seem so antithetical to the American way of life are coming from America’s colleges and universities.  Once the exchange of ideas, and the concept of free and open discussion of those ideas was one of the purposes of a higher education.  Today, it seems that in many colleges and universities the once classically liberal concepts of; civil liberties, the rule of law, and economic freedom have been replaced with a form of indoctrination that places a political agenda above civil liberties, the rule of law, and economic freedom.  Part of that political agenda is to look at American history through the lens of today’s extreme leftist social values.  Condemning a person of another era because they do not live up to modern leftist social standards is a common occurrence.  As is leveraging the banning of classic American literature such as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie because the female characters do not live by modern feminist standards, and thus offers a profoundly unhealthy role model for today’s young women. Banning books such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain because its perceived depictions of African Americans and women do not conform to the standards of today’s extreme left politically.  Placing such standards on historical figures and literature of another era is reprehensible.  Yet that is what is happening with the regressive left.  It is also quite hypocritical as well.  If it is alright to condemn someone from a century or more ago for not living in a manner conforming to the moral compass of today’s political left; how is it that Bill Clinton is not vociferously condemned as a misogynist, or anti-feminist for his sexual behavior with women during the 1980’s and 1990’s?  Why is his wife Hilary Clinton not loudly proclaimed as an anti-feminist, or a traitor to her fellow women because of her standing by her husband when his behavior came to light?  Could it be that to do so might require a little critical thinking?
How do we defend ourselves and our Nation against these attacks on not just our First Amendment, all of our civil rights?  By holding firm, thinking for ourselves, and doing the research needed to find the facts to bolster our positions on issues.  Freely discuss your ideas and thoughts with those who may make you work to prove your positions.  If you find yourself unable to convince that person that your position is correct; learn from that discussion and do more and better research.  You may even find that if your position is not strong enough that you may need to recalibrate your own thinking on the issue.  There are many flaws in our political system in the United States.  However, just take a moment and look at how many people are constantly attempting to immigrate to the US for a better life.  Then try to find another Nation on Earth that has as many Americans trying to immigrate to for a better life.  We aren’t perfect, but our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights makes America the best country on Earth in my opinion.
If you don’t agree, I won’t infringe on your First Amendment Right to counter my arguments.  Will you offer me that same courtesy and respect?

Catch you on the road sometime...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Is Inclusion of Motorcycle Crash Data Too Much of a "High Cost" to Save Motorcyclists Lives?

According to a 2010 Virginia Tech-Wake Forst University study; between 2003 and 2008 there were 1,604 motorcyclist fatalities from a collision with barriers in the United States, accounting for approximately 5.8% of all motorcycle fatalities.  While over this same period only approximately 1.6% of all automobile fatalities were barrier related.    Motorcycles make up about 3% of all registered vehicles in the US.  But, according to this study, motorcyclists account for nearly half of all guardrail fatalities, and 22% of the fatalities involving concrete barriers.  During this same time frame, there were 1,723 fatalities among automobile passengers involving barriers.  In other words, nearly half of all barrier related fatalities in the US were motorcyclists.

The video above demonstrates clearly why half of all guardrail related fatalities are motorcyclists.  It also demonstrates the mindset that highway safety features are in place to protect automobile and larger vehicle occupants.  Not motorcyclists.  The posts are not the only area that provides a high risk of injury to motorcyclists that are not likely to affect occupants of other vehicles.  The top of "W-Beam" guardrails also provide a serious hazard to motorcyclists.  The sharp edges can slice open the motorcyclist as they travel along the top of the metal rail.  All while the top of the posts deliver repeated blows to the rider traveling at highway speeds along the path of the rail.  Concrete "jersey barriers", signposts, cable barriers, and more all constitute dangerous and often fatal "fixed obstacles" to motorcyclists in a crash.

A 2004 study compiled for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) entitled; "Improving the Compatibility of Vehicles and Roadside Safety Hardware" would seem to be a possible step in the right direction.  In the first paragraph of chapter 2 of the report entitled "Analysis of Real Worl Crash Information" on page 7 reads as follows; "It was found that the different classes of vehicles had different compatibility issues with roadside hardware systems."  Even with that line in mind, which would seem to indicate the report would investigate the "different compatibility issues" of all vehicles, nowhere in the 262 pages of the report are motorcycles even mentioned.  However, vehicles are broken down into categories within the report.  The categories are; car, truck, SUV, and van.  Again it appears that even the NCHRP tends; whether consciously or not, to exclude motorcycles from highway transportation policy thinking.

In 2008, the NCHRP did release another report, part of the NCHRP Report 500.  This was volume 22 of the NCHRP 500 Report; "A Guidance for Addressing Collisions Involving Motorcycles".  Was this finally a transportation policy actually concerned about motorcycle safety?  Not really, if one takes the opportunity to read it.  Section IV is entitled; "Index of Strategies by Implementation Timeframe and Relative Cost".  It is this section of the report that shows how little motorcycle transportation safety means to policy planners.  The same failed strategies such as increasing awareness of impaired motorcyclists, the benefits of wearing high-visibility clothing, and increasing the use o FMVSS-218 compliant helmets are all listed as low cost to implement and operate.  Does it seem strange that these low-cost strategies are virtually the only ones the transportation bureaucrats tend to implement?  The report also lists such strategies as; considering motorcycles in the selection of roadside barriers, including motorcycle attributes into vehicle exposure data collection programs, and developing a set of analysis tools for motorcycle crashes.  However, each of these strategies, which seem like common sense to motorcyclists, is listed as being of "moderate to high cost" to maintain and operate.  This could well be some of the best and most effective strategy options, but because the NCHRP lists them as they have, it would seem to have the effect of these strategies being completely ignored.  Even the simple act of forming "strategic alliances with the motorcycle user community " to promote motorcycle safety is listed as a "moderate" cost.  These categorizations of strategies may well explain the virtually complete lack of motorcycle policy in transportation planning in Washington State.

This Washington State DOT's video provides a fine example of the total failure to consider motorcycles in transportation policy.  Watch the video closely and see how many motorcycles are used in testing and demonstrating safety benefits of cable barriers, or how first responders can extricate motorcyclists from cable barriers after a crash.  Also, notice that vehicles weighing many times greater than a motorcycle are used in testing, but motorcycles are not used to demonstrate cable deflection.  

As long as there is no legislative pressure to change, policies that place virtually all the focus of motorcycle safety on impairment awareness, Hi-Viz clothing, training, and helmet use, nothing will change.  If motorcycles are to be considered when designing roadways and roadside barriers, the owners of approximately one-quarter million motorcycles in Washington state need to demand their legislators pressure the WSDOT to begin seriously developing a set of analysis tools for motorcycle crashes, and including motorcycle attributes into vehicle exposure data collection programs.  Only by pressuring legislators across the state can motorcycles possibly even begin to be considered worthy of the "high cost" of implementing these strategies by the WSDOT.  

With Washington State repeatedly using the goal of "Target Zero" in transportation planning policy, shouldn't motorcycles actually be included in the data sets WSDOT, and other state agencies use concerning highway infrastructure and roadside safety barriers?  Or has the low cost of failed strategies kept them in place even though they have had little effect on reducing motorcycle fatalities in Washington State?  By not including motorcycles into vehicle exposure data, or creating analysis tools for motorcycle crashes, is WSDOT and other agencies saying that even working toward effectively analyzing motorcycle crash data too "high cost" to implement in order to reach 'Target Zero'?  Or is the cost in human lives each year through lack of actually including data from this mode of transportation not already enough of a "high cost"?

Catch you on the road sometime...