Tuesday, July 24, 2012

OW. Week 14 and a Book Review

"You cannot fully appreciate the shape of the 20th century if you did not once share its illusions."
                                                                                                                               Tony Judt

Crashed today.

It was a slow motion, one minute you're up, next minute you're down kind of thing.  300 or so motorists drove by my sprawl-out, and I wavered between hoping someone would stop and hoping no one would. No one did. All those drivers politely turned their heads and made a wide swing around the lump on bike path.  Fine. There was nothing a few Bandaids couldn't fix anyway. 

                                                    Photo credit: click from morguefile.com

It was tempting though to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head, or at least drive.  Nothing like seeing the old sunglasses crash ahead of you onto the pavement and realizing that could be my head; but it wasn't.

Picked myself up. Got back on.

On my mind, egging me on: Tony Judt's last book Thinking the Twentieth Century.  It's a series of conversations between Judt and his friend Timothy Snyder in the last two years before Judt's death from Lou Gehrig's disease. Judt was a prolific writer and historian, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the center of much controversy.  He insisted on "speaking truth to power" and was one of the few New York intellectuals to publicly oppose the 2003 Iraq war.  He was a pragmatist among media hysterics. As a prescription for economic instability, climate change and rogue states, he recommended the almost boring remedies of constitutionalism, rule of law and social democracy. 

"The choice we face in the next generation is not capitalism versus communism... but the politics of social cohesion based around collective purposes versus the erosion of society by the politics of fear".

Fancy words for:  we have a choice between doing things to help each other, and doing things because we are afraid people will do (bad) things to us.

Flirting with potential head trauma by cycling in the city is not exactly speaking truth to power, but we do what we can. Choosing to bicycle or walk is the opposite of buying an Uzi and waving the 2nd Amendment flag.  It's neighborly, healthy and saves gasoline, things our society sorely needs, and if it in any way, shape or form puts me in a category with a journalist who struggled to speak the truth as he saw it practically until the day he died, hurrah.  If there are bumps and scrapes along the way, c'est la vie. 
Skinned knee meet Thinking the Twentieth Century
Week 14 of 104 rides in 52 weeks.  Last week took a lake break in the mountains and did not ride at all.  Grand total, same as last week:  35 (7 rides in the bank)

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