Sunday, 9 November 2014

Keep on Truckin'! The drive towards global warming continues, with car sales starting to pick up.

Hello, and welcome to spokeNscene!

After last week's dismal news events, I decided to host a little dinner party mid-week, just to brighten my spirits.  After all, sharing good food with good people is one of life's greatest pleasures, don't you think?  Besides, it is hugely important to celebrate often, just to re-align your frame of mind.  I decided on a hummus and pita starter, rosemary chicken, roast potatoes, and greek salad, and when I went to the shop to pick up cucumber for the salad, I was shocked to find that the price had risen from just over a dollar a little while ago to a whopping $3.75! I keep hearing warnings that broccoli is going to cost seven dollars a pound soon, too. WTF?! News reports say it's because of the drought in California. Climate change. Extreme weather events are happening all over the place in ever increasing frequency, but that doesn't seem to bother anybody here. I used to be proud to be Canadian, but lately?  Not so much.

Even though thinking people the world over have understood and agreed for a good long time now that we simply must curb our polluting, carbon emitting ways, and even though it is fairly obvious that we need to change our uber-consumer habits before climate change becomes disastrous, everybody just continues blithely along on their merry way.  The North American automotive industry was booming this year. That's right.  Sales of new vehicles were up all over the place.  But it's not like everybody got substantial raises over the last few years and decided to treat themselves to a new car with all of the money they put away.  Oh no...

Moody's this week warned that Canadian banks are exposed to some serious risk because of the crazy number of automotive loans Canadians are taking out, and the CBC's morning business consultant, Chris Carter said that we are going into debt en masse to purchase new pick up trucks.  That's right. Canadians are purchasing monster sized new vehicles like never before, and what's worse: they are doing it on credit.

WTF?!  And what really bugs me is that nobody sees even the slightest connection between their dumbass monster truck and the four dollar cucumbers in the supermarket.  Everybody seems to think that changing their habits to prevent a climate change disaster is somebody else's responsibility, that their lifestyle is not at issue, and that they haven't any responsibility for the mess we're in.  And OMG, even if you don't think that carbon is an issue, do you really think that the planet can cope with unlimited emissions?  Does the whole world have to breathe the kind of toxic sludge they try to pass off as air in Beijing before people stop driving fucktardedly huge vehicles around town?!  It doesn't take long in a closed environment with your beloved pick up truck idling before you are no more.  Exactly how many billions of cars and city dwelling pick up trucks do you think this closed atmospheric system can handle?

Kissing clean air goodbye.  Giving it the boot.

For the last few years, Canadian banks have raked in record profits.  Billions and billions of dollars in profit, every single one of them. Scotia bank, for example, scored a record $6.7 billion in profits in 2013, a mere five years after we the taxpayers BAILED them OUT and yet they have just announced that they are cutting 1500 jobs. How greedy can you possibly GET? Someone explained to me that it is because their insitiutional investors insist on a certain level of performance (read growth), but that brings us right back to the argument that infinite growth on a finite planet is a business model which doomed to fail.

So... the banks are offering low price, long term car loans to lure apathetic, complacent, carbon emitting Canadians into buying the massive SUV or pick-up truck of their dreams, and then the cheeky bastards have turned around and sacked plenty of those very same citizens, leaving them unable to repay their debts. Takes a lot of balls, that.  Heyyyyy I know!  We should call them Scrotia Bank.

And are all of those big trucks really making people happy? Ha!!  That's a joke.  Um, I think not.

The other day I was riding down Cypress Avenue bike route toward First, when a big truck kept gunning to get by me, even though the speed limit is 30 km/hr along that stretch. I was travelling downhill on hefty Bea bike, where gravity is my friend, so I was cruising along at a good clip IN the BIKE LANE, and was in fact travelling faster than he was. Never mind that by law, when I am travelling at the speed limit, I am allowed to take the whole lane, and not just half of it, but I didn't get greedy for space the way he did.  I stayed in the bike lane. Still.  He was foiled in his attempts to pass me again and again by the traffic coming up the hill in the other lane, because he had to yeild to the cars coming in the opposite direction, whereas I was permitted to pass, using the little bike lane work around. He was furious. Fuming. Just like his smelly truck. That's a great way to exhaust yourself. He looked pretty monstrous himself, getting his hate-on in that massive beast of a vehicle. (OMG! That's it! It's probably a phenomenon similar to the one where people resemble their pets, or their life-long partners!  That must be why there are so many monster sized Canadians fuming in their butt-ugly, monster sized motor-vehicles.)

Anyway, he made his anger clear by driving into the bike lane and pulling to a stop just before First Avenue, blocking over half of the bicucle access with his massive truck.  But he only blocked half of it, and I am pretty comfortable in tight spaces, even though Bea bike is a wide load, so I cruised right past him anyway, with the wind in my hair and a smile in my face.  Man oh man did that piss him off.  He caught up to me a couple of blocks later, and laid on the horn as he sped past me, to which I replied with a smile and the middle finger salute.  When we were both stopped at the next light, he rolled down his window to say "Genius move, you fucking twat."  Again, I laughed, because he looked funny all red and apoplectic like that, though I can't see him living long, bless his hatred filled heart. I've had lots of guys chat me up from inside their vehicles before, but this definitely wasn't a pick-up line! Ironic, too, him calling me a twat, when he was the one with the long box. Still chuckling, I told him that he should go back to school, since he obviously can't read the picture signs painted all over the road.  And then I suggested to him that the next time he wants to drive in the bike lane, maybe he should get off of his fat ass and onto a bike.

After all, you know my motto:  Use Your Ass, Not Gas! Though, come to think of it, maybe some bicycles are a little more gas powered than you'd like to think...

You see, this is a great town in so many ways, but even here, people refuse to take any responsibility for the state of affairs in our own neighbourhood.  Because of the ungodly price of real estate, and because ours is a fairly temperate climate, (at least by Canadian standards) Vancouver has a serious homelessness issue. And Mayor Moonbeam, our very own cycling advocate, may well lose his mayorality because he tried to do something  about it.

Housing is a basic human right, and homeless people have half the life expectancy as those with homes, but Mayor Robertson is being villified for trying to address the issue. None of the civic parties up for election has a great solution, but at this point, we have to do something. Anything.  It's madness. Here in Canada, one of the G8 countries with more wealth than most places on earth, one in five children live below the poverty line, and the situation is worst in BC. But somehow it seems that most Canadians who are really well-off are also completely cut off from any social conscience; they are sadly lacking in any sort of moral fibre. 

For example, that plotz currently holding title as the govenor of the Bank of Canada, Mr Poloz, suggested this week that graduates and students who can't find work should instead work for free.  I have to wonder just how willing he would be to model the behaviour he is suggesting. Or maybe he could donate his salary to the poor here in Vancouver to help house them. He and the head of Scrotia bank alike.  Between the two of them, they could build some bridges between the haves and the have nots, and in so doing, improve a lot of lives.

But I'm not holding my breath. History will judge us by how well we treat the less fortunate amongst us, and I'm afraid Canadians won't be sitting pretty.  Still, we have to do what we can to make ours a better place to live in.  And there IS some light at the end of the tunnel.

So... take a deep breath, hop on your bike, and join me on the road to world peace. Some people are already on it.  Like the Phil, the fit appliance repairman. Or like Russell, the Tikki Tikki pedi-cabbie, a bright guy who has travelled around the world for seven years, offering a lift to weary pedestrians...

It's not an impossible dream, you know, the bike path to world peace. If we each do what we can, and if we take it one day at a time, then some how, some way, together we'll get there.


  1. Babble Podium!! XXX O !

    I am all for the fight on airborn particulates. That is how the density issue exacerbates vehicular byproducts. Wipe your moisturized and manicured index finger on your favourite piece of infrastructure... even after a good rainstorm. Turbine and gasoline engine byproducts are coating the city and ... the lungs causing an insidious breakdown of ourselves.
    Love to see more electrics out there. And the best ones, 2 wheeled self propelled.



    1. :D XX
      There are two issues with electric vehicles, though. One is the vehicle's powerful electromagnetic field, though why it is a problem is worthy of a whole 'nother post. The other is more insidious, and that is the question of where the electricity to charge the car comes from. Because it hardly seems any greener if you're charging your car off of a coal fired power plant, does it? I get that they may well be more efficient, but the issue remains, and it's magnified when you put millions upon millions of them out on the roads.

    2. Uh Oh! Electromagnetic field? Is that like hiding my cell fone in the nether regions??? !!!! I think you have a point there!!

      A poster on a fishing website I read has a Chevy volt and says his home solar panels get the car to a good state of charge on most days.
      Niagara gives us a lot of juice.

      Issues of car and battery production / recycling will nag us for a while tis true.
      Have all your kids before you get the Tesla?? Hmmm.
      Saw an article before about how coal miners are needing to find new jobs from decreased demand.
      Yes, scaling up will be difficult to face.
      Tyres and brakes generate a lot of nasty things to breathe as well.

      But I was on the bike today and that's makes Monday not as bad!


    3. Doh! Of course, you're right! The batteries. I forgot all about the batteries. And the tyre issue plagues us cyclists, too...

    4. A couple notes:

      The electromagnetic fields from an electric car are probably less significant than the electromagnetic fields coming off of telephone pole transformers which you see all over the city. While I'm not going to flat out deny that these could cause problems, the fact is regular cars already generate large EMFs and we are literally inundated with them every day all day as it is, in city life. Also, the field producers (mostly motor inverters) are well sheilded to prevent interference with the vehicle controllers and communications, which would be a real problem were the fields too substantial. I don't think it's a serious concern.

      Centralized power production has far more potential to be made environmentally friendly in that the emissions and pollution can be handled in ways that would be impossible for smaller systems (aka car engines). The energy has to come from somewhere, but electricity has the huge advantage of being sourcable from many different sources (solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, hydro, coal, natural gas, nuclear) giving flexibility in how we evolve that infrastructure. In contrast, a gasoline engine runs only on gasoline, so you're stuck with it.

      Finally, battery technology has made massive leaps and bounds in efficiency, and manufacturability over the past 15 years. They will likely continue getting better, and someday someone is going to figure out good recycling methods and/or more readily available materials to get the job done.

      Bikes are hands down the best option for urban transport environmentally and efficiency wise. That being said, electric cars really are great news, as many people cannot or will not ride bikes. Need to stay positive on improvements rather than focussing on the narrow ideal!

    5. Thanks. Interesting to note about the shielding. I am looking forward to using electric transit. A couple of the partners of the Bryant Park Grill in NYC have 2. Really cool to see them go by... totally quiet and look really well made I think they are "Zeros" (?).

      Way way waayyy off the field, I wonder if we will ever be able to extract any usable power from lightning. Totally intermittent and unpredictable but when it strikes it so full of energy.

      Best of luck,


    6. Thanks, anonyinformed. It's an improvement, it's true. I would oh so much rather be riding my bicycle on roads chocka block with electric vehicles than gasoline powered ones. I just wish that the jump had been made to hydrogen fuel cells instead.

    7. vsk - um, anything is possible?

  2. il Pirata est Mort10 November 2014 at 06:31

    Decades ago things were worse. I remember reading from a friend's letter "My breatheing is better since moving out of London. My snot is no longer black."

    My hope is for a clean replacement to the gas powered engine. My gut feeling is that coal powered electric cars and bikes isn't the end game. Probably take another hundred years to figure it out. Necessity is the mother of invention and all...

    1. Yes, because most of us won't change unless we absolutely have to! And that's funny, because everytime we went on the tube when I lived just outside London a few years ago, we came home with black snot. So the black snot zone is shrinking, anyway.

  3. "fucktardedly" word of the week :)
    Electromagnetic fields are very low on my list of things to worry about, much lower than the price of cucumbers and the reasons for it.
    While the internal combustion engine is towards the end of development, electric vehicles have really only just started. With regenerative and magnetic braking the brake dust will reduce; replaced with more EMF. Electricity supply and battery technology (or energy storage systems) will advance. It will all "take off" when the people getting fat on the cash from the car industry start to get a piece of the electric vehicle industry.
    Of course the "root cause" of all the cucumber and cars issues is the mindless pursuit of infinite growth. The earth can't provide enough cucumbers to keep everyone smiling :)
    Keep on peddling, babbling, and go easy on the cucumbers !

    1. Lol! The root cause...

      We are inflicted by the mindless pursuit of infinite growth as a fundamental global policy and way of life, no less...

      What would our world look like if we instead rewarded those companies who actually made a large number of people's lives better for the long haul? They say that if you can imagine it, then you can create it, but it's a big stretch. That would mean a corporate world with an eye toward the future, instead of the end of the next quarter.

    2. End of the NEXT quarter.. yeh I wish.
      I'm struggling to get past the end of next week.

  4. Hey Babs,

    I will need to use both "fucktard" and "fucktardedly" much more in the coming years. It connotes both stupid and offensive.

    There's no way to phrase this without being a "fucktard" so I'll just ask. In Vancouver, do they use the American or British definition of "twat". It's important to know this to fully appreciate your story.

    Your post is a good one. Now that the Republican "fucktards" have Congress, we will need some more rage. Keep on rockin'.

    1. Right?! I was saddened by the results of your election, because now your president's hands are truly tied.

      And judging by the venom in that man's voice, he meant it in the most American sense, but you know how much I love mine, so I took it in the British way. With a smile! :D

  5. Love that term from Velominati Rule #10 .............Sur La Plaque, fucktards. However, Rule #5 is my favorite!

    1. Yup. Big and hard is the only way to go... :)

  6. I love to see a fellow cyclist making the best use of their equipment!

  7. Hey Babs,

    I noted similarities between Bono's injuries and yours. Were you still clipped in when you hit the pavement? Are clipless pedals a liability in panic situations?


    1. I don't think they made a whit of difference. I was clipped in until I caught the wheel and went over the handlebars. Soon as I did, they must have released, because the bike definitely didn't land with me. And I didn't have time to panic, it was all over so fast.

    2. Bono's account was that he was avoiding a cyclist going the wrong way. This implies he did have time to react. Yet he still face planted. I can't help wondering if he got unclipped in time. You don't clip in unless you are racing, correct? Otherwise you wear heels. It's a fair question whether or not clipless pedal and cleats are safe for riding in mixed traffic.

    3. Any question is a fair question, really. And I wear whatever I am wearing that day whenever I ride the Amsterdam, so yes, it is usually heels. But I have to ride Ti Baby in plenty of traffic, because we can't get to the best training roads without riding through the city, so it sees plenty of traffic, and there are as many instances which require me to think quickly on it as there are on the Amsterdam, and the clipless pedals don't impact my reactions.
      Clipping out comes naturally pretty quickly so that it really doesn't take any measurable amount of time, nor do you have to think about it, once it becomes habit. But we don't know how much time he had to react, really. Who knows? Maybe he had been looking the other way till the last minute, or maybe the guy swerved at the wrong time, or maybe he had just rounded a corner. The possibilities are endless... and given the seriousness of Bono's injuries, I find it very doubtful that clipping out could have changed anything. Clearly he was moving at a high rate of speed, because you can't break your scapula without a lot of force, way more than a slow moving accident can account for. As I mentioned on snobber's comment section, the doctors told me it is the hardest bone in your body to break, and normally the scapula injuries they see come from pedestrians hit by cars, and people crashing their motorcycles.
      The clips might even spare a few collarbones, in fact. Last year I came across a guy whose foot slipped into the spokes and caused him to do an endo and break his collarbone...

    4. Just food for thought.