Re: Help me, science nerds!

1

Only on a treadmill.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:51 PM
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It makes sense, actually.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:53 PM
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Only a little tiny bit; on a bike with a rear derailleur, some of your pedal energy is going to be lost to flexing the (spring loaded) tension pullley (I think it's called), which is necessary to keep the chain tight. But (a) holy unbelievably minimal effect and (b) you only have one gear, which tends to decrease actual efficiency of muscular exertion on hills, dimwit on Caltrain.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:54 PM
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I believe Sifu Tweety is correct.

The other argument that I have heard for increased efficiency on a single-speed is that the gears can be lined up horizontally, so that the chain is straight rather than slightly diagonal. This is supposed to improve the feel of the ride noticeably, but I think t would also have a minimal affect on efficiency.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:58 PM
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There are plenty of people who claim the effect is not minimal. It seems plausible, you've got two more bearings in the idler pulleys, hysteresis in the derailleur spring, and another 300 degrees of chain bend. It'd be reasonable to expect at least twice as much chain power loss.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:59 PM
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Track bikes, which don't involve riding on hills, are generally fixed gear. Racing bikes, which do, never are. So that's some anecdata for you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:00 PM
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5: but the chains are designed to deal with some flex, bearings are awfully high tech these days, and there's so many other points (frame geometry, kinesthetics, tires, commitment to regular maintenance) to introduce inefficiency at that it's really hard for me to imagine it makes such a huge difference for the average rider.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:02 PM
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What kind of bike did Seinfeld ride, anyway?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:03 PM
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8: Klein.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:04 PM
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Much single-speed nerdery is simply a cultural reaction to the mainstreaming of high-quality, well-engineered bikes with a lot of gears. It's a bit like people who consciously turn away from computers or other consumer electronics and organize everything on index cards or notebooks. Generally harmless but sometimes batshit.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:07 PM
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Well, "does it make a huge difference for the average rider" and "is this even approximately true" are completely different questions.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:09 PM
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10: the two things I really like about single speeds are the simplicity and the ability to ride trackstand/ride backwards. Everything else is a bit woo-woo when it comes to daily life. Still they are great fun to ride, and great exercise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:09 PM
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11: okay, fine, comity. Jerk.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:10 PM
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There's not no lost power, but the speaker could be forgiven for thinking as he did. In addition to their inherent efficiency, fixies tend to be maximally stripped-down, and the lightness helps to make them very responsive.

Was the Garfield reader being ironic, or just a twit in some other way?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:10 PM
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Bicycles with very few moving parts -- and/or very few weather-exposed moving parts -- are delicious. I'd really like to build a cruiser with sealed internal gears in the back and a disc brake in the front. Optimally, it would be a coaster disc brake, so I could keep any levers off the bars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:12 PM
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the lightness helps to make them very responsive.

Until you get to a hill.

I keed, I keed.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:12 PM
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Yeah, not to pile on Sifu, but fixie riders are like Red Sox fans. "Yes. They're great. You're very special. But christ, shut up already."

[/ducks, runs away]


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:14 PM
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17: I don't actually own a fixed gear. Can I pile, too?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:16 PM
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Yes!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:17 PM
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Was the Garfield reader being ironic, or just a twit in some other way?

He seemed to really think it was great.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:17 PM
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Sex on a fixie would be extremely difficult, I imagine. Sex on a fixie on rollers, more difficult still, but awe-inspiringly impressive.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:18 PM
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Single-speed and fixed-gear are also not the same thing. I agree regarding the hills bit, but I have to say that I'm impressed by my co-worker who rode south on Divisadaero/Castro street from Haight to Cesar Chavez yesterday. Topo map.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:18 PM
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17: Hey, neither do I. Suck it, fixie owners.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:19 PM
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The power loss due to chain is so small it's irrelevant. They are a little bit lighter, which is more significant. The main benefit is less crap to break, a bit quieter, and a bit more responsive. Over variable terrain, a geared bike is (obviously) more efficient as an entire system.

Fixies are nice, look clean, and are easier to maintain, but any efficiency argument for them is bunk.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:22 PM
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22: indeed not. I do own a single-speed. Huffy. BMX. From the eighties. Baby.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:22 PM
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20: Maybe he's starting garfieldexplained.blogspot.com?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:22 PM
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Can't speak to that url, AWB, but the concept is pretty much taken.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:23 PM
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I actually liked that Garfield. I blame the lack of people cultivating my tastes.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:25 PM
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On the bike weight thing, I am now back to the point where I am carrying the equivalent of another one of my bikes on the ride. Sad. And yet I have run in to fatasses on the trail rhapsodizing about how some new saddle or fork saved them like 20oz of bike weight.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:27 PM
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Whoah. I thought AWB was joking, but no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:27 PM
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"Fellow fatasses" I should say.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:28 PM
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32

That Garfield is really pretty funny.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:29 PM
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30 is terribly sad, if read the right way.

29 days until john finally kills himself.

Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:31 PM
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32: even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:31 PM
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30: I was kidding, but through the magic of the internets, I think of things and they come into being. Unfortunately, Alex Biggs quit fighting the good fight just a few days after he began. Was he sued by the Marmaduke guy? Did he discover he'd accidentally replicated a previous service provided by another lonely soul? THE WORLD MAY NEVER KNOW.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:36 PM
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35: Permanent Monday reallly does have that beat covered pretty well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:37 PM
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I should here inform the world that my grandfather was the world's first explainer of Marmaduke. He included an explication of a Marmaduke strip at every holiday meal, after the prayer, up until his death ten years ago. His readings of Marmaduke were nuanced, thoughtful, and remarkably compassionate for a guy who never owned a dog.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:40 PM
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The interesting thing about the bike chain thing is that chains are already insanely efficient for transfering power - it's not a lack of ingenuity that has left them as the drivetrain of choice after 130 years. Also, a lubed chain is no more efficient (in the short term) - all the lube does is keep out dirt and reduce wear, but any crappy old chain works just as well so long as it isn't seized.

And Ned is right at 32. Garfield's final line is empathetic yet dark - it could almost be a Peanuts line.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:40 PM
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Is this the same guy who remixed Garfield strips to remove all of Garfield's dialogue, so the new version read like a mentally ill, existentially tortured man talking to his cat?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:41 PM
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39 that was thirty nine and one half million times better than the original strip.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:42 PM
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Hey Tweety, the Steelers are up 35-7 at the half; should they pull Roethlisburger in the fourth if it's only, say, 49-14 at the time? Or would that be showing weakness?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:42 PM
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I think it's a different guy. Existential Jon guy was funny. This is Marmaduke Explained, but duller.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:43 PM
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38: I dunno, have you ever tried to bend a really old chain?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:44 PM
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And GO STEELERS!!!!! QUOTH THE RAVEN WAH WAH WAH.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:44 PM
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I don't think you people appreciate the existential depth of Garfield, even if Ambrose Bierce did it first.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:45 PM
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41: how dare you criticize the Steelers? They're a tribute to the honest American workingman whatever they do. Not like those effete New England snobs that cheated their way to being far and away the best team in the NFL for most of the past decade.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:45 PM
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Also, earlier this year, the youngest calasis was freaking out that perhaps these would be the Steelers' permanent uniforms, and omigod, they were ugly, and then she wouldn't want to wear those jersey to her game day things.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:46 PM
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44: Oh how I wish I had cable.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:46 PM
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Hey, Pittsburgh will stop milking the blue collar thing when yinz guys figure out the steel mills closed in '79 and that the city is clean and livable.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:47 PM
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I dunno, have you ever tried to bend a really old chain?

Well, as I said, it doesn't apply to seized chain. But a dry chain doesn't harm efficiency. Now that's counterintuitive, not "I dislike [cultural touchstone]."

When I was in college we had a running discussion of things that were overrated but still actually good. At the time U2 made the cut. This was at a time when they still recorded music, you understand.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:04 PM
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I've been experimenting with fixed-gear bikes for about fifteen years now. Those who speak of the efficiency gains being small are right if the point of comparison is two systems, well maintained and lubricated and of roughly equal quality. But the extent to which the chain bends when a dirrailleur gear system is on a chainwheel that does not line up with a sprocket, and tension is put on each link, and the chain plates have to rub against each other, makes a difference in energy loss and responsiveness you can definitely feel. Add to that the multiplier you get of all these losses when the lubrication on the chain is not complete, fresh and clean. The lack of this twisting on a chainline that more-or-less lines the sprocket up with the chainwheel, and you see how the lubrication factor is much less critical.

The real reason why dedicated cyclists often trained on fixed-gear throughout the hundred or so years of the modern bicycle's existence, despite riding derrailleurs in road races, is that it trains the rider in a smooth and even pedal motion all the way around, and the lack of costing means your integration and need for continuance smooth motion is immediately brought home to you. I became a vastly better rider after training on a fixed, because gears and coasting hide a multitude of mistakes and faults.

My everyday bike is a Schwinn Continental, from the seventies. The frame and components, despite the old-style American Ashtabula crank, are light and strong. The most heavy, inefficient and obsolete parts of the bike were the gear system. By eliminating them, from shifters and cables to extra chainwheel and bolts and derrailleur mechanisms and extra feet of chain, I cut many pounds off its weight and picked up an everyday, low-maintenance efficiency, and yes, it looks better. A fixed is more efficient still, because the ratchet mechanism in the freewheel is also an energy consumer, and is very sensitive to lubrication.

Mine is a single-speed, that is it freewheels, permits me to stop pedaling and coast, but I find that the fixed habits persist, I just have the extra safety of the freewheel for city streets. The chainline is carefully alligned, and everything is simple and light.

Now, the fact that I've experimented and lived this for years might make me an evangelist for it, but in fact what you heard the guy saying on the phone is as annoying to me as to you, because so much of what he's saying is unlikely to have been felt and is so much fashion and attitude.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:05 PM
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I love my (everyday) bicycle, and it has TWELVE WHOLE GEARS!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:10 PM
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I've also ridden it for years in every kind of weather, including as a messenger, and never had any serious maintenance problems. Yes, though, the cadence issues are a real benefit of fixed gears. I don't coast that much, but if I road a fixed gear I would obviously coast less.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:11 PM
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51: This is an old training trick, true ... I wonder if it is as useful these days with fully clip pedals, which tend to train you into a nice circular motion anyways (and the efficiency gains of the clip pedal have to be an order of magnitude larger than fixed vs. derailleur). Of course, I'm only considering well maintained drivetrains of whatever type. Fixed and/or single definitely fall down compared to gears on mixed terrain, just because there is a fairly narrow region of maximally efficient spin .... but that's system efficiency, not just bike.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:12 PM
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51/53: fwiw, most of the roadies I knew used rollers to work on cadence.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:13 PM
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Speaking of bikes, you may have noticed that the NYT is once again trumpeting the virtues of the Rose City.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:14 PM
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If I rode a fixed gear, for fuck's sake.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:14 PM
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56: omerta is not an optional thing, JMQ.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:15 PM
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Toe clips go without saying at the level of riding I'm talking about.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:15 PM
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59: toe clips are deprecated, old timer. Contra you and I, the kids have rolled clipless for many, many years. I took off my clipless because they interfered with my footwear choice, but that's just me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:17 PM
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I do many things old-fashioned, as ought to be obvious by now. I look for stiff shoes, but ones I can comfortably walk in if need be.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:20 PM
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59: That's not what I meant. I mean that full clips (ones you can pull up on) are relatively recent. For many decades, people said that training on a fixed wheel was good for the reason you state. The point I brought up was that a) proper clips already train you into a smoother cycle, and b) these days for most of the people I knew doing this, riding their geared bikes on (modern, very low friction) rollers replaced any training they might have done on fixed for the purpose


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:21 PM
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and by full clips, I mean the same thing as clipless, natch. I don't know anyone who actually uses `toe clips'. And the efficiency gain I was referring to was between `toe clips' and clipless/whatever pedals. There is a real gain there, and I believe it is much, much bigger than anything you can do with gearing vs. fixed.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:23 PM
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You want single speed? Here's one from about 1950.

The thing must have weighed almost as much as I did but it lasted forever, whereas the few kids with the fancy "English racing bikes" (mostly three speeds) were always having to stop to fix something or the other.

There was no front brake on that thing which made emergency stops interestingly long.



Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:24 PM
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63: aside from me, that is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:24 PM
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I like to get out in the air, and ride well into the winter. I'm not training seriously for competition, just enjoyment. I like having made and modified and maintained my own equipment. And I love folkways. I'd drink beer while riding, and share a cigarette before climbs, like the old-timers, willingly enough.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:28 PM
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66: nothing wrong with that IDP. Don't read me wrong, I was just musing about efficiency. Also wondering why although I had heard the conventional wisdom about training on fixed wheels, I don't recall anyone actually doing it (and I knew some serious roadies). Rollers clean up your mechanics pretty quick, because if you are jerky at all you fall off them and hurt yourself.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:30 PM
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65: Me too. I wish I could find shoes with the hardware that didn't look like crap.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:31 PM
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65: I gave up. Carried and extra pair, when I was needing them tooling around town (usually sandals)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:33 PM
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I like this new game! It's called, Baltimore gets the ball, and Pittsburgh eats their quarterback!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:35 PM
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69: I have some old Campy clips that are very, very tight on my feet. Obviously not the same as clipless, but good enough for me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:36 PM
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Growing up I had my dad's old bicycle, an old black single-speed Schwinn that weighed about four hundred pounds. I wanted something flashier at the time, but I think I should borrow it next time I visit.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:38 PM
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Cruisers are great fun. I was telling [ MMM HMM ] about my idea for a combination recumbent/low-rider with super wide tires. If I had a diagram, you know I'd share it with y'all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:39 PM
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71: That could work.

I really wasn't being `down' on clips earlier, just musing about the effect on mechanics that having power transfer (almost) all the way around makes. Of course, from a performance point of view the differences are very small --- something you'd care about as a serious competitor but not anywhere else. Same thing with efficiency of transfer through a fix vs. derail. , it is very very small. Not that there aren't other reasons to like it.

sigh. i really need to get riding again. this is a terrible city for it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:40 PM
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I miss my bike. It is several thousand miles away from me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:41 PM
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My aunt and uncle bike to work in Houston. People there think they're crazy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:41 PM
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I finally got biking sandals this fall - they look like any sporty sandals (it's ok, I'm already married), but are stiff with cleats. This was especially necessary to me after I ruined a nice leather pair of sandals by commuting in them - cracked the footbed from flex.

I've seen a few pairs of bike shoes that look more or less like Skechers or whatever. I find that MTB shoes look tolerably like sneakers - if I'm doing errands, I don't think I look like Biker Man. But I tell you what - after 4 years with cleats, I can hardly ride without them - I find myself lifting my foot off the pedal when I accelerate. I actually like borrowing my wife's very girly cruiser for quick runs to the store - the geometry makes very clear to my body that I will not be jackrabbiting any lights. Plus, you know, wicker basket and bell.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:42 PM
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77: I love having a basket and bell.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:43 PM
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OT, but Olbermann was fantastic tonight.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:43 PM
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Are you in Houston, soup, or am I misreading teo's 76?

Sifu - I was going to say that you could presumably find a cheap beater, but I realize that the emphasis is on "my bike." Sad.

Also, on your wacky idea - how much would this resemble A. an Elektra, with its down-and-back seat position, or B. those chopper-looking bikes the kids are riding now?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:45 PM
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Anyone else wondering why ben didn't capitalize Palo Alto?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:45 PM
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If you had one of these, Sifu, you could take it wherever you went.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:48 PM
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80: my wacky idea would involve a recumbent-style seat sitting in front of a large, cruiser style rear wheel, very close to the ground with another large, cruiser style front wheel someplace way forward and seriously canted ape-hanger bars, if that makes sense. basically take a cruiser and stretch it out and drop the seat between the wheels, then change the seat/bottom bracket configuration to match a recumbent's.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:48 PM
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I love having a basket and bell.

I just discovered last weekend that the 25yo Schwinn I'm planning on rehabbing to be a tourer/commuter/beater doesn't have attachment points for a kid's bike seat or panniers. I'm not really sure what to do about it - I have a nice new road bike, but I also have all the relevant components from my late, lamented 30yo Fuji.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:48 PM
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My bicycle that I am missing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:49 PM
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83: Would it be very different from just putting big-ass wheels and a stylin' bar on a recumbent? Because that's what I'm picturing.

If only there were some way to transmit images over the computer.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:50 PM
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86: not hugely different, but to fit the wheels you'd have to stretch things out a bit. Also, I would want curved frame tubes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:51 PM
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Wow - nice bike. A buddy of mine recently came across an old bike for sale with a full Campy set for like $300 - the components were literally worth more than the asking price. I don't know if he got it - he already has a couple well-appointed old road bikes, plus a plethora of other vehicles.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:54 PM
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The lamest thing aesthetically about bents is the 30' long chain. Come up with a clean solution for that, and dorky guys with bad knees will beat a path to your door.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:55 PM
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88: that's how much I paid. It's pretty amazing how cheaply you can get old steel Italian bikes for.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:56 PM
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89: driveshaft@!!#!@#

Yeah I hadn't really planned that out, I suppose. You could use a big bottom tube and a secondary linkage gear dude (don't know the technical term) so you could fit the chains in the tube, I suppose.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:57 PM
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Put a roof on it and the chain could run over and under.

It's pretty amazing how cheaply you can get old steel Italian bikes for.

I swear to god that 10-15% of the bikes at Crit Mass around here are Motobecanes. It's like there was a container of them smuggled in from somewhere.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:05 PM
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92: so yeah if you took this, moved the seat as far down as you could without hitting the chain (maybe a "transmisssion bump" in the seat?) and put super fat 24" tires on both axles, you'd be getting closer to what I want. Then, stage 2 is an internally geared 7 speed hub on the back wheel and a disc brake (with some kind of ridiculous coaster brake-like mechanism instead of a brake lever) on the front wheel, and then? Well. Then you'd really have something.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:08 PM
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I want one of these. More weight and less efficiency just means more exercise, and look at all that cargo room!

I'm not sure why I prefer the fronted configuration , but I do, although the other one has some things to recommend it. And apropos of nothing buccept maintaining my rep, when I was in China every city had a different preferred model of biketruck/pedicab configuration (cargo or passengers in front, or in back, or on the left side or the right side, covere or not, etc.)


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:08 PM
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93: You need to procurer that thing out with a chrome chain link steering wheel, my whizzle.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:11 PM
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95: I feel that you feel me on this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:12 PM
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94: So cool. My neighbors across the street have a '60s trishaw from Singapore. WANT WANT WANT. This book has great photos of many different styles in use from China to India.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:18 PM
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Anyone else wondering why ben didn't capitalize Palo Alto?

Maybe he was on his way to a tall tree.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:19 PM
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procurer that thing out

LOL

my whizzle

Now that's a bit much.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:19 PM
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94: If I were a better man, I'd dig up the link, but... You can buy some sort of Amsterdam-style front-loaded cargo bike for like $4k (?) - the cargo box is actually boxy, not just a frame, IIRC. Actually my aforementioned buddy could probably wrassle up a link in sconds, but he ain't here....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:23 PM
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Maybe he was on his way to a tall tree.

That's what I was thinking.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:27 PM
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People come up with stores of how the world works based on what can explain why they are awesome. They don't come up with theories about how the world works with a goal of accuracy.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:52 PM
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You guys are making me feel wasteful and extravagant for spending a bunch of money on a pretty nice bike (if it's not clear from the second link, I'm referring to the first one on that page. Mine's blue, not black and same components as pictured except it has a crappy pair of clipless pedals that my friend no longer wanted attached to the cranks instead of nothing) except that which I only used seriously in 2003 and 2004, and even then my "seriously" was probably less use than many/all of you currently get. I still like it a lot, and it's great for e.g. laps of central park, but I really don't use it enough.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:15 PM
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That's okay, w/d. My bike is way radder than yours.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:19 PM
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That's okay, w/d. My bike is way radder than yours.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:19 PM
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Way way radder radder.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:20 PM
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Sifu, I'm anti-bragging, which feels similar to kidding on the square. If my bike were for some reason better, I'd feel worse. So thanks!


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:23 PM
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107: it is worse! So feel better! Why do you mock me?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:25 PM
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Your bike is a million times better than mine, w/d, so you can feel bad about that if you like.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:37 PM
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I don't even have a bike.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:38 PM
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I don't have a bike that has a tv on the handlebars.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 11:39 PM
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100: You can buy some sort of Amsterdam-style front-loaded cargo bike for like $4k

Like these, you mean? A yuppie version of the old delivery bikes?

I hate those, cause every mid-thirties black framed glasses wearing just starting a family trendoid in Amsterdam has one, with little kid in front.

You could tell Holland is flat, since single speed bikes, usually with backbrakes, are still the norm here.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:54 AM
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I took off my clipless because they interfered with my footwear choice

I just put some nice mallet pedals with clipless in the middle on my mt bike. Great for any footwear, and essential b/c I've been falling on my ass doing wheelies way to much.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 4:38 AM
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Also, my unicycle is fixie with no chain. But no one would accuse it of efficiency.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 4:38 AM
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I find it funny that riding fixed gears is hip in the United States. We have a slightly different use for them in Europe.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:30 AM
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would a fixed gear help with the deadspots in pedaling? It seems like the momentum of the rear wheel ought to help push your feet past the top and bottom of the crank. But I've never ridden a fixed gear, so I have no idea. But the last hour record was set by someone riding a track bike with an enormously heavy rear wheel (3+ kg) to store momentum. Of course, if you have to go up and down hills, or stop and start, it would be murder on your legs.


Posted by: Brian Ledford | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:37 AM
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I bought my bike used a few years ago. It still cost three times as much as the (POS) car I owned at the time.


Posted by: Kieran | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:49 AM
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I find it funny that riding fixed gears is hip in the United States. We have a slightly different use for them in Europe.

Fucking! I guessed, right?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:51 AM
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You could tell Holland is flat, since single speed bikes, usually with backbrakes, are still the norm here.

I went on a Dutch girl one time who rode one of those all-black WWII-vintage clunkers (we saw the silent film version of Joan of Arc, the one with Renee Falconetti in the title role, in an old church with the musical accompaniment on the church organ--teh awesome).

Afterwards she gave me a ride home on the back of her bike. Rolling over cobblestone streets, the comfort level was comparable to riding in an M-1 Abrams, but man was that thing solid!

I thought of this the other day when Brock was advocating for the possibility of sex on a bicycle. If you were going to try it, this would be your bike. (For the record, I didn't get so much as a good night kiss out of the evening, so further speculation is entirely unwarranted.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:05 AM
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I went on a Dutch girl one time

Well, Holland is famously tolerant of sexual perversion.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:20 AM
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Paranoid enough yet?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:54 AM
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"I went on a Dutch girl" s/b "I went on a date with a Dutch girl. Cut and paste error.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:57 AM
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re: 121

That's a 3 year old article.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:03 AM
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I knew most of that stuff in 2004, too, and tried to publicize it, but it apparently just now reached Atrios. It's timely because of Musharraf's coup.

There's never been the will to really investigate what happened. The 9/11 report has a lot of obvious loose ends, and no one seems to have bother to read it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:08 AM
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Kieran, sweet ride. All those pics of the components make it look like you're selling it. Or maybe they're from when you bought it.

I love my blur.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:09 AM
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94: Those things are really common here in Santiago. I am continually impressed by the scrawny old guys powering up the mountainside with a heavy load. I've also seen many of them modified into food-service carts. I should take some pictures.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:15 AM
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re: 126

Those scrawny old guys, along with cockroaches, are the only things that will survive a nuclear war.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:19 AM
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re: 124

I knew some of it but not all. The name of Sibel Edmonds is new to me. In fact, I probably read that article at the time but had forgotten a bit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:20 AM
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Re: 124. There was a line in that article that was the 13th chime of the clock for me: when it credulously reports that KSM probably personally killed Daniel Pearl, but will never be brought to trial for it because of all he might reveal. I find it far more plausible that KSM confessed to Pearl's murder under torture, but didn't actually do it. Pearl's widow apparently thinks the same.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:24 AM
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re: 129

Meacher has written some articles that are a little credulous about a number of 'conspiratorial' claims. He's also written a fair bit that seems reasonable and probably stands up.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:26 AM
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Only 300 bucks for a new one. I have never seen one that looks less than 10 years old, though. And they're always single-speed.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:28 AM
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The thing that struck me about the piece is that none of it has been publicly discussed. Some things have gotten a single mention in the big media before disappearing, some no mention at all. The information is in some respect out there, but anyone who keeps talking about it is tarred as a conspiracy theorist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:41 AM
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re: 132

Yeah. Some of the more conspiratorial* allegations crop up occasionally in the British papers but not in a sustained way. The alleged 'murder' of Dr David Kelly received more attention than most, but it seems to have faded from view, too.

* I'm not using conspiratorial in a pejorative sense, here. I think the media 'allergy' to conspiracy theories is pernicious rather than helpful.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:44 AM
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Some of the more conspiratorial allegations crop up occasionally in the British papers but not in a sustained way

My rule of thumb is never to believe anything written in a British newspaper (exception: the FT) until is independently confirmed by an international source. This filter may be overly restrictive at times, but it has generally served me well.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:50 AM
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134: works well for anything originating from fox news, too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:52 AM
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The 9/11 report has a lot of obvious loose ends, and no one seems to have bother to read it.

Re: dissemination, I was intrigued to discover that there is a graphic adaptation (comic-book style) of the 9/11 report. Endorsed by the co-chairs of the commission, even.

Somehow it seemed hopeful, although I haven't actually read either version of the report.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:53 AM
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re: 134

With respect, that rule seems like utter bollocks. Not that British newspapers are infallible, but they aren't any less fallible than the rest.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:57 AM
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My rule of thumb is never to uncritically believe anything written in a British newspaper (exception: the FT) until is independently confirmed by an international source.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:59 AM
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138 seems fair.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:00 AM
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Re: dissemination, I was intrigued to discover that there is a graphic adaptation (comic-book style) of the 9/11 report. Endorsed by the co-chairs of the commission, even

When I read that comment, I reached over and picked it up without leaving my chair; my son has it on his bedside table, and I comment on this blog mostly from his room. It's very nicely done.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:01 AM
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My rule of thumb is never to uncritically believe anything written in a

C sharp, though, is inherently credible.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:03 AM
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I clicked through and looked at a few of the images. They do seem to endorse, how shall I say it, a 'government friendly' version of events.

http://images.amazon.com/images/G/01/books/promos/a-plus/Page-99.big.jpg


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:03 AM
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141 made me smile.

Re: 142, that's where the critical thinking comes in. I think it is almost invariably better to know the government version of events, regardless of whether or not you eventually decide to agree with it. That is just as true for a 15-year-old who can barely remember the Sept. 11 attacks and is going to get his first sustained exposure to the actual events through a comic-book-style government report.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:09 AM
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I know the thread has moved on, but as long as this is nominally a Garfield thread, I might as well post this fabled link.

Thanks to snarkout for posting the "Death of Garfield" link, by the way. I thought I hallucinated those strips as a kid or something.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:10 AM
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Garfield is not funny he is part of the complex apparatus of obfuscation. The numb chuckle, the rest of us fear we are missing something vital and sink deeper into our shells.

The insurgency is determined to destroy Garfield:

http://tshirtinsurgency.com/


Posted by: truggle45 | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:41 AM
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Someone does LOLcat dialogue replacements on Garfield, with results like this. Can't find the original site.
Did anyone ever answer the original question? Dpending on your speed, almost all the resistance of biking comes from air resistance and friction of the wheels. The chain and gears are a very small part of the resistance- The efficiency of energy transfer can be very high (>99%), but the difference in how fast you can go for the same effort depends very little on those components. It's like improving the effeciency of your 747 by kicking the fat guy in 7E off the plane. Oops, analogy. So there might be almost no loss of power in the transmission (although never 0% loss), but there isn't that much loss in a geared bike either. You'd see a much greater improvement by getting narrow racing wheels, disc wheels, or a low resistance outfit and a teardrop helmet.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:52 AM
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Speaking of places where Garfield mailed Nermal, does anyone have any opinion about the quality of life in Abu Dhabi, specifically the cost of living there as it would compare to that of, say, Washington, DC?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:01 AM
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Going somewhere?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:06 AM
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The thing about Meacher, in this context, is that he's not a journalist. You can giggle, but there are reasons that journalists don't like conspiracy theories. We have all been told hundreds, and believed maybe ten, and found three that were true.

The thing about conspiracies is that they don't scale. You can plot in small, coherent systems like offices or political parties. But in the big world there are too many loose ends.

Politicians, and ex pols, like Meacher, will tend to over-estimate conspiracies because they work so much better in politics than elsewhere.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:07 AM
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Not that British newspapers are infallible, but they aren't any less fallible than the rest.

I differ with you there. British papers--tabloids and broadsheets alike--are much more likely to give front page play to thinly sourced or anonymously sourced rumours.

US papers are not guiltless in this regard, but they tend to do it (*cough*Judy Miller*cough*) based on anonymous official sources whose agendas are pretty transparent to the informed reader, whereas British papers will run with stuff that comes totally out of left field.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:17 AM
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or a low resistance outfit and a teardrop helmet

wouldn't it be great if full body lycra and teardrop helmets became the next thing in hipster cred.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:22 AM
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Man, I haven't commented like this in ages. Can you tell the grading is piling up in my inbox?


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:22 AM
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150: KR, please explain what you meant.

Perhaps you could restate it as follows:

"British papers publish both reliable and unreliable stuff from all points of view, whereas American papers fortunately publish reliable and unreliable stuff only from official, centrist, and rightwing points of view.

Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:26 AM
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Politicians, and ex pols, like Meacher, will tend to over-estimate conspiracies because they work so much better in politics than elsewhere.

That seems fair enough. People used to working in milieu that are saturated in conspiracies are going to see them elsewhere, even in areas where they really aren't likely to be effective.

British papers--tabloids and broadsheets alike--are much more likely to give front page play to thinly sourced or anonymously sourced rumours.

It's certainly not been my impression that that's the case. At all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:32 AM
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It isn't really a conspiracy theory. It's saying that there are a lot of loose ends that haven't been followed up, and that a lot of information is deliberately being suppressed. What relation did ISI have with al Qaeda and the Taliban? Why did Mahmoud Ahmed send money to Mohammed Atta? If Omar Sheikh didn't kill Daniel Pearl, who did and why?

None of this was discussed. On the ther hand, we've heard about Mohammed Atta's meeting with Saddam's representative in Prague thousands of times, and plenty of jounralists (not all) played along. (A meeting which may never have taken place at all).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:33 AM
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154: I've heard that covert international operations is another area where conspiracies are frequent and often successful.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:34 AM
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I'm about to run over a deadline, so I don't have time to collect examples, but remind me another time of my debt and I will.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:35 AM
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146: There are a bunch of things going on. Weight does matter, especially on climbs (but only if the weight gain/loss is large relative to your own weight variability). Also, clipless pedals have an actual efficiency gain, as you can power (but less so, of course) through the upward motion.

Narrower and harder wheels make a big difference. In a practical sense, going to discs can be a net loss due to crosswinds, but blades definitely help. Unless it's really windy, then they have the same problem. On the track things are different, of course.

A lot of this stuff really doesn't kick in until you are really, really in shape. At one point, I was riding something like 4-500 km a week. I had a decent but not great bike, and was probably more efficiently using it than ninety-something percent (guessing) of people on bicycles. That other something-percent though? Leave me in the dust without trying. Sure, they are stronger than I, but also significantly more efficient. There is a serious diminishing returns on training like that, because in the end air friction kicks everyones ass ... it has quadratic and cubic terms (or worse) in velocity.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:35 AM
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I also think the allergy to conspiracy theories, while it may well, as Andrew says, be a pretty good rule of thumb is temporarily a bit broken at the moment; when we are faced with the overwhelming evidence of a gigantic conspiracy on the part of the UK and the US to invade Iraq, say.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:36 AM
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Significantly, Sheikh is also the man who, on the instructions of General Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wired $100,000 before the 9/11 attacks to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker. It is extraordinary that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count. Why not?

Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11, and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the hijackers, he was forced to "retire" by President Pervez Musharraf. Why hasn't the US demanded that he be questioned and tried in court?

Unless these facts (from legit journalism) are just plain false, there's something there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:37 AM
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149: And this particular conspiracy theory seems, on its face, dubiously sourced, internally inconsistent, and hyped with information that, upon close examination, appears irrelevant.

To pick a fact I thought was checkable, I tried to find the report of the $100,000 from Ahmed to Sheikh to Atta. Meacher represents it as a proven fact, but (as best as I can reckon) the accusation originates with the government of India.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:39 AM
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159 pwn'd by 154.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:39 AM
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153: I do have this impression. It's not that I think that the amount of reliable information in a US newspaper is higher than in a UK newspaper, but that US papers are much more likely to be holding closely to the conventional wisdom/government party line and so forth. So they're full of bullshit, but it's dull, expected bullshit -- Judy Miller's stories about seeing Iraqi scientists point to dirt that's going to turn out to be chemical weapons. A genuinely interesting story in a US newspaper, I figure is rock solid, because it'd never make it through the filters if there was anything wrong with it.

UK newspapers seem not less reliable, but less well controlled, so an interesting, important story is as likely to be nonsense as a dull, conventional-wisdom supporting story.

(This is all inexactly put, and I'm not sure that I'm right. But I'd believe "Reliable reports of secret torture chamber in White House basement: Cheney made pedophilic BDSM sex tapes!!!" in the NYT, but not in the Guardian without more support -- the NYT would spout bullshit for but not against the powers that be.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:41 AM
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Cheney made pedophilic BDSM sex tapes!!!

Wait, he didn't do that?


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:44 AM
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Sigh. I'd much rather talk about bikes.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:44 AM
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165: All right. I am looking to buy a bike this coming spring and am looking for advice. I am pretty much a novice, but would like to get a bike that I can grow into as it were. Mostly in town and road usage, but that might include some curbs grass and otherwise not that well maintained trails. I am thinking of something in the cyclo-cross variety. Any suggestions or pointers on what to look for?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:48 AM
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163: I think this is basically correct. US media is generally very conformist, some of the UK dailies are very irreverent. I don't believe they are less accurate overall, but they do tend to be all over the map compared to US rags.

Things are different in other areas of news. BBC news, say, isn't high variance, but it is consistently better quality than anything similar we get here. Televised news in the US (even discarding the travesty that is fox network) has tunnelvision, and is amero-centric to the point of damaging it's quality as a source (this is not necc. the networks fault, but it is true).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:49 AM
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American newspapers also transmit bullshit rumors from the unofficial far right.

Details aside, the pre-9/11 relationship between ISI, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda, and al=Qaeda's pre-9/11 support from within Saudi Arabia, have not been followed up. (Likewise our intimate high-level ties with the Saudis, especially the Bushes' ties). Sybil Edwards got alost no media play. The 9/11 report was censored once by the executive branch and a second time by the Republicans. The Bush Adminstration is aggressively secretive about everything.

A healthy journalism profession would work on this stuff. A healthy opposition party would too. But it doesn't happen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:49 AM
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Unless these facts (from legit journalism) are just plain false, there's something there.

My post crossed with yours, but my essential point is that there is zero evidence that these facts arose from "legit journalism." After a bit more looking, in a subsequent article Meacher abandons the WSJ as a source and attributes the information instead to an FBI agent (Dennis Lormel), who seems to have talked about Atta's funding, but didn't say the things Meacher attributes to him.

Conspiracy theories are fact-specific. When Krugman or H. Clinton talk about conspiracies, you can believe them because they show their work. Meacher is pretty clearly making stuff up and drawing thin connections where no connection seems justified.

Disclaimer: My comment here is only as good as my Google-fu. If you can find some actual source for the Ahmed to Sheikh to Atta $100,000 connection, I'd like to see it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:50 AM
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re: 163

Perhaps. I'm not sure. The thing is, from reading US newspapers, I don't think I'll find out anything new from them. They are hidebound to the point that they read like papers written by autists. But perhaps that lack of the new also means less actively false stories.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:51 AM
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166: cyclo-cross or proper `touring' is a good choice for this sort of usage. The geometry should be a bit relaxed relative to a road bike, and the frame and wheels will be much more robust. Especially if you plan to put bags on it and carry stuff around at some point.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:52 AM
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The thing is, from reading US newspapers, I don't think I'll find out anything new from them.

Yeah, we've always saved that for magazines.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:53 AM
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OK, but I've also revised. The ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda relationship isn't single-source. (Neither is Pakistan's role in nuclear proliferation). It's also never been covered in the media (and again, contrast the Prague visit). We're in a condition of having to trust that the Bush Administration is completely on top of these things and we don't need to know about them. Enough said.

Scott Ritter disappeared from the media sometime in 2002 because of a sex-crimes charge that was never prosecuted. He still doesn't get much play, compared to liars like Ledeen and Perle. (Yes, this is relevant; our topic is the media, not Pakistan).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:55 AM
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A healthy journalism profession would work on this stuff.

When one is debunking a conspiracy theory, the first place to look is to see of the theorist has an internally consistent worldview.

You've proposed that the journalism profession is unhealthy because of its lack of interest in Meacher's facts, but why is the Guardian not interested in pursuing this? They've had several years to do it.

If the Guardian is too corrupt to pursue it, why did they publish it in the first place?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:58 AM
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re: 174

You are confusing Emerson's point -- that there are definite facts out there inconsistent with the orthodox story and which there is a vested interest in concealing -- with Meacher's specific claims in that article.

Meacher might be full of shit [in fact, from previous articles, he often is], but that doesn't mean the media are off the hook.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:02 AM
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173: As revised, I don't have any problem with any of that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:05 AM
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It's pretty circular by now, because the original sources on this are mostly British or Indian, with a few U.S. publications picking it up. Wiki

In this area almost every story is a conspiracy theory. The Bush Administration has theirs, Musharaff has his, the Indians have theirs, the Saudis have theirs, and so one. But what the American public sees, unlike what the British public sees, is very seriously skewed and filtered.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:06 AM
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175: Okay. My sole point was that Meacher's tale was pretty clearly bullshit. I would further argue that if you claim membership in the reality-based community, you have to care about facts.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:08 AM
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In this area almost every story is a conspiracy theory.

Right, right, right. But we are not relieved of the responsibility of determining which conspiracy theories are bullshit. And as we get further into this, it becomes increasingly clear that Meacher is a bullshitter. (Thanks for the wikki. It never occurs to me to look there.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:14 AM
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If a conspiracy theorist has a consistent view, then he's refuted? Or OK?

My basic view is that (for whatever reason, and I've speculated about them) American political journalism is very, very bad, with a horrible right/center skew and a trivializing obsession. On this specific topic, I'm convinced that a lot of leads about 9/11 were never followed up. At a minimum, mistakes are being covered up, but I also think that the Saudis, the Pakistanis, and their American contacts are being protected.

My judgment is that you absolutely cannot claim that American newspapers are superior to British newspapers unless you are comfortable with official center-right lies and suppression of evidence, and uncomfortable with truths embarrassing to the center-right.

Details beyond that are negotiable.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:16 AM
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I don't claim membership in the reality-based community. I've argued against that trope a million Times. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:19 AM
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Meacher's tale was pretty clearly bullshit

But which parts of it? He cites the Sibel Edmonds case, which is a matter of record, stinks to high heaven, and seems to support his still-questionable conclusion. That her whistle-blowing was suppressed, and that the US media reported her firing but neglected to follow up on her claims, makes me only more suspicious &mdash which makes me a conspiracy theorist. Fuck that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:20 AM
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In March 2004 I gathered and posted perhaps 50 pages of clippings (about 90% from legit sources) about Saudi involvement in terrorism and Bush / Republican relations with the Saudis. It didn't go anywhere because it looked like a conspiracy theory and people are kneejerk about that.

And while the Democrats were cautiously and scrupulously reserving judgment (which basically amounted to ignoring the material, because it seemed like a conspiracy theory), the Republicans were changing the world. And maybe five or ten years ago I'll turn out to have been right, but by then who will care? We'll be dealing with faits accomplis. Facts on the ground.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:25 AM
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If a conspiracy theorist has a consistent view, then he's refuted?

Backwards. I'm just saying that internal consistency is something to check for in any narrative. Saves you a lot of research.

I wasn't one of the folks asserting the superiority of American journalism. I think that the appearance of this particular story in a respected media outlet is a symptom of a particular problem with British journalism, but U.S. journalism has plenty of its own specific problems that don't seem to exist in the UK.

I'm pretty sympathetic to the idea that European media, as a whole, aren't as systematically piss-poor as the U.S. media.

I don't claim membership in the reality-based community.

Right. Certainly I'll often make arguments that urge liberals to pursue techniques based on the success of Bush & Co. But these are strategy arguments.

I'm not too upset by Meacher as a propagandist, but I think journalism (and unfogged comments) need to have a different purpose, and the evaluation of journalism qua journalism is properly reality-based.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:38 AM
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BTW, in case people don't realise this, Meacher's article isn't and wasn't presented as straight journalism.

He's a politician not a journalist. And the article was an opinion piece, by him, not endorse by the newspaper.

This may be a source of confusion.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:42 AM
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But which parts of it?

That's not the right epistemological approach. I'm indebted to the people hunting for the top 5 blog posts of all time, because I'd never read this dsquared post before. You really have to discount everything that bullshitters say.

A relevant quote:

If you have doubts about the integrity of a forecaster, you can't use their forecasts at all. Not even as a "starting point".



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:47 AM
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FWIW, JE I think that alot of people know that the Saudis are the problem. I personally think that's what Iraq is about, so that once we "control" Iraq, we will take them on. Who knows.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:48 AM
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My point was that consistency of point of view is one of the signs of monomania and a heavily edited narrative. Inconsistencies might be evidence of sanity.

These are the facts claimed by the article.

?1. Sheikh did not kill Pearl
?2. KSM killed Pearl
3. Sheikh sent money to Atta
?4. Sheikh worked for ISI, which was run by Mahmoud Ahmed
?5. Sheikh was instructed by Mahmoud Ahmed to send money to Atta
?6. Ahmed was forced to retire after the WSJ story
7. Mahmoud Ahmed was in DC immediately before 9/11
8. Richard Clarke and Sybil Edmonds (and others in the FBI) felt that information was being withheld, and this information is still being suppressed
9. Robert Wright's book is being suppressed
10. The 9/11 report was censored
12. ISI worked closely with the Taliban and al Qaeda
13. The CIA worked closely with ISI

Without the five questioned facts there's still a story. (Two questioned facts are the official US government story. The other three are, AFAIK ungrounded but not disproven. Most of the rest are well-attested, I think). If any of them are true, the story is bigger. I think that it's a good thing that this was published, and I doubt that even a cleaned-up version could be published in the US.

Note that the supposed conspiracy theories are not stated: IE, that the CIA itself had Pearl killed, or that the CIA planned 9/11 with Mahmoud Ahmed. The conspiracy template has to be added by the reader. To me, forcing a conspiracy reading in order to automatically discredit a story is no better than cooking up a conspiracy out of scattered facts.

If all the questioned facts are in fact false (rather than unattested) the story is definitely weakened. If Sheikh worked for ISI, though, it seems that there's a story there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:01 AM
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186: I'm not sure that you've read Dsquared right, but if you have, I guess I disagree with him.

A lot of what Meacham wrote I'd already seen elsewhere. He gathered a lot of stuff together in a convenient way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:06 AM
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Erm, I actually work for an English newspaer so I know a little about this, and can't say everything I might want to. But in the ten years I have been writing for them, there has only been one news story run on a subject I knew about which turned out to be culpable horseshit.

Culpable horseshit is in this context means not that it's wrong, but that it could have been proved wrong at the time with the facts available. Lots of stories are wrong.

Meacher was published on the op-ed pages which are -- how can I put this? -- held to a different standard of accuracy. For accuracy and care I would rank the Guardian second in the British press, the FT first. The Daily Mail is remorselessly biased but it is also factually careful. If something is asserted that it testable, then it will usually be true. The Times is pure shite. The Independent still has some honest reporters but is edited without a care for the truth. The Telegraph is mostly trustworthy on its news pages and informative on the comment pages -- ie, you have to read them to know what the American Embassy would like us to believe, and that in itself is important news.
The tabloids print truth only by accident. the Daily Express is entirely deranged.

None of these papers have more than about a fifth of the staff of any of the big American metros. This makes a huge difference. Give me a British paper with American staffing levels and I could really get at the truth about stuff.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:52 AM
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Conspiracy theories.

Yes, we were led into Iraq by a conspiracy. But no one could claim it was a hidden plot. On the contrary, the propaganda was very open and quite clearly orchestrated. I knew there would be a war in the summer of 2002 and the only piece of information not available to any newspaper reader that I had was that a 35-year-old lieutenant colonel I met at a party had just been posted from Northern Ireland to Istanbul. You don't send your smartest younger officers somewhere there won't be a war. But everything else was obvious from the proaganda campaign. All you had to do was to read the Telegraph's leaders. And, maybe, Norman Podhoretz.

Just ask yourself who is making the decisions, and then what they want us to believe.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:58 AM
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In broad brushstrokes, I agree with 190, especially the part about the Times being pure shite. I would dial back the "mostly trustworthy" description of the Telegraph news pages because they have been one of the major offenders on thinly sourced stuff out of Iraq that no other publication ever subsequently verifies.

Another major difference to U.S. metro dailies is that very few of them face direct, like-for-like competition in their local markets. The UK has national dailies--imagine that there were 7 versions of USA Today--so you've got your choice of paper at every level of taste and diction.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:58 AM
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ah, KR -- yes: but the telegraph lying news stories tend to be written by Con Coughlin, who is a known conduit for "western" intelligence agencies. There have been some very truthful ones from other people there. There's no real substitute, when reading a newspaper, for checking the byline.



Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:04 PM
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166: I am thinking of something in the cyclo-cross variety.

This is a great choice, but it could make it a bit more expensive. More people are recognizing cross bikes as good crossovers, and consumer reports just recommended them as a flexible alternative to a mt. bike. But they've been the purview of specialists, and tend to cost a bit more than a starter bike.

I bought one for commuting from ebay. Used (craig's list) is a decent approach if you want to get a better bike but are just starting out. I used my cross bike for commuting, got into riding it on the road more and more, and finally bought a road bike. I'm refitting the bike for my wife now.

I've never really understood how geometry translates into feel on the bike, but my cross bike does not feel more relaxed than my road bike. It's very upright and pretty twitchy. But it's not a perfect fit for me because I bought it on ebay.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:15 PM
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194/166:

How about just getting a cheap hard-tail mountain bike, and putting slicks on it?


Posted by: Steve/Ryno/MackDaddy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:31 PM
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195: If you're going to do this, definitely slicks, and definitely avoid suspension. Slicks are a half measure though, they're really still a lot slower than a typical 700C wheel. What sort of riding you do will change how you feel about this.

However, the geometry of a mtb really isn't as good, and this may bug you on long rides. You might not care, though. Unless you are fairly tall the rear stays are likely to be too short to mount full sized bags properly, if you ever want to do that.

spaz: I don't know much about the variability of geometry in cross bikes. With a proper touring frame, the geometry will be relaxed in order to have stability with heavy loads. If you don't have this, you get wobbles and bad cornering, particularly with weight on the front wheel. This is pretty noticeable when you ride one unloaded, too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:46 PM
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This is a great choice, but it could make it a bit more expensive

I have definitely noticed this. The bikes I have been looking at seem to start at around $1,000 new. I am going to look at used bikes, but not living in a major metropolitan area and being 6'1" I am not sure what kind of luck I am going to have finding the style I want in the correct size.

How about just getting a cheap hard-tail mountain bike, and putting slicks on it?

I don't know how well this would work since I would like to get into doing longer road biking. I would like to have the drop handlebars and I don't know if that would work well with the overall geometry of a mountain bike.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:48 PM
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I would like to get into doing longer road biking.

This was a factor for me, too, and I did find a cross bike made the move to the road easy. My commute is 15 miles each way, and I didn't really want to do it on a mountain bike. All that drag from wind resistance mentioned upthread really starts to wear on one.

That said, I've also known mt bikers who've trained on the road with slicks, but usually on a extra set of wheels so it was easy to swap out.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:16 PM
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196: Sorry about my vagueness. I was offering a suggestion, not asking for advice. I already have a mtn bike with slicks, which I use for rides around town, pulling the Tag-Along or kid trailer, dirt paths, etc.

I think that would work for anyone just getting into cycling, who wants options without having to pay the $$ for a cyclo-cross or "hybrid" bike. The wider tires may be less efficient than 700C's, but I haven't found that to be a problem for basic cycling.

I have a road bike for the longer or steeper journeys.


Posted by: Steve/Ryno/MackDaddy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 2:52 PM
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if cyclo-cross is getting trendy, they might be expensive, but you can get a decent touring frame pretty cheap, though. No particular reason I can think of to pick a mtb with slicks over that, if prices are roughly equivalent.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 3:06 PM
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whups, hit enter too quick.

really my only substantial problem with the mtb./slicks combo (as you say, no problem for riding around town) is that most of them are lousy for mounting bags on. If you carry any weight around on your toodling around town, bags are a vast improvement over a backpack or whatever. I have no idea if this matters to the OP (and some mtb frames are ok, too)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 3:09 PM
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If bags are important to you, not all cross bikes will have holes for a rear rack either. My seller assured me my bike had those, but he was looking in the wrong place and it lacked the upper holes on the seat stays.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:23 PM
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