Summer in Orcus Nine thru Eleven

Oct. 25th, 2016 06:29 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
“We wolves are prone to such maladies. A cousin of mine is a were-library, and another turns into a very large skylark on solstices.”

Having been on book tour, I haven't been able to update the announcements, but the chapters have still gone up! You can find all three new ones at the Summer in Orcus main page!

Kamloops Sawmill

Oct. 25th, 2016 02:53 pm
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Posted by chinookjargon

Another great ad in Chinook Jargon:



<All kinds of Dressed and Rough Lumber,

Sash, Singles, Etc.>

          – Kamlups so mil:
Kamloops Sawmill:

     Iawa msaika sil stik kopa laplash, tais, pi paia;
There you folks (can) sell wood for boards, ties, and fire(wood): 

iawa wiht msaika tlap laplash pus mamuk haws, stibl, fins;
there too you folks can get lumber to build houses, stables, fences; 

     tanas makuk nsaika laplash kopa tilikom.
our lumber is cheap for (Indian) people.

          Chako nanich, tilikom, pi mamuk msaika tomtom.
Come see, people, and decide for yourselves.

<Slabs and Edgings for Sale Cheap.>

Kamloops Wawa #199c (December 1901), page 108

This advertisement is primarily oriented toward Native readers.  Notice how the English words aren’t all translated into the Jargon.  You have to be able to read the shorthand part of this to catch the substance.

Evidently the sawmill owner bought raw timber from Native people; the word sil or silim (‘sell’) around Kamloops operated differently from the older Chinook Jargon makuk (‘buy’, ‘sell’).

This ad supplies you an additional example of my recent claim that tilikom meant primarily ‘Indian people’, and just secondarily ‘people’ in general.

Typical for the Kamloops region, the Chinook Jargon here uses several recently borrowed words from English:

  • tais ‘(railroad) ties’ (there’s no known older word for this)
  • stibl ‘stable’ (for older kyutan haws ‘horse house’)
  • fins ‘fence’ (for older kalahan)

[syndicated profile] lovelybike_feed

Posted by Velouria

Lately there has been talk on social media stemming from accusations that some of the recently built vehicular infrastructure in the city of Belfast goes unused. Normally, I try not to get involved in such discussions, not being resident there myself. But once in a while I do have occasion to visit Belfast. And yesterday I was, frankly, concerned to observe this very phenomenon for myself.

I arrived into the city centre by train in early afternoon and proceeded to cycle some 4 miles to my destination in the industrial outskirts. And while I enjoyed the traffic-segregated cycling path that I was able to follow most of the way, I could not help but sense a strangeness...

I could not pinpoint what felt off at first. But at length it dawned on me: The main road beside me - all four lanes of it - was completely empty of motor vehicles. Being an experienced urban cyclists, I was accustomed to a constant flow of cars in my peripheral vision, to the ever-present background buzz of traffic noise. But all I heard on this journey was the chirping of birds and the woosh of passing cyclists' tyres. I stopped my bike, pulled over to the side of the path, and faced the road. Out of curiosity, I wanted to count how many drivers per minute used this expansive multi-lane avenue that had obviously been constructed for their benefit. Would you believe that I had to wait nearly two minutes before a single motor vehicle drove past. And that was a lorry backing out of a produce warehouse.

So I took some snapshots documenting examples of the city's transport infrastructure going unused. And make no mistake, I plan to send it to the relevant authorities, adding my voice to those calling for its dismantlement. In the meanwhile, as I always try to temper criticism with constructive suggestions, allow me to use this platform to throw some ideas out there on alternative uses of the space.

Firstly... One word, good people of Belfast: Rainbow-Ways!

Okay, that's more like two words. Or a double-word? Well, whatever. The point being, you know the concept of urban greenways? Well, Rainbow-Ways would be similar, except they'd be swathes of wildflower meadows.

To the delight of residents and visitors alike, the city has already been planting mini-meadows around construction sites, unsightly municipal buildings, and vacant lots. Now imagine entire wildflower meadow thoroughfares, for pedestrians and cyclists, unfurled throughout the entire city like like a fragrant rainbow carpet! Sounds lovely, doesn't it. And judging by the overcrowded state of the Lagan river path, the Comber Greenway, and all those pedestrian alleyways around the Cathedral Quarter, a nice spacious rainbow-way will help clear up those areas from all the bike/walk congestion.

Anther possibility worth looking into, would be to institute some dedicated horse and cart tracks.

Ever visited the town of Killarney down in Kerry? Let me tell you, the place is thick with horse and cart operations. It's actually quite ingenious. They are used both as taxis and for sight-seeing, and make no mistake about it: they are making a fortune in revenue down there. The passenger capacity of the carts surpasses that of private motorised sedans, and their speed is comparable to that of a typical taxi in urban traffic. And since the views are better from up high, the visitors love it.

Lets not forget that countless new job opportunities can be created, for horse&cart operators and for urban pony breeders alike. And just think of all the free manure generated, which could then be collected and used to fertilise the adjacent wildflower meadow rainbow-ways.  It could be the perfect self-sustaining ecosystem.

Anther option to be seriously considered, is to do away with the gratuitous roadways in favour of canals. That's right, canals. And hear me out here:

Whenever I visit Belfast, I can't help but notice that the Lagan river is really crowded beyond capacity with boats offering tours, barges that are also pubs, all manner of maritime museums, and other floating businesses. Dismantling some of Belfast’s low-usage roads and turning them into some lovely artificial waterways would allow the boat tour/ floating pub/ moored barbershop industries the room to grow they so obviously need. And again, think of the jobs that will be created. And of all the tourists who roam the riverside endlessly in search for activities will have new places to visit.

Finally, on a related note: I have long noticed that the city of Belfast attracts persons of an artistic inclination. This is obvious not only by the overabundance of sculptures, murals, and all manner of artistic creations that pepper the urban landscape, but, more tellingly, by the fact that these installations are perpetually so crowded with admirers that it is nearly impossible to enjoy an unobstructed view in passing.

I mean, have you tried to get near the Big Fish lately? That's what I thought! You have to queue for a good 30 minutes to get an unobstructed view of that ceramic marvel these days. You'd be lucky to catch a glimpse of the nearby seal sculptures without someone sitting on every one of their heads. And let us not even speak of the murals, sectarian or otherwise. It's like vying for a peek at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre; you'd need a pogo-stick to see over the other onlookers' shoulders.

Clearly, no matter how many art pieces the city of Belfast erects, there is simply more demand than supply. So I was thinking, that with all the roads standing empty, why not create a dedicated sculpture trail? An avenue of the arts, as it were, with occasional snack booths, gift shops, and (tastefully constructed) toilet facilities to ensure uninterrupted public use of the space.

That said, I do not want to dominate this conversation with my views. There are many wonderful uses for all those horrible multi-lane roadways that cities misguidedly construct to cater to their imagined motoring culture. Regardless of which alternative usage ideas are implemented in the end, I am proud of Belfast for getting the narrative started and look forward to a city transformed. What would you like to see in place of gratuitous roadways in your city or town?

Haw haw haw

Oct. 24th, 2016 09:12 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Jack Chick's cartoons were infused with the abominable fancy -- the idea that the supreme delight awaiting true believers in Heaven would be that they got to watch the eternal torment of wicked sinners in Hell. That was pretty much the essence of Chick's faith. He wasn't driven by his love for God or for God's love for us, but by the eschatological hope that one day God would settle all the arguments he was never able to win here on earth -- settle them with remorseless, bloodthirsty finality.

The post Haw haw haw appeared first on slacktivist.


Oct. 24th, 2016 04:30 pm
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Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I don’t remember how old I was when I found out where babies come from. I remember I had a book called “How babies are made” and I remember poring over it when I was little, flabbergasted and astonished that this was the actual nature of the thing, but I don’t remember a specific moment when I found out. My Mum, on the other hand – recalls that when my grandmother explained it to her in proper detail she went  into her room and sobbed, because she figured that if her mum had to make up such a totally insane story about how babies got started, then the truth must be too horrible to imagine. (For the record, she had been told the truth.)

While I’ve got no real memory (beyond that weird book) of learning that stuff, I remember being a young woman and finding out about where my eggs came from, and being so stunned I could hardly get my head around it, and the most amazing thing is that since I found out I’ve told lots of people, and most of them were surprised too.  I don’t know why this piece of information isn’t considered required learning, but get this: When a woman gives birth to a daughter, that daughter is born with a couple of million immature ovarian follicles called primordial follicles.  Each of these follicles contains an oocyte (pronounced “oh-eh-site”) and that’s the fancy name for a whole, intact, immature egg.  From that moment forward, thousands of these follicles die off until puberty, and then about a thousand a month die with every cycle. (If the word “die” bothers you, you can call it by its proper name – atresia.) Of these thousand that die each month, one will be recruited (actual word) mature, and be used in that woman’s cycle during ovulation.

This means that when you are pregnant with a girl, your body makes all the eggs that she’ll have in her whole life. Your body is all “Spleen – check, four chambers for the heart- good job, ligaments to support the liver – check… yes, yes, that’s a good length for the phalanges of the feet….. oh, and now let’s make the potential for the next generation of humans. Throw that in there. It will be nice to have it out of the way.”  The mother makes all the follicles that will be the root of her daughters fertility, and her health, age and nutrition all play a role in the quality and quantity her daughter is born with. (No pressure.)

This means that my mum made the egg that became her granddaughters when she grew me, and twenty six years ago, when Meg was within me, the very egg that will become our grandchild grew at the same time. It has existed as long as she has – and now thanks to the contribution of another single cell…


Megan is growing her grandchildren.

I’m just so glad I ate well.

Escapism & Representation

Oct. 24th, 2016 04:25 pm
[syndicated profile] ursulav_feed
So I spent the weekend at the TweensRead book festival in Houston, which was wonderful and amazing, and I found myself having some thoughts.

First of all, if you were still of a mind to question the need for many kids to have books about people like them, this would dropkick it from anyone with an ounce of sense. Over and over and over I heard stories from authors going "I am writing these books because they're what I needed when I was a kid." Our keynote speaker, the utterly amazing Jason Reynolds, talked about how he quit reading at the age of nine because the books he was given in school were no one he'd ever met, in a world nothing like his, and had nothing to say to a nine-year-old from D.C.

I sat on panels multiple times with amazing authors, gazing at the back of my fun little book about hamsters, and thought "This is a great truth. We are all writing the books we wanted or needed when we were kids."

Then I stared at my hamsters and thought "Jesus, what am I doing?"

I thought of all the books I read when I was young. Star Trek. Narnia. Roald Dahl. Robin McKinley. Andre Norton. Harper Hall. Earthsea. My struggles to get through The Hobbit. Watership Down. Books of fairy tales. Books about dinosaurs. And then a tween asked about the books we liked to read as kids and why we liked them, and I found myself saying "I didn't want books about my life. I knew all about my life. I was an expert on it, and books had nothing to tell me about it. I wanted books about dragons and aliens and talking animals. I wanted something else." And then, because that seemed rather curt, I added "Escapism rocks!" (I try to be very enthusiastic, even when I'm babbling.)

I was the kid who never read a Sweet Valley High book, or the Babysitter's Club. I liked Honestly, Katie John, which I think my mother picked up at a garage sale or something, but her attempts to get me to read Jacob Have I Loved and Jane Eyre were met with moaning and/or sulking nine-year-old resistance. I was only really willing to read about kids my age if they had horses or if they were stranded alone on a desert island (my copies of Island of the Blue Dolphins and Call It Courage fell apart from re-reads.) I read Little House in the Big Woods because it was frontier competence porn, not because of any great attachment to any of the characters. I had a massive collection of those weird books that were written from the point of view of a non-sentient animal--Yellow Eyes, about cougars and Red Ben about foxes. (I think there were a bunch about foxes, actually. And one about a lynx. And enough Jack London to build a fire with.)

I didn't want a boyfriend. I wanted a fire lizard.

(As there is no world where a middle-school boy lives up to Tor or Luthe or Ged or Bigwig, I stuck to a rich fantasy life.)

This does not mean, for the record, that I was Not Like Other Girls or any such foolishness. I fit quite nicely into the female nerd archetype, which many of you are likely familiar with. I am certainly not recommending this as a Better Way of Being. (Actually, in some ways it's probably worse. My understanding of relationships with other people mostly involved Vulcans, survival on desert islands, and a lot of Edgar Allen Poe, which prepares one nicely for being buried alive and not much else. As some of y'all might have noticed, my social skills are finely honed in extremely narrow channels and if you get out of my particular area of emotional expertise, I will go skipping across a minefield whistling and then wonder why things are exploding behind me.)

Now, obviously it is infinitely easier to have the option to read books about kids like you and to reject them then to not have the option in the first place. I wasn't being erased, I was being annoyed. There were eleventy million Ramona books and Judy Blume and Paula Danziger and at once point or another, I probably read most of them, although I recall a certain weird cynicism toward many elements. (When Ramona is going to say a bad word and says "GUTS!" I recall thinking "Jeez, that's the best you can do?" I was extremely sheltered in a great many ways, and even I knew far better swear words than that.) We had to read Skinnybones in fifth grade, and I believe to this day that the book would be improved by a desert island, or possibly having the protagonist trapped in a room with the air running out, trying to dig their way free with a spoon.

My memory of the third grade is a bit hazy, except that Having Your Name Written On The Board was the worst thing that could happen to you in class, and our well-meaning teacher, Mr. Christensen, tried dozens of variations on the writing-your-name-on-the-board thing, including one where everybody's name was up with a window next to it, and if you misbehaved, you got a crack in your window. I remember, though, that as my parents were divorced, I went to talk to the school counselor once a week. I think I was given pamphlets or something about kids with divorced parents that were supposed to be written from their point of view. I have a vague memory of feeling intense contempt toward these pamphlets. Christ, what a waste of type. Not a dragon to be seen.

(I would spend the rest of my life with an intense dislike of Very Special Episodes and After School Specials. Every time they showed us a video in health class of kids struggling with alcoholism or sucide or teen pregnancy, I would slump in my seat thinking "The real issue here is that these people are too stupid to live.")

I am the only me that I know, so I cannot give you the report from the other me in another timeline who had no books about kids like them. It seems likely that since I had a thousand options of representation, I was free to reject them all and read about dragons. I had the option to view Ramona as a peculiar anthropological oddity (what the hell was zwieback? Why did people eat it?) and identify with Wilbur from Charlotte's Web. Having that option is vitally important, even if only so that you can choose not to take it. I could afford the luxury of contempt.

No escapism without representation, maybe?

Do I have a point? Oh, probably not, or I've forgotten it already. Maybe just that in any class, you will likely have one beady-eyed little contrarian who wants nothing to do with the books that they are supposed to identify with, and would rather take their life lessons from Spock or Hazel or Bilbo.

Maybe just that at the end of the day, all of us authors on those panels really were writing the books we needed as kids. And some of us desperately needed to be acknowledged, and some of us just wanted to escape. And here I am, today, still trying to write books for that beady-eyed little contrarian who never had enough books about talking animals.

Anyway. Great book festival, great people, great everything. Recommend it highly if you're anywhere near Houston next year.

(And does anybody else remember getting their name on the board?)

ETA: By the way, this is NOT to say in any way that fantasy/SFF is free from the responsibility of representation--far from it! People want to know that people like them are welcome in fantasy worlds, too! More musings on the weird divide between people wanting books about their world and some of our strong desire to kick that world to the curb...
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Posted by Jay Livingston, PhD

Originally posted at Montclair SocioBlog.

Most people agree that when this election is over, Trump will have changed American politics. Bigly, perhaps. But one of the more ironic changes may be that he caused the most conservative sectors of the electorate to relax their views on the connection between a politician’s private life and his fitness for public office. (Yes, “his.” Their ideas about the importance of a woman’s private sexual life may not have evolved in a similar way.)

Call it “motivated morality.” That sounds much better than hypocrisy. It’s like “motivated perception” – unconsciously adjusting your perceptions so that the facts fit with your ideology. But with motivated morality, you change your moral judgments.

For religious conservatives, Donald Trump presents quite a challenge. It’s the sex. One of the things that conservatives are conservative about is sex, and Trump’s sexual language and behavior clearly fall on the side of sin. What to do? Conservatives might try for motivated cognition and refuse to believe the women who were the recipients of Trumps kissing, groping, and voyeurism. That’s difficult when Trump himself is on the record claiming to have done all these things, and making those claims using decidedly unChristian language.

Instead, they have changed their judgment about the link between groping and governing. Previously, they had espoused “moral clarity” – a single principle applied unbendingly to all situations. Good is good, evil is evil. If a man is immoral in his private life, he will be immoral or worse as a public official.

Now they favor “situational morality,” the situation in this case being the prospect of a Clinton victory. So rather than condemn Trump absolutely, they say that, although he is out of line, they will vote for him and encourage others to do likewise in order to keep Hillary out of the White House. For example, in a USA Today op-ed, Diann Catlin, a “Bible-thumping etiquette teacher” says:

I like God’s ways. … I also know that he wants discerning believers to take part in government. … God has always used imperfect people for his glory.

God uses people like Trump and like me who are sinners but whose specific issues, such as the life of the unborn child, align with his word.

She includes the “we’re all sinners” trope that’s so popular now among the Trump’s Christian supporters (funny how they never mention that when the topic is Bill Clinton’s infidelities or Hillary’s e-mails). More important is the implication that even a sinner can make good governmental decisions. That’s an idea that US conservatives used to dismiss as European amorality. In government, they would insist, “character” is everything.

It’s not just professional conservatives who have crossed over to the view that sex and politics are separate spheres and that a person can be sinful in one and yet virtuous in the other. Ordinary conservatives and Evangelicals have also (to use the word of the hour) pivoted.

Five years ago, the Public Religion Research Institute at Brookings asked people whether someone who had committed immoral acts in their private life could still be effective in their political or professional life. Nationwide, 44% said Yes. PRRI asked the same question this year. The Yes vote had risen to 61%. But the move to compartmentalize sin was most pronounced among those who were most conservative.


The unchurched or “unaffiliated” didn’t change much in five years. But White Catholics and mainline Protestants both became more tolerant of private immorality. And among the most religiously conservative, the White evangelical Protestants, that percentage more than doubled. They went from being the least accepting to being the most accepting.

As with religion, so with political views.

People of all political stripes became more accepting, but when it came to judging a privately immoral person in public life, Republicans, like White evangelicals, went from least tolerant to most tolerant.

What could have happened?

Flickr photo by Darron Birgenheier.
Flickr photo by Darron Birgenheier.

There’s no absolute proof that it was the Donald that made the difference. But those White evangelicals support him over Hillary by better than four to one. Those who identify as Republicans favor Trump by an even greater margin. There may be some other explanation, but for now, I’ll settle for the idea that in order to vote for Trump, they had to keep their judgment of him as a politician separate from their judgment of his sexual behavior – a separation they would not have made five years ago.

Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University. You can follow him at Montclair SocioBlog or on Twitter.

(View original at

Joe's Birthday

Oct. 23rd, 2016 10:26 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Today the boy I met at 16 turns 64.


Here we are in Edmonton on a road trip that has had us, so far, on four different plane rides, with one more to go. And he's almost a pensioner. I, however, am 63, and will be for a delicious couple of months more. He's now the older man. In this case, really older man.

So forgive me today for just a quick note on the blog. I'm about to take the tottering old guy out for breakfast. It's my job, no, my honour to make sure that today he knows he's loved and appreciated.

Join me if you like.

Sunday favorites

Oct. 23rd, 2016 10:49 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

"We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age's most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune ..."

The post Sunday favorites appeared first on slacktivist.

From the Archives: Halloween

Oct. 22nd, 2016 03:15 pm
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

It’s 9 days to Halloween and 17 days to election day. Here at SocImages, I’ve decided to continue to focus on election analysis and current events until Election Day. In the meantime, for your holiday pleasure, please enjoy our collection of Halloween posts from years past or visit our Halloween-themed Pinterest page. And feel free to follow me on Instagram for pics from tonight’s Krewe de Boo parade in New Orleans! Wish you were here!

Just for fun


Social psychology

Politics and culture

Race and ethnicity

Sexual orientation


Gender and kids


Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at

[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

Things happen because they happen. Sometimes I, when I'm feeling that life isn't going my way, want to imagine that I have one of those dark clouds over my head that follow me around, but I know that's not how it works for me. Things happen because they happen.

We'd finished a day's work and were heading over to the post office when we heard a loud, really loud, POP. Well Joe thought it was more of a BANG, but I'm writing the story. So we heard this POP and couldn't figure out where it had come from. Joe got out of the car to check to see if the small passageway built for wheelchair exit and entry to the parking lot was wide enough for my chair. But before he could do that his face went dark. He got back in the car. "That sound, the BANG," he said, guess what it was." I said that it was some kind of POP and I had no idea. "Our front tire blew up, he said.

We we had to call the rental company and the roadside assistance and we were lucky we got them just as they were closing. They started with offering a tow truck. I reminded them that I was in a wheelchair and no way I could get into a tow truck and I know that tow trucks don't tow cars with people in them. So several other options were explored. Too which I said, to each one, that I was a wheelchair user and we needed an accessible solution not a typical solution. Finally the guy said he'd be over in 5 minutes.

Joe suggested I go into the store and get the mailing done. I think he wanted me out of the way so that he could deal with the situation without me being there and being difficult. I know I have that tendency but I also know I need that tendency. I agreed only because  knew that Joe knew the seriousness of the situation. He would fight the battle for me.

I got into the store down to the post office, and took my place in a very long line. I kept thinking about the situation as I edged towards the front of the line. Joe arrived just as I pulled up to the desk and started handing over stuff to be mailed. He filled me in on what had happened. We had a new car and he was sure that the new car would work for us and our needs. It's only one more day.

Once back at the car, it was fine. A little more difficult to get into for me, but it was still doable and would work fine. I relaxed into the seat as Joe popped back in to the store because he'd forgotten something. I think that's the first time I've retreated from a situation and let Joe take it over on his own. Over all of our life, I've been the designated difficult one ... it felt good to know that Joe could handle it on his own and that he knew what was needed and he would ensure that we got something that worked.

Disability has changed both of us, and luckily for each of us, in interesting ways.
[syndicated profile] omgcheckplease_feed

And just like that, the Check, Please: Year Two Kickstarter is over. A big thank you to everyone who supported the campaign with either a pledge or by sharing a link or even just by reading this comic. Thank you!

Backers will be receiving project updates via Kickstarter, and I’ll be hard at work on both the Year Two book and all its extras and drawing brand new comics. Either way, I’ll be both busy–and excited!

So thank you again!

[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed

A third Penric tale is in the works. As is often the case, it has failed to grow a title organically along the way, leaving the task of grafting one on to the last. Unfocused-group polls are usually not too useful, because people are all over the map on responses, but let's try anyway. Current candidates include, but are not limited to:

Penric's Mission
A Meeting In Cedonia
The Light of Cedonia
Encounter in Cedonia
The Envoy and Madame Owl

Also general formats of: An Event in Cedonia, Noun of Cedonia, Entity in/to Cedonia... argh. And the endless inevitable Penric and X/Penric's X/Penric in X, Whatevers.

As you can see, the puzzle embeds a problem in recursion, since it's hard to come up with a title when you have not read the work, but you can't read the work till it has a title (among other things.)

Any comments, folks?

In a separate cover matter, I also need to figure out what to call it in the subtitle/descriptor line, "A [blank] in the World of the Five Gods." At around 45k words, it is longer than the official word-count cap for a novella, but less than half the current market-weight for a novel. So "novella" would be wrong and even "short novel" would be misleading. "Story" is I suspect the safest, although "tale" has some merit. As e-book purchasers, what works for you all? Keeping in mind that this stuff has to work at-a-glance, because that's all it gets from most browsers.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on October, 21
[syndicated profile] lovelybike_feed

Posted by Velouria

If we look at some overall trends in today’s roadbike setups, there is an undeniable preference for long stems. For most male cyclists I know, a stem length of 110-130mm seems to be the desirable range, with anything shorter considered suboptimal, if not outright weird. 

Now, if you ask a rider to explain this preference for length, chances are they will tell you it is to do with handling, as it “puts them over the front axle.” The problem with this statement, is that the location of the rider’s hands in relation to the front axle does not depend on stem length alone. Rather, it is a function of stem length and handlebar reach, which can vary greatly from one set of handlebars to another.

I am reminded of this as I mess about with the front-end setup of my DIY 650B bike, which is currently undergoing a makeover …a makeover that has made me aware that I too am far from immune to the “longer is better” stem bias.

When I assembled this bike originally, it was during a visit back to Boston. I was in a hurry and had no money to buy new parts. So I fit it with whatever spare stem and handlebars were laying about in my old apartment, which happened to be a 11cm Nitto and a set of super-compact Soma Hway1s. It was never an ideal setup. The stem was 1cm longer than the length I had designed the frame for. And the shape of the bars wasn’t quite what I had in mind for that particular build. So a few months back, when I swapped over the bike's drivetrain, I decided to also change the stem and handlebar setup. 

The “new” (well, actually old; but new-to-me) handlebars I am going with are a set of 3T Prima199s. Not only is their bend significantly different, but they have quite a bit more reach (i.e. more space behind the hoods). To compensate, I knew that I would need a shorter stem. But how much shorter?

Well, I hate math. But let’s do some math. 

My old, compact bars had 75mm of reach. And I used them with an 110mm stem. So my overall reach to the hoods and/or outer drops was 185mm. 

The new bars have 95mm of  reach. To maintain the same overall 185mm reach to the hoods ad/or drops I would need a 90mm stem. 

But wait. Because, the thing is, I wanted the bike to have a tad less reach overall. Which meant that I needed an even shorter stem. 

"An 80mm stem?! Oh no, that’s too short!” I heard myself say, before I could stop the words escaping my mouth. 

Clearly I too have succumbed to the long stem bias. 

For days (okay, more like a couple of months), I stalled while the bike stood disassembled, trying to think up reasons why perhaps I didn’t want shorter reach after all, unwilling to admit that I simply didn’t want to put an 80mm stem on my bike because I thought it was uncool.  As it often happens in such cases, my mind then proceeded to conduct a psychotherapy session on itself.

“Tell me… Why are you so reluctant to accept that you need an 80mm stem? What would an 80mm stem mean to you?"

“It would mean… "


"It would mean..." 

“Yes, what would it mean, for heaven’s sake?”

"Okay, I guess it would mean I had made a mistake in designing the bicycle frame; miscalculated in determining the optimal frame dimensions.”

“And why is that?”

“It just seems standard to design a bike for a 100-110mm stem these days."

"But what kind of handlebars does that standard assume?”

“Compact bars.”

“And are you using compact bars?”



"Oh shut up!”

Anyway. In the end I got a grip, and snagged myself a sweet 80mm Cinelli XA.  Not only was it a bargain (shorter stems not being especially desirable, and therefore typically selling for less on the used parts market), but the new bars plus stem setup is practically weightless. 

And the reach? Well you can see for yourself in the pictures. The reach to the hoods and outer drops is a mere 1cm shorter, if that, which is exactly what I wanted. And yes, I am over the front axle.  

When folks today talk about stem length, I notice they seldom take handlebar reach into consideration. For that reason alone I think it's fair to suggest that the trend for longer stems is largely aesthetic. And I guess there isn’t really anything wrong with that ...Except in cases where a rider might benefit from long-reach handlebars, but will go with compact bars instead only for the sake of sporting a longer stem... which, I daresay is kind of silly.

Just remember, it’s not the length of the stem alone that determines your reach. The handlebars you use play an equally crucial role. Relaxing about stem length can open up a world of possibilities beyond the constraints of compact bars. 

[syndicated profile] omgcheckplease_feed



The Check, Please! Year Two Kickstarter is Ending! 

Well–that was fast. And incredible. (And…’swawesome?) And while it’s been a spectacular ride, the Check, Please: Year Two Kickstarter is coming to an end. You guys demolished every goal and stretch goal that was put forth, so now everyone’s getting more free stuff!

So if you’re interested, there’s still time–Check it out! ☆

There’s only 24 hours to go!

Two hours!

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Jay Livingston, PhD

Originally posted at Montclair SocioBlog.

Is Donald Trump undermining the legitimacy of the office of the presidency? He has been at it a while. His “birther” campaign – begun in 2008 and still alive – was aimed specifically at the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. Most recently, he has been questioning the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential election and by implications all presidential elections.

If he is successful, if the US will soon face a crisis of legitimacy, that’s a serious problem. Legitimacy requires the consent of the governed. We agree that the government has the right to levy taxes, punish criminals, enforce contracts, regulate all sorts of activities…  The list is potentially endless.

Legitimacy is to the government what authority is to the police officer – the agreement of those being policed that the officer has the right to enforce the law. So when the cop says, “Move to the other side of the street,” we move. Without that agreement, without the authority of the badge, the cop has only the power of the gun. Similarly, a government that does not have legitimacy must rule by sheer power. Such governments, even if they are democratically elected, use the power of the state to lock up their political opponents, to harass or imprison journalists, and generally to ensure the compliance.

Trump is obviously not alone in his views about legitimacy.  When I see the posters and websites claiming that Obama is a “tyrant” – one who rules by power rather than by legitimate authority; when I see the Trump supporters chanting “Lock Her Up,” I wonder whether it’s all just good political fun and hyperbole or whether the legitimacy of the US government is really at risk.

This morning, I saw this headline at the Washington Post:


Scary. But the content of the story tells a story that is completely the opposite. The first sentence of the story quotes the Post’s own editorial, which says that Trump, with his claims of rigged elections, “poses an unprecedented threat to the peaceful transition of power.” The second sentence evaluates this threat.

Trump’s October antics may be unprecedented, but his wild allegations about the integrity of the elections might not be having much effect on voter attitudes.

Here’s the key evidence. Surveys of voters in 2012 and 2016 show no increase in fears of a rigged election. In fact, on the whole people in 2016 were more confident that their vote would be fairly counted.


The graph on the left shows that even among Republicans, the percent who were “very confident” that their vote would be counted was about the same in 2016 as in 2012. (Technically, one point lower, a difference well within the margin of error.)

However, two findings from the research suggest a qualification to the idea that legitimacy has not been threatened. First, only 45% of the voters are “very confident” that their votes will be counted. That’s less than half. The Post does not say what percent were “somewhat confident” (or whatever the other choices were), and surely these would have pushed the confident tally well above 50%.

Second, fears about rigged elections conform to the “elsewhere effect” – the perception that things may be OK where I am, but in the nation at large, things are bad and getting worse. Perceptions of Congressional representatives, race relations, and marriage follow this pattern (see this post). The graph on the left shows that 45% were very confident that their own vote would be counted. In the graph on the right, only 28% were very confident that votes nationwide would get a similarly fair treatment.

These numbers do not seem like a strong vote of confidence (or a strong confidence in voting). Perhaps the best we can say is that if there is any change in the last four years, it is in the direction of legitimacy.

Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University. You can follow him at Montclair SocioBlog or on Twitter.

(View original at

What Welcome Isn't ...

Oct. 21st, 2016 09:34 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

When we travel and there is a significant time change, we always come a day early to get into the 'zone.' The older we get the harder this is to do, I guess that's one of the things that comes with age. After having breakfast with our hosts, Joe and I set out to explore a bit of Whitehorse. We wanted to pick up some souvenirs and wander around a bit.

Once we got out, given that snow has already fallen here, there was gravel everywhere. It had been spread after the last snowfall. Some of it was sharp and dug into my tires, making pushing difficult and bumpy. So we quickly redesigned the day and went to a small indoor mall downtown. It was great. They had a wonderful place to pick up local artwork and other small mementos of the trip. We were there for quite a while. Though it was packed with stuff, it also had wide aisles. I wondered if that was for wheelchair accessibility or to make room for people in big parkas, universal access is universal access though and I didn't care. I could get around.

The same was true for most stores in the mall except one where the entrance was tight. But they moved stuff and I was able to get in and move around. Finally we ended up at a coffee shop kind of place called 'baked'. It happened to be lunchtime and we happened to be hungry. In we went.

I found a table, Again there was room to move but this time the blockage was because of either packages or bags or strollers which people moved without a thought and certainly without rancor. I found a table and Joe brought tea and amazing orange and carrot soup, which was spicy and rich and vegan to top it off.

The thing that interested me was that this was a very cool kind of coffee shop with a very cool kind of clientele but it didn't have the \too cool for the likes of you' atmosphere. From the clerks to the patrons everyone was welcoming. Now, what I mean by welcoming was that they helped if asked, moved stuff if asked in a 'sure, okay' way. They didn't stare, didn't react to my difference, didn't make exaggerated moves to give me room I didn't need. It was like they'd all had intensive training in the fact that people are people are people and that the training stuck.

We had a nice lunch. We had a nice chat with a woman who sat next to us. We'd started the conversation by asking a touristy question and then fell into a friendly chat about where we were all from. It was just a nice regular kind of thing you do in places like where we were.

I like Whitehorse.

A lot.
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

"Dr. Rosenzweig believes that some confluence of electromagnetism in the atmosphere, combined with as yet unknown or unexplained atomic ionization from the nuclear power and weaponry throughout the world, could have been ignited or triggered -- perhaps by a natural cause like lightning, or even by an intelligent life-form that discovered this possibility before we did -- and caused this instant action throughout the world."

The post LBCF, No. 104: ‘It could be bunnies’ appeared first on slacktivist.

[syndicated profile] omgcheckplease_feed

Eric Bittle’s November 2015 Tweets! (PDF)

The above is a link to a PDF of tweets from @omgcheckplease​ (which is currently on private to avoid spoilers)!

Oh MAN! New info! Yeah! These tweets reference events in the comic that have already been drawn. Since November 2015 has passed in Bitty’s life these tweets aren’t too spoilery! And again, I’m super excited to share this info with you!

Hmm. How well do these tweets line up with the comic? Pretty closely? For the most part.There are moments/events in the tweets (which I did in real-time during my own life) that probably won’t match up chronologically, or that I wish I could go back in revise. Because of the nature of the platform, editing is pretty difficult.

Is the comic caught up to the Twitter yet? Not yet, unfortunately. A lot still has to happen in the comic. Bitty’s tweets were in real time and I cannot draw as fast as he tweets! For more info on Bitty’s Twitter check out the FAQ.

Will you be sharing more tweets! Yes, but not for some time! November is actually around the time the last updates took place.

[syndicated profile] omgcheckplease_feed


The Check, Please! Year Two Kickstarter is Ending! 

Well–that was fast. And incredible. (And…’swawesome?) And while it’s been a spectacular ride, the Check, Please: Year Two Kickstarter is coming to an end. You guys demolished every goal and stretch goal that was put forth, so now everyone’s getting more free stuff!

So if you’re interested, there’s still time–Check it out! ☆

There’s only 24 hours to go!


Oct. 20th, 2016 07:52 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Last week brought with it all the magnificent wonders of Rhinebeck, and what a great time it was. I can’t tell you how much I love that time of year, and the people I spend it with.  Both days of the festival turned out to be sweater weather, brilliant for people watching (I took a lot of notes about the beautiful things I saw people wearing) and for wearing my own sweater – finished and blocked on Rhinebeck eve.

bootswool-2016-10-20 allofus-2016-10-20 licksheep-2016-10-20 llama-2016-10-20

I did the festival with a bad cold this year, and though I fear I was patient zero for the annual Rhinebeck Crud that seems to make it’s way around every year, me and my box of tissues managed to have a pretty good time. (Apologies to any of you I met on the weekend and refused to hug or shake hands with – I swear I was just trying not to spread it around. Extra apologies if it didn’t work.)



baa-2016-10-20 sheep1-2016-10-20-1

littlewave2-2016-10-20 sweaterdetail-2016-10-20

Sweater: Little Wave, Yarn: Blackwater Abbey in Pippin. (5 skeins) I love how it turned out – it’s a bit big, but I wanted a workhorse of a sweater, a cozy grampa kind of thing, and it suits perfectly. (Photo Credits to Caro)

littlewave1-2016-10-20 littlewave3-2016-10-20

(As an aside, I didn’t know my hair was that grey until I saw those pictures.)

When Rhinebeck was all said and done, I went back to Boston with friends, and awaited some papers that need to come through before I leave the US. I had big plans to rent myself a cheap spot for a while, hunker down and work, and have a good look at Boston. I thought it would be lovely. Apparently I’m not the only one who thought so, because when I went looking for a place even slightly affordable, it was a total bust. I got on the phone with Joe, and while we were chatting, we had a crazy idea. We looked for cheap flights and cheap hotel rooms, and well.  It was Las Vegas.  In a move that was totally and completely unlike me in every way, at 3pm I bought a ticket to Vegas that departed at 6pm, booked a hotel that had a sale, and left for the airport.

All the way to the airport, I couldn’t believe what I was doing. I’m a planner. A person who thinks ahead, a person who absolutely doesn’t buy a same day plane ticket and who certainly doesn’t buy a ticket to Las Vegas. Still, there I was… the plane was a little delayed leaving Boston, and I worried about missing my connection in LA- but we made up the time in the air, and landed in plenty of time to make it, and I would have made that connection too, except there was no gate to pull into. We sat there on the tarmac, with me anxiously checking the clock every fourteen seconds, until I watched the plane I should have been on push back from the gate, taxi away, and take off without me on it.

Now, despite lacking spontaneity as a personality trait, I am a pretty seasoned traveller, so I didn’t panic straight off. Heaven only knows what time the last flight goes to Vegas. I’ve seen lots of movies and it seemed to me like anything would be possible. I sat there on the plane for 75 minutes, until we pulled into a gate, and I disembarked, and hustled straight to the help desk. I won’t tell you the whole thing, but suffice it to say that it had been the last flight to Vegas that I’d been booked on, and they were very sorry, but there were no flights with room on them the next day either – the best they could do was to bump me to another carrier, and put me on an 8am flight out. I sighed, accepted the vouchers for the shuttle and the hotel, and went to find my luggage.

Things got worse from there. It took a long time for them to retrieve my bags. There was no shuttle, and when I got to the hotel, there was a problem with the voucher that took a while to resolve. I stood there, leaning on the desk and finally convinced the guy that maybe he could work on the problem while I was sleeping? If I gave him a credit card as insurance? He agreed, and I fell into a bed of questionable quality at 2:30am.

When my alarm went off at 5:45am – just three hours and 15 minutes later, I couldn’t help but wonder if spontaneity was for me.

Back at the airport, I lined up for my new flight, and when I found myself at the front of the line, I presented my ticket, issued the night before, and stared blankly and somewhat dumbly at the clerk as she told me I wasn’t booked on that flight at all. I showed her the ticket again – pointed at the place where my name was clearly indicated, showed her the time… and she agreed that all of those things were right, but that there was no record that matched.  I’d have to go back to the other airline and figure out what happened, she couldn’t help me.  I went outside the terminal and waited for the bus (because I am of course, at the wrong building) and thought about what my approach would be when I got back to the offending airline. Would I start with the gate delay that had wrecked the connection? Maybe the problem finding my luggage, or the 3 agents that were there to help 40 people who missed connections, or the vouchers for the shuttle that wasn’t running, or the messed up voucher for the hotel, or would I just focus on the fact that they’d not properly fixed any of that. I got angrier and angrier as I wrestled my two suitcases off of the bus, and was close to tears of fury when I finally made my way to the right desk.

Unbelievably, right when I was about to lose it all over this unsuspecting clerk, I remembered that she hadn’t done anything wrong at all. She’d just gotten up and gone to work, poor lamb, and here I was, about to rip the living snot out of her. None of this was her fault. I took several deep breaths – literally, and then I told her that. I told her that I was so sorry. I told her that I’d had three hours sleep, and that I was going to try and be as nice as humanly possible about the problem I was having, but that I couldn’t have any more problems. I really needed help, I told her, and then I blurted out the whole thing, inserting as many apologies as I possibly could, sprinkling it with as much gratitude as I could find, and generally tried to be as charming as I know how to be.  She listened carefully, and then she said “that sounds like a pile of ****.” (Accurate.) Then she apologized, and started typing and making phone calls and figured things out, and I kept thanking her and telling her she was wonderful, and somehow, magically, I was on the 8am flight to Las Vegas that they had told me was impossible the night before.

I could have kissed her on the mouth, and if I didn’t still have a cold and there wasn’t a counter to tall to scale between us, I probably would have. I’m so glad I managed to contain the rage that was seething inside me, heard my mum’s voice telling me that you catch more flies with honey, and remembered what it was like to be in the service industry when someone was feeling … like I felt. It paid off.

So… long story short, greetings from Las Vegas. I’ve got a couple of days on my own here, and then Joe’s taking the plunge and meeting me for an adventure, and bringing some more appropriate clothing, which will be a huge relief, because I packed for autumn in Boston.

Until then, if you see someone knitting, wearing jeans, wool socks and boots while googling “what do you do in Vegas if you don’t gamble” know that I’m doing the best I can. There’s four sweaters in my suitcase. It’s hard to fit in.

(PS to Joe: Bring sunscreen.)


[syndicated profile] aqueductpress_feed

Posted by Timmi Duchamp

The new issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone is out. It features poetry by Gwynne Garfinkle and Sonya Taaffe and an essay about anger by L. Timmel Duchamp; the issue's Grandmother Magma column is by Sarah Zettel, writing about work by Elisabeth Sanxay-Holding; David Findlay, Nancy Jane Moore, and J. M. Siorova contribute reviews; and Madeline Galbraith is our featured artist. You purchase the issue here and download the April 2016 issue for free here.

Current Issue: Volume 6, Number 4 October 2016
Sometimes Anger Is the Necessary Response: Reading Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick
  by  L. Timmel Duchamp
Una O’Connor unleashes her scream
   by Gwynne Garfinkle

A Death of Hippolytos
The Other Lives
   by Sonya Taaffe

Grandmother Magma
The Girl We Forgot (and Really Shouldn’t Have) Sarah Zettel on Speak of the Devil and Other Work by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

The Apothecary’s Curse, by Barbara Barnett
   reviewed by J.M. Sidorova

Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene , by Donna Haraway
   reviewed by Nancy Jane Moore

Sleeping Under the Tree of Life ,
by Sheree Renée Thomas
   reviewed by David Findlay

Featured Artist
Madeline Galbraith

The Night Bus

Oct. 20th, 2016 09:19 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

We chatted on the way to the airport with the WheelTrans driver who works the night shift. We were her last passengers of the day. I'd asked her to tell me about her shift. What's it's like on the night bus that ferries people with disabilities from one place to another throughout the night. If I had the energy I'd patent that as an idea for a reality television show. She laughed and talked about driving people from bars, and casinos and movies and shows from their homes and back. I made a few jokes about driving drunks and gamblers around and she said that she had a story or two to tell, as a professional woman, she didn't tell them but her chuckle was explicit.

In a way I wished that this conversation could have been taped so that it could be played for those who are newly disabled or for those who have a pity approach to disability. It was such a fun conversation about people living real, adult lives doing real, adult things. Partying. Gambling. Hitting a late night movie. Catching a live show. Drinking. Dancing, Attempting to do the nasty in the back seat. LIVING with a disability. Not laying in wait for death, with a disability.

Some of those who constantly think that euthanasia is the answer simply can't imagine that life with a disability can simply be life with a disability. If someone with a disability who rode the night bus had written 'Me Before You' it would have been a short story about two people arguing over who got to throw up in the toilet first after a drunken night out. 

And here, on the night bus, we sat. Sober. Serious. Contemplating a 14 hour trip from home in Toronto to hotel in Whitehorse. That's a helluva trip with or without a wheelchair. Just happens that the wheelchair is an integral part of the 'getting there' process. And it's not 'getting to' death's door, it's getting to a city in one of Canada's territories, a place of adventure.

Riding the night bus, a good start to what turned out to be a great day.

Debate night!

Oct. 20th, 2016 12:05 am
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

In 2011, only 30 percent of white evangelicals said that a candidate's personal morality shouldn't disqualify them from public office. In 2016, 71 percent of evangelicals say this. Plus some Aimee Mann. (Consider this post your discuss-the-debate and/or avoid-the-debate open thread.)

The post Debate night! appeared first on slacktivist.

[syndicated profile] omgcheckplease_feed

The Check, Please! Year Two Kickstarter is Ending! 

Well–that was fast. And incredible. (And…’swawesome?) And while it’s been a spectacular ride, the Check, Please: Year Two Kickstarter is coming to an end. You guys demolished every goal and stretch goal that was put forth, so now everyone’s getting more free stuff!

So if you’re interested, there’s still time–Check it out! ☆

[syndicated profile] lovelybike_feed

Posted by Velouria

Firstly, a warning. This post is a product of months of obsession. As such, it is a little technical. And more than a little tedious. And of limited interest to anyone who doesn't live in a part of the world plagued with crazy, un-cyclable wind conditions. Nevertheless, crosswinds really are a big deal for some of us. And as it took me three years to stumble upon a solution, I wanted to share my recent experience.

It began when I started to ride a prototype bike for a project I'm working on with Seven Cycles. Until then I had been content to leave well enough alone. Which is to say, I had come to terms with being unable to ride my (lightweight, modern) roadbike in extremely windy conditions, when the cross-winds would get so bad they would blow me off the roads. I had mentioned this problem to several industry contacts since my move to Ireland; I have even written about it here. Over time I received a lot of advice. And while much of that advice was conflicting, two factors were mentioned again and again as potential culprits: (1) deep rims, and (2) light weight.

Since my own roadbike was not equipped with deep rim wheels (the Mavic Ksyriums I had used from 2012 onward have 22mm rims on the front, 25mm on the rear), I concluded it must be the weight - both of the wheels and the bike itself. It seemed logical enough to accept that a lightweight bike would get blown about the road more than a heavy bike. I would just have to live with not riding it on extremely windy days.

Then the project bike arrived. With its Ti-carbon frame and medley of lightweight components, it was lighter than my Axiom by a good 2lb. When I expressed concerns about this in relation to cross-winds, one of the engineers at Seven suggested that a specific set of wheels - Mavic's R-Sys model - might help. I was cautiously optimistic.

The wheels didn't help. They got rid of the problem entirely.

I could hardly believe it at first and it took me some time to trust the bike on increasingly longer rides in bad weather. But time after time, it really did seem impervious to sideways gusts. Not only compared to my lightweight modern roadbike, but compared to all my bikes, including much heavier ones. So much for the "heavier is better" theory.

There was one time in particular when I was testing the proto bike with its magic wheels, and got caught on a mountain pass just as the weather turned. The wind blew directly from the side at over 20 knots along the exposed road. I prepared for the possibility of having to dismount and walk. But while I felt the wind's force on my body, the bicycle seemed not to care. The front wheel went where I wanted it to. And the bike stayed planted on the road.

It can't be the wheels, I thought at first, and looked for other explanations. The magic-wheel project bike, designed by me, had low-trail geometry. So perhaps it was that rather than the wheels? But fitting the wheels on my Axiom (with mid-trail front end geo) yielded the same results. It was indeed the wheels.

The realisation was frustrating to accept. It felt foolish to have struggled against crosswinds for 3 years not realising that the right set of wheels could instantly fix the problem. But also, Mavic R-Sys wheels are expensive. There had to be an alternative! What I hoped for, was to figure out what it was about these specific wheels that made them so good at resisting crosswinds, then look for those same features in a more moderately priced wheelset.

One thing that immediately struck me as odd, is that the R-Sys and Ksyrium models reacted to cross-winds so differently despite their identical rim depths. The biggest difference I could see, was that the Ksyriums used bladed spokes, whereas the R-Sys used mostly round ones (round on the front wheel, round and bladed on the rear). Were round spokes the answer?

As it happened, we soon had a set of modern performance wheels with round spokes in the house, from the sexy Italian builder Spada. I tested them before they went on one of my husband's bikes. Our impressions were similar: The wheels rode like butter. And they were certainly better at resisting crosswinds than the Ksyriums. But still not as good as the Mavic R-Sys. Despite having round spokes and lower profile rims.

More surprisingly still, the Campagnolo Zonda wheels, which my husband had acquired for another build, beat the Spadas in the cross-wind resistance department, despite having bladed spokes.

This last bit in particular surprised me. Comparing the Campagnolo Zonda and the Mavic Ksyrium wheels side by side, they looked of the same ilk. Their weights, rim depths, spokes, were all very similar. So where was the difference coming from?

I thought about this for some time and could not come up with an answer.

Then one day, as I ran my hand along the Ksyrium rims while cleaning them, I noticed something interesting. The Ksyrium rims have a very sharply squared-off edge to them.

The Zonda rims have an edge that, to the naked eye looks similar, but in fact is ever so slightly rounded. The edge on the Spada wheels was somewhere in between the two. This alone seemed to be making a difference. A bigger difference than rim depth, and than whether the spokes were round or bladed.

I then reviewed the Mavic R-Sys wheels: a dramatically rounded edge. A "u-shaped" edge in current wheel design parlance, I believe. None of my other wheels had such dramatically rounded rims. Could this be the secret to crosswind resistance?

I kid not when I say that I grew a little bit obsessed over this. I even made a chart (and I never make charts! I mean, for godssake!) where I listed all the wheels that we had in the house. I labeled them according to weight (now I appreciate the husband recording these figures!), spoke shape, rim depth and rim shape. Then I gave each a "crosswind resistance score" on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being "wind is unnoticeable" and 10 being "bike becomes unridable."

The score corresponded most strongly with rim shape, where the more rounded the rim the more crosswind resistant the wheel. The shape of the spokes and the depth of the rims seemed to play comparatively marginal roles. And the weight of the wheels seemed to matter not at all.

But what to do with this information? After doing some research, I learned that the Mavic R-Sys wheels are actually rather unique in their combination of features in today's market. It seems that nobody really makes lightweight performance wheels with the qualities I am looking for anymore.

So the solution turned out to be old-school. What I have ended up with, is a set of positively scrumptious DIY wheels, built for me by an acquaintance (more on this later). They look "vintagey" but are shockingly lightweight, having been build with carefully selected parts and a low spoke count. They are also remarkably cushy, quick rolling, and fantastic at climbing. With their rounded, low(ish)-profile rims and round spokes, they resist crosswinds on par with the Mavic R-Sys for a fraction of the cost.

Oh, and they're tubular! But that too is a topic for another time. For while my crosswinds problem is solved, my wheel education has only just begun.

[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Who among us this election — except perhaps that elusive undecided voter — has not turned to a politically aligned friend and said, from their heart of hearts, “I just can’t understand how anyone could vote for Clinton/Trump”? The sheer mindbogglingness of it, the utter failure of so many Americans to even begin to fathom voting for the other candidate, is one of the most disturbing features of this election. We all seem to be asking: What could the other side be thinking!?

left: flickr photo by Sarah Hina; right: flickr photo by Darron Bergenheier.
left: flickr photo by Sarah Hina; right: flickr photo by Darron Bergenheier

Perhaps what we need is a “sociology of thinking.” And we’ve got one; it’s called cognitive sociology.

One of the foundational texts in the subfield is called Social Mindscapes. In it, the sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel argues that we think as individuals (we are all alone in our brains) and we think as human beings (with the cognitive processes that humans have inherited from evolution), but we also think as members of social groups. Our thinking, then, is not only idiosyncratic (i.e., “individual”), nor universal (i.e., “human”) — though it is both those things — it’s also social. Our thinking is influenced by the groups to which we belong, what Zerubavel called “thought communities.” These are the people with whom we enjoy a meeting of the minds.

By this, Zerubavel doesn’t simply mean that our social groups shape what information we get and what arguments resonate, though that’s true. He and other cognitive sociologists argue that our thought communities shape cognition itself, that the brains of people in strongly divergent thought communities literally work differently. To Zerubavel, the idea that many Democrats can’t begin to understand Republican thinking — and vice versa — isn’t a surprise, it’s a hypothesis.

Research on sensory perception is fun evidence for their claims. Researchers have shown, for example, that our language categories influence not just how we describe the world we see, but how we see it. The Himba in Namibia, for example — who have one word for blue and some greens and another word for other greens, reds, and browns — are better than English speakers at differentiating one shade of green from another, but worse at differentiating green and blue from each other. Likewise, Russian speakers are better than English speakers at differentiating shades of blue because they have more than one word for the color and English speakers, in turn, are better than Japanese speakers at recognizing the gradations between blue and green, because the Japanese have traditionally used only one word to describe them both.

If our membership in thought communities is powerful enough to shift our very perception of color, then it must be able to influence our thinking in many other ways, too. In Social Mindscapes, Zerubavel shows that what we pay attention to, the categories we use, what we remember, and even our perception of time are all shaped by our thought communities.

Accordingly, cognitive sociology would predict that the rising polarization in politics and the fragmentation of media will make it harder and harder to understand each other, not because we don’t agree on the facts or because we have different political interests, but because our brains are actually working in divergent ways. That is, what we’re experiencing with this election is not just political disagreement, it’s a total breakdown in functional communication, which sounds about right.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at


commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)

September 2016

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