Saturday, July 26, 2008

Critical Mass - Cool Idea But Lousy Execution

Critical Mass is a group that organizes a large bicycle rides to assert bicycle riders rights to use the roads. In theory this is a great idea but in practice I think it does little but inspire irritation and hatred for bicycle riders in general. Today in Seattle, it even sparked an avoidable incident.
For years, bicyclists involved with Critical Mass have gathered monthly to ride through Seattle streets in a show of support for the rights of bicyclists. For the most part, Seattle police have taken a hands-off approach to the riders, although the protest tactics include filling the streets with bikes, putting a stop to vehicular traffic.

The riders were employing such a tactic just as the motorist and his companion were about to drive off, Jamieson said.

"The bicyclists were using both sides of the roadway, effectively blocking traffic," he said.

An altercation with the driver ensued and some of those on bikes began sitting on his car and hitting the vehicle, Jamieson said.

The driver tried to back up, he said, and struck a bike.

Bicyclists began attacking the vehicle.

"They broke his windshield and they broke the rear window and did some additional body damage," Jamieson said.

The article doesn't say the bicycle rider that was backed into was seriously hurt so I imagine it was just scrapes and bruises. The surrounding bicyclists could have done the responsible thing and written down the license plate number of the car, help their fellow bicyclist and maybe even block the car in so he couldn't leave until they could get Seattle PD to come. Instead, they decided to become a mob and assault the driver and damage his car.

The driver needs to be held accountable for his actions but the militant bike riders should also be held accountable for theirs. This is the kind of incident that damages the reputation of Critical Mass and the cause they are fighting for. It's similar to the eco-terrorists (I do hate that term) that do more harm than good for environmentalist causes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

$750,000 Buys a LOT of Arugula, Even at Whole Foods

CNN's Hardball, without Chris Matthews had a fascinating segment last Friday on whether Barak Obama is too cool. The segment was basically a rehash of whether Obama is too "elitist" to understand what its like to be an average American. I suppose this may be a legitimate question. Everybody wants a president that is in touch with the day to day problems that we encounter: the price of food, increasing gas prices and the like. However, instead of having a real discussion of the topic the one of the Hardball panel members, Margaret Carlson, tries to make the point that both candidates wives are out of touch citing Cindy McCain's one month $750,000 credit card bill and the fact that Michelle Obama mentioned shopping at Whole Foods for arugula and how hard it is to get fresh fruit. (h/t Crooks & Liars) She says this seemingly very seriously and without irony. Her fellow panel members don't protest her comparison they just kind of snicker in the background when she says "arugula."

Now let me get this straight. Michelle Obama worries about high food prices when she shops at Whole Foods for arugula and fresh fruit and this makes her as elitist and out of touch as Cindy McCain who runs up a $750,000 credit card bill in a month? You have got to be kidding me!

Look, I don't buy arugula, but I do shop at Whole Foods for organic fruits and vegetables when I can afford it. Whole Foods is expensive but spending $5.00 a pound for lettuce or whatever doesn't make you an elitist it makes you someone who likes a kick ass fresh salad. Practically everyone goes food shopping and worries about prices but when was the last time you had a $750,000 credit card bill?

I hate the word 'elitist" but if you are going to apply it to one person in this scenario it sure as hell isn't going to be Michelle Obama. This is one of many examples of the media trying to make a controversy or create a story where one doesn't exist. It's really sad that they spend their time on this type of thing instead of comparing what the candidates are saying or doing.