Category Archives: why

My local library does not supply my reread every tens years list. (I must move.) So I have inadvertently wandered into my reread every thirty odd years list. I didn’t know I had one of those. (I doubt I will see it again, so should savor while I can.)

I blame Matthew Crawford for this — gratefully.

The radio was a clue. You can’t really think hard about what you’re doing and listen to the radio at the same time. Maybe they didn’t see their job as having anything to do with hard thought, just wrench twiddling. If you can twiddle wrenches while listening to the radio that’s more enjoyable.

Their speed was another clue. They were really slopping things around in a hurry and not looking where they slopped them. More money that way — if you don’t stop to think that it usually takes longer or comes out worse.

But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions. They were hard to explain. Good-natured, friendly, easygoing — and uninvolved. They were like spectators. You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench. There was no identification wit the job. No saying, “I am a mechanic.” [….]

— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I remembering reading it, and liking it. Sometime around 1980, after I had learnt Fortran, before I learnt number theory and Gödel. Sadly I don’t remember my reaction.

I know I understand the road now. And the prairie. I don’t know if I underatnd the philosophy better yet.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford

A decline in tool use would seem to betoken a shift in our mode of inhabiting the world: more passive and more dependent.

The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world. But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.

Because craftsmanship refers to objective standards that do not issue from the self and its desires, it poses a challenge to the ethic of consumerism, […]. The craftsman is proud of what he has made, and cherishes it, while the consumer discards things that are perfectly serviceable in his restless pursuit of the new.

The craftsman’s habitual deference is not toward the New, but toward the distinction between the Right Way and the Wrong Way. However narrow in its application, this is a rare appearance in contemporary life — a disinterested, articulable, and publicly affirmable idea of the good. Such a strong ontology is somewhat at odds with the cutting-edge institutions of the new capitalism, and with the educational regime that aims to supply those institutions with suitable workers […].

There is always a risk of introducing new complications when working on decrepit machines, and this enters the diagnostic logic. Measured in likelihood of screw-ups, the cost is not identical for all avenues of inquiry when deciding which hypothesis to pursue.

also The Case for Working With Your Hands by Matthew B Crawford

The elite place

Portalnd has become the elite place it alway wanted to be.
So goes the nation.

The Distance Between Bike Economics And Social Justice by Adonia Lugo

It seems like the bike movement, or at least its policy arm, has decided that their goal of getting more people on bikes is not in conflict with the goal of making urban neighborhoods more expensive, […].

Upper class cycling culture and the demise of Portland’s bike movement by Elly Blue
Where she writes about bicycles and Portland, read broadly, very broadly.

back to Adonia:

If influential people have decided who, exactly, they want to attract to cycling, maybe the question we should be asking is if you build it, who will be replaced? The drive to bring in desirables leaves aside the question of who gets categorized as undesirable. I wonder if an unspoken goal of bike advocates uncomfortable with race, class, and cultural difference is to create urban zones free of these problems by simply vanishing, through the unquestionably objective means of the market, people unlike themselves. After all, using urban planning to rid cities of undesirables is nothing new.

back to Elly: How to Bike While Rich by Elly Blue

But Elly…you’re talking about ME!

Stuff That White People Like: #61 Bicycles


A terrorized child, I was fearful, and thought myself fearful. The impression of a crucial dozen years remains. I still think myself fearful — mistakenly.

The practice of aikido became part of me and changed me without my notice. Daily I stepped into attack to deflect it.

The suppression of fear, the confidence of movement took hold, became habit.

I remember fantasies of violence-power. I grew up with the experience of violence and rich depictions of magical violence-power beyond the dreams of any gunslinger.

I had precociously aging college athletes as incompetent PE instructors, excepting one who sported a paunch with almost pride. I took some solace in not being the fat kid, though he gotten beaten not at all, and did not then appreciate the unique cultivated paunch.

Randy did many things well, had many attainments and ranks along with his paunch, and to him I owe aikido along with a quiet utilitarian approach to the weight room.

He also helped cement an aversion to more stereotypical expressions of testosterone and all manifestations of adrenaline.

Quietly without notice he began the undoing of all notions of strength I had received at the end of a fist and the end of a cathode ray tube.

The ideal of aikido comes in both the aggressor and defender experiencing no harm. We may interpret harm broadly. Ahimsa.

Thank you Randy.