Bikes not bombs

November 16, 2015 § 33 Comments

Three days after the attacks in Paris most Americans have done all they will ever do: Shown their solidarity on social media with a cute French flag makeover.

A few people will take things a step farther and forcefully argue their thoughtful opinions. “Bomb those fucking terrorist Arab motherfuckers back into the Stone Age,” is a common refrain. These folks seem not to realize that we’ve done exactly that, and that Stone Age people are remarkably resilient and persistent and inventive. The Stone Agers now have a new country, a fully functioning oil economy, access to international finance, and a modern global media empire with a message that is somewhat more successful in enlisting support than, say, “An Army of 1,” or “Free College Tuition and a $10,000 Signing Bonus and a $100,000 Death Payout for Your Parents.”

Me? I think it is pretty simple. When you start a war you have to finish it. And if you don’t finish it then you’re still at war. And if you’re still at war the other guy will keep killing your guys. And you’ll keep killing his. Etc.

So how do you finish a war? That too is pretty simple. Someone has to say, “Let’s stop fighting now,” and the other side has to agree. In the old days the guy who said “Let’s stop fighting now,” was the guy getting his ass kicked. He waved a white flag or his army dropped their shit and ran away and the generals signed papers that said “You kicked our butt good my bad how much do I owe you?”

Then people continued on until they got mad again, usually about having lost the previous war, and the whole thing recycled.

It is pretty clear that our new war has way too many parties to ever stop. Like whack-a-mole, Whack-a-Stone-Ager results in a new pissed off group popping up and picking up where the smeared remains of the last Stone Ager left off, usually because one of our planes mistakenly bombed their wedding or bombed their hospital or bombed their kindergarten or bombed their peaceful village.

Nowadays there’s not even anyone on the other side to sign anything, even if they wanted to stop fighting. In fact, there is no “other side.”

It’s just a bunch of mad people with guns, kind of like Texas, except that lots more people died at the hands of mad Americans with guns in 2013 than, say, died from anything ISIS ever did. Even though the 34,000 Americans shot to death by each other aren’t nearly as important as the 129 people shot in France over the weekend, the landscape is the same: The war is unending, there’s no one to make peace with, and random killing is something that is a sad fact of life, kind of like herpes.

The good news is that while people debate whether the best solution to war is to post something clever on Twitter or to bomb the people we’ve already bombed into the Neolithic back even farther, say to the Mesolithic or even the Upper Paleolithic, there is something fun and simple you can do for world peace:

Ride your fuggin’ bike and encourage everyone else to ride theirs, too.

Here are some Bicycle Peace Facts:

  1. No one ever invaded another country on a bike. Successfully, I mean.
  2. When you are riding a bike you feel happy instead of wanting to kill strangers. Unless you are racing.
  3. When given the choice, children will choose riding bikes over killing people.
  4. Children always prefer riding bikes with their parents rather than burying them.
  5. Regular bicycle exercise makes you fit, whereas being blown to bits by a cluster bomb does not.
  6. Fat generals and politicians on bikes are too out of breath to give commands like “Invade!” or “Kill!” or “Bomb them into the Stone Age!”
  7. When you put a terrorist on a bike, he will pedal madly for a while before he gets tired and thirsty, then bonks, then stops at a convenience store for some Gatorade and a piss, after which he sits down on the curb, hangs his head, gives up on the destination, and prepares for the trip home.
  8. You can’t be full aero with a suicide belt. Plus, they are too heavy and slow you down on the climbs.
  9. An entire nation can be terrified of getting shot at, but not at being ridden past.
  10. If you invite someone for a coffee ride, they will like you.



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§ 33 Responses to Bikes not bombs

  • Denise Speight says:

    FBI has homicide deaths by gin at 8500 for 2013. The 34,000 number must include suicides.

    • Denise Speight says:

      Sorry for the typo… I blame the Samsung autocorrect.

      *homicide deaths by gun

    • fsethd says:

      Yes, it does. And death by gin doesn’t sound so bad.

    • darelldd says:

      >> FBI has homicide deaths by [gun] at 8500 for 2013. The 34,000 number must include suicides. <<

      We have an eerily similar statistic for annual US violent deaths that do *not* include suicide: Death by automobile.

      It would appear that we lose another ~100 people per day (only counting the direct deaths) to automobile crashes.

      But… these aren't traditional acts of terrorism, even if they *daily* dwarf the horrible 1-time Paris situation. I guess the gun and car deaths are so spread out that we don't notice them? Or are they merely acceptable losses? The price of modern society that we're willing to accept?

      Boggles the mind: 10's of thousands of injuries, and 100 deaths EVERY DAY by automobile. In the US alone.

      Bikes not bombs, indeed.

  • Tamar T. says:

    Hope you don’t mind, I’m sharing on facebook. Next to all the Red White and Blue profile pictures (not mine, it has me in front of the Eiffel Tower). To add, though, there are numerous stone age factions. The bombings in Beirut last week was one violent terrorist Islamist “caliphate” targeting another violent Islamist terror group (hezbollah) for being the “wrong” kind of muslims (Shiite).

    • fsethd says:

      And then there’s that place south of Beirut. Africa, I think it’s called? There are some pissed off people there, too. And Oklahoma.

  • Brian in VA says:

    You’re on to something here, Wanky!

  • Michelle Landes says:

    Love this Wanky 🇺🇸🚲💙❤️

  • Carlos says:

    When I visited Nicaragua in the mid-80’s, during the war U.S. proxy war against Nicaragua, I met a young guy slaving away in a little shack attempting to put together or repair a bunch of old decrepit department store bikes that had been donated to the Nicaraguan people by the U.S. people who happened to want peace. That program was called Bikes Not Bombs. That kid was a racer from Santa Barbara, Sean O’reilley. As of two years ago he still lived in Nicaragua with his family and was active in the bike industry and in bringing bike racing back to that impoverished country. The successor to Bikes Not Bombs became Bikes For The World, still doing the same thing:

    • fsethd says:

      So cool. Thank you for sharing.

      • Carlos says:

        I thought I’d also share my FB reply to a cycling friend’s post about Paris:
        I’ll play the devil’s advocate, but this is not to be interpreted as an advocate for anything or anyone else. France has been in the forefront of the Syrian debacle, insisting on Assad’s removal and sending war planes against ISIS. But aside from this relatively recent moment in time, France, as many other former European empires has a long and less-than-tasteful colonial past. In 1884 Jules Ferry, 49th Prime Minister of France and proponent of colonial expansion declared, “The higher races have a right over the lower races”. That paternalism has lasted in French foreign policy and I’d dare say continues until today, albeit in more subtle ways. Is it a surprise then, that yesterday’s event occurred? Only to the naive. With relatives in France (but not Paris) I feel for French citizens, as I feel for all innocent victims of war and senseless acts of violence, but some of the blood that ran in the streets can be found on the hands of the French government.

        • fsethd says:

          Discussing the roots of war is important, but rarely leads to cessation of conflict. The combatants themselves have to want to stop fighting, and no one at the top seems to understand that all parties seem pretty keen on more fighting, not less.

    • Worldchamp says:

      Is Sean related to Olympian cyclist Rory O’Reilly? He also lives in Santa Barbara.

  • Waldo says:

    Everything would be so much better if we just group-hug and sing kumbicycle.

  • You should run for office…Sethi for President…I volunteer to be your campaign manager…elections are my thing 😉

    • fsethd says:

      When I lived in Japan teaching English, some of my students had a lot of trouble with the proper pronunciation of “r.”

      I’ll never forget the day in November when a very pretty young lady asked me how I felt about erections.

  • Midland says:

    Thanks Seth. Needed that on my Monday morning.

  • LesB says:

    11. People out in their underwear are not inclined to go to war.

  • Worldchamp says:

    #10 is the most important part, IMHO. I feel that while “tribes” are revolutionizing marketing and branding, they’re also destroying our world. All the gun violence you mention falls into the same hole. It’s easy for people to bond with people they like and agree with. It’s easy to be talked into hating those people and ideas you don’t know or understand. It’s hard work to step out of your comfort zone and meet, talk, and know people that are different than you are. Issues and cultures can’t be boiled down to sound bites. It takes time and effort to understand. But until the world decides that it’s important to step out of their comfort zone to integrate “outsiders” into their world, we will continue to have this violence.

    • fsethd says:

      Which is a nice thing about bicycling. I’ve met and spoken civilly to and become friends with so many people who don’t live in my echo chamber.

  • Winemaker says:

    Agree, Seth.
    Two items though…
    First – Us ‘Mericans and Nato and French and whatnot have not used bombing as anything more than a stopgap bandaid. Real bombing is pretty intense, and our President doesn’t want to do that….yet. War is a
    fairly ugly exercise, and we should try to avoid it.
    Second – Anarchy is not necessarily a bad thing….the premise most have is that the population of the world is too big; and a lot of sect-like groups think ‘others’ have it all wrong, so the ‘others’ deserve to die; Western powers like doing what you call the “stone age reversion” thang, but haven’t used the big one, as Randy Newman used to sing, Since 1945, nuclear weapons have been the most feared threat to reducing the population, and even more feared now that peace loving nations like North Korea and Iran have them in the pipeline.

  • Jeff says:

    I got run out of the teachers lounge this morning for sharing similar thoughts. Ironically, most teachers react very violently towards anyone who actually uses their critical thinking skills. Thanks for keeping yours sharp.

  • JF says:

    The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a bicycle is a good guy with a bicycle.

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