Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Monday, June 30, 2008


There's a sequence of little articles in the Sunday NYT today, all about various aspects of the rising gas prices. In one of them, this woman writes about how she's persuaded her two teenaged daughters to cycle to most places, but there's this big problem she faces with helmet hair. That is, the teenaged daughters object to how their hair looks after they wear their helmets -- and they refuse to wear these helmets if they're going to any place that concerns "boys". The author says that the girls' rationale is that the few dollars they save by not driving will be more than offset by the years of therapy they'll have to undergo if the "boys" see them with helmet hair.


Last week TPB and I decided that dinner at the Chinese restaurant down the road was a more attractive proposition than the (undeniably tasty, yet multiply recycled) leftovers that inhabited our refrigerator. We popped onto our bikes and the-equivalent-of sauntered down for a relaxed meal in the late evening twilight. Before leaving, I had an aaah-what-the-hell moment as I contemplated my helmet and then decided that we were just going down the street, and we'd stay on the sidewalk anyway. We sauntered back after dinner with the leftovers, and on the way back across the street I saw this family with four kids riding away from us on the sidewalk, all helmeted, all with flashing lights under the backs of their seats.

The next day was sort of rainy so I decided to drive instead of bike to school. One the way home, two blocks from my street, I had one of those surreal moments. The music was on (the Stones). The traffic was flowing along at an even thirty. The lights were changing as I approached them. The penultimate one, the one before my turn, an unusual scene appeared to my left. This was where a side street ran away from me. A few cars had stopped at random angles in the intersection. A woman dressed in white was standing in the middle of the street. She was looking down. Her hands were by her ears. From the way her body moved, she was shrieking at the top of her voice. Despite the fact that I was barely ten meters from her, I could hear nothing. I followed her gaze. A bicycle lay on the road, one wheel spinning. A man lay next to it, face down. Dark brown blood was oozing from his forehead. It hadn't reached the ground yet. One arm lay crumpled under him. Another stuck out at a strange angle. It was twitching spasmodically: one, two, three, four times. All this I saw, as I floated past at 30 mph. Other on that side of the street cars stopped; other people got out. Many had cell phones to their ears. I decided that 911 had already been called -- it was best for me to move on.

I reached home and parked. Entering the house, I spoke for the first time since witnessing the accident; for the first time in a minute. I said to TPB: "Promise me -- neither of us is *ever* going out on our bikes without a helmet. This is a rule." She nodded. I described what I'd just seen.

I went in and got a drink of water.

Ten-odd minutes later, I heard an ambulance arrive.

Twenty-odd minutes later, on my way out to meet my tennis partner, I realized that all traffic had been diverted. Someone said that four cop cars had sealed the area off.

I thought about that poor twitching guy all evening. The local newspaper's website mentioned the accident, but very briefly. The images didn't leave me; worsened by the knowledge that the twitching may well have meant serious brain injury. The next morning I checked again, there was nothing, but by evening they'd updated to say that he had a cracked pelvis and head injuries, but was "alert" in the morning.

And that's the last I have heard of him. The poor fool who was riding helmetlessly.

Believe me, I'd rather have "helmet hair" than end up like him. It's just stupid to not wear a helmet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You were only waiting for this moment to arise

One knows how American news is full of local bullcrap, but it takes something special to make the Brits start talking about localized *American* events. Which is why the following story fills me with pleasure.

Chicago residents have been sharing tips about how to avoid coming under attack by dive-bombing blackbirds.

More radical suggestions aimed at fending off the swooping attackers have included mimicking the sound of a barking dog or even imitating a larger bird.

Another correspondent suggested cyclists should install baskets on their bikes with a cat inside. "Or better yet, wear an oversized helmet with a trap-door with a stealth cat inside."

Into the light of the dark black night.

From the Beeb.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fuel me once...

From today's NYT: The demand for fuel-efficient cars is so heavy that the production lines aren't being able to keep up. “This seismic shift in the marketplace has definitely taken us and everybody else by surprise,” said George Pipas, Ford’s market analyst. No shit, Sherlock!

No one saw this coming??

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I met and stayed with a long-lost friend in Budapest. He's a composer, but I hadn't expected him to turn me on to a fascinating new band. (Well, one I hadn't heard of before.)

There's not too much available online but you can check them out here.

Fukkeduk is yet another fascinating creation from the Belgian school of Avant-Chamber Rock. They consist of a wide array of musicians from violinist Rik Verstrepen (Cro-Magnon) to Producer/guitarist Nick Didkovsky (Doctor Nerve), with the kind compliments from the more than commendable woodwind, string and brass section. Binding many influences, Fukkeduk startle us with their tasteful fusion of Rock, Folk, Jazz and classical; along with anything else they could cram in-between. Fukkeduk keep their compositions short and to the point. The arrangement and structure is astounding; placing an almost anal precision behind every note, but still allowing an amazing characterization within each piece. Fukkeduk is a must for those who love their music energetic, intense, with a dash of humour on the side.

I also got to see two sets of first-rate jazz played in a basement cellar joint in Budapest. The cover charge was 1200 Forints; that's about 6 dollars. The place was done up like two rooms in someone's library, with books all over the walls and chairs arranged facing an improvised stage. You had to skip across the street to the grocery store to get your own wine but they'd give you a set of mismatched glasses to use. :-)

Budapest was great.