10.30.2006

Ideas

Ideas have consequences...some consequences of ideas are unpleasant, but that does not prove the idea to be false.

Here is an idea...

There are some people (A)who have convinced large numbers of other people (B) that a certain group of still other people (C) that group `C` people aren`t really human. The consequences have been catastrophic for group `C`.

For example, Group A, the Nazi Party convinced Group B, the German public, that Group C (Jews, gypsies, gays, the handicapped) were sub-human...you know the rest of the story.

Another example, people were convinced that blacks were sub-human...

Still another...Group A (PETA, Planned Parenthood) have convinced Group B (media, too many politicians) that Group C (pre-born children) are sub-human...

Another idea...

Somebody thought it would be a good idea to plan cities around the automobile...the consequences have been far reaching. Let me start a list.

-over-reliance on oil
-increased global warming
-alienation from nature and each other
-
-

Please add your own...its lunch time.

10.28.2006

More thoughts

Interesting points raised in the comments of my previous post. Feel free to take a look.

I guess there has to be a starting point when thinking about such things. I would suggest that a good place to start would be with a general law of logic, the Law of Non-contradiction.

"It is not possible that something be both true and not true at the same time and in the same context."

Accordingly, I cannot say that I own a Rivendell bicycle in one statement and in the very next statement say that I do not own a Rivendell bicycle. Both statements cannot be true if I am speaking about 'a Rivendell bicycle' in the same context each time.

Also, the Law of the Excluded Middle says that if you have two contradictory statements, one of them must be true. Either I have a Rivendell bicycle or I do not, there is no middle option.

There are other things that are true about truth.

Making a true statement is not necesarily arrogant or intolerant. A person's attitude may be when he is speaking the truth (or speaking non-truth), but speaking the truth is not in itself arrogant or intolerant.

We can know the truth. We all believe this because we all think that we are right about what we believe. If we didn't think we were right we wouldn't believe it, nor would we defend it.

10.23.2006

Mental Detour...

**This Post has been edited since first published. Edits are in italics.**

I have been listening to the Stand to Reason weekly podcasts on my way to and from work for the last week or so and I must admit to being in somewhat of a state of cognitive dissonance.

Here are some things that I believe to be true...in no particular order.

There are some things which are, for lack of a better term, objectively true. Their truth is not dependent upon the opinion, nationality, orientation or whatever of the speaker.

Many things that we think are objectively true really aren't. They are just opinions.

Some things that are objectively true include natural laws (gravity, thermodynamics) and moral laws (the torture of innocent people is wrong).

Contemporary society is rapidly changing from a 'modern' mindset to a 'postmodern' one.

The Church of the modern age had better change in order to influence a postmodern culture. The Church must learn to speak the language of postmodernism.

I agree with Greg Koukl. I agree with Brian McLaren. Greg Koukl (www.str.org) and Brian McLaren (www.brianmclaren.net) disagree with each other.

Dialogue is better than monologue, but sometimes monologue is necessary.

Diplomacy is better than bombs, but sometimes bombs are necessary.

All humans have certain rights simply because they are human.

Humans have invented 'rights' that are really privileges.

Every right implies a responsibility.

I could be wrong about a whole lot of things.

The American/Canadian 'Dream' is really a nightmare.

Spiritual certainty is an oxymoron because faith cannot exist in the abscence of doubt.

Spiritual certainty is a necessity because without it, we cannot have a meaningful discussion about anything.

Measurement is impossible without an absolute.

The earth was created. It happened sometime before about 1973. I know that much for sure because I was born in `73. So I guess the earth had to exist before that. My parents say they were born in the late 40`s. I suppose I can believe them, so I guess that would mean the earth was around then too. I have heard that my grandparents were born in the early 1900`s. Beyond that, things are a little more fuzzy.

I totally support a person`s (man, woman, child) right to choose.

A person`s right to choose is predicated on the responsibility to choose that which is morally correct. It matters what is being chosen.
........

Your thoughts??

Bike Pics


Here is a sampling of some of the bikes available in our local grocery store.




















Not sure who designed this bike or what he was smoking at the time, but it will set you back $150 CAD.







Here are some of the bikes that are in our bike shed.



This is a very typical folding bike belonging to one of our neighbours.












Family station wagon. Notice the placement of the seat, standard colour and standard issue kickstand. All you need to do is add an umbrella holder and pogies and you have a complete mama's bike.

10.21.2006

Kinkayama





The mountains in Japan actually spit boulders.













What you can see from the viewpoint... this is looking west over Gifu City. You can see the Nagara river snaking through town. The route that I took followed the dyke on the west side of the river.



Same viewpoint looking south...if you can get the full size picture (I'm not sure what Blogger does with pictures) you should be able to distinguish Ichinomiya Tower in the centre and the twin towers at Nagoya Station in the far distance. These pictures were taken with my ketai (cell phone) so they are not great quality.





These flowers are called "higan bana". They bloom in the fall along the river banks and are quite exquisite. The picture below was taken last fall with my real camera (Canon PowerShot A520 4MP).

10.19.2006

Cycling in Japan II

Some other random thoughts about cycling in Japan...

One of the coolest things about living here is that our kids have learned to play in ways that they never would have back home.

One of the things that Selah has almost mastered is the ichidencha...aka, unicycle. The kids` school has a class set of unicycles that the kids are free to use during their free time. I have tried a few times...they are diffucult to ride. selah seems to have no trouble. You can buy a unicycle in most bike shops. They are even available in our local grocery store for about $50.

One of my enduring memories of Japan will be the cycling team that trains on the dyke. It appears that they are a junior team (15-18 years old?). They all wear the same white jersey and black shorts. No logos. No euro kits. They also wear these massive white helmets. They remind me of Dark Helmet from Spaceballs.

Bikes here are kinda like station wagons back home. Our neighbour routinely carries both of her children on her bike. One in a kiddie-catapult seat in the back, the other in a seat attached to the top tube. They never wear helmets.

There is a law here against carrying an open umbrella while riding your bike. This law is widely ignored by everyone...especially the grandma`s . Many stores sell clear plastic umbrellas to make it easier to see while you ride in the rain or hot sun holding your umbrella. They also sell an attachment for your bike that will hold your umbrella for you.

Most grandmas have massive pogies on their handlebars, summer and winter.

There is a construction worker near my house that rides to work on a pink bike very similar to my daughter`s.

Another enduring image of cycling in Japan is the high school or college boy with his girlfriend sitting on the rack behind his seat in her school uniform with the skirt hiked way up sending text messages or playing games on her phone, or else fixing her hair or makeup.

Some things you will never see in North America...

10.17.2006

Cycling in Japan

There are a few things about Japan that are different from back home...you may have noticed if you read this blog on a regular basis. Cycling is one of them.

Many people ride bikes. The bikes that they ride are very generic bikes that look like the bike your mom rode in the 60`s.

Many people also ride scooters or other small motorbikes. Anyone with a Japanese driver`s liscence can drive one of these little machines of death, as long as they are under 50 cc.

What I have noticed is that drivers here are very accustomed to passing bikes and scooters on the road and they are generally very polite about it. Drivers know that they will have to pass slow, two-wheeled transportation devices and they make the appropriate allowances. This is true even when there is no discernible shoulder or bike lane.

Another difference is that while bikes are technically vehicles, almost everyone rides on the sidewalk, including the scooters. They will also pass cars that are stopped at a red light. Cyclists and motorcyclists do this and I have never seen a driver complain. Everyday, I see people on motorbikes travelling between lanes of traffic to get to the front of the line of cars.

I have been here for 15 months now and have yet to see any indication of road rage that is so common on the roads back home. Many of you cyclists will appreciate my stories of having various items thrown at me from passing cars, people screaming at me with the deliberate intention to scare the crap out of me (and often succeeding) and generally being treated poorly while riding. As we were driving home from Karate last night, I mentioned to Kelly that I had not seem any evidence of road rage here...she corrected me. I have a habit of using my headlights during the day. When I do so, I will often have people flash their lights at me in obvious concern that my lights are on during the day. These Japanese are pretty violent.

I think the main reason for the difference in driver behaviour here and at home is that the Japanese are brought up with the very strong belief that they are part of a whole. This is reflected in their word for `myself`...jibun. It literally means `part of the whole`. People will go out of their own way to make sure that traffic doesn`t get held up. Back home, the prevailing mentality is one of militant individualism. People try to get ahead of everybody else so that they can be first in line at the next stop light. If someone is percieved to be getting in the way of that goal, all hell breaks loose.

Still experiencing Cultural Vertigo

Seeing as how this is still the "family" blog, AND related to our Cultural Vertigo...I am still allowed to post here once in awhile! ;-)

Yesterday was my birthday. Yippee!...?...!...? (Not sure if I am happy about that or not)
Time is flying!
Anyway, I wanted to tell you about our little adventure last night. We went to a little "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant in Gifu City called El Paso. That's right...a Mexican restaurant in the middle of Japan (this is NOT Tokyo, baby). And it was literally a hole in the wall! There was room for 3 "groups. You walked in the door and the bar was on your left with about 6 bar stools. You could just squeeze down this like a hallway (the bath room door on your right...which opened into your path if someone was coming out at the time....). At the back were tables enough for 3 small groups. It was smaller than my kitchen here in Japan! The food was authentic though! I think the owner was half Japanese, half Mexican. The food was AMAZING! (And we paid for it!!! there was a 400yen charge per person, just for walking in the door...that is about $4 Can.). The best part was the TV up in the corner showing Johnny Cash and the Carter Family about 30 years ago doing a country gospel concert! After that was Loretta Lynn crooning Inspirational Hymns!
We listened to How Great Thou Art and The Old Rugged Cross, eating authentic Mexican food in the heart of Japan. Sometimes Japan is very surreal!
Also of mention...My hubby gave me the new Dixie Chicks album, "Taking the Long Way". I have decided that the title track is my theme song for my 34th year! :-) It will also be a great riding tune. (Oops, I just gave up my age...and it is NOT 34!)

btw contrary to this BLOG entry...I am NOT a country music fan!
(At least, I am still denying it. ;-)

10.12.2006

Xtracycles

I mentioned previously that Kelly and I will be diving headlong into a car-free lifestyle upon our return to Canada next summer. The reasons are simple...we don`t want to have to buy a car and shipping our 10-year-old Legacy home wouldn`t be the best use of our money. By going car-free, we hope to save ourselves about $500 a month.

The guys over at Xtracycle introduced their creation to the cycling world 5 years ago at the Interbike convention in Vegas. It has been well received. One of the drawbacks of the Xtracycle is that you have to retrofit your own bike with their `FreeRadical` before you can add the Xtracycle components. This retrofit extends your bike`s wheelbase by about 40 or 50 cm(?). The linkage between the FreeRadical and your bike is sometimes the cause of a little instability.

Well, at this year`s Interbike a couple weeks ago, Surly introduced their first Longtail frame built specifically for the Xtracycle. This way you have no need to retrofit your own frame with a FreeRadical and they have built it with extra stability to prevent the frame from whipping you around when you really hammer the pedals. Here is a pic...

You can find more pics at http://todd.cleverchimp.com/blog/?p=150

Go Ride a Bike!

cm

Props to MinusCar

So, I was reading MinusCar yesterday and noticed that he had added `Stories of Cultural Vertigo` to his list of links. すごい! Sugoi...cool.

Check out his site, he has some interesting thoughts on living without a car, christianity and social responsibility...here is a quote from his most recent post...

`18 months ago I discovered that not doing anything and not saying anything was no longer going to work for me. I took a baby step: a blog for saying things, and a commitment to a bicycle for doing things. The MinusCar Project does not exist in a vacuum and some people close to me might be hoping I don’t fall down the stairs.Doing things and saying things is risky. What if I do the wrong thing? What if I say the wrong thing? I’ll be uncomfortable.Comfort. Nothing has devastated the environment more than my need to be comfortable. Nothing has devastated my relationship with the 2/3’s world more than my need to be comfortable. Nothing has allowed my government more free reign than my need to be comfortable. Nothing cheapens my relationships with my wife, my The Boys or my friends more than my need to be comfortable. Nothing has done more damage to my body and my health than my need to be comfortable. Shall I go on?Nothing has diminished my relationship with my God more than my need to be comfortable.Tomorrow I will ride to work, possibly in the snow, some people will percieve this as discomfort.`

Thanks for the link!

iPod, therefore iRide faster

We have a new toy. One of the great things about being a native English speaker in Japan is that people will essentially pay you to talk to them. Often, they will pay you now to promise to talk to them in the future. That is why I had 30,000 yen sitting in an envelope in my cupboard with the word iPod written on it while I waited for Steve Jobs to say `Oh, and one more thing...` back in September.

We purchased a 2nd gen iPod nano, 8 GB of storage, black aluminum casing.

The first time I took the iPod out on a ride, I almost bonked. When your ride is as boring as mine generally is (a 2.5km stretch of old highway, no hills and only one corner with a radius of about 5 km), and you are riding 20 or 30 km at a time, things get a little monotonous.

Add an iPod and some rockin` tunes, and that same ride is a different animal. It also helped that my SPDs arrived from back home at about the same time. It made a huge difference in my willingness to kick my own arse, rather than having it kicked by the teenaged cycling team that trains on the same stretch of road.

That being said, I don`t think that I will pipe music into my brain on every ride. The weather here has been absolutely gorgeous, aside from the gale-force winds last weekend. The daily high has been 27 or 28 degrees celsius most days and the oppressive humidity is gone.

Last Sunday I rode into Gifu and found a road leading up what I thought was Mt. Kinka and Gifu Castle. Turns out I was on the hill beside Mt. Kinka but adding some verticality to my ride was very nice. I will post some pics when I get home. I decided not to plug myself in on that ride, partly because the wind was howling something fierce and I would have had to have the volume way too loud to hear anything over the wind and partly because one of the reasons that I ride is that it is a fantastic way to clear my brain of any extraneous baggage I may have picked up along the course of the day.

On those rides, I become free.

FYI

It appears that Kelly and I are parting ways in the blogosphere. She updates her blog, Finding MiniMe pretty much daily and has neither the desire nor the time to add much to this blog as well. As a result, this blog will take on a much more `Colin-esque` feel. If you are more interested in Kelly and her thoughts and ruminations, follow the link in tis post, or in the sidebar to the right.

10.04.2006

A Poem

Creed
by Steve Turner


We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy's OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything's getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes
UFO's and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

Steve Turner, (English journalist), "Creed," his satirical poem on the modern mind. Taken from Ravi Zacharias' book Can Man live Without God? Pages 42-44