I was doored this past weekend, for the first time ever, after some 10,000 miles of city riding. It’s not worth getting into the semi-sordid details, but I made it through relatively unscathed despite the fact that I essentially landed on my face). Besides questions of what transpired, whether I had to go to the hospital, etc., many people were perhaps unduly sympathetic, wondering if I confronted the perpetrator with whatever righteous indignation apropos the gratuitous transgression (long story short, I did not).1
In fact, the sheer senselessness of the incident is precisely what I like about riding a bicycle in New York City: an underlying threat of violence necessitates an all-but-prescient ability to anticipate traffic of both the vehicular and pedestrian varieties, viz. an absurd degree of vigilance. A backwards analogy: The autonomous car is more an AI model of a seasoned cyclist than of a driver, and even though LIDAR and algorithms can accurately predict 99.9999% of possible traffic patterns and even account for the frequency of aberrations, there necessarily remains the (un)lucky millionth draw that escapes the range of known data.2
Thus, the diehards—fellow cyclists who have logged similarly untold miles in our fair city—were less concerned with the specifics, acknowledging the inevitability of such an occurrence with the mutual understanding that it’s the rider’s responsibility to anticipate a door in any given situation: It’s part of the game.
Because in retrospect, I should have gone wide and taken the lane instead of attempting to thread the needle, and my mistake is as clear as day to me (incidentally, the weather was absolute shit at the time of dooring). While I accept the responsibility and the consequences of my actions, the accident was neither a lapse of judgment nor an act of hubris but a leap of faith, a canonical case of the cyclist ‘eating the sins’ of the motorist (literal act of eating pavement notwithstanding).
Which is to say that it’s simply too much to expect debarking passengers to heed non-motorized traffic, and frankly no cyclist should expect the courtesy—after all, every last one of us has unknowingly committed the verysame negligence at some point. It’s precisely why people drive (or take taxis) in the first place: so they don’t have to pay attention to every stupid little thing. By forsaking the vicarious superiority of the internal combustion engine, so too do cyclists forfeit the luxury of distraction, of roving the world in a glass bubble… or, as it were, a metal cage.
And at risk of sounding completely deluded, this, for me, is the fundamental appeal of riding fixed: a brakeless bike doesn’t forgive you for making mistakes.
The “How Our Laws Are Made” infographic above is well-executed and fairly clear, if a little busy (GOOD); the Pulp Fiction one below is neat but, as one commenter points out, the story makes more sense the way it unfolds per Tarantino’s script (Flowing Data).
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Art vs. Art:
Greater New York at PS1: I only got around to seeing about half of the exhibit when I stopped by PS1 last week, but I’m sure I’ll have many opportunities to revisit and engage with the work over the next few months, especially once Warm-Up is underway. Nevertheless, I would imagine that Greater New York stands for everything that Jeff Koons’ BMW Art Car (below) is not. (NYT)
That said, I thought that Koons’ art car (unveiled at the Centre Pompidou) turned out fine, though I was a little disappointed to learn that “the design isn’t actually painted on the car; it’s a vinyl wrap covered with two layers of clear coat. BMW says the wrap was lighter than paint and it could be applied much more quickly. That was a key consideration because Koons had just two months to complete the project.” (Wired)
Street art’s symbiotic relationship with the Web makes you wonder whether the genre’s broad popularity stems from the fact that its characteristic features—swift execution, quicksilver response to pop culture and politics, the dominance of quotation and commentary, snarky attitude, fragmented statements embedded in the world rather than meant to stand apart from it—actually reflect the way that plugged-in people process information, more so than “traditional” art. There is something particularly contemporary about street art’s whole M.O., in this sense.
There are euphoric moments and then intensely sad feelings of heaviness. Whatever you’re feeling becomes intensified. Certain truths about things I need to fix in my life are revealed to me. Marina says that in her own life she’s not so disciplined—that the performance gives her structure.
[As Prokhorov] explained to “60 Minutes,” “I don’t use a computer. We have too much information and it’s really impossible to filter it.”
You know what? He’s not necessarily wrong. Do we REALLY need all this information? Like, right now—you’re reading this column and hopefully enjoying it, but ultimately, could you have survived the weekend if you missed it? I say yes. Just about everything online fits that mold—you have to sift through loads of bad writing and irrelevant information to find the occasional entertaining/funny/interesting thing, and even then, it’s not something that’s making or breaking your week. Ever been on a vacation and had little-to-no Internet access that week? You survived, right? Maybe the big Russian is on to something.
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Candy reminds us of the postmodern notion of self-creation—the way we don social signifiers with the same ease as clothing, constructing our selves bit by bit from cultural cues and images. Rather than the solid frameworks we cast them as, our selves are more like sweaters we put on and take off. When it comes to social identity, we’re all a wee bit in drag.
The problem of negative externalities [refers to] costs that accrue when the self-interested actions of one person leave bystanders worse off. The biggest example of a negative externality is global warming: When we burn carbon-based fuels, we benefit ourselves while imposing a great cost on billions of other present and future inhabitants of the planet.