Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why Obama Needs to Change Course NOW

Or, Why I Won't Vote for Obama in the Primary, but if he wins the Primary anyways, will still support him in the general election.

There has been an ongoing feud between Barack Obama, the candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, and Paul Krugman, the NY Times columnist and eminent economist who was almost the only progressive voice in the mainstream media immediately after 9/11. It basically boils down to Krugman saying that Obama is not progressive enough on the important issues, and Obama not responding in any meaningful way at all, but rather his campaign ignoring the issues and attacking Krugman personally (or otherwise just evading the issue) instead.

It's all best explained here:

Obama stump speech strategy of conciliation considered harmful at

Here's a great teaser quote:

Shorter Candidates

Obama: The system sucks, but I’m so awesome that it’ll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we’re gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

So, please go over there to read the full article, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bakfiets: The station wagon of bicycles

Bakfiets (plural: "bakfietsen") came out of the Netherlands -- thus the funny name, which means "wagon bike" (and can be shortened to simply "BAK"). But bakfietsen are now available in the United States, through Clever Cycles, a distributor and retailer in Portland, OR. There are also plans to manufacture a lower-cost, American-made version of the bakfiets in NE Portland. And, apparently there has been a version called the "Long Haul", made in Eugene, Oregon (already American-made!) for some time now.

A bicycle that can haul a kid, a keg of beer *and* a bag of groceries -- at the same time? I'm in love. Here are some features of the original Dutch version:

* Super-strong wheels.
* Hub generator lighting, front and rear. Light sensor turns on automatically; rear light stays on at stops.
* Drum brakes: low-maintenance and unaffected by weather.
* Stainless steel mudguards with flaps (just like on a semi truck, baby -- but you'll have to make your own design). ;-)
* Tie-rod linkage steering geometry: to handle large loads with remarkable lightness.
* Can be stored outdoors, in the rain and sun, for decades, due to an anti-rust primer under a tough powder-coat.
* Front cargo area ("bak") made of marine plywood: puts the load low and centered for easiest handling.
* 180-lb load rating. That's a lot of weight!!! More than a keg of beer, a small child and a bag of groceries.
* To keep the cargo dry in all elements: Weather canopy option makes this a true year-round urban (family?) vehicle.
* 4-point (kick-)stand for easy loading and unloading. Passengers climb in and out without tipping!
* Step-through, one-size-fits-most frame supports upright posture for a commanding view and supreme comfort; easy to put a foot down at stops.
* 8-speed Shimano Nexus gearhub. Shift to any gear while stationary or moving. Sealed mechanism is essentially maintenance-free.
* 305% gear range, comparable to 11-34 derailleur gearing.
* Wheel lock with auxiliary chain option for secure parking (no need for a separate U-lock, though you'd have plenty of room to carry one if you wanted to!)
* Full chaincase (guard) to keep your clothing and your kids’ fingers safe and clean; reduces chain maintenance to near zero.
* Coat/skirt guard and rubber block pedals: wear whatever you want without worry
* Overbuilt rear rack with bungees. 70-lb. load rating (that's separate from the 180 pounds you can carry in the front)

Now that's a bak that I'd love to ride!!!