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Wed, 03 Nov 2004

Frodo shaves like a man - 18:16
A bunch of pictures on somethingawful based around the premise of literal movie titles where the title of the movie is based on the promotional poster. My favourites would have to be "Frodo shaves like a man", "Oh shit my car is on fire", "HELP we are being napalmed by x-wings", "Cough". Who am I kidding a like a whole bunch of them. Unlike lots of other content on this site these are not even particularly offensive.

The article I linked to today and yesterday authored by Malcolm Gladwell is from an archive of articles by this author I intended to read. I found a link to his archive of articles a few weeks ago and many of them promised to be interesting. The reason I correlated the article, author and archive link in my head is I read another article by Gladwell, this on perception of trauma in modern society by individuals.

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10 things the Chinese do better - 16:29
I have not been to China, so do not know how accurate this is, also the list is in relation to Canada, however it seems to apply to any Western society reasonably. I found a link to this list of 10 things the Chinese do far better than western society. Interesting to think about the points raised. However one should keep in mind many of the things done far worse (Human Rights, Public freedom of thought and voice, etc)

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Safety, computer security and mountain bike skills - 12:49
Yesterday I pointed out an article about car safety and perception referencing SUV buyers. This deserves more comment as it ties in to general perception of safety and security in society, and in computer security, also there are aspects that relate to mountain bike riding. Of course my noticing the relations to my areas of interest is not coincidental, using the butterfly principle anyone may be able to tie this article to their personal interests.

In relation to safety and security in general and in the computer world, the quote "what has happened to the automobile world: feeling safe has become more important than actually being safe." applies far more widely today than simply in the car industry. Bruce Schneier has often spoken on how the perception of good security is far more important today than actually being secure and that the two goals are too often disparate.

(small cars) ... are safe because they make their drivers feel unsafe. S.U.V.s are unsafe because they make their drivers feel safe. That feeling of safety isn't the solution; it's the problem.
There are many more quotes in this article that tie in well to the safety in society in general angle, I suggest reading the article.

As for a mountain bike tie in, the article brings up issues about good control of a car making you safer which can definitely be tied into riding and mountain biking.

Safety, for most automotive consumers, has to do with the notion that they aren't in complete control," Popiel says. "There are unexpected events that at any moment in time can come out and impact them--an oil patch up ahead, an eighteen-wheeler turning over, something falling down. People feel that the elements of the world out of their control are the ones that are going to cause them distress."

Of course, those things really aren't outside a driver's control: an alert driver, in the right kind of vehicle, can navigate the oil patch, avoid the truck, and swerve around the thing that's falling down.

In mountain bike riding the more familiar with the bike, the trail and with riding and bike handling in general the less likely you are to crash or have problems of a similar nature and the more able you are to navigate the unknown.

Learned helplessness and the legal practice of (attempting) to sue someone else for bad things that happen to you is prevalent in modern society. (such as lack of accepting personal responsibility)

We live in an age, after all, that is strangely fixated on the idea of helplessness: we're fascinated by hurricanes and terrorist acts and epidemics like sars--situations in which we feel powerless to affect our own destiny. In fact, the risks posed to life and limb by forces outside our control are dwarfed by the factors we can control. Our fixation with helplessness distorts our perceptions of risk.
this is what people worry about when they worry about safety--not risks, however commonplace, involving their own behaviour but risks, however rare, involving some unexpected event.
Injuries happen when riding a mountain bike, in reality you are participating in a high risk sport, when involved in an accident it may simply be bad luck, or attempting something you do not have sufficient skill to ride. If you hurt yourself, too bad. Land managers are worried about letting people ride on their land, especially if there are challenging/technical obstacles available on the land. If someone injures themselves riding on the obstacles, the land managers are fearful of being sued by an injured rider unable to take personal responsibility that it was their choice to attempt the obstacle.
Our fixation with helplessness distorts our perceptions of risk. "When you feel safe, you can be passive," Rapaille says of the fundamental appeal of the S.U.V. "Safe means I can sleep. I can give up control. I can relax. I can take off my shoes. I can listen to music."

For years, we've all made fun of the middle-aged man who suddenly trades in his sedate family sedan for a shiny red sports car. That's called a midlife crisis. But at least it involves some degree of engagement with the act of driving. The man who gives up his sedate family sedan for an S.U.V. is saying something far more troubling--that he finds the demands of the road to be overwhelming.

I can not imagine how anyone could feel relaxed driving a car. I have commented on this previously, I find driving mentally draining and not an enjoyable activity. I am after all in control of a 1 or 2 tonne chunk of metal moving at non trivial speeds. If I am relaxed about this scenario I would wonder if I should really be allowed to drive.

If people going through their mid life crisis are likely to become safer road users, or even take up mountain biking, more power to them and bring on the mid life crisis.

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