Thursday, March 31, 2011

Design for Use versus Posturing

[image via thefixfixfix]

For some time now, there has been debate as to whether the rise of "cycling culture" is positioning the bicycle as primarily a fetish object, with functionality a mere afterthought. As with any trend, the marketing industry harvests the readily identifiable, superficial aspects of a phenomenon, enhances them to the point of vulgarity, then sells to the eager public an attractive empty shell, devoid of any actual substance. BikeSnobNYC has been waxing lyrical on this topic since the start of his blog, satirizing a "bike culture" where sullen boys walk their brakeless neon fixies to the nearest cafes while airhead girls pedal their 70lb Dutch bikes at 5mph against traffic in billowing designer frocks - all of them laden with hundreds of dollars worth of cycling-specific accessories. 

[image via republicbike]

While I am accustomed to the Snob's endearing rants on this topic, reading Rivendell's version of the same complaint the other day was more novel. In several recent posts, Grant Petersen describes going to a bicycle trade show and being taken aback by the abundance of over-designed and impractical objects, such as rhinestone-encrusted lugs, heavy leather saddlebags and absurdly complicated toe clips. "A bag that weighs more empty than the contents it carries is quite a bag. A rack that shows off its beauty and never covers itself with a bag or basket is quite a rack. A bike and every part on it should serve a function." Agreed. But the irony of it - and I am sure Mr. Petersen is not blind to this irony - is that Rivendell played a role in these fancy/useless things being on the market today. Creating an interest in elaborate lugwork, leather, twine, and "old timey aesthetics" was a key part of Rivendell's marketing from the start. Now, it seems that the message has gotten away from them. Form is being imitated without substance.

[image via bornrich]

"A bike should look only so fancy," Petersen writes.  "There's a line. It's easy to cross it." Problem is, who draws that line, and where? Is it just one of those things where we know it when we see it? I am not  against extravagance in the bicycle industry per se: Ultimately I think it's marvelous if "luxury bicycles" become status symbols instead of luxury cars and electronic gadgets. But I guess for me, it's important that the bicycle be designed for actual use and with longevity in mind first and foremost. If I see a diamond encrusted bike and it's a good bike - quality construction and finishing, comfortable, great handling - then its excess does not annoy me. It amuses me, but I don't get mad thinking "how dare they make a diamond encrusted bike." On the other hand, if I see a bike where all the money went into the embellishments and the bicycle itself is shoddy or ill-conceived, that does bother me quite a bit: At that point it's not a bicycle, but a "BSO" (Bike Shaped Object). It may be expensive, but to my eye it is no different from those horrid things sold for $60 at big box stores: not a functional bike, but a sad waste of resources and human labor.

[image via bikehugger]

Of course, all of this does not just apply to luxury bicycles. Often I see bikes in the $400-700 range, where it is so plain that the majority of the manufacturer's budget went into simulating the aesthetics of high-end bikes and then marketing the heck out of the product, while paying only scant attention to things like geometry, quality of construction, and component choice. These bicycles are designed to look good in catalogues, but not to benefit the cyclist. They are essentially disposable.

[image via wallbike]

And I think the theme of disposability is also what's behind my dislike of the recent proliferation of leather saddles that come in neon colours and wild motifs. Admittedly I am being hypocritical here, because the saddles are well-made and perfectly functional - what's the harm in them being flamboyantly colourful or embossed with skulls and bones? I guess I feel that the styling trivialises a product that is made from an animal and is meant to last a long time. My intent is not to be political with the animal thing, but on a personal level I do feel bad when I see these new models. Will a cyclist really keep a neon saddle for the rest of their lives? For the next several years even? It seems to me that the flamboyant styling introduces an element of built-in obsolescence into a product that is otherwise intended to last. It's a contradiction in design that I find jarring.

The point where a bicycle-related product stops being merely fancy or trendy and becomes offensive is different for everyone; we'll never agree. Still, it can be interesting to evaluate one's personal parameters and to hear others' opinions. What's your view?

New Sports Illustrated Column on Barry Bonds Trial: Has Bonds Already Won?

With the prosecution's case-in-chief nearly over, I have a new column for SI -- in it, I take a look at where things stand in the Bonds trial and what to expect going forward. Bonds should feel good about 4 of the 5 counts, but he's still very vulnerable to a conviction on Count Two. Here are excerpts from the column:

* * *

What worked for the prosecution?

1. Kathy Hoskins's believable recollection will help to prove Count Two

Kathy Hoskins, the former personal shopper of Bonds and the sister of Steve Hoskins, carefully explained how she watched Anderson inject Bonds in the navel during the 2002 season. She came across as believable, normal and someone with whom jurors could likely identify. Her memory also appeared strong, especially when she recalled specific comments purportedly made by Bonds. While prosecutors tried to link her with Steve Hoskins, whose business relationship with Bonds soured and who struggled on the stand earlier in the week, Kathy Hoskins emerged from cross examination as credible and without apparent ill-motive.

If the jury believes Kathy Hoskins with absolute certainty, it would be poised to find Bonds guilty on Count Two of the government's indictment. As explained in our previous coverage, Count Two simply requires prosecutors to prove that Bonds was injected by Anderson and that Bonds knowingly lied in 2003 when stating, under oath, that no such injection ever took place.

Then again, prosecutors were unable to corroborate Kathy Hoskins's testimony with other witnesses who could credibly claim they too saw Bonds injected by Anderson. Along those lines, some on the jury may be uncomfortable with finding Bonds guilty based on the testimony of just one witness, albeit a very believable one. They might also reason that Bonds could have simply -- to borrow a favorite word of fellow alleged perjurer Roger Clemens -- "misremembered" everything that Anderson did to him, including injections. Given that perjury requires that the defendant knowingly lied, as opposed to merely being mistaken or confused, any possibility of doubt would work to Bonds's defense.

* * *

What worked for the defense?

1. Steve Hoskins and Dr. Arthur Ting failed as witnesses for the prosecution

Though he initially seemed to possess intimate knowledge of Bonds' personal and professional life and though he portrayed Bonds as keenly interested in steroids, Steve Hoskins proved highly vulnerable under cross-examination, particularly in regards to his credibility and motivations. His rationale for secretly taping a conversation with Anderson drew intense fire, as Hoskins made the recording after Bonds had largely terminated his business relationship with him. Jurors will likely have doubts about relying on comments by Steve Hoskins to convict Bonds.

Ting proved to be the worst witness for the government, by far. For at least three reasons, Ting seemed more like a witness for the defense than for the prosecution: he emphasized that he never spoke with Bonds about steroids; he highlighted non-steroid explanations for possible changes in Bonds' body; and he adamantly denied testimony by fellow prosecution witness Steve Hoskins, who had claimed that he and Ting discussed steroids. By the end of his testimony, Ting probably left jurors with serious doubts about the government's case against Bonds and about prosecutors' wisdom in calling him to the stand.

* * *

What to expect next week?

The prosecution is nearly finished and the defense will begin its case-in-chief on Monday. Expect three major defense strategies:

1. Refute Kathy Hoskins's assertion that Anderson injected Bonds

While the government struggled to show that Bonds knowingly lied under oath about steroids, it scored a victory in Kathy Hoskins's persuasive testimony. Keep in mind, if Bonds is convicted only on Count Two, he will still be a convicted felon and still face prison time.

Expect defense attorneys to portray Kathy Hoskins as linked more closely to her brother, Steve, than she led the court to believe. The stronger she is linked to her less credible brother, the more doubt the jury may have of her testimony. While the defense has to be careful to not so fervently slander Kathy Hoskins that it backfires -- and that she is called again to the stand -- it has to address her damming testimony.

* * *
To read the rest, click here.

Cricket World Cup 2011 Final Preview

Author Zaheer Haque.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka boasts the best opening partnership in the whole tournament with Dilshan and Tharanga. They have put on two double century partnerships in this tournament a record for a single world cup.

Dilshan has been in brilliant form throughout the tournament and is the leading run scorer in the tournament

Tharanga has also had a good world cup and fifth highest run scorer in the tournament.

Srilanka at number three have their best batsmen in Sangakkara. Sangakkara is also their captain and wicket keeper. He has been outstanding in all aspects of his game throughout the whole tournament. Sangakkara is the fourth highest run scorer in this world cup and has the highest average of all in this world cup of 104.

Jayawardene at number four is their most experienced batsmen. He has had a very poor world cup and has only scored a total of 201 runs in his six innings of which hundred of those were scored in one innings.

Srilanka number five to seven of Samaraweera, Silva and Matthews haven’t featured much throughout the tournament with the bat. This is because of the great batting & contribution of the top three. These three did get reasonable time in the middle under some pressure against New Zealand to win the semi final.

Muralitharan is their best bowler and world’s best bowler. He is leading the way with 15 wickets in the tournament for Srilanka despite playing through injury.

Malinga is their fastest bowler he is good both with new ball also with the older ball. He has a very unorthodox action and has taken 11 wickets in this tournament.

Srilanka have also had useful contributions from Mendis, Dilshan who have taken 7 wickets each. Also Matthews and Perera have contributed as well taking 6 wickets each.


Tendulkar and Sehwag have been in great form as an opening partnership in this tournament.

Tendulkar has had a tremendous World cup scoring his 99th international 100 (Test and ODI combined) and is only three runs behind Dilshan as second highest run scorer in the tournament.

Sehwag has also been in good form throughout the tournament and still has the tournaments highest score of 175 in the opening match against Bangladesh.

However India’s number three and four Gambhir and Kohli have had poor run in the whole tournament both averaging in their 30’s. Dhoni their captain and wicket keeper hasn’t done much with that bat either.

The best batsman by far for India in the middle order has been Yuvraj Singh who has had brilliant world cup averaging 85 and the eighth leading run scorer. He has also done brilliantly with the ball with 13 wickets. He also has won several Man of the Match awards.

Raina who has come into the team as the extra batsmen instead of Yusuf Pathan last few games has done reasonably well late on for India.

India’s bowling has been led by Zaheer Khan who has had a great world cup. He is 2nd highest wicket taker in this tournament with 19 wickets and needs 3 wickets in the final to finish as leading wicket taker.

Munaf Patel has supported Zaheer Khan with 11 wickets in the tournament.

However the most disappointing and poor bowling performance by far has been by Harbhajan Singh India’s number one spin bowler. He has taken only 8 wickets at an average of 42.

India has also played the following bowlers, Nehra, Chawla and Ashwin in this tournament as well.

Sri Lanka or India?

Having looked through both line ups one can see both teams have had brilliant opening partnerships. This has given both teams to fast starts and to post large totals. Also this has taken some of the pressure off the rest of the batting line up to play their natural game.

The middle order hasn’t fired for both teams with the exception of Sangakkara at number three for Sri Lanka and Yuvraj Singh at number five for India.

Bowling in this tournament Sri Lanka has the edge over India with more of their bowlers contributing with the ball and picking up vital wickets.

I think it be a very close game and will go to the last over of the match with both teams having the chance to win. Sri Lanka will hold their nerve better than India in the final over and win the final.

ESPN Sues Conference USA

ESPN is reporting that it has filed a lawsuit against Conference USA, accusing the conference of breach of contract. Specifically, ESPN alleges that the conference breached a 2005 agreement by failing to provide the network with an opportunity to match the $42 million television broadcast agreement that C-USA recently signed with the Fox network. ESPN is requesting either $21 million in damages, or specific performance of an alleged contract extension it asserts the parties had reached in principle prior to C-USA signing its deal with Fox. Meanwhile, C-USA denies that it breached any agreement with ESPN.

More Praise for The Climate Fix

Harold Lasswell, one of the founders of the policy movement in academia of the mid-twentieth century, once wrote that "the whole aim of the scientific student of society is to make the obvious unescapable." So it is high praise indeed to read Mark Sagoff's fine review of The Climate Fix, just out in Issues in Science and Technology, where he writes:
The great achievement of The Climate Fix is to make the obvious obvious. No small feat in these confused times.

The Legend of the Starfish

Here is 1 minute video from Coach Trent Todd that illustrates this point perfectly 

I'm sure there are times that you, like me, experience something very similar ...

Let's have the attitude of the boy.

The Legend of the Starfish

A vacationing businessman was walking along a beach when he saw a young boy. 

Along the shore were many starfish that had been washed up by the tide and were sure to die before the tide returned. 

The boy walked slowly along the shore and occasionally reached down and tossed the beached starfish back into the ocean. 

The businessman, hoping to teach the boy a little lesson in common sense, walked up to the boy and said, "I have been watching what you are doing, son. 

You have a good heart, and I know you mean well, but do you realize how many beaches there are around here and how many starfish are dying on every beach every day. Surely such an industrious and kind hearted boy such as yourself could find something better to do with your time. 

Do you really think that what you are doing is going to make a difference?" 

The boy looked up at the man, and then he looked down at a starfish by his feet. 

He picked up the starfish, and as he gently tossed it back into the ocean, he said, "It makes a difference to that one”.

-Author Unknown

Sports Law Blog on the Rise

Over on TaxProf Blog, Paul Caron has his annual traffic rankings for law professor blogs, and Sports Law Blog is #22 among them in terms of visitors and #23 in terms of page views. His numbers also show a 9% increase in visitors to our blog, and an 8% increase in page views on our blog, from 2009 to 2010. As always, we appreciate you checking our blog out and seeing what we have to say.

Good-Bye 'Blueskies' ...Hello Blueprints

A couple of days ago, Seymour Blueskies packed up his things and went home with a very nice couple. I bid him farewell as I fondly recalled our times together.

From the start, my intent had been not to keep the vintage Trek, but to learn what I could from it, then move on to explore other bicycles. It was around this time that I recognised having two categories of bikes: a few that I "truly owned" and others that I considered transient and experimental. But experimental for what?

It took me some time to acknowledge that I was "seriously" interested in bicycle design, and acquiring the Trek last summer coincided with that realisation. I began to learn about bicycle history and frame geometry in a more systematic manner, to formulate ideas about the relationship between form and function, and to apply my previous training (in psychology and neuroscience, as well as art and design) to the realm of bicycles and cycling. I realised that the reason I keep acquiring more bikes, is not because I necessarily want to own them personally, but because I want to try out new ideas and to learn new things - then share the results with others. I enjoy the process of conceptualising a bicycle, then bringing about its existence and the result being successful. Now if only there was some way to do that over and over again, without ending up in financial ruin or with a hoarding disorder... Oh, I know: I could design bikes for other people.

After saying good-bye to Seymour Blueskies, I stopped by to see Bryan at Royal H. Cycles - with whom I am now collaborating on a bicycle. How on Earth did that happen? Well, funny story... You see, in this post about a month ago, I expressed a desire to try a bicycle with traditional randonneuring geometry (à la Jan Heine), and received some suggestions as to how this could be accomplished. There wasn't an easy way; these bicycles are rare. But one idea was that I could design the bike myself - and an intrepid reader was prepared to commission just such a bicycle from Royal H should I feel up to the task. And so here we are. The plan is that I come up with the specs, we discuss, Bryan builds, and we'll see what happens.

As this project begins and the Bella Ciao project nears completion, I am filled with nervous energy and self-doubt all around. I know my weak points: I am not an engineer and I am not a framebuilder. But I am perceptive and increasingly knowledgeable in other ways that are essential to bicycle design, and I do feel that I can collaborate with others to create something special. It's possible that I am over-reaching, that it's all too soon. But life is short and you never know unless you try. So I'm trying.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Video on Eller v. NFL

I was interviewed by Maggie Gray of Sports Illustrated/CNN video to discuss a new lawsuit filed by Carl Eller, Priest Holmes and others on behalf of retired and prospective NFL players. Their core argument is that the NFL lockout and various NFL restrictions on trade, including the draft, are illegal under federal antitrust law -- an argument also made in Brady v. NFL -- but unlike current NFL players, retired and prospective players are not members of the NFLPA bargaining unit. These players believe they too will be harmed by the lockout (for instance, various health-related programs for retired NFL players are funded in part by fines imposed on current players; with no football, no fines will be levied, and retired players' programs will lose funding). In response, the NFL will likely argue that while they are not bargaining members of the NFLPA, the NFLPA nonetheless represents their interests. Here's the video:

Jerk pyramid

Jerk 2x28kg: 2,4,13,9,6,4,4
Jer 2x20kg: 25/2min

The 28s yeilded 74% of max heart rate; the 20s 85%.

The Parasite of Passivity

This may sting a little bit but I believe there is a ton of truth here. Every single one of us, myself included, needs to battle the parasite of passivity ... the slow weakening into becoming a "spectator" in life.

Please take this as an encouragement ... a challenge to step up just a bit more and help others to do the same.

By Chris Willertz

One of the biggest hurdles in trying to build a wrestling program at Winton Woods has been trying to take spectators and turn them into wrestlers.  

More and more young men are devoted to entertainment and being entertained.  Watching sports, watching movies, playing video games, texting friends, listening to music, "shooting around", being a spectator as life passes them by (which they don't have a clue really is happening) is the norm.

The boys at Winton Woods, all boys nation wide, are all participating in this new phenomenon.  And I would say us adults, especially adult men are to blame.  We have turned into spectators. We have become fat and lazy, complaining that our wealth is not enough although we have more, much more than our parents, who had much more than their parents. 

We want more, worse yet, we EXPECT more.  Even worse, we have forgotten the JOY of working hard, of suffering for a cause greater than ourselves. 

For example:

-When is the last time you have worked so hard you were sore the next day? (and loved that feeling!)  
-The last time you sacrificed for a loved one so much that it hurt? (especially financially) 
-Wrestled with a moral decision, to do the right thing? (What a great feeling to take a stand!)  
-Ticked somebody off because you stated your beliefs and weren't afraid to offend? (What a great feeling it is to take a stand!..again!) 
-The last time you spent time with your family because you wanted to lead them and help them? (Why are you a dad anyways?) 

We are missing out on true manhood, dying to ourselves and discovering the great joy this provides.

We are the reason why more kids don't wrestle.  We are the reason why wrestling programs are being eliminated around the country.  We are the reason why authentic manhood is becoming a thing of the past.  

We know how to be an active, suffering man looking to do great things for our society, we just aren't doing it. The problem is too big we complain, if we complain at all. I know absentee dads are a huge problem, but this is nothing new. What is worse are the boys who have dads at home but are not "present" for their boys.  They aren't celebrating their boys, teaching their boys, forcing their boys to "MAN-UP".  They exist and that's it.  And we AREN'T PICKING UP THE SLACK!  We have to fill in the gap, for our sakes, our daughter's sakes, society's sake.

I am going to step up my efforts to change the spectator boy into the wrestling boy.  I hope you do the same.
Love and admiration,
Coach Willertz

Global Temperature Trends


In an earlier post I made the case that one needs to know only two things about the science of climate change to begin asking whether accelerating decarbonization of the economy might be worth doing:
  • Carbon dioxide has an influence on the climate system.
  • This influence might well be negative for things many people care about.
That is it. An actual decision to accelerate decarbonization and at what rate will depend on many other things, like costs and benefits of particular actions unrelated to climate and technological alternatives. In this post I am going to further explain my views, based on an interesting question posed in that earlier thread. What would my position be if it were to be shown, hypothetically, that the global average surface temperature was not warming at all, or in fact even cooling (over any relevant time period)? Would I then change my views on the importance of decarbonizing the global energy system?

And the answer is ... no!

My concern about the potential effects of human influences on the climate system are not a function of global average warming over a long-period of time or of predictions of continued warming into the future. A point that my father often makes, and I think that he is absolutely right, is that what maters are the effects of human influences on the climate system on human and ecological scales, not at the global scale. No one experiences global average temperature and it is very poorly correlated with things that we do care about in specific places at specific times.

Consider the following thought experiment. Divide the world up into 1,000 grid boxes of equal area. Now imagine that the temperature in each of 500 of those boxes goes up by 20 degrees while the temperature in the other 500 goes down by 20 degrees. The net global change is exactly zero (because I made it so). However, the impacts would be enormous. Let's further say that the changes prescribed in my thought experiment are the direct consequence of human activity. Would we want to address those changes? Or would we say, ho hum, it all averages out globally, so no problem? The answer is obvious and is not a function of what happens at some global average scale, but what happens at human and ecological scales.

In the real world, the effects of increasing carbon dioxide on human and ecological scales are well established, and they include a biogechemical effect on land ecosystems with subsequent effects on water and climate, as well as changes to the chemistry of the oceans. Is it possible that these effects are benign? Sure. Is it also possible that these effects have some negatives? Sure. These two factors alone would be sufficient for one to begin to ask questions about the worth of decarbonizing the global energy system. But greenhouse gas emissions also have a radiative effect that, in the real world, is thought to be a net warming, all else equal and over a global scale. However, if this effect were to be a net cooling, or even, no net effect at the global scale, it would not change my views about a need to consider decarbonizing the energy system one bit. There is an effect -- or effects to be more accurate -- and these effects could be negative.

Of course, not mentioned yet is that action to improve adaptation to climate doesn't depend at all on a human influence on the climate system, warming or cooling or whatever. Adaptation makes good sense regardless. So clearly my policy views on adaptation are largely insensitive to any issues related to global average temperature change.

The debate over climate change has many people on both sides of the issue wrapped up in discussing global average temperature trends. I understand this as it is an icon with great political symbolism. It has proved a convenient political battleground, but the reality is that it should matter little to the policy case for decarbonization. What matters is that there is a human effect on the climate system and it could be negative with respect to things people care about. That is enough to begin asking whether we want to think about accelerating decarbonization of the global economy.

To fully assess whether accelerated decarbonization makes sense would require us to ask, are there any other good reasons why accelerated decarbonization might make sense? And it turns out, there are many.

Crusaders sign Bradley Hill from Newport Gwent Dragons

Crusaders have signed promising 18-year old Bradley Hill from the regional rugby union side Newport Gwent Dragons on a part time contract.

He will initially be based in the south with the Crusaders Academy and has already been dual registered with Championship 1 side South Wales Scorpions.

Hill, who plays at centre or second row, turned out for the Crusaders under 16 side in the past. He then chose to go back to rugby union with the Dragons but has now decided to commit to the Crusaders and Wales Rugby League.

Dan Clements, Head of Performance for Wales Rugby League, said: “We are really pleased that Bradley has committed to the Crusaders. He is a player that we have wanted to sign for a while.

“He was part of the very first Crusaders scholarship side from two years ago but was unable to continue due to other commitments. He has all the attributes to be successful in Rugby League and we will be working hard with him to give him every opportunity to succeed.”

Hill will join the Crusaders Academy squad this Sunday as they open their season against Salford City Reds at Caerphilly RFC. The match is the culmination of a triple header against the Reds which starts with an under 15 encounter at 1pm.

The Pashley Roadster Sovereign: Review After Two New England Winters

If you are a regular reader, you probably know that the Co-Habitant owns a Pashley Roadster Sovereign. We bought a pair of Pashleys when I first started this blog, and while I've since sold my Princess, he has kept his Roadster. He loves this bicycle. It is his main transportation bike, taking him to and from work every day for nearly two years now - in sunshine, rain and snow. This review is based on both his and my impressions of the bike.

Pashley bicycles have been made in Stratford-upon-Avon, England since 1926. The Roadster is a traditional lugged steel English roadster frame with relaxed geometry and 28" wheels. It is powdercoated black and fitted with a 5-speed Sturmey Archer hub, dynamo lighting, and drum brakes. See here for the full specs and here for the complete set of images. This bicycle was purchased in May 2009 from Harris Cyclery in West Newon, MA (not a sponsor at the time).

One interesting thing to note about this bike is the sizing. The Co-Habitant is 6' tall and his preferred frame size is normally 60-64cm, depending on geometry. However, his Pashley's frame is only 22.5" (57cm), and yet it is his size. That is because the Pashley Roadster has an unusually high bottom bracket (330mm), which makes the standover considerably higher than it would be on a typical bike. For comparison, the bottom bracket height on his vintage Raleigh DL-1 Roadster is 310mm, which in itself is considered high. This explains why the Raleigh and Pashley are both his size, despite the former being a 24" frame and the latter a 22.5" frame. When in doubt, go down a size with the Pashley Roadster.

The Pashley Roadster Sovereign is a bicycle fully equipped for commuting: generous fenders, full chaincase, vinyl dress guards, large rear rack, drop-down kickstand and an integrated wheel lock. The Co-Habitant finds the dressguards and chaincase convenient, because they enable him to wear pretty much anything he wants on the bike - including dressy clothing and overcoats. He does not like tucking his trousers into socks or wearing ankle straps when riding to work, so these features are important to him. The chaincase has kept his chain immaculately clean through two winters and does not stand in the way of rear wheel removal. For those who dislike the drop-down kickstand, the frame does come with a kickstand plate, so it's possible to install an alternative. Initially, we installed a Pletcher double-legged kickstand and used it instead of the drop-down, until it broke, so now it's back to the original.

Though the headlight on the Roadster is dynamo-powered, the tail light is battery-operated. The 2.4W dynamo hub makes it difficult to modify this lighting set-up, and we are really not sure why Pashley chose to do this instead of using a 3W hub and bulb. We are considering eventually replacing the lighting on his bike with a front and rear LED system with standlights. Trouble is, there aren't any classic LED headlights in a style that would suit the Pashley.

Supplementary Cateye battery lights attached for situations when visibility is especially poor. The bolts on the Pashley's front axel make it easy to mount these.

The rear rack is spacious, but made of such thick tubing that most pannier mounting systems will not fit it. The Ortlieb QL2 and the R&K Klick-fix systems sort of fit, but just barely.

Tires are Schwalbe Marathon Plus. They are not my favourite tires, but the puncture protection is unbeatable.

The saddle is the super-sprung Brooks B33 - especially suitable for the larger gentlemen on upright bikes.

And of course, the shiny "ding dong" bell. That's us, reflected in it.

Though we are both lovers of customisations, there wasn't much that the Co-Habitant modified on this bicycle. All the components have remained stock thus far. As far as positioning, he lowered the handlebars to make them level with the saddle and angled them down a bit, for a more aggressive position. He also shoved the saddle forward by means of reversing the seat clamp. He added a Brooks Glenbrook saddlebag and Millbrook handlebar bag, which are permanently affixed to the bike. The saddlebag contains his lock, bungee cords and saddle cover in the side pockets, with the main compartment kept empty for quick grocery trips and other errands.

The handlebar bag contains his rain gear, gloves, bad-weather cycling glasses, flashlight, and epic toolkit. The toolkit he carries only on longer trips.

The original plastic handlebar grips were replaced with the Brooks leather washer grips. Front and rear drum brakes are hand-operated, and he has them routed right-front. And just in case you haven't noticed, the handlebar set-up includes a cycling computer and twined water bottles in their DIY handlebar mounts. The computer is fairly unobtrusive, blending in with the black part of the riser stem.

And a close-up of he bottle cage mounts. The set-up with the twin bottles sticking out like miniature cannons over the handlebars is over-the-top eccentric for me - but over time I've grown used to seeing them on his bike and even find them endearing. He has also carried paper cups full of coffee in those bottle cages - successfully.

We considered washing the bicycle before taking pictures for the review, but ultimately decided against it. These pictures realistically portray what the bike looks like after a winter of commuting - and a harsh winter at that. The only time this frame has ever been wiped down was after the previous winter. With everything either fully enclosed or stainless, the Pashley Roadster is as low-maintenance as they get. The powdercoating has held up excellently, with just a few scuffs here and there. Over the time he's owned this bicycle, the Co-Habitant has broken two spokes on the rear wheel (one per year) and had them replaced. The wheels also had to be re-trued a couple of times, no doubt due to the horrible pothole-ridden roads on which he commutes. Otherwise, significant adjustments have not been necessary.

As far as ride quality and subjective feedback go, there is a distinct feeling of the bicycle being stable, reliable and enormous.

It can comfortably travel at high speeds, with the cyclist feeling relaxed, perched high above city traffic. And this isn't merely an illusion - with the high bottom bracket and the upright sitting position, the height at which the rider is placed really is out of the ordinary.

The bicycle handles well on the road and off, in dry and wet conditions. In the winter, it has proven to be a trusty companion.

Even during blizzards, the Co-Habitant continued to commute on this bicycle, and felt comfortable doing it.

When describing the Pashley Roadster's ride quality, it is worth noting that it is not the male equivalent of the Princess model: The geometry and handling of the two bikes are different. Performace-wise, the Roadster accelerates faster and climbs hills easier than the Princess, which can be problematic for those who buy the two bikes as a "his and hers" pair. Though this discrepancy between the men's and women's models is unfortunate, the Roadster's performance in itself is terrific.

As for my own impressions of the Co-Habitant's Pashley, I've come to see the bike as his permanent companion or even an extension of his personality. He loves the bike, never complains about it, and uses it daily for transportation, which is fantastic. But sometimes I do wonder whether the bike is overbuilt for his purposes: To me it seems excessively heavy, and I don't get the point of having that monstrous rear rack if it is seldom used for anything other than saddlebag support. Also, it takes great effort to convince him to leave the bike locked up in the city, which is frustrating. At work he has secure locking facilities, but when we go out he worries about the bike too much - which in my view somewhat undermines its usefulness. However, the most important thing is that he enjoys the bike and rides it, which I feel has been accomplished here pretty well.

Though the Pashley Roadster Sovereign is not inexpensive by any means, it is a good value once you consider what is included and add it all up: a traditional lugged frame made in England and a fully integrated "commuting package" consisting of fenders, drum brakes, full chaincase, dressguards, puncture-proof tires, lighting, and a high quality sprung leather saddle. After close to two years of daily use, including two New England winters, the bicycle looks hardly worse for wear - a testament to its durability. As with everything, your impressions may differ, but the Co-Habitant is a happy owner. He is not looking for another transportation bicycle for the foreseeable future.

Jess came back today

And Brennan had a good work out. Green as grass and fairly lazy, bless him but he does try hard to please. I have borrowed Karen's old Isabell saddle and I think, with a raiser pad, it will fit them both fine. I am going to try and take him down to the dressage rally at Solway on Sunday for a look about so that the first day of the series is not his absolute first day out. Should be fun!!

Here are a selection of photos from today's ride.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My interview for PBS Frontline on O'Bannon v. NCAA

Here's a link to a transcript of my interview with Lloyd Bergman of PBS. The transcript is admittedly long - the interview was for over an hour and we covered a TON of ground for PBS' March Madness and Money feature.

Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

PBS: How significant is this case?

McCann: It's a very significant case, particularly because it's past the motion-to-dismiss stage. A motion to dismiss is an argument by the defendant that, even if all of the facts are true, there's no viable legal claim. Well, the NCAA lost the motion to dismiss, and it's now going to trial. Normally, cases against the NCAA have not succeeded, either because of motions to dismiss or because they're settled. O'Bannon, though, seems to signal that he isn't going to settle, that he's actually going to go forward with this case, and he's going to try to win it.

And if he wins it, it would mean that retired players, including those who have been retired for a while, should be compensated for their use and image and likeness that the NCAA contracted away.

PBS: Well, you said something called the "right of publicity." What is that?

McCann: The right of publicity is that we have certain proprietary interests in our identity, that if somebody is going to try to make money off our image, our likeness, our name, that we should be compensated for that. Now, there are exceptions to that. There's a newsworthiness exception, for instance. If we're in the public news because of something we did or because we happen to be there, we're not going to be compensated. There's also an exception for parody. In other words, if we went on a television show and somebody parodied our appearance, we wouldn't be compensated for that.

But if somebody is just trying to make money off our image or likeness, we have a legal right, under state laws, to be compensated for that.

PBS: Let me put it a different way. O'Bannon, all the college athletes today, student-athletes, they all sign this form, right? And it's our understanding that this form has a clause in it that says you're signing away all your rights, basically, to the NCAA and to the school that you went to. So what's this litigation all about?

McCann: O'Bannon would argue that the Student-Athlete Statement, which, as you noted, Lowell, is required of students to sign if they want to play college sports -- students who may be 17 or 18 years old know that if they don't sign that statement, they will not be able to play sports. And if they can't play sports, they may not get their scholarship. And if they don't get their scholarship, they may not be able to afford school. So O'Bannon is saying, well, that's not really much of a choice, is it, because you're required to sign this form.

Not only does it seem as if we don't have a choice, but the form itself shouldn't have the meaning that the NCAA seems to perceive. The form means that players give up their proprietary interest while they're in college, so the NCAA can use their likeness and image while they're in college to promote the NCAA and to promote the colleges that the players are associated with.

O'Bannon is saying, even if that's OK, which he doesn't seem to concede, but even if that's OK, it shouldn't continue after I've left school, because the NCAA, as it's argued, is concerned about the exploitation of student-athletes; that if they were to be able to do their own deals while in college, there would be charlatans who exploit players and the like. But O'Bannon is saying: "I'm 39 years old. Why is it that I need to be protected by the NCAA nearly 20 years after I played college basketball? I should have a right to get paid. That form shouldn't take the effect that the NCAA seems to interpret."

* * *

PBS: Yeah. But I mean, the players who make the money, because there's a very small group of players who bring in that revenue, right?

McCann: Sure. I think you could say that the superstar player generates a disproportionate share of the fan's interest of the commercialization of sports. When O.J. Mayo plays one year [of basketball] at the University of Southern California, and he's put on the cover of the brochure, and he's highlighted, he clearly is generating revenue for the University of Southern California. This is somebody who is attracting renewed interest in a program that had not attracted a lot of interest in years prior.

I don't know if the 11th and 12th persons on the bench are generating that same value. They're clearly not. You know, the random offensive linemen on a top college football team, whom we don't know the name of, how much value is that player contributing? Well, in the sense that he's playing on a team that's doing really well, he's contributing value. But independently, how much value is he contributing? I think that's a harder call. And I think that's what is going to make compensating athletes a difficult challenge, certainly not an impossible challenge, but it's figuring out who gets what ... If it were a professional league, then we would know what they get, because there's a market for services.

* * *

PBS: But this is the only country that I know of that has sports teams associated with universities and institutions of higher learning in a billion-dollar industry, and is tied that way. I mean, this is a pretty unusual situation, isn't it?

McCann: It is, and in other countries, for instance in Europe, we don't see the same college sports system. We see a professionalization of youth sports. We see if you're a 13- or 14-year-old star basketball player, you don't have to wait until you're 19 years old and one year removed from high school to play in the NBA. You can sell your services as a teenager and make money at that point, or you can join some other kind of pro league in another part of the world.

Only in the United States do we have this very extensive and popular system of college sports that has had the effect of reducing the compensation and, in some cases, eliminating compensation for those who are playing the sports. When you couple that with age restrictions in order to enter the NFL and the NBA -- and, of course, in college sports, at least 90 percent of the revenue is generated by football and men's basketball -- then you could see a real injustice.

You have players who can't turn pro because of an age restriction. Then they have to go to college, if you will, to play maybe for a school that they have no interest [in] being a student at. Where do they go? Well, they can go to Europe if they're a basketball player, perhaps, but not many have done so. They're in a difficult situation. I think the ones who are generating so much of the wealth, the star players, are the ones who are so clearly disadvantaged by this system.

PBS: So it's an antitrust case.

McCann: It is an antitrust case, because the current system is set up in a way that boycotts players who would otherwise be commercially viable from being able to use their services. And that, arguably, makes the market less competitive.

Now, the question is, who gets sued there? Do you sue the professional sports leagues and the players' associations that have created barriers to entry? Well, that's been done in the past. The difficulty is that courts say, if the owners and the players get together and negotiate a rule, it's largely immune from federal antitrust law. And of course, you could say, well, that doesn't seem fair, because the players' association is looking out for current players. Why should they create a barrier that prevents prospective players from entering the league, because if they could enter, they're going to take jobs away from the 12th guy on the bench. That doesn't seem like a fair system. But that's how federal labor and antitrust laws are set up. Current employees can negotiate on behalf of prospective employees. It may seem fair in some contexts, but I think in professional sports it really isn't.

* * *

To read the rest, click here.


1. Obama set the country straight last night. That Nobel Peace Prize was a total clusterfuck.

2. I wonder if Skeletor flosses daily.

3. I've never seen Hillary Clinton and Skeletor photographed together.

4. Qaddafi may go down, but he will go down in history as the best dressed dictator EVER.

5. I've never seen Qaddafi and Superfly photographed together either.

6. The NYT has the paywall in place which means I will be reading the NYT on The Huffington Post for free now.

7. In all seriousness, I am done with the Times. 20 views per month? Fuck that.

8. There is a reason so many writers were drinkers. The drinking didn't do shit for the writing, but the writing did wonders for the drinking.

9. It pains me to say this, but I think half of my blog traffic is coming from people looking for pics of hot babes.

10. *SIGH*