This morning I turned out for The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, an annual motorcycle event. This year Distinguished Gentleman’s Rides were held in 401 cities and towns in 79 countries. The rides are organized to help raise awareness of and fund research on prostate cancer. Individual riders or groups of riders raise funds or donate directly, and on the day of the ride–the fourth Sunday in September–they wheel their classic rides to designated locations, dressed as gentlemen.
I signed up to raise funds and donated some of my own as well. I also took a stab at dappertude, if putting on a necktie counts as such. I did think the hat was a nice touch, though of course I couldn’t wear it on the ride itself (by the way, click on any of the photos below to see the full sized originals on Flickr):
Other riders got into the spirit of the thing as well, especially the guy with the long-tailed tux! I’ll try to do better next year, although I admit I was very pleased a few riders noticed and commented on my McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle tie. One of the riders who noticed it is organizing an October 2016 air show at Marana Airfield north of Tucson, and I was able to give him some names of some air museum high rollers who might like to participate and help out.
Some of the bikes were pretty sweet. That BMW K100, by the way, is a first year model from 1982: it was the first motorcycle to have anti-lock brakes, and was wildly modernistic for its day. We started the ride with 20 motorcycles and riders, a respectable group.
There were two pit/bar/regroup stops along the 70-mile route. The first was at Hot Rods in Vail, and since we got there ten minutes before opening, everyone occupied themselves in the parking lot by checking in on social media (I was no exception). The second stop was a taco bar at La Encantada, the upscale mall at Sunrise & Campbell, where we took over the designated motorcycle parking area.
I split off after the second regroup. The final destination was a bar on South 4th Avenue, and we had already made two bar stops. Since I quit drinking bar stops have lost some of their luster–in fact I no longer go on motorcycle poker runs or toy runs because too many of the participants ride drunk. This event, however, was different: yes, a few riders ordered beers at Hot Rods and the taco bar at La Encantada, but most of us just asked for water. It was a riding group, not a drinking group, and I’ll definitely be back for next year’s ride.
Now where can I find me one of them Groucho Marx suits?
I’m having a hard time relating to, or even understanding, this: a popular blogger throwing in the towel because advertisers were taking over.
The idea of a sponsored blog is alien to me. A blogger is an individual with something to say and the time and energy to set up a domain and website, right? True, some bloggers put ads in their sidebars, looking to earn a few pennies from readers who click through, but many resist the temptation and don’t have ads at all.
Apparently, over time this woman’s super-popular blog became dominated by a corporate sponsor, to the point where the sponsor was telling her what to write. Somewhere back along the line, though, she’s the one who invited that sponsor on board. She made a bargain with the devil and … well, we all know how that story ends.
My favorite blogs are the ones with no ads. No ads doesn’t necessarily mean those blogs just got started and have only a few readers; some ad-free blogs have been around since the blogosphere’s big bang and have legions of loyal readers: Digby’s Hullabaloo, for example; Unfogged, Mimi Smartypants … I could name dozens off the top of my head.
Not that my blogs are in that league, but I don’t have ads either. I’ve been blogging for more than a decade now and have never been tempted. I bear the cost of putting what I write online, but it’s a small cost. I may not have legions of readers, but I have some, and once in a while they tell me they like what I write (and when they don’t, too).
I blog because it makes me happy. Isn’t that enough?
You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.
Hey, guess what? September 27 to October 3, 2015, is Banned Books Week in the USA!
Ironically, the American Library Association’s first crack at a poster for Banned Books Week 2015, the one on the left, was attacked by social justice warriors
who declared it insulting to Muslims. It has since been replaced by the censored version on the right.
YCRT! Red Alert
This is disturbing as hell:
This week, high school students in Mayfield, Kentucky, were given a current events assignment: to read newspaper articles about police use of deadly force against minorities, and to write reports on the subject. After the Kentucky State Police learned of the assignment from the student child of an officer, it intervened directly with the school district to have the assignment cancelled. KSP’s reason? A state trooper had been killed by a black suspect during a traffic stop earlier this month.
“I just think with the state of mourning the community is in and law enforcement,” Nall said. ‘It’s just a bad time to have students reviewing and analyzing law enforcement deadly force issues with minorities.”
In past YCRT! posts, I’ve linked to, and commented on, several stories about political interference in school textbook selection and class content, most often in the form of attempts to censor textbooks and restrict discussion of hot-button topics like evolution, science, sex, and abortion. But up to now such campaigns have been conducted in public, with open hearings and school board reviews. In this case, it appears the Kentucky State Police contacted the school district directly, and the district ordered the assignment pulled. There was no review process, no opportunity for students or parents to participate in the decision.
No word on what will happen to the teacher who thought up the assignment, but it’s not hard to guess he or she will be looking for another gig soon.
p.s. Here’s my favorite Facebook comment on the story:
YCRT! News Roundup
In the spirit of Banned Books Week, the National Coalition Against Censorship presents five book banning stories from the field.
After an outcry from a Christian group, an award-winning young adult novel, Into the River, has become the first book in more than 20 years to be officially banned in New Zealand.
Remember how, in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, the ALA and a few courageous librarians stood firm against federal efforts to track the reading habits of library patrons? You do realize the feds haven’t stopped trying, right? The Department of Homeland Security recently ordered a New Hampshire public library to shut down its anonymous server, which made it impossible to track sites visited by library patrons.
“A few parental complaints can change the curriculum for everyone’s children, including older students. What literature will parents challenge in the future, knowing that they have the power to stop an entire school from studying a book?”
A mother from Knoxville, Tennessee, labels the New York Times bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks pornographic. The author responds, saying the complainant is confusing gynecology with pornography.
The left gets much of the blame for political correctness, but they’ve got nothing on the right, the true masters of obfuscating doublespeak.
Remember Peyton Place? Before Peyton Place, there was The Boy Came Back.
Author Judy Blume talks about her struggles with book banners.
Just for fun, here’s an interview with Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series of children’s books, on what it’s like to hold down the top spot of every banned book list in the world.
Have a great Banned Books Week, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’ll be ordering a copy of The Boy Came Back — it sounds like a fun read.
Our summer rainy season (laughingly called the “monsoon” in Southern Arizona, as if …) is officially over. For the past two months I’ve been driving the truck to the air museum. When I take the truck there are always a pair of prescription eyeglasses along for the ride, either the sunglasses in the center console or a pair of readers stuffed in a side pocket of my cargo pants. Yesterday, with no rain in the forecast, I reverted to type and rode the motorcycle in. There are no prescription glasses in the saddlebags, and I didn’t remember to bring the readers. When I sat down between tram tours to look at Facebook updates on my cell phone, I could barely make out the posts and comments.
By squinting a little (a lot, actually), I could tell that one of my sisters had posted heated comments on a police brutality thread I’d participated in before leaving for the museum. I could make out enough of what she said to get the gist: we shouldn’t question the police; they put their lives on the line every day and if they deem it necessary to beat, taze, or shoot unarmed civilians, we should keep our heads down, move along, and respect their authority. Nor should we share or repost stories about police wrongdoing and abuses, because that makes their job harder and puts them at risk.
I’m not sure if she said anything about not videotaping police as they go about the important work of savaging and killing anyone who gives them lip, because by that point I had a headache from squinting at the tiny print. I put the cell phone away, meaning to catch up with the conversation later on the big monitor in my home office, but by the time I got home she’d deleted her comments.
So I’ll just say this: the issue I have with law enforcement administering extra-judicial beatings and killings is that police are almost never held accountable for their actions. Accountability goes along with respect. The president of the United States is held to account for his actions, and is often subjected to disrespect. So too are doctors. So too are commercial pilots. So too are military officers and soldiers. Why should the police, alone of all the professions, be unaccountable, respected even when they break the laws they’re sworn to uphold?
So it’s a tough job with a certain amount of risk. Yes, and …?
A couple of months ago the air museum put out a request for tram docents to come in on Friday, the 25th of September, to give bus tours to UCLA football fans here for a weekend game. The deal was the football fans would show up in six tour buses: we’d meet them in front of the museum, board the buses, then narrate a tour through the museum grounds.
What lured me in was the detail that the tours will start at 6 PM, after the museum is closed for the day, close to sunset at this time of the year. I saw an opportunity to take sunset photos of some of the outdoor aircraft, something I’ve been wanting to do.
Over time a few details have been clarified. The buses won’t show up until 6:30 PM, and the fans are supposed to be inside the main hanger for a catered dinner fifteen minutes later. We’ll just have time to board the buses, figure out how to turn on the mics, and introduce ourselves as the buses drive around the back side of the museum to the hangar where dinner will be served. I should be able to wander around with my camera afterward, and for that it’ll be worth driving 40 minutes each way to the museum and home again.
Speaking of the museum, a teenaged boy with Down Syndrome, along with his family, boarded the tram for my tour yesterday. At the end the young man came up to me and held out his hand. After I shook his hand he wrapped a big old hug around me, and I gave him a big old hug back. Things like that make everything worthwhile. Made my day, anyhow.
Our beloved dachshund Schatzi has paid her post-surgery visit to the vet and has been pronounced healed. We’re a happy family once again (especially now that Polly’s evil cats have been banished to a friend’s mountainside workshop, where I hope they’re earning their keep by killing vermin).
Ha! I just found an older but still serviceable pair of prescription glasses. I’d put them aside a year ago, meaning to drop them in the donation box next time I visit the BX optical shop. They have a new destination now: they’re going in one of the motorcycle saddlebags!