Fair Weather Cycling

Not much rain in Seattle this summer (we had a 6 week stretch with nary a drop) and it looks like sun for most of the rest of the month.

That’s meant more cyclists on the street. Will that translate to more year-round commuters? Signs in my office indicate we’ve got a ways to go.

Typical day this summer:

The one day it rained:

Thugs in Congress

US Representatives Sue Myrick and Frank Wolf have written a letter calling on the law firm DLA Piper to not represent ZTE. In the letter, the estimable Congresspeople state that by representing ZTE:

“your firm is indicating it values the retainer of one contract over the legitimate cyber security and supply chain concerns of the United States government, as well as the oppression and persecution of political dissidents, human rights activists, religious groups, women, journalists, students and educators in Iran.”

Is ZTE a rogue state? Dr. Evil’s criminal organization? A banned foreign food additive?

No. ZTE is a Chinese electronics manufacturer. And like any company doing business in the United States, ZTE needs to have counsel over here. Counsel to help with contracts, with regulatory compliance, with litigation, with lobbying. With the million little legal details necessary to make an enterprise go.

It’s also the case that our American system recognizes and respects the right to counsel – even when the client is reprehensible, unpopular or vaguely rumored to be controlled by the Chinese government.

And it’s absolutely appalling that a couple of Congresspeople would write a letter like this.

Maybe they consider it payback for the kefuffle that erupted over the representation of a GOP Congress in the appeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Or maybe they are reactionaries looking to score some cheap political points at the expense of a target too risk-averse to fire back (although if I were DLA’s managing partner I would be sorely tempted to send a response along the lines of “snort my taint, you thuggish pricks”).

Whatever the case, Wolf and Myrick’s letter needs to be called out for what it is: un-American and unacceptable. Here’s hoping voters see fit to send these two lackwits back to the state legislatures where they can do less damage.

Building the Fleet

Yes, it was a bargain, and yes, it’s great fun to ride – but there’s not much more of an explanation for this little bit of ridiculousness I picked up. It’s an SE Draft single speed with a coaster brake. Cheap steel frame, wanna-be wheels, and road tires that are a jarring match for Seattle’s pitted roads. But check the simplicity – no gears, no brakes. Just slam on the pedals to stop.

I’ve ridden it to work a few times, but I don’t see this being a commuter bike. Coaster brakes are great for kids and leisurely flatland riding. They’re not so good when flying down the hill on Pine, or trying to stop on a dime to avoid an errant driver.

I wrote before about the differences between a fixed gear and a coaster brake, but I hadn’t realized how inferior coaster brakes remain compared to disc or rim brakes. And of course, losing a chain on a bike like this is every bit as bad as having that happen on a brake-less fixie.

Still, I’m happy to report that this bike can lay down skids every bit as effectively as the Schwinn I rode as a kid. I expect it will largely see use on weekend doughnut runs and impromptu evening rides around the neighborhood.