Philosophy and Motorcycles

Philosophy and motorcycles are two of my favorite things in life. This blog will be bits of wisdom gleaned from a misspent youth and an adventurous dotage. People who like/love wisdom or motorcycles, classic or modern versions of either, are welcome to visit and comment.

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Location: Wisconsin, United States

I have been married to the same lovely woman for decades. We have one son, two cats, and live in rural Wisconsin, USA. I ride and rebuild motorcycles, and I am semi-retired. Favorite bikes are Yamaha XS650, FJ1200 and Ducati 900SS. My wife is a home care nurse. I am a Myers-Briggs INTP. She is ESFJ. Our son works at the Apple store in downtown SF and is teaching English as a second language in San Francisco, no grandchildren.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alan and Newt

I've been reading a biography of Alan Watts. His writings impressed me greatly years ago and I have used information from his book PSYCHOTHERAPY EAST / WEST many times in both lectures and writings. Now upon reading his bio I am impressed that there was such a discrepancy between his writings and his life. What brought this to mind was a recent article about Newt Gingrich. Newt has lived the life of a libertine jackass while maintaining his stand as a rock of the so-called moral majority. I do not know how people can reconcile the gulf between moral preaching and immoral living. Newt was unfaithful to his wives and his mistresses. What makes people think he will be faithful to America? The man is a ruthless opportunist. Watts also wrote glowingly about living a life of honor and humility but was serially unfaithful to his wives having a string of affairs. Jung wrote that fanaticism is always overcompensation for doubt. I find that comment enlightening. I wonder if Alan and Newt, both having been raised rather conservatively, live/lived in that state of discomfort brought about by acting upon the arrogance of appetite but feeling compelled to maintain a mask of respectability, not even able to be honest to self. The deeper the shame, the more elaborate the mask. When one knows himself to be an utter fraud it sometimes is essential to hide from one's own truth behind a mask of the opposite. It would be interesting, although probably terrifying, to see into the mind of Newt. I suspect that there are demons laughing down there. I will never know if either of these men was actually bothered by conscience or if they reveled in believing they fooled the world. It may even be both. I damn sure wouldn't want either to be in charge of anything upon which my security, safety or sanity depends. I don't envy politicians. It would be difficult to satisfy enough of the nuts at either end of the political spectrum to get elected and still maintain any sense of honor. We live in a strange country. When I look at the people in office I can hardly believe people actually voted these guys into office. What were we thinking? I recently met the RocketMan. It was a wonderful afternoon. Check his website at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rights and Abuse

The very idea that we have rights is fairly new in the world. Throughout history the powerful granted a certain amount of safety to the common folk in return for fealty and taxes. It was a Mafia style arrangement wherein the powerful would not hurt the common folk so long as the commoners recognized the superiority of the powerful and paid protection. The idea that a common man had a right to the fruit of his own labor without obligation to anyone was a novel notion. Religion, at least in the west, has seldom stood for the common man except to divide him into camps in which each group assumed themselves to have rights above and beyond those of people in general. The thought was that since I and my fellows represent the divine truth we are superior and entitled to rule over others. And within that group there was always a sub-group, the priests or leaders, who represented a more direct pipeline to the divine truth than ordinary folk. The secular notion of rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of property, is the absolute foundation of modern democracy. Man has no natural inclination to respect the life, liberty or property of his neighbor. This can be seen on the playground where those with a natural advantage of size or confidence will command control of both the property and the play. The larger child has no natural tendency to share his toys or to play by any rules other than those he invents and which favor himself. (I write in the masculine but intend no gender bias) What is it that causes democracy to work? How can a civil society exist and what will hold it together? Locke presented the idea of enlightened self interest. In simple terms I will respect your rights if, and only if, you respect mine. The wonderful documents which established the ground rules for America ensured, at least in theory, that each citizen has equal access to law and equal rights. How could this be maintained? It was, and remains, based on the idea of reciprocity. We hold this truth to be self evident and without it democracy cannot function. The basic fact underlying the crisis in modern government is that there is no longer even a pretense to reciprocity. Technology has made it possible for those with money or power to eavesdrop on the public while surrounding themselves in an ever greater shroud of secrecy. While it is possible to penetrate that shroud and expose truth it is generally to late for truth to have much effect on outcomes. By the time the population became aware that the war in Iraq was initiated based on fiction it was too late to avoid the conflict. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives based on that series of decisions and fortunes have been made. And where is reciprocity? Are those who lied held to account? The same is true of the economic crisis. By the time it became obvious that banks were engaging in fraud the economy of the world had been upset. Again lives were lost and fortunes made on these decisions. The loss of life is not so evident as in war but many suicides and suicidal despair resulted from the loss of security of those whose life savings was wiped out, or transferred to the accounts of the wealthy. Again where is reciprocity? To my knowledge not one banker or Wall street player has been hanged, or even charged with a felony. Americans have never resented the rich simply because they are rich. We envy them but we don't resent their success. What we resent is people getting rich by cheating, and especially cheating with no fear of consequences. Just as your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins your right to pursue profit ends when it is based on theft or deception rather than industry or innovation. When a person or group can lie to the American people and steal from the American people with no fear of consequences it is the end of democracy. Voting becomes an exercise in futility. Americans need to demand justice. The pledge of allegiance concludes with the phrase liberty and justice for all. American will warrant allegiance only so long as it continues to provide liberty and justice for all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

It was a quiet weekend on the pretty side of the river. The Packers won and the Vikings, well let's just say they tried hard. My wife was off for the weekend so she and the Lefse Ladies made lefse. I asked her how many Lefse Ladies there are now. If the number ever gets to 12 I intend to make a calendar of them. They are the last of a grand history of Norsk traditional food. Gone are the days when Lars or Olga would get up from the milking stool and say "Ya boy I'm starvin' fer somea dat lutefisk." To be answered by "So, are we gonna eat then?" I am not sure how much time between the question and "then" transpired. People of the far North have a strong sense of delayed gratification. It comes from spending half of life waiting for enough light and warmth to enjoy the other half. Later this week we will binge on cholesterol and tryptophan and probably watch the Badgers, who also won this week, or some other group of testosterone laden young men flip a coin and then spend the next two hours trying to get the quarterback. Part of spectating these events from home usually involves a nap, and such a golden happy hour is worth far more than a quarter. I hope the Thanksgiving holiday isn't spoiled by some foolishness like another political debate. The fluffy questions are meaningless and the answer to any substantial question in a debate is totally predictable and hence, meaningless. I agree with the cartoonist who wrote that at the end of any such debate we should execute the candidate who made the least sense. After the usual Monday perusal of mail I will probably continue to work on my latest shop project. There's a long way to go on the chopper. I am almost done with the welding and about half way on the bodywork. I'm sketching headlight ideas, trying to decide on a final design. That's what winter is for, building new things to enjoy in the new year. Be well, do good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Damn I am glad there are people in this country with money. If it were not for them there would be no good used motor cycles available. I recently looked in a magazine at test reports. 21 large for a new Victory, 20 large for a BMW and 18 large for a new Kawasaki Concourse. All great bikes I am sure but what money. I recently bought a 92 Yamaha FJ1200 to replace my 90 FJ1200. By the time I got it all ready for long distance travel I have about $2,500 in it. That's affordable. And the real world difference between the latest whiz bang sport touring bike and my FH1200 is minimal. Yet if someone had not bought that FJ new it would not have been available used. For people in my bracket it's nice to have people out there who buy new. So thank you to whoever bought my FJ1200 new. I appreciate your purchase. I also appreciate that you have moved on to something newer and enabled me to buy a wonderful powerful smooth sport touring machine at a discount even a working man can afford. Thanks. Maybe in a few years I'll pick up whatever you bought to replace this FJ1200.