Fixed-gear bicycles, colloquially known as “fixies”, seem to be the new yuppie and hipster affectation. I see them all the time on the plateau this year chained to a pole and being pushed on the side by the proud owner. Just this evening I saw no less than three people walking on the sidewalk and pushing their fixies next to them. In other words, these bikes are being used in all manner except for being ridden. And there is a good reason for that: IT’S FUCKING HARD! Fixed-gear bicycles used to be the exclusive domain of athletes (track cycling is an Olympic event) and real hard-core cycling afficionados and bike messengers. In my younger wayward days I was involved for a time in track cycling. Riding fixies requires not only to be in a fantastic physical shape but have a great deal of cycling skill. Doing so in the city makes things so much more complicated. Reason number 1: NO BRAKES! Soon enough though, those bikes will be forgotten and will gather dust next to fedora hats, in-line skates, capri pants, and first-generation iPads. Unlike those items though, fixies are a magnitude apart. Not the least because of the sometimes exorbitant cost. So how did it come to that? Why? It would seem that it’s not just consumerism. Or rather consumerrism is more than what most people think it is. What do you call the bahaviour when a person wants something and just gets it without thinking of the reasons or cares to keep using the acquisition? That’s right: we call such behaviour childish. That childish behaviour seems to be the norm. No one seems to want to put in the effort. Children aren’t tought anymore to put in the work. Everyone gets a prize. I think that might be one of the reasons ADD and ADHD were overdiagnosed so much in the earlier years. Those who were pushed hard by their parents were called to explain the outlandish behaviour of the generation that was never told “No! You can’t have that.” And that carries over.
Just a little earlier, I stopped by the corner depanneur to pick up a carton of milk. The older Asian gentleman ringed up the cost on the register: $3.65. I pulled the change out of my pocket: 2 twonies and 3 quaters. As I don’t like to carry a lot of metal in my pockets I wanted to get back the least number of coins. So I gave him everything I had in my hand. Chances are that at this point a good number of you, my imaginary readers, will think my actions made no sense. The Asian shopkeeper, however, reacted without even having to use the calculatory capabilities of the cash register: he immediately handed to me a loonie and a 10-cent coin. Sadly, most people in the service industry would be completely bewildered by having been given $4.75 for a $3.65 bill. Needless to say, the mathematics education in this country is a disgrace. School systems seem to favour freedom of thinking and arts rather than structure and rigid thinking of science. Probably because it’s easier to hand a kids a bunch of crayons and tell them to be themselves. Our grandparents were told to make something of themselves. Now, the kids are told they are already perfect. So those kids who are now young adults think that the first good conclusion they come to is already perfect.
The province is swept these days by wave of students protesting higher costs of education. Why isn’t anyone protesting the ridiculous quality of education? Isn’t anyone questing the dubious teaching technique of relying solely on the transparencies that are given to teachers by the textbook publishers when their textbook is chosen. At which point will someone wake up and say “Hey! Is it at all possible that availability of those transparencies and slides are a criteria for the selection of the textbook? Was this or that textbook chosen because now the professor doesn’t need to put in long hours to prepare course material?” How come no one is protesting the horrible deal reached by universities with Access Copyright which is certain to increase student costs and set back the progress by tying it up in horrible regulations? Where are the protests against ACTA, Bills C-11, C-30, C-38? How many people even know about these pieces of legislation?
What happened with all the forward thinking? Where are the grounbreakers? The next generation of inventors, scientists, engineers is mostly thinking about inventing the next iPod or iPad. Where are the dreamers who want to cure cancer, break light speed, invent ion propulsion, or just make a car that gets 100 miles per gallon? The green movement is afraid that humanity is going to make itself obsolete by killing our environment. It seems just as likely that the coming wave of “must-have” gadgets might be our extinction event just as well.