It’s Not About The Mascot

vikingWhen I began writing this post Monday, it was a VERY different post.

I’d read the news that some students and a professor at Western Washington University (WWU, Western), my place of employment for the past 15 years, were calling for a change of the university’s mascot, the Vikings, claiming it conflicts with Western’s commitment to diversity.

And so, I was going to write a casual exploration of the topic, reflecting on the fact that the mascot at the junior high school I attended was also the Vikings, half joking about how the current graphic of the Viking, included here, whether or not you believe it a barrier to creating an inclusive community for people of color on campus, is so freaking scary he looks like he very badly wants to pillage my village, rape my women, and impale me on his horns, and then, maybe, I’d lightly touch on the topic of political correctness vs. free speech.

But Tuesday morning, before having any time to complete this post, an email was sent to the entire Western Washington University community by WWU President Bruce Shepard, announcing that classes had been cancelled for the day in response to hate speech on social media, directed at students of color at Western because of their opposition of the mascot.

So, I needed to take a break from writing and regroup, I needed to read the coverage in the media, and I even masochistically subjected myself to reading the reader comments on the article in the Bellingham Herald and on Western’s Facebook Page.

Then, shortly thereafter, I read the news that five Black Lives Matter protesters were shot in Minneapolis.

And what became abundantly clear to me was:

It’s not about the mascot.

It’s about racism.

What kind of country do we live in where this happens?

  • A handful of students of color state publicly that they oppose a university mascot because they feel alienated by it, and they are met with hate speech and threats, AND…
  • This same handful are told, with derision and anger, that they shouldn’t be offended and scared, that they are “cry babies” and “pussies”, and that this is just political correctness run amok, AND…
  • The president of the university is attacked for cancelling classes, which he did because he understands that students of color might be scared, given that racism and violence on college campuses is a national epidemic, and that the whole university needs time to process the awareness that racist threats were made to our students.

In April 2014, President Shepard, in a convocation speech, said:

“ … if in decades ahead, we are as white as we are today, we will have failed as a university.”

…and he swiftly came under fire for those comments.

I suspect that many who found fault with what he said then are likely the same people angrily criticizing the opposition to the mascot and the decision to cancel classes.

Racists have a glaringly obvious tell: Even hint about taking away a symbol of white power — a maniacal Viking, or, let’s say, the Confederate flag — and they doth protest too much.

Listen, I’ll take a politically correct overreaction over a racist overreaction any frickin’ day!

Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.


Stuff We Don’t Need: Frankensalmon

big-fish-little-fishREALLY disappointing news yesterday.

As I wrote five years ago, in two separate posts (Post 1, Post 2), some mad genetic scientists, seemingly out of some sci-fi B-movie, have been messing around with salmon to produce fish that grow faster on farms.

There’s really nothing more I can think to say about what a travesty this idea is, especially to people here in the Pacific Northwest, so please consider reading my previous posts linked to in the previous paragraph.

The sad news from yesterday, is that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the government body that is supposed to keep us safe, has approved the Frankensalmon as fit for human consumption, and they continue to refuse to label this or any other genetically modified food.

And yet, there was some hope hidden in New York Times article:

Within hours of the agency’s decision on Thursday, one consumer advocacy group, the Center for Food Safety, said it and other organizations would file a lawsuit challenging the approval.

Despite the approval, it is likely to be at least two years before any of the salmon reaches supermarkets, and at first it will be in tiny amounts.

It is not clear how well the salmon will sell. Some leading supermarkets have already said, in response to the vocal opposition, that they have no plans to sell it.

So, really, it’s up to us.

As the bumper stickers you see here in Bellingham say:

Friends don’t let friends buy farmed salmon.

Teddy Bear Cove -> Chuckanut Bay -> San Juan Islands


Before The Fall

Before The Fall

Jewell James Totem: Standing Guard At Whatcom Creek


Bicycle + Treadmill = Genius!

Lopifit-Electrical-Supported-Tredmill-1This, folks, is the Lopifit, and it is all kinds of brilliant.

I stumbled upon this treadmill-bike thanks to a Facebook friend’s post, and given my interest in bicycles AND the fact that I swear by the standing workstation I use at my job, given that I’ve blogged about bicycles numerous times in the past, given that “bicycles” is fully half of my blog’s name, I can’t not write a post about this!

The Lopifit is the brainchild of Bruin Bergmeester, from The Netherlands, and an article from a year ago at the Epoch Times describes the Lopifit origin story:

When asked how he came up with the idea, Bruin explains he works full time and sits all day, so he likes to exercise on a treadmill at home.

One day it was lovely outside and Bruin did not fancy spending time on a bicycle, which meant sitting again, so he thought to himself: “Why not bring the treadmill outdoors?” And so the Lopifit was born.

The article was accompanied by this very short video:

Well, what a difference a year makes!

When the Epoch Times piece appeared, Bergmeester had built five prototypes, and a shop in Utrecht could build them on demand, but now there’s a fancy Lopifit website, the Lopifit has crossed the Atlantic and there are now three dealers in the U.S., and the Lopifit can be yours, in one of five color options, for €1,899.00 or $2162.55 USD.

Commenters online naturally got around to asking the obvious question: Yeah, this seems like a great idea in notoriously flat places like The Netherlands, but how well can it handle hills?

While this may not be enough to convince someone in hilly San Francisco, Seattle, or even here in Bellingham, the Epoch Times article mentions hills directly, claiming that, thanks to the electric assist motor, the Lopifit “runs quite fast and is equally good going uphill”.

Me? I’ll take the orange one!