Bicycle Diaries: <i>Rolling</i> and <i>quaffing</i> in a winter wonderland thanks to Blaise Pascal

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Rolling and quaffing in a winter wonderland thanks to Blaise Pascal

Last night Dave and I hooked up with the folks of Chicago BikeWinter at The Handlebar. They've asked me to design the logo for BikeWinter 2007.

Another purpose was to hookup with the Logan Square Draught Beer Preservation Society to discuss the route for this month's Critical Mass. They believe that Chicago's neighborhood taverns promote hospitality by offering public gathering spaces. Quaffing barrelled-beer is therefore essential for building dynamic, vital communities. They are working to further participatory democracy in Chicago by protecting beer drinkers' rights and advocating for improved public beer drinking facilities through the city's neighborhoods. Their route will take the mass by old breweries and popular taverns on the south and north sides.

Typical of Chicago's tightly-knit do-gooder adhocracy, the members of BikeWinter and the LSDBS are virtually the same. Also, their discussions get pretty eclectic. After several fine pints of Three Floyds' Alpha King Pale Ale, I was inspired to mention Blaise Pascal, the 17th Century French scientist and philosopher. My regular readers will recall that I've quoted him before.

Without his wide ranging philosophic curiosity and research, bikes and bike culture probably wouldn't exist today. At the tender age of 12, he proved Euclid's theorems on his own and attempted his first treatise on acoustics. Without them no Critical Mass bike jams. In adulthood he made important contributions to the construction of mechanical calculators. Without them no bike design. He also studied fluids and gases clarifying the concepts of pressure and vacuum. With that no tires or inner tubes.

Later in life, he turned his philospohic attention towards the human condition with Pensées, published in 1670. Here are some excerpts that should inspire the bikers.

On the joys of rolling,
Our nature consists in movement; absolute rest is death.

Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be completely at rest, without passions, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness. There will immediately arise from the depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation, despair.
On rolling and quaffing,
Too much and too little wine. Give him none, he cannot find truth; give him too much, the same.
On the imaginative power of Critical Mass,
Imagination arranges everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which are everything in this world.
Finally, Pascal has something to say to erstwhile bloggers.
Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.

Since one cannot be universal by knowing everything that can be known about everything, it is necessary to know a little about everything.

The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.

I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

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