County closes damaged roads, but just to cyclists (again)

It could just be wishful thinking, but it looks like Boulder County’s transportation decider—or perhaps someone who writes the words for him—has modified his internal-combustion bias ever so slightly.

He was quoted as follows in a Longmont Times-Call story about why the damaged canyon roads are closed to cyclists:

While these conditions are experienced by both motorists and bicyclists, bicyclists are much more likely to have their safety compromised.

That’s an improvement, in that he acknowledges the roads are dangerous for motorists, but not much of an improvement.

The roads, he says, are more dangerous for cyclists than they are for motorists because of steep drop-offs and increased heavy equipment traffic. I’m going to hazard a guess that more motorists than cyclists go over those steep drop-offs on canyon roads and that there are more collisions between big trucks and other motor vehicles than there are between big trucks and people on bicycles.

The biggest hazards to cyclists are careless drivers, and maybe someday Boulder County and others will acknowledge that.


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Embiggen your lexicon: click here

The metric expansion of space. The inflationar...

The metric expansion of space. The inflationary epoch is the expansion of the metric tensor at left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an expanding universe, it’s inevitable that our choice of words should expand. The language is expanding so rapidly and wonderfully that some of the most colorful terms so far defy defining.

It’s enough to drive a word nerd to perplexity.

On one site alone – Bad Astronomy – I came across these concatenations in short order:

  1. enselenate
  2. enarthurnate
  3. gobluenate

Except for the fairly obvious Michigan Wolverine flavor of the list’s terminus, I love them. Nary a one could I find in a dictionary, but when these gems are used in context their meaning is clear.


Embrace your nerdité. Look it up yourself.

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NYT headline won’t help defog climate ‘debate’

The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising.

That quote is from a compelling story with an unfortunate headline that will inspire legions of readers to shrug it off and go read something that sounds new instead: Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate –

I said pretty much the same thing—Haven’t they been sounding the alarm for years?—but I read the story anyway.

This headline was better and caught my attention first, so I read it first:

Scientists to Americans: We’re Not Divided on Climate Change

Take your pick, but be sure to read one of them. It’s important stuff.

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Political dog-whistlers: Who do you think you’re fooling?

Until the other day, a dog whistle to me was something that I used mostly in vain to try to persuade a wayward pet to return home.

Even though I’ve been around canines for much of my life, and presently serve as co-guardian of a yellow Lab in Boulder County, Colorado, where pet ownership is frowned upon, the more sinister meaning had just never caught my attention.

Dog-whistling is something that Congressman Paul Ryan has been accused of doing lately, in the not so grand tradition of Barry Goldwater, Dick Nixon, Ronald Reagan and—to be unreasonably fair, I’m sure—the occasional politician of other persuasions.

The dog-whistle metaphor has to do with the concept of messages that can be perceived or understood only by those who are inclined to perceive or understand them a certain way. As our canine companions react to sounds at frequencies that humans cannot detect, some humans react to certain words and phrases quite differently from others.

Dog-whistling is using code words or phrases such as “states’ rights” and “forced busing” and “inner city” to let like-minded members of your audience know what you are talking about without saying it straight out. In this example, of course, the message is about race.

So what’s my message?

Just this: Listen closely and decipher carefully the noises that our would-be leaders make. They clearly can’t be trusted to say what they really think.