“The Rational Optimist”–Intro

An interesting looking piece of flint jutted unnaturally from a hard clay bank a little off the highway near Barstow, California.  Its sharp edge sliced me as I carelessly dug around it.  A young UCLA professor later confirmed that I’d discovered a crude, human-fashioned cutting tool.  I’m probably the first person to hold it since it fell from the hand of its maker over 10,000 years ago.  I’m certainly the most recent victim of its long-idle but still-keen cutting edge.

Punctuated but relentless, the accelerating rate of human progress is cause for optimism

(more…)

BMW International Rally–Salt Lake City

Today was the final day of the BMW International Rally in Salt Lake City.  It was a great event thanks to tireless work by its organizers.  Unfortunately, it was also memorably hot, topping 100 degrees each day and lingering over 80 well into the evenings as fairground campers tried to sleep.

Mornings were pleasant, but by afternoon, all the shady spots–the beer garden in particular–were crowded.  Evaporative cooling vests sold out fast.  Many resorted to cowboy air conditioning–a wet bandana around the neck.  Electrically-heated vest sales were slow.

(more…)

GT 750

My cousin Mark has a thing for the GT750, and I may have caught the bug from him.  Suzuki produced the GT750 from 1971 to 1977.  The bike was innovative in several ways.  Some hit.  Some missed.  It was the first water-cooled motorcycle from Japan.  For that it got the nicknames of ‘Water Buffalo’ in the US and ‘Kettle’ in Britain.  Today, almost all big-displacement bikes are water cooled.  It was a two stroke.  Today, almost no bikes are two stroke.  It was also a triple; an early member of a small and still quirky club.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The engine is the focal point of any motorcycle.  This one’s got bigger-than-life character.

(more…)