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Monday, July 16, 2007

The Politics of Wasting Time

posted by on July 16 at 10:22 AM

From the PI:

A hit-and-run driver marred a Pacific Northwest rite of passage Sunday when he struck and seriously injured a local man who had nearly finished the annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.

Gerald Marvin, 24, of Seattle suffered serious injuries when the driver of a sport utility vehicle swerved out of his lane on U.S. 30 northwest of Portland. Struck from behind, Marvin slammed into two other cyclists, who suffered minor injuries.

Police pulled over a 40-year-old driver, an ex-convict with a 1989 conviction for an Oregon murder, eight miles from the accident scene.

What angers the public is the nature of the disruption. A good-for-nothing criminal not only harmed a law-abiding cyclist but also prevented him from completing his goal. Though the goal is in essence meaningless, the public codes it as noble. What must be examined, then, is why one way of wasting your time is registered as noble and another way as ignoble. From that examination, political/economic results will emerge. In a society like ours, little is innocent and almost everything is an expression of political and economic control.

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Though the goal is in essence meaningless, the public codes it as noble.

But what goals have this essence of meaning, then? Aren't all goals by nature meaningful only from a subjective standpoint?

Posted by bma | July 16, 2007 10:27 AM

Though the goal in essence is meaningless? Uh, maybe to you it is. To the cyclist, reaching the goal is significant.

Also, that examination will have absolutely nothing to do with the outcome. His crime is a hit-and-run. It's not a hit-an-annual-Seattle-to-Portland-Bicycle-Classic-and-run.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 16, 2007 10:28 AM

*It's not a hit-an-annual-Seattle-to-Portland-Bicycle-Classic-cyclist-and-run.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 16, 2007 10:30 AM

It's not the nobility of the bicyclist that interests people in this story, it's the egregiousness and randomness of the offense: the STP is a massive event with thousands of riders, and the SUV driver had to have been totally clueless to hit this bicyclist. Readers wonder at the randomness of life, and whether somewhere out there is a driver who will one day kill them.

Also, in this town, having the driver be in an SUV adds fuel to the fire. The only way it could have been worse is if he had a spotted owl nailed to the hood and a Dino Rossi bumpersticker on the back bumper.

Posted by Big Sven | July 16, 2007 10:34 AM

(Doubt he'd have a Dino Rossi sticker as this happened in Oregon.)

Posted by DOUG. | July 16, 2007 10:36 AM

Charles, the real question that needs asking here is, do you consider the enormous consumption of pot to be a waste of time, and if so, is it noble or ignoble. From that examination, nothing will be learned.

Posted by switzerblog | July 16, 2007 10:37 AM

@2 The goal of the STP rider is personal to that rider. To the public it is meaningless. People who read about STP don't feel any sense of personal satisfaction from peopel achieving that goal , only the satisfaction of knowing that They support something which they consider important.

Posted by Tost | July 16, 2007 10:38 AM

@5, exactly, he probably just had a W sticker.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 16, 2007 10:39 AM

I think Charles has a point: part of the outrage is due to the fact that people use up their whole weekend in this enterprise -- and then head right back to work. The nobility is no doubt due to participants having many other, more practical tasks to do, but instead allocating the weekend instead to make this gesture of agency regarding "personal time." (I.e, your freedom extends to not enjoying leisure at all, if you choose.)

That said, the freedom is tightly circumscribed. An badly injured cyclist can't report back to work on Monday. If it were deemed "unsafe" (rather than a temporary escape that reinforces the worklife structure), the STP might become off-limits to the responsible worker, personal time or not.

It's similar to a vacationer falling into a crevasse while climbing Mt. Rainier -- entirely predictable, but upsetting because each time it happens it increases the social assessment that mountain-climbing is the kind of "risky" behavior that responsible workers don't engage in. So it becomes important to brand the climber inexperienced. Or to play up the fact the drunk driver is an ex-felon.

Posted by MvB | July 16, 2007 10:48 AM

So basically what you are saying is we need to ban bicycles because they are unsafe and can have a negative effect on worker productivity.

Posted by elswinger | July 16, 2007 10:54 AM

Such analyses can also be applied to the aggregate time wasted in airport security queues and other such futilities. Not to mention the billions of aggregate human hours wasted on the defects of Microsoft products.

If you do some kind of conversion of these wasted hours into human lifetimes, etc., the 'death toll' far exceeds Bush's war in total cost.

Ultimately this kind of thought process amounts to a complex form of intellectual masturbation.

Right up Charles' alley, I'd say.

Posted by Walter Mellon | July 16, 2007 11:06 AM

Verker productiffity iz ze only ting dat matterz in ze verlt today. Zese bicyclists add nutting to glory of ze state.

Posted by Fnarf | July 16, 2007 11:09 AM

What the fuck are you talking about? Goddamn, please, Stranger staff, lay off the drugs and the moral high horse until later in the week. It's too early in the week.

Posted by Sentient Being | July 16, 2007 11:12 AM

I personally, as both a climber and bicyclist, think it's *nothing* like the people who die on Rainier. Dying on Rainier happens because conditions on the mountain that particular day exceed your capabilities- either because of things that are your fault- such as overestimating your capabilities- or because of things that are mother nature's fault- weather turning or a block of snow and ice coming down. It's about you and your relationship to nature.

In the STP case, a fuckhead drove recklessly and clipped a biker in what should have been a safe environment. No comparison.

Posted by Big Sven | July 16, 2007 11:53 AM

law abiding bicyclist? those cyclists have no regard for anyone else on the road. took me about an hour and a half last summer to drive somewhere that should have taken no more that 45 minutes cuz of those damn cyclists. whatever, more power to 'em. don't get me wrong, i don't condone swerving into a line of cyclists, but i can understand the temptation to do so...all to well...

Posted by shelbis | July 16, 2007 12:05 PM

This whole pack of biters makes a knee-jerk criticism of every Mudede comment without actually reading what he said. Too busy typing to read, I think.

Here, try again. Do what Charles asked you to do: "[Examine] why one way of wasting your time is registered as noble and another way as ignoble."

Make an honest effort. Once you've done that work, if no "political/economic results ... emerge," flame on, haters.

Posted by elenchos | July 16, 2007 12:11 PM

Big Sven @ 14: there is a comparison to be made, and I made it -- in the context of leisure time, risk, and lost productivity. In that context, whether or not an accident is anyone's fault is immaterial, as is the notion that the STP "should have been" a safe environment. (That said, with over 40,000 car-collision deaths on U.S. roads each year, I'm not sure how anyone can say a 202-mile road trip "should have been" safe, practically speaking. The statistics argue against it.)

You seem to think comparing means equating, which was not my point at all.

Just to be clear, I'm speaking specifically to Charles's point about whether there's a difference in getting run over doing STP vs. getting run over while cycling to work. Mountain climbing is another "noble" endeavor but is considered riskier than biking, so I mentioned that for context.

Posted by MvB | July 16, 2007 12:45 PM

Hey Chuck-
Your head needs to be examined. Some things just happen, and they suck.

A drunk guy ran over a cyclist. The only expression being made is, the driver is a fuck - hope the guy on the bike is alright.

But if riding bikes on the weekend isn't noble, how is rugby noble? You posted last week that some sports were manly and others less so.

Have you ever played sports? Beer pong isn't technically a sport.

Posted by Drunk driving much? | July 16, 2007 1:14 PM

If you don't work up a sweat playing beer pong, you're doing it wrong.

Posted by PdxRitchie | July 16, 2007 1:41 PM

"wasting" time could also be seen as "sacrificing" time. see george bataille r.e. the potlach.

Posted by maxsolomon | July 16, 2007 2:01 PM

the best part is chaz wastes his time and is paid to do it!

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 16, 2007 2:03 PM

"In a society like ours, little is innocent and almost everything is an expression of political and economic control."

Okay, Charles, we get it. This is the point of pretty much everything you ever post. No matter what anyone does, it's because they're an asshole. If I put air in my tires, it's probably because I'm a capitalist pig that wants to save money on gas to buy more Nike shoes to support baby rape in third-world countries because I despise the poor. If I lock my doors at night, it's most likely because I'm afraid of black people raping my wife and killing my cats and stealing my food. If I watch a movie, it's clearly because I'm insensitive to the plight of Eastern European refugees. If I pick my nose, it's obviously because I hate gays.

In a way, it's almost nice of you. I can just assume I'm a douche no matter what I do, and leave the over-analyzing to you.

Posted by Ben | July 16, 2007 3:21 PM

Chaz is the idle, wasteful class. thats the best part; chaz is part of the system, and his feigned critical insight into the system makes him a worse hypocrite for not doing anything about it other than pointing at others to buck it.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 16, 2007 3:27 PM

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