By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

You won’t find a bad review about the beautiful film-meditation “Kedi” and rightfully so. Director Ceyda Torun built a dream-like soft documentary stitched together from several storylines, and it fits and flows with elegance and mirth.

This is a kind, gentle and soothing meditation about our relationship with cats and, by proxy, with each other as humans. It identifies something good and meaningful in every person, and every animal, and celebrates it through the reverent monologues of the human supporting cast of the film as they pay homage to the roaming cat population of Istanbul, Turkey.

Kedi is a long time coming, a movie that will likely enjoy decent commercial success with the rise of cat prominence via social media. In an era of increasing social divisiveness posting a photo of a cat to your social media is the modern equivalent of talking about the weather. Everyone can relate, no one is alienated. And that is where Kedi begins, with the universal and oftentimes unspoken confession that we are more connected to our animals than we will sometimes openly admit.

Whether you are a “cat person” or not, Kedi is visually luxurious, a transparent travelogue through Istanbul and an examination of the reality that good is to be found in nearly everyone. Kedi reveals an intimacy in our relationship with animals I’ve never seen in film before, and that is uniting. It is something we need to hear.

A worrisome plot boils under the glowing surface of Kedi, the brief mention of expansion and modernization that threatens both the indigenous stray cat population supported by the citizenry, and also threatens this entire gentle culture, both human and animal. It’s ominous but not obnoxious, and mostly this film is charming, but this inference is unsettling. But that is a story for another documentary. As for this one, you may relax and enjoy this beautiful meditation.

Cat lover or not, Kedi is intrinsic and well made. It is worth seeking out. If you are a cat lover, then this film is an anthem and an ode to why we worship and cherish these perfect, gentle, beautiful animal-lords of our world who are so generous to include us in their lives.

By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

Terry Lacroix (left), the driver who killed Karen McKeachie, during a court hearing Monday, March 6, 2017. (Photo Credit: John Counts Photo for The Ann Arbor News)

Terry Lee Lacroix is responsible for the death of Karen McKeachie.

That is a fact.

Had it not been for his willful actions on August 26, 2016 at approximately 10:45 AM, McKeachie would be alive today.

There is no question about the responsibility of Terry Lee Lacroix. He caused her death. That is known.

But what is mysterious is what should be done with Terry Lee Lacroix in the aftermath of Karen McKeachie’s killing? And it is a killing. It is not an accident. Lacroix’s willful decisions directly caused McKeachie’s death.

Emotionally some may want to exact a type of “revenge”, a willful infliction of loss or suffering upon the perpetrator Terry Lee Lacroix for the killing of Karen McKeachie. There may be a circumstance when this is appropriate. If Lacroix were in a position to willfully kill again. Then his capability to do so must be neutralized in the interest of public safety.

How our courts decide to punish Terry Lee Lacroix for the killing of Karen McKeachie will say a great deal about our society. It will place a value on a life. It will demonstrate what we are willing to do to prevent further loss of life, and it will reveal structural insights about our character and intellect.

What was Karen McKeachie’s life “worth”? What is the value of the life of the next victim of a similar killing? And, there will be more willful killings of cyclists by motorists.

To decide you must look in the mirror. Put a price on your life. What would you exchange for it? What is the correct toll for your life’s forfeiture?

I’ll suggest no such comparison; no such valuation can be assessed. The value of your life, and the loss of McKeachie’s, is incalculable.

But what about the next life lost to willfully deadly driving? And there will be more.

As a culture have we learned anything from losing Karen McKeachie? Will we change anything? Will the existing laws be applied as a template, and then reused on the next willful killing of a cyclist?

On Monday MLive.com reported that Terry Lee Lacroix pleaded “no contest” to a “misdemeanor charge of a moving violation causing death”. The maximum penalty is one year in jail. We are, in effect, stating clearly that, “If you choose to kill a cyclist with your car, you may go to prison for a year.” That is the value we place on a bicycle rider’s life. One year of confinement. Three hundred sixty five days confinement and the remaining legal record and expenses. That’s it.

A one-year jail term is not a substantial enough penalty for willfully killing a cyclist with a motor vehicle.

And because it is not substantial enough, because the penalty is not commensurate with the loss, the deterrent value, the compelling reason to drive more carefully, does not exist. Until the penalty fits the crime, cyclists are little more than collateral damage that may cost a reckless driver a year in jail, a prison record and legal fees.

But one year is all. And that is wrong. Your life, the life of Karen McKeachie and the lives of every cyclist are worth a greater penalty to compel drivers to behave more cautiously around cyclists.

 

 

By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

racermate_computrainer_booth

According to an e-mail sent to sponsored athletes last night and reports on social media, Computrainer, the innovator of the computerized indoor ride simulator, is closing.

Reports indicate an e-mail was sent to sponsored athletes late last night. Phone calls to the company, Racermate, and its sister company, Floscan, were not returned as of this hour. In a phone call with a representative from sister company Floscan, who asked not to be named, early Tuesday, February 28, this reporter was told “I don’t know what is going on over there [at Computrainer].”

A copy of the e-mail received by tomdemerly.com via social media reads:

“It is with a heavy heart that those of us here at RacerMate must tell you that we are closing the doors on CompuTrainer. Technology and competition from larger companies have both eaten into the marketplace. As a small company with the premier indoor trainer in terms of performance and durability, we have found ourselves in a place where we cannot continue. It has been a marvelous 40+ years and we have enjoyed sharing in the victories and friendships we have made along the way.” [signed]

Chuck Wurster, Vice President

RacerMate Inc.

Seattle, WA

Voice mails left at Computrainer’s extension contained the message, “Please don’t be surprised if it takes several days to return your message.”

Computrainer is related to Floscan, a company that provides aviation and maritime fuel flow monitoring equipment.

The Computrainer indoor ride simulator revolutionized bicycle training by projecting performance telemetry on a screen in front of riders while a load generator varied resistance creating a realistic ride simulation indoors. The system also enabled riders to “compete” with each other in a virtual environment and to ride against themselves from previous performances saved on a computer that controlled the Computrainer.

If reports are accurate, contributing factors may include an unusual, non-retail sales model, low profit margins, service intensive products and the introduction of other computer controlled ride-simulation “smart” trainers into the competitive space from companies like Tacx and Wahoo Fitness who have a dealer network and existing distribution at the consumer level from brick and mortar retailers.

While this report remains unconfirmed from Computrainer as of this hour, the inability to receive or return sales and service inquiries throughout the first half of Tuesday, and reports of the e-mail announcement sent to sponsored athletes have surfaced on social media.

By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-4-52-01-pm

Disc brake road bikes, new tire sizes, new brake caliper brake placement, new models, new categories, new components.

The cycling industry has a spastic obsession with newness

The belief is that, to keep cycling compelling for consumers there must be a continuous flow of new products, exciting products.

But not necessarily better products.

In an incident today in Stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour top professional rider Owain Doull of Team Sky told reporters his left shoe was sliced clean through by a disc brake rotor in a crash. Doull sustained additional cuts he attributed to the sharp-edged disc brake rotor from the racing bicycle of sprinting sensation Marcel Kittel of the Quick-Stop Floors pro team. The two were involved in a crash near the race finish; a common occurrence in fast, bunch sprints.

Disc brakes on road bikes have been a new feature for three years. The jury is still out if they are better. This latest exhibit does not bode well for the future of disc brakes on road bikes, and it isn’t the first time.

Gregor Brown of Velo-News.com wrote this today following the Abu Dhabi incident:

“It was not the first time a rider has accused disc rotors of inflicting damage. At Paris-Roubaix in 2016, Movistar’s Fran Ventoso claimed that a large cut on his lower leg was caused by a disc rotor used by the Roompot team. That assertion has been disputed, but Ventoso stands behind the story.”

The sales pitch is often something like, “Everything is going to disc brakes!” and “Cars use disc brakes, discs work better in wet weather.” But there is a contrarian argument to be made that disc brakes are a feature without a benefit, or, at least, not a benefit commensurate to their attendant drawbacks.

In a balance sheet format, disc brakes look something like this:

Advantages:

Better wet weather stopping performance than caliper brakes. Greater tire clearance at fork and rear triangle facilitating wider tires on disc equipped bikes. More frequent use of structural thru-axle wheel design for better lateral stiffness. Removal of braking surface from wheel rim allows new rim shape designs.

Drawbacks:

Reliance on disc-brake specific wheels. Difficulty maintaining adjustment of brake calipers relative to wheel brake disc. Slower wheel changes compared to caliper brakes. Difficulty moving wheels from one bike to another due to tight tolerances. Heavier weight. More expensive. Fewer wheel options for disc brakes. New maintenance requirements, especially with hydraulic disk brakes.

So the question for consumers is, do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits? Another attendant question for consumers is, “Was there anything wrong with caliper brakes?”

In fairness, road calipers have had decades to evolve. Brake surfaces, rim profiles, brake calipers, brake levers, brake pad materials and brake cables for caliper brakes have been evolving ever since they were invented in the late 1920’s. That is a century of technological evolution in favor of calipers.

Conversely, disc brakes are new to road bikes compared to calipers, and the technology is not quite ready for prime time. If it were, the incidents with rider injuries, complexity surrounding wheel changes and maintenance wouldn’t exist.

During the past two decades when the bike industry introduced a few ideas that made it to market when they arguably were not mature we saw an increase in service and warranty related inquiries. These included, most notably, bottom brackets following the move to press-fit bottom bracket formats.

And the bike industry has a dismal record of owning its bad judgment unless compelled to do so via litigation, usually in the form of mandated recalls or personal injury lawsuits. Until those things happen the pedal is to the metal on selling new innovations with an often-subordinated regard for technical merit, let alone safety or integrity.

Solution: Do a Better Job of Selling What Already Works.

While the bike industry has done a great job of introducing “new” it has mired itself in an increasing number of sales narratives.

For every new innovation there needs to be a new sales case, new sales materials, new web assets, new sales and distribution channels and new marketing materials. It takes time and resources to develop those assets, and they cost money. It makes sales conversations longer on the floor of the bike shop on Saturday morning. It may not increase sales, but it makes it longer to complete sales. There is simply more to talk about.

An alternative solution exists in other industries where price maintenance, dealer cooperation and better marketing of existing products along with more judicious management of the supply chain has maintained product quality, profit margin and customer satisfaction.

Perhaps the best example of maintaining profit and demand for a static, non-evolving product is the diamond industry. Despite the rising supply of diamonds (there is actually a surplus) and the introduction of nearly indistinguishable synthetic diamonds, prices for diamonds have consistently risen. The diamond industry has created an emotional perception of worth although all other metrics suggest diamond prices should be falling.

The bicycle industry has not mastered any version of this perceived value equation. It is consistently undercutting price and negotiating a seasonal “surplus” of inventory that has conditioned consumers to buy previous model years at discounts. While some bike brands have reduced the emphasis on model years this has resulted in sometimes-stale offerings since the marketing narrative was not supported vigorously enough within the bike industry. They forget to sell. But they remember to invent new shiny things.

When the bike industry begins to focus on the job of selling rather than the novelty of making shiny new things then product quality will improve and profit margins will follow. And, most importantly, consumers will get a better, safer, more valid product instead of just the latest shiny thing.

By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

vice-admiral

We got him because no one else would take him.

Malcom the Cat was in a crowded foster home with dogs, cats, ferrets and rabbits. Food was competitive and the population changed frequently as new foster animals came in, and older ones were (hopefully) adopted.

The lady from the animal foster home told me, “He’s a… handful.”

The arrangement seemed somewhat odd. The lady would bring Malcom to us, we would not go to the animal foster home to meet him. She asked me, “If I bring him there and it seems like it may work out, are you willing to keep him then?”

I said “Yes”.

Malcom was big, even before he turned one. A large, sturdy male cat, tall and long with powerful limbs and a large head. He was bright white with unusual striped spots and a dark striped tail. And claws. Very, very big claws.

We took him.

I am the first to admit that it did not go well at first, and that I was concerned. Our other cat, MiMi, is a gentle and polite girl with soft fur, one eye (she lost the other to a snake bite in the Arizona desert next to an air force base before she was rescued) and kind disposition. She’s a lap cat.

Malcom was a competitive, territorial predator. A fighter.

One day, when the house was torn up, MiMi was hiding somewhere terrified and I was losing blood through another series of scratches on both arms, I sat down and spoke with Malcom.

“You know Sir,” I told him, “This is a cooperative home. Every cat has to get along here, do his share, and be a good cat.”

Malcom stared at me.

“I know you are a fine cat, you just need some time.”

Time went by. One day I picked Malcom up and he didn’t tear me apart. He started purring. One night I felt something heavy on my leg. He was in bed with me.

Soon after a little cat named Chester showed up outside our window. And Chester moved in. Now there were three.

viceadmiraladministers

The Vice-Admiral oversees the delivery of new equipment.

I sat them all down one morning, as well as you can do that with three cats (which isn’t very well). We laid some ground rules: every cat must get along with the other cats. Meals are in the morning and the evening. Everyone eats together, served in order, from their own bowl. Everyone gets up at the same time. Everyone is allowed to sleep where they want but no fighting over sleeping places. There were more rules.

The three cats listened, seemingly interested, likely indifferent as cats are.

Finally, I appointed Malcom as the de facto leader, largely because of his physical prominence, but also because of his experience in an animal foster home. Apparently he used his size, strength and razor-sharp talons to enforce a kind of martial law there. Hence, he became Vice-Admiral Malcom Fredrick Davis III. Named from a number of sources, the third in an honorable naval lineage of cats who rose to equal prominence and distinction from the crucible of adversity.

Today the Vice-Admiral, as he is formally known, presides over nearly every activity in the house. He is served first at breakfast and dinner, eats in the highest position and in matters of cat politics, is subordinate only in seniority to MiMi, who is several years his senior and hence the wiser.

It took time to understand Malcom. It took time for him to become comfortable with the rules and procedures of a house with three very different cat personalities and two people. But with guidance and compassion and patience he has become a very fine man, a leader of cats, and an example to all cats. That every cat can rise above a difficult past, learn to stop scratching, accept and show affection, behave in a gentlemanly manner and enjoy the many things that cats take amusement in.

It’s just matter of patience and understanding.

viceadmiralportrait

 

By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

president-elect-donald-trump

“Thank you America! Thank you!

Thank you for being a great country, a great people, a country made up of great people.

You know, we won this election based on many things, one of them is a slogan, and it’s a fabulous slogan, “Make America Great Again.” I say “we” won this election because we all did. Every one of us. There are no losers today. There are no losers in a free country when democracy grinds its often loud, often difficult way toward what it is we all desire, even though we propose to get there in different ways.

We argued and debated, checked and rechecked our system, and we learned that it is still a great system. It’s always been great. Today proves it’s great again. Our forefathers made this system great, and you’ve made it great again today.

This election proves what I’ve believed all along, America truly is great. The fact we’re standing here together, on this day, proves how truly great America is. It’s the reason I asked you two years ago to hire me for this job, one of the most important jobs in the entire world, and by far the most important and sacred job I’ve ever had the privilege of doing.

During this last administration Americans showed why we’re great. They rallied, they demonstrated, they debated on both sides and they worked through a difficult process to be heard. And you are heard. So here we are. Thank you for speaking up, and speaking out.

And I have one thing to tell you as we start out today, America: I hear you.

I hear you calling out from the factories and the assembly lines and the check-out counters. I hear you when you tell me that half of us can’t afford the basics even though the stock market nears all time highs. I hear you call out from both sides of the aisle, no matter where you live or how you live or what you earn. I hear you. And I’m listening.

I’ve heard that government is so bloated with its own rules and forms and regulations that it can’t push away from its own dinner table to answer the knock on the door of people who want the freedom and liberty to remain great, and the ability to be even greater.

I’ve heard that things like the Affordable Care Act are anything but affordable. I’ve heard that you can’t afford to take care of your aging parents even though you work three jobs and sixty hours a week. I hear that you can’t afford college for yourself or your kids so we can continue to be great. I’ve heard that you work so hard that you have no time to retrain for a new job in a changing economy. And I’ve heard one thing that bothers me the most, one thing that ultimately got me here today, I’ve heard, both here and outside our country, that America isn’t as great as it used to be. Well I don’t agree with that. Today proves we’re right.

And America, I’m listening. And I’ll keep listening.

You’ve hired me to do a job, and I’m honored to be the candidate chosen for that job, it’s the most important one I’ve ever had, and I’m humbled that we stand here today, together, ready to get to work. And along the way to getting here you’ve told me what you want done.

You’ve told me you don’t want a hand-out, that you want a way up. You’ve told me that Washington needs to lead, to follow or to get out of the way. We’re going to do some of all three, and in different ways than we’ve seen before.

I’ve heard that we face threats to the ideals and values that we hold dear. The things that are guaranteed to all women and men. These threats originate in places far, far away. We’ll meet those challenges with strength and resolve at every corner.

I know that the creeping cancer of terrorism threatens America. That cancer will never infect our country. I’ve already picked the strongest and most experienced team of people in history to lead our continuing fight against terrorism. And I have a message for those who choose violence and oppression over unity and liberty; Your evil ways are over.

And I know that you hired me not just to listen, but to deliver on the promise of an American dream that, during this past decade seemed, to many, like only a dream while we waited in endless lines and filled out endless forms for a hand-out or a fair chance when all we wanted was to get to work.

I hear you.

Today we do get to work. We work on forging an America better than ever before, built on the foundation of the greatest country on earth. Built by people from all over this world who have always wanted three precious things; a chance, a change and the freedom to prove there are no limits in the United States of America.

This won’t be easy, and in the long American workday we all won’t get everything we want as individuals. But America isn’t only about individuals. It’s about unity, community and our great national ‘whole’ being greater than the sum. That when we reach above our differences and find our common goals, our common aspirations, we can unite in the hard work to make our shared dreams into a reality better than ever before. And as Americans working together in these United States, we can accomplish anything.

I hear you America.

And now the world will hear the sound of an America made great once more. An America that rises up again and again and again, built upon a succession of yesterdays from our foundation and principles to a future of tomorrows greater than we can imagine. An America that will reach ideals and goals not yet dreamed of.

Think of our lives 30 years ago and how different they were then. Now try to imagine our lives 30 years from now in an age when the only constant is change and change happens so fast we sometimes feel we’re lost in a succession of ever-reinventing Americas that often seem strange, out of control.

But we are not lost. Our founders drew maps called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those great maps will take us to our destiny across any future, no matter how changing and unforeseeable. When we use our shared ideals as our national roadmap we can navigate any change with courage, ambition and grace.

And as we navigate this change together I pledge to always stay the course of freedom, liberty, the strength of the American people and the things that have always made us great.

America, I hear you, and it is a joyous chorus of voices rising up as one to tell of a tomorrow greater than any of us can imagine.

America, I hear you. Now join me in listening to the sound of our success! May God bless these United States of America!”

 

Speechwriter’s Notes: 

  1. This is written in the language and speaking patterns of President-elect Trump. It is the result of listening to his oration and creating a style that is natural and comfortable for him, using his favorite words. It also includes his penchant for repetition of themes, and restating them in different words during the same speech.
  2. His penchant for speaking in themes, “promises” and leaving specific commitments out of the delivery.
  3. There is a moderate “centering” of position in the post-election rhetoric as the President-elect transitions from a divisive election narrative to the mission of aligning a divided nation in the interest of progress and cooperation; the campaign divided us, the President-elect’s term must unite us in order to accomplish anything.
  4. The speech, as written, runs only seven minutes (07:00). Previous inauguration speeches, including Ronald Reagan’s first address, ran over 20 minutes and were more substantive. In keeping with President-elect Trump’s history of orating only on theme rather than specific substance, and the success it has brought his campaign. At the President-elect’s discretion, specific themes can be outlined into the script while care is taken to maintain the continuity of the theme.
  5. The intent is for media to colloquially refer to this as President-elect Trump’s “I Hear You” speech, a theme that will be revisited throughout his term.

 

By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com

President Obama during his speech at 2010 winter commencement held at Michigan Stadium on May 1st 2010. (SAM WOLSON/Daily)

Friday, January 20, 2017 is the final day President Barack Hussein Obama II will serve as President of the United States. He was President for 2,931 days.

Those were among the most significant days in my life.

The day President Obama was sworn in I owned a business grossing well over $1M. I earned an upper-middle class living. I owned a house in the city where I was born. I actively participated in local government, paid for a new car in cash and was on track with retirement savings for a person my age.

A year later I lost everything.

The full weight of the banking collapse, the global recession and the automotive meltdown settled on Dearborn, Michigan. The stock market plummeted to 6,000. People lost houses, businesses and livelihoods. I lost all those things and more. I had a stroke and lost part of my vision and needed heart surgery. I declared bankruptcy, packed a suitcase and moved to Tucson, Arizona in a modern day “Grapes of Wrath” migration to start a new life.

Now, 2,500 days later (give or take) I’m back. Detroit and Dearborn are back. I own part of a business again and write for four media outlets published around the world. Abandoned buildings and empty businesses on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn are gone. New ones are being built. Ford Motor Company is rebuilding its engineering center. Small businesses are going back into Dearborn. The stock market is flirting with a new record at 20,000.

Seven years later I have hope again.

It would be wrong to attribute America’s entire comeback to President Obama, and it would be equally inaccurate to blame all of America’s many remaining problems on him.

It is entirely accurate to acknowledge his steadfast adherence to his ideals. It is also accurate to credit him with a measure of unity and compassion that was much needed in America when he was elected.

When President Obama first took office our country was fractured and afraid. And while much of that feeling remains and even expanded during this last, divisive election year, President Obama presided over our national crisis with quiet strength, dignity and wisdom.

He inspired us to rise up, come out, speak up and get to work. If you believed in him, he inspired you to support his agenda. If you disagreed with him he inspired you to oppose his agenda with action and resolve. No matter your political orientation President Obama inspired us to action. He inspired us to hope we could be a part of the system, then he set an example that everyone can be a part of that system.

A consistent theme of President Obama’s time in office has been “Hope”. When he was elected he said;

Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!”

But hope is a hollow doctrine without action, and President Obama inspired us through his own action. In every policy that he believed in, in every doctrine that he supported, he was tireless, resourceful and relentless. I did not agree with all of his initiatives, but I remain inspired by his endurance, tenacity and grace in driving them.

Understand that President Obama stood for two things: his political agenda- that you may or may not have agreed with- and most importantly, the strength of hope. Not hope only for our own agendas and politics, but hope for every single American, regardless of politics, race, religion, orientation or aspiration.

That hope has carried us, sometimes in the absence of anything else.