Thursday, May 31, 2012


Spring has sprung along Old Kings Highway and with it the annual infestation by pesky invasive species such as winter-moth caterpillars and straight-pipe motorcyclists.

Is there anything less conducive to our enjoyment of the peace and quiet of a beautiful Cape Cod Sunday than the earsplitting racket of illegally modified bikes ridden by otherwise law-abiding citizens who somehow morph into Sons of Anarchy wannabes on weekends?

Safety issues aside, no reasonable person seriously objects to recreational bikers cruising on machines with regulatory-compliant mufflers, whereas ripping out baffles or otherwise modifying exhaust systems in order to achieve a gratifyingly loud staccato roar is heedlessly self-indulgent. The manager of a Boston Harley dealership has estimated that up to 70% of the bikes he sells are subsequently so modified.

Assertions by adherents of loud pipes that such noise protects their all-too-vulnerable vehicles from being unheard and thereby overrun in traffic, appear to be anecdotal-only and are not supported by independent research.

Surely, 6A abutters are not the only Commonwealth community afflicted by this problem, one which could so readily be ameliorated by more assiduous law enforcement.

Well aware that excessive noise creates PR problems for the sport, the 232,000-member American Motorcyclist Association recommends that:
  • All motorcyclists should be sensitive to community standards and respect the rights of fellow     citizens to enjoy a peaceful environment.
  • Motorcyclists should not modify exhaust systems in a way that will increase sound to an offensive level.
  • Organizers of motorcycle events should take steps through advertising, peer pressure and enforcement to make excessively loud motorcycles unwelcome.
  • Motorcycle retailers should discourage the installation and use of excessively loud replacement exhaust systems.
  • The motorcycle industry, including aftermarket suppliers of replacement exhaust systems, should adopt responsible product design and marketing policies aimed at limiting the cumulative impact of excessive motorcycle noise.
  • Manufacturers producing motorcycles to appropriate federal standards should continue to educate their dealers and customers that louder exhaust systems do not necessarily improve the performance of a motorcycle.
  • Law enforcement agencies should fairly and consistently enforce appropriate laws and ordinances against excessive vehicle noise.

To all of which this writer appends a loud Amen.

Note: This post was originally published as an op-ed item in the Cape Cod Times

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Writer, Know Thyself

Many of those who endeavor to bend the written word to their will can seem an odd lot; witness Roger Rosenblatt’s essay in the May 13 issue of The New York Times Book Review.

The reason for such eccentricity may well be that -- as someone whose name I wish I could remember noted recently -- “there’s no overestimating the self-absorption of a writer.”

Rosenblatt is a fiction writer, the literary category most readily evoked in people’s minds when they hear someone referred to as a writer. And, when one thinks about it historically, most of the authors’ names that pop into your head in connection with the phrase “odd lot” are -- almost to a man/woman -- fiction writers (or poets).

We bloggers, essayists, and even writers of learned tomes are rarely so tagged, even though perhaps equally deserving.

But all writers have to recognize themselves in the following anecdote from Rosenblatt’s essay:

“One morning at breakfast, when she was in the first or second grade, E. L. Doctorow’s daughter, Caroline, asked her father to write a note explaining her absence from school, due to a cold, the previous day. Doctorow began, “My daughter, Caroline. . . . ” He stopped. “Of course she’s my daughter,” he said to himself. “Who else would be writing a note for her?” He began again. “Please excuse Caroline Doctorow. . . . ” He stopped again. “Why do I have to beg and plead for her?” he said. “She had a virus. She didn’t commit a crime!” On he went, note after failed note, until a pile of crumpled pages lay at his feet. Finally, his wife, Helen, said, “I can’t take this anymore,” penned a perfect note and sent Caroline off to school. Doctorow concluded: “Writing is very difficult, especially in the short form.”

Any writer –- actual or aspiring –- who wouldn’t have had an equal or greater pile of crumpled pages at his feet under similar circumstances is unsuited to the calling and had best seek another line of work.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dr. Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, Ed.D

One Shaquille O’Neal equals ten Federal Departments of Education in promoting the ethos of education to the kids who’ll benefit the most and who’ll most benefit the country.

Is there any other zillionaire who provides a better example to the youth of America and who more deserves every dime of the riches he has earned and which our system has allowed him to amass?

Go Shaq!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reports of Newspapers’ Death Greatly Exaggerated

Your correspondent was buoyed today to learn that his aversion to reading newspapers online rather than in print does not necessarily assign him to the Geezer demographic category.

Rasmussen Reports has published a new study that reveals –- among other things –- that two-thirds of those polled prefer to read the print version of their favorite newspaper rather than the digital edition.

I, for one, find that even a terrifically sophisticated and graphically appealing digital presentation like that of The New York Times simply does not deliver the psychic satisfaction of leafing through the print edition. I have also read previously that, faced with a more than one-page digital document, most people don’t bother going to the succeeding page(s). William Powers was certainly correct when he wrote (in Harvard’s Hamlet’s Blackberry Discussion Paper ) that “There are cognitive, cultural and social dimensions that come into play every time any kind of paper, from a tiny Post-it note to a groaning Sunday newspaper, is used to convey, retrieve or store information.”

Further heartening news comes from the Audit Bureau of Circulation which tells us that newspaper circulation is up in the past six months compared to the same period a year ago. Circulation of course includes digital as well as print, but it begins to look as though the newspaper-publishing industry may have finally begun to figure out the new economic model required to survive and thrive in the digital age.