Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For the good of American civilization

Geoffrey left me a comment below the last post about Tommasini bikes. Tommasinis are hand-crafted Italian bikes, that have now set up distribution in the U.S. I guess the love of cycling runs in the Tommasini blood (this is also my surname). I would L.O.V.E. one of those bikes, maybe I should do some research and see if there's a family connection in the not so distant past, maybe they'll give me a free frame!

I'm still doing some background reading to prepare me for three articles on active transportation, and my plan is that the first article will be a "how did we get into this mess?" story about why North America adopted the automobile to the extent that it did.

Part of the answer, apparently, is that people in the 1920's were just freaking insane. Listen to this, from The Automobile Age by James Flink:

Family togetherness was a major benefit anticipated by early proponents of automobility. Next to the church there is no factor in American life that does so much for the morals of the public as does the automobile, E.C. Stokes, a former governor of New Jersey and the president of a Trenton bank, claimed in 1921. Any device that brings the family together as a unit in their pursuit of pleasure is a promoter of good morals and yields a beneficent influence that makes for the good of American civilization. If every family in the land possessed an automobile, family ties would be closer and many of the problems of social unrest would be happily resolved… The automobile is one of the country’s best ministers and best preachers.

Errrr.... so, if Jesus (or Buddha etc, take your pick), were alive in the 1920's, he'd have been an automobile?

The Automobile Age also mentions another book, which seems a bit more in line with my thinking. In the late 1950's, someone named John Keats wrote a text titled The Insolent Chariot. A critique of the American automobile industry, the book was summarized in the New York Times as portraying contemporary American cars as “overblown, overpriced monstrosities built by oafs for thieves to sell to mental defectives."

Check out Ethicle.
I don't know why there isn't more hype about this, but this version of the Google search engine allows you to do searches which contribute a penny per search to organizations like Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Amnesty International, and a few others as well.

1 comment:

klompengirl said...


(what more is there to say?)