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It is a cut and paste [url=http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/magazine/24labor

if a 'hipster' rides his motorcycle every day- regardless of what tyres and air filter he has, is more of a motorcyclist than the guy who spends 5 years building a bike with k&n filters and the rest of it and doesn't ride it - which is a lot of the 'real' café crowd that I have talked to
 

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if a 'hipster' rides his motorcycle every day- regardless of what tyres and air filter he has, is more of a motorcyclist than the guy who spends 5 years building a bike with k&n filters and the rest of it and doesn't ride it - which is a lot of the 'real' café crowd that I have talked to
The thing is if the hipster rides the bike everyday he soon will work out that those cool looking tyres are actually fucking dangerous and the crappy pods make the bike run like complete shit. Over time, he becomes one of the 'real cafe crowd' as you call them.

Unless of course he is happy to ride a shitty bike every day.
 

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Really? This really hits home for me. It's really perspective if anything not overstating anything, or maybe you don't have the credentials to know what he's talking about.
What about it is so appealing to you specifically? What resonates the most?
 

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The thing is if the hipster rides the bike everyday he soon will work out that those cool looking tyres are actually fucking dangerous and the crappy pods make the bike run like complete shit. Over time, he becomes one of the 'real cafe crowd' as you call them.

Unless of course he is happy to ride a shitty bike every day.
Many people don't know any better, as they have very little or no previous experience with "better" bikes. So, they are indeed happy with relatively poor-performing bikes that are not to many other people's liking styling-wise. Combine that with many of those former people's actual riding requirements (around town, quick highway jaunts cross-town, etc), and they may never NEED anything better /safer/different.

"Live, and let live"
 

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Many people don't know any better, as they have very little or no previous experience with "better" bikes. So, they are indeed happy with relatively poor-performing bikes that are not to many other people's liking styling-wise. Combine that with many of those former people's actual riding requirements (around town, quick highway jaunts cross-town, etc), and they may never NEED anything better /safer/different.

"Live, and let live"
the thing about that is...well most people get bored with mediocrity pretty quickly, so a lot of them exit the hobby because they either a) think they have gone as far as they are going to go because they don't know any better, or b) realize that what they have is terrible and what they want looks wise will always be terrible and don't aspire to something that works well but looks different. Thus they cut a swath through the cache of available used bikes hacking and slashing and making all the stock unmolested ones more valuable. This isn't a new phenomenon, think about all the crappy brit choppers that were around when nobody really wanted brit bikes.
 

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Since this is the type of discussions I like and since nobody asked me anyway and this is an opportunity to write a soyboysigh lenght post of pontification....buckle up for a whole sack full of opinion you didn't even know you didn't want.

So the original OP-Ed piece is from 2009 and was written by Matt Crawford when he was promoting his book shop class as soulcraft. Matt is an extremely intelligent person and an excellent writer so it is often difficult to seperate when he is making a legitimate fact based point and really just pontificating out of his ass. These are all traits I feel like I share with him and I imagine that he and I would get along if we ever met (but I am probably wrong on that). Anyway, I think he gets some things right and some things wrong...and here is my opinion on it:

Things he gets right:

Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? Where the chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive.
This seems to be a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. A car mechanics’ trade association reports that repair shops have seen their business jump significantly in the current recession: people aren’t buying new cars; they are fixing the ones they have. The current downturn is likely to pass eventually. But there are also systemic changes in the economy, arising from information technology, that have the surprising effect of making the manual trades – plumbing, electrical work, car repair – more attractive as careers. The Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labor market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihoods more secure against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it, “You can’t hammer a nail over the Internet.” Nor can the Indians fix your car. Because they are in India.

And here is what I think he gets wrong (or over generalizes):

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.
When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail. Such sacrifice does indeed occur – the hazards faced by a lineman restoring power during a storm come to mind. But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it? I take this to be the suggestion of Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use,” which concludes with the lines “the pitcher longs for water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” Beneath our gratitude for the lineman may rest envy.
There are people in this world, true masters of their craft, who are literally tortured by the craft they labor under. They are often the finest wood workers, engineers, architects, masters of their crafts, for whom each project is doomed to fail because of some flaw they can see but others cannot (or do not see as a negative). They live a life of dissatisfaction and carry the yoke of their labors as a constant burden when obvious and well deserved praise is heaped upon them. Conversely I know many in the "surreal" professions who are content with the work and for whom it is not surreal. People who think happiness, or serenity, or even inner peace can be achieved through any manual labor or "useful Art" because it is real are falling for a fallacy - it is not the type of the work, physical vs non physical that is attractive. It is the result. People like to know that what they do matters to others, and with something you fix with your hands it is something that is much easier to believe because you restore usefulness to an object which is presumed to only have a benefit. People in large corporations are robbed of this because of the nature of large corporations so they have to create awards and praise and other forms of recognition for them to feel useful and let's just say that much like this artificial praise astroturf will never feel like real grass but that doesn't mean it doesn't do the job.

There is a lot of division right now between the people who work with their hands and the people who work with their minds. Ostensibly people work with both, but neither side wants to see it that way with the office crowd clinging to the "work smarter not harder" mantra, while the laborers attach them on the grounds of intellectual elitism. In reality both are of the same socioeconomic level in the world but this fight has become the new primary method of division of the masses to keep them fighting each other rather than working against the top 1% wealthiest of the country. Again this is an old tactic - if the politicians have warring tribes they always have a job as advocate of constituents who feel a certain way.

When I first read Matt's book, I agreed with this premise that educators were the motivators for the shift to knowledge workers. I mean I had lived it and watched first hand as my school shop programs closed one after the other. But over time I have read more and learned more and I hate to say it he is wrong and the reasons are mostly political. Now I get why Matt wouldn't want to write a political message into his book at the cost of disenfranchising a large groups of his readers, but still...I think it is more than a little dishonest, and sells our political system short, if we just push the blame on the educational system. So let's discuss.

(forgive me if this gets a little political)

The ugly facts are Republican politicians don't support federal spending in education. This isn't a political statement, it's a fact that the conservative platform has not backed educational spending since the 1960's and continues to do so today. Nixon, Reagan, Ford, and both Bushes all either cut spending or fought against any increase. The last conservative politician to increase funding for education was Eisenhower. He did it because he wanted to make sure America had an educated workforce for the upcoming space race. Buoyed by Kennedy and Johnson, Eisenhower poured buckets of money into math and sciences and put into motion the greatest period of technological advancement that this country had ever seen, and he unequivocally proved that quality of education improves the more you spend on it.

This is the origin of a lot of the vocational training programs we saw in the 1950s-1990s, because they were gateways to the physics and engineering disciplines, even if the recipient never made it past fixing cars because of their life choices. The down side is that you end up pumping more qualified people into the market place which increases competition for jobs and drives wages down. All the Tech programs were expensive to run as well, much more expensive than things like typing or communications or other knowledge based electives. When Reagan came into power in the 1980's he made massive cuts in educational spending, amounts which are still missing even today. Additionally there was a glut of people looking for science and technical jobs (not IT, but old school tech) but there was this new technology that needed people to operate it: computers. Without funding the vocational programs slowly closed and/or consolidated, but since the "knowledge programs" were cheaper to run and delivered a value to the student to the job market, a lot of educators made the decision to shift the focus that direction.

The lessons that we learned from all of this (or didn't because the people currently in power cry about poor education in America but refuse to spend on it) is that if you put money into education you have to put it in to all types of education so as to avoid artificially pumping up one side of the job market to the detriment of the others. Also people always complain that they never see the long tangible benefit of politics concerning education because it happens over a long period of time, but I feel like they just aren't looking hard enough. Finally, federal spending overcomes some of the barriers the poor or disadvantaged have with access to quality. Without federal funding, the neighborhood taxes pay for the local education and suddenly the quality of education in rich neighborhoods gets better than the education in poor neighborhoods.

TL;DR: working with your hands does not make you better or worse than a person working in an office, you do not feel better about your job because of it, but instead feel better seeing the fruit of your labor and working for yourself instead of someone else.
 

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exactly what I was thinking...

The pipeburn/bikeexif cafe racers are/were a fad. It is fading
it is, but it won't go away. The hobby has been changed by it and with the new age of tech there will always be new blood "discovering" it a new because let's face it - motorcycles are cool always.
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
Maybe the notion that people who work with their hands are undervalued, or viewed as low class citizens is magnified by my personal experiences, culture, or location.

Maybe the sense of injustice is mangified by my own personal need to justify my life choices, and/or alleviate the question of what ifs.

Then again I am not someone who has poured or dedicated decades of my life to manual labor, or motorcycles. I am more at a crossroads and still figuring out my path. It's the journey that's fun for me anyway not the destination.

There are some interesting perspectives here...
 

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Can't speak to the educational system down there, but up here I think it's fucked up from K to 12. From my personal experience it seemed like really good teachers were few and far between. I don't really have the desire to go into great detail, but the system, as it is doesn't attract the brightest. The unions protect the boneheads, and seniority outweighs ability. I know good ones are out there. A good friend is a Principal and he is one of the people I admire the most in life. For things like the programs he has developed to keep the underprivileged in school and his fights to have positions filled by the most qualified.
One thing that has stuck with me, was a conversation with a Japanese Engineer from Hamamatsu who was involved in designing motorcycles. A lot of folk would think that he was at the pinnacle of the working world. What he really wanted to do was teach high school math. Granted its a little different there.... teachers are held in high regard... right up there with MDs.
 

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Maybe the notion that people who work with their hands are undervalued, or viewed as low class citizens is magnified by my personal experiences, culture, or location.
Completely fair, and it is cultural. Some people look down on others because of education and how they present themselves while others look down on the poor, and manual labor (and I mean that in just using your hands, not as a pejorative), tends to attract a lot of those people. It doesn't make them dirt bags or anything, lord knows there are plenty of dirt bags in suits, but the sad fact is perception is reality to a lot of people, and it's easy to perceive that a lot of plumbers, or mechanics, or electricians have 8th grade educations, blow their nose in your hand towels, and hit on your 14 year old daughter while fixing the furnace once you have met a couple of them like that.

For a long time the market for skilled labor was flooded so in a sense it was undervalued because wages were driven down by the competition for the jobs. Now mid-level office worker and skilled laborers make the same amount, and both feel undervalued. Often the office worker is carrying more debt too though student loans. Each thinks low of the other, and thus the working class does not gang up on the power class. Everyone is looking for their own significance, sometimes that comes at the cost of making others feel less significant.


Maybe the sense of injustice is mangified by my own personal need to justify my life choices, and/or alleviate the question of what ifs.
injustice?

People who strike it out on their own defy the grain. The reward is a greater life experience and the full range of emotion, but often at the cost of stability. You are always going to be conflicted by the choices you make, esp when those choices go against the grain. embrace it, the only justification is happiness, but that never feels like enough, does it?

Then again I am not someone who has poured or dedicated decades of my life to manual labor, or motorcycles. I am more at a crossroads and still figuring out my path. It's the journey that's fun for me anyway not the destination.
keep an open mind and above all else to thine own self be true

Geeto have you owned a storage unit with like 6 bikes in it in queens somewhere I think it was Astoria
For a long time I worked out of a century old carrage house in Flushing Queens. Sadly it is all gone now and I am mouldering in the midwest. Have we met?
 

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I'll admit to jumping from page one to page four wihtout reading much of anything... but when that book came out someone gave it to me for a couple of reasons I won't get into. Sufice it to say it sounded like something I'd like. I didn't. It read like a college thesis and I had enough of that shit in college. The ideas interest me but the presentation made me want to do anything else but read it.

It's still around here somewhere I think.
 

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Flip seems to be another one of those frikkin' pseudo intellectuals who have no idea what they are talking about and think they are smarter than the average bear, but in reality are not. Ask a sociologist or psychologist or anyone that understands human behavior to explain changes in perception of manual labor. The rest of us who work at desks and enjoy working on motorcycles understand the attraction of working with our hands and the satisfaction it can bring from doing something physical where we can see and feel the results, where the senses are involved.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Flip seems to be another one of those frikkin' pseudo intellectuals who have no idea what they are talking about and think they are smarter than the average bear, but in reality are not. Ask a sociologist or psychologist or anyone that understands human behavior to explain changes in perception of manual labor. The rest of us who work at desks and enjoy working on motorcycles understand the attraction of working with our hands and the satisfaction it can bring from doing something physical where we can see and feel the results, where the senses are involved.
Damn bitch relax
 

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As to people getting bored of mediocrity, don't bet on it.

Perhaps there is a niche class of riders who are perfectly happy with mediocrity in a motorcycle, as a means of cheap transport, yet still have a certain 'je ne se quois' that leads them to customize thier mundane bike to a certain degree and leave it like that till they finally move on, sometimes YEARS and many miles down the road.

Certainly not hard to imagine...
 

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Damn bitch relax
And that is your considered response. Seriously. All you can muster is a lame relax bitch put down? Not quite the intellect you were trying to pretend that you are. in the words of Emperor Trump, "sad, really really sad".

I am still unsure why you are here. To flatter your own inflated ego perhaps? To try to impress anyone here with you startling wit and sales skills? Maybe just big into self delusion and a little short on self awareness?
 

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As to people getting bored of mediocrity, don't bet on it.

Perhaps there is a niche class of riders who are perfectly happy with mediocrity in a motorcycle, as a means of cheap transport, yet still have a certain 'je ne se quois' that leads them to customize thier mundane bike to a certain degree and leave it like that till they finally move on, sometimes YEARS and many miles down the road.

Certainly not hard to imagine...
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