February 22nd, 2004


Bicycles key to Vietnamese victory


•1950-1975, Vietnamese War: The Viet Minh used bicycle porters against the French during the early 1950s, and in 1954, they laid siege to and captured the huge base French base at Dien Bien Phu using supplies brought in almost entirely by bicycle. Ironically, the primary bicycle they used was a North Vietnamese-produced version of a French Peugeot bicycle. Although some trucks were used, it was primarily 200,000 bicycles that kept the 50,000 Vietnamese troops supplied.

When loaded, the bicycles were generally pushed rather than ridden. A bamboo pole was tied across the handlebars to provide a tiller, and the bike would be piled with up to 500 pounds of supplies. With one hand on the tiller, and one hand on the seat, the bike would be pushed by porters hundreds of miles down hidden jungle trails to supply insurgent troops. When emptied, the porter could ride it back for another load. Although not terribly fast, the bikes were inexpensive, quiet, easily hidden, and nearly invisible from the air.

When the French left, and the country was partitioned, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese began fighting the South Vietnamese and the Americans, and bicycle porters were again put to use by the insurgents. Even with massive American air power, the allies were unable to stop the flow of supplies bicycled to the south on the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail. A think tank in the US suggested that US commandos on bicycles working with South Vietnamese troops were the only way to stop the flow of materials, but the idea was dismissed by the Pentagon. One American officer ruefully commented that what they needed was a "bicycle bomb."

In fact, in another sense, the Viet Cong used bicycle bombs to spread terror. Explosives were put in the frame tubes. Detonating devices were usually put in lights or under the saddle. The bike would be left by a selected target and set off by a timer, or be booby-trapped to explode when moved. By 1975, the American military had left Vietnam so the bicycle had again played a major role in attaining battlefield success.

Mal Veale Cargo Bike


Three Wheels on My Wagon

Four years ago, Mal Veale had a revelation. Mal is a full time self-employed builder and joiner, and part time designer, eco-artisan and human powered vehicle factory.

"I had a three ton van, and I realised most of the time I was using it to carry about 100kg of stuff," Mal recalls. This set him thinking. For a man with a clutch of sheds and garages, several deconstructed bicycles and a pair of welders goggles, the outcome was inevitable: the Vealemobile.

Mal, in fact, doesn't go in for fancy names. He calls it the general purpose load carrying or haulage vehicle. But as he puts the finishing touches to the fourth prototype, following product testing in York, he knows a catchier name for his extraordinary tricycle will one day be necessary. For the moment the Vealemobile, as it's known by several of its admirers, will have to suffice.

Mal's first trip on VM1 in 1997 was spectacular, if not exactly propitious. He fell off as the tricycle span out of control after he'd finished work early one morning. "I hadn't ridden a tricycle since I was
about seven, so I should have expected it really," he says.

The machine was soon up and running again, with redesigned seating arrangements (a hammock), and before long, Mal was using VM1 for most of his load carrying chores. The tricycle carries timber, doors, gates, sand and cement, or after work, a week's shopping or a handful of friends.

"It can actually carry 150kg of stuff up a one in ten gradient, and in terms of size it will take things up to two metres long and one and half metre across," says Mal. For example, a settee, he adds. Or a single bed. Or two or three fridges.

Collapse )

Tidal Force electric bicycle

Tidal Force electric bicycle

• Maximum speed: 30 mph (48 km/h)
• Range: 20 miles (32 km)
• Weight (with front hub battery): 64 lbs (30 kg)
• Gross payload: 350 lbs (160 kg)

• Strong, light, compact folding frame with quick-release features.
• Suspension front fork, 26” pneumatic tires, linear pull brakes.
• Rider can add power with pedals or propel vehicle on human
   power alone using 21 derailleur gears.
• Turbo switch on handlebars.

• 1,000-watt WaveCrest Adaptive Motor system provides extraordinary
   power for faster acceleration and aggressive hill climbing.
• Unique WaveCrest DSP controller delivers high torque across all speeds.

• Front hub battery: 36V NiMH
• Charging time: 3-6 hours

Windstream Bike Power system

If you are a cyclist, you know the value of winter training. But do you know the value of your exertion? Your energy is being turned into heat by your trainer. Recapture your energy! The Bike Power generator is the answer for making more power, faster. Attach your bicycle using our tool-free stand and start generating. Pedal to charge 12 volt batteries and run small appliances. Incorporate it into your existing 12 or 24 volt system or simply plug your 120 volt appliance into the Portable Power Pack outlet and start pedaling.

Collapse )

Arizona moves to effectively ban cryonics

If you ever think that you might want to be cryopreserved, you should know that the legality of cryonics is under serious legal attack.

Representative Bob Stump (R) has introduced legislation into the Arizona House of Representatives (HB 2637) that cryonics be regulated under the Funeral and Embalmer's Board and that Alcor's use of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) be stripped.

If passed, HB 2637 would require Alcor hire only licensed embalmers or their apprentices to carry out procedures. Cryonics requires a very different kind and level of expertise than embalming (see below for details) and such a requirement would seriously hamper Alcor's ability to provide proper care. Also, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act currently governs Alcor's legal right to accept patient's bodies for long term research. Stripping Alcor of that right would throw Alcor's patients into legal limbo. Finally, the Arizona Funeral Board Director Rudy Thomas is openly hostile to cryonics companies and Alcor could expect to receive ongoing harassment. Thomas is quoted by author Richard Sandomir as saying, "These companies need to be regulated or deregulated out of business." (New York Times, 14 Oct 2003).

The members of the House Health Committee are scheduled to hear this legislation on Thursday, February 26, 2004 at 9:00 am, so if you plan to be cryopreserved, or even if you simply believe that people should be free to decide what should be done with their own bodies, please contact the committee members immediately and express your opposition to HB 2637. Your efforts can make a difference--as noted below, most of the co-sponsors of the bill don't know that much about it, and signed on as a favor to Stump. If they hear significant opposition to it, they're likely to vote against it.

More detail and contact information is included below.

Collapse )