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Tuesday 5 July 2011

Day 57 - Huckabee, Palestine and Racism

Todays mileage: 88
Total mileage: 2,761
End point: Lake Village, AR

Oh dear me, such a blog title cannot be good. Those of a nervous political disposition, zionists and supporters of Likud should probably stop reading right here. Pam tells me it looks like I am drinking lots on this blog, so with that in mind I have cracked up a coors light in her honour to write this blog. So I have been in Arkansas nearly a week and it nearly escaped my attention that Mike Huckabee was Governor here, my friends in Little Rock managed to escape a good questioning on him. The only reason I remembered was because the park I camped in last night had a nature reserve named after him. I thought in general such namings occured after their death; in fact Westminster in London just bypassed their own '10 years after death rule' to allow the construction of a Reagan Statue near Grovesnor Square. Whilst we are on the subject of Grovesnor Square those of you interested in UK-US relations will be interested to know the US embassy is moving from there to south of the river. This can only be good news, the building is historical but lacks the facilities to manage 21st century security as anyone who has queued (waited in line) all day for a visa will testify..

So back to Huckabee, I actually quite like him - shock, horror! I watched an interview between him and Bill Maher (one of my all time favourite amerricans) and I find him, as a social conservative quite non-judgemental and a geniunely nice person. My opinion dropped slightly after his pro-Israeli rant, but I kept my real anger for Benjamin Netanyahu after his spech to congress:
'American has no closer friend than Israel'
Yes Bibi - I'd hope after $15bn a year of aid and arms you were bloody close friends..
'Israel is the only democracy in the middle east'
..err... actually palestine is a democracy, its just the west doesn't like who they vote in to power..
This all sounds rather anti-semitic, but it isn't, I love Israel its a great country and we all know the palestians have committed some terrible acts, for example the Ramallah Lynchings. For me however its a numbers game, for every israeli civilian that has died, nearly 5 palestians have died:
You'd think from Bibi's speech it was the other way round. Let's hope they find peace soon.

Right you probably want to know about riding. Well today I got up at 6am and was on the road by 7am for a long day ahead, I wanted to put on some serious miles. I got back on my junk food crystal meth - mcdonalds breakfast which ensures a good start. After yesterday I have decided to ride with my rear blinkey light on all the time, and I must say I am fairly sure it is making a difference. Cars seem to be pulling out much earlier to pass. This might a placebo effect, but I am fairly sure it isn't. The flashing lights obviously give drivers that little wake up call they need. I'm going to keep it on and just throw batteries at it. Today it was all about one road, 65 south, and its been a fairly good road I must say.

My first interesting experience of the day happened in Gould, which I think is around 30 miles south of Pine Bluff. I'd stopped at a gas station to refill with water, and whilst roaming at the back of the store an older man had approached me. He took me to one side and said: 'you need to get out of this town, its filled with thugs, they won't understand you'
Well I could take this in two different ways:
1. There are lots of blacks in this town - watch the hell out..
2. This is an impoverished area where the incentive to commit crime is much higher
I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was 30% no1. and 70% no2.
I think the route of the problem in the south is that quite a few poor black people do commit crime, but a lot of black people (like Obama..;) live very noble lives. The problem is referring to the nastier echelons without being racist, or inferring racism - this in my opinion has not yet been solved for the people of the deep south (I just call them criminals regardless of colour). I try to be very aware of my own racism and stereotyping, we all do it. The one area I find particularly hard is personal safety, especially when cycling around solo in unchartered neighbourhoods. No one is a criminal because of their skin colour, but statistical blacks are more likely to commit crimes - which is why personal safety makes this a hard issue. I've never been scared of a blackman in a suit, but add some gang tatoos, hang down pants and a shady looking car then it becomes more difficult. Suffice to say I haven't been scared today and I'm going to try not to be scared tomorrow. The worst that can happen is a mugging, unless you are in downtown Sarasota at 2 in the morning... and I am still going to think 100% no2. And 0% no1...

Blimey this is deep. So I continued to head south an saw what was nearly worthy of a military flight display. A small plane whizzing overhead spraying crops. The angle I  approached from made it look like everytime he was heading towards the field he was about to crash into the road. He was flying seriously low, maybe a couple of hundred feet. Must be quite an interesting job, I wondered how much they got paid! He zoomed off to some fields further away.

Another odd spotting today was a great sign telling drivers not to pick up hitch hikers because there is a gaol nearby - what the hell? How often are prisoners escaping from this place? What would I do if my wheel bust right now?? Mind due surely my outfit plus bike would be an excellent disguise which even the most resourceful mafia boss would struggle to smuggle into prison. According to the lady at the campground there is around one breakout a year. She was a very helpful lady as it turns out, I was considering a dip in the lake, one word; 'alligator' put an immediate stop to such an idea.

I was going to talk more, and have a little discussion over ACE - or Arkansas communit of excellence, but its dark I am getting bitten by bugs and I want to cover more miles tomorrow. Hopefully I will leave arkansas tomorrow and tick off another state. The end isn't insight yet but its is over the brow of a few more hills :)

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