Opting Out.

Once a month for the last nine or so months, PayPal would remove $2.99 from my bank account, take their cut, and deposit the rest into Seth Davidson's account. This was my subscription to help support his excellent cycling blog, Cycling in the South Bay. Not a big chunk of change by anyone's standards, but subscribing was my way of saying "keep doing whatever it is you do". Like anything that you can access for free, the vast majority of readers probably didn't subscribe, but I thought the token gesture was warranted by the content. I enjoy reading cycling blogs that focus on road racing, and there aren't a whole lot of them out there. Of those that exist, Seth's is a cut above in terms of writing quality.
 
I cancelled my subscription Friday.
 
A group of mountain bike riders had their bikes confiscated after they were caught riding on Camp Pendleton. Here's the post that led me to cancel my subscription. Instead of detailing the conflict and the land use issues it raises, he chose to use the occasion as an opportunity to vent about the military and particularly the idiots that fill the enlisted ranks, myself included (at least, that was my knee-jerk reaction). It's his opinion, and I fully support and defend his right to express it, but I don't feel the need to subsidize it anymore.
 
As I told Seth, I tend to frequent news sources and other media with positions I don't agree with (as long as they're coherent), simply to hear the other side of the argument. I believe healthy, reasoned debate is crucial to a functioning society. So, I'll still read his blog, but, like 99% of his readers, I won't pay to support it. The $2.99 won't be donated to build Donald Trump's wall (I've heard Mexico is paying for that). It will probably be spent on tubes or other consumables at the local bike store. I'm not usually the voluntarily contributing type, so it's more in character for me to spend the money on myself than others. I fully embrace my selfish nature. 
 
The Arctic Bike Club and other organizations in the Anchorage area hold events on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on a regular basis. I've been involved with the coordination of a few of these events, and it's usually a relatively straightforward process to gain access to the military installation. You put in the request, various agencies review it to ensure there are no conflicts with military use or safety concerns, and the request is either approved or denied. It's land set aside for military use, so that takes priority over all else. Sure, you may have to sweet-talk this organization or that civilian manager to grease the wheels, but they generally see these events as a net positive. There's no great conspiracy keeping citizens away from public land, just a bunch of normal humans trying to balance various priorities in a way that conforms with existing laws and policies. Pre-9/11 it wasn't that way, and base access was easy, but for various reasons we don't live in that world anymore.
 
Hopefully this decision doesn't drive Seth into bankruptcy, because he is more often than not a positive force for road racing (if somewhat cranky and more than a little sarcastic) in his region and beyond. Even if I'm not supporting his lavish lifestyle anymore, I'll still be reading along, alternating between laughter and uncontrolled profanity as the mood strikes.

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