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Unread December 12th, 2004, 08:44 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Evo-Devo: Isetta by a Harley

Evo-Devo: Isetta by a Harley

Kennedy was next to be President when I knew a slender sweet girl with blond hair and huge eyes. We, both Army brats, attended high schools overseas and met while coming home on a ship. I would remember her better if we had not been so well-chaperoned for ten days; we sometimes talk now after a 40 year separation during which I married science; she chose an Isetta pilot.

An Isetta would make the upper third of a Mini Cooper that lost a gene somewhere. There are two wheels in front and one in the rear, a bubble for exactly one stout lady or a pair of trim ones with two modest purses. You will get really warm in the daytime. There's some protection from rain, the illusion of heat after dark, and a promise of stability unless you corner while backing up. You can see a lot and be seen to the same extent. Catch a scratch and cause a traffic jam.

Good sense declares the Isetta to be a natural end state for the motorcycle. That is, cycles appear both to repeat human evolution and to reverse it. Modern windscreens, heated handle bars, and cell phones make them ecological bubbles, extended phenotypes of their rider. On the other hand, the rider apes a large insect with an exoskeleton of helmet, high boots with steel reinforcement, and armored, electric leather suit. And, like a fruitfly, he has suradded features that include toothbrush, deodorant, and underwear...all relatively clean if used and available for sharing. Also a box of bandaids, tourniquets, and, if an early Harley, several wrenches, a can of oil, air gauge, and dry spark plugs.*

Good sense, however, is wrong. The Isetta allows us to sit with a book, radio, and friend in a cushioned nest between branches; the bike helps us to run across a savanna and lift into the wind when we lose gravity at the top of a hill. The brainstem that we share not only with chimps but also with birds will not allow a third wheel or a roof on the cycle. Bikers really ARE immature...about 400 million years worth!

She said she'll divorce her pilot if he gets another bike but she also says that he's had six! She might believe herself but no one else does. I, thus, had absolutely no fear when I offered him my own bike in return for her and a little cash on top of her busfare! A different offer, a Harley or Beemer, might have elicited a different answer, but, always a Prufrock, I didn't make one...

James Brody

*It's one thing to use a tool, it's another to anticipate the future and keep it to use again. Dick & Jane & Frans: do chimps save their twig or make a fresh one for each ant nest?

Copyright, 2004, James Brody, all rights reserved.
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