Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tour de Biotech Part I

Riding in the rain Sunday, soaked to bone, a longtime friend comes along my left flank and asks my thoughts about all the local hype over the Amgen tour coming through town. He points out that Amgen is a biotech firm and this is a part of their public relations scheme - you know, sponsoring bigtime bike racing while taking us further down the Frankenstein rabbit hole. I nod, point out that the Dr. Frankensteins behind UCSC's temporarily postponed bio-tech "Guantanamo bay animal detention center" probably have a boner over these guys being in town - not to mention the fact that most weekend warrior types are precisely the kind of yuppie shit that would work in bioTech.

So of course, I had to wikipedia it - Amgen stand for "Applied Molecular Genetics." They're a HUGE employer in the cushy Thousand Oaks area of Southern California and started sponsoring the Tour de California only 3 years ago. As to the "public relations" intentions of the bike tour, considering how American culture views science and technology as synonymous with progress and freedom, it's hard to say whether or not this industry really needs to groom its image. It's not like they're a peanut manufacturing company or anything....

Still, what's particularly interesting about this is that while SC is known for eschewing genetically modified food, bio-pharma riding through town seems to have artfully dodged any local scrutiny. But more on that later....speaking of artfulness...

There was at least one sight I enjoyed downtown Monday besides seeing the streets devoid of cars:

From the Art Department at UCSC - These students got commissioned by the city to produce this bike-powered sculpture. Calling themselves the "Disconnected Art Collective," this kinetic piece is made entirely out of donated bike parts. Nice stuff.