Learn more about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Innovate UK has also invested £40 million across 27 battery research and development projects.Independent institute HSSMI are one such project to get funding. It will conduct research into batteries at the end of their life and look at how these could be reused, remanufactured or recycled.Faraday Battery Challenge HSSMI video With 200,000 electric vehicles set to be on UK roads by the end of 2018, investment in car batteries is a massive opportunity for Britain and one that, through our flagship Industrial Strategy and the Automotive Sector Deal, the government is committed to seizing. To realise our grand ambitions we need great leadership, which is why I am delighted that someone as talented and respected in the sector as Tony Harper will be spearheading our efforts to make Britain the ‘go-to’ destination for the development and deployment of this game-changing technology. Innovate UK Chief Executive, Ruth McKernan, said: This is a unique opportunity to maximise the advantage for the UK from the shift to the electrification of transport by creating a high-tech, high-value, high-skill industry in battery technology. Jaguar Land Rover’s Director of Engineering Research, Tony Harper has been appointed as Director, Faraday Battery Challenge.Tony will join UK Research and Innovation in April 2018 to lead the Faraday Battery Challenge. This is government’s £246 million investment to develop safe, cost-effective, durable, lighter weight, higher performing and recyclable batteries in the UK. It is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.He will work across Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), who will jointly deliver the challenge, and work closely with the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). Work so farThe Faraday Battery Challenge has already made strong progress.This includes the multi-million pound Faraday Institution to speed up research, innovation and scale-up novel battery technologies, and a £80 million investment through the APC for the UK’s first automotive battery manufacturing development facilityFaraday Battery Challenge CWLEP Video He will have an important role to play in ensuring the UK is a world leader in the development of automotive battery technologies. Business Minister Richard Harrington added: Tony’s long-standing experience and expertise in automotive research and development means he is the ideal candidate to lead the ground-breaking Faraday Battery Challenge. Leading industry experienceTony has been working as Director of Engineering Research at Jaguar Land Rover since 2006. He is a chartered engineer, a fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and an honorary fellow of the University of Warwick.In addition, he is an elected member of the UK Automotive Council Technology Group and sits on a number of industry advisory councils.Tony said: Read the Ministerial announcement. It is also a very exciting time to be joining UK Research and Innovation as it sets out to become the best research and innovation agency in the world. Innovate UK is inviting applications in a second round of collaborative research and development funding under the Faraday Battery Challenge. Find out more and apply.
Rock and rollers Red Hot Chili Peppers have their new album, The Getaway, due out on June 17th. As if the band had to build more anticipation for their first album in five years, they’ve shared the second single from the new release. The title track keeps things funky with a great bassline from Flea, though it’s frontman Anthony Kiedis’ voice that play the central role on the track.Listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new jam, “The Getaway,” below.You can also check out the first single from the album, “Dark Necessities,” right here.
The Deep Roots Mountain Revival will return to Masontown, WV from July 20th through the 22nd, bringing along a great lineup of touring musicians for the festival’s second annual event. Organizers have just revealed this year’s initial lineup, which sees headlining sets from Brandi Carlile and Lettuce.The full lineup announcement includes JJ Grey & Mofro, Moon Taxi, White Denim, Drake White and the Big Fire, TAUK, The Hip Abduction, The Eric Krasno Band, Cabinet, and Billy Strings. Also featured are Aqueous, Larry Keel Experience, Qiet, Cris Jacobs Band, Dead 27s and Forlorn Strangers, with the promise of more music to be announced soon!Tickets and more information about Deep Roots Mountain Revival can be found here.
The life of Mark Field ’48, Ph.D. ’55, may not be the stuff of thrillers, but it opens a window onto the tragedy of 20th century wars and the U.S.-Soviet Cold War that persisted for nearly half a century.When World War I broke out, Field’s Russian-born parents were trapped in Switzerland. The family was prosperous but remained stateless, and slipped out of Europe for America in 1940.Today Field is a renowned authority on medical sociology and Soviet-era health systems who has nearly seven decades of affiliation with Harvard. He shared a few stories on Dec. 14 during his last seminar at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, with which he has been associated for 61 years. He moves to Washington, D.C., in January.His family stories reach back to czarist Russia, swirl through both world wars, touch on the ruins of 1945 Germany, glimpse the early days of the Cold War, and recall a vanished, patrician Harvard. (He arrived at Harvard College in 1942.)But Field’s final seminar also included an announcement: A small group of anonymous donors has made a gift to Harvard that will support the Mark G. Field Discretionary Fund for Research in the Social Sciences at the Davis Center. The coming donation is “very generous,” according to officials at Harvard University Alumni Affairs and Development.The Davis Center’s acting director, Terry D. Martin, introducing the seminar in a concourse-level room at 1730 Cambridge St., called Field “very much the heart and soul” of the center.Field, now 86, stood at the head of a round table, where about 20 friends and colleagues had gathered. Calm and matter-of-fact, he began simply: “This is supposed to be the story of my life.”Field related the story of his family’s start in the port city of Odessa, his mother’s eyewitness account of a pogrom (she saw children thrown out windows), their exile in Switzerland (where Field was born in 1923), and their existence there as stateless Russian immigrants. “We had no country,” said Field, and only Nansen passports issued by the League of Nations.In January 1940, the family boarded a ship in Milan for a life-saving journey to the United States. “Fortunately, and I will bless him forever, Mr. [Italian leader Benito] Mussolini was still neutral,” said Field.In high school in Jackson Heights, Queens, “there were many children of Europe,” he said. The young immigrant was impressed by the quality of the teaching — “much, much better” than in Switzerland, said Field, where rote learning was still the order of the day.After a year at remote Hamilton College, “in 1942, I came to this great place,” Field said of Harvard. Still more comfortable in French than any other language, he studied Russian with Professor Samuel Cross, who had been an interpreter at the Versailles peace talks in 1919 and reportedly knew 12 languages.Drafted in 1944, Field was assigned to a special unit schooled in Soviet military lore and designed to communicate with Soviet troops. His stateside teachers included former czarist officers who still wore Russian military decorations from World War I.Field arrived in Germany the next year, just before World War II ended in Europe. On May 8, 1945, the day of the German surrender, he was at Gen. George Patton’s Third Army headquarters in Regensburg on the Danube River. Rumors were still rife that the Nazis would fight on, which was on Field’s mind while swimming one day. A German man approached in a rowboat and displayed a Panzerfaust, a bazookalike anti-tank weapon. Fortunately, the man just wanted to surrender it.By 1946, Field was a corporal stationed in a military occupation zone in Hof, Germany. It was the eve of the Cold War, and the Americans shared an uneasy border with Soviet troops, their earlier allies.The duty brought him into contact with trainloads of so-called Vlasovites, Russians who donned German uniforms to fight Soviet troops. They were being shipped East for execution or imprisonment. Field also encountered then what he called a Soviet “obsession” with repatriation of its citizens, Russians and others who were seldom willing to go back to the Rodina, the motherland.“They did not want to leave anybody back there in Europe,” he said of the Soviets, who firmly believed the West was a source of political contamination, an attitude that prefigured the deep chill of the Cold War.Repatriation was not just for the living. One winter day early in 1946, Field was called to a farmhouse to help repatriate the body of a Soviet soldier. The man had been about his age, 21. He had committed suicide by placing a submachine gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger.Outside the farmhouse, the soldier lay sprawled in blood-red snow. A Soviet officer stood over him and exclaimed, “Durak,” “idiot” in Russian. The body was wrapped in a gray tarpaulin, bundled onto a handcart, and wheeled away by a German policeman.At the scene, Field helped to interview a German farm girl. The Soviet soldier had visited the farmhouse to buy butter, milk, and eggs, she said. When he realized his errand into American territory would send him to Siberia for 25 years, the soldier despaired. He took off his wide leather army belt and carved his name and birth date on it, along with the name of a sister in Poltava, Ukraine. Then he stepped outside to end his life.A few months later, Field’s Jeep skidded off a German road and hit a tree. “The Jeep stopped,” he said, “and I didn’t.” In a body cast, Field was shipped back to the United States, where after eight months in a hospital he resumed his undergraduate studies.By Feb. 1, 1948, just after getting his bachelor’s degree, Field took a job for $175 a month as a research assistant at what then was the Russian Research Center. It had just opened its doors in a sprawling frame house on the site of what is now Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum.The center’s small staff had a mission: to unlock the puzzle of the Russian people. In those days, the emerging Cold War was accompanied by a “general bafflement” over Soviet and Russian culture, said Field in an earlier speech, and the subject was “poorly served by clichés from the extreme right and the extreme left.”Over the years, Field told the recent gathering, the center has taken criticism from both sides of the political aisle. In the early years, with a sign that included the inflammatory word “Russian,” the center’s windows were regularly broken. In the late 1960s, the center came under fire from leftists, who condemned it as an instrument of U.S. imperialism. “We should have stuck to Victorian poetry,” said Field.He took the two-sided criticism in the same way he took criticism of his first book, “Doctor and Patient in Soviet Russia” (1957), which drew fire from both American physicians and Soviet health authorities. “So I feel good,” Field said earlier, “about having antagonized both sides.”One of the earliest projects at the new Russian Research Center was a massive effort to interview displaced Soviet citizens who took refuge in Europe, which became the Project on the Soviet Social System that provided the grist for Field’s doctoral work.He was interested in the evolution of the Soviet medical system in part because of its links to a tightening of labor discipline during Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s rule, a code of work conduct so strict that being more than 20 minutes late could result in a court trial and a loss of 25 percent of pay for six months.“Doctors,” he told the seminar audience, “became instruments of the state” who embraced their jobs like bureaucrats with strict hours, regardless of patient needs, and who later cooperated in the medicalization of political dissent.In 1956, Field made his first trip to the land of his parents’ birth, which had loosened restrictions on visitors in the years following Stalin’s death in 1953. With him was a young Harvard professor named Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was later the chief foreign policy adviser to the Carter White House.They supplemented the earlier citizen interviews, spurring conversations by pretending not to have matches to light their cigarettes. Questions poured out of the Soviets, said Field, along with wonderment that American workers could afford to buy cars and houses.Over the years, Field collected Soviet-era jokes, the self-deprecating, ironic, and slightly subversive stories told by everyday citizens. He prefers the term “anecdote,” said Field, who once wrote an essay called “The Anecdote as Antidote.”Field was offered a book contract on the subject, he said, but “I did not want to go down in history as the guy who wrote the joke book.”Nevertheless, Field told a few “anecdotes,” proof that humor survives the grimmest circumstances.One was about the Soviet man who came back week after week to apply for a visa to go to Paris. Finally the clerk said, “Come back in five years.”“In the morning or afternoon?” the man asked.“What does it matter?” the clerk replied.“Because,” answered the man, “the plumber comes in the morning.”
LONDON (AP) — The U.K. has become the first country in Europe to pass 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths. With more than 2 million dead worldwide, people the world over are mourning loved ones, but the U.K.’s toll weighs particularly heavily: It is the smallest nation to pass the grim milestone. For comparison, the United States, with five times Britain’s population, has four times the number of deaths. Alongside excess deaths comes excess grief, made even more acute by the social distancing measures in place to slow the virus’s spread. Charities and campaigning groups are urging the government to offer more help to deal with this “tsunami” of grief.
In March, the Chicago regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Northwestern scholarship football players are employees of the university and therefore have the right to form a union.In April, Northwestern University appealed the decision to the full NLRB in Washington, D.C.This weekend, the Northwestern football team, still awaiting a final decision from the NLRB, comes to Notre Dame with its unionization future unclear. Ed Edmonds, associate dean of the Notre Dame Law School, said either way the Board rules, the Northwestern case could be pivotal for the future of collegiate athletics.Susan Zhu | The Observer “I would like to think that this [case] would begin to change the conversation at the NCAA away from the idea that [athletics] should be equated to a hobby or a very modest expenditure of time,” Edmonds, who specializes in sports labor law, said. “I think we need to have a much more realistic conversation about how you try to balance intercollegiate athletics and its demands with the educational process.“I mean, we’re basically the only country in the world that has sports so intertwined with the educational process at the highest levels. And I think what the case has helped advance is a conversation that is badly needed.”Following the Chicago Regional Board’s decision in March, members of Northwestern’s football team voted on whether or not they wanted the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) to represent them. Edmonds said the results of the vote will remain embargoed until the full NLRB’s ruling and will only be counted if the Board rules in CAPA’s favor.Edmonds said the Board’s review period for the Northwestern case is typical, and he expects a decision by the end of the year. In the meantime, he said the case is an opportunity to consider how universities and the NCAA treat athletics and student athletes.“The most significant thing about the case, to me, was the fact that the regional board ruled in favor of the players,” Edmonds said. “It actually causes everybody to look very carefully at the definition of a student athlete.”In its list of core values, the NCAA prioritizes “the collegiate model of athletics in which students participate as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences.” Edmonds said this definition is problematic when student-athletes are pushed for significantly more time and effort than non-athletes.“In the brief that Northwestern filed, [they] said, ‘Well, participating in college football is no different than 400 and some-odd other student activities that we have at the university,’” Edmonds said.“They’re trying to say if you participate in the chess club or something along those lines that that’s the same as participation in intercollegiate football. I think those kinds of assertions, that seem laughable to me, make the arguments in this case sometimes really problematic.“The incredible amount of money that conferences get, the incredible amount of money the NCAA basketball tournament generates — that places it in a far different category than anything else that Northwestern students participate in.”The Northwestern NLRB case itself revolves around the definition of employment and whether or not scholarship athletes fit that definition. Notre Dame associate professor of law Barbra Fick, who specializes in labor law, said the definition of employee typically depends on pay and control.In the Northwestern case, Edmonds said NLRB Chicago regional director Peter Sung Ohr ruled the football scholarships were economic benefits and coaches exercised some control over the players, thus making them employees. The University, though, objected to Ohr’s interpretation of scholarships as income.“What Northwestern tried to present in this case … is [scholarship athletes] don’t pay any income tax on their scholarship benefits so that should be an indication that they’re not employees,” Edmonds said. “Ohr discounted that.”In recent years, Edmonds said the idea of scholarships as income has grown more viable due to increasing tuition costs. According to the Northwestern University Office of Undergraduate Admission, the annual cost of attendance is $65,554, which totals to roughly $262,216 over four years.“One of the things that has changed a lot over the years is as tuition has risen, the value of [athletic] scholarships becomes, to a lot of people, fairly important,” he said. “So even tough [student athletes] aren’t given a paycheck, they are given a pretty significant economic benefit. And I think in this day and age when a lot of people take on a lot of debt to go to elite private universities, that’s begun to change the way some people look at the issue of whether or not college athletes are exploited.”The Chicago Regional Board did distinguish between scholarship and walk-on athletes, determining walk-ons are not employees. On its website, CAPA said it could possibly represent walk-on and “nonrevenue” athletes in the future, but “it would depend on the applicable labor laws and details surrounding their athletic arrangement.”Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who graduated in 2014 and led the unionization effort last year, leads CAPA, along with former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma and former University of Massachusetts Amherst basketball player Luke Bonner.On its website, CAPA lists its goals, which include “guaranteed coverage for sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, minimizing the risk of sports-related traumatic brain injury [and] improving graduation rates.”Edmonds said if the full NLRB rules in favor of the players, CAPA could bargain over these issues on behalf of scholarship football players at Northwestern and 16 other private universities with Division-I football, including Notre Dame, if they voted for representation. The union could not represent athletes at public universities because the National Labor Relations Act does not grant public employees collective bargaining rights, Edmonds said.“If the full board rules in favor of the players, it raises the question of whether any of the other private universities that play Division-I football would be approached by CAPA,” Edmonds said. “And I think CAPA would try to approach all of the schools.”He said athletes would react differently from campus to campus to the prospect of unionization, but if the NLRB rules in favor of CAPA and the Northwestern players voted to unionize, Notre Dame scholarship athletes could consider joining CAPA, too.Edmonds said the full NLRB’s decision is “a real toss-up” at the moment, but the Northwestern case is part of a larger conversation about the role of athletics at major universities.“The big thing about this … is that maybe we can now begin to talk about student athletes — if you want to call them that — in a different way because they generate such an incredible amount of revenue for their university,” Edmonds said. “If you want to maintain this idea of a student athlete, then you really ought to switch it and say it’s an athlete student, because they’re a full-time athlete and a part-time student.”Regardless of the outcome of the NLRB’s decision, Edmonds said the Northwestern case, along with several lawsuits that “strike even more directly at the core of the way the NCAA conducts business” will shape the future of college sports.“I’m hard-pressed to imagine that the situation is going to be exactly the same in a decade than it is now,” Edmonds said. “To me, it’s part of a broader discussion about the role of intercollegiate athletics in the university that’s being pushed by a host of things, and this is just one aspect of a lot of things that are aimed at whether the NCAA’s model is really a workable one anymore.”Tags: CAPA, college football, Ed Edmonds, NCAA, NLRB, Northwestern University, Peter Sung Ohr, Unionization
Editor’s note: This is the second day in a series on disability at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. Today’s stories examine the services available to students at the University and the College.Saint Mary’s created the Disabilities Resource Office (DRO) in 2004 to provide students with access to accommodations granted under the Americans with Disabilities Act, director Iris Giamo said. Prior to the creation of the office, associate dean Susan Vanek worked with students to ensure they received the accommodations they needed.Giamo said there are three prongs of disability that the office serves including “learning, chronic medical and psychiatric disabilities.”Eric Richelsen | The Observer Students with disease vary from serious asthma, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and immunological diseases, she said. Learning disabilities include dyslexia, dyscalculia, executive function and attention disorders. Psychiatric disabilities include anxiety disorders, bipolar, Asperger’s and others.Students must register with the DRO to receive accommodations, which are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, Giamo said.Students eligible for educational accommodations might receive extended time and reduced-distraction room, note-takers and print materials in alternate formats — electronic and audio.Giamo said the DRO provides students access for what they need under the law and any grade they earn is a result of hard work.“We consider the established history, self-report and third party documentation and evaluations,” she said. “Saint Mary’s is a small campus, and it spreads responsibility for compliance with disability protections to each member in our community.”Giamo said her office teaches students to be independent and learn to advocate for themselves.“The office empowers students,” she said. “Disabled students may need extra time to show mastery of a subject, and it’s essential that they have access to curriculum.”Giamo said Saint Mary’s has attracted several students with physical disabilities over the years, but this fall the College will welcome the first student in a wheelchair in at least 12 years.The DRO works closely with Residence Life and Facilities staff to provide the physical access needed and updates in adherence to legal architectural guidelines are made when necessary, Giamo said.Giamo said ADA has increased the number of students that can attend college.“Eight percent of the student population at Saint Mary’s identifies as having a disability,” she said. “Only 75 percent of that eight percent use their accommodation.”According to Giamo, the reason only 75 percent of students may use their accommodations is because many students learn to compensate or may not need it for a certain classes.Many practitioners in the field think the number is close to 10 percent nationally, Giamo said.Equal access for people with disabilities is part of civil rights and for this reason professors are required to include information about the DRO on their syllabi, Giamo said.“This has definitely raised the profile of the office and allowed students to address what they might need,” she said. “We have an exceptional faculty here and not only for students with disabilities”Giamo said it is crucial for students to share their concerns about accessibility and accommodations with the College and the DRO.“It is only when people write or talk about it that we can deal with these issues.”Other resources for students with disabilities include Office for Student Success to assist students with their academic careers.Giamo said the Office promotes academic skills and healthy study habits for students with and without disabilities. There are also volunteer tutors in each department as well as tutors in the Writing Center to help students succeed.She said there is a heightened awareness especially with the emerging field of disability studies and theory.“There’s a saying in the field that ‘anyone at any time can become disabled,’” Giamo said.Tags: ADA, Disabilities Resource Office, disability, DRO, saint mary’s
Kevin Callaghan, a bronze medalist in the 5,000-meter race at the 2011 Special Olympics, spoke at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday evening regarding his experiences as an athlete. The event, sponsored by Multicultural Services, served as part of the College’s Disability Awareness Week.Saint Mary’s junior Maryselva Albarran Hernandez commented on the significance of the event, saying although there have been many projects promoting diversity and inclusion on campus, there were very few events surrounding disabilities.“We noticed that there were a lot of projects and events happening that were focused on diversity and inclusion in religion, race, ethnicity and LQBTQ issues, but there was nothing for increasing awareness on disabilities,” she said. “This is a big concern because we do have students with disabilities on our campus and it’s important for them to feel included.” Tags: 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Disability Awareness Week, Kevin Callaghan, Special Olympics Natalie Weber | The Observer Special Olympian and bronze medalist Kevin Callaghan presents at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday in Vander Vennet Theatre. The event was a part of Saint Mary’s inaugural Diversity Awareness Week.Albarran Hernandez said Callaghan is committed to speaking up and helping others who suffer from intellectual disabilities, similar to those he and his brother face.“He wants to be a role model for those who may not have a voice and wants to be their voice,” she said. “He wants to be able to provide the tools for people to voice their concerns and he wants to motivate others to speak up and I love that about him.”Callaghan was diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability, which he said is nothing more than a label. He said that a disability doesn’t always mean disabled. Every person is gifted in their own way, he said, and trying to live life to its fullest with the talents that they have.“I do things like anyone else, just at a slower pace,” he said. “I can drive a car; I live in my own apartment; I am self-sufficient. It wasn’t easy though, I had to work a lot harder to achieve my goals.”Callaghan said he always enjoyed running and competing. Sports have helped him in many ways, he said, by allowing him to make connections, find his passion and make new friends. One of the biggest highlights of running was the opportunity to compete against other athletes who were just like him.“When I was 10 years old, my parents offered me to be a medical guinea pig and the doctors injected my legs with Botox,” he said. “It worked. The medicine caused my muscles to relax and I was able to walk normally. That may sound like a little thing, but when you have special needs, it’s really important to be as normal as you can be. I decided to try out for my high school’s cross-country team, and I had a great coach who didn’t care about what I couldn’t do — he only cared about what I could do. By the time I was a senior, I was the fastest guy on the team and was voted MVP by the end of the season.”Seven years ago, Callaghan, who wore his Olympic medal around his neck, competed in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.“I ran on the same track as Usain Bolt, competed against some of the best Special Olympic athletes in the world and won a bronze medal,” he said.Kevin’s father Jim Callaghan said although it was difficult coming to terms with two of his kids suffering from intellectual disabilities, his greatest goal has always been to make sure his kids were happy. Both of Kevin’s parents became actively involved in the Special Olympics as coaches.“There was an adult special Olympics group, but they didn’t have a kids division,” Jim said. “So, we called the state and said we wanna start a Logan Center kids team. The first year it was only Kevin, the next year it was like, eight kids, and now the program has been running for 20 something years.”Jim said his son is a role model for a number of people and is referred to as ‘the mayor’ by some of his friends because he knows everyone in his town.“It’s not just about me but there are so many stories of people with disabilities,” Kevin said. “I love people and I also have many friends with autism, so I always try to think about how things would affect me if I was in another person’s shoes. If it was up to me, I wish there was a universal healthcare for everybody in the world.”
Pexels Stock Photo.ALBANY – New York State’s Teachers Union is urging state health officials to make mask wearing mandatory in school this fall.In a statement to the media Thursday morning, New York State United Teachers says that current guidance that mandates the use of masks when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained doesn’t go far enough.“The governor has said — and we agree — that parents and educators must be confident in their school district’s reopening plan in order for this to work,” said Union President Andy Pallotta in a statement. “As we hear of disparate mask procedures and other issues in reopening plans across the state, it’s clear that the state must step in. Making masks mandatory at all times is one step toward helping address the reservations that still exist regarding reopening school buildings.”The union is calling on state leaders to make masks mandatory indoors at all times during the school day, in an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in buildings that reopen for in-person instruction. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
Photo Courtesy of Devon O’NeilNo matter how good you get at something, it’s important to remember when you sucked at it. Both for your sake and others’.As a mountain biker, my period of sucking is boiled down to one very vivid memory. It was June 2004. I had just bought my first pair of clip-in pedals, and I went for a ride to test them out. The switchbacking trail behind my home gained 200 vertical feet before you could catch your breath. I was almost at the top when I came up short on a rock, couldn’t complete the pedal stroke and my bike stopped. I tried to unclip with both feet but failed, all the while sloooooowly teetering over like a Jenga tower.Splat!I hit the ground and immediately felt an uncomfortable warm sensation on my right wrist. I looked down and saw the dog poop at precisely the moment its odor filled my mouth and nose, which, as I lay on the ground, hovered about four inches from the still-steaming pile. I gagged. Somehow the vomit stayed down.I picked myself up, used a pine branch to clean my arm, turned my bike around and rode home, humiliated. I glanced around on my way down the hill to gauge whether anyone saw. As far as I could tell, no one did.After briefly considering whether to find something else to do with my time, I stuck with mountain biking and grew to love it. Now I ride five days a week all summer and fall. I write about the sport and its colorful characters for magazines. Some of my favorite adventures involve pedaling a full-suspension rig on a remote trail, hungry, thirsty, beat up from crashing, kind of screwed in the mind, wondering how and where the day will end.And inevitably on days like that, I come across at least one tourist, sometimes more, who looks like he just got off the bus from Amarillo and has a hundred questions but is too proud to ask them. This, in mountain-town-local parlance, is a “gaper.” (Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker that reminds fellow locals to “Love thy gaper”?)I have never liked that term. It sounds negative to me. Plus, I have been the guy in the foreign place, gaping, literally, at the new and interesting sights, probably while driving like a grandmother. I don’t mind being a gaper, but I don’t think I should be chastised for it either. That’s why I have a problem with the term as it’s used in resort towns, no matter how well the stereotype fits a certain percentage.The problem is that as human beings we’re wired to impose our will wherever we can. It’s instinctive, on some level, to claim superiority, and the outdoors is not immune, which is really too bad. Nature deserves better.I refer to this as the outdoors relativity complex, and it goes beyond just calling tourists gapers. In fact, it exists in strikingly parallel form in towns across the country and throughout the world, bridging languages and cultures, sports and stereotypes.The relativity stems from the way we get so concerned with where we stack up in nature that our competitiveness—trying to outdo the next guy—drains the experience of its actual benefit. I’m 35, so maybe it doesn’t sound so curmudgeonly when I say it baffles me to see a runner or biker going so fast down a trail that not only does he not have time to say hello to someone going up, but neither to yield.The line between instinct and intent gets blurry, but it’s easy to take oneself too seriously. It happens to all of us, myself included. The ego is built into the brain. It gets hungry. So we feed it. But in doing so, we drift from the beauty of coexistence and develop a less compassionate grasp of what being outside is all about.This tendency exists in the rest of life too. For as long as I’ve understood socioeconomic class structure, I have wanted to end up stranded on an island with Donald Trump, armed with more survival know-how than he, and observe him gradually come to terms with how helpless such a rich man can be sans credit card and communication. Wouldn’t you pay to watch that?Overzealous outdoorsmen often fit familiar molds: the über-competitive guy or girl who can’t just go for a casual run or ride, no matter what they say at the trailhead. The climber who chides someone who’s still dialing in his rope work. The skier who heckles beginners from the chairlift.Funny, isn’t it, how we focus on whom we’re better than, instead of who’s better than us? Why else do so many average athletes enter races if not to see how many people they can beat? The psychologists at Strava know this. If you only cared how fast you could do something, stopwatches would still be in vogue and king of the mountain would still be a game kids played on snowbanks in the schoolyard.What those who draw their entire self-worth from their place on a results sheet miss is that there is only one person on earth who’s the best at something, and only one who’s the worst at something. Everyone else falls in between—each of us is faster than some, slower than others. Yes, you may rank substantially higher on that list than your fellow local trail users, but it can help to remember there are plenty of people elsewhere who would crush you. As one of my ski chums says when he hears people brag about their conquests, “Don’t be too proud. Somebody probably did it decades ago in leather boots and on skinny skis.”The outdoors relativity complex doesn’t consume everyone, of course. Plenty of men and women exhibit a genuinely humble attitude, including elites who win races. But for those who do get consumed, the complex can drive everything they do, sapping the fun and beauty.It is also related, indirectly, to the “how long have you lived here” status symbol—a misguided favorite in resort towns, whose communities are built around residents’ shared interests, not tenure. Plus, longevity is relative. How do you think the elk feel when they hear some 25-year-old get all puffy because he’s been here six years and someone who’s only been here four is trying to tell him about the trail network?Stifling pride, as it were, takes conscious effort and doesn’t feel as good. The ego wants.Let it want.Sometimes we need to simmer down, gape at our surroundings like tourists, and remember that we’re in the greatest place there is: outside.