Here’s the problem with writing for public consumption: you never know when you’re going to accidentally touch someone’s third rail, so to speak.
Two years ago, I wrote about the practice of “darksiding” for Road & Track. I doubt most of you have heard that term; it refers to the practice of putting a passenger-car tire on the back of a heavy touring motorcycle like a Honda GoldWing. When I wrote the piece, I had no particular opinion about the merits of “darksiding”; rather, I was focused on the idea that exhaustive, high-budget development often makes it possible for a bad product (or a bad idea) to triumph over better products/ideas that don’t get that same amount of development.
My failure to hysterically excoriate the “darksiders” led a couple of wannabe motorcycle writers to mount a spectacularly ineffective harassment campaign against me, trying to get me fired from my job and/or removed from various media outlets. The sum total of it was that I got kicked off Facebook, which in the long run has done me more good than harm. I haven’t given “darksiding” much thought since then; none of the seven motorcycles my son and I collectively own would benefit from a passenger-car tire. Furthermore, I only ride eight or nine thousand miles a year, not really enough to make an economic case for darksiding even if I had a proper touring bike.
If a recent thread on Reddit is any guide, however, darksiding hasn’t disappeared just because I forgot about it. To the contrary; it’s stronger than ever. And while there are sound scientific reasons why it’s a terrible idea, considering those reasons in depth exposes one of my favorite flaws in what I (sympathetically) think of as “the Asperger’s mindset.”