Rearview Mirror: Delving into 2012

By Kip Woodring

The world

  • Queen Elizabeth II (figure 1) marks the 60th anniversary of becoming British monarch, becoming only the second to do so. Six years have since passed and she’s second to nobody!
Figure 1
Figure 1
  • Scientists successfully regenerate the flowering plant Silene stenophylla (figure 2) from a 31,800-year-old piece of fruit, greatly surpassing the previous record of 2,000 years. This is why I eat meat.
Figure 2
Figure 2
  • Discovery of the largest prehistoric penguin Kairuku Grebneffi (figure 3), nearly five feet tall. Makes you wonder how big the polar bears were back then… don’t it?
Figure 3
Figure 3
  • The 8th century St. Cuthbert Gospel, Europe’s oldest intact book (figure 4), is purchased by the British Library for nine million pounds! (Heavy book!)
Figure 4
Figure 4
  • Chinese scientists break a world record by transferring photons over 97 kilometers using quantum teleportation (figure 5). Say… what?
Figure 5
Figure 5
  • The discovery of a missing Mayan calendar piece (figure 6) disproves 2012 Armageddon. Turns out… it meant the calendar just “re-starts” like an odometer turning 100,000 miles goes back to zero! Still scared the crap outta “The End is Near” types and made the rest nervous. (C’mon; admit it!)
Figure 6
Figure 6
  • Transit of Venus between Earth and Sun (figure 7) occurs—last transit of the 21st century. So where will women come from for the next 82 years?
Figure 7
Figure 7
  • 16th-century archaeological remains of the Curtain Theater (figure 8), where some of Shakespeare’s plays first were performed, was found under a pub in London. I need a pub myself where Shakespeare’s plays are concerned.
Figure 8
Figure 8
  • The world’s first stem cell-assisted vein transplant (figure 9) is undertaken by Swedish doctors on a 10-year-old girl. That girl is now 16… or varicose to it!
Figure 9
Figure 9
  • Excavators announce that they may have found the remains of King Richard III of England (figure 10) under a “carpark” (parking lot to us) in Leicester. Some of the things I’ve found under my motorcycles would beat that. (See: Shakespeare’s play.)
Figure 10
Figure 10

The nation

  • Messenger spacecraft (figure 11) begins its extended mission… well… first of two extended missions ending in 2014 when it crashed on Mercury… after 10 years of productive space travel. Wish my report card looked this good.
Figure 11
Figure 11
  • Stanford University scientists develop a prototype bionic eye (figure 12). What’s next… X-ray vision?
Figure 12
Figure 12
  • A Space-X Dragon (figure 13) becomes the first commercial spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station. Won’t be the last!
Figure 13
Figure 13
  • The Solar Impulse (figure 14) completes the world’s first intercontinental flight powered by the sun… Switzerland to Spain then Morocco. Designed to fly for 36 hours on a charge… after that you peddle… I’m guessing!
Figure 14
Figure 14
  • Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, becomes the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space. That… is great mileage!
  • The Mars Curiosity rover (figure 15) discovers evidence of a fast-moving stream bed on Mars and plays the first interplanetary human voice recording. I hope it was the song “Down By The River”… but doubt it.
Figure 15
Figure 15
  • CFBDSIR 2149-0403 (figured 16) is discovered, the closest rogue planet to earth (100 light years away)… and you think this place is weird!
Figure 16
Figure 16

The factories

Frankly… pretty ho-hum. The year ‘12 was, for Indian, the year of the Chief (figure 17)… the last year for what will someday be the most collectible of the “modern” Indians. For Victory it was mostly more of same, building variations like the Judge (figure 18) of what was already successful. Ditto… the Motor Company’s Blackline Softail (figure 19)… in spades! Fact is, 2012 might go down as the year of no genuinely new models at all!

Figure 17
Figure 17
Figure 18
Figure 18
Figure 19
Figure 19

On the surface

Lots of refinements for all! I perceive 2012 as the year the American motorcycle industry took a breather, and squared away the product lines, as well as the products themselves… shook off the hangover of economic downturn and figured out what to build next. Fans and buyers of each and every one were fine with that! It was a good year… a vintage year… for Yankee V-twins.

The inside story

Lots of refinements… for all! I mean, Indian offerings had to be good; presaging the next big (good!) thing from Polaris was key! The ‘12 Chief gave no grief… as if to prove it was in the groove! Victory… IMO… peaked though not many knew it then. Handsome, bomb-proof power plants (emphasis on “power”), fit and finish so good you were surprised… and the Ness family swingin’ the bat on the custom offerings. It don’t get no better… and never did for Victory. Meanwhile, H-D was smarting and smartening up. The overall economy and the competition required a response. Twelve was the year Harley decided what that would be. We wouldn’t see it then. What we saw instead was tubeless wire-spoked (laced) wheels, sophisticated body control modules (BCM), “it’s about damn time” compensators (essentially Screamin’ Eagle type made “standard”)… and by popular demand… 103“ engines for the masses, most of which were prelude to… well, let’s not get ahead of the story.

 

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