Thursday, 11 November 2021

by-way or the highway

Albeit not on quite the same scale, these extreme commutes executed without an automobile and via slower, more deliberative modes of transportation really speak to me as I have undertaken similar excursions myself, only out of curious necessity, though the office is only ten kilometres away in most cases and not through dangerous terrain however through places not designed for pedestrians or flรขnuers (see also) to explore, fascinated by such transit-zones and will regularly make an afternoon’s errands out of something that would be quickly dispatched by car and a few extra stops.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

collared

Buried within the pared down yet still massive and significant US Infrastructure Bill is a rider that encourages in the pursuit of public safety the tagging of pedestrians and bicycles with transponder beacons so as to make it easier for autonomous vehicles from running them over—thereby, like the crime of jaywalking, shifting the responsibility away from the manufacturers to public and shared spaces.

Monday, 9 August 2021

9x9

form follows function: a Bauhaus poster generator—see previosly—via Kottke 

reddy made magic: a gallery of images plus the Walter Lantz theme song for mascot and industry shill, Reddy Kilowatt   

dining car: vintage railway menus (see also) illustrate the evolution of American cuisine—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

ฮด ฮด ฮด, can I help ya, help ya, help ya: a guide to joining the right sorority this fall  

jeux de la xxxiiie olympiade: the upcoming Paris games will be sustainable and moderately priced—see also  

attention k-mart shoppers: Americans emerge from the pandemic less patient, less empathetic than before and the service industry culture that fuels the cruel fantasy  

cycles pour animaux: a 1907 patent for a bicycle for horses to amplify their speed and le cheval-vapeur 

divergent association task: help science gauge creative reflexes by thinking up ten words as different as possible (in English only for now)  

betaplex: colourful retro cinema space in Ho Chi Mihn City recalls Saigon’s Art Deco architecture

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

6x6

fietsstrook: LEGO cycling lanes (see previously) on their way 

pay no attention to that man behind the curtain: Jeff Bezos to hand over the reigns of power at Amazon 

it’s a duck blur: an in depth, retrospective analysis of the 1989 Capcom video game Ducktales  

end effector: Boston Dynamics’ Spot gets an arm and gripper attachment 

nihon no shiro: abstract woodcuts of the castles and palaces of Japan—via Present /&/ Correct  

force multiplier: innovative, portable CLIP drive transforms any convention bicycle into an e-bike—via Swiss Miss

Monday, 25 January 2021

6x6

hair flashes: some MidCentury styling tips from the British Pathรฉ archives  

salvator mundi: an inconspicuously missing five-hundred-year old copy of the world’s most expensive painting (previously) found in a wardrobe in Naples  

home edition: a meditative Tiny Desk Concert from pianist Max Richter  

elevator pitch: Michael Dorn’s suggestion for a franchise series from the point-of-view of the Klingon Empire sounds intriguing  

mpaa: a brief history of the PG-13 rating for US box-offices—see also 

 boneshaker: antique footage of cyclists in the days before suspension and shock-absorbers

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

headcase

Collaborators in Berlin and Munich have teamed up to produce a smart safety helmet for cyclists that links to one’s phone and delivers audio content via bone conducting speakers that are less intrusive and help ensure that the rider is also attuned to their surroundings.

Proximity sensors monitor the area immediately behind and give haptic cues if there’s something approaching from behind or the sides. It has directional lights and can understand simple voice commands to interact with one’s smart phone and an electric drive is actuated to adjust to an optimal fit once donned. Called ESUB tracks, the outer surface is a photovoltaic cell powering the helmet. More—including a video demonstration, at designboom at the link above.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

boulevardier

Via Plain Magazine, we are alerted to conclusion and showcase of superlative snapshots from dotArt Urban 2020 photo awards and exhibition in partnership with Trieste Photo Days.
Shifting through over ten thousand submissions split among different categories—street, people, etc.—the jury has selected a number of finalists to contend for the top prize to be announced in October which will meanwhile be available to peruse on the contest’s online gallery. We especially liked this black-and-white picture of a scene in Prague from the perspective of a bicycle rack from Gabriele Altin, which really evokes the art in the sense of extending flรขnerie. Champion your favourites and find much more to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

zx81

Launched in the United Kingdom on this day in 1981, Sinclair Research’s innovative, intuitive and inexpensive (kits for self-assembly consisting of a slim and compact keyboard and an external cassette recorder for memory retailed for a mere £49,95) micro-computer was one of the first to be successfully mass-marketed and introduced the public to the idea of having a home computer, outside the bailiwick of business executives and hobbyists. Aside from the tape player, there were no moving parts and plugged into a television set as a display.
Despite perceived technical shortcomings—like the impractically low amount of memory, the unit truly prized open a path to better computer literacy, coding (see previously) and importantly the measure of confidence to see broader applications. Clones and variants soon proliferated—I remember using a Radio Shack derivative in a beige casing and flipping the VHF/UHF switch and felt I was entering programming mode, and the community of enthusiasts the ZX81 fostered was self-perpetuating, the early-adopters creating, sourcing software and hardware compatible with the computer. Founder and business executive Clive Marles Sinclair (*1940) amassed a fortune with this pioneering success and was given a knighthood for it in 1983. Later projects launched by Sinclair have focused on personal transportation and solving the last-mile problem with inventions like his folding bicycle that commuters can easily take on trains, the A-Bike debuting in 2006.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

ik denk dus ik fiets

We enjoyed pursuing this curated gallery of posters and placards documenting a decades’ long campaign to transform and retain Amsterdam as a world capital for pedestrians and cyclists.
This 1976 call for a demonstration of solidarity against automobile traffic and for more public transit options, in the name of safety and to ease congestion, features one of the first appearances of the Fietst (Dutch for riding a bike and an eponymous lobby and association) mascot, a character comprised of two wheels and a big head (sort of evoking the international symbol for a vision impaired person so that others realise that they’re sharing their space with them) with the triple cross crest of the city as a body. Fietst soon after became a more fully-formed and articulate mascot as a cycling girl called Liesje. Much more to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

mother of invention

Previously we’ve explored how the Year without a Summer influenced and informed Mary Shelley’s Post-Modern Prometheus and the hardship endured by the population in general, but hadn’t appreciated how the climate disaster helped transform transportation by creating a situation that allowed machine aided propulsion to gain a purchase.
Due to cold weather that precipitated successive failing harvests, people had no fodder to feed their horses and out of desperation, had to eat their horses, which made alternative modes of getting around a necessity, prompting Karl Freiherr von Drais (see also) to invent his Laufmaschine—a dandy-horse and like a bicycle without the pedal mechanism. Innovations such as this speak to human ingenuity and resilience when it comes to surmounting change. Let’s hope we can all keep pace.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

vilshult

Having a couple IKEA masterpieces at home and at work ourselves—though not this particular one—but being somehow informed or inspired to frame and shoot a similar scene, we were also intrigued about the story behind this ubiquitous (but joyfully so) poster of a canal in Amsterdam, courtesy friend of the blog Nag on the Lake. Do watch the short investigative documentary by Tom Roes, one of the nearly half a million owners of this picture, and learn what he discovered. You’ll be happy you took the time and won’t be able to glance over or dismiss it as something derivative or commercial again.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

8x8

contemporary scolds: take this quiz and guess whether writers’ are complaining about e-scooters or new-fangled velocipedes

art house cinema: a look at some of the experimental documentaries that defined Icarus Films

dabangs: South Korean “stress cafรฉs” are a revival of an older tradition supplanted by the invasion of Western chains

anatomy of the ai: a smart speaker depicted as an anatomical chart intersected by natural resources, data and human labour by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler

tunteet: a large Finnish research project to identify, classify and map the range of human feelings

slithery sam: the life and work of printmaker, illustrator and upholsterer Enid Marx

a soft murmur: adjustable background noise for any occasion, via Dave Log 3.0

lenticular lens: this thousand piece jigsaw puzzle changes colours depending on the viewers’ angle—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

Sunday, 12 August 2018

horseless carriage

Although very much retold from an America perspective, it was nonetheless interesting to consider the etymological journey we embarked on to get to the colloquial term car (from cart)—automobile, a French convention ultimately with Greek roots, being a technical, industry term (similar to the formal German PKW—Personnen Kraftfahrzeuge) that’s only used in North America. Of the early trade names suggested before reaching a critical mass and adopting a standard name, early media coverage referred to prototypes as the Motorig, Buggyaut, Tonneau, the Diamote and the Mocole—among others.  Be sure to visit Jalopnik at the link above to discover more car-related cul-de-sacs and points-of-departure.

Friday, 27 April 2018

head-over-heels

(More than) Just a Car Guy introduces us to an unusual model of bicycle called the Velocino designed in 1933 by Bolognesi engineer Ernesto Pettazzoni at the behest of Benito Mussolini, who wanted a compact urban vehicle that could be easily stored. The semi-recumbent assembly had a normal-sized rear wheel and tiny one in the front, with adjustable, opposing handle-bars that made under seat steering a possibility. I doubt I’d ever have the confidence to navigate such a set-up at speed.

Friday, 6 October 2017

petit voiture

Just a Car Guy graces us with the bracing find of a 1903 model of a De Dion-Bouton vis a vis voiturette (a four-wheeler) charging through the streets of Paris, outfitted with pneumatic tyres, patented by a French inventor named Alfred Ducasble, to ride rough-shod over the cobblestones without sustaining wear and tear. Gifted toymakers turned automotive engineers Georges Bouton and his brother-in-law Charles Trรฉpardoux, under the patronage of automobile pioneer and marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, founded the automobile and railcar company in 1881 and originally made steam- and electric-powered models before turning to the internal combustion engine, and was until the 1920s the largest automotive manufacturer in the world, churning out a volume of two thousand vehicles annually from its factory on the banks of the Seine in Puteaux.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

le grand large

Back in 1989, a sportscaster convinced Dear Leader to lend his brand and sponsorship to a bicycle race through the US mid-Atlantic states meant to rival and eventually supplant in popularity the Tour de France. As the Tour de Trump was being organised, Dear Leader’s legal team prepared to undermine and file charges against a bike race being held in Colorado called Tour de Rump—claiming libel and infringement on the name of this “inaugural” event would cause confusion.
The suit was dismissed and there’s been a lot of mileage to be had from the apt similarity ever since, which as the Colorado race was scheduled independently and far in advance of the East Coast one was a comparison that Dear Leader brought on himself. The first competitors included members of the Soviet national men’s cycling team among others and was jeered by (prescient) protestors during its first stage in upstate New York through to the final stage that passed by his casinos in New Jersey, waving placards that advised to “Fight Trumpism!” and “Die Yuppie $cum!” The race was held for a second year under Dear Leader’s patronage before he surrendered his stake to the chemical company that was co-sponsoring the event, with the last Tour de Trump to be won by Mexican national Raรบl Alcalรก Gallegos.

Friday, 21 April 2017

6x6

squeeze-box: Dear Leader finally delivers an enjoyable performance

venzone: an Italian hamlet rebuilt after being devastated by a recent earthquake declared most beautiful in the country

brick & mortar: complimentary to the retail apocalypse, urban centres are seeking relief from bustling mail order services

teach a man to fish: neurosurgeon visiting Tanzania trained a non-medical doctor how to operate on the brain, who in turn taught others, beginning to alleviate a critical shortage—via Super Punch

bespoke: tyre company soon to produce airless wheels for bicycles and other vehicular applications

pale blue dot: as a parting shot as the space probe prepares for its grand finale, Cassini captured an image of the Earth in between Saturn’s rings 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

velocipede or internet for robots

It’s a daily ritual to check on visitor statistics and always interesting to see “traffic” from exotic places or unusual inquiries that still managed to be filled—sometimes in creative and unexpected ways.
Sometimes, however, one is baited by spammy websites, that are just dragnet operations to get reciprocal attention. I am not quite certain how this recursive architecture, which is a pretty common thing and I suppose a large fraction of the gearbox of gauges, demographics and yields underlying what human pick, choose and settle on. These pings and soundings, I guess, are very different and I wonder if it’s a functional aspect of the system for such undercurrents to mimic the behaviours of authentic guests and hosts. What kind of evil-genius or impersonal routine marshals these gremlins and how is efficiency rated when it comes to counterfeiting interest and popularity? Usually such activity is obvious and I have learned to ignore it—not returning the visit. Over the past few weeks, however, I have received a barrage of highly specific calling-cards. First there was spike in visitors from Kazakhstan followed by various former-Soviet republics, but then the funny thing was all the websites were for their respective cycling associations and clubs. The sites themselves were all highly specific, organized and above-board and not at all spammy. It was like they were all just real proud of their websites, which were all different in terms of design, language and navigation and with genuine substance. While I don’t know what exactly redirected traffic, it was a strange coming together (flash mob) of company.