Driving from London to Mongolia

My colleague and recently minted Imperial College, London Ph.D. Robin North is part of a team to drive a 1-litre, 19-year-old, Suzuki SJ on the Mongol Rally 2007 (London to Ulan Baator). This of course is an insane goal, but you are only young once. The aim is to raise funds for good causes (Mercy Corps Mongolia and Hope and Homes for Children), help the Mongolians achieve environmentally-sensitive automobility, and have a good time on the adventure of a lifetime. The website is here:
Goldenoeuf: The World Is Not Un Oeuf

hina to eradicate queue-jumping

China to eradicate queue-jumping.
Apparently China has been colonised by the English.

NYT biz journo: I was held hostage at “Thomas” toy factory in China

Boing Boing: NYT biz journo: I was held hostage at “Thomas” toy factory in China.
The factory must have been run by Diesel.
See earlier essay on Thomas:
The Transportationist: Thomas, a thinly veiled portrait of rail in England

If there were a death penalty for double parkers, there would be a lot fewer double parkers …

From WaPo: Hefty Fees In Store for Misbehaving Va. Drivers. Speeding fines could now be in the thousands instead of hundreds of dollars. The intent is to raise money for transportation improvements. But as the old canard goes, if there were a death penalty for double parking, there will be a lot fewer double parkers. It will be interesting to see if Virginia will merely increase traffic law compliance (probably a good thing) or actually increase revenue.

Carpools boon or boondoggle

Speed up car pool lanes, federal officials tell state [California] Nice quote from USC professor Peter Gordon: “There’s no evidence on the planet that car pool lanes have caused car pooling.”
A bit of hyperbole perhaps, certainly casual carpools because of the HOV lanes in San Francisco and Washington DC caused carpools (at the expense of public transportation no doubt), but nevertheless an important point about the futility of weak incentives. The problem is further exacerbated by the attempt to use these lanes to solve other social ills, namely pollution by using them as an incentive for hybrid cars.
One problem … one policy.

Butterflies and Beverages

Bruce Schneier’s Blog: Second Movie-Plot Threat Contest Winner aimed at forcing the TSA to ban something totally innocuous. (highly amusing).

Tickets before or after boarding?

From the Standard: No ticket, no excuse – train guards will show zero tolerance
South West Trains (my local railway in Putney and Barnes, with far better service than some of the lines in other regions) will no longer let passengers buy tickets on trains at reasonable prices.
This seems to be a policy aimed at causing needless delay and annoyance. At most there should be a somewhat higher price (not the outrageous “full fare” prices) for the convenience of paying onboard, rather than queueing (and perhaps missing the next train waiting in queue) to buy tickets. Happier passengers usually means more passengers.

Cutting corners

Whoops! Where did that railway line come from? … railway issues brochure with non-existent line. Marketing, cutting corners so to speak, inserted a route as a hypotenuse of the triangle between the thriving Cornwallian metropoli of Falmouth and Redruth.
This of course relates to how to represent services abstractly on maps. All maps are abstractions, some seem to cross an unwritten line.

Continue reading

Nightmare at Reagan National Airport: The TSA Strikes Back

Nightmare at National Airport — an update The TSA, rather than protecting its borders, would prefer to protects its ass. They have posted two videos and the official report of the incident.
Though Rashoman-like, the videos clarify nothing. The only question is whether Ms. Emmerson intentionally dumped her water (she clearly spilled it … intentionally?, “he informed the passenger that the child’s container was too big and would have to be poured out” … apparently she did so on the spot, which is probably inappropriate, though the guard did not provide a place to do so) and perhaps whether she tried to pull rank, though the videos have no sound, so this is quite unclear).
Still, it is clear the water was no threat, so why must it be disposed of.