What is a bike messenger?

Couple of days ago boingboing ran a post about a SF bike messenger who claims to work while tripping on LSD. Today i finally read the whole text (as opposed to just the short quote on boingboing which focusses on his cycling while tripping experience). Turns out that the his entire rant is rather amusing and that it contains one of the best descriptions of how the bike messenger business works i have ever come across: In big cities, cars are fucking everywhere. It’s a wonder people still buy the…

The motorized mountain bike(s) of Damascus

Back in december when walking through Damascus I ran into this mountain bike rigged up with small combustion engine: Mountain bike fitted with a combustion engine on Khalid ibn al-Walid street in central Damascus (photo taken from a different perspective here) If you ask me this is quite a marvel of engineering and although I never spotted a second one during the 3 days that I spend in Damascus I am pretty certain that this is not a unique modification but rather one of many that are produc…

The funeral and the wedding all howling in the microphones at the same time

There is an intriguing article about the insane noise levels in the city of Cairo on the NYT website (‘A City Where You Can’t Hear Yourself Scream‘). makes me at the same time want to go to Cairo and worry about Nat who recently moved there for a year: “The noise bothers me and I know it bothers people,” said Abdel Khaleq, driver of a battered black and white taxi, as he paused from honking his horn to stop for passengers. “So why do you do it?” he was asked. “Well, to tell you I'm here,” he sai…

Robots in the streets

We also do not have any robots left on our streets and little traffic so we don’t have the kind of traffic jams I saw in Jo’burg during a power cut. [Zimbabwean journalist writing on how to deal with frequent blackouts in the Sunday Independent] No, this is not from the future, nor is not a status update from iraq and no, there are also no industrial assembly robots lining Jan Smits avenue in Jo’burg. I can also ensure you that the streets are not filled with aibo’s, roomba’s or other useless e…

The knowledge vs GPS

I have written about virtues of ‘the knowledge‘ and the dangers of GPS to human evolution before. Now the good old BBC is running an article that actually pits the one versus the other in some kind of technology versus humans death match. They held a race through London in which a cab driver (in possession of ‘the knowledge’) had to compete against a BBC hack who was following the instructions of a Tom Tom GO 720 navigation unit: We chose waypoints that took us through extremely busy parts of Lo…

Tehran traffic ...

… so i am back from Iran after having spend the last two days in Tehran. it is pretty much difficult to make sense of Teheran in 4 days, which is probably due to the sheer size of the place. there are about 14 million people living in the metropolitan area of Tehran and one would guess that at most 5 of them are working as city planners. On the other hand every second inhabitant has at least one car (either a pre-historic Paykan or a grey Peugeot 206) which, during rush hour, is too much for the…

Teach yourself german

Usually i do not really like being recognized as a german when i am in a far-away-country, but todays encounter somewhere on a road just west of Delhi’s old city was kind of hilarious. the auto rikshaw we were traveling in was overtaken by a small white car and when the guy sitting next to the driver saw that the passengers were Westerners he immediately asked me ‘are you german?’ while showing his ‘how to teach yourself german’ course-book. my reply that i was indeed german seemed to make him p…

The knowledge

Ars technica has a sweet little write-up about the fact that London cabbies apparently reject satellite navigation devices (which they are allowed to use since beginning of this year). The main reason seems to be pride in having passed the notoriously difficult exam (‘the knowledge‘) which is required to get a license: Cabbies have two basic reasons for not embracing the systems, one rooted in technology and the other in psychology. For one thing, the devices still do not give the kind of perfec…

Parallel infrastructures

Ok, cant go on being abusive of other people her like in the last couple of posts. does not really add too much to the whole and apparently it will be held against me by some prospective employer in the future anyway. Speaking about employment: it is no secret that the dutch economy (especially the construction, cleaning and agricultural sectors employ a huge number of (temporary) workers from Poland and other Eastern European countries (ironically germany seems to become an Eastern European cou…

Please do take luggage from strangers

One of the most remarkable things about India is the way traffic flows. traffic adjusts itself to conditions around it in a very organic way and in general there are very little rules that are actually followed (or enforced). The rule that vehicles (and this includes busses, trucks, rickshaws, motorcycles, cycles, push-carts, donkey-carts, and various species of animals) drive on the left side of the road only applies in a relative fashion: one drives left of the right most vehicle traveling in…