Monthly Archives: July 2010

Bullet Train Hopping

Jianjun Chen in China proposed an interesting idea for eliminating station dwell times for trains. In his/her design, each train has a detachable boarding shuttle mounted on the roof of the train. Passengers who wish to disembark leave the main passenger compartment of the train, and enter the shuttle. Meanwhile, embarking passengers board an identical shuttle already located at the station. As the train approaches, the shuttle mounted on the train, disengages so it can slow to a stop at the station, while the shuttle is grabbed and mounted onto the moving train.

By using a separate boarding shuttle, passengers can board and unboard at their leisure, while transiting passengers can continue on their journey. By eliminating dwell time, passenger throughput can be increased, and travel times diminished. Chen calculates that such a system would would decrease the travel time between Beijing and Guangzhou from an estimated 8 hours to approximately five and a half, if five minute stops on all 30 intermediate stations were eliminated.

via Machine Thinking

Simian Armed Liberation Front

China Daily reports:

Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents are training monkeys to use weapons to attack American troops, according to a recent report by a British-based media agency.

Reporters from the media agency spotted and took photos of a few “monkey soldiers” holding AK-47 rifles and Bren light machine guns in the Waziristan tribal region near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The report and photos have been widely spread by media agencies and Web sites across the world.

Well there there is precedence for monkey armies, along with tales of their legendary ferociousness. AND DON’T YOU DARE SAY THAT MONKEY ARMIES ARE A MYTH!


Swarm Light

rAndom International unveiled xhibited “Swarm Light” (video and detail photo after the jump) at Design Miami / Basel last month. The installation consists of the three cubes of white LEDs. The LEDs are lit according to a flocking algorithm, and move in three dimensions around the cubes. Viewers can interact with the light by standing under the different cubes and by using sound to “scare” flock.

via matandme

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Ayn Rand’s Park Bench

With hysteric cries of “socialism” and “communism,” penny wise and pound foolish austerity measures, the lionization of Ayn Rand style reductionist misanthropy, and the increasingly desperate attempts of governments to raise funds, this bench from Fabian Brunsing seems particularly apropos for the times.

Take a load off for a while, but only if you cough up € 0.50. What you thought benches were free? You know who else had free park benches? The Nazis.

This bench was originally designed two years ago for a joint show of FH Potsdam’s Interface Design Program, and the Parsons’s School of Design at the New School. That show encouraged students to come up with new objects for urban space.

What I like about this, is that it so completely embodies the anti-tax, anti-government mindset. (Interesting how often the question “Why should I pay to educated someone else’s child?” comes up, but “Why should I pay for police patrols across town?” or “Why should someone else pay for the government service I like?” never comes up.)

Of course, I’m simply projecting my own commentary onto the work, when it may not actually be the artist’s intent. Another possible inspiration for the bench is the passive aggressive antivagrant benches. Instead of simply having a benches uncomfortable for everyone, the bench is uncomfortable only for the indigent. As much as lament/despise bums (Santa Cruz will do that to you.), I’m always depressed by antivagrant design. It’s pigeon spikes for people, that typically aren’t actually hurting anything.

Searching around for a suitable example of a real antivagrant bench, I came across an orphaned page from, of all places, homepage of St Louis Loft Style. The page really does a great job of listing both antivagrant and vagrant friendly designs. Not just of benches and the like, but even devices that share building waste heat. It’s kind of inspiring.


Kin Dead

Wow, just last week I singled out Microsoft Kin as an interesting idea. Yesterday, The Kin died.

Wow. I can really nailed that one. Apparently, the reviews were rather poor for it, in all fairness, I wasn’t thinking much about the phone, just the UI. The visualization of the lifestream was what was interesting, and there’s no reason why this idea can’t be applied to some other product.

Update: Wed Jul 7 15:13:28 PDT 2010
Microsoft sold 503. Ouch. Well I didn’t buy one.

Update: Fri Jul 9 01:28:50 PDT 2010
Thoughts from the guy who killed the Kin.