Speeding and the monopoly of force

Two articles on speeding, one from Techdirt about how GPS can dis-prove a speeding allegation:
GPS Tracking: Drivers’ New Best Friend?
The second from the New York Times about police over-enforcement and beating (stemming from alleged traffic violations) leading to a drivers’ rebellion in Russia.
Weary of Highway Bribery, Russians Take on Police.
They are both rebellions against extortion, one extortion has a slightly greater veneer of legitimacy (it is the state seeking the payoff rather than the individual officers), but in the end it is the state’s monopoly on the use of force as Max Weber put it, that enables this practice.
(Yes of course, speeding is wrong, but wrongful enforcement is also wrong).

More on DARPA Urban Challenge

From Tom’s Hardware: DARPA Urban Challenge Coverage
“Victorville (CA) – In about 24 hours, robotic cars will be zooming around the former George Air Force Base in Victorville for the DARPA Urban Challenge and TG Daily will be covering the exciting event in force. For the next six days, 36 teams from across the country – and several from Germany – will compete for 20 spots in the actual race to be held on November 3rd.”

Surface Navigation Help for Subway Riders

From the NYT: Surface Navigation Help for Subway Riders . This is a brilliant aid to the urban interface, put a decal (or a more permanent marker) on the sidewalk so subway riders emerging from the subterranean depths of Gotham can quickly ascertain where they are. Frankly, we should use the sidewalks for this kind of information more often, especially mid-block. It particularly helps those looking down to avoid making eye-contact.
How can you tell an extroverted engineer? He is the one looking at the other person’s shoes

Who will kill Project Driveway?

From News.com: Hydrogen fuel cell cars from Chevy hit the streets . “Chevrolet is in the midst of launching “Project Driveway,” an ambitious program where more than 100 fuel cell electric vehicles will be put in the hands of select consumers for the largest market test ever of its kind.”
Let’s hope this has a better impact than the General Motors EV1, their first electric vehicle, cancelled in 2003 just as the Hybrid market was taking off. This was featured in the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?”.

Traveler information from Probes

From the NY Times: Navigating With Feedback From Fellow Drivers . The article describe a GPS device from Dash Navigation in which every car is a probe, that reports information back other drivers in the club. This is an idea (hardly original I suspect) I analyzed in Levinson, D. (2002a) The Economics of Traveler Information from Probes. Public Works Management and Policy 6(4) pp 241-250 (April). The model in the paper implies probe information can be very good for detecting incidents, but will be almost useless for recurring congestion, because the lag in the data will be too long to take advantage of it.

Lower speed limits on residential streets in UK?

A new study reported by BBC: 20mph limit called for in towns
One of the interesting lines
“The Pacts report, called Beyond 2010 – a holistic approach to road safety in Great Britain, also recommends that all new residential developments should be subject to a “pint of milk test”.
This is whether a resident can reach a shop to buy a pint of milk in under 10 minutes without using a vehicle.”

Centers are edges

Centers are not nodes, in fact junctions are not nodes. In graphs (representation of transportation networks for modeling and analysis), nodes are aspatial representations of the intersection of links, which themselves are aspatial representations of the structure of network. However real nodes, i.e. centers and junctions, take space. As such they provide a spatial separation between areas that adjoin them. They serve as edges to adjoining areas (e.g. neighborhoods).
As Alfred Korzybski once said, “the map is not the territory”. Similarly, the graph is not the place. Network elements separate as they connect.

Shipping Container Architecture

Via Boing-boing: Making Light: Shipping container architecture. A really nice post about the use of excess shipping containers for housing and other purposes. With the disproportionately one-way flow of containerized commodities from Asia to the US, there are a surplus of containers landing on US shores (most are of course shipped back), the post details a number of articles about their reuse.