“And now no-one does not believe that Armstrong will not win this year’s Tour de France” – Thomas’ tribute to professional cycling and Phil Liggett

I am really looking forward to the professional cycling season kick off Continue reading “And now no-one does not believe that Armstrong will not win this year’s Tour de France” – Thomas’ tribute to professional cycling and Phil Liggett

The magic of Japan Rail

I was in Japan in February.  I caught the Shinkansen, various branch lines and a few subways.  It was so incredibly functional that I would have stopped and drooled all over the station floors, had there been time between our perfectly synchronised connections.

But I want to share one tiny anecdote that happened far from the centre of Tokyo, on a tiny little single -track branch line that gets as many as 8 services a day.

Continue reading The magic of Japan Rail

Does this man hate cyclists? The inaugural Thomasthethinkengine interview.

The debate regarding cyclists’ rights and responsibilities continues. On the one hand the ‘vehicularists’ believe cyclists should behave (and be treated) like cars – on the other hand – (the inexplicably named) ‘facilitators’ believe cyclists should take advantage of their unique attributes and since ultimately it is their own safety at stake, they should feel free to bend the rules at their discretion. You can read more about these various views here.

Today this debate will take a new direction, by considering the input of another road user. In order to protect his identity, we will call him Gerald. Continue reading Does this man hate cyclists? The inaugural Thomasthethinkengine interview.

A better, faster coffee shop

I can imagine a coffee shop that works better. I want to cross a Ford factory with a sushi train and a horde of lemmings…

I buy a cup of coffee in two situations. One is where I am ‘having coffee’ and I want to linger.  In this case, the 3 dollars is a low low price to pay to rent a chair in a nice public space and shoot the breeze with somebody.

The other situation is take-away, when I’m on my way to work, or somewhere, and I need to wake up.

In the second case, the 3 dollars is an negligible cost for getting my day going.

BUT.

Continue reading A better, faster coffee shop

Charter Cities – An Idea

Paul Romer has an idea people are calling crazy.  He was a Stanford Economics Professor, but now he’s quit to pursue full time the idea of charter cities.  Eh?

Paul Romer

Charter cities are based on the idea of charter schools.  These are schools in America outside the education system.  They are generally in poor black areas and have a ‘charter’ – a set of radically different rules.  For example they might do ten hour school days, six day weeks, compulsory uniforms.  They are like free private schools, and they have been extremely popular (59 percent have waiting lists for entry) and often successful (one meta-analysis found most studies of charter schools showed improved student outcomes).

Continue reading Charter Cities – An Idea

What makes a good hostel?

Youth hostels are like little cities.  You have private space and public space.  There’s common infrastructure like kitchens and bathrooms.

If you don’t look after the common infrastructure, you get a hostel that’s like Calcutta.  And if you design the public spaces wrong, you end up with a hostel that’s a bit like Canberra.

The reason to stay in a hostel (other than saving a few bucks) is that it creates a place where you can meet some people.  The great thing about a shared room is that it forces interaction.  Then, when you move to the common area,  you can meet people from other rooms too.

But how to meet other people? It depends on ambience.

In Japan we stayed in one hostel that had a great public space with a few couches, an open fire and a beer vending machine. But the people who sat there barely spoke. The reason? A huge flat screen TV with hundreds of channels. Sitting there, you felt like you might be interrupting if you started talking.

Continue reading What makes a good hostel?

Dodge Ram – A Review

what a car

The specs for the Dodge Ram 2500 speak for themselves: it has a 5.7 litre V8 engine, weighs almost 2.5 tonnes, the length is almost eight meters, it’s red. Driving a car like this is a quintessential American experience and one that has been the subject of a great deal of my rhetoric since arriving in the USA.

Luckily a recent trip to Lake Tahoe necessitated a car with enough space for five passengers and a few pairs of skis. When the local rental car agent offered a Dodge Ram, I jumped at the opportunity. Continue reading Dodge Ram – A Review