Filtered on 23 November

14.21, Sunday 23 Nov 2014


Get Your Kicks on the Route G6.

The Economist (from 2012) on China’s growing network of expressways, and the culture of driving it’s kicking off. Everything from service stations with rubbish shops, to the Beijing-Tibet Expressway: several thousand kilometers from Beijing, across China, then a climb up onto the Tibetian plateau itself.

You need oxygen cannisters for the altitude sickness on the drive.


Piccolo is a pocket-sized, open source drawing robot. Attach a pen and make it draw.

See also Mirobot, which is bigger and Wi-Fi connected too.


Christmas in Yiwu by Dan W. Over the summer, Dan travelled across China and by container ship following the electronics supply chain… this piece is about his visit to a vast commodity market.

I expected to find bizarre oddities but the products were all familiar. I’d seen them in pound shops and market stalls already.


In the bridges between Districts I would sometimes see counterfeit money in various currencies being sold off a blanket on the floor.

Incredible. Where shit comes from. It all reads like something Bruce Sterling might write.


I currently have my nose deep in Mike Brearley’s The Art of Captaincy which is ostensibly about how to captain a cricket team, but is really all about the psychology of groups (Brearley became a psychoanalyst after retiring from cricket).

But also in the book is the concisest description of what class means in Britain.

Until 1954, every captain of England was an amateur; that is, he was not paid to play cricket. (The Latin root imples that amateurs played because of love of the game, rather than for anything so base as money.) Before the War, and for some time afterwards, the distinction was secure. Amateurs had different changing-rooms, stayed in better hotels, and emerged on to the playing area through separate gates. They stated when they were able to play, which explans why a cricketer of G.O. Allen’s stature played only 146 matches for Middlesex in a career spanning twenty-six seasons. Their names were represented differently on score-cards, either as ‘Mr’ or with ‘Esq.’, or with the initials before rather than after their surnames. In 1950 Fred Titmus played his first game at Lord’s. It was a fine Saturday, with a good crowd. An announcement came over the loudspeaker: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, a correction to your scorecards: For “F.J. Titmus” read “Titmus, F.J.”.’

[…] By no means all the amateurs in cricket were High Tories in background or style. They had simply gone on from school to Oxbridge, been good at cricket, and followed a natural route into the first-class game. (Indeed, until 1981 the Wisden ‘Births and Deaths’ list marked out those of us who played for Oxford or Cambridge as ‘Mr’.)

That’s a lot of what you need to know about this country, right there.

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