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Very fast French trains

April 3rd, 2007 3 comments

We were driving from Paris to London 5 years or so ago in a rented Renault Laguna – the Autoroute through that part of the French countryside ran alongside a high speed rail line and a train passed us as if we were standing still, even though I was going an indicated 120 mph. I marveled at how quick the train seemed to be – it had to be going at least 180-200 mph to pass us that dramatically. What a way to get from A/B – sit back and enjoy a book or some champagne, as you whisk around France at 200 mph.

The French, in their obsession with high speed rail, have just set a speed record for trains on traditional tracks. The train went 574.8 km/h – that’s 357 mph. Chicago to Milwaukee in 26 minutes. Chicago to STL in around 50 minutes. Chicago to NYC in just over two hours. All without having to deal with traffic or the airports.

Click here for video of the event. There is a scene when the train blasts under an overpass full of photo-journalists that is quite impressive. And check out the smile on the train operators face at the end.

Here in Chicago, the CTA is wrought with slow zones – they apparently bought railroad ties from a company 20 years ago that were supposed to last 50 years, and these ties ended up only lasting 20. These defective ties are starting to crack, so there are quite a few spots on Chicago’s El system that can only handle speeds up to 10 mph – with the slow zones and other organizational and bureaucratic hell – in the hour it takes the red line to get from Evanston to the Loop, the French train would be in Cleveland.

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British Invasion

March 21st, 2007 No comments

A wonderful piece in Vanity Fair by a Brit in Manhattan, about Brits in Manhattan. It could also make a bit of sense in places like Chicago, S.F., or L.A. as well. Via Andrew Sullivan.

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Ricky Gervais Comic Relief 2007 Red Nose Day

March 20th, 2007 No comments

A brilliant expose on poverty in Kenya by the UK comic Ricky Gervais, with appearances by people like Stephen Merchant, Bob Geldoff and the Naked Chef. And check out who shows up at the end. It’s funny as all hell.

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R2D2 snail mailboxes

March 15th, 2007 1 comment

They better bolt these down securely.

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Ohio University is the top pirate

February 23rd, 2007 No comments

Ohio University in Athens, Oh. took the top honor as the numero uno school for RIAA copyright infringement violations. Well done to you, Ohio.

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Iraq in Fragments

February 22nd, 2007 No comments

This documentary should be quite good, judging from the trailer. Click on the pic to watch it. 

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