Posts by Stephen R

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Now that the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, younger generations will have to reinvent community as a survival strategy.

    One of the side effects of our technology is that my community is not the people I live next to any more. I know more about and have more in common with some people in Finland than I do the people three doors down my street. And my "local" community of interest is people spread around Wellington and the rest of New Zealand more than my suburb.

    I'm not sure that's a good thing, I'm not sure it's a bad thing, but it is a bit different.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Do e-bikes ease traffic…, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    How about public e-bikes in China? I’ve heard that even provincial cities have installed networks of swipe card operated bikes.

    I don't know about China, but we recently saw ranks of swipe-card operated e-bikes in Japan, in similar racks to the bike-share systems I saw in in Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Paris.

    In Japan they seem to share the footpath with pedestrians, but I never saw one going much faster than a jogging pace.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Do e-bikes ease traffic…, in reply to BenWilson,

    My gut feeling is that e-bikes create a form of user, rather than converting one.

    Speaking for myself and my wife, I hadn't ridden a bicycle for 10 years before I got the e-bike (pretty much since I left Christchurch and moved to Wellington). My wife had bought a manual bike a couple of years beforehand intending to commute on it, but the hill at the end of the trip home meant she never did it more than a couple of times.

    Since I got it, when the weather's nice and we don't have plans after work that require travelling somewhere else, I'll bike. So in summer that's about 2-4 times a week in Wellington :) That's enough that half way through summer I'm fit enough that I'd ride a manual bike if I had one, but I'm not quite keen enough to go buy one on the strength of that.

    If I'm not biking, it's still cheaper (and way more convenient) to take the car in and pay parking than catch the bus for two people.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: From Zero: The Meth Episode, in reply to andin,

    WWII both sides had their own variant, while I have heard hints of that no one has ever come out and said it.

    The Germans had Methamphetamines in the form of Pervitin and the US and UK were using Amphetamines (with brand name Benzedrine).
    I've heard it said that the first thing the Russian soldiers would do when they captured Germans was go through their pockets for Pervitin, because it was better than what they were issued.

    from a drug history site:

    Nicolas Rasmussen, “Medical Science and the Military: The Allies’ Use of Amphetamine During World War II,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42, no. 2 (2011): 205–233. Concludes that the “grounds on which amphetamine was actually adopted by both British and American militaries had less to do with the science of fatigue than with the drug’s mood-altering effects, as judged by military men. It increased confidence and aggression, and elevated ‘morale.'”

    and from http://hubpages.com/education/How-Drugs-Were-Used-During-World-War-2

    A brochure about the fatigue from the British Air Ministry printed in 1943 revealed, however, that there was knowledge about the cons of amphetamine:

    “Anyone who takes amphetamine feel that he has full control over the situation and that he can continue to perform his duties without rest, he finds that he can perform well, when in fact he makes all kinds of mistakes.”

    That seems to be the big trap - it makes you think you're in control...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Do e-bikes ease traffic…, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Sounds like a great reason for their being open source and software controlled.

    There is the Copenhagen wheel which is controlled from your smartphone (but isn't open source.)
    It basically turns your bike into a pedal assist e-bike for around US$1000, but isn't in commercial production yet (I think it's been delivered to some of the kickstarter backers, and the company spun off to commercialise it has sued some patent infringement lawsuits against competitors)

    I'm not sure why my bike is particular evidence for the failings of commercial versions, since the way it works is a bunch of compromises between how long the battery lasts, how much peddling you want to do, and how fast you want to go. I have reasonable control over those things now, by varying how much battery assist I want (I usually pick 4 out of 5), and how much I pedal.

    I'm not sure how changing the software will change those choices.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Do e-bikes ease traffic…, in reply to Allan MacLachlan,

    The speed differential is not that great, if at all as, aren’t e-bikes speed limited in some way?

    My understanding is that they're limited in the power output before Land Transport call them a motorbike.
    Mine isn't speed limited, but if I want to go faster I have to pedal harder, and the gearing doesn't really support going much more than 5kmh faster than my cruising speed.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Do e-bikes ease traffic…, in reply to Zach Bagnall,

    What’s the interaction like between e-bikes and traditional bikes in the lanes?

    In Wellington, when I cycle round the bays I pass maybe 70% of commuter bikes, and get passed by a lot of the roadies, so e-bikes aren't that exceptional as far as speed goes. Although the bike lane (when it's there) is really only one bike wide, when I'm passing someone I usually can do so without having to compete with cars at the same time. I bought a mirror so I can check who's behind me before I try to pass.

    (Quite frequently, when there's a headwind, I'll get a roady tuck in behind me to slipstream, occasionally encouraging me "Go faster!")

    The most irritating thing is that it's quite difficult to consistently travel at much lower than my standard cruise speed, so when there's congestion I'm continually going pedal-coast-pedal-coast until it's safe to pass, which gets me out of my rhythm.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Hmm, #16 on the all-time greatest hits list, all of which are mere estimates not historical fact

    You do realise that most history is about estimates, right? They don't know precisely how many people were killed by Hitler, or Stalin, or the US in Iraq, but they can make estimates. It's the best tool they have, and criticising them for saying it's an estimate instead of pretending they know 100% seems a little unreasonable.

    I am reminded of a psych experiment where people who are certain about their eye-witness statements are less likely to be correct than people who are unsure, but more likely to be believed by juries. How fucked up is that?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: #eqnz: Okay?, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I'm very supportive of Justin Lester - I thought he would be useless but now I'm inclined to vote for him again just because of his sensible approach to the 'quake.

    I was very impressed with the interview he gave from the WREMO offices - he was pretty well informed, refused to be drawn on things he didn't know, and was very clear about what was known, what was unclear, and what people just didn't know yet.

    I don't mind officials saying "we don't know yet" - I much prefer it over them making answers up.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: #eqnz: Okay?, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    The impression I got from the Mayor was a reluctance for the Authorities (central and local) to take responsibility for issuing 'safe or unsafe to enter' notices. "Ask your boss or your landlord."

    It seems to me that the Council can't afford/organise engineer inspections for every building in Wellington, and it seems reasonable to put the responsibility on building owners to organise that; but only the council can say "This area of town is too dangerous and people should stay out - individual building owners can't.

    So basically, I think they need to work together pretty closely.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 230 posts Report Reply

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