Monday, February 13, 2006

Smart Cards for Public Transportation

While looking at credit cards, I came upon Citibank's SmarTrip Mastercard -- a Metro farecard and credit card in one. The Metro (in the D.C. metropolitan area) released the SmarTrip farecard a few years ago, and I definitely prefer them over the plastic farecards one usually buys. For one, the SmarTrip card, which is made of heavy, stiff plastic, is more durable. The card gets you through the turnstile more quickly, no swiping over and over again while a line of impatient passengers builds up behind you. You can also add value to it online, as the card is registered to your information. Though that might present privacy concerns (future episode of Law and Order?).

Apparently New York City's MTA will begin experimenting with smart farecards in the spring. Newsday reports that these farecards will be credit cards or key-chain tags.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Martians and Cardboard Beds

Studio 360 this week explored violence in entertainment. Comic Jack Handey (whom most people might know for his "Deep Thoughts" on Saturday Night Live) was invited to contribute. The result, "My Speech to the Martians," is hilarious. An excerpt:
People of Mars, you say we are brutes and savages. But let me tell you one thing. If I could get loose from this cage you have me in, I would tear you guys a new Martian asshole. ... I came here in peace, seeking gold and slaves. But you have treated me like an intruder. But maybe it is not me who is the intruder but you. No, not me. You, stupid."
(I just did a quick search and it seems as if this "speech" first appeared in the New Yorker. It's probably even better hearing him read it. He speaks in this deadpan, which is part of the reason I like his work. He's not deliberately trying to be jokey. His humor's kind of twisted, almost cruel.)

The itbed, from Swiss firm it design looks awesome. It's kind of hard to believe that cardboard can be manipulated to support something as heavy as a mattress and sleepers, but I guess it's all about the triangles. (Any other geeks remember building a tower out of balsa wood to support as much weight as possible?) Now that's portability.

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