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Tuesday, November 04, 2003
A tale of Karmic Bus Tickets at Plasticbag - nicely encapsulating the day to day tribulations of using London's useless public transport. The recently launched Tube Refund site is perhaps a step forward. Tube Refund offers to complete the lengthy refund form for you automatically, via text message. This means that you can claim the refund while still in the grip of the delayed passenger's blinding fury, the fury that makes you want to physically shake the platform attendant until their silly blue hat falls off. But what about extending the scheme? How about creating a mySociety project that hugely increased the power of Tube Refund and extended it to the whole rail system? Imagine if every single customer charter was obeyed to the letter. Would the system collapse?

It’s an attractive prospect, using the so-called benefits of a semi-privatised system (fully accountable to consumer rights and market forces) to encourage a return to public ownership. Looking through the mySociety proposals, you see things that in an ideal world would be the remit of Local Government (Abandoned car notification, Local Services Portal, database of private landlords, open to all, the affordable first home) but aren't part and parcel of our everyday lives because the funds/imagination just don’t exist at an official level. But do these ideas get through to town halls and council offices? Is anybody paying attention?

Elsewhere. Cliché watch. test.org.uk notes the frequency of rampant neologism at Wired magazine. Related: Gary Wolf looks back at Wired's worst articles / parked up fighter planes, Arizona (via information junk) / Santiago Calatrava's new Tenerife Auditorium: an icon too far? / the police point to elements of urban design that cause crime, but wrongly identify it as New Urbanism (via City Comforts) / Sustainable fish wallet-card - never eat badly managed fish again - via Boing Boing.

Neglected architecture at the Joy of Concrete, all about forgotten Scottish modernism. See especially the sad wreck of St Peter's Seminary, the work of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia (two more Scottish churches by the firm: St Paul, Easterhouse). Read this Observer piece on the Seminary, and how its crumbling, vandalised brutalism just doesn't fit into the popular perception of a 'great building at risk'. This excellent page at Hidden Glasgow links to the brilliant photos at submit response (who also link to the great 50p badges).

Thomas Edison's patents / toy car obsession, via Coudal. Related, the Beetle model museum, via The Cartoonist. Also from the Cartoonist, an in-depth look at Vienna's 1932 Werkbundsiedlung, a modernist housing estate / concept cars and other specials at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show, via Sachs Report (especially the Suzuki Mobile Terrace). Also via Sachs, Involving Systems, hardware and software for making avant-garde music.