VanMoof had a logistics problem: too many of their bikes, beloved of hipsters and retro-fans, were being mangled during shipment. Their solution? It may surprise you.
"I was so used to driving and flying, my understanding of North America had become distorted. Then I took a slow boat through four Great Lakes. I saw every mile." [more inside]
In the winter of 1980 The Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road) abandoned almost 2000 miles of track between Miles City, Montana and Cedar Falls, Washington -- part of a passenger and freight shipping route known as the “Pacific Coast Extension.” Today, what's left of the Extension is "cut up among different railroads and the best engineered rail line through the rugged Rockies and Cascades is but weeds and trails, a vital transportation artery no longer available to shippers and the American economy." But in August 1980, before it was abandoned, two former locomotive firemen and engineers spent $400 to rescue a track-maintenance railway car, a 1952 M-19 Fairmont Speeder, from a scrap heap in a Maine train yard. They used it to travel the route and took photos along the way. [more inside]
"In August 1868, a double-masted Canadian schooner named the Royal Albert was en route to Toledo, Ohio, loaded down with 285 tons of railroad iron when the heavy cargo suddenly shifted. The iron rails busted the hull open and sent the ship to the bottom of the lake. While the crew survived, the ship was lost for nearly 150 years—until earlier this month, when a group of underwater explorers finally discovered it." [more inside]
NYTimes on the newly-rebuilt Panama Canal: "In simple terms, to be successful, the new canal needs enough water, durable concrete and locks big enough to safely accommodate the larger ships. On all three counts, it has failed to meet expectations." [more inside]
Though obfuscated by rapid increases in China's shipping fleet, it has reliably predicted economic downturns. [SL New Yorker] It reflects the rates that freight carriers charge to haul raw materials, and has emerged as an unlikely barometer of economic health.
On April 26th 1956, a converted World War II tanker, the Ideal-X left the Port of Newark, New Jersey. Five days later, it arrived in Port Houston, Texas, with 58 35-feet (8 feet wide by 8 feet high) containers, along with a regular load of 15,000 tons of bulk petroleum. Malcom McLean had started something big, changing the long tradition of shipping goods on ships. Before that, cargo handling was almost as labor-intensive after World War II as it had been in the mid-1800s. After McLean's innovation, shipping was transformed by this, one of the most important innovations in the global markets of production and trade (Google books preview), though that's not without its complications. [more inside]
You can see movements of the global merchant fleet over the course of 2012, overlaid on a bathymetric map. There is a worthwhile introductory narration, then you can can "pan and zoom in the usual ways, and skip back and forward in time using the timeline at the bottom of the screen. " [more inside]
And it’s even easier with a bit of international cooperation: Time lapse video of USCGC Bristol Bay and CCGS Samuel Risley working together to break ice from Sarnia to Windsor, Ontario, in one day. Further inland, Amphibex icebreaking machines are used to break ice on the Red River in Manitoba to prevent flooding from ice jamming ahead of spring. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to icebreaking... [more inside]
On November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank off Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. In the intervening years, weather researchers have compiled and simulated the data of the weather that led to the sinking. In 2010, Gordon Lightfoot revised the lyrics to his famous song about the sinking, based on claims that a "rogue wave" was enough to cause the Fitzgerald to sink. [more inside]
The New York Times profiles a cargo ship to illustrate the lawbreaking that is common in international, transoceanic shipping. [more inside]
For the first time, "the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered." The recovery of artifacts from the 1794 shipwreck is a milestone for the African Slave Wrecks Project, a collaboration by six partner groups (including the National Museum of African-American Art and Culture and the National Parks Service) to find, document, and preserve archaeological remnants of the slave trade. Some of the objects will be included in exhibits in the NMAAHC.
"Perhaps shipping also reflects the yearning for a small moment of control in a chaotic world. Children often react to their inherent powerlessness by retreating to the wide-open spaces of their imagination. They make their dolls kiss (or fight), and feel a sense of control that they lack in the real world. As fans, people may not be the author of the fictional worlds they love to inhabit, but when they ship, they can momentarily grab the wheel in the most exhilarating of ways — envisioning and championing relationships that demonstrate their own mastery of a created universe, and their true feelings about how love should exist in that world, if not indeed in their own." [via mefi projects; single-page format]
"And yes, I get that sexuality is fluid and all of that, but honestly, can't they just do it and get it over with? Either that, or shut up about it." Are Sherlock and Watson Gonna Bone, or What? [more inside]
"Panama, a small nation of just three million, has the largest shipping fleet in the world, greater than those of the US and China combined. Aliyya Swaby investigates how this tiny Central American country came to rule the waves."
While Australian public TV channels ABC2 and SBS2 contemplate a possible merger, on their official Twitter accounts sparks fly.
For more than half a century, pallet futurists have announced the next big thing, only to see the basic wooden variety remain the workhorse of global logistics. Pallets, previously.
"These gargantuan Lego blocks flattened global capitalism and erased human labour from industrial history in the process; they are the perfect tool for an economic system only interested in short-term, pop-up solutions." The shipping container (previously) an innovation that both revolutionised global trade and caused mass job loss, is now being reborn as the pop-up shop.
Crackvids are the genre of fandom videos playing out of context or absurd audio over clips of thier favorite media but rarely do they meet the heights of this video for NBC's super serious high-Gothic drama about serial killers, Hannibal. (SLYTP, NSFW audio, SPOILERS, general fandom silliness)
Semi-submersible ships are the only vessels capable of loading, transporting and off-loading extremely heavy equipment. These mighty ships are used to carry entire gas refineries, huge oil drilling rigs, and even warships and submarines, on lengthy journeys across the globe.
The Science Museum in London closed their Shipping Galleries in 2012, having been open for almost 50 years. But in case you missed it, here's a narrated short virtual tour, as it looked then. [more inside]
Today, Danish shipping line Maersk took delivery of the new World's Largest Ship from Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The M/V Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, a 165,000 metric ton container vessel, that is too big (particularly with her 48 foot loaded draft) to call on most North American ports, employs novel design and operating strategies to radically lower shipping costs. First in the new "Triple E" class of 20 similar ships on order by Maersk, the Mc-Kinney Møller will initially support container trade between Asian and European markets. [more inside]
Gorgeous time lapse footage of the journey of the M/V Matson Maunalei loading up in Honolulu and taking the 35 day trip to Long Beach. As you probably know, those containers on the merchant ship are filled with pallets, the single most important object in the global economy , previously. Shipping containers on Metafilter.
A tale of two shipping containers in photos.
Chow.com tells you how to ship cookies and other treats for the holidays: "You don't want to ship any cookie or baked good that won't hold up for three to five days sitting around your house in the container you plan to ship in. Not sure? Do a test batch and see what happens." [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
"one can quickly find themselves on the wrong side of an argument at a materials handling convention"
Maritime Monday. (No NSFW images in this link, but some weeks there will be a random picture or two of a topless mer-person or sailor.)
"I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave: My brief, backbreaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the online-shipping machine"
On July 13, 2010, a cargo container arrived in Genoa, Italy from Saudi Arabia. It was emitting torrents of radiation. No one knew what was inside. And no one knew what to do next.... [more inside]
Warfare: An advancing front - "The US is engaged in increasingly sophisticated warfare, fusing intelligence services and military specialists" [more inside]
Flags of Convenience allow ship owners to register ships to countries other than their own. More than half of current merchant ships are registered under them. As you might imagine, such a system can lead to abuse. In an op-ed in today's New York Times, Rose George suggests some changes. [more inside]
Insurance companies are considering forming a "private navy" of quick-response boats, crewed by armed mercenaries, to protect Western shipping from attacks by so-called Somali pirates.
Long before Chelsea Piers was a sporting complex and the South Street Seaport a mall, the city was lined with active piers. The city's residents were amply employed by the shipping trade, but containerization needed more land than would ever be available in the city: Massive ports sprouted in Elizabeth and Newark, and ships disappeared from the city. Efficient cranes replaced longshoremen, and the time in port for ships shrank from about a week to about a day. "The technology changed the geography," says William Fensterer, a chaplain who has been with SIH almost since its new building opened in 1964. "It doesn't look like On the Waterfront anymore," he adds. When he started out, he says, he would wander on foot from pier to pier in Manhattan and Brooklyn and board ships, with nary a guard in site. But those piers have largely vanished. And along with them, the seafarer, once ubiquitous in New York, has become invisible.
Out in the Sort is a 2005 New Yorker article that provides a look behind the scenes at UPS. From repairing laptops, to warehousing every available Bentley car part, to running its own postsecondary institution, UPS is expanding beyond its traditional role as a shipper of goods.
MarineTraffic is a live map recording ship traffic based on AIS data. The site mainly covers European and North American coasts and includes info on vessels and ports, plus a gallery with some cool ship photos. Similar: see ShipAIS for live vessel movements from around the UK.
A gigantic fleet of semi-abandoned cargo and container ships has been photographed east of Singapore. Meanwhile, the ship-breaking yards at Alang are booming, and the shipping industry is looking for ways to weather the storm. As the recession slashes demand, it seems the shipping industry may be heading for dry dock...
For hundreds of years, mariners have dreamed of an Arctic shortcut that would allow them to speed trade between Asia and the West. Two German ships are poised to complete that transit for the first time, aided by the retreat of Arctic ice that scientists have linked to global warming. Arctic Shortcut Beckons Shippers as Ice Thaws.
The NAVIS project is a multilevel international database for ancient ships of Europe. The database has very detailed information and pictures of ships from the 2nd millenium BC to the 12th century AD (found whilst trying to answer this AskMe). [more inside]
Worried about the environmental impact of your book buying habits? The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina suggests you consider how your books are being shipped.(SLYP)
"Now this is cool. Hellenic Shipping has a Google Maps mashup showing interactive, live data on the global shipping fleet." [via]
Shipping containers could be 'dream' homes for thousands. Yes, the design isn't great. They should have a contest for a version that would keep the cost the same. Esthetics don't have to be expensive.
Some time this month, French wine will once again be transported by sail. As the Guardian reports today, French vineyards concerned about climate change are about to make life much easier for oenophiles wishing to reduce their carbon footprint. Later this month, the Belem, a 19th century barque will sail from Languedoc to Dublin with 60,000 bottles of Bordeaux. [more inside]
Straight from the Department of Things Everybody But Me Probably Knew About Two Years Ago, it was only yesterday that I discovered the mind-boggling usefulness of the Amazon Filler Item Finder, which allows you to enter the exact price of the item you need to pad your order up to $25.00 for free shipping. Happy postage-free holidays. [more inside]
Shipping container architecture. A comprehensive repository of information, links, photos, and videos of shipping containers used as buildings or parts of buildings. More. Even more.
Sky Sails has a new take on an old idea to save on fuel for marine shipping: kite sails. The twist? No new ships required. [more inside]
Disaster at Sea!! A collection of dozens & dozens of photographs of misfortune striking those GIGANTIC shipping vessels, the kind that bring goods from China to Wal Mart. Every kind of affliction imaginable, from shipboard fire to heavy weather to grounding amidst crushing waves to capsizing from ill balanced loads to random explosive cargo to terrorist attack to so much more. Descriptions of the vessels and what brought them down are included in the first link.
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