Briefings: Weedless in Amsterdam, A Kenyan Runner, Good Drives, Cycling in Brussels, and Exploding Cars

Life is filled with surprises, like the Netherlands tightening its marijuana laws even as we relax ours in the States. What’s next — freedom of religion? Geez. News about that, plus things on wheels (bikes, exploding cars) and people who run really fast, in this week’s Briefings.

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1. What to Acknowledge | Weedless in Amsterdam

Not since the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767 has a European law excited such opposition in America. The law in question, upheld by a Dutch court in late April, bans foreigners from buying pot in coffee shops throughout the Netherlands. The Globe reports that cities in southern Holland have started enforcing the ban, shutting down cafes and warning tourists with roadside signs reading, “New Rules, No Drugs.” Fortunately for the Dutch government, weed smokers are not a likely lot to riot; then again, neither are tea drinkers.

2. What to Read | Letter from Kenya

Since 2003 the marathon world record has been held by Ethiopians and Kenyans, but we rarely hear much about them except rumors that they used to run 10k to school each day (Haile Gebrselassie) or only ate lunch growing up because of the UN World Food Program (Paul Tergat). Samuel Wanjiru is a slightly lesser-known Kenyan runner who shined briefly — he ran seven marathons, winning five — before his untimely death in 2011. The New Yorker looks at his life and death in the May 21 issue.

3. Where to Drive | These Places

The Gear Patrol crew has driven in a lot of cool places. Gstaad to Geneva. 800 miles of the West Coast (for a coffee). Spanish Basque Country on a moped. To travel with windows down and music blaring with no goal but the drive itself is one of man’s great pleasures. National Geographic has 10 good ones, including Denali Highway (Alaska), the Atlas Mountains (Morocco), and 36 hours on E6 in Norway.

4. What to Watch | The Brussels Express

City-dwellers are acutely aware of transportation issues: cars get stuck in traffic, trains don’t always go where you need to be, buses are wack. Biking is often a preferable way to get around quickly (provided nobody pulls an illegal U-turn and almost kills you — hear that livery cab driver on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn?). Outside has a post about The Brussels Express, a short documentary by Sander Vandenbrouke about cycling in Belgium’s capital city. “He looks at urban gridlock through the eyes of a bike messenger who slices through slow-moving cars, and ends up making a smart argument for reducing congestion.”

5. What to Explode | Cars

Like driving the open roads, blowing stuff up (in controlled environments, obviously) is another pastime we hold in high regard. Wired takes a brief look at what it takes to explode a car, Hollywood-style, complete with a brief video of a Sandra Bullock-look-alike pulling the trigger on a Jaguar XJ6.