Tram Town
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Despite the fact I have roughly 10 of his albums, most of us grew out of this kind of thing soon after we discovered it, well, at least I did!

Category: Technology
I spy with my little eye Eye-Fi! What a cracker.

Category: Nags
The TramTown reader HRT brought to my attention a significant anniversary. Ninety years ago today, the Battle of Beersheba took place. From the WikiPedia:
The Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade, under Brigadier William Grant, charged more than four miles at the Turkish trenches, overran them and captured the wells at Beersheba. This is often reported as "the last successful cavalry charge in history," although cavalry units continued to exist into the early phases of World War II and taking part in operations before being rendered obsolete.
The battle significantly impacted on the outcome of the war in the Middle East. Go read about it!
Twenty years ago, a film was made telling the story called The Lighthorsemen. Wikipedia notes:
The film received mixed views by critics, many claimed the film lacked a message about war. To be fair, part of the reason for this can be found in the historical fact as stated above. The raid on Beersheba turned out to be completely different from the useless carnage of the botched Gallipoli Campaign, and unlike Gallipoli, an Australian General was calling the shots; it was well planned and executed, with a surprisingly low number of causalities.
Thanks for the heads-up, HRT.
UPDATE: HRT says he has an idea that there was a public holiday for Beersheba day before WWII. Can any of our older readers respond either way?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Category: Audio
To paraphrase the defendant Back to Vinyl.

Category: Trams
New Tram! Batteries Included!

Category: Transport
Bicycle going up!

Category: Warmening
There's a couple of good posts over at Prof Stott's place that are well worth a read. There might be too much common sense for true warmenists, though.

Category: History
The story of Guadalcanal. Well worth a read.

Thursday, October 25, 2007
Category: Politics
I've been reading TCSDaily for a number of years. It used to be called Tech Central Station but is now subtitled TECHNOLOGY*COMMERCE*SOCIETY. I've learnt a lot from reading stuff there.
Today, I noticed two particularly interesting posts there. First is this mock announcement from the Nobel Peace Prize committee announcing their rescinding of this year's prize to "itinerant comedian and performance artist Albert Gore of the United States". It's a good read, particularly for those of us who recognise the importance of the battle of the Coral Sea.
A little more serious is this post making an attempt at defining Masonomics. One of my favourite podcasts is EconTalk. It comes from the George Mason University department of economics. I reckon it would be worth getting an iPod (or logical equivalent) just for this podcast (Just One Guy's Opinion™).

Category: Ignition
I've had a Zippo Lighter for a few years now. In my case it conforms with the paradigm that a product like this should be a gift rather than purchased for oneself. It's been playing up a bit however over the last coupla' months. Now, if I was in the US I could take advantage of their Lifetime Guarantee but figured that the postage et al would probably be more than the lighter was worth so hadn't bothered. Well, I was chatting with the bird at the smokes shop this morning and told her of my dilemma and she replaced the failed mechanism on the spot! Bugger Me! Their Guarantee extends to the colonies. What other product has a Lifetime Warranty?

Category: Fillums
I guess I'll have to go see this. Anton Corbijn (Director) was pretty good on the Lawyers Program.

Category: Transport
Our friends over at BoingBoing have pointed me to this which I would love to get a copy of. Our friends over at Yahoo have a bit more about it -- looks like an absolute cracker!

Category: Viromunt
Bishop Hill has a story about unintended consequences of pea brained greenery.

Monday, October 22, 2007
Category: Technology/History
It looks like an interesting history of the Palm devices has been started recently. I've read most of the histories but learnt something from this one. Part 1 starts here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Category: Warmening
Tim Blair notes over at the Telegraph:
It's only a few months until Tim Flannery hands in the Gilded Wallaby Sceptre, or whatever it is Australians of the Year carry around to indicate their elevated status.
and has some comments about the Alarmist's reign. It's a good read, Jack!

Friday, October 19, 2007
Category: Shuddering
"Reality is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder.' - Molesworth 2
For evidence of this, see Sandy Szwarc's latest posting on the Orwellian reality being seriously proposed in the UK in the name of anti-obesity. If it does not make you shudder, read it again. If it still does not make you shudder, welcome to TramTown, Bob Brown.

Category: Molesworth
I was interested to read that the name Hog[g]wart appears twice in Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle's books about st custard's.
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, may have taken the name Hogwarts from the Molesworth books. The name features in one of Molesworth's imitation Latin plays[3], while Hoggwart is also the name of the headmaster of Porridge Court, a rival school of St Custard's.
Also, even more pertinent today, this from Nigel's bro:
'Reality,' sa molesworth 2, 'is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder.'
Also, where do the apostrophes belong in "Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle's books" in the first sentence above?

Thursday, October 18, 2007
Category: Language
I'm afraid that I have been known to be a bit of a potty-mouth and anyone I've worked with knows this to be the case. Accordingly, apparently, this is a good thing!

Category: Fillums/Telly
The one-trick-pony is at it again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Category: Nutrition
Again with a pointer to Sandy Szwarc's magnificent Junk Food Science blog (another bookmark, Jack), this time it's a short analysis of a study that was expected to show that a "healthy diet" leads to certain specific desired outcomes. Let Sandy tell you the story.

Category: Politics
I really don't know what to think about this. It's fascinating, sure, and I'd like to know more about them but the whole risk thing may not have been thought right through. It IS the Senate after all I guess.

Category: Sense (of the common variety)
Here's one for your bookmarks, Jack! After an 11 month break from the blogosphere (but with an eight episode venture into the podcastosphere), Prof. Phil Stott is back on the job. He starts with a comment on Mr Gore's medal. The notation on the back of the medal reads:
By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.
The Prof responds:
Has climate ever been under human control? Such dangerous rubbish is quite extraordinary, and it reveals the mighty conceit of the age, namely the very idea that we can control climate predictably. I thus await with interest the sight of Our Al capping volcanoes, correcting the axis of the Earth, dimming solar sun spots, and diverting the ocean currents and cosmic rays.

Monday, October 15, 2007
Category: Spin
Remus Rodham and Gunther Gore. Horse Thieves?

Saturday, October 13, 2007
Category: Milestones
It is one hundred years since Frank Hornby registered Meccano as a trademark (but he was selling the product under the name Mechanics Made Easy for six years prior to that). I celebrated by attending the Melbourne Meccano Club's Twelfth Annual Exhibition down in Elsternwick. I spent about an hour there and I had a ball. There is still another day for the exhibition and I strongly advise a visit.
Amongst my favourite attractions:
  • A computer controlled model of the Falkirk Wheel. I felt like a fool for never having heard of the Falkirk Wheel. It is so simple and yet so beautiful and ingenious all at the same time.
  • A working Meccano Babbage difference engine built to the same design (I think) as this one pointed at by TramTown back in 2004.
  • A small working loom that weaves a ribbon 50mm wide. It does work. I saw it working. I then picked my jaw up off the floor.
  • Some examples of models constructed with Trix, one of the many Meccano alternatives that have existed over time.
  • A 1:30 scale model of a container crane with over twenty electric motors.
All in all it was an inspirational exhibition that was well worth the effort. I have marked it in my calendar for a visit next year.

Friday, October 12, 2007
Category: MotoSports
With the MotoGP currently in progress I thought the following was topical enough for posting.

Category: Death TFF
Almost posted this as WHWTMSITW. Fascinating article from New Scientist on how we react to different kinds of deaths -- from a 1st. person perspective -- gruesome and not for the feint hearted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Category: Apple
Further evidence, as if it was needed, why all of the Apple iPods are just rubbish. Seems that even the Fruit Company itself has come to accept this self-evident truth and has decided to add additional value to the product. Well done, for a change, Apple.

Category: Safety
Theo Spark has an interesting picture of a dangerous piece of playground equipment.

Category: Racing
Tim Blair pointed at a couple of GooTube videos of racing (!) in formula one. The first was, as expected, before the modern era and features a Renault and a Ferarri...

The other, though, was less than two weeks ago...

Massa and Kubica obviously didn't read the memo!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Category: Audio
I just bought one of these and for $200 it looks pretty good, haven't used it yet though.

Category: Transport
Over the last fifteen odd years I've flown a fair bit. I just wish that I had've read this first to prepare me for the experience.

Category: Birds
It's been a while since we had a bird post on TramTown but here is a shot taken recently in Innamincka by my sister:

Susan says that it is a Dotterel but, going by the colouring, I wonder whether it might be one of the similar Plovers that also live around those parts. I need to get Jack's book back to him so he can form an opinion.

Monday, October 08, 2007
Category: Transport/History
Our friend Auffers has pointed us to a fascinating series of photo's, 62 of them, documenting the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Railway line construction.
Interestingly enough, a long time friend of mine is a relative (Grandson?) who helped Mr. Lang open the bridge.

Category: Health
In yet another insightful post at the Junk Food Science blog, Sandy Szwarc starts with this:
What is most amazing is how long it has been known that body fat doesn’t cause heart disease or premature death, yet how vehemently people hold onto this belief. “The notion that body fat is a toxic substance is now firmly a part of folk wisdom: many people perversely consider eating to be a suicidal act,” wrote Dr. William Bennett, M.D., former editor of The Harvard Medical School Health Letter and author of The Dieter’s Dilemma.
Read the whole thing and the read Sandy's work regularly. It's good for your health!

Sunday, October 07, 2007
Category: Racing
It looks a bit like we've all been a bit harsh on the boy Vettel.

This footage was apparently from a punter's mobile phone!

Saturday, October 06, 2007
Category: Economics/WHWTMSITW
I thought maybe April 1 had come around early (or I was running way late). I reckon, if you could afford to be a "space tourist" this sorta thing shouldn't be a problem. Travelex differs. Now, if they only worked on the myki we might have one that works.

Category: Technology/Fashion
I tend to not wear T-Shirts as I don't have the physique (Heck, I don't have any physique). I might make an exception though if I had one of these.

Thursday, October 04, 2007
Category: Fillum
The boys and I went to see Hairspray (2007) over at Airport West yesterday and can report that it is good. It is just short of two hours long and the first hour does drag a bit but the second hour flies by. The boys loved it and the older one even allowed that it makes Highschool Musical look a bit shabby.
We watched the DVD of Hairspray (1988) later in the day and it stands up very well. Divine is no John Travolta, mind you, but John Travolta is most definitely no Divine (or divine for that matter).
The older movie's low(ish) budget was actually very well managed and its 1963 feel was extremely good. To give the new movie its due, though, its view of 1963 is much, much larger and almost flawless. Comparison is quite unfair on both movies, though, because they never had even similar aspirations.
HS2007 - 8.0/10.0 (maybe 8.5 if it hadn't dragged a bit to begin)
HS1988 - 8.0/10.0 (maybe less if it hadn't gotten the schlock right)
If you enjoy either, you should enjoy the other.
Just One Guy's Opinion™.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Category: Humor
From the Thunder Run blog (which I read every day):
A very self-important college freshman attending a recent football game, took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.
"You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one," the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear. "The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon, our spaceships have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars, computers with DSL, bsp; light-speed processing ....and," pausing to take another drink of beer.
The Senior took advantage of the break in the student's litany and said, "You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young..... so we invented them. Now, you arrogant little twerp, what are you doing for the next generation?"
The applause was resounding...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Category: Apple
Got one of these today. Haven't fiddled with it yet. May well report back. FWIW

Category: Transport
Fascinating collection of 7 unusual propeller driven vehicles. No prop-driven tram though, unfortunately.

Category: Idol
It is often said that more people vote for American Idol than in the US Presidential election. Tim Blair appears to have evidence that it is not even approximately true.

Monday, October 01, 2007
Category: Fillums
And speaking again of Phillip K. Dick, Blade Runner Redux -- ohmigod, Scott's doing a Lucas.

Category: Mathematics/Security
"To help combat the terrorism threat, officials at Los Angeles International Airport are introducing a bold new idea into their arsenal: random placement of security checkpoints. Can game theory help keep us safe". Fascinating stuff, reminds me of one of those Phillip K. Dick stories.

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