Tram Town
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Category: Saddam
James D. Miller comes up with a strong case for not putting Saddam on trial. The reasoning goes that it would be politically unacceptable for Saddam to be found not guilty so the trial would by nature have only one outcome. This argument might well have applied in Nuremberg or in the case of Milsovic in The Hague.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Category: Searching
MooterSearch seems to fill a much-needed gap between Kartoo and Google. I'll be using it for the next few weeks and will report if it turns out bad or good (no report for a middling result, however!).

Monday, December 29, 2003
Category: Earthquake
The Australian editorial says a lot about the horrible business in Iran:
As if the region did not have enough problems, the Middle East has ended the year with a crushing humanitarian disaster. Friday's earthquake in Bam, in southeastern Iran, has claimed at least 20,000 lives, and possibly twice that number.
but this...
It is a great pity the Iranian ayatollahs cannot match this level of generous human response, even when it is their own people who are suffering: they have specifically rejected any assistance from Israel, the country in the region with the capacity to do the most to help.
is one of the saddest things I have read for some time. (I have spent some time trying to work out how to word this so that no-one could interpret it as being irony, it is NOT! The reports about Iran's insistence on no Israeli assistance literally brought tears to my eyes.)

Category: People
Nothing particularly new in this post but I came across articles about two people about whom you could never say "get a life". We all know how long Strom Thurmond served as a senator both Democratic and Republican but we should look a little closer at his life to wonder if we could "live" a bit harder (unusual vaginal muscular dexterity?). The links could go on forever but I leave it as an exercise to the reader.
Perhaps not so long-lived but still going strong is this Jacko security man who says "It's a funny job, mate".

Category: Advertising
AdAge.com published a list of 10 Ads America Won't See. Number one is hilarious (high bandwidth warning applies). Pointed out by Glenn Reynolds.

Sunday, December 28, 2003
Category: Nuts
While watching the horrible earthquake footage from Iran, somebody in the room facetiously suggested that Dubya probably caused the earthquake. Of course the braindeads over at Democratic Underground have considered, deliberated and decided already that it was definitely caused by the US President.
I am really pointing at this because of the great photoshopped Iwo Jima image which I will include here so you don't have to crawl through the muck that is Democratic Underground.

I wonder which of those guys is Ira Hayes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Category: Technology
The Spaceship and the Zeppelin on SpaceDaily draws some strong parallels between the two forms of transport which the author, Jeffery F. Bell, feels augers badly for the US manned spaceflight program.

Category: News
Tex over at WhackingDay.com pointed out a must read article on the state of al-Qaida at FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE.com. My summary: perhaps Osama is not as smart as some people think. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Category: Technology (ancient)
Victorian era Robots.

Category: Fillums
Oh Good! Just what the world needs. 22 "Special Directors Limited/Special Edition" Matrix Theatrical & TV & Spot Trailers!

Category: Blogs Bleats
It's good to see LILEKS (James) The Bleat back on the job after a week-or-so's break.

Monday, December 22, 2003
Category: Science
"Natural climate change may have started civilisation" according to Doctor Harvey Weiss quoted in an article in The Economist (no direct link to the economist home page from me because they are the only company that has ever treated me wrongly in an online credit card transaction).

Sunday, December 21, 2003
Category: Beta
In that Sony history that I wrote about a few weeks ago, there wasn't much said about why Beta failed in the consumer field. An article on the Guardian site makes a number of interesting obsrvations, amongst them:
Instead of poring over the sound and picture quality, reviewers could simply have taken the systems home. Their spouses/children/grandparents and everybody else would quickly have told them the truth. "We're going out tonight and I want to record a movie. That Betamax tape is useless: it isn't long enough. Get rid of it."
It appears that VHS would have been a lot less likely to get a foothold if Sony had come up with a two hour tape. Also, specifying blank tapes by their physical length (see picture) rather than their play/record time seems to be the sort of mistakes only a technician would make.
On The AFU and Urban Legend Archive lots of Beta/VHS myths are debunked, notably the whole "technically better" thing:
Comparisons between VCRs with similar features showed no significant differences in performance. In fact, most of the differences could only be seen with sensitive instruments, and likely would never show up on most consumer grade television sets. In particular, the qualitative differences between the two formats were less than the differences between any two samples from the same manufacturer.
They both looked pretty average compared with decent broadcast quality so the so-called technical superiority was at best a purist's argument. It seems to me that both formats would do the job for most punters but having two formats meant that advances such as the Hi-Fi variants came way more quickly.

Category: Technology
I find Joy of Tech to be unfunny on the whole but this Mac Eye for the Windows Guy was great.

Friday, December 19, 2003
Category: Current Festive Season
Have a Christmas!

What energy source is noisy, a visual blight on the pristine countryside, taxpayer and ratepayer subsidized, a hazard to birds (including endangered species), the subject of a $100 million cleanup/restoration operation in California and two to three times more costly to produce than an identical substitute? If you guessed wind generation of electricity, you are correct.
What energy source requires over 100 times the space of conventional electric power plants, is located in pristine desert areas, is taxpayer and ratepayer subsidized, and produces the most expensive electricity on earth at twice the cost of nuclear power? If you guessed solar farm generation of electricity, you are also correct.
Robert Bradley Jr published this through the Cato Institute in 1997 and some people still don't get it.

Category: Audio
Leon is going to help rid the world of pesky vocalists.
When it comes to creating quality vocal tracks, Yamaha's VOCALOID singing synthesis technology literally changes everything. The future will now be very different. The last bastion of human musical expression - the singing voice - has been realistically harnessed in synthesis. Now it's time for YOU to express your music in YOUR own words. You can sing your heart out - through LEON, LOLA, MIRIAM, and other VOCALOID virtual vocalists from Zero-G, thanks to the incredible new technology developed by Yamaha.
I've listened to the mp3's. It works!

Category: Technology
This disk drive will change the way we use PDA's.

Category: TramTown
I try to keep an eye on what's happening about town but I invariably fail. Last Friday I failed big time not knowing about the TCB Band's performance down at the Palais. Why didn't one of you miserable bastards tell me?

Thursday, December 18, 2003
Category: Recently Dead Celebrities
Tch, Tch, Tch (wish I could remember the symbols)! What's that Skip? But what I didn't know was that Lisa Goddard (Clancy, from memory, my first crush) was subsequently married to Alvin Stardust -- Go Figure!

Category: Science
Bjørn Lomborg vindicated.

Category: 60's Science Fiction
Daniel Bowen makes an interesting observation.

Category: Journalism
I hadn't known about Katie Couric's "colonoscopy on video and in vibrant living color" until Tim Blair mentioned it in passing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Category: Python
As a Python developer myself and a person who has thrown way too much money at George Lucas over the years, it interests me to see that they use my favourite language.

Category: Computing
Axe Group, a company where an old and dear friend of ours has an interest is mentioned in this article in Computerworld.

Category: Music
Andrew Denton's take on Stairways to Heaven was very stylish as well as being funny. The Stairway Suite, which includes a Glen Miller "version", is all CLASS. I discovered it after finding the blog of A.E.Brain - "Intermittent postings from Canberra, Australia on Software Development, Space, Politics, and Interesting URLs. And of course, Brains...".

Category: Poetry
Via Tim Blair, Some Redneck Haikus at IOWAHAWK.

Monday, December 15, 2003
Category: Audio
DB has probably already pointed to this but I can't remember when. MacFOH version 2.0 (when it arrives) will be an absolute cracker and might be just the ticket for our local theatre (it's a bit expensive, but).

Sunday, December 14, 2003
Category: Kids
When I was about 9 years old, I would have given anything for such a beautiful site of instructions for Cat's Cradle.

Category: Internet
Interesting concept. It still suffers from occasional packet loss however.

Saturday, December 13, 2003
Category: Environmentalism Religion
Michael Crichton's remarks to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Sep 15th this year make for great reading. BTW, this is the Michael Crichton who wrote The Andromeda Strain as well as some sillier things.
On a similar topic, see That Kyoto is a Fraud for the fourteen frauds perpetrated by the IPCC.

Thursday, December 11, 2003
Category: Ep III
Loads of spoilers

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Category: History
Milesago has been around since 1999 and has heaps of interesting Australian music stuff from 1964 to 1975. Includes this article about the legendary Thumpin' Tum.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Category: QANTAS
The Yobbo's horror story about the national carrier is funny and sad. I'm glad I didn't go through what he did. Read it all.
Oh, and... he coins a term new to me. Obvious but fun nonetheless: fauxmosexual. It reminds be of Imre Saluszinsky's faux dinkum which Imre happily applied to Macca and John Williamson.

Category: Internet
The UN Wants to Control the Internet By Tom DeWeese. Just what we need, Cuba, Saudi and China having a say on what should be allowed on the 'net. This is the United Nations that doesn't consider Taiwan worthy of representation even though it was once on the Security Council.

Category: Science
There cannot be many more offensive examples of the horror of Eco-Imperialism than the eco-activist crusade against DDT. 3,000 children dying everyday because DDT cannot be used in the fight against malaria as a result of bad science by the likes of Rachel Carson and many who followed her.

Category: Littachuh
SETIS: The Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service seems to be a useful database of texts. A smaller, more Australian Gutenberg Project.

Monday, December 08, 2003
Category: Internet
I am probably just naïve, but I had never heard of the Breidbart Index. I came across it while investigating the new BigPond uncapped $69.95 cable account. It makes the ADSL offerings from all parties look a bit shabby!

Category: Theatre Politics
The editorial in today's Oz has a nice theatrical reference about the last week of parliament for the year and the children's section of the Senate.

Sunday, December 07, 2003
Category: Google
Type "miserable failure" into Google and click on I'm feeling lucky. The Whitehouse bio for the President? Hmmm... how long this will work, I don't know.
Of course the words themselves appear nowhere on the page or in the HTML. The way the Google hack has been achieved is that terminally miserable pinkos everywhere are producing a link to the bio page using the text "miserable failure". On leftist blogs' comments sections you can frequently see comments with just this text and link. Google takes a second order approach to indexing and thus picks up these words as significant. Can you say "web guerilla"?
Interestingly, Kartoo, which I would have thought to be a bit more discriminating in its quest for information over pure data, also suffers at the hands of the information-age VC.
I have not searched far and wide but the miserable failure epithet seems to come from a Dick Gephardt speech.

Saturday, December 06, 2003
Category: Intellect
What is George W. Bush's first name? Who won the Second World War? Who came second?
Maybe this is all made up but it is funny anyway (much funnier if real, though).
UPDATE (only seconds later): it was, as I suspected a photoshop job. The original is nearly as funny in a sad cross-cultural mistake sort of sense.

Friday, December 05, 2003
Category: Ashtray Violations
The New York Times reports that 200 people have been charged with the heinous crime of possessing as ashtray...
In Brooklyn Heights, a video-store owner got a ticket for an ashtray that he says he used only to help a customer who walked in with a lighted cigarette in her hand. She had to put it out in something, no?
A more prominent New Yorker, Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, received a summons because of ashtrays in his Times Square office. Inspectors, who had gone there on a complaint about smoking, found no one puffing away. But they did spot the ashtrays. That was enough.
Found at Tim Blair. Also at Tim Blair, a Brit prison Guard fired for saying unpleasant things about O. B. Laden.

Thursday, December 04, 2003
Category: Gossip
Scurrilous gossip of the worst kind. Subscribe to PopBitch.
Chinese for "Internet cafe" is Wangka.

Category: Sony
About two weeks ago I mentioned a nice history of Sony on one of their official websites. I have since read the whole thing and consider it to be a really interesting read but it completely omits any mention of the Elcaset. Does anyone remember any other dud Sony products that don't get mentioned (don't need to read the whole thing, just mail me) (oh, by the way, Beta was not a failure, near as I can tell, Sony made quite a profit out of it long after it disappeared from consumer RADAR screens) (and remember they owned the namespace, I remember stories of people saying "I want a VHS Betamax). Oh, and what happened to the Elcaset when it was clearly Finnished?

Category: Medicine
My father often said: "you don't have to be dead to be stiff". Many of the clients of the Advanced Medical Institute wish that were true. Unfortunately the claims of the institute seem not to have been as founded in fact as you might expect. The word institute gets the bullshit bells ringing every time. (Just in case you didn't know, the latter institute rings the bells far softer for me than the former institute)

Category: Computers
Years ago we heard of wonderful achievements that DEC had made with the design of VAX/VMS clusters and their potential to provide non-stop computing. It was treated at the time as so much marketing nonsense. We have been proved wrong. Back when they mattered, this would have made Tandem jealous...
What is unusual about this cluster is that it has been running since April 1997 despite the addition of machines, upgrades to the operating system, upgrades to applications, a changeover to a SAN architecture and even the physical relocation of the machines to a new site some seven kilometers away. Yet, through all these changes the cluster has provided continuous IT services to the Amsterdam rozzers.
The current up-time for the cluster is about 2430 days, or more than six years, with the installation of the oldest hardware, an FDDI concentrator, only 1650 days ago, while the oldest computer system was installed about three years ago.
Your level of admiration is probably tempered by suspicion of definitions of "uptime" but by any standards (except perhaps those of traffic light controllers) this is a pretty admirable result.
Thanks to Clive for pointing this article out.

Monday, December 01, 2003
Category: Art
DB, we must go to this:

Pop in aesthetic, punk in sensibility, the concert poster provides the vital 'word on the street' for music aficionados.
For those in TramTown, take the 86 tram in Bourke Street nearly all the way and then get off and walk through the park.

Category: Older Technology
Jeez, this is good.

Category: Statistics
With spectacular insight, The Age has stated "Victoria can expect average weather conditions this summer".

Category: Technology
Interesting article on the iPod, slightly fawning. If you're short of time skip the first half (although I wouldn't mind learning more about The Andrews) and just read from "The Guts" down.

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