Tram Town
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Category: Political correctness

A "recent decision by New Zealand's opposition National Party to name one of its lawmakers, Wayne Mapp, as a spokesman on eradicating 'political correctness'."

One of Mapp's discoveries was that "both Qantas and Air New Zealand have now confirmed that they would not seat a child traveling alone next to an adult male passenger".

I guess I'm just not "with the program" but that seems very wrong to me. As stated by a bloke who was moved at the start of a flight:
"Men are being demonized in the media for a long time now. I think probably this is just society's reaction -- they think, 'We'd better start tightening up on everything.' It's getting to the stage when all men are viewed with distrust," he said.
"They've already chased men out of the teaching profession, especially for young children. I wouldn't want to be a Scoutmaster now. I wouldn't want to be a Catholic priest ..."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Category: Country
Tim Blair's latest column in the Bulletin is well worth a read, he tells a little story of an evening last week "where the lights are shinin' on me".

Monday, November 28, 2005
Category: VDL
A bunch of my mates got together and took a vote and decided I'm a good bloke.

Sunday, November 27, 2005
Category: Humour (ark, ark, ark)
Longish, occasionally simplistic, and (I suspect) concatenated article on Australian current comedy!

Category: Images
Courtesy of Zoe Brain's blog, at a wonderful piece of GIF animated wallpaper.

Category: Sex
Tech Central Station (in the poolroom at right) pointed at an article in a Maryland community newspaper with the following:
The county school system is re-thinking its definition of sexual abstinence after complaints from two parents that their children were receiving incorrect and even risky information in sex ed classes.
Karen Sees and Cindy Richards said the ‘‘contraception comparison chart” used in eighth-grade health class at Herbert Hoover Middle School describes three types of abstinence: No intercourse, withdrawal (ejaculation outside of the body) and rhythm (no intercourse during ovulation).
‘‘Since when did the term abstinence change to include the two most ineffective forms of birth control possible?” said Cindy Richards of Potomac. ‘‘Here we have been teaching our kids that abstinence means not having sex, period. What kind of message is this [chart] sending?”
Teachers can be wrong in so many ways.

Saturday, November 26, 2005
Category: Space TFF
Jeez, I'm sure glad I'm not an astronaut! Maybe they could smuggle a couple of small cows on board. (hmmm, smoking would be a bit of a problem too, I guess)

Friday, November 25, 2005
Category: Festive Season
Office Christmas parties apparently take a shocking toll on photstat machines! (...wish I got invited to some of those parties)

Category: Art
Good news from the Hun! Melbourne is going to get blue trees after all.

Thursday, November 24, 2005
Category: Almost Dead Celebrities
That Brainy Gal pointed this out to me. KVJ is one of my favourite authors but I suspect he hasn't been the same since the fire. His opinions, though, are pretty much in character IMHO.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Category: Television
Here's a nice page with the TV guide for the night that we officially made the change to colour.
I remember staying up to see Countdown but of all the shows in the guide I think Sir Eric Pierce doing Nine's Epilogue at 2:30am would be the one that I wish I could see again.
I came across this because I was trying to find an image of the old test pattern. Remember test pattern music? SBS used to sell what they played by phone order and people put the test pattern on just for the music. Foxtel's sound only stations are okay but I can't seem to find how to work out what I am listening to. Anyone?

Category: Digital
We've taken a while to convert to Foxtel Digital because it never looked like a great deal to me. It is true that you get a few more channels and a few time-shifted version of existing channels but the whole thing is way more remote control -centric and they charge you to "up"grade and then they charge you more per month. We knew the time for the shutdown of the analog network was nigh and an offer of a $10 "up"grade came by and the 10-year-old was as keen as mustard and so we went ahead and booked in the technician's visit.
What to report?
  1. + The picture is definitely better particularly where the source is not NTSC.
  2. - The remote is lumpy and heavy
  3. - There is no single click surfing button (up/down channel) There is single click surfing but it has slow response
  4. - I need to wear my glasses to see the on screen instructions
  5. - You need to see the on screen instructions to use it
  6. - Documentary channels are lumped with news channels and require a page down to get to them
  7. - The set top box only has co-axial S/PDIF (no TOSLink optical)
  8. - No channel display on the front of the set top box
  9. + The i button usually provides useful information
  10. + The technician knew what he was doing and said my install was the quickest he had ever done
  11. - He still insisted on teaching me how to use the remote control
  12. - It made two phone calls this morning that I knew nothing about until I heard the phone tinkle. Why? (the lead is now unplugged)
  13. - The STB seems to have a delayed response to clicks on the remote
I will add to this list as time goes by.
The summary is: don't rush unless you have specific needs or you often watch movies on Foxtel (thought I can't imagine why you would).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Category: Animation
This is sorta cool (if not platform independant) Flipbook Generator -- generate an old-time flipbook from your .avi movies.

Monday, November 21, 2005
Category: Audio Snake Oil
I had to buy an optical Toslink (or more properly EIAJ optical) cable from Jaycar and before going down there (about 1km east of here) I checked out existence and cost on the website. Imagine my surprise to discover the following amazing facts:
  • These are high performance non-migration interconnection cables utilising 99.96% pure OFC
  • 24 carat hard gold plated contacts
OFC, by the way, is oxygen free copper which is going to be a bit of a problem given that the cable is meant to convey information in the optical spectra. Gold plated contacts, while very attractive, would appear to be less than perfect (unless very thin as on astronauts' helmets) as a high efficiency conductor of light.
I mentioned these little observations to the salesguy and he said that I might imagine how embarrassing it is to work there.
I wanted the cable to ensure my Foxtel {d,D}igital upgrade goes as smoothly as possible. That is happening tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!

Category: Audio
Coming to you from beautiful Santa Barbara, the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. Apparently it has recently been Slashdotted so YMMV but I thought it was a terrific piece of work.

Sunday, November 20, 2005
Category: Space TFF
Not sure that I agree totally (I'd personally question 5,6,8,9)
(Hello! Solaris, Silent Running, Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, (maybe) Lang's Metropolis (FWIW)) etcetera Top 10 Space Fillums, (sorry, Metropolis probably wasn't space, was it?)
UPDATE: As it turns out, the Poll is still on so my 5,6,8,9 comments are even more invalid than most of my posts as the site rankings appear to be changing in real time

Category: Duh!!
From today's Hun:
PARTY drug-users are dipping into their taxpayer-funded welfare cheques to buy drugs, it has been revealed.
And the article acts as if it is all a bit of a surprise...
The revelations have angered the Australian Families Association.
President Bill Muehlenberg said governments should have the power to revoke dole cheques for those caught using them for drugs.
Revelations Schmevelations! If they'd rung me up I could have told them.

Saturday, November 19, 2005
Category: Domestic
I just used this for the first real time and I reckon it was as good as a Victa for my (almost) 1/4 acre block!

Category: France
I've been following the main stream media coverage of the French riots and knew that hundreds of cars had been torched. What I hadn't heard was that "One dozen Christian churches were defiled, ransacked and/or torched by rioters in France during the intifada". Because of so little coverage it is hard to establish the veracity of the story and I will take down this post if it turns out to be a beatup but, if not, I'll leave this comment from somebody who goes by the name of Gandalin:
Just imagine for a minute that instead of crowds of jihadists shouting "Allah Akbar" and burning churches, gangs shouting "Christ is King" had burned 12 mosques. Don't you think that would have been a gigantic day-after-day story for the MSM?

Category: Telly
Did Dick? Dick Did! Clever Dick.

Category: Ejacashun
Slatts has pointed out that the Bangkok Post has this to say:
IF you were thinking of sending your child to an Australian school, think again. Teachers addled by New Age nonsense about “outcomes-based education” have sent standards plunging and schools have been captured by trendy ideologues more interested in remaking society than teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.
Even BugMeNot is failing me for access to the original but apparently the article was based on a report by Kevin Donnelly. Kevin's book Why Our Schools Are Failing is available online for free in PDF format.

[ Jack, if your computer doesn't display the chapters correctly give us a hoi and I'll send the eldest over to make it work. It's well worth a look if only for the final chapter with some explanations of edubabble. ]

Friday, November 18, 2005
Category: Telecommunications
Hmm, I'd missed this piece of information which I guess may've come out during the AGM. Dominant Phone Company changes strategy on ADSL/Voice network.

Category: Religion
Thanks to that Brain Gal for pointing it out, it looks like they've produced the Big Dummies Guide to Catholicism!

Category: Politics
Over at the Oz Politics Blog, Bryan has a rough analysis of an interesting survey of candidates for the last federal election. While sample sizes are small and questions a tad pointed, the results certainly warrant a read.
The question was, ‘How proud are you to be an Australian?’ While 96 per cent of Coalition candidates were very proud to be an Australian almost two thirds of the Green’s candidates were either not very proud or not proud at all. It provides an interesting context for Howard’s use of the dog-whistle term, ‘un-Australian’.
I've always had a problem with this sort of pride. I certainly feel lucky or even pleased to be Australian but I can't be proud of something that I achieved by chance so I think the question is semantic gobbledygook. I am, however, quite proud of many of Australia's achievements on the world stage in recent years.
Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the article is that Antony Green has posted a comment. Go read!

Category: Fashion
Just in from the BBC (well... a bit over a week ago actually):
A teenager has successfully challenged a court bid forcing her to wear an electronic ankle tag as she said it would not look right with a skirt.
As noted by Evil Pundit
Coming soon: convicted rapists released from prison on the grounds that it interferes with their sex life.

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Category: Theatre
More than you ever wanted to know about ventriloquism. (I'm surprised that my youngest hasn't taken this up as well)

Category: Technology
During the sixties/early seventies, I used to build this sorta stuff too. That's sad! (I also built (as best I could) a "life-size" Dalek). (I did have the advantage of living near a tip so resources were readily available)

Category: Meeja
Your winning newspaper
THE Herald Sun has been honoured for excellence in journalism at Australia's premier media awards.
Six paragraphs on we learn which "premier" awards they were.
The News Awards honours were decided from a field of 36 newspapers produced by News Limited, Australia's leading media company.
They truly are "Limited" awards
and get this...
Hedley Thomas of Brisbane's The Courier-Mail last night won the prestige Sir Keith Murdoch Award for journalism in the inaugural News Awards.
It's the first time these very limited awards have been presented and there is already prestige associated with them. Could it be that Rupert's in Australia at the moment and might actually read one of his rags and note the wonderful support he receives from editorial staff?

Category: Fillums
(I'm turning into a serial poster) When I was much younger I was a member of the State Fillum Centre and was able to take advantage of their large lending collection. It's good to see that it's still going. (in fact, I reckon you might be able to get some fillums that I worked in/on -- FWIW)

Category: Fillums
I was a huge fan of 80's synth-pop and this documentary looks worth a look.

Category: Fillums
I reckon this looks an absolute cracker, I'll be getting out to see it in the next coupla' weeks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Category: Jihad
This is a bizarre twist in the terrorism story:
RADICAL Muslims needed the permission of their mothers to carry out jihad, or holy war, Abdul Benbrika allegedly told his followers.
and this:
"If you mother says no jihad, then no jihad."
Court documents allege [the suspect] asked permission to undertake jihad from his mother two days later.
The documents do not detail her response.

Category: Music Stupidity
Sony BMG Australia's personnel manager has admitted that Sony BMG (world) is putting malicious code onto computers. In this article in yesterday's TTT, Emmanuel Candi said:
... only CDs made at a local factory in Huntingwood, Eastern Creek, were being distributed by the Australin unit of Sony BMG
However, he did not rule out the possibility of CDs containing the copy protection software being sold in Australia as retailers were allowed to import CDs directly if they wished.
"In that case, the responsibility would lie with the importer," he said when asked who would accept responsibility for such CDs.
By taking the opportunity to discredit parallel importing, he is both criticising the parent company's policies and denying that it has any responsibility for the results of its policies.
Keep digging that hole, Sony, there's a lot of you to bury.

Monday, November 14, 2005
Category: RDC
FWIW -- Drucker.

Category: Transport
Pursuant to previous posts, most recently and specifically this, Les seems to have had better luck. Warning! Big Plane, Big Download! (QT7 may be required)


I saw the A380 at Tulla. But I got there after the landing so that picture is about it! The back road was bumper-to-bumper and I had to wait about an hour to get back out of the place. Why would anyone go all that way to see a tailplane? Beats me. And anyway, doesn't anyone work anymore?
UPDATE: In breaking news on the Hun's website the following claim was made: "The top of the aircraft's fuselage is as high as a seven-storey building and can carry up to 840 passengers"! If they include the bottom as well, what is the total human manifest count?
Also: "A Victoria Police spokesman said the visit caused traffic chaos on the Tullamarine Freeway and Sunbury Road near the airport". You're darn tootin' it was chaos. I was there in a 5km queue just to get back onto the main road.
UPUPDATE: If it is seven storeys high, how come we can't see it over the top of that 3-4 storey terminal just obscuring the extended, extended, extended upper deck?

Sunday, November 13, 2005
Category: Art
Cave fails to cave in! I reckon that's fantastic! As Semi and I well know, beer (in our case) and smokes (in my case) play a pivotal role in performance art and should not be easily dismissed.

Saturday, November 12, 2005
Category: Academia
I'm gonna have to get this. (except this and this are more interesting sites, sorry).

Category: Art
This one seems to be being constructed without taxpayer's money but they are still able to completely baffle me...
Titled groundings, the platforms will "become surfaces in flux, constructing a spatial poetics based in movement, transition and time", say [the artists].
What the heck does that mean?

Category: About time
Sony halts production of music CDs with copy-protection scheme

Category: Who knew?
John Travolta has a house shaped like an airport terminal and is an official Qantas pilot. He's going to be part of the Qantas birthday celebrations and, apparently, witness the Airbus A380 visit.

Friday, November 11, 2005
Category: Humour (vulgar)

A man goes to the zoo.

When he gets there, there was only a dog.

It was a shitzu.

Category: Transport
I can't find a direct link but apparently the Airbus A380 (the world's biggest commercial aircraft yet to enter service) will be making a brief stop over in Melbourne next Monday, landing at Tulla around midday and flying out Tuesday around 9:am. I'd love to get out there if I get a chance (unlikely at the moment). Some background information here. Thanks Les.

Category: Politics
The Wikipedia has quite a comprehensive article about the events of this day in 1975 which includes the following...
It is notable that although the crisis was described as Australia's most dramatic political event since Federation in 1901, it caused no disruption in the services of government; it saw the parties remaining committed to the political and constitutional process by contesting the subsequent election and accepting the result. The crisis did precipitate one constitutional change, passed by referendum in 1977, to require that State Governments fill Senate vacancies with a member of the Party of the original holder of the seat. This would not have prevented Bjelke-Petersen from replacing Milliner with Field, but it would have prevented Lewis from replacing Murphy with Bunton.
The great crisis which lead to an election. We have a very mild life here in Australia.
My extremely trivial insight is that while Gough Whitlam is often quoted on his "Kerr's cur" (he couldn't help being a smartarse even in that most dour of situations), the word cur has not become any more frequently used than it was before. Before clicking here, can you tell me what it means?

Category: Theatre
Eps IV-VI The Musical!

As noted before, Sony CDs often do nasty things to your computer. If they get to infect your computer they provide a backdoor for other more malignant nasties to get in. It's their IP and they can try to protect it but not if it is harmful to my property. I will be consciously avoiding Sony music until they put this right.
From the Washigton Post an article on this same subject (so it's not just me cherry picking right wing stories from Fox!) quotes a Sony music division head honcho as saying
Right now it would be possible for us, and I’ve often thought it would cheer me up to do it, you could dispatch a virus to anybody whose files contain us or Columbia records, and make them listen to four hours of Yanni ... but in the end we’re going to have to get serious about encryption and digital-rights management and watermarking.
This in March of 2001! And, sure, perhaps he was being facetious but these sort of statements breed a certain culture and it can (and DOES) lead to unpleasant policies.

Thursday, November 10, 2005
Category: Apple
Some little known facts about Macs.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Category: mp3
Hmmm, handsfree iPod Nano accessory.

Category: US Politics
Mister Rogers would be proud. Welcome to my neighbourhood! (WARNING: extreme bolshie and download warning)

Category: Apple
Gosh! 1,000,000 Windows users have crossed over!
Whether this is the iPod "Halo" effect, superior engineering, design or not I don't know but it surely must take our world-wide market share to what? 3.5%?

Monday, November 07, 2005
Category: Transport
I was here last week, researching a potential work xmas function venue, and, by jingo, it's an absolute cracker (not a fantastic website, but).

Category: Headlines
Tim Blair is covering the riots in France quite thouroughly. I had to post one of his headlines here:
The Paris that Ate Cars

Sunday, November 06, 2005
Category: Media
(Not totally sure about current Geographic Accuracy) But a few years back, the Headline would've read:
Bert, Bendigo st. Back!

Saturday, November 05, 2005
Category: Domestic
I just bought one of these (FWIW, not for any specific environmental reasons, I needed a new motor mower and this had gotten good reviews) and it's an absolute cracker. I wanted to buy it from a standard retail channel but they were out of stock. Our friend HTC Simon was in the shop at the time and told me I was a silly bugger (I knew that anyway) as the Australian Head Office was up in Gilbert Street Preston and I should head over there.
The (older) lassie who served me there would not sell me one until I'd tried it out. (this is where it gets good). They specifically chose their Head Office as it abuts unmaintained Council property on both sides of the building. She made me go out and cut some grass for about five minutes -- she genuinely WOULD NOT SELL ME A PRODUCT until I tried it. She then knocked around $100 off the price after we'd been chatting for a bit so I got it for $500 which I'm pretty happy with (bit pricey for a mower but on-costs should be less (your mileage may vary)).

Friday, November 04, 2005
Category: Broadcasting
On Jon Faine's show this morning, Hilary Harper's traffic report had mention of an accident on the ring road, city bound. Hello Hilary? It's a ring road.

Category: DRM
An article in Information Week notes:
Sony is apparently borrowing a tactic from hackers for its digital-rights management technology, and some security experts question the practice.
In truth, the horse has bolted. If they want CDs to be playable on legacy equipment, they will be rippable to a PC. Of course, even when they do break legacy players things don't go all their way. A few months ago I bought a CD which simply would not play on my three year old portable player. My only choice for listening to the music was to rip and burn. Once it was on my PC I started making copies for other people. I probably would not have done this if the CD had played properly in the first place.
Just note, though, if you put an audio CD into your computer and it asks to install software, say NO! Also turn off auto_play for all of the CD drives in your PC. On Macintoshes this doesn't matter because they don't do anything useful.

Thursday, November 03, 2005
Category: Rort?
From today's Hun:
VICROADS staff ate and drank their way through thousands of dollars of breakfasts, morning teas and lunches, courtesy of the taxpayer.
Documents obtained by the State Opposition show almost $24,000 was spent on food in the four months to March.
Staff ate treats such as cheese platters, chicken drumettes and party pies.
The smallest bill charged by a catering firm was $4.40 for coffee.
The largest outlay was on December 8 by the road safety department, which included $282 for lunch and afternoon tea, and $841 for drinks.
Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said it was an extraordinary amount of money to spend when many Victorian roads were desperately in need of repair.
"You have to question whether this is money well spent," Mr Mulder said.
VicRoads defended the spending, which was for all-day meetings, training sessions and workshops.
"VicRoads provides modest catering for staff, stakeholder representatives and business contacts," a VicRoads spokesman said.
"Included in the total catering figure is a substantial amount of self catering, where employees purchase goods from a local supermarket to keep costs down."
You'd reckon they could find something a bit more substantial to criticise as an opposition in Brakistan, wouldn't you? And how much tarmac does "almost $24,000" buy, anyway?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Category: Service
The young people who run the Brunswick Baths have got good heads on their shoulders - NOT.
I took my boys down there for a swim this Cup Day morning and they had the operating hours of the various pools taped up on the glass entry door, the sliding glass entry door, the sliding glass entry door that quickly disappears into an opaque hidey hole as soon as you get close enough to read it. I was not the only one that ended up doing a dance as I tried to capture the message in a step forward, read as much as possible, step back and wait for the door to close, [REPEAT]. It turns out the message probably applied to very few of the punters and I think the front counter staff may have stuck it up so they could watch the dance routine.
Incidentally, the above linked entry in the Wikipedia had today's winner in the historical list within seconds of the end of the race.

Category: Scientists
I hadn't come across this bloke before (and, more specifically, his work on the Speed of Light caper). Thanks TTT. (can't find a direct link but).

Category: Technology
I'd been meaning to take up sewing for a while now.

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