Categories
asides

Crash Test Videos

Car Crash Test Videos: the Smart ForTwo (70mph, full head on) vs the Chery Amulet (don’t know speed, partial head on). The Smart comes off remarkably well, while the Chery completely collapses to the B pillar (i.e. a Bad Thing). (via) (bonus! A plane in a crash test against a wall completely disintegrating)

Categories
asides

We the Robots

New favourite web comic of the week: We the Robots. It’s so very wrong, and yet so very, very good.

Categories
opinion

The Rat is Gone

Howard lost!

Can’t believe it’s finally happened. I mean, it’s been looking like it was going to happen for the last month for sure, even more so at the start of the week, but it was just like supporting the Indian cricket team – you look only through the cracks in your fingers, hoping against hope that the trend that is as plain as anything eventually turns into the result desired. You could never put it past Howard’s Coalition to pull one more rabbit out of the hat.

And now our Prime Minister is one Mr. K. Rudd. (Ed: Crap, did no one look at that initialised form?) The Liberals are in disarray as the loss reverberates, Costello taking the very smart option of going while the going is worth it – good not quite being the operative term here – and who can really blame him? 13 long years he waited, and was denied time and time again.

Now as a conscientious member of the anti-establishment left-liberal chardonnay-sipping brigade, what do we do when the people we were supporting get in? Colour me miffed (a light magenta, I suspect).

Categories
the daily column

Going North

(Ed: backdated for lack of internet access)

Perhaps the best demonstration that England was the place where the train was invented, pioneered, is the sheer number of lines and stations that criss cross the capital – the Underground aside, there is at least 10 ‘main line’ stations just within the Underground’s ‘Zone 1’, nominally the centre of the city.

How is this proof? Only early on would the unplanned, disconnected system have been sensible – the better for the many nascent companies to compete; allowing our customers to change to a competitor simply a way of throwing money away. The evolution of thought is reflected in the ‘grand central’ stations of the colonies – Sydney Central, Melbourne’s Spencer St Southern Cross, Delhi Central, New York’s Grand Central – single stations marshalling points for the assorted destinations serviced.

As my train, the 8:03 to Glasgow, pulls out of Euston station, the history long forgotten under the Virgin Trains brand, I notice something strange about the countryside. That light dusting of white isn’t morning frost – not when it’s on the roofs of houses and cars, on the rocks by the rails. It’s an early snow of the season, as if the whole land had been sprinkled with icing.

Suddenly, the name ‘icing’ makes that much more sense.

The early light makes the rushing landscape look like a faded image, a photograph left on the shelf for too long. The quaint literary images that once sounded like a dream-world throw themselves onto the landscape. Examination from a distance and at speed is impossible, but it makes an impression no less, contrasting sharply with my nominal home country and its more untamed landscape.

The race north keeps the sun low in the sky, the angle of the light never peaking higer than mid-morning of summer, subjectively only a few short months earlier.

A pause, a conversation with chance-met strangers. A philosopher and an idealist; another a fellow Australian, the election called; I hide my pleasure for the sake of

Birmingham, one of the landmark cities. Now the landscape is damp; whatever early morning snow has fallen here has since melted, the transient white coating replaced by the sheen of water. The accents are thicker up here, a lilting rythmn entering the voices. There’s a canal by the side of the train line, a second mode of transportation, now largely disused in favour of the more efficient overland routes.

The grey blanket of clouds lays thick over the landscape, filtering the light. A moment of despair for this summer child, for it is rare enough to see blue sky in this country, let alone absorb some sunlight.

The journey continues, through former industrial heartlands.

Categories
asides

The Future of Reading

The Future of Reading  (A Play in Six Acts): Mark Pilgrim’s insightful words on Amazon’s new Kindle device.

Categories
pushing the sky

“Homepage”

When did this place become a ‘blog’ instead of a ‘homepage’?

Or was it ever a ‘homepage’?

I remember back in the day (10 whole years ago!), people didn’t have ‘blogs’, they had ‘home pages’. It was different for one reason: a blog you’re expected to update, and is supposed to be for people to look in. A home page, on the other hand, didn’t need to update for months on end (but that didn’t stop you from checking back every day if it was a really good home page).

But then… but then, the online diary, the web log came along, and the mishmash ended, and everyone transitioned to the blog. The extra bits of the home page – the carefully crafted, hand built HTML of pages past all gone, replaced by the march of time-stamps and updates to show you were still alive.

The borg of blogs hastened assimilation with the combined might of the blogging software and RSS essentially redefining and replacing the need for refreshing a home page, the need to revisit sites to see if something’s changed – you don’t go to the content, the content comes to you.

Let’s be honest – any blog might be a place to visit, but it’s by no means a ‘home’ you can wander in whenever you wish. ‘House page’ also doesn’t have the same ring to it. So somewhere along the way, I think we lost the homepage, the collection of random that constituted the online existence. I lost my list of links for a blogroll, and I’ve even lost that since in an effort at simplification.

It’s something I’m working to restore. I’m going to go back to the home page, the home over the blog alone. This will necessitate moving away from having WordPress do everything for me – for me to actually crank out an angle bracket or two again. It’ll probably break the ‘permalinks’ too, but it’s got to be done. It’s no longer a home, and I didn’t set out to do that.

Categories
review

Movie Review: The Prestige

“The audience knows the truth; the world is simple, miserable, solid all the way through. But if you can fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, then you get to see something very special – you really don’t know it? It was the look on their faces.”

Wow. What a screwball of a movie. Just when you really think you’ve got it more or less figured out, it jumps sideways at you. It’s a real magicians trick of a movie – afterwards, when the trick is explained, you pick up the little clues, and think “Oh yeah, I could’ve told you that from the start.” But, of course, you can’t, hence the brilliance.

★★★★

Categories
asides

Restaurant Review

A truly masterful restaurant review:

“[M]y great-grandfather… was the one who had the gumption to escape the region of Eastern Europe which has supplied Divo’s inspiration.

He saved me from having to eat this stuff every day. Thank you Josef. I owe you.

This is jounralism to print out and frame (via).

Categories
asides

Three Panel Soul

The guys from MacHall are back and I didn’t even know it! The comic is Three Panel Soul, and it is muchos sweetness. (no, really)

Categories
the daily column

Autumn in London

There is a chill in the air that is undeniable now, a distinct snap to the edge of the wind that makes it much too tempting to stay indoors at all times. It was exactly a year ago that I was leaving London for home, glad to be escaping the creeping cold and dark that I’d experienced for the first time – this year though, there’s no such quick escape.

The mornings are as cold as I’d ever experienced in Australia, at 3 or 4 degrees. I try to delay as much as possible leaving the house, the temptation of “working from home” hard to resist simply for not having to get out of bed. The midday sun is roughly at the height of the sun in Australia at 8 o’clock of a winter morning, the shadows stretching long towards the north. It’s still a month and a half yet to Midwinter’s.
Things that suddenly make sense that didn’t 6 months ago:

  • Thermal underwear
  • Overcoats
  • Beanies, gloves, and practically the full range of proper winter clothing
  • Ear muffs
  • Electric blankets
  • Soup
  • Frostbite

Things that don’t make sense any more:

  • People who argue that cold is better than warm weather because you can wear more clothes to make up for it.
  • People who live in colder places than this.

Feb 15th. That’s my final return date. Can’t friggen wait.