January 31, 2006

Horse 487 - One Hundred


A friend of mine has an American exchange student living with them for six months. I took them down the M4 out to Penrith and I guess that she must have seen the speedo and panicked a little.
"Are you sure this is safe? The dial says we're doing 105!"
"Yeah, that's about right, the limit is 110."
"110?! That's dangerous!"

It made me think a little bit and it seems that she either didn't realise or know that we use the metric system and kilometers and not miles. The signposted is only 68mph but somehow 100 seems scary. On the motorways in Britain traffic is limited to 70mph but cars will sit on 85 without nary a regard for the limit at all, even in fog.Move to Germany and 100km/h doesn't seem like a problem at all. In fact the little A3 Turbo I had was quite happy to cruise at 209km/h without skipping a beat. 209km/h works out to a shade under 130mph which is quite daunting indeed.

On the cricker field, 100 runs is a notable feat. At 100 most batsmen will be given a standing ovation. In fact so terrible is 100 to grasp that there are more batsmen who've fallen from 90-99 than there are from 80-89. The nervous nineties certainly exist.

In Britain 100 pounds requires two notes. In the US the 100 is the highest regular note (and the most commonly forged) as it is in Australia. In Australia its common to pull a couple of hundred dollars out of the bank to pay the electric or the rates, but you're more likely to see Uncle David than you are to see a budgie. In Japan on the other hand ¥100 is the standard coin, so you're more than likely to see loads of these pass through your wallet.

100°F means that you're running a fever or that it's very hot outside. 100°F sounds a lot nastier than 37.7°C which is precisely the same. Water boils at 100°C which I guess is when metric gets it's own back because 212°F just sounds dumb.

Mind you a Quarter Pounder at McDonalds sounds more appetising than a 113.5g-er and Hundreds & Thousands sound far more fun than nonpareils, Jimmies or sprinkles.

Maybe it's because in our decimal world, 100 with it's three digits looks big and impressive. Whatever the case, 100 is big and chunky.

January 30, 2006

Horse 486DX - Passing the Time at the Post Office

One thing I've found is that I've found novel and interesting ways to pass the time. I have this problem where I'll find myself in the front of a Post Office queue and no idea why I'm there. I haven't got any letters, I wont have any bills to pay, nothing, and I'll be there going:
"I just joined this queue, why did I join this queue? I don't know, there was people queuing here, I though it would be a good idea"
Cashier No 3 please.

Well maybe I'm not that bored that I have to play tricks on old ladies.
Cashier No 3 please. Cashier No 7 please. Cashier No 2 please.

Here's a thought, if you are a slightly older type person and happen to be bored and happen tohave not very much money, why not go down to the Post Office and play Counter Bingo? Just pick some random numbers and while you're standing there:
Cashier No 5 please. Cashier No 4 please. Cashier No 11 please.
Yes, Bingo!

Actually yes, if I'm not particularly doing much, I'll spend my whole day in a constant haze of daydreaming and thenI'll find myself snapped back into reality with loads of people looking at me funny. My life is basically like one big episode of Quantum Leap.

Oh boy.

Didn't he happen to say that a lot... you'd be watching and then a resigned Oh Boy. Wouldn't it be great if he'd jumped into the body of Buddy Holly.
Oh boy. When you're with me Oh Boy.
It's like the circle of life that Elton John sang about but not, that would be a bit crap wouldn't it?
The circle of life is a random Aussie bloke, talking about standing in a Post Office and then he talked about Buddy Holly, that's the circle of life!
All the antelopes are going "How are we meant to dance to this? When does he become the Lion King, I don't know"
The circle of life is like a man with a big foot on the desk, it's enough to make kings out of... midgets. I don't know the rest of the song. That's not how he plays the piano, not with antelopes standing about. He also probably fighting off a couple of angry midgets, mind you he did spend like £9,000,000 on flowers so it's not that much of a stretch, if you had that kind of money you wouldn't be bothered.

Cashier No 3 please.

Note to self: Try not to post stuff in a half conscious state at half three in the morning, the results are bizarre and strange.

Cashier No 9 please.

January 29, 2006

Horse 485 - Big Ol' Falcon

August 1977, this is one of the Falcons which in just 6 weeks time would pull off an historic 1-2 win for Ford in the Bathurst 1000. If you look at the old footage of racing Falcons of the 60s, 70s and 80s they always look so much bigger and nastier than the Toranas and Commodores they were up against. Then I found out something by accident.

The floorpan on the current 2006 BF Falcon is precisely the same as the XM of 1966. That's 40 years of continuos use on the same platform. The Falcon of today is exactly the same length and width as the ones of 40 years ago but something is distinctly different.

Back in the 1960s and 70s the Falcon was brought out here ad then developed long after the US and Canada had stopped. The 1969 model was the last built in North America and the XA was Australia's own. Somehow the syling cues didn't have to fit in with anything else anymore and so our Falcon became more agressive, bristling with scoops and flared wheel arches. In fact the XA saloon was the world's fastest four door car when it came out.

The XC was the basis for Mad Max's Interceptor and even to this day there are more of them being exported to America. Whether you like it or not, the Falcon had an air about it that if allowed would either come around to your house and rip your arms off, eat your children steal your thunder, rob from your grandma and then leave nothing but a smoking number 11 on the pavement.

The two door coupe probably took some cues from the Mach 1 Mustang, but somehow the Australian touch looks just that wee bit hungrier and faster. This is one of those cars I would get if money wasn't a problem and they were abundant; whether in Cobra or Super Roo variant, they looked ace then and just put the modern sanitised Falcon which was designed in a wind tunnel by computers to shame.

January 28, 2006

Horse 484 - Sushi-Meshi

There is a certain art to making sushi. For a lot of people it is the definitive in Japanese cuisine yet there are a lot of misconceptions about it, which is strange for something so minimalist.
The word sushi is a shortened way of saying its full name "sushi-meshi". The words actually mean "vinegared rice" and refer to about 30 different varieties all using the same rice base. The rice used is almost exclusively the Japonica variety, as long grain and short grain types which although are common have unfavourable qualities in terms of stickyness.

What you'll usually find in most sushi stores and for quick take-away are limited to pnly 3 basic types:

Inari - which are a hand pressed block with the neta (topping for want of a better word) draped over the top, these may be tied with seaweed (nori) if so desired.

Futomaki - These are the classic large rolls with the nori on the outside. Typical futomaki are two or three centimeters thick and four or five centimeters wide. They are often made with two or three fillings, chosen for their complementary taste and color. Increasingly in a faster paced society they are left uncut and can be as long as 15 centimeters long.

Temaki - A large cone-shaped trumpet (rather like the Belgian method of serving take-away chips except that they're smaller and you can eat the wrapping), with the nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters long, and is eaten with the fingers since it is too awkward to pick up with chopsticks.
I'm nopt entirely sure why but a lot of people immediately associate raw fish as being sushi. This is interesting as the Japanese word for fish is sakaki and the method of thinly slicing it is called sashimi.

Even more strange is that sushi is seen as an exotic food, whilst the ingredients and the equipment aren't common in Western homes, in Japan they are almost de riguer. A sushi in Japan would be as common as a meat pie in Australia, a burger in the US and a lamb roll in India. You can pick up a quick snack at most railways stations and Quick-Stops for about ¥100.
Really if you wanted a quick example of what a region's cuisine would be like then a bento (wooden lunch-box) would be a good way to go.

January 27, 2006

Horse 483 - Santa Monica Boulevard

Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard

It's interesting that this song should come on right now as I'm busily looking at places, maps and other things in the US of A.

The USA had an interesting system of national highways before motorways and high speed turnpikes started to criss-cross that country. It had 101 of them which were adorned with the National Highway Crest, in fact it was so hard to win a number, that some towns actually moved just so they'd be on the road.

Santa Monica Boulevard is an interesting road because it's actually named in two songs of note. Apart from "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow, the other one may surprise you. Written in 1946 by Bobby Troupe the song in question has been covered by about 200 different artists, the most notable being The Rolling Stones. Curious? I refer of course to none other then Route 66 - "The Mother Road", "The Will Rogers Highway".

Santa Monica Boulevard is the point in LA where the road finally meets its end. Since I don't intend to drive all of it on this trip, I'll be content with just a little bit of it.The other end of the road is none other than Grant Park on Adams Street in front of the Art Institute where less than 40 yards away in 1929, Al Capone gave his mates a Valentine's Day present that they'd never forget (or remember).

So why do I mention this today for? No real reason other than to re-use a picture, so HA!

January 26, 2006

Horse 482 - Straya Day

Australia Day is one of those strange days on the calendar that happens to be a public holday.
It is not known exactly when the Dutch landed on the west coast of Australia but we do know that Captain Jansz had established a settlement in 1606.

Captain Cook who discovered the east coast of Australia by accident landed in Botany Bay on the 20th of April 1770. The area in Port Jackson which eventually became the settlement of Sydney, was landed on 7th May 1770.

Botany Bay was to be the first point of the First Fleet. They arrived around the 20th January 1788, but moved on deciding that the area of Port Jackson was a better deep water port and so on 26th Jan 1788, the British flag was raised and so this bit of dirt was claimed in the name of the UK.

Australia as a nation didn't exist until an act of Parliament in the UK in 1900, gave Australia a constitution and the power to make Federal law of its own volition. The Commonwealth of Australia as we know it came into being at 1st Jan 1901 (which seeing as it's already a public holiday, we didn't need another).

By bizarre coincidence, India was recognised as a Republic on 26th Jan 1950. This is more Republic Day for India than Australia Day, for 26th Jan is more a date that has bearing in NSW rather than the nation. Certainly Proclamation Day in SA and Queensland Day have more relevance in those states than Australia Day does.

The most Australian thing about the holiday (apart from Sam Kekovich telling us to eat lamb) is that we get the day off. It's a great tradition in this country to watch other people do work, and a national day off... what could be more Australian than that? Plus we're the only nation that can eat the coat of arms.

On another tangent, it has been often suggested that we should change the name of the country to Straya because that's how most people in the country pronounce it. I think that this would be a grave mistake. Just think about it: if we did that then we'd start with the letter "S" (and brought to you by the number 9) which would mean that in the Olympic parade we'd be all the way down the back and by the time that nobody gives a two hoots anymore.

Post Script: Sri Lanka has been sent into bat in the ODI today. Cricket on Australia Day? Who'da thunk?

January 23, 2006

Horse 481 - B-Day From The Block

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got
I’m still, I’m still B-Day from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go
I know where I came from

Mr Daly... tch tch tch.

B-Day (pronounced bē-dā) - n. (Prop) A contraction of the name Brendan Daly, also with reference to him being B1 except with the 1 commonly dropped.

Fair enough, but compare it with this.

bidet (pronounced bē-dā) - n. A fixture similar in design to a toilet that is straddled for bathing the posterior parts.

Now whilst said song may have certain undertones of being da gangsta in da hood (let's face it, Toonie is da Westside of Sydney). You can't go shizzle ma nizzle and go cribbin you tag after what peoples use to...
It's not good to be named after a bumwash!

January 20, 2006

iFive - 20th Jan

V8 Supercars gets released next month but I'm more eagerly waiting for the English release of Katamari Damacy (We Love Katamari). Basically the premise is that the King of All Cosmos, a colossal celestial being, somehow lost all of the stars (either in a poker game or something - we don't know) and it's up to the Prince to roll aound various worlds collecting crap to rebuild them. The word katamari roughly equates to a clump - or a pile - which is basically what you have to collect because it's fair game.
The Soundtrack? Pure quirky J-Pop. Part symphonic, part 80's video game, part metal, part rock, part Plastic Pop Idol, part... Katamari. The soundtrack like the game is basically a big pile of sound sort of all mashed together.

And yes, in the picture you can see cars, a beach umbrella, trees and a set of stairs in a big mish-mash clump.

1. Rock the Katamari - Katamari Damacy (soundtrack)
2. Swinging London Town - Girls Aloud
3. Walking Contradiction - Green Day
4. Song 2 - Blur (FIFA '98 Version)
5. You Are Smart - Katamari Damacy

January 18, 2006

Horse 480 - Why Bother?

If I was God, why would I bother saving mankind? I mean if you were God and you knew that you'd be openly rejected, despised, ignored by a of of your creation, wouldn't it just have been easier to wipe the slate clean and start again?

I love my Ka:
Well I do, sort of. I look after it, I wash it and give it a vac occasionally. I pay for it's registration and the maintenance costs. It is my only source of identity in a sea of other motor cars, people can tell that it's me just by looking at the car. It cost me a lot of money to buy (it's the most expensive thing I own). It's fun to drive.Yet it can't love me back, it will eventually get old, rust out and die, and worse if it gets damaged will cost me even more to repair.

I love my cat:
I feed her, sometimes she lets me pat her. It's fun to watch her sleeping in the sun. But most of the time she actively ignores me, will only really pay any attention to me on her terms or if she wants something. If she was a person she'd be called a crankypuss.

I love my table:
I do not have a lot of an artistic streak in me, in fact my Year 8 Art teacher thought that I wouldn't amount to much anyway. My little table shows all the flaws of an untrained hand, doesn't really fulfil an important use; it is a wee bit ugly to be honest but it's the work of my own hands. I made it, it was my effort that made it come into existance; although unimportant, it does have its use.

What do my Ka, my cat and my table have to do with God?

Think about this, if I am created in God's image then I must by inference display similar characteristics to Him. God who is a creator and an artist loves His creation. Like my table it has its use, but unlike my table was created perfectly.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Like my cat with me, we are capable of loving God but also like my cat, a lot of the time, most of us would prefer to ignore Him and we only ever seem to ever talk to Him when we want something. We're all capable of running around from side to side like brainless sheep.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. Isaiah 53:6

I figure that since Oct 2001 my Ka has cost me something in the order of $24,190. That is quite a lot of money. It's little wonder I like my Ka when you consider I've divested so much personal cost in it. At the end of the day it still only is a car. When you consider how much God was prepared to pay to buy back something he made, which ignores him, you get a fairly good idea of how much He loves His creation, and why? He owns it.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

I have full confidence that the reason why God was prepared to pay so much to buy back what He already owned is that underlying character point of love. I don't consider it to be a sappy namby-pamby sort of affair either, it's a hard exacting and exhaustive thing. It would have been easier to wipe the slate and start again, but why didn't He? He chose not to, therein is the crux - He CHOSE not to. It's an elective massively insane sort of thing.

January 15, 2006

Horse 479 - A Tale of Three Cities

And aren't there are lot of sevens in the picture?

With the departure of the Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Middlesborough had more than just a hint of egg on their faces. Replacement Bradley Jones was left utterly helpless as "boring, boring Arsenal" produced their own seven-goal thriller.
Captain Thierry Henry collected a hat-trick while Philippe Senderos, Robert Pires, Gilberto and Alexander Hleb all got themselves on the scoresheet as the Gunners made light work of Boro.
For the side that's tried to blame Schwazer for their troubles, he may have been the player that was actually holding them in the Premiership.

Harry Kewell does SOMETHING!
The Reds eked out a 1-0 win against 10-man Spurs following a first half bereft of real chances. After the break, it was in-form Liverpool who took the lead - and in spectacular fashion. Kewell was in space at the far post and he met Steve Finnan's cross to send a crashing volley past Paul Robinson. Paul Stalteri was sent off towards the end for a professional foul after he brought Kewell down.
It was Kewell's first goal for his club in more than a calendar year having last scored on Dec 4, 2004.

Sir Alex Ferguson scurried out of Eastlands with his head bowed after his 10-man Manchester United side suffered their third derby-day defeat in four years.
The United boss claimed the atmosphere at City's plush new home is nowhere near as intimidating as Maine Road, but the noise at the final whistle was deafening as the 'Blue Mooners' were sent into orbit by a richly-deserved 3-1 victory.
Goals from Sinclair, Vassell and Fowler put this result beyond doubt; like most of these derbies, this was a spiteful affair. City keeper David James was given a yellow for dissent and "poo boots" Ronaldo was given his marching orders after a diabolical challenge on Andy Cole after only seconds earlier rolling around on the ground trying to claim his own free-kick.
Arsenal run rampant, Kewell does... something; Man Utd are disgraced by City and "poo boots" is sent.

January 13, 2006

Horse 478 - String String String String

A One Inch Piece of String
Cannot be used for anything

This is what my calendar tells me today and I disagree with it.

You could use bit of string that small for tying up very small packages, attatching notes to pigeon's legs, destroying household pests... well if they were bigger than a mouse you could strangle them and if they were smaller then you could flog them to death...
Yes, destroy 99% of all household pests with individual stringettes. They're compact, come in packs of 300 and are very very stylish.

Pope Pius X once used a 1" bit of string to tie up an errant hole is a gas main. Napoleon always had a lucky bit of string in his hand and would never let it go (that's why his hand was always in his overcoat - he was holding string) and King Henry VIII nearly ran the British economy into the ground when he spent £2,000,000 in 1482 on 2" bits of string and used them as an absorptive barrier to keep the Thames from flooding his croquet game.

There are limitations though. You couldn't for instance use a 2" bit of string to fly to Jamaica, inspect the nuclear makeup of Meta-Dioxin, not could you use them to sign the Magna Carta... but who's doing that in their everyday lives in the first place... NO-ONE.

January 12, 2006

Horse 477 - Buying a Video Game

Decided to jump a rattler to Parra, me, and apart from the usual parade of bogans, Shazzas and an increasing number of salad dodgers the trip wasn't the usual sardine tin experience it could have been.

Because out west, there isn't an equivalent of the Freo Doctor, rattlers become more like your average terrapin unit. The Silver Slug services are hot enough for cotton frocks and plastic handbags; many of the mountain people would accuse us plains people of being pivot heads and polers.

I went to EB in search of a PS2 game (Katamari Damacy) and this morphia at the counter, I don't know where she got her mullet from but she had a head like a busted sofa and a body like a burst sausage, anyway, she had more front than Myer and as little decorum as a cut snake.
All I wanted was to chuck a pineapple on the counter, get in and shoot through like a Bondi tram but for some reason she was up and down like a Mark Foy's lift to her manager, who in due course tinkled maybe a baker's number of the plastics; got the machine to spit out some white slime and I was on my way.

I tried to leave but she wanted to phernudge the point, Ms Kerfoops obviously had more complaints than Sydney Hospital so I left it at that. This gubba burnt the reddie and Harry High-tailed it out of there.

Bunnies to that!

January 11, 2006

Horse 476 - The Day They Killed David

1966 is a memorable year for a couple of reasons. England won the World Cup of Football at Wembley when football finally "came home", and at the beginning of the year one of the memorable rip-offs happened in the world of sport.

The little BMC Mini in 997cc trim had showed to be quite the giant killer. In 1963 it had beaten much bigger cars and had even placed well, but in 1964 John Cooper's men allowed to turn the economical little car into a sports car. For the 1964 event the engine had been replaced with a racing version of the 1071cc variant. Also instead of just your average drivers the the contractees were Paddy Hopkirk, Rauno Aaltonen and Timo Mäkinen; between them they represented what would have been the equivalent of 10 World Rally Championships if they had indeed existed back then.
In '64 the Mini trounced all opposition and then for '65 it was rewarded with the bigger 1275cc engine and it took the first 10 places. Perhaps there was a wee bit of embarrassment when the car refused to start for Princess Grace after the victory.

Then came a highly dicey decision in 1966: The Mini was the rightful winner – but disqualified. In 1966 the Mini armada went for their hat trick, the four Cooper teams being acknowledged as the favourites in the race and receiving lots of public interest. From the start, the teams lived up to this commitment, Mäkinen, Aaltonen and Hopkirk leaving all the others far behind and finishing first, second and third at the end of the Rally. But then came one of the most questionable decisions in the history of the Monte Carlo Rally, the race commissioners determining in an 8-hour technical inspection after the event that the four additional headlights mounted on the radiator grille of the Mini Coopers failed to comply with French homologation rules.
And proceeding from this highly debatable point, the jury disqualified the first three cars. With the Lotus Cortina finishing fourth being disqualified for the same reason, Citroën driver Toivonen finally moved up to the top of the podium as the winner.

Although they did come back and win in 1967 and come 3rd in 1968, the Mini as a rally car was to be beaten by purpose built cars like the Lancia Stratos in future; indeed the Monte Carlo rally in 1967 has lost its shine as the premier rally in the world and had faded to being just another rally.

But it was 40 years ago, that they killed David to let Goliath win. To make matters worse, they did it in favour of a French car, Le Citroën... French for lemon?

January 08, 2006

Horse 475 - Space is Big...

In scientific terms an occult is a very useful astronomical event. The word itself has obvious connotations but the actual word itself means a concealment (look it up, I kid you not). It happens when something passes in front of something else. Usually it's important and we'd call it an eclipse, but on other occasions an occultation is little more than a curiosity.

When the moon of Pluto, Charon, passed in front of a star, scientists could look at the changes in light coming from the star to determine first of all what sort of atmosphere it has and secondly what it's made of. The theory is that the light passing through a gas gets split a little bit, and you can measure what light frequencies come out theother side.
Something went a bit odd. When the occultation happened, the light didn't disperse but just switched on and off. This can only mean one thing... there is no atmosphere on Charon.
What a pity. A lifeless place without an atmosphere, it's a bit like out local council meetings.

Pluto and Charon are also the target of a NASA mission. The New Horizons spacecraft is expected to be launched in their direction on 17 January, it is expected to arrive in 2015, that's a 9 year trip. At the end the spacecraft wil probably doing about 90,000mph.
When I look up at the night sky I can't help but be amazed at the sheer immensity of it all. Something travelling at 90,000mph takes 15 years to get where it's going. Aeroplanes take 24hrs at about 450mph to go half way around the world. To get to Pluto on a 747 would take 2.7 million years. It makes you feel really small doesn't it?

One of the interesting results of the findings was how big Charon is. It is thought to be about 700 miles in diameter. Something 700 miles big and they still are able to observe an occultation from 3660 million miles away.

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space.

All of this was brought into being with just the command of a word? Whoa!

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Is there more of a blatantly obvious statement of how big God is than the entire of creation? Concealment? Not likely.

January 06, 2006

iFive - 6th Jan

Everybody give three cheers except the BBC - A-L-E-X-E-I-S-A-Y-L-E

Alexei Sayle was one of those people on the comedy landscape who always struck as being somewhat of a bit of a strange one. If it wasn't his portrayal of every member of the Balowski family on The Young Ones then it was his monolougues to camera in his own various shows that made him famous.
A short man in badly cut suits that always spoke in a semi-smug-British-undertone but was borne from growing up on a chicken farm on the dismal side of the iron curtain where they had to pedal to produce their own electricity. (tone goes up at the end in Scouse smugness - smile and pause)
Number one this week was one of those monologues; as far as I can tell, Brit Rail sandwiches didn't improve under privatisation either.

1. British Rail Sandwiches - Alexei Sayle
2. I'll Follow The Sun - The Beatles
3. Different Town - Strong Bad
4. Promenade III (Pictures at an Exhibition) - Mussorgsky
5. Tiny Explosions - Presidents of the USA

Horse 474 - Advice Is A Form of Nostalgia

The best piece of advice I have ever received is a contentious issue. I think of some of the words of my now late grandfather who in his own unique way told me these few words:

Neither a borrower or a lender be

Sound advice you would say, no? Even more sound when you consider that when I wanted to borrow $2.50 to nip off down to the shops for a bottle of Coca-Cola and a Sausage Roll he told he to nick off, because he didn't want to lend me the money.Also sound advice when you consider that the man also owed the tax office nearly $177,000.

I remember I was in a small roadhouse just outside of Canberra and found the following legend inscribed in chalk on the board outside:

A Cup of Tea, A Meat Pie and a Kindly Word for $4.

I et the meat pie (yes I did intend to use the word et, it's perfectly acceptable ye olde English), enjoyed my Darjeeling and waited around a bit for the kindly word. The chap behind the counter eventually saw me and wondered what I was doing, so I told him that I was waiting for the Kindly Word as advertised. He came over leant down and gave me these words of wisdom - Just between you and me, don't eat the meat pie.

January 05, 2006

Horse 473 - The Self-Preservation Society

Maybe if we explain that you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

There are some films which should never be remade. Taxi with Queen Latifa is a perfect example of this, as the original film with Samy Naceri was a car-bashing classic. Likewise whoever thought ot letting Mark Wahlberg within 10 feet of the Italian Job should be strung from the yard-arm.

Who was the star of this picture? Was it Michael Caine? Was it the Minis themselves? Was it the people of Turin for allowing their city to suffer gridlock for the sole purpose of a film? How about Quincy Jones for providing a soundtrack that would become a character as important as any other?

Lots has been written about this film and its genuine cliffhanger. But yet, there was a plan!
The film for the opening three scenes of the sequel had been shot. The plan was as follows:

Leave the engine running in the bus which would use up all the petrol and move the weight back up to the front. Then escape from the bus and watch as it plunged into the French Alps below. The sequel had they ever funded it would have been about recovering the gold which they stole.

Would that have done this film justice though?

One of the little aspect of The Italian Job is the sense of British patriotism that falls through the film. From the fact that the three sports cars aren't used for the heist but the symbol of post-war Britain. It was little planes like the Spitfire and Hurricane that had saved Britain and the little Mini beat all comers in the Monte-Carlo rally, it was things mini which Britain saw itself in... and they were red white and blue as well.

Somehow chants from inside a prison in Brixton say more about the little island nation than a fanfare and a brass band in the remake.

Now I find out that they intend to do a sequel not of the original but the remake... word fail me.

January 04, 2006

Horse 472 - Who's Moving In Next Door?

Oh what's this? There's a removal van on the other side of the street. I wonder who's moving in. There certainly appears to be a lot of whistling going on.

Ah, it's only a couple of chaps trying to move a bed in. Phew. There appears to be eight of them? What?! You have to feel sorry for the removalists, though it isn't as bad as it seems, the other seven don't appear to be a big as the first, they're simply magnificent these seven beds.

Ah that's good. They appear to be having a tea break. It should do them some good. I don't like the look of what I see though, there appears to be a half eaten apple just thrown away and left on the pavement.

Picture frames, very snazzy indeed. It's a pity that there's no pictures in them. The lady of the house appears to be a keen photographer. I overheard her earlier and she said that "some day my stuff will come back from the chemists".

What's going in next. Gardening gear? No wait. It looks like pick axes and other sorts of mining equipment, though it is very very small. Probably the same people who need to make use of the beds, except for one garden tool. It's a rather largish hoe. What a high hoe!

I'm guessing that the people moving in are a lady with seven smallish friends... no wait a second, that's Michael Jackson. I guess I'll never know who's moved in. The lady always appears to be taking a nap.

January 03, 2006

Horse 471 - Breaking Stuff

The days of the 21" monitor have come to and end, now my somewhat put of date computer will have to bear the indignity of a 17" monitor. Having a new monitor is good thing I suppose as now I can actually see some more stuff beyond the black, but I do notice the diminished 4".

My old 21" monitor weighed something comparable to a leviathan, to to move it from atop my amplifier to the Ka took a great deal of effort. Then when 3 other dead monitors, a TV and an old amplifier set were all added to the boot of the Ka, its tail sagged. Driving with this was also difficult for fear of the rear windows blowing out because of screens striking it.

Actually dropping them into a hole:

I was like kick, and they were like fall, bam chica bam bam, and heh m heh heh, hmmm heh heh breaking stuff is cool, and they were like booom and kabash when they met the ground... heh heh heh the sky is hard...

Sorry about that. I like to destroy stuff. It's like being 8 years old again... except I'll miss my old monitor. You've done good service, I give you a 21 volt salute.

Horse 470 - Alchemy?

Medieval crackpots and shysters and thise who said they'd fix ya with a bottle of that elixir, held that one the sciences was that of alchemy or the principle that one could transmute materials; most famously how to turn lead into gold. I want to know can it be done?

In 1941 Glenn Seaborg also discovered that the isotope U235 undergoes fission under appropriate conditions. He therefore was responsible for two different approaches to the development of nuclear weapons. He was transferred to the Manhattan Project and was part of the team which achieved the first nuclear chain reaction, something which the Germans with their own atomic pile never acheived.
Later and in a series of other experiments he worked how out to convert U238 to Plutonium-239 using a chain-reacting pile. Seaborg's role was to figure out how to extract the tiny bit of plutonium from the mass of uranium.

Knowing that it's possible to reduce large elements down to Lead-208, you'd think that in theory that it should be "simple" to find Gold on the list somewhere. The problem is that Lead-208 is extremely stable and does not readily decay at all. In fact through a process of fusion evident in stars, Lead-208 is the most likely endpoint.

So then, has it ever been done and if so, how?

This process of bombarding the atomic nucleus with high energy particles is the principle behind modern particle accelerators, in which transmutations of elements are common. Indeed, in 1980, Seaborg transmuted lead into gold, though the amount of energy used and the microscopic quantities created negated any possible financial benefit.

There is of course a simpler, method to go about this if all you're concerned with is colour. All one requires is to find some electrum and nitric acid. Electrum is a gold-silver alloy and the nitric acid merely separates the silver from the alloy. Of course this is common chemistry and nowhere near as fun as alchemy.

The other method is as follows: As soon as you put food in the sink, it becomes garbage.

January 01, 2006

Horse 469 - Buy Australian Made

A man came on the radio this morning and told us to:
Make it your new year's resolution to buy Australian Made, it'll will keep your money in Australia and keep jobs in Australia.
I thought that that's a really good idea. Truth in point is that I have whereever possible tried to buy Australian Made and consequently, our house is full of a lot of second rate stuff.

Can you imagine if the walkman had been invented in Australia? It would have been made from teak, and have headphones from a P3 Orion; it would probably be about 9 inches wide and covered in leatherette and one of those dainty little bits of rag with a rubber band on the top like you get at school fetes.
What about video games? Do you really think that people would get hours of fun from a game like Sonic the Health Inspector or Super Accountancy Brothers?

Thinking about the inventions that Australia is famous for like the Hills Hoist or Blinker Lights on cars, what about the Ute and more importantly Penecillin - most of these thing were invented because the people who invented them actually wanted to be more lazy. Penecillin is unique because it was first discovered not in a laboratory but in a rubbish bin.
If you look at the inventions of media what has Australia contributed? Hawkeye, Racecam & Stumpcam; all of those are concerned with making it easier to watch sport because although we have this reputation around the world for being a great sporting nation, truth is that we'd prefer to watch it on telly because it's too hot to move outside.

SPC moved it's world wide operations to Canada as did BHP and before the Second World War Australia produced some of the best steel in the world. Our biggest customer was Japan who in time was using it to drop bombs of Darwin, a neat form of recycling wouldn't you say?

The fact of the matter is that Australia has always been owned by overseas, the British moved in and took whatever resources they could back to Blighty and as time moved on foreign companies bought everything that wasn't nailed down. Let's face it even Australia's Driving Future, the Holden Motor Company is owned by the people who say that what's good for the General Boomers is good for the USA.
I'm as Australian as Ampol? So what you're saying is that you're 50% British, 35% American and 15% conglomo?

My new year's resolution is to buy a fan to escape the heat. I intend to but Australian made but chances are it will have been made by someone in South East Asia who's desperately wishing to move to the country where they can buy something from the factory they just came from.