Saturday, May 20, 2017

Grid references

Ardent bibliophiles will be celebrating today, for it was on this day in 1570 that the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was published. This was the world's first atlas, containing 70 maps. Presumably, it didn't contain grid references. These were a later innovation in atlas publishing.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kicking him around

The Trump Administration is embroiled in controversy over its links to the Russian government during the 2016 election campaign. At this stage, calls for his impeachment sound like political point scoring. Having said that, I cannot help but think that this may end badly for Donald Trump.

He has publically stated that the media is treating him unfairly. To my knowledge, Richard Nixon was the last American president to complain that the media had it in for him. Back in August 1974, Nixon had to resign, at least partially undone by his own paranoia. If a public figure antagonises the media, then they may go after him or her even harder.

Monday, May 08, 2017

It shows you how much I know

FidgetSpinner.jpgThis is a fidget spinner. Until last weekend, I had no idea these were a thing. They're the latest toy fad, and are supposed to be beneficial for children who have attention disorders. 

This is a three-pronged design. Five pronged versions are also available. They almost remind me of the Glaive, the magical weapon from the 1983 fantasy film, Krull. 

By Florian Schäffer - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Whinge, whinge, whinge

The latest radio ratings were released today. Predictably, talk station 3AW once again won the AM radio breakfast slot, with a 19.3 per cent audience share. They were well ahead of their nearest rival, ABC Radio Melbourne, on 12.9 per cent.

Melbourne radio listeners are obviously creatures of habit. The 3AW breakfast show has consistently topped the ratings for almost all of the 27 years it has been on the air. I stopped listening to it because I no longer find it fresh and funny. The hosts seem to be phoning it in these days. Their shtick seems to revolve around British comedy references, the legal world, and talking about food and wine.

Their ratings lead seems unassailable. When they finally retire, it will give some fresh radio talent the chance to find an audience.

Monday, April 24, 2017

How much can a koala bear?

Caramello Koala. Not a bear.
Here's how Reuters reported on US Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Australia. Pence, his wife Karen, and daughters visited Sydney's Taronga Zoo, and met some native animals. This included a koala, which the Reuters article erroneously described as a bear. As I distinctly remember learning in primary school, koalas are marsupials, not bears.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


It was on this day in 1984 that Advance Australia Fair became the official national anthem of Australia. This happened only 83 years after federation, and 106 years after Peter Dodds McCormick composed it in 1878. So much for efficient government decision making.

I was in primary school at the time. We had a school assembly at the start of every school week. It comprised a flag raising, and playing of the national anthem on the public address system, which I remember had tinny speakers. Prior to Advance Australia Fair, the anthem was God Save the Queen. We were not expected to sing it, but listen to it quietly and watch the flag being raised on the school's flagpole.

I forget if this also happened when the new anthem was introduced and played at assembly for the first time, but our federal member of Parliament attended one assembly to present the school with a new Australian flag. He said that he asked for it directly from Bob Hawke, who was Prime Minister at the time. I didn't believe him, but at least it was an amusing story.

Since then, we have regularly debated replacing the anthem with another song, because some commentators claim that it is racist, and its lyrics are outdated. At this time, there are not any suitable alternatives, so why not retain what we already have?