Thursday, September 30, 2010

A quote from Salvador Dali

"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."

This seems to support what Mark Waid (see post from yesterday) says - we produce nothing in a vacuum, we are all influenced by what other people do.

the Cook Strait ferry Hinemoa in 1957

This lovely view of the ferry Hinemoa berthed at Wellington was taken by Keith Fleming in 1957. As those who have read the book Strait Crossing by Victor Young will know, she sailed on the overnight voyages between Wellington and Lyttelton. Much more information about her and these voyages is contained in the book.

This photo also appears in the new issue of NZ Memories to accompany a short article by Vic: thanks ever so much to Keith Fleming for making it available for all to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The slang of 200 years ago

A few posts ago we commented on new terms that have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Another item in our library is this London published dictionary of "the vulgar tongue" from 1811 - over 1,000 terms of what we would call slang and it contains much to interest language historians. Needless to say, entries relating to criminal and carnal activities feature heavily, but there are others that give quite an insight into daily life in those times, and some help to explain the origin of terms used today such as Welsh rarebit.

Relatively few of the expressions have survived into the modern period meaning essentially what they did then (although many people in Europe will find the description of Gypsies ["A set of vagrants, who, to the great disgrace of our police, are suffered to wander about the country..." - the entry continues for 2 pages] still very contemporary).

Other terms have survived with a slightly altered form, for example, Chips - "A nickname for a carpenter" - has become Chippie. One can imagine a few of the terms returning to common use if they were used by enough people, such as Smear Gelt - "a bribe" (Geld pronounced Gelt is German for money).

"culture is more important than copyright... one's saying we shouldn't be compensated for our work, but we are obliged to give back at some point. Moreover--and I know that in hard economic times like these, it's very hard to remember this--I would also offer that being able to contribute to culture, having the satisfaction of knowing that we've done work that is embraced by others, watching our ideas spread and seed new ideas--if you're calculating overall job compensation, that is not without value."

This is the viewpoint of an American comic book creator, Mark Waid, and it's rather hard to argue with him. Read the rest here

The right hand intersection rule to change in 2012

One of the peculiarities of NZ's road rules - which came into being in 1977 - is being changed to match the rest of the world in 2012. The government has confirmed it is changing the "right hand rule" for drivers at intersections. This rule bascially says that when you are turning left at an intersection and you are not governed by traffic lights, then you have to give way to traffic approaching from your right or vehicles coming from the opposite direction which are turning right.

The rule change will mean drivers turning left will be able to go first at an intersection, rather than giving way to traffic turning right.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says "Our current give way rules for turning vehicles are confusing and out of step with the rest of the world. Research shows changing the rules could reduce relevant intersection crashes by seven percent."

How come it has taken 33 years for Government bureaucrats to work that out? The existing rule was adopted from the Australian state of Victoria which had introduced it to assist trams on Melbourne's streets, according to the Automobile Association (AA). But Victoria changed back in 1993 and experienced a decline in intersection crashes as a result.

Changes are also planned to the rule for T-intersections. This rule applies when there are conflicting right-turns at a T-intersection. Currently, the right-turning vehicle on the terminating road (the base of the 'T') has priority over the right-turning vehicle on the through road (the top of the 'T'). The change will require traffic from an uncontrolled terminating road to give way to traffic on a through road.

Matching the rest of the world might also help many of the thousands of New Zealanders who head overseas and jump into cars, blithely turning right at the first opportunity and wondering why they cop either abuse, or the front of the left turning car.

It is estimated changing the rules to align with other countries will reduce the social cost of accidents by about $17 million a year.

It would improve pedestrian safety at intersections, where there has been an 88% increase since 2000 in pedestrians being hit, many of them hit by a turning vehicle.

AA spokesman Mike Noon said changing the present "ridiculous" rule would require a $2 million driver education programme and engineering changes, such as re-phasing lights and changing road markings in some places, which could cost $1 million.

However, he welcomed the change.

"It's more simple than the current rule. We find people don't obey the rule and some don't know what to do."

Victor Young's article in NZ Memories on the Cook Strait ferries

Those who subscribe to New Zealand Memories magazine or get it in a newsagent will in a day or two be able to read Victor Young's article on the Cook Strait ferries through history, but for those who don't, here is is the text - the rest is a nice double page spread of the Hinemoa berthed at night (click for larger views).

Further details about the book are here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Architect Jim Beard's beachhouse is for sale

We don't normally concern ourselves with real estate, but this property is a bit different. Firstly, the writer knew Jim Beard in the 1970s; he was an architect concerned with environmental friendliness and energy efficiency long before it became fashionable, and secondly it is a house that has featured in books and magazines, such as Long Live the Modern by Julia Gatley (editor).

The house was built in 1964 and renovated in 2004. Although the house is only 95 square metres, the 977 square metres of beachfront land - with a great view of Kapiti Island - it is on gives it all a Ratable Value of just under $1.2 million. Info and pictures

Monday, September 27, 2010

Up GST day is Friday

Those who live in NZ and plan to buy "big ticket" items only have 3 days left before the Government takes more from them for doing so. On 1 October prices of virtually everything go up in theory by 2.22%.

We say "in theory" because a lot of businesses who currently round small-priced things to the nearest whole dollar or the nearest five dollars (like restaurants, publishers, 2 Dollar shops) may decide to absorb the increase themselves rather than add an odd number of cents onto the price, particularly if they are in a competitive environment. Thus for these people the increase in GST is effectively an increased tax on their earnings, despite what Finance Minister Bill English may say. Gee thanks, Bill - life as a small business-person is tough enough now, without this.

The Labour Party, meanwhile, says that it will remove GST completely on fresh fruit and vegetables, but won't commit itself to lowering GST back to where it is now. This removal on fruit and vegetables will cost an estimated $250 million in revenue, which it says it will save from cuts in the health system. We think it could much better save this amount by cutting Public Servant positions and salaries. Bureaucrats and consultants did very well out of Helengrad, much of which went out of the country. We don't need the dimwits in Government Departments - particularly the dimwits in Treasury who were probably responsible for this - getting rid of them would probably save a lot more than $250 million.

The last months of peace

This item in our library is a momento of the days before most of Europe (and British colonies elsewhere) were plunged into a major war.

This huge two volume Deutsche Reichsbahn (German Empire Railway) Kursbuch or Passenger Timetable was issued for the summer of 1939, valid from 15 May to 7 October of that year. Well, it didn't get to 7 October before a replacement timetable had to be issued with a much reduced offering of trains - on 1 September Hitler invaded Poland and World War 2 began. Not only did Poland suffer, Germans suddenly found themselves faced with restrictions on travel and consumer items, as well as, of course, having a large part of their male workforce drafted into the armed forces. This later became increasingly severe and although forced labourers from occupied countries bore the brunt of consumer product limitations, all city dwellers - and quite a few small town dwellers - were subject to constant destructive air raids, particularly after America became involved after December 1941.

Thus this timetable shows all the many places you could travel by train before the war began, and the trains you could use, not only in Germany but in neighbouring countries. There is a wealth of historical information in it, not solely because many railway lines subsequently disappeared for various reasons. And after the war, Stalin reallocated 24% of Germany's pre-war territory to Poland (and the northern part of East Prussia to Russia). This timetable includes the Sudentenland as part of the Reich as well as the "Protectorat" of Bohmeia and Moravia, all of which now form the Czech Republic.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

lighthouses of Finland

Lighthouses have lots of admirers around the world: silent sentinels, they are romantic features of their environments, and they come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and designs.

In Finland the archipelagoes around the coast are considered among the country's most appealing natural features, and the combination with lighthouses makes for some wonderful photos.

This large format all-colour coffee-table style book is volume 1 of an intended 6 volumes(!) covering Finnish lighthouses. As well as the towers and their coastal/island environments, the book profiles the lives of those involved with and around the lighthouses with sidebars. The text is in Finnish, English and Swedish.

Friday, September 24, 2010

new Matangi electric trains for Wellington not problem free

Test runs apparantly demonstrate, among other things, that their power draw is even more than was expected, limiting how long trains can be between sub-stations. A report from the Wellington Newspapers site is reproduced below.

In the meantime, electrification and track duplication between McKays Crossing and Waikanae is continuing. It is now clear that the duplication will end just short of the bridges over SH1 and the Waikanae River at Waikanae, meaning that about 1 km will continue to be single track.


The regional council's new Matangi [meaning "wind"] electric trains, blew into Wellington Station last week like a gentle Zephyr instead of a fresh gale.

Still in testing, the train crept across the many sets of points as its wheels squealed at the bends.

The first of 48 two-car Matangi units came slowly in to Platform 9 to be welcomed by ministers, MPs, the Korean ambassador, mayors and representatives of the builders, Hyundai Rotem.

Local kaumatua and kuia were also there to welcome the trains, along with rail fans and riders, after weeks of testing culminating in a run on the Melling Line. Greater Wellington Regional Council chairwoman Fran Wilde said the Wellington region is renowned for its strong rail tradition.

"It has seemed a long time since we signed the contract for the trains, and there appeared to be an inordinate amount of time on getting the design just right.

"We're proud of our rail service in Wellington, and strongly committed to bringing it back to full strength."

The Wellington Station crowd loved the sleek, shiny, stainless-steel-clad carriages.

However, a recent Dominion Post poll found the public was divided 50/50 as to whether they would make a difference to the recent deplorable service that was driving people to take cars to work.

That is not just because of continued infrastructure renewal delays, or the need to continue using the older trains, especially for peak hours.

It is also not to do with the fact the newest of the old, the Ganz Mavags, may be uneconomical to refurbish, meaning someone would have to come up with another $225 million for more Matangi trains.

It is because, according to both public and KiwiRail employees, KiwiRail's contractual operation of the trains for GWRC has been poorly managed.

One train man said things had improved with the appointment of former New Zealand Transport Agency Wellington general manager Deborah Hume as KiwiRail's national passenger manager.

People who got a tour of the train but no ride yet had a variety of mostly positive views.

Former KiwiRail project manager at Hutt Gracefield rail workshops, Albert Bossard, says the train is pretty much exactly as the mock-up shown and consulted on.

The biggest negative comment was that the trains won't have front windows for passengers.

A KiwiRail executive said, "We can't have a front view because of all the electrical equipment up front, the only economical place to put it and be able to have more seats. Viewing was raised, but not in any significant way."

The driver cab also had to have a fire door.

One of the few to drive Matangi so far, Chris Duffel, was chuffed. The 28-year veteran driver and now trainer, from Whitby, said staff had a lot of input to the design.

"It's a red letter day for us. It's a great machine. It's smooth and quiet and pleasant to drive. The ride and interior will be so pleasant people won't miss the front view."

Disability Issues Minister Pansy Wong said the train design would help people with disabilities, with floor areas for wheelchairs and mobility scooters and new ramps.

Genevieve McLachlan from Upper Hutt, and Hobbit, 8, her guide dog, tried the new boarding.

She used to ride the trains every day, and had problems with the steep, difficult ramps. The new ramps are easier for the guards to operate. They push a button and it pops out; they don't have to handle the chair or make sure it doesn't tip.

"Getting on and off this train was slick," Mrs McLachlan said. "I don't need any help. I can't wait until this is in service, and I'll use trains more again. As a person with disabilities this had made me feel not so different."
Tawa mum of three Elizabeth Marchant was also pleased.

"It's great, it's much easier to get the pushchair in. At the moment it's far too hard."

Pushchairs don't need the wheelchair ramps if the station platform is close to the level of the train entrance.

But it will be some time before all platforms are altered.

Having these trains with their disabled facility could increase the demand for them, but with a mixed fleet of Ganz Mavag and older trains with few Matangi trains, disabled passengers will not know ahead of time when they can count on a Matangi with wheelchair space.

One potential problem is the train's noise. Though quiet inside, outside a locomotive engineer commented on the loud, high-pitched whine of the electrics turning DC into the AC the trains run on.

Longtime transport activist Paula Warren said, "I'm hearing positive things about the tests, and it's now been agreed they can't run eight-car sets on the line because of the power drain.

"But they assure us that six-car trains more frequently will do the job, and that's what we want anyway."

It's still unclear whether the Ganz Mavag units will be upgraded. Latest papers from GWRC say if the cost is more than $1.6 million per unit, they'll buy instead of upgrading. A mixed fleet would just be a mess, with everyone wanting to go on the Matangis, one report said.

No-one spoken to, including senior KiwiRail staff speaking off the record, favoured keeping the Ganzes.

Te Papa's NZR models collection

A customer has asked us what happened to Frank Roberts's garden railway as featured in our DVD The NZ Railways Story 1863 - 1995.

The answer is that NZR acquired it, who in turn donated the models to the National Museum or Te Papa as it calls itself, in 1993. Like most public authority museums, Te Papa doesn't believe in focusing on technology so only a few of these models are on display. However, the whole collection is viewable with zoomable Flash files online - the webpage.

The above model is of an NZR R class, and R 28, preserved in a park in Reefton, is now the only remaining Single Fairlie type locomotive in the world.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photography of the sea

In our post on the Ministry of Culture and Heritage book New Zealanders and the Sea from last November we said, "The cover is fairly insipid as are the wallpaper type photos used in introductory pages (one can't help but contemplate what a renowned photographer like Philip Plisson of France could have done)". Well here is the latest book by Philip Plisson which demonstrates what he can do.

His last book on the general theme of the sea La Mer was a massive tome with a massive weight, this one is a smaller format, but is still no minor work with 365 photos, one to a heavy gloss paper paper page, with a lengthy caption about each. They cover a full range of themes and moods and are taken around the world, including NZ.

Well, MCH, why didn't you ask him to supply a few pictures for your book? Or was he not, as usual, on your 'Old School Tie' list of of preferred suppliers?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Air New Zealand changes its livery to black

Air NZ management has for some years made no secret that it is fanatical about rugby - and doesn't think much of other sports, despite more people in the country actually playing soccer than rugby - so has now decided to change the livery of its planes to black with a hint of silver, i.e. the silver fern.

Well, it's certainly different to the traditional blue and white. A good choice? Hmmm...

The first A320 in this livery touched down in Auckland on 1 February 2011.  The pic from

changing American terminology

A customer has sent us these terms which are unlikely to be understood by the present generation:

Fender skirts: not added to cars nowadays (see picture)

Curb feelers: ditto

Steering knobs: ditto

Continental kits
: rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental. (see picture)

Emergency brake: At some point 'parking brake' became the proper term. There was a hint of drama that went with 'emergency brake'.

Foot feed: became the 'accelerator'

Many today do not even know what a clutch is or that the dimmer switch used to be on the floor.

Store-bought: Just about everything is store-bought these days, but once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

Coast to coast: a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing; we take the term 'world wide' for granted.

Wall-to-wall carpeting: nowdays people replace it with hardwood floors.

In a family way: it's hard to imagine that the word 'pregnant' was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company, so we had all that talk about stork visits and 'being in a family way' or simply 'expecting.'

Picture show: now 'movie'

Perculator: just a fun word to say, replaced with 'Coffee maker.'

Supper: now everybody says 'dinner.'

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

25 years since the demise of the "Mother road"

John Steinbeck famously christened Route 66 as America’s “Mother Road” in The Grapes of Wrath. It was was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985, after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway system.

Route 66 was established on 11 November 1926, It originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at Los Angeles for a total of 2,448 miles (3,939 km). It was a major path of the migrants who went west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed.

Needless to say, many books have been published on the route, and a new one - Greetings from Route 66, a 240 page big hardback book from MBI which promises to be the ultimate road trip along America's Main Street - should be available in our shop in about 6 weeks.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Like us, Oxford University Press has found it necessary to put new words in its dictionary!

A sampling of new words, senses, and phrases that have been added to the New Oxford American Dictionary:-

New Words

BFF n. (pl. BFFs) informal a girl’s best friend: my BFF’s boyfriend is cheating on her.
– ORIGIN 1996: from the initial letters of best friend forever.

big media n. [treated as sing. or pl.] the main means of mass communication (i.e., television, radio, and the press), as opposed to blogs or other personal websites.

bromance n. informal a close but nonsexual relationship between two men.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: blend of brother and romance.

carbon credit n. a permit that allows a country or organization to produce a certain amount of carbon emissions and that can be traded if the full allowance is not used.

carbon offsetting n. the counteracting of carbon dioxide emissions with an equivalent reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

cloud computing n. the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.

credit crunch n. a sudden sharp reduction in the availability of money or credit from banks and other lenders: the beleaguered company has become the latest victim of the credit crunch.

defriend v. another term for unfriend.

eggcorn n. a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one that sounds very similar or identical (e.g., tow the line instead of toe the line).
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: with reference to a misinterpretation of acorn.

exit strategy n. a preplanned means of extricating oneself from a situation that is likely to become difficult or unpleasant.

gal pal n. informal a female friend.

green audit n. an assessment of a business in terms of its impact on the environment.

green-collar adj. denoting or relating to employment concerned with products and services designed to improve the quality of the environment: green-collar jobs.
– ORIGIN on the pattern of white-collar and blue-collar.

hashtag n. (on social networking websites such as Twitter) a hash or pound sign (#) used to identify a particular keyword or phrase in a posting.

hater n. a person who greatly dislikes a specified person or thing: a man hater | he’s not a hater of modern music.
informal a negative or critical person: she found it difficult to cope with the haters.

hockey mom n. informal a mother who devotes a great deal of time and effort to supporting her children’s participation in ice hockey.

homeshoring n. the practice of transferring employment that was previously carried out in a company’s office or factory to employees’ homes.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: on the pattern of offshoring.

homesourcing n. another term for homeshoring.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: on the pattern of outsourcing (see outsource).

hypermiling n. the practice of making adjustments to a vehicle or using driving techniques that will maximize the vehicle’s fuel economy.
– DERIVATIVES hypermiler n.

Interweb n. humorous the Internet.

LBD n. (pl. LBDs) informal little black dress: you can’t go wrong with an LBD for premières or parties.
– ORIGIN abbreviation.

lipstick lesbian n. informal a lesbian who favors a glamorous, traditionally feminine style.

LMAO abbr. vulgar slang laughing my ass off.

megachurch n. a church with an unusually large congregation, typically one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity.

parkour (also parcour) n. the activity or sport of running through an area, typically in an urban environment, using acrobatic techniques to negotiate obstacles.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: French, alteration of parcours ‘route, course.’

paywall n. (on a website) an arrangement whereby access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to the site.

quantitative easing n. Finance the introduction of new money into the money supply by a central bank.

social media n. [treated as sing. or pl.] websites and applications used for social networking.

social networking
n. the use of dedicated websites and applications to communicate informally with other users, or to find people with similar interests to oneself.

staycation n. informal a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: blend of stay1 and vacation.

steampunk n. a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

tag cloud n. a visual depiction of the word content of a website, or of user-generated tags attached to online content, typically using color and font size to represent the prominence or frequency of the words or tags depicted.

tramp stamp
n. informal a tattoo on a woman’s lower back.

truthiness n. informal the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.
– ORIGIN early 19th cent. (in the sense ‘truthfulness’): coined in the modern sense by US humorist Stephen Colbert (1964–).

TTYL abbr. informal talk to you later: Anyway, gotta run now! TTYL.

unfriend v. [with obj.] informal remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site: she broke up with her boyfriend, but she hasn’t unfriended him.

vuvuzela n. S. African a long horn blown by fans at soccer matches.
– ORIGIN perhaps from Zulu.

wardrobe malfunction n. informal, humorous an instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of their body as a result of an article of clothing slipping out of position.

waterboarding n. an interrogation technique simulating the experience of drowning, in which a person is strapped, face up, to a board that slopes downward at the head, while large quantities of water are poured over the face into the breathing passages.

webisode n. an episode, esp. from a television series, or short promotional film made for viewing online.
– ORIGIN 1990s: blend of Web and episode.

zombie bank n. informal a financial institution that is insolvent but that continues to operate through government support.

New Phrases

be all that informal be very attractive or good: he thinks he’s all that—yeah, God’s gift.

my bad informal used to acknowledge responsibility for a mistake: Sorry about the confusion. It’s my bad.

the new black a color that is currently so popular that it rivals the traditional status of black as the most reliably fashionable color: brown is the new black this season.

like herding cats informal used to refer to a difficult or impossible task, typically an attempt to organize a group of people: controlling the members of this expedition is like herding cats.

cop to accept or admit to: there are a lot of people who don’t cop to their past.

what’s not to like? informal used as a rhetorical expression of approval or satisfaction: cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and mountain views—what’s not to like?

share a moment informal experience a joint sensation of heightened emotion: Alan and Barbara shared a moment yesterday after the memorial service.

talk the talk informal speak fluently or convincingly about something or in a way intended to please or impress others: we may not look like true rock jocks yet, but we talk the talk.

Old Words, New Senses

arc (in a novel, play, or movie) the development or resolution of the narrative or principal theme.

channel emulate or seem to be inspired by: Meg Ryan plays Avery as if she’s channeling Nicole Kidman.

cougar informal an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man.

flyover informal, derogatory denoting central regions of the US regarded as less significant than the East or West coasts: the flyover states.

friend noun – a contact associated with a social networking website.
verb – add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.

hate (hate on) informal express strong dislike for; criticize or abuse: I can’t hate on them for trying something new.

heart like very much; love: I totally heart this song.

made man a man who has been formally inducted as a full member of the Mafia.

meme an image, video, phrase, etc., that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.

nimrod informal an inept person.

own informal utterly defeat or humiliate: yeah right, she totally owned you, man.

pimp informal make (something) more showy or impressive.

poke (on the social networking site Facebook) attract the attention of (another member of the site) by using the ‘poke’ facility.

riff perform a monologue or spoken improvisation on a particular subject: he also riffs on racism and the economy.

rock informal wear (a garment) or affect (an attitude or style), esp. in a confident or flamboyant way: she was rocking a clingy little leopard-skin number.

short Stock Exchange sell (stocks or other securities or commodities) in advance of acquiring them, with the aim of making a profit when the price falls.

soften (of a market, currency, or commodity) fall in value: the share price has softened recently.

(esp. among fans of hardcore punk music) having an ascetic or abstinent lifestyle: he’s so straightedge that he won’t even take Tylenol when he has a headache.

- a posting made on the social networking site Twitter: he started posting ‘tweets’ via his cell phone to let his parents know he was safe.
- make a posting on the social networking site Twitter.

viral an image, video, advertisement, etc., that is circulated rapidly on the Internet: the rise of virals in online marketing.

For lots more, click here

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Photoshopping the news

The Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram clearly feels that the country's President Hosni Mubarak is more important than US President Barack Obama - the real photo and the paper's Photoshopped version are above. This unfortunately is not an unusual practice, particularly in the Middle East, see our post with the same header from 16 March 2010.

This is the UK Guardian's view on it, includes a link to several spoofs that have since been made.

Everyone's a winner at the Qantas Film and Television Awards

That is what Warwick Roger, then editor of Metro magazine, said a few years ago about this annual self-congratulatory ego massaging of people in these branches of the media.

While some of the awards have a marketing importance when it comes to obtaining possible foreign interest and sales, the most important categories for New Zealanders - news and current affairs - are a "What a big surprise. Yeah right" affair.

We all know there isn't much to choose from, so when "Best News" goes to One News, "Best Current Affairs Series" goes to Sunday (TV One) and Best News or Current Affairs Presenter to John Campbell, Campbell Live (TV3) that doesn't mean that they are good, just that they are the best of a very ho hum desultory choice. One News often surprises with what it considers to be headline, lead news stories, and when it comes to accurate, undistorted reporting, well, have a look at our previous posts about that...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hungary's National Parks

The first National Park in Hungary - Hortobagy - was only established in 1973, but it has since been added to by another nine. All are well presented with sumptuous photos of their flora and fauna in this hardcover coffee table style book. Usually the choice of books available in bookshops for NZers interested in the nature and wildlife in non-English speaking countries is very limited, but this one is in English.

Hungary - except its capital - is a country often overlooked by tourists from NZ, so this 216 page all colour book helps to correct that situation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

When do the contents of books become public domain?

A customer has asked us this. Naturally, it depends on the law in the particular country where you are, but in New Zealand the Copyright Act states, "copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work expires at the end of the period of 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies."

and -

"If the work is of unknown authorship, copyright expires at the end of the period of 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which it is first made available to the public by an authorised act."

So if the author of a book is a natural person, then anything published prior to his or her death becomes public domain 50 years after the year in which he or she died. Thus at present the works of anyone who died prior to 1960 are public domain. As far as we can fathom, if the copyright was owned by a legal entity then the clause relating to "unknown authorship" applies, thus anything published before 1960 (next year it will be 1961, and so on).

Newly restored Lyntog from 1935 now does excursions

Further to our post about the book, this photo from the Danish State Railway Museum - DSB-museet - shows a freshly restored diesel multiple unit Lyntog or Lightning Train from 1935 which last month ran excursions to mark the 75th anniversary of these trains.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Red Car days

This photo comes from the Viewliner Ltd blog which features historic Americana, with an emphasis on transport.

This shows one of the famous Pacific Electric system's cars in action in the 1950s. The Pacific Electric Railway of Los Angeles became the largest operator of interurban electric railway passenger service in the world with over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of track. The system ran to destinations all over Southern California, particularly to the south and east.

What happened to it? The same fate that befell most tramway style systems in the western world in the 1950s and 1960s. It was particularly tragic for Los Angeles: environmentally friendly transport was replaced with environmentally unfriendly reliance on cars, and the city has long been based on the private car more than any other. Some footage of the last PE line from LA to Long Beach is contained on one of our DVDs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Above the garden

The county of Kent has long been known as "The Garden of England" and even if a lot of it nowadays may fall short of this description, given that much of it is now within London's commuter belt and much new development, there are plenty of pretty villages and countryside within its 3,700 square km.

This book is the latest in a series which now encompasses 16 titles of colour photos taken of England from the air by photographer Jason Hawkes. The production standard of the Indian printers is perhaps less than what some first world printers could achieve, but is quite adequate. The book has 144 pages, hardcover.

The 10 year slide of Telecon

This chart from the New Zealand Stock Exchange shows the share price over the past 10 years of Telecon (also known as Telecom NZ). It is worth pointing out that Theresa "Train Wreck" Gattung was the company's boss from October 1999 to June 2007, by which time the consequences of her train of destruction were well and truly evident. In July this year the Australian business press was pointing out the massive ($A 2 billion +) write-off on her hare-brained venture there (AAPT), which was being sold to new owners. See our previous postings for more on this company.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Excitingly different buildings in Paris

Paris understandably guards the historic character of its wonderful street-scapes very strictly, but even here there are distinctly adventurous buildings to be found. The two best known examples are the Pompidou Centre and the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, but here are two more examples in the centre of the city - the Citroen building on the Champs Elysées and this wall of the Musée du Quai Branly, as photographed by one of our directors recently

Monday, September 13, 2010

Will the rush to rebuild Christchurch result in ugly buildings?

This is a question architects are asking following the government's announcement that it is going to fast-track consent procedures.

While many of the buildings put up during the "demolish and rebuild frenzy" in Wellington in the 1980s were no worse aesthetically than the ones they replaced, there were quite a few that did nothing to improve the look of the city. When asked to define architecture in as few words as possible, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating said "high art." Yet there are many modern buildings that show little evidence of it.

The destruction of Napier in 1931 resulted in a brand new city that is now known as one of the great Art Deco capitals of the world (it has a lot of Spanish Mission style buildings too). Of course, the devastation there was a lot more complete than with Christchurch, yet there are opportunities for urban renewal in the city's less attractive areas. Hopefully, some top minds will be employed to produce a pleasing new cityscape.

Press release on the new Cook Strait ferry

From Strait Shipping's press release today:-

"The purpose built roll-on roll-off vessel was manufactured in a Dutch shipyard in 2005, and has a range of green features including its fuel efficiency, use of waste heat for heating hot water and passenger areas and allergy free passenger zone.

It is 124.9 metres in length, has a maximum speed of 18.8 knots and has 1248 lane metres for freight and vehicles.

The ferry's contemporary Scandinavian designed interior accommodates 400 passengers. On-board facilities include a cafeteria, reception area, shop, a family area, viewing lounge and allergy free zone. Big screens will be installed to allow for the Bluebridge service's offering of free movies.

Ms Ellison said the vessel would be the youngest ferry on Cook Strait. The ship is to be renamed the Straitsman in recognition of Strait Shipping's first vessel, in service for 11 years from when the company began in 1992.

The vessel is equipped with high-tech navigation aids, stabilisers, two powerful bow thrusters and in-line high lift flap rudders to ensure efficient manoeuvrability."

75 years of the DC-3

75 years after the first one rolled off the production line in 1935, hundreds of one of the world's most legendary aircraft - the DC-3 - are still in service. This book brings together the largest collection of photographs of the DC-3 from inception to the present time, in both civilian and military service. The author has gathered some 250 high quality photographs from around the world.

A rich history surrounds the DC-3. As the aircraft of choice for the world's major air carriers it helped spur the tremendous growth in airline travel in the late 1930s, and even more so after WW2. General Dwight D Eisenhower identified the DC-3/C-47 as one of the keys to the Allies' victory in WW2. The aircraft even served as a potent gunship in the Vietnam conflict. This book captures this history, bringing this workhorse to life for readers through its particularly dramatic photographs.

For those seeking more details on its use in NZ civilian service, the book The Aircraft of Air New Zealand and Affiliates since 1940 has plenty of information and photos.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bornholm ferry coming to NZ

Bornholmstrafikken - which operates ferries to the Danish island of Bornholm from Køge in Denmark, Ystad in Sweden and Sassnitz in Germany - has sold their ropax ferry Dueodde to New Zealand's Strait Shipping in accordance with the future plan for the traffic to Bornholm.

Dueodde will be delivered after docking shortly after 1 October and will be replaced by the Povl Anker on the Ystad-Rønne run until a new fast ferry is delivered from Tasmania. The Rønne–Køge service is performed by the sister vessel Hammerodde, which has been rebuilt by STX Europe Shipyard in Helsinki. The capacity has been extended with some 300 lane-metres plus extra accommodation for passengers.

Dueodde was built at De Merwerde Shipyard in Hardinxveld in Holland in 2005. The ship is powered by a double MaK-plant with a output of 8,640 kW to a service speed of 18 knots.

On Cook Strait runs the Dueodde will replace the Monte Stello.

Anatomy of a rural mountain railway

The 51 km scenic railway line through the hill country of lower Silesia from Waldenburg to Glatz in Germany needed a lot of perseverance by those who fought for its construction. However, their ambition was achieved in 1880.

After 1945, with Stalin's redrawing of the maps of Eastern Europe, the railway found itself in Poland, and the termini were renamed Walbrzych and Klodzko respectively.

This new book on this undulating, twisting railway line gives the story of its construction, engineering, stations and sidings and discusses the functioning of the line and its connections from inception until its renovation and re-launch in 2009. Today diesel railcars take an hour and a half to traverse the 51 km.

For those who don't read Polish, the book has over 200 photographs (some in colour), many line drawings and timetables from 1917 to 2009.

Friday, September 10, 2010

1:12 scale Morris Minor model now available

This 1:12 scale highly detailed model of a 1956 Morris Minor convertible should appeal to fans of this well-known British marque, the subject of the book The New Zealand Morris Minor Story published by us.

The model by Sun Star sells in the USA for $148; we don't know what retailers in NZ sell it for.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

British family cars of the 50s and 60s

The three decades following WW2 saw a big dominance of British vehicles on NZ roads, a result of government trade policies of the time which supported 2-way trade with the 'old country'.

After the UK joined the EEC (now EU) at the beginning of 1973 and NZ's exports there suddenly faced big obstacles, this changed. The Kirk government and its successors sought to develop reciprocal trade with other countries, particularly Japan and Korea, and as a result better engineered Japanese cars quickly replaced British ones.

This A5 format book takes a fond look at the dinky cars that many NZers will remember from those years, probably because they owned one. They certainly kept repair shops busy but they were a major part of the 'scene'. The book has 64 pages (8 of them allocated to 'outsiders' i.e. continental European cars), and about half the illustrations are in colour. Card covers.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Railway atlas of Italy and Slovenia

This new atlas contains a wealth of detail about the railway and tramway (extra-urban) lines that exist, and have existed, in these two countries - as well as details of aerial cableways, stations, tunnels, traffic types, voltage systems, altitudes, distances, particulars of operators and much more - on colour map pages. You also get the same details in areas of neighbouring countries near the borders: France, Switzerland, Austria and Croatia.

It is obvious that this book must have involved a lot of research and cartographic work, and is a must-have for anyone interested in the transport history of Italy and Slovenia. Legends are in Italian, German, French and English while the accompanying body text is in Italian and German (well, Slovenian isn't exactly spoken by many people and German is an official language in the South Tirol part of Italy).

It has 192 pages in 280 x 240 mm format, hardcover.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

From Lightning train to InterCity

That is the translation of the title of this book marking 75 years of Danish high speed train services between major cities in the country. The first Lyntog diesel-powered multiple unit sets were introduced in 1935, undoubtedly influenced by the Flying Hamburger sets introduced on German railways two years previously.

The famous DSB poster from 1937 made a feature of the sets' 120 km/h speed, which has been increased about 50% in Denmark in the years since, and a lot more by the electric multiple unit high speed trains in France and Germany, the TGV and ICE respectively. Transport in Denmark has always been hampered by the expanses of water between its many islands; 1935 also saw the opening of the Lillebælt (Little Belt) bridge between Jutland and Funen -- but it was another 63 years before the Storebælt (Big Belt) bridge between Funen and Zealand was opened, thus enabling trains to travel from Copenhagen to Jutland without the need for a ferry trip. This was further improved with the opening of the Øresund bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö (Sweden) in 2000.

In its 192 pages this hardback book manages to present an impressive number of historic and more recent photos, plans and memorabilia in colour and b/w which provide a visual feast of railway interest for those who can't read the Danish text.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

All shook up

Although Wellington has been the focus of major earthquake preparation for a number of decades, as it straddles a faultline, a 'biggie' has hit Christchurch instead. The risk for Wellington remains, of course.

Having a large number of old brick buildings it is not surprising that the city streets there were covered with rubble, and aftershocks may yet bring more down.

The silver lining in the cloud, apart from the amazing absence of fatalties, is that the country's building industry, which has been in the doldrums recently, will now be extremely busy for the next several months.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

50 years of the Australian Ford Falcon

In September 1960 Ford Australia released the XK series Falcon. It was initially offered only as a four door sedan, in both Falcon and Falcon Deluxe trim levels. The XK was essentially a right hand drive version of the North American model, although local country dealers often included modifications such as heavy duty rear suspension (5 leaves) and larger 6.50 x 13 tyres. Ford finally had a serious contender to the Holden in the family car category. The first Falcon was exceptionally popular – half a million people packed Ford dealerships to see the sleek newcomer. Plus, XK Falcon sales doubled Ford’s share of the Australian car market!

The American Falcon was phased out over 1969-71 but the Australian Falcon has continued to the present day, exclusively for Australia and New Zealand, and over 3 million have been sold.

above London at night

A fascinating variation on the standard 'from the air' books is this new book featuring photos of London taken at night or in twilight. New digital cameras now provide opportunities that were never available with film.

Naturally many details visible during the day disappear, but nearly all streets are lit up at night with streetlights, as are most landmarks while buildings become patterns of connected light dots and most are recognisable. The result is a literal overview of one of the world's most vibrant cities during its night-time persona.

The book has 160 pages in 255 mm square format, hardcover.