29 March 2015

A long time between visits

It's worth remembering as we look forward to the grand Cricket World Cup final tonight just how out-of-touch Australian cricket is with their New Zealand neighbours:

  • In the time since New Zealand last played an ODI at the MCG, there have been 15 ODIs at the ground, 12 of which involved Australia. 
  • Since the last time New Zealand played an ODI in Australia (a no-result on 13 February 2009) Australia has played 63 ODIs at home
  • That total includes 16 matches against England (of which Australia won 14), another 16 against Sri Lanka, 10 against the West Indies, 7 against India, 6 against Pakistan, and 5 against South Africa; there were also one-off pool games against Scotland and Afghanistan as part of the current World Cup. 
  • Before the stirring one-wicket victory of New Zealand over Australia in Auckland during the pool matches, Australia's captain Michael Clarke had not played New Zealand in a one-dayer since the previous World Cup in India.

A total of 143 one-day internationals have been played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but the last time New Zealand was invited to play an ODI there was more than six years ago. That match, on Waitangi Day 2009, saw New Zealand defeat Australia by six wickets: Australia was put in first and only managed 225/5, and then New Zealand knocked off the total with ease, having six wickets and seven balls to spare. Naturally, the parochial panel gave the man of the match award to Australian captain Michael Clarke for his 98 not out, despite being on the losing side. That was the last time New Zealand played at the MCG; six of the current playing XI scheduled to face Australia in tonight's World Cup final played in that 2009 match.

If that's not motivation enough for New Zealand to remind Australia that it doesn't own the game, I don't know what is. Perhaps there's also the additional frisson of just imagining what the Australian fans' faces will look like if New Zealand snatches this most unlikely of victories.

27 March 2015

I'm so hidden they can't find me, but then again they might

Falling into the 'guilty pleasures' category, here's Kim Carnes with Crazy In The Night (Barking at Airplanes), the first single from her 1985 album. (The huge and more widely-remembered hit Bette Davis Eyes was from Mistaken Identity in 1981). The video is a low-rent affair replete with regrettable hair (hey, that rhymes!), and I enjoy the way Carnes sings along to the bridge even though it's supposed to be only the chaps singing as a counterpoint to her verses. This isn't a particularly memorable song, I admit, but I have a soft spot for the daggy ageing bandmembers and the oh-so-80s synths. The song reached as high as no.3 in the South African charts and no.11 here in New Zealand, but in the US it only managed no.15 and it failed to scrape into the top 40 in the UK. Also, it seems Keith Lemon used to moonlight as a pop drummer in the 80s.

26 March 2015

A thing of beauty

A new Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick, the first step in my mission to begin playing Frontier Developments' marvellous game Elite: Dangerous. Now all I need is the small detail of a new computer capable of actually playing the game!

22 March 2015

Guptill gets his 200

The final stages of Martin Guptill's quarter-final journey to his one-day international double century, the first by a New Zealand batsman. This was an astonishing innings, the sort that could only be dreamed about a few years ago, but who'd be a bowler amidst this sort of slaughter? Guptill's ODI average now tops 40 (at 40.10) and now all it will take is for Ross Taylor to return to form and the World Cup final beckons!

(The camera-work does get a little wonky near the end - I was trying to film and take photos at the same time, which is seldom a great idea)

19 March 2015

The myth & reality of stagecoach travel in the Old West

Several factors have combined to create in the public mind a glorious but entirely false conception of stagecoach driving in the West. First there were European tourists and newspaper editors from the East who crossed the continent by stagecoach in the late 1850s and early '60s and then hurried home to write glamorised articles and memoirs. Few of them failed to include a stagecoach careening down a snakelike, precipitous mountain road hacked from the sheer granite walls with six horses galloping wildly, the driver flailing them with his whip and shouting at the top of his voice to urge them on while the skidding wheels struck sparks and "hurled rocks into the awesome canyon thousands of feet below".

Then there were the magnificent and highly imaginative paintings by Frederic Remington and Charlie Russell of Indian attacks on stagecoaches, the horses running frantically and the driver pouring on the leather.

The third factor was the western novel, stories of a romantic, glamorous, imaginary West that never was, with violence and fast action the chief ingredients used to achieve suspense and drama. In these sagas of the fantasy West no cowboy ever rode and no stagecoach ever rolled at less than an all-out gallop.

To complete the misconception, the movies, and now television, have firmly fixed the image, presenting visually this West-that-never-was, where every stagecoach is driven up hill and down at a breakneck gallop.

One may form a fairly good idea of the speed at which stagecoaches generally travelled throughout the West by making a few comparisons. A hundred and fifty miles a day - equal to six and a quarter miles an hour - was considered excellent cross-country time. This, of course, included stops for meals and for changing teams at relay stations, but a man has walked a rate of six and a quarter miles per hour. Ten miles per hour - six minutes to the mile - was bragging time for a stagecoach run over reasonably good non-mountain roads, but men can run a mile in under four minutes.

- Ralph Moody, Stagecoach West, New York, 1967, p.49-50.

Wells-Fargo stagecoach, San Francisco, April 2013
See also:
HistoryPublic transport comes to Onehunga, 10 February 2015
History: Coach travel from London in 1658 & 1739, 4 October 2013
History: The mysterious Mr Tibbet, 27 April 2009

18 March 2015

How chip speed growth has slowed

Year Processor Clock speed (MHz)
1971 4004 0.108
1974 8080 2
1982 286 6
1989 486 25
1993 Pentium 66
1997 Pentium II 300
2000 Pentium 4 1500
2006 Core 2 Duo 2660
2012 3rd generation Core 2900

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Adapted from a graphic in Matthew Chalmers, 'Need for speed: Why computers stopped getting faster', New Scientist, 21 February 2015, p.42-3.