April 14, 2010
Here is a selection of somewhat recent positive developments in the world of American railroad heritage preservation.
April 14, 2010
While I generally don’t like to complain and rant on complaints, in my web-browsing I found myself facing a rather awkward Google Map.
I have know that the GIS data they use can be erroneous at times (often based on census-data, which uses its own created “places” that often don’t correspond to the residents’ or historians’ conception of an area), but this example is rather atrocious in terms of classic cartography.
January 12, 2010
My series of short posts on mathematically fun dates presents an appropriate timing for another calendrical quandry that I have been mulling over several years.
In the classic MGM musical film “Singing in the Rain”, the main characters are sitting around in a raining night, when they have a flash of inspiration on how to turn their film fiasco upside-down. One looks at the tear-off calendar, proclaiming that that would be the day to be remembered – and another promptly notes that it was past midnight, and was actually the next day. Yet is this always the morning?
January 11, 2010
A happy binary day to all. Namely “30″ day. Further, binary aside, the short form of the date is also a palindrome!
Just how special are such days? There are only 2^4 binary dates (16) in any given century (although a calendar format would allow for 2^6, the lack of any month or date that is “00″ reduces it down). After today, there are only six such dates remaining this century.
Furthermore, there are only THREE binary palindromes PER CENTURY – today included! (the others being 10/11/01 and 11/11/11 (which will be quite a party indeed – Veteran’s day to boot (11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month… enough!!) )
What a fun year this is for those who love calendar mathematics!
January 2, 2010
Today is the rarest of occurences – a date which happens to be a palindrome!
That said, this occurrence is in the American system of dates (M/D/Y). We have to wait for Groundhog Day (February 1st) for the same to occur in the English system (D/M/Y).
January 1, 2010
So, as the first movie of the year, if not the decade, I watched the largely forgotten sci-fi classic 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
The lesser know sequel to the enormously famous 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010 (dir. Peter Hyams) departs from the heavy high artistry of the former (dir. Stanley Kubrick), to instead take a conventional yet still scenic route. Whereas 2001 tends to bewilder, befuddle, and for many bore (all part of its mistique), 2010 instead seeks to clarify and explain what-on-Jupiter happened in the first filmed. In doing this, 2o1o is a very different film, and yet is nonetheless worthy of being sequel to one of the most famous films in cinema history.
December 14, 2009
Is a Red Ryder BB gun not enough to meet your Christmas cinematic ordnance needs? How about a 45 MM anti-aircraft cannon in your front yard?
Steven Spielberg’s “1941″ is the most unconventional sort of “Christmas film” – one set in the middle of December 1941 and the hysteria enveloping Los Angeles and its surrounds at the outset of WWII. Yet there are enough Christmas trees, lights, santas, and wreaths to make it thematic enough to have an excuse to go out and rent it.
Released on December 14, 1979, it may not be in the hall of the greatest films ever made, yet it is far from the alleged flop and forgotten film it has become, and deserves to be reconsidered.
November 18, 2009
Dear Readers (whatever handful you may be),
I have realized that my intentions to keep this as a blog of small musings and essays, while well intentioned, might not be the best use of the platform. Rather, I have found that my own rovings and explorations of the internet – in particular regarding culture and historic preservation – and thoughts on things I have found might be better conveyed (rather than just posting links on facebook to stuff I find neat, or slapping them up on AIM – yes, I am still an avid fan of the service). I will still try to provide small essays, op-eds, and musings at about the same, irregular and long frequency, so they won’t be missed. I hope that this change is appreciated, and will be of use, education, or entertainment to those who come here,
T. Morgan Riley
June 9, 2009
In the rush to declare the waning days of the printed media (be it newspapers, books, or paperwork), many commentators or advertisers exclaim that a switch to digital media will help save innocent trees from the slaughter. That argument is logically equivalent in many ways to saying that one can save a cow by eating fewer hamburgers, save sugarfields by eating less sugar, save cornfields and wheatfields by eating less corn and wheat, and save pitiful carrots from being torn up by the roots by avoiding vegetable medleys. Namely, the trees are in many cases actually agricultural (technically, forestry or silvicultural) products – and further that without the demand for such wood products, those forests might not exist as such in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
April 24, 2009
[Editor's Note: This was meant to go out several months ago]
As one of the most iconic pieces of technology in human history, the steam locomotive died a relatively rapid death in the middle of the 20th century, lingering on behind the Iron Curtain and in pre-industrialized countries until there too it was phased out. The reasons for such take up whole volumes, varying by railroad and country. Yet a few locomotive designers continued on, most notably the late L.D. Porta of Argentina, applying a scientific approach to the task, and designing new improvements (with particular focus on efficiency) working to push the designs past where it had abruptly ended, in some cases successfully testing them out.
Now, a solitary new locomotive is born from the island nation which first breathed fire into one almost 200 years ago. Not a small theme-park style one (there are makers of those), rather a full-service capable powerhorse of a machine adapted from one of the more succesful late-era designs, one which in terms of speed and power could outdo many of today’s diesels.
Hopefully this bodes well for another project, headed by several of Porta’s disciples, to built a new engine, based on the half-century or so years of improvements since the untimely decline of mainstream steam traction.