Eight Things I Hate About Living In Hobart – Six Years On

Six years ago to the day, I wrote a bit of a rant about Hobart. At the time I thought nothing of it, my blog only has three readers (Hello!). Of course, there’s Google.

Over time, this one post has attracted more visits than any other post on my blog (I haven’t done the hard numbers, but my guess is that it would be more than all other posts combined). Which annoys me, since over the last six years Hobart has become an amazing place to live. So let me address a few points:

  • Hobart is no longer boring. Thanks in a large part to MONA, Hobart has a huge art and events scene. Apart from the dead of winter, Hobart is a live and happening place.
  • The public transport system is largely fixed. It goes where you want to go, and unless you’re trying to get from one satellite suburb to another (Tranmere to Kingston for example) it won’t take forever. It could still have improvement (most public transport systems could) but it’s better than it was.
  • The roads are better too. We’ve had a lot of capital works done recently, and a lot more coming up. Bypasses and on-ramps are being constructed at an amazing speed. Intersections are being improved.
  • We got the NBN, Australia’s fibre to the house/node/something network, before any other states. I have a solid fibre connection to my house, and bandwidth is almost never an issue any more.
  • Thanks to a few by-law modifications in the CBD area, walking through a haze of cigarette smoke while shopping is much reduced. The CBD is a lovely place now.

I won’t comment on TV (apart from the cricket and ABC News 24, I hardly watch it any more). We also still get a few two-headed-Tasmanian jokes from mainlanders, but I think they’re jealous these days. All in all, it’s a pretty good place to be.

As a final note, it seems the ABC agrees with me, writing an in-depth article about how much MONA has changed Hobart over the last five years.

linux.conf.au 2016 Plans

It’s that time of year again. This year LCA is being held in Geelong, and as such will require train travel, which is awesome. 😀

I’ll be flying in to Melbourne on Sunday the 31st of January, on flight VA 1321. I’ll arrive in Melbourne city just after midday, and my plan is to catch the 14:10 VLine train to Geelong. While in Geelong I’ll be sharing an apartment at Vue Apartments with a couple of friends. I generally stay in the university accommodation (where there is likely to be a high density of fellow LCA attendees), but this year the university accommodation is well out of the CBD, making it much less convenient than Vue.

Returning from Geelong, my plan is to catch an afternoon train from Geelong to Southern Cross on Saturday the 6th. I’ve pencilled in the 12:52 service, but this will probably depend on who else is travelling that afternoon and when they’re going. My flight back to Hobart is that evening, VA 1332 at 19:40. I love that flight this time of year; with the late sunset and generally good weather, you’re almost certain to get amazing views.

I’m already looking forward to a number of the talks:

It’s shaping up to be another great best-week-of-my-year (as I always tell people LCA is).

Why Thomas The Tank Engine Is Okay

I was recently linked to a story in the NZ Herald entitled “Why Thomas The Tank Engine Is Not Okay“. There were so many factual errors in the article, as well as a general lack of understanding that the fact that Thomas the Tank Engine is a commentary on British Railways’ policies in the 1940s and 1950s, that I could not let it stand.

Trains are sent to the scrapyard if they’re not useful. And we all know what that means – it means they’re executed.
[…]
There are no unions in Sodor, that’s for sure.

First of all, the human equivalent would be firing them (“making them redundant” in the capitalist jargon), not executing them. Secondly, unions don’t exist to prevent useless employees from being fired (except when unions have too much power), they are to prevent good employees from being taken advantage of.

The women trains are actually girl carriages.

Daisy (mentioned in the article) isn’t a carriage, she’s a diesel multiple unit (DMU). There’s a very important difference. In Britain in the 1950’s, DMUs were the future. Daisy is leading the way.

In addition, from a very quick look through the Wikipedia article, there are at least five female locomotives: Molly, Rosie, Belle, Mavis, and Flora. It’s definitely not a 50/50 mix gender-wise, and all of the original “Steam Team” are male, but it’s not zero. It’s just a basic lack of fact checking. Note that I’m not saying there shouldn’t be more female characters – I think there should be – but the article is just plain incorrect.

Either they have no personality (Daisy)…

This was the entire point of Daisy’s character. The Rev. Awdry (I believe) wanted to show diesel railcars as being unimaginative and dull compared to steam engines. This was a direct commentary on British Railways’ campaign to phase out steam engines on British main line railways in favour of diesel and electric propulsion. Steam then, as now, was seen as romantic and full of character compared to diesel. The character ‘Diesel’, the first diesel engine seen in the books, was rude and brash and nobody liked him – again, steam was better than diesel.

Every single character has a flaw in their personality. It’s part of the anthropomorphosis of the trains into people. Henry got bricked into a tunnel because he was too vain. James is rude and arrogant. They are all flawed, just like us.

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