The Null Device

2010/10/20

Two German engineers has found a way around the EU's ban on incandescent lightbulbs: by selling them as "heatballs", heating devices which just happen to emit light:

Rotthaeuser studied EU legislation and realised that because the inefficient old bulbs produce more warmth than light -- he calculated heat makes up 95 percent of their output, and light just 5 percent -- they could be sold legally as heaters.
On their website, the two engineers describe the heatballs as "action art" and as "resistance against legislation which is implemented without recourse to democratic and parliamentary processes."
There is a market there; a small demographic of people who prefer incandescent lightbulbs and another one of people willing to spend money for the joy of spiting the leftists, greens and other politically-correct do-gooders.

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British branding expert Simon Anholt, who specialises in advising governments on national identity and reputation, has said that Australia has the image of the "dumb blonde" of the world, seen as attractive but shallow and unintelligent. Which is good when convincing people to fly over to see world-class beaches and koalas, but not so good when Australia's international image takes a battering over something like the wave of racist attacks on Indian students, which has apparently taken a toll on one of Australia's larger non-primary-resource industries, international education.

Mr Anholt said Australia was ranked best in the world for natural beauty and as a place to visit if money was no object. But he said the success of Australia's tourism promotion campaigns had produced an ''unbalanced'' view of the country. ''What you have is an image of a country that is considered to be very decorative, but not very useful,'' he said.
Anholt also said that Australia relied too much on "logos and slogans" for promoting itself on a superficial level, and was unique among developed countries (not counting the US, for obvious reasons) for not having an organisation devoted to promoting its culture abroad, like Germany's Goethe Institut or France's Alliance Fran├žaise. (Though the austerity-age UK may soon be joining the Aussies in this respect; wasn't the British Council one of the quangos scheduled to be abolished?)
Mr Anholt said the US did not have such an organisation, but arguably did not need one because of the global reach of its entertainment industry. ''But Australia has Les Patterson, and I don't think that's enough.''
Given the fact that Australia's economy is doing rather well, but is almost entirely dependent on the inherited wealth of primary resources (mostly mining), rather than skills, culture or intellectual capital, does this make Australia the Paris Hilton of countries, i.e., a bubbly heiress who can get away (for now, at least) with being a bit dim by virtue of being loaded?

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Today, a Deutsche Bahn ICE3 high-speed train made an appearance at London's St. Pancras International. p1150567 The train had been towed into the tunnel the previous night and used in an evacuation exercise, where some 300 volunteers (mostly British and German students) successfully evacuated it in four minutes. (Article with more details, in German.) From there it was towed along the high speed line (the train type does not yet have regulatory approval to run under its own power in Britain) and parked at St. Pancras for display. It was behind glass, in the secure area, and while journalists and VIPs (including, apparently, The Man In Seat 61) were shown around, the general public had to content themselves with viewing it through the glass wall, the train's red LED destination board tantalisingly scrolling destinations including Amsterdam, Cologne and Frankfurt.

Deutsche Bahn plan to start services through the tunnel in December 2013; that is apparently how long it'll take to get regulatory issues sorted out and a fleet of trains prepared. The service will run towards Brussels, where trains will split, with one half going up to Amsterdam via Rotterdam, and the other half going eastwards to Frankfurt. It'll be interesting to see whether this results in cheaper rail fares through the tunnel.

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