The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'british empire'
Tristan Da Cunha, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, the world's most remote inhabited island and one of the few remaining parts of the British Empire, now has a postcode. The island's Royal Mail postcode is TDCU 1ZZ. The governor has since received a parcel from amazon.co.uk, sent to commemorate the island's new postcode.
Curiously enough, while the island is served by Britain's domestic postal system, mail sent there is first sent to South Africa, a foreign country, where it is placed aboard a fishing boat, the total journey taking up to a month. (Tristan Da Cunha is not reachable by air, for lack of an airstrip.) Which means that either (a) it is one of very few British domestic destinations to which mail has to go through customs, or (b) this is a loophole which allows parcels to travel between Britain and South Africa without customs clearance.
The South African capital, currently known as Pretoria, is being renamed to Tshwane, the name of an ancient African king, and also a word meaning something like "unity". The renaming has to do with breaking links with the old colonial white minority regime.
By the same token, perhaps when the republican debate restarts in Australia, we can expect proposals for renaming Australian cities. After all, why should cities bear the names of dead English noblemen like Viscount Sydney or Lord Melbourne (let alone areas named after imperial war heroes like Baron Collingwood)? Perhaps, if Germaine Greer's Aboriginal republic ever comes about, Sydney can be renamed to "Warrane" or similar, and other places can have similar post-colonial name changes.
One of the last remnants of the British Empire, Tristan da Cunha is a small, isolated island in the South Atlantic, halfway between Africa and South America. It has no airport and is visited by passenger ships once every six months or so. However, it now has an online newspaper.
There is a movement in Canada, a nation not known for its imperialist ambitions, to annex the Turks and Caicos islands. The islands are a British Crown Colony (i.e., essentially one of the few remaining parts of the British Empire; they are written up in Simon Winchester's Outposts as such), though, the site argues, closer ties with near-neighbour Canada, perhaps leading up to union, would have advantages for both sides (the Canucks would get a warm, sunny province and a foot in the door of the Caribbean/Latin American market (not to mention a forward base for their eventual invasion of the USA), while the islands would get a reduced cost of living, increased investment, expanded educational opportunities and subsidised health care. (via MeFi)
Australia's first digital computer and the oldest existing example of its type, the valve-powered behemoth CSIRAC, now has a permanent home at the Melbourne Museum. Built in 1949, CSIRAC consumed 30 kilowatts, and was less powerful than a modern pocket calculator, though achieved some impressive things for its day. Apparently -- or so I heard from a retired academic -- it was shut down in 1964 after the Foreign Office in London had a word to the local powers that be, sternly informing them that Australia has no business doing research not related to primary industry (i.e. mining or farming).