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Google Ngram "railway station" all English: click to embiggenI cringe when people talk about the “train station”. “It’s ‘railway station’, you morons,” screams my brain. Well as it turns out, they’re actually not stupid — at least not for that reason. It’s just another relatively modern shift in language.

The chart at the top of the post is a Google Ngram search of their entire English corpus since 1820 — the first public steam railway in the world was the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825 — comparing the usage of “railway station” (blue) versus “railroad station” (red) and “train station” (orange).

You can click through to the full-size chart, or run the search yourself.

As you can see, the most common usage has almost always been “railway station”, with “railroad station” distinctly second-place. A “train station” wasn’t even a thing until the 1950s, but it rose in popularity quite quickly. “Train station” has been the most common usage since the mid-1990s, although it has been declining again since around 2000. I wonder why.

My understanding is that many railway terms derived from the military, because until the railways came along nothing else had been organised on that sort of trans-national and even trans-continental scale except armies. Hence trains have “guards” for their safe operation, and “stations” along the line where staff are stationed to maintain the entire railway system — including fuel, water, trackwork and signalling.

Railway stations are therefore part of a railway’s entire operation, not merely “train stations” for trains to stop at. For me, someone talking about “train stations” is showing their ignorance of how railways work: it’s more than just the trains.

Since I had the Google open in front of me, I thought I’d look at the variations in US versus UK English. It seems that “railroad station” isn’t the dominant American usage that I’d imagined.

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Aubrey of Weird Coast T-shirts: click to embiggen

Is Android the reason we can’t have nice things any more? Astronaut Neil Armstrong: what a liar! And buttcrack, can you ever have too much?

In this episode we talk to a man somehow connected to Weird Coast T-Shirts (pictured above), and we hear about an orphan bear in Idaho.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

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If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733. Not that anyone ever does.

[Update 6 August 2013: Photograph added, and text adjusted to suit.]

[Credits: Feature image of Aubrey from Weird Coast T-shirts taken by Stilgherrian on 3 September 2012, all rights reserved. The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Screenshot of NYTimes.com: click for original storyOn 31 January The New York Times reported that it had been hacked by China, their networks penetrated for some four months. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post too. So naturally I ended up writing about it.

For Crikey I wrote China not the only ones taking part in cyber spookery, which puts these attacks in the context of the online espionage and sabotage operations of recent years.

“Countless organisations have experienced the same scenario in recent years,” I wrote. “But it’s big news this time because journalists were the targets.” Cynical, perhaps, but I gather security über-expert Bruce Schneier said much the same thing, so I’m kinda chuffed.

And for CSO Online I wrote Chinese attacks show up useless infosec, again.

“Recent attacks on US newspapers are further proof that, despite making billions, the information security industry is pretty much screwed,” it begins. That one won’t make me any friends. So nothing new there.

I must admit, I found both stories fairly straightforward to write. I guess I’ve been writing about this stuff long enough to feel confident about it.

China has denied the accusations, of course.

As it happens, this week’s On the Media podcast from WNYC begins with a six-minute backgrounder on the hacks which is well worth the listen.

I’m heading to San Francisco for VMware’s VMworld 2012 event starting on Sunday 26 August and staying on for the rest of the week.

I see that the logo features the words “Right here right now”. If they play that effing Fat Boy Slim song, I will truly go postal!

This will be my fifth visit to San Francisco in the last two years, and I must admit the place really is growing on me. Apart from the fact that it’s in that collapsing empire called the US. It does depress me to see the disabled veterans begging on the streets.

I mentioned this trip on Twitter about half an hour ago and already I’ve been told to visit a “beer mecca” called Toronado. What else, do you think?

And yes, I’m travelling as VMware Inc’s guest.

The Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s uranium enrichment program was indeed launched by the US, according to a major investigative report published by the New York Times shortly before I was due to appear on ABC Local Radio this evening.

So guess what we talked about.

Yes, the Stuxnet worm, as well as the newly-discovered Flame worm that’s been in the news this week — including my Day 1 piece for Crikey and Day 2 for CSO Online.

The host was Dom Knight, and here’s a recording of the whole conversation.

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The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. As usual, I post the material I’m involved with here as an archive and reference.

This is being posted a bit late. It’s a conversation about the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Wikipedia blackout originally broadcast on 18 January. So it’s been overtaken by more recent events.
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The presenters, as usual, are Keith Conlon and John Kenneally at 1395 FIVEaa, two chaps I used to work with back at ABC 891 Adelaide some… um, some years ago.

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The audio is ©2012 dmgRadio Australia, but here it is ‘cos it hasn’t been posted on the radio station’s website. Besides, this is a reasonable plug.

The 9pm EdictWorld’s most impatient meth cook found in Oklahoma. She couldn’t even wait to get home. Australians are self-obsessed entitled wankers. And won’t someone think of the children? Senator Conroy dropped the f-bomb on national television!

I think he did it deliberately. Watch the video and see for yourself.

Also, Australians are a bunch of wankers with an inflated sense of entitlement.

We are the richest people in the world. And, as Possum of Possum’s Pollytics explained in Crikey last Thursday, we lead the world in everything from decent minimum wages to economic growth over the past decade. Read that article. Please. And while you’re at it, see where you sit on the Global Rich List.

We also hear about the world’s most impatient meth dealer.

You can listen below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

[Update 16 December 2011: My comments about Senator Conroy's f-bomb have sparked some interest. If you're after that bit, it starts exactly 11 minutes into the program.]

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If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets, for those who haven’t been paying attention properly.

It’s a bit thin this week. After doing 30+ hours and a couple of all-nighters last weekend for that server migration I mentioned last time, I’ve been taking it slowly during this week. And I’m getting this post done on Friday night because I’m heading to Newcastle first thing tomorrow.

Articles

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 59, “Opening up the cloud”. My guest is open-source software developer and advocate Jeff Waugh. In a wide-ranging conversation they cover Linode and OpenStack; as well as DevOps, a new software development paradigm that involves operational staff in the entire development process; a DevOps tool called Cucumber, and its plug-in cucumber-nagios, written by Australian developer Lindsay Holmwood; and the social source code management system Github. And Richard Chirgwin debunks the myth that optical fibre only lasts 15 or 20 years.

Geekery

I’ll tell you more about what I’ve been doing next week.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: Making TV at Aria: Lisa Creffield of Sky News Business interviews Peter Baxter from AVG at Aria Restaurant, Circular Quay, Sydney, following a lunchtime media briefing.]

Stilgherrian’s links for 08 November 2009 through 18 November 2009:

See what happens when you don’t curate your links for ten days, during which time there’s a conference which generates a bazillion things to link to? Sigh.

This is such a huge batch of links that I’ll start them over the fold. They’re not all about Media140 Sydney, trust me.

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Stilgherrian’s links for 22 October 2009 through 27 October 2009, published after far too long a break. I really, really do need to work out a better way of doing this…

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