Thursday, October 8, 2015

100 years of general relativity

Whenever I set out to describe something I always end up coming across words that are familiar to me. But until I understand what these words mean they are nothing more than labels on boxes. Each box reveals another box. I keep opening boxes until I reach a limit where the effort to proceed exceeds my capacity (and willingness) to learn. I look at the many boxes left unopened. And hope that what I understand to be true represents a fair description of a reality that exists.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rushmore 1

Top five movies of all time:

1. The Incredibles (2004)

2. Rushmore (1998)

3. Seven Samurai (1954)

4. My Life as a Dog (1985)

 in a dead tie with Moon (2009)

5. Star Wars (1977)

Well, ok, that's six movies.

Before you get huffy that your favourite movie didn’t make the list the next five are:

6. All About Eve (1950)

7. Toy Story (1995)

8. La Femme Nikita (1990)

9. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

10. American Beauty (1999)

Still not on the list? Was it Ikiru (1952)? Das Boot (1981)? Pulp Fiction (1994)? Infernal Affairs (2002)? The Usual Suspects (1995)? Saving Private Ryan (1998)? City of God (2002)? Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)? Kick-Ass (2010)? The Triplets of Belleville (2003)? Donnie Darko (2001)? Fight Club (1999)? Three Colours: Blue (1993)? 





Well I’m afraid I can’t help you.

Number 2 on the list: Max Fischer in Rushmore

The full script for this flawless movie can be found here. Should you not be able to spare the time then a brief outline of it’s structure can be found here. No? How about a real short youtube video from an amateur imitator of Wes Anderson’s unmistakable style here.

Still no?


Rushmore 2

Blume: What's the secret, Max?
Fischer: The secret?
Blume: Yeah, you seem to have it pretty figured out.
Fischer: The secret, I don't know... I guess you've just gotta find something you love to do and then... do it for the rest of your life. For me, it's going to Rushmore.

Blume: Sharp little guy.
Dr Guggenheim: He's one of the worst students we've got.

Classic hand-painted Australian track bike. Speedwell was the Sydney competitor of the well-known Melbourne-based Malvern Star brand. Airlite hubs with Kundtz laminated wood rims. Mansfield Eclipse saddle. All original as owned and raced by W M Bigley.

Seat Tube (ctt): 22.5in (57cm) 
Frame tubing: Reynolds 531 double butted
Sold originally: 23/1/53 built by Eddie Oliver, nephew of Les Cassell, owner and founder of Thanet Cycles
This is one of the very best Thanet Silverlights I have seen. It has a period respray, I should think done in the mid 1950s, when the frame was updated to take a Simplex 543 gear. It’s fitted with the very best in equipment from the 1950s:
- Simplex 543 rear gear
- Duprat hollow cranks
- Hobbs (of Barbican the coolest name for a bicycle company after “Ironhorse” and “Steelman Cycles”) Lytalloy pedals
- Chater-Lea large flange hubs built onto Constrictor Asp rims
- Brooks B17 Swallow saddle on a Reynolds aluminium seatpost
- GB Hiduminium brakes
All the parts are in excellent lightly used condition. The frame is in excellent condition with only a few small marks to the paint and no dents or dings. 

Fausto Coppi rode a Bianchi. In this Bianchi a jumble of old bits from different eras somehow come together perfectly. Purists will disapprove. Check out the Brooks B17 Swallow saddle with wonderful patina. Repainted by CyclArt. 

Another Bianchi frame with the distinctive integrated headset. For a cretin that can’t tell the difference between a Campione del Mondo and a Competizione, I’m not exactly sure how a couple of Bianchi frames ended up in the troll’s den. Maybe it’s because 16 billion of them were made and the ebay troll casts his net indiscriminately so his catch often contains collateral. What the troll has learnt is that if you happen to possess a Campione del Mondo then it must be fitted with all its original (Bianchi stamped) components right down to the rotting tubulars raced in 1953. It’s the law. And if you don’t want to play that game then you clearly don’t deserve to own one. A Competizione, on the other hand, can be fitted with just about anything so long as it’s not Shimano. This one has aged rather nicely.

1985 Bianchi Specialissima (Italy)
(better images on Speedbicycles website)
Celeste has never been my favourite colour but it is a perfect match for the 1st generation Campagnolo C Record groupset. NOS unglued wheelset with large flange “sheriff star” C Record hubs. 2nd generation delta brake calipers with faded Campy logo. Campagnolo Biodinamica 900 bidon with shield logo. ‘Nuff said.

Iconic Cinelli. BB oil ports date the frame before the mid 60s. Relaxed, quirky restoration with orange repaint. Campagnolo groupset upgraded in the late 60s with Campagnolo’s first generation brake calipers without engraving and first generation Nuovo Record rear derailleur without patent date. Original Nitor seatpost and Unicanitor plastic saddle.

Absence of topside BB oil port and lugs without three holes date the frame between 1965 and 1970. Build is period-correct for Campagnolo Record components prior to 1968 with innovative Cinelli Bivalent hubset. Complete frame restoration leaving little evidence of previous ownership. 

Gotta have a mixte frame in the collection and the Grandis is a fine bike. Classic Italian build with long point lugs.

An early Carlsbad Masi is the ultimate in Italian style and American craftsmanship. Twin plate fork. Repaint by Brian Baylis who may well have painted the original frame. Campagnolo Nuovo Record groupset. Later style Cinelli stem and bars with matching suede Ideale saddle suit the classic champagne colour scheme.

Innovative tubeset that brought Alberto out of the shadow of his renowned father, Faliero Masi. Stiff and responsive makes this ideally suited for a pursuit frame. No serial number so probably a custom frame built by Ted Kirkbride/ Jim Allen with lug lip removed for a smoother appearance. Head lug flipped and used on the junction between top tube and extended seat tube. Graced with the venerable Campagnolo steel track headset.

Track frame in TI-Raleigh team livery (1974-1983). One of the most recognisable team colours of any era. Manufactured by Carlton Cycles with 531 tubing and rather unusual long-point lugs. 2008 Stronglight A9 headset. Mixed-period build.

One of many small builders from Italy. Elegant lug work with clever braze-on derailleur guides over the BB. Campagnolo Super/ Nuovo Record group, Mavic rims, Selle Royal Super Contour saddle, 3ttt bars and stem with original tape.

One-off fillet brazed single speed steel frame made by Georges Pflugi (Basel) for Schrade. Probably made around 1985. Frame number 18334, tubing unknown with Mercier (France) aero front fork. Custom built with mixed Campagnolo components, several parts modified.  
Crankset: Campagnolo Super Record strada with 50t chainring
Hubs: 1950s (!) Campagnolo Gran Sport, high flange, 32 holes, modified with Campagnolo pista axles
Rims: Vittoria CG-Pro tubular 700c, 32 holes
Freewheel: fixed sprocket, 20t, no lock ring
Chain: DID, nickel
Brake calipers: Campagnolo Super Record (last series), rear brake modified to nutted mount
Brake levers: Campagnolo C Record with original hoods
Saddle: San Marco Concor Supercorsa Confort
Seat post: Campagnolo Record 26.8mm, shortened
Handlebar: Cinelli Giro d'Italia, 400mm ctc, original cotton bar tape
Stem: Cinelli 1R old logo, 100mm ctc, pantographed with name of framebuilder
Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Record, French thread
Headset: Campagnolo Super Record, French thread

Built by Ugo Chiesa for Emilio Zanzi a bicyclist, mechanic and shopowner also hailing from Bologna. Campagnolo 50th group (no 9219), Cinelli bar and stem, Brooks saddle, Fir clinchers, and Gipiemme aluminium freewheel. A fine gentleman’s bike in original condition.

An icon of the pre-index gear bicycle this Saronni replica is outfitted with Campagnolo’s 50th anniversary groupset (no 7980) and Mavic’s uber-pro SSC rims. Ernesto Colnago signature stem with matching signature decal on top tube added later but ties in nicely with the Tullio Campagnolo signatures on the groupset. Cromovelato with full chrome under the red clear coat. Nice to look at. Easy to chip.

The archetypal steel lugged bicycle. Candy red (cromovelato) Colnago Mexico made famous by Giuseppe Saronni after winning the 1982 World Championships. Campagnolo Super Record groupset. Selle San Marco Supercorsa saddle. Cinelli bars and stem. Mavic GP4 rims. Clement tubulars. Clean lines in mint original condition.

First of the production Colnago Masters with decal indicating ‘special’ Columbus tubing. Early Masters have head lugs similar in design to those seen in the earlier Supers and Mexicos. Also note the fluted chainstays of the early Master (and Master Equilateral) frames. Decorated with Campagnolo’s 50th anniversary groupset (no 0497). Iscaselle Time saddle in lizard skin with integrated clock. Oh yeah..

Another icon and Colnago made lots of them. These two Masters wear the lug shapes typical of this breed along with the decal indicating the Gilco-designed tubing. Purchased originally to match C Record components already collected - and well before the collection got out of hand. Note the change in the seat lug and dropouts during the reign of the Master Olympic/ Master Light. 

WTF? How many Masters do you need? This one with Campagnolo C Record group and Cobalto brakeset.

Colnago Masters rode beautifully and won lots of races over the many years of production. In the 1990‘s Colnago introduced the Decor colour scheme (this purple-orange haze is one of the more unusual variations) and in the mid-90’s this is what an impressionable cyclist in his mid-twenties wanted: a Colnago Master with wacky paint and Campagnolo’s latest Record group (post C Record era). It was what everyone wanted. 

Yet another Colnago Master. Possibly the most popular of the Decor colour schemes. This one is fitted with 2008 Campagnolo Chorus and ever-dependable Mavic Ksyrium clinchers. Note the limited edition, chrome-painted (!) Deda Alanera handlebars.

An icon of keirin track racing. Earlier version with Yoshi Konno’s propriety lugs and Superends and Ohtsuya bottom bracket shell. Mixture of Japanese parts including NOS Shimano 600 EX brakeset with rusty French Simplex QR levers for fixed-gear road riding. Allegedly built by Masahiko Makino. Later version almost certainly made by the Makino factory. Made for track racing with Cinelli-like, cut-out spoons on lugset and full NJS parts (Nitto, Hatta, Superbe Pro, Araya, Kashimax).

Phil Anderson rode for the Panasonic team from 1984-1987. The last two years of this tenure on Eddy Merckx frames. Good enough for me. This example fitted with Shimano Dura-Ace 7400/2.

Columbus Cyclex tubing with every tube specifically shaped to resist deforming forces. Very short production run so bikes like this are a rare find. Lug work and repaint suboptimal (compare to Erickson of same vintage) but a superb handling bike for fast crits. Check out tolerances for the rear triangle. Fitted with 1993 Campagnolo Chorus Ergopower, early Chris King Gripnut headset, Mavic open 4CD ceramic rims and lusciously exclusive ICS-modified Look pedals.

Small sized, fillet brazed frame assembled without additional refinement to the fillet. A statement of technical competence from the craftsmen at Toei. 1980s Suntour Cyclone derailleurs, TA Specialties chainset, Mafac brakes, 650A Araya rims on Normandy hubs, Fukuya front rack, Honjo fenders, internal wire routing. Gilles Berthoud luggage (GB805, GB786BKF) with modern Klick-Fix attachments added 2014.

Custom frame built by Glenn Erickson of Seattle. Clean lines with superb attention to detail typical of the master frame-builders from the US. Uncertain tubing but known to prefer Tange Prestige (also worked with Reynolds & Columbus).

The first Lucentezza frame (polished hand-cut stainless steel lugs) that Darrell McCulloch built (for himself). Columbus Neuron main tubes with Columbus Nemo seatstays and chainstays. Henry James plug-in dropouts. Polished BB shell. The first time Dazza uses a stainless steel plate with heart motif between the seat stays (ie this one is hand-cut). Serial number 202. 52cm ST ctc. 54.5cm TT ctc. 73° HT & ST angles. Paint by Joe Cosgrove. 
‘Nuff said. 

Lugwork with crisp shore lines and precise feathering are one thing. Hand cut lugs with multiple variations of windows and cut-outs, curls and scrolls, fleur-de-lys, spearpoints and arrowheads, add-on filigree work and bilaminations are another dimension altogether. Predominantly a British obsession in the 1940s-60s, a small collective of artisans mainly in the US and Llewellyn (Darrell McCulloch) in Australia have maintained the tradition with wonderful bespoke frames. This custom frame with hand-cut, ss lugs based on the Mercian Superlight was made by David Bohm (of Bohemian Cycles) and me (!) at his framebuilding class in November 2009. Note the Bohemian Cycles handmade silver badges. 52cm ST ctc. 55cm TT ctc. 73° HT & ST angles. 
Chromed De Rosa Cinquanta bars, Tune Fastfoot cranks, Campagnolo Chorus groupset, Zipp 303 wheelset.

The most fun bicycle ever made? 
Quite possibly.

Aluminium frame with Cannondale’s double-pass welds. Weld quality has varied over the years but this here is a particularly fine example. Production bicycle with mostly original parts including Cannondale-branded bars & stem, Ringle seatpost QR, 7spd Shimano XT groupset, and Ritchey Logic highlights. Contact points (pedals, saddle, grips) and wheelset are decidedly non-original. Spare Chris King/ Mavic wheelset (for Schraeder valve) and Long & Marshall Stardrive chainset (170mm) more appropriate for commuting purposes.

Carbon frame from the makers of Lightweight wheels. One of a number of interesting designs to come out of the nineteen nineties just as carbon fibre gained momentum as a viable and versatile material (for bicycle frame manufacture) and before the UCI ratified the Lugano Charter at the turn of the millennium. Penned in October 1996, in Lugano, Switzerland the charter remains the basis of the UCI’s technical rule book (part 1, chapter 3, to be specific). By establishing these rules the UCI (re)asserted its control over equipment and body positions that could be used in bicycle racing in an attempt to level the playing field and thereby rein in the innovation and inventiveness that had given their protagonists a decided advantage in the preceding decade (Francesco Moser 1984, Greg Lemond 1989, Chris Boardman 1992, Graeme Obree 1993/1995, and races against the clock in Atlanta, 1996 all come to mind). A grand plan to return bicycle racing to a test of physical prowess rather than a technological arms race (notwithstanding the inevitable conflicts trying to align such ideals in a sport inextricably intertwined with technology). Bicycles that do not conform to the UCI rule book cannot be used in UCI-sanctioned races. And bicycles (and components) that cannot be used in UCI-sanctioned races don’t sell. Strict adherence to such rules spelled the end of Cinelli’s excellent Spinaci bars and of bicycle designs such as this. Specifically, in the bike’s case, the wording that all racing bicycles be “built around a main triangle” and that the rear triangles be “formed by the chain stays, the seat stays, and the seat tube (modification to article 1.3.020 adopted by the UCI Management Committee on 1st September, 1999). The Campagnolo Chorus groupset and Scirocco wheelset date from 1996. The delta brakes and Chorus brifters from 1994.

Collaboration between RMIT and the AIS. This specimen has the later 700c front wheel geometry (also note the reduced faring around the rear wheel) and currently wears a mixed Campagnolo group with early Chorus road cranks and even earlier Record track hubs attached to Sidney 2000 rims. Competition pursuit frame devolved. UCI legal until September 1999. (More accurately, the UCI regulated that as of the 1st January, 1998 the “structure of the bicycle connecting the saddle, pedals and front fork shall be triangular”, that “its component parts must be tubes or profiles, the form of which may be freely elected. Their minimum width shall be 2.5cm. The maximum width shall be 8cm for the frame, the rear stays, the fork and the seat tube”, that “the wheels of the bicycle must be of equal diameter”, and that “the use of other existing models on 31 Dec 1997 will still be allowed until the 31st December 1999, without prejudice to the application of article 1.3.024”. The amendment came into force on the 1st January, 1999.)
And Campagnolo Ghibli disc wheels.

Titanium frame made by Lynskey for Planet X. Eclectic, period-incorrect/ignorant, gram-shaving project build with an industrial aesthetic. Cook Bros Racing RSR cranks, Huret Jubilee RD (note this version has the integrated tab for the now ubiquitous Campagnolo dropout), Simplex retrofriction shifter, Zero Gravity calipers with Mafac levers, Thomson Elite setback seatpost and X2 stem, Deda Newton bars, Selle Italia SLR ti-railed saddle, and early production (red-tinged clearcoat, delabelled) Zipp 202’s.

Wes Anderson's next movie was (of course):

 all memory of the brilliance of the young Tenenbaums had been erased by two decades of betrayal, failure and disaster...

Critics of Wes Anderson say that he is self-absorbed, his movies overly-stylised (albeit impeccably composed); his characters altogether under-developed, unbelievable and insufferable; that his entire oeuvre is utterly removed from reality.



Let me leave you with some snippets from Mr Anderson's breakthrough masterpiece.

Dirk Calloway: [in a letter to Max] Dear Max, I am sorry to say that I have secretly found out that Mr. Blume is having an affair with Miss Cross. My first suspicions came when I saw them Frenching in front of our house. And then I knew for sure when they went skinny dipping in Mr. Blume's swimming pool, giving each other handjobs while you were taking a nap on the front porch.

Blume: [on Max's offering a small box] What's this? 
[Herman opens it and looks] 
Fischer: That's the Perfect Attendance Award and the Punctuality Award. I got those at Rushmore. I thought you could choose which one you like more, and you could wear one and I could wear the other. 
Blume: [after gravely considering both the proffered olive branch and the choice] 
I'll take Punctuality. 
Fischer: [smiles] Okay.