Thursday, 31 May 2007

Doctor Battlestar 7

According to the Times, the BBC is developing a new series which is essentially an update of Blakes 7 redone in the Battlestar Galactica "reimaginging" mode that will be a
Tense and fast-paced series about cooperation and conflict, idealism and power, sexual competition and love. Most of all it is about our life’s big imperatives — cheating death, seeking suitable mates and surviving as a species.
Translation: Stand by for the New Doctor Who treatment. In place of suspense, plot, adventure, action, purposeful dialogue, exotic locations, memorable characters, solid stories and a sense of wonder expect "believable" characters who are really emotional cripples played by pretty actors who couldn't carry a scene in a bucket, pedestrian locales, soap opera writing that goes nowhere, blatant left-wing editorialising, iron-clad political correctness, endless dialogue that never advances the plot, a muddy backstory, and a strong feeling of resentment when it turns out that all the conundrums were nothing but a series-long tease that had zero dramatic purpose when finally revealed.

No wonder I burn with a hard gem-like flame.

Interplanetary Business Department

From the Sun-Sentinel:
Company that makes Nasa telescope parts moving to Jupiter
Come to Jupiter: Lower taxes, investment incentives, stellar live theatre & five-star restaurants, excellent traffic infrastructure, a booming real estate market and handy for Saturn on the weekends.

Shame about the gravity, though.

Sound of Silence

Rachel Carson at 100: Green heroine or architect of alarmism?

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Slidewalks of Paris

Edison Moving Sidewalk 1900 Paris
Uploaded by donaldtheduckie

Not exactly Heinlein's "rolling road," but for Paris in 1900 this is pretty impressive

Tip o' the hat to Paleo-Future.

Another Nail

Officers of West Mercia Constabulary are abandoning the traditional white shirt and tie in favour of a tee shirt of the sort of material and cut that one associates less with law enforcement than those aggravating cyclists who have all the road sense of a spavined duck.

On reflection, this is probably a good move. I for one will think twice about committing a crime West Mercia's stomping ground of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire. The thought of being arrested by someone in such a clown suit is too embarrassing to contemplate

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength

This opening sentence of a BBC report about the smoking ban stamping down on Britain is classic (emphasis added):

Buckingham Palace has to, so does 10 Downing Street, and even St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. When it comes to the no smoking symbol, the ban on lighting up in enclosed public places is very democratic.

Strange that. I've been a writer & editor for thirty years and until now I didn't know that "democratic" and "totalitarian" were synonyms.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

New Tales of Future Past Section

We are pleased to announce that a new section has been added to Tales of Future Past. For your entertainment and edification we present Moonbase 3.

The Lunar colony that never was, but should have been.

One Day in Venezuela

"I am shocked, shocked that Chavez seized control of the media."

Sleepy Time

Space hibernation from fancy to fact courtesy of
Human Hibernation Breaktrhough That Could Send Us to Sleep for Months
The technique involves chilling the body, the injection of a solution of salt and ice, and a DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End on continuous repeat.

Some Animals Are, Etc.

The Victorian state civil and administrative tribunal in Australia has ruled that a Melbourne pub has the right to bar customers based on their sexual orientation.

It's bad enough when bigotry rears its ugly head and people are discriminated against with the most transparent of excuses because of whom they love, but when an official arm of government adds its weight and approval to such vile...

Oh. The pub is barring heterosexuals? Why didn't you say so?

That's all right, then.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Happy Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day in the States, so I'm off for some quality family time... And to catch up on a couple of deadlines.

Back on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, to all the soldiers of the Coalition (and especially the US branch), a heartfelt thank you.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Bournemouth Bee-Sieged

  • Item: On 23 May Bournemouth pier was attacked by a swarm of bees.
  • Item: On the 24th, a jetliner taking off from the town was forced to land after bees dive-bombed the engines.
Coincidence or the first reel of a horrifying Quatermass episode?

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Cyborg Moth

Designed to spy on terrorists; eat Sarah Connor's sweaters.


An automatic dog food dish that not only dispenses the kibble, but announces that dinner is served in your pre-recorded voice.

Carl the Cattle Dog will never come out from under the bed again.

Castro: Still "Stable"

Headline from the AP:
Castro says he's better, weight stable
The weight of the turkey in my deep freeze is "stable" for similar reasons.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007


Curiously enough, though he didn't know it, he was also a direct male-line descendent of Genghis Khan, though intervening generations and racial mixing had so juggled his genes that he had no discernible Mongoloid characteristics, and the only vestiges left in Mr. L. Prosser of his mighty ancestry were a pronounced stoutness about the tum and a predilection for little fur hats.
Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Are you of similar girth and taste? Wonder no longer, as scientists can test whether you too are a descendant of Temüjin.

Now maybe they can get on with that cancer cure.

Reality Check

My opinion is that the media is the main supporter of healthy eating. We're certainly not hearing it from our customers. And [surveys] show that while consumers say they want to eat healthier, what they actually want is a big juicy burger.
Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants
Media: "Some want."

Media translator: "I want."


Eyes in the sky not enough? How about cameras strapped to the heads of traffic wardens.

Whatever you do, don't respond with an exasperated "Why don't they just..." because the government will take it as a serious proposal.

Astute Observations from Beyond

"Fidel Castro," whose "best health care in the world" involves the common folk scrounging for Pepto-Bismol and aspirin on the black market while the party elite and foreign tourists enjoy special clinics, has criticised the British, saying that the price of the new Astute-class submarines would train 75,000 doctors.

Quite right. And if we didn't have the submarines we could employ all those doctors to patch up all the people maimed by the likes of Castro as they run rough-shod over the world.

Don't you have some mouldering to get on with, old boy?

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Happy Birthday, Larry

It's Lord Laurence Olivier's 100th birthday. On his death back in 1989, this radio anouncement summed his career up neatly:

Laurence Olivier, the greatest actor in the world, died today.
Everyone else moves up one notch.
I actually met Lord Olivier (or Larry, as I used to call him). In my career I've drifted in and out of professional acting and back in the late '70s I was waiting outside the stage door of a London theatre for an audition when The Man Himself walked up to me and said, in that effortless delivery of his, "Excuse me" and brushed past inside.

As a young actor, I always took his words of kind encouragement and advice to heart.

Monday, 21 May 2007


Home security system not doing its job? Not enough of a deterrent? Or maybe the old silent alarm thing lacks entertainment value? Then consider the Ionatron Portal Denial System. It not only shoots cool lasers, but the beams ionise the air as they pass, producing a conducting channel to carry electric shocks.

The dog will never drink out of the toilet again.

Big Brother is Watching You... From Above

Dear sweet mother of Jesus, now they're just getting scary.

Cutty Sark Burns

The Cutty Sark, last but one of the great clipper ships, was extensively damaged by fire in her dry dock in Greenwich.

It's like waking up and learning that the Mona Lisa has been splashed with paint thinner

The Cutty Sark in better days.

Hans Christian Andersen, Call Your Service

Copenhagen's The Little Mermaid statue was found Sunday sitting on her rock dressed in a Burqua.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised that the police had the nerve to remove the garb. Whether this was Sharia zeal or Nativist protest, it's an apt symbol of Europe in the 21st century.

Tip o' the hat to Eldias for the story and headline.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Life on Mars

Masterfoods has caved in after less than a week of relatively mild pressure from the Vegetarian lobby and reversed its plan to use a taboo non-vegetarian ingredient in its Mars bars.

In a beautiful example of Newspeak, Masterfoods called this spineless surrender a "principled decision.'

Time, Gentlemen, Please

Fancy a pint? Be prepared to drink it out of a cheap plastic beaker rather than a proper glass. Thoughtpolice in Bournemouth, Reading, Newport, Northampton, Fareham, Ilford and Daventry (with at least another thirty towns and cities to follow) are pushing to have glasses banned from pubs on the grounds of "safety."

Quite right. Can't have nasty, potentially sharp things in the hands of proles and Outer Party members the people.

They might get ideas.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

The Seattle Schools are conducting multiculturalism workshops that are such concentrated doses of Political Correctness that you could bottle them and were they compulsory they'd be more properly called re-education camps.

No surprise there. The Seattle School district always did look upon anyone to the right of Pol Pot with suspicion anway. What's interesting is this Orwellian quote from the land of unalloyed separation of church and state:
Muslim Prayer in Schools

Why do Muslim students need to leave my class to pray? This presentation focuses on accommodating Muslim students in school. Specifically, we cover prayer requirements for Muslim youth as well as other important information for making a school and classroom Muslim-friendly.
So the new Left orthodoxy is that prayer in public schools is a dangerous threat to the very fabric of American society-- unless you're a Muslim.

Armadillo Ranch

There is a joke struggling mightily to get out of here.

Roboalarm Clock

Sick. Sick. Sick.

Friday, 18 May 2007

The Call of Cthulhu

Somebody finally did an H. P. Lovecraft film right.

The Call of Cthulhu has been out for a while, but the trailer convinced me to part with some hard-earned gelt.

And if the cinema isn't your cup of ichor, there are other media.


Presenting the Type 02 robot.

Hunts for Sarah Connor, pays the bills by moonlighting as a vinegar salesman.

Bette "Death Ray" Davis

Tim Blair has a quote from the Wall Street Journal obituary of Theodore H. Maiman, inventor of the laser, that is a gem of unalloyed stupidty:

He often told the story of meeting Bette Davis at a party. The movie star asked, “How does it feel to be responsible for all that death and destruction?” It took until the end of the evening for the reticent Mr. Maiman to formulate a reply: “I don’t know of anyone who’s been killed by a laser, even by accident, but I do know several people who have been healed by lasers."
If it was me, I'd have replied with "BHWAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Your Moment of Python

From The Sydney Morning Herald:
Man crushed by flying cow
Run away! Run Away!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

High Tech Vs Old Scourge

Mr. Michael Groves has been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal and Mr Som Bahadur Gurung the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for using a high-pressure water hose and a sonic cannon to protect the Seabourn Spirit cruise liner against a vicious pirate attack.

It's a tale of real bravery, but I just like any story with the words "sonic cannon" in it.

No Contest

Mr. Gordon Brown has been confirmed as the next prime minister.

In other news, the Sun came up.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Lord Summerisle, Call Your Service

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, we only have "five years to Save the PlanetTM."

Only five years? Looks like it's time for Plan "B".


Actual headline and caption from the news page of the Telegraph:
US evangelist Jerry Falwell dies

The celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has been the target of a pungent protest by demonstrators from Peta against eating horse meat.

If this isn't a mistake, it's got Story of the Century written all over it.

Update: Alas, gone now, but not forgotten.

Axis of Evil? What Axis?

North Korea tested its new 3000-mile range Musudan missile-- in Iran.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Quote of the Day

From the Telegraph:
If the choice is them continuing [towards a nuclear bomb] or the use of force, I think you're at a Hitler marching into the Rhineland point. If you don't stop it then, the future is in his hands, not in your hands, just as the future decisions on their nuclear programme would be in Iran's hands, not ours.
John Bolton on Iran's nuclear weapons power programme.

Zap! Ow! Zap! Ow!

From the BBC:

"I've been Tasered 200 times"

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the world's flatest learning curve.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Meet the Robinsons

Plan "B"

The BBC, with all the critical sensibilities of a deer in the headlamps, has not one, but two articles from the hair-shirt front of the "Carbon Rationing Group".

The featured Robinson family, as they go about reducing their carbon footprint by switching off lights and heat to enjoy a quiet evening shivering in the dark, lack the slightest clue of how the electricity grid works. Switching off lights doesn't do a tinker's damn worth of good for reducing the so-called carbon footprint because electricity is not a commodity to be "saved" or "spent." It's a question of peak generating capacity, which is what energy conservation really works to control. Power plants don't generate electricity on demand, but to meet projected demand. That means the generator keeps cranking out watts, and burning fuel, whether you turn your lights on or not.

Yes, yes, I know. There are all sorts of arguments for reducing peak demand and dealing with the question of future electricity needs, but that's a matter of engineering and economics. That's the stuff of serious planning, of dealing with how many types opf power plants of what type to build for twenty years down the line. Here we're talking about something much more important. We're talking about using low-wattage light bulbs to Save the Planet NOW!

Besides, the Robinson's could reduce their footprint to zero by merely moving to an area supplied with nuclear power. But that would mean breaking one of Gaia's commandments.

The Robinsons, being properly green busybodies, have all sorts of wonderful tips for the rest of us sinners consumers to help with this Crusade effort:
  • Don't put the light on in the bedroom, just open the curtains slightly to give a bit of light. This works really well at 5 AM in January.
  • In the shower: Use a jug to collect hot water to shave in. You're using hot water? Heretic!
  • No lights on in the morning. The gloom is so cheering first thing.
  • Fill the kettle with the amount (needed). Tea? Coffee? In hot water?!? Do you know how much fossil fuel it takes to ship that Gaia-damned brew? Is it Fair Trade? Exploiter! Earth despoiler!
  • Cycle or walk to work. I live on a mountain eight miles from the nearest town. That's going to happen reeeaalll soon.
  • Switch everything off standby and encourage colleagues to do the same. Because I love being looked at as if I've just given unsolicited advice on the best type of shoelace tips.
  • Spend a lot of time in the kitchen rather than moving a lot around the house. Why do you live in anything bigger than a hovel in the first place?
  • No TV. No, thank you.
  • On the computer: Turn the broadband connection on and off only as required. Which is 24/7. Look at the calendar; it's the 21st century, not the 11th.
  • Only use the bathroom upstairs, as there's just enough light from the street light outside to see by. If you have a streetlight. Besides, a real carbon neutral would shoot the light out with a catapult.
But my favourite is the money quote:

Developing habits is the key, Peter (Robinson) says. He described how he once visited a prison with a group of psychology students.

"One thing you notice there is that each time any of the prison staff went through a door they would close it and lock it, it becomes second nature. And when I started going round at home turning lights out it reminded me of that routine."
Green lifestyle ala Wormwood Scrubs. How apt.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Future Motoring

Highways.. of the FUTURE!

Badger Update

From the BBC:
A new report claims the "virtual extermination" of badgers in the Republic of Ireland has failed to stop the spread of bovine TB.
And this is my opinion on the matter.

Mars Meat

Mastersfoods has announced that its Mars bars and other chocolates will now include rennet in the list of ingredients-- and this is cheesing off the Vegetarian Society to no end.

Life is good.

Carl & the Fence

When we brought Carl the Cattle Dog home last autumn we thought we'd hit the jackpot. Many dogs are antisocial or just plain thick, but Carl proved to be a dog of talent and personality. He learned new tricks and took to house training so quickly that I made a note to keep the computer and credit card out of his reach at all times. And as soon as he met the neighbour's dogs he instantly made friends and wagged his tail so happily at every furry resident, even the ones who patently didn't like him, that we saw smooth sailing with him.

Unfortunately, Carl turned out to be so social that he felt obliged to pop 'round to every dog within barking distance and he was so smart that he figured out the concept of plausible deniablity and would be conveniently hard of hearing when called home. So we decided that some means had to be found to confine Carl to the grounds of Chez Szondy.

The method we finally settled on was the invisible fence. For those of you who have never seen one ("Seen one!" Invisible fence!' Arf! Arf! Arf! Sorry.) this is a clever little contraption that involves a radio transmitter hooked to a wire buried around the perimeter of wherever you want to keep Fido inside or out of. The dog wears a special collar around his neck with a radio receiver and two blunt prongs resting against the skin. If the dog gets too close to the wire, the collar picks up the signal and starts beeping. If the dog keeps going, he gets a nasty, but harmless electric shock.

The principle is fairly simple and the manual, filled with all sorts of helpful illustrations, made the wire sound a snap to install, which it is-- if you're in your early twenties, built like a navvy, and have a battery of the requisite excavating tools. On the other hand, if you're a middle-aged writer armed with a lawn edger and a garden trowel, the task is a trifle more arduous. Fortunately, Chez Szondy is surrounded on two sides by flower beds and on the other two by woods, so I counted myself lucky that I only had to cut up about twenty feet of sod instead of a thousand, but I have yet to decide if I have more of a dislike for digging hundreds of feet of trench or stringing wire through bramble bushes and stinging nettles.

Having buried the wire, strung it through a culvert under the drive and twisted thirty feet of strand so that it could reach the transmitter without sending a signal along the connecting length, I switched on the fence and tested it by the unconventional method of forgetting that I had the receiver collar in my other hand. I made a note to be very sympathetic to Carl when he got too close himself.

Next came training, which the manual made seem a simple matter of pleasant master/dog quality time and a bit of patience. As per the manual, I walked along the wire with the collar,listened for the beeping, and laid out flags along the edge of the "safe" zone. Think of Steve McQueen trying to figure out the blind spots between the gurad towers and you get the idea. So far, so good. I then put Carl on his lead and walked him along the flags with a brief yank every time he strayed too close.

This went on for three days and Carl seemed to be getting the idea without any trouble. I was feeling pretty smug at Carl's progress. It looked as though the manual was right after all.

On the fourth day, it was time to put the receiver collar on Carl and let him test the system for himself. The idea was that Carl should get close enough to hear the beeping and then I'd run with him to the centre of the yard where I would lavish praise on him. Do this a few times, finish up with twenty minutes of happy play, and repeat over the next couple of days.

That was the manual talking. In reality, Carl went up to the flags, beeped, took another step, got a shock, and bolted into the house and under the bed.

He stayed there until the next morning.

I tried again that evening.

Carl hid under the bed for two days.

My wife was convinced that we'd broken the dog.

I was beginning to think that we were resigned to Carl as a black shadow that flits from hidey hole to hidey hole as his food disappears. We treated Carl like a recovering argophobic; coaxing him out the door and then further and further away from the house with treats and toys until he'll now go a good twenty feet from the building. Twice, under the theory that we were causing the beeps with mind control, Carl tried running the fence while we weren't looking.

Under the bed he went.

Still, he is starting to make peace with the fence. He's learning that it's rather nice being able to go outside whenever he wants to for as long as he likes, that he can accompany me around the garden while I do my chores, that it's good fun to sit out in the sun with the family on a Saturday afternoon, and there is the wonderful new sport of digging up the flower beds.

It's not all beer and skittles, of course. He whines pitifully when he sees one of his friends who won't or can't come over and play, the squirrels can now elude him (as if they couldn't before!) and the neighbour's cat has figured things out and torments Carl accordingly. But, Carl no longer dives under the bed in terror.

Unless he sees a bug.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

A Ray of Sanity

From the Telegraph:
Tony Blair's flagship identity card scheme, which has almost doubled in cost to £5.5 billion, could be the first casualty of a Gordon Brown premiership.

Jack Straw, who as Home Secretary vetoed an ID card, yesterday dropped the clearest hint in his role as Mr Brown's campaign manager that the scheme could be dropped.
Let's hope that it's true.

I'd far rather use the Magna Carta image more often than the Ingsoc one, thank you.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Snails in Space

A Russian Progress cargo ship docked with the International Space Station with a shipment of snails.

Guess after all that shrimp cocktail a bit of escargot starts to look good.

Star Trek Meets Lost in Space

I shot a Scotsman into the air,
He fell to Earth,
I know not where.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Out With The New, In With The Old

New Labour 1994 - 2007 RIP

Tony Blair's political corpse hadn't even minutes to cool before his party dumped the phrase "New Labour" like a live hand grenade and returned to the old red rose logo.

This may herald a revival of the giddy idiocies of Old Labour, but given Mr. Blair's unquestioning fascination with modernity and all that mischief it's caused, the move still has a certain natural justice to it.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

27 June 2007: Tony Gone

Mr. Tony Blair has announced that he will be stepping down as Prime Minister on the 27th of June.

I can't say I'm sorry to see him go. Mr. Blair has always struck me as an intelligent man who genuinely wanted to do the right thing, but his idea of the "right thing" and what was right for Britain were two different matters. I once said that I thought Mr. Blair the most anti-British of any prime minister in history, but this is misleading. Mr. Blair is not hostile to Britain; he is merely indifferent to it. After ten years of New Labour I come to the firm conclusion that Mr. Blair never gave a toss for the history, needs, fears, hopes or aspirations of the British people. Instead, I believe that Mr. Blair sees the nation as literally nothing more than the instrument through which he could do "good" in its most abstract and antiseptic form-- one devoid of any sense of true duty or service.

He is also a worshipper of modernism to the point of a fetish that makes one favour the babbling of an infant over the pronouncement of an aged sage. If something was created on Tuesday, it has to be better than what came on Monday for that reason alone. The Millennium Dome had to be better than the dome of St. Paul's because the Millennium Dome was of the 21st century and St. Paul's of the 17th. Cool Britannia was better than Rule Britannia because Cool Britannia had just seen the light of day while Rule Britannia was the stuff of yellowed song books and scratchy gramophone records. Out with the House of Lords. Because it is broken? No, because it is old.

And Mr. Blair shares with Cromwell that frightening tendency to mistake his views with that of perfect reason and therefore disagreement to be the stuff of stupidity or willful evil. Why bother with parliament or plebiscite when the answer is so obvious? Those who are intelligent and of goodwill would agree anyway. Those who are not shouldn't have a say. Far better to abolish the centuries-old office of the Lord Chancellor from the couch than to debate it in the Commons.

If that "good" by way of the "modern" as expressed by edict meant that 1997 had to be declared the Year Zero before which history was irrelevant, the Union itself had to be knocked into a needless hazard, that sovereignty had to be handed over to a load of Continental technocrats, or that Britain's institutions and traditions had to be ruthlessly abolished, suppressed or changed out of all recognition, then that was the price that had to be paid-- by the people.

I think this is one of the reasons why Mr. Blair did so well in foreign policy, but was so abysmal on the domestic front. Mr. Blair understood the threat posed by the Jihadists and had the courage to face them down on the battlefield even though it cost him vital political capital at home and the ill-will of the tyrants and kleptocrats of the UN. His convictions sustained him, but I would contend that he did the right thing for the wrong reason. He did not go to war because it was in Britain's interests (which I believe it was), but because it was abstractly "right."

That may have worked on the battlefield, but at home it was a dreadful policy. Had Mr. Blair had Britain's interests in mind, he would have treated the Jihadist threat in Britain as part of the war and acted accordingly. Instead, he thought that the "right" thing to do was to treat terrorist attacks as a police matter without the need to fight the ideology behind the bombers. The result? Instead of targeting the Jihadists, Mr. Blair turned the screws on the entire population. This dovetailed neatly with his instincts on fighting crime, dealing with racism, homophobia, improper rubbish sorting, speeding, or whatever else bothered his conscience. The British were not a people sovereign in their ancient liberties who acted through their government. The government was an authority sovereign in their power who acted through the people. It was not for the people to decide what they wanted to be and the government to support and protect them. It was for the government to decide what was "right" and the people to do as they were told.

This attitude is not peculiar to Mr. Blair alone. Lord knows enough people in previous governments, Labour and Conservative, have shared it, but for Mr. Blair it is a matter of his basic personality made more fearsome because his motives are "good." It's this sort of devotion to abstraction and indifference that I believe marks much of New Labour. It's the reason why there has been ten years of unremitting reforms, high-minded initiatives and "modernisations," and why the results have been at best like pouring money down a rat hole and at worst the destruction of liberties that freeborn Englishmen have enjoyed since Magna Carta. In so many ways, Tony Blair reminds me of the quote from C. S. Lewis:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
As for Mr. Blair's successor? My opinion of Gordon Brown is that he is indeed a dour man and I doubt that he enjoys Blair's missionary zeal. For various political reasons I doubt if he'll change New Labour's policies in any fundamental way, nor do I see the alliance with America in danger, but Mr. Brown strikes me as more of a bureaucrat and a money counter who will rule by the ledger and the rule book. Whether that means we will see a better run Britain or a thoughtless, mechanical version of Blairism remains to be seen.

Certainly it couldn't be much worse.

Zaphod Beeblebrox, Call Your Service

HD 149026b: Officially the hottest planet in the known universe.

Ursa Minor Beta, home of Megadodo Publications, is still officially the coolest.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

A Blow for Liberty

From the Telegraph:
Campaigners fighting EU plans to abolish imperial measures have claimed victory after the European Commission backed down over plans to ban imperial measurements.

Giles Chichester, the Tory MEP with responsibility for industry, said last night that compulsory metric measurements were "off the agenda".
I have only one reaction:


Now if we can just get the EU to naff off entirely and take their metric scales with them.

HMS Astute

The state of the art nuclear attack submarine HMS Astute makes her debut to the press.

She's a beautiful boat and if she can do half the things claimed for her, she's a triumph of British engineering, but we need at least twice the number that MOD has ordered at the bare minimum.

Doesn't matter how good the ship is if she can't be in two places at once.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Cassette Tape: 1963 - 2007 RIP

Gone to that great tape deck in the sky.


A Panorama documentary about how "East meets West... in Blackburn."

The BBC tries to paint a picture of a peaceful community, which I'm willing to accept that Blackburn is, but when one has an alien minority that is self-isolated, aggressive and refuses assimilation, that is a basis for trouble. When that minority acts as a hiding place for 4000 terrorists and who knows how many more that share their aims, it is a basis for disaster.

It's For Your Own Good... Really

Portrait of your friendly, neighbourhood Thoughtpoliceman.

Green Slime

The Future: A time of unbounded optimism, technological wonders and really, really overwrought film trailers.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Tired Solution

Camping at the office until you can barely keep your eyes open? Caffeine no longer doing the trick? Social life nil? Haven't seen the sky for days? Can't remember the last time you saw the wife and kids? Do you even have a wife and kids?

Then you need an Energypod. This $8000 piece of modernist furniture gives you the privacy for a 20-minute nap, plus "a discord of vibration and acoustic alarm" to make sure you don't waste too much valuable work time on pointless things like sleep.

Or you could just admit to yourself that your job is bloody insane and make a career change.

Martin Luther, Call Your Service

The medieval practice of selling indulgences is alive and well and melded with scientific paganism in the 21st century. Regarding Her Majesty's visit to the United States, the BBC smugly notes this little item:
The tour is the Queen's first carbon-offset state visit, where a donation is made to an environmental charity to offset the plane journeys made by the royal party.

This won't reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by an atom, but at least abeyance has been made to Gaia and the coffers of her temple have been enriched, and that is all that counts.

Heads Firmly Up Their...

If you read James Lileks's Bleat, hold on to your chair. In a case of post-acquisition frenzy, the new owners of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune have axed Lileks's regular dead-tree column. Are they doing this so he will be free to work on scintillating, witty features as befits the talents of one of the funniest and most insightful writers in America?

Nope. He's assigned to beat reporting.

I know I said I wouldn't be posting today, but when a pile of pure, unadulterated 100%, flawless, Grade A idiocy lands on my desk, I cannot leave it uncommented on.

Hamster Moment

I'm going to be a bit busy today meeting a deadline, so I'm leaving you with a video of a baby hamster and his first broccoli.

This is either a very sweet moment, or a prime example of the black depths to which the Internet has plumbed.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

French Election Update

From The Age:
Paris violence mars Sarkozy victory
And they're off!

Sarkozy Wins

The media got a major reality check today as the French elected Nicolas Sarkozy to the presidency despite everyone from Libération to the BBC World Service refusing to believe that Segolene Royal, the Socialist candidate and darling of the left-wing Soixantehuitard establishment, wasn't in with a chance.

Mind you, I'm not expecting Sarkozky to pull France away from the brink, but at least he won't drive it enthusastically into the Abyss.

Oh yes, the police are also on riot alert for any reaction from the Jihadists suburban "youths."

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Surrender Vote

France is going to the polls and Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal is stumping hard for the dhimmi vote by declaring it's either elect her or face the wrath of radical Islam.

According to a recent interview:
Choosing Nicolas Sarkozy would be a dangerous choice, Ms. Royal told RTL radio.

It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of (his) candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country (if he won), she said.

Pressed on whether there would be actual violence, Mr. Royal said: I think so, I think so, referring specifically to Frances volatile suburbs hit by widespread rioting in 2005.
This is thoroughly nasty in more ways than one. Not only is the "vote for me or else" trope just this side of an outright threat, but if Mdme. Royal somehow defies the polls and is elected, the Jihadists will bellow from the minarets that they are the strong horse and they've pulled off another Spain.

Oh, Yeah. That.

Miss Seema Parihar, Indian Justice Party's candidate for Bhadoi, is facing some difficulty in her bid to win a seat in the Indian Parliament.

It might have something to do with the 29 murder and kidnapping charges she faces.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Fantastic Voyage

Gad, I'd forgotten this one. Something seems to have been lost in translation, though.

Don't Connect the Dots

MI5 reports that there are 2000 terrorists in Britain actively supporting Al Qaeda.

But remember, this is just a police matter; we are not at war.

And maybe I'm a Chinese jet pilot.

Interplanetary Breakfast

Scientists have discovered that the planet Mercury is really a giant soft-boiled egg.

In other news, Venus is made out of enormous toast soldiers.