Wednesday, 31 January 2007
The first one, you may recall, was in Hoboken, New Jersey. That one had to shut down when the firm that handled the garage's software went out of business, resulting in the first building crash that did not involve an earthquake or enemy action.
We don't mean you date the monkey. It's for breaking the ice; that sort of thing. Still, if you need a robot monkey for that, maybe dating it is your best option.
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Yesterday's Judge Dredd comic has become today's official policy.
Monday, 29 January 2007
A leading Islamic doctor is urging British Muslims not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella because they contain substances making them unlawful for Muslims to take.What is a devout Muslim to do?
Dr.Katme, an NHS psychiatrist, said: "If you breastfeed your child for two years - as the Koran says - and you eat Koranic food like olives and black seed, and you do ablution each time you pray, then you will have a strong defence system."And this man works for the NHS?!?
Oh, right. What was I thinking?
Sunday, 28 January 2007
I don't see how, given that the school uniform is made of eight-inch thick foam rubber.
When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don't advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy.Not surprisingly, M. Kerry forgot that he himself voted against Kyoto during the Clinton administration, that the Bush administration more than doubled AIDS funding, and that it's not a good idea to spout about the Middle East while you're giving your autograph to former president Khatami of Iran.
So we have a crisis of confidence in the Middle East - in the world, really. I've never seen our country as isolated, as much as a sort of international pariah for a number of reasons as it is today.
Yup, he's still got it!
Saturday, 27 January 2007
The frightening thing is, this had to be pointed out to us by a German.
Objectively speaking, the cartoon controversy was a tempest in a teacup. But subjectively it was a show of strength and, in the context of the "clash of civilizations," a dress rehearsal for the real thing. The Muslims demonstrated how quickly and effectively they can mobilize the masses, and the free West showed that it has nothing to counter the offensive -- nothing but fear, cowardice and an overriding concern about the balance of trade. Now the Islamists know that they are dealing with a paper tiger whose roar is nothing but a tape recording.
As different as the West's reactions to the Muslim protests were, what they had in common were origins in feelings of powerlessness and helplessness. Critical souls who only yesterday agreed with Marx that religion is the opium of the masses suddenly insisted that religious sensibilities must be taken into account, especially when accompanied by violence. The representatives of open societies reacted like the inhabitants of an island about to be hit by a hurricane. Powerless against the forces of nature, they stocked up on supplies, nailed doors and windows shut and hoped that the storm would soon pass. Of course, whereas such a reaction may be an appropriate response to natural disasters, such a lack of resistance merely encourages fundamentalists. It completely justifies their view of the West as weak, decadent and completely unwilling to defend itself.
In 1972, more than three decades ago, Danish lawyer and part-time politician Mogens Glistrup had an idea that brought him instant fame. To save taxes, he proposed that the Danish army be disbanded and an answering machine be set up in the defense ministry that would play the following message: "We capitulate!" Not only would it save money, Glistrup argued, but it would also save lives in an emergency. On the strength of this "program," Glistrup's Progress Party managed to become the second-most powerful political party in the Danish parliament in the 1973 elections.
Glistrup had the right idea, but he was a number of years premature. Now would be the right time to set up his answering machine.
Friday, 26 January 2007
Thursday, 25 January 2007
It's always easier to sink than to swim, isn't it?
Update: The Sydney Morning Herald confirms.
Singapore's Defense Science and Technology Agency recently announced that they will pay anyone who can submit the best design for a "robot that can operate autonomously in urban warfare conditions."Something like this, perhaps?
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Stay tuned for the announcement of a second batch of CCTV cameras to guard the first lot.
I normally don't comment on American politics, but M. Kerry had such a palpable sense of entitlement combined with so much pomposity and a preternatural capacity for self-contradiction that I could no more resist taking shots at him than could a small boy armed with a snowball faced with a fat banker wearing a silk hat.
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Next up: The virtual family argument, the virtual four-year old who won't eat her fish fingers, the virtual teenager who sullenly glares through the entire meal and the virtual father who tries to find some modicum of solace by hiding behind his newspaper.
Frankly, I think I will settle for having my virtual dinner on a virtual tray in my virtual office.
Monday, 22 January 2007
Defence spending is lowest since the 1930sLow defence spending juxtaposed with the 1930s; last time those two collided we ended up in a right old mess.
Anyone for another world war?
I think its time that someone had a quiet word.
Sunday, 21 January 2007
Saturday, 20 January 2007
I don't want to take anything away from the achievements of Henry Cookson, Rory Sweet and Rupert Longsdon. God knows that trekking 1093 miles to the most remote part of Antarctica is no walk in the park and you'd have pay me a sizable chunk of change to get me to try it-- twenty years ago, that is. However, it does show how seriously dead the Age of Exploration is in the 21st century.
What makes the feat of Cookson et al newsworthy is not that they reached the Pole of Inaccessibility, but that they did so with a self-imposed handicap. If this were 1907, anyone hearing of such an idea would have thought the authors mad. When the Poles were conquered no one gave a tinkers damn whether it was done on foot, by dog sled, snowmobile, Zeppelin, gondola, or pogo stick. The important thing was to get there and hang how you did it. In fact, when Captain Scott made his ill-fated march on the South Pole he took snow tractors, ponies, dog sleds, and man-hauling equipment. When the Hunt Expedition finally managed to conquer Everest, it did so with all the scale and equipment of a military campaign and pinned its hopes on the latest in oxygen gear.
Today, we've so filled the map and reached every spot on the globe worth reaching that the business of "exploration" has been reduced to the level of stunts and extreme recreational activity. The big thing is not to climb Everest, but to do so without oxygen, or with as little equipment as possible, with an all-woman team, with paraplegics, alone, via the most insanely suicidal route possible, or while painting one's face blue. As for polar "expeditions," now that we can touch both of Earth's extremes in a few hours by plane, and it seems that no one has the stomach to go shoggoth hunting, the only thing "explorers" can do today is make their mark by pointless endurance tests that end with a nice, hot shower at the Scott/Amundsen base.
This is probably one of the few sound reasons I can think of for manned space travel. If no solid scientific or industrial reason can be found for mounting an expedition to Mars, we may need to do so anyway as a viable alternative now that Earthbound exploration has been reduced to the level of sport.
Unable to find any actual Cubans who were willing to risk the safety of their relatives back home, the Beeb had to fall back on a dance video producer, the spokesman for a Communist front organisation that the BBC calls "non-party political" despite having card-carrying members of the British Communist Party on its executive board, and Labour MP Ian Gibson, who last graced these pages when he blamed the incidence of diabetes in his constituency on inbreeding.
I'd love to sit in on the editor's meetings at the BBC that okays this sort of thing for publication. It would afford a glimpse into a new and terrible world.
Friday, 19 January 2007
I had to go into town on business yesterday and after picking up my daughter from school in the afternoon I decided to take Carl the Cattle Dog to the dog park to make up for his having to spend all day in the kitchen. Something told me that this was a bad idea, but I put that down to being tired and the sky being overcast, so I changed into my boots, bundled daughter and dog into the Cruiser and drove into Redmond.
Now, King County is a bit odd when it comes to parks and some bizarre subterranean logic told the bureaucrats that be that having paid parking in Marymoor Park was a jolly good idea-- especially when such parking is jammed solidly in the 20th century with parking machines that only take hard cash rather than debit cards. I only bring this up because I had to get out of the car in order to use the machine (another bit of mind-boggling design) and left the engine running.
No problem, I thought. I was only going to be out a second and it wasn't like carjackers were going to leap out of the turf. I got the ticket, turned back to the car and saw Carl sitting in the drivers seat with his nose on the door lock button. Yes, nothing like progress. In the old days, you had to lock each door individually. Now, a dog with no formal training is able to lock the car all by himself-- still running and with the keys in the ignition.
I suspected that Carl would be no help in this situation, so I then spent what seemed like an epoch explaining, very loudly, to my four-year old daughter through the window how to undo her belt, climb into the front seat, and unlock the door, which she eventually did.
Of course, I abandoned the outing as a bad idea. Did I? Did I, Hell. I'd spent an entire dollar on parking and I wasn't about to let that go to waste, so into the dog park we went.
Last time I'd been to the park it had been one expanse of ice and snow packed down by dogs of various sizes and breeds. Even the black, swampy bit was frozen solid, much to Carl's dismay, as he'd been looking forward to a good muddying. Now the thaw had taken firm hold in the lower altitudes and most of the snow and ice was gone. Most, but not all. We discovered this when my daughter walked through a puddle and slid on a camouflaged slab of ice. out went her feet from under her and she landed flat on her back in what was to her scale a fair-sized wading pond, albeit a very, very cold one.
So, five minutes after the start of our outing we were back in the car, Emma stripped down and under a blanket, daddy sweltering in his winter gear with car heater turned up full and Carl feeling confused and relieved that at least he'd had a chance to poop.
Next time I think I'll settle for throwing the Frisbee around the garden.
Thursday, 18 January 2007
The police and Home Office are to press for regulatory powers that will insist that every one of the 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain is upgraded so it can be deputised to gather police evidence and provide a vehicle for emerging technologies that will automatically identify people and detect if they are doing anything suspicious.Doubleplus ungood.
The most depressing thing was the sight of middle-class white demonstrators, last August, waddling around under placards saying, We Are All Hezbollah Now. Well, make the most of being Hezbollah while you can. As its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, famously advised the West: "We don't want anything from you. We just want to eliminate you."
Similarly, when I went on (BBC television program) Question Time the other week, a woman in the audience, her voice quavering with self-righteousness, presented the following argument: since it was America that supported Osama bin Laden when he was fighting the Russians, the US armed forces, in response to September 11, "should be dropping bombs on themselves". And the audience applauded. It is quite an achievement.
People of liberal sympathies, stupefied by relativism, have become the apologists for a creedal wave that is racist, misogynist, homophobic, imperialist and genocidal. To put it another way, they are up the arse of those that want them dead.
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
Dutchmen caught in the middle can only hope both sides can lose.
Worse, both of our motor cars are now hors de combat. The Cruiser gave up the ghost two days ago when the cold became too much for the engine and now all I can get out of it is a sullen, battery-draining growl. I'd charge it off the Honda, but when the power went out for a few hours yesterday I decided to go into town for supplies, only to have the car slide ingloriously backwards down the hill, where it now rests marooned in the cul-de-sac by the whippet fancier's house.
I've learned my lesson. Next year I'm laying in a couple of cords of firewood, a barrel of emergency water, a well-stocked wine cellar and a couple of hundred weight of pemmican.
Update: We finally got out! Now to explore this strange, new world.
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Monday, 15 January 2007
Only Tony Blair would prefer to step out of a supercarrier and into a worm-eaten dinghy.
Sunday, 14 January 2007
Ministers are exploring the introduction of the devices - expected to cost hundreds of pounds - which automatically cut the throttle on motor-bikes to bring them within the speed limit.In related news, the government is also exploring having thirty-pound weights clamped to everyone's ankles so they can't run away from the Thought Police.
Saturday, 13 January 2007
Friday, 12 January 2007
I remember reading a book about Korolyov back in the late '60s based on leaked information and it was astonishing when I taught university in the '80s that even seasoned space engineers would greet my bringing up his name with blank looks.
Beware the gratitude of princes.. and totalitarians.
Thursday, 11 January 2007
Accordingly, we will be initiating emergency winter protocols: Crackling fires, snow angels, cocoa, cozy books, lap rugs and Carl the Cattle Dog snoozing on the hearth.
It's Hell up here.
Wednesday, 10 January 2007
I had to go into town today and then spent six hours getting home after a sudden snow storm hit, forcing my wife, daughter, dog and self to detour miles out of our way to Monroe, where I had to buy and install the first pair of tyre chains that I'd ever encountered in my life so we could get home-- which we barely did.
Not only did I have the joy of putting greasy chains on with bare hands, but I also had to deal with walking the extremely confused dog in a car park in a blizzard, hunting for the cell phone that I lost during that walk, calming an hysterical four-year old who had to go potty, but refused to use anything other than the one at home, and a wife who had her own toilet emergency when we got home and left me to put the car in the garage, but neglected to tell me that the parking break was on, which would have explained why I was having so much trouble getting traction and why there was that nasty burning smell.
That is why I feel we need a cheese shop sketch.
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
Monday, 8 January 2007
I do not suppose anyone else ever planned a cheese business to live through the ages. After we are gone, there will be Kraft salesmen trekking the veldt of Africa, braving the snows of Siberia and battling the superstitions of Mongolia -- all earnestly striving to increase sales.At least you have to admire his sense of focus.
Sunday, 7 January 2007
The words "stab" and "back" leap to mind
Saturday, 6 January 2007
Friday, 5 January 2007
Thursday, 4 January 2007
Meanwhile, the government is spending £7.4 million to teach civil servants how to keep their desks tidy. It's enough to make strong men weep.
This sort of "mercy" makes me immensely glad that I'm an uncivilised proponent of the hanging. At least, unlike Dr. Dawkins, I was willing to regard Saddam as a truly evil man, but a man none the less, to be merely hanged and leaving his ultimate fate to God's judgement. I was pleased to see Saddam go to the gallows and was not bothered in the least that some of the people that he'd oppressed and terrorised for over a generation taunted him as they placed the noose around his neck, but I draw the line at the sort of "humaneness" that Dr. Dawkins advocates that would have reduced him to the status of a lab rat to be experimented on and "treated" endlessly in a fashion that would have made a Borgia blanch.
C. S. Lewis, please call your service.
Wednesday, 3 January 2007
Tuesday, 2 January 2007
Monday, 1 January 2007
Not quite even that. The Beeb doesn't even mention suicide bombers, preferring to make it look as if those trains and that bus just sort of exploded on their own and last year's attempt to bring down ten airliners simultaneously wasn't even mentioned. True, the Danish Cartoon War was mentioned, but not British Muslims in the streets of London calling for beheading anyone who dares to insult Mohammad nor the cravenness of the British press in refusing to publish the cartoons in question.
I particularly like the use of the weseal phrase "real fears," as if the fears may be real, but the actual threat is a matter of perspective.
"War? What war?" looks to be the BBC motto for 2007.