Saturday, 31 March 2007

Tale of Two Maggies

I think everyone regrets that this position has arisen. What we want is a way out of it - we want it peacefully and we want it as soon as possible.
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett on Britain's response to Iran's kidnapping of fifteen Royal Navy sailors and marines.
Our diplomacy is backed by strength, and we have the resolve to use that strength if necessary.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Britain's response to Argentina's 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.

Guess which one will be the Jimmy Carter of the 21st century.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Turtle Bay Farce

The UN has issued a statement of "grave concern" over Iran's kidnapping of 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines. The British government is disappointed because it wanted the UN to "deplore" the kidnapping.

The only thing to deplore here is the gaping hole where Britain's spine used to be. It would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.

Sauces and Ganders

Doctor Who producer Russell T Davies looks as if he was channeling Greg Dyke when he criticised rival ITV sci fi programme Primeval in these words:
Its [lack of] ethnic casting is shameful. I've never seen such a white show in all my born days.
Too "white," eh? I'd always thought that Mr. Davies's choices in "ethnic" casting were down to legitimate artistic criteria of the best actor for the part and not a conscious effort to make certain that not too many of "those people" get on the screen, but it looks as if I will have to amend my opinion. It would be interesting to solicit his view of when a show tilted in the other direction and became too "black" or "yellow" or whatever.

"Shameful" resides more comfortably in Mr. Davies's mirror.


A sophisticated computer system has been devised by Hyperactive Technologies that is capable of managing a fast-food restaurant.

After lunch, it becomes self-aware.


Michael Jackson wants to build a 50-foot robot replica of himself in Las Vegas complete with laser beams.

Perhaps it will be destroyed in major kaiju battle with robochef.

Quote of the Day

(C)learly very much like a cock-up and not a conspiracy.
Margaret Beckett on the kidnapping of fifteen Royal Navy sailors and marines.

Someone please take the post of Foreign Secretary away from this insane woman.

Postings From Beyond

From the AP:
Castro publishes article criticizing U.S. on environment
It must have been hell dictating that by ouija board.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Quote of the Day

We are not seeking to put Iran in a corner. We are simply saying, 'please release the personnel who should not have been seized in the first place'.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman on Britain's response to Iran's kidnapping fifteen Royal Navy sailors and marines.

That sound you hear is the Mullahs laughing their guts out.

Fighting Fashion

Just to show that the MOD has its priorities straight in a time of war against barbarians bent on our destruction, we present the RAF pink and blue bikini. Available soon at a high-street shop near you.

Go away. Just go away.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Geneva Conventions? What Geneva Conventions

The argument keeps being put forward that we should scrupulously follow the Geneva Conventions so that our enemies will be compelled to do likewise. Question is, when is this reciprocity supposed to kick in, if ever? So far the Iranians have committed the following violations of the Conventions:
  • Threats to try the kidnapped fifteen Royal Navy sailors and Marines for espionage.
  • Interrogating them.
  • Parading them before cameras
I won't even go into how the Iranians have exploited Leading Seaman Faye Turney by making her wear a hijab, having her write "personal" letters to her family, making her "confess" on camera to invading Iranian territory, and dangling promises of her release. Some bloggers have been rather unkind to her about her co-operation with the Iranians, but this seems unfair, as in this situation she operates under the standing orders given to her and she must be judged accordingly. The true responsibility lies with the lunatics who knowingly put a woman (and a mother!) into harm's way for the sake of some wretched political orthodoxy that would have made Cromwell blanch.

Meanwhile, the British government is responding by cutting off bilateral relations with Tehran.

The Mullahs must be quaking in their sandals by now.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Hit 'Em With Your Handbag, Tony

Taking a cue from how well the nuclear negotiations have gone, the Blairites have said that they are trying to free the fifteen British sailors and marines kidnapped by Iran by engaging the Iranians in "discreet talks." If these do not work, then the British government will be "more explicit," but have made it clear that they "expect the immediate release of our personnel."

"Immediate" in this case being defined as some indeterminate point sometime in the future after which a stern letter will be sent followed by months of crawling to the United Nations for a raft of sanctions that will be as weak as a month-old teabag.

If this had happened in the days of Thatcher, the RAF would be fully briefed on targets and a Royal Navy task force would be passing Gibraltar by now. Come back, Maggie. All is forgiven.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Headline of the Day

From the AP:
Chinese to Turn Panda Poop into Paper
Given some of things I've been reading, I thought publishers had been printing on it for years.

Star Cops

Now here's a rarity from 1987: Not just a science fiction programme, or a science fiction cop programme, but a hard science fiction cop programme.

A pity about the title song.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Headline of the Day

From the BBC:
'Poison gas' test on Underground
Yep, the aftermath of those curries can be diabolical

A Step Closer

A new development in the Britain/Iran crisis from the Times:

A website run by associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, reported last night that the Britons would be put before a court and indicted.

Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.”

As the Captain's Quarter's points out, if this is true, it's a clear violation of the Geneva conventions. You cannot charge a man with espionage when he is operating in uniform.

Memo to White Hall: This is no time to be playing "Softly, softly catchee monkey." Start getting in touch with your inner Thatcher.

Update: The Belmont Club predicts that the "human rights" crowd is going to be strangely quiet about this episode because,
As currently interpreted the Geneva Conventions only apply to individuals bent on destroying America. Individuals who blow up elementary schools, kidnap children, attack churches and mosques, kill invalids in wheelchairs, plan attacks on skyscrapers in New York, behead journalists, detonate car bombs with children to camouflage their crime, or board jetliners with explosive shoes -- all while wearing mufti or even women's clothing -- these are all considered "freedom fighters" of the most principled kind. They and they alone enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention. As to Americans like Tucker and Menchaca or Israeli Gilad Shalit -- or these fifteen British sailors for that matter, it is a case of "what Geneva Convention?" We don't need no steenkin' Geneva Convention to try these guys as spies. That's the way the Human Rights racket works.

The Universe Regains Balance

A tremendous victory has been achieved at Chez Szondy. Yesterday afternoon I caught my wife watching Joe Dirt on the box. In fact, I caught her voluntarily watching it and, please note, she declined when I offered to change the channel for her.

I am now at peace, knowing that I can watch my DVD of The Mole People in the living room in the early evening without fear of ridicule.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Fifty Years On

The EU is marking its fiftieth anniversary and the BBC has a retrospective on the Treaty of Rome that started it all that had this interesting bit of history:

The treaty - still being argued over and translated into four languages until the last minute - was not printed. The six (signatory nations) went ahead with the ceremony anyway. The print shop sent six copies of the title page, and the last, or signature page, but in between these two the entire text of the treaty was missing.

The six heads of government put their signatures to a blank document.
That is indeed the EU in a nutshell; "Just sign this nice blank document," say the Eurocrats. "And we'll fill it in for you."

What could go wrong with that arrangement? Thank Heaven not everyone is looking forward to the next half century.

Action Jackson

Real or robot?

Ladies and gentlemen. For your entertainment and edification, allow us to present robo-Jackson Pollock!

It paints! It hunts for Sarah Connor! says about the robot artiste,
Action Jackson is a useful example of how the line between man and machine — and between creativity and cookbook automation — can become blurry.
Creativity doesn't come into it. Actually, it's more of a useful example of what a flat-out fraud art has become since it decided to chuck out six thousand years of craft and insight as if it was so much old rope. All that is left is sham, pretence, and dumb-show in the service of fatuous pseudo-theories that hang in the air like the Isle of Laputa.

Put it another way, it's all a huge scam to cover up for talentless "artists" who can't draw fingers.
Not "Seeing is Believing," you ninny, but "Believing is Seeing." For modern art has become completely literary: the paintings and other works exist only to illustrate the text.
Tom Wolfe

Update: And now, you too can be Jackson Pollock. It's easy and it's fun!

Friday, 23 March 2007

On The Knife Edge

Iran has seized two Royal Navy patrol boats with fifteen sailors and marines on board, claiming that the craft were in Iranian waters. Meanwhile, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suddenly cancelled his trip to New York, citing "America's obstruction in issuing visas," though one suspects a more immediate reason.

Clearly, Iran is trying to provoke the West into either reacting or backing down and now the ball is in White Hall's court. If Britain does not take this act of war for what it is and act accordingly, then we might as well trade in the white duster for a white flag.

Personally, I'm hoping for a quiet meeting with the Iranian ambassador that includes the words "regime", "change" and "Trident".

Germany Now Under Sharia Law?

From the AFP:
A German woman judge has refused a Moroccan-born woman permission to file for divorce by interpreting the Koran as allowing husbands to beat their wives.
Well, that makes sense... WHAT?!?

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Load of Beans

Live in Ealing? Put out your rubbish on the wrong day? Then stand by for a visit from the Thought Police, because Ealing Council is hiding CCTV cameras in baked bean tins and house bricks to catch "enviro-criminals."

You must not only obey Big Brother, you must love him.

Calamari Alert

Scientists are planning to microwave a giant squid caught by New Zealand fisherman last year.

No, we say; a thousand times no. Such irresponsibility cannot be countenanced. It should be sauteed in olive oil with shallots and freshly crushed garlic, then served with saffron rice, some nice roasted asparagus and washed down with a crisp Chablis.

Now that is science!

Star Maidens

From the '70s: The Scottish-German sci-fi production that combines low budget with extreme pain.

The frightening thing is, it's out on DVD now.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007


Liverpool is deploying a flock of robot falcons.

No doubt to combat the growing menace of cyborg pigeons, hunt for Sarah Connor.

Acrophobic Skywalker

The Grand Canyon Skywalk has opened in Arizona. This $40 million structure is a u-shaped walkway that juts out over the canyon and has a glass floor that affords visitors breathtaking views of the canyon floor 4000 feet STRAIGHT DOWN.

This structure allows me to make the truest statement ever written: I will never, ever, even in my most deranged moments, set foot on that thing, nor will I accept any invitation or yield to any threat of violence to partake of the breathtaking views of the canyon floor 4000 feet STRAIGHT DOWN.

This will no doubt be of great relief to the owners of the Skywalk, as the repair bills would be phenomenal should some bizarre set of circumstances somehow cause me to find myself on that impressive glass-floored structure with its breathtaking views of the canyon floor 4000 feet STRAIGHT DOWN.

My digging my fingers directly into the glass as I clawed my way back to solid ground while screaming "Jesus" at the top of my lungs would not only cause considerable physical damage, but I suspect that the other visitors might be put off by the incident and hence unable to enjoy the breathtaking views of the canyon floor 4000 feet STRAIGHT DOWN.

Green & Merciless

A polar bear cub at the Berlin zoo was rejected by its mother. A keeper took the forsaken cub home, nurtured it, let it sleep by him, bottle fed it, and even played the guitar for it. The cub has flourished and has been taken to the hearts of the people of Berlin.

So, naturally, animal rights activists say, "kill it."

Sledgehammer Law

Young hoodlums illegally driving mini-motos keep honest citizens awake. Do you:
  1. Call for stricter enforcement of the law prohibiting such machines on the road.
  2. Demand special licences for owning and operating them.
  3. Introduce legislation so asinine and draconian that it would effectively outlaw all motorbikes everywhere, even in museums and private collections.
If you said 3, congratulations! You are now the Labour MP for Manchester Blackley!

Daily Quagmire

Reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo of Italy's La Repubblica newspaper has been freed by the Taliban after suffering a fortnight's captivity.

We are relieved to hear that Signor Mastrogiacomo has reached safety and we hope that his ordeal will have no long-term effects, but this episode clearly demonstrates that it is no longer acceptable to put our brave journalist men and women at such risks. Year after pointless year, the news services keep sending reporters to Afghanistan and Iraq where they hazard life and limb, yet these wars continue to go on and on despite their best efforts.

It is time for this folly to end.

We call on the news services to bring our children home and stop this senseless coverage. We say, no blood for news print.

We support the reporters!

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Thank You, Sirius Cybernetics Corporation

One of the saving graces of robots is that they're machines; look like machines, act like machines. They do their job and don't feel obliged to engage me in conversation, stimulate me, enlighten me, or broaden my horizons.

But that comforting fact, according to PA News, is going to change:
Robots that bond like human children and display emotion are being developed at a British university.
Spiffing. We can all see where this is going.

Theo Van Gogh Memorial

A monument has been raised to the memory of slain Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was butchered in the streets of Amsterdam by a Jihadist in 2004.

It's a start.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Science Marches on!

Glow in the dark bunnies.

Elmer Fudd unavailable for comment.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Sucked to Safety

Henry had been trapped in the bottom of a concrete pipe for over a day. All attempts to save him failed. Time was running out and he was fading fast. In an heroic last-ditch effort, rescue workers managed to extract Henry from danger with a common household vacuum cleaner.

Did I mention that Henry is a hamster?

Dead Right

British Airways strapped a corpse into the seat next to a (live) passenger in first class on a flight from Delhi to London.

Given some of the twits I've had to endure on long-haul flights, this seems like a definite improvement.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Poo Peril

From Portsmouth Today News:
Seven sailors from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious were airlifted to hospital after being overcome by fumes.

The sailors, all male, suffered eye and throat irritation after being affected by poisonous gas in a junior ratings' toilet area.
What the Hell were they eating?!?

Swings & Roundabouts

London: World's greatest city with the world's worst mindset.

Recycling Rubbish

Britain is considering making it a general policy to cut back on rubbish pick-up to once a fortnight. This is allegedly supposed to encourage more recycling, which is already required by law under penalty of heavy fines, and any complaints about stench, rats, maggots, flies, foxes and disease is just so much whinging on the part of the proles because worrying about the health effects of heaping mounds of rotting garbage is so 19th century.

This is a particularly timely item, since here at Chez Szondy I forgot to put the bins out on Thursday night and am now facing the prospect what to do with overflowing bags of refuse upwind of the house in the returning spring weather and how to defend said refuse against the onslaught of raccoons, coyotes, and the dog down the road who thinks my wheelie bin is his personal buffet.

Dutch Riot Update

The Brussels Journal looks further into the Dutch nativist riots and shows that the attitude behind it is not an isolated case. Similar complaints about the lack of government action against Muslim attacks on non-Muslims have occurred in Belgium, France, and Sweden, where the latter's situation is particularly chilling (emphasis added):
The wave of robberies the increasingly Muslim-dominated city of Malmö is witnessing is part of a "war against Swedes," this according to statements from the immigrant youths themselves. "When we are in the city and robbing, we are waging a war, waging a war against the Swedes." This argument was repeated several times. "Power for me means that Swedes shall look at me, lie down on the ground and kiss my feet."

Jonathan Friedman, an American living in Sweden, mentions that the so-called Integration Act of 1997 proclaimed that "Sweden is a Multicultural society." The Act implicitly states that Sweden doesn't have a history, only the various ethnic groups that live there. Native Swedes have been reduced to just another ethnic group in Sweden, with no more claim to the country than the Somalis who arrived there last Thursday. As Friedman puts it: "In Sweden, it's almost as if the state has sided with the immigrants against the Swedish working class."
Whether this is true or not, if the governments of Europe are fostering the belief in the people that it is true, then the Continent is lurching that much closer to the abyss.

Saving Their Bacon

The Three Little Pigs will not be renamed the Three Little Puppies in a children's show at the Kirklees Primary Music Festival, thanks to local councilors who thought the move intended to avoid offending Muslims was "well-intentioned but wrong."

Wrong, yes, but well intentioned? I'm not so sure. No Muslims voiced any objections to the play, but Gill Goodswen, one of the organisers of the festival, said,
We have to be sensitive if we want to be multi-cultural. It was felt it would be more responsible not to use the three little pigs.
Ah, the perfect mindset of the dhimmi. Censor yourself before the Faithful even complain.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Space Ghost, We Hardly Knew Ye

Before the appalling chat show parody, Hana Barbara Studios demonstrated that Space Ghost could pack more excitement into the opening credits than 99.999 percent of modern television can in an entire series.

Dutchmen Riot in Utrecht

Native Dutchmen have rioted for two days in Ondiep, a suburb of Utrecht, the Netherlands, after a 54-year old Dutchman was shot by police following an altercation with Muslim "youths."

According to the Brussels Journal,
Locals claim the police has failed to protect them for years. They say the authorities are afraid of the immigrants and tolerate their criminal behaviour. After the death of Mulder the indigenous Dutch decided they had had enough and started riots which went on for two continuous nights. The police made 130 arrests: 60 of them are Ondiep residents. According to the mainstream media the others are mainly “football hooligans” from other parts of the country. Annie Brouwer Korf, the Socialist mayor of Utrecht, has ordered to be sealed off from the rest of town to keep non-residents out. She expressed some sympathy for the frustrated Ondiep residents. “I understand that residents are sometimes upset about the nuisance around their own house and neighbourhood. That does you no good whatsoever.”
This is episode of a "reverse Parisian" riot is an foreshadowing of events to come in Europe that I find particularly ominous. Not because I share any of the belief on the Left that white Europeans are dyed in the wool racists who must be restrained at all times lest their blood lust runs rampant, but because it is an illustration of what I have been saying for years: If the governments of Europe do not address the problem of a large and growing unassimilated Islamic population squarely and honestly, and especially the role that the Jihadists among them play in the war against civilisation, then the native people and moderate Muslims will come to believe that the government is sacrificing them at the altar of multiculturalism. When that happens, the politics of appeasement and expediency in regard to recalcitrant and belligerent Muslims will be as nothing in the face of rebellious and frightened natives. Then God help us all.

It is a classic example of the longer we wait, the more we are going to find our options ever fewer and the results ever more unjust and bloodier for everyone.

Ballot Box or Pine?

Fidel Castro's health is improving so much that he will soon be well enough to be buried stand for "re-election".

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Britannia Keeps her Trident

In a burst of sanity, the House of Commons voted to replace the Trident nuclear deterrent when it reaches its service limit in 2020.

The press has made a meal of the backbench rebellion against the government and fostered the impression that if the vote passed, it would barely squeak through, which it did-- if a landslide victory of 409 to 161 can be called a "squeak".

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

On the Dhimmi Front

In Minnesota, land of "no infidels" taxis, Muslim cashiers at a Target store refuse to touch pork products. Are they being removed to a less bacon-rich position? Not quite (emphasis added):
In most cases, a cashier should be able to call over another cashier who can scan a product and the shopper shouldn't be inconvenienced, Athman noted. "If the employee is rude and gasps at the sight of pork, then it's a different situation," she said.
Different how and for whom is not elaborated on.

Meanwhile, in Colchester Connecticut, students dressed in bruqas to learn about discrimination against women Muslims under the watchful eye of CAIR-- which the newspaper story describes as a benign anti-bigotry group.

Imagine the equivalent of any of this being tolerated in 1943. If this war against the Jihadists is an ideological struggle, then we're bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Whither Trident?

The question of whether Britain will replace the Trident nuclear deterrent has been complicated the question of whether Britain can replace it.


Iran has condemned the new film 300, which depicts the battle of Thermopylae in 480BC where the Greeks defeated the Persian forces of King Xerxes, in terms that can only be described as raving paranoia:
Not only would no nation or government accept this... but it would also consider it as hostile behaviour which is the result of cultural and psychological warfare.
Cultural and psychological warfare; uh huh.

Note to the Mullahs: It's not all about you.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Dinosaur Redux

The BBC looks at what our world would be like if the asteroid that supposedly caused the extinction of the dinosaurs hadn't struck 65 million years ago.

Would the dinosaurs still rule the Earth? Would we be sharing the world with an sentient race evolved from the sauropods? If so, would they be deeply spiritual, intelligent creatures with a fresh, alien perspective who would enhance our philosophy and enrich our lives? Or would they just be annoying?

I'm betting on the latter.

Irony Alert

From the AP (emphasis added):
A North Pole expedition meant to bring attention to global warming was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite. The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, on Saturday called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment.
Sometimes it just writes itself.

Didn't See This One Coming

Headline from Digital Chosun Ilbo:
Korean Robots Set to Take Over the World
Oh, crap. And I thought North Korea was the problem!

Monday, 12 March 2007

Live Long & Prosper

An Avro Vulcan will take part in the Falklands War anniversary fly past in London on 17 June.

And I'm stuck on the wrong side of the planet!


At this rate, Sarah Connor will have no place to hide.


The Israelis have developed a robot soldier that, according to the AP, can,
Fight its way down dark alleys, through caves and over rubble, seeking out bombs and booby traps along the way and warning human foot soldiers of enemies and danger ahead.
Sarah Connor was unavailable for comment.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Poultry Progress

Sweden shows that it has more going for it than Abba and flat-pack furniture as it unveils the world's first chicken-burning power plant.

Technology marches on!

Ingsoc for Dogs

Live in Camden? Own five dogs? Need to take them walkies?

That will be an £80 fine on the spot, thank you.


Scientists from the EPFL in Switzerland and the INSERM research center/University of Bordeaux in France, who have way too much time on their hands, have developed the world's first robot salamander.

Work on the first robonewt is expected to begin soon.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Bad Idea

The Ministry of Defence will launch Skynet 5 into orbit today.

At 2:14 AM it becomes self-aware.

Time, Gentlemen, Please!

Saying to Hell with over three hundred years of tradition, New Labour is poised to dump the crown etched on all pint glasses to ensure that pub patrons get a full and honest measure of beer in favour of the EU's CE logo.

Makes sense. Who needs ministers of the Crown answerable to the people of Britain when you can bend the knee to faceless bureaucrats in Brussels accountable to no one?

Friday, 9 March 2007

Another Nail

Disney is "celebrating" the 80th anniversary of Winnie the Pooh by giving Christopher Robin the sack in favour of a "tomboyish" six-year girl wearing a bicycle helmet and undoubtedly sporting a thick American accent.

That loud thwacking sound you hear is my forehead connecting repeatedly with the desktop.

Update: James Lileks weighs in on the issue. Frankly, I think he's a bit remiss letting his daughter watch these sort of cartoons at all. In our house, I make it a point of having my four-year old girl watch the Terminator films instead.

She's got to know what she's up against.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Another Nail

The House of Commons has voted 337 to 224 for a fully elected House of Lords.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" has been interpreted by the current government to mean "If it ain't broke, smash it with a hammer and pick a fight that will make the Commons jam it back together into something that hasn't a hope in Hell of ever being anything except a constitutional nightmare."

Nice one.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Headline of the Day

From the BBC:
C4 to make rubbish reality show
As opposed to what?

Anthropological Idiocy

Preparing for the next edition of the Newspeak dictionary, the Association of Social Anthropologists has decreed that the term "Stone Age" is now officially "offensive" to backward, primitive savages.

It may also be offensive to people who are not social anthropologists.

Connor MacLeod, Call Your Service

Samurai swords are to be banned in Britain-- no, make that imitation samurai swords.

Since locking up real criminals is too much like hard work, the British government decided that the best way to fight violent crime is to treat the general public like the enemy and deny them even decorative replica swords. It's times like this that I'm glad I'm based in Washington State, as I have no intention of surrendering the daisho that I hauled around the world for twenty years and now has pride of place in my office.

Heck, even Britain's Jedi are worried about this one.

No Smoking

The management would like to remind readers that Ephemeral Isle is a no smoking area.

Because there is nothing worse than second-hand smoke over the Internet. Somehow. Sort of. I don't know. It sounded good in the meeting.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Paradigm Shifting Without a Clutch

From the Telegraph, two left-wing obsessions colliding head on:
A van converted by Derby council to run on cooking oil from school kitchens, thus saving the planet from carbon emissions, will now sit in the municipal garage because "healthy" meals for pupils are not producing enough fuel. As the van is part of the council's catering fleet, this might limit the delivery of healthy fodder to the very children who once provided its oily fuel in less cholesterol-aware days.
There are times when all I can say is, life is good.

Monday, 5 March 2007


It fills out prescriptions, hunts for Sarah Connor.

Close, But No Cigar

Still hanging around in Iran, the Guardian has an article on John Curtis of the British Museum, who is worried about a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities because they are "perilously close" to many archaeological sites.

How close? Well, let's take Persepolis, which Dr. Curtis points out is "within 50 miles of the Ardakan and Fasa uranium processing plants".

Fifty miles? That's practically around the corner-- or would be if the Coalition didn't have precision munitions that can fly through an outhouse window at 600 miles range or warheads that can take out one room in a building and leave the rest intact. Still, it is curious that Dr. Curtis is so concerned about the prospect of an attack on Iran's nuclear weapons sites, yet he is not about who put those military targets near archaeological treasures in violation of the Geneva Conventions in the first place.

Or, perhaps, it isn't too curious, as Dr. Curtis doesn't seem bothered at all by the prospect of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, New York, or even London with the British Museum with all its treasures being targeted with nuclear weapons by a regime that for 27 years has used "death to Israel, death to Britain, death to America" the way other people use "have a nice day."

That, apparently, is not a problem.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

A Slight Oversight

The BBC ran a feature on how a military strike against Iran's nuclear weapons programme would cause Iran to get the bomb sooner rather than later by not destroying all of Iran's facilities, providing the regime with increased political support, and fostering a determination to pursue a "crash" programme.

Never mind that Tehran is a dictatorship where domestic support is irrelevant, that it's a bit difficult to make a crash programme crashier, or that knocking out key parts of a nuclear programme (such as the tyrants running the country) can be as effective as taking out the whole sheebang; what I found interesting was the prominence the BBC gave to the views of Dr. Frank Barnaby, who the Beeb describes as "a respected British nuclear weapons scientist", though neglecting to mention that he hasn't worked in the field in nearly fifty years or that he's on the staff of the CND-ish, anti-war Oxford Research Group. In fact, the ORG isn't even obliquely mentioned until paragraph 23. Not exactly thorough reporting there.

The BBC includes this interesting history lesson regarding strikes against rogue nuclear states:
The US has examined the possibility of military strikes on other countries' nuclear facilities in the past.

It came closest in 1994, when a White House meeting discussing whether to strike North Korea was interrupted by news of a possible deal over the country's nuclear programme.

The option of military strikes against Pakistan's Kahuta plant were also examined in the late 1970s but ruled out because the chances of success were rated too low when compared to the consequences of going ahead.

But there is one important precedent for an attack on nuclear facilities.

In June 1981, eight Israeli fighter jets took only 90 seconds to destroy Iraq's Osirak reactor in an audacious bombing raid. It is sometimes cited as a precedent for a US or Israeli (or joint) attack on Iran, but is it really a useful parallel?
One would think so. Not surprisingly, the BBC asserts that the strike against Iraq produced a bizarre, yet unproven, boost to the Saddam's nuclear programme, which was suddenly dismantled for some reason in 1991 that the BBC seems reluctant to explore (*cough* Gulf War *cough*). Neither do they seem very interested in the outcome of the three episodes:
  • No strike against North Korea: North Korea gets the bomb.
  • No strike against Pakistan: Pakistan gets the bomb.
  • Strike against Iraq: No Iraqi bomb.
Pace, BBC et al, I think I see a pattern here.

Joys of Freelancing

A Blakes 7 quote that I've had to use on stroppier clients from time to time-- though, generally, without the gun.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Lunar Reruns

There's going to be yet another total eclipse of the Moon today.

You'd think that people would be so sick of the things by now that they'd stop scheduling them.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Der Tag

AP headline:
Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein
"Accidentally", my eye. Anyone with half a brain could have seen this coming years ago. Switzerland is on the march at last and the world trembles!

The lights will be burning long in the chancelleries of Europe this night, I tell you.

Major Matt Mason

The Mattel toy company's contribution to the Space Race.

I didn't have one of these, but a friend of mine did. Am I bitter? No, of course not. What makes you think that?

Little bastard!

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Space Food Sticks

The Space Race produced many wonderful things that have enhanced our lives and broadened our understanding of the universe.

This wasn't one of them.