Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Gaunlet Has Been Thrown Down

From the Daily Express:
HAM and bacon should be cut from our diets to avoid the risk of bowel cancer, a landmark study has shown.
First they came for the popcorn and I said nothing...

Ingsoc on Campus

The University of Delaware organises its halls of residence into a political re-education camp complete with commissars. Throw in a two-minute hate and they'll have the set.

What is truly depressing is that no one is going to get sacked over this outrage.

Put Up or Shut Up

Seattle PI cartoonist Horsey regards Islamofascism as a tiny threat made large by a Republican "fun-house mirror".

If Mr. Horsey truly believes that Jihadists are a mere neocon phantasm (9/11, 7/7, Glasgow, Beslan, Bali, Madrid, the Burning of France, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and all the rest aside), then I suggest that he put his pen where is mouth is and submit a drawing of Mohammed-- either reverent or nasty, it doesn't matter.

I'll run the book on how long it will be before Mr. Horsey is forced into hiding for fear of his life.

Spanish Maths

The Jihadists who carried out the Madrid bombings back in 2004 have been sentenced to 43,000 years in prison each.

Don't chill the champagne, though. Under Spanish law these monsters can't serve more than forty years no matter what the sentence.

They kill us and we hit them with soft pillows.

Update: According to the Los Angeles Times, it gets worse:
One of the accused masterminds of the 2004 Madrid terror bombings was acquitted of all charges today by a Spanish court in the culmination to a politically divisive trial over Europe's worst Islamic militant terror attack.

Rabei Osman, a 35-year-old Egyptian, allegedly bragged during a wiretapped phone conversation that the attacks, which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800, were his idea. Twenty-eight people were charged in the attacks.
They have him boasting of his perfidity and they let him walk scot free. Dear God.

Happy Halloween

It's Halloween at Ephemeral Isle, so to celebrate we bring you the ultimate in cinematic horror. Prepare yourself, if you can, for the sheer mind-bending terror of:

Plan 9 from Outer Space

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Invisible Tanks

It's a budget-cutting trick, I tell you. They're going to scrap a tank regiment and claim we just can't see them!

Spinal Tap, Call Your Service

What happens when you don't pay attention to the design specs.

The Mulculturalism of Fear

Glen Reynolds comments on the recent uncovering of Jihadi propaganda in British Mosques and hits the nail on the head about the poison of Multiculturalism:
Europe mostly tolerates those whom it fears.
To coin a phrase, indeed.

Dog Shoots Man

A dog in Iowa claims to have shot his master "by accident".

Yeah, we've heard that one before.

Old Orange

A 116-year old orange has gone display at the Potteries Museum in Staffordshire.

If that sort of thing is of value, then the back of my fridge must be a treasure trove. I think I've got a bit of bacon in there that dates back to the Wilson government.

Monday, 29 October 2007

G. I. Joe and the Memory Hole

G. I. Joe (or Action Man as I knew him in my boyhood) is to finally be relieved of the unbearable burden of being an American. According to Variety:

G. I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer.
He works out of Belgium and he fights evil Scotsmen? Fair enough. It's not as if we're at war or anything.

Or as if G. I. Joe was ever a real person.

Born Free

Run, little crayfish! Run!

Pickled Pachyderms

What could be worse than drunken hooligans roaming British town centres on a Friday night?

Try drunken elephant hooligans running around Indian villages.

Eight Out of Ten

Russell Blackford has an excellent piece on the cluelessness of a certain Australian imam on the matter of separation of church and state and why Islamophobia is nothing but a bad word that should be dispensed with:
Unfortunately, the impression has been created by many Muslim leaders that Islam seeks to control all aspects of individuals' lives and does not shrink from using secular power to achieve its aim. We are all well aware of extreme examples in recent history, such as Afghanistan under the benighted Taliban regime. Until that fear is laid to rest, it is quite rational for the rest of us to fear Islam's political ambitions - which is one reason why the word "Islamophobia" is so stupid. A phobia is an irrational fear, but secular Westerners actually have perfectly rational reasons to be at least wary of Islam.
This is excellent stuff as far as it goes, but he does fall down on one point:

The question is not about kings and popes (though it is certainly relevant to the temporal ambitions of the current pope). It is about how religionists of any stripe can reassure the rest of us that they will not use the coercive power of the state to impose their contentious (and, let's face it, usually miserable) moral doctrines, should they come to command an electoral majority.
The matter of "miserable moral doctrines" aside, this is only half true. Yes, it is a question of reassurance, but not, as any competent theologian will tell you, that the church will be dangerous if it is backed by the power of the state. It is rather theat the state will be dangerous if it is backed by the awesome power of the church in the hands of fallible human beings. Hence the reason why most Christians reject theocracy and why even in the high-water time of the Catholic church the Pope only ruled his temporal realms as an earthly prince equal with his fellows.

Indeed, G. K. Chesterton dealt with this very neatly in The Everlasting Man when he addressed the Arian Heresy and the myth of the state as dictator of faith:

Take another rationalistic explanation of the rise of Christendom. It is common enough to find another critic saying, 'Christianity did not really rise at all; that is, it did not merely rise from below; it was imposed from above. It is an example of the power of the executive, especially in despotic states. The Empire was really an Empire; that is, it was really ruled by the Emperor. One of the Emperors happened to become a Christian. He might just as well have become a Mithraist or a Jew or a Fire-Worshipper; it was common in the decline of the Empire for eminent and educated people to adopt these eccentric eastern cults. But when he adopted it it became the official religion of the Roman Empire; and when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, it became as strong, as universal and as invincible as the Roman Empire. It has only remained in the world as a relic of that Empire; or, as many have put it, it is but the ghost of Caesar still hovering over Rome.' This also is a very ordinary line taken in the criticism of orthodoxy, to say that it was only officialdoms that ever made it orthodoxy. And here again we can call on the heretics to refute it.

The whole great history of the Arian heresy might have been invented to explode this idea. It is a very interesting history often repeated in this connection; and the upshot of it is in so far as there ever was a merely official religion, it actually died because it was merely an official religion; and what destroyed it was the real religion. Arius advanced a version of Christianity which moved, more or less vaguely, in the direction of what we should call Unitarianism; thought was not the same, for it gave to Christ a curious intermediary position between the divine and human. The point is that it seemed to many more reasonable and less fanatical; and among these were many of the educated class in a sort of reaction against the first romance of conversion. Arians were a sort of moderates and a sort of modernists. And it was felt that after the first squabbles this was the final form of rationalized, religion into which civilization might well settle down. It was accepted by Divus Caesar himself and became the official orthodoxy; the generals and military princes drawn from the new barbarian powers of the north, full of the future, supported it strongly. But the sequel is still more important. Exactly as a modern man might pass through Unitarianism to complete agnosticism, so the greatest of the Arian emperors ultimately shed the last and thinnest pretense of Christianity; he abandoned even Arius and returned to Apollo. He was a Caesar of the Caesars; a soldier, a scholar, a man of large ambitions and ideals; another of the philosopher kings. It seemed to him as if at his signal the sun rose again. The oracles began to speak like birds beginning to sing at. dawn; paganism was itself again; the gods returned. It seemed the end of that strange interlude of an alien superstition. And indeed it was the end of it, so far as there was a mere interlude of mere superstition. It was the end of it, in so far as it was the fad of an emperor or the fashion of a generation. If there really was something that began with Constantine, then it ended with Julian.

A small point, but an important one.


Inscribes Martin Luther bible; changes sixth commandment to "Thou Shalt Not Kill-- Except When Hunting for Sarah Conner".

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Aged Clam

Scientists in Bangor, Wales claim to have discovered a clam over 400 years old.

This is not surprising, as I am positive I've been served clams that old in a restaurant in Eastbourne back in '92.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

The Last Man on Earth

Since it's Halloween this week, it's only appropriate that this week's feature should showcase the immortal Vincent Price as The Last Man on Earth.

Friday, 26 October 2007

The Brain

The Brain: Basically a wrinkled bag of skin filled with warm water, veins and thought muscles.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Foresight is a Rarity

We're at war with crazed ideologues who leap at any sign of the West's cultural weakness, Mrs. Laura Bush visits Jeddah, is presented with an hijab, and with all the sense of a cod in a fish trap puts the thing on in front of cameras.

This by a woman who has no doubt been warned six ways to Sunday by her press secretary never to appear in an apron for fear of being thought "submissive."

No wonder I get these migraines.

Stalin's "Supermen"

According to the Scotsman, Stalin had a lot in common with Dr. Vornoff.
THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."
I guess that's what they really meant by the New Soviet Man.

Come to think of it, given that Homo Sovieticus was essentially a mindless brute with all human thought and sympathy bred out of him, it probably isn't that much of a joke.

Smoking Licence

Prof. Julian le Grand, former advisor to Tony Blair, wants to "help" smokers by tabling a proposition that anyone who smokes must be forced to spend £200 on a licence-- provided, that is that he also gets a doctor's signature showing that he is not a "massive risk" and declare himself a "registered addict."

Not surprisingly, Prof. le Grand also proposes banning food manufacturers from adding salt to products, an exercise hour for all employees during the working day and free fruit in offices.

Failure to eat the fruit will, presumably, be made an imprisonable offence.

Running Comment

A comment from "Harry" in San Diego on the BBC web site regarding the California wildfires:
I was evacuated during the fires, and all I have to say is that the last few days have been awful.
I can imagine. Though why he was being force-fed laxatives remains a mystery.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

A Humiliating Turn of Events

Headline from The Van Der Galiƫn Gazette:
French Intellectuals Accuse Dutch of “Unacceptable Cowardice”

It's offical; pigs fly!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Wishlist Dinosaur

This 60,000 lb robot tyrannosaurus capable of ripping pickup trucks to shreds is going up for auction on 12 January 2008.

If my wife is reading this, I would like to remind her that Christmas is coming and I already have enough ties.

Frankenstein (1910)

A real cinematic rarity: The very first screen adaptation of Frankenstein by the Thomas Edison Company.

An interesting bit of trivia: For a cast of complete "unknowns" the principal actors had an average of 217 screen credits each!

What Leader are You?

I was hoping for the Duke of Wellington at the very least.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Colonel Taylor, Call Your Service

From the BBC:
The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi has died a day after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys.
Some stories need no comment.

Night Train

A new sculpture is due to be unveiled at St. Pancras station. According to the BBC,

The sculpture is intended to reflect the romance of past train travel.
From the look of the piece, St. Pancaras must have once been very popular with horny vampires.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Religion of Peace

"Youth" of indeterminate religion rioting continues in Amsterdam for a sixth night.

That won't do much for the "Moroccan-Dutch" of indeterminate religion's stigma.

Update: According to reports, part of the problem is that even as the "Moroccan-Dutch" of indeterminate religion "leaders" demand a crack down, the Dutch police are taking a softly-softly approach that amounts to letting the "Youths" of indeterminate religious burn and pillage as they see fit.

Uh huh. Worked so well with the Vikings, why shouldn't it with these barbarians.

Flash Gordon Cinema Update

More Flash Gordon goodness.

After yesterday's Flash Gordon film festival jayessell asked if any of the clips were from the notorious 1980 feature with the bombastic score by Queen. Indeed so, and here are the opening credits featuring some of Alex Raymond's incredible artwork.

We were also asked about the Filmation series that came out at the same time. The animated clip yesterday was from the television film that was only ever aired once, but was then cannibalised for scenes for the Saturday morning serial that was basically an expansion and toning down of the film plot.

A bit pedestrian as themes go, but still infinitely preferable to this Scifi Channel pap.

We also forgot the '70s soft core parody Flesh Gordon that kept a lot of FX artists gainfully employed during lean times, so in the interest of completeness, here it is. Caution: Brief nudity and strong language.

Unfortunately, now that we've started, we have to include the 1993 sequel Flesh Gordon meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders as well. The real tragedy of this one is that even it outdoes the current series.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Australia in Space

"Academics" in Queensland are up in arms about the exploration of space for fear that we might turn the Moon and Mars into extraterrestrial versions of Australia.

Taking barren, lifeless balls of dust and converting them into prosperous, free, democratic friendly, hard-working Anglophone nations that swear fealty to Her Britannic Majesty and boast beautiful beaches, loads of beef and lamb, superb seafood, barbecues, scuba diving, sailing, horseback riding, decent beer and Vegemite? A staunch ally through a century of war and conflict? The sort of place that my wife keeps asking me if we should emigrate to?

When do we start?

Pull Out Of Their...

First it was smoking, then it was fatty foods and now the government drops another "study" that the British middle-class is a hotbed of alcohol abuse with the denizens of Hampstead and Surrey regularly downing glasses of Chardy well beyond the sacred "safe" limits.

This assault on the sideboard was so blatant and predictable that even John Mortimer came out and denounced this invasion of privacy as absurd. Given that Mr. Mortimer is a quintessential Claret Socialist, this is not at all surprising.

What is even less surprising is that the Times reports that the "safe" drinking limits that the government has been pounding us over the head with for twenty years were "plucked out of the air."

Plucked out of somewhere that is certain, though I suspect it wasn't the air.


Your Saturday sci-fi feature: Rocketship; the 1950's full-length edit of the original 1936 Flash Gordon serial.

Flash Gordon is one of those characters who is almost impossible to transfer to the screen, but at least in 1936 they took a serious stab at capturing the spirit of the comic strip. Believe it or not, it, at the time it was the most expensive serial ever made and it actually has an integrity that stands the test of time.

Want proof? Test the 1936 version with the counter example. Play it while the Scifi Channel's current "reimagined" version is on and watch the latter shrivel up and blow away.

Not that that is definitive. The same result happens when the Scifi version is compared to exhibit B,

Exhibit C,

And even Exhibit D does a better job,

Or even (God help us!) this.

And this one is a cut above and it's so bad that the poster wouldn't even include an embed code!

Friday, 19 October 2007

Peter Cushing, Call Your Service

Scientists at the J Craig Venter Institute in the United States claim that they are on the verge of creating life.

Oh, this should end well!

Road to Nowhere

The stupidity of tyranny: An abandoned railway in Siberia that goes from nowhere to nowhere; built for no other reason than a bizarre whim of Stalin's that no one dared question.

Conservative Dhimmitude

A Muslim group in Britain lays out its talking points:
  • Iran has "legitimate reasons for wanting nuclear weapons."
  • Muslim preachers who advocate a rejection of democracy and its institutions should not be denied entry into Britain.
  • Education in Britain should be changed to provide "full recognition to the massive contribution that Islam has made to the development of Western civilisation".
  • Britain should think twice about supporting Israel unless they want the wrath of the umma to come down on their heads.

So, who are this lot? A load of raving Jihadi imams? No, its the Tory party's Conservative Muslim Forum.

It's like walking into the Carlton Club in 1943 and seeing Von Ribbentrop propping up the bar.

A Winter's Tale

Seatac airport in Seattle has found a "solution" to the ONE objection to its Christmas decorations: Abolish all references to Christmas (pardon my profanity) and replace the Christmas (Sorry!) trees with bare, flocked birch trunks symbolising-- Well, not much of anything really.

Since it is so utterly craven and vacuous, I guess we can call it the "multiculti grove".

Exploding the Euro Myths

Actually, the biggest myth is that we have to be any sort of "part" of Europe at all.

Alan Coren 1938-2007

Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we should have people standing in the corners of our rooms.

Alan Coren
The humourist Alan Coren has died at the age of 69. Times columnist, editor of Punch for two decades and a regular on The News Quiz, Mr. Coren had a marvelous writing voice as the Cricklewood Middle-class Everyman and such an evenly balanced sense of humour that even when economic hard times brought the Great Purge to the library at Chez Szondy a book of his columns survived on the grounds that I was still trying to figure out how to crib his style.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The Habit and the Hijab

The absurdity of airport security in the United States summed up in one image.

Evil; Pure Evil

A toilet that hides itself away as a decorative cabinet when not in use.

I can imagine myself encountering one of these Hunt-The-Karzis at a dinner party as the curried lentils start to assault my colon. The volley of cursing that ensued would scorch the wallpaper black.

Bookworm Alert

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

The Picturephone

People did not want to comb their hair to answer the telephone.
Robert Lucky

Forbes magazine looks at birth and instant death of the Picturephone.

Queen Victoria

The Cunard Line announces the launch of their newest luxury ship the Queen Victoria.

I think "opulent" sums her up nicely.

"Youth" in Amsterdam

The Digital Journal reports that on Tuesday night Morrocan-Dutch "youths" of indeterminate religion rioted, set cars alight and stoned a police station in Amsterdam after 22-year old Bilal Bajaka, another "youth" of indeterminate religion, walked into a police station with a knife and was shot to death after he stabbed two police officers, leaving them in a "serious, but stable" condition.

Though the religion of the "youths" of indeterminate religion was not mentioned in the article, the fact that the assailant was "personally acquainted with Mohammed Bouyeri, the convicted killer of the late film director Theo van Gogh, as well as with other Moroccan-Dutch terrorist suspects", it is a fair bet that they were not Methodists.

Asked about the incident and riots,
Moroccan-Dutch residents of Slotervaart complained to reporters they were "sick and tired" of continuous "negative news reports" about fellow Moroccan-Dutch, adding they felt increasingly stigmatized.
"Sick and tired" of "negative news reports"? Here is a small suggestion for what it is worth: Maybe the "Moroccan-Dutch" of indeterminate religion would stop being "stigmatised" if they stopped brutally murdering filmmakers, forswore attacking police officers, and refrained from rioting in the streets when one of their co-indeterminate-religionists is brought to justice.

It's called civilisation. Try it some time.

Swords Have Two Edges

If you are not responsible for your actions, then you will not be given responsibility.

C. S. Lewis on the logic of the totalitarian

A new study says that obese people are not responsible for their condition and the British government "pledged to draw up a strategy to address the issue."

That's about as ominous a promise as "we're here to help." Translated this means that the overweight will be "helped" the same way smokers were by being hounded from pillar to post until they are beaten into submission.

If I were a gay rights activist I would be very worried at this edict. If a supposedly involuntary, yet unhealthy "lifestyle" can be persecuted out of existence because it has been declared a thoughtcrime by the Party is momentarily unpopular, then homosexuals, and the rest of us, might be enjoying but a brief Indian summer before a very hard winter.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Blaming the Victim

Lars Vilks, the cartoonist at the centre of the Swedish Cartoon War, is interviewed by Paula Newton of CNN, who interjects this observation (emphasis added):
Still one could argue Vilks should have known better because of what happened in Denmark in 2005, when a cartoonist's depictions of the prophet sparked violent protests in the Muslim world and prompted death threats against that cartoonist's life.
Translation: How dare Mr. Vilks refuse to act the good dhimmi and draw the wrath of the Faithful upon his head. Remember what happened to the Danes!

It's as one with Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali's claim that Australian women who refuse to wear the hijab are "abandoned meat" and therefore deserve to be raped. I expect that sort of bile from a raving Jihadist, but from a respected Western news agency it is nothing less than counseling cowardice in a time of war.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Some Revolutionaries Are More Equal Than Others

In a move of pure, unbridled cynicism not seen since the days of the Hitler/Stalin pact, the Communists and the Jihadists recently met in Tehran to form an entente cordial and the former came away with a lesson in dhimmitude:

The hope was that the conference would produce a synthesis of Marxist and Khomeinist ideologies and highlight what the Iranian leader has labeled "the divine aspect of revolutionary war." But the event itself proved rather embarrassing.
The embarrassment came when Iranian speaker, Hajj Saeed Qassemi, declared that Ernesto "Che" Guevara was actually a religious man who believed in neither Communism or the Soviet Union. Waxing on his subject, Mr, Qassemi said,
Today, communism has been consigned to the garbage can of history as foreseen by Imam Khomeini. Thus progressists everywhere must accept the leadership of our religious, pro-justice movement.
When the the late Mr. Guevara's daughter, who was attending in a proper dhimmi headscarf, made a vocal protest she and her (bewhiskered) brother were rushed away and reduced to the level of unpersons by the end of the conference.
Given the advanced age of the Communist participants and the bald confidence of the Jihadists that they were the true "progressives", it isn't surprising that things ended up with the Communists being treated less as partners than as appetisers. Perhaps the Left should rethink this alliance before they discover that the hijabs and beards have gone from a courtesy to a requirement.


The Palace of Westminster is up for renovation and the BBC is pondering where members of parliament can be relocated to.

I have a humble suggestion, but I fear that it is already too crowded with building contractors, theatre critics, lawyers and BBC controllers.

Collaring the Clergy

In a recent Internet bulletin, Father John Hayes of St Mary's Church, Hornchurch, East London commented on the case of Shabina Begum, the Muslim girl who recently went to court over her demand to attend school in full veil. According to reports,

Hayes had said in his Internet bulletin, after hearing an interview with Shabina Begum, that it was never possible to convince anyone by argument in matters of religion.

Hayes said, “My point was that you have to demonstrate what it means to be Christian through your actions."

The result of this? A visit from the thoughtpolice constabulary investigating a possible thoughtcrime an allegation of incitement of racial hatred.

Nissan Terranaut

Finally someone comes up with a motor car that meets my needs!

Okay, whims.

History of religion

History of religion as a flash animation map. Not entirely accurate (surely they mean the "Resurrection of Jesus"), but still fun to watch.

Air Singapore

This guy is enjoying himself too damn much.

Air Singapore reveals the features of its new Airbus A380.

Given the flying cattle cars that I'm forced to inhabit on the rare occasions when I'm dragged kicking and screaming on to modern airliners, this sort of thing gives me both hope when I see what is on offer and an impenetrable black mood when I see the price tag.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Creeping Credits

One of the things that aggravate me about modern cinema is how the credits have bloated to such an insane degree that the second assistant caterer's dog walker gets a mention. To show just how bad things have become, the New York Times posted this handy graphic.


Saturday, 13 October 2007

Thirteen to Centaurus

For your Saturday sci-fi feature we present this disturbing little J.G. Ballard tale from 1965: Thirteen to Centaurus.

Friday, 12 October 2007

30 Reasons to Hate the French

Amazingly, their obsession with Jerry Lewis only comes in at 16.

The Camel's Nose

The Muslim Students Association at the University of Toronto demanded that halal meals be served at Bluff's, the campus restaurant. The university, showing the proper dhimmitude, caved in like a Styrofoam cup filled with petrol.

Problem solved? Hardly. The MSA promptly showed their sense of compromise and reconciliation by saying that the change in the menu wasn't good enough because the restaurant still served alcohol and played dance music. According to Ahmad Jaballah, a former MSA executive and current Scarborough Campus Students Union VP students and equity,
This initiative was brought forth solely by Bluff’s without ever consulting the MSA or Muslim students. If this was a deliberate accommodation, it’s kind of offensive in giving us the food in a manner unsuitable to us.
Translation: That's what appeasement gets you.

Pontius Pilate, Call Your Service

Miscea has produced a new sensor-activated tap that will not only turn on when you put your hands near it, but will also adjust the temperature and dispense soap, lotion, disinfectant, and a fit of apoplexy as you try to get on with just washing your hands is that too much to ask, dammit.

The New Etiquette

The BBC, operating under the delusion that the sort of damp-handed, creeping Continentalism practised at Broadcasting House is the norm for the country, ponders at tedious length the "new etiquette" of people who are not close family members kissing and hugging.

In order to help avoid confusion, I would point out that this sort of thing was settled long ago in my part of Yorkshire and I offer the following guidelines for the confused:

  • A handshake is a perfectly acceptable form of greeting, though if the recipient is female, try to restrict the breakage to the smaller bones of the hand.

  • An offer of a cheek to kiss is best responded to with a blank stare of complete incomprehension followed by a look implying that the cheek-offerer has gone mad.

  • The offer of a "Soprano-style" hug anywhere outside of backstage at the Royal Theatre should be politely declined with a cold-conking.
I hope this clears up these little details.


Paul Allen's latest venture gets off the ground as the first bits of the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) comes online as part of a $50 million search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

The builders hope that they will receive the first signals by 2025, though loyal readers of Ephemeral Isle will recall that such a message has already been received and it isn't exactly what Carl Sagan had in mind.


Newsreel compilation of the stark, raving, gloriously mad.

Space Guns

The Russians have been packing iron in their spaceships since 1982.

Unfortunately, lasers are not involved.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Problem, Meet Solution

Engineers at EDS have developed a new "intelligent" shopping trolley with a built-in computer and barcode reader that will nag warn you if you're buying too much junk food.

In other news, Ephemeral Isle is marketing handy sledge hammers that you can use to smash busybody shopping trolleys to tiny bits if they stick their metallic noses into your business.

Tiny Minds

Turning to the tinfoil hat section of the news, we learn that anti-war protesters in the United States believe that the CIA is spying on them with teeny, tiny flying robots.

At least, that's what the voices keep telling them.

Quatermass and the Pit (Part 6)

London becomes a Martian colony and it's up to Quatermass to save the Earth.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Fatty Cascade

The Great British Fry-Up: heart attack on a plate or victim of a modern scientific superstition?

An object lesson in what happens when an untested hypothesis is blindly acccepted when it serves the ends of those who believe they have a "Science-given" right to control the lives of others.

The Ultimate Martini

Australian doctors have saved the life of an Italian tourist by giving him an alcohol drip feed.

Oddly, in many parts of Australia this procedure is known as "cutting out the middleman."

Quatermass and the Pit (Part 5)

Can Quatermass convince the government of the danger before it's too late? Find out in Part 5.

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Atomic Che

(T)he people (of Cuba) you see today tell you that even if they should disappear from the face if the earth because an atomic war is unleashed in their names... they will feel completely happy and fulfilled.
Che Guevara

The BBC is indulging in one of its periodic bouts of Socialist worship; this time extolling the "legacy" of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Not surprisingly, there are gallons of ink spilled in rapture of his "iconic" image, his "inspiration" and battles against "injustice."

Unfortunately, they do overlook the tiny matter of his knowingly working in the cause of a totalitarian system, his love of mass executions, his introduction of the gulag to Cuba, his rank cowardice in battle, and his wild fanaticism that made him lust after the idea of universal Stalinist dictatorship ushered in on the backs of a hundred million radioactive corpses.

But that's just awkward nit-picking against the reputation of a dead Communist murderer who's cornered the tee-shirt market.

Million Dollar Mistake.

A complete twit walked into a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania convenience store and asked them to break a forged million dollar bill for him.

He became rather stroppy when the clerks offered him a $500,000 and two $250,000 bills in change.

Quatermass and the Pit (Part 4)

Are we the Martians? Find out in Part 4.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 5

Monday, 8 October 2007

Ford Nucleon

Damn Interesting has a rather nifty article on the Ford Nucleon: Atomic runabout for the atomic age.

The Future is Now (1955)

The future! Mystic land of videophones and electronic player pianos.

Player pianos?

Quatermass and the Pit (Part 3)

What mystery is behind the history of Hobb's lane? Find out in Part 3.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 4.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Multiculti Madness

Mark Steyn on Mohammed Fayed's assertion that the Princess of Wales was assassinated by MI6 because she was dating a Muslim:

David Pryce-Jones made the point that, in persisting with his lurid accusations, Mohammed Fayed revealed how little he understands Britain: He’s lived there for years, it’s been good to him, he owns Harrod’s and the Paris Ritz and various other baubles. No big deal. He’s one of many, many beneficiaries of Western openness to “the other.” And yet he’s convinced himself that Buckingham Palace is so consumed by “Islamophobia” that the Queen’s husband dialed M, and M called in Moneypenny, and Moneypenny faxed 007, and a week later the princess and her Islamostud are dead.

Reality is more humdrum: In multiculti Britain, everyone was indifferent to Di’s Muslim lover. Could have been a Hindu, could have been a Buddhist. Who cares? But instead Mr Fayed has retreated into the paranoia and victim mentality that stunts so much of the Muslim world. A while back, I was in Jordan, and a wealthy Saudi told me that the Iraq war was part of a continuous western assault on Islam that includes the British Royal Family’s assassination of Dodi Fayed. And so, in a London courtroom, a freak one-off celebrity death becomes just another snapshot of the big geopolitical picture.