Thursday, 31 January 2008

Combined Plough & Gun

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From 1862: An American patent for a combined plough and gun.

I'd like to see an iphone try that one.

A Chilling Effect

British publicans stand to lose £250 million a year in the face of the European Union's proposed ban on outdoor heaters.

I'm beginning to suspect that not only is the EU an anti-democratic, totalitarian regime, but that it's also stocked with crypto-temperance crusaders.

Tinned Cheeseburger

Go away. Just go away.

Remote Pet Feeder

Feed your pet over the Internet!

If you think this is a good idea, it's time to trade in your dog for a potted plant.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

News on Sunday

Online Videos by
I used to work with people like this and I can remember shaking my head over their antics so often that I got a cramp in my neck. Here's part one of a documentary about a failed 1987 attempt to start a "radical" newspaper that was so lumbered with incompetence, egos, political posturing and ideological blinkers that it went from stillbirth to train wreck by way of farce.

Remember to make some popcorn before starting this one.

You can see the rest of the programme over at David Thompson.

Danish Courage

The Danish national library will house the Danish Mohammed cartoons so that they will be "kept safe for future generations."

I think I'll nip out for some Heineken.

For the Remarkably Inattentive

An American company is developing an umbrella that tells you if it is raining.

In my experience, if one in possession of an umbrella and in need of its services, one is generally aware if it is raining without external reference.

Newspeak Update

"Mum" and "dad" have been removed from the latest edition of the Dictionary of Newspeak because it is wildly improbable that children are not being raised by homosexuals.

Future Home

The good news: The home of the future has arrived.

The bad news: It's a flat-pack.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Robot Vs. Puppy

I didn't know Sarah Connor had a dog.

A Modest Proposal

An army of young criminals is rampaging across Britain in an endless campaign of destruction, theft, rape and murder. Do you:
  1. Build more prisons to house the villains and order the police to drop the PC paperwork and round them up so that the courts can mete out ordinate punishment.
  2. Feed the little Visigoths fish oil.
If you chose 2, congratulations! You are now the Home Secretary.

Technology Marches On

1930 saw incredible leaps in mankind's mastery of technology.

Or people got a good laugh out of watching the hard of hearing wear silly amplifier ears. It's not entirely clear.

Life in 2000 AD

Over at Paleo-Future there's an extensive post on the Associated Press' take on life in 2000AD.

Apparently, women were all supposed to be hulking Amazons by then.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Another Nail

Mr. Gordon Brown continues Mr. Tony Blair's policy of treating Britain's ancient institutions like so many old rags as he removes Britannia from British coinage-- a practice that goes back 2000 years.

Seeing as Mr. Brown's term in office goes back only a matter of months, perhaps it is time for his services to be removed as well.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Love That Is Required to Speak Its Name

A government survey has revealed that only one percent of the population is homosexual, though this result has been received with scepticism, as three percent of the population responded by giggling.

Be that as it may, what I find interesting is this quote from the Telegraph article:
Ministers intend to introduce an annual count once the survey method has been improved. They say they need the information to plan public service provision more accurately.
What sort of "public service provision" requires this sort of information does not bear thinking about. But it is ironic that a political movement that was ostensibly based on the idea that a what a person does in private is private is now the cause of the government prying into our bedrooms on an annual basis.

A Cunning Plan

Telegraph headline:
Don't treat the old and unhealthy, say doctors
At first I was appalled by this idea, but now I am totally won over by its brilliant simplicity. If you only offer health care to the young and healthy, then it's as much as saying you're only offering it to those who don't need it, hence health care becomes redundant.

Therefore, why not cut the Gordian knot and abolish the NHS outright?


Local councils in Britain are complaining that there are so few resources available to deal with potholes that it would take 11 years to just fill in those in England and Wales.

Maybe if the councils paid more attention to providing basic services and catching criminals and less to social engineering the inhabitants and managing spineless police bureaucracies that worship political orthodoxy over justice, then they might be able to do their jobs properly.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Phantom Creeps

Your Saturday feature: The Phantom Creeps, starring the immortal Bela Lugosi and a rather unfortunate robot that resembles Rondo Hatton.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Steel Tomorrow

Future Past as seen by United States Steel.

Oopsy Daisy

A suicide bomber in Afghanistan tripped and fell down a flight of stairs on the way to "work" with obvious results.

This what is known as a happy accident.

Candle in the Wind

From the Jerusalem Post:
On at least two occasions this week, Hamas staged scenes of darkness as part of its campaign to end the political and economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalists said Wednesday.

In the first case, journalists who were invited to cover the Hamas government meeting were surprised to see Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers sitting around a table with burning candles.

In the second case on Tuesday, journalists noticed that Hamas legislators who were meeting in Gaza City also sat in front of burning candles.

But some of the journalists noticed that there was actually no need for the candles because both meetings were being held in daylight.
This sort of political theatre is not unknown in.... SOME?!?!?!?

Wanted: A Moral Compass.

Martin Fletcher, NBC News Correspondent and Tel Aviv Bureau Chief, comes completely unglued with a column that demonstrates that he absolutely lost the ability to tell good from evil.
It is hard for me to describe Ahmed Sanakreh as a terrorist, although I know it's true. Hard, because I got to know him and his family quite well, and when you understand people, it's hard to hate them...

Alaa, Ahmed and their friend Nasser abu Aziz were my de facto guides to the Palestinian side of the second Intifada (uprising). They were terrorists to the Israelis, freedom fighters to their neighbors, and sources to me.
Dear God, how rudderless do you have to be to not only employ such monsters as "guides," but to actually sympathise with them and then try to justify it with some very public and ineffectual hand-wringing? What sort of an attitude is, "Sure they're bloodthirsty murders who don't discriminate between soldiers and little girls, but they're nice chaps when you get to know them."

To coin a phrase, Get a new soul. That thing's not fit for a dog. Get a new soul.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Be Seeing You

From Jonah Goldberg's new book Liberal Fascism:
Many progressives seem to think we can transform America into a vast college campus where food, shelter, and recreation are all provided for us and the only crime is to be mean to somebody else, particularly a minority.
A good point. Given my experiences on modern campuses, I would say that they give the phrase, "It takes a village" a whole new slant.

Office Pod

As a freelance writer I get planted in the corner of a lot of odd workplaces. Sometimes it's an empty office, sometimes it's a cubicle, sometimes it's a third-hand desk tucked into an old server cupboard without ventilation.

This is my nightmare scenario.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Barmy Becta

From the BBC:
A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been turned down from (Becta, the government's educational technology agency) annual awards because the subject matter could offend Muslims.
I think Becta has just given sufficient grounds for its own abolishment.


Sir Richard Branson unveils SpaceShipTwo,


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

A Case of Gas

Now this is what I call alternative energy.

A Matter of Priorities

Twelve Pakistanis in Spain have been arrested on terrorism charges and the BBC looks at the impact... on Pakistanis.

No mention, however, on why Jihadis keep getting rounded up in a country that rolled over and did as it was told after the Madrid bombings. Maybe appeasement doesn't work?

Take Your Time

The introduction of identity cards in Britain has been put off until 2012.

Keep delaying all you like, lads. How about a nice, round number like "forever".

We Don't Need Another Hero

Johnson Beharry: VC, hero, and a man you've probably never heard of.

Over at The Times, Mark Barrowcliffes looks at heroes, or the lack of them, and how we utterly ignore them now,
So who are our heroes now and what do they say about us? In a poll for Esquire magazine last year, Gordon Ramsay emerged as the most admired man. Ramsay may be a talented chef but he is most celebrated for swearing a lot. Hillary and Armstrong were mouse-like by comparison, but their achievements were so much greater. How would Ramsay have coped on discovering, as Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did, that the ignition switch on the lunar craft had been sheered off, stranding the craft on the Moon? One thing is for certain, shouting at the rockets to “get a f***ing move on” wouldn’t have done much good. Armstrong and Aldrin calmly fixed the problem by short-circuiting the switch with a pen. Have we forgotten how to recognise real bravery and mistaken loutish assertiveness for courage?
I have a great deal of admiration for Gordon Ramsey as a Chef and as a master of the expletive, but a hero? No wonder we can't fill the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square!

Monday, 21 January 2008

The Brain from Planet Arous

I'm a bit busy today with a deadline, so I'll leave the posting to my guest host, The Brain from Planet Arous.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Never Swat a Fly

Just Imagine: the 1930 science fiction musical comedy.

Here is the case for the prosecution

Saturday, 19 January 2008

War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery

Daily Mail headline:
Government renames Islamic terrorism as 'anti-Islamic activity' to woo Muslims
In addition, water is dry, fire is cold, and up is down.

I was going to do this as an update to this morning's previous post on New Labour covering its eyes and hoping the Jihadists will go away, but this Orwellian touch deserves a post of its own.

Curse of the Demon

Your Saturday feature. Don't take gifts from strangers.

Banged Up

It was Chekhov who said,
If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be registered with the police even if it's a pantomine "bang" gun.

Brown's Blinkers

Fourteen terrorist suspects are arrested in Spain. A Belarus editor is sentenced to prison for publishing the Mohammed cartoons. Meanwhile, New Labour states that there is no war with the Jihadists (if there actually are Jihadists and not a just a load of mixed-up kids), but merely a domestic "criminal" matter that can be dealt with by soft words and a bit of censorship.

After seven years of semi-clarity about the threat we face, Britain is going back to sleep.

Friday, 18 January 2008

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

Ironic how an abstract cartoon can so neatly skewer modern art as the dumb show and pretense that it is.

Another nail

From the Telegraph:
Beer drinkers could pay £4 for a pint this year following an "unprecedented" rise in the cost of producing and distributing beer.
It's enough to drive a man to drink.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Mao Mystery

French car maker Citroen has apologised for an advert featuring Mao Tse Tung after complaints that it was an "insult."

Would someone please explain to me why insulting the memory of a vicious tyrant who was the greatest mass murderer in history is anything for any sane person to apologise for.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Got Carrot?

Scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas have developed a GM carrot with the nutritional value of milk and cheese.

The front runner in the arse-backward thinking award has just been found.

Prisoners and Chips

Faced with overcrowded prisons and security issues for electronic tagging, New Labour, having decided that things like building more prisons or meting out proper punishment are too much like hard work, is now considering implanting prisoners with microchips as if they were so many dogs.

"Dog" is the proper metaphor here, because it is only by taking such an attitude that a government would consider doing such a thing to anyone who is other than an animal or slave. And given the way New Labour has approached an organ donor shortage by introducing organ confiscation, it won't be long before the "advantages" of such a system will be offered to the public in a Hobson's choice of "volunteer or we'll force you."

Just remember as you roll up your sleeve: It's for your own good.

Survival Menu

An interesting vignette that goes well with that vegetarian survival manual we looked at the other day.

Flying Car

In the market for a flying car? Willing to settle for a secondhand one? From a company that went spectacularly bust? Then this is your lucky day; the only surviving prototype of the Sky Commuter is on the block on ebay.

Starting bid: $55,600.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Ploughman's Lunch

The ploughman's lunch is my favourite bit of pub grub that turns a long, sunny Sunday afternoon and a couple of pints of good beer into a little bubble of heaven.

This, however, is an abomination in the eyes of God and man.

Factory Reconditioned

Scientists at the University of Minnesota have succeeded in using stem cells to "refurbish" a dead heart; making it fit to start beating again.

Baron Victor Frankenstein was unavailable for comment.

Levant Update

More on the Ezra Levant interrogation as he comments on the insane logic of what traffics in Canada under the Orwellian label of human rights: A murder cannot be compelled to apologise for his actions, but a publisher can.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Live Organ Transplants

Mr. Gordon Brown's "presumed consent" organ confiscation donation plan in operation.

Cartoon Wars: Canada

Ezra Levant, former publisher of the Western Standard, was hauled before the Alberta "Human Rights" Commission for the Thoughtcrime of publishing the Danish Mohammed cartoons and was interrogated by one Shirlene McGovern from the Ministry of Love. Rather than rolling over and saying "Please Ma'am may I have another?" Mr. Levant fought back and made sure a video camera was rolling.

Part 1:

Part 2:

and Part 3:

Mr. Levant hits the nail squarely on the proverbial when he points out that it is the Jihadists who are defaming Islam by trying to shut him up and bringing "hatred" down on moderate Muslims by claiming to speak in their name. Meanwhile, over at NRO, Mark Steyn had this to say about the episode:
Ms McGovern, a blandly unexceptional bureaucrat, is a classic example of the (minority-rights) syndrome. No "vulnerable" Canadian Muslim has been attacked over the cartoons, but the cartoonists had to go into hiding, and a gang of Muslim youths turned up at their children's grade schools, and Muslim rioters around the world threatened death to anyone who published them, and even managed to kill a few folks who had nothing to do with them. Nonetheless, upon receiving a complaint from a Saudi imam trained at an explicitly infidelophobic academy and who's publicly called for the introduction of sharia in Canada, Shirlene McGovern decides that the purely hypothetical backlash to Muslims takes precedence over any actual backlash against anybody else.
It's refreshing that Mr. Levant understands that liberty is the freedom to tell the government to push off-- especially when it acts as the enforcement arm of the country's sworn enemies.


When Worlds Collide

A giant cloud of hydrogen gas is about to collide with our galaxy.
In 40 million years.
Never mind. Carry on.

Vegetarian Dishes

The idea of a vegetarian survival manual is amusing to say the least. Not that I'd discourage that sort of thing. After all, the more vegetarians there are after the Apocalypse, the more meat there'll be for my pot.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Project Moon Base

Robert A. Heinlein's other space epic-- the one he didn't like to talk about.

Friday, 11 January 2008

NEW! Bohn Future

It's that time again; another new section for Tales of Future Past:

Bohn Future


When cartoons give a clearer argument than most politicians.

Tip o' the hat to the Captain's Quarters.

Mars Reprieve

NASA has stated that the asteroid converging on Mars will not strike the red planet on 30 January.

In other news, Mars has postponed the Earth invasion until a more suitable time.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Outer Limits

There is nothing wrong with your thermostat. Do not attempt to adjust the temperature. We are controlling your power consumption. If we wish to make it hotter, we will turn off your air conditioner. If we wish to make it cooler, we will turn off your heater. For the next millennium, sit quietly and we will control your home temperature. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your thermostat. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... SACRAMENTO!

The Last Straw

This is ridiculous. You can't even buy an elephant in a pet shop now!


Another slidewalk system... of the FUTURE.

Popgun Quiz

Handgun and violent crime up in Britain because of despite a pointless, draconian ban on firearms? Do you :
  1. Rescind the ban so that ordinary citizens can defend themselves while you go after the violent criminals who are the real problem in the first place?
  2. Ban replica swords and deactivated guns with such enthusiasm that people start to wonder whether lengths of pipe and bits of wood will be next?
If you answered 2, congratulations! You're now the Home Secretary.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Popular Science

1940s popular science set to 1980s pop music.

Side effects may include acute indigestion.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Context is All

A collection of photographs of gay men? That's truly art and worthy of a major museum exhibit... Unless, that is, the artist is a woman. And the men are Muslims. In Mohammed masks. And the museum is in the Netherlands. In that case, it's one cancelled exhibit and one artist literally on the run for her life.

Welcome to Europe 2008.

School as Preparation for Life in Modern Britain

Lunchtime, kids! Grab a tray and get fingerprinted.

Compact Living

Wired has a slideshow look at ultra-compact modular homes.

It's all very interesting in a Swiss Army knife sort of way, but what strikes me is how the architects tend to plant them in rural settings when one of the reasons I moved to the country was to get out of having to live in a biscuit tin!

Monday, 7 January 2008

And They Acted All Surprised About It

Police in Birmingham issued sobriety tests and found a load of drunk people... in a pub.

Iran Provokes

Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats made a probing action against U. S. Navy ships by buzzing to within firing range while radioing,
I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes.
Waiting to be told by the press that they were just trying to deliver goodwill fruit baskets in 5... 4... 3...

Drake's Drum

May we never hear it in our lifetimes.
Drake he's in his hammock an' a thousand mile away,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,
An' dreamin' arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe.
Yarnder lumes the island, yarnder lie the ships,
Wi' sailor lads a-dancin' heel-an'-toe,
An' the shore-lights flashin', an' the night-tide dashin'
He sees et arl so plainly as he saw et long ago.

Drake he was a Devon man, an' ruled the Devon seas,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?),
Rovin' tho' his death fell, he went wi' heart at ease,
An' dreamin' arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe,
"Take my drum to England, hang et by the shore,
Strike et when your powder's runnin' low;
If the Dons sight Devon, I'll quit the port o' Heaven,
An' drum them up the Channel as we drummed them long ago."

Drake he's in his hammock till the great Armadas come,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?),
Slung atween the round shot, listenin' for the drum,
An' dreamin' arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe.
Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound,
Call him when ye sail to meet the foe;
Where the old trade's plyin' an' the old flag flyin',
They shall find him, ware an' wakin', as they found him long ago