Monday, 31 March 2008

Coffee Prices Rise

Where do you get charged £361,514.97 for four cups of coffee?

If you guessed Terminal 5 at Heathrow, you win!

Earth Hour Update

Well, I can confirm that Earth Hour was a roaring success. Within minutes of the Space Needle in Seattle (where all the power is hydroelectric!) going dark as a sacrifice to Blessed Gaia in an effort to fight global warming, Chez Szondy was hit by two degrees of frost and three inches of snow.

Any more successes like this and we'll be wrestling polar bears in August.

Update: Tim Blair calls Shennanigans.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Win for Oxford


Oxford has won the 154th boat race against Cambridge.

Here is our exclusive "boatcam" footage of the event.

The 10 Most Prophetic Sci-Fi Movies Ever

Popular Mechanics looks at the most prophetic science fiction movies.



How Quatermass and the Pit missed out I'll never...

Maybe I've said too much.

Future War Tank (1939)

Not bad, but I've seen better.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Dracula


Children of the night: Shut up!

Breakfast Three Times a Day

In defence of the Great British Breakfast.

Earth Hour

It' s Earth Hour today at 8:00 PM Zulu Time, when we are all exhorted to turn off our lights for an hour to worship Blessed Gaia Save the Planettm.

Naturally, Chez Szondy will be participating. How? Let me put this way: If you're popping over for a visit, I recommend wearing one of these.


Update: Ha!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Anti-Terrorist Bed

For that special raving, paranoid nut-case in your life.

Filter to protect precious bodily fluids extra.

Justice is Blinkered

The full might of English law will be brought to bear against those who would make war against the Realm, Her Majesty or her subjects.

Unless the prisons are a bit crowded, in which case you get out early.

.577 T-Rex


Ow.

Pre-Edison Sound

A sound recording made two decades before Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.

The only snag is that the earlier machine's recordings couldn't be played back until now, so it was a tad on the pointless side.

Vintage Science

Well worth a shufti.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Future Bus

Something tells me this wasn't thought through very well.

Vanguard: World's Oldest Spacecraft

Vanguard marks a half-century in orbit.

Still the cutest little space-grapefruit.

PHaSr

I don't know if it works or not, but it definitely looks like something Avon would tote around.

Bjørn Lomborg, Call Your Service

Introducing the "non-skeptic heretic club", whose message is, "Okay, we'll give you global warming, but don't you think it's better to spend a small amount of money on damage mitigation rather than sacrificing the entire civilised world on the altar of Blessed Gaia in a pointless effort at pulling a global King Canute?"

Lord Summerisle was unavailable for comment.

"Bugger Off" Drone Buggers Off

A story of bad engineering and even worse procurement policies.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

XCOR Aerospace

A new contender in the spaceplane race promises to fly within two years.

Cool.

Um...

Taiwan asked the United States for helicopter batteries and got nuclear warhead triggers instead.

In what is in the running for understatement of the century, the no. 2 at the American Defense Department called this development, "disconcerting".

Gustav Graves, Call Your Service

Nazi orbital death-ray.

Bet that got your attention

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Terminal Condition


CCTV cameras on every street corner and (probably) half the loos in Britain not oppressive enough for you? Then nip over to Terminal 5 at Heathrow, where you can experience having your fingerprints compulsorily taken in the name of "security". For added enjoyment, ask the courteous staff how any of this pointless invasion of privacy is going to keep a Jihadist from climbing the fence and watch how fast you're subjected to a cavity search.

Just goes to show what happens when you approach a problem by having the cart jammed hard in front of the horse, strip off the wheels, and then shoot the horse.

Jeremy Clarkson, Call Your Service


Lord Summerisle at the eco-town groundbreaking ceremony

In an effort to combat global warming and (all together now!) Save the Planettm, the British government is planning 15 "eco-towns" with a speed limit of 15 mph on the major roads.

And it gets better:
Under the plans, the central areas of the new towns would be pedestrianised, with the 15mph limit introduced on "key roads" into the centre. All homes would be built within 400 yards of public transport stop and 800 yards from shops.
The government thinks that these sort of draconian measures will make people "abandon their cars", though it is more likely that they'll abandon the foul little eco-towns to self-righteous Gaia worshipers and people on the dole who are too poor or shiftless to move anywhere else.

Still, it is an impressive achievement: from new town to slum in one go.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Life in 2008

Life forty years on.

If you live in 1968, that is.

Grim Reporting

With grim crocodile tears, grim the MSM grimly reported that the grim United states grimly passed the grim milestone of grimness in the grim war in grim Iraq as grim American grim casualties of grimiosity grimly reached the grim number of 4000.

When grimly asked why the grim MSM grimly gives grim front (grim) page grim-prominence to such an out-of-grim-context number while grimily ignoring non-grim grim-type other grim news about grim-positive grim developments since the grim surge grimly started working with grimness or, indeed, why the grim MSM never reports on grim grim milestones of any other grim conflicts or grim armed grim forces (especially those of the grim enemy), the grim MSM just looked grim.

If the MSM wasn't working so hard to make political capital out of Coalition deaths while giving succor to the enemy, this would almost be funny.

Almost.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Friday, 21 March 2008

A Modest Proposal


Lamperd of Canada has a modest idea for improving airline safety in these troubled time: Force all passengers to wear bracelets that allow the stewardesses to taser them by remote control.

I suspect that the owners of Lamperd have a great deal of stock in railway companies.

Breaking News


Next up: an "I told you so" interview with Sarah Connor.

Doctor Who Egg Cup & Spoon

I know they were smoking crack when they thought this up. The only question is, how much?

Famous Five Follies

Disney has demonstrated that their bolderisation of Winnie the Pooh was not a one-off and is bringing back Enid Blyton's Famous Five-- or, at least, an "updated" animated version.

Unsurprisingly, one of the girls is now a Californian "shopaholic", the other is, in accordance with the 1975 Childhood Integration Act that requires that any gathering of more than two juveniles must include a member of an officially recognised ethnic minority, Anglo-Indian, one of the boys is a computer nerd and no doubt we will subsequently learn that the blond boy is homosexual.

What character atrocity is planned for the dog remains undetermined.

According to the BBC,
Producers say the animated tales remain faithful to the themes of storytelling, mystery and adventure central to the original books but add a contemporary twist.
That's "contemporary twist" as in looking like every other PC cartoon on television.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Meat Out

I was not aware that today is "Meat-Out" day-- when, according to the organisers, people can,
Kick the meat habit... and explore a wholesome, nonviolent diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
I love the "nonviolent" bit-- as opposed to those other diets that involve hand-to-hand combat.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have an ox to roast.

Brian Cohen, Call Your Service

Telegraph headline:
Easter warning: crucifixion is bad for you
Good to see the news media on top of things.

Car Shooting


Top Gear-Car Shooting - Click here for another funny movie.
Now that is what I call sport.

Chicken Poo Defence

Mr. Joe Weston-Webb of Soar Bottom, Nottinghamshire has found the perfect answer to his rural vandalism problem: a 30 ft Roman catapult loaded with Grade-A chicken poo. That is not, of course, taking into account the cannon that fires railway sleepers or the exploding coffin.

I am particularly impressed with Mr. Weston-Webb's response to officialdom's frowning on his defending what is his. It is both reasonable and suitably insolent.
Nottinghamshire Police said yesterday that they would send an officer to offer advice on “conventional security techniques” and on the use of “reasonable force”. Mr Weston-Webb promises to be reasonable. “We are putting a rubber block on the end of the railway sleeper,” he said. “It should just knock an intruder down.”
And you can't say fairer than that.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Sir Arthur C. Clarke: 1917 - 2008

Sir Arthur C. Clarke has passed on.

Mile-High Update


As a follow up to the other day's post on skyscraper atrocities in London, a visitor has requested a posting of the Architect Sketch.

Yes, Cinders, you shall go to the ball.

White Season

Ron Liddle over at The Spectator sums up BBC's "White Season":
When those programmes were commissioned and the BBC executives sat around discussing the content, they undoubtedly caught the whiff of the zeitgeist — that, come on chaps, we really ought to do something about those dreadful people in the north who somehow feel estranged and alienated. But they were singularly incapable of commissioning anything which said, actually, they might have a legitimate grievance.

That would have been a step too far.
Instead they commissioned a bunch of programmes that said: white working-class people, we feel your pain, but unfortunately, you’re wrong. In other words, they demonstrated precisely the same mindset which infects every single news bulletin, documentary and drama we have witnessed for the last 20 years on the BBC. Can you imagine them commissioning a film about a Muslim girl who converts to Christianity, converts her mum — and by the denouement is proven right to have done so? It will never happen.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

It's Saint Patrick's Day at Chez Szondy, so while I'm tucking into slow-cooked corned beef and cabbage and a few pints of Guinness, here is the late, great Dave Allen to take up the slack.

Enjoy.



And for you married-types; yes, I did have to put the slow cooker out in the garage.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Meet the "Pitbull"

Meet the British Army's replacement for the venerable Land Rover.

Just when you start to despair, the MOD shows flickers of competence after all.

The Fairey Rotodyne


Proto-Thunderbirds engineering at its best

Mile-High Madness

Popular Architecture proposes that the answer to Britain's housing problems is a block of flats a mile high. According to the authors,
The tower allows a massive intensification of the city without the need for dramatic alteration of London's existing fabric.
That's no "dramatic alteration" as in, "Driving a stake through the man's heart was not a dramatic alteration of his existing fabric."

Friday, 14 March 2008

Happy Pi Day

Happy
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Ken Adams, Call your Service

A proper lair.

The Al Qaeda figure who prepared Tora Bora and helped Bin Laden flee Coalition forces has been transfered to Guantanamo Bay.

Good thing, too. I've always said that his under-use of chrome and lack of rocket-sled escape pods in Bin Laden's number one lair let down Bond Villains everywhere.

Dogged Dutch

The Dutch have legalised gay sex and banned dogs running loose in public parks.

But what if the dog is... No, I'm not going there.

End of the Shires

According to the Shire Horse Society, the breed could be extinct in Britain in ten years.

This is a damn shame, if it turns out true. My uncle used shires on his farm and they were just as useful as and had a good deal more charm than any tractor.

In fact, one of my fondest boyhood memories was riding my uncle's shires bareback along the beach in Yorkshire, which generally ended up with getting chucked into the surf when they decided to gallop.

Imagine getting thrown from a hairy Challenger tank going at speed and you get the idea.

I-Spy Glasses

The Japanese have invented a pair of glasses that helps you find things.

Assuming that you don't lose your glasses, that is.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Green Cab

Seattle's mayor Greg Nickels has decreed announced that all of the city's taxi cabs must be high-mileage hybrids by 2013. This is despite the fact that it will cost a fortune, leave the city with taxis too small for extra passengers or luggage and will mean the inevitable rate hike.

The reason for this is to (all together now) combat global warming. According to Mr. Nickels,
In the era of global warming, it doesn't matter if our cabs are orange or yellow or gray. We think they should all be green.
Whether or not you operate under the misapprehension that CO2 is a pollutant, buy into the whole global warming thing, or think that preventing a few hundred tons of carbon being cycled through the air will make a tinker's dam worth of difference to the climate, it might possibly be time to take Mr. Nickels aside and explain to him as one would to a little child that as a city mayor his job is to pick up the rubbish, fix the roads and have the drunks swept off the pavement in a timely manner.

It does not include Saving the Planettm.

Submachine Torch

At last someone has realised that the Agent Zero M Radio Rifle is more than just a dream.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

White Wash Girl

I haven't had a chance to see White Girl, part of the BBC's "White Season", except in brief previews on the Web, but if the reviews in The Telegraph and Beaman's World are anything to go by, it is a drama that shows that in the eyes of the Beeb the white working class of Britain are a load of drunken, foul-mouthed, wife-beating, child-beating racists whose only salvation lies in embracing religion.

Provided, that is, the religion is Islam.

This is no reflection on Muslims qua Muslims, but from what I've been able to glean, the BBC's storyline of knuckle-dragging chavs being redeemed by blemish-less mosque-goers is as deserving of a double take as a 1943 Rank film showing how English dock workers would be so much more pleasant if they were more like those nice Germans.

Oath for the Gander

I'm not surprised that New Labour's plans to have schoolchildren swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen has the trajectory of a lead balloon.

Quite frankly, I have no intention of getting behind it until every Member of Parliament is required, without substitution, to place his hand on the King James Bible and swear (not "solemnly affirm") fealty to Her Majesty before being allowed to take his seat.

And yes, I am a hide-bound feudalist who regards the Civil War as a bad idea.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Death Star

Astronomers at the University of Sydney have discovered that,
A spectacular, rotating binary star system is a ticking time bomb, ready to throw out a searing beam of high-energy gamma rays – and Earth may be right in the line of fire.
Somehow it makes rototilling the garden a bit pointless.

Monday, 10 March 2008

One-Way to Mars


Mr. Jim McLane, a former NASA engineer, claims that the most cost-effective way of carrying out a manned Mars mission is to send one man on a one-way trip.

That's "one way" as in "not planning on bringing him back," not "no guarantee of bringing him back." According to Mr. Lane,
When we eliminate the need to launch off Mars, we remove the mission’s most daunting obstacle.
Some aeroplane engineers had the same idea about landing gear, but that never proved very popular except with certain circles in the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Mr. McLane says that this approach is in keeping with the spirit of Charles Lindbergh or Captain Scott, who both took tremendous risks, but he overlooks the fact that Lindbergh was attempting to reach Paris, which had a good return liner service and was inhabited, albeit by Frenchmen, and Captain Scott and his men had no intention of taking up permanent residence at the South Pole. Even immigrants to the New World who had no plans to return home went with the tacit understanding that two-way trade was the point of the entire enterprise, not a dumping into a prison without hope of reprieve.

Counter proposals that just shooting the volunteer in the head is even more cost effective were not received gracefully.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Wanted: Editor

Plastic bags: Environmental menace or typo victim?

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Rocketship XM


Not a Destination Moon rip-off. Not at all. Don't even think it.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Priorities

From a story in The Herald on curbing cocaine in Columbia:
Ana Maria Caballero, adviser to the vice-president of Columbia, attended the conference to encourage those who take the drug to consider the impact on global warming.

"We have lost two million hectares of tropical rain forest as a result of the slash-and-burn techniques used by the drug growers," she said.
Something tells me that Miss Caballero has been indulging in another drug of her choice.

Charles Darwin, Call You Service

From the AP:
Padded lampposts are being trialled in a London street to protect inattentive pedestrians.
I would have thought that this is one of those problems that is self-correcting.