Sunday, 31 May 2009

Beyond the Walls of Sleep

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Friday, 29 May 2009

Telephones... of the FUTURE!

Courtesy of the ever-inventive lads down at the GPO.

Sick Day

Entries are a bit thin today. The wife thought she was having heart problems, so it was off to Casualty with the Missus hooked up to all sorts of freaky machines. Turned out to be just a bad case of heartburn, thank God, but it did send the entire day up the spout.

Still, better safe than sorry when all's said and done.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Swedish Power Pump

Presenting the Orange power pump to keep your electronics going by pushing air through a tiny turbine.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the rest of us are demanding that the government get out of the way so enough conventional and nuclear power plants are built so we can charge our cell phones by plugging them into the mains.

Star Wars: The Rewrite

Mystery Man on Film looks at the many rough draughts of the script that eventually became Star Wars and discusses how different the finished product was from the original idea (Luke Skywalker was an aged general, Darth Vader got barely a look in , etc.). And, this being Lucas, the reams of staggeringly bad dialogue.

I particularly like this because Lucas and I share the trait of ruthlessness towards changing or discarding pretty much everything while writing. It's one of the reasons my wife and I drive each other crazy when we collaborate on a play. She'll come to me with an idea and I'll tear it to shreds while I try to come up with a way to make it work (Instead of the protagonist being a alcoholic, divorced Soviet nuclear physicist, let's make him an elephant and rather than him trying to keep his sanity while trying to reconcile himself with his daughter while coming to grips with his past, maybe he's lost a balloon.). After that there's loads of shouting and we resolve never to work together ever again until the next day.

Writing; always a joy.

Green Lantern

The announced Green Lantern feature is still months away from beginning production, yet one fan has already released the trailer. Though it's mostly CGI mixed with clever edits from other films, it already sets the bar higher for when the real thing comes along because this is what a GL film should look and feel like. Besides, after what they did to Biggles back in the '80s, I haven't got that many boyhood heroes left for Hollywood to screw up.

Let me put it this way, if it turns out to be another Fantastic Four, I'm writing a letter to the Times.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Just One More Thing...

BBC headline:
Colombo to 'rehabilitate' rebels
I don't know, he's a good detective, but this seems a bit of... Oh, Colombo! Damn these homonyms!

Tone Matrix

A distinctly neat little music device that is well up on the cool board.

Tip o' the hat to Last of the Few.


A clock with built-in voice recognition so that it can respond to your spoken commands.

Unfortunately, "Naff off, you wretched little plastic Mussolini of a timepiece!" isn't one of them.

Sleep Learning

The idea of listening to lessons in your sleep was already old when this article came out, but I still find it fascinating.

I thought the voices only spoke to me.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Maltese Falcon

My old boat wasn't quite like this. It was slightly cheaper.. And a cutter.

Mind you, it did manage to go around the world and saw most of the Pacific, so it had its uses.

Cigar Bands Are Go!

Cigar bands and Gerry Anderson puppets; the definition of perfection.

The Thinking Machine

Computers: Circa 1950.

My phone's earpiece is more complicated.

Last Orders, Please.

The world's largest beer mat manufacturer is facing the chop.

How the mighty have fallen.

Still, we can take solace in this photo of the world's first beer can.

James Kirk, Call Your Service

Headline from Slashdot:
Mars Robot May Destroy Life It Was Sent To Find
Yep. It was only a question of time.

Monday, 25 May 2009

North Korea Tests Nuclear Weapon

Meanwhile, the White House leaps into immediate action and draughts an apology.

Does This Apply to Prole Pubs?

Oldham Council is considering a proposal that would force Outer Party members drinkers to form into post office-style queues at the bar at all 22 pubs in the town centre.

Oldham town centre is predicted to be pub-free within one year of this ludicrous idea's adoption.

Procrustes Airways

British Airways announces that it will be removing First Class seating from some of its flights.

Because heaven forbid that someone might regard flying as something other than an exercise in airborne misery.

Lamb Gas

From The Times:
Give up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment.
I love the "combat climate change" drivel. I always thought "global warming" was ridiculous as a phrase, but "combat climate change" is such a weasel term that it conjours up delightful pictures of King Canute trying to order back the tides. Perhaps next winter the snow will need a permit to fall like in Camelot.

As for the burping sheep, not only do I intend to triple my lamb consumption, but I also intend to keep my own herd and feed them on a diet heavy in beans, curry, radishes, and sour cream washed down with enough beer until they sound like the re-enactment of a classic Mel Brooks scene.

Back to the Future

The expenses scandal is shaping up as a watershed for Parliament. Not only is that insult to the office stepping down as Speaker, but as many as 325 members are set to lose their seats by the next election.

What these developments overlook is that even though 325 MPs will get the boot, the rest will stay and the so-called life "peers" will almost all keep their seats. In fact, a couple of disgraced MPs and the Speaker will be elevated as well. This is like ripping out a few rotten boards in a hull and ignoring the dry rot that is still in the rest of the timbers. Part of the problem we have is that since the death of the Establishment, Britain has been governed by a self-serving political class that is worse than corrupt; it regards itself as separate from the people, who it treats as subjects. Tory, Labour, Lib Dem, or whatever; they are all tainted by this and the only way to truly deal with it is to get rid of the lot root and branch and replace them with the likes of the past who, for all their wide faults, where at least halfway decent and even had the odd gentleman in the mix.

Furthermore, absolutely the last thing that we need is Mr Gordon Brown's reform. In fact, we need exactly the opposite. It's the "reforms" of the '70s onwards that have created this mess and it is the New Labour "reform" of the House of Lords that has turned that venerable institution into the stinking farce that it is today. We don't need oversight and quangoes and committees and all that nonsense to put things right. We need to reform the House of Lords by bringing back the Hereditary peers (their justification is far less ridiculous than the alternatives), abolishing the Life "Lords" and removing the current miserable batch from the House, and put the gift of peerages where they belong; in the hands of Her Majesty to dispense with solely as she pleases to replace extinguished titles and reward men famous in blood and deeds who have distinguished themselves above and beyond the call of duty in service of the realm–not to time-serving politicians, aging pop stars, and flunkies to the party in power. As for the House of Commons, here is David Young's description of the venerable institution in happier days:
More than 100 years ago, Parliament was a part-time affair, sitting from February to mid- August. The vast majority of Members had outside interests, there were no women and they were unpaid. That seemingly amateurish arrangement sufficed for running the largest empire the world has known.
And the House didn't sit until after 4 PM. Baroness Thatcher has proven the worth of women in the Commons, though women-only shortlists, like non-whites only or any -only shortlists, should be made illegal and punishable by a stout public flogging. Also, the days of rubber stamping EU diktats, PMs legislating from the divan, and bureaucrats enacting legiaslation should end by making it clear that Parliament and only Parliament makes the law and that Members are in no way exempt from those laws. Otherwise, what we need above all else is to abolish the professional politician and return to a Commons that Gladstone or Disraeli would have recognised; an institution whose members are drawn from wide experience and (often conflicting) interests and who serve at their own expense even if it means getting a proper job.

That and open the windows in the place to give it a good airing until the stench dies down.

Update: The question is, if we throw out all the dross, who do we vote in? God knows we don't want a Cromwell solution that leads to dictatorship. Ideally, the Tories and Lib Dems should field decent alternatives to their disgraced MPs, but Archdruid Rowan Williams has his own concerns and warns people against using this turmoil as an excuse for voting for the British National Party.

Note that he only singles out the BNP. Apparently Respect, Sinn Fein, the various Communist Parties of Britain, Socialist Workers Party, and (incredibly!) New Labour are all just fine.

However, there is a safe alternative.


The trick of doing GPP is to keep the range of emotions simple.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

With Folded Hands

I think I see a lot of American bankers and car makers nodding at this one.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Le Rendevous

Via Last of the Few we have this film from 1978 that features a bumper's eye view of an insane car trip through Paris. It's supposed to be a sort of underground classic, but frankly it looks like every taxi ride I've ever had in Paris.

The Omega Man

What with the credit crunch, swine flu, Barack Hussein Obama, and Gordon Brown, this is pretty much my game plan

Friday, 22 May 2009

Lightly Grilled Sir Bernard

The Soviets tried to assassinate Sir Bernard Lovell, the man behind the Jodrell Bank radio telescope and unsung hero of the Cold War, using the world's largest death ray.

Well, according to the Times article, he is one of the world's most eminent astrologers.


In a staggering example of originality, UFO is getting a big screen remake.

I'd advise keeping expectations really low.

Striking a Blow

West Yorkshire police have thrown out a "diversity" questionnaire after an unusually large number of Outer Party members put down that they'd had a sex change operation. A spokesman said that they "might not have understood the question".

Or they understood it all too well. Hopefully in the next round we'll learn that West Yorkshire police is manned entirely by one-legged Zoroastrian black lesbians... who have had sex changes.


MIT's future of urban mass transit and the holy grail of graffiti artists and other vandals everywhere.

Big Ben Birthday

Big Ben is 150 years old. Huzzah!

Unlike Mr Stephen Bayley, who has a piece in The Spectator commemorating the event, I didn't live near Westminster, I used to live in it–in fact, I was about 400 yard away from the Houses of Parliament, which meant that I had to sleep in fifteen minute bursts. It made for great training for fatherhood.


The toilet that automatically closes its lid.

Great. Now my dogs will get a concussion on the back of their little furry heads.

Peel p50

Now this is what I need: A car I can stick in the back of the Molotov and still have room for the dogs.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Iran tests a Sejjill-2 medium-range surface-to-surface missile.

Nothing to worry about here. Another call for unclenching of fists while negotiating away the missile defence system will take care of it.

Keep It Simple

I see they're trying to write up a code of ethics for robot warriors. That's all very laudable, I'm sure, but I always thought that this summed the solution up quite nicely:

The Cabri

I want this for my second car. Heck, I'll settle for it as my first car.

Windy Irony

A golden eagle has been killed by a wind turbine in Washington State.

Wind power: protecting the environment the way a Cusinart protects a tomato.

Update: Now the goats are for it.


Quoting Mr Gordon Brown,
Westminster cannot operate like some gentlemen's club.
Mr Brown now owes me for a new monitor and keyboard to replace my tea-drenched and toast-strewn originals. Meanwhile, over at the Telegraph, Mr Andrew Roberts voices my sentiment that the problem is not that Westminster is a "gentleman's club", but that it doesn't have any bloody gentlemen in it.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


For those years when Bonfire Night gets completely out of hand.

Shock Horror on the Campaign Trail

The New York Times allegedly killed a story that would have damaged Mr Barack Hussein Obama's chances of being elected president.

And in other news, the Mafia may be involved in organised crime.


The BBC, ever the helpful arm of the Nanny state, passes along a load of tips for keeping cool during the alleged heat waves that are supposed to hit Britain this summer; tips approved by the priests of Blessed Gaia like planting shrubs or whitewashing the house.

Meanwhile, those of us who actually live in the 21st century will be buying air conditioners.

Martin Out

Mr Michael Martin has resigned as Speaker of the House after one of the most dismal and shame-ridden careers in the history of Parliament that began as a tawdry deal and ended in scandal.

Only two things remain to be seen after this, that this is not used as a scapegoat to excuse the swamp of corruption, petty tyranny, and incompetence that the House of Commons has fallen into; and that Mr Martin never gets closer to a life peerage than a copy of Debrett's in the public library.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Komodo Update

The Komodo dragon turns out to be one of the most venomous reptiles on Earth.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about.

Listen to the Young Spies

James Lileks looks at heartwarming adverts encouraging the young to become nasty little prigs


What is WD-40 made of?

WD-40 is a mixture of...BANG! URRGH! THUD!

The Bleedin' Obvious

After spending half a century doing to the Royal Navy what the Graf Spee failed to do, the government has noticed that six ships, no matter how advanced, cannot defend Britain.

Next up: water flows down hill.

The Tuna of Wrath

A schoolgirl, who apparently has never had a proper job, decides to put Sinclair Lewis to shame and heads off to a tuna cannery in Indonesia where she discovers that it's, like, really hard work, man, and it's, you know, hot in there and it smells and everything and they even make you clip your nails. What's with that, yah?

And working in a rice paddy? That's, like, just no fun at all. All that standing in water and bending over? Yuk!

Naturally, this is all justified by some extremely public and easy hand-wringing about the low wages the workers are paid (the workers get £3 a day, which is pretty close to, if not above the country's per capita income), though no context as to what the alternative for them is or what impact this work has on their prosperity one way or the other . That's, surprise, too much like hard work.

As a man who spent most of his youth swinging a pick in the desert sun when he wasn't freezing on deck in the North Sea for sub-minimum wages and has spent enough time in the Third World to know the difference between exploitation and a hand up, all I can say is, Poor diddums and let's hope your fashion studies aren't too arduous.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Plinth & Paintballs

According to The Times, 11,000 people with way too much spare time on their hands have volunteered to play the part of "living statues" on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square that was originally left open to leave room to honour future men famous for serving the Empire in deeds of blood and arms and not to indulge the asinine antics of pseudoartistic poseurs who don't give a scrap for tradition, honour, art, or even good taste.

Still, it's an ill wind that blows no one good, and if an enterprising chap can get his hands on one of these paintball sniper rifles and a selection of rooftop locations, it could be a chance to make a few bob by charging so much a shot and provide the public with some harmless amusement while chastising a load of imminently chastisable fools.

Extra points if you can catch them with straddling shots as they try to flee for the Underground.

On Tiny Detail

The pride of Troy, Michigan was its Blessed Gaia-friendly, 100 percent solar-powered, $900,000 dream house that was all set to show how great "green" living can be. Until, that is, they found out $16,000 in damages later that solar power isn't the best way to keep the pipes from freezing in the middle of winter.

Back to the old recycled material, carbon-free drawing board.

Biden Bunker Bugger

Well, it was a secret location.

Clearly, the man in charge of Vice President Biden's squeaky toy is falling down on the job.

New Dimensions

From the 1939 New York World's Fair. The future doesn't belong to robots as long as there are self-assembling cars around.

Tells you how much things have changed. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the thing playing the bagpipe music was until I realised that it was an inner tube for the spare tyre.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Friday, 15 May 2009


German roboticists have come up with a a robot, christened the Autonomous City Explorer or ACE, that is capable of going up to people and asking them for directions. Ever on the cutting edge of journalism, Ephemeral Isle has an exclusive audio clip of ACE in action.


It even plays chess–if you don't mind a 15X15 board.

If you are suffering from senility or everyone keeps telling you that you are, then the Memo might be just the trick. This concept robot can not only keep grandpa company, but it can also dispense his pills, show him movies, play music, tell him where his glasses are, and follow him about everywhere; looking out for his welfare and being helpful wherever it can.

I'd take my cane to it within two days.

Share and enjoy!


Meet the Team Italia's plan to win the Google Lunar X Prize with a giant robot spider.

This is bound to be a shoe-in, since from the image it's obviously a hundred miles across, so the other robots will be very frightened of it.

Frankly, it gives me the willies, too.