Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dan Dare Part 1

Friday, 29 January 2010

How to report the news

Just read the news. I'll understand.

Caution: Profanity

Kitchen...of the FUTURE!

Yet another concept piece showing the kitchen of 2015. Never mind the touch cooker and the inexplicable shelving arrangement, I want to know what the rationale for the drop-down oven is–aside from building suspense around when the next gravy shower will be.

Jet Jaguar

Britain dusts off the old JET-1 for another go.

It's being produced by a consortium led by Jaguar Land Rover, so the prospect of a jet-powered supercar is at least real enough to daydream about.

Anarchy in the UK

Britain has gone from a nation with few laws, but are broadly obeyed to one with many laws that are routinely broken out of necessity.

Well done, New Labour. You've managed the impossible. By trying to micromanage everything down to and including their bowel movements, you've destroyed the British people's respect for the law.

Update: Now even blowing your nose is a crime.

Solar Balls

Leslie Shapiro over at Dvice waxes lyrical over these solar-powered lamps, saying that they:
Light the way in a rainbow of green goodness.
Yes, high-tech votary lamps to praise Blessed Gaia. Pace the green credentials of the solar panels and the nicad batteries, we use solar lamps at Chez Szondy to keep the paths lit, but have found that a) the batteries fail with mind-numbing regularity and b) they only really work well in the middle of Summer when you need them least.

That's why I've gone over to LED motion detector lights instead. Not as "green", but at least I can use them under the trees so I can get to the wood shed in the winter without tripping over roots.

Honda solar hydrogen station

Honda unveils a solar-powered hydrogen generating station for refuelling your hydrogen car at home. According to Honda, this will produce enough hydrogen "for the average daily commute".

Considering the amount of sunshine Chez Szondy gets, that sounds about right. Mind you, I work at home and my commute means getting from the bedroom to the office by way of the tea kettle. On the other hand, if your commute involves actually getting out of the drive...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

State of Obama

Not so much a State of the Union address as the campaign speech.

I don't agree with their assessment of the Iraq campaign, but at least the Cato Institute, unlike The One recognises that there is a war on and not an "overseas contingency operation" that will go away if Mr Barack Hussein Obama screws his eyes shut and wishes really, really hard.

Update: On the other hand, National Review is very happy about Obama.

Update: Is Mr Obama America's Saruman?

Virtual minefield

A clever little idea from the Metal Storm people: Instead of laying out minefields that tend to stay dangerous for decades afterwards, set up a multibarrelled robot mortar that peppers the area with sensors. When the sensors are tripped, the mortar fires a round (lethal or non-lethal) at it.

I'm currently soliciting bids to have one installed on my lawn.

Finding Barry

The Anchoress looks at the unflattering series of photos of The One put out by the White House and in them finds an answer to the question I posed over a year ago: Who is Mr Barack Hussein Obama?
This man has about 40 "czars" busily working under the radar; most of them are unaccountable to congress, or to the people, or to the press. They answer only to Barack Obama, whose presidency may be a voyage of self-discovery joined with immense but unfocused power.
Sounds as close to the truth as anything I can come up with and is as reassuring as running to the bridge of the Titanic and discovering that Daffy Duck is the Captain.

It Happened Here

If you look up the 1965 release It Happened Here in the Guinness Book of Records you'll discover that it holds the record for the longest film production: Eight years with another year's wait for it to hit the cinemas.

It's a story that deserves to be turned into a movie of its own. Produced, written, and directed by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo, who were 18 and 16-years old when they started work on the film, It Happened Here doesn't seem very impressive in its opening scenes; a load of stock footage carefully selected to give the impression of a successful Nazi invasion and occupation of Britain in 1941. Unimpressive, that is, if you don't know that Brownlow and Mollo didn't use an inch of stock footage, but got their effects by using a 16 mm camera to shoot their huge cast of hundreds that included only two paid actors. The rest were volunteers; many of them science fiction fans who were willing to give up their spare time out of fascination with the film's alternative history plot line.

Ostensibly, It Happened Here is the story Pauline, a district nurse who is evacuated to the "demilitarised" city of London after resistance fighting breaks out near her village. Once in the half-destroyed capital, which has Germans the way some people have mice, Pauline discovers that the only way she can find work is by joining the local Fascist party; a step that brings her face to face with the horrors of the new order while alienating her from her old friends.

All that, however, is just a framework on which Brownlow and Mollo can hang their extended scenes of Britain under Fascist rule. It's a world of hordes of Wehrmacht soldiers sightseeing around London, relentless martial music of Prussian stridency, and endless speeches by blackshirted English fascists (a couple of them the real thing!) as they harangue the masses about Jewish inferiority and the unbreakable bond of Anglo-German friendship. These scenes are a mixed bag and often go on far too long. I came away thinking that the simple image on the DVD cover of German soldiers parading outside the Palace of Westminster had far more impact because of its economy. Despite having spent eight years, Brownlow and Mollo weren't entirely certain what the film was about. Was it a story of Britain conquered by the Nazis or was it an examination of Fascism? In the early part of the film it seems the former, but the latter dominates the last half of the film as we're shown an England where the population grab onto Nazism with such enthusiasm that they make the Vichy French look like the Finns as Englishmen left and right start sieg heiling, rounding up Jews, joining the Wehrmacht, and committing genocide with the worst of them. What the British government in exile or the Royal family were up to while these shenanigans were going on is left unexplained. At some points, it reads like those insane "histories" of the war written in the '80s that, with a straight face, condemned the British for the crimes of collaboration that they didn't commit because they weren't conquered.

Still, this is an important film. Not only are many of the images unforgettable, but it stands out as the first of the alternative history dramas that would soon lead to more polished works like An Englishman's Castle, Fatherland and a very cool Doctor Who episode that featured not only British Fascists in eye patches, but subterranean werewolves.

What more could you ask for?

We choose not to go to the Moon

Well, we already knew that he wasn't Kennedy.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I see a pattern

Now The One is bringing his teleprompter to meetings.

Perhaps it's a security blanket thing.

Obama: "The press is against me"

At least they aren't throwing shoes at him. The One has forgotten that, however much they fawned on him, the press are not his servants; they're merely his allies who will turn on him the second they smell blood in the water.

Give Mr Tony Blair a call, Mr Obama. He'll explain it to you.

Update: Of course, you have to give Mr Barack Hussein Obama some leeway. After all, the nation is ungovernable.

Late review

H G Wells reviews Metropolis and demonstrates that one can be a literary giant and still misunderstand how another medium works (though, to be fair, he does seem to have seen one of those horribly edited versions that went into general release).

Today's phrase, Herbert, is "visual metaphor". Please provide the definition and use it in a complete sentence.

Project 2000

Apple's 1988 look at the computers of the year 2000.

Nice, but give me a keyboard over those *&$%ing voice command systems any day.

NYT: "Who is Barack Obama?"

Now they ask?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Skeet shooting

Not bad, but I still prefer this version:


When the warmenist movement comes apart, it explodes like a cheap blender.

Chimpanzee cinema

From the BBC:
The world's first film shot entirely by chimpanzees is to be broadcast by the BBC as part of a natural history documentary.
First? From what I've seen, I thought Hollywood was run by them for years.

Or maybe that's baboons.

Going nowhere, thank God

Think The One is just having trouble on the domestic front? It turns out that he can't get his CND dreams through Congress either.

We can all start breathing again.

Turning the corner

The One pulls out his teleprompter to give a speech to a classroom of sixth graders.

Mr Barack Hussein Obama has now officially become a joke.

In other news, the MSM start noticing things about Mr Obama that they didn't think worth telling us about before he was elected.

Monday, 25 January 2010

US legalises haggis

The United States has at last rejoined the rest of the civilised world by lifting its ban on importing haggis.

An' sae oan thes Burns nicht, lit us aw clutch a volume ay th' poet's wark an' raise a glass ay single malt in silent cheers.

Mind you, the impact of all this will be considerable. The ban lifting will inevitably result in increased haggis exports, which will lead to higher prices and this will cause more haggis poaching. Not only will this endanger Scotland's stocks of wild haggis's, but also a bagpipe shortage because poachers rarely save the haggis skins from which bagpipes are made.

None of this helped by the fact that haggis's have tartan fur, which makes them dead easy to pick out on the moors where you can hear their plaintive droning and squealling.

Glaciergate graft

The Telegraph looks at Glaciergate and shows that it is far, far worse than someone taking an off-hand remark about Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035 and treating it as gospel.
What has now come to light, however, is that the scientist from whom this claim originated, Dr Syed Hasnain, has for the past two years been working as a senior employee of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Delhi-based company of which Dr Pachauri is director-general. Furthermore, the claim – now disowned by Dr Pachauri as chairman of the IPCC – has helped TERI to win a substantial share of a $500,000 grant from one of America's leading charities, along with a share in a three million euro research study funded by the EU.

Update: And it turns out that the "global warming causes disasters" story has had its chips as well.

Attack from the Left

The One is really in trouble when he invites this sort of blistering (and long winded!) attack from one of his ideological kin. It's a bit like being on the deck of La Formidable at the Battle of Trafalgar and suddenly seeing the Spanish guns swinging your way.

Update: "Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me."

So what's your point?

Paul Mendelle, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, is opposed to the Conservative proposal to bow to both sanity and morality and allow homeowners to defend themselves against intruders. According to Mr Mendelle, this would lead to burglars being killed.

And the problem with this is...?

The One's report card

Conrad Black gives a fairly thorough account of Mr Barack Hussein Obama's first year and his chances of politically surviving his second.

And it doesn't look good. At all.

Impossible temptation

BBC headline:
Engineers 'can learn from slime'

Robot homicide anniversary

On this day in 1979, the first incident occurred where a robot killed a human being.

In order to prevent this sort of thing, Isaac Asimov posed his First Law of Robotics:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Or as Terry Pratchett more sensibly completed it:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm–unless ordered to do so by duly constituted authority.
As Lord Vetinari put it,
A hammer can hardly refuse to hit the nail on the head, nor a saw to make moral judgments about the nature of the timber.
Far more sensible.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Oh, well done

The One thinks he can shore up his faltering presidency by attacking bankers with all the grace of Norman Bates dealing with a stroppy guest and the world's stock markets instantly go into a tail spin.

Sometimes Barack Hussein Obama makes Gordon Brown look almost competent.

Copehagen on the rocks

What a splendid week. Not only has the United States been saved from Socialism (hopefully) and The One's credit so low that Der Spiegel bids Farewell to Obama, but now Climategate and that inconvenient truth about the non-melting of the Himalayan glaciers has turned that tyrant's charter called the Copenhagen Accord into the nonest of non-starters.

Lord Summerisle is reported to be inconsolable.

CO2 corset

Lingerie designers apparently haven't heard about Climategate yet–which is the only explanation I can come up with for this corset that cinches tighter as it detects higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air.

Since CO2 is a trace gas, let's hope that this thing has an overload switch or some poor woman is going to open a bottle of Perrier water and suffocate.


I love wind turbines; so elegant, so monumentally disappointing. Take the Eolic folding turbine. It looks very nice and the little bundle it folds into just begs to be tucked under the arm. The only problem is this little equation
P = 0.5 x rho x A x V3
  • P = power in watts
  • rho = air density
  • A = rotor swept area, exposed to the wind
  • V = wind speed in meters/sec
That cube function means that for a turbine as small as this one (or any other size!) in any wind less than a Force 5 you'd get more power out of it if you just spun the thing by hand and anything more and the little bugger would tear itself to bits.

Pity. Nice colour scheme, though.

Power curve for a
one-meter diameter blade.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Seriously Strong

Cannot be explained; only experienced.

De Nile is not just in Egypt

Taking a little break from reality, The One says that the Republican victory in Massachusetts was due to voter anger–at George Bush.

I see a time decades hence when Mr Obama is blaming his prostate troubles on his predecessor.

In other news, Mark Steyn is surprised.


The Mandometer: A device that scolds you if you eat too fast.

Sorry, not for me; the habit is too ingrained. I went to a boarding school and if you didn't eat fast, you didn't eat at all.

Freudian slip

A revealing headline from the BBC:
What does Massachusetts defeat mean for Obama?
Defeat? Depends on your point of view, Auntie.

End of the recession?

Will the election of Senator Brown end the United States recession by throwing the Federal government into gridlock?

Sounds logical to me. In fact, it could be a solution to a great many problems. Yesterday, I saw a Democrat senator on the television vehemently saying that you can't shut down the government (by which he meant the legislature) for even a day. Ignoring all those recesses during which the republic manages to survive, there is a certain logic in the Senator's opinion. If that happened, people might notice that they can get along without the government incessantly passing laws, spending money like it was water, and micromanaging people's lives.

Then where would we be–aside from freer, wealthier and happier?

The Thing

I've had one of these "things" on my mantle piece for years (though with Phillips heads for the larger drivers and it's probably the most worn tool in the house outside of the ones in my pocket.

Never underestimate the power of a gadget.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Buyer's remorse

Senator Scott Brown


Scott Brown (R) has won "Ted" Kennedy's old United States Senate seat in a by-election by a margin too large for the Democrats to stand a chance of contesting.

And with that, the Age of Obama dies after 364 days. I've never seen an administration come apart faster that didn't involve someone with a rifle asking the DJ at the local radio station if he'd mind reading this brief announcement. With a Republican win in the staggeringly left-wing Massachusetts and Mr Barack Hussein Obama's filibuster-proof Senate majority gone, The One is now faced with either abandoning his wildly unpopular Socialist agenda or ramming it through the Senate in the dead of night with the help of a load of Democrat Congressmen who can hear the ebony wings of political death flapping in the middle distance.

Anything can happen in politics, but as it now stands, we've just seen Mr Obama make real history; not as America's first black president, but as the first president to become a lame duck before his first year in office has run out.

Normally, I wouldn't take such an interest in local politics, but the spiking of Mr Obama's guns means that the civilised world has had a reprieve because the sole superpower upon which we depend for our existence has been pulled back from the brink that Britain teeters on and Europe long ago slipped over. Far better that the American public sees this mountebank for what he is and sends him running.

And so the Right enjoys a moment to paraphrase a certain president of recent memory: We won.

Update: If he’s smart, he’ll take it. To quote the Spartans, "If".

And now, a wee bit of music for the celebrations.

Update: Is this Mr Obama's Clinton or Carter moment?

Marvelling at Shakespeare

Well, Marvel has always been notorious for their pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue, so why not Shakespeare with quasi-Marvel costumes?

Bionic eyelid

While this may save thousands of peoples' eyesight, its crime-fighting potential is extremely limited.

France: US troops "occupying" Haiti

At least it's better than a few years ago when the Left was screaming that the US was "occupying" New Orleans.

Update: Meanwhile, a University of Washington psychologist is wringing his hands over the mental impact of the earthquake and calls for "early intervention with the psychological trauma".

This reminds me of earlier disasters in Africa where psychologists with a straight face were saying that three-quarters of the population were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders or shooting incidents in the United States where "counselors" were virtually parachuted in before the bleeding was staunched. Clearly, it's never too early to divert scarce resources from rescue efforts when you can waste them on soft-science "intervention" that can turn a passing tragedy into a life-long torment.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

*Cough* Persian *Cough*

From the BBC:
The Islamic Solidarity Games, due to be held in Iran in April, are called off because of a dispute with Arab countries over what to call the Gulf.
You can't make this sort of thing up.

Coakley is the female John Kerry—without the charm.

Ah, Il est retourné!

Butter ban

They can have my butter when they
pry it from my cold, greasy fingers.

Cardiac surgeon and staunch defender of individual liberty Shyam Kolvekar of London's Heart Hospital calls for an outright ban on butter.

That's it. Time to raise the barricades.

Daily Shelter

A table that converts into a little house. It certainly seems a distinct improvement over my current method of stacking pillows around my desk when things get too much for me.

Hugo Drax, call your service

Now that the programme is coming to an end, NASA is selling off its fleet of space shuttles at a knock-down price of $28.8 million dollars and throwing in the main engines for free.

Install a death ray in the cargo bay, add a couple of solid rocket boosters, and you'll be making demands for world domination for under $100 million tops.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Bargain basement Machiavellis

The BBC's Paul Reynolds looks at the fading career of Mrs Hillary "Rodham" Clinton as US Secretary of State and like a blind man in a brothel completely fails to find the most interesting part of the story.

A year on, people forget that Mrs Clinton and Mr Barack Hussein Obama turned the Democrat Party nomination into another edition of Thunderdome. By the time the convention rolled around, neither of them had secured enough standard delegates to secure the nomination because the Left couldn't figure out how to have another joint coronation unless Hillary divorced Bill for Barry. With The One relying on superdelegates and Mrs Clinton holding victories in two primaries that she won uncontested, Mrs Clinton, who had literally nothing to lose, could have turned the convention into a St Valentine's Day Massacre bloodbath. That would have left Mr Obama tainted as just another dirty-fighting politician and the party hopelessly divided and in danger of enjoying nothing more than a slim election victory that could scarcely be called a "mandate for change"–unless the entire electorate could be kept chloroformed for four years. That proving to be impractical, another idea was needed. Unfortunately, it was the candidates who had it.

So how did Mr Obama end up as President and Mrs Clinton as Secretary of State? That's where politics turns into farce because this is what happens when two not very intelligent people try to be clever. Mr Obama thought he could buy off his hated rival (Or Mrs Clinton thought she could blackmail her rival; it works either way). Since he couldn't guarantee Mrs Clinton a Supreme Court judgeship, he made her the offer (or she him) of running the State Department that he (or she) no doubt framed as some sort of latter day triumvirate with Mrs Clinton getting the Eastern Empire while Gaius Julius Soetoro Caesar got the West. Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton figured that as Secretary she could maintain her power base for a possible shot at the 2012 election if (or when) Mr Obama imploded like a certain peanut farmer.

The only problem was, both of them ended up screwing themselves instead of each other. Far from becoming the next Henry Kissinger with an American birth certificate, Mrs Clinton merely demonstrated how she knew as much about foreign policy as a nun does about throwing cocaine-fuelled orgies. Add the fact that her boss is equally as inept as he is narcissistic, and it's no wonder that the former First Lady is caught in another dysfunctional partnership. But then, Mr Obama isn't sleeping too well either as he discovers that his cunning plan has resulted in his handing his worst enemy a large hunting knife and asking her to stand close behind him.

Granted, there's a lot of entertainment value in this, but how hard you laugh depends on where you're sitting. This would be about as funny as watching a bunch clowns trying to put out a fire, but only if your seats are in Tehran or Beijing. Our problem in the civilised world is that we're smack in the front row ringside and the fire isn't fan-blown streamers; it's real. And the bucket of water they're getting ready to throw at us isn't filled with confetti; it's petrol.

You don't even want to know about what's in the seltzer bottle that Nancy Pelosi is carrying.

The Infidel

Satarist David Baddiel makes a comedy mercilessly mocking Jihadists.

That sound is his enormous brass balls clanking together.

The BBC: No white men need apply

Still "hideously white".

In a Telegraph interview with Michael Parkinson, we find this interesting little statement by a "senior BBC source" regarding Jonathan Ross's replacement:
We’re desperate for anyone that isn’t white and male. It’s difficult in entertainment because the options are so limited. Diversity is a big issue and they’ve over-relied on men for a long time.
When I read this sort of jaw-dropping bigotry, I think that the only way to handle the BBC is not with reform, but by frog marching everyone out of the building and starting from scratch.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Uranus and Neptune may have oceans of liquid diamond with diamond icebergs floating in them.

The commercial possibilities are staggering, but it will mean building the world's largest claw machine.

Log cabin office

I've been thinking about building a tiny office out in the woods at Chez Szondy and the idea of a log cabin designed to look like a pile of timber has definite appeal.

Add a cargo net, let the ferns grow up around it, and spray it with green paint to make it look moss-covered, and I'll not only have an office, but a bolt hole in case I have a George Bluth episode.

Blue pencil time

Grammar check:

From The Times:
A priest has failed to in her bid to become Britain’s first woman bishop.
A priest priestess has failed to in her bid to become Britain’s first woman bishop.
Where are the great copy editors of yesterday? One with Nineveh and Tyre, I'm afraid.