Friday, 30 April 2010

The Day of the Triffids (2009): Review

The Day of the Triffids (1951) is probably John Wyndham's best, certainly best known, novel. I never saw a school library that didn't have at least one dog-eared copy. It's a masterpiece of that distinctly English subgenre, the "quiet catastrophe" where a small change in the world that takes place in chapter one soon has the entire world unravelling like a badly knitted jumper. In Triffids, this change is a spectacular display of mysterious fireworks that come out of nowhere one night and leaves the entire world entranced–and incurably blind the next morning.

We follow events through the eyes, pardon the pun, of Bill Masen, a botanist whose sight was saved, ironically, by being in a London hospital with his eyes bandaged after a near blinding by a genetically-engineered plant called a "triffid". Created behind the Iron Curtain, the triffids' seeds have been blown on the wind throughout the world where they are cultivated for their valuable oil, which is on a par with the best from any other plant or animal source. The downside is that triffids are carnivores that can move about and have a whip-like stinger that they use to kill. The upside is that they are very slow, so there no danger to anyone who can see them coming.

You can guess where this is going.

The novel is a a taut story with a restrained writing style that only heightens the tension as a sightless world goes rapidly from a stunned awaking in blackness to the utter collapse of civilisation. As if this isn't enough, Wyndham ups the stakes by adding menace upon menace right up to the final chapters by which time the triffids have gone from annoying yet valuable weeds to the seeming masters of the planet. Against this background, Masen and society girl Josella Playton struggle to survive and build some sort of a life for themselves in an increasingly hostile world.

The Day of the Triffids has been adapted for the screen three times: a 1962 feature film, a BBC television series in 1981, and now a BBC Christmas remake of the series in 2009. The BBC has had a rash of sci-fi remakes lately. If that sounds pathological that's because it is. Most of the recent crop have ranged from disappointing (Doctor Who) to laughable (Survivors). The 2009 Triffids falls somewhere in between these poles.

With a running time of only 180 minutes and the current tendency to ignore plot and dialogue in favour of self-indulgent director tricks and long sequences of people running about for no good reason, the latest Triffids fairly gallops through a heavily edited and truncated version of the story. Quiet catastrophe has given way to slam-bang action.

Triffids has been updated to the 21st century, so all of the Cold War references are gone and the twist at the end of the novel has vanished with them. Masen (Dougray Scott) is still a botanist, though now lumbered with a pointless Oedipus complex, and Josella Playton (Joely Richardson) is now a BBC television reporter. Incredibly, the BBC seems to be the only functioning entity after the holocaust. How's that for wishful thinking? Instead of a slow, building dread as people start to realise that everyone around them is blind, everyone now goes blind in literally a flash and the immediate reaction is to rush about screaming as the director puzzles about whether he's making Torchwood, 28 days later, or a John Woo film. If you're looking for Wyndham's characters trying to sort out the morality of trying to survive while a blind humanity dies around them or how to personally cope with man's supremacy on Earth being challenged, you'll find it traded in for machine pistols and tentacles.

As for the triffids, they've morphed from the slow, inexorable and underestimated menace of the 1981 series into a leafy CGI version of the eponymous monsters from Aliens. They are technologically superior to previous versions, yet unimaginative, completely unbelievable (triffids can now climb trees?), and make no impression on the memory. Maybe that's why screenwriters Patrick Harbinson and Richard Mewis felt compelled to egg the pudding with the introduction of Eddie Izzard as an ironically evil villain named Torrence who develops a vendetta against our heroes for no other reason than that it's in the script.

The cast is actually very good, though badly misused, and they even give decent performances on the rare moments that they're fed a decent line. Scott endows Masen with suitably heroic air as he takes the ludicrous plot dead serious and Richardson descends into flat-out scenery chewing only a couple of times. Unfortunately, Vanessa Redgrave as a nun who turns out to be a homicidal religious fanatic right out the BBC Acceptable PC Villain Handbook is wasted. However, Izzard shines as he makes a meal out his character that really deserves as written to just lie there and rot.

By the time we get to the second half of the two-part production, the novel has been chucked into the compost heap (along with all the blind people who are now supposedly triffid chow) as we intrigue and gun-battle our way over the gaping plot holes to an ending that is pure deus ex machina and teaches the valuable lesson that when science fails you should, like any good multiculti, rely on suppressed memories of advice given thirty years ago by suitably ethnic Congolese witch doctors that works for no reason. At least we were spared a climactic confrontation with the "Queen Triffid", so we can thank heaven for small mercies.

If you want a top-notch adaptation of Wyndham's novel, get yourself a DVD of the 1981 series. If you enjoy pounding a ingrown toenail repeatedly with a rubber hammer, come back tomorrow for the 2009 version.

At least you'll save the price of the hammer.


How could I fail to include the definitive Alexi Sayles adaptation? Feel the horror.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Look out! They've got crochet hooks!

Mr Barack Hussein Obama visits Quincy, Ohio, the Secret Service panics about the tea party rally outside, orders the police to deploy the riot squad, and thus we have one of the most tin-eared episodes of this year's American politics.

Yes, nothing shows the supreme confidence of a president like images of little old ladies in front of men in riot gear.

Long-term recycling

Most archaeological artefacts are just cleaned up, preserved, and tucked away in a warehouse somewhere. If they have any other use, it's generally as a museum exhibit–though I did once commandeer a wrecking bar from an industrial site to help with the excavations.

Now news comes of 2,000-year old Roman lead ingots being used as shielding for a particle detection experiment. It turns out that the experiment is extremely sensitive and even the residual radiation from the lead will throw things off unless the shielding is left to "cool" for a couple of millennia. Enter the cargo of a Roman freighter lost off the coast of Sardinia in the 1st century BC.

Nice of the Romans to have the forethought to lay some by.

The cracks widen

The end of the Eurozone? I don't doubt it. I still stand by my prediction of five years ago and give the EU another ten years before the whole rotten edifice comes crashing down and Europe reverts of a collection of sovereign states. Roll on 2020!

If Mssrs Brown, Cameron, and Clegg wanted to turn this election into something other than the timid farce that it's become, they'd be telling us what their parties plan to do to ride out the inevitable collapse of the Euroempire so Britain comes out to her advantage. I shan't hold my breath.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Vidblog 280410

So, how did it go? Let me put it this way,

Orange Roughy With Dill Butter

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound frozen orange roughy–thawed
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1 dash each salt and pepper
2 teaspoons butter
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese–grated


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in shallow baking dish. Coat fish with butter. Sprinkle with dill weed, salt and pepper. Bake 25 minutes, until fish flakes.

Prepare buttered crumbs. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, and crumbs and parmesan cheese stirring to blend well. Sprinkle fish with buttered crumbs during last 3 minutes of baking.

This recipe from CDKitchen for Orange Roughy With Dill Butter serves/makes 2

PowerPoint puzzlement

US General Stanley McChrystal on one of the more appalling examples of PowerPoint:
When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war.
No argument from me.

Cat deterrent

We have a similar system at Chez Szondy. We call them "dogs".


This is pretty much my reaction as I get older.


Doesn't hunt for Sarah Connor, but it does clear the drive so the hunter/killer units can get out.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Smokey gander sauce

Scientists discover what they claim is the smoker's gene.

Following the logic of the militant wing of the homosexual rights movement after the discovery of the (now discredited) "gay" gene, we shall, of course, demand that all public discussion of the health risks or morality of smoking cease, expect the government to recognise that smoking is an identity and not a choice, repeal all anti-smoking laws, provide support groups to make young smokers comfortable with their smoking, teach in schools that smoking is a valid alternative and provide "safe smoking" instruction (perfectly okay if you use a filter tip), and institute aggressive smoker recruiting in government agencies, private businesses, the police, and the armed forces. Needless to say, "no smoking" signs will be henceforth regarded as discrimination and asking someone not to smoke or arguing that smoking isn't good for you will be declared a hate crime.

Unless, that is, the whole rationale was more of a smoke... Oh, well.

This sort of absurdity is the reason why the gay rights movement bores me to tears. It became a logic-free zone sometime in the '70s and since then has built up such a house of cards that were I of the persuasion I should be terrified of the whole edifice collapsing under its own weight. Better to argue your choice than claim you have none. After all, arguing "I have no choice" is one tiny step away from "If you are not responsible, then you will not be allowed responsibility."

Mr Barack Hussein Obama signs treaty with Utopia

New Labour tried the same idea back in '97 and see how well that worked out.


Remember our boys on the Malabar Front!

Decadence defined

Though his conclusion is couched firmly behind a pair of rose-tinted glasses, Ross Douthat in the New York Times looks at the South Park censorship affair and comes up with a perfect definition of decadence:
This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Space monkeys for Blessed Gaia.

Courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund we have this hymn of worship to Blessed Gaia complete with sad space monkey who somehow managed to blast into a sixty year orbit around the Earth on a Redstone booster. Pretty impressive, given that it could only reach suborbital velocities.

At least he doesn't pound the sand in front of the Statue of Liberty screaming "Damn you! Damn you all to Hell! "

The background music is "Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe," which is right there in the Birkenstock and bong water camp. Environmentalism is bad enough without turning it into a sort of neo-pagan religion. I wouldn't mind a return to the old Corn King and Driudism stuff if they could guarantee alternating the wicker man burnings with a decent Bacchanalia, but this modern Green paganism is downright creepy. It maintains the Christian idea of sin, but throws out the bit about salvation in favour of mere survival. "Worship Blessed Gaia and keep her commandments and you will be allowed to live–until we cull you Brutals, that is."

Personally, I prefer my monkeys to be a bit more laid back.

Living Kitchen

Another concept for a kitchen (...of the FUTURE!) designed by someone who has clearly never so much as boiled an egg in his life.

Alan Stiltoe 1928-2010

The writer Alan Stiltoe has passed away aged 82.

One of the "Angry Young Men" of the postwar years, he is reported to have still been a bit titchy.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Africa burning

Over at Foreign Policy Jeffery Gettlemen looks at Africa's slide into utter barbarism where warfare is giving way to unending banditry. The picture Mr Gettleman paints is harrowing, but it gets a bit odd when he waxes nostalgic about the "liberation" leaders of the last century who, in Mr Gettleman's words, had "class" and puzzles at how their sterling example gave way to the current Grand Guignol.

The answer isn't all that puzzling. The reason for this barbarism is obvious in hindsight. This is what happens when you have idealistic nitwits like Mr Harold McMillian bleating on about "winds of change," walking away from their responsibilities in a fug of pointless post-colonial guilt, and imaging that all you have to do to turn a colony into a state is to build a parliament building. It also doesn't help when you leave in place all the paternalistic mechanisms meant to protect a backward people that in the wrong hands become the instruments of oppression. Small wonder that instead of leaping into the 21st century Africa can barely hold on to the 18th. "Liberators" like Mugabe weren't the spiritual descendants of George Washington, but rather a collection of thugs, tyrants, murderers, thieves, and fanatics whose only interest was their own prosperity and lust for power. The insanity of cheerfully turning over an entire continent of long-suffering people to these psychopaths staggers the imagination.

Pace Mr Gettleman, what we see here is not a failing to live up to the "liberators'" shining example, but the inevitable fruit of their bloody labours.

Guns & butter in Tescos

A perfect example of a society in trouble: When you spend 2 ½ times more on socialised medicine than on defence, or indeed when defence spending is less than 51 percent of the central government's budget, then something is fundamentally wrong.

St George's Day

Happy St George's Day from Ephemeral Isle.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


If you're going to go hunting for Sarah Connor, you might as well do something useful while you're at it.

Hitler on Hitler

Warning: Profanity.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Future force soldier

Impressive. Given most of the Western governments' indifference to their own defence, let's hope we're looking at a Free World solider and not one of a tyrant's Myrmidons.

Space taxi

No, not this kind, but close to. It may be that due to Mr Barack Hussein Obama reducing the American manned space programme into a list of airy promises, we may be seeing the dawning of the age of specialised spacecraft.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ash cloud with a Green lining

As British air space remains almost entirely shutdown due to the Met Office reading virtual entrails again and another alleged killer cloud descending, the BBC ignores the economic havoc, strandings, and threat to national security posed by this episode in Chicken Little crisis management and opts to tell the proles its readers how a Britain without air travel wouldn't be so bad after all. No holidays abroad? No business travel? No air freight? No problem. It's all just marginal stuff. This little quote from a spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agent is rather telling:
I think you'd be talking about going to the situation like the 1950s. When planes were very much the preserve of the upper classes because it was extremely expensive to fly.
Quite right. Flying is the preserve of Inner Party members and don't you forget it. What do you think the Telescreens are for? Besides that, I mean.

Robo mouth

Hunts for Sarah Connor, makes caterwauling noises when she's sighted.

Kagawa University in Japan develops a frighteningly realistic robot mouth that can directly simulate human speech. The engineers claim that this is a prototype, but in its present stage of development it could easily replace a large percentage of my old bosses and professors.

Smart faucet

A spring-loaded tap that you can't leave running; guaranteed to keep you from washing your hands in hot water again.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Making an ash of themselves

If you're one of the millions of people who've been stranded, inconvenienced, impoverished or just plain annoyed by the air travel ban imposed on Europe after the Icelandic volcanic eruption, you're probably aware of all the trouble and expense that ban has caused. What you may not be aware of is how pointless the ban turned out to be.

When Eyjafjallajokull blew its top, we were all assured that aircraft across the continent had to be grounded because a vast could of engine-destroying ash was bearing down on the continent like Godzilla dropping in for some sushi. For nearly a week one of civilisation's main transportation systems has been unavailable and travellers are falling back on everything from duck punts to pogo sticks to get home, yet that ash cloud has proven suspiciously invisible. Then the airlines, losing money like water stored in a brown paper bag, sent up test flights and couldn't find any sign of those destructive ash concentrations.

What happened? The EU, the real government of Europe whatever the provincial governors like Mr Brown may claim, decided that using actual science involved all sorts of messy things like sending up aircraft and taking air samples, so they fell back on Met Office (Met Office?!?) computer models that predicted that the air over Europe would soon have the consistency of a breeze block. That was bad enough, but then the Eurocrats decided to adopt the dreaded "zero-tolerance" policy on ash that basically meant that if a housewife in Strasbourg cleaned out the fireplace every jet liner between Edinburgh and Ankara would be left to rust on the tarmac.

Sound familiar? It's the same logic and methods (or lack thereof) used with swine flu and pretty much every other baseless scare that has provoked so much knee-jerk reaction and cynical power grabbing over the past couple of decades. Cost benefit analysis? Risk assessment? Common sense? The brains God gave a duck? Why bother when the Precautionary Principle reigns supreme and there are so many diktats to be imposed? Besides, there are more important things to attend to, like making holidays a "human right". The EU did slip up this time, though. I can't understand how they overlooked passing laws against secondhand ash and taxing the airlines to death for the privilege of being grounded. We did, however, have the amusing subplot of "scientists" who seem incapable of doing the maths, but didn't stop them from making a spurious connection between the Iceland volcano and global warming.

This is what life is like under the heel of the self-annointed Solons who claim to be more competent to rule the tiniest aspects of the serfs people's lives without all that messy democracy getting in the way. Or maybe, just maybe, this will act as a wake up call and the nations of Europe, or at least Britain, will take control of their own skies again.

Update: Fool me once...

Mrs Slocombe, call your service

Unanimous Russian tycoon shells out record $75,000 for champagne bottle
Congratulations! You've just won a brand new dictionary.

Man mugged by octopus

Even the sea cannot escape the rising tide of crime.

The first debate

Unfortunately, this about sums it up.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Barack Antoinette s'amuse

Mr Barack Hussein Obama's Ancien Regime reaction to the Tea party protesters:
Vous penseriez qu'ils devraient dire vous "merci."
Not as good as "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," but it should be about as effective.

Update: Or maybe he meant we should be saying merci for this.

Update: Or maybe this.

Radar Men From The Moon: Chapter 12


Coming Next Week

Friday, 16 April 2010

The hidden factor

Popular Science answers the question of why we don't shoot nuclear waste into space.

They concentrate largely on the safety aspects of such an operation, but they entirely neglect the real reason we don't fill rockets full of spent fuel rods. It's the same reason why we don't shovel Delta boosters full of gold and diamonds; they're valuable.

Indeed, that is the real reason why disposing of nuclear waste is so tricky. It isn't that hard to get rid of the stuff if we never wanted it back–just drill into a subduction layer in a tectonic plate and let it slip into the Earth's mantle or drop canisters on the Antarctic ice cap and let them melt through until a mile of ice covers them. Places like Yucca Flats cost a bomb to design and build because it isn't to keep the waste from getting out. It's to keep it safe until we want to get it back.

In fact, the Americans could solve most of their nuclear waste problem if they simply looked in the mirror and repeated after me, "Plutonium is fuel, not waste. Reprocess it, use fast breeder reactors to create more of it and less waste, and use it all to create loads and loads of lovely electricity. What's left over are valuable isotopes, short-half life stuff that decays rapidly, and the left overs can be handled with relative ease."

See? That wasn't so hard, was it?

White jade & jumping to conclusions

A white jade piece from the Manchu (AKA Qing) Dynasty brought a record price at Sotheby's of $12.4 million.

What's interesting about this isn't the event, but the fever-dream reporting that it produced at Born Rich (emphasis added):
As the rise of China is becoming one of the most important trends of the 21st century, the only group that is paying serious attention to its emergence is the business community. It is more evident as a group of Chinese Qing Dynasty imperial works of art smashed world records after fierce bidding at the Sotheby’s sale a few days ago. Among the most sought-after objects was the imperial white-jade seal that was sold for a record $12.4 million in Hong Kong. The amount was almost double the price it fetched in 2007. While it is for the pundits to see, who holds the position as world leader in the coming years however, we can’t help but note the sparked international interest in objects of China’s glorious past.
Using this kind of warped logic that equates a fad in the antiques market with great power supremacy, it's obvious that this century will see Red China and DC comics battle for supremacy.

Faber Castell Addiator Slide Rule Hybrid Calculator

A brilliant combination of two calculating devices that my daughter will file along with the abacus.

The Most Awesome Thing Ever

You decide!

Warning: Loud and like eating peanuts–the really good blanched ones.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Missing the target

National reports that Sarah Palin spent $14,000 deicing a private jet used on her fund-raising trips; implying that there is something dodgy or hypocritical about it.

True, conservatives do squawk the likes of Mr Al Gore or Senator Nancy Pelosi whizzing about in Gulfstreams, but is forgetting a few things about Mrs Palin:
  • Mrs Palin is a private citizen, not a public servant.
  • She is spending her own money.
  • Conservatives approve of people flying in private jets. What they object to is Left-wingers who demand that people give up flying altogether while they reserve for themselves the privilege to swan about in the skies in luxury–often at taxpayers' expense.

Solar power: No sun required

Translated German news report on the economics of subsidised solar power in Spain:

After press reports, it was established during inspections that several solar power plants were generating current and feeding it into the net at night. To simulate a larger installation capacity, the operators connected diesel generators.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," said one industry expert to the newspaper "El Mundo", which brought the scandal to light. If solar systems apparently produce current in the dark, will be noticed sooner or later. However, if electricity generators were connected during daytime, the swindle would hardly be noticed.

Green energy creates new jobs... in the diesel generator industry.

Update: Maybe the should just come clean and imitate the Danes in their hair shirt insanity.

Time to start learning Chinese

Whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower.
He'd prefer his country wasn't?

Tin Pest

The bizarre way that tin behaves at low temperatures that might have did in Captain Scott's party. When your stockpile of paraffin cans are sealed with tin solder that turns to dust at -40° F it tends to put a damper on things.

Via Dark Roasted Blend.

And here's another example.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Go, Capitalism!

The prosecution's case for why the East is eating the West's lunch.

Nap Vieeb Plus II

An ear-mounted alarm that goes off when you nod off.

The wife is buying me one of these for the next time she wants to watch Glee.

Otter art

His transgressive use of multimedia employing holistic found materials serves to heighten the ironic commentary on the hypocrisy of modern bourgeois zoocentric mores in the context of deconstructive revisionism.

I expect this artist among the finalists at next year's Turner Prize.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Another nail

According to the British courts that are now merely an extension of the EU, the British Army is not a fighting force meant to protect the realm, but the equivalent of a branch of Lilywhites.

Update: Sexy T. Dear God!

Green Pod

Behold the latest, incredible, mind-boggling advance in green technology meant to pay homage to Blessed Gaia Save the PlanetTM. I give you (fanfare) the BICYCLE SHED!

Pardon me. I'm all aflutter.

Trippin' the Tardis

According to the BBC Archives, Doctor Who's regenerations were 'modelled on LSD trips'.

As opposed to the current series where the entire production is modelled on a bad LSD trip.

A question of health

Telegraph headline:
Muslim staff escape NHS hygiene rule
So Muslim nurses don't need to roll up their sleeves as required by the new hygiene rules intended to prevent people from dying in hospital from superbugs. This raises an interesting question: Either the NHS is so enthrall to dhimmitude that even the risk of deadly infection is preferable to upsetting the faithful or the new hygiene rules are pointlessly strict and can be ignored.

Neither is a very pleasant thought.

Wallace & Gromit, call your service

Scientists get sheep drunk on meths and then taser them. The purpose is to determine whether or not tasering meths drinkers can cause them to suffer heart attacks.

I'd have more confidence in this if the scientists in question hadn't said this very slowly while looking away and ending with "Yeah, that's it."

Monday, 12 April 2010

Unintended solution

How to expose the International Criminal Court as the tyrants/Leftists posturing body that it always has been? By declaring "ecoside" to be the "fifth crime against peace."

What is ecoside? It's all things to all environmentalists. It can be everything from strip-mining the whole of Asia and lacing the tailings with a deadly poison derived from burning down the entire Amazon basin and then dumping them on Australia. Or it can be forgetting to pick up an empty crisp packet. They're "only just beginning to get to terms with how enormous that change will be."

How comforting.

You don't even have to present a proper case because this would be an "absolute law" that only requires "a soil sample" for conviction.

Or it can be in this cheery little scenario:
Supporters of a new ecocide law also believe it could be used to prosecute "climate deniers" who distort science and facts to discourage voters and politicians from taking action to tackle global warming and climate change.
Thoughtcrime is a crime against Blessed Gaia! Presumably the guilty would be burned inside wicker men. I must check with Lord Summerisle about this.

If the shoe fits...

Scotland Yard shows the obedience expected of a good dhimmi by declaring that Muslim protesters can throw shoes "in ritual protest."

As an experiment, I'd suggest that infidel protesters come armed to the teeth with old boots from now on–Wellingtons preferred. Allow for training time if volley fire is expected to be employed. Whether a thousand golf shoes or a single old slipper, don't forget a stop watch as well to time how long until the first arrest occurs. I predict it will be before the first sole reaches apogee.

Honey Do

Click to enlarge.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Hardiman revisited

Fans of Tales of Future Past may remember the GE Hardiman project from the mid-1960s., an incredible site with posts on some rare gems from the history of robotics, takes a look at this early exosekelton project, which includes some images that I knew existed and I've been trying to hunt down for decades.

The man must have bloodhounds.

Man amplifier also takes a look at Cornell's 1961 effort to develop a working exosekeleton.


Of course not, Miss Connor; the ladies' room has always been behind this locked steel door in the sub-basement.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

SETI at fifty

Happy 50th birthday, SETI.

To commemorate this day, we present the only credible, yet strangely unmentioned message from space:

Running on clueless

Times headline:
Gordon Brown pledges 'five more years' as Prime Minister if Labour wins
Amazingly, he thinks this will help.

Targeted outrage

The Bradford Council for Mosques (whoever they are) have their knickers in a twist because an Army firing range in Yorkshire has a replica mosque. According to Mr Ishtiaq Ahmed of the BCM,
What angers me very much is that we are conditioning the young British to say that mosques are a place where you are going to find danger and a place to target.
I haven't much time for self-appointed Muslim "leaders" in a country where they are unassimilated guests who show no signs of wanting to assimilate, yet who bristle at every perceived slight while their co-religionists leave the streets of London red with the blood of British subjects. If the BCM wish the British Army to cease using a replica mosque for their training exercises, then the BCM should persuade the Jihadists to stop using mosques as arms depot, staging areas, recruitment centres, and firing platforms in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Until then, I hope that the official response to such twaddle is two words of which the second is "off."

Update: Instead, let's do a bit of grovelling.

Milk bottle anniversary

According to Wired, on this day in 1879, the first milk bottles were introduced.

Let us all pause for a moment of silence.

Rock, paper, scissors glove

A computerised glove that plays rock, paper, scissors.

If you think that this is a great idea and have enough spare time to use it, I have some garden plots that need de-turfing.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Skywalker online

Use the Google, Luke.

An empty house

EU Referendum looks at how few, if any, Members of Parliament actually show up at the Commons.

This has long been a bete noir for me. In Szondy's Britain, one of the first things on the list would be to require all MPs to attend all debates for their full duration unless they were able to provide a written excuse signed by the Speaker.

This would, of course, include requests for potty breaks.

Think of the advantages: MPs would be locked up for many hours in the evening, preventing them from getting into mischief, spending taxpayers money, or draughting new laws; they would actually gain an understanding of how Parliament is supposed to work; and sheer boredom might do what voting hasn't been able to and finally clear that Augean stable out.

Man and Computer

This takes me back. I remember very well the days when to get a computer to do anything you had to programme it from scratch.

Punch cards and ferric core memories. God, I feel old.

Disarming the policeman

Mr Barack Hussein Obama goes into full Jimmy Carter mode with changes in United States nuclear arms policies guaranteed to please the barbarians while terrifying every friend and ally the Americans have. It is surely a mark of either utter brilliance or thundering incompetence to draught a nuclear policy that simultaneously reduces clarity and ambiguity, yet relies on a deal that the Russians are willing to tear up at the drop of a hat.

The sheer narcissism of Mr Obama's nuclear policy staggering. If he imagines that shrinking the American arsenal regardless of circumstances and making it less reliable through lack of development will be seen as anything other than a sign of weakness, that promising not to retaliate with the full might of America's arsenal against chemical and biological attacks will make the Free World more secure, or that this sort of Clement Attlee-style moral posturing will impress anyone who isn't staring out of Mr Obama's shaving mirror, then he is barking mad.

I'm all for nuclear arms control–more so than Mr Obama or anyone at CND ever could be. The only difference is that my plan would be to disarm the tyrants and leave the democracies with enough weapons to turn any would-be Napoleon's lands into a sea of glass. As for Mr Obama's ideal world without nuclear arms, Ares has some pictures of it. They're rather familiar.

Update: “Jimmy-Cartesian”.
In the Obama narrative, America has been a reckless source of trouble for the world because of its arrogant interventionism. Obama’s solution, in the words of Charles Hill, a professor at Yale, is the following: “Close out the wars, disengage, and distance ourselves in order to carry out the real objective: the achievement of a European-style welfare state. Just as Reagan downsized government by starving it through budget cuts, Obama will downsize the military-industrial complex by directing so much money into health care, environ-o-care, etc., that we, like the Europeans, will have no funds available to maintain world power. This will gain the confidence of those regimes adversarial to us as they recognize we will no longer be a threat to them and that we will acquiesce in their maintenance of power over their people.” All will be well with the world.
I still maintain that it's either that, or that he hasn't a clue about what he's doing, or both.

Update: Iran gives Mr Obama the bird.

The power of vodka

This advert should be enshrined as one of the great historical documents. Never before had the 1970s, the sexual revolution, the permissive society, the inherent contradictions of Feminism, cheap vodka, bad taste, and a staggering inability to listen to what you're saying been summed up so perfectly.

Hotel room...of the FUTURE!

The Nakagin Capsule Tower of 1975 is so horrible that it's been shortlisted as a World Heritage Site, but I must confess that I am captivated by the Space:1999 style of the rooms. The clunky built-in LED calculator is a nice touch.

Note the reading lamp; a perfect combination of inconvenience and impracticality.