Sunday, 31 October 2010

The White Hare

Click title link to listen.

The Thing From Another World

Your Halloween bonus feature.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Douglas Adams

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Interdependence: The alliance of dunces

French fighter craft may be operating from Britain's only aircraft carrier as part of a new policy of "interdependence" that sees Britain only going to war with "allies like France and the US".


I need a very, very large brandy.

Update: Part of the reason for this insanity:  The Coalition is having trouble capping the housing benefit (which shouldn't even exist) at £400 per week.

That's per week.

Death of the wrist watch

The BBC asks if the cell phone and other digital gadgets are killing off the wrist watch.  It's an interesting question, but I sincerely doubt it.  The wrist watch is too useful a gadget and having a timepiece right where you can see it at any moment has too many advantages.  Besides, a watch can be made virtually indestructible while a cell phone can be destroyed by whispering "moisture" to it. I can't imagine a yachtsman, a scuba diver, or a pilot relying on anything other than a watch and even in more prosaic circumstances a watch has the upper hand.  Which do you suppose is more practical while driving during the summer time when the only pockets available for carrying a phone are in a pair trousers?  Which is more accessible?

Here at Chez Szondy, I wear a wrist watch all the time.  That's because, being a freelance writer, I spend most of my time working in my pajamas and the wife doesn't take my concern that there are at least four rooms in the house without a clock seriously, so it's either a wristwatch while I'm pottering about or guessing half the time.

The BBC's argument rests largely on the fact that young people don't wear a watch as much as their elders do.  Obviously, what this indicates is that the young need a few more cuffs on the earhole.  Mind you, they need that on general principles.

Save the Vulcan

The last airworthy Avro Vulcan bomber needs £129,738 in the next day to keep flying.

Find the piggy bank, lads.

Blast Boxers

In these uncertain times, you can't be too careful.  Thanks to these armoured boxer shorts, you can rest secure in the knowledge that if you are blown to bits, at least your nether regions will be intact.

It's something, anway.


A bit of Doctor Who for a slow Friday.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

James Bond's Aston Martin DB5: £2.5 million


Actually, it's Q's Aston Martin and he's not happy at how 007 took care of it.  Honestly, these field agents; no respect for government property.

This car is the reason I drive a ratty Chevy Blazer with a blown cylinder.  If I can't have a DB5 with machine guns, I don't give a fig what I drive.


Actroid-F is another android from Japan with creepily realistic animatronics.  This one is supposed to give (hospital) patients a heightened sense of security.

Apparently a heightened sense of security comes from a certainty that the Grim Reaper is on his way.

Now you're talking

Northrop-Grumman looked at its new robot pack mule and decided that what it really needed was a .50-caliber M2 machine gun.

Things just got interesting.

So you want a PHD in the Humanities

This was pretty much one of my professors' reaction when I said that I was going for my PhD–right down to the doubts about my sanity.  A lifetime later, I have to agree with him.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Terry Pratchett interview

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Cheaper, but no good as a door stop.

Ever since my student days I thought that university textbooks were a scam–especially when it came to topics like maths and logic.  Calculus hasn't changed in centuries, algebra centuries before that, and geometry and logic not at all in millennia, yet new and staggeringly expensive textbooks are cranked out year after year.  With total costs of textbooks for a degree now rivaling that of a small car, it's no wonder that ebooks are now being considered as an affordable option.

What amazes me is that it took until now for the idea to catch on.  I was expecting this back in the early '90s.


Think the Eiffel Tower is something to write home about?  Think again.  It's amazing how huge oil rigs are, but we don't appreciate their size because most of them are underwater.

It's the whole iceberg thing.

Redistribution of air

I wouldn't put it past them
An automatic bicycle pump that works by stealing air from motor car tyres.

The entire principle behind this thing is immoral.

Unlocking an airliner lavatory door

That's from the outside, of course.  It's easier than you think and those transatlantic flights are long, entertainment is limited...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Rejection slips II

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

The Fall of America?

Mark Steyn looks at the upcoming elections and argues that a lot more is at stack than Nancy Pelosi's job. 
This is really the last chance for the unloved Republicans. If the party establishment is sufficiently dimwitted to see November 2nd as the restoration of the 2004-2006 GOP, they will be setting up the conditions (as Rush has already argued) for a serious third-force challenge in 2012. That would be less convulsive than a remoter though still possible scenario: If the Democrats manage to hold onto power by openly funding spoiler candidates, they would be discrediting the entire electoral process, and setting up pre-revolutionary conditions. In other words, it would be very easy for both parties to confirm the suspicion of a very disenchanted electorate – that the system no longer allows for serious course correction. 

And, without serious course correction, America is doomed. It starts with the money. For dominant powers, it always does – from the Roman Empire to the British Empire. “Declinism” is in the air these days, but for us full-time apocalyptics we’re already well past that stage. In the space of one generation, a nation of savers became the world’s largest debtors, and a nation of makers and doers became a cheap service economy. Everything that can be outsourced has been – manufacturing to by no means friendly nations overseas; and much of what’s left in agriculture and construction to the armies of the “undocumented”. At the lower end, Americans are educated at a higher cost per capita than any nation except Luxembourg in order to do minimal-skill checkout-line jobs about to be rendered obsolete by technology. At the upper end, America’s elite goes to school till early middle age in order to be credentialed for pseudo-employment as $350 grand-a-year diversity consultants (Michelle Obama) or in one of the many other phony-baloney makework schemes deriving from government micro-regulation of virtually every aspect of endeavor.

Oddly, it's the gaming the third parties that frightens me the most.  Any of the other things can be remedied with enough effort, but if the American people think that the system is rigged, then 1776 will look like a, well, tea party and the only safe investments will be in gold, tinned food, and guns.  And I don't just mean for Americans.  If the United States falls, civilsation falls with her.

Ben Kenobi: Private Jedeye

Meanwhile, Darth Vader, who also had to make ends meet because his sole source of income was destroyed along with the Jedi, shares a small flat in Camden with Jar Jar Binks.

Crossing the line

A quote from Mr Barack Hussein Obama's address to Latino voters  (emphasis added):
And if Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, we're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's gonna be harder — and that's why I think it's so important that people focus on voting on November 2.
The president of the United States just referred to his fellow citizens who fail to support him as "enemies" and threatens to "punish" them?  Oh, dear.

I have a sick feeling that when Mr Obama loses control of Congress and his adoring press start to see him as a liability, a time will come not long after when Barry snaps during a live broadcast and starts uses those two words again in a very angry voice while glaring straight into the camera.  Hope and change, guys.

Update:  More soothing words from Mr Soetoro (emphasis added):
We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.
 "Sit in the back"?  I knew that Barry's grasp of history was poor, but for a black American to say something like this is enough to make the shade of Dr King do a spit take.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Rejection slips

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Sign of the times

A modest Martian proposal

Astrobiology professor Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University joins the ranks of those advocating exploring and colonising Mars by sending astronauts on a one-way trip with no possibility of return.

Never mind that setting up a colony with no return trade is pointless and sending people to a planet of no return depends on cosmic levels of wishful thinking.  Maybe we can get something practical out of this.  After all, if you're going to be this callous, then why not go the whole enchilada?

Let's reintroduce transportation and turn Mars into the Botany Bay of the 21st century.  It's basically what you're doing, anyway.

The Chinese Professor

A political advert from the United States that neatly boils down how to destroy a great nation in one easy lesson. The only flaw was in the conclusion. In the sort of international lender/debtor situation the United States and China are in, it's the lender who is the more nervous of the two. Far from "owning" the United States and making the Americans work for them, the Chinese would find themselves holding a load of worthless treasury bonds that the Americans have no intention of honouring. It's similar to what happened with Edward II I and the Jewish lenders that he'd borrowed a fortune from. Instead of "owning" England, the Jews found themselves banished and penniless.

China is such a candy-shell economy run by autocrats that I doubt if in twenty years we'll be seeing too many smug, smartly turned out Celestials patting themselves on the back as the new Masters of the World. More likely, they'll be wondering how to deal with living at the epicentre of an economic implosion that will make Japan's Lost Decade look like a Lost Weekend.

The secret known to every IT department

Friday, 22 October 2010

Postmodern doll house

How to convince your daughter you've gone completely mad?  Buy her this Corbusierian nightmare of a doll house.  Yes, it's a doll house.

No, really.  Trust me.  It is.

It's also one with a message:  If we're going to bring forth the New Technocratic Millennium, then some childhoods must be relentlessly crushed.,

Write a novel in a month

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Crocodiles on a plane

A live crocodile aboard a Congolese airliner escapes from a passenger's carry-on bag causing the passengers to panic; crashing the plane and killing 22 people.

Great.  Now they'll be confiscating my crocodiles at check in.  Again.

Live crab vending machine

A Chinese vending machine that dispenses live Shanghi hairy crabs for that impulse Shanghai hairy crab consumer.

What you do with them after purchase is up to you.

Colossal mistake

Ron Howard is remaking the sci fi classic Colossus: The Forbin Project and apparently Will Smith has been cast in the lead.

Is there some sort of running contest in Hollywood to see which director can cast Mr Smith in the most unsuitable role possible without the backers rushing for the door?

In related news, Sam Raimi is to direct another remake of The Day of the Triffids.

To quote Miracle Max, While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?

Update:  Martin Freeman is to play Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit because Will Smith had scheduling conflicts.


Hunts for Sarah Connor–right after he picks up this spare.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Barack Obama has become a Sikh joke

Tunku Varadarajan looks at Mr Barack Hussein Obama's trip to India immediately after the 2 November election and his cancelling of his visit to the Sikh Golden Temple at Amritsar for fear that wearing a skull cap will make him look too Muslim.

I can't decide which quote I like better:  That this isn't paranoia, it's cowardice; or that this is Mr Obama's Carter and the rabbit moment.

Mainstream extremists

Trafalgar Day

Happy Trafalgar Day from Ephemeral Isle.

The big picture

Look at this atrocity of a budget.  Despite the insane cuts, we still spend more on quangos than we do on national defence.

The country doesn't need an economist, it needs a proctologist to help find the Coalition's head.

Review: The Winds of Gath

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

I want to go to law school

I never realised that law school and archaeology had so much in common

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

BEI Black Ice Blueberry Harvester

One argument that I've made about illegal immigration in the United States is that it isn't a case of illegals "doing the job that Americans won't do," but rather a de facto peasant class that drives wages down does more harm than good.

If illegal immigrants were barred from the agricultural sector, food prices wouldn't "rocket" as some have claimed.  Illegals only work in a few labour-intensive areas of farming and if they were replaced with standard wage workers, the increase in the average household's food budget, according to some estimates, would be about nine dollars a year.  This isn't enough to even be noticed by most consumers, but it would be enough of a spur to farmers to start investing in automation. If that were the case, we'd soon see yields go up and prices go down until illegal farm workers become a moot point because they'd never be able to compete.

A disincentive for foreigners to violate the border and more agriculture moving into the 21st century.  A win  win situation.

RN down, EU up

Mr Daniel Hannan MEP points out one tiny fact:  In a time of austerity when the RN is reduced to a toothless shadow of its already emaciated self, the Coalition is increasing what it sends to the EU by 60 percent!

 It's the sort of news that can only be responded to with a brandy-sputtering "WHAT?!?!"

The assessment

Victor Davis Hanson provides a thorough look at Mr Barack Hussein Obama 2008 versus 2010.

None of this surprised me in the least.  From the moment Mr Obama boomed, I suspected it was because he wass an empty vessel.  I just never thought he'd turn out to be entirely empty.

Update:  Run away!  Run away!

Review: The Specialty of the House

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Britain bares her throat to the knife

For the scrap yard before she's even built.
The Coalition announces defence cuts or, to be more accurate, something scrawled on a napkin during a mad-hatter's tea party that they're fobbing off as defence cuts.

The jewel in the crown of this shopping list of madness?  Deep cuts to the Royal Navy that will reduce fighting strength to 19 surface warships, building an aircraft carrier that will never fly jets and will almost certainly be sold off before it sees active service, and a second carrier that won't have any British jets until 2020 and won't be fully operational until 2036.  Marvelous defence strategy there:  Ask our enemies to hold off attacking us for 26 years and after that, be a dear and try not to start a war while our only strike carrier is in for a refit.  Thanks, awfully.  Not that it matters because without Harriers (they're for the immediate chop) we don't have any carrier capacity now anyway.

That's only the tip of the iceberg with the only shred of good news is that the MOD losing 25,000 civilian staff.  Mind you, given that the MOD has more civilians than soldiers, this is a very, very tiny shred.

Meanwhile, the massive, useless bureaucracy at the NHS and the handouts to foreign dictators remains sacrosanct. And as for the idea of dumping all those damn rat holes "green" projects or stop annually sending tens of billions of pounds off to Brussels?  Not a chance, mate.  The way in which the Coalition treats national defence is nothing short of criminal.  Unfortunately, our only alternative is Labour, so it's a choice between criminal and treasonous.

I've said it before and it's worth repeating, I realise that an austerity programme is necessary these days, but the purpose of government is first and foremost defence of the realm.  Everything else is secondary and expendable.  If it was up to me, every MP would be followed around by a monkey who would bash him with a club every time he forgets this.

By the bye, That sensation you're now feeling is what it's like to be stark naked in the face of a cold eastern wind.

Update: They've gone barking mad.

Review: Wilt in Nowhere

A new Quill & The Keyboard link is up.

Nice Guys Finish First

A classic Horizon documentary from the days before Professor Richard Dawkins went screaming off the deep end.

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Kneale Tapes

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.


I was just reading about this in Anthony Bourdain's new book Medium Raw.  Apparently, it's a bit like the Fight Club of haute Cuisine and in Bourdain's case, they ate the budgies heads and all.  And I do mean all.  They don't even bother to disembowel the little bleeders first.

His description of the experience is one I'm making a note of to use in my novel.
In the darkness under my shroud, I realize that in my eagerness to fully enjoy this experience, I’ve closed my eyes. First comes the skin and the fat. It's hot. So hot that I’m drawing short, panicky, circular breaths in and out—like a high-speed trumpet player, breathing around the ortolan, shifting it gingerly around my mouth with my tongue so I don’t burn myself. I listen for the sounds of jaws against bone around me but hear only others breathing, the muffled hiss of rapidly moving air through teeth under a dozen linen napkins. There’s a vestigial flavor of Armagnac, low-hanging fumes of airborne fat particles, an intoxicating, delicious miasma. Time goes by. Seconds? Moments? I don’t know. I hear the first snap of tiny bones from somewhere near and decide to brave it. I bring my molars slowly down and through my bird’s rib cage with a wet crunch and am rewarded with a scalding hot rush of burning fat and guts down my throat. Rarely have pain and delight combined so well. I’m giddily uncomfortable, breathing in short, controlled gasps as I continue, slowly—ever so slowly—to chew. With every bite, the thin bones and layers of fat, meat, skin, and organs compact in on themselves, there are sublime dribbles of varied and wondrous ancient flavors: figs, Armagnac, dark flesh slightly infused with the salty taste of my own blood as my mouth is pricked by the sharp bones. As I swallow, I draw in the head and beak, which, until now, had been hanging from my lips, and blithely crush the skull.

What is left is the fat. A coating of nearly imperceptible yet unforgettable-tasting abdominal fat. I undrape, and, around me, one after another, the other napkins fall to the table, too, revealing glazed, blissed-out expressions, the beginnings of guilty smiles, an identical just-****ed look on every face.

Update: Francois Mitterrand's last meal.

Note to self:  Is it too late to procure a few of these off the black market before the end of Vegetarian Awareness Month?

Turbine car

For those of you who are interested in turbojet-powered cars (and who isn't?), Jalopnik has an excerpt from Steve Lehto's new book on Chrysler's entry into the race.

I'll have a review as soon as I get my own copy.

£1 albums

Rob Dickins, former head of Warner Music UK, says that the way to fight music piracy is to drop the price of albums to £1 and make the real money off volume sales, live music events and merchandise.

Or you can do what the music industry has tried and failed with for the past twenty years by pretending that it's still 1968 and that they can maintain the distribution monopoly that modern technology destroyed decades ago.

Good luck with that.

Cybertecture Mirror

And now, a cybernetic mirror that fills you in with all the vital information of the day while you shave and updates you about your health while you brush your teeth.

Great.  Not only do I have to look at my unkempt, groggy mug first thing in the morning before I've had my tea,now I have to tell some damn cheery nanny of a gadget to piss off.

Could be worse.  Share and enjoy.

An observation

Is it just me or is Mr Barack Hussein Obama, with only a fortnight to go before the elections, still having a bit of a problem connecting with the people?

Update:  The Marlboro man of politics.

Ur phone

Gizmodo looks at the first "cell phones" with this example from 1964.  Actually, it isn't a cell phone (they work on a completely different principle), but it is a radiotelephone for a motor car.  To give you some idea of how far we've come, this isn't the phone; it's just the handset and control panel.  the actual transceiver is a huge electronics box complete with valves in the boot of the car.  The system was so primitive that all calls had to made through an operator and only a handful of subscribers were possible in any given area.

And no, it doesn't have a built-in camera.  On the other hand, how many cell phones today have a luxury car as an attachment?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Friday, 15 October 2010

I wish to complain

Sometimes you can't comment; you can only look on in awe.

Kimchi krisis

South Korea is facing a devastating kimchi crisis after a poor harvest sees domestically produced cabbage going for £8.75 a head.

No word yet about air drops of emergency sauerkraut, but we're hoping.

Boneyard badgers

St Remigius Church in the village of Long Clawson, Leicestershire is beset by grave-robbing badgers.

Looks like the End Times are pretty much upon us.

Review: City

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

George MacDonald Fraser on 'Desert Island Discs' - Part 3

A new Quill & The Keyboard link is up.

When tolerance becomes surrender

Where's Pvt. John Moyse now that we need him?
Tolerance once meant you were willing to abide behaviors you found objectionable. Then it came to mean not judging such behaviors at all or, better yet, respecting them. Now, it’s come to mean celebrating them.
Clifford D May
Actually, I think that the final step after celebration should be, "At last, it means groveling before them in fear."

It's what I believe has been the West's principal failing in the past fifty years clear across the board in dealing with everything from Multiculturalism to Islam to sexual deviance.  Time after time what starts out as a reasonable request for tolerance ends in a demand to kowtow.  It's like watching a civilisation giving way to a case of creeping madness or a terminal loss of bottle.

"Bonfire of quangos"

From the BBC:
The government is to unveil plans for a "bonfire of quangos", with up to 180 organisations expected to be abolished.
That's 180 down and 520 to go.


I love the headline the BBC had to go with this:
Quango reform will cost jobs, warns Maude
To which I can only say: Good!  Hopefully, it will be everyone on a quango payroll.  Let them get a proper job.

Spines of jelly

The MSM are forever acting as apologists for the Religion of Peace; implying over and over that terrorism is an orphan crime that Islam has nothing to do with and anyone who says otherwise is an "Islamophobe".  Then they reveal themselves to be hypocrites and cowards by quaking in fear at the thought of what the Faithful might do to them if crossed.  Case in point: American newspapers refuse to run a Mohammed cartoon.  And this one doesn't even have Mohammed in it.  If Islam is such a peaceful religion, then what are these editors afraid of?  Why don't they back their assertions and support freedom of the press by putting their necks on the line?  Oh, that's right; they'd be doing that literally.

Keep speaking truth to power, guys.


Sure she can sing, but can she throw a punch?

The miracle worker

Wait until they start preferring Carter to The One.
Mr Barack Hussein Obama achieves the impossible by making voters nostalgic for President George W Bush.

Update:  Ask and ye shall receive.  Peter Ferrara prefers Carter.  He has an interesting take that should interest those who believe that an electoral defeat this year will ensure an Obama re-election because Mr Obama will be able to blame everything on the Republicans.  It seems that that thesis forgets the effects of Mr Obama's current policies on his own party as well as the country:
In the case of that New Great Depression, it will be the surviving Congressional Democrats who will be desperately trying to impeach him, hoping to save the Democrat party they so happily gave away to the neo-Marxist infiltrator in 2008.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

George MacDonald Fraser on 'Desert Island Discs' - Part 1 & 2

Two new Quill & The Keyboard posts are up.

Part 1 & Part 2.

Chilean miners rescued

Such a rare thing on our troubled planet: A happy ending.

Well done, everyone. Well done and thank God.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a reservoir

Headline from
Downstream from Howard Hansen damn, residents prepare for floods
 The darn has busted!  The darn has busted!

The Project

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Chariots of the Gods

It's a slow news day and I have a full calendar, so I've decided to inflict share this perfect example of how not to make a documentary.

Think of it as the Inconvenient Truth of the 1970s.

Personally, I'd go with the re-edited American version narrated by Rod Serling. That way you can go into the next room and pretend that it's a vintage episode of Jacques Cousteau.

Monday, 11 October 2010


A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Incoming, Barry!

Guess which photo won't get a lot of play by the MSM?
Mr Barack Hussein Obama demonstrates that he can get things done much faster than his predecessor.  It took President Bush nearly eight years before an Iraqi "journalist" threw a shoe at him in Baghdad.  Mr Obama managed to have a book thrown at him at a pro-Obama rally in less than two.

At least Bush saw the missile coming and had the presence of mind to duck.

Update: Good Lord!  CNN is actually covering the incident.  What?  Oh.  It turns out that the Secret Service is saying that the thrower in question was an author who just wanted to get Mr Obama to read his book.

So for CNN, when it becomes a story is when it becomes a non-story.  That wheezy sound you hear is the CNN staff breathing a sigh of relief.


Plainly having read our previous post on the germ-killing keyboard lamp, NTT Docomo present a cell phone that uses ions to destroy filthy microbes.

I appreciate the effort, but the point of the device eludes me.  Why would I want a cell phone that kills germs on its surface when the whole point of a cell phone would mean going out...out there where those horrid germs lurk in their untold billions on all those filthy people?  Don't you see them?  Those germs that infest every surface touched by countless unclean hands?  Air polluted by bacteria breathed in and out of all those mucous-laden lungs?  Germs that lay lurking in every crack, every crevice?  They're everywhere. Watching... Watching... Watching...

I need another bath.

Rattle rattle

The BBC looks at the £113 million up for grabs from Euromillions lottery and suggests all sorts of "philanthropic" ways in which the altruistic winner could use such a some.  Not surprisingly, it's a wish list of every left wing, statist cause with its hand out.  There's lots of stuff about Oxfam, "green" technologies, sport for the disabled, and such like, but nothing about donating to the church of one's choice or starting a scholarship fund for nuclear engineers.

Personally, if I had such a slice of dosh fall in my lap, I would (after paying off my debts, having one hell of a party and getting started on that orbital death ray) give back to society by investing the money in my business so I could make many times over that £113 million in profit, employ loads of people, and provide the general public with goods and services that would enrich their lives–at least, until the orbital death ray is up and running.

But that seems a bit too capitalistic for Auntie.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Isaac Asimov interview

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

Please, no hunchbacked mice jokes

The world's smallest flat is up for sale.  Located in located in Rome, it's a snip at €50,000.  That's for 55 square feet, of course.

Frankly, I'm not all that impressed.  For five years I lived aboard a 24 foot yacht and this is positively spacious in comparison.


Want that perfect physique but can't be bothered with all that dieting and exercise?   Now you can have those rippling muscles and six-pack abs (I think they mean abdominal muscles, but it's hard to be sure) instantly.  It's in post production video, but so long as you remain a hermit and never see the light of day, you might be able to pull the deception off.

I've been using a similar system myself for years when doing video appearances, but I in my case, I use it to tone down the muscles and increase the paunch because I hate to instill sexual jealousy in people by making them feel inadequate. 

Monkey security

We tried this. It works pretty good, but cleaning the car boot out takes forever.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Feeding the dragon

A new Quill & The Keyboard post is up.

The empty suit

On NewsFlavor there's an alleged interview with an anonymous White House "insider" that is worth a read.  I dislike anonymous sources unless some justification is given for the anonymity (i.e. they'll be killed if identified), but even if this isn't a bone fide account, it is certainly an assessment of Mr Barack Hussein Obama that is very close to what I think is the truth (I particularly like his depiction of Mr Obama's fear of Mrs Hilary Clinton).  In fact, I don't think the "insider" goes far enough.

It's amazing that the Americans elected someone to the post of Most Powerful Man on Earth whom they knew nothing about.  I've been puzzled myself by this walking enigma, but after two years, I think I can finally nail him down.  Mr Obama is essentially an empty suit.  He's a man of only moderate intelligence and very poor education who isn't at all well read.  In fact, his ignorance of his own country is nothing less than astounding.  He is a man who has enjoyed a lifetime of grooming and patronage and has never had to work hard for anything in his life.  He is thin skinned, timid, and (like many timid men) a thug.  He is also lazy and a textbook narcissist who cannot abide any criticism.

Mr Obama is not, however, a Manchurian candidate, an anti-colonialist (aside from disdain for his own country and a pathological hatred of Great Britain), nor a firebrand radical.  He is a left-wing politician who was weaned on Marxist propaganda since he was in diapers and has grown into a man who is a borderline Communist–at least, he would be if he understood anything about his ideology.  He wants things very passionately and his desire to "transform America" is sincere, but he hasn't a clue as to exactly what it is he wants, what he wants to transform America into, nor how to achieve it.

To be blunt, he never matured beyond being a second-year university student and his mindset never left the common room.  Some of his critics have described him as professorial.  That would be a compliment.  He's a professional undergraduate with an unlimited grant.

Great.  The Free World is led by Rik from the Young Ones.

Not an isolated case

Think the 10:10 video of kids being blasted to bloody gobs because they wouldn't embrace the Revolution was a  one-off?  Think again.  According to this lot, giving your child a hamburger is exactly, and I mean exactly, like shooting them up with heroin.

It makes me thankful that there's no such thing as telepathy, because I have no desire to see what goes on in their heads.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Stone Tape: Writing for television

A new Quill &The Keyboard post is up.


The new sentries at the United States' Nevada National Security Site.

I'm sure it's a leap forward, but where's the rocket launcher?  The electric Gatling gun?  Not even a Dalek-modelled voice synthesiser to bark out "Do not move! Do not move!" as the robot shines the pain ray on an intruder?  What?  No pain ray?  Good grief.

How disappointing.

Why not?

I've never cared much for Russell T Davies.  For all his love of Doctor Who, I quickly came to the conclusion that he was doing more harm than good to the programme and welcomed when he handed over control to someone else.  Even now, I only watch occasionally out of mere curiosity.

Unfortunately, he's still in charge of the Sarah Jane Adventures, so he can still do more harm to the Doctor than the Daleks ever could manage.  This quote from a story about the upcoming series is one example:
The Doctor doesn’t have to be white. And he can regenerate more than 12 times – a lot more!
Oh, goody!  Let's throw continuity, internal logic, and character integrity right out the window.  It's so much more fun.   Limited regenerations?  Who needs them?! Why should we have any dramatic limitations for a character to deal with?  That's so.. limiting.  As for him being white?  Well, that's just icky. You might as well cast the shade of Enoch Powell if you're going to do that.

But why stop there?  Let's make Ivanhoe Chinese.  Why not?  We can, so let's.  Robin Hood can be a Croat.  How about an Irish Sherlock Holmes?  No, that's an ethnic joke.  I know, Rhett Butler played by Sarah Jessica Parker.  David Tennant stars in the title role of The Life of Nelson Mandela.  Sam Spade played by a bit of felt under-carpet.  Bulldog Drummond as a Waldorf salad.  Al Pacino as a tall person.  John Cameron as a conservative.  David Cameron as a Conservative.  Wil Smith in two-thirds of the roles he's done in the past fifteen years.  Adam Sandler in anything.  Sydney Carton as a meeting of the Women's Institute.  Heck, we could even have Sir Winston Churchill do a cameo, but he'd be a bit hard to notice because now he's a mispronunciation of the word "Braithwaite". Better yet, how about Oprah Winfrey as the Prophet Mohamed?  Come on, it's so transgressive!  

Chaos is so liberating.

Looking backwards

Once hailed by mainstream pundits as the new JFK, the new FDR, and even the new Lincoln, Mr Barack Hussein Obama proves once again that he is, in fact, the new Carter.

Germ Genie

At last, a disinfecting UV lamp that will kill 99 percent of the germs on my keyboard.

I'd order one, but when it was delivered I'd have to go to the front door and that means putting on the surgical mask and gown,  laying out fresh lavatory paper on the floor, adjusting the shoe boxes over my slippers and then, ugh, opening the door.

That's only the beginning, I'd have to wrap the fire tongs in tissues so I could use it to drag the package indoors, throw a plastic bin liner over the box, wrap more tissue paper around the knife I'd need to cut a slit in the bin liner and then the box, somehow extract the lamp, and then hope it still works after I've sprayed it with Dettol. 

I think I'll stick to my current regime of wearing rubber gloves and only touching the keyboard with the lengths of chop sticks I've taped to the fingers.  Can't take any chances.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

10:10 tag


A couple of cougars have been sighted in the woods out in back of Chez Szondy, so the dogs have a strict sunset curfew and the daughter is warned to stay clear of the trees and play close to the doors. 

It was bad enough when the deer ate all my apples.  Now I have to deal with bloody lions.


When Alfa Romeo didn't just embrace the future, they tried to throttle it to death.

10:10 apologises

"No pressure"
The 10:10 organisation, author of last week's snuff film dedicated to Blessed Gaia, offers a new apology that is a definite improvement on their earlier "The video was really funny, most people loved it, but we're sorry if a handful of you humourless Mrs Grundys couldn't take a joke":
As you may have heard, last week, 10:10 made a mistake by releasing a short film about cutting carbon which was supposed to be humourous but in the event upset a lot of people. We quickly realised that we had made a serious mistake and took it down from our website within hours.

We also issued a statement apologising but there has subsequently been quite a lot of negative comment, particularly on blogs, and understandable concern from others working hard to build support for action on climate change.

We are also sorry to our corporate sponsors, delivery partners and board members, who have been implicated in this situation despite having no involvement in the film’s production or release.

I am very sorry for our mistake and want to reassure you that we will do everything in our power to ensure it does not happen again.

10:10 is a young and creative team but we will learn lessons from this. We are going to investigate what happened, review our processes and procedures, and share the results with our partners. Responsibility for this process is being taken by the 10:10 board of directors.

This media coverage for this film was not the kind of publicity we wanted for the cause of saving the climate, nor for 10:10, and we certainly didn’t mean to do anything to distract from all the efforts of those in other organisations who are working so hard to secure effective action on climate change.
If you have been in touch with us personally about the film, we will be replying to individual emails over the next few days. I’m sorry not to have emailed you about this more quickly - although I have followed developments closely, I’ve been working from home with a four-week-old baby. I thank you for your patience and your support for the 10:10 campaign.

Eugenie Harvey
Director 10:10 UK

Thank you for the apology, Miss Harvey, but it came a bit late in the day and looks born less of contrition than desperately trying to save your organisation's backside.  For a brief moment, 10:10 allowed the mask to slip and showed itself for a collection of totalitarians who fantasize about executing all those who do not surrender their souls to the Revolution. All that was missing was the exulting about the Year Zero while stacking skulls in the Cambodian jungle. Quite frankly, I regard 10:10 as I would if the Bolsheviks had said they were "just kidding" about the street executions.  I reject your organisation, your philosophy, your ends, and most especially your means.  To paraphrase Chesterton, what 10:10 needs is to get a new soul.

If you really wish to make amends, please disband.