Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Welcome, fellow programmes

The Large Hadron Collider comes online and the world does not vanish into a black hole.

This failure is conclusive proof that the Universe is a giant simulation operating within a hypercomputer.

Warning from space...between the ears

BBC headline:
Greenpeace issues warning about data centre power
Tell me, BBC and Greenpeace, is that "warning" as in "advises" or "warning" as in "or else?" If the former, we can safely ignore it and if the latter, then the Beeb and Greenpeace need reminding that Greenpeace is not a branch of government and "or else" is not taken lightly in a civilised society when uttered by private citizens.

Laying a poor foundation

Trying to attack the Conservative leader for allegedly wearing make up in an advert has to be the silliest idea in the history of politics.

Politicians have been wearing make up in front of cameras ever since Richard Nixon refused it when he debated John Kennedy on television and came across as unshaven and sweaty–an image that lost him the election. If nothing else, it's a ploy so open to counterattack that it's a bit like building a bunker out of spun sugar.

Robo Jews

They celebrate Passover; hunt for Sarah Connor–but not on Saturday.

I'm going to get in trouble over this.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

New domain

As you may have noticed, Ephemeral Isle has moved to a new domain. This isn't due to some sudden urge to relocate to another corner of the Internet, but because Blogger has decided to stop supporting FTP. I looked into other options, but all of them were even more disruptive and fraught with the probability of failure than a simple move to blogspot, so here we are. As far as I'm concerned, this blog is still a part of and will continue to operate that way.

Sorry about not giving more notice about the move, but Blogger started the migration before I was even aware of it. Anyway, update you bookmarks and ever onward.

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1970s house

I came across this clip from BBC Four's 1970s House while looking up other things. As usual with this format, this 21st century family living in (insert period) home is as predictable as ever. The period is distilled into a concentrated morass of fashion and technology that no one actually suffered under (a bit like running into the statistical "average man"). The producers forgot that most people even back then thought the decor and clothing foisted on them were pretty horrible and that however much some radio stations played it, rock and disco weren't as popular as we've been led to imagine in retrospect.

Our modern family aren't exactly Sapphire and Steel when it comes to time travel (did they get a look in?). They seemed less inclined to understand their parents' or grandparents' era than to whine about the primitive technology, lower living standards, and lack of properly enforced Newspeak directives. At least in the real 1970s the kids didn't grumble at their parents like they were flatmates. They had there own forms of demonic torments to unleash.

I found the conniption fit over the lack of central heating particularly amusing. Here in bleeding-edge technology Chez Szondy we turned off the central heating years ago and never looked back. The fireplace and oil-electric heaters do the job just fine and at half the cost. As for the real 1970s, we didn't have central heating, but we did have small coal-burning fireplaces in all the rooms, but they dated back to when they were installed in the age of Queen Victoria in a farmhouse that dated back to the Stuarts. History, BBC Four; they had that in the 1970s, too.

And they missed the obvious point that the Ford Cortina was a piece of rubbish even by the standards of the day.

As for the most egregious failing, I will not have the Teasmade mocked! Behold in all its true glory:

Edible gold paint

Presenting edible spray-on gold paint.

Winner of the 2010 Utterly Disgusting Award.

Doner kebab robot

The perfect mate to the bar-tending robot. Makes donor kebabs; hunts for Sarah Connor–after the pub-closing rush, of course.

Monday, 29 March 2010


This would never happen at Chez Szondy because:
  • I never drink coffee at home unless pecan pie is involved.
  • I make the morning tea owing to the lack of a Teasmade.
  • If the wife ever substituted caffeine-free for the real thing, she'd be wondering why I was lying face down on the carpet at nine in the morning.

Whither Britain?

I've often wondered about what would be the worst case scenario for Britain if the Jihadist threat continues to be downplayed as a mere criminal matter divorced from any other concern. Gates of Vienna looks at the question and comes up with what I'd call the third-worst outcome.

God preserve us from it, because the unwanted repercussions of the cure would be with us centuries after the disease was gone. As I keep saying, we only have the alternative between bad choices now and impossible choices later.

Browsers as transport

Where, I ask, is the Austin 7 of browsers?

For thee, but not for me

Who should be made to ride second class?

Members of Parliament who abdicated their power to an unelected Brussels elite and then proceeded to plunder their expense accounts like their personal bank?

Don't be ridiculous!

Military officers who actually do a job of work in defence of the realm in the face of insane budget cuts and command one of the few institutions that still embody traditional British values despite decades of social engineering?

Of course!

The darkening continent

3,000 White farmers have been murdered in South Africa since 1994. Is it the next Zimbabwe?

Sub-Saharan Africa is sliding back into barbarism and once prospering nations are turning into impoverished hellholes where the only equality is universal misery–unless you're a member of the Mercedes-driving elite, of course. Not that the West gives a damn anymore, since the oppressors are now an acceptable hue. Pity about all those Whites, Indians, and Chinese who have to flee for their lives or the Blacks who have nowhere to go to except the kingdom of another tyrant, but as Stalin said about eggs and omelettes...

Friday, 26 March 2010

Avatar 2

Don't give Cameron any ideas.

Apollo 13 revisited

What's all this Ron Howard stuff? I was there, young man.

I'm not surprised that the actual fate of Apollo 13 would have been different than what was projected back in 1970. Since the crew was rescued, the old orbit suddenly became less interesting. Mind you, since the crew would have ended up just as dead, it isn't much of an alteration.

Orbital mechanics are always a bugger.

Earth Hour 2010

Earth Hour:Light a searchlight for sanity.

Tomorrow at 20:30 Zulu Time is Earth Hour, the annual hour when worshipers of Blessed Gaia prissy busy-bodies concerned citizens of the world show their utter divorce from reality self-righteous posturing respect for the environment by turning their lights off for one hour.

Here at Chez Szondy, we will, of course, have so many lights on that the main power lines crossing the valley below will start to glow cherry red.

Trim Jeans Theatre

Accept no substitutes.

Fox cubs adopted by Basil Brush

Your "Awww" photo of the day.

Wham-O Giant Comic

One of the nice things about the Internet is that it allows me to recover all sorts of ephemera from my youth without (and with) shelling out insane amounts of time and money. Latest example, I came across a download for the 1967 premiere and only issue of Wham-O Giant Comics; a comic book so large that you could convert it into an emergency shelter in the event of atomic war.

I regard this as the best buy in comic book history because for only one American dollar you got as veritable library of comic books–at least two of which were drawn by the immortal and slightly immoral Wally Wood.

Will they make a bigger one for fat people?

Urban congestion? Crappy public transport? City governments determined to spend money on Green initiatives, sensitivity training, and outreach centres instead of maintaining roads? According to Obama Motors General Motors the answer is obviously to stuff everyone into a vehicle that is the bastard child of a rickshaw and a G-Wiz.

If only someone could come up with a small transportation device that could move individuals or small groups of people from place to place with speed, efficiency, and flexibility in a way that is not only fun, but enhances basic human freedom.

Or even one of these:

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Rober Culp 1930-2010

Sleep well, Trent.

Futurama 1964

Working on notes for a lecture on Future Past I'm giving tonight, so I'm posting this video of the 1964 GM Futurama exhibit.

Because that's what it's all about.

Or something.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

UK Space Agency

The good news is that Britain has a new space agency. The bad news is that its logo looks like utter drek. No doubt HM government spent a bomb on this graphic disaster, though why is beyond me. Why spend all that money on a load of coloured shards when Britain has had a perfectly good space logo going spare for the past fifty years in Dan Dare's cap badge?

Simple,classic elegant and looks damn good with the uniform. What more could you want?

$&%ing right

The ((&&ing Washington State town of *&$%ing Twisp passes a @*%$ing ordinance against @*$&ing cussing.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Yet again, the cracks widen

Has Germany scuppered the EU superstate before it's had a chance to form?

Sehr gut, Deutschland!

Some more sanity

The shadow defence minister says that Britain's Independent Nuclear Deterrent will be exempt from the upcoming defence review and that a submarine-based system will replace Trident.

Such a display of commonsense is so surprising that I suspect a brain embolism is involved.

Lund Variable Velocity Weapons System

Popular Science takes a look at the Lund Variable Velocity Weapons System, which is able to alter its muzzle velocity to accommodate both lethal and "less than lethal" rounds.

It's not a bad report, except for this clanger:
But in reality, a weapon like the LVVWS is likely a long way away from being service ready. For one, gunpowder is a time-tested portable, combustible that, if kept dry, has reliably served infantrymen for centuries; we're not so sure the same can be said for compressed gas cartridges. But more importantly, while range is usually a big factor when less-lethal rounds turn deadly, it's certainly not the only one.
A little update here, gunpowder hasn't been used by the infantry since cordite and its variants hit the market over a century ago.

Twilight: New Moon

Just saw Twilight: New Dawn last night–not, of course, without suitable protection against the expanding suckiness. It doesn't say much for a film series when the only reason you have for watching it is that there's a new Rifftrax.

Extremely funny and a spot-on nailing of this piece of dreck, but why did they have to make a film that validates Bill Corbett going shirtless?

The horror.

If you haven't seen New Moon yet, for heaven's sake don't do so without a thick coating of sarcasm or three-inch lead plates. I didn't think it was possible to make a worse film than Twilight, but Summit Entertainment seem determined to prove me wrong. There's no point summarising the plot or criticising its miserable dramatic arc because you'll be comatose before you get that far. It's far more interesting to ask why the actors playing the Red Indian werewolves had to produce papers proving that they were Indians, but none proving that they were werewolves. Seems a bit lax to me.

Dialogue? It should be grounds for prosecution with gems like:
The absence of him is everywhere I look.
There's worse, but I don't want to be responsible for any convulsions. Then, of course there's the bad acting, cheap CGI, amateurish make up, a director who has a weakness for camera gags right out of a cartoon, and the most unlikeable main character since Dean Martin stopped doing Matt Helm films. It was also reportedly edited in the backseat of a car and looks it.

In other words, pure rat kibble that makes Bert I Gordon look like Otto Preminger. If you do want to risk seeing it, I highly recommend getting the number of a survivor's support group first.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Another nail

The horror... the horror.

Too true

American? Got private health insurance? Not for long, laddie. Welcome to the welfare state.

Either the Democrats are run by Socialists who will stop at nothing , including political suicide, to grab power or they're a load of incompetent boobs who can't see the train headed for them. I'm not sure which is giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Update: Happy Dependence Day.

Update: Crossing the Rubicon.

Raise shields

Britain develops a force field.

Now if they can just remodulate the phase inversion sequencing.

The thin red line

British troops will march in Red Square for the first time in history to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

I'll be impressed if they do so again next year to mark the end of the Cold War–with or without Mr Putin's permission. Special bonus points if the Russian government finally lays that wax mummy to rest in his home town and razes the pile he's currently occupying so the Communists can join their Nazi brethren on the ash heap of history.

Cyborgs and the bacon question

Never mind the time factor, how is the wife going to feel about being married to what's effectively a Cyberman.

Telephones...of the FUTURE!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Office...of the FUTURE!

Oh, and a bit of neutrino astronomy with some microelectronics for good measure.

Gets a bit boring, all this futuristic efficiency. Ah, the innocent days of the early computer age before PowerPoint came along to fill all those lovely, lonely hours.

Nuts in May

The Telegraph is right: Scratch a worshiper of Blessed Gaia, find a bully.

Home computers...of the FUTURE!

Not bad. Need to work on that interface, though.

Pens...of the FUTURE!

A solar-powered pen that sets your letters on fire as you write them and a dictaphone/scriptwriter that I'm not sure qualifies as a pen. Nice, but they still don't rise to the standards of the dreaded atomic pen.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Riding the rails for a fall

Red China plans to build three gigantic high-speed railway lines spanning from Shanghai to London and clear down to Burma--and plan to construct the whole thing within a decade.

I recommend standing well back as the entire scheme comes apart at the seams, as the shrapnel tends to carry.

A slight error

Somali pirates attack a defenceless merchant ship only to discover that it was HNLMS Tromp.

And didn't they end up feeling silly.

Mabel & colour telly

Tomorrow's World in 1966 looks at Mabel, the wonder robot of 1976 and the latest advance in colour television–sort of.

Sarah Connor reported unconcerned about cut-rate Dalek

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day from Ephemeral Isle.

Detective Inspector Hunt, call your service

United States Attorney General Holder on Osama bin Laden being read his Miranda rights:
The reality is that we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden. He will never appear in an American courtroom.
An interesting choice of words. Does that mean that Mr Barack Hussein Obama's policy is officially one of "shoot to kill" or that bin Laden will have an "accident" in the cells?

Just curious.

As We May Think

Dr Vannevar Bush's 1945 Life Magazine look at the future complete with forehead cameras.

Our heartless friends

The Age of the Robot circa 1963.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Another nail

New Labour has enough money to keep a raving Jihadist on the dole, but not enough to allow the Royal Navy to cement international relations, and be decent hosts, by offering guests a drink.

Priorities, I suppose.

Rocket catcher

Rocket catcher. Okay. Right. You might want to go away and think this thing through a bit more before applying for those grants.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The Church of Obama

It was only a matter of time.

Blanket repeal bill

The single most brilliant legislative idea I've heard in thirteen years.

And Jeremy Clarkson suggested it first

Enough to drive one to drink

The British government plans to lower the drink drive limit to less than a pint of beer.

You can, however, have as much Soma as you like.

Update: The Great Police Terror.

Update: More than meets the eye.

Beyond the Peter Principle

A classic example of Feminism trumping common sense. I have extreme doubts about this woman holding a commission, much less being in charge of a ship of the line. But that's what happens when you are more afraid of a bad political rating from the Commissar than of losing a ship.

Peter Graves 1926-2010

Friday, 12 March 2010


A jacket that turns into a sleeping bag and tent.

I don't know about camping, but I could have used one on a couple of pub crawls back in the '80s.

Beware of the blob

It's been bucketing down here at Chez Szondy and as I was walking through the garden yesterday I came across these blobs of clear jelly all over the front lawn. Partly out of curiosity and mainly out of fear that these were the vanguard of an alien invasion force, I inspected the watery little interlopers more closely.

At first I thought that the dogs had somehow got their hands on a cold pack and torn it to shreds, but I couldn't find any fragments of plastic bags and the dogs weren't acting the slightest bit guilty (I can always tell when Little Ann has got into the rubbish or raided the bread bin, because she's nowhere to be found). I soon ruled out the jelly falling from the trees or being thrown from the road. I was about to get in the car and flee for the hills before the onslaught of the Martians when I realised that all the jelly was sitting on the thinned-out lawn patches that I'd reseeded last week. A compartment opened in that lumber room I call a brain and recalled a tidbit of information I'd skimmed across.

Five minutes later, a quick googling and I had the answer. It seems that the grass seed that I'd planted not only included fertilizer, but something called polyacrylamide gel, better known as "water crystals." They're a kind of polymer crystal that absorb an insane amount of water and basically act as little canteens for the grass seeds. Very clever, that.

Of course, I could be wrong. In which case, I'm living the first ten minutes of a Hammer sci fi epic.

Take it with a grain of... something

A New York City Assemblyman wants to ban all salt from all cooking and food preparation in all New York restaurants. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in howls of anger from cooks and bakers about how the honourable member has no understanding of how food chemistry works.

This episode should be preserved for all time (in brine, preferably) as a perfect example of a nanny-state politician who knows absolutely nothing about real life, yet regards himself competent to micromanage every aspect of society because he is convinced that the people are so stupid that they'd forget to breathe if the government didn't tell them to.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Staying classy

Mr Sean Penn says that people who call President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela a dictator should be thrown in prison.

Oddly, I thought that sort of thing was what defined a dictatorship.

On the other hand, Mr Penn prefers that his critics die "screaming of rectal cancer."

Such a gentleman.

For sale

What is billed as "the world's oldest flying car" (though I suspect that depends on your definition) is up for sale.

Mind you, there's no indication that the thing has ever actually flown, nor that this 21-foot long, seven-foot wide conveyance would have made it past the first hedgerow, so both "flying" and "car" are more theoretical than actual.


I remember this one from my days studying robotics at university. I always felt that what it really needed was one of these:

Today, it would even be able to spot door knobs, which is not as fun as blowing the door open, but can be used to heighten suspense.

Iron Man 2

The new Iron Man trailer. I don't know if this will be any good, but at least the writers were smart and Tony Stark is still a jerk.

Guaranteed Oscar trailer

Unfortunately, it works just like this.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Hit 'em with your handbag

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi calls for Jihad against Switzerland. America jumps into action in defence of civilisation–and apologises to Gaddafi.

That's what I love about Mr Barack Hussein Obama; his steely resolve in the face of the enemy.

Retreat, Earthmen! Horror awaits you!

The most accurate account of a First Contact scenario ever made.


Baroness Ashton shows what a political powerhouse she is by telling all those nasty people to stop picking on her.