Thursday, 31 March 2011

RFA Largs Bay

With all the misery over the decommissioning of HMS Ark Royal, I forgot to give room for RFA Largs Bay.  At least Ark Royal got a decent run for her money.  The £309 million Larg Bay is getting the chop after only five years.

I have condiments older than that!

Quote of the day

In some parts of the country these are the new establishment. You go to a cocktail party, you are not going to bump into captains of industry, it’s hello, I’m the chief executive of the local health service, hello I’m the chief executive of the local council, hello I’m the chief executive of the local authority — these are the ruling elite. I mean damn it, all we need to do is give them a dacha and the revolution is complete. And those folks are on £230,000. Take a pay cut!
Eric Pickles

Miliband to marry

Mr Edward "Ed" Miliband announces that he will marry his "partner" in May.

I find it telling that in modern, go-ahead Britain a man can have two children by a woman, overlook the little detail of marrying her, and not see his political career go into the toilet. It wasn't that long ago that any politician with a survival instinct superior to a lemming's would have at least practiced the tribute that hypocrisy pays to virtue and hit the altar before the birth of Son No. 1.  Having failed to do so both times and going on to become Labour leader, Mr Miliband is like a lemming that jumped off the cliff, landed on a motorway, wandered through an abattoir, took a short cut through an animal shelter specialising in rabid dogs that haven't been fed in a week, made it to town unscratched, and was given the Lemming of the Year award.

I can't decide if it says more about how decadent our society has become*, how low a standard we've come to hold politicians to**, or the utter contempt that the Political Class hold for the opinions of Outer Party members***.   At least Mr Lloyd George was discreet with his mistresses.

As usual, The Daily Mash has its finger on the pulse of the story.

*As in, for a man who seeks to become Prime Minister perhaps his getting a woman pregnant twice and not marrying her may indicate a lack of character–or at least decisiveness.

**i.e., "It doesn't matter, they're all bottom feeders anyway.

***"Okay, so what if I eat the odd baby for breakfast?  What are you going to do about it?"


From the BBC:
Self-test health kits could do more harm than good, consumer group Which? has warned.
In? other? news?, the? BBC requests? applications? from? anyone? interested? in? taking? over? the? post? of? copy? editor?.   The? current? one? can't? tell? a? word? from? a? logo?.


Yanko Design (the DREADCO of the design world) present the Tofi; a yacht that divides opinion cleanly three ways.  Is its most distinct feature that:
  • It is irredeemably hideous?
  • It is less seaworthy than a Buggatti Veyron?
  • Its designer hasn't the first clue about shipbuilding or nautical terminology?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


After the Fukushima reactor complex was hit by the double whammy of earthquake and tsunami, the MSM went into overdirve trying to whip up panic.  After a week, this became impossible to sustain, though the likes of the Grauniad still try.*

Small wonder that there was a wave panic buying of things like iodine tablets and Geiger counters.  Things got so bad that people were ordering them as far away as Paris.  I'm not sure if this is due to ignorance or pure superstition (Yes, science can generate it as much as any other cause; maybe more).

According to Modern Mechanix, the Greatest Generation didn't sit around fretting about the lack of counters on ebay, they went out and built their own.

Me?  I'm waiting until reality and buyers remorse kick in.  There are going to be a lot of cheap secondhand counters out there in a few weeks.

* Hint:  If the scare lede is followed by an interview with an expert who isn't within three thousand miles of Japan using the words like "could", "may", and "indicate", that's when the scepticism circuit should kick in.

Port Kesennuma struck by tsunami

No matter how many times you hear the word "tsunami" or look it up in the dictionary, you have no idea what it means until you see one.

Our prayers are with them.

Plastic bananas

Brazilian scientists claim that it's possible to produce plastics from bananas, pineapples, and coconuts.  Actually, you can make plastics out of any organic material. It's just a question of how many steps you want to take. Methane is as good a starting point as a banana, but why go for abundant fossil fuels when you can jam food prices into the stratosphere?

I particularly like this take from Dvice regarding the banana plastic's resistance to heat:
Can you see a car that doesn't instantly catch on fire and explode in a car crash? We can.

So can I.  It's what happens in the vast majority of car crashes that don't involve rear-ended Pintos.  I think that someone has been seeing too many bad movies where a car flies off a cliff and explodes in midair.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


The Telegraph has an article about the capabilities of the Typhoon fighter plane, which they refer to as a "one-crew" aircraft.

On a fairly obvious point, though, they are a bit remiss about telling you how big that one crew is.

PETA's prayer

"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"
PETA demands asks for a less "species-ist." translation of the Bible. No doubt they'd rather the apple to be swapped for a pork chop.

Personally, I'd prefer Exodus 22:18 changed to, "Thou shalt not suffer a Vegan to open his yap without telling him to go boil his head."

The EU as King Canute

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a G-Wiz banging into a human shin— forever.
They may as well call for an end to wars and large subsidised chocolate cakes for pre-school infants.

The European Commission, who are the real rulers of the European Empire Union, has issued a proclamation that all diesel and petrol powered vehicles are to be banned from EU city centres by 2050.  And that's just the tip of the ice berg.

They might as well just issue internal passports and be done with it.  I don't know what is more daft about this insane proposal; its grovelling before Lord Summerisle and his ilk, the phenomenal arrogance,  its vile imposition on human freedom, the utter cluelessness as to its feasibility or its impact, that its bloody obvious that the restrictions won't apply to the Inner Party, the fact that it just begs to be ignored, that if successful it will reduce the capitals of Europe to abandoned ruins, the lack of priorities in pushing "green" agendas in the face of economic ruin and looming civil war with the Jihadists, or the profound absurdity of a load of self-appointed Solons issuing decrees in the name of a bankrupt empire that won't even exist by a quarter to the due date. 

When reality thumps this lot, it'll hit hard.

Meat wrap

Once again affirming the modern belief that food should be used for everything except feeding people, we have plastic made from meat.  Oh, and the stuff rots.

I will only endorse this only if a law is passed requiring all Vegan products be packaged in it.  Otherwise, let's stick to reserving food for people and livestock.

Update:  Ban the bag!

Brain waves

Modern Mechanix looks at the time when aviation was new and aeroplanes were mutating like life forms invading a new ecological niche.

HMS Ark Royal on the block

Heart breaking
What is it about Mr David Cameron, boy Prime Minister, and his obsession for scrapping Britain's military assets as fast as possible?  First he cuts the Nimrods and they're literally shredded inside of weeks.  Now HMS Ark Royal is on the auction block and will be sold by mid-June.

I'd hoped that even a wet slap like Mr Cameron would see the folly of his ways after declaring war on Libya.  I'd even imagined that he'd be at least half-way sane and keep Ark Royal in mothballs until the new carriers are finished or someone with an ounce brains replaced him.  But apparently that wasn't enough.

Ah, well.  It's understandable.  Why waste money on national defence when there's a parasitic welfare state to fund?

Meanwhile, the RAF doesn't even have enough pilots to put on an air show.

Update:  What once was–and this is back in 1983 when Mr John Nott was running around with his little ledger.  Today, thanks to Messrs Blair, Brown, and Cameron, we probably haven't enough manpower or national pride left for a busker with a broken guitar.

An acrophobic nightmare

How do you pound tent pegs into steel plates?
Import Export Architecture comes up with a bold, new concept in urban camping. 

Sure to be a magnet for every drug addict, graffiti "artist", and vandal within miles, this tent tower will have residents cheering–as its jagged, rusting struts and platforms are pulled down after condemnation as a safety hazard.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Pooh sticks championship

Charming, but I hear that Pooh sticks matches down in Mexico can get pretty nasty.

Kinetic Mischief

Roger Kimball asks, is Mr Barack Hussein Obama really Emperor Seth?

Earth Hour update

Earth Hour:  What it really advocates.
The best assessment I've seen of Earth Hour from Real Science:

What Makes Earth Hour Fun?

They know the lights will be back on in less than an hour. If they tried Earth Month instead, that would be the end of the global warming religion.

A peaceful demonstration–aside from rioting and pillaging

Mr Edward "Ed" Milliband, having gone off the deep end, thinks that subjecting Britain to a fatal game of Beggar Your Neighbour is the equivalent to the US civil rights movement.  You know, the movement that didn't turn cities into battle zones while screaming cries of "Smash the state!".

I never ceased to be amazed by the brass of the MSM.  If a peaceful conservative demonstration is cursed by one looney with a rude sign about the tree of liberty and the blood of tyrants, we get barrels of ink spilled about the "culture of violence".   If thousands of barbarians riot, smash, pillage, and burn in the centre of London, we're admonished not to think that the day was other than a "family affair" marred by a "few".

Few in this context is a small army.

"Family affair"
On the bright side, if this load of parasites gets their way, we'll see very few such demonstrations in the future–not because the Left will be satiated, but because Britain will be so broke that even the basic infrastructure will collapse.  Demos will then be confined to those who live (or, at least, hide) in the ruins of what was once Westminster.

Friday, 25 March 2011

"Obama is awesome"

Cheese rolling hooliganism & the nanny state

Another nail.
It's come to this.

Red design

Hang on, I had one of these back at Oxford.
Popular Science looks at some of the dafter examples of Soviet design.

So crazy it just might work

That's why Khaddafi is staying home.
Brilliant!  We wait until Barry goes on holiday again and then change all the locks.

We'll be shot of him in a week.

Update: Leadership!

Update: Is Mr Dunham's voting "present" on the war a violation of the Constitution?

Journey to a Bit of the Way in the Earth

Scientists plan to take up where Project Mohole left off and drill their way to the Earth mantle.

It'll all end in tears, I know it.

Search for the Britannic

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Norliss Tapes

Unless you're a freelance writer yourself, you have no idea how annoying 
it is to try to meet a deadline while dealing with the Undead.

I'm a bit busy dealing with the clean up from moving to a new hosting service, so please enjoy this bonus feature while I chase down errant system files.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

When tolerance becomes totalitarianism

Dispatch from MiniTruth:

30 percent of homosexual Outer Party members report thoughtcrime in fellow workers.

Remember: Only total conformity is acceptable.

Professor Frost, call your service

The New York Times looks at free will and presents this jaw dropper (emphasis added):
Now for questions from experimental philosophers:

1) In this deterministic universe, is it possible for a person to be fully morally responsible for his actions?

2) This year, as he has often done in the past, Mark arranges to cheat on his taxes. Is he is fully morally responsible for his actions?

3) Bill falls in love with his secretary, and he decides that the only way to be with her is to murder his wife and three children. Before leaving on a trip, he arranges for them to be killed while he is away. Is Bill fully morally responsible for his actions?
Is Bill being judged illogically? In one way, yes. The chain of reasoning may seem flawed to some philosophers, and the belief in free will may seem naïve to the psychologists and neuroscientists who argue that we’re driven by forces beyond our conscious control — an argument that Bill’s lawyer might end up borrowing in court.

Then there's this, which sums up the attitude of these nihilists:
In one experiment, some people read a passage from Francis Crick, the molecular biologist, asserting that free will is a quaint old notion no longer taken seriously by intellectuals, especially not psychologists and neuroscientists.

"Quaint old notion"? Just how much crack are these people smoking. It's obvious that they are; it's a question of how much. "The belief in free will may seem naïve"? If this is truly how psychologists and neurologists think, then I intend to give them a very wide berth in future. I thought I put this sort of woolly thinking behind me when I stopped teaching undergraduates first year history of science. I don't know what's worse, their idea that there is no such thing as free will or that they explain the belief in it as some evolutionary trick to maintain social order. The first one is bad logic while the second is flat-out wishful thinking wrapped in a Just So story.

Aside from more detailed refutation, which I shall fore go to prevent fits or narcolepsy, this sort of idea is nonsense because it refutes itself. Any argument that attempts to demonstrate the non-existence of reason or to reduce it to a purely mechanistic operation is inherently self-contradictory and therefore invalid because it negates a priori the foundations of any epistemological system upon which it bases itself. That is, if you can reason that there is no such thing as reason, then you cannot regard the conclusion as true because it is the result of unreason. QED. To negate free will is to negate reason because reason cannot exist without it. Therefore, if you can argue that free will does not exist, your argument is invalid because you could make it

It is even more obvious that no one who espouses the claim that free will does not exist cannot believe this because if he did, he wouldn't bother to tell anyone.  Why should one automaton argue with another automaton?  It's pointless.

The other problem I have is that in the experimental example they have got the question wrong. This comparison of tax evasion and murder isn't a question of free will; it's a question of morality.  The tax problem has a grey area because taxes are coercive and collected without individual consent. They may even be punitive, unjust, or  flat-out persecution.  On the other hand, the husband is quite baldly guilty of adultery and premeditated murder.  Regardless, how anyone can claim that free will is not operating or operates differently in either case is beyond me.

Finally, there is the fact that this whole idea is based on three hidden assumptions:  One, that man is not possessed of a soul that is transcendent, hence subject to inherent nature rather than physical forces, and is therefore capable of exercising free will.  Two, that the universe is purely mechanistic (and crudely so) and three, that God does not exist.

God, you see is where all of this truly falls down.  Let us grant for a moment all that these nihilists argue.  Let us agree that man is a mere puppet of impersonal, mechanical forces that make him dance to their blind, mindless tune.  Let us grant that man's every thought, decision, and emotion is also a product of these forces.  Let us concede all of this.  It does the nihilists no good.  If God is in the equation, then He is the Prime Mover from which all these forces emanate.  But God is not mindless nor is He without will.  Far from it.  He is the source and archetype of all will and reason.  Our reason is merely a pale imitation of His created in His image.  These forces exist and operate in accordance with His will and are unable to do otherwise because all action is dependent on Him.  If God, as He has made plain to us, wishes man to have free will, then it is logical to conclude that these forces that the nihilists invoke must conform to God's will, which is to grant man free will.  Short version:  The universe is determinate, but the goal of this determination is to make man free.

I really do wish some of these nihilists worked for me.  I'd cut their pay immediately by 50 percent and when they squawked, I'd blame it on impersonal forces.  I think that their determinism would go South pretty fast after that.


Tracy Schneider takes up the Hunger Action Challenge* and tries to live on a food budget of seven dollars (£4.28) a day for five days.

I find these sort of challenges fascinating–not because they present any sort of actual challenge, but because of what they reveal about people who think that this sort of thing is difficult.  Miss Schneider, for example, starts out by buying a rotisserie chicken and musing about how she can't afford all the ingredients for roasted cauliflower that she found in the New Sonoma Diet cookbook.

What sort of life do people like this lead?  Do they ever cook for themselves?  When I was back at Oxford, my constant companion was Katharine Whitehorn's Cooking in a Bedsitter, which taught how to eat well when your only kitchen consisted of a gas ring and what you can fit in a small cardboard box.  In fact, I still have my copy.  Perhaps it's because I learned how to cook at an early age (Out of self defence.  Mum was a horrible cook.) or that I used to camp a lot and ran a galley aboard  ship once, but I never had any trouble keeping well fed on very little money.  It was largely a matter of budgeting and knowing what to do with food.  And old habits die hard.  Today, I think I could meet Miss Schneider's challenge because the food budget for Chez Szondy is $4.75 (£2.90) per person per day for full week, never mind five days

And I'm pleased to say that we eat very well.  I can even afford a weekly rotisserie chicken, though it does have to last four days before its carcass ends up being rendered for stock.

*Something to do with the American Food Stamps programme, apparently.

Bovine rectal simulator

Bristol University proudly unveils its new bovine rectal simulator.

Those things are great.  We keep one in the garage for children's parties.

Classics for degenerates

The BBC has a point here.  When I read Wuthering Heights, I couldn't help thinking that what kept it from being a true classic was the lack of vile, obscene language.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Extinction or a power vacuum?

Tides come in as well as go out.
A team of "scientists" told a meeting of the American Physical Society that their model shows that religion (by which they mean Christianity, but let's take them at their word) will become "extinct" in countries like the Netherlands.

I've spent the past hour trying to come up with a concise argument against this, such as pointing out that their model fallaciously treats a curve as extending to infinity, that religions and language don't even remotely compare, that the "scientists" are lumbered with hidden assumptions such as treating religion as a mere social construct without objective reality, or that they ignore the fact that God is not a passive factor in the equation.  Then I found the perfect counter that even they might have noticed, at least in regard to religion disappearing in the Netherlands.  I can sum it up in two words:

Allah Akbar!

Gosh, I feel cozy and comfy now.

Where will you be in '73?

That's something I noticed in homes back in 1973: the pronounced lack of control panels.

Something for the glove box

Have you recently purchased a secondhand XB-35 Flying Wing on ebay only to discover that the seller failed to include the instruction manual?

Look no further, for help is here.


Just remember: No matter how bad things look, at least you're not a bald hedgehog in a yellow jumper.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Blessed Gaia hates recycling.

From the sun-kissed islands of Hawaii (known to anyone who's been there for more than a year as the Rock) comes this tale of eco-pointlessness.  Hawaii imports a large amount of crude oil, which it refines in-state.  This is needed mainly to a) run the electrics and b) provide aviation fuel.  These two needs are so dominant that if Hawaii were a closed economy, the oil companies could literally give away the petrol produced as a by product. It's a recycling dream; use the leftovers from oil refining to run cars.  Also, the islands are blessed with an open-plan geography and constant trade winds that waft away any pollutant like half-forgotten dreams upon waking, so exhaust fumes are never a problem.

So, with this marvelous confluence of good fortune, what is Hawaii up to?  Why, promoting electric cars in a major push that, if by some bizarre black miracle is effective, will cripple the electricity industry and leave the oil companies wondering what the blazes to do with all that petrol?

I guess Hawaii doesn't believe in recycling.

Burglar Blaster

A burglar alarm that floods the area with pepper spray.

Why do I see myself becoming the unfortunate centre of a sitcom plot?

Farms... of the FUTURE

Paleo Future looks at farms of the year 2000.

No leadership zone

At least he isn't on the White House balcony with 
a lyre composing an ode* to a burning Washington.

While French, British and American forces enforce the no fly zone over Libya, the Leader of the Free World takes a holiday down in Rio** after an exhausting week of basketball predictions, reminding donors that they shouldn't take the august presence of Mr Barack Hussein Obama for granted, and driving his equally inexperienced Secretary of State spare with his utter inability to make up his mind.  Not only did Mr Obama manage to make Mr David Cameron look like a world leader (something that I thought impossible), but his complete abdication of his responsibility also made the UN look responsible, and even the French courageous.  Unfortunately, his leading from... no not the rear.  Unfortunately, his not leading at all while raiding a Brazilian buffet caused his coalition of the confused to fall apart even as the first bombs fell because the Arab League didn't really think it was anything except bluster.

Okay, let's be fair.  It's not Mr Obama's coalition.  The only reason the United States is in this war is because the women in The One's government insisted–most notably the woman whose foreign policy he ran against in the primary election.  That, and the suspicion that Mr Obama signed the authorisation because he thought someone wanted his autograph.

Though Mr Obama, when he can be bothered, insists that the US is a junior partner, the junior is doing most of the fighting to the point where he's set something of a record for Nobel Peace Prize winners.  He's also driving his base, his media supporters, and even his party 'round the twist.

Meanwhile, the adults are asking what the goal of this exercise is.  Is it to topple Khaddafi (he of many spellings)?  Knock out his air force?  Attack his ground forces?  Protect the rebels?  Act as their air support?  Are we now allied with them?  What if the UN turns chicken?  How long can the Americans remain in theatre without congressional approval?  Is Cameron going to stop taking the stupid pills and recommission HMS Ark Royal and the Harriers?  Is this abandoning of American leadership a disaster or a blessing considering who's at the helm?  What happens if Khaddafi pulls a Saddam and crushes the rebels anyway?  What are the Empty Suit and the Boy Prime Minister going to do?

I'm all in favour of taking out tyrants whenever the opportunity arises, and at gunpoint gets the message across to other potential candidates, but cynical sabre rattling under a load of wet behind the ears governments not lead by a US president who whines incessantly about having to do his homework when he could be out sending autographed photos to himself has Elpinbay written all over it.  This quick exercise in gunboat diplomacy that three great powers have stumbled backwards into may more likely turn out to be exactly the sort of under-committed, hit soft and never have any real goals sort of adventures that spills a lot of blood while leaving the tyrant in question firmly on the throne. It also seems to me that going after the mullahs in Iran before they vanish behind the nuclear umbrella is a far more urgent concern than unseating a psychotic transvestite. 

Welcome to the foreign policy version of those nightmares where you show up for class naked.

Update: The Audacity of Golf.

Update: Meanwhile, off the radar, Egypt takes a step away from despotism and towards totalitarianism.

*Yes, I know. 

**Samba anyone?  Come on, it's not like anyone's going to war or anything!

So much for panic

Click for perspective.
The Japanese restore power to a certain reactor complex and what had the MSM running in circles and screaming has now been shoved back to the comics pages, though the New York Times is giving it the old college try by working up a good scare over minute radioactive traces in a couple of food shipments.

The end result of all of that palaver may have been to set back any responsible energy policy in the West by decades, but at least by forcing people to rely on candles we're erring on the side of safety by preserving human lives.

Or are we?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Site Maintenance

If you've visited over the weekend, you may have noticed that a lot of it is missing.  That's because we're moving it to a new hosting service and the uploads are taking forever.

We apologise for the inconvenience and normal service will resume shortly.

Moon Over Africa - Part 6: Captured by Cannibals

Click title link to listen.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Messenger orbits Mercury

Amazing that we've reached the point where something like this doesn't merit the front page–much less banner headlines

Need to know

Popular Science asks, can a layman* land a passenger jet?

Meanwhile, James May actually supplies an answer.

*They say "layperson", whatever the blazes that is!

Rocket train

The sort of design produced by engineers who haven't grasped the concept of scalability.

Michael Gough (1917-2011)

The actor Michael Gough has passed on.

The BBC calls him the "Batman" actor (which must be as galling as being remembered for Obi Wan Kenobi), but to me, he'll always be the mad doctor from Konga.

Better late than never

Next for the chop.
German Chancellor Merkel caves into anti-progress forces and says that Germany is abandoning nuclear power in favour of "renewables".

Well, there were people after the last war who wanted to make sure it couldn't happen again by deindustrialising Germany and turning it into a agrarian state.  It looks like they've finally got their wish.

Beneath the Frozen World

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Guinness is good for you

National Review Online takes the time to examine whats really important.

As to my answer, Guinness is because God loves us.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day
Ephemeral Isle

Never mind, at least Blessed Gaia smiles

Pepsi announces its new "sustainable" bottle.  Of course, it's made out of food.

A pity.  That bit of nosh could have sustained a few human beings. 

Meanwhile, wholesale food prices make biggest spike in 36 years.  I wonder why?

Britain & the United States: Still separated by a common language. Thank God.

Project Tic Toc

Could the Large Hadron Collider be turned into a time machine?

Well, it looks about right.