Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Solarnauts



One of our recent cinema features on EI was The Night Stalker.  Since it's a slow day, here's a bonus feature: The Solarnauts, an unaired pilot also directed by The Night Stalker's John Moxey

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Race for Television

There's a reason why dodos die

The difference between an Environmentalist and someone who is genuinely concerned about the environment is that the latter isn't pushing an ideological/quasi-religious agenda.  Worshipers of Blessed Gaia run models, project graphs, and make hysterical claims about universal destruction.  An example is this bit of propaganda by the BBC's Richard Black that uses carbon dioxide bubbling out of a volcanic seabed to "prove" that ocean acidification is a major threat.  The only thing it "proves" is that Black failed chemistry because massive amounts of carbon dioxide bubbling into a small area is vastly different from an atmospheric trace gas dissolving in the sea.  But it's backed by computer models, so in Mr Black's world it must be true.

A counter example is this study on extinction that doesn't use the groundless estimates that the Environmentalist spout, but rather looks at exactly how many, where, and how species die off.  It turns out, no surprise really, that species are truly at risk in small, isolated areas (islands) where more advanced predators and competitors are introduced.  Continental species do quite well, thank you.

Back in 1986, the BBC aired an incredible series called The Living Isles that was the sanest bit on how to handle the environment I've ever seen.  The maker, Peter Crawford, stated in no uncertain terms that the British Isles haven't been "wild" since the last ice age and that most of what we think of as "wild" is, in fact, the result of careful cultivation.  The moors, for example, would be forests in a few generations if left to themselves.  In fact, the entire islands would be oak forest from sea to sea were it not for man's hand.

Crawford observes that plants and animals don't give a damn about where their environment comes from; just that it's there.  Plants that live on lava flows are just as happy in a factory slag heap and Peregrine Falcons are quite cheerful about nesting on skyscrapers.  He never uses nonsense terms like "old growth" or "pristine", but says "wild woods" when he means wild woods and he is clear that stewardship of the environment isn't about protecting it from man's contamination, but in cultivating it as a garden–which the British Isles now are.

As to species, Crawford advocates three things:  First, some species are so rare and of so little significance that there's no point in preserving them in the wild.  Second, some are such opportunists that they must be culled like weeds or the skies will be blotted out with seagulls and starlings.  Third, it is not a matter of preservation, but cultivation.

I dearly wish that it was available on DVD or as more than fragments on the Internet.  It would be so nice to hear something else for a change other than the bleatings of anti-human Luddites and neo-feudal elites lusting for a new peasantry to serve them.

“Your papers, mein hare!”

You're goin' down, Houdini!
Mark Steyn looks at the United States Magician's Rabbits Federal Police.  The quote sums up the insanity:
When the brokest nation in history still thinks it can afford to send federal investigators snooping through the back yards of children’s magicians on the off-chance they might be using rabbits on stage, you’ve got to conclude it actively wants to die.

Texting




I know exactly how he feels right down to the punchline.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Don't!

Cosmos Part 7: The Backbone of the Night

Caffeine fiends

Popular Science headline:
Newly Found Species of Bacteria Lives On Pure Caffeine
Big deal; I know undergraduates who do that all the time before exams.

Theatrophone.

Stuck in Paris without your iPod?  And it's 1892? Then you're in luck!  Try the Theatrophone.

Yobot

A New York hotel employs a robot bellboy.

He will not only look after your bags, but for a reasonable tip he knows where you can "get it".

This in from the Satellite of Love

Scientists grow a brain in a bowl.

They don't know where the guy in the cloak and hood came from.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

i'scream

"Renewable" energy projects are all the rage these days and one subset that's spreading like dry rot is the idea of reclaiming energy from passing cars, walking, or whatever.  Strange thing, it isn't that new, as this example courtesy of Hugo Gernsback's Electrical Experimenter from about 1920 shows.

It even has a trendy "i" in front of its name.

Space Coast Guard

Should the United States establish a Space Coast Guard?

Only if they're issued Forbidden Planet-style uniforms and required by regulations to say things like "Jumping planets!" and "Go space yourself!" at regular intervals.

A dead telephone sanitiser? Best kind.

I haven't seen many of these since the "B" Ark left.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Protocol is for little people



Dear Lord, doesn't that man ever do his homework?

But then, he has been a tad nostalgic lately.

Denmark bans Marmite

Of course, you know this means war.

NASA launches space squids



Space squids. Squids in SPAAAAAAAACE!

This won't end well.

Logic free zone

(Picture Mr Bill McKibben lying on his back; screaming himself red in the face and kicking his heels)  "Global warming really, really causes tornadoes and other bad things.  It does!  It does! It does! And if you don't think so, you're just stupid and mean!"

Troy Tempest, call your service

SMX-25
French shipbuilder DCNS is developing a new class of submarines dubbed the SMX-25. Its radical design is intended to give it the edge in anti-ship actions.



And here at EI, we have exclusive footage of the SMX-25 in action.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Cartoon empire


Democracy: Overrated and foolish.

How the European Empire Union would like you to see it.  Let's give the unelected and unaccountable Commission even more power.  They're so much more sensible than those silly men the silly people elect.


And a more realistic view.

AGA Total Control

WHY?!?!
AGA Rangemaster Group presents its newest model:  An AGA with a touchscreen.

I think I'll go somewhere and weep quietly.

Revolutionary figures

What have they got against Thoreau?
For only £145 Mountain Research will send you this lovable set of Thoreau, Marx, Lenin, and Mao action figures.  Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Gulag play set sold separately.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Richard Feynman: No Ordinary Genius


I had the privilege of attending a seminar with Dr Feynman once and a more charming and intelligent man there never was.   He was also never afraid to ask the "stupid" questions that everyone else were too embarrassed to bring up.  One of my favourite moments of the Challenger Disaster inquiries of the 1980s was when Dr Feynman had the guts to speak up and ask what the heck an O ring was.  Turned out, no one else on the panel knew either.

Star Wars grief



For those of you still going through the stages of grief over Star Wars, there's support out there.

Forward into the past

Britain's latest power plant.
Welcome to Britain's energy policy for the 21st century.  Unfortuantely, it reads exactly like one for the 11th.

Will someone please send No. 10 a good dictionary with the definition of "progress" highlighted?

How to Teppanyaki style


The great thing about Youtube is all the great tutorial videos on offer, such as this one that unveils the secrets of one of the more spectacular schools of Japanese Cuisine. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Time off

It's our tenth anniversary, so the wife and I are vanishing for a few days.  The weekend posts have been preloaded and I'll be back on Monday.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A simple one should suffice

Scientists are working on an electronic subsitute for the human brain.  It will be programed to only say "What?" and "Where's the tea?", but who'd know the difference?

They never treated the Justice League this way.

The Elders spring into action.
This headline made my day:
State Department snubs the Elders
There was a chance of an ugly row, but fortunately their nurse lured the Elders away by mentioning that it was rice pudding for lunch today.

To the Wrinklemobile!

The A-Z of political correctness

James Delingpole looks at the language of political correctness.

My only problem with his analysis is that he imagines that there was once a benign intent behind it.  By definition, totalitarianism is the precise opposite.

MtEverClimb

The endless climbing rope; not so much an exercise machine as a recurring nightmare.

German hits robot with bat



I had high hopes for this, but the Teuton just gives the robot a light tap on the arm rather than wailing on the thing until it was a heap of scrap.

Or am I projecting here?

Baron Frankenstein, call your service

Headline from Wired:
Army Wants Soldiers' Heads To Control Robots
What sort of sick, twisted monsters are running the Army's R&D?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Pocket urinal

No, thank you.  Really.  I mean it.

Klaatu barada nikto

A 1978 look at Quasar Industries' Klatu; the incredible robot of tomorrow that proved to be less (a lot less) than what it promised to be.

Fiat Turbina

1955:  The Fiat Turbina, Italy's attempt to harness the jet engine as a replacement for the internal combustion engine, is unveiled.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Euphemism march

First it was "euthanasia", then it was "assisted suicide", now it's "assisted dying", but  at the end of the day, it's still "murder".

I don't mind when activists indulge in rampant euphemisms (or newspeak, to be honest) but when the news media pick it up without a blink, that's when I get worried.

Disassembly

It's not fair.  Todd McLellan does this and everyone thinks he's brilliant.  I did it when I was ten and my Dad chased me around the garden with a stick.

Why modern art isn't

Rome 1508:  Pope Julius II meets Leonardo da Vinci.
Pope Julius II:  Master Leonardo, what would you suggest for redecorating the Sistine Chapel?
Leonardo da Vinci:  I dunno, pouring 1100 litres of rancid peanut butter on the floor?
Pope Julius II:  I think I'll go see Michelangelo.

Clive Sinclair, the anatomy of an inventor

Friday, 13 May 2011

We're back

Blogger has finally come back on line, but too late for today's entries.

Anyone up for a spot of torches and pitchforks?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The deadline cometh

One of the banes of the writer's life is the deadline.  I'm facing one today, so posting will be light.

Electric dog

Via cyberneticzoo.com, who have a pdf of the original article.
Don't be too impressed,  he pees battery acid on every bush in the garden.

Shale gas is the devil's fumes

Gas of evil!
The other day I talked about how shale gas is a promising new source of energy that can keep civilisation going for centuries.  I also said that, for this reason, the environmentalists hate it.

Sure enough, the BBC declares shale gas to be evil in the sight of Blessed Gaia–worse than coal, in their words.  It's so evil that it will SET YOUR SINK ON FIRE!

I expect scaremongering from the Beeb, but at least do it with some sort of subtlety. 

Joke science



An American professor tries to uncover the secrets of humour.

This is one avenue of research that we dare not go down.  The impact of such discoveries could be devastating.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Britain says "No"

I was going to say "Please give us a referendum", but that isn't good enough.

Just leave the Empire.  One afternoon's repealing of a few acts and that's all it takes. 

Religious in-discrimination


I always thought this was a BBC interlude. Turns out, it's a call to prayer.
Mark Steyn wades into the morass of a recent British court rulings that declares support for public broadcasting and belief in global warming to be religions deserving of more protection than Christianity gets in Britain.
Mr. Blair’s ministry introduced the “religious discrimination” law in 2003. Given that, with the exception of its many firebreathing imams, post-Christian Britain is a land without faith, it was entirely predictable that the law would wind up protecting the anything they do believe in.
...
If you look at these decisions in toto — from “climate change” to “public service broadcasting” — we are about two judges away from having the entire program of leftist conventional wisdom ruled a state church. 
I'd call this the law of unexpected consequences except that this is exactly what anyone with a grasp of logic and the left-wing mindset would see happen.

I recall back in the '80s watching a comedy programme where they had a sight gag showing a clutch of BBC executives kneeling in worship before a candle-lit shrine to Terry Woggin.  It now look as though that wasn't so much a joke as a prediction.

Update: Cranmer neatly sums up the situation.

When science goes boing

Electronic Bed (details)

Electronic Bed
JF Ptak Science Books LLC looks at some of Hugo Gernsback's less serious predictions.

I quite like the assembly line beautician.

Revelations

It seems that Brannagh missed a golden opportunity for the Pope to do a cameo spit take.

I saw Thor last weekend with the daughter and I wonder if I'm the only one to worry about the theological implications of a film that shows that:
  • God exists
  • He's Odin
  • He's the Marvel Comics version of Odin.
To quote Tom Servo, If this is the one true religion, I'm going over to the Dark Side, real fast.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Feature, not a bug

Dr Clare Gerada, the chair of the Royal College of GPs on NHS reform:
I would hope that during this pause the government will reflect on what we're all saying and will rewrite the part of the Bill that is actually risking the NHS and risking the NHS being unravelled irreversibly for ever.
She's saying this like it's a bad thing. For me, it's a goal.  So long as the British taxpayer no longer has to pay for the bloated, useless monster, I'd say it's time to get the State out of the health care business (and all other business, for that matter), give the people back their money, encourage private charities, competitive insurance companies and free markets to the utmost, and pop the Champagne.

By the bye, "the chair?"  The College must have fallen on hard times.  When I was last there, they had hundreds of chairs–some of them quite comfy.  Now they have only the one and... Oh, I see.  I think they mean chairlady, but the poor dears are too shy to say it.

Germany has a touch of the vapours

Modern Germany
I've spoken a couple of times last week about the importance of not just defeating the Jihadists, but of handing them a humiliating defeat. Will this work?  I offer this example of what's possible.

Tripods: The only truly "green" technology.

Shale gas holds out the promise of clean, abundant energy that could last the world for centuries.

The Environmentalists hate it with the same unbridled passion that they do nuclear and conventional energy sources, so it must work.  Meanwhile, the worshipers of Blessed Gaia, as opposed to proper Conservationists, unveil their vision of our future–after the slow, horrible deaths of six billion people by famine, of course.


Video replaced with link because the embedded player wouldn't play nice

If the  hard-core "Greens" had their way, this would be our future–right down to the Caps.

Another nail

The hammer hasn't fallen yet, but the MoD is once again threatening to disband the Red Arrows so that fit young layabouts and crazed Jihadist imams can keep getting their sacred giro cheques.

Maybe they should consider cutting something that might save a bit more money than the Red Arrows' £8 million.  Might I suggest the £9 billion sent to the European Empire EU every year for nothing in return except tyranny?

Europe Day

Directive from Minitru for Monday, 9 May.

Attention all Outer Party Members:

Spontaneous celebrations of joy and unqualified approval are required today to show our unreserved support for the Party and the European Empire.  Failure to sufficiently demonstrate your love for your masters in Brussels will be regarded as thoughtcrime and Goldsteinism.  

Minitru also reminds Outer Party Members that Europe Day is a real holiday unlike Christmas or Easter and that, despite the ungood decision of Airstrip One's provisional governor,  it is a tradition to fly the EU flag.  We fly the EU flag.  We have always flown the EU flag.

You must not just obey Big Brother.  You must love him.

Microworld



A 1980 tour of our digital future lead by William Shatner.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

AV rejected

RESULT!

The AV referendum that the Liberal Democrats insisted on as their price for joining the coalition has been overwhelmingly rejected.  This means that Britain can still elect governments that are, at least theoretically, accountable to the people rather than an unending stream of backroom deals.  As a bonus, Mr Nicholas Clegg comes off looking like a right nana and is convinced that nobody likes him.
On the down side, the SNP hold a majority in the Scottish parliament for the first time, which means that the United Kingdom is now that much closer to dissolution--a threat that was regarded as the stuff of cranks until New Labour brought in devolution.

Thank you very much, Mr Blair.  By once again fixing what wasn't broken you've turned a settled issue into a crisis.

The Lost City - Chapter 1

Spectre

Friday, 6 May 2011

Paperweight

How insensitive.
Mark Steyn on how Jihadists were treated in a more civilised age and the result:
When it comes to instructive analogies, I prefer Khartoum to cartoons. If it took America a decade to avenge the dead of 9/11, it took Britain 13 years to avenge their defeat in Sudan in 1884. But, after Kitchener slaughtered the jihadists of the day at the Battle of Omdurman in 1897, he made a point of digging up their leader the Mahdi, chopping off his head and keeping it as a souvenir. The Sudanese got the message. The British had nary a peep out of the joint until they gave it independence six decades later — and, indeed, the locals fought for King and (distant imperial) country as brave British troops during World War II. Even more amazingly, generations of English schoolchildren were taught about the Mahdi's skull winding up as Lord Kitchener's novelty paperweight as an inspiring tale of national greatness.

Not a lot of that today. It's hard to imagine Osama's noggin as an attractive centerpiece at next year's White House Community Organizer of the Year banquet, and entirely impossible to imagine America's "educators" teaching the tale approvingly. So instead, even as we explain that our difficulties with this bin Laden fellow are nothing to do with Islam, no sir, perish the thought, we simultaneously rush to assure the Muslim world that, not to worry, we accorded him a 45-minute Islamic funeral as befits an observant Muslim. That's why Pakistani big shots harbored America's mortal enemy and knew they could do so with impunity.
 Short version, showing strength wins respect; showing weakness wins contempt.

Update:  Michael Walsh adds this point, which I've been arguing since my university teaching days–though I would stress "humiliating" rather than "decisive" defeat:
From Charles Martel at Tours in 732 to Sobieski at Vienna in 1683 to Kitchener at Omdurman, nothing has had a greater calming effect on the Muslim world than decisive defeat. Yes, bin Laden was still exercised about the 15th-century Spanish reconquest of el-Andalus, but his animus died with him. Now the Muslim world must decide whether the war shall continue.

A raid like Sunday’s (a tip of the hat, by the way, to the peerless helicopter pilots of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, formed in the wake of the Carter-era Iran-hostage-rescue disaster) will go a long way to pacifying non-jihadis, who understand that they are no match for American power and will only suffer should the radicals succeed in making this a conflict of Islam vs. the West.

That is, it doesn’t have to come down to a Kitchenerian slaughter. All that “the Islamic world” needs to accept and understand is that its Mahdi is not coming.

Hmm... Uh...What?

Mr Barack Hussein Obama is back on form... Unfortunately.

Alternative alternatives

Distilling for Blessed Gaia.
Scottish distilleries in Speyside announce that beginning in 2013 they'll be using residuals from whisky distilling as a sustainable fuel.

It always warms my heart to see innovators finding ways to come up with fuels to meet our growing energy needs–especially sustainable fuels.  In the spirit of helpful helpfulness, I'd like put forward my own small list of sustainable fuels that I've discovered are cheap, efficient, clean if properly used, and abundant enough to last us for the millennia, which is a pretty good definition of "sustainable".  The fuels are:
  • Oil
  • Natural gas
  • Coal
  • Uranium
  • Thorium
With all this, it's curious that Scotland is taking such a retrograde step of going back to the equivalent of peat burning.  Come on, you Hibernians, and join the rest of us in the 21st century.  You helped create the Industrial Revolution, why not enjoy it's benefits?

(Yes, I am being sarcastic.  If the distilleries were presenting this as a practical way to turn rubbish into cash, like the old-fashioned wheeze of feeding spent mash to pigs, I'd have no objections, but this endless stream of "alternatives" that are nothing but expensive, pointless "green" gestures strikes me as pure waste–the unrecyclable kind.)