Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hybrid Thermal Airship

i
A Boeing project that never got off the drawing board, which is a pity.  It not only has hybrid thermal lift technology, but also ships some pretty sweet terawatt-power death rays.

And I'm pretty sure it could dock inside of the hollowed out volcano.

Efficency

What's the easiest way to board a passenger plane?  My plan is to avoid flying in anything except the smallest craft available or avoiding flying altogether.  Or you can use this particle physicist's idea:
In his method, first, alternate rows on one side of the plane board, but just the window seats. Then the other side boards, in alternate rows with one row between each passenger. Again, window seats only. Then back to the other side, with the middle seats this time. And so on. The result is a beautiful choreography as rows of passengers simultaneously stow their luggage and take their seats in tandem. The reason why it works is because it makes optimum use of the aisles, allowing each passenger to freely flow from the center aisle, to luggage stow, to their seat. There's maximum elbow room, and minimum crotch and butt scraping.
Clever clock.

Did humans mate with Neanderthals?

I'd say that the answer is a categorical yes, otherwise there's no logical explanation for Big Wilf propping up the bar down the Dog & Duck.

Drinking Culture

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Chatbots chatting


What happens when you hook up two chatbots and they start disappearing up their own conversational fundaments.

Great Courses

The overwhelming problem in higher education today is that the humanities has all but abandoned teaching the canon of Western civilisation in favour of senseless, vapid, left-wing agitprop that amounts to little more than intellectual masturbation.  If the civilised world is ever to right itself, academia must once again embrace the ideas of greatness, wisdom and beauty.  How to do this doesn't lend itself to any simple answer, but story of the Great Courses companies shows that when the Canon is placed beside "studies" in a free market, the Canon wins hands down.

It's not perfect, but it shows that the stranglehold of the anti-civilisation types is not unchallengeable.   

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe: Chapter 3

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bedlam from balderdash

The hype, I mean heat, is driving me mad, I tell you!
The Environmentalists now claim the global warming, sorry, "climate change" is driving people stark, staring mad.  with Mr Erik Jensen in the Sydney Morning Herald claiming that it's responsible for galloping suicide rates, schoolchildren showing post traumatic stress syndromes in numbers normally only seen in people who rode out a carpet bombing inside a cement mixer and 20 percent of the population plunged into the depths of "emotional injury, stress and despair".

That's pretty good for a phenomenon whose salient feature is a singular refusal to manifest itself.  And I rather suspect that if anyone is being "traumatised" (wretched sciencism), it's a reaction to warmenist propaganda.  If Mr Jensen et al wish to find madness induced by global warming, they should look in the mirror.  Then they might be able to tell the difference between argument and flat-out scaremongering.

Next up:  Global warming causes invasion of bogey men and marked increase in nasty somethings lurking under children's beds.

Update:  Speaking of scaremongering, let's pop over to the New York Times for a spot of making mountains out of tropical storms.

Soylent Green is people!

And attractively packaged for enhanced consumer awareness!

Skippy the Pervy Kangaroo

He has issues.
A man had a pet.

Nothing strange there.

It was a kangaroo.

Unusual, but not strange.

In Prague.

Still not too off.

It escaped.

These things happen.

The police caught it.

Well done.

Stealing lady's undergarments.

Pardon?

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Friday, 26 August 2011

A slap in the face

And there won't be any of those nasty prayers either.
Going to the 9/11 memorial service in New York?  If you're a clergyman or a first responder like the ones who died that day, don't bother.  You're not welcome.

I always said, show me a man who cares more about salt than bed bugs and I'll show you a bounder.

Science and secularism

Christianity (especially the fundamentalist variety) is the domain of superstition while secularism is the pure child of Science.  According to Robert Weissberg, not quite:
Ironically, liberal attackers are guilty of far greater unscientific dogmatism, sloppy thinking, and mind-boggling confusion but fail to notice it thanks to a manufactured respectability that deters -- if not forbids -- close inspection. Worse, judged by the unforgiving standards of science, the liberal creed may be far wackier (and factually incorrect) than any assertion about God creating the world in seven days. The war between secular liberalism and evangelical fundamentalism is a battle between competing dogmas, not science versus religious hokum.
What people tend to forget is that many of the crimes of Christianity were really committed by those who merely usurped its mantle of authority.  The same holds true with science, which is a much smaller and threadbare garment.  As to Christian fundamentalism, that's a much more recent phenomenon than the secularism it rose in reaction too and has its own problems, but at least it doesn't shoot itself so squarely in the foot.

La mort du français

It's not all bad news after all.  I'm not surprised that French is losing out to English as the (pardon me) lingua franca.  I think that it has a lot to do with how snobbish the French are about their language.  Last time I was in France, even little babies would speak nothing but French to me.

Connections Part 7: The Long Chain

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Both spared?

There's a chance that the Royal Navy will place both Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers on active duty instead of mothballing HMS Prince of Wales literally before the paint dries.

Only a chance, but at least there's a glimmer of hope that Her Majesty's government has a room temperature IQ.

SAM


Meet SAM (AKA Self-propelled Anthropomorphic Manipulator).  It was developed by NASA in 1969 for work in outer space and I must admit that I prefer it to that twee humanoid teleoperator thingee they've installed on the ISS.

If I must have a robot, I want one with claws that scares the bejeezus out of people.

Future school

Paleofuture looks at a 1958 vision of the push-button education of tomorrow.

I particularly like the electric organ flappy paddles on the students' consoles.

Moonbase 3: Outsiders

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Your plastic pal that's fun to be with!

How to handle robots moving into our everyday lives?  By making our lives more like those of robots, of course.

This is an old tune I've heard many times before.  Forty years ago, we were told that the only font we'd be allowed to use is one that can be scanned by machines.  Ten years ago we were told that we had to change our handwriting to accommodate machines.  Then we needed to talk differently, and so on and so forth.  The thing is, by the time the technology actually arrives it can adapt to us or we discover the real truth that it's rubbish and have nothing to do with it.

The nanny state isn't so altruistic after all.

I am shocked, shocked that petty bureaucrats use health and safety
regulations as a smoke screen to further their own agendas!

The Siberia/Alaska railway tunnel

The Russians announce a plan to build $65 million (to start) railway tunnel to connect the bleakest, least inhabited part of Siberia with the bleakest, least inhabited part of the United States.

Makes perfect commercial sense to me.

Gifts

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The scales tip

Columbus was responsible for the creation of lager beer.

Miserable bastard.

Geese and ganders and gerrymanders

This sort of thing really gets up my nose. Remember, changing the rules to ensure that the people of the wrong colour don't get elected isn't racist if the wrong colour is white.

It's either equality or it isn't.  "Sort of" doesn't cut it.

Ether wave piano

Personally, I much prefer "Ether wave piano" to what it's now called.

L'hologramme de l'aéroport


What's worse than holograms?  How about really unhelpful and distracting airport holograms that are French.

Ecotricity

Now the circle is complete.
Ecoctricity plans to build a chain of electric car charging stations along the M4 and M1 powered by (wait for it) wind mills.

Charging stations no one uses powered by wind mills that don't produce electricity and all of it paid for by massive government subsidies.  I say we save some money and just set fire to the bank notes.

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe: Chapter 2

Monday, 22 August 2011

Jonny Quest

Click to go to video
Mr Roger Evans, an appreciated patron of Tales of Future Past,  spent two years, a great deal of effort and lots of plasticine to recreate the opening titles of Jonny Quest in stop animation.

If they ever do a feature version of the venerated television series, this looks like the medium to go for.

The deadline loometh

Deadline time again.  Back tomorrow.

The Hellstrom Chronicle

Friday, 19 August 2011

They're super serial!

Klaatu barada DIE!
Al Gore must be  kicking himself over this one. When SETI meets Green politics, what do you get?  How about:  "Stop global warming or the space aliens will kill us!"

Gentlemen, we're deep into manbearpig territory here.

Emilio Largo wanted for questioning

The unmanned hypersonic aircraft that DARPA lost contact with last week is now reported to have made a controlled descent on its own into the Pacific Ocean.

DARPA seem pleased with the result, yet fail to explain why there was a private yacht, a team of divers and a minisub reported in the crash zone.

Connections Part 6: Thunder in the Skies

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Space Hotel

To quote David Mitchell:  "Not just a Taggart; a Poirot!"
I don't know if it would be very comfortable or more exciting than sitting in an oil tank for a week, but it certainly has the potential to put a shot in the arm for the old murder mystery.

When galaxies collide

Really slow disaster.
When the inhabitants of a small planet orbiting a star in galaxy VV 340 North discovered that they were about to collide with galaxy VV 340 South they ran about and screamed for a few months, but then they got bored and put the kettle on.

Idlers worshipping idols

A different take on the British riots:  Were they looters or devotees of the gods Gangsta and Mammon?

Put an alligator in your tank

Dr. Fu Manchu's alligator pit: Megalomaniac or Green visionary?
Scientists in Louisiana figure out a use for the 15 million pounds of alligator fat that goes spare every year.

While there idea of turning it into bio-diesel is commendable, I would point out that if you think an oil spill is bad, imagine a broken alligator pipeline.

Moonbase 3: Achilles' Heel

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Television credits

Some profanity, but in this case, it's justified.

Learning nothing

Your Political Class at work.
More proof that Britain's Political Class can't accept that the game is over and that everyone up to and including the party leaders and the BBC still wish that the post-riots world will just go away.

This is not going to be pleasant.

Pocket cassette recorder from 1971


How things change.  I once had a micro-cassette recorder that I used for making temporary log entries while sailing and about ten years ago I bought a digital recorder for my writing work.  I still use it for interviews, but stopped tucking it in my jacket in the morning because my phone is good enough if I have to dictate some notes.

I don't even want to think of that bulky Kolchak-style recorder I used at university or the cassette deck I used for a computer memory.  From there it's one step to reel to reel and then the kids start asking me about wax cylinder machines.

A step forward


Welcome back the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

We've missed you.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Day We Land on Mars


The red planet as seen from 1955–the time when the idea of life on Mars was only opposed by a "few dissenters".  And we're not talking bacteria.

I particularly like this quote:
We should quit trying to think up logical, sensible reasons for space travel.  There are no such reasons.  If we ever reach mars it will be because we were lured there by that same vague but irresistible urge that led men to make one assault after another on Mt Everest: "Because it's there."
I've heard this sentiment time and time again over the past forty years and it never made sense to me–and bear in mind that I'm a vocal advocate of manned space travel.  "Because it's there" is all very well and good if you're doing something pointless like climbing Mount Everest or sailing around the world in a bucket, but if you're asking the public or investors to sink the cost of a large war to land a man on another planet for the hell of it, then you need to step back and look at what you're doing.

Go to Mars? Great.  I'm for it.  Just give me a solid reason to back it that justifies the cost and I'm there.  Otherwise, I say do a Joker, pile up the money and set fire to it.  You'll be doing about as much good.

I'm particularly amused by the magazine's stilted and convoluted argument for sending prostitutes to Mars.  If you want jolly wagons in space, man, just spit it out and be done with it.  Or, perhaps, he should have read C S Lewis's "Minstering Angels" first to see how it would more than likely work out.

Monday, 15 August 2011

I speak loudly, but I carry no stick at all

Mr David Cameron being "tough".

Mr David Cameron attempts to talk tough, but it comes off as the standard politician's appeal to what Horace Rumpole called "Lauren Order" mixed with new government programmes to bandage over (That is, hide) the problem.

Sorry, Mr Cameron.  The time for that sort of thing is past.  The only way to "help" "troubled" families on the state benefit is to get them off it permanently.  And that's just for a start.  The solution requires admitting that government is the problem and that the only way out is to get rid of this poisonous welfare state, end mass immigration, and reject root and branch the social engineering ideology of the past half century.  Disruptive?  Yes, in the short term it will mean fighting back against a load of–I was going to call them savages, but savages have a better sense of industry and honour–yahoos who are outraged at being denied the public teat and left-wing totalitarians denied their playthings, but in the long run, it means that we will have a chance to once again have a society worth living in.

But I'm not holding my breath because a large part of fixing things means the Political Class packing up and leaving and that's about as likely as a porcine airline.

The Golden Age of Ballooning

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe: Chapter 1


Unfortunately, the source of our current serial, Zombies of the Stratosphere,  has been lost due to copyright problems.  Therefore, we're starting our new serial, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, a bit early.   We apologise for any inconvenience.

Schedule change:  Starting next week, our classic serials are moving to Tuesdays.  Please mark your calendars.

No Blade of Grass

Friday, 12 August 2011

Pan Am PC

As false as it is fatuous.

Come back, Don Draper; all is forgiven.

One of the reasons why George MacDonald Fraser hated political correctness was that it was a distortion of history.  He once took to task a film critic who hated how Northwest Frontier depicted an Indian rtain driver as having a Peter Sellars-style accent.  Fraser pointed out that what the critic objected to wasn't that some Indians actually do talk like that, but that the film admitted it!

So it is with Pan Am (ABC's Mad Men rip-off),  where smoking and race in 1963 are distorted to adhere to the Party Line of 2011 with black stewardesses when none existed (amazing that they aren't called "flight attendants") and a world where no one smokes.  In 1963.  When they had ashtrays next to lift buttons in office buildings!

None of this is surprising.  It's one of the things that annoy me about the new Doctor Who.  The tendency of the producers to shove blacks into any historical setting no matter how improbable is grating as it jams it's anachronistic finger into my eye.  A black family at a Coronation block party in London?  Possible, but highly improbable.  Given the demographics, you'd be more likely to see a Chinaman there.  And why wasn't one included?  No doubt it's the product of a casting director who looks at the homogenous faces in photos of VE day and assume that all the minorities were carefully airbrushed out.

Fraser summed up this whole attitude beatifully with this anecdote:
I first came across this in the United States, where the cancer has gone much deeper. As a screenwriter I once put forward a script for a film called The Lone Ranger, in which I used a piece of Western history which had never been shown on screen and was as spectacular as it was shocking - and true.


The whisky traders of the American plains used to build little stockades, from which they passed out their ghastly rot-gut liquor through a small hatch to the Indians, who paid by shoving furs back though the hatch.


The result was that frenzied, drunken Indians who had run out of furs were besieging the stockade, while the traders sat snug inside and did not emerge until the Indians had either gone away or passed out.


Political correctness stormed onto the scene, red in tooth and claw. The word came down from on high that the scene would offend "Native Americans".


Their ancestors may have got pieeyed on moonshine but they didn't want to know it, and it must not be shown on screen. Damn history. Let's pretend it didn't happen because we don't like the look of it.


I think little of people who will deny their history because it doesn't present the picture they would like.


My forebears from the Highlands of Scotland were a fairly primitive, treacherous, blood-thirsty bunch and, as Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, would have been none the worse for washing. Fine, let them be so depicted, if any film maker feels like it; better that than insulting, inaccurate drivel like Braveheart.


The philosophy of political correctness is now firmly entrenched over here, too, and at its core is a refusal to look the truth squarely in the face, unpalatable as it may be.


Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.

Lord of the Flies, nation of geldings


Things are going pretty much as I expected in Britain.  Sated, the looters have quieted down and now the government leaps into action with all sorts of bluster about how they will visit justice upon the idiots the police arrested because they were too stupid to run or cover their tracks on Twitter.  The highlight was Mr David Cameron forgoing all the obvious and effective ways of tackling this collapse of order and saying that he wants to be able to shut down social media like some Third World dictator.  A more classic case of not getting it I've yet to see.

Meanwhile, Mr Frank Miniter looks at this pathetic image of a man meekly giving his clothes to a thug and concludes that Britain isn't just disarmed, it's emasculated.

Hypsersonic prototype lost

"Most satisfactory."
The US military lost contact with the unmanned Falcon hypersonic prototype and believes that it has crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Phase one of Operation Thunderstrike is now complete.  Now all we need to do is secure the warhead.

Connections Part 5: Wheel of Fortune

Thursday, 11 August 2011

What to do?

The public feels it no longer has the right to interfere.
Yob Nation
Francis Gilbert
Regarding the riots across England, I think this sums it up best: This is what autonomous individualism looks like in the end.  Since the 1960s, Britain has been subjected to a relentless campaign to strip the country of its institutions, its history, its morals, its religion and its very identity.  Generations of children have been taught that their country is wicked, that their society is worthless, their history shameful.  They've been told there is no right or wrong save what they decide is so.  For an entire class of society the family has been all but destroyed and mothers gave birth to a generation of bastards who never even knew their fathers. Industry has been punished.  Decency derided.  Patriotism mocked.  Deference abolished.  Chastity forgotten.  All authority over them renounced.  All of this, mind you, in the  bosom of a cradle to grave welfare state that ensures that they never need to work a day in their lives.  And what have they been left with?  A perverted, feral sense of individualism.  Not the individualism of a free man under the law and a being created in God's image, but of a brute answerable to no one and nothing.  This wave of looting and burning isn't surprising. We have "children" (some middle aged) who have a massive sense of entitlement, no regard for law,  no respect for authority, are bone idle and believe that they have a right to anything they can get away with.  And now that the police have shown themselves ineffectual, the government spineless and the populace disarmed, they know they can literally get away with murder.  And that is what Britain is bankrupting itself for;  to support an underclass of parasitic yahoos whose idea of relieving boredom is to rob and burn those few left who are productive.  As for second-generation immigrants who by all accounts made up a staggering percentage of the looters, it's like they've been handed the cultural list and only picked up the worst traits of their hosts.  And the females?  As the father of a little girl, I can only weep at how they have been sacrificed at an altar more terrible than Baal's.

Back in the 1970s,  I recall a story I read in Analog magazine ("Generation Gaps", I think) about a 21st century Earth where the older generation was fleeing to the Moon to escape from a world ruled by hippies who had rebuilt society to their hedonistic liking.   The final paragraphs of the story were chilling as the refugees' "children" begged for help as their children in turn adopted cannibalism and vampirism as the newest fad and rose against them in bloody rebellion.  It was meant as satire, but watching the videos over the last few days, I'm not so sure.

My wife, who isn't given to such things, pronounced that if Britain cannot rise to this occasion, then it is doomed.  I can't help but agree with her, but who have we to deal with this?  An ineffectual Political Class that hasn't a clue how the real world works and a police force that is hamstrung by insane, contradictory directives that damn them whatever they do.  Watching Cameron et al posturing, acting tough, finger pointing, contradicting one another and desperately hoping that this will all go away is nothing less than sickening for, indeed, that is exactly what they are hoping will happen.  The idea that the deadly fruits of the welfare state have finally ripened and begun to fall doesn't occur to them.

That's looking at it at its simplest.  This isn't a pressure cooker on the verge of exploding.  Add in the foreign tyranny of the EU, the economic crisis, the immigration crisis and the ever-pressing threat of Jihad and you've got a whole warehouse full of pressure cookers next door to a depot load of Semtex, a tanker of petrol and an atomic missile silo.

It also doesn't help that the law abiding have been so thoroughly betrayed.  In the 20th century, the state and the people made a compact.  In return for disarming, the state promised to protect the people.  Since the British are a singularly law-abiding people and largely supported their institutions (British criminals were once notorious for their patriotism), this worked.  But when the rot of the welfare state mingled with the cultural poison of the 1960s, that respect faded and the police were emasculated.  By the turn of the century, the only ones who had reason to fear the law were the ones who it supposedly existed to protect.  Want to see swift justice? Ask a policeman if he knows his horse is gay. The people, in turn, were laid naked before the wolves bred over the past forty odd years.

Things have to change and quickly.  How?  I don't know.  It doesn't mean the Tories out and Labour in.  All three main parties are as bad as the other.  It means rejecting all of them and dismantling this insular, self-regarding, corrupt Political Class on all levels of government.  It means very real, basic reform that this country hasn't seen since 1688.  It means undoing decades of deliberate destruction and the rediscovery of who we are.  It's to go so far back that we have to go to every old folks home, look the War generation in the eye and apologise to them for what we've done to their country. 

But that's for tomorrow.  Today we have to look at the lessons we've learned.

The first lesson?  Recognise that the police are the police, not social workers in funny clothes.  Their purpose is to catch criminals, prevent crime and keep the peace.  They are not tasked with "community cohesion"  or any of that bilge.  Nor are they the armed wing of the Guardian.  Their function is to be greeted by the law abiding with relief and the criminal classes with fear. It is not to go after respectable citizens and reeducate them in the proper way of thinking (That is, the Party line) while allowing the yobs to roam and despoil at will. 

1940 appeal.
The second lesson is to allow the citizenry to arm themselves again and to use their arms in self-defence.  No, better than that.  "Allow" makes that into a gift that the Party can take away from us.  Britain needs a Second Amendment.  Recognise the right to bear arms as inalienable, that an Englishman's home is his castle and that he has a right to defend himself.  Where I live in Washington State, law enforcement is in the form of a handful of sheriffs covering an area approximately that of Kent.  If someone is knocking on the door with an axe, you might as well order pizza after calling the fuzz because they'll take about as long to get here.  You'd think that it would be a looter's dream, but you'd be dead wrong.  So would the perp with the axe with the emphasis on "dead".  Something like 90 percent of houses here have guns and the owners aren't afraid to use them.   If a gang of Mexican banditos out of a Sam Peckinpah film stormed up the road on horseback with pistols blazing, I'd never see them from my house because they'd be cut down before they crested the first hill.  That is what we call a deterrent.

The third lesson is to acknowledge the horrible damage done to British society since the foul revolution of 1968.  Admit that the Political Class that replaced the old Establishment is a rotten oligarchy and that the horrors inflicted by them on our morals and our institutions in the name of "reform" and "modernity" have resulted in (among other things) a feral underclass that is as dangerous as it it useless.  And that the experiment of mass immigration, moral relativism and multiculturalism is an abject failure. Does that mean turning back the clock?  It blasted well does.  As G K Chesterton said, "Turning back the clock is the sensible and progressive thing to do when it starts keeping the wrong time".

The clock isn't just keeping the wrong time, some yob has set fire to it.

My Wake Up Call


The My Wake Up Call alarm clock lures you out of slumber with positive motivational messages. 

It would certainly work for me.  Listening to upbeat, cheerful encouragement before I've had my tea will certainly leave me wide awake after I've finished screaming abuse at the wretched thing for five minutes.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

From the BBC:
Rioters in Manchester and Salford have been told that they face being evicted from their council homes if they are identified on CCTV footage.
Not a bad first move, but I'd take it a step further:  Ideally, anyone caught taking part in these riots anywhere in Britain, as well as their parent if minors, should lose access to ALL state benefits FOR LIFE with the exception of compulsory state schooling and in addition lose all eligibility for any form of government employment.   In the case of immigrants or other foreign nationals, the penalty should be immediate and permanent deportation.   This is, of course, in addition to any fines or prison terms.

I dare say that this would be more effective than a hanging as far as this lot are concerned.

Moonbase 3: Behemoth

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

When open minds become empty heads

Getting in the way.
Apparently being an Atheist who rejects all tenets of the Christian faith and even denying the existence of Christ (which also shows a staggering historical ignorance) is no obstacle to becoming a clergyman in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN).

As  Dr Spacely-Trellis, the “go-ahead” Bishop of Bevindon in the Stretchford Conurbation and author of God The Humanist might observe,
Cleansed of such outmoded relics, a truly progressive Protestant Church in the Netherlands will arise, a Church in which people of all races, of all kinds of sexual orientation, or previous criminal convictions, and of all faiths or none, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist or whatever, will be welcome to act as clergy. It will be a Church of diversity and inclusion, a Church which will meet the religious needs of the average man and woman of our secular age in a very real sense.

Air dam

Where can we find a 10,000 ton olive?
I don't know if this technology ever had a hope of reclaiming land from the North Sea, but it certainly had the potential for producing a martini of epic proportions.

Quiz

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

With all that's going on, it's time to repost this.


The Gods of the Copybook Headings

by

Rudyard Kipling

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

And we're back

View Initial London riots / UK riots in a larger map
Dear God in Heaven.

It's the first day back from my holiday.  No, that's not right.  Yesterday was my first day back, but I had a deadline with a client in Hong Kong, so I didn't have a chance to post anything.  Hang on.  That's not right either.  In fact, clients kept popping up like weeds all month, I had to deal with throwing together a sudden children's birthday party after the trip to the cinema fell to logistics, and a battle erupted with the local water company that must have learned how to keep books in Fred Karno's Army, so my actual holiday consisted of a couple of days reading books somewhere between the 5th and 10th of July. 

In fact, it's my first day back from doing a load of other things and I still have a stack of e-mail to catch up on, so I think I'll call it my "ignoring most of my e-mail and deleting the press releases from my RSS feed month".

Doesn't sound quite the same, does it? 

The most disturbing recent news (following mass murder in Oslo and Mr Barack Hussein Obama's crowning achievement of throwing his country into the toilet) is the wave of rioting, looting and burning in Britain.  At first, I wasn't too bothered by the events over the weekend.  Occasional riots in London have become something to be endured in modern Britain.  However, that changed as one riot became dozens around and outside the capital.  Worse, a State that prides itself on being able to literally dictate an Englishman's every thought stood helplessly by while modern day Visigoths plundered and burned.  This was no longer breaking the law or failing to keep the peace.  This was a collapse of order and an utter disregard for authority.  Not surprising when the Home Secretary wrings her hands about whether or not to deploy water cannons and rubber bullets as if she was dealing with a nursery school uprising.  Never mind that whole buildings have been burnt to the ground, that innocent people have been stripped naked by robbers or that those who haven't been burned out of their homes are cowering in terror against what the night might bring.

This paralysis, this loss of confidence, is appalling and uncalled for.   There are three reasons why governments exist and abandoning any means they cease to have legitimacy: Defend the realm, prevent crime and preserve contracts.   From the videos I've seen that are less like Britain than Beirut in the '80s, I'd say that all three parties have come pretty close to abandoning pillar number 2.  Why Cameron, Clegg and Milliband aren't walking around with wet trouser legs because they're terrified of what the public will do to them in return for leaving the streets to the barbarians, I have no idea.  And how in God's name Britain ended up with this collection of wet slaps as a political class clearly shows that we haven't been paying attention.  This is indeed a sorry state to be in for what was once the greatest city in the world and capital of the greatest empire in history.

But I'm not going to leave things at that.  Britain is down, but far from out.  Now is not the time to throw in the towel.  What we need more than anything else is not this policy or that.  We don't need the "right" people in office or to say the "right" things.  We need to remember who we are and where we came from.  We need to recall what made Britain great and to embrace that greatness.  I don't mean in some silly Mussoliniesque attempt to recapture faded imperial glories.  I mean in recognising the tremendous legacy that our fathers and their fathers before them left to Britain and the world and to try, try very hard, to make ourselves worthy of it.   If we stiffen our backbones and our upper lips; find the spark and truculence that made an Englishman worth ten foreigners on any day*, then we'll have won half the battle against the nation's rot.



*Yes, I am being poetic.

Thursday, 4 August 2011