Saturday, 31 March 2012


Friday, 30 March 2012

Collapsible “Buckliball” turns failure into functionality

Taking inspiration from a toy, a team of researchers at MIT have developed a new engineering structure that is mechanically unstable, yet collapses in a way that is predictable and reversible. The structure, formed out of a single piece of rubber-like material, is fabricated so that it collapses in harmony to form a smaller structure that can then be expanded into the original shape. This structure opens up new potentials in everything from architecture to micro-medical applications... Continue Reading Collapsible “Buckliball” turns failure into functionality

The Shock of the New: Part 3: The Landscape of Pleasure

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hannan on Iceland

There goes Daniel Hannan MEP talking sense again.

Hippies dans l'espace

L'aƩrodrome de soucoupes volantes
A load of hippies are flocking to Pic de Bugarach in France to be picked up by a flying saucer manned by aliens who don't mind passengers reeking of patchouli oil and stale pot smoke.  Something to do with the end of the world, apparently.

I strongly recommend that the local authorities Google "Heaven's Gate" and keep the coroner on stand-by.

Electric kettle

Yanko Design (The DREADCO of the design world) scores another bull's eye with this electric kettle notable for its Chianti-bottle shape complete with narrow neck.  Plug it in and learn first hand why kettles don't have tiny necks and what a second-degree burn feels like.

Brits' attitude to food

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Death of Afghanistan

'Who art thou, seller of dog's flesh,' thundered Tallantire, 'to speak of terms and treaties? Get hence to the hills—go, and wait there starving, till it shall please the Government to call thy people out for punishment—children and fools that ye be! Count your dead, and be still. Best assured that the Government will send you a MAN!'  
'Ay,' returned Khoda Dad Khan, 'for we also be men.' 
 As he looked Tallantire between the eyes, he added, 'And by God, Sahib, may thou be that man!'
Kipling, Rudyard "The Head of the District", Life's Handicap (p. 127). Kindle Edition.

Afghan security personnel killed three NATO soldiers yesterday.  That makes 16 "friendly" killings this year.

The Afghanistan campaign has always been problematic.  It didn't help that the previous American administration got bogged down in Sisyphean nation building.  And the current one conducting a policy of letting the war run on autopilot didn't help.  Nor did, when that option ran out, settling for a slow-motion surrender to the Taliban by announcing a withdrawal date.

 It certainly was an insane idea to treat the Afghans like a load of Germans or Japanese who just needed a bit of aid to get them on their feet rather than a barbarian people who needed a British Empire-style district officer to keep them in line until they learned how to govern themselves.  The moment Afghan soldiers started shooting ours and we did nothing about it, the whole thing became impossible.

It can still be salvaged, but I can't see the theatre commander (Not the American ambassador) having Kharzi hauled in under armed NATO guard and told in the bluntest terms that NATO is there for our defence, not  theirs and that if we leave, we'll come back the next time they give us trouble and settle for making the rubble bounce and perdition with the hearts and minds.

If this sort of Kiplingesque approach isn't used, we might as well pack up now and not leave a single man behind.


France is planning a theme park dedicated to the tyrant and would-be ruler of the world, Napoleon Bonaparte.  

It'll make a great companion to Germany's Hitler Park, Italy's Mussolini World, Russia's Stalinarama, Red China's The Mao Experience and Cambodia's Pol Pot Superfun Happy Place.

Proton gun

Goodbye, Mr Bond!
Scientists at the Compact Particle Acceleration Corporation in Livermore, California develop a table-top proton gun for treating cancer.

I've already emailed them about a special order to install the device under my desk, so I can discretely handle "inconvenient" visitors

The Master Mystery: Part 17

Monday, 26 March 2012

If this is Tuesday, it must be Denmark

Obama: The man who turned not giving a damn into an art.

Think that the recent lovefest between Barack Hussein Obama and the traitor David Cameron had a grain of sincerity to it?  Think again.  If you're an ally of the United States, Mr Soetoro's saying that you "punch above your weight" and that you're the USA's "closest and strongest ally" and a dollar fifty will get you a cup of coffee.

If the coffee costs less than a dollar fifty (tax included), of course.

Cameron in the abyss

Film director James Cameron becomes the first man to reach the bottom of the Marianas Trench in fifty years and the only to do so single-handed.

I think that the man is a pompous ass and a blinkered political bigot and that with each attempt his films become more and more risible, but if he has the guts to pull off something like this, then I'd like to shake his hand and buy him a drink.

Batman pulled over by the rozzers

"Batman" was pulled over in Montgomery, Maryland because his Lamborghini didn't have a number plate.

Oddly enough, ever since I was a teenager I've been convinced that if Batman ever did get arrested it would be because he didn't have proper documents for the batmobile.  Be fair, how's he going to get an MOT disk?

Update: Top Gear nearly duplicates my headline.  Is there a secret EI reader on their staff?

Donald in Mathmagic Land

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Carrozzeria's modern reinterpretation of the 1952 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante

Hollywood isn’t the only industry fascinated with remakes, reimagining and sequels these days. The motor world has its share of revivals and updates too. Case in point, Italian car maker Alfa Romeo and the Milan-based coachbuilding firm Carrozzeria Touring have teamed to unveil their latest collaboration: the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante 2012. Created as part of Alfa Romeo's centenary celebration, the Disco Volante 2012 dips back into the past to draw inspiration from one of the true classics of 20th century motoring, the 1952 Alfa Romeo C52 Disco Volante. However, where the original was a concept series with a run of only four, the 2012 version will be offered for sale later this year as a very limited series two-seater coupĆ© that, in the words of Alfa Romeo, blend the ingredients of “innovation, emotion and aerodynamic properties into a timeless and essential shape”... Continue Reading Carrozzeria's modern reinterpretation of the 1952 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante


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Friday, 23 March 2012

An unfortunate flaw

The machine-gun vest worked well until Howard mowed down three customers while reaching for the box of  tinned peas on the shelf over the counter.

The rains of Titan

Artwork copyright© Bonestell Space Art, used with permission
From the BBC:
Places on Saturn's moon Titan see rainfall about once every 1,000 years on average, a new analysis concludes.
The sprinkler bans are hell there.

Soda-water dogs

I have seen pub dogs work door latches, fetch beer, open crisp packets and just sit under the benches hoping that people won't flick ashes on them, but this is a new one on me.

The Shock of the New Part 2: The Powers That Be

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Battle Beneath Clintonville

The town of Clintonville, Illinois is being disturbed by mysterious subterranean explosions that still defy explanation.

Well, since the Fantastic Four haven't shown up, we can dismiss the Mole Man, but Red China is under a "coup watch" at the moment, so there is another possibility that we present here.

Homemade vehicles

If the government keeps trying to force "green" vehicles down our throats, these could make a comeback.

Nothing to see here, move along

This is almost getting monotonous–or would if it weren't so deadly.  North Africans serving in the French armed forces are gunned down at a cash machine in Toulouse, then a few days later, a Rabbi and three Jewish children are killed by the same man outside of a Jewish school in Toulouse.  Despite the obvious possibility that this could be a Jihadist going after "traitors" who joined the enemy's army and then indulged in a spot of Jew killing, the press in France and out never even considered it.  Instead, it was days of banging on about how it had to be some right-wing racist acting out the xenophobic blood lust that lurks in the heart of every white man.  Then they act all surprised when the monster is cornered and he turns out to be a Muslim Jihadist, but they say he's a lone wolf.  Okay, a lone wolf who's part of Al Qaeda and busted out of a prison in Kandahar, but that's all.  Oh, and his motive is a complete mystery.

Actually, they weren't surprised.  They were too busy wringing their hands over the anti-Muslim backlash that will inevitably follow, yet never appears.

These are the sort of "journalists" who would have reported in 1940 that bombs just "happen" to be falling on London.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

"Special" relationship

All tuckered.
There are things you don't admit to, such as this Telegraph headline:
Barack Obama 'tucked David Cameron up in bed' on Air Force One
No doubt gave him his teddy and read him a story as well.  I hope the ghost of Palmerston appears at the foot of Mr Cameron's bed with rattling chains and shrieks at him.

The article also mentions Roosevelt walking in on Churchill in the bath only for the great man to say,
The British Prime Minister has nothing to hide from the President of the United States.
One thing we can definitely say is that Roosevelt never tucked him.  That's because the President was passed out at the time.  It turns out that on Churchill's first visit, he and Roosevelt sat up late drinking Scotch until Roosevelt slid to the carpet.  The next morning, Eleanor left her room and saw Churchill walking towards the President's bedroom with a bottle in each hand to start the party up again.

On his next visit, Churchill discovered that Elanor in retaliation had Blair House across the street turned into the official residence of visiting dignitaries, so no tucking in opportunities there.

Birthday Cards

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

New process could revolutionize electron microscopy

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created what sounds impossible - even nonsensical: An experimental electron microscope without lenses that not only works, but is orders of magnitude more powerful than current models. By means of a new form of mathematical analysis, scientists can take the meaningless patterns of dots and circles created by the lens-less microscope and create images that are of high resolution and contrast and, potentially, up to 100 times greater magnification... Continue Reading New process could revolutionize electron microscopy

Keep Calm and Carry On

Commanding the depths

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the Left's claims to hold moral authority and concludes that their only real moral compass is power.

Man mugged by fox

Another exhibit in our Animals are Not Nice case.

The Master Mystery: Part 16

Monday, 19 March 2012

The truth about penguins

What Sir David Attenbrough is hiding from us.

Making the world safe for gnat's piss

Because it worked so well the first time
Staggering from ludicrous beer duties meant to make beer drinkers more "responsible", brewers in Britain are reacting by reducing the alcohol content of their product.  The BBC sums up the strategy thus:
It's a small change that brewers are hoping customers won't notice.
Not noticing is marked by the public bar being drenched in the discharge of outraged spit takes.

Dressing ship

The Royal Navy shows of its new uniforms to the public and it's all blouses, Velcro, zip boots and baseball caps.

Baseball caps!  My Dad was in the RN for over thirty years and I only saw him in uniform once on duty or off, but this sort of Friday casual approach to naval attire would have killed him in a fit of pure apoplexy.  Updating uniforms and making them more practical does not mean turning them into something more suitable to the Girl Guides.

How to Make a Royal Marines Officer

Friday, 16 March 2012

It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!

This is why I stop off at the pub on the way home.

The heirs of Churchill and Roosevelt

The "leaders" of the free world show off their gravitas
The traitor and leader of the illegal junta that occupies Britain, Mr David Cameron hits a new low as he takes in a basketball game with Mr Barack Hussein Obama as if the last three years of pointed insults, slights and undermining of Britain's place in the world never happened.

It's a staggering sight: Her Majesty's Prime Minister (or he would be, if his government was legitimate) acting as The One's re-election campaign  prop.  It's bad enough for a minister of the Crown getting involved in foreign politics.  It's even worse when a Tory (Red Tory, anyway), shills for a Socialist who is the antithesis of everything the Conservatives once stood for.  And it is a travesty how these two have turned the Special Relationship from an alliance of giants into a "Screw the world, let's take in a basketball game" affair.   But for Cameron to abase himself to the point of endorsing Mr Soetoro's cynical plan to tap the US Strategic Oil Reserve to push down petrol prices and effectively bribe American voters with their country's national security and that of the West shows that Mr Cameron is either a phenomenal lightweight in the brains department or an amoral political hack.

I could weep.


It's been a while since Yanko Design (The DREADCO of the design world) gave us a truly awful yacht, but they've made up for lost time with this monstrosity.

Not only is it hideous and sports pointless wings guranteed to catch every swell, but the helm is set so deep inside the saloon that it's impossible to steer because you can't see anything.  It's awe inspiring.

The Shock of the New: Part 1: The Mechanical Paradise

Thursday, 15 March 2012

BMW Vision

The car of choice of rich, stingy bastards.

From tiny oak, mighty acorns grow

The town of Buford, Wyoming is for sales.  Starting bid: $100,000.

It may not have a hollowed-out volcano or an impenetrable swamp, but as a nascent power base or bridgehead for an alien invasion you could do a lot worse.  Just buy it, set up the homing beacon and wait for the fleet.  How you handle the local authorities is your problem.

Hail Vectron!

Your call can't be connected

According to this 1932 report, a reflective upper layer of the Earth's atmosphere precludes establishing radio communications with Mars.

That and the planet being a still-born, dead husk of a world, but the layer doesn't help.

UFO: Confetti Check A OK

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

The critics have been harsh on the Disney film John Carter to the point where the New York Times compared it to Ishtar, but we've seen it and the Szondy family disagrees.  We found it refreshing, a lot of fun and the daughter was so taken with the epic that she's penning her own story, A Princess of Venus: an adventure of Peter Angels.

Somewhere Burroughs smiles.

The fruits of willful ignorance

How far the BBC have fallen.  The have Jeremy Paxman do a flashy programme about Gordon of Khartoum and get every salient fact completely wrong.

I shouldn't be too hard on them.  It's not as if it's the British Broadcasting Corporation, after all.

Britannica no longer rules

It's been a good 244 years, but the Encyclopedia Britannica is ceasing publication, though it will still continue in its on-line form.

I'm amazed that it lasted this long.  When I was a boy, Britannica was as close as I could come to the Internet; an always accessible source of information on almost any subject.  I always liked the fact that the editors strove to get the best experts in the field to write the articles and up until they reformatted it into the ill-conceived micropedia and macropedia sets they were happy to include articles that were so in-depth that you could get a decent education on a subject at one sitting.  Unfortunately, the sets cost as much as a small car, were as portable as a hod of bricks and went out of date while you were making a sandwich, so digital sources pretty much doomed it.

Ironically, though my old set long went to that great book shop in the sky (okay, Oxford Covered Market), I still dip into Britannica regularly.  But that's the 1911 edition.  That I read on line.

The Gaelic Language

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Future streets

This 1925 vision of the city of the future always fascinated me.  Why bother with one boring ground-level street system with an underground train at most leading off into the suburbs when you can turn a metropolis into one massive labyrinth of tunnels, warrens and terraces that no one ever leaves in their lives because everyone is hopelessly lost.

Checking the odds

Headline from the Bloomberg Businessweek:
A Hot Dog a Day Raises Risk of Dying, Harvard Study Finds
You mean raises it above 100 percent?

Death to free men!

Our "ethical" future.
Another "ethicist" comes to the rescue of Blessed Gaia and declares that the way to Save the PlanetTM is to genetically engineer humans so that they have less impact on the environment. Naturally, the Elite will be exempt from this because someone has to make sure everything goes to plan and who better than the altruistic Enlightened who must selflessly retain their humanity for the good of all?

Oh, let's drop the sarcasm.  This is the "green" dream come true; mankind exterminated and replaced with a  docile slave race created solely to serve their overclass masters from now until the end of time–or until the Elite degenerate into Eloi and the slave race become Morlocks and start dining on their former masters.

The Master Mystery: Part 15

Monday, 12 March 2012

Zagato AC 378 GT relaunches classic car brand

If you're going to design a sports car, you could do worse than going back to the classics and AC Cars has done just that with the unveiling of its Zagato AC 378 GT at the Geneva Motor Show. It's a rolling tribute to not only 111 years of the AC Cars marque, but also its Anglo-Italian heritage and its long relationship with the Zagato design group going back to the AC Ace Zagato of 1957. The supercar, which will be sold in the UK for GBP89,990 (approx US$140,870) and Germany for EUR109,990 (US$144,970), is also part of AC Cars' relaunch on the European market as a specialized car maker after a decade of false starts. .. Continue Reading Zagato AC 378 GT relaunches classic car brand


Gymbot, let me introduce you to the hammer I keep under the cushions
Yanko Design (The DREADCO of the design world) tackles obesity with Gymbot; a robot personal trainer that orders you off the couch for a round of calisthenics whenever you look like you might be enjoying yourself.

It's targeted at Outer Party members who don't have telescreens yet.

Mercury observatory

NASA has long had a waste not, want not philosophy and loves reusing leftover equipment.  Skylab is the best example of this; a space station cobbled together from bits of Apollo hardware.  But the habit set in early with this charming little orbital observatory built into an old Mercury capsule.

It's a wonder that the shuttles ever made it to a museum.

The waiting game

I observed that he sat frequently for half and hour on end, with knitted brows and an abstracted air, but he swept the matter away with a wave of his hand when I mentioned it. “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”
Sherlock Holmes "The Copper Beeches" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
By now, you've no doubt run across the downright gleeful coverage of the mainstream press of the alleged shooting of 16 people by an American soldier in Kandahar; complete with bloody footage on CNN, lots of talk about reprisals and Mr Barack Hussein Obama once again mobilising an all-out apology to the corrupt Kharzi government.

As for me, I have nothing to say on the matter until I find out the man's name and at least something about his motives.   In other words, something a bit more solid.

Speculation without facts is less than pointless.


Friday, 9 March 2012

Grey Walter's tortoises

A remarkable story of early cybernetics.

Who would have thought that the start of the robot apocalypse would be so charming

Circle girl to the rescue!

Financial Times headline:
Asia defence spending to overtake Europe
Fortunately, the European Empire has women who sit in circles with disapproving looks to defend it.

Himalayas Water Tower

Yanko Design (The DREADCO of the design world) has this solution to the inexorable melting of the Himalayan glaciers due to global warming:  Build 900-yard tall towers, one third of which is filled with ice cubes made up with run-off from the melting glaciers.

Two problems with this.  First, the capacity of these towers compared to the volume of a single glacier is so tiny that it makes wind power look like a good idea and second, the designer has missed out on Glaciergate.

Civilisation Part 13: Heroic Materialism

Thursday, 8 March 2012

New blog

I'm starting a new blog today with a very familiar name.  Feel free to cop a shufti.

The future of reading

And what problem does this solve?
Paleofuture looks at what they call the iPad of 1935.

More of a Kindle, I'd say.

Space Station V

Unwanted Blog has some pretty impressive blueprints of 2001: a Space Odyssey's  Space Station V.

They don't make 'em like they used to.

The leadership of Captain Kirk

Forbes looks at the five leadership lessons of Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Regrettably, flying leg kicks do not count among them.

UFO: Close Up

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

ASV hulls would dramatically improve ship efficiency by riding on a cushion of air

A European project is developing new Air Support Vessel (ASV) hull designs that allow watercraft to ride on a cushion of air to greatly reduce friction between the hull and the water, resulting in more hull speed for less power than conventional designs. The project is part of a EUR10,000,000 (approx. US$13,225,000) project funded in part by the European Union, the Norwegian Research Council and Innovation Norway, and Norwegian company Effect Ships International AS has recently completed tank-testing in Sweden of two ASV hull models... Continue Reading ASV hulls would dramatically improve ship efficiency by riding on a cushion of air

The Daly Superheroes

What voiceover actors in superhero cartoons face


Do people in the Northwest have an accent?
Yes, and you can cut it with a knife.  My wife, who is a native Washingtonian, thinks she's accentless and thinks I'm kidding when I tell her that she has a very thick one and  I sometimes have trouble understanding her.

At least I've got her and the daughter using proper words like "car park" and "offie" and the daughter's Rs are softer than her class mates', so the cause of civilisation is not lost.

That clears that up


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Baby sloths in jammies

Did I mention that they hug teddies?

Reality knocks

The end of a dream
The LA Times, oblivious to Climategate et al,  puts energy on the same level of tobacco and smugly claims that the same bullying tactics that have allowed the State to treat smokers like pariahs will also work to convince people to go back to being serfs.  Of course, this won't apply to the Inner Party members.

Meanwhile, the ChiComs have discovered enough shale gas to run the middle kingdom for 200 years and what do you think are the chances of their turning their backs on that gift?  Or that the rest of the world won't follow their example like a shot with the Inner Party looking shocked as they're trampled under foot?

That sound you hear is Al Gore's bubble bursting.

Douglas conjunction-class Mars mission

Beyond Apollo looks at Douglas's 1965 study for getting to Mars fast.

I miss the days when talk of a manned Mars mission was something taken seriously.

The Master Mystery: Part 14

Monday, 5 March 2012

CAMRA rejoices

Drinking this is like making love in a canoe
BBC headline:
Has Britain fallen out of love with lager?
One can only hope so.  A true sign of Britain's recovery will be the banishment of this undrinkable muck back to its continental lair.  I remember as a young lad going into the Vaults at Stony Stratford and one of my friends asking the barman if he had any lager only to be told, "Yeah, we keep it under the bar for the women and kids, but don't tell anyone."

It seemed like a good idea

As part of a new economy drive, ship's watches will consist of only one officer.  To make up for this, pilots will be issued with these radio remote control devices so that they can still pilot the ship when they need to go to the karzi.

Phase II will convert this to an app.

Go away!

Oh, sure.  First it just follows you around and helps you do the shopping because you ask it to, but pretty soon  the little creeps will be on your heels whether you want them or not, demand a say in the item selections and report you to the Healthy Police if you buy too much cheese.  This demonstration didn't even get a minute in before the iron nanny started nagging the man about the spaghetti, which, amazingly, wasn't answered with a sharp demand that it shut it's cake hole and that if it's opinion is wanted it will be asked for–but don't hold its non-existent breath.

I say we take the them out now.

Intersections... of the FUTURE!

What will the intersection of the future look like when all cars are self-driving and interconnected?  Probably something like this video.

I'm not that impressed.  It looks like any average road in Rome, though with fewer horns blaring and obscene gestures.

Friendship 7

Sunday, 4 March 2012

"Interface scaffolds" could wire prosthetics directly into amputees' nervous systems

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories have announced a breakthrough in prosthetics that may one day allow artificial limbs to be controlled by their wearers as naturally as organic ones, as well as providing sensations of touch and feeling. The scientists have developed a new interface consisting of a porous, flexible, conductive, biocompatible material through which nerve fibers can grow and act as a sort of junction through which nerve impulses can pass to the prosthesis and data from the prosthesis back to the nerve. If this new interface is successful, it has the potential to one day allow nerves to be connected directly to artificial limbs... Continue Reading "Interface scaffolds" could wire prosthetics directly into amputees' nervous systems

Almost Human

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