Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do Not Collect £200

I don't just 'blog the bad stuff:

BBC NEWS | Man convicted over Shia flogging:

"He denied his actions were wrong, saying: 'This is a part of our religion.'"

If they need a volunteer to swallow the key, I'm there; on the strict condition that his cell is wallpapered with the works of Richard Dawkins and Salman Rushdie, and his cellmate is a jewish homosexual.

The only blot on an otherwise cheering tale, is that the CPS still felt the need to protest that
this case "was not an attack upon the practices or ceremonies of Shia Muslims". Oh, quite right - I mean, who'd want to attack the practice of forcing children to wound themselves?

Apparently, western Shia community leaders do discourage the practice of zanjeer matam, particularly where children are involved. Taking the "mourning" to the stage of self-harm appears to have its origins in Pakistan. So long as every cleric proscribes it, then fine; but its pratice remains a legitimate and appropriate target for police "attack".

Saturday, August 23, 2008

FTL possible... sort of.

Baylor University

An awful lot of Geordi-speak in there, but what it seems to boil down to is a multi-dimensional variant of the old Flat-Earther gag about aeroplanes.

Of course it's just my stunted planetlubber brain's fault, but I can't help feeling this is cheating. What happens if multiple spacecraft are rearranging the universe in mutally antagonistic ways? Who's reality wins? If I'm moving space around me, what about other vessels within that space doing likewise? The possibilities for autorectal implosion seem limitless.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Raspberry Beret

After a rather uncomfortable invasive procedure - and an associated sharp decrease in food intake - I have been feeling even weaker and achier than usual this week. For the first time in a while, I've been using my walking stick.

It's quite amazing the difference it makes. No, not to my ambulatory discomfort, though the improvement there is considerable; to my image. People hold doors open for me. Bus drivers wait for me to sit down. Gangs of hooded youths who last month were loitering menacingly, now part respectfully to let me pass. The sheer volume of respect is palpable. No fashion choice, no body shape, and no real-world achievement has ever afforded me such an improvement in street status.

Needless to say, the temptation to continue carrying the stick after I strictly need to, is now strong. I am always uncomfortable with, and suspicious of, melodrama... but I can't ignore the benefits I have seen, and I'm going to feel the loss if I surrender them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back to Old Kent Road

Sometimes, satire is redundant. Sometimes no comment, however dry, pithy or insightful, can do anything but diminish the power of the quoted words. I suspect that this is such a time.

War On Terror board game seized by police - Cambridge News:

"Kent police said they had confiscated the game because the balaclava 'could be used to conceal someone's identity or could be used in the course of a criminal act'."

Monday, August 11, 2008


There's been some netbuzz on account boffins reckon invisibilty may be a step closer. Plenty of fun with references, from H.G. Wells to David MacCallum and, of course, Kevin Bacon.

Obviously this research is driven by military goals, and thinking about it a bit, if this comes off, it'll be the first major new development in "asymmetric warfare". The armed forces of any major power you happen to meet will be spying on you from all over the electromagnetic spectrum; so being traditionally "invisible" is not going to be that much use against - for example - a squadron of Chinese helicopter gunships. However, when up against "irregulars", how handy might it be to be able to ambush small parties in open terrain? Or to get artillery up close to a mountain hideout before it's evacuated?

Of course, in reality, the invisibility cloak has been in use domestically for years. Just ask any urban cyclist, or anyone trying to get served in Wetherspoon's when there's a hen party in...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It Works

It may seem like the creation of a bored Mac junkie who's seen Minority Report too often, but I see a deeper significance in this intriguing Aurora concept video from Mozilla.

I'm always banging on about how, when we 30/40s were kids, transport was the cutting edge of tech, and seemed likely to remain so. Information Technology was new and exciting, but we just didn't know the half of it. Our young minds would have boggled that we'd seen our last moon landing, but would one day personally command more computing power than currently existed.

So that's how I see things like this today. I like it because it's aspirational and speculative, but in a direction relevant to the present. You can forget your jet pack - we're even retiring our supersonic airliners - but one day you'll have Deep Thought in an earring, and so will I, and we'll do magic with them. Who knows, maybe our information usage can evolve so far that there's just no new, or even uncommon knowledge left on Earth? Then we'll have to turn our gestalt thought-clouds loose on Outer Space once more; exploring vicariously, by remote sensing, as one giant non-hierarchical crew of a notional Argo; Metanauts, if you will.

And instead of a few crackly audio recordings of "The Eagle Has Landed." and "Houston, We've Had A Problem.", will the odysseys of the future be historicized in yottabytes of Twitter archives...?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hitty Titty? Ping! Ping!

Germany hails 'bullet-proof bra'

A gem from the silly season, this one. German policewomen are to get special safety bras - though sadly the hack-hook "bullet-proof" is stretching the point... as it were. No mention of a danger of backfires on cold days, either...

I see re-makes of 70s hairspray ads as German crooks wonder, "Is she, or isn't she?" Obviously, the officer must respond with "D'ya feel lucky, punk?"

Of course, this is bound to stir up memories of killer Ursula Andress offing a mark with her norks back in the 60s. What a way to go...