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November 30, 2007

Itinerarium

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The Tabula Peutingeriana is believed to be the only surviving copy of a roadmap of the Roman Empire. Even the copy is 800 years old and quite delicate; all 22 feet of it made a rare, one day public appearance from the vaults of the Manuscripts, Autographs and Closed Collections of the Austrian National Library.

The department's director compares it to a map of the London Underground.

"The red lines are the main roads. Every so often there is a little hook along the red lines which represents a rest stop - and the distance between hooks was one day's travel. Every so often there is a pictogram of a building to show you that there was a hotel or a spa where you could stay," he said. "It was meant for the civil servants of the late Roman Empire, for couriers and travellers," he added. Some of the buildings have large courtyards - a sign of more luxurious accommodation.

Tasty. On display for a UN "celebration", I would have had to hold my breath and attend regardless. Flea-readers who missed the day may peruse the whole of the Tabula Peutingeriana thanks to the miracle that is the "internet".

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM | Comments (2)

Francis Monkman: The Long Good Friday

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Related: A Prophet 5 demonstration.

Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM

Scary Mary

The Mary Poppins trailer recut. Hide your children.

Posted by the Flea at 07:19 AM

November 29, 2007

Exodus 3:12

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James Purefoy, aka Mark Antony from the late lamented Rome, is to play Robert E. Howard's most ass-kickingest of anti-heroes: Solomon Kane. The film is currently in pre-production (via Weird Tales).

Solomon Kane is a fictional character created by the pulp-era writer Robert E. Howard. A 16th century Puritan, Solomon Kane is a somber looking man who wanders the world with no apparent goal other than to vanquish evil in all its forms. His adventures, published mostly in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, often take him from Europe to the jungles of Africa and back.

Howard describes him as a somber and gloomy man of pale face and cold eyes, all of it shadowed by a slouch hat. He is dressed entirely in black and his weaponry consists of a rapier, a dagger, and a couple of flintlock pistols.

Add a well thumbed copy of the Geneva Bible and we are cooking with gas.

Update: We very nearly had Ray Stevenson as a detective in “apocalyptic zombie drama”, Babylon Fields. The did not make the cut and, what with the writers' strike - I expect we have missed the zombie boat.

Posted by the Flea at 06:23 AM

Nina Simone: Sinnerman

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:21 AM | Comments (2)

Rush hour

The best Top Gear race yet: Bicycle vs Bus vs Underground vs Boat to the London City Airport. Hard to call. The last time I went there I arrived by black cab (Part I, Part II, Part III).

I now have a new goal in life: To radio for permission to pass through the Thames Barrier at speed.

Posted by the Flea at 06:19 AM

Cursed rams

Microbiologist Siro Trevisanato believes Hittites used "cursed" rams infected with tularemia as an early biological WMD.

He believes tularemia is to blame for a deadly epidemic dubbed the "Hittite plague" which raged through the Middle East in the 14th century BC. Around 1335 BC, letters to the Egyptian king Akhenaten reported a pestilence in Simyra, a Phoenician city near what is now the border between Lebanon and Syria. The texts describe a terrible illness causing disabilities and death. Most tellingly, they mention that, because of the plague, donkeys were banned from being used in caravans.

The Phoenicians of Simyra took a hit and were subsequently vulnerable to Hittite raiding. Fifteen years later when mysterious rams began appearing on roads in Arzawa the locals must have thought it was good fortune until the plague struck, again to Hittite advantage. Once could be an accident. Twice looks like you meant it.

Posted by the Flea at 06:17 AM

November 28, 2007

Requiem

This Alien V Predator: Requiem widget may not be visible to Flea-readers on slower connections or lacking shockwave flash; my apologies. I was lying awake thinking about using this critter as a segue into discussing the fragility of social arrangements which can seem eternal and the various collapsed civilizations whose example should have taught us better. Suffice to say: I worry (via Reverse Vampyr.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (1)

Basil Poledouris: Anvil of Crom

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

And here is Battle of the Mounds. This just never gets old. If I was to, say, interview an American presidential candidate I would ask him/her to watch this and correctly identify its relevance to United States foreign policy.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

November 27, 2007

Inked

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Thanks to an intervention in yesterday's Battlestar Galactica post, I noticed Starbuck's awesome interlocking rings tattoo. One half appears on her arm while its mate appears on the arm of her character's husband, whiny Pyramid jock guy.

Instead of wearing wedding rings, Samuel Anders and Kara Thrace created tattoos on their arms that, when they embrace, form a unified circle with wings. The symbol for the colony of Caprica is also in view.
...
In a TV Guide photoshoot video interview, Katee Sackhoff comments: "...the tattoos that Anders and Starbuck got when they got married and uh, it kinda looks like the Redwings sign doesn't it? Or logo, but its, um... when he's holding me the rings match up and it becomes one ring with two wings. So it's very cool there's some signs in there like the Caprica symbol and some space things and its all very intricate and very cool and the guys over at Twin Villain Tattoo down in Gastown designed it so we're all very excited about it."

It turns out Katee Sackhoff has some tattoos as well.

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

Dead Can Dance: Black Sun

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM

November 26, 2007

Razor

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I am going to assume most UK Flea-readers have not seen the Battlestar Galactica Season 3.5 episode Razor (which falls at around Season 2.5 and earlier in the continuity). I will not say anything spoilerish but every link here does; here is a trailer for anyone wanting just a taste... Flea-readers unafraid of spoilers can have a look at this Ace of Spades HQ comment thread or Ron Moore's responses to fannish questions.

I am still technically boycotting the show though I appear to be actually watching it.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (2)

Andrew Spencer vs The Vamprocker: Zombie

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

She Demons

So, Elvira was just about perfect.

Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM | Comments (1)

November 24, 2007

Flea-ish

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Sweeney Todd: The Movie. This via Goth Magazine, adding:

What started out as a penny dreadful in the mid-1800’s grew into mystery and much confusion which plagued many minds in Europe. Was this a fictional character or a real person? Known as a VERY early example of a fictional serial killer, Sweeney’s weapon of choice is a straight razor. He would in some accounts take the corpses of his victims and have them baked into meat pies.

All this and Helena Bonham Carter... delish.

Posted by the Flea at 12:43 PM

Robots In Disguise: The Sex Has Made Me Stupid

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (via La Petite Claudine).

Posted by the Flea at 12:41 PM

Hoist the black flag

SoftFocus interviews Henry Rollins for VBS.tv. While Rollins has a mild case of BDS - if it was any other man I would say it is feigned - he has done multiple engagements for the USO. He not only has the right as an American to disagree, he has earned it through his actions.

Posted by the Flea at 12:37 PM

November 23, 2007

Datamancer's Steampunk Laptop

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Datamancer's latest creation: The Steampunk Laptop. It takes a clock-winding key to start... (via Brass Goggles).

It features an elaborate display of clockworks under glass, engraved brass accents, claw feet, an antiqued copper keyboard and mouse, leather wrist pads, and customized wireless network card. The machine turns on with an antique clock-winding key by way of a custom-built ratcheting switch made from old clock parts. The violin-style sound holes, or "F-holes" are functional speaker grills covered with black cloth.

Flea-readers desperate for a Datamancer original might consider this Steampunk Keyboard; a snip at $1000! Not by Datamancer but steampunk and inexplicably enticing is this necklace, these earrings and especially this necklace.

Posted by the Flea at 04:54 AM | Comments (6)

Rachmaninov plays Rachmaninov: Elegie

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 04:53 AM | Comments (4)

Creole Scream

I could use some help settling something. Creole Scream: One olive or two?

Updated: Dorkafork provides the definitive answer:

Philosophically, I'd say that more than one olive makes it a salad.

Posted by the Flea at 04:47 AM | Comments (1)

Enigmatic notoriety

Is there anything positive in life Skinny Puppy feels disposed to write about? Warning: Features terrifying '80s Much Music vjs. Also, City Limits in 1985. The second interview gave me Zinc - a once upon a time goth club in Hull, Québec whose name I have been trying to remember for weeks now - and Foufounes Électrique, a club in Montréal I have not been to in years.

Posted by the Flea at 04:44 AM

November 22, 2007

Well, of course, warfare isn't all fun

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Ultraquiet No More links a BBC piece sure to inspire confidence in the Royal Navy.

Britain is the only nuclear weapons state which does not have a fail-safe mechanism to prevent its submarines launching a nuclear attack without the right code being sent, according to tonight's Newsnight on BBC Two. The programme also reveals that until less than ten years ago, the locks on RAF nuclear bombs were opened with a bicycle lock key.

This via The Belmont Club where Wretchard adds the following.

Correction. It took more than a bicycle lock. It took a coin, an allen wrench and a bicycle lock key.

Or, as one comment points out, a Bic pen. Which does rather put the kibosh on any number of Bond film finales...

Posted by the Flea at 07:18 AM

Front Line Assembly: Mindphaser

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:17 AM

The Moby Question

Bill Wyman discusses the art of selling out in an article to the Washington Post.

The Moby Quotient, generated by the formula below, determines the degree to which artists besmirch their reputations when they lend their music to hawk products or companies. (The name salutes the techno artist Moby, who took the practice to new extremes with his 1999 album "Play." The Moby Quotient is designated by the Greek letter mu.) Each factor is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10; the number assignments can be subjective, but the formula is useful in gauging the relative outrage fans should feel with each instance of this continuing cultural blight. The higher the result, the greater the degree of selling out.

Which is all very interesting, of course, but I am looking for more of a how to.

Posted by the Flea at 07:14 AM

November 21, 2007

Wolf Cave

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It appears the birthplace of Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus, has been unearthed. Discovered during excavations of Augustus' palace on the Palatine, the Lupercal has now been penetrated with a probe - archaeologists are concerned for its structural integrity - which provided images of the Wolf Cave.

According to mythology Romulus and Remus were nursed by a she-wolf after being left on the River Tiber's banks. The twin sons of the god Mars and priestess Rhea Silvia are said to have later founded Rome on the Palatine in 753 BC. The brothers ended up fighting over who should be in charge of the city, a power struggle which ended only after Romulus killed his brother.

In Roman times a popular festival called the Lupercalia was held annually on 15 February. Young nobles called Luperci, taking their name from the place of the wolf (lupa), ran from the Lupercal around the bounds of the Palatine in what is believed to have been a purification ritual. Naked, except for the skins of goats that had been sacrificed that day, they would strike women they met on the hands with strips of sacrificial goatskin to promote fertility.

No word re goings on in the cave once they were done with the purification ritual. Yahoo! News has a slideshow while the BBC (from whence the quote) offers a cross-section diagram of the Palatine featuring the cave.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

John Barry: Amicalement Vôtre

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM | Comments (4)

Davos to Stelvio

The greatest driving road in the world.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

Virtuosity

Ace supports Rudy Giuliani in light of Giuliani's support for a virtual fence along the Mexican border.

I hope he'll be happy with my "virtual" support, which I assure him is just as good as real support, except without the actual support.
Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

November 20, 2007

Starry wisdom

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Formerly, the Sun was the largest object in the Solar System. Now, comet 17P/Holmes has pride of place. Its remarkable outburst changing the shape of Perseus.

Spectacular outbursting comet 17P/Holmes exploded in size and brightness on October 24. It continues to expand and is now the largest single object in the Solar system, being bigger than the Sun (see Figure). The diameter of the tenuous dust atmosphere of the comet was measured at 1.4 million kilometers (0.9 million miles) on 2007 November 9 by Rachel Stevenson, Jan Kleyna and Pedro Lacerda of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. They used observations from a wide-field camera on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), one of the few professional instruments still capable of capturing the whole comet in one image.

Which is all very interesting. But what does it mean? The problem with astrology these days is that - as with so much else - the discipline has been PC-fied into whining kintergarden pablum for the edification of the slow. I can just imagine one ersatz astronomer of my acquaintance "In council" with "Elders" determining this new star* in Perseus signifies the necessity for new growth and change but holds within its message a warning against rampant, unprovoked warmongering and the threat of global warmenism due to humanity's hubris and an addiction to sweet crude oil (mmm... so sweet).

This being complete toss, obviously. Far more likely is a sign from Perseus that Alyson Hannigan is seconds away from my door. I will hear her knocking and, opening, find her there with a bottle of Maker's Mark in her hand and the words "Face it, Tiger... you just hit the jackpot!" on her lips. Even now, I hear footfalls on the stairs. I rise and make for the door... Ia! Ia! Nyarlathotop ngai! Ia! Ia! The stars are aligned!

* Thinking like the ancients for a moment.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (5)

Martin Denny: Quiet Village

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM

November 19, 2007

The bell shall ring to wake them

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Despite freely admitting these misstatements years ago, made in desperation, she had not only been elected to Parliament, but had been viewed as a potential prime minister.

Prime Minister Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Now there is an excellent idea. Perhaps she still will be. This generation is still seeking its Churchill*; wouldn't that be something.

'They are mighty Arthur's warriors!'
Said the grey-man; 'Till the day
When the bell shall ring to wake them,
They must sleep. Then wake for aye!

* Thanks to one of several Red Ensign bloggers last week for the expression. Auchentoshan concentrates the mind.

Posted by the Flea at 07:23 AM

Erik Satie: Gnossienne No. 1

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM

Sand People always travel single file

A Royal Navy officer reportedly averted a friendly fire incident involving a Predator or Reaper UAV.

The UAV operator had been given clearance to engage the targets -- a group of 7-10 men -- in an operational theater. The men had been identified as hostile forces. The navy officer, believed to be working as part of a joint US-UK UAV force operating from Creech AFB, Nevada, noticed that the men, while dressed in local attire, did not actually walk in the same manner. This single observation led to the potential engagement being called off. The group were in fact special forces.

One comment suggests use of gait recognition software to help avert future incidents and anthropologists to teach our forces "local gaiting" to prevent hostile forces from recognizing them the same way this Royal Navy officer did. If only they had someone on hand who, for example, had taught nonverbal communication for a few years... Walk without rhythm and you won't attract the worm.

Posted by the Flea at 07:17 AM | Comments (1)

November 16, 2007

When you look with your eyes everything seems nice

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Speculation that Lily Allen was to become the new... face of Agent Provocateur may have proved to be unfounded. That is not to say they were unjustified. She is looking fine.

There aren't any Flea-readers who have missed the Kylie Agent Provocateur ad by any chance?

Posted by the Flea at 06:37 AM | Comments (1)

Mark Ronson feat. the Winettes: Valerie

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. This via Mr. Atrocities: "Die, Lily Allen!"

Posted by the Flea at 06:34 AM

HPAI A(H5N1)

Rantburg regular, Anonymoose offers a useful introduction to some of the formal nomenclature surrounding Avian flu in the first comment to a post on an outbreak in the UK. Also: Fun facts. For instance, I had no idea fish could be carriers of the virus. And this tidbit struck me as interesting.

But acquired resistance is not the only protection or defense we have against influenza. A large percentage of the population of North America, and many in Europe, have a genetic inhibitor to viral cell adhesion, which has been traced to the bubonic plague of the 15th and 17th Centuries. It is not yet known if it affords protection to the "H5" factor.

Reassuring if you happen to be a lucky plague victim descendant.

Posted by the Flea at 06:33 AM | Comments (3)

November 15, 2007

Horizontal Gothic

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Blackballed by Airbus for his unflattering remarks about their new product, Patrick Smith makes an intriguing claim which leads me to ask: The Boeing 727, goth or not goth?*

"Perhaps in ten to fifteen years," offered Geoffrey Thomas in last month's issue of Air Transport World, "the A380 will be described with the same passion and affection as the Sydney Opera House or the Eiffel Tower, two of many global icons that were bedeviled by controversy during their early years." Not this time.

Did it need to be this way? Is it true, to cite a quote attributed to an Airbus engineer some years ago, that "Air does not yield to style"? Jet age romantics recall the provocative curves of machines like the Caravelle; the urbane, needle-nosed superiority of Concorde; the Gothic surety of the 727. You're telling us that planes need to be boring, or worse, in the name of efficiency and economy. No, they don't.

A fair point.

* Now to be serious: Gothic or not gothic? While the allusion is fascinating I cannot see anything gothic in the 727. It is beautiful, yes, but without ornament and conveys no sense of awe or the numinous. Nor, I think, is it meant to. I suppose the silhouette might work as negative space for a vault if the vehicle was sat on its tail...

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (6)

Blondie: Detroit 442

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

The Ultimate War Simulation Game

David Wong's Grandpa always said, there were no naked human pyramids in Starcraft. A reminder in case there is anyone who thinks defeating the enemy in detail means having better stats.

I want factions. Not a simple aliens vs. humans or Russians vs. Americans war orgy. I want to share the map with powerful forces who are not friend or foe or anything else, a news media, private corporations, asshole allies and friendly enemies, everyone jockeying for their own interests and me unable to bend over at any moment without turning my codpiece around first. I want a France.
Posted by the Flea at 07:01 AM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2007

Well fit

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The Daily Mail proves it is good for something with a photo-pictorial piece documenting, amongst other things, Kylie Minogue's recovery from breast cancer and her course of treatment. She is looking fit. Ahem (hat tip to Agent Bedhead).

Her latest album, her tenth, is called X - and to publicise it, Kylie Minogue was more than happy to slip into some X-rated clothing. The 39-year-old pop singer showed off her curves in a black swimsuit with a buckled black leather breastplate, purple armpiece and fishnet stockings. Her glowing appearance is all the more remarkable following her recent successful battle against breast cancer, with which she was diagnosed in 2005.

Fun fact: Kylie also makes music!

On a completely unrelated note is Sarah Michelle Gellar topless in Maxim. I cannot think of anything I plan to write about over the next few days where this link will fit. But I somehow feel obligated to let Flea-readers know. So there you go.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (2)

Sh*tdisco: OK

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.*

* This indirectly via a link at Ace of Spades HQ: A nsfw job interview.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

January 29, 2006

An awesome aspect of the internet and, by extension, our new way of life is how one day I can be missing London as I do a Google Earth flyby and abstractly wonder what was going on in Trafalgar Square and a couple days later I can visit Londonist where somebody else had been wondering the same thing.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

Third Section

Michael Ledeen thinks through the Kremlin's deception of Persia, concluding with a satisfying - if perhaps apocryphal - homily. Pity the Third Section, whatever it is calling itself these days.

"We're supposed to tell the Kremlin what the Americans are going to do next. But it's impossible to know that, since the Americans don't know themselves."

Crazy like a fox.

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM

November 13, 2007

Egg shells armed with hammers

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With the 2014 commissioning of the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales in 2016, the Royal Navy is relearning big deck carrier operations.

As officials in London prepared to approve construction of two 65,000-metric-ton aircraft carriers, one of Britain’s two existing flattops was off the U.S. coast for a refresher course in big-deck carrier operations.

“Although we invented carrier operations, we have lost a lot of the knowledge needed to run big decks, and we are relearning it from countries like America and France,” said Lt. Jon Llewellyn, flight deck officer on the HMS Illustrious.

The Royal Navy last operated a big deck in 1978, when it retired the 54,000-ton HMS Ark Royal and its 50-jet air wing. Since then, the British fleet has flown 20-aircraft groups of Harriers and helicopters from three 22,500-ton Invincible-class ships.

The Flea is a big fan of carriers - the bigger, the better - but an even bigger fan of submarines. HMCS Cornerbrook, for example. That is HMS Illustrious* in her cross-hairs above. A Defense Review article arguing the vulnerability of supercarriers and, by extension, of the might of the United States Navy is worth revisiting. The comments section to this Rantburg aircraft carrier post are also worth a look; from whence the source of my tag-line and for an excellent question: "Does somebody have the link to the invulnerable weapons systems list?"

* NATO’s High Readiness Maritime Strike Carrier, now operating with a United States Marine Corps Harrier wing. The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force cannot scrape together enough aircraft between them to do the job. Have we learned nothing from Battlestar Galactica?

Update: Damn the BBC.

Here's an example of the steady stream of bias that pours daily from the BBC. Saturday's From Our Own Correspondent had an article on an American destroyer off Mombasa that was aimed solely at discrediting and mocking America. Unless, of course, the writer intended to praise America when he wrote, "Wicked imperialists like to pick the best spots for themselves."

The BBC: Your license fee supporting twenty-first century pirates. Real pirates not Johnny Depp pirates.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (3)

Laibach: Das Spiel ist Aus

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

Perfume, smoke and scotch

Peggy Noonan argues Hillary Clinton is no Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher, she argues, never stood as a woman but was a woman at the head of a movement.

In fact, she wasn't so much a woman as a lady. I remember a gentleman who worked with her speaking of her allure, how she'd relax after a late-night meeting and you'd walk by and catch just the faintest whiff of perfume, smoke and scotch.
Posted by the Flea at 07:01 AM

November 12, 2007

See the bones in your hand, see through clothes!

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Defense Tech reprinted an article from the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald.* At issue: The helmet in development for the F-35. No word whether it will also reveal details of a lady's undergarments.

Futuristic new helmets will enable fighter jet pilots to see through their own aircraft, the Ministry of Defence said today. The head gear being developed for the hi-tech F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is being tested by MoD scientists at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. An MoD spokesman said:

"Unlike other jet aircraft the JSF, which is planned to replace the Harrier, does not have a traditional head-up display. Instead the computerised symbology will be displayed directly on to the pilot's visors, providing the pilot with cues for flying, navigating and fighting the aircraft. ... It even will superimpose infra-red imagery on to the visor to allow the pilot to look through the cockpit floor at night and see the world below - like something out of Terminator.

* A note defense industry publication, I am certain.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (1)

Yazoo: Don't Go

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (1)

Electronics Tattoo

There was a time when RE/Search #12: Modern Primitives was the dernier cri in counter-culture self-expression. Now there is Philips Design Probe, Electronics Tattoo.

Tattoos and physical mutilation are amongst the oldest forms of personal expression and identity. Subcultures have used tattoos as a form of self representation; a visual language communicating personality and status. Philips Design examined the growing trend of extreme body adornment like tattoos, piercing, implants and scarring.

An odd refractory effect of postmodern authenticity - for I think this is not the contradiction in terms many critics would suggest - is to the effect that a multinational corporation can appropriate a counter-culture practice but, thanks to Neuromancer and Blade Runner, such corporate appropriation of said practices only serves to reinforce the aesthetic it would commodify. The advertising does not subvert or attenuate the scene, only serve as a backdrop or wallpaper for it.

All I can say is I am glad I read Pattern Recognition before reading this William Gibson interview for Rolling Stone. Full on BDS and global warmenism suggests the man is a bit of a dim bulb. Disappointing when a white goods manufacturer is doing a better job living in the future than the father of cyberpunk.

Posted by the Flea at 07:01 AM

November 11, 2007

I wonder what Wellington will do now? He will never be content to become a private citizen again.

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Even in defeat, perhaps especially in defeat, it was beyond Napoleon's capacity to ascribe any motives but his own to his greatest adversary.* Free peoples have shown time and again they can defeat the Enemy. Time and again we have demonstrated we want nothing more than to return to our families and the warmth of the home fires. Napoleon's ilk are missing something; some part of their humanity which would allow them to understand how great a sacrifice it is to be away from home. In the end, the men we face are little men; from the Dark Lord down to his Death Eater apologists amongst us.** Something else to remember.

* Thanks to C.S. Lewis' A Preface to Paradise Lost for the observation.
** And their "pacifist" fellow travelers.

Worth reading: A conversation in Bagram, Afghanistan; End of the War Hero; How the War was Won (Part one).

Posted by the Flea at 11:00 AM

Anomalee

An aside for someone in particular: Looking for my music? Check out my MySpace...

Posted by the Flea at 10:00 AM

November 09, 2007

Airship piracy is an attractive option

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I did mention Abney Park* played the Opera House last week? Images from the event are starting to appear on Flickr; here** and here, for example. Also featured was some local steamfashion (hat tip to Ragged Robin). I will not comment too closely on the above image. While I have been assured I am currently in violation of no temporal restraining orders it is best not to push one's luck in these matters lest a vortex open and the nice gentlemen arrive with the Odic generators and the butterfly nets and the taking away for assisting with inquiries. There are only so many times a soul can escape Bedlam without making a nuisance of oneself.

* I do not believe I have ever mentioned Abney Park Cemetery at the Flea. It is about two minutes further along the Number 73 bus route from my Islington home; close and consequently was a frequent dog walking destination. There are some Quaker connections besides. The last I saw the place it was in some disrepair... the first time I saw the place I managed to put a foot wrong and straight into some poor soul's not quite final resting place. Not an experience to be repeated. But I digress.
** Joe Szilvagyi is clearly a genius. These images are stunning.

Posted by the Flea at 05:57 AM | Comments (2)

Fields of the Nephilim: Moonchild

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 05:54 AM

The Experiences of a Very Unimportant Officer

The Experiences of a Very Unimportant Officer, The Great War diary of Captain Alexander Stewart of 3rd Scottish Rifles, was written in 1917 shortly after an injury and returning home. Only three copies existed until his grandson Jaime Stewart came across them and decided they deserved a wider public. I will never be one tenth as Flea-ish as Captain Stewart was on the front line.

Captain Stewart's diary, which has been published for the first time, reveals how on one occasion he struggled to shoot straight during a battle because of his pipe.

He wrote: "After my third or fourth shot, I found that the bowl of my pipe and the smoke from it was obscuring my line of vision as I was firing slightly downwards all the time. Much to my annoyance, I had to put my pipe in my pocket alight as it was; it was lucky that it did not burn my jacket.

"Just as I got my rifle working I saw a man in the trench calmly kneeling down and taking an aim at me. At the moment I saw him he fired. But in a miraculous way he missed."

Telegraph readers share their parents and grandparents stories of the War in comments to a related article.

Posted by the Flea at 05:53 AM | Comments (5)

From beyond

BldgBlog finds a parallel between the Antares neutrino telescope and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, viz:

Within twenty-four hours that machine near the table will generate waves acting on unrecognized sense organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us many vistas unknown to man and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight. We shall see these things, and other things which no breathing creature has yet seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, and without bodily motion peer to the bottom of creation.

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu ftagn!!

Posted by the Flea at 05:51 AM | Comments (2)

November 08, 2007

Elena Gibson dances the Bolero

To think Elena Gibson was disqualified for stripping. Perish the thought. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance. A little risquée for work unless you are employed in a pole-dancing related industry.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Smoots

A search for memorable hacks of MIT's Great Dome lead to the following supplement to my vocabulary: smoots.

Marking off the length of the Harvard Bridge in 5-foot, 7-inch segments known as Smoots, celebrating the stature of Lambda Chi Alpha pledge Oliver Smoot Jr. The Smoot markers, first painted in 1958, have been renewed regularly for 41 years as the paint fades. The bridge measures 364 Smoots and one ear.

Oliver Reed Smoot, Jr., it transpires, was in the fullness of time to become Chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) from 2001 to 2002 and President of the International Organization for Standardization ( ISO) from 2003 to 2004. The wheels of karma grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (2)

The apotheosis of freedom

The University of Delaware doubles down on its Maoist indoctrination program. Student RAs have been forbidden to speak to the media about the curriculum of their program but have been mandated to speak against the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) (via Instapundit).

The RAs are forbidden to talk to outsiders about the residential curriculum, though attacking FIRE is apparently allowed. Adam Kissel of FIRE Reported on November 3 that a parent wrote to say that her son "told me that RAs were 'mandated' to speak out against FIRE to the media. One refused and was told by residence life staff that he would lose his job and the university would not consider him a student anymore. I asked him if he (the RA) would be expelled and he said that was 100 percent correct."

The Chronicle of Higher Education blog said several RAs had been asked to speak favorably about the program to the news media. "When I declined I was taken aside and told that my future as an RA was in jeopardy as was my future as a student, " he said "I decide to stand up for myself."

I have no idea what this last fellow's personal views might be; it is entirely possible I would disagree with him on every point. But his decision to stand up for himself is a decision to be free. It is a decision which in today's academy imposes a stiff price. The University of Delaware almost certainly has no idea its actions are tyrannical and their methods totalitarian; the program appears to be in violation of the 1871 Civil Rights Act - the Ku Klux Klan Act - forbidding a state from denying civil rights to its citizens. I hope the University's officials are held personally liable for this little bubble of evil. Let their lives be an object lesson for the rest of their kind. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see what legal recourse Canadian undergraduate students would have if faced with the same brainwashing program. They would have to face down the entire Canadian establishment were they to complain.

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM

November 07, 2007

The Tallis Fantasia

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BBC3's Discovering Music considers The Tallis Fantasia. Stunning. Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was first performed at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral on September 6, 1910.*

The program was primarily devoted to Sir Edward Elgar's oratorio The Dream of Gerontius, which may partly account for its relatively cool reception. But its treatment, unusual for its day, of the unusual source material may also have puzzled the audience.

Vaughan Williams encountered Tallis' hymn while editing The English Hymnal in 1906; it had first appeared in Archbishop Parker's Metrical Psalter in 1567, set to the words, "Why fumeth in fight?" The peculiar modal qualities of the tune, with its prominent flatted seventh, not only allowed the composer considerable harmonic freedom from the prevailing strictures of diatonicism and chromaticism, but also made possible the simultaneous sense of the ancient and the modern that is the work's hallmark.

It must have been both Potterish and extraordinary; the acoustics of Gloucester Cathedral are just otherworldly...

This is a sound file split into six parts and uploaded to YouTube. There is no video component so possibly listenable even to dial-up using Flea-readers. Alternately, the whole piece may be downloaded as a RealMedia file from the Discovering Music archive.

* The photo pictures a carving in Gloucester Cathedral made around 1280. The photo itself was borrowed from The English Square Fydell page, one of a number of wonderful, unprofitable instruments... "Some all-but-forgotten bowed instruments from centuries ago produce sounds so ghastly and aggressive that it's easy to understand why they may not generate much revenue for their makers."

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (3)

SPK: In Flagrante Delicto

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

The Soldiers' Story

Panorama presents that rarest beast to be found on British public television: A sympathetic portrayal of the British mission in Afghanistan, the British Army and - most important - of British soldiers. "Taking on the Taleban -The Soldiers' Story" will be available as streaming media for the next few days (via the Drink Soaked Trots).

With two companies of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, we joined the Grenadier Guards as they headed into the Green Zone. The aim was to clear the village of Kakaran and hold on to it. At the same time the Worcester and Sherwood Foresters were to clear and hold Rajim Kalay, north east of Kakaran. Both forces would then work together to further clear and hold the Green Zone.

We drove to one of the patrol bases and slept on the sand and gravel outside. At 0200 we got up and walked into the Green Zone; by morning we had gone through the whole of Kakaran without incident. The sun wasn't yet scorching and I was enjoying a ludicrously false sense of security when one of the interpreters ran over with a radio held in the air.

He'd found the Taleban's frequency and had heard them say that they were about to attack. ...

For so it is written: Watch the whole thing. If you cannot spare the time, watch a few minutes from about 36 to 41 minutes in. The people want the Afghan and the British armies to stay. Remember this the next time some self-styled progressive wants to hand everything back to Dark Ages lunatics. I will try to remember it the next time some intemperate thought crosses my mind.

Related: An invisible tank the British Army may never get to use and the Taranis unmanned fighter-bomber; an innovation we may live to regret (with video!).

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

November 06, 2007

Question everything

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Theodore Dalrymple considers a rash of neo-atheist publications. Much to consider as ever. I am particularly taken with his critique of a bone-brained skepticism.

The last of the atheist’s Ten Commandments ends with the following: “Question everything.” Everything? Including the need to question everything, and so on ad infinitum?

Not to belabor the point, but if I questioned whether George Washington died in 1799, I could spend a lifetime trying to prove it and find myself still, at the end of my efforts, having to make a leap, or perhaps several leaps, of faith in order to believe the rather banal fact that I had set out to prove. Metaphysics is like nature: though you throw it out with a pitchfork, yet it always returns. What is confounded here is surely the abstract right to question everything with the actual exercise of that right on all possible occasions. Anyone who did exercise his right on all possible occasions would wind up a short-lived fool.

Though their purpose is a good deal more sinister than mere philosophical fol-de-rol, there could be no more succinct condemnation of those who claim to be "just asking questions".

Here is what I would like to see: Another of Christopher Hitchens' challenge debates with this time with Dalrymple, a non-believer himself. That would be a proper argument.* The above image is Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber (1602) by Juan Sánchez Cotán. Dalrymple puts it in context, as he does some fine thoughts of Joseph Hall, late lord bishop of Exeter and of Norwich.

* As opposed to the usual death-match with half-wits. For example, Dinesh D’Souza & Christopher Hitchens debated “Is Christianity the Problem?” Hitchens has a high opinion of him, one I do not believe is merited given the secondary school debating club rhetoric D'Souza brings to the fight. I will put up with a law of physics being confused with a moral law when I am watching Event Horizon, not in matters of public policy.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (2)

Attrition: A girl called Harmony

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Arrowhead Project redux

Flea-readers who have not read Stephen King's classic novella The Mist or heard its astonishing ZBS Foundation radio adaption - in kunstkopf binaural sound! - and have any plans whatsoever to do so are best advised not to watch this trailer for the forthcoming film. I understand the artards need to be reassured they will enjoy a movie before they shell out to see it but why must the rest of us be made to suffer for it? These are the same cretins who read the last page of a romance novel; they need to know everything turns out for the best for for committing to the story.

Shoot them. Shoot the people who enable them.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (4)

In Search Of...

With my apologies to anyone with work to get done:

... Bigfoot

... The Abominable Snowman

... Ghosts

... Ghosts in photography

... Life before birth

... The Castle of Secrets

... The Elephant Man

... The Man Who Wouldn't Die

... Marilyn Monroe

... UFOs

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2007

Many people do not enjoy the Spice Girls' music

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These people are completely missing the point. The point is about girl power and how you should be proud of yourself no matter what you look like. Take Victoria Beckham, for example. You can assume a positive attitude about your appearance despite having had a somewhat pneumatic breast enhancement. Not everyone's cup of tea, admittedly, nor indeed everyone's champagne glass or - as circumstances have it - whisky quaich. But each to his own. Each to his own. For does not the Good Book counsel us that what is one man's bread is another man's poison? Exactly.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (9)

Duran Duran: Falling Down

Laura Pyper is looking well fit. Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

November 02, 2007

Shoewawa Report

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The Age claims the big trend in footwear this season is fetishism.

Kylie Minogue teeters on the red carpet.

There is an article attached as well. It is probably very interesting.

Unrelated good news: Joss Whedon is reported to have a new television series on the way. Better yet, it is set to star Eliza Dushku (hat tip to the Sister of the Flea). Here is a Fox blurb; an interview follows.

Echo (Eliza Dushku) [is] a young woman who is literally everybody's fantasy. She is one of a group of men and women who can be imprinted with personality packages, including memories, skills, language—even muscle memory—for different assignments. The assignments can be romantic, adventurous, outlandish, uplifting, sexual and/or very illegal. When not imprinted with a personality package, Echo and the others are basically mind-wiped, living like children in a futuristic dorm/lab dubbed the Dollhouse, with no memory of their assignments—or of much else. The show revolves around the childlike Echo's burgeoning self-awareness, and her desire to know who she was before, a desire that begins to seep into her various imprinted personalities and puts her in danger both in the field and in the closely monitored confines of the Dollhouse.
Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM | Comments (1)

Massimo & Pierce: A Suicidal Bunny

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM

The Lady in White

A bit overwhelmed by Abney Park 's appearance at last night's A Clockwork Fantasy. Suffice to say, watching a lovely ex dance on stage with Magdalene Veen is a moment to treasure.

Flea-readers not in attendance can get a little steampunk fix with StormWinds, a fanciful time waster for the Friday cubicle bound (via Brass Goggles).

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM

November 01, 2007

Carla Bruni: Quelqu'un m'a dit

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM