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June 30, 2009

I think I know where this is headed

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Japanese spaceship Kaguya has detected uranium on the Moon.

The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft, which was launched in 2007, detected uranium with a gamma-ray spectrometer. Scientists are using the instrument to create maps of the moon's surface composition, showing the presence of thorium, potassium, oxygen, magnesium, silicon, calcium, titanium and iron.
...
The findings could help decide where to build future lunar colonies, since manned outposts will need energy, and could potentially derive it from nuclear power plants.

Just take care with your recycling programs.

Related: Hot women of Space: 1999.

Update: Mike Campbell offers another possible destination.

Posted by the Flea at 08:08 AM

David Bowie: Big Brother

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

June 29, 2009

But not for thee

Daily Mail Deputy Political Editor, Tim Shipman, introduces Labour's British homes for British workers policy.

British-born families will jump ahead of immigrants and asylum seekers in the queue for council housing under far-reaching plans unveiled today. Gordon Brown will tear up the rules in a bid to win back Labour's working class heartlands, where support has grown for the far-Right British National Party. The 'British homes for British workers' plan, if it succeeds, will force councils to end the unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list.

Let's see if understand this correctly. "British homes for British workers" prioritizes the British over immigrants and asylum seekers and, as such, addresses a far-right grievance held by former Labour voters wooed by the British National Party.

Some questions: How does Labour introducing the same far-right policy - especially with this Orwellian name - change its presumed racism? Further, why does the Daily Mail deputy political editor not feel it necessary to describe the perceived unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list? Or are we all meant to intuitively grasp such unfairness (and as such intuitively empathize with this far-right policy)?

Finally, what other policy inspiration is Gordon Brown's Labour party planning to take from the BNP?

Posted by the Flea at 06:14 AM

Cabin Crew: Star To Fall

Posted by the Flea at 06:01 AM

June 28, 2009

Queen: I want to break free

On an unrelated note: My comments are still fried and I do not see a quick fix. My apologies for the inconvenience.

Posted by the Flea at 12:27 PM

Armed Forces Day

Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy, described as "sickening" a noisy protest by a small number of Irish republicans objecting to Britain's first Armed Forces Day (formerly Veterans Day). I may have shared his opinion had I been exposed to the protesters myself though how anyone can express the least surprise at Irish republicans objecting to Her Majesty's armed forces is beyond me.

Far more sickening is the apparent nonchalance evinced by his government at the current state of Her Majesty's armed forces. The first Type 45 destroyer is to set to sea without a fully operational air defence system while a "black hole" in defence funding may sink what is left of the Royal Navy and with it much of the UK's nuclear deterrent.

Overstretch of the armed forces must be ended, according to a report whose authors include the former Nato secretary general, Lord Robertson, ex-Marine Lord Ashdown and former chief of the defence staff Lord Guthrie.

They argue that Britain should no longer struggle to maintain a full range of defence capability like the US and instead consider scrapping up to £24bn of future "big ticket" projects - including two new aircraft carriers, the F35 joint strike fighters designed to fly from them, six new Type 45 destroyers, four new Astute hunter-killer submarines and the replacement of the Vanguard submarines carrying Trident.

While they are at it, I shall consider cutting my passport in half and mailing it to Buckingham Palace.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

June 26, 2009

How an Indie Musician can make $19,000 in 10 hours using Twitter

Off to study Amanda Palmer's Twitternomics. Warren Ellis posts a retweet by way of summary.

from @amandapalmer re #LOFNOTC: "total made on twitter in 2hrs = $11,000; total made from Ben Folds-produced major label album = $0"

cash made by @amandapalmer in one month on Twitter = $19,000; cash made by @amandapalmer from 30,000 record sales = $0
Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

The devil is in them

Information Dissemination identifies an alarming technical detail of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) reported to be by mainland China; second stage control fins which would make this a ballistic missile without a fixed trajectory.

Why does this matter? Because open source information sources describing AEGIS ballistic missile defense note that AEGIS calculates intercept based primarily due to launch trajectory, and I'd bet your paycheck that when the PLA Strategic Rocket Forces realized that, they knew that if they could make a mid-course correction during flight, they would invalidate the AEGIS BMD capability.

You see, if the launch is accurately detected, trajectory can be determined based on the launch. When we shoot our SM-3, because ballistic missiles have a fixed trajectory, our interceptor knows where the missile is going to be and can intercept it.

But if a ballistic missile changes course in flight, our AEGIS BMD interceptor finds itself in the wrong place, because it calculated the intercept based on the initial trajectory, not the new trajectory following the mid-course change.

This technical detail is why I call bullshit with the Navy's suggestion that we have a critical need for more DDG-51s specifically for ballistic missile defense. The Burke is not capable of intercepting this ballistic missile, and we are going to need a new radar that can track the mid-course change accurately, and new software to very quickly do the math for identifying a new intercept point if we are going to defeat this weapon. That is going to be enormously expensive, which is why when I say I think the Navy is going to need $6 billion nuclear cruisers if they are going to evolve ballistic missile defense towards 21st century threats, I'm not kidding.

Update: Chris Taylor responds via email.

I am reading that Information Dissemination post and it is causing me to scratch my head... We've had gimbaled thrust since Goddard proved the concept in 1937, and they've been integral to US ICBMs since the 50s. Surely the idea of inflight course changes has ah, advanced a ilttle since then? It's not like other things (ships, airplanes, tanks) stay still when other sorts of warheads get lobbed at them. Granted, they go a little slower (Mach 3-6, vs Mach 10 for a ballistic booster).

We could always use that other integral part of AEGIS BMD, the ability to intercept targets in the terminal (i.e. final) phase, rather than an earlier phase (like midcourse). In other words, wait until after the second stage does it manouvre, then plonk the warhead. It just means you probably won't get a lot of second chances; the first volley has to matter.

Also, the missile doesn't have to do much in the way of target search. You can have some dopey trawler or sub shadow the target and give you a halfway-decent lat/long fix. In the sixteen minutes it will take for the ASBM to reach its target 3000km distant at mach 10, a carrier is not going to move a few hundred miles at 30 knots max speed. It will move 8 nautical miles at best. What are the odds you can develop a seeker/terminal guidance sensor small enough to fit into the 1.4m diameter of a DF-21 ASBM, but big enough to have a search range of say, 16nm? 1.4m is big enough to put a fullblown F-22-style AN/APG-77 AESA array (0.98m diameter) in there with a detection and targeting range of 125 nm.

I dunno what to make of it really. None of the concerns he has raised seem to be insurmountable technical challenges for either side.

Another update: I should explain my comments system appears to be having some sort of indigestion. Consequently, I am posting another response via email; this from Armored Facilities Manager.

From what I understand of the open source material, the Aegis system in fact relies on directing separate beams of Radar at the target which, by reflection cue the missile to the target terminally.

Initial trajectories will be off, but if the Ballistic missile is launched at the Surface Action group itself, then there will be very little ballistic correction to make.

I have to wonder whether SM-2 would in fact do the job neatly.

The other aspect is that the guidance is mostly software. I doubt that the folks at Hughes are sitting on their backsides NOT coming up with tweaks to effect positive intercepts of a maneuvering terminal ballistic missile were there a problem.

Note, SM-3 intercepted a satellite which was in effect maneuvering a touch due to atmospheric effects on it's irregular shape. They HAD to do final calculations to get the hit to kill warhead on the satellite.
Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

KT Tunstall: I Want You Back

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

June 25, 2009

The shape of things to come

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Drone pilot trainees are now the majority in the United States Air Force.

The Air Force said it will train 240 pilots to fly Predator and Reaper drones compared with 214 fighter and bomber pilots for fiscal year 2009 ending Sept. 30. Officials said there are 550 drone operators compared with 3,700 fighter and 900 bomber pilots.
Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Pink Floyd: Learning to fly (from the Division bell tour)

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

June 24, 2009

The strong must be protected from the weak

In defiance of his public school educated party leader, former grammar school boy David Davis calls for a return to the grammar school system.

'Today we are witnessing the results of a failed revolution, where egalitarians abolished grammar schools to level opportunity in our society, and accidentally destroyed the chances of the very people they were trying to help,' he said. 'They punished the bright poor kids who were held back. They handicapped the intellectual capacity of the country.

'And out of this catastrophe there was only one winning group. Do you know who they were?

'Yes, the public schools. Who teach just 7 per cent of the population.'

Mr Davis said public school boys now 'run Britain', adding: 'The media, the law, business - they are all dominated by public school boys.'

One wonders what the over/under is on an "egalitarian" having gone to a public school. The consequences of the destruction of the grammar school system may not be as unintentional as Davis believes them to be.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions

A high-power chemical laser aboard the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) aircraft has been fired in flight for the first time. Good news for Boeing and the United States Air Force. Now we just have to wait until the People's Liberation Army Air Force produces an economical version for mass production to see how it works.

During the test, ATL took off from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and fired its laser while flying over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., successfully hitting a target board located on the ground. ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Air Force, is a C-130H aircraft equipped with a chemical laser, a beam control system, sensors and weapon-system consoles.

"This successful test is a major step toward bringing directed energy capability to the warfighter," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems.
Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

Evolution of Dance

In a mood this morning.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

June 23, 2009

David Guetta: Baby When The Light

Guitar tone in the age of digital effects pods.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

June 22, 2009

Rudenko: Everybody

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM

June 20, 2009

Electric Light Orchestra: Dont Bring Me Down

What do you call a guy who hangs out with three musicians?

Posted by the Flea at 07:11 AM

June 19, 2009

Alex Gaudino & Jason Rooney: I Love Rock N Roll

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

June 18, 2009

Impossibly shiny and tidy

Peter Hitchens pens a longer piece on his travel to Japan.

Among Tokyo's sparkling towers and madly busy streets, you get a strong feeling of being in a different universe from ours, a feeling strengthened by the way British mobile phones are not advanced enough to work here, and your cashpoint card is rejected with an almost audible sneer by most Japanese bank machines.

As a Japanese friend said: 'We are on another planet here, the only place that has not globalised.'

A fact that means entries in both the credit and debit columns. Too much to summarize so RTWT if Lost in Translation left you thinking of a move to Tokyo.

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM | Comments (3)

Civilization

Civilization by Marco Brambilla from CRUSH on Vimeo.

By Marco Brambilla.

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

June 17, 2009

Kate Bush: Hello Earth / The Morning Fog


Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

June 16, 2009

The pillar of cloud by day

"A dusty old Ford Explorer stands abandoned on a track before a towering inferno of wind and Kansas dirt in an image that feels like a scene from the Wizard of Oz."

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Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM | Comments (3)

The Beatles: Sun King / Mean Mr. Mustard / Polythene Pam / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

June 15, 2009

Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome

The world's leading authority on the neurobiology of the living dead, Dr. Steven C. Schlozman is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a lecturer at the Harvard School of Education. Dr Scholzman has reportedly co-authored a ground breaking work on Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome, or ANSD, which describes zombie brain function.

But to the meat of the issue:

Science may once and for all settle the heated debate over whether "the infected" in 28 Days Later could be classified as zombies.

Schlozman says "no," observing that "the infected" possess "some sort of higher cortical function going on that allows them to hunt humans." Moreover, the fake zombies in 28 Days Later exhibit fluidity of motion. They can run, jump, climb and quickly change direction-activities that the true Romero zombies are incapable of performing.
Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

The Beatles: Michelle

Posted by the Flea at 08:51 AM

June 14, 2009

James May, Top Gear and the North Pole

Sunday afternoon entertainment for Flea-readers everywhere. First, this rather excellent James May interview.

If May's continual bickering with Clarkson seems like an unhappy marriage on-screen, he says it's even worse off-screen. Filming the famous episode where they drove a Toyota across sea ice to the North Pole, they had blazing rows the entire way about the music coming out of Clarkson's iPod.

It wasn't that May dislikes King Crimson, Yes and Genesis - although he wishes Clarkson's tastes extended to The Stooges or Guns N' Roses - it was that Clarkson likes to talk over music, whereas May likes to listen to it. The pair argued almost constantly - until they almost went through the ice.

'That was the most scared we've ever been. Every muscle in my body was primed for death. There was a hammer in the car for breaking the window in the event of going under, and I'd loosened it so that I could free it with one finger. I was rehearsing it in my mind - "If we go through the ice, I'll do that, that and that to free myself, grab Jeremy if necessary..."

Second, this Top Gear polar special.

In which the English demonstrate they do not understand quite how dangerous is the winter.

Posted by the Flea at 11:04 AM | Comments (2)

Short Attention Span Theater

With the promise of a five episode story arc to launch Torchwood season 3, the Guardian TV&Radio Blog yearns for a return to episodic science fiction television.

Personally, I blame J Michael Straczynski. Back in the early 1990s, Straczynski, or JMS as fans know him, created Babylon 5. When it was first shown on Channel 4, it looked like a science-fiction series about a space station. The CGI was a bit shonky, but it passed the time.

Inexorably, though, it became clear that JMS, a control freak who wrote 92 of the show's 110 episodes himself, had an overarching vision. It involved a portentous brew of big themes – politics, destiny, war, peace, love. If you tried to start watching Babylon 5 with series three, you were left hopelessly confused.

Which is to confuse a story told over five episodes and a story told over five years (or, for B5, 4 years +). Comments to the piece point out there would not have been much Doctor Who if the show had been strictly episodic.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Building the World Trade Center Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (1983)

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

June 13, 2009

Wojciech Kilar: Prologue - My Life Before Me

Something beautiful (with Gustav Klimt thrown in for illustrative purposes).

Posted by the Flea at 01:49 PM

Loreena McKennitt: The Highwayman

Posted by the Flea at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2009

The Great Game

Alan Cullison sees Russian meddling - and political violence - in Kyrgyzstan as a continuation of the Great Game between Moscow and Washington.

Fair enough. But a rather more dramatic example involves a Indian troop build up on its border with China.

China on Thursday rejected suggestions that incursions by its troops into the Indian territory were on the rise, and cautioned India that any move to increase troop presence along the disputed border in Arunachal Pradesh “would only lead to a rivalry between the two countries.”

Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.J. Singh said earlier this week that two Army divisions of around 30,000 soldiers each would be deployed along the disputed border as part of a “planned augmentation of [India’s] capabilities to defend the country.” Mr. Singh’s statement followed reported claims from officials that Chinese incursions into Indian territory had become more frequent in the past one year.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters on Thursday that China “cannot accept such an allegation.”

Nor keep its story straight. A Chinese news source belittles India's influence and makes vague threats.

Indian politicians these days seem to think their country would be doing China a huge favor simply by not joining the “ring around China” established by the US and Japan.

India’s growing power would have a significant impact on the balance of this equation, which has led India to think that fear and gratitude for its restraint will cause China to defer to it on territorial disputes.

But this is wishful thinking, as China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India. And while China wishes to coexist peacefully with India, this desire isn’t born out of fear.
Posted by the Flea at 08:59 AM

Hafod Eryri

An £8 million cafe perched atop Mount Snowdon is the UK's highest cafe, replacing a 1935 construction Prince Charles described as "the highest slum in Wales."

Five years ago the authority decided to commit the equivalent of its entire annual budget into the one project to redevelop the site. The resulting granite structure, called Hafod Eryri, has been built to withstand the extreme weather conditions for which the mountain is famous, and even has a glass wall offering a 'window on the world'.

The name of the building was chosen from hundreds of entries from members of the public. Eryri means Snowdonia but Hafod which is an old Welsh term for a shepherd's summer residence on high land has no direct translation.

It is an impressive structure but could do with a massive beacon or possibly monumental images of forgotten kings for the finishing Tolkien touch.

Construction enthusiasts will enjoy the many images of work in progress at Snowdon Summit Blog.

Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

Maiden Castle

Remains of fifty headless bodies near Maiden Castle may be evidence of Vespasian's march to the sea. Or high spirits. Taking heads was a bit of a local pass time with the British before the Romans turned up.

The burial site is close to Maiden Castle - Europe's largest Iron Age hill fort where the local Celtic tribe are said to have staged their last stand against General Vespasian and his Roman legion after the invasion.

Vespasian led a force south-westwards for Emperor Claudius. His aim was to secure coastal ports and harbours, as well as tin and silver mines in Cornwall and Somerset. Along the way, he captured 20 hill forts - including Maiden Castle, according to archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler.
Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM | Comments (1)

Eluveitie: Inis Mona

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

June 11, 2009

No set of proposals can now overcome the fact that this is a Parliament that has lost its moral authority

Second look at: William Hague.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Fibe-Mini

Lettuce + lemons = kick ass!

This one goes with a shout out to the Neighbour of the Flea. May he return to the True Faith.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | Comments (3)

June 10, 2009

Swotty and annoying is an excellent way to go through life, actually

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Emma Watson - pictured above with house elf Dobby - is the new face of Burberry.

Shot by Mario Testino in Westminster, close to Burberry's headquarters at Horseferry House, the images capture Watson in a collection inspired by Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set.

Related: J.K. Rowling quotes about Hermione Granger.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM | Comments (2)

Quantity does provide a quality

DefenseTech argues fear over China's growing military prowess at sea are misplaced. It is not much of an argument, frankly, though I am glad to see they noticed the number "55" in China's diesel-electric submarine column.

The one category in which the Chinese Navy does pose a potential threat to the U.S. Navy -- in this writer's opinion -- is in non-nuclear submarines. The Chinese Navy has modern, Russian-built Kilo (Project 877EKM) submarines as well indigenous-built diesel-electric submarines. An Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarine program is underway.

The U.S. Navy's ability to detect these craft, especially in littoral areas is limited. This was demonstrated for two years when the U.S. Navy operated against a Swedish AIP submarine, the Gotland, "loaned" for anti-submarine exercises. According to the Swedish officers, the U.S. carrier battle groups operating against the Gotland off the southern California coast invariably failed to locate the craft.

Related: News of China's Type 094, or Jin-class, SSBN.

Although the transition to the new SSBN is ongoing, recent Internet photos depicting at least two Jin SSBNs suggest that China has reached an unprecedented level of confidence in the sea-based leg of its strategic nuclear forces. Indeed, China's 2008 Defense White Paper states that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is enhancing its "nuclear counterattack" capability. With the introduction of the DF-31 and DF-31A road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and the JL-2 missiles on Jin SSBNs, China is thus on the verge of achieving a credible nuclear deterrent based on a survivable second-strike capability.
Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | Comments (2)

Stewart Copeland: Koteja (Oh Bolilla)

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

June 09, 2009

Toronto's boyfriend

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Last night's Luminato event An Evening with Neil Gaiman sold out in three minutes. It also most probably resulted in elevated atmospheric estrogen levels in the greater Toronto area; hardly surprising for a city Gaiman calls "his first girlfriend".

Gaiman also name-checks Toronto as one of the first places where he was recognized on the street, and he credits Markham St. comic book store The Beguiling with helping him start doing author readings in the first place.

"The very first public reading I did was organized by The Beguiling, the Toronto comics store in ... I think it was about 1992. They basically said we'd like you to come up and do an event for the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.

"They had this big old church hall and they sold tickets for it, and I remember I was terrified at the idea that I was going to do this thing. And I did it anyway, because they asked, and I walked out of there going, `Oh my God, I can do this.' And all of the reading tours I've done, they all go back to that one I did in Toronto."

By turns inspiring and irritating, Gaiman is one of those people whose example makes it manifestly obvious I am not working hard enough.

Though on balance I have to credit the fellow. Judging by my ongoing longitudinal correlational study of the subject, Gaiman attracts the kind of women who are attracted to me and who, by happy coincidence, also tend to be the kind of women to whom I am attracted (a characteristic he shares with Trent Reznor, in just a moment it will be clear why I am bringing him up).

Pro tip for single men attending this sort of event: You are the remora. Gaiman is the shark.

I do not have much to add to the Toronto Star piece (linked above). I am only publishing these observations as a segue to pointing out I got to hear Neil Gaiman read from his new Newbery Medal-winning The Graveyard Book whilst Agent Bedhead was cleaning her ceiling fans in Tulsa.

Which is a shame really because I think she would have got more out of it than I did.

Related: Toronto is the world's 4th most livable city, apparently. Which would explain my natural zest. Also, vim.

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | Comments (4)

No. 2 with a bullet

With an estimated spending of 84.9 billion dollars in 2008, mainland China is now second in military spending only to the United States. Imagine how much that adds up to in a hard currency like the yuan.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported on Monday that China had increased its arms spending by 10 percent as Beijing commenced building a new range of highly sophisticated nuclear submarines, stealth warships, new generation of fighter planes and communications technology.

The French now spend more on arms than the British, btw. Which is just as well. Arms spending leads to members of the British armed forces smoking on television.

Posted by the Flea at 08:18 AM

David Bowie: Station To Station (Live, 1978)

Posted by the Flea at 08:14 AM

June 08, 2009

Beeker: Ode to Joy

With a tip of the hat to the Sister of the Flea.

Posted by the Flea at 08:51 AM

June 07, 2009

New Labour and Blue Labour

Peter Hitchens discusses the arrogant parasites running the United Kingdom. He might be describing any country in what is left of Christendom. RTWT.

He was a convicted criminal, released much too early from a ludicrously brief prison sentence, and then ‘monitored’ so feebly that he received nothing more than a ‘verbal warning’ for tying up and threatening a couple. Now, if only he’d defended his home from louts with an air pistol, or made a ‘homophobic’ remark, he’d have been led away to the cells by grim-jawed jailers. But tying people up and threatening them? In that case, you need help from your social worker.

Now, when did you ever vote for this feeble treatment of criminals? That’s right. You didn’t. The arrogant parasites of New Labour and Blue Labour, who run this country by turns, decided it without asking you, as they decide everything else.

Most interesting for Americans and Canadians are we watch our media distort and undermine the electoral system: "Tory" leader David Cameron is up to his ears in the expenses scandal, not that the BBC cares to let anyone know.

Posted by the Flea at 06:31 AM

June 06, 2009

D-Day and beyond in colour

Thrilling stuff. Except the bit about liberating France. Bit of a waste of effort in retrospect.

Posted by the Flea at 10:38 AM

June 05, 2009

We can bear neither our shortcomings nor the remedies for them

Tony Blankley sees a man on a horse at the end of the American republic (via Ace).

... the Roman Republic's experience hints at an even more profound danger. The political tasks flowing from the growing demands of the republic's empire were of a magnitude and type that could not be managed by its form of government. However, the Roman Republic was prepared neither to give up its growing empire nor to modify its government to deal with such challenges.
...
In Rome, eventually a contradiction arose between Romans' concern for the tasks that needed to be performed and their concern for their form of government. The contradiction was resolved and the problems solved at the price of their republic: Came Gaius Julius Caesar.

Next up in the Alinsky playbook: Calls for the 22nd Amendment to be repealed so BHO can save the Republic from the crisis he and his fellow travelers have instigated.

Posted by the Flea at 05:17 AM

Purefold

Ridley Scott announces a Blade Runner prequel web series.

On Thursday the film’s director, Ridley Scott, announced that a new division of his commercials company, RSA Films, was working on a video series called “Purefold.” The series of linked 5- to 10-minute shorts, aimed first at the Web and then perhaps television, will be set at a point in time before 2019, when the Harrison Ford movie takes place in a dystopian Los Angeles.

Don't get too excited: The production does not have the rights to the 1982 film or the PKD book upon which it is (loosely) based. It will instead be based on the themes explored by Blade Runner. So... not Blade Runner.

Which is just as well, actually. I would like to be able to watch one film from my childhood without feeling as though I am being molested by George Lucas.

Posted by the Flea at 05:15 AM | Comments (4)

From the Peru desk

Dear Telegraph editors,

The capital city of the Inca empire was Cusco, not Machu Picchu as your article and photo caption suggest.

Yours,

The Flea

Posted by the Flea at 05:14 AM

Hey Champ: Cold Dust Girl (80Kidz Remix)

Posted by the Flea at 05:11 AM

June 04, 2009

Heino: Carnival in Rio

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You ever feel like you wake up and you are in Counterfactual Earth where the British lost the War. Like that. All part of the Flea's commitment to cultural outreach.

From the comments. So powerful.

That "Aj, aj, aj, aj" is so powerfull.
He sounds like Tarzan.
Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM | Comments (3)

The disbelief of lemmings

Max Hastings asks who will put this exhausted, discredited and ridiculous regime out of its misery.

The statesmanlike course for Gordon Brown is to go to the country. But it would be naïve to suppose that this heroic fantasist will do any such thing. If he did, he might earn the British people's gratitude for the manner of his departure. Otherwise, he will be subjected to their anger and bitterness as we are forced to suffer another year of bungling and paralysis like the last.

It was probably inevitable that, after 12 years of office, the Labour Government should have run out of road. But the sheer indignity and chaos of this administration's predicament defies belief. Gordon Brown has lost control, and it seems fanciful to suppose he can ever get it back. The British people deserve to be delivered from a regime that has become ridiculous.
Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

June 03, 2009

Why bother to pretend it is democracy

Too depressing to summarize in detail: The Dutch establishment has rigged the outcome of the next "parliament" and in so doing protected itself from the electorate and - for a short spell - from history.

Our American readers will find this hard to believe, but the electoral system in the Netherlands has been devised to ensure that new or small parties will not be able to win more than 20% of the seats in the Dutch Parliament. Indeed, Dutch law forbids new parties and parties which currently hold less than 16 of the 150 seats in Parliament to put forward more than 30 candidates for parliament.

As a consequence, a significant result for Geert Wilders' Freedom Party will contribute seats to its electoral opponents and guarantee continued government by a losing party. Read the whole thing for the math.

Posted by the Flea at 01:39 PM

David Eddings, dead at 77

The SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) twitterfeed has announced David Eddings has died. Fiction Matters comments.

Mr. Eddings introduced many people to fantasy literature, himself inspired to do so by the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Eddings, who bore the distinction of always writing his books out long hand, was quite frank about the position of his books - there to make reading fun for people. He noted in an interview with Reed Magazine that once readers were no longer challenged by his books that they were free to then move onto “somebody important like Homer or Milton.”

Prince Kheldar was a Flea-fav.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

LEGO Harry Potter teaser

(Below the fold.)

Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM

Thermostatic: Driving

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

June 02, 2009

Test Dept / Brith Gof: Gododdin - Trichant Eurdorchog

And a documentary piece on Gododdin; the Celts always enthusiastic at the prospect of an heroic defeat.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

June 01, 2009

Various species of Cystoidea, extinct allies of the starfish

Haeckel_Kunstformen_der_Natur_plate_90.jpg

Sean Michael Ragan argues that plate 90 of Earnst Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature lithographs has had an "extremely broad-reaching influence on the imagination of alien and other-worldly life in the twentieth century."

The place of Earnst Haeckel's beautiful lithographs Kunstformen der Natur ("Art Forms in Nature") in the history of science and art is well-documented. More particularly, the influence of Haeckel's illustrations on foundational American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft has also been thoroughly established. However, while perusing the 1976 Dover edition of Haeckel's prints recently, I was struck by the particular significance of Haeckel's plate number 90, which is reproduced at the top of this page. The English caption accompanying the plate in my edition reads, "Various species of Cystoidea, extinct allies of the starfish."
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