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February 27, 2010

The fourth, the fifth The minor fall, the major lift

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Bret Easton Ellis has two people in mind to portary Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake in The Golden Suicides.

One of them is Angelina Jolie.

And that's about right.

Another minor report, meanwhile, suggests [Angelina Jolie] could be part of the Bret Easton Ellis-scripted The Golden Suicides.

EW reports that Jolie’s reps say the actress “passed on doing Gravity at Warner Bros.” Furthermore, the site says that it cannot confirm whether or not the film is even really set up at WB right now. Which is interesting. Dying to know more about this one, and hope that it can come together somewhere.

Meanwhile, Bret Easton Ellis said on Twitter (via The Playlist) “Keep looking at the script…Angelina and Franco for Theresa and Jeremy?…It doesn’t matter…I wrote it for them anyway…I just spaced…”
Posted by the Flea at 05:33 PM

Slayer of Enemies

INS Arihant has departed on an extended high seas trial in anticipation of being inducted into the Indian Navy next year.

Godspeed.

One of India’s top secret defence projects for over three decades, ‘INS Arihant’ with a 80 Mwe nuclear reactor at its core, was launched in the water in last July. The sea trial, which began a few months ago, will be carried out for more than a year in different conditions to test the endurance and performance of the nuclear submarine, which is capable of staying under water for months, sources told Deccan Herald.

Once inducted, ‘INS Arihant’ will be the third leg of the nuclear triad enabling India to have retaliatory second strike capability from the sea.

A second boomer is already under construction.

May your weapons be strong to drive away the attackers,
may your arms be powerful enough to check the foes,
let your army be glorious, not the evil-doer.
- Rig Veda 1-39:2

Posted by the Flea at 07:28 AM

Around the inner solar system in 80 days

Franklin Chang-Diaz claims his Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) can dramatically shorten journey times to Mars.

Fortunately, I am certain the Chinese or the Indians will take him up on the idea.

His rocket would use electricity to transform a fuel - most likely hydrogen, helium or deuterium - into plasma gas heated to 11 million degrees, which was then channelled into tailpipes by magnetic fields to propel the spacecraft.

It would send a shuttle hurtling towards the moon or Mars at ever-faster speeds up to an estimated

55 kilometres a second until the engines were reversed.

Dr Chang-Diaz, a veteran of seven shuttle missions, said the rapid acceleration could allow for trips of just 39 days instead of the anticipated round-trip voyage to Mars of three years, including a forced stay of 18 months.
Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM | Comments (1)

I do not care who wins the "Olympic" gold medal in mens hockey tomorrow

That is all.

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM | Comments (2)

Deadmau5 feat. Rob Swire: Ghosts N Stuff

And live.

For anyone curious about the tail end of the live piece: The Reward is More Cheese.

Posted by the Flea at 07:22 AM

February 26, 2010

My dream vacation

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The "I was also a part of the Dubai Assassination Squad" Facebook group is the happening place to be on the intertubes.*

Feeling depressed that are aren't among the millions of people around the world who work for the Mossad? Upset that the Dubai Police Chief hasn't personally named you as a chief assasin yet? Now's your chance -- you too can join the "I was also in the Dubai hit-squad" Facebook group. Click here to join.

And from the "I was also a part of the Dubai Assassination Squad" Facebook group:

i heard some transformers were part of the asassination squad they used themselves as getaway cars...

* It is just possible I may have made a minor alteration to the image accompanying this post.

Posted by the Flea at 06:28 AM

Another chapter in the long book they are writing to conquer us

"President Allen West" has a nice ring to it (via Gates of Vienna).

Posted by the Flea at 06:19 AM

David Bowie: Fame

Posted by the Flea at 06:18 AM

February 25, 2010

On the superior attributes of Canada’s financial system

Harry Koza explains the real difference(s) between American and Canadian banking systems (pdf); more to do with a rational calculation of interest (if you will forgive the pun) than an excuse for a "re-regulation" of the United States banking system (via Small Dead Animals).

The first major difference between the US and Canada that Mr. Krugman neglects is that we do not have the perverse government-spawned incentive of mortgage interest deductibility.

I realize this does not sound like gripping stuff. It is, however, the only convincing explanation of the problem I have yet to read.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (1)

Kylie's bloomers

An auction of Doctor Who props featured items of a yet more specialist interest.

Everything from early Daleks to actor David Tennant's shirt was offered for sale. Canny investors were even getting into Kylie Minogue's bloomers, if you pardon the expression.

A waitress outfit, boots and bloomers she wore when she played the tenth doctor's glamorous assistant went for £3,120 including tax and commission. Tennant's pale blue shirt fetched £1,260.

Also: The ten most valuable comic books in the world.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Locker: Predator

Vagina-face or no vagina-face, the homoerotic subtext of the Predator franchise was always more of a supertext.

Posted by the Flea at 06:52 AM

Paul Hartnoll: For Silence

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM

February 24, 2010

Griðníðing

A spell cast against Iceland's enemies by members of the Ásatrú Society at the start of the banking crisis has finally began to bear results.

As the Dutch government coalition is falling apart, and Gordon Brown tumbles in popularity, it would appear the magic has begun to work, contends Ásatrú Society chieftain Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.

The griðníðing against Gordon Brown, written in English, reads as follows:

In London town this lying clown
our land he drowns and shatters.
Gordon Brown is going down,
his good renown in tatters.

Never underestimate the power of an AB rhyming scheme.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Amanda Palmer: Look Mummy (No Hands)

And the original performed by Dillie Keen of Fascinating Aïda. A friend of friend.

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM

February 23, 2010

If your opponent is of choleric temperment, seek to irritate him

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Japan calm as treasured status slips away.

For just over four decades Japan has basked in its status as the world’s second-largest economy. On current trends, however, that title will be lost this year to a resurgent China that is enjoying annual growth rates the like of which Japan has not seen since the 1970s.

Pentagon paints grim picture of Taiwan air defense.

The Pentagon has painted a grim picture of Taiwan's air defense capabilities, saying that many of the island's 400 combat aircraft would not be available to help withstand an attack from rival China.

I hope that sells some F-16s.

Posted by the Flea at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)

Social engineering

Sure, Labour opposed the racism of the British public, valiantly opposing it with the last ten years of importing new Labour voters.

But when it is their jobs on the line, Labour MPs lose their nerve.

Labour's accusation that opponents of immigration are racist has been dropped over the last two years as it has become clear that former Labour voters in party heartlands have been turning to the far right British National Party.

Related: The only real revolutionary movement in the UK at the moment. Not that I am in favour of revolutionary movements. Even now, the rule of law could save us from ourselves, if only Her Majesty's government cared to impose it.

Posted by the Flea at 09:54 AM

To serve man

Lord Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society and astronomer to the Queen, says aliens may be staring us in the face, we but lack the appropriate nervous system to apprehend them.

He is quite right, of course (I have read Lovecraft). The views of Dr Frank Drake are a different matter. This tool will suggest we like a beacon of some kind next.

...Dr Frank Drake, the world’s leading “ET hunter”, told the conference that satellite TV and the “digital revolution” was making humanity invisible to aliens by cutting the transmission of TV and radio signals into space.

At present, the Earth is surrounded by a 50 light year-wide "shell" of radiation from analogue TV, radio and radar transmissions. But although the signals have spread far enough to reach many nearby star systems, they are rapidly vanishing in the wake of digital technology, according to Dr Drake.

That 50 light year-wide shell could get us all killed. Something for all life on this planet to consider for the 100,000 years or for however long it takes for those television and radio transmissions to clear the galaxy.

Posted by the Flea at 09:52 AM

Beyoncé ft. Lady Gaga: Video Phone

Posted by the Flea at 09:49 AM

February 22, 2010

Minarets our bayonets

Generals are trying to block construction of a mosque with two 100ft minarets next to Sandhurst military academy. Unusually for a time of delicate sensitivities, the Army's objection is not made on aesthetic grounds or with reference to early A.M. calls to prayer.

They are worried about being shot by snipers, apparently.

Senior officers oppose the project saying it could pose a security threat to cadets. Yesterday an Army source said: 'This has gone right to the top of the chain of command.

'There is very real concern that if this thing gets built then soldiers could be put at risk. ... It is outrageous to even think that the officers of the future would have to watch their backs while they are still in training.'
Posted by the Flea at 06:58 AM

Musical Youth: Pass the Dutchie

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM

February 21, 2010

Sachertorte

The Sacher Torte is a legendary Viennese treasure.

Oh my god.
Posted by the Flea at 08:52 AM

The nanny state

From a couple years back but of ever greater relevance: Theodore Dalrymple appears on Buitenhof, a Dutch Sunday morning political interview show. A translation of the introduction:

Theodore Dalrymple is famous in the USA, in France and in the Netherlands he is highly regarded. While in his own country, the UK, they even refuse to publish some of his books ! Dalrymple worked for years in prisons and hospitals in the ‘slumps”. He is the author of many books which are containing razor sharp comments and criticism on the social welfare state, the nanny state, and the politicians on the left who are supporting this.
Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Zombie Girl: Go Zombie

With a shout out to Agent Bedhead who knows Goth is not dead, but dreaming.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

February 20, 2010

Sucks to be you, Vancouver Olympics

Canada has confirmed a case of leprosy aboard an Olympic security cruise ship.*

Health officials confirmed Friday a crew member has a case of leprosy aboard a cruise ship anchored in the city's harbour that houses police and Canadian Forces personnel providing security for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is curable and is not considered highly contagious, said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

Colour me reassured.

* Whatever an Olympic security cruise ship might be when it is at home.

Posted by the Flea at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)

Born of Hope

Born of Hope is a feature film inspired by Lord of the Rings telling the story of Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn. Considering its £25,000 budget the piece is a triumph (via the Armored Facilities Manager).

There are two reasons the film works as well as it does. First, it’s very well cast. Christopher Dane, who plays Arathorn, not only looks rather like Mortensen, he is genuinely effective as the noble warrior and orc-slaughterer. Madison, who plays Elgarain, a soldier girl who secretly loves Arathorn, gives her character real depth. There’s the odd jarring note, such as an orc with a Brummie accent, but practically all the performances have a skill level far above that which is usually evident in low-budget cinema.

The reviewer has clearly never been to Birmingham.

Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

Reprieve

The Dutch coalition cabinet has fallen meaning elections must be held within 83 days. May democracy triumph over despotic lawfare.

Wilders can, to my knowledge, participate in both elections. As long as he is not convicted he is a free man. I expect that this court case now will fade out. The court will no doubt find some kind of legal loophole to just postpone the case indefinitely without coming to a conclusion."

It’s astounding to an American on-looker that such a Damocles’ sword would be permitted to hang over anyone’s head.

Canadians, not so astounded.

Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM

Women's secret turn-ons revealed

The perfect man is a geek with facial stubble. Check and check.

Other secret turn-ons to feature in the top ten include grey hair, glasses and being a passionate supporter of a sports team.

I can't say I am a passionate supporter of a sports team. Good thing too. 91 per cent of women surveyed prefer a man with a few flaws to someone perfect.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM

A Nuclear Iran

Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution interviews Robert Baer and Victor Davis Hanson for Uncommon Knowledge.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM | Comments (1)

Wagner's "Das Rheingold" Animation

Part 2 and Part 3.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

February 19, 2010

The absurd trial of Geert Wilders

Mark Steyn on Geert Wilders and what is really on trial in the Netherlands. Do click through.

He is an elected member of parliament—and, although he’s invariably labelled “far right” in news reports, how far he is depends on where you’re standing: his party came second in last year’s elections for the European Parliament, and a poll of the Dutch electorate in December found it tied for first place. Furthermore, if you read the indictment against him, you’ll see that among other things Wilders is being prosecuted for is proposing an end to “non-Western immigration” to the Netherlands: the offending remarks were made in response to a direct question as to what his party would do in its first days in office. So the Dutch state is explicitly prosecuting the political platform of the most popular opposition party in the country, and attempting to schedule the trial for its own electoral advantage. That’s the sort of thing free societies used to leave to Mobutu, Ferdinand Marcos and this week’s Generalissimo-for-Life.

To put it in Canadian terms, it’s like the Crown hauling Michael Ignatieff into court. Well, except for the bit about being the most popular politician in the country and ahead in the polls and whatnot. But imagine if Iggy was less tin-eared and inept and his numbers were terrific—and then the Ministry of Justice announced it had decided to prosecute him for his policy platform. That’s what’s happening in the Netherlands.
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Posted by the Flea at 10:28 AM

David Guetta feat. Akon: Sexy Chick

In which I give Autotune a pass.

Posted by the Flea at 10:18 AM

February 18, 2010

Dizzee Rascal: Stand Up Tall

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM

February 17, 2010

Magician's Assistant Kylie

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Kylie Minogue poses as a magician's assistant as she advertises Tous handbags.

She tweeted: 'Hello peeps!! Am in the middle of photo-shoot for the next Tous campaign, photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth. It's all about...*m*a*g*i*c!!
...
Kylie recently revealed that she finds it strange that people are attracted to her.

The popstar, who posed in a bodice and stockings for Spanish Vogue, said: 'It's not something I think about, but it's welcome. When one feels really wanted, it's something so intimate.'
Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM

Those poor folks in Alabama

Solomonia had a personal brush with University of Alabama shooter, Amy Bishop.

I feel the same way even though I never met the woman. But then I expect so does anyone who has had to face a tenure-track hiring committee. Not all of us have the foresight to leave our side-arms at home for the experience.*

I remember when the previous neighbor moved out it wasn't long before my friend started complaining. He had a deck in the back of his place that was effectively on the second floor making it very visible to the neighbor's yard and house. So one day I go over to find that he had erected a wooden privacy fence on the side of the deck facing their yard -- and only on that side. So I'm like, "Uhh...isn't that a little uncomfortable. I mean it's obvious you put that there just to block only those people." He tells me he does...not...care. He doesn't want to look at them, and he doesn't want them to look. He hates them, as does the entire neighborhood.

Slightly edited reminiscences at the link.

* I kid, I kid.

Update: Further adventures in self regard (link and quote via Halls of Macademia).

The authorities in Boston searched Dr. Bishop’s computer at the time and found a novel she was working on about a scientist who killed her brother and atoned by excelling at her work.

I'd give her a solid B+.

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

Surfacescapes Dungeons & Dragons experience

Via Ace, who proclaims it to be an Age of Miracles and Wonders.

A walk-through of the current build of our proof of concept for a Dungeons & Dragons experience on the Microsoft Surface. Created by the Surfacescapes team at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.
Posted by the Flea at 09:43 AM

The Vulture Ministers

Anonymous gets back on message and considers Scientology's Volunteer Ministers.

Posted by the Flea at 09:42 AM

Chilliwack: My Girl

Posted by the Flea at 09:41 AM

February 16, 2010

Friend and/or foe

In case anyone thinks France selling Mistral-class assault ships to Russia is no big deal, Russia's naval chief begs to disagree.

The Mistral is a mighty, 199-metre-long vessel that carries tanks and helicopters, and can conduct and manage amphibious landings. Kaarel Kaas, of the International Centre for Defence Studies, a think-tank in Tallinn, says that such ships would “transform the power balance” on Russia’s borders.

One region affected is the Baltic, where Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, NATO’s most vulnerable members, are still waiting to see concrete plans for the alliance to defend them in a crisis. The other is the Black Sea. The Mistrals could matter in any conflict over Crimea in Ukraine, where Russia is due to give up a naval base in 2017. Russia’s naval chief, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, says that with such ships Russia would have won the 2008 war against Georgia “in 40 minutes instead of 26 hours”.

Hyperbole? Perhaps. Salt to taste but the man has a point, if only in terms of Russian expectations and consequent Russian behaviour.

Related: The United States faces the loss of maritime supremacy in the South China Sea. And, I might add, the Pacific Ocean.

Foreign observers of China's growing naval prowess might be worried by what they’ve seen in recent years. Around a hundred new warships have come off the country's slipways since 2001, while another dozen are under construction. Chinese ships are, on average, getting bigger and more powerful as well as more numerous as Beijing builds what is shaping up to be the world's biggest submarine fleet, as well as new types of anti-ship missiles and the nation's first aircraft carriers. One older Russian carrier is being refurbished and US analysts expect the first fully home-built Chinese carrier to enter service by 2015, with the possibility of more to follow.

More bad news: The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk will not be sold to the Indian Navy.

"The ship was meant to last 48 years. It is in Wilmington (North Carolina) and not for sale. There is no intention to sell it. It has already outstretched its intended service life," Rear Admiral Allen G. Myers, the Director (Warfare Integration) of the US Navy, told IANS.

This puts to rest all reports of the decommissioned carrier being offered to India, which, at one stage, expressed interest in the vessel.
...
At 82,000 tonne Kitty Hawk is twice the size of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov that the Indian Navy has bought from Russia and which is expected to be inducted in 2012 after undergoing an extensive refit. This apart, the keel of India's first indegenous carrier was laid at the Cochin Shipyard last year.
Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)

The vital matter of priorities

The death of Nodar Kumaritashvili has exposed the "moral vaccuum" at the heart of the Vancouver Olympics. For one thing, Kumaritashvili had just 26 practice runs.

Canadians gave themselves 200.

Because that's how we roll.

...the line between legitimate ambition and excessive belief in the right to national bragging rights – and the prosecution of these games according to plan and TV schedule – cannot be so easily buried by a fresh fall of snow.

Certainly, it has been drawn vividly enough in the last 48 hours, when the belief of some here that as the hosts they have overwhelming rights to every advantage, seems hardly to have been touched by charges that the Georgian's death was a direct result of the Canadian policy of hogging practice rights.
Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)

Pixie Lott: Poker Face

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM

February 14, 2010

The Left is always wrong

The United States military has shot down a ballistic missile with a high-powered laser weapon mounted to a modified Boeing 747.

The American military has been working since 1996 on a tricked-out 747 that could blast ballistic missiles out of the sky with a ultra-powerful laser. After 14 years of promising “the American people their first light saber,” the Missile Defense Agency finally pulled it off Thursday night at 8:44 p.m.

Video at the link. Watch it and pause for a moment to consider a scientific consensus that said Star Wars was impossible.

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM

The minority that dare not speak its name

White British (i.e. the British) are the only part of the UK population to have declined in the last decade after a third of a million British left the country.

The fall in the "white British" group was due to large numbers of people leaving the UK. Some 331,400 more people from that group left the country over that period than those who returned.
...
Australia continued to be the most popular destination for emigrants while Spain and America were also popular.

Cause and effect: Peter Hitchens on a related subject. But then they are all related subjects at the end of days.

It’s time to stop cringeing to the bigoted ‘anti-racists’. Most of them are actually anti-Britishists, hiding their loathing of this country behind a facade of liberal piety, a facade that is sometimes very thin indeed.
Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

Yuksek: Extraball

Posted by the Flea at 09:41 AM

February 13, 2010

Though I give the place too much credit

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Their cover story blown, the owners of Minas Morgul must now account for the tourists trapped in an elevator for the better part of hour 124 floors up in the world's tallest building.

Visitors on the observation deck half-mile-high Burj Khalifa heard a loud boom, then saw dust that looked like smoke seeping through a crack in a lift door.

The 15 people inside were trapped for 45 frightening minutes until rescuers managed to pry open the doors. One of those trapped in the elevator said that the lights went off and the car began to fall before the brakes kicked in.

Because the elevator was apparently stuck between floors, workers had to drop a ladder into the shaft so those inside could crawl out.

Judging by the comments, Daily Mail readers view the plight of the Burj Dubai with some degree of ambivalence.

I hope they are in the good graces of osama bin laden or he will have some idiots run into the building as soon as he buys his own planes. Twice as tall as the world trade center just imagine the pictures of that falling down, they should have tv cameras in the upper floors so we can see the looks on their faces on the way down.

- john burgess, andover ny USA, 10/2/2010
Posted by the Flea at 12:28 PM

How to destroy a soldier’s life

Blood pressure warning.

Meet Courtney Cook, an extraordinarily shallow and callous woman.
Posted by the Flea at 12:27 PM

210 reasons for the collapse of the Western Empire

Watching the collapse of our latter day Western Empire, Victor Davis Hanson asks if we are all Romans now.

Yet Rome did not fall for four centuries after its moralists wrote of its decadence and decline. Why the resilience?

Entitlements and official corruption were for centuries subsidized by the profits accruing from global standardization and Romanization — brought about by the implementation and imposition of Roman law, order, and commerce throughout the Mediterranean. As long as the empire was cohesive, it brought in thousands yearly into its sphere of influence.
...
So such global uniformity created real wealth in newfound places faster than such bounty could corrupt the citizens in the old Italian core to the degree to bring down what was now a world system. In other words, the creation of entirely new cities like Leptis or the growth of Asian centers such as Ephesus, brought previously unproductive tribal folk into the Roman system at precisely the time old Romans were no longer doing the things that had once created their own vibrant culture that swept the Mediterranean — the ancient version of the Chinese youth working 10 hours in an Adidas factory while an American counterpart is still “finding himself.”

You can see where this is headed. Here is the trouble: America is already Byzantium to Britain's Rome; we are fast running out of imperial space left to collapse. What we need now is the equivalent of some Irish monasteries. Somewhere for the accumulated science and wisdom of the West to ride out the coming storm of the centuries while we pray through the dark for an Indian Renaissance.

Posted by the Flea at 12:24 PM

Anonymous: Message to the Australian Government

Posted by the Flea at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)

Alexandra Burke: Broken Heels

After a break-out US hit, presumably. This might do it.

Posted by the Flea at 12:21 PM

February 12, 2010

Alexander McQueen, R.I.P.

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Terrible news at the loss of Alexander McQueen, a truly great designer, and worse yet for the implication something had gone terribly wrong in the man's life.

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen killed himself yesterday, devastated by the death of his beloved mother. So distraught was the 40-year-old that he had locked himself away, refusing to get out of bed since her death ten days ago.

McQueen, the controversial creative genius who clothed the world's biggest stars, was found hanged at his £2million Mayfair apartment on the eve of his mother Joyce's funeral.

Above: Alexander McQueen MANET hat by Joel-Peter Witkin 2006.

Illustrative: Alexander McQueen Fall Winter 2009/10 Womenswear.

Posted by the Flea at 09:58 AM

Posh totty

Leafy suburbs, £4,000-a-term schools and stockbroker fathers: The middle-class girls storming the Brits (hat tip to Jeff).

Pixie Lott, Marina Diamandis, Florence Welch and Natasha Khan are all, like La Roux, young women who have had the benefit of the best schooling.

Here, we take a look at the crowd of nice girls who are set to shine this year.
Posted by the Flea at 09:54 AM

La Roux: Bulletproof

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

February 11, 2010

Agni-V

India is set to test a new nuclear-capable missile with a 3,100-mile (5000-km) range within a year.

The missile would effectively bring most of China within India's range, as well as more potential targets to the west and east than its existing weaponry.

"Agni-V is out of the drawing board. We are aiming for a flight trial within a year," V.K. Saraswat, India's chief military scientist told reporters.

India successfully tested the Agni-III missile, which has a 3000-km range, at the weekend and is ready to bring it into the military.
Posted by the Flea at 09:57 AM

A bridge for sale in Haiti

With the power of voodoo and the United Nations on their side, Haitians should have this whole earthquake thing sorted out presently.

“One must understand that Haiti is voodoo,’’ said Max Beauvoir, 75, the “pope’’ of Haitian voodoo and a former biochemical engineer who once worked for Digital Equipment in Maynard, Mass. “Helping Haitians is nothing else but helping ourselves.’’

To make use of that resource, the United Nations has reached out to the vast and influential network of about 60,000 voodoo priests in Haiti, Beauvoir said. And the priests, firmly entrenched in their displaced communities, are eager to lend a hand.

“Priests are considered to be leaders,’’ David Wimhurst, a UN spokesman here, said of the voodoo hierarchy. “And community leaders obviously have a role to play to help the humanitarian effort.’’

So there you have it: Voodoo priests are community organizers and, one speculates, vice versa. Just take care where you repeat the comparison. It is either empowering or racist depending on who says it.

A related thought: I had been wondering what might draw Scientology to Haiti in the wake of the quake. It is not as though the average Haitian can afford the Bridge to total freedom.

But there is one thing Haiti has that Scientology might want very much: Sovereignty.

Posted by the Flea at 09:55 AM

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

Archaeologists reconsider the space-time continuum after finding a century-year-old Swiss watch in a Ming dynasty tomb sealed more than four centuries years ago.

They believed they were the first to visit the Ming dynasty grave in Shangsi, southern China, since its occupant's funeral. But inside they uncovered a miniature watch in the shape of a ring marked 'Swiss' that is thought to be just a century old.

The mysterious timepiece was encrusted in mud and rock and had stopped at 10:06 am.

Watches were not around at the time of the Ming Dynasty and Switzerland did not even exist as a country, an expert pointed out.

Thank goodness for experts.

Posted by the Flea at 09:54 AM | Comments (2)

If you want to get along, go along

Jonah Goldberg considers the Audi Super Bowl ad. Along the way he spots the perps behind the downfall of, amongst other things, empire, conservatism and centuries of struggle for civil liberty.

To me, the target demographic is a certain subset of spineless, upscale white men (all the perps in the ad are affluent white guys) who just want to go with the flow. In that sense, the Audi ad has a lot in common with those execrable MasterCard commercials. Targeting the same demographic, those ads depicted hapless fathers being harangued by their children to get with the environmental program. MasterCard’s tagline: “Helping Dad become a better man: Priceless.”

The difference is that MasterCard’s ads were earnest, creepy, diabetes-inducing treacle. Audi’s ad not only fails to invest the greens with moral authority, it concedes that the carbon cops are out of control and power-hungry (in a postscript scene, the Green Police pull over real cops for using Styrofoam cups). But, because resistance is futile when it comes to the eco-Borg, you might as well get the best car you can.

And invited to all the best parties.

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

Ke$ha feat. 3OH!3: Blah Blah Blah

Posted by the Flea at 09:52 AM

February 10, 2010

Why the Army doesn't train on Xboxes

It isn't about the technology. Michael Peck investigates Microsoft's initial refusal to sell Xboxes to the United States Army for training purposes.

Roger Smith, chief technology officer for PEO STRI, the Army command responsible for purchasing training equipment, claims that Microsoft refused to sell him the consoles. Smith told me that he discussed acquiring the Xbox with Microsoft representatives at a trade show back in 2006. According to Smith, the Microsoft executives said they would neither sell the Xbox 360 nor license XNA game development tools to the Army for three reasons:

* Microsoft was afraid that the military would buy up lots of Xbox 360s, but would buy only one game for each of them, so MS wouldn’t make much money off of the games.

* A big military purchase could create a shortage of Xbox 360s.

* If the Xbox became an Army training device, it could taint its reputation. Microsoft was concerned that “do we want the Xbox 360 to be seen as having the flavor of a weapon? Do we want Mom and Dad knowing that their kid is buying the same game console as the military trains the SEALs and Rangers on?” Smith told me during an interview for Training & Simulation Journal.

Not surprising perhaps, the Army has cooled on Microsoft.

Posted by the Flea at 11:04 AM

3oh!3 feat. Katy Perry: Starstrukk

Posted by the Flea at 11:01 AM

February 09, 2010

Donate your old yoga mat to Haiti

The apotheosis of leftism.

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM

Glee: Push It

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM

February 08, 2010

Generalizing from experience

Test subjects were able to accurately identify candidates from the 2004 and 2006 U.S. Senate elections as either Democrats or Republicans based on black-and-white photos of their faces (hat tip to the Sister of the Flea).

To investigate the basis of these judgments, subjects were asked to rate photos of faces on a seven-point scale assessing personality traits such as assertiveness, maturity, likeability and trustworthiness. Subjects consistently associated Democrats with warmth (likeable and trustworthy) and Republicans with power (dominant and mature). These findings were independent of the gender of the person in the photo.

The authors concluded that people possess "a general and imperfect" ability to infer political affiliation based on facial appearance, which is related to stereotypes about Democrat and Republican personalities.
Posted by the Flea at 12:54 PM | Comments (1)

Multi-national

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Even as India kicked off the largest ever edition of its ‘Milan’ set of exercises, in which 12 countries from the region are participating, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma has said the multi-nation exercise is not aimed at creating a security bloc against China.

Elsewhere: France plans to sell as many as four Mistral assault ships to Russia.

Possessing a Mistral, which can carry 16 helicopters, would significantly increase the Russian military's capability to mount quick offensives. France sent a Mistral, which weighs 23,700 tons (21,500 metric tons) and is 980 feet (299 meters) long, to visit St. Petersburg last year in a clear sign of interest in a potential sale.

Which may go some way toward explaining a change in Russian inclinations: Officials from the United States, France and Russia called Monday for stronger measures against Tehran.

How serious is Russia? They have already suspended missile shipments to Tehran, until now somewhat quietly
Posted by the Flea at 12:53 PM

London Sound Survey: Outside Charing Cross Station

Many more recordings from the London Sound Survey at http://www.soundsurvey.org.uk.

A busker sings and plays acoustic guitar to a reggae backing. Sounds of night-time crowds in Villiers Street, traffic, and a police siren.
Posted by the Flea at 12:48 PM

Benga: 26 Basslines

Posted by the Flea at 12:47 PM

February 07, 2010

The male curiosity motive

Tasmin_Egerton_nude_scenes_are_horrendous.jpg

Tasmin Egerton finds sex scenes "horrendous", apparently. But to report the fact is not my motive in drawing the story to your attention.

She could always refuse to do them. It hasn't done Julia Roberts any harm. When an actress does these scenes at 21 she destroys the male curiosity motive, and her career tends to go downhill thereafter.

I have no clue who "Jim Hason, Ilford" might be but his comment - absurd as I think it might be - is more interesting than anything in the Daily Mail's reportage; a fact I am happy to generalize across the entire MSM presence on line and, perhaps, the salvation of their business model.

With this in mind, if anyone might suggest a straightforward comment system I might use to replace TypePad, please let me know. I am after some combination of simple registration, CAPTCHA and/or spam blocking in a system I can plug in to my creaking Moveable Type 3.2 set up. Something a bit more user friendly too, please. This might go some distance toward a proper conversation.

Posted by the Flea at 07:58 AM | Comments (1)

What would Byzantium do?

Edward Luttwak: If the west really wants to fix Afghanistan, it should learn from an ancient, brutal empire (via In Harmonium).

Sounds like a plan.

Unlike the Romans, the Byzantines wrote official guidebooks on statecraft, foreign relations and espionage: writings I find especially fascinating, as I once helped compose the main field manual of the US army. These ancient techniques centred on a single, paradoxical principle: do everything possible to raise, equip and train the best possible army and navy; then do everything possible to use them as little as possible.

With Afghanistan, the west faces a simple strategic calculus: too costly to stay in, too risky to leave. A Byzantine response would be, first to withdraw the west’s scarce, expensive troops, and arm local proxies instead. This was the standard remedy for turbulent, worthless lands where no taxes could be collected, but which were to be denied to enemies: an improvement over the Romans’ fondness for battles of attrition and annihilation.

RTWT. Not that I am entirely convinced. All I am saying is give battles of attrition and annihilation a chance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:57 AM

Ender's Gamers

StrategyPage suggests something I had long suspected: Video games make you smarter and faster. That said, I am open to the idea smarter and faster people are drawn to video games rather than simply made smarter and faster by them, a possibility I hope the Office of Naval Research took into account (the following lifted in its entirety from Quotulatiousness, with thanks).

The U.S. military has long suspected that troops who have long experience with video console and computer games have made Americans better soldiers, at least when it comes to operating high-tech military equipment. But now a study (by the Office of Naval Research) has found that such experience also enables troops to solve problems faster, and act more quickly with those solutions. In technical terms, the computer game experience increases perceptual and cognitive ability 10-20 percent, over those with no computer game experience. The navy was interested in this because most sailors have technical jobs, and many of them involve operating electronic equipment. Officers and chiefs (NCOs) have noted that, over the years, the new recruits appear to be more skilled when they first show up. It didn’t have anything to do with new training methods, so many supervisors suspected video games. That proved to be the case, but the increased problem solving ability and responsiveness was a generally unrecognized bonus.

The army noted the same thing, especially under combat conditions. For example, because so many troops had years of experience with video games, they took to CROWS (the remotely controlled machine-gun turret on many vehicles) quickly, and very effectively. The guys operating these systems grew up playing video games. They developed skills in operating systems (video games) very similar to the CROWS controls. This was important, because viewing the world around the vehicle via a vidcam is not as enlightening (although a lot safer) than having your head and chest exposed to the elements, and any firepower the enemy sends your way. But experienced video gamers are skilled at whipping that screen view around, and picking up any signs of danger. The army now has a CROWS trainer built into its America’s Army online game. Many NCOs believe that all that multitasking kids do with their computers (and other electronic gadgets) have made the combat troops more effective.
Posted by the Flea at 07:54 AM

Genesis: I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)

Posted by the Flea at 07:48 AM

February 06, 2010

Liquid can be heard when the crates are moved

Mackinlays_Rare_Old_Whisky.jpg

Five pine cases of rare 101-year-old Mackinlay's Rare Old Whisky (and some brandy as well) have been discovered intact in the ice under Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic hut.

Gentlemen: We have an objective.

The crates show almost no damage from the ice and the company's stag head logo is clearly visible. The team now hopes to drill down into the ice and remove some of the century-old bottles.

Distillers Whyte and Mackay, which supplied the whisky, hope the drink can then be analysed so they can replicate the original forgotten blend.

'This is a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers," said Richard Patterson, master blender at Whyte and Mackay. 'If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analysed, the original blend may be able to be replicated. Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history.
Posted by the Flea at 01:20 PM | Comments (1)

Outlaw lampshades

Theodore Dalrymple has worked out how to save the planet.

Now it so happens that the other night I went to dinner to a friend who is that most reprehensible character, a skeptic. He says that global warming, if it occurred, would be more likely caused by sunspot activity than by anything we — mankind — did. To think otherwise is to be like the madman in Doctor Johnson’s Rasselas who believes that he controls the rising and setting of the sun.

As my friend was uttering these heretical words — I am sure he would be burned at the stake for them, if it were not for the carbon emissions thereof — he happened to be screwing one of those new, energy-saving (and now mandatory) light bulbs into a light fixture. These new bulbs always seem to me to cast a kind of yellowing gloom rather than light, the color approximately of the pages of bad-quality paper in old books, reminiscent — perhaps not coincidentally — of artificial illumination in the Eastern Europe of the good old days.

Then it came to me — the solution.

At the link!

Posted by the Flea at 12:24 PM

Men at work: Land down under

This has been going round and round in my head said I read about the lawsuit. Tag!

Related: Chunder.

Posted by the Flea at 12:17 PM

February 05, 2010

Anna Paquin and crisps

Anna_Paquin_in_the_crisps_aisle.jpg

Anna Paquin is marrying somebody who plays a vampire on tv. Gripping stuff. Thought I should bring it to your attention. Also, crisps.

The couple, who met while filming the HBO show, have announced they plan to marry. They share an intense on-screen chemistry, playing telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and her 172-year-old vampire love interest, Bill Compton.

Images: Marie Claire.

Posted by the Flea at 09:28 AM | Comments (3)

Operation Catapult

When The Daily Mail publishes this sort of twaddle, what hope is there for England?

French sailor Andre Jaffre still shakes with emotion as he recalls the moment in July 1940 that the enemy opened fire on his battleship, the Bretagne. 'A shell exploded underneath, where there were munitions and a fuel store. I saw a friend who'd had his head blown off. His blood dripped off me. I wanted to be sick.'

Moments later, the Bretagne capsized. 'The water was black with oil that was smoking and bubbling, like a chip pan, and men were struggling and screaming in it. But I had to jump in. I fell into that oil and I let myself sink, sink, sink. I was so burned.'

Jaffre had joined the navy determined to fight the Nazis. But the shells that rained down on him that morning were not German ones. They were British, fired by men that Jaffre knew well.

'Only two weeks before, we'd been with the British in Gibraltar, out on the town,' he says, 'and then suddenly they're firing on us. It was unthinkable.' Jaffre's comrade Leon Le Roux remembers the same shock. 'Today we're allies, tomorrow we're enemies. The reasons for it? For that see Sir Winston Churchill.'

No. The reasons for that? The French Navy, preferring to side with Vichy and the Nazis than man it up and fight the war (though I realize to ask such a thing is to mock a French disability and in so doing risk bringing Vichy and the Nazis into hatred and contempt).

Well, they got to fight the Royal Navy instead and, at the time, that still meant only one thing.

Posted by the Flea at 09:23 AM

Something in common

Proposed high speed rail network.

2008 election map.

Via.

Posted by the Flea at 09:19 AM

Pajama Jeans

Hat tip to the Sister of the Flea.

Pajama Jeans . Pajamas to live in. Jeans to sleep in. PajamaJeans are the best of both worlds. Great for travel or everyday wear.
Posted by the Flea at 09:18 AM

Chase& Status: Madhouse

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 AM

February 04, 2010

The Open Road London (1927)

Stunning colour film of 1920s London.

This wonderful film was made in 1927 by Claude Friese-Greene. Colour film from the 1920s is exceptionally rare, and this is a very powerful example.

It shows scenes of London Bridge, the Thames, the Tower of London, Greenwich Observatory, the London docks, Whitehall, the Cenotaph, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Petticoat Lane, the Oval, the Changing of the Guard, Rotten Row, and the Houses of Parliament.

The Cenotaph sequence from around 3:37 to 3:54 is very poignant. This was filmed only nine years after the end of the Great War. The women and looking at the wreaths would very likely be wives and mothers of the men killed, and the Second World War was, at that time, inconceivable.
Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | Comments (2)

Ceri Frost: Dead All Along

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM

February 03, 2010

Not your father's paganism

My only objection to the outdoor worship space for Pagans, Wiccans, Druids and other "Earth-centered believers" at the United States Air Force Academy is to have their views represented by self-described pagan, Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier. Given the 15 to 20 cadets showing an interest in "Earth-centered beliefs" they should have managed a better spokes-entity than this.

"Earth-centered" spirituality encompasses many beliefs, Longcrier said, many that recognize multiple gods and goddesses and observe holidays tied to the seasons.

Longcrier said he personally doesn't consider gods and goddesses to be actual beings but personifications of natural events that human ancestors wanted to put a face on.

"The goddess is symbolic of the Earth," Longcrier said. "Do I believe I'm worshipping this female entity living in the Earth or up in space somewhere? No. The symbolism is very important."

Not to worry, Longcrier; the Goddess believes in you.

Even so, give me a devotee of Shango or Huitzilopochtli over this Unitarian version of paganism any day. Next you will tell me they have replaced the mead with dealcoholized beer (only 60 calories and no salt!).

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM | Comments (1)

Marvels

Superimposed superheroes and villains in wartime by Indonesian artist and illustrator Agan Harahap.

He says there's no political motivation behind his work and if the heroes 'really' attended the events they would probably just pose for a photo and take off.

Which, given some juxtapositions, sounds like bullshit.

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

Stockhausen: Gesang der Junglinge

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

February 02, 2010

Treevenge


Treevenge
Uploaded by Shua_. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.

Via Jonah Goldberg.

Posted by the Flea at 09:02 AM

Cheryl Cole: Parachute

Posted by the Flea at 09:01 AM

February 01, 2010

Order

I managed 9/10 on The Era Order Quiz; my New York Yankees history was not up to the task (via AoSHQ).

Posted by the Flea at 06:24 AM

Chuckie & LMFAO: Let The Bass Kick in Miami Bitch

Posted by the Flea at 06:22 AM