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December 31, 2010

Opening salvos

Erik Sofge games the opening moves in a war between mainland China and the United States.

"I get criticized often for saying this, but I think Beijing is capable of acting irrationally when it comes to Taiwan," says retired Rear Adm. Eric McVadon, who served as a naval attaché in Beijing and is currently senior adviser of Asia-Pacific studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Cambridge, Mass. "They are obsessed with Taiwan. On some given day, it's entirely possible for people to be standing around a table in the Politburo in Beijing, and someone gets the ball rolling. And when it stops, we're at war."

Range finding related: The world's longest sea bridge. Just saying, if this is a war-war.

Pertinent comment:

I can feel an episode of Top Gear coming on!"

Achilles' heel: Think of the PRC's missiles as the equivalent of knowing lots of little things. Taiwan only needs to know one big thing.

Updatery: Mr. Parsons writes to point out an "open secret"; a secure, hidden airbase suggesting Republic of China defense planners have the above scenario - or something like it - in mind.

Taiwan military officials at Hualien Air Base disclosed April 27 that an underground air base located inside an adjacent mountain would serve as a sanctuary for its fighters during a Chinese air attack.



The hidden base, dubbed Jiashan, is inside a hollowed-out mountain just west of Hualien Air Base on the island’s eastern coast. The disclosure came as Air Force personnel practiced repairing runways after a simulated air attack from China as part of the annual Han Kuang military exercises.



Militaryphotos.net has discussion and Google Earth imagery here.

Oh, it be a mountain!!!

Take down the coordinates and look at the area on Google Earth. That baby is a mountain!!! The pic that I posted is not that accurate (I don't know how to copy the Google Earth pages like some other guys in the site do). But go to GOOGLE EARTH and the zoom function will allow you to see the tunnel entrances.

And the resolution of the area is so well you can actually identify:

--F-16's very easily in the reventment area and throughout the airfield
--a lineup of F-5's on the easterly ramp
--an ATR-72 in the civilian tarmac

--the base pool

Background: Republic of China Airbases.

Posted by the Flea at 08:59 AM

Breath taking

"A half-mile block of 40-story buildings could fit inside this lit stretch of Hang Son Doong, which may be the world's biggest subterranean passage."

Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

Karen: Sækken i Katten

I have no idea what she is talking about.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM

December 30, 2010

Weimar Istanbul

The aptly named Claire Berlinski describes a phenomenon she calls the Weimar City.

What is a Weimar City? It is a city rich in history and culture, animated by political precariousness and by a recent rupture with the past, vivified by a shocking conflict with mass urbanization and industrialization; a city where sudden liberalization has unleashed the social and political imagination—but where the threat of authoritarian reaction is always in the air.

Weimar Cities are not freaks of nature. They may be expected to arise under certain social, political, and historical circumstances. World War I destroyed both Imperial Germany and the Ottoman Empire. The remnants of both entities succeeded in imposing alien new social orders on themselves, fragile experiments in democracy. The Turkish Republic has lasted far longer than the Weimar Republic, but the stories do not differ in the fundamentals; they have merely been telescoped or expanded by contingent events.
Posted by the Flea at 10:49 AM

Napoleon-proof your home

Convert a Martello tower (via Boing Boing).

Until it became redundant in the 1870s, there had been troops at Tower Y, as well as coastguards after Napoleon's defeat. The spartan living quarters, however, had been crammed around the entrance floor, above an arsenal of gunpowder and cannonballs, and below the wind-scythed roof deck. Today, from the battlements, or rather the roof terrace, three other towers can be seen, dotted along the shingle coast.

My dream home.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM

Outside: To Forgive, But Not Forget

Posted by the Flea at 10:44 AM

December 29, 2010

The oldest and strongest emotion

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is an exploration-based adventure game played from a first-person perspective. The apotheosis of Lovecraft in video game has arrived.

Amnesia does not give the player access to weapons, giving them no defense against the gruesome creatures that wander Brennenburg Castle. As such, the player must use their wits to escape and hide from the monsters until they lose interest in finding the player. Players can also choose to hide in the shadows at the cost of slowly losing their sanity.

Separate from the player's health bar is an indication of the character's sanity. Being in darkness too long, witnessing unsettling events, or staring at the monsters for too long will reduce the character's sanity. As the sanity level decreases, visual and auditory hallucinations start to occur and the player is noticed by monsters more easily.

The sound of someone getting his money's worth.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

You can expect no help from this side of the river

A message in a bottle delivered to a Confederate general during the American Civil War has been deciphered, 147 years after it was written.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Six books everyone got wrong

Including your English teacher.

Take Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (the temporature at which books warm), for example.

What probably pissed Bradbury off more than anything was that people completely disregarded his interpretation of his own book. In fact, when Bradbury was a guest lecturer in a class at UCLA, students flat-out told him to his face that he was mistaken and that his book is really about censorship. He walked out.
Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

A blue sunset

On Mars.

This Martian sunset, captured by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity on Nov. 4 and 5, 2010, appears bluish. The panoramic camera movie combines exposures taken through different camera filters and accelerates about 17 minutes of sunset into a 30-second simulation. This clip is the longest sunset movie from Mars ever produced, taking advantage of adequate solar energy currently available to Opportunity.
Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Zola Jesus: Night

The Siouxsie is strong in this one.

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM

December 28, 2010

De Curtorum Chirurgia Per Insitionem

Describing operations for soldiers whose faces had been wounded in battle, Gaspare Tagliacozzi's The Surgery of Defects by Implantations was published in 1597.

The tome, which is written in Latin, is illustrated with diagrams, including the rhinoplasty, in which the patient's nose was attached to a flap of skin from his upper arm.

In one plate, the patient is seen in bed with his forearm attached to his head and a flap of skin from his bicep region stuck onto his nose. The book tells how he stayed like that for about three weeks until the skin from his arm had attached itself properly.
Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM

Talkin’ ’bout your generation

USA Today's Which generation do you belong to? quiz almost had me nailed down (via AoSHQ).

Posted by the Flea at 07:05 AM

A hunter shoots a bear!

My first answer pulled up an Error 404 message. Then I tried "hugs".

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM

Bag Raiders: Way Back Home

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

December 27, 2010

Game On

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Playboy models generously lend their time to a Tron: Legacy body paint photo shoot.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if an adult film version of it wasn’t flattering enough, Playboy just released a pictorial of two lovely, naked women painted to resemble the suits from Tron, just in time for this week’s release of Tron: Legacy.

The video.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM

The Return of Count Spirochete (1973)

If this turns up on Ace of Spades HQ, I expect a hat tip for assuming any of those guys have had sex. With a woman.

Produced for the National Naval Medical Center in 1973, The Return of Count Spirochete is a delightful animated cartoon dramatizing the medical facts about venereal disease.

As the story begins, we join the (probably) world famous "Communicable Disease of the Year Award" ceremony, which acknowledges the one disease that has "done the most effective job of contaminating others." Smallpox, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and the common cold are all serious contenders for the coveted "Fourth Horseman."

However, in a surprising turn of events, the award goes to Count Spirochete (aka syphilis), much to the chagrin of the other contestants. In response to their outrage, the master of ceremonies then proceeds to explain in graphic detail the various reasons why Count Spirochete is deserving of the award.
Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

Delia Derbyshire: Radio Scotland interview (1997)

The Dada methodology of Delia Derbyshire, goddess to all electronic musicians (hat tip to the ).

Kate Bush: Aerial

Posted by the Flea at 07:01 AM

December 26, 2010

It's Boxing Day...

... and that means Mythos!

Not to worry, it will be winter solstice again soon enough. Aye, when the stars are aligned.

Until then: A word from Y'golonac the Defiler.

Most important: Have you heard the good news about the Necronomicon?

Posted by the Flea at 10:31 AM

December 25, 2010

Elvis Presley: Blue Solstice

Posted by the Flea at 09:34 PM

Kylie Minogue: Let It Snow & Santa Baby

Happy Christmas!

Posted by the Flea at 01:23 PM

December 24, 2010

Ballet Bejart: Sugar Plum Pas de Deux

Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite - Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

From Fantasia

William Zeitler rocks the glass armonica.

Lush presents Christmas 2010.

And an arrangement by Dissonanz.

Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM

Star Wars Christmas Special... That Everyone Really Wanted

Not to be confused with the epic Star Wars Holiday Special.

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

John Galliano - Parlez-moi d'Amour

Though I think he is mainly selling "You" by Taylor Momsen. Also, Taylor Momsen.

Posted by the Flea at 08:02 AM

December 23, 2010

The Guild: Twas the Night before Christmas

I have decided I would like a Felicia Day for Christmas.

Posted by the Flea at 09:28 AM

I Have No Mouth and I Must Build

With end of term I am finally able to look into this Minecraft thing my students have been on about (via Boing Boing). I don't think I have enough end of term to have the time it would take to risk downloading and installing the thing.

In Minecraft, the world is made up of blocks, each a three-dimensional pixel or a voxel. This world has mountains and trees and seas and animals and rivers of lava, but all of these exist in a universe in which Euclidean geometry past the cube is as arcane and impenetrable as it would be in Flatland. Trees are simply blocks of wood and blocks of leaves stacked on top of each other; pigs are just quivering cubes of bacon, stacked in pig-like configutation. When I chop down a tree, or hew coal out of a mountain, or scoop water out of a lake, the chunk or bucket comes out in my hands in a perfect, self-sustained cube.

To Lovecraft, the eldritch often took the form of non-Euclidean geometry. In Minecraft, horror is found in a world that is all too perfectly the opposite.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM

Annie Lennox: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Hat tip to Beautiful Atrocities.

Posted by the Flea at 09:23 AM

December 22, 2010

Therenect - Kinect Theremin

The best reason to invest in a Kinect controller. Aside from porn applications, obviously.

The Therenect is a virtual Theremin for the Kinect controller. It defines two virtual antenna points, which allow to control the pitch and volume of a simple oscillator. The distance to these points can be controlled by freely moving the hand in three dimensions or by reshaping the hand, which allows gestures that are quite similar to playing an actual Theremin.
Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM

Nature/nurture

Harvard University scholar Richard Wrangham claims fourteen years of observation of the Kanyawara chimpanzee community in Kibale National Park, Uganda reveals young chimps in the wild play boy and girl games, much like their human counterparts, scientists found (via Gates of Vienna).

Although both male and female chimpanzees play with sticks, girl chimps treat sticks like dolls copying their mothers as they care for infants.

The findings suggest girls play more with dolls than boys not because of sex-stereotyped socialization but because of ‘biological predilections.’
Posted by the Flea at 09:23 AM

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl.: Somebody To Love Me

Hat tip to Beautiful Atrocities.

Posted by the Flea at 09:21 AM

December 21, 2010

In Toronto meteorology and astronomy news

Having painstakingly set my alarm for 1am for a 1:35am lunar eclipse start time, I stuck my nose out the door only to find it was still overcast downtown.

So I went back to bed. Damn it.

The 2010 lunar eclipse was the first to fall on the winter solstice in 372 years. And, perhaps more importantly, it was quite the show. Although the skies over Toronto were overcast as late as midnight, a very timely clearing trend took over and left perfect viewing conditions for the eclipse. As I mentioned during a break from watching it all go down, the early morning hours might have offered the clearest skies of the year, with loads of stars visible to the naked eye from downtown areas that generally suffer from much light pollution.

The wee hours are not what they used to be with my early am schedule. And I call myself a goth.

At least there is still the winter to enjoy.

Posted by the Flea at 12:23 PM

The Google Blacklist Christmas Card

You are about to construct a lovely Christmas message from all the words Google has blacklisted (typing them in will yield no search results). It will almost certainly be offensive (hat tip to Mr. Liddle).

By extension: Curious when the word "Christmas" will be added to the blacklist.

Posted by the Flea at 12:22 PM

Philip Glass: Akhnaten, Act I, Scene 3

The one who neglects the present moment loses all that he has. As the arrow passing through the heart, the warrior not knowing what it was.
- Akhenaten

Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra and Chorus - Window of Appearances from Akhnaten.

According to the composer, this work is the culmination of his two other biographical operas, Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha (about Mohandas Gandhi). These three people — Akhenaten, Einstein and Gandhi — were all driven by an inner vision which altered the age in which they lived, in particular Akhenaten in religion, Einstein in science, and Gandhi in politics.
Posted by the Flea at 12:21 PM

December 20, 2010

Coyote fugly

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The fur flies.

Epic, not terribly Canadian: Conan's father...

Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos, they fooled Crom, and they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered. And the Earth shook. Fire and wind struck down these giants, and they threw their bodies into the waters, but in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. We who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men. The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan. You must learn its discipline. For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. [points to sword] This you can trust.
Posted by the Flea at 09:24 AM

Act III, Scene iii

On this, the darkest solstice since the Tudors were in power*, I realize, yes, that is "Pomp & Circumstance" on Radio France. Alex Taylor has been busy winding up our French cousins since he took the helm at Musique matin, asking his guests what they had for breakfast. This will send them round the twist croissant.

Well played, sir.

Minor quibble for Alex: Teresa Stratas is from Toronto, so far as I know, the "s" at the end of Stratas is not silent (though in contemporary Greek, personal names will drop the "s" as a form of endearment).

* A very special selenelion.

It's the first time in almost 500 years that a lunar eclipse has coincided with the winter solstice - the longest day of the year - on 21 December.

There is also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a selenelion, which occurs when the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time. This is also known as a horizontal eclipse, because both sun and moon appear above the horizon at nearly opposite points in the sky.
Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

Martin Solveig: Smash, Episode #1 "Hello"

Posted by the Flea at 08:02 AM

December 19, 2010

Cancelled

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Syfy used Twitter to announce Stargate Universe has been cancelled.

Oh. Ok.

Announcement today: Syfy will end its original action-adventure series Stargate Universe when the show returns with the final ...

Shame they didn't think to tell the cast. Not to worry, Mr. Blue. A lifetime of autograph signing at cons awaits you.

More awkward: Robert Carlyle's return to the British film industry.

Preemptive nostalgia: Even the sexy Stargate Universe women were boring.

Posted by the Flea at 07:58 AM

Irony defined

Also, hypocrisy.

Lawyers for Julian Assange have expressed anger about an alleged smear campaign against the WikiLeaks founder after incriminating police files were published in the newspaper that has used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.
...
Bjorn Hurtig, Assange's Swedish lawyer, said he would lodge a formal complaint to the authorities and ask them to investigate how such sensitive police material leaked into the public domain.
Posted by the Flea at 07:54 AM

Robyn: Fembot

Posted by the Flea at 07:53 AM

December 18, 2010

Monsieur, azonnal kövessen engem, bitte!

Writing for City Journal, Guy Sorman considers Asia's rising megacities.

Take Shanghai, China’s largest city, with a population of more than 19 million. Originally built by Europeans for Europeans, Shanghai has preserved some of the streets of its West-in-the-East past and boasts a lively, nearly tropical ambience that endears it to foreign visitors. But the Chinese government has, unsurprisingly, sought to transform the city into a glittering showcase of China’s rising power—above all, to lure foreign banks and investors away from Hong Kong. The tactic has yet to succeed: Hong Kong remains more attractive, though less because of its impressive buildings (Shanghai’s can compete in height, if not in architectural quality) than because of its commitment to the rule of law.

Related: Yu Fei Men: Sheng Sheng Man (I think.).

Posted by the Flea at 09:58 AM

High Renaissance Man

Note to self: Move to Bristol. Buy Robert Pattinson standee for office.

Posted by the Flea at 09:54 AM

Stewart Copeland: Dark Ships

Hat tip to Mr. Taylor for reminding me of The Equalizer.

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

December 17, 2010

Muggles not as stupid as we think, says Ministry report

Emma Watson is the first ever moving magazine cover.

In the magical world of Harry Potter, people move in photographs. So it is perhaps appropriate that Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger in the hit movies, has made history by appearing in the first ever moving magazine cover.

Marie Claire has launched an app for the iPad, turning Watson's December covershoot for the American edition of the publication into a 'living' image.
Posted by the Flea at 11:48 AM

Sotra

Today's vocabulary builder: Cryovolcano.

Three icy volcanoes line up on Saturn’s moon Titan, giving some of the best evidence yet that explosive eruptions are possible on worlds beyond Earth.

The volcanic peaks and pits lie in a region called Sotra Facula on Titan’s southern hemisphere. The mountains rise more than 3,000 feet into the air, and the deepest hole sinks nearly 5,000 feet below the surrounding plains
Posted by the Flea at 11:47 AM

Spy Smasher

"That's why I became Spy Smasher, just so I could fight the Nazis on their own ground. Now it's time to fight them here in the United States."

Alan Armstrong, aka Spy Smasher, battles a Nazi villain known as The Mask, who heads a gang of saboteurs determined to spread destruction across America.

Episode II and Episode III.

Posted by the Flea at 11:44 AM

Fordidden Rose by Avril Lavigne

Ahh, the forbidden flowers of Napanee.

Posted by the Flea at 11:43 AM

Daft Punk: Fragile

Posted by the Flea at 11:42 AM

December 16, 2010

Agents with Dirty Faces (1939)

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A proper story.

Marlene Dietrich, Mary Boland, Frank Morgan & Cliff Nazarro in the Radio Spy Comedy "Agents with Dirty Faces". From the Screen Guild Theatre's 2nd Variety Show, January 29th 1939.

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

The next tulip bubble

Theodore Dalrymple has his full curmugeon on, castigating student rioters for their quite understandable desire to have someone else pay for their education.

More fool them: University qualifications are not worth what they used to be. At least one giant accounting firm has decided to bypass university graduates entirely, choosing instead to hire and train school leavers directly.

Business lobby groups said the move also highlights a growing ‘suspicion’ among firms that a university degree is worth less than it used to be.
...
Phil McCabe, from the Forum of Private Business, said: ‘Entrepreneurs are already sceptical that universities can produce workers with the attitude and aptitude they need. And the pool of talented young employees in higher education is likely to shrink as a result of barriers created by tuition fees.’

Its researchers found that business owners are twice as likely to prefer recruiting school or college leavers than graduates or post-graduates.

Being paid for professional, applicable training instead of taking on a mountain of debt for an undgraduate (or graduate) "studies" degree. It isn't a choice, it's an intelligence test.

Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

You know, the Snake God People

Finally, I discovered the answer.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM

Hotel a la Swing (1937) - Holiday in Hades

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM

December 15, 2010

You had a shot

Princess_Leia.jpg

Disheartening news. Unless you accept my time-traveling nerd plan premise (hat tip to Taylor Empire Airways).

Carrie Fisher today admitted SLEEPING with fans obsessed with Princess Leia — saying: "Nerds will surprise you."

The actress — idolised by an entire generation for her role as the braided-bun haired member of the Rebel Alliance — said sci-fi geeks wanted to live out their fantasies with her.

Carrie, 54, confessed: "I certainly have, along the way, slept with a nerd.

"But I don't think I ever got anything out of it except the sex.

You heard that, right? That was the sound of millions of nerds crying out at once. Then falling silent as the truth hits them.

Time travel related: Proto-Vader and proto-C3PO masks.

Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM

V'ger must evolve

NASA announces Voyager 1 is reaching the edge of the solar system.

Launched in 1977, the unmanned ship is about 10.8 billion miles away from the sun, in an area of the solar system called the heliosheath. The heliosheath is the final area of the solar system where the sun's wind blows.

NASA reports:

"Voyager 1 has crossed into an area where the velocity of the hot ionized gas, or plasma, emanating directly outward from the sun has slowed to zero... The event is a major milestone in Voyager 1's passage through the heliosheath, the turbulent outer shell of the sun's sphere of influence, and the spacecraft's upcoming departure from our solar system."

The BBC hosts audio of Voyager project scientist Ed Stone.

On board: One of two Golden Records (image) composed of sounds and music representing life on Earth.

The Voyager Golden Record has "115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals... musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages."

Also: The late, great Carl Sagan accompanied by an immortal Vangelis soundtrack.

And: From Voyager's Golden Record, "Kinds of Flowers".

Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM

The Joy of Stats

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM

South Sea Island Bolero (1934)

Why Paul Gaugin was and remains the man. Also Bronislaw Malinowski.

Related demand: Toronto needs Tiki.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM

December 14, 2010

Get your Mjöllnir on

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Chris Hemsworth is the Norse god Thor in Kenneth Branagh's adaptation (seriously? Marvel hands this gig to Branagh? Ok, I guess.), starring Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston.

Background: Who is The Destroyer?

The Destroyer, at its core, is an enchanted suit of armor first forged by Thor's father Odin, the Asgardian ruler played in "Thor" by Anthony Hopkins. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Destroyer first appeared in "Journey into Mystery" #118 in 1965, and despite its capacity for great destruction, the armored force of nature wasn't always intended as a thorn in Thor's side.
Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM

Natalie Portman: New York Times Magazine December 2010

What is it about Natalie Portman that is so boring? She surely shouldn't be. Yet there she is. Boring me.

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM

If you're in a fight, you want the Canadians on your side

Tom Brokaw explains the relationship between Canada and The United States, in a pre-recorded short film that aired on NBC, prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Feb. 12th, 2010.
Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

BBC - World War One From Above

Via the Armored Facilities Manager.

Aesthetically related: Yet more unspeakable airship goodness with ten minutes of demo gameplay from Bioshock: Infinite.

Note to self: Prepare aetheric battle zeppelin for expedition into the virtual past.

Posted by the Flea at 09:43 AM

Led Zeppelin: D'yer Mak'er

Posted by the Flea at 09:42 AM

December 13, 2010

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

Eye of Agamotto.jpg

This Eye of Agamotto papercraft template could come in handy once I find some gold smithying dwarves to do me the job proper (via Comic Book Resources).

In the Marvel Comics universe perhaps no hero wields greater magical powers than Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme. Doctor Strange possesses numerous magical artifacts which he uses to amplify his power, but there are only two he keeps on his person at all times. One is the Cloak of Levitation wrapped around his shoulders and the other is the Eye of Agamotto fastened at his throat.
Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

The fire in which we burn

The Atlantic, May 2009: “Time is the substance of which I am made,” wrote Jorge Luis Borges, whose stories seemed to issue from the lucid core of a particularly nasty intertemporal hangover.

He could just as well have been writing about Alan Moore, latest and most wizardly (more on this later) of the literary time-tamperers, whose shadow over pop culture is currently longer than those of Vonnegut, Dick, and Borges combined.
Posted by the Flea at 06:47 AM

Heresy

The chosen one is not Luke Skywalker but his father Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader (original series only, the prequels being a yet worse heresy).

Related: WookieLeaks.

Posted by the Flea at 06:44 AM | Comments (1)

Floris Kaayk: The Order Electrus

Posted by the Flea at 06:43 AM

The Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws

From the immortal classic Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988). Because thanks to Kathy, we all have to up our B-movie game in the Canadian dextrosphere.

When private detective Jack Chandler (Richardson) tries to track down a teenage runaway (Linnea Quigley), he runs into a cult of Egyptian chainsaw-worshipping prostitutes led by "The Master" (Gunnar Hansen—Leatherface from the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre).

Related: Have you heard the good news about Set, the Snake God?

Posted by the Flea at 06:42 AM

Mylène Farmer: Appelle Mon Numéro

Note to self re codependency/enabling issues: So over Winona Ryder. Need to work on being over Mylène Farmer.

Related: In case you are not over Winona Ryder (via Agent Bedhead).

I remember being at this bar called Tosca in San Francisco, and I met this guy one night. He was really cute, and we were talking, and then, like, he just said something about how he had always had a crush on me. And I was suddenly mistrustful about why he was talking to me.
Posted by the Flea at 06:41 AM

December 12, 2010

Heaven 17: We Don't Need No Fascist Groove Thing

Posted by the Flea at 10:23 AM

December 11, 2010

Who's your User?

TRON_iPod_dock.jpg

I hope Flea-readers will forgive this instance of shameless product placement. Special circumstances.

I am not even an Apple guy but this is a TRON iPod Dock for pity's sake.

Monster proudly unveils the future of sight, sound and style, inspired by the iconic disc featured in Disney's epic film, Tron. With its soothing, luminous glow, the dual-pipe lighting rings on the Tron Light Disc Sound Dock come alive to the rhythm of your favorite music. This dazzling synchronized display is more than a conversation piece - it's a technological work of art that brings the world of Tron straight into your home or office.

Soothing. Luminous. If I hadn't already blown the bank on this holiday season I would have to reconsider my permanent Apple boycott.

And these TRON headphones.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

The electric things have their life too. Paltry as those lives are.

Not many of Philip K. Dick's books have been adapted for the stage. Even given my reservations, I wish I had not missed Edward Einhorn's take on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), finishing its run yesterday.

I read the book after I had already seen Blade Runner, and I was struck by how different it was—and to my mind, better. The thing that intrigued me about it was Mercerism, empathy, and their relationship to the symbol of the electric sheep—none of which appeared in the movie at all. The movie is of course an entity in itself, and groundbreaking in its own way, but it didn’t capture the heart of what the book said to me.

Then I read about one of Dick’s inspirations—he had read a Nazi journal in which an SS officer complained about not being able to sleep because the crying of the children in the concentration camps kept him awake. Instead of empathizing with the suffering of the children, the officer only saw them as a nuisance that disturbed his sleep. Dick started thinking of people who lacked any sort of empathy as androids. To me, the book is all about how the process of war and killing (or being enslaved) makes people into androids, and Mercerism is all about resurrecting that spirit inside.

Which is to miss much of the point of Blade Runner and of Dick's novel. Yes, Mercerism is missing from Ridley Scott's film adaptation but the theme of missing empathy takes centre stage nevertheless. In the end, it is the androids who demonstrate an ability to care for one another and humanity which has demonstrably lost the capacity to do so.

In fact, my only complaint with the director's cut of Blade Runner is how apparent it becomes that Deckard was himself a replicant all along. Much more interesting, more compelling for Deckard - a man - to have learned empathy from the machines he was sent to destroy.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Concept notes for new SF drama

A summary of ideas for a new science fiction BBC TV series. Such was the future of 1963 (via Quotulatiousness with more on the genesis of Dr. Who).

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

Liver Good Life

Featuring the musical stylings of Coco Sumner.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Viagra: A day without you

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM | Comments (2)

December 10, 2010

In space, no one can hear you suck

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Ridley Scott's Alien prequel now has a title; production is set to being in March (hat tip to Beautiful Atrocities).

Oh, and by the way, let's stop calling it "Ridley Scott's Alien prequel" — the title is Paradise.

We're told that Paradise reboots the original Alien franchise, in that the story follows a group of space travelers who encounter a monstrous alien creature that picks them off, one by one.

I have to say this does not sound terribly promising.

Ridley Scott as of April this year:

It’s set in 2085, about 30 years before Sigourney [Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley]. It’s fundamentally about going out to find out ‘Who the hell was that Space Jockey?’ The guy who was sitting in the chair in the alien vehicle — there was a giant fellow sitting in a seat on what looked to be either a piece of technology or an astronomer’s chair. Remember that?

Yes, thanks. But I also remember Kingdom of Heaven, is the problem.

H.R. Giger called his painting The Pilot - a much grander, more mysterious name - but, hey, it's Ridley Scott's baby. The trouble isn't in resurrecting this story thread per se, the alien distress/warning beacon and the alien(s) who sent it are part of what puts the medias in Alien's in medias res. The trouble is that in exploring this storyline we lose yet more of the shadows that leant the original film its Lovecraftian cosmic menace, already attenuated in the stark blue light of James Cameron's (admittedly excellent) sequel. Even Scott acknowledges the Xenomorph form was "played out" by the following sequels, he can't be bothered to remember whether there were four or five films in the franchise. Now we risk losing the Space Jockey as well.

Worse yet, by giving us the same Ten Little Indians narrative structure yet again - and yet more of the inevitable, egregious CGI that has propped up so much lazy sf storytelling - it is difficult to believe Scott has any surprises for us. I hope I'm wrong. I really do. But if just one more ill thought out installment of this franchise gets released it is game over, man. Game over.

Not so fast: Fox communications VP Chris Petrikin tweets to say the film will not be called "Paradise". Just as well, it's not a great title.

Posted by the Flea at 07:48 AM | Comments (3)

Tentacle-like prosthetic arm will haunt your dreams

Or inspire them! Yog Sothoth is the Key! Yog Sothoth is the Gate! Yog Sothoth is the Key and the Guardian of the Gate! All are one in Yog Sothoth! Iä! Iä! Iog-Sotôt Fhtagn!

With blessings to the Armored Facilities Manager.

Posted by the Flea at 07:47 AM | Comments (1)

There will never be a Canadian version of The Onion

This country defies parody.

(Hat tip to Five Feet of Fury.)

Posted by the Flea at 07:44 AM

George Carlin: Saving the Planet

Posted by the Flea at 07:43 AM

Meat Loaf: Paradise By The Dashboard Light

The coolest thing you will hear today.

Posted by the Flea at 07:42 AM | Comments (1)

December 09, 2010

Superman's critique

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Noir Jewelry has released a line inspired by DC Comics. Most of which is a little lame. The exception bing a rather impressive ring I gather is Metropolis but which for great justice should actually be the bottle city of Kandor.

Posted by the Flea at 06:58 AM

Cating Julian Assange

The answer is Neil Patrick Harris, obviously.

Related: Agent Bedhead forwards an updated update on the WikiLeaks cyber war.

BTW: The WikiLeaks bunker.

Also: Anonymous comments on the current contretemps.

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

Georges Bataille: Literature And Evil

Talk about disappointing. As a friend once said: Just because you say it slowly in French doesn't mean it's deep.

That said, I still think The Accursed Share is a work of genius.

The only TV interview that exists with Georges Bataille (1958). About his book Literature And Evil. Interviewer: Pierre Dumayet.
Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Hurts: Illuminated

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

December 08, 2010

Tesla's horseless carriage

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The Takayanagi Miluira Retro EV is the first electric Fleamobile (hat tip to Mr. Ash).

Some electric cars try to be as practical and mass-market as possible, while others aim for uniqueness and beautiful design (maybe someday we'll have a combination of both). The Takayanagi Miluira Retro EV definitely falls in the second category. The electric 1-seater looks kind of like a car from the 1920s with a bit of steampunk aesthetic thrown in.

With reservations: A three-day expedition in to yesterday's future, The Steampunk World's Fair at Piscataway, New Jersey might be worth a road trip.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM

Syntax was winning

An unusual experiment in statistical analysis.

The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.
...
Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs, the two historians of science at George Mason University who have created the project, have so far charted how frequently more than two dozen words — among them “God,” “love,” “work,” “science” and “industrial” — appear in British book titles from the French Revolution in 1789 to the beginning of World War I in 1914.

Which suggests they have got as far as to ask about the terms they imagine were important to the Victorians.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM

Do not call up that which ye cannot put down

No longer content with raping his own past, George Lucas sets out to rape the entire history of cinema.

Star Wars creator George Lucas has been buying the film rights to dead movie legends to put them together on screen.

Related: George Lucas Presents: Singin' In the Rain (Special Edition).

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Albert Camus on nihilism

Interesting in itself and for Camus' approach to adapting Dostoevsky for the stage. At three and a half hours, I expect sitting through it felt longer than reading the novel.

Albert Camus talks about his stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky's "The Possessed", (also known as "The Devils" and "Demons"), in 1959, a year before his death in an automobile accident. Interviewer: Pierre Dumayet.
Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Loboda: Ya Revoliuciya

Ok, so this is my new favourite thing ever (with a hat tip to Beautiful Atrocities).

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)

December 07, 2010

Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read

An ancient Egyptian mausoleum may hold clues to the transformation of the gray wolf into more than four-hundred modern dog breeds (via Gates of Vienna).

in 1897, French adventurer Jacques de Morgan found himself standing in a dark crypt in Egypt, knee-deep in bones that crackled and snapped with every step he took: He had discovered the world's largest dog cemetery.

De Morgan's pioneering discovery was soon forgotten in professional circles. But now, more than a century later, researchers from Cardiff University, in Wales, have turned their attention to the dog mausoleum once again and are conducting excavations at the site. Paul Nicholson, a lecturer in archaeology from the university who is leading the dig, says that thousands of mummified dogs were once placed into niches in the cavern.
Posted by the Flea at 09:58 AM

Zombie survival update

The anatomy of the headshot.

Posted by the Flea at 09:57 AM

Cheat (1996)

The existence of this Guess commercial suggests the '90s were not a complete bust.

"Cheat", not standing a chance against the ever intoxicating looks of a seductive girl (Juliette Lewis), the cheater (Peter Horton) falls deep into a trap set by a cunning P.I. (Harry Dean Stanton) and his wife (Traci Lords).
Posted by the Flea at 09:54 AM | Comments (2)

Zero 7: Ghost Symbol

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

December 06, 2010

Union of Superlative Heroes

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Chet Phillips has produced twenty trading cards of Marvel and DC heroes steampunk style.

Imagining a parallel universe in which superheroes inhabit a Steampunk Victorian world, the Union of Superlative Heroes is a collection of characters from a variety of countries, each with their own unique abilities or mutations. Twenty cards in all, this set profiles such epic figures as Marquis Le Bat, Stupendous Man, Empress Amazonia, Arachno Kid, Prince Aqueous, Lord Wolverton plus fourteen more.
Posted by the Flea at 06:58 AM | Comments (2)

Geared Up Garters

Fascinated by the mechanical beauty of gears? Like a little steam in your punk?

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

Explain the internet

To a 19th century British street urchin.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Dancing with Invisible Light

Audrey Penven's Dancing with Invisible Light is a series of "interactions" with Kinect's infrared structured light.

With these images I was exploring the unique photographic possibilities presented by using a Microsoft Kinect as a light source. The Kinect - an inexpensive videogame peripheral - projects a pattern of infrared dots known as "structured light". Invisible to the eye, this pattern can be captured using an infrared camera.
Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

Wittingly

With one important caveat (outlined above), I agree with Theodore Dalrymple's analysis of the WikiLeaks contretemps.

...WikiLeaks goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism.

The idea behind WikiLeaks is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations. In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life.

Childish isn't the half of it. It is no accident WikiLeaks' greatest supporters are half-wits, wreckers and counter-revolutionaries. They are not only dancing while Rome burns; they lit the fires.

Posted by the Flea at 06:52 AM

Rimsky-Korsakov: Fantasy on Russian Themes, Op 33 1st mtv

Posted by the Flea at 06:51 AM

December 04, 2010

Snow (1963)

Documented in Geoffrey Jones' Oscar nominated short, we learn that even decades ago England suffered from the wrong kind of snow (via Small Dead Animals).

Comprising train and track footage quickly shot just before a heavy winter's snowfall was melting, the award-winning classic that emerged from the cutting-room compresses British Rail's dedication to blizzard-battling into a thrilling eight-minute montage cut to music. Tough-as-boots workers struggling to keep the line clear are counterpointed with passengers' buffet-car comforts.
Posted by the Flea at 07:58 AM

A writer is a __________?

Person with an unhealthy tolerance for failure.

More at the link but that one speaks to me.

Posted by the Flea at 07:57 AM

Pocket War Comics

"War Picture Library was a British 64-page Pocket library war comic title published by Amalgamated Press/Fleetway ... for 2103 issues. Each issue featured a complete story, beginning in 1 September 1958 with "Fight Back to Dunkirk" and finishing 26 years later with "Wings of the Fleet" (3 December 1984)."

"Oh no it looks like Cutter's bought it!" If this statement makes sense to you, you've come to the right place.

Posted by the Flea at 07:54 AM

Space Battleship Yamato

No, sir, Captain. But I've been blown ashore a couple of times!

Posted by the Flea at 07:53 AM

Sarah Brightman: Dust in the Wind

Posted by the Flea at 07:52 AM | Comments (3)

December 03, 2010

Something you didn't know about Greedo

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Comment at GeekTyrant explains (via MyDisguises).

Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)

Kuat Drive Yards capital ships

An Imperial Star Destroyer Fleet made with LEGO.

Always handy: Dan Carlson's Starship Size Comparison Chart.

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM | Comments (4)

To know, to will, to dare and, in this instance, not to keep silent

Save the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica!

The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (BPH, or Ritman Library) in Amsterdam has been a very important institution for research into hermetic philosophy and related currents, particularly early modern Rosicrucianism and alchemy, for decades. In a dramatic and very unsettling turn of events, the library’s existence as we know it is now being threatened.

I signed the petition but have had second thoughts. In light of the Netherlands likely near future, it may be best for the collection to be broken up, sold and moved overseas. Almost two-thirds might be saved from the fire.

Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM

Craig Ferguson: The lost "Dr. Who" cold open

He is correct in his summation of the character.

Also, I hope intellect and romance triumph over brute force and cynicism. Or we are fucked.

Posted by the Flea at 09:43 AM | Comments (1)

The Nudes: Indian Graveyard (Ladybugs Remix)

Featuring the Indelible Dance Co.

Posted by the Flea at 09:42 AM

December 02, 2010

An important message from The Order of The Serpentine

Have you heard the good news about Set, the Snake God?

Posted by the Flea at 06:58 AM | Comments (4)

Invincible

For $3m, you could have your own fixer-upper aircraft carrier.

I can understand Canada never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity but I would have thought Google would jump at having its own fleet air arm.

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

Einstürzende Neubauten: Nagorny Karabach

Much as I would like to blame Homeland Security for Einstürzende Neubauten's tour cancellation, it sounds as though the band did not get their visa applications lined up with enough time to spare for the process.

Which is a pity as they seem to have got melodic in their old age.

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

The Magnetic Fields: The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure

Posted by the Flea at 06:53 AM

December 01, 2010

Enki Bilal working in his studio

Also: A clip from a 1986 documentary on Enki Bilal.

And: I have Immortel ad vitam on Blu-ray but have been afraid to watch it lest it fry my brain's awesome processing module.

Aussi: Artnet.fr s'offre un portrait d'Enki Bilal.

Posted by the Flea at 09:48 AM

633 Squadron Mosquito

The before of the Battle of Yavin (hat tip to the Armored Facilities Manager).

If you thought George Lucas copied the Death Star attack from the Dambusters, think again...

Posted by the Flea at 09:47 AM | Comments (2)

Kylie Minogue: Radio2 Live Sessions Acoustic

Is she even more beautiful than she used to be?

I think she is.

Here is the incredible Kylie Minogue performing 5 Acoustic versions of her hit singles on the BBC Radio 2 Live Sessions in 2 parts.

Part 1:
1) Cant Get You Out of My Head
2) All The Lovers
3) In My Arms

Part 2:
4) Confide in Me
5) Better Than Today
Posted by the Flea at 09:44 AM