June 30, 2004



Thandie Newton and Karl Urban are the thin line between watchability and total suckage. A bit odd to see Urban without his Eomer on. Ain't It Cool News reviews The Chronicles of Riddick.

I hate the baroque design of the universe in this film. I kept thinking that the film looked like Tatapoulos and the other designers got struck with a Schumachrian dose of Anton Furst wunder-envy whilst hanging out in Vegas and flipping through a book of Michelangelo’s sketches regarding the human body. When Riddick is taken into the head Necromonger’s ship… and he is asked by that bad actress from BELOVED and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 what he thinks of the place, and retorts with, “I’d of gone another way,” I was thinking… NO S***.


Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM | TrackBack (0)


The first anniversary of the Bonfire of the Vanities is being celebrated at Wizbang.

Posted by the Flea at 08:50 AM | TrackBack (0)

Little Norway Park

Ok, Toronto question here. Has anyone notice the distorted, Mythos-influenced totem pole down at Little Norway Park? I could not find an image of it on-line. Something to add to my hypothetical digital camera list.

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Shark Obsessions

Swimming with sharks in 3D panoramas! Shark Pass is particularly beautiful.

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All these worlds are yours. Except Europa.*

*Europa trademark Flea Industries PLC. Some worlds may be small and potato shaped.

Posted by the Flea at 08:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

St George

Renovations at St Cadoc's church in south Wales have uncovered a medieval wall painting thought to have been covered up since the Reformation.

A life-size image of St George standing on a slain a dragon was uncovered at St Cadoc's church in Llangattock Lingoed, near Abergavenny.
Posted by the Flea at 08:38 AM | TrackBack (1)


Nesting pigeons pointed the way to a hidden treasure.

Art restorers working in Valencia's cathedral spotted the birds flying through a hole in what turned out to be a false ceiling and were intrigued. They stuck a digital camera in the gap and shot pictures that showed a well-preserved 15th century Italian fresco.
Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Voynich Manuscript

More on the Voynich Manuscript as a new analysis "suggests that it contains nothing but gibberish".

Critics of this hypothesis have argued that Voynichese is too complex to be nonsense. How could a medieval hoaxer produce 230 pages of script with so many subtle regularities in the structure and distribution of the words? But I have recently discovered that one can replicate many of the remarkable features of Voynichese using a simple coding tool that was available in the 16th century. The text generated by this technique looks much like Voynichese, but it is merely gibberish, with no hidden message. This finding does not prove that the Voynich manuscript is a hoax, but it does bolster the long-held theory that an English adventurer named Edward Kelley may have concocted the document to defraud Rudolph II. (The emperor reportedly paid a sum of 600 ducats--equivalent to about $50,000 today--for the manuscript.)
Posted by the Flea at 08:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Roman Rosettes

An 18th-century interpretation of ancient Roman design. Lovely.

In 1781, Carlo Antonini published a study on the carved rosettes found decorating most interior ceilings of these ancient monuments and buildings. The publication included 100 different examples of these ornamental rosettes, found in the ruins throughout Rome and surrounding towns. The quality of the copperplate engraving of each rosette is extraordinary, featuring both the frontal view of the stone carving and a cross-section to show the depth of the carved decoration.
Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | TrackBack (0)

Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

One of the outstanding model theatrical works.

The modern revolutionary Peking opera "Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy", carefully revised, perfected and polished to the last detail with our great leader Chairman Mao's loving care, now glitters with surpassing splendour.

The entire opera is crying out to be captained. Scene Nine especially.

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June 29, 2004



I have become attached to this show. There is nothing nasty or petty or cynical about it.

Posted by the Flea at 08:55 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

Cane and Cloak Clasp

Maybe this Palpatine cane would let me do that blue lightning thing to speed up my morning coffee making ritual.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Cloud Gods

This Cloud Gods ad makes me want to buy a Mercedes right now.

The ad’s dramatic reverse pull-back shot, diving from sky to car, was created in post by making the start frames ‘wider’. This was achieved by building extra scenery in 3D at the edge of frame. Similarly, dust trails behind the car were extended to give a grander scale.
Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Psycho Pong

This is incredibly irritating.

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Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (via Attu).

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Risky Buildings

Unloved buildings of historical significance.

Today, many important buildings of the twentieth century are not only neglected and unappreciated, but are severely decaying and under serious threat of being demolished. The majority of these buildings are made from concrete. Crumbling and stained, they lack the romance of polished marble or rough-hewn stone. Desolate car parks and redundant shopping centres seldom attract the sympathy and support of the public, despite being of potentially great architectural importance.
Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Zoology in the UK

John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, is to host a series of wildlife specials.

“Producers are keen for him to go on and do a show about bulls — to be called Never Mind The Bullocks.”

Lydon has already begun shooting his wildlife series which will be screened later this year. Two shows are provisionally titled John Lydon’s Shark Attack and John Lydon Goes Ape. He is also hoping to front a show about what he claims is his real passion — insects.
Posted by the Flea at 08:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 28, 2004

Red Blooded Woman

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Steel Defence Commander

A reverse shoot'em up. Defend your base from an incoming fighter.

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Redirect the laser in this puzzle game.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM | TrackBack (0)

Evil Dead

The musical! Sadly, I was too disorganized to get out to see it. There is a cute choose your own adventure game tucked into the multimedia section.

Five teenagers away for the weekend, an old abandoned cabin in the woods, what could possibly go wrong?
Posted by the Flea at 08:46 AM | TrackBack (0)

Northwest Passage

“The Northwest Passage did not exist, and so could not be discovered, until Europeans invented it.”

Of Maps and Men features hopeful maps of the shortest route from Europe to the Orient (hat tip to The Tiger in Winter).

The Canadian Arctic (including Hudson Bay) occupies an area of approximately one million square miles of glaciated plain, tundra, islands, sounds, straits, inlets, and passages, which are frozen and choked with ice floes and pack ice for much of the year. For 400 years explorers sought a navigable passage through its archipelago or across its land.
Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM | TrackBack (0)

Admiral Graf Spee

For all your summer boating needs.

Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Underhand, unfair, and damned un-English

A Washington Post review of a new book on the history of submarines (via A&L Daily).

That a weapons system invented to facilitate a guerre de course -- or "commerce war," a form of maritime insurgency that slithered over into piracy -- would elicit condemnation from more tradition-minded warriors was foreseen by Leonardo da Vinci, who refused to actualize his design for a submersible for the benefit "of men who practice assassination at the bottom of the sea."
Posted by the Flea at 08:32 AM | TrackBack (0)


The Department of the Navy presents naval art from the Battle of Midway.

These artistic representations of the battle of Midway are an important supplement for the historical record of the event. Because the two opposing fleets never came face to face, a number of significant incidents of the battle are unrecorded, and these artworks help fill the gaps. Derived from eyewitness accounts and official photographs, these images are prime examples of what the public was given to visualize this historic encounter.
Posted by the Flea at 08:30 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 26, 2004

Red Ensign Blogs

In the spirit of Milblogs I am opening a post to keep track of blogs flying one or another version of the Canadian Red Ensign (this function has now been suspended).

We had an aircraft carrier. Imagine that. Now we have metric and the CBC. It was a bad trade. I am proud to say this is one of a handful of countries in the whole world where you can arrive, work hard and send your kids to school in the hope of a better life. No matter your accent or appearance you will be Canadian. Try moving to France and see if you could do the same. It is true that Canada used to be a profoundly nativist country with some repellent ideas about race. It is also true the history of this country might be told as one of conquest and exploitation. Also, we had no cable television. We were far from perfect. Nobody sensible wants anything like that again.

But Canada has also been about exploration and entrepreneurialism and optimism. Half this country is made up of Hudson's Bay territory itself granted in a charter to the oldest corporation in the world. It was trade that drove the voyageurs to find the next river or the next lake. It was trade that inspired the search for the elusive northwest passage (soon to be a reality if global warming finally pays off).

This country has also been a force for liberty. The third largest navy in the world fed Britain through the dark days of the Blitz and Hitler's north Atlantic wolf packs. This is the country that took Vimy Ridge and that stormed Juno Beach. Let's bring back that Canada.

Update: November 2, 2005

After I wrote this post I kept track of people flying the Red Ensign at their websites. I no longer do so. I have no relationship with the Red Ensign bloggers (though I have got to know several of them) and from what I can make out my politics are well to the left of most of them.

More important: it has come to my attention that some racist groups use the Canadian Red Ensign as a symbol. This is a profound insult. Canadians fought and died at Juno Beach to oppose fascism and racism. It is a fight we have yet to win.

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Greeks topple forlorn France

Let's just sit back and enjoy that headline shall we?

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Recreate that penalty shot.

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Parks Canada

It was only a matter of time before Parks Canada linked to the Flea.

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Web surfing has a new, perhaps stupid, meaning.

For a decade, "surfing" has come to mean browsing the net rather than riding ocean waves on a plank. But a surfboard has now been developed that lets surfers surf while surfing.
Posted by the Flea at 10:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

Blog Studies

Coming soon to undergraduate departments near you. It is a sure sign the pestilence of analysis has started that SDB has to fend off questionnaires. The survey is ludicrous. Having decided bloggers are narcissists the questions are all directed at uncovering aspirations to immmortality. Den Beste replies:

Anyone who knows much about the web would snort contemptuously at the idea that anything could "live forever online". (We have to live with what's known as "link rot".)

The only reason my material is online is that I pay money each month. If I stop doing so, it will all vanish.

Not that bloggers are not aiming for immortality by other means. I plan to get my immortality the old fashioned way: vampirism.

Posted by the Flea at 10:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Samizdata has fallen under the spell of Belinda Stronach.

Belinda is 38, single, brilliant, gorgeous, an experienced senior manager and capitalist to her DNA base pairs.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun.

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM | TrackBack (0)

Planet Earth

The Earth as seen from SpaceShipOne (via The Eternal Golden Braid).

So, how was the view? A video camera on an earlier test flight that climbed 40 miles recorded this picture looking west over the southern California coast and the Earth's limb. In the foreground, the nozzle of SpaceShipOne's hybrid rocket is visible along with the edge of the wing in a "feathered" configuration for reentry.
Posted by the Flea at 10:03 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 25, 2004

Elizabeth Bennet


Keira Knightley is to star as Elizabeth Bennet in a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Matthew MacFadyen has been cast as Darcy. He has that brooding saturnine thing going which is what I believe is called for. Not that I would know not having read the book. My only impression is of Colin Firth as that guy based on that guy in that column that got turned into a movie with whatsherface who supposedly had to gain weight for the role but in reality looked less skeletal than usual.

Should I read Jane Austen? I have relegated that sort of thing to the chick lit section along with... I pause for a shudder... Lucy Maud Montgomery. Prolonged argument with a maoist ex of my undergrad days revealed to me that pornography produces unrealistic ideas about sexuality and relationships for men. Forgive my somewhat dense reaction to this line of reasoning but I thought that lack of realism was the entire point of pornography. This got me nowhere. A better riposte was to point out that much of the literature that was popular among undergrad women at the time produced equally unrealistic ideas about sexuality and relationships. I called it "Lucy Maud Montnography", thought I was very clever and remain to this day the only person who has laughed at that joke.

Time to read some Cormac McCarthy and assure myself that all is right with the world.

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Robot Song

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Hinterland Who's Who

I am honestly choking up as I watch these clips. The cougar. The beaver. The ptarmigan, of course. They are all here. Canadians my age grew up with Hinterland Who's Who clips and that tune is now etched into our psyches.

It begins with the first few bars of the hauntingly familiar flute melody. We’re talking of course about the nostalgic theme music that’s been in the background of Hinterland Who’s Who television spots for nearly 40 years.

All I live for now is to see the one where the narrator asks, "Will the snake eat the frog? Or will the frog eat the snake?" A gnomic parable for our country. And there was the one where the beaver fights off a mountain lion. That beaver kicked ass.

Posted by the Flea at 08:40 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)


I know this is old news but for some reason I think the photo with this article is hilarious. So, how do I get my myostatin suppressed so I can shed pounds, get ripped and perform incredible feats of strength that will amaze and astonish?

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)


Have I wasted my opportunity for Gmail graft?

Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM | TrackBack (0)

Some Assumptions about Fantasy

Ursula K. Le Guin takes on assumptions in fantasy genre fiction in a speech to BookExpo America (via ***Dave).

Assumption 1: The characters are white. Even when they aren’t white in the text, they are white on the cover. I know, you don't have to tell me about sales! I have fought many cover departments on this issue, and mostly lost. But please consider that "what sells" or "doesn't sell" can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Good point. As much as I loved the recent television adaptations of Dune, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune it did pain me to see yet another (two!) white Duncan Idahos. Frank Herbert is quite specific in his description of the character. If it is important to cast Paul Atriedes somewhat faithfully this should also be true of Idaho. It will be critical if they decide to make God Emperor of Dune. Oh yes.

Herbert's favourite characters tend to be pig ugly and have red hair. These turn up over and over again in his writing with the grumpy Jorg X. McKie as an exemplar of the breed. And where do I sign up to work for the BuSab? But I digress.

Le Guin loses me in her moralizing about "(unquestioned) Good and (unexamined) Evil". The spectre of the VRWC haunts her. It is a shame the (unquestionable) Good of women being able to walk the streets unescorted by a male relative and (unexamined by the "left") Evil of sawing heads off for cable news ratings get lumped in with ill conceived fantasy plots. No, fantasy land is not the real middle ages. But that is no reason to obscure the fact of real heroism and real evil in the real world.

Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)

Panoramic Photographs: 1851-1991

A catalogue of panoramic photos dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Disasters are a recurring theme. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire photo is particularly evocative. I had no sense of the scale of the fire until now. But I am left with the conviction that civilization will pick up and rebuild no matter what gets thrown at the West.

Posted by the Flea at 08:25 AM | TrackBack (0)

Marijuana Party

Does anybody have poll numbers for the Marijuana Party? Carol Taylor, a candidate in an Ottawa riding, is reported to be distributing some eye-catching leaflets, presumably inspired by design experience from her occupation as a "professional dominatrix" (via INDC Journal).

Taylor was a Senate page shuttling paper to and from lawmakers in the early 1990s and since then has worked in a Montreal "dungeon" as a dominatrix. "I can't believe Elections Canada allows this kind of stuff. I'm not uptight but I can see how some people would consider this to be pornographic," one Senate employee said. "I'm shocked, and a little aroused."

Frankly, I am also shocked by her... uhh... campaign literature.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun.

Posted by the Flea at 08:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)


How to make a Flea
1 part intelligence
1 part self-sufficiency
1 part
Layer ingredientes in a shot glass. Add a little fitness if desired!


Personality cocktail
From Go-Quiz.com

Note the missing ingredient rendering this cocktail impossible to replicate (via Absinthe & Cookies).

Posted by the Flea at 08:11 AM | TrackBack (4)

June 24, 2004

LÉ Niamh


The LÉ Niamh, pride of the Irish navy, has sailed into Toronto harbour and is docked south of Skydome at Maple Leaf Quay. I stopped by to pay my respects and get a close-up look at a modern offshore patrol vessel. At 78m LÉ Niamh is small in comparison to other warships. But that 76mm OTO Melara Cannon still represents the pointy end of Irish democracy. Beidh fáilte romhat ag aon tam!

The ship will be open to the public on Saturday afternoon from 2 til 5. Folks in Boston and St. John's will also have a chance to visit before she returns to Ireland.

Posted by the Flea at 08:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


I am continuing with the Firefly thing here. A friend sent me an invitation to join the Browncoats - sinister sounding at first, I admit - who turn out to be Firefly related (but you probably already knew that).

In Serenity, Browncoats are Independent Faction soldiers, a body opposed to the AngloSino Alliance in the Unification War. Defeated at Serenity Valley on Hera in 2511, Browncoats are forced to live as galactic outcasts. A small band of them skim the outskirts of the galaxy unnoticed until they find themselves caught between the unstoppable military force of the Universal Alliance and the horrific, cannibalistic fury of the Reavers, savages who roam the very edge of space.

I now pass on the invitation in the hope to enlist a militia of Flea-readers and thereby bringing me Credits for something or other. Sign up and start pestering your friends and relatives to get Credits too! Apparently we also get "exclusive content" and "insider information".

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Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:38 AM | TrackBack (0)

Virtual replay

BBC Sport hosts virtual replays of Euro 2004. An anorak is required for proper viewing.

Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM | TrackBack (0)

Snail & Pace

Just the thing for decreasing your office productivity. I like Gary Gastropod.

Posted by the Flea at 08:31 AM | TrackBack (0)


Ten minutes of B.A.S.E. jumping might not be for people lacking a head for heights. This should get an award for best use of a Metallica cover in an on-line video. Epic.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM | TrackBack (0)

i am asian

Not being an Asian or Pacific Island American, or indeed American of any hyphenation, it is difficult to know what to make of this McDonald's marketing. Does this inspire anyone to express their cultural identity by going for a Big Mac?

We're Asian and Pacific Islander Americans "living on the rim," where our diverse cultures and the everyday American lifestyle become one. We're hanging on to our great traditions while we move to the beat of the times. We honor our heritage - but we love being Americans. From high fashion to high tech, from Asian Pacific American hip hop to haute cuisine, we're weaving the threads of our culture into the fabric of everyday American life. Whether we're sipping green tea or enjoying a Big Mac® sandwich, we're helping make the magic mix called America become even richer. And McDonald's is right there with us, everyday!
Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

Governing philosophy

Governor Schwarzenegger on his governing philosophy (via Andrew Sullivan).

No one has ever accused Mr. Schwarzenegger, no matter what role he is in, of lacking self-confidence, and the governor himself knows that both his celebrity and his superhero screen image are at the core of his distinctive and so far successful political style. Asked to describe his governing philosophy seven months after toppling Gray Davis in California's recall election, he said, "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women."

He stopped himself. "Wait a minute, that's Conan," he said. "I stepped out of character here for a second."
Posted by the Flea at 08:20 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2004

The Fascist Ideology of Star Trek


Dr. Kelley L. Ross offers some most satisfying criticism of speculative fiction's greatest sacred cow.

Too much of Star Trek has always reflected trendy leftist political sentiments. It was appropriate that John Lennon's "Imagine" should have been sung at the 30th Anniversary television special: Capitalism and religion get little more respect from Star Trek than they do from Lennon. Profit simply cannot be mentioned without a sneer.

And then... Mike Campbell comments.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)

Be it resolved

Be it resolved that Babylon 5 is the greatest science fiction television series of all time (Firefly comes close).

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (1)

Alien vs Predator redux

Get your Lovecraft on in this latest non-metal version of the Alien vs Predator trailer.

Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM | TrackBack (0)

Halo 2

For all your Halo 2 preview needs.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM | TrackBack (0)

One Word

My one word was café.

cafe first of all I don't know where the special key is to make that french accent thing over the letter e. this limits anything I could have to say about the word seeing as I can't even type it properly. other than that. coffee. the seine. morning newspaper. baguette.
Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM | TrackBack (0)

Stuck In A Room With Artoo

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (plenty more where that came from... including a video).

Posted by the Flea at 08:20 AM | TrackBack (0)

99 Rooms

A creepy and compulsive tour through a surreal warehouse. This has a Clive Barker feel to it.

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

Internet policy

Crooked Timber considers a survey of Canadian political parties on internet-related policy such as "IP protection, file-sharing, open source, identity cards and use of Internet materials in education."

Most political parties don’t understand technology issues well enough to figure out where they really stand on them, so ideology isn’t a good predictor of policy in this area. Secondary point; tech issues are too minority to really matter in a general election.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun

Posted by the Flea at 08:01 AM | TrackBack (0)

Shorter waiting times

They were the best of times. They were the worst of times. They were "shorter waiting times"? Such was the message spelled out in alternating lines with the Liberal Party logo in this morning's coverage of our Prime Minister on campaign. We live in epic times. Madmen fly aircraft into buildings and private astronauts fly into space. Cutting a few days off hospital visits for those of us choosing not to fly down the States for the same privilege seems like a small issue for small imaginations. Paul Martin thinks "shorter waiting times" is the issue that might animate the Canadian people and carry him back into office. Sadly, he may be correct.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun

Posted by the Flea at 08:00 AM | TrackBack (0)


What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? .

You're paranoid, and perhaps a bit whacked. Your life experience has made you an introvert. Though you're a true friend, who retains promises and the past in the palm of your hand, you need to let it go -- staying anal retentive forever is not the anwer.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

A trifle vulgar but good advice nonetheless (via Informatsiooni stardirada).

Posted by the Flea at 08:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

June 22, 2004

The future


Affordable, private spaceflight. Astonishing. Of course, this also means affordable, private intercontinental ballistic missiles. Downer. But with something that looks Buck Rogers cool just about any risk is worth taking.

And then... Julian Sanchez hopes the "first private astronauts were blasting this on their way up."

Posted by the Flea at 08:55 AM | TrackBack (0)

Bonfire 51

Johnny Storm lights the Bonfire at Apropos of Something.

Posted by the Flea at 08:46 AM | TrackBack (0)


This Thing maquette is reportedly not the model for the forthcoming film. Nice job though.

Posted by the Flea at 08:45 AM | TrackBack (0)


The gallery of Super-Dudes is now open.

Every summer Metropolis, IL holds their annual Superman Festival. Celebrity guests show up, sign autographs and pose for photos, fan events are held, super-hero-themed vehicles are on display, the Superman Museum is open to visit... and there's always a few people dressed as the Man of Steel himself. These enigmatic men are the stuff of legend, referred to affectionately as the "Super-Dudes."
Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | TrackBack (0)

Exene Cervenka

So Exene Cervenka is Viggo Mortensen's ex. Who knew?

Posted by the Flea at 08:39 AM | TrackBack (0)


The brains behind Euro 2004 (via Attu).

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Build it and they will come

Oxygen isotope analysis spots some Welshmen among remains found at Boscombe Down near Stonehenge.

The finding, which comes just before Sunday's summer solstice, not only sheds light on Stonehenge's origins, but also provides clues to prehistoric migration patterns within Europe following the Stone Age, which was the earliest known period in human culture.

This Discovery Channel article reports asks "Stonehenge: Built by Welshmen?" At 2300 years old, however, this makes them tourists at - rather than builders of - the ancient monument.

And then... Contemporary Stonehenge at dawn. Lovely.

Posted by the Flea at 08:26 AM | TrackBack (0)

McClellan's bodyguard

Fascinating thoughts about President Lincoln, General McClellan and the Army of the Potomac at Regions of Mind. Suzanne Fields is cited on "the young Napoleon" of 1864 and today's hapless Democratic candidate.

Mr. Kerry as flawed military hero running for president recalls another flawed hero running for president. George B. McClellan ought to have been everything the Democrats could have asked for as their candidate in 1864.
Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 21, 2004

The White Witch


The first of the new Narnia movies starts filming June 28 with a scheduled US release for December 2005. Banners from a New York licensing show are a first glimpse into this new interpretation of Lewis' world.

The level of detail shown in these banners is promising. It's looking more and more like the level of care taken with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This is great news for Narnia fans all around the world. We've been waiting for a long time to see great films of the books we know and love, and this production is shaping up to be a dream come true.

This is the first I have learned Tilda Swinton is cast as the White Witch. If you have seen The Beach or The Last of England you know how creepy she can be. Perfect.

Posted by the Flea at 08:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Two Things

The Two Things about cultural anthropology.

1. It's all relative.
2. It's all relatives.

Posted by the Flea at 08:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Well put together 3D racing game. Too bad I am no good at racing games.

Posted by the Flea at 08:45 AM | TrackBack (0)


This Telegraph taxonomy of English football hooligans is worth reading if only for its excellent Mekon metaphor. And an excellent Singapore suggestion.

No other species so unfailingly lives up to its national reputation as the English soccer hooligan. The French do not always produce good cuisine, Italian grand opera occasionally disappoints, and Spanish bullfighters sometimes have the machismo of Norman Wisdom. But the English football thug is utterly reliable: drunken, witless, boorish, and if arrested, whinging - moreover, as anyone who has witnessed the real thing in Northern Ireland can testify, not even a particularly adept or plucky rioter.
Posted by the Flea at 08:36 AM | TrackBack (0)

England Anthem

Unofficial, of course. I like the Keep-Uppy game too.

Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | TrackBack (0)

USS Razorback

USS Razorback is returning from Turkey to become a museum.

The story sounds like Disney fiction: a group of aging veterans set out to rescue their beloved boat from the scrap heap by striking a deal to buy it from the Turkish navy and sail it home, where it will come to rest as a maritime museum.

"We're just a bunch of old submarine vets who have found ourselves a toy," said the white-haired Bellevueman. "I can't think of anything more fun."
Posted by the Flea at 08:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

June 19, 2004

Carla Bruni


Every once in a while I find an album I only allow myself to listen to once a day. Well, maybe twice. Without that rule I would burn out my cd player with "quelqu'un m'a dit".

Posted by the Flea at 11:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Silent Running reviews the strait-to-dvd release Starship Troopers II. I like to watch films with a fresh eye so only read enough of the review to know things were looking bad before renting the accursed thing. My own review follows in the extended entry.

Bad from minute one. It is amazing to learn what it feels like as your IQ drops. I felt like this movie was literally lobomotimizing me as I watched it. This was not just bad. It was boring. I would like to say that never have so many decent movies been ripped off so badly for so little entertainment value. But the truth that Starship Troopers II was merely awful. A hideous pastiche of the first film (itself a rip-off), Aliens, Mimic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Pitch Black and The Thing. Even a Jean-Luc Picard line is abused. But this is no Zardoz. And it is too stupid to have the ideological offensiveness of the Paul Verhoeven effort.

There are hot naked people and there is plenty of bug splattery for those who enjoy that sort of thing. For some reason the troopers in this one all have George Michael facial hair. I admit this does feature the best ever use of a microwave oven in a movie.

Now off to read the Silent Running review.

And then... Ha! One quote strikes me:

We will of course feel obliged to slam the very existence of this travesty and a lot of us will be sacrificing our Dr Who memorabilia in an effort to appease the one true god. RAH.

Robert Anson Heinlein inspires that reaction in many. There is an intensity to his work and he always manages to slap me in the face with his plot twists. I just read "Farnham's Folly", for example and am now taking a bath in PKD's "Our Friends from Frolix 8" to recover. "Farnham's Folly" is the first library paperback I have ever read that included hostile, scrawled book reviews on the last page.

"oh what a cheesy, jingoistic last line. gag!"
"bootleggers made America what it is, sedated Happy Sheple Nation"
"Heinlein misogynistic"

Can anyone shed light on why teenage women, often the daughter of the protagonist, throw themselves at the protagonist? Is there a hidden depth I am missing here?

Posted by the Flea at 10:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


The truth about Japanese restaurants.

Posted by the Flea at 10:52 AM | TrackBack (0)


A celebrity I have never heard of rejects kabbalah.

I’M not the only one bored by Kablahblahblahblah — KELLY BROOK has rejected the mystical cult after being introduced to it by MADONNA ... I mean, Esther.
Posted by the Flea at 10:49 AM | TrackBack (0)


Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


Attu offers an automotive suggestion. Hey, lets look at cars with our friends!

Posted by the Flea at 10:42 AM | TrackBack (0)

Driven by Precision

Two bodies. Two engines. One soul. The new Porsche 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S.

Posted by the Flea at 10:40 AM | TrackBack (0)

March 11

The timing of and response to the Madrid bombings were intended to influence the outcome of Spanish elections. They appear to have succeeded in their aim. There is a sick irony in thinking about the groups which mobilized to take advantage of the attack. These same conspiracoids of the left would have asked "qui bono" if it had not been the short-term interests of their parties that benefited.

It is important to consider the likely response of Canadian establishment, media and political groups to an attack in this country. For example, there are Toronto based protest groups that can mobilize a mob quickly. They managed to conjure up an attempt to storm Ontario's legislature in recent years. Would they choose to do so in the aftermath of an attack that left hundreds dead on the subway?

It is important to understand the shock that will ensue if and when Canada is attacked. The feelings of anger that follow could be turned to a resolute determination to stand up for responsible government and liberty. These same feelings can all too easily be twisted. We know what the media elites of this country have done with every story in the last two years of conflict. We can only imagine they will be ready to distort any atrocity to serve their own ends.

We need our arguments ready.

Posted by the Flea at 10:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

June 18, 2004

Jet Lag


"The web. It has no smell." Good point. Juliette Binoche is as charming as ever in Jet Lag, the latest in my Jean Reno film festival. This one finds him stranded in and about Charles de Gaul. CDG makes for a better airport film that that new Tom Hanks atrocity is likely to be. Watching Reno order room service is a thing of beauty. "Everything is so complicated in this country." It occurs to me as I am watching that their hotel is a Paris Hilton. Ha. I made a funny.

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM | TrackBack (0)

Uzg Bûrgulu-ob

For all your Black Speech of Mordor needs. Now repeat after me:

“Uglûk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob bûb-hosh skai!”

Posted by the Flea at 08:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Buffy resurrected

Buffy returns in animated form.

Defunct TV show Biffy The Vampire Slayer is set to be resurrected as a cartoon. Although Sarah Michelle Gellar will not reprise her leading role in the new series, creator Joss Whedon has reportedly recruited Giselle Loren - the video-game voice of Buffy - to speak for her in the pilot. Cast members Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon and Anthony Stewart Head are returning to voice the animated versions of their characters.
Posted by the Flea at 08:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


At first I could not even make out what this game wanted me to do. Then I figured it out and solved the puzzle in 178 moves. I imagine there is a more efficient solution.

Posted by the Flea at 08:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


A hitherto overlooked Japanese Spiderman television series. This is just wrong.

Spider-Man was the first series in which the hero uses a giant robot to defeat giant monsters. After Spider-Man beats up on the human sized monsters they turn into giants. Spider-Man then calls Marveller to fire missles at the monster and then transform into the giant robot "Leopardon". Leopardon uses various weapons to kill the monster. This concept proved so pupular that Toei added it there third Sentai series "Battle Fever J", which was originally planned to be "Captain Japan", based on Marvel's "Captain America".
Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Zombification and the power grid

Good question.

After watching Dawn of the Dead, I am left to wonder about one thing: If we were to suffer an apocalypse where most of the living became flesh-eating zombies, how long, assuming I survived, would I continue to receive hydroelectricity from my power company? Is it a mean-time-before-failure situation, or would the system automatically shut itself down after a few days? (I am assuming that most of the people who were supposed to be maintaining things at my hydro company would be out looking for brains, and that the surviving hydro employees would be busy digging shelters, etc.) Also, what's the outlook like for people whose chunk of the power grid is supplied by coal, nuclear, and other types of energy? Just wondering how many solar panels I should be putting on my roof!
Posted by the Flea at 08:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Sensual World

Belated Bloomsday thoughts reminded me of a Kate Bush tune. I have it on reliable authority that "The Sensual World" is based on Molly Bloom's soliloquy at the end of Ulysses though I should confess off the top here that I have never read the book. Bush' version is inspired by the piece rather than a strait quote as she was reportedly refused permission to go ahead by the Joyce estate. Jon Drukman and Jenn Turney recorded a fan version of the song using Joyce' original words. The slightly wobbly mp3 can be found here.

But when I applied for permission to use the words I was refused, so I was *extremely* disappointed. Then I had to rewrite the words trying to keep the same sense of sound, but obviously I'm not James Joyce, so it was a question of keeping the same shape and creating a new story. So it gradually turned into Molly Bloom stepping out of her speech in the book and into the real world. In the book she's a very sensual woman, and it was the idea of her stepping out of this black-and-white world into the real world and being hit by the power of the sensuality of the world, the environment, the elements.
Posted by the Flea at 08:20 AM | TrackBack (0)

Saint Lewinna

Cross-border shopping, miraculous relics and a thieving monk all came together in the Anglo-Saxon community of Bishopstone. A centuries long fight over which of a number of St. Andrew's churches got ripped off has at last been resolved to the content of archaeological experts.

An archaeologist has helped solve a medieval mystery about a thieving monk. Gabor Thomas' work has finally laid to rest a centuries-old argument about where in Sussex the errant monk did his pilfering.

The story began when a ship was forced to take shelter from a storm one Easter Sunday in the 11th Century and a monk among the passengers travelled to a nearby church to praise God. But he left with the remains of St Lewinna hidden in his luggage, which became a famed money-spinner for his monastery at Bergues, near Dunkirk.
Posted by the Flea at 08:16 AM | TrackBack (0)

Nuclear-powered aircraft

Some kind of newfangled quantum nucleonic reactor is supposed to make it possible for long term flight. Very useful for aerial surveillance and the forthcoming destruction of humanity by robots.

A jet engine is the essence of mechanical simplicity. Fuel and air are mixed, compressed and ignited. As the gas burns, it moves rapidly rearward, propelling the aircraft forward. Normally, this is done by burning jet fuel, which is exactly what the new nuclear plane will do when it takes off, climbs and lands.
Posted by the Flea at 08:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 17, 2004

Cross of St George


England, a people of faith in the face of adversity. St. George's flag, a symbol of that faith, is enjoying a newfound popularity thanks to its association with England's national religion. Unfortunately, that same flag has claimed by xenophobes who would pervert both the Christian message and arguably less ecumenical message of football (via the Melbourne Truth of blogs).

"The National Front used the St George's flag in pathetic imitation of Nazi rallies," says Michael Faul, a vexillologist, or flag expert. "They tried to put themselves forward as the real patriots and some people unfortunately accepted that identification. In doing so, they let the far Right get away with this lie."

A council in Cheshire which last year tried to prevent its town hall flying the "too nationalistic" Cross of St George was subjected to national ridicule. Last April the Asian mayor of Pendle, Lancs, defiantly ran the St George's flag up his council HQ's pole. Mohammed Iqbal, 32, explained: "That'll piss off the BNP."

The Telegraph points to such diverse uses of the flag while the Guardian worries about everything from associations with racism to points off driving licences. It should stop to wonder at the racism expressed by burning that same symbol. The cross of St. George, like any symbol, must be understood in context if it is to be understood at all. The English are alarmed by flag waving of any kind and there is good reason to be suspicious of nationalist feelings given the grotequeries of the National Front. That said, I see this new sense of English nationalism as a natural counterpart to greater sovereignty for Scotland and Wales and a growing appreciation for regional histories that had been subsumed into larger transnational states.

We have something analogous to think about in recent discussions in the Canadian blogosphere. The Tiger in Winter makes an important point about the Canadian Red Ensign. I suppose it is inevitable racist morons should want to make use of it. Let's take it back.

And then... The Telegraph's Craig Brown explains.

A number of Way of the World readers have written to me expressing their irritation with those little Red Cross flags which can still be seen flapping about on passing cars. Many have asked me what these flags mean. I'm glad to be of help. The flags have been attached to the cars under strict instructions from the Government's chief medical officer. They are all part of a "name and shame" initiative to tackle the growing problem of clinical obesity. Each flag signals that the driver of the vehicle is clinically obese, and would welcome help from passers-by in conquering the problem.
Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Map of Springfield

Damian links to a map of Springfield. Better yet, he debates its accuracy by way of citing Simpsons canon. Most satisfying. The map's author offers an explanation for ineitable inconsistencies.

While the placement of most locations is arbitrary, many are placed according to where they appear in relationship to each other in specific episodes of The Simpsons. In some cases 'one-time references' to specific locations have been disregarded in favor of others more often repeated. Due to the many inconsistencies among episodes, the map will never be completely accurate.

I just wanted to know what state Springfield is in. Ask and it shall be given unto you (thanks to one of Damian's readers).

Posted by the Flea at 08:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


In 30 seconds and, yes, re-enacted by bunnies.

This ship can't sink!
Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | TrackBack (0)

Internet TV forum

Plenty of webcasts out there demonstrating there is some truly awful television produced around the world. Fun to watch footy coverage from Haiti and the Faroe Islands though.

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Foreign Fingers

More nonverbal communication for the traveller.

Posted by the Flea at 08:31 AM | TrackBack (0)

Acronym Finder

Find out what those pesky acronyms and abbreviations stand for.

Posted by the Flea at 08:30 AM | TrackBack (0)

This Wonderful Life

Set shields on schmaltz. But with exquisite rendering of facial expressions the angst is called for.

This short film was presented at the Electronic Theater at Siggraph this year in San Diego. A troubled young woman finds an unexpected surprise in this highly emotional and beautiful tale. This short film features some of the most advanced and complex facial expressions I have ever seen Truly impressive both technically and artistically. Armed with nothing but his trusty Athlon 1.4 Ghz, 3ds max and a lot of patience, created this true little masterpiece. Bravo!
Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM | TrackBack (0)

Splinter Cell

The bathroom simulation is particularly realistic.

Following his last most successful mission, A member of the Third Echelon has been out celebrating with his mates.

Despite a 11pm curfew imposed by his girlfriend, he has returned home very late, having forgotten his keys he must now gain entrance to his flat and get into bed without upsetting his light sleeping girlfriend.
Posted by the Flea at 08:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

HMS Roughs

I recently met someone who I was told had been doing computer work at Sealand, a supposedly independent territory sitting off the Thames estuary. I confess I am rather less curious about the sovereignty of the wreck than I am about its history during the War. A chain of Maunsell sea forts built to protect the Thames and Humber estuaries found new life in pirate radio. I cannot imagine the remaining two would be comfortable to live on.

Posted by the Flea at 08:24 AM | TrackBack (0)

Friendly Dictators

This Friendly Dictators trading cards world map leaves Canada blank. We should probably throw something in there before anyone figures out VRWC HQ is north of the border.

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

French Polynesia


Vive le Maohi libre!

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 16, 2004



Ben-Gurion University geologist Dr. Yossi Hatzor has lead a team to study the stability of King Herod's three-tiered fortress palace at Masada. I had never seen a model of the place before and had failed to appreciate how spectacular it must have looked when it was new. Neat.

"They built under complex topographical conditions, and understood the structure of the hill and the influence of the cracks. The water systems built into the rock were well planned," he said. "His builders knew how to hew underground chambers without support, and they are still standing."
Posted by the Flea at 08:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

The Shatner

Sadly, reports that Canada is to introduce a Star Trek based five-dollar coin featuring William Shatner are not serious. Except that thing about changing Sir Wilfrid Laurier to look like Mr. Spock. We really do that (hat tip to Fred).

William Shatner was chosen to be represented on the coin because of his status as a hero to Canadians, and especially the science fiction community, which makes up approximately 80% of the Canadian population. Most Canadian coins are composed of standard base metals. However with Shatner on the face, they thought it more appropriate to go with a heavier metal, and ultimately chose a nickel-plated tritanium alloy.

Shatner beamed with joy when told he had been selected to be on the face of the coin. "I can't...tell you...how happy I am," he said in halting English. "No bones about it. I hope these coins...live long...and prosper...like my career."
Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Cookie Mongoloid

A metal cover of "C is for Cookie" is only the beginning (via Attu).

Cookie Mongoloid is Sesame Speed Metal! See the Cookie Mongoloid in all his blue, furry, googly-eyed glory backed by the baddest of gender mixed metal bands as they decimate and regurgitate your childhood favorites in an abrasive metal wrath. See their harem of gothic gyrators, the Cookies, demonstrate such elemental concepts as up and down in a blaze of lights, smoke and pyrotechnic cookie shrapnel.
Posted by the Flea at 08:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | TrackBack (0)


On-line gaming in its purest form. How long can you stay away from being crushed? My personal best is 7.3 seconds.

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)


I know this looks like quite a bit of work but it is about half as much as goes into my appearance before the Flea gets underway in the morning. It is my firm believe that all blogging is best in a jacket and tie.

Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Canucks #22

The latest Carnival of the Canucks features photography...

Posted by the Flea at 08:32 AM | TrackBack (0)

Identity crisis

So if Ith is Paul and Paul is me that makes me Ith. QED. See? No need for fancy DNS lookups and such. Then again, we could all be sock puppets of the VRWC. And would we even know? Would we?

Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


You are


"I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. . . . And more than anything in my life I wanted to keep it safe, to warm it with my own.""

What "Buffy" Character Are You?

So this thing thinks I am most like Angel. Must be my view that justice should be "poetic -- emphasis on the "Poe".

Posted by the Flea at 08:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

June 15, 2004

English language debate


Reflections on today's English language debate mean yet another day of Canadian federal election coverage for the Flea's international readers. Sorry about that. Here is a picture of Kate Beckinsale while we wait. I am quite confident she would be fascinated with Canadian federal politics if she had any reason to think about the socialist backwater we call home.

Wondering just who will be in the debate line-up lead me to make the mistake of looking that the Green Party of Canada's "10 key values" list. It is no less than I deserve for listening to that "fiscally responsible, socially progressive" line they are selling. Looking down the list there is plenty that, parsed differently, I would agree with. It could be the "near enemy" problem or it could be there is only so much syrupy sweetness I can take in at once. "Like the people of the First Nations, we must consider the welfare of our descendents, for seven generations, if we are to be wise stewards of the earth." You have got to be kidding me. Noble, meet savage. Savage, noble. Turning people into Ewoks does not make you progressive it makes you racist.

Seriously, where do I get my Green Party dreamcatcher to inspire me when I am revising tax policy? Reading Green makes me long for barbequed dolphin. Maybe Anthony could offer some advice. This is red meat so I am looking for... what, a merlot to go with?

Watch this space...

Posted by the Flea at 07:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

The Crimson Rivers


The latest in my Jean Reno film festival is The Crimson Rivers and this one scared the heck out of me. Seriously creepy. The Université de Guernon is a bit like going to Overlook University and "the Vow of Shadows" makes a gothic plot device for game masters everywhere... An NRO review aptly compares the film to Seven and offers a sound critique (as does this review) but offers frustrating spoilers so I would leave it until after.

Posted by the Flea at 06:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


An original on-line game. Could be addictive.

Fire an atom amongst gravity sources. To advance a level, the atom must survive the given time without collisions.
Posted by the Flea at 05:55 AM | TrackBack (0)

Sacrificial Chamber

TheMovieBox.net features an MTV clip from the forthcoming Blade: Trinity. Ho hum. By contrast, a most promising I, Robot trailer from Japanese tv. After looking at both I now know there is only one cool way to land if you are going to jump out a window and crunch into the pavement below. I was worried this thing might be another A.I. debacle. Man, that movie sucked (both via Ain't It Cool News).

Elsewhere at the Flea's movie corner... The official Catwoman site is up and running. I suppose an IMAX-scale Halle Berry would be impressive. The latest Alien Vs Predator trailer has some head banging potential. And a Sub-Mariner movie is in the works.

The Sub-Mariner is Prince Namor, warlord of the underwater civilisation of Atlantis – a preening, arrogant, strutting superhuman figure with super-strength, the ability to fly and a nifty pair of swimming trunks (and wings on his heels). He's actually Marvel's longest-running character, kicking his winged heels around since 1939, although he's struggled to establish himself as a premier Marvel A-lister like Spider-Man or The Hulk. He's perhaps best known as a friend/foe of the Fantastic Four and member of The Avengers.
Posted by the Flea at 05:50 AM | TrackBack (0)


Images of Phoebe, a moon of Saturn, support the idea it is a captured comet.

The new pictures show that most of the moon is dark, but impacts have blasted holes in the surface to reveal much brighter material underneath, which is probably a mixture of ices. So Phoebe looks like a dirty snowball - the term coined to describe comets.

NASA has more on the Cassini-Huygens mission on-line including an animation of Phoebe here. Next up: Saturn by the first of July and an astonishing passage as the spacecraft crosses through the large gap between the F Ring and G Ring.

The main rings--D, C, B, A, and F--are quite bright and incredibly thin, no more than 10-30 meters thick compared to their expanse of 275 thousand kilometers across. (If the A ring was as wide as a football field, it would be as thick as a piece of tissue paper.)

Because the rings are bright, they must be made of chunks of icy material; because the rings are so thin, the chunks must be small, no more than a couple of meters across at most, and frequent collisions between ring particles would tend to break big chunks into smaller ones. In fact, little moonlets may constantly form and be broken apart. Cassini should be able to watch this happen.

And then... The Blue Revolution has more...

Posted by the Flea at 05:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Gmail is still in beta and it is already causing ripples. I notice my old Yahoo! mail account had its storage increased 25-fold sometime last night. Nice. Unfortunately, those new 96mg still feel a bit cramped next to my 1000mb of Gmail. Soon I will be able to download my consciousness to Gmail and have extra room to access skills in motorcycle repair, medieval French of the langue d'Oc and wicked, wicked martial arts moves off "the internet". I can use broadband wifi to control the remaining wetware I keep around for irony/nostalgia purposes.

Posted by the Flea at 05:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


This Rense article claims ten United States carriers are now at sea. Are we to make anything of this? The source is suspect but stopped clock, twice a day, etc. The number would appear to exceed the seven carriers planned to take part in Summer Pulse 2004. Rense claims much of the Royal Navy has also put to sea... Anyone with a vacation home in Syria or holding Iranian energy stocks should take time to consider their investment portfolio.

Posted by the Flea at 05:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

Michael Moore Hates America

Trailers from an example of authentic independent cinema.

Contrary to its title, Michael Moore Hates America isn’t a hatchet job on the filmmaker. It’s a journey across the nation where we meet celebrities, scholars and average folks alike, and we find out whether the American Dream is still alive! In the process, we’ll look at Michael Moore’s claims about the country, its people, and our way of life.
Posted by the Flea at 05:35 AM | TrackBack (0)

Remember this

If you ever wonder that there might be an end to human depravity in celebrating the suffering of others then remember this and this and this because the answer, sadly, is no. I can only think the people responsible for this stuff are broken in some way. To think they were probably much like Hobbits once.

Posted by the Flea at 05:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Jane Austen

You aren't a Jane Austen Character!
What are you doing here? You aren't in any
of Jane Austen's novels! Go find another quiz!

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

That looks about right. Mike Campbell, on the other hands, fits right in though I am certain he should have been Darcy.

Posted by the Flea at 05:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

June 14, 2004

All about me


If ***Dave jumped off a bridge I would too so I thought answering these questions looked like a good idea.

1. What image is on your desktop? (include a screen capture if you can!)
I am running through Buffy/Angel characters. Today it's Willow.

2. Which websites do you visit most? (gimme links!)
Google image searches and Drudge Report.

3. What are you obsessed by?
Making the perfect omelette.

4. Name one artist/musician/writer that inspires you (pick one or more)?
Frank Herbert.

5. What are you working on now (outside of your journal)?
A book project.

6. What do you read in bed?
Right now I am reading The Dilbert Principle.

7. Favorite city? Why?
London. Everything I need can be found in Zone 1 and Zone 2.

8. To you, what qualifies as a good celebration?
Business meetings involving mojitos.

9. If you only had 3 albums of music to take to a desert island, what would they be and why?
I would rather leave them. Anything I took would be ruined for me in short order.

10. If you could do anything else with your life, what would it be?
Discover Ghost of a flea in the blogroll at InstaPundit.

11. What keeps you awake at night?
There used to be squirrels in the attic but having discouraged them I sleep just fine.

12. And finally, any famous last words?
Semper ubi sub ubi.

But enough about me. What do you think of me?

Posted by the Flea at 08:59 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (1)

Favorite Fictional Characters

John Hawkins' latest survey asked bloggers to select their favourite fictional characters. I am delighted to see Doctor Who made the list, sorry to say my own list left out Mike the computer and notice the Dark Knight once again cleans the floor with the Man of Steel.

Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Eurotrip June 25th

In case anyone is unclear on why the English are loved and respected everywhere. Or what I sound like cycling through downtown Toronto. Or what I think of that 2-1 result yesterday. Not work safe unless you have headphones.

And then... Instant link rot... vexed again!

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM | TrackBack (0)

McEuro 2004 England Song

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM | TrackBack (0)

B of the Bang

The soon to be tallest sculpture in the UK. This is an art/construction project with its own weblog.

B of the Bang is a competition winning sculpture for the City of Manchester Stadium where the 2002 Commonwealth Games were hosted, now the home of Manchester City Football Club.
Posted by the Flea at 08:45 AM | TrackBack (0)

Robin of Sherwood Box Set

Yes please (via The Wildhunt).

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Miss Euro 2004

The other European challenge features a Canadian representative to Portugal.

The menfolk may be doing battle on the field, but another contest rages on the other side of the white lines. Which football nation is represented by the most comely lady? Here, we present 16 luscious females, each of whom has a (very) tenuous link to football and ask: just who has the hottest totty?
Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | TrackBack (0)


Test your popup killing software. Does anyone have a favourite?

Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Challenger Deep

I am Challenger Deep!
Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

This insight arrives via the new look philosopher of Classical Values.

Posted by the Flea at 08:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 12, 2004

Forget me not


Anne Frank should have turned 75 today.

Dear Henny,
It is of little worth what I offer you. Pluck roses on earth and forget me not.
Posted by the Flea at 11:24 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Dibbuk Box

Structural analysis allows anthropologists to make sense of a story by thinking through patterns of difference, opposition and transformation in the narrative. This way of approaching stories works best with folk-tales or genre fiction whose power comes from a satisfying rendition of things we already know to be true... True in a mythic sense, that is. The story of a haunted relic coming to light at an estate sale in September of 2001 would be fun to think through. This is great story: Pandora's Box meets the Hope Diamond.

I purchased the wine cabinet, along with the sewing box and some other furniture at the estate sale. After the sale, I was approached by the woman's granddaughter who said, I see you got the dibbuk box. She was referring to the wine cabinet. I asked her what a dibbuk box was, and she told me that when she was growing up, her grandmother always kept the wine cabinet in her sewing room. It was always shut, and set in a place that was out of reach. The grandmother always called it the dibbuk box. When the girl asked her grandmother what was inside, her grandmother spit three times through her fingers said, a dibbuk, and keselim. The grandmother went on to tell the girl that the wine cabinet was never, ever, to be opened.

The most basic opposition lies in the nature of the demon reportedly inhabiting the box. A dybbuk is a "clasper", it clings on to you. So what do you do with such a demon? Try to give it away. Or sell it. Assuming this is a tall tale made up to lend an air of mystery to an otherwise innocuous eBay sale it is still a clever bit of advertising. There is also some nice psychology at work in the tale. When I am told about a haunted box I won't be able to get rid of my first urge is to buy the thing.

Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Setting Sun

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:23 AM | TrackBack (0)

The Offside Rule

In case anyone is unclear on FIFA's recent clarification of the offside rule.

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM | TrackBack (0)

Fact or fiction

Fun with urban legends.

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Victoria's secret

If you think animated Flea icons are creepy wait until you see this...

Emily then showed Nick something that would SHOCK and APPALL him. He quickly grabbed the magazine from her hands and she told him to look at page 78. He quickly turned to to the page, pictured below, and saw it for himself.

Take a look for yourself. Notice anything?
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Do Not Disturb

A wonderfully creepy film with a poignant epilogue.

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The Illustrated Enemy

A view of Europe from the Germany of 1914 in map form.

Consider this 1914 German map of Europe, the Germans (in blue) and their Austrian allies (yellow) look relatively normal, without the grotesque or otherwise distorted heads and bodies found associated with the other European nations depicted.
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Some sunset

See? It's catching on!

He was, as you know, a famously optimistic man. Sometimes such optimism leads you to see the world as you wish it were as opposed to how it really is. At a certain point in his presidency, dad decided he was going to revive the thumbs up gesture. So he went all over the country, of course, giving everybody the thumbs up.
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June 11, 2004



The Vidocq Society is not as exclusive as the reclusive Council of a Flea. But close.

An unusual, exclusive crime-solving organization meets monthly on the top floor of the historic Public Ledger Building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In a famed walnut-paneled meeting room, members of The Vidocq Society honor Eugène François Vidocq, the brilliant 18th century French detective who served the Sûreté, by applying their collective forensic skills and experience to "cold case" homicides and unsolved deaths. At Vidocq meetings Vidocq Society Members (V.S.M.'s) evaluate, investigate, refocus, revivify and solve the unsolved deaths officially brought to them.

I am on about M. Vidocq because of a surreal, wonderful film whose hero is based nominally on the famous detective. Jean-Christophe Comar (that's Pitof in the credits) is a special effects man turned director. Think Moulin Rouge meets The Matrix. Possibly the ultimate Flea flic. The French trailer has fallen down the memory hole along with the official movie site (shouldn't there be an archive of that sort of thing?) but Rue can enjoy the dubbed Italian version.

And then... I looks like Pitof also directed the new Catwoman. This is the first news that has made me curious to see it.

And then... The Waybackmachine is in effect.

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Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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The trailer for a forthcoming horror flick. I am glad Cary Elwes is getting work but this looks absolutely repulsive.

Horror-thrillers are all the rage in Hollywood right now, but some genre devotees have been disappointed by the industry's "light" approach to horror fare – keeping films "safe" and well within the tolerance level of mainstream audiences. Well, here's a film that is not the least bit concerned with your comfort...
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I managed 174 out of 200 on Peter Schmies's word classification test. But that was only by making informed guesses from Latin derivatives. Wild guesses made up much of the rest. Time to sit down with a dictionary (via Chaos Central).

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Traffic signs

A morality tale.

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The European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) has... wait for it... extracted an ice core from Antarctica. This particular core is almost 3km long, or rather, deep thereby doubling the previous record and providing knowledge of atmospheric conditions dating back 740,000 years. Information about the eight ice ages that happened through that time may give us a better idea of how long term climate change comes about.

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Remote Control Jammer

If only we had Gameboy and Walkman jammers.

You need never again sit through "Changing Rooms" and "Ally McBeal" when you know the football is on the other side. With the Remote Control Jammer, what you say goes.
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How to disappear to Cartegana.

We were sitting in the Restaurant San Pedro the night before and the Frenchman was telling me that I shouldn't write about Cartagena. "Don't tell anyone about this place," he said, "we don't want anyone to know about it." He indicating me as part of the we with a encompassing gesture of his arm. He wasn't drunk yet, though he was working on it. "That's where Mick Jagger stays." he said, pointing to a room above the restaurant. "Nobody knows he comes here?" I asked. "Nobody, that's why you've got to keep this place a secret." he replied.

"Listen Jacques," I said, trying to reassure him, "nobody will come here even if I write about it. You can write about these places and maybe one in a thousand will ever come here, and then maybe one in ten thousand will ever end up living here. It's a bit of fact that I picked up a long time ago. Lot's of people are looking for a castle in Bulgaria they can buy for $35,000 but if someone actually shows them where to find a castle in Bulgaria only one in a hundred thousand will ever go to look at it, and perhaps one in a million has the guts to really buy such a thing." He looked uncertain, glancing around at the plaza like a shepard guarding his flock.
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June 10, 2004



This is the new Batmobile and it is all "bat-pimped out."

It cost millions to design and produce, and it actually works, its creators at Warner Bros. said.

"It has to get up to 220 mph to get airborne, but then it can jump 20, 30, maybe 40 feet," said Charles Roven, producer of the upcoming Batman movie.

Forty feet?
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Bathtime in Clerkenwell

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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For all your Bond villain secret fortress needs.

Express your global strategy with a massive sphere designed for public places.

Sweet. Flea Mansions could certainly use a desktop Mars globe. I wonder how tricky it would be to make an Arrakis globe prop...

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Just the thing for a Thursday afternoon at the office.

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Virtual Staring Contest

A particularly tedious on-line game but it did remind me to look for the watching paint dry reality tv show I had read about somewhere.

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The XYZ Digital Map Company sells reproductions of Operation Overlord reconnaissance imagery.

June 6th, 1944, (time unkown) West of La Rivière at King Red Sector. This aerial photograph shows large numbers of British troops landing on Gold beach.

Impressive. But the Aerial Reconnaissance Archive (TARA) at the University of Keele has over five million images available on-line.

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Le blog de Polyscopique reports the crocodile tears of a union leader fretting about the foundations of a "democratic Québec." Laurent's post demonstrates two profoundly different uses of the term democracy.

In the first month of my life as an undergraduate the student newspaper announced our school fees included a contribution to a political action group based on campus. The charge was voluntary but, thoughtfully, imposed in advance. Anyone who did not wish to support this particular political action group had to go to their offices in the student centre for a refund. To be clear, we are talking about three or four bucks. Not a lot of money and I imagine many people could not be bothered to get their money back. To be clear, I imagine this was precisely the point of imposing a levy in advance.

My personality being remarkably consistent down the years, I trooped off to the office to get my money. Sure it was three or four bucks but it was three or four bucks that had been taken without my permission and applied to an organization whose political philosophy was not known to me. Suffice to say this was not a campus Monarchist Club. I was told I had to read a pamphlet and sign off - literally check boxes - on which of the hundreds of worthy causes pursued by this organization met with my ire and to write an explanation of why I was going to deny them their much needed funds.

The ensuing argument with the director is irritating to relate even ten years later. I will leave it to you to imagine the steely fanatic staring contest... this gig was a full time job for her after all. I refused to debate the finer points of my hatred for bunnies and light that had lead me to wanting my three or four bucks. "But you voted for this!" No I didn't. "Yes you did. The students voted for this fee last year." I am a first year student. I was not at this university last year. "But you voted for it anyway. The students voted for it!"

So spoke the voice of the beehive.

Communists invariably refer to their dictatorships as democracies. To folks like this the will of the people is only ever expressed by the whim of intellectuals and never by the people themselves. I see this as being directly analogous to media studies scholars who offer a sneering denial when I ask them if they ever, like, watch television or cultural studies profs who would not be caught dead eating breakfast at McDonald's. It is astonishing to me that so many intellectuals have such evident contempt for the opinions of the people for whom they claim to speak.

Posted by the Flea at 08:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Asymmetric war reporting

Reason takes on journalists reporting on military affairs who know next to nothing about the military (via QandO).

The news stories you saw in the wake of the attacks alleging that the institutions of U.S. national security entirely failed to foresee their possibility were sometimes written by the same people who wrote the earlier stories describing -- in some cases dismissing -- the warnings. It’s a fair guess that there are some awfully frustrated people in the military and intelligence communities right now.

But a posture of surprise in the face of widely available facts isn’t really all that shocking, since it has a very particular utility to both the government and the media. It is, at just this moment, a comfort, and one that can be meshed neatly with the other popular media fictions about U.S. military potency. If they didn’t see it coming, then the problem is one of foresight and the faulty prescience of a bunch of desk jockeys, rather than operational power. The eggheads in intelligence dropped the ball, but the warrior types are ready to make up for it.

But what does it mean if we did see it coming, and still couldn’t stop it?

Good question. This is where the blogosphere enters the picture... In network on network warfare blog reporting is part of the battlespace.

Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 09, 2004

Taylor & Company

Eloquent and informed, Chris Taylor now has a new home on "the internet". Anthony, Paul and I have been cited as blogfathers. Three men and a bloggy? I am not sure that sort of co-parenting is recognized under Canadian law.

My name's Taylor. The story you are about to see is true; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
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Soap Bubble

This sort of game drives me mental. Send it to your obsessive compulsive workmates to reduce their productivity thereby making you look good!

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Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (encore presentation).

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Guiness Storehouse

Is Guinness black or ruby red?

Before your journey begins, ask yourself everything you ever wanted to know about Guinness. Now let yourself discover the answers.
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Never say, 'Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia'. I'm scared of that word; it's too long!

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Jacques Chirac

A reason to think better of French President Jacques Chirac (no, seriously).

Mr Coleman, 86, left Matamata late last week to attend the D-Day commemorations in France. He travelled alone because ill health prevented his wife Clare from accompanying him.

But his return to Paris after the ceremonies at Arromanches went awry when he got on the wrong bus. He ended up at a remote airport where the rest of the veterans on the bus boarded a waiting plane. Lost and unable to speak French, Mr Coleman approached "this important-looking guy wearing gold braid" inside the terminal.
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A study by Swedish thinktank Timbro represents "a grave critique of European economic policy" (via Dodgeblogium).

If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states. France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany have lower GDP per capita than all but four of the states in the United States. In fact, GDP per capita is lower in the vast majority of the EU-countries (EU 15) than in most of the individual American states. This puts Europeans at a level of prosperity on par with states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia. Only the miniscule country of Luxembourg has higher per capita GDP than the average state in the USA.
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Sirius Flea


Approach with extreme caution!
Do not attempt to use
magic against this man!

And then... Hmm... have to do something about the house wards. Taylor & Company is coming perilously close to Flea Mansions.

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June 08, 2004



Bubble bubble
toil and trouble
fire burn and cauldron bubble
something wicked this way comes!


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Still Loving You

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Warp 11

Resistance is futile when it comes to relishing the eclectic sound of Warp 11.

Oh, when we get together we boldly go
Talk about our favorite episodes
I don't want to go to work
Just want to hang with Captain Kirk
And if I had my way I'd make it so
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The Engraveyard

Without the miracle of "the internet" I might never have heard of US military payment certificates. Or other tiny pictures made with wavy lines (and I had to Google Abel Gance to get the reference).

I had no intention of collecting foreign money; I confined myself to a few US bills and some military money. But when an entire collection came up for sale at a downtown coin shop, I couldn’t resist. Some of these bills are beautiful; others are just - plain - odd, and others both.

This is my favourite. No wait, this one.

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Architecture, graphics, and film come together at KDLAB.

This short film postulates the evolution of the personal media device and experience. “iSPEC” is KDLAB’s vision for the next generation of iPOD, which allows the user to immerse himself into the film of his choice. In “iSPEC”, the user is plunged into the Colorado Lounge from Kubrick’s film “The Shining”.
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A bold, eccentric lady is tending the Bonfire this week.

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We've gotta have more cowbell.

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Light from a passing meteor is recorded on several security cameras.

It was earthquake scientists rather than astronomers who figured out exactly where in the sky a meteor exploded early yesterday, causing a brilliant flash seen from Oregon to British Columbia.

"We located the burst northeast of Snohomish," said Bill Steele, spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network at the University of Washington.
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Type 039

The Type 039 "Song" class submarine is the latest addition to the navy of China. StrategyPage reports claims this new class is equipped with "Air Independent Propulsion".

On June 3rd, Wuhan Shipyard held a public celebration in honor of its 75th anniversary. At this ceremony, a PLAN (Chinese navy) Type 039 (code name Song) class submarine was displayed which, it is said, had Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). This came as a shock to American naval intelligence analysts, who, until this announcement, were saying that the Chinese had no AIP, and were not likely to have it for 5-10 years. This new Song class submarine variant is wider at the engine section, indicating installation of a new propulsion system. The Chinese say it is AIP, a technology that allows a submarine to stay underwater for weeks at a time, and is quieter than nuclear propulsion.
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Special Branch

I am glad Special Branch is paying attention. I also think it is hilarious the guy is in a Clash tribute band. This must have confirmed everything he has ever believed about the government and his importance in the scheme of things.

Mike Devine, 35, from Bristol, said he was approached by the officer at work and shown a copy of a message including the words "gun" and "jet airliner". The bassist in a Clash tribute group meant to text the lyric from the band's song Tommy Gun to singer Reg Shaw - but sent the message to the wrong number.
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June 07, 2004


You're Allison Reynolds! "the basketcase" quiet and shy, you stay in the shadows. That is until you blurt out something random and Wierd. You're artistic and misunderstood. If only people would take the time to listen or notice you...

Which Breakfast Club Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

My answers were selective but that really does sound like lunch to me (Captain Crunch, oh yes!). And Gawker, I would make tracks for an Ally Sheedy poetry reading.

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Hella Good

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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The Quest For The Rest

A beautiful game to promote a new Beatles-ish album by The Polyphonic Spree.

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TV Intros

Al je favoriete TV intro's op 1 pagina.

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Marvel for the eyes

The earliest known map using the name of England is to go on display at the Bodleian Library.

A previously unknown medieval Arabic map with the earliest representation of an identified 'England' - a tiny, egg-shaped lump - is to go on public display in Oxford. The unique and, until now, unseen map is part of a manuscript called the Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels, which was originally put together, probably in the Nile Delta region, at some point before AD1050 and was then copied around 150 years later in Egypt.
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I am baffled at this apparent ongoing fascination with Atlantis. Who cares?

Satellite photos of a salt marsh region known as Marisma de Hinojos near the city of Cadiz show two rectangular structures in the mud and parts of concentric rings that may once have surrounded them.

"Plato wrote of an island of five stades (925m) diameter that was surrounded by several circular structures - concentric rings - some consisting of Earth and the others of water. We have in the photos concentric rings just as Plato described," Dr Kuehne told BBC News Online.
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Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury offers a frank opinion of Michael Moore. Moore's latest tries to steal the goodwill accorded to Bradbury's classic "Fahrenheit 451". Bradbury wishes he could have made Moore change the title (via Chaos Central).

Do you think that is possible, I mean the movie is very famous under that title now?

- Who cares? Nobody will see his movie, it is almost dead already. Nevermind, nobody cares.

But it won the Palme d'Or in Cannes?

- So what? I have won prizes in different places and they are mostly meaningless. The people there hate us, which is why they gave him the d'Or. It's a meaningless prize.
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D-Day panoramas

A number of panoramic views from operation Overlord.

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The tyranny of the jackass

David Warren offers a different perspective on tyranny.

Sixty years later, the world is changed. Peace has brought the tyranny of the jackass, aptly symbolized by his anti-smoking by-laws. We have forgotten everything. For instance, that freedom is laughter. That it's a glass of whisky, an off-colour joke. That freedom was freedom when freedom was a smoke.
Posted by the Flea at 08:29 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 06, 2004

Some tyranny

A necessary rant at Tonecluster (via Daimnation!).

Lets see: what's it like to live under tyranny? Well, I have a photo of those two great-uncles, probably from around 1919. They're in their young 20s, but look much older. They're thin. Emaciated, haven't-eaten-much-in-months thin. They're leaning on the new gravestone of their sister. It's just after WWI, and sometime just after or during the Russian civil war. They'd been marched at gunpoint to serve in the Czar's army, were captured by Germans, spent time in a POW camp, and released back to Russia where they found their sister and mother killed.

Now, lets see.. when I was 18, no one marched me at gunpoint to serve in the Army and the government didn't kill my sister. Funny-odd kind of tyranny we have here, huh?
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June 05, 2004



King Arthur: the trailer. Let's have another look at Guinevere shall we?

A complaint... The Flash interface for the King Arthur website has interactive runes. Nice, except these are alphabet of the invading English not Arthur's Britons, i.e. Welsh. The Druids, the Brithonic priest caste, used ogham script when they felt the need to write something. Or, according to a studious observer of the Gauls, yet another non-Germanic alphabet.

Once there they are said to have to learn by heart a great deal of poetry; indeed many stay on in training for twenty years. They consider it wrong to commit all these things to writing, though in other matters, indeed both in public and private documents they use the Greek alphabet. Presumably they do this for two reasons; first, because they do not want the details of their training to become common knowledge; and secondly, because they feel that once these details were written down those undegoing training would be less inclined to develop their memory. (Most people find that once they rely on the written word they pay less attention to learning by heart.)

- Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico

And then... I am now wondering if those runes appear on Caladvwlch (Caliburn in Latin... Excalibur, that is) itself. Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed it was forged at Avalon, hardly a spot for Saxon runes. Shuddersome. Worse yet is the reported nationality of Arthur. The article has some very general spoilers if that sort of thing worries you.

“I love the pictures of Guinevere in her leather bikini — but historically accurate? Please, someone, give Arthur a break!”

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Dark Tower

All that was lost is now found thanks to the miracle of "the internet".

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Roadside Ambition

The true story of one small town with a huge pair of balls. I will not rest until I have been to Alexandria, Indiana.

Since 1977, Mike Carmichael has been painting, what started out as, a baseball. Sometimes, he's painted the ball 8 - 10 times a day. Today, the ball of paint is over 103" in circumference, weighs over 900 lbs. and is 32 inches in diameter.
Posted by the Flea at 01:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Kabbalah of the blogosphere

So that is why it is the blogosphere...

If I'm infringing his copyright then...ah....I'll send him some mystical Silent Running Kabbalah water by mail. One bottle is worth, oh, I don't know, $3,000 bucks. Plus some Silent Running Kabbalistic, er, paperclips! Yeah, paperclips, that's it. Valued at $100 each.
Posted by the Flea at 01:07 PM | TrackBack (0)

Light writing

Want. This. Nokia 3220.

Nokia is making a mobile that lets you write short text messages in mid-air. The messages are written using a row of LEDs fitted on the rear cover of Nokia's forthcoming 3220 phone.

A motion sensor in the phone makes the lights blink in a sequence that spells out letters when the handset is waved in the air. A trick of human vision turns the sequence of letters into a message that hangs in the air.
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Redstone Arsenal

A tradition of excellence.

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June 04, 2004

Corinthian helmet

I once had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at the pub with Robert Holdstock, author of Mythago Wood. That book alone is half the reason I went on to study anthropology... I asked him how he managed to evoke such realism in his neolithic and bronze age settings even down to fragments of lost languages. The short answer was that he is good at making things up. Part of the process involves visits to the British Museum to see period objects. The thing to remember about those objects is that they are museum pieces now but in their own time and place they were as everyday, as much a part of the fabric of life, as the chairs we sat in or the pint glasses in our hands. A helmet in a display case at the British Museum is not just a priceless piece of antiquity. It actually belonged to someone. Someone who wore it, sweated in it, perhaps died wearing it.

Such objects are also continuing sources of inspiration. This Corinthian helmet, currently on display at the Manchester Museum, would do nicely.

The helmet was made of a single piece of bronze, 27 centuries ago, heated and hammered and annealed by a technique used as late as the Florentine renaissance but now lost for ever. It was forged from an alloy of copper and tin, with traces of lead and iron.

The noseguard is a 19th-century mix of copper and zinc, probably welded to the helmet after it was unearthed from a temple sanctuary such as at Olympia in Greece. Invisible traces of quartz, calcite, gypsum and feldspar, the dust of its resting place for more than two millennia, cling to the bronze. There has been some corrosion, but that stopped long ago. Known to the Greeks as a Corinthian helmet, it was probably tailor-made for one careful owner in an unknown Greek city state in the 7th century BC. It went into battle with him, protected him from bronze swords and lances, and when he died, in Greek ritual fashion it may well have died with him.
Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Come Together

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (with a karaoke option only a click away).

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM | TrackBack (0)

Shaun Of The Dead

Have you ever felt you were turning into a zombie? Maybe you're not alone.

A hero must arise from his sofa.

Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM | TrackBack (0)


Long years of wandering in the desert of the real has brought us at long last to this.

Tron: the rock opera.

I am a scientist,
so strong is my heart
This orange has molecules,
I’ll break them apart
I’ll take a laser beam
Fire it through the air
Cubify everything
Render it into squares Ooooo…
Watch it disappear Ooooo…
It’s no longer here
Where did it go?
It’s inside the computer now
(We uploaded citrus fruit today)
Posted by the Flea at 08:40 AM | TrackBack (0)

Bonfire 48

The Bonfire is crackling away at PoliBlog.

Cap'n! We canna take the strain!

Posted by the Flea at 08:39 AM | TrackBack (0)

Atomic Bombing

How to protect yourself from an atomic bomb.

Most important is a conviction that each of us must keep before him: Come what may, the world will continue in its orbit, peopled by human beings who will carry on the civilization so painfully evolved through the ages.
Posted by the Flea at 08:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

City data

United States city statistics for all your urban planning recreation needs.

We've collected and analyzed data from numerous sources to create as complete and interesting profiles of thousands of U.S. cities as we could. We have thousands of pictures, maps, satellite photos, stats about residents (race, income, ancestries, education, employment...), geographical data, crime data, weather, hospitals, schools, libraries, airports, radio and TV stations, zip codes, area codes, user-submitted facts, similar cities list, comparisons to averages...
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High-speed take-down

Toronto! Car chase! Frozen food! A textbook stop in accordance with provincial regulations and highway conditions at the time!

Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | TrackBack (0)

June 03, 2004



The Transplanted Texan explains how Canadians and Americans both managed to win the War of 1812. So... everybody here knows why it is the White House, right? Ok, I make joke. Canadians take this stuff far too seriously considering Canada did not exist at the time. This was a British victory and, to quote Tony Blair, "I know this is kind of late, but sorry."

It has been dismissed as an irreconcilable disagreement - the Canadians won't budge, and the Americans won't admit defeat - and it has thus been abandoned to the realms of sniping commentary (as was evidenced in my Canadian Lit class on Monday, during which the professor recalled that "Americans never seem to remember that we won the War of 1812"). But as I was thinking about it, I came to a realization. The two countries are approaching the event with two entirely different sets of assumptions and perspectives.
Posted by the Flea at 08:55 AM | TrackBack (0)

Hey Boy Hey Girl

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Exploding Whale

I had wondered if there was anything to that exploding whale story.

There's been a story floating around the net for years about a beached whale that was blown up (exploded, not inflated) for lack of a better way to be rid of it. Many people thought it was an urban legend.

It wasn't.

That is all very well, you may ask, but is there an exploding whale video? Yes.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


One of the most frequent search results leading to the Flea is kartoffelcanone, or potato-bazookas. IOD Air Cannons is a manufacturer of combustion potato/spud guns and air/pneumatic cannons. Their video-clip page mean I finally get to see a spud-gun in action.

Combustion potato/spud guns, air/pneumatic cannons, etc are very dangerous! A high level of safety is required to build and operate these cannons. They will maim, if not kill you if you are being stupid! NEVER, EVER point a loaded or even unloaded cannon as someone else!
Posted by the Flea at 08:40 AM | TrackBack (0)

Memorial Dedication

INDC Journal presents a two-part report on this weekend's War World II Memorial dedication in Washington, D.C. It is a tour de force.

"You know the Higgins barges? I came down off an LCI, down the ropes on each side, into a barge, and these barges hold about 30 troops. And they take you as close as they can to the shoreline without getting stuck in the sand, ok? They lower that front end down, you go out. Well, I was a platoon seargent, and we had men, that ... well, I've heard, "did you cry when you had to land?" And I said "No, how can you lead men into battle if you are a crybaby?" So they had some guys that was cryin' a little bit, and I don't blame 'em, I was scared too; the hair on my head was standin' straight up."
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Up or down

This is worth repeating.

You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or a right. There is only an up or down: up to man's age-old dream -- the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

Ronald Reagan, Republican National Convention, 1964
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The redesigned Ghost of a flea looks fine in IE but is suffering column creep in Opera (hat tip to Varenius). I would be grateful for thoughts and suggestions! Also, if anyone is reading the Flea with Netscape please let me know if things are working...

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June 02, 2004



Excavations have recovered an engine and control from a Hurricane buried in Buckingham Palace Road during the War. The story of how it came to be buried in the forecourt of Victoria Station is something else.

The Battle of Britain was raging over the skies of London when pilot Ray Holmes spotted the German Dornier bomber on September 15, 1940. Historians believe the German plane may have been on a mission to destroy Buckingham Palace.

Holmes had run out of ammunition so he flew his Hurricane directly into the German plane. He managed to use his aircraft to slice off the bomber's tail and parachuted out of his plane before it hit Buckingham Palace Road. The Dornier plunged into part of Victoria Station.
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Now it the time at the Flea when we dance.

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Dear Brian

A woman writes to her brother, a firefighter lost on September 11. The Daily Blitz points to the entry for May 25.

The guy on the radio was talking about all of the emergency response people flooding downtown, so I did a mental inventory. Brother #1 was at work. Brother #2 was at work. Brother #3 was home. Ok, that was good. K’s job didn’t really respond to that sort of thing, or so I thought, so that was good. I called your firehouse, and got a recording that all circuits were busy. I hit redial, and it went through. When someone picked up the other end, the only word that would come out of my mouth was “Brian?”.

“You just missed him, Sweetheart.” A heavy, Brooklyn accent. I still have no idea who it was. I wasn't able to say anything back, But “You just missed him, Sweetheart” is one of those things that’s burned into my brain. I can still, to this day, hear it. I can still feel it. Because I didn’t respond, he went on to explain that you had just left. You had all just left. I think I said “Ok”, or something, and I guess at some point he hung up, and I was just sitting there, holding an empty phone.
Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM | TrackBack (0)

Canucks #20

The latest edition of Carnival of the Canucks is hot off the presses and vaguely maple-scented at Circadian Shift.

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Christian Exodus

It is a peculiar reading of the 10th amendment that would seek to overturn state marriage laws by further amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. At least this move is logically coherent if unlikely to get anywhere (via White Pebble).

Christians must now draw a line in the sand and unite in a sovereign state to dissolve our bond with the current union comprised as the United States of America.
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To Premier Dalton McGuinty

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation hosts an online petition.

Mr. Premier, you have failed to respect the will of the people who elected you. You have lost the trust Ontarians placed in you to safeguard their hard-earned tax dollars.

We, the undersigned taxpayers, call on the government of Ontario to repeal these taxes and not raise them again without consultation, not run deficits, and uphold the Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act.
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June 01, 2004



Olivier Martinez is reported to have bought Kylie a classic BMW as a surprise gift. Reports are sketchy about the model though it is said to be a cabriolet of some description.

Further googling produced little more about the car but an alarming revelation that Kylie Minogue has five planets in Gemini. Terrifying.

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Chill Out

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Some Kind of Monster

For all your Metallica rockumentary needs.

Metallica is... you might look at it as a friend... to me it has been a beast.
Posted by the Flea at 08:54 AM | TrackBack (0)


The Rhino RTV is a new class of off-road vehicle that is larger than an ATV, yet smaller and more nimble than an ATV.

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Virtual Circle Line

Take a trip on the Circle Line thanks to the wonder that is "the internet".

On a beautiful summer Saturday, I went for a three-hour cruise around Manhattan so I could get to know my adopted city better.
Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | TrackBack (0)

Dates and battles

And the virtue of computer strategy games. Recent tests suggest UK schoolchildren have lost the plot of D-Day.

It is 1899 and Denzel Washington, the American president, orders Anne Frank and her troops to storm the beaches of Nazi-occupied New Zealand.

This may not be how you remember D-Day but for a worrying number of Britain's children this is the confused scenario they associate with the events of June 6, 1944.
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On Michael Moore

"He's a pain in the ass slug. He needs his ass kicked." - Dennis Miller

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"Even if Saddam has these weapons, so what?"

Ahh, French simplisme.

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